February Photos

Monday, December 25, 2017

Journal: Christmas Time... and a New Avanté Longarm

Kurt, Victoria, and a sleeping 
Baby Carolyn in the church foyer
Last Monday, Larry helped me ---- uh, let me rephrase that:  I mostly watched, while Larry carried eight very large bins of photo albums from the upstairs room (Victoria’s old room) where my new (to me) Avanté longarm and studio frame were going to go and into the room that used to be my little office/sewing room. 
Tuesday afternoon, I went to help one of my blind friends with her computer – and actually remembered to pick up Larry’s forgotten suits at the cleaners first.  Last Sunday, he’d found yet another nice suit that he’d once grown out of, which now fits.  (Maybe I should’ve left the suits at the cleaners for a couple more weeks, so he could find even more nice older suits, heh.)
Do you recall that last week I asked why the person with the loud grievance was always in front of me at the post office? 
Well, guess what happened at the cleaners, when I was in such a gigantic hurry?
No, nobody with a loud grievance this time.  Rather, it was a man who was obviously good friends with the lady who owns the laundromat.  So they launched into dialogue, first discussing what they had done for Thanksgiving, where all their children live, what each does for a living, how many grandchildren they have, what they are planning to do for Christmas, and everything in between and thereafter.
Not wanting to interfere with the Christmas spirit, I just stood there (and stood there) (and stood there some more) and smiled politely every time they glanced my way.  I am not the Grinch.
It took about an hour to get Linda’s computer back shipshape, as I had to download a new antivirus program, switch her default browser from Internet Explorer to Firefox, reset the home-page and new tab page, and update Java. 
But before long, the PC had been whipped into shape.  “Take that, you chunk of self-important technology, you!”  (It has a penchant for throwing tantrums the very week before Christmas.)  Linda was happy.  I was happy.
Linda gave me a box of Ferocious Roaches (à la Caleb, age 5 or 6, referring to Ferrero Roches), two of which vanished before I got home.
I went to Wal-Mart for more stick-on labels for the backs of the grandchildren’s picture collage.  Home again, I printed the rest of the labels, printed my Christmas letter, and put it into the Christmas cards.  I really like to get my letter sent out earlier, because I like to find responses to it in the Christmas cards people send me! 
The menu for our supper was a little odd that night, because I simply grabbed the first things that jumped (or fell) out of the refrigerator, cupboard, and freezer:  ancient-grain encrusted cod, steamed broccoli, Campbell’s chicken noodle soup, bing cherries (Schwan’s, and they were still frozen) --- and I thought we’d have the last couple of multi-grain pancakes Larry made Sunday for dessert.  They have cornmeal in them, and we always like that – plus, Larry added a couple cartons of Dole peach parfait to the mix.  Mmm, mmmm.
I was really hungry when I started fixing the food, which is why I fixed more than usual.  But I ate two entrées (a serving of broccoli and a bowl of soup), and I was full – and there were three more entrées to go.  Nevertheless, I went right ahead and ate the rest of my share, albeit at a little slower pace than that with which I started.  I’m valiant that way.  heh  One needn’t have much of an appetite at all to happily slurp on frozen bing cherries. 
Wednesday, wanting to be sure I had things looking fairly decent when the man arrived with the longarm, I texted Larry, “Did you find out when they’re going to bring the Avanté?”
His answer:  “No, I want it to be a surprise for you 😂😎🤔😘
He let that ride for an hour, and then finally wrote , “It’s Friday at 2:30 PM.”
My pictures arrived a little after noon.  I stuck labels to the backs, slid them into the cards I needed to mail, rushed to the post office – and realized I needed to fill the Jeep with gas, if I wanted to get home and then back to church later that evening.  There were de-icer trucks on the highway.  When I got home, I looked at the forecast, and saw that we were going to have freezing drizzle in the morning, mixed with snow the rest of the day, and 30 mph winds.  Every day for the next week, the temperature would be dropping lower... lower... lower...
I finished putting pictures into the cards we would take to church.  I was 17 pictures short!  How did that happen?  I could print them myself – but it takes an awful lot of ink.  And printer ink is made out of molten gold.  Did you know that?  Or maybe it’s platinum.  Rhodium!
Hmmmm... I had enough photo paper... and I did just install some new ink cartridges, but they weren’t the XLs with the greater amount of ink.  I decided to print until I ran out of ink.
If I ran out of magenta first, and everyone looked greenish, I would give those pictures to people who never feel well; they’d be the most sympathetic.  Right?
I managed to print eight pictures before the cyan ran out and everybody turned pinkish-magenta.  Plumb embarrassed they were.  I did have another cyan cartridge, so I might have had enough ink to print the rest of the pictures, had my printer not had trouble pulling the slippery photo paper far enough in before starting to print.  Several people were not only embarrassed, they were also beheaded.
Soooo... I trimmed the pictures that weren’t all there, and gave several of the grandsons partial pictures after church.  So long as that particular child was in the photo, embarrassed or not, he was plumb delighted with his picture collage.
I was nine pictures short – but I’d made points with a few little grandsons!
