Monday, January 31, 2011

15 Facts - 30 Days of Photos: 1

Megan gave me this idea... post a picture of yourself with 15 facts:

Coincidentally, Megan took this picture of me. It was last fall at a Twins game in Minneapolis.

1. I was born in Panama.
2. I love to read.
3. When I was in college I considered taking a career path in the photography field. Now I'm glad I didn't.
4. My favorite season is fall.
5. I have two adult children. They rock.
6. I grew up in the United Methodist Church.. one grandfather was a minister, my father was a minister, also an uncle and a couple of cousins. Methodism is in my blood.
7. My son was about 26th or 27th in my extended family to attend Hamline University, starting with my grandfather who graduated from Hamline in 1903. We have a tree on the campus with our family name on a plaque at the tree's base. (I did not attend Hamline, but my mother and sisters did, also many cousins, aunts, uncles...etc)
8. I retired last June and am still getting used to it.
9. My husband and I have been happily married for 35 years.
10. I'm pretty sure I have ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder).
11. I love snacking and junk food (sad, but true).
12. I wear size 9 shoe.
13. Today I did a Random Act of Kindness. It was fun. I believe in being generous and helping people.
14. I love Niagara Falls.
15. I love babies! I got to hold a super cute baby girl last Sunday. She made my day.

This shows my little quilt hanging in the bathroom at church. It looks nice against the royal blue. Next time I go in I will center the quilt on its little dowel. I didn't notice how "off" it is when I took the photo.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Faith, Hope, and Some Blocks

Finished a few doo-dads. I have a largish lap-size quilt sandwiched and ready to quilt, and it has a deadline, but I'm avoiding it... which explains why I suddenly needed to make these random blocks, and a small wall hanging.

This one is to hang in the bathroom at church. They asked me to make one about four years ago, and I'm tired of it now. I would like to make several and keep rotating them. This is hanging on my back door. I'm not sure how it will look on the royal blue background in the bathroom. We'll see soon enough. I meant to use more blue in this so it would look nice on the bathroom wall, but it insisted on being purple.

These two blocks are for Clare at Quilts 4 Leukemia. I added them to the pile that I photographed a couple of days ago and have them packaged up (8 blocks) ready to mail off to France. Au revoir, blocks!

And another house block for fun.

Today I watched a Netflix movie: "Moving Midway." It was quite interesting, and it seems there is always more for this Yankee to learn about life in the south. Midway is a big plantation house that had gradually been surrounded by more and more development, and was losing its old home feel, so the owner decided to have it moved to a larger, quieter piece of property. The movie is a documentary about that process.. the extended family's feelings about the move, who they met in the process, and how the move went. Quite interesting. When it's all moved and settled, the owner shows his aunt(?) around, and shows her a quilt they bought in Pennsylvania. She points to it and says "Yankee quilt" in a not too friendly tone. I laughed!

Happy weekend, everyone!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

This Commercial Makes Me Happy

Here is something that makes me happy: a Celebrex commercial. Who knew?!

It’s not the words and not the commercial itself… it’s the DOG! You know the commercial where the man comes out of a beach house with his dog and a frisbee, and they go walking along the beach? Ignore everything about the commercial except the dog. Watch that dog and his cute, wagging tail. He is the happiest dog! Watch to the very end. That wagging tail is going to leave a big smile on your face, I guarantee!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


This was such a funny coincidence. Today I was watching Oprah's show on Happiness. At the same time I was baking pre-shaped, refrigerator dough cookies. Look at the cookie that came out of the package:

Glad I took this picture, because I didn't recognize it once it had baked. It's probably already making my tummy happy.

Oprah and her people discussed the various factors that can help increase happiness. I "fit" several of their criteria. I am very happily married. I have a nice, warm home and enough food (too much, in fact.. just look at my waistline - on 2nd thought, don't look), and we can pay our bills, with only a normal amount of pain and angst. We have two grown children who are fabulous adults, and both have wonderful partners whom we love. I had a great career, and retired with a pension (a real plus in these days of do-it-yourself retirement plans). Hubby and I take occasional vacations. I'm happily, actively involved at church. I do substitute work that I love, and I do volunteer work that I love.

So, by all those accounts, I'm quite happy.

However, I have been dealing with depression for pretty much all my life. I'm sure some people would be surprised to hear this. I do enjoy life! But sometimes I've had to fake.

I always used to wonder why I felt a little "under-happy." I used to picture a line that indicated most people's happiness level. Mine was slightly under that line. I spent a lot of time and energy faking my happiness. I never could understand what was wrong. It wasn't something I could just snap out of. Sometimes I'd have such a rush of anger or frustration. Even I wondered where this completely out-of-proportion response came from. What a helpless feeling!

