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June 2019

Sewing Together

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I grew up  in the south and my parents did not own their own house until I was out of college. Most of the places we rented during my childhood were old farmhouses, many of them built in the late 19th century, before air conditioning - thick walls, high ceilings, windows situated to allow for cross breezes. And always, always, there were porches.

I've begun to miss the porch life recently - somewhat silly, really, since Maryland's summertime weather is not what I, personally, would call pleasant. Hot, humid, buggy (especially this year, with all the rain:). 

We have a deck on our house - a pretty large one - built on the back of the house which means it is above ground by a story (our house is built on the side of a hill). The deck is in terrible repair and I recently took a bid to replace/rebuild it from a new-to-us contractor. This morning I got up early (for me:) to meet a second contractor's rep for another bid. Skip and I both thought it would be a good thing to get at least two bids so we had some idea whether the prices we were being quoted were reasonable. I look forward to have the deck to use again!

The rep was late (I had sympathy for him - he was stuck in traffic on I95, a local commonplace happening). :P

Since today is Friday, which is my usual get-together-to-sew day with my friend Barbara, I was a little antsy to get going during my talk with the rep ... but I kept patience. ;) Barbara decided we should eat at the food court in Columbia Mall. I am not sure how long it has been since I was last inside the Mall - a while, anyway. It has been considerably rebuilt and expanded since I was familiar with the layout so I could not figure out where to park for the shortest walk to the food court. Took a chance and managed to get some extra steps in for today. :)

After we ate (chicken teriyaki at Sarku), we removed to Barbara's air conditioned basement sewing area (bigger than a room:). I took my Glitter project box along again to hand piece. I realized last time I was working (to make Denise's Glitter swap blocks with bright fabrics) that I just don't have the 'oomph' to continue with my Japanese taupe Glitter project. I like the prints but I need more color to keep me engaged right now. Sigh and shrug.

So, I decided to finish my rectangular blocks out into squares. They are about 9" tall, finished - so I guess these will be 9" square when done. I managed to hand sew three of them this afternoon (the central rectangles were already done, I just had to choose fabrics, cut them and sew the side sections for each block).

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I have one more to finish ... then I think I will set these four blocks on point with alternate scrappy squares of taupe prints ... put a border on it and hand quilt the result. That ought to be good for carry-around work for a while. :) Then I will either bin the project and use the rest of my taupes to make something simpler (maybe a double four patch or garlic knot design) ... or find some nice bright prints to make another try. :)

The weather was hot today and fairly humid - low to mid 90s. I suffer from the heat and by the time I got home around 4:30 p.m., I was beat. I sat quietly in my comfy chair in the living room with my feet up and emitted infrared waves for about an hour before I felt human again. :)

I do not _have_ to go anywhere this weekend. I am actually looking forward to making some progress on my sewing room work. Fingers crossed for progress!

:) Linda


Family Issues

Family

I think this quote really sums up what 'family' means - whether it is the family you are born into or the one you build for yourself in life. :) Dave Willis turns out to be half of a team that blogs about marriage; I don't have a clue about them so click at your own interest. :)

Sunday the 23rd I spent a pleasant afternoon in Catonsville on Beaumont Avenue, near the public library, at a board meeting of the Baltimore modern guild. We usually have our board meetings just before the general meeting ... and, as you might expect, are rushed and try to be focused pretty tightly on necessary issues for time reasons. This meeting we assembled at a member's house and it was very collegial. :)

As secretary to the board, I usually take minutes using my Memo app on the iPhone ... this has the advantage that I can directly import the resulting document into my page layout software and then edit (for clarity:). Somehow I keep thinking there must be a better way (my thumb typing skills are slower than I would like - I'm pretty fast on a regular keyboard, though). For this meeting I used my iPad and my iPen to hand write notes into Sketchbook. 

That turned out to be less than helpful, too. Every time I touch the screen, the app makes a mark - this makes my hand writing even more inscrutable than it is (which is pretty bad already:). Also, I am finding this afternoon - as I try to transcribe my minutes for distribution - that I cannot read my scribble. The smallest size of 'pen' I could set in the Sketchbook app was too big and made super sloppy writing even worse to read. Sigh.

I might have to go the route of buying a real keyboard for my iPad to do this right. We'll see. My apologies for such tedious material for this post - but I need to be able to remember these details. :)

Anyway, the meeting was long and intense (we were reviewing/updating our guild by-laws) ... but very friendly with yummy snacks. Pretty setting, too. Many thanks go to Marcia for sharing her  home space with us!

Today started off with an appointment with a contractor to receive information I had asked for - a bid to replace/rebuild the attached second story deck on our house. It has fallen into serious disrepair and desperately needs replacing. The price he quoted was more than I expected but not unreasonable based on what has to be done. I will call another contractor that we have worked with before (to have our siding repaired last fall after a tree falling scraped most of it off). I think a second bid is important, especially when we plan to spend a serious amount of money.

