What A Quilt Can Do

Most people think a quilt is made as a utility item, usually to keep people warm. And that would be correct. in many cases. A quilt is very good at keeping people warm and cozy in bed. It has been doing that job well for centuries.

But I have seen quilts perform many other functions over the years as well. They are very versatile and multi-functional things.

For instance, a quilt can give a great big hug to a grandchild from a grandmother. Watch the child wrap the quilt around himself, close his eyes and spin around in the magic of grandma’s bear hug. It is mystical!

A quilt can say “thank you” to a veteran for his/her years of loyal service. I have seen grown men cry while humbly surrounded in the red, white and blue colors of their Quilt of Valor.

A small quilt given from a Police Officer can comfort a little child in a time of trauma. Nothing is more soothing than a soft cuddly quilt that can be squeezed and held tight while taken with the child on a tough journey.

A quilt, any quilt, can decorate a space. It can add color or design or a statement or whimsy to any room. Big or little, traditional or modern. two color or scrappy, every quilt has something to add to every domain in which it exists. It has a life – a reason to be.

A quilt can be an inspiration to others. It can encourage someone to try a color combination or a design or a new skill. Hanging in a Quilt Show, every quilt is a little beacon of light, begging to be copied or followed in some small way. Every quilt has something to give.

A quilt can teach – in fact, every quilt does. I learn something new from every quilt quilt I make, which makes me a better quilter. It may be something small or something really significant, but there’s always a lesson. A lot like life, right?

Every quilt is good practice for my skills. It keeps me honed and sharp. It’s like going to the gym or working out everyday – keeping the muscles in shape. Working on quilts keeps me in tip-top sewing shape.

Quilts bring joy. I would rather sew and quilt than almost anything else. Making them brings me joy. Seeing them brings me joy. Seeing other people’s quilts brings me joy. Knowing about brings me joy. Using them brings me joy.

Quilts make great gifts. They say “Happy Birthday”, “Happy Anniversary”, “Congratulations”, “Good Job” better than anything I know. Quilts practically jump out of the box on their own, they are so happy! They make people smile, laugh, cry and squeal.

For some, their quilt is their home, They live on it, sleep on it and eat on it. Their quilts are sturdy, well made, hard working items, meant to stand hardship and tough use. We make them at our church and send them mostly to India with lots of hope and prayers.

But the best thing EVERY quilt can do – convey love!!! All quilts are made with large doses of love sewn right into them, so they carry that love wherever they go. You can feel it the instant you touch it.

Whether you are a newborn baby or an elder on Hospice Care, the love is there for you. Whether the occasion is funny, intense, happy, sad or proud, the quilt brings just what is needed and just the right touch of care. Whether the recipient is a stranger or the closest loved one, the quilt is always appropriate and always gathered up in loving arms.

Quilts are meant to used and loved.

I know I love mine – and I believe they love me back.

What I’ve Learned About Love While Watching Outlander

So I have been bingeing on “Outlander” the last few months – all five seasons. Yes, I have become enthralled with it. What a magnificent love story!!

And this is what I’ve learned:

  • Don’t be afraid to love. Give your heart willingly and completely. Risk loss and heartache. Be brave.
  • Give words to your love. Say all the things you feel. Even it seems corny, say it to the one you love.
  • Give action to your love. Do the small things as well as the big things. Be helpful. Be kind. Be thoughtful.
  • Fight for your love. Make the effort. Put in the time and energy. Make your love feel important.
  • Tell others of your love. Be proud. Speak positively about your love.
  • Be true to your love. Don’t stray. Don’t lie. Don’t let someone or something come between you.
  • Don’t keep secrets from your love. Be honest. Be forthcoming. Be your true self.
  • Have fun with your love. Laugh. Be spontaneous. See the humor in everyday things.
  • Be strong for your love. Hold tight. Be present. Cry with them in the sad times. Don’t quit.
  • Be willing to share your love. Include children, cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents – all the family you can find. And friends. Love shared is love multiplied.
  • Spend time with your love. Be willing to listen, watch and share. Your time is your greatest gift.
  • Allow your loved one to be their best self. Support their passions, hobbies and skills. Share their joys. Applaud their growth.
  • Be lovingly physical. Make love. Hold hands. Kiss often. Stroke arms. Sit close. Rub backs. Touch feet.
  • Protect your love. Don’t let interlopers in. Don’t let love die from lack of attention. Keep watch. Stay alert.