About ten years ago I started getting worse. I knew I was in trouble when I had no energy for the things I love. I could barely force a smile onto my face. I couldn't get out of the chair. And one day I began to fantasize about "being lucky and getting cancer and dying." All of that scared me, and I went to see a doctor. I have been on anti-depressants ever since. I'm now convinced that I have some kind of genetic depression, because I know I experienced a lot of it when I was younger and didn't understand what I was feeling.

The meds have helped a great deal. I am more cheerful, have energy, and feel 99% normal. It's not a cure. I feel like the meds help me to barely hold on. They help a lot, but they don't cure. Without them, I know I would sink back into the black chasm of depression. I'm happy to have something to help me feel happy!

I guess this means I have a mental illness. I'm able to control it and keep my life happy. This is another way I'm lucky. The meds work for me. They don't always work for everyone. But definitely, if you or someone you know seems depressed, I encourage you to seek help. It is worth finding some sympathetic helpers who will understand what you are going through and will offer some help.

If all goes well, you, too, can get back to feeling normal and enjoy eating a happy cookie!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Lots of Fun, a Little Frustration

This weekend I had very few obligations, and I chose to spend most of my time sewing. It felt great and was a productive weekend!

It's fun to sit at the machine and create. I love the magic of fabric and scraps being turned into something beautiful and useful. So I quite enjoyed my time at the machine.

I did a bit of machine quilting, and that was a big, fat frustration. I really struggle with free motion quilting and have almost decided to give it up for good. I'll stick with walking-foot straight lines and stitch-in-the-ditch. It's a little boring, but at least I can get it done, and it serves the purpose of getting a top quilted. I've about decided... anything bigger than a medium size wall hanging gets good old walking foot quilting from me.

I'd had my machine repaired since I quilted last, and I was hoping the repair would help make machine quilting a breeze. No such luck.

Piecing and creating are still a big joy, so I'll stick with what I love and what works without the hassles. Thank goodness for alternatives! (I'll be keeping my professional quilter busy.)

This was an almost-done project; I just had to add the binding.

This shows the backing fabric... one of those state flower fabrics from way back when.

another almost-done quilt that needed binding

This is the backing fabric which I totally LOVE.

I noticed that Clare at Quilts 4 Leukemia had made a few more tops, and that jogged my memory -- I had intended to send her some Love blocks. They're late, but here they are. I had fun making these!

While I was at it, I made a couple funky red/white blocks to send to Clare with the above Love blocks.

Here is a funky house.. I love making these. I'm going to start a collection for my own funky house quilt.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Read My Pillow

I finally finished a quilted pillow that was an old UFO. Have you ever had a pillow you can read?

Can you see my

the back

Friday, January 21, 2011

I Want to Go, Too!

Who can tell me which country this flag represents?

I have been watching Oprah's show filmed while she and 300 audience members travel to and through Australia. I'm so envious!! Looks fabulous. Well, as she says, a trip to Australia should be on everyone's Bucket List, and it's certainly on mine. I have a friend there from way back. She was an exchange student here during high school. I have seen her once since high school. Next time I would love to visit her in her home territory. And, of course now in this modern age I know several other Australians through computer contacts and global quilt groups. Maybe some day......

Oh, well. I am happy, enjoy my many blessings, and will die happy even if I never get to Australia.

So for now I'll tell you about the book I just finished reading: Breath, Eyes, Memory by Edwidge Danticat. It is the story of a girl who grows up in Haiti, raised by an aunt, and at age 12 is summoned to New York to live with her mother, whom she barely remembers. This story line is exactly what happened to the author, although this is a work of fiction. Family history, traditions, and family legacies are the main themes of the book. It kept me turning pages and wanting to read at every free moment.

Time for a gratitude list. What I'm grateful for:
1. a warm house on a very cold day (this morning it was -23 F in our back yard)
2. good books! I'm on to another good one, this time on my Kindle
3. worked a 3-hour shift today and then spontaneously decided to stop at Science Museum; ate lunch there and saw a movie in the Omnitheater: "Old Man and the Sea."
4. looking forward to a weekend mostly at home, warm and snug, doing whatever I want
5. making fun plans to visit friends and attend a worthwhile conference during 2011
6. fun to day dream about possible visits to Australia, Panama, and other places on my Bucket List!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

I Love People

photo from

1. If you want a wonderful career, consider working in Special Ed. I did some more subbing today, and got more little tugs on my heart strings. I love Special Ed kids! They are full of quirks and challenges and can even be annoying, but when you see past that and learn a little about their background, you can't help but love them. Even though I'm retired, I still feel lucky and blessed to get this little touch of love when I do my occasional jobs.

