Anna Matilda Adams Lemmon — my maternal grandmother

“Except in rare and isolated areas, crafts no longer exist as a way of life.[…] In our day, crafts are newly respectable, but chiefly as ‘hobbies,’ as ‘occupational therapy,’ or as new fashions in interior decorating. Yet behind the excuses given for indulging in craft activities, there lurks a kind of half-buried question, a faint suspicion that there is more to all this. . .

“The myths and traditions tell us that it begins from above; that all art, all craft, starts as a divine revelation. ‘Ideas,’ writes Coomaraswamy, ‘are gifts of the spirit,'” A Way of Working—The Spiritual Dimension of Craft, edited by D.M. Dooling. (A.K. Coomaraswamy quote from Christian and Oriental Philosophy of Art).

Anna and Cory Lemmon

By far, my grandmother, Anna Matilda Adams Lemmon, produced the most needlework of the women in my family, at least the most that remains in the family.

Anna Adams on her parents farm with some kind of bird

Anna Matilda Adams was born August 3, 1915 in Covington, Miami County, Ohio.  She had to help with farm work when she was a child.  Beginning at the age of 5 or 6, Anna started attending school at a one-room schoolhouse that contained eight grades.

They didn’t have electric lights at home, so they used coal oil lamps to see with and would take one from room to room.  They had a large coal stove for heat.

Anna Adams and Cory Lemmon - early 1930s

My grandmother’s family was quite musical and for entertainment in the evenings they would get together and play music.  My great-grandfather played the fiddle.  Her brother played the guitar, and Anna played the piano.  She said, “We had a good time, just playin’ music and singin’.”  That’s how Anna met Cory who would eventually become her husband and my grandfather; he came out to the house with some friends for the entertainment.

Dresses our grandmother made for my two older sisters and me - 1958

Anna was happily married, raised three children and never worked a day outside the home.  She stayed busy embroidering and crocheting throughout her life.

Crocheted dress for great-granddaughter Anna - 1988

She produced numerous embroidered pillow cases and doilies; she crocheted numerous doilies and various other items; and she produced probably hundreds of crocheted afghans.  I personally own four.

My daughter Anna with my grandmother who she was named after, 1988.

We celebrated my Grandma Lemmon’s 90th birthday in the summer of 2005.  I made a display of photos and some of her needlework that we had collected over the years.  At the time, she suffered from dementia and was eventually moved out of her home and into an assisted living apartment, and later to a nursing home where she died in 2010. The last years of her life she had very poor vision and was no longer able to do any needlework.

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See The Stitches We Leave Behind under the Series tab above for more links in this 10-part series.

The Stitches We Leave Behind — Introduction

When I was in college the second time, this time earning an English degree, I took a concentration of Women’s Studies classes. This is the first in a multi-part series from a project I wrote while taking a Women’s Studies/English class called “Reading between the stitches.” You can find other series I’ve written, or am writing, about on my “Series” tab above.

Hand-stitched album cover for "The Stitches We Leave Behind" project


By Christine Grote February 20, 2006


I have humble roots.  Many of my ancestors were farmers, with a few craftsmen and women thrown in.  Although a few of my ancestors came to this country in the mid-1800s with the great German migration, many of them had been in this country since pioneering days.  Much of the needlework the women in my family did reflects a simple, utilitarian purpose, typical of the pioneering mindset, as opposed to elaborate and fancy quilts and needlework.

From a genealogical perspective, women in families are difficult to trace, but logic tells us that if there was a male ancestor here in this country, he had a female mate, although she may be unknown to me.  When I think about my women ancestors, I realize I may never know much about them, but I may have a connection to them even so.

I know how to do many kinds of needlework.  I sew, embroider, knit, and crochet.  Without exception, I learned these crafts from a female member of my family.  My mother taught me most, but my grandmother on my father’s side of the family taught me a few things as well. Reason stands to offer that the women who taught me were likely taught by their mothers and/or grandmothers.  This passing down of a talent or craft probably occurred from early times.  My needlework abilities have come to me through a curious, unidentifiable, circuitous path through the women in my family for generations.  It is my connection to them.

See The Stitches We Leave Behind under the Series tab above for more links in this 10-part series.

Knee surgery day schedule

Surgery day schedule:

3:45 a.m. – Mark gets up 15 minutes before the alarm is set to go off and I wake up with him.

