Friday, September 28, 2012

To the Beach!

Just look at that picture! What I wouldn't give to be walking on the beach -- perhaps even dipping feet into the ocean -- right about now!

I'm well aware that some most of us live under a certain level of stress most of the time. To the point that saying, "I'm under some stress right now" is almost meaningless. We cope, though. We get indigestion, we break into rashes, we become accident prone, we suffer headaches and suffer nightmares, we develop muddled thinking; but we cope. Our "normal" level of stress is so high that even one small additional bit of it can feel like an unmanageable burden.

You can prolly guess that I've had another layer of stress recently. I've been in the company of a person who is critical of everyone, much more knowledgeable than anyone else, and puts others down with mean comments at almost every opportunity. It is wearing. In my more charitable moments, I think to myself that this person must have a terrible case of low self esteem, to need to belittle others and thereby elevate self. As time goes on, those charitable moments become fewer. Prolonged contact sometimes provokes inadvertent mimicking behavior that I instantly regret. And just dealing with the person takes up so much of my energy that I feel drained.

In another week, there will be a three-day weekend. I can't spend it away, but I can spend it at home in relaxing ways -- reading my current big, thick novel, taking in a movie with my beloved, sleeping a little bit later in the mornings, sipping pinot noir on the deck, and doing something wonderful with fabric.

That's in another week. For now, though, I'm going to slip away for a few minutes and close my eyes and imagine the beach. The one at Cape May Point. Where there are hardly any people. Where the dunes are lush and the water beautiful. Where one can turn around and note the reassuring presence of the lighthouse and the red roof of the convent. And if I manage to relax enough, perhaps I'll be able to feel the sand between my toes.

Catch ya later . . . .

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Rambling, Near Philadelphia

When the kids were little, someone gave one of them an "executive teddy bear." He was dressed in a pinstripe suit and when one pulled the ring-on-a-string affixed to his back, he would utter something positive and reinforcing. The idea was fine, I guess, but early in his life, the random message feature got stuck so that anytime the ring was pulled, he'd intone, "You're a winner! Teddy knows!" And for unknown reasons, that awful phrase got stuck in my brain.

A recent giveaway offer made a truth-teller out of Teddy once again. Emily, over at Crazy Old Ladies, was giving away a copy of her new book, "Geared for Guys." And I won! Given the offer of a pdf or paper copy, I opted for the former and it was in my mailbox in minutes! Now it is printed and in a binder, to wait for me to have the opportunity to make one of its terrific quilts for one of the terrific guys in my life. Thank you, Emily!

Life has been hectic Near Philadelphia of late. Family commitments, craziness at work, overscheduling, houseguests, travel . . . . all combined have taken a bit of a toll on my sewing time and hence my peace of mind. In addition to the little CW blocks, I'm working on a project that must remain secret until December 26. And dreaming of working on some other projects. In an attempt at self care, I resigned from a monthly commitment that had become frustrating and time-consuming and returned to Weight Watchers. Hoping next week to return to working out with Mike!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Coming Up For Air!

Oh, what a week I've had! Had to be out each night, Monday through Thursday, a houseguest arrived Thursday afternoon, big crowd for dinner Friday, and yesterday entertaining the houseguest. Scant sewing to show for the week, or even the previous one. My plan to complete one 6" CW block per day fell apart, but here are the most recent four that I've finished.

Most of what sewing time I've had has gone to a secret project that will be revealed after Christmas. But so far it is looking very, very nice.

Yesterday the houseguest and I went out to Lancaster County. After stopping at the farmers' market at Bird in Hand to get some cinnamon buns for Himself (and the houseguest picked up a couple of treats, too), we drove into Intercourse. 340 was full of cars and little wonder -- it was a gorgeous day, perfect for a day in Intercourse. We visited that wonderful little quilt museum on the second floor of the Old Country Store and did a little shopping downstairs (see above mention of secret project), and went across the street for lunch at the Kling House (it has been years since I've eaten there and that wonderful chicken salad with cranberry sandwich is as good as ever and since my guest was unlikely ever to return, it was essential that we share a piece of that famous coconut pie and, oh my! were we glad that we did).

When we got home, there was an unexpected package waiting for me -- it was a beautiful Low Volume top from dear Julie who had gotten the package to flimsy stage and then found it languishing amongst her UFOs and sent it along with some backing fabric, thinking one of our group might want to finish it for a charity project.

