Thursday, September 29, 2011


An addendum to the Stuff I've Learned today -- the most amazing writing on sacrificing for all the right reasons: love for your family. Don't miss this article from Merlin, the same guy who hangs out at 43 Folders: "Cranking."

Yes, it's that good. And not just because I'm sick, either. 

Stuff I've Learned While Sick

*It doesn't have to be perfect, to be Good Enough. (Thanks, Get Rich Slowly, for reminding me of this.) With apologies to Nike, just Doing It wins an awful lot of battles. (With thanks to 43 Folders for reinforcing this concept.) The Brick wanted a hot supper, and the papers cleaned up -- not spotlessness everywhere.

*I can forgive myself for not being perfect. (See above.) In fact, if you're late/remiss, coughing hollowly into the phone will emphasize that you're not currently at 100% strength. Forgive yourself for not accomplishing that list of errands, finishing up the quilt, or completing your magnum opus. Do what's critical, and rest.

*Our dog Charley doesn't have a clue what's going on. Food, he gets. Car rides -- a pleasure. But Mom, staring off into the distance? She must need entertainment. I've had any number of damp pull ropes and squeaky toys dumped into my lap these past few days, expecting to play. (He can be persistent.)

*Hot soup, tea and coffee do a world of good. I can't taste much, but they're soothing, going down.

*The longer and wordier the book, the more I'm interested. Rereading the second volume of Winston Churchill's biography, The Last Lion: Alone, by William Manchester. Marvelous. I wish Manchester's heir would hurry up and finish Volume #3.

*Strange television programs -- and movies -- make a lot more sense when you're sick. Or watching at 2 a.m. in the morning. Trust me. I know.

Oh yes, and the U.S. Census Bureau reduced its estimate of same-sex married/partnered households by almost two-thirds. (Yes, that's right -- nearly SIXTY-SIX PERCENT.) Same-sex married couple households were dropped to 131,279 from 349,377. (The number of estimated same-sex unmarried partner households was cut to 514,735 from 552,620, a 7 percent drop.) Total number of same-sex couple households is still less than 1% of all American households.
    Less than one percent. Is our culture focusing on this lifestyle just one percent of the time? Is it in the news only this much?
    We have a cross-gender cousin -- who we love dearly, in spite of the years and miles separating us. She's in a married relationship with her wife. I think  that she would appreciate not being made a special case -- just let them get on with their daughter, their studies, their work. Stop fussing about it, and just let them live.
     The Census Bureau blames their gaff on worker mistakes. I wonder...

I'm hopping back in bed, with Churchill and a cup of tea. The flu is on the wane, thank God, but I run out of steam fast. Hope you're doing well.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

A Musical Interlude

Maybe it's the flu, but this version of Mac Davis' Poor Boy Boogie is just amazing!

Listen to it here, and see what you think. (The Muppet version, featuring multiple Beakers, brought me to the song. After all, Mac mentions "eefing along" in the original version. It's "meep," Mac..."meep!")

Paul Pilgrim Honored

Paul Pilgrim's Dresden Garden quilt has received an honor! Here's the notice:

    "Recently I was notified that the Cotton Council International, a non- profit organization that promotes the export of U.S. cotton, has chosen Paul Pilgrims “Dresden Garden Quilt’’ as the quilt to represent their new PR campaign. Their theme, ‘’American Quilts ‘’ Cotton US.
The new campaign targets China as well as all other countries in order to stimulate trade with the U.S.
“Dresden Garden” is in the collection of The National Quilt Museum, Paducah, Ky. It was chosen out of the entire collection by the Cotton Council representatives.
Needless to say I am thrilled and can only imagine how he would feel. After fifteen years he is still contributing and obviously his work is still meaningful.
I had to share this with everyone who knew him and with everyone else as well.
Gerald Roy"   

Good for you, Paul! And good for you too, Jerry, since I know your work often influenced and accented each other. The words 'Pilgrim/Roy Collection' are an honor any textile would be proud to wear.    
   This quilt is from Paul's posthumous sampler book, Blending the Old & New: Quilts by Paul D. Pilgrim, co-authored by his partner, Gerald Roy. An amazing book, both for working with antique blocks (Paul incorporated them into his work, adding antique and modern fabrics as needed) and for expanding on the sampler style. The book's been out for years, but is still breaking new design grounds. One of the most inspiring quilt titles I've ever read...and continue to learn from.

