Wednesday, November 26, 2014

First Snow Day of the Season

My new boss at the school is a very, very wise woman. Yesterday at 10:00 she declared a snow day for today. Some of us didn't even believe it would snow (we were expecting rain) but we surely didn't argue.

I picked up four quilts from the machinist more than a week ago and in their tote bags they sat. Until this morning. Blessed with a snow day and having done the food shopping last night (thanks be to Joe) as well as some of the baking, I knew what this day must hold.

Four hours later: Four quilts with binding cut, pieced, machined on and trimmed. Plus one aching back. Satisfied. Ready for a nap.

We're double-dipping for Thanksgiving this year. Our entire clan is dining at our home on Friday (each family contributing something important) and a dear relative has made room for six more (Tom and tribe) at her place on Thursday. I'm making a banana cream pie (a first for me) to take. But not until after that nap.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Five Blocks [and a Plain Brown Envelope]

So, here's what's on my wall at present. Five blocks. And a plain brown envelope.

The first block is one I made because I felt some yellow coming on. I cut a bunch of HSTs, made the first block, and then the yellow fever cooled. I don't know if I'll make more. Or not.

The two spiderweb blocks are bee blocks for Pat for December. Pat's been through a rough couple of days, garbagedisposalwise (and perhaps the less said the better here, because we've all been there at one time or another, haven't we?) so I thought these might brighten her mood. If you look at them up close, you'll see that the white shapes are actually regular but the light color of some of the strings makes them look gimpy. Or something.

Then there are two blocks that dear Cathy L made for me and sent in the mail because she couldn't be at the guild meeting. I like them an awful lot and know they are eager to meet up with their mates.

Then there's the plain brown envelope. Which I should have taken down before taking the picture.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Photos from City Quilter Visit

Thank you for your patient waiting for me to upload these photos that I took at City Quilter on Friday. They have one room that is a gallery and there were gorgeous quilts on display. We were encouraged to take pictures, so I did. I regret that I did not write down the name of the artist. I thought the work was beautiful.


Then there is this photo that was taken in one of the other areas and is not part of the artist's exhibit. It is a terrific tote bag; the pattern was for sale there, but I didn't purchase it nor did I note the name. Yes, they are buttons.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!

I slept well last night.

Because I was tired, oh so tired, and happy, yes, oh so happy.

I'd had a wonderful day.

Himself drove me to Trenton in the early hours, and there I caught the express to New York City (yes, I'm such a rube that I call it by its full name). I got to town earlier than anticipated, before my first destination would even open (at eleven o'clock), so I took my time walking there, despite the cold and considerable wind. I took a couple of pictures of personal landmarks my older son would remember from the years he lived there, and sent them to him. Then I arrived at City Quilter, where I prowled around for quite a while.

There's this stereotype about NYC people being brusque and impatient and unhelpful and, friends, I tell you I did not meet one of those people yesterday.

The City Quilter people were so friendly and helpful, even urging me to take photographs (perhaps to be published later). I bought a book, some black on white FQs (my current craze) and FQs from two Australian lines. There was an exhibit of gorgeous quilts and I photographed them (don't be so impatient!).

My next stop was Papyrus where I picked up some surprise add-on Christmas gifts. Then I was off for the reason for my visit. I was lunching with a long-time virtual friend before she moves to another continent.

Neither of us could remember how we initially "met." Our lives are vastly different, yet in the important ways, so similar. No, she's not a quilter [yet] but she's mad about William Morris, knows how important raising her children is, struggles with issues of meaning and relationship and purpose, is a better writer than I am, equally good story-teller and listener, and oh so much more. We'd read each other's blogs, Friended each other, and sent Christmas cards and a handful of emails over the six or so years since connecting. Getting together was like reconnecting with an old, dear friend I'd lost track of.

After lunch she graciously accompanied me to my other destinations, sharing stories and thoughts as we trekked to Marimekko where I picked up a coffee mug (which I deemed a peculiar purchase at my age but bought it nonetheless). I was determined to get to Gudrun Sjoden and she joyfully accompanied me to a place she'd never been, where each of us bought wonderful, colorful apparel in gorgeous cloth bags. Purl Soho, I'd learned was really just around the corner, so of course I had to put in an appearance. We ogled and fondled the Liberties and then went on our way; it was perhaps a good thing I'd already spent so much money -- otherwise I might well have succumbed to a beckoning dear little bundle of F8s for $55!

My chauffeur met me once again in Trenton and even sprang for Jules Thin Crust on the way home; with nearly 11,000 steps on the Fitbit, I retired early and, as mentioned, slept well and dreamed beautiful dreams.

Friday, November 21, 2014

My Bounty

The guild has formed two bee groups this year. There are twelve participants in each group. Each month someone is queen bee and she gets to request her bee-mates to make a particular block for her. Actually, we make two blocks for the queen. I think it is going to be fun because it will stretch me to use fabrics and techniques I wouldn't normally choose. Elizabeth was up for October and then she moved away and is participating by mail.

