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Monday, November 20, 2017

Journal: Lumpy Pillows and Frumpy Feet

Last Monday, the only things I did that had anything to do with quilting were 1) scrubbing an appliquéd block that had a couple of spots on it, and 2) playing with my new EQ8 (Electric Quilt software).  I pulled up the design I’d put together in EQ7 for the vintage Sunbonnet Sue blocks that were made by our grandmothers, great-grandmothers, aunts, great-aunts, and some of their neighbors, friends, and teachers.  Having discovered that EQ8 has some chain blocks that might work better with the Sunbonnet Sue blocks than the ones that were in EQ7, I switched blocks around, and saved the new version along with the old.
Other than that... I washed the dishes.  That’s good, right?  I even got the laundry all done and the bills paid.
Tuesday, I got a notice that a new My Pillow had shipped (you’ll recall the old one got lost), and should be here the next day.  I requested email notifications all along the route, so that if it got misdelivered again, I’d have a better idea just where it had been mistakenly left.
I really did need that pillow.   But... I’ve never bought a pillow online or from a magazine before, without feeling it first.  My neck is picky!  I hoped it would be worth it; silly.
Some mornings while I am curling my hair, Tiger foils my penchant for exercising whilst I do so, by snuggling up around my ankles, purring, and eventually lying down as immediately underfoot as possible.  I can’t exercise with a cat all cuddled around my hoofs!

“Maybe your feet smell like catnip,” a friend suggested.

