Wednesday, May 30, 2007

And the Winner Is . . .

Tanya! My Laurel Burch Christmas fabric FQs and assorted scraps will make their way to you as soon as you send me your address.
. . . .
Thank you to all who left comments. This was a lot of fun, and I imagine I will do another give-away before summer is out.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

My Secret Project

Today I go back to work after the long holiday weekend. All of my glorious plans for cleaning the sewing studio were abandoned in favor of a Secret Project. I've made wonderful progress on it and would love to share, but I believe the recipient of said Secret Project is a reader and we wouldn't want to spoil the surprise, would we? Especially since the gifting of the project will occur within a week or two.
. . . .It is an interesting project; I bought the fabric for it four years ago with this recipient in mind and it just somehow got put in the cupboard until it was uncovered on the morning I was supposed to start cleaning the studio! Stay tuned. I promise to share as soon as I can.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Dancing Ladies

Someone has asked about the picture from Pentecost and about the picture in my "About Me" section. These dancing ladies are kind of a trademark for me. Many years ago, there was a mail order catalog called "Seasons" (I believe they are no longer in business) and they had things that were to my taste. From them I bought a pair of earrings that had five dancing ladies like these on them. The accompanying description said that the design had come from a cave painting in Spain. I loved those dancing ladies so much, that I asked Joe to draw them for me; he did, and then he drew four or five more ladies in slightly different poses. I have appliqued them on a few things; the first was a vest for my friend Kathy. People have sometimes asked me to share the pattern and I have always declined. I suppose it is selfish of me, but I just don't want to see them in other places.
. . . .

Now, about the photo from yesterday and the photo to the left. When I was working on my Master of Sacred Theology degree a few years back, the last class that I took was outside of my area of concentration, which was pastoral care. The class was called "Liturgy and Time" and for my major paper/project, I wanted to find a way to bring Sunday into the rest of the week; that is, a way to tangibly bring the seasons of the church year into my home. I studied and researched the colors of the liturgical year and the symbols associated with those seasons, symbols we sometimes see on paraments and vestments. I created a series of wall hangings and Joe made this wonderful frame out of cherry wood that he had. The frame hangs in the entryway of our home as a visible reminder to us (and to guests) of who and whose we are. The photo from yesterday was for Pentecost, the birth of the church. The color for Pentecost is red. The dove and the flames symbolize the Holy Spirit descending on the gathered people. It will stay up for a few weeks of the early part of the season of Pentecost and then we will switch to a green hanging, as green is the color for the long season of Ordinary Time, the weeks following Pentecost.
. . . .
The Easter hanging is the dancing ladies and the verse that you really can't see embroidered above them says, "You have turned my mourning into dancing," from the Psalm appointed for Easter. I was particularly happy that these ladies who are so special to me, were able to be part of my series of liturgical hangings.
. . . .
When we get to the green season, there is an amazing story connected with the hanging I will use, and I'll tell that story then.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

And When the Day of Pentecost Had Come


The wall hanging in the center hall was changed and many people wore red clothing to church.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Temptation

I wouldn't have lasted ten minutes in the Garden of Eden. The minute that snake mentioned apples, I'd have started thinking pies, cobblers, applesauce, apple cake, you name it.
. . . .
I had these high ideals for today. Had a date with a girlfriend for breakfast and after that planned to devote the day to cleaning the sewing studio.
. . . .
Went to the diner for girl talk and yummy foods and to the bank and then home. Spent all of ten minutes on the organization project and then came across some fabric I'd bought five years ago with a specific project in mind. One thing led to another, and before long, there I was drawing a plan, cutting blocks, putting things up on the design wall, and the next thing I knew, the day was gone!
. . . .
Scarlett would point out that "Tomorrow is another day," but I'd be obliged to point out right back at her that there is lattice to be made, borders to be applied. So perhaps Monday will be the day to clean the studio. If not, oh well, in another three weeks we'll be in our shorter summer hours at work, and perhaps then I'll manage to be responsible.
. . . .
Joe and I went out to the 4:00 movie and saw "Waitress" -- http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/waitress/ -- and then ran across the street for a light dinner. The movie was terrific and the dinner yummy and the heat of the day has been relieved by a welcome rain. Fabric, film, food all added up to a splendid day Near Philadelphia.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Roses for Memorial Day Weekend

