Sunday, January 31, 2010

90 Years And Counting

my MIL



Son and Dilly

Son et moi

Weekend went by too quickly. Don't they all? At least we were having fun.

I gave blood on Saturday. I wear my bruise proudly in honor of Emmy, a two-year-old whose life was saved by blood transfusions exactly one year ago. I also worked on quilting a wall hanging. It's almost done. I'm making progress on the red scarf I am knitting for Craft Hope (I have to get it sent in by Valentine's Day).

Today FIL hosted his own 90th birthday party. He'd even baked his own pineapple-upside-down cake. I decreed that we should all wear goofy hats to the party. You see the results in these pictures.

We gathered in a happy mood, and FIL told us some family history that several of us had never heard before. At age 90 he is still sharp, has his memory and hearing, and seems pretty fit. Both Charles and I come from good longevity genes!

FIL cutting the cake

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Photo Hunt: Spotted

Giraffe: Como Zoo

Go here to see other Photo Hunt posts.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Friday's Fave Five

See? My dining room was clean once!

It's time to reflect on my week and list my favorites - the things I'm thankful for. To read more posts like this, go here.

1) Daughter is having some fabulous experiences. To protect her privacy, I'll just say that she is doing a lot of learning and growing which makes her very happy. She is a blessing to more than just me! Also, great news, her job was made permanent, and her seniority goes back to when she started on a temporary basis in August. She and everyone else are all very relieved and happy.

2) Son is doing some cool stuff,too. After he finished college he decided he'd like to study another language and do more reading. So he has started studying Spanish, and he is reading something... not sure what... but as an avid reader myself, this makes me very happy.

3) Cat, whom I love dearly, is now living with Son and DIL. I miss Cat a little, but I'm happy he is not at my house full time. He is learning all about his new digs. I know he will be well-loved where he lives now.

4) We had a great discussion at Book Group this week. We are starting a new book, but had not read any of it yet, so we just talked generally about the issues that we know are in the book. I would like to say publicly that a certain Megan person is mature beyond her years! Wish I'd been that wise at that age.

5) I know it's still the dead of winter, but my summer plans are moving right along.. my summer is filling up with FUN activities. I'm looking forward to all of it. Even my high school reunion, which I have not attended since my 10th year reunion. Would you believe that this year will be my 40th??? I don't believe it myself. I am only 43 years old.

6) OK, I just have to add a sixth one. I am feeling so good and so happy these days! I love life, I love my friends, love my family, love Minnesota even though it's freezing our butts off, love my job, love my car, and even love my messy house. God is good. Life is precious. Wheee!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

State of the Union

Obama rocks! Let's work together, America!!!

Be Like Beth

My friend Beth at Walk a Mile joined this reading challenge, and I wanted to be a copy cat. I'm going to read 26 books alphabetically by title. (Not in that order, just trying to cover each letter.) Do you want to be like Beth, too? Join the fun here.

January 1, 2010 to December 31, 2010.

How does this reading challenge work? Choose the option that works best for you...

Authors -- Read alphabetically by author. Commit to 26 books.
Titles -- Read alphabetically by title. Commit to 26 books.
Authors & Titles -- Commit to reading 52 books

How strict is the 26 or 52? I know it isn't always easy to find those difficult letters. The thought of finding the X's (for example) might scare folks away. It shouldn't! I'm a merciful host! (Ask anyone!)

If you want to give the X's a go... For authors, try to find an X in the first name, middle name, or last name. For titles, it doesn't have to be the starting word. Try to find an X somewhere in a title, and it'd count in my book.

Still can't find a book for the letter you need? I'll take your word for it. I've been there. I know. If your library doesn't see the need to order books just because it starts with an X, then I don't blame you for not wanting to special order a book that you may or may not enjoy. You gave it your best, don't feel bad. You can still make this challenge work for you.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Dear Readers,

photo by me; Saint Paul Winter Carnival 2007

I am writing you a letter. I want you to know what I did.