I had put the photo onto a thumb drive, so after church that night we went to Wal-Mart to make a few more pictures. 
But I couldn’t get pictures – the photo kiosk had already been shut down for the evening.
Bah, humbug.  They used to let those things run all night!  I suppose somebody printed their photos... and then absconded without paying.  Somebody always has to ruin things for the rest of us.
We trotted over to the toy department and got all the rest of the grandkiddos’ gifts.  Up one aisle and down the next... down an aisle and up another.  I had my list in hand, and carefully chose toys to match ages, and also tried to match general type and size of toy for similar age of child.  It simply doesn’t do to give 8-year-old Jacob a large Tonka truck whilst giving 7-year-old Levi a very small electronic box, never mind whether or not the items cost the very same amount. 
I got a few things for my brother, sister, brother-in-law, and mother-in-law, too.  Then we picked up some groceries and headed out.  Before leaving town, we got ourselves a couple of chicken club salads from Burger King, and took them home to eat.  We had big green Thompson grapes with them, and bottles of Pecan Cereal smoothies.  Mmmmm!  First time we’ve had those, and they were a hit.
Thursday, a couple of our far-flung children received their baskets with fruit and nuts that I’d ordered from Harry & David.  I told them:
“Be sure you follow the ‘instructions’ about when and how to eat the pears, which are almost always shipped not quite ripe.  Don’t do what Victoria did when she was about 10 or so and we got a big box of Harry and David pears from Uncle Loren and Aunt Janice:
“She of course first chose the pear in the gold foil wrap, just because it was pretty, even though I warned, ‘That foil will keep that pear green the longest.’  Finding after one bite that that pear was indeed green and quite hard, she took a bite out of another... and then another... and then another – and then her mother caught her.  😅
“So we put the pears (bitten ones and all) on the corner of the table that gets the sunlight, and waited... and waited... and waited.  And then we waited some more.  We waited with all our might and main.
“Finally, finally, a loooooong 5 or 6 days later, the pears were perfect.  Of course nobody wanted the pears with the bites out of them.
“That was all right; I merely trimmed the bitten spots off a wee bit – and wound up with the lion’s share of yummy, juicy, soft, ripe pears!  Haha!”
I launched into the sorting and wrapping and bagging of gifts that day, with vigor.  I would soon know if I have enough loot for everybody.  I hurried... and then I hurried faster.  I’m afraid my customer isn’t even going to have her quilt by January 5th, like she’s been hoping since learning I couldn’t get it done before Christmas.
Good thing the man from Country Traditions in Fremont didn’t come with the Avanté that day, as we got the promised freezing drizzle before snow began falling, and the roads were quite slick.  Our sidewalk and porch were deadly.  Larry found the salt and applied it that night – after we skidded and slipped around on it (no, we didn’t fall) on our way out to his pickup, and later on our way back into the house. 
We went to Wal-Mart again, and I ordered the pictures I hadn’t been able to print the night before.  Something was wrong with their photo kiosk – it doesn’t print instantly; I could only order pictures, and pick them up later.  We also got a couple of toys for Baby Carolyn, since whatever I’d planned to give her had evaporated into thin air.
When we got home, I discovered an email telling me my pictures were ready – and in fact had been ready from about 5 minutes after I ordered them!  I could’ve walked right over to the pick-up desk and collected them.  😕
It was 4:00 in the morning when I finished wrapping all the gifts.  I wrapped them downstairs in my sewing room (which will soon be the gift-wrapping room), and then carried them upstairs to the music room.  That was no easy task.  I had lots of boxes and bags.  Big boxes and bags.  Heavy boxes and bags.  And those basement steps have that tricky curve in them. 
I hit the hay at 4:30 a.m., and got up again at 10:45 a.m.  That’s a little more than six hours, which is allllmost enough for me.  I got up, made the bed (did you ever notice that if you have a favorite quilt on the bed, it’s more fun to make it?), put some logs on the fire in the wood-burning stove (it’s connected to the heat ducts, so spreads warmth throughout the house when the furnace fan is on), took a bath and washed my hair, filled the bird feeders, blow-dried my hair (it was cooold out there filling the feeders with damp hair! – but it would have been fruitless to blow-dry my hair before going out on the deck to fill the feeders, because the sun was melting icicles, and they were dripping right outside the patio door), made a pot of Blueberry Cobbler coffee by the New England coffee company (mmmm, mmm – this might very well be my favorite flavor), and put a few curls in my hair. 
The music room looked all festive with all the presents, and the satin and taffeta Christmas tree skirt spread out. 
It didn’t take long for the birds to find the freshly-filled feeders.  Soon there were goldfinches, house finches, English sparrows, and a little downy woodpecker helping themselves to the banquet.  I could hear cardinals nearby; they let the finches ascertain the safety at the feeders (sort of like miners with their canaries), never mind the fact that the cardinals are much bigger.  But the finches are a lot quicker on the takeoff! 
