Sunday, July 29, 2018

I Press On

Oh, yesterday's post was so despairing! Today, things are much brighter!

Some of my readers provided suggestions; one even offered to take the dimensions of one of my tops and make a diagram. Readers are wonderful.

Somehow, somewhere along the way, it occurred to me that there's a recipe that will work for me:

1. Measure the length of the top and add 10-12 inches. So a quilt that is 72 inches long becomes 82 or so inches long.

2. Look at the various possible backings and choose a compatible one that is at least 82 inches long. Cut it off at 82 inches. Slit it down the middle lengthwise. In most cases this will yield two pieces of fabric 22 x 82.

3. Measure the width of the top and add 10-12 inches. So if it is 50 inches wide, it becomes 62 or thereabouts.

4. Take the number of the width of the backing before you had cut it down the middle, i.e., 44 inches and subtract that from 62, yielding a result of 18 inches. Add an inch or so for the sake of sanity and safety. Now you know that you need a piece that is 20 x 82 to go down the center, with the halved main backing fabric on either side.

5. Look through the various pieces of backing fabric and find something that looks nice with the main fabric. Make a piece that is 22 x 82. Sew the main fabrics to each side. Voila!

There's nothing wrong with piecing that center strip with left-over blocks or odds and ends of fabrics, just so long as you keep track and end up with the right length. The fewer small pieces you have, the better your machinist will like you.

Already today I have made three more backs and they are in a pile to go to the machinist. While all of this was going on, Himself passed through the room and couldn't help but get involved. He took joy in picking out main backs for all but one top! My job will be to find the centers and put them together. That one top is kind of special. It may deserve a store-bought piece of beautiful backing just for itself.

Except that kind of thinking is why I'm in the pickle I'm currently in!

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Words and Numbers

I love words. I like everything to do with words. I like the way a multisyllabic word rolls off my tongue. I loved being able to use "antepenultimate" correctly recently when talking about the next-to-next-to-last peach in the fridge. I like to spell; I was the fifth grade spelling champion, though I confess that some of that facility has diminished. I once could type 105 words per minute with zero errors. I like crossword puzzles. I like cryptograms. I like acrostics.

Numbers, not so much. In elementary school I did okay with arithmetic. I got the hang of long division, and still know how to use the carat to move the decimal over to the right when need be. I knew the various equivalencies of fractions to percents and took special delight in 87-1/2 percent being equal to 7/8. At least I think that's still the case.

In seventh grade, my math all started to go downhill. I squeaked past Algebra I and while I truly enjoyed plane geometry, I failed it during sophomore year and had to go to summer school. That was the end of math and me. Solving for x held no appeal and it seems like by now somebody should have found the least common denominator.

Moving right along . . .

Recently I became appalled by the number of finished quilt tops I have waiting to be sandwiched, quilted-or-tied, bound, and sent to their forever homes, wherever those may be. I've got a bunch of soon-to-be quilts over at the machinist's now, and another small stack to go next.

But there are still so many more. And, what's worse, there are pieces of yardage that I know must have been purchased to be backs for projects now long gone.

Over the past few days, I've measured each of the remaining tops (and I won't tell you how many there are). I've also measured each of the pieces of this-looks-like-it-was-meant-to-be-a-back fabrics. Dimensions are recorded in pencil and pinned to each piece.

So far, so good.

But being mathematically challenged, I'm breaking out in hives considering, for example, what I would have to do to a 55 x 110 piece of fabric to turn it into a back for a 63 x 72 top.

I hate this. I can almost hear my seventh grade math teacher crowing, "I told you that you don't know your fourth grade fundamentals!" (Miss Godfrey was the terror of our junior high and universally regarded with a combination of fear and loathing. I can still picture her brandishing a ruler and wearing a moth-eaten gray cardigan even though the school was uncomfortably warm. And she smelled bad, too.)

See? I'd much rather be writing than calculating.

But it needs to be done. And tomorrow, Scarlett, is another day. Perhaps I'll be able to face it all then.

