Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Spring Break: Day Four

I stayed home most of the day on Tuesday and sewed. I got this quilt top assembled. It is a Liberated Log Cabin top. It needs to be completed by late May; I feel good about getting this much done, with plenty of time to work on getting it quilted. I photographed it outside, but it was very windy, and I was afraid the top would snag on the twigs while it jounced around in the breeze. So here's the "still life" view from inside.

I will have to figure out who is going to quilt this and when. It could be me, although I'm not entirely comfortable quilting one this big. Maybe I should challenge myself to do it and see how it goes.

These blocks were done a long time ago and just needed to be put together. I like how they look together! I think I am going to make this one into a quillow.

I must confess that I did not clean the refrigerator, but I did clean the kitchen, and I made a new recipe for dinner -- Mexican chicken -- which was quite tasty.

Daughter and I went shopping Tuesday night, and she got a couple of cute dresses. I just looked like a whale and felt very uninspired by everything I tried on. Waah! It's not fun clothes-shopping when all the cute stuff is 87 sizes too small.

After shopping we watched "Miss Congeniality" together (and both worked on knitting while watching). I know it's a tad old, but I had never seen it. Sandra Bullock sure is a cutie. I kinda like her as her bumbling self better than as a serious, high-society self like she played in "Blind Side." I don't know. Do you think that's just because I'm used to her in that role? Maybe she was type-cast too many times, and I'm not letting her stretch her wings.

On to Wednesday... the week is going too fast, as usual. They say it'll get up to 79 deg F! Yikes. That is almost HOT!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Spring Break: Days Two and Three

We are enjoying GORGEOUS spring weather! What a treat... often my spring break is cold and snowy. One year I even got iced-in when I went to visit my mom.

This time I went to visit my mom again, and it was so beautiful out, I walked to town and back with no jacket! Did some shopping and just enjoyed the sights in the town. Mom, at age 89, wasn't interested in walking, carrying shopping bags, and doing the last part of the hike up a steep hill. She stayed home and read the paper.

Spring has sprung!

a random scene in Minneapolis

"Maybe I can hide behind this tree."

I shopped at Ben Franklin and used this shopping basket. It's an antique, probably about my age! I just love it!

Here is the stack of old baskets. Aren't they just quaint and beautiful? Or am I weird to think so?

Can you believe this orange tux and orange shoes? I can just imagine my son renting this outfit. He could pull it off.

-- a beautiful, old sewing machine

my mom, my sister, my great-niece, et moi

I drove home with this very brisk wind blowing me sideways.

Monday evening I drove back home, and took the "scenic route" (i.e., the long way). I wanted to stop in a quilt shop I've never visited. It's not near my home, and I rarely get out in that direction. I got close but couldn't quite find it... called them to get directions, and they had closed six minutes before I called. Dang! What lousy timing!

I came home and Dear Daughter was here eating pizza with Charles. It is fun to have her around! We watched "Dancing With the Stars" together.

Tomorrow I hope to spend the day SEWING, finally. I have enough projects to keep me busy for three solid months.

I really should clean the refrigerator first..... uffda. Doesn't sewing sound like loads more fun??

Monday, March 29, 2010

My Q Book

For my A-Z reading challenge, I did a search for a Q book in the public library's online catalog. I found this one: Quiet Please: Dispatches from a Public Librarian by Scott Douglas.

I really enjoyed it! I never would have stumbled across it had I not needed a Q book for this challenge. It's entertaining, refreshing, interesting, and humorous. There is a lot of information on what it's like to have a job! That wasn't his goal in writing the book, but it was an extra bonus that I wish I could share with our students. We talk a lot about job skills and what it takes to keep a job. I wish they could all read this book, too. (Most of them would not consider reading a 300-page book.)

Here's an example of his humor -- in the end of the book he has a fairly long acknowledgment section. He lists some of the usual stuff, thanking various people, and also this:
The following bands/musicians (listed in alphabetical order) provided the white noise to my writing: ....
I hereby acknowledge the following locations, which offered me excellent places to write this book
(and here he inserts one of his many humorous footnotes) - footnote: And by excellent I mean they had chairs, lighting, and tables. I in no way mean that they were actually nice places, though some were.
Most locations are libraries, with some hotels and even a couple of plane rides in which he states where he did his writing (above the Atlantic).