Then the blue jays came diving in with their loud, raucous calls, and all the little birds scattered, except for the downy.  Those little guys are brave!  Well, they know they’re tough, I guess – little as they are, their beaks are every bit as strong as the jays’ beaks.
Dorcas wrote to tell me that the gift we’d sent Trevor, age 1 ½, had arrived.  “Trevor loved the gifts you sent!” she wrote – and attached a picture:  There was little Trevor grinning happily from his perch inside the box.
Hee hee  I don’t know why we think we have to spend so much on children’s toys.  They like boxes!
Then he found the stuffed horses and ran off to play with them, neighing and pretending they were galloping, and didn’t even realize there were still clothes in the box.  😂
And then the man, Kevin, arrived with the Avanté and studio frame and started hauling everything in.  Larry got home in time to help.
Even the cats were excited.  Tubby ol’ Tiger was ka-thumpity-thumping up and down the steps right along with Kevin.  Fortunately, he’s timid enough (Tiger, that is; not Kevin) of strangers that he didn’t actually get himself in the way.  When Larry and I are carrying stuff hither and yon, though, it’s another story! 
In about an hour and a half, the frame was together, leveled and adjusted to the proper height (it can be changed easily, if need be), the machine seated on its carriage and the carriage set on the rails.  Kevin is fast and efficient and knows what he’s doing.
This frame is 12’ long.  My old one is 14’.  I don’t really need a 14’ frame; 12’ will be okay.  Those poles are really sturdy; they won’t sag like the old ones.
I gave the machine a try on Kevin’s ‘practice quilt’ that he brings along for the purpose.  Everything worked perfectly, and the machine rolled as smooth as silk.
Kevin said this machine is about five years old.  It has a nearly new bobbin race in it; I was glad to hear that.  I had to replace the race on my HQ16 once; it made a huge difference in stitching and tension.
You can’t tell it in the pictures, but Victoria mixed glitter in with the mauve-plum paint for the one wall.  It’s sparkly!
They gave me brand new leaders!  Furthermore, the leaders already have a casing in them, so my Red Snapper dowels can slide right in.  Kevin apologized that they weren’t marked (with inches, etc.) – but I’ve never had leaders with markings on them anyway, so I won’t miss it.  I mark the centers, and that’s it.  If the quilt is rolled on straight, there’s no problem.
When I was wrapping gifts the previous night, I’d found amongst the Christmas stuff a Christmas card Victoria had made with pretty craft paper and her ink stamps, so I addressed it to the man and his wife, Kevin and Leslie Main, who together own Country Traditions in Fremont (on Main Street, heh) ... and then I stole a bottle of that yummy Ambrosia raw honey out of one of the kids’ boxes and gave it to Kevin when he was leaving. 
Larry hurried back to work, as he needed to pick up the new pup that was built especially for his new boom truck.  I belatedly made my afternoon call to my brother Loren.  If anything, he’s more excited over the Avanté than I am.
“Can I come see it?” he asked.
“Sure!” I told him, and he was promptly on his way.
I gave him the grand tour of my quilting studio with the new quilting machine, and we looked at the rest of the upstairs, too.  Then we had to go downstairs to look at the older HQ16, so he could compare machine size and frame sturdiness.  We admired my two treadmill sewing machines, which will now have a place of honor upstairs somewhere.
There are a few things left to do in the quilting studio, but they can be done in the next few days.  We need to stain and varnish the oak flooring pieces Larry added in where there used to be a wall, and the trim around the old closet area needs to be painted.  I have decorations to put on the walls, too; but I’ll do that after all the machines and the table are in place.  Hanging pictures/ shelves/décor on the walls is one of my favorite things to do (although the plaster walls make it a bit tricky).  It always makes a room look so homey and warm, I think, once the décor is in place.
After Loren left, I barely finished cleaning the kitchen, a job interrupted when the Avanté arrived, when Larry got home from work, asking if I wanted to go with him to Menards to get some long lights for my new room.  You betcha I did!
We went to Wal-Mart first, to pick up the last few photo reprints and to get a bottle of honey to replace the one I’d stolen out of one of the kids’ boxes.  Then off we went to Menards to look at lights.
Larry was so happy to find that the exact long LED lights he wanted were on sale ($30 lights for $16.99), he got four of them.  I got a little ceramic knob with hand-painted flowers for the small nightstand that’s in the room.  It’s a pretty little piece of furniture, with extraordinary woodgrain and glowing varnish.  If I remember right, Victoria spotted it at a garage sale, and we paid only $10 for it.  There are a few mistakes on it, and we suspect a student made it in woodworking class at school.
On our way home, we stopped at our favorite Mexican food restaurant and got Burrito Grandés, and took them home with us.
Victoria posted a picture of baby Carolyn sleeping in one of those wrap things that go around the mother and also around the baby, and she wrote, “Sometimes a fussy baby turns out being a blessing after all (Carolyn was a bit fussy for a couple of days), because you cuddle them and wrap them and carry them around – and then you look down into a little face like this.”
Supper over, I went downstairs and cleaned up the Christmas gift-wrapping frenzy and turmoil I’d left down there.
