QC Blog: September 2008

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Oh, those blue eyes

If there were a perfect color for a fabric, it would be Paul Newman's blue eyes.

They weren't always the dominant feature in a movie, but in Cool Hand Luke, they were the focus of much of the movie, along with his smile, which could win over any woman's heart. I first loved Paul Newman because my mother loved him. When I was young, I remember her talking about Somebody Up There Likes Me, and seeing The Long Hot Summer, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Hustler and Hud. At the time, I didn't understand the nuances of the stories. They were just part of the fabric of my growing up. At my house, we loved Paul Newman, Steve McQueen and Robert Redford. My mom also did a mean imitation of Marlo Brando in On the Waterfront, but I digress.

Between the ages of 2 -10, when these movies were released, I wasn't aware that he wasn't playing a nice guy in some of these movies. By the time Cool Hand Luke was released, I loved Paul Newman all on my own. It's the first movie I remember seeing where the hero really didn't win in the end. To this day I have trouble watching the end of that movie - I can still remember the pain I felt when they ran that montage of beautiful blue eyes and dreamy smiles at the end of the movie. When Butch Cassidy came out, it was the "dream team" of the 1970's - Paul Newman and Robert Redford - WOW!-what more could a woman want?

Recently I saw The Road to Perdition and I was amazed at how much I couldn't stand him in the movie. He was so great in the role. To this day, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and Long Hot Summer are two of my favorite movies. (I better add them to my profile) It's funny how different a movie is when you understand the story.

He's just a guy who was gorgeous as well as being a fantastic actor and, it seems a really wonderful human being. He will be missed by many. I find it comforting to know he's up in heaven with my mom.

mjs 10.01.08 12:24 am

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Does the shoe fit?

Shoes, you gotta love shoes. Isn't that what women are famous for - having tons of shoes? When I was young, I couldn't wait to wear high heels. Being old enough to wear stockings and heels was the mark of adulthood. I used to watch my mom put on her nylons with a garter belt and thought that was so cool. I missed out on that, because by the time I was old enough to wear stockings, there was pantyhose. And by that time, no one was wearing heels, we were wearing bell bottom jeans with platforms and shoes with fat heels. Later, in my job, I wasn't able to wear heels, so I always wore a flat practical shoe because now pantsuits were "in" and you didn't have to wear heels. After I married and became a mom, I wore jeans and shorts most of the time so tennis shoes became my regular shoe. I wore them for aerobics and for casual wear. I think the only time I actually wore a "high heeled shoe" was the day I got married in 1978. And my feet were killing me.

But here's my problem. I can't tell if a shoe fits in the store. Inevitably, when I'd visit a shoe store, I'd come home with the wrong size. No matter how many times I walked in front of those floor mirrors and looked at my feet, the next day I was exchanging those shoes because they didn't fit. Oh, wait I actually have two problems, because a couple years ago, I started having heel pain. Because of that, I can only wear a very supportive shoe. Have you seen what supportive shoes look like? I refused to go the orthopedic shoes route - I didn't want to end up with shoes that would squeak.

Then came the Internet. Once I learned to shop on the Internet, buying shoes became a dream. I could buy 2 pairs and try them for a week at home and then mail the other pair back (Inconvenient for sure, buy it took out that feeling stupid factor of returning them in person). After a few weeks, I'd decide that pair wasn't helping my feet and order another style of shoe. I finally found that Ryka tennis shoes seem to work for me.

And then I found Merrell Shoes. They were supportive, not a tennis shoe and they even have a shoe with a slight heel that looks semi-dressy sometimes. Then they made a clog in different colors and there was one in fuchsia, my favorite color! Somewhere along the line, in ordering shoes, I also found Zappos, an online shoe store with free shipping both ways, and Online Shoes, who carry Merrell's. Nirvana!

So now I order 2 or 3 different styles of Ryka's (all in the correct size), or Merrell's in different colors, figuring I'll eliminate the ones that I don't like or that aren't good for my feet. But I end up liking all of them, and they all feel great.

My closet will never have Manolo Blancs like Carrie Bradshaw's, but my feet are finally happy with my Merrill's and my Rykas.

mjs 9.27.08

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Chaos Reigns!!

I was having some computer problems the last two days, so didn't get to a chance to post. I hope all my friends and relatives liked the website. I'm very proud of our efforts to create it. Now I can devote my time to creating "black and gold" quilts to promote Pittsburgh colors everywhere.

