Friday, August 31, 2018

What Appears to Be... Is Not Always All There Is

Rocky Mountain Showdown: Go Colorado!

CU played CSU tonight, in their annual meeting at the Rocky Mountain Showdown.

'Ralphie stomped on the Rams,' read one commentary. They sure did: 45-13.

We watched the game at our local Red Robin, sustained by Colorado peach hard cider, coffee, boneless wings and an incredible bacon milkshake. (You have to ask for it, I'm told -- tell them a vanilla milkshake, but no vanilla syrup. Add a small shot of brown sugar glaze and mix in a handful of bacon bits. It is GREAT.)

Friends Tommy and Chris watched with us until the third quarter, when they couldn't take it anymore. (Tommy spent the pre-game bragging about how great CSU was going to be. Serves him right for graduating from there with a forestry degree.)

We stayed until the restaurant closed --and the game nearly finished. It was worth it.

Does this mean that Colorado actually has a chance this season to regain its once-legendary greatness?


Another Great One is Gone: Nancy Kirk

  Nancy Kirk, writer, appraiser, quilt restorer and co-founder of the Quilt Heritage Foundation, died Aug. 28, 2018.

She was my friend.

  It was my first trip to a quilt show as an editor representing Quilter's Newsletter Magazine. I was a little scared, but wanted to make a good impression. Before I started my official duties, though, I needed to calm down. Nearby was a show booth of beautiful old fabrics and quilt tops. I'd begun collecting these beauties, studying and thinking about how to quilt on them, repair them and such. 
    I was riffling through the hangers when a voice startled me. I can't remember what she first said, but it was clear that we had a similar enthusiasm. We talked so much that we met for supper that night to talk more.

    And that is how I met Nancy Kirk.

    As I remember, the Kansas City show's vendor mall was the first time she'd ever had a booth. This was 1992 or 1993; the Kirk Collection was still relatively new, and Nancy and Bill were feeling their way in this strange new world. (As was I.)
     Their storefront was an antique itself, a wonderful place with a dusty, intriguing smell of old fabric, walls of shelves and drawers stuffed with the most wonderful things. Nancy was selling indigoes from South Africa -- the first modern reproductions I'd ever seen that exactly matched the old prints, when washed and aged properly. They were even printed on the original 19th century rollers. She had fat quarters of Depression Era prints and solids; strips of early chintzes, including pillar prints (which I'd only seen in books up to that point); and all sorts of quilts and tops, including quirky redwork pieces (I bought their cream-colored one) and gloriously-embroidered Crazy quilts. 

At last -- a person (actually two, since her husband Bill felt the same way) who loved old fabric as much as I did. Along with Camille Cognac, a brassy 'New Yawkah,' she and Bill had founded the Quilt Restoration Society. Did I want to go to their first conference?

You bet I did.

     When I first arrived, everything was in disarray -- boxes and piles littering every available surface,  the desk piled high with registrations and the phone ringing incessantly. I'd been an executive secretary, and knew just what to do -- so started answering the phone and helping welcome attendees. In fact, I did such a good job that people actually thought I was one of Nan's employees. (It also began a habit of calling her "Boss" that continued for years afterward.) I was lucky to meet people that changed my viewpoint and deepened my knowledge and training. Some, like Shirley McElderry, Betty Pillsbury, Jennifer Perkins, Lynn Lancaster Gorges, Newbie Richardson and Dee Stark, became friends. 
     As I attended more conferences, including the beginnings of the Crazy Quilt Society, Nan and Bill welcomed my help with various matters. I began teaching now and then, and kickstarted by the fact that most Crazy 'histories' were actually just how-to books, began writing my own, to set the record straight. (After years of research, Crazy Quilts was published. Nan wrote the foreword.)
     Our friendship ripened with every meeting. I loved arguing with Bill over some odd feedsack or patriotic quilt. (He would generally be a quiet presence around students, but was a voluble and entertaining person in private, and when selling at a show. I grew to love him just as much as Nan.)

Nan, during a quilt restoration workshop -- which you can read about here,
thanks to Quiltsmith, an Australian blogger

     In 1996, I was laid off from QN, along with many others, thanks to the kind ministrations of Rodale, who then owned Leman Publications. Anyone less than full-time got the ax -- and I was only working 36-39 hours. Not a cent of severance pay was offered; in fact, I was told I wasn't eligible for unemployment. (Which turned out not to be true.). The wholesale reps I worked with were laid off just short of month's end -- neatly cheating them out of that month's commissions. (Whenever a national company brags about their 'earthy' approach and 'family' values, it often applies to what they say -- but not what they do. I'm wary about Rodale to this day.)
     Three days later, I was taking a shower when the phone rang. Dripping wet, I heard Nan say, 'I heard you got laid off. Why not come work for me?'
      I became the Managing Editor for the Quilt Heritage Foundation (QHL), the parent organization for the Quilt Restoration Society (QRS) and the Crazy Quilt Society (CQS). I wrote all of the newsletters and much of the publicity materials. (Hanky Panky Crazy Quilts, my first book, began as a project for the CQS newsletter.) I worked the conferences as a staffer, sometimes teaching, sometimes not. (Kris and John Driessen  joined in, and became good friends.) 

