Monday, October 01, 2018

Given a Little Time

Marline, me, Richard, September 2018
No one leaves a high school reunion shrugging their shoulders, thinking, "Well, that's over."  We either leave it wondering why we came, happy we came, or totally energized that we have reconnected with old friends.  This year we celebrated 50 years after graduation.  Fifty years having left teen years behind.  Fifty years as adults.  There were 130 of us celebrating our youth.  Fifty years.

It was a grand celebration.  Thanks to social media like Facebook, many of us have kept up with each others lives to some degree; so having a face-to-face party was grand.  Some of us haven't seen one another in 50 years.  It was a total love fest.

The first day of the Reunion Weekend was a pizza party.  I spent most my time flitting around, camera in hand, hugs available.  The pizza parlor was glad to have us; the line for orders and drinks was out the door :)  Old friends greeting, chatting, laughing...the best of times. 

The second night of the weekend was the actual reunion
dinner.  We held it at Kellogg West at Cal Poly in Pomona, CA.  My good friend Richard and I spent the first half hour greeting incoming.  Everyone looked so good,  We might be older, but damnit we were pretty :)  

We honored five of our former teachers.  What fun that was, chatting with the teachers like we were peers.  But, laughingly, we all still called them "Mr." or "Mrs." rather than their first names.  They even asked us to call them by their first names...most of us couldn't. :)

Some of the fun things we had was a photobooth, some goofy trophy give-aways, and a presentation of Quilts of Valor to our veterans.  The idea of a photobooth was great--all of the committee were pleased with the idea but it almost didn't come to be.  We sent out notices early so people could rearrange their lives around the event, so confirmations were slow in coming.  Fortunately as the event neared, we swelled to over-expected.  

The Elizabeth Taylor Award was a tie--it went to Patti and to Mike with four marriages each.  The Ponce de Leon Award went to Nancy, who still looked 18.  The Marco Polo Award went to Alan, who came out from Maine.  The George Burns Award went to Gary and Char, who were married a week after we graduated.  And finally the Rose Kennedy Award was a tie--it went to Harriett and to Patti, who each have 18 grands and great-grands.

The short ceremony in presenting Quilts of Valor to our veterans was moving and lovely.  We presented 10 quilts during the reunion.  I also presented two others during the weekend to two Vietnam vets who were friends of mine, but not of our class.

The final day of the weekend was the picnic.  By now us old people were pretty tired.  The group was smaller but the chatting and laughter was just as grand. 
This bbq gave we who party hardy a chance to relax and talk more.  We had plenty of food, a nice group of about 50, and lots of hugs.

The amazing thing about a reunion is that the older we get, the less we hold grudges and the more we seek out childhood memories.  People we really didn't care for became interesting classmates we wish we would have known better 50 years earlier.  Old loves became mellow loves.  Playmates became precious to us again.  Our 10th reunion was fun to see each other after 10 years but our 50th is much more nostalgic, softer, mellow..with still great life to play and goof around.  For a few days we were 68, but 18 again.

Steve and me October, 1967

Friday, March 09, 2018

Buck Up, It'll Be Okay...

“It’s all fine to say, “Time will heal everything, this too shall pass away. People will forget”—and things like that when you are not involved, but when you are there is no passage of time, people do not forget and you are in the middle of something that does not change.” ― John Steinbeck, Cannery Row

About 19 million American adults are living with major depression.  Blogger Brittany Graziano  describes depression insightfully: Just imagine. Imagine having a flood of emotions run through your entire mind and body, causing all sorts of physical changes and intrusive, unwanted thoughts. Now, imagine that feeling, that nervous, anxious, overwhelming feeling that would give you... 

Depression is more than just feeling sad or going through a rough patch--hell we've all be through those times and know it will be okay in the end.  No, it's a serious mental health condition that requires understanding and medical care; it can be devastating to the one with depression as well as their family.

I can only speak as a mother who wants her sons to be healthy and loving and caring.  Both my sons are great men.  They care about others and communities, about politics and fairness, about love.  I adore my sons.  I look up to them as they find their ways through life.  But one of my sons suffers from depression.  His depression manifests itself in anger, in frustration, anxiety.  These emotions can guide his way.  His phone calls to me are at times long and ranting and rambling until he exhausts himself and we can move into more cheery discussions.  I often leave our conversations exhausted, depleted, anxious.  I mother-worry about both my sons; my worry focuses more on one than the other.