Those last nine photo collages were tucked into the last nine Christmas cards.  Then I paid a heap of bills.  (Why do they all come due at the same time?)
I didn’t get back to the quilting; I was too tired by the time everything else was done.  My customer’s quilt was still on the old frame, and I plan to finish it with the HQ16, as I don’t really want to remove it from one frame and try to get it straight on another.  I can imagine disasters.
There are probably plenty of people who would take that quilt right off the old and put it on the new, posthaste – and maybe not have any problem whatsoever.  I think... I won’t try that, with a customer’s quilt.
A friend, upon seeing pictures of my new quilting studio, remarked, “Lookin’ good!  I hope you don’t bonk your head on the slant ceiling at the back of your machine.  Looks awfully close!!”
Yes, when Kevin first started putting it in place, it was too close to the slanted ceiling, as Kevin was on the other side of the frame.  Larry noticed the problem, and they scooted it a little farther toward the bookcase, and then they called me to come check it out.  I think it’ll be okay now.  Usually one good crack of the head up there in any of those rooms will do me for a few months.  Haha!
The ceiling is also slanted at the top of the stairs.  This never bothers me, but just let one of the taller menfolk in the family go up there!  I try to remember to caution everyone as they’re on their way up.  Larry plans to someday lift the slanted roof over the stairs and put in a peaked dormer.
We got used to the slanted ceilings fairly quickly.  Really quickly, every now and then.  And, like I said, one good crack of the head will usually do ya for a while.  ((...giggle...))
When we moved out here in 2003, my mother was still alive, but unable to come see the house.  So I took lots of pictures and showed them to her.  (You know I would’ve.)  She looked at them all... then remarked, “Do you like those slanted ceilings?  We had them in our big farmhouse when I was a kid, and there was one right over the bed I shared with my sister.  Seemed like I was always popping up in the middle of the night and bumping my head!”
She laughed and added, “Didn’t happen in the daytime.  I guess, in my dreams, I lived in a bedroom with high ceilings!”
Our ceilings – where they aren’t slanted – are 9’ high.  And I do like the way it looks, with the French windows in the dormers... slanted ceilings... 
I’m used to it. 
AND I’m 5’2”.  😁
Here’s a funny:  Larry and I both warned Kevin, the man who set up my quilting machine, about the slanted ceiling at the top of the stairs.  Shortly thereafter, Larry, who’s ‘used to it’, bumped his head.
He laughed, readjusted his cap, and said, “Just putting the button on my cap on a little tighter.”
His version of Chance the American bulldog in Homeward Bound:  The Incredible Journey:  “I meant to do that.”  heh
We’re thinking about what to put on the floor where I’ll be standing, so it’ll be cushioned.  Downstairs, I have thick carpet with a thick, soft pad underneath.  Quite nice.
It will be warmer in the winter upstairs.  The chimney from the wood-burning stove runs right up through that room, and that really helps.  But the basement sewing rooms and quilting studio were comfortable in the summer.  Even with the walkout basement, it was always nice and cool, even on the hottest days.  The air conditioner works good, though, and there is a window air conditioner in a small window in the hallway to supplement the central air.  But it’ll cost more to keep me cool up there!  😉
One good thing – we live right under the crest of a hill... and with those two windows, one on the north, one on the east, plus the door that opens to the rest of the upstairs where there are many other windows, there is very good airflow.  Too bad our tall Austrian pines out front all succumbed to the pine sawyer beetle!  😥  Now we only have one sorta tall (maybe 15’) cedar tree and a dozen 5’ tall blue spruces.  Oh, and four or five 3’ tall ponderosas that are much too close together, and that Larry keeps intending to move farther apart.  In his spare time, you know.  🙄
Snowflakes drifted lazily down from Saturday morning until early afternoon, finally adding up to... oh, maybe half an inch or so.
At a quarter after three, Larry and I headed to Loren’s house to exchange gifts.  Loren gave me a big, soft, soft fleece throw with a picture of a deer on it.  He gave Larry a shaving set and a box of cookies.
Before going home, we went to Tractor’s Supply and got a medium-sized pet door to go in the back door that leads into the garage.  We’ve had nothing but a piece of carpet there since removing the frame of the smaller pet door months ago, because Tiger was too big to get through it.  Well, actually, he did get through it, but barely.  When I once happened to be standing there as he came squish-bursting through, it quite alarmed me, for I figured that, had he weighed half an ounce more, he’d have been stuck tight.  He acted like it hurt, squeezing his way in like that.  So Larry removed the pet door, frame and all, and hung a piece of carpet there.
It was okay in the summer months, but definitely not for winter.
Larry put the door in as soon as we got home, and it made an immediate difference in the temperature of the kitchen floor.  Much warmer.  The cats didn’t even need any instruction as to how to use the thing, either.  In fact, Teensy seemed to be pretty much of the opinion that we had purchased that door as a toy specifically for his entertainment.  He went in and out, out and in, in and out, at least a dozen times in the first 30 minutes alone.
Having finished getting everything ready for Christmas (maybe) (I think) (at least so far as I could go at the moment), I finally had time to get back to my customer’s Christmas quilt.  I finished another row that night.  There’s still a long way to go. 