And I began to grow my own business, Brickworks, learning as I went. Nan was more than happy to share her own knowledge and wisdom, and was brimming with suggestions on how to manage this, where to promote that. (Sometimes I followed her advice, sometimes I didn't.) I tested and passed for AQS appraisal certification, and began writing a column for McCall's Quilting that continued, in some ways, the newsletters I'd done for Quilts & Other Comforts. The work for QHL died down, as I began writing more for other clients on a variety of subjects. The appraising led to judging opportunities. 

Nan and Bill remained fairly steady on their course, keeping the shop open and holding regular conferences. They did restoration for various clients, sold a lot of feedsacks to Japanese clients, and Nan grew her appraising business, which she was doing before I became an appraiser, too. She was brilliant at analyzing old quilts and fabrics, and taught me much about recognizing them by their smell, dyes and surface feel. She talked about stitching: 'Black piecing thread is a hallmark of Indiana and Ohio quilts,' she said. (And was often right.)

My own teaching and appraising duties took me out on the road, and I did not see Nan and Bill as often...though I generally stopped there at least once annually for many years, if only to play with fabric and catch up on our lives. Sometimes I taught for a conference. Nan kept on, though I think the heart of her enthusiasm dulled somewhat after Bill's death. She still taught and appraised, but more of her energy went into her work for the Tri-Faith Initiative. 

She first met me as a 'greenie' and learning -- and in some ways, Nan retained her "Boss" approach to me for the rest of her life. But she was also warm, funny and generous with both her time and her knowledge. I spent many an evening, after each conference, analyzing and planning for the next one -- strategies that I still use today. 

Nan was a fellow appraiser, teacher and judge, mentor, advisor, restorer, Crazy quilt-lover...and friend. I will never forget her. 

Her obituary is below... but seems somewhat bland, for the larger-than-life personality she actually was.

Her memorial serivce is Sept. 15, in Omaha -- if you knew her too, and can attend, I know her family will appreciate it. (I have a gig to take care of, with another soon after -- and won't be able to.) 

You can send a card to the church (see the obituary)...or leave a comment on Nancy's Facebook page, which is still up. 

She influenced many people, particularly those who loved, studied and helped restore old quilts.

She will be greatly missed.

Interfaith advocate Nancy Kirk died on September 28th. She was preceded in death by husband William “Bill” Kirk (2003). Survived by son Ben, his partner Jeremy; daughter Jessica; and sister Kathy Timmins.
Born in New York City, Ms. Kirk completed high school in Dallas, TX, held an MA from the University of Illinois at Springfield, and held a BA from Antioch College. She was also a Certified Fundraising Executive, a graduate of Leadership Omaha, and active as a community volunteer.
Kirk moved to Omaha in 1975 to develop arts programs at the State Penitentiary and theatre programs with the Nebraska and Iowa Schools for the Deaf. She also served as Associate Director at The Nebraska Arts Council and the Metropolitan Arts Council in Omaha. While at Metro Arts, she won the national Dawson Arts Management Award for her book Lobbying for the Arts.
Kirk was also known as an expert in antique quilts, fabrics and quilt restoration. She started The Kirk Collection with her late husband in 1987 and continued to manage its website until her death. 
An author and speaker, she wrote hundreds of articles, produced DVDs on the art of quilt restoration and authored several books, including Taking Care of Grandma’s Quilt and Collecting Antique Quilts.
Recently, Ms. Kirk served as the first Executive Director of The Tri-Faith Initiative, a unique project to build a campus with a synagogue, a Christian Church, a mosque and an interfaith center in Omaha, NE.
Memorial service 11AM Saturday, Sept. 15th at St. Andrews Episcopal Church, 925 84th St Omaha, NE 68114. 

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

I Can Only Imagine

It's been a weird day.

I learned only this morning that an old friend from my quilting world is gone. Nancy Kirk died yesterday afternoon. (More on Nan here.)

This landed on top of the news about another person who I respected so much: Opal Frey died recently, as well. She was a shining light in the Colorado quilt world -- heavily involved with the state guild, the Colorado Quilt Council. She also had a strong influence on the Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum and its work.

I know I'm getting older. Others are, too. (Opal was 96.) But it feels strange to hear of these friends dying. I guess I thought they were indesctructible.

If you've lost someone dear to you, or are struggling with the actions of someone close to you...

You need to see I Can Only Imagine. 

It's the story of the band MercyMe, and lead singer Bart Millard's rocky relationship with his dad. (It's amazing how closely the movie follows Millard's -- and the band's -- story.)

It will rip your heart out -- and heal it, at the same time.

So will the song the movie is based on.

I'm a big fan of Mercy Me; their song Flawless has also been a strength and encouragement.

Hopefully it is for you, too.

Monday, August 27, 2018

A Puzzle, Presentation and Resignation -- And Some Good Advice

Greg Barrett (original name: Gay) recounts his middle-school torments at the hands of a group of kids -- led by the person who is now the school superintendent at Katy, TX. Which the superintendent denies, saying "I do not recall this person from my childhood."

(Timeline is here.)

(This report suggests it was all a setup -- and it wasn't true, anyways.)

