Thursday, September 30, 2010

Not Too Chatty 'Til Now

I haven't been very chatty lately. Maybe you are happy that I haven't bored you with my everyday, goofy thoughts! Today I am going to bore you a little. Here are my thoughts:

1. Retirement is fun, but I am still figuring out how my time should be divided. I totally love having so much time in which I am free to decide what to do, where to go, and when. I am gradually getting a few subbing jobs at the school. I have done only two so far, both not in regular school buildings. I love having substitute work as an option, and this includes the option to say "no." LOVE it! I also want to take on some volunteer work. I have two possibilities in mind, and this is where my time division comes into play. One of the possibilities will be more time-consuming. So I need to figure out how much time I can give away, and how much I'm willing to do. A friend told me it takes a while to figure this all out when one is a new retiree. She is right! I am jealously guarding my time, so I don't know if I want to take on the longer-hours volunteer position or not. (It appeals to me a little more than the other, except for the time commitment.)

2. Reading.. I'm still reading books as much as I can! Recently I finished Driftless by David Rhodes. We read it for our cousins' annual book-club gathering which is coming up soon. We read one book per year. I think that is funny and cool -- an easy-to-accomplish book club assignment! Anyway, Driftless was a very good book; one that I could read again and still get a lot out of it. In fact, my mother has now read it three times, and my sister and aunt read it twice! I still have letters J and Y to finish for my A-Z challenge, but I have been ignoring them, because I started a J book and a Y book, both of which were boring, so I moved on to more interesting books. I am currently reading The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson. I think I don't love it as much as other people; it's quite popular right now. It's interesting, but I'm not glued to it as some people say they were.

3. Politics.. I'm opininated and I know sometimes I offend readers who may disagree. I'm passionate about what I believe, so that's where my strong opinions come from, I guess. (And it's my blog, so I get to write about whatever I want, but I do feel squirmy when I offend my readers.) I feel like my politics is wrapped up with my beliefs that we need to help each other and be more of a collective team than we currently are. Sometimes I get very overwhelmed and discouraged about where our world is headed. Today I am feeling optimistic again. I love it when I feel more hopeful.

4. Quilting.. still concentrating on this during most of my daytime hours. I finished a quilt top (below) and quilted and bound this orange baby (above). I finally found some boxes that worked and got some quilts sent off to where they belong. I still have a large pile of projects to complete. It keeps me out of trouble!

5. Entertainment... I get to go to a Twins game and see the new stadium for the first time. I'm excited!

Monday, September 27, 2010

What Good Are Quilts?

I'll tell you what quilts are good for... here is the proof. It's a quote from Kandee who received the quilt we gave her following the loss of everything in a tornado:

"When KT gave me the quilt, I had tears. Since then I have felt joy, comfort, warmth and hope for the future... everything a quilt should give."

That's why I make and give away quilts!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Throbbing Finger

I finally have three quilts done and ready to mail to Wrap Them in Love. Now for the hard part: finding a box the right size. Here are the three quilts for WTIL:

a panel with an added border, 36 x 48

nine patches made in memory of Bev B., 40 x 60

a panel I bought at a garage sale, about 40 x 65?

I am also sending two quilts to Central Ohio Binky Patrol:

crumb blocks, 55 x 75

more crumb blocks, 40 x 60

After finishing these quilts I worked on crumb blocks. I have over 60 of them done and another 20 or so in progress. I guess the quilt gods decided I had done enough for now. My rotary cutter, containing a brand new blade, jumped up and slammed into my finger and fingernail. Boy, did it hurt! And bled all over the bathroom sink while I struggled to clean myself up and find bandages. After I got it wrapped up it continued to really hurt and throb.. so I took something for the pain. I am glad to report that it worked, and I am now able to sit still and type. (Before it kicked in -- I paced around the house yelling "please cut off my hand!") I think I'll survive, but I'm done sewing for the night.

Monday, September 20, 2010


I met my husband at college. We started dating openly. We were inseparable for our last three years in college. We got to hold hands, walk arm and arm, and even kiss in public. No one beat us up or threatened us or even mocked us for being in love. Our love and our marriage never became political issues. Why should they? Love is happiness. Love and marriage are what is expected of us. Love is a gift from God.

Why is this different for people who happen to be gay? I can't imagine the fear. I never had to feel scared about my feelings. I was a girl who liked guys. I had crushes. I didn't have to pretend I didn't. I could talk to my friends about my crushes. I didn't have to feel scared in locker rooms. I didn't have to worry about what it meant that I was having crushes on the "wrong" people. I can't imagine what that is like. Many people who are gay say they knew it about themselves by age 3, or age 6, or age 9. Can you imagine how scary that feels?

