Friday, December 31, 2010

End of Week Two

Well we are at the end of week two in the skilled nursing facility. It has been at times stressful, at times rewarding. I begin my days there between eight and nine and go home between nine and ten in the evening. Most days I stop and get Danny so he can spend a few hours with his dad. He remains remarkably kind and gentle with his dad. It comes as no surprise because he has the heart of a care taker. he once had a room mate with epilepsy who occasionally had seizures when the guys were on their own and Danny knew what to do and did it. Of course one of the reasons he likes coming is he has great affection for the therapy staff. They seem like a great group of kind, concerned people.

The first week was a little rocky for me. We came from the hospital with a boot for dale's left leg, a splint for his left arm to control the curling of his fingers, and a brace for his shoulder. It appeared that no one at the facility knew how to use these things. it took almost the whole first week for there to be continuity in that part of his care. The boot has what we are calling a kick stand and it is rarely used. Makes the boot kind of useless. Working on it. The most upsetting of all is that in the first few days no one used a belt to to transfer Dale from bed or back to bed. The majority of them actually put their hand under his left arm. I have to say I got more than testy the day that two aides told me they were not trained to use the belt. I spoke to anyone who would listen.

Not as stressful but annoying is that in that first week they lost more than two thirds of his clothing!

Things are improving, but I still need to be there and no apologies. We had both Christmas and Dale's Birthday this last week. Christmas was pretty nice though not our traditional party. Dale tires easily so he was in and out a couple of times, but he really loved having his family around. He keeps telling me I don't have to spend so much time there, but I know it helps him to feel safe and cared for. I gave him a lap top as a Christmas gift and he is a little excited but not ready and doesn't have the stamina to do anything with it yet, but soon perhaps. Our son-in-law was so helpful, setting it up and loading Dale's favorite flying game and researching the latest version of that game. John is a very caring and kind man.

This week for the first time we are hearing that there is real improvement in Dale's swallow. I did not think you would be too excited by an example of actual swallow therapy, hence the above picture. Swallow, get it? Of course you do! We are on the way to losing that peg! He still has a way to go but finally there is real hope for the loss of that tube. Being able to eat is crucial to his coming home and his well being.

I just want to thank all who have expressed support for my family. We are so grateful for each of you. I wish for you all even a fraction of the love coming our way.

Friday, December 17, 2010

This was a new day

This was an odd day for me. For most of the day I felt like I was watching the day unfold from a distance. I think I have been in denial as my most fervent hope was that I would be bringing my husband home, but that was not to be. Kelly and I looked at a few SNF programs and Quail Creek Skilled Nursing Facility stood out for the atmosphere, personnel and it's therapy program. The problem I am having is that in the end, the decision was mine. He is fragile right now and has essentially turned his fate over to me. So I suppose this disconnect I have felt all day is about that but also about my own feelings about this kind of thing. How could I in good conscience put him in what is essentially a wing in a nursing home when in reality I have always known that I do not want to be in that position myself. it doesn't matter how wonderful the facility is, I hate it that he is there instead of at home.

The new therapists seem nice and competent and so he should improve. However, the first group, Dave, Nicole, Neale,etc are a hard act to follow and we will miss them. They cared!

If Dales name is on Santa's list it will come up under naughty as well as nice. He is a tease as well as a loving husband and father. All he wants for Christmas is to come home. So, our Christmas will not go back into the box until he does come home. Heck, I know people who's tree's are still up in March because every day life continues and life is too busy. So ours will see the spring for the love we share.

Merry Christmas to all of you.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

A Christmas Wish

I just thought I would say something about how Danny is adjusting to seeing his Dad in the hospital. In the beginning he avoided going to see him and frankly, Dale was so sick that first week, so unable to lie still that I was hesitant to push him to go. However once he made that first visit he has been asking to visit almost every day. Now I do have to say that part of the attraction is the therapists who are so kind and seem to enjoy his chatter. After all they are hearing his stories for the first time. But as the days go by I have witnessed another dynamic that touches me in a way that I had not expected. When Dad is restless, Danny is up immediately to rub his back, ask him if he is okay, gently lift that left arm and replace the pillow under it making sure it rests above the heart.

At one point today there was a lot of activity going on in Dad's room and we were kind of in the way, so we walked down to the waiting room for awhile. I had a book so was reading and Dan was playing with his DS. Things got so quiet that I looked up and saw him deep in thought. After a moment he looked up and said he had a Christmas wish for his dad. His wish was for dad to be able to eat, able to walk and able to drive his jeep. I couldn't say it better myself.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Yesterday was hard.

Yesterday was a little difficult. The difficulty actually began a few days earlier when Kelly and I met with Kim. This is the person who makes recommendations to the patient and or family of a stroke victim about such things as skilled nursing facilities (SNF), refitting our home to accommodate such things as wheel chairs or walkers, bars for bathing, the list is long. Dale is fairly adamant about not wanting to come home until he is more self-sufficient. I am getting trained in transfers from chair to bed, etc. I worry about caring for him with a "peg" but am game for almost everything. I want him home!

