Sunday, April 28, 2013

The Well-Dressed Five-Year-Old

Joe and Blackberry had the opportunity to go camping for part of the weekend with Sam and his father. Oddly, I wasn't invited. But I would have declined, anyway.

I have a little girl's dress pattern that I love, and it only goes up to size 5. Guess what size Caroline is this summer? Yup. So it's my last chance to make this dress for her. I made her two or three of them last summer, when she was a 4, and I understand that she wore them a lot.

So yesterday I got this one made (didn't realize my shoes were in the photo). When Sherry phoned to say that she and Caroline were having a Girls' Day and would I care to join them for dinner, I quickly gave the dress a final pressing so I could give it to Caroline to take home.
 When they picked me up for dinner, I heard the details of their Girls' Day. They'd done their nails, all forty of them, and then went out shoe shopping. Of course.

We went to the newish Italian place down where Rizzo's used to be (nod to Marsha here), and while Caroline downed bread and spaghetti and meatballs, Sherry and I enjoyed paninis. Claiming to be too full for dessert, we headed back to my house where Caroline really liked her finished dress, and really liked this second one that was nearly finished, and really liked the chocolate moose tracks frozen yogurt that we found in my freezer.

I got out a couple of patterns and a couple of pieces of fabric and we had a bit of a consultation on where to go from here.
The two-layer skirt I made last year had been a hit, so I had picked out these two lavender fabrics with another one planned and, fortunately, Miss Caroline was of the same mind. So this was today's project.

Next up, I think, is the nightgown pattern. And then perhaps another pinafore dress. Or two.

Such fun . . . .

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Pink Lemonade from Afar

Yesterday's mail brought the most wonderful surprise. It was from Paula, The Quilter. Really though, she should be called The Knitter.

Paula wrote that these socks made her think of [pink] lemonade. So she sent them to me. I am humbled by her kindness, her generosity.

They are beautiful. They are warm. They will always remind me of the importance of making lemonade when dealt lemons. Thank you, friend.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Second Baby Quilt

This is the second quilt top I have put together for my Circle's project. The photo is a little blurry.

The first quilt is finished. I'm going to sandwich this one later today so I can tie and bind it in front of some Netflix movies as the week moves along.

These go together so quickly and easily and I think they are very sweet.

I really, really need to spent some time organizing the sewing studio. Where is that Dreaded Cleaning Virus when one needs it?

Wednesday, April 24, 2013


Saturday, April 20, 2013

Oh, Baby!

One of the members of my women's Circle from church forwarded an interesting flyer. She's somehow connected with the hospital's women's auxiliary, and it turns out that there are more poor people in our area than I was aware of. This flyer concerned needy moms of very young children, and was requesting that people send 10-15 items of one size somewhere between 6 months and 18 months, if I remember correctly, either new or used and clean, wrapped in a blanket and tied securely, labeled "Boy" or "Girl" and what size. We have so many grandmothers in our group that it seems like an excellent project for us.

I offered to make two baby quilts and today I pieced the blocks for one of them. Here they are on the wall, and sixty-four more squares are cut to make a border. I had such a good time today working on this. The fabrics are all Westminster scraps with plain white. I think I'll bind it in aqua and tie it with aqua floss; I think it is pretty gender-neutral, don't you?

Friday, April 19, 2013

A Chapter Concluded

Today was to have been my last day at the school. But my available supply of poise ran out sometime yesterday. So last night Honna and I went over and took my quilts and photos off the walls and left some notes that I had prepared and quietly fled. I imagine there were people wanting to wish me well today and that they will be disappointed to find me gone. This time, though, I opted for what I need, instead of what they need. Today holds a long-delayed lunch with my sister, a new library book (how appropriate is that!), and the Dresden Plates on my design wall.

Thirteen years come to an end. Not of my choosing. And it has been difficult to have others make a major life decision for me (though I realize that this happens to people all the time, if not others making the decision, then illness or circumstance). That has been hard, as has been the feeling of rejection, even though intellectually I am well aware of the reasoning behind the decision.

I wrote earlier that it is cruel and unusual to tell someone that the job has ended but the person should stay on for another five months. This happens to teachers all the time. Fortunately, I didn't have the well-being of fifteen first-graders or 4 sections of physics students to attend to, and I was free to seek something else and be done before five months elapsed. I lasted half that time and will continue to hold in the Light (yup, that Quakerspeak has become a piece of me) my fellow dismissees, including one in another setting.

