Thursday, December 27, 2018

Clue 5 Mystery link-up

I'm quickly blogging this week's progress on the mystery quilt and sharing it here

 So last week, I ended up doing a thorough clean of my string bins, which led to a clean-up of my entire sewing area. Then this week's clue made me realize that I had some units left over from On Ringo Lake (the pieced border triangles that got trimmed away) that could be trimmed for the blue triangles I needed for this clue. Very exciting!
 I think that bit of extra blue adds some extra interest.

 I eventually finished the clues for this week and played with them a bit. I like my yellows and scrappy blues in this mix.
Clue 5 as I am interpreting it is very restful with the greens and blues. Restful is good the week after Christmas! And blues and greens together are my happy colors. I'm looking forward to seeing the next clue, which will be coming out tomorrow. Just barely made this post in time.

Monday, December 17, 2018

Not Orange - Mystery Monday Link-up #4

Check out the posts for people who are doing the Good Fortune Mystery Quilt this week over at this link!

I was hoping that there would be strings this mystery, and was very glad to have an excuse to dig into my overflowing bin. I was a little distracted over the weekend with some Christmas projects that I just finished up today. I also had to finish up clue 3, which I chose to do in yellows. So clue 1-3 are all in the overflowing basket, red, green, and yellow, while I just have a small number of the needed string blocks for 4 in blue, which I am using instead of orange. I am not quite sure yet if I want to go to a more medium blue, or if I want to get a wide range in.

Some of the "outlier" blues from my bin are quite a bit lighter than the average. I'm not sure if I want that much variegation. I have become convinced that I need to cull my string bins: I have one of those 3-drawer plastic storage things, one bin for warm colors, one for cool colors, and one for neutrals in light and dark. But after a couple of years of playing with the fabric, a lot of it is not that exciting to me anymore, and many pieces are too small to do much with. I will probably either cut some of my fat quarters or pull some strips from my 1 1/2 and 2" boxes. It's highly improvisational, and I like how this process is a different one from all the other clues.

 I've been making some extra units in different colorways all along, but I'm more and more convinced I want to stick with my plan (red stays red, green instead of blue, yellow instead of green, blue instead of orange). These above are some of my extra units.

These orange string blocks are pretty, and I do love orange a lot. I just have used orange a fair amount over the last several years, and my stash is pretty depleted. There was On Ringo Lake last year, my Rainbow String Star top, and Celtic Solstice in 2013, which has been on the quilting frame for many months now so I see it all the time... plus my Frugal Patch color study quilt in progress has a lot of orange in it. I have knitted two Rhinebeck sweaters from hand-dyed, hand-spun orange yarn and I wear mine a lot. I still do love orange. Just not for this quilt.

Looking at my blue string blocks, I'm thinking I do want to go a little lighter, a more medium "China" blue, and less of the navy. Which means I will have to move away from the string bins a bit and into my regular stash. I may use this as an excuse to purge my string bins of any fabrics I don't love anymore or that is too small to make me want to use it.

Monday, December 10, 2018

The Process: Mystery Link-up, Week 3

Once again quilters who are doing Bonnie Hunter's annual mystery quilt are linking up to show our progress on her blog: Week 3 Link-up.

My big excitement this week is the fact that I actually finished the top from last year, On Ringo Lake. This was my personal requirement if I was going to start a new project, and that has now been accomplished. I am really happy with it. The scrappy variety of my fabrics meshes really well with Bonnie's patterns, I think. Thank you to Steve, who held the quilt off the damp ground so I could take a picture of it in natural daylight.

And on to the Good Fortune quilt. I am planning to switch up the colors: so far red is staying red, blue is going to be green, and green is going to be yellow. Here are some of my yellows in the early stages of this clue. I once again am diving right into the piecing process by grabbing my boxes of strips using Bonnie's Scrap User's System. I can cut the rectangles and squares right away and get started with the piecing pretty quick. Although this clue is going to take a bit more time to complete, I think.
 Knitters have discussions about whether they are more "process" or "product" focused. I am a "product" knitter because knitting takes too long for me to want to invest the time for a product I am not happy with, but I enjoy the process. But I have decided I am more of a "process" quilter: I love the creativity of the process, the combining of fabrics, and because it moves fast (compared to knitting, anyway), even though I like the end product, that's not what makes quilting "fun" for me. That's why I'm not a perfectionist about the occasional mis-matched corners or fabrics that are oddballs. In fact, I like the fact that fabrics from when my 20-something sons were toddlers occasionally show up in my quilts, and the color scheme often has a lot of "outlier" fabrics. It's all a part of the process, and the process gets messy. Kind of like how I need to clear away a lot of junk from my work area.
 You can see a pretty wide range of yellows, and even a few peachy/light orange ones. Since I'm planning on replacing the oranges with blues, this is the clue to experiment with them. I'll probably make a few extras. The Veggie Tales fabric is the one from when my boys were little... somebody had a pair of shorts with Bob and Larry. The basket to the left contains clues 1 and 2. So far we have red, green, and yellow.
 I don't have the "bonus buddy" ruler but I have been marking my second line this way. It's a smidge more than a quarter inch. A hair would be too small, but a smidge seems to work for me. I am not highly scientific in my measurements, but I do usually have a pretty good eye. This is a deboned shirt from a thrift store trip 4 or 5 years ago.
It takes a little longer this clue to mark the squares; then you are sewing four seams on each rectangle/ 2 squares unit. It's a bit of a longer process this week. Here most of my fabrics are older; bugs fabric from about 18 years ago, yellow checked fabric from when I made curtains for the girls' room about 12 years ago, the triangle neutral from last year.
I've made a few units with the green just so I can play with them when we get further along. The process is super fun. That's what keeps me coming back to these mystery quilts every year.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Randomday and a finished quilt top

