Tuesday, August 31, 2010

A Cat Who Loves to Sew

Can I help?

How about now?


Fine. I'll take a nap, then... way over here, completely out of your way.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Unafraid of the Dark

Dear Rosemary Bray,

Thank you for writing your memoir and giving it a title that begins with the letter “U.” I was on a search for a “U” book to satisfy my A-Z challenge, and I ran across your book, Unafraid of the Dark. I read it, and I loved it.

You and I are from the same generation. The historical context of your growing up years was the same as mine… but our life circumstances were completely different. It is good for me to learn about and keep in mind how my white, privileged life may affect the way I think and behave.. and how that may impact others.

I so admire your hard work all through your life. I was touched by your friendship with “Royce.” I want to be the kind of person who would do the same.. but I know I sometimes let my fears dictate what I do instead of my sense of longing to do what is right.

I also admire your understanding of the complex issues that we need to face in this country. So many policies are upside down and just wrong! It can be so discouraging. Thank you for your clear discussion of the issues and your optimism that we can all work our way toward morning!

Your newest fan,
Carol E. of Giraffe Dreams

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The First 35 Years

35 years ago today Charles and I got married! It was a hot, muggy day, but I didn't even notice, because I was having so much fun. I was not nervous at all, just happy and enjoying the presence of all our relatives and friends for the joyous event.

us as newlyweds, happy and in love

us now - happier and more in love (who knew?)

I never dreamed that the years would fly by so quickly. At the time, 35 years later was more than a lifetime away. We didn't know our kids yet, we didn't know what jobs we would end up doing, and we didn't know where we would settle down and make our permanent home.

our fabulous kids

our fabulous daughter-in-law

All those were surprises to come, and they have all been wonderful surprises! Best of all, Charles has been my rock of patience, gentleness, forgiveness, humor, wisdom, and my best friend alongside me through all the surprises.

our home

In our next 35 years, I expect the happiness to continue. Charles and I will both be 93 years old, and that no longer seems like more than a lifetime away. We'll be there before we know it. Check back with me then, and I'll tell you all about our second 35 years!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Working Overtime

goldenrod -- the harbinger of autumn and the return to school and work

Usually at this time of year I am scrambling to get summer things done and getting ready to go back to school. If I hadn't retired, this would be my last week of freedom.

Now is the time that I am realizing I really retired. I have not received the dreaded "Hi! It's time to come back to work" letter. I'm rather enjoying the lack of stress I feel. Although I will miss the students, I definitely am not missing the dread of heading back to pressures and stress.

I have decided that I can call myself a full time quilter. Lately I have been working on quilts most of every day. And I've done lots more this weekend, so I guess you could say I've been working overtime.

Today I managed to sandwich three quilts. Worked on quilting one and then realized I had made a rather large mistake and had to rip out a lot of the quilting. That was a good opportunity to sit down and watch a Netflix movie while I ripped. Hubby watched with me, which was fun. (Movie was so-so.)

There is still time left in the evening, so I'm headed back to the sewing room to get caught up on those sandwiched quilts. Gotta fill up the big box I brought home from church so I can mail these quilts to Wrap-a-Smile!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Ran Across a Few Quilts

I've been trying to clean/organize my sewing room, while also getting things further along the path toward done. In the process I have run across a few quilts. Hahaha! This is almost funny... I have unearthed over 15 tops that are waiting for borders and about 8 that are all set and ready to be quilted.

I found some 9-inch squares that were in a pile, so I quickly sewed them together without over-thinking their placement. So that one got added to the "just waiting for a border" pile.

It's endless.
emptying the blue-scraps drawer

My goal is to drastically reduce the size of my stash, finish all my UFOs and projects that are in the dream stage, and from then on be more sensible about how I take on quilting projects.

I wonder how many years it will take me to get to that organized stage that is now just a dream!?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Introducing my "E" Book

photo from www.flickr.com/photos/picturefades/2918904794/

I've been reading like a mad woman. It's so much fun! I just finished my "E" book and now have only four letters of the alphabet left! My "E" book was Every Last One: A Novel by Anna Quindlen.

I have now read at least three books by Anna Quindlen. She is really good at character development! Her characters really resonate with me... they seem to ponder and puzzle over some of the same life issues that I do. (Her book Black and Blue, which I read several years ago, caused me to lose sleep as I wrestled with the difficult issues in the book.. to me that means it was a good book. Good books don't avoid the difficulties of life.)

