Sunday, April 29, 2007

One year ago today I recorded my first entry in my journal. I look back on that year with tons of good memories . I met many people all over the world, and made many friends. And unlike years of schooling –where I found many friendships were based on people’s looks or possessions—I’ve made friends that have no idea what I look like or if I live in a straw house or a glass mansion.

I found that I’m pretty normal and lots of women go through the same juggling act of working, raising a family, and treasuring a few moments of quiet for a passion they have. The passion--- quilting.

I’ve told others before, that in the past year, while reading literally hundreds of entries, I never once read about someone in a panic to complete a quilt because a loved one was going to sleep cold tonight. In today’s world, while many ARE kept warm by those quilts, I think women quilt for other reasons. I think it’s an artistic expression that allows emotions to be placed into something tangible.

Until this year, I never quilted something and gave it away. I don’t know whether I never pushed to have the time, or subconscious maybe I felt my projects weren’t good enough. But in the past year, I given 9 projects away. I think the graciousness of quilters is contagious. I also think quilting is a gift in itself, and it’s a gift better given away the kept hidden inside yourself.

I love reading about the different seasons around the world.

It’s fascinating when I see someone do what I call, “Quilt Ogl-ing”. That quilt could just be strips sewn in a straight line, but they can tell you a story about the fabric, a story about the pattern, or even a story about the reason they’re making that piece. They aren’t methodically going through the motions as a reason to an end---there’s definitely a soulful reason to their quest.

On an average I get to quilt maybe 2 hours a week—sometimes as much as 4 hours, but then there are times when I go entire week without a stitch.. I think reading about other quilters has taught me patience and finding blessings in little things—sewing a button on Chelsey’s shirt, walking along a dirt road with Ransom, or just swinging….

….. on my Covered Porch…..

The photograph – a gift from Don’s sister.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

OK, people find beauty in different places, in different things. While some may think the picture below is ugly—it’s not. It’s a photograph of promise…The Upper Peninsula is waking up.
This is my Lilac bush coming back to life after a long winter’s nap. My first sign of spring. I’ve been looking for days—for weeks.

My Mother-in-law and Sister-in-law are flying in tomorrow for a visit. I’m looking so forward to seeing them. Tonight might be a little busy getting things ready, but the minute their plane lands I’ll be relaxing. They’re real low maintenance and team players game to do almost anything.

I’ve been catching up on my journal reading. Lots of great quilts out there –

Warming Temperatures Outside
Macaroni and Cheese
Chocolate Mint Anything

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Good Morning—I can honestly say, I’ve missed posting and quilting like you wouldn’t believe. I keep telling myself there’s time for everything; I just have to do it in the right order.

Catch up—the last week was packed with stuff. I survived the high school field trip. Yep –I’m no longer a rookie when it comes to chaperoning. Greyhound buses have DVD players now. Granted, they only played ‘teenie bopper’ shows, but I quilted and was happy as a lark. I’m so glad I went. I roomed with another Mom of a teenage girl and found out all of my teenage trauma is pretty normal. Eric drove over and went to a banquet with Chelsey and her friends. I saw him sitting at a table with 11 girls… he was in heaven. It meant a lot to Chelsey too. This was a state conference and they elected officers. She had been determined to run for President. Her Dad and I told her to go for it, but I think inside the “Mother thing” worried about her getting hurt. Our school didn’t even have voting rights. But she went for it anyway and is now the President of the organization for our state. Her response, “ Mom, I’m no different than a lot of the kids here… I was just willing to take the risk.” I was never that brave.

We got home Friday evening and Saturday was Prom. By 3:00 pm, my home was converted to the “Central Park” restaurant.
Central Park was the Prom theme this year.
I’ll put a slide show on the side bar, when I get the pictures back. But here’s a couple. These were signs in the front yard and doorway of the house.
Twelve couples were there and they were all beautiful. The Seasonal theme played out well. The pumpkins and snowman quilts came out of hiding along with the Christmas tree and Picnic baskets for summer. Of course everyone had their tableware wrapped in plaid napkins and tied with jute to the corresponding season. I even heard kids talking about “ how cool “ it was (if you can believe it!?!). So I don’t think “Plaid Appreciation” is a disappearing tradition like I once did… So here’s Chelsey.

