Thursday, January 30, 2014

Shadows

The other night I had a dream that I was holding a book called Searching for a Better Shadow. I don't know what that means, but I sure don't want to lose it. Sometimes my dreams amaze me.

A sweet friend from seminary who has outlived many other people with cystic fibrosis has resigned her call to the congregation she has served for sixteen years.

The school for autistic children that uses the church building during the week is going to move. They need a bigger space.

I don't know why I put these things together. But now that I have, it seems right.



Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Bloglovin -- My Way

Thanks, friends, for tolerating my recent rant on the State of the Blogosphere. I appreciated your support and your comments.

It wasn't my intent to consider giving up my blog. That wasn't the thing. It was about how Bloglovin's feed had kind of taken over my time like kudzu.

It was just too easy to add and add and add blogs to the feed. And then when I'd check in to the feed, I'd be daunted by the presence of 60 or more new entries waiting for me to read. And here's something else: I sheepishly admit that I was missing my own blog as my home page where I went to start each day and then to venture out to the updated blogs listed in the sidebar. Another factor in the equation was that people have told me that they miss my blog list.

So here's what I've decided to do: I'm keeping Bloglovin as a feeder-reader and over the next week or so, as a blog updates, I'll decide whether this is one I need to keep in the feed, to delete from the feed, or move to my blog. Yep, I've reconfigured my lists of the blogs that I really have to get to as soon as they are updated. So far, there's a group of writers, the same ones that used to be there Before Bloglovin. Then there's a group of Some Wonderful Quilt Blogs -- they are the ones that I like the best: Pretty blogs with nice pictures, where the bloggers talk about their lives and their thoughts as well as their quilts, where there is only the occasional promoting of a product, and infrequent participation in blog and book tours. There is a small category of commercial-type blogs. And that's it, so far. There might be more as I continue to purge the feed. I'll still read a lot of quilt blogs through Bloglovin, the ones that I feel like I can take my time getting to.

Big sigh of relief! And now back to the weeding . . . .

Monday, January 27, 2014

Scrambled Thoughts

I was pretty excited last summer when I discovered Bloglovin. I'd not used a reader prior to that, so I wasn't one of the grievers at the loss of Google Reader. Now I'm not as smitten, and actually am not sure I'm going to stay with Bloglovin.

I always used to have my favorite blogs listed in the side bar and arranged so that recently updated blogs would be at the tops of their columns. I liked having everything there in the one place. But my lists of blogs were growing and growing and soon that area was very, very full. Bloglovin seemed to be the right step.

I'm going to stop trying to write coherently and in an organized fashion now, and just list some of the thoughts I'm having:

  • Since going with Bloglovin, I've added many, many, many more blogs to my stable. It didn't seem as messy to have a private list as it did to have it all on my side bar. It was just so easy to add and add and add . . . .
  • When I check into Bloglovin, it isn't unusual to find I've got 60 blogs updated and waiting for me to read.
  • I'm spending a lot more time reading blogs.
  • Some of those multitudinous added blogs really need to be weeded out, and I don't know why I don't get around to doing that.
  • I get peeved when they throw in an advertisement "blog."
  • I'm so tired of book tours.
  • I don't really want to have someone telling me each week about new lines of fabric and where I can buy them. 
  • I'm [fill in some word or another; I can't pinpoint the one I want] of blogs that have lots and lots of give-aways -- all provided by a vendor rather than the blogger herself.
A long-time favorite blogger has stopped blogging. I emailed her to see if she was okay. She replied that she was okay, that she had been spending too much time on the computer, and that the world of blogging had changed.

She's right. It has changed. I recognize that some folks blog as part of how they earn their living. And I know that some blogs are -- IMNSHO -- "blogs" because they are underwritten by fabric manufacturers. Some are so loaded with sponsors that I don't feel I know the writer at all.

The best blogs, to me, are the ones that perhaps have some quilting in them, but that's not all they have. They have bits and pieces of the blogger's life, her family, her thoughts, her frustrations, her theology, her amusements. She might provide an occasional give-away -- out of the goodness of her heart, not because some author has asked her to review a book (like how objective would the review be, anyway?) and then give away a copy. She might ask opinions on a quilt lay-out. She might share a new tool that she discovered on her own and suddenly wonders how she ever lived without it. She's a real person who wants to be known as a real person and who is even interested in knowing her readers as real people.

Here are some examples of some blogs that are -- again, in my opinion -- among the best ones out there. There's this one, and this one, and this one, just to pick three. 