So November was my month and what I asked for was churn dash; the focus would be red, yellow, or orange and the background would be black on white. The second block would have the reverse specifications.

Just look at the wonderful blocks I received!

And no sooner had I taken the picture and pulled the blocks down than the postman came, delivering a small package from Elizabeth with her two blocks.

One or two other participants were absent at November's meeting; I imagine they will bring their blocks in December.

Such a bright and happy quilt this will be!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

All Aboard!

It all started when Julie wrote a post about an antique quilt she had seen and had been inspired to make her own version. She shared a picture of the original and immediately I became smitten. I started a leader-ender project and -- as so often is the case -- it demanded to become a main project.

Julie had called the lattice "tracks" and that seemed a good name to me. And right around that time, my dear son-in-law posted a Facebook rant on the unlikely subject of a name change for a regional rail route. It seems that the R5 is no longer to be called the R5 but rather the Doylestown Local. He was quite distressed about this, and I hastened to point out that many, many years ago -- long before the routes were numbered (R2 went to Warminster and R5 went to Paoli and Doylestown) -- that very route had been always known as the Doylestown Local.

And I continued to make ties and apply rails and construct junctions and create stations and knew this  quilt would be the R5.

I'm so pleased with it. The fabrics are about 95% Kaffe Collective with just one or two others included. The solids are Kaffe's Shot Cottons.

All aboard the R5 . . . or the Doylestown Local if you prefer.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014


Y'know, we have those times when everything sucks. When nothing seems to be going right. And when those times come along, I, for one, am prone to whine.

Flip side: Right now I am very well aware of how right everything seems to be going, and I'm reveling in it.

  • Our long weekend in Cape May was magical with just the right mix of socializing, shopping, relaxing, and just being.
  • Day One and Day Two at my new job have been spectacular! There is plenty to do, and the atmosphere is so positive and upbeat. The hours fly by. And I feel like I'm part of something really important -- I look at these autistic kids and how little some of them have to work with, and yet they work so hard. Little Gina (referenced in previous posts) has grown by leaps and bounds; today she actually asked if she could use my computer. When I first met her, she could never have done that.
  • Last night at the guild meeting, I was queen bee for the bee blocks and my bee-mates were so generous and clever. I have a huge batch of gorgeous blocks and I promise to post a picture as soon as the design wall is clear which brings me to
  • The R5 is in the final stages of becoming a flimsy! One of the quilting tasks I find most odious is assembling on-point sets with lattice. I always get scrambled and don't put those triangles on at the right time and end up doing a lot of ripping out. This time I am working very slowly and it is all going together beautifully. Again, a picture as soon as it is finished.
  • My Christmas shopping is just about finished, leaving me a whole month for the hand-made gifts.
  • Yesterday I had a play date with a couple of quilting buddies, and as a result of that play date (and the shopping involved!) and seeing the bee blocks for the other group in the guild, I think I know what my next project is going to be.
  • Supporters for the sewing machines for India project continue to show up -- beyond anything I ever dreamed.
  • Finally, I picked up four quilts from the machinist and left her two more, so for the foreseeable future, I won't be at a loss for hand work once I get those bindings machined on.
She's said it a million times, and I've echoed her many, but never more so than today: Life is good!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Catching Up

In my last post, I told of a young friend who has traveled to India to make a difference in the lives of a group of oppressed women. She wrote in her blog that twenty sewing machines ($65) each were needed for her students so that they would have a way to make an income, my spirit was moved to help. $65 means a real difference for an Indian woman, and I happily offered to provide one. Moreover, I asked my Circle sisters if we could use Circle funds to provide another. And I blogged about it.

Friends, my Circle sisters and my blog readers responded in spades. Within twenty-four hours I had received promises of more than two dozen sewing machines -- enough to cover my friend's students and to begin an inventory for the next class. I was astonished, though I shouldn't have been. Circle sisters and blog readers can be overwhelmingly generous. On behalf of my young friend, thank you so much. If you are one who promised a sewing machine and have not received the details on how to do this, please email me.

In other news, I finished my job at The Little Church on Thursday. We left that afternoon for three days and nights at our favorite decompression spot: Cape May, New Jersey. We relaxed, ate, enjoyed the company of two pair of old friends, walked, read, napped, shopped; Joe brought along his easel and watercolors and painted for quite a while. I am about three items from being totally finished with my Christmas shopping, and finished an entire novel that was pretty good but not great. It was a perfect time of transition.

Before we went away, I worked on my SSCS gift and it needs only another hour of work and it will be ready to pop in the mail. Then I can get back to the R5 which has been waiting patiently on the wall. Christmas is a time that I like to make aprons, and I can think of two possible recipients this year, so I just might start one this week. Tomorrow I have a play date with a girlfriend, and then on Tuesday I start my new job.