In any case Kelly and I looked at two SNF facilities yesterdays. Loved one the other not so much. We will see a couple more over the next couple of days and choose so we will be ready for whatever comes.

It is beginning to look like he will not be home for Christmas. It is difficult to write the words. We have always been together for the holidays. It is not to say we won't be together. We will bring Christmas to the hospital or SNF. It will not be home, but we will all be together. As I write this I remember other Christmases that were out of the ordinary. When our son was a little boy, he often ran a fever, you guessed it, on Christmas day. I remember one holiday when Santa brought him an electric car. He was so excited!!! He figured out the process and proceeded down the hallway and back a few times. It got quiet and when we checked, we saw he had laid his head down on the steering wheel and was sound asleep with very pink cheeks revealing he once again managed to be ill on Christmas. Over the years Dale worked weekends and such. There were several times when we began Christmas at the end of shift that day. This year with our extended family we will once again be celebrating not on Christmas eve or even Christmas morn. With an extended family our holiday will begin Christmas afternoon. So if you know what I am getting for Christmas, shhhhhh. I won't know until late in the day and I love surprises, both given and received!

This is harder. However I know well that we will make this work and there will be joy

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The days are long

Now, he rarely wears a necktie but would tell you that when he does, the best part of the day is when he can remove it. That is much like his relationship with the feeding tube he has sported for almost two weeks. One of the problems that came with having a stroke was that he simply could not eat enough food to sustain his health. He said he was never hungry, began refusing meals so the tube was certainly a life line. yesterday after a barium swallow test the doctor approached us with the suggestion that he remove the feeding tube and replace it with a "peg." We agreed and now he will get nourishment directly through his stomach. This is scary, feels a little like giving up. However, the truth is that the feeding tube was interfering with the swallow therapy as his throat is very narrow. Now the swallow therapy should be easier. Dale? he is more than ready to get rid of the tube that has kept his throat so sore for the last weeks. As I write this I can look up and see him sleeping soundly and looking more comfortable than I have seen in weeks.

We have had a somewhat friendly rivalry going for almost twenty years. I keep him in line by maintaining that men are high maintenance and therefore I am not doing this again. If I happen to live the longest I tell him, "I am not looking to have another man to pick up after, train, flatter, well you get the idea." He more than half believes I am telling the truth so he has a scenario of his very own. He has decided if for any reason we are no longer together, he will rent space at a large quilt show and display my quilting things. He says he has grown accustomed to the quirks and eccentricities of a quilter so he believes staying in the genre will be easiest to do. He will display "my featherweights, quilt frame, silk ribbon, embroidered samplers, fabric stash. vintage sewing collectibles, and most of all my quilts." It is at this point i give him the "look" and he backs down a little. That "look" appears to be genetic as my mom had it and so does the daughter and now the twelve year old granddaughter! Just yesterday he told me that he hopes I never believed any of that nonsense as he sees only my face in his future. We are among the lucky ones. Forty -nine years and counting.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A lot to be grateful for

This last week has been very stressful and because of that it took awhile for me to see the love surrounding me. One week ago my daughter and I were about 100 miles away from home and headed for the airport. The plan was to fly to Orlando where Kelly was attending a national writing conference and me, well during the day I was going to Disney World! We were to join up in the evenings and see more of the park, but more than that these trips have turned into a way to solidify our wonderful friendship. However, things happen and about 1oo miles from home I received the phone call everyone with a spouse hopes never to hear. My husband called to say that he was having another "incident." Another stroke. He called our son-in-law, John, and John gathered up his granddaughter and drove Dale to the hospital.

Dale walked into the emergency room and was admitted to the hospital. Two and a half days later the stroke finally played itself out at around three o'clock Friday afternoon. He was left dazed and with no ability to to move his left arm or leg. He has been improving slowly and today was his first day in rehab. This is a program at St John's hospital in Springfield. Rehab on the second floor is beyond rigorous with at least three hours of therapy everyday. By the middle of the afternoon he was exhausted, but he was wheeled down to the dining room to have his first meal sitting at a table. This evening he asked to be helped into a wheel chair so he could go for a ride and be found sitting up and out of bed by granddaughters and a great granddaughter! he was a different man. I cannot say enough about this program or about my husband. He has been poked and prodded, he has been awakened dozens of times by nurses, aides, kitchen staff, lab people, and he always says thank you, every time.

My family here has really stepped up. I am not sure I could have survived without them. Visits of grandchildren, support from daughter and her husband, and more friends literally than I can count. A half dozen friends from CA, four from Indiana, my TAS group, neighbors and all the friends Dale has made on his morning coffee days at Starbucks or Paneras and a whole quilt guild, several hundred strong, amazing. For now, I am covered. So thank you all for caring enough to offer help. I may take you up on it sometime, but for now, I am okay. The days are incredibly full. I hope to see my husband recover. At one point I had to remind him that he is my life and my love. Almost fifty years and we know each other so well, he would say too well.

