Saturday, November 30, 2013

Friday Books: Another Week

This is another week without a Friday Books report (not to mention that I am posting this on Saturday). I couldn't find my Kindle for the longest time, and I wasn't inspired by any of my hard copy books. Sometimes I get in reading slumps. A couple of days ago I did finally start a book, and then (hooray!) I found my Kindle! I should be back in the game soon.

Meanwhile I'll show you this little doll quilt I made this weekend. After Thanksgiving I have taken time to sew, and I'm having a blast. First, I splurged and bought a Christmas outfit for one of my dolls. She wears size Preemie.

And the other doll, who loves pink, models the pink doll blankie.

Keep on reading!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

A Quilt for Margaret's Hope Chest

This quilt is going to Margaret's Hope Chest, to the program for women overcoming post-partum depression. It was a long time in coming.... I saved floral fabrics for a couple years, then about two years ago I made this top. Then I eventually had it quilted by Diane S. who volunteered to do some of my charity quilts for free. Then it sat around for another many months, and I finally got the binding on it this week. I promised it to Margaret's Hope Chest for November, and I barely have days left in November in which to get it posted in the mail. Sometimes a deadline is a good thing! Hoping whoever gets this quilt loves it up.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Some Thoughts on Goodwill

I just watched a clip at Facebook regarding Goodwill and the low wages they pay some of their workers, while the CEO and regional managers rake in high salaries.

First, I was not impressed with the CEO and his comments. He called his critics "elitists," a very patronizing attitude while trying to sound professional. And he spoke in gobbledy-gook without really answering some of the reporter's questions.

However, even though my experience with Goodwill is VERY limited, it has been positive: when I worked in a public school, we had training programs aligned with Goodwill. Our students would get training at Goodwill for various types of work, then they would do job try-outs. During this job trial period, they would get paid a stipend. It was very low... about $2.00/hour. BUT, it was for a limited time, and it was considered to be part of the training experience. First they would be trained, then they would be put into the job to learn hands-on; the bit of pay was considered part of their training -- how to earn paychecks, how to deposit into the bank, how absence or illness affects one's pay, etc. Because we were a non-profit, we did not have deep pockets for paying a full salary, and the stipend was an experiential learning tool.

I believe that SOME of what the reporter was looking at was a similar thing. I noticed the very low pay rates were listed as "under contract," which to me implied that they were in a training period similar to what I just described. It seems, however, that some Goodwill locations are taking advantage of this and paying skilled workers for too long at this lower pay.

Here in Minnesota I did not ever see or hear of workers being taken advantage of so blatantly. It could be happening, but I wasn't aware of it. Many of our students, after receiving training, were then hired as regular workers at a variety of places such as Target, Goodwill itself (at minimum wage or higher), and other retail locations. They also had a banking training program which led to excellent jobs in banks, a forklift training, and an auto detailing training. Every staff member I met at Goodwill was kind hearted and interested in helping people learn. The training programs were quite good and were important stepping stones for our students.

After watching the short clip on Facebook, some readers announced, "I will never donate to Goodwill again!" I don't think this is the right response. The people affected by a dip in inventory are guess who... the disabled workers you are trying to protect. Without supplies and donations, how would they keep people employed and continue to run their training programs? I agree that the CEOs (and their board of directors, if there is one) need to take a serious look at the problem, but I urge us regular folks to continue to support Goodwill (at least here in Minnesota where I think it appears to be working well). Take other steps to communicate your dislike of the low pay situation. Contact the National Federation of the Blind to see how you can jump on their bandwagon and help create change. Don't take a drastic step of hurting your local Goodwill stores which may be far removed from the problem you saw portrayed in the Facebook clip.

That's my take on the story. Remember that a reporter's story must be short and by nature leaves out a lot of the ins and outs of the real situation. What must be done is not always so clear-cut. Learn more about it before you abandon Goodwill entirely. And definitely, if a change is needed (which it appears to be, at least in some areas), work for that change while protecting the rights of the currently employed.

That's my two cents worth!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

A Baby Quilt for "Our Boy"

The family that my church adopted for Christmas has three kids. One is a boy who is one year old, and whose Christmas list asked for a blanket. Well.. you know I snatched that one right up so I could give him a quilt.

I had this top already made. It is made of the leftover 2.5-inch squares I used for a Halloween craft project at our Trunk 'N Treat event. The backing fabric is one I purchased in Germany.

I completed the quilting and binding today, on a cold stay-indoors-kind-of November day. I'm glad I found someone special to give it to.

I hope "our boy" enjoys this nice, warm quilt!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Friday: Fifty Years Ago

I have no book report today, but I do have two quilt finishes and then some brief thoughts on the history of today, fifty years ago.