     It would be easy to dismiss this as a case of mistaken identity -- until a second person corroborated Barrett's story, admitted his part in the gang and said that the superintendent, Lance Hindt, was "one of the biggest bullies that ever went to this junior high." (Watch the video for that -- it's at the very end of the link above.) Then a circuit court judge, who had gone to high school with Hindt, remembered Hindt as a "vicious bully."   (More stuff here, if you can stomach it.)

Barrett, the person who brought all this up at the meeting, said he needed to face his tormenter -- that they were kids and "kids make mistakes," and he hoped the superintendent would at least acknowledge what he'd done. Hmmm...

Now here's the kicker. 

Instead of doing the right thing and admitting that maybe, just maybe he might have had something to do with all this --

     and apologizing for anything he may have done or said, as a "stupid kid" (what his accuser acknowledged: "We were kids -- we were all stupid") -- which is really what his accuser wanted --

Superintendent Lance Hindt denounced the whole situation as a smear campaign and resigned, as of Jan. 1, 2019.  (His exact words: "half-truths, viral videos, edited tapes, false statements.")

Then more evidence started to surface.

Papers about an old assault suit reappeared -- dismissed, after Hindt, age 18, paid $30,000 to the man he beat up. Unfortunately, he chose to abandon this guy while he lay unconscious on the street -- a man who is now a Houston banker. ( Next time, Mr. Hindt, pick less influential people to beat on. It's easy to dismiss one man, dressed in working clothes who stands at the lectern. Harder to dismiss more people coming forward, including the testimony of bankers and judges.)

     Then there are allegations that Hindt plagiarized his doctoral paper. (That investigation is still going on, via the University of Houston.) More people came forward, to accuse him of bullying actions as an assistant principal and principal. (One of Hindt's primary platforms has been, apparently, an anti-bullying initiative these past years.)

Hindt was paid $750,000 as a severance package by the school board, for apparently agreeing to resign. (The vote was 7-0. If I were a parent in that school district, I'd be asking some questions about that.)

"Only God can judge me," he announced. He also mentioned "My Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ." As a Christian, that's my boss, too -- but there never was an 'out' clause for Christians for not being held responsible for their actions here on earth.

(He did apologize -- to his staff. He asked them, without admitting or denying his past actions, to judge him for the man he was today -- not the person of 40 years ago. Which makes sense, but...)

"This is not what I wanted at all. I'm horrified," Greg Barrett said. "I'm disappointed that he resigned. He was the right person to fix this problem."
    All he wanted, Barrett said, was a simple 'I'm sorry.'

So why couldn't Hindt say it?

I keep reminding myself that these were actions of young kids years ago...this situation should have been dealt with in adult fashion. Both Hindt and Barrett expressed a willingness to meet with each other privately. Why didn't they?

What's the conclusion of this whole mess? 

Acting like a jerk as a kid was wrong -- but understandable. Bullying and other actions as an adult -- now that's a different story. And all started by a man, obviously with a lot of work credentials, whose first response should have been understanding and compassion. The statement he initially released showed the same lack of understanding, and quickly dismissed actions as "simply not true" that had obviously tormented this guy for years. (Oops, maybe it was true, after all.)

Sure, Barrett/Gay should have let it go and moved on. Perhaps, after confronting Hindt in public, he now can. (He's also probably facing a civil suit, with attendant lawyer costs...though experts say that Hindt, being a public figure, would probably lose.)

Money, time, energy wasted on all sides... because a man didn't want to admit what he should have: that he was not "a perfect person:" When he finally did, it was pretty much too late.
     "I certainly wasn't as a teenager and I am not as an adult," Hindt said. "When I was young and dumb, I did dumb things." He credited religious faith in his twenties as finally making him a better person. (See above.)

So why couldn't he have admitted that up front? Why couldn't he have produced a simple apology for the man standing  before him at the school board meeting? Was it pride, or arrogance?

Sad, sad, sad. 

* * * * * * * * *

"This is the first time I've ever heard of, that a school bully was actually held responsible for his actions years later," the Brick mused.

I was thinking about this while rereading Be Good: The Ethics of Everything by Randy Cohen. Cohen wrote "The Ethicist" column for 12 years for the New York Times Magazine, answering questions on everything from barking dogs to home foreclosures. This book is full of them, sorted out into categories ranging from 'Community' to (of course) 'Love & Sex.' It's a great bathroom read, with plenty of short sections you can absorb -- then come back to later.

Cohen was also one of David Letterman's comedy writers, and points out that the sex scandal Letterman found himself embroiled in not only was fueled by 'willing partners,' but Letterman himself 'fessed up to it. (Are you paying attention, Harvey Weinstein?) However:

"...the ability to apologize eloquently does not mean that the regretted conduct never occurred, nor does it place that conduct beyond discussion.
     "And it must be noted that Dave's genuinely impressive candor was exhibited only after he got caught."

Needless to say, Mr. Cohen has had his share of angry people confronting him:

"For the first few years of the column, I tended to respond in kind... When I received a particularly hateful screed... I would think, You call that vicious? It's amateur work. I am a trained professional; I can compose something a hundred times more venomous. And I would.

