Saturday, July 08, 2017

First Things First?

My second grandson, Nate, turned seven this past spring. Since he was five, he has been intrigued by fabric and fascinated by sewing. The last several times he has visited here, I've worked with him using Bernina to make some simple quilt blocks, of which he is so proud.

I told him at the get-go that when he was eight if he was still interested in sewing, I would buy him a machine. But he had to wait until he was eight.

Awhile back I bought a Hello Kitty machine, thinking it would be a good light-weight travel machine. As it turned out, it IS a good light-weight travel machine, but once you've sewing on a Bernina for twenty years . . . .  I bought a new lighter-weight Bernina for travel and set Miss Kitty aside for when Nate turned eight.

Just around the time that school let out, Nate's mom told me excitedly that the LQS was having a week-long sewing camp for kids nine and older. Nate has a friend who also wanted to sew and when my DIL contacted the shop they told her that the class wasn't full yet, and they would take the two seven-year-olds if they could find an assistant teacher. They did, and the report I received is that Nate produced and brought home a new project every day!

My daughter was going down South to visit her brother, so I sent Miss Kitty along with her. I included about 20 FQs that I had won in a game and a treasure I'd found on Amazon. It was a small wooden box containing sewing essentials, just the kind of thing a kid would adore. Under the lift-out tray I included extra bobbins for Miss Kitty, a package of blue-head pins, and a 1/4" foot.

My daughter reported that Nate was, of course, delighted at the gift. He turned first to the little box of goodies, rummaged around, and then cried out, "Where's the seam ripper? You GOTTA have a seam ripper!"

Sherry assured him that certainly Grandmom would have included one and there it was. THEN he was able to turn to examine the machine!

Sunday, July 02, 2017

Black and White

A week or so after we returned from the West, a group of us had an impromptu sewing day down in the church's Fellowship Hall.

I didn't take my machine. Instead, I took a rotary cutter with a new blade and a whole Rubbermaid tub of black, white, and gray fabrics.

I'd seen a picture of a quilt that I wanted to try to make. The picture was all bright Kaffe fabrics, but I knew I had that tub of neutrals . . . .

Here are all of the units up on the wall. They've since been sewn together and the flimsy is complete.

It looks pretty much like this.

Saturday, July 01, 2017

On The Road: Part Six

 The last park we visited was Grand Tetons National Park in Jackson, Wyoming. We were told this was the home of Dick Cheney. He had the good sense to leave us alone if, in fact, he was even in town. We stayed at the [not so] Rustic Inn (internet photo) and found it to be ideal.

The room was quite large with a separate sitting area. Like all of the other places we stayed, there were refrigerator, microwave, and coffee maker for our use.

The front porch became a favorite place; we were located beside the creek and we enjoyed getting to know a nesting Canada goose, though I do not believe that the pleasure was mutual.

The Tetons were absolutely gorgeous. We didn't find the animals to be as up close and personal as they had been at Custer and Yellowstone, but it didn't matter because everywhere were the mountains, totally different from anywhere else we'd been.

 One evening we went on another open-jeep wildlife safari expeditions. We didn't see any marmots, but I really liked the sign.

 Another interesting experience at Teton was a river safari. It wasn't one of those "ride the rapids" types, but a calmer expedition, designed for viewing wildlife. We saw beavers, eagles, etc., and again the terrific scenery. 

Once again, the guide was knowledgable, friendly, and interesting. We shared the boat with a family of four from Texas.

As we drove back and forth from [not so] Rustic Inn and the park, we passed a huge area that was a preserve where elk could winter over. Obviously, there were no elk in June.

We also would drive past the National Wildlife Art Museum, something we had never heard of before. I am so glad we decided to stop there! The sculptures were wonderful. This moose is the only one I saw, though Joe did photograph a live one using his telescopic camera lens. The museum had paintings as well as the sculptures, and a little cafe that we found inviting. We had our lunch outside on the patio, looking out over the mountains.

Such a wonderful two weeks, and how fortunate am I to have been able to just go along as a guest -- Joe planned and arranged everything!

Friday, June 30, 2017

On The Road: Part Five

After two nights at the Lake Lodge, we moved over to Old Faithful Inn, another historic inn that was situated so close to the famous geyser that we could sit on an elevated deck and watch it go off.

We hadn't known, upon our arrival, that we needed a reservation for dinner, so that night we had beer (well, wine for me) and burgers in the adjacent bar area and were completely satisfied. 

The next day we had lunch in the grand dining room (internet photo to the right) and asked our waiter how to get into the dining room that night, since we'd been told they were all filled up. He clued us in, and that night we had a delicious meal in this beautiful setting.
 We continued to travel around the park, soaking up as much of it as we could.

One morning Joe thought he would like to get up early and go hang out in a gulch again to wait for wildlife. The idea didn't hold any more appeal for me than it had the last time, so he went off and I enjoyed hanging around the inn.

