Friday, September 28, 2007

Bouncing from Coast to Coast

a welcoming glowBy the time I arrived at the lovely B&B in Berkeley last Friday night, the sun had just about set. The cottage was located behind the main house, so I asked the shuttle driver to wait until I found my way. This welcoming light was all I needed (well that and the key), to know that I was "home". Being a quasi flower child of the 60s, I was excited to be staying in Berkeley. I had not realized that the East Bay Heritage Quilters were actually located in Berkeley - that some of their founding members were women that had inspired me when I started quilting in the 70s. I felt I had stepped back in time, both of the town and my own quilting history.

beautiful, historic campusI love college campuses, so when Roberta Horton said she would drive me through the campus, I was thrilled. A campus is like a bookstore - full of possibility and knowledge. And this one was full of history as well. I went to the campus bookstore and got the requisite college t-shirt for my son (who has recovered 100%, amen) and strolled through the gate to the plaza where so many protests took place. Back in the car, we drove past the Greek Theater where throngs of hippies from 16 to 66 were flocking, lining up for some event. In clothing I had not seen since the 60s, they came from every direction. I shouted out, "Who's here?" The reply was "Phil Lesh." And that meant nothing to me nor Roberta, nor a few others I asked that weekend. I had to Google him. When I was telling this to my son Chris last night, he knew instantly who Phil Lesh was....a founding member and base guitarist of the GRATEFUL DEAD. Deadheads! Darn. I would have loved to be there.

BerkeleyRoberta's tour took me to the top of the Berkeley hills where I could have a panoramic, yet foggy view of the Bay. Standing up there near the fault line, breathing in the scent of the eucalyptus trees, I wondered what it was like to live in a house hanging on the edge of a cliff in earthquake territory - and paying over a million dollars to do so! Give me my wooded east coast gently rolling hills any day.

a view into my retro cottage kitchenSo back to the was so charming. A blend of retro 30s and contemporary comfort, just 2 blocks for the "Gourmet Ghetto" on Shattuck, home to Chez Panisse, born in 1971, birthplace of the fresh, organic, California food movement. I was lucky enough to be treated to dinner there by Lorri Scott, fellow artist, teacher and friend. It was a welcome pleasure on a beautiful Saturday night after a day of teaching wonderful and talented students. My sightseeing day with Roberta was on Sunday and I taught again on Monday - another class full of talent and charm. The trip was capped off with a lecture to the guild (including some familiar faces) on Monday evening, back on top of the Berkeley Hills overlooking the sunset on the Bay. Could it get any better?

As I am writing this, my mother is still in post-op after successful surgery today to fuse fractured back vertebrae. As I said to her, I am sorry for all the cracks I stepped on which have now resulted in her broken back. It has been a long day at the hospital. Surgery was originally scheduled for 1:30 pm. Dad called at 9 to say they moved it to 10 and then they showed up for her at 1:30. After spending 2 hours with her in pre-op, they finally took her to the OR at 3:30. Now my sister & dad stand by awaiting her awakening. I have come home to tend my own little flock and try to do some organization and preparation for my next cross-country trip to Art & Soul in Portland, OR. Mom should go home on Monday and I board a plane on Wednesday. Huff, puff, huff, puff.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

One Solution: Buy New Shoes

On Monday I was emailing my contact at Golden Paints. She asked how things were going. I said, "They could be better." Her response was, "Maybe buy some new shoes." Funny thing is, I had done just that. Bought a pair on Friday from my always there, "need a fix" shop, and they were here by Monday. I was actually shopping for these but fell in love with the ones you see here, gracing my feet. OK I must confess, I bought the other ones too.....

Anyway, not only love at first sight, but comfort as well. And that metallic silver leather - to die for. The Naot's run larger than your usual US size, so for my 7.5 foot, I bought a 38 or US 7. The Royal Elastics run a size smaller, so I got the 8s. I have a LOT of standing up to do over the next month and while my still comfy El Naturalistas are still going strong, a girl can never have too many comfortable shoes, now can she?

My mother, who liked to call herself the Imelda Marcos of Maryland would approve of this. She is still in the hospital but improving daily and may be able to go home tomorrow or Friday. Home will be to the skilled nursing portion of their retirement home, but still, it's better than the hospital. Thank all of you for inquiring about her health or sending prayers. It's not as scary as my Labor Day weekend hospital adventure, but stressful nonetheless.

I'm off to Berkeley, CA on Friday for a wonderful weekend with the East Bay Heritage Quilters. When I return I hope to have some exciting news to share as well.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Looking Up

red sky at night, sailors delightIt had been a very scattered day, finding out early in the morning that my mother had been taken to the hospital. My sister was there with my Dad and nothing was too seriously wrong, so I stayed home and tried to work and stay ahead of my deadlines and teaching preparations. I would be there tomorrow. Tomorrow was soon enough.

