A Weekly Offering of This n That

Rainy Day is my alter ego. She is the little angel that sits on one shoulder and whispers in my ear to forgo that 6" piece of triple chocolate fudge with the four scoops of ice cream on it; she is also the little devil who sits on my other shoulder and convinces me that I can eat just one bite of each and be satisfied, and then laughs with such great abandon when in fact, I eat the whole thing, she falls off my shoulder. Mostly, Rainy Day helps me see the humor in living and, mostly, she encourages me down the right path. Not necessarily the straight and narrow one (how fun is that?) but the path that offers the most adventure and fun.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Scraps Dancing

Primary Convergence
This is my Ricky Tims quilt. It is Project One of four projects in the book, and I will make each one before I branch out too far on my own. I want to quilt it using concentric circles, starting from the upper left corner. 
Scrap Dance

Sewing circles takes practice, so I made a mini quilt from the scraps of this one, and call it Scrap Dance. It will probably be Scrap Dance I as I make others both to play with color and placement, and to practice the circle quilting. ;-)

Unfortunately, I can't get the color quite right. The wall is yellow, not orange, as is the one scrap. But you get the idea.

I think I can get into making these mini-quilts. True, they won't do much for keeping me warm on a cold winter's night, but that's why I have a small dog and a cat—and lots of bigger quilts.

Bay at Port Orford

Monday, September 8, 2014

UFOs Are In My House -- Again

Actually, many of these are technically USOs (Un Started Objects). But they just keep accumulating, and the end of the year is coming, and there are gifts to make, and....
My Gracious! It's a jacket, not a quilt!

I'm blaming my cousin, Barb. She was here for a few days this past week, and she is an art quilter. She makes small quilts to hang on the walls instead of pictures, or to be used on flat, horizontal surfaces as objets d'art. She got me all jazzed to quilt again. It's her fault. 

We went out to lunch one day, and had planned to go to one or two of our local wineries for a tasting and ended up at one of my favorite quilt stores, Quiltmania, where we each bought fabric. Then we went to the White Bluffs Quilt Museum, then back to the house where we talked quilts, fabrics, ideas, and drank wine I already had. 

Placemats and quilts

At the Quilt Museum, I saw a small quilt on the wall I really liked, designed by Ricky Tims, and bought his book on making Convergence Quilts. I now have a UFO on my kitchen island. The main pieces have been cut, and today will be sewn. then cut again, then sewn again, then.... Yes, lots of cutting and sewing and keeping track of what goes where, but when it's finished it should be a small work of art!
Quilts - Lap and Bed Size

At Quiltmania, we found a panel of 4 placemats that will be beautiful in my kitchen. We each bought a panel, and now, as Barb says, when we use them we'll think of each other. Of course, every time I work on a small project, instead of bed or lap sized, I'll think of her.
Another Bed Quilt in Black

And I have, quite literally, boxes of USOs to start working on. Once I get the Winter Gifts done, I have a "commission" to make, and then there oh-so-many projects in the box. About half of the quilts I "finished" before are now complete. The edging has been hand stitched, and they are either folded and put away, or are being used.
Lap Sized Quilts

I don't know a single quilter who is ever DONE. I like the slightly snarky sense of one quilter I heard about when I first started quilting. She says every time she starts a project, she puts it in a plastic box labels it with the name of one of her friends, or in some cases, one of her frenemies. The quilt may not be for that person, but if she dies, the UFO will be given to that person and she can finish it, and have warm and kind thoughts about the newly departed. The really hard and complicated ones go in the latter category. She had a marvelous sense of humor. Perhaps that's what I should do. Since I don't really have any frenemies, at least not that I'm aware of, maybe I'll put those in boxes labeled with the names of people I know who don't quilt and or barely sew.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Writer's Block: One Solution

Writer's Block: One Solution

Do you ever suffer from Writer's Block? I can think of few things more frustrating, unless it's looking for the exact word you need and can't quickly find!

I'm fortunate in that I've never faced a blank page and wondered what to put on it, but I have faced a major Writer's Block and thought I'd share my solution. I imagine every writer faces Writer's Block at one time or another, of one type or another, and every writer has her own way to go over, around, or through the block. Here's mine.

