Moments of Discovery # 10: a Bubble, a Dome, a Mirror

My sister Janice and I blew up balloons when we were little. Here is a stop-action snap from Aunt Ruthie Longenecker’s 16 millimeter movie film. The balloons were thick, rubbery and multicolored.

MarianJanBalloonBlow copy

We also blew bubbles sitting on the porch swing or standing in the back yard. I don’t have pictures of those, but on one of the walls at Landis Homes, where Aunt Ruthie now lives, an Amish girl is forever blowing bubbles, possibly expressing her wishes and dreams.

Picture displayed in Manheim House, Landis Homes, Lititz, Pennsylvania
Picture displayed in Manheim House, Landis Homes – Lititz, Pennsylvania

On top of a chest of drawers in Aunt Ruthie’s former bedroom sits a terrarium, a bubbly dome, covering butterflies in suspended animation on branches that rise above a blanket of lichen.

TerrariumVictorian

Terrariums, popular during Victorian times, usually contain live plants. Moss, ferns, and other flora thrive in the warm humid environment. During short winter days, weak slants of sunlight draw moisture to the top of the dome during the day, which circulates back down to the soil in the evening, creating a hermetic climate. You can read about the history of the terrarium here. The author features dish terrariums, pickle jar and wine glass terrariums, terrariums with waterfalls.

Grandma Fannie Longenecker had terrariums too, a miniature world of green we peered into when the ground was snow white in winter. Some of her glass containers were cookie-jar shaped, crowned with a knobby top. Others were rectangular and covered with a thin pane of glass.

A few ferns, though not in terrariums, still grace the bay windows at Grandma’s house. She never had a TV.

GrandmaBayWindow

Something else shiny and green I played with upstairs, a little-girl dresser. But now a grown-up girl gazes back at me when I angle the mirror just right.

DressGirlVictorian

For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

~ I Corinthians 13:12 NIV

Crista's maidenhair fern under a cloche
Daughter Crista’s maidenhair fern under a cloche, bell-shaped

 

Your discovery this week may not have been a balloon, a dome, or a mirror. It may have been something else. Inquiring minds want to know!

 

Coming next: Any Hats in Your History?

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Birthday # 95: A Tribute & Party

Aunt Ruthie age 89 mowing an acre of lawn
Aunt Ruthie age 89 mowing an acre of lawn

July 2013 phone conversation between Aunt Ruthie and me:

M:  Well, Ruthie, how are you doing?

AR:  Well, I’m puzzled!

M:  Puzzled? What about?

AR: I’m doing puzzles, doing “word find”!  Ha ha ha!  (Still witty at 95)

Teaching: Adoring teachers surround their retiring principal at Rheems Elementary School

1993BarbaraSchRuthie_small

Living for Others:

1990s Ruth in kitchen 2_small

Receiving Salt of the Earth Award from Lutheran Social Services for ministry to refugees and immigrants
Receiving Salt of the Earth Award from Lutheran Social Services for ministry to refugees and immigrants

Music: 

1989RuthiePiano_small

Playing the dulcimer 1996
Playing the dulcimer 1996

RuthiePianoRheems

Back to the piano at Rheems Nursing Home: Of the residents, many of them younger than she, her response: “They are poor souls. They probably wouldn’t recognize it if I repeated songs.”

Her schnauzer, Fritzie IV:

RuthieDogPiano1998RuthieFritziePorch_small

January 4, 2012 When her care-giver, nephew Mark has surgery, she remarks: “You and I, Fritzie, are orphans now.”

     *   *   *   *   *   *   *

The school-teacher, principal, tax collector,  family and church accountant, “mother” to dozens of refugees and immigrants has now landed on the spot of the calendar that says 95.

In July 2013, after falling at home, she recuperated at a rehab center and is now living at Landis Homes, a residence for seniors, many of whom are Mennonite, near Lititz, Pennsylvania. She has survived a pacemaker procedure and pneumonia in 2008, a hip break in 2010, and another fall this year. Yet she can still get out of bed, dress herself, and go places with her walker.

Hobbled by her falls and the natural progression of age, she’s no spring chicken, but she is still mobile. However, she finds her memory loss harder to deal with. The pilot light in her brilliant mind (she skipped 2 grades and had to have a chaperone at college because of her age) is now flickering during these last few years:

May 15, 2010 “Am I out of it?” she asks, dealing with the confusion that has set in.

May 17, 2010 “Sometimes I feel as though I must guard against a mental relapse.”

May 22, 2010 “I feel like a monkey on a stick.” Or a doll – Sue (then her housekeeper)  comes “in the door, takes me off the shelf, dusts me off, and puts me back up again.”