 I don't believe that reading is among the many skills that buffalo possess. Clearly these animals had not taken the time to read the sign that there must be at least 150 feet between people and buffalo. The red in this picture is the side mirror of our rented car.

I was surprised at how fond I became of these huge animals.

Yup, Old Faithful him/herself. Looking quite a bit like the photos.

One more stop to go.

Friday, June 23, 2017

On the Road: Part Four

 The drive from Cody to Yellowstone wasn't long at all. And it was beautiful. 

Himself took hundreds and hundreds of photos. I didn't.

When we first got to Rapid City, we bought a super-cheap old-fashioned styrofoam cooler and some pre-made salads, fruit, and beverage. Most of the days we ate breakfast and dinner at the inns and lunch in the car or at a picnic table as we traveled, stopping a time or two to refresh the cooler's contents. All of the inns had ice available.

One day we had lunch with this audacious crow and didn't think twice about breaking the taboo against meal-sharing. The crow was very pleased with the snack mix we offered him.

Once we got to Yellowstone, we started seeing wildlife in abundance again. It wasn't the least bit unusual for the buffalo to be right along the edge of the road or even ambling down the center of the road. You can see by the car mirror how close this fellow came to us. 

We did not offer him any snack mix.

We spent two nights at Yellowstone's Lake Lodge, an immense building that was filled with old-world elegance. It reminded me of something out of The Great Gatsby era. Dinner reservations were a must. We arrived at 3:30 in the afternoon, to learn that check-in time was 4:30. So we settled into the spacious lobby and played with our phones and looked out the windows, and then at 4:30 were told that the room wasn't ready yet. I had mentioned in a previous post that our trip took place in what was apparently the week before "the season" began, and there were snags. At this place, the snag had to do with either insufficient maids or maids that didn't do an efficient job. The desk clerk kept going to check on rooms and reporting that it wouldn't be much longer. At 6:15 I drew his attention to the fact that our dinner reservation was in thirty minutes, that check-in time had been about two hours ago, and that we had been waiting for nearly three. He apologized yet again, this time offering to comp our dinner for us. The room turned out to be very, very nice and the dinner even nicer. Under the circumstances, we didn't see any need to skimp on what we ordered!

 Beautiful animals everywhere, again, often so close to the road that you felt as though you could just go get really well acquainted!

And another photo of the dangerous specimen who was my travel companion, this time checking out some wild flowers.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

On The Road: Part Three

 After our two nights at Spearfish, it was time to get back on the road. This was going to be a long travel day; our destination was Cody, Wyoming, and a Holiday Inn rather than a historic inn.

With different scenery, too.

Unfortunately, this wasn't a fabric shop, but with such a terrific name, it warranted a photo.

Not as much wildlife this day, either.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

On the Road: Part Two

After our three nights at Custer, it was time to get on the road again. There were other destinations! Not far away was Spearfish Canyon, and we took our time getting there. Our home was to be Spearfish Canyon Lodge, a beautiful, elegantly rustic place with a lovely lobby, immense fireplace, and spacious rooms. We found a stuffed buffalo toy waiting for us on our bed, available for purchase in the gift shop.
 Our room was on the second floor, not far from the hot tub which we enjoyed on our first evening. 

Spearfish is located about midway between Deadwood and Lead. We didn't have any particular interest in either town, but thought we should put in an appearance. Deadwood was full of casinos, but we did find a fine, old-fashioned saloon for dinner (I like fine, old-fashioned saloons). There was the requisite sawdust on the floor and an appropriately rough-looking clientele, but when we said we wanted dinner, we were sent upstairs to the "social club," where, unfortunately, the waitresses were wearing traditional garb rather than the corsets I'd anticipated. Atmosphere to the contrary, the walleye was delicious!

The next morning Joe got up early and went out to lie in a gulch to wait for animal sightings while I had the good sense to sleep in, enjoy the lobby area, and catch up on postcards.

Upon his return, we were off to Lead, home of a museum dedicated to the gold mining era. Our guide there, like every other guide we met on this trip, was knowledgable and personable and I enjoyed the mining museum much more than I had anticipated, despite some of the dangerous individuals in the area.

Monday, June 19, 2017

On The Road, Part One

 Near the end of May, we left home for a trip that Joe has wanted to do for quite some time. We were gone for two weeks.

We flew into Rapid City, South Dakota after changing planes in Denver and as soon as we had picked up our rental car, my very wise husband said, "You mentioned a quilt shop in Rapid City. Let's go there first." The Quilt Connection, Etc., turned out to be a terrific place! Mindful that this was Day One and that we were going to have to personally carry home any purchases, I limited my selections to a collection of FQs for a baby quilt. 

Soon we were on our way to Custer State Park where we stayed for three nights at the State Game Lodge, a place that Presidents Coolidge and Eisenhower had both enjoyed visiting.

