February Photos

Monday, September 28, 2015

Mantises on Screens, Cats in Trees, and Men on Scissor Lifts

A few weeks ago, Larry and I learned a piece of news.  Good news.  Secret news, which we were instructed to keep under our respective hats for a while, because, you see, not everyone in the family had been apprised of said news, and Really Important News should come directly from the News Source, or those who find themselves learning via the ol’ grapevine get all twisted up like a pretzel.

Anyway, here’s the news:  Jeremy and Lydia are expecting a new baby.  So it’s a good thing they’re enlarging their house!  Baby will probably arrive right in the midst of the construction hullabaloo.  Here’s their house; Jeremy has removed the brick and stone for later use, and has the basement walls done.  Little Jonathan says, “Daddy make a mess!!”
Monday as Victoria was working at Earl May, she was taking care of some houseplants, watering them, pinching off a few extraneous leaves, and so forth.  She pinched a leaf off a Dieffenbachia (also known as Dumb Cane, so called because if a person ingests it, his mouth, throat, and tongue might swell enough to render him speechless) – and the sap squirted her right straight in the eye.
She spent the next 40 minutes washing her eye out... over and over.  It was a little better when she got home from work, though still red and burning.
Tuesday when she got up, the eye was red and swollen and watering.  When she got to work, her boss, concerned, told her to go to the doctor.  She called me... I called the optometrist... and there was an opening right that very minute.  So off she went.
We were glad to learn that there was no permanent damage to the eye.  The doctor gave her some soothing eyedrops.  Her poor eye is still watery, a week later.
I think Loren was a bit lonely when I took him some supper that evening, so I stayed and visited with him for a little while.  Then I helped a friend with her computer, which for some reason was informing her that a ‘malicious add-on’ was preventing Internet Explorer from working.  I looked to see what had been added or updated recently, saw that it was Adobe Flash, and removed it, since she doesn’t need it anyway.

I evidently did the right thing, since her machine behaved better afterwards.  My techniques in pummeling computers into shape include a lot of educated (and sometimes uneducated) guesswork.
That night, I quilted four rows on a customer’s flannel French Braid quilt.  Not quite as much as expected, but some things are just more important than quilting, every now and then!  I did get the laundry done, so I was able to quilt most of the day Wednesday, with a little time out for church in the evening.
When we got home, I finished quilting my customer’s quilt, then spread the next one spread over my frame to let a few wrinkles relax.  I would load it the next day.  I headed upstairs to edit photos until I ran out of coffee. 
Running out of coffee before I ran out of energy, I made tea – and went on editing photos and listening to an audio book.
I ran out of steam before I ran out of tea.  Same thing happens with cookies and ice cream, ever notice that?  You just can’t get them to come out even, no matter how you try.  (You do try, don’t you?)

Thursday, I loaded the second quilt for my customer.  It was made of Boy Scouts fabric.  This quilt got a meander quilting, so it went fast. 

It was raining.  Again.  There are areas nearby that got eight inches of rain!  That’s overdoing it a bit.  People were needing boats – in their basements!
There’s a big ol’ green praying mantis on the screen next to me, as I sit here at the table.  It’s a little too dark and dreary to get a good picture of it, or I’d trot out on the porch and take a few shots.  It’s a female.  It’s funny, watching her turn her head and look, every time a gnat or miller flies past.  We’ve seen mantises that are a good five and even six inches long – and if you move in a threatening way toward them, they’ll stand up tall on their four rear legs and hold their front two legs up in an aggressive attitude, quite as if they’re prepared to really duke it out.
Larry was playing around with one that was sitting on the curb at a gas station a couple of weeks ago.  When the thing stood up and actually struck out at his boot as he wiggled it in its face, he said in his best Clint Eastwood voice, “Put ’em up!  Put ’em up, I say, put ’em up!”  He’s such a clown. 
After supper, I hemmed four pairs of pants for Loren, then finished the Boy Scouts quilt, packed both quilts into a box, and affixed a mailing label. 

