Monday, October 31, 2016

Just 80 Minutes: Part Seven

Well, y'know, it turns out that the "not very challenging" paper pieced spokes pattern really paid off for me. Those 36 arcs went together very easily and in the process, my body-memory mastered the steps for getting everything in the right place. Body-memory is my own term; there may be an official one. It's like when I first started working at the hospital, where the Emergency Room is a bit like a labyrinth, after a night or so I discovered that my feet knew the way around to do the routine tasks, whether my brain knew it or not. This may not make sense to you. But it does to me. Another way to look at it would be in terms of a musician learning scales in preparation for more complex pieces. Those spokes were my scales.

This week my 80 160 minutes yielded what is in this picture and in the one below. I'm paper piecing a block for a quilt that I'm going to donate to a charity. It is a very specific quilt for a very specific charity and I'm excited about it. I'll tell more in next week's installment.

The block I'm making -- with pretty much success so far -- has six sections to it. Three are finished! The other three are in the second picture, well underway. But I've learned the hard way that when I'm sewing something complicated, when I get tired, to set it aside until another day. So that's what I've done.

I suspect you can guess what my block is, and I'm fine with that. It would seem to mean I've done well!

I must say that during my 80+ minutes this week I have invoked the spirit of my paper piecing godmother. I hope I haven't drained her energy in doing so!

No cats were harmed during this effort.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Tell the Truth

On its face, this picture leads one to believe that this post is about the current political situation.

It isn't.

As you may recall, a couple of months ago I became involved with a multi-church effort to resettle a large refugee family. These Congolese people had spent many years (in some cases their entire lives) in a camp in Tanzania and came to the USA at the end of August bringing with them little more than the clothing on their backs.

They've learned so much in the two months they've been here and they have so much more to learn. In fact, I've been asked to head up a team to identify and teach life skills across a wide spectrum: from which foods need to be refrigerated to how to take public transportation. A big issue this week was how to adjust the thermostat. Initially my team was to be called "American Life Skills," but I thought later "This American Life" might be better. Then it occurred to me that the real name for the team should be "First World Problems."


They're learning, and as their English improves ("I am fine. How are you?"), it becomes easier for them to learn practical things.

We're learning about them, too. For instance, they are appreciative. They never fail to say "thank you" when we take them things or give them a ride to English class. They are easy laughers. Some kids are prone to tantrums, no matter what their culture.The children and the adults alike are spontaneously affectionate; hugs abound with every encounter.

And a big, still unanswered question has come to my mind.

In anticipation of the change in the weather, Cherie and I went to their home a couple of weeks ago to assess their warm clothing needs. We'd been told that the agency we work with had given them coats and hats and gloves, but we felt the need to check and be sure that everyone would be okay on that first day of a big drop in temperature.

We told the family we were there to talk about coats and asked to see the ones they had. They told us they had no coats. None. We looked in the big downstairs closet. No coats. None. We asked permission to check upstairs, and permission was readily granted. There we found coats, a few more than one coat per person. So we decided to focus on scarves, gloves, and hats, and are nearly there.

But the questions were raised and have stayed with me. Why did they say they had no coats? Did they not understand what we were asking? We had noticed that the family had all kinds of things that they did not need, especially clothing of sizes that wouldn't fit anyone in the household. Someone speculated that in the refugee camp there was some sort of a barter system where they could trade things they didn't need for things that they did; it turned out that this was accurate. But still. They knew they had coats. And told us otherwise. There's a chance that they didn't really understand the question. Or perhaps they simply wanted to increase their stash of trade-ables. Or some other explanation that I can't fathom. It doesn't really matter. I'm certainly not condemning; rather, trying to understand.

The big question, though, that I don't know how to answer is this one: Is truth a universally understood concept? Is truth telling an ethic across cultures? Or do people from some cultures -- much like our own little ones -- need to be taught the difference between truth and untruth? This question group of questions rattles around in my brain and I've no idea where to find the answer. Google was useless. My daughter is an anthropologist, and I mean to discuss this with her at my earliest opportunity. Meanwhile, dear reader, if you know anything about this . . . .well, your comments would be most welcome!

Friday, October 28, 2016

Back to Italy: Part Four

Our last port was Positano, and when we pulled in, the weather was iffy, to say the least. Joe and I had nice memories of Positano from a previous trip and decided to take the tender from Star Flyer to the shore. It was a bumpy ride. We walked for just a little while, then stopped at a cafe for a light lunch. After lunch, Joe went on to visit the church and for once, I declined. I headed back to the dock and boarded the tender. The ride back to the ship was so rough that when we arrived, I was wet all the way through from the sea splashing against the side of the tender. I was relieved when Joe finally returned on the last tender before sail-away.

The storm began in earnest an hour or so before dinner was to be served. We were in the cabin and the ship was rolling around in the sea; water was beating against the porthole and it was sometimes unclear whether it was rain or waves. I crawled over to the porthole side of the bed to take a closer look; Joe looked, too, and decided he just had to go up to the deck -- a storm at sea -- how could he resist? After he left, I had to work very, very hard to crawl back to the other side of the bed. The sea was so very rough. I was glad I had had my shower earlier; I surely would have fallen down.

In time things settled down and Joe returned with reports of a broken boom and shredded sails. He said that when he was passing through the dining room, the tables which had been set up for dinner, were shooting glassware, china and cutlery to the floor. Then came the announcement through the public address system. In the calmest possible voice we were informed, "Dinner tonight will begin at 8:30 rather than 7:30."

