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Monday, June 12, 2017

Journal: Potholdering, Embroidering, and Weddinging

My nephew Kelvin, who has colon cancer, felt well enough to make it to our church services last Sunday and this Sunday, too.  We make it a point to look for him, and are happy when we see him.  He just starts feeling better... and then it’s time for another round of chemo.  Tomorrow they will run some tests to see if the chemo is shrinking the tumor, and perhaps they’ll decide if they can do surgery yet.
Last Tuesday, I filled all the bird feeders.  I had let them stay empty for a few days, because the grackles spilled a whole feeder full of sunflower seeds, and I figured they could all jolly well clean up their mess.  Note to self:  Do not buy all-plastic bird feeders, even if they are cute, and even if they are cheaper than the metal ones.  The grackles will upend them.  The mourning doves, turtle doves, juncos, sparrows, and other ground-feeding birds (and doubtless the squirrels and opossums, too) loved all that seed there on the ground, one story down... and now and then the feeder-feeding birds fluttered down to help peck it up.  But some newly-fledged finches started landing down there, and I thought, Eeek!  That’s nothing more than bait for the cats! – and I hurriedly refilled the feeders, so the birds will be safer. 
It took no more than five minutes for them to discover the smörgåsbord. 
The blue jays, in particular, were delighted with the flavor of suet blocks I put out – ‘no-melt’ peanut butter and seeds.  The baby starlings have fledged; one landed on a front window screen.  The wrens and house finches are starting new clutches of eggs.  It has occurred to me that, while I see the newly-fledged of almost all the bird species that frequent our area, I never see goldfinch babies, even though we have hundreds of the bright little birds.  Or maybe I mistake the fledglings for females?
I got another Folded Star potholder done, and had two more partly done.  I finished the ‘potholdering’, as Victoria once called it, Wednesday night after church. 
That afternoon, a quilting friend from Idaho, whom I have never met, sent gifts for both Lydia and Victoria:  soft, beautifully crocheted baby blankets.
I thanked her... and told her a story I’d been reminded of.  (Everything reminds me of a story, doesn’t it?)
When Dorcas was little, first learning to crochet, she’d start off with Great Expectations:  “I’m going to make a king-sized afghan!”  ((crochet crochet crochet))  Several days later, seeing that this was a bit too enterprising, “I’m going to make a lap throw!”  ((crochet crochet crochet))  Then, discovering that a mistake in the design was giving her an irregular polygon as opposed to a rectangle, “I’m going to make a scarf!”  ((crochet crochet crochet))  Then, hitting a yarn snarl that refused all efforts at unknotting, she weaved a ribbon through it at a strategic distance from the edge, tied it, and announced, “I’ve made a baby bonnet!”
One time Hester, at about age five, was industriously crocheting away – and ran out of yarn (and enthusiasm) when her project was only about 6 or 7 inches square.  She looked at it, disheartened. 
Hannah, about 13, took pity on her and said, “Here, let me finish that for you.”   She folded the square in half and enclosed it with crocheting along two sides, tucked a pair of Hester’s little plastic sunglasses into it, and handed it back to her little sister.
Hester brightened up, giggled in delight, and said, “How ’bout that!  I made a glasses case, and I didn’t even know I was going to!” 
 Hester had a penchant for saying the funniest things.  When she was wee little, no more than three, she came running in one day and with woebegone face announced that she had fallen and hurted her ka-rump-a-setter.
Now, I always tried hard not to laugh at my earnest tots, but I’m telling you, that was an occasion for which I had to work mightily to keep from smirking.
When my niece Susan was little, she came into the house and sadly informed her family that she’d fallen off the kwing and hoit her ketto.  Everyone burst out laughing, and she, after a moment of looking around reproachfully, burst into tears. 
Poor little kiddos!  We love them... we sympathize with them... but they sure can be funny!
That afternoon, I got a notice that the backordered longarm thread had been shipped – evidently via Turtleback Express, as it had taken 12 hours to travel from Rio Rancho to Albuquerque, New Mexico.  But it was apparently expected to speed up, because the purported arrival date was Friday.