Friday morning, Hester sent a picture from the streets of old Dublin.  It sure doesn’t look much like Omaha, does it?  Those narrow streets of Ireland intrigue me.
A few hours later, she sent another photo (below).  They were on their way to Killarney, the second place they would be staying.
I wrote back, “If I was Grandma Swiney (my mother), I would inform you that you could’ve taken that exact shot from Rte. 22 just a mile west of our house!
“I’m not Grandma Swiney ...  but I’ll say it anyway!  Actually, it’s greener.  There’s an old Irish song, Forty Shades of Green, by Irish singer Daniel O’Donnell.” 
Another pretty old Irish tune is Home to Donegal.
According to my ancestors, the reason they loved Illinois is because it’s almost as green as Ireland.
Hester soon replied, “Lololol!!!!  It does kinda look that way in the picture!  But on the other side, there are mountains.”
To which I responded, “Yeah, well.  Mountains.  Don’t rub it in.”
She then sent a picture of their hotel along a lake in Killarney – with mountains on the other side of the water.
So I wrote, “I said, Don’t rub it in!!!  Then I added, “No, I love getting pictures.  That’s beautiful.”

Isn’t it amazing that we can correspond with someone on the other side of the world, and our correspondence takes a mere split second to arrive?!  All right, I do know that Ireland isn’t exactly ‘the other side of the world’.  The exact ‘other side of the world’ from my house is just about precisely in the center of the Indian Ocean, somewhere near the dinky little island of La Roche Godon.  The exact ‘other side of the world’ from Killarney, on the other hand, is south of New Zealand, some distance north of Auckland Island.
Now, that seems amazing to me, too – all those locations seem ‘on the other side of the world’, to me.
Reckon I’ll ever be able to drag Larry to ‘the other side of the world’??  There are plenty of places I would never want to go, but I actually would like to see Ireland.  I could pop in on a distant cousin and ask when tea and crumpets are served.  heh
I was glad for a dryer that morning, as I wanted to wash bedding, and it was raining outside.  And then...  get this:  I had a clear slate!  I’ve been thinking I would start a Christmas tree skirt, using my Amanda Jane smocker/pleater, but ... looking at the calendar... I do believe I have enough time to make a wall hanging (with the Amazing Grace panel and coordinating prints) for Caleb and Maria’s 2nd wedding anniversary.  That would be just the ticket, because the traditional gift for the 2nd anniversary is cotton. 
Okay, yep, that’s exactly what I’m going to do.  The Christmas tree skoit (à la Larry, in an Archie Bunker accent) will be next.
I poured myself a cup of piping hot Dunkin’ Donuts vanilla crème coffee and got in gear.
Here’s a bit of incongruity for you:  I had the radio on that morning, the better to hear Middle Cornland weather and news at the top of the hour.  They played two ‘classic’ ‘golden oldies’, starting up the second before the first had totally faded away.  My ears are still totally boggled and bamfuzzled:  First song:  Willon and Wailie singing – no, make that caterwaulin’ Good-Hearted Woman, immediately followed by a bunch of children launching into Jesus Loves the Little Children as a prelude to Ray Stevens’ Everything is Beautiful
If they wanted to put Ray Stevens hot on the heels of Waylon and Willie, they could’ve at least chosen I’m My Own Grandpa.  The combination was sort of like our elderly neighbor’s quilts of long ago, made of double knit, canvas, and polyester silk.  With a patch of wide-waled corduroy over there on the bottom left quadrant.
I wrote this complaint to an online quilting group, and a lady promptly replied, “Guess what songs will be in my head all day now?????”
“Well, the only way to get it out of my head was to put it into yours!” I answered.  Then, “Wait, that didn’t work, either.  And I don’t even like those stupid songs!”
I pulled up my iTunes, and the strains of Rudy Atwood rambunctiously playing Come Thou Fount flowed into the room.  Ahhhhh...  much bettah.  Just let ol’ Waylie try doing competition with that.  So there!  Ha!
The female praying mantis is still (or again) on the screen – and a male has found her.  He has no idea that she will soon – okay, you’d better skip the next couple of paragraphs if you have no stomach for gore – eat his head right off his hapless body.  Or maybe ‘his hapless head off his body’.  Something is hapless.  And soon headless.  He doesn’t know this, you see, because male praying mantises never make it to daddy- and granddaddy-hood, so they cannot properly school and warn the young male offspring.
(Though, if that happened, there would then be no offspring – and then there would be myriad more bad bugs, since praying mantises eat bad bugs, in addition to male mantis heads.)
Okay, that’s enough.
In fact, that’s too much.
After taking my customer’s quilts to the post office, I stopped at Hobby Lobby and looked for a basket that would be the right size for the table topper and placemats for my great-niece.  I found one, a large rectangular one, 20” x 14” x 3” – exactly the right size, and it has handles at each end.  And a bonus, it was 50% off.
