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Flowers from IsraelFlowers from Israel…© Valorie Webster

We have just returned (very exhausted from the travel) after spending nearly a month in Israel and Greece. I looked through over 1000 images to find one to depict my feelings this morning. I decided on these flowers.

It takes me a while to sort through all the feelings I have after these trips, but today I want to say that I am grateful. We have so much in our country…some more than others, as in every country. Our worst days pale in comparison, however, to people who have lived their entire lives with religious wars, homes lost, all retirement funds stripped away and more. Yet, they continue…most with relative happiness.

If I write more blogs regarding this trip, there will be mixed emotions and differing opinions than you may have. That is okay. What I know, for myself, is that world travel points out all our differences…AND all our similarities.

Flowers seem to find a way to bloom everywhere! May we be at peace!

Birthdays and Holes

Valorie and Daddy                                                           My daddy and me…1953.

Ninety-three is a ripe old age, but he didn’t make it. He died in 2003 at age seventy-nine, but I think he would say he lived life his way and as well as he could. Can one wish for more?

My father would be celebrating ninety-three years of life today. I miss him. He was many things, but always “daddy” to me. It seems that people either loved him or hated him. It also seems that he felt the same about most people. Does that make him any different than most of us?

I really want to tell his story, but it is like Swiss cheese, or a bucket full of holes, or a cake that I didn’t remember to burst the air out of before baking (this was his favorite kind of cake, heavy, and he taught me to drop the pans flat on the counter so the air bubbles would rise and burst!)…his story all falls to pieces, or just doesn’t fit together in the first place. As it turns out, those holes existed in his heart, and he died with them.

It would be his story to tell, but for the most part, he never did. Yes, we heard some stories…good, bad, and ugly…from his childhood on through his life, but it seems he kept some things secret and it actually has created some holes in my heart now! Those places in my heart are not so much about what he told or didn’t tell, what he did or didn’t do, but about the pain he held inside and how much freer he might have been. If he had shared more, how much would he have been judged? I doubt more than he was judged by some anyway. I know that what I have learned has only made me understand him better. It confirms my feeling that secrets only hurt, sooner or later.

When Harold Watson Smith was born on April 4, 1924 (or so says his birth certificate, though that is another story), he began a life in the hills of West Virginia, outside Charleston. He was the 10th child I have been able to document, with two more brothers to come along after him. He said there were more. I began work on a family tree in 2002 and he was very clear that he didn’t want me to search his line. Being so much like him, he had to have known that to say those words was like throwing a bone for a dog. I would be off on the search. Yes, being stubborn is genetic.

I lived across the country and would continue to call and talk and ask questions. He began to open up, bit by bit, and told me some things. One big item being that he never knew who his father was and that had left a “huge hole in his heart”. I will always remember him telling me that. At any rate, he finally agreed to tell me all he knew when we could sit down together, face to face, and talk. Unfortunately, not too long thereafter, he had a massive heart attack and died. I did get to his bedside before he passed, but was certainly not going to talk genealogy then. He was not able to say much at that point anyway.

So began my journey into his history. I was going to fill that gap that existed for him. I was on a mission, indeed. My mom’s line would have to wait, as I knew those folks already and had some sources for searching. Daddy’s story needed to be discovered. After years of research, and two trips to West Virginia with my sister and brother, I can say I have learned more. And yes, I have found some darkness. It exists in all families, by the way. Now what I wonder is if it is right for me to tell his story. I have shared my suspicions with many. I have had some confirmations and been left with more holes in other places. Personally, as mentioned, I find the information revealing and interesting. But, is it my story to tell? I am ruminating on that. It is part of my heritage, but he didn’t want some things told. He just didn’t tell me what those things were.

So, today, I will say Happy Birthday, Daddy! I love you, I always did, and I miss you.

More of this story to come…sometime…perhaps.

Safe With Me

I have wondered about Paper Piecing for a while now, but frankly, could not get my mind around it. When I saw the pattern for the safety pin, Safe With Me, I knew this was the one I wanted to try and so I delved in.

safetyImage © Valorie Webster

First, let me thank Craftsy and The Night Quilter for providing the free pattern.

I consider myself to be pretty crafty and a good sewist, since I have been sewing for about 50 years! That said, paper piecing took me some serious thought and this pattern is not exactly the easiest one to start with. After watching a couple of tutorial videos, I decided to just go for it. I am happy with the result. I love the white pin, signifying purity of heart and thought to me, and the bright Kaffe Fassett print, the colors representing the wide variety of people that the new (to the USA) symbol represents.

I do not choose to make this a political post! So, here are a couple of tips from a newbie at paper piecing:

  1. Choose a simple pattern to start with.
  2. Print your pattern on light-weight paper, if you can.
  3. Do use a smaller stitch length, but also DO remember that if you have to rip out a seam, those tiny stitches are a challenge. (The voice of experience!)
  4. As with all new things, give yourself permission to learn. Rome was not built in a day!
  5. Take it slow and steady. Think about the process. #3 above only came about because I got in a hurry and thought I had it all figured out! Slow and steady wins the race!

So here’s to trying a new project! Stretch yourself in different ways. It will expand your horizon!

 

 

Word for the Day – Witness

blue-stripe-dropImage © Valorie Webster

 

If you read the Parade Magazine on Sunday, wherever you live, you may have seen a little article this week, Sunday With…Tony Bennett. As he is turning 90 years old, the final question was What are your thoughts on turning 90? His reply…

“I’m happy to be alive. I think the greatest gift you could have is to witness your life on earth.”

To me that was profound. How many of us actually “witness” our lives? How many of us just move from moment to moment, event to event, thought to thought without really seeing, hearing, feeling, absorbing those things?

Dictionary.com defines Witness as…
a verb (used with object)
1. to see, hear, or know by personal presence and perception

Just a thought for today. Hope you are IN-joy!

Geneology

family-tree_23-2147512823

Do any of you do family research? There are some real mysteries in my family tree and I dig into it every few years to see if I can discover anything new. In preparation for the return of my DNA results, I am back at the research and suspect I may be a bit off the blogosphere circuit for a while. This kind of stuff is like going down the rabbit hole.

It’s not that I think any of you will miss me, but just in case!

Wish me luck and if you have any great advice for breaking down brick walls, feel free to send it my way!

(image from the Internet…freepik.com)