Saturday, June 26, 2010

A Modern Quilt Guild

I'm almost too excited to sit still to write this post.  Of course, my friends know that in general I'm easily entertained, so this may not have the same knock your socks off effect for you as if does for me.  So here's the announcement -  I'm starting a Modern Quilt Guild in NE Iowa - New Albin to be specific. 

I'm not generally a joiner, and I loathe (is that too strong a word?) group politics and sitting through hours of grueling group decision making (over the brand of paper plates!), and yes, even Robert's Rules.  I know a few of you have those rules memorized, and I truly do not intend to offend you and I'm sure there are some situations where they're swell, but having endured hours of meeting time spent listening to people argue about whether this Rule or that Rule is appropriate for a certain situation has just hardened me into what appears to most as an anti-social, meeting hater.  Well, fessing up, I guess I am.  Have you ever spent time in a meeting only to leave feeling really frustrated, and well, maybe a little ticked off?  And it's not fun and you can't remember why you came, anyway.

Tripping backwards on memory's lane (would that work as time travel?),  I do have incredibly fond recollections of early quilt guild meetings in the late 1970's and early 1980's.  We were the young moms then, in our 20's and 30's and hungry to learn about quilting and to simply gather with like minded women to explore our new art.  Our meetings were fun, light-hearted, and refreshing times that got us out of the house (and away from our young children) for a couple of hours.  We were excited to see what each other was working on, and to gain advice from other gals who had been quilting just a bit longer than us. 

SO - if you're wondering what a Modern Quilt is, or if maybe you might want to be a Modern Quilter, or if maybe you already are a Modern Quilt maker and just don't know it, or if the concept of just making fun quilts and getting together with other people who like to make fun quilts and just hang out and inspire each other intrigues you - here's what Modern Quilting is (taken from The Modern Quilt

What is Modern Quilting?
"Modern quilting is a new twist on the traditional art of quilting. This may mean something as simple as using a traditional quilt block and updating it in a fresh fun new way. That includes using modern fabrics, modifying the block arrangement or even the scale of the block.   The piecing could be improvisational and wonky, or it could be very exact and measured, following a pattern or creating your own. The quilting could be traditional stippling, clean straight lines or a very “free” have fun, quilt as you go style. Fabrics could be upcycled vintage sheets, custom digital printed fabric, a yummy selection from one of the new modern fabric designers, or an old fabric from an ever growing stash.

Modern quilting is sometimes difficult to define because in many ways the definition is as individual as the quilter – changing from quilter to quilter. In addition to reflecting the individual personality and personal style of the quilter it also reflects the current aesthetic of the day.

Modern quilting is also about the attitude and the approach that modern quilters take. It respects the amazing artistry and talent of the tradition of quilting, while allowing the quilter to challenge the “rules”. In fact, if there were one rule in modern quilting it would be that there are no rules.

The concept of modern quilting is not meant to divide or segregate. It is meant to welcome new quilters, of all ages, to the world of quilting in a style that they can relate to. In many ways, modern quilting takes us back to the basics of the early quilters, when women of the day used the colors and styles of their time to express themselves creatively."

If this sounds delightful to you, check out and take a look at the type of quilts they're making, read a little, and then shoot me an e-mail.  I don't have a real sense for exactly how this will all play out, but I'm pretty sure they're a lot of quilters in our geographic area - SW Minnesota, NE Iowa and the LaCrosse area- who might be ready for something else.

till later ~ Angela

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Just be Creative

I woke up the other morning feeling like a 12 year old on the first Saturday of summer vacation.  Do you remember how exhilarating  that was?  My first thoughts were of my studio and the amazing new fabrics I'd picked up at Quilt Market in Minneapolis and the ideas that have been floating in and out of my mind for their use.
I met Terrie Mangat, an artist from near Taos, New Mexico at Market.  Her booth was filled with her complex embellished and painterly art quilts and stacks of her fabrics from Free Spirit.  The fabrics in Terrie's booth were part of her display for selling her patterns and art quilts.  She was warm, open and friendly and she graciously sold me one yard cuts of the fabrics she had on hand after only a small amount of whining on my part.  I'm so intrigued by the colors and patterns she uses.  You'll recognize the Catholic images - Terrie was brought up Catholic, and she loves the richness of the traditional imagery.  If you're interested in more about her - will take you there!

