February Photos

Monday, February 12, 2018

Journal: Brrrrrrrr, It's Cold Out There!

It snowed last Tuesday, and by midafternoon, we had a couple of inches of new-fallen snow, and it was still coming down.  It was 7°F, with a wind chill of -3°F.
Along about 6:00 p.m., I texted Larry, “How do El Matador Burritos sound to you?”
Larry, being Larry, texted back, “I don’t know what they sound like, but you made my stomach growl. 😉
An hour later he wrote, “Can you taste them now?”
“No, I can only taste apple juice,” I answered, getting another sip as I wrote.
“Well, I can smell them,” he taunted me.
“If you get home emptyhanded, you’ll be heading straight back to town,” I threatened.
“At least my stomach won’t be empty,” he responded.
And then he walked in the door, bags and cartons of food in hand.  Not only had he gotten burritos, he had gotten apple/cream turnovers!  Mmmm... yummy.  El Matador burritos outdo any other burritos in town by far.  I gained a pound on that meal, and had to leave off all bread products the next day to lose it.
The yo-yo maker (for fabric flowers) I’d ordered was marked as ‘Out for Delivery’ that morning – but didn’t arrive, on account of the 2 ½” of snow we got.  Is the FedEx truck driver from Florida?  Everyone else was getting around crackerjack! – even the mail lady was unfazed.  Boo hoo, I wanted my yo-yo maker!
Oh, well.  The burritos and apple/cream turnovers were a pretty good consolation prize, I guess.
Larry worked on my quilting machine again that night.  It wasn’t perfect, but it was better, and I thought maybe it would do.  At least the hook was no longer hitting the needle.  Three customer quilts were coming, and two were large ones.  The other was a baby quilt that the lady wanted custom quilting on.  I need my machine to be working right!
I’ll be telling that woman at the store what we discovered when we took the needle plate off – the loose set screw, the hook ramming into the needle...  She probably thinks by now, since she hasn’t heard from me, that everything is fine, and whatever the problem was, it was my own stupid fault.  😠
Meanwhile, since I was stymied yo-yo-wise, I started putting together HSTs (half-square triangles).  There were 1,390 of them, so I would have 695 little squares when I finished.  These, I would make into 173 pinwheels, with three little squares left over.
No, I didn’t count the HSTs.  I counted the pinwheels when I was all done putting them together.  These little triangles are scraps cut off the ends of mitered strips from the Thimbleberries Village quilt I made for Teddy and Amy, so the triangles aren’t perfect.  Let’s hope I can get them together in some semblance of precision.
That was my second quilt on my HQ16.  I was a-havin’ lotsa fun!  😊
The yo-yo maker arrived Wednesday, so I read the instructions, cut some fabric, and made a couple of yo-yos.
They were too small; I didn’t like how they looked.  So I went back to the HSTs.  I would look for bigger yo-yo makers at Wal-Mart or Hobby Lobby.
And then it was time to get ready for church.  I felt like King David did, when he wrote, “I was glad when they said unto me, let us go into the house of the Lord.”  (Psalm 122:1)  It would be a welcome break.
After the service, we put a big box of pictures – more than 350 of them – into Loren’s Jeep.  These were the pictures we’d found on his late wife Janice’s digital Olympus camera.
At Wal-Mart, we chose a set of Walkie-Talkies for grandson Grant, who would be five years old the next day.  There were no yo-yo makers to be found.
Thursday, I washed clothes.  Larry likes clothes washed in the wintertime better than clothes washed in the summertime – because I put his jeans in the dryer, rather than hanging them outside.  When I hang jeans outside, they get stiffer’n a board.  Larry then puts them on and goes lurching around the house stiff-legged, as if he can’t bend his knees.  That always used to make the children laugh.  Nowadays, the cats and I have to do double-duty laughing at him, so he feels properly appreciated for his theatrics.
Teensy cat had acquired a cold, with sneezing and wheezing.  Wednesday night he got worse rather quickly, and worried me all night long.  Larry stopped at the veterinary clinic Thursday morning and got some medicine.  We didn’t have to take the cat to the clinic, thankfully.  He’s a sweet kitty, but going to the vet is always a bit of a trial.  He cries mournfully (the cat, not the vet) all the way to town and home again, and the noise of the dogs barking at the clinic frightens him.
Plus, I’ve had an arthritic flare-up the last several days that had particularly affected one shoulder and a few fingers, so I did not relish carrying that big cat hither and yon, even though he doesn’t ever cause a big problem, really.  I immediately gave him his first dose, mixing it with his favorite soft food, and he downed it without a quibble.  By midafternoon, he was already breathing easier and sneezing less. 
I sure don’t like to see him sick, poor thing.  He kept coming and getting in my lap, looking sadly up into my face...  That pleading expression in our pets’ eyes, begging us for help... it gets to me!  I’m such a milquetoast, when it comes to my pets, even if I do make them behave.  (Well, as much as one can make cats behave, heh.)
At noon, Loren drove out here with one of his flatbed trailers, and Larry loaded it with a bunch of split wood that would keep his fireplace going for several days.  Loren was feeling better, but we didn’t want him overdoing again.
I headed up to my new and pretty studio.  Sometimes when I walk in there, I just stand for a minute and admire it. 
When I talked to Loren on the phone that afternoon, he was all happy and kept thanking me – first for Larry giving him a big trailer-load of split wood, and next for the box of pictures.  He’s so pleased to have them, and is looking through them slowly, a few at a time, prolonging the enjoyment.  He’s sentimental, and he misses Janice.
Of course he thought he needed to pay us.  I said, “If you insist you have to pay me for those pictures, then I’ll insist that we have to pay you for the camera!”
He laughed.  We’ve already given it to granddaughter Emma.  She’d been using Teddy’s expensive camera, and she loves to take pictures of birds, especially eggs and babies in their nests and she was climbing trees with that camera around her neck, in order to get the pictures!
That day, February 8th, was Emma’s 12th birthday, and it was also her little brother Grant’s 5th birthday.  We gave Emma the purple and lavender quilt I made for her last year, and Grant the aforementioned Walkie-Talkies.
