Friday, January 29, 2016

Kindness - Pass It On - A Challenge

February is the month of Love. 

Obviously, it is also the month of Kindness.  The two go together well.

It is easy to do kind things for those we love.  The challenge?  To do something nice for a stranger, or someone who doesn't seem to like us, or someone who has been rude to us in the past - that is a challenge.   

Below is a link to the 2016 acts of kindness challenge.  Please participate, especially if you have children, or work with them.

http://www.coffeecupsandcrayons.com/join-the-100-acts-of-kindness-challenge/


Years ago, I was on my way home using public transportation.  The transfer stations had automated kiosks where you could insert your cash or credit card to buy a ride.  I was using a machine next to a woman who was desperately searching in her purse for change.  She was getting emotional, her train was due any minute, and she didn't have enough on her pass to reach her stop.  I asked her how much she needed.  Her accent was so strong, I had to ask her to repeat her answer several times.  Finally, I realized she was only a quarter short of her fare.  I had a handful of change, so I gave her a quarter.  No big deal to me, right?  She was frantic, wanting to know how to repay me.  Seriously, as though nobody had ever done anything kind for her in her life!  I explained to her that my 'folks' would just do something nice for somebody else because 'pass it on' was a way of life for us.  She was baffled.  It just did not translate. 

She had to run to catch her train, I was going the opposite direction.  I never saw her again, but I've always wondered if the 'pass it on' concept ever got through to her.  I wonder whether anybody else ever did anything kind for her.

I would not have survived this long without the kindness of others.  I've known that most of my life.

Please do me a favor....  In the comments section below, tell me about how someone did something kind for you - or about you doing a kindness for someone else.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

2015 - in review

Happy New Year!

2015 was a tough year for me, having been sick with pneumonia, ear infection, gland infection, bronchitis, vitamin and mineral deficiencies, etc.... so I was in a zombie like stupor for a few months.  I'm feeling much better now, and have even joined a gym!

I have also done a lot of reading, mostly on my Kindle.  I've read all of Diana Gabaldon's books - the Outlander series, the Lord John series, etc.  She is about my age, and a prolific writer!  I'm still trying to write a short story for my brother and after five years, it is still not much more than an outline!

I've also done a bit of quilting - finished a twin size quilt for my grand's graduation.  This is the Celtic Solstice, started in 2013. That was the biggie - it started as a Bonnie Hunter mystery - she does a mystery quilt every year - posts run from the day after Thanksgiving through New Year's Eve.  Some people start posting finished pics within a week of the last clue... some of us post our pics a bit later, if ever!  The mystery is available as downloadable pdf files for a few months after it is published, then she takes it down.  These mysteries are often published in her next book, so it is a very generous thing for her to give it out free well in advance of printed publication.  It is also a fun way to make a big quilt, which often seems overwhelming, and use up a lot of stash fabrics.  She makes big quilts, but also allows for half size quilts. 

Here is my version of Celtic Solstice:

I don't think I have any orange or green left in my stash, which is okay with me.  In the future, I'll only buy green if and when I need it, since green varies so much from year to year, and it seldom plays well with others.

I also finished this little 4 block lap quilt for my bro & his wife recently - it was supposed to have been a Christmas present, but they received it in January... it's never too late to receive a present, right?






Hope your January is going well.  See you next month! 


Sunday, December 21, 2014

Mourning on the Winter Solstice

Today is the last day of Autumn.  I keep seeing and hearing people say things like 'Happy Winter Solstice'...Merry Christmas... happy whatever....  I am rarely joyful this time of year...  I'm certainly not in a celebratory mood whatever the calendar says about holidays.

my grandparents with their eight children

On December 20, 1958 my grandmother, Bertha Elizabeth Moore Hough, died at the age of 49.  She had eight children of her own.  Her two youngest were teenagers when I was born.  My mother was the second daughter.  My Grandmother had raised me since I was a baby, and was really the only mother I had ever known.  For several years before she died, she was very ill.  Lots of hospital stays, in and out of a coma, often at home (when she was not in a coma) in a hospital bed set up in the living room.  I was not allowed to make noise or bother her in any way.  My aunt and my great-grandmother took care of her most of the time, and it seemed like I was always 'in the way'.

At the time of her death, I was taken to AGH in Pittsburgh where she was conscious - just long enough to kiss her goodbye.  I was eight years old.  I did not recognize the woman in the bed until she spoke to me.  Very little was said to me directly, but I gathered by all the somber faces that she would not be coming home from the hospital to sleep in the living room any more.  The grown ups kept saying what a relief it was - that she was no longer in pain - her suffering was over - she was with the Lord - at rest.  Nobody seemed upset that she was 'gone'. 

It was the week before Christmas - the living room had been re-arranged with the Christmas tree platform - complete with lighted village and electric train - all set up for me (and my many cousins) to play with. And we did!  We were excited - like all children - with the anticipation of presents, fresh fruit in our stockings, lots of delicious treats to nibble, and snow!

And then we had The Viewing at Findlay's Funeral Home in McKeesport. It was on Jenny Lind Street - which went all the way up the hill to the street we lived on - Meadow Street.  I remember the building - I was told to be quiet and stay out of the way - there were lots of grown ups - I found a quiet corner on the landing half way up a stairway where there was a stained glass window.  I had crayons and coloring book with me and proceeded to stay quietly out of the way - until I was called to 'kiss mummy goodbye one last time' - hoisted up to see over the casket for the first time, I think I might have gone into shock.  I stiffened and pulled away - no way was I going to kiss that thing with make up on in that fancy casket!  My mummy did not wear makeup, so that could not be her.  There must be some mistake!  I ran back to the calm familiar safety of my crayons on the stairs and stayed there until they took me home.