[Reader: Gulp! What could it be?! What terrible, awful, no-good, horrible thing has Carol done for which she needs to confess??]

Many of you write blogs that I love to read. Is your blog no longer on my sidebar? Please do not fret! I was tired of having such a long list over there. It was taking over the world. So I erased some of them from public view only. They are still at my dashboard in the list of blogs I follow!

Never fear. I will continue to attempt to read as many of your blogs as I can. I know you realize that life is just too darn busy to try to visit every blog every day. Despite that I will continue in my previous haphazard fashion and visit you as often as I can.

I know I appreciate readers, so I wanted to reassure you that you have not lost me as a reader of your Beautiful Blog.

Your pal,

[Reader: Whew! That wasn't so bad. That's pretty much what we all do. What a relief!]

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Missing the Cat, Sort Of

Yesterday we gave away the cat. Cat has now transferred his domicile from our home to the home of our son and DIL. They wanted him, and we didn't. Sort of.

Our daughter was no longer able to keep the cat, even though he started out as hers. Her BF is very allergic, so there's no contest. The cat must go. That's how we inherited Cat. But there had been talk of eventually giving the cat to Son/DIL. We all decided yesterday was the day.

We love the cat; the cat loves us; at the same time, we just didn't want him. We were never pet people and would not choose to take on a cat. But... I am grateful for the cat-love I learned from him. I learned a lot about all animals, thanks to Dear Old Cat. I am grateful for that lesson.

When it came time to deliver him elsewhere, I felt sad. I miss him. Sort of. But at the same time, I enjoy my freedom from his neediness. Today for lunch I opened a can of tuna without anyone running into the room, crying and begging for his share. And I'm not talking about Charles. I'm talking about Cat who could smell tuna from 8 miles away, and any can being opened was cause for instant begging.

And I can leave quilty and card-making stuff out on my desk without someone getting into it and knocking it all onto the floor.

So I'm mostly happy to be back to how we like it.

Tonight Charles and I are going to watch the Vikings game together on TV. Sort of. I'll be in and out while I play with my fabrics and greeting cards which are in a different room. I'll spend some of the time knitting while we watch football. If it's an exciting game, I'll stay longer. If it's boring, I'll be sewing in another room. I guess the results of my projects will indicate the level of excitement of the game. I'm thankful I don't have to attend the game with that guy. Uffda.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Photo Hunt: Balanced

ski chair lift as seen from below: Lutsen

Check out other photos that depict the concept of "balanced" here.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Friday's Fave Five

Time to look back and think about my favorite parts of the week. Go here to read more Friday Faves.

1) This week I have savored the interactions I've had with students. I am so lucky to have a great job! My students are such a blessing.

2) I had a day off this week, and it was a beautiful day with sunshine and blue skies. Gorgeous! And I had fun sewing and making good progress on a quilt top.

3) Today is my sister's birthday. I like having sisters! I love and am proud of them both!

4) I managed to go to the Y and exercise most days. And when I couldn't or chose not to, I didn't beat myself up over it. I'm plugging away at becoming more healthy and realizing it will take some time to recover from my slothful ways.

5) my husband. When he comes home from work he gives me the sweetest smile. It warms my heart!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Voice of God

This is me with my dad in 1967. He was my minister, and it was my confirmation day!

Today my students and I suddenly heard a loud, amplified voice making an announcement. It seemed to come from nowhere; I teased my students and told them it was the Voice of God.

One of my students wanted to really talk about that -- asked if I had ever heard the voice of God, what does it sound like, and how do you hear it. I really wanted to continue the conversation. It would have been so interesting! This particular student is an ardent follower of her religion, which happens to be a different one from mine, and we have briefly touched on religious topics in the past.

I work in a school, so I don't feel comfortable going very far with talk about my own religion and how I experience it. That could get very sticky in a big hurry. This student and I have discussed it only briefly when we were not in a group.