I spent the rest of today in my usual lazy way - reading, napping, sewing a little bit (I have sewn together all the columns of blocks for my Slipstream scrappy quilt). I am thinking about whether to amp up the layout of this quilt a bit by offsetting the columns and making it a bit more 'modern' - or just sewing it together in the more usual way and be done with it. :)

I have four really important phone calls to make tomorrow morning - which means I will likely be on the phone all morning.

My sister was released from the hospital and seems to be doing ok at home - my niece Stephie came down from Nebraska to stay with her a while to take care of her and Amy is dropping in regularly. One of those phone calls I have to make is to pay the property taxes on that house. :P

My brother Jeff is in the hospital, too. The nursing home folks discovered that he had yet another bladder infection and he is suffering from some considerable fluid buildup that needs to be addressed. I think he is doing pretty well (the hospital nurse from his case called me with an update yesterday evening).

So, FAMILY is important ... and needs tending.

:) Linda

PS Skip (my astrophysicist spouse) and I just watched a replay of the SpaceX launch of STP-2 to put 24 satellites in orbit. For space geeks like us, that was pretty awesome stuff!


Quiet Play

Do no harm

It took me more than half my life to add the second clause to this saying. I was always the 'good girl' who avoided conflict (I still do, whenever possible) ... but I have learned by experience that times come when you do have to take a stand. I wish I had taught my children the 'take no bull' clause when they were small. My daughter is inherently unwilling to be pushed around (she pushes back) ... my son is learning. :) So am I, come to that.

Today was a pretty day but I never went outside to enjoy it. I slept late - some days I just need more sleep - and got started late. I _thought_ I'd spend some time working on tidying ... but instead I was lazy all day. I ate, read, played cards, and did a little sewing.

Last time I went to a modern guild meeting, I had a little time to browse through the library books on display. Among them I found A Quilters Yearbook ... just thumbing through it standing there, the book appealed to me, so when I got home I ordered a copy from Lucky Spool Books. It came in this week's mail delivery.

I am excited about working my way through this book - I'm not sure why, but the process seems to be appealing to me at the moment. :) I did the first exercise last night - making a tool binding for the book:

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As an altered book maker, I've done a lot of different techniques on and in bound books - but I can honestly say I have never before sewn through a cover. :) It was exciting to actually sew through the fabric to make tool slots from my chosen 'favorite' fabric. After I took this picture, I hunted up a pen, glue stick and scissors to use with my yearbook. Putting them into their slots kinda deformed the book cover - either my tools are more robust than the author's or my sewing was flatter. :) Still, the idea had merit and I'm going to see how it works out to keep the things attached to the book.

The second exercise asks you to choose your next quilt-y projects and put a picture of them with comments on the pages. This has me thinking about what I actually intend to make now rather than what I am wishing about in a pie-sky way. Hmmm. Food for thought!

:) Linda


Happy Summer!

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Today is the Summer Solstice - the longest day of the year. Hooray! :) If you click on the photo, you can go read about it and the events at Stonehenge in England. 

I thought our local longest day might be a rainy one when I went out late this morning (around 11:15 a.m.) - there were billows of dark gray clouds in the sky. My friends Patty and Barbara and I met at Bare Bones in Ellicott City for lunch, always a happy meal. I had a chicken club wrap with butter beans and corn fritters on the side (and half of Patty's steamed broccoli). YUM!

I got to use my handicapped parking sticker for the second time (first time was to go see my doctor:) - what a pleasure not to have to walk across a parking lot in the uncertain heat. :)

After lunch, Barbara and I went back to her house to sew together for the afternoon. I took along the Glitter blocks to finish by hand and am very, very happy with the way they turned out:

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So, two and a half blocks pieced by hand, one and a half by machine. Believe it or not, the hand sewing ones took less time - I did notice how long after I finished sewing. :)

By the time we had finished lunch, the gray clouds had blown away and the sky was blue with fluffy white 'spilt milk' clouds. :) The breeze was nice and it turned out to be a very pleasant day. Happy sighs!

:) Linda


Sleepy

Value of art

I'm going with this thought for today as being a propos of my life currently. :) Again today it was very wet, humid and hot (90s). Apparently we 'dodged the bullet' and got the southern edge of a big storm system that caused heavy thunderstorms and wind damage in southeastern PA. I'm ok with missing out on all that! :)

When I wake up in the morning I have such ambition but it evaporates by the time I finish breakfast. LOL. I did manage to do some sewing today, though. One of the members of my 'anything goes' bee swap group asked for Glitter blocks and I _finally_ found my project box with the templates and such. I cut out enough parts to make four blocks (these are pretty small blocks at about 5"x7" or so).

