Monday, December 22, 2014

The Journey

In 1994 I found life on the Internet, introduced to me through my former romantic partner and best friend, Scott.  Over the years I have met hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people through chatting on the Internet, many with whom I am still close friends 20 years later.  I would frequently drive down to the Bay area for a long weekend to have an Internet party with the chatters.  Every summer I would take a trek across the United States and meet up with many others.

One of the things I learned is that the people I was virtually meeting were genuine delightful people and if we chatted long enough, I could weed out the icky ones.  I was smitten by a man I met briefly on the channel a group of us used and we met for dinner when I drove through his town.  A romance bloomed.  No, not just bloomed but immediately hit flashpoint intensely hot.  The distance was long and far apart.  We tried to make it work for about a year and then gave it up.
The Journey
The journey brings
Joyful delight in the
Surprise of the velocity
The synchronicity
And the easy peace
Blends with the sobering logic
The realities
Of distance and freedom and lives
We wish on the moment
As we travel the night through the stars
And hold to the now
Vacillating between the dichotomy
Of the journey and the reality
.....we momentarily walk away
never leaving.....
.....with no place to put hands
soaking in sweet succulant richness.....
.....except to wave
and living the memories.....
.....for the realities never fade
we smile.....
And the journey continues
Touching us lightly, suredly
For the future is this moment
And a magical wish is made on guiding stars

my fella
I vowed to never again have a long distance romance.  It was too difficult being apart.  It was too difficult to let it go.  And then a mutual friend introduced me to my future husband.  He lived in Pittsburgh, PA.  I lived in Portland, OR.  I fought it, giving him every reason to run away screaming.  And then he won me over.  Now, 18 years later, I am still in awe of this person who brings me such happiness and joy (and grief and irritation ;) ).

As I sit to watch the tree lights blink and twinkle and bring magic to our little world, I am reminded how thankful I am to have been brought to this very specific place in my journey.


Sunday, December 21, 2014

The Shortest Day

There is something magical about Christmas lights.  Everyone wants to show off their tree and decorations.  I am no exception.  And I know my house isn't decorated fancily, but I love to sit in the dark and watch the lights blink and change and twinkle and show off their beauty.  In fact, I keep the window's string of lights up all year, faithfully plugging then in when I get up every morning.  In the summer I can't see them until about 10 pm, but I know they are there, showing off their colors.

I am leaving Christmas night to fly down to see my mom.  Doug isn't one to care about decorations and I know he will not be plugging in the lights for the tree while I am gone.  We have very different attitudes toward decorations.  We drove past a beautifully well-lighted house.  Every inch of the house was framed, the trees swirled, bushes sparkled, lawn touched with animals frolicing around the yard.  It was magical.  I gleefully laughed at the magic.  Doug said, "Wow, think of the electric bill for that house!"  I laughingly replied, "Oh Darlin, you have such the holiday spirit!"

Reveling in the holiday spirit, yesterday I took my grandgirl to see Mary Poppins at the Northwest Children's Theatre.  When she was a wee little one, she watched the movie every day for two or three years.  Actually she alternated between watching Mary Poppins and The Aristocats.  She loved flying kites and her father would take her out to fly them when weather permitted.  It was the full Broadway production, a bit different story than the Disney movie.  We loved it.

And so the magic of the shortest day of the year is upon us.  Today we will have only a bit less than eight and a half hours of daylight.  This means two delightful things.  First, it means that summer is rushing to meet us again!  And most importantly, it means I have a bit longer to sit and watch the lights blink and change and twinkle and show off their beauty.

Happy Winterfest!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

A Bit of This and That

I have been a bit busy lately, sewing when I can and wrapping gifts, shopping, wrapping more, sewing and then sitting, eating popcorn while I take a little break.  Right now I am on a kick of watching Medium.  Netflix are great for us who don't watch TV in prime time.
Mosaic windows
The mosaic porch windows are steady during the three heavy wind storms we have had so far this winter.  With winds over 60 mph and gusts over 100, I was worried that they wouldn't be safe.  So I took them down, but they were swinging just fine with no fear of breaking. The birdbath planter did fall over and crashed.  I like this as a planter, so I will look for another.  The bird cage I have hanging over the bath was knocked off the hanger, also.  A big breezy.

