Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Poor Kids Don't Deserve Breakfast

It came as an email with the subject line:  "Fwd: Free Lunch."  It came from a friend, so I opened it.  It turned out to be one of those email diatribes that gets forwarded all over creation, an attempt to discredit the President, to persuade sensible people that radical Republicanism is the best way.  Once I saw what it was, I probably shouldn't have read it, but I did.  It was supposedly originally written by an English teacher somewhere in California; that, I suppose, was to give it credibility, though no name or other credentials were provided.

Once I read it, I felt compelled to write back to my friend..  I told her that I had some serious issues with the content of the email that she had sent me, and was going to address just two of them:

"The first one is that I am very surprised that this "English teacher" wouldn't know that many people living in poverty are obese.  They simply can't afford to buy fresh fruits and vegetables and decent lean protein sources.  They fill up on what they can afford.  It is my opinion that a decent breakfast -- 
'one that would make the Marriott proud' -- SHOULD be provided for students whose families can't afford to feed them well.  Children can't learn if they are hungry.  It is difficult for me to believe that every child who receives a decent free breakfast takes the tray of food and throws it out.  And I wonder why the teacher witnessing the ones who do take a lot of food and throw it out doesn't see this as a teachable moment and speak one-on-one to a child about what he sees happening?

"The second one is that I really believe that a school-age child has a right to a public education.  The school that provides child care for babies of school-age children is helping the young mother to obtain a high school diploma, the absolute minimum that a person needs to get anywhere in this country.  I, for one, would rather see my tax dollars go to provide this child care as opposed to providing ongoing welfare for someone whose circumstances kept her from getting through high school.  If my daughter had become pregnant at age thirteen, I would have quit my job to help her raise her child and finish her education.  Many, many families don't have this option.  Poor people will always be poor if they remain uneducated."

I closed by asking my friend to refrain from sending similar emails to me.  

Call me a bleeding-heart liberal if you like.  Or call me a COW*, which I readily own up to.  But I tell you this:  In my opinion, the day this country stops feeding and educating its children is the day our real decline begins.

*COW = Cranky Old Woman

Monday, May 30, 2011

A One-Night Stand

It was Tom's idea, actually.  He phoned me a couple of weeks ago and said that he and Nate and Anastasia wanted to see Joe and me before our scheduled visit to Brevard.  But, he said, they didn't have it in them to drive to Philadelphia.  Which is understandable.  So, he suggested, what if we met halfway for an overnight?

Why not, I replied.  He'd done all the work, found the place, the hotel, the attractions.  All we had to do was show up.  So I told Joe I was taking him away for an overnight on Sunday and not to ask where.

Destination:  Kent Island, Maryland, just this side of Annapolis.  We left at the crackadawn on Sunday, and pulled into our rendezvous spot about twenty minutes early.  So we just opened the windows, put the seats back, and snoozed until T, A, and N pulled in right beside us.  We had a delicious breakfast at Holly's, and then wandered down the road to a wee little bay beach where Nate paddled in the water and the rest of us admired him.  That was where I got the sunburn, despite the fact that it was not yet eleven o'clock in the morning!

 Tom had found a state park that had a larger beach where swimming was encouraged, as well as a shady grassy meadow overlooking the beach.  There we had a lovely picnic of fruit, cheese, veggies and yogurt, and Joe and I observed while the rest of them went to the beach.

At three o'clock we were able to check into our hotel.  Anastasia helped Nate take his nap, while the rest of us cooled off in the pool.  Then it was off to get dinner.  We'd heard a lot about the Crab Deck in Grasonville, but when we got there, the wait was 1-1/2 hours or more and Nate wasn't the only one who found that intolerable.  Across the parking lot was the Fisherman's Inn, owned by the same people with practically the same menu.  We feared the wait would be the same, but seating was immediate.  The place was lovely with a huge collection of oyster plates lining the walls, and a model train running around the ceiling -- this kept Tom and Nate amused for quite a while.  I don't believe I've ever tasted better calamari.   And that was just the appetizer.  I always get rockfish when I find it on a menu and this place did not disappoint.  Oh, what a dinner!  And when the waitress, sweet Megan, pressed us to have dessert, we selected a piece of coconut custard pie with four forks.  Heavenly!

