Thursday, June 28, 2012

God's Hands/Our Hands

Joe Blair has written a poignant post this week. It's about a group of guys who have decided been called  to rebuild the screened porch of a friend of theirs. The friend is dying and has chosen to spend what time remains to her on her porch.

It is part of what makes us human, I think, the Urge To Do Something when someone we care about is going through a bad time. We know we are powerless to make it better most of the time, but still, we have this compelling need to Do Something.

In the past week and a half I learned that one neighbor had to have a bone scan because of a cancer recurrence. The woman who lives next door to him has finally been matched with a donor for the marrow transplant she needs to ward off leukemia. And our friend who kept Blackberry when we were away is being scheduled for complicated heart surgery. On Sunday morning, I remembered these three during The Prayers. But that wasn't enough. In the afternoon I had a compulsion to bake, and later that day delivered blueberry muffins to two of our friends and banana bread to the third.

Tonight I'm remembering a piece I used to share with my Stephen Ministers during their training course. It was written by Teresa of Avila and says:

Christ Has No Body
Christ has no body but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
Compassion on this world,
Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good,
Yours are the hands, with which he blesses all the world.
Yours are the hands, yours are the feet,
Yours are the eyes, you are his body.
Christ has no body now but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
compassion on this world.
Christ has no body now on earth but yours.

Amen and Amen.


Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Rugs for Mugs

Yesterday I made a couple of mug rugs for people at work.

One is for the art teacher, who is retiring. She has always been interested in my quilting and very encouraging and supportive. I'll miss her cheerful, goofy presence.

The other is for a colleague who is taking on a challenging task for the coming year. She just might need that glass of whatever!

Monday, June 25, 2012

BOUNCING Back

I've been home from vacation for a little more than two weeks, and still haven't plugged in my Bernina. So it's been about five weeks since I've sewn (not counting the hand quilting that I have in progress in front of the television).

It's not that I'm giving up quilting, and it's not that the sewing studio is so cluttered that I can't reach the machine (though that isn't far from the truth!). It's a couple of other things: First, I'm still feeling glow-y and relaxed from our wonderful trip, and don't feel driven to spend every possible moment sewing. Second, I've been spending a significant amount of time at blurb which I sort of discovered through Julie, who published a lovely book of her haiku quilts there. I'm editing the blog posts about my trip and turning them into a keepsake book. It was that important of a trip. The editing takes a lot of time; I had just about finished and realized that I wanted my book to be a different size, and had to start over. So that is what has been keeping me busy during my expendable time.

But Summer Hours began today (Hallelujah!). For the next nine weeks I'll be working from 8-1 instead of 7:30-4 and I know I'm going to want to sew. Shortly before going away, I bought this pattern and am eager to dive into it. Now the situation is getting complicated because I just discovered Bounce, by Miss Rosie, and think I really, really, need to do something about it. I've got a giant Rubbermaid tub full of batiks and a bolt of Kona black. Each of these quilts would be gorgeous in those fabrics.

Where should I start?????


Thursday, June 21, 2012

Olympic MOO!



Well, by gosh, you should have known I'd have to write about this brouhaha.  Somebody posted the link on Facebook. The issue is about the US Olympics Committee being peeved at some knitters.  Knitters, I tell you! Here's an excerpt from the story:

If you mess with the Olympics trademark, a cloud of legal hurt will descend on you faster than Tyson Gay in the Men's 100 meters. Case in point: The U.S. Olympic Committee has sent a cease and desist letter to a knitting-based social network for hosting a knitting "olympics." Now, knitters are in revolt.

2012 was to be the third year that the knitting social network Ravelry—yes, this exists and is surprisingly popular—hosted a "Ravelympics," a knitting competition for users that includes events like an "afghan marathon," and "scarf hockey." Knitters were supposed to compete in their events while watching the actual Games on TV.
But that was before the U.S. Olympics Committee got wind of it and sent Ravelry a cease & desist, for making a mockery of the Games with their needlework. Here's a passage from the letter, sent by the USOC's general counsel and posted by Ravelry founder Casey Forbes to his blog (Ravelry account required):
The athletes of Team USA have usually spent the better part of their entire lives training for the opportunity to compete at the Olympic Games and represent their country in a sport that means everything to them. For many, the Olympics represent the pinnacle of their sporting career. Over more than a century, the Olympic Games have brought athletes around the world together to compete at the Olympic Games and represent their country in a sport that means everything to them.
[…]
We believe using the name "Ravelympics" for a competition that involves an afghan marathon, scarf hockey and sweater triathlon, among others, tends to denigrate the true nature of the Olympic Games. In a sense, it is disrespectful to our country's finest athletes and fails to recognize or appreciate their hard work.  [Emphasis added]
Do you believe this?  How small, how mean of the US Olympic Committee.

And if it applies to knitters, by gum, I imagine it applies to quilters, too. For the past several Olympic seasons, I've watched every single night, doing my handwork, and holding what I called my Olympic Binding Event, little realizing that this could possibly be offensive to a skater, a gymnast, a javelin thrower (and I certainly don't want to get on the wrong side of him) or a luger. I'd already begun lining up projects for the London Games, set to begin in a little over a month. Dare I continue my plans? Or "scrap" the idea of viewing and watch West Wing reruns instead?

Knitters, I stand beside you!  I salute you!  Cast on!








Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Summer Reading: June Edition

I have always been a reader, and in the summer, when I have more disposable time, I read more. A friend from work was giving away books near the end of the school year and since I'd never read The Lovely Bones back when it was popular, and it was among her offerings, I took it. I needed a paperback for my trip, something I could leave in the ship's library when finished (possibly in exchange for something else).

