Saturday, August 29, 2009

Crazy Busy! Hoping for Sunshine

Crazy busy so I offer a quote that has always spoken to me. Promise that I will share a lot in a couple of days. For now, I am off to teach! It's day four of no sunsine which always effects me so I'm hoping for sunshine soon too.

To appreciate beauty; to give of one's self, to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to have played and laughed with enthusiasm and sung with exultation; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived -- that is to have succeeded. --Ralph Waldo Emerson

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Heard From Michelle!

Today in the mail was a letter from Michelle! She shared her appreciation for being in Sacred Threads and my interviewing her. Not much else. Unlike the other letters I have gotten there were no questions or any indication that she wanted me to write back. I find each letter to confirm things I felt when I interviewed them. I've written a letter so we shall see if we hear anymore from Michelle. She does want to make more quilts to give as gifts to her family. I have no idea how much long she has to serve. Michelle is in for knowing about crimes her husband committed. She did not commit any of the crimes and her husband has fallen in love with another woman. Again, I am so surprised the she is not bitter. A little angry but not bitter. Wonder what tomorrow's mail will bring.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Heard from Joy!

Today in the mail was a letter from Joy and just like her name so was her letter. I want to share some of her words with you. "My quilt only expressed my thought on long term incarceration and how important it is to live a celebrated female life. I'm glad to read the feedback because even though I had several positive comments, I felt oddly embarrassed with my verbal communication." Isn't she amazing!

I also need to share with you that after twelve "difficult" years and many appeals, she has been proven innocent of the murder of her husband. Her attorney has filed a petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus. She expects a decision soon. She also wants to make a quilt about her the next chapter in her life. I hope she writes me again. There is no bitterness in her. I'm not sure that I could be as forgiving and serene as Joy. She signed off with this wish to me--"May your future be colored by the warm fabric of compassion, compelling texture of community and stitched with the rich thread of life." I wish this for her and you, too.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Blueberry Boy Bait

I began baking for my group at the National Museum of Mexican Art as another way of connecting and sharing. I think food is important when it come to creativity. We need to feed our bodies. I think the group's favorite recipe of mine is my Zucchini Bread recipe. However, I think Blueberry Boy Bait is a close second. I found it at Cook's Country ( when I was looking for something new to do with blueberries that I had and wanted to use. I've since found it in many, many places. I love the story behind the recipe as much as I enjoy the desert.

Blueberry Boy Bait

Adapted from Cook’s Country, which adapted it from the original
Like any recipe with a great name, this also has a great story, which was that in 1954, a 15-year-old girl stole the show (but only won second prize) in the junior division of an early Pillsbury Bake-Off with a variation of this recipe, named, she said, after the effect it had on boys.

Cook’s Country magazine dusted this recipe off from the Pillsbury Bake-Off Dessert Cookbook and made a few tweaks to bring it more deliciously into the modern age: butter was swapped for shortening, the quantity of blueberries was doubled and some plain sugar was replaced with brown sugar. The result? Let’s just say you don’t need to be a boy to be lured in. Serves 12, generously

2 cups plus 1 teaspoon all-purpose flour Note from Karen: I use white wheat flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon table salt Note from Karen: I don't use salt and no one notices
16 tablespoons unsalted butter (2 sticks), softened
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup whole milk (though buttermilk, which was all I had on hand, worked just great) Note from Karen: I used skim milk and it worked fine
1/2 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen (if frozen, do not defrost first as it tends to muddle in the batter) Note from Karen: I used more blueberries.

1/2 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen (do not defrost)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
For the cake: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 13 by 9-inch baking pan.
Whisk two cups flour, baking powder, and salt together in medium bowl. With electric mixer, beat butter and sugars on medium-high speed until fluffy, about two minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until just incorporated and scraping down bowl. Reduce speed to medium and beat in one-third of flour mixture until incorporated; beat in half of milk. Beat in half of remaining flour mixture, then remaining milk, and finally remaining flour mixture. Toss blueberries with remaining one teaspoon flour. Using rubber spatula, gently fold in blueberries. Spread batter into prepared pan.