After checking out of the hotel this morning we drove over to Annapolis just in time to catch part of the parade (which we hadn't known about).  It was pretty hot, but we wandered around the shopping area and looked at the water and the boats, and Nate frolicked on the lawn of the court house.

Well, yes, of course we had to eat together one more time.  Joe and I introduced the others to our favorite restaurant in Annapolis and it certainly met with their approval.  Soon after lunch it was time to part ways and head off in our separate directions, promising to do it again.  And again.

Friday, May 27, 2011

From Cowlifornia and Other Nations

The cows continue to come home.  Since last I posted, six more have arrived.  Nancy S sent this lovely cow hanging out in the barn; she's a bit on the shy side, I believe.

Kind Nancy sent a bonus as well:  Click to make the photo larger and you'll see a widdle biddy cowy bag and a jar of cow sprinkles to top a cake!  Who ever knew there were such things!!!

Honna not-too-surreptitiously picked up some cow fabric last Saturday when we were at Burkholder's and day before yesterday this moovelous block showed up.

There is absolutely nothing serious about Honna's cow, and I love her.  The cow.  And Honna, too.

Brenda's cow came down from Canada, apparently in search of a warmer climate.  This cow has a lot to say.  Having just learned a couple of weeks ago to make letters, I'm particularly dazzled by Brenda's effort. Brenda has asked me to make her a letter "B" and this is on my schedule for the coming week.

From Julie in Cowlifornia came a puffy package containing not one but two cows and would you kindly click to make it bigger so you can look at the one on the right up close and personal.  Because she has a bell.  Which is nothing extraordinary.  She also has eyelashes.  I kid you  not. Generous Julie had a nice piece of cow fabric that she thought she should enclose and I'm so glad that she did!

Another purple cow!  And this one from all the way across the pond.  Dear Anne B in England made her and she is so sweet.

I still have the cow that Guenveur drew to be embroidered and that, too, is on my schedule for this week.  Or next.  'Cause it's a pretty full week already.

Thank you, my friends.  All of you.  I'm loving it.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

End of May Moo

Some additional cows came home on Wednesday, but I didn't have the opportunity to photograph them yet.  I wanted to, but my evening was shattered by a recurrent phenomenon with a new wrinkle.

Summer in the suburbs includes the ever popular ice cream truck.  For the past several years they have annoyed the heck out of me with a never-ending "Pop Goes the Weasel" music as they patrol the streets.  If I never hear it again, that is just fine.

Alas, one learns the hard way to be careful for what one wishes for.  Yes, the ice cream truck is here for the season.  And, yes, it has changed its tune.

Some of you may be old enough to have attended the 1964/1965 New York World's Fair.  If not, most likely you have been to Disney Land or Disney World.  Has the song already begun to resound in your head?  That day in 1965, we rode the Disney ride at the World's Fair and heard enough of "It's A Small World After All" to last us a lifetime.

There may be Mayhem Near Philadelphia this summer.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


The herd is growing.  And the additions are great!

Helen knew how much I love basket blocks, so she made me a Cow In A Basket.  Kind of puts one in mind of a Pig In A Blanket.  This cow is sweet, and happy to be enbasketed.
Paula from COWlorado sent this delightful bovine -- who wouldn't want a hug from this lady?  Paula, BTW, is responsible for the recent blog revamp here at Near Philadelphia.  She's so clever and so generous with her time.
Now the Cow In A Basket concept is something I might have expected from Piecemeal.   No, rephrase that.  I wouldn't have expected a cow in a basket from anyone.  But it wouldn't have surprised me from Piecemeal.  Her block came yesterday and just look at that face!  Isn't it endearing?  Doncha love the colors?  The expression?
Janet sent this treasure, writing that she'd been wanting to make a miniature churn dash block and here it is.  Her darling cows brought some barnyard friends along.
One can hardly see Guenveur's cow in this photo.  Even clicking to enlarge it doesn't do it justice.  But hang on, cow fans.  Guenveur is the one who wanted to play but has arthritic hands that don't like to sew, so she drew a cow who needs to be embroidered.  I'm going to get to this as soon as a couple of other hand-projects are completed, and will repost the finished purple cow, jumping over the moon, no less.