The Mayo Clinic lists these symptoms:
Depression signs and symptoms vary from person to person. They can include:

  • Feelings of sadness, tearfulness, emptiness or hopelessness
  • Angry outbursts, irritability or frustration, even over small matters
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in most or all normal activities, such as sex, hobbies or sports
  • Insomnia or sleeping too much
  • Tiredness and lack of energy, so even small tasks take extra effort
  • Changes in appetite — reduced appetite and weight loss or increased cravings for food and weight gain
  • Anxiety, agitation or restlessness
  • Slowed thinking, speaking or body movements
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt, fixating on past failures or blaming yourself for things that aren't your responsibility
  • Trouble thinking, concentrating, making decisions and remembering things
  • Frequent or recurrent mention of death, suicidal thoughts, suicide attempts or suicide
  • Unexplained physical problems, such as back pain or headaches

As a family support member, trying to help someone who is depressed is a challenge, leaving us feeling helpless and overwhelmed.  I haven't yet learned how to be a better support.  I try to be a good listener.  I try not to argue or tell him it will all work out.  I try not to solve his problems...but I am his mom and I do want it to work out, so the pollyanna in me says so.  I'm his mom and, as a single mom to him for over half his life, a problem-solver.  Plus I get defensive when his ranting and raving move into my faults as his mother.  So yeah, I eventually argue the I see them against his facts as he sees them.  *sigh*

Again the Mayo Clinic:
What you can do for your loved one:

  • Encourage sticking with treatment. If your relative or friend is in treatment for depression, help him or her remember to take prescribed medications and to keep appointments.
  • Be willing to listen. Let your loved one know that you want to understand how he or she feels. When the person wants to talk, listen carefully, but avoid giving advice or opinions or making judgments. Just listening and being understanding can be a powerful healing tool.

  • Give positive reinforcement. People with depression may judge themselves harshly and find fault with everything they do. Remind your loved one about his or her positive qualities and how much the person means to you and others.
  • Offer assistance. Your relative or friend may not be able to take care of certain tasks well. Give suggestions about specific tasks you'd be willing to do, or ask if there is a particular task that you could take on.
  • Help create a low-stress environment. Creating a regular routine may help a person with depression feel more in control. Offer to make a schedule for meals, medication, physical activity and sleep, and help organize household chores.
  • Locate helpful organizations. A number of organizations offer support groups, counseling and other resources for depression. For example, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, employee assistance programs and many faith-based organizations offer help for mental health concerns.
  • Encourage participation in spiritual practice, if appropriate. For many people, faith is an important element in recovery from depression — whether it's involvement in an organized religious community or personal spiritual beliefs and practices.
  • Make plans together. Ask your loved one to join you on a walk, see a movie with you, or work with you on a hobby or other activity he or she previously enjoyed. But don't try to force the person into doing something.
Depression is harsh.  Depression is all-consuming.  It can make every day tasks seem overwhelmingly impossible.  Self-esteem plummets.   It is exhausting.  

It breaks my heart. 
Link to Telephone, Hotlines and Help lines

Monday, March 05, 2018

Dream a Little Dream

When my sweet Aunt Jenny died, the community where she lived held a memorial.  She had been making quilts since she was young--my grandmother made them, my cousins make them; it is a family thing.  She often sewed the bindings on charity quilts for her group.  People displayed some of the gorgeous quilts she made or worked on over the years.  I wandered around the open room, looking at these works of art, thinking, "WOW."  Then I started looking closer at the quilts and realized I could do that!  I could make a quilt.  

When I returned home, I bought a book of blocks with directions, some fabric, some batting and started sewing.  That year everyone received something.  Mom, the large block I made was framed and hung with the needle and thread woven into the frame (it is in my sewing area in the apartment in California).  My sister, my sons, all received decorative pillows with some block on it.  And I made a little block wallhanging for us.  I was on my way.

Over the years I have now made hundreds of quilts.  The majority of them have been given to kids or organizations for kids, but the family and friends have received a few.  At first I pieced and quilted all the tops on my little Husky Star.  What a trooper it is.  I still use it when I take classes because it travels nicely.  I upped my sewing machine to a Husqvarna Viking Sapphire (I love Husqvarna's and as you can see, they have been my dream machine since I started sewing on my little Singer back in 1968; it was my graduation gift from my folks)

Then I started paying people to quilt the larger ones like double bed size through king...and dreamed of owning a longarm quilting machine.  Alas, no space.  No money.  Nada.  So I continued to quilt what I could on my sweet machine.

I thought through many scenarios where I could get my longarm.  The neighbor's house was for sale and the back door is just steps away from our would make a PERFECT sewing/quilting space.  I could even have retreats there with sleepovers.  We could rent a space in the neighborhood and make that into a quilting space.  We could build onto the house and create a complete studio.  Then when we sell, it could be a den or music room or whatever.  I really like that idea.  I could see the French doors leading off into the space, the sewing station, the quilting frame, shelves and cabinets.  Doug vetoed that one. 

Then I decided to convert my half of the garage into a 200 sq ft quilting space and we set off to have it become something real.  Now you don't really want to know all of those hassles...but alas it didn't happen.  Instead we built a shed.

We hired Tuff Shed to build us a marvelous quilting studio.  As it is no more than 200sq ft and doesn't have it's own electricity, it didn't need a building permit.  YippeeSkippee!  Space built...longarm machine and frame delivered--a Juki TL2200QVP Quilt Virtuoso Pro Longarm with Grace Virtuoso King Frame.  And after a year-long battle with JUKI to get it running right (thank you Montavilla Sewing!), I had my space and my magic quilting machine.

