Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Last Halloween I was at the beginning of a long, difficult project. Hubby and I own the home that was built by my grandparents and then passed to my mom and then passed to me. With the hope of living in that home one day, we have rented it out for the last 15 years. Last fall we had to evict a long-term tenant due to the condition the house and property was found in during an annual inspection by the property manager.
The list of needed repairs was long. Some things were just normal wear and tear, others things required extensive repair, the walls had cracks from earthquakes, the plumbing was failing due to it's age, the lawn was dead and landscaping over-grown, etc., etc., etc. It made me cry to see it in such bad shape. I made a list of what needed to be done and with the help of the terrific women at the property manager's office found an outstanding contractor, a painter, a plumber and landscaper.
Over the next several months, Hubby and I made several trips to check the work, pick out paint colors, window treatments, carpet, new appliances, fixtures for the sinks, tile, and put in some good old-fashioned elbow grease of our own.
On one such trip I saw the greenery from the bulbs that had always been planted in the backyard along side the house. I had forgotten all about them, but suddenly remembered my grandma and my mom tending to them -- cutting them back after they bloomed, digging them up to separate and replant again. I remembered how cheerful it was to see those first blossoms in late February and early March.
I made a quick trip to the hardware store for a trowel and a container. I then dug up a bunch of the bulbs to bring home for my own yard. They didn't take the 300+ mile car ride too well. I prepared a nice place for them in my yard and tried talking to them nicely. The greenery wilted, died off -- no blooms in spring here. I cut back the brown foliage and sort of forgot about them again.
We made our last trip to the house in March. It looked great -- everything fresh and shiny new. I felt good because the house knew that we still loved it. We found a good family to live there and take good care of it for us.
Today I noticed this little bloom in my yard -- they survived the move after all. It was a long year full of hard work and lots of emotions. I think this little flower sums it up and closes it out very nicely. Posted by Picasa

Monday, October 30, 2006

This is my other spot. Yesterday I showed where I sit to do handwork. This is where I keep my machine set up. I used to take everything down and put it neatly out of sight. Then I only put it away when company was coming. Now it is basically a permanent set-up. At a 90 degree angle to the sewing table, I put up the ironing board to my right. I do put it away because it completely blocks the front door otherwise.The entertainment center is on wheels, so I pull it away from the wall in order to see what's happening while sitting at the machine. At one time, I tried setting up camp in The Princess' former bedroom. Even though I am here alone during the day, I felt isolated in the far corner of the house. This has turned out to be a good solution. Hubby doesn't seem to mind the clutter and I feel right in the thick of things. It has turned out to be a good solution.
Several of you spied quilts in yesterdays post and asked about them. The quilt on the ottoman and on the treadle can be seen in posts from September. The quilt on the wall is called Prairie Star and was made entirely from the scrapbag and stash. It was one of those quilts that spoke to me at the quilt shop. I bought the pattern and had the top pieced the next day. Originally I was thinking of it as a 'spring' quilt because I used pink and blue in the applique -- not colors you normally see in my quilts. After spring was over, I just wasn't ready to put it away for a whole year. It has moved around the house all summer and fall. I'll put it away during Christmas and it will be right back out again after the first of the year.

Update - the fire is now 70% contained. We had a nice marine layer this morning which usually means good things for the fire fighting efforts further inland. They are actively looking for the arsonist that started the fire and the reward has grown quite large. Posted by Picasa

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Here it is -- My Spot. This is where I watch t.v., leaf through magazines and do handwork. The chair is nice and comfy. I have two lamps - one on each side of me - and the sliding glass door behind, all to provide lots of light. I have pincushion, thread, thimbles (and the remote control *s*) all within reach on the table. I store extras in the drawers. My basket of hexagons is ever present right at my feet. Hubby's chair is just out of view on the other side of the table. When I'm alone, I turn the ottoman so it's directly in front of my chair. When Hubby has joined me, we put it in the middle and share. Harper likes the ottoman, but prefers if we beg her to get on it. If I am up doing things around the house, she will sit in my chair and look out the window. She never sits in Hubby's chair.
I found this little surprise in my mailbox Saturday morning. Earlier I shared the fall Valentine that I made for Hubby and talked about my favorite 'quiltworthy' fabric. Linda came across this lovely piece in her stash and sent it my way. I know just the project I'm going to use it in. I can't even begin to express how excited I was over this piece of fabric or how sweet it was of her to think of me and send it my way. Aren't quilters just the best?
The last photo is Harper in her spot. She hopped right up on her ottoman and got cozy. She is not always cooperative when it comes to looking at the camera, but she does seem quite pleased with her pose.  Posted by Picasa

