Thursday, December 29, 2011

Pinning Away Near Philadelphia

I'm well aware that I've been absent the Blog scene this past week.  Partly Christmas and the aftermath are to blame.  Partly the tension across my shoulders and upper back are to blame.  Partly a return to Bernina with yet more pot holders and now some new crumb blocks a la Pictures at an Exhibition are also to blame.  And so is Pinterest.

Y'all know I'm not one to rush into the latest craze.  I held out for quite some time before giving in to French General Rouenneries.  We never bought an 8-track, and were late to the party for cassette tapes.  I still don't have a "real" cell phone (though I think that's about to change).  I was late to get into email and blogging.  So it is little wonder that I'm just now getting around to the new(est?) time gobbler, Pinterest.

Oh, my, is it fun.  Quilty and gorgeous grandchild content to resume before too long.


Saturday, December 24, 2011

Pot Holders in Remission

My pot holder making frenzy seems to have concluded for a bit.  I had a wonderful week and a half making pot holders, trying several methods of finishing them.  The method I liked the best was to measure the finished top and add two inches in width and two inches in length and cut a piece of backing fabric this size.  Centering the top and layers of insulated batting, I pinned them in place and then double folded the inch hang-over and hand stitched the binding in place.  Yes, this took longer than the other methods, but I really liked the way they finished.  We eat our breakfasts at the island in the kitchen, and have taken to keeping our pills there so we can remember to take them.  I had put a little metal tray there to hold all of those bottles and today decided we deserved something better.  A bunch of William Morris blue scraps went together to make a 9 x 11 mat (regular batting, not the insulated type was used) and I'm pleased with the result.

I made four pot holders like this one and gave two of them away.  The fabric was left over from some Christmas stocking I'd made to hold small gifts and since I've seldom met a Log Cabin that I didn't like, I thought that would be a nice change from the random scrappy crumb batiks.  The two that I kept may be used as pot holders at some point, but for now, they are nice insulated mats on the table -- one for the pineapple stuffing and the other for the scalloped cheesy potatoes.

This mat, made with more William Morris, is also on the table at present, though I don't have another hot-hot dish planned.  I thought it looked pretty there with the cyclamen that someone gave me earlier in the week.

So my Christmas sewing is finished.  I gave one quilt as a gift and have another to give tomorrow.  A wedding gift quilt is in the binding stage in the living room.

Looking ahead, a friend has a birthday coming up and I think an apron is in order.  With a pair of matching pot holders.

Thinking briefly about political correctness in holiday greetings, and certainly not wanting to offend a sensitive non-believer by saying "Merry Christmas," I'm remembering what the angels said to the shepherds, and think no one could be offended by their message.  So to all of my readers, whatever your faith tradition might be -- if you even have a faith tradition -- "Peace on earth; good will to mankind."

With love,


Friday, December 23, 2011

The Birds

An important part of Christmas for me since I've become a blogger is to publish my friend Frank's poem that he shared with me many years ago. I've shared it each year with my readers, and -- God willing -- I will do it again next year, and the next and the next.

If you like Frank's writing, you can read more of it by going to the link in my sidebar, Carolina Singerman.





THE BIRDS



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

AND DIFFERENT


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 



Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Out of Iraq

Ever since I heard that the last U.S. troops had left Iraq, I wanted to write a blog post.  But nothing came.  Words failed me.  I thought Chez might take a stab at it; in fact, I was counting on him to.  But he's got other stuff going on so I'm cutting him a break. 

I'm ancient enough to remember when the nation held a moment of revernce with only church bells breaking the silence when the Vietnam War ended.  But there's been no word of anything like that this time. 

Then, this morning, I read Tom's post (December 21: "Out of Iraq") and realized that I don't need to write my post after all.  Tom's done it.  And done it good.

There's nothing more to say.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Vindicated!

The people in this picture are jumping with joy. Which is how I felt yesterday when I heard the news. Nine months ago, I wrote this sad post when I learned that the pastor of the Roman Catholic church in our town had been placed on administrative leave pending investigation and resolution of An Accusation. The man isn't my own pastor, but I honestly could not have been sadder if he had been.

And now it is [nearly] over. The pastor's ordeal reached the stage of depositions, and the accuser postponed and postponed and finally came to court and the case was thrown out. Just like that. He's not back in his parish yet; apparently it will take a bit of time for the Archdiocese to process paperwork (?).  But his name has been cleared and it is a joyful day not just for the Roman Catholics of Near Philadelphia, but for our whole little town. 

If anyone calls for dancing in the streets, by golly, count me in!


Friday, December 16, 2011

Miss Myers



On reading the comments from yesterday's post, I was surprised to learn that several of my readers also "speak" Gregg shorthand.  I wonder if they've found it as useful as I have over the years. 

When my children were little, I used to buy their Christmas presents and wrap them immediately to prevent snooping.  So that I didn't forget what was inside each package, I'd write the contents in shorthand on the package tag.  It drove the kids crazy; they'd try to get my sister (another shorthander) to tell them what it said. 

I use my shorthand at work, of course, and at meetings I attend for church.  I write my gift list in shorthand so that if my family finds it, their surprises won't be spoiled.

