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Cookies instead of Cash

Cookies instead of cash, gee that makes me happy just to type those words.

I love to barter. Some folks will come right out and say no thanks.
Some people make it way too hard. They try and figure out how much
they would normally charge or if it is “worth it” to them.

My toes tingle when I find that ideal person who would rather trade goods or
services than money. When the word barter comes into play, somehow the
word money just seems lame and cheap and well, common.
To me, the exchanging of homemade goods or talents is way over the top
hipper, cooler, of more value and not to mention makes me happy like
a kid running through a crazy wild sprinkler, spirit soaring,
on a warm summer day!

Okay, look at the top of this blog. Right now, go on, look up. See the
title? For months now, I have dabbled and tried to get it centered. No
luck. I was just resigned to the fact that my title would be stupid looking
and off to the side. An idea had formed, I offered a deal
to the “boys” in the IT department that work with my husband. Here was
my approach…clean and simple…direct and to the point….

I will trade one batch of cookies (your choice) or one batch of
brownies (your choice) to anyone willing to center the title words on
my blog. COME ON DOWN, FOLKS WE HAVE A CONTESTANT!

Here is how it played out.

Sunday when I checked my blog, the title words were PERFECTLY
centered. Hallelujah! Oh yeah, I was happy & my spirit soared.

Monday, I baked an entire batch of M & M cookies (his choice).
Each was extra large, extra filled with candy pieces & wrapped them up in a
fabulous box with ribbon and a great M & M tag. I wrote how much
I appreciate and value his computer skills. I went with my husband
yesterday and placed the cookies in the middle of my “contestants’ desk. I wanted
him to see them the exact moment that he walked into work this morning.

It was a beautiful thing (tear rolling down face like a movie star, with no ugly
masscara smudge, just a deep sense of emotion).

We traded. We both felt like we got the better end of the deal.
We both are over the moon happy. We both used our skills and
talents. We both came away thinking we got the easier
side of the barter. For some crazy simple trade, we both felt
were were appreciated and valued.

May you have the GRACE to see what you need so that your
Spirit may soar.

It feels lovely.

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Be nice

If we had woken up this morning and it was a home school day, today, I would
have taught the lesson BE NICE. BE KIND to others. No matter how old my boys were in this dream. We would have practiced our penmanship with those words, created puzzles, done some charity work, thought about and talked about being kind to others.

Yes, I did teach it over and over and over. Yes, I am happy to report that both #1 and #2 boys “got it”. Both are without a doubt, kind and nice gentlemen.

People seem to have forgotten to be kind to one an other. Civility seems to have taken a back seat. Not just a back seat, you know that seat that was in the old station wagons in the 1970’s that was in the very far back and the seats looked out the back window and made you car sick to ride or watch? That is how far our civility has gone.

Sometimes, you just have to stick your nose in. Or rather I have to stick my nose in. While we were stationed and living in Germany the newspaper called the Stars and Stripes publish an extremely sad and in very poor taste, a picture of one of our United States soldiers who had been killed and dragged through the streets of a far off country. I snapped. I wrote a letter. I did not hear back. I wrote another. I called the editor of the paper. I was over the top MAD. When I finally, like a dog with a bone, got to speak to said editor, I told him I was ashamed of his choice. There were many other choices he had to grab the reader’s attention. I asked him if he had forgotten to be KIND. Was he KIND to the family of the soldier? Was he KIND to the military living far away and seeing that picture? Was he KIND to himself? Then I went for the jugular…………Would your mother be proud you? EXCUSE ME? No ma’am.

A simple hello in the morning. A simple thank you or you are welcome (NOT the so often used, No problem). Just easy, quick and simple. BE NICE. BE KIND to others.
Every single one of us has a cross to bear. A burden to carry.

The time has come and long over due might I add. Would your mother be proud of your behavior? Would she be proud of you cutting someone off in traffic? Would she be proud of you bumping someone in line and not saying excuse me?

I am worried. I am worried and shaking. This is not good. We must teach our children, no matter what their ages or stages of life just how important it is to be civil and kind and nice. Yes, it seems old fashioned, yes, it seems out of date, here is a wake up call people………….the time is now.

Please if only for today, Be kind to one another. It is our way of gracing each other with the human spirit. That spirit seems to be loosing some of it’s sparkle.

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UFO’s

In my little corner of the world, UFO stands for “UnFinished Objects”. I am talking about quilts here, people.

I am once again, taking a break from hand quilting this morning. I have to walk away to have a coffee break. I am very, very close to finishing a queen size cream colored quilt, that I can not, repeat can not take a chance of drinking coffee near.

Eighteen, yes 18 years ago, I started a queen sized whole cloth quilt. That is where there is just one piece of fabric printed with the pattern on the top to be hand quilted. Hand quilted, I might add, in the exact same colored thread as the fabric. I started it the month we moved to Germany.

Our boys were beginning to go to public school. I thought I would have tons of time on my hands and would certainly finish it in no time.

