Friday, October 31, 2014

The Kindness of Quilters

I'm a bit excited because November will be my month for the Bee Group. I have asked for 9" Churn Dash blocks, one with a black on white background and one with black and white for the Churn Dash; I have asked for yellow, orange, and/or red in contemporary fabrics for the remaining portion of the blocks.

Kathy and Pat are both in my Bee group, and they decided that the Retreat was a grand opportunity to knock out my blocks and so they did. Then they tucked them away for the ingathering midway through the month.

I wasn't 100% during our Retreat. I was preoccupied with my job situation and my knee, which had been behaving beautifully, was flaring up (I later realized this was because in the excitement of being away, I had neglected to consume my required quantity of Advils).

When we were getting ready to pack up for home, dear thoughtful Pat came over with four more happy Churn Dashes that she handed to me. "I can't make your knee feel better," she said, "But I can make these for you!" And, by golly, I felt better instantly. Thank you, Pat!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Change in the Wind, Part One

It is nearly three months, now, since the school for autistic children left its home in The Little Church to move to bigger quarters. I hear from the director from time to time; all is going well, the new space is huge and laid out beautifully, the kids all made an easy adjustment, and when would I come to visit?

The move left a huge hole in The Little Church. Their existence has been threatened due to their dependence on the income from the school, now gone. Tireless efforts on the part of the lay leadership has, thus far, failed to yield a new tenant, although conversations with one prospect are ongoing and there have been some inroads in other directions.

The move also left a huge hole in my life. No one from The Little Church is in the building regularly. I miss the traipsing up and down the hall as the kids go to speech or occupational therapy sessions. I miss the odd noises that some of the nonverbal students make. I miss the ongoing affirmations and enthusiasms of the teachers. I miss hearing about day-to-day life events of the staff. The Little Church is way too quiet for my taste.

The rector stops by for -- at most -- a total of three hours each week when I am there. Most weeks it is fewer. The congregation is hanging on by a thread with no money for preventive medicine, they are constantly applying band-aids and tourniquets to all-too-frequent property issues.

I have been very, very lonely, and a few weeks ago -- as a couple of squirrels moved in and began appearing without warning -- I began to feel uncomfortable. The church is locked and there is a doorbell, but I must open the door to speak to the person who has rung.

I looked at a position in another church, but it felt like a toxic place and they wanted more hours than I wanted. I drove my husband crazy consulted with my husband, who said if I wanted to be retired person (but I would still continue the hospital chaplaincy work), it was fine with him. I wasn't so sure. We decided that I would try to stick it out until spring, when I would have worked at the church for two years. Or, perhaps I would find another opportunity.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Black Rock, Third Time Around

Seven-ninths of the Renegades spent the past weekend at Black Rock Retreat Center. We were housed in a cute little A-frame house, just a few steps away from the main building where the meeting/work rooms are located. We missed our absent two-ninths members a lot.

We all got so much work done! This beautiful finish is Marsha's gorgeous project that she put together with blocks she had brought along. Couldn't you just picture a lovely nap under this treasure? Or as a tablecloth for a most elegant tea party?

I had finished the last of the nine Monster blocks just a couple of days before we went away, and I stopped at Gene's to buy fabric for setting the blocks. I was still having discomfort with the knee during the retreat (I had stopped the regular taking of the Advil for the inflammation, foolish me), so it took me a while, but I did get it together and it is off to the machinist today! Photo will be shared after it is gifted to Glorious Grandbaby #6 for his mid-December second birfday.

When we retreated last April, Kathy had organized a block swap called "Black and White Retro TV Stars," and the blocks it yielded were just marvelous.

Honna put hers together and we never got a photo before she gave the quilt away as a wedding gift. I don't know if any of the other participants have completed their tops, but Kathy brought her blocks along, finished wonkifying them, and assembled her top.

Isn't it fun?

I had started putting mine together at a sewing day late last spring, completed three rows, and the day had come to an end. After the Monsters were finished, I laid these out and returned to work on them.

It didn't take long to get it all finished. If you click on the photo to enlarge it, you can see the tiny lime detail in the sashing (Bobbi's idea way back when). When it comes home from the machinist, I'll use that same lime for the binding.

I think it will be a gift for an upcoming wedding (date as yet unannounced).

