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December 26, 2010

In My Dreams

This is my dream trip. At least the one at the top of the list; there are dozens of places around the world I'd like to visit. This is Giraffe Manor in Nairobi. Built in the 1930's and offering just five overnight guest rooms, aside from the beauty and charm of the site and country, it offers Rothschild Giraffes who poke their heads in any window that happens to be open...how often can we say we breakfasted with something like this as our companion? Or sat and stitched a quilt in a place like this?

Sunday Thankies
Dreams
Possibilities
Hopes

November 30, 2010

The World Is Too Much With Us

I'll admit it, my Christmas seasons are simple. We haven't done gifts for years and years, we weren't even living at home the last two years so no tree, I quit sending cards when postage went up to .15 cents...mid-70's? In spite of that kind of humbuggerish attitude I do enjoy the season very much. I do appreciate that people go to a lot of work to light up their homes and I love taking an evening just to drive around and look at them. I sing along with Rudolph and I LOVE The Grinch Who Stole Christmas. Sometimes we do hang our Christmas stocking which are large and grow funny bulges as December progresses.

But there doesn't seem anywhere to go where we can shut off the world and enjoy something simple. Something so rare in the house that we'd go back to it over and over...I'm talking about the 1950's women's magazines that always had a 4-6 page Christmas story for children with lovely graphics. My brother and I LOVED them! It was the only month of the year mother would buy magazines. It's been a long long time ago when a kid would or could be entertained for a month with a ten cent publication. And it wouldn't be politically correct anymore anyway.

Saying that makes me suddenly realize that now, in her 80's, magazine subscriptions are mother's hobby, the more unusual the better. It's the only thing of hers I'd like to inherit; her neatly boxed issues surely hold a wealth of interesting fun for my info-junkie mind.
Tuesday Thankies
Memory that works
My Facets Friends
The Simple Life

September 5, 2010

Good Hair Day Bad Hair Day

My girls are worth their weight in gold just for the entertainment value. We have an area under some enormous fir trees that is dry as a bone. Chickens never waste anything so they've made it their spa area. They have excavations dug out deeper than they are tall. They jump in, start flinging dusty soil, and fling/squirm/fling/squirm until they feel they've gotten their groats worth of spa treatment.

Yet twenty minutes later they will be bellied up to the beverage bar sleek and glossy, all blue/green/purple iridescent. How do they get so clean so fast? There must be a room at the chicken spa I'm not privy to.

The working wall of my mind has been kicking in, mulling over ideas for my next quilt top as my Boston Strippy winds down. I think the root seed will be the Lily Rosenberry pattern a really stunning quilt by Sue Garman. Mentally I'm already a long way from the original though...I love to mess with the recipe, quilting or cooking either one.

Sunday Thankies
Chicken song MyTunes
Nero Wolf TV series
Shovels for every task

July 17, 2010

Sanctuary and Sewing

I savored some sewing time in my personal sanctuary last Wednesday. I swear, time spent here is better for me than anything a doctor could prescribe. Do you have a place where it just feels good to go? This year I added two new duck decoys and a white ibis, Tibetan prayer flags, and yesterday I added a 40 foot string of tiny solar powered lights around the dock for those times of meditative solitude and solace of a warm late summer evening. I wish each of you could spend a couple of hours here for healing and inner peacefulness. It is nothing more than a common old farm pond, but it seems to vibrate with spirituality. Or something :)

I wrote a few posts back that quilt books have gotten so expensive as to be entirely outside my budget. I think it's been years since I bought any new quilt books, I don't take any quilt magazines...and although I do have a budget I also think we need to remember to savor the good things of life and treat ourself with the respect and care we treat others with. So with all that obfuscation blurring my good intentions, I ordered four new quilt books. They came yesterday so now I'm off to the porch swing with a fresh cuppa and mind candy to savor.

Saturday Thankies
That the weed spraying is finished for the year
That we have tractors and equipment to make the job easier
That my (Y) doesn't have to spend six hours on the tractor seat every day.

June 29, 2010

I Love Appliqué

Somewhere in the deep distant past I was advised that we can only love people, not ideas or things. Phooey on that, I love appliqué and Valentine conversation hearts and fresh mown grass. I'm at the farm this week, enjoying the sanctuary of my dock and pond (which I love) and doing the prep work (which I love) for the appliqué strips on the Boston Strippy quilt shown below, and listening to the seventh book of the Gunslinger/Dark Tower series (which I love...). In the book Roland refers to Stephen King as a Wordslinger. That makes me both a wordsmith and needleslinger, love the imagery.