I got all the HSTs sewn into little squares, and then sewed a pile of little squares together.  Here they are, piling up behind my sewing machine. à
Friday, two customer quilts arrived from Washington State, and shortly thereafter, another arrived from Florida. 
Next, the Schwan man arrived.  I must’ve been hungry when I placed the order the night before! – there was baaaarely enough room in the freezer for all the food.
“Looks like we’ll have enough food for supper tonight,” I remarked, looking at the four very large bags stuffed with big boxes and bags of frozen foods.
The man glanced at the bags, looked quickly at me, and said, “For a good two weeks!”
What is it, don’t li’l ol’ ladies ever kid around anymore these days??  Makes me want to act like I meant it:  “Oh, no, we’ll eat it all tonight,” in a reassuring tone.
But he’s a nice young man, and one shouldn’t traumatize him.
I wedged everything into the freezer, then took the quilts upstairs to measure them. 
Soon Larry got home, and we headed off to Norfolk to pay off a couple of notes at the bank, and to get batting and yo-yo makers at Hobby Lobby.
A few miles north of our house, bald eagles flew over the road in front of us.  Canada geese were lighting in the harvested cornfields by the hundreds.  Snow was coming down in earnest, visibility falling, and soon the road was covered with blowing skiffs of snow.  The temperature was 10°F, with a wind chill of -7°.  Brrrr...
As usual, we got to the bank in plenty of time – four minutes before closing.  In fact, that was twice the amount of time we needed, because it only took Larry two minutes to trot in, write out a couple of checks, get his receipt, and come trotting jubilantly back out, two minutes before closing time.
Yeah, that’s Larry’s idea of ‘getting there in time’, not mine.
I didn’t find a yo-yo maker at Hobby Lobby.  An employee told us right where they were... but when we got to that aisle, we stood and looked blankly at circular yarn looms in all sizes, shapes, and colors.
We got the batting I needed and some pretty pearly buttons in case I want to put them into the centers of the yo-yos.  There weren’t enough; I’ll have to get more from the Hobby Lobby in our town.  We headed for the checkout. 
The cashier (who was also a manager) inquired, “Did you find everything?” so I asked, “Do you have yo-yo makers?” – not thinking to clarify, ‘for fabric.’ 
She frowned thoughtfully and started gesturing toward the toy department, supposing I was talking about a tool or gadget one would use to make wooden yo-yos that travel up and down strings tied around one’s finger.
“Oh, sorry,” I laughed, “I mean, those little flower yo-yos made of fabric!”
About then, the first lady came along, heard me asking again – and proceeded to inform us quite knowledgeably that yo-yo makers have been discontinued, and Hobby Lobby no longer carries them.
Do people like Employee #1 ever get surprised when someone exclaims, “Hey, you just told me the very aisle in which to find those things!” – right in front of their managers?
Naaa... I didn’t do that.  I just grinned at her (in a twinkly, ah knowed whatcher doin’! sideways sort of way) and said, “Thank you.”  After all, she had obviously thought the thing concerned yarn, and now she evidently realized it was about fabric.  Gotta give everyone the benefit of the doubt.  Usually.  😉
We ate supper at The Granary in Norfolk.  The prices are fairly low, and the food is okay, but not superb.  I got a small cup of ham and bean soup and was disappointed at the first bite to realize it was canned, rather than made from scratch.  I don’t like mushy beans.  The bread served under my roast beef and gravy was white, and soggy.  I don’t like soggy bread, especially soggy white bread.  It didn’t even occur to me that it wouldn’t be whole wheat, and toasted. 
They were out of orange juice, but I got tomato juice instead, and it was good.  Room temperature, just the way I like it; but the waitress brought me a glass of ice, in case I wanted it cold.  Larry’s catfish and fries were rather greasy.  It was easy to tell they came out of a freezer bag.  Not fresh, not made there in the kitchen.  There’s a difference, and my tastebuds know.
Ah, well.  We got full, we didn’t get food poisoning (always a plus), and there were no dishes to wash.  
Cracker Barrel is a lot better, but there is no Cracker Barrel restaurant in Norfolk. 
I should say, the blueberry pie with cinnamon ice cream that I had for dessert was yummy.  Larry had coconut cream pie, and pronounced it very good indeed.  Oh, and the coffee was superb, and the waitress kept our cups full, so that was nice.
One early morning years ago, we were in a restaurant in southern Texas, and I asked what kind of hot cereal they had.  The waitress ran down the list. 
I wondered, Why on earth would people eat grease for breakfast?!!! 
Turned out, she was saying ‘grits.’  😆
While we waited for the food we’d ordered at The Granary, I purchased a size 2 ⅜” yo-yo maker from Wal-Mart online, and a 1 ¾” one from eBay.  $7.50 for the first, $5.50 for the second, free shipping for each.  The 2 ⅜” one got here today.  That’s fast!  Too bad I can’t play with it yet.
When we left the restaurant, it was dark, and snow was coming down harder than ever, with a 35-mph wind blowing it into drifts.  The temperature had dropped to 4°, and the wind chill was -15°.  I was glad we weren’t in a covered wagon, trundling along behind a team o’ hosses!
Out on the highway, the wind was making waves of drifts on the road.  We saw a pickup with a horse or stock trailer that had slid into the ditch while trying to turn onto a country road.  A car that had slid into the median and was high-centered and couldn’t get out.
At a quarter ’til nine, we pulled into our lane.  Home, safe and sound.
I started a load of clothes drying, then headed upstairs to my quilting studio.  I had only enough steam to sew little squares together for a while; I would start on the customer’s quilt the next day.
Saturday, the temperature got all the way up to 8°F – with a wind chill of 0°.  I went out and filled the bird feeders, and by the time I got back inside and walked around to the window nearest the feeders, there were English sparrows, a downy woodpecker, and a blue jay out there enjoying the smorgasbord.  Hand me my coffee mug, quick!  I need to warm up my hands!
I watered the house plants; the cyclamen, African violets, and Kalanchoe are in bloom and the Phalaenopsis orchid is sending up a spire with little buds on it.
