Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Enough is enough…


Import 5_2012 138Let me preface this post with a brief bit of information about what has been happening around our place. Our lives can only be described as rather chaotic for the past five years, and today I’ll spare you the details. Chaos is not always a bad thing. In fact, chaos can be fun. However, there comes a point where it seems to take a toll on my mental condition which is somewhat questionable anyway. LOL …well, I have reached that point. I am determined to take drastic and necessary measures to reduce the bedlam in our lives and in our home. Two wonderful events recently, including a trip to Rhode Island and a 40th reunion, have left me refreshed and changed my perspective on the way we live our daily lives. I have previously posted about those fun events.

We have a beautiful 3400 square foot home, and right now we would probably qualify for the messiest house in which people actually function. I have never been nominated for the Better Homes and Gardens photo shoot, but I have also never found myself paralyzed from the suffocating feeling of reaching maximum capacity of stuff in my house. I have absorbed the remains of my mom’s moving from three different three bedroom homes and a small apartment (including my sweet mama), mixed with the 39 year collection that Mark and I have accumulated. As quilters I am sure you can all relate if you think just about your quilting stuff alone. Now multiply that by a full household times five. We have entirely too much stuff…

I have enlisted help from a wonderful friend, with whom I worked for a number of years at one of the major fabric retailers. Neither of us are speed demons, and this is not a race. We are familiar with the way the other thinks and works, and let me tell you we could accomplish some major work together at the fabric store. Nina happens to be one of those people with organizational skills that are somewhat different from mine. Obviously my skills in that area are lacking or have taken at least a five year vacation. And as Dr. Phil would say, “How’s that working for you?” It is not working well at all. Nina and I are tackling the unsightly issues of overcrowding and disorganization in my home. I promise to post before and after pictures on another day. This may seem unrelated to a quilting blog, but for me it is a huge aspect of quilting. I love the tranquility of quilting and the creative process makes me feel fulfilled and happy.  Attempting to find the peace that comes with the “hum purr” of my little sewing machine is harder in the midst of a monumental amount of stuff surrounding me. So just for a few days I am putting my quilting project on the back burner and seeking resolution to this pandemonium!

Last week Leah Day’s post about your storage options in the studio was intensely interesting. I enjoyed her sharing the detailed thought process that she goes through to determine the best option for her space. We all have our own way of decision making and different processing methods. Maybe because I taught school for years, I find myself fascinated by the thought process of others. Leah’s way of thinking has helped me to look at my own dilemma with new eyes. So please stop by again to find out where this wild and crazy ride leads me…

1973 Honeymooners


Sunday, October 21, 2012

Is this Hill Billy quilting or what?


hill billy machine

The last couple of times I have sat down to quilt, my machine has acted like a bad little girlie. So after following Leah Day’s advise, I went one by one through the list of possible problems. She came back to life and stitched a picture perfect stitch when I finished the list and sewed on regular two fold cotton fabric and used the straight stitch foot that I always use. Anyway, I am back in business and the darn thread keeps coming off the first hook. My conclusion was that the spool is getting lighter weight because of the amount of thread I have used, so like any good hill billy quilter who uses a straw to keep the thread from bouncing off the spindle, I decided to add some weight with a couple or three extra safety pins in my straw. Perfect solution!!! Works like a charm.

Now I know that Leah’s UFO on Sundays is all about finishing projects. I think I may hold a record for actually taking the longest time ever to quilt a single quilt, but I am still moving on at the rapid pace of a snail on Lovely Lou. So since this is my UFO, I am going to link up with her today. I have been pebbling after watching and learning from Leah’s tutorials on various pebbling styles as well as considering the input from other bloggers who took the time to comment,  and I cannot even begin to describe how much I have enjoyed this filler for this particular quilt. If you have followed any of my other posts you will know that this quilt is for my breathtakingly beautiful daughter, Amanda. As you may or may not know I decided to learn Free Motion Quilting with the help of Leah Day and other bloggers on this quilt, which is almost the size of Rhode Island—a king bedspread that will reach the floor and have plenty to tuck and cover the pillows.