There's more, but if interested, you should read the book and enjoy the chuckles yourself.

Now I'm working on a D book. Since it's Spring Break, maybe I'll even manage to finish it!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Spring Break: Day One

Our son's college buddy is walking 2,000 miles -- from Minneapolis to Miami! He started his trip today. It's a fundraiser and awareness booster for Haiti. We joined in for the first couple of miles of his walk. If you are so inclined, please send him your good thoughts or prayers for a safe and successful journey!

hands-on blessing

he departs

a crowd of friends accompanies him for the first miles

Our evening event was a wedding (my co-worker's). It was fun to see my co-workers all dressed up and in a party atmosphere instead of work... a nice way to kick-off Spring Break.

"I'm with her."

the cutest dancers

Wow, I sure am tired after a day that was more fun than it was strenuous. What's up with that??

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Photo Hunt: Fresh

Fresh after a rain

Check out other Fresh photos here.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Dish Cloths, Again

Yep, I'm still making dish cloths. I think I have about 10 made (once I finish this green one). I have given away four. And I have yarn for another six or so. That's a lot of dish cloths in a relatively short time! I'm getting ready to move on to other projects. I hope the other dish cloth volunteers are keeping those knitting needles humming. I'm hoping we can take 50 dish cloths to Rosebud this June.

If you are a regular reader you know that I occasionally get riled up about some political issue and rant about it here at my blog. Then I quiet down again and talk about more interesting things such as quilting and knitting.

I am humbled by your comments, especially Andi who said she is a conservative reader who just skips my blog when I talk about politics. I admire that she comes back to check it out instead of just giving up on me, an obvious liberal, since we disagree on the issues. I am often not that magnanimous about reading blogs when I disagree with them. Thanks for staying on as a reader, Andi!

Really, politics kind of drives me nuts, and these days I often turn off the radio or TV when they go into detailed stories about it. It's just too depressing and causes me to feel discouraged and apathetic, which I never used to feel. I want the people with some brain power to work together and fix things. I'm so sick of the polarization and the game-playing. I think when I rant, I kind of play into the polarizing thing.

So I want to try to contain my rants. Thanks for continuing to read, even if you disagree with me.

Quilting and knitting are so much more interesting and fun. Politics doesn't hold a candle to them. I am currently on Spring Break! Yay! My first evening of the break... and I hope to spend LOTS of time finishing up some quilty projects. Stay tuned, and you might get to see the photos.

Happy Spring! Achoo!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Oh, For Crying Out Loud!!

Which one looks vitriolic? -- photo from photobucket dot com

"Members of Congress Threatened.
Democratic lawmakers have received death threats and been the victims of vandalism because of their votes in favor of the health-care bill, lawmakers and law enforcement officials said Wednesday, as the Congressional debate over the issue headed toward a bitter and divisive conclusion."

--from Sojourners Magazine Daily Digest

I'm old enough to remember seeing the civil rights movement happening in our living rooms as we watched on TV. (I lived in a small town in a northern state, geographically removed from what was really happening, so I watched it on TV.) The hate-in-action was atrocious. Remember those faces of white people tensed with hatred, slinging their dagger-eyes on non-white children trying to go to school? We're seeing it again! Recently a mob of idiots heckled and spit upon respected legislators and civil rights leaders. I saw it on TV. They had to have police escorts to move around inside the capitol.

Why???? I don't understand it! It's making me crazy!!!!

Is this a country of fools? People have actually said "health care (or health insurance) is not a right." What are they thinking?? Who is it supposed to be for? Only rich, white, land-owners? (Probably male, too.) Wake up, people. That kind of thinking died a LONG time ago!!!!!

I read another blurb from Sojourners which really got me thinking. In Switzerland they had a health care crisis similar to ours. Costs were rising astronomically. Bankruptcies were on the rise. They became alarmed and decided to fix the problem. This was in 1994. People were polarized then, too (but was it as bad as we are??). But now, in 2010, they all love the universal system they have and wouldn't go back.