I finished the binding on these two quilts. I'm pleased with how they turned out; they were nicely quilted by Quilted Treasures in Rogers, Minnesota.

Everyone who doesn't have their head in the sand knows that today is the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. So I will briefly share with you my Kennedy assassination week memories.

I was 11 years old and in the 6th grade... old enough to understand that what had happened was shocking and horrible. (I had no understanding of the politics and the factions of disagreement and the goings on that may have led to this, of course.. only knew that it was a terrible thing.) The school office broadcast the radio announcements over the PA system. After a while we all were sent to the gym for free play time, because the teachers were unable to carry on.

Like everyone else in America that day and that week, my family and I watched the news very attentively. On Monday when it was the day of Kennedy's funeral, my best friend's father died very suddenly. He was a well known and well liked man in our small town. That poor town had two big shocks that week. And of course, it forever altered my friend's life. She was also 11, and losing her dad was huge.

Since then I can't think of the Kennedy assassination without also thinking of my friend and her family's big loss. The memories are closely tied together. Today I especially think of my friend, L, and her siblings who have an important anniversary this week. May they feel warmed by happy memories of their dad.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Sewing and Life

I haven't been in a bloggy mood lately. I was really hoping I'd have more progress to report. Alas, progress has been slow lately. I'll show you what I have, as it is.

First is a mini I made. It is 10" x 13". The little squares are only 2.5" raw.. finished to 2 inches. It was fun to make such tiny pieces go together. See the little pinwheel in the top left corner block? I made that at the retreat, and then lost it for a few days, but later it was found, so I was happy to put it into this quilt.

I made these two tops last weekend when I finally had extended time and motivation to sew. Sunshine's Lotto blocks call for fall colors this month, so I decided to make a whole top instead of a few blocks. The bigger top will go to Quilts Beyond Borders, and the smaller one will be for Wrap a Smile. Smaller one is still under production, as you can see.

The rest of these are just for fun. I liked the look of that building with the little door standing open. It reminds me of the hay mow I used to play in with my friends on their farm, when we were kids. The hay mow door was much bigger than this, of course. Then there were some leaves immortalized in this piece of sidewalk. I thought it was quite pretty.

And I had time to stop at my niece's house and visit with my great-niece and great-nephew. Little Guy let me hold him and even rock him to sleep. That was way fun!

I'm hoping for more sewing time this next weekend. I have so many tops that need to be finished! That chore is next on my list.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Shelter Box for Philippines

I added a link on my sidebar -- my fundraising page for ShelterBox. Our team is trying to raise enough money to send one Shelter Box to Philippines (each box is $1,000). The box provides a tent and other survival items for a family after a disaster. Each box is custom tailored for the area in which it is given (e.g. warmer items for cold climates). With so many people left homeless after the huge hurricane in Philippines, they need us all to step up. Can you help a little or a lot?

Any help is much appreciated!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Friday Books: Nerburn, Dan, Grover, Winona, and Jumbo

The Girl Who Sang to the Buffalo: A Child, an Elder, and the Light from an Ancient Sky is another fabulous book by Kent Nerburn. This one follows Neither Wolf nor Dog: On Forgotten Roads with an Indian Elder and The Wolf at Twilight: An Indian Elder's Journey through a Land of Ghosts and Shadows. In this one Nerburn has another adventure in Lakota Indian country (South Dakota) with his friends Dan, Grover, Winona, and Jumbo. He learns many amazing things, deepens his friendships, and we, as readers, are privy to much wisdom and knowledge from them all.

This book gives historical account of an asylum that was built in Canton, South Dakota. It was an "asylum for insane Indians." Of course many people incarcerated there were not crazy but only held strongly to their culture, language, and beliefs which differed from white society. One of these was a little girl who was deaf. Imagine her fear and confusion upon being put into such a place! The conditions there were terrible: people were chained to their beds and left for days with no services but a tiny bit of awful food.

I have said before and will say again -- I continue to try hard to get my mind into the mode of Lakota culture, to better understand their perspective on the world. I wish I could achieve this to a deeper degree; I'm still trying, and this book is an enormous help.

This book has stayed with me; I am nurturing its lessons in my mind and pondering its meanings. This book is profound. I'm so thankful for Nerburn's books and the lessons he shares with us through his friends Dan, Grover, Winona, Jumbo, and others. I highly recommend all three of these wonderful books.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Crazy Week

Last weekend I went to a quilt retreat. I'm always tired when I come home from those things, but it's a happy tired. I had a good time, as always.

