Thursday, October 21, 2010

Through the Eyes of a Student

I have been taking some time to reflect lately. It has been a particularly rough three years--physically and emotionally. I needed to take some time to remember my roots, my passions. To remember my life. On Monday I received an email from a stranger, a woman who was doing a paper on leadership for her graduate program. She had seen a post on one of my online lectures that her father-in-law had been my mentor and wanted to ask if I would answer a few questions about his leadership abilities. As he died many years earlier, she felt whatever I had to say would be useful to her and would help his son as well.

I had a wonderful visit with my former mentor. The reflection time allowed me to revisit my own self, my dreams and accomplishments as well.

The majority of my relationship with Ben was as his student in my undergraduate program at Portland State University. Most of what I will tell you is anecdotal as, like most students, I was wrapped up in my own learning and progress.

The picture is following my graduation ceremony. I had wanted my parents and sons to meet Ben. How typical is this picture: student glowing with self-congratulation; mentor glowing with pride in his student.

Because of Ben’s personality, caring, and leadership, I came to share his passion for speaking. To this day I model my classes as he did, teach them in a very similar manner, and always hope to evoke the same joy of speaking publicly. I am a teacher because I love teaching. I am a good teacher because of Ben’s guidance. I am a passionate teacher because I had the role model of Ben Padrow.

This is what I wrote to his daughter-in-law.

Ben was always a hands-on instructor. He had so much knowledge and cared so much about public speaking and rhetoric that he imparted it with decision and passion. He assumed and expected his students would also gain this passion for rhetoric.

When he was working on something, he would present it to the class. I believe he did this for two reasons—preparation and as a model. Oh and the third reason: he loved to perform! His style of speaking, his delivery, his love of the history of this discipline always shined through as he spoke. He was truly a role model for his students.

As a graduate student, I did not take courses from Ben but we would sit and chat when we had time. At this particular moment, I was having a particularly rough term—love interest problems, children problems (I was a returning student with two small children) and the cherry on top was that I had just taken a tough exam in another course that I had decided I had failed. He allowed me to sit in his office and rant and rave at myself, how I was failing, how I didn’t have it in me.

After I started winding down with my ranting, he gave me sage advice. Never one to soft-soap his ideas, he said (and this is a direct quote remembered after 30 years), “After you have stopped flogging yourself, ask yourself what you have learned from this [experience].” Whoa. That stopped me in my tracks and allowed me to see that I can do anything by learning from my mistakes. It also taught me I could take a few moments and lick my wounds before I move forward. I have used this same advice for my sons as they grew up and for my students and colleagues.

On Ben’s nomination, I was selected as the graduate speaker for graduation for my undergraduate degrees (I graduated with two degrees and one minor—I was a returning woman student overachiever). It was an honor—that the college trusted me, but above all that Ben thought I was a worthy speaker. He also gave a speech that year at graduation.

Even though he had his own stuff to deal with, he promised to help me get comfortable using a microphone and talking to such a large crowd. What I liked about Ben was he rarely asked me to change what I wanted to say. He rarely said to do this or do that; he simply would ask me what I wanted to accomplish by what I was doing. As I practiced my speech using a mic in front of him, he asked me this question in a couple of places. It was afterward when I went home and looked at my speech that I could then see what he was asking. I tweaked my speech.

Ben gave me (and many other students—not a unique thing just to me) a card that said I was now a card-carrying member of the human race and worthy of all rights granted to me as such. It was a hokey little card, but it was handed to me with such care. It was something important to Ben and thus it became important to me. I carried this card with me until it began to tatter. I then removed it from my wallet and put it in my treasure box.

Ben believed in me, as he believed in many of his students. His desire for us to succeed was obvious. His desire for us to set forth something important for the future was obvious. In this, we all have come together.


Thursday, October 14, 2010

Quilting Gallery Contest

I made this quilt for my step daughter when she was having a hard time. It is a scrappy quilt that I named "Make Happy." I have entered a picture of this quilt in a contest on the Quilting Gallery. They have a weekly contest that people view the entries and vote for their favorite.

If you like this quilt, I would appreciate it if you would take a moment to vote for it. Voting is from Friday, October 15 through Sunday October 17.

The URL is

Thank You!

