February Photos

Monday, May 22, 2017

Journal: Embroidery, Birds, Birthdays, and a Turtle

Last Tuesday, I was discussing table tennis – we call it ‘ping pong’ here – with a friend and fellow quilter who used to be quite the star player, even playing in Paris and such places.  I’m no good at it anymore, but I used to love playing.  Larry could always outdo me, though there may have been a rare time or two when I won a game.  He’s still pretty good at it.  He’s quick, and good at spins.
We used to set up a table in our garage at Christmas time.  Caleb had a couple of tables set up in his garage a few months ago, and a number of people were playing.  It was so funny... a bunch of little kids were also playing with big bouncy balls all around the tables, and now and then a bouncy ball would find its way onto the table, whereupon one of the boys would swat it and yell, “SCORE!!!” which made everyone laugh, including the small fry.  Sometimes points were lost because someone had to avoid treading upon a toddler rather than connecting with the ball; but no matter – everything was just for fun.
Larry’s sister and I once played against a couple of girls in high school – one of whom was supposed to be our friend.  She was no good at most sports – and no good at being a friend, really.  Well, she was being a little extra nasty that day, and when we started the game, I discovered that she thought the way you played properly was to bounce the ball gently and high.  Eh.  What would you do with a high-lobbed ping-pong ball, against a girl who was being nasty?
Yeah.  I done did it. 
On the third good smash, she lost her cool --- and threw her paddle at me!  I ducked, and it went zinging through my hair.
So I picked up the ball, laid it gently on the table, laid my paddle atop it, and said, “Forfeit the game, or I tell the teacher.”
That girl would have been in serious trouble, had I told on her, and she knew it.  The teacher was quite strict about such things.  Her partner was hissing, “Forfeit!  Forfeit!” 
So with some degree of reluctance, and quite a lot of temper, she forfeited.  I dislike poor losers.  Never wanted to be one; never wanted to play with one.
I asked my friend if she was glad she’d done her multi-country traveling back when it was safer, and she agreed, she was glad.  Just this afternoon, there was breaking news of a terrorist attack in Manchester, England.  At least 22 people have been killed, 59 injured.
The only other countries I have been to are Canada, and a wee bit of Mexico, just south of the border.  But I traveled the contingent United States a lot with my parents, and have been to almost every state, except for maybe a few of the smaller ones on the eastern seaboard.
Travel is very much a learning experience.  My parents were a learning experience, ha! – that is to say, they were constantly teaching, without any real effort; it just came natural.  And I loved to learn. 
Larry and I would like to go to Alaska someday.  My parents and I were once headed for Alaska, traveling along the spine of the Rockies through some of the major national parks in Canada – and then my mother got sick.  It was probably altitude sickness, because she just couldn’t get over it.  Daddy and I were so worried about her. 
We were almost to Grande Prairie when Daddy decided we mustn’t go any farther.  He turned east and headed straight for Edmonton, in case we needed to get Mama to the hospital.  But as soon as we got down to lower altitudes, Mama got better.
In Edmonton, we parked our car and trailer in a school parking lot one night – and wound up making friends with a Baptist preacher and his family who lived just across the street.  The man invited Daddy to preach at his church the next night, and Daddy did so.  There were two girls a little older than me, and a younger boy in the family; nice children.  We kept in touch for several years.
I will never forget when we stopped along the road late one night near Grande Prairie (before turning east the next day and aborting the Alaska trip), climbed out of our car, and watched in awe and amazement the Aurora Borealis as they unfolded from the sky like giant curtains, billowing and swirling downward, crackling and roaring and popping and crashing like a thunder-and-lightning storm.  I have never before or after seen such colors – brilliant crimsons, golds, flashing blues and teals and bright greens, pinks and yellows, purples from dark to light lavender.  We didn’t breathe a word for half an hour, just stood mute and gazed upon that wonderful sight.  Not another car passed us, the whole time.
Then, as those Northern Lights faded to a lovely, flickering, many-hued glow that would last most of the night, we climbed back into our car and proceeded on, feeling quite a lot like the Israelites of old:  stiff-necked.  ha
Later, I would relate this story to people who informed me in no uncertain terms that there is absolutely no noise at all to the Auroras, whether Borealis or Australis.  I didn’t believe it, and looked it up in books, and read that people who think they are hearing noises whilst watching the Auroras are imagining it; it’s all in their heads, caused by the amazing sight they are seeing.
