Friday, September 19, 2014

Friday Books: Cousins' Book Club

I do not have a review today. I am with my cousins, discussing a book I reviewed two years ago. The book is The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce. My review is re-posted here below the photo. We cousins gather once a year and discuss a book. This year they chose a book I had already read, but loved, so I was happy to read it again.

Please read something and tell me about it. Did you find a book you could not put down? A book that gave you great joy? A book that taught you something? I book that you keep thinking about?

What joyful things books are, are they not?? Have fun reading this week.

Review from August, 2012:
Definitely 5 stars! This was a great book! It's so good that I don't want to say a lot about it, in fear that I will ruin it for you, a potential reader. Please read this book! It's about a man who walks across England to visit a friend who has cancer. But it really is about WAY MORE than that. It's the human story, with all our foibles, fears, mistakes, regrets, joys, and loves. Just a great, great book. The writing is beautiful, the characters are very human. This book will break your heart and touch your heart... definitely one of my faves.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

My Aunt

Not only has my aunt moved into a care center, I found out she is in hospice care. It makes sense for her condition, I suppose, but I was not ready for this. I'll take a couple days, talk to my cousins, get used to this news, then I'll go see her.

My dear, favorite aunt... I wonder how my mom is going to take this news. If my mom outlives her sister, my mom will be the last living sibling of the original 7.

Heavy heart.

my aunt with her children, a couple years ago

Monday, September 15, 2014

Thanks - Great Thoughts From You

First, thanks for your kindnesses regarding my aging family.

Second, thanks for your advice regarding my quilt top question.

I have smart readers of my blog! You rock. I was inclined to leave that "mistake" in my quilt top, and you all confirmed that idea for me. Yay! It's no longer called a mistake. It's called a design decision.

Thought I'd show you a photo of my favorite aunt and uncle. They now live in the same care center, although on different floors. Now they can visit each other every day.

They are both very intelligent. My aunt is especially fond of words and of language. She is eloquent and wise. She is an author and a wordsmith. So it was especially cruel and ironic that her ALS began in her mouth and throat. Her speech began to be impaired. Soon she could no longer speak. Then she could no longer eat. Now she is permanently on oxygen. Her mind, as it goes with ALS, is still sharp as a tack. I feel so sad for the attack of this disease on such a wise, intelligent, lover of language.

My uncle, also very intelligent, is such a gentle, funny, and caring man. He has dementia and now rarely initiates conversation.

Please pray for families who are suffering through awful diseases, especially ALS.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

What Do You Think?

I managed to put together two tops this weekend. Even while being a bit distracted, I could work with pre-made blocks; and most of the scrap pieces on the blue top were also pre- made. That made it easy to sew mindlessly, just what I needed.

Here is a top on which I want your advice. The blocks are sewn into rows, but the rows are not yet sewn together. There is a mistake in this top. Can you see it? Before I sew the rows together, should I fix it? I am inclined to leave it as is. What do you think?

This blue one is going to Quilts Beyond Borders.

P.S. Thank you for your kind sentiments in response to my post of yesterday. I appreciate it!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

The Hard Part of Life

I'm almost 62. I am the youngest of four siblings. Our mom is 93. She finds it shocking that all her children are in their 60s. Soon we'll start into the next decade!

I went to see Mom a couple days ago. I go about once a month. She lives 150 miles away. I am starting to feel wistful and sentimental. I don't think my mom will be alive a whole lot longer. She has had congestive heart failure for quite a while. She becomes extremely winded from the smallest exertion of energy. It's hard to listen to her difficult breathing after she just walks a few feet and puts on her nightgown. I don't think her heart will be able to keep up that hard work for much longer.

I'm not a doctor, but I think I'm pretty close on this one.

Anticipating losing one's mom is a strange thing. She was always so energetic, busy, full of vim and vigor. I loved that about her. I miss that energetic mom. She does, too. She told me she feels "old and useless." That makes me sad. She lives in assisted living now, and I think that adds to her feeling of being "useless." She owned her own condo before this; she was proud of being independent and still going strong into her 90s. Her mind is still strong, and she can still enjoy one of her great loves: reading.

My mom's younger sister, my aunt, recently moved into a care center, too. She and my uncle now live in the same residence again (although on different floors). He has dementia, she has ALS. It is hard to see my favorite adults aging and becoming weak.

On my dad's side there is one sibling left. My aunt, who was the youngest of how many? Eight, I think. She has Alzheimer's, and her husband just died. She is alert enough to know what's happening and that she can no longer live in their house. These are really tough times.

I have not been very motivated to sew. I have done a little, but I just feel a bit restless. I can't settle down to a book, either.

I'm letting myself plan ahead for some painful loss.

It's part of life, but it's the hard part.

Canada Geese, just because

Friday, September 12, 2014

Friday Books: Reviews Written Prematurely

Last week I learned something: don't write a book review before you have finished reading the book. I did that last week, and later that Friday evening I finished the book and was able to write a much better review. One doesn't feel the whole impact of a book without reading the entire thing! Here is my review, re-written and much more complete, after finishing the book, The Daughters of Mars by Thomas Keneally.

Two Australian nurses, sisters, both sign on to serve as nurses in World War I. They are sent by ship to Cairo and Alexandria, Egypt, then to Greece, then to the Western Front in France. Working together at first, they later receive separate assignments.

As the story develops, the sisters learn to love each other in a much closer, sisterly way than they had before. They are very close as the book draws to a close. They each, of course, witness some gruesome and awful things happening to soldiers as well as to doctors and nurses with whom they work. The physical and mental wounds are horrendous, as they are in any war. The medical field is only then starting to notice what they call Shell Shock and we call PTSD. It's a reminder of the long-term effects and terrible legacy of war.

The sisters' parallel lives and "smallest membrane between alternate histories" (p.505) becomes important as the reader contemplates what really happens in the end. This book sneaks up on the reader and makes itself felt without ever being preachy or loud... very well-told and a solid read with some things to ponder about war in general and about WWI in particular.

Here's a 2nd review. It doesn't get top billing, because the book was not very good.
The Quarry by Iain Banks
Characters I didn't like have a reunion and talk in full-of-themselves ways about memories. I felt like I was listening to inside jokes only half told by drunks. Boring. Not much happens. They are looking for a lost video tape. One guy is dying of cancer. The one semi-interesting person is the narrator who is autistic. At least he has some real character. The others are unlikeable.

Don't waste your time on this one.

a floating little library in Minneapolis

Saturday, September 06, 2014

Quilt Photography Here and There

Today I convened a Study in Quilts: Photographing Quilts in Nature.

Well.. it wasn't much of a study, and it was only one quilt. Husband and I drove around to some random spots not far from home, looking for fun places to photograph my quilt. This was inspired by Quiltdivajulie who recently photographed quilts of hers in some very unique places. I thought that was a great idea. Since we live not far from the Mississippi River, I decided to go in that direction and see what we could find.

Quilt at Home

Quilt on Fence (historic community near our home)

Quilt on Hammock, Quilt on Swing

Quilt on Old House - Edition 1,2,3,4 (doesn't this sound fancy??) haha.. these are historic buildings from the 1830s - before Minnesota was a state)

Quilt on Balcony (do you see the Fair Maiden?)

The Quilt Princess

Quilt at River

Quilt at Jail (it's an old one-room jail built in 1915)

Quilt on Dock

Quilt Under Willow Tree

This is the most-photographed quilt I own! (Its design was inspired by a crossword puzzle in the newspaper.)

Oh, look -- a spider web!