4:30 a.m. – We leave for the hospital a half hour away.

5:10 a.m. – We  arrive at the surgicare unit and check in. A few minutes later Mark goes back for pre-op preparations while I continue to wait in a very crowded waiting room.

5:45 a.m. – I join Mark back in his pre- op room.

6:45 a.m. – Someone comes and rolls Mark away. A nurse shows me where the surgery waiting area is. I am the first family member there. They give me a pager and I set up camp at the single table in the room.

7:30 a.m. – Mark’s surgery begins. Our daughter Anna arrives to keep me company.

10:10 a.m. – My pager goes off and I am led to a small conference room to wait for the doctor who arrives about 20 minutes later. He tells me that the surgery was an A+ for both legs and that Mark would be in the recovery room about 2 hours.

11:00 a.m. – Anna leaves to get us lunch at Pot Bellys. She brings back the walker and Mark’s suitcase from my car when she returns with the food at 11:30.

12:15 – My pager goes off again and Anna and I are escorted to the recovery room where we see Mark briefly. He is wide awake and very alert. I tell him every single little thing the doctor told me. I read from my little notebook the notes I took because I knew Mark would be asking me questions. The nurse gives us his room number. We take his and our things up. I wipe every surface area that he might come in contact with using antibacterial wipes as the nurse who called from our insurance company recommended.

12:45 – Eric rolls Mark in his bed into the room. Mark’s spirits are high and he is joking with the nurse. The nurse is very busy checking Mark’s vital signs and setting things up. Mark has three bags hanging from his IV pole.. He is wearing oxygen. He has drainage tubes leading from each knee to a receptacle. Later the blood collected will be infused back into him through his IV. I think this  is a very brilliant invention and handy device. Mark’s right knee hurts worse than his left. When asked he says it is a 5 or 6 on a scale of 10. He is likely still receiving pain relief from his spinal and the nerve blocks he received post surgery.

1:15 – Our son Mark Joseph stops by. Mark takes a cat nap.

2:00 – Anna and Mark Joseph leave. Mark sleeps and I relax on this nice sofa in his room.

3:00 – The physical and occupational therapists arrive. With the help of the nurse they get Mark into a standing position and move him into a recliner. He does GREAT. The OT said he is the best bi-lateral patient she has ever seen. Mark starts shaking in the recliner and the nurse gets him warm blankets. She assures us it is probably from the anesthia and it is quite common. The therapists leave. Mark falls asleep in the recliner. The nurse stops back periodically.

4:00 – The nurse brings him more pain medicine. She has gotten approval from the doctor to give it to him every 3 hours instead of 4.

It’s 4:30 and we are waiting for the nurse to come with helpers to get him back in bed. He is using his breathing device to exercise his lungs every hour. The physical therapist has just returned. She’s going to have him do some exercises. I’m a little worried it might be a rough night when all the spinal and nerve block medicines wear off. I plan on going home tonight because I didn’t realize I could stay. I may decide to stay tomorrow night and will decide later.

Thanks for all your thoughts and good wishes.


You can find links to the entire series on Bilateral knee replacement surgery here.

The ones that get away

I woke up three times in the night trying to solidify a blog post idea for today that was flitting around my mind. But like the beautiful,  colorful, yet elusive butterflies that grace my gardens from the spring to the fall, the idea flitted away. I woke with nothing.

I have been carrying a small notebook in my purse for a while now to catch these elusive ideas, and sometimes I do. I bought a tape-recorder many years ago and kept it in my car for those times when my mind loves to play as I drive along a highway. I rarely used it. Instead, when a wayward, yet interesting thought pops into my head, I try my old memorization technique of repetition until I can get someplace where I can write it down. That usually works during the day. But at night, not so much.

Perhaps another little notebook on my bedside table?

My next task is to get myself organized and collect the snippets I do catch somewhere I can find them again. Maybe next year will be the year.

So here’s to the fascinating post that never made it out of my head and you and I will never read.

Do you ever lose great ideas? What do you do to catch and keep them?

From Butterflies of Brazil —2011 Butterfly Show at the Krohn Conservatory

A little Christmas Eve story with Happy Holiday Wishes

Arthur stands at the window all day and watches.  He looks up.

He looks down. What is he looking at?

