Thursday, December 31, 2009
I'd thought about touching on some of the low points, but my friend Chez has, once again nailed it. Done it so well that I'm not even going to try.
Instead, I'm going to look forward with joy to 2010 which has got to be a better year. After all, it is bringing me two new grandbabies!
And I hope it brings you equally wonderful things!
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Come on -- tell her (for I believe she'll read this post and the comments) how truly terrific and spectacular it is!
I'm presently re-adding some of my Quilters links, and some (the commercial ones and the ones who don't update all that often) I'll keep on Bloglovin.
And. Watch this blog for a RAoK/PIF to be posted within the next week!
Celebrating, Near Philadelphia!
Sunday, December 27, 2009
Bodacious, normally a rather timid and sedate sort of fellow, was quite into Christmas this year. When I got up Christmas morning, he was under the tree, almost smiling, but left that spot before I got the camera. As Joe and I opened our gifts to each other, he was very much involved, sitting on the parcels and nestling into the discarded gift wrap.
Once the family arrived, everyone thought that the first present to be given out should be Caroline's callapitter quilt. Her stuffed VHC that she carries everywhere is named "Charlie," and as she examined the quilt, over and over, she'd point and say, "Charlie!" It was almost as big a hit as the stuffed Big Bird that A&A gave her.
For years, one section of the kitchen counter has served as the home for the laptop, the bills, the incoming mail, the recipes to sort, and all that kind of thing. It has been unsightly. One of Joe's gifts to me was this terrific little Mission desk for the morning room, just right for holding the laptop, the mail sorter, and place underneath for organized storage!
On Christmas Eve afternoon, operating on the principle of "It's Christmas in Australia," I resisted no longer and opened the bounty that Lurline had sent me. I'd opened the magazine earlier (with her blessing) and had enjoyed reading the detailed instructions on a double-layer Dresden plate. I marveled at the Bodacious look-alike tape measure she sent me, the precious apple pincushion, and the absolutely terrific table runner! Thank you so much, my generous new friend! We're saving the sweets for another day and will put the sweet little tin to good use -- perhaps holding paperclips on the new desk!
Today we had a mixed constituency brunch; about 21 were in attendance. I'd woken up with an inexplicable partial black eye, quite mysterious. I imagined being asked about it 21 times, so we put a sign on the front door: "She doesn't know how she got it. Welcome. Please come in." Some people figured it out more quickly than others. It remains a mystery.
Joe made traditional Swedish glogg which warmed everyone who partook. I made the egg-cheese-sausage casserole and something new: Greens and Grits -- something we'd enjoyed at a Cape May B&B in October. Many of the guests brought something along; Susie's grilled pineapple was a big hit as was Bonnie's coffee cake. The best line of the day, best preserved out of context was Honna's: "Are most circus people Republicans?"
Another reader wrote that she can help me to do what I want to do! To change the appearance of my blog from a two-column to a three-column where I can have my links the way I really want them. And to spiff up my header/banner as well! She's asked me to send her some info and I've done that, and now it is up to her to work her magic.
I'm very excited!
I went looking in Google Images for a picture about change. Some that came up were about the Obama campaign. Others were about caterpillars. I liked both references. Since I just made the Very Hungry Caterpillar quilt for my granddaughter, I went with that idea.
Stay tuned, please. Come back, please. To see my new look!
'til Blogging Near Philadelphia comes out of its cocoon,
Saturday, December 26, 2009
I'm on the verge of the tedium of reinstalling all of those links in my sidebar, making it incredibly long once again. Which I don't care for.
What I'd really like, however, is a three column layout, with my posts in the wider center column, my link groups in the right sidebar, and my causes and things in the left sidebar. I surfed around and found some ways to convert some Blogger templates to three columns, but not the template I presently use. And, besides, I've no confidence whatsoever that following the directions would actually work for me. Since I don't speak html or anything other than about a cup and a half of Spanish and a handful of Koine Greek (I do write shorthand, however, for what that may be worth).
So I thought that perhaps the way to find someone I could pay to do this for me would be to ask around. Ask other bloggers. Perhaps bloggers who have used a service for blog design and have been pleased. Who would care to recommend. Or perhaps there is even someone who reads this blog who has the skill I need.
