Thursday, February 26, 2015

It's Always Sunny in California


There is something so delightfully wonderful about seeing spring and sunshine and the early bloom of yellow flowers.  They are simply happy.  


Mom with a new haircut: stylin!
They definitely brightened my spirits this morning as I woke up with a cold.  Cleaning my hands with disinfectant and wearing a mask, I was able to visit my mother, but my body wanted to head back to bed.  So my visit was short but so sweet!  Mom was spending the morning in the activity room, first doing trivia--she loves trivia--and then eating lunch with others in the room.  And finally she was looking forward to listening to Chaplain Tom read.  It is a long full morning.  I am so pleased to see her getting out of her room and socializing more.  This is progress.

One last thing I wanted to say is how fun it is to watch those to whom you make a quilt open it and use it.  My nephew, Nathan, and his family came over to visit me while I was down south in California.  

Penny and bear under covers
Nathan and his family
I was able to meet Samuel and play with Penny.   We had a good dinner of pizza and chatter.  Unfortunately my sister had to teach a night class.  So I got to bond with her newest grandbaby without gramma interference.

Penny loved her pink teddy bear and wrapped it with her new quilt.  They sent me a picture of Penny under her new quilt when she went to bed.  Delightful!

peace~~~

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Quilts for the Fingers

Today I delivered the first three fidget blankets to the nursing/health center where my mother resides.  Jennifer, the Activity Coordinator, allowed me to come with her as she delivered two of them to residents.  The Minkee backing was the greatest hit.  "It feels like a kitten."  The smiles from the residents were heart-warming.  When I go home I will have more to bring next month.


Jennifer is the Activity Coordinator

A resident feels the back fabric
She likes it!

Another resident is pleased with her blanket
 peace~~~

Friday, February 20, 2015

Penny For Your Thoughts

My younger nephew and his girlfriend just had their first baby.  His name is Samuel and he is beautiful.  I made a lovely quilt for him in Los Angeles Dodgers colors.


One for Penny
My nephew's girlfriend has a daughter.  Her name is Penny and she is probably the cutest person you have ever seen.  She is three-years-old, which is pretty cute in and of itself.  But she holds the cute factor at a stand-still with her own cuteness.  I felt she needed a quilt of her own.

I started out with a cool pattern that I found was--while not difficult--quite time consuming.  I had only a few days from start-to-finish.  So I searched through my patterns and remembered Eleanor Burns' Cyclone pattern.  You can find it here: Cyclone under Quilt in a Day/free patterns.  It is a fun pattern and quick to make.  I like how this one turned out for a little girl.

One for Samuel
So there is now a quilt for both the kids when I pull up to my sister's place next Monday.  Gosh I love babies!

peace~~~

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Fidgety Fingers

I recently found myself absentmindedly stroking some fabric the other day.  I was thinking about my next trip down to see my mom while I had been sewing the binding on one of the quilts I had recently made and I looked down and there I was, stroking the fabric.  

I have often seen my mother do this, stroke something.  Not that different than my elder son who used to rub the satin binding on his blanket as he fell asleep.  Sometimes Mom's fingers are moving around quite busily, like they are looking for the right thing to touch.  And if I thought about it, I would recognize that many of the people who live in the same center as does my mother have these same busy hands. I have come to learn that these fidgety fingers is very common in people with dementia and who have Alzheimer's Disease.  But it wasn't until I read Michele Bilyeu's blog, With Heart and Hands, that I came to realize I could do something to help.

Michele's fidget blankets; photo taken from her website
Michele started making Fidget Blankets.  They were simple quilted small lap blankets that had tags to feel, different fabrics for tactile stimulation, and comfortable backings for soothing cuddliness. She has bright colors along side soothing/restful colors.

As you can see in this picture I took from Michele's website, the blankets are simple and yet very useful.  She told me that using flannel and fleece and other soft fabrics for backing of the blankets is perfect.  She also said they were sandwiched with thin batting.

I asked the Activity Director where my mother resides if she would be interested in blankets such as these and she was very happy.  The fidget blankets she has are traditional ones, which she finds disappointing.  She liked the simplicity of the ones Michele had made.  They will be easy to wash and not at all confusing to the residents.  So I promised to make her some.  I am thinking maybe five to start and grow from there.

So today I started the cutting.  Like Michele, I am making a simple 9-patch.  I cut out four-inch squares from gobs of scraps.  I have no color scheme in mind, but will make multi-colored blankets.  As I was cutting, I came across two 'kerchiefs I had saved from the last Alzheimer's fundraising walk.  I had no plans for them when I saved them but what is better for a Fidget Blanket than 'kerchiefs from an Alzheimer's walk? 

