Friday, September 29, 2006

Rant


I feel a major rant coming on. Just so you know.
. . . .
The number of blatant advertisement pages on Blogger is increasing at a huge rate. It is becoming less and less fun to hit "Next Blog" and see what pops up.
. . . .
And, to add insult to injury, these advertisements pages don't have the little bar at the top where you can click "Next" and move on. Seems there are only two ways to get off the page once you land there: (a) to close the browser and (b) to hit "Back" and then hit "Next Blog" again and hope for better results.
. . . .
I think these things are coming out of Google and frankly I would have expected better of them.
. . . .
Today I clicked "Next Blog" and this one came up:
You don't need to click it to see what it is. Just trust me when I tell you that IMNSHO any site called migrane prevention lacks credibility from the get-go.
. . . .
AAARGH.
. . . .
Again I say it: AAARGH.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Three Things


THREE THINGS THAT SCARE ME:
01 When Joe is driving all alone late at night
02 Sudden loud noises
03 "Near misses" in the car

THREE PEOPLE WHO MAKE ME LAUGH:
01 Tom
02 Joe
03 Honna

THREE THINGS I LOVE:
01 Sewing
02 Reading
03 Naps on rainy Sunday afternoons

THREE THINGS I HATE:
01 Okra
02 Hypocrisy
03 Abuse and torture

THREE THINGS I DON'T UNDERSTAND:
01 How to make a list and cross things off in blogger
02 Why some people take great offense when they're making noise in my office and I ask them to wait in the lobby
03 Why the time goes by so fast anymore

THREE THINGS ON MY DESK:
01 Flowers
02 Folders
03 Green pen

THREE THINGS I'M DOING RIGHT NOW:
01 Blogging
02 Listening to WRTI FM
03 Planning dinner

THREE THINGS I WANTTO DO BEFORE I DIE:
01 Go to Sweden
02 Make a quilt for each new grandchild
03 Go to California and visit Jan and Kathy

THREE THINGS I CAN DO:
01 Start a new list at Yahoogroups
02 Roast vegetables
03 Buttonhole stitch very nicely

THREE WAYS TO DESCRIBE MY PERSONALITY:
01 Funny
02 Good listener
03 Hospitable

THREE THINGS I CAN'T DO:
01 Turn a cartwheel
02 Knit
03 Make cream brulee

THREE THINGS ITHINK YOU SHOULD LISTEN TO:
01 Your spouse
02 Your kids
03 Good music

THREE THINGS I DON'T THINK YOU SHOULD LISTEN TO EVER:
01 Opera
02 People who belittle you
03 Dogs barking at night

THREE OF MY ABSOLUTE FAVORITE FOODS:
01 Honna's mushrooms
02 Rizzo's pizza
03 Joe's french toast

THREE THINGS I'D LIKE TO LEARN:
01 A handful of useful Swedish phrases
02 How to make big fabric letters like Tonya's
03 How to get off of Ashbourne Road

THREE BEVERAGES I DRINK REGULARLY:
01 Water
02 Skim milk
03 Coffee

THREE SHOWS I WATCHED WHEN I WAS A KID:
01 I Remember Mama
02 Howdy Doody
03 I Love Lucy

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Stressed? Me?

Your Stress Level is: 32%

You are slightly prone to stress, but generally you keep it under control.
You know how to relax and take things as they come, even when your worlds seems to be falling apart.
Occasionally, you do let yourself get stressed out, but you snap out of it pretty quickly.

Cage of Stars


Haven't done a book review here lately. It's maybe time. My system for getting book recommendations is through Amazon. They recommend books based on my ratings of previous books. I get the books from the library and read them. I rate them. Amazon recommends more. It is a never ending supply of recommendations and it is free!
. . . .
Cage of Stars had been on my recommendations list for a long time before I went for it. Once I got it, I sailed right through it. It is an easy read. This is not to say it is a fluffy read. The book deals with some very important questions about reconciliation, forgiveness, retribution, family influence, religious doctrine and choices. One of the things I liked about it was that it allowed for a person to not know why she had done something. Because sometimes that is how it is.
. . . .
The weakness in this book is the number of coincidences which are explained by an Asian philosophy about things being connected by a red thread. The last link of that red thread was a stretch for me, but I'm used to working with cotton thread, not elastic . . . .
. . . .
In the opening pages of the book, Ronnie's sisters are murdered by a madman. The rest of the book is about her coming to terms with this. Interestingly,the doctrine of Ronnie's religion, the Church of the Latter Day Saints, plays an important part. I don't know that I've ever read a novel where there were Mormon characters or, better said, where it was important that the characters were Mormons. I learned a few very positive things about a faith tradition that mainstream Protestant denominations regard with suspicion at best, and often with disdain.
. . . .
Cage of Stars held my interest all the way through. At times it caused a lump to form in my throat. I would give it a B. Maybe a B+.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Next Blog