Friday, October 27, 2006

I heard on the radio yesterday morning there was a fast moving fire that had consumed 800 acres in the Banning area - about 80 to 90 miles east of here. In the afternoon, our beautiful clear day was gone and smoke was beginning to fill the sky. I had heard no news of a local fire and it didn't seem possible the smoke could be from so far away. I turned on the television around 4 p.m.to learn the 800 acres had grown to 10,000 in just few hours, 4 firefighters lost their lives and homes were being threatened. I took this picture in the backyard just before 6. What you see is not fog but smoke from the fire. It smelled like the bottom of my fireplace out there. At 8 p.m., the fire had grown to 24,000+ acres and it had been determined it was set by an arsonist. I just can't imagine getting satisfaction from causing so much destruction and devastating the lives of so many people. I hope today they have agreeable weather that allows the firefighters to begin containing the fire. It's the best we can hope for.
In the meantime, I hope to get something quilty done today. I have been working on my hexagons the last couple of evenings. The fabric I ordered to complete borders and backing for the Buzzsaw quilt arrived yesterday afternoon. I also want to start working on a new project. I have intended to start cutting the fabric for the last two days but keep getting sidetracked. Hopefully today I will get started on it -- so I can share it with you .... next time. Posted by Picasa

Monday, October 23, 2006

I do love it when my brain engages. It happens from time to time and it does make me smile. I have a little pile of quilts - 3 wallhangings - that I didn't know what to do with them. They are from VERY early in my quilting career. In one case, the fabric choice is quite questionable. For all of them, it is quite clear that I was still trying to become comfortable with free-motion machine quilting. Don't get me wrong here. When I made these quilts, I was as proud as proud could be. I felt like I had really accomplished a feat. Now I don't know that I want to share and defend my workmanship on these little beauties. So here they sit, in a pile, unused and unseen.
The idea came to me yesterday afternoon. When I am sitting at the computer, I look at the fence. It is only a few feet away from the window. It's not an ugly fence, but it's not particularly attractive either. I can hang my quilts on the fence for something more interesting to look at. This is the north side of the house, very little sun reaches this area. I'll bring them in during the rainy season.
This quilt is from a Country Threads pattern that I did after about 6 months of quilting. The beaks were my first applique -- what a struggle. Should have started with much bigger pieces. I tried quilting a different motif on each chicken. I don't know why, I just did and I never really liked the result. This morning I sat down, opened the blinds and saw my little hens just peeking in at me. I think we are all going to be happy now. Posted by Picasa

Friday, October 20, 2006

The beginnings of a beautiful day. So much attention is paid to the sunsets here in coastal southern California. People travel from far and wide to stand staring at the horizon as the sun disappears from view each evening. The Princess and I once witnessed a large gathering break into applause as the sun dipped below the horizon.
As soon as that last glimpse disappears, the crowds disperse -- show over. What they don't realize is that the show has just begun. All of the beautiful colors in the sky -- orange, pink, red, purple as it turns to the inky black of the night.
Night is simply the intermission of the dazzling show. In the morning, we get the second act. From the darkness we get a reverse of the previous day's colors. Less intense in depth. Pink and yellow streaks in the eastern sky becoming more pale as the sun rises again until only the blue is left to be seen and we are left with a fresh, new day.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Here they are -- all the blocks put together. This was really fun to piece (and share in little tiny bits) The borders have to wait until next week because I am waiting for more of the gold fabric to come in the mail. A 2" gold, 2" red and 6" gold will make it fit a double/full bed.

This quilt is being donated to the Wounded Warrior Center. I had seen these articles in the paper on the dates they originally ran and just kind of kept them in my head.