    " Parents and teachers tell us that we'll feel bad if we respond brutally to someone who is brutal to us. It's not true. When I sent one of my tormenters a savage response, I felt great. It is a pleasure to thrash a bully. (And by 'bully,' I mean anyone who is unkind to me.) But it is an ineffectual pleasure, one that solidifies disagreement, makes enduring enemies, changes nobody's thinking... And so eventually I forsook the pleasures of the punch-up for another strategy: a soft answer turneth away wrath (Proverbs 15:1). 
    " Turns out, it doth. 
    " I began ignoring the tone of even the angriest e-mails and responding courteously to the sense of it. Just as an experiment. Often, even the author of a barbarous e-mail would then reply politely. Sometimes he'd apologize for his initial intemperance. My first, unworthy, thought, I'd hit upon a cunning way to make my tormenter feel guilty while I seized the moral high ground. Brilliant!
    " My second thought was to recall that Lincoln had invoked something similar in March of 1861, in his First Inaugural Address, in regard to a vastly graver conflict, urging 'Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection,' and appealing to 'the better angels of our nature.'"

" Even for something as modest as an e-mail argument, that's excellent advice."

Superintendent Hindt, were you listening?  Apparently not.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Monday Stuff On the Way to Other Stuff: Tying Up Loose Ends

     That's what we get for cancelling a planned camping/peaches trip to Palisade: we get more work done. 
     It doesn't make it fun, though.
    Instead of buying our peaches at the source, I got them from Safeway. But the price can't be beat: 97 cents a pound. Some will go in the freezer, some to the girlies...and we'll just have to eat the rest. (Oh, the burden of responsibility -- grin.)
     Slightly cooler weather helps. So does a little more rain. The Brick has been busy working on the trailer ($500-600 in repairs...whoopee), and cleaning out/repairing a couple of sewing machines for a friend. What a guy. 

The art of sensible consumption.  (From Thrifty Mom in Boise)

British frugal food -- from the Skint Foodie. We Americans have to figure out some of the words, like 'pulses' (peas, beans and the like) or 'pouting' ("a cheaper fish"). Interesting, nonetheless.

Fired for farting -- a lot! And keeping up with the "Department of Weird:"

Engaged to a chandelier.  One wonders where the honeymoon will be...

Ten weird plane accidents and incidents.  (From Listverse) Also from them:

Ten strange anatomical curiosities(WARNING: This includes some Very Gross Stuff, including a huge colon. Ewwww....) And:

Ten ancient book/writing developments discovered recently. Including a diary kept by a frustrated 19th century carpenter -- written on the underside of floorboards in his attic!

50 close calls -- documented by photos taken at the last moment.

Parents who got the last laugh.  A very funny slideshow -- especially if you're a parent. (Sorry, Girlies.)

Fifteen moneysaving actions that turned better this way. (From The Simple Dollar)

An old-time account of Mocha Dick -- the real-life counterpart of Moby Dick, Herman Melville's huge white whale.

From the Department of "I'll Never Look At Them The Same Again" comes this odd tale: after employees notice a bad smell,  a man's body is found inside a supermarket's 'stone-faced' entry column. (The link will explain.) Wacky... from California, naturally. (California readers, please don't hurt me.)

Meanwhile, Kathy Griffin shows her usual class and dignity, commenting on the recent Manafort case. I have no idea what going topless has to do with it, but hey...

Why Aretha Franklin always demanded to be paid in cash.  It's a good reason, too. When it came to her music, this amazing singer certainly wasn't:

She will be missed.

If you're curious, listen to an interview with Peter Malkin, one of the group who captured Adolph Eichmann.

Have a good week.

Mom Truths

Or eating stuff off the floor. (The 30-second rule DOES apply.)

...or candy bars...

And finally:

Friday, August 24, 2018

Frugal Hits & Misses: August Report

      It's hard to believe, but I've been writing this feature more than two years! The first Hits & Misses report was for July 2016.

August and September have some unsettling anniversaries for us. We still deal with feelings and memories from events that happened three years ago. Those took a long time to heal. Every time certain dates come up, I have a shiver of apprehension that I must shove back in the closet. After all, it's over -- and has been, for years.
      Thankfully those events are now scars, instead of scabs.
The Brick was still dealing with health issues when August began. Thankfully, those are just scars, as well! He is much better, thank God -- and I mean that literally.

I just heard from a friend, though, who is going through a similar situation at her job -- and enduring much right now. I can do nothing on her behalf.. I try to encourage her -- "This too will pass" -- but remember the pain and frustration all too well. I wish I could do more. 

     On the plus side: some work jobs have helped pay the bills, and even put a little back into savings. (September should be even better.) The Book is actively in production, and more speaking offers are coming in. The temperatures jump between cooler and warmer, and my favorite season is on its way. 
     Welcome, Fall.


A little early, but there you go.

*Caught up on Detectorists -- this is still one of my favorite series -- quiet, low-key, but extremely memorable. Ordered a copy (marked WAY down) on Amazon for us.

*Finished watching Longmire (again). We both love this Western 'cowboys and Indians' series... only wish it hadn't stopped. Also caught up on Shetland; waiting for some other shows to finish up their latest season, so we can start watching them again. It's no fun waiting, but watching these in a chunk, rather than piecemeal,  makes a lot more sense.

*Twenty cents discount/gallon on a diesel fillup for the truck. It was practically on empty.

