Author Archives: Andrea R Huelsenbeck

About Andrea R Huelsenbeck

Andrea R Huelsenbeck is a wife, a mother of five and a former elementary general music teacher. A freelance writer in the 1990s, her nonfiction articles and book reviews appeared in Raising Arizona Kids, Christian Library Journal, and other publications. She is currently working on a young adult mystical fantasy novel and a mystery.

From the Creator’s Heart #378

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For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.  For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.” (Romans 1:16-17 NIV)

First Lessons in Quilting with the Moxie

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I have now taken five of my six one-on-one introductory lessons with a Handi Quilter educator, Cheryl, via Zoom. (Apparently that was a Back-to-School promotion that I didn’t even know I was eligible for.) The manuals that came with my machine only go so far to tell me how to actually quilt with Moxie. The manuals are supplemented by series of videos on the Handi Quilter website and on the Pro-Stitcher website. Plus, many quilters post their own video tutorials on YouTube.

Having the live Handi Quilter educator is great, because I can ask Cheryl my questions and get a direct answer. I love Zoom. Cheryl lives in Ontario, Canada, and I can see her sewing room, and she can see mine. Magic!

The best way to get to know the machine and the software is to use ALL of the resources. I started out by reading the materials, then watching the videos in between my sessions with Cheryl. She would cover her lessons and my questions, but the real learning came when I actually tried things out under her supervision and on my own. She stood by while I threaded the machine by myself for the first time and watched while I loaded my practice quilt onto the machine. But I’ve done my first stitching explorations on my own.

e's and l's

I first tried free motion quilting. The Getting Started guide suggested stitching cursive e’s and l’s for practice. That should be easy, right? But not for me. I did about five rows, right side up and upside down, and they look like chunky baseball bats. I tried to make them more slender, and more rounded at the top, but I just couldn’t. I see a lot of practice ahead of me.

Then I tried stippling. No. I have corners instead of curves. I think I’m moving too fast, too jerky. I think I have to go slower and concentrate on moving smoothly. Like I said, practice.

Stippling

Then I tried the robotic sewing. There are lots of steps in setting things up on the tablet that holds the program. I watched some videos again and made step-by-step notes. Then when I tried it out, it wouldn’t work, so I watched the videos some more. There are so many icons, so many steps, that I missed small parts of the processes when the demonstrator talked fast or didn’t exactly stop and show which button she was pressing on the video. But after about three hours of studying and attempting, I was able to make a feathered wreath.

Much better than what I can do by hand.

Feathered wreath
Feathered wreath detail

On another day I tried a continuous line pattern, a connecting spiral, but I couldn’t find the video that shows how to repeat a design a few times (as opposed to setting up the whole quilt to be done), so I tried to figure it out myself. I decided to set up a rectangular area that I would quilt with two connected spirals. I thought I sized it perfectly. I lined the first up with the left hand side of my rectangle, and when it was done, I moved the design to the right hand side of my area. As it turned out, I did NOT size it up perfectly, and the second spiral overlapped the first. Oh well. I learned one way that doesn’t work. I asked Cheryl to explain the process to me, and I think I understand better now.

spirals

Clearly I need a lot more practice before I attempt to quilt an actual quilt that I want to use or give away.

Loading the quilt on the smaller frame is harder than I expected. It’s hard to get it straight. On the loft frame, you just ratchet it, and it rolls smoothly. With the smaller frame that I have, you remove the clamps, reposition the quilt, and reattach the clamps.

Maybe I’m too old to do this. This machine is expensive—what if I never get good enough to use it properly? Greg really encouraged me to go for it—he even gave me most of the money for it.

They say that one of the best ways to exercise your brain is to learn new things. Hopefully I’ll be continuing to exercise my brain in the coming years and actually get good at quilting.

Creative Juice #319

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Creative Juice #319

The Thanksgiving weekend edition. I’m thankful for all the creative artists who inspire us.

Kammie’s Oddball Challenge: Gentle Reminder

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Gentle reminder

More Oddballs.

From a Thankful Heart

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Wordless Wednesday: Our Neighborhood Little Free Library

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My neighborhood Little Free Library

The Case for NOT Describing your Character’s Appearance

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The Case for NOT Describing your Character’s Appearance

When I read a good novel, I identify so strongly with the main female character that I picture her as looking a lot like me—not necessarily the plump little old lady I am today, but the idealized version of me at the character’s age (maybe a little more voluptuous, taller, and put-together than my actual self). If the author describes the character as she envisions her, my subconscious won’t necessarily accept it. If the character’s inner dialogue matches my thought process, she’s obviously me. I cast myself playing her part in the movie version in my mind.

