Sunday, January 31, 2021

Let Them Eat Cake


As you saw from the previous post I had a birthday this week and cake was highly featured in the day. Cake for breakfast. Cake for lunch. Cake for dinner. 

Two days later, last night,  our daughter and family had us over to their house for dinner to celebrate.  Like everyone else in the world the party I had thought would happen couldn't so Daughter and Grands decided if I couldn't have a big party I would have a big cake!  Adelaide said they got the idea while watching Twilight Zone.  Indeed!

This cake was stupendous!  Nine cake mixes, 27 eggs, 4 pounds of butter, 3 cups cocoa, 6 pounds powdered sugar, one S O S call and 70 candles!  There were just the six of us. The wedges cut were monstrous and served on dinner plates.  Elizabeth said, "We have ice cream, too!"  This after a steak and crab leg dinner with all the trimmings.  They went all out and definitely brought the mountain to Mohamed.  Best birthday I could have hoped for!

Thursday, January 28, 2021


When you get to be my age birthday cake for breakfast is allowed.   Lunch, too.

 And then after spending most of the day - off and on - sewing butterflies to each other you can have an afternoon glass of wine, too.

Highlights of the week, besides today's chocolate cake for breakfast and lunch, was the zoom quilt -in Chooky arranged for my Monday, her Tuesday.  People from Australia, the U.S. and Germany moved off and on during the quilting but I stayed with them for a record (for me) five hours.  It was a wonderful visit and felt very close to an in person stitch retreat.  We sew, compare notes on how life is in our various corners of the earth and it comes down to this:  we aren't different at all.  

Another highlight was meeting up with Friend Laurie in a cozy little bookshop here in town, catching up with each other from stacks away from each other but visiting none the less.  We both purchased books that were surprise finds and parted ways.  I walked home in the sunshiny fresh snow blue sky cold but the afterglow of a nice visit with a good friend kept me warm.  I can't wait till we can sit for hours again in some cozy place over llooonnngggg lunches. 

We are still pretending to be patient for the vaccine.

Monday, January 25, 2021


 Parabellum  Parabellum by Gred Hickey

    We know immediately what’s going to happen in this story by Greg Hickey. There are four characters and one of them committed a mass murder at a Chicago beach. It then becomes the story of the victims. Not the victims lying on the beach but the four who could have committed this crime. They, too, were victims in the author’s eyes. How many times have we watched in horror as another mass shooting is reported and asked how a person could do such a thing? The author tells us.

     There is a veteran with PTSD, an athlete whose sport life, whose whole life, is over because of repeated concussion become brain injury, there is a student who is alienated and an IT programmer. None of the characters are given a name and in the first few pages I found this a bit confusing but knowing what one of them was going to do I decided the author followed the media’s lead in not naming the person so their desire for fame would not be realized. Then I decided no, he is making each of these people a victim, too. There are real people with real mental health problems who are not getting help. If the only thing they can come to is a desperate last attempt well, they might rightly think that’s all they have left. Not naming his characters makes them potentially all of us and in the healthcare system they are everyone.  

    The beauty in this story is the personalities of the characters and realizing their internal struggle. Student at one point tries to explain how he feels to his mother, who has no understanding of how to help him but would if she knew how. I read the soccer star’s story and worried about my own soccer loving grandchildren’s future. The programmer was obviously detached from reality right from the beginning of his life, for awhile I considered the programmer to be slightly autistic but then changed my mind as he progressed. There was deep sorrow for the veteran of Iraq and his struggle with the VA for help in a form other than, well, a form. The student had everything against him. He grew faster than his peers, was smarter, wasn’t sports oriented and because of this, painfully shy. I wouldn’t live those years again for love nor money.

     While reading I was trying to decide who was going to become so desperately unhappy and ill that spraying a busy beach with bullets was the thing to do and it wasn’t until it happened that I knew for sure. To keep me going till the very last page, well, that’s the sign of a good book!


Friday, January 22, 2021


 Back during the first lock down quarantine shuttering I went a little crazy on getting into the scrap pile and using them up.  By the time nice weather came and we could be away from each other outdoors I had five quilt tops to sandwich.  I did that, then saved them for this winter for something to do during second lockdown quarantine shuttering.

No vaccine for PH and I yet.  We are pretending to be patient.

This one was pretty much just a  scrap pile nine patch but that also means I don't care how it's used. PH's aunt Marcella called them utility quilts. I big stitch quilted it and it turned out just fine. Elizabeth likes it.

