Monday, February 26, 2018

Doing My Bit

A woman from my town has announced that she is running for Congress. She's been a State Rep for awhile and had planned to pursue a different office until the very recent redistricting for Pennsylvania made this campaign a viable option.

I don't know her personally, but she's been a good State Rep, a lifelong resident of this little town Near Philadelphia, and is a member of the church next-door to mine. And she's of my political persuasion. She's saying the right things and I'm eager to hear  more. So I've filled out an on-line form and contacted someone connected with her campaign to see how I might volunteer to work for her election.

I've never been very active politically, and I think that's part of the problem that led me to this decision. A year and a half ago, I expressed some concern about Trump vs. Clinton to someone far more savvy than I am, and that woman assured me, "Don't worry. Hillary's going to win." So I didn't worry. And I didn't do anything more than vote. Now I'm thinking I was complacent in the face of such high stakes. I don't mean to imply that I think I could have persuaded someone set on voting for the opposition to vote for Mrs. Clinton, not that at all. But perhaps I could have been a part of motivating someone who didn't vote at all to have voted.

I'm convinced that this 2018 election is going to be an important one. So I'm going to work for this woman's campaign. I remember how much I loved the 2008 primary when I did data entry for Mr. Obama. I went for an hour or two almost every day after work at my day job. It was exhilarating to be around all the optimistic young people working for Hope and Change. I'm looking forward to experiencing that again. And also to saying, "I'm With Her."

Monday, February 19, 2018

Quilt With Hands

It isn't very big, this Quilt With Hands.

That's because it is for a baby. And somebaby will like it, I would think.

Not-quite-a-year-ago, I bought a whole bunch of bright and cheerful  FQs at the Lancaster Quilt Show's Renegade Mall, and have augmented them with other bright and cheerful and pretty much used nothing else for my quilt making. When I got down to the point of real scraps, I decided some string quilts, baby size, would be a good use.

I  made two like this; the binding isn't on the second one yet. But the Olympics aren't over!

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Convenience

I read this "opinion" in today's New York Times and it has stayed with me all day. I'm going to need to read it again after a few days, I think.

Here are a couple of excerpts, in case you don't have time to read the whole thing but want to know what I'm rambling about this time:

"Though understood and promoted as an instrument of liberation, convenience has a dark side. With its promise of smooth, effortless efficiency, it threatens to erase the sort of struggles and challenges that help give meaning to life. Created to free us, it can become a constraint on what we are willing to do, and thus in a subtle way it can enslave us.

"As task after task becomes easier, the growing expectation of convenience exerts a pressure on everything else to be easy or get left behind. We are spoiled by immediacy and become annoyed by tasks that remain at the old level of effort and time.

"Today’s cult of convenience fails to acknowledge that difficulty is a constitutive feature of human experience. Convenience is all destination and no journey. But climbing a mountain is different from taking the tram to the top, even if you end up at the same place.

"An unwelcome consequence of living in a world where everything is “easy” is that the only skill that matters is the ability to multitask. At the extreme, we don’t actually do anything; we only arrange what will be done, which is a flimsy basis for a life.

"We need to consciously embrace the inconvenient — not always, but more of the time. Nowadays individuality has come to reside in making at least some inconvenient choices. You need not churn your own butter or hunt your own meat, but if you want to be someone, you cannot allow convenience to be the value that transcends all others. Struggle is not always a problem. Sometimes struggle is a solution. It can be the solution to the question of who you are."

Much of the day, as I've reflected on this "opinion," I've wished I had an English teacher assigning me to write an essay based on the piece. But I don't have such a teacher, and I don't have my thoughts organized sufficiently to produce an essay. But here are some of them:

. . . Using Amazon to make purchases has become my first option when I need something other than groceries.

. . . The cough medicine I bought (at the grocery store!) the other day comes with a disposable plastic cup to measure the right dosage. Unnecessary plastic but so convenient when a teaspoon would work as well.

