Monday, May 1, 2017

Happy May Day

© Kathy Duncan, 2017

When I was a child, we made May Day baskets that were filled with candy and flowers. Then we hung them on the door knob at our friends' houses. Sometimes the recipient was a secret (or not so secret) crush. I still have a basket pressed in my childhood scrapbook from that time.

Happy May Day!!

Saturday, April 29, 2017

I Was Comment 4ish. And Then I Wasn't.

© Kathy Duncan, 2017

Or--I Was Deleted by Bonnie Hunter Today.

Not sure which would make the best title.

Today I'm going to break my own rule about not posting from my personal life. This is supposed to be a blog about quilts and dolls. It's supposed to be about getting my quilting mojo back after I lost it seven years ago when my husband had his cardiac catastrophe (of which the stroke was just a small part).

A little over seven years ago, life was humming along. Things were good. Positive. Upbeat even. Blessed. I was making plans for the summer. I had been to a friend's house to purchase civil war reproduction fabric from her stash. I was participating in Jo's Little Women at my favorite quilt shop. My husband was excited about his daylilies, which were on the verge of blooming. He was looking forward to a good bloom season. It turned out to be a spectacular bloom season, but we both missed it. On April 7, 2010, he experienced an aortic dissecting aneurysm with accompanying stroke. He spent the next four months in the hospital. His resulting health issues and complications dramatically changed our lives. I miss our old life. Everyday.

That sort of brings me to today. This morning started out "normally" enough. Then I read Bonnie Hunter's post and just felt compelled to respond. Sometimes I just can't stop myself. My reaction was to her statements about hard work resulting in abundance and blessings. Suddenly, I just had to comment. Keep in mind that one of Bonnie's hard and fast rules is that she deletes the comments of people who are negative.

I wrote my comment after three previous comments had auto-posted, so I was about number four. I left that tab open and checked emails. When I drifted back a few minutes later, there were seven comments, and mine was gone. Deleted. That surprised me for two reasons. One, I was surprised that she found my comment "negative." Two, I was surprised that she was so fast. I don't know how she could get so much sewing done today and monitor her blog so closely.

It's too bad that I did not screen shot my comment - provided I could have done it fast enough. My comment was to the effect that the ability to "work hard" is a blessing that the ill and disabled don't have. Their caregivers work hard, and some care givers work even harder to hold down jobs that provide health insurance while also being caregivers. Not many blessings rain down on these folks. Despite their hard work, they don't receive an abundance of much unless you count an abundance of medical bills, an abundance of doctor's appointments, an abundance of time spent in pharmacy lines, an abundance of hours spent on the phone with insurance companies and health care providers. Life is not at clear cut as many would like. That's it. That is basically what was deleted.

Too negative or too real?

I refrained from saying that hard work does not always equal abundant blessings unless you think in terms of the type of "blessings" that Job received. I did not mention the abundance of grief and the abundance of worry because that would be....well.....negative.

My experience today is indicative of the experience of too many of our nation's ill and disabled. They are ignored and marginalized because bad health is unpleasant. It's negative. People look through them or away from them. They are left feeling invisible. Talking about their plight or their feelings of frustration is just not upbeat. Not relentlessly positive. They and their families are metaphorically deleted.

Usually, the frustrations of caregivers are greeted with platitudes about making time for themselves. No one ever exactly explains how that is supposed to happen. How do I find the time to quilt when there are so many medical tasks, so much laundry, so much yard work, so many research papers to grade, and that pesky job I have to go to next week? How do I find the energy? Please don't tell me that people find the time for the things that are important to them. That just makes me want to scream. It's right up there with saying that people are as happy as they choose to be. Maybe I should find it refreshing just to be coldly deleted. It may be brutal, but at least it's honest. Stripped of all mindless platitudes.

Of course, once I thought about it, I realized that I should not be surprised by Hunter's reaction. Go back and read earlier in that same blog post, and you will find Bonnie making fun of a mentally ill woman, who walked naked through an airport.

I will be the first to say that Bonnie Hunter obviously works very hard and keeps up an exhausting pace of activity. She generously shares patterns with her fans. She deserves to enjoy everything that she has accomplished. However, it is important to remember that Bonnie Hunter is a brand. Brands protect themselves with positive images and energy as much as possible.

As an adult, I need to remind myself that often the people we admire are flawed. In fact, we might not even like them if we knew them.

Will I continue to read her blog? I don't know. Would I take one of her classes? I don't know. I do know that I can't always limit myself to being silent or a stranger's relentlessly upbeat cheerleader.

I blog for a few reasons. My genealogy blog exists to share my research with other family researchers who have not been researching for as long as I have and who have not had access to the same sources that I have. I blog here to try to push myself to get back to quilting...even a little.

It is important for bloggers to remember that their readers are often people who are "shut in" because of health issues or care giving. Blogs often take the place of a shrinking social life. I became a much heavier blog reader after my husband came home from the hospital. Quilt and doll artist blogs, in particular, gave me great joy during those long months when I could no longer attend my quilt group's meetings or go to a quilt store. In fact, my favorite store closed during that time, and I did not know it until six months later. I was that cut off from my previous life.

