Saturday, June 27, 2020

A fine afternoon

We are all encouraged and admonished to stay away from each other, stay home, stay alone. But there are things we can do and still feel like we are alive even if we have to do them alone.

As I was coming home from the grocery store the other day, a beautiful clear day, I stopped when I saw this gentleman painting in the little park at the dam

 He was working on the building across the street. 
 Directly behind him, on the other side of that fence I saw
just steps away, these three young guys fishing at the dam

And there was this gentleman just enjoying the afternoon with his dog.

It's hard, everything in Michigan is cancelled until Christmas.  I told PH and the girls that after spending so much time alone or just with PH or seeing a little of the girls when they wander over from boredom, I've gotten used to my own pace, to just having PH, who has learned to just agree with me.  When I do go out I've found I am so much more impatient, less tolerant, quicker to lose it when confronted by a misdeed, someone driving 14 mph down the road, some empty shelves this week that weren't last week, seeing people unmasked, just being told "no."   It didn't help (well, maybe it did a little ) to read during this week a new book (for review) by Fredrik Backman called Anxious People  where everyone is an idiot. His word. But I understood completely.  And felt better. A little.  Sort of.   Then, seeing these singular activities on a beautiful day right in the middle of town, well, that made me feel better, too.  A little.  Sort of.

Monday, June 22, 2020

PH's Day

It was a full Father's Day for PH!

 We picked 10 pounds of strawberries in 15 minutes.  Picking was good, weather was good, company was good. 
 The rest of the day was for a rest from the berry picking

To cap off his busy day we took a fresh pie to friends for a picnic dessert and visit

Saturday, June 20, 2020

Two weeks!!

Two weeks!  It's been two weeks since our Zoom party and then I faded away.  The weather has been too beautiful to be indoors and while I am primarily a hand quilter my main focus lately has been to prep for Phase II of The Great Pause.  Or would that be The Great Pause, the sequel?  It's coming, I will not be an ostrich and laugh this thing away nor will I be unprepared next time. I will never run out of books to read,  so my main focus has been to get the scrappy things I pieced during round one layered.  I don't layer quilts on the floor.  My floor days are over.  I need large tables I can push together.  When the center I use opened last week I was there with the stuff to layer two quilts.  Since then I've gone out to buy the batting for two more.  I have one wall hanging to do, too.  I'll be ready.

 Till then, we are enjoying this gorgeous weather we've been having.  Every flower is healthy and happy
 and when I sit outside reading my eyes wander from the page to the petals just to stare. We have the most beautiful summers in Michigan.

In order to layer I had to finish tops.  The idea is to use the KISS method (Keep It Simple, Stupid)  because I don't like the machine and if I was going to get some scraps quickly finished I had to pull out the machine.  But for me using a machine doesn't mean the job will be done quickly or easily.  I do hate that thing.
 Scraps.  I used some of the smaller pieces of feed sacks that were given to me, one was a little dress, all cut out but not stitched together.  If my grands were little I'd have put it together as a dress but in the interest of using a pretty piece I cut it into squares.  There are pieces of past quilts, some batik, it's all in there.  
The blue border was an inspiration in the middle of the night.  Some of the pinks had this color periwinkle blue and I stuck in a few blue squares with the pinks.  When I remembered this blue feed sack with the pink flowers I was so happy to bring them together.

    When the shutdown happened we were in England visiting Brian.  We planned a side trip to Belgium by taking the train under the English Channel to France, then Belgium.  The whole trip was just a couple of hours start to finish but the fun was knowing where we were while on that train.
    When we got home I was looking for something in the stash and noticed these checked beige fabrics.  Again, late at night.  That must be when I do my thinking.  I saw these couple of pieces and thought immediately of the waffles we had in Bruges.  The first thing we ate when we arrrived was waffles.  Brian had his with vanilla ice cream.  PH had his with chocolate ice cream and a beer, I had mine with strawberries on top. 
    When I looked at these beige fabrics I started to laugh (middle of the night alone in my stash closet) and thought, "these look like our waffles!" and then started pulling pinks/reds.  I didn't have much of any of the fabrics but Friend Marilyn had some of the gingham in the top left row and donated it to the project. I pieced this one by hand.
So this is my strawberry waffle quilt.  I didn't get to Liberty of London as we planned but I will remember our Belgian waffles when I look at this.

 Our little group of retreat friends are making baskets.  Friend Barb made this quilt and I had been staring at pictures of this idea on Pinterest or Instagram...whatever.  When she showed hers to me I jumped at the chance to make one.  Since she was cutting pattern templates for me she asked if I thought the rest of our little group might like to do this as a retreat project.  It sounded like a good thing to connect us all during this separation. She put out a note to ask if we wanted to all make one in some form for retreat this fall (from my lips to God's ears) and everyone said yes!  It doesn't have to be finished, quilted, bound or even a full quilt, no pressure, just the flimsy will be enough, it will be fun to see everyone's color, size, etc.

