Monday, February 29, 2016

Am I Giving Up My Blog?

A fellow blogger wrote and said she noticed I wasn't blogging as often and that she hoped I wasn't going to quit. She got me to thinking because her observation came as a surprise. I noticed that she is right about the diminished frequency, and eventually I figured out the reason for it.

In just a very few months, this blog will observe its tenth birthday. In the eight months of that first year, there were 132 posts. 2010 showed an all-time high of 273 posts. 2015 showed exactly 132 posts.

I began blogging for a couple of reasons. The one I most often provided when asked was to keep a sort of a diary that perhaps one day my grandchildren might want to read. The other reason was to hold onto my sanity and fill up many very empty hours.

In the spring of 2000, I accepted a position as assistant to the head of a private school. The two of us got along famously; while he assigned jobs to me much of the time, a fair amount of my work was self-generated.  I was always available for the special projects he created and liked learning new skills. I very much enjoyed my work. This was to continue until the summer of 2005 when that man left to take another position and another man became my boss. This man was much more self-reliant, and since he hadn't had an assistant in his previous job, he didn't seem to know how to use one. I continued to do the work I'd done over the years, but this new man seldom assigned me meaningful projects. The empty hours seemed endless. I read and wrote a lot of emails. I played on-line Scrabble. I visited the CNN website with bizarre regularity. And still.

And then one day I started a blog. I've always been a writer, and the blog was a way to write and not have to hang onto anything. I started visiting other blogs, which led to my writing more frequently and about more topics. The overwhelming majority of my blog posts were conceived, written, illustrated and published while I was at work, trying to fill empty hours.

You're wondering about the obvious question: Why didn't I ask for more to do? I did. Every year during my annual evaluation and usually a couple of times in between I would tell my boss, "I can do more. You can give me more to do." But any projects he had were passed along to another administrator, regardless of whether they might have been something I could handle. Apparently I wasn't the only one who didn't have enough to do. Rather than help me to grow in my job, this otherwise awfully nice gentleman let me clean out files ad nauseum, and once even told me that if I wasn't happy in my job perhaps I should look somewhere else.

Why didn't I do that, you're probably wondering?  Well, there are a few reasons: Apart from not having enough to do, the school was a wonderful place to work. I was compensated very, very well. My commute was an eight-minute drive (nine if the traffic was bad), the atmosphere -- for the most part -- was one of encouragement, growth, and celebration. I laughed every single day. Paid time off was generous. The benefits including the retirement plan were better than average. And my age was a factor. Deep down I knew that I would have one dickens of a time finding another full-time job as a lady in the general age range of sixty.

And then one day it all came to an end. I was told that rather than my being given additional responsibilities, ones I certainly could handle, my position was being eliminated and someone else would cover the essential pieces. In five months I'd have no paycheck. If you are a long-time reader, you might remember how difficult that was.

What does all of this have to do with The State of the Blog? Bear with me.

I felt fortunate to land a part-time job halfway through that five-month period, and left the private school. That part-time job worked out well for a year and a half and ultimately gave way to my finding two other, deeply satisfying part-time positions. I spend three mornings each week in the office of a small school for autistic kids; I prepare lesson materials, answer the door and the phone, maintain the supply inventory, send out the invoices, and whatever else anyone at all needs to have done. Two or three times each month I spend a 24-hour shift as the chaplain at the local hospital where I am often not only busy enough but too busy attending traumas, deaths, Codes, supporting families, and performing emergency Baptisms.

And, frankly, I don't seem to have as much time to blog! Even though I'm employed far fewer hours, going to work means something different now. I've come to realize how toxic my previous employment was to me. That school is still a good place; students are receiving excellent educations and a spirit of grace rather than law underlies and informs virtually everything that goes on. It just wasn't a good place for me, though it took being away from it for nearly three years to understand that.

At work now, I'm busy. And my off-work hours are busy too -- quilting, reading, walking, spending time with my husband, leisurely lunches with friends -- all of these things seem to come before blogging, blogging which started out as a time-filler. It is still a journal, and more now these many years later. It's a connection with wonderful and interesting people I may never meet in person, but with whom relationships feel very solid. It's a world of all kinds of things to learn about and to be amused by.