Here's my best shorthand story:  I was spending a night as the on-call chaplain at our local hospital.  The beeper was being very well-behaved and it seemed I was in for a quiet evening.  I stopped by the family lounge, where people wait for news of someone in surgery.  A small gathering there looked anxious, so I approached them.  It seemed that their person had been in surgery far longer than they had anticipated; they had had no word, and were very worried.  I offered to check into it.  I went to the OR suite and checked in at the main desk; someone there was able to give me a progress report about the patient, giving me a great many details which I wrote down on the little notepad I carried.  I was glad to be able to take good news to the waiting family.

Since it was still pretty quiet, after doing the visits I'd been requested to handle, I sat down with the patient census to see if there were any recognizable names.  There were a couple of patients who came in and out fairly regularly, and I liked to check on them.  And, of course, I would want to visit people from my church or neighborhood.  Up popped a name I recognized immediately, a name I'd not thought of for thirty-five years:  My high school shorthand teacher.

I went up to her room and she looked up expectantly.  She was alone.  "Miss Myers?" I began.  "I don't know if you remember me."  She looked me over and she did.  She'd been my homeroom teacher as well as shorthand, so I'd been with her for three full years.  We settled in for a visit; she wanted to know about my life and I wanted to know about hers.  She had been retired for some time; her brothers and sisters were all gone.  She lived in a retirement community and this was the first time for her to be hospitalized. It was all overwhelming. The next day would bring surgery for her breast cancer.  She was terrified.  She was thinking through what her life had meant.

I spent a long time with her, listening, reassuring, praying, listening some more.  As I got up to leave she stopped me asking, "Nancy, do you ever use your shorthand?"  "Of course I do!" I assured her, pulling the pad from my jacket pocket.  "In fact, I used it just before I came up to see you!"  I showed her the notes I'd made at the OR desk and her sweet anxious face lit up.  "Oh!" she exclaimed.  "I can read every word!"



PS:  What's Linus saying?  "Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night."

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Becoming Extinct

Earlier this week someone gave me a gift of an English-to-Swedish phrase book.  For a tiny volume, it is amazingly complete, covering every possible emergency or need, all the way down to "I need a typewriter ribbon, please."  It got me to wondering how many shop clerks, Swedish or otherwise, know what a typewriter ribbon is.

Which led me to pondering other things that I used to use all the time that are no more, things like camera film, reel-to-reel tape, phonograph records and, to a certain extent, fountain pens.

And this, of course, got me to realizing once again that I'm acquainted with only two other people who know Gregg shorthand.  It isn't even taught anymore.  Neither is cursive writing, I understand, but that is a subject for another rant time.

For many years I made my living as a typist of dissertations for Ph.D. students at a big university.  It was fascinating work; I learned intricate details of narrow subjects indeed, and took particular satisfaction in the setting up of the footnotes and bibliography.  I used #20 bond paper, an electric typewriter, and changed my ribbon frequently.  I could make an imperceptible erasure.  I loved meeting the students and making their research work beautiful.  Now word processing programs, I believe, have pretty much made that occupation obsolete.

Another job I held for a long time was medical transcriptionist.  Doctors in hospitals would dictate their reports into casette tape recording machines, the transcription service/middle man would pick up the tapes, log them in, and deliver them to the homes of the transcriptionists.  I'd have 24 hours to get my tapes transcribed and have the work ready for pick up.  Again, I learned a lot of very peculiar, specialized terminology and information.  Now casette tapes are very difficult to find, and voice-activated software produces the discharge summaries and operative reports.  Medical transcriptionists are no more; they are being replaced by transcript editors who read the magically-produced reports and check for context errors.

It's an odd feeling, this becoming extinct.  I find myself wondering what other commonplace items and experiences will become obsolete in my lifetime.

So it is a bit comforting to imagine that there is an area in Dalarna, Sarna, perhaps, or Rattvik, that is so rural and behind-the-times that someone like me would feel right at home.  I'd see if I could still find my old IBM Selectric and wander into the local stationer's shop and most politely request a  Färgband till skrivmaskin.  And then I'd get to typing.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Fun Fun Fun

I thought I had a meeting to go to, and was a bit grumpy about it -- I've been out so  many nights lately and really needed some time at home to get reacquainted with Bernina who has been pretty much abandoned for the past couple of weeks.  Fortunately, my wonderful husband, who is much better about calendar accuracy than I am, realized that my meeting is next Monday; hence, I was able to spend my evening sewing.

I'd been wanting to make some pot holders out of scraps from Good Morning Starshine (who is at the machinest presently and will be home and ready to bind this weekend!).  I'd already gone to the LQS to buy the special insulated batting needed for pot holders, and was just itching to get going!

I worked on four, completing two, using three different finishing techniques.  I have one more technique to try -- that one would be standard binding applied from the front and hand-stitched down.  It will take considerably longer than the other methods, but I believe I will be more pleased with it. 

Thinking fondly of dear Bonnie Hunter who taught me to crumb!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Busy Weekend

Shopping, wrapping, trimming, decorating ... but ...









... all of this, but not a stitch of sewing!

