Friday, October 31, 2014

Friday Books: Wake

This week's book is Wake by Anna Hope. I had never heard of this book; it was suggested as a book for my book group, and at first I thought I'd skip it. I'm so glad I decided to read it. It's an excellent book about several people in the course of one week in 1920, still reeling from the effects of World War I. It takes place in England. All the characters are affected by the war in various ways. There is a lot of grief as people deal with loss or with what we now call PTSD. It's an amazing look at people's fortitude, weaknesses, loves and losses -- the general state of humanity dealing with grief and healing. This is a five-star book that I highly recommend.

book-o-lantern made by employees of Dakota County Library in Minnesota - Happy Hallloween!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Fun Stuff I Did This Weekend

When most people talk about "fun stuff they did this weekend," they usually mean things like going for a walk, having a party, going to a movie, etc. Right? Well, when I do fun stuff it usually means sewing or creating in some way. I guess you know that about me by now.

I did a bunch of sewing of Half Square Triangles. I got pretty excited/distracted with these crazy things. I was working on a plan to get other people involved... but as I worked on these four blocks, which contain 16 HSTs per block, I realized it was not realistic to expect other people to do that many triangles. (Knowing, as I do, that some quilters dislike triangles, I had to change my plans..although personally I don't see how one can make many quilts without doing triangles!) Anyway, I got these four blocks made, and now I shall contemplate what to do with them. This is the way I roll: make something and THEN plan.

the pattern is Depression Block; I found it at quilterscache

I am also working on assembling a quilt that is just squares. I got the squares free. It's kind of boring to assemble, so I interrupted myself to fly off into Triangle Land. The squares-top is about half done, so no picture yet.

Last, I did some ice-dyeing. I did a session recently in which I was very disappointed with my colors, so I was eager to have another go at it. This time my colors are much prettier. I think it may be time to add a few dyes to my collection as I feel I have so few color options.

These are baby onesies and kid-size tops. The bigger top is an adult size Small. Not sure what I'll do with these yet, but one or two of them may show up in the silent auction we are going to do at work.

I'm reading a good book, too, but didn't find enough time to devote to my book today. Wish I could add a few hours to my days!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Back in the Game

I enjoyed Friday. I slept late, spent some time catching up on emails, did some sewing (YES! - FINALLY!), and watched "The Fault in Our Stars" on Amazon Prime. I never even left the house. It was a great day.

These are some blocks I made for Sunshine.

I finally got this top quilted! It has been waiting for a long time. It'll go to Bundles of Love and is compliments of my local guild -- one of our community service quilts.

I had an event scheduled for Saturday, but it was cancelled. I couldn't be happier! I intend to spend most of Saturday at home, too. Home = Love.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Friday Books: Abandoned

This week's book: Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson. I read this book, sort of. I read the first half. I was getting bored; nothing seemed to be happening. It's about two sisters who live in a small town. Their guardians change: mom, grandmother, aunt... so their life is a bit odd, with frequent upheaval. Other than that, nothing much happens. I skimmed through the rest of the book, just to see if it would get more exciting. I couldn't tell, exactly, due to only skimming it, but I don't think I would have changed my mind. I hate to do this to a book by Marilynne Robinson; I absolutely loved her book, Gilead, and I love her writing. Yet with this one I was bored and wanted to move on to another book. I am hoping her new book, Lila, will be another one I will absolutely love. I'll read that one some time in the future.

a beautiful room in which to read

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Back Home, Exhausted

At my current place of employment I am lucky to be able to pick my own hours. I had chosen to work zero hours this week. The plan was to work on more items for the church bazaar, work AT the bazaar, and then enjoy a couple of days just doing my own thing.

Best laid plans....!! Turns out I was happy I had arranged zero work hours this week, because my mom landed back in the hospital, and I spent all week with her. I finally arrived back home tonight, Thursday, at about 8:00 PM. I'm tired!

Mom is out of the hospital and back in her home. She recovered from her Congestive Heart Failure episode. Her previous one was only two months ago. She will probably continuing having CHF bouts and at some point will not recover. The doctor said she is at Stage 3 Congestive Heart Failure. I didn't know it had stages, but I looked it up: there are only 4 stages. Stage 3 is described as follows: Marked limitation, symptoms with less than ordinary activities. Stage 4 is when one has symptoms while at rest. We don't know how much time Mom has.

Mom is living in a good place with good services. They will continue to monitor her condition. More services will be added, as needed. She had a long question/answer session with the unit coordinator today. She will be getting help with a few more activities, at least until she fully recovers and gets used to her new routine. I learned some things by sitting in on the session. I'm glad I was there to learn, and I am grateful I was able to take these days to help my mom.

Well, back at church, the bazaar and turkey dinner went on without me. I don't know how successful it all was. This is the first time I have missed it in many years. Luckily we had added another person to the area where I usually work; I'm sure they were fine without me there.

