Liebster Liebe

image from tiaras and trianon

It’s The Liebster !

The blogosphere is truly a marvelous place where there’s a lot of support and encouragement given without reservation  to fellow bloggers. It’s truly an amazing feeling to be part of this beautiful community. The Liebster awards symbolises the encouragement given to bloggers and it also encourages us to interact more with each other.

I am excited to be nominated for this fun award by The Glass Bangle.  Thank you!

Details follow:

  • Each nominee must link back to the person who nominated them.
  • You must answer the 10 Liebster questions given to you by the nominee before you.
  •  You must pick the next 10 bloggers to be nominated for the award, each with under 200 followers. (I’m making an executive decision to stretch this to 300ish so I can include several of my favorite blogs).
  • You must come up with 10 questions for your nominees to answer.
  •  You must go to their blogs and notify your nominees.
image from thehappycoffeebean, at

Since I was nominated for The Liebster by The Glass Bangle, in this post — — I will answer here the 10 questions she asked her 10 nominees to answer:

  1. Which is your favourite time of the day ?
    In Her Down Nest
    In Her Down Nest (Photo credit: Tabbymom Jen)

    Definitely the time when you have slept really well, just barely wake up, and then realize you do NOT have to get up.  Then you go back to sleep under your cozy down comforter.

  2. Given a chance to relive one day in your life which day would that be ?  
    Physician performing a physical exam on a newb...
    Physician performing a physical exam on a newborn baby after a Caesarean section. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

    The birthday of my oldest child.  I would NOT allow the Dr. to knock me out after the C-section until I got to hold my baby!  (I didn’t have a choice, they just did it.)  😦

  3. Which super power would you like to possess ?
    The Parr family. From left to right: Elastigir...
    The Parr family. From left to right: Elastigirl, Mr. Incredible, Violet and Dash. Bottom: Jack-Jack. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

    Super powers are a slippery slope.  Hmmm — no capes.  I learned that from “The Incredibles.”  I would say (and I know this sounds cheesy) but the ability to make people feel loved, confident and at peace.

  4. Which is your favourite aroma, something which makes you take in huge breaths ? Probably spiced cider or apple pie.  Cinnamon.  Definitely where it’s at.  
    *Cinnamon straw
    *Cinnamon straw (Photo credit: Darwin Bell)

    (Coffee is a close second).

  5. Write one word which symbolises the person you are.  Musical

    Probably the best piano I've ever played.  Absolutely gorgeous!
    Probably the best piano I’ve ever played. Absolutely gorgeous!
  6. Have you fallen in love with any object at first sight ? All the time!  Fabric mostly.  But other things, too — vases, earrings, beautiful things of every sort.
  7. If you are given a day free of all responsibilities, a day to do whatever you wanted, what would you do ?
    Sleep in :), Have a great breakfast with family and/or friends; Go to an interesting museum or historic site (preferably in Europe); either perform in or listen to a breathtakingly beautiful concert, shop for fabric or books or jewelry; take a hike (or a taxi) to a gorgeous natural area to take photographs;

    take a coffee break, read a fantastic book, and then nap in the sun on blankets.  Follow up with a bonfire party in a forest (or a catered dinner party on a veranda overlooking a body of water) with all my closest friends and family.

  8. What’s your favourite comfort food ?
    Another tough one.  Warm brownies.

    Warm chocolate brownies P1540979
    Warm chocolate brownies (Photo credit: tomylees)

    (But there are many foods I could choose)

  9. Which movie character has taken residence in your heart ?
    A scene with Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy after a ...
    A scene with Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy after a swim in a lake is recognized as “one of the most unforgettable moments in British TV history”. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

    Mr. Darcy (Colin Firth)

  10. Which is the weirdest combination of food that you’ve had ?
    In Cozumel —

    seafood pilaf w/ octopus, squid, etc. but no squid ink — the closest image I could find to what I ate

    seafood pilaf (octopus, squid, mussels, etc.) with squid ink sauce (black!)  Delicious.