That evening, I took Loren some supper and his four pairs of newly-hemmed pants. 
“How much do I owe you?” he asked.
“​A nickel a leg​,” I told him. 
He barely took time to laugh before he wrote out a check for what I kept telling him was way too much.  But he wouldn’t take ‘no’ for an answer.  
“It’s for hemming the pants, fixing supper, and for using gas to bring it to me.  And if there’s anything left, it’s to help you enjoy your little vacation next week.”  (Larry, Victoria, and I are going out to the Sandhills for three days next week.)  He paused, thought about it, then added, “This isn’t enough for all that.”
“It’s more than enough!” I exclaimed, and fled for my life before he started writing out another check.  That brother of mine!
He was happy, because he’d finally found where Janice had kept the blood pressure kit, and when he checked his blood pressure, it was fairly low, and his pulse was pretty low, too.  He’s remarkably healthy, especially for his age.
Home again, I pulled up one of my Pinterest boards, ‘Borders’, and looked for fancy borders and edges.  I wanted to make this wall hanging something special
Maybe it will be a couch throw instead of a wall hanging.  My projects have growth tendencies.
Speaking of things growing... a lady on one of the quilting groups asked, “Why are mug rugs so much larger than a mug’s bottom?”
I replied, “So you can set your crumpet on it, too!” 
(I’m fixated on crumpets this week, apparently.)
Mug rugs come in all sizes, actually.  Some of mine got so big (usually by accident) that I re-termed them ‘placemats’. 
Back to the borders.  I’ve saved a number of pretty pictures:  Borders and Edges.  After looking through numerous photos and finding nothing I liked, I pulled up EQ7 and soon designed the borders.  I printed the corner blocks on thin newsprint for paper-piecing.  
EQ7 is a nifty program.  But it’s like a good recipe book, Taste of Home, which has so many interesting stories that one gets all carried away reading, and directly has to order in a pizza because it’s suddenly suppertime.  With Electric Quilt, one spends so much time playing with all the patterns, one runs out of time to quilt! 
Saturday brought another photo from Hester, this one from the Gap of Dunloe, where they were riding the narrow country lanes in a carriage drawn by horse.  Little lanes like that make me want to go exploring.  I asked Hester, “Do you shout, ‘Any Swineys (my maiden name) around this joint?!’ when you go through the villages?”
Funny, the driver had asked her if she had any Irish blood.  He said there were Swineys who lived north of where they were. 
My Uncle Bill told us after visiting there, “Every Swiney in Ireland is a relative.”  (A whole lot of others are relatives, too, having married into the family.)
I made reservations for next Thursday and Friday nights in the little town of Halsey.  We learned years ago that it’s hard to find a place to stay during rodeo times in western Nebraska and Wyoming.  Most of the rodeos are over for the season, so I wasn’t overly concerned about getting a room at the motel in Halsey.  However, it was a good thing I made the reservation after all, because they only have 11 rooms there, and there were only two left with enough beds for three people.
I listened to the football game that afternoon.  The Big Red was playing Southern Miss.  They seemed to have a player called ‘Broccoli’.  Broccoli??  Was I hearing correctly?  Okay, I had to look it up.  Hmmm... Here we go:  his name is Stephen Brauchle.  And they do indeed call him ‘Broccoli’.
When our oldest grandson Aaron was a wee little guy, he acquired a newborn cousin named Brock.  Aaron couldn’t get that straight, and called him ‘Broccoli’ for a time.  :-D
In the news lately, people are saying NASA has not told us about a giant planet or dwarf star hurtling directly our way, which will surely bring about catastrophic results.
First, I am totally and thoroughly skeptical... because... there are an awful lot of people capable of looking at the sky through great big humongous, monstrous, gargantuan lenses.  And a good many of those people are beside themselves with exultation and excitement if they ever find anything ‘new’.  And they tell the world.  Loudly.  And long.
But, even if there has been a big hush-up over this, we don’t need to worry, because no matter what’s out there careering toward earth, the Biblical prophesies about how things will end, regarding the Rapture, the Great Tribulation, Armageddon, Christ’s return, the 1,000 years of peace, and then eternity with the Lord in heaven for the saints – or eternity in the ‘lake which burneth with fire and brimstone’ for the unbelievers – will come to pass exactly as God has planned.
So we can be content to leave it all in God’s hands.  Reminds me of that wonderful old song, Safe in the Arms of Jesus.  Fanny Crosby, the dear blind hymnist, wrote it.  Here is the last verse:
Jesus, my heart’s dear Refuge, Jesus has died for me;
  Firm on the Rock of Ages Ever my trust shall be.
Here let me wait with patience, Wait till the night is o’er;
  Wait till I see the morning Break on the golden shore.

