Sunday, August 30, 2009

Chihuly, Again

Click here to go to the picture of Chihuly in the Desert and the quilt Mary Andrews made from that picture

Yesterday morning was a "TARGET SATURDAY" which meant free admission to the Flint Institute of Arts exhibit of Chihuly Seaforms. What a bonus - we chose this Saturday because my friends and family could join us to see the exhibit. It was so beautiful. The bowls within bowls within more bowls that were reflected in the shiny black tables were breathtaking.

I wanted to take pictures but the FIA does not allow pictures of the exhibit. I even thought about trying to take pictures anyway - but I just couldn't do it. So I have none to show here. However, I asked one of the workers, Susan, why they did this because I really need to get pictures of the exhibit so my cousin can make her interpretation of the work into quilted hangings for her Chihuly inspired exibit. It really helps Mary Lynn to see the piece from every angle to get the depth and color and shadows right. I explained to Susan that I had requested permission but had not heard back - she was nice enough to go on this blog to see one of Mary Lynn's Chihuly quilts and to forward my request (click the green link above to go to that picture). She said I should hear the beginning of this week. I can just picture the beautiful long table of yellow seaforms translated into a quilt.

Kennedy Funeral

I was gone yesterday so I taped the funeral of Senator Kennedy - it was a great tribute. No matter what your politics - to see his children give such testimony to his love and devotion as a father was so moving. The President's eulogy was so good that I wanted to post it:

Mrs. Kennedy, Kara, Edward, Patrick, Curran, Caroline, members of the Kennedy family, distinguished guests, and fellow citizens:

Today we say goodbye to the youngest child of Rose and Joseph Kennedy. The world will long remember their son Edward as the heir to a weighty legacy; a champion for those who had none; the soul of the Democratic Party; and the lion of the U.S. Senate — a man whose name graces nearly one thousand laws, and who penned more than three hundred himself.

But those of us who loved him, and ache with his passing, know Ted Kennedy by the other titles he held: Father. Brother. Husband. Uncle Teddy, or as he was often known to his younger nieces and nephews, "The Grand Fromage," or "The Big Cheese." I, like so many others in the city where he worked for nearly half a century, knew him as a colleague, a mentor, and above all, a friend.

Ted Kennedy was the baby of the family who became its patriarch; the restless dreamer who became its rock. He was the sunny, joyful child, who bore the brunt of his brothers' teasing, but learned quickly how to brush it off. When they tossed him off a boat because he didn't know what a jib was, six-year-old Teddy got back in and learned to sail. When a photographer asked the newly elected Bobby to step back at a press conference because he was casting a shadow on his younger brother, Teddy quipped, "It'll be the same in Washington."

This spirit of resilience and good humor would see Ted Kennedy through more pain and tragedy than most of us will ever know. He lost two siblings by the age of sixteen. He saw two more taken violently from the country that loved them. He said goodbye to his beloved sister, Eunice, in the final days of his own life. He narrowly survived a plane crash, watched two children struggle with cancer, buried three nephews, and experienced personal failings and setbacks in the most public way possible.

It is a string of events that would have broken a lesser man. And it would have been easy for Teddy to let himself become bitter and hardened; to surrender to self-pity and regret; to retreat from public life and live out his years in peaceful quiet. No one would have blamed him for that.

But that was not Ted Kennedy. As he told us, "Individual faults and frailties are no excuse to give in — and no exemption from the common obligation to give of ourselves." Indeed, Ted was the "Happy Warrior" that the poet William Wordsworth spoke of when he wrote:

As tempted more; more able to endure,
As more exposed to suffering and distress;
Thence, also, more alive to tenderness.