Oh my. Arthur sees a squirrel up on the chair. The squirrel is trying to jump to the bird feeder.

The squirrel gives up and goes for the easy pickings.

Arthur barks at the squirrel.

The squirrel doesn’t care. The squirrel only worries when I say to Arthur, “Do you want to get the squirrel?” and Arthur turns and dashes  from the room. He runs around the banister in the hall, taking the curves on three-legs. He runs to the door and gets into a stance to sprint. When I open it, he dashes out the door straight for the squirrel. The squirrel is halfway across the driveway or up a tree by the time Arthur makes it across the porch.

It’s no wonder Arthur barks at those pesky squirrels.

Who invade his territory.

Arrogantly tease him.

And then run away.

But Arthur doesn’t worry. He’ll be right back here at the window tomorrow. Doing his job.

Merry Christmas to all who celebrate it with us. And happy winter holidays, however you celebrate them, from the squirrel-chasing, bird-defending little white dog and me.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Texture

In an old section of downtown Cincinnati called Over the Rhine, narrow and tall old brick buildings loom side-by-side with no space in-between. Someone new moves in, buys the building next door and, with a bit of renovation, what was once an outside wall gets a fresh coat of paint applied and becomes an interior one.

Such is the case for this wall inside the Art Academy of Cincinnati where texture abounds in the concrete floors, open metal staircases, windows to the sky, and walls that are hung with fine artworks constantly in creation there.

More on the Art Academy of Cincinnati next week.

Self-Publishing— Project Update: Moving forward

I decided to arrange these updates into categories, because more than anything else, I think the challenge of self-publishing is being able to keep all the balls in the air at the same time. A self-publisher has to perform the tasks of a writer, editor/publisher, business manager, and marketing director.


The large portion of the past month has been spent in rewriting Dancing in Heaven to omit family members who so requested. This involved cutting three large sections out, rearranging the flashbacks or vignettes that appear in the second part of each chapter, and writing a new section. Then I had to comb through the entire manuscript to remove any reference to, or inference of, additional siblings. I did this twice. I also had to remove photos. In some cases I cropped or Photoshopped individuals out. In other cases I selected new photos to replace the ones I had to remove.

I also edited and revised the extra pages that are located at the beginning of the book: the title page/s, copyright, dedication, acknowledgements, table of contents, and author bio.

I sent all of this to my graphic designer (and daughter) who will hopefully work her magic on it and make it all shiny again.


I am very excited about the early draft of the book cover that my daughter is designing and can’t wait to show it to you when it is finished, which I hope will be soon. It’s better than I had hoped for and actually brought tears to my eyes.

I haven’t assigned an ISBN to the book yet and am going to wait until I know that we are close to publishing it. I think this is a simple matter of going into my account at Bowkers and giving them the title information. I decided not to register the copyright or get a Library of Congress listing. I don’t think it is that critical, and quite frankly, I’m starting to weary of all the red tape.

I have an account on Createspace, the print on demand provider I intend to use. I will have to navigate my way through their site when I have a final document and cover to upload.

I still need to finish the copy for the back of the cover. I have two short blurbs that I may use and am waiting on a third. I have a book summary written. I think Createspace will generate the barcode for me, but I need to verify that.

Once I get Createspace up and running, I will look into what is needed for the e-book, which I hope and suspect will be a simple matter.

Business Manager

Grote Ink, LLC is a registered company, with a checking (and savings) account and a debit card. I opted out of the credit card. I have been trying to collect receipts for all expenses up to date which include editing costs, workshop fees, legal fees for company registration, and ISBN purchase. I decided to apply for a Delivery Vendor’s License which will allow me to hand sell books at events, if I so choose, throughout the state of Ohio.

I plan to keep the business financial records on paper as well as on our copy of QuickBooks. I’ve used this computer program for my husband’s company with questionable success at times. (The accountant has had to bail me out on more than one occasion.) It’s one of those programs that thinks it knows what you want to do and at times whisks numbers away from you, which never reappear, ergo, I’m keeping paper records as well.

As far as the business goes, I think it is just a matter of keeping financial records from this point forward.

Marketing Director

I need a plan.

I have a vague notion of announcing the availability of Dancing in Heaven on my blog and social media sites, sending out a few free copies, and creating bookmarks, otherwise I’m pretty much stuck at the starting gate.