Friday, July 27, 2018

A Damp Day at Busch Gardens

Sure it was rainy most of the time we were at Busch Gardens. We tried not to let it dampen our spirits. Various styles and colors of ponchos were displayed. I personally enjoyed the bumping cars and the merry-go-round quite a bit. Others rode swings and sky buckets. We had lunch ($60 for two of us!) at a beer garden in the Germany section. We saw Elmo. I was happy to see a Clydesdale horse.  All told, Joe and I spent a little more than four hours at Busch Gardens, and then went back to the hotel for much-needed naps and showers.

Dinner for twenty-five was at Sal's Italian restaurant. The food was delicious, the portions immense, and the prices very reasonable. As they say, "A good time was had by all."

On Wednesday morning our boys and their families met up with us at the hotel buffet breakfast and soon after we had to get started on our journey home. The trip was relatively uneventful, with no terrible traffic, and we even had time to stop at our favorite farm stand in Middletown, Delaware.

All-in-all, a delightful and varied short summer vacation.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

More Horsing Around

After our fabulous breakfast, we said goodbye to our wonderful hostess, and got on the road. It wasn't very far to Chincoteague, and again we checked in at the Visitors' Center, watched an orientation film, and began to explore.

This was on Monday, and the annual pony swim was to occur on Wednesday, so the Chincoteague horses were not roaming the island as we'd seen in Assateague the day before. Rather, they had been rounded up and were in pens. On Wednesday, they would swim across the channel and many would be auctioned off as a way to control the size of the herd.

We spent some time admiring the ponies and then continued our drive south.
Yes, South.

Neither of us had known there was a NASA facility in Virginia. We were curious, but didn't have time to investigate.

We took our time driving south, crossing the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel, and then stopping in Norfolk for lunch. The meal consisted of the crepes from breakfast that we couldn't finish and some cherry tomatoes we'd brought from home.

We got to Williamsburg right at check-in time, and were happy to learn that Andrew and his family had already arrived. We had adjoining rooms in the hotel. Andrew had made a reservation for dinner at a seafood place and I thought the jellyfish lighting was terrific!

Back at the hotel, no one stayed up very late. We had a big day ahead of us on Tuesday.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Just Horsing Around

Well, we had such a nice getaway these past few days! My sister and her family were all spending the week in Williamsburg, Virginia, and had planned a day at Busch Gardens. Generous Bonnie said that if any of my family wanted to come for a day or so and join in the fun, she'd cover the cost of Busch Gardens. With Tom and Andrew and their families both living within a couple of hours of Williamsburg, it was a no-brainer.

Joe and I left on Sunday and made a leisurely drive down the Eastern Shore, stopping at Assateague to see if we could catch a glimpse of a horse or two. We had never been there before and didn't really know what to expect.

We saw horses. And more horses.

When we go to a National Park, we always try to begin our visit with a stop at the Visitors' Center and to catch a viewing of the orientation film. This has always proved helpful.
And, of course, we want to get our National Parks Passports stamped.

The Park Rangers and the volunteers we encountered were all so helpful and informative. It turned out we found two different groups of horses. Each small herd consists of a stallion, his mares, and any foals. We learned that a male foal is welcome in the herd until he starts to show signs of maturing; at that point, the stallion ejects him and he goes off to form a little herd of his own.

The horses, of course, had the right of way, and they wandered and grazed wherever they were inclined. We saw horses poking around a campsite and horses crossing streets and meandering through parking lots.

It was a lot of fun.

Our destination for the day was Pocomoke City where we'd booked a room at the River Gem B&B.

I need to tell you how well-named this place is. I need to tell you a lot about this place.

River Gem is owned an operated by a sweet, fluttery woman named Mona who lives there with her daughter Violet. She has another daughter and it turns out that Aurora lives within a mile of our home here Near Philadelphia!

Now, this photo of the Ruby Room isn't one I took; it's actually from the website. Each of the four rooms is named for a gem stone. The room was comfortable, well-appointed, had a TV that we didn't watch and wifi that we did use.

When we asked about a dinner recommendation, Mona sent us off to Mallard's, a couple of blocks away. The food was good. Our table was by the window and we enjoyed watching the water and the various waterfowl who came and went. We especially liked an adult beverage called Pocomoke Paloma.

