Merry Christmas everyone

Merry Christmas everyone
with the love of my life, George

What am I doing writing a blog?

Quilting is one of the few places in my life where all the corners meet and stay put. On this blog I plan to ruminate about quilting and life, the quilted life, cat and quilts, and any old thing that falls in and out of my brain. I'd be pleased to hear from you on all of this or any topic of interest!

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Monday, December 16, 2013

2013 - The Year of the Christmas Quilt #2 - GET THE DOT OUTTA HERE

With the original quilt pattern name of "Freeze Frame," this little beauty, one of the smallest of the fifteen quilts, is made of all polka dots, including the white on white dots. I love polka dots, they just make me happy. Only the black fabric is a solid. A really quick and easy top to sew together and not too difficult to quilt either. It does have alot of corners to match and all of the corner that involve stripes are hand mitered. Come to think of it, I hand mitered all fifteen quilts in the borders at least and some even in the blockwork. That's alot of hand sewing. My friend, Phyllis Riddle who took this ride with me, watching each quilt develop from idea in my pointed little head to actual physical thing, liked this quilt best. Here she is taking pictures for me in November after they were all done. It was my grandson Wyatt Zachary Osborn who ended up with this one. His parents, Jamie and Jeff chose it for him of course. Jamie told me she selected this one because she thought it would grow with him and I think it is perfect for year round use because there is really nothing on it that is too Christmasy! and here is the boy, lovin' on his quilt from his Grammy! This quilt called several person's name when we gave them away on Thanksgiving night so I guess it was a good thing that we had numbers assigned. I found out later my sister, Bev really wanted it because she like the color I call "Electric Lime" in it and a few other of the quilts. One of my favorite colors too! Now here are a bunch of pictures of the quilt: Last but not least, here is the grandson and I amid all of Becky's beautiful quilt bags. Life is good!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

2013 - The Year of the Christmas Quilt #1 - YOU CAN KEEP YOUR HAT ON

This is the quilt that started it all. I purchased the fabric in Dallas, Texas while I was there with daughter Becky, who lives there and daughter, Jamie, who was pregnant with my first grandchild. We were all together to help Becky pick out her wedding dress for the May 2011 big event. I had volunteered to make some baby items for Jamie and so we were looking at fabric as well as other scrapbooking stuff. I don't remember if it was before or after Christmas but this adorable Santa fabric caught my eye. The Santas had different hat bands and one of them was leopard animal print. So in December 2012, I start working on this quilt, thinking it is for Wyatt, and somewhere along the way, I decide to made a Christmas quilt for every member of my birth family in the year 2013. A little background. George, my loving spouse, had just received a book contract with Stanford University Press to translate a work of Frederick Nietzsche from German to English and had been granted a sabbatical for school year 2012-13 to work on the project. I reasoned that he would be very busy and I would need a project to keep me out of his hair. Thus the quilt project was born. Originally, I was going to do 12 quilts but somewhere along the line, it blossomed into 15. The three extra were added for Dean, my great nephew, Mark and Pam, my daughters' father and his wife and one for me. My plan for action was to make all of the tops first and then come back to do the pinning, quilting and dedications. This plan worked out beautifully but led to some interesting decisions along the way. For instance, I was almost out of matching fabric for this quilt by the time it was time to quilt so I had to get creative with the back by piecing together all the remaining fabric and adding a solid red to make the back big enough. I think it worked! While making the quilts, sometimes I had an idea who it would be for and other times I had no clue. All along, I thought this quilt would be for Wyatt but as it turns out, Jamie did not remember that I was buying the fabric for my first grandchild's Christmas quilt so it did not resonate with her. Everyone was allowed to pick their own quilt and Jamie and Jeff chose another for Wyatt (more on that later) so home with me came YOU CAN KEEP YOUR HAT ON. Why does it have such a provocative name you may ask? Well, the traditional quilt pattern name is Working Girl. I do not know why but that title combined with the hatbands sparked the song "You Can Keep Your Hat On" by Joe Cocker and it just stuck. I tried to give each of the quilts distinctive names, just like works of art. Does this mean I am finally comfortable with the description of "artist" for myself and what I do? Quite possibly. The plan was that the project would be totally secret until the holiday season 2013. Originally, I was going to ship them all to the recipient (I would have chosen which quilt I thought was best for them) on December 1, 2013 so that they would all have them for the holiday season. Once we knew we would be going to the Chicago suburbs to be with most of the family for Thanksgiving, the plans changed. Taking them then would save me lots of shipping charges and I would be guarenteed they arrived in the right hands. One other big change occurred about September. All year long, two family members were constantly asking me what I was working on, what quilt project was in progress. They were my mother Ramona and my youngest daughter, Becky. It is important to note that Becky made her first quilt during this time (and has since made several more) so we were talking alot. I even visited her in June to help put that quilt together and still kept the secret. My mother and my oldest daughter's family visited in August and the quilts were tucked out of sight. So when Ramona asked, I just changed the subject or told her I could not tell her. It was a bit harder with Becky. Finally in September, while working on a particular tricking part of one quilt, I told her all about it. Earned me a "you are awesome, Mom" and a partner in the enterprise. When I told Becky part of the plan was to use up the huge stash of Christmas material I had, and that I still had a great deal left, she suggested we make matching quilt bags for each quilt. I told her I would be lucky to get the quilts done so she immediately volunteered to make them. What.a.girl! As you can see, each bag says the name of the project on the top line "2013 - The Year of the Christmas Quilt" and the name of the quilt on the second line, in this case, "You Can Keep Your Hat On." Becky came to Pennsylvania one weekend and we created 7 of the 15 bags. She finished the last eight lickedy split at home in Plano, Texas. What a sweetheart. She also became my partner in deciding how we would distribute the quilts. It was determined that each would pick their own in this order: Becky first as she was my partner and accomplice, Jamie and Jeff second, Wyatt third, and then the rest of the Long family in order of oldest to youngest: Mom and Dad Long, Bev and Bob Mitchum, Denise and Marty Hauser, Rob and Laura Mitchum, Angie and Zach Sharp, Dean Mitchum and then last but not least, Mark and Pam Allmendinger. The remaining five quilts would be sent to the four California families and one went home with me. The last requirement of the project was that each family would send me a digital photo of themselves with the quilt. To that end, here we are with "You Can Keep Your Hat On," with, of course, our hats on! And then without.... Last but not least, in keep with my tradition to keep the quilt's story with the quilt, I put dedications on the quilts along with my signature. As the dedications were made before the recipient was known, it read "To my family with love." After the quilt was chosen, Becky, Pam and I sewed on the pre-made ownership tags. Here is the dedication square for "You Can Keep Your Hat On." I have yet to make my own name tag! Maybe it will get done this month, but then again, maybe not. I am currently on Quilt Hiatus! Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Dark No More