Haha  Guess that’s better than toe-jam, eh? 
That day, I sewed sashing to blocks, and then began sewing blocks to blocks in diagonal strips for the Baskets of Lilies quilt.
Late Wednesday morning, I got a notice saying that the ‘My Pillow’ package had been delivered – in the mailbox.
Huh?!  How in the world could a box with a large pillow in it fit in our mailbox?! 
I went over to Old Highway 81 and peered in the mailbox.
It was definitely full.
But it was a soft package, not a box.
I took it back to the house, opened it, and pulled out a smushed collection of lumps in a casing.
A note fluttered to the table.  I picked it up and read, To activate My Pillow, put it in a hot dryer for 15 minutes.
I looked at the bunch of lumps.  Well, nothing to lose.
I trotted the limp thing into the laundry room, threw it in the dryer, and turned it on.
15 minutes later, I retrieved a big, ol’, soft, fluffy pillow.  Slightly lumpy.  I probably didn’t have the dryer set hot enough. 
A couple of nights later, I put it back in the dryer and set the temperature as high as it would go. 
The pillow came out fluffier than ever.  And still slightly lumpy.
I’m not as enthralled with it as some people are, but it’s a sight better than my old pillow.
Wednesday afternoon, I reached the halfway point in putting the Baskets of Lilies quilt together.  I took some time out to put birthday gifts in bags for little Elsie, who is now one year old, and for her older brother Leroy, who would be 6 the next day.   To Elsie, we gave the double fleece blanket, tied around the edges, with the little mini blanket and a Beanie Baby lion that matches the lion printed on the fleece.
For Leroy, I had a little airplane piloted by teddy bears – and it’s a penny bank.  I put a big handful of coins in it.  Also, I found a matchbox-sized four-wheeler, and a Noah’s Ark puzzle.  That didn’t seem like quite enough, so after church we stopped at Wal-Mart and got a fancy little vintage car to add to the collection. We dropped off the gifts on our way home.
My toes are getting better, though cramming them into a shoe for church makes them complain – and wouldn’t you know, the plantar wart I acquired on the bottom of that same foot about four years ago has come to life with a vengeance.  But my mother would think it was very bad form to discuss plantar warts in public, so I won’t.  😉  (But I did just order some medicine from Dr. Scholl.)
Thursday morning, I made a pot of huckleberry coffee – and found a box on the porch:  another customer quilt to do. 
I had told all my customers, “No more quilts until after January 1st.”  But whataya do when they look like sad cocker spaniels and say, “Pleeeeeeeze?” and “Don’t interrupt your own things, but could you just squeeeeeeze mine in, when you’re not busy?”
Ha!  ‘When I’m not busy.’  If I didn’t do customer stuff until I was done with my own stuff, well, ... I just wouldn’t do any customer stuff, that’s all.  😏
Question:  Why does orange-furred Tiger like best to rub all around my legs when I have this long navy pencil-line skirt on, and more especially if I’m planning to go somewhere???
Question #2:  Are long navy pencil-line skirts still cute and stylish, when the bottom 10” are made of orange fur?
Question #3:  What did I do with the lint roller??
I opened the box, measured the quilt, pulled up a Hobby Lobby 40%-off coupon on my tablet, used packaging tape on my skirt (I would later find the lint roller downstairs on my quilting frame – I’d used it on a quilt), and carefully stuck my feet into the bright fuchsia shoes Larry got for me (when one’s toes hurt, one is less inclined to be vain about one’s shoes).  (I do really like those shoes; they’re the most comfortable hiking shoes I’ve ever had.  But I rarely go shopping in them.)  (Ah, well.  They didn’t clash, at least.)  Then I grabbed my purse, remembered the piece of paper on which I’d written the quilt measurements (if I remember the paper, I will not forget the measurements; if I forget the paper, I will also forget the measurements), and even managed to remember my tablet.
At Hobby Lobby, I discovered Hobbs Premium Heirloom cotton batting listed for the very same price as Fairfield poly.  I decided to get it, after weighing a package in each hand, and thinking the cotton really wasn’t all that much heavier.  I thought my customer might like to compare it with what we’ve used before, and see which she likes best.  It’s nice batting, and it was a good price.
I’ve read a few bad reviews on Fairfield – people saying that it isn’t uniform, or that there are lumps and bumps... but I haven’t gotten any that was bad.  My favorite will always be wool (or silk!)... but it’s a whole lot more expensive, and some of the recipients of my quilts would never, ever know the difference.  Next time I make a bed quilt for us, though, ...  I will get wool. 
Home again, I went on working on the Baskets of Lilies quilt.  I wanted to get the blocks and rows all together before I put it aside to quilt my customer’s quilt. 
By suppertime, it was together, except for the borders.  Twenty more appliquéd flowers will extend into those borders.  I plan to put fabric yo-yos in the center of each appliquéd flower after quilting is complete.
I keep debating with myself... shall I use a pantograph, or do custom quilting?  I have some really pretty pantos... but I usually prefer custom... but pantos are faster... but I can control any possible ripples and rumples better doing custom... but Todd and Dorcas might never even notice the difference... but I might want to enter it in the fair before I give it to them... but ------ you see how it goes.
Sometimes I don’t decide until the quilt is loaded.  And then it’s time to quilt!  So... I quilt.
I’m leaning toward custom quilting, a really bang-up job.  Then I’d save it to enter in our County Fair and State Fair, and give it to Todd and Dorcas for their anniversary next October.
That seems like a looong time ----- but, on the other hand, I just gave Elsie the double-fleece blanket and mini blanket I made for her, many months ago.  I looked back to see when I made it.  I kept looking back... farther... farther... farther... – and discovered I made that thing last January 21! 
Wow.  Time flies.
Todd and Dorcas know I’m making the quilt for them.  I’ll just tell them what I’m planning to do...  and if I act all apologetic and stuff, they’ll have to be gracious, right??  😉
That evening, I realized that nary a one of the online groups to which I belong (quilting, sergers, Berninas, doll clothes, Electric Quilt, SewItsForSale, etc.) had sent or received any posts since the previous night.  I hunted around to see if I could find out what the trouble might be, but couldn’t find anything.  Yahoo is bad about posting their troubles – that is, they never like to admit they’re having a problem.  Furthermore, they make it nearly impossible to find anyone to contact about problems, whether it concerns groups, mail, photos, or websites.