The blogs I nominate for The Liebster Award are
(insert drumroll here):

The Spirit of Troy drum line at Navy Pier in C...
The Spirit of Troy drum line (Photo credit: Wikipedia)Soul Gatherings
  1. The Quilt Meister
  2. Second Memory
  3. pomegranate and chintz
  4. Lucie The Happy Quilter’s Blog
  5. 3and3Quarters
  6. DreaPhotograph
  7. marsowords
  8. Sometimes There is Beauty
  9. The Artsy Wanderer 
  10. The Thrifty Queen Speaks (I just discovered your blog today, but I feel we are kindred spirits!)

These would be in alphabetical order if I had more patience and better luck with this wacky editor!

I want to thank a few fellow bloggers for their friendship and frequent comments, though they have too many followers or have already participated (or decline to do so) in the Liebster:  The Green Light Lady, Apple Hill Cottage ,  and Soul Gatherings. I am also continually inspired by Sue’s writing and photographs on the Daily Echo.  I will add The Greedy Reader to this list as well, though she is a recent kindred spirit find I look forward to future interaction with her in the blog world.  (If they care to answer my any or all of my 10 questions in the comment section, I would love to hear their answers.)

Liebster-wanna-bees, here are your 10 questions.  Please answer them in a soon-to-be-written blog post.  (No pressure, but I can’t wait to hear what you have to say!)

  1. What song is stuck in your head right now?  (If not now, then most recently?)
  2. If you are given a day free of all responsibilities, a day to do whatever you wanted, what would you do ?  (I’m borrowing this one from The Glass Bangle)
  3. Tell me about the name of your blog.  How did you come up with the name of your blog?
  4. Describe one of the most breathtaking places you’ve ever seen and how it affected you.  Where and when did you see it?
  5. What is your favorite food?  (Please share the recipe as well if you can).
  6. What are the next three books I should read?
  7. Do you have a favorite poem?  What is it and why?  (If you don’t have a poem, I’ll take a quote from a person, book or movie).
  8. What music do you listen to when you want to relax?
  9. What are three odd things about you that most people  don’t know.
  10. Tell me about a vivid sensory image.  It could be something you heard, saw, smelled, felt, or tasted.  What memory is associated with it and why?

Thank you all for reading, following, commenting in, on and around my blog!

Quality Time with Quilt Friends

photo by quirkyjazz aka Jill
photo by quirkyjazz aka Jill

I recently found out one of my quilt friends is dying.

She has been fighting breast cancer for well over a year now.

She tried alternative medicines (including a trip to Ecuador for frankincense treatment) and traditional treatments (surgery and chemo, etc.) but the battle for her body is being won by the cancer this week.

I have known Barb for years. We belonged to the same quilt guild for over a decade. I’m guessing 16 years? I got to know her not only through the guild meetings and guild quilt shows, but also through her volunteer position in the guild as co-tech ed organizer. Her partner in crime for tech-ed was her buddy Annette. They were so hilarious together. Barb, tall thin and dark haired, and Annette, short round and grey haired, reminded me of a great comedy team along the lines of Stan and Ollie (but neither being stupid or mean!)

Wuppertal-Oberbarmen: Stan and Ollie. Flying C...
Wuppertal-Oberbarmen: Stan and Ollie. Flying Circus (Photo credit: wwwuppertal)

Barb and I also got to know each other at the guild quilt retreats* (see explanation below), held annually in Feb (or March) and October (or September) depending on when we can get reservations at the retreat space. Barb and I often ended up sitting near each other as we were quilting and often chatted as we worked. Eating meals together is one of my favorite parts of quilt retreats, and I would often find myself sitting near Barb and getting involved in a lively conversation.

Pride and Prejudice
Pride and Prejudice (Photo credit: elycefeliz)

One of the first conversations I remember having with Barb was when we discovered several mutual interests: Jane Austen, Colin Firth and more specifically those two together in the A&E production of Pride and Prejudice. Oh my! I thought I was a big fan, but she left me in the dust.

She had seen nearly every movie Colin Firth had ever made (and he has made a LOT of movies).