Last evening I finished another of the "Time Began in a Garden" blocks. I have the "bleeding hearts" block bonded and will begin stitching it tonight. Usually once a block is bonded, it takes two or three evenings, sometimes four, of stitching to complete it. There are still two more to do, and then it will be time to start working on the larger center panel. I'd like to get those two bonded this weekend. But I don't know if I will.
. . . .
Last year on this weekend, the entire family gathered in Alexandria to spend time with Andrew and Amy. We had such a good time together. We decided to stay home this time. Neither of us is really crazy about being on the highways on long holiday weekends, and we're scheduled to be away the next two -- the first weekend in June we'll be going to Richmond to help Tom and Anastasia move into their new home, and the second we'll be visiting A&A in Alexandria again. So we really need to be at home this weekend. My sewing studio is in such a mess that I'm afraid the Board of Health is going to find out about it and shut me down! So tomorrow, in addition to a breakfast date and normal weekend tasks, I'm going to plunge into organizing, cleaning, and possibly purging the studio. There are other tasks that have been neglected, too. But we'll see.
. . . .

I came home from work today to find a surprise. We have just one rosebush, and yesterday when I was leaving to go to work, I noticed there were buds on it. The first of the season. Apparently Joe has been watching it, too, and cut this pretty bouquet for the hall table this morning. It is completely coincidental that I'd have finished a rose block and then come home to find arose on my table. And such a pleasant coincidence!
. . . .
I think I'm going to have a fair amount of wool left over when this project is completed. That likely will lead to additional wool projects. Isn't that the usual plight of quilters? Such a plight -- to be more or less forced to start additional projects!
. . . .
I found a picture on line of what this garden project should look like when it is finished. I thought you might like to see it, so here it is:

Hope Springs Eternal

It's the resume season here once again, and it hasn't yielded as many amusing ones as last year, or in previous years. I take this as a good sign.
. . . .
This morning's mail, however, indicates a reverse in that trend may be in the works. We seek a Director of Development. We're a medium-sized independent school, and the ideal candidate would have ten or more years of experience in professional fund-raising, preferrably in an academic setting. The person we hire will be someone who will have the gravitas (a word I generally avoid because of its current trendiness but is in this instance precisely the word I need) to be able to ask a donor for a half a million dollars.
. . . .
Candidate Number One for today just completed a Master's in Pastoral Counseling and has been working as a bank teller; prior to that, she was an Avon lady. Candidate Number Two for today has just graduated with a Bachelor's degree in theatre. His paid employment includes lifeguarding as well as maintenance in the Catholic student center at his college.
. . . .
I'm sitting here shaking my head. What are these people thinking? Are they thinking?
. . . .
We are unusual in that we acknowledge every resume that we receive. Granted, it is through form emails and printed postcards, but the work of acknowledging takes up time. My time. We are so busy with the myriad of end-of-year things, with the hiring, with the time-consuming meetings to plan for next year. I'm a little -- just a little -- resentful of the Avon lady and the lifeguard for taking me away from essential parts of my job to deal with their credentials. At the same time, a small piece of me is impressed with how good they must feel about themselves to apply for this position.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Christmas in May, Anyone?


Reading other people's blogs gives me ideas. Too often, I'm afraid, they are ideas about new quilts I want to make. Me, with the UFO List to beat the band. But in the past couple of months, the creative generosity of quilter-bloggers has given me another kind of idea.
. . . .
One of the loveliest blogs I know is Nicole's at Sister's Choice. I check every single day to see what she is up to. She is a prolific quilter with beautiful taste and I'm often inspired by what she is doing. In this post, she decides to give away some Christmas blocks that she made and didn't need for the quilt she was working on -- http://sisterschoice.typepad.com/sisters_choice_quilts/2007/05/christmas_block.html -- I'd been thinking for a week or so about what I might give away to a reader, and she provided the clue I needed. Tonight I was prowling around down in my studio, trying to decide what to work on next, and thinking that on Saturday, I really need to spend much of the day organizing and cleaning the space, and I came across a package of unused FQs. They were left over from the quilt that is pictured to the left. That quilt is a Whackie Girl that I made for Sherry and Chris for Christmas.
. . . .