I have to admit, though: my heart still belongs to another quilt from the same book, Paul's Old Blocks Expanded, shown below:

LOVE the positive/negative setting here. (The secret is in treating the sashing the same as the 'plain' squares, including quilting them to resemble Nine Patch blocks. See my variation on this, "Golden Years," in Quilts of the Golden West.)
     Paul's life was cut tragically short; we're lucky to have his quilts to learn from, but I still wish that he was around. It would be fascinating to see his latest work!

Home, Part Two

I brought an unexpected souvenir home from Michigan: the flu. (I'd thought it was allergies, but you don't run a fever with them.) I ache all over. Lots of coughing. No brain -- it's turned to mush. You know that, when Jeffrey Archer's self-obsessed Prison Diaries actually start to make sense. (I love the man's fiction work, even though he tends to be a pompous ass. Lots of twists and unexpected turns.) Even CSI: Miami episodes are starting to have philosophical implications.

Boy, I need to get better. Fast.

The Mama called from Michigan -- she's busy making apple butter and pies, from the bushels of fruit we picked. She says it's been dreary and spitting rain for days.
    Here in Colorado, we've had warm days, lots of sun and fluffy clouds, and cool nights.

I wanted to tell you more, but... (see paragraph #1 about brain mush). Guess I'll go drink some hot tea, wrap up in an afghan, and ponder -- nothing.

Monday, September 26, 2011


What a lovely, lovely word. 

I apologize for the week-plus of silence, but after my stop at the Capitol City Quilt Guild in Lansing, MI (hi, guys!), I was on to the Sparta farm I'd grown up on. And the Mama, however many her positive traits, does not believe in the Internet.
   That meant schlepping over to Brother's or Cousin's house to access theirs. And I just felt that I was in the way, more than anything. So I didn't do it -- much.
    Got home Saturday morning. Have spent the time since dealing with laundry, fruit lugged from Michigan, and the garden. (Still picking green beans and squash -- the latest ever I can remember doing this, since we moved here in 1984.) Ate my share of tomatoes in Michigan, something Donna Freedman understands. These Colorado temperatures just don't do well for the love fruit.

Hope you're on the way to a good week -- I'll be back in touch very soon.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Michigan Blues (Or Grays!)

Yes, it is a pale gray here in Michigan...with white overtones. The sky was a thick, gooey cloud, and rain spattered our windshield all the way here. It was cold enough to start thinking about hot coffee and apple fritters, hoodies and warm socks.
    The clouds were just as thick in Colorado when I left this morning -- Pike's Peak had its share of snow flurries today.  Daughter #2 says it's due to snow at her little cabin up in the mountains of Nederland! (I hope Husband remembers to cover the tomato plants on the deck tonight.)

Yes, I Am Cheap has some great advice for things to buy in the fall. Some good ideas here, but I'd add a few more:
     *Summer clothes at the thrift shop  (they're often on clearance at this point).
     *Fruit! Buy a bushel now, and squirrel it away. Peaches can go straight into the freezer, plastic-bagged, with no further prep; use them unfrozen in smoothies, or slice semi-frozen for pies and crisp. Apples can stay in the vegetable crisper for months -- or put them in a cooler and keep out on the back porch. Fruit can stay this way all winter...unless the temp dips into the single digits.
     *Clearance items at the craft shop (use them to make Christmas presents).

Michigan is famous for its fruit -- and some will go home in the carryon of yours truly when I head back. In the meantime, though, it's preparing for tomorrow's lecture...and sewing Czech glass dragonfly buttons on my black velvet top.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


It is one of those afternoons where every cloud in the sky looks like a plein air painting. Not too hot, not too cold. Tomatoes just coming ripe, ready for tonight's broiled shishkabob. Clothes swinging lightly on the line, and a damp pile waiting for ironing. (Ironing - one of the few chores that produces clean, sweet-smelling results right away.)
    Finally, parts of the house are starting to show promise. Fewer piles to put away, a freshly-swept hall. A clean bathroom, ready for a hot bath and long session with a book. An hour or two more, and  the place will be back to its old stuffed self, ready to relax in.

But I leave tomorrow morning.

