December 24, 2008

For those of you who still have Christmas spirit:

And for those who long ago lost theirs:

But for the child in all of us:

Happy holidays from our house to yours. And for those of you blessed to have a child with you this yule eve, cherish the moment.

(all pictures from

September 27, 2008

We were all lucky for having had Paul

I had the good fortune of living in Connecticut and was able to observe what a life well lived that was Paul Newman's. The two most influential men in my life, my father and husband have each instilled in me two of the guiding principles that were both beautifully represented in Mr. Newman.

My father always told me, "We are brought into this world to be stewards of it and each other, to leave it better than we found it."

And my darling husband reminds often: "I'd rather be lucky than good." "Never underestimate luck." And my personal favorite: "I was born under the grace, it was the luck of the draw."

Mr. Newman embodied both of these. He unquestionably left the world, and many of its people a better place. He sought to save the environment early, he was against war when many were rattling sabers. He help protect to bring joy to god's children as well as his creatures. But it always held in mind that he had got there were a great deal of luck and drew a pretty good hand.

In these days when we are constantly seeing examples of corporate greed and excess, he was an example of corporate good with his "Newman's Own".

He was the citizen of America and the world we can all be very proud of and should javascript:void(0)never forget that it was we who were the lucky ones to have had him among us.

Please take a moment and go to the Newman's Own website and leave a memorial message or better yet, make a donation to his beloved Hole in the Wall Gang children's charity.

Good bye, Mr. Newman

May 28, 2008

No Charger on the road

I got a note from Eileen at My Quilting Porch that I needed to write a post. Well, she is right. When I looked at my blog and saw it had been three months, I too was shocked at how long it had been.

I have no excuse, but I it has been a swirl of three months. My job working from home came to an abrupt end one week and two weeks later I was back in LA working. My DH stayed home so I had to find a temporary place to stay (I did, a stable in Palos Verdes with no dishwasher, washer or dryer and best of all stove. Darn, I have to eat out.) I get to go home every other weekend. And best of all, I get to sew. I have been, well actually I have been cutting. I have cut out three quilts, a schoolhouse block quilt from a collection of fat quarters I received for Christmas by Piece o cake. Love that Becky Goldsmith. She must be the perkiest grandmother on the planet.

And her stash is both perplexing and envious. It is smaller than mine, yet look at how many beautiful quilts she produces. And I am envious of how organized it is. Not only is it folded neatly and organized perfectly, which is all the rage of conversation on the quiltville group right now, which mine is not.

But back to the title of the post. My camera eats batteries. I have three which I keep charged because after a couple of pics the battery is a goner. Well, in my packing of all quilt essentials to come to Los Angeles, I did bring my camera and batteries, but no charger. And on my trips home, I have yet to remember to pick it up, so off to the store today to locate a Nikon battery. Wish me luck!

February 29, 2008

ruth's choice

Well it is another beautiful spring day here in the Sierras. The weatherman says we are experiencing April averages so thoughts of flowers and planting and my mom keep coming to mine. She had the kind of green thumb that could put two sticks together and a plant would grow and be blooming in a week. I did not inherit that gene but I try.

So flowers, especially pink flowers always bring my mother to mind. So I have started working on a quilt to remind me of her and her love of flowers. I have a prodigious stack of solid fabrics mostly inherited from her and am going to try to work as many of them in the quilt as possible.

Here is what I would like the quilt to look like although I will probably set it on point:

It is a combination of the Father's Choice and Home and Hearth block so I am calling it Ruth's choice because those yellow centers remind me of flowers and my Mom.

These are the fabrics I am using, yes there will be green flowers. I am using a Kona Black for the background. George has gallantly stepped in to show what the fabrics would look like on a black background. That purple, green and black will be the border and I am going to use the pink for the cornerstones.
While I was laying this out to photograph, I looked up and my yard art was looking back in my sewing room window.

I have got all the centers and background cut out and most of the dark solids. I am off to make a whole bunch of HST using triangles papers. then set the blocks together.

