February Photos

Monday, October 26, 2015

Tumbles and Jumbles and Squirrels and Girls

Last Tuesday, I did some bookwork, paid some bills, scanned some pages for insurance claims...  and then went to the post office and Sew What, our local quilt shop, for fabric prints to use for trees, the wood sides of the cabin, pebbles, grass, and sky. 
The owner, my friend Jo, was there, so I took in my Mosaic Lighthouse quilt to show her.  A few customers came closer to watch the show, though they hung back and didn’t say anything.
One of the ladies who works there asked, “How did you do this edge?” (tabs and cording)
I said, “Well, first I sewed these 20 gazillion tabs, and then it belatedly occurred to me that there needed to be a hole on each side for the cording to go into, so I used my handy-dandy little seam ripper to make 40 gazillion holes in each corner.”
After that, everyone was friendly.  :-D  People are usually willing to be friendly with someone who has the same or worse difficulties than they do.
Shortly after I got home, Lydia came visiting with Jacob and Jonathan.  She brought me a birthday present – a lovely bag she’d made, using the smocking/pleater we gave her, and inside were three pretty handmade soaps.
Earlier this month, Bobby and Hannah gave me a hand-painted bluebird key holder and a figurine.
From Caleb and Maria I got a Pumpkin Apple Harvest candle and a soft kitchen mat; and from Teddy and Amy, a set of wool socks, Nutella, various chocolates, and a nifty new purple Contigo coffee mug that keeps hot things hot for about six hours.
Andrew and Hester gave me gifts they got in Ireland:  a soft blue 100% merino wool scarf, chocolates, a printed crest and short history of the Swiney family (that’s my maiden name), and three little jars of jellies and honey.
A friend, upon hearing that I’d had a birthday, asked, “You’re *still* having birthdays?” 
I retorted, “How else am I supposed to get presents??”
Lydia took Jacob and Jonathan for a walk over on the Old Highway.  When they got back, Jacob had a couple of things for me:  milkweed pods gone to seed, and a little corncob.
I showed him which parts of the milkweed were seeds, explaining that the fluffy stuff makes the seeds fly in the wind.  
“Oh!” he exclaimed, “So they can get planted other places!”
He’s interested in, oh, just everything.
That afternoon, I hemmed a couple pairs of pants for my brother, and then hemmed a dress for Lydia.  The dress was 95% poly and 5% spandex.  That was the slipperiest stuff I’ve ever tried to hem, bar none.  It outdid any silk, satin, taffeta, velvet, or crepe I’ve sewn before – and I thought some of that was bad.  I serged the edge, folding it up, pinned it, and started stitching.  
After waging a valiantly war for three inches or so, I thought, What’s the matter with me??  I know how to conquer this stuff!  I hopped up, trotted into the other sewing room, grabbed a bolt of lightweight, wash-away stabilizer, sliced off a narrow piece, laid it right on top of the hem, tucked an end under the presser foot, and sewed.
Voilá.  A perfect hem.  The stabilizer rinsed out easily, and soon the dress was hanging over the tub, dripping dry.  (Yes, I read the washing-instructions tag before applying wash-away stabilizer.)
You can even put that stabilizer on both sides of a hem or seam, top and bottom, and you’ll wind up with a very nice stitch and the fabric won’t stretch or slip one iota.  I’ve run out of tear-away, and all I have is wash-away – which worked fine, since the dress is washable.  You don’t want to use that on something that’s not washable though, or something that would look stained if you only got part of it wet.  Wash-away is better than tear-away if the fabric is so fine it would distort it when you tear the stabilizer away.
I have since ordered some lightweight tear-away stabilizer.  It’s good to have both the wash-away and the tear-away on hand.
That done, I finished the blocks for the skewed log cabin section of the Long Pine wall hanging. 
Wednesday, I put the skewed blocks together, with a pebble print at the sides to represent the path to the front of the cabin.  Then I started on the cabin itself.  By church time that night, I had the templates for the appliqué all cut from freezer paper.