That night I finished the corner blocks for the Amazing Grace quilt.
Meanwhile, Loren was helping Larry work on the garage.  The scissor lift is coming in handy.  Since Larry leveled the ground and put down plywood for the lift to sit on, and boards under the outriggers, the thing is much sturdier.
They got the pine siding done right up into the peak.
I finally remembered to take my camera when we went to church yesterday morning, so after the service I took some photos of the construction of the new school.  That structure in the middle that rises three stories, including the basement level, will be the elevator shaft.

Last night after church, we hurried home so I could take pictures of the eclipse of the Super Moon.  Not only is it the closest the full moon will be all year, it was also a full eclipse.  We got home at 8:09 p.m. – just as the eclipse was starting.  Larry made popcorn while I went out on the deck with camera and tripod and started snapping away.  Larry came out too – and was immediately enveloped in a cloud of feasting mosquitoes.  He retreated back into the laundry room and sat on a barber stool just inside the screen patio door.  I, on the other hand, didn’t get one solitary mosquito bite, though I was out there off and on for the majority of four hours.  Hot buttered popcorn, steaming coffee, a large wooden deck out in the country, an owl hooting in the maple tree, a cat purring underfoot, and an eclipse going on.  What more could a person ask?
I took enough photos that it’s going to take me until the next eclipse to sort through them all.  :-D

