Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Why I Quilt (A First Person Case Study)

Last week I finished the revision of my introductory textbook, "Kraus' Recreation & Leisure in Modern Society" and got it off to the publisher on Monday morning. As part of the book, in the last edition we (my coauthor and I) added case studies. In chapter 1, where we introduce the textbook I initially asked Allison to tell, "Why I write?" as a leisure activity. I needed to change the case study so Allison's case study goes into the faculty/student resource pages the publisher provides and I asked my beautiful wife to write a "Why I quilt?" I can't give you what I put in the book, since it is copyrighted and I don't own the copyright, but I thought what JoAnn had to say was so appropriate. I did an interview with her, then wrote up what she said into case study format. Below is her response to my questions:


1. When did you start quilting? Why?

    I started quilting just before my second daughter was born. I was 26 and I didn't do a lot of quilting then. For me it was just putting 2 pieces of fabric together (top and bottom) with a middle thicker material called batting. I didn't just jump into quilting. I was raising a family of 7 children and that took a lot of time. By the time my oldest daughter was nearing graduation from high school I decided to quilt a bed covering for her, which expanded to each of my children.

2. How do you feel while you are quilting?
    When I quilt I fell happy. It's like a release from other things going on. It allows me to bring order from groups of fabrics to a structured and planned piece. I enjoy finding of fabrics that speak to me about colors, patterns, prints and how they blend together. I like to find patterns, prints, and colors that match the person I'm making the quilt for. One granddaughter likes purple and and grandson likes green and frogs. A big part of quilting is finding the right fabric. It's like a treasure hunt and the big surprise is when you find 2 colors that harmonize together, that you didn't think would. One special experience occurred when my 5 daughters and 2 daughters-in-law made quilt blocks for each other (8 quilt blocks per person, including mine) and then we sewed them individually, each with their own touch of creativity.

3. Do you lose yourself in your quilting? 
    When I'm engaged in all of the steps of quilting - the measuring, the cutting, the sewing, organizing the quilt blocks - I find a release from the day to day pressures. I'm allowed to do work on something that is important and fun for me.

4. How do you feel when you are done with a quilt?
    Most of the time I'm very happy with the quilt. I have a real sense of accomplishment. I made something that someone else may also enjoy. It gives me a wonderful feeling when you are stitching the binding at the end of the quilting process and suddenly, it's all done!

5. How has quilting helped you emotionally?
    Quilting gives me good feelings about myself. It gives me a feeling of accomplishment. I have a real sense of creativity. I'm not an artist with a brush and pallet, but when I'm quilting I feel like an artist in fabric and colors making designs and patterns. I can't wait for the next project. In my mind I have multiple projects in the planning stages.

6. What activities associated with quilting are important to you?
    hopping for material; reading a new quilting magazine;

7. What do you do with your quilts?
    My quilts have many purposes. First and most important it is to bring joy to others, to celebrate events, to comfort. When my oldest grandson was killed in an accident my 2nd daughter and I made a special quilt for each of his 2 brothers. When a granddaughter broke her arm she asked for a quilt to give her comfort. When a new baby is born the mother needs a quilt to wrap them in. Quilting is a way for me to share my self and my love with others.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Seeing Double

You will may recall that we were in San Diego for Christmas visiting Krissie and David. It was a fun time for all of us. There is nothing like spending a few days with our "skinny pregnant daughter" and her attentive husband. Being good hosts they scheduled a variety of fun activities for us. I've already written about a whale watching trip. I posted some of the photos of our whale watching trip on flickr and Krissie said "……" which took me back to another trip and other experiences.

David and Krissie frequently live near water. That's part of being a Marine family. When Krissie was getting married in England JoAnn and I took a cruise to Bruge, Belgium. JoAnn had taken the cruise earlier that year when she visited for 3 weeks.

When the kids were transferred to North Carolina we drove down several times. One of those times we decided we would drive up the Outer Banks of North Carolina to see the light houses and Kitty Hawk. It was a fun day, and a long one. We had left about 4:30 am and returned home about 11 pm, but we also took a half-dozen different ferries. The first ferry was the longest ride - over 2 hours.

Part of a McLean trip always involves photos. It was those photos that drew me to Krissie's comments and made me realize that we do things over and over again that are fun. We have those experiences with each of our children and always enjoy them.

And contrary to most expectations, David did get a photo of JoAnn and I together on the way back in. 