For the topping:
Scatter blueberries over top of batter. Stir sugar and cinnamon together in small bowl and sprinkle over batter. Bake until toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes. Cool in pan 20 minutes, then turn out and place on serving platter (topping side up). Serve warm (really the best) or at room temperature.

Cake can be stored in airtight container at room temperature up to 3 days. It's never lasted 3 days at my house!


Friday, August 14, 2009

Letter from Ronda!

In yesterday's mail was a letter from Ronda! I had written all the women who I interviewed a thank you note and have been in the process of sending them the feedback and comments on their quilts. So I have to admit I have been disappointed that I had not heard from any of them. Getting the letter from Ronda was exciting and still was even after I read it. Written in small handwriting in the darkness of her cell at 1 a.m., she asked me 20 questions. And some of them were down right tough! "If you had to describe yourself in 5 words, what 5 words would you use?" "What thing do you take for granted that you wouldn't have o be able to do if you were locked up in prison?" "Tell me the most beautiful place you have ever been." "What lifts you up when you are down?" I spent more than 3 hours and seven pages to answer her. I also sent her a couple of photos of my recent quilts (she asked). I worry that the answers about my religion might not sit well with her. Time will tell. I knew when I met her that she was going to cause me to stretch and grow and her letter proved that to be true. If you want to read what I posted about Ronda, you can click below on Ohio Reformatory for Women and find info there or check my July 30th entry. For now, I will anxiously await another letter.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Language of Letting Go

Thank you to everyone for the birthday greetings and wishes. It was one of my better birthdays and you certainly contributed to making it so. After posting, I got news that my book proposal was turned down. I won't lie. I cried. However, I did not let it spoil the day AND at least it's not my writing that was the issue. So I simply reworked the proposal, sent it out and focused on my day.

Since I got so many e-mails about letting go, I thought I would share an excerpt from one of my favorite books, The Language of Letting Go, by Melody Beattie. I highly recommend it.

Letting Go, Dec. 4
"How much do we need to let go of" a friend asked one day.
"I'm not certain," I replied, "but maybe everything."
Letting go is a spiritual, emotional, mental and physical process, a sometimes mysterious metaphysical process of releasing to God and the universe that which we are clinging to so tightly.

We let go of our grasp on people, outcomes, ideas, feelings, wants, desires, everything. We let go of trying to control our progress in recovery. Yes, it's important to acknowledge and accept what we want and what we want to happen. But it's equally important to follow through by letting go.

Letting go is the action part of faith. It is a behavior that gives God and the universe permission to send us what we're meant to have.

Letting go means we acknowledge that hanging on so tightly isn't helping to solve the problem, change the person or get the outcome we desire. It isn't helping us. In fact, we learn that hanging on often blocks us from what we want and need.

Who are we to say that things aren't happening exactly as they need to happen?

There is magic in letting go. Sometimes we get what we want soon after we let go. Sometimes it takes longer. Sometimes the specific outcome we desire doesn't happen. Something better does.

Letting go sets us free and connects us to our Source.
Letting go creates the optimum environment for the best possible outcomes and solutions.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Letting Go

Today is my birthday. I've never been comfortable with my birthday. Just so you know, it's not about the getting older part. It goes back to my childhood and I won't bore you with those details. Instead I will share with you how I have dealt with this day. When I was 24, I was pregnant with my first son, Jeremiah. I knew being a mother meant that I had to be the best person I could be. So for my birthday, I decided that each year I would give myself a gift. One year I would give myself the gift of letting something go and the next year I would gift myself by embracing something. Over the last 30 years, I have had to revisit some things. Dealing with clutter and simplifying my life have taken many years and I'm still not there yet. Wish I could be more Zen like. Some years I have cried a lot as I struggled. Some years were filled with so much joy that I thought I would burst. Some years life had a different plan. The year I decided to do something that scared me changed my life in a very big way. I went to Georgia (country not state) which lead me to a couple years of incredible adventures including travel with the quilts of Gee's Bend. Overall, it's been an interesting process of self discovery. I've learned I'm capable of more than ever thought possible.

