Reading Fun and a New Tool

This post is a little off the topic of quilting, but I’ll tell you about my new applique toy at the end. Yesterday the second grader came after school with the condition that he read for 30 minutes. However, for some reason his book didn’t make it to his bookbag so we had to find something to read here. At first I didn’t think I would find a chapter book that was right for a second grader, but then I spied my Shel Silverstein, A Light in the Attic, a favorite. We read 29 pages and it was so much fun to watch that little boy read as he understood the subtle humor and threw his head back and giggled out loud.

My husband reads every night at bedtime. He is a very careful, detailed reader and always goes back and re-reads the last couple of pages before starting new material. For the last few years he has read on a Kindle paperwhite. About a week ago he bought a book on World War I which is over a thousand pages and has lots of pictures and charts. He bought the real book this time rather than a digital book for the Kindle. The first night when he started the book, he reached over to turn out the light and then realized he couldn’t read a real book in the dark. We had a little chuckle over that.

I listen to audiobooks that I get from the public library or from Audible. The best book I’ve “read” in recent weeks was A Fire Sparkling by Julianne MacLean. It is about a young American woman who discovers pictures of her grandmother with a Nazi soldier. The story plays out with her grandmother telling how it happened. It is a fascinating story, and I got a lot of stitching done while listening. This was one of those books that I wanted to know what happened, but didn’t want it to end.

And now for my new “tool”. I bought a Cricut Maker to cut fabric appliques. And I LOVE it. It has a rotary blade and cuts the most beautiful, crisp fabric shapes I have ever seen. The computer software interface is not nearly as nice as the Silhouette interface, but the cutting is better than any other I’ve seen.

Ezri’s Surgery

Ezri is scheduled for surgery tomorrow, Friday-May 6, at 7am Pacific time. Please pray for her and for her doctors. You can keep up to date on her CaringBridge site:

We had a very good visit with her surgeon today – and hope to have good news tomorrow. He says the residual is in a very hard to reach place, and he would never risk damage just to get residual but will do his best.

On the frame and off

Blogging has taken a back seat the last few weeks. Perhaps I should explain. Our oldest granddaughter was born with a brain tumor called a hypothalamic hamartoma. Her tumor was 1-1/2 inches in diameter. While this is classified as ‘benign’ — it’s effects are not benign. It causes gelastic and dacrystic seizures, both of which can progress to more serious complex and tonic clonic seizures over time. For many children, these seizures – although lasting only seconds sometimes – can occur up to hundreds of times in a day. This inability to focus will eventually cause cognitive delay. For our granddaughter, the seizures are very brief lasting only seconds and occur 40-60 times per day. The majority of her seizures are the dacrystic type which cause crying and sadness. She does still have gelastic or laughing seizures too. She was four years old in December and has already had three brain surgeries which have resulted in the removal of all but a few remnants of the tumor. And now, the time will soon be here for a fourth surgery to remove those remnants. That has been on my mind, and although I’ve been quilting, it’s hard to write about anything.

She’s a very sweet and happy little girl except during these brief episodes when the sadness overtakes her. Lately, when there’s a lot going on around her and things get noisy, whether it’s her preschool classroom or at home, she will announce, “Inside voices, please.” Other times she will tell us, “I’m not all right.” We hope you’ll keep her in your thoughts and prayers. The surgery will be in May, near the end of school. The photo below was taken in January when she was clowning around with the glasses from her doctor’s kit.

Ezri 01-2011

You can find more information about this disorder at and also about Ezri by following the Caring Bridge link in the right column.

Goodbye and Hello!

A reception was held yesterday for my retirement from the Clinical Research Center at UNC. It was a wonderful party, and I am sad to be leaving but excited about the opportunities that it will create. I felt humbled by the kind and generous comments about my work and grateful to everyone who worked so hard to make the event a success. Who would have expected a cake with one of my own quilting designs on it? And what a surprise to see all of the former Program Directors and to have them speak about what we accomplished together over the years. The very funny farewell video was so professional and funny.  Here are some images from the party, and I’ll have more after another dinner tonight.

Being present and giving all

“When we do the best that we can, we never know what miracle is wrought in our life, or in the life of another.”  Helen Keller

As I reflect on the last few weeks/months of my life at work, I am struck over and over by how important everything we do or say means to sucess and happiness in the lives of others.  Giving less than our best, whether it is in kindness or in productivity, can have profound effects. I think of this in terms of our beautiful granddaughter, Ezri, and her brain tumor and our continuing search for a scientific miracle. I think of this in terms of the individuals who work for me who trust me to promote the business of research so that they have jobs to support their families. I think of this in terms of those same individuals who have to do their best in order for me to promote the business of research. I think of this in terms of my peers who provide lateral support for my work and how much my best depends upon their best. And I think of this in terms of the scientists who cannot discover miracles unless they get the best from me. Miracles depend on everyone, and when one person is not present and does not do their best, then those miracles will be delayed or perhaps they don’t happen at all and that hurts someone.

This week we got house plans from Food for the Poor for houses for individuals in Nicaragua, Dominican Republic, Haiti, and Guyana. These houses are designed to withstand weather conditions and to provide safe shelter for the residents there. The cost of one of these houses is about $2600. That’s just a little more than we Americans would spend for an HDTV. How different are our needs and their needs. How much are we willing to give?


the little things . . .

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Yesterday was a day when two very difficult weeks eased into a distant memory, and I was left feeling great appreciation and satisfaction that it was successfully over. After two weeks of having my bone densitometer not working and having to cancel patient after patient appointment, six service visits from four engineers, and having electricians in to rewire the lab, everything was repaired and put back into order. The culprit that wreaked all this havoc was a tiny 1/4″ washer that was blocking the x-ray beam. Who knows how long it had been there – it was in a part of the machine that was sealed. The machine movement caused the washer to migrate over time until it got to a place that caused all this trouble. It was so tiny that four engineers worked on this machine and no one saw it.

In this country where we have too much to do and not enough time to do it, each engineer was trying to get the work done quickly and go on to their next appointment. Each of them came from a distance and still had far to go. They replaced every part in the machine that could have been causing trouble. The engineer that came yesterday came from farther away and had another call in the evening when that lab was closed. So, he had all day to spend with us, and he was kind and patient. He was more experienced than any of the previous engineers and worked quickly, but methodically from top to bottom to make sure each part of the process was exactly right. He was of great assistance to me because he knew the machine software even better than I do, and he gave me great advice about how to maintain my unique configuration.

 It was just before noon when the lab technician came in to show me the washer. I’m going to have it framed.

Continue reading “the little things . . .”