Museum of Me | November 2022

Museum of Me | November 2022

I have been thinking about this exhibit for some time now (since last month, actually!!) and it has been one of the most enjoyable exhibits to put together!

Come in and consider the Unsung Hero… or Sheroes as is the case for me. As you all know, I frequently sing the praises of my sweet Nana, and my grandpa’s (maternal and paternal)! But do I have an Unsung Hero lurking about in my past?

Indeed I do! And not just one, but a dozen! And today I would like to share a bit about these amazing women.

First, we have to go way back in time to the late 80’s… I was living with my soon-to-be-husband, who traveled most of the month for work… so I had volumes of alone time. And back then, I was a very regular church attender and I remember vividly the Sunday that the ladies quilting group completed an altar cloth for very special occasions. It was stunning… the work was just incredible. And I remember talking with these amazing artists (all of whom I had known for most of my life) and asking eleventy-billion-questions! And the women said these magical words… why don’t you join us? And so I did! They generally met once a week for several hours – cutting fabrics, sewing, making the “quilt sandwiches”, tying the sandwiches, and then binding the quilts. Oh… and there was always a potluck for lunch (which might have been the best part of the entire day!)

Not only did this group occasionally make gorgeous altar cloths, each year they sewed dozens of quilts for Lutheran World Relief.

And so I joined… a non-quilter, but one eager to learn. I never became as proficient as some of the ladies in that group, but I could cut squares and sew a straight line with the best of them!

But the Very Best Thing Ever, and my favorite part, was was the making of The Tulip Time Quilt Show Quilt! This quilt would be entered in the Tulip Time Quilt Show in Holland, Michigan. It was a Big Deal and they were all hand quilted. There are not enough superlative words to describe how wonderful it was to be sitting around the quilting frame with the dearest of friends as we stitched, talked, and in general… just loved the heck out of each other! We shared joys, sorrows, struggles, heartaches, frustrations, fears… and even the dreaded meal planning wall that we all have hit!! You know the one… where you don’t feel at all creative and are sick of everything you have recently been cooking. Pre-internet days, there was not a vast well of ideas… unless you were sitting around the quilting frame, that is! Some of my best meal ideas came from that group.

The things I learned from those ladies extended far beyond sewing quilts. They knew the importance of supporting each other… in all things. I am a better friend because of them… and my life is certainly richer for all the things they shared with me.

A true friend encourages us, comforts us, supports us like a big easy chair, offering us a safe refuge from the world. — H. Jackson Brown, Jr. 

Those ladies were all that… and so much more.

Thank you so much for visiting today! I hope you can send some time this weekend thinking about the unsung heroes in your life!

See you all back here on Monday!

 

Museum of Me | November 2022

Museum of Me | October 2022

I am convinced that most people do not grow up… We carry accumulation of years in our bodies, and on our faces, but generally our real selves, the children inside, are innocent and shy as magnolias. — Maya Angelou, Letter to My Daughter

This, my friends, was a very challenging post to write. I struggled. Mightily. And so you will note that comments are closed for this exhibit. Sometimes words are not necessary, but rather to just stand in the stillness of the memories and be tender with the child inside.

I do not remember ever having a dream wanting to be anything growing up… I really just wanted to live in a safe place. A place with no violence. No uncertainty. No feelings of pending doom.

I wanted to survive.

I do not recall any “what do you want to be” conversations happening in my youth. And in looking back, I realize that those conversations/dreams/ideals are for the privileged.

Sometimes survival is the dream and I did survive…in the very best way.

Thank you so much for visiting the museum this month. I want to thank Kym for providing thought-provoking topics for us to unpack.

I will see you all back here on Wednesday with a bit of Unraveling!

