Saturday, July 23, 2016

Friday Books: The Map of True Places

I'm calling this book review "Friday Books," because that's what I have always called it. I'll keep calling it that, even when I post it on a day that is not Friday -- like today.

This week's book is The Map of True Places by Brunonia Barry. This is a book I picked up from a Little Free Library in Kurri Kurri, New South Wales, Australia. At the time I didn't examine it closely enough to realize that it is a book about and made in the good old USA. It lost its "romance" for me a little (but not completely) when I saw that it is not an Australian book. I still have good memories of being in Australia and finding the Little Free Library from which to take a book. (I left a book about Minnesota for them to read.) So I had fond feelings of the book while reading it, even though I didn't love the story.

The book is about a woman, Zee, who is a psychologist. Zee's client dies by suicide, which throws Zee into a soul-searching depression. She re-examines her own childhood, sorting out who she really is and where she is going (using a new "map," hence the title of the book). Her life, like all of ours, has taken some twists and turns about which she must ponder and make some decisions. Meanwhile, new twists and turns continue to happen, of course.

I would suggest this as a good vacation read - interesting, entertaining, but not great. Characters are a little too pat and predictable, but overall it's a good story.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

House Guests: A Story

I have been living a very interesting New Experience. I mentioned a couple months ago that I was cleaning out a bedroom for a friend, CR, who was going to move in. She did move in, on May 5, with her newborn baby. She is someone I knew back when I was a full time working woman. We kept in loose touch over the years, and this year we re-connected in a more regular way when I found out that she was pregnant and homeless.

First I tried to help her find housing. She got into a place, very temporarily. Then we had to search again. You would be amazed at how hard we tried and how many "no"s we had to listen to. There was no room anywhere. (We obviously do not have enough shelters and helpful places for people in emergency need.)

Finally I got her a hotel room and called on my friends, near and far, to help pay for the room. I was amazed at the out-pouring of love in the form of helping to pay for the hotel. We kept her there safe and warm for just over two weeks.

Eventually she ended up in the hospital with early labor. And she actually never left the hospital, because her baby, TR, was born prematurely, at 26 weeks gestation. He weighed only 2 lbs 1 oz!!

TR was strong right from birth. He progressed through the NICU stages quickly. He gained weight, he had very few setbacks and no major crises. It was a miracle. On May 5 he was allowed to leave the hospital, just a couple of weeks before what was his original due date. They moved into my house, because they had no other place, and because I wanted to help keep TR out of foster care.

CR has been a pleasant house guest, and her baby is adorable. I rarely hear him at night, and after only a couple of months he started sleeping through the night. He is sweet, loving, and very lovable. I have had SO MUCH FUN helping take care of him. He and I are buddies.

I have been learning a lot through this New Experience. First I was surprised at how easily one can fall through the cracks of public assistance and find oneself out on a limb with no safety net. I naively thought that offering someone a safe, stable place to live would solve many problems. Well, yes and no. It did, but it didn't. Mostly it has helped ME learn more about the lives of people who can't always count on having a safe place to crash.

CR and TR get help from various agencies. Sometimes county people come to our house to check on the baby and talk about baby care, parenting, and many other issues. The help has been excellent. CR and TR are my friends, and I love them. I am grateful for the opportunity to learn and to be part of their lives. I am not telling this story so you can think I'm wonderful for opening up my home. Instead I am telling you this story because I want you to know that people are complicated. Solutions are not easy. What we think might be a quick fix, often isn't. We need to be patient with each other and love each other more.

In these days of terror and unrest, let's just remember that part... accept each other wherever we are in life. Love each other. Don't judge. And give those sweet babies lots of hugs every chance we get.

Friday, July 15, 2016

More Finishes!

I have more completed quilts to show you. I have been churning out bindings like there's no tomorrow. Hooray for finishes! And hooray for catching up on all my bindings... now I can start machine quilting again, or even creating more tops. Too much fun!

Thursday, July 14, 2016

A Journal Cover

I made a journal cover. I love how it turned out, but I tell you... I do struggle with sewing things that have to fit perfectly. This is definitely a tight fit! The last ones I made were too loose. This is why I love sewing quilts (among many other reasons). They don't have to "fit"!

The tutorial for this is, I believe, at Wanda's blog, Exuberant Color. However I received it from Julie at Me and My Quilts. Thank you, Wanda and Julie.

These are all batiks except for one fabric which is printed to look like a batik. Can you guess which one it is?

Wednesday, July 13, 2016


I have some completed quilts to show you!

I love this orange one. I made it a few months ago, just for fun. I finally put on the binding today.

I have a couple more that are done and just need binding. I've been on a sewing jag, and it feels great!

