Tag Archives: Friendship

Creative Juice #195

Creative Juice #195

Lots of beauty this week.

From the Creator’s Heart #209


Image 11-6-18 at 1.01 PM

N is for North Mountain Park

N is for North Mountain Park

A couple of weeks ago, I received an email:

Hi Andrea,
It’s me, Textile Ranger!  I am going to be in Phoenix the first part of next week, April 8 and 9, staying by North Mountain State Park.  I have stayed there before a few years ago, so you when you wrote about hiking at South Mountain, that registered with me.  It may be very far from your part of Phoenix to where I will be, but I just wanted to check with you about possibly meeting for lunch or an art museum visit or something on one of those days.  If you can’t make it, that is fine, but I didn’t want to come to Phoenix without mentioning it to you.
If you don’t know, Textile Ranger is the blogger behind Deep in the Heart of Textiles. I can’t remember how I stumbled across it, but I love it for the quilts Textile Ranger creates. She’s interested in (and writes about) everything textile, from fibers and dyes to antique clothing. She’s been weaving for decades. (She also has a nature blog, Little Wild Streak.) So, she’s something of a celebrity to me, and I jumped at the chance to meet her in person. And since I’ve been meaning to check out North Mountain Park, I suggested we hike there together before going out to lunch.
We met last Tuesday at the Visitor Center. She gifted me with a nifty water bottle holder that clips on nicely to the shoulder bag I usually carry when I’m hiking. Now I have a free hand!

Textile Ranger

And off we went. Ranger (she spent two summers as a park ranger at Big Bend) suggested a 2 1/2 mile trail that didn’t have any steep elevations. Perfect for walking and talking.
The huge park has breathtaking desert and mountain views. We had some good rains a few weeks ago, and we’ve been rewarded with lovely wildflowers.
Globemallow below:
I want to call these buttercups, but I’m not sure that’s what they are:
These flowers remind me of how little children draw flowers, just circles on a stem; I don’t know what they are–
But there was an area that was literally blanketed with them:
And the palo verde trees are just beginning to bloom:
Closeup of a pale verde blossom:
And the cholla cactus has these beautiful magenta blooms:
Back at the visitor’s center, there is a water fountain that dispenses chilled water. Heavenly! And there are beautiful plantings by the building. Don’t know what this bush is:
I think this is a pink globemallow:
Cool sculptures:
Which are the perfect backdrop for another picture of the Textile Ranger:
I am so thrilled that Textile Ranger is not just a virtual friend any more, but a real friend whom I know face to face. We have lots in common. She’s also a former elementary school teacher, and she loves to read. I’m so touched that she reached out to me. Be sure to check out her blogs, Deep in the Heart of  Textiles and Little Wild StreakShe’s going to post her take on North Mountain Park on Little Wild Streak today.
North Mountain Park is a place I will explore in more detail in the future.

In the Meme Time: How to Make Friends



Monday Morning Wisdom #170

Monday Morning Wisdom #170

Friendship is one of the most valuable treasures on earth. Like a precious gem when light shines through, it projects all its colors onto the background of our lives. Truly, it is friendship that makes us rich. To share with a friend is to double the joy, while sharing sadness halves the pain. When we’re with a friend, the sun shines warmer, the birds sing more beautifuly, the ocean is wider, and the mountains are higher. ~Marjolein Bastin

How I Learned to Love Geometry

How I Learned to Love Geometry

This article appeared on Doing Life Together on May 26, 2017.

I met Deedee in Girl Scouts.

She went to public school, I attended parochial school. Our paths would never have crossed in elementary school were it not for Scouts.

What I remember most about Deedee from those early years is that she loved ballet, and often spent “down” time moving through her positions or practicing her arabesque.

Deedee’s family valued education. Her mom taught high school history; her dad was a Ph.D. who taught at a nearby college.

Her first name was really Cornelia. Her father affectionately called her Corn Doodle. (Back in the day, Corn Doodles were a snack something like Cheetos®.) From there, the nickname morphed into Doodle Deedle, Deedle, and, finally, Deedee. (One of her sisters was named Priscilla, nicknamed Lolly–but that’s another story).

We didn’t become good friends until high school, where we were in chorus together.

I hated math, mostly because I found it tedious and difficult. I had to repeat freshman algebra during the summer.


But the first day of sophomore year, I discovered Deedee was in my geometry class. We also had lunch together the next period. We chose a table, sat down with our food, and after the first bite, Deedee opened her geometry book to the homework assignment and said, “How will we solve the first problem?”

My reaction was Can’t it wait? Like maybe seven hours or so?