Anbody know somebody who knows somebody who knows somebody? I'd love to hear from you.
Friday, December 25, 2009
The church was more full than we'd anticipated, and in the back pew next to us was a family we didn't know. I made sure the kids had candles. I was happy to see my friend Helen in the front with her grandson, and some other people I'd not seen for a while. It was a lovely service.
My Christmas started this morning with this wonderful email from Helen:
Thought you would get a kick out of this--
Luke loves to go to church. Every year at Christmas he wants to go to Grandma's church. 1/2 way thru the service he leaned in and thanked me for bringing him to church. When he is at his other grandmother's house he asks to go to her church--also Lutheran.
When he saw you he said I want the Lady in the Blue Shirt to come to us. He was thrilled you came around to collect our offering and I was thrilled I found it. Whew.
Then he wanted to get into the line for the blessing with the Lady in the Blue Shirt. Luckily that was easy. Later he wanted the Lady in the Blue Shirt to light his candle. Again we were lucky! Later we saw Joe cleaning up the pews and I told Luke that he was the the husband of the Lady in the Blue Shirt. He was much impressed.
So for what ever reason he was awed by you tonight--Must have been the blue shirt or as he says it "shurt." Maybe he senses your kind nature.
Have a blessed Christmas.
I assume the blue was for Advent--or was it just what you wanted to wear?
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
I'm not calling you by name: You know who you are. And I'm not into public humiliation.
I don't have any reason to think that you'll read this; you've never given me any indication that you've looked at my blog at all, much less left a comment. It's kind of a last hope effort to communicate with you.
I wish I knew what happened. That's what it boils down to.
Back in August when we signed up for the Advent Swap, we agreed to
. . . Send a weekly email to each other
. . . Update our blogs at least once each week
. . . Make a Christmas gift for each other
. . . Send the Christmas gift and twenty-four other small gifties to each other by a certain date
. . . Notify each other when the parcel is received
. . . Open one gift each day in Advent
. . . Become friends (optional)
It sounded like fun.
I received a couple of emails from you early on. So far, so good.
And then they stopped. I continued to write for a while and eventually gave up. Your blog was never updated. I made you a table runner from William Morris fabrics for your main gift; I made some other small things and shopped for additional things. I sent you a parcel by the mailing date.
But you never wrote that you received it. You haven't emailed me in months. And I've not received a parcel from you. And now, when I write to try to confirm that you did, in fact, receive my parcel, the emails bounce back.
I wish I knew what happened. There are many possible scenarios. In about half of them, you aren't a very nice person. But the other half are worse: Perhaps you were struck by some horrible tragedy. I've no idea. As a Lutheran I've been taught to ascribe the kindest explanation possible for my neighbor's transgressions. Doing that in this case is complicated and unsettling; it is kinder, I think, to believe you've been the victim of some serious misfortune that has prevented you from contacting me in any way. But that is sad, and I guess I'd really rather go with the "not a very nice person" option, but at the beginning, you seemed so very nice, like someone I was eager to get to know better and to wish lived Not So Far From Philadelphia.
If something happened that made you unable to honor your commitment to the swap, that is understandable. Life gets in the way. I just wish you would tell me that. And that you received my package.
Okay. Now I've said what I need to say. I'm going to try to let go of you now. Be well.
And God bless.
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
My mailbox has a couple of hundred messages in it. Most of them are comments that you have so thoughtfully left. And that I really intended/hoped/planned to answer. And we all know how that goes.
So I'm claiming a kind of comment amnesty in Light (pun intended) of the season. I'm going to forgive myself for not getting them answered and delete them. Please know that I read every one.
Perhaps this could be the start of a blogworldwide Comment Amnesty for all of those who are drowning in unanswered emails. If I had the time and skill, I'd develop a Comment Amnesty button for the sidebar that people could grab and post. That would be splendid. But if I had that kind of time and skill, I wouldn't be in this predicament!
And there's no picture above because (a) I Google-imaged "amnesty" and couldn't bear to use any of what came up and (b) I didn't think about the road to hell until I was well into the post.
Prolly just as well.
Please: Join me in holiday stress reduction by claiming Comment Amnesty for yourself!