Teddy called to ask if I knew the moon was ‘getting covered up’, and then he asked if we could hear his kids running up and down the road laughing from clear over here.  (We’re perhaps a quarter of a mile west of them.) 
“Is that what that is!” I said.  “I thought it was coyotes.”
(He gave me the opening; I cannot be blamed for stepping through.)  (And he did laugh.)
Victoria got a new Samsung smartphone last night at Wal-Mart.  She wanted an iPhone, but iPhones need AT&T, so they said – and there are no towers anywhere around here.
Once again, ladies on one of the quilting groups are discussing irons.
This is from my journal of March 7, 2011, posted last year about this time in response to a similar Needle Notes topic; some of you may remember it.  Here it is again, with an update on the iron I liked so well last year:
I was sewing an apron one night back in March of 2011 when my iron went kaput.  I can’t sew without an iron!  Sooo... I did what I do best:  I gathered up the iron and dashed up the steps, calling “Larrrrryyy!” as I went.
Larry then did what he does best:  he took a nap.
When the nap was over (shortly, thanks to teenagers in the house), he got out screw drivers, pliers, and monkey wrenches, and pried open said iron, whether said iron wanted to be pried open or not
After disconnecting and reconnecting various wires numerous times, he came to a conclusion:  “It’s the automatic shut-off that’s causing the problem.”  He next came to a solution:  “I will override the automatic shut-off.”
With that, he reconnected the wires, turned the dial, felt of the bottom of the iron, quit feeling it really fast, whistled in a ‘letting out the heat’ sort of way, unplugged it, and proclaimed victory. 
He put the iron back together and plugged it in again. 
It proceeded to heat up without benefit of the dial being turned to ‘On’.
And it continued to heat.
It heated until it snapped and crackled.  It heated until it smoked and stank of electrical malfunction and extremely high temperature.  I tell you, that thing got so hot, it would have smoothed out the fur of a Himalayan yak in two seconds flat.
Larry belatedly unplugged the errant thing while I dashed around holding my nose, opening windows, turning on fans, and shouting, “Open the windows!  Turn on the fans!”
Since I had no more Appliance Smoke, nor did I have an Appliance Smoke Applicator, nor do they sell either of the above items in any known shop uptown, I concluded that a new iron was in order.  I cannot sew without an iron!
I accordingly curled my hair all cute-like, and put on going-to-town hosiery in anticipation of paying a visit to Wal-Mart’s home appliance department after taking Victoria to school.  I didn’t look like a person who would murder an iron in cold blood, nor yet one who would bring in a hired killer to do the job!
{Did I?}
*          *          *
Fast Forward:  The Rest of the Story
I went to Wal-Mart. . . stood on my tiptoes to reach (with difficulty) the irons on the display racks (do they think that people under 5’3” should not iron?!). . .  selected my iron. . . and trotted home again. 
Now, I have to have a good iron.  I use it nearly every day, and it’s on for umpteen hours, nearly every one of those days it’s in use.  It has to steam well, have lots of holes out of which to steam, steam well, have a good point on it, steam well, have a stainless steel plate, steam well, and be heavy enough that I don’t have to push on it as I use it.  And it has to steam well.
Sooo. . . I got one that was regularly $49.95 – on sale for $39.95.  The only one on sale – and the very one I needed.  I got a $3 one-year replacement plan with it.  It was a Shark Professional Removes the Toughest Wrinkles 2X Steam Power X-Tended Steam Burst Technology Self-Cleaning Multi-Position Auto Shut-Off Anti-Drip XL Premium Stainless Steel Soleplate Intelligent Electronic Temperature Control iron.
I. Was. Ready. To. Iron.
I marched off to do battle with scant ¼” seams.
*    *    *
Another fast forward:
The Shark was demolished by a lightning two or more years ago, and I bought a Rowenta DG5030 Pro Iron Steam Station on SewItsForSale for a very good price – $50 + $20 shipping.  It’s a $170 iron.  One of those with a separate water reservoir.  It was coming from South Carolina, and was supposed to arrive January 6th. 
It didn’t come.  Tracking showed it had gone from South Carolina to Florida – and there the trail ended.  I wrote and called and requested a trace.  The sender must do that, they said; so the lady set about trying to do so.
The iron finally came on the 21st of January.  I’d given it up as lost for good.  The box was nearly demolished, and the little water funnel had a small chip out of it.  The on/off switch didn’t work exactly right, but if I pressed on it fairly hard and held it for a moment, it stayed on.  Maybe it was just cold – it was only 0° out there when the mailman came, and the wind chill was -13°.  I put water into the reservoir, turned the iron on, and let it warm up. 
Lo and behold, everything worked perfectly, and it steamed like the Canadian Pacific engine crossing Kicking Horse Pass. 
I have been using the Rowenta Steam Station for about two years now, and I absolutely love it.  Because water is not stored in the iron itself, it is lightweight and easy to handle, but heavy enough to press well without having to push on it.
Now, I know this letter is extremely long, but I have oooooone more itty bitty little tale, one that happened about 20 years ago:
Once upon a time. . . I was ironing.  Yep.
There I was, in a gigantic hurry, getting ready for church, ironing my dress – when the iron ran out of water.
But I’m such a well-prepared person, I’d left a glass of water on the dresser for the very purpose of filling the iron.
I snatched it up, poured it in, and went back to ironing.
Only it wasn’t water.
It was grapefruit juice.
It had been in a sepia-colored glass, and I’d thought the stuff was clear.  Water.
So off I went to church, smelling remarkably like ummy-yummy tutti-fruiti.  Burnt ummy-yummy tutti-fruiti.
The end.
Or at least the end of that story.
There are still a dozen paragraphs to go, in this letter.  (Small paragraphs; don’t panic.)
Today I uploaded photos from our trip to Smith Falls to my blog: 
Aarrgghh!!!  The neighbors to the north are having a local landscape company apply weed-and-feed to their lawn.  There’s a man out there walking the large yard, spraying as he goes – and the wind is from the north!  I didn’t realize it until I smelled it, and now I’m coughing, and just that fast, I have a headache and my throat is swelling.  Ugh!  Okay... I’ve shut the windows and door (bah, humbug – it was such a lovely day), and have turned on the air conditioner. 
Since I had my camera yesterday afternoon, we took Shady Lake Road home – and found these horses just waiting for me to take their pictures.

