Saturday, February 25, 2006

What kind of color is called puce? Well, you're lookin' at it! This quilt is one of those hideous quilts that was made by a poor distant relative... ok, I can tell you're not buying it. I confess... I made the ugliest quilt on the planet. But, but, but...I had help. It's all Sarah's fault. She is the one who gave me the ugliest fabric on the planet, so how could anything good come from that? She knows how "thrifty" I am. You give me fabric, I must quilt. It's that simple. I mean, I don't have a built-in mechanism that says things like, "This fabric is simply horrid. I can't bring myself to work with it." I've tried doing that, but as my DH says, I'm just too ornery. I have to try. And while it is true that ugly quilts can keep you just as warm as pretty quilts, it's extremely difficult to keep them in the dark all of the time, "John, how many times have I told you to keep that quilt hidden until sunset? Sheesh!" But I have ways of getting even with kids who carelessly wound my pride by outing a quilt in broad daylight where anybody could see it- you should see the ugly quilt I made for John!! bah-ha-ha-ha (From more ugly fabric that came from... you guessed it! And she calls herself my friend!)

And while I'm confessing and airing my dirty laundry... you won't believe what I did last night. As most of you know, I have been having trouble sleeping, lately. I was concerned about Eva, and while your head says, "let it go," your heart sometimes has other ideas. So I got over that hump and I slept like a log, Thursday night- ok, a log that awakens every hour, on the hour, but I fell right back to sleep, so I considered it a success. Well, last night I was awakened at 3am by a peculiar noise. Over my head. It sounded like a cat playing with a bead. Great. The kids let one of the barn cats slip into the house when we got home. I'm so sleepy, I just stumble out of bed to get the cat (started purring right away, weird as they are usually stand-offish) and put it back outside where it belongs. Oddly, there was another barn cat sitting in the door wanting in- figured he missed his buddy... well, his buddy starts hissing and being all aggressive- I can't figure that out because they are very close. Then, I get this sinking feeling... Moira- Grandma's cat, is missing. I just threw Grandma's cat out into the cold. She stays in Grandma's room, but she had found a way to escape... oh dear, I called her and called her, but she wouldn't come back. Well, who could sleep after that? I felt so bad... slept like a baby. Opened the door, this morning, and she was waiting to come home. Shew. I don't think Grandma missed her. I really think the fact that Grandma had to go to the hospital, today, is completely unrelated.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

It's all fun and games, now...

Eva's Dr. appt. went very well. It couldn't have gone better. We are so relieved! The doctor was very sweet- a Romanian- my DB used to live in Romania. He is, gradually, doubling her meds, and then there will be more tests, just see how that's going. But all in all, a very good report. Thank you all for your kind wishes and prayers.

Darilyn- I plan on sleeping, tonight. See if that fits into your schedule:) In fact, I am so tired now, I think I could turn in, but then I'm afraid I might just nap and be up by the time I should be going to bed. I thought I might watch a relaxing movie and that will set me up for a good night's sleep. I usually watch Band of Brothers when I want to relax. No, I don't find bombs and missing limbs relaxing, but, oddly, I like the music and it makes me thankful. I'm veering toward Gladiator or A Walk in the Clouds or Sense and Sensibility. See? The sleep deprived don't make good choices or easy decisions. Here's hoping we both sleep long and hard, tonight.

Sisters, sisters, there were never such devoted sisters...
I love old movies. White Christmas is one of them (but Holiday Inn is my favorite. That was my first Fred and Bing experience and it was so delightful.) My girls love the song and dance with the sisters in White Christmas. Evie does a pretty good imitation on the kareoke machine. I promised a picture of the zig-zag quilt on the girls' bed, so here it is. I stayed home from bible study, this evening, with a couple boys with bad colds. They helped me surprise the girls by lending a hand in cleaning up their room and making their bed with their new quilt. Whenever Sarah used to visit with her daughter Maddie, Eva would be so thrilled she'd stick her finger in the air and yell, "I'll go clear a path!" That is the sum of much of our cleaning efforts around here- a path. You should have heard her squeal with delight over her nice clean room! We each got nearly a half dozen hugs for our effort. Bekah kept exclaiming over found toys. I love the way this wool quilt looks on the bed. Jacob says, as he helps me spread it out, "It's pretty obvious that you made this quilt to go with this room." The zig-zags might be a little "over the top" with the striped walls, but I like it all the same. The floral backing- folded down at the top, is more traditional and tones it down- a little bit. Thank you Aunt Isobel for the wool. The girl's daddy made their bed for them from a fence section. The "canopy" is made from an old Victorian piano scarf. The linen had dry-rotted, but the lace was still lovely, so I salvaged that and sewed it onto a nice cream fabric. The rest is just extra wide muslin.