My thanks to all of you who worry about me. I am blessed. If, when I need help, I will ask.

Monday, November 15, 2010

It appears that "Anonymous Is a Woman" is live and Well

I am back at least for today. Life is busy with Doctor appointments and trying to keep up with the dying garden. It is almost winter here in the mid-west. We have had a beautiful fall in terms of color and even temperatures though while I was in Houston for quilt festival there was a night when those temps went down to 22*. What's with that? I would share the pictures from my back porch, as well as pictures of some of my favorite festival quilts, however my camera and my computer are not speaking. So, I will have to get a card reader. I do have some beautiful pictures of incredibly beautiful quilts.

Okay, I have procrastinated enough. First of all I had a wonderful time at festival made possible by my daughter Kelly and her husband John, along with my husband who was adamant that I go. Some of you may be aware of a project promoted by Elly Sienkiewicz. A dozen groups from all over the United States and Canada each made beautiful applique quilts. Not just any applique quilts, but Baltimore quilts. It takes your breath away just to see them. The one made by my TAS group is wonderful creation, made-up entirely of original cut work designs honoring Elly and her family. I went back several times over the week and each time I found new elements in those small quilts.

Late in the week my husbands cousin Gladys from LA. met me to once again catch up and see the exhibits together. We headed over to the Baltimore exhibit to look at the quilts and exclaim over design and beautiful work. Gladys is a quilter as well and she was really interested in the details. We walked around and our discussion was noticed by several other viewers and pretty soon we were having a discussion that included about twenty. Over and over I was asked why the names of the quilt artists were not on the signs. I had been wondering that myself and simply did not have an answer. We even heard one person tell her friend that she did not know Elly was so prolific!

The next night many of the quilt makers attended a lovely meal at Massa's restaurant in Houston. It was fun catching up with old friends and hearing once again a program by Kathy Tennyson, a really prolific Baltimore applique quilt maker. She has made at least six album quilts, each one more beautiful than the last. Lovely. However once again while the project was talked about, the opportunity to introduce the women involved was lost. I had hoped that each groups members would be asked to stand so we could honor them. Not to be.

Beloved Baltimore Album Quilts is a book profiling these twelve quilts and C&T did name all the quilters. And at the risk of sounding like a whiner and trust me, even I think I am whining, the names are in the smallest font I have ever seen and while the rest of the book has super black type, these names are so light it is really difficult to read!

I am almost finished. I just want everyone to know that I really enjoyed my time on the quilts. My group really came together as friends and our skills as a group have grown expedentually. My only wish would be that " Anonymous is a Woman" would go back where she came from. Happy quilting my friends.

Saturday, October 30, 2010


Just thought I would drop by and thank everyone for your kind concern. We are moving along slowly in getting our world in order. Dale has been fortunate in finding a primary care doctor he can relate to, thanks to the help of our daughter and a nursing friend of hers, we are beginning to think things will be alright. Thank you Elizabeth. We have a plan. Dale is feeling better about his health and I am breathing again!

I couldn't let Halloween pass without commenting on the holiday. When i was growing up, it was somewhat rare for anyone I knew to actually buy a costume. Sometimes costumes were home sewn but it was more likely that we would put together something from our own closets. I am the oldest of ten, four girls and six boys. There was a lot of trading going on, but basically since it was all about the candy we were not too concerned about what we wore. . I don't recall being anything but a gypsy and my brothers were cowboys or hobos. Did I tell you it all about candy and fun and being scared? There was a big old house in the town where I grew up and it had a great reputation of being haunted. Mrs Ferris, the little old lady who lived there, did nothing to dispel the rumors that she dabbled in witch craft. When we knocked, that is if we dared to knock, we were invited in for hot cider, candy apples, popcorn, etc. The house was dark with candles to light the room and all the furniture was covered with black. The rumors circulating among the young were that her husband simply vanished one night. It seemed he was a very mean person and so she finally had enough and turned him into a toad. it seemed credible at the time because especially on Halloween we could hear him croaking. Now be kind! Remember, it really was a more innocent time. Children could for the most part go out trick or treating safely. They could accept home made cookies and candies safely, etc. And we could pretend to be scared of the haunted house. we were pretending, weren't we? By the time I turned twelve, I knew she was simply a lonely widow with no money and a home that grew more dilapidated every year with giant weeping willow trees that partially shrouded the house in an eerie way on Halloween night.

I grew up sewing my own clothing so it wasn't a stretch for me to make costumes every year for my children. My son was a tiger, an astronaut, Evil Knievel,etc. Our daughter was a gypsy, a princess, a Gibson girl and both so much more. Together they were Minnie and Mickey mouse.