I also need a website, which I hope to create in the coming weeks.

I know I will need book reviews. I know there are other things I can do to promote Dancing in Heaven. I just have to sit down and figure it all out to come up with a plan. Since the business set-up, and hopefully writing, work is done, once I get the publishing activities behind me, I should be able to devote all of my time to figuring out marketing.

As always, I am open to any helpful suggestions you may have.

Have a restful weekend.

The Murals of Cincinnati Artist Amanda Checco

The willowy woman bursts into a room like a beam of sunlight. Her positive energy and optimism energize the room. The artist is a powerhouse of color. Her work energizes the space. The woman and artist is Amanda Checco.

I first met Amanda several months ago when our youngest son Mark Joseph became friends with her through their shared interest in art and their Artworks connection. At the time, she had asked Mark to photograph her mural in-progress.

Find Your Soul in the City by Amanda Checco

Amanda was working on “Find your Soul in the City,” her second mural. This mural is located inside a store called Park & Vine in Over the Rhine, a section of downtown Cincinnati that is undergoing an artistic rebirth. You can see photos of the work in-progress and read about the design and commission of “Find your Soul in the City” on this link to Amanda’s blog.

“‘Find your Soul in the City’ mural is meant to be very spiritual,” Amanda writes in an e-mail. “I used sacred geometry, chakras and symbols from several different religious and spiritual groups.”

Amanda also used Metatron’s cube in her design of “Find your Soul in the City.” This link takes you to this mind-bending YouTube video about Metatron’s Cube and Consciousness. If you have ten minutes to spare, it is well worth it.
“My belief about colors,” Amanda writes, “is that they are powerful healing tools for everyone. I try really hard to wrap my head around color theory and subtle shifts in hue and saturation. And hopefully I will continue to master that. But for this mural, and for ice cream day dream too (Amanda’s first mural shown at the end), I just chose colors that make me happy in hopes that they will elicit the same reaction from other viewers.”
Amanda sent me the following two links about color theory and therapy, and video about chakras’ colors if you would like to learn more about this fascinating topic:
How do you turn a manageable design into a work of art that covers an entire wall from floor to ceiling? Amanda documents the process of transferring the mural to the wall and the first paint strokes with photos in this blog post.
After she began to paint the mural, Amanda decided to refashion some of the characters. “I was trying to figure out how to push some areas in the design as we were beginning to paint,” she writes in her blog.  I thought it would be a good opportunity to investigate something that Ive always loved- fashion.  I felt so many characters in this image were REALLY wanting to wear something awesome.” (From !Character Refashionizin! where you can see Amanda’s inspiration and sketches.)
This break-dancing “bird” character, according to Amanda, is based on my son, Mark. “I had just met him when I started designing, so I decided to put him on the wall,” Amanda writes. “Artists always make work about their life.”
According to Amanda, “Find your Soul in the City” is not finished yet. “It is really not knocking me over like I’d like it to,” she says. “I’ll be going back and adding more to make it a more intense experience.” The mural dedication will be Final Friday in August, (a local street celebration in this area of Downtown Cincinnati that occurs on the last Friday of each month).
Ice Cream Day Dream by Amanda Checco and Cincinnati Artworks

You can read Amanda’s five-part series on How to Make a Mural that she wrote while working on her first mural, “Ice Cream Day Dream.” This mural is located on the backside of the historic Germainia building at the corner of Jackson and 12th streets in Cincinnati’s rapidly growing arts district called the Gateway Quarter.  See more of Amanda’s artwork on her blog

Can we ever really know someone?

Can we ever really know someone?

Someone has a child who amasses weapons and ammunition and takes it all to school where he uses it to kill many others and then himself. They never saw it coming.

The faithful and enthusiastic new spouse, or the 30-year constant spouse and partner, cheats.

We believe the things we think we know about someone from what he or she chooses to let us see, and what we are actually willing to see and not deny.


The question was recently posed as a writing prompt: If you could read other people’s minds, would you want to?

I thought at the time, and think even more fervently today, no. Maybe I would find out that truly there are people in the world with pure thoughts who glow golden on the inside, but more likely I would be disheartened by universal disappointments in finding out that people are not who I thought they were.

Perhaps the more important exercise would be to imagine that others can read my mind, and strive to form my own thoughts accordingly.