In an hour and a half of sewing, I got one block finished and one nearly done:

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I constructed these on the machine and it is a bit fiddly for that ... I am thinking to do the other two by hand (much simpler for me:). I used Kaffe Collective prints for the blocks (nothing like bright fabrics to cheer up a gray day:) - sure hope Denise likes them!

All through the day I was receiving (and responding to) texts about my sister and her medical condition. Things seem pretty positive, considering ... but her life will need to contain some self-care changes going forward. She's still in hospital so we are all hovering.

:) Linda


Rainy Evening

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Earlier today it was sunny and hot - mid 80s - and humid. This evening it is thundering outside and I expect it will rain again.

The pretty flowers above were seen when I was out and about in the early afternoon. I had a follow-up appointment with my pulmonologist about my shortness-of-breath issues. He thinks I will benefit from a different kind of cpap machine for my sleep apnea ... so I get to go take yet another sleep study next month (I've had four or five over the past twenty years). 

Other than that outing, I spent the day quietly. A little light housework, reading and some sewing. I _finally_ sewed my way to the bottom of my scrap basket today. YEAH! :) I have made four child-sized quilt tops from my most recent set of scraps. Probably won't do this again for a few months. LOL. Now to get them quilted.

Had a whole day of texting with my nieces and following my sister's care - she will need to go into a rehab facility after they release her from the hospital for therapy and stroke recovery. Also discovered that she's diabetic, so some changes needed there, too. Family is waiting for firmer news before we rush out to stay with her. All four of her children live close enough to visit right now ... I'll wait to see how long she has to be away from home before I go out. My main interest will be staying with my youngest brother (who lives with her and is mentally disabled).

:) Linda


Gray

Staying positive

This is actually a principle that I use daily. :) Today was a bit difficult. It was gray and rainy at times outdoors. Indoors, things were mostly quiet. I spent most of the afternoon down with intestinal issues, napping much of the time.

Then I got a phone call from one of my nieces. My younger sister (who lives in Kansas) had a stroke sometime early this morning and is in the hospital. Her daughters (my beloved nieces Amy and her younger sister Kimmie) are there to listen to the doctors, etc. Dodi is confused and suffering the after effects from the stroke - but these don't seem to be too bad on surface appearances. She'll be in the  hospital for at least three days while they run tests and try to find meds that will help her body stabilize. I expect to hear regular updates. I may end up going out west to see how she is ... but, for now, I'm just listening.

You just never know what life will send at you out of left field! Tell the people you love and be sure they hear you.

Linda


Moving Forward

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I came across this artist's work today online - Susanna Bauer - and was blown away. She works with real  leaves and beautiful hand sewing techniques. So cool! Click on the photo to go see her website. She lives in Germany so getting your hands on her work might be an adventure. :)

My day today started earlier than usual - woke up around 9 a.m. Today's weather was occasionally sunny but mostly overcast, high humidity and we had heavy rain a couple of times. My niece Amy called me via FaceTime in the early evening ... it was so wonderful, almost like being in her kitchen chatting with everyone who walked through to eat a snack. :) I love visiting her and her family - just sitting in a corner soaking up the ambiance makes me happy! :)

Unfortunately, I was so distracted by my chat (which we only ended because I was out of battery power:), I completely forgot to go to my Monday evening guild meeting. Sigh.

I had my beginning-the-second-year allergy clinic appointment this morning. Got my new vials of allergens, reviewed the safety guidelines (mostly about how to recognize negative responses and how to store the vials correctly), and gave myself the new shots. I _think_ the therapy is lowering my allergic responses but at the end of this year (which means  next May sometime) they will do the testing again to see whether I am still allergic to the four 'baddies' on my body's hit list. :)

After lunch, I took a very pleasant nap for two hours - I am starting to make an afternoon nap a regular 'thing.' Surprising how much I enjoy it, considering how much time I already spend horizontally. :P Always feel refreshed and happy after my nap. :)

My two hours of sewing time today included random stuff. I could not settle on the usual sewing so I made myself a new thread catcher using the Mini Pop-Up kit I bought at Bear's Paw when I was there for Grad Class earlier this month. Here are some views - I used a precious piece of my last bit of Outback Wife barkcloth fabric to make this. Most likely I will pack it into Blue's traveling kit.

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Here it is, in a rather poor exposure (indoor lighting beside my sewing machine); it's about the size of a pint yogurt cup.
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Here it is standing upside down to show off the bottom seaming.


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It collapses with an elastic for storage/travel.

Finished bottom

This is another view of the bottom.

I had fun sewing this although I felt compelled to resort to YouTube to watch a video as the instructions that came with the 'refill' kit (basically the spring, elastic and a label which I put into my ribbons and selvedge basket) were impenetrable. Poor old brain. LOL. At once point I had to stop and laugh, then cut off the 1/4" of bottom seam I had just nicely sewn (and overcast) - I forgot to take the tape off the ring and unfurl it before I sewed the whole thing shut. :)  My little thread catcher is about 1/4" shorter than normal. Grin and shrug.