But I didn’t understand something elemental about Deedee. She loved math. To her, problems were puzzles. She couldn’t wait to take them apart and conquer them.

That day set the tone for the whole year. Frequently, we started our homework during lunch. We didn’t necessarily finish it, but talking through the first few examples with Deedee helped me learn strategies for analyzing the problems. When I was stuck, she gently helped me draw figures, or reminded me of applicable theorems.

I did very well in geometry that year. And I actually enjoyed it.

I wish I could say the same for my junior and senior year math courses. Deedee was not in my classes then.

But I still use what I learned in geometry. Sometimes you have to calculate the area of something. Geometry comes in handy for figuring out how much fabric I need to sew curtains or piece a quilt.

Deedee Holt

The last time I saw Deedee was in 2002. My daughter and I were visiting my parents in my childhood home before I took her off to college. Deedee and her son, John, happened to be visiting town at the same time. We met at the Fireman’s Fair in an adjoining town.

Sadly, Deedee passed away ten years ago this month. She’d recently completed her course work toward a certificate to teach music, and was serving as a substitute teacher as she searched for a permanent job. I wanted her to move from Washington state to Arizona so she could teach in my district, but her son had just one more year of high school to go, and she didn’t want to uproot him.

The world is a bleaker place without Deedee. I’ll never forget her.


In the Meme Time: Laughter

In the Meme Time: Laughter

Laughing (photo by nosha)

Three Other Poems

Three Other Poems

From time to time I post poems I’ve written. (You can find them by scrolling down my sidebar on the right until you get to “Are you looking for a particular TOPIC?” and choosing “Poetry” from the drop-down menu.) Here are some more.


The Treehouse

I pictured a roof and walls and windows,
A literal house built in a tree.

Instead, my dad built a floor
Surrounded by a railing,
Benches built into the perimeter.

Salvaged attic stairs granted us easy access.

My brother and I climbed up with books
And peanut butter sandwiches.
We lived there all summer,
Reading, eating, and pretending.

If it didn’t rain too hard,
The massive willow tree kept us dry
Inside its enveloping branches.


At Home AO_old_house

It wasn’t my home,
but I felt truly at home there
complete acceptance
no judgment
only love

Kathy’s mother tolerated
what mine would not—
non-stop giggling
toys and books all over the floor

The house was old and cavernous
a “great room” from early days
double staircases criss-crossed each other
a basement provided secret access when no one was home
it’s gone now

Gone are the parents
who created my best friend

and the friendship is gone, too


German soldier playing violin

Photo found on histomil.com

Onkel Joachim

I never met you

Mom told me about
Her beloved brother
Violinist and pianist
University student
Bright future ahead

Then Hitler
Turned you into a soldier
On the eastern front
Never to return

The gypsy said
You married a Russian girl
And conduct an orchestra

I hope she’s right

Poems © by Andrea R Huelsenbeck

The Impact of a Wonder Child

The Impact of a Wonder Child

When I was seven, I joined Brownies. Not only was it a lot of fun, but for the first time in my life I met girls my age who did not attend my parochial school.Brownie cap

Kathy was one such new friend. When I met her, I had no idea what a huge impact she would have on my life. We were close friends for about eight years. I’d go to her house, only a few blocks from mine, whenever I could.

Kathy was a genius. No, I mean it. Literally. Not only was she an honor student, she was interested in everything: stamps, science, literature, art, music—and she pursued everything with a focus that was all-encompassing. I shared many of the same interests, but I didn’t have her discipline, or the resources she and her sister Freddie (for Fredricka) had: parents who liberally supported their interests by buying them stuff.

For example: stamps. I collected stamps. (Hey, it was a popular hobby in those days.) Half of my stamps came from the US. The other half were from Germany, because my aunts and uncles and cousins lived there. They purposely varied the stamps they used on letters to my family because they knew I’d be steaming them off the envelopes and mounting them in my album.

stampKathy, however, ordered stamps from ads in the back of magazines. She would send a request to a stamp company, and they would send her small collections of stamps from different countries in little glassine envelopes. It was called “buying on approval.” She would decide which envelopes she wanted and return the rest with her payment for the stamps she kept.

I was forbidden from doing that.

Kathy and I would get together with our stamp albums and admire each other’s collections. Hers was truly awesome. But she found interesting specimens in mine to compliment. She generously shared some of her most exotic stamps with me. I gave her my “doubles.” She explained some of the finer points of collecting, like first day covers, and not separating blocks of stamps. (Before the days of self-stick stamps, postage came in perforated sheets. You separated the desired stamp and licked it, or moistened it with a damp sponge, to activate the glue and make it stick to the envelope. Multiples of the same stamp were more valuable if they were still joined together.)

