Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Glorious Granny

Glorious Granny? You mean me? Well, no.

A few days before Christmas, the postal person brought me a wonderful parcel. It wasn't a surprise. It was something I had ordered.

Liza, at Glorious Color, had posted on Facebook that there were scrap bags available. I wasted no time. Of the four possible collections, I chose three: the light, the dark, and the cool.

My attraction to the Westminster fabrics is recent enough that I don't have the feel yet of how to buy yardage. The scrap bags work just fine for me.

When the package came, considerable fondling ensued. To the extent that a couple of my Facebook friends became embarrassed by the activity reports. I sorted them in one way and then another. I really didn't know where to begin.

And then it hit me, and I knew exactly what to do with this bounty.

Granny squares!

I love the idea of traditional-looking patterns with these contemporary fabrics.

Some are Kaffe, others are what I call Kaffish, i.e., from the Westminster family but by one of the other designers.

Truth be told, I don't know one of them from the others. But that doesn't seem to matter.

I fussy cut some of the centers.
And I added a few squares cut from other fabrics that I already had.

All with robin's egg blue outermost row.

It is addictive.

My plan is for twenty blocks.

It won't take long.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

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.













































Friday, December 21, 2012

Be the Light

I attended our school's Winterfest celebration for the first time in a few years. Usually I stay in my office, just to provide a presence in the event that someone from outside wanders in. But this year I went.

And I'm so thankful that I did.

Winterfest is when the entire school gathers to celebrate all of the December holidays from all of the cultures and traditions represented in our community. It is a joyful and festive observance.

Our head of school spoke for a few moments. Mindful that some of his listeners are only three years old, he kept his remarks brief.

Brief. But oh, so meaningful in their simplicity.

We are called, he said, not just to bring the light back into the world, but also to look for the light that others bring.

Of course we are. We know that. But I, for one, really needed that reminder right now.

I woke this morning to my radio announcer's explaining the Solstice. Tomorrow, he said, we will have a few seconds more light than today.

Would that I might both bring and find it.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Matchy Matchy

I'd finished my secret project shortly before I got sick. Lacking the concentration to do anything important, and knowing that I truly do cough less when I'm sewing, I made a bunch of pot holders and mug rugs, some of which still need the hand binding completed. When I got mug-rugged out, somehow it just didn't seem right to start a new major project in the last third of December. So I went to the boxes of UFOs and dug out a truly ancient one.

What you see here is the center block and about half of the big surrounding blocks from a BOM that the Fat Quarter Shop distributed several years ago. I got those eight surrounders done before losing interest. The Fat Quarter Shop is terrific -- they give you patterns with very clear and specific instructions, and abundant fabric. I've never been disappointed by them. No affiliation, yadda yadda. The thing about this BOM, though, is that it is from Before I Took The Pledge, i.e., it is made entirely from one line of fabric, Moda's "Martinique." At the time I subscribed, I thought it was gorgeous. I still think the colors are pretty. But it is so matchy matchy!

I think I can bring myself to finish it, mostly because the blocks are all new to me, and I enjoy the challenge of a new block. When it becomes a flimsy, it will go on the stack waiting until a gift is needed and then will be quilted.

And that's all she wrote tonight.

Yours once again for Mucinex, codeine, and this time perhaps the infamous hot toddy . . . .

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Comment Amnesty Time Once Again

I come to ask your forgiveness. My mailbox is out of control.

I love hearing from you. I read every single comment. My best intention is to respond immediately upon reading it. I seldom manage that. So I set them aside, believing I will get to them "soon." And before I know it, there are hundreds of them.

Today I reluctantly deleted about 200 unanswered comments. I did not like doing this.

But I am still sick. I have returned to work after missing six days, but I am tired and at the end of the day I am coughing mightily. The doctor said it would take some time . . . .

I am trying to think of things I can do to take care of myself. I have canceled all almost all public appearances until I-don't-know-when. I have bought prepared foods for dinner. I have relied on my saintly husband to do more than his share at home. I take a bit of a nap each afternoon and get to bed early. I take my medicine. And today I deleted emails. I'm sorry.