I need to test drive the workability of quilt blocks that use wool as part of the appliqué. I ran across this charming quilt (pdf file, takes a minute to load) by Sheri Howard named Ruby Red Dots this morning. Way cute.

Our weekend sale went great, got to meet many of our new neighbors, had plenty of good laughs, made great money, got rid of a ton of stuff, including quilt books and wall quilts. Goodbye space takers, hello fresh new ideas.

Tuesday Thankies
A multitude of things to love
The smell of a good quilt store
The smell of a good book store

June 6, 2010

The Bee's Knees

They are here! Moving hives isn't something I'm in a hurry to do again any time soon, those boxes are heavy, and many many thousands of bees, buzzing in your ear, has a tendency to up the anxiety level.

These hives boxes are in bad shape, so once all the extras (58 by actual count) are cleaned and refurbished we'll be gently lifting out each frame of bee babies (10 per box) and place them gently in their new home. Bee suits optional...but recommended! Rob fixed up a beautiful protected space for them and I hope they will be happy here.

I was asked how much honey does a bee make in a day. Less than you would think. In it's approximately six week lifetime a honey bee produces less than a teaspoon. So if I got 4-1/2 gallons from these two hives last fall, you tell me how many working bees there are here. And you'll better understand why drones are kicked to the curb once the queen is fertlized.

On the quilting front I got a big stack of 3" yo-yo's finished last night while watching Apocalypse Redux. I wonder how many times since this movie came out I've paraphrased Duvall's classic "I love the smell of Napalm in the morning"? We were down to the Veteran's Administration a few weeks ago and they want Rob to come in for a physical, they are testing everyone from that war zone for Agent Orange. Loverly. Back to the quilt, I've had a brain bomb about the border. Details to follow~

On the bread front I monkeyed a lot with this recipe for Morning Glory Muffins from my King Arthur cookbook and they turned out simply divine. Fortunately I kept notes so I can do it again, but knowing me I'll probably mess with the recipe in a new way...

Sunday Thankies
A really funny potential gig
Gypsy culture
Great clients

May 31, 2010

Idle Hands, Devil's Playground

No idle hands here. I said last fall I'd be bringing the bees home when FIL was gone. That job will probably be next weekend. Wait until dark when they are all inside, seal up the hives, bucket load them onto the pickup, whiz home, set them up in the dark, unseal, and eureka, hives are in Kalama.

The hard part? Take a look at this frame for comb. And this is a good one... Remember December before last we had big flooding in Chehalis? Most of FIL's hives were flooded, only two survived. He indicated he'd taken care of the empty hive boxes. Ermmm, No. He'd stacked them out of sight out of mind. So it falls to me to clean up musty moldy boxes. Yick. I still have at least 25 boxes left to do and it seems like I've already done a million. On the other hand, with all the beeswax I've ground into my blue pair of diva gloves they will be water proof into the next millennium.

Another chicken toy here on the right. You've heard of soap-on-a-rope? How about cabbage on a chain? They are loving this game, for the second cabbage I had to shorten the chain up :)



On the bread front, yesterday I made Bob's Red Mill Basic white bread recipe from the side of their flour bag, except I substituted 1/2 cup teff flour for 1/2 cup of the white. Beautiful results and extra yummy this morning for breakfast with my hot Kamut. Teff grain is from Ethopia.

Monday Thankies
A world of ingredients
honey bees
tea lights

April 29, 2010

Lucky Bamboo and the Art of Grief

Two years ago when I was working with my Tibetan Oracle I discovered many interesting things, one being a complete lack of the element of water in my life. Something I did to help balance that was to seek out an indoor bamboo plant for both places and work on making my pond a sanctuary.

I got to wondering this morning if the bamboo needs fertilizer, or if that wouldn't be a good idea because the plant needs to remain on the small side. Here is a good site for info on care of Lucky Bamboo which is officially Dracaena Sanderia. This plant is poisonous to pets so keep that in mind if you have a leaf chewing cat... Seeing uncared for plants in every store in the world is like seeing abandoned animals, I feel the need to save them all. I'm trying to get over that particular urge...


On the home front, yesterday afternoon on his 92 birthday FIL died, at home on his farm where he wanted to be. Rob and I had said our goodbyes when he was still conscious, so we took some time off and left the sisters to their time.  It has been an interesting experience and one we are both glad we committed to. Thank you all for sharing the journey with me. This image is one Rob took this morning as I began the second day of the thirty days of "Meditations for the Passages and Celebrations of Life", a book of vigils, by Noela N. Evans.

Thursday Thankies
The hospice staff, one and all
The kindness of Rob's employer
It isn't grey and pouring.