Feb, 27, 2011  “I took care of my grandfather, my mother, and now, I have to be taken care of. I was hoping this wouldn’t happen to me!”

January 11, 2012  “I don’t trust myself to say the right answer.”

April 13, 2013  Though there is confusion about where she is and the day of the week, she still notices that the hands on her Bulova Caravel watch have stopped. She gets a new piece of jewelry on her wrist today–and a touch quilt!

TODAY  IS  HER  95th PARTY: Time to Celebrate

Sister Jean and Aunt Ruthie at the 95th Party
Sister Jean and Aunt Ruthie at the 95th Party
Aunt Ruthie and Colleen's touch quilt
Aunt Ruthie and Colleen’s touch quilt

Her Wit: She gets the Last Laugh!

At Landis Homes, conversing with her sister-in-law, my mother, who is the same age, has the same name, down to the middle initial:

 Aunt: I want to go home to my house, my dog, my things . . . .

Mother: You have it good here, Ruthie.

 Aunt: All I do is sit here. I could just as well do my sitting at home.

Mother: Here you have nice people to help you, good food, pretty flowers all around. Virginia Hoover, Simon and Mary Jean Kraybill from church, even Cecilia Metzler, my sister-in-law live here. And they all love it!

Aunt: Why don’t we just exchange places then? We have the same name. You could sit here just as well as I. No one would ever notice.

Ha! Ha!

Your comments welcome! I always respond.

Colleen’s Comfort Quilts: Knot Plain, Just Fancy

Since our children were little babes in blankets, Colleen and I have been friends. Our friendship, knitted together by similar values, compatible tastes, and love of beauty, has flexed with her moves from Florida to Maryland to Texas to California and back again.

Collie with Quilt

Like her quilts, experiences in our lives have at times matched the dark, nubby patches, the smooth, satiny ones, all stitched together by the happy binding of love.

Soon I’ll be taking her latest creation as a gift to my dear Aunt Ruthie’s 95th birthday celebration in her new residence at Landis Homes near Lititz, Pennsylvania.  Ever the artist, Aunt Ruthie has  painted in oils, designed her gardens as colorful collages, and sewn her own clothes in quaint combinations. She’ll love the quilt!

Dark, nubby patches mimic doggy fur of Ruthie's beloved Schnauzer Fritzie
Dark, nubby patches mimic doggy fur of Ruthie’s beloved Schnauzer Fritzie

Last weekend I caught up with Colleen and asked her a few questions. Please listen in!

1. What are touch quilts?

A touch quilt has various textures that are intended to provide a calming effect and soothe jangled nerves as they are stroked.  A touch quilt may be used while sitting in a favorite rocker or recliner, wheelchair, at naptime, in a waiting room or hospital bed and are similar in theory to the security blanket used by many small children.  They are loved by elders and children alike and have been found to be especially useful for those who are blind or have dementia.

2. How did you get started making them?

In 2005, my church started a Prayer Quilt ministry where I learned to make lap-size quilts;  I loved the idea and process and have been making them ever since.  In 2010, a women’s group I belonged to asked if anyone knew how to make touch quilts, which were  to be donated to the local Elder Day Stay.  I did a little research and found them to be very similar to the prayer quilts I already knew how to make, except for the fabrics used.  I made about 16 Touch Quilts over the next two years and got wonderful feedback from the excited recipients.

Gold, satin petals attached only at center
Gold, satin petals attached only at center

3. What types of fabrics do you use?

I look for pleasing colors in a variety of soft fabrics such as satin, corduroy, minky, flannel, fleece, fuzzy, furry, and more. I like to have some satin and fuzzy in every quilt and prefer satin bindings on all of them.

Sizes? (Dimensions of quilts)

I have made lap size (42 x 42), which is the most common size for all ages, nap size (42 x 54), and wheelchair size (36 x 36), which is intended to fit comfortably between the wheels without getting snagged.

4. Where do you get your inspiration for the designs and color combinations?

I try to include at least one fabric with a pattern and select complementary colors based on that. I start out designing on the computer and then put the cut fabric on my quilting “wall” to ensure the design fits the fabrics selected.  When I’m using a new design or a fabric with a new pattern, I often spend quite a bit of time rearranging the fabric blocks on the wall before I find a combination that feels and looks right.  It’s a creative process that can take hours and occasionally, days.

5. Who benefits from your quilts? To what organizations have you donated them?

I donate quilts to the Trinity United Methodist Church, Elder Day Stay, and various individuals.

redzebratquilt

Quilts by Colleen: Touchable Chic

Questions or comments about Colleen’s quilts? Reply below please!

Children’s book: The Boy and the Quilt by Mennonite author, Shirley Kurtz: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2729926-the-boy-and-the-quilt-with-four-color-artwork?from_search=true