Friday, June 27, 2008

Weekend Notes

While doing some idle blog hopping this morning, I happened on Paula's Coffeetime Quilt Studio and she showed her Siggie Swap quilt made from the blocks we swapped last year. Not just last year, but EARLY last year - February to be exact - and mine were still in a baggie somewhere in the nether regions of my UFO closet. I was ashamed. Abashed and chagrined. Gee - it's been that long? REALLY? So even tho I'm usually a lurker at Coffeetime, I left a comment - "I'm doing mine today!" and Paula e-mailed me back - "I'll be watching!" So I went gold-mining through all those totes of forgotten projects - ("wow! why didn't I ever finish that? It's cool!") and finally came up with the blocks. Spent some time playing around with a layout, and even made a couple more blocks to even out my chosen design, and voila!
At the end of the day I have a half quilted Siggie Swap! That was such a fun swap, and it was fun to look back at all the names. I wonder if anyone's interested in doing that again?
The big news here is still our fires, as it will be for the next few weeks. The smoke is choking - you see UPS drivers and such all wearing masks. The roads are mostly empty - this was highway 101 (our main artery) yesterday at about 10 am -

It's a strange, surreal time. Headlights and kitchen lights on in the middle of the day, and it's so quiet, so still. I couldn't figure out why it was so quiet until late this afternoon; the birds are gone! Where? Who knows - it's smoky everywhere you go. Maybe they found someplace LESS smoky to hide out.
Land of the Midnight Sun - that's what it feels like. It's tough to stay inside and keep all the windows and doors closed 24/7 - I hate that part! - but I bravely hid out in my sewing room with and chocolate and sewed and read blogs all day. I even found a brand new blog written by someone in the thick of our closest fire! It's been the best source of information about evacuations and what we can do to help. They mentioned needing simple things like first aid supplies for cuts, scrapes and poison oak so I ran down town and scooped up a bag full, brought it home and gave it to the next truck that went down our road on their way up to the fire. I wish I could do more to help, but probably the best anyone can do is keep praying. Those kids on the firelines need it and California as a whole needs it and our little county needs it.
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Tuesday, June 24, 2008


We have over a hundred fires currently burning in our county, with sixty of them un-manned because there's just not enough firefighters to be on all of them. The smoke is pretty bad and we're under a health alert to stay inside. So with that order, fans and AC on and a fan venting to the outside, I was settling in for a relaxing day of sewing. Then I heard trucks outside, a LOT of trucks. At first I just stood there with my mouth open, gawking. Then I grabbed a camera......

I missed the fire trucks - but got a FEW of the crew and support trucks.....
Sorry for the out-of-focus pics....these guys were moving pretty quick!
It was a pretty long parade.......

The bulldozers were in the first half along with the fire trucks I missed..... altogether an impressive caravan of maybe 20 vehicles. I called Hunny right away -- "Where are these guys going???" Well, the closest fire is about 10 miles away in the hills behind us, and there's a back road at the end of our road that goes there. Obviously this is a better way to get there than the road in town that we've been hearing about. Now, am I nervous because they're so close, or happy that they're so close? Maybe I'll casually gather up some important stuff.......

LATE UPDATE - we found out tonight that the fire is just 5 1/2 miles away, and our road is now designated as a "FIRE ROAD". Now I'm really fidgety and nervous.......

Home at Last

I think I'll just stay home for awhile......I'm pooped! Our Oregon trip was wonderful as always - and full of surprises!
Look! An empty storefront that literally has my name on it! LOL! There's no way to tell what this might have been, but methinks it's an OMEN that I should open a quilt store, what d'ya think? This was in Brookings, OR and if I can figure out how to do it, it has to be the header on my blog. Of course! On the way up there was a chance I would get to meet up with Pam from My Creative Mind but it didn't work out this time. Next trip! (Hey Pam - next time you're in Forget-me-Knots, look under the counter :-)
We arrived home to find our county covered in a thick blanket of smoke. There was a dry electrical storm right after we left that started over a hundred fires around us. Scary stuff! A storm like that is unusual here, and we won't have rain until probably late October so that's even worse.
My favorite place on the Oregon coast has to be Gold Beach, and we arrived at low tide, the first time I've seen it so low. made for some great pictures of the brilliant green algae that lives under the water most of the time.
Un-retouched photos, I swear! There is an old ship, The Mary Hume that is scuttled there right where she was built in 1880. It's a favorite of mine, I jokingly call her MY boat, and I probably have 100 pictures of her. This was the first time I got to see her high and dry so I have a whole new set of shots!
Neat shot - Well, I have the day to myself and a bunch of un-packing and laundry and cleaning up to do so I'd better get to sewing - LOL!! Finally, a chance to sew!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Pit Stop