Well, hmmph.  I don’t get so agog over something that I don’t know what I’ve heard!  Furthermore, all three of us heard it.  So I didn’t believe the naysayers, and they didn’t believe me, and we went on like that for years.  It was just like Paul wrote to the Corinthians:  “Therefore if I know not the meaning of the voice, I shall be unto him that speaketh a barbarian, and he that speaketh shall be a barbarian unto me.” 
And what do the Barbarians know?!  (Them, not me.)
Hmmmmm...  I just decided to look this up online.  I did an online search a long time ago, probably 18 years ago, but found nothing.  There was a lot less information on the Web back then.  And... guess what?!!
(Did you guess?)
The Auroras do make noise!  They do, they do!  Now, I have realized that there is a possibility that part of what we were hearing may have been the echoing through the mountain peaks and valleys of a thunder-and-lightning storm on the other side of the range we were traveling alongside; but the majority of the snapping and crackling was indeed the Northern Lights.  Sometimes they can only be heard with special instruments; but plenty of people have heard them with no amplification at all.  Funny, my mother and I could hear the noises much easier than my father could.  Here are a couple of videos, with electronic amplification:
Daddy was a year and a half older than Mama.  At that time, he would’ve been... ?  55?  56?  I don’t remember what year it was then.  (He was 45 ½ when I was born; Mama was almost 44.)  But he had troubles hearing some sounds, and he thought probably it was because of the deafening noises from the ship he was on in the Navy, when they bombarded islands over by the Philippines.  He recalled that they sailed up to islands that were jewel green with jungle foliage – and by morning, there was nothing but brown earth.  But they managed to take the islands from the Japanese and give them back to the Filipinos!  He liked those people – and they liked him.
A third of their convoy went down one night.  He spoke of seeing the ships burst into flames... blow up in huge fireballs... and just roll over and go down in a matter of seconds.  The ships that weren’t hit were for the most part unable to help any possible survivors, because they were being attacked themselves.  But there were most likely no survivors anyway. 
He told of a tracer hitting the potato locker up on deck, blowing it up – and potato pieces flying everywhere.  The sailors were all firing back with the big canons and machine guns... ducking shrapnel... yet he remembers someone yelling, “Where’s the gravy?!” and someone else shouting, “Now let’s point out the beans for their next target!”
But even though they tired of some of the food, they knew they might be in dire straits if they didn’t have their food supplies.
Daddy was quite the story-teller.  I wish our younger children could have known him.
Last Monday was the last decent day for hanging clothes outside; it’s been raining a good deal of the time ever since.  The field at the bottom of the hill is a lake.
Why is it that I can go all day with nary a phone call, but as soon as I go out on the back deck to hang up clothes, the phone rings, and I don’t hear it?  I run a sink full of water to wash dishes, and someone texts me – but I don’t hear the notification through the running water.  What this proves is ------ housework interferes with my social life!
Tuesday evening, baseball-sized hail hit various locations 50-80 miles to our east, and there was flooding to the east and the south. 
Wednesday morning, it was still pouring rain.  But right here on 249th Street, the worst problem was that the cats couldn’t find a door to exit where the weather was good.  They kept coming to tell me about it. 
Tabby:  “Meee!  Meee!” 
Teensy:  “Mrr-rrr-rrr-oooww--owww?”  
Tiger, in his raspy bass:  “MMRRRRROOOW.”  
I commiserated with them, and scratched under chins and behind ears.  They purred and strolled off.  Five minutes later, they trotted back to tell me, “But it’s still raining out there!!!”
Before going to my sewing room, I hunted down a few online books for my blind friend, Penny.  She particularly wanted books by a French preacher from the early 1800s.  In less than a minute, I found the preacher – Adolphe-Louis-Frédéric-Théodore Monod – and then I was fortunate enough to find all his books and articles in one place, making things easy.  Reckon Penny’s synthesizer could’ve read them to her properly, had I sent them in French?  Like this:
Un collègue a dit de lui: « Comme défenseur de la vérité qui est en Christ, il avait un cœur de lion; comme chrétien, il avait le cœur et la simplicité d’un petit enfant, un cœur d’agneau – si j’ose ainsi dire –, doux, bon, inoffensif et toujours débonnaire. Il unissait, dans son caractère chrétien, des qualités rarement associées: la mâle énergie de saint Paul et la douceur évangélique de saint Jean. »
Okay... if you must know what that said...
A colleague said of him: « As a defender of the truth which is in Christ, he had a lion’s heart; As a Christian, he had the heart and simplicity of a little child, a heart of a lamb, if I may so speak, gentle, good, harmless, and always meek. He united in his Christian character qualities rarely associated: the male energy of St. Paul and the evangelical sweetness of St. John. » 
Sometimes very old books are a bit hard to plow through, as the prose is so different from today’s writing style.  But I have found that if I first read an author’s biography, that increases my interest – and by the time I’ve made my way through the first chapter, my brain has gotten into the swing of things, and the reading goes easier thereafter.