My on-going quilting class is making quilts using this block but with multiple fabrics. Originally I had planned to skip the project and just work on finishing existing projects. Last week, after listening to all the ladies gab for 3 hours, I decided maybe I would like to play along, save myself some brain cells and use only two fabrics. Digging through my stash, I came up with these two which seemed to go well together and I had lots of them. As they sat on the sewing table waiting to be cut, it occurred to me that these are the colors of the USMC - scarlet and gold. Hmmmm -- this is a masculine block, the fabrics are plaid . . . . seemed like this quilt would fit the bill just perfectly. Posted by Picasa
Here it is -- BuzzSaw, Tessellating Star or any number of other names the block goes by. I had a lot of fun teasing the progress and quite of few of you guessed right away. Clever ladies, you bloggers are. I have 56 of these blocks now. The Lord willing and the creek don't rise, I will be able to post a photo of the top later this afternoon (sans borders) Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

A little bit more. After some quick calculations, I find that I should have 64 more of these units before I go on. Time to get cutting. Posted by Picasa
Here is it .... the next step in my new quilt. I had such fun putting pieces of fabric through my machine yesterday afternoon. I must confess that curiosity got the better of me and I made a completed block to see what it will look like. Ahhh -- no no no -- don't try to steal a peak. I'm making you wait. Let the suspense build. It will be fun. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

I'm sewing!!! After what seems like a long time of spinning my wheels, I finally ironed, cut and sewed some fabrics together yesterday. Hey -- did you guys know that this is fun? I can't wait to get my chores done this morning so I can get to the machine and stitch away. What's it going to be? Oh, that will have to be a secret for the time being. I'll post more photos as I make more progress.
We have been having internet issues here for the last several days. In particular, e-mail drama. Our internet provider has been taken over by another company and there have been some glitches in the switches (wow, a rhyme after only one cup of coffee *s*) While I have been able to post to my blog, leave comments at other blogs, I have not been able to send or receive email.I want to say thank you to everyone who left such sweet comments on the post about my dad. It took a long time to realize that it's the sum of your life -- the good and the bad -- that make you the person you become.
Okay -- time to get busy so I can quilt. Posted by Picasa

Monday, October 16, 2006

When I was a little girl, I thought the sun rose and set in my dad. Every bit of extra time he had, he spent with me. He even had a small seat welded to the Caterpillar so I could be with him out in the field on the weekends. We had a 'secret store.' A little market where he would buy me treats. On Sundays, we would go to his business, a furniture store, he would do paper work. I would sit on the counter, open the cash register and count all of the change. I made little stacks of coins, tell him how much was there. He made me feel like I was the most clever girl that ever lived.
My parents separated when I was about 4 and the divorce was final before I began kindergarten. That was the end of that. We all lived in the same town, I saw him from time to time, but it was never the same.
I understand more about what happened now that I'm an adult. My dad(in the picture with his dad in about 1918) was a product of a broken marriage himself. He was the oldest of three boys. When his parents divorced, his mother only took the youngest boy to raise and my dad and uncle were raised by their dad. I don't think he ever forgave his mother for leaving them behind. It set him on a path to have troubled relationships with women his entire life.

We developed a relationship when I became an adult. It was not the same as when I was small, but it was warm and fun. He was a good grandpa to The Princess -- he bestowed the title upon her and made her feel like one. He made us laugh when he deemed chopsticks the only civilized way to eat - then proceeded to eat all his meals with them. We played cards, he beat us all the time and just when it looked like he could never pull it out. He loved to go on picnics and go on long walks. When he retired, he seemed to mellow and relax. He began to enjoy life and the people around him.
It has been five years since he passed away. His wife gave me the cash register from the store. She told me that it had been a gift to my dad from his own dad when he went into business. I never realized that it might have sentimental value for him, too. It's right here on the desk. I keep coins in the trays ready to be counted. Posted by Picasa