As a backup creative option for the day, I thought I could work the the afghan I'm knitting for my son using Manos hand dyed wools.  I felt real good about my plans for the day!
Then reality took a huge bite out of it!  I don't know about you, but I've got this hang-up about "playing" when my "work" isn't done.  Lately my work has been getting our house ready for showing to sell, and then keeping it show ready during daily living.  You may be laughing at this point, but I have a plan I've named Operation Clean House.  I've been sorting and packing each room as I do a super cleaning.  Once that room is clean, Operation Clean House rules go into effect for that room.  I've only got three more rooms to sort, pack and clean for the whole house to be under OCH.  The rules of Operation Clean House are simple:  Put it back where it belongs when you are done with it, make the bed and no stacks on horizontal surfaces.
Today's room to be cleaned was my bathroom, darn it!  There went my creative dreams for the day.  I think a lot of that carefree joy we felt as kids was because somebody else was doing all the work.  My Big Goal is to get ALL of my house ready to show.  Then no one is going to find me because I'm going to be holed up in my studio just being creative!

If you'd like to see my house it's here.
I hope you have a lovely creative day without any housework!


Thursday, June 10, 2010

Blog Designs

Do you love to rearrange your furniture all the time?  My mother did, and I think it scarred me permanently.  Other kids were outside eating Twinkies and I was stuck inside pushing the heavy end of some sort of furniture.  The midnight trip to the one bathroom  (and we were darned glad for it ~ you coddled generation of three) in the house could prove deadly when you were half awake.  I think all my adult foot problems are truly related to the jammed toes I suffered as a child.  Really.

For the 40 years of renting or owning my own abode, I've become known for my refusal to rearrange any of my furnishings - ever.  Not for family parties, not for Christmas, not ever, don't even mention it in my presence.  I may torture my moving friends, but primarily my husband, for hours upon hours of moving this to there and maybe back again, or just a half a foot to the left, in a new house but I'll tell you what, once I've got the layout of a room just so, it's pretty darned good.  And that's just where everything is going to stay until I move or die!

But joy upon joy, Blogger has done a marvelous thing.  They've come up with some darned snazzy new templates and more backgrounds and color collections than I can hardly stand to think about.  I just spent the evening messing around with new designs and layouts while DH watched a thriller he swore he hadn't seen, but had, which he confessed as the credits rolled.  I barely scratched the surface of this new treasure trove for bloggers during those two hours.

So, be honest ~ what do you think of the new digs?  BTW, I'm sure I'll be breaking a mess of blogging rules, but dang it, I'm going to make up for all that furniture I never shoved around rooms and I'm changing the decor of this blog every time I get the itch for something new.  Without getting sweaty or stubbing my toes!

'Till later ~ Angela

Monday, June 7, 2010

Were There Rules?

I've determined to keep on top of this blog - to do it right.  When I was attempting to write the blog for Yellow Bird Art I found some major incompetencies in my ability to be consistent.  So in beginning Summer Kitchen Quilts I thought, in a vague, but well intentioned manner to shoot for improvement.

Yesterday, I decided to conduct a bit of internet research on ways to do just that.  Wow, did I ever get an eye-opener!  All, this time I've foolishly thought that writing a blog was a rather informal method of communication.  The blogs I've read and enjoyed give a snapshot of everyday life in such a lovely variety of homes and businesses not just here in the US, but around the world.  Visiting and reading my favorite blogs has been a delicious treat when the time was available.

