Saturday, June 30, 2018

Welcoming the Stranger

I just finished this superb book that my sister recommended.

I wish I would have read it two years ago when we were getting ready to welcome eleven people seeking refuge from the Congo and Tanzania.

I learned so much. I laughed and I cried.

I thought about all of the requirements that I had as the coordinator of the furnishings department. Some of them seemed silly then. Many more of them seem silly now. 

We worried so much about how much our new friends would understand about life in America. 

But, look, here is what we should have been worrying about:

"As a newcomer, one could never tell what Americans were going to understand and what they would not understand--sometimes they did not know anything at all about matters one considered fundamental." (p. 307)

Friday, June 29, 2018

Thinking INSIDE the Box

Yes, this is a terrible photo. But read on, anyway.

Our dear son-in-law is a history teacher in a public school. His school isn't in the district where they live, so sometimes Sam and Caroline are out of school when Chris isn't. This was the case last week. Sherry took Wednesday and Friday as vacation days; Joe offered our services for the other days.

This need for child care was fortuitous because Himself had been eager to do a particular project and enlist Sam's and possibly Caroline's help. Back about a hundred years ago when he was in graduate school, Buckminster Fuller spent a few days on the campus at Kent State, and the bulk of his time was with the architecture students. It was around that time that the fascination with geodesic domes began.

He's long wanted to make one. This was the chance and he seized it! The bad photo shows Sam and Caroline inside the finished project.

The construction took the better part of three days and to our surprise, it wasn't Sam, the guy who is frequently drawing buildings, but his sister and her sweet friend Zoe, who were the main builders!

I didn't get involved. I had Scrabbles to catch up on, quilts to bind, and a book to finish for my book club.

I made lunch the first two days and on the last day we had the delightful surprise of Sam and Caroline's offering to make our lunch! We relaxed in the living room and soon were called for very tasty grilled cheese sandwiches and carrot sticks! We found out that they'd learned the technique just the night before and were eager to share their skill with us.

Sam starts middle school in September, and Caroline will be in fifth grade. I think our days in this role are numbered!

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Mango Sunrise is a Flimsy

It'd been hanging on my wall for weeks. Maybe even months. Sewing the blocks into rows had been tedious. So tedious that when it was time to put the rows together, I balked.

I just balked. It was far easier to just let it hang there. I had another project I wanted to start and told myself that I couldn't start it until all those dratted rows were together. So you'd think I'd get cracking, wouldn't you? Hah! I downloaded a serious time-suck computer game and had at it. After reaching Level 238 for the second time, I was sufficiently ashamed to get to those rows.

I had the sense to put a great big safety pin in the upper right corner, just to make sure I'd maintain my orientation. In my sewing I discovered that I was dealing with some Seriously Minuscule Seam Allowances. About which the less said the better. Matching things up, especially where the exterior black joins occurred, was excruciating. It took forever. For ever. I reached the point where I had convinced myself that some diabolical soul was adding rows when I wasn't looking.

But at last it is a flimsy. It doesn't need or even want borders. What it wants is to be quilted and bound and given away. Which is all about to happen soon. I believe I have some terrific black to use for the back. And the machinist is just a phone call away. The recipient? I'm not positive, but I think it is most likely going to college in September. 

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Lady of the Lake

You know, I can't remember whether or not I shared a photo of this quilt. It's my Lady of the Lake and all of the blocks came from a swap that I ran about four years ago.

I had been so excited about Lady of the Lake in blue batiks. I couldn't wait for the swap to be complete. But when it was, my enthusiasm dwindled to nearly nothing. Lined up in orderly rows and columns, the LOTLs were dull and unexciting. So they got packed away.

And this past winter when the rare urge to purge struck, I came across them and decided to give them away. Kathy had made a terrific modern quilt out of her blocks and I thought she might want to make another. But I stuck the blocks up on the wall to give them one more chance before being banished and Himself came along and said, "What if you set them this way?" The man is at least as useful as he is ornamental.

I'd lost sight of the possibilities. With his help I took a new look and began assembling the blocks and I felt as though the finished project was interesting and contemporary. The local machinist worked her magic on it and the other day, this pretty snuggle quilt made its way to a pair of newlyweds who are having a party that I'm unable to attend. May their lives together be all smooth sailing and no stormy seas!

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Working Together for Good

I was still thinking about the Seventh Day Adventists up the road when I left home last evening to attend my Lutheran church Circle's annual Picnic At Cathy's. While we ate delicious pot luck goodies (oh, let me give special recognition to Linda's curried chicken whatever and Susan's ribs!), I talked about that food pantry project these people have undertaken. Discussion ensued for a while and then we turned to other topics (Is kale really necessary? How's Carol doing after her knee replacement? Exactly how much does one have to do to get her house ready to sell?). Gosh, we had a nice time.

Just as we were getting ready to leave, The Other Nancy remembered our annual summer problem which, incidentally, is a good problem to have. It concerns our outreach fund that we refresh each September when Circle starts up again. We have $200 remaining and only carry $100 forward. "So if anyone knows of any needs," she began and without missing a beat one of the Circle sisters said, "Why don't we send it to those Adventists who need to build a bathroom for their food pantry?" Done.

I came home feeling even more delighted by this development than by the fact that I was now in possession of the recipe for Cathy's Baked Lima Beans.