Friday, December 09, 2011

Red Queen Days and Nights

My fondness for all things Alice is well-known.  My sister and I are famous for dropping Alice lines here and there ("Clean cup!  Move down!") and Honna and I had such a good time at the movie.

There's another bit from the Alice story that has long been a piece of my life.

Carroll writes:


"'Well, in our country,' said Alice, still panting a little, 'you'd generally get to somewhere else -- if you ran very fast for a long time as we've been doing.' 'A slow sort of country!' said the Queen. 'Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you wanted to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!'"
I'm not one to do things in a hurry, nor am I much of a runner.  But sometimes the calendar gets over-fill and obligations pile up along with the laundry, and I don't seem to have time to do things I want to do, I'm so caught up in what I need to do.  And somehow all of that makes me think of the Red Queen.
This is one of those times.  Been out at night more frequently than usual.  Been shopping and wrapping and thinking about decorating.  Been sewing just a little.  But not been blogging.  Because I'm hanging out with the Red Queen.  I believe she's scheduled to leave this weekend.  If not, I'm evicting her!



Monday, December 05, 2011

A Monkey and a Ladybug

. . . came to my house yesterday.





Friday, December 02, 2011

Good Things in Abundance

Today was an in-service day at school; we had assorted sessions on identity and racial diversity and the embracing of both.  It was a full and rich day and, as so often is the case, tiring.  All of that thinking, reflecting, learning just wears a body -- and a mind -- out.  So I was happy to be able to leave a bit earlier than usual.  When I came home, I was delighted to find that the postman had come bringing many things.  First was the last of the parcels for the swap I organized a few months back -- it had been mailed the day before Thanksgiving and took this long to get here from North Carolina.  But now it is here, at last, safe and sound, and this weekend I shall swap out the blocks and return them to their rightful owners.

The second parcel that he brought contained the inviting and enticing red package above.  It was mailed after the one from North Carolina, all the way from Australia from Annette who received my name in Chooky Blue's annual SSCS adventure.  I am trying to be obedient and not open this parcel until Christmas morning, but have little hope of success, now that I have visited Annette's blog and see what beautiful things she makes!

Now you and I both know that I am seldom one to purchase a kit  for a quilt.  But I had seen this kit on a post from the Fat Quarter Shop some time back and was utterly smitten with it.  Recently they had a sail sale that was too good to pass up and so I indulged myself and the kit also came in today's mail.

I do believe that this would be a nice quilt for a certain young boy in Richmond who is going to get a new brother or sister at the end of April -- it would be delightful to have this made and ready to take to him when I go to meet the new baby, don't you think?

I'd been feeling remiss that I hadn't posted any quilty pics for a while.  That does not mean I have not been sewing!  In the chair upstairs, once I finished stitching the ornament I made for the SSCS swap (no pictures permitted at this time), I have been hand quilting Rhett Butler Slept Here, which is my default hand project when there is nothing else in the queue.

Downstairs at the Bernina, I'm facing my perennial problem:  the leader-ender bowties that Bonnie Hunter enticed so many of us to work on this year (yes, mine are pink instead of cheddar -- one works with what one has in some instances) rose up and flat out demanded to be made a real project.  I know a little girl who is growing too big by now for the quilt I made her as a newborn, and I plan to get these bowties ready for her sometime this winter.

And then there is this block.  It isn't mine.  I did not make it.  I wish I had.

I saw this block on some blog or another sometime this autumn; I no longer remember where.  But I just loved it and still do love it and downloaded the photo and want to make one.  Actually I want to make more than one.  A whole quilt's worth, if you really want to know.

Isn't it gorgeous?

And now the timer for the beef in red wine is ringing so I must go and cook the noodles.

Wishing you Good Things in Abundance.

Today.  And always.


Thursday, December 01, 2011

Even Once

At the school where I work, each of us received a form to fill out sometime in the next month.  It is an "Arrest/Conviction Report and Certification Form," which is required for the protection of our students.  Apparently the completion of the form is mandated by the State.  We are required to list any reportable offenses for which we have ever been arrested; these include a couple of dozen offenses that have to do with indecency, exploitation, sexual contact, and drug trafficking with minors.

The exercise made me think of the years when I was a blood donor (and the reason for stopping, she hastened to add, is because her low blood pressure caused a tendency to faint after donating), when there would be a list of colorful behaviors and the question of "have you EVEN ONCE" done any of these things.  (The EVEN ONCE in all caps always reminded me of the clothing pattern instructions that would shout RIGHT SIDES TOGETHER, but that is a whole nuther thing entirely.)  I'd look down the list and rather wistfully check "no" beside each box.  This always made me feel like a really dull person.

Just so you know, I had nothing to report on today's form in any of the questionable areas including stalking, prostitution and related offenses, and all of the others.  I'm not sure what "institutional sexual assault" could be, but I'm pretty sure I haven't done it and certainly haven't been arrested for it.

In the interest of full disclosure, however, I did EVEN ONCE receive a traffic ticket for going 30 in a 15 mph zone.  This was in 1980, in Cuyahoga Falls, and is prolly still a blemish on My Permanent Record.