Friday, March 30, 2012

Yarning for Community

We have a crafters group at church. After much discussion we settled on the name Yarning for Community. We work with yarn -- knitting and crocheting. We make things for our community: prayer shawls, hats for all ages, baby booties, and one woman is even crocheting a diaper bag. While we work, we also "yearn" for community... and we have successfully found it in our group. It has been a lot of fun, and fills our souls while we work, talk, and pray together.

Last month we turned in these three prayer shawls.

B.R. has a new grand-daughter arriving from China next week! (Everyone is so excited.) She made this quilt for the little cutie.

We'll be gathering again next week to "yarn" together and to build our community, in more ways than one.

Friday Books: Two Greats!

I read two great books this week:

Some Assembly Required, A Journal of My Son's First Son by Anne Lamott with Sam Lamott.
Annabel by Kathleen Winter.

Some Assembly Required -- this is Lamott's most recent book. She and her son, Sam, wrote it together, documenting the first year in the life of Sam's son, Anne's grandson. It is funny and touching, and I laughed out loud. I sure can relate with her worries and concerns about adult kids and wanting to be involved but knowing you need to stay out of it. While I loved this book, it is not as great as the two others I have read on spirituality -- Traveling Mercies and Grace (Eventually).

Annabel -- I loved this book! It is beautifully written. The language sings. Absolutely wonderful. Characters are full, lovable, fabulously flawed human beings. One of the best I've read in a long time.

I chose this book because it was mentioned by Anne Lamott as one of her favorites. I can totally see why -- the mother character is a spiritually beautiful woman who is ready to accept people as they are and love them from the inside out. She reminds me of Anne Lamott herself, except that the mother in this book is more "settled" than bouncy, crazy Ms. Lamott. The writing style reminds me of Anne Lamott's style also.

Definitely a 5-star winner.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

In the Presence of Greatness

Last night I went to see and hear author, Anne Lamott, speak at a local Barnes & Noble. She read from her new book, took some time to answer questions, and signed books.

Of the books she has written, I have read the following:
Traveling Mercies
Some Assembly Required,a Journal of My Son's First Son [this one is her most recent book]

I have loved every book of hers that I have read. She has a lot more books that I hope to get to eventually. It was great listening to her speak. She is funny and very profound. I had a great time. Thank goodness I had gone very early to grab front row seats. (I'm a groupie!) If I hadn't done that, I may have ended up standing or sitting on the floor. Look at this crowd (showing only a fraction of the huge crowd that was there)!

Some people just impress me with their wisdom, humor, and grace. Anne Lamott is definitely one of those.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Finishing Quilts!

Recently I have concentrated on finishing quilts... tons of bindings! I have a box of five quilts packed up and ready to send to Wrap Them in Love, another box started for Wrap a Smile, and a third box started for layette blankies and quilts for Rosebud.

Here are photos of my most recent completions:

I made myself a pin cushion!

for Rosebud; I actually added a bit more quilting after it was bound

I love the backing fabric

made from my sister's scraps, for WAS; quilted by Diane

made, quilted and bound by me for WAS

quilt top made by Kathleen and me; quilted and bound by me for WTIL

for WTIL; I used fabric from Ellen's mother's estate; quilted by Diane

another one for WTIL, made from Ellen's mother's estate; quilted by Diane

Sunday, March 25, 2012

I'm Published!

I published a book, and I love it! OK, I'm not a real author... it's a book by and about myself, made at Shutterfly(dot)com. It's called Carol's World of Quilts and shows examples of quilts I've made in the last 13 years.

Stop by in another 13 years and I might have a sequel: Carol's Universe of Quilts!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Puking Hurts!

For two days in a row this week at work, we had fabulous, free food spread out for our taking. There were some Big Shots having meetings, and after they ate, there was enough left for us peons. Both days the food was plentiful and delicious... from two area restaurants that I happen to know and love.