This year I will open my door to Twilight vampires, the Jonas brothers, Nemo, witches, princesses, spider man, pirates, super heroes, ghosts, batman, and the occasional wookie. I will not be handing out apples, oranges unwrapped candy or home made cookies. But I will be having fun with each opening of my door an adventure.

Happy Halloween to all of you

Monday, October 18, 2010


Well I sat down this evening to simply say that my posts would perhaps be far apart but that I have not forgotten you the friends I have made over this last year or so. However, I checked in on my daughter's blog and she has already spoken about what is going on in the family so I will also comment and then just do what I can when I can.

On the last day of a pretty wonderful vacation, Dale woke up to being disoriented and nauseous . he had a similar experience in the spring and left the hospital with a diagnosis of sinus infection. This time he spent four days in the hospital and went home knowing he had experienced a TIA also known as a mini-stroke. He has been very lucky as even though strokes in the cerebellum effect things like balance, his balance continues to improve. The physical therapist in the hospital was very pleased. We are currently trying to line up a primary care doctor and the therapies he will need. Also a cardiologist as it also turns out there is scarring on his heart and that makes it weaker. This has been stressful of course and of course he is a man. Enough said don't you think?

So the photo above shows Dale with a lady friend sitting on a bench in the hall of Wall Drug in the town of Wall. You should look it up. I have lots of pictures but no real time to share right now.

So, I will check in when I can. Heck I might even be able to sew. of course, I am terrified and so is he. For now we just have to wait and see. More later

Monday, October 11, 2010

Current project

Oddly, this looks kind of pink. I suppose that may have something to do with the red sashing. It is actually a lovely pale cream color and looks great in person. These blocks have been made over time. The fruit block was completed in 1998. Over the years I have made many blocks for teaching and recently I realized that I could make a quilt or two from this collection and so because I haven't made an album quilt with sashing this seemed a good time to do so. My problems in the past have been with keeping such sashing straight. I think it looks a little off in this photo, but believe that has much to do with the way I pinned it up. In person it looks pretty good so I will be moving on. I am designing a border that will include elements from most of the designs. I am thinking perhaps of a very vine border, very dense. If you have a good idea I would love to hear from you. i believe the borders will also have either an appliqued scalloped border on either side or a sawtooth border. Hope you are in the middle of just such a lovely problem. I will share during the process.

Vacation and Waiting for Superman

We returned today from a really nice vacation, which is good because it did not end as well as we would have liked. Dale woke this morning with his second case of vertigo this summer/fall. I was the designated driver today and we made it back from KC in good time. The vertigo, well he believes he can sleep it off so has gone to bed.

Getting back to the fun part, the handsome fellow you see above was in the process of sticking his head into the front passenger window for as it turns out, a handout. Seems they label these guys the "begging burros". Of course I did not know that going in. I read about them later. In any case there are sign everywhere not to feed the animals, to include everyone we saw. Mountain sheep, prong horn antelope, buffalo, prairie dogs, mountain goats, turkeys, beavers,well I think you get the idea.

We did everything we could on the whole trip. Saw the Corn Palace. the Badlands, Custer State Park, Mount Rushmore, Wall Drug store, ( Only ask if you really want to know. I have pictures!) a pony express station and fort. and devil's tower in Wyoming. We were excited to stay in Sundance the night before only to suddenly realize that it was not resort like because it wasn't Robert Redford's Sundance! Bummer! In any case I am excited to say that I walked all the way around the tower by myself. So beautiful and so spiritual.

Sounds like a wonderful vacation doesn't it. it was, really but there was this book. I had finished everything else and had been putting off Waiting For Superman. I really did want to read this but as bibliophile who reads fiction and escape style fiction most of the time, I was somewhat reluctant to begin. However the time was upon me and I began. I am so hooked on this book. It is about education in America and about the people who want to be part of the solution as well as the young people and their families who are living it. I was so excited that I wanted to share so began reading elements out loud to Dale. Did I mention we were usually in the car. While we share the same core beliefs about education, it turns out that we don't share a common approach. This resulted in some spirited discussion. Okay! we argued, sometimes loudly. Danny, in the back seat was not impressed. He tried to mediate what was essentially a loud discussion by siding with me, ( he does love me best) In any case we ultimately agreed to disagree on some things and come together on most. I suppose the moral if there is one is that this book sparked a solid dialogue between us about a crucial subject. By the way, not all of the book's contributors agreed on every level. What they do agree on is that something has to happen. We cannot throw away the next generation.I hope you read the book and plan to see the movie, maybe something will resonate for you too.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Time to step up

I am reading two books right now. I don't want you to think that this an unusual circumstance for me because I have been a reader for more than 65 years. Our mom was also a reader who only had a tenth grade education and she was reading to us from birth. She passed away at the tender age of fifty-nine, but she made sure we grew up with library access as well as a few comic books. She told me that I began reading at age four. I never stopped.

