Sunday, August 24, 2014

Book #3: The First Phone Call From Heaven

I actually read this book at the start of the summer but never got around to posting about it.  The First Phone Call From Heaven is by Mitch Albom.  I've read several of his previous books and always enjoyed them.  They tend to be inspirational and thought provoking.  This one had the added benefit of providing a bit of a mystery to the story.  I really enjoyed that added element.  The story focuses on a small town where several people are experiencing phone calls from loved ones that they have lost.  There are a variety of responses to the calls from the receivers as well as those who are not getting calls.  It gets a "thumbs up" from me.

Whenever I give a "book report" I always feel that my reading quantity is rather pathetic especially compared to the husband who devours one book after another.  But then I read this and felt a bit better.  :-)

I tried three times to get this graphic to appear readable, but I'm not too sure I was successful.  If you click on the graphic it brings it up in a more readable form or here's the link to the original source with the graphic is towards the end of the article.


Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Blogs, Life and Choices - and Quilting

It seems like, in general, you either make your life happen or your life happens to you.  And usually we have seasons of one - having some order or control over what is going on in our lives and seasons of the second - reacting to life happening around us.  Lately I've been in that second category of watching life swirl around me.  And consequently blogging hasn't been at the top of my list.  I have a paper by my computer of topics I want to blog about but haven't, for one reason or another.  But I have had so many thoughts and ponderings and getting older means that those thoughts will only stay with me for so long unless they get written down.

Long ago, at the start of my blog I wondered why blogs stop.  I was new to following blogs and would often find one that I enjoyed but taking a closer look at the dates I realized that the writer had been gone for months or sometimes years.  There was no conclusion like a book, no season finale like a TV series, no final thoughts.  The blog just seemed abandoned like someone had walked out of their house one day and left everything behind.  Now, having blogged for several years, I think I understand a little better.  Sometimes life happens.  Other interests take over.  Writing down thoughts and activities no longer adds to our day, it just becomes another thing to do.  Sometimes the whole process of picture taking and editing and posting is more than we want to deal with.  But we still sort of like the idea.  Maybe life will slow down or inspiration will strike so we just sort of put our bookmark in place and set the blog aside.  Then time moves on and suddenly it's been months or years and blogging becomes something we did "back then"- sort of like diaries of old or paper and pencil journaling (both of which I've done in the past).  I guess the main difference is that no one knew when those writings were started or when they ended.  No, I'm not getting out of the blogosphere.....just acknowledging a little insight into some old questions I've had.

That sort of leads me to my second pondering (which actually has a quilting connection).   We often think of choices in life in terms of what we choose, but in reality choices are more about what we DON'T choose.....what we say "no" to can be as important as what we say "yes" to.  Son #1 had a very broad assortment of interests in high school - from drama to art to engineering to logic and debate to science.  But to be good at one he would have to spend less time with the others.  His dilemma was not finding what he liked or should pursue in life but acknowledging the need to say  "no" to other likes.  So maybe my missing bloggers have decided to say "yes" to other interests for awhile and need to harness some of the time and energy spent on blogging in their other areas.  Just like (wait for comes the quilting transition) choosing fabrics for a quilt.  We may have 20 fabrics that seem to go together and that are all pleasing to us.  But saying "yes" to all of them would create a chaotic design.  So we need to figure out what to say "no" to so that we can accomplish our final goal of a coordinated pattern that we like.  Did we like ALL of the fabrics?  Yes.  But we couldn't make our quilt with all of them.  Did Son #1 like all of those varied interests? Yes.  But pursuing his eventual profession required a total concentration of his time and energy for several years.  Saying "no" to good things is sometimes needed so that we can say "yes" to other good things.

So, life is still happening to me and probably won't slow down for awhile yet, but I'm not ready to say "no" to blogging.....just a bit slow at it. 

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Seamus: 2001-2014

Seamus, sweet beloved Golden Retriever, family member of Nina and her husband, died August 7, 2014 at the age of 13 from complications of a prostate mass, most likely, cancer.

He was born in the summer of 2001 to a family in rural Virginia, one of a very large litter.  He came to live with his busy household in the fall of that year and enjoyed the active, somewhat chaotic household of five.  He enjoyed lots of love from the entire household.  As a puppy he loved to chew T.V. remotes, eyeglasses and gloves; loved treats, roughhousing, climbing in the shower and being outside.  He tolerated the cats.  He hated crates, constraints and being alone.

As he grew older he became an avid hiker doing surrounding trails on a regular basis with Nina.  He especially was fond of hikes that ended at a waterfall and rewarded him with a swim in the cool water.  At the end of the hike he also enjoyed the traditional picnic before heading home.  They usually shared an apple and peanuts on a blanket before the drive back.

He loved all types of water from swimming pools and mountain lakes to the ocean and sound. He always stayed in control of the game of "retrieve" in the water by just not returning the stick or ball when he had enough of the game.

He loved to travel in the car.  He could tell when an adventure was forthcoming and would dance with excitement hoping that he was to be included in the ride.  He spent most of the trip with his head on the front console between his two people.

He loved Beggin' Strips and looked forward each morning to a ritual of being fed them in small pieces.  But he was always willing to share this special time with his doggie cousin, Jackie, taking turns being fed the special treat.

In his older age he became the ambassador of the neighborhood.  Daily walks were opportunities to greet two and four footed members of the area with a sniff and tail wag.  He brought a smile to the face of many people - most of whom were never known by name, but all of whom remembered him fondly.

He was a loyal and faithful companion to the very end.  While his passing has left his family with much sadness and tears, they are comforted in knowing that he lived a long and full life with them, even making them better humans along the way for having shared their lives and home.  He trusts that in time the sadness will fade and the wonderful warm memories of fun times they all shared will comfort them.


