Sunday, February 17, 2019


During the recent clean-and-reorganize session down in the sewing studio, I uncovered sixteen blocks from that Tula Pink book that I had begun and apparently abandoned. They were mostly greens with five that had rust in them and a couple that had purple. I was astonished. I stuck them up on the wall and for the life of me couldn't come up with a plan. The colors were kind of harsh. They didn't seem to relate to each other, even though they sort of did. I was about to just stick them in the box I'm getting ready for a scrap swap next month when my husband came along and took a look. He wasn't anywhere near as disenchanted as I was. 

"Make a couple more purple ones," he suggested, "and we'll see what that does." So I did and then we started playing with possible arrangements. The orange diagonal was his idea. The cream lattice was mine. He thought that orange cornerstones down the middle would help to accentuate the orange stripe. He was right. He thought that green cornerstones on the green side and purple cornerstones on that side would be good. I made the cornerstones and then, on a whim, reversed the plan, putting the green on the purple side and vice versa. Some of the rows are sewn together. By the end of tomorrow, they all will be.

And -- voila! -- we've got a baby quilt that has some interesting stuff going on. 

Thursday, February 14, 2019


Himself and I are finding that recently the topics of our conversation together go back in time to our earliest years together. I suppose that this is typical for people who have been together as long as we have. The other day we talked about something we have never talked about before and it has stayed with me because it is something I had never thought about in depth.

We hadn't been married six months when we left everyone and everything we knew to move to a state two-days drive from Near Philadelphia. It wasn't our choice. This was 1968 -- you may remember this as the Vietnam War Era -- and when the draft board promised Joe that he'd be called up in just two weeks to serve in the Army or Marines for three years my then-fiancee considered his options. Soldiers were needed in Vietnam and there was every reason to believe that would be where he would go once his basic training was complete. A lying bastard Navy recruiter assured him that if he enlisted for four years, with his education as a draftsman, he'd spend most of his time on shore duty; there was no call for draftsmen in Saigon, Danang, or other places in the news. We had a cartoon showing a young man being chased by the draft board, running into the arms of the Navy recruiter. This was us. We married with a three-month extension before active duty began.

So once basic training was completed, we were off to Pensacola, Florida for a one-year stint. Arriving in mid-January, we quickly found and rented a cute little duplex house with a blooming camellia bush  on the front lawn, adopted a kitten, and set up housekeeping. We were 22, about to turn 23.

Then Joe reported in for duty and learned that the draftsman he was replacing, Paul, was leaving shortly for a one-year tour in Vietnam, replacing the draftsman he had replaced in Pensacola.

The physical manifestations for me began almost immediately. I had intermittent bouts of gastrointestinal distress. Worse than that were the headaches: The first one was so horrible that Joe took me to the emergency room where it was diagnosed as a tension headache. They were to occur once or twice a week for almost that whole year, putting me to bed with heavy pain medication.

Until this past week, more than fifty years later, we never talked about the strain we were under during that year. Or how my health suffered from the stress. Until this past week, I never put into detailed words the many questions needing answers that would be a year in coming: Would Joe go to Vietnam? Would he return? Would he return as a whole person? Would his hands -- his livelihood -- be intact? Would I become a widow at 23? Where would I spend that year? Would I stay in Florida where I had a secure job and could rent a small place (because by then we were living in enlisted housing that we'd have to leave once Joe was no longer on staff) but where all my relationships were short and transient? Would I return to Near Philadelphia and spend that year living with my in-laws? Would the in-laws allow the dog and cat? Would I be able to find a job Near Philadelphia that would allow me to rent a place that would allow the dog and cat? Would the very young marriage survive a year apart?

As it turned out, the answer to the first question was "no," rendering all the others moot. When the year was nearly over, the Navy Captain that I was working for kindly offered to have Joe extended for a second year in Florida; at the end of that time, this same man arranged for him to spend the remainder of his enlistment on the most benign kind of sea duty possible, a tender that seldom left port and even then for only four days at a time.

