Sunday, February 28, 2010

Another Weekend Gone

The weekend is rushing toward its end. As usual, I have not accomplished all that I would like to get done in a weekend.

Saturday morning I attended a retreat of our church leaders. Now that I'm UMW Prez I am a church leader again. I actually like these meetings and missed being involved in them when I was not in a leadership position.

Saturday night I decided that Charles and I needed to go on a date. We headed out to a western suburb to have dinner and see a movie. Our restaurant of choice was way too busy, so we ended up at a fast-food style Chinese place which was yummy and not crowded. After a thrilling stop at Home Depot (I opened up a folding step stool to sit on and watch people while Charles picked out bolts), we headed to the movie, "Blind Side." It has been out for a while, so we had to go out of our usual neighborhood to find it still in a theater.

I loved it! Even though it is about a football player, I loved the story. It's the kind of "good deed" I have dreamed about doing. For a while we had decided we would adopt a teenager. Then we decided not to. I love and totally believe the mom's sentiment that her new son helped her much more than she helped him.

Sunday: church. It was a friendly and loving atmostphere today. We have really grown and changed as a congregation in the last few years. It is a much more vibrant place, and we are doing things. I love that.

Today I've been knitting, sewing, and wishing I had more time to do more of those. Also I need to go over some of my UMW paperwork, make some phone calls (my least-liked chore of all), and I wish I had time to sit down and read. AND Charles and I will watch "Amazing Race" together. It's our one "together TV show."

Before you know it, the alarm clock will be blasting, and we'll be rolling out of bed to face another week of work. Sometimes a blessing (a job, ability to pay bills, a focus and structure to my week) can be a nemesis (takes so much time and energy, it's hard to do the other stuff I love). I guess that's not news to most of my readers.

This week may you enjoy your nemesis!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Photo Hunt: Daily

I see this view daily as I approach my place of work. The steam (not smoke) is coming from a heat-generating plant in downtown Saint Paul. My friend and I affectionately call it The Cloud Factory.

Go here to see other photos of "daily."

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Lighten Up!

OK, enough with the deep topics. It's only typical for me to discuss things like religion and prayer in writing. If you know me in person, you know that I'm silly and goofy most of the time, and I feel squirmy and uncomfortable if I have to talk openly about deep stuff.

So it's time to lighten up my bloggy-land. Here goes:

What do you do if an elephant charges you?
Give him the money, quick!

How did Elton John get the elephant to play a duet with him?
He tickled her ivories.

Why did the elephant forget?
She didn't renew her remembership.

What did the tailor say after his client fired him?
Suit yourself.

Why did the tailor go to the farm?
So he could sew some oats.

What do farmers plant in their sofas?
Couch potatoes.

When are farmers mean?
When they pull the ears off corn.

Why did the coffee shop barista love her job?
Because there were so many perks.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Thoughts on Prayer

Wow, I am glad I asked, in a post a couple of days ago, about how people feel about being prayed for. Thank you so much for your thoughtful responses. I never would have come up with some of that.

I would like to explain what I mean when I might say to someone that I will pray for her. First of all, I don't say this very often and don't say it lightly. One reason is that I know it is easily misconstrued. The person might feel insulted, as one of my readers pointed out, thinking that I feel she is in need of help or intervention.

I never mean that when I want to pray for someone. Almost always when I pray for someone, it is because they are hurting in some way. As a believer in God, I wish for that person to feel God's comfort and love... so that she has a glimmer of hope and can work through whatever it is that hurts. This could be a difficult relationship, job, illness, anger, or anything.

By no means do I ever mean to say "I will pray for you because you are such a loser, and you need to turn your heart to Jesus." No way. I am not a proselytizer.

I believe that all world religions are just offshoots of the same goal: to live humbly, be a source of help and happiness to those you meet, and to actively engage in being kind and good. Therefore I do not believe that a person must be a Christian in order to be happy and well rounded. One can be a wonderful person as a Muslim, Jew, Christian, Buddhist, etc. All are trying to live as the God they believe in would wish.

I do think that a spiritual life is an important part of being whole. At least I have found this to be true in my life. So I feel sad that many people have been turned off by the mistakes religions have made (and they are numerous). God in my life has served as a compass, helping me keep in the right direction when I feel in a fog and unsure of my purpose. God has warmed my heart, and I have felt joy through my spiritual quest.