The fabrics in the quilt are all Laurel Burch Christmas fabrics and Kona black. I have eight full Fat Quarters, one large piece that probably nets about a half yard, and a packet of smaller scraps. They are pictured here. I know I'm not going to do anything with them, but someone else might. Nicole is making Christmas quilts now and if I were looking to make a Christmas quilt, I'd follow her lead. If you are thinking those kinds of thoughts, and are interested in my Laurel Burch FQs and scraps, leave a comment for this post. A week from today, May 30, I'll draw a name and send the holiday fabrics on to their new owner.

Frank, the Poet

My poet friend Frank sent me his picture today. I know many of you also like his poems, so I thought I would share it. He is the one with the short neck. Links to his sites are in the sidebar.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Pink and Green for Clara

I've never sold a quilt. I think I've written this before. It isn't that we couldn't use extra money -- for supporting the fabric economy if nothing else -- but it is more like a fear that making a quilt for money would somehow take the joy out of it.
. . . .
I have, however, donated quilts to auctions and raffles, and at school I have on a few occasions made a quilt as a gift from the school to one of the employees, and let the school pay for the fabric.
. . . .
That is the case with Pink and Green for Clara. Clara's mom, Tracy, came to us at a very difficult time. Our beloved librarian, Rosy, had been diagnosed with advanced lung cancer the week after school let out last June. She underwent treatment all summer long. At the start of school, Rosy's future was uncertain; one thing was for sure -- if she could come back to work, it certainly wouldn't be full-time.
. . . .

Enter Tracy, young, cute, full of energy and creativity. She breathed new life into the library, doing things that would have been impossible for Rosy to accomplish in her diminished state. We lost Rosy in January, and everyone hoped that Tracy would apply for the full-time replacement position. But she turned out to be "unexpectedly expecting" and furthermore, her husband was being transferred this summer to Cinncinati.
. . . .
It is the custom of the school to give a gift to departing employees. I've been very fond of Tracy, and offered to the Gift Committee that I'd make a quilt for Clara, who is due in July, if the school would reimburse me for the fabric. So here we have a couple of pictures of the quilt, with Bodacious -- who doesn't normally seek publicity -- jumping in to investigate. It is a modified Yellow Brick Road, tied in variegated pink floss. I love the true apple green (as opposed to the sage that has been the rage the past couple of ears) with the in-your-face pink. The first picture is better of the quilt, but the second one is better of Bo.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Happy Face, Sleepy Face



Sherry and Sam reading the book I brought him from Cape May.


Mealtime can be exhausting.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Sad Face, Happy Face

As it turns out, I should not have eaten those wonderful scallops last night. Six hours later, I was very sick. So now I am worrying about my plan to try clams next week and oysters the following week. And wondering if the success of last week's mussels was some kind of a fluke, you should pardon the expression.
. . . .
On the other hand (when the first hand has not been mentioned, I know), the afternoon and evening hold wonderful things!
. . . .
First, we are going to Sherry's for dinner and will enjoy Sam's company. It has been two weeks or so since we last saw him, and she tells us that he has some words now! I have some things I picked up for him last weekend in Cape May -- a white tee shirt with a Noah's Ark drawing that turns colors in the sunlight and a nice little book about a hippopotamus and a turtle who became friends.
. . . .
Second, our friend Sharon arrives this evening to stay until Tuesday morning. She is about the only classmate from seminary that I still have much contact with. We met sitting next to each other on the first day of Greek and have shared many experiences and insight. Sharon serves a congregation in Rutland, Vermont, and we've not been together in two years. And she's a quilter!

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Succulent

I had to work today, which was unusual. The School Committee (board of trustees) was having a day-long retreat and my assistance was required. I wasn't thrilled about giving up a beautiful Saturday in May, but negotiated a day off later on to make up for it. When Joe found out about it, he said he would take me out to dinner at the end of the day, which pleased me so much. After the mussels triumph of last week, he had the wonderful idea of getting a reservation at the Sansom Street Oyster House downtown so that I could have wonderful oysters for my first ones in seventeen years.
. . . .
The day was long. Got to school before eight o'clock and it was after 5:30 when I came home. I was awfully tired. The thought of a 45-60 minute car ride in either direction made for a very long evening and I suggested we postpone this outing until an evening when I wasn't so tired and could relish it. Joe agreed and we decided to go down to the local pub, a place we go more frequently than anywhere else. They have wonderful sandwiches as well as a nice dinner menu. I was thinking about a Reuben while we were heading down there.
. . . .
But the chalkboard in the window indicated that one of the three specials for the evening was scallops, prepared with lemon and sherry. My mouth began to water and the idea of the Reuben was tabled for another occasion.
. . . .
Do you remember that famous scene in "When Harry Met Sally"? That is kind of what it was like for my first scallops in so long. Sometime soon we'll get down to the Oyster House. But meanwhile, tonight's scallops were simply splendid. Mrs. Goodneedle says "Life Is Good." It is also succulent.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Well-Heeled