On a more positive note, this spring our irises had more color and vibrancy than ever. I did not get a single picture of them because life got away from me. I will just have to content myself with sharing pictures from last year. Once again, I am looking forward to summer when a little quilting might happen. Or not.

Monday, May 1, 2017 evening update:

Watching Jimmy Kimmel tonight was emotional. My heart goes out to him and his family. Their experience with their newborn son has been wrenching.  As a family member, I've been right there with all the doctors and nurses in a cardiac unit (for a month), and I could completely empathize with him. I know what it is like to live in that hospital world that is like an alternate, twilight universe (for four straight months), where time elongates, and every day is about a week long, where every decision seems to be a choice between life and death.  I know what it is like to feel intensely grateful and indebted to the medical staff. I know what it is like to have emotions that are so raw and so on the surface. I could not watch Grey's Anatomy for over a year afterward because the sound of the alarms on the monitors would put me right back into that experience, and Grey's had been one of my favorite television. Once on Code Black, a character said something like, "An aortic dissection. That's something you never want to see on a CT."

Yup, that's right. Positive thoughts going out to the Kimmel family.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Dallas Quilt Show, 2017

© Kathy Duncan, 2016

It's a Charmed Life, the 2017 Dallas Quilt Show, has come and gone. Below are a few highlights from the show. These quilts were my favorites.

The first quilt is called "Family Reunion" by Barbara McCraw. It was inspired by her genealogy research on Ancestry. It is a spectacular quilt. My one hope is that she will expand her research beyond Ancestry. After the show, it was announced that "Family Reunion" won the Viewers' Choice Award. I certainly voted for it!

This is a close up of the center block. If you look closely at the bridal couple's feet, you will see a broom stick.

As wonderful as the center block is, the block below was my favorite. I just like its grace and the sense of movement it has.

This was another delightful quilt by Susan Holland. It is called "Phoebe for Mary." She spent three or four years on it. The colors were much brighter than it appears here.

This is a close up of the center block, which give you a better sense of its vibrancy.

This is another quilt that made me happy. I did not catch the maker's name.

This quilt just made me smile. Old trucks always have that effect on me.

Apparently, I was drawn to pictorials this year. This little plane in a field of blue bonnets reminded me of West Texas - if West Texas had blue bonnets.

Another pictorial of a faux small town. Or a ghost town? It is comprised of five panels.

This quilt is an original design and is composed of several techniques. It's bright and makes me happy. I had a chance to speak to the maker. She is a delightful, talented young woman.

And I had my annual visit with the Dallas Guild's quilt, which I think is called Dallas Primitive. It was made in about 1996 or 97.

This is really two blocks. The boat is one, and the chickens are the other. I made the chicken block, and it won a blue ribbon. Then the following year, one of the light chickens was the show logo. Pretty cool, eh? Anyway, the little street sign indicates that the chickens are wandering the streets of Dallas at the corner of Ervay and Young. Those streets were named after early pioneers of Dallas. Also, if you know your way around Dallas, then you know that the Dallas Public Library is at that corner - no possibility of a boat passing by there. This block is my tribute to the Dallas Public Library, where I have logged many, many hours doing genealogy research instead of quilting. I hope Barbara McCraw will check it out when she is not making delightful quilts.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

The Short Life of Addia Fisher

© Kathy Duncan, 2016

Barbara Brackman's latest post on her blog, Civil War Quilts, concerns a quilt made by Miss Addia Fisher that won a prize at the Ontario County Fair in New York in 1852 for a quilt that was referred to in 1911 as an "Uncle Tom's Cabin quilt."

Barbara's question, of course, is what is an Uncle Tom's Cabin quilt? I can't shed any light on that. However, I was able to tweak out a little bit of information about Addia Fisher. The reason that so little is known about her is that she died young.

In 1850, Addia Fisher was enumerated twice on the Ontario County, New York census. Addia P. Fisher, age 26, appeared in the John Mason household. Her connection to them is unknown. Over in the Jeremiah Fisher household, where we might expect to find Addia, was a daughter named in Delia, who was also age 26. The first question is were they twins? Cousins? In looking at later census years, it becomes evident that Addia and Delia were the same person, who was more formally called Adelia. In 1850, Addia was enumerated twice. This is not uncommon since there seems to have been confusion over which household to enumerate people in when they had lived at two different residences during the census year. In 1850, the snapshot day was June 1. Addia was probably in one household on June 1 and in the other household by August 7, resulting in her being enumerated twice.

click on image to enlarge

Addia Fisher would have been 28 when she entered her quilt in the Ontario County Fair in Bristol, New York. Barbara Brackman transcribed information from Charles F. Milliken's A History of Ontario County, New York that was published in 1911. Read it carefully because it also reveals that Addia's father Jeremiah Fisher was judging horses at the same fair. Since he was a veterinary surgeon and farrier, he would have been considered a local expert on horses.