So on Thursday, I hastily got on with a set of embroidered tea towels.  I sure wish one of my embroidery cards hadn’t’ve gone kaput.  I’ve looked for a replacement online, but it isn’t to be found, not at any price.  And the price of these cards, which are no longer being made, is usually high.
Some ladies on a sewing group were discussing injuries and/or surgeries on feet or ankles – in particular, the foot they had been accustomed to using on their sewing machine pedals.  I know what that’s like – I had to sew wedding clothes for a daughter’s wedding – and had just badly sprained my right ankle.  Sooo... I propped up my right foot on a stack of pillows and used my left foot on the pedal.  Never gave a thought to practicing on a scrap first.
I sewed an entire candlelighter’s dress before I even cut it out.
Victoria sent me a couple of ultrasound pictures she’d just had taken.  I had to look at those pictures for several seconds before I finally figured out what I was looking at.
And then I decided...  that baby is already cute!  Amazing, what technology can do these days.  I wrote back to Victoria the verse from Ecclesiastes 11:5:  “As thou knowest not what is the way of the spirit, nor how the bones do grow in the womb of her that is with child: even so thou knowest not the works of God who maketh all.”
Life is a miracle; it truly is.
Victoria wrote back in full agreement:  “Doesn’t the miracle of that little life just amaze you?  And then how intimidating it is to think of the responsibility God gives you with each little baby.”
That afternoon, I took some packages to the post office.  Someday it might be cheaper to put a box in the car, fill the tank with gas, and just drive the thing across the country one’s self!  I picked up some things at the cleaners and then went to Hobby Lobby, where I chose a large book of fancy paper such as one might use to make cards.
By then Hester was home from work, so I took it her, along with a long silk scarf with a screen print of a lavender flower garden and a couple of those Folded Star potholders.  It was her 28th birthday.
The last bud on the Phalaenopsis orchid bloomed that day:
Friday afternoon, Victoria sent a picture of a pretty cake she’d made, writing the following:  “I cannot decorate a cake.  It always looks very similar to a child’s doodling in a notebook at age 3!  Strange how some people have no trouble making beautiful cakes and the rest of us, um... at least it tastes good. 
“On top of the messy frosting, I even missed one of the peanut butter cups.  And wouldn’t you know, I inhaled the extras before I checked to make sure I finished the cake.  😂😂😂
I assured her that her cake looked fine and dandy.  (It did; really it did.  She was just comparing it with cakes her cousin Rachel makes.  Those things are artistic masterpieces.)
Remember Franny from my last letter, the Franny whose husband ‘fixed’ her computer – by plugging the mouse back in?  Well, he’s proving himself to be quite a genius.  Witness:
Early that morning, Franny sent me a phone text, all in a stew because their air conditioner ‘was out’.  I looked up the temperature in her town – high 70s. 
So I responded cheerfully, “Good thing it’s a nice day out!”
Hours later, she wrote, “The AC is working again!  Turns out the batteries were in the remote wrong.”
Eh?
I asked, “Isn’t there a thermostat on the wall?”
She replied, “No, it’s a window air conditioner.”
Me:  “And the only way to turn it on is with a remote?”
Franny:  “Yeah apparently”
Then she sent me a picture of said AC. 
There were the controls, right there on the silly thing.  Be nice, I told myself.
I wrote back, “There’s a control panel on the unit.  Top left.  You could turn it on from there, if the remote isn’t working.”
No reply.  Maybe they were struggling to get out of their beanbag chairs so they could toddle over to the air conditioner and see if what I said was true?
Later, she informed me that her husband had tried the buttons on the control panel.
Now, why do I doubt that?
The next day, she re-announced his Superman status on Facebook, with large font in a big red box:  “Yesterday our AC wasn’t working.  Thank goodness hubby was able to fix it!”
Ha!  He was the oaf who put the batteries into the remote upside down in the first place.
I wanted to write, “Good for him!  Did he rebuild it?”
But...  I refrained. 
Moral of the story:  One woman’s oaf is another woman’s Superman.
And vice versa.
Larry brought in the mail when he came home from work that evening, and there was the package containing the quilting thread. 