There's a brief interim period before the next chapter begins and while I am eager to know what it will bring, I need the time to put the past one to rest. Friends, family, reading, organizing, quilting (well, d'uh!) and perhaps even a day in Cape May . . . . and before I know it, I'll be turning the page.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Deja Vu

I don't watch very much television other than some of the programs PBS shows on Sunday nights and some of the baseball games. I haven't gotten involved in a weekly show since "The West Wing" went off. At lunchtime at school, other teachers talk about the series that they watch, and discuss the plots and the characters. I listen but have nothing to offer.

So Joe and I are possibly the last people on earth who haven't watched "Mad Men." Until now. Someone at school told me that it was an excellent show and thought I would enjoy it. That person was right. Sort of.

Set in the early 1960s (why am I telling you this since I am the last person to watch it?), the show takes place at an advertising agency in Manhattan, and the segments that we have seen so far (about six, I think) revolve around one Dan Draper, his family and neighbors, his coworkers, and their families and coworkers. There is a lot of drinking involved -- in the office, even, and certainly at lunchtime. Nearly everyone smokes. A lot. And the men fool around, as do some of the women. I am fascinated by it.

Because in the early 1960s, I worked as a secretary in an advertising agency in Philadelphia. Nearly everything in the television show is spot on -- the hair styles, the clothing (even the nightgowns and negligees and bras), the slang. But not only that, at the agency where I worked most people smoked (yes, of course I tried -- I wanted to fit in -- but I never could inhale). Martini lunches happened. Some people had bottles of liquor or flasks in the office. "Matinees" occurred. And none of these things seemed to be frowned upon. I worked in advertising for a few years, starting when I was eighteen and moving on shortly before I married at twenty-two. It was fun and it was exciting and oh! so glamorous.

But even then, it felt unreal. It felt like I was in a play rather than living a real life, and because I was less sophisticated than many (at least at the get-go), I flubbed my lines regularly.

Watching "Mad Men" has taken me back to that time and I'm just as fascinated and no less comfortable this time around!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Post Number 1586: Assorted Goodies

So, it seems Post Number 1600 is coming up in the next couple of weeks. And my seventh blogiversary occurs during that time frame, too. Might be good to start thinking about some sort of a give-away.

Meanwhile, I've been Putting My Affairs In Order in one location, and discovered a few pictures that I'd saved on the office computer, thinking I'd one day have a use for them. I still might. But since they are so wonderful and since y'all have been so super in recent weeks/months, I thought I'd just go ahead and share them now.

The only one that is mine is the snowman quilt (and if you type too quickly, it becomes a snotman quilt) that I gave to my dear, dear colleague some years back. The others all came from internet sites.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Words for Survival

You know how every once in a while you come across a slogan or a motto or a thought someone has shared or something along those lines and you think, "Wow! That really says it!"

I've been on this unwelcome journey, these part two-and-a-half months, and at the beginning, some people said either "Everything happens for a reason" or "When God closes a door, He opens a window." I didn't want to hear either of those things because my opinion is that they are bad theology. I believe, instead, that God gives us the grace to make some sort of sense of our circumstances.

I received other messages during this time, insightful and helpful messages, and they would pop up on Pinterest or on Facebook or other odd places. These messages would resonate with what I was feeling.

I wrote in my most recent blog post about the things that have helped me to hold body and soul together. Perhaps those things will help someone else who is facing this kind of struggle. Perhaps someone facing any kind of struggle right now would appreciate from my accumulated messages. They are so rich that I prolly should publish them one at a time, but instead, in no significant order, here they are now:

Sunday, April 14, 2013


It has been a long process, these two and a half months. On January 29 I experienced what so many have experienced these past few years: the major traumatic life event of losing one's job. On January 29, I felt only shock and raw, undefined pain. Within days this developed into all kinds of feelings: panic, anger, pain, sadness, confusion, loss, incomprehension. I spent my time trying to imagine what Joe's and my life would be like, dealing with a profound sense of loss, resentment that others had made a major decision on my behalf with no input from me, and the anguish of realizing the financial impact and trying to come up with a financial plan in the likely event that I would be unable to secure another full-time position.

