Sunday, June 28, 2015

Celebration of Life

Grapes are life: usually juicy and sweet, but sometimes unexpectedly bitter

Over two years ago my elder son was diagnosed with leukemia.  He had multiple stays at the hospital as they tried to bring up his numbers, one stay for over a month.  Other visits were shorter but just as difficult.  They started his chemotherapy while he was still in the hospital, and then continued it on an outpatient basis.  Since then he has reported to his oncologist, at first weekly and slowly over time it has stretched to every six weeks.  His doctor recently declared my son is now in remission.  He could remain in remission forever and die of old age.  His cancer could progress and come out of remission and the battle over his life would continue.  It's all part of the unknown.

But this I do know for fact: without the Affordable Care Act, my son would either still be very ill or dead.

So it is with great pleasure and relief that the Supreme Court saved the controversial health care law.  According to, the ruling holds that the Affordable Care Act authorized federal tax credits for eligible Americans living not only in states with their own exchanges but also in the 34 states with federal marketplaces. It staved off a major political showdown and a mad scramble in states that would have needed to act to prevent millions from losing health care coverage.

"Five years ago, after nearly a century of talk, decades of trying, a year of bipartisan debate, we finally declared that in America, health care is not a privilege for a few but a right for all," Obama said from the White House. "The Affordable Care Act is here to stay"

"Congress passed the Affordable Care Act to improve health insurance markets, not to destroy them," Roberts wrote in the majority opinion. "If at all possible, we must interpret the Act in a way that is consistent with the former, and avoids the latter."

 I joyfully celebrate life and good health.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

My Heart Runneth Over

Supreme Court Ruling Makes Same-Sex Marriage a Right Nationwide

“No longer may this liberty be denied,” Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote for the majority in the historic decision. “No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were.”

I am simply sitting and smiling.

Friday, June 26, 2015

And Now For Something Completely New!

Summer brings poppies simply to make me happy
They are starting to 
build a fence along the east side of our property today.  Yesterday they bought all the lumber for both the fence and to repair the deck.  Bet the Oregon pioneers had no idea how expensive this plentiful lumber would become!  The fence will be six feet tall for 106 feet, then lower down to four feet high for another 35 feet, and finishing off at two feet high for the 14 feet from the property line to the street.  It will be a simple cedar slat with a cap and will match the fence along the northern side of the yard.

Tomorrow the grounds guy will come and, with the help of Doug, move plants out of the way.  The beautiful rhododendrons behind the garage will be placed elsewhere in the yard, as will the lilies, azaleas from the side of the garage, as well as a small hedge that is in the way of the fence.  Doug was going to move the compost area over a few feet, but the fence guys got busy with that as well.  Too bad it will be the hottest day of the year...I hope they accomplish what they can before the heat gets too high.

Zoƫ all bathed and dog-shaking the water off.
Meanwhile, I am soon on the road again.  I'm heading south tomorrow morning to visit my mother and my sister.  Pup is going with me because she hates being away from me...and hates riding in the car...but hates being away from me more.   But even more, she hates being bathed.  Life is not as great for the dog as is for us :)


Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Weird Wednesday: Keeping it Real

 Keeping Portland Weird

June 21st was a big day in Portland.  
  • It was Summer Solstice.  Since I love summer the best, it is one of my favorite days, a day I can read the newspaper out on the porch without lights well into 9:45.
  • It was World Make Music Day.  Lots of music out in the parks and on the streets.
  • It was Summer Parkways Day in North Portland, where they close off streets so kids and their parents and everyone in between can ride their bikes out on the streets all day.
  • There was a Beer and Cheese Festival.
  • It was Father's Day, where we celebrate and honor the dads in our lives.  And what better way to celebrate than...
  • The Rose City Beard and Moustache Competition (okay so it was June felt like it should have been on Sunday)
Women competed in the "Build a Beard" competition

And then there are the classics...classics in a bikini top :)

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

A Room of Her Own

We have a lovely old home.  It was built in 1909-10.  A garage was added some years later, probably in the '40s.  The garage is large enough for two cars, with a wall partition between the two sides.  When we first moved here, I parked my car in the garage.  I had a difficult time getting out of the car because the car doors wouldn't open wide.  It has since become a storage area.

When I started talking seriously about getting a long-arm quilting machine, we kept coming back to the idea we didn't have any space for it.  One day I said, "How about my side of the garage?" and the idea was born.  We vacillated between the garage and building a complete sewing studio onto the house.  We fantasized about having the new room.  We visualized and fell in love with the French doors leading into the room.  I felt my heart melt at the idea of having a large enough space to do anything.  But the overwhelming cost of a new room brought us back to converting half of the garage.