Tomorrow is a "big day" for us. That's what Evie calls it when we go out. A big day. We are taking her to Riley Children's Hospital to see the neurologists. The medication she is taking does seem to be helping and I think she is doing very well. But don't doctors just make you a little nervous? I suppose you rarely see one under good circumstances and it would hardly be fair to blame them for my nerves. And that hospital is very family friendly. We've decided to take Bekah with us, also. I think Eva will enjoy the distraction and the company. So, wish us well!

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Hearing bells...

Wedding bells, that is. My nephew, Michael is engaged and they are thinking this summer would be a nice time for a wedding. I couldn't decide on a quilt pattern, and then it occurred to me that I had about 90 extra yellow brick road blocks... he loves red and she likes vintage and blue... so I put them together and figure that'll do it. Not exactly a traditional wedding quilt, but more traditional than I usually do. Michael's mom is making them a more formal quilt, anyway, so this'll be more for every day. And I'm a more "everyday" kinda girl, anyway. And Sarah, you might notice that there are redheads out there who embrace their redness- Michael is a redhead, too. These fabrics are reproduction feedsack- they have a nice weight. I still have enough blocks to make my mom either a tablecloth or a bedquilt(queen)- her choice. Mom's house/barn tends to be a little dark and this quilt would certainly brighten things up a bit. Who knows what I was thinking when I made 159 yellow brick road blocks. I didn't leave myself a note on that one. I do believe that I was planning a king-size and then changed my mind. I can do that.

The picture of the rocking chair is just a little snapshot from my world. I like to sit in that old rocking chair, by my "fireplace" and flip through quilt magazines(thank you, Sarah) or do handsewing. This chair sits in the corner of my sewingroom- with it's back stategically placed against the messy shelves of projects that need to be done. The chair was a gift from a very dear friend and if you recall I have a thing for chairs. This one creaks abominably- but the babies loved it when they were sleepy and wanted to be rocked to sleep. It is a rather deep-pitched creaking and groaning. The "upholstery" is made from upholstery samples from the fabric store. You know how they come in little squares? Well, I sewed them all together and used it to recover the chair- thought it fitting for a quilting room and didn't cost me a penny.

I spent the biggest part of the night sitting in my chair, listening to the coyotes howl- my dad likes that sound, but it always gives me the willies. I decided that I am not a midnight quilter. I think it takes a little more strength than I have. I love to spend the sleepless night hours out in my sewing room, but I rarely ever do any quilting. I have gone through a small tub of wishlist quilts and made some decisions. I keep a tub of coordinated fabrics- assigned to a specific quilt pattern- or that I'd like to use together once I find the right pattern. Well, I decided that if I hadn't made that quilt top in the last three years, maybe the pattern wasn't right or the fabric combination wasn't right. I re-evaluated and put all but the feature fabric back in the hopper. (Sarah, do you remember that brown 1840's fabric we got at Needles? That I bought twice at Needles? It was on clearance that second time.) Sometimes I just love a fabric so much that I have a hard time cutting into it and using it- what if I don't get it right? I've spent awhile looking through quilt patterns. Nothing came of it. Then I noticed some embroidery floss peaking out from the disorganized and disheveled shelves... I am working with that now and that was a pleasant way to while away the night. No pressure. It got me to thinking about ladies in years past- I love any handiwork. How they would sit and stitch on something decorative or practical. There are tapestries and samplers. My greatgrandmother, Oe, used to sit in her bed and knit a sock before she turned in for the night. But last night I was thinking about samplers and needlework. There was a sampler by a little girl on the Antique Roadshow that had an estimated value of $150, 000. WOW. I used to think that some of the samplers which contained Bible verses tended to be kind of preachy. Now why would I have thought that? I guess because I figured the reason they were made was to teach others something- and that is what they do. But you know, I don't think that was the purpose. As I sat there and worked on my own piece, it occurred to me that I had chosen a verse that I really needed to learn- nothing that I felt I needed to teach anyone else. And I thought, "Why am I spending all of this time stitching in words when it would take me 5 minutes on the word processor. I could choose a perfectly even font. No discrepancy in the size of the letters. I could frame it, and ta-da, a perfectly nice sampler." But having the finished product isn't so much the point, is it? It reminds me of quilting. With each stitch I take, I think of the person that I'm making it for. And I'm sure this sounds weird beyond all reason (as usual) but it seems like the quilt, itself, is filled with those thoughts and prayers. It is for me, anyway. Handiwork isn't about making a thing. It is a gift- to others and to yourself. An expression of the heart.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Ah, just wanted to see if you were awake. Mr. Bones was in desperate need of neck vertabrae the last time he poked his head out the closet. So I just free-hand cut them, appliqued them on, and I think he looks ever so much more stable now, don't you? Won't be long and he'll be ready to entertain guests.