Quilted hanging for Mom
I made a hanging for my mother's door to her room in the nursing center,  The hanging was made from a beautiful block that was sent to me by LeAnn Weaver of Persimmon Quilts.  I simply put a frame of turquoise around it and quilted it.  I bought a cool 12" hanger for it also.  I know most people already have these hangers but I didn't and now I feel like a real quilter! ;)

Lastly I finished a book pillow for my grandgirl.  I followed someone's link to a picture of this and thought that it would be simple to make.  After this day, I have to rethink that idea.  This was a simple project that took me all day.  Yeppers, all day.  First, I found this 10" block I wanted to put on the pocket.  No instructions except measurements, but that ain't no thang.  First to find the right fabric in my scraps.  I didn't want to cut into stash if I didn't need to do so.  Kaity's favorite colors right now are black and hot pink, and teal.  

Pocket pillow for Kaity
I did have those colors, plus a fat quarter of black with white alphabet letters for the back.  The pink was stash, but it was perfect.  I cut the fabrics...wrong...had to cut again.  Then I thought to make half-square triangles the simple way (two pieces of fabric face-to-face and sewing 1/4 inch down a center line both sides).  Then I thought how smart I am! and sewed each piece again to get four cuts...oh wait, that was wrong.  Unsewed everything.  Resew and then LO AND BEHOLD I did the same thing again!  Frog stitched (rip-it! rip-it! rip-it) those puppies and then carefully sewed everything again.  This time I got it right *beamin with pride*

I had a pillow insert but how large to make the cover?  Went with my guess.  Sandwiched the pocket and started quilting it.  I chose teal thread on the black.  It looked gorgeous!  And then I hit the hot pink...not so pretty and I hesitated and the quilting went a bit wonky.  Of course, the teal quilting shows up much stronger than on the black (which is great!).  Oh well I can live with it.  And then stuffed in the pillow and of course, the new cover is a bit too large.  But it is squishy enough for now.  I like how it turned out.  And Kaity has two new books that will be in that pocket Christmas morning :)

Shopping all finished except one gift.  Everything wrapped.  Things going south on Christmas night are all packed.  Now I have time to finish the two quilt tops I started last week.


Those little nagging irritations

My mom and my grandgirl, Kaity 2004  This picture takes away all irritations :)

*Telemarketers who use auto-dial and can’t seem to be there when I actually answer the phone.  If I have the courtesy to answer the phone, they should have the wherewithal to be on the other end without me having to wait for them to irritate me.

*People who make unconnected leaps in their arguments.  What does prohibition have to do with the legalization of prostitution?  What does the cost of pomegranates have to do with socialized health care?

*Students who ask, “Will this be on the test?”  Don’t they understand that every pearl of wisdom from my lips may be important someday?  What happened to knowledge for knowledge’s sake?

*Narrow thinking.  Stereotypes.  Unyielding boundaries.  Unacceptance of others’ reality and truth.

*Ethnocentricism.  Racism.  Sexism.  Ageism.  Ableism.  Homophobia.

*People who talk on their hand-held cell phones while they drive.  Multi-tasking is great, but not when I am on the road with you, please.

*People who can eat anything during the holidays and not gain an ounce.  Actually people who can eat anything at anytime and don’t have to directly apply it to their hips (to bypass all the in between).  We call them “lucky,” but they can be damned irritating.

*Students who say, “I missed class today; did I miss anything important?”  No, I answer; I wasted an entire hour of the students’ time.   Or, “I missed class today; what did I miss?”  Like I am going to give them an hour’s worth of lecture over the phone. Yeah sure buh huh

*Telemarketers who greet me like we are old friends and ask how my day is going.  Cut to the chase so that I can hang up faster and get on with my going day.

*People who say “Patience is a virtue.”  Don’t they understand that “Instant gratification is not soon enough” (Carrie Fisher)?

*People who procrastinate longer than I procrastinate.

*Students who have missed half the term and ask on the last day of class if they can do extra credit in order to pass.  Yes, I tell them; next term when you retake the class.

*People who change lanes during rush hour without signaling.  People who ride my ass when there is no traffic.  People who drive like they are still in Boston.