Please know that I hope you won't go away or think me rude. I just need to get a grip, in so many ways, right now.

And for rather obvious reasons, comments are closed on this particular post.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Sick Days, Near Philadelphia

I started getting sick on Thursday night and have been home from work for three days now. The weekend was a wash. I think it is time to call the doctor and Be Seen.

But wait. It gets worse. Bernina got knocked out of alignment by a renegade pin on Sunday, so I took her to the spa and dragged out the Featherweight so I could sew. Featherweight's light doesn't work and after about 30 minutes of stitching (with the help of Joe's drafting lamp), she froze up entirely. So she's also in the shop.

What's a body to do?

Well, I finished the handwork on this pair of froggy mug rugs, for one thing.

And from time to time I crawl out of bed and go down and prep the applique circles for the Dresden Plates. They are moving along nicely.

Bernina should be home tomorrow afternoon. Meanwhile, today I finally ordered some photo Christmas cards. This shot of Joe's chair, my quilt, and our sweet doggy isn't the one that made the cut, but I like it pretty much anyway.

Yours for Mucinex, codeine, and whatever it takes,

Sunday, December 09, 2012

A Pretty Tote Bag

Ya gotta love a guy who says, "Why don't you go downstairs and sew for a while?" Even if it is followed by "You cough less when you are sewing. I've noticed that."

Wanting (a) to please my husband, (b) to cough less, and (c) to sew (duh!), I obediently trotted off. There was one Christmas gift I still wanted to make, and since it is for someone who doesn't read blogs, I could post a picture of it!

This great big tote bag is made from Kona black (my go-to goods) and scraps of Kaffe, some my own and some from Pat's bulging bag of goodness. I'm pleased with how it turned out. During the stitching, I struck a pin sideways, and my needle is off center. I proceeded very slowly and carefully since I was nearly finished, and early in the week will take Bernina off for a day at the spa to get her back in alignment.

The cough? Well, yes, there is that. It started suddenly and intensely on Thursday night. I went into work on Friday and did essential things for an hour and then came home. Have spent the past three days doing what I usually tell other people to do: rest, eat soup, drink extra fluids, and take drugs. The intensity pretty much peaked (I think) late yesterday. I managed to get a really good night's sleep and am no worse today. Nonetheless, I'm going to bed early tonight and will take one more day at home before returning to work.

Saturday, December 08, 2012

Do Something

When one of my children told me that his son would like a fire engine for Christmas, I jumped on the suggestion and found myself at Amazon in no time. I've always had a kind of a thing about fire fighters. In our town, the fire department is all volunteers. We used to live very close to the fire house, located in the main little shopping district, and frequently I'd be coming out of the mom-and-pop grocery store, hear the siren sound, and watch as men sprang out of the cycle shop, the appliance store, other businesses, and sprint toward the fire house. I'd get a lump in my throat -- that these men would run to risk their lives for people that they may not even know. It was almost incomprehensible.

In my last post, I alluded to a recent tragedy in our community. A young man, one of these amazing fire fighters, was killed while he was at work as a tree surgeon. He lived very, very close to my house, and although I did not know him personally, his story hit me very, very hard. David was younger than my youngest child. The other day, when the impeccably clean and shiny fire trucks led the funeral procession down the street, I couldn't stop the tears from coming. Such a terrible, terrible loss.

Years ago, someone I didn't like a whole lot said to me, "In every bad thing, there is something good that comes out of it." I scoffed, wrongly interpreting Jean's remark to mean that whatever this elusive "good thing" was, it somehow justified the bad thing. Those words came back to me this week.

The young families of our town -- in the face of David's loss -- have been nothing short of heroic. Giving in to that insatiable urge to do something, while he was still in hospital, they had organized a meal train to provide food for the young mother and the people caring for the children while she spent her days with him. Believing he would have a long recovery, they began to plan fund raisers, including a large event, a beef-and-beer, to be held next month. I, too, felt that do something urge and while my days of attending a beef-and-beer are long past, I imagined there would be a raffle and I contacted someone to donate a quilt. A girl woman in her late twenties showed up at my door to pick it up. She apologized for being late -- she and her husband had spent the day at the home of the injured man, putting up the Christmas lights, trimming the tree, dealing with a plumbing problem. She looked exhausted. And terribly, terribly sad. As she told me that hope was gone and life support was to be removed that night, we fell into each other's arms and cried.