Do you know what spawned the national outrage and insistence on change? It was because as costs rose, more and more people were un-insured. They were appalled when the percentage of un-insured rose to about 5% of the population. So they fixed it!

Our current law, if it is allowed to go forward, will, in NINE years, reach the wonderful level of 5% un-insured. That's when Switzerland became appalled. That's what we aim to achieve in NINE years.

This is so wrong. I'm so tired of idiocy going on in our politics. WE NEED TO TAKE CARE OF EACH OTHER! Why is that controversial?????

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Six Band-Aids

-- some of the Church Ladies who helped pack health kits to send to Haiti. Some guys helped, too.

Two work days left 'til Spring Break! Wheeeee!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Great Weekend!

Wow.. fun weekend! The sunshine and spring-like temps are really boosting my spirits and my energy! It's great!

Friday night we ate dinner in Beirut. OK, it was "Beirut Restaurant" in West St. Paul. We dined with Charles' parents, and they suggested we try the sampler thing of appetizers galore and kabobs for dinner. It was fabulous! Everything was very delicious! My least favorite was the eggplant-something that looked like slimey oatmeal. Otherwise, everything else was super tasty. The family that owns the restaurant is from Lebanon, and the food is totally authentic. I give it 5 of 5 stars!

Saturday hubby and I ate at Outback Steakhouse. They must have had their top chef on duty. Both our steaks were ultra-fantastic, done perfectly! I'm not even a big steak fan, but mine was heavenly.

Saturday was a gorgeous, sunny day, even though the forecast had called for a rain/snow mix. What we really got was a blue sky with no clouds in sight. Lovely. Saturday also was National Quilting Day, so I celebrated by sewing all afternoon and evening. I got all the blocks done for a quilt I need to finish by the end of May. That felt good. Now I'm working on assembling it.

Sunday: another doozie. Sunny and warm. Church was fun. BR made my day by saying this to me: "your time spent at the gym is paying off." WOW! I've only lost about 5 lbs, I think. Better than nothing, I guess. I think she just thought I was looking thin because my pants were kinda baggy. Nevertheless, it felt great, and spurred me into taking a 2-mile walk today. I had let my gym visits slide a little this last week.

I did some knitting this weekend, too. More dish cloths. They are coming out of my ears. But we'll have a nice, big pile to take with us to Rosebud. Several others have volunteered to help. Hooray!

Now it's Sunday night, and I'm hungry again. Charles is about to prepare a chicken and vegie stir-fry delight. Isn't he a doll? I think I'll keep him.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Photo Hunt: Three

Three Shelves

To see other photos of "three," go here.

Friday, March 19, 2010

The Day Approacheth

photo is from adventuretravel dot info

We have had some nice, warm weather lately. It melted almost all our snow, and gave everyone Spring Fever. It was lovely to take walks outside and listen to the birdies sing.

Today it got chilly again, and we might get a rain/snow mix tomorrow. As the weather was getting warmer, I started to realize how close we are to the end of the school year. Before you know it, we'll be in April, and from then to the end of the year is the blink of an eye.

Therefore my big retirement day is going to be here soon. I'm sort of shocked, and yet getting excited, too. I hope to spend a lot of time making quilts, knitting, reading, and traveling. I'm starting to day dream about road trips I can take, and bigger traveling trips all over the world. Not that I have an endless budget for world travel, but I'm going to try to do some.

Wheee! It's exciting to see the day coming.

Here is where I want to go:
1) the small town where I grew up
2) the college from which I graduated
3) Canada
4) New England
5) The Grand Canyon
6) Europe, esp UK and Czech Republic
7) Botswana
8) Panama

Plus, I applied for a part-time job. I'll talk about that in another post. Meanwhile, day dreaming is giving me joy!

And thinking about missing my students is giving me sadness.

But mostly I feel joyful. June 11, here I cometh!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Reading Challenge, A to Z

I am having fun with the reading challenge I took on: read books whose titles start with each letter of the alphabet, A to Z.