Thank you, thank you, one and all!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Adventures in Fabric Shopping

Remember on Saturday when I decided that the chances of my being raptured were slim to none and I'd might as well go fabric shopping?  Sure you do.  I do.  Well, the Executive Committee gathered at my house on schedule and since Helen, our usual driver for these types of expeditions preferred not to drive that morning (we think she was secretly afraid she would be raptured prematurely and strand Judy and Honna and me out there in Lancaster County), the driving fell to me.  Which I was fine with.  Especially with Helen as navigator.

We got out to Burkholders, a place I'd visited about eight or nine years ago once when Jan and Kathy were in town from California, and I hadn't been particularly impressed, so I never returned. Recently folks told me that it was under different management and was wonderful.  And furthermore, they were having a huge sale -- 25% off everything on my list!  So off we went, and friends, let me tell you, this place is marvelous.  It is immense, well-lit, with bolts and bolts and bolts of fabric, and notions, and thread, and pre-cuts; pleasant employees, big cutting tables, clean bathroom, spacious parking lot -- what more could a person ask?  I admit that it lacks that certain je ne sais quoi of Sauders, but I'm telling you that the prices were competitive even without the 25%.

After a while, while I was perusing bent safety pins (I can't find my basting pins anywhere -- are you the one who borrowed them?) Helen beckoned me over to where she and Honna and Judy were talking with this woman we didn't know.  Seems she'd come into the store and started asking groups of shoppers, "Are you with Nancy?"  When she got to the Executive Committee, Honna wisely countered, "Nancy who?" and when she replied, "Near Philadelphia," Honna got spooked.  Turned out to be none other than The Reluctant Quilter who lives not far away (imagine having this amazing place as your LQS!), saw the blog post and decided that in case there were going to be a rapture, she'd better get right on down to the shop so we could meet!  She's -- well -- everything you'd expect a Suzan to be:  cute, friendly, perky, impulsive, funny, a bit whacky and downright wonderful.  The Executive Committee was so impressed with her that on the spot we invited her to fill a vacancy at our next White Oak getaway (barring a rapture, of course).  What a delightful surprise!  That's Suzan and me up there in that picture.  With two unknown Muggles in the background.

We loaded my trunk with our purchases and headed for The Diner Formerly Known As Zinns where, over assorted abundant, delicious, and inexpensive offerings, we reviewed other business on the agenda and then headed home.  But before we left, one of us noticed that the placemats had 20% coupons for Burkholders with no expiration date!  So we ripped tidy holes in the placemats, stuffed the coupons in our wallets, and left.  Satisfied in every way.

See ya in October, Suzan!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Oh, Baby!

The baby quilt I made using the left-overs from Justin's quilt (which is at the machine quilter's presently) is a flimsy.  It is 51 x 37 inches, a peculiar size.  I've made the binding out of the green, and it will put away in flimsy + binding stage until it is needed.  I enjoyed figuring out how to make this quilt and am pleased with how it turned out.

Speaking of babies, my sister has become a trained volunteer with our local hospital's outpatient hospice. In talking with the volunteer director there, she learned that there is a need for quilts of various sizes for the hospice patients, including children.  Our little monthly hand-sewing group has committed to each making a child-size quilt over the summer, to be delivered to the hospice after our September meeting.

I was horrified to learn that there is a particular pressing need for incubator-sized quilts.  How terribly sad to think that there are infants being served by a hospice unit.  This had not occurred to me.  I Googled "incubator-size quilt" and came up with either 12 x 18 or 16 x 20.  I've not made a quilt that small, I think, and plan to start one this coming week.  I'd like to think I could do one each month for this need.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Rapture Ready? Not Yet . . .

