Summer days

Yesterday, Rob and I found ourselves talking about what summer days would have been like when we were kids.

We were driving with the windows down, enjoying the cool part of the day and I started with;

We'd be finishing up in the pea patch. We'd have gone out soon after sunup and picked peas all morning and just when it started to get too hot, we'd take bushels of peas and load them into the back of Uncle Roy's white Chevrolet pickup and drive them down the hill and across the road and back them up in the shade of what I think was intended to be a carport, but was just a slab, between the back door and the well, that was open to breezes from all directions and covered and shaded and had the chest freezer in it.

We'd take the peas in and spread them out on sheets so they'd stay cool...can't let the peas go through a "heat" or they won't be any good. Sometimes, we'd sprinkle them with water to help keep them cool. And, then we'd shell peas all the rest of the day. I can remember what an honor it was to be old enough to help shell the peas. I can remember that the first few times that my thumbs were purple from shelling purple hull peas, I was a bit freaked out, but after that, it became a badge of honor.

After we had shelled enough to start the freezing process, Aunt Lucille and Mama would start to bring pots of water to a boil for blanching and large chunks of ice would be pulled out to chill water for the hot peas to be dropped in and then, they'd be bagged in freezer bags with enough water to make a brick (but not too much because "nobody needs a freezer full of water"...I wish I could remember who said that.) The bags would be stacked in the freezer and kept to be eaten for the rest of the year.

Rob's summer days included taking his cane pole and going fishing with a bunch of friends. They'd fish all morning with a sack lunch and then swim all afternoon in a cool water tank or pond. They rode their bikes all over town and down to the river. He tells quite mischievous stories about occassionally roaming town with a gang of his friends at night, when they were all supposed to be in bed.

Our childhood memories are so different. His more the mischievous Tom Sawyer and mine the country memories of Little House.

Okay, so we took yesterday off and got a ton of stuff done. This was my main chore and I spent all afternoon at it. I've never ironed this many shirts at one time. I hope never to iron this many shirts at one time again.

Everyone take care and have a great day. It's Saturday. The official second day of vacation. Except that vacation hasn't really started yet.



Let's get back to quilting...

Okay, so this garment sewing thing has been fun. And, I certainly will make more garments in future, though probably not back-to-back like this. But, I have fulfilled my desire to make clothes for a while and am ready to get back to some good old quilting. We did our fashion show and here are our pics in our new clothes.

Sydney is modeling her apple green princess cut shirt. I shared the story of Sydney's muslin in this post. There is a little growing room in this for her. No need to make things skin tight. (One night, in her sleep, I'm going to slip in with my scissors and clear that crap off her wrists.) I noticed that her nails are painted just this shade of apple green. And, her toenails are painted gold. Hmmm. Now I see where all that time is going during the day.

Okay, this is my shirt. Gold Batik. I love it. And, the shorts are the ones I made a couple weeks ago. I thought the pic would be more shorts and less face, but that's what you get when a 13 year old says she takes the best photos in the house.

And, Rob's shirt. I think he thought he was going to get a second chance. But, no. This is the one we're posting for the world to see. Wanna know why? Look at that grin. You can see the placket down the center front of the shirt. But, can you tell it was a mistake? Another win with the Robster. He likes it. He really likes it.

Okay, so on to quilting. This is the traveling-perpetual-hexagon-medallion-quilt. Every time I finish what I had planned, I think of something else to stick on it. I'd guess I've been working on this off and on for about 5 years. It's not laid out exactly how it's going to be, but it's close enough for you to get the idea. I made some serious mistakes in putting that outer border together into small sections and thought I had run out of hexies and would need to make more before I could work on it more. I guess the last time I worked on this I was so excited about having the courage to sew on a plane and in an airport that I lost track of my pattern. Oh, well. This morning, I pulled the sections out and figured out what I had done wrong. About 3 hours of work had to be taken out, but it wasn't all a loss. This is another great travel project. It doesn't take up much room and goes pretty quick if the hexies are prepared in advance.

I'll have three portable travel projects on the drive. I lose interest easily and one is a new skill that I'll be learning. I decided that three was the magic number to make sure I don't lose interest or get bored.

So, the last thing is a reflection on Sydney and vacation. We're trying to work with her on picking clothes to take. I forget that she's 13 and doesn't know how to pack. Before she came to us, packing was throwing a few things in a grocery sack. She never learned how. She's big as me and very mature, so it's easy to have adult expectations of her. But, really, she's still got some of that vulnerable little girl in her, too. Last night, Rob spent a good bit of time with her, talking about what she'll want to take and what can be packed now and what needs to wait. (I was a bit put out about some undone chores, so it was a night for him to take the lead) I talked to her some more this morning about how I pick what I'm going to take. I remember when I learned to pack for a trip. I was a grown man. For Sydney, it's learning to take enough. For me, it was learning not to pack too much. I've gotten much better at deciding what I'll really need and packing just that. Now, I can pass that knowledge along to Sydney, before she has a suitcase explode in the middle of the Dallas/Ft Worth airport ticket area, showing everybody her tidy whities.

Yes, that did happen to me. The ticket agent had to tape it shut with strapping tape.

Everybody have a great Thursday. It's my last work day before vacation. This morning, I'm practicing focus...cuz it would be really easy to get distracted.




Couple weeks ago, I posted about the difference between self indulgence and self care for me. I am trying to take care of some self care stuff that I've been putting off for a while. This week has been all about surrendering to my current situation and then accepting that I can make changes.

Monday, in counseling, my whole theme was taking control. Taking more control of my retirement savings. Taking more control of my health. Taking more control of my medications. Taking more control of my body.

Half of that is surrendering to where I am right now. Accepting that I'm not really in control of things the way they are. Accepting that what I thought might have been the right decision in the past, might not be the right decision anymore. And, accepting that I made what I thought were the right decisions, so there's no need to beat myself up about it.

It's not about right or wrong. It's about what I did yesterday, what I'm doing today, and what I'm going to do tomorrow.

So, the whole taking more control of my body one is pretty inocuous and I can talk about that without putting too much out there. I gave up working out because my feet hurt. I thought I had injured myself and that if I just rested, it would get better, and I could get back to it. It did get better, but only in so much as I stayed off my feet. If I was on my feet too long, the pain came back. That's yesterday. Today, I'm doing yoga. I can get a full, sweaty workout from yoga, if I want it, or just some simple stretching and relaxing if I want it. And, while lots of parts of my body hurt after yoga, my feet do not. I'm also going to talk about my feet with the doctor after vacation when I get my cholesterol checked. That's in the future. Yesterday, today, tomorrow.

Wasn't wrong of me to give up my power walks. The decision was a good one at the time. But, it did prove harder to get re-started with a workout routine than I expected after several months of resting. Still, not right or wrong. Just what is. I surrender to what is so that I can change it. I accept that I don't need to evaluate past decisions on the scale of right/wrong. And, that gives me power to do something different now.

So, I've blogged about singing a lot lately. This morning, it was a great church song from childhood that inspired the title and theme of this post. I can remember it so clearly. It was usually reserved for the end of church service when the minister was standing in front in case anyone felt inspired to come down for a quiet chat or confession or conversion or recommitment.

The ladies would sing: I surrender all
And, the men would echo in bass: I surrender all
And, the ladies would repeat: I surrender all
And, the men would echo again: I surrender all
And, all together, in a crescendo: All to Jesus, I surrender, I surrender all.

Funny how all those religious images have stuck in my mind, and today, shape what goes on in my mind when I'm not really thinking about anything. While this song was playing in the background of my mind and my post was taking shape, my hands were watering the flowerbed.

I get that same inspiration from quilting.

Take care and have a great Wednesday. I packed my sewing stuff this morning and the pile is smaller than even I expected. Hmmm. Plenty of space. But, I have to remember...

