Monday, February 28, 2011

No quilting yet!

I'm still working on fighting the elected dictator we have here in Wisconsin.

If you want to know what this is about, click here:

I doubt I'll be doing much if any quilting until this thing is resolved. I did start knitting a pair of arm warmers for Jo--I can do that while watching the news.



"It's about real people vs. really rich people."

Thursday, February 24, 2011


It's not quite Friday here but I won't have time tomorrow to post. I was reading other people's blogs and I realized---in the midst of all the mental chaos of politics, I forgot to say that my Jo has come home! She flew in from Austin yesterday, Don picked her up at the airport since I had to work, and she got home around 9 pm--tired and travel weary and we are all so glad she's here. At the end of March, she takes off for Bulgaria for another try at the Peace Corps. We'll enjoy her beautiful laugh for the next few weeks.

That's my FTF--having Jo back home.

What's really happening in Wisconsin

I haven't been on this blog to even read the other posts all week now. I've been entirely focused on the tremendous developments here in Wisconsin--listening to the news, reading on-line papers of all sorts, emailing my representatives, discussing the situation with friends, etc.

To me, this fight is all about the future of representative government in this state, and possibly in this country! I never thought I'd be witnessing such a thing in my lifetime--but I am!

There are powerful wealthy forces at work which are determined to increase their share of the wealth of this state at the expense of the average citizen. Our governor has authorized millions of dollars in additional tax breaks to the wealthiest individuals and corporations in this state (where more than 60% of businesses pay ZERO taxes!) and has forfeited nearly $100 million in federal monies. If his budget proposal is passed, we'll be losing nearly $50 million more in Federal transportation monies! Now, he complains that the state has a budget deficit that needs to be taken care of before July 1, 2011.

He wants public employees to balance our budget shortfall by taking a 7% hit in wages and benefits on top of the 3% we already took in the past 2 years. Guess what? The top unions HAVE agreed to do that and Gov. still won't compromise on this bill. That's because his bill is about union busting, not correcting the deficit! In this bill, which I have read in it's entirety, 56% of the pages are devoted to dismantling the unions. In that way, ALL public governments from the State to the County to the City and Village, including the School Boards, will have the ability to fire and lay off staff willy-nilly!

If the unions are busted, they will no longer be able to make significant contributions to political campaigns as in the past. The national unions are the only organized groups which have the money to make a difference and their contributions are competing with millions (billions?) of political contributions that come from the wealthiest people and corporations through their conservative PACS. So, what this fight boils down to is:

preserving the ability of the PEOPLE to have balanced political campaigns so rational and intelligent decisions can be made.

If the only source of political contributions is from the ultra conservative and libertarian groups, how does the average Joe sift through the hype and know what the real issues are?

In a taped conversation that was revealed yesterday, Gov. Walker believed he was speaking with one of the wealthiest men in the USA, a man who contributed significantly to Walker's campaign last year. Walker speaks freely about planting agitators among the demonstrators to stir up trouble but has refrained only because it may backfire on him politically. He jokes about keeping a baseball bat in his office in case he needs it. There are many other things in the conversation that make my stomach turn--if you haven't heard it yet, go here for the transcript:

Regardless of your political orientation, please, pay attention to what's happening here in the Midwest. If you value democracy and representative government, you MUST support the protesters. If you can join the demonstrations this weekend in your state capital, I urge you to do so!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Democracy in Action in Wisconsin

All week, I've been consumed with the demonstrations and protests that have erupted all over Wisconsin in response to Gov. Walker's budget "repair" proposal. Under the guise of needing to balance the state budget, he's demanding that all public workers in Wisconsin pay up to 12 times more for health insurance and up to 6 times more for the pension plan and also, stripping our rights to organize in labor unions. Each day this week, increasing numbers of people have been peacefully gathering at the state capital, 13,000 the first day, 40,000 today and who knows how many will show up this weekend! People have held smaller but still peaceful demonstrations in communities all over the state as well. Today, the head of the largest public employee union agreed to the increase in payments in exchange for taking collective bargaining off the table. The Governor said (in so many words) "Hell No!" letting everyone know that his goal is truly to bust the union.

I've been a public servant--I don't consider myself merely an employee--for most of my working life. I feel it a privilege to provide service to the people of this state. I'm proud of the work that I do and I am outraged at this move by the governor to destroy our unions! There is increasing evidence that this plan to bust the unions is underwritten by very wealthy and powerful individuals in this country in order to have an overriding influence in the 2012 national elections.

Does the statement I just wrote sound a little paranoid ? I think it does, but believe me, it's true. I have been listening to National and Wisconsin Public Radio every chance I have, before and after work, watching the news in the evening, reading the mainstream newspapers on line and trying to keep up with the progress of this movement. My head aches sometimes with it all!

