Friday, December 14, 2012

No Quilt Photo Today

No more quilt photos for a while - we'll have to put the stories of the rest of the Lone Star quilts on hold for a bit

First, thanks to all that have emailed, texted and called, wondering where I have been. It makes me feel good to know you care - and thank you to those that continue to check my blog for a new post.

But there won't be a new post for a while yet - and not very often even then.  I had back surgery on Nov. 27 after a painful trip to the ER in the ambulance (those things are not built for comfort, let me tell you). The surgery was successful and now the long, slow recovery.  I have my laptop on a wooden tv tray, tilted towards my lap, as I type this note. Not the most comfortable way to type - but it is working for a bit anyway.  And I can't sit in one position very long anyway.

Physical therapy, visits to the acupunturist, doctor visits, hospital bed and nice walker - and helpful family and friends - those are my companions for now - later I'll be back to share photos when I can.

Have a very wonderful holiday - and thanks for checking in with me.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Lone Star Quilt Number Two

This is the continued story of the Lone Star Quilts I made for my family.  Read about the beginning of the project here

The second Lone Star Quilt I want to show you is pink and white - for our oldest daughter.

 Start with the points of the star - pieced from 8 different fabrics.

All the points sewn together, forming the star.  

Borders - using the same fabrics

Attaching the borders to the star.

Bec with her quilt - son-in-law Jason on left, son-in-law Jay on right

 Close up of center.  .  .


Border quilting .  .  .

More to come 

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

A Day Book Entry - Good Bye October

I have enjoyed the Day Book entries of my "Canadian neighbor" Honora on her blog - Pondside.  Do stop over and visit - she always has something interesting, gorgeous photos and thoughts to make us ponder.

Outside my window  it is dark and chilly.  The weather has changed to our autumn pattern, rain and rain and rain. It is a good thing I love the rain. I grew up in Southeast Alaska (for those not from around here, that is the chain of islands that runs down along the west coast of British Columbia, Canada)  We played out in the rain when I was growing up; if we didn't, we would have spent a lot of time indoors.  I love the sound of rain plinking on a rain hat and rain slicker and love the splish splash splish of boots in the rain.

I am thinking about the Johnny Jump Ups in my railing planter boxes.  They are growing and blooming and sopping wet from our autumn rains.  They still hold up their smiling faces, no matter what comes their way - it reminds me to be happy more often.

From the kitchen comes the smell of toast, it just popped up in the toaster and my tea water is hot.  Bread and water can so easily be toast and tea.

I am reading   The Garden Letters, by Elspeth Bradbury and Judy Maddocks.  This is about my fifth or nineteenth time reading this wonderful book.  Two friends live and garden in New Brunswick, until one of them moves to the other side of Canada - to Vancouver Island.  Their letters share their  love of gardening and the plants they grow, the weather, their families and lovely sketches.

I am thankful for the warmth of my home and the safety of living here.  When I see the homeless people on the street corners I want to give them enough money for a house of their own so they can get back the feeling of safety that they hopefully had at some time in their life.  It saddens me to think that someone's brother, sister, father, mother, sibling, aunt, uncle, cousin or even grandparent is standing in the rain - holding a sign and hoping for a little bit of money to ease their discomfort or their hunger for just a little while.  I have so much and share with them whenever I can - it makes me feel good and I hope it makes them feel a little better too - and I always give them a smile at the same time - for it might be one of the few smiles they will see that day.

I have just finished folding several baskets of towels.  Fresh and warm from the dryer, towels give me the feeling of happiness. I like my linen closet organized - by color and by size of towels, sheets, etc.  I have a lovely stack of vintage embroidered pillowcase and for fun I sometimes take them all out and iron them, fold them back up and put them in their proper stack, until it is their turn on the pillows.  A lovely linen closet - sigh.

I am smiling because of three little boys, all wearing their Candy Corn hats that I crocheted for them.  Well, I guess I have to say, two little boys and one young man, Jahn-Zyel is now 11 (and humors his grandmother - thank you Jahn).  In the first frame can you see Jahn standing behind Ben?  It looks like Ben has on two hats.

I am planning our Thanksgiving dinner.  Now you might think that takes a lot of time and effort, and while it does entail writing down the foods we will eat and the serving dishes I'll use, the menu remains about the same every year - for about 45 years now.  

Our  3 year old daughter decorating cookies for our Thanksgiving company.

I cooked my first Thanksgiving dinner for Don's family when we lived in Wisconsin.  We had only two children then, a 3 year old and a baby (cutest children you ever saw).  The family gathered,  and I think there were 19 of us - but I'm not sure.  