Hasn't this been the craziest day ever in Politics? No matter whose side you're on, this is an unbelievably interesting election year. I find myself constantly reading websites to search for the latest in the Presidential election coverage. I watch news programs all night long, and switch from channel to channel to hear what all the analysts are saying.

I think one of the saddest things about this crisis the economy is in right now is that it will hamper every program that the new President (yes, I hope it's Obama) wants to implement. Mainly it means health care reform is probably in jeopardy. I can't get over the fact that George W. Bush came into office with a balanced budget and has driven the country into near financial ruin (and that's not an exaggeration, given this week's events).

And on top of that I got blindsided by Project Runway again Wednesday night - I can't believe they kept Kenley. My jaw dropped when they told her "she's in." I'll never understand that show, but I guess that's what keeps me watching.

Here's to an exciting day tomorrow. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for a debate!!

mjs 9.26.08 2:04 am

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


I'm so excited! At 9:19 on 9/23/08, my website is live on the Internet. Zachary, you are so awesome-this is so cool. I hope everyone enjoys my site, we've been working on it forever!!
I have no idea if the site will ultimately be a success (obviously I hope for that) or a failure, but just getting it online has been an accomplishment for both of us (more for Zachary, since he did all the computer work). I did hire a classmate of his who drew the artwork for The Quilting Crusader, so, to Amanda Jo , thank you so much, it looks wonderful.

I have an interesting little part time job that sometimes takes me to unexpected places to take photos. Today I was on the 26th floor at the Gateway Towers downtown and was able to take some beautiful views of Pittsburgh. Mind you, these were taken through a window, so they're not as crystal clear as they could be. But I think they're pretty good.



Monday, September 22, 2008

Getting Ready

My youngest son, Zack, and I have been working hard today to get the website ready to "go live." I can't believe how much tech knowledge you need to have a website. There's so much that goes in to the actual creation of the site (Zack did all that) and then you have to figure out how to host it and who should host it, and then how to publicize it and make it accessible to others. I missed my calling - I should've been a webmaster in another life. I'm hoping it wil be live this week, and then you can all see what we've been working so hard on.

It's almost a month since I started this blog. I was uncertain at first as to how I wanted to record my thoughts. Did I want the blog to be only about quilting? Should I avoid controversial subjects entirely? Do I run the risk of being too personal? I think that I started out wanting to relate each day's topic to quilting somehow. I realized that would be too difficult and tried to find a way to be true to myself and still not alienate readers. I am actually glad I started the blog first because it enabled me to find my voice. Although the Quilting Crusader is my business website, this blog is about me and my life and my reflections on the world and my place in it, and I can't hide who I am by not mentioning things that are very important to me, even if it is politics.

Oh, and by the way, my oldest sister, Chrissie, my bird expert (not really, she just knows more than I do about it), confirmed that the little birds on the shore in the photos are indeed sandpipers.

Have a great day.

mjs 9.22.08 10:18 pm

Sunday, September 21, 2008


I got a new phone yesterday. This one is the Chocolate 3, even though it's actually blue in color (my favorite part is the color). They talked us into trying a bunch of bells and whistles, like how I can have mobile web on this tiny 1 inch screen and somehow, I was enticed by that idea. Well, after a day of scrolling through the news on this minuscule (though large, by phone standards) screen, I'm opting out of that program, for sure. It's ridiculous that I couldn't just look at a newspaper headline or turn on the radio or watch the news on my new flat screen TV, rather than trying to go blind and crazy surfing for news or sports on my phone. Maybe this is for some, but not for me. I'm not even that good at texting, yet when I was in the store, I was definitely considering buying the phones that had a mini keyboard on them. It takes me about 5 minutes to type a few words in response to my youngest son, whose fingers fly across the keys. I want to reach through the phone and strangle him when he replies in about 3 seconds, meaning I have to wrestle the keyboard again. I did get a great hint though - you can type an email and send it to a person's phone as a text message. If I have more than 3 words to text, I'm headed to the computer.

Not much going on this weekend, but watching football (we're all sad - the Steelers lost) and reading a new book.

I'm on the hunt for a server for my website next. The site is ready to put up this week.

Till tomorrow.

mjs 9.21.08 11:33pm

Saturday, September 20, 2008


I've noticed lately that anywhere there seems to be piped in music playing, suddenly a H&O song comes on if I'm there (probably when I'm not there too). The morning my Mom died, my sisters and I left the hospital and entered a restaurant, and the song Wait for Me came on. It's kind of a sad, slow tune and one I'll always associate with her now. Here are the words and tell me that wasn't just eerie that it played at that moment.

