Sunday, 23 February 2014

Work in Progress: The Bluenose II Pixel Quilt - Part 5

It's -29C (-20F) outside right now, with a wind chill of -36C (-33F). Hopefully, this is winter's last hurrah. It was a few degrees warmer when I was out running the snowblower, but my glasses still fogged up and my face had a bit of a "burn" to it when I came inside. I resisted the impulse to lick my lips while outside. They felt very dry and stiff, but I knew if I licked them, they would probably end up frostbitten. As it was, I felt my hands stick slightly to the metal doorknob when I took off my mitten to open the door to the garage. At least I managed to keep my hands warm this time as I wore two pairs of mittens. One pair is never enough. Anyway the snowblowing is done for now, though with my glasses frosted up, it was hard to tell how good of a job I was doing. Dare I hope that that will be the last snowfall this season?
As I was out there working, I suddenly smelled a strange, yet somehow familiar smell. Initially I wondered if something was going wrong with the snowblower. Then I thought maybe it was cigar smoke. Finally I realized what it really was: marijuana! It's been years since I smelled it, so it took a while for me to recognize it. Seriously, someone was out toking in minus 20 something weather??? My daughter had made a run to the store and when she got home, she said that it smelled as strong as if someone had been smoking up right in our driveway. And it did. It reminded me of my first apartment. Prior to moving in, I was not aware that there were a lot of university students living in that building. Sometimes the "pot" smell was so strong that it seemed like someone had been smoking up in my apartment. I thought those days were over. As far as I know, there are no university students living in my neighbourhood. Obviously, there's at least one pot-smoker, however.
Prior to snowblowing, I managed to finish 3 blocks of row 3 on the pixel quilt. When I had most of the pieces of the first two blocks (which again, I worked as one) on the design wall, my daughter took a look at it and said something like, "It almost drives me crazy just looking at it." I don't think a pixel quilt is in her future. <smile>

I didn't finish as much of it as I would like. I wanted to get more done during the week, so that I could actually finish a row in one week. <sigh> Sometimes I just don't feel motivated to go downstairs and quilt. And because this one is quite tedious, it takes more motivation than other quilts. I did look through my stash this week and choose some fabrics to use in the corner blocks of the border, but I'll share those later.
I have to admit that I'm starting to really like how it's looking. You can see the sail on the left developing now. It still amazes me how the bunch of random blocks in the top photo can produce the picture in the bottom photo when you step back to take a look. Once this row is finished, I'll be halfway through the pixel top. And it should look even more like a schooner.
I have been using grey cotton thread for the piecing on this quilt, but I was having problems with the bobbin and not really happy with the colour. So I finally decided to switch bobbins and colours. However, I couldn't find my beige cotton thread. I'm sure it will turn up eventually, but in the moving to the basement process, some items have temporarily disappeared. However, I could find my Superior cones of beige polyester thread that I purchased at the Creative Stitches show last fall. I had purchased them with the intent of using them for machine quilting on my domestic machine. However I have more or less given up on machine quilting at home since I discovered renting a long arm. So why not use them for piecing? I felt almost guilty in doing it, but my Janome really likes it. I'll have to do more research on this topic.
During the sewing process, I somehow managed to knock my scissors flying and, in trying to grab them, I somehow managed to stab my left thumb with them. Ouch! It's quite a gash. A thumb is not a very easy place to keep a bandaid on, so I ended up resorting to New-Skin liquid bandage. Unfortunately, that stung in an open cut. 
After coming in from snowblowing, I had a bite to eat and watched a couple of episodes of The Waltons. It's kind of funny, but my not quite 18-month-old grandson has become a real Waltons fan. He will actually sit down and watch it, something he doesn't usually do even with the children's videos we have.
The Winter Olympics are over for another 4 years. While I'm really not a sports fan, I still like to see Team Canada do well. And I'm quite pleased with the results. Especially hockey. I heard that bars here in the West (Alberta and Saskatchewan) were given special licenses to open at 5:00 this morning in order to accommodate the people who wanted to go there to watch The Game, i.e. the men's gold medal hockey game between Canada and Sweden.  I'm not a drinker and have never even been in a bar, but I still think that's pretty funny. I wonder how many people know that before 1994 hockey was not our national sport. Lacrosse was, and continues to be our national summer sport, as of the National Sports of Canada Act, 1994. In that year, ice hockey became our national winter sport. It was about time. Every Canadian recognized hockey as our unofficial national sport. I don't know how many Canadians actually know what lacrosse is. It's not even an Olympic sport, though it was in 1904 & 1908, and Canada won gold both times.
Well, that's enough babbling for now. Time to get to bed. Back to work tomorrow.