Oh, I have missed Randomday! During my long blog hiatus I would often think of a humorous event or observation and wish to share it on my Saturday posts, which I then never got around to making. 
 The impetus for starting up blogging is also the impetus for finishing a project left over from early this year, which had languished largely untouched since January. This is the quilt top for On Ringo Lake, last year's Quiltville mystery. There was a lot of seaming to do, and it was all on the diagonal. which meant it had to stay on the family room floor from the time I laid it down (Tuesday night?) until I finished it late last night. There were periodic times when I had to rearrange some of those tiny pieces because the cat messed them up.

Thanks to Steve for holding the quilt up away from the wet so I could get a photo of it in daylight.
This is a collage from last winter when I was working on it. My new version of Photoscape can probably do collages, but I haven't figured that out yet. I just love how the colors of this quilt mimic a sunrise on the rippling waters of a lake. Finishing this quilt top (not getting it quilted, that's another hurdle for another time) was my requirement of myself to participate in the new mystery quilt. Which I am doing, and it is fun. I have been dealing with my photo storage on my phone, and getting ominous messages like "your iCloud storage is almost full." One technical challenge at a time, but I was able to go back today and delete a bunch of these process photos from my phone. They have served their purpose. But whenever I look at this quilt I'll remember early morning walks with Emma to school last year, and all the beautiful sunrises we saw together.
The tree is up but only partly decorated. The local elves are teenagers and either have better things to do or a short attention span. I put up the cherub in the snow cloud on the shelf, which I think is much nicer than the creepy "elf on the shelf" and anyway, I've been doing this since before I ever heard of that weird trend.
We've had a Christmas bear in the scrollwork sleigh every year since the boys were little, although it wasn't always this bear.

I loved all the coverage of the state funeral this week. It felt refreshing to have something on television that drew us together for a time instead of trying to divide.

Last night I made a recipe from the Redwall Cookbook, "Mole's favorite deeper 'n ever turnip 'n tater 'n beetroot pie." This may be my only autographed cookbook; yes, Brian Jacques himself signed it. There are several good recipes in it. This one is kind of like a vegetarian shepherd's pie, with mashed turnips and carrots layered with mashed potatoes, and cheese on top. The beets are pickled, served on the side along with a crisp salad. Other recipes we have liked from this book include "Shrimp and hotroot soup" and "Roast roots and baked spuds."

We went to a pancake breakfast and silent auction for the Sheriff's department explorer program this morning, which a friend of Quarta's participates in. Steve won a basket that included a gift certificate for Home Depot, which we have already spent.

Tomorrow dinner will probably be Apricot Chicken, a recipe I discovered in the early 90's. You mix an envelope of onion soup mix, and about a cup each of Catalina dressing and apricot jam, and you pour it over chicken, and then bake it and serve with rice. You can do the same thing only substitute cranberry sauce for the apricot jam, and it's Cranberry chicken, which is also good.

And that's it for this re-inauguration of Randomday.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Political Tuesdays: November 4, 1992

It will always be one of the great honors of my life that I was present on the South Lawn of the White House the day after Election Day, when George H.W. Bush arrived home and addressed his supporters. C-SPAN archives carry the video still. 

I was 25, newly married, and had never been to the White House before that day. But senior staff at National Right to Life, all of whom had handshake photos of themselves with Reagan or Bush, generously donated their tickets to junior staff the day before the election. They must have known the polls were not promising, and they wanted to give us the chance to witness presidential history as they had. Our election night party in the office was bleak. I was still clinging to a bit of immature magical thinking. We had worked hard enough, surely. And then there was a fax that came in sometime in the afternoon with internal polling from the campaign projecting a defeat. After that, things became somber and deathlike for the rest of the evening.

