Puttin' on the Ritz
Tap Dancing With Button Gloves
I dragged a little "Old Hollywood" to the senior groups this week The gloves with buttons sewn on the tips, were a big hit.
Feather boas helped take us back to the the Old Hollywood days. I played a recording of "Puttin' on the Ritz" while button fingers tapped along. We shared memories of our favoirte Fred Astair dance scenes.
A few recalled their tap dance shoes and some shared about dance classes. None of us had memories of being in grand productions, but the finger dances were stage worthy!
The old Modern Screen magazine brought back lots of movie memories. Many of the women in my groups were about the same age as Shirley Temple and talked about their Shirley Temple dolls. I played a recording of "Good Ship Lollipop" and a surprising number sang along.
We tried to remember what movies we saw when we were children. Mary said she remembered being dropped off at the movies to stay all day. I told one group about how afraid I was of the whale in Pinocchio, that I crawled down on the sticker theatre floor.
I asked if anyone could name a movie they'd seen more than twice. Quite a few had seen Gone With the Wind, numerous times.
Lydia remembered when her small Oklahoma town opened up a grand new movie theatre. The first show was Gone With the Wind. She went to see the movie, but the theatre burned down shortly after.
Red Carpet Talk
We talked about the red carpet and how the stars are always interviewed and asked about their attire. We wondered what kinds of dresses would be seen at The Oscars on Sunday night.
One new member to the group, shook her head with an annoyed expression. "I'm not sure what they'll be wearing, but you can be sure they'll be showing a lot of... " She waved her hands over her blouse and added "...cleavage!"
Each of the groups had a chance to pass the quilted bag around the the table and make a guess about what was inside. Only two in all groups could detect the shoe shape, through the material. No one guessed Dorothy's ruby slippers. The little shoes got us off on lots of discussion about The Wizard of Oz.
I played a recording of "Over the Rainbow" at one gathering. Judy's voice seemed to transport the group to another time. Many swayed and some sang along. I was concerned about the melancholy tone and switched to a different recording, by a blues singer. I was curious how they would react to the new voice that started soft and soothing then became more upbeat and jazzy. I looked at the faces and most had smiles as they listened. Then a woman at the end of the table smiled a secret smile and nearly whispered, "Soulful."
Quilt with Friends in Guatemala
Today, I'm remembering my buddies from 2 years ago! Magda and her cousin, Michelle, spent a lot of time on the quilt during our 10-day stay in San Pedro, Guatemala. My husband, Don was working on his Spanish with Magda's father. I brought along the quilt to volunteer at Magda's school.
Spending Time at Home
There was a lot of time to hang out at the house, so I brought the quilt out to the open-air hallway. The girls taught me how to play Lotteria.
The Beanie Babies got to play along . Even my teenie 2-inch "Little Bear" had his own little card for Lotteria.
But pretty soon Magda got tired of that.
Then we sang a song with 3 words..."Kitty, Bunny and Puppy". We sang the silly song while the Beanie animals sat on the the quilt.
When I removed an animal, we replaced the word with humming instead. The song got confusing and I made as many mistakes as the kids. (Think Simon Says) The girls loved it when I goofed.
I had a lot of other stuff packed. I wasn't sure how I would communicate with the family, since I don't speak English.
I brought yarn for playing "string games" and Beanie Babies for teaching animal songs. I even brought big and small squares and a glue sticks, for making paper quilts.
Packing wasn't easy. The quilt itself takes up a lot of space. But at least I was able to leave some of these goodies behind.
A Little Help
Over a number of days, Magda had time to go through most of my stuff. Finally, I put Magda to work, helping with my new quilt!
Art and Words
Magda, along with her cousin and her mom and sister, helped decorate cloth squares to add to my new quilt. Magda's mom, Lola made 2 squares. One was a design with the family names. Another was a drawing of San Pedro, with mountains, lake and animals!
On our second to last night, a number of families gathered for a dinner celebration.
There were quite a few kids, but not room to spread out the quilt. At least I was able to unload a collection of Mardi Gras beads I'd lugged from New Orleans!
Music & Food!
There was lots to eat that night and lots of laughter and music. A couple ukuleles and some "plastic cup instruments" made things extra festive
Besides the leaving the beads, behind, we lightened our suitcase by donating the ukulele as well.
I miss this gang and memory from 2015!
Two Kid Stops
Getting Back With Kiddos
This week I had two visits with the quilt. On Wednesday, I brought the quilt and a few distracting toys to IEDA Relief in Houston. I was eager to help out with this organization that bring guidance to refugee communities in numerous countries. I was there to help entertain the children, while their moms attended a 2-hour ESL class.
That seemed easy enough. Except the moms and children didn't speak my language. And many were too young to speak anyway.
Some of the IEDA Staff
I was very impressed with the welcoming staff that greeted me upon arrival and joked with me after my volunteer time. I'm first to admit, I'm more skilled with the older children... I mean those not in diapers! I managed to keep my adorable gang of kiddos under control till about the last 20 minutes. Suddenly my puppets and singing and silly tricks all got old. I had about 5 babies crying at once.
It was tempting to confess, "Hey, I'm pretty sure you can find someone more qualified than myself..." But the enthusiasm of the staff and the determination of these moms from so many places, made me commit to returning!
Friday at the Shelter
On Friday I headed over to the Women's Shelter, where I've volunteered with the kids for about 15 years. I was so relaxed knowing what to expect. The weather was balmy, which meant we could move outside and the biggest surprise was that I only had 2 kids.
10 year old R. remembered me from my visit on MLK Day. "Can we play Twister on the quilt!" he begged. I had him examine the worn material to decide whether it could take the abuse. He on decided tag.I haven't played tag in a million years and there I was with 2 sprinting boys. I taught them Freeze Tag and hoped I could stay frozen for a long time.