The lodge was beautiful. We had a buffet breakfast there each morning and enjoyed their dining room in the evenings. Our stay was just before the "season" was to open, and the wait staff in the dining room was a bit green, but we found them to be charming. The food was lovely; we tried bison and elk both.

The morning after we arrived, we went out on a safari to see wildlife, and wildlife we did see: antelope, western meadowlarks, deer, bison, and a prairie dog or two. We were the only participants on this particular safari; perhaps others were deterred by the temperatures which were in the upper 30s! I had on my shirt, sweater, and coat, and was wrapped up in a blanket with my scarf holding my hat on my head and my hood on top of all of that! Everywhere there were signs cautioning us not to approach the buffalo, warning us that they can move at remarkably high speed and are not to be trifled with.

One afternoon we drove up to see what the Bad Lands were all about. We found them to be gorgeous and unusual and were surprised to learn that these formations had pushed their way up out of the sea originally. 

Of course we visited Mount Rushmore, undeterred by the falling snow and again wearing more clothes that we though would be expected in June. We liked it!

And a brief stop at the famous Wall Drug was in order, too. We were unimpressed.

One afternoon we drove to a place famous for hot springs. Considering the snow of the previous day, hot springs sounded good, but our destination was a woolly mammoth archeological excavation site. It was fascinating.

We saw so many animals: buffalo by the bazillion, prairie dogs, antelope, elk, mule deer, white tail deer, eagles, osprey,  big horn sheep, and long horn cattle. Sometimes the animals were distant and we had to use binoculars or the close-up lens of Joe's camera; other times, they were almost within touching distance.

And speaking of within touching distance, Custer is home to a group of fourteen burros that pretty much hang out together. The day we saw the mammoth dig, just after re-entering the park, we were fortunate to see the burros gathered in a field across the road. We stopped the car to take pictures and before we knew it, we were making new friends! So much for all those signs about the danger of getting too close to wildlife! They ambled right up to the car and politely asked if we just happened to have any grey poupon crackers and fortunately we did! This was totally unexpected on my part and one of the absolute high points of the trip. I found myself putting my hand right into a mouth with these big soft lips and chiclet-like teeth, and laughing, laughing, laughing with delight!

Friday, June 02, 2017


Well, I went with my gut and with the majority of the opinions rendered, and put the squares in the middles of the white areas. I'm not convinced that this was the right thing, but it is done now. My eye is drawn to the squares and not to the individual snapshots. But it is a baby quilt, and the baby will be viewing it at closer range, so I think it is fine.

Snapshots is a flimsy, the third of four baby quilts I will make before October to help raise awareness of The Baby Bureau.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Refugee Update

Late last August, I became part of a four-congregation group of volunteers who worked to resettle a refugee family of eleven; these people had lived in a camp in Tanzania for years after being forced to leave their home in the Congo.

The two children who have been in elementary school astonish us with their grasp of the English language. One of the two who attend high school had a great deal of English before coming here and he, too, has flourished. The other high school student is less motivated and the team is struggling to understand her. The three preschoolers will be in kindergarten in September, so there is every reason to believe that they, too, will do well.

The parents are working full-time at a meat packing plant. The work is hard but they are paid well, have health benefits, and even have their own retirement accounts. The other two young adult women are working as hotel maids. So much has been accomplished in these ten months, and yet there is still so much more that they need to learn, to master, to accomplish.

The resettlement team leaders have a weekly conference call and the rest of us receive weekly news bulletins. The most recent bulletin contained a brief report that I found endearing and reminded me that our adult refugees are still somewhat childlike because of the narrowness of their life experience.

"I had fun teaching F and J [the hotel workers] how to mail a letter. (There is a box . . . across from park area.)  They giggled as the letter disappeared.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

With or Without?

With or Without? In Philadelphia, that question ordinarily has to do with one's preference for or against onions on one's cheesesteak. Just sharing that info, in case you come to our city sometime.

I've been making these fun 9" finished blocks, not quite Churn Dashes, not quite Shooflies, but something quite marvelous, IMNSHO. 

I put them up on the wall, and all I could see was Snowballs. 

Then I thought, what if there were tiny squares in the centers of those big white spaces. Would I see the blocks more or would I still see Snowballs. So I cut some little squares and stuck 'em up there. I think I like it better. What about you? With or Without? Squares, not onions.

Sunday, May 07, 2017

Charming Apron

Every time I post a picture of one of these aprons, someone will ask what pattern I used. I've made aprons from this pattern for years, ever since Nicole at Sisters Choice introduced her readers to it (and I bet even Nicole doesn't remember how long ago that was!). I usually make the waist ties longer than the patter calls for, and the cat food apron I made for Sherry was the first time I just used a plain piece of fabric insert rather than make those cute little pinwheels. Charming Trio by Anka's Treasures.