The next morning, the cruise director reported that he'd been sailing for 28 years and had never experienced a storm of that magnitude.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Back to Italy: Part Three

The urgency to write about our trip to Sicily and the Amalfi Coast has passed. Here are some photos from some of the places we stopped. There will be one more post about this trip

Valletta, Malta

Porto Empodocle



Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Not My Quilts!

Eight of us spent the past weekend out at Black Rock. Half of the group went on Thursday evening and the rest of us arrived Friday after lunch.

It was wonderful to escape from the rest of the world and take a break from any news whatsoever.

I spent most of the time working on the wheels (I posted a picture yesterday) and am looking forward to getting them assembled before too long. I've set aside some solids for a leader-ender project (another baby quilt is needed! and yet another!) and will be cutting some squares from them later today.

Nobody took many photographs; we were all engrossed in our various projects. Kathy made this really fine fox quilt and I love everything about it.

Dear Helen was particularly productive (we did a lot of p-alliteration due to my paper-piecing and Pat's production of powerful paper-pieced shark mouths). She finished a T-shirt quilt, produced a great tote bag and assembled these triplet quiltlets.

A good wonderful time was had by all.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Just 80 Minutes: Part Six

I've finished the 36 paper-pieced segments and added centers and shoulders, and sewn them together into nine wheels. Three of them are pictured here.

I feel very confident with this particular paper-pieced pattern at this point. Someone pointed out that it isn't a very challenging pattern. That's true. The next pattern is more challenging. I'm not sure where I'm going to find 80 minutes this week, but I'll certainly try!

Monday, October 24, 2016

Summer Projects

 Eight of us, more or less, meet on the first (or second) Tuesday of each month to do hand sewing. This has been going on for a long time; I can't remember how many years. Each year in April or May we choose some sort of a charity project to do independently over the summer. This year we came up with two options: One was to make lap quilts for veterans in wheelchairs; the second was to make quilts for The Baby Bureau. We have until the October meeting to complete our projects and that is when we have the ingathering.

Emily made this beauty for a veteran.

I forgot to take my quilts to the meeting at Marsha's, so today, before they were headed off to The Baby Bureau, I photographed the ones that I made on the back deck.

I love being part of this little group and love it that we take the time to share our talent with others.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Remember Me?

I am convinced that this election cycle is providing a negative and frightening undergirding to all of American life. People seem to me to be edgy, depressed, defensive and aggressive, all at the same time. This morning at breakfast, Himself and I talked about it; we both will be so glad -- we think -- when it is all over. The ugliness -- and not just on one side -- is beyond anything I've ever seen before on a national stage.

There are, of course, other things going on in my life. And everything seems to be colored by my despair over this election. Some weeks ago, for no apparent reason, all of the links on my blog disappeared. So I'm not reading the things that usually pick me up when I'm down. And I seem to lack the energy to go look them all up and re-establish my blog roll. Update: A wonderful person (see comments below) showed me how to re-establish my links! Wasn't that a kind thing for her to do? And speaking of blog, that which used to be so important to me, I can barely find the energy to do the Just 80 Minutes updates, much less write about our Italy trip and other things that usually fill my posts. The refugee resettlement project is undergoing some snags; there is confusion and there are some communication problems; things that normally people would take in stride, but some are now irrationally attacking the project's leader. Today, a stop sign issue (where I swear I was in the right) colored my entire morning, and it wasn't a pretty, rosy color.

My neighbor, a rational woman and former Bernie supporter, said to me, "But Nancy, Hillary is a flawed candidate." I agree. But the alternative is unthinkable.

I'll be back to blogging at some point. I hope it's sooner rather than later. But I don't know; I can't seem to shake this awful feeling of dread.

So, in the meantime, all I can do is to urge everyone to support The Flamingo Party. That's what my family is doing. As someone once said, "What do you have to lose?"

Monday, October 17, 2016

Just 80 Minutes: Part Five

At this point, I'm feeling confident with this particular paper-piecing pattern. I'm ready to move on to something more complex (that isn't just the same element over and over), but have made a commitment to nine of these spoked wheels -- they'll make a really cute baby quilt, I think. I've picked out centers for the wheels and affixed one set. I like how they look. I'll be taking this along on this weekend's retreat and hoping to finish it. Then next week I'll spend my 80 minutes with a different paper-piecing project.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Just 80 Minutes: Part Four

My eighty minutes of paper piecing were done in several stints this week, and actually came out to more than eighty minutes. I pieced twelve more arcs and find I am ripping out less and less, most often when I am tired and pick up the wrong fabric, not because I have placed the fabric inaccurately. I'm going to continue with these arcs until I have enough for nine wheels and then  add the centers and shoulders. I have a final plan.

Monday, October 03, 2016

Just 80 Minutes: Part Three

Again, I spent way more than 80 minutes in the past week working on Pickle Dish segments.

I do believe I've finally got the hang of it.

At some point, Himself began referring to them as "those sharks' mouths you are sewing." I liked that.

In the week ahead, I will either piece more of the arcs that I did the first week or play with a little pattern that I bought.

Sunday, October 02, 2016

Back to Italy: Part Two -- Cagliari and Trapani




A nice example of how the water color varied.

Autumn in Trapani