So, do you ever look at the Next Blog? You know, click that little icon that appears usually in the upper right hand corner of the Blog? Out of curiosity one day, I clicked it. And a random blog appeared. It was written by a very earnest new mom in Kansas who seemed to be as delighted with her infant as I am with Sam.
. . . .
From time to time, I'll click Next Blog and see what comes up. I've learned that there are a lot of fundamentalist Christian bloggers, a passle of home-schooling mom bloggers, lots of bloggers who write in a script or character set that is foreign to me, and a bunch of pure advertisement blogs.
. . . .
There are countless lovesick teen blogs, bloggers who blog about their boring jobs and sometimes castigate their colleagues, at least one very talkative dentist blogger, more knitter/bloggers than I could count (knit one, purl two), a whole crowd of photographer bloggers who post beautiful images, and so much more. It's a whole nuther world out there.
. . . .
Then there are the pornographic bloggers. When one of those blogs pops up (you should pardon the expression) as Next, I find I quickly look over my shoulder -- even if I am home alone -- to make sure no one is seeing that I am actually viewing this thing. I scurry to find the Next button and hope for a poet, a wine taster, or even a politician.
. . . .
One morning I got to work early and checked my email. The newly installed Blogarithm service notified me that Desertsky had a new post, so before I started my work, I looked to see what she was doing. She was putting blue and cream fabrics together in a very pleasing way. Nice. Somehow I reflexively clicked Next and what was Next was a group of well-endowed African-American gentlemen investing their endowments in each others' various orifices. Frozen, fascinated, all I could think of was that now this page was in the History of my computer at work. As I navigated away I had a vision of our tech person, Hoss, being so disappointed in me. And then I realized that he prolly has much more important work to do other than check my History. At least I hope he does.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Coincidence?


This picture is the Japanese word for peace. I found it through Google images. There were several different versions, and I imagine the variations came from individual handwriting.
. . . .
Peace and Justice is a theme that has been on my mind for some months now. I've been tuned in when friends from different churches make reference to the Peace and Justice Committee at those churches. Our church does not have such a committee. Yet.
. . . .
This morning, in the span of ten minutes, I received two emails. The first came through my school email account and was from the Upper School Director of Quakerism. Jim wrote: Today is the International Day of Peace. There will be a one minute moment of silence held throughout the world as each time zone reaches 12:00 noon.
. . . .
The second email came through my personal account and was from my friend Frank. He wanted to share his newest poem. You can read it by clicking the link "Frank's Poetry" to the right.
. . . .
Coincidence? I think not.

The Light of My Life


Sam is nearly eight months old now, and he gets more amazing and wonderful every time I see him. He's cheerful and happy most of the time, with this grin that just lights up the room. He reaches for things he wants and shoves them into his mouth, sits in his highchair with us at the dinner table, and has many other tricks. An interesting one is a kind of Lazy Susan technique -- when on the floor on his belly, he'll whirl around to grab things and to get a better view of what catches his eye. He's this close to crawling. But the best thing, of course, is that now if someone is holding him and I come over, he will reach out his arms to come to me. And I just melt.