As a side note, when you are on board a ferry or a small ship and outdoors you really can't do a thing with your hair. That's why David and I wear hats - but then neither of us have much hair to worry about!

Monday, December 31, 2012

Whale Watching

This year was a San Diego Christmas. We usually travel to less mild weather, so traveling to San Diego for Christmas was fun and the bonus was to spend it at the Dunn Inn and with our 7.5 month pregnant daughter and her wonderful husband. More on that in another post.
David, Krissie, & JoAnn as we were leaving the bay.

It's been more than a week since we we went whale watching and yet it remains fresh in my mind. After arriving in San Diego on Friday prior to Christmas we took off on Saturday morning to do a little "whale watching." I don't know what I was thinking, as I anticipated a short voyage - which by some standards it was. But I didn't anticipate a 2.5 hour voyage and was surprised after we got on the ship it was that long. However, once we got out on the ocean and started watching for whales the time literally flew by.

Krissie & JoAnn in the cabin just as we are leaving. I'm
the red jacket reflection in the window!
It's been 8 years since I was on a ship of any size for any length of time, and that was a ferry (large) in the English Channel as JoAnn and I went overnight from England to Belgium - and back! That was fun. So was this. This ship was smaller, but still sizable with room for a couple of hundred passengers. And the ocean couldn't have been nicer - just a gentle roll of the ship after we left the harbor and began to "troll" for whales. The captain was quite knowledgable and kept us up to date on all the things that might or might not be seen.

We were rewarded with seeing 3 whales. When I say we saw 3 whales don't get the idea that they were breaching (jumping out of the water) as they were not. Sometimes they do, but today we saw the tales (what I now know are "flukes") which was at the conclusion of the process of breaching (breathing - spray of water shooting up from their blow-holes). We saw a lot of breaching, but only a little of the lobtailing (a display of the whales large pectoral fins. Once out of the water, the whale will either slap the water surface or wave it in the air). It was fun to watch and we shot a few photos. By law the ship cannot get closer than 100 meters, but our captain was experienced enough to anticipate where the whale was going to angle for good views.

We had a great time and followed it with a visit to the USS Midway aircraft carrier where we inhaled lunch and enjoyed a walking tour. Needless to say, by the end of the day we were a smidgen tired.
A photograph of a photographer as we come in
from a morning of whale watching!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Chasing the Sunrise

It has been a particularly busy fall semester. I’m teaching a new class in an area I only have a minimal background. I haven’t felt this far out of my depth since I taught an introduction to natural resources class my first semester at Kansas State University in 1974. I was younger, more full of myself, and at the same time unsure. I have few of those feelings now. At age 66 I find teaching a new course invigorating, challenging, and just a little daunting. But it has been far more rewarding than I anticipated and just as challenging. I’ve put other projects on the back burner to try to stay what I call “15 minutes ahead of my class!” And I think I’ve been successful.

That all leads up to Veteran’s Day Weekend when I got to Friday I sensed I had a full Saturday where I didn’t have anything to do. Saturday morning came and I was still thinking teaching and writing. In fact, as I have found so often this semester, I was up early and today was no exception. At 4 AM my mind was whirling and so I was up and anticipating several hours of quiet with just me and the cat writing. Whisper, the cat, really enjoys laying across the top of my desk in front of the computer either relaxing or watching the cursor on the computer with great interest. I’m anticipating some day she will attack that poor cursor.

By 6:30 am I was busy writing and I knew we were having some cool (cold for Las Vegas) weather so I turned to my iPad and checked the weather. Of course the kids think my favorite TV channel is the weather channel - but not so much since we moved to Las Vegas. Anyway, I noted on my weather app that it had snowed out at Red Rock Conservation Area overnight. There is nothing more beautiful than watching the sunrise at Red Rock as the sun marches down the western Spring Mountains. And to have the potential for snow in the peaks was a bonus! I was a smidgen late getting out of the house and could see the sun rising over the east side of the Las Vegas valley and knew I had probably missed the march, but not the intensity of the new sun on the western mountains. Off I drove out towards Red Rock and was greatly rewarded for my efforts.

Watching the new sunrise, or in this case, the full effect of the early morning sun on the mountains is like watching a rebirth of beauty and brings great joy to my soul. If I watched it every day I might tire of it, but I only go out a few times a year - which always makes it spectacular. I’ve shared a few of my photos below. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.
This is a beautiful home out in Calico Basin and I love its colors and especially the Red Rocks directly behind it.