"Quilts, Masterworks from the American Quilt Museum" is a breath taking book for a quilter like myself. Every page an adventure or a confection or both. A book like this feeds my heart.

"Looking For Superman" is something different all together. This is a book about the failure of our school system. This book may well break my heart. I am a California girl transplanted to the mid-west eight years ago so my husband and myself could watch our granddaughter grow up. granted it has been an adjustment that I am still making. However, before leaving California I had become worried about education there. When I was growing up I remember that when a new student came to school from another state they often had to catch up. We had a wonderful school system. Things are so different now for all our children.

I am not only referring to the curriculum. A few months ago I had a talk with that twelve year old that literally broke my heart. Miss L. is a wonderful artist. ( I know, I am her grandmother, but she really is pretty good) She goes to a school that has a National Baccalaureate program that she is a part of. Art is her favorite class and she is in an art class this semester. The problem is there are so many students who have behavior problems that art is taking a back seat in this chaotic class.

In the scheme of things a below average art class may seem unimportant. There is more. L. told me that she has to be careful and responsible for herself every day. She says that there are fights every day. She has to be careful who she makes eye contact with, sit with, speaks with. A little friend stood up for a younger child and angered the bully. This older child later cornered her in the girls room and she had great difficulty getting out to tell a teacher what happened. Now her mother is worried about possible reprisals from the girl who had received a ten day suspension. I wake in the middle of the night and wonder how there can be any education going on in a school where there is also so much fear. I was never given reason to be afraid in my school. When my children were growing up and they were involved in a school day , I had a reasonable expectation that for those six hours they would be safe. They spent a lot more time in school that children do today. Education was going on!

My husband has witnessed physical fight among parents where the police had to be called! My daughter went to pick up L. a few days ago and as she sat in her car across the street from the school she suddenly saw what she thought was a fight going on right outside the school doors. When she realized there were no other adults in the area, let alone a teacher or school administrator she jumped out of her car and ran across the street. She is a teacher herself and did not think twice. Almost there and a teacher came out and started to break up what turned out not to be a fight but a beating! A big kid was beating the hell out of a small child.

I am afraid for our children. Not just because of the bullies, but because American education is so far behind approximately twenty plus countries. ( Can't remember the number, I am old and that is what happens) Ask a college English teacher if incoming freshman are prepared for college. There answer will make you sick. I know because that teacher daughter I just mentioned is a college teacher teaching developmental English. She would give you a real earful. It breaks her heart and mine.

Read "Waiting For Superman" or see the movie, hang out at your child's school, listen closely when you child is in the back seat speaking about his or her day at school. They are trying to tell us what is really going on.

I promise that this kind of post will not happen to often, but on the occasion of such injustice I will be back. This most intelligent generation is being given a raw deal and I don't want us to look the other way and take for granted that someone else will fix it.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Another very Talented Friend

This takes your breath away doesn't it? I have studied this quilt in person as well as in the photos and know that this the definition of perfection. Nancy Kern is both a technician and an artist. In addition she is fast!!! I envy the fast part of her work. Nancy says she has always hoped that she would win a big prize some time. Well, now she has done just that. She has received the coveted phone call from Quilt Festival in Houston! Yes!! She was informed that she is a winner of one of the top prizes there. She has won a trip to festival and at the least, five thousand dollars. I celebrate your success Nancy and know all your other friends do too. This honor is earned. It was such fun getting to know you better at BOTP. I suspect we should have got a little more sleep, but I would have missed out on something special. You are living the dream my friend and I hope you savor every moment.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Baltimore On The Prairie, a little more.

One down side to teaching away from home is that a teacher like me seldom gets to see the results of a workshop. I am so excited to be able to show you what a student of mine did in my class last year. This lovely wall hanging was made by Pat Steele in the main conference class I taught last year at the first BOTP quilt conference in Omaha NE. It is a prime example of creative use of a single block. I think sometimes we forget that not every project has to be a bed quilt or even a nine block wall hanging. Sometimes one block is enough. Thank you Pat for sharing this with me and the class. See you next year!

This was our last day and so as many as there were of us decided to pose for a photograph. That is Tresa Jones, the woman behind all the good things that makes up BOTP. That's me in the red shirt. And behind us are a little more than three quarters of twenty students in my main conference workshop. For me my experiences teaching seems to get better and better! How lucky I am. before this workshop. two students emailed and asked if I would send the pattern so they could mark for back basting. Done! Others asked if I would object to their making the bias tubes for the basket. Done! I was beginning to feel that we were on a roll when class began. There I was asked by some if I would mind if they folded and basted strips for basket stays. By noon on the first full day we had a reputation for getting it done!! Yes!!!! Seriously, I have been so fortunate as a teacher to have motivated students. This conference was no exception and I thank each and every one of you for that. it simply does not get any better. In addition to that, there were some pretty funny people in that group. I had a wonderful time. I can't wait to do it again.

