Tuesday, November 28, 2017

A Busy Thanksgiving Weekend

Thanksgiving is truly one of my favorite holidays with family, food, and fun. For Thanksgiving, I went to my cousin Brian's home in Berlin, and the next day I attended my cousin Linda's "Holiday Lights" party. She lives in Beverly where folks gather on the Common on Friday night to listen to the high school chorus sing Christmas carols. Then a very busy, red suited, jolly, bearded man arrives in a patrol car followed by a fire engine with lights and sirens blaring. Santa then leads the crowd in a countdown and the lights on the tree are lit. It's a small town America/Norman Rockwell scene.  

Over the weekend, I also joined friends at our monthly quilting get together in Stoughton. I didn't bring my sewing machine but instead worked on this wool piece. It's a Buttermilk Basin pattern called "Vintage Truck," and it's more than half way done.

This morning I attended a meeting of the Crosstown Quilters and brought along the completed rag doll which is destined for the boutique table at our quilt show in the fall. After presenting her during "show and tell," I put her back in the bag and brought her home to spend the holidays. :-)   :-)    :-)

I've been reading quite a bit, but with one exception, the books I've been reading have been only so - so.  The exception is Dolley Carlson's The Red Coat - A Novel of Boston which I have nearly finished. The story involves two families whose lives at some points intertwine: Norah's Irish working class family in South Boston and the Boston Brahmin Parker family. The story is good, but a tad long. Why then am I recommending it? Who would enjoy this book? If you grew up in the Greater Boston area, you will probably enjoy this novel. If you are of a certain age and ever went with your mom in town to shop at Jordan Marsh and Filene's, you'll enjoy it. The book will bring back many memories.  For those not from this area, the author provides many sidebars with photos and explanations/identifications of the people, places, and events which are mentioned. I'm not sure of the book's appeal to a wider audience outside this area, but if you like family sagas, give it a try.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Craft Fairs and God Winks

This post will be a bit long, but I wanted to share something amazing that happened to me yesterday. My friend Laurel and I went to a number of church fairs in my town. While large craft fairs are wonderful, I really like the smaller, church holiday fairs. At one, I purchased this little vase with a lovely fluted edge. The potter lives in my town, and I thought it would be perfect for displaying a single, large blossom such as a peony. I couldn't figure how why I was so drawn to it beside the design until I realized that its colors perfectly echo those in this wool summer candle mat that I recently completed. Besides the vase, I also bought a Patriots fleece scarf, the perfect accessory for any outfit, and a number of other items to add to Christmas gifts.

We decided to stop at the senior center where the "Naughty Needlers" were having a sale. (Isn't that a great name for the ladies who meet there regularly to knit and crochet! They also donate many items to charity.) My friend purchased knit hats for her grandchildren while I perused the display of gently worn donated jewelry. I'm always on the lookout for Christmas tree pins to add to a wall hanging that I made. You may see a photo of it here. None of these four pins that I purchased are valuable or marked, but they are still fun to add to my piece.

Okay, here's where this post gets interesting. There are many definitions of Godwinks; here is one that I like.
Noun. (plural God winks). An event or personal experience, often identified as coincidence, so astonishing that it is seen as a sign of divine intervention.

After I made my purchase, a woman approached and asked if I lived on - - - - Street. I replied in the affirmative and then she said, "You were Walter's sister."  I nodded and she said, your mother was a lovely lady and your brother was the most polite, friendly young man. She had worked at a local bank, and she told how upon entering Walter would always greet each of the tellers, and she proceeded to tell me a couple of quick stories about him. She said everyone at the bank had been so sad when he died, and she said she had always wanted to stop by my house and let me know how special they all thought he was. (My brother had passed away suddenly at the age of forty-nine after a lifetime of dealing with many medical issues.) She said she never passes my house without thinking of him.  What's unusual about this? Well, my brother went home to God eighteen years ago. To think that he is remembered so fondly touched my heart more than words can say.  I left with a smile on my face . . . But . . . That's not the end of the story . . . After a quick stop at another fair, we decided to stop for a bite to eat. A young man came to our table, and my friend and I could not help exchanging smiles when he said, "Hi. I'll be your server; my name is Walter." Godwink . . .

I have always felt that my brother is still with me. Let me tell you another amazing story to convince you. As I mentioned, my brother died in April of 1999. In October of that year, I was sitting in the school auditorium with my eighth graders waiting for whatever was going to happen. You see, the Commissioner of Education had come to visit our junior high for what purpose we did not know. Then a truly, truly amazing thing happened. It turns out that the commissioner had come to announce that I had been named a Milken National Educator, a very prestigious award. How could I out of all the thousands of excellent teachers in Massachusetts been selected for this award.??? (This is not an award you apply for and, in fact, I had never heard of it before.) That's still not the most incredible part . . . the award was announced on what would have been my brother's fiftieth birthday. A few of my friends in the auditorium knew how difficult the day had been for me, and they said when the announcement was made, they couldn't believe it. Thankfully, they were not surprised that I received the award, but they were speechless that it happened on that particular day. Godwink. . .  

Thanks for reading and have a wonderful week.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Rag Doll Project

On Tuesday, I attended a lively meeting of the Crosstown Quilters Guild. We had a visitor who was curious about our group. Thank goodness we were all on our best behavior, and before the end of the meeting we had a brand new member. 

