Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Ornament I Always Look For


It was seventeen years ago last August. I was finally, happily pregnant with our third child. And then one morning I woke up to blood.

Not a lot. But for a happily pregnant mom-to-be, any is too much.

And so we went to the doctor, my husband and I. And the doctor and nurses hemmed and hawed, and said it was too early to tell, and tried not to leave us either too frightened or too hopeful. And they referred us to an obstetrician. Who hemmed and hawed and said, "It's too early to tell," took bloodwork, and told us to monitor things and, if all was well, to come back the following week for an ultrasound. (I marvel these days at how technology has changed.)

Later that night, the bleeding seemed to be subsiding.  But then I got the call from the nurse: My pregnancy hormone levels were far lower than they should have been, and this was really, really bad.  I needed to get off my feet and stay off for at least two weeks. No guarantees, but... This would give the baby the best (and perhaps only) chance.

(I later learned from the nurse that I was her first such call, and she wasn't sure how to handle it. "Should I tell her it will be all right?" she asked the doctor. "Oh, no," the doctor replied. "You can't do that.")

Two weeks of bed rest is easier said than done when you have a five- and a seven-year-old. But with the help of church friends, we did it. And the heartbeat on that ultrasound two weeks later was one of the sweetest sights I've ever seen.

But I had a hard time making plans. For the next few months, my mind was in limbo. I didn't want to buy anything, or make anything for the baby. Just in case.

Until December, when I painted this Christmas ornament. The hope ornament.

Every year, it is the one I look for.

(And how did the kid turn out? He's running half marathons. So you tell me.)

Monday, December 26, 2011

It Is NOT My Fault

I was sitting in the Christmas Eve service the other night. (A lovely, meaningful service. But it always is.) And the scripture reader started in with words from the prophet Isaiah,chapter 9, verse 2.

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shined.

And immediately my Word Nerd mind, the part that Cannot. Stop. Editing. Ever. (seriously, it's a sickness) says, "'Shined'? I would have chosen 'Shone.'"

And then my brain is galloping off on a tangent, reflecting on the variants of the past tense of the verb "to shine" and when each is appropriate. (It's not that I'm by nature critical. Honestly. It's just that my brain can't stop tearing apart words and their meanings to see what's underneath, and then using the info to put the thoughts back together again.)

And then I realized what I had just done. Not only had I missed the entire scripture reading...

I had just grammar Nazi-ed the Bible.

Sigh.

Dear God, I am really, really sorry. But in my defense, you know that my brain is the way you made it.

I'll try not to let it happen again.

P.S. Upon reflection, I've decided that your translation was the right one anyway. So,y'know... Well done!

Merry Christmas!!!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas At My House, Part II: The Gift Bags

I hate wrapping presents. HATE it. I always get done shopping and think, "Whew! Done!" And then realize, "Oh, wait, not really."

This year I have found the solution. I picked up a bunch of Christmas fabric for half price and am making reusable gift bags. Toss in the present, pull on the strings, slap on a tag, and done!  REALLY done. 

So far I've finished a couple of small ones and this big one.

SUCCESS!!

Why does it take me to middle age to figure these things out?

P.S. This particular fabric is glittered. I mean really, really glittered. Which means that there is now glitter EVERYWHERE in my house. This morning I ran my fingers through my hair and it was like a glitter snowstorm.

Wonder if that's what it looks like when Tinkerbell gets dandruff?

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Friday, December 16, 2011

Parenting Is Not for the Weak

Conversation between me and my 16-year-old after I found charred cardboard on top of my stove:

Me: Oh, by the way, congratulations on catching the burning top to the mac and cheese box before it burned the house down.

Him, grinning guiltily and giving me a thumbs up: Uh, yeah, thanks.

Me: Did it actually start to flame, or just turn black?

Him: Just turned black. Don't worry. We've had worse.

Me: Please don't tell me that.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Word Nerd and the Inner Thirteen-Year-Old Meet Again: Place Names

Best article of the Day:

Facebook Doesn't Recognize Town With Seemingly Offensive Name

Highlights:

“I’m a proud Effin woman,” said Kennedy, who is keen to connect with former residents. “There are other Effin people around the world, and they want to put down that Effin is their home town.”

and:

The British Isles are littered with towns with seemingly offensive names, potentially paving a difficult path for online gatekeepers trying to stamp out vulgar language.

Appealing to a nation’s voracious appetite for puerile humor, Rob Bailey and Ed Hurst, the authors of the books “Rude UK” and “Rude Britain,” have compiled hundreds of names of places here that could be considered crass or boorish or just plain funny, including Crapstone, Slack Bottom, Golden Balls, Knob Field, Badgers Mount, Penistone, Foulridge and Ugley. (Of this random list, the last three are available as hometown options on Facebook.)