Life is very, very good these days.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Making a Future, In India

There's this young woman I know; I'm going to call her Linda, but that isn't her real name. I've known her since she was a tiny little thing, when her family joined our church, and it has been delightful watching Linda and her siblings grow up. Her mom is a free spirit who has had a harder life than many, but that doesn't seem to get in her way. She's the kind of friend I can ask if I'm too old to wear jeggings and trust her for a truthful answer. (I'm not.)

Anyway, back to Linda, who graduated college recently with a degree in business and is the kind of terrific kid who landed a good job and did well at it. But over the summer I began to hear that Linda was heading to India. India! I was astonished. Seems she has read a great deal about the oppression women face in that country and was determined to do something about it. Linda did her research and determined that the Sambhali Trust was the organization that matched her ideals and a month or so ago she went off, all by herself, to India where she knew no one, but was determined to make a difference.

I've been reading the reports she's been sending home and am excited at how she is settling in, making friends with other volunteers, diligently working at her assigned tasks. She is determined to make a difference in the lives of some Indian women.

This morning she wrote "Currently, about 40 women in the empowerment centers are in need of sewing machines. After the women complete their sewing class, they are to receive sewing machines to bring home, so that they can begin to save money and earn a sustainable income. They would be using their new skills to make clothes for their family in addition to making clothes to sell. Each sewing machines costs about 3900 rupees (about $65) and right now, we need 40 of them. As a grassroots organization, Sambhali needs to fundraise to support any new project. Right now, we are developing a fundraising campaign to secure that funding. " She went on to say that half of the needed sewing machines had been procured.

Friends, what could I do? You know what a difference having a sewing machine has made in my own life; I could only imagine what one would mean for one of these women. I wrote to my Circle sisters from church, telling them what Linda had written and that I was in for $65 to buy one sewing machine and wondered if we could take that amount from Circle outreach funds to purchase a second one.

It's been a couple of hours since I wrote. As of now six women from the Circle are each funding one sewing machine and in all likelihood we'll manage another one or two.

Sometimes we make a direct difference. This time we are empowering one wonderful young woman to empower 40 of her new sisters in India.

Saturday, November 08, 2014

Quilt Along: A Different Take

Lori is running another one of her quilt alongs and this time it is a mystery. I'm not big on mysteries -- the kind where you buy yards and yards of expensive fabric with no idea of what the finished project will look like and whether, in fact, your fabric choices are of the right values, etc. -- but Lori's mystery uses scraps, and, by gum, I've got a bunch. The finished project is a doll-size quilt. And I've got personnel who have dolls.

Thing is, though, Lori is a Civil War person and her project, if you've followed the link above (and I hope you have), is made from all kinds of CW scraps. I, on the other hand (when the first hand has not been mentioned), am in the process of phasing out my CW phase and currently have an abundance of Kaffe Collective scraps. So that's what I'm going with. Who knows how it will turn out!

Lori is a kind and generous person, and, in fact, a really good hugger (I know from experience). She didn't mind when I used purple where she used brown in a previous QA. But, all of those fine characteristics notwithstanding, I'm hoping I'm not the first person in history to be thrown out of a quilt along!

Monday, November 03, 2014

A Change in the Wind, Part Three (Long)

All at once, everything seemed better. I believed I was close to receiving a job offer in the field I'd studied, working with sensitive people in a gorgeous setting. It appeared that my lonely days at The Little Church would be coming to an end in the best possible way.

I had pretty much decided that I would accept any reasonable offer that the continuing care community would make. If for some reason no offer was forthcoming, I was going to leave The Little Church in December.

And then.

A monkey wrench appeared.

A Monkey Wrench of the most surprising kind.

In the form of contact from the director of the autistic school. It seemed that they were thriving and busy beyond belief at their new location. Would I want to come and talk with them about possibly coming to work part-time in the office?

I went off to Black Rock a bundle of nerves. My knee was acting up and I knew I was on the verge of an irreversible decision of tremendous importance. I spent more time than usual alone on our retreat, pondering the possibilities, confiding in my closest friends. They were terrific listeners, never trying to sway me in one direction or the other, just assuring me that they knew I would make the right decision.

The day after returning, there were two important telephone conversations. One was setting up the meeting with the residents at the continuing care community. The other was scheduling a visit to the autistic school. But my head and my heart were in a good place. The uncertainty that had permeated the weekend was gone.

The travel time to one location was greater than the other, and it would involve unpleasant driving in the snowy season. Yet the salary potential and flexibility seemed to be greater at that location. These were issues, to be sure, but my decision finally came down to three things:

1. In my work at the hospital, I deal with loss all of the time. It is acute loss; I meet with the patient or the family one or two times. If I have a lot of loss events during a shift, I come home exhausted. My close friends are of an age where they have also begun to deal with issues of loss. At the continuing care community, I would be dealing with chronic loss, meeting with people repeatedly as they faced loss. At the school I would be in an atmosphere of achievement, success, progress (however limited).