Monday, September 11, 2006

September 11, 2006


It has been five years now, and many more lives have been so senselessly lost. That, however, it not what I want to focus on today. Instead, I want to raise a message of hope. I work at a Quaker school. On the first anniversary of September 11, I wrote the following piece:
. . . .
On 9-11, the Sixth Grade opted to hold MFW in a circle on the front lawn, gathering around the peace flag. I knew I didn't have an hour to go with Upper School, so I went out and joined Sixth. This was my first experience at MFW with other than 9-12th grades.
. . . .
Two of the faculty spoke, as did about a dozen kids. They were all articulate and sensitive, sharing messages of sadness and of the need to “move on.” Some mentioned an increased awareness of the importance of being kind.
. . . .
One little girl in a rose-colored top spoke so earnestly. She said that today was her birthday and while it did not seem right to celebrate, a part of her wanted to celebrate, for she was thankful to be alive. She spoke with this amazing maturity, indicating that she believed that over time she would become used to having this infamous birthday. But today it was hard.
. . . .
After the rise of the Meeting, I went over to find her. I told her today was my son's birthday, too, and that he lived in New York City. Her eyes became very wide. I told her that I couldn't hug him on his birthday, and I hadn't been able to hug him on his birthday LAST year, when both of us really needed to hug. I asked her if she would consider letting me hug her for her birthday. She didn't hesitate for a minute. She opened her heart, she opened her arms, and we had this wonderful long tight hug. We don't even know each other's names. I came back to my desk with very wet eyes.
. . . .
Thinking of Tom, and my old friends Brenda, Fran, Paul, and Woody's Mom and the 6th grade girl in the rose-colored top, and what a mixed up day this is for them, the 9-11 birthday people. And celebrating their being alive and serving as a real, tactile reminder that life goes on.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Coming Out


We moved back to Glenside almost exactly twenty-six years ago, after spending the first thirteen years of our married life in the South (at the whim of the United States Navy) and in the Midwest (Joe's college, graduate school, and first jobs). I told my mother that I hoped it wasn't too late to register to vote in the upcoming November election. She didn't think it was, and she offered some unsolicited advice: "Be sure to register Republican if you want any say in local affairs. It helps if you need to get a traffic ticket fixed, too." I wasn't concerned about the latter, but the former seemed important.
. . . .
Over the years, I hadn't heeded a whole lot of my mother's advice (she'd be the first to tell you that) but I did listen to her that time. It felt a little funny; since I was in high school and saw John Kennedy in person one day, I knew I was a Democrat. I voted in every election, primary or general, and every four years I gave both of the leading presidential candidates what I thought was a fair chance. It certainly wasn't my fault that the Democratic candidate always seemed to be the one worthy of my vote. The local politics stuff wasn't all that earthshaking. The most important local elections -- to me -- were those for school board. And they always cross-registered. I started to feel like a closet Democrat.
. . . .
But I'd registered Republican and never got around to changing it, even though it felt funny. I began to think about changing when Mr. Bush started a war in Afghanistan, but I didn't. Then he started a war in Iraq and the thought entered my mind again. But I always had other things to do, like pick up the dry cleaning, or empty the dishwasher, and I wasn't sure where to get the forms. And so I didn't do it. At the time of the 2004 election, the folly of leading a double life caught up to me. I began to get telephone calls from the Republican party. Some were recordings reminding me how important it was for me to re-elect President Bush. One was a recorded message from the President himself, asking me to give money to his re-election. I was appalled. But still I took no action. And -- needless to say -- I didn't vote for him.
. . . .
A few months ago Richard asked if I'd sign the petition to help get Josh Shapiro's name on the ballot for re-election to State Rep. I was delighted to agree. Josh has been an excellent State Rep and I was happy to give him my support. When Richard came by, we were both dismayed to realize I couldn't do it because of my Republican registration. My token Republicanism was beginning to get in my way.
. . . .
The war that should never have started continues. I went for the first time last winter to stand and hold a candle at a peace vigil because I wanted to do something.
. . . .
Yesterday, out of the blue, it occurred to me that I could do something more. I emailed Richard: "How do I get a form to change my registration? It's time." He brought the form by this afternoon. I filled it out and put a stamp on it. It felt good. The form goes in tomorrow's mail. I feel as though I've Come Out.