Today we were in a small group; I felt I had to put a kabosh on the conversation, though I didn't want to. (I did tell my student that I have never heard a voice. But I have felt a presence.)

So I have been thinking all day about what it is like for me when I experience the presence of God.

I definitely felt God's presence when my dad died and in the days following. Tomorrow is the 8th anniversary of my dad's death. I can hardly believe it was 8 years ago. I clearly recall the days I spent with him in the hospital just before he died. I know that God was there with us. I hope it doesn't sound weird to say, but being with my dad while he died was an important step along my spiritual journey.

There are certain "gifts" associated with death. Hearing (feeling) the voice of God is just one of them. Maybe some day I'll get an opportunity to discuss this again with my student.. not to convince, but just to search and compare. I think it could be a great conversation.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Well-Fed Wednesday

Laura at Outnumbered Mom has started a new "list a family-friendly recipe" carnival. I decided to join in. As I told her in her blog comments, I am looking forward to having more time and energy for cooking once I retire in June. So I'll be checking in on Wednesdays to see if there are recipes I just can't pass up.

The recipe I am going to share is not for a whole meal. It is for a nice side dish that will go nicely with some of the others: porcupine meatballs, for example. Mine is called Red Lobster Garlic Cheese Biscuits.

Have you been to Red Lobster and pigged out on their fabulous biscuits? This recipe is much like those. Too yummy!! Your kids will gobble them up.

Red Lobster Garlic Cheese Biscuits

2 c. Bisquick
2/3 c. milk
1/2 to 1 c. shredded Cheddar cheese
1/4 to 1/3 c. butter, melted
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1 T. parsley flakes

Mix Bisquick, milk and cheese until soft dough forms; beat 30 seconds. Mix butter, garlic powder and parsley flakes. Drop dough by rounded teaspoonsful on greased cookie sheet, 1-1/2 inches apart. Bake at 450 deg for 10 min., or until lightly browned. Brush butter mixture over warm biscuits. Makes about 18.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Weekend Report

As usual, my 3-day weekend flew by way too fast. Suddenly it is 10 o'clock on Sunday (oops - Monday) night, and tomorrow is another work day. How did that happen?

I had a lot of home time this weekend, which I loved. Did a lot of sewing, and a little housework, and not enough reading. On Saturday Charles and I had a nice dinner out with Son and DIL.

What a gorgeous day it was today! I went out on an errand and noticed the gorgeous, blue sky -- decided to go for a walk later and take photos, but I forgot! I had gotten so engrossed in the quilt I'm trying to create. OK, and also engrossed in Dr. Phil and Oprah. I'll admit it.

made a few toys; the top left toy is being donated to Craft Hope for Haiti to benefit Doctors Without Borders (see my previous post)

made this one from scraps, machine quilted it, and...

...I like the back better than the front!

This quilt is so pretty, I think! But I machine quilted it and had some struggles and still need to rip out some of the ugly spots and re-do the quilting.

This is the current project that will turn into a quillow.

I'm going to make the current quilt project into a quillow, which I haven't done in ages, so I have to read the pattern carefully. I am not a good reader of instructions. I'd rather just wing it than read a bunch of little print on how to do it. Blecch! I don't think it's very complicated, though. I should be able to figure it out in no time.

If you are wondering what a quillow is, I think this link will help you. It shows a little moving picture of a quillow being folded in and unfolded, so you'll get the idea:

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Etsy Shop to Benefit Haiti

one example of many lovely hand-crafted items for sale to benefit Doctors Without Borders

Crafters are so generous! I love this! There is a new Etsy shop where crafters can list products to be sold... and anyone can shop! 100% of the money raised is being donated to Doctors Without Borders, to be used in Haiti.

Isn't that fabulous?? Click on the Craft Hope for Haiti button in my sidebar, and have fun looking and/or shopping! I might post a couple of items for sale... will see what I have on hand and what I think might sell.

