Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Gray, Gray

Every once in a while I get a reminder of how many years have passed. Yesterday was one of those days.

I was having lunch in the cafeteria with some of the faculty, three nice people from the math department, and the conversation somehow turned to the first rock concert people had ever attended. And then the best rock concert they'd attended. They really got into it, naming groups and venues I'd never heard of.

They're considerate people, and all at once they noticed I had shared nothing and they all paused and looked my way. "I'm still waiting to attend my first rock concert," I told them. "The closest thing to it was one night back in about 1965, Joe and I and another couple went to the Academy of Music to hear the New Christy Minstrels." Two of them seemed dumbfounded, but Niall, godbless'im, piped up, "The New Christy Minstrels, eh? Did they sing 'Green Green'?" "You bet they sang 'Green Green,' I told him. "And they also sang 'Saturday Night," and 'We'll Sing in the Sunshine' and 'This Ol' Riverboat' and 'Today'" and then somebody else talked about some other group.

Lunch ended and we went back to our respective jobs. I spent the afternoon with the lyrics of "Today" running through my head. And they sounded even sweeter than they did that night 43 years ago.

Today while the blossom still clings to the vine,
I'll taste your strawberries, I'll drink your sweet wine,
A million tomorrows shall all pass away
Ere I forget all the joys that are mine today.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Blooms and Biscuit

One of the families from the Quaker school where I'm employed opened a flower shop. This family is large, and several of their many children have gone though our school. The connection is close and longstanding.

One of the perks of my job includes receiving a small bouquet for my desk from the shop each Monday that school is in session. The arrangement is delivered in the afternoon, usually while I'm in a regularly scheduled meeting, and the container from the previous week's arrangement is picked up.

Sometimes the flowers do well enough that I can bring them home with me on Friday. Such was the case this week. I brought them home and thought about a tablecloth that Dottie had brought me from her trip to Italy. I believed the flowers were a perfect match. I was right.

And now, as they say, for something completely different.


When Sherry was expecting Sam, his in utero name was "Muffin," partly a play on the "bun in the oven" concept (you should pardon the pun) and partly out of a hilarious family conversation about one of the other grandmother's students who had actually been named Muffin. I had a garden-themed quilt top that Sherry had long admired and when she painted the room pale green, I had it quilted and we hung it on the wall adjacent to the crib.

For our MLK Day of Service, Joe and I spent much of the day out at Chris and Sherry's, helping them get some projects completed and moving Sam out of his baby room and into what had been the guest room. Chris brought his garden quilt along and hung it on the wall above his big-boy bed (more about which in a future post). The crib has been put away for now, and the baby room is a storage area for some of the projects-in-progress.

The new baby is due in about five weeks. This person's code name is Biscuit and I, for one, can't wait to meet her or him. Actually, Sherry's pretty eager to make that acquaintance at this point too! This morning I went through the blocks from a garden swap of a couple of years ago and picked out the ingredients for a new garden-theme wall quilt for Biscuit. What fun I'll have getting this one finished. Five weeks 'til the timer rings!

Friday, January 25, 2008

Oh, Bill*! You've Done It Again!

For many years, the last weeks of January brought me the gloomies. Not depression exactly. But that dull, inert feeling that comes from too much cold and too little sun.

Not this year, though! Read on . . . .

The Hancock catalog came day before yesterday and I couldn't wait to peruse it. And just look what I discovered: A two-page spread of Barbara Brackman's William Morris repros!

It is only a matter of time before I cave. Should it be yardage? Charm packs? FQ bundles? Is it time for me to try a jelly roll? And let us not forget the ever-popular option: All of the above?

*And yes, I feel entitled to use the familiar form. Mr. Morris and I have done a lot of business together, and there is still quite a bit of fondling involved. Oh, William! Oh, Bill!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Snowdrops

I saw them yesterday morning on my way to a meeting in another building on the campus. They come up every year, and every year I am surprised and delighted. I know somewhere deep down that snowdrops are the first promise of spring to come. But I don't think about them until I see them that first time. Then I start peering around for evidence of the crocus, the bluebells, the hyacinths, which follow along in sequence, all in due time.

