Sunday, January 29, 2017

Rise Up

Forty-nine years ago we attended the "Navy Reformed" church; it was the nondenominational Protestant service (with heavy Episcopalian leanings) held in the chapel on the base at Mainside Pensacola, where my husband was stationed.

Each Sunday began with the color guard entering the church while we stood and sang, "Rise Up, O Men of God!" It was very moving and I came to love the hymn.

Now the lyrics have changed a bit (some would say a bad thing) to become more inclusive (a good thing) and it was sung as the entrance hymn at my church this morning. I couldn't quite get through it because the words were so meaningful this day; the tears got in my way. After church, I spoke with our musician who had selected the hymn. "It was Divine intervention," she told me. "I pick the hymns for the year during the summer. I didn't know then how fitting this would be now." 

I do love Divine Intervention.
Rise up, O saints of God!
From vain ambition turn;
Christ rose triumphant that your hearts
with nobler zeal might burn.

Rise up, O saints of God!
His kingdom's task embrace;
redress sin's cruel consequence;
give justice larger place.

Give heed, O saints of God!
Creation cries in pain;
stretch forth your hand of healing now,
with love the weak sustain.

Commit your hearts to seek
the paths which Christ has trod,
and, quickened by the Spirit's power,
rise up, O saints of God!

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Group Effort

Where to start? With the patterns and the gracious designers? With the friends who cat-washed paper-pieced? With the cause? With the quilter?

No. With the woman.

But it's going to be a long story.

She runs a ballet school in the town where my daughter and her family live. It's a wonderful dance studio; my granddaughter has been a student there for half her life. In the spring, she holds a spectacular tea party, a two-day affair with tables beautifully set, triple-tiered plates of goodies, and an abundance of raffle baskets and opportunities. Moms and grandmas wear pretty dresses; some wear gloves and hats. The little girls wear even prettier dresses and hair looks its very best.  At some point, these little girls ever-so-gracefully walk down a red carpet to show off their finery. The big girls assist in refilling teapots, replenishing the crumpets and mini-sandwiches. The place is full. It is a glamorous affair, done in the very best of taste.

The first year that Sherry invited me to attend, I presumed it was a fund raiser for the ballet school. But I was mistaken. Partway through the event, the studio's director made a speech. She spoke of how  many years the tea party has been held (more than ten!), how much money had been raised, and then went on to say that every single bit of the money went to Susan G. Komen to assist in the battle against breast cancer.

I was wowed. I still am. Jane Lopoten is an extraordinary woman. I admire her tremendously.

After that first tea party, and after learning who the beneficiary was (all of us!), I made a quilt to donate each of the following years. This year I wanted to do something that was specific to the dance studio. Long-time friends and readers know that until recently I was infamous for saying, "I'd rather give a cat a bath than paper-piece a quilt block." That has changed, but the lingo lingers. I found a couple of ballet-themed patterns and bought them. That's when I became daunted. Some of these designs had more pieces than I cared to count. I had taken on an undertaking that just wasn't feasible for one person to do in a few months time.

Now, here's where it all comes together. I've been participating in a bee block exchange through my Guild, and the group I work with is called Anything Goes and Gorgeous -- there are no holds barred in the kinds of blocks that participants can request. Because we are meticulous about copyright, I knew I would need to purchase a dozen patterns, one for each block-maker. I hesitated. Then I wrote to the patterns' designers and explained about the bee and the quilt and the cause and within literally minutes heard back from each of them, granting me permission to print out the copies I needed of the patterns I'd already purchased. Their only request: "Please send a picture!" Shout out to Juliet of The Tartan Kiwi and to Linda at Paper Panache for their kindness and generosity.

In August I designed the lay-out. September I printed the patterns. In October I distributed them to the AGAG participants. In November the beautiful, precise blocks came back to me. One participant with an embroidery machine provided a label for the back. In December I put it all together. In January the machine quilter applied a quilting motif called, appropriately, "dancing ribbons." And I bound the quilt and took it to Guild for Show and Tell. In February I will delivery the quilt to Jane. In March, someone will take it home and breast cancer research will be all the richer for it.

My gratitude is to all who helped in any way with this effort. And especially to Jane Lopoten.

Monday, January 23, 2017

MOOving Right Along

Okay, so I'm trying to be positive, optimistic, all that stuff. I've cleaned up my FB account so that I'm still Friends with but no longer Follow any individual whose posts are primarily political, no matter what side they are on. I've Unfollowed most of the news and all of the "news" sites. I'm still getting the more-than-occasional political post, but I've been doing okay with that.

Until yesterday morning.

Not one, not two, but three people of my acquaintance posted links to an article where the author purportedly was condemning people who bash Donald Trump's young son, Barron. The snip from the article that appeared on FB said that it just wasn't right to go after a politician's child. No one I know is doing this, but I thought I'd click through, read the article, and perhaps share it. You know, kind of Just In Case.

Clicking led to the article, a passionate plea to not pick on, not make fun of, this young boy. The article was even written well.

But the author apparently had a hidden agenda, some kind of alternative facts if you will, because at the end of the article were photographs of the very nasty, unkind and inflammatory tweets about Barron that she had just finished condemning in her pious, righteous article! I felt angry. I felt duped. I felt like a COW* who was about to let out a Major Moo.