On Monday morning, we went downstairs for what is truly the most spectacular meal ever to be served at a B&B. The first course was a home-baked strawberry-and-chocolate-chip scone. It was to die for. Coffee and juice in abundance, and then some freshly cut up berries and sweet pineapple. We liked it. But then came the main course: Two crepes nestled on the plate. The first was filled with spinach, ham, and egg white. I loved it. The second crepe's filling was sausage, apple, and cheddar. It was fabulous. Neither of us could finish, but obliging Violet wrapped them in a to-go box and then brought out the final course: Another crepe, this one filled with banana and nutella. Unbelievable.

We would go back in a minute.

When you go to Mallard's, be sure to try the Pocomoke Paloma. Trust me.

Friday, July 20, 2018

Great Minds . . .

Today Bobbi and Kathy and I drove out to Hershey to the Quilt Odyssey show. It has been many, many years since I have attended this show, and I was looking forward not only to a day with good friends, but to seeing some terrific quilts.

There weren't a lot of quilts; my favorite part was a curated exhibit of antique basket quilts that forbade photography. I've long had a weakness for a good basket quilt. As to the rest of the quilts on display, as usual, there were far too many art quilts for my taste and far too few bed or practical quilts.

The vendors were good, but I just didn't need a lot. I bought some needles. And I did buy this dear pack of F8s. At the end of the day I told Bobbi, "You're going to love the fabric I bought," and showed it to her seconds before she pulled the identical pack out of her bag! They do say great minds think alike.

We had a good lunch, we stopped at a fine farm stand, we laughed a lot and solved several world problems. So it was a good day. But, oh, how I'd like to go to a quilt show that had lots and lots and LOTS of bed/practical quilts!

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Anne with an "E"

Our family just loved the original Anne of Green Gables series. I think it was PBS produced, and we watched it faithfully when it was on. Sherry, in particular, was captivated by it; she was a little younger than Anne at the time.

We went on a camping vacation in the Maritime Provinces, and ended up in PEI. We visited "Anne's House," and wanted very much to go and see the local production of the Anne story, but we couldn't afford five tickets. I think most of us have maintained a fondness for Anne over the years.

So when Netflix announced a new production, i.e., "Anne with an 'E,'" last year, Joe and I were delighted. We were hoping it was something we could share with Caroline, who was 8 or 9 at the time. This was not to be: In one episode Anne explains human reproduction to her peers. In another episode Anne gets her first menstrual period and is horrified. Not what we'd choose to expose an 8-year-old to.

But Joe and I watched the whole series and liked it in spite of the issues I just mentioned. And I was tickled when I learned that there was a second season on Netflix this summer! We've been watching; it's a very nice antidote to the ugliness in the world just now.

The story lines are interesting, the acting is excellent, the scenery is lovely, and there are messages within the content. The thing that bothers me is an odd thing: The show deals with social issues that are relevant today and there is some overkill. Racial prejudice, suppression of women, discrimination against homosexual persons, and bullying are all addressed in this series. And there is just a little too much emphasis on them; they seem to be forced into the story line. And that's disappointing.

We have one episode left and, of course, we'll watch it. We'll find out (a) if the black guy is able to purchase property in a nice part of town, (b) whether the gay fellow leaves town for a safer environment, (c) if the bully experiences remorse, and (d) whether the lady school teacher who wears trousers is able to keep her job. It's a good show. Except . . . .

Friday, July 13, 2018


As if there isn't enough angst in the world right now, all at once I'm having trouble with Blogger! They won't let me make comments on anyone else's blog. Effective today. No idea why.

Blogging peeps, any ideas?

Frustrated, Near Philadelphia

Sunday, July 08, 2018

In Which We Lead and End

This photo is of my current Leader-Ender project. It's been in the works for quite some time and it's been kind of fun to pick out the combinations from the scraps of Alison Glass.

I swear, those scraps are breeding in that there bin. I've made a couple of projects specifically designed to use them up; this one is no exception. And there are still many, many bits and pieces.

Actually, perhaps the thing to do, now that I need a new Leader-Ender, would be to start a Scrap Vortex out of these particular scraps.

Not a bad idea.

Anyway, this quilt is now ready for latticing (plain Kona Snow is what's on hand).

I like how it looks on the wall. I always take a picture, though, to be sure.

Friday, July 06, 2018

Sweet Baby Jane

Someone I know is expecting a little baby girl. I had bought these sweet little prints back in April when we went to Finch, in Lexington, Virginia, and I thought they would make a nice quilt for this baby.