This woman, way too young to be dealing with such horror, has now "friended" me on Facebook. Her posts alternate between expressions of her sorrow and the practicalities of what is still needed for the beef-and-beer. I've reflected on the whole experience and find that at last I understand a piece of what Jean was saying back then. David's accident and loss have provided the young families an opportunity to be their very best selves, to grow up faster than they normally would have, to minister to this family.

This woman, this Christy, is tireless in her efforts to help her friends. To my way of thinking, she's every bit as much a hero as the fire fighters that she loves. Her parents must be so proud of this gal that they've raised. She is being her very best self. And I'm moved by her maturity, her generosity, her selflessness.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Second Course?

I would have thought that one Dresden Plate flimsy would get that out of my system.


Another leader-ender project has demanded "real" status, and I've given in. These are made from Kaffe and Kaffe-ish fabrics and there will be a dozen of them. I have a couple of different ideas of background and center circle possibilities, and will hold the audition soon.

Meanwhile, we will have some family time at the end of the month, and doing the handwork on these will be a good family time project, so I press on (and stitch on, too!).

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Figured Out (Long)

My recent blog posts, someone pointed out, have been on the depressing side. I'm hoping this will be the last of them . . . .

I've felt unsettled, obsolete, at risk, frazzled, stressed, uncreative, and a host of other less-than-terrific ways to feel. Life has seemed busy and more full of worry.

It used to be, "back in the day," that Joe went out a lot at night. Architects' clients for the most part tend to work for a living during the day, and have time to meet with the architect at night, after dinner, after the kids are bedded down. As our own kids grew up and moved out, I found myself with a lot of solitary evenings. Evenings that I tried to fill. My church Circle took up one night a month. I formed a hand-sewing group (a, bee, I understand, is what it is called). I joined a book group. I committed to serve on the church council. I joined a guild. My job requires one evening a month for much of the year. Many of these once-a-month activities spill into more than that.

I have a good marriage. I have a wonderful husband. I am blessed. Four and a half years ago, I nearly lost him. A little more than two years ago, the economic recession necessitated his closing his office in town and moving it into our home. The evening meetings for him have diminished. My regularly scheduled and spontaneous evenings out have not. For the past few months I have struggled with the belief that I am out too much at night. We do evening things together sometimes, but more often I am going out with girlfriends and leaving him home alone.

I have a good marriage. I have a wonderful husband. I am blessed. Pondering priorities has produced a clear policy: (a) Weekend evenings are family time, not girlfriend time. (b) One night each week out without Joe is enough, with some exceptions that are in my head. (c) Two weeknights out (one with Joe, one with friends) are enough. One Saturday per month of girlfriends-and-fabric is enough. Choices will need to be made.

All of this has been swirling around in my mind for a few weeks. What finally brought clarity was a loss to our community: A young man, a father and husband, a breadwinner and volunteer fireman, the kind of man each of us would want our son to be, was killed in a tragic accident. His twenty-nine-year-old widow no longer can make the choice to stay home with her husband.  I can.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Babies, Babies, Everywhere

Having dealt with the Blogger issue, I'm happy to be back in business, so to speak. I have some baby quilts to share with you.

This quilt is for my daughter's oldest friend, Kim. They became thick as thieves when they were in the second grade and remained close until around the time Sherry got married. Facebook brought Kim back into our lives a couple of years ago, and in mid-November, she and her husband produced Devon, a dear little boy who looks a lot like his maternal grandfather, IMNSHO.

The quilt is from the pattern Index, by Kristy Daum. It is the last quilt I've made using only one line of fabric. The pattern is very easy, and kind of fun to do, and you can find it here.
I just realized that I've never posted a photo of my finished Mazed flimsy, the cool batiks on black version that I so loved making! Must remedy that . . .

Meanwhile, the baby sized Mazed quilt is quilted and bound using left-overs from the maze fabrics.