Friends, I want to tell you that there is a mystical connection between Julie, God, and me because I looked at this sweet flimsy of hers and flashed back to the conversation in the car with the houseguest whose too-young daughter suffered a stroke a few months back and is wheelchair bound. This flimsy appears to me to be the perfect size for a lap quilt for this young woman and, having received Julie's approval, I hope this week to sandwich and either tie or try to machine quilt it.

There's more to share -- the report of last weekend's visit to Richmond and the baptisms of the little ones there, some baby quilts that need binding, and other little stories.

But I need to go downstairs and sew for a lengthy spell. It's been too darned long

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Just Peachy, Daniel

Low blog volume this week due, in part, to being very busy each day and having to go out for something or the other every single night. I tell you, TGIF will be shouted from the hilltops here when it finally arrives. On Wednesday night, going through some sort of sewing withdrawal, I claimed 30 minutes at the Bernina, latticing some blocks, more about which Someday. I seriously hope to have a good chunk of uninterrupted stitching sometime over the coming weekend.

I do have one good story to share.

One morning this week I had a Very Important Visitor (we'll call her Marsha) and a colleague (and he could be Daniel) waiting in my office to meet with the head of the school. He was delayed a bit, so I offered the guests some coffee from the newly acquired Keurig machine (don't get me started). The Very Important Visitor thanked me and declined, saying, "Oh, I have the best husband in the world! He makes the coffee every morning. And brings me a cup!" Not to be outdone, I piped up, "Well, my husband cuts up fresh fruit every morning for breakfast, carefully selected not only for flavor but for how the combination will look in the bowl!" Marsha nodded appreciatively. Daniel looked as though he was going to try to crawl under his chair.

"Don't worry," I told him. "If you are nice to us, we won't tell your wife."

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Number Twelve

There was a time when I thought I would like to serve on a jury. I thought it would be interesting and a good experience.

Then I grew up.

I came to understand that a person's future would be, to a certain extent, in my hands. What a huge responsibility!

When the summons arrived in the mailbox, therefore, I was not excited. I was hopeful that I would not be selected.

My day began with a short drive on the Pennsylvania Turnpike during the thick of Rush Hour Traffic. I only had to travel seven miles, but the number of cars jostling around from lane to lane was mind-boggling. By the time I arrived at the county seat, I had aching hands from gripping the wheel, a lump in my stomach, and the beginnings of a ghastly headache, the likes of which I've not had in years. I had good directions, and the off-turnpike traffic was minimal, but I was still so stressed that I completely missed the turn-off to the parking garage.

My fellow potential jurors (there were more than a hundred of us, I'd guess) were good-natured and about as eager as I was to serve. After viewing a well-produced video and being welcomed by a judge, we settled in for what we hoped would be a day of reading and pleasant chatter. The marshal then told us that there were two cases that would need a jury; one a criminal case and the other, civil. With Kim's summer experience lingering in recent memory, I was relieved not to be among the 45 individuals sent up to Courtroom B.

The headache had intensified at this point and, of course, there was no way I could get pain medicine. Then the marshal called up 36 people to report to Courtroom E for the civil matter. I was Number Twelve. The judge gave a somewhat rambly introduction to jury duty and some of the facts of the case. The Defendant and the Plaintiff(s) were at tables with their attorneys. He said that the trial would last two days, including that day. A list of group questions was read and we were asked to hold up our number if we had an affirmative answer. The lawyers and the judge then retired for a bit and we were instructed to talk among ourselves. Number Eleven lives about a mile and a half from where I live, and Number Thirteen develops software for drug companies. Eleven was selected to serve; Thirteen and I were mercifully excused. We were thanked for our service and told our obligation was fulfilled for the next three years.

I made my way home, thankful that the turnpike traffic was back to normal, found my ibuprofen, and collapsed, my civic duty fulfilled. My nine-dollar-plus-mileage paycheck will arrive in three weeks. I think it is earmarked for a yard of batik, don't you?

Friday, September 14, 2012

I've Got Mail!

When I got home from work yesterday, there was a bulgy brown envelope (think plain brown wrapper!) on the chair by the mailbox. The bulgy parcel wouldn't fit inside, so the mailman left it on the chair, as he often does.

It was from my sweet bloggy friend Janet, way out there in Utah! She had sent me this exquisite mug rug that she'd made just for me! Will you look at it, please? Those little squares finish at 1/2" each and there are 81 of them. I've made so many mug rugs to give away, but never made one for me. And now I don't need to. Janet also included two bars of her herb-y soap which is just the kindest thing on my skin in the dryness of winter.