Sleeping like a baby...
Or not. Good morning! Another sleepless night and I'm wondering if there is anything worth saying. Probably not, but thought I'd give it a go. My mom noted that someone had made a comment on my blog at 4am so I wasn't the only insomniac among us- at which point I felt I had to say that the poster she was referring to lived in Cairo and I think the time zone difference would compensate for the early hour. Don't you just love those sweet baby lips, the way they get all squished over when they're sleeping?

So, here I am again, unable to sleep, and not feeling particularly bad about it. That's the key- not letting it get to you. Once you start panicking about how awful you'll feel the next day, you might as well kiss the idea of getting an hour or two of sleep, "Goodbye!" No, better to focus on the advantages... like when was the last time you had some peace and quiet while sitting at the keyboard? Of course, I do tend to jab at the keys which might rouse the lighter sleepers among the tribe here, but that's a risk I'll take. And tomorrow is Monday and I'm a real slow starter on Mondays, anyway.

Had a cool vision for a purple quilt come over me and now I wish there was a 24 hour fabric store- nobody would even miss me. I have it all worked out in my mind. Why purple? Couldn't say, but maybe it had something to do with the book I was reading to Abe and how Noah had a purple robe on. The mind works in mysterious ways- at least mine does. I'm envisioning a bedroom complete with paint- the exact shade of Hershey's chocolate- and a deep, dark purple quilt- with tan/gold would go very nicely. Ok, so my vision has a large number of flaws. First, I have lived in that bedroom for 6 years and there is still no joint compound- but, I figure that there is now drywall where there hadn't been for several years- you have not slept in a cold room until you have slept in a room with no insulation, no drywall- just clapboards between you and the howling winter winds on an Indiana prairie. We tried stapling plastic up, but it kept blowing down. Too much information? No, really, this is the life I want. Now, I've come up in the world and I have insulation and drywall. Still amazing how much air moves through those itty-bitty cracks in the wall- and around the floor where there isn't any trim boards, yet...Maybe joint compound and paint is aiming a bit high, huh? Well, I like brown and I want a blue ceiling- if I'm dreaming, I can paint it any color I like, right? Then the purple quilt and blue pillows and lots of brown and white thrown in. Bizarre, huh? Exactly. Maybe a Turkish bazaar.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Simple living, or simply living...

I love words, don't you? Sometimes I'll just make lists of words that seem to go together- or words that I like the sound of and try to use them all in one sentence. ("Ode to Mom"- I think that was in September, was one of those. Trepidation, and consternation are two words I wanted to use, but missed the opportunity.) Simple and simply seem very much the same word, and the difference is subtle, but they seem to significant to me.

I've had a very peaceful week. A simple week. I've refused to get caught up in the mental and emotional turmoil that seems to swirl around me these days. What purpose would it serve and how would that impact my quilting? Giggle. Now that we have ascertained what's important... I'm thinking that there is something to be said for the concept of endurance- not acceptance, necessarily, but enduring in the sense that what is beyond my control is... beyond my control. And I'm figuring that those things are some kind of disguised blessing- I'm just not of the mind to rip off the mask and see what's behind it. So...