"This space reserved for future purchases." Whoohoo!!



I love the mailman

He's just the nicest guy. When I get packages, he leaves them in his truck until the end of his route, when our cars are in the drive, and then he delivers them.

Okay, but my favorite part about the mailman is that he brings me presents. Any man that brings me presents on a regular basis is number 3 in my book (after Rob and Sydney).

Yesterday, he delivered these 12 pieces of hand dyed fabric from my friend Patricia at My Quilting Adventure. She dyes fabric every year and wanted me to have some of her creations to use in my work.

I can hardly wait to use these. Since they came in, I've been thinking of things I could use them for. I'm seeing a beautiful log cabin with these fabrics and an off white hand dye. And, I'm seeing some applique, maybe red flowers with brown stems and green leaves and blue berries on more of that off white hand dye. Okay, so I'm going to be stingy with these, so I should be able to get three projects out of them. Let's see. Red, Green, Blue...I'm thinking Christmas. Where is my pattern book?

Thank you Patricia. They are lovely and I plan to use every inch. I'm going to take them on vacation so I can look at and stroke them and maybe find them a friend or two to play with.

On other sewing news, I am so proud of how Rob's shirt came out. The faux placket on the front looks so right. If you didn't know I'd had an oopsie, you wouldn't know I'd had an oopsie. In fact, I might do a faux placket on another camp shirt it turned out so well. Anyway, just need to finish sewing on buttons. I did 6 on Sydney's shirt this morning and have 10 more to go. Then, we can model for pictures and I can start packing up my sewing kit.

So, this morning, my kid asks me if I'm on drugs. She says I am just in too good a mood. She wants to know why I'm singing so much and in such a good mood. I am on a drug. It's called "prevacationum". It works much like valium. I am so relaxed. It's nice to get a nice relaxed week before vacation when I'm filled with anticipation and it will be nice to be on vacation for a week. But, then I'll have to come back to work and we all know what that kind of catching up is like. Not gonna think about that. Instead, I'll just keep on singing.

Wanna know how to make your kid shut up? Start singing a song where they are the main character. And, sing it loud. I recommend "Sydney in the Sky with Diamonds". Or, maybe "Bridge over Troubled Sydney". Or for you Hee-Haw fans:

"Gloom, despair and agony on Sydney
Deep, dark depression, excessive misery
If it weren't for bad luck she'd have no luck at all
Gloom, despair and agony on Sydney."

Maybe "Ya picked a fine time to leave me, loo-Sydney".

You get the picture. Parenting can be fun. Wanna really have fun? Start singing one of these songs at the store, next time you're there.

Everybody have a great Tuesday.



Back up. Try again.

So, I had this goal to make a pair of shorts and three shirts before vacation. Vacation begins this Sunday.

Shorts? Check. After the wash, they look even better. I just need to move the button over and they'll be plenty good to wear in public.

Shirt one? Check. All it needs is the buttons. I put all the buttonholes in yesterday.

Shirt two? Check. All it needs is buttons. I put the buttonholes in yesterday.

In fact, I had such good luck at putting button holes in that I was pretty complacent about it. All the work is in the setup. Then, I don't even need to really pay attention. I had great fun illustrating this for Sydney while she stared at my old fashioned buttonholer working away while I looked elsewhere and did other things.

This morning, I hemmed the sleeves of Rob's shirt and then I hemmed the bottom hem. All is going really good. I'm on schedule. In a half hour, I should have three shirts ready for buttons and I'll sew all those on by machine.

I install the buttonholer and get everything set up and I put the shirt in the machine and I let her rip and something wierd happens that results in a broken needle. Okay. I'm flexible. Pull it out. Rip the stitches. Start again. Starts good. I can relax and stop really paying attention again. This time, the needle grinds a hole in the shirt.

A flurry of embarassing, R-rated movie quotes ensues.

I forgot to install the feed dog cover with the buttonholer so the buttonholer was pulling one way and the feed dogs were pulling the other and before I knew it, there was a tear. Horizontally.

Okay. I'm a grownup. This is just a set back. So, I take the left side of the front apart, cut a strip to act as a button hole facing or whatever you call that thing that runs down the front of a dress shirt and I get it all put back together. When I had to get up, I was right where I was when I got up this morning. Over and hour later. One line of top stitching and the buttonholes left to go.

Do you think I'll ever forget the feed dog cover again?

Not likely.

We had a good weekend. Despite the fact that I did make most of two shirts, I also got lots of other stuff done. We picked up the last things for vacation and started packing things up. I don't think anybody feels rushed, which is good. The week before vacation is usually a flurry of frantic activity for us, but not this time.

I even got to work in the yard, moving plants around...although when I was working on that, I didn't realize that we were expecting record breaking highs this week. Oh, well. Plants were dying where they were, so I figure I at least gave them a shot by moving them. And, there was a major aquarium cleaning. Always a lot of work, but I love that aquarium and can sit and watch the fish for hours...if I could sit still for hours.

Take care and have a great Monday. Lane


More clothes

This is the pair of shorts I just finished. They're okay. Certainly good enough for lolling around in. I'm not really excited about the waist. There's no true waistband and I don't really care for that. There's a facing that folds to the inside, but it's just not the same weight as a real waistband would have. But, they're nice and loose and comfy everywhere else.

I cut out two shirts this morning. I cut them out together. I didn't think about how remakable that was until I was finished. These are two batik shirts. Green for Rob and Yellow for me.

Busy weekend planned. It's the last weekend before we leave for vacation. Are you tired of hearing about it yet? I feel like a kid that's been promised a trip to disneyland...but has to wait to get to go.

I'm in charge of food. I have my list of what I need to take and what I want to get when we get there. Take coffee. Buy charcoal there. Take a sharp knife. Take vinegar to clean the coffeepot. Buy groceries there. To save a bit, we plan to do our stuff during the day and eat our meals out for lunch and then hang around the cabin in the evenings. I'll cook, but not much cuz I'm on vacation, too. Rob and I love to head out to a bakery for breakfast and get a sweet and a coffee and stroll through a park or something. We're hoping to find a coffeeshop with wifi access. Course we only do that on vacation. We never go to coffeeshops around here. Guess that given the choice, we'd rather have coffee at home. But, on vacation, we can be adventurous. This will be a good chance to let the monster sleep late.

Okay, so everyone have a great Friday. As usual, I will be out in the morning and secluded in the cool in the afternoon. Hopefully sewing.



I have to share this touching story

Ron Wallen testifies against DOMA

Ron Wallen, a widower who lost his parter of almost 60 years to cancer this year, testified in front of the U.S. Senate yesterday about why DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) hurts gay people like him. It’s one of the most moving personal stories we’ve read in support of gay marriage rights. You can also watch the webcast here.

Here’s Wallen’s story:

My name is Ron Wallen. I am 77 years old and I live in Indio, California.

Four months ago, my husband and partner of 58 years, Tom Carrollo, died of leukemia. Tom and I first met way back in 1953 when Tom was 23 and I was 19. We were properly introduced, and had an old-fashioned courtship. And even though it sounds corny in this day and age, Tom was the one and only man in my life. And, from the first day, we enjoyed a sense of togetherness, which never weakened in both good times and bad.

When we first got together in the 1950s, we faced some difficult challenges; in those days we could easily lose our jobs if people at work knew we were gay. This was certainly the case when we held jobs with security clearances.

Tom served in the U.S. Navy during the very first combat engagement of the Korean War and I later served in the Army for two years. That service represented the only time in our 58 years that Tom and I were really apart for any significant period of time. We were proud to serve our country when called.

In 1978, on our 25th anniversary, Tom suffered a massive heart attack, and his doctor told us that he had to retire from work in order to survive beyond that year. He was only 47 years old. We were just entering the good earning years of our lives, but when faced with that kind of verdict, you do what you have to do.