I've worked on it, a little bit most days, for the past couple of weeks, and have enjoyed taking my time and also very much enjoyed the simplicity of the design.

They look a bit like little fishies, I think.

Anyway, this little quilt is now a flimsy and I'm thinking of hand quilting it.

I don't think that the expectant mom will name her daughter Jane, although I think it is a beautiful name. But that's the quilt's name: Sweet Baby Jane.

Thursday, July 05, 2018

I'm a Squirrel But Don't Tell Joe*

Here's what happened: My pal Julie over at Me and My Quilts wrote this post about finally deciding to make a Scrap Vortex quilt. I read her post and began thinking about the relatively untamed scraps in my studio and thought that might be a good idea for me, too. I wrote and told her this, and before very long her reply came back. I could hear her cackling as I read where she said something like "Wait until you see tomorrow's blog post!"

So, of course, first thing this morning I hurried to her blog and lo and behold, a club has formed!

Yup, the Squirrel club. It's for quilters like us who are contentedly working on a project and allatoncejustlikethat another idea strikes our fancy and we take off like a dog after a squirrel.

Don't you love it?

She's also sort of subtly encouraging participants to make a Scrap Vortex quilt. Like, who among us doesn't have a pile or a box or a tub full of scraps of one kind or another? (Or all kinds?)

My scraps aren't really of a size to be considered scraps. They're more like left-overs. And they are in about four Rubbermaid tubs (the big ones). There's the Kaffe and Associates, the Batiks, the Blacks-Whites-Grays, and the Brights. The Civil Wars, the William Morrises, and the Thirties all were given away. I've got a Pinterest board (or two) with ideas for using up scraps.

So here's my plan: I'm going to continue to work on my current project (a nice little baby quilt made from some of the fabrics I bought in Virginia this spring). But before I resume, I'm going to open one of those tubs and pull some scraps and start my own Scrap Vortex as a leader-ender project.

The only question is: Which tub?

*The Man of the House loathes squirrels. So does Blackberry.

Monday, July 02, 2018

A Happy Little Trip

Our younger son and his wife recently bought a new home. This is their third home purchase, having begun in a cute little condo, moving to a townhouse upon starting their family, and finally, eight years later, making the move to their dream house.

Joe had been down twice in the past month to help them, first with getting the townhouse ready to put on the market, and the second time to help with the logistics of the move and doing some small projects in the new home.

Finally it was my turn to see the new house! Simply put, it is spectacular. There was a time in my life when this house would have been everything I ever dreamed of.  It is huge. Andrew and Amy were so fortunate to get this house. They are committed to an area where there aren't many houses on the market at any given time, and it is truly a seller's market if a buyer has another house that needs to be sold. The circumstances of this house's becoming available were unusual. And fortuitous.

Whenever we visit these people, we are apprised of the schedule almost immediately upon our arrival. The menu for at-home meals is provided, and information about reservations for any meals out is also distributed. They always plan some wonderful out-of-the-house activity for us.

This time we spent several hours at The National Museum of the American Indian in D.C. We started with the orientation film (our usual practice) and then explored some of the exhibits. The museum has a large area where there are projects for kids to enhance their experience, and Miles and Eli had a wonderful time there.

Joe and I had stopped at our favorite farm stand on the way down where we bought some foods to enhance our dinner on Sunday night. The first corn and first tomatoes of the season were absolutely delicious, as was the barbecued chicken. Andrew and I paid a visit to the local cheese shop where we introduced each other to our particular favorites which all turned out to be perfect accompaniments to the Moscato we'd picked up earlier.

This picture is of Miles (age 5-1/2) displaying the craft that he made at the museum. You can see both boys with their mom in the photo above. Obviously Eli is still in motion, which seems to be the case most of the time with him.

Both boys were interested in the World Cup and Eli (age 8) astonished me with his knowledge: He knew the schedule for which teams were playing and when, and for any particular player he could tell me the name, the home team for the player, and also what country he was playing for in this competition.  I was mightily impressed.

Andrew thoughtfully suggested we wait until after the morning rush hour before heading home; his advice was spot-on. There were cars, lots of cars, but no back-ups, no unexplained stops, no accidents; truly, a smooth trip north!