And so love is not a casual accidental thing. It is intentional. It takes time and work. It is not just a noun. It is also a verb. It is a full-time job for the rest of your life.

And it is so worth it!!!!!!!

Chocolate Chip Cookies

My mother loved to cook.  That is to say, she loved to bake.  Everyday meals were not her forte, but desserts and special occasions were her real love.

She had a real sweet tooth (which I inherited!), and so we had a dessert at every meal. Yes, even breakfast had something sweet and yummy.

Mother was well known for her homemade pies, especially apple.  The crust was always crispy and golden.  Daddy loved her apple pie with a slice of cheese on it.  I think he learned that growing up in South Dakota.

Christmas was a big baking time.   She would start in September, making cookies, candies, bars and pies. Everyone would get something – the mailman to the doctor’s office to the pharmacy to all the neighbors.

There was always something in the cookie jar and more stacked in the freezer, waiting for the right occasion.  Mother never went to visit anyone empty-handed. That was her rule, “Never go out with a bare face or an empty hand.”

The one item that brings back the most memories of my childhood is Mother’s chocolate chip cookies.  Just the aroma of the cookies baking makes me feel like a girl in her kitchen, helping her bake.  I suddenly feel all warm and safe with a smile on my face, eager to see how the cookies turn out.

Then there is the joy of tasting the first warm cookie from the oven.  That was always “cook’s treat” at Mother’s house.

My daughter feels the same about my chocolate chip cookies. When she takes a bite now, she closes her eyes and sighs, “Ah, my childhood in a cookie!”

Her son, Mac, says my chocolate chip cookies are the best.  Little does he know he’s talking about Mother’s recipe, passed down through all these years.

And I bet his children and their children will say the same.

Peggy’s Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 2 1/4 C all purpose flour
  • 1 C packed brown sugar
  • 1 C Crisco
  • 1 C white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 t vanilla
  • 1 t soda
  • 1 t salt
  • 2 T water
  • 12 oz. semisweet chips

Cream sugars and Crisco.  Add eggs.   Sift salt and soda with flour. Add to creamed mixture.   Add water. Add chips by hand.   Drop onto cookie sheet by spoonful . Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.  Cool on rack.

Family

The one thing I always wanted was family.  I loved the thought of having many cousins, aunts and uncles.  I always wanted a sister.  I thrived on large family gatherings.

Having said all that, family is the one thing I was never blessed with.  I don’t relate to either of my brothers.  One just doesn’t respond in any way.  The other was in the prison system most of his adult life and died early.

My mother died at age fifty and none of her family has spoken to us since then.  My dad’s family has never related to us in all these years.  I have cousins I have never met, seen or talked to.

Because Gramps is a genealogist, I know more about my distant relatives than I do about relatives my own age.  It broke my heart as a child.  Wanting what I couldn’t have and having no way to fix it.  I had no power to get the family I wanted, when I was young.

When I got married and had children, I thought now I had the family I was looking for.  I had a devoted husband and two children.

Except now our son is not speaking to us.  Our daughter and her family live nearby but we only see them about once a month.  But lucky me, I have our niece who has become our daughter and her five children, who have become our grandchildren.  We see them a couple times a year and those times are so special.

Still there are no large family gatherings.  No extended family to relate to.

So I have devised my own way to have a family.  I have friends that care about me the way a relation would.  Some of these friends have been in my life for many years and some are recent acquaintances.  But all of them fill a hole in my heart and my life.

My friends share my love of sewing and quilting.  We love to sit together with fabric, needle and thread in our hands, sharing our thoughts about everything.  We care for each other in good times and difficult times.

My friends call me.  They check-up on me.  They ask me if I’m okay.  I do the same for them.

My friends invite me for dinner and holidays.  We have lunch together.  We share potlucks and buffets.

My friends share my good news and are happy for me.  They hold my hand and cry with me if the news is bad.  My friends do not abandon me – ever.

My friends are my family.   My lifetime wish has been fulfilled.  I have many sisters now.  I have gatherings large and small.  I have the equivalent of dozens of cousins.

The one thing I always wanted, I now have to my heart’s content.  I couldn’t be happier.

Our True Heritage

By Thich Nhat Hanh

The cosmos is filled with precious gems.