We left our businesses, and moved to Mexico, and then Florida, where we lived for 14 years. We carefully invested our savings (which became severely depleted during the financial crisis), and we did a lot of volunteer work – especially at an AIDS service organization during the early years of the AIDS crisis.

We later relocated to the Palm Springs area, near our three nieces. We have always been very close to our nieces and nephews – I was Uncle Ron to Tom’s nieces and nephew and he was Uncle Tom to my nieces.

In 2005, we bought a home in Indio, California, where we enjoyed many gatherings with friends and family. Tom was a great cook, and our joy in life was hosting small dinner parties at our wonderful home. Our lives were filled with spending time together and with friends and family. And that was pretty much our life together until his last illness.

A very important day for us was June 24, 2008, after the California Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples could marry in California. We were among the 18,000 lucky couples given the opportunity to stand before family and friends and marry the one person they loved above all others. It was glorious. It was wonderful – a day of pure joy! We shared our marriage with our family and friends – including our beloved friend Annie, who was 82 years old when she stood up for us on our wedding day.

Despite over 50 years together, marriage was that something that had been missing all through those years together – the opportunity to stand before our peers and families and the rest of society and make a public vow of the commitment and devotion we had shared for so long. And as longstanding as our love for each other was, we were nevertheless taken by surprise by the amount of emotion that came to us when the words – “by the power vested in me by the State of California, I now pronounce you married for life” – were spoken. Imagine, after 55 years together, the two of us were blubbering on our wedding day.

We all know that part of the marriage vow is – in sickness and in health – and even at our wedding we were already facing the worst because Tom had been diagnosed with lymphoma, which later morphed into leukemia. And, knowing the handwriting on the wall, I threw a party for Tom’s 80th birthday. It was the last time we had both of our families and all of our friends together, celebrating with us. That was a wonderful day.

Tom’s illness was four years of pure hell, with more hospitalizations than I can count using both hands and feet. I was up day and night trying to make things easier and more comfortable for him; and not a month went by that I was not rushing him to the emergency room. But, like any other married couple facing troubles, we were in it together. Tom didn’t have leukemia, we had leukemia! And as rotten as those four years were, they were made ever so much easier because we had each other for comfort and love, and because we were married.

Tom died four months ago on March 8, and I miss him terribly. At times it is hard to imagine how life will go on without him. I wake up in the morning, and forget for a minute, that he is not in the kitchen making coffee. And beyond the emptiness caused by the loss of the man I have spent my entire adult life with, my life has also been thrown into financial turmoil, because of DOMA.

Like a lot of retirees, we took a big financial hit in the stock market these past couple of years. But between Tom’s social security benefit of $1,850, his small private pension of about $300, and my social security check, which was $902, we had a combined steady monthly income of $3,050, which covered our mortgage, and other basic costs of keeping a roof over our heads. The rest of our living expenses were covered by the income from our diminished investments – not sumptuous, but enough.

As you know, for married couples in this country, Social Security allows a widow or widower to either claim their own benefit – or the benefit amount of their deceased spouse, if that was higher. That Survivor’s Benefit is often what allows the widow or widower to stay in their family home, at a very difficult time. But DOMA says that gay and lesbian couples -including those like us who were legally married – cannot get that same treatment from Social Security.
Knowing this, I still went to the Social Security office a week after Tom’s funeral to apply for his benefit. I was immediately told that I would not qualify for Tom’s benefit, due to the Defense of Marriage Act. It took four months to receive a letter from the Social Security Administration, after I prodded them multiple times.

With this rejection of Tom’s benefits, my reliable income went from $3,050 a month, down to $900 per month. To pay the mortgage and taxes each month on my home is $2,078. By spending some of our savings, I could have stayed there longer while planning next steps for my future. But you don’t have to be an accountant to see that from the first day after Tom passed away, I have had to worry about how I could pay that mortgage and support myself.

You may be thinking that lots of widows and widowers downsize, and make adjustments, after the loss of their spouse. Downsizing is one thing, but panic sale of a home which is underwater, is another. That is my current reality. I am selling the last house I shared with my husband in a panic sale because I can’t afford the mortgage and expenses. I am spending my days and nights sorting through our possessions, packing boxes to move – even while I am still answering the condolence cards that come in the mail.

The Survivor’s Benefit would have done for me what it does for every other surviving spouse in America – ease the pain of the loss, help during a very difficult transition, and allow time to make decisions and plan for my future alone. It is devastating to know that any married couple in the U.S. regardless of how long they were married, can depend on the Survivor’s Benefit. Yet, I could not – after 58 years with my spouse – simply because we were two married men. This is unfair and unjust.

In the end, without the Survivor’s Benefit, I am forced to sell our home and find a new place for all the wonderful things that are the touchstones of our 58 years of togetherness. As you know, the real estate market is in a shambles right now -and that is especially true around Palm Springs. I am selling our home at a terrible loss and I have already lowered the price substantially twice. I have had very few lookers, and no serious buyers.

After a lifetime of being a productive citizen, I am now facing financial chaos. Tom and I worked hard, and together we tried to live out our own version of the American dream. We served our country; we paid our taxes; we volunteered in the community; we bought a home and maintained it properly; and got married as soon as we were legally able to do so. And yet, as I face a future alone without my spouse of 58 years, it is hard to believe that it is the American government that is throwing me out of my family home.

There is an easy fix to the problem and that is repealing DOMA. This is a discriminatory law against women and men like me who share our love and commitment with a partner of the same sex. All we ask is to be treated fairly, just like other loving and committed married couples. I beg you to repeal this law and allow all married couples the same protections.

I can't help but share this story. It touched me so to hear of a couple that did it all right, but because of the misguided demands of a few, the surviving spouse is being treated differently. You aren't likely to hear me ask for marriage. Marriage is a religious institution that I want no part of. But, equal rights? That's a whole 'nuther matter.

How my heart reaches out to give some condolence, but all I can do is share the story so we all can know. And we all can make a difference. lw

Dinner anyone?

Wednesday is vegetarian night for us. Okay, so it's forced vegetarian night. Rob and Sydney wouldn't choose it, I don't think, but they have been relatively supportive of my adventures in making vegetarian dinners. Sydney's feedback was to please cook less eggplant. I can live with that. We've had a ton of different veggies, cooked in a variety of ways.

This is a picture of last night's dinner. Squash, zucchini, bell pepper, onion, potatoes, carrots. I salted and cooked the potatoes and carrots in the microwave for 5 minutes so they would be done about the same time as the softer veggies. I liberally peppered and Mrs Dash'ed and olive oiled it all and even though it conflicts with the use of the Dash, I salted it a little more and . Tossed it all in the hot grill wok and stirred every so often until it was crusty and cooked all together. We had that and a baguette and it was yum-MEEE.

Now, before you start thinking that we eat like this all the time, I must confess to Sunday lunch; a chicken that I cut in half and roasted, cut sides down on a bed of potatoes and carrots. There ain't nothin' better than potatoes and carrots, cooked in meat fat. Well, except for maybe butter.

I eat several vegetarian meals a week because it makes me feel better to know that I'm eating less meat. That's the compromise in our family. I cook a meatless meal every week for the family and then I can have all the meatless meals I want for me.

So, why have I resorted to posting about food? Because I am not sewing. I just finished a pair of shorts for me and a shirt for Sydney. Well, I say finished. I picked the button for the waistband on the shorts this morning. That's all that's left of them and I need to pick up buttons for Sydney's shirt. I changed fabrics for that shirt at the last minute and forgot that I didn't have buttons for the new piece.

I hope to get two more shirts made for our vacation and then I'm getting back to quilting. I'm starting to miss it. My latest project is folded up on the end of the sofa in the sewing room, just waiting for me to get back to it. But, that's actually a good thing because I had some extra quilting I wanted to do on it, but I was pretty much burned out from looking at it and considering leaving that last quilting out. When I pull it out, I'll be all refreshed to quilt again and able to plow through until I get it just the way I want it to be.