Teenage Triumphs and Trauma (what I would miss out on without them)
Plaid Napkins
A Job that finances these things

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Yesterday I received a belated birthday gift from my Mom – a subscription to American Patchwork and Quilting. I feel pretty special. She’s a neat lady.

I have to work on the attitude this morning. You have no idea how much I want to stay home in my sewing room. I wanted to be there last night but I completed something else. Chelsey has Prom this weekend. She’s “sweet-talked” her dad into grilling with all the trimmings for 24 classmates before the dance. It’s like Don says, “Mel, you just can’t have people over for dinner--- you have to go all out, don’t cha!?!” We’ve been getting things ready. A couple of Moms stepped up to the plate to help. You bet there will be pictures. I’ve been researching on how to put a slideshow on my journal page to spare those who aren’t interested. It should be fun. The weather is supposed to cooperate. I don’t have 24 of anything… so I came up with the idea… The Prom theme is ‘Central Park’. So the dinner theme is “Central Park through the seasons….” We’ve got four tables of 6, Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter… Each table gets a corner for decorations. We’ll use my seasonal dishes---I hope it all comes together. I have spent $22.26 on decorations, which includes paper for hand made invitations and place cards, a set of artificial tulips, plastic forks for dessert, two cans of spray paint, and an extra breadbasket. The rest of the decorations are just things we’ve found around the house—kind of fun. The horse buggy got a touch up of paint for photographs. Don doesn’t know it yet, but the artificial tree is coming back out for the winter corner….

I guess I better head out to work. My body may be there today, but my heart will be back in my sewing room—it needs to be picked up… I don’t even mind doing it. I just have to get the time. Last night I rounded up all the fabric out of place, through it in a clothesbasket and brought it upstairs and folded it while watching a few moments of TV. It was 62 degrees today as I worked on decorations out on the back porch. While 62 may seem chilly to most—in the U.P.—with the sun shining---it felt like a sunny day in Florida….

Phone call from Don’s Sister
Spring being just around the corner
My kids

Friday, April 13, 2007

I finished it at 9:15 pm last night. It’s for a girl I work with. Her birthday is today on Friday the 13th. I’m not superstitious, though I don’t believe in tempting fate. And wouldn’t it be incredible if fortune cookies were true.
Ok – back to the bag. The pattern is called Kimmie's Tote by Indygo Junction. I really can’t picture her carrying the bag, I can see her hanging it on the door and filling it with flowers. Here's a snapshot of the label I sewed on the inside. The card is a fabric postcard with a red Popsicle.
I wrote on the opposite side, “I hope today is one of those days that there’s nothing that a Red Popsicle can’t fix…” Remember those days.. A skinned knee, a broken toy, a rainy day.. A Popsicle cured just about everything….

Inside the bag I put ‘Flair’ pens--- The Brand name suits her. Oh, And Packs of Gum. We both work in the ‘Guy’s’ world. But as women, sometimes you can get so angry tears come to your eyes when you don’t want them to. Last week I went into her office, and said, “ I can’t do this, I’m so angry, look at these tears, how will I be taken seriously?” She opened her desk drawer and handed me a piece of gum. “ I don’t know,” she said, “But this works for me, when you feel the tears, just chew harder…” Hey, it worked.

We’ve talk about stamping, scrapbook paper, and quilting, oh and ribbon (If I had planned better, I would have filled the bag with ribbon) She’s got this wild ribbon thing. She’s about the first person that I can be a friend with and still tell her she’s wrong if I think she is. And when I’m out of line or wrong about something she pipes up. We don’t dwell on work, because with confidentialities, there are tons of things we can’t talk about. We don’t talk on the phone. I don’t see her before or after work. Both of our lives are way to wrapped up in themselves to do that…but every now and then it’s really great to have a friend at work.

I hope she has a great birthday.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Happy Thursday—the day before Friday—I can make it through anything. First of all, credit where credit is due. Eric was home over the weekend. I told him I wanted to change the banner on my journal. He asked me to pick out a few pictures and he created the masterpiece at the top of the page. They’re photos previously posted as different entries in my journal. Yeah – this is one of those many perks of having him come home for the weekend. In five minutes he had it put together. It would have taken a half of a day for me. I think he’s pretty great.

