Thursday, April 30, 2009

Spring to Finish Results

I joined the "Spring to Finish" challenge.. I felt sure I would finish a lot of quilts this month. Time got away from me, and I was so incredibly busy, and all I managed was to quilt and bind this ONE top. However... it really isn't finished. If you peak on the left side of this picture you'll see where the binding isn't done yet.

The best thing for me to do right now is to stop writing on my blog and to go work on this binding. Maybe I can finish it while it is still April.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

A Lesson Learned the Hard Way

Thanks to tworque blogspot for this photo. I borrowed it without asking; it just
seemed so perfect for today. Thanks, tworque.

Last Thursday I attended a funeral. Tomorrow, Thursday, there is another one. A woman at my church suddenly died. She was about my age. Her husband came home and found her dead.

I didn't even know she had heart problems. In fact, there was a lot about her I didn't know. This is what I did know: she faithfully attended a monthly Women's Night Out gathering that our church started about a year ago. After I stopped attending, she asked me why I wasn't there. [Oh! I didn't think she would have noticed or cared.] She loved dogs. She did doggie foster care and spoke lovingly of the dogs in her care during the Joys and Concerns time at church.

She had a smile on her face almost always. She was so cheerful that... I'll admit... I thought she verged on being too silly. So when she talked to me last Sunday, and I was running out to my car, I kind of half listened and said "oh, really?" over my shoulder as I ran on to my "more important" tasks for the day. The next day she died.

Gulp. She had been working on a project to present to a nearly 97-year-old woman from our church who is moving out of town to be near her relatives. She had been trying to tell me about it as I ran so busily past and brushed her off.

Lesson learned: be friendly at all times, not just when it feels good for ME, but at each and every encounter, even if I don't feel like it. Now I get to live with my knowledge that at my last encounter with B., I was not in the least bit friendly. I feel so bad. She was nothing but nice to me every time we spoke. I was not... now I can thank her for the lesson she taught me. I pledge to try to be friendlier to everyone I encounter, even if I don't feel like it. Even if I feel too busy. Even if what I am running off to is "more important." It is not more important. Thank you, B., for helping me learn. RIP.

Today I am thankful for:
1. Learning, even when it's hard
2. Book club
3. Spring blossoms
4. Fabulous teachers (one I used to work with is highlighted in today's paper)
5. Energy and enthusiasm of my students

Monday, April 27, 2009

Remembering How to Sew

I have been so busy lately that I have barely had time to squeeze in any sewing. Finally tonight I found time to make one block. And I have a binding I am hand sewing to the back of a quilt. That's all I have had time for in the last chunks of forever! I am relieved that I still remember how to sew.

May is fast approaching, and that is always the busiest month! Even busier than December, I think. I get to help deliver part of the message in church next Sunday, AND help with the pancake breakfast AND attend a meeting after the pancakes AND later that same day is our son's final college choir concert of his life. Later in May he is graduating from college, which is very exciting but adds to the frantic-ness. [What is the noun form of 'frantic?' Franticity? Frantiction? Franction? Friction? Franticability?]

Today at work I signed up for two training sessions to take place in a couple of evenings in May. Why? I must be insane. I'll be doing a garage sale in May, also. And we have spring cleaning and yard work to worry about. May will be fun!

Odd Nancy arrived in my mailbox today. Isn't she a doll? Yes, she is a doll. Hand made by Silly BooDilly. I bought Odd Nancy at BooDilly's Etsy shop. Nancy is going to keep me company while I cut strips and pieces and square things up. She enjoys seeing wonky blocks get squared up. It comforts her to have that predictability and squareness. Now that I have adopted her, she is going to drop the "Odd" from her name. She might even change Nancy. She and I haven't decided yet.
Here's Baby Boy just hanging out, feet in air, one sock on, one sock off. Dum de dum dum.

Cute baby boy came to our office at the end of the day. I was the only lucky one still there to visit with him. I was thankful I had my camera with me. He's just too cute!

