Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Back to the pool

Goodness, it's been far too long. According to Strava, the last time I swam was waaaay back at the end of October. Yikes! It was back to the pool today and as I swam lap after lap, I could tell it had been a while but I also remembered why I love going there.

I watch the large clock/timer on the wall at the far end of the pool deck and wait until it is at 57 seconds. Then I start the chrono on my watch and slip into the pool, push off the wall and start to stroke fast. The water feels cold and it takes me about two and a half laps to warm up. The next 20 or 30 seem effortless, back and forth, back and forth, reach and roll, pull, elbow out, reach and roll, pull. I know my stroke needs work. I am slower now since I haven't been in the pool for awhile, but I will hit a plateau after a couple of weeks and not be able to go any faster. I think it's my stroke dynamics, or lack thereof.

Ah, well. I am not a racer. I am a plodder in the pool, but I'm ok with that. The point is to be there, to enjoy the swim and enjoy how good I feel when I'm done. The best kind of tired.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Happy birthday, Levi

Two years ago today, we welcomed this little man into the world. That sweet, contemplative little one has grown into a sweet, funny, tender, loving two year old. Just a week or so ago, he started saying, "Gramma." I think he could say it before then but it got to be a little joke between us on skype.

"What's my name?"

"That's not my name! What's my name?"
"Papa!" ... and on it would go with a tilt of his head and a teasing smile.

But now, he says, "Gramma!"

Today, I said "Happy birthday, Levi. I love you."
He replied, "Happy birthday to you, Gramma. I wuv u too."

Knock me over with a feather.

Saying hello for the first time two years ago 
saying good-bye back at the end of my visit back in November

Happy birthday, little man!

Monday, January 11, 2016

A rare, dear friend

This blog, I've decided, is like one of those rare, dear, old friends with whom time between conversations doesn't matter. A week, a month, a year ... it makes no difference at all. You just pick right up where you left off, no recriminations, no guilt, no apologies. You both know that life is full and that the silence is not indicative of anything. It only shows that time has passed, more quickly by the year. It really doesn't matter how long it's been, when the call comes and that beloved name pops up on your caller ID, you answer with eagerness and delight.

With such friends, I always -  we always - endeavor to reach out more often and we laugh at ourselves each time we say those words to each other, knowing that it will not likely be so. Ah well, we love each other and each connection is a precious gift, perhaps made more so by the infrequency. Friends like that are rare and very much to be cherished. I have several and my life is so much richer for them.

You may not feel quite that way about this old blog. But maybe it's just a wee bit like that.

Hello, then. Let's just pick right up where we left off, shall we?


The holidays came and went. They were wonderful. Five of my boys, three daughters-in-law, and one grandbaby were here for varying amounts of time. We squeezed in and I loved every minute of it. Everyone helped to cook and clean. Baby David had lots of time with adoring aunts and uncles. We played games and because it was so very warm, we sat on the porch. One night, we sat outside around the fire. I didn't take very many pictures. I just wanted to live in the time together without a camera between me and all the sweetness of having my family here. We missed our NY crew, but goodness, where would I have put them. A tent, perhaps?

I didn't make resolutions really. Just told myself that once the holidays were over, it would be back to regular routines and life giving habits.

Time at my desk first thing each morning with my Bible and prayer notebook.

Cleaner, lighter, less sugary eating. I'm usually quite ready for that by the time the new year rolls around.

Regular walks/runs/rides/swims and a bit more stretching. I've already been to the eye doctor and had a physical this month and I don't take my rather low maintenance good health for granted. It is a gift and I am very grateful.

I do have some sewing and work goals in the months ahead. Exciting developments with Make Welcome and eagerness to learn more, sew more. More on all that to come ...

I also have reading goals for the year. I'm upping my goodreads challenge again, this year to 70 books. Some of those 70 books will be a part of my "Read Around the World, from A to Z" adventure. I expect this will take me several years, as I try to read a book about or by an author from every country. I'm not going in any particular order, but the alphabet is a good guide. I've started with Afghanistan and finished two books already. My library stack is growing.


My children left over the space of a few days after Christmas, thankfully not all at once. Joel was here til after New Year's so that was good. A slow-ish transition for me from the fullness to the quiet. I love them both. I love pulling the table apart and putting in all the leaves, setting the old church bench for two to sit on at the end of the table, and three French presses in constant use. And I love the small table and clear counters and uninterrupted hours. I miss my children - and grandchildren - and do wish they weren't spread nearly so far and wide. On the other hand, seeing a picture like this one makes my heart happy. Uncle Andrew explored subway grates and chased pigeons and did a bit more in New York City this past weekend with Erin, Luke, and the kids. I would have loved to be with them, but I didn't have to be there to feel intensely happy about that time they had together.

 Happy New Year, friends. I'll be back soon.

Friday, November 06, 2015

And he's off ... again

It's been a fall of travel for Coty. Three weeks in India back in October, and today he heads to China! We got in a last ride before his trip yesterday afternoon. It's been so rainy this week, it was nice to see a bit of blue sky and feel the sun on our backs before it clouded up again.

We ride out on the country roads and pass corn, soybean, canola, and cotton fields. This time of year the cotton is in full fruit. Think of it this way: earlier in the summer the cotton flowered and over the last couple of months that flower has developed into the "fruit", just the way an apple flower that blooms in the spring develops into and apple in the fall. Now, I don't know if it is botanically correct to call the white, fluffly bolls a fruit, but I'm going to go with it this morning!