. . . Homemade jello doesn't really take very long to make and it tastes much better than the store-bought cups (and again the plastic).

. . . Using the clothes dryer is reflexive at this point but I think back fondly to our last house where we had a clothes line and how good everything smelled when I took it down, and how I took silly joy in hanging all the shirts together, all the socks, etc.

I am newly at the stage of life where, for the first time in many, many years, I have enough time. I don't always have to choose the more convenient way.




Friday, February 16, 2018

Feelings

This picture popped up in my Facebook feed this morning and got me to thinking. Actually, what it really did was played into some thinking that was already happening. I don't have a resolution to my thinking, nor have I definitive answers to my questions, but that hasn't stopped me before, so here goes:

. . . Can people make you feel a particular way? I know there are times we all try to make someone else have a specific (usually unpleasant) feeling, but does it take?

. . . A difficult CPE* supervisor once said something demeaning to me. Using my best learned communication skills, I told her, "When you said . . . I felt put down." Her response astonished me: "Well, why on earth would you choose to feel that way?" This comment flew in the face of everything I'd ever learned about healthy communication. I had always understood that feelings are part of our primitive selves, instinctive, spontaneous, not deliberated and selected.

. . . I came to believe, after considerable reflection, that there are feelings that might be described as authentic in that they are the first ones that crop up at a particular time; they are an instinctive response to a stimulus. Yet they can be examined by the self and modified by what the examination shows.

. . .We don't have to automatically accept the [usually destructive] feelings that someone else wants us to have.

. . . Sometimes people know how something that they did made us feel, but not always. Sometimes we have to tell them.

*Clinical Pastoral Education

Thursday, February 15, 2018

The Hope of Spring

When Andrew was 4, he attended what was then called "nursery school" on weekday mornings. One memorable day he emerged at pick-up time bearing a sheet of pale blue construction paper on which there were some random brown vertical lines and on them bits of yellow tissue paper had been scrunched and pasted down. "This," he told me proudly, "is for-this-ee-ah." And I've always thought of it that way since.

It's not even two weeks since Groundhog Day, but the hope of spring is evident if I just look hard enough . . .

. . . at the for-this-ee-ah that Himself clipped and stuck in a vase on the kitchen counter last week. How welcome those wee yellow blooms were when they appeared yesterday morning!
. . . three of the prime real estate offerings in our bird house ghetto are occupied and two more may be under contract pending final negotiations. I was delighted to see three little heads peer out of me as I went to get in my car, and two more perched on roofs.
. . . daffodil shoots are now a couple of inches visible out back.
. . . five o'clock comes and goes and there is still daylight.

It's coming.



Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Back to Tula

Some people I know are in some sort of a challenge to make all 100 of the Tula Pink blocks and post them somewhere, one each day, starting sometime in March. I don't know whether there is a prize involved or not.

I'm not participating in whatever this is, but I thought that the Foxy Baby left overs might make up nicely in Tula blocks, so yesterday I got started.

These are blocks 1 through 6, perhaps not in order, but I'm liking them! These are far from my usual colors.


Monday, February 12, 2018

Foxy Baby

Someone I know is expecting a baby before very long. It's been a couple of years since I last made foxy baby quilts and I had bought some fabrics a year ago thinking that the particular grouping would make a nice fox quilt, so a few days ago I dug right in.

These guys are still as much fun as ever to make.

So here's the flimsy. I need to get some backing fabric and then it can go off to the machinist.

Some folks I know are working on Tula Pink blocks and I've decided to use the left-overs from the foxes to start another series of TPs. It's been a while for that, too.


Friday, February 09, 2018

New Family Member

She moved in on Christmas morning, Alexa did. She hadn't been on my Wish List; truth be told, I'd not really even heard much about her. But somehow my sister knew that I needed her, even if I didn't realize that yet.