Today's thankfultionnesses:

1. Babies
2. Good lunches brought from home
3. Mute button on the remote
4. Deciding to take my camera with me to work today
5. My blister is healing quickly

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Can You Say "Mold Spores?"

I worked my butt off all day Saturday. Today I'm recovering.

A group from my church joined another church, and we went by bus to Cedar Rapids, Iowa. They had the terrible flood there last June '08; they still need lots of work on rebuilding. So off we went. I was surprised at the extent of the damage, and the still-vacant and crumbling houses. I know, I shouldn't have been surprised, but it's different seeing it in person than it is on the news. Here is our prayer circle just before leaving at 6:30 a.m. The woman right in front of the camera is a friend from way back. We used to attend the same church, but we eventually left to attend churches closer to our homes. It was fun being on a team with her after so many years!

Anyone recognize the woman standing in the middle of the photo below? She's my friend from Walk a Mile.

Teams were assigned to different places. Some went to homes and helped put up sheetrock, others painted, and my group went to an abandoned church that had been left sitting since last June. It's better if they can do the tearing out right away, but this one had been left, so the mold had been allowed to develop and grow. We all wore face masks, and the team assigned to the basement needed body suits in addition. (My friend from way back was on that team. We often met outside on the "break bench".)

We hauled out all the church pews, tore up carpet, and removed the lower half of the plaster walls. It was hard, physical labor! I'm glad I went, because the needs were obvious, but if I'd known how hard I'd have to work, I probably would have opted out. However, it ended up being a good lesson in "going with the flow." I did the best I could, took breaks when I needed to (as the senior member on our team, this was more frequent than the others). In the end I felt like I had made a good contribution and accomplished a lot.

Last night I fell into bed, and I slept like a rock. Today I have been taking it easy, and so far have taken one nap. I'm stiff and sore, but it actually feels good to have done some hard work.

Today I am thankful for:

1) my comfortable bed

2) rain

3) opportunities to help

4) Megan preaching today (and encouraging us to think about what we are thankful for every day.. I'm starting with five)

5) naps

Friday, April 24, 2009

Me in 13 Words

How do you see yourself -- in 13 words?


See how you can describe yourself! Do you find this task difficult or easy?

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Loss of a Friend

Family friend, Bob F., died of cancer this week. He was funny, kind, loving, smart, joyful, and a great dad. He left behind a wife, five children and their spouses, and three grand-children, all of whom lost him way too early. He was only 62.

From "I Hope You Dance" by Lee Ann Womack

I hope you never lose your sense of wonder,
You get your fill to eat but always keep that hunger,
May you never take one single breath for granted,
God forbid love ever leave you empty-handed,
I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean,
Whenever one door closes I hope one more opens,
Promise me that you'll give faith a fighting chance,
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance,

I hope you dance... I hope you dance.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

More Pictures of Fun

More pictures from the fun we had Monday night...... I explained what was going on in yesterday's blog comments. (And believe me, it is fascinating.)

Monday, April 20, 2009

Copying Megan

I liked Meg's post over at Life Is Good... , so I copied her list and am answering them with my own thoughts. Here goes.

Outside my window... night sky and beautiful city lights.
I am thinking... I am lucky to have such nice friends!
I am thankful... for my sister's wonderful bookstore and the "sister discount" she gives me.
From the kitchen... not much today. For lunch I grabbed a frozen entree, and I went out for dinner. Hubby was on his own.
I am wearing... same thing I wore to work. It was cold today, so a modified turtle-neck with a vest, and jeans.
I am creating... quilts - always.
I am going... to wish I didn't have two Diet Cokes with caffeine tonight.
I am reading... "The Year of Living Biblically" by A.J. Jacobs - very funny and thought-provoking.
I am hoping... that I don't look terribly fat in pictures of my son's wedding this summer.
I am hearing... television -- a very dumb show, but it's entertaining.
Around the house... folded laundry in the living room. Hey, at least it's folded!
One of my favorite things... being at home on a quiet evening with my sweet hubby, both of us doing a lot of nothing.
A few plans for the rest of the week... book club, a funeral (a very dear man died of cancer this week), and an all-day volunteer event on Saturday (from 6 a.m. to midnight).
Here is a "picture thought" I am sharing.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Almost Sunday

As I write this, it is late Saturday night, almost Sunday. I just finished these three placemats. It's just a simple project made from scraps. But the interesting part is, I have not yet made the project from which these scraps derived. Huh??

