Memorial Service

So, we had a memorial service for Gwen. I'd say all went well. There were over 60 people in attendance and I was asked to do the eulogy - followed by another person who reflected on his experiences with Gwen. The service lasted about an hour, followed by food and fellowship. Everyone was encouraged to share their memories of Gwen with each other, so there was lots of chatter, laughter, tears and remembering. I'm really glad I participated in doing this. So are lots of other people...as evidenced by their gratitude to me and the others who planned this service.


Privacy? An unknown in this day and age

So, the other day Rick walks in the house and says "hey, we have wireless phones, don't we?". Hmm, well, yes, we have a single cordless phone and have two cell phones. This is why he asks:

He's at the end of the driveway, getting the mail, when an older gentleman (about 60ish) drives into the driveway and asks if he's Rick B. Rick says yes he is. The guy says "well, just wanted you to know that my wife and I have a scanner and we've been able to hear your phone conversations for the past few months." Whaaaaat!? "And, anyone in the vicinity with a scanner would be able to tune into your frequency". He knew our address because one of us had given it out on the phone.

How interesting. Rick and I determined that its the cordless phone, not the cell phones.

Honestly? I gave this about three minutes of thought and concern. Rick started to get upset, until I reminded him that we have very little privacy in this world. We could give up the convenience of a cordless phone (which we've had for 15 years). Or, we could shrug our shoulders and figure that someone out there is enjoying our lives as much as we are! LOL

We'll probably change phones. For now, though, we're content with knowing that we are not paranoid - the amount of privacy afforded to each family is getting smaller and smaller as each day passes.

*sigh* I'm in charge

Well now, here I sit trying to gather my thoughts because guess who's been made the 'main person' for Gwen's memorial? Yepper, me. I'll be welcoming people, introducing the chaplain and meditation, guiding the attendees. Hmmm. A bit nerve wracking as I've never done something like this before. Not scary though. Probably because its for Gwen and she always told me how great I did when speaking in public. Thank goodness for podiums! My knees never stop quivering when I present in public :)

This Saturday afternoon we'll gather at a local hall and spend a few hours remembering Gwen, consoling ourselves and her family. We'll have deli trays and coffee, a few candles, some flowers. But most importantly, we'll have gathered the various people that Gwen touched and who feel the need to share their experiences with each other.

Gwen touched each person differently. My perception of Gwen is one of a woman of dignity and compassion, a person who loved NASCAR (Jeff Gordon especially), motorcycles, eighteen wheel trucks and tending to her flowers. She was quick to speak her mind, held grudges forever (didn't speak to me and Rick for over a year because of a faux pas on our part), and was willing to open her mind to new ideas.

I hope to do her proud :)


No Funeral!

I'm so angry I could spit. It did NOT have to be this way. The family decided that there will be no funeral, no visitation, no memorial, no services for Gwen. Why? Lack of money. They went for immediate cremation. Knowing the hundreds of people that loved Gwen, personally knowing tens of people who loved Gwen, these two 'boys' of hers said that they could not afford to do anything to honor her. Before knowing they went for immediate cremation, I made a few phone calls. Ten of us offered a couple hundred dollars each and were ready to pay a funeral home for basic services. Nope...too late.

I know, they're grieving. I also know they're not the brightest bulbs in the world (Gwen's words). I also now have the privilege of knowing that her drug addict grandson, having lived with her these past few months, managed to be able to move out on his own (with his girlfriend) because Gwen's last home equity loan covered his expenses. PTHTHTHTOOEY! (big spit)

Goodness, combined with this sense of loss, getting a bit angry is putting me over the top!

So, we do have a plan. With or without the assistance of the family, a few of us were talking last night about renting a room and having our own memorial service/wake in Gwen's honor. Right now we're thinking of having three of us say some words and share some stories, then guiding the guests to do the same with each other. Combine that with a bit of food and I think we can at least feel like we honored her in public.

Whew, what a week.


Random thoughts about Gwen

Gwen died last night, Saturday, Feb. 10, 2007.

A strong personality, Gwen seemed set in her ways. But, having sat at her kitchen table many, many days and nights, I knew her to be a woman of dignity and great compassion. She was a strong believer in self-development as well. One of the many changes she wanted to make was to stop disliking and being afraid of black people :) In her late 60's, she realized that she was missing out on a lot of relationships and experiences because of her bigotry. She made a conscious decision to learn more about the black people in her town. Despite her fear, she attended functions where many black people were present...she stuck out her hand and introduced herself to black people she came in contact with. By the end of a year she called a few black people, men and women, her friend. Trust me, being able to watch this transformation was quite an eye opener for me.

Gwen welcomed many into her home, but had little tolerance for the beggar and loafer. If you were wanting to help yourself, she went out of her way to assist you. If all you wanted to do was whine, she'd offer you some cheese as she showed you the front door.

Coffee was always brewing. One time when Rick and I were visiting she started complaining about how expensive coffee was getting. On and on she went about the price of coffee. Rick and I were puzzled, mainly because coffee prices had remained constant for quite a while. We soon realized, though, that it wasn't the price of coffee that was getting to her, it was the fact that she had been having so many visitors that she was buying three times more than usual. On her fixed income, this made a large dent. And, she wasn't going to stop offering coffee, or complain about the number of visitors. That day Rick and I went to Kroger and purchased 5 cans of coffee, dropped it off at her house and put a stop to the worry :) Because really, what's the price of coffee compared to keeping Gwen's kitchen table available for the next person needing her guidance?

