lest we forget

better world, experiences, family, just a thought, knitting, quilting

Greetings from Normandy, France where it’s D-Day.

Our family is here visiting Bill’s sister and her family. When Bill asked what I wanted to see in Normandy, I immediately responded, “The Beaches.” As the grand-daughter and step-grand-daughter of two admirals in the Navy who fought against Japan in WWII, I wanted to see where those thousands of brave soldiers landed and how they made history.

In the preceding weeks I showed our young daughter pictures, maps and diagrams of why WWII started and what the Normandy invasion was all about. We went to the First Division Museum in Cantigny, Illinois and I told her, “We’ll have lots of fun in France, but I want you to take 10 minutes out of your happy life and think about what those soldiers did in the name of freedom.”

We knew that we’d be going to the cemetery as well so we bought small American flags for each member of the two families. When we got there I offered one to everyone in the group suggesting that if they wanted they could find a tombstone against which they could put their flags. I gave no directives, just a suggestion that we think about who we would want to honor with our flags.We commented as we walked at the diversity of the names on those tombstones.

I chose the unknown soldier above. Another chose a nurse, while others chose soldiers with names that matched theirs or ones that had no particular significance but just felt right.

In the guest book I wrote, “With admiration and gratitude.” Others wrote simply, “Humbling.” It seems like so long ago and yet when you’re here, it’s hallowed ground. It was a glorious day without a cloud in the sky. We stood in the bunkers and thought about all of the bravery, leadership and vision that it took to turn the tides of that sad war.

So here’s my plan: I’m starting to knit a superwash wool neck gaitor for a soldier fighting in Afghanistan which I will finish by the end of the summer to get it there in time for winter. I’m also going to make a quilt for Quilts of Valor. I hope you too will do something to honor those who serve our country.

On this auspicious day I’ll be thinking about the inspiring words I read on the entry to the Omaha Beach Memorial:

‘You can manufacture weapons and you can purchase ammunition but you can’t buy valor and you can’t pull heroes off an assembly line.” – Sgt. John B. Ellery of the US 1st Infantry Division

folding a memory box

design, experiences, inspiration, just a thought, paper arts

Longtime readers of Craft Nectar may remember my post last December on the unexpected death of my dear friend Tina Lillig. Tina was the National Director of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd program in the US. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Good Shepherd program, it’s an amazing Montessori-based Christian education program for children 3-12.

Tina was also the co-leader of the Level III class in our church and I had been her assistant last year. So when she died it seemed that the best way to honor her would be to carry on her work with her class after her death. It’s impossible to say that I replaced Tina, because no one else can do what she did, but I joined Tina’s co-leader at the time and we finished out the year, which ended this morning.

Last week we had no particular presentations on the agenda so I decided to introduce a new activity given the unexpected way the year went for all of us following Tina’s death. Our class of 9-12 year olds likes making things, which is consistent with the program. So last week I told the children that we had discussed a lot of important topics this year and of course we had lost Tina. It seemed like a good time, I told them, to think about what memories we want to take with us at the end of the year. And we would need something to put those memories in, I explained.

I pulled out two sizes of origami paper for each child, one about 1/8″ smaller than the other. I told them that we would be making something to hold our memories but that we would be doing it in silence so we could meditate on which memories we would want to keep. I set out on the table before them cards with all of the topics that we had discussed and all of the parables we had read. I also included Tina as a topic because I thought that this would give the kids a chance to write down what they wanted to remember about her. In a 3″x3″ origami box I put some small slips of vellum that the children would use to write or draw the things that they wanted to remember and would want to put in their boxes. Like the prayer books we made and their journals, these things would be private, I reminded them.

Prior to last week, I had spent a tremendous amount of time looking for lidded boxes in origami books that would be simple and fast for the children to fold without talking. After many attempts I decided to just cut down one size of origami paper so the base would be just small enough to fit inside the top if they were folded with the same method. Both the base and the top are made from two units that are combined to make a base or a lid.