At home I amassed a pile of "alphabet books" in a special place so that when I'm ready I can grab the next letter. Today I stopped in a bookstore and found some books for the letters I am missing. It was fun to just stumble upon some books I might not have otherwise noticed.

I asked the clerk if he knew of a good book starting with the letter Q. He couldn't think of one. Another customer overheard my question and was intrigued. He and I searched through the sale books for a while, trying to find a Q. He said he probably won't be able to get the question out of his mind until he finds a book that starts with Q! I'm going to check the on-line library book catalog and see what I can find.

I read a whole book today, since stopping in the bookstore. It was a quick read and very interesting. It was the "I" book: I Am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced. Wow, so many girls and women have such horrendous lives to endure. This little girl was brave and fought back. She is an inspiration!

Had I not taken on this challenge, I may not have stumbled upon Nujood's book. I would have missed her inspirational and amazing story.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

A Woman, A Plan, A Canal: Panama!

[Or to make that palindrome work as I have revised it: Panamowa!] I have a dream of going to Panama with my two sisters. All three of us were born there. My family lived there for nine years, but I am the baby, so I remember nothing. Isn't that disappointing? Yes! For me, very much so.

I really want to go see it with my sisters, and soak it in. My oldest sister, K, remembers it; she attended her first couple of years of school there before we moved back to the States. A couple of years ago she went there with our mom and said she felt "at home." There's a small town in Minnesota in which I will probably get the same feeling. I plan to go visit there after I retire. A couple of road trips are in the works for Little Old Me.

Anyway, I digress. This week I stumbled upon a quilter/blogger who lives in Panama! If we go to visit, she can direct us to some don't-miss sites, perhaps. Isn't that exciting?

The rest of my paychecks and any coins I find in cushions will be saved up for my future trip to Panama. I hope it really happens!

P.S. In case you weren't aware of the real palindrome, here it is:
a man, a plan, a canal: Panama
Look at it backwards, and it's the same (hence a palindrome).. a man a plan a canal panama

Monday, March 15, 2010

Week After Week

That was the week that was! (Does anyone else remember that TV show? I enjoyed it, way back when, but I barely can remember any of it now.. I still like the phrase, though.)

Busy, busy. As you could tell from my posts, I didn’t have a lot of time to write fascinating thoughts at my blog. This week will be just as bad, or worse.

I have things scheduled to do Monday. Tuesday. Wednesday. Thursday. Friday. Saturday. Sunday. A lot of it is fun stuff, but still… it takes away from my “just be at home” time.

Hubby and I finally had some “just be” time yesterday. It was so nice! We just sat in the living room and chatted about nonsense. And enjoyed comfortable silence. I worked on more knitted dish cloths. Hubby is knitting, too! He made himself a scarf, using home-made needles. And now he is working on a headband, again using home made needles, made from bamboo skewer sticks. (i.e., SMALL needles) He is very inventive when it comes to devising tools out of stuff he finds around the house.

Remember all the huge snow piles I photographed and showed you not too long ago? The month of March has been very nice and warm! Often very gray, but at least warm, with lots of rain, so the snow is almost all gone! Wow! Yesterday the temps climbed into the low 60s. Everyone was thrilled, and people were outside walking.. in shirt sleeves!! We emerged from our winter hibernation and saw each other again. I met a neighbor for the first time. They’ve only lived there – maybe 3 years? Now they have the cutest little toddler who was out exploring the world and soaking it all in. What a doll!!

Spring is so magical, and after getting dumped on this winter, we are more than ready. If I’m not posting my crazy thoughts here at Blogger, rest assured that I am outside enjoying the hints of SPRING while I run from pillar to post. Wheee!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Photo Hunt: Spiral

Go here to see other photos of "spiral."

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Lovely and Talented

The lovely and talented Mary Johnson visited my quilt guild tonight. She was there to explain Heartstrings and how it works. It was great to see Mary again, and to see people in the guild get excited about making string blocks for charities. Our current president is gung-ho on getting us involved in more charity quilting which is fine by me.

We had a really full agenda and got a lot done. Once again, as my life seems to be going these days, it's too late to spend much time jabbering, so I'll just show you some photos and then fall into bed.

I hope the world slows down its spin one of these days. I need to catch up to myself.