Through his own suffering, Ted Kennedy became more alive to the plight and suffering of others — the sick child who could not see a doctor; the young soldier sent to battle without armor; the citizen denied her rights because of what she looks like or who she loves or where she comes from. The landmark laws that he championed — the Civil Rights Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, immigration reform, children's health care, the Family and Medical Leave Act — all have a running thread. Ted Kennedy's life's work was not to champion those with wealth or power or special connections. It was to give a voice to those who were not heard; to add a rung to the ladder of opportunity; to make real the dream of our founding. He was given the gift of time that his brothers were not, and he used that gift to touch as many lives and right as many wrongs as the years would allow.

We can still hear his voice bellowing through the Senate chamber, face reddened, fist pounding the podium, a veritable force of nature, in support of health care or workers' rights or civil rights. And yet, while his causes became deeply personal, his disagreements never did. While he was seen by his fiercest critics as a partisan lightning rod, that is not the prism through which Ted Kennedy saw the world, nor was it the prism through which his colleagues saw him. He was a product of an age when the joy and nobility of politics prevented differences of party and philosophy from becoming barriers to cooperation and mutual respect — a time when adversaries still saw each other as patriots.

And that's how Ted Kennedy became the greatest legislator of our time. He did it by hewing to principle, but also by seeking compromise and common cause — not through dealmaking and horse-trading alone, but through friendship, and kindness, and humor. There was the time he courted Orrin Hatch's support for the Children's Health Insurance Program by having his chief of staff serenade the senator with a song Orrin had written himself; the time he delivered shamrock cookies on a china plate to sweeten up a crusty Republican colleague; and the famous story of how he won the support of a Texas committee chairman on an immigration bill. Teddy walked into a meeting with a plain manila envelope, and showed only the chairman that it was filled with the Texan's favorite cigars. When the negotiations were going well, he would inch the envelope closer to the chairman. When they weren't, he would pull it back. Before long, the deal was done.

It was only a few years ago, on St. Patrick's Day, when Teddy buttonholed me on the floor of the Senate for my support on a certain piece of legislation that was coming up for vote. I gave him my pledge, but expressed my skepticism that it would pass. But when the roll call was over, the bill garnered the votes it needed, and then some. I looked at Teddy with astonishment and asked how he had pulled it off. He just patted me on the back, and said "Luck of the Irish!"

Of course, luck had little to do with Ted Kennedy's legislative success, and he knew that. A few years ago, his father-in-law told him that he and Daniel Webster just might be the two greatest senators of all time. Without missing a beat, Teddy replied, "What did Webster do?"

But though it is Ted Kennedy's historic body of achievements we will remember, it is his giving heart that we will miss. It was the friend and colleague who was always the first to pick up the phone and say, "I'm sorry for your loss," or "I hope you feel better," or "What can I do to help?" It was the boss who was so adored by his staff that over five hundred spanning five decades showed up for his 75th birthday party. It was the man who sent birthday wishes and thank you notes and even his own paintings to so many who never imagined that a U.S. senator would take the time to think about someone like them. I have one of those paintings in my private study — a Cape Cod seascape that was a gift to a freshman legislator who happened to admire it when Ted Kennedy welcomed him into his office the first week he arrived in Washington; by the way, that's my second favorite gift from Teddy and Vicki after our dog Bo. And it seems like everyone has one of those stories — the ones that often start with "You wouldn't believe who called me today."

Ted Kennedy was the father who looked after not only his own three children, but John's and Bobby's as well. He took them camping and taught them to sail. He laughed and danced with them at birthdays and weddings; cried and mourned with them through hardship and tragedy; and passed on that same sense of service and selflessness that his parents had instilled in him. Shortly after Ted walked Caroline down the aisle and gave her away at the altar, he received a note from Jackie that read, "On you the carefree youngest brother fell a burden a hero would have begged to be spared. We are all going to make it because you were always there with your love."

Not only did the Kennedy family make it because of Ted's love — he made it because of theirs; and especially because of the love and the life he found in Vicki. After so much loss and so much sorrow, it could not have been easy for Ted Kennedy to risk his heart again. That he did is a testament to how deeply he loved this remarkable woman from Louisiana. And she didn't just love him back. As Ted would often acknowledge, Vicki saved him. She gave him strength and purpose; joy and friendship; and stood by him always, especially in those last, hardest days.