2. J. helped me see how comforting this subbing is for me, after a couple of tough years in the end of my career... this is just what I needed. Thanks for helping me see that today, J.

3. I love people who quietly go about helping others. No fan-fare, no trumpets sounding, just big hearts helping someone in need.

4. I love happy-ending stories that are answers to prayer. Gives a person goose-bumps. God loves us!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Hats! Books! Joy!

I continue to knit hats. They're so quick, and it's fun to have a project done in a short time. Here are my latest:

I kinda dig the way the tops turn out.

not crazy about the little red blob at the top; live and learn

this one is pink, in case the color confuses you

for scale, to see how tiny that preemie hat is

I am going to give some away, and I want to create a stockpile of hats for future gifts/give-aways. Such fun!

Tonight book group met (whee). We used to meet weekly, but now we switched to monthly. It is better! We had more participants tonight, and it's fun (joyful) with more people in the discussion. The book we read for tonight was The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown. I admit that I didn't get into it much at first, so I set it aside. Then on Sunday and Monday I had to speed-read in order to be ready for tonight's discussion. Speed-reading (as I define it) is not the best way to truly experience a book. So I can't give an authentic report on this one. A few people in the group loved it and called it fabulous. I didn't, but... who knows what I would have thought with a more careful reading.

For my own joyful reading I picked up Breath, Eyes, Memory by Edwidge Danticat. It is engrossing, and I have had my nose in it whenever I could through most of today. I should finish it tomorrow if I don't have to work.

So stay tuned to see more hats, hopefully some mittens, and more book reports! I know. Hard to contain the excitement. I think you can do it if you try.

Sunday, January 16, 2011


I find it hard to believe that Saturday would have been Martin Luther King, Jr's 82nd birthday! I wonder how our world would have evolved differently had he lived this long. I'm sad that our country is so violent and that we have this tendency to assassinate the good people. Will we ever learn?

I was 15 when he was shot. I remember exactly where I was. I was at home, in the living room. I heard my mother's running, stomping feet upstairs, then she yelled down the stairs to my dad that Rev. King had been shot. I didn't know what to think. I was shocked yet kind of frozen. It was a weird feeling.

Anyway, I feel lucky to have been alive while MLK, Jr. was active in the movement, and to have been old enough to remember those days. I got to meet his father, MLK Sr., four years later in Atlanta. I'm more in awe of that now than I was then! I knew it was significant, but... now I can hardly believe I was that close to fame and fabulousness.

This morning at church Megan (the youth and outreach director) preached. We have a great ministry team at my church! They inspire me. I'm trying to sort through my swirling thoughts on the things going on at church. They're good things; I just have to ponder them.

Do you have a favorite scripture verse? I think one of mine is this: "Mary kept these things and pondered them in her heart." When I had my babies I knew exactly what this meant. Motherhood caused me to keep things and ponder them in my heart.

I am really rambling. This post is a little bit of everything! I started a book yesterday: After the Bombs. I read about 80 pages, but I just could not go on. It tells of a time in Guatemala of corruption, death, unrest, very unstable government, atrocities witnessed by children... I just couldn't read another page. So now I am between books for a day or two while I decide what shall be next.

Today after church I watched football and knitted. I made a 2nd preemie hat. This one is TINY. They said they need hats to "fit an orange" and up to newborn, so this one is about an orange size. Here's a pic:

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Book Report

Born Under a Million Shadows by Andrea Busfield... it takes place in Afghanistan in current times, after the withdrawal of Taliban, but while war is still present. The story is told through the eyes of a young boy, about age 10. He lives with his mother, the rest of the family died or their fate is unknown after being kidnapped by the Taliban.

Life is difficult but happy. He and his mother make a loving family. They have friends, he goes to school and even gets a small after-school job. They try to carry on as normally as possible.

Meanwhile, of course, there is conflict that erupts in their city due to the war. There is poverty, and there are friendship and extended family issues, just like happen everywhere. The narrator makes his way through life while trying to understand the people and the events around him. He is wise, sweet, funny and loveable. A good, sensitive book in which the reader will learn along with the narrator.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Doing the Right Thing, Finally

One of my goals during retirement has been to organize my house. I'll admit it... I have a problem with clutter. I don't like clutter, I don't want to have a problem with clutter. But I also don't like to be too anal about picking up every little thing the minute we put it in the wrong spot. I don't want cleaning my house to consume my every waking moment. So, I look around after a while and realize it has gone beyond "lived in" and has reached "cluttered and messy".