Fall colors are past peak, but still beautiful. Very soon all the leaves will fall off the trees. This is the sad part -- November approaching. I've always thought of November as the ugliest month. It's brown, often overcast (gray), and there's usually not much snow yet. Snow is so pretty after suffering through a month of brown, gray, and falling temps. Maybe that's why God gave us November: an ugly month after which we will celebrate the arrival of snow. Do you think so?

I was able to attend a choir concert at the local high school. The building is NEW and gorgeous. My great-niece is in the freshman class there. She is in the front row, 2nd from left. Her choir was excellent, and I was a proud great-aunt.

Now it's bedtime, back in my own bed tonight. What a lovely thought!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Using My Older Camera

I capitulated and got my older camera ready to go. It had been so long since I used it, I had to set everything up again, like the date and time and all that. It feels comfortable, though. My muscle memory knows just how to use it.

I took pictures of my bizarre bazaar items. Nothing very fabulous, but here goes:

potholders and knitted dish cloths

wall hanging made by an online group in a swap/round robin thing (center block is made locally by a Hmong artist)
little zipper bags and two tote bags

hats: ice dyed youth and infant hats; knitted hats

more ice dyed items: a youth shirt, socks, and hair scrunchies

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Why Must I Read the Directions?? and My Camera is MIA

My camera is missing in action, and I'm getting frustrated. Photos on my phone are not satisfying! I'm 99% sure that the camera is somewhere in this house. I must have put it somewhere stupid. I do that sometimes. Last week, for example, I was at my guild meeting, showing a purse I'm working on. It's all done except the handles. While showing the purse, I opened it up and said, "Oh! There's my phone!" I had plopped it inside there while organizing stuff to go to the meeting, and then forgot and couldn't find my phone. I must have done a similar dumb thing with my camera some time in the last ten days or so.

Jay Cooke State Park, photo from MN State Parks Facebook page

It's a bad time of year to be without my camera, because I am wanting to snap decent pictures of the gorgeous fall colors. So far I've only had the pleasure of doing so on my phone. Well, I do admit I still have my previous camera - that I used faithfully just before buying the smaller size for last year's trip to Europe. I'm afraid if I pull it out I'll have to relearn the differences between that and my more current one. Plus, I'm sure the battery is long dead. Too much work!

Lake Maria State Park, photo from MN State Parks Facebook page

Yesterday I was sewing along, using my new sewing machine, when it came time to re-thread it. The first couple of times I threaded it, I just used the little diagrams on the top of the machine, and it worked fine. Yesterday I couldn't get it right. I needed to either pull out the book of directions, or watch the sewing machine DVD how-to. Both too much work, so I swapped for my older machine with its quirks. At least I'm familiar with it and can continue to sew without stopping to learn how.

Our church bazaar is this week, Wednesday. I'm trying to finish up some stuff to have there for sale. Last night I gathered it all together and was surprised that I had as much as I did. I still want to make more, however. There are always more ideas pushing around inside my head, wanting to come out!

My mom is back in the hospital. I am too tired to do another long drive today, so I'm going to wait and go see her tomorrow. Depending on how she is doing, I may or may not be able to attend our church bazaar and turkey dinner. At least I will have made a contribution of some STUFF to sell. I hope it sells.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Friday Books -- Two Powerful Books

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr -- This is a World War II story that takes place in Germany and in France. The chapters alternate between characters. Chapters also alternate between years. You get enthralled with a story which then jumps to the near-ending, and you are wondering what happened in between. Then it goes back to the in-between, and you wonder what happens in the end of the end.

I loved this book. The style kept me curious, and I loved the characters who are pre-teens and teens. I loved their perceptions of life, their maturing, and their thoughts as war approaches. Some are more perceptive than others regarding the meaning of what is happening around them. As they mature, they begin to understand more and to learn to question their own motives/actions and how their lives affect others around them.

We see adults and townspeople, too, who are going through similar struggles. If one keeps quiet, one can keep one's own self and family safe. There is always the temptation to "tattle," thereby procuring more life-saving favors such as food. And the moral questions of interference, resistance, how far should one go in these efforts... all this comes up in this very interesting book.

After completing this book, I have continued to think about the story and characters. It packs a good, thoughtful punch.

P.S. National Book Award finalists were just announced, and this book is a finalist in the Fiction category. Winners will be announced in about a month.

Burning Down the House: The End of Juvenile Prison by Nell Bernstein -- This non-fiction book was very disturbing, but also a very important read. It tells the real story of what has been going on in juvenile detention over the years in America. It is HARD to read because of the violence and abuse perpetrated against our children. The author interviewed many children who had been or currently were in the system. Their stories are heart-wrenching.

The system is in a huge mess. It reveals euphemistic language we use that makes us think we are "helping" children who are locked up. We need to be much more clear about what really happens. I loved the question the author asks: any time a judgment is made against a child, ask yourself if that solution would be acceptable for YOUR own child. That's what we need to remember as our society deals with children who choose/fall into criminal activities.