*Ordered flowers (in a vase) and chocolates delivered for our aunt's 90th birthday -- for $16, thanks to a Groupon purchased some time ago! The Mama also got a dozen roses for her birthday, at a much-reduced price. Love those Groupons. If you haven't tried them, go here. (It doesn't cost a cent to sign up. Disclosure: I do get a small discount if you do.)

*Food savings:  Bacon for less than $3.00/lb -- and it was the custom stuff.
        Red peppers: 3 for a buck. Five pounds of baby carrots for $5. Mild onions: 3 lb/$1.
        Still working away on a large bag of zucchini given to us by a friend.
    Chose not to buy some items on sale -- like BOGO lobster tails. (Bought 99-cent/lb country ribs with the money, instead.)
     Stretched out the period between necessary purchases -- like milk. (We currently have a few tablespoons in the fridge -- enough for coffee. Time to head to the grocery store.)

*Didn't make a trip to Palisade to buy peaches, after all. (I'm sorry we had to forego our previously-annual jaunt -- but it couldn't be helped.) Saved on gas, meals -- and bought peaches at home for as much (or less) than what we would have spent: 97 cents/lb.

*Free tickets to Operation Finale -- saw it, along with friends. (The theater had gratis popcorn and soda -- an extra bonus!)  A terrific, nerve-wracking show about the capture of Adolph should see it.

*Two sample boxes  (yay, items for Christmas stockings!), including a coupon for a free bottle of mayo.

*Cleared out the refrigerator. Got rid of smelly stuff (much of it left over when the Brick was in hospital -- or couldn't eat that food), and found what we had that was edible. That way, I won't waste what's left...and get an easier to use fridge.
     Cleaning out the house shelves is having the same effect -- I'm finding various presents, books, etc. that I put away 'in a safe place' ages ago. No money yet, though, darn it.

*Sold a Crazy Quilts book, plus two on Amazon.

*Made dinner (and supper) at home several times, when I didn't feel like it. We really haven't gone out to eat much, except for work.

*Worked the Cheyenne gig. We were careful on food purchases; the main splurge was two trips to Goodwill.

*The Brick made several repairs, including some electrical work and water systems on the trailer.

*Fifteen for $15 -- Goodwill. Three pairs of shorts, and a bunch of tank tops for myself and the girlies. Plus some shirts*, a toy pirate ship ($3) -- for Blayde, one of my piano students -- and a teakettle shaped like a cat! (That one cost $6.)
     *The Brick tells me that one of those shirts was specially designed for 'carrying.' It has inside pockets and lined sections that make it comfortable, yet easy to transport. (And unobtrusive).Shirt value: $50-60. We paid $3.

*Some really nice kids books and videos: 50 cents and $2 each from the library's used book room. These will be Christmas presents and prizes for piano students and young relatives.

*A last-minute catsitting job. (A neighbor mowed our lawn, after I took care of their dogs and fish. Thanks so much, Betty.)

*Began teaching piano again - a new adult student.  My kiddoes won't start up until October...which, with my work schedule for fall, actually works better.


These have been minimal, considering.

*Multiple trips to the airport for friends and family: we are thinking of naming ourselves the Brick Taxi Service! The tab currently stands at 7 for a three-week period...with another for yours truly scheduled in a week or so.

*A TON of medical bills to pay. We'll chip away at these, a little at a time.

*Bought a TV we didn't really need...but it's a smaller size, with updated features, that will work better in the trailer. (Our current TV will go to Daughter #1.) Got a similar TV for The Mama, whose elderly model bit the dust a few weeks ago.
      The Brick found them on deep discount...which is really a frugal hit, as well.

*Repairs for the trailer. These are necessary; my teaching and judging gigs will help pay for them.

*The Outback's still up for sale. Daughter #1 will be refurbishing her Jeep, instead...but needed to borrow the Subaru while her car was in the shop. Anyone interested in a good car?

*Missed out on a few small opportunities -- by not returning a book on time (a few days overdue) and having King Soopers/Safeway freebies expire before I got to the grocery store next. (See above.) Nothing big, though, for this dedicated Hollander.

Check out last month's report by clicking here. You can compare this year with last, as well,  clicking here. These reports have kept me honest -- because I know I'll have to admit them to you!

Shrine Pass near Vail -- thanks, Pinterest

Thursday, August 23, 2018

The Party's Over, Hooray! (Part II) and Other Bits and Pieces Updates

These didn't make enough for a full post, until I stitched them together.

The Brick:  He's doing much better, thank you. I can tell because he's back to some of his favorite activities:  tinkering, lists, vitamins (in various combinations), spending hours on the computer reading/listening to political opinions, trends and agendas.  And talking to me -- whoo hoo!
     Before, he was in pain, taking heavy meds, doing a lot of sleeping and staring listlessly at the tv...but not really seeing it. I'll take his normal behavior anytime.

The party's over:  Cousin Joy sent me photos of the balloon aftermath from The Mama's birthday surprise. What goes up must come down...


...and not.
A big difference from her birthday last year.  At least she's cheerful about it.

