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November 2019

Where Was I?


Have I ever mentioned how much I like beads? :) I like to play with them, make things from them, embellish with them ... and study history through the eyes of making them. :) If you click  on the photo above, you can go read about bead making in India more than 5000 years ago ... and how following the trade routes helps learn about the people of that time. :) I find this stuff fascinating.

This past week has been full and quiet by turns. I finished my burial-related items by arranging for in-ground stones for my two brothers (both of whose ashes will be buried with my parents). I caught up-to-date with my bariatric class obligations (driving to a class that was held at 6 p.m. on a Thursday evening an hour's drive north of me was an adventure in rush hour traffic navigation). I sent birthday gifts to my grandson, O, who turned 5 on the 22nd ... and to my youngest sibling, my brother, Kevin, who was born on my birthday when I was eight. 

Sixty-seven years ago last Saturday my mother gave birth for the first time. She was a young college woman of 20 and getting married/pregnant put a halt to her classes for a while. Back in those days - at least in the nursing program at Berea College - married women and/or young mothers were  not allowed to attend classes. Thanks Be that things have changed since then!! I was born a month early and was pretty small, I guess, at 5 1/2 pounds (especially in those days). 

When I was a young mother, the sharing of birth stories was encouraged  and I've heard any number of them (all of them give me a warm heart, even now:). I don't think that the same was true at the time when I was born (1952), certainly not in small town Kentucky. I never heard my mother speak of her experience with me ... sometimes I wonder how things were for her. Birth preparation classes were, as far as I know, unheard of back then. She _was_ training to be a nurse so surely had been present at births before. She was the oldest of eight children and probably had some exposure to birth at home (though I have no idea how the mountain culture she was born into treated such things). Was she frightened? Excited? I have no idea.

I do know that I was a much-loved child. Not only by my parents but by their siblings as well. I am the oldest child of my generation on both sides of my family and my aunts and uncles were all kind to me throughout my childhood. In many ways, I had a golden childhood. :) The fact that I did not choose to raise my children in the same way as the culture I was born into would have done does not change the happiness of my early years. :)

So I spent my birthday this year in my nightgown for the entire day. Rather than go out to dinner, we ordered in (Chinese, and tasty:). I did exactly and only what I felt like doing all day - read books, played solitaire, watched two movies (Suicide Squad and The Dark Tower) ... generally just 'hung out.' Fun! I did not sew because my sewing area has tipped over into outright chaos over the past month. I have a LOT of picking up to do. Sigh.

When I do get back to sewing, I want to double down on finishing the piecing of my thistle and leaf project. I have to decide what the third 'icon' I want to include should be - the lovely pear design I found in Simply Moderne magazine or the Banana Leaf motif that Elizabeth Hartman recently released:


The banana leaf would go along with the other two EH designs I'm already using ... on the other hand, it might be too many leaves, eh? :) I haven't decided, yet, so I will probably back-burner that project for a few weeks to explore alternatives. :)

Last Friday all three of us, Barbara, Patty and I, met to sew together. I was working on my ever-progressing 'modern crazy quilt' embroidery. I only have four more fabric patches to work on ... but I keep thinking of ways to add to already embroidered areas. :) I am sensing a little bit of finishing reluctance on my part. Hopefully I can get past it to complete my work.

Yesterday (Monday), the Wool Club at Springwater Designs had our monthly meeting for November. Heather shared with us the pretty new things she picked up at Quilt Market in Houston last month, including a new wool designer, Mary Blythe. We are going to work on one of her patterns during our next club series of meetings (January through May?). I bought her new book while I was there Monday - there were a number of ideas and designs in it I really like. :) I want to finish making my modern crazy quilt (at long last - it has been my carry-around project for several years now:) so I can start some new handwork.

Thanksgiving will be a quiet day for us here at chez Schiffer. The three of us will have our meal and review our blessings. I have a LOT to be thankful for, as always.

:) Linda

Lovely Weekend


I came across this Venn diagram earlier last week and found it thought-provoking. It is meant to show how to choose your life's purpose. Personally, I think my purpose is life is two-fold: to increase the amount of love in the world (i.e., love everyone I can as passionately as possible:) and to generate good ideas wherever I find myself. Seems to be working for me so far, anyway. :)

The last three days have given me a lot of renewed enthusiasm for life and healing balm for my melancholy. I spent Friday - for the first time in weeks - with my friends Barbara and Patty. Barbara and I went to lunch at the Asean Bistro on the north side of Columbia, first. Barbara went out of her way to find some amazingly funny things to share with me (quotes from kids) over lunch - nothing like laughter to heal the soul! :)

After lunch, Barbara and I went back to her house (where we were joined by Patty) to sew. I had my remaining card kits along to finish making ... but discovered that I had forgotten my glue. :( Sigh. Patty brought me some of hers to use ... but that did not work out, either. So, instead I played with color chips with Barbara. It is almost time for Bonnie Hunter's annual mystery to start - this year's project is called Frolic and the color cards and fabric requirements were published recently.