Of course, here Near Philadelphia, we have a long way to go before spring is sprung. Heck, we haven't even had a real snowstorm yet (though we keep hoping, especially those of us who work at schools!).

Spring, of course, means new life, and our family in particular is anticipating new life in just six weeks. And the snowdrops have appeared and I am reminded once again that "To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven." Snowdrops -- and babies -- are part of the Grand Plan.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Thank God It's Tuesday?

Thanking God this morning that I had such a good weekend (and a long weekend to boot) and that starting the work week on a Tuesday makes for a nice short work week.

We had a good time at the 500th win of the school's basketball team under our current coach on Friday night. Saturday I spent the day in fellowship hall with a half dozen good friends, sewing away! I got a lot done and had a delightful time.

I turned my Coffee and Cream Churn Dash top over to a new machine quilter that several of the crowd has been using. She does things differently than I'm used to. She uses bobbin thread to quilt; her goal is for the quilting to show but not actually the thread. She had some samples and I could understand what she was saying. I wasn't totally convinced that I liked this look, but there is pretty much going on on my CCCD quilt, so I decided to let her have it and see when it comes back whether I like this style well enough to use her again. Her work is lovely and she is willing to pick up and deliver and apparently her turn-around time is short and her prices are competitive. So, we shall see. I like the idea of a local resource for my non-custom, meander, and panto quilts.

This is the bag that was the big craze during the summer of 2007, Amy Butler's Frenchy Bag. I first saw it on Nicole's blog, and after my dear friend Kathy surprised me with the patternthe bag, I made pretty many of them, some for myself, and some to give away. I attempted to sell some at the school store, but that didn't work out.

So I was way ahead for holiday gifts. Joe made a trip to Texas at one point and two of the bags became hostess gifts for his sister and niece who housed him.

I liked the Frenchy bag a lot. And Amy writes the best directions. But I never was able to get the top flap to show the stiffness that is its characteristic. I tried various different types and quantitites of interfacing, but it just wasn't to be for me.

Enamoured with the idea of making bags, I picked up a couple of other bag patterns last summer, but it really didn't take off as I had other things in the works.

I don't know were I first saw this Flea Market Bag by Grand Revival, but it was sometime in the last week or two. I predict it will be the bag to make and to carry this summer.

I bought my pattern on line already and it is just calling to me! Doesn't it look gorgeous made up in that fabric that looks so much like your grandmother's bedroom wallpaper? I can picture it in one of the slightly more sedate Kaffe Fassett fabrics, too, with another of them used as the lining. There are two styles -- messenger and tie shoulder -- and two sizes -- large and small, d'uh -- and I just can't wait to get started on one.

Stay tuned. It won't be long!

And now, friends, look what Amy's up to! This pattern could be brand new or it could be an old one. I saw it this weekend in Keepsake's catalog and was immediately smitten. I've always enjoyed hats and last summer took a straw one with a nice black ribbon all over Greece with me. Can't wait to make one, perhaps to match my first Flea Market Bag, doncha think?

This hat would also make a nice gift -- who could resist?

Friday, January 18, 2008

TGIF!


Look, just look, will you at these dancing ladies (and gents). They are about as ready for a weekend (and a long weekend to boot) as I am. It's been a crammed, packed week with way too much going on (she whined). Worked late two days, with evening commitments the other three weeknights. Trying not to give in to the headcold that is lurking somewhere just out of reach. Dealing with snow yesterday afternoon; not a beautiful snow, not a snow so abundant that it would create a Snow Day, but a downright annoying and scary and slippery snow that had my teeth on edge all the way home. Truth be told, by the time I got home I was done and bailed out of my book club meeting. I just couldn't go out again, especially with the slippery sidewalks.

