Thursday, July 30, 2015

The Carol Show, Part Two

At my guild this week five of us were asked to show five quilts.. a beginning one, if you want, and four more. I had done a longer version of this a couple weeks ago at my small group meeting, so it was a repeat for those folks.

Here I am showing some quilts:

Another of the Five Showing Five, Sue, talked about how she was recruited to the guild by me, while attending a retreat in California! I was completely confused. Then she said my sister's name. Oh, that's right!! I had sent my sister a quilt picture while she happened to be at a retreat (non-quilty) in California. Her friend, Sue, who lives in Minnesota but was also at the retreat in California, got excited about the pictures and through that communication I gave her the information about the guild. Too funny.. I was so confused at first, that I had recruited her from California. Isn't it a funny, small world? Anyway, here she is with some of her work:

Continuing on the theme of recruiting friends, at this meeting we had two visitors.. people I had known on-line. They lived in California. Little did I know that one day they would move to Minnesota and come join my guild. So I got kudos for being a good recruiter! LOL. It's that small world thing again.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

The Physical Pain of Grief

My son got married six years ago yesterday. It was a VERY HAPPY day. I had such hopes for them. The marriage didn't last, and two years later they were divorced. For at least a year, that continued to hurt so much. I hurt (past tense) for me, and I hurt (past tense) for my son. If I try to, I can still dredge up the pain and grief, but I won't do that to myself. I'm able to think of it with a neutral heart now. But when I look at my son's life, and the girlfriends who have come and gone, I feel sad and also hopeful that ONE day he will find true, lasting love. I want that for him.

My friend, B, lost her daughter at about this same time of year. Maybe yesterday, too... It has been about 13 years for her. Her daughter, just into adulthood and motherhood, died of cancer. My friend is raising her granddaughter. There is joy in that, and pain, too. She misses her daughter; her granddaughter misses her mom. There is physical pain with grief that deep.

Motherhood is such a tough job. That from-the-heart Mom-love never ends. And because it's so deep, when there's a loss, it is also deep and hurts so much. Do you believe in the power of prayer? I do, but I'm not sure exactly what I believe about it. If I pray for my son to find love, will he find it because of that prayer, or would he have found it (or not found it) anyway, regardless of my prayer? How does that prayer help? Does it really only help me? Maybe the power of prayer is in the opening up of the heart of the person praying.

If I pray for my friend, B, to feel less pain on the anniversary of her daughter's death, will she? Or is that even an authentic prayer? Maybe I should pray for ME to open up and find ways of helping other people who grieve. I wish I could ask my dad about this... he did believe in the power of prayer, but not in easy answers like: tomorrow your pain will go away, because today I prayed for you. He died in 2002, so I can't ask him about his beliefs any more. I wish I had taken the opportunity to discuss this little bit with him.

Those are my thoughts on this hot summer day. What's on your mind?

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Fence Posts

My cousin calls these my Fence Posts.. I occasionally post pictures of quilts on fences. It's time again! Another fence post:

These were mostly made by me, although some of the nine-patches were made by people in my local guild. I assembled them all, and quilted all but one. One was quilted by NB on a long-arm. They'll be going to two charities -- Quilts Beyond Borders and Wrap a Smile, two of my favorite places to send quilts.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Friday Books: Multiple Books

(1) An Invisible Thread, The True Story of an 11-year-old Panhandler, a Busy Sales Executive, and an Unlikely Meeting With Destiny by Laura Schroff and Alex Tresniowski. This was an interesting book; I read it in one day. A kid who lives in poverty and is surrounded by violence becomes friends with a successful single woman from a very different world. Theirs is an unlikely friendship, but it is very beneficial to both of them. It's proof again how important it is for every child to have at least one adult who gets to know him/her, shows an interest, and is a positive point in their life; and how this also helps the adult. It's uplifting and hopeful and is a true story.

(2) The Silver Star by Jeannette Walls. Sisters, ages 12 and 15, are left on their own when their mother goes off to "find herself." They decide to go visit their uncle in Virginia. The adventures begin, and the story is quite captivating. Walls is very good at creating eccentric yet believable moms, families with an interesting mix of characters, and true-to-life incidents that mix up yet strengthen one's life.

(3) A Street Cat Named Bob by James Bowen. Not well-written, but some people find the story very heart-warming. I slogged through it for a book club discussion, but couldn't get past the poor writing. The heart-warming quality didn't save it, in my opinion.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

The Carol Show

Yesterday my small group met. There are six of us. It was my turn to do my "show"... quilts I have made, my methods, etc. I was kind of nervous! But it was fun, too. We are having fun in our small group, learning from each other and being inspired.

I am usually the one taking pictures, so there is no photo of me doing my Carol Show, but the photo above shows the aftermath.. before I had re-organized and re-packed.

Others in the group showed us some of their recent work, and reviewed a couple of books.