Trailer house:  It's not happening anytime soon. The trailer's support legs aren't lowering properly, which means we won't be going anywhere until the Brick figures out how to fix them. That may mean that our annual trip to Palisade for peaches is out... not sure yet.
    Complicating matters are the facts that the peach crop was early, not that bountiful, anyways -- and I have to start traveling for work again in about a week.
     Maybe we'll make a quick trip, but stay at a hotel. Which means Charley and Ruby have to stay home. At least we don't have to worry about the chickens anymore.

     P.S. We decided to stay home, after all. Maybe not the fun thing to do -- but the right one.

Or a handful of Tostitos...

House party:  I've done some toward packing the trailer and un-packing the house...but need to do more.  A number of appraisals need to be finished up first, though... before I'm back on the road.
     And the Brick feels completely well.
     And we have the time to put toward it.
     And some other important developments don't take precedence.
    Sometimes this feels like a vicious circle.

On the plus side, some of our piles are gone -- put away. The dishes are done, clothes washed and clean sheets are on the bed. All good things.

Hooray! (Part II):  Christian Dior not only has one Crazy-patched skirt, but an entire group of patchwork clothing pieces. Some look modern-pieced from recent fabrics...which I don't mind so much. Clothing from pieced yardage has been happening for decades... sadly, clothing from finished quilts has been done regularly, too.
     A Facebook reader suggested that the skirt in question was printed fabric, rather than the real thing. I wrote Christian Dior's customer service to ask, but after a week, haven't heard a word back. That says -- at least to me -- that most probably, an antique quilt gave up its life to parade around on a model's backside.

Charley Bear and the limp: Somehow, while we were gone for the day, Sir Charles managed to twist his hind leg. Although he doesn't yipe when I rub it (a good sign nothing's broken), he definitely favors it when moving around. The daily competition for the back door means that Ruby not only wins -- she deliberately crashes into him, just to show who's boss.
     I still have trouble with one knee. That happened because Charley decided to leap onto it, lap puppy-style. So now he limps, too... ironic, huh?
     He does seem to be getting slowly better, but it's difficult. After all, he has to use that leg to go out and do his business. I am hoping it doesn't develop into the hip problems large breeds are prone to.
     Thank God allergies seem to be easing up around here. Charley, the Brick and yours truly have been just miserable, dealing with them. 

P.S. Woke up to misery -- the allergies, combined with smoke in the air from wildfires, are extra-bad. Oh goody. I just need to wait it out.

Charley and Rubes (she hates photos)

These coming weeks will be busy ones... just not yet. Not too bad, anyways. Coming soon, I'll be at the:

Heartland Quilters Guild   North Platte, NE   Sept. 6 Lecture: "Good, Better, Best"   
     (a lecture on how to recognize quality -- and make your good quilt even better!)

Silver Threads 8th Quilt Guild Show  Creede, CO  Sept. 14-16 -- 
    The only show on the continent held in a real underground mine! 
     (I'll be judging on the 13th, but my colleague Donna Skvarla will be offering appraisals during that period. E-mail her at for info.)

Higher Ground Fair and Quilt Show  Laramie, WY  Sept. 22-23 -- 
    I'll be judging on the 21st, but teaching 'Crazy Painting' and available for appraisals, as well -- info is on the show site, or contact me at the Brickworks website.

Life goes on...God is good. All the time.

Eight Things I Learned from the Australians

For months now, Gentle Readers, I've been meaning to give you the scoop --

What I learned from hanging out with 21 Australian quilters. 

We toured together for much of April 2018, visiting Nashville (and a backstage tour of the Grand Ole Opry), Paducah (for the American Quilters Society show and museum); Branson (where we rode the ill-fated Ducks, site of that recent accident), Hamilton, MO (for the Missouri Star Quilt Co.); Jamesport, MO (for a visit to the Amish/Mennonite community there--a place I'd visited often with my mother-in-law); and Kansas City, for their flight home.

     And a bunch of quilt shops and pitstops in between. 

Delma, analyzing Amish transportation options

What this gave me was a 24/7 period to observe what 'my' Aussies were like. In many ways, they were very much like Americans -- particularly American quilters. Both have an undiluted enthusiasm for fabric, patterns and SALES that are difficult to slow down. (I finally saw less interest the last day at the very last fabric shop. Yes, it took that long for ennui to happen.)
     They have a great deal of knowledge, and interest in learning more -- particularly about us oddball Americans, who talk too fast, know little about our country, and, in their opinion, do some strange stuff.

Here's what I noticed about our Aussie friends:

*They are remarkably friendly. Within minutes of visiting any store, the shopkeeper was chatting away with these openhearted, smiling ladies. They made it easy by telling anyone within earshot who they were, and why they were there. Contrast this to Americans' habits of quietly sneaking in, grabbing what's needed, and sneaking out... or holding your tongue at programs and presentations, scared you were going to make a fool out of yourself.
        The Aussies honestly didn't care. And they came across as who they are: warm, friendly and interested. I was amazed at the many strangers who stopped to talk to them -- in the shops, on tours, in the restaurants, wherever. ("I love your accent" was a frequent comment.) At show intermissions, celebrities were more than happy to chat a while and have their photos taken with 'my' ladies -- who loved it, too.

Part of the group, at trip's beginning. They look fresh and perky, don't they?
(They had 'matching' polo shirts -- in different colors.)

