The complete quilt

Mom taught me how to sew when I was in second grade. One of my first projects was a t-shirt. Another project was a big stuffed whale. Mom had to help me with the zipper…the mouth had zipper lips to open and close it. I was delighted when she made the mistake of sewing the zipper in backwards (the zipper pull was towards the inside of the mouth). My part of the sewing was perfect…the biggest error was Mom’s.

What Mom didn’t teach me was how to finish a project in a timely manner. She has very little interest in finishing one project before starting another. This has been very freeing to me. Perhaps a little too freeing. I have no idea how many started, but unfinished projects I even have.

In the fall of 2011, a book caught my eye. It is Scandinavian Needlecraft and includes great embroidery designs, mostly on wool. The book wasn’t in our library system at the time, so I tried Scandinavian Stitches instead. Author Kajsa Wikman has lots of great designs in it, including soft baskets and stuffed fabric birds. I loved one of the baby quilts in the book, but I wasn’t about to make a quilt just to hang on the wall. It occurred to me that Jessie was having a baby in December and the quilt has lots of blue in it (a color that she might not see enough of these days). A winter theme, lots of blue, and a December baby…a perfect combination.

I dug through my stash and found the perfect colors for the sky. I needed a little more variety and was happy to find a great match at the local thrift store. A couple of small pieces were added for variety and everything was ready to go. The cutting and sewing began at Mom’s house on Thanksgiving weekend. The top went together quite quickly.

Fox peeking out from the snow

The hand quilting took longer. It turned out to be the perfect project for me. I quilted at the hospital while Grandpa Neil was there. I quilted at Grandma Siggie’s while we spent time together. I quilted at the nursing home while Grandpa Neil was there. I quilted with friends while taking time for myself. Some of the stars are less than perfect. Some stars have more than five points. Maybe Ivy and Clara will look for them when they need a quiet project.

Stars in the sky

Since I’ve never finished a quilting project, this was my first attempt at cutting the binding on a bias. I thought about it for quite a while, folded the fabric, and cut. Was I ever surprised to find the zig-zag that it made. Hindsight was much clearer than foresight.

First try at binding

It was a happy day when I got the bias tape cut, ironed, and rolled. The binding finally was domesticated.

Spool of binding

It was time for the label. Jenny made one for the quilt, but it wasn’t quite what I had in mind. A friend told me about her label making process: spray adhesive on a sheet of printer paper; apply an oversize piece of fabric on it; cut the fabric to the size of the paper; feed the paper/fabric into the inkjet printer; print with the desired text; and set with a hot iron. Since I hope this quilt will withstand lots of washing, I decided to make the label more permanent by embroidering on top of the ink.

The fine print

It then seemed to take forever to finish the label and sew it onto the quilt. I had put off putting the binding on so that I could sew the label only on to the back of the quilt. I did everything just right for this process until the last moment, a moment of excitement, when I sewed the label through the entire thickness of the quilt. It was fortunate that the bobbin thread was white and nothing puckered in the process! I wasn’t about to tear it out at this point.

The completed quilt

The completed quilt

The finished quilt was ready to give to Jane on March 24, when we celebrated Grandma Elma’s 93rd birthday. Jane and I met for the first time. It was a good day for many reasons, a small one was that this project was completed!

And now for something completely different…

George made a very good supper of squash and nettle lasagna tonight. That’s right…stinging nettles turned into a yummy supper.

Everything is good with lots of cheese

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It is March?

George and Meg

The weather has been unseasonably warm here in Wisconsin. Someone told me that our daytime temperatures are reaching the average for July. I believe them. Spring chores have been sped up for me. Getting things done before the grass gets too long seems to be a deadline that I never quite reach in time.

Along with the hot weather, George has spring break, and we have been married 11 years this March. We took some time off from the grass deadline to canoe on the Little Wolf River today. George was in the bow because I have more experience steering than he does. Like many things that he attempts, George relies on brute strength than balance or finesse. I felt like I was mostly paddling to counter his force rather than navigate down the river.

Just paddling along

Turtles sunning on a log

We saw a frog, lots of turtles sunning themselves on snags, ducks, geese, and a turkey. Most of the plants are still thinking about turning green and the grasses along the bank were brown.

The water was high enough, even though we didn’t get nearly our usual amount of snowfall or other precipitation since fall. We had to work to hit a couple of rocks and there where nice ripples, but nothing rough. Perfect for us. There was a tense moment when George didn’t feel like I was doing my job of steering well enough and attempted to steer from the bow. When I thought that the moment was over I told George that he would just have to trust me. “But I don’t trust you!” George shouted back. Maybe we will work on trust for our twelfth anniversary.

Transport

Wanna hug?

Endnote: No, George does not want a hug. He’s showing off a spruce moved from Scott and Barb’s land and transplanted on Paul and Barb’s land.

A heap o’livin’

A little poem for Jessie. This poem is from the book Poems Teachers Ask For: Book II. Not only are “dialect” poems difficult to for me to read, they also can be very sentimental.