I'd been put off by the description of this book; it sounded like it would be gruesome and horrible. I was wrong. It was well-written and interesting. I am glad that I read it.

Another friend from work (who must remain nameless!) mentioned this book to me the day before we left for our trip. I am so out of touch with popular culture that I'd never even heard  of it, much less how controversial it was! She assured me that I'd not be disappointed, so I went bought it in paperback with the promise to share it with her on my return.

It was everything I'd anticipated. And more! Little matter that the story and characters are all preposterous and that the writing is nothing short of terrible. It is salacious, tantalizing, and titillating (you should pardon the expression) and my nameless friend was right.
After finishing volume one, I thought I'd move right along to volume two. But by then I was in a Swedish-speaking country visiting villages where there were no bookstores. And even if there had been, an English book would have been very expensive. What to do! What to do!

We had taken the iPad along, so I went on line, bought the Kindle app, and downloaded the book. 

I'm here to report that I like the Kindle app much more than I'd anticipated; volume two, not so much. The writing was worse (if possible), the characters and situations even more ridiculous, and, worst of all, there was disappointingly more plot and less salaciousness! In no hurry for volume three.

Since I now had the Kindle, new material was no problem! I had read The Tea Rose and The Winter Rose when they had first come out and liked them, so when I saw that a third volume was now in print, I had looked at it at Barnes and Noble before leaving home. It was a huge tome of a thing, hardback, and nearly thirty dollars. So I left it there.

Downloading it for the Kindle was weightless and less expensive. I began reading it, but found I couldn't concentrate on the various characters and situations, and set it aside. I will probably go back to the beginning and start reading it again tonight. There is no reason to think I won't like it.

From the time I saw the television series "Brideshead Revisited" more than thirty years ago (how the time has flown!), I knew I wanted to read it. But until now, I never did.

My turn to pick came around for our monthly book discussion group, and I chose it for June, and read it since returning home. It does not disappoint! I loved it, and am eager for our discussion. It is a very rich book with wonderful characters, humorous and serious by turns. 

On Thursday I'll find out how the others liked it.

When I was having trouble with The Wild Rose, and newly excited about the Kindle, I wandered around Amazon to see what else would strike my fancy. I had heard the Irving had a new novel out, and I've liked everything else that he's written. I downloaded In One Person and it is classic Irving: wrestlers, sexual unconventionality, mother-son situations, wonderful relationships -- the only Irving element that is missing (so far, and I'm on the last chapter) is bears!

A young male is more accepting of his own bisexuality than his family is (though they should not have been surprised by it!), and the story is set in the early years of the AIDS horror. An excellent read.



Monday, June 18, 2012

Back to Our Regular Programming . . .

. . . that being family, quilts, food, and whatever else seems blogworthy at the time!  Let's start with family.

Just before we went to Scandinavia, we made a trip to Virginia to visit grandchildren. We had a wonderful time! This is an extremely rare shot of Elijah Boo being still. We had a short but happy visit together. Eli's prolly the happiest 2-year-old I've known and for as infrequently as we get together with him, he's remarkably warm to us! This photo was taken at our house a few weeks before our trip South.









In the last week or so before we went away, I was piecing tops for baby quilts, starting with charm packs that I had. I'm pleased with how this one turned out and it is near the top of the list for quilting this summer.

Marsha has recently been doing some fine machine quilting on her Pfaff and I'm thinking seriously about trying to machine quilt this one. It is a gift for a new baby boy, Nolan Michael, and I need to have it finished by the end of August.

The Brian-Erin quilt came back from the machinist not long before we went away and I was delighted with her work (as always).

Brian and Erin are the couple from school who are to be married on Joe's and my forty-fifth anniversary, and I thought that warranted a quilt gift. You may remember that I used Barbara Brackman's "Morris and Company" fabrics to make this quilt, shortly before I swore off single-line quilts.

Brian and Erin were pleased!


Sunday, June 17, 2012

Hej Hej

The first thing we learned to say in Swedish was "hej hej (pronounced 'hey hey')," which was how we were greeted in shops and restaurants. We were delighted to be able to respond in kind!

Of course, this led the other person to believe us to be Swedish (well, of course!) and she would begin to tell us something or another, until we would respond, "We speak English," and then seamlessly, she would roll over into English.

 Sherry teased me before we went to Sweden, saying I would be disappointed that people weren't wearing little red sweaters similar to our Swedish Christmas decorations.

They weren't wearing them, but I wasn't disappointed. After all, it was June!  I knew that they had them packed away.

And in case they needed more, this shop was where they could be purchased!

On the day we drove north to Dalarna, we saw many traffic signs that were yellow triangles with a big picture of a moose -- warning us that moose were likely to cross the road in this particular spot. We never saw a moose, crossing the road or otherwise, and we never managed to get a photo of one of the signs. But Joe was kind enough to take this picture of a beverage he enjoyed. Close enough!


Some natives we encountered . . .


and some more . . . .
No, "hej hej" doesn't also  mean goodbye. Not at all.

But I'm ending this way, because I hope someday to be saying it again, back in Sweden.



Eating our Way Across Scandinavia

Part of a breakfast in Copenhagen. Salmon, always salmon . . . .

Joe's mussels in Tivoli


Lamb shank in Tivoli


Roed groed med floed, a wonderful dessert that only Danes can pronounce!


Linguini with smoked reinder, mushrooms, in sweet whey butter sauce

Shared appetizer: four preparations of herring

Grand Hotel, Oslo

Char with roe and white asparagus, carrot puree

Trout



Open-face sandwiches, Oslo

Open-face sandwiches, Copenhagen



Reindeer, Stockholm