On both days I ate happily, and on the evening of the second day, at home, I became very sick. Yuck!! Everything I had eaten came back up, and I felt miserable. It was, I assume, some sort of food poisoning... I have had this before and know what it feels like. The puking is violent! Sorry for the grossology. I felt much better by the next day and am mostly over it. The one remaining after-effect is very sore ribs! Who knew puking could be that much of a work-out?? I am shocked. And quite sore.

one fabric shows how to make a newspaper hat, and another one shows used car classified ads

Yesterday I stopped at a fabric store and bought some beauties. Fabric is really changing these days, and one could be tempted to buy loads of it to "catch up" to the new trends. I'm resisting, except in little bits. I bought some pastels for the Block Lotto in April which calls for pastels.

Today, Saturday, I plan to let my ribs heal, do some non-boisterous activities such as reading and sewing, and just have a quiet, fun day at home. I am currently reading Some Assembly Required: A Journal of My Son's First Son by Anne Lamott. I love her! The book is charming and wise, and I'm laughing out loud...just not any belly laughs, because that would hurt too much.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Friday Books: Two Rivers

This week I finished reading Two Rivers by t. greenwood. Without knowing anything about it, I suggested this book for my online book club.

This would be a good book to read while on vacation or on a long road trip. It is engaging, the story has interesting twists and turns, it keeps the reader's interest, it contains some social issues one can ponder, and it is a quick read. It can be completed in a couple of days.

It takes place in Vermont in a small town where two rivers converge. It begins with a train wreck, and the story goes from there, with families, friends, and some unanswered questions being cleverly woven together as the stories unfold. I liked the book, but it doesn't make my favorites list. I give it 4 stars.

Now I'm looking forward to our discussion with my book club.

Thursday, March 22, 2012


All of these quilts will be sent to the two programs I support most frequently: Wrap a Smile and Wrap Them in Love. I couldn't do it without the help of many others. You'll see that in each photo caption. It takes a team to get the world's children wrapped in lovely quilts. Three other quilts belong in this grouping, too, but I showed you those pictures just a couple of days ago. Soon I'll be sending out boxes of completed quilts.. fun!

orangey blocks made by K. for my Choose Your Color Challenge; I made the blue blocks and assembled this top

someone else made these blocks and sent them to me for assembly; Diane quilted it

Sally made the scrappy blocks, and I put them together into this top; it is being finished by a helpful quilter in NH

made by me; quilted by Diane

New Year's Day mystery from Patchwork Planet; being quilted by Diane - to be finished soon

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Losing Things

I am an exellent loser of things. I almost always leave things behind when I visit my mom or sister. I also lose things immediately after putting them down.

Today I came into the house after work and set down my purse. About a half hour later I couldn't find it. I'm supposed to put it in its regular place so that doesn't happen. But lately I've been forgetting to put it in its place.

Then there is the problem of not being able to find something because I put it in its proper place. Crazy.

On Sunday I ate at a restaurant, and I had a small knitting project with me. I am fairly certain I brought the knitting project home, but I have not been able to find it ever since leaving the restaurant. I even called, and they don't have it in their Lost and Found. It has to be somewhere in my house (I already searched the car). But where?

I have the opposite of sticky fingers. It's probably called Old Brain, but I am not yet ready to admit that.

Now, I'm going to go read my book. Where do you suppose it is??

Monday, March 19, 2012

Thankful for Helpers

I'm so thankful for other quilters who will help finish quilt tops. This week I am going to send off about 6 or 7 quilt tops for others to finish. This frees me up to make more tops (the love of my quilting life). What would I do without these helpers? I'd go crazy, that's what (or, crazier, I should say).

Here are some of the things I've created lately.

kids' fleece blankie to be donated with some others that a group at church made

made from blue scraps - will be sent to a machine quilter this week, for Wrap a Smile

scraps with purple, also for Wrap a Smile

misc blocks I made for fun and turned into a quilt for Wrap a Smile

block I made for Sunshine.. pattern is Arizona (with a modification on my part) by Carol Doak

small wall hanging made from scraps leftover from making the Arizona block

detail on above wall hanging

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Thoughts From My Heart

I once had a "boyfriend" for about 3 days. I am a white American girl of Scottish, Irish, English descent. He is/was a Native American, Anishinabe tribe (not sure I spelled that correctly). I met him on a church trip, going across country via bus to a Big City. I stole him from another girl. All my life I was always intrigued by the history and culture and languages and current lives of American Indians. That's why I stole him. (Give me a break-- I was a dorky teenager.)