I'm baking rolls using my "no recipe" recipe. I'll have to blog that one as I have been getting rave reviews. I've organized the laundry situation at my house- oh, joy! I can actually see the laundryroom floor! I've finished a couple quilt tops, quilted a couple more. Been chipping away at a couple more. I even bound the above quilt. Sarah hates that job, but apparently she is very proficient at it. Me, I figure that I am depreciating my quilts with each stitch I take!! Actually, they don't look too bad, but I doubt anyone would say, "My! What straight binding!" either. This quilt is for my cousin's son. His brother was our ring-bearer and in an effort to show impartiality, he is also getting a quilt. (That's my story, but the fact of the matter is, I just love her boys. I can't help myself. They are wonderful. I'm calling this quilt, "Alex the Great.") He is in his first year at college. I had meant to get this quilt done long before now, but I've had a cra... difficult autumn. It just has taken me awhile longer to finish than planned. I need to get a label made and attached, then it'll be on it's way. Better late than never- and he is the sweetest guy. Did I already mention that? Oh, and I washed the quilt and despite my concerns that some of those very dark greens were going to bleed all over the whites- nothing untoward happened. How relieved am I?! I did use my mom's advice and put some vinegar and salt in the washwater. Why? I have no idea. But it didn't bleed. If Alex has some sort of inexplicable craving for fish and chips, we'll blame it on the hillybilly method of setting dyes.

The kids humored me and went to see Pride and Prejudice. I couldn't help but smile when my husband said, "9 for Pride and Prejudice." My two oldest boys looking a little out of place. We decided that we liked it, but I must say that I preferred the A&E version- it was more... peaceful. The British are good at that. (Colin Firth was so good in the first one, but whoever the young man was in this version- he was wonderful, also. Just different.) I humored the kids and went to see Chicken Little with them. Now that wasn't so good, but the chicken was cute. We have a dollar theatre here in town and it is a good deal for big families. A very pleasant way to spend a cold winter evening. And it's 50 cents on Tuesdays, if you're really cheap. Evabeth is embarking on showbiz, herself. She had an interview with the director and producer for advertising at the medical center where she had some tests run. Apparently, the employees there found her appealing and mentioned it to them. I have put off meeting with them, but figured that Eva would find it fun and she could use a little fun these days... When she started quoting The Princess Bride, "Mawage. Mawege is what bwings us togethew... today." I thought they would fall out of their seats they were laughing so hard. Then all talk moved from a poster and billboard to a comercial on cable TV. They asked her if she would be nervous and she said, "Not a bit." That's Eva.

Now, I have broken into the bag containing Tonya's letters and I have started setting them. Unlike Sarah, I have been pleasantly surprised with how easily they are coming together. Of course, I am working with monster letters, not baby ones, so maybe that is the deciding factor. I have come to a corner and I can't see my way around an inset seam- oh the agony. But I am trying to calm myself by saying that it is only one. Not something I will have to repeat. I'm not feeling very calm about it, though. I just really, really want that silly "o" to straddle the line between the upper border and the side border. There's no help for it. It's simple, right? or simply right?

Cross-hatch Happy...

There are reasons you'll rarely find a cross-hatched quilt these days. But I felt that I could pull it off with this very old quilt top- for several reasons. For one thing, the owner of this quilt top located it in an old barn. I do believe that a family member pieced it, but I am not sure even she knows who that might have been. She is the sweetest, dearest lady and is not a quilter herself, so she isn't going to sniff and get her nose out of joint when each tiny purple block isn't perfectly dissected. Some people get a little touchy if you were to suggest that their blocks might not be perfectly square- even if you stress to them that it is often the weave of the fabric that causes this. Jeanie just couldn't care less. She gave me this quilt a few months ago, saying, "Oh honey, if you can't get to this for a couple years that's fine by me and you know I won't care a bit if it doesn't turn out nice." It was stained from time- and time in the barn. She had washed it, but there are still some dark spots, but I still think it's charming. The fabrics are linen and satin- the second factor which led me to cross-hatching. There wasn't high contrast between the lilac and the "white" so that in the places where each piece wasn't crossed perfectly, it wasn't going to scream, "I'm a failure!" The linen was very stable, and the satin... well, I worked around it and I think it turned out lovely. I'm not sure where one finds exact same shades of lilac in both satin and linen, but she managed. The white is very close to an Irish linen. The third reason I thought of cross-hatching was because the alternate blocks were such yummy empty spaces... You can't tell from the photo, but each corner square in the alternate blocks are appliqued. And these were no where near square, but we worked with 'em. The entire quilt was hand-pieced, so it made sense to applique the four small squares in each alternate block.