Home again after a wonderful visit at Mom's - my best vacation EVER! Three things came together to make it an incredible time - I'm recovering nicely from the former job; I was travelling alone so no one to keep me occupied, and the longest stretch Mom and I have had together alone (mostly) since my brother was born in 1956! I really felt like a candle in the sun - the stress melted away. Ahhhh -- reborn! Even a last minute glitch didn't wind me up - I had it so firmly fixed in my head that the return was on Tuesday that I never rechecked the ticket till Tuesday morning, only to find that my itinerary had been cancelled. HUH??? WTH???? After a few phone calls and careful re-reading turns out my flight was MONDAY night, not Tuesday. Oops. Oh bother. The airline put me on the Tuesday night flight no problem and I'll chock another one up to senility. The drive from Nowhere, Utah to Las Vegas takes around 4 hours give or take depending on how many stops. And it's 4 hours of NOTHING; miles and miles of nothing but miles and miles. There's some spectacular scenery along the way in places - the Virgin River Gorge is utterly fantastic, like driving down into a mini version of the Grand Canyon. DAMN hard to keep eyes on the winding road tho!!! I was worried about driving into downtown Las Vegas during rush hour and finding the car rental return place but it was easy-peasy, the place has it's own freeway signs and really good signage to direct you. So now, all relaxed and with feet up, I'll show you a few more highlights. On one of our wanderings, Mom and I stopped by this wagon on the side of the road and bought fresh homemade bread from two young girls, situated just north of Bryce Canyon:
They live quite a long ways away through the desert and back into a "lost" canyon, and as I figured it they must leave home about 4 am to get to their trailer (behind the wagon) to make their bread in time to open for business at 10 am. Whew - I really wanted to support that, what a way to earn your keep.
There's deserted log cabins everywhere you look in south central Utah and they're one of my favorite things - I have LOTS of pictures of empty decaying pioneer cabins. I love to imagine the families that lived there and I do a mental recreation of what the cabin looked like when it was a home. Every old homestead is surrounded by cottonwood trees planted by the original owners - it's the first thing they did. Here's a typical abandoned cabin; think you can envision the family that lived there? Papa in the fields, Mama hanging laundry and Sonny-boy out, ummm........... robbing trains?

LOL - yes, that's the true story of this cabin. This is the boyhood home of none other than Butch Cassidy!
The hundreds of miles surrounding this area was all old Butchs' playground and very easy to see how he could disappear into the wild and escape capture. Terrific stuff!
OK, I have quilty stuff too, never fear. One of the vendors at the Quilt Walk was selling these great seam rippers that he makes himself:

They were so beautiful, and feel SO good in the hand! He uses all sorts of woods in any finish you can think of, and has dozens of designs for the handles. I'm so sorry I'm such a loser I didn't take a picture of his display - it was awesome. He also has stilettos and pens and such - fantastic. His card says "Woodworking inspired by Quilters" Great stuff! Oh yea - those beautiful carved handles have a small flattened area on one side so they won't roll away. That must be the part inspired by a quilter!
While I was gone my daughter suffered her first big heartbreak - she's one to always have her guard up and not put her heart out there for fear of getting stomped on. Well, she was seeing a fella last year that she thought was moving too fast and she broke it of - breaking his heart and putting him into a tailspin. He quit his job here and moved back down to the southern part of the state to recover. So he's been visiting friends here again and she and he met up again and had a few dates and she realized that he really is what she wants and she had been acting like a stupid kid so she told him. And he said forget it. Not that you can blame the guy but still - MY baby is unhappy and what do ya do with an unhappy kid? You make her a quilt! She pulled this pile of fabrics from my closet many months ago -

Funny really because I bought that petroglyph fabric about 5 years ago with her in mind! I'm not sure about that lime green - that might need some fiddling - but I need to get busy and come up with a design. First however, I have this little matter of doing the laundry and re-packing. Hunny and I are leaving tomorrow to drive up the coast of Oregon to deliver a slot machine. Our favorite mini-vacation, with a "few" quilt shops to visit along the way, LOL! Then I get a week more to lay around then it's BACK TO WORK!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Cool Quilts!

Ahhhh.....I could sure get used to the retired life! My adventure in travelling alone with a wrecked wrist is going just fine. My mom is doing great -

This is Mom with a friend of hers..... her life is vastly different from mine and it's fun to see her friends, her stomping grounds and her pastimes. She was patient enough to accompany me when I caught word of a "Quilt Walk" in the next nearest town, 40 miles south. In Panguitch one hard winter over a hundred years ago, the pioneer families were running low on supplies and were in danger of starvation. Six men set out with an oxcart to find food for their famlies. Finding the deep snow too difficult (maybe impossible?) they discovered that they could make good headway by spreading their quilts on the snow and walking over them. In this manner they travelled a lot of miles for supplies. To honor this, the tiny town of Panguitch holds an annual Quilt Walk Days, and it's a doozy! The entire tiny town decorates with quilts!