Everyone should’ve been getting lots done, since there were no group emails to read and respond to!  But instead, they’d probably been frantically clicking ‘Refresh page’ all day long.  With whom were they going to share their accomplishments, huh huh huh huh huh?!!
That night, Larry and I watched a video Kurt posted on Instagram.  Victoria was playing with Baby Carolyn, and the baby was laughing right out loud, because her Mama was imitating the little noises she was making.  One of the things that always strikes us funny is how delighted the parents are over their baby.  Larry said exactly what I was thinking:  “It’s every bit as much fun to watch the parents enjoying their baby, as it is to watch the baby!”
Lydia posted pictures from Jonathan’s first day to preschool.  Lydia said, “He was telling me about his first day at preschool and I wanted to take his picture ‘so we could remember’ – and this is what we’ll remember:” -- and she captured Jonathan in full, animated description, arms flung high over his head, amazed face... then a laughing face... then smiling and a little sheepish, having realized he was on Candid Camera.  Funny little guy.
Friday afternoon as I loaded my customer’s quilt on my frame, I could hear goldfinches twittering all around the bird feeders, and over in the cottonwood and maple trees, the Eurasian ring-necked doves are cooing away.  Every now and then the blue jays screamed, or toodle-oooed, or made their high-pitched screeeee! noise that’s a perfect imitation of the red-tailed hawks that populate the countryside.  With that call alone, they frighten away all the little songbirds at the feeder without any undue exertion at all.
When Larry’s family lived in Trinidad, Colorado, their neighbors had a pet magpie that talked.  They also had a cat named Cindy.
The magpie could perfectly imitate the lady of the house.  He’d sit atop a fencepost and call, “Cindy!  Cindy!” and pretty soon the cat would come running, thinking it was time for his food.
But... there was no lady at the door.  The cat would look around, spot the magpie atop the pole, look peeved, and stalk off in High Dudgeon, switching its tail. 
The Schwan man came that day, so for supper I popped a frozen chicken casserole into the oven.  Pretty easy, for such a scrumptious meal.  It really does taste like it was put together from scratch.
After completing two wide passes on the quilt, I quit for the night. 
Do you know what happens when you sit in front of a little space heater – and there are brass rivets in your skirt?  Well, I just found out.
Actually, I already knew.
But I found out again.
A woman wrote and asked me if I could make her a king-sized quilt.  Make it, from start to finish, she meant.  “I suppose it would cost a couple hundred?” she asked.
A ‘couple hundred’!  😲  It’s several hundred for the fabric alone!
What she wants is a nice comforter from Wal-Mart.
Saturday, I quilted.  And quilted.  And quilted.  I didn’t quit until I was done. 
I did slather on some Soothanol drops... some Capzasin... and some Pain-A-Trate, in order to get the job finished.
Yesterday afternoon, I took a much-needed-but-too-short nap.  My alarm went off in less than an hour.  I got up... got ready for church... made some coffee... and set about convincing Larry that he really was done with his nap.
I considered behaving like that woman at the campground in Buena Vista, where we stayed with the children way back when Victoria was little.  The sun was just beginning to think about peeking over the mountains on the east side of the valley when the woman in the next camper bellowed, “GET UUUUUUUUUUUUUPPPPPP!!!!!!!!!” at a pitch of approximately 200 decibels.
Her family got up, screaming and yelling and cussing and barking (there were three dogs, in addition to one husband and three kids). 
After I scraped my husband and kids off the ceiling of the camper, we got up, too.
Or down, as it were, off the ceiling.
But Mama taught me not to act like that, so instead I sing-songed, “ ♫ ♪ It’s time to get up! ♫ ♪ ” over and over like a buzzy, pesky fly, until he got up.
Our men’s choir, which has several new voices in it, including Kurt’s, sang a beautiful song called I Look Beyond.  I hunted for the lyrics, but couldn’t find them.  I did find a touching old hymn called Beyond the Shadows, though.  I’ll insert it at the end of this letter.
This afternoon, I packed up the quilt, took the box to the post office, and shipped it back to my customer, who lives in Washington State.
Next on the agenda:  putting the borders and the rest of the appliqué flowers on the Baskets of Lilies quilt.
A friend wrote to ask me, “As you look at your quilts, how do you decide what pattern(s) you will use to quilt the sandwich together?  Do you have a favorite quilting design?”
When it’s a customer quilt, I send them a bunch of pictures of pantographs they might like, and let them choose.
If it’s for one of my own quilts, well, about the time I get the thing loaded, I decide whether or not I’m going to do custom quilting, or if I’ll use a pantograph.  I have a few favorite pantographs; I especially like big, busy, fancy-schmancy feathers... or intricate roses with echoing...
I’ve learned (or at least I should’ve learned) not to choose pantos that have lots of straight, diagonal lines.  My machine only does straight, diagonal lines well when I’m doing custom quilting from the front, using rulers.  Not too long ago, I found a ‘perfect’ panto for a lady’s baby quilt:  cute little train cars going this way and that, tipped cattycorner all along the row. 
Aaaauuuugggghhhh.  I decided, after I was done, that that pantograph needed a new name:  Higgledy-Piggledy, Hobbly-Wobbly Train Cars.  That way, everyone would look at my quilting and think, She did that on purpose. 
The neighbors’ stupid idiot of a blue heeler (actually, he’s not so stupid, really; he’s behaving exactly like they’ve programmed him to act) is yappity-yapping his head off at their leaf blower while the lady tries to clean the already-clean driveway.  She finally gets aggravated, swings the blower at the dog – and the dog leaps backward, neatly avoiding the blower; then, when, uh, let’s call her ‘Hildegard’, is at the far reach of her swing, the dog dives forward and nips Hildy on the ankle.  Hildegard yells, swings; dog leaps, dives, nips; Hildegard yells, swings; dog leaps, dives, nips; Hildegard yells, swings ------- you get the picture.
What’d they expect, getting a ‘heeler’?
They probably thought it meant, “Dog follows nicely at one’s heels.”  Ha!