The floor plan

The space in the garage is 10 feet by 20 feet, a good size for a long-arm machine and table, cupboards and a little storage space.  We will have the garage door removed with a wall built.  Windows in the front and the side, and matching windows in the back that will replace the ones already there.  The door will be near the house.

The side of the garage.  The door will be fully glass to match the house.

The front of the garage.
The back as it already looks.

The work will begin sometime in the first part of July.  This is really cool.  I am getting a room of my own!


Friday, June 12, 2015

Catching Up On UFOs

We have the most glorious tiger lilies in front of the garage.  My friend Gaye gave me a few lilies many years ago and now we have a mass.  They are in full bloom...catch them when you can.

I have also caught up with the unfinished quilts that have been blessing my sewing area for weeks.  They were bothering me enough that I couldn't do any other work in the area.  I had them all sandwiched and rolled, ready...but they kept getting in my way.  So I'd move them to this side...then move them to that side...and have to move them again.  So finally I gave in and quilted the dang thangs.

Each of these quilts are to be given to children of families who need help at Christmas in the Adopt-a-Family program at the Cascade campus of Portland Community College.
Fun at the beach
I did make start-to-finish a wall hanging for our nephew, who graduated from high school this week.  He is moving on to Temple University, majoring in Film and Media.  Such a talented young man!

I have made a wall hanging for every nephew and niece when they graduate from high school and leave for college.  I have now run out of them.  But when the time comes, I will make hangings for my grand nephews and nieces :)  Tradition is important.  

Not much happening in the way of fence-building nor plant moving.  Guess we wait.  Garage conversion plan is around first part of July.  Meanwhile, the beat goes on.


Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Weird Wednesday

Keeping Portland Weird...

Reed College students' response to a Portland Parks and Recreation sign posted at Eastmoreland Golf Course, which is located across the street from the campus. 

 Weird People
      Mike Essig, Mechanicsburg, PA
the only people
on earth
who stay awake
all night
writing poems
about insomnia.


Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Surveying the Land

Our house was built in 1909.  The little house next door was also built in 1909, built for the owners to live in while they built our house.  Like many homes in Portland, the corner house on the block is the oldest house in the neighborhood, with smaller parcels more modern where the land had been divided or somehow separated.  The land is often separated without having been surveyed and property borders are passed down by word of mouth.

As the third owners of this beautiful Victorian/Arts and Crafts home, we were told the property separating our home from the little house in back was located in a certain spot.  We built a little courtyard; Doug putting down pavers as a walkway.  We planted a little garden along side the driveway.  In other words, we created our home with boundaries as we were told.  As you can see, the little house is very close to our garage.

A few years ago the little house was bought by a woman who wanted to know exactly where the boundaries were located.  She had come to believe her property took up a good 15 feet into our yard, cutting through part of our garage.  A couple times a year she would mention the property line, but never did anything to find out the truth.  I finally got tired of the whole thing and found a company to do a survey of our property.

What an interesting project.  Apparently there had never been any survey monuments put along the entire property.  So starting with the corner, where the only monument was found, the surveyors measured and compared.  They even had to go a full block away to find monuments to help create the boundaries of our property.

 Turns out the street itself is misleading.  Instead of the average 50 feet wide street, our street is 100 feet wide.  We have the theory that there were planning to put a parkway down the center as are other streets in the neighborhood.  As a working class neighborhood, this would make sense as the residents would enjoy a Sunday afternoon driving their carriages around the park-like streets.  So our property actually begins some 25 feet from the curb.  

We have a large property.  It is 70 feet from the front-facing yard across to the neighbor's yard in question.  Turns out she was right, kinda...we had claimed part of her property.  Turns out we had taken about three feet at the curb side and four feet through our courtyard.  Oh and it turns out we have given our northern neighbors about 18 inches to three feet of our property when we built the fence between us!  Who knew?

On Memorial Day, Doug and I removed all of our plants and pavers from her property, getting the yard ready for a fence.  We are working with a landscaper to help us find places in our large-but-shady yard for many of the plants.

At first, both Doug and I had to go through a bit of "grieving" at the loss of what we thought was our land.  But then we just shrugged and went to work.  As we plan the yard (we like it to look more natural rather than planned), we are excited about the changes.  And the project continues.

Our sentinels to the south

Sunday, June 07, 2015

A Few Projects Comin Summer's Way

Summer time and the livin is easy~~~

I love summer.  The days are long, the pace is slower.  The lemonade flows.  The grass is green (and then brown) and the ocean calls.  The neighbors are out and waving.  And daisies are in bloom.  Simple and sweet and happy.
Project Linus Quilt
I have been working on many things these past few months.  The quilts I have been working on took a long time to get quilted.  Some tops are waiting for the new sewing room/long arm to be ready.  So I never posted them.  But they were all crying out to be seen.  So here I am, posting some of the projects I have been doing since the end of March.  For the quilts, I have been trying to use scraps and stash, so almost every quilt is scrappy.
Project Linus, a nonprofit organization that gives quilts and blankets to children in need, had a mystery quilt.  They posted blocks--actually rows--weekly for the quilt top.  Here is my rendition of this project. It had just about every type of sewing on it--paper piecing, applique, piecing.  It even had the little penguin beaks made with prairie points.  I skipped the outter border and will put on a navy binding to finish it off.  It is now quilted and ready for binding.