 

 

Museum of Me | September 2022

Museum of Me | September 2022

This month the curators were encouraged to update the thoughts about school exhibit… not necessarily a back to school exhibit, for which my curator heaved a sigh of relief. No need to stress over my lack of “back to school wardrobe, notebooks, binders, pencils, etc.” Whew! It is not my desire to have you all feel sorry for me…at age 61 I promise you that my lack of those things then have had no lasting impact on my well-being now.

Likewise, this will not be a picture heavy post but rather a bit of a commentary on my thoughts about school… of which I have a few… thoughts that is!

I had a “love hate” relationship with school. I have already shared that I was the child who was picked last for everything. I had some amazing teachers – who are still impacting my life today! As well as some less than amazing ones, who thankfully, I barely remember them today.

However, today I am going to talk about two teachers that altered my life dramatically…

When I went to high school (back in pre-historic times, lol) every sophomore had to take “Speech Class” – it was required for graduation. And, somehow, the education gods smiled on me because my teacher was magnificent! Mr. Berghorst opened my eyes to a world beyond Holland, Michigan. He challenged me to over come my fears of public speaking – for which I am profoundly grateful. He also inspired us to read… everything. His class room had a border of dozens of The New Yorker covers encircling it. He had a copy of The NY Times in his classroom for students to read. He knew that reading could take us anywhere and everywhere – and he encouraged us to read to learn, not just to read for “fun”!

The other “set” of teachers that changed my life were the cluster of history teachers I had in high school. They unlocked for me my deep and abiding thirst to learn about the past…every bit of the past, but the one who most significantly altered my life was my “Michigan History” teacher, Mr. Schaap. Michigan History was a required class for graduation as well, and I took it my junior year. Through Mr. Schaap, I learned a bit of the ugly history of Holland Michigan. (What today, I am certain would be erroneously classified as CRT and removed from the curriculum!) But Mr. Schaap also helped me start the Young Democrats. There was a group of us (laughably, The Young Democrats were a larger group than The Young Republicans) and we worked with the Ottawa County Democrats and even helped get the first Democrat elected to a county seat! Through Mr. Schaap, I made some delightful connections within my community that I did not know existed. (Apparently, there were lots of ‘hidden Democrats’ in Holland! HA) I also learned that the best history is the history that is painful to learn… because that process is the one that begins change.

I think often of these two men and the impact they had on my life. I also think that sometimes taking a class you think you will absolutely not like, or don’t see the value of what you might learn in that class… is exactly what you need to do. Go in, open your mind, listen, challenge yourself to do what you think you cannot, learn something painful, and grow! Those things are the keys to success in life…

Thank you for stopping and listening to me share a bit about my thoughts on school. I would like to thank Kym for leading us (and for the new artwork!)

Have a great weekend and I will see you all back here on Monday!

Museum of Me | July 2022

Museum of Me | July 2022

Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colors. And the people there see you differently, too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.
Terry Pratchett, A Hat Full of Sky

Greetings, dear visitors and welcome to the Vacation Exhibit at the As Kat Knits Museum.

This, dear visitors, is the most unusual exhibit I have ever prepared for you all. I did not start with words, but rather with images… and then added my very brief memories  around those images. In looking back at the photos from this trip, it makes me sad that I do not remember more but, I will share with you what I do remember so come along with me as I take you all back to 1996 and the Great Train Journey to the Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks!

Our trek started from the Amtrak station in Holland, Michigan… heading for Union Station in Chicago. A bit of a “lay over” and we then boarded a train for Denver, CO. We had sleeping accommodations, which were… tight… with 2 adults and 3 kids. The start was flat and soon dark as we began our overnight journey to Denver. I don’t remember much of that overnight trip, but I do remember our approach to Denver and the mountains, plus all the new wildlife we could see from the windows!

The train from Denver to Grand Teton National Park was equally incredible for the scenery. Lots of buffalo and antelope! Our destination… the Grand Tetons and all the surrounding area! And a mere 24 + hours later we had arrived in the Tetons…yes, that was a long time to be traveling… with 3 kids… what were we thinking? All these years later and I still don’t have an answer to that question! Although Mac and Cheese in the dining car with Heidi and Rachel watching the antelopes play interspersed with an occasional prairie dog sighting was certainly fun. And the herds of buffalo… so many herds of buffalo!