I have plenty of fabrics.  I have flannels, cottons, and even a pile of satin(ish) fabrics for the 9-patch blocks. I have flannel and fleece and even a bit of Minkee (thanks to my friend Val!) for backing.  I have yards of ribbons and rickrack and other goodies for the tabs.  I believe I will "birth" the blankets rather than bind them...not sure yet. 
 
Now I am off to sew.  Anyone care to join me?
peace~~~

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The Art of Paying Attention

They say we see what we want to see; interpret what we see as we want to have them interpreted.  We create this sort of grid of reality.  So reality is relative to our own worlds.  Truth happens as we interpret things.  Think of that car accident...each person has a different perception of the accident, depending on what they were focused on in the moment.  The drivers were focused on their own car.  The passenger And they all have different stories.  Same with arguments.  We each are focused on our own reality, not the other's, which makes it hard to even understand that there could be a different way of thinking of things.  So there is an art of paying attention.

One of my favorite professors was Ted.  I loved taking classes from him because he always got very involved in his subject when he taught a class.  He is a smallish hyper guy who tended to enter a classroom and focus on the lecture--no chitchat, just jumped into the subject.  His enthusiasm was catching.  One term while he was teaching Nonverbal Communication, he entered the class just as described and started lecturing.  He spoke for about 20 minutes and then looked at one woman who was sitting in the front row.  He thought as he continued to lecture, “Wow! This woman has the bluest eyes I have ever seen!”  He peered closer (still lecturing), his face less than a foot from hers, so entranced was he with her eyes.

He backed up a bit and it was then that he noticed...she was wearing a brown paper bag over her head...and her eyes were so startling because that’s all he saw of her face.  So he stands up and looks around and...damn!  The whole class was wearing brown paper bags over their heads!


Another time, I entered the class a bit late; the rest of the class was already seated.  Ted had already started his lecture.  I was doing initial research for my master’s thesis on how non-disabled people interacted with someone who had a disability and I was using a motorized wheelchair.  It was a friend’s old chair with a very loud motor.  As I entered the classroom, the desks were in the way, so everyone in the class stood up and moved the chairs out of my way.  I headed for the front of the classroom. Rummmmmm!  I found a spot where I wanted to sit in the front row; students moved the two desks out of the way.  I backed into the space bumping a few empty desks, knocking one over with a clamor.  And all the while, the motor continued to hum very loudly.  Rummmmmm!  I settled in and turned off the motor.  Silence...except for Ted’s lecturing....


Ted continued to speak, talking to me in his lecture and the rest of the class; the class and I continued to participate in his lecture.  After about 10 minutes, he looked at me, stopped and said, “Werkman! Is there something different about you today?” (take note that this man was my graduate adviser who helped me design my research.)  I looked at him and smiled.  “You think it might be this wheelchair?” I asked.  “What wheelchair?”  He looked around.  “Oh yes! That must be it!” and he continued his lecture.  You just gotta shake your head over those who don't pay attention.

The other day I was driving along and I saw flashing lights coming up behind me, heard the sirens and I needed to pull over to let the ambulance pass....but the woman in the truck next to me is clueless.  She is driving, tapping her fingers on the steering wheel to the music and staring off into that great expanse of roadland ahead.  The ambulance is nearing...I have to slow down to pull in behind her.  I then pull over to the curb to wait for the ambulance to pass.  The car behind me honked.  I smiled and waved.  Perhaps he thought he knew me :)

Out of the 30 or so cars on the street with me, I was the only one who pulled over to let the ambulance pass.  I can’t believe it.  Out of all the cars on this street, I am the only one who pulled over.  What is wrong with people these days?  Are we so self-centered that we just don’t care that this ambulance needs to pass, is hurrying someone in emergency?  The woman in the truck never flinched.  She continued to drive in that faraway manner, tapping her fingers on the steering wheel to the music.


So a few days later I was again driving, coming home from Fabric Depot.  I was on a wide four-lane road which has a fifth lane for turning.  Again I saw an ambulance coming up behind me.  I heard the sirens and then I saw the flashing lights.  I pulled into the right lane and slowed, preparing to pull over to let the ambulance pass.  The car behind me honked and I waved.  Perhaps it is the same man who thought he recognized me :)


Once again I am the only car to pull over.  The ambulance has to weave around the cars and drive in and out of the center lane.  I shake my head and wonder if maybe they changed the law for emergency vehicles since I retired.  You know how news can sometimes get away when you are not at a paying job.  I continue on in the right lane, contemplating the stupidity of drivers.  You know, the inconsiderate driver who will not let you merge or the idiot who kareems past you, pulls up close to the car ahead, then swerves quickly between cars in order to arrive those five seconds earlier to his destination.