You see, I made a prototype.. settled on a design.. then had some scraps from the prototype and made them into placemats. (Today I purchased the fabrics for the final project; some are slightly different from these, because some of my originals were no longer available.) I decided to finish these placemats tonight and give them to my friend, Beth, at church tomorrow. By the time I post this on my blog, she will already know she has received placemats. I didn't want to ruin the surprise and post this photo too early.

I started on the final project, but cut my strips the wrong size. Dang! Thank goodness I only cut a few so I have not (yet) ruined a whole project. Better wait on that one 'til I have my whole brain engaged.

Here they are again -- for Mama Bear, Papa Bear, and Daughter Bear

Friday, April 17, 2009

Bloggers Quilt Festival

Check out the quilt festival. So many beautiful quilts!

Here's my favorite... not so awe-inspiring, perhaps, but it's full of love. When my dad died in 2002, my online friends sent heart blocks to me and also to my sister. I made this quilt from those hearts. Some of the setting fabrics are hand dyed by my sister's friend. My sister's quilt used a different setting, but we now have similar quilts made to remember our dad.

This quilt is a wonderful size for cuddling, perfect weight and softness, and comforts me as I think of my dad. Like someone else said: if we have a house fire, I hope I'm near this quilt so I can grab it as I run out.

Friday Five

Photo of St Paul Cathedral taken by me in '07. This year it is not this green yet, but it will be soon. Hooray!

I am ecstatic that today is Friday. What a long week! Should be a nice weekend; I'm looking forward to it with glee.

1) This week some people hurt my daughter's feelings, and it was completely unnecessary, not to mention small-minded. What a bunch of dingbats! Even though they are all adults, they were using their junior high brains, I think. It is so hard when my heart aches on behalf of my children. I wish I could wipe away the pain for them. Last night I couldn't get to sleep for thinking about it.

2) My summer is going to be fun, and it is going to fly! I can tell that already. I have a college graduation, two weddings, a mission trip, and I'm going to teach a quilting class. I'll try to squeeze in a couple of visits to the lake as well.

3) Lately I started daily use of a new skill that I learned a while back.. (c-print live captioning.. you probably never heard of c-print. It's a software I got training on, then didn't use very often.) It is exciting to see my skills and speed improve. It is something I really enjoy doing!

4) I have fallen behind on the Friday Block Party and have really done nothing toward my Spring to Finish goals. The quilting will wait. I have been in a quilty slump lately. Slumps happen. I know I'll get my mo-jo back again soon.

5) Have I ever mentioned that I love my job? My students rock and roll! (Even when they don't, they still do. Figure that one out.)

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

An Interview and Some Quilts

Jo over at A Majority of Two answered some interview questions and then offered to interview others. She sent me these five questions. If you would like me to send you some questions (which I will make up), just let me know, and you, too, can have the thrill of talking about yourself on your own blog.

Also, for your viewing pleasure, I am posting more pictures of Amish quilts. These are the real thing, purchased from Amish women who had made these quilts for their families. For various reasons they were ready to part with the quilts. These were not made with tourists in mind, which often will change how a quilt looks. So these are the Real McCoy. They were pieced on treadle machines and hand quilted. (Ask me some day, and I'll tell you where that expression, the Real McCoy, came from. Or, if you want to do your own research, Google it and tell me what you learn!)

above: a rotten picture of a beautiful quilt. Apologies.

