Monday, July 31, 2006

One persons' Trash.....

Is my treasure!
A friend of mine came across these blocks in her stash, that she hand stitched many years ago. She decided that she would never set them now, so was going to throw them away!! Thankfully she brought them to show me first. They are safely in my clutches now, and she has strict instructions to call me next time she goes on a cleaning binge. The stitching is exquisite, and the blocks are perfect. She is one that used to be a technician, but has now mellowed into an artisan. (Thanks to Jeanne over at Spiral) Now to figure out how to set them, and tackle the quilting. Of course I will have to quilt this one by hand, and it will be the biggest hand quilting project I've taken on yet. For now they'll sit and wait patiently while I finish some of my UFOs - at least 3 by Christmas. Heh heh heh -- anyone want to place a bet on this one?

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Hand dyed Pickles?

What a fun, tiring day I've had!
Every couple of years, Jerry and I spend a long hot day putting up as many jars of pickles as we can. We have a blast doing it too -- and we each have our areas of domain. He washes the cucumbers, cuts them and packs the jars. I prepare the garlic, mix and maintain the brine, fill the jars and put them into the canner. Jerry then lets the rack down into the boiling water, and lifts it out when it's done. Together we take the jars our of the canner, 2 at a time keeping it balanced, and put them on the counter, and the whole thing starts over.

Here is Jerry at his station, packin' pik's. We throw stuff and tickle and poke and generally behave like kids, and have a ball. After all is said and done, we have 67 quartsd of pickles, and what a satisfying feeling.

These pictures taken after the first couple of batches, before I got too hot and tired to think. After all the jars finished, kitchen cleaned, lunch taken and short rests, I decided to tackle hand dyeing fabric for the first time - WOW!! What fun! I have three tiny jars of Porcion powdered dye, the gold standard as I understand it, and lots of pages of instruction printed off the internet. In the end, it was pretty much expiremental. I made cyan, magenta and blue mixes, then mixed those to make others. I only had 3 yards of Kona PFD, so I cut it into fat quarters for my trial and error play day. Boy, was I surprised! I was under the impression that hand dyed meant pale -- WRONG!! I mixed my dyes very conservatively according to all the directions I had. I dyed in baggies with very small amounts of dye water, and left them in the sun for a couple of hours before adding the fixative and leaving them for another 2 hours. Rinsing the dye out was a drag, but in the end I have this:

Color is hard to get right online, but they're great colors, not pale at all. I love the crinkles and texture in them. Now what will I do with them? And how will I stop this sudden desire to do more more more? I'm so hooked. Watch me stock up on Kona PFD and become a hand dyed maniac!! LOL! Fun, fun, fun! But now I'm pooped, so a shower and bed sounds like just the ticket........

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Silence is Deafening!

Jerry and I sat for awhile tonight, planning our weekend adventure of pickle making. We'll put up 50 lbs of pickles, and spend one long hot tiring day to do it, but we make the best pickles in the world if I must say so myself. During a brief lull in the conversation, it dawned on us that we could hear things - like a dog barking somewhere, our horses snuffling out back and hummingbird wings outside the window. Crickets and frogs and nightbirds - all sounds we haven't heard in 3 weeks! Because of the horrible unrelenting heat, air conditioners or fans have been running 24 hours a day, drowning out any other sounds. It's not exactly cool by any standard - still 80 degrees at 9:15 pm, but compared to all the nights that never quite dropped below 80 all night, this seems almost comfortable. And quiet. The silence now is startling, but I am certainly enjoying it. Now I'm going to go to bed and read, no TV, just a book and the gentle sounds in the trees. I have much to be thankful for tonight.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Heat Waves, Quilts and DJ's

Hammerheads and fishhooks!!! Not sure what that means, but my favorite uncle would say that whenever he smashed his thumb and I was around. He said something entirely different when he thought I was taking a nap in Grammas room! But I think it applies here, when we are gripped by this other-wordly heat wave. Neither makes sense, so they must be a pair. This shot is on my back patio, and I don't think it's quite accurate. The highest I heard anywhere for us for that day was 114, not 122, but you get the idea -- HORRIBLE.
My Heat Wave quilt is being quilted, sort of. This quilt is as stubborn as it's namesake! The thread kept breaking, the tension slipped off 3 times. The marking pens went dry. the backing doubled up on itself and got quilted like that. I grimly kept at it - I turned on a great oldies radio station, although their playlist has gotten a bit stale. "PLAYLIST" - a word left over from my days as a radio dj. 20-odd years ago, the station I listened to seemed to be moving to a much slower paced music than I liked, so I wrote them a letter protesting what I thought was a change in programming. To my surprise, the morning DJ called me, and invited me to do a guest shot on his show, and I could pick all the music myself. Well, I leapt at that -- what fun!! I showed up on the appointed day with my playlist in hand, met everyone all around including the station manager who said a brief hello then left, shared a bit of banter with the dj, and got down to business. Near the end of my hour there, I noticed that the station manager was back, gesturing to me thru the glass. When the news guy took over, the manager came busting in saying, you were great - do you want a job? HUH?? me? Are you kidding? By the end of the week I had an FCC license and a regular slot on the afternoon show! It was an amazing and really fun time of my life, and I got to meet a lot of famous singers because I was a co-emceed their concerts in our town. BUT back to the old worn-out rotation of this oldies station. They have finally changed it up a bit, and I was happy to be listening to a new set of songs. Some Blood, Sweat and Tears, some Donovan, Strawberry Alarmclock - remember these guys? Suddenly the quilting clicked, and I was off. About that time I noticed what was playing -- it was Martha and the Vandellas 'Heatwave! I laughed like a little kid -- how perfect is that? <<>> Quilting does belong to some higher order in the universe, and has powers we can never understand.
(tongue firmly planted in cheek)
At 9:25 pm, the temp seems to have finally dropped below 90, and I'm ready for bed. Hopefully tomorrow will have a bit 'o binding in it!