So I finished the embroidery on the last tea towel, ate supper, and went off to the quilting machine.  The thread matches so nicely, I’m really glad I didn’t go with the bluer color I’d originally thought to use. 
This thread is called ‘light turquoise’, and it’s just light enough that the quilting design shows up, rather than blending in to the point of being invisible.  This is what I was hoping for.  I set the tension... it’s a little trickier with batiks ... and started on the first row.  I’m glad I got a new ruler set, too.  I’m doing long, feathered swags around the wide border.
The first couple of rows always take the longest, when I am figuring out just what to do, and where.
Did you ever read the Susie and Johnny books by J. C. Brumfield when you were a child?  I loved those books.  The series of at least two dozen books – maybe twice that many – was first put out in the 1940s, but has been republished many times.
Another of my favorite books was Best Friends in Summer, by Mary Bard.  It was in our elementary school library.  When I hunted for it when my children were young, I discovered there was a small series of the Best Friends books by that author – and I also discovered that they are no longer published, and sellers are extremely proud of their books (Larry’s description of over-priced items).  The cheapest I found was $300.00!
A friend wrote with compliments on the tea towels, and added, “I can almost see a ruffle on the end of each towel that matches the embroidered flowers.”
“Aaaauuuggghhh, don’t tell me that!” I retorted.  “I’ll think I’m not done, and start pulling out fabric... putting the ruffler on my serger...”
I’m done, I tell you!  Done!  (Besides, I can’t make one daughter’s tea towels fancier than the other daughters’ tea towels.)  (There.  That settled it.)  (Didn’t it?)
Not ready to give it up yet, my friend suggested, “You could ask the other daughter if she wants ruffles too and then add them if she does.”
Eeeek.  Me, I’m a-quiltin’ a quilt!  And then, I’m a-finishin’ Victoria’s Tumbling Block quilt!  And then, I’m a-puttin’ together vintage Sunbonnet Sues!  And then, I’m a-makin’ Todd and Dorcas a king-sized quilt! 
I done made them thar girls o’ mine oodles and gobs o’ ruffles long, long ago ... they’ll have to ‘go in the strength’ of those for the next few decades, like Elijah did with the ‘cake baken on the coals and the cruse of water’ from the angel.  Now, granted, he only went 40 days and 40 nights...  
(Besides, it’s not ‘the other daughter’, singular.  It’s ‘the other daughters, daughters-in-law, sister, mother-in-law’...)
No ruffles.
That same friend told the following story:  “I used to have quite a collection of Winnie-the-Pooh books and had all the stuffed characters.  My husband got the characters for me for Christmas one year.  He had all of them except one and was frantically searching the town when he ran into our daughter.  He turned into a parking lot and she pulled up beside him.  ‘What’s up, Dad?’ she asked.  His reply:  ‘I can’t find Christopher Robin!!!’”
hee hee
When I was little, I had (and still have) the original books and the vinyl records to go with them, narrated by Maurice Evans.  I know them almost by heart, to this day.  Someone has uploaded them to youtube:  Winnie the Pooh, read by Maurice Evans
The original stories were written by A. A. Milne – initially told as bedtime stories to his own son, Christopher Robin, about his favorite stuffed animals.  There is a touch of genius in the writing, as the stories are beloved by very young children – and yet there are all sorts of stories-inside-the-stories that keep adults well entertained as they are reading to their own children. 
I remember reading the stories to mine... getting all struck funny at the secondary meanings... the older children laughing along with me ---- and Lydia (or, as Hester called her little sister, ‘Liddle Liddluh’), about 1 ½, looking up at me reproachfully with those big blue-gray eyes of hers.  It wasn’t funny to her right then! 
The later Disney stories couldn’t hold a candle to A. A. Milne’s brilliance in that regard.
That afternoon after getting off work, Larry went to Teddy’s place to cut hay.  He got a little more cut tonight after work, too.  There’s always a market for good-quality hay.
By bedtime, I had a couple of rows done on my customer’s quilt.  Photos here.