A few years ago, I was just finishing a novel and knew I was within a couple of chapters of the end but I just couldn't get that ending to come. I fussed. I fretted. I went out to lunch with a gentleman I knew. He is a bit self-centered, and condescending, so we're no longer dating, but he did give me one piece of great advice. When he asked with his usual snideness how my novel was coming, I told him my problem, that I just wasn't getting the ending. In a very smart asterisk manner, he told me to send my character an email and let her email me back.

Yeah. Right. Hmmmmmmm?

So, that night, before I turned off the computer and went to bed, I wrote the protagonist a note and sent it to her in care of my email address, turned off the lights and went to bed for a sound sleep. The next morning I got up and in going through my emails came to the one I'd sent my character. Now, she obviously didn't respond. (Not sure I would have wanted that, actually) but suddenly, I saw the ending of the novel, and finished it that day. Or at least that draft.

The next time I saw my friend, I thanked him for his suggestion, and told him it worked. He was somewhat taken aback, and admitted he was being a smart asterisk with his response to me. "I know," I said, and smiled sweetly, "but it worked, and I thank you." We no longer date, so who knows what words of wisdom I'm missing, but that solution to my Writer's Block worked and I've not forgotten. It worked for me. It might work for you.

If you've ever faced Writer's Block, and found a way to unblock it, I'd love to read your experience. Maybe it will help some of the other readers.

Monday, August 25, 2014

10 Books That Have Touched Me

There is a post going around Facebook these days, asking people to name 10 books that have touched them deeply. I can't remember if they are supposed to be novels, or nonfiction, or a combination. At any rate, I didn't respond, and now of course, I can't find it. But it did get me to thinking about what books have touched me through the years, and I thought I'd share my 10 with you. My list is a mixture of fiction and non-fiction.

One person commented on Facebook that these always reminded her of the old chain letters and she didn't want to respond. My thought on that was isn't that, basically, what Facebook is? An updated and modern version of the old chain letter? At any rate, I'm always looking for new books to read, so please feel free to share your 10 (or whatever number) with me via Comments.

1. Wizard of the Pigeons, by Megan Lindholm. I first read this book maybe 30 years or so ago, and it changed how I look at people in a most positive way. Especially "street" people. I guarantee if you can find a copy, and read it, it will change your view of life, too. I'm just now re-reading it for the 4th or 5th time)

2. Dune, (the series) by Frank Herbert. So many aspects of these books touched me, besides being a fun series. I think I've read them 5 or 6 (7??) times. They are my "thumb sucking" books – you know, when life throws me lemons, and no sugar for lemonade, I curl in a corner and escape to Arrakis.

3. Illusions, by Richard Bach. I read this book probably once a year. I have incorporated many of his philosophies into my life. And am working on the rest.

4. Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, by Lisa See. A truly excellent book on the meaning of sisterhood.

5. Places Left Unfinished at the Moment of Creation, by John Phillip Santos. As I reached the end of this memoir, I started parsing the pages, then the paragraphs, and finally the sentences so that I could delay reaching the end. A beautiful book! He's a marvelous writer.

6. The Tao of Women, by Pamela K. Metz & Jacqueline L. Tobin. The Tao Te Ching reinterpreted for the feminine mind. It stays on my desk, within easy reach. Yes, I use it often, especially in my writing.

7. The Art of War, by Sun Tzu (or Sun Wu, if you prefer). I have several copies of this book, and have read them all. Each time, I'm touched by something I hadn't noticed before, and each time I learn something new. For being a master of war, I have the distinct feeling he'd prefer peace.

8. The Pern, books by Anne McCaffery. When I can cry over the death of a fictional 'watch wher' you know I'm touched. I mean, I've been touched. Oh, never mind. Great books.

9. Cloven Hooves, by Megan Lindholm. I absolutely love this book. One of the best love stories I've ever read. Not a romance, not by any stretch of your imagination, but a beautiful story of Love, in its true meaning and sense.

10. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie. I've read almost everything he's published. I love his poems, I love Fistfight, but this book is perhaps his most touching, at least for me. I have no idea why it upsets so many people; it's a beautiful and well-told story about what it's like to be brought up on today's reservation. It should be required reading for all kids and their parents!

10.1 Roads, by Seabury Quinn. This is a novella, and if you've got lots of money, you may still be able to find a single copy edition somewhere, and someone willing to sell it. My copy is in an old magazine, and I am NOT willing to sell it. Roads is the best, most touching, Christmas story I've read. Ever. And I don't even celebrate Christmas!