Then there was the stress of knowing that there were likely five months of this to endure, five months of putting on a brave face when I was terrified, five months of needing to be professional in a devastating situation, stress that at times seemed unbearable. There were times when I was so raw that I cried, times when I allowed myself to feel angry at the people who had made this decision for me and still try to give them the respect colleagues should receive, There were times when I had to leave campus because the stress was overwhelming. Much of the time I was so engrossed in trying to make sense of the unknown that I was unable to be tuned in to very much else.

On Friday, for the first time, I woke up feeling very close to my real self. Here is what helped me to transform my lemons into lemonade:

  • The patient, kind support of my husband.
  • Messages, verbal and written, of concern and hope from family and friends.
  • A couple of meetings with an outsourcing professional.
  • Several meetings with a Stephen Minister from my church.
  • My wonderful quilting buddies who listened when I wanted to talk, and understood when I didn't.
  • Unexpected blessings like the flowers that showed up on my desk, the box of fabric that appeared in the mail, and a truly amazing vegan dessert (who knew?).
  • Trying to think outside of myself, to make a meal for a friend recovering from surgery, to make charity quilts, to make a couple of "unnecessary" gift quilts.
  • Oddly enough, a shared experience: One of my dearest friends received similar news just two weeks before I did. Collectively, we have visited every one of the Kubler-Ross stages of grief, some of them several times. 
  • And the offer of a job!
A few weeks ago, after I had become convinced that because of my age I would be unable to find a full-time job, I applied for a part-time position. Several days ago, I was offered and accepted the position. There are still some concerns that must be figured out, but the job appears to be a good fit, possibly custom-made for me. I will share more details soon. But right now, I think it is time for a glass of lemonade. And I certainly do like the sound of this recipe!


Friday, April 12, 2013

Quilts for Kids

I didn't make it to last month's Guild meeting, but I learned that the challenge for this month was something to do with log cabins, modern style. I put together a sweet doll quilt, and as I was ready to begin hand-quilting it, I learned that it had been suggested that the log cabin projects finish at 36" so that they could be finished into Quilts for Kids donations (one of our favorite charities). I decided right away that I needed to undertake a second project.

I thought immediately of the wonderful prints that my Fabric Fairy Godmother had sent to me. I had known immediately on receiving her wonderful gift that the first thing that I would make would be a charity quilt of some sort. Very quickly this little 36" square top came together. I'll take it to Guild on Tuesday for Show and Tell and then finish it before the next meeting. A second one, same blocks but with a different layout is in the works and should be ready for Show and Tell, too.

Dear Fabric Fairy Godmother, I hope that you approve of this use of your beautiful fabrics. You might want to leave a comment. Anonymously, of course . . . .  thank you again, whoever you may be!

Tuesday, April 09, 2013


I believe I mentioned earlier that this past Saturday, a whole bunch of us gathered in the Fellowship Hall at church to sew. It was a day that most of us had eagerly anticipated, and the only fly in the ointment was that two of the Usual Suspects had other commitments and were unable to join us.

When I went to bed on Friday night, my eagerness for the coming day was mixed with a fear that my alarm wouldn't go off. I guess that had something to do with The Dream.

It seemed that the group was all assembled in the Fellowship Hall, each with her own sewing machine (as usual) and two to a table (as usual) and dressed in nuns' habits (not usual). And not all of the habits were the same; apparently we represented different orders.

So we were sewing along nicely and behaving much more respectably than usual, when suddenly from the northwest corner entrance came a loud commotion. In came a band of strange, rowdy nuns who appeared to be right out of Monty Python's Flying Circus! "We're the Camelites!" they shrieked. One of our number foolishly attempted to correct them. "Carmelites, I think you mean," she said. "No, no, Camelites! See we have camels!" And when we looked, indeed, these noisy peculiarly habited sisters were perched on dromedaries.

And that was pretty much it.

Monday, April 08, 2013

More About Sex

I so enjoyed reading the comments that came after my 612.6 blog post, both the ones that were left on the post and the ones that came in emails and were not made public. Of course this got me thinking about fifth grade and the morning that while combing my hair before school and avoiding any possibility of eye contact, my mother asked, "Do you know where babies come from?" "Your stummick," I replied confidently (an older, married cousin had produced two little boys in recent years, and prior to their arrival seemed to have changed shape a lot). "Well," she continued uneasily, "you are going to see a movie about this in school today. If you have any questions, we'll talk after school."