Everyone loved this one (above).

above: this is the first quilt made by a 14-year-old girl

1. Have you ever been influenced by a work of art – music, painting, book – and if so, how?
Definitely by many books! The first time I remember this happening is when I was about 8 or 9. That Christmas I was given a book called Jane Addams, World Neighbor. I totally fell in love with Jane and her work, and decided I wanted to be just like her when I grew up. I didn't do exactly that, but I ended up working in human services and still think of Jane Addams as my role model.
2. If you were a chocolate bar, what type would you be? 100 Grand. It's bumpy and thick, so it looks like me, and it tastes good but isn't the best chocolate you will ever eat. So in that way it is like me -- I'm a good person but won't be winning any Nobel prizes any time soon.

3. What is your secret weapon to lure the opposite sex? I pondered this for years before I accidentally met my only real boyfriend who later became my husband. He says it was my good legs. So I guess my secret was: wear a skirt.

4. What, in your opinion, is your greatest accomplishment? Being a generous person. Of course, my children are the greatest miracles in my life, but what I alone (more or less) accomplished was becoming what I am... generous and caring. And I hope I have influenced my fabulous children to follow in my footsteps of caring and sharing.

5. How many friends do you have on your Facebook account? About 70. I don't spend much time at FB. It seems kind of silly. OTOH, how much sillier is it than blogging about myself ad nauseum?

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Amish Quilts

We had a long guild meeting tonight. Our speaker had a bunch of Amish quilts to show us. This was one of my favorites. The log cabin center was made in the 40s, and the last border was added in the 60s and then it was quilted, by hand, of course. She had a ton more, and I have more pictures, but it's bedtime, so I'll have to post those later, after my Beauty Rest. Nighty-night!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Our Bodies, Our Beautiful Selves

Look at this. This is my daughter on her first Easter, 1981. Isn’t she adorable? And there is her young mother, wearing a skirt and blouse that she made (what?? I used to do that??) and it’s *tucked in* !! I thought I was fat then! Isn’t that sad?

Recently when “TubaLuba” posted a message about feeling happy with her body, even the extra little matronly roll she has developed, I was amazed at all the sad, self-bashing comments she received. I would say 99% of the comments said something like, “Oh, I’m glad you are happy with your body. I certainly am not. I am way too roly-poly.” Sad to say, I was one of those self-bashing commenters.

Then recently another blog mentioned Queen Latifah. I think Queen Latifah is beautiful and sexy. Has anyone ever heard her complain about being “above average” in size? I’m really asking, because I have not heard this coming from her, but she may have said it. I don’t know. She exudes confidence and beauty and strength! I admire her for those things! I *hope* she has never bashed her self because of size!

My point is (and I do have one), I think it is soooo sad that most American women feel bad about our bodies. What business did I have thinking I was fat back in 1981 when I looked like that!? Why can we never be satisfied? It is a rare woman I have met who doesn’t worry about her body and/or have a poor body image. I truly hope this will change, but it has not changed in my daughter’s generation, at least that I can see.

Charles told me about someone we both know. She is young, bubbly, cute, happy, full of life, and she thinks she isn’t pretty enough. He overheard her saying “if I were 20 lbs lighter I would go after Mr. XYZ.” We felt sad that she didn’t feel confidence enough in her bubbliness, cuteness, happiness, and joie de vivre. Why did her weight have to stop her from going after what she wanted?!

We have ruined so many women’s lives by making them think they are not good enough. Ever. I have wasted a lot of time worrying about my body… in the old days I was “too skinny.” Now I’m “too fat.” I’m just so lucky that my hubby loves me and doesn’t care two hoots about my size. He has helped me to see how silly it is to worry about it (but hasn’t managed to 100% cure me yet, I’ll admit.)

Women have made marriage choices and other important life decisions based on their own poor self-concept, sometimes much of that has to do with their body image. Very, very sad. And how dumb… women go through so many changes! We get periods, we go through pregnancies, we breast-feed, we experience menopause – all these things have consequences to our body shapes. Yet we are only satisfied with a Barbie-doll-body. Isn’t it nuts? We measure ourselves against an impossible standard!