So here we are on the cusp of a weekend (and a long weekend to boot). A busy weekend, to be sure, but with many good things.

  • First, I'm leaving work two hours early! Comp time for the late night on Wednesday. Going straight to the LQS for backing for the Coffee with Cream quilt that is being handed over to the [new] machine quilter tomorrow.

  • Basketball game tonight. The school's coach has 499 wins and the prospects for a major celebration tonight appear excellent. Joe and I don't go to many athletic or sporting events, but decided to be part of this one.

  • A sewing day! Kathleen has taken over fellowship hall at church for the day tomorrow and a scant dozen of us are going to work on our individual projects, share lunch, and enjoy each other's pleasant company.

  • Dinner out! It will be Joe's birthday and Bonnie is treating.

  • Sunday, totally unscheduled except for church.

  • Monday morning, Sam will be at day care and his parents and us have the day off. Joe and I are going to help Sherry and Chris do some things in anticipation of Biscuit's arrival, just 6-1/2 weeks away!

Thank God It's Friday! Thank God for the weekend ahead (and a long weekend to boot)!



Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The Other Victim: No Pictures, Please

I'm grateful that now that since Cpl. Lauterbach's tragic and horrible death has been confirmed, CNN has quit publishing the unpleasant comments of her mother (or is it step-mother?). I couldn't imagine why the woman said the things she did to the press, or why the heck the press didn't employ an editor to delete them. They do have editors, don't they?

It's not just about horror, hype, and shock value; there is also the element of loss. A family mourns a lovely young woman. A Marine office grieves a colleague, a coworker. A roommate is saddened and friends lament Maria's passing.

There is another victim in this case. Another person suffering terrible loss. We don't have a picture (for once, it seems, the media is demonstrating some taste; although since I don't watch much television, for all I know there may be reporters jamming microphones in her face) of her. I'm speaking of young Mrs. Laurean, the woman who has learned her husband is a philanderer, a liar, a possible rapist, a murderer, a destroyer of evidence, a coward, and so much more. May God sustain and comfort her as she tries to make sense of the shreds of her life.

Monday, January 14, 2008

"Grandmom Sing"

What you need to know, right at the beginning, is that in my entire life no one has ever asked me to sing. In fact, many have requested that I stop singing. As I told my son-in-law the other day, I may not have pitch or tune, but I certainly do have volume and repertoire. Think of Mrs. Miller -- remember her? I could give her a run for her money.

We were scheduled to babysit for Sam on Saturday night. When he was a cranky baby, Chris used to walk him and sing to him (Chris has a lovely voice and is in the choir). It turned out that a calendar of national anthems provided the material, and "O Canada" evolved into Sam's bedtime song.

So in anticipation of our evening together, I printed out the lyrics for both the anthem of choice and a back-up anthem, and off we went.

Bedtime came, and we got him into his jamas with no argument. The kid was so tired he knew he was tired. We put him down to bed and Joe began to sing "O Canada." Well, you know, most of us can sing the first couple of lines. It's one of the better national anthems; I always like it when our northern neighbors win at the Olympics, so I have a chance to hear it. But about two-thirds through, it kind of trails off for the unpracticed bass. Sam gave Joe a moderately stern look and then quietly said, "Grandmom sing."

My moment had come. I unfurled my lyric sheet and a capella warbled all three verses of "God Save the Queen." At the line "frustrate their knavish tricks" eyes widened. I sang on proudly, not daring to look Joe's way.

And at the end, the darling child intoned, "Thank you, Grandmom." And settled down for the night.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Slow Cloth, Healing Cloth

It was dear Juliann who provided the link that set me to thinking today. After I read what sharonb had to say in her second post on Slow Cloth, I went back and read the first one (scroll down about two-thirds of the post). Earlier in the day I had re-noticed the subtitle on Tanya's blog (go ahead, take a look -- she quotes the often-but-not-this-time dour Ecclesiastes). It all took me back to a time I hadn't thought about in quite a while.