It's not the gig -- I'll be lecturing for the Capitol City Quilt Guild in Lansing, MI on the 15th. I get a kick out of the Lansing guild; they're bright, opinionated and great fun to be with. They'll love the lecture; "Romping Through the Decades" is a very silly look at how to date fabrics and colors and patterns, complete with lots of "pee" stories (because that's how the dyes were set!) and culminating with a 1970s hostess gown. Owl appliques on the front (with the buttons at alllmost the right height for emphasizing, say we say, bosom friends) and an immensely attractive swatch of Woody Woodpecker ribbon on one sleeve!

I'm just tired.

Ah well. This is the last gig. It will soon be over, with a few blessed weeks to rest up before heading to Arizona. (The Tucson Quilt Guild, to teach crazy quilting...)

I can do this.

* * * * * * * *
In the meantime, you might enjoy this argument for frugality on its own sake -- not because it's going to pile up big bucks right away (because it won't). With patience, that money will grow. And at some point in time, that amount will suddenly matter very much. (Thanks, Simple Dollar, for the input.)
    I try to remind myself of this, trudging through the airport. Do you really need a Starbucks hit, when coffee will be served on the plane? Even those few dollars will build up.

And when you have to leave home, it's kind of fun to live vicariously through the decorating adventuries of Brin at My Messy, Thrilling Life. She's stopped adding to her blog (darn it), but I still enjoy padding through her glowing Freeman Room, stopping to look out the window at the garden, or read a book by the fireplace.

* * * * * * * * * *

Back to work -- and packing. Thanks so much for all the kind words and encouraging notes, both here and on Facebook, about our family's losses. They mean a great deal to us...comforting. Talk to you again soon.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Monday Sunny

...and boy, is it. We're back to warmth again. The beans and squash are loving it in the garden; we've often had a frost by now. The hummingbirds are still here; usually they've left by Labor Day. I wonder: does this mean that fall -- and winter -- are coming in late?
     And I believe in Tinkerbell, too...

Check out this interesting post, via Wisebread, on 25 things you should throw away. I don't agree with everything -- paperwork, for example.  He doesn't keep greeting cards, arguing they're a waste of time. Sorry Buddy -- I treasure each card the Daughters have written on over the years. (I tuck them in various books; then when rediscovering them as I reread, I have the pleasure of enjoying the card all over again. Ditto for relevant magazine or newspaper articles, as well as a few of the 9/11 commemorative comics and photos from yesterday's paper. They serve as good book markers, too.)

What would I sell, donate or throw away? 

*Most of the unworn contents of my underwear drawer -- especially nylons. (Who wears nylons much nowadays?)

*Pots, pans and other cooking utensils I haven't used for the past six months. (These are going when I get back home for a while -- with the exception of the canner, electric knife and pressure cooker.)

*Half the contents of my closet. They either don't fit, or I haven't worn them for years. Time to gain some extra room.

*Most of my research files. If I haven't used them by now, they're either out of date, or probably don't apply to current needs. It will be easy to weed through them.

And best of all --
*The cardboard boxes that have been clogging up the entryway. They've been there for weeks, while I'm on the road. I'll put their contents away, then send the boxes off to la-la land.

There's always the "12 items" rule, as well, learned from Suze Orman -- take 12 items from your current life and Get Rid of Them. Or put them away. If you do this regularly -- preferably every day -- your floors, shelves and table tops will reappear!
    But then, you'll have to sweep and dust...

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Great Idea!

Make a dollhouse from dresser drawers?

Let Nice Girl Notes show you how. This would be a great Christmas present for a little girlie.

Traveling on 9/11...and ABCs

Got home this afternoon, with a sigh of problems at either the Houston or Denver airports. In fact, it was a little quiet -- I suspect many people chose not to travel on 9/11. A small group of military guys were on my flight from Houston; they weren't dressed that way, but spoke and acted like they had a military background, and sported short haircuts. Nearly all of them slept or read -- but one stayed alert, his eyes roaming around the plane. Were they hired to keep an eye on things? 
    The 9/11 service at Ground Zero was moving. We WILL never forget.

* * * * * * * * * * *

Frugal Babe, bless her heart, suggested passing on the ABCs of selfdom while blogging. How about you -- how would you fill these in?