Happy leap year to everyone by the way. If any of you subscribe to Garrison Keillor's daily newsletter, "The Writer's Almanac" you have already seen this but I thought it was interesting to know the following about Leap Year from his post today:

"Today is Leap Day, the extra day that we tack on to February every four years to keep the calendar in time with the seasons. We do this because the Earth does not orbit the sun in a nice round 365 days, but rather in 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes, and 45 seconds.

Ancient peoples based their calendars on many things, from the movements of the stars to the activities of plants and animals. The Greek poet Hesiod told farmers to begin the harvest when the constellation Pleiades was rising and to begin plowing when it was setting, and to sharpen their farming tools when snails began climbing up plants. Most early calendars were based on the stages of the moon, with lunar months of about 29 days each. But the problem with the lunar calendar is that it's about 11 days short of the actual year, so instead of having to add a leap day every few years, you have to add a leap month. The Egyptians were one of the first civilizations to develop a calendar with 12 months and 365 days. When Julius Caesar rose to power, the Romans were using a calendar that was so faulty they often had to add an extra 80 days to the year. In 46 B.C., after his affair with Cleopatra, Caesar chose to adopt the superior Egyptian calendar, and this became known as the Julian calendar. In the first version of the Julian calendar, February had 29 days most years and 30 days in leap years. Caesar named the month of July after himself, so when Augustus came to power, he decided he needed a month too. He named August after himself, but he had to steal a day from February in order to make August as long as July.

The Julian calendar worked well for a while, but in the 13 century, a sick old friar named Roger Bacon sent a letter to the Pope. He had calculated the actual length of the solar year as slightly less than 365.25 days, and he pointed out that the Julian calendar was adding one leap day too many for every 125 years. The result was that Christians were celebrating holy days on the wrong dates. Bacon wrote, "The calendar is intolerable to all wisdom, the horror of astronomy, and a laughing-stock from a mathematician's point of view." Bacon was eventually imprisoned for implying that the pope had been fallible, and his writings were censored. It wasn't until 1582 that Pope Gregory XIII hired a group of Jesuits to fix the calendar, and they came up with the complicated system of omitting the leap day at the beginning of each century, except for those centuries divisible by 400. When Pope Gregory made the change, the calendar was about 10 days off, so Gregory deleted 10 days from the year. People went to sleep on Thursday, Oct. 4 and woke up on Friday, Oct. 15.

At first, the Gregorian calendar was only accepted in Catholic countries, and even there people were uncomfortable about losing 10 days of their lives. It led to protests and financial uncertainty, since people weren't sure how to calculate interest or taxes or rent for a 21-day month. Protestant countries didn't adopt the new calendar until much later, and this meant that for a long time, if you crossed the border of certain European countries, you had to set your clock back or forward by at least 10 days. When Great Britain finally accepted the Gregorian calendar in 1751, 11 days had to be deleted from the year. The change led to antipapal riots, because people believed the pope had shortened their lives. Mobs gathered in the streets, chanting, "Give us back our 11Publish Post days!" When the British colonies in America made the change the following year, Ben Franklin wrote in an editorial, "Be not astonished, nor look with scorn, dear reader, at ... the loss of so much time. ... What an indulgence is here, for those who love their pillow, to lie down in peace on the second [day] of this month and not awake till the morning of the fourteenth."

The Gregorian calendar has since been accepted everywhere as the standard. It is so accurate that we will have to wait until the year 4909 before our dates become out of step with the Earth's orbit by a full day."

Good sewing to you all, Mary

February 26, 2008

math challenged

Well this month is almost over so I better post something to make a feeble attempt at being a blogger. My excuse was a dead and unable to hold a re-charge camera battery. I sent off for two new ones. My camera is three years old, which according to the salesman at Best Buy makes if nearly from the Archean era. The new batteries do not seem to hold a charge either so I may have a camera ground issue. Another story.