More photos here.
Sunday morning, there was about an inch of fresh, white snow on the ground.  Larry had to scoop the walks and clear off the windshield on the Jeep before we could head to church.  After the service, we put our Christmas cards – all 115 of them, plus the 32 I made out for Loren – into the appropriate bags set up in alphabetical order in the Fellowship Hall.  The young people would pass out the bags that night after our Christmas program.  I discovered two families I’d forgotten – our newest family, and their son who married one of Victoria’s friends about the same time Victoria got married.  Now they, too, have a baby girl who’s about the same age as baby Carolyn.  It’s fun when your good friends have babies about the same time, and grow up to be friends, too.
Being fresh out of Christmas cards, we grabbed a couple at Dollar General on our way home.  We would put them in the bags when we got to church that night.
Larry made his yummy waffles for our lunch.  😋
Last night, we had our Christmas program.  The band and the orchestra played... my nephew, our Pastor Robert Walker, preached from the first chapter of Luke on the story of Zacharias, and then the young people from preschool to twelfth grade sang a variety of Christmas songs and recited verses and poems.  I know I’ve said this before, but I’m going to say it again:  I think the group of children we have right now can sing better than any other group we’ve had. 
Kurt, Victoria, and a sleeping 
Baby Carolyn in the church foyer
Today we went to church at noon for our Christmas dinner.  There was roast beef... mashed potatoes and gravy... onions... sweet potatoes... green beans... lettuce salad... green or red jello... chocolate cake with some kind of crumble frosting, or cherry cheesecake... ice cream... juice, coffee, tea, milk... pickles and olives... fresh baked (and buttered) bread... A scrumptious meal.
Here are Kurt, Victoria, and a sleeping Baby Carolyn.
Tonight Larry is putting the long LED lights in my quilting studio.  At the moment, they are temporarily plugged into an extension cord, so we could tell where they needed to be positioned. Now that they are affixed to the ceiling, Larry will wire them into the ceiling fan/light fixture.
Tiger positioned himself at the top of the stairs, trying his best to stay exactly halfway between Larry in the quilting studio and me downstairs in the kitchen.
I will put my sewing machine and cutting table there in the room with the quilting machine.  I’ll leave the marble table downstairs in the pretty little sewing room, and it’ll be my gift-wrapping room.  My fabric will stay in the bins on the shelving we put into the closet down there.
We had a little skiff of snow tonight, enough to cover everything and make the world bright white in the half-moonlight – at least until the moon set at midnight.
Our family get-together is scheduled for Thursday night.  We’re going to take pizza, a large vegetable tray with dip, and Martinelli’s Unfiltered apple juice.  I hope the ones who have been sick – Hester, Emma, Josiah, Elsie, maybe more – are well enough to come by then.

I need to git bizzy.  Too much to do.  But... right now... right this very moment... I’m going to do some exercising whilst a-reading the daily funnies.  That’s a really important thing to do, don’t you think?  Not too dangerous... not too nerve-wracking (unless Mary Worth pokes her nose into yet another person’s business, the ol’ busybodying biddy)... and not too stupefying (unless I loiter too long over Mark Trail, who’s been habbin a real debbil ub a time with a tornado in South Dakota since, oh, maybe, last March or so).  The amazing thing about some comics is that the writer goes on writing, day after day after day after day, even though he’s managed to render his entire readership comatose.  Which is precisely what you will be if I don’t sign off right here.

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

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Photo: Teensy in Thermabed

The Life of Riley

Monday, December 18, 2017

Journal: Christmas Quilt, Christmas Gift(!), Christmas Orders...

One more week until Christmas!  I still have quite a few gifts to buy, and nary a solitary item – except for the gift I mailed to little Trevor today – has been wrapped or bagged.
I remember what grand fun it was, the first time I chose and purchased gifts for my parents.  I thought I bought them with my very own money, because Mama gave me the money, and once she gave it to me, it was mine, right?  Thus, I bought them gifts with my very own money.  I still recall my glee as I put them under our Christmas tree.
I remember thinking, That verse sure is true, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive,’ because this is so much fun!
In order to get my mother’s Christmas present, she drove me uptown to Schweser’s... and then let me go in the store all by myself while she waited in the car.  I was soooooo thrilled, and felt soooo grown up.  The ladies in the store knew me, and a couple came hurrying to help me.  I told them how much money I had, for whom I needed a gift, and they set about helping me find something to my liking.
I wound up getting Mama an aurora borealis necklace – that is, the beads were of crystal, and cut with many facets, so they shimmered and glimmered all sorts of colors in the light.  I loved that necklace.  I could hardly wait ’til Christmas, so I could give it to my mother.  The ladies at Schweser’s wrapped the gift for me... I trotted back out to the car... gave Mama back the change... and sat in silent, secretive rapture all the way home.  I suppose I was five or six; I know I was in school, and well able to count out the money when I paid for the necklace, and to be sure I got the correct change.