The Red Rocks along with the desert brush and more traditionally colored hills in the background are a favorite

I really thought the sun reflections and the break up with the texture of the rocks made this an interesting shot.
And then I played with it and added a little grunge.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

A Weekend with my Son!

A week and a half ago on a Tuesday morning  I put JoAnn on an airplane for a week in Boise, ID to visit daughters and grandchildren. I had earlier decided it was a great weekend to visit my Dad. Tim decided he wanted to come too and we talked about travel arrangements finally agreeing he would fly into Las Vegas and we would drive to Modesto, CA with me the following day. He arrived in the evening of the same day JoAnn left for Idaho.

Wednesday morning we went to my campus, dropped off an exam for a colleague of mine to deliver in my class. Then Tim and I were off by about 9:30 am and headed for Modesto. We both agreed the 160 miles from Las Vegas to Barstow had to be the longest and most boring drive you could ask for. However, after we topped off the gas tank - at $4.47 a gallon - Tim took the driving tasks and took us to within 1 hour of Modesto. It was a great drive to have with Tim.

Our goal was to spend as much time as we could with Grandpa and Grandma Ruby. But we started Wednesday evening with a relaxing time with Don and Marti, our gracious hosts. On Thursday we went over to see Dad and Ruby and just to spend time with them. We had also been given an assignments by my sisters, which was to talk Dad into a new television. His old one was even older than my front room television.

We weren't making much progress - Dad can be a tough sell when he wants to stall. We just visited, took them out to lunch at Applebee's. We sat at our tables and realized the baseball Giants were playing the Cardinals. Tim made the comment to Dad saying, "If you had a new television you could see the ballgame that well too." That seemed to be the turning point. Late that afternoon he said, I think I'd like a new television. Tim & I told Dad we would deliver a new TV in the morning.

Tim and I found a great Mexican restaurant around the corner
from Dad's house. Would you believe there are 3 enchiladas
somewhere under there?
Sending 2 guys out to purchase a new television is "dangerous" to say the least. We checked out Walmart, Target, and Best Buy. We had lots of options, but finally made a great decision on a 47 inch television for Dad & Ruby. Yet, we knew we weren't quite done. We decided that Ruby needed her own TV for when Dad is watching sports (which is a lot). We settled on a 32" TV to replace the one that had been in the back bedroom.

We got to the house, set up the new television, and plugged it in and Tim programmed the controller. Having Tim there to program the controller and make sure everything was set up right was a blessing. He is so good at those tasks. Dad told us we could take the old TV to the back room for Ruby. That was when we told him that Ruby got a new television too!

Before we set the 2nd television up we turned on the golf channel and Dad was like a little kid! He loved it! And we sure felt good.

We almost had the 32" set up before Ruby got back, but we couldn't find the remote. Ruby and her daughter-in-law Kathy found it in 2 minutes. We got it programmed and when Tim and I left they were both watching the back room television.

Grandpa/Dad with the Grandkids - and yes "in-laws" are automatically grandkids!
Friday evening we got together with all of the sisters and family. On Thursday Krissie had called and said she and David were going to Sacramento on Friday. They met us for dinner at Jeri's home. We didn't tell Dad they were coming and we were lucky enough Krissie & David arrived at Jeri's the same time we did. Dad was surprised when David was there to help him out of the car. David is Dad's favorite Marine. It was a great evening with family. . I almost forgot - we celebrated Tim's birthday and everyone enjoyed it. Thank you to my sisters who put the whole evening together.

Tim receiving his Birthday Ice Cream from Aunt Marti
Jeri and Marti working hard in the kitchen. John worked hard too, but somehow
I missed him in this photo.
Saturday I took Tim to the Sacramento airport to fly home to his family. Krissie met us near the airport and we had a nice lunch. I drove back, spent a short time with Dad & Ruby feeling good about the visit. I went back to Marti's house and had a nice evening with her and Don.

On Thursday afternoon Tim and I sat on the back patio and dad shared his World War II experiences with us for about an hour. I heard some stories I hadn't heard before. I did record this and will make it available to family.