Breathing Easier, near Philadelphia
Monday, December 21, 2009
If you like Frank's writing, you can read more of it here. The link in my sidebar is Carolina Singerman.
IT WASN'T THAT HE DIDN'T LIKE CHRISTMAS
HE ENJOYED THE HOLIDAY FUN
ALL THE BRIGHT COLORS AND SUDDEN GOOD WILL
AND THE CHILDREN'S HAPPY SUSPENSE
BUT HE COULDN'T BELIEVE IN CHRISTMAS
IN THE INCARNATION I MEAN
GOD LIVING A MAN-LIFE LIKE HIS? WHAT FOR?
IT JUST DIDN'T MAKE SENSE TO HIM
HE SAT BY THE FIRE
WARM IN HIS HOME
ON CHRISTMAS EVE ALONE
THE FAMILY GONE OFF TO MIDNIGHT MASS
HE HEARD A THUMP AT THE WINDOW
AND THEN ANOTHER
SOME MISCHIEF BOY OUT FOR FUN HE THOUGHT
HE WENT TO THE WINDOW TO CHASE HIM WITH A GLANCE
BUT FOUND NO BOY
BUT A SPARROW FLOCK
LURED BY THE LIGHT AND SIGHT OF WARMTH
HAD TRIED TO COME THROUGH HIS WINDOW
THEY HUDDLED NOW IN THE SNOW
WITH NO PLACE TO GO
AND HE FELT COMPASSION FOR THEM
HE PUT ON HIS BOOTS AND JACKET AND SCARF
AND OUT HE WENT TO OPEN THE GARAGE
TO GIVE THEM SHELTER
BUT THEY WOULD NOT COME
SO HE TURNED ON THE LIGHT
BUT THEY WOULD NOT COME
HE WENT AND GOT BREAD
AND THREW IT MANNA LIKE UPON THE SNOW
A PATH TO FOLLOW
BUT THEY WOULD NOT COME
HE TRIED TO HERD THEM IN
SHOUTING AND WAVING HIS ARMS
BUT THEY WOULD NOT COME
I'M SCARING THEM HE THOUGHT
I'M SO BIG COMPARED TO THEM
IF BUT FOR A MOMENT I COULD BE A SPARROW
I COULD LEAD THEM THROUGH THE DOOR
I COULD LEAD THEM THROUGH.....THE DOOR
FRANK A. VOLLMER
Trying to Comprehend the Incarnation, Near Philadelphia
Saturday, December 19, 2009
The extended family was small, too. On the one side, two girl cousins, sisters. On the other side, two cousins, a brother and a sister, who grew up to move far away. And another girl, a singleton.
When we all grew up, my sister and I looked at that singleton and felt sorry that she didn't have any more cousins than just us (and the ones who moved far away). We decided that in such a small family, cousins should be shared.
And so we had five girl cousins, all grown up and married to tall men. The girl cousins would get together for lunch and laughter from time to time. The tall husbands would show up at weddings and major funerals.
Then one sister-cousin and her tall husband moved far away to a warmer clime. And somehow, we started seeing more of the other husbands. These tall men learned about cousinly laughter. And came to enbrace it. We got to know them better. For too short a time.
First we lost the one who remained a redhead, even after retirement. The one who was good in emergencies, who could fix anything, the one I was closest to, except for my own.
And too soon after that we lost the funny one, the quirky one, the one who fathered four daughters and then bought a male dog, the one who loved to travel.
Four girl cousins and two tall husbands out to dinner together, reminiscing about the cousin who moved south. And then we got word that her husband was gone; her husband, the one we felt we knew the least, the one who liked camping, of whom my strongest memory was being their flower girl at the age of four when my grown-up cousin married this tall, handsome man.
And now we have lost the fourth man, the tall and broad-shouldered one whom we'd come to believe was invincible after a near tragedy in the spring, the one who hunted, who set off fireworks, who could tell a good story with great detail, the one who wore the boots and who, on his last day, had hunted.
Four girl cousins. Who will gather again. Who will laugh again.
And one tall husband.