Monday, September 06, 2010

Some Gifties for My Friends

Each year (this is the second annual) on Facebook (Doris Werkman is my other name) I have a giftie giveaway. I post in March that the first five friends who respond to the post will get something made by me. The first year I had seven people respond, so I made seven different gifts. This year I also had seven. I work on these things over the summer and then in the end of August or first of September I show them off. Here are this year's gifts.

This is a wallhanging for my friend kammie in the Bay Area.

This welcome banner is for my friend in Washington.

This is a bookcover for my friend Debbie in Lousiana.

These are candle mats for my friend in Missouri.

These are coasters for my friend in Missouri.

This is a shopping bag for my friend in Portland (she has to fill it herself!).

These are tea towels for my friend in Michigan.

I'll be doing this again next March!

Saturday, September 04, 2010

It's All About Summer

I love summer. I love the smell of summer, the long hot days, sunshine. I love the freedom summer brings. The days stay around long enough to allow adventures to happen. Even if they don't happen, the potential is there. Games played with the rules changing after dark. Swinging high enough to touch your toes to the tree leaves. Green and yellow and flowers laughing in the sun. Friends and family spontaneously visiting, staying for hot dogs. Laughter until it is too dark to see one another. Swimming and camping and just being.

Fall is nature grieving the loss of summer. Winter is just there...waiting for summer to arrive again. And spring is hopeful, celebrating summer's soon arrival.

And then there is summer again and sunshine and laughter.

Friday, July 02, 2010


Finally received the pathology report. Benign!

Now I have to tell you, getting this news was not easy. The arrogant surgeon decided the news wasn't important enough to call me and tell me. Instead he apparently has mailed the info to me. It was only my calling multiple places trying to find the news that I heard.

I don't like this doctor. How rude!


Successful Surgery

It's been seven days since I had breast surgery and I am doing very well. The incision--about 4" across my left breast--isn't very painful and I think I am doing well. I still get tired more easily but I am doing more and more each day.

The doctor told Doug that he removed all the tumor, with no cells left behind. I am still waiting to hear the pathology report, but even if it turns out to be malignant, we are finished. The way I see it, the only way to successfully deal with a phyllodes tumor is to remove it. It is removed. Chances of recurring are less than 35 percent, so I am totally done here :)

The only real problem I am having is removing myself from Vicodin. I had this problem with oxycodone as I recovered from knee replacement in 2006. It took me months to withdraw from that drug. I was very careful, only using the Vicodin when needed. Since I didn't have that much pain, I only took maybe three-four a day for four days. This is my third day of withdrawal symptoms. I guess I have to accept that if I take any narcotic for pain, my body will fall in love with it and I will have to go through withdrawals.

Another problem is with my surgeon. I received a call from his nurse, canceling our check-up appointment. He fobbed me off to another doctor; my surgeon is now not available until sometime in August. The nurse didn't understand why this was offensive to me.

Ahh well. The rumor is removed, I'm not in much pain beyond the queasy stomach, anxiousness, and body sweats from narcotic withdrawal, and I've been able to sew quite a bit :) Too bad the surgeon didn't remove about a third from my right breast as well. Maybe give both of them a little lift...


Saturday, June 19, 2010

Catching Up On My Sewing

It's been a long while since I have been able to sew. Classes have been taking too much of my time. So now that school is out, I am able to put some things together and finish. Here are a few of my most recent quilts.

Daisy Mae is a fun wallhanging that helped me learn how to applique. I finished making the top last fall, but the poor thang has been sitting in my "to do" pile for a while. The pattern is from my cousin's online quilt store, Quilt Books U.S.A. It is a needleturned applique on a 3" pieced back.

Purple Haze was made from a free redwork pattern from Alex Anderson. I set the flowers on point and found this gorgeous purple batik for the lattice. The center piece is from Alex's Shadow Redwork book.

I also recently made these two quilts to give away to the Children's Relief Nursery, an organization that helps abused children and their parents. They were pretty fun to make. Rag Dolls is needleturned applique. Fairy dust was crayon-colored and then embroidered.

Rag Dolls:

Fairy Dust:

Just a week before, I made this little wallhanging for one of my favorite people who retired this year. One of his students drew a great picture of him, so I embroidered the portrait and framed it with fabric.