I put another load of clothes into the dryer and went to load a quilt on the frame.
A friend was telling me about some troubles she’d been having with her printer, and how she eventually got it working again.  Reminded me of the time I got a new computer – and my printer wasn’t compatible with it.  But I liked my printer!  It wasn’t very old, and it was a good one.  The discs that came with it didn’t help matters.  I needed to download new drivers that had been updated especially for the new Windows system I was now using.
Here was the problem:  We had dial-up Internet that faltered and fumbled and failed constantly.  And the techs who created the download programs back then rarely put in that ‘Resume where paused’ feature that’s now in most download programs, thankfully (not in the Electric Quilt download, though.  Boooo).  I tried for a couple of weeks to download a 55MB program.  Over... and over... and over, I tried. 
And then one Saturday night I started the download... went to bed... and when I got up the next morning, the computer was still connected to the Internet, and the printer drivers had downloaded entirely!!!  I was in such a state of shock, I could hardly get ready for church.  ha
Anyway, I had to plug parts of the download into my printer program here and there, change something in the registry (in the beginning, computers weren’t for sissies) ... and then I held my breath, and gave my printer a try.
It worked.
I felt inordinately smug and superior for days.
In discussing some computer problems with a few friends, I remarked, “I reckon no electronic device, platform, or program is ever glitch-free.  At least, I haven’t found one, in the 41 years I’ve been working with computerized things.” 
Hard to believe, I first clunkity-clunked a magnetic card out of a tallllll, tall hard drive, way back in 1977... marched over to a humongous printer, poked the card in, hit a few buttons, and watched, entranced, as the printer, with a blirkety-twink-swoosh-swoosh-BLORG!!! came to life and printed exactly what I had programmed it to, from my big computerized word processor over on the other side of the room.
Yeah, boy, I thought that was some nifty-workin’ stuff.  Always have loved computers.  I was 16 years old, allowed to work a year ‘too young’ at Nebraska Public Power District solely because my Business Administrations teacher told the Big Hotshot Powers That Be that I could do it.  I still send that teacher thank-you notes, every once in a while, just because I know it makes him pleased.
I loaded the quilt backing, started basting the batting to the backing – and immediately began having trouble with skipped stitches, shredding, and breaking thread.  With difficulty, I got the top basted to batting and backing.  I changed needles, marked the first border, picked up a ruler, tried to stitch in the ditch. 
In the space of a yard, the thread broke three times.
I called Larry to report on my troubles, and learned he was having troubles of his own.  He’d taken his four-wheel-drive tractor with the newly-attached loader to Teddy’s house to move snow – and several of the big bolts holding the loader onto the tractor had sheared right off.  He was at the shop, drilling them out and replacing them.
I turned off the quilting machine, turned on my sewing machine, and got on with the pinwheels.  The finished size will be 2” square.
A quilting friend, upon seeing this shot of the back of one of the pinwheel blocks, wrote, “My arthritis makes spinning the center seam exceedingly painful and difficult.  Am I seeing that you are ironing seams open as you go?”
Yep, I am.  I’ve done it the other way, too – seams to one side, swirl the center where they all meet up.  But the quilting machine prefers quilting atop pressed-open seams.  My fingers don’t always appreciate that ‘spin-the-seam’ fun either.
Don’t listen to those who tell you, “You can’t match the seams, if you press them open!”
Somewhere around 7:00 p.m., I heard the distinct sound of spinning tires in snow.  I looked out the windows to the north and east... nothing.  I trotted downstairs, looked out the patio door to the south – and spotted Larry’s pickup and trailer, loaded with the tractor, way down beyond the south edge of our property.  He was rocking it back and forth, but he certainly wasn’t making very good headway in the deep snow in the field.
Eventually, he unhitched, moved the pickup onto the back drive, drove the tractor off the trailer, and then used the tractor to pull the empty trailer back where he wanted it.
After a late supper, Larry came upstairs to work on the Avanté.  He timed it... I tried it... he retimed it... I tried it...  It took a while, but eventually the machine made a nice stitch – so long as I use that big ol’ honkin’ size 20 needle, which I particularly dislike.  But maybe I’ll be able to finish my customers’ quilts before I take the machine to the tech.  Maybe. 
I’d like to sit the tech’s wife (co-owner of the store) in a conspicuous corner on a tall stool with a dunce cap on her head, and make her hold up a big sign reading, “I am unhelpful to customers!”  At periodic intervals she should turn it around, so everyone can read the other side:  “I’m not as smart as I pretend to be!”  🤪
Meanwhile, in between helping Larry as he worked on the Avanté (my job is to turn the handwheel at the back of the machine, and I’m really good at it, though Larry and I have different opinions as to what constitutes ‘reverse’ and ‘forward’, when it comes to handwheels), I finished putting pinwheels together.  All 173 of them.  Now to create a design for them!  But first, to go to bed.
My nephew Kelvin made it to church yesterday morning!  I hadn’t seen him for quite a while.  The surgery he had last month revealed that the radiation had done great harm to many of his organs.  The surgeon did the best he could, removing any cancer he could see, and repairing as much as he could.  No wonder Kelvin had been in so much pain.  He’s still in pain, especially since he has cut back on his pain medication; but he’s slowly recuperating. 
I finally remembered to take Janice’s old Canon film camera into a dark room and get the film out, so after the morning service we took it to Walgreens.  The pictures won’t be back until the 19th.  Huh?
Well, I did say ‘the cheapest way’; but I didn’t expect them to ship it Turtleback Express!
When we got home, Larry made his scrumptious pancakes, with eggs, sunny-side-up.
That afternoon, I pulled up EQ8, and started playing with designs with which to use all those pinwheels.  I pretty much had the design nailed down, and then tried to delete an extraneous block in the Sketchbook, whereupon EQ8 crashed, and rendered my project file ‘corrupted.’  The only thing it saved was the pinwheel block, in both color schemes.  I could see the first two quilt layouts, but they wouldn’t open. 
“Abandon all hope and reverse the world on its axis!!!” the program shrieked at me every time I tried to open the project, whether from the program itself, either in startup or from the File menu, or from the project folder.