Here my non-southern friends who may have never seen this, is a field of cotton ...

and here are some cotton bolls ...

and here are two sweaty riders wearing no cotton because it isn't good cycling fabric, one with a squinty left eye and the other with misty glasses standing in front of a cotton field along a country road with, of course, a pick-up truck about to drive by ...
We had a good and happy ride. I had a personal best time on one of the hills I really dislike, so I like it a tiny bit better now. Coty won't be doing any cycling for a couple of weeks so when I pack up to go to Virginia, where we will reunite just before Thanksgiving, guess what I'll be taking with me. Yep ... bikes.

Thursday, November 05, 2015

Listen while you work

When I sew, when I walk, when I drive ... I listen to podcasts. Here are a few of the craft, maker, sewing, quilting, ones I like:

The Crafty Planner - Sandi Hazlewood, the host, is, as she says in the intro, "a city planner who loves all things crafty." Her podcast leans toward fabric and quilt designers, but includes other types of creatives. Sandi most often asks about creative process and these discussions are often quite interesting.

While She Naps - Abby Glassenburg interviews people in the sewing/quilting/craft business. I like the recommendations section of each podcast where she invites her guest to share two or three recommendations. These range from useful tools to time management apps, to books, and lots more. Abby also focuses quite a bit on the business side of creative work.

Smart, Creative Women - Monica Lee, the host, is a little gushy for my taste, but she has some interesting guests. Lots here on branding, styling, and trends as well as encouraging creative pursuits.

I also listen to LOTS of recorded books using the Freading app on my phone. And then there's Pandora. My most listened to stations lately - Gillian Welch, The Wailin' Jennys, Jill Phillips, The Oh Hello's (thanks for that one, Joel) and when I don't want words, Arvo Part.

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Where do the saris come from?

For the last three years I've made quilts for the Sari Bari auctions. The saris are sent to the US quilters and we sew them into quilts that are auctioned for the benefit of Sari Bari. Those quilts are some of my most favorite of the ones I've made in these last few years.

In October, this article was posted on the Sari Bari blog. I loved reading about the process of buying, sorting, and using the saris in the Kantha quilts that the women make.

I have a stash of saris from three years of quilt auctions. I'm feeling the draw to pull them out and work with those fabrics again ...

This year's quilt ... in process back in March/April

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Helloooo November Ramble ...

What? November? Whirlwind of a year, but that's what they all say, right? Coty has an explanation for why time seems to speed up up as you age. As you get older each year that passes is a smaller percentage of the years you've lived so relative to your life, each year is proportionately less. That's why they seem to speed by faster and faster.

For example, when you turn six, as my grandaughter Clara did in September, you have lived six years and each of those years is 1/6th of your life. When you turn 60, as my sweet husband will do next March, each year is 1/60th of your life. Even I, who had math nightmares in college, know that 1/60th of a pie is a whole lot less than 1/6th of a pie -  or year, as the case may be. That 1/60th of your life was tiny, it sped by, Christmas seemed to come so much sooner than it did when you were 6, when that 1/6th of your life dragged by at a snail's pace. You all have probably already thought of this years ago, but numbers don't come naturally to me so when he told me this some time ago it was quite a revelation.

Anyway ... it is a rainy, rainy morning here. Pouring. It's supposed to do this all day and I couldn't be happier. I will stay inside and finish the decluttering of my sewing studio, put everything that is currently piled up in the dining room away on the shelves in the fabric section of the garage, finish prepping and send off the latest installment of "Gramma's Craft Club" to Clara, and practice straight line quilting with the walking foot on my old, old Singer.


It's Tuesday now. Election day. I voted for Town Council. That was the only race on today's ballot in my town. Turnout is always so low for these non-presidential year elections. I heard someone talking on the radio the other day about how the local elections are the ones that really affect our day to day lives in our communities. Who gets elected today will determine how much more needless retail development is allowed in my town, how many more housing developments get built, whether or not a bike path is built or parks maintained, whether or not this community is welcoming to a diversity of people or only interested in attracting high-end development.


I started watching Paula Reid's Craftsy class on machine quilting yesterday while I prepped the quilt sandwich. It's pretty good so far. I am convinced that Paula's two table method for prepping the quilt and pin basting is far better than crawling around on the floor like I've been doing.


Sometimes you find exactly what you're looking for! That happened last Friday. I went to a local antique mall in search of something to use for displaying all the scarves that the women of Make Welcome have sewn this fall. Our sister business, Journey Home, had two craft show/sales coming up and we needed something to hang all those scarves on. I looked at old apple orchard ladders, beat up step ladders and other hanging options and was just about to give up. I decided to walk down one. more. aisle. And there it was. The perfect rack.

Dusted it off and filled it with scarves for the Front Porch Sunday Market.
We'll use it again on Thursday evening at the Silent Images, Women in Focus event 
on the Artisan Marketplace.
 These wool/tweed/linen patchwork scarves, lined with corduroy, are my current favorites. They're made from a mix of old wool skirts, donated wool yardage, design sample fabrics, and purchased corduroy. I'm hitting up thrift stores now for more wool and linen items that we can cut up and use. 

What do you think?

And that rack? When it's not doing duty at shows and sales, it'll have a spot right in the corner of my studio for hanging fabric. Win/win!