Still, the next morning dawned, and I dressed in my cute blue checked dress that I had bought before my wedding, braided my hair and set off with my friends and co-workers. Our group was perhaps isolated from other WH staffers and major campaign donors who were present there; we felt that we had worked our little hearts out, but Bush's own staff had let him down. I remember comments from those months... staffers shopping their resumes and not focusing on the election; campaign director sleeping with the enemy, no real loyalty to the President. And the American electorate has always been fickle, and the press has always been hostile to Republicans, but something changed in that election cycle. We knew we were in for 4-8 years of a really difficult time, and most of us were teary-eyed for much of the time we were there. But White House events must go on. We were handed flags to wave by staffers; it was a gray day but not bad weather for November, as I recall. I was running on adrenaline and nerves, which always makes me feel especially socially awkward. It was a pretty large crowd. 

The Bushes got off Marine One, and the crowd cheered wildly. Most of us were toward the back of the crowd; I don't think we're in the video,  but I can't be sure without better eyes and a bigger screen. It must have been a bitterly difficult day for the President, and I'm sure he was emotional, but his speech was short, upbeat, and focused on others. He could have talked about the big accomplishments of his administration; the coalition he built for the Gulf War; the fall of the Communist regime, but he didn't. He simply praised his supporters for their hard work, encouraged them to support the Clintons, and expressed confidence that "we" had served America well... "And maybe history will record it that way." That short, offhand sign-off has stayed with me all these years. 

Yes, I do think history will record your nobility of character and your lasting positive influence on America. Thank you for your life of service, George H.W Bush. RIP. 

Monday, December 3, 2018

Good Fortune Mystery Monday link-up 2

Once again there is a link-up at Quiltville for the Good Fortune mystery quilt. Here is what I have been working on this week:

 Clue number 2 is supposed to be half-square triangles of neutrals and BLUE. As you can see, I am switching up the colors that I'll be working with this year. I am so glad I have been working on building up a scrappy supply of pre-cut strips using Bonnie's "Scrap Users System" (you can find out more here). When the clue comes out each Friday, I simply open up my box of strips in the appropriate size:
 On the left is the size I used this week, on the right was last week's. I pulled out the roll of neutrals and the roll of greens this week (actually, I had a roll of light greens and a roll of dark greens, and I pulled from both because I'm all about variety.) This week I was able to do about 80% of the units without having to cut new strips from my fat quarters and other yardage, which really let me get into the piecing quickly. By the time I got a little bit bored with doing one thing, I was mostly finished! This is one of the reasons I love the Scrap Users system -- I really didn't feel like making major decisions this week, and I could just pull strips almost at random and go. I'm not planning on buying any new fabric for this quilt, but of course never say never.
 Clues one and two together ... they look kind of seasonally appropriate.
I did make a few sets of units in the recommended blue, just to try out different possibilities later on.
And here are some of the extra units from last week that I made in blue, for the same reason. Any extra units will go into my collection of extra and orphan units and be used in a future scrappy quilt.
 But one of the requirements I put on myself if I was going to do this mystery was that I would have to also finish up the top from last year's mystery, On Ringo Lake. Last week after doing the red four-patches I cut the brown cornerstones and pieced the side setting blue triangles. And finished piecing the sashings, which was where I had bogged down last year. Last night I stayed up a little too late and laid out the pieces on the family room floor. Surprisingly, Muffball (the cat) did not "block surf" too much. This morning I started the lengthy process of piecing the pieces together. Diagonal sets are always a bit overwhelming, but I think it is going well so far:
There's one corner done! I do love how all the scrappy colors sparkle like sunrise on a still lake. I wonder how long my family will put up with the blocks laid out on the floor? I do enjoy this one and will be glad to have it as a top. Then I will have to quilt it, but that is another challenge for another day.

Thanks so much to everyone who stopped by, and Good Fortune to you!

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Thursday Distractions

As I am trying to ease back into blogging, I keep thinking of the days of the week and traditional things I have blogged about on those days in the past. Political Tuesdays, WIP Wednesdays, Randomday on Saturday, Finishing things on Friday (HA!), book reviews on Sundays, Design Wall and Stash Report on Mondays. Well, politics is simply too toxic these days, but I'm still not ruling out writing about it. I don't even know if anyone is doing Design Walls and Stash Reports anymore. WIP Wednesday just whipped by yesterday (if that's even still a thing), and by the evening when I thought about it, I had to do my Augustine translation for Latinstudy. (It's City of God, and at 1/2 - 1 heading per week, I will be about 200 years old when I finish it... I just did the math... another rabbit trail). 

The truth is, my life is more full of things to distract me than it ever was, and I am and always have been a willing victim to distractions. It's either a very good thing or a very bad thing that I'm not teaching. I'll go with good. Most of the things that distract me now were ways I coped with stress when I was stressed out beyond bearing. Now that the stress is much better, I can go from distraction to distraction most of the day, every day, only touching the ground long enough to do the driving, shopping, cooking and minimal cleaning.

But do distractions make good blog fodder? Knitting and quilting certainly are, because of the pictures. Here's one from the months when I forgot to blog; my friend Joyce's destash of a bunch of sock yarn. Some of it has been made into socks already and I'm itching to start another pair as soon as I finish the super-stretchy bind-off on the purple/green Socks that Rock.