As the years went on, I took piano lessons, and so did Kathy. Then she also took drum lessons. Her huge old house had an actual music room where the piano and the drum set lived. She also owned (and played) a guitar, a zither, and a recorder.

Kathy offered to teach me how to play drums. She even provided me with a notepad where she wrote down all the rudiments so I could practice them. (I, however, didn’t have drums, or parents who wanted me to play them, so I could only practice at Kathy’s house.)

We spent many afternoons sitting at the piano and singing. We worked our way through songbooks by Peter, Paul, and Mary, Bob Dylan, and Joan Baez. Even though I could play piano, Kathy was a much better sight-reader than me.

Books 3Both of us loved to read. I got most of my books from the library. Kathy used the library, too, but she and Freddie had multiple bookshelves packed with their own tomes. They had all the Nancy Drew books, all the Hardy Boys, and the Bobbsey Twins, and Cherry Ames—you name it, they had it. And they’d let me borrow anything I wanted to read.

Often, on a lazy summer day, we’d each choose a book and go to the backyard and climb a tree, where we’d perch and read. After a couple of hours, their mother might come out with a pitcher of lemonade and glasses, which she’d fill and hand up to us; or maybe some corn on the cob that she’d boiled and buttered for us. Good times.

swedish-flag-mastKathy’s family’s heritage was Norwegian, and she loved everything about Scandinavia. When her bedroom was due for an update, she painted it blue and asked for yellow curtains, so it would match the flag of Sweden. She loved Norse mythology, an interest I did not share. She pursued her love of Odin, Thor, and Freyja through comic books. I stuck to regular books.

After reading millions of comic books, Kathy began drawing her own. Her depictions of the human form were strikingly realistic, posed in heroic stances. Then she took her art one step further: she drew scenes from mythology on felt and colored them in with embroidery. Incredibly stunning.

In ninth grade we both entered the same public regional high school. Our circle of friends widened considerably. Kathy continued to be an academic superstar. I did well, but not as well as she. As high school went on, I discovered that Kathy was considered quirky. Tall and slender, with an unruly mane of kinky long hair, she attracted attention wherever she went, not always of the positive variety.

We shared some activites, but not others. For example, when our school got a computer lab (this was in the late sixties—the computer filled a room; students had access to two “terminals”), I dismissed it as a faddy gadget; Kathy signed up for as much computer time as possible.

glockenspiel-279774_640Musically, I was strictly a chorus person (though I was also an accompanist). Kathy was in both chorus and band, her outlet for her percussion skills. She didn’t play drums in marching band, she played a lyre-shaped, handheld glockenspiel (this was back in the days before marching bands had a stationary percussion ensemble, or pit). But she earned the ire of her band mates by composing her own glockenspiel parts when the arrangements didn’t call for one.

Always a lover of science, Kathy made the high school chemistry room her second home. She’d hang out there before and after school and during her study periods. She organized the chemical storage room for the chem teachers. She even had her own lab coat, which she wore for her senior yearbook photo. (See why people thought she was quirky?)Chem glassware wikim commons

Meanwhile, I discovered boys. I am ashamed to admit that I ditched Kathy in favor of one-on-one time with my Romeos. Little by little, we grew apart, mostly because I purposely ignored her.

I heard she had a rough time in college. She studied chemistry or physics at Cal Tech for a few years, but quit before getting a degree. She transferred to a different school to study early music (she was by that time a very good harpsichordist), but stopped just a few credits short of earning a degree. I don’t know if she ever did get her Bachelor’s.

I’ve only seen her once in my adult life. After Greg and I married, Kathy and another mutual childhood friend came to our apartment once for dinner.

Thanks to the magic of the internet, I have an idea where Kathy lives and what she’s up to. I know performance is still a part of her life–I’ve seen her on YouTube rocking out on organ with her band, a smile on her face and a familiar twinkle in her eye. But I’m uncomfortable about reconnecting with her. Too many decades have gone by, and I suspect there may be awkward feelings.


The reason I am sharing Kathy’s story is because she was an incredible influence on my life. She encouraged me creatively, especially musically. She was my early role model and a polymath (though I didn’t know that term until recently—it means a person whose expertise spans a significant number of different subject areas). She widened my concept of possibility.

Is there someone you grew up with who helped shape the person you are today? A childhood friend who shared your creative interests? Someone who dominates your memories in a positive way? Share his or her story in the comments below.