I hope whoever you are, dear reader, will think about learning to love yourself as you are. Think about all your wonderful qualities: intelligent, great sense of humor, good mom, good writer, artistic, creative, funny, curious, friendly, bubbly, quiet, talkative, strong, proud, decisive, helpful… those are what make you worthwhile and loveable. Embrace those qualities in yourself. Me, too! I’m beautiful, funny, creative, and loving! One of God’s miracles! Hooray!

And here is another miracle from God: my son on his first Easter, 1987. Too cute!!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Saturday, April 11, 2009

What Easter Means to Me

thanks to a Google search for this picture

Easter has been the hardest holiday for me to get my mind around. For years as I was growing up I just couldn’t quite get the deep understanding of exactly what Jesus had done for us. Still today I think it’s a complicated concept, and simple platitudes don’t satisfy me at all.

As an adult I finally have at least gained some understanding of Easter. Being a mom has been the biggest life lesson for me. I know I would risk my own life if I could save my child or children.. in a heartbeat. They are both adults now, but I would still do it. That is the kind of love Jesus had. He was willing to be tortured and to die a slow, painful death because of his love. He was showing us by his example that there is no end to God’s love for each of us. There is no horrible place we can be where God will not be with us. When I really think about this and “get” this, it is overwhelming and powerful.

A cousin of mine had four children. Two of them had cystic fibrosis. One died at a very young age, before I had a chance to know him. Another died at age 18, at Easter time. I’d had a chance to meet and get to know her; she was a loving and joy-filled young woman. Every year at Easter I think of my cousin and her family. My heart aches for them, and yet I hope that Easter brings them a special, loving reminder that God is always with them. They will never be alone. Do they get comfort from the words at Easter “Death, where is thy sting?” I hope so.

Even though I understand Easter much better than I did in my younger years, I still puzzle over it sometimes. I wonder if I did end up in a horrible, painful, isolated place.. would I be able to grab onto the Easter story and get comfort from an ever-present God? I hope I could, but I can’t make that guarantee. Easter gives me the courage to think about what I might do, or how I might feel, and gives me hope that I could survive the storm, whatever it may be. It also gives me the inspiration to try to reach out and help other people. I want to share God’s compassion with the world, though if you meet me, I will probably never utter those words out loud. I just hope that my compassion and love will show in the way I live.

I think courage, hope, faith, and love are what Easter is about. I’m striving to achieve these in my daily life; the arrival of Easter once a year helps me renew my commitment to living as I believe.

Cute baby hedgehogs!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Friday Five

1. We had staff development today, with two very good speakers. One was Tommy Watson, the author of the above book. Inspirational!

2. What a gorgeous day! I did some walking outside during lunch break. I accidentally did more walking after work, because my keys were in one building, and my car was outside another building.

3. I just finished a great book, Chosen by a Horse by Susan Richards. Who knew a book about a horse could be such an insightful and moving story about human beings.

4. Lately I have been thinking about what life will be like after retirement. My job provides good structure to my days. I will have to make sure I plan carefully when retirement comes around.

5. Come back tomorrow if you would like to read my post about what Easter means to me. (If you don't want to read it, you've now been warned.)

Thursday, April 09, 2009

What I Might Be

Dance for Joy! a quilt by me

My friend, Megan, blogged about Imaginary Selves a while back. I said I would give it some thought and apply imagination to myself. I may stretch the "rules" for this, as I'm not totally clear what the "rules" are... but here goes.

First, this is a quote from a book Megan has been reading, Simple Abundance:

"What are you going to be when you grow up?... If you had ten other lives to lead, what would you be doing?... One of your secret selves might reveal a passionate wish. Your secret imaginary lives are full of surprises. Be open to gleaning their secrets of personal style."

