Monday, February 27, 2012

Retreats Rock!

I love quilt retreats. I always get so much done, and it's fun to spend the time chit chatting and being completely crazy with other quilters and scrapbookers. Last weekend I went to a retreat center in Wisconsin and had a blast.

work space was comfortable and well lit

real beds.. so comfy

food was so-so...

... just kidding! Food was fabulous; I gained 800 lbs

theme was Mardi Gras; we had a parade, dressed up crazy, acted appropriately for Mardi Gras, therefore this is the only photo I am allowed to show you.

I very kindly pointed out a mistake in this block; ML shows me that she fixed it. Whew! My sense of balance is restored

KF put together this stunning quilt

I had these blocks done; assembled them

made this one from the scraps left from...

... this beauty. I did a happy dance when this one was done. LOVE how it turned out!

I think this could be called a very successful weekend.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Friday Books: Heartbeats

The Art of Hearing Heartbeats by Jan-Philipp Sendker is an excellent book! To call this a love story short-changes the depth of this book. Yet it is a love story. There is so much more to it, however -- family issues, disability issues, cultural norms regarding views of people with disabilities, cultural norms regarding superstitions, exploring what love really can achieve and how it can transform lives, exploring what family really means.... all of this makes this little book an excellent read. This is definitely a 5-star book. Loved it.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

I Won an Award!

Thanks to Sarah at Sarah Did It! blog... I have been presented with the Versatile Blogger Award. Wow! What a surprise!

I am supposed to list 7 random things about myself. OK, here goes.

1. I love wool socks and slippers.
2. I can only chew gum in private, because I like to snap it and blow bubbles.
3. I like cold weather better than hot.
4. I am not a very good cook.
5. I still write to penpals.
6. As I write this, I am eating a bowl of ice cream with chocolate sauce.
7. I hate talking on the telephone.

Now I am supposed to bestow this award on 15 other blogs. That seems like a lot! I think most of the bloggers I know would not want to carry this on... and on and on and on. So I am going to break this rule and bestow it on only one blog. That blog is Life on the Bayou by Susan N. Susan talks about quilting and lots of other topics. She can go with just about anything. She designs her own quilts which proves her versatility.. not being stuck with pre-produced patterns. She also has been through some health challenges and came out flying a victory flag. She rocks!

Here's your award, Susan:

Here are the rules for the Versatile Blogger Award:

Add the award to your blog.
Thank the blogger who gave it to you.
Mention seven random things about yourself.
List the rules.
Award to 15 bloggers.
Inform each of those 15 by leaving a comment on their blog.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Trip Down Memory Lane

If you are in your 50s, you might have experienced what I have -- this decade has been all about introspection, looking at where my life has led, and pondering my past. I have felt much more settled than I felt at younger ages, and comfortable in my own skin. I'm still a work in progress, but in my 50s I have been able to stop and take a breath and look around; mostly I'm happy with what I see. I have enjoyed a wonderful life, am happy and healthy, and remembering my past mostly brings me joy. After taking this refreshing breath, I am looking to the future feeling hopeful.

Upon retiring in 2010 I began to feel itchy to visit some of my old haunts. Two are especially big on my wish list: "P-Town" where I developed my first major memories and put down my first roots (I lived there from age 4 to age 12). And the college campus where I met my husband, and from which we both graduated.

Last weekend I partially fulfilled my first wish: to see my first "home town." I started out by visiting my mother in A-Town. I do this once a month. We chat and read and watch TV, sometimes play Scrabble, and sometimes go out to eat. On this trip we did all of those things. It was a good visit.

On my way out of town I decided very impulsively to drive over to P-Town. I had a happy childhood there and have many fond memories. To get there was to go in the exactly opposite direction I needed to go were I to head home. This meant adding hours and miles to my day. I was up for it, so off I went.

What a shock! When I pulled into the town, I felt .... so strange! It was sort of like I had to blink several times to get things into focus. My 59-year-old eyes were looking at the stuff of 12-year-old memories. It was a weird experience. (I had been back, on rare occasions, but it had been decades since I'd seen P-Town.)

First, of course, everything was smaller than I remembered. For example, the "long walk" from school to the ball field for recess was only one block. And the house at the end of our block, built up on a hill, was on the tiniest little rise of about two feet.

The second sensation was shock at how the town has deteriorated. Sad!! The downtown is almost a ghost town. Most of the stores are empty, and some are crumbling. Most of the houses are in poor condition, crumbling, small, and old. It was a vibrant place when I lived there. I am so sad for the state of P-Town.

I still have love in my heart for P-Town. I don't know of many people who still live there that I might know. I can think of only one woman who is elderly, a contemporary of my mother's. My mother will be 91 years old in two weeks. So the only ties I have to the town are my memories.

My main stomping ground is still looking pretty good. My dad was the Methodist minister, and this is the church where we spent so much time and made so many happy memories. They have kept it up well. It looks to be in good shape, though I didn't get to go inside so can only report on the outside appearance.

In 1959 they built a new Education Building. I still call it the New Building. We lived in the parsonage next to the church, so this was in my back yard.