I worked all day and got things basking in the glowdone but never really felt a sense of accomplishment - my mind was across the river with my mother. Back and forth, inside
and out, up and down stairs, hither and yon (really, I was yon). On one of my final up & down trips of the evening, passing the front door, I saw a rosy glow of light that drew me outside once again. My little spot of heaven was bathed in this warm glow...something that I know occurs with many sunsets, but is rare here inside these city walls. I had to capture it to serve as a reminder for me to keep looking at the world through rose-colored glasses, even when times are tough and stress runs high. As a reminder that everything is fleeting, not only the beauty of a sunset, I love how the porch lamp casts a magical shadow on the brickbut the worry that accompanies having a loved one in the hospital, the pre-trip preoccupations and crisp, cool fall evening such as this one that was presented to me as a gift from the Universe.

The pink sky disappeared all too fast and I cast my eyes downward only to find a new light, the welcoming glow from my own front porch and a golden (almost rosy) glow drawing me back inside. I felt more centered, calmer and secure, rewarded actually, by the blessing of the sunset - something I may have missed altogether if I had not looked up. Looking up. It's a phrase my dear friend and I use often. Better to look up. Train yourself to look up. Be always looking up. Look up to keep from feeling down. Life has loveliness to sell, all beautiful and splendid things, blue waves whitened on a cliff, soaring fire that sways and sings, and children's faces looking up, holding wonder like a cup. ~ Sara Teasdale

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

TV Land

I just finished watching Claudine on Martha Stewart and after my own experience yesterday, I have a whole new appreciation for what goes into the making of a TV show. And Claudine did it LIVE!

I was luckier, my 3 segments for Quilting Arts TV were taped. That means we could stop & start and correct anything that we flubbed. Not that we did that - well, OK, yes we did. But it was unrehearsed and unscripted, so all in all, we did very well. Francis getting ready in the green roomIt's pretty hard to get your point across in 90, or 180 seconds - which is all we had. By we, I mean me and the other guests that taped yesterday - Francis Holliday Alford and Judy Perez. Check out their blogs to get their version of the story.

The show will be on PBS stations by the end of December. It is supposed to be in the same time slot or replace America Sews, so check to see if and what time you get that show. I have discovered that for my area, it is only available on PBS digital channels. Looks like I'll be upgrading my cable service to digital cable. Not just to watch myself, mind you, but because with the talent lined up to be on this show, it's gonna be fantastic. Judy on the green room monitorIt really is the pages of Quilting Arts come to life. And I predict it won't just be of interest to quilters. All of you mixed media people out there will find loads of interesting techniques that you can apply to other things.

Surprisingly enough, I wasn't all that nervous. My biggest mistake was looking up towards the camera - like I would be looking up at my class when doing a demo. The rule on how-to shows is that the guest only looks at the host, mainly because the guest never knows which of the 3 cameras to look into and can look like a fool if they are talking to the center when the camera on the left is filming.

But by far the best part of the show was watching and realizing how far Pokey has come in the years I have known her. She calls me her "other mother" and I can't help but swell with pride to see my 5th daughter excel in everything she has set her heart and mind to. It's been a whirlwind year for her and I'm happy I get to catch the breeze.

My son continues to do well, the evenings are getting cooler, the days shorter. Beginning next Friday, I'll be travelling and teaching 24 out of the next 45 days - my own little whirlwind of sorts.

Sunday, September 09, 2007


sneak preview of what you'll see on TVWow. A week ago I was in the ER standing by my son. Today he is back to his usual routine and following up on some accident related vision and dental problems, but nothing major. Amen. He will have another CAT scan in 10 days but the DR thinks it will show that everything is OK...physically. Emotionally, I think we both have a new awareness and appreciation of the daily lives we can be so easily lulled into taking for granted. Your words of encouragement and support were just the hugs I needed to get through this. Thank you to each and everyone of you who either posted a comment or sent loving thoughts our way. It helped. It really did.

I am spending the rest of today scurrying like the squirrels outside my door, getting ready to film 3 segments for Quilting Arts TV on Tuesday. I'm flying to Cleveland tomorrow so this is my final day of prep. 3 segments = 3 times the work, but fortunately, I have been ultra inspired and working swiftly. I think it has been all backed up and is really spilling over now. Of course when I know anything about the show airing (on PBS stations), I'll pass it along. I think it's cool that I am filming my TV debut just one day before Claudine does her thing live on the Martha Stewart show, Wednesday, September 12. We'll have some fun stories to swap when we room together at Art & Soul next month.

June Elizabeth Proffit Jackson born 82 years ago todayStarting this week, I'll be out of town every other weekend for my last 4 teaching trips of 2008. I'm mentally geared up for the experience and wish I could say as much for the physical prep of packing and planning and preparation. One day at a step at a time. If I try to do/think about them all at the same time, it's overwhelming. So I'll just tackle each trip one-by-one. I'm off to organize and pack for TV land. Wish me luck!