The Friday morning paper has a section on home design and I often take a look at it before heading off for work. Some weeks there is a feature about bright new bowls for the kitchen; other weeks we look at bed linens. This morning, there was a great big picture of a pedicure spa for the home. The paper -- tongue in cheek -- added that the pedicurist was not included. The cost of this accessory, to be installed in one's bathroom, is $14,000 (certainly not including the cost of the installation).
. . . .
The first time I ever heard the words "conspicuous consumption" they were coming from my sister. I thought it to be a terrific phrase and I have to tell you that it has come to mind more and more in recent years.
. . . .
Five or six summers ago, I spent more hours than sanity would suggest appropriate playing a computer game called The Sims. If you're unfamiliar, it is an electronic doll house where you get to design and furnish the house, personalize and outfit the dolls, and control the interactions amongst the dolls.
. . . .
Coincidentally, that was the summer we were redoing our 1950s era kitchen. So in May and June, as we were making decisions about cabinets and lighting, I was designing kitchens for my Sims, and moving them along their chosen career paths to earn enough money to make kitchens that were more and more fabulous. It was fun. It was a strange time where fantasy and reality were bumping into each other. Once Sammy and Elena had the ultimate kitchen, and continued to bring in the Simoleans, I moved on to expand their home, add additional rooms, buy them valuable antiques, and, of course, beautify their bathrooms. There were many amazing fixtures available, but no in-home pedicure spa at that time.
. . . .
But that was then, as Joey Boyle used to say, and this is now.
. . . .
Here is what I learned during the months I spent with the Sims:

(1) It was fun to expand the house. It was fun to design, to purchase lavish furnishings. The more beautiful the home, the more "mood points" the figures acquired, making them feel good. Good moods made them more likely to receive a promotion at work.

(2) The bigger the house, the more furnishings that were in it, the less efficient the figures were in their perambulations. They tended to interrupt a conversation and go upstairs to use the fancy bathroom, when there was a powder room just a few feet away. They spent more time playing with their expensive stereos and computers, and less time engaged with each other. Take note: Positive interactions with each other also provided mood points.
. . . .
I really enjoy getting a pedicure. It is nice to have my heels smooth; it is luxurious to have my feet massaged and scrubbed and buffed every month or two; in the summer I like looking down and seeing pretty nails in my sandals.
. . . .
Having a Pedicure Spa in my bathroom is something I will never be in a position to consider. But I'm glad I saw the picture this morning, because it has me thinking about things and time and relationships and the values associated with all of these. It is coincident that in these past years since the children have become adults, Joe and I cherish the increased time we have to spend together and find we are planning activities rather than acquisitions. I still look at the never-ending stream of catalogs from Pottery Barn and the like, and I still turn down the corners of pages with things that appeal. But I consider carefully: Would owning this item really enrich or would it somehow diminish the quality of our life together?

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Excel Spreadsheets and The Kindness of Strangers

Back in 1997 or so, when Dayle was getting ready to leave Near Philadelphia to accept a call to serve a congregation on the opposite side of the city, I thought to put myself in her place mentally. After all, for several years I had been on the same path as she. But now, she had completed the process and was ready to move on. I couldn't imagine. Joe and I had moved 13 times during the first 13 years we were married (don't ask!) and once we settled Near Philadelphia, we put down deep roots. I really couldn't fathom "starting over" at this point. And I said as much to Dayle, who replied (much too quickly, I thought), "Oh, Nancy, there are nice people everywhere."
. . . .
I knew she was right. And she would do fine. But I wasn't about to put it to the test.
. . . .
Yesterday, I was the beneficiary of the kindness of -- well, they aren't really -- strangers several times over.
. . . .
I'd posted to my blog the night before about inventorying my quilt projects and having all of the data on an Excel spread sheet. I'd put a stock illustration on the post because I didn't know how to get my own into Blogger. Within a few hours, an email from Angela -- whom I've never met -- with explicit, clear, and understandable instructions arrived. Just like that!
. . . .
Later in the day, filled with warmth at Angela's kindness, I put out a feeler about getting translation of a Greek sentence. As of this morning, there have been four varied responses, three of them from women, once again, whom I've never met!
. . . .
So, as Dayle says, "There are nice people everywhere." Some of whom are not strangers at all, though the relationship grew and was nurtured in cyberspace.
. . . .
And now, on to the Excel spreadsheet! Under Angela's tutelage, I display below my own actual UFO/PIGS/WIPS/Whatever log. Taking note, please, that already, on the first day of the third year, another project has been completed!






















Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Lend Me a Quarter Cup of Greek?

As I posted a few days ago, I have a powerful allergy to shrimp and crabs and by belief and association, to lobsters.
. . . .
Joe and I are going to Greece this summer, and we understand that the Greeks have an affinity for shellfish.
. . . .
So I'm a little worried. I had a year of Koine Greek in seminary, but I learned things such as "Follow me" and "The blind man regained his sight," nothing to do with current day menu items.
. . . .
I spoke with the Classics teacher at school today, asking him if he would print out for me the Greek for "I am allergic to shrimp and to crabs." He replied that his particular Greek was a slightly different version of Ancient Greek than I'd had (twelve or thirteen years ago now) and my using his print-out would be the linguistic equivalent to someone coming here and speaking like Shakespeare.
. . . .
I imagine I can go down to the Greek restaurant in the village here Near Philadelphia and ask the owner to help me. But first I thought it would be interesting to ask my blog-readers. Can anyone help me with this?

Annual Inventory Time

On May 15, 2005, I started an inventory of all of my UFOs, WIPs, and PIGs, as well as fabric bought with a project in the planning stages. I put it all on an Excel spreadsheet to keep track of it. (The image to the left is not my spreadsheet -- I have no idea how to insert that into Blogger.) There were 56 items on my list.
. . . .
Between May 15, 2005 and May 15, 2006, I finished 18 and gave away one. That was a start, I thought. But I couldn't feel really proud of my progress because during that year I'd added 18 more projects! Now I'm no mathematician, but it appeared that my net progress was one finished item! Oh, dear.
. . . .
The second year has been better. I finished 28 and gave away one, and only started 13 more.
. . . .
So here we are at the start of the third year. There are presently 40 UFOs, WIPs, PIGs, and PIPs on my list. Two of the are likely to be finished within a week. There are presently no plans for purchasing fabric for new projects, but there seldom are plans for same -- yet it seems to happen! Some bloggers I read sport a "no new fabric" badge that changes each month. I know myself well enough that if I put up such a badge, it would turn immediately into a challenge to see how quickly I could defy it. Buying to finish a project is something else entirely, and in my view, anyway, is a good thing!

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Singing: Cockles and Mussels -- Alive, Alive, O!