Sooo... I deleted the project and started over (which wasn’t as bad as it sounds, because it was fresh in my head, and thus didn’t take too awfully long to replicate).  Still, aarrgghh.
Here is the design I put together in EQ8:  

There were 87 navy pinwheels and 86 maroon ones – 173 in all – and I managed to incorporate 170 of them into the design.  I’ll save the other three to jazz up the label.
The quilt will be called Americana Eagle.  I’ll use that central line drawing (from an online coloring book) to make an appliquéd bald eagle.  Here is another version where I plugged a real photo of a bald eagle into the design, to give a better idea of what it will actually look like:  

The quilt will be 63” x 73”.
Someone suggested embroidering the eagle, but that would take an awfully long time, as that center piece is 30” x 40”, and I would want to fill it in, not just do an outline stitch.
I have multitudes of books with hand-embroidery designs, including one with birds, and another with butterflies.  I have a hand-embroidered Bucilla butterfly quilt started.  I take it with me on trips with the idea that one of these days I’ll have time to sit in a chair beside a singing mountain stream, bluebirds warbling overhead, and embroider... and embroider... and embroider.
But the reality??  First, we rarely stop anywhere long enough for me to even get out the chair.  Second, if we do stop, I’m rushing madly (and gladly) about, camera in hand.  I’m not the Mad Hatter; I’m the Mad Snapper!
If we’re in a motel room or in our camper, I’ll probably have a journal to write or photos to edit or Very Important Emails to answer.  My desire to zip open that nifty briefcase with all the pockets and the pretty butterfly quilt inside with all the colorful embroidery threads ... is practically zilch. 
Furthermore, I have the Bucilla embroidered bird quilt, too!—still in its package.
Obviously, instead of using these things for an ‘in case I need something to do’ project, I’ll just have to put them straight into my ‘To Do!’ roster.  Then, they’ll get done.
And now, I must quilt!  Sure hope my machine will stitch okay.

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

Friday, February 9, 2018

Photos: Drive to Norfolk

Snowy road to Norfolk today. It's 5°F, wind chill of -10°F, with winds blowing at 35 mph. We saw a pickup and horse trailer that had missed the country road they'd tried to turn onto and slid into the ditch, and a car that had slid into the median, was high-centered, and couldn't get out.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Journal: Machine Misbehavior

Remember how Laura Ingalls Wilder tried to get Ma to make the new-fangled round doughnuts with holes in the middle, but Ma wouldn’t do it, because she didn’t care to waste the time it would take to constantly be turning them?  She only made the twisted doughnuts that rolled on their own (because as they fried, they would become top-heavy – thus the roll). 
I thought of that the other day, when Larry came home from town with the gallon of milk I’d requested – and a box of doughnuts, too, including one of those twisted kinds.  Doughnuts are a rare treat around here – and my stomach informs me exactly why it’s rare, when I have no more than one of the yummy things.  😕
Last Tuesday, I mentioned to some friends that I had Larry’s W2 form, and needed to do our taxes – when all I really wanted to do was to quilt.
“You don’t need to worry about it yet!” one of them comforted me; “taxes aren’t due until April 17th this year!”
But… 1) I can’t stand to have such a thing hanging over my head all that time; 2) I like to do the more unpleasant things first and save the best for last (a reward, as it were, for getting the badder stuff done); and 3) We have a refund coming! 
Sooo... I filled the bird feeders... and soon the little birds were flocking around them.  A cute little squirrel hopped up onto the deck table to enjoy the black oil sunflower seeds.  He’s fast – it only takes him about two split seconds to extract the seed from each shell.  😊
And then I pulled up Turbo Tax and got in gear.
I talked to Loren that afternoon; he was still feeling quite dizzy, but better after a visit to the chiropractor the day before. The problem  was probably brought on by too many days of hard work cutting and hauling wood, and perhaps a virus, too.  And wouldn’t you know, when Larry went to split some wood for him Monday at noon, Loren thought he needed to help, and wheeled several cartloads of wood from splitter to house.  It’s hard to hold him down! 
Suppertime found me still plugging away at our tax return.  Did I drive y’all to distraction last February/March/April when all I had to say, day after day, was, “I took a load of stuff to the Goodwill.”  “I took a load of stuff to the Goodwill.”  “I took a load of stuff to the Goodwill.” ?  I have donation receipts for almost every day during those months!  I was itemizing, so it took a while.  The reward was that each time I clicked ‘Done’ on that date’s donations, the green numbers that tell me what my refund is went clickety-clicking upwards.  I was glad I’d made a lot of donations, and got receipts each time.  When I started, for some reason Turbo Tax had Larry’s W2 form listed twice – so it had him down as making twice what he really made. When I saw that we owed thousands of dollars, I thought, Hey, sumpthin’s not right.  I spotted the duplication... clicked ‘Delete’... Ah. There we go. This is more like it.
Larry took Loren some muscle milk and some bananas that evening after he got off work.  That would give him some needed calcium, potassium, and protein.
Shortly after Larry got home, I finished the taxes.  Turbo Tax informed me that some forms weren’t ready yet, so… ??  I think, but I’m not sure, that it’s only the forms for printing and viewing the documents that aren’t ready yet… but I can’t be sure.  Anybody who has anything to do with anything concerning taxes speaks in a different language than I do. 
I went upstairs to quilt on the Baskets of Lilies quilt until I got tired.  That is, until I got more tired.  Or too tired.  Maybe it would rev me up, and I’d really get a whole bunch done!  Or maybe I’d fall asleep and quilt the cat by accident.
Last week when I put the backing for this quilt together, I decided to use my Bernina 830 Electronic Record.  It’s 40 years old and still going strong; I bought it new when I was 17 years old.  I like to use it now and again, to keep it in good running condition.  But!! as I was sewing the pieces together, it suddenly quit!  It’s not the machine itself; it’s the pedal, I’m almost certain.  Loren is going to loan me the pedal from Janice’s machine; it’s just like mine.  Then I’ll know for sure if it’s the pedal.