Friday, December 18, 2009
And then it changed. It was Sherry's last year in college and, as I did each December, I left after lunch one day to drive out to the middle of Pennsylvania to bring her home for winter break. I so enjoyed that solitary drive out there, an easy drive with pleasant scenery, and the wonderful anticipation of the return trip with my best girl in the front seat next to me, sharing what her last weeks had been made of and what her hopes and plans for the weeks off would be. My classical radio station had just begun playing Christmas music and I knew I had about one hour of the two-plus hour trip to enjoy it before I'd lose the station. I had come to a stretch of highway with no other cars around to jockey position when the radio began to play the most beautiful rendition of "Once in Royal David's City," sung by a boys' choir. The slowness, the simplicity, the loveliness of the carol moved me so much. I didn't want it to come to an end. I've never heard that version again, but the carol -- one that isn't played all that often -- has become the one I will stop anything to listen to.
I heard the carol again yesterday. Again I was driving when it came on. And I pulled over, stopped my car, and just listened. I set aside my worries about the economy, my stress at work, and even my sadness for my newly widowed cousin, and traveled back in time to that trip to Gettysburg when I was filled with joy and anticipation as I listened to the sweet voices of those young boys. I remembered and I felt blessed.
It is the final week of Advent. I look forward to visits with siblings and cousins, to the logs in the fireplace, to being with my children and grandchildren, and to the Christ Child's being born/borne anew in me.
Once in royal David's city
stood a lowly cattle shed,
where a mother laid her baby
in a manger for his bed:
Mary was that mother mild,
Jesus Christ her little child.
He came down to earth from heaven,
who is God and Lord of all,
and his shelter was a stable,
and his cradle was a stall;
with the poor, the scorned, the lowly,
lived on earth our Savior holy.
And, through all his wondrous childhood,
he would honor and obey,
love and watch the lowly maiden
in whose gentle arms he lay:
Christian children all must be
mild, obedient, good as he.
For he is our childhood's pattern,
day by day like us he grew;
he was little, weak and helpless,
tears and smiles like us he knew.
and he feeleth for our sadness,
and he shareth in our gladness.
And our eyes at last shall see him,
through his own redeeming love;
for that Child who seemed so helpless
is our Lord in heaven above;
and he leads his children on
to the place where he is gone.
Not in that poor lowly stable,
with the oxen standing round,
we shall see him; but in heaven,
set at God's right hand on high;
when like stars his children crowned,
all in white shall wait around.
Thursday, December 17, 2009
The list of tasks is long -- the rest of the shopping, the wrapping, the baking; the cards, the rest of the decorating (if there is to be any), the getting the guest room ready; the calendar.
Superimposed on seasonal stress are unexpected and difficult events at work. And economic worries for Joe.
And night before last my dear cousin's dear husband passed away suddenly. Such sadness at such a beautiful time of year.
I've been too busy to write, too busy even to read the other blogs. But this morning I snatched a couple of moments and went to Tanya's blog where her story brought some much-needed tears.
And then a smile.
I think you would like to read it, too.
Monday, December 14, 2009
The first one was a gift from my sister back in 1981 and over the years Carol has given me most of the others, although I believe I did buy one or two.
The scarf on the mantel was a gift from my sister a few years back; it is just perfect there and shows off the Swedes so nicely. Sherry has said that if I ever do get to go to Sweden I'm going to be disappointed if I find out that people aren't all wearing little red knitted sweaters . . . .
I do like seeing the lighted Christmas tree, especially a week or two before Christmas as the wrapped packages begin to accumulate beneath. But neither I nor Joe really enjoys trimming the tree. And now we don't have our kids to help us out. A half dozen years ago when we had a particularly frisky kitty, Jack, we decided it would be folly to have a full-size tree and elected to get a tabletop tree. That worked out very well -- Jack found the wrappings and the ribbons pretty fascinating and didn't seem to feel the need to try to climb the little tree.
When we do get a full size tree, I like a tall skinny one (shaped more like Joe than like me, actually). Those are hard to find.
This year we decided to go back to the tabletop tree. We got it on Saturday. It holds just one string of lights and we carefully selected which ornaments to put on. The angel on the top was made back in the early '80s when Sherry and Andrew were in nursery school. We don't know which of them made which angel; one year one tops the tree, another year the other will. And that suits us fine. You can see my SSCS packages, still intact, to the right. My sister made the tree skirt as a gift a couple of years ago. In 40 years we'd never had one and we love the time and effort she put into making this one for us.