It's not very often I have the opportunity to spend a few days with one of my sons. I really enjoyed it. The time together in the car was relaxing and enjoyable. To just spend that time together was special for me and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Las Vegas, Rain, Grandchildren, Hiking

Dean, Lexi, & Ellen on the steps to
Calico Basin in Red Rock. The steps
are an exception and not the rule.
When we lived in the Midwest we loved a good rain and thunderstorm. Unless it was accompanied by tornadoes. The same is true in Las Vegas. The only exception is that our thunderstorms only occur 2 or 3 times a year. That makes them BIG events. Last week we had almost 3 full days of thunderstorms and heavy rain (heavy for Las Vegas). Because Las Vegas sits in the bottom of a bowl all the rain runs downhill to the lowest parts of town and gains some impressive speeds. It doesn't take much rain to create a flood. They say a 6 inch flow of water will move a car - a long ways. Most of us take our storms seriously knowing that there will be flooding, high water and the like.

Mix all that rain with a house full of grandchildren who want to go to the parks and play and it even gets more interesting. Fortunately that all worked out pretty well and there was enough dry time for them to have a great time at the parks.

Thursday was a moderately heavy rain day. We live almost right up against the mountain on the west side of town. Behind the mountain in Red Rock National Conservation Area, a beautiful area of mountains, plains, and enjoyment. Those mountains around Red Rock channel the storms and they tend to get heavier rain then we do.

Friday morning began with a beautiful sunshine and nice cool weather. I figured it was time to take the two big girls, Ellen and Alexis, and their Dad to Calico Basin. It is in Red Rock and about a 2.5 mile hike that takes 2 hours. It's all up and down and requires some bouldering. Both girls are big enough to engage in the bouldering, so we started out. At the gate I used my new $10 over-65 lifetime pass to national parks, recreation areas, and the like - You've got to take advantage of those over 65 deals!

I took the hike to Calico Basin for the first time last February with Tim. So I was familiar with the trail and knew what to expect. The first thing we noticed was that the rain had widened the channel (see photo). Some of the new cuts were 5 feet deep and looked like a knife had slide the soil away. There were also quite a few uprooted trees. Last time we walked up the wash and used that as our primary trail for about 30%f the hike. This time there was water in the wash so that meant we were climbing from the very beginning.

It was beautiful. The rain had cleared the sky. It was bright, the colors were magnificent, and the hike was refreshing! It was refreshing in February too, but a tad bit cooler that day. The girls kept up with a minimum of complaint and sometimes we had to ask them to wait for us! Well, me, not Dean, their Dad. There were spots where we crossed the wash and got our shoes a little muddy and our socks a little wet, but we lived through those experiences. They are part of the fun.

Ellen, Alexis, and Grandpa enjoying the beauty!
You can see the rugged beauty of Red Rock area, and the clouds that were
beginning to move in.
We even found hail left over from the storm. It wasn't a lot, but it was fun to find
in Southern Nevada.
We got to the top and looked at Calico Basin and saw about 3 feet of water in the bowl. I stuck with the girls while Dean went around to the other side to see the valley. Normally we go through the bowl to get the view of the valley. While all of this was going on we also recognized that the clouds were moving in and they were very dark. We decided it was time to scoot out of there as fast as we could, which isn't very fast when you are trying to be safe. Nonetheless we beat the storm. It just started to rain as we left, we got a little light hail, and later as we were driving on the main highway looking back we could see the rain coming down pretty good. We felt for all those folks who were out on the trail. We had a great time!

The Bake gang about half way through the hike!

Grandpa, Lexi, & Ellen celebrating!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Practice, Practice, Practice

There is nothing like getting 6 grandchildren (siblings and cousins) age 7 or less together for a little photo shoot with Grandpa. Last Christmas when we spent the holiday in Boise helping with the new baby (Sammy) we got the younger 6 together (3 each for Suzanne and Sally) and I took some photos. They are so much fun at this age. For the most part they get right into what Grandpa asks them to do - and why have a normal shot when I can have some fun.

I've had a lot of fun taking photos of grandchildren with what I call the "rubberneck" syndrome. They grow out of it at some point, but I have a number of rubberneck photos I've taken over the years. I asked the kids to do a rubberneck for me. Most of them got the idea, although Hattie was really more interested in eating a little cheese stick then performing. I think that is probably different now.

Hattie, Danny, Chas, Bonnie, Dean
After that photo I thought I would take advantage of their love of making noise via screaming. I asked them all to scream. What big mouths they have - and they are noisy too. Hattie was still eating her cheese stick and on the other end Charlotte choses her own path (which I understand from Sally is pretty common for her!). Still I ended up with 2 adorable photos of our grandchildren.

Charlotte on the right