Before we had to pack up, I got the first two of three borders on Polar Vortex and as soon as I get unpacked and completely resettled, my intent is to get that final border on so Polar Vortex can be finished before another Polar Vortex comes around!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

"The Lansdale Local"?

Why yes, thank you, I do still sew. Every day [almost] this past week, in fact, I've put in time "making tracks."

This is The R5, hinted at in a previous post, inspired by Julie's current WIP.

I think that if you are so inclined, you can click on the photo and make it bigger. I tried that initially, but it took up the whole top of the page, so I settled for this size.

Most of the fabrics are Kaffe/Brandon/Phillip. There are some others, designers unknown, but not many.

It's called The R5 after my dear son-in-law's rant about a name change on the regional rails, he not being anywhere old enough to know that long before the route was known as The R5, it was called The Lansdale Local. But I'm not going to burst his bubble. I'm just going to make the quilt.

To my way of thinking, the large square-in-a-square blocks represent the stations, the small bordered squares are considered the junctions, and the ties and rails speak for themselves. Making the ties took a long time; they were pieced from strata and some strata yielded three sections while one actually provided six. Next up will be putting the rails on the ties and trimming those units to 6-1/4", the size of the stations. The junctions, before bordering, are 2-1/2" inches. Haven't begun to cut the setting triangles yet.

I'm having so much fun with this project. No idea when it will be completed, but for sure there's no way it can come off the wall until it is!

Friday, October 17, 2014

My Time

When I was fifteen years old, my 49-year-old father died very suddenly of a massive heart attack. His father before him had also died suddenly of a heart attack, and for years I believed that he, too, had been forty-nine.

Furthermore, I came to believe that I, as well, would die suddenly at forty-nine.

Living for years with this belief was one of the things that made me different from other people.

Of course all of us know, deep down, that our lives will end someday. But unless we are confronted with a huge loss or near loss, we don't dwell on it. We don't tend to live each day as though it could be our last.

For thirty-four years, I lived an impatient life. I was so often conscious of time ticking away, of feeling as though my supply was on the verge of running out. I was famous for incomplete projects, for sometimes being too slap-dash. "Take your time!" my mother frequently admonished me, having no idea that I wanted to choose which things actually took my time. I wanted to try everything, believing I would not have a second chance. (Of course this led to some very poor choices!)

On the eve of my fiftieth birthday, I sat for a while, alone, taking stock of what I had accomplished, not entirely convinced that I would not die during that night.

The past two-sevenths of my life have been different. Gradually I began to live without that panicky feeling, and to do things with more intentionality. I've learned to take pleasure in "taking my time" to make a dinner menu just right, to begin a quilt that I may not live long enough to complete. This has come about slowly, and there are still times when I lapse back into that "time is too short" desperation feeling.

I've become a different kind of possessive about my time, too. There was a time when I needed to try everything that came along because I might not have another opportunity. In the past six years, I've been more conscious of choosing among things that come along, knowing full well I might not have another opportunity, but confident I have made the right choice for me.

The impetus for this post came during an email with a friend where I was thinking about the complexity of R5, my current quilt-in-progress. It's not my best-written post, and it could use some editing. But it obviously comes from my core, and I'm afraid if I look at it another minute, I'll never post it.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Early Autumn Reading

I need to begin by saying I did not make this wonderful little quiltlet to the left. I found the picture on a tutorial at Don't Call Me Betsy and thought it would be the perfect illustration for a book report post. I think it might be fun to make a little bookshelf quiltlet, but can't imagine when I'd get to it!

Autumn usually sparks an interest in reading books that are somewhat more substantial than "summer reading" or "beach books" (not that I ever sit on the beach and read). This year has not been an exception, and I'd like to share two wonderful reads.

We Are Not Ourselves by Matthew Thomas came to me as an Amazon recommendation. I read the little blurbs about it and promptly put it on the reserve list at the local library. Two or three months later, when we were getting ready for a weekend in Cape May, I was still approximately forty-first on the library list so I went out and bought it. In hardback. I've not regretted it. It's a wonderful novel about Eileen, who grows up with hopes and dreams about a better life for herself and her family. She's achievement oriented, but not in a bad way at all. She falls in love with a man who is easily satisfied, prefers the status quo, and has no grand ambitions. The story is about how they mediate what is important to each, and they honor their "in sickness and in health" vows. I loved this book and was glad I had bought it so I could share it with my sister and my husband.

