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Monday, June 5, 2017

Journal: Hotpads, Lilacs, and Sunbonnet Sue

Last Monday, Memorial Day, Loren planted a few hundred ranunculus bulbs he got from the Netherlands.  The postman had brought the box to him a couple of days earlier, puzzling over the return address.  “Oh, my bulbs!” exclaimed Loren happily, and the postman looked even more puzzled than ever, wondering why on earth anyone would order light bulbs all the way from the Netherlands.  “No, they’re flower bulbs!” explained Loren, laughing. 
Today he got several dozen more – tulips, this time.  He got them all planted this morning – good thing, too, as it got quite hot this afternoon.
A friend, noticing the teacup-and-saucer set in one of the pictures of the coffeepot cozy last week, commented that it was clever to make the flowers on the cozy match the flowers on the teacup.  I hadn’t even noticed... but they do match, don’t they?  However, the matching teacups are incidental.  They are very old; they were my mother’s.  When my sister and I were dividing things up after my mother passed away, she gave me a whole lot of Mama’s extensive teacup/saucer/dessert-plate collection.  This particular set was one of 12 such sets, and each cup and saucer has a month stamped on the bottom.  I gave some of the others to my daughters and daughters-in-law, but kept this one, since it’s the set for October, and that’s my birth month – plus, it was my favorite, and I got greedy!  I convinced Lura Kay that I didn’t need all of them, so she gave some to her daughter and daughters-in-law, too.
If I acted the slightest bit interested in anything of Mama’s, I wound up with it in my car.  Lura Kay was willing to keep the things she had given Mama herself, though she’d be likely to hand most any item to me if I oohed and ahhed over it too much.
As our grandchildren (and her great-grandchildren) have gotten older, we have now and then given them items of our parents’ that we’d saved.  Just recently, I gave one of my grandsons a tie tac that belonged to my father.  He was pleased.
And that’s how we fussed over our parents’ things.
Some friends and I were exchanging recipes the other day.  One lady mentioned a cake she’d made that had fallen... and that reminded me of a cake story of my own.  (I have stories about most everything, don’t I?)
Here it is, from my journal of March 4, 2013:

Victoria had invited a flock of girls over Friday evening for cake and ice cream – a belated birthday party.
She brought her cousin Danica (1st cousin once removed, actually) home after school so they could together make the angelfood cake and slice the strawberries.  Danica is a little less than three years younger than Victoria, but they are a lot alike, and have been good friends for a long time.
Earlier, Caleb had come home from work and gone upstairs to take a nap.  About this time, he came wandering down the stairs in a bit of a daze, and nearly blundered right into Danica, thinking it was Victoria (same height, same size, same hairstyles, and the color of their hair is very close).  Then, startled, he jumped back and said, “OH!  I thought you were Victoria!” 
Danica of course thought this was a scream. 
By 5:30 p.m., the cake was in the oven.  Every time Caleb or I went near the kitchen, the girls look alarmed and hissed, “Don’t bump anything!  The cake will fall!” 
Victoria got a little overly excited once, and cried, “Look out, the oven is in the cake!” which reduced Danica to a convulsed heap of mirth.  A good deal of the time, I could hear them marching around as if there was a Great State of Urgency – but now and then they tiptoed over to the oven, verrrry cautiously pulled open the door, and then debated with each other in whispers. 
As I headed back downstairs to continue the pillow-making, they instructed me to tell Caleb, who was in the downstairs bathroom showering and getting ready for his date, to ‘not slam anything’.  I duly told him, and he laughed because right in the middle of my telling, there was a bang overhead, followed by rushing footsteps, and laughter.
I heard Victoria tell Danica, “Oh, well, if it falls, we’ll just have Devil’s Food, instead,” which made Danica screech.  Danica sliced up all the strawberries – the round way, rather than the long way, surprising Victoria.  (But they tasted the same.)
While the cake baked, they snacked on crab meat Victoria had bought when they got the strawberries.  They both love seafood.