For those of you who have followed this blog in the past, you will have noted that I was not doing any posting since February this year and possibly, you thought I was not quilting. Well, the secret is out and now I can let you all in on it. I have been quilting my little brain out and my fingers to the bone. I challenged myself this year to make 15 Christmas quilts in one year and I made it. I started last December 2012 and finished them in time to give them away to my birth family on Thanksgiving Day 2013. Over the next few weeks, I will share them with you but you can also follow the entire project on my blog on the American Quilters Society page. Here is the link: The AQS got into the project as well and posted three articles about me, the project and the progress of same. Here is the link for the last article which references all three articles: So let's get to it. I will start with some pictures when the project was completely finished and then show you each quilt in subsequent posts. I have asked all my family members to send me pictures of themselves with the quilt they chose or were given - the folks who weren't at Thanksgiving were sent their quilts the next day. About half have complied. The rest of you, and you know who you are, get on it! Now some pictures of the completed quilts before they went out the door. Merry Christmas everyone!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

A toast for my Father's 80th birthday

A TOAST ON THE OCCASION OF MY FATHER’S 80TH BIRTHDAY –FEBRUARY 5, 2013 Who said: “Boys are like buses, there will be another one by in 10 minutes.” MY DAD. Who said: “God is not mocked.” MY DAD. (and neither was Dad). Who said: “You reap what you sow” (which I thought he meant “sew” and so I became a quilter) MY DAD. Who sang the soundtrack from “Student Prince” around the house? MY DAD. Who waxed his car every Memorial Day listening to the Indy 500 while I sat in the back seat reading my book? MY DAD. Who said, “I think you are a little young to get married, Virginia” but gave me a lovely wedding anyway. MY DAD (and he was right but no regrets here; that marriage gave me my two lovely daughters). Who had a copy of “Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about Sex but Were Afraid to Ask” in a drawer in the kitchen by the phone? Believe it or not, MY DAD. In response to my sisters’ and my broken romances, who said: “There’s plenty of fish in the sea.” Yep, MY DAD. Who beat the preacher regularly at ping-pong? MY CHAMPIONSHIP DAD. Who tried and succeeded in convincing us that hot dogs were really tube steaks? MY DAD. Nice economizing trick, Dad, but we now know better. No fooling us any more, we will have the prime rib, thank you very much. When my sister Bev got her first car, a mint green Rambler, who constantly intoned, “Check the oil.” DAD. And Bev, I want to take this opportunity to tell you how impressed I was with your knowledge of that car, a STANDARD transmission and you knew how to pop the clutch, whatever that means. Who is the best looking guy in a fishing boat? MY DAD, of course. We always thought he looked like Perry Como. Who was forgiving when I sideswiped a car going down 7th Street hill to Wilson’s gas station (and didn’t realize it til the insurance agent called?) Who took me with him, all excited, to Wilson’s Filling Station because there was a 26 cent gas war on? He made it seem like such a special occasion! Who was understanding when Mom backed the car into the back porch or when one of us backed the car out of the garage with the passenger door open? DAD, of course. Who said “Ask your mother.” More than once. Many times. Countless times. You guessed it, MY DAD. Who put me up on water skis, instructed my sister to make sure I was upright and then gunned the boat without checking that I was still above water? DAD Who taught me to bait a hook, catch a fish, and take that fish off the hook? MY DAD. A skill set, I might add, that really surprised and impressed my husband, George. Who roasted hot dogs and marshmallows late at night on a fork over the gas burner on the stove? And if you were a lucky girl, you woke up and heard him coming home from second shift and he would share his late night culinary skills with you. DAD. I would wager almost every daughter at every age idolizes her dad. I have been no exception. My father was the hardest working man I ever knew. He taught my sisters and me to work hard by his example. He worked long hours for his employers (the 1967 spring flood when he hardly ever came home for weeks), kept a well maintained home and a meticulous lawn that my sisters and I were privileged to share the chores of trimming the edges and sweeping the sidewalk and driveway. Every. Damn. Week. His