On to more sewing! Have a great time doing what you love.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Hugs from my Friends

What a surprise to me that the postal carrier handed me a big box Wednesday. When I opened it, I found it stuff-packed with goodies! My friends at the Quilting Bee forum on Delphi decided to shower me with all sorts of pieces of fabric--all polka dots! I LOVE POLKA DOTS! They are so happy and cheerful! These pieces of fabric were of all sizes. Some were fat quarters. Some were nickles. Some were just small 3" scraps. All colors, all dots.

Here's the bounty!

That was a wonderful surprise, the fabrics and the cards and the tea bags and the little prezzies. Notes of encouragement. Silly cards. Lots of love.

And then this morning, the postal carrier knocked on the door again, holding another box! This box was an even greater surprise. I opened the box and gasped, tears falling with love and warmth and happiness. What was in this package? I pulled out a beautiful quilt! My friend Sheryl made this happy quilt full of "Good Vibrations." Her note told me that when I was feeling badly, to wrap it around myself and think of her giving me a hug. I am taking it with me to the hospital in case something happens and I need to stay overnight.

But then nothing can possibly go wrong when my friends are all waiting for me with happy polka dot arms.


A Click a Day

I have been clicking this link for many years now. A click a day will help fund free mammograms for women who can not afford one.

The Breast Cancer Site

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Tumor Central Update

The news is in!

I am having a lumpectomy on June 24. When they do a biopsy on that baby and they find it is actually benign (they are not 100% certain right now because this type of tumor doesn't test well. I have students like that LOL), then we are finished. So basically he is doing a surgical biopsy so he can see better what it is. And because he doesn't really know anything without getting in there to look, he couldn't answer any of my questions. Recovery time is about two weeks. MUCH better than the alternative :)

If they find it is malignant (odds against), we go from there :)

Thanks all for the good thoughts :)

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

and then there was this tumor...

A while back I found a lump in my breast. Checked it every day a couple of times a day...yep it was still there. So I had a mammogram and then a sonogram. The doctor said that from the sonogram it didn't look exactly like cancer and yet it didn't look exactly like a simple fibroadenoma. In fact, the doctor told me she really didn't know what it was as she had never seen anything like it before. Interesting. I like being unique.

Monday I had a biopsy and received the results today. I have a benign Phyllodes tumor. A Phyllodes tumor is a fast-growing rare form (less than 1%--no wonder the doctor has not seen one before) of breast cancer. It is considered a form of breast cancer because it can change from a benign tumor to a malignant one in a snap. As it is very fast-growing, the doctor will take into consideration the rate of cell building, the history of my family, and other things before he decides what is best for my treatment. This tumor does not respond to chemo nor radiation; the only treatment is to remove it. There are two possibilities for removal: if it is "small" it will be a lumpectomy. If it is "large" it will be a mastectomy. I have no idea what measures make it "small" or "large." Mine is currently the size of a golf ball or a bit larger.

Since it is benign, I am thinking the doctor will allow us to wait until classes are over before it is removed--that is about three weeks. It won't grow that much larger in a few weeks (although it wasn't there three months ago and now it is larger than a golf ball! Softball anyone? :) )

So it's kinda cool. I have this anomaly that isn't life threatening at this time! If you are going to have something it don't get much better than that.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Cell Block Tango (He Had it Comin')

He had it coming, he had it coming
He only had himself to blame
If you'd have been there, if you'd have seen it
I betcha you would have done the same


Read an article in the paper while at my mom's about a woman who was sentenced 50 years to life for murdering her husband. A tragic story. A person was dead and another life wasted. But as I read her story, I kept hearing music from Chicago...

The woman found out her husband had been cheating on her and was devastated. She bought a gun so she could kill herself. She wandered the house, trying to find the best place to do this. First she walked into the kitchen and looked around. She had just cleaned it and didn't want to get it all messy. She wandered into the living room. No didn't want to ruin the couch. She also bypassed the bathroom and guest room. This was a real dilemma. She was so miserable and angst ridden and had no where to kill herself.

She then wandered into the bedroom. She saw her husband sleeping in their bed and turned her grief-stricken gun hand on him. She then told the court, "He was lying there like he didn't have a care in the world and I shot him."


They had it comin', they had it comin'
They had it comin' all along
'Cause if they used us and they abused us
How could they tell us that we were wrong?