I had finished my first year at seminary and during final exam week, my mother's husband had died. A week later I began CPE at a large inner city teaching hospital. CPE, Clinical Pastoral Education, is a requirement of almost all seminaries. The student spends the entire summer with a diverse group of other seminary students, providing pastoral care to an institutional population, learning from each other and from the experience of ministry itself. It is grueling.


My hospital was a Level I Trauma Center and also a Regional Spinal Cord Center. I spent every sixth night and every sixth weekend day and night at the hospital, the only chaplain in the 900-bed institution. The number of deaths was shocking and horrifying, but even more so the senseless violence of drive-by shootings that left random victims paralyzed for life. I baptized hours-old babies who would not live through the night, I called families to ask them to come in because their son/daughter had been in an accident. I witnessed a death-bed wedding one night and prayed with the widow the next morning. I finished my CPE unit late in August, with perhaps one week remaining of summer before my seminary middler year was to begin.


I was exhausted. I so needed that week to spend enjoying time with my children, two of whom in the next few months would be applying to colleges. I wanted to read, to play, to sew, to hang out.


It was not to be. The day after CPE ended, my mother's care-provider drew my attention to a lump in her neck, and much of the week was spent at medical offices. The Alzheimer disease was now compounded with a likely-fast-moving cancer.


September brought a month of learning Hebrew, 40+ hours per week. I got through it in some strange blur, though not without some tears. In the few days off from school before the semester would begin, I contacted a therapist, realizing that there were still "issues" about my mother and our relationship that needed addressing, and there wasn't much time.


Two weeks into the new semester, I had some sort of a melt down. I couldn't concentrate on my classes, I was suddenly panicky rather than proud about Tom's and Sherry's college searches, and the therapy involved revisiting extraordinarily painful times that I had thought were over for ever. Back in my blur, one morning I bumped into one of my professors from the previous year. All he said was, "How are you?" and I knew I was not good at all. He invited me in to talk, and he listened. I spoke about how overwhelmed I was, how my four classes weren't making sense, I was afraid of being unable to do my work, I didn't want to fall behind. He listened some more. And then there was a silence. Finally, he said, "What do you want to do?"


I don't know where the answer came from. I was a new quilter who had only a handful of completed projects in her portfolio, and no time whatsoever to explore any new ones. "I want to make a quilt for my daughter," I said, without thinking. In retrospect, I suppose he was referring to whether I should stumble along, reduce my courseload, or drop out of seminary. But as I said the words, I knew they were a deep truth, and somehow the way out of the blur.


Another silence. "Then do it," he said. "And do it with intentionality." We talked a little further and agreed that I'd also drop two of my courses, keep the ones I enjoyed the most, work hard at the therapy, and not worry about graduating on time.


Sherry and I went that very night to the shop to choose her fabrics, and I started cutting and piecing the next day. The top came together with few problems, and I spent the rest of the semester hand-quilting it. During semester exams, I made an appointment to show it to my professor.


Quilting with intentionality. As I stitched, thinking, pondering, praying, reflecting, body and soul were pieced back together. Slow cloth. Healing cloth. Intentionality.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Anticipating Chautauqua

Soon after I became a blogger, we went to Chautauqua for two weeks, and I had a hard time explaining to my readers just what Chautauqua is all about. My first post tried to sum it up but I never felt that it succeeded. This morning I found this picture (and do not click for details where it says because that won't work) and found the three word caption to explain what I tried so hard to do in nine paragraphs!

We've decided to go back to Chautauqua this summer. The theme for Week Six is "Healing the Globe," and will examine issues such as maternal and child health, AIDS, TB, malaria, diseases related to global warming, the consequences of natural disasters, and response to famine and pandemics. In addition to attending the morning lectures on the theme, we'll also hear the Symphony three nights, sail, sew, attend other programs and lectures, and spend an evening with Peter, Paul and Mary. We'll attend religious services with thousands of other Christians. It will be a rich and full week.