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Movie Review: A Greater Yes

Full title: A Greater Yes - The True Story of Amy Newhouse

The description on the jacket of this movie is compelling. Unfortunately, the jacket promised more than the movie delivered. "After climbing Pampa High School's popularity chain, taking her volleyball team to the State championship, and founding the school's first drugs, alcohol and violence-free club (none of which is portrayed in the movie), Amy Newhouse must now fight the biggest battle of her life - cancer." Later in the description: "However, with her death comes life and redemption of Pampa High, as her club grows exponentially, redeeming the school of the once-rampant violence, drugs, and alcohol that she so passionately fought against." Again, none of this is portrayed in the movie. Instead we see Amy befriending a loner/loser who she witnessed stealing the student council money. By the end of the movie, he replaces the money.
What this movie needed was a lot more grit. There are serious issues that could have been dealt with and would have given this movie a lot more depth. The characters were not well-developed and the lead character came off as somewhat of an obnoxious, arrogant twit. I didn't even get to like her well enough to be sad when she died. "God always answers my prayers," she said more than once during the movie, implying that she always got a "Yes" as if somehow she was more special to God than others. That really rubbed me the wrong way. God answers all faithful prayers (and even a lot of doubting ones), but the answer is sometimes "No" and sometimes "Wait." God is not a cosmic vending machine where you put in your prayers and God dispenses the answer you selected. No, He loves us too much to give us an answer that is not in our best interests, and we need to submit to His will. Even Jesus prayed, "Not My will, but Thine be done." It's a bit of a paradox that we can pray in faith, but realize that God may not answer the way we desire. That's one of the things that was lacking in this movie, until the very end when Amy didn't have any choice but to accept the fact that she was dying. God, in His infinite wisdom, does allow people to die, and it is not expressing a lack of faith to submit to the fact that healing might not be in His plan for someone. I know from personal experience, having lost a niece at 6 years of age, my brother at age 57 and my mother at 73. All of these family members were much prayed for, but God said "No."
At the beginning of the movie, Amy seems to lead a charmed life: a perfect Christian family, a perfect boyfriend, and when she needs to raise $3000 to go to Africa, she gets the full amount from one woman. And of course, God always answers her prayers. It's all a little too syrupy for me and definitely not a life that the average person in the universe can relate to. My daughter was watching with me and disliked the movie and the lead character right from the start. And unfortunately, little of this movie is the "true story." You can see the real Amy's obituary here: Amy Newhouse Obituary. In it you will find that she came from a broken home, with both parents remarried and living in different towns from both each other and Amy. Her mother and husband are listed as "of Amarillo," her father and wife as "of Clarendon," while Amy is listed as "of Pampa." Who on earth was Amy living with? Now that's some grit that lots of us can relate to. Instead of portraying her as the cheesy girl from the perfect family, why didn't the producers show us who she really was? There are lots of teens who could have more effectively been reached by this movie if they knew Amy hadn't actually lived the perfect life before having the misfortune to die of cancer. Furthermore, in a comment on another review of this movie (The Practical Passion of 'A Greater Yes'), a real life schoolmate of Amy's says that she doesn't remember either Jordan (the loner/loser that Amy helped in the movie) or Tyler (Amy's boyfriend). In other words, they probably didn't exist. While I respect the rights of an author/script-writer to add fictional people and situations to an otherwise true story to create more appeal or drama or whatever, from the sounds of it, the real life Amy led had plenty of drama without fictionalizing most of the story. And leaving out a big part of it: the volleyball state championship, the drugs/alcohol/violence-free club, and so on. When Amy actually addresses an issue at her school during a presentation on her trip to Africa, it appears to be apathy that she's confronting, not drugs, alcohol or violence.
The acting was rather lame in this movie. My daughter said that it reminded her of her high school drama class and that it obviously was a budget movie. Oh, and the shot of Tyler putting a rose on Amy's headstone - that's definitely not a new grave he was on. And headstones are not usually added until after the grave has had a chance to settle. Why didn't they show both him and Jordan at her funeral instead? Surprisingly enough, for a movie centred around a young girl dying of cancer, there is no death scene, nor funeral scene.
While I admire the goals of Pure Flix Entertainment in producing Christ-centred movies, I'm sorry to say this one was a disappointment. It really didn't move me, and my daughter was bored. It is not necessary to avoid issues like drugs/alcohol/violence and broken homes in order to qualify as a Christian movie. From the sounds of it, the real Amy Newhouse deserved a better movie than this.