Helen, Honna, Judy and I are heading out to the big sale at Burkholders for fabric this morning.

Just in case we CAN take it with us.

Except on Facebook this morning Tazzie reported a total lack of Rapture in Oz.

We're getting the goods anyway.  Whatever happens, we'll be prepared.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

You Herd It Here

The size of the herd continues to increase.

Anya made this amazing patchwork cow grazing in the green, green grass. She came from Anya in Wellsboro and arrived today at my office!
These twin cows from Deb may have some Swedish heritage, judging from their lovely blue and yellow surroundings.  They certainly are happy looking.
 Mrs. Goodneedle sent this terrific block with cows in the corner and milk in the middle.  The cows look udderly congenial.
 Another patchwork cow, this one wearing a bit of a bewildered expression, carefully crafted by Jean.  She made me remember my brief foray into piano lessons as a child where I learned the names of the spaces on the bass staff as "All Cows Eat Grass."
 Liz pieced this spectacular purple cow, also grazing in the grass, and sporting a braided tail!

Rondi sent this paper pieced beauty who is wearing an orange button in her ear.  Rondi sent an explanation that all the cows where she lives wear identifying ear buttons -- who knew?  Rondi also sent a piece of Obama fabric which was a delightful surprise bonus.

Thank you, thank you, one and all!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Cows Come Home: Part Two

The cows are making their way home, one or two at a time.  This little group came from Blogless Bobbi.  She started with the cow on the right, the one in the center of the star, and then wondered if perhaps it might be a bull rather than a cow.  So she made another small herd of unquestionably cows.  I thought that one in the star might just be a cross-dressing cow.
Another small herd, from far-away California made by Diana No Blog.  Diana is a relative new quilter, and while it isn't obvious from the photo, her cows are all stuffed from the back for a three-dimensional look.  Way to go, Diana!
Marilyn's dancing cow is also from California.  There's a lot of detail in this great big happy bovine.
Now, here's Pat's cow, free-spirited, dancing and original, letting it all hang out -- much like dear Pat herself!

Thank you, one and all.  More pictures in the next post!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Time Flying By

I notice that time doesn't seem to pass at an even pace.  Right now it seems to be flying by at warp speed (whatever that is).  After an idyllic week of being home every single night, I'm in a week where I have a commitment darned near every night. Sewing time suffers.

More cows have come home, and I'll try to do a post about them in a day or so.  They are all wonderful and so varied.

Recently, I concentrated on getting Justin's quilt top finished.  At White Oak in March I got what I thought was the entire top finished except for the borders.  I showed it to a friend who said she thought I should not add borders and instead add more blocks.  I stewed about this for a few weeks and then discussed with Joe who concurred with my original plan:  Two borders.  So Justin's quilt top is a flimsy and was delivered to the machine quilter tonight.

I also delivered the quilt I had been making for Sherry's pregnant coworker.  I'll have both back and ready to bind around June 2, so there should be final pics shortly after that.

On Sunday, after completing Justin's flimsy, I started playing with the scraps. I'd seen a snuggle quilt on the internet somewhere that I liked and thought, "I could do that."  And decided there was enough fabric left from Justin's quilt to make a baby quilt.  So I started that and it is pictured above.  It's not my regular kind of thing (although I've begun to wonder whether I actually have a regular kind of thing) and I like it a lot.  Wouldn't it be nifty if Justin and Tal started a family in the next couple of years and received a baby quilt that was related to their wedding gift?

Friday, May 13, 2011

Cows Coming Home: Aren't They Wonderful?

From Julie.

From Synthia.

From Amy.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Lightbulb Moment

Last month I blogged about the tyranny of overcommitment, how overwhelmed I'd become with things I'd promised.  By way of an update, the workshop went really well and I'd prolly do that again if I had the chance.  And the church committee seems to be functioning just fine without my input.  That leaves the plethora of sewing commitments:  the PIF x 5 and the two one-on-one craft exchanges.  I've gone so far as to purchase what I need to make these things.  And then become engrossed in other projects, like the baby quilt for Sherry's colleague.