And since I know good and well someone is going to ask what I got for my father, well, I can’t remember.  Absolutely no idea.  Whatever it was, it must’ve seemed unremarkable to me.  Maybe that was the year I got him a package of monogrammed handkerchiefs?  Schweser’s did sell those, after all.  But it was that crystal necklace that really delighted me, mostly because it was a gift for my mother, and partly because of the name, ‘aurora borealis’, and the dispersion and refraction of colors and light.  I knew what that phenomenon was, and had seen beautiful pictures, and found them sooo intriguing.
In my pictures from southern Colorado is a well-drilling rig.  I labeled it ‘fire truck’. 
A friend who lives in Colorado kindly mentioned what that truck appeared to be.  I found the picture, showed it to Larry ... and he laughed.  “A fire truck!  😆  It’s definitely a well-drilling rig.”
I relabeled my picture.  I wonder how many other people are laughing at me?  😅
Larry takes any possible opportunity to tease me.  “What, did you think that apparatus on top of the truck was a ladder?  It was a hook-and-ladder truck?  In order to fight fires in all those skyscrapers?” 
(There’s scarcely a building around for a couple hundred miles – and any building in the far radius is barely one story high.)  haha
My great-niece Jamie, who graduated with Victoria, has a little girl who just had her first birthday.  Jamie often tickled my funnybone when she was little, and she still does.  She posts pictures and videos of her little girl and her big Black Lab dog on Instagram... and it’s so funny to watch Mckenna giving the dog some of her own crackers and whatnot, and the dog – a big puppy, really – standing there patiently waiting, and then taking it carefully from baby’s hand with tongue and lips but no teeth.  Jamie recently posted a couple of pictures with the caption, “Just when I think I’m getting ahead with the house cleaning” – and there was Mckenna, cute as a button in a little pink top with a frilly tutu of a pink skirt and matching tights, sitting smack in the middle of what looked to be nearly every single book that used to be in the bookcase.  In the first picture, baby had her back to the camera, and she has this perfect little round head with mostly peach fuzz on it, and you could tell she was totally intent on her business.  Next shot, she’s turning around looking at her Mama who has the camera, and she has a sheepish little half-smile on her face as if to say, Ooops, something happened here, I think, but whatever it was, I’m pretty sure it wasn’t my fault, and you aren’t mad at me, are you?

I worked on my customer’s quilt from Tuesday through Friday, adding another 40 hours to the total, which is now up to 113 hours.  Yeah, the quilting is a little intense for the price I charged.  Why don’t I ever know these things ahead of time??
I got about 3 ½ more rows completed, bringing me allllmost to the halfway point.  Pictures throughout this letter.  More here.  Keep clicking ‘Newer Post’ at the bottom to see each day’s photos.
After quitting for the night Tuesday, I sat down in my recliner long enough to soothe my back with the heating pad and to post pictures of the quilt and of a squirrel and downy woodpecker that had been frequenting the bird feeders on the back deck.  And then I toddled off to the feathers.
It was 50° here Wednesday, a would’ve been quite nice, had the wind not been whistling through at about 40 mph.
A couple of friends have recently asked me if I actually enjoy all the work of custom quilting. 
I do like doing custom quilting ... but I’m feeling pressured, because I have so much of my own stuff to do, and I’m running out of time.
Then there is the fact that my machine doesn’t have as good of a stitch regulator as the newer ones, so my stitches aren’t as perfect as I’d like – and my customer is paying me quite a bit, so I fret about that.
Sometimes I think about quilts I did for people when I wasn’t as good at quilting... and I cringe a bit.  I remember one in particular when I didn’t know my bobbin race (the entire thing the case sits in) was badly worn, and it caused me all kinds of troubles with skipped stitches.  I thought it was bad thread... or bad tension... or bad needles... and I kept trying and trying and trying.  I took out many, many stitches, so I know there are starts and stops on that quilt, and probably small skipped stitches in places I didn’t notice.  So I feel badly about that, and wish I could do it over again.
Shortly after that, I loaded my Graceful Garden quilt and launched in.  Since I was working from the front, with different tension, etc., things went all right until I was about half through, when the machine simply would no longer stitch when I’d push it in a northwesterly direction, and it stitched poorly in other directions, too.  Techs tried to help me over the phone... I took my machine to a tech in Fremont (with difficulty! – that thing is BIG!) (the machine, not the tech) ... and finally that same tech who with his wife owns Country Traditions there in Fremont (a big nice quilting store where they sell quilting machines and sewing machines, too) came to my house and put an entire new bobbin race into the machine, and presto bingo, it was working fine again.  I was so thankful!  I made up my mind then and there that if I ever bought a new machine, it will definitely be from them.  They are nice people, and they have nice employees, too.
Our littlest granddaughters, Carolyn, Malinda, and Elsie, are always dressed sooo cute.  The nice thing about today’s cute clothes is that they are also comfortable for babies, so soft and nice.  Much softer than even when Victoria herself was a baby – and certainly nicer than when our oldest children were babies. 