Cluttered and messy doesn't seem to bother my husband, so it's usually up to me to tackle it. And when it gets too bad, it's overwhelming and hard to rev myself up to get started. That's why I've been retired for six months, and I'm just now getting started on this job.

The good news is, I have fixed one room! That's progress. It is our guest room, at least for now. It used to be our son's bedroom. The real guest room is in the basement, but it's still unfinished, so it's not very pleasant. And it currently is lacking a bed. Not very comfortable for a guest.

So here's our cleaned up guest room. I'm liking it! Does it look guest worthy?

I'll bravely show you the before picture, too. Can you believe it? It started out being pretty neat. Then I kept putting my quilting stuff in there "just for now," until I found a permanent spot. Then I set up the table to help me with basting quilts, and later to wrap Christmas gifts. Then knitting grabbed hold of me, and I started putting knitting projects in there "just for now." That's how this happens.

I hope I can keep up the momentum and work the same magic in another room! Wish me luck!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Warm Heads are Happy Heads

I finished knitting some more hats! I enjoy making hats because they're useful items, and they're pretty quick. I can make one and not get too bored with it, and then it's done!

This one is for a collection of preemie hats at a local yarn shop. They'll be donated to an area hospital. I hope to make at least one more preemie hat before the end of the month when they are due. This is my lovely dolly modeling the hat. She is wearing a preemie outfit, so I hope her head is about preemie size, also.

These two hats are for kids in Afghanistan, through the Afghans for Afghans group. They really don't want many hats, but as a beginning knitter I wasn't able to churn out sweaters and socks like they want. I'm working on a vest and am crossing my fingers that I'll get it done before the deadline, and that it'll actually look like a vest and be useable. I have never knitted an actual garment before, so it's exciting and somewhat intimidating!

I've spent the last couple of days cleaning our guest room and re-arranging. Later I'm going to show a before and after picture, but I'm not done enough for the after picture yet. This is part of it, though. I gathered up all my TBR books and put them in this shelf, alphabetized by author. Wow! I surprised even myself with how many books I have. They all look so good! I wonder how many of them I will read this year.

I shall say goodnight for now so that I can steal a few precious minutes to read before I must get my beauty sleep. Ta-ta!

Monday, January 10, 2011

My Reaction -- The Talk

Since I'm retired now, I have the opportunity to watch daytime TV. One new show that I enjoy is The Talk. Five, sometimes six, women chat about current issues, life as a mom, and they have visitors on the show. I like their style and their friendly chat.

Once in a while, though, there are things said with which I disagree and to which I want to respond. The two incidents I can recall involve host Sharon Osbourne. Once, when asked if her husband ever did such-and-such, what would she do -- her response was "I'd kill him." The way she says it is kind of cute. It even makes people laugh. In fact, right when she said that, the camera focused on a woman in the audience saying to her friend, "I love her!" I think that's because of the cute factor.

I really think we need to be careful about such statements. Our society is already way too violent. It may seem like a silly, off-the-cuff comment, but these things add up and people (specifically, children) learn from what we say.

It's important to watch our language.. it helps define who we are and how we behave.

Today, while discussing the Arizona tragedy, Sharon said that if any of her kids did something that terrible, she would feel so awful about it, that she would kill herself. What?! In this age when we have such a teen-suicide problem, and we want them to know that there are other options when one is in pain, I feel that her comment was a very bad example, and hurtful.

SHE needs to model that life can be survived, pain can be overcome. We need to let our kids and our colleagues know that suicide should never be on their list of options. Help is available.

I wanted to leave this message for Sharon at The Talk website, but I couldn't figure out how to do so, other than to Tweet something, and I don't like Twitter.

What do you think? Am I being overly sensitive, or do you agree that we need to be careful with the words we say?

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Some Quilts

I made a few blocks for the Sunshine Lotto. Off they go to Tammy as soon as I manage to actually go to the post office.

This is a scrap quilt that has been on my design wall for quite a while. Every once in a while I sew another row together. I'm not in a rush on this one.

This is a quilt I made to put my pins on.. from quilt shows, work stuff, church, and family. I really didn't know I had so many pins! At first I wasn't so sure about this quilt, but it has grown on me. We are good friends now.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Kindle Cover #2

I made another one. I said I was going to "perfect the design," but I did almost nothing different. I kept trying different things and then ripping them out. I must have ripped every seam 400 times. In the end, I went with what worked the first time.

This time the button is a pin showing a map of Panama.

This inside fabric is so classy and gorgeous. Doesn't match the tone of the cover fabric, but isn't the surprise nice?