I am now really patting myself on the back at my superb safe driving, my complete awareness of what is happening around me at all times as I drive.  I smile to myself at how well I have handled the thousands of miles I drive yearly from coast-to-coast or down to Southern California.  I am sitting relaxed, beamin with fantastic driving ability pride, my total consideration to other drivers, to be constantly aware.  I start tapping my fingers on the steering wheel to the music.  Joni Mitchell.  I smile and sing.


In total obliviousness I pass the school bus, which is stopped on the opposite side of the street.  The  *honk honk honk* of the bus makes me look over as I pass and it is only then that I see the flashing lights and the safety stop sign on the bus.  Every other car behind me has stopped to allow these little children to get off the bus in safety as I kareem past down the road.


*sigh*  What mishaps I get into when pride takes over.  It is always when I think I am doing quite well, am congratulating myself on my ability to do something and buffin my nails on my chest that I am hit square in the face that I still need lots of work.  And it happens with everything at some point--my communication, my relationships, my work, my driving, hell even the way I brush and floss my teeth.  And always it reminds me that I must continually work on that art of paying attention to what is happening at this very moment or I will start to tap my fingers on the steering wheel to the music, clueless.


peace~~~

 

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Project Linus Mystery Quilt

I have made hundreds of quilts.  The majority of them have been made for children who need a hug of some sort.  It might be the child is hospitalized for a serious disease.  It could be the baby was born addicted to drugs her mother took while pregnant.  It could be a Foster Child who has been hit hard with life much too early in her life.  One of the organizations where I donate my quilts is to Project Linus.

Project Linus is a wonderful organization.  According to their website, the organization started when Karen Loucks read about a wisp of a child named Laura, who had undergone chemotherapy for leukemia.  She had a special blanket that she took with her for treatments; it helped her get through the horrible side effects of her treatment.  At that moment Loucks decided to provide homemade security blankets to Denver's Rocky Mountain Children's Cancer Center, and Project Linus was born.  PL has chapters throughout the nation in all 50 states.

At this time, Project Linus is raising funds.  It is a great opportunity for quilters and not-yet-quilters (cause you know you want to play with fabrics but didn't know how) to participate in creating a Mystery Quilt.  For a registration fee of $15, we are given a clue each week that tells us what and how of certain blocks to make for that week.  It is perfect for those who like to play with fabrics and perfect for those who didn't realize how much they wanted to play.  

The first week was making Friendship Star blocks. Go register and see what we are doing for the second week!  Join the fun :) 
HERE! --->  http://www.projectlinus.org/lukey/

Photo taken from Project Linus website
Go make some child happy :)
peace~~~

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Leprechaun Pranks and Other Saturday Things

graphic stolen from Spirit Wings blog
I think the leprechauns came out to play among the words on this blogspot.  See, something weird happened to my entry about my foray into the virtual world of IRC.  Bits and pieces of deleted text from the previous entry showed up, overlaying photos.  I looked at many different venues and it was still there.  When I tried to fix it, the whole entry disappeared and was replaced by the leprechaun entry.  Ahhh those mischievous pesky leprechauns!  So sorry!  I had to delete the post as well as all links to it.  Now I hope the leprechauns feel some satisfaction in their pranks and glee and will leave this roadbabe alone.


Spring is starting to show it's face around the neighborhood.  On our walk yesterday, the pup and I found some springy stuff poking it's head out through the damp soil.  It gives hope that the cycle of nature is still there :)  So the pup and I had fun searching for clues.

My sister's favorite flowers are daffodils.  It is so delightful to see their little heads start to droop.  My daffs are not even flowered yet, but our yard has more shade.  
And tulips.  As a Dutch girl, I love tulips.  Did you know that tulips are not native to Holland?  They were cultivated in what is now Turkey and brought to Holland in the 16th century.  But today Holland is known for it's tulips and other flowers.  It is affectionately known as "the flower shop of the world."  I like that.  

Back at home, I have been playing with scraps.  I started making these wild log cabin blocks and seeing what they would create.  I just started with a center block 4.5 x 6.5 inches and added scraps to the sides.  I decided to make them wonky.  And then I cut the blocks when finished to 8.5x9.5. Get enough of them and TaDa!  You have a quilt top.  