All of this has been swirling around in my mind for several days now, almost as though I were living this on-going trauma again. I am writing it all now to see if that might make it go away.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

An Extravagant Welcome

A few years ago, my blog friend Lynn shared pictures of a quilt that she was making for her church. It took her a couple of years, and she generously documented her progress so that others could make similar quilts. Lynn named her quilt "An Extravagant Welcome." I thought it was a beautiful quilt (it's pictured above) and nothing would do but that I would have to have one. I organized a block swap and the participants wrote little tiny biographies about the people that they had made; there were people of many races, occupations, sexualities, you name it. There was even a green-complected witch dressed in a Hallowe'en print outfit. My finished quilt, pictured below, was given to my younger granddaughter for her bed.

A couple of weeks ago at our congregation's annual meeting, someone raised the question of flying a rainbow flag outside of the church to indicate our welcome to  LGBTQ people. A respectful discussion ensued. Someone raised the point that by extending a specific welcome to a particular constituency, we might be leaving out others, that we might be saying something like, "If you haven't yet figured out exactly where you stand on every issue surrounding sexuality, this isn't the place for you." We have LGBTQ members at our church but they aren't treated like something special; they are just like everyone else.

Somehow in my brain, this question connected to our pastor's recent sermon. He grew up in East Berlin and well remembers the Wall. He told us he had been taught that the Wall was to protect the citizens, to keep Evil Others out. But he knew that it was also to keep East Berliners in. I continue to think about the possible connection with the rainbow flag issue, and about another Wall much in the news today.

When we were in London this past autumn, I stopped by St. Paul's Covent Garden and saw their welcome sign. Instantly I knew that this Anglican church was definitely where this Lutheran would worship in the event she ever moved to London. This sign is truly An Extravagant Welcome.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

EPP Part One (she said optimistically)

I know a handful of quilters who have jumped on the EPP bandwagon. There's Blogless Bobbi who is a kind of a guru for the technique and Hibernating Blog Marsha who has a gorgeous hexagonal flimsy that she's been working on for, I think, three years; there's Donna who does Lucy Boston, and so many more. I have been filled with admiration at all of their efforts. Being a Dresden fan (I think I've made two, maybe three of 'em), when I saw this book, I bought it, determined to plunge in.

That was a year and a half ago, friends, and I'm still perched on the diving board. And I don't know why.

The instructions in the book are very clear. And I've got the guru as a close (geographically, relationally, etc.) friend. There's a twice-a-month group that meets about a half-hour away at a time that is convenient for me. The idea of a neat little self-contained portable project holds enormous appeal.

So what's the hang up?

I wish I knew.

Monday, February 11, 2019

February Decluttering

Is it a February thing? Or just a cosmic coincidence? I spent much of last week cleaning, organizing, and downstashing my sewing studio (I use the term very loosely as the space where I sew is simply one quarter of our lower level). Much of my fabric inventory lives in large Rubbermaid tubs, not beautifully displayed in color-coded stacks on open shelves. And I've never been the sort of person who puts everything away just right immediately after use. It gets, erm, untidy down there. What interests me right now is that some of the bloggers I follow have also been cleaning, organizing, and purging. Right at the same time. Is there some urge that comes upon a quilter once Groundhog Day is past, that she must neaten and straighten?

Oh, well. In the process, I came across a very small ziplock bag that contained sixteen squares that finished at three inches, all pieced from hand-dye scraps. Left over from a baby quilt a year or two ago, I'd forgotten I had them.

Once the former disaster of a studio was semi-respectable (I still have that big metal cabinet and the drawers and small shelves to deal with), I rewarded myself by making another baby quilt from the blocks. Now that it is finished, I wish that I'd made those colorful border stones smaller, one inch finished rather than two. As I sit here typing this, I'm considering taking them out and doing just that. We'll see.