Other distractions: Duolingo, where I now have Italian, French, Dutch, Swedish, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, Romanian, Chinese, Irish, and Polish. For a few weeks I managed to do at least one lesson in each of them, but that was maybe a bit too OCD. I also have an unofficial course in Latin on the Duolingo forum, which is hard to gauge how many people are using, and its corresponding Memrise course, which is doing pretty well and gaining students steadily. I haven't been adding new lessons to it very often recently though, because it gets harder at the more difficult levels to think up good sentences.

Speaking of looking for good sentences, I love the Tatoeba website, which is basically a giant multilingual database of sentences. I contribute there as CarpeLanam as well. 

Other geeky distractions:,, my Kindle with its ability to check out books and audiobooks from the library. I have always enjoyed playing Civilization IV, and picked it up again this summer. I finished a game playing the Indians yesterday, and started one playing the Japanese today (yes, I'm trying them all in alphabetical order.)

And I admit to having Facebook for friends and family, Twitter for news and politics, Instagram for pictures, and Pinterest for recipes, mostly. You can waste a significant amount of time on social media, but only so much before it gets boring and you get distracted by something else. I cook and garden (a bit) and read. And my family is growing and changing; we are half-empty nesters now, and Quarta went on college visits a few weeks ago. Blogging is the one outlet I have that can cover all of these "multifaceted" (as Joyce was kind enough to call them) aspects of my life. I do it for myself, and to keep a journal of my life. Still, the most interesting bits for other readers, especially if I can manage to get photos, are most probably the knitting and quilting. That's why they are the easiest to blog about. But then I feel the need to switch gears and cover another base sometimes, too. Distractions are everywhere.

So as I continue with this very eclectic, often erratic blog, thank you to my readers and extended family who check in from time to time.

Monday, November 26, 2018

Good Fortune Mystery Monday Link-up 1

Well, I am in the process of coming back to my blog after months of neglect, and it is in large part thanks to the Good Fortune Mystery Quilt. Every year, scrappy quilters all over the world start stitching the day after Thanksgiving on the clues released by Bonnie Hunter of Quiltville. The first gathering of photos from the first clue can be found here at Bonnie's site. You can also download the first clue, but be sure to keep checking back for all the clues because they will go away after the Holiday mystery season is over!

I'm happy to report that I finished all the pieces for the first clue this morning. Or did I? I know I'm going to be changing up the colors somewhat, and I think I'm going to substitute blue for orange. But the little four-patches were so cute, I couldn't resist making a few in blue instead of red.
 And even a few in green.
I really like the checkerboard effect, so I think having a bunch of extras of these in various colors isn't such a bad thing. Especially since I haven't made a definite plan for the color scheme.
 It's a messy process: I was able to get right into it, though, because I had my boxes of strips in different colors and widths already cut. This is thanks to Bonnie's scrap user system, which is something I've been converting my stash to over the last several years of mysteries. When the clue came out, all I needed to do was open the box that contained strips in the width called for, and get out the neutrals and reds (and blues, and greens). Instant gratification sewing, very little extra cutting needed. But the tradeoff is the family room is a bit messy and the cat wants to sleep on the pile of neutral strips I haven't used yet.
Um, yeah, I should probably put those back in the cupboard. Lots of old fabrics being used up, and no new fabrics bought so far. I do think my reds are a little low, and yellows as well. I'm probably going to use yellow in the place where the green goes, and green where the blue goes, and blue where the orange goes, and keep the red where it is.

Oh yes, I am also trying to make myself finish up On Ringo Lake from last year. I cut the setting squares and triangles called for in the final clue. Next comes the assembly. also a somewhat messy process. The mess just seems be a part of quilting. Maybe if I actually finished more projects and stuck with them. Well, it does feel good to be back in the quilting area. I will try to dig myself out of the piles of WIPs.

Friday, November 23, 2018

More Dusting of the Blog; Thanksgiving

 As my few readers know, I took a very long hiatus from blogging, from January until October of this year. The catalyst was a broken laptop, but I also got distracted and worked on things I haven't usually blogged about in the past. So we are catching up, but today will be more traditional, post-Thanksgiving. I know how to blog about all the homemaking business of Thanksgiving. The pies are always made the day before. I made the ones on the top: Chocolate Bourbon Pecan pie (plus some extra filling), two Apple-Pear-Cranberry, and the Birthday Blueberry on bottom left (Steve's birthday is the same as Thanksgiving this year; he was born on a memorable day for those above a certain age.) Quarta made the Pumpkin Pie (extra filling in the tin) from a Binging with Babish video. The butter crust was particularly tricky. Mine were just made with Crisco. I don't even really measure anymore.
 After pie-baking most of the afternoon, Steve took me out for Chinese. These adorable cuties were parked next to us. Quarta is fond of using words like "doggos" and "puppers" and I have to say, they made me want to use them too.
 I love the fact that I have a well-stocked herb garden that can be harvested even in the late months of the year. Actually, the parsley is growing as a weed and I need to plant some in my herb garden. But our gardening philosophy is to encourage weeds that we like. I have no process photos of the bird, or, sadly the group of us at dinner: it was only 5 of us at home, plus Steve's mom. Daniel is in Scotland visiting my sister and eating haggis instead of turkey.
After dinner Quarta went to visit her friend whose family was having a feast at their church for all comers; then when she was dropped off in the evening, my friend, her friend's mom, left us two slices of Pie-Caken, which is a thing she has learned to make. I will stick to basic pies, but I did have a third of a slice (pecan) for breakfast this morning.