I'm a bit picky about sizing.  I like the width and length to be proportionate to the other.  So I decided to add a strip along the sides before I put on the crazy zigzag border.  Off to the "to be quilted" pile.  This weekend will be filled with sandwiching and quilting.

 Off to play with fabric.  I have three quilts to sandwich and quilt, and one top to make and complete before Monday.  I will let the leprechauns play their pranks on someone else!

peace~~~


Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Portland's Weird Wednesday

Right in the middle of one of our busiest streets in downtown Portland sits the smallest park in the world.  It's true.  It's listed in the Guinness Book of World Records.  Not long ago, England tried to claim they had the word's smallest park, but nope.  It's us.

Mill Ends Park is not just roadside greenery to perk up a neighborhood street. It’s actually a park dedicated to leprechauns.  Local legend has it that a reporter wrote a series of columns about the country’s only leprechaun colony in 1947/48. See, the reporter, Dick Fagan, spotted one of the leprechauns digging a hole in the spot outside his window at the Oregon Journal newspaper and ran out.  He captured it!   Because he captured the leprechaun, he was granted a wish.  He said he wished he had a park of his own.

Now leprechauns are tricky.  Since Fagan had not specified a size for his park, the leprechaun gave Fagan the hole he had been digging when he was caught.  Fagan took what he could get.  He named it Mill Ends Park, after the column he wrote for the Journal. The two-foot long patch of ground became an official city park in 1976.  And as the only leprechaun colony outside of Ireland, it serves as the epicenter of Portland's St. Patrick’s Day festivities.

Fagan died in 1969 but his park is being cared for by many others.   It has taken on many different plants, foliage, flowers.  In 2013, Burntwood, England complained to Guinness that the park was too small to be a real park and that their park, Prince's Park, the smallest in the UK, should hold the world record because it has a fence around it.  In response, volunteers erected a fence around Mill Ends and stationed an armed guard in the park.


 Enjoy this video about the park by Humanwire correspondent Justin Wolfson as he interviews Mark Ross of The Portland Parks and Recreation Department:




Just continuing to keep Portland weird :)
peace~~~

A small patch of carefully landscaped land sits in the middle of a road in Portland, Oregon, but it’s not just roadside greenery to perk up a neighborhood street. It’s actually a park dedicated to leprechauns. Local legend says that a reporter wrote a series of columns about the country’s only leprechaun colony in 1947. The reporter, Dick Fagan, spotted one of the leprechauns digging a hole in the spot outside his window and captured it. He used his wish to get a park of his own, but the leprechaun tricked him and gave him the hole in the ground instead. The two-foot long patch of ground became an official city park in 1976 and serves as the epicenter of the town’s St. Patrick’s Day festivities.

Read More: 10 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Leprechauns | http://thefw.com/things-you-didnt-know-about-leprechauns/?trackback=tsmclip
A small patch of carefully landscaped land sits in the middle of a road in Portland, Oregon, but it’s not just roadside greenery to perk up a neighborhood street. It’s actually a park dedicated to leprechauns. Local legend says that a reporter wrote a series of columns about the country’s only leprechaun colony in 1947. The reporter, Dick Fagan, spotted one of the leprechauns digging a hole in the spot outside his window and captured it. He used his wish to get a park of his own, but the leprechaun tricked him and gave him the hole in the ground instead. The two-foot long patch of ground became an official city park in 1976 and serves as the epicenter of the town’s St. Patrick’s Day festivities.

Read More: 10 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Leprechauns | http://thefw.com/things-you-didnt-know-about-leprechauns/?trackback=tsmclip
A small patch of carefully landscaped land sits in the middle of a road in Portland, Oregon, but it’s not just roadside greenery to perk up a neighborhood street. It’s actually a park dedicated to leprechauns. Local legend says that a reporter wrote a series of columns about the country’s only leprechaun colony in 1947. The reporter, Dick Fagan, spotted one of the leprechauns digging a hole in the spot outside his window and captured it. He used his wish to get a park of his own, but the leprechaun tricked him and gave him the hole in the ground instead. The two-foot long patch of ground became an official city park in 1976 and serves as the epicenter of the town’s St. Patrick’s Day festivities.

Read More: 10 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Leprechauns | http://thefw.com/things-you-didnt-know-about-leprechauns/?trackback=tsmclip

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Surrounding Burgoyne

Quilt block names come from many different directions. Most of the names came from the women who originally created the patterns, passed along to their neighbors and friends, who changed the name to suit their own creation.  This was way before paper patterns were created.  Sometimes the pattern was drawn on paper and mailed to a sister-in-law.  Sometimes a block was created and sent.  So what a block is called depends on the person/time/event.  And some blocks were created for something specific.  The Burgoyne Surrounded, also called The Homestead, is a classic quilt pattern that was taken from a specific event in American history.  

