Monday, April 30, 2012

She Scores!

I went to a fundraising banquet tonight, and I got the best prize in the house at the silent auction... this beautiful antique quilt that was made in the 1940s!

It's gorgeous, and it's in beautiful condition. It includes two qualities that I do not do: applique and hand quilting. Love it!

It even includes a note explaining its provenance. I am the third owner of this beautiful quilt.

The best part is, the money I paid for it went to a good cause. I'm thrilled!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Friday Books: Strength of Women

I am about 80% done with My Name is Mary Sutter by Robin Oliveira, so I'm going to go ahead with my review.

This is another excellent book. Mary Sutter is a woman who wants to become a surgeon. This is in the 1860's just as the Civil War begins. Of course, at that time women were not even considered for medical school (such as it was). She persistently asked doctors to sponsor her and put in a good word for her at the schools, but was always denied.

As the war begins, Mary dives into the work of nursing/maid/housekeeper/helper/surgeon's apprentice/you-name-it at a local hospital thrown together in a crumbling, old hotel. Conditions are worse than raunchy. It's a bug-infested, filthy building, stifling hot in summer, drafty and freezing in winter. The work continues at top speed 24 hours a day, with very little help and almost no supplies.

Pain killer consists of whiskey, and amputations are done with a saw.

You get the idea. It's filthy and disgusting work, and most of the soldiers die.

It is sad that they knew very little about infection in those days. Thousands died who would not have had to, because of the lack of cleanliness. The book is quite graphic and gory with all the wounds and how they attempt to treat them. I will spare you any more of the gore.

What leaves me most in awe is the fortitude of the women. Mary herself is unstoppable. She is determined to become a surgeon. She will not take No for an answer. Other women step up to help with nursing, and live out their days trying their best to comfort and treat the sick and dying, going home with blood all over their clothes, collapsing into bed, rising wearily the next day to do it all again.

I have been coddled. I can hardly stand to empty out the trash. I would not have been a good nurse ever, but especially back then. I am so amazed at what women had to put up with. At one point Mary is "forced" to take a day off. She wanders out into the city almost in a daze, not sure what to do. She enters a restaurant and is told "we don't serve unaccompanied women." What is that?? The Taliban?? Remember, I said Mary doesn't take No for an answer, so they do eventually serve her.

I would have left the place in tears and shame.

These strong women of old paved the way for wimps like me to have the luxury of being coddled and of having things handed to me. Mine has been an easy life. I get to relax and read great books like My Name is Mary Sutter. I give it 5 of 5 stars.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Sick of This

Sore throat
Drippy nose
Needing naps

I'd rather be quilting.........

in progress.. almost done with border

blocks for Color Challenge at 15 Minutes Play

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

A Candle in the Wind

Yesterday my cousin and I went to the Mall of America to see the Diana exhibit. It is traveling around the country/world, and in off-season is in safe keeping at Althorp. I have no idea where it might go next, or when it will be returned to Scotland.

Back in the day I was a huge Diana fan. There was something about her that was so magnetic. Not only was she beautiful and so personable with the commoners, she was also vulnerable and a "hurt little girl" that made me feel tender toward her. She certainly experienced her share of trauma. Royals who grow up in a different world from ours and follow different dating and courtship rules -- they are set up for problems, it seems.

Anyway, I was a fan of her compassionate work with charities, and she just fascinated me so much. Any time she was on a magazine cover I caved and had to buy it. So I knew I wanted to see this exhibit. I once almost traveled to Kansas City to see it. Glad I didn't, because it was much cheaper to just drive to the Mall of America and spend part of an afternoon with my cuz.

her boys who bore the brunt of her loss; poor lads

The exhibit was filled with her clothing and personal items such as toys she had played with, photo albums, and diaries. Her wedding dress and shoes were there. Her shoes were hand painted on the bottom! Tiaras, mementos, and lots of photos and video clips of her as she grew up and in her world travels. Her brother's tribute, delivered at her funeral, was displayed on the wall. You get the idea.

