Monday, February 27, 2006

Girl's Weekend Out!

I had a fun and quilty weekend at a Mystery Quilt Retreat with quilt maven Linda Ballard in the lovely Interstate roadstop town of Williams, CA. The retreat was held at Granzella's Inn and took place Friday night through Sunday afternoon.

What, you ask, is a Mystery Quilt? A mystery quilt is a class in which the participant does not know what the finished product will look like. We are given quantities of fabric to bring and desirable values/scales of the fabric prints that will work well with the design. A certain amount of pre-cutting is required so sewing can begin immediately in class.

I met my online "Fat Quarter" friends (this is the name of an email list we've all belonged to for 8 or 9 years). For the ignorant, Fat Quarter does not indicate a body part. A Fat Quarter is a half yard of fabric that is cut in half horizontally (on the fold) making it still a quarter of a yard, but it is now 18" x 22" instead of 9 1/2" x 44". Capisce? Anyway, Kathy B. from Yolo and Molly E. from Sacramento met me at the retreat and our other partner Nancy M. was unable to join us due to family committments.

We are pictured at right: Ms.Jan, Nurse Kathy and Miss Molly. The teacher's sample is pictured behind us. We considered this a "warm up" weekend for a week-long retreat we will have at Sisters, OR next summer when The Stitchin Post hosts the 31st annual Sisters' Outdoor Quilt Show on July 8th. We will spend the week before the show sewing sweat shop style and of course shopping our little hearts out at the local stores.

My fabric was actually out of my stash and they were nearly 20 years old! I picked out some fabrics that I bought in 1987 or 88 for a Christmas quilt for my son Daniel. He was 7 or 8 when I bought the fabric, he's 25 now, but better late than never I guess. =) And, since his sister's quilt took 18 years, so who is he to hope for a better record? I do promise that Mr. B will get his sooner......

I came home in the rain and it has been blustery as can be today with more predicted for the next week. I'm very glad because I wasn't ready to say goodbye to winter. We did have a few nice weeks sitting on the deck at night and those days will be back, but I'm glad to have a few more days of good sewing and film noir weather.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Happy Birthday Mr. B!!!

I just got back from five days visiting Mr. B (and his parents, of course). =)

Mom and I did some get-ready shopping for his birthday bash on Saturday that was attended by more than 50 adults and children.

But first, a few reminiscenses of February 17, 2005. Benjamin was born at 12:02 am Thursday 02/17/05 after 72 hours of labor on the part of his mother and her attendants (Dad, Nana and Auntie Sarah), but hot-dam was he worth the wait!

The newborn nursery RN who worked him over at birth commented that his head was larger than his chest and suggested that he might end up as a or not, we like good sized craniums in this clan.

This picture was taken after he got home from the hospital--isn't he adorable?

Here he was on his birthday enjoying his delicious breakfast of scrambled eggs.
Some other changes and milestones:
No more backward facing car seat--yippee!!
The transition from formula to milk.
Is an official "toddler."
Has been walking for about a month (walks like a T. Rex)
Has four words: Mama, Dada, "D" or "Ditty" for their cat D aka Dinah. I tried my best to get him to say "Nana" while I was there, but he waited until after I left.

Here he is with his Mama Kate, who, I can assure you is a whole lot more comfortable than she was a year ago!

We celebrated the official birthday by going out for pizza with Dad and Pop at Me-N-Eds and everyone got to have a beer but Mr. B.

Saturday morning dawned bright and early and we begn the setup for the party.

To the left is a picture of Mr. B enjoying a delicious saltine while posing in front of the "Birthday Card Quilts" I made for him. Using an idea from Sharon F. in the Santa Rosa Quilt Guild, I decided to make mini-quilts for each birthday that could be attached to each other and added-to each year. Thanks for the great idea Sharon!

His "birth" quilt was machine embroidered on my Bernina 440 Aurora using some designs and a font I bought on the internet. It includes some of Benjamin's favorite items (rubber ducky, pacifier) and not-so-favorite (bibs). I hand quilted it on the train ride from Santa Rosa to Fresno during the 3 hour delay. =)

I designed the first birthday card quilt using an alphabet I traced in Electric Quilt 5 and bonded to the background. All the motifs and letters were machine appliqued and then hand quilted.

My idea for the official two year quilt is percolating already, but hey, I have 360 days to procrastinate, so why not?