I have two quilts that are almost finished and I also want to get some more work done on them.

I've been in a really creative phase, trying to finish things and that left the sewing room looking like a dervish had been set loose in there. Part of that whole self care thing that I talked about on Monday includes cleaning up my space...not just the sewing room, but all my spots where I drop things when I'm too busy being creative (self indulgent) to put them where they belong.

And, I'm evaluating how much of my sewing room actually needs to go with me on vacation. You'll be proud to know that the pile is very, very small. Now, if I can just keep it that way. Maybe I should take pics before the pile gets any bigger ;-)

Everyone have a great Thursday. Lane


The last Preacher and other stuff.

When I was young, we called the leader of our church "Preacher". Not, Reverend Jim or Brother Smith. Just Preacher.

When I was young, I went and talked to Preacher about my gay friend. I had met a gay friend...my first gay friend...the first person I ever knew, that I knew was gay. I explained to him that I had a friend that was gay and I was going to invite my friend to come to church with me and I would appreciate it if he didn't preach anything anti-gay when I did. I was extremely polite about it. He was open to my request.

Next time I went to see Preacher, it was to tell him that my gay friend and I had had an affair and I liked it and what was I supposed to do about it.

To his credit, I don't remember him saying anything disparaging or calling me a sinner, or calling down a bold of lightening. He explained that my parents were not going to accept that. I should keep it pretty quiet. And, he didn't say anything to my parents about it.

I remember that when I came out and shared that I had already talked to Preacher, my Mom was furious. She felt that Preacher should have told them. I don't know why. I don't know what difference it would have made.

And, he was right. My parents had trouble with it. And, eventually, we found a relationship around it.

After that, I went to church less and less. It was hard to reconcile my feelings that Jesus loved me no matter what with the church's teachings on the horror of homosexual sin. After I moved away, I only went to church a few times when visiting my parents. Finally, I just told them I wasn't going anymore and stayed home to prepare a big Sunday lunch. So, not all my sinfulness was wasted...at least it resulted in a good meal.

That made Brother Glenn my last preacher.

This morning, my Mom shared in an email that Bro. Glenn had passed away a few days ago. That makes me retrospective. I'll always remember that the advice he gave me was right, even if it wasn't what my Mom thought he should do. No regrets. Just a bit of a sad feeling about the passing of my last "Preacher".


Okay, on to happier pictures. Remember that I've had a bunch of pics that didn't get uploaded last week. Here are a few of those and a few new ones.

This is a new one. I finished these fun socks last night and am wearing them today. I love knitting socks. So portable and they don't take too long. Next pair is tan.

This is another new pic. This is the sorting ceremony at the house last night. I friend of mine lost her Parents over the last couple years and she and her sister are cleaning out the house. R's Mom was a crocheter and I got a big box of patterns a few weeks ago. They inspired me to start a rug and a doily. Anyway, this is what was in three huge bags. In the background, there's a beautiful ripple afghan that is about half done and enough yarn to make at least one more. I'll finish the one that's started for Linus and then maybe make one for us from the leftover yarn. It's a real beauty. The rest got divided between Linus and my stash. Linus gets full skeins and I get short skeins that will work great in another of my scrap afghans. The crochet thread goes to my stash for tying Linus quilts and more patterns and books. There's even a skein of lavendar cashmere that I think is going to be a scarf for Sydney for cmas.

This little quilt was a save. It was made by a Girl Scout troop and they donated it to Linus. It's the Cinderella story. In the upper right corner was a block that had Li'l Cindy crying and the block said "Dad died". That's true to the story, but what if this little quilt got to a girl who's Dad had died. Linus was going to donate it to a third world country because of that one block. So, I took it home, took it apart, colored over the words to make a black cloud and the new words say "Sad Days". I put it back together, gave it some really cool quilting and a real binding and turned it back in last Saturday.

I promised pics of the afghans I made and donated. Here they are. This is my second afghan to ever make. The green yarn with the purple highlights came from Linus with one skein of the purple yarn. I added another skein of purple and this is what I came up with.

On this one, I was going for the look of an old wool blanket. I think I got pretty close for someone that was making their third afghan.

And this one, you've seen recently. My Mom donated the brown yarn and I added scraps of the other colors. Those short skeins from R's Mom will help make another one of these.

Okay, so that's it from me on this Way Back Wednesday that has stuff from as far back as yesterday.

Take care and we'll see ya' round the www.



Self indulgence vs self care

Every once in a while, the universe reminds me that self indulgence is not the same thing as self care. Or, maybe what I mean is that self indulgence is only part of the bigger picture of self care. But, you can't self care just by being self indulgent. You need other things to self care (in addition to some self indulgence).

Okay, if your head is swimming after that paragraph, then you know exactly how I've been feeling for at least a week.

Here's how it started.

This thought: I should be taking better care of myself. Eat well. Work out. Be retrospective. Mostly, I need to work out. Working out is the secret to handling frustration and anger for me.

Second thought: How can I take better care of myself. I already spend every spare minute doing what I want to do.

And, that's where I sat for several months.

Yes, I was spending every spare minute being self indulgent. But, I was sewing or knitting, or crocheting. Not walking. Not doing yoga. Not getting any exercise. I had become three dimensional. Family. Crafting. Work. (I gladly insert "In that order".)

Here's the story. I had put all my self care eggs in one basket. I was walking every day. And subsequent to that, dieting and meditating and recharging. Over time, something happened to my feet. The more I walked, the more they hurt. And, not just during my morning walks. The more I walked in the morning, the harder it was to get out of my office chair and walk during the day. Heaven forbid that I do anything barefoot because if I stand too long without shoes, my feet will hurt for three days.

Yes, I have to take that to the doctor. And yes, even taking it to the doctor is an example of self care. And, no I haven't done it yet, even though my feet have been bothering me for over a year. I thought that if I rested, things would get better. And, it was true. They did get better. As long as I wear shoes and don't walk a whole lot. I let my sore feet separate me from a whole lot of my self care.

But, I was self indulgent as all get out. I made quilts, I made afghans, I made a roman shade, I painted part of the kitchen, I made socks and a wool coat. You name it. If I could use it to indulge myself in my favorite passtimes, I did it.

Now, a bit of that was stressful self indulgence over that mouth surgery I had and a whole lot of it was stressful self indulgence about work. And, everybody knows that having a 13 year old in the house is stressful.

But, a whole lot of it was letting self indulgence trump self care.

I guess this post is just to reaffirm that I also need self care. And, the first step of any journey is always the hardest...especially if you're trying to get back on a horse you recently fell off of. (how's that for mixing metaphors?) Yesterday and today, I had a nice preliminary yoga workout. Just some stretching and some balance work. No program or structure. Just stretch a muscle, use a muscle, free form work. With a bit of soft jazz in the background and a 5 minute meditation at the end.

But, it has done wonders for my mental well being. Just knowing that I'm doing something...anything...to take care of me. Not to indulge me, but to take care of me. It will rarely be what I want to do. I'd rather be crafting. But it is what I need to do. And, over time, it will become what I enjoy doing again.

But for today, I'm sore. In a good way. And, I'm sooo relaxed. Yes, I took some time to indulge in some sewing this morning. But I also took some time to take care of me.

Now, you take care of you, however you do that best.

Have a great Tuesday. Lane


Lane's Project Linus Quilts

It was hard yesterday to turn in my Linus quilts. Each one, a piece of me. A memory, a technique, a practice. Rob made me this bit of a video to help me remember them. I'll show the three afghans sometime soon.

I dropped them off and looked like people we actually getting to work on their own projects. I hope these make somebody more comfortable.

Everybody take care and have a great rest of your Sunday.



