Thursday, November 24, 2016


You may be reading this the Day After, while you're still digesting turkey/ham/chicken or whatever, with stuffing/potatoes/green beans/jello salad, and pie/pie/pie. And whipped cream. And rolls (almost forgot the rolls) with real butter and homemade jelly. 

In case you're reading it today, Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family. I'm looking forward to a sumptuous feast tomorrow at my Ohio daughter's house.

In the meantime, here are some thoughts on Thanksgiving from other folks. 

“Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.” ~ Epicurus

“Gratitude is a quality similar to electricity: it must be produced and discharged and used up in order to exist at all.” –William Faulkner

“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.” ~ William Arthur Ward

"Thanksgiving dinners take eighteen hours to prepare. They are consumed in twelve minutes. Half-times take twelve minutes. This is not coincidence." --Erma Bombeck


Vegetables are a must on a diet. I suggest carrot cake, zucchini bread, and pumpkin pie. Jim Davis


Some closing thoughts, borrowed from somewhere:

     Live well -- Laugh often -- Love always!

And give thanks!!

Thursday, November 17, 2016

When I began this blog three years ago, my goal was to celebrate life. Good things, questionable things. Best of times, worst of times. Take a deeper look at what's going on in life, ordinary everyday life, and see what we might learn from it. 

Here's what I wrote in the first post:

     There's so much to celebrate in life! Always something
     to discover, to explore; something new to learn or teach;
     new books, new activities, new ideas. New friends, new
     neighbors to serve. New Day equals New Adventure.

I still believe that.

The month of November is officially half over, and we are on the slippery slope toward Christmas, New Year's, and then a whole new calendar for 2017.

In November we've celebrated a variety of events: Daylight Savings Time ended; Election Day came and went; we honored our military personnel on Veteran's Day; and next week we'll gather as families or friends to observe Thanksgiving Day. In my family, we also have two birthdays--a granddaughter-in-law and a great-grandson.

Here's a partial list of what happens in our country during a calendar year:

  • honoring veterans
  • giving thanks
  • welcoming the Christ Child
  • welcoming a new year
  • saying "I Love You"
  • observing Easter
  • honoring the dead
  • remembering our country's birth as a nation
  • honoring workers
  • remembering a birthday
  • saying "I'm thinking of you"
Greeting card companies certainly encourage us to celebrate. So do all commercial enterprises that sell foods, household goods, toys, etc., not to mention decorations. (Halloween has become big in our area--orange lights, ghosts great and small, inflated monsters of dubious ancestry.)

All these events got me wondering. Why is it that we limit ourselves to one day for our celebrations? I'm not lobbying for a week-long hoop-la or "every day is [whatever] day."

And I'm not trying to start a protest here. First thing you know, it'll become an issue, then a movement. If we're not vigilant, we could get so much support we'd become a national institution, demanding our very own day, with a Forever stamp named for us. Cards/decorations/T-shirts with our logo would flood the market.

My thoughts run to the idea of: Why don't we keep the spirit of the event alive?

The Veteran's Day celebration at my church was very moving. Six veterans from a rehab house came to visit and processed down the aisle carrying the colors (flags) of each of the branches of the military. These men looked so serious, so stern. They were not in uniform, but they carried themselves with dignity. I had a hard time finishing the hymn we were singing because of the lump in my throat.

Because one of my grandsons is a veteran, I think of our military personnel often during the year. That's what I mean about keeping the spirit of the celebration alive.

Facebook's 30 Days of Gratitude has brought the practice of giving thanks to the attention of many folks. It's not just a Thanksgiving Day thing.

In my community, people put flowers on the graves of their family members and friends all year through, not only at Memorial Day. We honor all who have died.

In July we have our fireworks displays, picnics, parades . . . another time for remembering those who died in the process of making us a nation.

Labor Day has become a long weekend for vacations or other kinds of events. Yet the reason for the day was to honor workers in our country. Despite unemployment statistics, many people work.


I doubt that many people forget to say "I love you" to those who mean a lot to them. Some people say they don't remember birthdays, not even their own; but I do remember birthdays, my own, those of my family and friends, and even people I don't know well. (Don't ask me why--I don't know.) And I often send little "thinking of you" cards--not much message needed; to know a person is thought of makes a difference.

The stores are already in Christmas mode. My orientation is Christian, so I'm on the welcoming committee for the Christ Child. Celebrations for Christmas need not be lavish. My favorite way to celebrate Christmas is with family--eating a meal together, sharing gifts, catching up on news, seeing the newest baby (in pictures, if not in person). And I try to keep the message of "peace on earth" alive all year through.

Think about how you celebrate--your favorites may not be mine. See if you can come up with a way to keep the spirit of the event alive in your life.

Thursday, November 10, 2016


Some days are better than others. Doubt that I'll get an argument on that.

Some weeks, also, are better than others. There's not much joy in a week that starts out fine and ends, um, crappy. And in my experience, ones that start out crappy, seldom straighten themselves out into something nice.

My past week was a Very Good Week.

Last Friday my sewing group started using Christmas fabrics for the NICU blankets and pillow cases. Yes, we're early for the season, but I wrote last time about preparing ahead of time. The NICU will have Christmas blankies and pillow cases in December.

Saturday I went to the library for something to read (none of the several hundred books in my house called my name); later I spent a couple of hours playing with fabrics for one of the Christmas gift quilts I'm making this year. A quiet day, but I did things I love.