What I learned was that there are hundreds, and I mean hundreds of rules about blogging.  I was horrified to learn that thus far I've been doing it all wrong.  Here are just a few of my gastly errors:
  1. The design of your blog should be completed before you push that little "Publish Post" button.  Silly me, I thought I could gradually make improvements as we moved forward.  One of my strengths is flying by the seat of my pants, so do I need to reform?  BTW, anyone know what that means?
  2. Select neutral color themes.  Oh, before I forget, my color scheme is too wild.  Huh?
  3. Your font sends a message.  I really blew it because I didn't consider the subtle message I was sending (elegant, serious, artistic, playful, etc.) through my choice of font.  You're reading this particular font because sure as shootin', I will forget between one blog post and another what font I had selected, which could probably imply some sort of serious psychiatric condition which isn't being treated, so I just use the default font.
  4. Give careful consideration to the name of your blog.  Again, silly me - I just thought since I'll have a workshop in the authentic 1896 summer kitchen at our new old house that "Summer Kitchen Quilts" would work.  You know, I could have hired people to develop my blog's name.
  5. Have a clearly defined theme for your blog.  To correct that mistake ~ I figured this one out easily ~ my theme is the story of a woman attempting to fulfill her artistic dreams while keeping clean underware in her husband's dresser.
  6. Plan the topics for each blog post in advance, and those topics should be related to the overall theme of your blog.  Cripes, if I was that organized (not that I don't wish I was, but at 61 you learn to gracefully accept some things about yourself) I'd know what I'm eating for dinner tonight.
  7. Blog posts need to be carefully edited.  Well, I do try to be diligent about this, but you know how that goes.  You read and re-read over and over, and until you post it, you never notice the fatal flaws. 
  8. You can use some photos or pictures, but don't over do it, it's visually confusing.  The blogs I adore have loads of photos!  It's what attracts me to them.  Exactly how do these "experts" become such experts?  Wasn't the point of blogs, the joy of blogs, supposed to be the freedom of creating a blog that reflects your personality?
  9. Be regular in your blog posts.  Ok, I'll go with this one - it just makes sense.  However, I really don't think it necessary for me to post every Sunday, regardless.  What if life has the audacity to get in the way?  Will you still love me if I post on Saturday or Monday that week instead?  Does your life ever seem to get out of control like mine?  My good intentions at this point are to post once a week.  But you never can tell, something exciting may happen before Sunday that I'll want to share with you, so be on the lookout for surprise posts!
  10. Don't post long lists.
I'd really love to hear some of your blogging tips.  What are some of your favorite blog features?  Do you have any pet peeves?

My best to you all and thanks so much for reading!
P.S. Thanking your readers and asking them questions is recommended.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Heart of my Heart

So, where on earth have I been as of late?  Why mostly right here at home, sleeping, or in the ER, ICU or in my doctor's office.  The past two months of my life have been a medical adventure which began this way...

For about three weeks beginning the end of March, I noticed that both of my ankles were swelling quite a bit.  By morning, the right ankle would look normal again, but the naughty left ankle still remained looking as though it belonged to an elephant.  Fortunately, the ankle was not gray or wrinkly.  It was just huge and puffy.  In the back of my mind I thought I ought to check it out, but my VBF, Val had flown from Indiana with her mother, my "little mom" Dolores, for a lovely 10 day visit, and I thought the clinic visit could wait until they returned home.  A little voice (there is a lesson here, so pay attention) in the back of my mind kept bothering me, so I decided to call my pharmacist to inquire whether any of my prescribed medications could possibly be causing this puffy ankle incident.
 My lovely pharmacist, Danette Gibbs (whom I now refer to as my "Angel Pharmacist") listened carefully to my description of the ugly and uncomfortable Puffy Ankle syndrome, and assured me that none of the medications I take could be the cause.  Then, with slow and clear ennunciation, and a very firm tone of voice, Danette told me that I MUST call my primary doctor as soon as I ended my call with her, and further instructed that I MUST see my doctor today, ASAP, because the swelling of one limb can be a sign of - HEART FAILURE!  Let me tell you, those two words will grab your attention and not let go!  So I did as instructed, and my doctor's nurse said I needed to get to the office ASAP - like NOW!  Which I did.

Another lesson for today, is that when you visit your doctor and notice that everyone at the office is hopping around you and a number of people are doing things to you simultaneously, something is not right.  I was shot up to Cardiology for an EKG and promptly returned to my doctor with the paper in hand.  Well, Dr. Kitty Howells (how can you not love a doctor named Kitty Howells?), explained, I had atrial fibrillation, which is an early stage of heart failure. 

That means that the atrial chambers of your darling heart, instead of beating with nice, solid, regular beats, spend their time making little fluttering irregular and fast beats.  Put your hands out in front of you and flutter your fingers around - that's sort of what's happening.  The big deal with this is that the heart is beating inefficiently, and blood isn't being moved around in your body the way God designed it to.  Those fat ankles of mine?  Pooled blood because my heart beat wasn't strong and regular enough to move the blood up my legs.  And the really bad thing is that you have a very increased chance of having a stroke because the blood can pool in the heart and form nasty clots that can shoot to your brain and leave you in a pitiful condition. You can look up atrial fibrillation on Google if you want to learn more.  And to make this experience even more fun, the following Sunday I had all the symptoms of a heart attack and was admitted to St. Francis Medical Center in La Crosse for a couple of days!  I even got to stay in the ICU.  Great nurses and care at St. Francis - it's the best!