Milk and Pepsi, her favorite drinks during the summer. She would sometimes have a fresh 2 liter of Pepsi and a gallon of milk in her fridge, then wonder why she didn't have enough bread to make a full sandwich! She and I would just laugh, and I'd make a quick trip for some staples. Who am I to ask her to not treat herself to milk and Pepsi?

Gwen considered me one of the smartest people she knew. I would often get a phone call from her asking for the definition of a word or phrase, and then asked to put it into context for her. Sometimes it was a word from the Bible, a novel, or a word search puzzle. Didn't matter. I happily assisted in her endeavor to learn.

She was always concerned about losing her brain power. So, to keep the brain active she enrolled in a correspondence accounting course. She got through the first lesson with little difficulty, but approached me on the second lesson. She just didn't understand the terminology being used and was frustrated because she had been a bookkeeper for so many years, she thought she was losing her mind. I looked over the lesson and exclaimed "goodness Gwen, are you studying to be a CPA?" Of course she was startled and said absolutely not, she just wanted to work a bit with numbers - you know, keep the brain active. The course she had signed up for, accidentally, was the final course in a CPA study program. Yeah, she got a refund for that one :)

Gwen loved the big rigs and had a trucker friend that occasionally came through town and would pick her up and take her down the road for a few hours. Rick had a full sized pick up that she loved, but couldn't get into. So, being the carpenter he is, he made her some steps and away they would go! She also loved motorcyles and three wheeled bikes. Definitely a woman on the go.

Just a few thoughts that came out of the well of emotion I'm experiencing. Her loss will be felt throughout the cities of Louisville, KY and in Indiana throughout New Albany, Jeffersonville, and Clarksville. May she rest in peace.


In Memory of Gwen

Saying good-bye to a valued friend is one the saddest experiences I have ever had. I have known Gwen for about 25 years, and she was a big part of my life for a good 15 of those years.

Gwen is 83 years old and until a few months ago was in pretty good shape. Since November she's had a nagging back ache, but was able to go out at night and entertain visitors during the day. Last week she suffered a minor heart attack and was taken to the local hospital. After a few days and the standard battery of tests it was determined that she had stage 4 cancer in her spine and lungs. Rick and I got a phone call Sunday morning from her granddaughter saying she had cancer, but that she hadn't been told yet. We visited with Gwen Sunday morning for a few hours. It was obvious that she was ill. She had lost at least 50 lbs since the last time I saw her, and she had that 'cancer' look, if you know what I mean.

She was quick witted and up for a good visit, so the three of us talked and laughed and remembered for a few hours. Saying good bye was tough, because Rick and I could see that the chances were slim that she'd be leaving the hospital.

She hasn't passed on, yet. But with kidney failure occurring and not responding to stimuli this morning...chances are good she'll be leaving us today or tomorrow.

Pray for her, for her family and for those of us honored to be called her friend.


The art of looking sideways

is a book I received as a Christmas gift. And what a book it is! My husband has several nicknames for me, one of which is "johnny 5" (from the movie Short Circuit, because I required input on a regular schedule or I go nuts!). And this book provides enough input to keep me satisfied each evening. Reading a paragraph, viewing a drawing, contemplating a definition is very much like savoring a delightful dessert treat after a scrumptious meal.

The book is chaptered or sectioned by experiences, i.e. "culture", "dreaming", "automation"...to name a few.

From the section titled "ECONOMY" is a list of quotes that when read in the order written feels much like a poem. I will type the quote in bold italics and credit the owner in plain text. Enjoy.

Less is more Andrea del Arto by Browning
Less is only more
when more is no good Frank Lloyd Wright
Achieve more with less Norman Foster
Less is a bore Robert Venturi
Less is a snore Gianni Versace
For me more is more Gianfranco Ferre
Less is less Theo Crosby
More of less newspaper headline on a political appointment
Less is more - providing you
had more to begin with Rodney Kinsman
As you get older
less is always more Ivana Trump
More means worse Kingsley Amis
I'm for maximalism,
minimalism is very protestant Ettore Sottsass
More matter with less art William Shakespeare

Trust me, this book is way cool. So much so that I intend to share pieces of it with you as I blog about my beadwork and my life :)

No knowledge is useless Charlene

Lavendar and Yellow?

So here's a pendant I came up with that turned out better than I originally envisioned. I was staring at my delica collection and fondling some swarovski crystals when I realized that just because it's winter does NOT mean I can't bead something for spring! LOL So, using ceylon coated lavendar and yellow delicas, I brick stitched this pendant. The fringe includes 4mm Swarovski Jonquil bicones. I'm finishing up a twisted herringbone necklace and am considering doing some earrings with crystals to match :)


New beadwork

I finally got busy and finished a couple of things. As always, any and all comments are welcome!

This has turned out to be one of my favorite pieces. I used black and gold (22k) delicas, brick stitched and fringed the pendant and used twisted herringbone for the necklace. I finished it off with a vermeil clasp. I find myself wearing it with pretty much every mock turtleneck I own, regardless of the color. I get tons of compliments, so was inspired to produce another brick stitch pendant...see below :)

Now, I need help with finishing this one. I used chocolate brown delicas, silverlined copper and silverlined orange delicas. I'm up for any suggestions. Fringing is fine, though I'd really like to do something different. I'm thinking of possibly adding some dimension by attaching matching triangles in the fringe.

Nothing like a work in progress to keep my fingers itching!