Update: I decided to list this little toy at the Craft Hope for Haiti Etsy shop. It should appear on the site by tomorrow (1/19) some time. Do you think it will sell??


In the face of such an enormous tragedy, it's nice to feel like one can help in big and/or small ways.

Big ways: if you can, please donate to an appropriately-efficient organization. As a United Methodist I am proud to tell you that UMCOR (United Methodist Committee on Relief) received an A+ rating from a watchdog group that rated the groups working in Haiti. I'm partial to sending donations through UMCOR!

Red Cross, Doctors Without Borders, Feed My Starving Children, and many others can use the money, too. Feed My Starving Children can produce a nutritious meal for 17 cents! Apparently their building in Haiti is one of very few to survive. So they will be able to get right to work, especially with more donations.

In addition to money, UMCOR is asking for Health Kits which are easy and fun to assemble. Information can be found at this link:

Some people are wondering "where is God?" in this disaster. I see God everywhere: in the tears of the people around the world, in the compassion and energy and hands-on help of the people who were able to get there quickly, in the Haitian people themselves who help and comfort each other and sing songs to help buoy each others' spirits, and in the joy they all feel when they are able to rescue someone alive from the rubble. I see God also in the faces of the journalists who are reporting on the horror and trying to remain professional amidst chaos. You can see them struggling with their empathy for the people's suffering. They are doing a service by communicating the needs to us.

I offer prayers for continued help to arrive quickly and efficiently, and for peace to prevail as the enormous re-building begins. God bless the people of Haiti.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Photo Hunt: Jiggly

Check out other photos at Photo Hunt

Friday, January 15, 2010

Friday Fave Five

It's Friday already, which means time to post my Friday Five. Go here to read other posts of the same topic.

1) I appreciate all my blog readers and the interesting comments they leave for me. Thanks! I've had lots of fun "traffic" this week.

2) I'm doing well on my Be Healthy campaign. I went to the Y several times this week, and I'm eating better. Already I feel so much better! Keep it up, Me!

3) I started knitting a scarf this week. I ripped it all out because of a major error. I started over, using a different pattern, and I'm having much better luck. It's fun to knit again!

4) I'm so looking forward to this weekend: I have few obligations, and an extra day off. Wheee!

5) I told the cat to go upstairs to visit "Grandpa," and he went! I think I've taught him (the cat) to understand English!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Earth Stood Hard as Iron

In the bleak midwinter,
frosty wind made moan;
earth stood hard as iron,
water like a stone

It has been a very snowy winter so far, and COLD. I have been meaning to take pictures of the snow in our yard. I just keep forgetting, or thinking of it like now, when it's late and too dark outside. So I'm showing you these pics which my sister-in-law took at their farm in southern Minnesota. They've had even more snow than we have! One thing I love about Minnesota... it's not a bleak midwinter! We get these beautiful, sunny days in the winter time! I've read other bloggers complaining about the weeks of cloudy days. I love that we don't usually have that problem here. The sunshine saves my sanity!

Our mailbox is almost buried. The snow is so deep that the city came by and scraped off the top couple of feet of snow so that we can hope to see the traffic. When it gets to be too high, it causes hazardous driving conditions (can't see cars coming because of tall snow piles).

Every time the city does a follow-up cleaning job, more snow falls or gets dumped near our mailbox or driveway, so we have to do more clean-up. The good news is, with his new shovel, Charles has been keeping our driveway cleaner than it has been for years! It looks great.

I'm writing about the snow today, because a couple of young ladies are on my mind: (1) a certain Liz Lady is visiting from California and is a little bit in shock about the wintery state she's visiting; and (2) a friend has an exchange student from India living at her house. What on earth does SHE think about this frozen tundra??

Actually, it is starting to warm up. It's inching up into the 30's F and is expected to get above freezing this weekend. WhooHoo! A heat wave!! Minnesotans will be dancing in the streets!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


photo by Electric Spam

Advice from de-cluttering experts:

•Handle every piece of paper that comes into your house only once.
•Don't bring anything home that you don't have a place and purpose for.
•For every new possession that enters your house, one must leave.