The patches below will be completed into a birthday gift for a girl at work tonight.
Her birthday is tomorrow and we’ll have the completion photo. I don’t know that the colors are “her", but I know that I picture her in brights and these are the best I could pull from a stash of Thimbleberries and homespuns.

Ransom and I went out for the third day in a row with the camera, canvassing the land for a sign of spring. I looked far and wide. And I decided that while these evergreens aren’t a sign of spring, I’m pretty grateful.
Without them the forest would be pretty void in color, lots of grays and browns. At first I thought I had bad pictures or the lens was dirty, but then I realized it was snowflakes falling that distorted the pictures.
The shots were keepers because the remind me, this is reality for this part of the world. But the snow does melts and the flowers will grow, and come November, I’ll be just as glad to see the snow as I am the flowers in May.

Blue Spruce Trees
Friends & Birthday Gifts
Pizza Night

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

No pictures today. I was going about my day. Got up for the day, fed Ransom, Breakfast and off to work. I talk with Eric about 6:30 am and Chelsey about 8:00 am. Going through the day with the daily routine. I work in the back of the airport hangar (Chelsey calls it the ghetto of the hangar). I had walked up front to bring some filing and noticed a couple at the window. So I asked, “What’s up?” the response,” They’re bring that guy home from Iraq”….

I walked outside and stood on by the runway. There wind chills were in the teens, it was 25 degrees, -- no coat--but there was no way I was walking off. I stood there out of respect. I saw the color guard. I was OK. I observed the casket with the red, white, and blue covering it. I was dealing with it. I heard the cadence, saw others saluting, I felt heavy hearted. I when I heard the cries of family members twenty feet away, I grieved. My heart broke for them.

But this day, this entry is not about me, it’s about the family of this fallen soldier…my heart, my prayers go out to them. I can even imagine what they are going through. The strength your faith must have to carry on after something like that.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

OK – I’ve been tagged by Libby to name five blogs that keep me thinking for the Thinking Blog Award. Pretty cool.

The first would have to be Joanne, It’s how I got started blogging. I was researching Rocking Chairs when her blog came up. I love her cabin pictures, and her quilting colors charm me.

Juliann’s Unwritten Blog is another that I would miss if she ever stopped writing. She is the person that makes me believe I can do it all—work, parent, housekeep, and QUILT.

Leanne Beasley’s Leanne's house Journal is another one I would recommend to everyone. I had kind of gotten off track about the reason I quilt and found her journal and to quote her,” Quilting is to enjoy the process because it’s the journey not the end.”

Carolyn at Lakeside Quilting always does the best shopping. I love her machine quilting and when she talks about family.

I’d tag Libby but she got me first. She’s the one that teaches me if it makes any since that “There’s Perfection in Imperfection”. She’s taught me I’m my own worst critic. There’s beauty in scraps and that many times it’s scraps that are treasured more than the full lengths of uncut cloth. And when it comes to raising daughters…. She’s been down the path I’m walking now so she offers sound advice. She chooses to be a homemaker but she’d make a fortune in “Teen Trauma”.

We’re bracing for more snow… I guess that’s why they invented pastel colored sweaters….

Saturday, April 07, 2007

I've stated before-- religion is a very personal thing. I hope everyone's Easter is truly special. If you're not a religious person Easter can be a time of new beginnings and fresh starts. Or maybe a time to decide what you do believe in...
Here's our Spring Tree in the foyer--- An old branch stuck in an ice cream bucket.
At the base sits an old bunny of mine made from teadyed bath towel. I think the collar of the dress was made from dishtowels. I love her wooden nose.

Lastly, here's an ornament off the tree-- a bunny angel in patchwork. Look around you, you'll find your passions in everything you have. Don says it's coincidences.... I don't think so.

Enjoy your family... sew on patches if you need to... remember it's patches that hold things together.

Covered Porches and Wooden Screen Doors

Friday, April 06, 2007

I’ve been quilting for an hour a day since Sunday. And the quilt for Chelsey’s Spanish field trip is complete. I have one side of binding left to tuck under and the label. I machine quilted it a little each night. I set a target area and a time slot on the clock. I got a piece a bubble gum (a trick from a friend) and went at it. It was not a bad experience at all; I had fun. It’s the second big quilt I’ve machine quilted –The size 60 x 75. I guess practice and time limits make a difference--- at least for me.