Late Wednesday afternoon, I was quilting away... stopped to get dressed for church and to throw a load of clothes into the washing machine... wondered when (or if) Larry would get home from work — and suddenly it occurred to me, Oh, my goodness, I forgot to pick up Larry’s suits from the cleaners, and I took his three best ones there Monday!  I specifically asked the nice man at the cleaners to get them done by today, too.  😑😧😟😦
I called the cleaners... too late.  They’d already left for the day. 
I called Larry to report the matter. 
“It’s okay,” he said consolingly, “I’ll just wear the camouflage coveralls Teddy and Amy gave me for my birthday.  Nobody’ll see me then, anyway.”
Fortunately, Larry managed to rummage up another suit.  He pulled it from the closet, brushed it off, and wore it.  He has quite a number of suits – and he’s glad he kept some that were slightly too small, because since he lost about 15 pounds a couple of years ago, he can wear them again.  😊
Christmas songs are playing on my computer as I type.  I should turn them off.  They are delaying me, because I don’t concentrate on what I’m writing when someone is singing, particularly if it’s a song I like.  Gotta sing along!
One time when I was little, I was singing along with a record we had going – Children’s Songs by Al Smith and Helen Barth.  Suddenly I realized, I’m singing alto!  I didn’t get over the delight of that for days
Then there was the time when our own kiddos were young, and everyone was gathered around the piano, warbling away.  Hester, age 4 or 5, was sitting on the bench beside me.  She was singing soprano in her piping, clear voice – but she had a rather low voice, and the melody got too high.  Effortlessly, she switched from the notes she was singing to the alto I was singing.
She paused.  Her eyes got big.  Then she launched back in with renewed fervor, trying hard not to grin.
The song ended.  She looked up at me and exclaimed, “I sang.... another part!!!!!!”  😃
I have an old cassette recording of Hester at age 3 singing Jesus Is the Shepherd.  It’s so cute.  I wonder where that cassette is??  High time to get it cloned onto a piece of higher technology.
There were sundogs in the sky Friday.  When Hannah was wee little, I pointed out a sundog.  She stared and stared... and finally announced, “I only see a cat.”
Guess what, guess what??!!!  (Did you guess?)
Larry came home from work that day and informed me that, after leaving a job near Fremont, he had stopped at Country Traditions – the lovely big quilt shop where they also sell HandiQuilters (and DSMs).  He inquired into the 18” Avanté (used) that I’d told him about last week... and then checked with our bank... and then agreed to purchase the machine, complete with 12’ studio frame, for my Christmas present!
The people at the store will deliver and set up the quilting machine for me. 
After supper, Larry headed upstairs to work on some of the trim in Victoria’s old room – the room that I cleaned out last February, and which has been languishing all this time, waiting for me to move my machines into it.
The Avanté has the new track system, a better stitch regulator, a wider area of quilting space, and a far better frame than I have.  This is going to be such an improvement!
My sewing room will be on the second floor now, two stories up from the walkout basement.  I’ll still be running up and down the stairs!  😉  But that’s okay; scientific health studies show that people who have stairways to climb every day live longer.  (Providing they don’t tumble down said staircases and break their respective necks, I presume.)  Plus, the stairs that go up are a lot easier to navigate than the curving ones with the two or three narrow, wedge-shaped ones to the basement.  There are nice big windows in the room, too.  I’ll have one of my tables and at least one of my Berninas in there.
I can put the older machine, if necessary, or even the serger, into the little room just down the hall that used to be my office, before I took over the basement.  My rolltop desk is in there right now.  I’d thought to move it into my sewing room... but maybe not.  I don’t want to cramp the sewing/quilting studio, and the desk is all right where it is, other than the fact that the little office doesn’t have a window.  It has a door that opens into our huge, new, beautiful – but unfinished – bedroom. 
Larry has sold a scissor lift (not the one we recently got in Missouri) and a ... ?  A loader, maybe.  A piece of loud, noisy, smelly, motorized equipment.  Now I need to sell my HQ16.  I have a lot of extras that came with it, that I either don’t use or won’t need; I’ll list those, too. 
Saturday I gave up and wrote to my customer:  “Can you tell that I’m running out of time?  I’m working on your quilt as hard as I can... and the last few rows have gone a little faster (the first ones always take the longest, as I figure out and decide what to do)... but it’s already the 16th, and I have a few obligations that I must do in the next 3 or 4 days... and I don’t do customer work on the Lord’s Day... and I’m running out of time!  I truly don’t believe I can get it done before Christmas.  I don’t want to rush through the last part of the quilt, and not have it as nice as the first part, either.  I’m sorry; I know you wanted the quilt now...  but this kind of quilting isn’t fast!  I never really know ahead of time exactly how long it’s going to take.  I’m learning to keep track, watch the clock... and gradually I’m getting better at estimating.”