I use to discount when people would call me courageous until I explored further what courage means. Courage comes from the Latin for "heart." Courage is also contained in the word encouragement--literally, giving heart to another.

This year I am suppose to be letting go of something that is holding me back and as I worked on deciding what that should be, I realized that this year was really about letting go AND embracing. This year I will be letting go of the fear that I don't deserve all the good things that are coming my way AND embrace all the joy and wonder of all the good things that are coming my way. I am going to make this a incredible year! What gift will you give yourself this year?

Monday, August 10, 2009

Christina Carlos

I am so pleased to share with you Christina's finished "Women of Juarez" quilt. This is Christina's second quilt! I hope you agree that she has amazing talent. I can't wait to see what she does next. I also believe more than ever that my belief in expression first works. The proof is in the quilts. I am so blessed to be able to have the women in this group in my life.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Hugh Mann

When I was working on Donna Sue Grove's healing quilt, I wanted everyone to have the opportunity to contribute in any way that they were able. This is how I became friends with 63 year old doctor of medicine and poet ( Hugh Mann. It is his poetry that connected and continues to connect us. I love when his poems appear in my inbox. He sent me a poem which I included on Donna Sue's quilt (photo). I don't know Hugh well. However, I can tell you that he is kind and has a great sense of humor. Here is his poem that I got today. Enjoy!


In Alimentarium
In the Cellulosum section
Lived a soft-hearted Hoosier named Indiana Banana.
Long and lean, he liked to hang out
with a bunch of friends.

In the Butcherinum section
Lived a salty Virginian named Sam the Ham.
Short and fat, he couldn't be cured
of his craving for sugar.

One day, Sam called Indiana yellow
And challenged Cellulosum to a tug of war.
Indiana pealed with zest
And arranged the meet on the Isle of Dairyana.

Everyone was prepared:
For Cellulosum, there were Indiana,
the Sacramento Tomato Twins,
and Artie, Mrs. Choke's son.
For Butcherinum, there were Sam, Vinnie Veal,
Bennie Beef, and Sam's cousin, Sal Spam.
Manny Manager, Stanley Stockboy, and
Charlie Checkout served as judges.

The players were mustered
And relished the caper.
To add spice, each team had cheerleaders:
Cellulosum had the Veggies
Butcherinum had the Patties.
Near the end, Cellulosum got the razzberry
for unnecessary roughage.

After two hours, Butcherinum ran out of muscle
and couldn't catch up.
Cellulosum planted their feet, held their ground,
and steamed to victory.
Later, at dinner, everyone danced the Casa-Roll
and toasted Hosanna Banana!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Tangie's birthday

Tangie Thomas' birthday is the 17th. I'm asking you to send her a birthday card. Don't include anything inside. We don't want to get her into trouble, we just want to provide her with a little sunshine. Pay close attention to the address because if you don't the card will be returned to you. Make sure you include her ID number.

Tangie Thomas #64688
Franklin PreRelease Center
1800 Harmon Ave
Columbus, OH 43223


Thursday, August 6, 2009

Good News to Share

The wait is over! I'm one of nine artists (a pastel artist, six photographers, and a fiber group)who will exhibit at the Botanical Conservatory in Fort Wayne, Indiana in 2010. This will be the first time all my masks will be exhibited all together which makes me so happy. Don't have any details yet. Got a big smile on my face!

This particular mask is called "Birthing the Crone." She has quotes on women and aging in her hair. I made her when I was dealing with turning 50 and menopause. I have someone who really wants to buy her but I just can't let her go. I also have discovered that people either love her or hate her. There is no in between which I always find interesting.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Donna Sue Groves

When I wake in the morning and before I go to bed at night, I send simple, loving requests to the universe/powers that be for friends and love ones in need. Donna Sue is one of those people and I haven't shared anything about her in a while. First, the photograph was taken by Julie Donofrio of Donna Sue's quilt. Julie and John Sanders are doing an incredible project called "The Hardest Year." They are traveling across the country capturing the stories of people having tough times. There is on Donna Sue called "A Patchwork of Hope: Donna Sue Groves, the woman behind barn quilts, faces the challenge of her life." Please go and watch it. Just make sure you have tissues handy.