I had baked 6 pies, everything was cooked and ready to serve.  The house smelled wonderful.  The family came up the outside stairs to our apartment in the upstairs of a big old farm house, and our 3 year old daughter came out of the bedroom with baby cream all over her face - she didn't miss one single spot (I told you they were cute kids, I didn't say they were angels) everyone thought it was hilarious - but that wasn't what was going through my mind as I wiped her sweet little face clean.  We sat  down to eat, and it began to snow.

Not your ordinary snow - but Wisconsin blizzard snow - thick and heavy flakes - so much snow that you couldn't see the yard light just outside our window.  Everyone was nervous - I was anxious - we ate our dinner and the family gathered up their coats, hats, scarves, boots and gloves and off they went.  No one ate the pies.

 It took the local people well over an hour to get home (usually 15 minutes), and those that lived an hour away had to spend 3 treacherous hours on the road (they had animals at home that needed tending to, so couldn't stay the night).

Almost as soon as they left, our electricity went out, so we gathered up the babies, snuggled them into our bed and went to sleep.  It had been a disappointing day, but everyone got home safely and we had a gas stove to keep us warm - and pie to eat for a week or more.

Thanksgiving menu

Appetizer - our son-in-law Jason Davies' famous cheese ball 

Stuffing - onion and sage
Mashed potatoes - piles of them
Gravy (my cousin Penquin taught me to make the best gravy - it is our family secret) - yes, his name IS Penquin
Cranberry relish (this has changed - it used to be cranberry sauce - but our youngest daughter makes the best cranberry relish, which is always requested by her dad)
Bread and Butter pickles - sometimes I forget them
Deviled eggs - two platters - one spicy, one plainer
Celery stuffed with cheese
Homemade rolls

Pies - pumpkin, mincemeat, apple - or whatever strikes our fancy

We set the table with fancy dishes - this year - the Loon Dishes or Desert Rose that belonged to my grandmother?

Serving pieces - green depression glass, crystal bowls and crystal gravy boat, vegetable shaped dishes (carrot, radish, corn), green water pitcher - lots of vintage silver for serving up the food, cloth napkins to match the dishes.

And so I say - Good Bye October - Welcome November!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Lone Star Quilts

I started a project in early 2008. I decided to make every member of our family a Lone Star quilt. But I wanted it to be a secret, until every quilt was finished. Now keeping a secret from people not living in this house is easy - well, sort of easy, if I don't leave any projects lying around for them to see, but hard to keep that big of a secret from Don - though I must say - he is one of the easier members of the family to fool. But since I needed him to occasionally hold up the quilts for photographing - I decided to let him in on the secret.

I had to start the project with deciding colors for the Lone Stars. The main decision was to make each quilt a different color - and only use one color in each one - all blues, all greens, etc.

Then I had to gather fabrics - and plot the quilts. I used color swatch cards, which I carried in my purse at all times. Looking for a pattern was another thing I had to do. Every pattern I found was for small Lone Star quilts - wall hangings - and weren't the size or number of colors that I wanted, so I drafted my own pattern. Then I marked on the pattern where each color would go - marked my color swatch cards with the number of pieces I would need of each fabric - and began cutting.

The first one I made was for our son - Rusty. He loves blue so that was an easy color selection.

After the center star was finished - I had to decide on borders - the hardest part of the quilt for me, as my friends will tell you.

I wanted a checkerboard border for Rusty's quilt - so I made lots and lots and lots more of three inch nine patches - for the border.

To make the borders come out even at the corners was often a problem - I solved that problem on the blue quilt by not having the checkerboards meet in the center - making a frame of them.

I would audition borders. Curved flying geese seemed like a good idea - but didn't seem to fit my idea of how the quilt should look.

I made flying geese with the paper piecing method - it is accurate and simple to do - and I like the look when finished. You can make the flying geese any size you choose.
Straight line flying geese fit better . . .

The flying geese go from light to dark and back again - all around the quilt.

Then the quilts had to go to a long arm quilter, as one or two were finished, I sent them off to Julie in Idaho, along with batting and backing, and she began machine quilting them.

After the tops were quilted, she sent them back,and I had to hide them.   At first it was easy - a few quilts hid away in the back of the closet - no problem - but as the stack grew, it became harder and harder to hide them.

My plan was to give out all the quilts at the same time, when our whole family was together.  Our daughters and their families live just down the hill from us, not 5 minutes away, but our son and daughter-in-law and grandson Donnie live in West Virginia.

They were scheduled to come out for a visit in June of 2012 - and two days before their flight, Donnie came down with the chicken pox - so of course they couldn't travel.  I had been rushing to get the last three quilts done before their arrival date - and I had them done three days early - and then - no visit because of the chicken pox.  