I copied and pasted 27 articles.  I noticed when I was a quarter of the way done that I was sending Penny notes by the preacher’s brother and father, Theodore and Horace Monad, too, and decided to just go ahead and give her the whole works, since I already had them pulled up.
Come to think of it, maybe Theodore and Adolphe were one and the same man.
Penny will put these books into her Braille Lite reader and her computer files, and she’ll be able to either read them in Braille or listen to them with audio, as she prefers.  My blind friends are so accustomed to their reading synthesizers, that they turn the speed up almost as fast as it will go.  I absolutely cannot tell what on earth the narrator is saying; it sounds like garbled noise to me.  But... if I slow it down a little and listen for a bit until I can tell what is being said, I can then start increasing the speed, until I can understand it almost as fast as my friends can.  But not quite, not quite. 
“My ears aren’t as fast as yours!” I tell them. 
I headed down to the sewing room to work on my great-nephew’s wedding gift – coffeepot cozy #2. 
That evening, we had our graduation service.  First there was a short song service, and then the children – 84 of them, from 3rd grade through 12th grade – sang a number of songs.  I particularly liked one called Morning Soon Will Come.  My nephew Robert read some verses from Proverbs, and after that the graduates received their diplomas and awards, and there was a slide show.  It was an enjoyable evening.  The service is online, if you’d like to hear it: 
It was my nephew Kelvin and wife Rachel’s 30th wedding anniversary that day.  Kelvin is the one who is being treated for colon cancer.  He was well enough to come to church that night.
And... it was my sister Lura Kay’s birthday.  She’s 77 now – 20 ½ years older than me.  After church, we took her the coffeepot and cozy.  It’s fun to give things to appreciative people, you know that? 
Speaking of being appreciative ... or not...  Once upon a time my late sister-in-law brought us a big tureen of 15-bean soup for supper.  I ladled out dishes for the children, and passed out the spoons.  So there was little Hester, about 3 or 4 years old, pawing through hers distastefully, like one of the cats with something disagreeable in his bowl.
Then, in a plaintive little voice, she said, said she, “Mine has more than 15 in it.”
I spent most of the day Thursday adding silk ribbon embroidery and beads to the coffeepot cozy #2.  More photos are here.
A friend wrote, “This one is going to be a simpler design??  Didn’t I read that you said that?  Doesn’t look like it.”
I responded, “Well, there’s no ruching (gathering or pleating)!  😃  I put the crazy-quilting pieces onto the shaped foundation pieces before sewing the foundation together, so it was flat rather than shaped.  Much easier.”
But it was because of the odd shape that I added the ruching, out of necessity; and it did look pretty.
That afternoon, I got a photo of a Baltimore oriole on the suet feeder.  Most male Baltimores are bright orange, but we’ve had one or two come each year that are bright yellow, with their contrasting black heads and striped wings.
Then along came the house finch family, and the babies were hungry, hungry! Papa Finch had his wings full, because he had five of them. Mama Finch is probably already sitting on another clutch of eggs in the nest. This is the second brood of the year.
I did get a few rare pictures of Mama Finch feeding one of the fledglings; she’d probably come to the feeder for a little snack before heading quickly back to her nest.  The father usually cares for the chicks after they leave the nest.  He takes food to the mother as she sits on the nest, too.  He’s a busy and industrious little guy!
More bird and orchid pictures here.
Every time I do a project that includes ribbon embroidery and/or beads, I think, I need to do more of this!  This is fun!  But then I think the same thing about most of the sewing/ crafts/quilting I do... which explains why my To-Do List is so impossibly long.
Several of our daughters, daughters-in-law, nieces, and friends spent a good part of the week preparing for the Farmers’ Market, which is held on Saturdays in Frankfurt Square, in the middle of the downtown area.  They cooked and baked and made watercolor and quilled and Cricut cards – and then got rained out.  Some of them took their goods instead to the vendor show at Ag Park.
Victoria took some of her food to the relatives.  I bought some chocolate chip cookies, fresh French bread, apple pie, and wild-berry pie slices.  We put pulled pork on the French bread, cooked some vegetables to go with it, and, along with the pie, that was our Saturday night supper.  Yummy!  Fruit pies are my favorite dessert.
By that evening, I’d made good progress on coffeepot cozy #2.  There is still quite a bit to do before I put the batting and lining in, though.  Most of Saturday was spent doing cross-stitching on all the vertical seams – and wishing my cross-stitching looked as nice as it does in the pictures on Pinterest.  It doesn’t look like I got much done, but it took a few hours.  I didn’t take pictures of the cross-stitching.  You don’t want to be subjected to every last stitch I take, do you?  😃
More pictures here.

