Archive for February, 2010

My son

Here’s the man who made it possible for me to drive again.


And on the same day that I got my driver’s license, Michael soloed for the first time—five take-offs and landings.

When I asked him, “Am I ready to solo?”


Read Full Post »

I AM going to drive!

Yesterday I got my driver’s license.

You may remember the story about how I failed to get my license and then eventually gave up the idea of driving.

When my sons read that blog, I heard from them. “NO.” Son Michael e-mailed me that the personal freedom driving would give me was too important to be abandoned. “Get the license,” he wrote, “and I’ll help you.”

“Okay, Michael,” I wrote back. “I’m thinking about it.”

In October I asked Michael to take me to the Verizon store to have my cell phone serviced. While he had me trapped in his car, Michael, VP Sales and Marketing for the company that bought the company he started, went to work on me. Every objection I raised, he could overcome. I kept saying, “Yes. I hear you and I am thinking about it.”

“No, JoWynn. I want you to commit. I want you to commit to getting a learner’s permit (which I had to have because I’d failed the driving test) and I will take you to the MVA to get it. I want you to commit to practice driving and I will come here and take you driving. That’s all. If you commit to doing those two things, you get to visit with me.”

How could I say “no”? (I wonder how anyone says “no” to Michael.)

When he dropped me at our entrance, as I was outside his car, he said, “I challenge you to get your driver’s license before I solo.” (He’s taking flying lessons.)

“How long will that be?” I queried, hesitant.

“Two months.”

Since then I’ve had hours and hours of driving instruction by Michael with me behind the wheel; and we’ve had hours and hours of conversation, just the two of us in the car or stopped for coffee somewhere.

We’ve made four trips to the MVA, 28 miles one-way from Charlestown. The first time we went to get my learner’s permit, I had neglected to bring my Social Security card with me. Even though I was already in their system with all the information and had passed the vision and knowledge tests, they had to see the physical card. No learner’s permit. Mortification.

The second time we went back to Westminster, it was only after a lot of backing and forthing with the desk agent and a supervisor about something in the system, that I did finally get the permit.

The third time we went to Westminster, with me driving, was to make sure the old Audi I’ve been practice driving would be acceptable as the test vehicle. It was.

The fourth time was yesterday, when I left with my license.

Michael’s a terrific driving instructor and a great coach. Last year he taught 17-year-old son Josh to drive and he taught wife Carolyn to drive her new stick-shift car. He reminded me that when he was about 18, he had taught my mother to drive—stick-shift. What an experience that was! And I taught Michael to drive and took him for his driver’s license testing. Then I watched him drive away in my stick-shift VW beetle. 1971.

Two weeks ago I made the appointment for my driving test at 2:45 on Wednesday, February 24th. That morning, yesterday,  Michael called and exulted, “I just soloed!”

We did it on the same day, though Michael flew a few hours before I drove.

Last night we celebrated at his house with a bottle of wine in the hot tub and cheese fondue prepared by Josh.

Were we excited?

My next tasks, assigned by Michael are 1) to make a list of the places I want to go now that I can drive, and 2) to learn how to drive with stick-shift, which I used to love.

Read Full Post »

A few days ago I completed filling in the first S shape on my jacket.


When I began working on these shapes, I intended to make them as similar as possible, adding the same element to each of the Ss. But as I began filling in around the larger beads and the feather stitching, I realized that I can’t really do that. First of all, the transferred shapes are not identical, and secondly, I need to see how the effect develops as I add threads and beads.


A last minute decision, after I had done all the filling, was to sharpen and smooth the outline with copper super pearl purl. That looks like this:


Here the end of the purl has been stretched, as it is for couching down. For comparison, that’s #5 DMC variegated cotton pearl thread shown with the metal thread. The super pearl purl is slightly finer than the #5 cotton pearl.

Now this is up close and personal.


It took over 12 hours. I forgot to start keeping track of the time I spent at the beginning so I don’t know exactly how many hours went into filling this S.

Five more to go. And each will be distinctive, unlike the others.

Read Full Post »


Isabeau Kiryn Johns, just arrived,


my first great-grandchild on my side of the family, born February 13th in Seattle. Her father is my first grandson, Caleb. Here’s the new family, shortly after delivery—my grandson Caleb, his wife Lauryth, and Isabeau.


According to one source, the name Isabel is of Hebrew origin, meaning “God’s promise, which is why they chose this name. Caleb, however, is a Francophile who speaks French and has studied in Paris; and so they Francophied the name, substituting “beau” which means the same as “belle” in French—beautiful. So, Isabeau is God’s promise and beautiful.

The middle name, Kiryn, has a more complicated origin, and maybe Caleb will comment to correct what I’ve  missed or gotten wrong. They came to this name through a long process of reflection and research, starting with the desire to have a name with the initial K. First, they found a Gaelic name they liked a lot, that, though it started with a C, was pronounced as the K. This name, however, had nine or ten letters. I imagine an unpronounceable Welsh name. In fact, it is pronounced something like Kiryn, and it means “poet.” Through lots of steps, they found names in both some Indian language and in Japanese that are pronounced in this way. (Lauryth has been studying Japanese and visited Japan last year.) The Indian name means “hero” or “heroic” and the Japanese name means “dark one”—think black hair, black eyes, which Isabeau has. And Lauryth and Caleb invented a spelling—Kiryn, that carries the meanings of poet, hero, and dark one, and shouldn’t be hard to pronounce.

When I told my neighbor that my new great-granddaughter is named Isabeau, but that I hoped they would nickname her “Beau”, Helen said, “Well of course you can call her that—as long as her mother isn’t around!” So “Beau” she is to me.

Then when Caleb called to tell me the story of her name, he said, “And we intend to nickname her Beau.”

Trés bon.