I doubt I'll ever have another year of 273 blog posts. I'm way too busy! But I certainly don't foresee quitting. "Not while I got breath in my body," as Mammy would say.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

240 Done

The production of flying geese strips continues Near Philadelphia. 140 of the required 600 are complete. I find I cannot do more than 40 at a sitting; otherwise, I get sloppy and the nifty thing about these strips of geese is the precision.

It's okay. They'll get done. And I haven't felt like doing more than 20 at a time for a while. On Monday after a 24-hour shift at the hospital Saturday into Sunday, I woke up with what my late mother used to call the "May-Lay Waste-Away," and I was terribly, terribly sick for the next 12 hours and only slightly less sick for the following 24. I'm still kind of washed out and draggy, and have another hospital shift starting tomorrow. 

Someone pointed out that my blogging has really fallen off and she hoped I wouldn't discontinue completely. I've figured out why, and no, I won't. I think the next post might deal with that topic.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

This and That

First, here's This. This is the latest block in Project 48, and my favorite so far.

I'm surprised at myself for keeping up to date with this weekly block construction. My blocks use fabrics with text, letters, and writing. The quilt is being thought of as Word Salad.

I have a couple of quilts nearly ready to share. One will be gifted next week and another is a a graduation gift and yet another is a contribution for my school's upcoming fundraiser. And the blind man is still on the wall, where he's likely to be for a long time.

Then, there is That. Do you have any idea what it is? A sweet, nonquilty, nonbloggy friend phoned a couple of weeks ago and asked if she could come by to "drop something off."

Seems that her man is a woodworker and she got intrigued by his process and decided to give it a try herself. She got a lathe (whatever that actually is) and some beautiful wood and worked the wood on the lathe and produced this gorgeous gift for me. I was absolutely delighted!

Have you figured out what it is?
Look! It is a double-ended quilting tool! One end is a seam ripper (my friend knows me all too well) and the other end is a stylus!

This tool now lives in my sewing studio, right beside my Bernina.

And I use it.


Friday, February 12, 2016

Win-Win (Win)

When we were in Scandinavia last summer, we  enjoyed the bread that was served in Norway, Denmark, and Sweden. It was dark, it was seedy, it was delicious. When we returned home, I shopped around the various markets and bakeries trying to find something similar. Whole Paycheck Foods and Giant both had good bread, but not precisely what I sought, and neither store is my regular shopping place. So that meant making an extra trip.

It occurred to me that perhaps I could make bread myself, bread that would be reminiscent of what we had enjoyed last summer. I bought a book. I didn't get any further than that. But I did put a bread machine on my Amazon wish list. And forgot about it.

I had a birthday a week or so ago. Late in the afternoon my sister showed up and said she had a present for me in the car but needed help bringing it in. Joe went out to help her and stayed around while I opened it. The inside box was identical in shape and size to a beautifully wrapped gift that had been sitting on the sideboard for a few days. Joe looked crestfallen. Bonnie had bought me the bread machine from my wish list. So had Joe. He said he would take care of returning the duplicate machine, and we went on to visit and talk of other things.

I've made two loaves of bread so far. Both were interesting and from ingredients I had on hand. There are recipes that sound similar to the bread that prompted the idea, and I'm going to head out to the store and get the interesting ingredients needed. A bread machine is a fine thing to have.

Joe did return the one machine and told me to pick out something I wanted as a birthday gift. I chose a pair of JJill's blue jeans, and they are scheduled to be delivered today. This morning Bonnie showed up at the front door, carrying a check. It was to me, to replace the duplicate bread machine! When I told Joe what had happened and that he was off the hook for the blue jeans, he replied that he had said he would buy them and by gum he was going to buy them. Bonnie's generous check will go toward a cute little jacket I've had my eye on.

And that's how a very peculiar coincidence turned into a Win-Win (Win) for me!

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Remembering Tophlos!