And so it begins. Please notice the attention to task here. One might think I was a task master. Hmmmnnn.

Another view and still working hard.

This last shot shows the smiles of a few and makes me smile to see them. I hope you have my experience the next time you are in class. It makes such a difference in the way I view the next time. This is my art, what's yours?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

More about BOTP

The International Quilt Study Center is within short driving distance from Mahoney State park, the home of Baltimore On The Prairie. Lucky for all the attendees. Tresa Jones arranged for the second year in a row for us to tour the facility. If you want to know more about their collections take yourself to You will not be sorry as the collection adds up to more than three thousand quilts.

Above is a view of the entry way to the IQSC. I am not sure what to call the white structure to the left but there are several chairs inside and so my feeling is that it is a place to rest and reflect. It really is lovely. To the right is the entry to a wonderful day.

Run, don't walk to this collection before it has moved on. I have seen some of the dear quilts before and it was a pleasure to visit them again. And luck us, the collector, Mary Ghormley was there that day and I quietly followed her and others around the gallery to hear the stories. Her affection for these doll quilts is heart warming as she is also speaking of the children who once wrapped their baby dolls inside. Mary also collected the doll beds and there are some beautiful examples in this part of the collection.

This is an interesting example of some of the cool things you will see on your visit to IQSC. Be sure you click on the picture to enlarge this "quilt". You will find the names of many quilt guilds. I missed the chance to ask museum personal what was behind the creation of this interesting piece. I can only guess at this point that these organizations support the center. it is beautifully made and I hope you all make a visit someday soon.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Baltimore On The Prairie

This was my view from the little deck of the room I shared with Nancy Kern at the conference, Baltimore on the Prairie this last week. Mahoney State Park is a lovely place for quilters to gather and hone their skills. While I seldom get outside for any length of time when working, this time I drove around before checking in. My granddaughter would be pretty excited by the pool. The hiking trails are applauded by many. The lodge is a nice place to stay. Not fancy but comfortable. And as a truly biased observer, I believe BOTP is a wonderful venue for making friends, studying with talented instructors and the sharing of our art with others who know what we are speaking about. This was an especially enjoyable few days for me personally. I am so honored to be asked back for next year. I have to say that if you are one of the people who decided to wait until 2011 and there are a lot of you, better get online and sign up. The spots are really going quickly!! I would love to see you there.

One of the pleasant things that struck me is that everyone was so productive. In the first place it is so nice to be hanging out with people who are obsessed with the same things you are. Check out the great fabric Lynn is cutting into to use in our one day class.

In the center we see Gail Chalker. Gail is here from Queensland,Australia. her arm is in a sling but she managed to get a lot done. This was my one day class and the picture on the table the project. Notice the sweet tin under the picture. It is candy tin that came with miniature milky way bars inside, but a Baltimore album quilt on the top and sides. I have mine, do you have yours? Seriously, they are collectors items these days! Okay, I was distracted so want to get back to Gail. You cannot see it, but the left side of her blond hair is pink!! Way to go Gail! But seriously, she owns a quilt shop, no gossiping allowed, or you will be encouraged to leave. In addition, she is getting a degree in theology, not to become a pastor, but because she wants to learn. She has been instrumental in challenging quilters to help make the biggest hexagon quilt in the world and it is believed that was achieved. There is not a quilt museum in Australia though the country has a rich history in quilt making. So, Gail took that task on as well. She managed to convince the powers that be to donate the land that already has historical buildings on sight. Now she also has a building and the last task is to bring all this together. I stand in awe of her dedication and energy. hats off to you, Gail.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Baltimore On The Prairie

In few days I will be traveling to Omaha Nebraska for the second annual Baltimore on The Prairie conference. This is my second year also and I have been looking forward to this all year. Last year was new and I was a little worried about how I would do, how I would be received, but I needn't have been concerned. I had a great room mate in Kathy Delaney and a wonderful administrator in Tresa Jones. My students, well, I cannot begin to tell you how much I enjoyed my time in the class room! We had so much fun. There was a lot of learning going on. The learning was on both sides of the table. I have taught applique for more than twenty five years and learn something new every time. In the beginning, I was running to keep ahead of my students. Don't tell them, but sometimes I was perfecting my style just hours before entering the class room! These experiences have become part of the great love of my life.

Now you may be wondering about the pictures. I am excited to say that I have been invited back for a third year I did tell Tresa that next year I will be 70 years old in addition to celebrating my fiftieth wedding anniversary. She was not concerned and my friend Karen reminded that 70 is only a number. Thank you Karen. I wouldn't miss it and hope you don't either. So the top block is "An Eagle In My Garden" I designed this with both Baltimore and crazy quilts in mind. This will be my main conference class. It is a three day workshop taught over four days, bliss for the instructor and great for the student. My roots are definitely in Embroidery so you can count on at least a bit of hand stitching in my work. In this case and in addition to the floss embroidery I used 4mm silk ribbon to create the wreath in the claws of the eagle. There is so much more to share in this design so I hope you come along so i can share it with you.