Happy 82nd Birthday, Mom! (Now you all see where I get my white hair.)

Monday, September 03, 2007

36 Hours

hours earlier on the steps of the churchIt's the phone call no one wants to ever get. The one that shoots fear and adrenaline through your sleepy body at 3:30 in the morning. "This is Suburban Hospital Emergency Room. Your son has been in an auto accident. He appears to have no major injuries but he is not responding the way he should so we are going to do a CAT scan."

I was up, dressed and there within minutes and spent the next 15 hours by his side. It's the same emergency room I have taken almost every one of my children to over the years for stitches or once, a broken bone. Everyone but Chris. He has gone 22.5 years without the need for an ER visit. This was the first life-threatening situation I have experienced, but even beginning with the phone call, for some reason I was calm and confident that he would be OK. I have always trusted my inner knowing and at no time did I feel despair or worry. Well, OK, for about 5 minutes I was scared, but really, even then I had to chide myself because I just knew, really knew that everything would be OK. The whole experience was very surreal - tragedy, yet not. Are we really this lucky? Why was it our turn for a miracle? I am still trying to absorb it all. This is my diary of sorts, my journal, so read along if you wish, but I write this for me, to help me sort it all out, to help me understand the last 36 hours.

what I saw when I arrived - cellphone photoMy nephew got married Saturday afternoon at 3. The extended family is so large that only cousins over 21 were invited to go. Chris just made the cut-off. It was a beautiful day, beautiful bride, beautiful ceremony, a beautiful life. After the reception ended, the bride & groom and other "youngsters" continued the celebration at a nearby hotel. Chris had already planned to have a friend, his designated driver, pick him up so I went to bed tired and unworried.

When I got to the hospital he had already had his CAT scan. It showed a small concussion with a slight brain bleed. They would watch him and repeat the scan in 12 hours. Being Irish, Chris can hold a lot of alcohol. They couldn't tell whether his lack of response was due to the brain injury or his alcohol level. Not to mention that since he was a baby, he could sleep through anything. I spoke with the police officer and paramedic who responded to the accident. The driver was awake and alert as well and actually had called 911 when she saw that Chris was in trouble. The police and ambulance had arrived within 2 minutes. The officer told me they were lucky to be alive. It was the airbags and seatbelts that saved them. She had run off the road along a curve, crashing head-on into a utility pole. Her Volkswagon Jetta absorbed most of the impact. She suffered a broken nose and was able to be discharged with 3 hours. Chris escaped with just a few minor cuts but required intense monitoring for the next 12 hours. "75 of every 100 people who would have suffered a serious head injury in a crash are spared that fate because they wore seat belts and had air bags." 'Spared the fate'? I'd rather call it 'given the miracle.'

If I had seen them bring him in on the backboard, watch the trauma team surround him, watched them cut away his clothing, check his vitals and hook him up to monitors, I may have panicked. But by the time I arrived everything was under control and all we could do was wait and watch. They said that Labor Day is the busiest weekend in an ER. Because the ICU was also full as a result of the night before, Chris spent most of the day in the ER where I witnessed the ebb and flow of medical emergencies over a 12 hour period while I waited for Chris to wake up. When he finally awakened around noon the trauma nurse (angel) asked the standard questions: What's your name? What year is it? What month is it? Chris knew his name, but missed the year (2005? 2008?, ummm 2007?) and she let him slide when he said August since September had just appeared on the calendar. A couple of hours later he was fully awake and all of my fears were set aside when we talked. I told him what had happened, answered his questions, listened to him as the awareness of his situation sunk in. It was during that conversation that I realized I had my son back. That he would be whole and able and well...himself.

My children and husband came and went all afternoon. Each daughter arrived separately, tears overflowing as they saw their brother lying there so helpless and vunerable. The driver and her parents also came back later that afternoon - she needed to see and to know that her best friend was OK. I am truly thankful to the ER staff for allowing my large family unlimited access. At one point in the afternoon there were 6 of us in his small room that opened directly onto the nurses station - all 4 sisters, Dad and me.

36 hours have passed now and Chris is home here with us, sleeping peacefully. The whole right side of his body is sore, maybe there was a side airbag. The DR said he would be sore from muscles he didn't even know he had. Chris is determined to go to his classes at the University of MD School of Business tomorrow, but I will drive him until I know he is OK. He won't be waiting tables this week. He'll probably go back to his apartment tomorrow night, but maybe not, because after only living there 3 weeks, it isn't "home" yet. And you and I both know that a young man who has teetered on the edge of death or just escaped some life-altering injury needs the comfort, attention and security of home. And a mom, who once saw and heard her tiny son take his first breath, a mom who was often known to watch her sleeping infant - you know, to make sure he was still breathing - a mom who has just spent the last 36 hours watching the rise and fall of that same chest, noting every breath, needs the comfort and security that comes with having her son nearby.