We cannot know for certain how long we have here. We cannot foresee the trials or misfortunes that will test us along the way. We cannot know God's plan for us.

What we can do is to live out our lives as best we can with purpose, and love, and joy. We can use each day to show those who are closest to us how much we care about them, and treat others with the kindness and respect that we wish for ourselves. We can learn from our mistakes and grow from our failures. And we can strive at all costs to make a better world, so that someday, if we are blessed with the chance to look back on our time here, we can know that we spent it well; that we made a difference; that our fleeting presence had a lasting impact on the lives of other human beings.

This is how Ted Kennedy lived. This is his legacy. He once said of his brother Bobby that he need not be idealized or enlarged in death beyond what he was in life, and I imagine he would say the same about himself. The greatest expectations were placed upon Ted Kennedy's shoulders because of who he was, but he surpassed them all because of who he became. We do not weep for him today because of the prestige attached to his name or his office. We weep because we loved this kind and tender hero who persevered through pain and tragedy — not for the sake of ambition or vanity; not for wealth or power; but only for the people and the country he loved.

In the days after September 11th, Teddy made it a point to personally call each one of the 177 families of this state who lost a loved one in the attack. But he didn't stop there. He kept calling and checking up on them. He fought through red tape to get them assistance and grief counseling. He invited them sailing, played with their children, and would write each family a letter whenever the anniversary of that terrible day came along. To one widow, he wrote the following:

"As you know so well, the passage of time never really heals the tragic memory of such a great loss, but we carry on, because we have to, because our loved one would want us to, and because there is still light to guide us in the world from the love they gave us."

We carry on.

Ted Kennedy has gone home now, guided by his faith and by the light of those he has loved and lost. At last he is with them once more, leaving those of us who grieve his passing with the memories he gave, the good he did, the dream he kept alive, and a single, enduring image — the image of a man on a boat; white mane tousled; smiling broadly as he sails into the wind, ready for what storms may come, carrying on toward some new and wondrous place just beyond the horizon. May God Bless Ted Kennedy, and may he rest in eternal peace.

Say Thank You

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The e's have it

That would be: Eagles, Egrets and Equestrians – in the heart of the City. Pat and I love to go to Wickes Park on the banks of the Saginaw River in the early evening hours. On a recent quiet Monday night there were three eagles sitting atop electrical towers, elegant white egrets and a couple of friends, in their cowboy hats, out riding their horses. It is such a treat to see this in the cool of the evening.

There are huge beautiful old willow trees, tall pines and oaks, lots of green grass and such a quiet and peacefulness in the park. Many people shy away from this park, however, we enjoy seeing the families fishing, people jogging, boaters boating and many people driving through the park. Maybe the wildlife comes there because there are not a lot of people – so go ahead and stay away – we love the peace and quiet and abundance of nature.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Great Weekend

We had such a fun weekend. On Friday Pat and I went to Harrisville to camp. On Saturday Jesse, Caroline, Javier, Ava and the dog came to camp for one night. Jesse wasn't too sure about wanting to camp for his first time but I think he had a great time.

Javier was so excited - he loved the three room tent - jumping in, running out, laughing and giggling. Ava loved being outside. But - she doesn't like to touch the grass with her feet so we put a blanket down so she could walk around the picnic table and to each of our chairs. She had a blast.

There was a stream running behind our campsite - it took Javier a little bit of time to get the courage up to get down to the stream but once he did he was so proud.

Even though the weather wasn't real warm we had a fabulous time. I even made a Power Ranger pancake for Javier for breakfast. (Of course you had to really use your imagination to see that Power Ranger!)

Then we trouped back to Midland for Pat's family reunion - that was fun too - everyone looks forward to the ball playing. You just get several pitches and see if you can hit the ball. Here is a great picture of Papa, Grandpa and Javier hitting the ball.

