Sunday, February 28, 2010

Antedoct to Constant Bad News

Yet another sad happening in the world of 24 hours a day news.

There have always been horrible things happen in the world for centuries but cameras did not record every event. It took 6 months for news to reach MD from England in the 1600's. Plagues wiped out huge amounts of people....ships were lost at sea carrying those trying for a better life. But at least all the ridiculous talk of Tiger Woods has gone away for a bit.

Here is something I found and is really quite lovely.

It has been difficult, this past month, watching from afar the unfolding of a tremendous island earthquake. Compounding the daily witness of human suffering is the Life-Is-Just-A-House-Of-Cards feeling evoked by the rubble mountains that once formed the nation of Haiti. Yet, even as we struggle to process emotionally the images and aftermath from Haiti, round-the-clock TV reporters are quick to turn our attention to other troubled nations - including our own.

With what seems like ever increasing doses of bad news - and the prevalence of pocket-sized devices to deliver such news live from every corner of the Earth - I have to wonder whether the human nervous system and our emotional resiliency can really be stretched that far. Will a global culture so prone to epic traumas render us all jaded and uncaring? Will disaster fatigue begin to set in?

The pendulum could swing this way. Or we could further develop that over which we do have absolute control: the internal affairs of our mindset.

Certainly the first, and most natural, reflexive reaction to human distress is compassion. Lending a helping hand benefits both the giver and the receiver. In the interim, I think sustaining a sense of rational optimism can be as simple as cultivating appreciation for the everyday blessings that nourish and fortify the unshakable soul.

I remind myself to do this with the motto, "Make it all count." As a corollary to the wise old saw "count your blessings," this motto goes beyond merely adding it all up. Rather, it implies appreciating the "significance" of each blessing - even those well disguised.

Imagine living a life in which every little thing you experience truly matters: every word, idea, dollar and deed; every minute spent on children and family; every wink of sleep and good morning hug; every accomplishment and accolade (however modest); every not-so-modest failure - and all the freakish coincidences that rescue us from our failures.

Every childhood passion and idle daydream; every slow walk with a best friend and hurried rush to meet a new life goal; every display of affection and heart-warming act of kindness, given or received.

Every deeply felt inspiration, inhalation and relaxation.

And don't forget to count the everyday events of nature that offer beauty, solace and a welcome measure of stability and permanence: Pause to watch sunsets that disappear behind clouds of color, attune your ears to the uplifting melodies of birds, be dazzled by every mind-bending rainbow and rest your thoughts in the perfect stillness of the ocean's rhythm and roar.

We can't tune out the big defining moments or the history-making events around the world (nor should we), but how often do we ignore the infinite goodness delivered in tiny packages right at our doorstep every day? If the tragedies of war and nature teach us anything, it's that life is fleeting and that even basic human needs such as air, food and water are more gifts than givens.

To me, the true antidote to life's unpredictability is to assign value and intention to every moment that flies by: Yearn for every ounce of sweetness those moments will carry away forever if we don't reach out and embrace the experience with mindful appreciation.

Like a mobile of human emotions hanging from a string in perfect balance, let the collective weight of everyday wonders and treasured moments act as a counterbalance to the periodic tragedies that test human limits and bedevil our peace of mind. The sheer scope and inevitable recurrence of worrisome events will weigh us down and tune us out if we don't vigilantly strive to keep it all in balance.

If ever there were a New Year's resolution not to be abandoned, this one may be it: Count every blessing and make every blessing count.

Michelle Morton is a writer and book publisher who specializes in topics about fine art, science and social justice.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Trying Fun New Patterns

I have found that one of the key ingredients for me to continue to make quilts for our military---is fight boredom. I love most of the patterns Eleanor Burns writes as they are full of pictures and hints to make it all work out right.

This quilt is from her book Quick Trip Quilts. It can be cut quickly and sewing is really fast. You must pay attention to getting the strips sewn together in just the right order though. I loved it so much I have a second one almost done. This one will be a little smaller.

In May I have a lady coming to our guild to collect quilts for our military. I want her to have a HUGE amount to take back as the injuires have been especially fierce lately.

Monday, February 22, 2010

First Signs of Spring

We have had a very cold and snowy winter here. This is very reminiscence of the many years I lived in Massachusetts.

The very first sign of Spring is the light. It stays lighter in the evening and gets brighter in the morning sooner. This can be in the middle of a blizzard but will always hold true.

I took my camera around the yard looking for other messages that winter is releasing her grip. Even weeds are welcome right now.

The buds are beginning to swell on the 2 Maple trees in our yard. Time moves slowly whether we notice it or not. Sometimes it flies by and we can scarcely believe how fast it went.