*People who dial the wrong number and then get angry at me for not being the person they wanted to call.

*People who have a difficult time seeing that other people do not react, see, or live in the same reality as them.  One of my favorite quotations is from Steinbeck’s Cannery Row:  “It is all fine to say, ‘Time will heal everything, this too shall pass.  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.”


Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Lookie Lookie Crafty Lil Me!

I've never been very good at crafts.  It started in Brownies and continued through Scouts and I never improved over Kindergarten labors.  Oh sure, I can sew fairly well and I can make a quilt now and then, but when it comes to making crafty things out of wire and pine cones, it just never works.  The result of my labors looks nothing like the picture in my head.  The worst is using felt.  Those felty things are just too child-like when I am finished.  I know I am not the only one who has this problem, as an easy Internet search will attest.  My daughter-in-law and my grandgirl have the same disability.  So I see these wonderful lil things people make and am in awe. 

My attempts at crafts look similar to this picture.
But once in a while I think I will give something a try.  Now usually I sit down until this urge passes.  Not this time.  When I saw these cute little sleighs made from candy canes on A Spoonful of Sugar blog, I thought I would give it a shot.  And since it is made mostly of chocolate candy bars, I knew if it sucked I could just go with another vision in my head: I could eat the mistakes!

I started with candy canes, Kit Kat bars, and little bags of M&Ms.  It started out well.  I glued one of the candy canes onto a wrapped Kit Kat bar and set the second candy cane underneath so it would not dry lopsided.  I continued to do this for all four sleighs.  I then wrapped and tied ribbons on the M&M bags and glued them together.  I was feeling pretty proud of myself as they were looking like the exact image in my head!  I felt I had probably finally overcame my crafty disability.  And then the cat hit.  Poor thang just wanted to get some head pets, but she missed the table and grabbed the paper where the candy canes were drying.  She pulled that paper onto the floor, breaking some of the candy canes.  Okay, pride cometh before the fall...

I decided smashed canes were okay if they held their shape.  And because they were in plastic, they did!  So I glued the other cane onto the Kit Kat bar and the sleighs were ready to dry.  Now to just stick on the M&M packages and the Santa...we are ready to rock and roll!

Not perfect but pretty darn good, if I can say so myself.  YippeeSkippee!  I'm a crafty person :)  Who knew?


Friday, December 12, 2014

It's Not Like That Anymore

I was at a Weight Watchers meeting last week.  The big discussion from before Thanksgiving until New Years is the food at parties and the temptations, the events, deciding our goals for the holidays.  And a few older members lamented they could no longer eat what they wanted and walk it off.  And the leader said, "Yes, accepting that we change as we age isn't easy.  We have to recognize it's not like that anymore."

It's not like that anymore.  Powerful statement in any aspect of life.  Accepting that change happens, has happened, is sometimes sad.  Sometimes happy.  Sometimes mixed blessings.

My mother used to make pumpkin bread every Christmas and mail it up to me.  It's not like that anymore.  We used to have long conversations every week or so.  It's not like that anymore.

I loved to drive across the states, leg up on the dash, singing at the top of my lungs with Bonnie Raitt, Bob Seger, Bruce Springsteen.  It's not like that anymore; fibromyalgia causes too much pain sitting long distance. I was a barefooted country-city girl.  I had an international student write a description of me in her English class.  She said "she walks on her feet," meaning I kick my shoes off while I teach.  It's not like that anymore; neuropathy foot pain makes it too painful to walk barefooted.
I decided not to give my mother the quilt I was making.  I remembered she doesn't really like using quilts.  She likes hangings, so I am making her a small hanging to go on her door.  And the quilt will go for the kids in the Adopt-a-Family project for 2015.  Here's the quilt so far.  I just need the 6" red border and then to quilt it.  

Things change and it's not like that anymore.
And the beat goes on...

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Those Little Things

There are some issues I feel the need to address :

There are so many things out there which surprise me.  I thought life was a complex system, but I did not realize how often it comes down to those little things which make or break us.  Like the fear of public speaking.  We fear this more than illness, dogs, heights or death.  Jerry Seinfeld once said, “We would rather die than give the eulogy.”  My students confirm this.  Georgie Jessel once said, “The brain is a wonderful thing; it never stops working from the time we are born until the moment we stand up to give a speech.”  My students’ grades confirm this.