Friday, October 13, 2006

The punched rug project is finished. I completed the needlepunch part a couple of weeks ago, laid it aside and sort of forgot about it. I saw it sitting on the sewing table yesterday and decided it was high time to do the last little bit. I trimmed down the excess Monk's cloth and finished off the edges on the back by turning it under and stitching it down. I'm sure there is a far more professional method to this, but I think my way will work out okay. I don't know yet where I will put this. Right now it's just laying in the floor. I know it's a rug -- that's where it should be. It's rather narrow for standing on in front of the sink or something and it's pretty darned heavy to hang on the wall. I'll just leave it as is for now. Something will come to me.
I have also been working on a hand quilting project. This time utility quilting with perle cotton. I hand quilt using a hoop and the weather here is still quite warm. This project may get laid aside for a bit. The quilt is pretty good sized and I chose a wool batt -- gets a little toasty under there.
I should take some time to clean up and organize my fabrics and books. I don't have a dedicated sewing room. I have a table with my machine and supplies set up in the living room. I use The Princess' bedroom to hold all the fabrics, books, magazines and other quilting goodies. Right now there is fabric everywhere in there. It's a little hard to think about a project when I can't really see what I have to work with. Well, now I guess I know what I'll be doing this weekend ..... Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Getting back into the swing of things ...
The suitcases are unpacked, the laundry is done, groceries fill the cupboards, the mail has been dealt with and there has been a modest amount of housecleaning done. I think I can start thinking about quilting again. Tonight is my weekly class and I know they are beginning a new project (which I am not prepared to start with them.) I have a hand-quilting project that I have been working on or the ever-present hexagons to keep me busy tonight. That will give me time to decide if I want to take on the class project or start on one I have planned at home. Both will require some concentration, so I can't work on both at the same time. Also I need to begin thinking about Christmas and gifts that I want/need to make. That will take priority over all.

The hand-quilting I am doing now isn't far enough along to share a photo. This is a whole-cloth that I did last winter. It is about 40" square. I purchased it pre-printed from a vendor at a local quilt show and let it age in the closet for a couple of years. I used a very thin batt and like the result. I applied a coffee and tea concoction to dye it when I was done. I learned about walnut ink crystals from Nancy at Tom Miner Folk Art recently. I am planning on giving that method a go the next time I want to give a quilt a time-worn look -- possibly the one I'm working on now. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

I was tagged. May Britt at Abyquilt put out a challenge for a list of five weird things to list about me and/or my pets. When I say challenge, I do mean challenge. I have been thinking on this for 3 or 4 days now. I often think that I travel in a slightly different orbit than the rest of the world, so there are many odd things about me. Where to begin? Hmmmm ....

For starters, when I tried out for the choir in high school I was put in the tenor section. At first I wasn't too happy about this development. It seemed like the sopranos had all the glory - or at least an easier time because they often had the melody. Soon it became clear that my position was a good one. I got to sit smack dab in the middle of all of the boys. Those sopranos didn't have it so good after all.

I like almost all foods, with the exception of lima beans -- there's just nothing that can make a lima bean taste good. That said, I much prefer to have my foods separate. I like broccoli and I enjoy cheese; however, I don't understand putting cheese all over the broccoli. I try to keep my dinner plate in nice sections with foods not touching. When I was young this was VERY important and I ate my way around the plate. All one thing before moving on to the next, starting with the worst thing and ending with the food I liked the most. Except when those lima beans made an appearance. Always I would end up sitting at the table, all alone, trying to choke them down. Very dramatic as you might imagine.

I enjoy reading aloud. Since The Princess is all grown up now and doesn't ask me to read her books any longer, I now read to Harper (and Dizzy, while he was still with us). I only have to say, "Let's read a story," and they will gather round. If I'm reading a novel, Harper's attention span only lasts a chapter or two. To Kill A Mockingbird is my favorite book, Harper is named for the author. I have read it to her, cover to cover, at least twice -- we skip the over the part about ole Tim Johnson, the rabid dog *s*

When I take mail to the post office and drop it in the drive-up boxes, I have to touch the mailbox twice after I put the mail in and before I drive away. I don't really remember why or when this started. I just know that I must do it or the mail will not be properly delivered.

I'll finish up with something weird about Harper. She is a 'dainty drinker' not like a dog at all. She drinks from the forward side of her bowl, lapping the water back toward her with her tongue. This allows her nose to be over the edge of the bowl with no chance of any water splashing on her, going up her nose or getting her wet. While you can touch her, scratch her, or talk to her all you want while she is eating, she will not be distracted when getting a drink. If you do any of those things, she just stops and waits patiently 'til you're done and she can begin again.