So, here goes.. what I'm going to be in my other lives, when I grow up.

1. A great mom! In my current life, I felt I was a great mom when my kids were babies. I absolutely loved taking care of my babies. As they grew up, however, I faced hard challenges, and I didn't always know what to do. (Can I say, I was sometimes totally lost and floundering?) So in my other life, I'm going to be much more confident about how to raise a child through its whole life, and how to be a present, loving, supportive, wise mom even through the hard parts. I suppose even the great moms have regrets. But I would feel better if I had fewer regrets.

2. An artist. I am creative, and I enjoy quilting for that reason. However, I would like to be more talented in drawing. I would love to do line drawings, in a truly artistic way. I sort of play around with that in my private life, but it's not of public quality. I'd like to be better at it.

3. Writer. I'd love to be a good enough writer to write good novels! Wow! I admire books so much. Imagine being able to write one!

4. Teacher. I work in a school district. I am not a teacher, and to be honest, I am glad I'm not! But I would love to have those teaching skills. If I could be in charge of a group/class/room and enjoy it, and do it well... wow! That would be a thrill!

5. Athlete. I'm pre-title 9. There was no opportunity for me to be an athlete. I was decent at basketball, but who knows if I could have been good or even great? I always loved swimming, too. Now as a chubby adult I don't like exercising. But if I had grown up playing sports regularly, who knows?! Maybe I'd love it. I know I'd feel a lot better and maybe wouldn't even be chubby.

6. Dancer. OK, here is a secret. I was once in a support-group kind of thing where we gave each other imaginary gifts. One person gave me ballet lessons! It was because he thought I was graceful! (And back then I had a ballet body.) That was one of the coolest gifts I have ever received! In my other life I am going to have an opportunity for ballet lessons. I think it will help boost my confidence and help me be less stiff and self-conscious.

This was a fun exercise. All of my wish-roles are inside of me, but only partially realized. I'm kind of surprised that I came up with stuff that is in me! I thought I would invent totally off the wall stuff! Give it a try. See what you come up with, imagining yourself growing up in your other life.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Zillions of Quilts

See this very sweet baby cuddled in a quilt? This baby has just undergone cleft palate surgery in Venezuela. The quilt is a gift from a loving quilter and donated to Rotaplast. Rotaplast is a program of Rotary; doctors and others volunteer to travel to another country and provide free surgeries. When the kids come out of surgery, they get to warm up in and keep a donated quilt. Over the years I have donated zillions of quilts to Rotaplast, and I love to think of the sweet little children who receive my quilts. Once in a blue moon I have been lucky enough to see a picture of a kid with a quilt made by me! This one is not, but it sure motivates me to try to make and finish more quilts!

For that reason I have put up the Spring to the Finish tab over on the sidebar. Thanks to Tall Grass Prairie Studio for the idea. We are trying to finish quilts during the month of April - as many as possible. So, I'm game. After seeing this picture, I want to make a few zillion more for the kids helped by Rotaplast.

Want to help? Check out the Sunshine blog and join us! Sunshine donates to two projects -- one is quilts for Rotaplast (through the coordinator of Wrap a Smile)!

Monday, April 06, 2009

The Winner Is.....

photo by ? (I forgot) found via Google search

Oh, wow! I was so pleased with all the comments I got at my 500th post! A bunch of fans of Ampersand heard about my blog-prize idea, and I got tons of comments from them. Isn't that great??

Total comments by 6:00 p.m. tonight was 48!! (I'm not counting the one I posted.) So.. I am going to hold true to my original thought which was $1 per comment. Ampersand is going to get $48! (I didn't think it would be that high, but hey - they can use it.)

And the winner of my celebration prize is:....... (drumroll).....Sweet P! Visit her blog here.

I still haven't decided what her prize will be. Guess I better get busy with that. Putting on my thinking cap right now.....

Thanks again for all the wonderful comments! It was very much fun celebrating my 500th post. Thanks for joining my party!