This and That, revisited

Yes, I did just hit the publish button with just pictures in this post, just like I said I was going to do. But, I didn't mean it. I have to talk. I have to talk like I have to breathe.

This is Linus July. My Mom donated the brown yarn and I added in scraps of the other colors. Even though it's kind of heavy, it's still cheerful. I hope it goes to some kid in hospital. It's always cold in hospitals. We are going to do the Linus retrospective photo shoot before I do the drop off tomorrow, so you'll be seeing this one again, real soon.

And, since I finished a crochet project, I also started a crochet project. This is the rug. All cotton. The plan is to dye it and see how that works. Red hides stains in my kitchen real good. I'm hoping a good trip through the dryer will shrink it just enough to tighten it up a bit and make it a bit more solid. Last step will be to baste it to a non-skid mat and find a bare spot on the floor.

This is Sydney's princess style shirt pattern. See all that masking tape? That's where I added size to the pattern. I trace all my patterns with black pen onto plain old gift wrapping tissue. Then, when adjust the pattern, I adjust all the pattern markings with a red pen. It made it really easy to cut out the real shirt this morning. It is the brightest green solid and is going to look terrific against her dark skin tone. So, here's the thing. She wants the girlie clothes. She wants me to make them. But, she hasn't had the courage to wear any of them out of the house yet.. I can see her tentatively stepping into a change in style, but not really being ready to take the leap yet. I'm good with that. Going to try to lead her to trying new styles on vacation when nobody she knows can see her. We'll see. In the meantime, I'll make the water and take it to the horse, and I promise not to try to make her drink it.

Next picture is my dh being wierd. I can't put a camera in the man's hand without him taking some really tragic picture of me talking. Here, he asked me a question about the camera. But, the question was just an excuse to get the camera near my face so he could take a picture of me answering him. Wierdo. Gonna keep him.

This picture is of my shorts muslin. Yes, that is from the same sheet that Sydney's shirt muslin came from. And, it is hideous as a pair of men's shorts. But, only you will ever see me in them.

I need more shorts like this, but they're between $25 and $30 in the store.

I have yards and yards and yards infinitum of fabric that would make great shorts like these.

What I have and what I need are about to meet up in the form of a pair of green shorts for vacation.

Sydney says I can hem them this high, because I have nice legs from working out. Wow, a compliment from the kid who usually suggests I wear a birka to cover all my gross old manness.

Everybody have a great Friday. I'm working from home. The neighbor has guys working on her fence that are going to be tramping through my back yard all day. I know it's overprotective that I don't want to leave my kid home alone. But, that's just not important when I think of what could happen. This time, it's okay to overparent.

See ya'. Lane


This 'n That

That's a great title for a Thursday post without pictures. I'm blaming the no pictures on Sydney because she distracted me this morning. I have taken pics. I have them in the camera. I planned to upload them after Breakfast.

But, at the breakfast table, we started today's chore list and despite everything from yesterday, she started crying. Because she needed to dust 6 pieces of furniture in the dining room and continue to wash more windows (which she's getting paid to do).

All I could do was laugh and go on with my chores. Doing my chores gave me time to think. When I was headed back in the house, she was headed outside. So, we sat at the table on the deck and had a bit of chat. Okay, I chatted. She just sat there and looked surprised. Here's sorta how it went.

Nothing in life is free. You do chores to pay for the priviledges you enjoy that come from living with us. Priviledges are anything that doesn't keep you alive or further your education. That means that TV's and games and phones are all priviledges. If you keep griping about those chores, you give up all those proviledges. Your choice. But, I'm tired of listening to it...and tears do not faze me. Oh, and by the way, were you asleep when I told you I'd pay you to wash windows???

We'll see how it goes this afternoon. I suspect that all those chores will be completed and completed well because that girl does love her TV. But, she could decide to push it. After all, Aunt Flo is in da' house this week and that means there's no predicting what she'll do. Sheesh, I never new Aunt Flo caused such turmoil on her monthly visits.

Okay, so if I had pictures, what would they be of?

Well, there would be the Afghan I finished for Linus.

And, since I finished one crochet project, I decided to crochet a rug. Probably not my best idea, but it's really cute and I always wanted to make a rug. So, now I'm doing it. My original thought was to make a braided rug. Then I read all I'd have to do for that and am thinking that it might be a better idea to sew my tiny strings together and crochet them into a rug, maybe. Maybe. One day.

I transferred all the marking from Sydney's muslin to my paper pattern. That's exciting. Next I can cut her shirt out and maybe she'll have one more by vacation.

And, I started the muslin for a pair of shorts for me. I feel like I'm conquering this whole clothes making thing. I'm putting the waistband in now, so don't know if they fit as well as they look like they do. I did get the zipper in. It's only my second zipper and certainly went better than the first one. But, because it's a muslin, it's just a zipper I ripped out of a pair of shorts I cut down for my denim quilt. I tore the zipper tape, so it will never work right, but hey, it's in!

Other than that, all my focus is on vacation. What will I take, what do I want to take, can I leave the kid at home? Okay, not really that last one. But, I do hope to get a bit of sewing done and have two quilt tops kitted up. One of them, I'm taking the batt and the back, just in case I run out of stuff to do and end up with time to start quilting one.

And, finger work for the car...a new pair of socks to knit and an attempt at filet crochet and the perpetual hexagon quilt project.

Still working in the yard. I'm surprised at how much work it is to get the beds ready to be left alone for a week without losing everything. But, what I do that's good for that is also good for water conservation, so it's all good. Just lots of work and time. And heat! Sheesh, it's hot around her. We go from the house to the car to the office and don't stay outside long enough to break a sweat during the week.

This weekend is my drop-off to Linus. I opened the newsletter this morning to find out where the drop is for this month and saw that the south Austin group is still remaking donations from school and scout groups. That's why I stopped going to the monthly meetings. I object to redoing other people's stuff...it's enough to redo my own. And, the only reason they need to redo it is because they won't give clear instructions to the donators. For example, they let Sydney's school donate blankets made from two pieces of fleece, tied together around the edges. Then, they spend a year taking those blankets apart and turning them into two blankets. Why? So that the kids will donate two pieces of fleece and Linus can end up with two blankets. Why? They already had to dump a ton of stuff that people had donated because they lost their donated storage space. And still they spend time remaking donations instead of making new stuff to donate.

You're right. I shouldn't be critical. My solution was to stop going to meetings and spend my weekends working on my own donations. I'm pretty sure everybody's happy with that...except I miss Miss Minnie's chicken salad sandwiches that she brought to every meeting.

Okay, that's enough of both this and that and even a bit of the other.

Take care and have a great thursday. Maybe tomorrow, instead of words, I'll just post pics of the stuff I just described.



Because you don't work as hard as I do...

Every day, I leave Sydney a chore list that she has to complete before I get home. Nothing real complex. Sweep and mop the kitchen once a week, vacuum twice, some watering, an occasional bigger project like wiping down all the cabinet doors. This week, she could wash the windows to make some pocket money.

But, last night, we were all frustrated. Okay, so mostly I was frustrated. Dirty dishes in the cabinet, egg stuck to the stove, dead plants. I did my best not to shout, but there was some shouting. Mostly because this has been escalating for several days.

We have a way we handle things. Might not be the right way, but it's my way. I let a couple things slide. Then, I point out that things are sliding and it's time to step it up. Then, I get even. Usually by having her redo chores. But, sometimes I get upset.

Last night, I got upset.

But, we got through the evening. At bedtime, I went to hug her goodnight and she told me that her chore lists mean she's working harder than I am at my job.

I just laughed. All my frustration had passed by that time. But, I kept thinking about it. When I woke up this morning, I knew what to do.

I stayed home and she spent the morning sitting next to me, and we did my job.

And, the best part? She got to see how detail oriented my job is and I hope it gave her some insight into why we expect her to be detailed. Especially when it comes to leaving egg on the stove and putting dirty dishes in the cabinets.