The baskets meant the butterflies sifted to the bottom of the project basket for now.  I made a wall hanging of these for Jo in Australia as my gift to her for one of the SSCS exchanges a few years ago.  I liked it so much I wanted to do one for myself, but quilt sized.  Again, sifting through scraps and bigger small scraps trying to make a dent in them but have something good to show for it.  There are about 75 of them.  About.  I lost count.

 Yesterday was the day I wait for all year long.  I picked strawberries for the first time this season and made two pies and munched on their orphan cousins all day.  I don't care what anyone says, there is nothing like a Michigan strawberry.  Nothing.   this wasn't my first and ONLY time for picking.  PH and I are going to go tomorrow so I can make another pie for Father's Day.  I go about every other day during the short season.  Once they're gone, they're gone so we gorge.

Sunday, June 7, 2020


     The Great Pause gave us all great pause in the way we do things. We either had to adapt, adjust or do without. I know I did all of the above at one time or another.  I grumbled occasionally that concerts presented virtually weren't the same. No amount of "but...but..." was going to convince me.  Kids viewing their classroom friends and teachers on Zoom, well, it just wasn't the same and after signing off this new way of learning sometimes left Adelaide in tears.   PH holding commission meetings on Zoom wasn't the same.  Nothing is the same during this Great Pause.

     But sometimes doing the virtual thing is the BEST way.  I'm a convert through and through after this weekend's


     When I signed on to Chooky's chookshed stitch party it was about 6 p.m. Friday here but 8 a.m. the next day in Australia.  There were I think 16 people stitching, chatting, sipping morning coffee, for pete's sake, Jo had just woken up, was still in bed, but already talking to us! 
       I was able to put a face to a name, hear voices, accents, laughter, as we spent time together.  Just like our quilt retreats here but without leaving home.  That, for me, was the stitch (so to speak ) because it was too easy to get caught up in chores, running an errand, even eventually on Saturday, cooking dinner and inviting a friend over for an impromtu porch-dinner. I stuck with the group till about midnight Friday night and while I was in my jammies and sitting in bed - just where we found Jo that morning! - they were all in the middle of the afternoon and raring to go.  Sylvia joined in at 4 a.m. her time from Germany.  That is one dedicated stitcher or someone who has been to this virtual party in the past and wasn't going to miss a minute.  All told I think Chooky said there were over 30 people participating at various times during the weekend.
     Next year I will declare more of the weekend as sacred, have a new hand stitched project at my fingertips and pour more wine. 
      In the meantime there are a whole lot of new blogs I'll be reading. 

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Once in a Lifetime

PH doesn't stop the car for antiques or ice cream but he will stop so I can take pictures of people's laundry hanging on a clothes line.  

This evening he stopped for this.  What a guy!

An Elegant Woman

An Elegant Woman by Martha McPhee

Have you ever thought about the decisions you’ve made during your life that ended up being profoundly important decisions? In An Elegant Woman Martha McPhee gives us four generations of women whose decisions tracked a century, their lives and changed their course.

In 1910 Glenna leaves her husband with his new and current girlfriend, takes her two daughters, Katherine and Thelma (called Tommy) to the train and heads West. Now, this is where we start to judge Glenna. Not for leaving her husband, who wouldn’t? But for leaving her little girls aged 3 and 5 with a few traveling nuns on the train at a stop. Glenna doesn’t know the nuns, the nuns don’t know Glenna nor the children but they watch over them, feed them, keep them warm while Tommy tries to figure out this new development but realizes also at that point they can’t depend on Glenna that she is in charge of Katherine. She just doesn’t realize yet this is forever.

The family is headed West to Montana where Glenna is sure she can get a job teaching because there are miners there, there are women there and so there will be children who need to be taught there. Reunited with her girls at the end of the train ride, Glenna finds a job and once again, leaves the girls while she teaches in frontier one room schools throughout the state and campaigns for women’s right to vote. The girls are lucky to be left with people who love and care for them but are once again wisked away when Glenna is ready to move on.

Always, Tommy is in charge of Katherine’s care. By now, she’s learned to shoot, ride, trap, trade and feed themselves. As the girls grow it becomes clear who is going to move on and who is going to be the one who doesn’t. Tommy works (remember she’s a child) and protects. When Katherine graduates from high school and makes a decision for her future Tommy makes a decision that upends both of their lives.

All through this story you feel sorry for the girls, you don’t like Glenna much, ever, and you don’t blame Tommy one bit. At least I didn’t. The author gives us the stories these women gave themselves for all of their lives, and we all know that our stories are tempered with perspective. How does the same story change with the way someone perceived it?

I thought all through this book of how our stories change as we tell them over and over, and how each person who experienced the very same event sees that event through different eyes.It cetrainly opened mine.