And now, one of the main reasons I needed to dust off my blog. This is my most recent photo of last year's Bonnie K. Hunter mystery quilt, On Ringo Lake. It is not much farther along than this. I have made all the necessary blocks, but I have not connected them into a quilt top yet. One of the reasons I need to keep posting on my blog is to keep myself accountable with various quilting and knitting projects. When I am not blogging, I may not be quilting at all, and I may only be knitting in small increments. And even worse, I am certainly not keeping my sewing room neat and tidy. But, Bonnie has just issued the first clue of this year's mystery quilt, Good Fortune. Once again I am feeling the siren call of starting another scrappy quilt project. Some people shop on the day after Thanksgiving. I prefer to eat dessert for breakfast and start a mystery quilt that I have no guarantee I will finish. The obstacles are great this year:

  1. I must clean my sewing room first, at least enough to be able to use the cutting table, ironing board, and sewing surface.
  2. I must also make adequate progress on finishing On Ringo Lake, ideally within the first few weeks.
  3. I know I want to change the color scheme, but I'm not sure yet how. I am leaning to changing Green, Blue, Red, and Orange to a more country/vintage palette of Yellow, Green, Red, and Blue. I don't really want to work with orange this year since I used a fair amount last year. But I am still dithering about the changes I'll want to make. Fortunately, dithering about the colors is something I can do quite easily while blogging!
  4. The odds are very high that I will get distracted again and stop blogging, and therefore, stop sewing. Christmas is coming. Daniel is posting pictures of the Highlands. I might decide to start another language. 
You will notice that I did NOT list "I don't have enough fabric" as an obstacle. I have enough fabric to make about ten years of mystery quilts, only I might have to change the colors on them. Well, here goes, signing off and maybe I'll start in on some light cleaning now.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Dusting off the Blog / Graduation

When you are not at all a techie person, anything at all can cause technical difficulties. This is embarrassing, but I basically fell into a blogging funk last January, the day my old laptop died. We got a new laptop that day. But when it came to writing another blog entry, everything looked different. The writing isn't a problem; I'm not afraid to write. It's the photos. And for some reason the Photoscape app I used to use looks totally different on the new laptop, probably a much more recent version, and I was confused about how to navigate between the photos I've been taking more and more on my new (well, 2 years old) I-phone and that get stored in a different cloud than the old pictures. It seems like it should be simpler. Actually, I was just able to figure it out, more or less, but that was kind of my excuse for neglecting my blog for so long.

And the librarian, historian, writer and generally opinionated person in me has been missing this outlet for several months now. Facebook is just not the same. So, I will strive to conquer the hassles of graphic interface and photo editing in order to get my blog voice back. Some important milestones have gone unblogged until now:

Emma graduated from High School! She will receive her final diploma in 3 years when she completes her current transition program, which she is enjoying very much. Previously known as Tertia, she is now a young woman and entitled to be free of anonymous blog names.

We received the invite to the Honor Assembly. We knew about the departmental award for Life Skills, but we didn't know that she would receive one for Choir as well. Miss Bravo was a student teacher in her choir class her Sophomore year, and this was her first year of teaching on her own. I was just fast enough to snap a blurry photo, but I do love the expressions on the faces of the Admin folks sitting on the platform.

Even more blurry, my photos of the graduation ceremony itself.  But I have successfully broken the photo-editing barrier, and I'll declare victory and post this. 

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Reformation +501 - The 95 Theses, Simplified

A year ago I did a little project, very spur-of-the-moment. To celebrate the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, I took the 95 Theses of Martin Luther and translated them from the original Latin. I published them on Facebook, and a little later cleaned up the formatting and put them on this blog: Reformation 500 

You never know quite what to expect when you translate something from an old text that you've never worked with before. I came out of that project with a renewed appreciation for Martin Luther's courage and scholarship, and a feeling that he was several centuries ahead of his time. Also, I was impressed by Luther's common sense and yes, humility and restraint. His theses were largely about abuses of clerical authority that, under a system that respected what today we would call "best practices," would have been investigated and dealt with promptly. Very few of them touch on the great doctrines of Grace that shaped the Reformation. All that came later. If Pope Leo X hadn't doubled down on medievalism and papal authority at all costs, there might never have been a Reformation and Luther's bigger ideas might never have been developed or heard.