A – Age. 52. (turning 53 shortly)
B – Bed Size.  Queen. Doctor's Choice brand -- otherwise, we get back problems. (But why would you care??)
C – Chore I dislike.  Vacuuming. I really don't mind everything else.
D – Dogs.  Well, our darling Charley. He must be growing his winter coat -- there's white fur everywhere.
E – Essential start to my day.  Great coffee -- and a chance to wake up without being excessively verbal.
F – Favorite Colors.  Cobalt blue. I love this clean, deep shade.
G – Gold or silver?  gold -- but silver is looking better on me, now my hair is going white.
H – Height.  I’m 5’7".
I – Instruments I play(ed).  Ten years of piano lessons...and fifteen-plus years of playing on the church worship team. Teaching kids piano and voice for years, as well. I also played eight years of trombone (middle and high school). Some organ, and I can plink along on guitar -- a few chords, anyways. Goal for this year: begin learning mandolin from Husband.
J – Job title.  That's a tough one. Maybe owner of Brickworks? Definitely writer, editor, judge, appraiser, teacher, curator. Caterer, secretary, cashier, custodian, apple orchard employee, teacher's assistant and executive secretary in past lives. Not to mention cook, cleaner and bottle washer around here.
K – Kids.  Daughters #1 and #2, 22 and 25, respectively.
L – Live.  In a brick (naturally) ranch in a rural/city neighborhood on the edge of Castle Rock, CO. We live way up on a hill, with a view of the mountains and plains 20-60 miles away in three directions.
M - Money tip I like best.  Spend less than you earn. No matter what. (And always check the markdown bins at the grocery store.)
N – Never plan to…  eat black licorice. Or die in bed.
O – Overnight hospital stays.  Only three times -- during kindergarten, getting my tonsils out, and during both girlies' births. Unless you count staying there with Husband, during his back surgeries and stay last year.
P - Pet Peeves.  Arrogance, whether you deserve to brag, or not. Picking your nose, thoroughly, while someone else is in the room. (Yuck.) Not to mention doing it while driving!
Q - Quote from a movie.  "My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die." (from the Princess Bride.)
R – Righty or lefty? Left-handed.
S - Siblings.  A crazy little brother, who keeps me sane and honest. His wife, my sister. Two wonderful older brothers-in-law, and their wives.
T - Time I wake up.  Lately, several times through the night. (Wish I could say differently.) Last night, I went to bed dead-tired at 1:00 a.m., then woke up about 3:45 a.m., 5:30 a.m., and 6:30 a.m. (I had to get up at 7:00.)
U – Underwear.  cotton. (But I would love to wear la-dee-dah silk.)
V - Vegetables I don’t like. Lima beans. I would have added brussel sprouts here, but Daughter #1 has a wonderful way of cooking them.
W – What makes me run late.  Trying to stuff too many last-minute chores or 'quickie' items in.
X – X-rays I’ve had.  Dental and some physical. Nothing fun.
Y – Yummy food I make.  Many different soups, stroganoff, breads...and a mean Sachertorte.

Z – Zoo animals I like.  Panthers. And polar bears.  (The Denver bears are lots of fun to watch.)

Now you're tagged!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Remembering 9/11

The job's done at was a long day today, but it went well. I fly out tomorrow morning. Hopefully the increased security will not be a huge issue...I really want to spend a day at home with Husband, snuggled up and reading the Sunday paper. 

Ten years ago, I was at the doctor's office with Husband. He was facing back surgery, and in agony. We could not get any of the nurses to pay attention to him, so in desperation he laid down on the floor of the waiting room. That did it -- a nurse promptly found him a cubicle to lie down in.
    I came back to the waiting room, after making sure he was comfortable, and glanced at the tv screen. What in the world...?? What was that -- a preview for some new disaster movie? I remember thinking, 'Gosh, they've got to do better on their special effects - that doesn't look very real.'
    It was the first and second World Trade Center towers, collapsing.

Husband's brother was working at the Pentagon; his office was right in the same area hit by a hijacked plane. But he had taken that day off...

Add your stories here too, if you like. May we never forget this day -- never. 

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Making Money - Fast

Fifteen quick ways to make money -- this columnist has some good general ideas that feature the old standbys like Ebay and Craigslist. I'd probably do some extra writing on Textbroker -- it wouldn't be the easiest way to do it, but steady writing would accomplish a lot.
    Daughter #2's chickens are finally starting to produce eggs. Around here, good quality organic eggs bring a lot. Perhaps selling produce from your garden, if you've got one? Green beans, tomatoes -- all of these would do well.

Further thoughts, besides Selling Something You Already Have:
     *Babysitting  (including nursery work for some church or social functions -- many hire regular babysitters)
     *Filling in for someone on vacation
     *Baked goods sale (best at somewhere like a church, or near college students, a playing field, etc.)