Author, listen up! What you did is NOT what she meant by "When they go low, we go high." Not a bit.

*Cranky Old Woman

Sunday, January 22, 2017


The Guild held the annual Elfster exchange last week and -- as they say -- a good time was had by all most. The meeting was under attended; apparently, there was bad weather in part of the surrounding area. And for mysterious unknown reasons, the Elfster algorithm was faulty -- at least one person's name was received by two others. It will all get straightened out somehow.

But for those who were lucky (myself among them), there were beautiful hand-mades shared. My wish list had included a book and a pair of placemats that had blue in them. The person who had my name provided both items as well as a 2x12 ruler -- a size that I didn't already have and have found to be very useful.

I sit and look at the book. There are many glorious possibilities. I look at it and I ponder. I would really like to make one of these lovelies. Whether and when remain to be seen.

But we are using the placemats. Daily.

My own recipient had a couple of specialty rulers on her list. Easy peasy. But she didn't indicate any hand-made item. By fortunate coincidence, I was seated near her at the November retreat. When the conversation turned was manipulated to the topic of aprons, I learned that she is a definite fan. I had bought some Tula, thinking there was apron potential for a couple of people on my Christmas lift. Those didn't actually get done. Yet. But I did make this one for my Elfster recipient along with a pair of matching pot holders. The specialty rulers and a bag of chocolate filled out her package. She seemed as pleased with her gift as I was with mine.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Happy Pineapples!

My normal routine has changed since early November. I no longer feel the pull to blogging. I still visit my regular stops, but I leave fewer comments. I just haven't felt as though I have anything positive to share.

Today my darling great niece posted on Facebook about things that are making her happy this day. I followed suit, and that kind of led me back to my blog.

Denise is the Queen Bee this month and she asked for a pair of pineapples. I spent much of today making these blocks for her. It was really nice to focus on something that made me happy.

I've had a rough start to this new year: a family member is ill, three of my girlfriends have had leg/ankle/knee surgery, a young mom has been diagnosed with breast cancer. On the other hand/brighter side, the three girlfriends are showing improvement, I've picked out a comfort quilt for the young mom, and there's been very little snow. Trying to focus on these good things.

Saturday, January 07, 2017


Seven Sheep

Sheep gotta eat

Self Portrait OR There's One in Every Family

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

The Facebook Monster

Initially, I was disinterested in social media. It all sounded like a big time-suck, and I didn't want any parts of it. Then the tech guy at the school where I was working at the time said that the adults needed to get involved with social media, to find out what it was all about, to learn why it was so captivating for the students. He urged us to get Facebook accounts.

It was great fun. Soon I was in several-times-per-week contact with friends far away. They posted pictures of their families (ye, gods, that guy I watched grow up next door is a grandfather already!), their travels, their quilts. It was wonderful. In short order, I'd reconnected with a couple of high school friends, lost these many years; reconnected not just on line but over some lovely lunches together. I enjoyed learning what they had made of their lives. People shared their pleasurable as well as poignant moments. I felt connected. Sure, there was the gal who seemed unable to make any kind of a move without posting ("took a shower"), and I let go of her pretty quickly. But, by and large, I enjoyed it.

Over the eight or nine months leading up to the 2016 election, however, my Facebook content took a turn for what ultimately turned out to be the worse. It was so gradual that at first I didn't even notice that I was reading way more moral outrage than I was reading glorious grandchildren. I watched as "friendships" dissipated -- people unfriended those of a different political persuasion. Then it happened to me: I found I just didn't want to read any more of Lulu's adoration of a certain comb-over. I quietly let her go. But the dis-ease that I was experiencing didn't go away and I discovered that it wasn't the Trumpists who were impacting me so much as my own peeps -- the other bleeding-heart idealistic liberals!

I came to realize that I was getting most of my news (and editorial content) from Facebook, from the political sites I'd begun to follow, but even more by the constant denouncing of the deplorables. It was getting to me bigly. In an effort to seek some balance, I stopped reading Huffpo and subscribed to The New York Times. That helped some. But in the weeks following the election, the political posting has become all the more fervent, as if somehow, some way, ranting (word used in the kindest possible sense) could make things different.

My wise husband said, "Facebook is like meeting someone you know on the street. You have a few seconds of chat/catch-up. You ask about the family; you speak about your vacation. You don't hold forth about what's happening (or not happening) in DC. You pet their dog and you move along."

I'm in process of re-evaluating my FB involvement. I've disconnected the few political sites I had espoused. I've unfollowed (but not unfriended, just in case) the most outspoken, single-focused preachers. I'm thinking hard about whether to stop Facebooking entirely. It would be healthier for me to pretty much stick with the Times for my news, and not have these political sidewalk conversations that make up such a big part of FB. But how else would I know about Bobbi's daily gratitude (which I seldom comment but always ponder), about dear Anne in England and what's going on in her world, about the perambulations of my seminary classmates, and the wonderful photos of everyone's children and grandchildren? And the quilts, above all, the quilts.

No cow pictures here. I don't want this to be a Cranky Old Woman post. I'm just sharing my current thinking and waiting to see how it evolves.