So, I began taking coumidin (blood thinner - want to prevent clots) and metoprol (it reduces the rate of heartbeat - sort of like putting a governor on your kid's car so he can't drive over 50mph) to hold my heart's rate down (hopefully below 100 beats per minute) during the a fib incidents.  Jolly right, you say.  However, the 48 hour heart monitor I wore revealed that my heart is in a fib 41% of the time.  So, the docs say to increase the metoprol.  That was until I documented a weekend in **!l where I'd just come out of an a fib incident (mine last 2 - 3 hours or so) and then go right into another one.  By the way, a fib incidents leave you feeling weak, dizzy, a little sick, nauseous, headache.... awful!  These a fib attacks were so bad that my fingernails and toenails all turned blue..... over and over and over.  It was a bit unnerving.  Oh, did I mention that my husband was off in Canada fishing and I was at home alone - in the country - 30 minutes from the nearest town?  I think it must have been lack of oxygen to the brain (this also happens) because I was never frightened and never had the thought that I ought to call someone!
 My heart was having a party like a 17 year old when parents are gone for the weekend.  This is an experience you really don't want to share!

The Monday after the party, I called my doctor and fortunately, got right in.  None of us know how I managed to have the good sense to have my daughter, Amy, drive me to LaCrosse, but it did happen, thank the Lord.
And wouldn't you just know that as we walked into the clinic, I started to see stars and the hallway began swirling around, and someone grabbed a wheelchair and plopped me down into it and I got zoomed into the exam room.  I got to have the mother of all the a fib incidents of my big adventure, and my doc was able to get a lovely EKG printout of it - glory!  She called Cardiology and they said to give me some fast acting metoprol, get my heart rate stabilized and send me on home with a new increased dosage to further slow down my heart rate.  I'm glad a good doctor told me long ago that medicine is an inexact science and that much of it is trial and error.  Excellent reason for clean communication with your doctor!.

 Several people have asked me if I've been frightened throughout all of this.   I've not felt any fear throughout all of this because 30 years ago I asked forgiveness of my sins, and asked Jesus Christ to be my savior and I know that when I pass from this place, I will go to my real and eternal home with Him.  If you've wondered if Jesus is real, He is.  If you've wondered if He loves you, He does.  If you think your sins are so big that He can't or won't forgive you, He will and He does.  I want you to know and understand that God the Father has known you before time eternal began, before the earth and everything seen and unseen was formed and He has always loved you and will continue to love you.  He loves you so much that He has given you free will - the right to ask Him for forgiveness and eternal life, and also the right to turn your back on Him and live your life as you please.  I can tell you that having lived a life without Him and in sin (I matured in the 60's, your imagination can fill in the rest), that there is a huge difference in my life since I met Him as my Lord and Savior.  My life now is joyful, peaceful and complete.  This is not to imply without trial, because we all share that, but I have a source of strength, courage and love to run to in my times of trouble.  If you need hope and healing in your life, it is so simple.  With all your heart, ask forgiveness of your sins, ask Jesus to be your Lord and Savior, and then begin your new life.  Find a good Christian church, read your Bible, find a Bible study.  Contact me if you want more info!

Now, back to the a fib story.......

It's all about timing - heart timing in my case.  The new metoprol dosage was certainly doing its job of keeping my heart rate down.  My heart rate was so slow that I've basically been sleeping for the past two weeks.  Not kidding.  I'd get a phone call, and fall asleep listening to whoever had called!  I couldn't make it through a page of reading, or a bit of television.  What?  a blog called Summer Kitchen Quilts?  You gotta be kidding.  I'd have to head over to the bed for a bit of rest or find myself dozing off sitting up.  You could say my timing has been all off.
So, DH and I have been to see the clinic cardiologist who specializes in heart electronics, and I'm beginning a new drug which (hopefully) will deal with the poor rhythm of my heart.  I take my first dose tonight.  You should also know that atrial fibrillation is the most common heart condition, and normally easily managed.

I'm hopeful.  I'm positive.  I'm profoundly grateful.  God is wonderful and His love is boundless.  I'm not giving up on anything, but putting some plans on the back burner to just simmer for a bit while we get my heart back on track

With a heart full of love to you!

 If you want to know more about Jesus......