Thursday, December 13, 2012

Working Women

Most Wednesday mornings at my church, Living Word in New Port Richey, at 8:30 am, you'll find a group of working women. Maybe not such an unusual occurrence, but their energy and industry belies the fact that the great majority are of retirement age and some have been retired for 20 years or more.

They are the Women's Missionary Activities Group and they have been putting together simple patchwork quilts for those they know in Nursing Homes, or confined to their homes due to infirmity and to the missionaries supported by the church (more than 30) and their families. In recent years their products have reached groups of people they've never met in women's shelters, migrant worker camps and those receiving support services in their homes.

The process for putting together these quilts has always fascinated me.  First there is a shallow closet lined with boxes of fabrics already cut into squares, with like colors together. We have several talented people who lay out quilt tops using the squares.  Most often the pattern is "Trip Around the World" but depending on the fabrics available and the whim of the designers, other patterns are sometimes seen.

Once the pattern and colors look right, each row is marked by pinning a number to the top square. The numbers of course are cut from old calendars. The rows of squares are then stacked in order with the numbered square on top. Each row is then pinned together and rolled up.  All the rolls for one quilt top are placed in a clear storage box.

Next a sewist sews each row of patches together, then after pressing, sews the rows together into a quilt top. The day I took pictures none of the tops were made into the usual "sandwich" of quilt top, batting and backing fabric, but that is the next step. Usually backing fabric is chosen so that it can be wrapped around to the front and stitched down.

Next the layers are stitched together at the corners and centers with floss that is knotted securely. The finishing touch is to stamp a message on the back from the group with the date.
All of the workers are volunteers. All of the equipment has been donated, as has the fabric for the squares. Batting and bedsheets for backing along with thread and floss are the only things that need to be purchased, taking advantage of local sales when at all possible.                                           .
More than 100 quilts have been finished in each of the past two years. We are planning to give away the last ones in the closet before Christmas so that we can start with a clean slate and storage space in the new year.

Monday, December 3, 2012

One of My Home Towns

Took a walk today to a nearby park and spent a quiet time on a nice bench riverside reading a book. This is one of the local rivers with nearly unpronounceable names of Native American origin. The name usually used in conversation is The Cotee River.  We are very near the coast, so the river is tidal.  If you don't know your geography you might be hard pressed to say which way the river actually flows.  Today it was quite placid, water gently rising as it entered from the Gulf of Mexico. There was the occasional splash of a jumping fish. Possibly mullet (I'm no expert.)
This photo is looking upriver to the bridge.  A bit overcast, but not so hot that way. Note the Spanish Moss hanging from the trees.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Wheaten Bread

It finally all came together for me today.  Wendy posted about baking, I got Graham's book in the mail and I had gotten all the ingredients together, the weather was kind of on the cool side this morning. I made my first Wheaten Bread.

I was introduced to Wheaten Bread when I visited Northern Ireland earlier this autumn. It is part of the definition of "ubiquity" there. From the first dinner at Orme's to the last lunch at Alison's mom's I was offered, and accepted with open arms, Wheaten Bread.

I really don't understand why I had never come across it before.  It's whole wheat, it's quick and easy and it is so good. I asked John's mom how it was made and when she described it to me I said, Oh, so it's whole wheat soda bread, and she agreed. Since it is not a yeast bread, the process of making it is only a matter of measuring ingredients and shaping it a bit and putting it in the oven for an hour. It also doesn't rise very high, so the slices are long skinny ovals. It is easier even than Dorothea bread.

I'll just have to guard against the urge to eat it all before tomorrow!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Reasons to be Thankful

There are many reasons for us to  be thankful most days, but it's nice to be back in a country where there is a whole day set aside for thankfulness.  Personally, I have a roof and enough food and clothes to get by and I have friends and family. My friends now are found in many different places around the world which makes for variety and interesting experiences and sometimes the opportunity to visit somewhere I've not been before.

To many Americans the holiday means:
  • a day off work, or if your fortunate, a long weekend
  • the beginning of the real shopping frenzy before Christmas
  • football (American)
  • FOOD - turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, cranberries and pumpkin pie
Here in Florida some years it is quite warm, I can remember more than one year when I wore shorts to dinner. This year it's only in the low 70's, which I think is quite refreshing.  This is our dry season and the sun shines brightly most days.

Are you able to think about what you're thankful for today, even if you aren't American or in America? Many families here will spend a few moments before their meal to ask each one around the table to name one thing they are thankful for.  If you found yourself at one of those meals, what would you say?

Sunday, November 18, 2012


If you have been a faithful follower of my Jyojia's Japan Journal - welcome (both of you!) to my new blog.  I felt that I really needed to bring the old blog to a close. After all it was set up to document my fourth journey in Japan. That finished a couple months ago. Life does go on. I am back in Florida and exploring things like Medicare and Retirement Benefits.

I welcome the chance to keep in touch with friends from all over and to keep you updated on any interesting things that come my way. 

So, Welcome! Feel free to sign up as a follower.  There's no obligation, but it does make me feel good to think there are some of you out there reading.  Also feel free to leave a comment or to email me with any response or question.  There should be an option to sign up for email notification of new posts for those of you who don't want to bother checking to see if I've said anything new.