The second block, " In The Heart Of a cherry" is a favorite of mine as much for technique as the image itself. The wreath is cut work applique featuring ins and outs, points, curves and more. The stems are embroidered and the cherries are perfect, I promise. This is my Plus One workshop which simply means that it is a one day class. The supply list for this design is very short. This is a project that you will carry around. I hope you take advantage of the conference. There is a warmth and friendship associated with being there.

Margaret, this is for you!

I read every comment on my blog and am so grateful for those of you who take the time to comment. It is wonderful to see your work and hear about your lives. Recently when it came time to draw names for the winner of my give away I cam across a comment from Margaret. She loves cats and wanted to see my son Danny's cat since I mentioned that Samantha is 22 years old. So Margaret, this is for you, and for anyone else loves animals. Samantha came to Danny through his sister Kelly. She knew that Danny wanted a pet and she had a friend with new kittens. We could say that the rest is history, but we would be leaving out a lot of information. First of all it needs to be said that Sam or "My sweetie" as Danny calls her. Of course he calls a lot of the women in his life "sweetie." Samantha is half pure Siamese and half feral so we weren't sure how life would be. She did bite Danny's dad a fair amount over the years, he claimed it because he would play with and tease her. She bit me severely twice, both times when I had the audacity to check on her when she was freaking out because she saw a strange cat through the window to the back yard. I guess as an indoor cat she had little experience with strange felines. That second time she nearly lost her happy home. Danny was living on his own by that time and couldn't have pets so Sam continued to live with us. Danny goes to all vet appointments and never fails to find her the minute he walks in my door. When he calls each morning it is to ask about his "sweetie" Sam is pretty old now and sleeps almost all the time. The vet says there is not much wrong, nothing to treat, she is simply aging. She will be 23 on Halloween day. Dan's dad and I worry about Danny. He will miss her so much. As a developmentally disabled adult he has had much loss in his life and this will be a hard one. But in the meantime, she still loves her head scratched and he still loves to do it!

Monday, August 23, 2010

My First Quilt

Well, all this discussion about tools for quilting has me thinking about my roots in this art. Like many of you I did not come to quilting early in my life. I am the oldest of ten children so there was much to do. Remember when variety stores, AKA dime stores, AKA five and dimes, carried soft flannel baby garments stamped with embroidery designs? I stitched a lot of those. Being the oldest, I was my mother's right hand girl. Together we made clothing for all, did the laundry, ironing, house cleaning and cooking.

I went on to embroidery, crewel, counted cross stitch, needlepoint and more. In 1961 I married a sailor who looked a lot like the famous young man who came home from the war to get his picture taken kissing a beautiful young woman. Made all the news. That was not us. Our first child was born in 1963. At the baby shower given by friends and family I received a snowy white Baby Pepperil blanket. Oh it was so soft and beautiful. I had no idea how to accomplish this but I decided to applique this blankie with sweet baby animals and embroidered flowers etc. My fabrics were pastel velours attached with blanket stitch. Sweet. I gave her the blanket a few years ago. Perhaps we should encourage her to share it with all of you? Our little boy also slept under that blanket/ quilt.

I continued to stitch, but but knew nothing really about quilts as there were none in my personal history. I attended many needlework shows, a pre-curser I think to quilt shows and once bought a quit magazine. I knew it was for me instantly and hounded a friend of mine to join me in making our first pieced quilts. We both decided to make the Postage stamp pattern above. It was constructed on the machine. Otherwise I am sure I would still be working on it. The year was 1976. I had been entering embroidery and pumpkin pies, etc in the county fair for a lot of years and that year I entered my quilt. I still do not know how it happened to this day, but I won the first Best of Fair award ever offered by the Alameda County Fair. A big ribbon and a silver tray.
It was a joyful time for me.

I had the quilt after that day for only five months. In the early morning hours of a fall night there was a fire in the house where my sister and her family were living. The fire took her baby girl and nearly took the rest of the family. I remember feeling so helpless. I could attend the services, look after her little boys, cook meals, but nothing seemed to make a difference. My husband tried so hard to help me help her, but it did seem meaningless. At one point he suggested I give her the quilt. Almost right away, I knew I was going to do just that. I hugged her and told her I loved her and while I couldn't change anything that I wanted her to have this quilt. I don't know if it made the slightest difference but I have no regret. I think sometimes you do something because your heart will break if you don't.

I believe I came to quilting because there is so much heart in the creation. I hope that while my story is sad at times that you share your first quilts too. warmly, Nadine

Friday, August 20, 2010

Your favorite tools and mine

Well, after the giveaway was over. I found myself with information about your favorite Nancy Halvorson patterns the results of which I will post soon, but for now, lets talk about the tools you love. Be sure that the images you see may not be the brand or color, etc that you actually own, but simply a representation of your choices. The small picture above is of Australian Porcupine quills. It is a recent favorite of mine. The quills have microscopic barbs that do not create fabric runs but they do help with turning corners. Love it!
Now the image above is a favorite of one of you. it is a Diamond Sewing machine. I had to look it up and boy it looks amazing!! It is beautiful and I have a feeling it might even help me cook dinner. Seriously, nice choice.