The battle of Saratoga, summer of 1777, was a turning point in the American Revolution.  British General John Burgoyne lead more than 7,000 men down from Canada to Albany.  American rebels were picking off the British troops when they separated from the main group, off to gather more supplies, but the British troops were so large and strong the American snip attacks were like my fight against ants in the house.  But in the first Battle of Saratoga in June, while considered a British win, the American troops surrounded the British troops and picked off two for every one American lost in the battle.  This weakened Burgoyne's troops considerably.  Burgoyne stayed where he was, waiting for reinforcements who never arrived.  The second battle caused Burgoyne to surrender.  This victory by the American rebels convinced France to enter into and support the revolution between the Americans and the British.

 The quilt shows this battle, very David and Goliathlike.  Traditionally made in red, white, and blue--either blue background or white background--the quilt shows the large British troops in red, surrounded by the small band of American rebels.  A triumph!  I completed the top and will quilt it this weekend (after I get backing for it!).

I'm all for battles ending.  What is your battle today?
~~~peace~~~

Saturday, February 07, 2015

Really, Should an Alcoholic Work in a Bar?


Yesterday I applied for a part-time job at Fabric Depot.  It is one of the largest retail shops that carries quilting weight fabrics as well as all sorts of clothing fabrics, wedding and gown fabrics, home improvement fabrics, and knitting and crochet yarns and supplies.  It is such a good company with happy welcoming sales people, that it just sounded like something I would like to do.  And the perk, besides talking with fabric people all the time, is employees get 40 percent off purchases.


I drove out to the store to turn in my cover letter and resume.  The manager to whom I would give these items was not there on some surprise problem with her car.  I was told I should come back later as they didn't know when she would arrive, but she would want to chat with me (in other words, don't leave the paperwork now and hope she sees it).  So I returned a few hours later and she was there.  

I smiled; she smiled.  I handed her the large manilla envelop with my paperwork to her and she took it, setting it aside as she continued to roll fabric back on a bolt.  I continued to smile; she continued to smile.  Unfortunately the sign that they were hiring was out of date.  She told me she had just hired six people, so hiring was at a waiting pattern.  I continued to smile as I said I understood.  There was an awkward moment until I said, "Okay.  Please give me a call when you have a chance to look over my paperwork."  I left smiling, even though I was disappointed.

But still...what an awesome job for someone like me.  But, really, should a fabriholic work in a fabric store?

peace~~~

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

Meanwhile, the Weather Changes again


photo by
We are used to very specific seasonal weather.  Portland has two seasons: FallWinterSpring and Summer.  FallWinterSpring is usually rainy and overcast and grey.  Summer is often 70s and sunny.  We get a week or so of weather in the teens or lower and a week or so when temperatures are in the three-digits.  But we average 65 degrees.  Once in a while we get that perfect day in May and people who visit here on that day like to believe it is our normal spring weather.  We don't usually tell them differently and they are surprised when they move here at all the grey and overcast and rain we actually have. 

But this year has been a little crazy.  We've had more sunshine, less rain.  As much as we love the sunshine (really shows off that green!), most of us are getting a little nervous for lack of rain.  Yes, I know it is silly but all year round when it happens after a few weeks of no rain, you will often hear, "Wow, we needed that!"  Some days it is sunny and then overcast then sunny then rainy and overcast and then overcast.  Today is one of those days.

Understand my pup hates the rain.  She is quite the diva about it, refusing to go outside if the sidewalks are wet.  We have to carry her off the porch and put her onto the grass quite a way from the house or else she just "holds it."  Pathetic.  It is a good thing she is cute.  So taking a walk means special gear.  Now ZoĆ« loves to go for walks but hates to get wet.  So this is her maybepossiblymight rain gear.  Understand, she also hates this outfit but will tolerate it because she loves a walk.


After a walk I cooled my heels in the sewing room.  This is what I have up on my "design board."  Can't decide if I want a light one-inch border so it looks like it is floating or a dark one-inch border to frame it out.  I have a fun green polk-a-dot for the second border.  It will be a happy quilt.

Oh oh oh and check this out!!  I bought gas yesterday and this is what I paid!  I am on the road again!

Meanwhile, the weather changes again.  Whatever comes our way we will all enjoy it somehow--either complaining about it, enjoying it, predicting it, ignoring it.

peace~~~