I’m telling you, I don’t need afternoon soap operas around here.

,,,>^..^<,,,        Sarah Lynn        ,,,>^..^<,,,

Monday, November 13, 2017

Journal: A Bit of Quilting

About a week ago, Larry washed the Jeep.  It has black metallic paint, and a wash job makes it glisten and shine.  A couple of days later, I happened to glance out the window.  There sat the Jeep in the drive, sparkling in the sunlight – with a couple of cardinals, a brilliant red male and his duller buff-colored mate, perched right on the hood.  Even as I watched, an English sparrow landed on the drive beside the Jeep and pecked up some fallen purple coneflower seeds.  Then he turned, observed his reflection in the passenger side door, and promptly went to dueling with it!  Aauugghh, my newly washed Jeep!  🙄
I miss fluffy little Tabby.  He could seem like a bit of a dumb bunny at times, but he always, always had a sweet disposition.  I keep thinking I see him coming along to ask for his soft food, from the corner of my eye.  And then I remember...
Our old kitchen chairs are still in the back hallway, all jumbled together and in the way.  Larry can’t seem to think of any place to put them.  He suggested putting them upstairs in one of the rooms I fixed all up a few months ago!! 
I ranted and raved, “Why are you and your carburetors attracted to all my clean spots?!!!”
And he laughed.
Wednesday, I got back to working on Todd and Dorcas’s quilt.  A break that evening for our church service... and then I worked on it again after we got home and had a late supper.  By the time I quit, I’d finished seven more Carolina Lily blocks.  There were just two more to go.
Somebody asked me if I could share the pattern I created in EQ7.  Yes, I have a file from EQ7 (now converted to EQ8), but nobody will like it, because I wound up with all sorts of odd patch sizes – 1/8”, 3/8”, 5/8”.  I’m always doing that, somehow.  I get the blocks the way I want them... the quilt just the right size... the sashings in place...  There!  Done!
And then... Oh.  Look at all those odd sizes.
If I fix one odd size, something else goes odd.  Sooo... I don’t worry about it, and just cut those odd sizes.  No problem.
However, I’ve discovered that others don’t share my opinion of ‘no problem’.  They see those funny fractions, and immediately think, Problem!  Problem!
So... if any of you want my pattern with its oddities, I’ll be glad to send it to you.  You can play around with it as you like... I’m sure with a little time, you could get those patches to be of ‘normal’ increments. 
EQ8 is going to be better, in getting things the ‘right’ size – because you can hover your mouse over an individual patch, and a little box will scroll down and tell you its size.  In EQ7, one must go to File, Print, and then click Template or Rotary or Foundation to see all those patch sizes.
Thursday was a total bust, since I woke up with the stomach flu.  I got up, carried my clothes into the bathroom to take a bath and wash my hair, changed my mind, and went back to bed.
I didn’t even open my laptop that day.  Now, that’s sick!  I had a temperature of 99.8°.  My usual temp is under 97°, so 99.8° is kind of high, for me.
I didn’t get up again for any length of time until the next morning.  I still wasn’t quite ‘up to power’, as a friend of ours used to say, but I was better.  Just feel my nose!
I set about trying to make up for lost time.  I pretty much felt like a wet noodle (a stiff and achy wet noodle, if that’s possible), but at least I was in my sewing room again, working away.  One whole day lost!  Bah, humbug.
Before long, I had the last two Carolina Lily blocks done, making a total of 25 blocks.  Next, I began cutting the 13 ½” backgrounds for 16 appliqué blocks.  There are actually 36 appliquéd flower sets, some of which will extend into the borders.
I finished cutting all the white background pieces for the quilt, ironed each large white block into sixths, and then ironed down the appliqués on the pressed marks.  Since I’d cut the pieces with Steam-A-Seam II, I needed only to peel off the paper on the other side of the sticky stuff, steam the appliqués into place, and then do a satin stitch around the edges.  Not my favorite way of doing it... but... thought I’d give it a try.
Hannah wrote to see if I was still in the Land of the Living.  We were conversing through text – her phone to my laptop.  Odd things happen sometimes, with this manner of communication.  Some of her messages arrive before they leave her phone (timestamp quallyfobble); others take an hour to get here.  The little Verizon messenger boy obviously takes a coffee break after every half-dozen messages.
Bobby was hard at work on Christmas music for our band that night.  He spends many hours working on it – all while working somewhere near the same amount of hours as Larry.
The first time I wrote music for all the horns, years ago, nobody told me different types of horns needed their music written in different keys.  Aarrgghh.  I’d done it all by hand!
I was sooo happy when I finally got a computer music program.
Saturday, I was editing some pictures, tried pulling up PaintShop Pro, and got a popup box saying, “Encountered improper argument.”  Eh?  Ah wasn’t arguin’ wit nobuddy!!  An’ iffen ah wuz, it weren’t improper, huh-uh nosiree!!!  Ah only make proper arguments.
I’ve had an order coming from Wal-Mart, and I was really anticipating its arrival:  It’s a new pillow.  The ‘My Pillow’ brand, to be exact.  Wal-Mart’s website says my new pillow should have arrived Friday, and is marked ‘Delivered’.  But...it’s not here.  Wonder which neighbor is enjoying a new ‘My Pillow’?  I need that thing.  My pillow is shot, and has been for years.
The made-famous-by-TV ‘My Pillow’ is supposed to ‘keep your nerves in alignment’.  Well, how are my nerves supposed to get in alignment, when the stupid FedEx guy doesn’t deliver my ‘My Pillow’ to the correct address, I’d like to know?!  FedEx is notorious for wrong and missed deliveries out here.  The drivers also walk through flowerbeds – but since my flowerbeds are combo flower-and-weedbeds as of late, we won’t talk about that now.
I just had an online chat with a Wal-Mart representative.  He’s so cheery, he makes me want to box his ears:  “Your entire address, for verification purposes only,” he requests merrily.
I give it to him.
“Perfect!” he exults.
I want to retort, “No, it isn’t perfect.  I don’t have My Pillow!!!”
Eventually he informs me that the shipment came from another company, so there’s nothing Wal-Mart can do about sending me a refund or replacement.  He immediately (and cheerily) contradicts himself by telling me he will send my complaint to the My Pillow Company, posthaste, and they will email me in a day.  “Two at the latest!” he writes chirpily.
In the meanwhile, dirty ol’ Hortense Grzeskiewicz has My Pillow tucked under his greasy cranium.  😝
By Saturday night, I’d finished 16 appliqué blocks for the Baskets of Lilies quilt.  There are 20 more to do, but they’ll have to wait until I get all the sashes and cornerstones and borders put together, because they are partly on outer half-blocks and partly on the borders.
The appliqué pieces are all cut from a leftover piece of fabric that I used for ruffled curtains and a table scarf in Hannah and Dorcas’ room when they were young.  Reckon Dorcas will recognize it? 
After church yesterday morning, Larry made some of his scrumptious waffles.  These were even better than usual.  He used a multigrain flour mix from Arrowhead Mills, and added a little cherry yogurt to the recipe.  Mmmm, mmm. 
It’s been a week since that shooter killed all those people in the little church in Texas.  I remember when I was young, a shooter entered a grocery store in a big city (Omaha?), went through the aisles ordering everyone down onto the floor, took their money, and randomly shot a few, even though they weren’t putting up any resistance whatsoever.  He finished his job and departed – and the people went on lying there in sheer terror. 
I remember staring at the grainy security-cam picture in the paper and asking in amazement, “Why did they do that?!!!  Look at all those things they could have been throwing!  There were dozens and dozens of people in that store!  I’d have beaned him on the head with a can of green beans when he wasn’t looking!”
My father burst out laughing, then asked soberly, “What if he’d have shot you first?” and I replied, “Then Mama would have beaned him!”
Well, I don’t believe in being foolhardy.  But... I also believe in fighting for my life, and for the lives of my friends.
I discovered an automatic picture-labeling function occurring on my laptop some time after I got it a year ago, particularly with the new Microsoft Suite software.  It labels all the pictures I put in my letters.  Some of its attempts at identifications are hilarious.  It has no idea what a quilt is, for one thing.  Obviously, picture-labeling programmers do not quilt.  heh
It got last week’s photo of Tiger right, though:  “A large orange cat lying on a bed.” 
So you see the program has its sizes in good working order.
But pictures of the Carolina Lily blocks?  
The description:  “A picture containing queen, text, bedclothes, newspaper.”  Queen?
And of course, the disclaimer (or, in this case, the claimer):  “Description generated with very high confidence.”  Ha!
I think the programmer was kinda sorta full of himself whilst he was a-workin’ on that software, what do you think?
He doesn’t know anything about afghans, either.  For the pretty afghan Hannah made for Larry, the program churned out this:  “A picture containing indoor, cake, table, sitting.”  
(And of course, it was “Generated with high confidence.”)
Another of the lily blocks got described thusly:  “Bedclothes.”  Another one, identical except for fabric colors, was labeled, “A close up of a logo.”  (The programmer didn’t know when ‘close-up’ should be hyphenated, either.  Bugs me when computer programs have misspelt words and bad grammar.)
A couple of my Folded Star potholders were labeled, “A stack of flyers on a table.”  
Another was “A sandwich cut in half,”, while yet another was “A colorful kite.”  Haha 
Programmers should be required to take a short course in crafts!
And now I shall get back to the Baskets of Lilies quilt.  A customer’s quilt is on the way... another will be wanting to meet with me shortly (the customer, not the quilt; the quilt doesn’t know what it wants)... and two regular customers are saving up several quilts that they plan to send me immediately after the New Year. 

I turned down a lady in town who wanted me to make kitchen curtains for her.  I need to make things for my own family!  I need to scan pictures.  I need to try to get a book of patterns published.  I need more time!  And energy.  More energy couldn’t hurt.