I'm thinking about that former blogger. I almost felt as though I knew her and hoped to meet up with her at a show sometime. She wrote a lovely blog. She was inspired by antique quilts, and I miss her.

This wasn't intended to be a rant, or a moo, or anything but just setting down some scrambled thoughts in the hope of coming to some clarity. Comments most welcome!!




Sunday, January 26, 2014

The Hope of Spring . . . Covered

Once or twice a year, my friend Lori runs a quilt-along on her blog. It is usually for a mini quilt and her directions are very, very clear. It's almost as if she was there beside you, patting your hand as you go along. I always want to participate. I did make one of her projects pretty much on schedule, and it is a topper for my nightstand.

Last year she did another quilt-along and I got as far as getting the block pieced and stuck it on the design wall and there it stayed. For a long time. I sat out the next quilt-along and regretted it when I saw the pretty things others made. She's just started a new one and I want to participate. But that other little project was still on the design wall. Over the past week I marked it, hand-quilted it, and bound it and now it will be a topper for a nightstand in the guest room. 

Here's a link to Lori's current quilt-along. It's called MidWinter Blues and it is very, very pretty. I'm going to cut fabric today and get started. But no MidWinter Blues for me. 

There's a song from the old Dr. Zhivago movie, "Somewhere My Love," and there's a line that says "although the snow covers the hope of spring." That's kind of where I am right now -- not in the midwinter blues but honestly knowing that deep down under all that snow is the hope of spring. My little project will be pink and green. And I know Lori will be just fine with that.



Friday, January 24, 2014

It's a Long Story . . . Part Five (Perhaps the Penultimate Part!)


Two months ago I wrote a series of blog posts, "It's a Long Story." The first one is here, and there are four consecutive parts.

At this point, I have completed the five "shadow shifts" that my nurse manager wanted me to do, and have worked two twenty-four hour shifts solo. I love being a hospital chaplain. I absolutely love it.

My earliest training with Sister Angela has served me well (as have my four units of CPE and even my HELP Line training way back when we were childless and lived in Ohio). I often think of the things that Angela taught our little group of five new volunteers, things like "wear bright colors," and "never try to make it better." She also told us that if we had things weighing on us when we came in to work at the hospital, we should find one of the other chaplains and talk first before going up to the floor.

I've had a longing to reconnect with this mentor, to let her know what has finally become of me, and to try to tell her what an important role she played in my life and in my development. I started searching for her a few weeks ago and kept running into dead ends. Finally, last week, I was provided an email address. I sent an email saying I'd been thinking of her and would like to get together. She wrote back the very next day! She is retired and lives about an hour from where I live. We're scheduled to get together at the end of next month. I can't wait!



Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Polar Vortex?

As far as the weather Near Philadelphia goes these days, the less said the better. I'm home from work today (went in yesterday for just a couple of hours) due to the white stuff, and plan to spend much of the day with Bernina.

I'd shown a block in my last post; how there are nearly a dozen of them made from that bouquet of Fat Quarters from so long ago. I am planning on 35 blocks; since they finish at ten inches, it will take that many to make a quilt of useful size. The colors and the designs are on the quiet side, kind of like the falling snow. But the block pattern itself (whatever it is named) has some important movement to it. Some years down the road, I might remember that I called the quilt Polar Vortex, but prolly will have no idea why.


Friday, January 17, 2014

The First Block

I haven't made a Resolution and I haven't taken a Solemn Vow, but I've decided it is time to finish up some of the vast myriad of odds and ends that are here and there down in my studio. My thought is that it would be a good idea not to buy any fabric until the retreat at the end of April, but instead to work with what I have and if I should somehow manage to finish everything that is in progress or in plan, then I'll work from Scraps. Then, when retreat comes, I'll have enhanced joy in buying new fabric after so long.

So far, so good. I dug out those platypuses and finished that top. I went into my great big basket of Bill and pieced all of the blocks for a queen quilt (assembly of which will be my first retreat project). Then I hesitantly opened a pack of fat quarters that I've had since 2000 when we first went to Hyannis and Bonnie told me to be sure to check out a "really great quilt shop" there. Heartbeat Quilts (which has since closed its brick and mortar store but I believe will continue on lie) turned out to be as great as Bonnie'd said and while I was there I bought a few things including one of my first packs of fat quarters. The fabrics come from at least three different lines/ manufacturers; it is impossible to tell precisely because of the lack of selvedges. All these years; I still don't know why I couldn't bring myself to break into them earlier!