Thank you so much, my friend!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

WARM, Safe and Dry

Our handsewing group held its monthly meeting the other night and had a special guest. We had agreed that over the summer we would each try to make a donation quilt to give to Rebuilding Together in September. This picture shows the top of Honna's head and Rebuilding's representative, Kathy, holding a quilt that Honna and I worked on. The blocks, sashing, and backing fabric all were donated by dear Blogless Kathy, who sent them here from California. Rebuilding Together believes that everyone deserves to live in a home that is safe and healthy, and they work in low-income communities to make homes warm, safe, and dry. Our quilts speak to the "warm" aspect of the mission.

Marsha made this masterpiece from her scraps pile. We had fun looking at the patches to see what all was included, and Bonnie was particularly delighted to find a Monopoly money $500 bill! Of course you may click on any of the photos to enlarge.

Judy loves to make Yellow Brick Roads and the colors in this one are so lovely together.

Emily's quilts are characteristically bright and this string-pieced one is no exception.

Helen donated this terrific little baby quilt.
Generous Blogless Kathy sent the fixings for this quilt, too, and I put it together over the summer.

When this quilt was unfolded, everyone said, "Oh, Bonnie must have made that." And they were right. Each of the little dresses is hand-buttonhole stitched.  

Monday, September 10, 2012

Okay! Here's part of the herd, latticed and cornerstoned! I'm thinking a narrow pink border and then either some cow-y print or more of the black to finish this side.

If you made a cow for me and don't see it pictured, that is because there were way more cows than I expected. And this quilt is going to be two-sided. There are perhaps 15 more, and some wonderful cow fabric to fill in with.

I'll be connecting with that part of the herd in a couple of weeks.

Meanwhile, another WISP that was uncovered in last month's organize and purge session was this group of gorgeous cool stars, the yield of a swap from several years back.

Yesterday I bought some wonderful blue batik to lattice them, and once that is done, I'll pick out something for an outside border.

Joe's opinion is that a couple of the blocks shouldn't be allowed to stay in this group. I know what he means, but my opinion is that they add a little sparkle and keep the eye moving. I could be persuaded otherwise, I suppose. The possible offenders would be 1-E, 4-B, and 5-E with 3-A and 5-A being less offensive and allowed to stay. Thoughts welcomed . . . . .

Sunday, September 09, 2012


Oh, Mike, what a week we've had together! You never failed me, not once! Bit by bit, day by day, things are happening here, thanks to you!

Here is the week's yield of 6" CW blocks for my queen-size project. I may be more than halfway there in the block-making phase. Lori, do you recognize some of these fabrics? Once I realized how some different fabrics can breathe new life into a stale project, I quickly organized a CW F8 swap among the folks on my little swap list and before the end of the month should have more than a dozen additional choices!

Thing Two is taking shape! As of this morning, all sixteen blocks are made and they are ready to be assembled into rows.

Handwork progresses slowly in front of the TV; the Democrats helped a lot this week, and now the West Wing reruns (Netflix) are doing their part. One of the cow-makers who doesn't stitch any longer sent a lovely cow drawn on background with designated colors. I'm working on that embroidery in the evening currently.

Some progress has been made on assembling the cows, but a couple of nights I passed them by because of the need to change thread to work on them. I think with some concentrated effort, this afternoon I might be able to get the rows all put together and begin to consider borders . . . .

I have 11/12 of the blocks I need to put together a second Quilt for Kid, and just might receive that last sawtooth star on Tuesday evening when I see Turbo.

My biggest upcoming challenge is going to be resisting the urge to dive into the fabrics I bought yesterday when the Executive Committee had an outing to Burkholder's. I received the award for most money spent. Even with the 25% off coupon!

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Give Me Liberty

Dear Mike F hasn't let me down. Despite being back to full work hours and less time for sewing, I'm sticking with his system. For now.

I can see that the Cows will be a flimsy within the week. While I'd thought of making a second Cow-ish quilt with the remaining blocks, Julie wisely suggested that I made my quilt a two-sided Cow Project and I think she's right. It's not a great idea to divide a herd. So I'll be moving the heifers into place and trying to come up with a plan for them.

I'm thinking of putting another project into the rotation. Somewhere, somehow, I received a small packet of Liberty of London tana lawn scraps. I fondled them so much that I'm surprised they aren't shredded. They I managed to get some more. And some more. And am thinking of getting a few more. I haven't wanted to do anything with them out of fear of making some awful mistake. But just the other day, out of the blue, I knew what I want to do with them: Cut them into squares, prolly 2", and just alternate them, checkerboard fashion, with the background. I'd picked up some lovely pinot noir color soft cotton to go with them, whatever I decided to do. This could be a nice Leader-Ender project . . . .