At a quarter ’til two in the morning, I threw in the towel.  The third row was finished on the Baskets of Lilies quilt.  More photos here.
I wrote on my quilting blog, “The more I use my new machine, the better I like it.”
Things would go south the very next day.
My alarm makes a very small ‘click’ noise as the arms fall into place a few seconds before it triggers the alarm.  Wakes me up almost every time, so I shut off the alarm before it blares.  On the minus side of things, that little ‘click’ happens when the alarm isn’t set to go off, too, so I wake up when I don’t need (or want) to!  About 6 ½ to 7 ½ hours of sleep each night is about right for me.
Wednesday turned out to be a rather disappointing day, as the timing on my new Avanté has evidently gotten out of whack somehow.
Tuesday after several hours spent working on taxes, I went upstairs to my quilting studio to quilt for a while. The machine worked perfectly; everything was fine. When some time later I ran out of bobbin thread, I decided it was time to quit and head for the feathers.
Wednesday, I trotted up there to get back to work.  I filled the bobbin… put it in and stitched a few short inches – and the upper thread shredded and broke.  I checked everything, rethreaded, tried it again. A few more inches… another shredding and breakage.
I changed the needle, checked the tension top and bottom, cleaned out any lint, oiled the bobbin race, tried it again.
I eventually and with much difficulty finished a row, rolled the quilt forward, and launched into the same scenario again. When it was time for church, I’d completed only two feet of that row, with multiple thread breakages.
Our midweek church service was a welcome break, and afterwards Baby Malinda delighted us all by demonstrating her new skill, ‘Pattycake’.  She laughed aloud when I played peekaboo with her, so I left the church inordinately pleased with myself. 
Loren was feeling much better, and able to come to the service, which was a big relief.
We bought a taco pizza from Pizza Hut, went home and ate it, and then I headed back to my quilting studio.  Maybe it was the bobbin itself that was the culprit.
I put in a new bobbin… a new cone of thread on top… gave it another try.
It was worse than ever.  Sometimes it wouldn’t even stitch at all.  Larry came to take a look; but he couldn’t tell what the trouble was, either.  I hadn’t hit anything with the machine, and nothing odd happened before it ran out of bobbin thread – unless maybe, possibly, the last little bit of bobbin thread was knotted inside the bobbin case and tangled and tugged on the top thread, or some such thing.  Nothing really noticeable, though.
So I shut it down; I would call the tech the next day.  I can’t take the machine off the frame, with the king-sized quilt on it. (Not that I could in any case, as the Avanté weighs 68 pounds.)
Instead of quilting, I edited and posted photos:  Squirrels, Birds, and a Cat, and Sunset and My Jeep.
Thursday, I called the store where we got my machine to report the problem. 
Since it cannot be assumed that a customer knows anything about anything, employees (and the co-owner) must go straight through their script without deviating:
It is immaterial that I just put a new needle in, rethreaded the machine, and adjusted bobbin tension/top tension immediately before I called, nor that I have done it multiple times.  No, I have to do it again, whilst on the phone.  By the time the conversation was over, my head hurt.  😛  Literally.  😝  And this, too:  😜  
Next time, I’m just going to make agreeing noises, and tinkety-tink around a bit to make them think I’m redoing all that.
I will say, the lady (store owner, wife of the tech) was very nice; she was trying to help.  It’s not her fault that the machine is breaking and shredding thread, after all.  The tech wasn’t there right then. 
She finally told me that shredding thread means one thing:  the needle is too small.
Okay, I know it most often means that ---- but I also know it doesn’t always mean that.  And this time, it most likely didn’t mean that, since the problem occurred suddenly, in the middle of a quilt, with no change in thread or fabric or batting or quilting design.  Here’s a fact:  #50 Bottom Line thread by Superior does not require a size 20 needle.  This, I know.
But... that seemed to be the only thing I could do about it at the moment:  I would have to drive 55 miles to the store for some bigger needles.  I knew perfectly well that the problem was deeper than that – but I had to do this first, to satisfy them.  😒😕
It was a cold, cold day.  I bundled up, grabbed purse, tablet, and coffee, and headed east.  It takes a little over an hour to get there.
While wandering around the store looking at all the pretty fabrics, quilts, books, notions, and decorations, I happened to see the lady from whom we got the portable professional frame for the HQ16, back in 2010.  She’s 80 now, but doesn’t look (or act) her age.  (Probably never did, heh.)  She’s the kind of a person (let’s call her ‘Junie’) you want to wave at from across the room – and then run for your life, if you want to have a life for the next little foreseeable future.
Forgetting this, though I should remember, having bumped into her regularly, despite the fact that I don’t go there often, I greeted her cheerily.
She asked if I was still enjoying my machine.  I said Larry had given me an Avanté for Christmas, and I’d sold the HQ16.  She asked how much I’d sold it for.
“$3,000,” I told her.
She looked shocked.  “Oh, my, that’s not nearly enough.  I have a Simply 16 – or is it a Sit-Down 16 (she doesn’t know, because she has never used it) (really!  That’s what she said!) – and I’m selling it for $6,500!”  
That’s $505 more than MSRP for a new one.
“What year is it?” I asked.
“Doesn’t matter what year!” she informed me adamantly.  “You go by hours!”
Maybe when a new machine sits without use, the price keeps going up, year by year?
“Well, I’m satisfied with what I got for the machine,” I told her.  “It was a 2005 (she started to interrupt me to say the year didn’t matter, but I pressed on quickly), had a lot of hours on it (said to placate her), and I only paid $2,700 for it in the first place.”
“Oh.  But do you know how to find the number of hours on your machine??  If you don’t, the tech can tell you.” 
Here, the lady who owns the store (let’s call her Dagmar), evidently eavesdropping, whether inadvertently or not, I cannot say, marched around the corner and informed Junie, “You don’t go by hours, you go by stitches.  Do you know how many stitches your machine has?”
Nonplused, Junie stared at her. 
Before I finish this story, you should know that Junie is the woman who, back in 2010, upon hearing we were interested in the portable professional frame she was selling, and that Larry happened to be working that in the town where she lives, went off to find him. 