P.S. All the members of my guild are lovely and talented.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

A Quick Post Before Bed

It's late; I need to get to bed. Here are some photos of recent accomplishments and a family celebration.

blocks for Sunshine Lotto

Mom's birthday party

my niece with her niece and nephew.. (my great-niece and nephew)

.. and another great-niece, older sistr of above two

house block for quilt raffle in NYC [to support a program helping homeless find homes]


I scarf I started knitting before I had decided to return to knitting.. finally finished it after a year and a half.. I might add fringe

a scarf that I started and finished recently.. now that I'm a real knitter again

Nighty-night! Sleep tight!

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Photo Hunt: Foreign

Black Sea Restaurant in Saint Paul, Minnesota, USA. First Turkish cuisine in Minnesota -- Delicious!

Go here to see other photos of "foreign."

Friday, March 05, 2010

Leaning on Mom

Young Mother Sewing by Mary Cassatt, 1844-1926

Today is my mother's birthday. She is 89 years old. I love my mom! I have leaned on her for 57 years.

I remember leaning on her knee just like in this picture. And she used to sew. A lot! She made all our clothes. They were beautiful. She made my wedding dress. She made my sister's prom dresses. She made a gorgeous red, velveteen dress for me for Christmas when I was 14. She made a gorgeous wardrobe of clothes for my "bride doll" when I was a kid. I still have the doll and the winter coat from that wardrobe, but nothing else. I remember the fabrics she used, though!

My mom always sang in the church choir, and my dad was the minister. It was a rare treat when I got to sit with my mom in church. I remember leaning on her softness during church and just loving it.

Mom is smart, well-read, talented, and still sharp as a tack. I can't imagine not having her around. So every birthday she has is a great day to celebrate. Happy Birthday, Mom! I love you!

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Calling All Toy Makers

Help! I was making a doll. She was even sort of cute! But she has no self esteem... she just can't hold her head up.

I made the head, then the body, then the legs, and just attached them. I suppose the head and body should be one unit? But.. that requires some planning! Eek.

How does one correctly make a doll?

Monday, March 01, 2010

A Successful Life

Beth at Walk-a-Mile inspired me to write this post. She asked about our lives in relation to the following quote, and I decided the best way to answer her question is to follow her lead and address the points in this quote:

To appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to give one's self; to leave the world a little better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; to have played and laughed with enthusiasm, and sung with exultation; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived...This is to have succeeded
*Ralph Waldo Emerson*

to appreciate beauty: um, yes! Life is beautiful: nature, colors, people, love, friendships, art, quilts, flowers, mountains, photographs, the human spirit. I appreciate it and am so thankful for it all.

to find the best in others: I try! I have had to overcome a natural bent to be too judgmental. It’s an ongoing battle. At the same time, I believe people are good at heart. Each person is a child of God. So I try to remind myself of this, to try to stave off the judgments that pop into mind.

to give one’s self: yes! This is my life! A mom, wife, an educator (not a teacher, but in the system working for similar goals), a generous quilter, an active member of a church and its mission/outreach ideals… this defines my life.

to leave the world a little better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition: I have two grown children who are wonderful human beings. I am so proud of who they are (not claiming much credit here) and love them to the moon and back. I am happy that the world has been blessed by their presence. Now I have a fabulous daughter-in-law in the mix, too. What a sweetheart! I’m not much of a gardener; I would love to leave a legacy of a redeemed social condition, but I’m afraid I find them all so daunting and difficult. I do my part and constantly wish I could do more.

to have played and laughed with enthusiasm and sung with exultation: if you know me, yes! I love to laugh and have fun. As for singing, I do it with gusto, with apologies to those who stand in front of me at church.

to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived: oh, I am so humbled by the gifts given to me by my students over the years. I think I have touched a few lives in positive ways, and they have definitely paid that back a thousand fold. And then there is my husband. We are a wonderful team. We help and fulfill each other. I am so lucky!!

I would say I have succeeded. I'm still working on life, but if I die tomorrow, I can feel OK about my efforts to this point. Life is good! I thank God for my wonderful, blessed, lucky, charmed life!!