Midnight hour almost over

Time is running out for the magic pair

I know you gave the best that you have

But one more chance

couldn't be all that hard to bear.

Wait for me please

Wait for me

Alright, I guess

that's more than I should ask

Wait for me please

Wait for me

Although I know the light is fading fast.

You could go either way

Is it easier to stay

I wonder what you'll do

when your chance rolls around

But you gotta know how much I want to keep you

When I'm away I'm afraid it will all fall down.

Love is what it does and ours is doing nothing

But all the time we spent

It must be good for something

Please forgive all the disturbance I'm creating

But you got a lot to learn if you think that I'm not waiting for you

I miss her every day.

As a dedicated Hall and Oates fan, I just wanted to mention that John Oates' new CD is being released on Sept. 23. It's called 1000 Miles of Life. You can buy it at Amazon. I've heard a couple clips from his website and in You Tube videos, and it sounds like a great album (I'm afraid I'll never stop calling them albums). He visited North Penn high school, his Alma mater, last week and performed for the students there. Then he had a solo concert in Sellersville, PA where his Mom and Dad and wife and son were in the front row. How cool is that! You can find You Tube videos for the North Penn performance online and see what a generous and caring guy he seems, as well as a great singer/songwriter. Mark (my husband) and I were able to read reviews about his performance in the Philly paper when we were at the beach last week (Notice how I keep trying to recall the beach?). It seems like everytime I go to Stone Harbor, I read something about Hall and Oates in the paper there.

Speaking of Stone Harbor, a reader mentioned that my little birdies might be sandpipers. Thinking it over and doing a little research, I believe she may be right (what do I know about birds?), and maybe the seagulls were fat, because they were "ready" to give birth???? I know the babies were pecking at the sand the way sandpipers do. Weird though, I didn't notice any mommy sandpipers - though the birds themselves are so small that it would be hard to tell them apart. Anyway, thank you for bringing it to my attention. The abundance of birds was still cool to watch, and it's nice to know they won't grow up to be irritating like seagulls, if they truly are sandpipers.

Enjoy the day.

mjs 9.20.08 1:24pm

Friday, September 19, 2008


It's hard to believe it's been almost a week since we came home from the ocean. I posted some photos below of the seagulls, so you could see how cute they are when they're small. I bought some Mums to plant out front (I leave that to the guys in my household, I just point and tell them where to put them). My favorite are the bright yellow ones. I love the colors of fall. The air is cooler, but unfortunately I'm allergic to the cold air. That sounds crazy I know, but it makes me sneeze. I usually have to close the windows and doors at night as soon as this weather hits, because I start sneezing and can't stop. The last two years I've been taking an antihistamine and it helps for a little bit of the season. Eventually, I'll still have to close up as soon as it feels cool.

I can't help it - I have to write how I feel about all the political stuff going on. It infuriates me that lawyers and legal mumbo jumbo are able to totally stall the investigation going on in Alaska. If we're going to "welcome public scrutiny," as was stated before, then what are you trying to hide? I hate liars and I hate cheaters. Let the candidates rise or fall on their own merits. Let this election be about the issues and if there is dirt, let it come out. Everyone else has had to air their dirty laundry in public in the last months, why shouldn't the VP candidate? Why can't lawyers and handlers let their candidates handle themselves? The truth is, as I see it, if they can't handle themselves, then they will fail in their bid. When they cheat and lie to get ahead, I just don't understand why people don't see through it.

I'm taking the afternoon off today and spending the time in my sewing room. I have a beautiful room with 2 skylights and 4 windows. My quilting machine is in there and my sewing table. I love the room. First, I'm going to take a walk to help my cholesterol. (Exercise is supposed to help lower my LDL).

Have a great afternoon.

mjs 9.19.08 12:05 pm




Thursday, September 18, 2008


Is the fabric store where I buy on vacation better or different than where I buy it at home? I could try and tell myself that, but the truth is, no, it's just a better excuse to buy fabric than on a normal day. I buy fabric at a store in Stone Harbor called Harbor Fabrics and then we drive to Ocean City and I visit Calico and Cotton and buy more fabric there. 3 is my number. You know the story - buy one yard if you like it, two if you love it, and three if you can't live without it. Well, my problem is I don't want to live without any of it. I try and look like I'm deliberating over the purchase, but I always buy 3 yards. I'm not one of those exact measurement people, who can figure out to the fat quarter what they'll need for a quilt. I'm always afraid I'll run out. Totally illogical, I know, but just the way I am.

