Friday, August 28, 2015

A New Block

Turbo found this block on Pinterest and we kind of thought it would be a good one for our next projects.

I have three main categories of fabric that I'm using these days: Kaffe Collective, Brights (including Pat's and Marilyn's scraps), and a group I think of as "Edgy." Sometimes the Brights play well with the Kaffes; that's what I've been doing lately.

So it seemed like it was time for a change and I did some math and picked out some fabrics from the Edgy group and made the first block, forgetting that math isn't my strong suit. I should have made a test block out of scrappy fabric.

As Turbo says, I'm close. I'll cut those white squares a quarter-inch larger for the next attempt.

Meanwhile, I'm thinking it won't be impossible to take this apart and salvage at least five of the units. I might even be able to remake the offending corner blocks, but I'm not sure. As I said, math isn't my strength.

Monday, August 24, 2015

The Miracle Baby

A year ago, a young woman, the daughter of a near-life-long friend, asked a favor. She had registered with an adoption agency and was building her portfolio. She needed a certain number of letters of reference; they needed to come from different aspects of her life. I was delighted to oblige because I knew (a) she would be a terrific mother and (b) it would be an easy letter to write.

This gal, I'm going to call her Chloe, is the oldest of the offspring of the group of women called The Good Guys. It was fun to watch her grow up, because she was somewhat of a foretaste of what our own kids would be doing in a couple of years. When she graduated from high school, I told her, "Chloe, you can't keep calling me Mrs. So-and-So. I'm Nancy." She couldn't do it. She was too well brought up. We struggled. I insisted. She failed. I pushed. She failed again. Finally, for reasons I can't remember, it was decided she would call me Schnookums.  (For the record, she can't call my dear husband by his first name either -- he's Mister Schnookums.)

So I wrote the letter, emphasizing her many wonderful qualities. Deep down, I was doubtful. You see, six or seven years ago, my friend took sick, and had to have a liver transplant. With all of the need for adoptive babies, I wondered if a single woman with a donor organ would be selected above a married couple. But I hoped. And I prayed.

Chloe was clear that race didn't matter and certainly neither did gender. She was even willing to receive a baby with medical issues. But a year passed, and though she applied for about ten babies that I know of (and there were likely more), each time another adoptive placement was selected. I admired her courage as she continued to put her name in the hat.

A couple of weeks ago my phone rang. The voice on the other end said, "You're going to be Great Schnookums!" The tears filled my eyes and the lump filled my throat; I could hardly ask the details. A baby boy, it turns out, was to be born in a few days all the way down in Texas. He was of German-Irish descent. And he had a hole in his heart that would necessitate surgery within the first few days of life. Chloe had to be willing to stay in Texas for up to two months until he was able to be discharged and come home.

So off to Texas Chloe and her own mom went; there were some travel snags and unexpected early labor, but it all worked out: Chloe arrived moments before the birth and was allowed to cut the cord and hold her son's hand as he was taken to the adjacent children's hospital.

I thought it was a miracle that Chloe had received a baby. But the real miracle was this: Tests at the children's hospital showed that the hole in TJ's heart had healed in utero! No surgery would be needed. The birth mom signed the papers, the judge signed the papers, the ecstatic grandmother bought Chloe a first class plane ticket, and all are home and settling in, Near Philadelphia. I met him this morning, held him for half an hour. He slept sweetly, occasionally opening an eye or two, but found me uninteresting.

I gave him Rummage Sale; may he enjoy it in continued good health!

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Almost Anvil

I finished this flimsy last month. I don't know what the block is called, or even if it is an "official" block. I had seen a photo on Pinterest and just wanted to make it. I'd been saving black-on-white FQs for a while, and used them for backgrounds. A huge piece of chicken wire made the lattice. The fabrics for the blocks are Kaffe Collective, hand-dyes, and batiks. When I was putting it together, I made a mistake in calculation for the horizontal strips and discovered this after I cut them. I was chagrinned because I didn't have enough chicken wire to recut the strips. Fortunately, Joe was on hand and suggested the ascending lattice squares and that was enough to make up the difference and add an unexpected bit of interest to the quilt.

Sunday, August 16, 2015


I was supposed to go to the fabric store with Turbo the other day, but I had to email her that I couldn't. I'd given in to a black-on-white (vastly different from black-and-white) sale at Pink Castle.

And I bought a pattern from Quilting Adventures (but I am not going to show it because it is going to be used to make a gift!).