When I got to college, I majored in French. Then, when I finally had time during my senior year to "play," I took as many anthropology courses as I could. Most of them were on the history and culture of Plains Indians. I absolutely loved those courses and wished I had discovered anthropology long before the end of my senior year.

Oh, well.. my life has turned out fine despite my silly major which never led me anywhere, except indirectly.

Turns out I married a partially Native guy, though he doesn't identify culturally with his heritage. My husband's grandmother was a Tlingit Indian from S.E. Alaska. The story I always heard is that she grew up in a Catholic orphanage. At one point it had burned down, so any records of her life and lineage went up in smoke!

Just in the last few years I discovered that she was not an orphan... she used to go home to visit her mother. So I surmised that she was of the generation of children who were taken/sent to boarding schools where they were taught to "be white." (Most children were either forced to go, or their parents realized they had no choice, so they sent the kids to these schools, far far from home.) Hubby's grandmother died when my husband was a kid, so there is no way I could ever have met her. But in retrospect she fascinates me, makes me a little sad, and I'm proud of her all at once.

She married an Irish miner and moved to Minnesota and raised a huge family here. They all knew about her heritage, but I don't think much of the culture was passed on, unfortunately.

summer school at Rosebud - adorable!

I have always tried to learn (mostly through reading) about Indian cultures. It's an interest of mine, but I am far from an expert. Please remember that I am speaking as a non-native person, as I see things from my white-girl life experience.

Anyway, in 2008 my church started sending small groups to Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota to help with the relief work that is done there through a group called Tree of Life. Tree of Life is doing excellent work, and it is always a very meaningful experience to volunteer there. This year's trip is the 5th annual trip!

The people on the Rosebud Reservation are Dakota people. You may know them as the Sioux, but that's not their real name. There are three groups of "Sioux" -- Dakota, Lakota, and Nakota. I'm not an expert on this at all, but I do know some of the history.. in my partial knowledge and with apologies for my ignorance, I'll just generically use the term Dakota. The Dakota people inhabited Minnesota in the old days. And, as every other tribe experienced, they also were pushed away by force and by tricks. At the end, there was a war... the Dakota people rose up in their last, desperate attempts to save their homes and culture. (Again, just about every tribe has a similar event.) After that war the Dakota people were forcibly removed from Minnesota, and our governor declared that henceforth Minnesota shall be free of all "Sioux" people.

In our work at Rosebud (and one year at Crow Creek) we have worked with descendants of those people who were kicked out of Minnesota. Humbling. Ironic. Sad. Nice.. to be able to form friendly alliances after all of that sad history.

What I see around me is the need for much more work. For some reason, Indians are still "the hated minority." No one would ever say that out loud, but from our behavior, that is the conclusion to draw. It's obvious.

Just try being a person who goes on these trips to Rosebud, and picture yourself talking about it to any old shmo on the street. Go into a bar, for example. Sit down and start talking about Indians to whoever is there. Guess what. It probably won't be a complimentary, favorable discussion. One has to tread lightly when deciding with whom to share the meaningful experiences of such a trip, and the hopes one has for further bridging of the enormous chasm that still exists between our people.

Here in Minnesota, just about every year, I hear grumbling and fussing about Indians who have fishing rights promised to them in a long-ago treaty.. giving them spearing rights and fishing rights at times outside of the Minnesota fishing season. Emotions can really get riled up over this. It always makes the news, and the coverage makes me cringe.

Then, try to talk about casinos. Expect to hear more grumblings and stories about Indians who have become rich off casino profits but "don't know how to deal with their money"! There's going to be more negative talk, I can just about guarantee it. For some reason, we will never let Indians succeed. That started way back. When white people first came here, we told Indians to learn English, learn to farm, learn our ways, and you'll be just fine. Many of them did just that, only to be lied to and forcibly removed, education and accomplishments be damned. That is STILL the attitude that one can find in our society -- easily. As I said, just start a conversation with any old shmo on the street. You'll find it.

Why is that? It seems it has never become politically incorrect to speak disrespectfully of Indians. It's still a group that it's "OK to hate." That really bothers and puzzles me.