While the fondness here for double-entendres can’t be exaggerated enough, the names of many “rude” places date back hundreds of years to a time when no one would have sniggered at their mention, according to Bailey and Hurst. Foulridge, for instance, can be traced back to 1219 and alludes to “the place where fouls graze.” Pratt’s Bottom reportedly once referred to the bottom of the hill where the Pratt family lived.

Hee.

I believe I speak here not just for myself, but for all my British ancestors and our "puerile humor" when I say: Come on, Facebook. Give these people an Effin break.

(Wait, was that the right word order?)

Word Nerd Note: The word "puerile" comes from the Latin word "pueriliīs," which means "childish." Which comes from the word "puer," which means "child," or "boy."

So now, when people chide you for laughing at "Slack Bottom," tell them it's okay. Because you're learning Latin. And how did they expand THEIR vocabularies today?

Monday, December 12, 2011

And We're Live!

My new website has gone live! (Still so much to do -- photos and patterns to search out, thoughts to put onscreen... But I figured better to go live now and construct it over time that wait till it was perfect. Which would be, y'know, never.)

CARITASQUILTS.COM

My website devoted to making it easier to put "caritas" (love/charity) into our charity quilts.

I'll be trying to update at least the blog every couple of days. Quilters, I'd be honored if you'd put it on your blogroll.

Happy quilting!!

Monday, December 05, 2011

Sometimes It's Exciting to Step Out of Your Comfort Zone

For the past few months, an idea has been germinating in my mind.

It all started with this blog post from my online quilting friend Nancy: "Quilts for Friends We Haven't Met Yet," about quilters who were troubled that quilts made for injured members of the armed services were referred to as "charity quilts." Here's a quote (but you should click on the link, because the entire post is worth a read):

The problem, as I understand it, is that quilts made for Quilts of Valor were referred to as "charity quilts" and, as such, carried an inference -- for some people -- of shoddy workmanship and/or inferior quality fabric. I didn't quite get it.

I make quilts to give to people I know and quilts to keep. I also sometimes make quilts to give away to people that I do not know, people who have had some sort of life-altering event and could use a little extra comfort. I think of those quilts as charity quilts, to differentiate from those I give to people I know. I use the same quality of fabric and degree of care in my work for all of my quilts. I wrote to a friend who was among the incensed and asked for clarification. I asked her, "What language would you suggest for quilts that are given away to needy individuals, to people we don't know, or to special causes? Charity means kindness, love, that kind of thing, doesn't it? When I hear "charity quilt" I don't assume inferior workmanship and cheap fabric. I think it is a quilt made for an unknown recipient out of love."

[...]isn't it a shame that such a fine word [charity] has morphed into something so shabby?

This post, of course, activated a lot of circuitry in my brain, both the quilting parts and the word nerd parts. Part of my response in her post's comments:

I see it both ways. "Charity" in our society has taken on a bad connotation -- it's bad to receive, and it implies the givers are somehow "better than."

Which is too bad, because as you said, the roots pf the word are beautiful. It come from the latin "caritas" which originally meant "preciousness, dearness, high price." Far from the "castoffs from the rich" meaning it's come to have. I believe there are also places in Bible translations where it has been used interchangeably with "love," right? (Hasn't 1 Cor 13:13 sometimes been translated as "faith, hope and charity"?)

Because yes, the servicepeople definitely deserve appealing quilts made with love and care. But so do the abused wives. And the foster kids. And the people undergoing chemo. And the folks in nursing homes. And I think the vast majority of quilters are loving, caring people who would agree with me.

But...

A few months ago, our church started a little quilting group. There are about ten or so of us. And one of the things we do is make "charity quilts." And I have seen first-hand how difficult it can be to make quilts with eye appeal from donated fabrics that weren't originally selected to go together and frequently wouldn't have been my own first choice for a quilt. (Not that they're bad fabrics. It's just that my taste for my own quilts runs to pure, bright colors, and our donated fabric is generally a lot more grayed and muted.) I look at these fabrics and my mind blanks on how best to use them.

That's when the idea arrived: Wouldn't it be fun to create a website with tips and ideas for creating nice quilts for charity from donated fabric? A site to help quilters restore the good name of "charity," helping to push it back towards its original "caritas," or love?

My nephew-in-law introduced me to Weebly, the web design site for complete amateurs, over Thanksgiving. I registered my domain name last night. Since then I've been busily constructing my "Caritas Quilts" site.

It currently has a lot of blank pages and details to be filled in later, but it's coming along. Expect to see it go live later this week.

I'm so excited!