cars were usually in excellent shape as well, with the exception of the “3M Special,” his work car he claimed was held together with duct tape. I think it was the color of duct tape as well, wasn’t it? Kind of a dull gray? My dad also gave time to his church, helping to build it, serving as a deacon, then an elder, and keeping a careful eye on its finances. He regularly gave blood. When people ask me today why I give blood, I tell them it is because my father did. My father loves his country. He flew the flag everyday (so did his father) and now, so do I. I know for a fact that we have different ideas about how our country should be governed and who should lead it but I do not doubt we love it equally. He knows I am one of those damn liberals ruining this country but he loves me anyway! My father loved his parents. The first time (and possibly the only time), I ever saw him break down and cry was at his mother’s funeral. I was 16. It was very disturbing to see the rock that was my father sobbing. I have always felt safe with my dad. As a child, I remember trips to see our grandparents in St. Louis or in the Missouri Ozarks. Dad would get home after working second shift, pile us all in the car and start the long drive south, staying up all night while we slept in our makeshift beds in the back of the station wagon. You’d get a seat belt/car seat ticket for that now, Dad. When we made the change from station wagon to sedan, I remember staying awake with him as he made the long drive and he would call me his “driving buddy.” I had the seat right behind him in the back. I have childhood memories of crossing dark parking lots holding his hand as we made pit stops in the middle of the night. NOT TOO MANY, mind you. He was “a get in the car and get going” kinda guy. As the sun came up, we would stop in Bowling Green (is that right?) and have breakfast at a truck stop. His heroes were Arnold Palmer and the St. Louis Cardinals. He once told me the two things he misses most are golf and driving. My father has known a great deal of disappointment and sorrow in his life but I hope he would also say he has known fulfillment , joy and love. I have no doubt that many times he despaired but it is important to recognize that he also prevailed. As the writer of Ecclesiastes states: “The race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither bread to the wise, nor riches to men of understanding, nor favor to men of skill; but time and chance happens to them all.” [Ecclesiastes 9:11] Without talking about it directly, my father taught me that life does not promise you ease and success and sometimes it even denies you your heart’s desire but one does not give up and die. You carry on. If my father was British, he would have a stiff upper lip. My father does not talk a great deal about the past. I wish I knew his life story better, what he was like as a child, a teenager, a young married man. Maybe that is something he will choose to do in the time still left. I do know he has always let his actions speak for his beliefs and I know that he loves me. In closing, I want to share with you the truest thing my father ever told me about his life and it has been the primary tenet of my existence: “I was there when you were conceived; I was there when you were born and I’m still here.” Thank you, Daddy-o, for always being there. I love you with all of my heart. Happy 80th birthday.

A quilt finished in 2006 finally goes home - Ati's quilt

In 2003-2004, George and I had the privilege to host an AFS student from Germany for a year in our home. It was an excellent match and we think of Atilla as our son. While Ati was with us, he was very interested in the quilt I was making for my mother, Marian Long. He told me if she did not want it, he would take it! So before he left, we visited a fabric store together and picked out fabric for his quilt. Two years later it was finished but Ati asked me to keep it while he was in college and really did not have a place of his own. He is now finishing up graduate school and we arranged to send it to his girlfriend's place until he has his own place. It arrived today (I am so relieved!) and here are some pictures of Ati, Marie and the quilt. The back of the quilt has a quote from Archbishop Desmond Tutu that says: "You don't choose your family. They are God's gift to you, as you are to them." It also lists us with love as "Ginnie and George, your American Parents." The pattern is a log cabin with a star variation. You can see more pictures of the quilt in my albums. So another quilt has found its home. As I packed it up, I felt like I was sending one of my children far, far away when actually, I was sending a boxful of love to my son and his sweetie. Life is good!