I don't know if I would highly recommend seeing the exhibit. It was fun for me as a fan to have a moment to remember her and enjoy seeing her photos and her clothing up close. If you weren't that into Diana, save your pennies and just Google her if you need to see more about her.

I still miss Diana and feel sad that her life was cut short so tragically. RIP, Diana.


Monday, April 23, 2012

World Book Night - What a Blast!

Today is World Book Night, USA... the first-ever. This idea started in the UK and spread to the USA. The goal is to give away one million books in one day. Free! The organization chose 30 books. Authors willingly shared them free, publishers printed a special edition free, shippers sent them free to drop-off points, volunteers picked them up and handed them out, free!! What a great concept!

I gave away Zeitoun by Dave Eggers. It's a story about a family before, during and after Katrina in New Orleans. I loved this book and was glad my request to give this one away was honored. First I stopped at McDonald's drive-through and gave away two. Then I went to Dorothy Day Center in downtown St. Paul. They serve homeless people, and I knew there would be plenty of people in their front yard and hanging around the entrance. I quickly gave away 8 books there. Some people were hesitant; some said "no" right away; others waited for me to explain and then gladly took it. I wondered if some folks assumed I was handing out Bibles and didn't want to hear any more from me.

After Dorothy Day Center I went over to the State Capitol. There were a bunch of people on the front steps. I thought they were protestors, and wondered what the issue was. Turns out it was school kids, waiting for their school bus to pick them up. It arrived, and I offered a book to the driver, but he declined. So I gave my last ten books to some adults sitting on the Capitol steps, a well-dressed legislator arriving to work, a person manning the information desk, a woman who was leaving the desk, another man who approached and was wearing something like a boy scout uniform, people of various ages and stations in life who were gathering in the Rotunda for a program of some sort.

And then I ran out of books.

It was so much fun! Most people were happy to receive a free book. The best comments I received were these:
1) "Great! I'll read it on the bus on the way home!" (a man at the State Capitol)
2) "Yes! a book about Katrina!" (woman near the Dorothy Day Center)

I gave the books to a variety of ages, both men and women, and people of at least three different ethnic groups. I am happy with how it went and hope I can do it again next year. And I really hope those 20 people love the book and maybe share it with others!

each pin represents a book-giver volunteer in this region

Sunday, April 22, 2012

www...Wow, What a Weekend!

our pastor frequently uses props

I was tired today, and I took a 2.5 hour nap! I really didn’t know I was that tired. But I guess I needed to rest.

The whole week was busy with work and meetings! Then on Friday I spent all day helping set up for a big meeting at church, running errands, forgetting things and running back to church to do just a bit more set up. (I am the local president, so I felt Responsible.) Saturday was the big meeting.. 70 people from all over the area came for an all-day meeting. It went well and was a good day. I was happy to see that we from my local church served well as hosts and helped make sure the day was pleasant for all.

Today after all the Sunday morning activities at church, I came home and collapsed. I lay down to rest, and really didn’t expect it to take 2.5 hours! I was hoping to get in some quality time with my sewing machine. I still have a couple hours, so that’s where I’m headed now… for some Sewing Therapy!

I hope my readers have a good week, and get all the rest you need!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Friday Books: Mom and Mary Sutter

This week's completed book is Please Look After Mom by Kyung-Sook Shin. This was an excellent book, read with my on-line book group. A mom of adult children goes missing. The story goes back to her earlier life, the children as they grow, and back to the current time of adult children searching for their mom.

The characters are varied and deep, and the story is beautiful, almost poetic at times. Surprising things are revealed about the mom. It really makes the reader think about family relationships, especially the life of one's mom. Does it feel like "mom has always just been mom"? You may think differently after you read this book.