April 11, 2010

Thoughts on Home Hospice

There is no such thing as enough sleep.
There is no good way to talk about death to the dying.
The dying can and do refuse food and water. It's ok...it is the only thing in what remains of their life they have any control over.
Someone should have told us about mouth swabs before this.
Pop-up wipes are far better than tray wipes, speed is often of the essence.
People who can't stand on their own are Very heavy.
What to do with soiled security underwear is a big problem, before you know it you have a lot to deal with.
True colors and true hearts are all that remain.
Applesauce is a blessing.
Crystal Light is great for diabetics.
Always have a stitchers busy-bag at hand
When you run out of everything else, place head on bed and close eyes. Rest is where you find it.

Sunday Thankies
My little hens have been coming up to the house looking for me (((hugs chickens)))
Sunshine creating a walking opportunity for MIL
Lambs fleece and zinc salves
This spot, my last resort in ordering my thoughts

April 6, 2010

Chicken Toys and China Quilts

Ok...I'll have a better photo but this is my newest chicken toy for the girls. A big coffee can with 1/2" holes drilled in it, filled with sunflower seeds. They have gone mad with the fun of it. The first night when I went down to put them up for the night, they had a hole beneath the canister about two feet deep and two and a half feet wide. Kick the can, knock a few seeds out, scratch around and find them :)

I'm going to change this out for a big clear one I've got with a screw on lid, will be way more convenient than the dreaded duct tape. The blur at the end of the leg above is the kicking can effect...

back later to add: because I forgot the China Quilts part :) MIL bought a quilt made in China that she just loves but it is way too wide for her bed. So because I'm a quilter I'm going to trim four or five inches off each side, rebind it with the binding that came with the quilt. Any quilt in a storm, right? A quilter will always find a way to ply her needle.

Here at hospice manor things are changing rapidly, FIL can no longer stand or get up on his own, and has lost interest in food. Last Friday he forgot how to write his name, that was a sad day. The disconnect is what I've been expecting of course, just weird to have it be here 'already' although I've been here for two years now.

Wednesday Thankies
Grapefruit
Medline Remedy
Little lamps

March 27, 2010

All My Eggs In One Basket...

Let me start backward and say for a number of years my mother raised chickens for extra money by selling both meat and eggs. If my memory is correct she had about 500 at a time, however many, it was one of our chores to collect eggs. Her egg basket was yellow vinyl clad steel and was about the size of a bushel basket. Big.

I have nine black sex-link hens I inherited from my father-in-law and if you've read my blog you watched them grow from babies to ladies and you know I just love 'em to pieces. All this time I've been thinking about an egg basket and using cottage cheese and Cool Whip plastic cartons. Efficient but no soul at all, none, nada.

Finally my brain kicked in; it's Easter basket time, what better time to find a perfect egg basket for nine eggs a day. Eureka! Now if you were one of my little girls wouldn't you be thrilled to have your eggs gathered in a shiny silver basket loaded with color and bling? I swear the eggs even taste better. They know when they are appreciated :)

Saturday Thankies
How hard my dementia plagued FIL laughed when I showed him the basket
That my MIL bought me pink Easter grass to cushion the eggs
How out of character each action was and is treasured in my heart

March 21, 2010

Knichen, Asparagrass, Kalnking, Thumb Quilting

The three words above are father-in-law-isms. Kitchen, Asparagus, Caulking. Comes to mind because the fresh tender asparagus is coming into the produce sections now. Beyond yum. I just steam, spray with I Can't Believe It's Butter and chow down.

Not much to report on the quilt front, I'm not happy with the cornerstones of the below mentioned quilt so am rethinking that plan.

FIL gets a little weaker each week and is eating less as we wind down toward the end. Some nights he sleeps pretty well, others he is up and down three or four times an hour. "Well, I gotta get up." "How come?" "I don't know, I gotta get up."

On the other hand my little girls (hens) are eating for an army I swear. But the nine of them have laid straight through fall and winter which is quite unusual if the chicken forum group are to be believed. This is the cutest picture I've seen in awhile, click on it to see full size.

I've been asked to show what I am doing when I thumb/finger quilt, as they say a photo is worth a 1000 words. I don't use a thimble, I push the needle with my thumb or fingernail depending on which direction I'm going. The example is just on a piece of fabric, the quilt I'm working on is next door. #1 pushing away with thumb nail, #2 pushing back with finger nail. My other hand would be under the quilt letting me know each time the needle comes through. Hope the visual helps.

