Thank you for the kind words, both here and on Facebook, regarding my making up with my friend of twenty-plus years. Some of you may be confused by Reader Tom's comment. What? Jen said she and her friend made up. Why would Reader Tom call this person bad names, unless..... ohhhhhhh. I'm a bit slow when it comes to things like this so I apologize if I've insulted your intelligence by telling you what you'd already figured out. Outing can be a noun, but in this blog I'm clearly using it as a verb.
On the subject of outing: I've been thinking a lot about my mother-in-law and if it's true that I know my former mother-in-law better than I know Paula. I've decided that it's not true at all; it's just that Paula is a much more subtle person than Big Mamoo.
I should clarify that Big Mamoo was not an especially large woman -- perhaps 5' 7" and about 150 pounds. Her sons gave her this name because she was the undisputed boss, the one you DO NOT mess with, the one who drives, picks the radio station, and who will call you out on your BS even if it isn't BS at all. Maybe you're quiet because you're shy and not because you think you're better than everyone else. Okay, so maybe you do think you're a little better than everyone else. But you're also shy.
Back to Paula, who is no doubt feeling squeamish right now. If she met Big Mamoo, the one thing they'd agree on is that Jen is dangerously capable of saying something that really should not be said.
Paula has the gift of giving the perfect gift. This sounds small, but it is actually HUGE. Being a good gift-giver implies all sorts of other good qualities, like that you are a good listener. You pay attention to what gets other people excited. You care about what gets other people excited. You have watched your strange little daughter-in-law lo these twenty-one years and have learned how to read her: even before she had a blog.
Big Mamoo was hit or miss when it came to presents. She worked in retail and usually gave me clothing. Once she gave me a dress I loved: it was a red, trapeze number with a Peter Pan collar and three buttons going down the front. This may sound like a strange garment now, but in 1989 it was the height of fashion and I adored it.
But one year, the last Christmas we were in each other's lives, Mamoo missed the mark. She gave my ex's brother's wife and me the same gift and since we were all having Christmas together, we saw that we were both receiving the same gift. Now that doesn't sound so bad, you're thinking. In fact, for all I know Paula has bought both Andrew's wife, Megan, and me the same thing on occasion. We share some common interests and would both be happy with a gorgeous array of Noro skeins in an attractive new knitting bag, complete with cards of antique buttons.
But my ex's brother's wife (we'll call her Sally) and I had little in common. She collected Cracker art and she was indeed a Cracker. Reading this would not offend her: she knew the etymology of the word yet still identified herself as a Cracker with no small amount of pride. She was an artist who worked solely with watercolors, and most of her paintings were of manatees in rainbow hues. I had come to Florida that Christmas with Ruthie, my miniature dachshund, in tow and Sally's husband had just given her a rottweiler puppy.
Sally and I got along fine, but we were not alike and perhaps the biggest difference between the two of us was our appearance. In those days I was a very slender 95 pounds, 5' 1" (that part hasn't changed), with a buzz cut and A LOT of black eyeliner. Sally was a perpetually tan Floridian with swingy blond hair. She was around 5' 10" and wore lip gloss with sparkles.
The gift Mamoo gave to both of us was clothing: a button-down white blouse that was actually sewn into a sweater vest: a Christmas sweater vest with Santa driving his sled, all eight reindeer and the entire portrait tableau liberally adorned with sequins. Sally and I exchanged glances and pretended to like the sweater vests, but Ex and his brother broke into uproarious laughter and tried to get us to put on the matching tops and pose for a photo. Somehow, Sally and I got around this request but you know what? I wish we hadn't. My children know pretty much all there is to know about my first marriage -- as Agatha says, it's part of The History -- and such a photo would amuse them no end.
This year my mother-in-law got a new granddaughter around the time of my birthday (I don't have posting rights to Baby L., but she's adorable) and asked me outright what I wanted. I told her I wanted a gift certificate to my favorite needlepoint shop.
With it I bought six small canvasses featuring Henry VIII and his five wives.
The clerk who helped me choose the threads shared the following photos with me, to show how the finished projects could be made into bolsters. Whoever needle-pointed these made some unusual choices. For instance, Henry is a woman.
Perhaps the needle-pointer couldn't bear to commemorate poor, misunderstood Henry. She also used metallic threads in places and and some different stitches than the basic needlepoint. Still, I love the bolsters and I know that Sabina, our Elizabethanist, will love them.
I have already made some serious headway on Anne Boleyn.
I've finished two other projects recently. I can show you one of them, since Miss Susan has already received it. I'm pretty sure they're supposed to be Romeo and Juliet, but I changed the hair color of both parties to match that of Susan and her husband:
The other project is out being blocked. It's for my sister and the canvas was hand-drawn by Agatha.
Speaking of Agatha, I made her pose for about thirty photos the day before she left for Japan. Here's our Agatha-of-the-day. I had asked her to give me a Downton Abbey pose, since she was wearing a Dowton Abbey-ish dress: