Friday, January 30, 2015

Friday Books: Certain Rivers

The Banks of Certain Rivers by Jon Harrison was this week's book. This was chosen by my online book group for our January read. It was engaging and I enjoyed reading it, but it was not a piece of profound literature that blew my socks off. It would make a good beach read while on a vacation when you don't want anything too deep.

A nice man and his family experience a tragedy. He attempts to heal from the trauma and continue to raise his son in a healthy way. He encounters other challenges and problems ranging from a small one that he exaggerates in his mind until it become a true problem, to a potentially life altering serious problem which comes upon him in a surprising way... it is interesting to see how he deals with these challenges, and the reader is carried along, hoping he survives them all.

I gave it 3 stars for being easy to like but not great.

(substitute "quilt" for the coffee, and I'm a happy woman)

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Winter Beauty .. and Endless Illness

Recently I had a day for running a million errands. One of those errands was to photograph quilts at this fence which is at a historical setting near my neighborhood. It was a beautiful day, but the temperature was about 25 degrees F, so my hands got VERY cold. However, it was fun, because the quilts looked so pretty on this fence, against the snow, stone building, and blue sky. Lately we've had a couple of days in the low 40s! So nice! But I didn't have quilts to photograph then and probably won't until it gets cold again. C'est la vie.

Here are some close-ups. Of the first three, these were all made by other people, but I quilted the one on the left. I made and quilted all the others (some of the blocks were made by my guild members).
The middle three will be sent to the two Sunshine projects (Wrap a Smile and Quilts Beyond Borders), and the last two will go to Wrap Them in Love.

I've had a cold for three weeks now, and I'm still sniffling and coughing. What a nuisance! It's the Winter of the Endless Illness. Well, luckily I feel fairly OK, but I get tired easily due to this stupid cold. I hope I haven't infected a zillion other people. I was careful not to shake hands with anyone today at church. (Though I would hope I long ago passed the point of being contagious, but who really knows?!)

Friday, January 23, 2015

Friday Books: The Warmth of Other Suns

Last Friday I was sick, and I needed to be out of town for several days (Mom in hospital, etc).. so I missed posting a book review. Here I am, back and feeling better (hooray)! And my mom is also doing better.

I read The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson. This book was so interesting! It prompted me to ponder my memories of the years it describes. It follows three different African-American people who migrated from the South (in USA) to the North during the great migration, 1915-1970.

Once again my white privilege slapped me across the face, reminding me about the depth of every day struggles people of color experienced in the South - the de facto slavery that existed in the form of sharecropping, underemployment, intimidation, fear, extreme segregation, and no protection under the law (and protective laws being ignored by local law enforcers). Once they arrived in the North, certain aspects of life were better, but it was by no means a life of equality. My brain knows all these things happened; my conscious mind gets to ignore it due to my whiteness and privilege I enjoy in my daily life. I still am sometimes shocked to realize that these awful things were not just a horrible part of our history, but were still going on during my life time. I have had the luxury to allow myself to be somewhat oblivious even as I attempt to keep up with social issues.

This book was important for me to read and to further try to understand our collective history. This book about the far and recent past was very timely. History matters.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

A Celebration: Note-Cards!

What am I celebrating? Can you guess? It is this post -- number 1700! I love reaching these big number milestones. It is amazing that I have continued to post here and have reached such a high number! And the best part is that I still have readers! I love you guys.

This time I am celebrating simply by showing you some note cards I have started making. I'm having fun with them and hope to make some that are even cooler.

I sew them on.. here's the front and then the inside.
I love to save selvages and use them in surprising ways, so I realized I could use those on my notecards, too.

Then I remembered that a woman in my local guild keeps asking me to make her a bookshelf quilt like the one I made last year. This one:
I always tell her to start saving selvages and make her own.

Well, I realized I could finally make her happy and give her a bookshelf quilt. So I made this:
(The scissors blade is holding the card shut for picture-taking purposes.)
I think she'll like it.

Happy Post #1700 to me, and Happy Reading to my wonderful readers! Thanks for being so faithful. I'm off to make more home-sewn notecards.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

A Pictorial Guide of Recent Days

I'm back! I have been out of town and out of commission. Husband and I both have been sick (we're finally feeling better). My mother was back in the hospital, so I went to visit/help. She's doing better, also, with some lingering struggles. And then I attended a quilt retreat in a new-to-me location. Because I was still suffering from my lingering illness, I did not have the energy I usually have at retreats. Nevertheless I had fun and made some progress on a project.

Here is my photo guide of these recent activities:

On road to visit my mother, I captured these sunset shots.

Because I was sick, I was required to wear this mask while visiting my mom. (In my defense, I did delay my arrival there, in hopes that I was no longer contagious by the time I entered the hospital environment.) Notice that my 93-year-old mom looks better than I do! OTOH, please don't notice.

Then the quilt retreat:
This is my cousin who finished her lovely quilt top.

On the way home, some ice on a large lake:

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Update on Inside Outside Upside-Down

This post is in response to comments I received on my Wed., January 7 post and my Inside Outside Upside-Down challenge quilt.

Thank you for the comments, Readers. This challenge is not one in which someone wins. Instead, the quilts are gathered up in a group and are displayed at various venues around the state for the next year. When the next challenge is done, it replaces the traveling display. This means that a bunch of people will see my quilt alongside the fabulous ones done by the true artists in my guild. (There is some REAL talent there. Wow.) And soon I'll get back my challenge quilt from last year. It has been traveling around for the last year.