Home
by Edgar Guest
(1881 – 1959)

It takes a heap o’ livin’ in a house t’ make it home,
A heap o’ sun an’ shadder, an’ ye sometimes have t’ roam
Afore ye really ‘preciate the things ye lef’ behind,
An’ hunger fer ’em somehow, with ’em allus on yer mind.
It don’t make any differunce how rich ye get t’ be,
How much yer chairs an’ tables cost, how great yer luxury;
It ain’t home t’ ye, though it be the palace of a king,
Until somehow yer soul is sort o’ wrapped round everything.

Home ain’t a place that gold can buy or get up in a minute;
Afore it’s home there’s got t’ be a heap o’ livin’ in it;
Within the walls there’s got t’ be some babies born, and then
Right there ye’ve got t’ bring ’em up t’ women good, an’ men;
And gradjerly as time goes on, ye find ye wouldn’t part
With anything they ever used—they’ve grown into yer heart:
The old high chairs, the playthings, too, the little shoes they wore
Ye hoard; an’ if ye could ye’d keep the thumb-marks on the door.

Ye’ve got t’ weep t’ make it home, ye’ve got t’ sit an’ sigh
An’ watch beside a loved one’s bed, an’ know that Death is nigh;
An’ in the stillness o’ the night t’ see Death’s angel come,
An’ close the eyes o’ her that smiled, an’ leave her sweet voice dumb.
Fer these are scenes that grip the heart, an’when yer tears are dried,
Ye find the home is dearer than it was, an’ sanctified;
An’ tuggin’ at ye always are the pleasant memories
O’ her that was an’ is no more—ye can’t escape from these.

Ye’ve got t’ sing an’ dance fer years, ye’ve got t’ romp an’ play,
An’ learn t’ love the things ye have by usin’ ’em each day;
Even the roses ’round the porch must blossom year by year
Afore they ‘come a part o’ ye, suggestin’ someone dear
Who used t’ love ’em long ago, an’ trained ’em jes t’ run
The way they do, so’s they would get the early mornin’ sun;
Ye’ve got t’ love each brick an’ stone from cellar up t’ dome:
It takes a heap o’ livin’ in a house t’ make it home.

Volunteering around the world

Ken Budd’s memoir, The Voluntourist, revolves around a big life issue: What is my purpose and legacy? Ken’s father led a successful career and excelled as leader. Ken would love to have kids, but his wife Julie isn’t interested.

Ken decides to explore his own purpose through volunteering and traveling, voluntouring, starting with renovating homes in New Orleans. Each of Ken’s destinations has a new location with a new culture and a new opportunity: teaching English in Costa Rica; assisting disabled students in China; researching natural science in Ecuador; providing moral support (along with a little farming) in Palestine; and working with orphans in Kenya.

Ken is kind with his descriptions of himself and others, while maintaining humor and realism, which makes this book very readable. A brief section at the end of the memoir provides introductory information about becoming a voluntourist.

Reviewed from an uncorrected proof provided by William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.

Childhood book

Grandma and I have shared many stories from her youth within the last few months. Grandma moved with her family from Milwaukee to Colby to Abbotsford. With one of the moves, Great Grandma must have culled the family book collection. Grandma wished that the book Poems Teachers Ask For had been kept because she enjoyed it so much.

I went in search of a copy of of the book for Grandma and found Poems Teachers Ask For Book II. I’m not sure if Grandma will recognize the poetry in it or not. Based on my favorite poems in the book, I will like your poetry better if your name is Henry. The number of poems written in dialect (Irish accent, southern drawl, etc) in the book surprised me. I almost immediately skip over these, which is probably a loss for me.

Loss and Gain
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
(1807-1882)

When I compare
What I have lost with what I have gained,
What I have missed with what attained,
Little room do I find for pride.

I am aware
How many days have been idly spent;
How like an arrow the good intent
Has fallen short or been turned aside.

But who shall dare
To measure loss and gain in this wise?
Defeat may be victory in disguise;
The lowest ebb is the turn of the tide.

If All the Skies
by Henry Van Dyke
(1852 – 1933)

If all the skies were sunshine,
Our faces would be fain
To feel once more upon them
The cooling splash of rain.

If all the world were music,
Our hearts would often long
For one sweet strain of silence,
To break the endless song.

If life were always merry,
Our souls would seek relief,
And rest from weary laughter
In the quiet arms of grief.

The Height of the Ridiculous
by Oliver Wendell Holmes
(1809-1894)

I wrote some lines once on a time
In wondrous merry mood,
And thought, as usual, men would say
They were exceeding good.
They were so queer, so very queer,
I laughed as I would die;
Albeit, in the general way,
A sober man am I.

I called my servant, and he came;
How kind it was of him
To mind a slender man like me,
He of the mighty limb.

“These to the printer,” I exclaimed,
And, in my humorous way,
I added, (as a trifling jest,)
“There’ll be the devil to pay.”

He took the paper, and I watched,
And saw him peep within;
At the first line he read, his face
Was all upon the grin.

He read the next; the grin grew broad,
And shot from ear to ear;
He read the third; a chuckling noise
I now began to hear.

The fourth; he broke into a roar;
The fifth; his waistband split;
The sixth; he burst five buttons off,
And tumbled in a fit.

Ten days and nights, with sleepless eye,
I watched that wretched man,
And since, I never dare to write
As funny as I can.