Archive for September, 2009

Alexander McCall Smith

I first began to read his works with The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency, but soon found myself also reading the Portuguese Irregular Verbs series, the 44 Scotland Street Series, and the Isabel Dalhousie series as well as various other books he’d written (yes I became fairly crazy for a time and bought a forensic medicine and the law book which I have since given to Goodwill) and audio and video tapes he had made.

I must be as astonished and pleased as anyone can be by Smith’s gentle intelligent discursive style. It’s so soothing, like a Zen meditation of sorts, like the natural world, like simple goodness.

And I am happy he keeps on writing! I wish him long life and many more good books.

This morning I finished The Lost Art of Gratitude in the Isabel Dalhousie series and was struck by a poem Jamie sings at the end of the book. He says, “this is about losing things,”….About thinking you’ve lost something and then finding you haven’t.”

“Struck by a poem” may not be quite the right description of my reaction. I had just been thinking of Paul and the poem made me begin to cry quite a lot. I am not sure what I believe and don’t believe about this poem, but let me share it here. There is a sense in which it is true, and heaven knows our family has experienced a lot of loss lately and can need this message… The same day that was the anniversary of Paul’s death my dear daughter Alice found out at the doctor’s that the baby she had been expecting with such joy had died, probably in the tenth week of pregnancy.

Here is Jamie’s song:czech anthem of joy in glass by vera liskova

“What we lose, we think we lose for ever,

But we are wrong about this: think of love –

Love is lost, we think it gone,

But it returns, often when least expected,

Forgives us our lack of attention, our failure of faith,

Our cold indifference; forgives us all this, and more;

Returns and says, “I was always there.”

Love, at our shoulder, whispers: “Merely remember me,

Don’t think I’ve gone away for ever:

I am still here: With you. My power undimmed.

See.  I am here.”

(This art in glass is by Czech artist Vera Liskova and is called Anthem of Joy.)

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emwed 10Today is the second anniversary of the day that Paul died. I’ve already had an email from one of his brothers and a phone call from one of his sisters sharing their remembrance of this. Paul was my best friend and love and the heart of my life for thirty-five years and I know that I will miss him forever and remember him forever. He was very ill for a long time and in a way it was a mercy from God that his sufferings ended. I think I can accept this now. It took a long time.

But I will miss his presence beside me as long as I live. I don’t think I can say anymore just now.

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Hallelujah! Hallelujah!

Emily's Quilt

Emily's Quilt

IMG_1563The quilt on the top is the family/friends quilt I began long ago for Emily. The squares (with which I had a lot of help from Penny Myers and Lorraine Baumann) were sent out in 2003.  Many of them were back within a year, but work on this slowed down with Paul’s illness and when I finally got back to it, I realized that I had a sort of technical problem because of the way that the blocks did not come back equal in size and I had to sew triangles around the four corners of each. I felt so sad and upset that this project might never be finished, but my wonderful niece Amy Jalics, who is such an accomplished quilter and has her own long arm business, came to the rescue!

She took all the blocks and fabrics I had and found a way to reduce all the blocks to the size of the smallest one and put it all together en point and quilt it.  All the blocks did not come back and we ended with a number which made it necessary to use the last four as cornerstones in the border, but I think the final result, which was delivered to us this weekend at a family birthday party, was absolutely fabulous! Wonderful! Fantastic! Beyond my wildest hopes. Everyone loves it, and Amy, we can never thank you enough!!!!!

The second quilt is a lovely one Amy made as a baby gift for two month old Clara. It is quite large for a baby quilt and will be a great play quilt for her too. It was photographed outside and has a lot of tree shadows on it. Sorry about that!

The quadruple birthday party for Laci and Amy’s daughter Alena(10), Ingmar and Emily’s daughter Sofia (2), and Julie and Jozsi’s son Marton (5) and daughter Kristina (1) took place at a delightful park in Kent, Ohio and there were 24 of us celebrating (and Alice and Mike’s as yet unborn baby was there too), from three generations.  It was a wonderful joyful time together with picnic and games for everyone.

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During the WeddingNathan on his "wobbly inspiration"Christof and Sabrina Jalics with my bil Feri bacsi or (Franz Jalics SJ) who married them

Nathan and cousin Lea blowing bubbles after the wedding
Nathan and cousin Lea blowing bubbles after the wedding

(Not sure why the title only appeared with one picture!  The first on the upper left is inside the church in Heidenheim. My brother in law, Franz Jalics S.J., is the priest. The second is of  a playground in Heidenheim the next morning. Nathan was climbing this sort of spiderweb which he called “a wobbly inspiration”. The third picture is my bil again with the bride and groom, Sabrina and Christof Jalics…………)

I’m back from “the old country” as Paul would have said.  Back from the beautiful rolling hills of southern Swabia and the lovely Bodensee. Back from a happy time spent enjoying the  warm and amazingly generous hospitality of relatives not seen often enough……..

The wedding itself was very beautiful and Nathan and the little daughter of  friends of Christof and Sabrina were lovely flower children. They moved a little too quickly for me to get good pictures of them and I didn’t have my camera at the reception, Alice has great pictures on her blog at   http://aliceclaus.wordpress.com/.   The wedding of my nephew Christof and his charming bride Sabrina was also a bit of a family reunion. In the home of Christof’s parents, Joshi and Christa, there were about twenty people celebrating together, although only about fifteen or so were there together at any time. With amazing generosity from neighbors who were going away on vacation and offered their entire house for our accommodation and we all had places to stay just a minute walk across the street from our host’s home in tiny Hinzistobl on a hill above Ravensburg, Germany, a medieval market town now known for manufacturing toys and games. There is a new and lovely museum of the history of the city.
The day after the wedding we visited a magnificent Baroque Abbey church in Neresheim and another morning had adventures going to Friedrichshafen by train. (Alice and I were on the train with Nathan and the doors shut leaving Mike and Joshi with the tickets standing in horror on the platform.)  But all’s well that ends well and we were reunited in an hour or so and had a lovely afternoon beside the Bodensee, otherwise known as The Lake of Constance.
Nathan was taken to see a nearby castle with a museum of knightly clothes and weapons and Alice, Mike and Nathan spent a day in Switzerland so Mike could visit the Clock Museum in Zurich and we also had time to visit Munich and BMW World and explore the area around Marianplatz with a German meal in the little beer garden of a restaurant near the parish church of the Holy Spirit.  In just a few days a lot was happening and yet we all had most meals together at Joshi and Christa’s. We played Maxile (Liar Dice) together every evening, and Nathan had lots of time to jump on the trampoline at the neighbor’s house, watch their three little black chickens scratch about the yard, paste stickers into his Pokedex and play with the lovely playmobil pirates and knights that were a gift from the bride and groom.
I’m still trying to remember and appreciate all that happened. I’ve never made such a short trip to Europe and yet it was crammed with incident and activity! I kept a little journal of what we did, but after Thursday noon there are no entries! I will have to try and bring it up to date as well as I can before I forget.  I don’t want to live in the past, but I like to keep my memories. Next year Joshi and Christa are planning a trip to England, but the year after there is a chance they will come to the USA! We’re keeping our fingers crossed.

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