Or do something you're skilled at -- for me, it would most probably be appraisals.

I've been enjoying the work here in Houston, but struggling with a problem: insomnia. I feel exhausted, but cannot seem to get sleepy until after midnight. (Last night, it was nearly 2 a.m.) But once I sleep, it's restless -- I have strange dreams, wake up a lot, and wake up to check that I haven't overslept the alarm, etc. This isn't too bad for a night or two -- but I'm been struggling with it for at least two or three weeks, and it's starting to wear.
   While here, I've been swimming for half an hour at night. That seems to help; so does a cup of hot pomegranate green tea. I've been drinking coffee at supper -- need to stop it.

Any ideas you've got in this department would be appreciated. Two more nights here, then it's home again.

Aunt Max

Here's the obituary for my aunt:

Blank Blank Blank

Mary Cumings

  |   Visit Guest Book

CUMINGS (Sparta) - (Please Note Place of Visitation) Mary Maxine Cumings, age 87, passed away on Wednesday, September 7, 2011. She was preceded in death by her loving husband, Archie. She is survived by her son, Leo and Jeannette Cumings; daughter, Betty and David Rosekopf; grandsons, James and Ashley Cumings, Allen and Laura Cumings; great-grandchildren, Charis, Lydia, Kristen, Nathan; one brother; one sister; several nieces and nephews. Funeral services will be held on Saturday, September 10, 11:00 a.m. with Pastor Nate Wagner officiating. Interment in Myers Cemetery, Sparta. Friends may meet the family at the church on Friday, 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 p.m. and Saturday one hour prior to the service. In lieu of flowers the family suggests memorial contributions to the Sparta Baptist Church. Hessel-Cheslek Funeral Home - Sparta

Published in Grand Rapids Press on September 8, 2011
Share your memories, express your condolences and add photos in the Guest Book for Mary Cumings.
  • "What a blessing Maxine was to everyone she met. She always had a kind word to share. I feel blessed to have gotten to know her. My prayers are with the family." Melissa Chambers (Sparta, MI )
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Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Houston...And Loss

Boy, what a week.
  Last week was teaching in Bloomington, IL, for the Hands All Around Quilt Guild. (Hi, dears! I had a great time!) After a few days washing clothes, putting up corn (hey, it was on sale!), and putting stuff away, it was on the road again.
   I just flew into Houston today, ready for work. Three of us are here at IQA through Saturday: long hours, but the others are great, and it will be interesting! (I can tell you more about specifics after the job's done.)

Got a phone call at the Houston airport, though: my aunt Max died. She'd had heart trouble for some time, and had been admitted to the hospital last night. Another heart attack took her this morning -- and quickly.
    This auntie, and her husband Archie, were major sources of encouragement in my life. Archie was my fourth-grade teacher, and a writer who encouraged this girl to keep trying in the publishing world. He believed in me even when I wasn't so sure about myself.
     Uncle Archie died a few years back. I can just see them rejoicing at being together again! 

I can't be there for her funeral. But I can call her daughter, and pass on how much Aunt Max meant to me.

It has been a rough period for losing people -- and personalities -- we love. Daughter #1's dog Jack died in a freak landslide this weekend, lost while she was hiking in Chautauqua Park, near Boulder. Jack stayed with us so often that he became partly our dog. And he was our Charley's dear companion. The only consolation was that he died quickly, with no struggle. We brought Jack back home, and buried him by our other dogs.( I planted a Russian sage on his grave -- because he had become so, well, you know. And I have plans to add a bed of mint -- because he was worth just that.)
    Daughter's apartment is a lonely place tonight.

I desperately want to make things easier for her. I want to comfort my cousins in person. But I have responsibilities. I need to stay here, and do my job. But it doesn't stop me thinking of them, and keeping them in my prayers. A call, a reminder: "I love you. And it will get better."

And it will.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Back On the Air...

   For nearly a week now, I've been trying to add a post, without an annoying "nothing-to-do-with-it" website popping up, instead.
    Husband, my best IT person, by far, figured out the problem -- the Frugal Blogroll (of which I am a proud member) apparently decided to hog my site, as well!
    It's fixed...and I'll be around to chat. It's nice to be back. And if you've been visiting, only to get 'Blogrolling' flashed in your face all the time -- well, it won't be happening again. Thank God.