A friend asked me if I dream about my projects.  Yep, I dream about quilting... embroidering... sewing... car crashes... plane crashes...  being lost in a maze in Madagascar...  small UFOs swarming around my house... going to church in my pajamas (or worse)... and fish swimming in midair.  My dreaming mechanism is very imaginative – and in color, too!  haha  
I drew the next ribbon embroidery design onto the cozy with my vanishing-ink pen, then decided to go to bed a couple of hours earlier than usual so as not to be tired during the morning church service.
The results of that decision:
a)    I awoke two hours earlier than usual and never did go back to sleep, and
b)    The design I drew with the vanishing pen vanished into thin air, would you believe.
Sunday, two of our grandsons had birthdays:  Bobby and Hannah’s son Levi turned 7, and Teddy and Amy’s boy Lyle (named after Larry’s father, who died of cancer in 1988) turned 10.  I rummaged up some birthday cards, and put their gifts into bags.  For Lyle, two books about lion cubs, including one with pop-ups and sliding tabs that animate the pictures; and a Thermal lunch bag made to look like a racecar.  For Levi, a couple of books about Merle the Patio Squirrel, a little stuffed puppy, and a pillow with a teddy bear shape sewn into it.
On one of the online quilting groups, we’ve been telling how we came to start quilting.  My desire to quilt started when I was a teenager looking through the J. C. Penney’s catalog at all the pretty bedroom sets.  I saw a satin puff quilt that I figured I could make for a whole lot less than what was listed in the catalog.  Sooo... when I got my next paycheck (I worked in the Word Processing Center at Nebraska Public Power District), I went to our local fabric store, Fash’n Fab, and bought enough brown, ivory, and peach satin to make a king-sized quilt.  The colors were chosen because my sister-in-law had just given me a new curtain and sheers set, and the quilt had to match, of course. 
These were not my favorite colors by any means.  But... everything had to coordinate.  The carpet was a multi-green shag.  Again, not my favorite color ------- but someone I really liked talked me into it when I was, oh, about 11 or 12, informing me that if I chose one of my favorite colors (blue, purple or red), I’d get tired of it.  I was doubtful... but I loved the lady, thought possibly she was right ----- and, mainly, I didn’t want to hurt her feelings.
Well.  Don’t ever let anybody talk you into that kind of thing.  And don’t ever you try to talk someone else into such a thing.  Let them get whatever color of shag carpet they dearly so well want!  Except black, of course.  Thumbs down on black.  Or gray.  That’s uuuuugly.
Okay.  Back to the quilt.  I hadn’t gotten started on it yet when Larry and I set our wedding date.  I started shopping for things – and discovered prices of things I’d never priced before.  😲 My father told me to bring him all the receipts, so he could pay for everything.  But when I did hand him a couple of receipts for something, and saw his astonishment over the price, I thought, I’m going to pay for all the things I think my father would never think of, and just keep it a Big Secret.
My father was generous to a fault – but he was frugal with himself, and would have been horrified to know how much everything really cost.  I preferred not to take advantage of his generosity when I had the wherewithal to pay for things myself.  (Mama knew, of course – nothing ever got past her – and she slipped me money now and again, despite my protests.) 
Sooooooo...  the peach satin went for the dress for the maid of honor, the brown satin went for the dress for the other bridesmaid, the ivory satin went for bodices, trim, the flowergirl’s dress, and ringbearer’s pillow (and, a few years later, an Easter dress for Hannah, when she was two or three years old).  After that, my Friends and Relations (à la Rabbit, of Winnie-the-Pooh fame) all concluded that my favorite color was peach, and bought me all manner of gifts, accordingly.  Aaaaaaaaaauugghh.
But I still wanted to make a quilt! – and did so, when Keith and Hannah were little.  First, a quilt with a big appliquéd sailboat for Keith; and, next, a 3D Dahlia quilt (with gathered petals) for Hannah.  That was the one that, when I put away the templates in my quilting book, I spotted the line in the instructions, “For experienced quilters only.”  By then the quilt was done, and I was experienced.  heh  That was in the early 1980s.
I didn’t have much time for quilting while the children were growing up, as I made nearly all of their clothes, right down to pjs – and even coats, once or twice.  But sometimes I made ensembles for soon-to-arrive babies’ nurseries... or embroidered baby quilts... or quilted vests (remember those Gunne Sax patterns?)... 
And then finally the kids were grown, married, or nearly so, and I didn’t have as many clothes to make ----- and the quilting began in earnest.  A quilt is a whole lot more relaxing to make than a man’s suit or a teenage girl’s dress that she wants fitted exactly. 
I’ve been quilting quite a lot for the last ... hmmm... ?  12? years or so, I suppose.  And I’m not tired of it yet.  There’s no end to the list of quilts I want to make.  And the list keeps growing!