Saturday, February 09, 2019

On Values

So here we have the now-famous headline, the genesis of which gave rise to made up part of our lunchtime conversation today. Himself, it seems, knew that Mr. Bezos was mighty rich ($150 billion net worth according to Google), but hadn't heard about Mr. Pecker's alleged extortion/blackmail (you choose) attempt. So I recounted it for him to the best of my knowledge.

And we kind of sat there for a while, kind of stupefied.

At last, I said something like, "It's kind of hard, isn't it, to understand a person's values when they are very different from one's own?" Himself concurred. We wondered about the various aspects of the story:

  • Why would anyone want to have $150 billion?
  • Why would anyone take a nude selfie?
  • Why would anyone want to look at someone else's nude selfie?
  • Why would anyone worth $12 million (David Pecker, ibid.) want more money? 
  • Why would someone threaten to share someone else's penis picture unless certain demands were met?
  • Need I continue?
Somewhere in a psychology or sociology course I took long ago, I ran into the concept that when we like someone we tend to believe that said someone is like us, i.e., holds a similar value system. I suspect that Mr. Bezos and Mr. Pecker have more in common than either of them would be happy about. 

I had a kind of a values clash recently with someone I liked; therefore, I surmised that we held similar values, despite my being a classic bleeding-heart liberal and the other person's being a dyed-in-the-wool conservative. Because I liked this person (a funny, generous, and articulate {qualities I find important] individual), I guess I thought that the political labels notwithstanding, we felt similarly about the important things, i.e., 
  • feeding the hungry
  • welcoming the stranger
  • separation of church and state
  • a woman's right to choose
  • equal rights for all
  • again, need I continue?
I was surprised, therefore, when this person wrote on Facebook for all the world to see, that s/he (I will not use "they" as a singular pronoun) found the values of Liberals "repulsive and repugnant." I'm still reeling at what feels like a very peculiar betrayal. Unsure how to handle this, for a couple of weeks I've just given the person a wide berth while I try to figure out a kind way to say something like, "You know, given the givens, I think you and I are better suited to being (calling on Facebook terminology) Acquaintances rather than Friends."

There's no connection between the Bezos/Pecker story and my/my Acquaintance's story. But somehow it feels like there is.

Thursday, February 07, 2019

RBG and me

This afternoon Himself and I went to the movies. We like to attend the show that starts about 4:00 in the afternoon. Today we saw "On the Basis of Sex," based on the early life of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. It was an excellent film and provided a lot of conversation on the drive home.

Mindful that I am in the deep-rose-color stage of life, according to Erikson, I'm aware that in the past two years I have done a lot of thinking about what my life has meant and how best to use the time that remains.

We'd seen the other RBG movie a couple of months ago, the documentary called, simply, "RBG," and I thought at that time about how much this woman has accomplished, and how many have benefitted from what she has done. 

I've always been a behind-the-scenes kind of person. Organizations elect me secretary, to take the notes and preserve the record. Most of my jobs have been support roles -- secretary, dissertation typist, assistant to head of school -- and I have always relished being part of the lead person's success. At times old childhood messages ("You HAVE the ability. Why don't you do better/more?") gave me pause, making me wonder if there was something wrong with me that I didn't crave limelight. As a seminarian, I learned to construct and deliver a sermon and became very good at both, but I never felt the call to preach and preside. I knew I belonged in a hospital setting, meeting folks at the bedside.

Most  of us are not granted the "big picture" accomplishments, such as those of Mrs. Ginsburg. Some of us supported the triumphs of others or made our own smaller differences. My husband, an architect, designed buildings -- most importantly (in my view) a wonderful addition to our church -- that will live on long after we are gone. Basically a quiet man, he doesn't talk about how he feels about that. To me, it is a "medium picture" accomplishment. My own are of the "very small picture" variety: As a hospital chaplain, I held and listened to individuals beset by grave illness or unexpected loss. I am convinced that the world needs all of our accomplishments for good, from the ones that impact thousands of people to those that help far fewer. Some of us serve on the Supreme Court; others throw starfish back into the ocean.