Sunday I rejoiced with everyone who is thrilled to pieces to have Standard Time again. And I appreciated the extra hour of sleep. In the afternoon I had a long, satisfying visit via phone with my Minnesota daughter who hopes to visit in person early in December.

Monday--back to the Y to walk. Then spent most of the morning with Teri, the quilter who is going to turn one of my quilts into a work of art. After conferring with her on the design and the color of thread, I raided her shelves for fabrics to supplement what I had on hand for a third quilt that will also be for a Christmas gift. In the afternoon I did a load of laundry. 

A lovely surprise on Monday--I got a real letter (hand-written on paper, and everything) from my Arizona daughter. For those of us who grew up with hand-written letters that got addressed, stamped, and popped into drop boxes at the P.O., that missive from the great Southwest made my day.

Tuesday--Election Day. I voted in the morning, did some shopping. Found the travel pillows I'd been looking for at Walmart. Came home to discover my yard man had hauled leaves from the backyard out to the curb in front. That saved my back, legs, feet, and shoulders. In the evening I visited my Ohio daughter on her supper break; we talked about Thanksgiving dinner. Always a happy conversation.

Wednesday--Learned my Arizona daughter passed her dissertation defense, "with some manageable revisions." Such great news! Years of effort are having their reward.

Also on Wednesday, I received a fabric order--12 yards of flannel ordered online to finish up some blankets for the NICU. I now have two greens, a bright Christmas red, and a soft blue called Alaskan Blue. That night I cut more blankets.

That's my week up to the moment. 

Tomorrow we'll observe Veteran's Day. On Sunday veterans from a rehab house to participate in our church service by carrying the flags for the different branches of our military, then staying for a pot luck meal with the congregation.

Before long I'll be thinking about what to make for Thanksgiving dinner at my daughter's house in Ohio. And cutting and stitching more quilts, blankets, and pillow cases, finishing up the Christmas gift quilts. 

In the meantime, I'm not allowing disappointments about the recent election to cloud my days and weeks. As a friend of mine has often said, "Every four years in the U.S. we have a revolution. We call it an election, but often the results become revolutionary." By now I should be used to the every-4-year-revolution. 

Yes, there'll be good weeks, not-so-good weeks, truly awful weeks . . . . I don't recall anyone promised me a rose garden, a paradise on earth, or a life without challenges. I'm glad they didn't--I might've been taken in and believed what they said. On the other hand, no one ever told me life was going to be one bad thing after another. Thanks be for that.

My findings: Sometimes life is good. Sometimes it's not as good as I want it to be. But it's life and I still have things to do and learn and see. Hope your life is good as well.

Right now, I'm up to my earrings in flannel and Christmas fabric.

Anyone want a job sewing?

Thursday, November 3, 2016


Yes, it sure is.

The rush into the Christmas season has never received my vote. I like to savor the holidays that come before December 25th, like Halloween and Thanksgiving. 

My costume-and-mask days are long gone, but now that folks decorate with strings of orange lights and ghosts/vampires/pumpkins inflated to gargantuan size, I can get into the mood. Our street, being so short, has stopped tempting young trick-or-treaters, so we don't get to see their ingenious costumes.

Anyway, Thanksgiving is more my style. Wonder if that's because it's such a good-food day? (I'm a self-confessed foodie.) I look forward to golden roasted turkey, savory stuffing, creamy mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes a la Alan, corn casserole, veggie tray (yes, really), cranberry sauce, and pie, pie, pie! There are usually three pies: pumpkin, apple, and butterscotch. The pumpkin and apple are made by my Ohio daughter from her own produce. The butterscotch is a special recipe, made by the same daughter's stepson, Adam (he's perfecting his grandmother's recipe). 

All that said . . . at my house, at this very moment, it's indeed beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

This year, for the first time, I've developed a little sympathy with folks who design, manufacture, select, sell, and otherwise deal in the items we shop for at this season. I'm not making items to sell, but I am in the production end of things.

Tomorrow will be Heart and Hands' first sewing day in November--what we make on the Fridays this month will go to the NICU for December. What better time to get out the Christmas fabrics I've collected over the years?
future pillow cases

My living and dining rooms (not separated by a wall or doorway) become the focal point for pressing, cutting, pressing again, then folding and stacking for various stitchers. So far I have three stacks--one for Frances, who works at home; one for Marilyn, who is recovering from surgery and can do smaller pieces when we sew at the church; and another one for myself. 

The motifs range from Santas--Old Worlde, new world, whatever--to snowflakes on a green background--to Pooh Bear and a bunch of gift-wrapped packages--to abstract red triangles that suggest (maybe) pine trees. My personal favorite has a gray background with leafless trees and evergreens, white dots that look like a snowstorm, and cows standing around in the snow. The motifs are fairly small (cows may be 2 inches long). 

One reason I'm inundated with Christmas fabric on November 3rd is that these items can be finished in time for December delivery to the NICU, leaving me free to finish Christmas gifts for my family. Yesterday I received fabric ordered for a quilt for a 7-year-old great-grandson. Three smaller projects are cut and ready to sew. And another sewing project is in the works, after I work out the fabrics or design. (Had to save something for December!)

In a few days, I'll be ready to put on White Christmas and let Bing and Rosemary serenade me while I create. 

But I'm still looking forward to the turkey and pumpkin and butterscotch pies.

So much to be thankful for: people who want to make blankets for babies at risk; good weather so we can get to the church for sewing; family meals coming soon with their abundance of delicious food, love and laughter . . . so much.

I hope your life is truly blessed.

Blankies & Pillow Cases for the NICU