The lady responded with a gracious note:  “Ahh, Sarah Lynn, I had it figured out several days ago that there wasn’t enough time left, lol!  And there’s no one to blame but myself, because I was a full two weeks (longer?) later getting it to you than I’d originally intended. And I don’t particularly blame myself either, because I was dealing with issues in the directions, and that was discouraging, and I had lots going on otherwise.  So, do what you need to do for your own stuff, quilt as much – or as little – as you have time for, and when it’s done, it’s done. 😊
That day I got all my Christmas cards addressed and signed.  I have 130 ready to have pictures tucked into them.  17 will get a Christmas letter (the rest know as much as they want to know about me, heh).  I still had some cards left over, so I addressed the last 32 for my brother, and put his signature inside.  I have the signature on my computer, so I can add it as a text box or jpg.  Inside the cards that didn’t have a Bible verse, I added one in a bright blue cursive font (with my printer).
Loren really misses his late wife Janice at Christmas time, and frets and stews because he can’t get every member of the family something nice.  Janice used to make something for just about everybody.  We keep telling him... and telling him... nobody expects it, nobody needs it, we just love you, enjoy having you around, and that’s all we want!
There’s a slight possibility we might get snow for Christmas, but not much. 
I once begged for snowshoes... and my mother got me some at a souvenir shop somewhere out in the mountains.  I joyfully put them on and rushed out into the snow – and sank to my kneecaps.
I’d seen pictures of people walking on snow with those things!  I decided it was all a hoax, and what they were putting out as deep, deep snow was only a skiff of snow.  Bah, humbug.
How could a seven-year-old guess that there were toys, and then there were real, honest-to-goodness snowshoes?
I gave Loren his cards Sunday morning after church, and he was pleased.  Of course he immediately asked how much he owed me.  I assured him he owed nothing, and started to tell him how cheap they were – practically free, almost.  I must go through that spiel fairly often, because he chimed in and recited it with me.  ha
Loren, having heard the news about the impending arrival of the 18” Avanté longarm, kept calling Larry ‘Santa Claus’.  😆
It was grandson Jonathan’s 4th birthday.  We went to Wal-Mart after church last night, and Larry picked out an older model Ford pickup for him, about 8” long or so.  We gave him a puzzle, too. 
The beautiful wood floors that Jeremy laid have been finished now in the new part of their house, and carpet has been laid on the front living room.  Right inside the front foyer, he put together light and dark wood pieces to make a star inside interwoven squares.
“You made a quilt!” I exclaimed.  And wouldn’t you know, I didn’t have my camera.
The wonderful curving wooden staircase is done, though the railings aren’t up yet.  They wanted to show me the upstairs...  but my foot was hurting.  I went up about three steps, decided I didn’t like that, and came back down.  I was not born to be a highwire walker.
Oh... did you know one of those idiots who made a name for himself climbing tall buildings without safety harnesses, somersaulting on the very edges of them, and leaping around on high crane frames ------ fell to his death from the 62nd story of a building in China?  He was doing pullups from the side of the building.  He managed two... and then couldn’t pull himself back up after letting himself down the third time.
Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee... splat.
Well, I shouldn’t make a joke out of it; somebody surely loved him, and he had a soul, after all.  But... it’s just plain wrong to tempt God like that!  We were ‘made after God’s own image.’  We shouldn’t knowingly do unreasonable things that will very likely result in our own destruction.
Bobby made some deer jerky in their Traeger grill Saturday, and gave Larry a bag of it, and he shared it with me.  Yummy!  Bobby’s jerky is always scrumptious.
Last night I ordered a couple more Christmas gifts.  Today I packed up a sleeper with soccer and basketballs printed on it, and two little stuffed horses, then took it to the post office and mailed it off to little Trevor.  Why is the customer service area of the post office always roasting hot???!  It’s 130° in there (I nevah, evah exaggerate), rain or shine, summer or winter, snow or hail.  And why is the person with the LOUD grievance always in front of me in the line??
For supper tonight, we had baked orange roughy, pierogies with country gravy, corn, and applesauce.  I should’ve chosen vegetables and fruit of contrasting colors to brighten up our plates a bit, but that’s what sounded good, and it was good, its all-of-a-color qualities notwithstanding.
After we ate, Larry finished filling in the floor upstairs where the closet wall used to be in my new quilting studio.  It still needs to be stained to match the rest of the floor, but it looks much better.  Can you see his tools on the floor over there?
More pictures of the studio here.
And now, instead of flying into the feathers as I sometimes do, I believe I’ll hit the hay instead.  😄  Larry already lifted the frame I have at the foot of the bed that keeps the blankets from resting on my arthritic toes, and proudly told me, “I raised your piggy barn for you!” 
Here’s what it looks like:  Blanket Support Lift
There are various designs, and I imagine some would be nicer than mine:  More Blanket Lift Supports
Sometimes I keep only the heavy quilt over the frame, and let the soft fleece blanket stay on my feet, if I’m cold.  But the quilt is big enough that it lops over and hangs down, so there’s no cold air flow. 
I like mine, because the arms fold down and can’t be seen when I make the bed.  Not all of the frames do that.  I take mine along when we travel.
I first saw such a thing as a blanket lift in a catalogue my mother used to get years ago that had all sorts of gadgets and products for those with rheumatoid arthritis and other physically limiting troubles.


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