In this E book, it goes along pretty normally. It's about a mom, happily married with three teenagers. Some of the relationship stuff reminds me a lot of my own life, especially regarding my daughter. I felt a real kindship with that. And the mom even remembers as a kid spilling a bottle of perfume on her mother's dresser, and then just leaving it there, hoping no one would notice. I did the same thing! There was a damage to the finish that stayed there until years later when my boyfriend (before I married him) refinished the dresser and fixed the blob in the finish.

But back to the story: after a lot of normal, a horrific tragedy suddenly befalls this mother. I tell you, it was heart wrenching. I don't know how I got through this book without crying. But it was uplifting at the same time, because the characters are so real.

I seem to be in a "difficult books" streak lately.. unhappy characters, tragedies, world crises. Still, these books have been thought-provoking and meaningful, striking a chord within me in various ways and for various reasons.

I love when a book does that. A great book will resonate with my life or my ponderings, and the last several I've read have done just that.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

A "V" Book at the Lake

We went to the lake for a few days with Son and DIL. Had a great time, and the weather was gorgeous. The oppressive humidity finally went away, and it was downright cool.. almost cold. I loved it!

We went swimming the first day, and it was so refreshing and wonderful. After that it was a little too chilly for a swim. But reading on the deck under a quilt was fabulous. It is such a relaxing place! We all read books, relaxed, played Scrabble, took naps.. a perfect vacation.

It was really nice having Son and DIL along. They are such nice people! Son baked home-made bread twice! Yum! And the last day was Hubby's birthday so we had blueberry muffins in his honor.

I finished my "V" book - The Vagrants by Yiyun Li. There are a lot of unhappy characters in this book, and a lot of unhappy events occur. Despite that, it was a good read and very interesting story. It takes place in China in 1979 amidst political unrest and political crackdowns. I am reminded how valuable that First Amendment is that we enjoy: freedom of speech.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Reading Challenge: X -- A Real Challenge

photo is from anthonypounds (dot) blogspot (dot) com

It was hard to find an X book, and then the one I chose was hard to read.

The book is Project X: A Novel by Jim Shepard. It was not an easy or a happy book.. it is the story of two middle-school-age boys who plan to do a school shooting ala Columbine. Most of it deals with the inside thoughts and turmoil of one of the two boys... it is heart-breaking to read his thoughts about what a worthless person he is. That age and stage in life is so hard anyway, and then to feel like you're on the bottom of the heap, and a school shooting is a solution... it was just really difficult subject matter. It ends rather abruptly. I want to know a little more. But, as I think about it, the abrupt ending is perfect for the style and subject of the book.

I'm glad I can go on to another book. I hope the X book doesn't give me nightmares!

P.S. Beware of doing an internet search for images of the letter X. I should have known I would find a lot of stuff I didn't really want to see.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Special Quilts

This quilt was made entirely of Bev's fabric... except for the red narrow border and the binding fabric. Even the flannel backing fabric is from Bev. Bev sent me a box of fabric, and I received it in the mail just days after she died. I think she knew I would take good care of the fabric for her. This quilt will be donated in Bev's memory to Wrap-a-Smile, to warm a child after cleft palate surgery in Peru next January. We at Sunshine, who are missing Bev, decided to provide all the quilts they will need for one mission.. this means over 100 quilts. We'll happily do this to honor Bev, and many of us have already started production. This is my first completed one for Peru and fittingly, it is almost entirely from (and for) Bev.

This next picture shows you how klutzy I can be. I quilted this strip of fabric onto the back of the quilt and didn't even know it until I was nearly done. Needless to say, this rather glaring error has been corrected.

The rest of these pictures are antique quilts that were shown at our guild meeting this week... it was Family Quilts night. This first one belongs to a very sweet Southern Belle (she grew up in New Orleans). The quilt was hand appliqued by her aunt, c. 1940. Have you ever seen satin-stitch done by hand? Wow! It was hand quilted, though I'm not sure who did the quilting. Her mother did some work on it, so she may have been the main quilter. Anyway, it is a beautifully done quilt and lovely, like its current owner who treasures it.