Adopt-a-Family Dots and Dashes
I have two finished quilts that are ready for the Adopt-a-Family Project that we have each year.  We make a quilt for every child on a list of families to adopt at the college where I worked.  The Dots and Dashes was fun, made smaller than the pattern asked, so the diamonds are not as complete.  But it is cherry.  The modern log cabin was fun to make!  Just scraps and bits put together for make this wacky happy quilt.
Adopt-a-Family Crazy Long Cabin
National Quilting Day Project

In 1989, the Kentucky Heritage Quilt Society organized a "Quilters' Day Out" on the third Saturday of March to celebrate the rich tradition of quilt making in Kentucky. In 1991, the NQA officers were so enthused with the concept and success of "Quilters'Day Out" that they voted to take it to a national level.  The name changed to National Quilting Day.  This year the day fell on March 21.  The organization selected a quilt pattern for the year.  I made mine a bit differently in that I put a border on mine.  

I continued to make Fidget Blankets for some of the residents at the Health Center where my mom is a resident.  I delivered six more.

I was given some beautiful blocks from a friend, but they were already quilted, some with a fleece backing.  I believe the person who gave them to my friend had tried to do the "quilt as you go" method but it didn't work.  I didn't know what to do with them, so finally made pet bed pads.  The Oregon Humane Society loved them.

The last project I worked on this spring was a mosaic project.  I have always wanted to make a bird bath for display on my porch and that was what I decided to make.  I love the finished project and it sits proudly on my porch. 

I have three more quilt tops ready, but they will wait until my next major project is completed: my new long-arm quilting studio.  That is the exciting next step!

Happy summer peaceful adventurous summer!

Friday, June 05, 2015

Thank You Notes: A Lost Art?

Okay I can understand that schools are no longer teaching children how to write cursive, although I am not sure how they will learn to sign their names.  But cursive writing is on it's way out as a lost form of writing.  Like the monks slaving over manuscripts with quill in hand, writing beautiful letters in calligraphy, our children have been slaving over lined paper trying to write cursive.  And why?  Everyone knows they will learn to text much faster from repeated lessons and practices.  So yeah I get the loss of teaching cursive.  I don't LIKE it, but I understand it.

What I don't understand is the loss of writing notes.  I love getting mail from people other than bill collectors or donation requests.  But with technology today, this may also be a thing of the past.  And remember email?  Yeah it is passe.  Why actually form full sentences when you can Tweet whole ideas in 140 characters, counting spaces?  Why write out an email when you can text someone in multiple back-and-forths?

Okay so I get why note writing and mailing are losing the communication battle.  I used to get tweeked when I'd get a message in Facebook on the hour of a barbeque party that the person wasn't coming and I'd get twerked with a text message an hour into the party that two guests weren't coming.  I mean, they both had their phones in their hands...  But I am not longer a purist and accept--hell, expect--messages to come from anywhere but the mailbox or the telephone.

Okay.  Times change.  But when did the Thank You Note go away?  I send gifts at Christmas and never even know if the person received the gift.  I send birthday gifts and hear nothing.  These are to adults and to kids.  Nada.  Nothing.  So I finally (about a month or so after the send) send an email or a Facebook message or a text: we are concerned as we have heard nothing...did our Christmas/baby/wedding/birthday gift arrive Safely?  If not, I will need to start a search.

On Christmas day after breakfast and gift-opening messes are cleaned up a bit, I sit my grandgirl down with me and we write thank you notes for our gifts.  We have been doing this since she was about three and could scribble her name.  I make it a little game.  She's not always excited to do it but she does it without complaining.  Then we address the envelopes and stick a stamp on them and sticking them in the mail.  I hope this practice stick with her...I did it with my sons, years didn't stick.

So maybe my generation is the final generation to stamp and mail thank you notes.  I accept that, kinda.  But is my generation the final generation to thank people in general?  Not a tweet.  Not an email.  Not a text of thank you.  Besides not feeling the gratitude of selecting a gift, wrapping it and mailing it (regardless of how much you hate it), it is just rude (IMHO) to not acknowledge this event.

Oh oh so perhaps we need to have classes on how to write thank you notes!  We could include cursive writing as well...just a thought as we watch these things disappear...