One afternoon I went upstairs to get something in Victoria’s room.  It looked so pretty, newly painted and all her furniture back in place, including a few new pieces, such as the pretty jewelry armoire she got for a smashing bargain from J. C. Penney's.  I scurried back downstairs to grab my camera.  You can see more photos here:  Victoria’s Room & Autumn Flowers.  She still needs to repair the bed ruffle and put it back on.  Or perhaps she’s hoping her mother will do it for her?
The walls are pale gray – but with her pink floor lamp and the touches of mauve and burgundy in the room, they look sort of rosy lavender.  She did a good job, and is very happy with it.  I’d never have chosen gray, but she likes it, and it is her room, after all.  I don’t dislike it as much as I thought I would.  She reupholstered the bench (below, far left) with fabric she got at Hobby Lobby.
Victoria’s boss at Earl May Gardening Center loved the pumpkin chiffon pie she made last week so well, he told her to take all the pie pumpkins she could possibly use – free!  The boss, a 40-something single man, and the assistant manager, a 20-something single lady, were totally astonished that Victoria could (and would) make a real, live, honest-to-goodness pumpkin pie, completely from scratch, crust and all.  They acted like they’d never heard of such a thing. 
So on Wednesday, Victoria baked another pumpkin and then made two pies in her new ceramic pie plates – a big one, and a small personal-sized one.
And! – she gave the personal-sized pie to a boy, after church Wednesday evening.  His name is Kurt.
It’s getting really serious, when one makes a boy a pie.  He thanked her, and said it looked so good, he would save part of it for work the next day.  He works with Larry, Teddy, Bobby, and Caleb, and they all like him, saying he’s a hard worker, and pleasant to work with.  Often when Larry drives the boom truck to a job and the men are sitting around having lunch, there is one who gets up and comes to help him:  Kurt.  He did that before he took a real shine to Victoria, too; so he wasn’t even trying to rack up points, but was just being his helpful self.
Some time after he got home with the pie, Kurt sent his cousin Robin (Victoria’s good friend) a picture ----- of an empty pie dish.  :-D  He hadn’t had time for supper before church, and was hungry.  And the pie was good.  He done et the whole thing.
Victoria and her friends, including Kurt, have been enjoying getting together on Friday nights and playing tennis, volleyball, basketball, or baseball most of the summer.  But this coming Wednesday, Kurt and Victoria are going to have an Official Date.
Larry and I had a picnic on our very first date at a place called Oconee Syphon, just a mile or two from where we live right now. 
I had just turned 17; Larry was days from his 17th birthday.  After our picnic (I’d packed enough food for an army, as usual), we climbed a hill and headed down the other side to a small pool, hoping to see the granddaddy bullfrogs that had serenaded us while we ate.  Larry went down the little trail first, and I followed.  It was getting dark, and I tripped over an unseen tree root. 
I tumbled down the hill, smacked into my new beau, knocked him flat, sat on him, and squooshed all the air out of him, even though I didn’t weigh an ounce over 100 pounds, dripping wet. 
I spent the day Thursday, in between a few loads of clothes, making little appliqué pieces for the Long Pine cabin and putting together a background.  Meanwhile, Loren worked outside on our yard, using his weedeater to take down tall weeds around some of the flowerbeds and on the back drive, where bindweed was making a valiant attempt to capture several of Larry’s wheeled vehicles.  I put some food into Loren’s pickup for him to take home when he was done.
That night, I was working away in my sewing room.  Victoria came downstairs to take a shower.  When she headed back upstairs, she absentmindedly flipped the switch that turns out the lights in the entire basement, except for the smaller sewing room.  My marble table and newer sewing machine is in the larger area. 
I sent the distracted girl a text:
“Thump thump thump This is me, walking into walls Thump Thump Thump because someone Thump turned the lights out THUMP on me.  THUMP.”
The answer:  “Oopssss.”