The Social Hall, smack middle of Main St. Across the street is a tiny park-like area, decorated with what else, quilts.
The local guild put on a show complete with vendors, and I did my duty towards stimulating the economy! The show was not judged and many of the quilts probably wouldn't be considered in judging, but they were wonderful nonetheless. Thick puffy batts are preferred, and there was a lot more hand quilting done than we'd see around my area. One of the vendors had fat quarters for ONE dollar!! My poor Mom's eyes bugged out as she held my bag and I shoveled -- lol! I have more treasures to show you, but it'll have to wait till I get home. I head back to Vegas on Tuesday, and fly home in the middle of the night. (!) There was a story in the paper about some party causing a bit of trouble in Vegas....someone with a Red Geranium in her lapel............

Saturday, June 07, 2008


No, not that way - see how you think? I've spent the last 2 days working furiously in my yard getting drip irrigation all set because, on Monday night I'm getting on a plane all by myself and flying to Las Vegas where I will stay the night all by myself. The next morning I hop in my rental car and drive 4 hours all by myself to spend a week visiting with my Mom in Utah -- YAA!! The key phrase is "all by myself" which was going to be an adventure until I broke my wrist yesterday. Now it's going to be an ordeal. Somehow in all that manual labor, I sustained a navicular fracture of a tiny bone between the thumb and wrist bone. It's also known as a "snuff fracture" because there's a blood supply there that does a weird turnabout and this fracture often causes havoc with the blood supply to the wrist and thus - SNUFFS it. Nice. What the heck did I do? No clue -- I didn't fall on it or anything - it just started hurting so I ignored it. This morning when I woke up I couldn't move it and it hurt like blazes, so off to the ER we go, instead of going to the quilt show which was my first choice of how to spend a beautiful Saturday. Grumble grumble growl. Totally useless left hand - the splint includes the thumb - good thing I'm a righty. So today I'm home with ice and a bad attitude and can't sew and can only type with one finger and there's still plants to be planted before I go. AND I'm missing the quilt show and a day with the grandboys -- doggone it anyway. Well, I can read anyway, so I'm off to see what kind of quilty goodness you're all up to.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

The South Rises Again

The Civil War isn't over everywhere, you know. There's still parts of this country where hot spots flare up every once in awhile.
Like my sewing room.
I didn't have this much trouble with my very first quilt! Or any other one I've ever made for that matter! These blocks ended up being such a biasy mess that I nearly wanted to burn the whole thing. There's at least 2 reasons for the mess - first is that the construction method I used left 12 little bias edged HST's on the outer edges of every single block. Those suckers only live to stretch. The second reason could be that I pieced them on 2 different machines - that could have been enough to throw everything haywire. The sashing strips were cut to the measurements of the first 10 or so blocks that were consistant in size, in this case 9 3/4 inches. And the first few rows were fine! As time went on tho, we had DEVELOPMENTS:
This is unsewn, just pinned to show the big difference. Some were a lot worse! I took each row and sprayed and steamed and pressed the mamajammer out of them, doing my level best to shrink 'em. For the most part it worked pretty well ----
Now at least they were in the same neighborhood, and I muddled through getting all the rows joined up. Some of the bigger blocks that are now surrounded by smaller sashing on 4 sides are really really bubbly!! After something like 4 days of intermittent frustration and a few choice %$#*!! at last I had the block body together. And the inside measurement thru the middle was about one and 1/4 inch shorter than those damn bias edges!!! Here's how I deal with inside borders that need to be "persuaded"
Lay it out carefully on the floor and use t-pins into the carpet to hold the border strip and top.
Then I kind of scooch my fingers around underneath to ease the fullness and pin the middle and pin and pin and pin and pin. So that went on SORT OF ok, but the border fabric I picked out was 2 inches too short and of course I didn't have any more. So I pieced it - what the heck, how much worse can it get? And eventually I had 2 borders on and laid it out to see how bad the bubbly blocks were:
YIKES!!! Really Really bad!! Oh wait -- Cuervo's under there playing Quilt Cop......Cuervo with the tequila gold colored eyes. Good thing I like him or those eyes would creep me out. So the next step was to prepare a backing. I'm trying to use stash, and I had a giant piece of incredibly ugly CW that I picked up for about a buck at some big sale --- good enough. I've already decided that this puppy won't ever leave my house and my name sure won't be on it so ugly CW will do just fine. After that I had to stop and smell the roses...........these came from my patio.

After that brief intermission, plus a quick lunch date with Hunny, I layered the thing up and spray basted it and spent a long long time patting and smoothing and finally had a flat, square sammich ready to quilt:

So now the 'Rebel Quilt' (gotta be, doncha think?) is under the needle and durned if it's still not done attacking. Now the thread is breaking every foot or so. And my free-hand straight lines are anything but, and my usually good stitches look like crap. Tonight I pick out the quilting on 2 blocks, and tomorrow it gets all quilted, even if it just ends up being nothing more than an all over design. Or maybe a Confererate flag in every block? LOL!!