The last reason I choose to cross-hatch,
was that I was feeling particularly ornery and I wanted to. As good a reason as any, I suppose. I love how the quilting adds a completely new deminsion to this quilt- the batting she choose was high loft and while I would have chosen a cotton, the high-loft does look pretty. I like this quilt pattern- I might need to make one, myself. A 15 patch and then those alternate blocks with the little squares in the corners- not appliqued. Ahh... so many quilts, so little time.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Multi-tasking and me...
Someone once asked me how I could work on so many projects, simultaneously. The short answer is, "I can't." The long answer is, "I can't, not without lots of notes to myself." Here is a very bad picture of how I do some of the multi-tasking that I do. I had to chop half of it off and then change the color of it so that somebody won't be able to see what I am up to. As I work on one quilt, when I start to tire of it and it seems to be more of a chore than just fun, I know it is time to put that particular project away for a little while. Now I know that there are a whole lot of people out there who have a greater attention span than I do and they find some sort of sick satisfaction from finishing a project they just started only a month or so ago, but that's not me. I have found that when the time comes to walk away from a quilt- to start something new, that it is crucial to leave myself plenty of written reminders of what I am doing, where I am going and how I plan on getting there. I never get why post-it notes say that a person is a nerd. It just tells me the person is way too busy to assign important brain cells to menial tasks that a paper and pen can manage quite well. So, I compartmentalize the quilt pieces of one quilt into zippper bags with a little note as to what they are. Then all the zipper bags go into a larger zipper bag, with general instructions of what I have done and what I need to do to finish the quilt. This may sound dry, but I try to leave myself inspirational notes that will make me laugh later, and encourage me to finish this project. OK, that may sound nerdy, and it is. This one says something like, "I have all the units made in order to make all 130 blocks for this quilt. What was I thinking?? But hey! I'm halfway there!" On the wall over my work counter, I keep a post-it note of quilt projects I am working on, so when I go into the quilting room- with my cup of tea, I spend a few minutes looking over the list, deciding what I shall work on that day- or I start something new. I keep a list of finished tops on one side- for days when I feel like quilting. Most days I do some of both. I can't begin to say how lovely it is to have a space dedicated just for sewing. I don't have to pack everything up anymore so that we can sit down for supper. Much nicer this way. As I finish quilts tops they move to the quilting side of the counter. I used to re-arrange all the notes to fill in the gap left by the finished quilt, but I find these spaces indicate a project accomplished, and that's a lot of fun to see.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Coal mine quilt top done...

See? I do finish something, sometimes. Kinda. Still needs to be quilted, but the top is done. Surely that counts for something. This has to be the fastest- beginning to end- quilt I have ever done. Usually, I spend a good bit of time ruminating on what colors I'll use, then what pattern, then what size... none of that happened with this one. I just decided one afternoon that I was going to make a coal mine memorial quilt for the lost miners in Sago and that it was going to be a black and white/grey log cabin with a big patch of sky for the middle square. I got in my Jeep and went directly to the store where I bought all of the fabric at one time, I came home and had it cut out the next day and ta-da! There it is. Aside from the little hicccup where I had made 35 blocks originally when in, actuallity, I needed 36, the whole thing went together very smoothly. I like it. I really like it. If you stand back from it, the blue blocks look a little bit like a window pane. Go ahead, cross your eyes, you'll see it. It is a nice size. 72" square. From this point, I'm not sure what I'll do with it. That's a thought for another day.

Well, it's ladies' game night, here. Every month I say I'm not going to go, and yet, I almost always end up going. Darilyn would understand. I just want to stay home and quilt and watch a movie with my baby- maybe pop some popcorn and read a good book. Aren't I dull? But no, duty calls and I must try harder to be a good friend so I'll go. Maybe I'll take my camara and it'll be like you're all going, too! We eat and play cards until about midnight. It is a lot of fun. Keep telling myself that so I'll get it in gear and take that shower, make the enchiladas and hey! cinnamon rolls and go out into the cold to HAVE FUN. woo-hoo. Are you convinced yet, 'cause I ain't.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

But Tonya, you have been here!

