Wednesday, August 29, 2012

A Family Chain

This is my mother holding me, circa 1953.  This photograph sits framed in what I call my "nest," the bookshelf-lined room where I nap and read.  This four generation photo sits next to it.

Here sits my mother, my mother's mother (my nana Lydia Hueston), I, and my daughter Barbara at three months old, all attending a Hueston family reunion in Gettysburg (Check out the VW Beetle in the background; I learned to drive in one of those!) in 1975. My nana wanted a four generation photograph, and we obliged.  I treasure my copy of this family phenomena.

On the occasion of the birth of my first granddaughter last week, I have been pondering the intergenerational bonds between women--what it feels like to have a daughter, how my mom approached being a grandmother, and the role played by both my grandmothers in my life. My mother and my grandmothers remain as my fundamental teachers, guides, and mentors, and it is because of them that women's stories and women's wisdom have always been important to me.  Now it is my turn.  How quickly we grow from ingenue to crone.

My Grandma (Mildred Herman), when dressing up, would always fasten her gold, "grandma bracelet" on her sturdy tan arm.  I remember sitting next to her in church and twirling the bracelet around her wrist, fingering each charm and reading each shiny disk one-by-one, noting the name and birthdate of each of her six grandchildren--my brother and I, followed by my cousins.  I delighted finding my name every single time.  My mother followed her lead and started a bracelet of her own, this bracelet which I inherited.

Yesterday, Jim and I walked downtown for breakfast at The Corner Room, and I took what has now become my grandma bracelet to Moyer Jewelers (a State College tradition and our family jewelry store of choice ever since my brother worked there as an engraver throughout high school) to add another dangling disk.  The disk will read "Rosemary Dow" on the front and "8-19-12" on the reverse side.   Her disk will be soldered on the chain, right next to her cousins--Alexander Christopher and James Timothy.  I cannot believe I soon shall wear proof of the fact that I am now "Nana" to three amazing children, children of my children.  A most wondrous thing.

Monday, August 20, 2012


Rosemary Dow Campbell born Sunday, August 19 at 11:25 pm.  Weight: Seven pounds and .8 oz. Length: 18 inches.  Countenance: Beautiful beyond belief.

And this Nana is over-the-moon in love with her.

Oh, by the way, she is wearing a hat (one of many) I knit for her.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Fall is in the air

A line in this week's paper pronounced the "dog days of summer are behind us." Good!  When I walked out earlier today to pick the newspaper off the sidewalk, the air felt changed, a familiar hint of fall hanging in the morning.  Maybe I feel this way because yesterday I helped my son ready his classroom, an intimate yet fading memory.  All the signs are here--flyers for back-to-school sales fall out of the newspaper, bins of school supplies stand front and center at Walmart, and articles instruct parents on packing nutritious lunches and helping children transition back into school year rhythms.   Even though I no longer plan and prepare to enter my own classroom, I still experience a curious sense of excitement about beginning a new school year.  I guess old habits don't end easily.

We started this week on a mini vacation in Erie, pedaling around Presque Isle, relaxing on its inviting beach, and swimming in the cool blue of Lake Erie.

Later this week, I wrapped up what has become a traditional last-gasp-of-summer/back-to-school charity project for me--assembling baby care and school kits for Lutheran World Relief. While preparing for my granddaughter, I knit an extra sweater and bought the items needed for a baby kit.  And as soon as school supplies went on sale for this fall, I stocked up on the things needed to fill two school kits. Since I will soon be nana to three children (Alex, Jamie. and little lady Campbell), making three kits seemed exactly the right number.  It only took less than a morning to sew two bags needed to hold the list of supplies required for a school kit.

As always, when sewing or knitting a gift, I think about the recipient. In this case, I wonder about the children receiving these school supplies and the mother using the contents of the baby kit. According to the map on the website of Lutheran World relief, these kits may travel south to a Central or South American country or east to somewhere in Africa, India, or Asia.  It is difficult to imagine these two school kits and one baby kit journeying to places I have never seen and helping children I will never know.  I wish them God's speed and good graces...from my home and heart to theirs.