Life got in the middle. I can easily tell, that life does indeed get in the way. You see, you cannot wash the quilt until it is finished or you will wash away the pattern. So I find a cat hair now and then…that was two cats ago that are now living in heaven. I find black dog hair. Our sweet dog Quincy who also lives on in heaven. Of course golden hair from our current companion, Sweet Liberty. I have had it in a quilting frame in the middle of different living rooms, bedrooms, sewing rooms. I most often use a lap hoop and have taken it to Mr. Right’s office while he works on weekends. I have schleped it to people’s homes, in cars, vans. I have used great lighting, poor lighting, sat in front of windows and even looked out airport windows (back in the day when you could take a tiny needle and tiny scissors on a plane). I have listened to music on the radio, to cassette tapes and onto CD’s, heck I have even quilted while listening to my ipod. Several folks have passed away in my life during this time. I have quilted through many a memory. Working through good memories and bad ones.

I have quilted out problems. I have quilted while on the phone. I have hand quilted while in waiting rooms and waiting to pick up kids. I have quilted through a couple of Mr. Right’s surgeries.

Somedays that were unique or special I quilted just so I could pause and have time to remember the day. I got out my quilt on the afternoon of 9/11. I had to listen to the television and my hands needed to be busy.

I quilted on the days that our boys told us they were going to move away to far away colleges. I quilted on the days that each boy called to tell us “she’s the one”.
I have quilted on this piece well over 350 hours. I have gone through several spools of thread.

Needles, don’t get me started. I usually thread 12 at a time. That way, once I am in the “groove” I can just continue quilting without stopping to fumble with threading the needle. I use quilting needles made in England. They seem to work the best and don’t bend easily for me. They are about 3/4″ long. To be honest with myself, they were just regular quilting needles when I began, now 18 years later, they are called “big eye” quilting needles. Just a touch easier for me to thread these days.

My thimble is way too big. I have extra padding inside it to make it fit my finger. I have used the same thimble for over 20 years. Sure I try out other “newer” models. There is comfort in going back to the same one.

Actually after writing all of this, it hits me, I guess this is my security blanket. I have found comfort in a couple of pieces of fabric and needle and thread. This time, I am not putting it away in the pale green pillow case that I keep it in between sessions. This time, I am near the finish line. This year 2011, I will complete my heirloom piece.

Working through this project has taught me several lessons. All the usual: patience, persistance, idol hands are the devil”s workshop, having quiet time,
good workmanship and on and on…..

This quilt unfolded a huge lesson. I made this quilt for me. Me to enjoy and be proud of. I expect no one will treasure and value it as much as I do. So in the future, it might be used to cushion a piece of furniture in the back of an old pick up truck (I gasp as I type that), or cover a guest room bed or give warmth to a couple of love birds… this piece of fabric will cover me in the grace of confidence that I can accomplish what I put my mind to.

I will take pictures. I want to show everyone what giving yourself a little grace looks like.

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a pink t-shirt

Across the front of the sweet pale pink t-shirt I am wearing
are the words “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas Nevada”.
The famous old sign is printed in gray on my souvenir.

Mr. Right came home last night from a business trip
from guess where? Yup. Yes, he stayed at the Bellagio,
yes he stayed and dined at some swanky places….
yes, this pink t-shirt is “all I got”.

It makes me feel special. Plain and simple. I love that he
thinks of me. I love that he brings me a “present” wrapped in
the gift shop bag. I love that he tries to buy my size. Some of the
ones he brings me are sleep shirt size, some I can wear during the
day with jeans.

When I was a little girl, our dad would bring us little gifties
from his many business trips. One time, my sisters and I
each got these very “fancy” beaded purses from Washington, D.C.
We felt like grown up ladies receiving such special “go out to
dinner purses”. I loved the beads and the sparkle and the
very grown up feel. I loved the way some of the beads were
a different color and spelled out the city’s name.
I put coins and a paper kleenex and Bonnie Bell lip gloss in mine
right away! I would be ready for the next time we went out to dinner.

Whenever, Mr. Right would travel for the military, somehow he always
brought stuff home for the boys. One time it was about 50 pens for each,
wrapped in a rubber band. Oh my goodness, you would have thought
he brought them a hundred dollar bill each. They were so impressed.
They loved getting soap and shampoo and sewing kits in little
tiny packages, always the same amount for each. One time,
I caught them laughing, I mean really belly laughing in their room.
I peaked in to see what two little boys were doing.
They each had a clear plastic shower cap on their
heads. Laughing and laughing and laughing.

I don’t love that Mr. Right has to travel sometimes. Heck, you’d think
I would be good at it with so much practice from the old Army days?

I do love that he comes home with really sweet surprises tucked into
his suitcase. I am glad that the dog got the “plane crackers” and I
got a pink t-shirt. Both for girls, both equally loved.

He is one of the good ones. I am lucky to be bathed in grace daily
from such a man.