And I bought that gorgeous voile from Hawthorne Threads.

And even I had to say that was enough for one week.

But boy am I going to have a good time!

Friday, August 14, 2015

Pacific Northwest Trip, Part Twelve

 Our flight to Seattle, once it finally got going, was uneventful. It was late afternoon when we arrived, and Seattle was experiencing a major heat wave.

We easily found our way to The Inn at the Market, where we were to stay for two nights. It is newly remodeled; the room was spacious and the bathroom was glorious! I wanted to take home every single thing -- the glass shower, the faucets, the towels -- from this place! We were tired, and were happy when we asked the concierge to recommend a place for dinner and she suggested Cafe Champagne, a charming French restaurant steps away from the Inn. After a leisurely meal, we returned to the hotel to retire early -- we had a very full day ahead on Saturday!

Promptly at the appointed hour, we gathered at the famous gum wall (which I found distasteful -- see above) to begin our two-hour tour of Pike Place Market with a knowledgable and personable guide from Savor Seattle Tours. We had stopped at the Market when had been in Seattle prior to Alaska and found it overwhelming. Taking this tour was definitely the way to really enjoy the Pike Place Market. The tour group was limited in size to sixteen participants and included were four deaf women and a pair of interpreters. We made stops at eight different food stands, learning something about each one, and having a most enjoyable sample of chowder, salmon, cherry candy, cheese, crab, pirogies, doughnuts, and I honestly can't remember the last one! At the famous fish-throwing stand, there was an opportunity for one member of our tour group to attempt to catch a fish and the deaf group quickly nominated their friend Mish, who was delighted. We were all surprised that the man at the fish stand knew ASL and the interpreter didn't need to get behind the counter with Mish!

Exhausted but full, and very warm, we went back to the hotel where we read and napped for a while and then headed out to catch the Monorail down to the Space Needle Area. We didn't  care at all about going to the top of the Space Needle; our destination was Chihuly Garden and Glass!

We had long admired Chihuly's work and it somehow seems to fit so well with the vibrance and modernity of Seattle (have I mentioned that I really liked this city?). To control crowds, a limited number of tickets was sold for a specific time of entry. We wandered around the area while we waited for our appointment and then we went in. What a wonderful place!  I took so many pictures . . . . We enjoyed the glass installations inside, the films about Chihuly, the exterior garden, and the gift shop where we purchased a small round glass vase that reminded me of Sputnik.

Our dinner at Collections Cafe, which the concierge had also recommended, was delicious, and was a fun ending to a marvelous trip. The next morning we would take the train to the airport for the long flight home.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Pacific Northwest Trip, Part Eleven

All too soon, Friday morning arrived and it was time to leave our new friends and our home aboard Admiralty Dream. We were part of the group who were taking the first flight out of Sitka and so we were taken by bus directly from the pier to the Sitka Airport. We expected to fly out in two hours and received word on our arrival that there was a delay; it would be many more hours before the plane would arrive and depart again.

Before we could really get settled in with our frustration and disappointment, our familiar Alaskan Dream bus driver popped into the small lounge area. "Back on the bus!" he offered. It seemed that Alaskan Dream Cruises was not going to just let us sit in an airport. We were taken back to the Hospitality Suite in Sitka where we stowed our bags and learned that a special excursion -- at no cost -- had been arranged for us to visit a bear preserve.

And so off we went.

We learned that when a mother bear is killed, the authorities also euthanize her cub(s) because the young would not survive the next winter without her. A group of people established The Fortress of the Bear, a haven for bears who would otherwise be killed. We watched as three brown bear siblings, two other brown bears,  and a pair of black bears played, cavorted, ate, and slept.

The bears are large and intelligent; some of them have learned some basic sign language and can tell the keeper that they want to eat. It would be easy to forget that they are very, very dangerous.

These bears, having been taken into captivity, must spend their entire lives at the Fortress; they are not permitted to be released into the wild -- having been in captivity, they have been exposed to human maladies.

We spent a good bit of time at the Fortress; then the bus took us back to Sitka where we did some additional sight-seeing and bought our lunch. Then it was time to return to the airport and leave Alaska.