We were fortunate to spend most of this weekend away! Our friend Cessie has a condo at the New Jersey seaside. I had made a quilt to celebrate her having acquired this new home, and in return she offered us the use of it for the weekend of our choosing.
. . . .
We left Near Philadelphia before five o'clock on Friday afternoon, and arrived at Somer's Point and settled in very quickly before heading over to the CrabTrap for dinner.
. . . .
Here's where a little history is in order. From the time I was about twelve years old, I have been allergic to shrimp. Not the throat-closing-can't-breathe kind of allergy, but rather the other kind -- the one where six hours after eating the dang things I become very, very sick in all forms of the gastrointestinal division. Very, very unpleasant. So I've not knowingly consumed a shrimp in many, many a year. This was not a terrible loss for me -- there were plenty of other shellfish to my taste. In my thirties and forties, the allergy spread first to crabs and then to soft-shell crabs. This was more of a loss, but there were still other options. Seventeen years ago I got very sick after eating a fried oyster sandwich, and have not had a shellfish of any sort since. I never knew whether the allergy had spread further or whether I'd just had a bad oyster. Recently, however, I'd been thinking of putting it to the test.
. . . .
We went to the CrabTrap, which is a huge kind of a place, and sort of noisy. But they had good red wine and a terrific menu and an attentive server. I looked at the steamed mussels listed under "appetizers" and decided this was the night! The mussels arrived at 8 p.m. and I cannot tell you how enjoyable, how succulent, how magnificent they were! After a seventeen year hiatus, you probably can imagine. The rest of the dinner was superb, too. Went to bed, not knowing if I'd be rudely awakened at 2:00 or not. And I was not! Imagine my delight! Saturday I was seriously tempted to have oysters on the half shell, but DH suggested I take this at a slower pace, and I agreed.
. . . .
Our little getaway was awfully nice. We snoozed and read and explored Somer's Point. We ate all of our meals out. On Saturday I took Joe to the Ocean City landmark The Chatterbox for breakfast and then we visited the LQS three blocks away. I picked up some I Spy squares -- Sam is nearly sixteen months old and I'm thinking he'll soon be ready for an I Spy quilt -- and I bought some fabrics to give to a friend recovering from an illness. Saturday evening we drove down to Cape May and met Sue and Tom for dinner -- it is always good to be with them and to catch up on the Cape May gossip. We did a little shopping and I finished the Guilt Quilt -- pictured to the left.
. . . .
The story on that, if you don't remember, is that when Caleb was born, a first baby for Russell and Shira, I made him a Bible blocks quilt. I don't usually make quilts for subsequent babies, and when Maya was born and we attended her Naming Ceremony, I took her a little outfit. For reasons that aren't clear, when Russell told me this winter that another little girl would be born in the spring, I made her a quilt. And then got to feeling bad about not having made one for Maya, now not only no longer the only daughter, but also the Middle Child! So I started a simple quilt for her and finished it today. I tied it in variegated pink floss and think it turned out cute. Surely a three-year-old girl will like all that pink and green!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

I Had To Make One, Too

Growing up, my heart's desire was to be a librarian. From the time I learned to read, I would rather do that than anything else. I went through books like wildfire. I read all of the Bobbsey Twins, Cherry Ames, Nancy Drew, all of those series books. My parents subscribed to Reader's Digest Condensed Books, and I read every selection in every volume that we received.
. . . .
When I got to junior high school, I worked at the school library during a "club" period. The woman who was the librarian, Mrs. Capaldi, took an interest in me, and invited me to become a library volunteer after school. Sue, Bob and I were the library nerds, and we had a wonderful time one afternoon each week reshelving books and writing out the overdue notices. It was one of the happiest times I can remember.
. . . .
For reasons I never understood, this activity was unacceptable to my parents. I was forbidden to work in the library, and because I couldn't stand to have this joy taken away from me, I lied. That year the junior high started an intramural girls' basketball program that played after school. I told my mother I was going to join and this met with her approval.
. . . .
For weeks it worked without a hitch. There was no interest at home in whether my team won or lost, so it never got complicated. I just had to say I was going to be late because my basketball team was playing. And that was how I got to continue in the library. In time, of course, I was found out -- a friend's mother stopped into the library and innocently mentioned having seen me there. The principal was contacted, and I came straight home after school each day thereafter.
. . . .
Mrs. Capaldi had intimated that since we were such good volunteers, Sue, Bob, and I might be soon moving on to increased responsibilities -- perhaps even including making cards for the catalog. I don't know whether Sue and Bob ever got to do that.
. . . .
I hadn't thought about the school library in many, many years. But when blogs recently started sporting these wonderful catalog cards, I remembered, and decided it really, really was time I got to make one.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Prayer Shawls Finished

A few weeks ago I wrote about having decided to use some of the charm packs that I'd bought to contribute to our church's prayer shawl ministry. This project was started during the winter months and has been wildly successful. Older women have taught younger women to crochet. Shut-ins have found a way to minister to others through their knitting. Women who had never before picked up yarn and needles are now happily casting on, purling and knitting, and casting off. The pile in the narthex grows and a team has been formed to find recipients for the handicrafts outside of our own membership. The cancer treatment center will use them in their infusion room, and the Breathing Room -- a local support center for cancer patients and their families -- is interested in receiving some, as well. Many will go to members of the congregation who are facing hard times, and some will go to moms of new babies.
. . . .
I wanted to get involved, but don't want to knit. I have enough vices! The charm squares came to mind, and I've made two prayer shawls out of some identical Moda charm packs with Moda borders. You can see them above, ready to go to church. You can also see them below!
. . . .
Click on either of the pictures to make them larger.