Who else could have made such a mess of my sewing table? Moi? Say it ain't so! I have never seen so much as a thread out of place when visiting your blog or tutorial lessons, so I guess the blame must fall on me. I always make a mess when I'm creating- you should see how I can single-handedly destroy a kitchen! But the good news is, I finished my letters!! Feelin' pretty tickled. Of course, now I need to set them. I'm thinking that is going to take me even longer- I'm burning up brain cells at an astonishing rate. Some day they'll find me a babbling, drooling mess rocking in the sewing room... what am I saying? I am already there! What a way to go! Having a blast, playin' around in the sewing room. I made my letters quite a bit bigger than yours- I'm not sure why, it just happened that way. Don't you just love it when quilts have a will of their own? They are about -brace yourself- 11" No kidding- the lower case letters are maybe 7" or 8." Yeah, I made them lower case. Can't wait to show you, but I need to get it all together. (Hey, the day I "get it all together" will be the day... well, I just can't even imagine that possibility!) Just doesn't seem right to show them off in their birthday suits for all the world to see. Need a couple more yards of Kona black to dress them in. I smell fresh baked bread- don't worry, I've already cleaned up my mess in the kitchen, so I'm off for a cuppa and a warm roll dripping in butter!!

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Zig-Zag Crazy...
Finished the wool zig-zag quilt. I tried out all kinds of different designs in the quilting- not a beauty by any means, but quite functional in these cold climes and you have to admit, it definitely has something to say! I told my mom that the girls love it, but they would need help retrieving it, if it fell to the floor- weighs a ton. I didn't have room to spread it out, so I hope I'll get to take a picture of it on their bed when I get the binding on. That'll be fun wrestling with the two-ton quilt...NOT! Ah well, I might need to rest my neck for a few days, before I start that chore. I am a bit stiff, today, from working on Tonya's letters for my bones quilt. She makes it look so easy. I finally got tired of running up and down the stairs- from the furthest end of a rather large house- just to see how did she do that? I got a little more confidence after doing a few letters, but I decided I was just going to have to accept the ones I wasn't as pleased with. It is what it is.

I'm amazed that I haven't started a new project in about 3 days, now. Some kind of record there. I do have a stack of UFO's I could piddle with if I were so inclined. And I think I am. Today is my last day of domestic freedom- some of you know what I am speaking of, and I want to make it a sensational day. Kinda puts the pressure on. The day is half over as it is. But I got to sleep in- a treat, to be sure. I had a huge mug of tea. I spoke with my mom on the phone. I pinned a very cute quilt onto the machine- you've seen that flip-flop pattern? and I am doing a bit of reading- other folks' blogs. Not a bad first half. oh, and I did two loads of laundry. But maybe not sensational. So off to the quilting room I go, to see what kind of trouble I can get into. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Happiness is...
  • Finding someone else to sew your backings!! How thrilling and what an epiphany! Here I have all of these handy boys, and they've been sadly under-utilized in the sewing room. I handed a sketch of the dimensions of the green and pink wool quilt to Dan and say, "Figure out how to make a backing from this flannel fabric." So, in about 2 minutes, he has the calculations made and written down. So I hand him the scissors and he's off! He sewed the pieces together and they worked perfectly. How cool is that? I am not overly fond of that tedious job- and I was able to continue my piecing on another quilt! I'm feeling very pleased about this discovery!
  • The scene out my window might be a bit cold and dreary, but isn't that perfect weather to be quilting? A snowy winter makes for a happy quilter.
  • Two new rolls of batting. The possibilities are endless. I'm thinking I could keep busy for a long, long time. No, I won't be hand-quilting with that Warm and Natural, but the quilting machine loves the stuff. I have about, hmmm, 20 or so tops that need to be quilted.
  • That's baby Abe in the batting box. His fever broke, yesterday morning. He is feeling much better, but he's snoring so loudly his brothers are refusing to allow him to sleep in his own bed. So he's sleeping with me until his head clears. Which wouldn't be a problem if a good night's sleep on his part didn't require tucking his knees under my kidneys. I'm glad he's feeling better, even if I have to barricade my back with pillows.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Lessons for Lucy...

Poor Lucy! Whenever I use a slang term for something, I am aware that Lucy is trying to learn English and here I am confusing our dear friend. Shame on me! She asked, "What is WV?" Now I figure that is a very good question. Simply, WV is an abbreviation for the state of West Virginia. West Virginia is in the very center of the Appalachain Mountains- but these are not mountains like the ones in Europe. They are quite steep and wooded, but none so high that they reach above the tree line. In WV, the mountains are very rocky. I can only speak on what WV is to me. I grew up there, the child and grandchild and great-grandchild of West Virginians. These people are sometimes called "mountaineers," but I never recall that until the University started improving in football! It was "hillbilly" before that. And it wasn't a derogatory term. It really is a beautiful place. Lots of forests, which we call "woods" and streams- which we call "creeks." Hand-crafts are very popular and you can find a pottery shop, or wood-shop, or glass-making shop in nearly every county. The economy is, well, diverse. There are very wealthy people there, like the Rockefellers, but poverty also has a part. There are religious organization who make WV a "mission"- as if it were a third-world country. It is true that I have seen this, but folks in WV seem to look at it differently. I, personally, have never heard anyone whine about being poor. They tend to be proud of the fact that they can manage with less. The climate is fairly mild. It rains alot, and seems humid. When it snows, it rarely lasts more than a few days, but melts off quickly. The people there don't seem as open and friendly as they are here in Indiana but really, I think they are just more reserved. I love visiting there and my kids think it is the greatest place on earth. But after a week, I find that I miss the wide open spaces of Indiana. John Denver made the song, "Take Me Home Country Roads..." popular many years ago. And it does feel that way, to me.