To all of this, I know there are exceptions, but overall, this is the sense one gets in our white-dominated culture.

Now let me talk a bit about the work we do when we go to Rosebud. Believe me, almost every volunteer will question the work they are doing. Step back and look at the big picture: we come to a country which to us is new, but there are people who have lived here for thousands of years. To them, we are outsiders. Yet we decide it all should be ours, and we kill them, starve them, make them march thousands of miles through the snow, and force them onto reservations. Time passes, and most of us become rich. Then, out of the goodness of our hearts, we go to the reservation one week out of the year and help them paint their decrepit house. Oh, how heart-warming it is for us!

See? It's a struggle. And that issue is definitely present, in varying degrees, when we are working at Rosebud. One reason we love going there is because Tree of Life, the agency through which we work, has faced those issues head-on. They don't try to hide from the big questions. Instead, they have learned and grown and adapted to the needs of the people they serve, all the while learning about the culture and respecting it. The work is making a difference! We who have gone on the trips have seen progress with our own eyes! We can see and feel hope and friendly ties being forged, and can see the difference from year to year. It is palpable. It truly is heart-warming!

Well.. these are the thoughts from my heart. And it has been brought fresh to the forefront of my mind by watching a series on Netflix: "American Experience: We Shall Remain," a 5-part series on American history as seen from Native eyes. It is fascinating, heart-breaking, and very well done. I have watched the first 3 episodes and will probably finsih the last 2 in the next couple of days.

If you have stuck by me and read this whole post, I ask you: if you live in the USA, have you seen or felt the attitudes I talk about? Have you heard people grumbling or making sick jokes about Indians and casinos? Indians and alcholism? Do you agree that our over-all attitude here in America (in the white-dominated society) is still anti-Indian? Have you ever tried to speak up in defense of Indian people, tried to confront those attitudes? Tried to learn for yourself what modern day life is like for Indians? For many people, Indians are easy to ignore.

So.. I challenge you to learn something. Maybe start by watching this 5-part series of "American Experience: We Shall Remain." It's easily found at Netflix streaming. If you'd rather read a book, here's a great one: Neither Wolf Nor Dog by Kent Nerburn (a Minnesota author). Fabulous, fabulous book that hopefully will open up a part of your heart and mind that you didn't know was closed. If you do either of these things, I want to hear about it and your thoughts!! We can help each other learn.

a cultural lesson at Rosebud

Saturday, March 17, 2012

The Lost Shall be Found

I hope this Found Quilt will be returned to its owner from whom it has been separated... do you know anyone in Okalahoma who might be missing this quilt? It was found a year ago, in May 2011 in Oklahoma after tornadoes ripped through the area. It is being held at the Piedmont Service Center.

It makes my heart sad to see this quilt being orphaned. It was made with love by "Grammie" and includes names of 20 girls stitched in each block.. did Grammie have 20 granddaughters? Daughters and granddaughters? This was a quilt made with love for someone special. I hope some day we will hear that it is reunited with its owner.

Here is a link to the details:

Friday, March 16, 2012

Friday Books: Glorious Day!

I finished Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides. Great book! The great writing grabbed me from the get-go, and the second half of the book is even better.. riveting! Very interesting book about a person who is born and raised a girl, but at age 14 becomes a boy. This is because she/he was born with ambiguous gender identity. She's raised and feels very much like a girl until puberty hits.. then it gets confusing. This is something I have been curious about, and it was fascinating to learn more about it. Want a good, engrossing book that will take you a bit of time to read (it's over 500 pages)? Try Middlesex.

I am currently reading Two Rivers by T. Greenwood. This one will be quick. I'll have it done in a couple of days. I'll give you my report next week.

Today is gorgeous!!! I have the bedroom window open, and the cat is happy. He's sitting by the window, soaking up the fresh air and watching and listening to the birds twittering in the back yard. So refreshing.

I slept really late this morning and feel much better today. I'm hoping my "tireds" of the last few days will soon be a thing of the past.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012


Here's a hat I finished knitting, modeled by a teddy bear who thinks he's bigger than he is. I really like the colors in this yarn.