Doesn’t everybody do that?

Apparently not. Because in critique groups, people often say to me, “Could you describe your main character so I can visualize her?” Why shouldn’t readers visualize the character any way they want to?

stretching

In the olden days, authors often gave a complete description of their characters as they introduced them. The problem with that strategy is that the action stops. Nothing’s happening. You’re telling, not showing. You don’t see that so much in contemporary fiction. Now authors are sneaky about throwing in little bits of description here and there. Charlotte sighed and ran her fingers through her curly auburn hair. I struggle with that as a reader, especially if I see Charlotte with straight brown hair like mine. But is her hair’s texture and color important? Does it move the plot forward? Probably not.

I think I’d rather know more about Charlotte’s nature or motivation. Why does she make the choices she does? What is she hoping to accomplish? Who is she trying to get even with?

I see the necessity for describing a person in a nonfiction story, especially if the person isn’t a well-known celebrity. Then you want to see the person for himself, or at least through the eyes of the author.

But in reading fiction, you want to experience the events as if they were happening to you. You want to reside within the characters. That altered state is easier to enter if the character looks just like you. Too much description breaks the spell.

Granted, this is just my opinion. Write your story true to what you believe.

funny; humor; laughing; joy
Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

So, what do you believe about character description? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Monday Morning Wisdom #389

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Monday Morning Wisdom #389

“Seek the lofty by reading, hearing and seeing great work at some moment every day.”
—Thornton Wilder

From the Creator’s Heart #377

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Colossians 3:17

I’d Rather Be Dancing at the 33rd Annual Phoenix International Folk Dance Festival

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The title of the festival is a little misleading, in that the 32nd Festival happened in 2019, so the 33rd Annual Festival should have happened in March of 2020, but, you know, Covid.

Now we’re operating as though we’re almost back to normal (even though in Maricopa County, where Phoenix is located, 1500 people are still testing positive for Covid every day, and 34 people died of Covid last week). Masks were optional at the festival, which finally took place last Saturday, November 12, 2022.

Nevertheless, it was the first time I’d gathered with our large group since before the pandemic, and it was great to see many old friends. People came down from Prescott and Flagstaff and up from Tucson and Oro Valley. One former member came all the way from Florida. A group of hosts brought a van-load of foreign exchange students from their temporary homes in Sierra Vista. There may have been others who traveled great distances.

At our festival, anyone who wants to dance is encouraged to do so. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a beginner or you’ve been dancing all your life. You see many skills levels, and it’s beautiful.

The festival ran for four hours. I didn’t think I’d have the stamina for that long, but I stayed three and a half hours. I sat out some of the more vigorous dances and filmed them instead, so I have some videos to share.

From Romania, Sirba din Cimpoi:

From Bulgaria, Varnenski Kjuček:

From Bulgaria, Vlasko Horo:

A Greek/Roma dance, Chikulata Chikita:

From Israel, Adir Adiram:

A dance from the Roma people, Cine Are Noroc Are:

From Bulgaria, Vrapceto. The exchange students wanted to join in as well, but they got hung up on the basket weave handhold until some of the dancers noticed and helped out.

From Turkey, Kirmizi Biber:

Three quarters through the program, community dancing took a break as several members of the Tucson International Folk Dancers entertained us with American dances going back as far as the 1920s.

It Don’t Mean a Thing If It Ain’t Got that Swing:

Lambeth Walk:

Maple Leaf Rag:

Tennessee Wig Walk:

And everyone was up again and dancing together for one more American dance, Louisianna Saturday Night:

For the rest of the afternoon until my early departure, there were a string of dances I really wanted to dance, so I don’t have any more videos to share.

We all had a wonderful time. I hope I see you there next year. And if you wish you could do folk dances like these, google “international folk dancing near me.” There are dance groups all across the country. We often have visitors at our Tuesday night dances who just happen to be passing through Phoenix and were looking for someplace to dance.

You might have noticed that a lot of our dancers are senior citizens. Some are well over 80 years old. Dancing keeps you young. It’s good exercise for the body and the brain, and it’s fun.