She's off in her room now. Enjoying the rest of her day.

And, only time will tell if she remembers that what I do is harder than doing dishes.

Take care and have a great Wednesday. Lane


All that a muslin should be

So, still sewing clothes. And, no this isn't for any of us to wear. It's my first muslin from one of the goodwill sheets from a couple weeks ago. But, I did use this big printed sheet to show Sydney what was going to happen if we made this shirt with the big print she had picked out for it. The lines go everywhichaway and soon as she saw that, she picked a solid for this nice, dressy looking shirt. This post is heavy on the garment making, so if you're not interested in that...well, today may not be our day to share a post.

Okay, so Sydney doesn't fit the printed patterns. From what I've read, few people do. While a medium men's handmade shirt fits me to a T, a medium store bought shirt is confining on me. That same medium men's shirt pattern is slightly snug in the shoulders for Rob, but a medium men's storebought shirt is comfortable for him. Who can figure?

But, when sewing for Sydney, she differs from the pattern sizes a LOT. If I make a garment that fits in one dimension, it doesn't fit in the others. Sydney has broad, round shoulders that slope down and a big rib cage that tapers to a relatively narrow waist and a large diameter neck. I've given up on trying to pick a size that "averages" all her meaurements together because I don't have any knowledge of the bust in women's clothes (stop snickering), so, I've decided to pick a pattern size for her based on the bust measurement. In the sewing books I've read, much is made about making women's garments fit in the bust. There are also extra instructions for making shirts fit in the bust in patterns. So I've decided to make that the most important measurement. As you'll see from this muslin, that means adding to everything else. But, if I go to a larger size, the bust on her is too big, so it's a trade off.

First thing I did was put the base of the shirt together. The front and the back have princess seams (thank you anonymous!) Each side of the shirt front is made of two pieces. There's a piece that runs from the shoulder, around the arm and then curves in and down to the hem and a piece that sets into that to form the bust dart and the side seam, from underarm to hem. In the back, just under the arm, the back tapers and "matching" curved pieces are set into the back to form the back dart and the side seam from underarm to hem.

I did all that and then attached the front to the back and had Sydney try it on. The bust fit great. By bust, I'm referring to the shape of the garment, horizontally, from one arm hole to the other. But, the waist was so tight she couldn't breathe and the bust line was about 3/4" too high.

So, I added an inch and a half to each side seam, which gave her room to breathe.

And an inch and a half to each shoulder, which brought the bust and back darts down to put the shirt's waistline in the right place.

I tried explaining how to slash and add pieces to the muslin and it's way too wordy and still unclear, so if you want to read about that part, I'd refer you to find a good sewing book. Mine is a 60's edition of a book published by Better Homes and Gardens. It is very complete with great pictures. The final result of all this is that I will add 3/4 inch to the edge of each pattern piece at the shoulder and side.

Adding all that size meant that the sleeve had to be altered, so I added a strip to the center of each sleeve by slashing them in half and sewing a strip into the center. I also added 3/4 inch to the underarm of each side of the sleeve. I didn't want to add three inches to the sleeve all in one place and dividing it like this, so it imitates where fabric is added to the shirt base, makes it all fit together well.

If you aren't adding strips to a muslin, don't worry about the math. But, here's my explanation. You have to add the amount you want to add, plus you have to cut the strip to allow two new seam allowances that won't exist in the finished garment. Let's say I added 1 1/2" strip down the center back. I'd have two seam allowances, one on each side of the new strip. Each seam allowance would be one quarter inch. Because there are two pieces of fabric in each seam allowance, each seam allowance will eat up a half inch of fabric. That is one inch eaten up by seam allowance and I have to add that to the original 1 1/2" I wanted to add. So, my strip is going to be 2 1/2" wide.

Now, when I added three inches to the sleeve diameter, that meant I had to add 3 inches to the cuff.

And, because I added 1 1/2" to each shoulder, I have to add 3 inches to the collar.

And, after calculating all that, I set in one of the sleeves. Looks good while the arms are down.

But, there's some pulling when she crosses her arms. Doesn't look so bad here, but if you could see the other arm hole, you'd see that there is some pull from all the way across the back, indicating the shoulders are too narrow. So, when I add size to the shoulder and side, I'll also add a bit to the armhole so that the upper back won't be quite so snug.

It's also the perfect length, but it isn't hemmed yet, so I'll be adding 3/4" to the length of the pattern as well.

And, the last thing that I use the muslin for is to help me figure out how I want to finish the actual garment. I serge all raw seams unless I'm going to turn them under for a flat fell. But, so far, I only flat fell on men's dress shirts. Camp shirts and all Sydney's clothes do better with a finished seam edge that gets left exposed. If I didn't have a serger, I'd zig-zag that edge or use the overlock stitch on one of my other machines to keep it from raveling.

Sometimes, I want to finish both those edges together after the seam is sewn and fold them to one side and top stitch them down. That's what I plan to do in those curved pieces in the front and back. Sometimes I want to finish the edges separately and press the seam open, as in the shoulder and side seams. I make those notes in my pattern as I'm going through the muslin so I won't have to think about it again when I'm making the real garment. But, I don't go to the trouble of finishing the seams in the muslin garment. I used to finish seams when I needed to practice that, but that part I've gotten down.

So, why a muslin? It's easier to slash and add strips to a muslin that I don't care about than a final garment that I do care about. Sydney has shirts where I have artfully added these same dimensions in ways you can't see. But, why not add them to the pattern, before I sew it together. Second good thing is that I only have to make one muslin, but I can make the resulting pattern over and over again. As she outgrows it, I can slash the muslin and add to it to keep it fitting.

Next step is to add all these measurements to the paper pattern. I'll show that later this week, I hope. I'll need to draw some pattern pieces anew, but others, i can just add to with tape and more tissue.

Okay, so that's Monday. I realized I'm getting old when I worked in the yard yesterday morning and couldn't move yesterday afternoon. But, it was a balance. Work hard in the morning. Sit and sew in the afternoon.

Take care and have a great one. Lane


In the garden

We haven't been out in the garden in a while. I kind of stopped showing pictures because the show got so sparse. But, I went out to water this morning and was able to find some true beauty to share.

This is my Ixora. This picture looks off color. The yellow bloom is really a deep gold and the pink bloom is really a deep orange. But, you get the picture. Beautiful flowers in any color. All the blooms have been gold except that one that came out an odd color. Not sure what's up with that. But, it is really cool looking.

More pictures of the phlox. A gardening friend of my Mom's shared these phlox with me about 18 years ago when I bought my first house. I've kept some since then and if you look close, you'll see phlox heads poking up in other pictures where I've successfully moved them around to new places. They're drought tolerant and bloom beautiful lavendar this time of year.

This is the plumbago. Only drawback to the plumbago is that it is trying to take over the back yard, so I've started digging clumps and sharing them. It grows up through this rotting rocker in the flowerbed and really puts on a great show in an otherwise very hot spot.

Coleus and Caladiums. I grow these in pots. They aren't as drought tolerant and it's much cheaper to just grow them in pots and water a few pots than to try to keep all the flowerbeds wet enough to grow everything in the ground. The other benefit to growing things like this in pots is that I can move them anywhere I need a flash of color.

This is the cool bed. Just looking at all this green makes me feel cooler when I'm out working. Sydney's feedback "It's just green." But, no it's not. It's many, many different shades and textures of green. (and there's one of those clumps of phlox right in the middle.) Anyway, I enjoy it enough for the both of us, so don't listen to her feedback.

I really need to spend some time out here. This time of year, all I can do is mulch, water, and weed, but that's enough to keep in all looking great. Last night, I was cooking on the grill and I came out to check the food and just sat in the swing and looked at the flowerbeds and enjoyed the breeze. Everywhere else, the temp at 5:30 was 102*, but my thermometer said it was only 90* in the back yard. Felt soooo nice.