,,,>^..^<,,,         Sarah Lynn         ,,,>^..^<,,,

Monday, November 6, 2017

Journal: New Chairs, and Company from Tennessee

Last Monday, I used the gift certificate to www.SewThankful.com that Lydia gave me for my birthday to order three large cones of longarm thread.  I picked a good day to do it; they had a coupon for 10% off, that day only. 
I hunted around the site to see if there might be something else I’d rather splurge on.  Books... notions... patterns... rulers... stabilizers... and came to the conclusion, Nope, thread is what I like (and need) to splurge on.
Those three cones of thread wound up using up the gift certificate almost to the penny.  I got Superior’s So Fine #50 in ... um... Winter White?  Lace White?  Something white.
This is my favorite thread for using on top, in my quilting machine.  I recently got two shoeboxes crammed full of Superior’s Bottom Line #60 (the higher the number, the finer the thread) in quite a few different colors; that’s what I use in the bobbin (and sometimes on top, too; though I prefer heavier thread on top). 
White is one of the threads I use often, and I’ll need a lot to quilt this quilt (sounds funny – ‘quilt a quilt’) that I’m making for Todd and Dorcas. 
I finally remembered to send Lydia some money, via PayPal, for taking care of the cats a few times when we went to Colorado.  I wrote, “Okay, there you are, I’ve **finally** sent you the money I owed you for Keepin’ Kare O’ Kats.
Lydia, as expected, wrote back, “You didn’t owe me anything!  I only did it once!”
“Well, thet thar iz why ya din’t GIT mutch!” I retorted.  “Besides, I gotta keep all the potential catsitters in a good humor, in case I might need them to do it again someday.  😉
Lydia responded, “I had fun.. except for the spider greeter you hired at the front door 🕷
“And you LEFT him there,” I exclaimed, “to greet ME!!  Daddy was behind me with his hands full, yelping for me to open the door – so I smushed the spido (as Dorcas used to call them) and stuck it to the front of Daddy’s shirt.”
Uncle Clyde had surgery on his brain tumor last Monday.  The tumor is cancerous, and it’s an aggressive type of cancer.  It had grown a lot just since the previous week when they discovered it.  They removed as much as they could; they couldn’t get it all, because it would have affected his speech if they had’ve gone any farther.
The prognosis isn’t good, and the tumor will doubtless soon affect his ability to walk and talk and ... everything.
Sad news.
Tuesday afternoon, I looked out the window to discover snow coming down fast, in big, fat flakes.  I grabbed my camera and stepped outside to get some photos of our first snow.  More here.
Shortly thereafter, I discovered a news story from New York City telling about the Muslim man who drove a pickup truck onto a crowded pathway, running down pedestrians and cyclists, killing eight and injuring many more.
I looked at the location on a map of the City, then wrote to a friend who lives near there, asking if she was okay.  She soon wrote back, “Hi, Sarah Lynn; I’m fine.  The attack took place about two miles directly south of me.  It was definitely a terrorist attack.  The closer it is to home, the more it shakes you up.  It sounds ridiculous to say ‘only’ eight people were killed, but compared to the Las Vegas attack, and most horrible, 9/11, it could certainly have been worse.  9/11 was truly a nightmare which took a long time to recover from.  There were fliers up and down 14th Street, which was the northern boundary of the police area, asking if anyone had seen this or that person, with photos.  You knew they were all probably dead and it was terrible.”
Another friend wrote to one of the online quilting groups, as usual addressing it to her ‘guilty friends’.  She always writes that, without fail.  😆
It’s a typo, of course.
I think.
Victoria came visiting with baby Carolyn that night.  Kurt was gone with a Walkers’ crew on a job for a couple of days.
Little Carrie was dressed in a cute fleece penguin outfit – but her little feet, poking out underneath the funny penguin feet, were clad in the leopard print of her pajamas.  We laughed over those adorable tiny feet, oohed and ahhed over the baby – and she slept through all the excitement with hardly a wiggle. 
That day, I got the stems for the Baskets of Lilies quilt all appliquéd onto the background fabric. 
Wednesday, I worked on the half-stars that make up the pieced ‘blossoms’.  After getting three half-stars together, I put together an entire block – the better to avoid one of those assembly-line repetition errors I spoke of last week.  The blocks are bigger – and prettier – than I expected them to be!
You’ll recall that I was planning to reupholster our kitchen chairs?  Well, I turned one of those chairs upside down to see about taking the seat off, and saw that spindles and rungs were loose, and needing to be reglued.  I checked the others, and discovered nearly all of them needed attention.  That’s not all; the veneer is nearly rubbed off in some places, and the arms on one of the end chairs are loose.  So I pulled up Craigslist, Nebraska Furniture Mart, and Wal-Mart’s Furniture Department.  The best deal – at least, for the solid cherrywood chairs I wanted – was at Wal-Mart.  They were on sale at a good price ($35/chair – used to be $75/chair), so I ordered six of them. 
I placed the order Monday night, and was told they’d be delivered by Friday.  But by Tuesday afternoon, when I checked the UPS tracking site, I saw that they’d changed the scheduled delivery date to ‘Monday by end of day’!  Aarrgghh.  That was the day Todd and Dorcas, with their little boy Trevor, were coming to visit!  That was the day I needed those chairs! 
I supposed I could get the old ratty chairs out of here, scrub the floor thoroughly, and then tell them we would all sit on the floor until the new chairs arrived.  ha!  I used to wonder how that worked, for some of the Eastern cultures to sit on the floor when they ate.  How in the world did they reach the table, I wondered?! 
Siggghhhh... Maybe the chairs would come early, as sometimes happens.
After church that evening, I worked a little longer on the Carolina Lily blocks, finishing three of them, and putting together all the rest of the half-stars.  There were 22 blocks to go... and then there are 36 appliqué blocks.
The ladybugs are back, in droves.  Well, Asian beetles (or ‘lady beetles’), actually.  They’re quite adept at getting into the house, even when no windows or doors are open.  They stink if you accidentally squish one, and what’s more is, they bite.  The common ladybug has better manners.
Did you know that the Asian beetle hibernates?  He sneaks into your house, finds a place to stall out over the winter (usually with clumps of fellow Asian beetles), and comes to life again in the spring.  That’s one more thing the common ladybug doesn’t do.
But what I hate the worst are those horrid little black pirate bugs that bite so awfully.  They are attracted to white.  So why is it that, every time they are converging on the place, I head out to hang the laundry – all whites, of course, and dressed in white, too?!  In their little buggy minds, they think, Great big flower!!!  Great big flower!!!  And they swarm me by the hundreds.  Yikes.
Pirate bugs are teeny tiny, itty-bitty, the size of a pinhead. à
We get stinkbugs, too.  å  