When she spotted a big boom truck coming down a street, she put her vehicle in park, leaped out, and flagged him down, right in the middle of an intersection, shouting up at him, “Are you Larry??!”
Now that we have established that Junie is not shy, we shall proceed:
Larry went to look at the frame on his lunch break, called to tell me about it. 
Since I had not yet decided on or found a quilting machine, I didn’t know if we should get a frame yet or not.  So Larry left the woman’s house after telling her we would let her know, if we came up with a machine.
A couple of hours later, she called both of us and said that another woman was coming to buy the frame (which we wound up buying, and which I have used until the day we went it to Alabama last month).  I thought, Lady, you’re trying to feed me a batch of baloney.
“Okay, just sell it to the other lady,” I told her.
Junie seemed struck dumb by that response; it obviously wasn’t what she’d expected.
She called back in less than half an hour to tell me that the ‘other woman’ had had a car accident, run her car into a pole, and would have to use the money with which she’d planned to purchase the frame to instead fix her car.  Furthermore, she’d decided to drop the price of the frame, and we could come and get it anytime, and she’d save it for us.
Sherrrrrrrr.  Her strong-arm tactics had failed, is all, and she’d suddenly realized she had lost the sale – so she’d set about retrieving said sale, in whatever way she deemed best.
We did buy the frame, as I said. 
We also counted everything she said from there on as 99% bonhomie.
Okay.  Back to the story at hand.  Here’s Dagmar, asking Junie how many stitches there are on her machine.
Junie, who’d put forth that she was knowledgeable about these things, looked blank.
“What kind of a machine do you have?” asked Dagmar in a condescending tone, looking smug.
Junie glanced at me, and her face took on that wily expression that’s becoming more familiar every time I meet her.  “Bernina,” she said.
Haha!  That old lady is devious!  When she realized she’d said the wrong thing, she just... switched her story.  Most Bernina machines keep track of not only stitches, but also hours of sewing, and even hours the machine is merely turned on.
Junie changed the subject quickly before the questions could get uncomfortable.  She pointed at me.  “She sold her machine for only $2,700!  What do you think of that?!”
There.  Now Dagmar was on the spot, trying to decide how to answer that. 
I escaped.  A little wave of the hand, and I fled into another room, and let the aisles of fabric envelope me.
Eventually, the employees finished with their customers and were able to help me.  There were no size 20 needles hanging on the rack, but a shipment had just come in, and the needles needed to be extracted from the boxes. 
I again related the problem with my Avanté.  The people at the store treated me like a dimwitted kindergartner (in their kindly way, of course; nobody is ever unkind), as if I didn’t know a quilt from a floor mat, you know.
Now, my Mama taught me not to brag and show off... but ... sometimes... you just have to do what you have to do.
I took out my tablet.  I had already pulled up a picture of the Baskets of Lilies quilt, anticipating just such a happening by how they acted on the phone.
“Here’s what I’m working on,” I said nonchalantly, choosing the precise moment when one of them asked me what type of fabric I was using.  (I very badly wanted to say, “Double-knit.  Why?”)
Hehehe... They – from owner to lowliest employee – quit acting like ah din’t know nuttin’.  After that, I put my sweetest, humblest persona back on, like Mama taught me.  (Only she intended that it be genuine.)
A 90-year-old lady who’s been a friend and fellow quilter for quite a few years wrote to say, “Lots of people assume because I am old and wrinkled that all the grey matter has left the head.  Some has, but not all of it!”
I wrote back, “Combat that with a piece of knowledge they won’t possibly know.  Like this:  ‘Did you know that the space shuttle’s three main engines operated for 8 minutes and 40 seconds for each shuttle flight, with a combined output of 37 million horsepower?  At their full power, that was equivalent to the output of 13 Hoover Dams.’  Haha!  They won’t know what to do with you.”
I bought the needles – $15 for only two packages! – and headed home again, thinking the size 20 needle probably wouldn’t help.
This is one of those times when I was glad to be wrong.  Mind you, I wasn’t completely wrong; only partially wrong; but wrong, nonetheless.
In half an hour, I had completed the row I’d been struggling to do all day Wednesday, when I only managed to do less than a foot and a half.  This means I quilted 100” – without the thread breaking once, in just a little over half an hour.
Now, while it’s true that I didn’t think the larger size 20 needles change things, and they have; nevertheless, I knew it was merely a Band-Aid for the problem, because… there’s a little metallic ‘tink-tink’ noise every now and then that tells me I was right in thinking this machine has gone a bit out of timing.
Furthermore, it should still be able to quilt with size 16 and size 18 needles (which I prefer, as they don’t leave the visible holes the size 20 needle leaves); and things should not have changed suddenly for no apparent reason in the middle of this quilt.
Since it changed after I filled a bobbin, I’m thinking that one of these days I need to buy a more up-to-date bobbin winder.  Mine is a 2005, and it doesn’t have a speed control (another point Dagmar wanted to argue, as if I can’t see a speed-adjusting knob right before my nose), and I know from using the TOWA gauge that it doesn’t wind at a steady tension, and if I wind the bobbin too full, it will stretch the aluminum bobbin so that I can no longer use it.
Dagmar doesn’t want to admit this is true; she just wants to tell me that “there are many variables, and needles, thread, and fabric change things, even in the middle of a quilt.”
True enough — but if this machine will no longer work with size 16 or 18 needles, then something happened to it, and it needs to be FIXED.
Meanwhile, I would finish this quilt, and be happy that the ‘Band-Aid’ was working.
I called the lady after finishing the row to tell her it was working, but has a funny sound, and I don’t like the larger holes in the fabric, and I know something isn’t quite right. 
She laughed, asked if the stitches looked good, “And you got the row done, didn’t you?”
I said I’d like her husband look at it when I got this quilt done. 
“Well, but he’s swamped!” she protested.
“Okay.  As soon as possible,” I replied.  And once more, “I do know something isn’t right; the machine doesn’t sound right.”
She asked me to quilt while she listened – and then she said it sounded fine, and I ‘wasn’t going to hurt it.’  “Is it quilting?” she asked.
“Yes,” I said.