But, once again, I saw a picture on the internet and liked it and figured out how to make the block. I don't know what the block's name is; I don't even care. I just like it. And it's a good thing, because there are ultimately going to be at least a dozen of 'em.

Don't you just love that feeling that comes when you finish the first block of a new project?

I do.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Bill's Bounty -- Blocks!



Well, you know, I had seen this picture, this picture that I don't have in a form that I can share it with you, and I had thought that the quilt in the picture was just the thing for my immense stash of William Morris fabrics. So the other day I looked hard at the picture and decided the long units were 12x6 finished and the small units were 6x6 finished and there were two kinds of small units and one kind of large unit and I would need a bunch of 3x6 units for the ends of the rows. I calculated that with five long units to a row, I would need fifteen rows for a queen quilt and then I multiplied the number of strips and squares I would need to cut and then I started doing it. I cut and I stitched and I pressed and I piled. It wasn't hard work. It is the kind of mindless work that would be great to do on a retreat or a group sewing day. I was liking it.

Tonight I finished the last of the small units! And here they are, all stacked up! And now I'm going to put them away until our retreat in April where I'll have ample space to lay out a queen quilt and see how I want the blocks. I'll have eleven additional pair of eyes to help with that.

Oddly, all of this work, enough blocks for a queen-size quilt, didn't empty that Basket of Bill. I really do have a very serious case.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Perspective

I'm really handling the hit-and-run driver thing remarkably well. Even Himself has commented on it. My deductible is $500 plus 20% of the rental car. Joe observed this morning that "it's as if someone stole five hundred dollars from us."

Yup.

And I'm calm. Much more than anyone who knows me would expect.

My counterpart at a church in the next town has a complicated neurological disorder that causes tremors and, I believe, speech hesitancy. Medications had unpleasant side effects and the solution  to the condition was the implantation of some sort of an electronic device in her brain. A month or so ago she became ill; it has been determined that the implant is infected. She is going to have to go into the hospital to have it removed and when she does that, the disorder will be right back, raring to go. A month of intravenous antibiotics will follow and then I'm not sure what before she can go back in hospital to have a replacement device implanted.

My good friend has some sort of an eye problem that has gone on for months and months; when it is at its peak, she has to wear dark glasses to get some relief from the discomfort it causes. It is a chronic condition, and finally a few weeks ago some topical drops were tried and afforded her some measure of relief. She was so happy. But when she went to refill the prescription, suddenly the medicine is unavailable. Anywhere. How absolutely frustrating!

And another dear friend's husband's cancer returned with a vengeance a couple of months ago. In mid-December they were told to contact hospice. He died yesterday.

I'll take a hit-and-run car accident with a $500 deductible over any of these.


Friday, January 10, 2014

Ah, Bill . . . .

We first met back in the early nineties, soon after I got on the internet. I was browsing around and somehow ended up in a fabric shop somewhere in Florida where they were featuring the most gorgeous fabric I'd ever seen. It was Rose and Hubble's William Morris designs. That very night I made my first internet purchase.

Over the years others have produced William Morris fabrics, most recently Barbara Brackman for Moda, who has done some magnificent interpretations.

There is an entire clothes basket full of William Morris fabrics, even though I've made several quilts from the stash. I have more of this fabric than anyone should have the right to.

Last week I saw a photo of a quilt that was made from Kaffe/Mabley/etc. fabrics, all mixed together in an organized fashion, strata alternating with mostly nine-patches. I knew immediately that while it was stunning in the Rowan fabrics, the design was absolutely perfect for my Morris mish-mash. Today I pulled, pressed, cut, and stitched, and loved every minute of it. I made a dozen or more units. Now what I need to do is get out my graph paper and see how many of each I'm going to need. Last night I was thinking of a lap/nap quilt and today that had morphed into a queen quilt for our bed. Stay tuned. Please.

Oh, Marsha, I'm going to be sleeping with Bill!

Thursday, January 09, 2014

The Platypus Surprise!

Isn't that a great title for a blog post? The Platypus Surprise! I bet those three words have never appeared together at any time in history until now!

I had bought the fabric a good ten years ago and then it sat around for a couple more years because as much as I liked it, I had no idea what to do with it. Then inspiration finally did strike, and I worked on it for a while and put it away and then repeated those stages a couple of times and it has been a couple of years now since I last looked at it.