We have a good time sharing and inspiring each other, then we usually go out for lunch. We have done one challenge so far, and we have another one in the works. This fall one of our members is going to teach us how she does one of her artsy techniques (I'm not sure how else to describe it). I'm looking forward to that!

Next week I do my abbreviated "Carol Show." I show only 5 quilts at that one.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Friday Books: On Being the Outside World

If you are a parent, you know your love for your child has no end. As a mother, I can't think of a single thing that my kids could do that would make me stop loving them. Even if they murdered someone and ended up in prison (heaven forbid, on both counts), I would still love them. My heart would be broken, but I would still love them. My biggest fear for them would be how they would be treated by other people, both in and out of prison.

Now imagine something else -- not as tragic as murder, but still something that will give your heart fear for how your child will be treated by other people -- suppose your child comes to you and says he or she wants to be a different gender. You might be shocked, but you will still love your child, of course. What do you think your biggest fears would be?

The book I am reviewing is Transitions of the Heart, Stories of Love, Struggle and Acceptance by Mothers of Transgender and Gender Variant Children edited by Rachel Pepper. It is a collection of individual stories, written by mothers of transgender children. Some of the children announced as early as age three that they want to be the gender that their body is not. Some wait until well into adulthood. No matter when it happens, it often is a shock to the mother and hard to wrap one's mind around.

As the mother begins the transition along with the child, trying to understand and support, yet full of questions, her biggest fear for her child is going to be the outside world. Will my child be bullied? Will my child have friends? How will my child survive in school, in a career, in a dating relationship? What will my child's grandparents do or say?

The more I read the more unfair I feel we as the outside world are to these families. Isn't it awful that the biggest fear is other people's reactions?! Why should that even matter? Yet it does, because people don't understand it, we fear what we don't understand, or it seems freakish to us upon a first encounter. As a mother myself, I can empathize with moms who go through this transition. At first it would be difficult, but as they come to terms with it, they SHOULD be able to trust others to treat their child with respect. That mom has boundless love for the child; we as outsiders have an obligation to help keep that child safe and loved.

This is true for all kinds of challenges. If we have a child with Downs Syndrome, we'll worry about the child's vulnerability; if our child has autism, we'll worry.. I could name any number of conditions. But scarier, I think, are the things which society has not yet taken out of the "freak" category, such as transgender and gender non-conforming issues. I wish this were not so. Opening our hearts will have positive ramifications in ALL areas so all of us can feel safer releasing our children out into the world.

Have you ever had the transgender issue touch your family or friends? If so, did you feel your mind opening? I hope so. And with the help of books like this, we can all open our minds and hearts even more, so that we create a safer world for everyone.

An excellent book and easy to read. The stories were varied, but with the thread of concern carrying through all of them.. fears for the safety and happiness of their children (from toddler to adult). We all have a responsibility to learn.

I'm adding some quotes from the book. These struck me as powerful.

...I am amazed at how love has energized our family relationships, activating our human capacity for change and adaptation. I have probed the mystery of transition and its personal, cultural, and global consequences. My son and I exchange "I love you" more easily. My partner and I embrace change with greater resilience. In response to a harsh world around us, we have worked harder to support one another...

...I have distanced myself from those who cannot accept. Those people are the ones who, in the end, may someday regret their prejudicial viewpoint... takes a lot of will power and practice to change the way you think. It's like a stoplight. Every time you catch yourself in the old habits, just visualize a stoplight and STOP! Then re-think the way you're going. It's as simple and hard as that...

...your child may simply be a lovely spirit trapped in the wrong body. Please don't ask them to be less than they are...

[a mother, to her son]: ...You are helping me grow into a better person...

...Little did I know that I was about to embark on the most painful, joyous, and educational experience of a lifetime, a journey that not many parents will ever have the privilege of taking.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

All My Quilts

I have been gathering up all my quilts that I own and have at home. I have been asked to do a couple "shows." It sounds fancier than it is. First is my small group (6 of us). We'll each have a day and take a turn to show each other what we've made, what our methods are, etc. My turn is tomorrow (Friday). And the second is at one of my guilds: five of us will show five quilts with the same kind of idea -- our method, our progress, our "art." I always put that in quotation marks when talking about my own quilting, because I don't feel qualified to call myself an artist. I'm trying on that label and seeing if it fits comfortably. So far I'm not sure. My turn at the guild is next week.

So, I gathered up all my quilts to see what I have here at home and what I should show. I was very surprised to see how many quilts I actually own! Many of these are small wall-hangings, but several are bed- and lap-size quilts. A couple of them aren't even in this pile, because they're on beds! Because I give away so many of the quilts I make, I was surprised this pile is as big as it is.

I also gathered up some photos of quilts that I have given away. It is fun to see what beauty in quilts has passed through this house. I sure love making and sharing quilts!