Speaking of thumping into things...  One Sunday evening after church a month or so ago, I was sitting in the Jeep waiting for Larry, who got stalled out chatting with a friend, and watching for my brother, because I needed to give him something.  I saw him come out and head for his vehicle, so I opened my door...
Now, the Jeep is high enough that all I have to do is swivel to the side, stick my legs out, and sliiiiiiiiide, letting gravity do all the work.  I’m always in a big toot, so I do all this at once, and am well on my way by the time the door shuts behind me.
My foot – the foot with which I needed to catch myself – got thoroughly stuck on something, I have no idea what.  I jerked it hard, but it wouldn’t come loose.  It was stuck.
And I was already on my way out, letting gravity do all the work, as previously noted.
WHAM.  I landed on the tarmac, knee first.  Because I tried to catch myself by grabbing the door handle, I broke blood vessels on the inside of my ring finger, from palm to first knuckle.
Now, my mother taught me (by example, if not by word) that the first thing to do in such cases, is to leap immediately to your feet.  The second thing to do is to glance surreptitiously around and make sure nobody saw you.  The third thing to do is to rush off as if that never happened.  I, being of the same disposition as my mother in these circumstances, followed her directives to the letter.  Well, almost. 
Somewhere in the parking lot behind me, the last pickup was backing up and leaving.  They paused momentarily, perhaps to see if I was alive or dead, and then I heard them continue — but I didn’t look around (partly because I am stiff enough that ‘turning around to see who’s behind me’ is saved for emergencies, and partly in order to pretend nothing happened – I was just collecting leaves and suchlike, you know).  Most people were already gone, thankfully.  Me has me pride! 
Caleb will be able to have his puppy in just a couple of weeks.  He’s getting anxious! 
When I was 12, I got a dog.  She was part German Shepherd and part Collie – a big dog – and The Most Wonderful Dog in the World.  She liked to sleep on the bed with me – the habit got started when she was a wee little puppy, and crying for her mother that first night.  She’d jump up beside me, tuck her nose under my chin, and go to sleep.
Two or three years later, I got a waterbed.  The kind without baffles.  The kind that had major tides if you sneezed.  We filled it and warmed it.
I went to bed.
Sparkle came trotting in, and up she jumped in her usual boisterous way.  Dowwwwwwn went the displaced water (and the dog), sloshing to the other side of the bed. . . then back it came, in a rising tide.
FloooooooopWHOOOOOOOSH!!  That wave bucked the poor doggy straight back out of the bed.  She landed on the floor, looking stunned.  I couldn’t quit laughing; her face looked soooo funny.  She stared at me reproachfully, then barked her ‘wwwooooooffff-oooof!’ noise of ‘hey, you tricked me!’  Then, with a deep sigh, she curled up on the rug beside the bed. 
And that was the last time she ever tried sleeping on the bed.  It was sort of nice to have my bed to myself again, but I sort of missed her, too. 
Once upon a time, long, long ago in the days of youth (i.e., ‘less experience’) (and less brains, too, but we won’t mention that now), I tried to teach our calico Kitty to use the toilet.  I bought the equipment (with its great hype spread far and wide, assuring us of immediate success) and put it in place on a toilet in the bathroom adjoining the spare bedroom.
Kitty soon found it.  Surprised, she walked all the way around it, sniffing.  She stood on her hind legs and took a look.  She scooped at the litter with her paw.  Yep, it was indeed litter.
She jumped up on it to give it a try.
And then the flimsy litter container gave way and the cat went into the drink, ker-SPLOOOSH.
Operation aborted!!!  Operation aborted!!!
If I hadn’t’ve laughed so hard, perhaps the poor humiliated feline would have forgiven me sooner.
(No, she never did learn the trick.  Nor did I attempt to teach her again.)
I took Loren some food Friday evening – Angus meatloaf burgers, pierogies with country-style gravy, mixed vegetables, pumpkin chiffon pie (made by Victoria), and grape jello.