Arranging accommodations is always interesting. We do it by phone and email, renting places we've never seen based on price, location, and the descriptions by the owners. One year it was a tiny house with plenty of space in a good location. The price was amazingly reasonable and there was not one single comfortable chair or sofa inside or outside of the place! The next year we rented a darling apartment that was practically perfect. So much so that the Institution now rents it to house their special guests and it's not available to us. For two years we spent two weeks in a nice little second floor apartment at a very low cost. It was a little longer walk to the Amphitheatre, but that wasn't a problem. We'd probably go back there again if it were available this summer, but it isn't. So once again we're buying a pig in a poke and it sounds like a pretty attractive pig. Close in to the center of activity, it is a studio condo with the porch that we can't live without.

At the end of our week in western New York state, we'll drive down to Kent, Ohio, and spend a night with Lloyd and Roberta before heading back home.

I'm looking forward to going back to this pedestrian community of faith, culture, and relaxation. I'm ready for the reflection and renewal that the Chautauqua experience never fails to bring.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Make My Day!

Now, y'all know I do not generally go in for blogging awards and the like. They make me think of chain letters and all that kind of pyramid stuff.

But for some reason I was absolutely tickled to receive the "You Make My Day Award" from Karrin. It got me to thinking about the great big hole on those rare days that I can't get to a computer and check my daily reads. Those blogs have become very important to me. They provide a variety of perspectives, humor, insights, entertainment, all of that. They make my day.

So I'm going to do it. Just this once. Here are the rules: "Give the award to up to 10 people whose blog brings you happiness and inspiration and makes you feel happy about Blogland. Beware! You may get the Award several times! Let them know by posting a note on their blog so they can pass it on."

Here is a list of five Blogs that make my day:

Mz. G. Mrs. Goodneedle doesn't post every day, but almost every day. Her blog is usually the first place I go. Mz. G's posts are spare, uncluttered, and attractive. We have quite a bit in common: Lutheranism, quilting, family. Her signature is "Life is Good." Most of the time I know that, but on those rare occasions that I don't, I can count on Mz. G to remind me.

Taniwa. Tanya's blog almost always tells me something about Japanese culture as seen through the eyes of an American. She is a lovely person who has a strong faith and makes lovely quilts. Since one of my DDIL's decorates her home with Japanese things and the other DDIL comes from Japanese ancestry, I have come to think of Tanya as some sort of long-lost part of our extended family!

Frank. I've said it before and I'll prolly say it again: "I'm not a poetry person." And yet the way Frank puts words together either stirs my soul or makes me laugh. Both of which make my day. A couple of years ago I thought his work warranted wider audience than his email list and proposed we do a blog together. He writes, I illustrate and post. He's more faithful than I am.

Karen Dianne. All you have to do is take a look at her picture at the top of her blog, and you just know you are going to like this woman. A quilter, a person of faith, an animal lover. And she posts the most wonderful quotes. She lives with multiple sclerosis and occasionally mentions how this impacts her life, but doesn't dwell on it. I've only been reading her blog for a few months. She makes my day on many days.

Chez. The complete antithesis of all the foregoing awardees, Chez is a brilliant and insightful writer. He doesn't quilt and certainly has nothing to do with church, but he's a more gentle soul than he'd care to have his readers realize. He doesn't post every day, but when he does, he never fails to make mine. Of my five nominees, he's the only one I won't notify. I hate it when he gags.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Sewing Again!

Each year, it seems, someone in our monthly block group chooses a Bear Tracks block for us to make. Last year I think there were two of us -- I was one (yes, one of my infamous WISPs) and I sent a nice black-on-black background and asked my group mates to use four different batiks. The results were stunning. Getting that set of blocks into a flimsy is a goal for 2008.