2. At the hospital (and at The Little Church), I am alone. At the hospital it is me and a patient or me and a family. I do not work with other people. At the CCC I would interact from time to time with members of the admin team; most of the time, I would be working alone with a resident. At the school I would be working with a fifteen or twenty adults and fifteen or twenty very lively kids.

3. At the CCC,  I would be working with people my age or older all of the time. People facing various losses and downward transitions. At the school I would be with people of a variety of ages, people getting married, having babies. Students getting older and new, young students coming in. There would be the milestone markers and celebrations that are part of each school year.

Confident that I had thought things through very carefully and reached a good conclusion, I met with the autistic school team and was happy to accept, on the spot, their offer of a very part-time office manager position, to begin in the middle of the month.

Sunday, November 02, 2014

A Package from Burma!

A young friend from church is married to a man in the foreign service; they and their three lovely little daughters are finishing up a two-year stint in Myanmar, their first posting. Myanmar used to be called Burma, and I still think that is the better name. Jen is a quilter and when I started posting pictures from my [ongoing] Tula Pink phase, she started oohing and aahing, and I thought the right thing to do was buy a copy of the book and send it to her. Which I did. She had written about the lovely fabrics in Burma, and yesterday I received a FB message from her mom that a package from Burma had come to their house and it had my name on it. Could we meet before church? We could.

These are Kachin fabrics from Burma, lightweight, exquisite cottons that come in 2-yard or 3-yard pieces. Please enlarge the photo and see the beautiful weave of the green fabric. I left the tags on prominently because they are interesting, too. Such a welcome surprise! And she's threatening to give me some of her scraps when she returns for a short stateside stay this winter before their next posting -- in India!

Yesterday I made tracks most of the day. The R5 is taking shape, and although it is taking a while to do, I don't really feel this is moving slowly. There are a lot of little pieces, and a lot of units to assemble. Finally, of course, will come the setting triangles and the foolhardy process of trying to remember whether to add them before or after stitching the lattice to the blocks . . . .  This project began as a L-E and to some extent, it still is. I have strips for "rails" pinned to each set of "ties," and am kind of assembling those sections of track as  L-E while I sew completed rows together. As they say, "It's complicated." But I'm loving it, and so does Himself, who was quite dubious when we left the station . . . .

You can see some sections of ties with their pinned rails in this picture. But that's not what this photo is about, really.

At Guild last month we were each given the cutest darn jelly roll, hand produced and assembled by one of our members (who, as far as I know doesn't blog, which is a pity because she'd likely produce a mighty fine blog) and we were given the assignment of making "modern log-cabin type blocks" that would finish at 6" using those fabrics and fabrics we would add that matched the colors.

I grabbed trusty old Tula, and cut three blocks that I Leader-Endered along with the track and then made up one of my own. There's enough fabric left for prolly one more, and I'll be getting to that later today.

Saturday, November 01, 2014

Change in the Wind, Part Two

Many years ago, I participated in a Clinical Pastoral Education group where almost everyone seemed to be certifiably nuts. There was another Nancy in the group; we had only two things in common: our first names and our sanity. Other than that, we couldn't have been more different. We survived the year and remained on Christmas card terms, connecting for dinner every couple of years.

She became ordained and served a congregation in the poverty belt for a good many years; she was kind enough to serve as a reference for me when I applied for my position as a hospital chaplain. Then she moved upward through the ranks of her denomination and I took her out to lunch in celebration. We still didn't have more in common than our name and our sanity, but we still had those, and that was enough. I mentioned my frustration with my position at The Little Church and she listened like a good pastor would.

A couple of weeks ago a message appeared in my inbox. Nancy was writing to tell me that a continuing care community Not Terribly Far From Philadelphia was looking to establish a care-giving position for residents in transition or experiencing loss. She thought I might want to learn more; the position and I seemed, to her, like a perfect fit.

A meeting with the admin team was wonderful. The community is beautiful, the residents are people of privilege, the administrators are deeply caring people. As we spoke about the position they want to establish, it was as though we all had the same job description on paper in front of us, except there was no job description at all. We worked together imagining possibilities. The position would be a sort of low-key pastoral care position, working with residents who had been widowed, who had lost friends, who were losing their independence. It would mostly involve listening, supporting, and exploring options. We spoke enthusiastically, finishing each others' sentences, referring to the position as "The Listener." It was easy to envision myself in this beautiful setting, working hand-in-hand with these lovely people, helping residents get through their hard times. Again, it seemed a perfect fit.

Enthusiastically, we moved on to the next step: scheduling a meeting with a group of residents.