My son and I are working on the website. He's at college and trying to do homework, and I'm bugging him about updating this and that on the site. Sometimes I feel like everything is just so overwhelming to learn. If I were a webmaster, I could be making big bucks helping folks to make websites - it's a valuable skill. I looked into it once, and it would take about a year of concentrated study (no vacations) to become certified. The no vacation part made that less than desirable.

Right now, I'm battling ants in my dishwasher. Those tiny little buggers are driving me crazy. We've managed to destroy all the trails that were leading them to the counter top, but I can't get them out of the dishwasher. I read a hint that they are attracted to the moisture, so as long as I keep the door open, we don't have any. As soon as we close the door, they appear inside. It's driving us all nuts. Who wants to leave the dishwasher door open all the time? If anyone has any suggestions, I'm happy to try them.

Last night I was watching Project Runway - I love that show. I enjoy watching them sew and create beautiful garments. But the main reason love it is because it always surprises me. From the very first episode, I'm never right about what will win on the runway. I think it's obvious which was the best dress, and then I pick all losers. It always works out that their fashion "do's" are my fashion "don'ts." (This would be why I'm not on the Best Dressed list) Very seldom does a show consistently surprise you and it's fun to watch. It's also amazing that they can create such great stuff less than 2 days.

mjs 9.18.08 11:51 am

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


What is a widget you might ask? I don't really know, but I have one on my site now. You can click on the orange widget symbol and have my blog appear on your custom web page, whether it's Google or Yahoo, or something else. If you'd like to receive emails to let you know of a new blog posting, you can enter your email address in the box provided.

I'm already losing the whoosh feeling of the ocean. I told my kids I wish you could just bottle that sound and when you're feeling stressed out, listen to the sounds of the ocean to calm you. Whoosh. Ah, yes, I can picture the waves. So (as though I hadn't stopped talking yesterday), the other weird thing about vacation, in addition to the emptiness of the town, was that kids were going to school. The school playgrounds were filled with schoolchildren playing, instead of vacationers playing basketball on their courts. Parents were meeting their children at the school bus, just as they do in my suburban neighborhood. I just never think of people LIVING in my vacation spot and going to school there.

And the life cycle continues. The shore was covered with baby seagulls, who would chase the wave, eating sand crabs, then run away as the tide came in. Instead of squawking seagulls attacking everyone on the beach for food, there were fat mama seagulls stationed every couple of yards in the sand watching over their little babies. It was funny, watching the babies, they were so cute. Their little legs could hardly keep up with the rush of the water.

Of course, next summer they'll be just as annoying as usual, especially when some goofus, like this couple on the beach with us, decides to feed them. They thought it would be cute if she fed the seagulls, while he took a video of her surrounded by the birds. Cute, except she kept moving backwards towards my sandchair and bringing those darn birds with her. Oh, she pretended not to even know it was a bother - I hate when people are SO inconsiderate.


mjs 9.17.08 12:39 am

Monday, September 15, 2008

Home Again, Home Again

Well, I'm back home again, fresh from my 2ND vacation to Stone Harbor this year. We traveled through the night Friday night (it used to be so the kids could sleep all night) and arrive Saturday morning about 8:30 am. Of course, check in isn't until 1:00pm, so we have time to kill. We cross the bridge into Stone Harbor and can smell the ocean air. We drive up and down the streets and drive past the place we're going to stay. Then we drive to the ocean block, get out, and walk to the pier so we can gaze at the ocean. We fill our lungs with fresh sea air, while our hearts chant "We're here, we're here." Mark walks to the surf and checks out the water temperature. This sets the tone for the trip. When he comes back up to the pier and says, "it's like bathwater," that's a good sign.

We noticed that there were very few lifeguard chairs on the beach, as well as very few people. As we walk back to the car, we noticed there were a bunch of lifeguard chairs stacked up by the SH beach house. We drive up and down the streets again, and notice that no cars are parked lining the streets. Trees are in bloom that we don't normally see in a late June/July or an August vacation. Even though it's almost 9:00am, there are almost zero walkers or joggers or bike riders on the street. Our tradition is to go to Uncle Bill's for pancakes, and we sit there talking about the changes, and what we think they mean. In addition, upon arriving we found that the paper said Hurricane Gustov was due to hit and bring storms that afternoon around 2:00pm. Then Mark mentions we should look around at the other people here and there's our answer. I glance around the pancake house and every table has a couple, with no children in sight. (I like to believe they're ALL older than me!) Occasionally, there's a young couple with a toddler and a baby, but no young families, with children in tow. Every table is the same. Couple after couple, probably retired, vacationing with no children. Since this is our first vacation in forever without family, it seems so odd. So this is our first taste of a retiree's life. It requires some adjustment in our thinking but after a few days, we still think we're the youngest ones in town.