“Then you’re fine!” she said, and laughed.
You’d think a quilter would know the saying, ‘A stitch in time saves nine’!
Fixing things earlier rather than later is almost always the best way.
I should’ve hung a couple of spoons around my neck and then jiggled around whilst I ran the machine.  😆
I might be quiet, but... I can also be like a pesky gnat, and bother someone until they help me just to get me out of their hair.  Remember the story in Luke 11? –
5.  And he said unto them, Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go unto him at midnight, and say unto him, Friend, lend me three loaves;
6.  For a friend of mine in his journey is come to me, and I have nothing to set before him?
7.  And he from within shall answer and say, Trouble me not: the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give thee.
8.  I say unto you, Though he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him as many as he needeth.
9.  And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.
10. For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.

I remember Daddy preaching from that chapter, and telling us, “If you really need something, and you know that person should help you, keep asking!!!” 
That night, I made it past the halfway point on the Baskets of Lilies quilt.
Friday, I looked for a new bobbin winder online and discovered that one from HandiQuilter costs $349!!!  EEerrrrkkk.  (...clutching at throat...) 
So I looked for one on Amazon. 
AAAuuuggghhh!!!  $379!!!  I tried another machine shop – $329. 
Someone suggested prewound bobbins.  But... they cost more than if I wind them myself.  Everything costs more!  Milk costs more.  Cat food costs more.  waa waa waa
But right then, my biggest problem was that I’d earlier eaten the last banana, and now I didn’t have one to slice on my Corn Chex.  waa waa waa!
Still, I only had 36.4% of that quilt left to quilt.  Wheeeeeeeeee...
I ate my bananaless Corn Chex and hurried up to the quilting studio.
I found the option for turning on the bell that warns of overrunning the stitch-per-minute limit (1,800 spm, on this machine, compared to 1,100 on the HQ16), and it was off.  I turned it on, then quilted faster... faster... faster... until I heard the little bell.  It’s quite muted; I should look for a volume control.  The HQ16 didn’t have any volume control; I don’t know about this one.  But now I know what the tone is, so I’ll listen for it when I’m quilting.  I like to know when I’m overrunning the spm; don’t want my stitches to be elongated by going too fast.
It got up to 37° that afternoon, but with the wind blowing at about 35 mph, the wind chill was 28°.
A friend wrote to say that she’d been to the grocery store earlier, and had used one of the store’s electric wheelchairs, as she was having some troubles getting around that day.
Victoria and I once saw an elderly lady – probably around 90 years old – driving one of those electric carts in Wal-Mart.  She came around a corner behind us... paused... looked down the aisle to where we were all stymied by two large ladies standing and blabbing, smack in the middle of the aisle, while people waited to get through on both sides of them.
They weren’t brung up by my Mama, nosiree, huh-uh!  Rude, rude, rude.
Anyway, the elderly lady sized up the situation, looked up at Victoria and me, winked and grinned all twinkly, and said, “That’s what these carts are for!  I love ’em.  They’re equipped with horns.” 
So saying, she pressed the button for the beeper (a loud one!), stepped on the accelerator, and went flying down the aisle as fast as the thing would go, motioning for Victoria and me to follow her.  Believe me, those unmannerly blabbermouths got themselves out of the way, straightaway! 
We couldn’t quit laughing.
Victoria, giggling, said, “I want to be just like her, when I’m old!”
I informed her, “You already are.
“Old?” asked Victoria innocently.  
hee hee
Saturday night, I rolled the quilt forward to the second-to-the-last row. Would there be enough batting???  I finished that row... rolled forward... and...
Yaaaay, there was enough!!!  There was only 3 ½ inches to spare, but there was enough.
My poles didn’t sag, and this 115” x 115” quilt is absolutely, perfectly straight at the bottom – and I didn’t have to work at it; it just came out that way, like it’s supposed to.
However, I was getting done by the skin of my teeth, as the thread broke two or three times on the last row.  Timing issues (if I was right about that being the problem) don’t repair themselves.
I trimmed the quilt and removed it from the frame.  This quilt measures 115” x 115”.  I used medium-high loft by Fairfield.  I wanted extra-high, but Hobby Lobby was out, and I didn’t want to pay the higher price for whatever they might have at the LQSs. 
See Tiger over there on the left?
Now look at the smug expression on Teensy’s face as he stares at Tiger.  ‘I got the Thermabed, nyaa, nyaa, nyaa-nyaa-nyaa!’
(We have two Thermabeds, but one was downstairs.)
Saturday, since the quilt was all done, I called the store and asked if I could bring my machine in.
The answer: “Yes, you can bring it in.”
I asked, “How long will it take?”
And the lady says glibly, “Oh, it’s several weeks out; Kevin’s pretty busy right now.”
Several weeks?!
I said, “I can’t do that.  I have customer quilts on the way.  I need to schedule an appointment, bring it in, have it worked on, and pick it up right away.”
She acted like I was speaking a foreign language. But she did at least take my name and number and tell me she’d give the message to the man.
Some people are more helpful than others!  I will say that the man (co-owner with his wife, and the HQ tech) is a lot more conducive to customer helpfulness than his wife.  She works hard to convince me that I have to use a size 20 needle, on account of thread/fabric/whatever.  Bah.  I know better.
Meanwhile, I’ll make do with those size 20 needles. 🙄  Or maybe Larry will give timing it a try.  He set the timing on the HQ16 two or three times.  It’s a finicky job, if you don’t have a timing tool especially for the work, and particularly if your bifocals aren’t exactly right.
I headed downstairs to hunt for fabric for the binding for the Baskets of Lilies quilt – and wound up hauling my three bins full of quilters’ cotton all the way upstairs.  There’s room for them in the closet that used to be Caleb’s – the closet in the room I made a little library.
By nighttime, the binding was on the quilt.  I sew bindings entirely by machine – to the front first, then pull it around to the back, pin it… and stitch in the ditch from the front.  The back of the quilt is a floral green on green.
The next step: I need to make 36 yo-yos for the centers of the appliquéd flowers.
Several people have asked what my ‘secret’ is for getting the stitching on the back of the binding so perfect.