Being the individual that I am, I like for there to be meaning in whatever I am doing. It’s kind of like when I see a person all tatted up, if they can explain to me why they chose the particular images that they have tattooed upon their bodies, I seem to be much more accepting and can appreciate the art value a bit more. If they just chose a random image, then I think they screwed up. It just has to have a personal meaning! Well, in that same way of thinking, I would like to have purpose for the stitches that I put into a quilt. These pebbles have a significance in our lives in that we have always collected rocks (or pebbles) from every where we have visited. My husband has a great eye for finding rocks and arrowheads and other cool items because he is always looking down when he walks.  I, on the other hand, have a few scars to prove that I am usually looking up when I walk. Amanda walked many miles with her daddy as a little girl, picking up rocks and learning about nature. Anyway in my view, the pebbles in this quilt put a bit of her daddy in here and represent the love between my husband and our daughter in some odd fashion. And that makes them particularly fun for me to quilt.

Below you will see that I started in the center of the quilt and failed to follow Leah’s sage advise by making small pebbles, but as I went along I adjusted the scale which resulted in better looking stitches. The block on the left with the tailor’s tack is the center of the quilt and the pebbled blocks are 2” squares.  Staying true to my word, I am not ripping out stiches unless I absolutely have to. That way at the end of the project, Amanda and I can sit and laugh at my first attempts and then appreciate my more developed skills. Regardless, she will love the quilt and so will I. 

 IMG_1238  IMG_1236   IMG_1242   IMG_1229

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Fun, fun, fun…quilting on hold!

You may think I have fallen off the side of the earth, but that is not the case! After attending my 40th (yikes) high school reunion, we came back by my daughter’s house and brought Mia, our granddaughter, home with us. Oh my, there is just nothing like being grandparents! The best part of being a retired MeeMaw is that I can put everything else on hold to play. She has been with us for almost two weeks, and today I will take her to meet her mom and dad. She has missed them, and they are certainly ready for Mia to come home.

We have had a blast, even though she is fighting tooth and nail for her independence. She likes to dress herself, and that’s okay with me. Sometimes her choices are a little odd, but I don’t care! Mia is 3 years and one month old, with just enough baby left in her that she likes to cuddle up with me at night to read her books. Sometimes, she will even let me still hold her while she drinks her Sippy cup. All sweet times for me, but I have to admit I so miss that little baby girl. How fun it is to watch her grow and become a little lady. She has a great imagination and is as smart as she can be. Today we measured and weighed her and marked it on a special wall in my house. She is 42 inches tall and weighs 40 pounds.Mia 42" tall and 40 lbs

Her PawPaw brought home an old motorized car for her; however, it has no motor or battery. Resourceful best describes my husband. So as you can see in the video below, a good time was had by all. Only one trip down and back up the driveway for MeeMaw and one for PawPaw—being that both of us are way out of shape and soft as marshmallows. We eventually tied the car onto Mia’s tricycle so that she could pull her stuffed toys around, and that stopped the whining for more rides. She has lots of energy and has enjoyed this silly, fun activity!

Mia’s having a great time! MeeMaw is exhausted!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Reflections …

Tumbleweed heads, Emma and Gina, at our 10th reunionThe small west Texas town of Monahans is known mostly for it’s sand hills, tumbleweeds and oil fields. And, that is where I traveled to for my 40th high school reunion last weekend. The town itself was never pretty, although some of my classmates found beauty in the sunflowers growing on those sand hills as they were leaving to return to their homes near and far. Just as most young people from small towns sprouting their wings, I was more than ready to leave that ugly little place as a new high school grad. I wanted to move on to college and live my life in some idealistic setting other than Monahans. 

Going back is not so uncommon for those of us who still have relatives there, but on this trip I experienced a  connection to my home town that had never existed before. As much as I tried to escape Monahans at the sage old age of 18, my roots were firmly planted there. My big brother and his sweet wife live in the house where we grew up. My father and one of my grandmothers are buried in the city cemetery. Years ago when I would return home I would visit the cemetery and every single time, I would be struck by grief and sadness for days. My sweet daddy died in April of my senior year in Monahans. At some point along the way, it occurred to me that my father would not have wanted me to be sad when I thought of him, so I stopped going to the cemetery. Last Saturday afternoon Mark and I went to the cemetery for the first time in about 30 years.  A peaceful calm prevailed.

Coincidently, as we walked through that cemetery, I noticed a couple of other cars had driven in, but I was deep in thought and holding tight to the fond memories of my father and beautiful grandmother. By the time my father passed into his Savior’s arms, I had fallen madly in love with the man of my dreams, the man that was standing beside me the day my father was buried in ‘72 and was walking beside me in the cemetery on this pleasant Saturday afternoon forty years later. Familiar family names appeared on grave after grave as we walked and talked and enjoyed the beautiful tributes that families had placed there in honor of the ones they had lost. Walking and talking has been our style for 43 years together. We, as with any couple, have had our own struggles over the years, but a strong and steady friendship has carried us to where we are today. We began our abiding camaraderie in Monahans. We were married there about a year after I graduated from high school. Mark had finished college and taught high school biology for a year before we tied the knot.