Cover of "What a Girl Wants (Widescreen E...
Cover via Amazon

She regaled me with the story of seeing Colin in leather pants in the movie “What a Girl Wants.” Barb claimed she stood up, fist in the air and yelled “YES!” (Annette confirmed this was true. So funny!)

She told me the story of finagling DVDs of all the PBS Jane Austen movies from either her cable company (or satellite, idk?) because she had reception issues when the movies were aired. She got them ALL! She was very persuasive.

A gyro sandwich with meat, onions, tomato, and...
A gyro sandwich with meat, onions, tomato, and tzatziki sauce in a pita as served at The Greek House in Norman, Oklahoma, USA. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We both loved eating at Athenian Grill in Dubuque. She would always tell me when the place was closed (it went through much drama and changes of ownership). We would always commiserate whenever that happened (and it happened often!).

She told us stories from work. She taught computer classes at a community college. I am sure she was a fabulous teacher and that she was much loved and appreciated by her students. As a fellow teacher (though I teach music), I pick up on passion and dedication when good teachers talk about students and classes. Good ones care. A lot. And you can tell just by listening to their stories. Barb was a good one.

Barb certainly had her quirks, too. She and another friend created an elaborate reward system to try to keep themselves motivated and on track in their quilting projects. There were monetary rewards for certain amounts of time spent, for completing projects and for I don’t remember what all. The part that fascinated me was that the money was IMAGINARY and that the amounts were quite small. Once I asked, if the money wasn’t real anyway, why they didn’t reward themselves with higher pay? Like maybe more like $100 an hour instead of whatever less than minimum wage they were paying themselves?

American Money
American Money (Photo credit: 401(K) 2013)

She replied, “Well, we don’t want to go crazy with it.” (I am shaking my head and laughing out loud as I write this and remember this conversation. SO FUNNY.)

The other amusing thing is this imaginary money reward system actually WORKED for them!

The forked head of a seam ripper
The forked head of a seam ripper (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Another “Barb” thing I enjoy is the way she talks herself through a project. She is a perfectionist. She will tear things out that I would never dream of fixing. She usually has a running commentary going about the fabric, her machine, the pattern, the project in general, the intended recipient, or the reason she is making the thing. She struggles to follow directions at times, and also likes to have confirmation from anyone who can hear her that she is doing everything correctly. Barb manages to do this without being annoying.

Barb often would be working on projects for her nieces and nephews (whom she dearly loves). She worked on one Buggy Barn (a quilt pattern company) star pattern for her sister for several retreats! The stars had lots of pieces and each piece had little borders around them. The whole project was in pale colors so all the work didn’t really show up that much. This is not the exact pattern, but it was very similar to it.

Carra making a baby quilt (pinwheel).

Several of us encouraged Barb to just quit working on it because it seemed to be frustrating her so much. But she kept working steadily on it and I am pretty sure she did finish that project eventually. (For many quilters finishing a project is not mandatory. A lot of us are excellent at picking out, designing and beginning projects. Finishing them? Not so much.)

Last fall, as we sat in the sewing room at our retreat I kept hearing an inner voice tell me to ask Barb’s permission to pray with her about her cancer. She had been through several months of alternative treatments by this time as well as some traditional medicine. She was wearing a cute brown pageboy wig, so her hair was gone from having chemo.

I looked for times to talk to her quietly but in a room with 20 creative, happily sewing quilters, there is not much down time and not much quiet time. I argued with myself about the prayer idea for at least the first day. Why me? Someone else could do it. The inner voice was not giving in. Yes, you. Yes, now. Do it.

So I went over to Barb’s table. I asked if she would be comfortable with the idea me gathering everyone who wanted to into a circle of friendship to give her support for her upcoming treatments. She said YES instantly. So I turned around and asked people to gather. I did not want to assume prayer would be the word everyone there would use for what we would do — but whatever I said — everyone came over. We held hands. We stood in a circle. Everyone looked at me. I asked if anyone wanted to say a few words or lead a prayer or anything — someone said “You do it.” So I did.