He had it coming, he had it coming
He only had himself to blame
If you'd have been there, if you'd have seen it
I betcha you would have done the same

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Some Notes From the Road

I recently took a roadtrip down to see my mom in southern Cali. I was tired as I started out--overwhelmed with getting through the last term, feeling rather battered from personal and professional mis-perceptions, and exhausted from the two online public speaking classes. I didn't want to drive the 1000 miles, couldn't afford to drive the 1000 miles, and wanted someone to just take care of me. The magic of the road took care of all that.

The weather was perfect. Sunshiny and clear. I left a bit later than I wanted--it was nearly 6:30 a.m. when I hit the road. I was mentally grousing all the way from Portland to Eugene, grumbling under my breath and forgetting to listen to the music blaring through the car. Indigo Girls first thing and random CDs after that. I kept counting the mileage and the time and how long it would take me to get to Stockton (not much else between Stockton and Bakersfield to stop for the night. As much as I want to keep going as long as there is light, Stockton it is. Sometimes I call it Stinkton :) ). So I was driving tense, checking mileage, checking timing, grousing that I was driving, not listening to the best music around. A real fun time.

At some point between Eugene and Roseburg I started laughing at myself. "Geeze gurl," I thought. "You have been needing to get away from the house and the job and people for a long time now. And here you sit grousing?!" Then I remembered one of my philosophies of life: It is the journey, not the destination. So I settled in and enjoyed the ride.

As I continued south along I-5 heading to the Siskiyou mountain range, I noticed that clouds hung low over the mountains. The sun was all around but the clouds were hanging over the mountains, with the peaks peeking through them. They looked like a ring of white hair with a bald dome head. As I came closer and started passing the clouds, it was the strangest view of the clouds. Have you ever stared at one of those 3-D pictures that take a while but if you look at them right, they magically become a picture? You know how fake they look (because they are just computer 3-D drawings), being able to see around the items like they are hanging suspended in the sky? That's how these surrounding clouds looked. Like they had been created by a computer. (The clouds didn't look like this picture but I thought the picture was way cool. It is over Mt. Ashland, though.) And as I drove through the mountains, I would go in and out of these fake clouds--sunny then pea soup fog...sunny and then pea soup fog all the way up over the Siskiyou Pass and down again. Sunny as I hit California and stayed that way for the next week :)

As I passed the first weigh station in California I noticed how cool the CHP station looked--like a large Alpine Lodge.

Coming down through a pass in the Shasta National Forest moving in to Dunsmuir, the mountains were so large that the semi-trucks down the road a piece looked tiny. My little beetle was very tiny compared to the semis. Sure put my puny problems in perspective.

I spent the night in a Comfort Inn Motel in Stinkton. It was one of the worst motels I have stayed in through the years. The toilet wouldn't flush. I could never find the ice machine. I had no idea what channels I was watching as there was no information in the empty three-ring binder on the desk. Internet did work for me and I had a lovely chat with my cousin :) Although I must say that the Vagabond Inn in Redding coming home was even worse--toilet flushed but kept leaking and refilling all night, toilet seat kept coming off the toilet, could hear the flush from above cascading down next to my head, and it was pretty dirty. The Internet access didn't work either. BUT above all, the roach motel in Colinga where we stayed in 1980 tops everything!

Passing along I-5 corridor, I saw hundreds of small birds in formation. It was beautiful! They twisted and turned with the precision of a black and white psychedelic screen saver. Amazing art in real life.

Along the side of the freeway in an old junk yard, I saw an old rusted out Bookmobile. I loved our Bookmobile when I was a kid. There was no library near us out in the country, so twice a month (I think) the Bookmobile would come to my elementary school. The teachers would take their classes out to the library and later Mom would come pick us up from school and visit the library herself. I remember when I read my first book in one day and asked to go back to the library. Mom didn't believe that I had read the whole book until I told her the whole plot. I was in second grade and it was obviously time to move up to more complicated books. Less pictures and more words. One of my favorite of all time books is To Kill a Mockingbird. I checked it out from the bookmobile when I was maybe fourth grade. I loved the Bookmobile.

As I headed over Grapevine and Tejon Pass, I saw a huge store for Famous Footwear and wondered who was their audience? I mean do people stop there, thinking "Hey! I'm going over Grapevine and might need to get out and push! Perhaps I need some new cheap shoes!"

Coming home the following Friday I was lost in the magic of the music. As I listened to the Beatles I remembered something else. It was time for me to "get back to where I once belonged." It is time to work on finding my lost giggle bubble, to rediscover myself. I have been unhappy for such a long time. It is time.