Caleb headed upstairs shortly, the smell of soap and aftershave creating a large, luminous aura around him (let us hope Maria is not overly sensitive to overly good-smelling boyfriends), and soon I heard the girls giggling.  He’d no doubt had a few choice comments to spout off as he passed them.
At 6:30 p.m., both girls came ka-lump ka-lumping down the stairs, Victoria bearing The Cake on a platter to show me their Great Success. 
“We’re Cake Masters!” she announced gaily, with Danica peering over her shoulder, grinning.  I duly admired the cake, then showed them the pillows I’d just finished.  “I’m a Pillow Master!” I informed them.  They giggled and trot-trotted back upstairs.
Here is the cake, not yet frosted:

Hester once made a cake called “Million-Dollar Pound Cake.”  I’d made it before, and we liked it.  It was particularly good with homemade vanilla pudding.
Well, I’m not sure what happened, but her cake fell.  It tasted all right, other than being much too dense and heavy – and not quite done in the middle.
Hester proceeded to call it “Million-Pounds Cake” after that.
Larry posted videos on Instagram of himself starting to work on his Dodge Ram pickup that he finally managed to get into our garage after clearing a lot of things out of the way.  He panned his camera around the engine, explaining what he was doing... and then at the end, he said, “I’m making this tutorial so my wife can put the motor back together for me after I get it fixed!”
Hannah wrote, “She’d look like Mistress Mouse in Richard Scarry’s “All About Cars and Trucks” book. 🐭 🔨
Victoria contributed a funny face – 😂 – and Lydia then threw in her 2¢:  “😁😁 Sounds like Jonathan telling me “I’m going to lay some bricks (on the fireplace) and then I’ll have my wife clean up the mess and then I’ll lay some more bricks!”
“Who’s teaching that boy??!” I demanded, “His Mama, or his Daddy??”
Tuesday, I loaded a customer’s quilt on my frame – and then decided I didn’t like the thread I’d chosen for it.  The blues I had just weren’t right.  So, after making sure my customer could wait for the thread to arrive, I ordered cones of thread for the top (40#) and the bobbin (60#) in a light turquoise color.
Then I pored over favorite quilting photos and designs before beginning to measure and mark the quilt, so I’ll be ready to start when the thread arrives.  My new swag rulers – a set of four in graduated sizes – is going to be just the ticket.  A lady sold them to me at half price – and she’d never even taken them out of the package.
For supper Tuesday evening, Larry smoked salmon in the Traeger grill, and I fixed steamed asparagus spears, brown rice, and gingerbread cake.  We had applesauce with the cake.  A filling, tasty, and healthy supper.
Wednesday morning, I came out of the bathroom all nice and squeaky clean, headed into the kitchen for coffee – and found Teensy erping his socks under the piano.  😝
I put the cat outside, cleaned up after him, scrubbed thoroughly, made coffee, and opened my laptop to read email, devotions, news, and funnies, not necessarily in that order.  The nice thing about devotions on my computer, as opposed to in a book, is that I can make the print bigger and easier to read.  The downside is that it doesn’t come in the Scofield form I prefer.  I know which side of the page certain passages are on, in the Scofield!
And then, aaaarrgghh, I received a notice that the thread for the longarm had been backordered and would be delayed 3 to 5 days.  I wrote to my customer, asking if that was too long, and if I should order it from another company.
She assured me she wasn’t in a big hurry, so I let it be.  I would start a quick project in the meanwhile – potholders for a wedding gift for a cousin of Larry’s (1st cousin once removed, to be precise).  As a plus, this will give me something else to enter in the County Fair.  I decided to make Folded-Star Hotpads again.
I put a couple of loads of clothes away... tossed another load into the dryer... hung some things on the line... and put another load into the washer.  I scrubbed the bathtub... washed the dishes...  edited some pictures and posted them online... and still had enough time to make a good start on the potholders before church.