Monday, May 07, 2007

A Surprising Email

I was fortunate to grow up in a terrific neighborhood Near Philadelphia; in fact, in the same town where Joe and I presently live. I can easily walk over to the street where I used to catch lightning bugs and play kick-the-can and lay-low-sheepie on summer nights with Nancy and Betsy and Billy, with Bruce and Patsy, with Wendy and with Sandy and Billy; we were often joined by Nina and Lynn, as well. We didn't have sidewalks, but it didn't matter -- our little pocket was almost a secret even in our town; there were people who had never heard of our street.
. . . .
My house backed up to a wooded area; down at one end of the woods was an amazing field of violets and a patch of wild growing bluebells that we would pick and put into hand-made paper baskets on May Day. Down further was a spring and a stream where we built primitive dams and caught the occasional tadpole. Directly behind my home, at the edge of the woods, was a house that was built in the style of a castle. It was a magical place to grow up.
. . . .
There were older kids in the neighborhood, too. But not as many as there were of us, the early Baby Boomers and those born in the year or two immediately before the Boom began. One of the older girls was Sandra, Wendy's sister. Wendy and I were in the same grade, and while we were never close enough to do things like sleep-overs, we got along well and went to each other's birthday parties. Whenever I was at Wendy's house, my time would be enhanced if there was also an encounter with Sandra. She was perhaps four years older than Wendy and me, but what a difference those four years made! When we were awkward and a bit pimply, she was graceful, with a lovely complexion and an air of what I later came to learn was sophistication. I once saw a picture of Lauren Bacall, and her glamour and sensuality were reminiscent of Sandra. You would think that such an elegant person would have had no time for the likes of us, but you would be mistaken. She showed me her paintings, exchanged trading cards, and generally shared her amazing grown-up world with the rest of us, and not in a condescending way, either.
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One night during junior high school after a dance, Wendy's parents invited some of us in for refreshments. The boys were amazed to find this elegant creature in the house (probably an extremely rare dateless Saturday for her), and quickly proposed a game of spin-the-bottle, and insisted she be part of it. I don't remember a whole lot more other than the fact that Sandra didn't lord her magnificence over us, but sincerely admired our dance dresses. It would come as no surprise to learn that Sandra studied art in college and was the first person any of us ever knew of who actually moved to New York City!
. . . .
I've been on Christmas Card status with Wendy for the past 40+ years, and have actually gotten together with her once or twice on the rare times that she's passed through Philadelphia. I expect our paths will cross again. But the truth is, I hadn't thought of Sandra in ages.
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Until the email came. She wrote that Wendy had shared a link to my blog and she'd been reading it. She was, as always, full of kind comments. She wrote of admiring the tone of my writing, of finding my insights valuable. What a lovely surprise!
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She's still in New York. I don't know exactly what it is that she does there, but it is something glamorous that has to do with film-making and movie stars and art. She got me to thinking about happy summer nights and I could almost hear Bruce or Betsy or someone calling, "Apples peaches punkin pie; who's not ready -- holler 'I'!" I remembered once again the night of the dance and how somehow being around Sandra helped us to realize that none of us would be flat-chested and pimpled for ever -- that while we may not ever be as elegant as she, we would, indeed, grow up!

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Geranium, Thistle, and -- Greece?

In the past week, I've finished two more of the "Time Began in a Garden" blocks. They really do go quickly. "Geranium" and "Thistle" are the last two that I had bonded.
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I believe there are four more of these to do, and then the big center motif. I'd like to get these four bonded in the next week or two, and hope to get them completed by the end of June. Then there is the larger central panel that is to be surrounded by these individual blocks. Joe and I are going on a rather major vacation in mid-July, and my thought was to get that central panel all bonded and take it along to work on at odd moments during the vacation.
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This might be a good opportunity to tell a little about this trip, which is unlike anything we've done before. Our kids are all great travelers; all of them have been to Europe at least twice and they have been to other places as well. Joe and I have not traveled a lot. We did go on a trip to Italy and Oberammergau in 2000; that is the only time we have been to Europe.
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Quite out of the blue, this summer we are going to Greece! As so often is the case with us, it was a spontaneous decision, not one planned and planned and planned. One day last fall when we were thinking seriously of going to Scandinavia this coming summer, the mail brought a thick brochure from a company that has a fleet of clipper ships http://www.starclippers.com/ We looked it over and although we had never spoken seriously of going to Greece, suddenly Scandinavia flew out the window and the Greek Isles flew in! We'll leave Philadelphia on July 13 and arrive in Athens on the 14th, where we'll board the Star Flyer and spend the next week sailing in and out of Kusadasi, Turkey, and the Greek Isles of Samos, Patmos, Delos, Mykonos and Sifnos, returning to Athens on the 21st (which happens to be our 40th wedding anniversary) and staying there for four night before returning home.
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It isn't likely that I'll have a lot of time for stitching on this amazing trip, but one never knows, and should travel well-prepared!