That night, I finished the pieces for the Long Pine cabin, drew and cut templates for the trees, cut the fabric, starched and ironed the edges, and began putting them in place, gluing things down in preparation for the appliquéing.  We’ve decided to take this wall hanging to the people who own the cabin, and stay overnight, maybe next week. 
Saturday, I got all the pieces appliquéd.  Now I’ll put on a narrow border and quilt it.
Loren was here working on weeds in the front yard, and he ran into poison ivy under the cedar tree.  He came in quickly to wash with ivory soap, and seems to have escaped without any aftereffects, thankfully.  He’s quite allergic to it.
Our brother-in-law John H. called while he was here to tell him that our friend Delmar Tucker had just passed away.  Delmar was Jeremy and Maria’s grandfather.  I was the flowergirl for Delmar and his wife Helen (John H.’s sister) when they were married in 1963.  Helen lived at our house when I was a toddler, so she’s always been like a big sister to me.
Delmar was 74, and had suffered from Alzheimer’s for a number of years.  That disease is one of the hardest on families.  With many of the family helping every day, they managed to keep him at home.  But it wasn’t easy.  It’s more than physically exhausting; it drains a person emotionally, too.  I’m glad we have an eternity in heaven with our loved ones to look forward to.
It’s a paradox, isn’t it? – on one hand, it’s sad to lose a dear one... but then, he was lost already, to the Alzheimer’s.  Such a terrible disease, isn’t it?  So, on the other hand, it’s a relief that he is no longer suffering, and we know we’ll see him again someday.
Sunday morning, I made the coffee, as usual.  We have a Bunn coffee maker.  One puts a filter into the basket... spoons either freshly-ground or already-ground-when-you-buy-it coffee into the filter... pours water into the reservoir... and three minutes later, one has a 12-cup pot of coffee in an insulated stainless steel pot that keeps it warm for hours, without one of those warming plates that makes the coffee taste burnt after a while.  I like to stick my cup under the coffee as it’s coming out, let the cup fill halfway, exchange cup for pot quickly before any coffee drips on the base, and then fill the rest of my cup with hot water.  Larry says I ‘skim the cream’.
After church last night, knowing this would be a busy day with a hundred things to do and visitation at the church tonight, I thought I’d work on my weekly.  Trouble was, by 1:00 a.m., I could no longer keep my eyes open.  When that happens, I either need to hit the hay or watch airplane crashes on youtube, one or the other.  I chose... hay.
This morning, Victoria, at work at Earl May, potted a large umbrella plant that we will give to the Tucker family for Delmar’s funeral.  She chose a big brown color-washed ceramic pot.  Much better than that scrawny (and horribly expensive) plant we wound up with last time, when I ordered online! 
There goes the crabby neighbor lady’s cute little dog to use the yard-fussy neighbors’ pristine lawn.  She never cleans up after him, either.  Oops, here he comes to our side of the lane...
Okay, I’m going to go whistle for him.
I’m baaaaaack!  (Did you miss me?)  The crabby neighbor lady’s cute little dog is so timid, all you have to do is whistle and hold out your hand to him, and he skedaddles for home, as fast as his short, curly-furred legs can take him, curly-furred ears flapping all the way.  ((giggle))
Now he’ll use his own yard, Mrs. Crabbypants will step in it, and crab loudly enough for the entire hillside to hear.  ((snicker))
He’s a sweet little dog, but he’s scared of his own shadow.  He doesn’t usually run around loose; he’s actually well taken care of, and only out when the owners are.  Besides, we live out in the country, and nobody cares if a small, nice dog trots beyond its territory for a bit. 
However, two or three years ago, some neighbors had a big dog, part Doberman and part Lab, and while it started out cute as could be as a puppy, it got BIG, and they had no more idea on training a dog than an elephant does on knitting a scarf. 
And they let him run loose.
He began killing his own owners’ cats.  He didn’t start out doing it on purpose; he was just playing too rough.  But once they get a taste for blood, a dog is pretty well gone bad, in that regard, at least.
When we saw that, our hair stood straight up on end – because that dog often came loping through our yard – and we had four cats.