Sheepbunnies are finished, also.  I put the bindings on both of these so I could stitch them down while watching the inauguration.  I do like blue so this one really makes me smile.
For some reason I don't know why I made this little hearts thing.  I'm not a hearts person but once again I had small pieces and was making cookies one day using the heart cookie cutter and thought, "hmmm..."   I have a thing about finishing a quilt.  I think if you liked/loved it enough to make it then you have to like/love it enough to finish it.   My hoop is going through another gluing right now so it might have to wait till tomorrow.  

So, two big quilts down, three to go.

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Better days

 It has been an emotional couple of weeks.  Unbelievable, heartbreaking, any of those adjectives you can think of to express utter disbelief in the degree of  ignorance we saw on January 6.  

I was ever so thankful and felt the hugs of my international friends checking in on me January 6.  Brian in England, Elke in Germany, Jenny and Donna in Australia, Anne in France.  All of you were concerned about me and PH and our country and expressed your utter disbelief in what you were seeing right along with us.  

These last two weeks were as filled with angst as election day.  But in the end, decency does prevail.  Just like a good cream, integrity does rise to the top.

The star, tear-filled moment of the inauguration was the swearing in of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris but the young poet laureate Amanda Gorman will become a household word after her words today, which I include here:

"Mr. President, Dr. Biden, Madam Vice President, Mr. Emhoff, Americans and the world, when day comes we ask ourselves where can we find light in this never-ending shade? The loss we carry asea we must wade. We’ve braved the belly of the beast. We’ve learned that quiet isn’t always peace. In the norms and notions of what just is isn’t always justice. And yet, the dawn is ours before we knew it. Somehow we do it. Somehow we’ve weathered and witnessed a nation that isn’t broken, but simply unfinished. We, the successors of a country and a time where a skinny black girl descended from slaves and raised by a single mother can dream of becoming president only to find herself reciting for one.

And yes, we are far from polished, far from pristine, but that doesn’t mean we are striving to form a union that is perfect. We are striving to forge our union with purpose. To compose a country committed to all cultures, colors, characters, and conditions of man. And so we lift our gazes not to what stands between us, but what stands before us. We close the divide because we know to put our future first, we must first put our differences aside. We lay down our arms so we can reach out our arms to one another. We seek harm to none and harmony for all. Let the globe, if nothing else, say this is true. That even as we grieved, we grew. That even as we hurt, we hoped. That even as we tired, we tried that will forever be tied together victorious. Not because we will never again know defeat, but because we will never again sow division.

Scripture tells us to envision that everyone shall sit under their own vine and fig tree and no one shall make them afraid. If we’re to live up to her own time, then victory won’t lie in the blade, but in all the bridges we’ve made. That is the promise to glade, the hill we climb if only we dare. It’s because being American is more than a pride we inherit. It’s the past we step into and how we repair it. We’ve seen a forest that would shatter our nation rather than share it. Would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy. This effort very nearly succeeded.

But while democracy can be periodically delayed, it can never be permanently defeated. In this truth, in this faith we trust for while we have our eyes on the future, history has its eyes on us. This is the era of just redemption. We feared it at its inception. We did not feel prepared to be the heirs of such a terrifying hour, but within it, we found the power to author a new chapter, to offer hope and laughter to ourselves so while once we asked, how could we possibly prevail over catastrophe? Now we assert, how could catastrophe possibly prevail over us?

We will not march back to what was, but move to what shall be a country that is bruised, but whole, benevolent, but bold, fierce, and free. We will not be turned around or interrupted by intimidation because we know our inaction and inertia will be the inheritance of the next generation. Our blunders become their burdens. But one thing is certain, if we merge mercy with might and might with right, then love becomes our legacy and change our children’s birthright.

So let us leave behind a country better than one we were left with. Every breath from my bronze-pounded chest we will raise this wounded world into a wondrous one. We will rise from the gold-limbed hills of the West. We will rise from the wind-swept Northeast where our forefathers first realized revolution. We will rise from the Lake Rim cities of the Midwestern states. We will rise from the sun-baked South. We will rebuild, reconcile and recover in every known nook of our nation, in every corner called our country our people diverse and beautiful will emerge battered and beautiful. When day comes, we step out of the shade aflame and unafraid. The new dawn blooms as we free it. For there is always light. If only we’re brave enough to see it. If only we’re brave enough to be it."

      By the time she finished PH and I found ourselves sitting here with mouths open in gaping wonder. 