The other thing I finished today was a pretty bead-hemmed scarf:

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It's all folded up here - it measures 72" long (or so). I had to sew a rolled hem on the two long sides and then put the fringe on the short ends. Of course, the beading string was broken at once end which I did not find out until I was done carefully sewing it on. Had to break out a size 12 Between needle and hand sew the last two fringes back on - good thing I enjoy beads! :) I have bought three or four of these (from Jinny Beyer Studio) but this is the first one I've actually finished. I think it looks like a (wild type - what geneticists call the 'normal' coloring of an animal) parakeet. You know, yellow, green and white.

:) Linda

 


More Fun With Friends

Messy quote

(Cue sounds of hysterical laughter) That's my story and I'm sticking to it. :)

Today was Father's Day - wish my Dad were here to share it with! I did manage to think of him several times. :) My son spent part of the day with his dad so I counted that good.

Meanwhile _I_ was at the monthly meeting of my Sew & Tell group at my friend Barbara's house. Let's see, who came? Me, Barbara, Beth, Amy, Kathy, Sandie, Deborah. Not bad for numbers. :) As usual, we had a yummy potluck lunch and I ate rhubarb for the first time with pleasure (as rhubarb sauce over roasted strawberry flavor ice cream:). 

I took my embroidery along to work on - bagged bringing Blue out as it was very humid and heavy and hot. Kinda nasty weather. Sigh. I managed to finish this little pretty which I started back in March:
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Now I have to decide exactly what I am going to make this into - tiny wall  hanging, sachet, pincushion, pouch ... what? The girlie (uh, woman) it's for knows who she is. :) It will be part of a very belated birthday gift ... being sick over the winter messed up a lot of my productivity plans for the first half of this year. :P

I spent the rest of the afternoon (between laughing and listening to my friends' stories) working on my never-ending Modern Crazy Mosaic block. No pictures - even I would get bored seeing how slowly this carry-along project is developing. I need to go through the threads in my little work bag and switch them out for some new colors and maybe some beads ... getting hard to find new and interesting combinations. :)

Allergy clinic tomorrow and my evening guild meeting ... and maybe some house clearing? One can hope. :)

:) Linda


Modern Friends

Dove quote

Last night I went to bed late - around 2 a.m. - so I slept later than usual this morning (well, technically I woke up in the afternoon:). The Columbia Modern Friends bee was meeting but I had forgotten where, exactly (we move around). I searched my email files but could not find the meeting notice ... so I tried to call folks I knew might come. I finally got in touch with Pat S. who told me today's get together was at Springwater Designs. Whew!

I grabbed a quilt protein bar snack for breakfast and was off. By the time I got there and settled, it was about 1:30. Three of us were there already sewing -  Rose, Cindy and Janet - so I made four. :) I brought along my favorite foundation 'paper' so first thing I traced off a triangle from the Quilt In A Box project for this month. Here's what I made:

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This pattern looked like roads running to the horizon to me. I've spent many hours viewing this exact scene ... so I tried to make it interesting. :)

That didn't take too long (less than an hour) to make. By then, Kate had arrived and started to sew with us ... and I didn't feel like being finished, yet, so I made another one:

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This is the design I had originally intended to do first (but got distracted by highways:). I'm not totally happy with my color placement but it's ok. I used what fabrics were given in the box so this will blend with the other blocks fine. :) I could make an entire series of this block, each with different color placements. 

I did manage to do a little shopping since we were at Springwater and I had not been in to see what was enticing for a while. :) Found the new issues of Simply Modern and Quiltmania ... and some pretty fat quarters ... and a Layer Cake of prints that surprised Dawn (very 1830's prints). I bought some Cake Mix papers on sale last month from Quilt In A Day and I think this would be a good choice for a small gift project. :) Oh, and a big spool of Aurifil 50 weight thread so I could sew. 

The weather was pretty today - fresh air, lower humidity, breeze and mid 70s when I got to the store; by the time I left around 4:30 the mercury was up to 89 degrees and my car was HOT inside. That and the excessive humidity are the most difficult things I deal with here in Maryland. I cannot breath really hot air (actually, I think I might have a touch of heat-aggravated asthma) so getting into a hot car is a slow process of running the a/c with windows open and panting for a few minutes until the heat eases off. :P

I drank two glasses of ice water when I got home and read through the week's snail mail, then my two new magazines. No more sewing ... I went up stairs to read blogs on my desktop computer and then watched a couple of classes on Bluprint. Now it's time for bed.

Any day I can spend with sewing friends is a GOOD day.

:) Linda