The Banks of Certain Rivers by Jon Harrison came to me through Bookbub, and I read it on the Kindle. A true page turner, it is the story of Neil, a teacher and coach, whose wife  is in a persistent vegetative state as the result of a tragic accident. Neil raises their son on his own, supports his chronically ill mother-in-law, and eventually moves on to a relationship with another woman. Early in the book while out for a run, he breaks up a fight between students, and this leads to an untenable situation for this nice man. I read this book way too fast because the various plot strands were all compelling and I couldn't wait to find out what would happen next.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

What's Happening Near Philadelphia

Well, when my quilting mojo returned, it returned with a vengeance. After I finished the pink flimsy for the ballet school/breast cancer fund raiser, I pieced two baby flimsies. One is for friends of our second son and his wife; they are expecting a little boy this winter. I'll try to remember to post a photo of that one in my next post. The second one is for someone who sometimes reads this block, so I won't share a photo until after her son is born, also this winter.

There's another project in the works and this one is going to be in the works for ever and a day a long time. I'm nowhere near ready to share any pictures, but it was inspired by Julie's current project and is tentatively called "The R5," after a recent Facebook rant on the part of my dearest son-in-law who took serious exception to the name change of one of the local railroad routes. It's prolly the most ridiculously scrappy , tiny-pieced creation I've ever attempted. It started out, as so many do, as a Leader-Ender, but we all know how that goes. Might be ready to share a progress photo in another week . . . but don't hold your breath!

Birthday Party is a full-fledged flimsy but is too big to photograph easily, so that has to wait.

Joe has long loved a TV mini-series called "Band of Brothers," and I'm currently watching it with him as I put the finishing touches on the Monsters blocks. The Renegades have a retreat coming up very soon, and I'm hoping that assembling the Monsters will be my major effort for that weekend.

In other news, we spent our traditional wonderful family Columbus Day weekend together, this year in Alexandria. The grandchildren are a constant delight, all six of 'em, and I marvel at the deftness with which their collective six parents manage their too-busy lives, always putting those little ones first.

Dear Ms. G's most recent post has to do with recognizing the grace with which our lives are filled, and I so appreciated this reminder. I am blessed in so very many ways . . . .

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

The Whale

The selection for this month's book club reading is The Giver, by Lois Lowry. I finished it yesterday and found it to be a highly discussable, good read.

Perhaps it is because of this book, much of which has to do with how important memories are, this morning an ancient memory came back to me and I thought I'd write it down rather than chance forgetting it for ever.

My father's occupation provided our household with what seemed to be a never-ending supply of legal-size paper, plain white on one side, with typewritten lot descriptions (he was a title examiner) on the other. This was long before copying machines, and he also taught me about carbon paper, but that's not part of this memory. This vast supply of paper was probably of interest only to me. "Can I have some coloring paper, Daddy?" I'd ask, and the drawer would open. Sometimes I would ask him what I should draw.

One day he said, "There's a line from a song: 'From the jail came the wail of a down-hearted frail.' Why don't you draw that?" I didn't know what a "frail" was, so I asked, and he told me, "Oh, that's another word for a woman."

So off I went to draw, and because I hadn't read the words, but just heard them, my picture of a skinny, standing woman sharing a barred cell with a great big fish was quite a hit! Google Images doesn't have such a picture, but it doesn't matter, because I can still see that drawing in my memory.

Friday, October 03, 2014

The Sew Must Go On!

The leg situation (see previous posts) continues. There is improvement, not as much or as quickly as I'd like, but improvement. I've never been known for being a patient person.

There's been a discrepancy between my head and my body: My head (and heart) want to sew sew sew but the pressure of the chair edge on the underside of the knee limits my endurance. I am so eager that I can almost taste it to unpack the Go! and GO, but that is going to have to wait. And before the Go! arrived, I had bought a pattern (something I don't often do) for a new project and a two sets of templates after reading a post that Nicole had put up (link goes to Nicole in general, not the specific post) about her experience with templates. I never got to try any of these new toys before the knee erupted.

So I'm really, really happy to post this picture today. My granddaughter's ballet school owner holds a tea party each spring to benefit breast cancer research. She thought she would like to have a pink quilt for a little girl this year among the goodies on her massive tombola table. You know how I hate to be doing something at the last minute, so I'm delighted to have this top finished and ready to go to the machinist next month. I'll have plenty of time in the cold, cold months ahead to do the binding. And hum selections from Swan Lake.