I don't remember the story of this one. It is made from a kit, I think... circa 1930? And is beautifully hand quilted.

Another beautifully made quilt which was presented to its present owner from her husband's family. It is hand-made redwork and tiny-sitched hand quilting. Awesome.

This one was made in about 1970, which makes it an antique like me (I graduated from h.s. in 1970). I put my fingers in the picture so you could see how tiny the little patches are... and the hand quilting is even tinier. Gorgeous! We 1970s-era antiques are stunning, aren't we?

These quilts are treasures, and if you have one sitting in your attic or in a box, and you think it's ugly, show it to a few quilters and see what kind of reaction you get. You might have something very special in your possession. You might even learn to see its beauty and see that it's not ugly at all.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

A Big Quilt and a HOT Day

Look at this big quilt! It is for Kandee. I finally got it put together and figured out borders. [Border details, in case you want to know: I continued the star pattern into the borders on the two sides (in this first picture, the sides are held at top and bottom.) And I added squares of the colors used in the quilt.. top and bottom borders are only the squares, not the continuation of the stars.]

This is a generous queen-size quilt, about 84" x 105". Thanks so much for all the block donations, my generous internet friends! I will get this to the machine quilter this week.

My daughter and husband had a hard time holding this up high enough; that's how big it is. So I spread it out in my hallway spot; it was hard to really highlight the quilt here, as well.

I got the last border on this top, and then had to run. A group from my church had an appointment on the Padelford boat on the Mississippi River today... I thought about not going, because it was so HOT outside, but decided to go. (I heard that the boat is air conditioned.) Our heat index today was 103 degrees F.

Daddy and the twins are preparing for the loud blast of the whistle

Got there, sat on the outside deck, but found it awfully hot.. so I tried the downstairs deck which was "air conditioned." So they say. It felt about 3 degrees cooler, and lots stuffier. Back upstairs I went, and once the boat took off, the cooling breeze off the river felt pretty good.

chatting in the breeze.. it felt good once the boat got moving

a teeny-tiny boat, with a teeny-tiny tarp, providing teen-tiny shade

This is a guy's house! He built himself a little river-view shack and lives there! I'm not sure how he's allowed to stay there.. might be a fun retirement home idea for me next year! I could afford one about this fancy.

tug-boat pushing a barge went chugging past us

The drive home was too hot! I could hardly wait to get home. I'm reminded again how much I love fall: my favorite time of year. Fall can be BIG, but it is rarely HOT.

Friday, August 06, 2010

Another Book: R

photo by www.flickr.com/photos/steamshift/130760576/

I read The Reader by Bernhard Schlink. I had never paid much attention to what this book was about, and I was also pretty much oblivious when the movie came out -- so I had no pre-conceived notions.

I knew, vaguely, that this book was deep. So I thought it might be ponderously slow reading. It was not at all! It was captivating and quick reading. I started it yesterday evening and finished it today by noon. It's definitely a deep book, asking questions about moral dilemmas and making the reader think about how one should respond in many of life's conundrums, relationships, challenges, war-times and post-war. There is a lot of thought packed into this small book, and I'm glad I read it.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Thoughts on My Kindle

Here are my observations on my Kindle. I love it! It is so much fun to have ten or more books at my fingertips, all weighing less than one book. I have had a blast carrying it around and using it whenever and wherever I want... and when I hear about a good book, I click right in and order it. (That part is TOO easy. After all, it does cost money, which adds up.) Oh.. and the Kindle will hold 1,000 or more books. I just happen to have about ten loaded in right now.

photo is from www.flickr.com/photos/spiggycat/3804281263/

For those people who say they would miss the feel of a real book and turning pages, so far I agree, sort of. I miss that, too. But I knew the experience would be different than a real book, so I was prepared for it. I purchased a book holder at my sister's book store. It fits well and feels a little more bookish, for those times I want that feel.

My final vote: the benefits outweigh the things that I miss. Of course I still have the option, as always, to read real books, which I intend to keep doing. At least until I work through the gigantic pile of real books which are on shelves all over my house, waiting for my attention. In ten years, when I get those all read, maybe I'll read only from my Kindle. Time will tell. Until then, I'm enjoying having both options.

