Are you a project hound? If so, you’ll relate to this week’s “Nana and Patrick” blog

When I’m not at work, I’m either (1) immersed in nature and/or playing with our dogs or grandkids or (2) working on project(s). For example, recently I was inspired (out of the blue) to quilt an image of my grandson Alexander. I took a photo of the 2-year-old when he was “chillin'” on a chair and then turned that image into a drawing using photo-editing software. Then I turned the drawing into a line-drawing template. If you want to try it, then lay a piece of plain, light-colored cotton over that and trace the design onto the fabric. Cut out the paper pattern and use it as a template pattern for the quilt pieces. I then matched fabric primary and shading colors and swatches.

No cheating using photo fabric – it must be QUILTED ONLY, made completely out of fabric pieces (though I did paint his facial features). Sew your pieces down on the cotton pattern. I then framed it and gave it to my daughter Brook (Alex’s mother) as a surprise. She was indeed surprised, because I gave it to her for no reason at all except I love her. Those are the best projects.

This past weekend was Patrick’s weekend, when Nana goes to Chicago to whisk her 9-year-old grandson away for an adventure. I suggested that we go to Medieval Times and enjoy a dinner and jousting event, because he is a horseman and he loves knights and battles, but he said “Nah.” So I suggested a movie. “Nah.” Trip to the bookstore? “Nah.” It was snowing in Chicago, but not enough for sledding, and I admit I was hitting a brick wall.

Okay… since we were camping out at his house for the weekend to save money, versus our more traditional hotel stays, Patrick had the upper hand. He had all his toys, interests, and projects right there. I had brought material with me, intending to cut out doll clothes (as a surprise for my granddaughter Natalie) after Patrick went to sleep at night, but I hadn’t thought to bring editing work along, since I’d be with him. My daughter Summer only has (gasp) AOL DIAL-UP internet, which frustrates me to no end, so I wouldn’t be doing online work.

What to do, what to say, to get him out of the house before I went crazy with boredom?

Left to his own amusements, Patrick also keeps fanatically busy. He has created his own little city in the basement, of which he is benevolent Mayor, and mornings he likes to put on a suit jacket, top hat, and bow tie and go to the basement to deliver an address to the populace “to get them started off right for the day.” The basement playroom is also where he and Grandpa Glynn like to joust and slay dragons, so he has created and posted coats of arms and signs. One sign tells the rules of engagement for the battlefield: “1. Do not leave the battlefield to go upstairs. 2. Do not be stupid. 3. Do not feel sorry for the enemy. 4. Be brave.” All you need to know to prevail in battle, I suppose.

Patrick, too, is always working on projects. His latest is writing a collection of ghost stories, complete with pull quotes and photos he’s taken of cleverly created mystery orbs and shadows. He’s going to publish the book, and so he was absorbed at his computer with that. Which meant there would be no diverting his attention to something as boring as a knight’s tournament.

How could I wriggle into his (more interesting) world?

“Tomorrow,” I suggested to my young lad, “let’s get up early and go to Dunkin’ Donuts for fuel, and then let’s take a paranormal kit – one that we’ll create tonight – and go down to the Chicago Field Museum. Let’s go to the Egyptian Mummy section and see if we can find and photograph some ghost pictures for your book!”

He glanced up at me. “Okay,” he said grudgingly. “But you’ll need to bring tissue paper and we’ll have to work out the shadowing. I might need you to toss a light-colored ball into the air to create the idea of an orb. And I don’t want to stay in a museum all day, though I would like to see the new Horse exhibit, too. I saw that advertised on TV. But I just want to get in, do our project, and come back home to work on my book some more. And no haircut or grocery shopping stops on the way home.”

“Deal.”

“When we get back home, you should get your PlayMobile field hockey team ready for the World Cup competition of 2012,” he added. “You could use some practice time with your players. You’ve got the blue team, so you’ll need a fitting team name.” I looked at the dining room table, which he already had transformed into a hockey arena.

“Madison Blue Gills?”

“Good name,” he said, nodding. “I’ve got the red jerseys, so I’m the Chicago Blood Drops. We’ll play a practice game later, okay? And when Mom gets home, you two can play an exhibition game and I’ll announce.”
The cost of a museum trip was going up. But when you want to wrangle a ticket into Patrick’s world, you have to be prepared to pay for it.

The trip to the museum was fun, and we got some great photos. We spent a few hours there, followed by a stop at the Chicago Bears pro shop, since we had to park at Soldier Field. Then we came back to my daughter’s house for a spirited game of field hockey – but only AFTER Patrick created his own pro shop, complete with little pennants, jerseys for sale, and other fan items. He became completely absorbed by that little project, and as I watched him set up his props for the exhibition games, I had to smile.

The little nut didn’t fall far from the shadow of his Nana’s tree.

Sign up for the free IB Update — your weekly resource for local business news, analysis, voices, and the names you need to know. Click here.