Last night was the wedding of my great-nephew, Matthew, and his bride, Josie.  After the service and the reception, they opened some of their gifts.  They came to our gift.  The bride’s sister Kristin was on one side; the groom’s sister Danica (yes, the very Danica of last week’s cake story) was on the other.  Matthew pulled out the two bags of ‘Josie’ coffee, scanned the big Fellowship Hall until he spotted me, then gave me a big grin (he’s timid; Matthew’s big grins mean something).  They all leaned over and peered in again, with the expected expressions:  Wuttenna woild izziss?
Hee hee
Maybe one of their grandmothers will explain it to them.
But Matthew held it aloft, and everyone looked at the thing with great respect and admiration.  😁
I love to stump the newlyweds.
I have been having entertainment of the feathered sort.  I was just clearing off the table after a late breakfast, minding my own business, whistling my little songs --- when I noticed something in the living room that didn’t belong:  a young robin, perched in forlorn terror on one of the curtain rods.
Sigghhhh... I hate cats.
So... first I shut doors to other parts of the house, opened the front door wide... and went into the living room to try to ‘herd’, as it were, Robin Z. Youngster out the door.
He wouldn’t be herded.  
Most birds, not counting swallows, want to stay as high as possible when there is perceived danger near the ground.  This causes them to not understand that they must swoop under a doorway arch, in order to get to safety.  So the living room arch presented a barricade to him that he didn’t know how to circumnavigate.  After a few fruitless flaps around the room, during which he tried out the other curtain rod and flew into walls at various vectors and velocities, the poor thing returned to his original perch and, er, perched, wobbly and panting.  I got a towel, climbed up on the loveseat, strrrrrrrrrretched, and managed to get the towel over him, except for his head.  And one wing escaped... but I had him.  
I carried him gently to the front door... released him... and he flew strongly to the woods off to the northeast.  I didn’t see any injuries, so maybe he’ll be all right.
As the robin departed, I noticed that multitudes of flowers were in bloom around the house, so I grabbed my camera and headed outside to take pictures of clematis, roses, and lilies.  This is the west side of our house.
Earlier, I’d gotten some shots of finches and sparrows at the feeders.  More photos here.
I haven’t felt just the best yesterday and today, due in no small part to a lack of sleep Saturday night/Sunday morning, on account of somebuddy snoring – and it wasn’t me.  Still feeling a bit queasy this evening, I texted Larry:  “Could you bring home some Pepsi & 7-Up?”
He wrote back, using his voice-recognition software:  “Out loud Pepsi 7-Up mom do all diet.”
I read this... tipped my head far to one side... read it again... stood on one foot, crossed my eyes... reread it...  and then replied, “What language are you speaking?  Or did you get bopped on the head, and are a bit confused?”
Turns out, what this actually was supposed to say was, “Do you want Pepsi, 7-Up, Mt. Dew, all diet?”
For supper tonight, we had roast beef – so tender it practically melted in our mouths – baby bakers (little seasoned potatoes), corn on the cob, golden fruit mix, orange juice, cheese-stuffed bread sticks, and ice cream.
Kurt and Victoria, along with Kurt’s family, have taken a vacation to Colorado.  Judging by the pictures she’s been posting on Instagram, the weather was beautiful today – but I just checked, and I see that the temperature throughout most of Colorado’s mountains tonight is in the 30s.  A little chilly for midnight strolls under the stars!  (You have not really been for a starlight stroll, unless you’ve done it in elevations over 10,000 feet.)
Some have been asking me how and if I mark quilts.
I measured this one... and then made a small handful of marks on the widest border all the way around before loading it on the frame – tiny little marks pinpointing every four inches, so I could get the large swags centered.  Someday maybe I’ll do something really fancy – and mark the stuffin’s out of a quilt before I begin.  Maybe.
I almost always draw designs with pencil on paper before I begin.  That helps me a lot.
I do have a long flexible ruler that I can bend into any shape I want... trace around it... flip it – and do a reverse on an opposite corner.  Pretty nifty.
I’m sorta impulsive, though.  Asymmetry is my friend!  
And now... I’d better hit the feathers, so I can get back to that quilt tomorrow, with gusto.




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





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