I started quilting with a floor frame built from instructions in a Foxfire book, 2 short side rails, 2 long top and bottom rails, sitting on chair seats. Then I used a vintage card table with the sidebars wrapped in pillow-ticking to pin to. This works beautifully because you can just work your way around the table. Then about 15 years ago I switched to strictly hoop quilting. I did buy a Grace frame in there at one point but hated it so it's gone to a friend in Canada. Back when postage was affordable. I can't imagine what it would cost to mail something like that now.

Sunday Thankies
Apple blossoms
Big grey squirrels
Yellow finches

March 9, 2010

Ruffles Have Ridges...And...


Selvages/Selvedges!!! My life is complete...wonder how many bags it would take to make a checkbook cover out of the top edges?

I also got to wondering if I've been alone too much, after I said earlier when I'm feeling blue I go down and listen to the chickens tell stories. So, info junkie that I am I looked around and found this as the first post of a looong thread on a chicken forum...names have been changed to protect the Innocent of course..."I have a house chicken named Babby. I love her dearly. I have come to realize that there are "others" out there too. I was thinking that we needed a place to chat. A place that is safe, where we won't be judged that our chickens are sitting on the couch with us eating grapes..." I laughed 'till my eyes squirted. It never crossed my mind, but now that it has...

Tuesday Thankies
Noodles
Cinnamon
Robins

March 3, 2010

How Long? How Much?

As I sit and stitch through the night at my FIL's bedside I've been thinking about a question my BIL asked clear back in 1972 when I had my first finished top on the frame. He wanted to know how long it takes to make a quilt and how much one cost, was it comparable to buying a blanket? With batting, backing, Merribee printed top, and the embroidery floss this quilt topped out at about $60.00 and it probably took about two months to quilt. It actually took three years to finish because I wasn't happy with the way the back looked and put it aside for a couple of years.

I believe this is quite common with quilters, strolling between projects. I wish I had the admirable tenacity to stick with one thing start to finish, but that isn't very exciting. Sometimes I'm in the mood for lots of machine work, and others, like now, I can't get enough of hand appliqué. As to cost today...some patterns alone are $60-80.00 if the quilter likes Block Of The Month programs. And I've done a couple of self designed whole cloth quilts that have more than 600 hours of quilting each.

In the night I've been quilting on the Raggedy Hearts quilt, another 30's self designed quilt based on the Bull's Eye technique. This quilt dates back to 2005. It took about a month to machine piece and appliqué and each year I think this is the February it will take pride of place on the bed...as long as my hand holds out 2011 might be the hallelujah February. Note that my corner stars are also raggedy, too cute.

As to how long? My stock answer for the last quarter century has been "If I were in a hurry, I'd buy a blanket".

Wednesday Thankies
Needles and thread
Ready to use batting
Wonderland of fabric...all out of reach to me, I've been on the fabric wagon since 2001

February 19, 2010

Fobbing Along

I seldom mention my MIL here at the farm, probably because at 86 she can run rings around me. Here she is taking the push mower to her front yard a few days ago. She's a little dynamo...her weight is the same as her age.
A few weeks ago I was blessed with the gift of four scissor bobs from a young woman from Australia I don't even know. They are so beautiful and I'm very grateful for her kindness. Live Long and Prosper Hayley.
Friday Thankies
Books
Soup bone stock
Eyes

February 14, 2010

Faye Anderson Appliqué Designs

I was just through the AQS book side of their website, and it strikes me as bizarre that they have apparently let this book go out of print while some of their old dogs are still being published. Weird. It is available on the secondary market still which is nice, because speaking for myself, I'm having a lot of fun stitching up these little six inch blocks and would recommend the book to others.

I didn't do any block stitching while I was home for three weeks, but I did get all the blocks prepped, and each night since I've been back at the funny farm I've gotten two blocks finished.


I've added some blocks which was easy to do because many of the shapes are repeated throughout the top. I've monkeyed with others just because I can...
And I'm adding the sequins and beads as I go along now. Sequins on a quilt is a new one for me; I'm triple stitching them and all independent of the appliqué stitching so if one comes off nothing else will fall apart.
As I type I'm sipping a fresh cuppa and nibbling a little box full of Necco Sweethearts candies. My second favorite holiday treat. I guess I could just go buy a roll of Necco's any time of the year, but it really wouldn't be the same thing~

Some Valentine day trivia from a book by Nigel Pennick: A combination of Norse and Roman traditions dedicated to Vali the archer, son of Odin and to Juno Februa, goddess of maternal and married love. Rob and I will be married forty years this month. I asked him yesterday if I could have another serving of forty years please...he said he'd think about it. Probably makes him tired just to think about it. I wouldn't take another forty years with me if I could get out of it :)

Sunday Thankies
Time to visit my favorite blogs
Hatching a surprise with my FIL
The sight of my hens enjoying yogurt this morning

January 17, 2010

Of Blocks and Brothers-In-Law

Some more of my little 6" appliqué blocks added to the pile, they will make more visual sense when the stem-work gets added. I'm still on the hunt for the perfect pen. I think I've an idea for the sashing but will wait until I'm home for a bit and can stage try-outs on the big working wall. It is a rainy grey afternoon here, perfect weather for prepping more blocks and playing a couple of movies. Perhaps a marathon of my National Geographic Egypt series??