Reformation Day is a huge matter for Protestants, whether they know it or not. I see my task as an heir to the Reformation and someone who is reasonably literate in history and culture, to re-introduce Protestants to their own heritage. In America, for example, we owe our freedom of thought and expression, and our representative government, in no small part to Martin Luther. So when my Catholic friends, and I have several, start with little passive-aggressive comments on Reformation Day about strife, war and divisiveness, and try to make it all about the candy, it makes me wonder if they really do know their history as well as they think they do. Reformation Day is our Independence Day. Getting pushback from Catholics is a little bit like the "You'll be back" song that King George sings to the Americans in Hamilton. No, that ship has sailed, and I would love to be a fly on the wall as modern Catholics try to figure out how to, well, reform, their church's leadership without giving some credit to the groundwork done by Luther and the other Reformers.

So here's this year's Reformation Day project, and a challenge to my fair-minded Catholic friends: I've taken the 95 Theses and put them in conversational English, going for the simplest boiled-down point in each thesis. My rather free interpretation, but you're welcome to compare to the original Latin and come up with your own. That is the beauty of a free society, and we owe that much to Luther. Pope Leo condemned 41 of the theses and demanded Luther recant them; which of them are so objectionable given the light of history? Are any of them so heretical that they deserved excommunication and the death penalty? Which ones? What would be your response, if you were pope at that time? And going forward, is it acceptable to challenge the papacy with objections that we all have about, for example, covering up abuse and protecting abusive clergy members? Or do we all share those objections? Luther's 95 points still stand, worth revisiting every year, calling Christians to be clear-minded and devoted to Christ, not to inventions of men.


Introduction: Martin Luther here, speaking from Wittenberg where I teach theology. Some points have come up, I'm concerned about getting to the truth of the matter, and I'd like to discuss and debate them. If you can't be here with me to debate over a pint of good beer, contact me via any of the usual social media and let me know what you think.