Saturday, May 05, 2007

In Which Bill Throws a Party

Two weeks ago our friend Bill threw a party. The following is a pictorial record of this most amazing festive event:

On Sunday afternoon, we gathered in Bill and Carol's back yard for drinks and munchies. Members of the Frahlinger String Band were on hand to entertain us, but the picture of them didn't turn out -- they were moving too much! There were probably a hundred of us. There were nametags ready, and we picked up those for Jubilant Joe and Nordic Nancy.

The munchies were yummy. See the elephant centerpiece? It is a foretaste of what was to come! Soon the signal was given that it was time to get onto the buses that had pulled up nearby.
On board, everyone was given a hat. We knew where we were going and why we had received the hats, but at this point I suspect that you, dear reader, do not! Joe looked particularly fetching in his hat, don't you think? Actually, I thought we looked a lot like a group of misguided Shriners.
. . . .
The buses were very comfortable, and in the front of each was a video screen -- we were entertained for the next hour as we traveled by a video of the Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus. That's right -- we were on our way to The Greatest Show on Earth!

We arrived a half hour or so before showtime, giving us time to visit the menagerie. Despite the protests of the animal activists outside, we could see that the animals were well cared for; they were safe and dry and their cages were immaculate and surprisingly spacious.
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Then it was time for the show. As always, I couldn't wait for the elephants!

The zebras were gorgeous, and we noticed that the markings on each one was different from all of the others -- kind of a uique stripey fingerprint. We had very good seats and could see everything very well.


Bello Nock is the star of the show -- he's an amazing clown who does daredevil stunts and holds the attention of all. Bill, our host, is a long-time friend of the Nock family and is Bello's godfather. This isn't the best picture of him, but perhaps you can see his trademark hair.


After the show, we left the Spectrum and crossed the street to Citizens Bank Park, the baseball stadium for Philadelphia, where the Hall of Fame Club at the tip-top had been reserved for us. I couldn't resist taking this picture of the totally empty stadium from so high up.

We were joined by some wonderful guests. Here I am with the Philly Phanatic, the mascot of the Phillies baseball team.


Soon, in came Bello himself, with his mother and brothers. One would expect a great star like this to be full of himself, but he is so nice, so down to earth (which is an odd phrase to use for someone who hangs out on a sway pole and a trapeze!). He spoke with everyone, posed for pictures, and answered questions for a long time. A lovely, lovely man. When asked how he achieves his coiffure, he replied, "A combination of Viagra and Rogaine!"

Bello and the Phanatic couldn't seem to get enough of the kids.


Bill and Carol had thought of everything. There was even an amazing balloon artist at the party -- this lady is wearing a cow-hat that he made especially for her.


Thank you so much, Bill, for a party we'll never forget!

Friday, May 04, 2007

May Day! May Day!

As every year, I remember May 4, 1970 with a heavy heart. Joe had been a student at KSU during the 1966-1967 academic year, and left in June to spend four years with the United States Navy. In the spring of 1970 we were living in Norfolk.
. . . .
When the news broke about the shooting by the National Guardsmen at Kent State, we were filled with shock and horror. We became glued to the television, much as we had back in late November of 1963 when the President was killed.
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We were afraid that the University would be shut down, and with it what had kept us going for the past two and a half years: the hope of returning. We grieved with the families of the lost students.
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The University did survive, and we did return in August of 1971 and stayed until Joe had completed not just his interrupted Bachelor's degree but also a Master's in architecture.
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We have returned to Kent only a couple of times since we left Ohio for good in 1980. But my heart and soul return each year on May 4.
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In Memory
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Allison Krause
Jeffrey Miller
Sandra Scheuer
William Schroeder