While I own a wonderful Bernina sewing machine which I won 1994 as a prize for Best In Show at Pacific International Quilt festival for my album quilt. It is my favorite sewing machine, but I own two singer featherweight machines and they are my favorites also. I know, you supposedly can have only one favorite anything by definition, but I can live with my interpretation of favorite things.

The Easy Circle Cut is Marj's favorite tool. I may have to add this to my list as well. Looks like a need to have basic.
Above is representative of surgical scissors, which was Elaine's favorite tool. I know personally many friends who use this tool routinely and recommend them without a doubt. In addition, nine of you weighed in with the opinion that your Gingher scissors were the best tools you own. I cannot blame you as this is my choice as well. I haven't used the surgical scissors so am not choosing one over the other, just simply like what I have.

If you look closely at this ruler you will see a long slot which accommodates the blade of a rotary cutter. This is a Rotary Ruler by Fiskars. Unfortunately, it is no longer made. It looks really good to me and a safe option to using two separate tools.

The above is a Pom Pom Maker. One of you loves this tool.

Two of you mentioned your iron but not the brand. This is mine and I really like it. Dependable steam and I am fond of steam. It heats up so fast, love that. In addition, it is affordable. I have gone back to buying Black and Decker, because it is affordable and long lasting.
One of you mentioned that your favorite is your crochet hook. I love them too and use one very small hook to repair snags in clothing. I found this rainbow of hooks online and thought they were really pretty so am sharing them now. The more I look the more I am tempted. have to rein myself in as I do not need every thing I see. Hmmm, my daughter Kelly crochets and knits, maybe she...... Moving on.

There were several references to seam rippers. One of you called it a "stitch ripper outer" and I like that so much that I think I will add it to own description from now own. It is concise and and more descriptive don't you think? Seriously, though this is something we do not want to do, having a good tool when the dreaded seam ripping is need is I think crucial. Make sure you a seam ripper that is of good quality.

We all know that a variety of marking pencils is a must. Some of you like chalk, I do as well. In addition, I find that sometimes even a permanent marker such as a Pygma pen is the only way to go. There are wonderful mechanical pencils in black, white or colored leads. My advise if wanted is to experiment before committing to anything that will show when you are finished stitching. I will share a sad story. Many years ago, I was teaching an evening class at my local quilt shop. When the phone rang I usually answered because I had young children and would want to know of any emergency . In any case, the woman on the other end of the line was distraught and looking for an answer. She had marked and quilted her first quilt with a pencil labeled as a quilt marker. However, when the quilting was finished, she washed the quilt to remove the markings and nothing happened. Nothing worked and I had no answer for her. This was a time when office supplies were being re purposed and packaged for quilters. So don't be a patsy, it could happen to you as well.

More hooks and some knitting needles this time. You all have the most interesting favorite tools in the sewing rooms you frequent.

Needles are of course a very important part of quilting. Currently, my own favorite are John James brand golden glide needles. I like the Golden glide type in both 11 sharps as well as betweens. I know you all have your own favorite. makes things interesting, don't you think?

I include the porcupine quills again just to compare with the point turner above. I definitely need this one too. it is also a presser.

Rulers. bet you have almost everyone. I confess I do too, but i have my favorite.

When looking for a thimble image for Karen's favorite tool I found this beautiful thimble made in England. Seems to suit Karen, she's a dear friend, in theme and besides it is wonderful. Now, much as I love it, this would probably not work for me as I am a side quilter rather that a top quilter. So, I guess my next question is what kind of a quilter are you???

Freezer paper, my all time favorite medium for template making. I use it for applique images and I use it to make quilting templates so I do not have to mark my quilt tops.

One of you told me that you value your cutting table above all else. It is the right height, width and length. I am also fortunate to have an island style cutting table in my studio. I am sure it is the most used element in the room!

Circle templates. This is an amazing tool. If you like or love to applique circles, you will also love a tool like this.

One of you mentioned your favorite tool is your mothers sewing table. I know this is not the one, but I so love the idea that you have altered your moms table for your own use. I bet you think of her every time you sit down. You must have great memories.

Last but not least is the bias tape maker. This is a real work horse as can be used to simply make bias binding for a quilt, etc, or produce stems. I like a metal bias bar for stems but this method works as well.

I want to thank each and everyone of you for signing in and weighing in on the things in your sewing room, sewing basket, or perhaps you have experienced a sewing room in a Mayflower moving box as I did more than thirty years ago! I cannot say I miss that box, but I do think of it with love......... not!!!!!!!!! Until later.