Other than some knitting, I have been working. Just a little bit of work every day has been wearing me out. I need to alter my work plan... which I have done in planning for my future hours. I hope that helps reduce my tiredness.

I also am trying to cut back on my Diet Coke consumption; I think this is contributing to my tired/groggy feelings. Hopefully I'll soon be used to my new normal. I don't want to continue being a Diet Coke guzzler for the rest of my life.

Tonight after work I was just too tired to attend a Lenten activity at church. Another reason I didn't go was the good book I'm reading, which I have mentioned before: Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides. The second half of this book has been riveting. I can barely put the book down. So I bought myself some dinner and sat and read my book instead of going to church. Almost done now - I'm 93% through the book.

I'm hoping for renewed energy any day now!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Be the Change

Today I watched Dr. Phil. Guests were the 41-year-old male teacher and his new live-in girlfriend, his former student, who is 18. Barf! He left a 20-year marriage and three kids to move in with an 18 year old girl. Her mother is understandably outraged.

He claims they are in love and just "following their hearts." With language like that you know he is wooing this child with romantic ideas, not real life. What he wants, it seems, is fresh meat. After he's done using her up, he'll dump her, too. He's selfish, cruel, and dishonest. If he truly loves her, he would be willing to give her time to grow up and make a decision based on experience and self/world awareness. He has to know that at 18 her brain isn't even fully developed, and she does not have the capacity to understand long term consequences. She is being fooled and is playing house. He is satisfying his lust for youth and using her, big time.

Her mother sees this clearly, but because she's the mother, the daughter can't get past the mother-daughter thing to see that her mother is right. So there is big time tension. Who is taking care of this girl's need for protection? This idiot teacher should know better and should be put in jail.

Another thing happened: today I heard a statistic that a shelter here in St. Paul, MN, which helps women escaping from domestic violence, took in almost 1,000 women and children in 2011. 1,000 women and children in need of protection from domestic violence in little St. Paul!? That is an outrage. Probably more were turned away, because we all know these days, there are not enough shelters and safe houses for the enormous need. What a sad, sad state our society is in.

I don't have the answers. Right now I only have outrage. Somehow we need to educate our children... girls, so they learn to see the danger signs in relationships and learn to protect themselves, and to love themselves enough to avoid those pitfalls; boys so they no longer feel this need to control and "own" the girls and women in their lives, and love themselves enough to accept life's ups and downs without fear of losing their manhood. Picture this: boys and girls, men and women, all strong and secure in themselves to avoid falling into dangerous relationships. They all value the friendships and talents that everyone provides. Friendships and love relationships are built on trust, respect, and equality. We could close the shelters and trust that our neighbors and we ourselves would all be helping protect our children.

Dream world? Maybe... but it's what a lot of other dreamers have seen as possibilities: Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., Jesus, Sojourner Truth, Jane Addams, Paul and Sheila Wellstone... I don't think it's too much to ask. Let's think about our own lives and how we can each make a difference with our neighbors, friends, co-workers, and those we meet along our daily journeys. Speak up, take a stand, defend children, challenge stereotypes. Maybe we can start to turn this around and create a better world.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

A Sunny Sunday Afternoon

Came back from church.. had an uplifting service, and enjoyed yummy pot luck lunch. Now it's a beautiful, sunny Sunday afternoon. Later Charles and I will take a walk. First I feel a nap coming on. But before that, a little chat at my blog.

My heart is full of dreams and hopes and wishes. Wish I could tell you exactly what is on my mind and in my heart, but it feels too personal. When I sat down to write, I thought I'd share my thoughts, but I realize sometimes I'm TOO open. So I'm only telling you this much: my heart is full.

Here is a prayer shawl that I finished yesterday. It's only the 2nd one I've completed. I started another one immediately after finishing this. This one went really fast. It took me less than a month to make this. And I got the yarn at a fundraising sale, 25 cents per skein. Can't beat that price!! I'm hoping the next one goes quickly, too. I love to knit while watching movies and TV, and when it appears to grow quickly, I feel enthused about continuing.

Have a fabulous, Sunny Sunday, world!

Friday, March 09, 2012

Friday Books: No Change

Last week I had just started reading Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides. I'm still reading it and only about halfway through. It's a little bit long (over 500 pages) with small print, so that, plus just being busy, is my excuse for not yet finishing it. Still loving the book, though. I hope to have it done by next Friday.