I was afraid this book would cause me to have nightmares; thankfully, just before bedtime I reached the chapter near the end which describes changes being made across the country. The author visited a program that has been a model for others - and it is in my home state, which made me feel so happy and relieved!

We still have a lot of work to do and a lot of discussion to engage in regarding how we care for children who are caught up in the criminal justice system. Everyone should read this book so that we can address this question together.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The Calendar Marches On

Last Saturday my aunt's memorial service took place. It was a wonderful service; so fun to see some friends and relatives I hadn't seen in a while. Also we were pleased to see how many lives my aunt has touched. The church was full! The music and the vignettes of her life were awesome. After the service, husband and I drove my mom back to her home, 150 miles away. She is now the last remaining sibling from her family of origin. How odd that must feel.

Mom appears to be losing her zest for life. I don't know how else to describe it. Physically I guess she's OK for her age. It's a journey of unknowns, that's for sure.

My focus now has switched to preparing items for our church bazaar which is next week, Oct. 22. I am enjoying getting to know my new sewing machine and making little zipper coin purses, and also a regular size purse which I might not put in the bazaar.. too many hours went into that construction for it to sell for an inappropriate price. (People don't want to pay much for items they purchase at a church bazaar; prices must be kept low.) Some of the fabrics in my little coin purses were free donations, so I don't mind selling them for just a pittance.

I have several more ideas and hope I can find enough hours to get all the items made in time.

Fall colors are at their peak in my area of the state.. gloriously beautiful! I love this time of year.

Monday, October 13, 2014

More AQS Photos

Finally, more photos. Here you go:

First photo, I did not get the maker's name.
Second photo is by Mary Reinhardt, Jan Malmquist, and Dee Legvold.

Below: Best of Show by Kathi Carter
I checked the AQS web site for winners' names and was confused when I saw this one listed twice, with two different names and categories. So, this is made either by Margaret Solomon Gunn or Joann Webb.

First one below is by Elaine Krajenke Ellison. Second one below: I loved it and would have given it some kind of award if I'd been a judge. It is called Celtic Visions and is by Lily Kangas of Canada.

First below: by Karen Kirkland
Second: by Misik Kim (South Korea)
Third: by Rosalie Dace (South Africa)

Below: a detail of Ms Kim's quilt, second is by Deirdre McConathy, third one - I didn't get the maker's name

Below: my detail shots show the makers' names. These were both very cool.. such tiny pieces, and the second one is mostly done with thread for that great sky effect

I have a few more photos, but I think I'm going to stop with these. A person could go on and on.. such beautiful quilts and superb talent on display. It was awesome to see.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Friday Books: Reading in Iowa

I do not have a book report for you this week, I am sorry to say. I am about halfway through All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. So far it is excellent.

Instead of a book review, I will share a couple of pictures taken while attending the AQS (American Quilting Society) show in Des Moines last weekend. This first one I love. Quilting, as you can guess, is mostly a hobby taken up by women If men are around, they are often just waiting for their Significant Other to finish whatever shopping or browsing she is doing. This guy was reading, in a prominent waiting spot, surrounded by no one. His Whoever-He-Was-With was sure to spot him as she (or it could be a he) departed from the show area. Disclaimer: I realize there are also many men heavily involved in quilting, but I don't think this man was one of those guys.

This reader was a little removed from the actual door area and was snuggled up next to the column. Not as prominent as the previous guy. Whatever. I just love that they were both occupying their time by reading.

This is my cousin reading on our last day in Des Moines.

I know I promised more quilt photos -- they are coming! Time has gotten away from me this week, and I haven't been able to be as prompt as I wanted. I'm hoping to get the photos up some time this weekend. Until then, keep reading!

Monday, October 06, 2014

Gorgeous Quilts at AQS

As promised, here are more photos of quilts at the AQS show in Des Moines 2014. Feast your eyes!

First I am showing shots taken inside the condo we rented. Two friends are showing the prep work they did for the class they took. The dice are from a game which we adapted: "make a quilt block with your dice!" And there is a cool bridge over the river in Des Moines.

Next three photos are quilts for which I did not get the maker's name.. the close-up shot is just a close-up; I have no photo of the whole quilt.

by Jeri Fickes

a selvage quilt by Mayleen Vinson

This is Best of Show in the Modern Quilt category, made by Doris Brunnette and Trina Kirkvold.

First photo is the work we did in the class I took. My blocks are on the bottom right, the last two blocks in that row. For the next three I don't have the makers' names; the black background quilt was in a display of quilts from Egypt.

I loved this quilt from Netherlands!
quilt is by Janneke de Vries-Bodzinga

Hope you have enjoyed these photos. Join me again in the next day or two to see more photos of gorgeous quilts from AQS.