So I made some gift bags for each quilt - out of flannel backed plastic tableclothes - bagged them all up and hid them - some in the back of the closets and some under the guest bed - it took some doing, but all were hidden away - and we waited.

Finally, in early September, they were able to get reservations and vacations coordinated, and they flew to Bellingham from West Virginia.  We had a glorious visit with all of the kids here - and on a Sunday, after we had a family portrait done, I gathered the family in the living room and began to give out the quilts.  It was an emotional time for me - to finally see all the quilts finished and given to the family.

Rusty's Lone Star center - quilted .  .  .

Close up of border .  .  .

Rusty with his quilt - and Jahn-Zyel 

More to come .  .  .

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Mountains and Planes

On the way back from Wisconsin we had cloudy skies most of the way, but the clouds cleared as we were approaching Bellingham for landing. Off to one side I could see Mt. Adams - it was spectacular but went by fairly fast - then up loomed Mt. Ranier - it seemed so close - and even though the pilot had already announced that we were to have all carry-on luggage stowed beneath the seat in front of us, I whipped out my camera and began taking pictures.

Now this was more difficult than usual, because I was in an aisle seat and had to aim the camera out the window - hoping to get the mountains and not the passengers' heads.
Mt. Ranier was majestic . . .
A lot farther away we could see the Olympic Mountains, but even my camera has its limits - so I was happy with Mt. Ranier, and hoped that Mt. Baker would appear on the other side of the plane.

And there she was. Her little cap of clouds - a glorious welcome home sight!

I have no idea what this mountain is - but it was beautiful too. I was taking these out of the opposite side of the plane - across the aisle and there was a mother and two young children in the seats so I had to time the photos so I got them when everyone was not leaning forward in their seats.

And once again Mt. Baker came into view - I guess we must have been circling - I took pictures until the pilot announced that the flight attendants must take their seats and prepare for landing - and I stowed my camera under the seat in front of me, like a good passenger.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

More Birds in Wisconsin

Besides the Sandhill Cranes and the Mergansers in the last two posts about Wisconsin, we saw a few other birds too. One thing I saw was not a bird, but it went by so fast I couldn't even get my camera up for a picture. We were on the freeway heading back to southern Wisconsin and right there, beside the freeway, munching on leaves was an Elk - no kidding - an Elk. I am not sure how it got there - freeway and fence on one side and fence with houses behind the fence on the other side of the Elk, yet there it was, enjoying a tasty meal of leaves, oblivious to the rushing traffic and the houses nearby. I only wish I had a picture of it - the antlers were impressive.

So - back to the birds.

We stopped in Delafield, where Don had lived for a year and a half when he was 7-8 years old. The house on the Mill Pond was still there - but the mill pond dam had been taken down. He spent some time walking around in the yard, and as we were pulling out I spotted this lovely fella.

His mate had been on the fence too, but as I snapped the picture she flew off. I was happy just to have one photo of a cardinal.

As we were leaving Kashena Falls we heard the geese before we saw them. I got off one quick picture before they flew behind the trees.

At Kashena Falls we had watch a heron fly in way down the river - and my camera was able to capture him, even at that distance. I love my camera - Canon Power Shot SX 30IS - it can zoom up to 140X.

And then the turkeys. We saw several flocks of turkeys in those two days, but they were easily frightened and were gone before I could get a picture of them. This one was at the edge of a hay field where I had been taking pictures of the Sandhill Cranes. I saw the grasses on the edge of the field waving and focused my camera on them, to see what might come out.

And there he was . . .

Amongst the wild Black-Eyed Susan - a perfect shot - and then he was gone back into the grasses.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Mergansers at Kashena Falls

While we were in Wisconsin for Don's class reunion, we set some time aside to enjoy the countryside of northern Wisconsin. One of the places we stopped at was Kashena Falls - there is no park there - no benches for sitting - no picnic tables, just a small graveled area off the side of the road to pull over and park. It is quiet and sacred there, the falls, the river, the trees - and the birds. We saw a heron fly in and land on a rock and then we walked across the bridge that goes over the falls.

Don spotted them first, a few ducks far across the river, swimming together. As I was focusing my camera and trying to find just where they were, they popped up again, right near the bridge. And this is what we saw.

The Mergansers were swimming in a group near the bridge . . .

They line up and followed each other through the small rapids . . .

I had to work fast - focusing and taking pictures - they moved quickly along with the current . . .

They floated down the river and crossed to the other side - still following in a line . . .

Walked up on some rocks on the edge of the river . . .

Crossed under the bridge . . .

And jumped back in the water . . .

And started off down the river - in line . . .

They used the rapids like a water slide . . .

Good Bye ducks . . . and thank you!