And then finally on Monday night we went to the Loons game. Jesse got the tickets and we love sitting on the lawn. Javier and Grandpa both had on their matching shorts and their Ordonez 30 jerseys.

I bet Javier was wondering what he would get to do today! So much to do in so little time!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Get Posting

OK – OK – you little lurker, Peggy. Here is an update for today.
We had such a nice day on Saturday. We went to Ann Arbor for the afternoon. We went shopping at all my favorite spots –

The Scrapbox

The Reuse Center

PTO Thrift Shop

Salvation Army.

Then we decided to splurge and stopped at Paesano’s for lunch.

(As we were actually on our way to the Tiger’s game we knew we would spend about the same amount of money at the stadium for hot dogs!) Pat had salmon wrapped in prosciutto and cheese with green beans on the side and a salad. I had a cup of bean and chorizo soup – yummo – and - “The sandwich the chef has for lunch” which was chicken and caramelized onions with a chipolte marmalade. On the side was a delicious medley of carrots, celery, peas, artichokes and I think just a little mint. Everything tasted delicious.

Then off to the Tiger’s game. It was so much fun – they won 10-3. We had great seats in 137 row 15 – I was close enough to Brandon Inge to have him hear me yell at him. (Only good things of course) It was terribly hot but thankfully the game was at 7:00 pm and the sun went below the stadium. They scored at least one run in every inning except the 2nd. The people behind us were a hoot. A whole family was celebrating someone’s birthday. The youngest son asked his mother if she wanted something to drink and when his mom said that no, she didn’t need anything the older brothers started harassing her to go ahead and get something because the youngest brother always forgets his wallet and his older brothers have to buy for him at the bars and it would be a nice change to see him actually spend money on something.

We took Caroline and Jesse out for dinner for Caroline’s birthday meal on Monday. Jesse was telling stories and he had us laughing so hard I was coughing and almost choking. We had a really good time with them. They are even thinking of coming up for one night when we are camping in Harrisville (Jesse doesn’t really think that camping is a vacation – he’d rather go to Holiday Inn I think.)

Joanna and Robin and the kids went for a trip to Florida to visit Joanna’s best friend and her family. I’m thinking they should be home today – I did call her once to ask if they were getting any of the residual bad weather from the hurricanes but she said that it was beautiful weather and that it wasn’t even too hot. Robin must have given her a rolled eye look or something because she told me he thought it was way too hot. I told her to tell him I love him very much because that means he will keep all of them in Michigan for several years to come.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Julie and Julia

This was a great movie. Click here to see a Julie and Julia Trailer. I don't know if it is because Pat and I used to watch her on Friday nights when we lived on Ashman in Midland and we both love Julia Child - or if it really a great movie. Meryl Streep was fabulous. The critics said they didn't like the two husbands in the movie - both of us liked them a lot. The movie was over 2 hours long and I wished it would go on. When Julia meets her sister at the train - priceless. We went right after church this morning - only about 6 other couples were in the theater so we practically had it to ourselves.

Saturday, August 8, 2009


Happy birthday, sweetie. Just a few thoughts about when you were born.

I so couldn't wait to be your Mother! I loved playing with babies my whole life - everytime we went anywhere I would hold any baby available. The whole time I was pregnant I just wanted it to be over so I could hold you. I was so happy the day you came home with us - I used to sit all day long playing with you and then quick around 4:00 I would be like a whirlwind trying to get the house in order and dinner on so it would look like I had done something around the house besides playing Eensy Weensy Spider with you!

Happy Happy Happy Birthday Joanna Balana Roseanna Danna

Rainy Weekend

Well - Pat is working on our friend's home again today. He hasn't had as much time to work on it as he wanted because we keep doing stuff that interfere (like going to another Tiger game on Thursday!) So he felt he better get something done there today. I picked up my friend, Robyn, and we went to some estate sales this morning. One was supposed to have Waterford but they must have sold it on the first day. But I bought a few dishes and we had a great time.