I came home Sunday afternoon, and that evening Husband got a call from his parents. His father wasn't feeling good, and they wondered if he could drive father to the Emergency Room. Off he went, and he was gone a long time. When he had gone to pick up his father, the sight was difficult to see.. his father was bent over double in severe pain and moaning. Mind you, his father is 93 years old, so anything that appears to be severe is a little unnerving.

Husband spent all day Monday at the hospital, and we didn't know much until late in the day. They finally decided they had to do surgery to remove father's gall bladder and decided to do it then and there, on Monday night. I joined the entourage at the hospital and kept watch during surgery. Father-in-Law had been a tad nervous about the risks. The docs had to be honest and tell him that the risks were higher for him because of his age and because of his heart condition. He didn't like hearing it, but they had to be forthright.

Luckily, he came through surgery fine. He stayed in the hospital several days, so there were a lot of messages flying around, and people going to visit as they could. When one is 93, a longer hospital stay is in order after surgery. My brother-in-law, in comparison, had his gall bladder removed and went home the same day (he was in his 40s at the time).

All this meant long nights and short sleeps. In addition, this week I had three evening meetings and two day-time commitments (not even counting work). Husband was also coming and going from his work to do hospital duty for his father and chauffeur duty for his mother. It has been a whirlwind, and came on top of already being tired from my quilty weekend.

Father-in-Law went home today; all the excitement has a happy ending. Hooray! On Saturday I intend to sleep in and then to take it easy and do a lot of nothing.

P.S... I added a "follow this blog by e-mail" button in my side-bar. Someone once asked me for it, and I wasn't sure how to do it. I think this should work. My list of followers had turned blank, for some reason, so I took it as a sign to give the e-mail option a try. If you sign up, you'll get an e-mail informing you when I add a new post to this blog.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

The Beds Tour

At our annual guild retreat... we do a bedroom tour to see the quilts people brought along to sleep under. I sometimes ask you to guess which one is mine. This year I forgot to take a picture of my own bed!

Friday, November 08, 2013

Friday Books: Terezin

...I Never Saw Another Butterfly... Children's Drawings and Poems from Terezin Concentration Camp, 1942-1944; edited by Hana Volavkova

Last month I was lucky to have the opportunity to visit Terezin, a former concentration camp in Czech Republic. On one side of town is the fortress where they kept adult prisoners. In the town itself, every resident was evacuated, and the town was taken over by Nazis. Children lived in a barracks/prison in the town, while the regular housing was used by Nazis.

There were no amenities for the children, of course, but adults arranged secret schooling for them. There they concentrated many lessons on art work: drawing, painting, making of collages, and writing poems and stories. Thousands of these pieces of art were found in a suitcase stuck on a shelf, years after the war, and are now housed in a museum in Prague. This book is a small collection of some of those art pieces.

Terezin (German name: Theresienstadt) is known as the town that was dressed up, fancified for the visit from a commission from the International Red Cross. Some of the children write of the phenomenon of suddenly seeing gardens, pretty signs, and fake coffee houses and shops. The Red Cross group either fell for it, or reported positively because they believed they could do nothing about it. To this day it is still unknown which is true.

The poems are amazing and moving. I was especially touched after having seen the adult fortress and the current (now peaceful and pretty) town of Terezin. To have walked in the shadows of those lost souls is an amazing experience. Over 15,000 children under the age of 15 passed through Terezin. Only 100 survived.

This book honors the lives of the children who passed through Terezin and were given the chance to learn and create, temporarily giving them a glimmer of hope and expression. A lovely, touching book.

Monday, November 04, 2013

Blog 4 Peace Day!

Today is Blog Blast 4 Peace Day... I've been pondering this topic and not sure what I would write about. Peace is a seemingly simple thing, yet it's not at all. It's deep and complicated. It's not just the absence of war. I believe the Buddhists have come pretty close to an understanding of peace and how to achieve it. Being mindful, enjoying every moment, sharing your joys, and devoting one's life to this process. It's not just an inner achievement, but should also be shared and encouraged so that peace can spread and shape our world.

We're a long way from it these days. What's weighing heavily on my heart currently is the killing of innocent children, grandmothers, families through the drone attacks carried out by my home land, the USofA. It breaks my heart. At first I wanted to believe that the government was being very careful in discerning who they targeted. The more I learn about it, the less trust I have in this program. I believe it should be halted completely. Too many innocent people are dying. This is not the path to peace.

In my quest for peace I am going to try to be mindful of my every move today, will try to be kind to people, will pray for peace and for the cessation of the drone attacks, and I will write to President Obama and to my congress reps to encourage them to stop the drones.

May peace prevail. See other blog blasts here.