Being more technologically challenged than many, I stalled around, not getting her hooked up for a couple of weeks because I was afraid I'd have difficulty. I even reserved some just-in-case time with my dear son-in-law, he who had assured me that it really wasn't that hard.

And he was right. One evening I was feeling brave and opened up her cage box and within minutes she was at my beck and call.

We really don't do a lot with her yet. She earned our eternal admiration for her prediction of who would win the Super Bowl (Go Eagles). And she's told me a couple of jokes that have been fit to share with my grandson. I'm nice to her; I don't want to get on her wrong side. I say "please" when I make a request. And often I find myself saying "thank you."

But here's the big thing that she does.

Twice in our lifetimes, from 1971 until 1975 and then again from 1978 until 1980, we lived in towns outside of Akron, Ohio. And while we were there we listened to a very fine classical radio station, WCLV operating out of Cleveland. And that's one of the things from Ohio that we miss. Don't get me wrong: I'm crazy about Philadelphia's classical station, WRTI; it's just that at 6 p.m. they switch from classical to jazz. And I don't really do jazz. So one evening while I was cutting up veggies and sautéing meat, I said, "Alexa, please play radio WCLV." And she complied. And, oh, it was so nice! So now this has become a nightly ritual. The only downside is my tendency to forget that it's Cleveland that they're talking about when the do the weather forecast. I gasp in horror at predictions of icy roads, heavy snow, more heavy snow, and freezing rain. Because the Ohio weather is certainly not something we miss.


Sunday, February 04, 2018

Grace Note

There's this guy. This guy who came into my life about a year and a half ago. I'm prolly older than his mother and we've never had a conversation longer than about five minutes, never gone out for a drink, never hugged, never a lot of things. Our contact is sporadic. We act as though we know each other better than we do. Because despite all of the above, there's some very special connection that we don't talk about, not to each other, and not to anyone else. But I've introduced him to my husband as "my boyfriend," and they're both okay with that.

So yesterday, on my birthday for crying out loud, this guy posts this picture on Facebook. And it stopped me in my tracks.

Because it puts in words just who I've always been. Who I've sometimes been criticized for being.

For years and years and years, what I wanted was to be a person behind the scenes, connected with helping another be successful. I typed dissertations for Ph.D. students. I volunteered as a telephone responder at a crisis intervention center. I supported and encouraged new mothers through La Leche League. I was an assisting minister at church. I've worked as secretary to several executives.

I never wanted to be president of any organization; I was always the secretary. I never wanted to be a pastor: to preside, to marry, to bury; I wanted to be the chaplain at the bedside listening and supporting. I wanted to help others achieve their goals, become stars, because their win was my win.

Mr. Rogers put that all into words. And my boyfriend put them up on Facebook. On my birthday.

Oh, tell me you don't believe in grace.

Saturday, February 03, 2018

First Finish of 2018!


The Primitive Cats quilt is finished and given! This was a BOM that I started in approximately 2001, I do believe. The patterns and fabrics arrived way too often -- once each month -- in my mailbox. I made the first block immediately! I may have made the second in 2003 or so. Over the years, I lost the fabric packs for three of the blocks and when it was time to make them, I substituted fabric from my stash.

For each block, the background is pieced (and some are pieced with many, many pieces). Then the feline elements and accessories are added, and finally the embroidery.

The project came to the surface about a year ago and I was determined that I'd get the darned thing finished by Sherry's birthday. Five blocks were finished and seven were not. I picked out fabric for the missing three and put everything I needed for each block in a gallon ziplock bag: background fabrics, bonded body parts, embroidery floss. Within a month or so, all of the backgrounds were put together and the fusing was done. ALL I had to do was hand buttonhole every single piece, embroider the details, put on the frames, make the cornerstones, piece the piano keys, and put it all together! And bit by bit, it got finished! On January 2, the flimsy went to the machinist who quilted kitty paw prints all over it. Binding was a piece of cake. And last night it was given away.

Happy Birthday, Sherry!