There is one room in my house that looks like a bomb went off. I've been trying to get it cleaned up for years. When company comes, we just shut (and lock) the door to that room. So there it sits. It's such a mess that even thinking about starting to clean it makes me feel overwhelmed and helpless.

Sometimes the things I need to and even want to do are the hardest to face. I am searching for the will to just get started! Do you have a Room of Shame where you live?

Monday, January 11, 2010

Unresolved Anger

A young woman has had a tough life. I know nothing about her details or circumstances. I only know that she is one angry person. You know the type: loud and opinionated, interrupts and shouts down anyone who tries to tell her a fact, an opinion, or has a question. The world is out to get her. She knows better than everyone on earth.

There is absolutely NO way to have a conversation with this young woman. She is just filled with anger. But she doesn’t know that she’s angry. She thinks she keeps running into bimbos who have terrible ideas. Everyone she meets is wrong. If only she could set the world straight. Everyone is out of step, except her.

Now picture this young woman with a two-week old baby. She dotes on the baby, sort of. One gets the feeling that she dotes in order to show off what a great mom she is. She loudly brags about all the bad advice the doctors in the hospital gave her and how she isn’t doing what they said, because she knows better.

I’m sad, because her anger issues are going to spread and consume the life of this sweet baby. I’m sad that the baby has no chance in hell to become anything but another angry person. Perhaps another angry parent, some day.

How is it possible to help someone like this angry, young woman? She does not accept help and is far from gracious about anything that may appear to be advice.

I’m depressed when I think about the life that baby has to look forward to. I stop at a convenience store to buy some potato chips to help “drown” my sorrow.

I know. I have a problem with mood eating. That’s another topic for another day.

Be well, little baby. Grow up strong and happy. May you be blessed with loving and caring extended family members who can help you beyond the anger in which you are immersed. If I ever see you again, I will do my best to give you a happy day. And I will pray for you. Will that be enough?

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Body, Soul and Mind

Photo taken at Science Museum of Minnesota in that long-ago time when there was no snow on the ground. Remember that season?

Today was a full day.. went to church to feed my soul (worshiping with a great community) and my tummy (pancakes after church). Went to the Y to repair my body (treadmill).

Came home and did a bunch of sewing, though I don't have much to show for it.. a lot of unfinished things. Sewing rejuvenates my mind and stirs my creativity.

Charles made a pot roast for dinner! Yummmmm. That feeds all my parts: body, mind, soul and heart.

And now I am going to sit down and do some reading (more mind work).

After today I should be in good shape!

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Photo Hunt: Bulky

Here's another regular post (carnival) that I might try to do: Photo Hunt. Each Saturday a word is given as the theme. We are to post a photo that fits that theme.

I hope Hubby doesn't hate that I chose this one to post for the world to see. (If he posted a similar one of me I would definitely hate it, but he's not as touchy about some things.)

Bulky refers to our cat. He's a Big Guy! Last time we weighed him he was about 15 lbs. He wants to be with us at every.possible.moment which includes waking and sleeping moments. He sleeps at our feet, more or less, and because he's so Bulky, he pretty much has us trapped in certain positions. At least it's a mutual keep-each-other-warm arrangement.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Friday Five

This idea comes from Living to Tell the Story. I have done Friday Fives before, but unofficially. I decided I should at least link to the person who came up with this idea. Go to her blog, and you'll be able to see lots of other folks' Friday Five Favorites.

So here are my five favorite things from this last week:

1. A student talked to me about my upcoming retirement in June and said, "I'm going to miss you!" This meant a lot to me, because I have a special spot for this student in my little ol' heart, and I am so glad she feels some sort of connection with me. I'm going to miss her, too.