It would seem that one of the greatest problems in any marriage--at least according to Ann Landers or Dear Abby or Ask Amy or any advice columnist, and the plethora of responses from her readers--is which way the toilet papers rolls off the tube.  I have never seen such prolific responses to any other issue.  It seems this may be a more important issue than money or control or interdependency.  Apparently those who like it to roll from the top are in the majority and are adamant about this flow.  My elder son says he actually changes how paper rolls off a tube when he visits “those idiots who do not know any better.”  Seems, if this is true, it may be a simple process in selecting a partner.  Just check out their toilet paper.  Okay!  Toilet paper.....check!  We are compatible!  I guess the issue of attraction is already there; you are after all in their bathroom.

There are other rules of toilet paper I have learned over time.   For example, you must replace the roll if you use the last of the paper.  Apparently all points are null and void if you sneakily refuse to use the very last of the tube and leave two or three squares hanging there in order to avoid changing the roll.  Another thing to remember is that you must leave the paper a clean break-off, not left hanging sloppily nor with the second ply off-skelter.  Oh yeah, and apparently men monitor the use of toilet paper as if it was the stock market or a precious commodity.  I was shocked when I left Doug’s place in Pittsburgh for three months (I had been back east on sabbatical) and he had just started using a new roll as I returned.  He said he had to “really stock up” when a woman friend was coming to visit us.  But perhaps 24 rolls for a three-day visit was a bit sarcastic?

Since we are in the bathroom, we might as well address that toilet seat.  Apparently men think it looks like an uncluttered, finished room to leave the seat up.  Many a marriage has broken up over this issue if we are to believe Dear Abby.  Women say they hate the feel of cold porcelain and/or toilet water against their bare skin when they stumble into the bathroom in the dark of night.  Men say women should check before they sit down.  Women say it is an easy matter for men to just put the seat down when they flush.  Men say it is not fair that they have to lift and unlift the seat and women only have to sit.  Think of the relationships which could be saved if each in the couple would put down both the seat and the lid--like closing a cupboard door :)

Another thing which seems to ruin relationships is the use of the word, “nice.”  As in, “How do I look?”  Men apparently do not understand the impact “nice” has on a woman.  Pay attention fellas; she will change clothes every time she looks “nice.”

Relationships at home are not the only problem.  There are many letters written to advice-people about issues in the office.  Like those people who leave the last tiny bit of coffee in the pot.  This happens even with huge signs around the coffee pot area which state, “The person who uses the last cup of coffee in the pot must make the next pot.”  All the ingredients are there; it takes about two minutes to start the next pot, but there are those who leave about a fourth of a cup in the pot to avoid making a new batch.  These are the same people who left a few drops of milk in the carton in the refrigerator to avoid tossing out the carton.  I think Abby suggests we shoot them, but I may have that wrong.

So go figure...all these issues and those like them are apparently the most important aspects in our lives.  They are more discussed than war or earthquakes or abuse.  Hey, come to think of it.....I wonder how Bush and Obama each unroll their toilet paper?

And the beat goes on......peace :)

Monday, December 08, 2014

Softest Flannel With a Cozy Fleece

Now that the Adopt-a-Family project is finished, I have started my newest project: a quilt for my mother for Christmas.  She doesn't like heavy.  Her favorite blankets have always been electric.  I tried giving her flannel sheets once.  Not a good idea.

warm flannel, soft fleece, easy pattern
So in her nursing center room, she can get very cold.  In fact her last roommate kept the air conditioner on high all the time because she was a hot person.  Mom always froze.  We brought her  one of her favorite afghans and she was happy.  It is soft and cuddly and apparently the first afghan she knitted way back when.  She has made hundreds of them since.