Friday, August 10, 2012

The Nursery

I have a friend who often purports that the Native Americans have it right--families should live in tribes.  I think I might like that--family and friends clustered in our teepees, sharing life in close proximity. mostly together yet appropriately apart. Yesterday, a 21st century version of our particular tribe gathered to help put the nursery together to welcome our newest member.  How fun is that!

Our baby's nursery really is a welcoming reflection of all those who love her. Her family and her family's friends surround her from the lamp and ceramic art gifted by her mama's friends to

her daddy's painting hanging over the crib given by her Nonni.

I sewed the curtains and pillows and my daughter painted the still life as a student years ago.

Loving friends and family have outfitted this baby with everything she will need to use and wear (I enjoy the colorful, happy jumble of this closet!)

The proud parents-to-be graduated from their final childbirth/baby class just this past week.  The due date is less than two weeks away.  She is coming soon... and with her nest prepared, her family, her tribe and most especially, her beautiful mama are all ready and eager to greet her, hold her, and forever love her.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Sharing the Bounty

Harvesting season is well upon us now.  Local farmer's markets heap beans, cucumbers, tomatoes, cabbages, peppers, corn and more.  Our favorite fruit farm somehow managed to survive the early spring heat with its subsequent damaging freeze, and at their farm store quart and peck boxes of peaches line up next to baskets of summer apples.  During our child raising years, we too tilled soil for gardens in both York and Dallas, those vegetables augmenting summer meals and stocking our freezer.

Our current home nestles in a swarth of mature trees shading College Heights, the historic neighborhood sitting aside Penn State's campus.  The one sunny spot on our property sprouts a hodgepodge of perennials and herbs.  Neither fruit nor vegetable grows on our quarter acre; we harvest ours from our weekly CSA box and the farmer's market and fruit farm we frequent.

However, we are not gardenless.  This past spring and summer, we have been hanging out at this garden:

In summers past, we pedaled by this patch of land sitting next to a local church and we watched it grow.  Parishioners of this church dug up a wide expanse of their lawn and planted a garden, tending it and harvesting it to feed those in Centre County who need extra help to feed themselves.  They call themselves "food bank farmers."

A group from our church, a land-locked city congregation, joined a sizable cadre of volunteers representing a variety of local churches, workers who meet several times a week to weed, water, hoe, and harvest this garden.  It is hard, often hot, good work.  Friday night at the end of our shift, I agreed to be the delivery person, hauling the just-picked bounty to the food bank early Saturday morning.  What a privilege it was to line up the basket of green peppers and buckets of beans, squash, and tomatoes to be weighed and displayed by the staff and volunteers at the State College Food Bank. And what a good feeling it is to know that patrons of the food bank will be enjoying locally grown, nutrient-rich produce.

This past week, the news was filled with Chick Fil A and people of faith squaring off against each other and those whose life they question.  I am wearied of it. I am wearied of exclusion, wearied of the vitriol masquerading as righteousness, wearied of fellow Christians drawing lines that separate and shut out. One reason to celebrate this garden is that it draws people together, people who don't necessarily share religious practices or views, focusing energy toward a common purpose and a higher good.  We need more opportunities that like that.

This past week as well, my friend Betsy posted this photograph on Facebook. Really. After all. It is just this simple. Why must we make it so hard?

Thursday, August 2, 2012

One Year Old

A year ago today, we were in North Carolina welcoming this sweet little boy into our family.  James Timothy, named after his grandad and a biblical saint, is a smile incarnate, his joy-filled presence lighting up each room he crawls into.  Grandchildren truly are as Proverbs asserts, "the crown of the aged."  Happy Birthday, Jamie!

(I love this pattern for an easy sweater vest for little boys.)