2. It has been brutally cold, but today a few students and I went outside for a walk. We warmed up pleasantly just from walking, and it was such a beautiful, sunny day. We crunched along on the ice and snow and got some brisk, fresh air. I loved it. At the end of our little walks we do a cheer like a football team. We put our hands together and on the count of three we throw our hands in the air and say "I'm healthy!"

3. I made a firm decision about whether or not to do a couple of things this summer.. their dates were conflicting, but I made a decision about how to fix that. I feel good about that decision.

4. On Monday I started going to the Y after work. I even signed up for a Get Fit class at the Y. It's a small group that will be working on both nutrition issues and exercise routines, with the help of a personal trainer. I went to the Y three times this week, plus took the little walk that I mentioned in #2 above. I'm excited that I finally committed to doing something good for my health.

5. Tonight after work the house just felt so cold; I couldn't warm up! Charles and I decided to order some take-out, light a fire in the fireplace, and watch a movie. We are watching "The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency" film series that was made for HBO (Season 1). What a blast! They are so well done! I have read almost all the books, but didn't even know there were movies until I saw the series at Target. I bought them at halfprice right after Christmas. Anyway, tonight was so cozy and warm and fun. After the movie I stayed in my warm spot and read some of my book. A very pleasant and cozy Friday night. Perfect!

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Post-Holiday Doldrums

I hate the time of year when Christmas lights get turned off. The excitement is over, the parties are done, and people go back to work. It's cold, dark, and nights are long.

Our tree is down (though not completely tucked into its box yet) and decorations are all ready to be put away (just need to find a box as I consolidated, and my old system won't work).

They say this is when Christmas really begins... we begin to put to work what we learned and celebrated at Christmas: peace and love and kindness and generosity and caring for each other. So I'm not totally bereft of hope.

I started going to the Y after work this week. I went two days out of two. Today was Day 3, and I knew I wouldn't make it because of our previously-made plans. But I'll be back there tomorrow. I'm hoping to beat some of my "creeping up to high" levels that they check in my blood. I don't want to get put on more meds; I just want to get healthier through physical exercise and eating better. Wish me luck!

If I can achieve those goals, I will be a happy camper. And maybe it'll help shake the winter doldrums.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Barbed Wire Quilt

I worked hard on this quilt. The border required 364 pieces! I love this border pattern. But it's too pretty for this funky quilt middle. The middle is made of leftovers, and the strips were cut several years ago when I wasn't as good at cutting. Man, were they off! I had to patch and mend in order to get the middle and the border to work together.

It was a chore.

Then I took this picture and decided the border looks like a barbed wire fence. Not the result I was looking for.

Maybe I'll like it better once I get it quilted.


Things I'm thankful for:
1. a warm house (it's currently 6 below zero, F)
2. beautiful blue skies
3. my camera and the ability to take nice pictures
4. friends
5. wishes, dreams

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Vacation Sewing

I didn't get to do much sewing during the first half of my break, as I was busy getting the house ready and food made for Christmas. But once my holidays and my visits were over, I parked myself in front of the sewing machine and got several things done.

This year I am determined to do a lot more of my own quilting. The up side is that I will get to see my quilt tops reach the totally completed stage, and I LOVE that. They come alive when they turn into completed quilts. The down side is that I really don't overly enjoy machine quilting, so it'll be a chore that I need to convince myself to do.

Here are the sewing projects I completed during my break - they are my first officially done projects for 2010!

January Lotto blocks for Sunshine(Last time I got my car serviced they gave me that flower.)

I'm back to making toys!

This quilt top was result of a challenge to which a few online friends responded. We were challenged to make wonky blocks.. don't worry about rules, measuring, mistakes, etc.. and to use possibly odd combinations of fabric, and see what happens. This was mine. Not sure that I totally love it, but now that it's quilted it's much nicer. At least it's warm! Cat and I snuggled under it yesterday.

will send this one to Wrap Them in Love (about 40" x 50")

also for Wrap Them in Love (40" x 64")

This pic is just to show you a close-up of the monster fabric.