The Funeral was the next thing I remember - sitting still while the minister talked - then getting into a big fancy car with my Great Grandmother and my Grandfather.  She was buried in "Grandview" cemetery in McKeesport, and I know I was there - but all I remember is the cold weather - and pulling a red rose from one of her flower arrangements - and some bows.  I put the rose (wrapped in tissue paper) in my bible - I untied the bows and washed the ribbons - pressed them neatly and rolled them up, stashing them safely in my bottom drawer along with all my other childhood treasures - safely hidden under my play clothes.

Our presents from 'Grandma' / 'Mummy' were already wrapped and waiting for Christmas morning.  We opened our presents, being told that she had shopped for us a long time before she 'got sick'.  I didn't understand that - she had been bed ridden for months.  She was in no condition to go shopping!  It was obvious to me that someone else had bought and wrapped the presents.

It was Christmas - not a time for mourning, but a time for singing and presents and cookies and company!  I think about 40 of my cousins were there - all noisy and excited - but I had been quiet for so long that all that noise and chaos upset me.  I just wanted everyone to go away.  Mourning was not on the agenda - not then - maybe not ever!

But as I get older - now well past the age of my grandmother when she died - I wonder about her life, and how and what I could have learned from her if she had lived just another 10 years or so...  I mourn now for the life and the woman I never really had a chance to know.  Not for the upset, angry fury she showed me when she found out she was dying.  Not for the depressed woman who tried to commit suicide. 

Today, I cry for the woman who might have been - and the woman I might have learned so much from - if her life had not been cut short.  She was a talented baker, quilter, seamstress and gardener.  She taught me to fill bobbins for her treadle sewing machine, and thread the tiny quilting needles for her.  She taught me to love music.  And to always wear clean underwear.  I know I could have learned so much more.  Every needle I thread reminds me of her.

I have not done any sewing lately.  I have been knitting - a lot - which I learned to do in my teens and twenties.  It's very calming - therapy, even. 

This is not here in a public forum for any reason other than I want to put this into words - so I can remember her - not for the temper tantrums she threw at the beginning of her illness - but for the love and care she gave me for as long as she was able.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Setting Triangles and Corners

Tomorrow's NewBee class will cover how to set blocks on point with corner and side/top triangles.

I was surprised at how many experienced quilters have never tried (or succeeded) in setting blocks on point because of the intimidation of calculating the size of SQUARE to cut the triangles from...

So, for those of you (like me) who are seriously math challenged.... here is a little pdf chart to help you out -
setting triangles and corners chart:  Let me know if you cannot 'copy & paste' this to a document of your own...  hopefully this will copy and paste for whatever computer software you are using.
 Note the 'SAFE CUT' column is for you to insert a size that you feel comfortable cutting... not all rulers allow for a 1/6th of an inch measurement!  I recommend rounding up to the next 1/4" if you are not confident of measuring that precisely.

I prefer to round up to the next 1/4" for measurements with 1/8" as well.
So, for a measurement of 8 3/8" I will cut squares of 8 1/2" to give myself a bit if breathing room.  I can always trim it down a sliver if there is excess.

My blocks have a FINISHED measurement of 12" - so I will cut 2 squares for the corners at 9 1/2"
(rounding up from 9 3/8")
cutting those in half on the diagonal will give me 4 triangles of a comfortable size.

for the side setting triangles, I will cut squares at 18 1/4"
these will be cut X-wise to yield four triangles to fit along sides, top and bottom.
This will give me a little to trim from the corners after all the diagonal rows are assembled, but I'd rather trim a little off than come out short or wonky.


This chart was developed with the help of the free APP from Robert Kaufman - available for smart phones and tablets. Just  click on the highlighted text above or visit your device app store for your own version.  I have it on both my phone and my Kindle.  It comes in handy for estimating yardage - for instance, for this 12" quilt, I'll need four triangles cut from two 9 1/2" squares plus the 18 1/4" squares for the sides - I'll get 4 triangles from each of the squares...
(mathematically, these squares would be 18 3/16th - yeah, right...)
I know that I'll need 6 triangles for my chosen layout, but I still need to cut at least 2 squares to get those 6 triangles.  The sample below uses 8 blocks, 6 setting triangles and 4 corner triangles.
The quilt calc tells me that the 18 1/4" squares will need at least 1/2 yd of fabric, and the 9 1/2" squares will need 1/3 yd (if I were buy it at the quilt shop) - but I know from experience that I'll need one strip of fabric 9 1/2" and 1 full width strip 18 1/4" -
so I just add those two numbers together for a total of 27 3/4" of fabric (as long as it is full width!)
9+18=27 and 1/2+1/4=3/4 - total of 27 3/4"  - so I know that my 1 yard piece of fabric will be enough!

This will yield a quilt approximately 34" x 51" without borders.  A narrow 1" border will need 1/4 yd of fabric cut into 1 1/2" strips. 

with that border, the quilt will be about 36" x 53".
If I can find another fabric for an outer 2" border the quilt will then be 40" x 57".
That's a nice size for a charity quilt, btw.