This evening, Larry stopped by Teddy’s house.  The children were all clustered around a tree... saw him coming... came running to meet him... several jumping up and down in excitement – and Biscuit the white Lab came running, too, ball in mouth, hoping for a game.
But... there was something more important to be done.  Jeffrey had shown one of the new kittens the aforementioned tree – and the kitten had done what kittens do best:  climb.  Up.  Higher and higher.  And kittens (and cats), of course, have a whole lot more troubles coming down than they do going up, because of the angle of their claws.
So Larry had everyone move safely out of the way, then pulled his pickup under the tree, climbed up on his tool box, and coaxed one small kitten down to his hand.  It came, slipping, catching its poor little neck on small twigs, sometimes momentarily going up instead of down, but it finally got close enough that he could reach it.  He extracted it from the tree and then cuddled it up close as he jumped down from his pickup.
The kitten purred loudly.
The kids would’ve purred, too, had they possessed the wherewithal.  They did, however, go back to jumping up and down.  That is, those who weren’t carrying the kitten jumped up and down.
And they all lived happily ever after.
Or at least, they will until one of the kittens scrambles up a tree again.
(And for all you uncompassionate, dopey people out there who are wanting to ask me (in a sarcastic tone), “How many cat skeletons have you seen in trees?” I wish to ask you:  “Have you never heard of gravity, you dope?”)
And with that, I’m outa here.

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

Eclipse of the Super Moon

Tonight after church, we hurried home so I could take pictures of the eclipse of the Super Moon.  Not only is it the closest the full moon will be all year, it was also a full eclipse.  We got home at 8:09 p.m. – just as the eclipse was starting. 
Larry made popcorn while I went out on the deck with camera and tripod and started snapping away.  Larry came out too – and was immediately enveloped in a cloud of feasting mosquitoes.  He retreated back into the laundry room and sat on a barber stool just inside the screen patio door.  I, on the other hand, didn’t get one solitary mosquito bite, though I was out there off and on for the majority of four hours.  Hot buttered popcorn, steaming coffee, a large wooden deck out in the country, an owl hooting in the maple tree, a cat purring underfoot, and an eclipse going on.  What more could a person ask?
I took enough photos that it’s going to take me until the next eclipse to sort through them all.  :-D  But here are a few (and some of Teensy, who kept me company).  (Tabby did, too; but he spent his time sitting directly behind my feet, so that if I backed up I’d step on him, and then give him lots of apologies and petting).
Teddy called to ask if I knew the moon was ‘getting covered up’, and then he asked if we could hear his kids running up and down the road laughing from clear over here.  (We’re perhaps a quarter of a mile west of them.) 
“Is that what that is!” I said.  “I thought it was coyotes.”
(He gave me the opening; I cannot be blamed for stepping through.)  (And he did laugh.)

{Click to enlarge, and use your keyboard arrows to navigate through the photos.}

See the stars?

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Construction -- of Schools and Houses

I took my camera with us to church this morning, and after the services, took some photos of the construction of the new school.  That structure in the middle that rises two stories (three, counting the basement) is the elevator shaft.

On the way home, we drove by Jeremy and Lydia's house.  Jeremy has removed the brick and stone from the front of their house, and will use it again on the new house.  The new basement walls are done.

We continued on home on Shady Lake Road.

The old gray donkey.  He's been at this farmplace for years and years.

Can you tell he was talking to me?  He was making all sorts of funny noises, squeaking, wheezing, whining, snorting, groaning...  Too bad I don't know Donkese, or we could have carried on quite the conversation.

Our house is just north of those two outbuildings up there.