*They don't mind standing in lines. ("Queues," they call it.) This drives me absolutely nuts, after a few minutes -- particularly if I see someone cutting in line ahead of me. The Aussies were much more patient. From what I observed, particularly in lines at the cash register, this is time to:
       Talk to the next person (and check out her purchases - should you get some more?)
       Ask lots of questions (to the tour guide or shopkeeper)
       Double-check one's items, 
       Analyze not only what just happened -- but start planning what's next (in the case of events)

Dogwood blooming in Paducah, KY

*Their approach to food is different. One example: biscuits and gravy. Our hotels, without exception, offered this in the mornings. And Americans took advantage of it. But Aussies steered clear every time, like it was the plague. Since "biscuits" to the Australians are actually cookies, they were suspicious, to begin with. (They referred to our biscuits as 'scones,' but really, they're not.) And pour GRAVY over them? Ewww...

     Another abomination was tea. The Paducah eating spots around the show offered it iced and sweetened. (Northern-bred me was careful to skirt that horror: you only drink it straight!) If you wanted a hot drink, there was coffee. Maybe hot chocolate, as well, if you were lucky.
     My buddies wanted tea, all right -- but hot and strong, with plenty of sugar and milk. (Iced? Ridiculous.) And they wanted it midmorning with a baked something, as a 'coffee break.' (Though they did form an attachment to funnel cakes and other American goodies.)
     The hotels we stopped at generally had displays of coffee, teabags/hot water and often fresh-baked cookies. Every night, I watched the ladies make a rush for these. (I did, too -- I had a lot of work to do on The Book, which kept me up.)
     So you drink coffee at night... and tea during the day? Or just tea, all the time? I saw both variations.

*Ditto for restaurants. For one, they don't have access to the fast food chains we know so well, with the exception of Subway... and a few others. (For the record, nearly all of 'my' ladies came from Adelaide; one was from Sydney. I'm not sure if location plays into this.)  They viewed our entrees as huge, including buffets, in general. How in the world could you eat so much? (I see their point, particularly when doggie bags are a difficult option.) Sit-down restaurants weren't meant for gobbling down and rushing off; they were meant to be savored, particularly at meal's end. (I especially enjoyed this, talking while lingering over that last bite of dessert and cup of... you-know.)

     "How can you be so specific?" Listening to Americans use phrases like 'no mustard - and hold the pickles' seemed odd to them. You take what you're given, and adapt it yourself. (Or, as The Mama would say, 'Shut up and eat.') Since going out to eat often meant sandwiches to them, perhaps accompanied by "crisps" (potato chips) or "chips" (fries), this was important.

     'On the side' was a foreign concept -- and presumptuous, at that.

     Tips -- how much do you give? Apparently in Australia, you don't tip the waiter. I'm guessing you don't tip anybody, quite frankly. From what I was told, waitstaff make a heck of a lot more money, to begin with.
     Does this mean Americans have their hands out more often, for good service? I would guess yes. On the negative side, the Aussies, out of their zeal to be fair, often overtipped, as a result.

*They're Brits -- and yet they're not. Their accents often struck me as British Empire. (Although I'm certain they would argue with this.) Many of the words used (like "loo" for bathroom, for instance) were familiar, in this respect. I would occasionally have trouble understanding if they spoke quickly or used too many terms foreign to me. (I noticed they had the same problem if I went off on a tangent... except for quilting phrases. The one exception was "batting," which is "wadding" to them.)
     They have a relationship with the Queen and her royal family that seems reverent, compared to our rapscallion approach. Although the Queen doesn't visit often (her last visit was in 2011), her family members occasionally do -- including a planned upcoming trip by Prince Harry and his wife. 
     Probe deeper, however, and you find something fascinating. They enjoy having royalty visit, and don't mind listening to what they say. But at least to the girls I spent time with, they don't take them that seriously. ('After all,' one girl told me, 'we don't have to pay for them.')
     The people were mostly British once. (Scots, the Welsh and the Irish would argue with me about that!) Many stepped onto the shores of 'the colonies' from convict ships sent by the British. It became a badge of honor -- listen at 1:30, then again at 7;30, to reinforce this:

They're not Brits now, though. (This makes me wonder how much Canadians have changed from their origins, as well. A lot, I'm guessing.) They have their own way of doing things, including government. Which brings us to:

*They're used to a lot more political instability. When the head of government changes, so does the party in charge. And that can happen, based on a single vote. From one long afternoon of talking politics, I was told that the government had changed hands more than five times in the past seven-plus years. Totally normal!
     My friends, on the other hand, were mystified by President Trump. Why in the world did he get elected, in the first place? More questioning on this subject made it clear that they were only hearing viewpoints from people and sources who didn't like Trump. They certainly hadn't thought about the implications of millions of people voting for him...or the reasons why voters would do that. (Besides sheer stupidity or sheepheaded-ness attributed to those voters by some sources, that is.)
     This all made for fascinating talk on a long, hot afternoon, eating ice cream under a large umbrella. If someone tells you that you shouldn't discuss religion, sex or it, anyways!