Do those of you who don't believe in God have some sort of compass? What is it? Is it a belief in the strength of the human spirit? A belief in the goodness of humanity? Or a belief that "we are what we are and there is nothing else?" I am curious.

I want also to explain that when I say "I will pray for you," I mean more than "I will think happy thoughts." Even if a person does not believe in God or believe in prayer, I will pray that they somehow feel the presence and support of God -- this could be manifested in the love of friends and family, strangers stepping in when completely unexpected but because the help is necessary, comfort from medical personnel, a kind person willing to sit and hold your hand and quietly be there for support. In my mind, this is all much more than just wishing happy thoughts for a person.

Finally, I will confess that prayer has been a hard thing for me to do. I usually pray "on the fly" - that is, appreciating a beautiful oneness with nature - I feel a connection to it in a special way, and a thankfulness.. not expressed in words such as "I thank you for....lalala" but just a feeling. And even when I tell a person "I will pray for you" I usually don't sit down, fold my hands, bow my head, and think exact thoughts. As part of my normal moving around and thinking happy thoughts for the person, I might also think "may she feel God's presence" and that is what my prayer amounts to.

I liked Jill's suggestion to re-word my statement "I will pray for you." I could say "would it help you to know I would like to pray for you?" Something like that. But now we're back to my beginning confession, that I don't do this lightly nor do I do it often. I usually would feel kind of awkward even bringing it up. However, I am thinking that maybe I should be more honest with my beliefs and my quest.. so I did recently say I would pray for someone, and then was prompted to ask my question of how does this sit with people who don't believe in it?

Thanks again for your thoughtful responses. I'm still a work in progress and it is interesting to hear what others think and believe.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Knitters on a Mission

Our church is sending a mission team for a week of work at Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota. We'll go in June. Tonight we had our first organizational meeting.

As we went around the circle introducing ourselves, we discovered three knitters, and one who needs a little support getting started. I overheard one knitter offering to help the novice.

Can you picture it? After our work day on the reservation, at least four of us will be sitting around knitting! It adds another fun dimension to the experience!

I found the above photo at EcoWomen: Protectors of the Planet. They search for organic yarn or recycled yarn. I am going to look further into that information. Apparently this photo is of a particular type of recycled yarn... and it's so beautiful! Our knitting will brighten up the rez!

Monday, February 22, 2010


1. No family is perfect. Every family struggles either publicly or privately with one or more of the following:
relationships, disabilities, mental health issues, addictions, difficult behaviors, illnesses, finances, extended family issues, and everyday disagreements. Despite all of that, family is still the best invention there is. It’s where one should feel safe, secure, loved, supported, valued, challenged, and cherished.

2. I struggle with my desire to “save the world” yet not having the skills, energy, finances, or temperament to do so. Last night I dreamed that I “saved” a baby whose mother was too young and too cognitively disabled to care for the baby, who was a preemie. The mother kept putting the baby in a box and putting the box on the back of a shelf. This was another dream borne of my desire to save the world.

3. How does one who does not believe in prayer feel about being told “I will pray for you”?

4. In reading a book review recently, I came across this bit of info: Europeans are well-taught in the basics of religion. Their public education includes the basics of the main world religions. Therefore they are well versed in religious thought. But they do not attend church/temple. Americans don’t know much about religion.. don’t get an education in the basics of the world religions. Yet they are fervent and frequent church-attenders. Interesting, isn’t it? It makes me wonder how these different approaches will evolve and what it will mean for established religions.

5. I want to do some international travel, but must choose destination carefully as I will probably get only one or two opportunities for such travel. Therefore I probably will not accompany my church family when they travel to Israel next year. It’s not high enough on my list of “must-see” places.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Kept My Hands Busy

Here is evidence that I kept my hands busy this weekend:

finished knitting these two dish cloths ... am having fun getting re-acquainted with knitting lately

made two Lotto blocks for Sunshine

My quilt guild spent Saturday making back packs for kids in our county who are in foster care. I had made a couple of traditional tote bags ahead of time, then we made these more "modern" style backpacks on Saturday.. too cute! We made 114 bags! We rock! Susie and I will hand deliver the bags some time in March (to the foster care unit, not to the kids themselves).

seeing ourselves from this butt-shot view was a little disturbing

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Photo Hunt: Cuddly

This is a great-grandmother pulling double duty. Don't you think all three of them are cuddly?? I am pretty sure when and if I become a great-grandmother, I will not be able to pull this off as lithely as she.