It’s this:  I pin vewy, vewy ca’fully.  I sew the binding to the front... pull it around to the back... fold it under... and pin so that it barely overlaps the seam.  When I stitch in the ditch from the front, I wind up with the stitching 1/32 of an inch from the folded binding edge.  I use ultra-fine, steel-shanked, glass-headed pins, and lots of ’em.
There are sewing machine feet that are especially for sewing binding on, but the stitching isn’t as close to the edge of the binding.  Someday I’m going to get one (if it doesn’t cost a king’s ransom) and give it a try, though.  I love tools and gadgets that make things easier – so long as they do a good job.
I have two of some of my tools, such as snips, so a one-and-only pair isn’t always on the opposite side of my sewing room when I need it.
Guess what happens after that?
They both wind up on the same side of the room, side by side, that’s what. 
I didn’t know if the binding went with the backing very well... but I liked how it looked on the front, and I tried to keep quite a lot of main things in the quilt blue, since that’s the major color in Todd and Dorcas’ bedroom.  At least the green leaves in the binding do match the green of the backing.  As for the backing? Well, there were a few green things on the front ------- but mostly, I had that backing.  I bought it several years ago to make curtains for someone, and the color wasn’t right, and I’ve been looking for something to use it on ever since.  A while back, I used a chunk out of it... so I had to piece it just a bit, for this backing.  It’s not noticeable, though.
A friend who isn’t fond of sewing bindings wrote, “Stopping to miter the ends together is like running a marathon and stopping a few feet before the finish line to tie my shoe.”  haha
It was 3° when we went to church Sunday morning, and the wind chill was -18°, what with the north wind blowing at 35 mph.
We have about 2 ½ inches of snow today.  Maybe 3”.  I’ve filled the bird feeders, and the birds are clustering around them.
I finally got a look at the feline culprit that I just knew had been sneaking into our house through the pet door at night.  He was trying to come in right when Teensy was trying to go out – and suddenly there was a scramble and a scurry, growls and a loud hisssssss.  I knew it wasn’t Tiger, because he was napping on the loveseat.
So I ran to the door (it’s the door that goes into the garage, and there’s a back walk-in door in the garage that we leave open slightly so that the cats can come and go), jerked it open – and there he was.  A gray stripe with white bib and feet.  He’s the one that’s been marking his territory, which makes life unpleasant.  Ugh!!!  Strays and drop-offs cause us troubles.
I yelled at him, “GET OUT!!!”
He went (reluctantly) – but toward a far corner of the garage, rather than toward the door – and then I saw why:  Larry had shut the back walk-in door!  This means the stray has been stranded in the garage, and couldn’t get out.  If he wanted to eat, he had to take his chances at coming into the house.  At least there’s a litterbox in the garage.
I propped the back walk-in door open enough that the cat can get out, but the 30 mph wind won’t blow it to and fro; banged my head good and proper on a heavy tubular valve sticking out of the air compressor; and refilled Tiger’s food dispenser.  No wonder it dwindled so rapidly over the last couple of days.
And no wonder Teensy and Tiger, who are not the best of friends and only carry on with an uneasy truce because I demand it, have been fracasing (should be a word, and would be a word, had Noah Webster ever observed Tiger and Teensy) about with more venom than usual.
This morning when they got into a row, I went storming into the room and ordered, “STOP IT!!!”  Tiger waddled hastily out the pet door, so I slid in the blocker.  After that, of course, Teensy wanted out, and Tiger wanted back in.  I had no idea that there was a real enemy cat out there in the garage, and Tiger couldn’t escape to (relative) safety inside!
I went on curling my hair – and was amazed some minutes later when, after hearing a scrabbling at the pet door, Tiger came rush-waddling into the bathroom, expressing his great consternation and dismay in that gravelly voice of his. 
How on earth did he get back in?!  I went to look at the pet door – a brand-new one, very sturdy.  Tiger trot-waddled along with me, and looked, too.
The sliding block-door was still in place.  What on earth??? 
“How’d you get in?!” I asked him. 
He looked up at me with his piercing amber gaze, glanced at the pet door, then back up at me.  “Mrrrrrow,” he rumbled, with an almost-shrug.  I think that was to say, I can’t imagine.
Then I noticed that the poor ol’ kitty’s nose was all scarfed up and bleeding a bit.  The only thing I can figure is that he got his nose under the edge of the sliding block-door somehow (I hadn’t gotten it all the way down – it was half an inch above the sill), lifted it enough to allow himself to squish through – and once he got in, the door slid back down into place. 
Otherwise, he must’ve ghosted himself through the wall.
Siggghhhhh...  Why do the good cats take it out on each other when a bad cat comes around?!
It’s almost suppertime.  The coffeepot being empty (Larry helped me drink it, at noon), I made a cup of coffee with a hazelnut coffee pod from Senseo Coffees... and, knowing that wouldn’t last long, I’ve also started a pot of tea brewing.  Let’s not tell Larry what’s in the pot, and see if he notices, okay?  😉
There are chicken breast filets and baby bakers in the oven, and the kitchen smells mmmmm, good.

*        *        *
Suppertime is over, and the chicken and baby bakers were indeed very good.  We also had applesauce, orange juice, and Strawberry Supreme frozen yogurt.
After watching a youtube video that explained how to set the timing, Larry worked on my Avanté.  We discovered, upon removing the needle plate, that the hook was actually rubbing hard against the needle, shoving it a good millimeter to the side.  Furthermore, one of the timing set screws was completely loose – which explains why the machine went out of timing without even hitting something such as a pin, a ruler, or a too-thick seam. 
It’s close now, but not quite right.  Larry was too tired to try again; he’ll work on it tomorrow night after work.  Anyway, I am glad to know I was right:  the timing was off, and that tink-tink noise was indeed the hook hitting the needle, just as I thought.
Hopefully, Larry can get it fixed before my customers’ quilts get here.  Some are on the way right now, even as I type!

P.S.:  Oh, and Larry did not realize he was drinking tea instead of coffee; he just sipped happily away at cup after cup.  😁

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