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Archive for August 14th, 2007

Happy Birthday, Mom!

Tuesday, August 14th, 2007

momat72small.jpgMom made another trip around the sun! She was born prematurely on the Iron Range of Minnesota (about an hour north of Duluth) 73 years ago. (Yes, she tells her age, and anyone looking as good as she always has, really has a duty to the rest of us to demonstrate how good one can look at any age.)

Her mother took extra-special care of her while she was tiny and out of range of a large hospital. Grandma Illa had a degree in Public Health and that may have been the perfect thing to have studied, when keeping a tiny one healthy and thriving in those early years. I’m grateful.

Mom is the best reading teacher I know. I’ve heard more than one person say “Liz can teach a rock to read.” She really is dedicated to helping “her little guys” learn, even and especially when they struggle.

Even though she has been retired for more than a decade, she still volunteers at schools both in Michigan and Florida (depending on the time of year) to help kids get a solid start early in their reading journey. I know she has changed hundreds, perhaps thousands, of lives. (As a matter of fact, both Eric/brother and I were reading by the age of 4, thanks to Mom.)

She also is a very creative soul and loves color a lot. I know now that I got that color-love from my Mom. She favors similar colors to mine, though hers tend to be slightly lighter… aqua instead of turquoise if given a choice, perhaps, though we both adore hot pink. And she loves intense deep blues with a tinge of green in them, where I tend toward turquoise or purple. (I took this photo a year ago in her home, for her 72nd birthday. See what I mean about her color sense?)

Mom is a great dancer, always has loved ballroom dancing. My Dad was not a really good dancer, in fact he would try to trip her up on the dance floor just for fun, and she rarely stumbled.

Now that she and Fred have been partners for a long time (maybe two decades by now?) they have really been dancing up a storm. They sometimes square dance as well as ballroom styles. In Florida they often win big piles of dance medals in the Polk County Senior Games (it’s like a senior olympics, and is the largest one in the state of Florida).

I was raised by a strong woman, a tough cookie when needed. She did things alone without comment (she was widowed at age 38, when I was 14 and Eric was one week before his 13th birthday). She traveled alone frequently enough that I never thought that was unusual.

She was the first woman I remember on our block to have her own car (a Chevy Corvair, gold, which we called “The Putt Putt”) and the first mom I noticed who had a full-time job. She had been a teacher before she married my father, it was the one thing she always knew she wanted to do… so when we were in late elementary school she went back to her life’s calling. Go, Mom!

Mom taught me to embroider, and sew the 4-H way (which means very very well). My first sewing project was a culotte bodysuit, with zipper and patch pockets (she never told me this might seem hard to someone else). She taught me how to make a crochet chain, how to darn socks, and how to repair a run in a commercially-knit sweater, all before I reached middle school.

When I learned to knit in 5th grade from Mr. Johnson, she made sure I got yarn. She took me to the next town where there was a five and dime and I was allowed to choose two colors (only two… it was excruciatingly hard but I ended up with kelly green and turquoise). Mind you, this was in a life that generally did not travel out of our own village.

Mom always supported and encouraged creative pursuits and reading of any sort. I think that was a great way to grow up.

Happy, Happy, Birthday, Mom! I wouldn’t have learned to be this strong (or colorful) without you.

“I want to show women – and men – that if you’re over 35, or 40, or 45, whatever age, you can still be a pistol.

–Ann-Margret, Chicago Tribune 4/22/2001

Local Folks, Come on Out Tuesday Night!

Tuesday, August 14th, 2007

If you are in the Lansing, Michigan area and interested in fiber or wool or knitting or feltmaking, or just curious about what I do with my focus and my time… I’m presenting a program to the Haslett Public Library Needle Nuts on Tuesday August 14 at 7pm. You can get location information on the Capital Area District Library website.

I will be talking about felt, how wool can be made into a relatively solid, dense fabric/textile. This can be done in several ways. I’ll bring several examples and do a little demo. We’ll talk shrunken-knitting, loose-fiber wet felting, and needle felting. I think we will have a wonderful, marvelous time! We sure did last time I was there, in December, when I talked about combining yarns and colors.

I hope to see some of you there. Let me know if you read my blog, you will make my day!!!