 I had brought three or four things for the give-away table in the back of the room. Unfortunately, someone else had brought a large white trash bag chock-full of tempting pieces of lace, some of which as you can see came home with me. :-)

During the meeting, Anne who is in charge of the boutique table at our quilt show next fall, asked if anyone would be willing to take this rag doll home to dress it. Someone had donated the doll and pattern book. I took one look at the hank of curly red yarn/hair and up went my hand to volunteer.

 Unfortunately, the book wasn't of any use as it was for a different type and size of doll. Undaunted, I began by making a lace trimmed slip. The slip wasn't quite full enough, so I cut it part way up the middle and turned it into a pair of pantaloons. The second attempt at a slip turned out much better.

How was I to make a dress without a pattern? I watched a number of interesting "how-to" rag doll videos on Youtube to get some ideas, and as you can see, I used some of the lace which I had just brought home. Lengths of overlapping pieces of lace were sewn together to create the base of the dress, and then I added pieces of a different lace for the sleeves.

Other videos showed various ways to create the hair. I would love to be able to show you a close-up of her hair and face, but my various devices aren't cooperating. Click on this photo to see a larger image if you wish.

Now this sweet little miss is set for the boutique table at our quilt show next fall.

Are you looking for a good movie to see this weekend? On Tuesday afternoon, I went to see Judy Dench in her portrayal once again of Queen Victoria in Victoria and Abdul.  I would give the the film a B. 

Note: In my previous post, I indicated that I have a new email address, but unfortunately,  I typed it in incorrectly.  I have corrected the last post and here it is again in case you are interested . . .
Of course, you should replace at  with the symbol. Sorry for the confusion. Did I mention that technology is driving me crazy lately???

Monday, November 13, 2017

Technology Is Conspiring Against Me

Life used to be so simple . . . up until about a month ago that is. Then technology started to conspire against me. No one was receiving any of the emails that I sent. I was able to receive emails, but whatever I sent apparently just when out into the great cosmic void. I have no idea how many emails never got delivered. I cannot tell you how many hours I have spent on the phone with various  "experts" at Xfinity/Comcast. . . hours and hours and hours and the solution/reason has yet to be found. So, I have a new email address . . . jesmith2828"at"gmail.com.  (Symbol written as "at," but use the symbol if you would like to reach me.)

Next, my blog posts appear to be blocked; some folks who follow by email have been receiving them while others using the same server have not. What's up with that??? If you do see this post, I would suggest you bookmark it and then if you want, check in every once in a while to see if there are new posts until the problem is resolved. Did I mention that I also have a brand new modem? That's another story. . .

So, last night I settled into my comfy chair and put my feet up all set to watch the New England Patriots on Sunday Night Football. Fifteen minutes into the game the cable went out: no TV, no phone, no Internet. I didn't take this personally, however, as the outage effected others in the area. What did I do? I went up to my sewing room and watched the game on a small TV set with rabbit ears! I am never ever ever getting rid of that rabbit ears TV! (By the way, is it just me or are we all more than just a bit crazy to be paying so much for phone and TV cable service??? )

Okay, since I was up in my sewing room watching Tom Brady lead the team to a 41 to 16 win over the Denver Broncos, I decided to finish putting together this batik quilt top. The blocks had been made probably three or four or more years ago, but they just sat in a bag waiting patiently to be sewn together. It's colorful and fun and hopefully some young person will enjoy it. Many quilts get donated for babies and children and that's truly awesome, but because I taught eighth graders for so many years, I like to occasionally make quilts for that age level.

There's more to this sad technology story, but I'll spare you the rest of it. Thanks for listening and I promise to keep trying to post to this blog. :-)

Sunday, November 5, 2017

The Buck Stops Here, Literally

I was coming down the back stairs a little before 8:00 when I was stopped in my tracks stunned to see this buck on the other side of my chain link fence. Yikes!!! Fortunately, Emma hadn't spotted him, and I quickly ushered her back inside. (She had not received the memo about daylight savings time, so I did not want to deprive my neighbors of their extra hour of sleep. Lord knows how she would have reacted had she noticed our woodland visitor.)

I don't know how you judge the age of a buck, but his antlers appeared to be about eight to ten inches long. (A few years ago, a buck with a magnificent rack was seen in these same woods.) Now when I say "woods," it's a bit of a misnomer as it is merely a stretch of trees and brush which separate houses on my side of the street from the houses on the next. If you have followed my blog for any length of time, you know that deer have on occasion been spotted here . . . right in the middle of downtown suburbia. He didn't seem to mind at all when I returned to capture some photos. Eventually, he bounded off. . . an interesting start to the day.

On Friday, I went with my friend Marilyn to the Christmas Craft Festival at the World Trade Center. She had never gone before, and I haven't been for a long time. Since it was a balmy 70 degress, it was a bit difficult to embrace quite so early the holiday spirit though I must say the booth selling Christmas fascinators was doing a brisk business!

One always popular feature is always the display of gingerbread creations.

Now for Emma fans, here she is just after returning home from the groomer the other day spotting a cute little pumpkin doodad..

I liked the purple ribbon against her fur so much that I bought her a new purple and black print collar at the craft festival. (Don't tell her as it will probably go in her Christmas stocking. :-) There were one or two booths for cat lovers and quite a few more for dog lovers selling apparel, treats, etcs. and they were jampacked with owners eager to buy things for their furbabies.

Buck Update: Turns out there are a number of websites that explain how to determine the age of a buck. This was a big, healthy buck which based on the info is probably only about a year and a half.