A Quilt for Rob and Kellie


Dottie's son, Rob, married Kellie today. The wedding was very pretty. It was held at St. Luke's church and the weather was perfect. Dottie and Bob had a party back at their house following the wedding, and it was delightful. We've known Rob since he was in about the fourth grade, and we used to see him when the Good Guys would gather for family events. There were a whole bunch of kids around the same age, and they were amazingly compatible for a group that didn't see each other all that often. Over the years as the kids all grew up, we saw less of them, but still are delighted to celebrate with them when they marry.
. . . .
Joe and I hadn't met Kellie until today. And, of course, we only had a couple of minutes with her. But we were struck by how warm and friendly she was. And -- if that wasn't enough -- she's drop-dead gorgeous in a classic, elegant kind of way. I can see why Dottie is tickled to have her join their ever-growing family.
. . . .
Whenever an announcement is made that wedding planning has begun, that is a signal to me that a quilt is in order. Not knowing the grown-up Robbie very well and not knowing his bride-to-be at all, I didn't know what might be appropriate. So I consulted Dottie, who said that they liked neutrals and had just ordered a dark green couch.
. . . .
I had some neutral fabrics that I thought would be right and got to work on the top. I was making another quilt out of some different neutral fabrics at the same time. It turned out that the quilt I was thinking was for Rob and Kellie was right for my friend Frank, and the other neutral quilt was right for Kellie and Rob. It is made entirely from Daiwabo taupe fabrics that come from Japan. I was in a fabric club that sent me six fat quarters per month, and it seemed that all of them went together beautifully. The quilt is a design I learned from Bonnie Hunter that I like a lot; it is simply pinwheel blocks alternating with 16-patch blocks. They make a very nice secondary pattern. Branky quilted it beautifully for me, and I put a nice black mottled binding on it. I wish Kellie and Rob hours of happy snuggling under it.

The Great William Morris Baskets Quilt Dilemma


I made this quilt out of blocks I received from a row robin project organized by one of my on-line quilting groups. Each participant chose some fabric and set some parameters for the blocks and made a half dozen blocks and then sent the fabric and rules to the next participant. Each month I received a different participant's project to work on. I'd never been in a row robin before.
. . . .
I had collected a lot of different fabrics designed by William Morris. I pulled out all of the ones that had red in them, and made an 8" basket block with a muslin background. Actually, I made six different ones. Then I sent everything to the next person on the list and requested that she do the same, using a different basket pattern.
. . . .
It took about six months or so before my package of baskets found its way back to me. I was just delighted with the results. Kathy's daughter, Jaime, is getting married this winter and when I asked Kathy what Jaime's taste was, she said, "Oh, you know. Pottery Barn kind of thing." I thought William Morris was sort of Pottery Barnish and was tickled to find I had enough of another of his prints to make the border. I sent the finished top off to Kat to quilt back in April. I was delighted to have Jaime's wedding gift under control already, especially since the wedding isn't until February!
. . . .
Alas, I was mistaken. In July I visited Kat and picked up the three quilts she'd quilted for me. I took one look at William Morris and knew Jaime couldn't have it. Kat had worked such magic in the quilting of it that I wanted to keep it for myself. It would look so perfect in my living room with my William Morris rug. But what about Jaime? This had never happened to me before, deciding to keep for myself a quilt I'd planned for someone else. I decided to put the binding on the quilt and figure out what to do.
. . . .
It is bound now, and ready for snuggling this winter. I still love it too much to give it away. And the green William Morris fabric is on its way to becoming a wedding gift for Jaime. I'm just not going to let Kat anywhere near it.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