      After today I will probably feel like blogging again after two weeks of wandering the house hoping against all hope the hatred and violence and lies and distrust and meanness and pomposity and fear would end as the den of thieves boarded a plane and went away. 

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

What I Learned First

Friend Barb sent a picture of a nice quilt hoop and asked me if it was like mine.  I chuckled a bit and thought about the story of my handy dandy humble hoop.  As I was taking a drive in the countryside I started to think about how I quilt and that led to how I do things in general and that led to some philosophical thoughts I won't bore you with but coupled with those thoughts and the drive I came home feeling blog inspired!

Contrary to how I usually move, I really am a slow worker.  I cook from scratch, use utensils found at estate sales that other people have used, the kitchen drawers are not filled with cute gadgets that only do one thing.  I multi-task, improvise, compromise, think on the fly when I cook.  Recipes are suggestions.

When I work on a quilt I don't have a lot of tools and gadgets that serve just one purpose.  I don't have a drawer full of fancy rulers, a zillion colors of threads kept in an organized way.  I don't have a super duper sewing machine that could launch the Space Shuttle, I don't have one of those nice acrylic extending things that make for a nice flat surface to sew along, I don't even have a big ironing board.  I use a table top ironing board from Ikea and only just bought a wool mat woo hoo! I use scissors that cut, Jack the Ripper is my best friend, threads are kept in two baskets: white/neutral and colors.  I dig around a lot. I did graduate to a rotary cutter and cutting mat.

It's all very basic.  Portable.  Simple.  Do I envy the super quilters?  Sometimes.  Would I trade with them? No. There's a children's book called What You Know First and it's based on the scientific premise that when you do something new for the first time you will remember it best.   When I learned to quilt there were no rotary cutters or mats.  We were one step up from cutting templates from empty cereal boxes.  But that's how I learned.  Do it by hand.  Friend Marilyn still, after all her many years of making quilts still quilts with the stab method because that's how she learned so many years ago.

This is my humble hoop.  It's a simple, basic 14 inch embroidery hoop that a long ago neighbor mounted on little legs and a bottom for me.  I was so excited when I took my first stitches I stopped what I was doing and ran over to his house and hugged him. Not having to juggle the hoop, putting the base on my lap so I can stick my hand underneath, well, it revolutionized my quilting task.  This thing has been screwed and glued over the years but it still works.   It's been a very tempting thing to consider buying a Barnett hoop but the decisions are too many right now.  Square?  Round?  Flat base?  Padded base?  What if I don't like it?  

This is what I have space for in my life and house, it's not fast but fast isn't always best. I don't do things to be fast. I know some people who do fabulous machine quilting and a couple of times I've sent things out to be machine quilted. Does my slow way of quilting mean I'm a snob about hand work? I hope not. It's just what I learned first.

I am amending my post to include something I thought of on my drive but didn't carry the thought into the house but Robin ( in comments) touched on.

We continue to learn new things and adapt to new things and ideas.  Where would we be if we didn't learn and adapt to make our lives a bit better.  If we are stubborn about learning and adapting we would  still be using stone spears.  Certainly not computers.  I mentioned in a previous post that at retreat we are a room full of people who all do the same thing - quilt - but in different ways and it's all good.


The Fortunate Ones








Much is said and written about class structure and the rightness of giving the less fortunate their chance at the good life and giving people the opportunity to make a choice. And all of that is absolutely true. But what happens when someone who was born to a single mother, goes to a school whose student body is from the same unrealized class background you are a part of, whose mother works more than one job to make a life for you and yet you don’t feel any less loved? And what happens when your mother gets you admitted as a scholarship student in a school for the elites? A school inhabited with students whose lives are golden, who live by entirely different rules? You see your chance and you take it but a chance doesn’t mean your new life will be easy. The chance opens your eyes but you now have decisions to make.

Charlie Boykin was just such a person. He had friends, a stable enough life, could tell right from wrong, was a good student and then everything changed when he was offered a scholarship to a Nashville elite school. He is befriended by Archer Creigh and thrust into Archer’s world. Because Archer accepts Charlie everyone else does, too, and he becomes the trusted friend and decisions become easier because, well, he’s one of “them” now, right?

But the golden life has a cost and while Charlie is taking advantage of the opportunities he is given, he also knows where he came from. It isn’t easy fitting in to a world that really isn’t yours and many who are given the chance don’t make it because the cost is too high, the values too different, the acceptance rate too low and if you aren’t willing to do the work with blinders on, well, Charlie had decisions to make at every turn.

This is a very well written look at this question of the haves vs. the have nots. The question is put before us in the news every single day.