This is where my mom and dad live. My dad cut down the trees to make the frame for their "house." He built it, himself, from the foundation up. He has a pioneer's heart and my mom plays along. They live upstairs and the downstairs is used to store their stuff. Now I know I get the "stuff" gene honestly. Lucy, how's that for a remedial tutorial?

My mom is now blogging and I wanted to introduce her to you all. Of course, most of you know her through me, but if you'd like to visit, you can find her at She is also quilt crazy, so I figure you'll have lots in common to talk about. You'll find her very hospitable. She is prone to baking cookies, so if you are dieting, you might want to lay low. Sarah asked if she needs to be good, because my mom is now blogging. All I have to say to that is, she's been around for months, so Sarah, if you're trying to make a good impression- it's too late! Ah, you know I'm teasing. She loves you! And I'm sure everybody here will love her, too.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Now, you knew it was coming. You really did...

Another wool quilt. I just put this one on the frame, yesterday. I saw a similar one in a magazine several years ago and I liked it, as it was vintage. Reminds me of a girlie Charlie Brown shirt. I'm not sure how they made theirs, but I just made this like a split rail, on point. Which, combined with the extremely loose weave and low thread-count of the wool created a nightmare of bias. It still works for me, though. It has been sitting in a box for a couple years, at least, and I figured that since I am featuring old wool quilts I might as well get this one quilted. It goes along with the whole, "I don't have enough projects going so I need to add one more," schtick. I'm sure my Aunt Isobel never dreamed I'd make a quilt out of this wool- but what was I supposed to do with umpteen yards of bright, kelly-green houndstooth wool? And I really did like the pink. It is a generous queen-size for the girls' bed. Strictly a utility quilt, so I have been using it as a practice piece.

Abe the babe has croup. Yes, those are rhinestones around his neck. He wanted me to take his picture. I keep a jewelry box full of costume pieces in my quilting room so that the little ones have something fun- a treat- to play with when we are out there. Abe's daddy is going to have a cow when he sees this, but then again, maybe he won't see this. I also have a stash of wooden puzzles- one makes different quilt blocks using walnut, cedar, oak and maple squares and triangles. I'll need to take a picture of that. With Abe having croup, I have been able to blog into the morning hours. Holding a baby on your lap doesn't facilitate typing, but I get to read other people's blogs and get caught up on their goings on. Tonight, I'll be armed with that smelly chest rub stuff- I don't know if it actually helps, but I can imagine that mothers everywhere find some small comfort in feeling like they are doing something. Try not to be alarmed when a wiff of menthol seems to eminate from your computer. We made a steam room of the boys' bath, last night, and Grandfather really wouldn't approve of the condensation running down the vertical surfaces- but it really did help and my complexion is just glowing, now. Even if there are big bags under my eyes.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Laundry Woes...
I have this recurring nightmare that I can't find any clothes to wear- not that I'm naked, oddly that never seems to faze me in my dreams- I just can't find the right clothes to wear. It's too tight or too lose or too bright or not appropriate for the occasion. Just not what I want to wear. There is usually some pressing emergency that is calling me, but I can't do anything about it because I can't find the right clothes. It is an utterly frustrating nightmare and I wake up feeling more worn out than when I went to bed. I'm sure there's a very simple explanation for this dream, no doubt giving people lots of laughs. (Sarah has one where her teeth are all falling out- I'll take my wardrobe dilemma, any day!) But the fact of the matter is, I am living in another clothing nightmare.