Our lilacs are blooming.  They are on the north side of the house, and bloom later than others in the vicinity.  More pictures are on my blog:  Cemetery, Front Yard
I decided to wash the flannel quilt after hanging the last load out, even though it was supposed to rain that night and the next morning, and I like to hang quilts outside.  But... I could throw it in the dryer until it was nearly dry, and hang it outside Thursday afternoon when the sun came out.  When I want to do something, I want to do it... now! 
I then put the Harvest Sun quilt on the bed.  It’s our favorite.
Wild Prairie Rose
I cut foundation fabric for seven hotpads, marked them, picked out fabrics, and start cutting.  Each hotpad has 33 pieces, counting the batting.  Well, a couple of them had more, since I was running out of a certain fabric and had to piece it.
Soon it was time for church.
We went to the grocery store afterwards to get some of those things I can’t order online:  milk, yogurt, cottage cheese, orange juice (Tropicana with Lots of Pulp), cheese curds, sliced Pepper Jack cheese, butter croissants, apples, lettuce, a bag of chopped vegetable salad, bananas, green and red peppers, organic on-the-vine tomatoes (allllmost as good as fresh-from-the-garden), tangerines – and a big carton of strawberries.  Mmmmm... they were perfect.
One time we poured glasses of juice for the little kiddos – the kind with lots of pulp, the way we like it best.  It had been a little while since we’d found the ‘lots of pulp’ variety in the store.  Caleb, who was about two, gladly took a big drink – then wrinkled his nose and went to picking things from his teeth.
“What’s the matter?” asked Larry, trying not to laugh.
My juice has germs in it!” announced Caleb.
And then Larry did laugh, while I tried to explain that it was pulp – those yummy little pieces that make up an orange slice.  Actually, those little pieces are called ‘juice vesicles’, did you know that?
We called that Tropicana juice ‘orange juice with germs’ for a long while after that.  Still do, now and then.
Thursday, I washed sheets and went on working on the hotpads for our cousin’s August wedding.  They go fairly fast; it’s a fun project to do.
Sure enough, the sun came out that afternoon right on schedule.  So out on the deck went the flannel quilt.
Then I somehow got sidetracked from the hotpads and wound up in EQ7 designing a pattern for the vintage Sunbonnet Sue blocks my sister gave me 2 ½ years ago (how time flies).
Here’s one of the ‘in-between’ blocks: ß  I wasn’t entirely happy with it, and wanted it designed so that those three little squares of like colors on each side were just one strip.  But there wasn’t a ready-made block like that in the program.  Well, I’d fix it later.  Back to the hotpads!
The Phalaenopsis orchid is blooming like anything.  Since I took this picture, that big bud there on the right has opened, and now there are five big blooms on the stalk.  So pretty!
That day, the first of June, I discovered a photo Victoria had posted on Instagram of a scrumptious-looking Mexican omelet with the caption, “An omelet for Kurt’s birthday breakfast – one of his favorites.”
!  It was Kurt’s birthday?!  “Why don’t I know this?!” I inquired.
“Now you do,” responded Victoria.
I sent Larry a note, asking what we could give this newest son-in-law of ours.  Larry, after some thought, decided we would give him Larry’s mountain bike, as it’s still in excellent shape, and Larry doesn’t ride it anymore since he got his road bike and his off-road bike.  Larry asked Kurt if he’d like the bike; Kurt said he would.  We took the bike to him Friday evening.
The other day Nathanael commented about his piano lesson, “I have a song that I don’t want to play.”
Joanna replied with sisterly encouragement, “It’s actually kind of neat... when you stop listening to it.”
Hee hee  That’s a variation on the old “They’re clapping because you’re done” shtick. 
Thursday evening it occurred to me that the air conditioner wasn’t doing a real bang-up job of cooling the house down.  By Friday morning, there wasn’t any doubt:  the compressor – the brand-new compressor – wasn’t working.  I went downstairs and looked in the breaker box, but couldn’t find any breakers blown.