And what do you give someone who lives in a shared space that holds two beds and two bedside tables, with space for wheelchairs and walkers?  So I decided to make her a quilt.  It is flannel.  Soft wonderful flannel.  And I will put a fleece backing.  No batting to keep it light and soft and cuddly.  She loves bright so I chose flannels that are bright. tempered with warm browns and tans.  She likes modern, compared to my more traditional or crazy.  So the pattern I have selected is called "Ins and Outs," featured in the newest easy quilts magazine.  She will either use it or not.  But I am having fun making it, thinking that she can stay warm if she chooses.

poor winter-shocked hydrangea
On another note, I returned yesterday from a visit with my mom and sister.  My flight left at 6 am for home (hey!  It was $30 cheaper!), so I had to get up around 3 am in order to shower, get gas, return the car and make it through security.  I arrived home about the time Doug was waking up, so I had him take me to breakfast.  As we left the restaurant, I say this poor winterized hydrangea.  It looked so much like I felt with no sleep that I needed to bring it home with me somehow.  A photo was the best I could do. I did get an hour nap that afternoon.  Poor winter-shocked plant didn't get that nap.


Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Old Dog, New Tricks

I recently went to a quilting, sewing and crafts fair.  I decided to go to one of the classes that was offered.  For $5, I could learn to do English Paper Piecing.  What fun!  This instructor's method was supposedly a "new and exciting" method.  Since I don't know the "old and boring" method, I have nothing with which to compare.  But here's how it works:

With notecard weight paper hexagons (we used hexagons), we lightly glued the fabric to the paper.  And then sewed them together to form the shape I wanted to make--Grandmother's Garden.  I made up 11 of them for my flight and time down to see my mom.  I finished five of them already.  I need new hexagon notecards!

In this process, I found a bunch of new favorite tools.  First, I have been wanting some Wonder Clips to try for binding.  I was going to ask Santa for some...but the fair happened first.  So I bought a package of 10.  Santa can get me the package of 50 :)  They are my newest favorite tool!  

And then I found this great little lap board.  It is specifically for applique, but useful for so many other things. The back is a fine sandpaper to keep the applique pieces in place; the front is slightly padded.  The instructor used a mini iron on it, even though the pad itself says they have no idea if it can be used for ironing.  I do want one of those cool mini irons that look exactly like a big girl iron but small.  Santa list!

The third thing is this needle threader!  Yay!  The regular needles are fine but applique needles can sometimes get the best of me.  This threader will do the trick.
This isn't me.  Just sayin

And there is one more thing.  I need a light when I travel because no one keeps their house bright enough to handsew anything.  I use an OTT light at home.  So I searched.  I bought a bendable necked focus light at IKEA.  While it was easy for travel, it's focused light is not the best.  And then *hearing the angels harmonize* I found a neck lamp that actually works!  It stays where you put it on your breast...just sits there happily lighting the sewing board on your lap.  

So far (six hours so far), this has been a good trip.  Mom is doing great--still loopy but healthy.  No fights with relatives yet.  Life is good.


Monday, December 01, 2014

It's the Adopt-a-Family Season!

Quilts for the kids in the families who are "up for adoption" this year
Every year my quilting friends and I support Portland Community College's Cascade campus Adopt-a-Family program.  This program is cool.  A person or a group of people, or even an entire division can adopt one of the families who applied and was selected to have a merry Christmas.  The student organization, ASPCC, has had this program for many years.  I used to adopt a family each year, making sure the mother and the children all received a quilt from me.  When I could no longer afford to give the one family the type of Christmas I thought they needed, I decided to make the children of the families quilts.  

The first year I was able to make maybe 10 quilts for the children.  I allowed the organization to hand them out as they saw fit.  I mentioned I had done this in my quilting forum, The Quilting Bee on Delphi forums, and soon others in the forum wanted to participate.   The next year we had perhaps 50 percent of the children covered.  And every year since we have had a quilt for every child under the age of 20.

This year there were 23 families with 62 children.  Each child under 20 years old received a quilt.  There were five kids over age 19; they received a pillowcase.  Some of the younger children received a pillowcase as well.  There was one pregnant mother (as listed).  We had a little preemie quilt that I gave to her.

A special thanks goes out to my wonderful generous friends: Peggy Trickler, Jan Munson, Cathy Berg, Sharon Gretz, Kathy Yount, Leslie Peterson, Val Bradley, Lynn Wingard, and Wilma Young.  To see these beautiful and delightful quilts, check out this website: AAF 2014.