My friend Lori made a wonderful quilt that was called Blindman's Fancy. Here's a link to Lori's blog, but not to that particular post. Lori's taste runs to Civil War repros, so you can just imagine how beautiful her quilt was. I was instantly smitten, and not just because of the quilt blocks.

Many years ago, when I was in Seminary, the first class we endured had was Koine Greek.We met from about 9 each morning until about 5 each afternoon and there were optional sessions from 7 until 9 each evening. For an entire month. It was hard work, but we bonded as a class and at the end some of us had a pretty good understanding of Koine Greek and could actually do some of the translation that the next class required.

Early on we learned the word tophlos, the blind man, and we learned the word anablepso, to receive one's sight. Whenever tophlos would appear in a sentence, we'd heave a small sigh of relief because he only ever did one thing: received his sight. The challenge would be to figure out just when this happened -- just now, a while back, or sometime in the future.I've always had a  fondness for tophlos and seeing Lori's quilt brought back  memories. I had to have a Blindman's Fancy quilt.

My turn as Queen Bee was December. In November I made packets with the instructions for the block (all 81 pieces of it, some of which were 1-13/16 of an inch as a couple of participants pointed out with vigor), fabric for the center square and solid fabric for the HSTs in the first round. I asked them to add fabrics in colors that they selected from the center square. My bee mates rose to the occasion. Above is a picture of all twenty-five blocks. They each finish at fifteen inches. Each is unique; each is nothing short of absolutely gorgeous.

Now comes the fun of putting them together. Lori's recipe calls for flying geese lattice with four-patch cornerstones. I think a small square-in-a-square would be better for the cornerstones. I struggled the other evening with my box of fabrics, auditioning possibilities. I think I'm pretty well settled on the colors I want. Next challenge will be to find those colors in the shop, because I only have FQs on hand. But there's no rush. When tophlos finally does anablepso, he's in for an amazing sight to behold!

Sunday, February 07, 2016

Superb Owl Sunday, 2016

 Himself is watching the game and I've been sewing. Both of us are pretty happy about that. In another half-hour, however, whatever the status of the game, Downton Abbey will prevail. This is understood by all parties (Blackberry's neutral).

So, here's my fifth block for Word Salad, the quilt I'm going to make during 2016 from the Project 48 postings. You may recall that I'm trying to use mostly text and letters prints.

I like this block. The new blocks are posted late on Thursday afternoon, Eastern Time, so I usually get mine made on Thursday evening or Friday morning.
Bobbi is Queen Bee this month at the Guild and she provided the fabric for the center squares of the blocks and asked for bright scraps and yellows for the rest of the blocks.

I didn't lack for brights to cut into 1-1/2" squares. And I found a perfect yellow among some Kona pieces. Another friend reported that she had made strip sets and perhaps I would have been better of doing that because my blocks are a tiny bit wonky from all that cutting and piecing.

I think Bobbi's going to have a pretty nice quilt and I'll be eager to see it.

Thursday, February 04, 2016

Word Salad Update #1

Surprising myself, I'm staying up to date on the Project 48 blocks. Block Five was shared today and I didn't waste any time getting it done.

So far, so good.

You may recall that this quilt is to be called Word Salad and that this has nothing to do with She Who Has Endorsed He Who Must Not Be Mentioned.

By the time the 48 blocks are done, someone will have very recently been elected.

I'm aware that my blogging has trickled off these past few months, and I'm not sure why. I'm certainly sewing and busy doing other things, but I seldom get around to writing a post. I'm going to try to post more often.

I'm still involved with a Bee through the Guild. My blocks from 2015 have been assembled, sandwiched, quilted, and have a destination. The fabric for the binding has been cut and will be machined on within the week and hand-stitched down in front of the television after that. My blocks for 2016 all have come in and now what I need to do is lay them all out and pick the lattice fabric. This task is daunting. I wish I could just get someone to do it for me! But I will do it, because I do love the blocks and want them to be a quilt.

Here's a picture of what I'm working on for this month's Queen Bee. Not the HST but the strips.