Love shouldn't be scary, and marriage should be a happy thing for anyone who is lucky enough to find love. I don't understand why gay marriage is such a big fear of so many people. What harm is it doing if my neighbor guys love each other and want to marry each other? It doesn't threaten my family in any way. It doesn't weaken the status of marriage. In fact, in my eyes it strengthens it.

The local Catholic powers-that-be are sending a DVD to every Catholic in our state, urging them to take a stand against gay marriage. Why? Do they prefer to force gay people into promiscuity and sneakiness? You would think they would support the idea of commitment, taking a vow to stay together and make a marriage. Isn't that better for our society than forcing people to hide and sneak?

I don't understand it. I guess I've been lucky enough to know lots of openly gay people so that I could learn that there is ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to fear. Fear comes from not knowing or understanding something. The people who are so anti-gay probably don't know many gay people... to clarify: they do know gay people, but the gay people have sensed that they need to tread carefully, so the anti-gay people have not been lucky enough to get to really know them and love them as friends, teachers, helpers, and role models.

I know... there are passages in the Bible that people always quote. Well, I am a practicing Christian, too, but I rely more strongly on the passages where Jesus tells us to love one another and to accept and welcome strangers and to be kind, and hospitable and to "do unto others..."

I could start quoting Bible passages that many anti-gay people are famous for ignoring... adultery? (It's EASY to finger-point on countless non-gay Christians who have violated THIS one.) You name a Bible "rule" and one can point out how people have chosen to ignore it. We all need to stop being such hypocrites.

I think the important rules are the ones that give us an overall guide to how we should live: love one another, be kind, be accepting, be non-judgmental. We should celebrate love as a gift from God, no matter who it happens to. If we could do that, we wouldn't need to be so scared of our gay neighbors and waste time, money, and energy on worrying about their marriages.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

900 Posts!

Can you believe this is Post #900!? I have been blogging since 2006! I really didn't expect to keep doing it for so long, and to enjoy it so much. I do love writing, even when I have nothing to say. Thanks to my readers who pop in now and then for a visit. It has been awesome "meeting" people from all over the world.

One surprise has been getting responses from authors when I post book reviews! That happened at least twice! This morning I heard one of those authors being interviewed on public radio. I felt like she was an old friend, and so was her book. (I'm in awe of authors, in case you can't tell.)

Anyway, what I'm here to talk about today is my sewing, which I have finally had time to get back to. Who knew retirement would keep me so busy that I wouldn't have time to sew at all some days!? I guess I should have expected that, as I knew I'd be doing more of my church and volunteer work during the days, and that cuts into my sewing time.

"Oh, well," she says as she tries to wipe the big retirement grin off her face, "it's all a matter of budgeting my time, I suppose."

So this is what I have managed to make lately:

This is a quilt for Central Ohio Binky Patrol. They want some bigger ones for a new shelter. So I whipped this one up out of scraps. It measures 50" x 75". The backing is soooooo soft; I hope this quilt will be a super-great source of comfort to whoever gets it's cuddly softeness.

This is another one for COBP. I don't know if it's large enough for the shelter needs, but they have plenty of places to donate quilts, so I'll let the organizers figure that one out.

This one is made from 9-patches which we are doing at Sunshine in memory of Bev. I'll probably finish this one myself and send it on to Wrap Them in Love. You might see it again once I get a picture of it in finished form.

Yesterday and today I worked at our church rummage sale. That's a big job! What a lot of stuff! It didn't all sell, so we had a lot to box up. The extras will be hauled off by Salvation Army. I am now a Rummage Sale Veteran, having never worked on one before (dare I admit).

In case you are wondering, I have not yet spoken to Mrs. Mark, but I will in the next couple of days.

Here's to my next 900 messages (lifting glass of Diet Coke in a toast to my readers)! Long live blogging!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Lousy Neighbors

How could we have let this happen? We're lousy neighbors. It's embarrassing to admit how really lousy we are. Tonight we found out that our neighbor died of cancer.... three and a half years ago. Yes! We had no idea!!

Charles made a home repair, and its origin had to do with a faulty water heater from way back. The repair could have been made years ago, but we had never put two and two together. He thought, "gee, I should tell Mark (not his real name) about this."