I sent Larry a note.  He wrote back, “Out on the left side of the heat pump where the lines go into the unit is a round button.  Push it in and see if that works.”
The button is an on-unit breaker switch.  I trotted out and did as bidden – and was relieved when the compressor came on.  I sent another note to Larry, letting him know it was working.  “What would’ve made it blow?” I asked.
“I don’t know,” responded Larry, “but you fixed it! 🙂
“Yeah, I’m as good as Franny! (name changed)”   
She’d jubilantly told me that she had ‘fixed’ her computer – but it turned out that her husband had merely plugged the mouse back in for her.
“You’re better,” Larry told me.  “You pushed the button.”

That breaker probably blew last Saturday when Larry was using his welder, making all the lights flicker and causing problems with my sewing machine (which has been behaving just fine, thankfully).  Until Friday, the weather hadn’t been hot enough for us to notice that the compressor wasn’t coming on.
“It was your fault for turning on the air conditioner while I was welding,” Larry informed me.
“No, it was your fault for welding while I was turning on the air conditioner!” I retorted.
Victoria made pie, French bread, and giant soft pretzels that day for the Farmer’s Market, which is held on Saturdays in Franklin Square uptown.  She sent me a picture of an apple streusel pie she’d just pulled from the oven, wondering how to tell for sure if it was done.  “How tender is a tender apple??” she asked.
“Nice and soft,” I told her.
“You have to destroy the topping to poke an apple!” she protested.
“Better a messed-top top than an undone apple, that’s my philosophy,” I replied.  “Besides, with the streusel topping, you can move some of the crumbles, sample the apple, and spread the topping back without anybody ever being the wiser.”
Thought for the Day:
Talking/texting/emailing with my husband and several of our offspring simultaneously can get a bit confusing, not only because I can’t remember to whom I said what, but also because they’re so much alike, it’s like conversing with quadruplets/quintuplets/sextuplets/etc.  ha
With the little excitement over the compressor finished, I got back to potholdering (as Victoria called it when she was about 7 or 8, crocheting a potholder).  The set of hotpads I’m doing has more of an Ohio star shape than a Lemoyne star shape – more square than octagonal.  Doing it this way made them an inch and a half wider than that first set.  But... I like the shape of the first ones better.  Oh, well.  It was time to pull out some batting!
When we delivered the bike to Kurt, Victoria gave us slices of her yummy pie (yep, it was done, and exactly right, too), and let us taste one of the soft pretzels.  Mmm, good. 
Later that night, we heard the foxes yelping and barking and calling again.  We stepped out on the front porch, the better to hear one up in the woods to the northeast – and the little critter must’ve seen or heard us, because his barks were a whole lot farther away, in nothing flat. 
Wondering where the cats were, I went to the back deck.  Just before I opened the screen, I heard another fox – this one, right in our back yard!  It sounded like it was inside or near Larry’s big garage, by the way it echoed.  But sliding the patio door open must’ve scared it, because we heard nary a peep from it thereafter. 
Tabby keeps sleeping up on the railing, which makes my hair stand up on end.  He’s so old and frail... I’m afraid he’ll wobble, fall right off, and land one whole story down!  He’d get hurt, if that happened.
When I chose the fabrics for the Folded Star potholders, I thought I’d just do a variety... not really try to match them, just make each one pretty on its own.
Well, I wound up with five hotpads that coordinate perfectly – and two others that coordinate with each other, but not with the other five.  Not at all.  Sooo... Saturday I cut more fabric and made one more hotpad to go with those first five.  One more week until my great-nephew’s wedding!  The ‘Josie’ brand coffee arrived; I’ll tuck that in with the coffeepot and cozy.  (The bride’s name is Josie – hence, the idea for the entire gift.)  I’ll wait until next Sunday afternoon to pack the pot, cozy, and coffee, so as to reduce Squishing Time.  Isn’t that an old song?  ♫ ♪ And it won’t be long ♪ ♫ until it’s ♫ ♪ Squishing Time!  ♪ ♫

A friend was talking about all the things she’s planted in her garden.  “One of the reasons I planted so many strawberries,” she said, “was so I could share them with our friends.  Isn’t that what gardens are for? 😊
That reminded me of what my father always said his father used to say.  I never knew my Grandpa; he died in 1938 just before my oldest brother was born.  He was only 48; the doctors thought he had appendicitis, and removed his appendix – but it was a perforated ulcer, probably brought on by losing his farm during the Depression, and then working day and night to get it back.  He did it – but it doubtless cost him his life.