Lo! And behold! All of the blocks were finished! All of the blocks were sewn together! All that it lacked was border and the long strip of fabric for that was right there! So I got everything pressed, and divided the long strip into fourths (one for each side of the top) and measured and cut and stitched and -- viola! -- the First Flimsy of Ought Fourteen!

I'm thinking you can prolly click on the photo to enlarge it if you want to see the platypuses in their resplendent gold-flecked glory (oh, go on, you know you want to!).

So I'm going to go ahead and make the binding and then put this back in the box until a very specific kind of gift is needed. And then the platypuses will go to their rightful home . . . .


Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Car Story

Well, friends, today certainly didn't go as planned.

I'd been thinking it was time to replace my beloved car since it is eleven years old and beginning to show its age. I wanted a preowned vehicle, so I looked at the website for the dealer I wanted to patronize and found what looked like the right car for me listed for $23,995. I did my homework, worked out the Blue Book value for that car and for my present car and had settled on what I was willing to pay for the new one.

I drove 40 minutes to the dealership and went into the show room. A salesman welcomed me and when I told him I had come to see that particular car, he told me, "Oh, that has been sold." I pointed out that I had seen it on the website this morning. He was evasive and said he had another vehicle that might interest me. He spent some time looking around for the key and we headed out to the lot where he showed me a very cute, very spiffy vehicle in gorgeous condition listed at $31,000. When he wanted me to get inside, I told him that I wasn't going to get into a car that was that expensive. He said he could do better on the price and I said I doubted he could get down to $7000 as an opening bicker point. And that was that. He didn't offer to show me anything in the $24,000 price range but pressed me for my phone number and email, which I declined. He said, "I'd be MORE than happy to contact you if another car like that comes in." I said, "I'm sure you would, but no." He then went on to say that I was angry with the dealership. I told him that I wasn't angry, but I was certainly disappointed and felt misled -- I'd taken 1-1/2 hours out of my day to go look at a car that had been advertised but wasn't for sale, and when I'd left home, I thought I'd be driving a new-to-me car home. I had the clear, unpleasant feeling, that someone who wasn't interested in a $31,000 vehicle wasn't worth his time or he would have offered to show me something in my price range.

Another car will come along, I'm sure, and there is no urgency. And I have his card, so I'll be certain to see a different salesman if I go back there.

But here's the really strange thing: I went to a meeting tonight. When I came back to the car after the meeting, someone had hit it knocking the fender loose, part of the undercarriage hanging down, and one of the lights bulging out and hanging by a thread. No note, of course.

I'm aggravated that I'm going to have to call the insurance company, utilize our collision insurance, make arrangements with the repair shop, and leave it for a couple of days. A hassle.

But what if I HAD driven that new-to-me car home and to that meeting? Ye gods  . . . .


Tuesday, January 07, 2014

SSCS Report for 2013



This year I participated in Chooky Blue's International SSCS (Secret Santa Claus Swap) again. I don't know whether it was the 7th or 8th annual event, but I do know that I've been a participant since the very first year.

Usually I send to and receive from someone in Australia and this year was no exception.

Kate had my name and she made me this absolutely delightful Christmas stitchery hanging, complete with sleeve. Please click to enlarge it; you won't want to miss how darling it is and how careful Kate's stitching is!

In addition to the main gift, participants also send an ornament, preferably one that is hand-made. Kate sent two small flocks of tiny birds. They flew in too late for this year's tree, but will be perfect for the tabletop tree that we'll have next Christmas.

I drew Cheryll's name this year and sent her a tote bag that I made for her; there are nine bricks in a row made out of Kaffe fabrics.

Cheryll runs a lovely charity called "Blankets of Love," which provides wee quilts for stillborn babies or babies who die shortly after birth. When I read about this, I knew that in addition to her main gift, I needed to make a Blanket of Love to send to Cheryll with her tote bag and the tree ornament that I had stitched for her.





Monday, January 06, 2014

What It Is Like

It is wonderful. Being a hospital chaplain, that is.

My work began in the middle of December when I was asked to find five dates when I could work from 2 until 10 p.m., shadowing an experienced chaplain, and learning the particularities of the hospital. Finding 40 hours in the last two weeks of December was a challenge, but we managed. The men that I worked with were patient and kind (well, what would you expect?) and taught me well. 

I wasn't concerned about the work that I would be doing; I'd done that before and felt competent. My biggest worry, as it happened, was one that would take care of itself: Finding my way around the humongous, state-of-the-art emergency trauma center! There appeared to be no logic whatsoever as to how it was laid out. I was just going to have to go there and do it and look for patterns and clues.