A few months later, we saw the big dog dead down on the highway, a quarter of a mile to our south.  It’s never nice to see a big, handsome, young dog killed by a car – but I have to say, we were relieved he was gone.
Okay, I said, half a dozen paragraphs back, that nobody cares if the pooch trots loose.  I lied.
Because... I cared, one Sunday afternoon, when Larry stepped in what the mutt left in our yard, and then, because his schnozz has gone past its warranty so that he didn’t detect the misstep, came traipsing straight into my kitchen.
Better believe, I chased him straight back out!
Properly sheepish, he cleaned his shoes and left them on the garage steps.  So his indignant wife relented and let him back in the house.
While I was trotting about whistling at scaredy-cat dogs, I filled the bird feeder and took photos of blue jays, squirrels, and Tabby Cat.  It’s 61° here, sunny and pretty.  I opened windows and patio door – and then put on fuzzy socks and a sweater. 
Now I’ve ordered Sulky stabilizer, a cute pattern, and thread from CreateForLess.com.  I would’ve needed to order $100 worth of merchandise to get free shipping.  Bah, humbug; I didn’t need that much stuff!  Sometimes I’m just not rich enough to save money.  heh
I like to listen to the blue jays (they make multitudes of noises, and imitate sounds almost as well as mocking birds do), the squirrels, the juncos...  Now the Harris’ sparrows, biggest sparrows in the Northern Hemisphere, are migrating through.  They’re such cute little things.  I like birds!  And animals.   
Time to go to the visitation at church.  I shall return...
When a friend dies, many old memories come to mind.  When I was about three years old, I stayed with Delmar and Helen one evening.  We had a rousing game of hide and seek, and Delmar tucked me up on a shelf in a closet, and told me to be very, very quiet. 
I lay there as still as a mouse.  Along came Helen, sliding open the closet door and saying, “Where’s Henny?  I can’t find Henny.”
That was a name I had called myself when I was about a year old.  It was a spin-off from ‘Sarah Lynny’, which was what she had called me. 
I called her, ‘Haney’:  “Henny and Haney are going to read!” I’d announce, and run for a book.  She accidentally taught me to read – and no one realized it for a while, because they just thought I had all my little books memorized (which I did, but! – I was reading). 
Anyway, that name ‘Henny’ had nearly died out.  So when she said, “Where’s Henny?” I nearly laughed aloud, and had to work very hard indeed to contain myself.  She knew that would happen, I’m sure, and said it just to make me betray myself.
Away she went again, still looking.  In rushed Delmar.  He lifted me down and whispered, “Hide behind the door, and pop out and say ‘boo’ when she comes back, and don’t tell her where the real hiding place is!”
Thus, we kept that hidey hole a secret, Delmar and I, for some little while.
Larry didn’t get off work in time to make it to the visitation tonight, though he gave it a valiant attempt.  I met him heading for the church as I was leaving.  Since visitation hours were actually over, he parked his pickup at the shop, and then we went to put gas in the Jeep and get some nachos at Amigos.  We ordered them to go, and drove out to the powerhouse to eat them.
Fact:  I do not like Buffalo Ranch Chicken Nachos.  I managed to plow my way through almost half of them before I could plow no farther.  That was enough.  Why, oh why, did they stop making those scrumptious Chicken Fajita Nachos??
Now we are home again, and my hard-working husband is putting some of his energies to work – right here in his very own house:  He’s vacuuming!  Once he gets started at something, he really does it up good.  He’s vacuumed upper corners of walls... remote corners behind doors... and rugs and floor, too.
Maybe he’s trying to help Victoria put the best foot forward for her new beau??
Now he’s bouncing the end of the vacuum tube up and down on my fuzzy-sock-clad foot.  He’s not a whole lot different in general attitude than when we were 18. 
Time for bed.  Don’t let me forget to make sandwiches tomorrow morning for the luncheon after the funeral!

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

Squirrels, Blue Jays, and Tabby Cat