The Snake River in the background!

I think we were heading to find some water but Sam’s face tells it all… NO MORE PHOTOS, DAD! LOL

We did lots of hiking. Lots. Perhaps too much with a seven year old, a six year old, and a four year old. But you know what they say about hindsight… Anyways, we hiked lots!

Benetton and a Stage Coach… how’s that for an oxymoron!

Sam apparently LOVED the stage coach ride… although, I don’t remember it at all even looking at the photos! But there are notes in the photo album! So there’s that… sigh! Jackson Hole really felt like a strange time warp of a place. Old and New meshing in the most curious of ways. We spent a day exploring and of course we visited an Olde Tyme Photo Shoppe! I remember the kids loved it…so much! I don’t think the Red Dog Saloon was the same after our departure!

The Christensen Outlaw Family! 

I do, however, remember the Jackson Hole Antler Arch… the south entrance to Yellowstone. It was so memorable!

One tiny bit of Jackson Hole’s Antler Arch… and me rocking the Teva’s

I think my favorite part of the trip was our trek into Yellowstone. I had never been before and even thinking back now… I still cannot comprehend how massive Yellowstone is! With two + million acres, it is immense and majestic. I was awed by the magnificence of the area. We spent a couple of days dipping our toes into the park… and it was not enough. I would like to return… someday soon I hope!

Old Faithful being… well, faithful!

We did the typical touristy things.. Old Faithful, of course. Only a mother could appreciate its reliable schedule… my good days ran likewise but most days were on a schedule of time that I was not the master of, lol! (please see the three small but mighty beings in front of me… they ran the schedule every.single.day!)

Yellowstone Falls… and me rocking the Mom Jeans!

Likewise, I do not remember this hike either. But I do remember this gorge. It was so loud!

Ride ’em cowboy!

Sadly, I do not remember the name of the place we stayed in the Teton’s… but you can see it behind us here. It was sort of Swiss Chalet-y and the rooms were homey, as I vaguely recall. But!! They had horses and the kids loved them.

Okay, maybe Heidi loved them most, but Sam’s tongue out determination here was quite accurate! (and no… at this time I was not a knitter, but I did have a nice sweater! LOL)

Rachel, the bird whisperer…

The place we stayed also had people who came and did a falconry show of sorts. There were hawks, a golden eagle, and an owl, as I recall. But I absolutely will never forget the hawk that landed on Rachel’s head. She loved it. I loved it! it was just so magical! I wish I remembered more of the things we did… but honestly, these vacation days have blurred a bit for me. Even photos are not jogging my memory. I do remember trying to keep everyone happy, relatively quiet, having enough snacks and water, and making sure we did not lose anyone. Perhaps not the best memories.

But all things must end… and too soon. Goodbye elk and moose and buffalo! See you later mountains, and geysers, and sulfur springs!

Let the waiting begin…Sam, me, Heidi, and Rachel. 

In this moment, I was truly wishing we had picked the fly home option… but no, here we are at 6AM  at the Pocatello, ID Amtrak station… waiting for our train which at this point in time was 3 hours late. Yes, we got there at something like 2:30AM… how is it that I remember this so clearly! LOL Heidi was really expressing what all of us felt… why the heck are we not on the train. OR!! Why the heck are we not still in bed!! Not an auspicious ending to our trip…which made the 24 + hours even longer!

A fun trip, from what I can remember… oof! Sam has similar memories as I do… a few brief but spectacular ones. Heidi and Rachel remember a bit more… Heidi told me that this trip is what inspired her love of horses. (She was always, always, always asking if we could get a horse!) No one remembered food or restaurants or eating out. However, the girls reminded me of me packing Teddy Grahams for them every day… they said they were so delicious, lol!