Sunday, July 20, 2014

Life's Buttons

Several years ago I wrote a post about buttons.  I have both my mother's and my mother-in-law's button collection along with my own.  Both reflect the woman who owned them - as I'm sure mine does.  And I have a deep inability to use some of the buttons in any project that will leave me and never come back again.  They are so much more than buttons to me.  Some of the ones in my mother's box have been there since I was a little girl.  I remember looking through them during the long lazy summer days.  I just can't seem to part with them.

Yesterday our quilt guild speaker, Deborah Schupp of Gumbo Design Studios shared several of her quilt designs.  This one caught my eye and a bit of my heart:

She made this wall hanging out of buttons from her mother and grandmothers...and maybe great grandmothers.

There is definitely one of these in my future!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Being One With the Hummingbirds

This past weekend we traveled to Lake Hope State Park in Ohio.  We read an article in Birds and Bloom Magazine (my absolutely favorite birding magazine, btw) about a hummingbird event at the park.  Every Friday, Saturday and Sunday through July and August you can hand feed hummingbirds and last weekend a hummingbird expert from Michigan was there to band the birds and talk about them.  We made plans (but choose our accommodations poorly - won't rent there again), packed our bags and off we went.

It was FANTASTIC!  Having those delicate little creatures so close was totally awesome.   The Nature Center puts out feeders on a regular basis:
Then when it's time to hand feed they take them down.  (Sorry, no pictures of that yet.  They are on the husband's camera and I haven't gotten copies.  I'll add them when I can.)

On Saturday the banding expert did his thing and I was allowed to release the only male bird caught!  Several people attending took pictures and sent them to me.  (I felt like a model - well, no, not really.  :-) 

It was a great experience.  If you live anywhere near there the feeding alone is worth the ride.  It happens at 1pm every Friday, Saturday and Sunday in July and August.

We hope to go back next year and stay in the park itself.  The lake was beautiful, very clear and had lily pads in bloom! 

Monday, July 7, 2014

Vacation Quilty-ness

This year our beach vacation was spent at a different rental than usual.  We really liked this house.  There was a great place to fly the pig flag:
When we stay on the ocean side the pig flag helps us remember which stairs off the beach go to "our" house.  Here we put it on the mailbox on the day that our daughter-in-law was joining us so that she could find the house.  The rest of the time it flew off the deck to announce that we were "in residence".

But I thought it was a real sign that this was our new favorite home when I saw this on the master bed:
 I sort of fell in love with this quilt.  In fact, some day I'm going to make my own in this pattern.  I guess it just shows that a quilter may be away from the machine for awhile or take a break from sewing tasks, but she is always thinking about patterns, admiring quilts and planning the next project.  Or at least I am.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Vacation and Technology Ponderings

We recently spent two weeks at the Outer Banks of North Carolina.  Neither the husband nor I have ever spent two straight weeks in one place.  But this year everything seemed to fall into place to make that happen.  We are both now retired; we liked the rental house; it was available the following week; the weather was great; we had minimal commitments at home to cancel; we were able to get the mail delivery/paper delivery, medication, flower watering, etc. managed; and the owners gave us a last minute rental discount to stay another week.  So, we went for it.  And the experience of staying two straight weeks away from home brought some interesting thoughts to mind and some longing for the "old days".  For instance:
  • Two weeks was long enough.  We were both ready to come home by the end.
  • We noticed when we got home how very soft our carpet is.  I know that sounds funny.  And it wasn't like the carpet in the rental home was bad, but apparently ours is much softer and something we had never appreciated fully before.
  • A reversed floor plan (bedrooms downstairs) might be nice at the beach, but it makes for a lot of stair climbing throughout the day.
  • Dogs who swim in the sound daily begin to stink.
But, perhaps my biggest revelation was how very complicated technology has made our lives.  Disclaimer:  I'm about to rant.  In the old days, we got up, ate, showered, did some housework or went to work and that was it....our daily duties were done.  Our free time was free.  But now we add to the list:  check the email (maybe several accounts), the voice mail - on the home phone AND the cell phone, Facebook, blog updates and whatever other internet distractions we participate in.  And here's the thing....they follow you whenever you leave home.  Sure, you can unplug, and to some extent we do, but now if you have a cell phone or an email there is an expectation that you will respond no matter where you are just because the message can get to you.

It wasn't always this way.  Let's take a look back in time. It used to be that when you went away you told a few trusted neighbors where you were going and gave a general number (like the number at the resort or hotel where you were staying) to reach you.  In the small town where I grew up my father even told the police that we were going away so that they would "keep an eye" on the house.  And you were really away.  In fact one time we were staying in a cabin in a remote part of the state and my oldest sister needed to tell my father about a death in the family.  She called the State Police who drove up to the cabin, knocked on the door and told us to call home because there was an emergency.  We drove into town, found a pay phone and called her landline and she answered.  And when you did get home there was no answering machine to check, no emails to delete, no Facebook, blog or websites to catch up on.  And there was no backlog of TV shows to just missed them and waited for reruns. There were no pictures to download from your camera or rename and file on the computer so that someday you could find them again. 

My conclusion: technology is a two edged sword.  I love that it lets me keep up with extended family, pay bills fast, and I really do enjoy the blogosphere.  I like that I can Facetime with my granddaughter when we are apart for awhile.  And our spontaneous extra week of vacation would have been much more difficult to pull off without the wonders of the Internet.  But keeping technology in it's place takes a real conscious effort.  I guess that's why I played blog hooky last month.

 I just needed to remember a simpler time.