1. Our Lord Jesus said we are supposed to repent, and that means all Christians, and it should characterize our whole life.
2. This doesn't mean the sacrament known as penance. It's deeper than that.
3. Inner penitence is fine, but it doesn't stop there; it would be meaningless if you don't back it up with actions.
4. We will struggle with sin and need to repent of it until we die and go to heaven.
5. The Pope can't forgive sins, or remove penalties except for those within his official and limited capacity in the Church.
6. The Pope may declare sins forgiven, but that is only accurate if God himself has already forgiven them.
7. When God forgives sin, he grants humility to the sinner, who is then able to respect the priest.
8. Only the living are able to repent. Penance doesn't happen when you're dead.
9. The Holy Spirit, through the Pope, grants merciful exceptions for death and necessity.
10. The priests who say the dead must still do penance in Purgatory are wrong and cruel to say this.
11. The bishops must not have been paying attention to let the priests get away with saying this.
12. It used to be that you had to do penance before you were absolved, to make sure you really were sorry for your sin.
13. Dying people, though, are considered already dead, and are absolved from their burden of sin, as is their right.
14. The dying have a great burden of fear because of their sins.
15. This fear itself is equivalent to the torment of Purgatory for those on their deathbeds.
16. Hell is characterized by despair; Purgatory by fear; Heaven by assurance.
17. It's important to grant release of fear and assurance of love to those who are facing death and Purgatory.
18. There is no reason or Scripture that would make us tell dying people they should fear more and have less assurance of love.
19. But we can't prove that those in Purgatory have absolute assurance of salvation. There may be something we don't know.
20. So when the Pope says "full remission of all penalties," he can really only vouch for the penalties that he himself has imposed in his official capacity.
21. This means that the indulgence preachers are mistaken when they say that buying a papal indulgence grants you freedom from all punishment.
22. Actually, the Pope can't forgive a person in Purgatory, unless that absolution was granted in this life.
23. Absolute forgiveness of all penalties could only be granted to a very few, nearly perfect persons.
24. The promises of absolute forgiveness are deceptive, and the majority of people buying indulgences are falling prey to this deception.
25. The Pope's power concerning Purgatory is like any priest or bishop's power over his own church or domain.
26. What power the Pope has over the souls in Purgatory must come from his intercessory prayer for them; his power is not absolute.
27. It is fallible human teaching when the indulgence sellers say "when the coin in the box rings, the soul from Purgatory springs."
28. The one certain thing is that the coin in the box will increase greed and corruption; God alone determines the fate of the soul.
29. Who knows if all souls in Purgatory even wish to be redeemed? There are some legendary exceptions.
30. No man can even be sure he is truly contrite, let alone whether he has received full remission.
31. It is rare for a man to be truly penitent, as well as to truly buy an indulgence.
32. Those who believe they are truly saved because they bought an indulgence will be damned, along with those who taught them this.
33. We must be very careful about the claims that the Pope's pardons are the same as God's work of reconciliation.
34. Those indulgences are only in regards to penalties established by man, not by God.
35. It is anti-Christian to teach that you can buy forgiveness, and bypass true contrition or confession of sins.
36. A truly penitent Christian has a right to forgiveness even if he doesn't buy an indulgence.
37. A true Christian partakes in all the blessings of Christ and the Church as a gift from God, even if he doesn't buy an indulgence.
38. The papal pardon is still not to be scorned, because it is a declaration of divine forgiveness.
39. Very well-educated theologians have a hard time balancing the need for true repentance and the benefits of indulgences.
40. A truly penitent Christian is eager to do penance; but if he can easily buy an indulgence, he can easily come to hate penance.
41. Indulgences should be promoted very carefully, or people will think they are preferable to other acts of Christian charity.
42. Christians need to know that buying an indulgence is not the same as a work of mercy.
43. Christians need to know that it is better to give charity to the poor than to buy an indulgence.
44. This is because giving charity makes the soul grow better, but indulgences do not.
45. Christians need to know that if they neglect the needy to buy indulgences, they bring down the wrath of God on themselves.
46. Christians need to know that they should provide for their own household and only buy indulgences if they have the money to spare.
47. Christians need to know that buying indulgences is a matter of free will, not a command.
48. Christians need to know that the Pope values their prayer more than their money.
49. Christians need to know that they should not trust in indulgences and so lose their fear of God.
50. Christians need to know that the Pope would be angry on their behalf at the scurrilous methods of the indulgence sellers, and would prefer his basilica to be burned down rather than be built with the flesh, blood and bones of his sheep.
51. Christians need to know that the Pope would rather give money to some of them who are needy rather than having them buy indulgences, even if he had to sell St. Peter's to do it.
52. Assurance through indulgences is empty, even if the indulgence sellers or the Pope himself pledges it.
53. It is the enemies of Christ and the Pope who forbid preaching the Word in some churches, so that they can preach indulgences in other churches.
54. It's an injustice to God's word to spend more time in a sermon about indulgences than about the Scripture.
55. If indulgences are promoted extravagantly, surely the Gospel, which is much more important, must be preached even more extravagantly - and surely the Pope knows this.
56. The true treasures of the church are not known to God's people as they should be.
57. They are not temporal in nature, because indulgence sellers often do not distribute them freely but only gather them.
58. They are not the merits of Christ and the saints.
59. Saint Lawrence spoke of the poor as being the treasures of the Church, in the language of his time.
60. With some confidence we can say that the keys of the Church, through Christ's merit, are that treasure.
61. For the Pope's power alone is sufficient for remission of ecclesiastical penalties.
62. But the true treasure of the Church is the most holy Gospel.
63. But this treasure is the most hateful, for it makes the first to become last.
64. However the treasure of indulgences is most appealing, for it makes the last to become first.
65. The treasury of the Gospel is the net with which they used to fish for men of wealth.
66. The treasury of indulgences is the net with which they now fish for the wealth of men.
67. Sellers of indulgences promote them as having much grace, because they bring in much wealth.
68. But they are small indeed compared to the grace of God and the Cross.
69. Bishops and curates are required to give indulgence sellers full access.
70. But all the more should they carefully screen what the indulgence sellers say to their flock, to make sure it does not depart from the Pope's message.
71. Let him be cursed who speaks against the truth of apostolic pardons.
72. But let him be blessed who is on guard against the greed of those who sell indulgences.
73. Just as the Pope, who strongly condemns those who turn the work of granting pardon into a fraud.
74. Much more strongly does he condemn those who convert holy love and truth into a fraud.
75. To pick an outrageous example, the man who said indulgences could absolve the man who raped the mother of God - impossible, and insane!
76. On the contrary, papal indulgences cannot absolve the least of the venial sins.
77. To say that St. Peter, if he lived now, could not grant greater indulgences, is blasphemy, both against St. Peter and the Pope.
78. On the contrary, the Pope has far greater powers, such as the Gospel, spiritual graces, and gifts of healing.
79. It is blasphemous to raise up the Papal cross for selling indulgences as equal to the Cross of Christ.
80. The Church officials who spread these messages must be held to account.
81. As an educated man I wish to defend the Pope from pointed questions by the laity, but this careless preaching of indulgences makes it difficult.
82. For example, "Why doesn't the Pope empty out Purgatory because the souls there are suffering, not because he needs the money for his church?"
83. And, "Why does he allow payments set up for funeral masses to continue, since it is wrong to keep praying for the redeemed?"
84. And, "Why do they let a bad guy pay money to rescue a good guy's soul, why not rather free the soul because it's the right thing to do for love of the good guy?"
85. And, "Why did they suddenly dust off these penitential canons that everyone had forgotten about and were no longer in use, when they can make money from them?"
86. And, "Why doesn't the Pope, who has plenty of ready cash, use his own money to build the Basilica of St. Peter instead of using the money of poor believers?"
87. And, "What can the Pope forgive for those who are already entitled to forgiveness because of their perfect humility and contrition?"
88. And, "Why doesn't the Pope give out these blessings a hundred times a day, instead of just once?"
89. "If the Pope wants souls to be pardoned rather than money, why does he suspend previously granted indulgences, if they still work?"
90. All these objections by the laity are well-thought-out, and deserve a fair answer, not forceful repression, or it will damage the reputation of the Church and the Pope, and make Christians unhappy.
91. So indulgences ought to be carefully taught according to the Pope's instruction, and there would be no problem.
92. Away with the prophets who say, "Peace, peace," yet there is no peace.
93. Blessing on those who say to Christ's people, "Cross, Cross," and there is no cross.
94. Christians should be exhorted to follow Christ, their head, through punishments, death, and hell.
95. So they may have confidence to enter the heavenly kingdom through many tribulations, rather than with the false security of peace.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Randomday, and a Farewell