Last year I made that challenge quilt about four times before I had one that I felt was presentable. This year I didn't want to do that. But I might make a second attempt...

I really appreciate your encouragements for me to show it and participate. I might. I'm still contemplating.

One person mentioned that she liked the "skirt." Thought I'd show you what I really had in mind. It's supposed to be a window. That's our view of a window from the inside, looking at a curtain. Then under the curtain you see there is a kid outside, looking in with his hands up beside his face to see better. Really, that's kind of what I had envisioned... just making a window quilt... and I might still do that. And I'll make it more clear that it's a window and not a skirt.

I also like this upside down part: Down Under aka Australia.

The challenge isn't due for a while, so I have time to think on this and perhaps make another one.

Friday, January 09, 2015

Courage to Resist: Hans Litten

Hans Litten was a lawyer in Germany in the 1930s. He was brave enough to challenge and attempt to stop Hitler's rise to power. Eventually he was arrested and sent to various prison camps. Hitler hated him because of the court case Litten had brought against Hitler. Therefore Litten was terribly abused and tortured. He eventually died at Dachau. A couple of years before his death, all the prisoners were supposed to prepare a gift to honor Hitler on his birthday. Litten recited this poem. I believe he wrote it himself, though I'm not positive. I saw this being recited in German (on a BBC special) by various of his survivors and supporters (his niece, a family friend, an author, etc.) Very moving.

Thoughts Are Free, by Hans Litten

Thoughts are free, who can guess them?
They flee by like nocturnal shadows.
No man can know them, no hunter can shoot them
with powder and lead: Thoughts are free!

I think what I want, and what delights me,
still always reticent, and as it is suitable.
My wish and desire, no one can deny me
and so it will always be: Thoughts are free!

And if I am thrown into the darkest dungeon,
all this would be futile work,
because my thoughts tear all gates
and walls apart: Thoughts are free!

So I will renounce my sorrows forever,
and never again will torture myself with some fancy ideas.
In one's heart, one can always laugh and joke
and think at the same time: Thoughts are free!

I love wine, and my girl even more,
Only I like her best of all.
I'm not alone with my glass of wine,
my girl is with me: Thoughts are free!

At the end of his life, when Litten was at Dachau with nothing.. no books, no visitors, no hope, no anything, imprisoned in solitary confinement, he recited by heart poetry and other literature which brought hope to other prisoners. Indeed, thoughts are free. Hitler can burn books and imprison intellectuals, but thoughts are free.

Never stop reading.

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Determined... and Making Progress

I am determined to get some of these UFO tops quilted and out of my house! I'm doing pretty well so far. I got these two done, and I have a third that is nearly done. These are charity quilts.

I also quilted this. I showed the top to you a while back.. maybe a month ago? It's supposed to be for my guild challenge, Inside Outside Upside-Down. I didn't like it as I had it. I decided to cut off the top row and take off the borders. I like it a little better this way. Then I got it all quilted and with a hanging sleeve on the back. I used the cut-off top row to make the hanging sleeve! (So clever, I thought.)

So it's done, but I'm just not that happy with it. I think I won't turn it in with the other challenge quilts. I'm trying too hard to be an artist, or something. And I don't feel like I truly am an artist. Disappointing.

I tried to watch the People's Choice Awards tonight, but I kept falling asleep.

I'm so sad about the attack and massacre in Paris. We live in a sad, broken world. Let's follow advice from Ellen DeGeneres: be kind to one another.

Saturday, January 03, 2015

Saturday Note About Books & Other Stuff

I meant to post yesterday in case some of you came to see my Friday Books post. I don't have a book report this week. I'm reading a good book but have not devoted much time to it, so I'm not done. Instead of reading I have been doing a lot of sewing.

I completed this quilt:

I made this quilt top, very similar to others I have made from scraps. I like this process:

I quilted another top late Friday night, but I couldn't find the fabric I want for the binding, so it's not 100% done yet. I'm hoping to get more quilting done as I always have a stack of tops waiting to be finished.

On Friday I had a fun lunch with BL and L who recently moved here from California. I have known them for years via online stuff and a few random in-person meets. Nice to have them in Minnesota now! Can you say "I love lefse??" After lunch we hit a new fabric shop. BL went nuts in the button bin.

Thursday, January 01, 2015

Looking Back to Christmas 2014

We had a bittersweet Christmas this year, with some sad and some happy moments. My favorite uncle died, and his memorial service was on the same day as the other side of our family had its Christmas party. It was a lovely service, and I felt uplifted. Then on to the Christmas party which we arrived to late, but better late than never, eh?

We played a fun family trivia game, masterfully created by my BIL, and filled up on good food and cookies.

Christmas Eve morning we went to my niece's house to visit briefly and meet, for the first time, our great-niece who came up from Florida. Photos show my nephew and his daughter, and then her cousins, two of my other great-niece,great-nephews (she loved the puzzle we gave her).

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That evening we enjoyed a lovely Christmas celebration at our DD and faux-SIL's new house (they moved in two weeks prior). We had to visit with Son via Skype as he is in Korea. We miss him! But thank goodness for Skype.

Christmas Day: a quiet day at home with husband and me. I made coffee cake for breakfast and served it on my mom's china, which we just received from her after her move into assisted living. It was nice to not have a hectic Christmas Day!

I was going to chat a little more, but I'm having trouble with the HTML code on this thing; weird stuff is happening, so I'll stop for now. Happy New Year!!!