Anyway, they used to make ice cream on Saturday nights, using milk from their own cows, and Grandpa would call in a whole lot of friends from neighboring farms, saying, “Ice cream doesn’t taste nearly so good until you share it with the neighbors!”
Daddy told so many stories about my Grandpa that I grew up feeling like I really knew him.
I have a ‘when to garden’ dilemma.  The best time would of course be early in the morning, before it gets hot.  But the trouble is, rheumatoid arthritis makes me stiff and creaky the first couple of hours after getting up.  The first thing I want to do is have a hot bath... wash my hair...
And once I’m all polished and scrubbed, why would I want to go out and get all dirty and sweaty in the garden?  If I go out later, I’ll have to have another bath... and there are so many things to do, I hate to waste time like that... 
But I really do need to work in the flower gardens.  Really, I do!  Siggghhhh...  I just have to do it, creakiness notwithstanding.  As soon as I get my customer’s quilt done, I will.
We have a cherry tree that produces nicely each year – but the birds eat all the cherries before they’re quite ripe enough to pick.  One year I found one lonesome cherry near the bottom that the birds had overlooked.  I grabbed it, polished it on my shirt, and crammed it in my mouth just as a robin flew over, scolding at me.
“Ha!” I retorted.  “I beat you to it!”
(Good thing we live out in the country, and no neighbors witnessed my ‘bird talk’.)
We tried covering a small mulberry tree one year, but a little bird got caught in the netting and perished.  I do get quite a lot of mulberries each year.  We have a dark purple and a white variety.  I just noticed that the mulberries are getting ripe!
I decided to quit worrying about the cherry tree, and just consider it a large, self-replenishing, springtime bird feeder.  😃 I really enjoy all the birds and animals we see out here.
I finished eight Folded Star potholders that day, and cut the foundations for three more. 
Sunday, it occurred to me that I had totally forgotten to pick up the flowers from the cemetery.  I figured they’d be long gone by then – they usually clear everything out by the Saturday after Memorial Day, at the latest.  But after church we went to the cemetery anyway – and gathered up our own flowers plus several others at our relatives’ graves, in case they belonged to Loren or Lura Kay.  One year, having read in the paper that the flowers would be cleared away in six days, I went to pick them up on the following Friday – and everyone’s flowers were already gone.  Furthermore, I had some nice flowers there, and they weren’t cheap.  Whataya bet John Q. Public threw fits and tantrums about that, and they’ve since extended the time for a day or two?
Last night, I redid those Irish Chain blocks for the Sunbonnet Sue quilt using Easy Draw in EQ7, then added all the colors back in.  They should put in an option where you can just throw all the colors you previously used back into a new block in the same general areas, and whoosh-kabloosh, there they’d be, then.
I’m probably just touching the tip of the iceberg, in my knowledge of this program.  I imagine I take the hard way around at times, when they’ve already made a much easier way to go about it. 
I’ll match the background as closely as possible to the background of the Sunbonnet Sue blocks.  Often when I add my own photos to EQ7, the background turns out looking darker than it really is.  I lightened the photos enough that po’ li’l Sue was starting to look anemic – and still the background looks a bit gray.  In actuality, the fabric is a cream color – a natural muslin, with some blocks boasting better quality fabric than others.
When I took photos of the blocks, I cropped them.  The real blocks won’t be quite that cropped, and Sunbonnet Sue will look smaller inside the square.  I’ll adjust the block size in EQ7 as soon as I get the Sunbonnet Sue blocks trimmed to a uniform size.