Happy Birthday my darling Mr. B. I'm so glad you are here!!

I love you,

Monday, February 13, 2006

Happy Birthday Daisy!!

Happy Birthday to my Mother-In-Law, Daisy, pictured here with her parents Waldo and Grover Pryor of Yonkers Oklahoma sometime in the year 1932, in the middle of the Depression and middle of the Dust Bowl.

The family migrated to California several years later ala the Joads in John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath, moving around the state before settling in Tipton and then Visalia.

The family included Daisy and her brothers Vernon, Loren and Mark and sister Maida.

Daisy graduated from Visalia Union High School and was married to her sweetheart Bill Andrews as a child bride.

Sadly, Daisy's father Grover passed away not long after her marriage. He was only 40 years old.

Daisy and Bill had two children, Catherine Christine (Chris) in 1951 and William Michael (Mike or Michael) in 1954. The family moved from Visalia to Bakersfield to Salinas to San Jose following Bill's career with the phone company.

Sadly, Bill died in 1984 at the age of 55. Daisy and Bill had recently built their dream home back in Visalia on five acres that they planted with almond trees.

Daisy moved to Carmel, CA with a roommate and while there she encountered Ed, a retired VP from IBM, a widower with 12 mostly grown children.

Daisy and Ed were married 20 years ago and lived in Maryland, Ed's old stomping ground for a time before settling back in Carmel.
She is the adoring (and adored) grandmother of three great kids, Sarah Andrews, Scott Andrews and Stephen Day (right to left in picture).

Daisy is a self-educated woman and well versed on many topics, and one of the two most well-informed people I know (the other being her son, my dear husband). My two very favorite lefties are pictured at the "left".

I treasure time spent with Daisy and look forward to every visit and mostly I wish her a very HAPPY BIRTHDAY and MANY MORE!!

Love you lots,

Sunday, February 12, 2006

In Memoriam

Most people who know me know that I am not a fan of George Bush and his war in Iraq. Some know that I was in Washington D.C. marching with the thousands who were there to support Cindy Sheehan and the moderate peace action groups who joined her. (There were some uber-left groups there, and I'm not part of that gig). I just do not believe that war is the answer for anything....ever.

Whenever I watch The News Hour or This Week with George Stephanopoulos I wait for the "In Memoriam" segment at the end of the show and I watch the names of the soldiers with their ages and places of residence in silence and privately bless them and wish them well. As each name flashes by, I ponder at the youth of some and when an older soldier comes up I wonder if they have a spouse and children left behind. As a mother, I'm glad that none of my children or their significant others are in harms way, and I sympathize with those mothers whose children are in danger.

Several of my friends in the Santa Rosa Quilt Guild have sons in the military and are members of the local MOMS (mothers of military servicepeople) group. They wear the buttons and insignias of their kid's units proudly and the guild as a whole has joined in supporting the MOMS group by making neck coolers for the soldiers in Iraq and gathering toilet articles, books and other necessities for the troops that our government should supply, but does not.

One friend, N, had her only child, a son aged 21 sent to Iraq in September. N and her husband were lucky enough to spend a number of weeks in Kentucky last summer while C was in training.

Ever since he left, my friend had a "deer in the headlights" look, and I certainly didn't blame her. Who in the world would wish their child--let alone their only child--in a place like that? She was enourmously proud of him as they were a military family and her husband served 20 years in the Navy, but still she worried.

Well, the worst came to pass. On February 1st, his Humvee hit an IED and he was killed in action.

The quilt guild mobilized around the family as did the MOMS group and provided food and letters of comfort. His funeral was yesterday and was standing room only.

It was my first military funeral. The principal speaker was a Brig. Gen. from the 101st Airborne in Ft. Campbell, Kentucky. He was an inspiring speaker and I'm sure his words were a comfort to the family. The thought that kept running through my mind was "what a waste of a young human life!"

At the reception afterward, held in the Vet's Hall, some of his cousins did a PowerPoint presentation with pictures of him as a kid and growing up. As a mother, that just about sent me over the edge. My mind cannot imagine the grief these parents must be experiencing. All of their only child's future celebrations--college graduation, wedding, grandchildren--all being mourned this day.

Last night, after a good deal of expensive red wine, I was able to put some of the thoughts behind me, but today during Stephanopoulos "In Memoriam," there they were--more names, more young lives gone.

And this time, the grief became more real because I've seen it up close and personal.