My good friend Dottie's daughter Em is expecting a little one on January. She and her husband opted not to find out ahead of time what gender their baby is, so I needed something neutral for the quilt. Can't go wrong with pale green, I think. I'm happy with how this quilt turned out. Oh, and the pattern is also available here.

The shower is this Saturday.

I still think it would be fun to half-size the blocks for Mazed to make a different baby quilt.

My coworker, Kathleen, has been so generous in sharing her daughters' outgrown clothes with Aberdeen. When we found out that her latest pregnancy was a boy, I made this little quilt for him.

Timothy was born a couple of weeks ago. His quilt is back from the machinist and bound, and I'll be connecting with him within the next week to deliver it.

I don't have a pattern for this quilt; it's just something I do from time to time with batiks and is very, very easy. I wonder if I should attempt to do a tutorial.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

My Frazzled Life . . .

My frazzled life has been really frazzled lately. I've not been much of a blogger. And I've not been much of a sewist. I'm finally back to sewing some (stay tuned for the new Dresden Plates!) and last night when I attempted to return to blogging, I nearly had a meltdown when I couldn't post a photo.

Readers, you have been so helpful and supportive! Some of you wrote that you had begun paying $5 per year to have additional photo storage with Picasa. That option was not offered to me -- the best deal offered was $2.49 per month (an awful lot more, though not a huge amount in the grand scale of things). Today I managed to get into Picasa (last night I couldn't manage that) and deleted what appears to be all of the duplicate photos in an effort to free up space. That has helped. One of you wonderful people sent me this link and before I uploaded today's photo (and, yes, I was allowed to do it!), I reduced the size of it to fewer than 600 x 800 pixels using Paint. So I'm back in business, so to speak, with a couple of tools. I imagine that eventually I'll succumb and buy the additional storage, but not until I absolutely have to.

I'm still frazzled and stressed. Been doing some serious thinking and some reprioritizing and may write a bit about all of that once it feels settled. Meanwhile, once again the quilting becomes the metaphor as I look at bits and pieces of fabric -- and my life -- and put them together into a new -- and possibly more beautiful -- whole.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012


It may well be that my blog has come to an end. Blogger won't allow me to add photos -- says I have used up all of my storage on Picasa.

There doesn't seem to be a way to get things OUT of Picasa. They seem to want me to pay a monthly fee to purchase additional storage of photos on Picasa.

I don't understand any of this. If you do, and want to share your knowledge, please contact me. I'd be very grateful.

Frustrated, Near Philadelphia

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Mojo, Anyone?

I'm trying to get my mojo back. Mojos, actually, since both my quilting and blogging ones appear to be AWOL.

The secret sewing project is finished at last; I hope to photograph it tomorrow and then put it in a folder until after Christmas when I can safely share it.

This rose and grey creation is still on my wall after two weeks. I need to either put it together or take it down.

While I've still got my heap of ancient UFOs, I've had an urge to start another Dresden Plate. This one with Kaffe and Kaffeish fabrics. I'm thinking if I start making blades as leader-enders right away, it could be that by Christmas time, when there is a lot of sitting and visiting, I could be hand-stitching plates to backgrounds. And feeling pretty content.

Monday, November 19, 2012


Oh, yes, I've been sewing. Mostly on a secret or two that I can't post about until after Christmas. Like my SSCS, for example. The secrets are nearly finished, however, and regular sewing/posting should resume before long.

But first there is some unsewing to do. Several weeks ago I agreed to take a quilt kit from Quilts for Kids, and I had a darned good time making it! I even machine-quilted it all by myself! The organization asked volunteers to consider making a second quilt from our own stash to send along with the one made from the kit. I had some terrific blocks that Turbo had given me, and found just the right go-withs for lattice and border, and got the whole thing pieced and sandwiched and when I started machine quilting it, the TOP bunched up at the end. On TWO sides. Exasperated, I took the whole project and cast it aside.