Now I’m excited to get started!  A few other things first, though...
And now that I’ve done it – drawn a new block, that is – I figured out how to edit the original block.  See what I mean about always doing things the hard way first??
I’m going to keep this quilt, since it’s a family keepsake.  I’m going to write to some of my cousins and ask for any stories they might know about the ladies who made these vintage blocks, and then I’ll type it up and keep the information with the quilt.
Earlier this afternoon, I picked up Larry’s check at Walkers’, took it to the bank, and dropped off clothes at the cleaners.  Whew, it was 97° out there.
My blind friend Penny has always been intrigued with pictures, printed or digital, and she saves a few, if someone tells her it’s especially pretty, or if it has special significance.  She likes to get family pictures at Christmas time from friends.  I was so surprised to learn this, way back when our older children were babies, when she asked if I might have a family picture left from all those I had given everyone else.  I did, and handed it to her.
She stood holding it, passing her fingers over it, then said to me, “I just can’t get over how there can be several faces on this little piece of paper, and people can look at it, see the faces, little though they must be, and know exactly who it is they’re looking at!”
She likes to display pictures around her house, so visitors can see them.
Last night she emailed a picture of a double rainbow and asked what it looked like, and if it was pretty.  I wrote the following:
Yes, it’s a beautiful photo.  The view is from up high – maybe a drone, maybe a second story of a house – and there is a double rainbow against a slate gray sky.  The first one is bright, and all the colors are shimmering and distinct:  lavender, purple, plum, indigo, blue, teal, green, mint, yellow, salmon, orange, red, and then a touch of purple as it tries to start over again.  The outer rainbow is a mirror image of the first, paler, all soft and hazy against the multi-colored gray clouds.
And below, just to add to the drama, there are two snow-white houses with equally snowy white garages and a white fence, along with one cream-colored house, and all the buildings are shining so brightly in the sunlight, it’s almost like they are translucent and lit from within.  The sun is also shining on tall green trees... emerald green lawns... and a big garden of white and yellow irises.  The sun is obviously low in the sky, because the shadows are long.
Then, for the final touch, there is a brilliant red minivan in the driveway of the cream-colored house.  It’s so very shiny in the sun, it surely must still be wet from the rain that has passed over.
And now you know what the picture looks like.
Lots of love,
Sarah Lynn, who loves describing stuff.

In the middle of the night, Penny wrote back:
I had tears running out of my eyes and down into my hair, because I’m writing to you from my room; the braille device is resting nicely atop yours-truly, and I’m supposed to be sleeping, but I’m not doing it now.  Esther (Bobby’s sister) took the picture.  I don’t know where she was.
THANK YOU for the amazing description.  The description has to be better than the great picture!
Love, Penny

Yes, perhaps the description was a wee bit better than the picture, but it was a pretty picture, and besides, I knew what that rainbow looked like, from having seen it myself.  Penny’s reply got to me, as I considered how fortunate I am to be blessed with sight. 
Speaking of being blessed with sight... as I type on one side of my screen, I’m watching a beautiful live-streaming cam from Turtle Bay West, in Hawaii, on the other side of the screen:
The sun is right at the horizon... and everything has turned to gold.  A helicopter has just flown in front of the searing white sun... and now it’s gone again.  The brilliant sinking sun is beginning to shoot white-hot rays across the tossing, golden waves of the sea.  Someone has set up torches amongst the palms along the shore.  Now the clouds are starting to darken...
Screen shot!  Screen shot! ... There we go.  In a few minutes, it will be dark. 
Okay, let’s look at an Alaskan streaming camera; it’ll still be light there.
Yep!  I found a beach full of walruses!  The sun is shining brightly on them, turning the rocky cliffs orange, the walruses red-orange, and the sea pink.
Now to get back to the potholders!  I want them done before my customer’s thread arrives.  My To-Do List is not shrinking very well.

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

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