A Different Perspective

Working on my pixel quilt, I felt frustrated and disappointed that it looks more like a random bunch of different coloured squares of fabric than the Bluenose II. I want it to be recognizable. It's a lot of work and I want to be pleased with the results. And then I took a picture of my progress. Looking at the quilt through the camera's lens gave me a different perspective and I could see the development of the clouds and the tops of the sails and I was much happier. Pixel quilts need to be viewed from a distance in order to get the effect of the pixels coming together to form a picture. I only needed the right perspective. 
Our lives can be like pixel quilts. We can be trudging through life, feeling unloved and unsuccessful, a disappointment to ourselves, to others and to God. Sometimes we wonder how we'll ever make it to heaven, because we keep falling and failing. Like the pixel quilt, our lives appear to be a random mess, frustrating and disappointing. It can even lead to disgust and despair. But that is looking at our lives through our own eyes. God has a different perspective. One of my favourite Christian authors (Ellen G. White) writes: "(Christ) knew that the life of His trusting disciples would be like His, a series of uninterrupted victories, not seen to be such here, but recognized as such in the great hereafter." The Desire of Ages , page 679. I don't know about you, but I certainly don't see my life as a "series of uninterrupted victories," But that apparently is how God sees it, because when I am surrendered to Jesus, it's Jesus that is seen, and not me. And He gives me the victory. Zechariah, chapter 3, tells this story: "Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the Angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to oppose him. And the Lord said to Satan, 'The Lord rebuke you, Satan! The Lord who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is this not a brand plucked from the fire?” Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and was standing before the Angel. Then He answered and spoke to those who stood before Him, saying, “Take away the filthy garments from him.” And to him He said, “See, I have removed your iniquity from you, and I will clothe you with rich robes.” ' (verses 1-4). Joshua represents us. The filthy garments represent our sins, our attempts at doing good, trying to earn our own way to heaven. And the rich robes represent Jesus' righteousness, which He grants to us if we surrender to Him. 
Furthermore, as Ellen White states, "It is not the will of our heavenly Father that we should be ever under condemnation and darkness. There is no evidence of true humility in going with the head bowed down and the heart filled with thoughts of self. We may go to Jesus and be cleansed, and stand before the law without shame and remorse. “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” Romans 8:1" The Great Controversy, page 477.
1 John 1: 9 tells us, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."
So rejoice! We have a Saviour who loves us, who cleanses us and gives us the rich robes of His righteousness. And makes our lives a series of uninterrupted victories through faith in His name. And that's looking at things from God's perspective.

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Work in Progress: The Bluenose II Pixel Quilt - Part 4

Hurray! I've got the second row done!
Here it is in a smaller picture so that you can see the detail coming out.
I really love looking at it through the camera's lens so I can see the picture taking shape. I must confess that it can take me several hours to do a more complicated block like this one:
This is block 5 of row two. It's really challenging making sure I get the right colours in the right places. And some of the colours are so similar that it can be very difficult keeping track of them. I've started sewing in smaller bits so that I can keep them in order, especially if they fall off the design wall. I've discovered that having a sheet covering the closet opening does not work very well. Every time I need something from the closet, I knock fabric off the sheet. This might not be so bad if the blocks are already sewn together, but if they're just bits and pieces of fabric, it can mean chaos. So I put another design wall above my sewing machine. That's where I'm keeping the pieces of the block I'm currently working on. 
We have this metal rack at work that we keep our various paper forms on. I think that would be a great idea for keeping the fabric organized while I'm working on this quilt. That way I wouldn't have to keep rummaging through the stack of fabric. Sixty-six different fabrics! I wonder if they'd miss it if I snuck it out of the office. LOL!
So, more than 1/3 of the pixel top is done. I say "more than" because, while it is 2 rows out of 6, the top row is 13 inches deep, so if I calculate by inches, it's 23 inches out of 63 or 0.365. :-) It's a good feeling to have this much done, but it's taking me around 2 weeks to get a row done. And I'm almost dreading the last two rows, which are the water. There aren't really any large sections that are the same fabric, so these rows will be very labour-intensive. <sigh> I'll be definitely glad to see this pixel top done. 
Today Sophia moved Damian's playpen into the basement so he can be with Grandma while I sew. It didn't work out very well. Playpens are boring. Being in Grandma's arms is not. 
So what have you been up to? Share your latest projects.
Here's my button:

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Show & Tell Guidelines 
  1. Link up any recent post that features your current creative project. And it can be a work in progress as well. 
  2. Please remember to link to your actual blog post, not your main blog page, so others don't have to search. 
  3. Somewhere in your blog post, you must link back to my blog or put the 'Show & Tell' button in your sidebar. 
  4. Please don't just add your link and go. Check out a few of the other links and comment. The best idea is to check out the 3 or 4 links just previous to yours. That way every link will get visited. And maybe you'll pick up a few new followers along the way. 
  5. You don't have to follow me to post your link on my blog, but that would be much appreciated. 
  6. Have fun. This is a party after all.

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Work in Progress: The Bluenose II Pixel Quilt - Part 3

I didn't get as much accomplished with the pixel quilt today as I would have liked. I only got 2 blocks done and I actually worked them together as one since there was such a large area of the same colour. That at least makes it easier to throw the blocks together.
These are the first two blocks of the second row (you can see the top row in the top of the picture).
I didn't get much quilting done today because Sophia, Damian and I went to a 60th birthday party in a small hamlet about 15 minutes drive from our town. My ex-husband lives there and he was at the party as well. I think I must major in weird relationships. People really puzzle over my relationship with my ex. The pastor of the local Adventist church actually asked me if the ex and I were living together. He saw us come in the door at the same time and didn't see the ex arrive in a vehicle. No, I explained to the pastor, my ex lives here and he walked over. We do maintain an amicable relationship. Actually I choose to maintain an amicable relationship. Because we share a daughter and now a grandson, we are going to be in each others' lives for the remainder of our lives. So, why be enemies? If not for our daughter and grandson, I probably would have nothing more to do with him, not out of hatred, but just because there wouldn't be any reason to associate any more. But there's no harm in being friendly. I have no desire to ever be with him again as his partner, but being enemies is not in Sophia's and Damian's best interests. So, yes, occasionally we go out for supper together. We bought the birthday gift for today's party together. Yes, definitely weird, I know, but hey, it works for us.
But back to the birthday party, I was the MC for the party. I had to tease the "birthday girl" about us having a turtle race to see who was the slowest in producing each other's birthday gifts. I've been working on an afghan for her for about a year, while she's been working on a cross-stitch picture for me for a year and a half. This year, however, we got her e-gift cards from Herrschners, since they sell lots of cross-stitch supplies. We had fun. It was the first time pretty well everyone, except one friend, got to meet Damian. And they were suitably impressed, of course.
So now it's your turn to share what you've been working on.
Here's my button:

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Guidelines for Show & Tell
1. Link up any recent post that features your current creative project. And it can be a work in progress as well.
2. Please remember to link to your actual blog post, not your main blog page, so others don't have to search.
3. Somewhere in your blog post, you must link back to my blog or put the 'Show & Tell' button in your sidebar.
4. Please don't just add your link and go. Check out a few of the other links and comment. The best idea is to check out the 3 or 4 links just previous to yours. That way every link will get visited. And maybe you'll pick up a few new followers along the way.
5. You don't have to follow me to post your link on my blog, but that would be much appreciated.
6. Have fun. This is a party after all.

Thursday, 6 February 2014

Work in Progress: The Bluenose II Pixel Quilt, Part 2

I've finished the first row of this quilt. I really didn't think it looked like much yet until I saw it through the viewing screen on my camera. Then WOW, I could recognize the skyline and the top of the sails.
It's the distance that makes the difference. Up close, it just looks like a bunch of random different coloured squares. The smaller it is, the more defined the picture becomes:
As evidenced by this smaller picture, you can really begin to see what it's going to be. I was quite happy to see this through the camera's eye.
I'm finding this not only a time-consuming process, but it can be rather tedious. I have to be very alert and focused to get all the right squares in the right places. Cutting and sewing 1 inch squares - well, I must admit there's not a whole lot of joy in that. I can't say I will ever do another pixel quilt, but, like most techniques I've experimented with, I like to be able to say I've at least given it a try. Call it a quilter's "Bucket List." When I'm done this, I will be able to check off "Made a pixel quilt." <smile>
This row is 6 feet long, by the way. If I'd done it all in one inch squares, that would have been 936 squares, but, of course, I did as much as I could of the solid sections in larger pieces. Five more rows to go, but the remaining rows will only be 10 inches wide. This one is 13 because the pixel part of this quilt will be 63 inches wide, so the extra three inches were included in the top row. If I were to do the whole thing in 1 inch squares, that would be 4,536 squares. It's more than enough work the way I'm doing it. 
March 23 is my sister's birthday, so what are the chances that I will be able to have it done by then? 