They loved the little man that dances on the board. They took turns tapping the board to make him tap dance on the wooden paddle. When both screws jiggled loose and became lost, they gave the man rides on the toy cars.
Mother May I
It was an odd thing having these 2 young boys, without a crowd. It was a treat letting them decide what we should do. They decided they wanted me to teach them how to play "Mother May I?". Poor R. constantly had to return to the start line, when he forgot his "Mother May I?" He fumed and pouted, stomped and sulked. D. forgot just as often, but laughed at himself and skipped back to the start. R. noticed how much praise D. got for being a good sport and suddenly he began laughing when he forgot. I love it when other kids teach by example!
There was just enough time to pull out markers and paper for the boys to make some Valentine's cards. Neither boy had to think for a moment about who needed a card.
Inside their cards, they both wrote sweet words about what they loved about their moms. This was without any prompting from me. I asked if they were going to wait to give the cards on Valentine's Day. "Nope!" R. answered. D agreed. They were both going to give their cards that day. I was glad.
What Did I Learn?
I learned how different it is, to have time with just two kids. Obviously it was different than when I meet with a group. I already know how social one-on-one time is. However, having 2 was actually perfect. The play felt relaxed and I didn't have to play teacher or parent. I could guide a little, but I loved just listening. Kids learn so much from each other, as they work side by side.
House and Home
Back in Business with a House Theme
After 8 months, I returned this past week to Gather Around the Quilt, with my senior groups.
Greeting Old and New Friends
I was eager to get back to my Atria gang, but a few didn't recognize me with my short hair. It was sad to learn that some special folks had passed away during my break. Of course, the new residents didn't know me at all. But that was almost refreshing. They all seemed pleased to know we were not quilting.
I laid the quilt and props on the table and we got busy with our theme. The tiny houses and photos and magazines encouraged memory sharing... of favorite front porches and gabled roofs and shutters and chimneys. I asked if anyone had ever been on a roof. E. laughed and told us how her brothers encouraged her to climb on the roof. "They held a sheet below and told me to jump!"
Magazines and Music
The magazines from the 1940's helped us see how house styles and decorating has changed over the years. While we flipped through pages, I asked if anyone knew a song with the word house or home.
E. spoke and didn't skip a beat. "House of the Rising Sun!" She announced. We chuckled about the story behind the song. Then I went ahead and played a recording. "There is a house in New Orleans..." the eerie melody seemed to cast a spell. E. delighted me, as she swayed and sang along. We played just enough before switching to some more upbeat tunes.
Gang at the Center
I knew the gang at M.G. Community Center was expecting me. What a welcoming bunch, with hugs and gentle teasing about my hair-do! It felt good to settle in around the quilt with this eager group that needed no explanation about the Quilt.
I had a lot of mini houses scattered on the quilt, but the "toys" got the most attention. The tiny red house, was my toy as a young girl. "Close one eye and look in the peep hole!" I encouraged. "Top Cat" cartoon images could be seen.
The old "View Master" was from my husband's childhood. The disk with photos of the White House was from 1961. The 3-D images showed Jackie Kennedy's redecorated interior. "It doesn't look like this anymore!" Said R. as she flipped through the photos. "Our new president had Obama's carpet ripped out..." I laughed and assured everyone, that we wouldn't be getting political today.
We attempted a little house building with Lincoln Logs and a deck of cards. As fingers fiddled with slippery cards, I asked who could think of a song with the word house or home. A moment later, we were singing "Home on the Range" as we worked around the table.
What is Home?
We debated about the definition of home. Can a traveling cowboy call the range his home? Even though I was trying to steer away from politics, I cautiously played a recording of Woody Guthrie, singing "Ain't Got No Home".
The harmonica and tempo was upbeat enough to get M. up dancing. But the words were about being poor and homeless during the depression. I decided not to share the trivia that I learned when brainstorming the day before. I learned about Guthrie's re-wording of the song in the 1950's. Guthrie's new lyrics revealed his anger towards Fred Trump... as in President Trump's father! (I'm always learning)
Kids and Houses
We talked about houses kids love, like doll houses, tree houses and playhouses. M. had a memory of hiding underneath the house. "It was always cool under there!" B. told about her brothers helping her climb on the roof... to smoke cigarettes!
And we talked about how we loved drawing houses when we were children. We used our index fingers to draw in the air, the way we remembered drawing houses as a child."I always started with a square bottom and a triangle roof!" "I liked making a chimney and smoke coming out!" M. drew the circular smoke shape in the air. "And flowers in the yard... and a sun!"
Photos and Questions
I handed out sheets with photographs and brainstorming questions.
For a moment all was quiet as the group studied their images. I had planned on taking turns, so each could ask their question to the group. But suddenly the group was discussing with each other, sharing and remembering with those seated nearby. My questions weren't needed. Whether the photos showed castles or huts, mansions or teepees, everyone seemed to be reminded of a place they saw, or a home they remembered. I wish I could have heard all the conversations that went on at once.
Sharing and Comparing
We only had a short time to share as a group, before the clock reminded that it was time for lunch. We sadly didn't get a chance to share about our idea of the perfect dream house.
I packed up my stuff, which as usual, was more than we needed. I headed to the car with their voices an stories filling my head.
Good To Be Back
What Did I Learn? After 8 months away, I learned that I still love being a part of these groups. My little detour with cancer could have given me an excuse to stop planning these crazy themes and toting my loads. But I was glad to be back! It was great to see my Quilt Buddies, again!
For 20+ years children have called it the Magic Quilt. They've danced and pretended all over these colorful squares. I've dragged it to schools, shelters and studios where children have climbed on top to hear Magic Quilt Stories and to act them out.