Go here to see other pictures of "cuddly."

Friday, February 19, 2010

Standing Up for Rights

Politics in Minnesota: I am really incensed!

Good news: A bill to extend health coverage for the poorest residents of Minnesota passed by a huge margin in BOTH the House and the Senate! 125 to 9 in the House, 47 to 16 in the Senate. This means most of Minnesota's legislators (both parties) knew the proper thing to do.

Bad news: Gov. Pawlenty is going to veto it!!!!!

Does he have any ethical integrity??? I am flaming mad. Today I called my legislator and my senator and urged them to vote to override a veto.

If you live in Minnesota, can you please take a minute or two to stand up for the rights of our poorest residents? Can you call or e-mail your legislator and senator and demand that they vote to override the veto? Please??

This needs to be done soon.

If you are not incensed yet, read what the Human Services Commissioner (a crony of Pawlenty's) said about cuts to the poor: the state's poorest residents need to rely on "ingenuity" after cash aid ends. OMG. I am getting sick.

Here is where you can find out who your legislators are:

Click on "find out who represents you". It's that easy. Your fellow citizens will thank you.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Is This Avatar or Top Gun?

I went to see the movie, "Avatar." I was alone in the middle of the day. I walked into the theater and was the only person there! I thought it would be so cool if I had the entire theater to myself and had a private viewing of the movie. After a while another ten or 12 people did join me, so I had to share.

Have you seen "Avatar?" What did you think? I loved the 3-D effect! I got used to the glasses right away and forgot I had them on. The 3-D-ishness was very cool!

I was not so impressed with the story line. It was just a glorified cowboys and Indians show, with a mix of Top Gun (an awful lot of flying fight scenes!) and even Dances With Wolves (white man from hostile society befriends and becomes one with an indigenous group who are being pushed aside).

I wish someone would come up with a novel approach some day. A new story line... a whole new concept. What if we earthlings began to explore the universe and decided to be nice for once? What if we found a planet that is inhabited and decided to come peacefully, learn all about the new culture and the new environment and learn how to get along with both?

Not enough drama in that story line? I think a good screenwriter could make it so. After all, there is plenty of drama in real life, everyday situations. When encountering a new society and new world, there would be a LOT going on, intentionally and unintentionally. A good writer can talk about the mundane and move us to tears.

I'm waiting for the thinking-woman's version of "Avatar." Maybe it will take a woman to write such a script.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Taking Care of Each Other

"Do I look presidential?"

Warning: I'm going to talk about politics. I'm not a political analyst or expert. I have opinions, though, and my core values that drive my opinions and my voting habits. So here goes.

Our current Governor, Mr. Tim Pawlenty, upon taking office too many years ago, promised he would not raise taxes. To that end, Minnesota has suffered greatly. Now he has proposed a budget that cuts social services, cuts health care for the poor, and cuts jobs. Oh, and also cuts taxes for businesses and for rich people.

Am I the only person who thinks this is upside down?? Whatever happened to caring about each other? Who says it's OK to cut services to people who are already down and out and have no other option? I'm thinking here of people I actually know... my students, for example... who rely on tax-supported health care and sometimes cash assistance or food stamps to keep them alive. I've got to think that Mr. P just has never met any of these folks and doesn't have an inkling of what their lives may be like. (I've tried to enlighten him with occasional letters, but apparently he doesn't read them. Or he just puts my name on his list of un-American subversives.)

Minnesota used to be a state known for its great education, social services, taking good care of its people AND high employment rate. I know, times have changed, but we have seemingly decided that it's OK to make the poor and helpless bear the brunt of trimming our expenditures.

People who want to run for president will make stupid promises like "I will never raise your taxes" so that when they run for president they can brag that they never raised taxes. Never mind that it made a formerly great state sink down to a mediocre one.