Thank you all so much for reliving this vacation with me! I do so hope you enjoyed the exhibit! A huge thanks to Kym for inspiring me to dig out these old photos!

Have a great weekend all, see you back here on Monday!

Museum of Me – The Outdoor Games Edition | June 2022

Museum of Me – The Outdoor Games Edition | June 2022

Greetings dear museum visitors! For those of you expecting a visit to The Great Locker Room of Outside Games Memories… I am sorry, but there just is not that much sports participation in wee Kat’s life. In fact, there almost is not enough even share. But… if you follow along closely, you will find some bits and pieces of games-related things, and finally, a bit of a surprise (a surprise for Kat, most certainly!)

Let’s start at the very beginning…

Here we have a 4-year old Kat standing next to the snowman her mother had made. I don’t remember this day very well, but I do remember that I did not make the snowman. No games to be found here… but I did like to play in the snow!

Let’s head to the school games exhibit, shall we?

I’ve never liked the word team. I’ve always equated it with being picked last and getting nailed in the groin with a dodgeball. — Jordan Castillo Price

This quote aptly sums up my experience with outdoor games (i.e. dodgeball) as an adolescent… (although you could sub in head for groin in my case!) Yes, I was the kid who was always… and I mean always… picked last for any school sports event.  I don’t recall there being t-ball when I was in grade school. I remember some baseball games on the playground, but again… I was picked last and spent my time sitting in the outfield.

1st grade innocence… pre-dodge ball and by the time I got to middle school I knew exactly how to avoid the “picking for teams” issue.

I was the most singularly uncoordinated child on the planet. Eye hand coordination with a moving object… slim to none. (Think baseball or tennis… oof, so bad at it. Think basketball… that whole dribbling and running at the same time thing… yeah. Could.Not.Do.It.)

I was forced to take swimming lessons the summer I had my tonsils out… I still have nightmares about that experience. And while I can swim… it is on the “barely” scale. I don’t fear the water but I do have a healthy respect for it.

Although – this was not an outdoor activity – I did love calisthenics with Miss Kriger in Middle School… especially, leg lifts with your hands under your bum to Seals and Crofts Summer Breeze. And every time I hear that song, I think of that very thing…think of it, yes but I most certainly am not doing them! LOL Come to think about it, the best part of calisthenics was the music… oh and Miss Kriger, of course!

Thank goodness for Miss Kriger, she saw right through all that last picking nonsense… she picked the teams. (also I have no clue who the bouffant babe is…lol)

So, you might be wondering when I might be getting to the actual outdoor games content of this post…. wait no further, here it is!

High school brought new opportunities for me (plus, I was spending a lot more time at my grandparents house, a much calmer environment… and one I could invite friends to visit!)  A friend, Mary Jane Wehrmeyer, was an amazing golfer  – a shining star as a freshman on the golf team. She talked about golf non-stop and by my sophomore year she  had convinced me that being on the golf team with her was exactly what my life needed.

But, I had never played, did not have clubs, and had that eye hand coordination thing working against me. However, the coach, Mr. Maatman assured me he could help me learn golf, he would figure out clubs for me, and he ignored the whole eye hand conversation and so I eased my way into the golf team. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that my eye hand coordination was much better with a stationary golf ball. I could hit it! At least some of the time! The lack of golf clubs was not an issue because for practice and when we played at “home” (The West Ottawa Golf Course now called Three Fires Golf Club… what the heck? lol) I could use a set of clubs from the course. If we were “away” Mr. Maatman brought clubs for me to use. And suddenly, I discovered that being on a team could be a very personal sport. (And no one was throwing dodgeballs at me! Hahaha)

I began to look forward to practice every day after school. Walking the course, learning how to play, being outdoors with friends… but quiet. It was really a lovely escape. At the spring school sports banquet the following year, I even got a participation award. Looking back at this, the key to my golf enjoyment lay entirely with the coach who believed that showing up and trying every single time was worth noting. I did so love Mr. Maatman….please take the time to read his obituary… I will wait for you all  before continuing on.