*They're puzzled by our patriotism.  Branson was hip-deep in salutes to veterans, "I-love-America" music and red, white and blue bunting. (The Ducks ride even included a mini-tour of military equipment, war listings and accompanying music.) The Aussies listened to and viewed all of this politely, but showed little enthusiasm for it.
     "Why are you celebrating war?" one person asked me. I honestly hadn't thought about it this way. Patriotic displays can be propaganda, sure -- they've certainly been used to promote and camouflage conflicts that Americans themselves have been conflicted about. I had always considered recognizing our military as showing respect for soldiers and their sacrifices to keep America free. (And, since that includes free speech, arguing, as well, I suppose.)
     The Australians didn't see it that way, at all. 

     They did commemorate their version of our Memorial Day while they were in the States. It was mentioned a few times...but at no time did they discuss this in great detail, except to say that any celebrations were low-key, with minimal fuss.
     They didn't buy any Fourth of July fabrics, either.

*They assume (or used to) that regions and populations in the U.S. were 'all alike.' Our bus driver was a native Kentuckian, who knew the swooping hills and greenery well. I, a native Michigander turned Coloradoan, on the other hand, love the Southwest's wide-open views, golden plains and snowy mountains. Plenty of water was available wherever we went on the tour -- but I hadn't seen rain for weeks at home. It was easy for the Australians to generalize that other parts of the country were similar to the areas we were heading through. (A few, like the lady who frequently traveled to New York City, knew differently.)
     It was an education for our driver, too. "Must you stop at every quilt shop?" he often said. (Gary, you don't know quilters...)

Gary Faulkner, our driver, with his wife Pat
     They'd forgotten that the United States is a massive, sprawling place, with such a mix of landscape, history and culture that you'd swear you were visiting countries, rather than counties. Stirring the Amish/Mennonite influence into the pot, so unlike many parts of the U.S., further expanded what they had to process.
     I hope we were good ambassadors for our country. We certainly tried to be. 

The Aussie viewpoint to all this is bound to be different. (I've read at least one version, already. Feel free to chime in, Aussie friends and Gentle Readers!)

     I had my own conclusions about Australia when I offered to lead this tour -- those were expanded and changed in just a short time, thanks to my new acquaintances. (Special thanks to my appraiser colleagues on the trip, who really opened my eyes to how other countries do this process.) They showed the same warm friendliness to me that they expressed to others. We shared breakdowns and problems, belly laughs and long discussions: sometimes trivial, sometimes important. They are talented, wise, thoughtful-- and best of all, multi-layered. I have so much more to learn and experience about them and their fascinating continent.

I had a great time, Dears. Let's do it again sometime.

From Broken Asphalt, via Etsy (and Pinterest)

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Monday Stuff On the Way to Other Stuff: Tired...But Home

Got back home from the Cheyenne gig late Sunday afternoon -- just in time to miss the crowd streaming into the Broncos game at Mile High. Blustery winds made the trip home, pulling the trailer, interesting. The Brick is an expert driver, though, so it wasn't bad. 

I love coming to Cheyenne for the Heritage Quilters show! These women have won my heart over the years, and I've grown very fond of them. 

Their quilts are wonderful, too. (You'll see some of these later in the week.)

Monday Stuff is a little sparse this time...but I promise I'll make it up to you.

Before and after moments of Pulitzer prizewinning photos.  (From EBaums World)

"Why we are not poor."  (From My Abundant Life)

Lemon butter -- six minutes in the microwave, and you've got this canny sister to lemon curd. Wonderful on toast and ini tarts. (From My Abundant Life)

A very cool (and easy) way to sew circles and curved seam designs...with coffee filters! (From Quilterwoman)

The Benjamin Harrison campaign quilt went for only $1200.  A real steal.

Food for a crowd -- 26 people.  (From Moneysaving Mom)

How you fish in British Columbia -- if you're a native.  (From Travel with Kevin and Ruth, who are currently driving through). Also:

Forest fires and a little-too-friendly visit from a bear.

More, after I unpack, do some wash and start getting last week's appraisal reports fleshed out. 

Have a great week yourself.

Update: Did the Broncos win? Naaahhhh...lost by one point to da Bears.

Thanks, Pinterest

Is Fall On Its Way?

     Just getting ready to leave for home... in our new home. 

We brought the trailer up to Cheyenne this week. I was working, and it was a perfect time to test-run the water systems. (Including die toiletten.) I am happy to report that, thanks to the Brick's hard work and repairs, everything ran just fine.
     He did discover that our sensors weren't operating properly. In other words, once tanks are (er) 'full,' we have no way of knowing it. That's next on the repair list, I guess.

He continues to feel better, though was wiped out yesterday. It was a long day for me, too -- but the Cheyenne guild people are now friends, as well as clients. Long days -- but productive ones. 

Blustery winds and rain have alternated with sun yesterday and today... it feels and looks like colder weather. We're staying at Sue and Marv's place, with a large hill looming out behind us, grass ruffling. Plains stretch out for miles in the other direction, with the lights of Cheyenne twinkling in the distance. 
      The winds are banging against the trailer, warning that more rain is on its way. Fall, are you coming early this year? 

A little gloomy out, too...

Geese have already begun migrating...and I haven't heard much from our local hummingbirds. They generally leave around Labor Day, so that's early, too. 

I haven't seen our main harbinger of fall yet -- the green chili vendors who start roasting their wares on Federal in Denver. Once that warm, flavorful smell hits, you know that autumn is here.