Welcome, Beau!

Read Full Post »

In the 1960s Andy Warhol told an interviewer, “In the future everyone will be famous for fifteen minutes.” From whence came the common cliché, “15 minutes of fame.”

At present, I am having my 15 minutes of fame. The Erickson Tribune, the house organ, marketing organ, of the company that developed and manages Charlestown, published a story about me because I have a blog.


I was interviewed by e-mail, then two wonderfully interesting young women from The Tribune—an editor and graphic designer/photographer, came to my apartment. An editor who also writes and a graphic designer who also makes art. Oh how I enjoyed their visit! (And Sara, I love the design of the word “stitches’.)

Okay. The approach to me by the writer was that they wanted a story about a resident who blogs, and there is something about my blog in the story; but the comments made to me by residents who’ve seen the story have all been about my stitching. “Look,” they say, “there’s the stitcher.” Not “there’s the blogger.”

When I mentioned this reaction to my neighbor, fellow-stitcher, and Internet-savvy friend, she said, “They probably don’t know what a blog is.” So said my neighbor across the hall, too.


After photographing lots of my work, they published a shot of my crazy recovery patchwork improvisation. If you look closely, you’ll see the website of this blog, Parkview 616, on my computer screen.  But what people here got is not that I work at a computer, but that I work with needle and thread.

Read Full Post »

Since I last posted about my jacket embellishment project, I’ve begun filling in the S shapes with beads and stitching.


As you can see, the bottom left shape is still empty. I ran out of the silk ribbon and had to order more. Meanwhile, I’ve been filling the other shapes by adding one element at a time to all of them. (I hope I can retrace my steps when the silk ribbon gets here.) I’m sorry the next shot is fuzzy. I took lots of pictures with different settings, with and without flash and this is the best I could do.


So far, in addition to the silk ribbon feather stitching, I’ve added coppery iridescent bugle beads, large gold glass beads at the tips, heishi shell beads held in place by a coppery seed bead, and stitching in variegated gold DMC cotton pearl thread. Here are the materials.


Onward. I wonder whether we will have mail delivery today…..

No mail.

Read Full Post »

More snow

Here’s the current weather report from UMBC at 4:00 p.m. Wednesday:

Blizzard warning in effect until 10 PM est this evening… Moderate to occasionally heavy snow can be expected across northeast Maryland including the immediate Baltimore area through the rest of this afternoon. Additional snow accumulations of 2 to 3 inches will occur through 6 PM. With strong northwest winds of 20 to 30 mph with gusts to 45 mph…this will produce considerable blowing and drifting of snow. Visibilities from falling snow and blowing snow will be reduced to one quarter mile or less. Be prepared for near white-out conditions at times.

And here’s what it looks like here. Looking at the trees you can see at the top of this blog.


Looking down from my window into the courtyard at about 4:00 p.m.


This is actually how it looked—white-out.

The police announced that driving was a violation subject to fine. No one is allowed to drive on the roads.

This is actually what I saw, looking at the Aquatic Center.


At the Care Center, where I visit every Wednesday, staff had made a snowman, but by the time I got there, the snowman had gained quite a lot of girth. And quite a lot of snow had collected on the windows.


Here’s another view from the Care Center.


The pictures look blurry because of the snow falling.

On my way to the Care Center I passed this entrance where the automatic doors were stuck open and snow was being blown inside.


The parking lot you saw on Sunday looked like this today.


But Charlestown staff were up to the challenge. All over campus, dormitories were set up in vacant apartments, in guest apartments, in meeting rooms, in offices, wherever there was space. And the staff were moving in with us.

IMG_0565 IMG_0564


Meanwhile, staff were also outside, even after dark, moving snow.


Finally, after dinner tonight, I looked out my window and saw this.



I asked the young women in the dormitory (recently vacated apartment) down the hall from us whether they’d like to see the videos I made of them last night. “Not now. Too tired. Maybe tomorrow.”

Read Full Post »

After the storm



Read Full Post »

Maryland is in a state of emergency, with over two feet of snow in Baltimore and three feet elsewhere; and the snow is still coming down, hard and fast. No public transportation is operating. Only single lanes of major roads are open. Most roads are deep in snow. Already early this morning, 150,000 plus customers were without electricity.

Here at Charlestown, many staffers spent the night and will be here again tonight. Others managed to get here somehow, but of course many could not. There was a memorial service this morning. The minister, the soloist, family members, and friends could not get here. Fortunately, the organist is the daughter of a resident and she is spending the weekend in her mother’s apartment.

It’s a dangerous, disastrous storm. At the same time, it is magnificently beautiful. I shot lots of pictures, walking through our whole community indoors.

At the top of this blog is a photograph I took from my window. Here’s the same view today. You can barely see the trees because of heavily falling snow, and that’s snow piled up outside my window.


Our windows as seen from the building opposite. Our windows are the two at the top with the snow-covered awnings beneath them.


More views of our campus in snow.


IMG_0510 IMG_0517


Parking lot


An entrance walkway.


The stream that meanders through our woods.


The covered bridge that spans the stream.



Our courtyard with the Aquatic Center where I swim every morning.



IMG_0532 IMG_0531

Our lake and the Baltimore Harbor skyline that we see on clear days and nights.


Truly awesome beauty. Truly awful event for many.

Read Full Post »

After I had couched the copper braid over all the outlines, I forgot to photograph the jacket. Putting the white guide line stitches in (over the tissue paper, as I’ve described) was tedious, but taking them out was a real pain. By the way, after I’d couched five more Ss, I’d become more skilled. This means that I had to remove the first couched S and replace it with a better version.

Here, as you can see, I’ve already begun to fill in the S shapes. The silk ribbon feather stitching will virtually disappear as I add other stitches and beads.

Read Full Post »