Out of sight, out of mind, one would hope. But alas, it doesn't leave my mind. On Friday and Saturday, we'll have a whole lot of family in, and I'm thinking that ripping out that dreadful machining is just the project for me to have on my lap as we visit. Perhaps I won't even notice how odious my task is!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Potpourri of Solemn Thoughts

. . . Last Sunday was my high school graduating class's 50th reunion. I chose not to attend. I'd attended the 30th, under some pressure, and didn't enjoy it enough to want to repeat the experience. I did, however, get together for brunch on the day of the event with three women I'd gone all the way through school with, starting in Kindergarten. I last saw one at the 30th reunion; the second stopped to visit one day about twelve years ago when she was Near Philadelphia on business; and the third -- well, I hadn't seen her in fifty years (though she's a highly competent Scrabble player on Facebook). One of the women shared that she'd tested positive for the BRCA gene back in February and in March had voluntarily undergone a bilateral mastectomy, hysterectomy, and bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy. I can't seem to get that out of my mind.

. . . Another head's assistant has been diagnosed with breast cancer this week, and a lady that I never met but feel fond of has died from another cancer. Yet another cancer is plaguing one of my favorite bloggers.

. . . I've been feeling like a dinosaur lately. The occupations that I've held throughout my life have become obsolete. Dissertation typists are replaced by Word. Medical transcriptionists are replaced by Dragon Speak or something similar. Stenographers just vanished -- replaced, I guess, by email. And now the role of Assistant is being redefined. I've been feeling a bit like the cartoon of the two unicorns watching the ark pull out -- left behind.

. . . My dearest friend is finding herself in a similar place, mentally. I wonder what all of this means.

. . . On a much safer and more comfortable subject, I like basket blocks, batiks, and hand buttonhole stitching. I don't "get" yo-yos, hexagons, and jelly roll race quilts.

. . . I was to five food and beverage stores today in anticipation of Thanksgiving. And I'll have to go out again to get the turkey. How and when did everything become so complicated?

. . . Thank you to those who have written to see if I'm all right. I think I am.

Friday, November 09, 2012

A Night Away

Each year I attend a retreat sponsored by the Friends Council on Education; the invited participants are all people who hold the same position at different Quaker schools. From yesterday noon until today at noon, I was with six other heads' assistants at Pendle Hill, a retreat center near Philadelphia. Our group was smaller than usual; some years we have had as many as sixteen or eighteen. Smaller, but no less powerful, no less meaningful.

Casual and comfortable is the setting, informal is the meeting. Last evening as we talked and shared, I hand-stitched the binding on this quilt for my upcoming sixth grandchild. And just now, as I was typing this, I noticed the mistake! Well, it is too late now . . . .

We did a lot of discussing of the work that we have in common. We took a field trip to nearby Swarthmore College to visit the Friends Historical Library and the Peace Collection. We ate delicious and nutritious meals, experiencing kohlrabi for the first time -- oddly enough, in a salad with grapefruit and mint. We talked. We talked a lot.

Someone led a reflection exercise on paradox. I'm not crazy about these kinds of things. We were asked to think back to a time in our lives when we had experienced paradox and how we had dealt with it. At first I drew a complete blank and then a most unwanted situation from the past came to my mind. And it would not go away. Step two was to take a walk with a partner and share. I wanted no parts of this but in such a small group, I was not able to comfortably decline participation. I deliberately asked the only person that I had not known from previous group meetings to be my partner and when we set out, I told her that my paradox had come to my mind unwelcome and I wasn't sure I was interested in sharing it.

My partner was fine with that. She went on to talk about a time when she learned that she had to become uncomfortable in order to be comfortable. She does some diversity work, and the sharing that leads to growth is often uncomfortable. I listened and processed with her and then we walked along quietly. At last I decided that if becoming uncomfortable had made her comfortable, perhaps I should give it a try. I know that it is often easier to share something with a stranger than with an intimate, and so I told her my unwelcome paradox. She was terrific: she just listened and nodded, didn't ask hard questions, didn't try to "fix it." We walked along in silence again. Then my partner shared that my story was remarkably similar to a situation she was dealing with in her personal life, and went on to tell me about it.