And then there are the squash bugs â – and they stink even worse than the stinkbugs do.  They look like an elongated version of the stinkbug.  Their aroma is elongated, too.  😝
Last week I mentioned that I purchased the EQ8 update.  I got the license number and the password in the mail – but I can’t get the silly thing to download. 
Verizon announced that we had used up our fast hotspot just six days into the month, and slowed our speed way down.  It happened the month before, a week before the period was over.  I can’t imagine what caused it this time, because I hadn’t used much data at all, I didn’t think.  Some sort of a glitch somewhere...  ??

The program is 594 MB.  I have often downloaded programs of that size with no problem.  But it only gets up to 20... 30... 40... – and once it got all the way up to 165 – then informs me that the connection has failed.  I’m sure it’s internet speed causing the trouble.  I wanted to go someplace where there’s faster internet and download it, but I didn’t feel like going anywhere with three broken toes.  And by the time they were well enough to (painfully) go somewhere, I needed to get ready for Todd and Dorcas’s visit.  Now it’s only five more days until the new billing month starts, and they speed our internet back up.  But I want to play with my new toy NOW!
Friday afternoon, I made an appointment to take our little Tabby cat to the vet to bid him adieu.  The poor little guy was over 20 years old, and getting weak and frail, and I didn’t want him to just waste away right before my eyes.  He’d ask for his soft food many times a day, but couldn’t eat much at a time, though I coaxed and coaxed.  He was mostly blind in one eye.  Finally, when he was getting unsteady on his feet, I decided we couldn’t let him suffer any longer.
The sweet little kitty purred all the way to town, and kept right on purring when the lady at the vet’s office took him from me.  I get so attached to our pets!  😪
When I got home, I checked the UPS tracking site and saw that the new chairs had gotten to the UPS depot in Omaha at 1:53 p.m.  I could’ve gone and gotten them and been back by suppertime!  Siggghhhh...
The UPS truck usually comes before noon.  If the chairs had to be put together, I’d be in a fine fix.  I’m not a good together-putter.  And should I just pitch the old chairs out the front door?
That evening, Norma, Hannah, and three of the children – Joanna, Nathanael, and Levi – came visiting, bringing gifts for Larry for his birthday.  He’s 57 now, same as me.  Hannah made him a lovely crocheted chenille throw, thick and soft.  The yarn was so thick, she used only her fingers (as opposed to a hook) to crochet it.  She made a pillow to match it, too – and wound up with one short 2” curl of chenille yarn left over, and no more.
“I didn’t lose my hook once!” she said.  hee hee  She’s always had such elusive hooks.
It’s so beautiful.  Larry is quite sentimental over the things his children and grandchildren make for him. 
That day I finished seven blocks for the Baskets of Lilies quilt.
Saturday, I spent a while cleaning the house.  I do a lick and a promise until I know company is coming, then I try a little more spit and polish.  heh  When things were pretty well shipshape, I got back to the sewing room.
This was in the funnies that day, so I promptly sent it to Bobby, who writes the music for our band:

A few people have been asking me about batting, and what I prefer.  My answer is as follows:
It depends on how you want the quilt to feel... to look... and how much money you want to spend.  One of my favorite battings is wool.  It’s warm in the winter, breathes in the summer... and has such a nice drape.  Also, it has a good loft, so quilting is well-defined.  But of course it costs a little more.  I’ve used Quilters’ Dream Wool, Heirloom, and Hobbes.  These battings are good quality, and won’t be the slightest bit itchy inside a quilt.  (People who say they are ‘allergic’ to wool are more likely allergic to cheap processing and cheap wool.  They just need to switch to that $3,000/yard vicuña wool!  Ain’t nobuddy ’llergic to that.)
Cotton batting, including the 80%/20% cotton/poly blends, will make your quilt heavier, and some people like that.  I like Quilters’ Dream Cotton. 
Some people think using polyester batting in a quilt will get you sent straight to Purgatory.  (Not that there is such a thing.)  But I’ve used all sorts of poly – nice, real nice, cheap, and El Cheapo.  I’ve used high-loft poly on quilts where I wanted appliqué work to look like I did trapunto (each appliqué stuffed separately) on it.
Did you know there is even cornhusk batting, here in Nebraska??!  I saw it at a cute little quilt store in Wakefield.  I don’t know if the piece they had out for demonstration purposes had been touched too often, or if it really was as insubstantial as that little piece I looked at – but I’m pretty sure it would have disintegrated if anyone had’ve sneezed on it.  Maybe even if someone breathed too hard on it.
Some professional quilters use a layer of low-loft cotton batting next to the backing, then put a layer of higher-loft wool on top of that, under the quilt top.  The cotton gives everything good structure, and the wool gives great definition to the quilting.  Also, this pretty well ensures that the ‘lock’ between bobbin thread and top thread will be in the batting, rather than on the top or bottom of the quilt (i.e., ‘eyelashes’ or ‘pokies’).
Double-layering is a chore, and I charge more to do it.  It takes some work and time to get it all spread together perfectly.  Imagine making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with two kinds of jellies, and trying to spread the second layer of jelly over the first without messing up the first.  😲
One more thing to consider:  wool batting has no ‘memory’ – that is, you can fold it up, and those folds won’t be permanent.  Polyester and cotton are more likely to want to stay folded where they were once folded.  And you’d better not try to iron that poly batt! 
If you ever want to go really, really luxurious, use silk batting. 
As for wool... I like both Quilters’ Dream and Hobbs ... but I like Quilters’ Dream the best, as it’s the softest and drapes the nicest.  When I want a quilt to be really special... all snuggly and wrappable... I get Quilters’ Dream Wool.  Most of the time, though, I just don’t have the money to spend that much on batting. 
For my mother-in-law’s Buoyant Blossoms quilt, I used high-loft poly batting from Hobby Lobby.  Made all my fancy quilting really show up nicely.
That afternoon, Loren came to hang up a couple of weedeaters and the chargers that go with them in our garage.  They’re nearly brand new; he got them for Janice the year before she died, because she couldn’t manage the larger gas-powered weedeaters they had.  But she wasn’t well enough to use these much, either.  He decided to give them to me.
Weed-eating is over for the year, but... I guess I’d better get some weed-eating done next year, hmmm?  Teddy and Amy gave me some long-cuffed gardening gloves for my birthday... Maybe everyone noticed that I didn’t spend much time on my flower gardens this year, and thought I needed some encouragement! 
The little juncos are back!  They’re hopping around in the lilac bushes... under the Autumn Joy sedum... and on the ground under the bird feeders.  Such cute little birds, glossy gray backs and snowy white breasts, like they’re dressed in little tuxedos.  Victoria once called them ‘miniature penguins’. 
That evening, Victoria called to tell Larry she had a pumpkin chiffon pie for him, so he headed to town to get it and to wash the Jeep.  He was nice enough to share his pie with me, and it was mmm, good. 
Baby Carolyn has a cold and was having troubles breathing, as her little nose is all stuffy.  Poor little sweetie!
We set our clocks back that night.  The old Indians used to say, concerning Daylight Saving Time, “Only white man think cutting a foot off top of blanket and sewing it to bottom of blanket make longer blanket.”
By bedtime, I had four more lily blocks done.  That makes 16, so I have 9 more to go – and then I’ll do the appliqué blocks.  I now have 91 hours in the quilt.  Each block has 36 pieces.  It took me 3 ½ hours to put four together (the diamond half-stars were already together).  Sooo... it should take me 7.875 hours to get the rest of those blocks together.
Sunday morning when we were about ready to head out the door, I took a look at WeatherBug – and discovered that it was only 36°, with a wind chill of 27°.  I decided I’d better go rummage up my coat.  Brrrr!
Not long after we got home, shortly after noon, I got a news bulletin telling about the mass shooting at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas.  26 people were killed, 20 more injured.  10 are still in critical condition at nearby hospitals.  Horrible.
The church was small, and only had about 50 members.  More than half were killed.
Since these things started happening more often a few years ago, we have upped security at our church.  We’ve added more cameras, better locks, and a computer screen bank that pictures all sides of the building, inside and out.  There is a guard during each service, and he locks down all the doors as soon as the service begins, and keeps track of the screens. 
We’ve had oddballs come strolling in now and then, usually looking for a handout. 
Snow on the Autumn Joy sedum
We keep the doors locked when school is in session, too.  Of course they can always be opened from the inside.
There’s a lot of evil in this old world of ours.
After church last night, Lura Kay asked us to stop by – and she and John H. gave me a set of soft, soft bath towels, hand towels, and washcloths in a rich burgundy color, which happens to perfectly match the bathroom rugs.  She gave me a set of bath lotion, gel, and salts, too.  To Larry, they gave spices and marinade for grilling, and a new shirt.
Next, we stopped at the grocery store for fresh vegetables for our supper tonight with Todd and Dorcas.
On the way home, we went to Jeremy and Lydia’s house – she’d made Larry a pan of scrumptious cinnamon-apple rolls.
Home again, I wrote my sister a thank-you note:  “You got too, too carried away!  Again.  We give John H. (he had a birthday last week) a piece of chewing gum... and you give us a Sotheby’s crystal chandelier.”
She immediately wrote back to tell me that I had neglected to put the chewing gum into the gift bag with the other things we gave him.  hee hee
Then... I heard a scrabbling in the cupboard under the sink... opened it quickly, thinking I’d caught (another) mouse...
It was a mouse, all right.  But he was not caught.  He was cleaning the peanut butter off the numerous mousetraps I’d set under there – and most all the mousetraps were already sprung, because just before we left for church in the morning, a mouse got his tail caught in one, after which he sprang around madly all over the floorboard of the cupboard, springing traps right and left, but somehow managing to avoid getting caught in any of them.
Larry grabbed the varmint and tossed him outside, but we didn’t have time to reset the traps.  And I forgot to do it that afternoon.
So anyway, I opened the cupboard door, and there sat a cute widdo mousy, holding a small piece of peanut in his wee paws, nibbling away on it.
He stopped in mid nibble, stared at me, whiskers a-tremble, and then scampered toward the back of the cupboard, stopping behind a bottle to peer curiously back at me.