In the 1850 Ontario County, New York census above, Addia's siblings Chad [Charles] Fisher, Roscoe Fisher, Eliza Fisher, and Albert Fisher were still living in their parents' home. Her elder brother Oscar Fisher had married around 1849 and was no longer in the household. 

New York also took a census in 1855:

click on image to enlarge

This census shows Adelia in the home of her parents, Jeremiah and Altha Fisher, with siblings Roscoe Fisher, Eliza A.M. Fisher, and Leroy A. Fisher. Their counties of birth were also noted on this census. Adelia, like her father, was born in Ontario County, New York.

The last time Adelia appeared on the census was in 1860:

click on image to enlarge

In 1860, Adelia was 36. Her siblings Eliza A. Fisher and LeRoy Fisher were still living in their parents' home. Roscoe had married and was gone.

Adelia and her father died the following year in 1861. Adelia P. Fisher and her parents, Jeremiah Fisher and Althea (Wilson) Fisher are buried in the Codding Cemetery, in Bristol, Ontario County, New York.

Adelia's younger sister Eliza A. M. Fisher died unmarried a few years later in 1865. She is also buried in the Codding Cemetery.

Adelia's brother Roscoe Morton Fisher married and removed to Kalamazoo, Michigan, where he died in 1898. His death record indicated that he was the son of Jeremiah Fisher and Althea Wilson. 

Her brother Osar Nathaniel Fisher lived to be elderly and had several children. He died in 1904 and is buried in East Bloomfield Cemetery in Ontario County, New York.

Her brother Charles Fisher also had several children. 

Why does it matter who Adelia's siblings were or what happened to them? Because heirlooms pass down through surviving members of the family. Maybe, just maybe, someone in the Fisher family still has Addia Fisher's prize winning quilt and can shed some light on what an Uncle Tom's Cabin quilt looked like. If that is the case, please contact Barbara Brackman.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Leader Blocks

© Kathy Duncan, 2016

At the end of each "year," my small quilt group presents blocks to our co-leaders to thank them for their year of service. These blocks are a secret until our end of year picnic, which happened on the third Thursday of the month. Fabrics were determined for each leader. The pattern came from Bonnie Hunter's blog.

This star block  is hot pink with a white on white background for one co-leader.

This one is in batiks with a cream batik background for the other co-leader.

This ends my summer opportunity for quilting since school is under way. I'm hoping to do a little next weekend...if I accomplish enough for school and home today and the rest of the week. It's rained two or three times since I mowed last it looks like I have to tackle it again right away. Grrr.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Back To School Supplies For The Teacher

© Kathy Duncan, 2016

This is not a quilt. Obviously. This Slow Stitching Sunday finds me getting ready for school, which starts in one week, so I am prepping a few things. No stitching happening today. 

Years ago, my district, like most, supplied us with lesson plan books. Then everything went digital - in theory. When all the lesson plan books in the warehouse were gone, my district liberated us to supply our own. Yikes! 

Since I did not want to give up a paper lesson plan book, I designed my own. First, I thought about what would be in my ideal lesson book and designed my own planning pages accordingly. Then I decided to add all things that   I'd like to have  at my fingertips. My lesson plan book includes an identification page so my book can be returned to me if I leave it some place, a district calendar, a bell schedule, tardy policy, planning pages, Cornell Note pages for note taking in meetings, and a cheat sheet for using our new online attendance and gradebook.

For the covers, I used an old album cover. The key was to look for one with great graphics. This one is Bill Hinkley and Judy Larson's album "Out in Our Meadow." I don't know anything about their music, but this cover makes me smile. We buy fabric because it makes us happy; lesson plan book books need to have the same element. I'll be living with it on a daily basis for a year, so it needs to have that feel good factor.

The front of the album cover:


The inside of the album cover:

I took a piece of paper and used it to block out the area that would become the cover and taped it down with blue painter's masking tape: 

Then I used my trusty quilter's ruler and an small utility knife to cut away the excess. This will be the front of the lesson plan book:

I repeated the process with the inside of the album cover:

This will be the back cover of the lesson plan book:

I took the two covers and the interior pages to my local office supply store, where they added clear, protective covers to the front and back before spiral binding it for me. The clear covers were 49 cents, and the spiral binding was $2.99.

And I'm good to go for another year!

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Summer Block 2016

© Kathy Duncan, 2016

This summer has flown by. Family obligations and lawn mowing have kept me busy.  Now that summer is almost over for this teacher, I have finally managed to get a quilt block made!

This is Bonnie Hunter's strip-pieced String X, and it is my contribution to my quilting group's summer block drawing. 

This was my first time to use a phone book page for a paper pieced foundation, and I really liked it. The paper is thin and tears away easily.  I'm sort of regretting all of the phone books I've recycled. In the future, I will be keeping them because I don't think phone books will be around much longer. more thing to hoard. 

We will draw for the blocks at our summer picnic on the third Thursday in August. Meanwhile, I am working on two very hush, hush blocks, one of which is finished. They will be revealed after the picnic. Maybe I am on a roll?

You can find the basic pattern one Bonnie's webpage: String X