My mentors believed me to be ready, and very recently I worked my first solo shift from 3 p.m. on one day until 3 p.m. the next day. There is an on-call room and it is anticipated that eight hours of the shift will be sleep hours, though it is not anticipated that those eight hours would be consecutive!

The hospital chaplain has a variety of visit types and there is plenty of time spent doing documentation and reporting. On this first shift I did all of these different things:
  • Responded to one Level I and three Level II traumas. This must be done with all due speed and my role is to work with whoever I can to identify next-of-kin for the trauma patient, and then to contact that individual and ask him to come to the hospital. Sometimes the family member has come in with the patient; other times the family is contacted by the nursing home sending the patient; and sometimes I need to prowl through the patient's cell phone looking for "Mom" and make that call.
  • Supported a family member immediately after a patient's (not unanticipated) demise.
  • Assisted a patient who wanted to make a Living Will and select a Health Care Power of Attorney.
  • Arranged for a priest to provide Sacrament of the Sick to a patient nearing the end of his life.
  • Supported a patient (and her husband) who had come to the hospital with what she thought was a very minor problem only to discover she had a far-advanced major diagnosis.
  • Visited numerous patients in their rooms upon referral from the nurses and the previous chaplain.
Another night I might be asked to perform a Baptism for an unstable newborn, to sit with a dying patient who has no family, to be with a woman who had just become a widow due to her husband's sudden cardiac arrest. The beeper is with me constantly, as is the telephone, and the chaplain's number is intentionally an easy one to remember.

I found one wonderful nurse in the ER who eased me along with a difficult family identification. I discovered that the staff in the triage section are good-natured and amazingly helpful with all kinds of questions. I learned that breakfast and lunch are the best meals in the cafeteria and that the dryness of the institution requires lots of chapstick and cups of water

When I was working on the final trauma of my shift, very tired from too few, too short segments of sleep, all at once I realized that I wasn't actually thinking about where I was going. My feet had learned the layout of the ER, while my brain really had not!

I love it. I absolutely love it.

Friday, January 03, 2014

First Flimsy of 2014

The new year has gotten off to a fine start, in the quilting department anyway.

I need to make some quilts for some Very Important Babies who will be born this spring. When I decide to make a baby quilt without a specific recipient in mind, I tend towards pinks and lavenders. So I decided that I would make a quilt for a boy.

The last time Glorious Color had scrap bags, I bought two: one was cool prints and the other was cool stripes and shot cottons. I used these fabrics (and one piece of blue hand-dyte) to make the flying geese plus some other Westminster scraps I had around to finish the Louisiana blocks. The alternate blocks are tiny black dots on white. I like it and think I am going to try to machine quilt it.

As intended, I did get out my Emily Cier book and opened it to the Pinwheels page. I picked out some fabrics (yes, pink) and am ready to start on a girl baby quilt as soon as I solve the problem of drawing 12 or 15 inch circles on freezer paper. My compass makes circles up to 6". Joe is going to check the size of his. I may adapt Emily's pattern to include smaller-than-15-inch circles.

Meanwhile, another participant in the Retro TV Stars swap is interested in a side swap, so I need to dig out my blacks-whites-greys and go back to the stars pattern book.

I love to sew.

Thursday, January 02, 2014

Black Rock: I Am Ready!


There will be ten of us going to Black Rock (the new White Oak) in the spring: The nine regulars and a mystery woman, "Sylvia" (as in "Who Is Sylvia?"). Nine of us wanted to do a block swap as part of the event, and Kathy offered to come up with a theme and specs. She and I discussed a couple of possibilities and both of us really liked her idea of "Retro TV Stars," i.e., 12" finished blocks, all stars, in gray, black, and white solids and prints.

On the last day of 2013, with all of my important projects finished by year's end (well, I'm still binding a couple of pot holders in front of the television), I thought it would be fun and satisfying to get going on the swap blocks. Some of us committed to stretching ourselves, making more complicated blocks than usual. I dug out a book that I've had for a very long time and only used for one block, paged through, and chose one that would definitely be a challenge. They are finished, and each of the nine is unique. I had a lot of fun making them.

Nine blocks, I thought, were nice, but twelve would be even nicer. So I put out a call to see if any of the Black Rockers wanted to do a side swap and two responded eagerly. We agreed to each make three blocks using a different pattern and different fabrics from the original swap set.

I went back to the book and chose this block and made my three.

Too bad there are three and a half months before we retreat!

Wednesday, January 01, 2014