Every single day we are given the gift of time. Or will until we are called Home from this Temporary Home---as Carrie Underwood sings about.

What will you do with this precious gift you are given today???? Whose pain will you ease and whose burden will you make just a little bit lighter? Do something you will be proud of when you lay your head down in your bed. STOP complaining and start doing instead.

What makes your heart sing and your passion ignite??? Look for that from visiting a Veteran at a hospital, ladle out soup to the poor (and do not judge them as you do this), volunteer at your local elementary school, church or library.

Life is for the living. Start living it today. Turn down the hate on the internet or TV. Seek out positive people and watch how they will impact your life.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Navy Couch Potato

I was given some beautiful Navy fabric from a dear friend for Quilt of Valor. I decided to do the couch potato instead of cutting it up into tiny pieces. I have enough for a matching backing.

I may get brave and try some feathers on this when I quilt it. It would be a good place to learn as it is so busy.

Thanks Dee for this lovely fabric.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Block of The Month Fun

We finally have a quilt shop fairly close to where I live. I am not good on mileage but it takes about half on hour to get there from my house. It is a nice drive with only a couple of traffic lights.

They have a program with a block every month with no charge for the pattern. They just require that you buy the fabric from them. At the end of the year they will be displayed in the shop and voted on. The winner will receive a $50 gift certificate.

I chose a fabric line that I think will be suitable for Quilts Of Valor. It is by Marcus Brothers and is called Bonnie Blues---or close to that. I bought several fat quarters to play around with for the first 2 blocks.

Here are the first 2 blocks I have made. It is always such a joy to use quilt shop fabric and I took my time making sure things lined up right. When you make lots of charity quilts, you get fast as they do not have to be perfect.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Nature's Garbage Collector

We had some black bird meet an untimely death right outside the window where I have my computer. DH called to me to come look out the window. There was the vulture making quick work on this bird.

I love these big birds and often watch them slowly circling the sky. The world is such an efficient place.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Flowers for Spring--I wish

We had a HUGE storm here but I have plenty of fabric to keep me busy for a long time. That is a good reason for a nice sized stash.

I had bought some 1/2 yard cuts of fabric by April Cornell for Moda a year or so ago. It was really cheap and I bought 6 one half yard cuts. I decided to try the Wicked Easy Quilt again. It calls for 12 fat quarters but this would work just fine.

Here is the website for this wonderful pattern and it is free.

I love this quilt and so will you if you like flowers. It took me about 6 hours total including cutting. You can layer cut the fat quarters and even the sub sections. It does result in a pieced border which is not my favorite. I stitched a line of stay stitching around the edge to help stabilize it for quilting. I could also add a small border if I wanted to.

This will be a Hospice quilt. It will be easy to quilt as nothing will really show. Maybe I will try my Hooked on Feathers.

I think developing a few different patterns for charity quilts that are easy, fun and can be made fairly quickly is a good idea.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

One More Easy Quilt

I made a top yesterday that is really fast to sew AND cut. Some of these quilts take alot of time to cut but this one is really fast. It is done in strips and sewn into a tube. It was fun and that helps with charity quilts. You can layer cut easily.

I am cutting up a few kits using this pattern for our guild sewing day. I will share some of my fabric but keep the really special and favorite ones for myself. I buy most of my fabric on the internet and sometimes what I get it not what I thought it was online. But in a scrap quilt, it will be just fine.

I am very good at searching out bargain fabric online and have my favorite shops. Thousand of Bolts is at the top of the list. They have great deals and VERY fast shipping. I found my beloved Robert Kaufman red white and blue and just ordered 10 yards. I will not use it on backs this time. I thought it was gone forever unless I was willing to pay $9.00 yard---NOT.

I am lucky enough to work a part time job which gives me lots of sewing time. I love making quilts but do not want a house full of them.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Quilts for the Military

The above one is called Wicked Easy Quilt. This was made using 12 fat quarters. Very fast. I remembered to use several lights or the quilt ends up being too busy.

This was a pattern using strips that are cut 2 inches. I need to add more lights.

I found this pattern on the Quilts For Kids website---fun and easy.

This is just made out of 5 inch charms. I found this pattern on someone blog. I really enjoyed this one. It is called Disappearing Nine Patch.

Our guild is going to support making quilts for the wounded military. There are several different ways to do this and we will have a local contact come to the guild to pick them up. She distributes them at Andrews Airport. There is an average of 3 troop planes coming in each day with the wounded.

I love making more complicated quilts even for charity. I was losing interest when I made quick easy ones. Now I like to do both.

I needed to come up with some easy patterns. I searched the internet and have come up with several great ones. I cannot believe how quickly these can be made up.