It’s been a good week. I was even talking about it last night, trying to figure out exactly why it’s been a good week. The weather was pitiful. Work was stressful. There’s a list of things incomplete. With Eric & Chelsey at home—sleep is pretty limited (but I’d rather have them than sleep!) But I figured it out--- I felt good. Ransom and I have been faithful on our treks until the blizzard, and I’ve hit the workout room when I got home. With the exception of Dark chocolate M & M’s, I’ve given up the junk food.

You know you can have all the money in the world, all the possessions, and even all the time--- and none of them mean any thing if you don’t feel good enough to enjoy them.

A house full of family asleep
My favorite blue jeans

Thursday, April 05, 2007

I’m still here. Work has been busy, but I’ve gotten a lot of things accomplished. I have to work tomorrow, but it should be a quiet day.

We’ve had blizzard winds for the past 48 hours. We eased by with just a couple inches of snow, but the winds have been fierce. The sun has been breaking through the clouds and howling winds today. You can make it through just about anything if the sun is shining. A memory--- when I was a little girl growing up in Louisiana, the first day my mother would let us go barefooted was my birthday March 15th. I have seen more “birthday” home movies without shoes. That was back before going barefooted was dangerous, and health codes, and it was the cool thing to do. (Please don’t think I’m some kind of red-neck) We thought it was a treat---you didn’t have to go to the trouble of putting on shoes. Needless to say—times, styles and venues have changed.

This picture is about as close to spring as I’ll get.
Look past imperfection, it’s the 3rd quilted piece I ever made. It was about 15 years ago. I went into a gift shop and saw this piece. It was made by an Amish person, they were asking $100.00. No, I did not have $100 to spend on something as frivolous as something to hang on the wall. I must have admired it weekly for 2 months. Knowing the price would never decrease, I brought a pen and paper and baby on my hip, and drew the project out. I told Don about it. I appliquéd and quilted the piece. It has uneven stitches and wavy lines that should be straight, but he built the oak basket frame and it still hangs in my bedroom today. I had never heard of fabric brands and pretty much taught myself everything I had known up to this point. I guess it proves to me that quilting was not a fad for me; it’s something constant inside of who I am. The frame is more awesome to me than the quilt. I have contemplated changing the quilting--- I hope my skill and techniques are a little more defined 15 years later, but then I realize this piece marks a place in time and deserves its place on the wall.

Eric’s safe travel home through snow and wind.

Monday, April 02, 2007

A weekend having friends over was fun. The dinner turned out fine and the company was even better. We also saw the blue prints of the house some friends are building. It’s incredibly exciting. There are so many new technologies out there. But at the end of the day, they left with their blue prints and I never loved my house any less. I guess I’ve finally reached an age of contentment because even though my styles aren’t the “in thing” and everything could probably use a coat of paint, I don’t think I would trade.

I cut out the appliqué pieces for my Primitive garden block. I also got fabric for the backing of the “Spanish Field Trip” quilt.
I stretched it and got it pinned and basted. It's even one third of the way machine quilted. I kicked around doing the “Quilt for an Hour” quilt this month. I definitely want to quilt for an hour a day, but I have this project already started that needs completing. When I get too many things going I get overwhelmed.

My Sunday school class had twelve kids on Sunday. We made Macaroni pictures from colored shaped macaroni to create a picture: “God Loves all Shapes and Sizes”. I’ve completed their Easter Cards, so the slate is cleared for quilting all week.

It’s been a pretty rainy weekend, but I keep telling myself the rain will help turn everything green. We have a chance of snow from tonight all the way through Sunday. Don hasn’t been into exercising here lately. It’s harder doing it alone. Ransom and I are still hitting the trail daily and this weekend I got another few miles in on the elliptical machine. It’s just harder doing it alone, but I have to get my mind set. If I don’t keep my strength up, I find myself working and sleeping and nothing else. … and that’s no way to live.

1. Macaroni – for SS projects and Cheese.
2. Watching Old Movies with Chelsey –“Practical Magic”
3. Flower Seeds bought over the weekend