This has been a month of travel and illness. I caught a cold while traveling for business which I have done three of the four weeks this month. While home on the weekend recuperating, my darling husband gave me the alternate version of the cold which he had caught from our handy man. So three weeks traveling and two weeks of cold do not add up to much quilting time.

I had grand plans of finishing two tops by the end of January. I only finished one and it was this month. I have to say as an person holding an undergraduate degree in Mathematics, it is embarrassing to subtract forty two from forty nine and get SIX. I needed to add another row to the green and purple top I had shown you here. It was six by seven blocks but to get it to fit a queen bed it needed another row to be square. I did the math in my head, made six more blocks, sewed them on and had the longest narrowest queen quilt you have ever seen.

One night when recovering from the cold, it came to me in a dream what I had done and I got up then and ripped off the too long row, made another block, sewed the row back on to the right side. I had the borders which are checkerboard, done long ago. I had used all those four patches as leaders and enders using Bonnie Hunter's principles. So the rest went together quickly.

It is off at the quilters now. I forgot to take a picture of the top before it left but will post one when it returns. Here is one before the borders, unpressed, nothing.

It is beginning to look like spring here. Daffodil leaves are beginning to show their heads, so I may have to do some spring garden clean up before much quilting gets done. Although I did notice a huge stack of Amish solids, I think an inheritance from my mother that I am toying with a pattern for. Something based on Home and Hearth or Fathers Choice. More soon.

Hopeful for spring, Mary

January 22, 2008

my winter smphony

To live content with small means;
to seek elegance,
rather than luxury,

and refinement,
rather than fashion;
to be worthy, not respectable,
and wealthy, not rich;

to study hard, think quietly,
talk gently, act frankly;
to listen to stars and birds,
to babes and sages,
with an open heart;
to bear all cheerfully,
do all bravely,

await occasions, hurry never.
In a word, to let the spiritual,
unbidden, and unconscious
grow up through the commonplace.

This is to be my symphony.

William Henry Channing

It seems like I have been on the road for this whole month. And the worst thing about being on the road is to be sick on the road. Why is it that the most wonderful bed and the finests linens in the world are no comfort compared to ones own bed at times like these.

A couple of days after I arrived home the snows came,and a get well card arrived in the mail with those lovely words from William Henry Channing hand written in them. My own bed, family, friends and inspiration. That is my symphony.

January 4, 2008

fabric is like rabbits

Eileen asked where was my New Year's post. Too much going on I guess. I have taken the New Year's plunge to bust that stash. Kim posted from Jennifer Chiaverini's new book The New Year's Quilt that '"Some people don't have your self-discipline," said Sylvia, smiling. "Some people need an important occasion to herald a time for change."' Well, I certainly have no self-discipline.

My sewing room is not quite in the condition of some others. One lady commented on my Yahoo group that she had to walk into hers sideways. LOL. But mine is close.

I have spent most of the past ten years working temporarily all over the country. I would take my sewing machine, basic quilting supplies and not much fabric because I already had so much. Who do I think I was fooling. I would get to a new place, visit the local quilt shop and buy a few things to make a quilt while I was there and a little extra. Well, the quilt never got made, the little extra never got used and it came back home and was stored.

Once I got a sewing room, I unpacked all of the fabric, cutting mats into one place and was overwhelmed at how much I have. Maybe fabric is like rabbits and just multiplies all over the place when we are not looking. I have already posted about my UFOs but that is pieces. Fabric is yardage and I have the yardage. I would take a picture, but my camera battery has fiven up the rechargable ghost.

So I am joining Judy Laquidara's challenge. I don't know if I will be able to post every Sunday in January. This is one of the month's I will be gone more than I am here but I have made the commitment. And keeping my word is very important.

I am off to Colorado Sunday but hope to post before then about a wonderful memory about my grandmother's and mother's hand quilting that came back to me as a result of a question from another quilter.

I hope you have a warm, safe day. We are projected to get two to five feet of snow in the next three days and wind gust to 50 miles per hour.