I don’t remember what I said, but I poured my heart out. We need Barb healed. We need her with us. This cancer needs to get out of her body. We wrap her in our friendship, love, comfort, encouragement and support.

I’m usually a crier. (See any number of my previous blog posts!) I’m not much of a public prayer either. But this was on my heart and I did what my heart (I believe it was the Holy Spirit) was telling me to do. This is one of those times that I believe the power of prayer was not only a mental but also a physical experience. Is there an energy that generates when people hold hands and stand in a circle and all focus their thoughts and minds on one person? — I don’t know. I felt something, though. Love, Faith, Friendship, Compassion. Words don’t mean anything much at a time like that, though.

I didn’t cry (much). At least I was able to continue talking and to form relatively coherent thoughts for which I am truly thankful to this day!

At the end of my words– everyone, EVERYONE, hugged Barb and whispered encouragement to her. Tears were flowing. Barb thanked us and shed a few tears of her own. It was a wonderful moment of personal connection between all of us in that circle.

Prayer Circle
Prayer Circle (Photo credit: graysonakerly) (Note:  This is not the friendship/prayers circle we had for Barb.  There are not quilters! We held hands and we are not young boys. But you get the idea.)

As the weekend went on, many of the other quilters came over to my table to say how much they appreciated the circle. I think many of us had the thought that something should said or done to show Barb our love and support, and we were thankful to have found a way to express that to her.

photo by quirkyjazz aka Jill
photo by quirkyjazz aka Jill

This year, we knew that Barb was near the end of her life. We had some roses both in the work room and on our table in the dining room in her honor. We gathered again in another friendship circle to pray for her and for ourselves as we were missing her presence with us.

As I visited with the quilters there, I found at least one of them working on a “Barb” project. One that she had worked on, but had not finished. She was hoping to get it finished for Barb before she died.

Prayer circles? (3)
labyrinth (3) (Photo credit: Rohan Talip)

I just got word a short while ago that Barb died in the early hours this morning (October 1). My heart is sorrowful, but my spirit is comforted to know that she free of the cancer and is now pain-free. I miss you already, dear friend.

He will wipe every tear from their eyes,
and there will be no more death
or sorrow
or crying
or pain.
All these things are gone
NLT Rev. 21:4

Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. These two Chur...
Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. These two Church Amish women are engaged in quilting. Quilting bee . . . – NARA – 521135 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

*Quilt Guild Retreats:  A Brief Explanation

(Modern quilt retreats are NOT like the photo above!)
Imagine 20 creative women (mostly strong-willed and not afraid to express their opinions about anything and everything) sitting around a long large conference room. Each person has their own work table and chair. On each table is a sewing machine, light, and quilting tools/gadgets. Most people have fabric nearby, some cut into pieces large and small and stacked ready to sew. The stacks are neat or messy depending on the creative style of the person. (I’m in the messy category — is anyone surprised?) In the center of the room are several “cutting tables.” These tables are protected by a special type of mat that is used with rotary cutters, wheel-shaped razor-sharp cutting tools that can slice fingers as easily as several layers of fabric. (I will explain how I know this in another post, another day!)

Everyone works on their own projects at their own pace. If you need advice or opinions, just ask. Someone (usually SEVERAL someones) will gather ’round to opine. You can stop to take a nap or a walk (either outside in the verdant gardens or in one of the meditational labyrinths) or just take a break to sit and chat.  

It seems that we eat every 15 minutes, but in reality we eat three times a day down in the spacious dining area with extremely large windows overlooking beautiful pastoral farmland. The Mound (short for Sinsinawa Mound) has a fabulous bakery, so we often have their home-made dinner rolls, breads, pies, cinnamon rolls, etc. 
Some people finish several small projects, some bring one large quilt to assemble, some bring hand work only. The point it to spend uninterrupted time together doing something we love — quilting — with people we enjoy.

Yes, we sit and sew and talk and eat for three day (or more if we can manage the time away!).

And we love and enjoy every second of it.