Chizuru is the first blockie for the new year, and I wasn't a bit surprised when she chose Bear Tracks. We're all getting kind of good at making them by now! Chizuru sent the background fabric and the darkest one, and asked us to add three different fabrics for the remaining pawprints. I had fun digging through my daiwabo taupes to find the right things. This goes off in the mail on Monday! First completed block of the new year!

For ages, I've wanted to do a leader-ender project. You know, the kind of quilt that kind of makes itself? Where you do a fair amount of cutting of components and then use the cut pieces as leader-enders when you are piecing blocks for another project. If you stay at it long enough, the cut pieces turn into a top!

My problem was that I didn't know what kind of a project I wanted out of my leader-ender endeavor. Then early in the summer I saw the Jewel Box quilt at the LQS and was utterly smitten! I put two and two together (figuratively and literally) and decided that my leader-ender project would be a Jewel Box! I dug around in my scrap and FQ stash for the right colors and then grabbed a bunch of shirtings (I need more of those) and started cutting. In the basket you can see the HST and 4-patch blocks I've completed so far.

And this pretzel bin, compliments of my dear sister, is where I keep all my cut squares! As the one empties, the other fills!

At some point, I'll have miraculously and painlessly completed all the component blocks I need and then will begin leader-endering them into sixteen-unit blocks. I believe there are nine blocks in the LQS quilt. I don't know whether mine will be nine or sixteen. But I'm so delighted to have begun! Stay tuned.

Bo, who is totally recovered from his pancreatitis and back to his Bodacious self, came down and snooped around while I was sewing. I didn't have the camera handy, which is a pity, because he was acting mighty cute and I think some of my readers would like to see him back in his prime. Again, stay tuned.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Images from Richmond

Sam doesn't see his maternal aunts and uncles very often, but Sherry talks to him about them frequently and shows them pictures. She'll say, "Here's a picture of a harp. Aunt Anastasia plays the harp." "Aunt Amy likes to play soccer." The result of all of this is that when Sam does get together with the rest of the family, he doesn't make strange with them at all, but engages easily. Here he is working on the computer with Aunt Amy.

Very late one night, my personal politician made some predictions. It won't be long before we find out how well he did.
A body can take only so much of the gifts, the stockings, the festivity, and then a body has to get a nap.

Especially if said body spent several hours working on the gutters and other house projects.

Did I ever mention Joe's distaste for squirrels? I won't go into detail; suffice it to say there is no love lost between my hubby and these particular rodents. Here he is opening his stocking to find a squirrel wearing a Santa hat. This is Andrew's way of getting even for all of the years Joe put bags of cheese curls in his stocking.

And here we have Anastasia and Tom, our gracious hostess and host in their bright and cheery kitchen.

Let's Make A Deal!

I remember when I was a child and had to stay home from school because I was sick, I often was permitted to lie on the sofa under a blanket and watch television. A show that fascinated me was Let's Make A Deal. It might still be on, for all I know. I just remember that peculiarly dressed contestants would show up at the studio with something to trade, and were ridiculously excited when selected to deal. They would trade a hard-boiled egg, for example, for a mysterious box. My favorite line was, "OR you can have what is behind the curtain Carol is now pointing to!" Oh, the indecision!

Blogger/readers, let's make a deal! After I reorganized my UFO/WISPs list, I thought about some of the things I have and evaluated the likelihood of their ever getting used or finished. I thought I would put them out there and see what someone might be willing to trade for them. Whaddya think?

These patterns are all about stars; in fact, they are called "Galaxy of Stars." They are nice enough patterns, and I know I'm not ever going to do anything with them. There are twelve of them, and they are all very clear. Does someone out there want them? What would you be willing to trade for them? Items of possible interest to me include: shirting scraps of decent sizes or Fat 8ths that I could work into my jewel box quilt in progress; batik scraps or Fat 8ths; cream background scraps or Fat 8ths. Or perhaps you have something else you would like to trade for these patterns. They are new, never used, not marked up in any way. Wanna make a deal?