Early this morning I was fretting and mentally kicking myself for getting involved in those craft exchanges and PIFs  This amidst the hectivity of the last month of the school year and all of the anticipated and unanticipated things that brings.

And then I had it:  The Lightbulb Moment.  I realized that if this is the last month of school, then summer -- and summer hours -- are not all that far off!  For eight or nine weeks during June, July, and August, my work day is considerably shorter than during the rest of the year.  That affords me all kinds of extra hours to sew and to play.

And so what I'm going to do is just put my energy into getting to Commencement during the day and enjoying the baby quilt in the evening and go ahead and schedule one sewing obligation project per week during the summer until they are all finished.  Because, you know, I really want to do them and to enjoy doing them.

Monday, May 09, 2011

This, That and the Other Thing

First of all, for my Blog Birthday Celebration, the random number selected from the comments was #2 -- howdidigethere -- who just happens to be someone I know in real life and who lives not very far away.  She will receive a gift certificate to a fabric shop that I like a lot.  Granny's is my go-to place when I need something in a hurry.  They have a nice selection of fabric, full line of notions, and very, very pleasant personnel.

Second, my project from the Bonnie Hunter Workshop Day is nearly finished.  It is unlike anything I've done before and I'm trying to decide whether to hang it in the back hall at home or bring into the office.  I look at scraps in a whole new way now.

Third, and perhaps mooing about this will get it off my chest and out of my mind.  Sunday a week ago, when we were all glued to the TV to hear what the President was going to share, I was tuned to CNN and recoiled at their frequent use of a word I'd never heard before and which I don't believe actually should exist:  Actionable.  As in "actionable intelligence."  Actionable.  Give me a break, for crying out loud.

Fourth, a couple of British friends have sent me some Liberty scraps!  I had somealready that I bought from someone, and also have a small stack of Liberty FQs that I bought about ten years ago and I swear they were mismarked because I would never have spent what I've learned is the regular price.  All of this is mingling with a gorgeous piece of Millie Chirbuck's hand-dyed cotton in a spectacular mulberry shade.  I have a terrific idea of what to do with it all and am telling myself that I simply may not do that until I get the Pay It Forwards and other obligations taken care of.

4.5, has anyone else notice that some of the manufacturers are now distributing Fat Eighth packs?  With the ever-rising cost of yardage, I think this is a brilliant marketing move.  And I'll prolly succumb.

Fifth and Final, Sherry has a coworker who is unexpectedly expecting.  Sherry spoke with her colleagues about a group gift for her, and they've asked me to make a little baby boy quilt using this fabric.  I bought a jelly roll and some yardage and the top is nearly finished.  Photo to follow when it is all finished.  There's enough fabric left for another little quilt, and my friend Rosita is looking for donations to a silent auction in the autumn.  So I'll be making another one.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Bovine News

I'm so excited by the overwhelming response to my request for cow blocks!  So many people are willing to make one.

And what people would like to have in return varies.  Some want nothing, some want only that I continue to blog.  Others have modest requests:  a specific kind of a block, a certain kind of scraps.  And fulfilling these requests has been fun.  No mooing here today, friends.

In order that I can keep track of what is happening in the cow division, today I figured out how to add a page to my blog. (If anyone knows how to make that cute little tab thing at the top for the pages, I'd like to hear from you.) There I will post pictures of the cows as they come home, and also the pictures of what I have sent out in return.  Sometime this summer I'll make the COW letters and assemble a top out of all of the cows.

It's been a lovely weekend here Near Philadelphia.  Weatherwise and otherwise.  Last evening we went out for a bite with Maggie and Frank and then to see "Water for Elephants."  Not as great as the book, but still very good.  The circus-y scenes were wonderful.  I just wish I liked Reese Witherspoon.  Today included a mushy card from Tom, a glorious lunch prepared by Sherry, time to sew, and will finish off with burgers cooked on the grill by Himself and last, Masterpiece Theatre.  The kind of day I'd like to preserve so I could lop off a tiny piece on those Other Days.