Okay, that's five things. Much harder than I thought it would be, but fun. If anyone wants to play along, consider yourself tagged. I would love to read what you think is weird about you.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Home again - home again .....
We had such a wonderful vacation. Hubby was off work for two whole weeks. The first we week we were at home doing all those things that get put aside for another day. Last week we went to Flagstaff, AZ and Las Vegas. It was a wonderful, relaxing trip.
Let me start by saying that I love Flagstaff. I love seeing the mountains, smelling the Ponderosa pines, the downtown area with fun, funky shops and a real sense of community and activities.
The first picture is of Riordan Mansion. It is now part of the Arizona State Park system. We found it on our first trip to Flagstaff by looking through the phone book. I try to go each time I am there. The tours are a little different each time depending on the tourguide. Because it is completely furnished with the family's belongings, it really feels like a home and you come away with a sense of what life was like there in 1904 and beyond.

We also went out the the Arboretum Many of the plants were in their 'fall decline' but we had some spectacular views of the San Francisco Peaks. You can see the line of quaking aspens that were in full autumn color about mid-way up. We just don't get these kinds of fall displays where I live and I felt like I was gape-mouthed most of the time we were there.
Later we drove out to Arizona Snowbowl to get a closer look at the aspens. Oh my, it was just gorgeous. We took some stops along the way up for photo-ops. I didn't even realize how far into the distance you could see until I came home and started looking at the pictures. I think my brain and eyes just kept focusing in on the color. So much open space is just vast and breathtaking.Hubby pointed out how the clouds are puffy on the top and very flat on the bottom. Some sort of atmospheric pressure system, I'm sure, but fun to look at.
We are always hoping to see some wildlife. There are signs all along the roads cautioning to watch for elk. We saw a couple of chipmunks and that's about it. Don't you think an elk would look perfect just inside the fence here? Just grazing away. Too bad I don't know how to photoshop.

After Flagstaff, we drove to Las Vegas. This was only our 2nd time there. The first trip was a couple of years ago and in July -- what were we thinking? It was blazing hot.
On this trip we drove over Hoover Dam. Now I am not fond of driving over bridges, so this was not my favorite part of the trip. Way to high and nowhere to go but over the side. There were crowds and crowds of people driving and walking all around. I did like the art deco feel of the dam and it's buildings. I'm sure Hubby would love to go back and go through the tour -- best to leave Libby behind, I would be a killjoy for sure.

Las Vegas was very Las Vegas-y -- lots of lights, bells, whistles, music, etc. On our first night, a friend who lives there met us and we had a nice visit. The next day was our anniversary day. It was raining off and on so we didn't walk around as much as we thought we might. We had a wonderful dinner at The Melting Pot on a recommendation of The Princess. I am still full. Who would think that eating little pieces of food dipped into cheeses, sauces or chocolate could be so filling. It was delicious and the company was perfect. It was a very nice trip all around.It took me a while to go read through everyone's posts. I tried to leave a comment here and there. Now I think I'm all caught up. The unpacking is done, laundry is put away, food in the cupboards .... a few more errands and a little housecleaning and it will be business as usual. Time to start counting the days until the next vacation. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Each year on this day at 8 p m, Hubby and I look at one another with a little smile. We don’t really need to bother voicing the question any longer, but we do. “Does it feel like we’ve been married (insert number of years here)? The answer is the same, “Yes and no.”
Today the parenthetical number is 27. How the time has flown. Oh there were years that seemed as though they would never end; but those came courtesy of outside forces, making us struggle to get through the days. Sometimes we forget to drink in the joys of the good years as they are happening. Our memories are still good and we take the time to reminisce on them now.

Gosh, weren’t we young back then. We didn’t know a lot about the world, but we were ready to take it on together. And take it on we have. I don’t think we look too much worse for the wear. There is no secret – we face life as a team, always united. We enjoy an inside joke, we play games often – board games, card games, games we make up. No one lets us be on the same team. We respect one another and always try to be kind. Above all else we love one another a little more each day.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

October already. Kids are settled into their daily school routine, the first leaf from my neighbor's yard blew over today, plans are being made for Harvest Festivals and Halloween costumes ... and I'm still trying to figure out where the summer went. I do love fall - a time to slow down and prepare to renew yourself for the spring that is sure to come.

I am going on a little trip this week -- to the mountains where I can feel the crisp morning air, warm sunshiny afternoons, smell the pine needles and take in the wonderful colors that mother nature brings us at this time of year.

I'll leave you with fall quilt, pattern unknown. It was made during my 'why bother to make a label' period. I just know it has some of my favorite colors, lots of brushed cottons and looks good on my dining room table. See you all next week. Posted by Picasa