The photo above isn't my scraps, though it bears a strong resemblance. It is from the internet. Did you know there are several fine places on Etsy where Liberty scraps can be found?

Monday, September 03, 2012

Thanks, Mike!

When Joe was in grad school, back in the '70s, one of his most admired professors was a guy named Mike F. He got things done. He got things done. When someone asked how he managed to be so productive he replied that he had a list of projects and every day he did a little bit on each one. Honna and I thought that was an amazing approach, guaranteed to work, and at the same time knew neither of us possessed the discipline to utilize it. Yet every now and again, one or the other of us will find that we are doing just that. The Mike F method.

This has been a Mike F kind of weekend! Here to the left is my first foray into machine quilting. I haven't finished the hand-part of the binding yet, and still have threads to tie and trim, but if you don't look too closely at the stitch length, you'll see that it isn't half bad!

In front of the "West Wing" reruns that we are currently watching from Netflix, in addition to the above-mentioned hand-binding, I've worked on some mug rugs that I owe some people and they are ready to go! Either tomorrow or Wednesday I'll be off to the post office with these. I hope that the recipients are pleased and haven't written me off as all talk and no delivery.
Judy and I visited a different guild in August and liked it so much that we're going to join. The night that we visited, there was a presentation from Quilts For Kids, and we each brought home a kit. It was easy and fun to put together. The fabrics were superb quality and everything was precut into strips. The clear instructions included covered every step.

The machine quilting above was done a stout quarter-inch from the seam line. On this project, I stitched in the ditch. I even put the binding on completely by machine and zigzagged the edge down, just as instructed. It was fun!

Oh, what have we here? Yes, it is some of the Cows that my readers made for me a little more than a year ago! They were uncovered during that recent clean-up of the studio and I knew it was time to do something about them. There are about 40, an enormous herd, and I didn't need a queen size cow quilt. So I picked out 25 that seemed to go together pretty well, trimmed them to size, cut lattice and cornerstones, and each day of this holiday weekend I have stitched a row together and a lattice strip together. When the top is a flimsy, I'll figure out what the smaller quilt is going to be like. I foresee the one staying at home, and the other moooooving into my car as an emergency nap blanket.

Then there's Thing Two, which you may remember from this post. I'd divided the HSTs into groups of sixteen. Under Mike F's guidance and inspiration, each day I press, trim, and assemble the HSTs into a block.

If I can keep on with this, in just a couple of weeks, Thing Two will be ready to be bordered, quilted, bound, and given away!

Long ago, I embarked on a project along the lines of the dreaded Farmer's Wife -- a queen quilt made of 6" blocks set on point and latticed. I would need 110 and was using patterns from the Around The Block  series of books. I got a little over half-way there and then became distracted (who, me?). Thanks to a gift package of new-to-me CW scraps from dear Lori, my interest in this project has been rekindled to the tune of one new block per day.

The list of WISPs is dwindling, Mike, and I'm hoping you'll stick with me a little bit longer. One of these days we are going to have to look at the real cadre of UFOs!

Saturday, September 01, 2012

Labor Day Weekend, 2012

It's peaceful Near Philadelphia. Everyone who can, it seems, has gone "down the shore," as we say in these parts. Joe, Blackberry, and I have not. We are enjoying the quiet they all have left behind!

Additionally, I have been blessed with a four-day weekend, whereas many people have three. We'll be partaking in a barbecue one day, and doing things at home the rest of the time.

I owe some people some mug rugs, and these are in the hand stitching pile in front of the television. I honestly believe they will be ready to mail on Tuesday. I'm making real progress on dealing with the WISPs I uncovered during my recent purge.

Yesterday I made a foray into machine quilting, using that little baby quilt from a recent post. My stitches could be more even, but other than that, I'm feeling pretty good about the attempt. I think the thing to do is to machine quilt another small project very soon. Like today. We'll see.

I've been reading, too. My cousin loaned me The Nineteenth Wife by David Ebershoff. It is two intertwined stories, and the NYT review can do a far better job than I can of explaining it, and perhaps enticing you. I was enthusing about it to a colleague who came right back at me with Halperin and Heilemann's Game Change, an expose of the backstory from the 2008 election. It portrays all of the key players as egomaniacs, most with bad marriages, and is particularly revealing of the dark side of St. Elizabeth Edwards. I've taken a few grains of salt while reading it, but have been unable to put it down!

We're nearly through Season Six of The West Wing and have so enjoyed going through it from start to finish.

And that's whassappenin Near Philadelphia this Labor Day Weekend. Hoping for photos before it concludes!