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.

 
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




THE BIRDS

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.

Wrong.


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.