What is happening here will have an influence all over the country. Not only public workers are in danger of losing collective bargaining rights, but all workers. Over a hundred years ago, American workers struggled, fought, and died for the right to organize for better working conditions and now the conservatives want to take that away from all of us.

I am witnessing an historic moment. Forgive me if I'm not too concerned with quilting just now. When this is all settled out, I'll go back to my sewing but right now, I have other things to do.

I'll be in touch.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

I had a mini-marathon quilting day yesterday. After my errands and chores were finished, I worked on quilting for the rest of the day. This is the finished blue table runner that I pieced for my little quilting class a couple of weeks ago.

You can't see any of the quilting on it except for a couple of wavy lines along the sides. These are the spines for some fronds I quilted.

I ordered the 2 Diane Gaudynski books on home machine quilting and after studying them a great deal, I decided to use this topper as a sampler and try some of her techniques. My work is nowhere near as good as Diane's but I was quite pleased at how it turned out for a first timer. Here's the back of the topper and I think you can see more detail:

That bump in the center is my attempt at a bird! ;-)
I used a total of 6 of Diane's designs and I will be doing more of this, I think, in order to get better. I've never quilted this densely before because I thought it would give me a very stiff quilt, so I was very surprised after it was washed at how pliable it is.
I also finished putting the borders on the RRCB quilt top. That pieced border took a looooooong time to put together and stitch on. I still am very pleased with how the mystery quilt turned out. I'll put it aside for now and do the quilting later. I have a couple of things that I need to get done in the next few weeks and then I'll be doing some machine quilting on the three tops that are waiting for me. (And I said once that I would NEVER have UFOs lying around the house! Ha!) Here's a pix of the folded top on my dining table--it's so huge that I don't have floor space to lay it out and it's way too nasty outside to hang it from a railing.
Ignore that little circle on the table on the left side. Shortly after I got the table, "some one" set a small cannister of bug spray there and, Voila!, I got a permanent circle on the table. Grrrrrr! I'm waiting for MORE damage to the top before I refinish it. If I have to refinish it, it may as well be because it REALLY needs it!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Favorite Things Friday

Hmmmm. What is my FTF this week? Could it be. . . being at home on a Friday instead of at work? YES! I believe that's it.

In January, I started having every Monday and Friday off and I absolutely love having the time to do the things I want to without having to rush out the door in order to arrive at work at a reasonable time. That's my FTF today--time.

I wish I could have had this parttime schedule a long time ago--I wonder how or if my life would have been different. I like to think that I would have been a more calm and relaxed person when the kids were younger, and would have mastered some of the things I'm still trying to learn--quilting, cooking, gardening. I would have been more well read--I've only started to pick up the occasional novel again and I like it a lot. I think I would have devoted more time to my friends and would have developed more new friends instead of hanging onto the old ones, who I love dearly, because it's simpler that way. I like to think I would have stayed physically fit longer--it's hard to find the time to workout either before work or after and I've neglected that for a long time.

No matter. The past is gone. Now that I do have the leisure time, I want to use it doing the things I have not done for so many years. Starting today!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

What a Day

I've been gone from work since last Tuesday and I was hit with a couple of huge bricks when I got to work this morning. First I learned that the elderly husband of our recently retired receptionist had died last Saturday of the cancer he'd been battling for the last year or two. She was looking forward to spending a few years with her husband before he passed on and instead she only got a few weeks. My heart goes out to her. Married 62 years to the same person--I can't imagine the adjustment she'll have to make and I hope she's going to be okay.

Not an hour later, I got an email from a good friend telling me that a former co-worker of mine from the old days in Duluth had died unexpectedly last Friday night. We'd worked together for a few years and then went our separate ways. He started a very successful business and for a year or so I worked for him but then I parted and started my business as well. I remember him saying to me, "Stick with me, work hard, and when we retire, we'll vacation in Tahiti." My response was that I wanted to spend my time now with my kids in my own back yard--Tahiti could wait. Did he ever make it to Tahiti? I hope so. This man was only a few months older that me. Makes me wonder if I'm making the best use of my time . I think I am, but I'll make more of an effort to do the things I want to do and be the person I want to be.

Third bombshell of the day came at lunch. One of my co-workers is pregnant for the second time. I hope all goes well for her since her other child is severely disabled and needs a great deal of care. No one has been able to tell his parents the cause of his condition so there's no way of knowing if the second child will be disabled or not. With all my heart, I hope not. This young couple already has so much stress in their lives.

Wow. What a day. My quilt guild is meeting tonight and I was debating whether or not to go on such a blustery and cold evening. After such startling and sad news today, I believe I need to be with the guild for a while.