People whine about taxes, but come on, folks... if everyone from middle and upper income brackets paid a little more, like $100 per year, most of us wouldn't even notice the pennies it would mean from each paycheck. But we would notice a happier, healthier state with fewer people losing their shirts and becoming homeless.

I want to live in a state that cares about people. I thought I lived in one, but it seems to be turning mean, and I don't like it one bit.

When Mr. P tries to run for president, please remember my warning: you'll think he's charming, but he doesn't like people who aren't rich. Beware of how you vote.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Knitting: the Portable Craft

I used to knit now and then. I like knitting; I am just not very good at it. I can only do straight objects like a scarf or a baby blanket. At least so far.

Since taking up quilting, I have been envious of knitters whose projects are so easily portable. They're great for working on at meetings, kids' soccer games, waiting in line at the doctor's office, and while watching the Olympics.

This is the scarf that I had messed up; I had to stop until Daughter could help me get back on track. She did that, so I was back in business and finished the scarf Saturday night while watching TV. (Red for Valentine's Day.)

I'm jazzed about knitting now and am going to work on more knitting projects. They're easy to carry around and work on while I watch whatever catches my fancy in the Olympics. Maybe I'll even challenge myself to branch out to something other than just a rectangle!

What do you like to do while watching the Olympics?

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Photo Hunt: Broken

After the Storm

Go here to see other photos depicting "broken."

Thursday, February 11, 2010

I Promised

Our annual quilt show is up, and I promised some pictures. I hope I'm not posting too many; I don't want to spoil any viewer's joy of seeing the quilts for the first time in person. So... here for your viewing pleasure are a few of the quilts beautifying the Dakota County Historical Society display room for the next month.

this photo was taken on set-up day

some of the quilts by our Featured Quilter

cute cake slices/pin cushions in the store; I bought one for myself, and it makes me hungry for chocolate - just what I need!

(this one is by me)

(this one is also by me)

For more information about the quilt show place, dates, and times, go here.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

How Much Have You Seen?

view from our front door, looking across to the neighbor's house which we can barely see

Earlier this season I posted a photo of snow on our deck. I inserted a 12-inch ruler, and it was almost completely immersed in snow. My friend, T, from Texas, said that was more snow than she has seen in her whole life. It got me to thinking about how much snow I have seen.

I lived my first 2&1/2 years in Panama, so that snow total is easy: zero. But from age 2&1/2 to now, age 57, I have lived in Minnesota. Many of those years were extremely snowy. I think it was 1968, when we had an exchange student from Australia at my high school, we had lots of heavy snowstorms that year, and snow piles in our yard were taller than I am. (I'm 5'8".) We had ten snow days from school that year! TEN! That is a LOT! I actually had forgotten that, but when our exchange student came back for a visit several years later, she told me it had been ten snow days (the first and last year she ever experienced snow days).

So I did some figuring... Minnesota gets an average of 50 inches of snow per year (more or less, depending on how far north or south one lives). I have experienced 55 years of Minnesota snowfalls. If every year was average, that means I've seen 2750 inches of snow or 229 feet. That doesn't seem like nearly enough! That's not even a quarter mile! I truly expected the number to be higher than that.

Here's what our yard looks like so far this year (with more snow predicted for tomorrow). The piles are so high, we are wondering where to put any more snow. When it gets this high, it's hard to lift the shovel high enough to throw the next shovelful up there.

the same view at a different time of year

See our mailbox? It's almost buried! It actually is sort of nice, because when one inserts the key and opens it, the door flops all the way down. With the snow there, it holds the door open at a good angle and doesn't cause it to flop so far. (I stuck today's mail in the snow so I could step back and take the photo.)

Ah, the joys of Minnesota snow! And look at the gorgeous day... I took these pictures today. The sun is out, the sky is a gorgeous blue, and the snow is beautiful. It even felt a little mild today. I didn't zip up my jacket.

Today I'm not complaining. I do love Minnesota and winter!

I'm thankful for:
1) beautiful sun, blue sky, and snow!
2) a garage in which to park my car
3) warm socks
4) soup on a cold day; it warms me from the inside out
5) having my knitting fixed; I can stay inside by the fireplace and knit happily

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Simple Memoir

photo by me at Como Zoo, 2009

A few of my bloggy friends are talking about this idea... write your autobiography (memoir) in six words. Can you do it?