Stretch your imagination, if you will, to consider how much laundry we are talking about when there are 11 people involved... And I am pretty sure that my aversion to doing the laundry isn't based on laziness or that the job is an odious one. What's not to like? You have this pile of smelly clothes, you shove it into the washer machine, add lovely smelling soap, softener, transfer to the dryer... fold clothes and holler for some one else to put it up. Not complicated and there would be a wonderful sense of accomplishment at the end, right? But you know, I'm gritting my teeth just thinking about it. Because the pile I am standing on never goes away- except once a year when my mother visits and she washes 24 hours a day and stays for a week. Who can live like that? TOO MUCH STUFF!! So... I bought these laundry baskets for each of the children and one for me and two for Bill(he has work clothes that need to be segregated). I told the kids that they should, under no circumstances, have more clothes than what would fit into said basket. And when the basket is full, they know where the washer is. No more, "Where's my blue shirt?" It should be in your basket. Kids grow so fast that it is hard to keep their drawers weeded of clothes that are too small or too stained. And then there's summer clothes and winter clothes and play clothes and good clothes... I'm about to take a leaf out of Bonnie's book and start cutting up clothes for a quilt. I know, I know, you are all saying, "Nines, this is how normal people live. Normal people don't have a pile of laundry called "Mt. Neverest."" Who ever said I was normal? Thus far, I have eliminated 4, yes 4, very large black trash bags of clothes. I had to take a break and go have Chinese for lunch- it was the only thing that kept me going all morning. Plus, I needed Biz and bleach- try saying that real fast 5x-just make sure there are no small children around! So, now it's time for round #2. I have not even gone into the laundry room,yet. OHHH the horror...

But, but, but... lest we become mired in the mundane, lookee what I found on a hanger, of all places. This little dress was made in Colombia. I found it for $1 at a second-hand store. Isn't it just the sweetest thing? The applique is amazing and the embroidery is very special. The colors are so bright and cheerful. All the flowers and trees have a very tropical look to them- mostly palms. I was thrilled to see that the artist signed it. Look! The little girl has a pet pig! Both of my girls have worn it, and now I am wanting to do something with it... but what? hmm... If I had a dress like this, maybe I could keep that dumb dream away!

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Home again, home again, jiggety-jog!

These are two of the quilts that my grandmother made. I'd guess them to be from the 50's. They are both wool, are incredibly warm and I love how she put them together. The one with the smaller squares has some velvets in it. My mom remembers that some of these pieces came from her and her twin sister's coats and suits. Some of the the black wool bled through to the back, but for some reason, I think it's kind of pretty. It would probably drive someone else crazy. As we have already determined that I am crazy... what's a little faded wool? I have the remains of a third wool quilt in my possession, and I am thinking that I need to make re-assembling it a bigger priority. She had large scrappy wool blocks of about 12" sashed in feed sack. The feed sack disintegrated, so I took it all apart and am hoping to replace the feed sack with more wool- not easy to find cream-colored wool.

Things I learned in WV...

  • When traveling, always pack a few T-shirts. We had a relative heat-wave and I had to borrow from my Dad.
  • "Sissy" isn't always a put-down. I had forgotten that all girls in WV are called "Sissy" at some point. Whether you are an older sister- most likely cause, or just a customer.
  • Swinging from vines isn't just for Tarzan. And it is a lot of fun to watch once you decide that you have enough sons to lose one or two.
  • Pride and Prejudice- the A&E version is probably too long, but I never tired of watching Colin Firth.
  • When Grandmother makes cookies twice in one day- dieting is a lost cause.
  • Corn grown in your own garden, dried, shucked and popped- topped with real butter and salt, tastes nothing even remotely like that stuff in the microwavable bags.
  • 38 is an age that seems old when dangling by your own questionable strength over a 20' ravine strewn with moss covered boulders.
  • Moss is soft, but there is entirely too little of it covering those rocks when you slip on that same moss.
  • Wood fires can provide enough warmth to heat a house to the point of leaving the windows and doors open in January.
  • Sudoku can be addictive and I would consider it an entire waste of time if it didn't force me to work with numbers- something I usually avoid.
  • Counting to 36 is apparently proof positive that I avoid numbers. I somehow managed to make only 35 log cabin blocks for my coal mine quilt- when I needed 36. I distinctly remember counting and recounting...
  • Toilet tanks can drip a copious amount of condensed water when flushed incessantly. Sorry Dad.
  • My four-year-old daughter has way more energy than I ever realized.
  • I have too much stuff.

Well, I need to go tackle some of that "stuff." It's good to be home.