At last it was time to fold. I did one fold at a time silently and then watched silently as the children repeated what I had done. When one got confused they were to hand it to me and I would silently fix the problem and hand it back to them. On the last piece of paper I folded the unit with the colored paper on the other side so the color would appear on the top of the box. The children worked in total silence for 45 minutes doing this and some stayed past the appointed time because they were enjoying this silent, contemplative project and weren’t ready to stop. We stayed with them a bit longer until they were ready to close up their boxes. It was a beautiful experience and I know that Tina would have loved to have seen it.

As it was to be a meditative process I didn’t want to photograph them working but recreated the box we made step by step for you below. Below is a tutorial of the lidded boxes we made based on a simple base that appeared in Tomoko Fuse’s book Joyful Origami Boxes.

Simple Box and Lid

you, me and facebook

design, experiences, just a thought, quilting

I totally blame it on the woman who showed up at our back door on a Sunday afternoon three years ago. We were hurrying to get our daughter ready for a choir performance. Our next door neighbor was having a yard sale when the woman asked her if she knew where the FunQuilts “shop” was.

Our neighbor explained what we have on our website. We do not operate a storefront and we only meet with clients who want to commission a quilt by appointment in our studio. The woman explained that she had driven for two hours to meet us and wanted to buy a kit. So she knocked on our back door anyway and asked us to meet with her and get a kit together for her. We explained that we were headed out the door and that we don’t operate a storefront. She persisted saying that she had driven a long way and that her local quilt shop (not a quilt shop we had ever heard of) told her that she could stop by our house anytime she wanted to. She seemed to think that we should blow off our daughter’s concert to meet with her. It was beyond awkward and she left angry.

People sometimes show up at our studio unannounced and others pull up in front of the studio, don’t see any signs and call us from their car trying to figure out how to get into our studio. Some people call ahead and want us to entertain their visiting mothers-in-law who are in town for a few days and others ask if they can just drop in for an impromptu trunk show. We used to agree to let people drop by but frequently found that they would stay for over an hour at times when we had deadlines to meet. Generally people understand when we tell them that we don’t operate a storefront and that we can’t always stop work to visit. Friends have suggested that we get a PO Box so people can’t find our house but the reality is that you can find most any address you want on the internet.

So when I joined Facebook at the beginning of last year I did so with the intention of connecting with distant friends and keeping up with events in my community. I figured that quilters would become fans of FunQuilts on Facebook and would have no interest in my personal Facebook page.

Then I started getting “friend” requests to my personal page from people I didn’t know. I started having flashbacks to the persistent woman that Sunday afternoon at our back door. Do I “friend” these people or not? If I “friend” them are they going to show up unannounced at my back door? Can I not have a personal life on Facebook? We’ve always had a clear separation between our personal life and FunQuilts but Facebook was really blurring all of that. I was very unsure how to handle it.

Sometimes I would “friend” people and other times I wouldn’t because I had just read an article that scared me and reminded me of the woman at my back door that Sunday afternoon. Every internet columnist said not to “friend” people you don’t know but I didn’t want to snub FunQuilts fans who decided to friend me instead of becoming a fan on the FunQuilts page. Then I worried about boring these people because I mostly put mundane information on Facebook such as what we had for dinner, what we’re up to this weekend or whether or not our daughter’s soccer team won that day. It’s stuff that family friends would care about but not necessarily a quilter I’ve never met.

Over the months I began to see how other quilters dealt with Facebook. Some use it as a way to direct traffic to their website, online store or blog. Others discuss both professional news and family events. Facebook helped me out toward the end of the year by offering privacy settings so I can share private family news with family members without boring everyone else.

So after thinking it over here’s my position: I’m going to put more FunQuilts news on the FunQuilts fan page this year so become a fan if you want quilt-related news such as what we’re working on, where we’re looking for inspiration, pictures of our latest quilt or where we’re teaching. If you want to know how my daughter’s swim meet went or who won the family Parcheesi tournament feel free to “friend” me and tell me that you’re a Craft Nectar reader. And know that if there more hours in the day and if I didn’t also have a child and business needing my attention that I really would accommodate everyone who wanted to drop by and chat.