Friday, January 07, 2011

Quilted Kindle Cover

I decided to make a home-made Kindle cover. It works! It's not perfect, but it works. I am going to make at least one more, in my attempt to perfect the design. But, for Attempt One, I'm satisfied. Here it is:

The button is a pin, like a campaign button, just pinned on. The elastic piece is actually a little hair binder.

It's easy to open and close, even one-handed.

The inside fabric is plain so that it doesn't distract eyes with popping polka dots.. but then I made the pocket with the stripeys.. not sure how that will accomplish my goal. I personalized it - on the left - with my name and a heart. Sweet, n'est-ce pas?!

I suppose the pocket might come in handy some day, but I want to be careful not to put stuff in that will scratch the Kindle screen.

Attempt Two is going to be made of funkier fabric. Stay tuned.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Never Say Never

I did something I swear I'd never do. You know what they say, though... never say never.

I always swore I'd never live with or like a cat. (I have lived with one, and loved him.)

Before I was a mom I always swore I'd be a perfect mom and would never do this or that or say these awful things. (I did most of them.)

I always told myself I'd never let myself weigh more than 150 lbs. (haha!)

I put away and gave away my knitting stuff, thinking I'd never be interested in knitting again. (I had to buy back lots of the supplies I had given away.)

And I was sure I would never color my hair.

Do you see any gray??? (I love it.)

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Book Banning and Editing

How topical.. I just posted about reading Tom Sawyer (here), and now the news tells about a version of Huck Finn that has been produced, editing out the n-word. (I'll bet Twain is spinning in his grave.) Twain is a great story-teller! The characters show the culture and society's mores of the time. Readers can see Tom and Huck befriending everyone.. people from various strata of their society. In addition, I trust readers -- they are smart! Teachers certainly are smart enough to guide a thoughtful discussion! I actually thought the jolt of that word was a good thought provoker as I read Tom Sawyer, putting me in the context of the times and learning from it.

I wish I could sub again in the class that spurred me into reading Tom Sawyer, but they have a more regular sub ensconced in there, so I guess I'll miss out on the great discussion, at least in that classroom.

I heart books!

First Book of 2011

I finished my first book for the year: The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain. I'm doing the A-Z challenge again, this time by author. Obviously, I'm not reading them in order. I chose to read Tom Sawyer, because I subbed in an 8th grade English class for a couple of days, and they are reading it. The discussions interested me, so I started it, too. I enjoyed the adventure and the clever writing. It has some exciting parts. The context is in a very different time: frequent use of the n-word, for example. Getting past that, I could see Twain making little jabs at our hypocrisies, our tendency to pre-judge, and our insistence on conforming. I hope I get to sub in that 8th grade class again, and see how their discussion is progressing.

I have been looking ahead to what I want to read next, and every single book I looked at had an author whose name begins with a B. I could read four million books by B authors. Then our reading group at church is starting a new one, and guess what: the author's last name starts with a B.

So today I chose one based on its due date at the library (soon). I am currently reading Born Under a Million Shadows by Andrea Busfield. It takes place in Afghanistan. Hmmm...the boy on the cover looks like a Kite Runner, doesn't he?!

(Trying to remember to include my gratitude list every time I post.)
Today I'm thankful for:
1. sleeping in
2. my sewing burn-out went away, and I'm enjoying sewing again
3. subbing on a part-time basis
4. good books
5. warm toes in my new Smart Wool socks

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Finally Some Sewing!

I actually have some sewing to show! It has been a while since I was interested in sitting down at the sewing machine. I don't know what brought on my major burnout, but I'm just dealing with it, and letting time take care of my interests.

This is my 4 January blocks for Block Lotto. I like these! They remind me of stacks of books. And I do love stacks of books!

This quilt was started a long time ago, maybe three years. My daughter picked out the fabric, and I made it for her. There was a mistake, which took me a year to fix. Then it took me another year to put on the border. And another year to get it to the machine quilter. My quilter, Diane, did a gorgeous job, and my daughter is thrilled with it and is excited that it's finally done. It has wool batting and flannel backing, so it's very warm and wonderful.

I'm still knitting, of course. I made these two hats. I love how the top ended up on this stripey one. It's the first time I took the hat off the circular needles and finished it with double pointeds; the top turned out cute thanks to that process -- and the stripey-ness of the yarn, too, of course.

So far 2011 has been cold, and I've been mostly staying home and staying warm. Tomorrow everyone goes back to work, and the new year officially gets underway. I will work on getting used to writing the new date, 2011. It doesn't seem possible that we are that far into the 2000's already!