I want to offer a handful of them to you this morning.

Each moment you are alive is a gem, shining and containing earth and sky, water and clouds.

It needs you to breathe gently for the miracles to be displayed.

Suddenly you hear the birds singing, the pines chanting, see the flowers blooming, the blue sky, the white clouds, the smile and marvelous look of your beloved.

You, the richest person on Earth, who have been going around begging for a living, stop being the destitute child.

Come back and claim your heritage.

We should enjoy our happiness and offer it to everyone.

Cherish this very moment.

Let go of the stream of distress and embrace life fully in your arms.

 

A Good Movie Plot

My mother was born in a hospital in a small town in South Dakota. She was the youngest of all girls.

My dad was born in the same hospital four days later. He was the youngest of all boys.

My two grandmothers met each other in the hospital, of course and joked about how they should trade babies so they would have a different sex child in the family. That did not happen!

But the two children grew up knowing each other from day one. My mother recalled, in kindergarten, that my father brought cupcakes in for his birthday four days after she had brought cupcakes in for her birthday. She wasn’t impressed at the time.

I’d say she wasn’t much impressed with my dad for most of the years they were in school. He was pretty wild for his time and she was very shy.

In high school, they dated some. My dad was a cheerleader. I still have a hard time imagining that but it was an activity with some status. He was part of the group of kids that went to mom’s house often.

I think he began to fall in love with her in those years. She was very cute and lots of fun.

During WWII, they both joined the military. My dad went into the CB’s and mother became a Marine. I don’t think they saw each much during those years but they exchanged letters a lot.

It was always expected that mother would marry another boy from home. But somewhere in there Daddy proposed to her. I believe they were both on leave at the time.

Mother said she was on a train coming home, having to decide which man to marry, when a vision of her deceased mother appeared to her. The vision told her it was alright to marry my dad.

Mother always said she knew in her heart that was the right choice for her and had no second thoughts from that moment on.

They were married in the small town in South Dakota with both families in attendance. Myself and my two brothers arrived not long after. A family was born.

I’ve always thought that my parents’ story would make the best plot for a movie. I’m thinking Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed would play my parents. In fact they even look a bit like my folks. Wouldn’t that be a wonderful tribute?

My Neighborhood

Gramps and I moved to this neighborhood almost eight years ago.  We loved it from the start.  It was exactly what we were looking for.

First of all, it had sidewalks.  We had gone without sidewalks for about twenty-five years and that was the most important thing in our move.

Sidewalks make neighborhoods friendlier and closer.  They connect all the houses and make them safer.  The people in neighborhoods with sidewalks know each other and spend more time talking to each other.   It’s a proven fact.

Our neighborhood has great sidewalks.  Gramps and I walk them every evening and run into numerous neighbors and their dogs while we are out.  We stop and chat with them each time because we know our neighbors – all of them.

Our little village here is very safe because we all check up on each other.  We know when someone is gone on a trip or when someone is sick.  We know when a strange car enters the neighborhood or when someone has visitors.

We feel very comforted and cared for right now in these hard times.  Our younger neighbors have checked in on us and made sure we have everything we need.  Gramps and I know for certain we could go to anyone for assistance and get it with no questions asked.

Gramps and I are the unofficial grandparents of the neighborhood and used to be almost the only ones home all day.  But now during this health crisis, a great majority of the folks are home.  Our village now looks like Saturday, every day.

Everyone is out doing lawn work, washing cars and odd jobs around the house.  We are still visiting with each other and the dogs are still running up to greet us.

All the neat lawns and well-kept homes attracted us to this neighborhood.  We could tell that everyone was proud to live here and worked hard to keep their homes looking nice. Such a good neighborhood without an HOA!

Gramps and I love the diversity of our sweet neighborhood.  There are elderly, young families, children, teens, singles, people of color and lots of pets.  I think we would be bored if we were living in an all-seniors environment at this stage of our lives.

Now that we have found the neighborhood that is so perfect for us, we plan to never move again.  This is our last home.  We will stay here and be part of the best neighborhood for the next person who moves here.

Chocolate! Chocolate! Chocolate!

I’ve always had a sweet tooth.  I’ve always loved a little dessert at the end of every meal, even it’s just a mint (no, not a rock!  See earlier blog entitled “Don’t Eat The Rocks!”) And believe me, if dirt was covered in chocolate, I would eat it in a heartbeat.