So off I went, wondering not so much about what this movie was going to be but how the heck she knew we were going to see it! The three sections of fifth grade were split up that morning. The boys all went with Mr. Dares to do something that I believe was baseball related. All of the girls followed Miss Koons to the auditorium where -- surprise! -- our mothers were already seated. We watched a movie, "Growing Up and Liking It," and then went back to the classroom where Miss Koons asked if any of us had "already started." She gave us each a little booklet to take home; it talked about the uterus preparing a "little nest" out of blood and tissue that was only needed if a baby was going to grow there. She asked about questions. No one had any. I wondered how that little nest would know  if there was going to be a baby and how that happened, but kept my thoughts to myself. When I got home that day, I was asked, "Do you have any questions?" I knew that the answer had to be "no."

So that was that. Sex wasn't mentioned in the school again until eleventh grade. There we had an all-girl health class that met twice a week with Miss Pletz. (I've set aside my usual practice of creating pseudonyms to protect the guilty -- Miss Pletz's name is just too good.) The format for the class was that she had a lot of booklets and articles about venereal disease, and we spent the class periods reading the materials, and writing reports on them. I do not recall instruction on anything else apart from some dreadful slides that showed us how to identify a chancre. Certainly we weren't told how the little nest got its information. I just knew that mine hadn't let me down like it had "Shirley," who had left school back in ninth grade "to have a baby."

There was one other thing, though. You can ask any woman who attended our high school back in the sixties, "What did Miss Pletz say in 11th grade health?"

And the correct answer would be: "Girls, never sit on a boy's lap without first putting a newspaper down!"

Oh, dear. It was too late. All of us already had.

Sunday, April 07, 2013

Spring Break 2013: A Flimsy

After a false start or two, Spring Break 2013 is a full-fledged flimsy. I am pleased with it.

I am actually thinking of trying to machine quilt it myself, because I know what kind of quilting I want: Straight lines. I have done so very little machine quilting that I lack confidence, but we shall see. If I do machine quilt it myself, it won't be for a little while. I have to clean up my studio first.

Today I put together a very small piece for the current guild challenge. We are do something with log cabins and this morning I knew exactly what I wanted to do. The little flimsy is finished and tonight as I watch The Midwife followed by Mister Whatsisname, I'm going to hand quilt it. I believe it will ultimately be a doll quilt for a certain little girl that I know.

Yesterday the Usual Suspects (well, most of them -- a couple had escaped) were rounded up for a day of sewing down at the church. Bobbi and Pat had brought along their guild challenges, Honna was making a table runner, Kathy T-shirt quilt, and Judy and Helen were assembling bow tie quilts. I had all of the blocks for a secret project and got all of the rows assembled and about half of them put together and the rest pinned. I believe that Thursday night I will have time to get the rest of those rows sewn and the borders put on.

There's a glimmer of hope on the job-hunt front and I'll say no more about that until there is something more to say. Again, if you are tired of reading about this particular part of my life, I suggest you return in a few months when, hopefully, my life will be more stable. Critical, scolding comments really don't help me in any way.

'Nuff said.

Friday, April 05, 2013


The school library, which is right next to my office, is a happening place. The library staff is continually coming up with intriguing enticements to read, to peruse, to browse. Currently they are running an effort called Dewey-A-Day. It seems each day they post a Dewey number (today is 810) and students are urged to visit the section, examine some books, and then enter a drawing for a prize. Love it!

An ancient memory has surfaced.

I was about 13, and a very naive and unsophisticated 13. My father had a card for the Philadelphia Library; it enabled him to check out 12 books for three weeks. I was a voracious reader, so the deal was that he would pick out up to six books, and I could pick six.

One evening, while searching through the "to be shelved" cart for something new and different, I found the book pictured above. I was 13, therefore, a teen-ager, and I delved into it and gasped! Oh, the information it contained! I'd no idea. No idea whatsoever. I made a mental note of the call number (see, I can still remember it!). Certainly not brave enough to check the book out, on subsequent visits I would pick out my books very, very quickly and then head over to 612.6 and furtively self-educate before it was time to check out.

I don't think my father ever knew . . . .