Tonight I finished an "M" book for my A-Z challenge: My One Hundred Adventures by Polly Horvath. Apparently this is a children's book! Last week I found an old list I had scribbled of books I wanted to read. I don't remember when I wrote the list or where I heard of these books. I just found the list and thought I'd check the Kindle store.. three of the four books were there, so I splurged. The "M" book was one of them. I didn't remember it was a children's book, or why I wanted to read it.. I just plunged right in and started reading.

What a great book!! It's told through the eyes of a 12-year-old, precocious girl. She is very wise and funny and totally loveable. The story is fun, entertaining, surprising, and deep! I kept wanting to read parts of it aloud to someone, anyone.. but hubby doesn't like me to read blurbs from my books, so I was stuck highlighting passages (i.e., learning how to highlight passages on the Kindle. I'ts really quite easy).

Here is what I highlighted -- wise thoughts from the main character:
"All our lives are mundane but all our lives are also poetry."

[Nellie is a church lady who is exploring mystical ways of healing.. this is what the girl, Jane, says of Nellie] -- "Nellie has no interest in me. She is too busy chasing the divine. How can a person, if she is so evolved, ignore a simple request from someone really in need?"

And here is a wise thing said by Jane's mother:
"We all belong here equally.... just by being born onto the earth we are accepted and the earth supports us."

Beautiful, n'est-ce pas???

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Nine Patches for Bev

Remember the Nine Patch Project? The goal is to make one nine patch block every day this summer. I finished my June allotment easily, then July was so busy, I got behind. Now I'm caught up, as far as to August 8th.

Over at Sunshine (a Yahoo quilt group), our dear friend, Bev, passed away suddenly, and we decided to make nine-patches in her honor... the ultimate goal being to end up with as many quilts for our two projects as possible. We would like to supply all the quilts for an entire Rotaplast mission to Peru (about 100 quilts) where the quilts are given to children after cleft palate surgery.

That Sunshine project is what got me motivated to catch up on my nine-patch production. I hope to get more made by the end of this weekend. Maybe I'll finish my quota for the whole month of August! I originally was making the blocks for an as-yet-undecided quilt.. but now I know they'll go to Sunshine in honor of Bev.

Monday, August 02, 2010

My Z Book

picture of New Orleans French Quarter by kotiposti (dot) net

The first (no.. the 2nd) book I read on my Kindle was Zeitoun by Dave Eggers. What a good book! I didn't know much about it, but ordered it because it started with a "Z." As good a reason as any, I suppose.

Zeitoun is the last name of the main character. He is always referred to by this name throughout the book. It's the story of Zeitoun and his wife (and their kids) before, during and after Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans.

It's fascinating! It's much more than just the hurricane story. Zeitoun is Muslim, and orginally from Syria. So... in the post-911 era in this country, just those two facts are enough to cause some ... well, I don't want to spoil the story. It's so well-done and is TRUE. I recommend this very interesting and thought-provoking book.

(Just in case you were wondering, yes there are pictures in the book, and yes, pictures come through in the Kindle, too - in black and white.)

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Kandee's Helpers

If you are new to my blog, you may not know that a friend of a friend, Kandee, recently lost her entire farm to a huge, once-in-a-lifetime tornado that bull-dozed through her home area. This came on the heels of having lost her husband and already finding adjustment difficult. My friend, KT, tells me that Kandee just doesn't know where to start picking up the pieces of her life. So... it seemed like the perfect time to give her a quilt, and my faithful friends and readers came through gloriously. Lovely Diane even offered to do the machine quilting!

Here are a few of the blocks, playing together before I had received them all... the real assembly is about to begin!

I believe I have 64 blocks, which is what I was hoping for. Thank you so much, readers and friends who have contributed!! I knew the cyber world would come through to help a fellow quilter!

Please, please forgive me if I forgot your name on this list, but this is the best I was able to pull together. I believe this is most or all of the people who sent blocks. Big thanks and hugs to all of you: Barb G., Betty M., Betty Z., BrendaLou S., Carin V., Carol E., Diane S., Elaine A., Ellen Z., Heather S., Jill S., Joan M., June S., Karen R., Kathy T., Leanne J., Leslie J., Nancy Z., Pat F., Susan D-S, Susan N., Yvette, Yvonne B.

Soon I will have a quilt picture to share with you! I'm excited to see it, too!