Currently I am reading My Name is Mary Sutter, another excellent book. I am really amazed at how strong and resolute women had to be when they felt ambitions beyond motherhood and home care back in the days of yore. Intellectually I know it took guts and fortitude. But reading how they had to rally against the day-to-day beating down of their ambitions, and still persevere, makes me even more proud of the strong shoulders on which I stand today. If it had not been for strong foremothers, I would not be where I am today, in a happy marriage of equals, in a career that pays me a decent wage and treats me with respect, and drawing a pension with good benefits, not to mention able to own property, vote, serve on a jury trial, and have my rights defended when/if I am wronged.

I'm 33% into My Name is Mary Sutter, so that's about all I know for now. I am going to predict that I will continue to love this book and will rate it highly.

I have loved the run of excellent books I've been reading lately. All winners! Next Monday I will deliver 20 free copies of Zeitoun by Dave Eggers, as part of the USA's first year participation in World Book Night. I loved that book (read it twice) and am excited to give away some free copies. Check back in a few days and I may report on my give-away experience.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

A Quilt for a Friend

This quilt was made from a pattern called Five and Dime, published by All Washed Up Quilts. I put it together while at a retreat last fall, it was machine quilted in January, it hung in my guild show during the month of February, and I gave it to my friend, H, in April, to celebrate her birthday. I was told strictly not to give her a gift, but I disobeyed. I had to, because it had been in the works for so long, and I knew it was for her all along. Sorry, H, I had to be nice to you! (She loved it.)

I'm also making blocks for the Color Challenge over at Bumble Beans 15-Minute Play blog. She gives us an unusual color to work with every week. So far we've had mauve, ochre, and avacado. Thank goodness she shows examples, or I wouldn't even know what some of those words mean! It's fun to incorporate old colors, using more modern colors with them, and making modern quilt blocks. There is never a dull moment in the quilting world!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Is It May Yet?

(couldn't get my photo to upload.. grrr)

April has been very busy; I am glad it is half over. Half of the activities on my calendar are done. I will be thrilled when May rolls around, and ALL my April events will be done, and I can catch my breath. I have two big events this next Saturday, one on Sunday, two on Monday, and I have to work three days next week. For a semi-retired person, three work days feels like way too many!!

May used to be a super busy month. At least in the old days when we had kids at home, May was busy. May was always full of concerts, rehearsals and recitals, end-of-year significant events, graduation parties, busy things at church. Now that we have an empty nest, May isn't usually as hectic. So I'm looking forward to May for a much-needed breather.

I haven't had time to do much sewing or knitting, but I have been squeezing in some good reading. I have been on a reading rampage and almost everything I've read has been excellent. Currently I am reading My Name is Mary Sutter by Robin Oliveira. Another good one, though I'm not very far into it yet, so I could still change my mind.

Do you know that yesterday around here it was sunny and 70 degrees, and today it was in the low 40's, rainy, windy, and cold? Brrr! I almost lit a fire in our fireplace but decided not to as I was just too darn lazy. I watched "Dancing With the Stars" on TV with a quilt on my lap in lieu of a fire in the fireplace.

Oh, and hubby and I are so on-the-ball. We just finished our 2011 taxes at 10:45 PM on April 16. Why hurry with these things??

Is it May yet?

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Those Damn Quilts!

I have a blog reader who says this blog would be great if I could leave out "those damn quilts!" Hahaha! I know what he means, as he is not a quilter nor is he a connoisseur of quilts. (I wouldn't be drawn to a blog on cars, so I think I get his "damn quilts" comment.)

My blog has evolved over the years. I started out just blogging about quilts, and as a new quilter, I had to find my way in that journey. Even my beginnings as a quilt blogger morphed as I grew. With time I was less obsessed at every moment with quilts and found that I wanted to write about normal, everyday things, too. So now that's my blog: a mish mash of quilts, knitting, and stories about my life and my world.

Maybe my "damn quilts" reader will learn a tiny appreciation for quilts, eventually. Maybe my quilty readers won't mind my occasional forays into Deep Thoughts. Jumping between topics suits my ADHD personality, so it works for me. I'm grateful that a few readers have stuck with me and sometimes even leave comments.