Friday, July 08, 2016

Guest Blogger: When People are Dehumanized

I was trying to come up with something to say about the horrific events going on in the USA. I couldn't write anything better than my nephew did. This was his recent entry at Facebook, and he gave me his permission to share it with you here. Wisdom from my nephew, Adrian Cowles:

Reflecting today on the tragedies in Baton Rouge, Falcon Heights, and now Dallas, I'm thinking about dehumanization. These people died not because of who they were or what they did, but because of the color of their skin or the color of their uniform. In the wake of such events, the fact that we often view others monolithically is brought into focus. We think we know people because of one characteristic. We think we know them because they're black; they're white; they're a cop; they're a parolee; they're a Christian; they're a Muslim; they're a Democrat; they're a Republican; they're straight and cisgendered; they're a member of the Queer community; the list goes on. We have become enemies. Members of the police and the black community view each other as enemies. Democrats and Republicans are enemies. I don't see how anything can change without a shift in these paradigms.

I'm sure we've all seen a lot of things we disagree with on social media these past few days. Things that may make us want to scream, unfollow, or unfriend. Sometimes this may be necessary, but I wish that more often we'd try to talk to and understand each other instead of cutting ties. How else can any of us grow and learn? Part of that goes back to my problem with social media. I think it's far from the ideal venue for such conversations. But these are important conversations and they must be had. That's easier said than done, and if you're at all conflict averse like me, it can be a daunting prospect, but having that dialogue is essential. Many exhortations have been made that we must not remain silent. However, speaking up doesn't do any good if it's only with people who agree with us.

To directly address what happened in Dallas, it is a horrific tragedy and a senseless waste of life. But here's the difference between what happened in Dallas and what happened in Baton Rouge and Falcon Heights. The perpetrator in Dallas is dead. His death cannot bring anyone back but there's been a clear recognition that what he did was wrong and punishment has been delivered.

If historical precedence tells us anything, neither officer who shot and killed Alton Sterling and Philando Castile will be punished at all. This is a pattern we've seen over and over and it's a systemic problem. That is why black lives matter exists. Because time and time again when the final verdict is read (if it even gets that far), the message that the black community receives is "your lives don't matter."

I have to believe that listening to each other and behaving compassionately can begin to change things. You can call me idealistic. Or worse names if you so choose. But I know hatred and violence only begets more hatred and violence, and I for one want to try to go another way, individually and societally.

pictures from a rally in Minnesota ... the young man who was killed in a suburb of St. Paul was an employee of St. Paul Schools and well liked by the children at his school. The other photo is his sister. Photos by Rubin Latz.

Sunday, July 03, 2016

..And More Finishes

I have been on a huge sewing jag this weekend. What fun! For once I felt like I could ignore all other chores and devote my complete attention to sewing. Here are a few more things I completed (or started).

This is a panel, obviously, to which I added a border, obviously. Several panels were sent out by the Professor who bought them for a song at her guild. They were a Sunshine challenge, of sorts. We were joking that the "winner" should be awarded this flowered handbag. We are all pleading that we don't deserve to win! haha

Here is a heart block I made for Pulse. (See the button in my sidebar.)

And I got caught up on my weather quilt. We (in a weather quilt group) are half done! Six months of daily highs are depicted here:

I also made 44 Omaha blocks (no picture) and 26 Tahoe blocks that look like this:
These are all for an event that will take place one YEAR from now. I am working way ahead.

What else might I finish in the next days and weeks? I hope this sewing binge continues.......

To my USA readers, Happy Independence Day!

Saturday, July 02, 2016

Some Finishes

I have been having fun finishing some projects.

This is a baby quilt. I let the mom pick out the backing fabric. I am still hoping to get a photo of Baby with the quilt.

This is another small baby quilt. I will donate this one. There are a couple of possible recipients, and I haven't decided yet which one it will go to.

This is my favorite of the three. I love how it turned out. I wasn't so sure, until it got all, completely done. Hubby held it up for me to photograph, and I was stunned. It looked gorgeous! I'm very happy. I keep forgetting the pattern name, but it's a pattern by Gudrun Erla in her book called Big Blocks.

Today I plan to do more sewing and maybe even another finish or two! Happy weekend, everyone.

Friday, July 01, 2016

Is it Friday Already?

How can it already be Friday? I haven't finished a book. I'm barely into one that I started several days ago. I think I have decided to slow down in my reading and enjoy it 100% rather than trying to push myself to finish a book each week. I always love reading, but I wanted to stop that inner pressure to get it done by Friday each week. So my Friday Books post won't necessarily be happening every Friday. I think you've already seen that pattern anyway. I started living it before I gave it a name and announced it.

So instead of a book review, I will show you this lovely painting which was part of the exhibit at the Museum of Russian Art that I recently visited in Minneapolis. I love this painting.

If it's as gorgeous where you are as it is where I am, we should both be outside reading like the woman in this painting. Here we go!