In my world nothing can be too sweet or too chocolatey.  Nothing soothes my taste buds like smooth gooey chocolate or dark chunky chocolate or even creamy white chocolate.

My favorite dessert is a hot fudge sundae, which in my mind is the perfect combination of textures, temperatures and colors.  And the perfect sundae ends evenly with no leftover fudge or ice cream.

My favorite wine is always sweet too.  The sweeter the better.  And let’s talk about chocolate wine, shall we?  Can it get any better?

Chocolate-covered anything is a great snack.  Put the perfect coating on nuts, raisins, fruit or, dare I say it, more chocolate and you have a food you can’t stop eating.  I mean it.  I’ve tried.

And are chocolate chips not the greatest invention since. . .  well, since chocolate sauce. Chocolate chips are the cutest little items that can be eaten by the handful or added to almost anything.  Think about it.  What wouldn’t be better with a cupful of little chips added to it?  I can’t think of a thing that wouldn’t improve with chocolate chunks.

Chocolate is such a useful substance.  It can be the center of a celebration on Valentine’s Day, anniversary, or birthday.  It can be your friend in times of stress.  It can be shared during a movie or be the highlight of a reception or gala.  It can be solid, gooey or liquid.

It very seldom spoils and will last a long time. . . except at my house!  Some people have allergies to chocolate and they are much to be pitied.  A life without chocolate is very small indeed.

Chocolate is most definitely a central part of my life.  And why not?!  I love it.  It could be worse.  But it can’t get much better.  I understand chocolate is even good for you.  That’s what I want to believe anyway.

Pardon me while I lick my fingers.  M&M’s eventually do melt in your hands, you know.  But they go down well with chocolate milk.

Oh my, I feel so good right now.  Chocolate high!!!

Sisters

I have no natural-born sisters.  But sisters at heart – I have dozens!

A sister to me is a girlfriend whom I love, who loves me back, no matter what.  If I hurt her or if she hurts me, we forgive each other and carry on.

A sister revels in your successes and cries with you when you are sad.  She wants the best for you and will defend you to the death.

A sister believes the best of you and supports you in your efforts.  No one enjoys your good times more than she does or laughs louder at your jokes.  She also points out your mistakes and loves you through them.

A sister is a soulmate in many ways.  She shares your secrets and confidences.  She knows your likes and dislikes and can often predict what you will order at a restaurant.

I have such sisters in my Quilting Bee.  We have known each other for years and yet never get tired of each others’ company.  We often comment how we all feel the need to get together more often than we do because we miss each other when we are apart.

We give each other good advice and not just about quilting.  About everything really – cooking, entertaining, grandparenting, decorating, car repair, computing, marriage, etc.  I learn something every time we are together.

Our group is very eclectic and economically diverse, but you would never know it.  You’d think we were all from the same family by the amount of love in the room.

In all the years I have been a part of this group, I have never heard a harsh word against anyone.  There are no cliques or little gangs amongst us.  And I believe the only curse word I ever heard was said by me in a frustrating sewing moment.  (I know!  I’m still sorry!)

This group is so special to me.  I knew I had to be a part of them the moment I first met them.  It’s a good thing they turned out to be quilters and not miners, because I would be deep in the mines right now.

These dear sisters share everything – no holding back.  They will give anything that is needed – ideas, knowledge, tools, patterns, fabric, support, hugs.  They will sit beside you, go with you, stand behind you, hold your hand and pat your back.  I have seen them make meals, finish others’ quilts, clean a house, drive a friend, pick up a family member and babysit a dog.

And talk about huggers!  These gals are the best huggers in the world!  I can always count on getting my quota of hugs on Bee day.  I always feel so warm and loved.

My quilting sisters set the bar high for kindness and goodness.  They make me a better person by just being around them.  How could I not be a better me when surrounded by my mentors of such high caliber?  I hope to be just like each one of them when I grow up.

These sisters of mine are top-notch quilters, too.  How lucky am I to have the best teachers to guide me?  They challenge me gently to constantly improve my skills and to never accept less than my best from myself.

I dearly love my sisters and know they dearly love me.  I count the days until we are together again.  We will greet each other with hugs and smiles.  We will laugh, talk, share stories, show our quilting projects, eat and continue on with more of the same.  It never gets old.

We can’t get enough of each other.  My sisters and me.