Lovely, wasn’t he? He really was an amazing human.

But back to the exhibit… Golf was something that stayed with me beyond high school… although I did not play regularly like like I did in high school. I did work as a server for several summers at Clearbrook Golf Club in Saugatuck where one of the perks was being able to play the occasional round of golf!.

Sadly, golf and I parted ways permanently the year I tore my rotator cuff… but the lessons of golf are still with me. Relax..shoulders down, take a deep breath, and always…always… replace your divots! Good life lessons for anyone!

Thank you all for visiting today and I would especially like to thank Kym for inspiring all of us museum curators… I hope you enjoyed this little journey to Kat’s Very Brief (and incredibly unspectacular) Life with Outdoor Games!

Have a great weekend everyone!

 

Museum of Me – The Outdoor Games Edition | June 2022

Museum of Me | May 2022

Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers. ― Charles W. Eliot

Greetings, Gentle Readers!

This month is all about reading…specifically Your favorite book as a child/kid/teenager…

Let me get my docent hat on and begin to tell you all about The Reading Life of Kat!

This week there was great debate over what book was my actual favorite… there are oodles. Truly. Oodles. Do I talk about Laura Ingalls Wilders Little House Books? Or maybe Walter Farley’s Black Stallion series? Those were absolutely beloved books of my youth. Deeply beloved. Or maybe I should talk about E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web, or Stuart Little, or The Trumpet of the Swan… yep, deeply loved one and all. Or perhaps John Peterson’s The Little’s series… gosh, I loved them as well!

And so the Favorite Book Debate began… and while I loved every book mentioned above, none of those are what I am going to talk to you about today.

This exhibit has one book with some absolutely magnificent characters. It is a story of survival, over-coming loneliness, and so much more.

Scott O’Dell’s Island of the Blue Dolphins was a “turning point” book for me as I was growing up and it is a book that has stayed with me all these years later.

I am pretty sure that I had no idea what a Caldecott Medal winning book meant back then, but yes… it is absolutely an award winner. It was published the year I was born in 1960… which I don’t think I realized either when I first read it.

I clearly remember getting this book from the library for a Summer Reading Contest. It was a time when I was living at my grandparents house and I can remember laying in bed reading it late into the night (at least for a 10 year old girl!) Karana was a true heroine… a survivor… smart and capable. And who can forget Rontu, Tainor, Lurai, Mon-a-nee, and Rontu-aru! Karana overcame adversity, made friends with her enemy, and survived for eighteen years…alone…which to 10-year-old-me seemed like an eternity!

I remember having long conversations with my grandparents, describing to them life for Karana on her island. My grandpa was decidedly more interested than my nana was and he and I imagined how we might survive if we were stranded somewhere! But my grandpa’s favorite part was her befriending birds… such a smart choice!

I spent lots of time “being Karana” as a child… I desperately wanted to get a dog I could name Rontu. (I eventually got a dog, who got named Mitzi) And there were plenty of times as a child when I imagined being “left” permanently at my grandparents house (which did finally happen but not until I was a sophomore in high school).

Beyond my 10 year old self, this is a book I have read again too many times to count… and in each reading, it loses nothing, but rather, with each time I have read it I have gained new insights… it is absolutely a book that is a patient teacher!

If you have not read Island of the Blue Dolphins, today I would encourage you to do so! And if you’d like to take home a copy of the book, you will find one in the Museum’s Gift Shop! (Haha, yes that is my Amazon link)

Thank you so much for stopping by today and visiting this Museum of Me exhibit! A big thanks to Kym for all her work on this (and for the gorgeous new image!)

I wish you a great weekend from a house that at long last has a sofa! See you all back here on Monday!

 

 

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