My house! So many memories! Doesn't it still look rather stately and nice? I would absolutely love to see the inside. They remodeled the kitchen when we lived there, pretty much following my mother's specifications. I'd like to see if it's still that same kitchen.

This is where I went to the last half of elementary school. The older building, where I had first and second grade, has been torn down.

My best friend's house. Two blocks from my house. Lots of memories here, too.

The municipal swimming pool. Here is where I conquered my fear of a water slide.

This is in a nearby town. This church was added to my dad's responsibilities, so we sometimes went to both churches for various reasons. My fondest memory in this church is singing a trio with my two sisters. It is now a private residence!

There were many other places that brought back a flood of memories. I won't show them all... they mean next to nothing to you. But it was a fulfilling and interesting and weird day for me. I hope to go back later this year with my sisters and mom, and maybe get to see the insides of some of these places, and visit with the one or two people still there who remember us.

Good luck to P-Town for a bright future. From here it looks like it will take a miracle. I just hope the people living there now are happy and are building good memories, as I was so lucky to do.

A beautiful sunset bids me adieu as I head back home.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Earth From Above -- Amazing Quilts!

I talked about my Earth From Above challenge quilt here. I waited until past the due date to finally come up with an idea, and then made the quilt hurriedly in one day. The next day I knew I'd be driving past Aunt Annie's Quilts in Avon, on my way to visit my mother, so I had to finish and hand deliver my quilt.

They have received about 50 quilts, and believe me, they are super amazing and clever and gorgeous! Most of them were still on tables, waiting to be organized and hung, so a couple other customers and I got to look at them all, and Lucy even let me take pictures. It was so inspirational (and, I must say, humbling) to see these quilts!

These will probably hang in a couple of quilt shows; once in the St. Cloud area and once in the annual Minnesota Quilters show which happens in mid-June. This year it will be in Rochester. Here's a sneak peek, with a reminder that photos don't do the quilts justice. I hope some of my readers will be able to see these in person at Lucy's shop, or at one of the two quilt shows in which they will hang. They're worth the trip.

I have labeled the pictures of which I remember the subject matter. (Pictures are in plastic sheets, reflecting light and making them hard to photograph.) One quilt that was one of my favorites I didn't even post here, because both the picture and the quilt were just too hard to photograph. It was amazing though.

the blue strips are solar energy panels

the quilt representing above picture

don't know the story of this picture, but notice the small area of blue in bottom right corner

the quilt includes a small area of blue in bottom right corner - so cool!

the picture...

... and the quilt! Yeah, I know!

cotton bales, with a man resting on one of them (Imagine: our quilt fabrics are made from these giant bales!)

quilt is made of home-made cotton balls on a leaf-shaped "platter" with a fairy resting on one of them

post-tsunami destruction

and the quilt inspired by the above

cool patterns in the earth

and the very cool quilt inspired by those patterns

picture of roads

the "roads" are made from zippers, and it includes hand-printed sayings about journeys from Robert Frost, Dalai Lama, and Buddha

the picture of whatever - pretty colors and patterns

and the quilt made in its honor

There were lots more. Wish I could show them all to you. Wasn't this a great idea for a challenge? It really brought out people's creativity!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Quilt Show, Part Two

I promised more pictures from our quilt show, so here you go. Enjoy!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Earth From Above

I'm trying to get used to my new method of uploading photos. Every computer seems to come with its own preferred method. My old brain has to try to adjust. Can you hear the rusty gears grinding? This computer has a card reader, which is cool. Skips a step I had to do before.

Here are my most recent photos; I will now tell you their story. Once upon a time I wandered into Aunt Annie's Quilts in Avon, Minnesota. You've heard me rave about that shop before. It's my favorite. Anyway, one of their employees had found some books called Earth From Above. The books were full of very cool photos of a huge assortment of random scenes, photographed from above.

They decided to hold an Earth From Above Challenge. We were to choose a page from the book and RIP IT OUT and keep it. Yes, rip a page out of a beautiful book! It almost hurt me to do so, but I thought it was a great idea. Here is the picture I chose:

Parasols on a beach near Agia Napa, Famagresta, Cyprus

The idea, of course, was to make a quilt inspired by the photo. I put it off and put it off for so long. I had a piece of fabric in mind, but no inspiration for design. The deadline to turn in quilts was a few days ago. I decided I had to make something, so I got busy and finally finished mine today. I'll be in Avon tomorrow, so I plan to hand-deliver it. If it's too late for the contest, that's OK. I never win those things anyway. I'll just be happy if it can hang in a display with the others. At least I got something done. For a moral of the story I will paraphrase a quilter's proverb: finished is better than on time.... [huh??]

Here's my quilt. It measures 13" x 19". After I got it all done and hung it up, I saw some stuff I'd like to change. Oh, well, c'est la vie. At least I had fun, and that is the important part of a challenge.

I'm showing you two pictures of it, because one shows the quilting a bit better, and one shows the arrangement of it. Can you see that I quilted a bunch of circles into the circles? It was fun to work on.