Saturday, May 29, 2010

Planting Geraniums

"Why do we plant red geraniums at the cemetery every year?"

For the past 10 years or so my kids have accompanied me to the Alger Cemetery on Cleveland's west side to plant geraniums at the Hoffman family plot. Before that, my mother and/or I would accompany my grandmother to do the same. We pull any weeds that need pulling (though lately they've been spraying a wide swath around each stone with extra strength weed killer so they are ringed with brown earth) then dig spots for each potted flower. The stones have shifted over the years. This year, my great-grandmother Vinnie Hoffman's stone was a full 90 degrees rotated, but was free enough that I was able to heave it back into position. We dug our holes and planted the flowers, then made the slow walk across the grass to the water spigot to fill our watering can. Some of the graves are familiar from our annual visits- the lamb marker for a child, now so worn the sandstone is hard to distinguish, the writing illegible, the Civil War veteran. With our flowers soaked in, I tell a story about Grandma and try to remember something about Grandpa (who died when I was 5), and explain the Mason's symbol on Great-Grandpa's stone.

We drove past the house on Valley View on our way out. It's really nice to see it- someone clearly loves living there. The front porch has hanging baskets of flowers, and a porch swing. I tell them about the porch glider that Grandpa moved from the basement to the porch each spring, and back again in the fall. He would also plant red geraniums in front of the garage, and along the side of the driveway each year. The picture above is Grandma, probably in the late 1950s, standing alongside the flowers she loved so well. The back yard was reserved for his prized roses. After he died, the roses died too (Grandma wasn't a gardener!) but she stuck with the geraniums.

Done with Alger, we drove south to Woodvale Cemetery, where my parents are buried. For the last three years, they've gotten geraniums too. The stalks from the spring daffodils were still there, though pretty brown. We trimmed things up, planted the geraniums and watered them well.

I guess we plant them every year because we've planted them every year before now. Routines, like celebrating Memorial Day or making sure we have red geraniums to plant every May, gives us a marker to remember those things too important to forget.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Family Quilts

Both of my grandmothers were quilters. For years- easily twenty years- they met every Tuesday with a group of ladies from their church (Christ United Methodist on Lorain Road at West 138th Street) to work on a quilt. Usually they were projects for other church members. The quilters charged very little for the work and all of the proceeds, of course, went right back into the collection plate. The Grandmas were funny about that Tuesday group- none of the other women worked fast enough, or at a high enough standard for either of them. "All they want to do is talk!" they'd say.

Naturally, the Grandmas quilted on their own time as well. Grandma Hoffman stitched lovely, ornate applique floral patterns. Grandma Claspy, always much more frugal, used up scraps from her "regular" sewing projects. But her eye for colors and patterns was uncanny, and some of these patch quilts are true delights. My sisters and I each have several of these, plus the "big kid" quilts Grandma Claspy made for our children, timed to arrive when they moved from crib to bed.

The Grandmas are gone now. Grandma Hoffman died in 1997, 94 years old. Grandma Claspy wasn't going to get the short end of *any* stick, and as such lived 102 years, when she died in the fall of 2006.

So where will the quilts come from now? The answer: Aunt Jane. Here's Sam on the quilt she made for him.

Five Days Old

Young Sam is five days old. We've had a remarkably smooth time of things (knock on wood)- surely some lost sleep and frayed nerves, but in all everyone is adjusting to our new lives.

Today Sam had his frenulum cut. Sounds painful even typing it! The frenulum is the tiny bit of skin that connects the bottom of the tongue to the bottom of the mouth. Sam's was just a tad too long, and it was making it difficult for him to nurse properly, and when he did nurse, his tongue was hitting Kim in all the wrong places. So the doctor snipped that bit of skin this morning. He went right to nursing after the procedure and Kim immediately felt relief.

Yesterday was his first doctor appointment, which was mostly a lactation consultation. Very worthwhile to do. Kim and Sam are getting the hang of things, and the milk has come in- to the tune of Sam gaining 5 ounces in weight between yesterday's doctor appointment and today's! He likey the milk!

A few pictures:

Jasmine Buttercup and Sam, fast friends (though they don't seem so sure of it here).

Big sister Maggie getting some quality time with her little brother (who she calls "Mini Me").

Belle mama and the little shaver.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Sam meets his sisters

Sam got to meet his sisters for the very first time today.

They decided he can stay in the family.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

BAM! Sam!

Samuel Ellis
7 pounds, 1 ounce
21 inches


Monday, May 17, 2010

Weekend waiting

Sunday, May 16th was graduation at CWRU, an event that Kim enjoys being a part of. This year was particularly special for her, as her first two graduate students were getting their PhDs. Personally, I think she just likes the opportunity to wear her subtle academic regalia.

We thought perhaps the robes would hide her baby bump (baby bulge? baby BOOM?) but it didn't take too much encouragement to put that argument to rest.


How did the rest of us spend the afternoon? Hoops!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Thirty Nine Weeks

With apologies to Hitchcock for the title of this post, here is a visual of what ten months of gestation looks like. Belly bokeh.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Bathroom, getting close

The bathroom project inches closer to being done.

These pictures show the tub/shower tile done and grouted.

The large black rectangle on the floor is the furnace register.

The medicine cabinet and matching storage cabinet are up. Next for me is to paint the door and get it re-hung.

Finally, we are waiting for the arrival of the tub refinishing crew who will put a fresh surface on the tub, the last piece of the puzzle.