In Which I Stack and I Whack


I guess it has been about ten years now since the Stack and Whack craze hit the world of quilting. I was intrigued by it from the get-go. The method, developed by one Bethany Reynolds, yields magnificent blocks that look like unique (yes, Honna, unique) kaleidescopes, all lined up on the quilt top. I was dying to take the class, to try it for myself. But I was heavily involved in school and young adult children, and juggling many responsibilities, and never quite managed to do it. My interest waned and I nearly forgot about it.
. . . .
Then I found out that my friend Sue from church who just happens to work at the LQS (Local Quilt Shop, for those nonquilting readers) was going to be teaching the class over the past Saturday with one night preceding for a lesson on fabric selection. I knew that Joe had committed himself to a major sidewalk square replacement project to occupy most of the holiday weekend, and decided to take Sue's class.
. . . .
I wasn't sorry. Not only did Sue turn out to be a fine teacher who achieved a remarkable balance between group instruction and individual attention, but the class was small and filled with amiable women with varying tastes in fabric. Part of the fun was wandering around to the different tables to see how each woman's blocks were turning out. The project Sue selected was the Lemoyne Star quilt and she had hers there for us to ooh and aaah over. And ooh and aaah we did. It was magnificent. I wish I'd taken a picture. This picture is of a Lemoyne Star Stack and Whack quilt that I found on the internet. This is the pattern that we made. This one features such vivid and intense colors; Sue's was much lower in contrast and just as beautiful.
. . . .
The first step was fabric selection, and we spent quite a bit of time on that. The ideal fabric would be one with some black in it, a large scale print, a repeat of about 12 inches, and not a lot of open space in the background. One woman had green background fabric with dice and aces of hearts on it. Two people found an autumn vegetable print irresistible -- they had punkins, gourds, corn ears all over. Another lady selected a terrific black background with international costumes, and there were a couple of large florals. I looked at fabric for quite a while. Initially I was looking for a kiddy print, thinking my project would be for Sam. But nothing caught my eye. I kept going back to a fabric that really isn't my usual kind of thing. Kept telling myself, "That's Bonnie's fabric, not yours." In the end, Bonnie's or not, I had to have the dusky green background with the cardinals, bayberries, and pine boughs.
. . . .
The cutting of the layers of fabric and the pinning together was precise and tedious work. It really helped to have two chattery, friendly new neighbors across the table -- the time went by fairly quickly and soon we were finished stacking and ready for whacking. Precision was just as important here. Once we had our sets of parallelograms pinned together, we were ready to start putting our blocks together. Bethany's method for the usually very tricky Lemoyne star involves no set-in seams, and before long various members of the class were springing up, "Look at mine! Look at mine!" And we looked. And we ooohed. And we aahed. The fascinating thing was that we would be surprised anew with each block -- there was really no way to plan or to anticipate what the blocks would look like! It was an exciting adventure. The finished project calls for twelve blocks. I have about five or six finished, and because of other pressing quilting commitments, am going to have to put this project aside until winter break. I'll be eager to return to it.


Sunday, September 03, 2006

Petunia


On July 4, Honna brought me a basket of petunias. We put them on the railing of the deck, and I can see them from my seat at breakfast and dinner. These petunias are a bright pink that was unfamiliar to me. I tend to think of petunias as deep purple or white or even a pale, dusty pink. These pretty flowers have greeted me each morning, all summer long. And there is something spunky and audacious about their color.
. . . .
Coincidentally, I have a friend whom -- for reasons that have long since become irrelevant -- I call Petunia. No one else calls her that. Just me. I met her a couple of years ago when she was going through the hardest time she will ever go through. She was a new widow, a young widow. A misfit in her peer group of young-ish families, a misfit in the world of widows.
. . . .
We became close rather quickly and before she had really begun to attempt to deal with her new status in life, while she was still in the deepest throes of grief, she began to be hit by additional hardships, one after another. It was as if she were wading in the ocean and was knocked over by a big wave and as she struggled to get to her feet another wave would come and knock her down again. And again.
. . . .
I became so fond of this woman, Petunia. I've come to admire her so much: her sensitivity to her children's needs when she might well have been oblivious to them out of her own neediness, her clear thinking at times when she might well have a clouded mind, her ability to process what goes on around her, and her reciprocity -- in spite of all that she has been through, she's unwilling to have our relationship be one-way; she always wants to know what is going on in my world. And she remembers.
. . . .
She's doing well now. Has made some changes in her life that needed to be made, has begun to reach out and explore the possibility of a new relationship, has her kids on a more-than-even keel. It has been a privilege to journey with her, a gift to have been allowed to be a part of her life during this difficult time. I've learned so much from her.
. . . .
The weather here Near Philadelphia has been nasty for the past couple of days. Intense rain, heavy winds, power outages in some sections. The evidence is visible when we step outside -- a bazillion twigs, branches, even limbs clutter the yard, and there are those clumps of leaves that form in the gutter at these times, impeding the passage of the water down to the drains. This morning at breakfast I looked out at that basket of petunias that Honna had brought here. They looked terrible. Defeated, scraggly, limp, heads down. I said to Joe, "Looks like those petunias are about done." "No," he responded. "They'll come back. They just need a few days in the sun and they'll be fine."
. . . .
And it made me think of Petunia and -- it turns out -- what a good nickname I gave her way back when.