I usually make four cranberry apricot amaretto tarts each year. Three of them are gifts to people who have come to anticipate them and the fourth stays here. The tarts are a lot of work with a very peculiar crust that calls for grated lemon peel, raw egg yolks and hard boiled egg yolks among other things. The recipe calls for a lattice crust. I tried that once. And that was enough. The next year I was inspired to make the star crust topping and that is what I've done ever since. I started making the tarts around five o'clock and took them out of the oven about 9:15. Tomorrow they'll get wrapped in foil and go into the freezer until it is time to give them away.
The candles are in the windows, the Advent hanging is in the foyer, and the nativity scene is on the mail table. Packages are gradually getting wrapped. It is beginning to look a lot like Christmas, here Near Philadelphia.
Sunday, December 13, 2009
Wednesday, December 09, 2009
Rather surprisingly, I had almost a half yard of one of the fabrics from the line -- I'd bought it for another project, and it was enough to do the binding.
This is for a little girl who is to be born in mid-January. I hope to see her mom within the week to give it to her. The family is Vietnamese and the picture of this little girl's brother is so cute; I just know she is going to be adorable.
My granddaughter has formed a rather serious attachment to a stuffed Very Hungry Caterpillar. She calls him Charlie and never leaves home without him.
On Monday I had a flashback to having seen some VHC fabric and began an on-line search. Not only did I find fabric, but found a design, and all of the fabric precut, for a very reasonable price! I phoned the shop and spent some time talking with the nicest woman who said she did have a kit and would get it out in the mail to me that very day.
The kit came today. The fabrics are great. The directions are clear. I'm certain I can get this quilt made, tied, and bound before December 25, even if I'm binding on the 24th.
And the shop is called Tennessee Quilts. No affiliation, yadda yadds, just a super satisfied customer who would buy from them again in a minute!
Okay, now to the cutting table.
Tuesday, December 08, 2009
I've shown remarkable self restraint and not even considered opening my SSCS parcels. That sounds good, doesn't it? But the truth is more like "I've been crazy busy and haven't had a chance to shake, sniff, or otherwise explore said parcels."
I've got a little baby quilt finished that needs to be bound, and as soon as that is finished (within a day or two, one would hope), I can post a picture of that.
And I ordered a quick kit (I almost never buy kits) for a Very Hungry Caterpillar small quilt for Caroline. She has a stuffed caterpillar that she carries around, and her mom assures me that she will love this little quilt.
Stay tuned. Please.
Saturday, December 05, 2009
I'm involved in a pollyanna that will meet this week. For the past several years, the gift exchange has been white elephants and this year we decided to get something nice in the ten-to-fifteen-dollar range. I had made a pair of aprons earlier in the year for a wedding shower and thought one of these aprons would be just the thing for the pollyanna. I got it all done and then did some odds and ends. I sure hope whoever ends up with it is an apron-wearer. So many people aren't these days, and that just astonishes me. They must be fastidious cooks. Or perhaps they don't cook at all.
When I came home, I was tired and needed a bit of a nap. While I waited for Joe to come home from his errands, I looked at the mail, both electronic and snail. I was delighted to find that the latter had brought me my SSCS parcel. It came from Lurline in Oz and is very enticing. It even smells a bit of chocolate! I think I'd best get someone to hide it from me or I'll never make it to Christmas morning.
We were permitted to open the ornament that was enclosed, and I just loved the one that Lurline selected for me. I've never seen one like it and am eager to get our tree up and put this terrific angel on it!
Shortly before we finished sewing, someone looked outside and noticed that it was snowing "but not sticking." That has changed. While those who work for schools (all but one of the six of us and that one has retired from teaching) find snowfall on a weekend to be an utter waste, there is something magical about the first snowfall of the year.
Himself and I went out for pizza for dinner and the snow is clinging to the ground and apparently up to four inches are predicted.
I don't want to be out in it, but I do love to look out on it.
So that's my Saturday, Near Philadelphia. It was pretty darned good!