Thursday, July 20, 2006

We're havin' a Heat Wave

I like orange fabric. There -- I've said it. You knew all along that SOMEONE did, now you know who. So I have a fair little collection of oranges, and while I may not ever make a full sized orange quilt, I always knew there's some orange projects in me somewhere. Here's the first:

These are the first blocks of what will be a wall hanging. I have a built-in stereo cubby situated in a wide doorway between rooms. The opening is pretty big, and it looks like a big dark hole in the wall, even with the stereo componets taking up space. So, I make wall hangings to cover it, play with designs, use up orphans, expirements and generally get things out of my system. I saw this quilt on someones' blog, but unhappily can't remember who or I'd give you a link. It has some sort of Irish name, but I don't think the Irish would particularly appreciate this particular set of colors. Since we are trapped solidly in our annual month-long run of 100+ degree days, Heat Wave seems like a more suitable name. What do you think???

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Aaahhhhh, Vacation!

So relaxing, so exciting, so invigorating, so exhausting!! We've just returned from a whirlwind 5 day road trip, beginning with an auction in Reno, NV and wandering from there up the northern most parts of CA that we've never seen. It was rugged, wild country and incredibly beautiful.

After a time winding thru mountain roads, we came around a bend and saw this - it is Lassen Peak. Our trail didn't take us too close to it, instead we veered around and wound up close to Mt. Shasta - in the shadow, in fact.

While cruising along at 65 along a nice semi-freeway, Jerry saw a dirt road up ahead and unceremoniously dove for it. We followed this logging road for a couple miles until it petered out, then became a cow trail and we stuck to it. This was the first big trip for our new truck, and it was a terrific way to travel, very comfortable. On this particular bit of off-roading, the truck did it's first bit of 4 wheel drive, thru some rough and muddy areas. It turned from white to brown in a big hurry!! Our next important stop was Burney Falls:

And all you can say about this is WOW WOW WOW -- awesome! There was a short 1/2 mile hike on a good trail to actually get to the pool, but after a long debate, I decided not to. The path snaked across the face of the cliff, not a hard walk but right against the wall, with the sun directly on it and the thermometer sat right at 102. Being old and thermostatically challenged as I am now, I figured I'd probably pass out before getting back up.

Finally, my personal Mission Statement for the trip was to visit as many quilt stores in as many towns as possible. May I present to you the evidence:

I did have a purchasing plan, and I stuck to it quite well. I was to only buy very lights, or very darks, or books and toys. With 2 exceptions, I did exactly that - but the two pieces of orange sherbet were too luscious to pass up. I found a long ruler 7 and 1/2 inches wide instead of 6, and that will be handy for me.

So after a lazy day mostly dozing in a chair, today I'm fired up to "play" as I call it - I still have 5 days of work, and getting to stay in my home and be domestic is such a pleasure for me. I may even have myself a little tea-party, a la Patty over at Morning Ramble!

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Hummers of the world, Unite!

Attack of the Hummers!!

We are having the best time watching the hummingbird wars. Fully outfitted Army Humvees have nothing on these puny warriors. We have two feeders situated outside our family room windows, so when we sit in there we can easily watch. Presently, there are at least 12 who come constantly, and in the early morning and last gasp of dusk they come all at once and wage all out war. I've seen one tiny bird chase off all the others and stake out one feeder for himself (herself?) Sometimes 6 crowd around one 4-hole feeder, and the other feeder sits vacant, 4 feet away. They are going thru 2 quarts of nectar every other day! At least the feeders don't have a chance to get moldy.......
Happy 4th! I had big plans for today, having to clean the house a little (housekeeper didn't show up again yesterday - long story) and play with fabric a little, maybe sew. At 1 we were supposed to go to the kids house next door for BBQ, then back later tonight for fireworks in their back tennis court, (I mean patio. It's huge.) Instead I got a frantic call from work that they are out of a chemical we need to operate. No Renalin, no dialysis. Yes, the clinic was open today because patients have to dialyze, no matter the date. So I made a quick call to our closest neighbor clinic 45 miles away, and headed out. The 2 lane road into the next county skirts 4 lakes, and as you can imagine a warm holiday has everyone out on the road. Anyone who wasn't pulling a boat or house trailer was driving a '66 Chevy pickup that hasn't had a tune up since 1978!!! I tell you, no one was able to get over 45 to 50 mph. Of course, there's no passing on a 2 lane, winding road. Hugely frustrating. When I finally got to the other clinic, the administrator there whom I had talked to earlier, had left in a hurry to drive to another clinic 60 miles away, because he was out of another necessary chemical -- this is ridiculous! He and I need to put our heads together and figure out how to not run out of stuff. That won't happen for a few weeks tho, because after tomorrow I am on vacation!! YAAA!!!! A quick trip to Reno, then hopefully I will stay put in my own house for 7 days in a row. To me, this is the height of bliss; now lets see how far I get. Dear Hunny hates to stay at home, he has the worst case of wanderlust I've ever seen. I love to go "adventuring" with him, so I certainly will. It's just that I am in serious need of nesty time.
So, holiday winding down quietly - we'll go watch the kids fireworks and try to stay awake, and remember why we celebrate this day. I have the freedom to live all of my days as I choose because of this day, and it's important to me to acknowledge that often, not just once a year.
Happy Freedom!