I don’t know how many attended the reunion, but it was a smashing success--a project spearheaded by a wonderful friend that had only recently returned to live in the community where we grew up and where her father still lives. Gina’s college majors were photography and journalism, skills put to good use for well over a year in planning and preparing for our grand event. During the weekend she took well over 1500 photographs and is now putting together a commemorative DVD for us. She made an incredible effort to contact every person that had ever attended school with us from our elementary days all the way through high school. She followed lead after lead to locate those who had moved away for they, too, had become links in the chain that connected us to one another. Yes, she had help from other class members and my frail thank you cannot express how deeply I appreciate their efforts to create this amazing event. However, Gina is the individual who envisioned what this reunion could mean to those of us who would attend. I will be always grateful for her big heart, her quick wit, her tenacious spirit and her remarkable commitment to bringing us all together once again to enjoy the enduring friendships that had developed when we were little kids. Gina, you gave each of us from the class of ‘72 a priceless gift of wonderful unforgettable memories.

We were a diverse group of rednecks, with common threads tying us together, taught by teachers who challenged us with exceptional intellectual rigor and hard working parents who set before us the example of good work ethic and family values. Our teachers and parents expected the best out of us. Many of our class have been astonishingly successful in their careers and happy in their lives. The class of ‘72 produced the owner of one of the largest oil consulting firms in the United States. From this group of small town kids several terrific ministers emerged. For the most part their ministries began while we were still in school. They lived their daily lives by the strength of their faith, not by preaching to us, but leading us by example. We have published authors, bankers, insurance agents, architects, designers, realtors  and numerous other honorable professions. Some of us became teachers, principals and other specialists in the field of education. Members of the class who chose to remain anonymous generously donated the funding for our entire reunion, including a fun pizza party after the football game Friday night and a wonderful prime rib dinner on Saturday evening catered by a landmark restaurant known as the best steakhouse throughout the vast area of west Texas. Most of us had eaten there on special occasions when we were in high school, and the meal served on Saturday evening most certainly lived up to the stellar reputation by which they are known. We received terrific goodie bags filled with tons of cool items to commemorate this special gathering of old friends. All, provided by the generosity of gracious members of our class who I hope will accept my sincere thank you and appreciation from all who attended this exceptional reunion. Not only career successes did we recognize, we were happy to see that many of us are still happily married to our high school sweethearts, including two couples who celebrated their 39th anniversary Saturday night at our reunion. It seems as though what our teachers and parents expected from us turned into exactly what happened!

We have lost a significant number of our classmates. Significant, in that each person lost was valued and sorely missed as we gathered to celebrate the 40th anniversary of our graduation. I suspect all of our classmates have suffered the loss of loved ones, whether they be children, parents, spouses, siblings or other members of our families.  Mark and I were remembering many of those folks that Saturday afternoon as we walked through the cemetery. As we got closer to the others who had arrived at the cemetery, one of my very best friends in school and his wife, also a member of our class and his high school sweetheart, came into view. Mike and I always had fun together and were reprimanded by a number of teachers who did not appreciate our warped senses of humor. Turns out, I married his cousin, the best decision that I ever made. I quickly recognized the other couple as one of Mike’s best buds in school and and his wife. John suffered the unbearable tragedy of losing a son and was there to visit his grave. I suppose other classmates found themselves at the cemetery sometime during the weekend.

As the reunion continued later into the evening, I heard time and again from classmates that in their most desperate hours of need one or more of the Monahans class of ‘72 had been there to support them during the most horrendous tragedies of life.  I am certain that had we all known of the losses, more would have been there for those individuals during their time of need. But as life goes, we had scattered like seeds in the wind so we were not all aware of the particular times each person was hurting. Last Saturday night in Monahans we reverently honored those that we have lost. We comforted one another privately and publicly. We cried, we laughed, we reconnected with values that we learned as children in this small west Texas town.

Looking back at that ugly little town in west Texas, I am proud to have come from Monahans with it’s sand hills, tumbleweeds and oil fields!

Dave and Darla, Mike and Jennie celebrating their years of wedded bliss.

Photographs courtesy of Regina Ray McGinnis