Friday, December 04, 2009
And the third parcel was from Kim and is photographed right here! No, she didn't send me that big yellow cat. Or that quilt on the chair. Those are background for what she did send. Look! I won the pattern giveaway she had recently and she sent it along with a bonus: Two of her "share the love" tissue holders! Isn't that just wonderful!
Now to think who to share the second tissue holder with. Hmmmmmm. . . .
Thank you, dear Kim!
Thursday, December 03, 2009
So I put Quilting Lessons into my shopping cart and eventually when the book I'd preordered was published, my parcel arrived. And I started right in on Quilting Lessons. I liked that it was short, self-contained chapters, just the kind of thing to read a bit of at night, before turning out the light.
It is about a woman in academia who is abruptly immobilized professionally. She is part-way through writing a book and gets stuck. It's more than writer's block. It is, I believe, depression. You can read reviews here. For me, it was an okay book. I'm fortunate to not have ever experienced depression (I get whelmed and panicky from time to time and have the occasional blue day, but never the kind of thing others have spoken of). I would have liked the book more had she included photographs of her quilts.
This isn't a book I need to keep or read again. As I said, it didn't speak to me in ways I could really relate. I'd like to pass it along, to give it to someone who might understand it better. Someone who knows what depression is, who may use quilting as a tool to beat it, much the way I proclaim that quilting is what helps me to keep body and soul together. If you are this person, or if your good friend is this person, please let me know, and I'll send it on.
Wednesday, December 02, 2009
Over the years of blogging, I've followed so many different blogs. Some eventually seem to evaporate and others say goodbye and close down (don't get me started on how much I've been missing Mrs. Goodneedle, just don't get me started). Sometimes a blog on my sidebar will change its tone and I'll find I'm not really that interested in what the blogger has to say any longer. This happened a couple of times, for instance there was the time that a quilter began sharing very personal aspects of her life -- I felt uncomfortable, as if I'd opened a door and found her standing there naked! I deleted her from my sidebar, hoping she found a good therapist who helped her learn about boundaries. Each time I delete a blog, I flash back to the time I was deleted by Millie, and hope I'm not hurting someone else's feelings. And then I get a grip and say, "Nancy, get over yourself already. Why would someone care if she was on your sidebar?"
I've got a whole 'nuther list of blogs in my "Favorites," ones I check regularly but that I don't need to know immediately when they are updated.
The string in the sidebar has become unwieldy. And just in the nick of time, I've learned about Bloglovin, one of many ways to follow blogs relatively effortlessly. And I spent some time the other night listing all of the Quilters in my sidebar with Bloglovin. I'll still be reading them all, but through Bloglovin, where I believe all of the updates will come in one place, rather than clicking individually as I see blogs rise to the top of the update list. Next step will be to plug the "Favorites" blogs into Bloglovin. Oh, the tidiness! Oh, the organization!
While I was writing this, it occurred to me that perhaps Millie didn't reject me and my blog after all. Perhaps, instead, she subscribed to a reader of some sort. She was always way ahead of me technologically.
I'm mentioning this whole thing because there are a couple of blogs that I frequent where I regularly click on folks in their sidebars. And in case there are folks doing that from here, I don't want you to feel left out in the cold when I take down my list of quilters' links. Which will likely happen by the end of this week, once I've had an opportunity to really test Bloglovin.
Tuesday, December 01, 2009
I was reading Suzan's blog the other day and saw that she'd included a most wonderful Thanksgiving prayer. It made me want to share the one my husband reads each year on Thanksgiving Day just before we sit down to dinner. I find it very moving.
For the fruit of all creation,
thanks be to God.
gifts bestowed on every nation,
thanks be to God.
For the plowing, sowing, reaping,
silent growth while we are sleeping,
future needs in earth's safekeeping,
thanks be to God.
In the just reward of labor,
God's will is done.
In the help we give our neighbor,
God's will is done.
In our worldwide task of caring
for the hungry and despairing,
in the harvests we are sharing,
God's will is done.
For the harvests of the Spirit,
thanks be to God.
For the good we all inherit,
thanks be to God.
For the wonders that astound us,
for the truths that still confound us,
most of all that love has found us,
thanks be to God.