Mark was our neighbor. The nicest guy... so friendly and always had a big smile on his face. He loved working in his yard, in the garden, and he loved golf. Sometimes they traveled to Scotland and other places where Mark got to play golf in places that gave him a thrill. He asked us to collect mail and extra papers that arrive while one is gone and can't control what is dropped on one's front step. It wasn't much, but he appreciated our help. It was always fun when they returned, and Mark would retrieve their mail and give us a happy report about the trip.

So when Charles thought about telling Mark about the home repair, he started to realize that he hadn't seen Mark around the neighborhood in quite some time. And.. come to think of it... when the garage door is up, he noticed that there is only one vehicle in the garage.

Well, I am the Queen of Unobservance, so don't ever ask me about who has been in the neighborhood and who has not, or who has only one car when they used to have two. But once Charles mentioned it, I realized I had not seen Mark in a while, either.

I did a Google search and found Mark's obituary. I was shocked, saddened, and feel ashamed that we had no idea! We certainly would have gone to his funeral or at the very least would have spoken some words of comfort to his widow. I am sitting here with a stomach ache, feeling so bad about being such lousy neighbors that we didn't even know he had been sick, let alone that he died.... and so long ago. Dang!!

The last time we saw Mark and Mrs. Mark was when our son graduated from high school. They came over here for the open house party. As usual, they were happy and full of smiles and so friendly. It seems like just a year or two ago. You know how time flies.... It was five years ago! Little did we know that Mark had very little time left on this earth. I always thought we would invite them over for pie and coffee... as soon as we got the house cleaned up, or as soon as we got this or that remodeled. Ha. It never happened.

I feel awful. Tomorrow I will do something. I don't know what. But I will do something. I have to speak to Mrs. Mark. It will be hard to admit what lousy neighbors we are.

Moral of the story: Don't waste any time planning to be nice to your neighbors! Just do it! You might not have as much time as you think!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Surprise for Kandee

Kandee's quilt was delivered by my friend who knows Kandee! Here's the report:

I gave Kandee the quilt this weekend and she was shocked, touched, amazed, etc. She just kept asking me "How did they do this?" She was very teary and very grateful! It was really sweet. I would have taken pictures, but of course, I didn't have my camera.

I'm sorry I don't have a picture to share with you. The more hands that get into the process, the less control one has on how things happen. But it was delivered, and that's the important part. And Kandee appreciates it, and that part is important, too!

Thanks again to all who participated. It was a fun and rewarding process.

Friday, September 10, 2010

More News About Kandee

Today I delivered the Kandee Quilt to the actual delivery person. She will deliver it to Kandee this weekend. (Or, it's also possible she will leave it with her family who will deliver it at some future point, but I'm thinking that it will happen this weekend.)

Here's what I know about Kandee's current situation: she is currently renting a furnished place, but has decided to re-build on her farm site. So.. the quilt we give her will be one of the first things she owns that will be a part of her new home.

At the last minute I realized I should put a label on the quilt, so I did that minutes before taking it to our delivery person. I didn't get a chance to ask if she can take a picture, but I hope she will.

I'll keep you posted.

P.S. Happy 24th Birthday today to my wonderful son!

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Stuff I've Been Up To

School started this week, and I'm not there! It felt funny and weird, but I'm adjusting. I've been busy sewing and doing various household and church tasks and family stuff. Life is busy, even without a full-time job! The only thing I haven't had much time for lately is reading.

green scraps and APPLES, in progress for Wrap-a-Smile

A while back I was given a box of fabrics to use for charity quilting. They were ALL apple fabrics. Red apples, green apples, apples on black, apples on white.. you name it, they were in the box. I've been using them mostly for quilt backs. I'm tired of apples! But I still have several pieces to use... it was nice to get free fabric! But I hope next time there is a little more variety. Uffda.. I have apples coming out my ears.

Lotto blocks that I won.. haven't had time to sew them together yet, but here's my start at a plan.

another quilt in the works.. columns are made, but not yet sewn together. The mess on the table is my cleaning-in-progress.. trying to organize things into bins and whatnot. Big job.

All our appliances are aging and slumping at once.. this week we got new washer, dryer, and dishwasher! It's fun! I especially like the washer/dryer, well.. because the dishwasher isn't working yet.. hubby needs to buy a new hose or something. So I don't yet know how great it is. I'm looking forward to how quiet it will be.

school supplies for UMCOR that we collected at church.. I went in and organized them into kits. They'll be sent to children around the world

a little collection bank I set up at church - to raise funds for a project in our area that helps women transition out of homelessness

Last night we had dinner at hubby's parents' place.. with a cousin from another state. She and her husband were visiting - last time hubby and cousin saw each other was 1988. It was a nice evening.