When we got home from church last night, I put chicken fillets in the oven, and when there were ten minutes to go before they were done, I popped in some ciabatta rolls.  Seven minutes later, I put a bowl of rice and peas into the microwave. 
We had some yummy cookies from Amy for dessert.
Schwan’s ciabatta rolls are big square rolls that are kind of hard on the outside, but I butter the tops when they’re just out of the oven to soften them.  We put butter and Blackberry Pecan jelly on them.  Andrew and Hester gave me the jelly for Mother’s Day.  Mmmmm... droooool...
“Ever notice,” I asked Hester, “when you bite into a soft roll with a hard bottom, your top teeth sink in, but your bottom teeth don’t, so the thing tips up and slaps you butter first right in the schnozz?”
She laughed, “Food can be dangerous.”
Hee hee ... That’s what Levi said when he was wee little, trying out the thesaurus in his busy little head as he ate something he liked:  “This is deLICious!  This is SCRUMPtious!  This is DANgerous!”
Andrew and Hester also gave me a crossbody bag, just the right size for my tablet, with plenty of pockets for other things.
I posted pictures of the things the children gave me:  Mother’s Day Gifts
Larry headed off on a bike ride after supper, discovered that 61° is too chilly to ride 15 mph into the wind (and he gets going well over 30 mph on the downhill slopes) without a jacket.  So he popped back in, grabbed his reflective jacket, and trotted back out again.  For a year and a half now, starting in earnest when he got his Cannondale road bike, he’s had safe riding.  But I’m always glad when I hear him coming back into the garage with his bike.  I’d really like to get him one of those sensor-thingamagidgits that alert the paramedics and relatives if one tips over.  You can cancel the alarm before it sends out the alert, if you decide you’re still all in one piece.
Larry likes taking pictures and videos with his phone and posting them on Instagram, particularly because some of his grandchildren love to see Grandpa’s pictures (especially when he sings, too).  But the phone isn’t so good at night, and doesn’t have a stabilizer, so it’s awfully bouncy.  Hmmm... I just looked to see if there’s a GoPro on Amazon that wouldn’t cost too awfully much.  I have now found lots of GoPros that cost too awfully much.
Tabby is trying to eat... and Teensy, who was out on the front porch, evidently heard the plink-plunk of the saucer as I set it down, is now scrrrreeeking his paws down the glass on the door, begging to get in.  I’ll let him in, in a minute, when Tabby gets done eating.  Otherwise, Tabby will get distracted and stop eating, and he needs all the sustenance he can get.
Minutes pass...
Tabby must’ve been starved!  Or the food is extra good.  I’d left it on the counter for the last 15 minutes or more, and it’s fresh from the can and room temperature, which he likes better than cold.  I don’t microwave it after it’s been in the refrigerator, because only once or twice of that, and he won’t touch it.  The microwaving must change it, somehow.
Teensy is going to give up on me, travel around to the back of the house, and come in the garage, if I don’t hurry and let him in. 
Tiger is on the couch with a paw wrapped around his face, the better to sleep through any possible commotion.
Loren called at about noon today and asked if I wanted to take pictures of a big turtle strolling along the ditch by his house.  I did.
He keeps his yard and house looking so pretty (my brother, not the turtle; in fact, the turtle’s house looks quite messy, what with all that algae growing on it).
Time out while I rub a little Capzasin on my neck.
I remember Mama saying one time, “I wonder if I’m losing my mind, because all I can think about is my back!”  Turned out, she had at least three cracked vertebrae.  Made us feel so bad.
Unlike me, Mama wasn’t one to complain unless the pain was nearly unbearable.  She came by the trait honestly.
Her father, my Grandpa Winings, was once working out in the field when he cut his thumb rather badly on something.  He didn’t want to take the time to go the doctor, as he was in the middle of planting or harvesting.  So he wrapped the thumb, went to the house, sterilized a needle and thread, took it out to the front porch so as not to get blood on anything in the house, seated himself, and set to work stitching that thumb back together.  He did the job neat as a pin, without a flinch. 
When later he showed his doctoring work to his real doctor, the doctor laughed, shook his head, and told Grandpa that he’d done a neater job than he himself could have done.
Mama, who rarely ranted or raved about things (again, unlike her youngest daughter), once said that you couldn’t trust a man who had so many teeth, speaking of President Carter, who always grinned from ear to ear, whether it was an appropriate time to grin from ear to ear or not.  It’s hard to forget statements like that from a quiet soul who makes them so rarely!
Here’s our front walk.  Those hostas on the left are only two years old, and already could use some culling and transplanting.  They’re prettier, I think, when they’re in separate mounds, rather than one long bushy row.  On the other hand, it’s quite impressive when they bloom, closer to autumn.  The little blue spruce trees have all sent up bright candles on the ends of every branch.