Here is a great quote I borrowed from Me and My Quilts...Exploring the Possibilities. I love this quote. I've always felt that quilts are more than just blankets and more than just a bunch of scraps sewn together. This quote pretty much captures it, don't you think?

Feminist artist Miriam Schapiro, in her 1983 essay Geometry and Flowers, asks:

“What is a quilt? Among other things it is the history of women,
a receptacle of passions, attitudes, largess and anger.
It is a reassembling process . . . . It is inspiration, a connection with self,
the dogged will to make something extraordinary in the midst of family routine . . . .
It is also discovering that making something beautiful heals exhaustion.”

Friday, April 13, 2012

Friday Books: Making Me Think

Last week I finished The Girls Who Went Away, The Hidden History of Women Who Surrendered Children for Adoption in the Decades Before Roe v. Wade by Ann Fessler.

Great book! I always have been interested in adoption. I used to tell my mother that I planned to adopt 19 children and give birth to one. Of course, that didn't really happen once I realized I was not cut out to mother umpteen kids.

I still think about it, however. Just a few years ago, hubby and I looked into adopting a teenager out of foster care. We came very close to signing up to actually do it. We realized, though, that we were nearing the "too old and too tired" age. That would have taken a lot of energy that we felt we no longer possess. I still think about it, however, and kind of pine for those kids who need families.

Anyway, back to the book... it tells the stories of birth mothers who relinquished their babies to adoption during the early 1900s and especially after WWII, up until the mid-70s. The prevailing attitude after WWII was that girls in their teens to young twenties who were pregnant outside of marriage were not prepared to be mothers. Their babies, it was thought, would do much better in "stable" families. Most of the teen moms had no say in the matter, and having their babies removed against their will, or at least with no other options presented, proved to be life-altering and very traumatic for most of them.

I was floored, reading this book, and finding that I used to believe some of the rhetoric surrounding these thoughts. It was a riveting book and also gut-wrenching at the same time.

After I finished this, I had some mildly bad dreams about babies and adoption. I like to think that as a young woman in those times I did not blame the girls for being "sluts" as many of them were labeled. But... I was a product of my time. I probably did at least think they were the naughty girls. Little did I know I was falling for false rhetoric. Makes me sad to think of it. (At least I was savvy enough to know it wasn't fair that girls were shamed and boys got away with it or even were proud.)

There was a girl in my class who "went away" for several months, and, of course, rumors were circulating. She probably was in this same situation: pregnant, made to feel ashamed, removed from public, forced to give away her baby. Really makes me wonder about her and what that did to her and her future.

I want to make a comment on the title. I don't know why it is called " the Decades Before Roe v. Wade." That's the law that made abortions legal. The book doesn't get into the abortion question at all (or, very little). And it doesn't make the argument that adoption diminished because of abortion being a new option. Rather it tends to credit the change in thinking on how to counsel pregnant girls, making options more clear to them, and the big one: birth control being talked about openly and made much more accessible. So if you think, because of the title, that it is a pro-abortion book that you want to avoid, please don't. It's not about abortion at all and is a fascinating look at our attitudes toward adoption and toward those girls who find themselves pregnant in their teens and early twenties outside of marriage.

This was a great book. I love a book that makes me think and learn. 5 stars.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Thursday Books: Sneaking in Early

I read a book that I want to quickly review today, before my regular Friday Books review appears tomorrow. (The book reviewed tomorrow is much better than today's! Come back tomorrow and see.)

Today's book is The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch. This book was OK. Not great. I hate to dis a dying man, but I think this book was probably most meaningful to his family and personal friends. It wasn't that well written, and I just wanted it to hurry and end. He gives his ideas of life, what makes life worth living, how to face certain challenges and whatnot... ideas he would share with his young children through the years but must do quickly as he is dying of cancer.