P.S. Are you still reading? Then I'll tell you that today I finished the binding on the quilt for Kandee, and tomorrow I will give it to our delivery person!

Monday, September 06, 2010

Kandee's Quilt!

Kandee's quilt is done... except for the binding which I'll do very soon. It's beautiful!! Thank you so much to everyone who sent in blocks, to Diane who volunteered to quilt it, and to all who sent in money to help with the whole process.

Here's a lovely additional surprise: Diane suggested that the money you sent should go to Kandee instead of to her (it was originally to pay for the machine quilting). She said Kandee needs it more. Isn't she a doll??

So here are the photos. I took a lot, hoping that you will all be able to see your own blocks and also to get a look at the machine quilting. I'll let you all know when this gets delivered to Kandee.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Books -- Important Vacation Companions

one of the dish cloths I made while on vacation.. here it is in progress while I take a knitting break

Charles and I did a lot of reading while we were on vacation. I read four books, and Charles read two. I also made three knitted dish cloths and started a fourth!

Are you curious about the books? Here are my short reviews:
Addition by Toni Jordan - (Kindle edition) I loved this book! It is about a woman with Obsessive Compulsvie Disorder who counts everything. It's sweet, touching, funny, and memorable.

Celestial Navigation by Anne Tyler - (a library book) It was interesting but full of odd characters. Some of them sort of gave me the creeps, a little bit. Still, aren't we all a little odd? They were believable characters in their oddities.

K by Mary Roberts Rinehart - (Kindle edition, free) It was pure entertainment, in my opinion. Nothing really redeeming about it, but an OK story line. It takes place back in the early 1900's when women were second class citizens, and did that ever show! If you can let that not bother you, it'll at least entertain you, and the price was right.

When Christians Get It Wrong by Adam Hamilton - (Kindle edition) It's a series of sermons he prepared for his local church, and as the book goes along it gets more and more challenging to think about what we believe, how we should act on our beliefs, etc. It's a good book which I would like people in my church to read and study. Apparently there are study guides and DVDs available (or podcasts).

Charles read Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese and Ford County by John Grisham. He liked the Verghese book and not the Grisham one so much, although Grisham is usually more the type of book he reads. This one was short stories, and he wasn't too impressed.

Since I got home I've been doing a lot of sewing. Some time I will set that aside and get back to the next book I have started. It's a good one.

Friday, September 03, 2010

Vacation Fabulous-ness

Do I have to come back to reality? Hubby and I went on a vacation for the last week, and it was fabulous!! We had such a great time, and it was very relaxing. After a great vacation, it's hard to come back to real life!

First stop -- sister's lake home. We only got there in the evening and basically slept there, leaving by mid-morning the next day. This was our first home-away-from-home on our vacation. We decided to sleep out on the porch, something we have done for years because we love the breezes and the night sounds that we enjoy there.

Sunday we drove to far northern Minnesota, very close to the border with Canada, and stayed at Hayes Lake State Park. We had never been to the far northwestern part of Minnesota before. Our little cabin was very private, situated all by itself at the end of a 1.5-mile road, on the shores of Hayes Lake. We loved the privacy of the place. During our stay there it was quite hot. I'll confess that I took off my shirt to try to cool down, and it was so nice that no neighbors were around to see me.

long road to our private cabin site

There was a wonderful swimming beach there. I was shocked at how cold the water was! It almost hurt, it was that cold! But, oh boy, once a person got all wet and acclimated, it was supremely refreshing. We swam a couple of times, and the rest of the time we did a lot of reading, relaxing, taking naps which husband called "reading lying down." haha!

Tuesday we left Hayes Lake and drove for most of the day to the northeastern region of Minnesota. This time we stayed at Jay Cooke State Park. It's on the St. Louis River and very beautiful. There is no swimming beach there, but luckily, the weather turned cold, and we did not need to swim.

our cabin at Jay Cooke

Our days at Jay Cooke State Park were spent doing all the same arduous tasks we'd done at our previous stops: read, relax, eat, sleep, repeat.. with an occasional walk thrown in for good measure.

hubby cooking on his 40-year-old camp stove that still works like a charm

We came home today, Friday.. it's actually good to be home, but it was sad to see a great vacation come to an end. Our daily events were not note-worthy, but the whole vacation was so relaxing, and a fun time for both of us.

We still have the Labor Day weekend to enjoy at home and to get some chores done around here. One especially -- clean up the laundry room so the installers can put in our new washer and dryer!! Whee! I'm so excited.. they'll arrive on Tuesday.