While in Alaska, I met many people who work there for the ten weeks or so of the summer tourist season and then go do something else for the rest of the year before returning the next summer. Some are teachers, but others leave Alaska and go to Hawaii or Mexico to work the tourist season there. These include the ship personnel -- chef, stewards, etc. -- and many people who drive busloads of tourists and provide commentary, the workers at the fish hatchery, and more. I had no idea that this lifestyle existed, much less how many people have chosen this nontraditional way to live. Joe says they are adventurers.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Pacific Northwest Trip, Part Ten

We spent two more days aboard ship after the day at Mendenhall and Juneau. One night we had a presentation by one of the passengers, a retired college professor, on reforestation ecology. Another night we were scheduled to have a presentation by one of the naturalist-guides, but this had to be rescheduled for the most wonderful reason! We were all settling in at the Forward Lounge when someone called "Whale at nine o'clock!" We hurried to look and that is how it began -- for the next hour or more at least fifty whales were swimming and diving and generally putting on a show for us, right next to the ship!

One day we had a land excursion where some bear scat was sighted. Some people were very excited about this. We sailed around just soaking up the views because we knew all too soon we would be back in Sitka and leaving Alaska.

Another day we had an excursion to visit a fish hatchery where we learned a great deal about salmon and saw a mother bear catching fish for herself and her twin cubs. Again, these little bears need to put on a great deal of weight during this summer in order to survive/hibernate through the coming winter.

The color of Dawes Glacier was astonishing to all of us. In the area we saw icebergs, some with seals piled up just waiting for a piece of glacier to break off, or calve. When that happens, the glacier makes an odd and eerie sound that is called "white thunder;"; it causes a swell and ripples, and pushes fish closer to the surface and the seals leave the berg and feast.

The coloring of this particular landscape was in contrast to the grays and blues we had become accustomed to.

I love this picture. There were so many different colors of gray combined to make such beauty.

A playful whale.

And another.

We saw eagles everywhere.

These small rubber boats called DIBS were used to take us to shore

Mrs. Bear catches a fish at the salmon hatchery.

This picture shows the immensity of the glacier. That's a great big cruise ship in front of it!

Friday, August 07, 2015


Why, yes, that is a stork over there to the left. It certainly is. But it isn't my personal stork.

In my job at the school for autistic children, with just a couple of exceptions, my colleagues are  twenty-something and thirty-something females, and there is some unwritten rule that there must be at least two pregnant teachers at all times. Right now we're expecting a boy in October and a surprise in December. So come the end of September, there should be another announcement of expectancy.

When I worked at the hospital last weekend, I stopped in at the maternity floor to visit the daughter of a friend and her daughter, the latter being approximately twenty-three hours old. My arms were straining to pick her up.

I wrote earlier about the family member whose miracle twins are due in ten days (I say four); there's another sweet family member with a little girl coming also in October. And just this week I learned of a long-awaited adoption that will happen in the near future.

I know I have my Alaska story to finish. And there are a couple of other blog posts stirring around in my head. But today I just needed to pause and reflect -- there is new life and potential new life surrounding me. I feel blessed.

Saturday, August 01, 2015

Rummage Sale and Frog Update

On Friday I didn't have to work. And I knew what had to be done.

Many of my friends have spent time this summer organizing their studios, purging their stashes, cleaning their messiness. Not me! Local people and blog friends all bit by the Dreaded Cleaning Virus. But not me!

Until Friday.

I posted on FB that I really had to go down and get organized and cleaned up before the Board of Health came to shut me down. And downstairs I went.

And these blocks, the last of which had been finished just the day before, were on the wall.

What would you have done?

I thought so.

It didn't take long, really, to put 36 finish-at-7" blocks together. This baby quilt is designated for someone who isn't here yet, but, by gum, when s/he does arrive, this quilt, the one I've called "Rummage Sale" because of the huge variety of fabrics, will be waiting in warm welcome.

Once that was taken care of, I really did get down to work. Himself paused in his work to take me to Home Depot where we purchased five more great big Rubbermaid tubs. And then I came home and sorted. Didn't take time to press and minutely organize, just put them into categories:

  1. Big Tub: Kaffe Collective
  2. Big Tub: Batiks
  3. Smaller Tub: More Batiks
  4. Big Tub: Black/White/Gray
  5. Smaller Tub: Bill
  6. Smaller Tub: Brights
  7. Smaller Tub: Solids
And then I opened the cordless iron my sister had given me on my birthday and plugged it in. I put the two quilts who needed borders along with their border fabric on top of the tubs. I washed down the sewing table. And then I had a shower and a big glass of water.

Update on the Froggy Mug Rug Give-Away: I've heard nary a word from Nancia, who was a no-reply commenter, so I drew a second name and the rug is going to Karla.