It is pouring rain out - I know we need rain for gardens and such but can't it rain on a Monday?

I've been swamped at work. I probably shouldn't have taken Thursday off for the Tiger's game but we bought the tickets months ago and I'm glad we went. It was a great game - Aliva played his first major league game and it was fun being there to see him hit a double.

We went to friends for dinner last evening - we had a nice time visiting with them - we don't see each other enough. And the food was great - we sat on the deck enjoying the birds and flowers and lightening bugs.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Aunts and Uncles

Well - my friend at work just lost her uncle. She has been watching over him since her aunt died and was watching over both of them before that. It reminds me of when Mary Lynn and I were taking care of Dorothy and Bernice. So I thought in tribute to all our aunts and uncles who we have loved and cared for I would write about my aunts Dorothy and Bernice.

Even though it was a very long time and it was a very difficult time we were the ones filled with blessings when we cared for the two aunts. My cousin, Mary Lynn took care of the bills and the caregivers (thank God - because she had to fire one of them - I told her I got the calls at 2 am to go to the hospital and she just had to be the one to fire the one we didn't want!)

When I would get a call at 2 am from the hospital because Aunt Bernice was being very difficult I would laugh at the nurse that was calling and tell her I would come right away but I may not be much help! And sure enough I would make the matter worse. My aunt used to hallucinate sometimes from her drugs and I also think because her electrolytes were so off - this time she was seeing her beloved dead sisters, my Mom and my Aunt Dorothy at the end of the hall - pointing at her and laughing. I bent down to look at her and lovingly told her they would not do that, they both loved her, well she was not happy with me telling her she wasn't seeing something and she kicked me out of the room. I apologized to the nurse, told her to give her a sleeping pill and went home. The next morning when I went in she was nice as pie.

All through our lives, our two aunts always were there for us. They lived with and cared for our Grandma Brandi all through her life. We would visit every holiday - and Aunt Dorothy would take our pictures - When Aunt Dorothy died every family had a picture of every single year.

When my Mom was sick, my aunts who lived across the hall from her, stopped in every day to see if everything was okay. When I was all consumed with the care of my Mom, they thought about me. It was very touching and much needed to a weary soul.

After my Mom died and before they both needed my care, I went over to their house once a week for tea. They would ask about my job, my family, and they truly cared about my life. They would tell such delicious stories of world travel and being in charge of an office and all about living through difficult times and wars where their brothers were fighting - they loved that I was a secretary and would want to hear about all the new technology in the office. It was such a blessing to have those two aunts in our family.

Now - not to leave out my uncles - they also lived across and down the hall from my Mom - I loved seeing them too. They both had families of their own. I would love to have them stop by to see me and to catch me up on their families. Uncle Lawrence was always reserved and sweet and such a snazzy dresser. Every pleat was ironed on his pants and he loved to help Aunt Dorothy with hems on dresses and pants (his father was a tailor and Uncle Lawrence took such pride in his clothes). Uncle Jerry reminded me of my Dad and I loved having him tell me about my cousins. He was always going on a walk or stopping by on his way out. One time we were having a luncheon over at the aunties before anyone got sick and they all told wonderful stories. I remember Uncle Lawrence saying, "Really, I don't remember that!" to many of the stories and Uncle Jerry laughing so hard he was shaking at some of the stories. It was an afternoon I would treasure.

I love being an aunt. I always say it is my favorite job. As a mother and grandmother - you still have to do some discipline - but as an aunt - well - all you do is LOVE them - we have great nieces and nephews on both sides of our family and we feel so blessed to be part of their lives. One of the reasons I love blogging is that many of them have blogs and we stay close to their lives by reading their blogs. Wherever they are in the world, we get a chance to hear what they are doing and be a part of it. The ones that have married have married wonderful spouses and we gained more nieces and nephews through those marriages - It's fun.

So, here's to you, my aunts and uncles, much love and good thoughts sent on their way to Heaven to all of you.

Sunday, August 2, 2009