Meanwhile, here's another picture of my masterpiece quilt. I finally got it delivered to the newlyweds, only a year and a half late. Believe me, I could have done lots worse. They appear to like it. Hooray!

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

My Quilts Will Never End

Today I did a little digging around in my sewing room. I have some quilt tops that need to be finished... and a couple people have offered to help. I was taking an inventory of sorts, and was shocked. In the last couple of years I have been concentrating on finishing UFOs (unfinished objects). I thought I was doing so well.

Hahaha! Joke's on me. For every UFO I finished, I probably made at least 2 more tops. That's by far the most fun part of quilting for me -- the creative process, picking fabrics, putting things together, looking at patterns and secondary patterns. Once the top is made, my interest switches to more creativity... not to the finishing steps which are more of a drudgery, in my opinion.

I love completed quilts, but getting them to that point can be a drag. So anyway, in today's digging around, I discovered that I have basically undone all the finishing I had accomplished in the last year.. Now I have to start all over again, getting old quilts finished.

a top I made recently when I started playing with 2.5" strips.. it still needs some kind of border

I'm afraid I may just have to accept the fact that my poor descendants will end up with a pile of unfinished quilts to deal with (upon my demise). I should probably clip notes to each one, telling them what to do and where to donate them. Even my collection of finished quilts is starting to add up. My descendants will either be thrilled or will be exasperated at what to do with it all.

my friend, S, gave me a bunch of scrap blocks, and I used some of them to make this top, one of the many I now have (again) waiting to be finished

I've decided not to worry about it. I won't be here to witness the angst (or joy, as the case may be). I'll just continue creating and trying my best to get projects done. I wonder if I will ever feel like I get them all done and end up with NO on-going projects. For now, I just can't imagine that kind of a life......... can you??

Friday, March 02, 2012

This Guy Loves My Quilts

There is one guy in my life who LOVES my quilts. He can barely take a nap without using one of my quilts. He hangs around while I'm making them and adds his opinions, which usually don't make any sense, so I just ignore him. He has a quilt of his own, which he loves, but he seems to love all the others that I use, too. If I take a nap using one of my quilts, he has to come around and hang out with me. He is my biggest fan, and I'm happy to have at least one huge fan who loves all my quilts, ugly or not. Here is my biggest fan, sleeping sweetly on one of my quilts:

Isn't he sweet? Especially while sleeping. On a quilt. Not annoying or biting me. I wish my hubby would be half the fan that the cat is, but I'm just thankful to have one avid fan.

Look at this great fabric! Giraffes! I'm tempted just to hang it on the wall, without even cutting into it. I'll have to see if inspiration hits.

I made another small quiltie for Rosbud Reservation. I finished the previous six, which I showed you before (two of them are below, all done). The box they're in could fit one more, so here it is. I'll send these 7 quilties to Rosebud this week.

Friday Books: Middlesex

Isn't she a cutie?? She was recently born to a co-worker. I think she is smiling because of all the great books her mommy reads to her.

The book I am currently reading is Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides. I'm not very far into it, so I can't say much other than I love the writing!! If I didn't have umpteen things to distract me, I would sit down and read non-stop and make fast headway through this book. I can tell you more about it next Friday.

So, should I fill this space with other random thoughts? I say Yes. And what I say goes, since it's my blog.

* I am having fun with my new computer. I still have many things to learn about it. I love having a computer that moves around. I have watched a couple movies while sewing... haha! What that really means is, I start sewing, turn on a movie, and do no more sewing until the movie is done.

* Mom's 91st birthday is next Monday. I can't even go see her at birthday time because of such a busy month for me... lots of meetings and "stuff" that is filling up my days (with too much to do).

* Last night my church put together 240 sandwiches. Today I delivered them to a homeless shelter. The sandwiches smelled good in my car, and I hope they will be appreciated by the recipients. We tried to make them healthy (whole wheat bread, for example).

* I am looking forward to summer. I have a couple of FUN ideas in mind... things we've never done before.

That's all, folks! Enjoy a lovely weekend, wherever you may be.