This is a set of BOM packets. There are twelve and each one contains the pattern and all fabrics (batiks/marbles) for the block. The series is called "Ancient Spirits of the Mesas." One has been opened and carefully reclosed. They sold for $10.95 plus shipping per packet when I bought them. Presently they are selling for $16.95 plus shipping shipping. My set does not include fabric for lattice, border, backing, binding, just the twelve blocks. You can check the quilt out here. And here's an even better picture. I bought these many, many years ago when I was a fairly new quilter and the whole BOM idea was brand new to me. Is this project more to your taste than mine? What might you want to trade for this set of block patterns and fabrics?

This might work out, or it might not. Could be that no one out there is interested in these goodies or it could be that what someone might offer to trade isn't something I can use. But it is certainly worth a try. Just, please, nobody offer me "what's behind the curtain Carol is now pointing to!"

A New Year: Time to Reflect, to Ponder, Perhaps to Plan

Joe and I have never been major New Year's celebrants. We don't like going out to big "places" for commercial parties with crowds, excessive drink, and noisemakers. Joe particularly dislikes funny hats. For several years we had quiet dinners at home with another couple. For two years we drove up to State College, PA, and attended their First Night celebration. One year we went to a very lovely small party next-door. This year, for the second time, we went to Richmond to spend the holiday with Anastasia and Tom; when the rest of the kids heard we were going, they, too, decided to go. It was a splendid evening, enjoying Anastasia's delicious dinner, watching Sam (whose current favorite songs are "O Canada" and "Deep and Wide" -- talk about an eclectic palate for a 2-year-old), and playing Celebrities together.

New Year's Day started with Anastasia's multi-grain pancakes (yum yum) and then the long trip home. January 2, my last day of Winter Break, was spent doing a bazillion loads of laundry and preparing for a birthday dinner for Carol.

So it is today, already the third, before I have the opportunity to do the year-end reflecting and coming-year hoping and planning. I don't do Resolutions -- I'm convinced that they are a set-up for quick failure. And, truth be told, my mother set me against them the year that she decided to write my list of resolutions for me. But reflecting and pondering, I think, are appropriate, so here goes, in no particular order of importance:

. . . I've learned this past year that my kids do not need me to over-gift them. I cut back on the Christmas giving, but not quite enough.

. . . I've had reinforced this past year that our kids -- all six of them now! -- are tremendously capable people, and very interesting, too. Watching Sherry and Chris become spectacular parents, taking joy in the new house purchase of Tom and Anastasia, and pride in the career accomplishments of Amy and Andrew has been important.

. . . Since I started the part-time transcription job, I have 9 or 10 fewer hours each week to do what I want to do. This has impacted on my sewing and also on an important friendship. I'd like to take some time to assess my time and how I spend it to see if I can get back a little of the time for sewing and the relationship.

. . . I made a new spreadsheet yesterday of my UFOs and my WISPs. This used to be -- for no good and sane reason -- a mid-May reassessment project. That makes no sense, and so January is becoming the time. I think there are 46 items on that list. I'd like to get at least 10 of them finished before starting anything new.

. . . I notice that I've become more open and forthright about sharing my faith on my blog. I feel good about this.

. . . The books I read either come to me as Amazon.com recommendations or are selected by the book club. Someone shared this link with me recently, and it occurs to me that I've never heard of most of these books, much less read them. I'd like to change that.

. . . I have enough clothes. I am overweight and out of shape. I'd like to not buy any more clothes until I am buying a different and healthier size.

. . . I've begun thinking more before spending money and, I think, spending more wisely. I'd like to see this continue.

. . . I'd like more frequently to find the balance between too little/too much on the calendar.

. . . and perhaps that is enough reflecting, pondering, and planning for now.