A customer’s quilt arrived a little while ago.  I took it out of the box and looked at it.  It’s so pretty, in batiks of coordinating blues and greens.  I’d better hurry with coffeepot cozy #2, so I can get to this quilt.  The lady said it’s okay if I finish the cozy first.  That wedding is coming quickly!

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

Photos: Snapping Turtle at Loren's House

My brother called me a little while ago to tell me there was a large turtle strolling along the road beside his house, and he wondered (my brother, not the turtle) if I'd like to come take pictures of it.  I would, and I did, and here they are.

The snapper looks like an old one, with a few scars to show for his wanderings and excursions.

Irises in Loren's front yard

He keeps his place looking so pretty

Honeybee on the peonies
(and of course I didn't have my macro lens)

Heading home, about to turn onto Rte. 22

Iris bud

Front walk

My Jeep Commander

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Photos: Mother's Day Gifts

Orchid corsage Hannah picked out for me to wear to church.

Card Hannah made

from Bobby & Hannah & family
Hannah crocheted the basket and the soft scrubbie

card Victoria made

Cookies from Kurt and Victoria
Our niece Abbi made them.

Bali Blue Surf aloe gel lotion from Kurt & Victoria

Card from Caleb & Maria

Rhododendron from Caleb & Maria

Cracker Barrel gift card from Keith

Card and pictures from Todd & Dorcas & Trevor

Cookies from Teddy & Amy & family

Framed picture from Teddy & Amy & family

Wax warmer from Jeremy & Lydia & family

Card and jar of scented wax melts Lydia made

Card Hester made

Blackberry Pecan jelly from Andrew & Hester, purchased in Colorado

Box decoration Hester made

Crossbody bag from Andrew & Hester, just the right size for my tablet