I got out the peanut butter jar, put new peanut butter on the traps, and reset them.  Tiger ker-plopped down beside me and watched the proceedings intently.
I closed the cupboard door, washed my hands, started to reseat myself at the table --------
This time, curiosity killed the mouse.
Tiger waddled with me to inspect the cupboard, and then actually trotted to keep up with me as I went to the door and threw the mouse out.  Tiger rushed out, too.
He does not need dessert, as you can clearly see.
But he had it.
Monday morning, I discovered three large, flat boxes on the front porch.
What this meant was that two chairs were in each box.
And they were NOT put together.
Todd and Dorcas would arrive at suppertime to find supper ingredients still in the freezer, no chairs at the table, and me sitting in the middle of the floor with various chair pieces strewn about me, a question mark hovering over my head.
“LOL, Sarah,” wrote a friend, “order pizza!”
Pizza!  ha.  We were going to have roast beef with baked potatoes, onions, carrots, and celery; country gravy; 12-grain mini loaves, fresh-baked; chef salad with the numerous fresh vegetables we bought at the store last night (iceberg lettuce, shredded carrots, purple cabbage, mini seedless cucumbers, broccoli, cauliflower, cherry tomatoes, celery, sweet green, red, and yellow peppers – and shredded cheeses on top); fruit salad (peaches, mangos, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, and pineapple); and apple pie with vanilla frozen yogurt and/or maple nut ice cream.
I like pizza, but it gives me a stomachache these days.  I think it does Dorcas, too.  Plus, we live too far out in the country for delivery service.  Plus, when one only sees one’s company once in a great while, one wants to share a meal with them!  Not a glorified snack.
“Have a chair-assembly party before dinner,” suggested another friend.  “Each person has to assemble his own chair.  LOL”
And that’s just about what happened.
I tried dragging a big box into the house, but couldn’t budge it.  Hmmm.  Now what?
I decided to finish curling my hair and eat breakfast.  My joints and muscles are stiff in the mornings, but improve after I’ve been up a few hours.
With half a muffin down the hatch, I gathered up some determination, and stepped back out onto the porch.  I found a better spot to grip the box, and, with difficulty, managed to get it into the living room.  I got the box flaps open –
– and then couldn’t get any of the pieces of the first two chairs out of the box.  They were wedged in tight. 
I put a knee on the box, grasped one of the flaps with both hands, and managed to tear it down far enough that one piece of a chair was a little bit loose.  With renewed hope, I tugged on it.  It moved, just a little bit.  I tugged at it... I wiggled it... I jiggled it... I tugged... I pulled...  and at last, the recalcitrant thing came out of the box.  The rest of the pieces were somewhat troublesome, too, but eventually, with a lot of jiggling and shaking and upending of the box, they slid slowly out.
I read the instructions, and launched into The Great Chair Construction Endeavor.
The first one took me a while.  I’ve never done this before!
I have now done larnt that those round split washers are called lock washers.  They bend into place against a nut, and prevent vibration from loosening a bolted joint.  How ’bout dat.
Before too awfully long, Chair #1 was successfully together, and I was ready for Chair #2.
I kept a watch on the clock, and when the second chair was done and two of the older chairs carried to the back hallway, I stopped with the Chair Construction and got on with sticking the apple pie into the oven, putting roast, potatoes, carrots, celery, and onions into the roaster and sliding it into the oven, and then cutting up vegetables for the salad.
That done, I put the bowl of salad back into the refrigerator, and went for the next box on the porch.  By now, after all the screwing together of the first two chairs and the cutting of all those vegetables, my hands were protesting.  I almost had the box pulled into the house when I dropped it.
You should have seen me.  You’d have never, ever guessed I have arthritis at all, the way I nimbly sprang backwards, saving the poor broken toes from getting smushed by that big box.
Well, I got a grip on the box again, drug it the rest of the way into the living room, pried it open, and got the chair pieces out without too much trouble, as they weren’t crammed in quite so tightly as they had been in the last box.
I finished Chair #3... got to work on Chair #4... and got a note from Dorcas.  They’d just left Norma’s house, and were on their way here. 
I was finishing Chair #4 when they stepped up onto the front porch.
Norma had given Trevor a cookie – and Trevor was telling me about it whilst he was a-comin’ in the door. 
Dorcas told him, “This is Grandma Jackson!” and he grinned at me and asked, “Cookie?” because now he knows that Grandmas give little boys cookies.  hee hee
Todd immediately offered to bring the 3rd box from the front porch.  I happily took him up on his offer – and then he offered to put a chair together, and I accepted that offer, too.  We got done about the same time with Chairs #5 and #6.
It wasn’t long before Larry got home from work.  I’d invited Loren, Caleb, and Maria for supper.  Supper was done about the time everyone arrived.  So we sat down and ate, and had a very lovely time indeed.
Fortunately, I hadn’t hauled all the old chairs out; we needed one of them.  I think I’ll making matching chair cushions and covers for all the chairs, new and old, repair and polish up the old ones as I’d originally intended to do, and then we can mix and match as needed.
Little Trevor acted like he’d always known Larry and me.  When Loren arrived, he went dashing to greet him, which quite thrilled Loren.  Trevor had actually spotted the egg carton in Loren’s hand – he gives them to us to give our neighbor man – and Trevor likes to sort buttons and suchlike into egg cartons... but we won’t tell Loren that, okay?  😉 )  Loren scooped him up and gave him a hug.
As most kids do, Trevor loved his Uncle Caleb.  Caleb doesn’t even do anything, and all the little kids love him to pieces!  Well, he talks to them, just like they’re a big kid – and little kiddos love that.
Trevor liked the cats, too, and was quite gentle with them.  “Meow, meow, meow!” he said, and then grinned from ear to ear when Teensy answered him.
Todd and Dorcas had visited several members of the family that day.  Victoria had fed them lunch.  Later that night, they went to see Andrew and Hester.  Hannah dropped by Hester’s house to see them... and then they drove back to Omaha.  Todd’s son is stationed at Offut Air Force Base, and he and his wife have a new baby boy – Todd’s first grandson.  Little Trevor was an uncle, at 18 months.  He’s 21 months now.
Larry just helped me do the dishes, and now I’ve put Pain-A-Trate on my neck (putting heavy cherrywood chairs together isn’t in my job description), and am going to do a bit of computer and bill-paying work (at least until I fall asleep). 
I’m keeping my old kitchen chair in here.  It’s cushioned... it has armrests... and ah gots it broke in jus’ roight, ah do. 
Here’s some of the family in my little kitchen:  Dorcas, and behind her you can just see Larry with Trevor on his lap, Loren, Caleb, and Maria.  Note those shiny new cherrywood chairs.
A friend wrote to me, “I always enjoy your epistles.  They make me feel normal.”
I responded, “Hahaha!  You know, there are several ways I could take that statement!”
“True,” she answered, “but I meant it for good.”
My father, who was a minister for 48 years before he passed away in 1992, used to say, “What’s ‘normal’?”  Then... “‘Normal’ is whatever I am.  Anybody who’s different from me is abnormal.”  😆
Of course he was poking fun at people who really thought that.

Now to post this letter and get back to the Baskets of Lilies quilt.

,,,>^..^<,,,        Sarah Lynn        ,,,>^..^<,,,