He was a loving husband and father. My sympathies to his wife and children. I felt generous and gave this book 3 stars.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

What I Learned From a Flower

This is a tiny, blue flower that blooms in early spring. Years ago it was an Easter flower. I buried the bulb, expecting it to do nothing, but thought I'd take a chance. Lo, and behold, it appeared the following spring! It's tiny, but it's there. It comes back up every year. It makes such a brief appearance, that I often forget to even notice it before it has come and gone. Not only has it bloomed for several years, it also survived a major landscaping overhaul. Amazing!

Lately I have been feeling discouraged about an area in my life that is not going as well as I think it should. In my hubris, of course, I have been thinking that I am OK, but that the other people are lacking and need to change. I have even been thinking I should quit bothering, in this area of my life, and try another avenue.

Today I went to check on my little flower. I hadn't looked for it yet this year. There it was! In full bloom, beautiful, tenacious, mighty! I sat on the ground (well, on a sheet on the ground), communing with my little flower. I realized, with Flower's help, that I could be tenacious, too. Who's to say that a tiny effort on my part couldn't be mighty and even beautiful, like this flower?! I vowed then and there not to give up.

This is my size 9 shoe next to the flower, to show you how tiny the flower is.

I'll keep plugging along, just like my Tiny Flower Friend, and do the best I can. Maybe someone will remember to take some time to stop and notice and appreciate what I might accomplish.. and maybe they'll join me, and we can accomplish even more.

Thank you, Flower, for letting me visit with you today. I think they were right when they said "remember to stop and smell the roses." I did that today, and it was good.

Saturday, April 07, 2012

The Triumph of Easter

nothing quilty today -- I'm pondering the meaning of Easter -- read on if you would like to ponder along with me

This is a window in the church I attend. I have looked at it many times, but yesterday when photographing the window, I more fully began to ponder the human side of Jesus.

Our book group at church has read several works by Marcus Borg. Borg suggests that the divine Jesus came at the time of his resurrection. Before that, Jesus was human. This idea has greatly helped me with my understanding of Jesus. That human/divine dichotomy has always puzzled me. Jesus as a person is much easier to understand when I can think that his divine self began at the time of his resurrection.

This window shows Jesus in prayer just before all the evils of Holy Week were about to occur. He knew he was in for something horrendous. I'm sure he was afraid. He was probably praying for courage or even to be relieved of suffering. This was the human side of Jesus. He was a regular man, asking for courage to endure the upcoming agony.

He was also a great man, and had strong faith and ideals for a better world. He was not willing to give those up, even in the face of torture. There have been men and women like that in our world... and knowing what they stood up for and endured helps me to imagine how Jesus did it, too.

Now when I look at this window, I think of Jesus as a man with fears and foibles, just like the rest of us. But unlike some of us, he was very strong and steadfast. Setting aside his fears, and trusting God, he stood up for love and did not waiver. This is what we can strive for in our humanness, as well.

We will be celebrating love and its triumph on Easter Sunday. May yours be joyful, and may we all be inspired to live with courage and love as Jesus showed us how to do.

Friday, April 06, 2012

Friday Books: Kindle

Can you carry around this many books? I can -- in my Kindle!

This week I read two books that were in my Kindle.

1)The Dirty Life: On Farming, Food, and Love by Kristin Kimball. Very interesting book about a city girl who meets and falls in love with a man who wants to run a farm. Together they start a farm from scratch; this is the story of development of both the farm and their relationship. Very interesting, and I learned a lot in addition to being reminded never to attempt to be a farmer or farmer's wife myself. I would be an utter failure. 4 stars

2) Jumping Off Swings by Jo Knowles. This was a good book; I read it in about 24 hours. It was about teenagers and how the pregnancy of one girl touches so many lives, how they are carried through that experience and learn various things about themselves and others... the characters were a good mix of personalities and all were well developed, I thought. I give it 4 stars.

I am halfway through a third book (hard copy) on which I will report next Friday.

Monday, April 02, 2012

Some Stuff I Made

a hat, modeled by Shy Teddy

red scraps, made for layette kit at Rosebud

lotto blocks for Sunshine

stringthing blocks for the String Thing Along (see button in sidebar)