And there you have it. My list of 10 books that have touched me in one form or another and all in positive ways. Because I like to read, and do so every chance I get, my list is subject to change without notice. Also, you may have noticed I'm not real good in the numbers department ;-) And if you'd like to know what books I've read, and what I thought of them, check out my Rainy Day Reads blog at http://lenoragood.blogspot.com. I seldom review a book I didn't really care for--I seldom finish a book I don't care for--though now and then I do. And what books have touched you? Please, tell.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Two More Quilts and then....

I had two more UFOs to quilt, and decided to make Summer Quilts out of them. A summer quilt is one without the batt, for those nights when it's too cool for just a sheet, but too warm for a real quilt or blanket. The Red Hibiscus is my memory quilt for my mother—red hibiscus was her favorite flower. I was in the fabric store when the clerk put the bolt of that fabric back on the shelf right in front of me. I don't think her hand was off the bolt before mine was on. I had NO idea what I was going to do with it, so bought 3 yards and hoped it was enough. It was, and I have some left over ;-)
Red Hibiscus

The other quilt is a whole cloth quilt. Again, in wandering through another fabric store, I found this piece on sale, and it was too bright to pass up. It was a piece, so it was buy it all, or buy nothing. I bought it all, and cut it in half. I have enough to make a second quilt, just by adding borders, and I think they will go nicely on my twin beds, don't you?

Whole Cloth
After getting these two quilted, and the edging sewn on (machine edging only) I folded and stacked the dozen quilts that will need hand sewing and got busy cleaning and dusting. My, my, my (as my favorite detective of the day, Lt. Joe Kenda, would say) but quilting certainly adds dust to the house. It took 2.5 days to get the house if not cleaned, at least de-cluttered ;-)

Then, it was time to pack books into the car, buy a collapsible 2-wheel cart to carry the box of books, get laundry done, the bed changed, the suitcase packed, and I was out of the house at 7.30 Friday morning. First stop was to fill Suvie Star Car's tank so she would get me to Albany, OR with a second stop at Campbell's BBQ on Powell Blvd at about 87th to meet a friend for lunch. I arrived about 5 minutes past 11, and he arrived about 11.15. For those traveling I-205 around Portland Town, let me tell you, this is an easy off-easy on stop, for some of the best BBQ I've had in a restaurant in ages. They have the usual beef, pork, and I think chicken, but the also have buffalo and elk! I had elk, my friend had buffalo. The red beans and rice were good, the greens not quite cooked enough to be truly soul, but pretty good. I imagine had I come a couple hours later, they would have been trop drawer! They had plenty of sides from which to choose, but those were mine!

Spent the night with my travel buddy, Kay, and Saturday drove about an hour back the way I'd come, to spend about 5 hours at the GeorgeKirby Gay family reunion to which I was invited, and asked to bring some of my Madame Dorion books, as one of her daughters by Jean Toupin was Gay's last wife. I sold some books, and made, I hope, some new friends.  Jennifer Gobin-Bales (a third great granddaughter of Marie by her daughter, Marguerite Venier) was there and brought her dad, Delbert. Someone thought it would be nice if he sat with me, and I'm so glad he agreed. What a hoot. We told stories and tall tales, and laughed a lot, and when I finally left, I was rewarded with a truly marvelous hug. Jennifer had best watch out, or I may end up adopting him myself!

Shortly before leaving Champoeg State Park, where the reunion was held, the descendants of George Gay gathered on the stage for a family photo, to which I was invited. It's nice to be part of another family. I left the park about 3.00 and headed back south on I-5, to meet up with Hwy 22, and took the North Santiam Pass to Bend, OR where my friend, Judith lives.

It has been about 60 years since I'd been to Champoeg State Park, and probably 55 since I'd been by Detroit Lake and across the North Santiam. My, my, my, how things have changed! I guess it's progress, but I'm not totally sure ;-)

Sunday Judith and I shopped at Trader Joe's—will the tri cities ever get a TJs??—where I did some shopping for a friend, and a tad bit for me, and then came on home. I put something like 750 miles on Suvie Star Car (fed her 3 times), and by the time I got home yesterday with only one pit stop, and one stop for a milk shake, I was totally worn out. I think this next week will be spent watching movies and reading books.

Speaking of movies, a highly recommended family movie: Nim's Island.