As I started to tell Himself what had happened, I opened my laptop, and there was an email from a blog reader, a Mormon from Utah, who wanted the contact info for the Adventists so she could send a donation. And within moments came another, this one from an Episcopalian in Washington State, with the same request. 

I've been using the graphic above for my profile picture on Facebook for the past couple of weeks, ever since a friend posted it. And now I notice that it comes from a site for dynamic Catholics. Don't you love it? When life is a generosity contest, everyone wins.

Romans 8:28    And we know that all things denominations work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to his purpose.       

Monday, June 25, 2018

Feeding Sheep

This past spring, I spent some of my Thursday afternoons volunteering at the food pantry my church houses. Our pantry looks a lot like this photo. It is in a big closet in the church basement.

I had naively thought that our pantry was the only one in the Near Philadelphia area, and subsequently learned that several churches in the area have pantries and there is a large store-front  community pantry in the town adjacent to ours.

Today I learned of yet another. And I am still trying to wrap my mind around what these people are doing.

My husband is an architect with a very small practice. He does a lot of different kinds of projects from home additions to clusters of condominiums. He also does a fair amount of church work -- making church buildings accessible, reorienting sanctuaries, providing additions. Recently he received a referral for a project for a small church located in the least affluent part of our township. It's a Seventh Day Adventist congregation, a denomination we don't know very much about. 

These people have a food pantry of their own, and apparently it is nothing like the one pictured above. My husband visited and told me that it is in a building separate from the church, and in addition to the shelves and shelves of canned goods, there are numerous refrigerators and freezers. It is big. And it seems that the township -- or somebody else in authority -- has told the Adventists that they cannot continue their food pantry ministry because the building doesn't have a bathroom.

Undaunted, they have contacted this architect to help them figure out how to remedy this situation. 

It is not a small feat to add a bathroom to a property that lacks one. And these Adventists understand that it is going to cost them several thousand dollars to meet this requirement.

They are so committed to their mission that they have not even considered closing their pantry because of the unanticipated expense. 

Think about it: This congregation, because of where they are located, understands better than my congregation what it means to have a food pantry. They are far from a wealthy church. Certainly the contingency line in their budget is not sufficient to cover these costs. 

However, they will raise whatever money is necessary to be allowed to continue their outreach effort to feed the hungry.

I can't help wondering whether my own church would be as dedicated.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

New Home Party

Yep. It's a blurry picture. But that's okay. She's not the sort that likes a whole lot of attention focused on her.

She's my niece's daughter, technically my grand-niece, and she's an accomplished young woman.

As my other niece said in her toast today, back when Kristin's grandmother (my sister) was Kristin's age, she couldn't get a credit card without a co-sign from a husband or father. And this week Kristin is buying a house. On her own. Just a couple of years out of college.

And I felt that a celebration was in order. A house-warming type of celebration to help her get started. And so today many of the women of the family gathered for a brunch in Kristin's honor. 

This year I've heard a lot about kick-ass women, primarily on the political front. And I'm pretty tickled to have a bunch of kick-ass women in my own family. Here we are, ranging from an octogenarian to a 1-year-old, the latter having just learned to wave, she waved herself to exhaustion. Three other kick-ass nieces were unable to be present, one traveling in Europe, one working, and the third participating in a lacrosse tournament.

We had a good time. We told stories. We ate delicious food. We laughed. We learned interesting things. And when we were done, everyone took home a house pot holder as a memento of our good time together.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Here's The Plan

I just love it when a plan comes together. And this one has really come together.  Let me tell you about it.

Our church has a program where each year the income from an investment account is made available to the congregation in the form of Ministry Grants. The amounts range from $100 to $2000.

Our little quilting group, of which about half are church members, decided we would like to do something for the women and children who take refuge at our county's shelter for those experiencing domestic violence. We agreed that each of the eight of us would piece a top from her stash or scraps and we'd apply for a grant of $900 to be used for batting, backing, binding, and possibly machine quilting.

Here's what happened:

1. A friend of ours, Emily, who is not a member of our group but is an avid quilter with considerable stash, lost a family member with a massive stash and Emily was charged with disposing of it. She made it available to our group.
2. Ruth, our youngest member, showed up one night with about fifteen tops that she'd made and didn't have plans for and offered them for the cause.

3. Marsha, our arbitrator of disputes (whose services thus far have not been needed) got down on the floor with Ruth's tops and Emily's late cousin's stash, and matched up fabrics to piece for backs and fabrics to use for bindings for all of Ruth's tops.

4. Each of us took home a few of the tops to finish.

5. We were approved for the grant!

6. We contacted the pastor and president of church council and asked to have a specific Sunday in the autumn set aside to bless these quilts, to have a representative from the domestic abuse shelter come to the church to answer questions, and to have her take the quilts to the shelter which is in an undisclosed location.

7. The pastor approved our plan.

8. The president of council told us that his wife had, many years earlier, been one of the three founding members of the shelter! She was excited to learn of our plan and once the date is set for the dedication of our quilts, she will endeavor to have the other two women attend church that day.

I brought home three of Ruth's tops and ultimately took on two more to finish. Three quilts are tied and bound; the first two on this page were pieced by Ruth and the third one, the Louisiana pinwheels, is the top I pieced to donate. One top is much larger than the others and I'll be having our local machinist quilt it. The other two that I have are child-size, and I'll be trying to get them finished before the end of July.

Could this be any more perfect?