A fond farewell to my old laptop, which as I write this is at 50% power remaining and no way to recharge it. The clothespin that has been holding the cord into the charging port at just the right angle for the last two years is no longer doing the trick. This is possibly because I closed Magistra and put it on the floor behind the old treadle sewing machine (which is also a convenient table for displaying Tertia's pottery projects) last night for the Last Noel. Magistra has had a good life and worked hard... I feel like I need to pay tribute to it here on the blog, since, realistically, I would not have a blog presence without it. I received it as a Christmas gift in 2010, and it traveled back and forth to school with me on a daily basis until it developed this problem with the ability to charge and hold a charge, sometime in 2015 I think. I believe we have copied all essential files and photos to the main home computer or the cloud, and so I'll be able to get started again on the new laptop we plan to purchase, but it just won't be the same for a while, and please understand if you don't see a blog post from me as I navigate the frustrations of learning a new device. Change is always hard for old-school people like me!

The Last Noel itself was very nice. We had plenty of food and a good number of people from our wider circle. Quarta's friends played a kind of freeze tag/ hide and seek in the dark in the yard, and we await the spring to see the impact this had on the shrubbery. It is good that God makes plants, like people, resilient.

And so the Christmas season is officially over, and we are off to new adventures.

Monday, January 8, 2018

On Ringo Lake Link-up (Parts 6,7,8 and not up to 9 yet!)

All right, folks, there is no way I was going to have a completed top by today. But I am happy to have slightly more than half of the blocks pieced, and am sharing photos here for the link-up at Bonnie's blog.

It's really a cheery, bright block and I look forward to getting them all sewn together and then figuring out the diagonal setting. It helped to have some uninterrupted sewing time over New Year's, but that is going to be harder from now on.

 It's kind of fun seaming a bunch of top rows and middle rows at a time. Then you can cut them apart, stack them, and make a bunch of blocks at a time.
I really enjoyed using a very wide variety of fabrics for this quilt. I used up some smaller bits that had been in my stash for a long time, and I cut a lot of extra strips to add to my strip bins for future use. Favorite neutrals are Kermit the Frog, Halloween candy, chicken wire, totem poles, bugs, musical notes, and maps. Favorite corals are some of the 30's prints, some of the Connecting Threads collections I dug into, and a bunch of others. Favorite blues - I always love the plaids, and the little skull and crossbones, and the fish prints. I used some of the brown floral scraps from my mom's sewing stash that I inherited. It's funny how I have such vivid memories of how and when I got most of these fabrics. Sometime I will have to count up the total number of different fabrics in this quilt, and I bet it will be over 100.

But for now I will slowly work to get the whole top together!

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

New Year

Welcome 2018! I have attempted to give the blog a new look. Gone are the dandelions blowing, and I am attempting to clean up some of the sidebars. It may take a few tries to get it the way I like it. I hope everyone who reads this enjoyed a good end to the 2017 year, surrounded by loved ones.

We had a nice Christmas, with Daniel home from Virginia, and Peter home from college in Pullman.
 Christmas Eve it snowed, and we made it safely to Grandma Chapman's home through the Portland snow and freezing rain.
 Christmas morning it has always been the tradition to open the stockings first. The children used to look a lot more excited, but they have become too cool, I guess. And some of them need coffee to function in the mornings now.
 Steve and I are working on the art of selfie taking.
 Steve's mom is looking very sweet in this picture.
I finished the socks from the yarn I bought in Annapolis for Daniel. These and the Stashbuster socks for Peter were my only handmade gifts this Christmas. I have two more pairs on the needles right now which may be future Christmas presents, or "just because" presents, for Steve and the boys. But I am a little bored with sock knitting for the moment.

New Year's resolutions: actually, not anything specific. Read more, blog and write more, knit more, finish more quilts; improve the Latin for Duolingo course, which now has more than 650 learners on Memrise (ironically, a better host than Duolingo); get the house organized, organize health and dental care for those of us who need it, organize Tertia's affairs as we are now officially her guardians. Mostly, we have some major purchases and expenses that are overdue; many are holdovers from 2017, which was full of unexpected expenses. So very unpoetical, but that is why the creative things are important.

Wishing everyone a happy, productive and healthy 2018!