More on vacation tomorrow.
Have a good day.

mjs 9.15.08 2:00pm

Friday, September 5, 2008


Vacation - not a staycation, but an actual beach vacation, where the ocean roars and calms at the same time. This year is unique, as this is our second vacation to our favorite place, Stone Harbor, New Jersey. Our first was in June, with the extended family, as is our tradition. This vacation belongs to us, my husband Mark and myself. We celebrated our 30th anniversary this year and decided to come back to the shore in September to celebrate our anniversary with a special trip. We've had a couple weekend trips, but haven't really had a trip to ourselves since our honeymoon in 1978. Our excursions always included family, mostly because the trips were more economical.

How novel it will be to have the house we rent completely to ourselves. All our attention can be focused on one another. The beach belongs to us alone (I can ignore all those other people there). The town is there simply to entertain us and amuse us during this week of rejuvenation. The importance of rejuvenation cannot be underestimated. A need to refill the soul and believe that life is good keeps us going, sometimes for an entire year, until the next vacation. Our spirits drink in the calmness of the ocean and we are always awed by it's beauty. The scenes are familiar, yet welcome. Babies are playing in the sand, and toddling toward the water. Children are rushing to dance in the waves. Adults are hovering, holding their hands, introducing their children to the ocean. The same scene plays out again and again at the seashore.

I'm taking my new camera and experimenting on this trip. Hopefully I'll bring back something beautiful to share with you next week. Maybe a sunrise over the ocean or a sunset over the bay. Maybe a heron flying over the wetlands or the surfer race on the Nun's Beach. Whatever it is, I'm going to the sea again (isn't there a poem about that?) and I'm thrilled.

Have a good week.
mjs 9.5.08 11:28 pm

Thursday, September 4, 2008


Well, the world seems in a political upheaval today, at least to me. And then my life, sometimes so calm, got a jolt today. My mother passed away in June of this year. I met a woman today who was her PT at one of the assisted living care facilities she lived in. The weird part was, I met her while I was on my job, taking photos of a senior care home, and in a part of town my mother wasn't even close to, and it was as if my worlds had collided (isn't that from a Seinfeld show?) We acknowledged one another and shared words of sympathy, which I appreciated, but I felt so odd. That moment when your work world and your private world meet one another and you are thrown off balance by forgetting who knows who and what they know about you.

My quilt circle meets tonight and I already know that the tactile sensation of fabric is a comfort to me. I look forward to touching cloth and smoothing it between my fingers, the way a child "jouggies" a blanket between their fingers while sucking their thumb. "Jouggy" is my family's word for it - I've discovered that different families have a different word for that action. Maybe someone can share with me what that is in their family.

I'm getting ready to go the beach tomorrow, so I won't be writing from there. I'll be enjoying the sun and the sand and the ocean breezes. Maybe I can figure out what I want to do when I grow up.


9.4.08 4:21 pm

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Ah, it's September

Yes, folks it's back to school time. The air is cool, and the school buses are roaming the neighborhoods today. My own children are grown (the youngest is in college), but I still feel that urge to go buy notebooks and pencils at this time of the year. I probably have more blank notebooks than anyone I know. I just love office supplies. Remember when we were kids and the teacher would hand out a test and you'd hold it to your nose and sniff the mimeographed paper? Oh, was that only me that did that? Or the smell of a brand new textbook?

Besides office supplies, I am in love with bookstores. There's nothing like cracking open the spine of a new book and reading it. Sometimes I buy a book simply because I love the way it feels - the paper they used, or the cover material, or the size of the book influences me greatly. My husband knows he can leave me in a bookstore and go shopping, and it doesn't matter if he takes an hour or two, I'll still be contented with browsing in the bookstore. I credit my love of books to my mother, who loved to read, and generously gave that gift to her kids.

Yes, as the commercial says, it's the most wonderful time of the year - you get a little more time to yourself (for quilting, of course) and the excuse to go buy a new notebook.

12:05 pm 9.3.08

  © Blogger templates Newspaper III by Ourblogtemplates.com 2008

Back to TOP