A wonderful treat this weekend, my BIL showed up out of the blue and we talked well into the night and again for a long time this afternoon. He'd dropped off the radar and I was very fearful we were being shunned, which is a wicked and shameful practice in my book. Apparently not, and I'm so thankful he was here to see his dad for the last time. And that FIL recognized him. Although as the night progressed he would sit up in bed and say "who is he talking to?" I'd pull my ears out and say Me!

Sunday Thankies
Conversation hearts
Good doggies
Lost little hen was found

January 11, 2010

RIP Tot50, Stop You're Killing Me

Am I alone in being an office supplies junkie? I spent a lot of years working as a secretary so I appreciate good office tools, but I think the seed of the junkidom was planted pre-teen in my Christmas stocking with one of these Swingline Tot50 staplers. I still have and use it, nearly half a century later. I bought a second one when I outfitted the 5th wheel for my extended stay here at the in-laws. I use them primarily to staple manila folder templates to fabric for my chosen appliqué method, starch and press.

All fine and well, nothing remarkable in any of that except last week I went to Office Max to get some more staples and none were to be had. None at the downtown local office supply. I went on-line in my quest and found to my dismay the Tot50 has been discontinued by Swingline. Oh yes, you can buy small staplers...but they take the big honkin' staples, not my fine sharp mini-staples. I found a distributor on Ebay and ordered enough staples to last the next half century and hoo-hiss on Swingline for breaking with the past. If it isn't broke, don't fix it.

Little cheerful blocks keep appearing on the working wall (or a RV version thereof) I can usually get two a night done while FIL gears down from sundowning and into patchy sleep mode. When my eyes are too sleepy to stitch I've been working my way through ancient Egypt mysteries with Lieutenant Bak and his Medjay police force for the second time, penned by Lauren Haney. If you like mystery stories you'll love Stop You're Killing Me. You can search out titles by author, trade, sexual persuasion, genre, and much more.

Monday Thankies
Feathers
Chimes
Rhinestones

January 7, 2010

Won't See This Egg At Tesco or Safeway

Ever wonder how hens can lay eggs without an episiotomy? The shells are soft when they come out, the underside of hens have super soft feathers, and she hovers lightly over the egg for a short time until the shell hardens.

I'm having a blast with my current quilt project, and it is coming together ever so well. Don't know if 30's reproductions are the right fabric for this but they are cheerful and I have them here and that is enough reason to use them for me. I've been on the fabric wagon since 2001...and I doubt I ever run out of fabric. I wish I'd never 'stocked stash'.

These will finish at six inches and every block is different. I need to get clever about some sashing or border or create more blocks because the 50 patterns from the book won't be enough. I decided long ago big borders just look like the maker ran out of steam. But I have some off-the-wall ideas perking...as usual. These are from the 2001 edition of Faye Anderson's Appliqué Designs My Mother Taught Me To Sew, an awkward title if there ever was one but nothing surprises me with an AQS publication.

These patterns are not original to the author but are based on a 1870's wool felt quilt credited to Hannah Riddle of Woolrich Maine. I'm wondering about the book information, there is no Woolrich Maine, but there is a Woolrich Woolen Mills, and there is a listing of intentions of marriage listed on a geneology site for Henry Tuckerman & Hannah Riddle July 4, 1761 of Woolwich Maine.

Whatever, a number of the shapes are used multiblock, so it will be easy to add more blocks. One unusual thing the author did with her blocks is add sequins with a seed bead which really makes the blocks pop in the cover photo. The blocks also include embroidery which bores me to death and also explains why I'm the worst embroiderer on the face of the earth. I'll do my vines with penwork which I've used on a number of my quilts with good success.

On the home hospice front, I've decided FIL's dementia symptoms are a worse punishment than congestive heart failure, acute renal failure, diabetes, or pulmonary disease. Dementia runs the show here now and the afflicted has no defense against this ghastly disorder of the brain. He knows he can't remember but can't remember that he know that. Try living with that concept 24 hours a day and you will have a window into FIL's life.

Thursday Thankies
The ability to reason
The ability to make choices
The ability to think