When we returned to the group gathering, the leader had placed postcards with various images on the table and asked everyone to pick a postcard that somehow connected with the experience. I immediately went for one of a spiral shell, thinking that in our conversation, as we walked along, went around, we went deeper and deeper.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Voting Day, 2012

Well, there was a big brouhaha this summer about the possible requirement to show a photo ID in order to vote in the Presidential election. One faction adamantly stated that voter fraud was rampant and needed to be stopped; this could best be done by requiring the photo IDs. The other faction just as insistently opined that this whole notion was just an effort by the one party to prevent the other party (where people, apparently, were less likely to have a photo ID) from voting.

Being inclined to the latter position, I hastened to consult my personal Man In Washington, who told me, "Well, Mom, there are more reported incidents of death by vending machine than there are instances of proven voter impersonation." I loved it.

So I thought of him this morning when I voted. Arriving at 7:07 (polling place had opened at 7:00), there was a long line and I was #48 in my ward. I hand my wallet firmly closed in my handbag; no way was I going to be intimidated into going along with the nonsense of having to prove who I am. I had plenty of time to prepare a little speech on deadly vending machines (and coconuts!). Then I noticed that showing the photo ID sped up the process considerably, pulled out my license, and entered the booth.

My civic duty completed, I hurried on to work, arriving almost on time. And pondering the possibility of somehow choking to death on a piece of coconut custard pie . . . .

Opium Butterflies

Here's "Opium Butterflies" all quilted, bound, and ready for some litle bitty girl or another. When it came home from the machinist, I rooted through my stash to find something to use for binding. The final selection was a bit of a reach for me (click to enlarge), but I'm actually pleased with how it turned out!

Now I've got to stop making these baby girl quilts. Every currently pregnant person I know is expecting a boy! (Except for the one who has chosen not to find out.)

Monday, November 05, 2012

This and That

Julie pieced this low volume top and then apparently did not know what to do with it. Something (Someone, I suspect) told her to send it to me. It was during my sister-in-law's recent visit; she and I had spent much of the day in Lancaster County, and on the drive home, she spoke about her daughter's illness. The daughter, who is fifty, had had a sudden and massive stroke and was seriously compromised. Without speech, unable to move one side, she was confined to a wheelchair and making very slow progress. When we got home, the postman had come, and there was the parcel from Julie. I looked at my sister-in-law, who was just hurting so badly for her daughter, and said, "I wonder if this would be good for Linda -- to keep her legs warm in that wheelchair -- when the cold weather comes." She nodded, and the quilt went off to the machinist. I finished binding it the other evening, and it will go out in the mail to Linda tomorrow. In the intervening weeks, Linda's progress has picked up -- she is regaining her speech and is beginning to take a few steps. We are more optimistic than we'd been, but there is still a long road to travel.

New Topic: Judy and I had been so excited to join the guild a couple of years back. But over time, the long ride to and from the meetings has worn us out -- at 45-55 minutes each way, it makes for a very long evening. The guild membership is 100, and they hold many of their activities during the day. Judy and I both work (and get up early!) full time, and haven't been able to participate beyond the monthly meeting.   We never really got to know anyone, either, other than the delightful woman who had been president when we first began attending.

When Pat and Bobbi began to sing the praises of another, smaller guild that is closer to home, we decided that we should investigate. A couple of meetings convinced us that we'd find the Philly Modern Quilt Guild to be a better fit. So we've sent our regretful resignations to the big guild, and are ready to learn about modern quilting. The above is my current attempt -- four Kaffe prints on some nice grey. I'm thinking a turquoise binding eventually. But first I have to sew it together!

With the cold weather here and a frost imminent, Joe decided it was time to dismantle the garden. On Saturday he picked all these unripe cherry tomatoes. We'd feasted on the little guys for a couple of months, nearly every night tossing a bunch of them in the skillet with some onion, garlic, olive oil and basil. And now that time is past.

I just thought they were so pretty; so I took a picture.

Friday, November 02, 2012

And The Winnah Is . . . .

. . . . Ms Jan who wrote:

BloggerMs. Jan said...
Why, 30's repros on Kona Snow of course. Or....some of my 100's of Halloween fabrics on black!

They both sound like terrific ways to use Index, Jan. And I want to see photos of both of them!

Jan, Kristy will be sending you a pdf of Index. Have a wonderful time making it!