My first attempt was: Silly, attempting growth, becoming a butterfly.

I was going to dream up another, but for now I think that describes how I'm feeling about my life's journey. So far.

What about you? Can you sum up your life in six words?

Monday, February 08, 2010

Quilts and Snow - Lots of Each!

Uffda! Will it ever stop snowing?? It's beautiful, but give-us-a-break! The driving is horrible. One lovely bonus is that Dear Daughter decided to stay at our place tonight, as it is a shorter drive here from her job than to her place. Fun!! I love having her around for the evening. (We watched "The Bachelor" together. I hate to admit it, but I do watch that extremely stupid show.) Newsflash! She fixed my messed-up knitting! Hooray! I'm back in business!

Meanwhile, I've had a few quilts come across my lap and have finished a couple, too. I had a nice chunk of sewing time on Sunday. I love to sew while watching football on TV. I cheered for the Saints! Great game! Was disappointed in the ads and didn't like the degrading way women were treated in so many of them. Why are we letting things slip back to what we fought against in the past??

Anyway, on Saturday we did set-up for our annual quilt show. We have a little store along with our show, and I bought these three pieces at the store, to give to Sunshine. The first one was $10 and the last two were $8 each.

I have lots of pictures of the quilt show, but it's already past my bedtime, so I'll have to share those on another day.

Tomorrow -- another snowy day, another hard-earned dollar!

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Photo Hunt: Average

An average day at Lake Superior is usually way above my typical "average" day. Go here to see other photos of the concept "average."

Friday, February 05, 2010

Through the Kitchen Window

Fresh snow fell yesterday and during the night. It was so beautiful this morning! This is the view through our kitchen window. I took the picture before heading off to work.

After that short moment enjoying the beauty of nature, my day was a whirlwind of activity. Busy, busy, busy, during and after work.

The next time I was able to sit down and take a breath was 7:20 P.M. when I finally got to check my e-mail and found my sister on FB for a fun, impromptu, live chat.

Now it's bedtime. So it goes.

At least I took the few moments of time to enjoy the gorgeous view of our back yard. Later while I was rushing about, someone asked me how the roads were. I was so bent on getting all my things done that I couldn't even remember! Now that is sad. This weekend I hope my days slow down enough so that I notice where I am and what I'm doing and how beautiful it is in that moment. May you enjoy the same.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Where Does Time Go?

Prague Astronomical Clock, photo by Wolfgang Staudt

Time. It moves way too quickly. Each day is too short, especially the hours from after work until I have to go to bed to prepare for the next work day.

The evening fills up with errands after work, reading the day's mail and email and facebook and blogs, making and eating dinner, doing dishes if we're motivated (or the next day we get to do a double load), perhaps an evening meeting at church, exercise session at the Y, check-in with hubby on how our days went, read a few more emails, look up something on Google, do a load of laundry, prepare lunch for the next day, make sure I pack clean shirt and socks for the next day's visit to the Y. Before I know it, I haven't finished half these things, and it's time for bed.

If I'm lucky, an evening will include some time to sit down and read, or some time to work on a quilt top. Often if I squeeze these in, I'm stealing from my sleep time.

And this is life without any children left at home. How did we used to fit in all the kid-related stuff?

I miss having sewing time. It seems odd that I used to do so much more sewing than I've managed to do in the last few months. How did I do that??

Time is mysterious. I'm eager to see if its properties change for me after I retire. I'll be sure to let you know! How do you manage your time so you can fit in the things you love (reading, quilting, or whatever it may be)?

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Wall Hanging

This is the wall hanging I finished this week. It is made from leftovers from this quilt:

The quilt went to a veteran somewhere in New England. The wall hanging is headed out there, too, to hang on the wall in a vet's home, named for the son of a quilter friend. He died in Afghanistan. In fact, all the quilts I make for this group are in memory of Evan, the fallen soldier/beloved son.

The quilt above was made for a challenge, and a bunch of vets got to vote. I tied for 3rd place and got a cool prize! Another challenge is coming in May. I need to get started making that one soon.