Sunday, 2 February 2014

She Shoots, She Scores

The Bearly Hockey quilt is finished.
I bought this as a kit at Len's Mill Store when I was in London, Ontario last October. All I needed to add was the backing and batting. Here's the back:
(Those are my daughter's feet at the bottom of the quilt :-)). 
And here's a close up of the quilting and fabric:
Sorry, but the camera flash sort of whites out some of the detail of the bears. The quilting pattern is called Bumpity. It was the pantograph I learned on because it's quick and relatively easy. It was getting late in the day, I was getting tired and I knew I had to finish before closing time, so I opted for this pattern. 
Originally this quilt was supposed to go to a foster son of one of my nephews, when my nephew was allowed to adopt him. However, the little guy has been returned to his parents, so the adoption won't take place and he's no longer within my family circle. So, I'm ahead of the game where baby quilts are concerned. The next baby boy born or adopted in my family will probably receive this quilt. Unless his parents are, say, Edmonton Oiler fans. :-) If my grandson didn't already have multiple blankets, including a quilt that I made for his mother when she was a baby and the John Deere quilt I made for him, then he would get it. If I had wall space, I might just add a sleeve and hang it up. 
So, what have you been up to? Link up and share your projects. Here's my button:

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/albums/w583/september59/CatrsquosCrossing_zps2b7e332e.png ' style='border:none;'> </a>
Guidelines for Show & Tell
1. Link up any recent post that features your current creative project. And it can be a work in progress as well.
2. Please remember to link to your actual blog post, not your main blog page, so others don't have to search.
3. Somewhere in your blog post, you must link back to my blog or put the 'Show & Tell' button in your sidebar.
4. Please don't just add your link and go. Check out a few of the other links and comment. The best idea is to check out the 3 or 4 links just previous to yours. That way every link will get visited. And maybe you'll pick up a few new followers along the way.
5. You don't have to follow me to post your link on my blog, but that would be much appreciated.
6. Have fun. This is a party after all.

Saturday, 1 February 2014

The Agony of Separation

This is a horrible, painful weekend. For the first time since my daughter and grandson came to live with me, my grandson is spending the weekend with his father. The apple of my eye, the joy and delight of my heart is spending the whole weekend in an environment that is not the best nor the safest for a child, based on what my daughter has told me. I tried to convince her that she didn't have to allow this to happen. But she didn't want to deprive her son of seeing his father or vice versa, especially since it was his father's birthday. I believe my grandson's father frightened her into it, saying, "I don't want to have to go to court and see you lose custody." Not that that's ever going to happen. But she's afraid the courts will look unfavourably on her because she doesn't currently have a job. And nothing I can say can convince her otherwise. <sigh> So we are left to endure the agony of being separated from her son, not knowing how well he's being taken care of or if he's being treated well, what's going to happen to him if he's fussy or cries during the night. I hardly slept last night. This is so incredibly painful. I'm just surviving until Sunday night when we get him back. But will the father willingly part with him? I am only enduring by surrendering my grandson into the hands of the Lord, claiming my Heavenly Father's protection for my precious little man. 
In my distress, it has occurred to me that God endured the same thing in sending His Son to die for me. As omniscient, He knew in advance the abuse that would be heaped upon His Son, the horrible death He would die. And witness the agony of His Son in the Garden of Gethsemane, the agony of separation from His Father, when He cried out, "Father, if it is possible, take this cup away from Me." (see Matthew 26:36-45).
If there was anything, short of committing a crime, I could have reasonably done to prevent my grandson's separation from us yesterday, I would have. In all likelihood, he will be returned to us safe and sound on Sunday evening, hopefully none the worse for wear. Even so, if I could, I would never allow it to happen again. I am not willing to surrender my grandson to the dangers of being in that environment.
But God chose to send Jesus, knowing that abuse and death would be the outcome. Jesus did return to His Father, but both He and His Father had to endure unimaginable agony during Jesus' sojourn here. Yet God (Father, Son & Spirit) willingly endured it out of love for me. And you. Isaiah 53:11 says "He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied." And that is unfathomable love!