Then the mosquitoes found me and I had to go back inside.

I stopped at an estate sale this morning. Estate sales are so sad. But, I picked up three sheets for about the price I paid for one at the goodwill outlet and I bought a book on Central Texas Gardening and Bridge for Dummies. I've always been interested in learning to play and the book was only a buck. Even if I only read the first 5 pages, it was worth a buck.

Everyone have a great Friday. I'm going to submerge myself in work so the day will pass fast and them I'm going home to enjoy some rest and relaxation. Four day weeks are always so busy.



A bit of the old handquilting

Anybody remember this? This is a little project I started....oh, last year, maybe? And, I'm crediting Glenn for it resurfacing.

I picked up the set of nickel squares at a quilt show. They're from the Lakeside Resort collection and were perfect for a drunkard's path. A great combination of lights and darks. The blue border was the perfect shade and came from stash...a definite plus to a good stash.

I quilted all the convex curves and I quilted all the concave curves and I quilted baptist fans in the border...but I didn't quilt the corners. That's all that was left. And, I sat it down.

This little quilt was pieced and quilted by hand and I think at that point, I just lost interest. And, Sydney's dog was eating the wool batting every time I'd set it down. I finally had to fold the back over to cover the batt so she couldn't get to it. The unusual thing about this quilt is the batting. It's 1/4" wool batting and I separated it into two layers that are 1/8". My mentor told me she'd done that on her hand quilted Carolina Lily that ribboned in Paducah. It gives a very thin batt that is letting me get 10-12 stitches to the inch, maybe more. The more I stitch, the tinier the stitches get.

My muscles remembered how to hand quilt, even though it's been a really long time since I did it. My callous is gone, but it's not taking long to harden again. When I started this, I had a really cute little quilt I was quilting...black thread on a black background and because I couldn't see the stitches, I wasn't enjoying it. And, I'd used a quarter inch cotton batt and it's near impossible to get a short stitch in. I will likely take it apart and do it again. The top is too pretty not to enjoy.

I wonder what all I could create if I could stop taking things apart and just move on????

Everyone take care. It's Thursday and we're nearly to the weekend. Oh, and please turn on your fans and point them south so we can get some cool air. If you all put a kettle of boiling water in front of them, maybe we'll get rain.

Hey, we've tried everything else to get some relief. 22 days at or above a hundred degrees. I shudder to think of the electric bill.



Old friends, new friends

When I was younger, I had lots of friends. We did things, went places, often worked together, spent time together and got to know one another.

In a movie one time, a character described friends as just a person you know that's eventually going to ask for a 5am ride to the airport. That character didn't have any friends.

But, I had lots of friends. And, eventually, they all asked for the equivalent of a 5am ride to the airport. And, the drawback to rising early and giving that dreaded ride to the airport is that it frees people up to ask for more rides.

Now, theoretically, all should balance out because eventually I'm going to need several 5am rides to the airport, right? Except that gradually, over a period of about 3 years, fewer and fewer of the people I'd gotten up early for were willing to get up early for me.

So, you get that I'm not literally talking about rides to the airport, right? Sometimes it was "can you watch my dog". Sometimes, it was "can you bake me a cake for a party that I didn't invite you to". Sometimes, it was "can I stay at your house"...and then they didn't leave...for weeks! Once I even had to pay to get a friend's brakes repaired before he could drive himself home AND GET OUT OF MY HOUSE.

And, forget about having a real relationship. My "friends" were great at only introducing me to people that would never last. And, anybody that I met that I might make a lasting relationship with were picked apart until nobody would want them.

In the late 90's, too many of my friends decided to "party like it was 1999" and turned to drugs and alcohol. And, when I couldn't help them or protect myself from them anymore, I had to let them go.

Letting people go was the most empowering feeling in the world. No longer being responsible for them. No longer taking care of them. No longer lending money. No longer being available for a 5am ride to the airport that would never be returned. Those things gave me power over my life. And, it freed up so much time that I was able to take up knitting and gardening and crochet and quilting. I had time to find a good relationship, with a good man, and nobody was trying to sabotage it. And, it eventually freed up enough of my time that whatever higher power is in charge of the universe sent us a child to raise.

So, that's old friends. What about new friends?

First, I've learned to be very selective about friends. And, I don't have many. Rob is my best friend and we share and laugh. And, I'm glad to offer a ride to the airport because I know that when I need one, I can get a ride to the airport. Even at 5am. Everyone should be in a relationship with their best friend. It makes so many of the little things about being that closely involved so much easier when you're with someone you can talk honestly to.

I have other friends. I have friends at the quilt store that are close enough to always be interested in what I'm working on, but distant enough that they'll never ask for money. I have friends at work who know me well enough to know what I like to eat, but distant enough that I never have to cook for them. I have friends that are neighbors and we are friendly enough to share plants and discuss pruning trees that cross the property line, but distant enough that we don't party together.

Someone once said that good fences make good neighbors. I think that good distance makes good friends. But, I also know that I'm missing out on some comeraderie. I read a couple of posts yesterday about a quilter that got together with two friends and sewed all day, laughing and sharing. They had so much fun that they got together the next day for more laughing and sewing. No demands, no expectations. Just people that enjoy one another's company.

I want friends like that. One day, I hope I will have them. But, I also know that the distance I put between myself and others served a purpose. It is a protection. But, I also keep myself open to running into that perfect person and forming a lasting bond over shared interests and mutual independence. I've had a couple of tries, but so far, nothing that has lasted the test of extended time.

And, I also have my blog friends. Friends I haven't met face to face yet, but that I bond with over mutual interests of hobby and family. Those are safe friendships. Friends who like me because of who I am, not what I can give them. Friends who are willing to share with me and friends I am willing to share with in a balanced way. Friends I can be honest with.

It's important to know myself. To know my limitations and my vulnerabilities. And, then it's important to create a way of life that accommodates those limitations and vulnerabilities and also takes advantage of my strong points. A limitation I found was that I let friends take advantage. So, I got new friends. Easy solution. But, it took years of learning to value myself to get there.

If you have trouble finding balanced friendships, don't give up. But you don't have to keep putting out, either. Give somebody else a try. You might find just what you're looking for. And, if you need some time between old friends and new friends, take that time. It's not as bad as it sounds to be friendless while you take some time to make you better.

If you have a thousand friends, stop bogarting the good people. Introduce some of them to me!

And, that's what I'm thinking about on this Way Back Wednesday. Have a great day, friends.



No, Calvin. This is different.

In the movie Blast from the Past, a family takes shelter in their very homey bomb shelter during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Thirty years later, they send their son out to look for supplies and he builds them a house on the surface that is just like the bomb shelter. The Father says that it's no different than being in the shelter and the Mother points to the view of woods and trees and exclaims "No Calvin, this is different." We use that expression in our house a lot. When someone says we're "discussing" the same thing we "discussed" yesterday, the other will exclaim "No Calvin, this is different".

We had a good weekend and today, the girl is in summer camp; hiking, map reading, swimming, adventure camp. I wonder if she knows how jealous I am or if she just feels entitled?

On Saturday, Rob heard the call of an antiquing jaunt. I packed up my activity bag and off we went. This is Rob's favorite store on this particular route and you can see him marching up to it with purpose. It's an old theater and they have pictures inside of the renovation. The screen and drapes are still there and two rows of seats, but everything else is converted to a huge antique store. We picked up a few things while we were out that day and I'll show them later. We ended the day at our local goodwill where I realized it wasn't much cleaner than the outlet store was on Friday and I go in the local store all the time.

Sunday was errands and by the time we got home, it was already too hot to do much in the yard. That left sewing. And, sew I did.