I am trying to improve my quilting but I am still rather shaky.  I can't do fancy stuff, but I keep trying.  Those little kids who receive the quilts only care that they are warm and cuddly and filled with love.  Friends send me tops to quilt and donate; great to help me practice.  I have made a couple commissioned quilts and warn the receivers that I am learning...learning...learning.  It works.

And now...oh yeah and now.  I named the studio and Doug is making me a Barn Quilt for the outside wall.  It will be a Jacob's Ladder block with the name through the middle: Daisy Quilts. 


Thursday, February 22, 2018

I Hate When Snow Gets Over My Tires!

Photo found on Google Images: Romania
When I first met my husband, he lived in Pittsburgh and I lived in Portland.  We met in an online group (41Plus on Internet Relay Chat) back in 1996.  For the first year we mostly chatted online and occasionally talked on the phone, visiting face-to-face infrequently.  It was winter and it had recently snowed in Pittsburgh.  He said he loved to walk in the snow at night when it is falling gently and the world is lit from the snow.  All is silent, he said, with only his footprints showing anyone was around.  It was a lovely picture he painted and I responded with my famous statement, "Yes.  I love a concept."

Zoe love the snow
See, I don't really want to be out in it for any reason.  I just love to see it falling out my window, landing on the trees and the grass.  I love to see it first thing in the morning while it is all fresh and beautiful, before people have driven over the roads and brought the reality that there are other people in the world.  I have no desire to play, throw snowballs, ski, sled, nor make snow angels.  Hell, I wouldn't be able to get up if I laid down to make a snow angel.  I love to watch kids, watch families, dogs play in the snow.  But me?  Hot chocolate, Oreos, and a good book.

Doug agreed that he really hates when snow gets over the tires and he has to a teeny bit...dig all the way out of his alleyway. And I laughed!  I said, "Hahaha!  Snow doesn't gets over the tires!"  

Understand our different references.
Pittsburgh snow:
Portland snow:

This week we have been hit with winter weather.  Nothing like last year's three snow storms, but we have had a little bit of lovely winter this week.  The part of the world that gets SNOW (rather than our sno) laughs at us that a few inches of the white stuff will shut down the city.  My elder son said when people make fun that we can't drive in the snow, they are talking about him.  

Because we don't often get snow--maybe an inch or two, once or twice a year at most--we love to take photos of the fluffy stuff.  So here's my photos of our yard.

It melted down a bit, froze overnight and then more snow arrived.  No pictures of the following morning with more inches over the small bit here.

I sent some pictures to family and friends in Southern California.  "Wow!  Lots of snow!" was the response.  If I had sent them to friends back east, they might have smiled and said, "What?  You didn't go out shopping in that teeny bit?"

It's all about perspective, isn't it?

A snow angel I did not make (Google images)

Monday, February 19, 2018

What is That Knob Thingy Doing There?

Here's the deal.  Sewing is never an exact science; mistakes are often thought of as "creative changes" to a pattern.  We incorporate the little booboos into the quilt or the shirt and call it a day.  But sometimes that creativity ruins the flow of the pattern, the style of the clothing, the look.  Those are the booboos where we have to start doing the frog-stitch: we rip it rip it rip it.  And the handy little tool called a seam ripper is the best way to frog.

I'm not going to show you how to use the seam ripper. It's not difficult and a great many have already done this online.  So, go find a great YouTube to show you how it's done, or just follow this link:
How To Use a Seam Ripper

Nope, I'm not going to tell you how to use the ripper itself;  going to tell you about that little ball on the short tip of the ripper and what to do with it. 

Some people think the little red ball is just a pretty little decorative knob that protects fingers and fabrics from damage when using the ripper.  Some people buy rippers without a red knob.  I used to think it was, you know, just there looking pretty.  But this glorious red knob on this marvelous frog-stitch tool has a wonderful purpose (was that enough hyperbole?).

Most people hold the ripper with the long-pointy part down, like in this picture.  That's because most people only use the long-pointy part when they rip it.  And if you have a small amount of seam ripping to do, it's perfect.  But what if you have a whole border to take off on your king-sized quilt top?  Or a long seam along your ankle-length dress?  Picking and pulling and picking and pulling would take ages.  That's where the short-knobbed side comes in.  You can simply turn the ripper over with the knob down and zip along the seam.

1.  Start with the first couple stitches undone. 

2.  Keep the ripper at a slightly upper angle and catch the stitches inside the sharp "j" area that is between the long pointer on top and the knobbed pointer on bottom.

3.  Start zipping, holding the top fabric taunt.  Keep the fabric and the zipper straight. I tend to keep my thumb and finger on the knob to keep it straight.  Some people lay the fabric on a table and tug it a little while they are zipping in order to keep it taunt.

See how it is at a slight angle and fabric is taunt.  By the way, I don't usually keep the top fabric away from the bottom fabric, but am showing you the ripper as it zips.

4.  Zip along.  If your fabric gets caught, stop or you will cut the fabric.  Sometimes you need to remove the little pieces of thread trapped between the seam and the ripper.

5.  Easy peasy ripping.  All because of that sweet little red knob that's been hanging around on the ripper forever. 

Happy frogging!!