Barbara got a HUGE pile of color cards because she wants to use a different palette than the one Bonnie has suggested. We spent quite a while looking through possible palettes from Design Seeds and sorting through color cards. So much fun! I love playing with color. :)

Here is the arrangement Barbara tentatively settled on using  I like best:

Barbaras frolic real

I have forgotten which Seed this was. Sigh. She gifted me with a color set I particularly liked, too: Barbara tells me I reversed these two photos. Sigh. That's what I get for not looking at my color cards before I posted. Grin. I do like the color combo above, luckily. ;)

My?? frolic

I _think_ this came from a Seed with a bright macaw or some other parrot bird. I don't know whether I'm going to bother with Bonnie's mystery this year or not. I guess it depends on my willingness to sew at the time. :) I did attempt it one year ... and failed miserably. I sewed my way through three or four of the mystery clues and then lost momentum. I made three charity baby quilt tops from my assembled parts ... and still have more to use up. :) I will save this palette, though, and maybe use it on another project. I like these colors. :)

Saturday was the scheduled meeting of our Columbia Bee for the Baltimore modern guild. We had the classroom space at Springwater Designs which is a really nice place to sew. :) I went to visit with my friends there (and to shop:) but didn't take anything to sew on. I just wanted to see what everyone else was making and chat. I stayed about two hours and enjoyed myself quite a lot - there is nothing like sewing with friends to lift my spirits. :)

While I was there, I bought my Aurifil spool (intense yellow this month), picked up my October block of the month (Nightwatch) kit, and found a cute 'lunch box' style tin. It was designed by the Ruby Star Society of Moda Fabrics and I really like it. On the large side of lunchbox size, it has a lovely sewing machine (a la Featherweight) on one side and pretty flowers on the others. I grabbed it up as soon as I saw it.

I have been carrying my embroidery around with me for several years as my 'traveling' handwork project. So far I've been using a small turquoise square tote from 31 bags. When I started working on the little dinosaur embroideries, I discovered that my tote was too small to hold a decent sized embroidery hoop (the work I've been carrying around is on flannel and wool and I didn't need a hoop). Sooooo, I needed a new carry-container for my embroidery. I had fun transferring the goods from my little turquoise bag into the Ruby tin. :)

Sunday was the monthly meeting of my Sew&Tell circle. I took my newly provisioned Ruby tin along with my embroidery to work on (and some delicious fresh watermelon/blueberry/strawberry fruits for our potluck). Again, such balm to see the seven of us who came to Barbara's house to sew for the afternoon! There was some show & tell, courtesy of Amy:


Here are Amy (left) and Peggy holding up a made-entirely-with-lawn cotton quilt by Amy. You would not believe how soft and cuddly this thing was! You can't tell from this photo but every other star is made from Hello Kitty fabric (Amy is a _serious_ collector of cat prints). So cute! :)

So, a lovely weekend and happy friendship contacts all around for me. :) Today it is back to real world - I have to go off as soon as I finish posting this to order gravestones for my two brothers.

:) Linda

Quiet Reflection

The past two weeks have been emotionally difficult for me. While we were away in Gatlinburg, my brother Jeff (who has been in a nursing home for the past two+ years with lung failure) became ill with yet another kidney infection and was sent off to the neighboring ICU. HE had been quite lucid and on breathing support previously but the nursing home staff told me this round of infection(s) were much worse. When he got back to the nursing home, he was confused and incoherent. I am receiving this news by telephone from his concerned nurses at the center.

Long story short, his kidneys failed and my brother, at the relatively young age of 63, died on Sunday afternoon, November 10th. The diagnosis/cause of death was kidney failure; because of the state of his heart and lungs, he was not a candidate for dialysis.

I went to Ohio to be with Jeff at the nursing home as soon as we got back from Tennessee. I was there from Saturday until I had to come home last Thursday. It's a nine hour drive from Cincinnati where he lived to my home here in eastern Maryland; for me, that is an entire day of driving. As it happened, Thursday was rainy all day and the trip was not very pleasant. :P I had to come home for doctor's appointments.

While I was there, Jeff never recovered full consciousness. He was somewhat responsive to spoken words and occasionally opened his eyes partially, but never was able to speak or respond meaningfully. I arranged with the nursing home to have Hospice come in and provide additional care for him (including a dedicated nurse who came in once or twice a day and reported on his condition to me). The hospice people were uniformly wonderful - kind, caring, gentle and supportive.

The staff as the nursing home was good, too. Apparently my brother (as one of the few coherent patients in his wing, and as the generally nice guy that he was) had many friends among the staff. Several of them came in to visit him while I was there and were clearly upset at his state of being.

I spent Friday and Saturday after I came home trying to make arrangements for Jeff's cremation and internment with my parents in Ohio (when he eventually passed). On Sunday was the scheduled monthly meeting of the Baltimore modern quilt guild; since I am still the communications chairperson until the end of this year, I was at the board meeting when I received a call from Jeff's care giver. He passed away at 3:20 p.m.

To say that I have been sad is somewhat of an understatement. I am a quiet griever and it takes me a long time to accept the changes death brings. Every time someone I care about passes, all the previous losses come back to add sadness to the current episode. Maybe that says something about my mental state - I don't know. It sometimes seems to me that adulthood includes a considerable series of on-going lessons in letting go. Sigh.

My sister is still recovering from her stroke this summer and really can't travel. Our youngest brother, Kevin (who lives with Doris), has no interest in more funerals. So, no services for Jeff. That does not mean we aren't missing him and thinking about him.