Monday, it was just too dang hot to do anything. Rob and I worked in the yard from 7 to half past 10 and came in a sweaty mess, ready for showers. Sydney baked brownies and cookies and did dishes. After some cooling down, we grilled steaks and baked potatoes and made big salads and for dessert, cold slices of watermelon.

But, it was too hot for anything much outside. We're in such a state of drought that most of the fireworks around here were cancelled. So, we stayed in and watched Independence Day and The Patriot and a bunch of other independence day TV. And, I sewed.

And, I sewed.

We went into the weekend with three bad shirts. We ended the weekend with no bad shirts. Calvin, this is different.

Sydney had a shirt where the waistline ran across the bust. I took the whole thing apart and cut a new piece one and now, she has this cute little top. (wonder if I should have told her I was going to blog a picture of her with that big clump of hair sticking out? Nah)

Rob had a shirt that was so tight, he could barely breathe. Fortunately, I had over 2 yards of this very nice shirt fabric left. I got a really good ebay bargain on this fabric and had hoped to make two shirts. Well, I did make two shirts, but they were both for Rob and they only need one coathanger. The only things in this shirt that were in the original are the collar and the buttons. Everything else was recut. The new pocket came out of the old shirt front and the new sleeves, out of the old shirt back. And, everything that was left over got cut up for quilt scraps.

I had a shirt that was way too big. It just swam on me. So, I took it apart, cut it with a smaller pattern and now I have a shirt that fits, too. Mine was easiest as I didn't take any of the front apart. All that finishing work takes a lot of time, so it was just disassemble, re-cut, reassemble.

I also cut and kitted up this little quilt. These fabrics are soooo not me. I bought them discounted at a quilt show and have had them on my mind since, trying to figure out what I could do with them. So, I sat down with my book 101 Rotary Cut Quilts and just looked for a pattern that took about 5 pieces of fabric. I have decided to try a green in place of the yellow. Doesn't sound very nice, but there's a cheerful green in one of the blocks that would be better here than the yellow. This one is all ready for the day when I have time to piece it. And, no more stepping over that little bag of fabric in the floor. Now it's a larger bag with a pattern book and all the leftover scraps and the quilt pieces. But, a bigger bag is easier to see than a little bag.

This morning, I pulled out a bit of handquilting to work on. I have a quilt that is 95% finished and then I just put it down. Got bored. I was putting things away this weekend and came across the thread and decided to pull it back out. More on that one later.

Everybody have a great day. I'll be catching up on blogs over the next couple days. I've let myself get behind. Again. But, I sewed.



The Goodwill outlet experience

Hmmm. The Goodwill outlet experience. Let's say that I will likely go back when I am prepared.

I read about the experience online and will let you do your own research. But, I'll also share my experience. I was not comfortable and if asked last night, would have likely responded that I wouldn't go back. This morning, I realize that even though I'd read about it, I wasn't ready. First, I was dressed for work. Do not go to the goodwill outlet in nice clothes. Second, I did not have gloves. I saw two people get cut in the bins on broken stuff. My research said I should do both of these, but I went straight from the office without the necessary trip home.

It's just open bins of crap. And, my overwhelming thought as I wandered the aisles was bugs...fleas...lice...bedbugs. And, dirt. Remember, this is the stuff that didn't sell at Goodwill. For most of it, there's a reason. But, there are real bargains sitting there waiting to be discovered by someone that knows what they're looking at.

Everything at this outlet is sold by the pound. There's little to no furniture, but mostly clothes, linens and housewares. I got 3 twin size sheets and three full size sheets, a "milkhouse" electric heater, and a table top ironing board. The weight was 13 pounds and it cost me $18. Now, one of the articles I read said a lady got 48 pounds of stuff for $25, so my Goodwill might be more expensive than most. In Austin, Goodwill is a way of life and there are a LOT of regular shoppers and we don't get the bargains that so many other bloggers seem to get.

My only valid complaint about the place was electric. I wanted to plug the heater in and see if it came on. But, they don't let you do that at outlet. It's sold asis, no returns, no testing. Didn't care for that.

Anyway, I would likely wear jeans, long sleeves and workboots and leather garden gloves and go back one day to look for shirts. I've never been able to do any of the breaking down shirts because around here, Goodwill store shirts are $5-$6 each. But, I saw things at the outlet that would likely have made great quilt fabric, but I wouldn't dig for it yesterday. Later will be plenty soon enough. When I'm dressed for the digging.

Take care. Sydney's shirt is ready to hem and I took apart my really big shirt and have re-cut it and it's almost back together. I'm going to remake one for Rob and then, maybe I can make new things...and only have to make them once.

Have a great Saturday. Lane


Sew. Rip. Repeat.

If you've followed me for a while, then you know that I am trying to learn to make clothes. At heart, I am still a quilter. There is very little that is more pieceful than sitting at my Bernina, drawing beautiful shapes on fabric with thread. And, I'm a willing piecer because I need something on which to quilt. So, learning to make clothes was just play. Another way to spend time at a sewing machine and end up with something usable.

But, my perfectionist tendencies don't work well with "playing" at making clothes. As my skills developed from making lounging pants and boxer shorts, I slid on into shirts. And, after a few men's shirts, I've started sewing for the girl.

When I made my first men's shirt, I was working in a sew along. I made a muslin that turned out good enough to wear around the house. Then, I made another muslin that was good enough to wear in the yard. And, then I made a shirt that was good enough to wear to the office. I still haven't made the official dress shirt, but that's just because the season changed and I started making summer clothes.

Wearable muslins kind of defeat the point of the muslin in the first place. And, no matter what you make the muslin out of, it costs money. So, I decided that I could get away without making the muslin. BIG MISTAKE.

I made Rob a shirt that was way too small. Then, I made Rob a shirt that was a little bit too small. Then, I made me a shirt that was way too big. Then, I made Sydney a shirt that fit perfect, but was supposed to be really big. Then, I made Sydney a shirt where the waistline was where the bust line should be and was so tight that she had to wriggle into it like a worm.

Now, I may not be the smartest guy in the world, but I'm smart enough to know that if I'm going to keep making clothes, I've got to start making muslins. Disposable muslins. And, I only have to make one per pattern and I can store it in the zip top bag with the original pattern and my tracing. Because all this picking out stitching and picking out serging is taking as much time as making the muslin would in the first place. A muslin doesn't need all the finishing. It doesn't need good stitching...basting is enough. And, it doesn't matter what the fabric is made of. As a quilter, I've avoided polyester like it carried the plague. As a garment sewer? Bring it on; the uglier the better.

That just leaves the hurdle of my aversion to wasting fabric. Solution? Garage sale sheets. I stopped at one sale this morning, but she didn't have any. I'm right around the corner from a Goodwill "outlet" store. Never been to one of those and don't understand how it would work since all the stuff Goodwill sells is donated, but I think I'm going to stop by there this afternoon on the way home and see if I can get some ugly, cheap sheets that I won't mind cutting up and that I can rationalize are getting a new life as a test garment. What better final destination can there be for an ugly and unloved piece of fabric. Now, I just need to find an ugly and unloved piece of fabric. Oh, without finding a fantastic piece of fabric that I just have to have, which is what will happen if I go for muslin in a fabric store.

And Sydney's little blue and brown top? I added two strips down the side seams to give her an extra 4" and I re-cut the upper front, wide enough that it moved the waistline down to her actual waist. But, I would gladly smack the person at Simplicity that produced the pattern envelope. They said a 40" bust would be a girl's size 18, so I made a size 18. But, the finished bust was only 39". Not only did they leave out the wearing ease, but the finished diameter wasn't as big as the printed body measurement.

Hopefully there will be some modeling this weekend as she looks great in it now that adjustments have been made

Take care. Have a great weekend. If you're in the U.S., enjoy the holiday. If you're in Minnesota, stay safe and avoid anarchy as you are currently ungoverned.