2/17/20

After all that

Saturday was my 58th birthday.  We had a good day.  I wish we'd thought to take pictures. 

We got up and I fought with my computer, trying to do some business, then I just reset the whole thing and reinstalled windows and it and went on with the day.  I was sewing away, adding points to border sections when Rob came in and asked if I'd decided not to go antiquing for my day.  I said no, I had not, but it was only about 7am...we had plenty of time...except it was really 9 am.  I had completely lost track.  We hit a couple of antique stores where we didn't buy much, which was good!!!  We don't need much.  Then, we had a fabulous home cooking restaurant lunch (best chicken and dumplings since my Grandmother's) and went to a huge nursery in Seguin, Texas.  But, they didn't have their plants in for this year yet, so all we bought was a beautiful hanging basket of orange pansies that is hanging in the back yard and a bag of nasturtium seeds.  Then we came home and settled in and picked up Syd and we all went for Mexican food and margaritas for dinner.  It was a truly good day. 

On Sunday, I worked in the yard some and did a lot of chores.  Rob asked me to look in the closet where we keep our pants and pointed out that 80% of the rod held my pants and his pants were in the other 20%.  So, yesterday I went through the lot and only kept what will actually fit my older, wider self and am sending my "aspirational" jeans to the goodwill.  Let's face it, I'm never gonna be that size again.  Then, just so I could talk about how exciting my life is, I rearranged my underwear drawer.  But, I also finished the last border section for the new quilt.  Here it is laid out.  I still have to add some small black pieces to the middle of each side of the border to fill in those small arc spaces, but at least the piecing is done. 


I thought I'd share some garden pics since I've been spending so much time out there.  These are the last two camelia blooms.  They were really late, but a welcome point of bright color in the mostly green garden.


This is the woodfern bed.  I've moved a couple around and given a couple away this year.  I found a great spot for them and they thrive with very little care and maintenance.


When we have a warm winter, like we have this year, the forsythia doesn't put out much of a bloom show.  The blooms come with the leaves, so it's not as vibrant as the years it is covered with little yellow flowers.  But, it's still beautiful. 


We had the new air conditioner installed last week.  Their quality control guy came a couple days after the install.  Let's just say that we had a lot of feedback.  They skipped the step where they balance our output so that every room gets the amount of heat or air that its square footage needs to be comfortable.  So, the studio was so hot I could hardly sit there while the kitchen was getting no air.  I think the QC guy thought he could climb in the attic, make some very unscientific adjustments and we'd be fine.  I gave him a different thought to occupy him and they are sending the crew to make the adjustments, and it needs to be soon.  They've gotten on my last gay nerve about all this and I'm sorry I gave them the second check.  I should have held it until I was happy and the work was complete. 

While the crew was here, I had the dogs in the studio with me.  They were very relaxed, considering what was going on around them and in the rest of the house. 


I had a meeting last week with my young manager.  He wanted to talk about how he could help me develop my career.  First off, I'm 58.  I don't have a developing career.  I just want to be able to do my job for a few more years.  That took him aback.  I know he's managed people my age before, but think he was surprised that I didn't pretend that I was aspiring to something better.  When he asked what he could do to help me develop, I said make sure I have time to work on the nationwide projects that I get asked to help with that bring me attention.  I explained that my career had done just fine waiting for people to ask me to do new things, then learning how to do them, then executing them well and basking in the attention that made someone else want to ask me to be part of their project where I got to do that all over again.  It's my willingness to say "yes" when so many others at my job level are too intimidated that's made my career the job I enjoy now.  He asked the question a little differently and my answer was make sure to keep the variety.  Monotony is my enemy and everything suffers when I'm bored. 

P.S. This was my to me/from me gift.  I have a small (very small) collection of Roseville pottery.  It's so expensive I can't afford much of it. 


This is what Syd wrote in her card. 
Do me a favor, will you?  I couldn't think of anything to write, so please act like you're reading something really touching, maybe even wipe a tear or two, and then look at me and say...I don't know...maybe "that was beautiful.  I didn't know you felt those emotions about me".  Then, if anyone asks to see the card (Rob) refuse and tell him it was just too personal.  Thanks, I owe you one!

I was literally laughing so hard that I couldn't breathe.  I did everything she asked, even wiped a tear, but it was from laughing so hard.  Eventually, I did read the card to Rob.

Everybody have a wonderful day!  It looks like it will be a busy one for me...you know, that variety thing and all. 

Lane





2/10/20

Spring turns a young man's thoughts to...

I'm so old I can't even remember.  I'm thinking about air conditioning and cleaning up and yard work and trying to finish a quilt for next fall.  Today, the city comes and inspects our old sieve (house) to make sure we qualify for the rebates that the city gives people that seal their old sieves up and become more energy efficient.  We need it done.  I'm glad to let the city help pay for it.  It will feel a bit like a tax refund.

When I wasn't in the yard, I was sewing points together.  Okay, so getting a little bored with that and normally, I'd set it aside for a while and work on something else until I was ready to tackle this again.  But, I'd rather take a break between piecing and quilting to give me some time to feel refreshed and look at the quilt with new ideas because I haven't come up with anything yet other than quilting all those tiny pointy shapes in the ditch.  And, this is the only thing I have to enter in the quilt show this year.  I haven't finished anything else.  Usually, I'm having to choose between several quilts to decide what to enter.  Talk about putting all my eggs in one basket...

I made an error in redrafting the pattern and messed up the corners, so while I've been piecing the last pair of border lengths, I've also been piecing new corners.  Here are a pair of that I was able to salvage by removing a couple pieces and re-creating the place they join.  If you look real close, you'll see two pieces of orange fabric next to one another.  That's the seam that joins the corner to the border length.  I just replaced one of those with a fabric that matched the other and they went together perfectly.  (why does spell check try to correct all the words I spell correctly but never the ones I misspell?)



Yesterday it rained, and since I couldn't work in the yard, I did inside projects, like clean my leather coat and  work on the antique oak office chair that I sew in.  It had a bad squeak and I was able to oil and tighten and make that go away.  And, I re-covered my small ironing board that I use a lot in paper piecing.  This is what it looked like before.  I had definitely gotten my money's worth out of the last cover. 


And, this is after. 


Much better, right?  And, one day, this cover will look just like the other one.  I use this ironing board a LOT.  It's about 18x14" and is perfect for nearly anything where I don't want to stand at the big ironing board.

And, finally, a quick pic of my leader/ender log cabin blocks, all laid out.  I just needed to see what they were going to look like and they were all sitting next to the machine, so I spread them out and enjoyed them for a couple days. 


Yes, that is a pile of scraps next to them, sorted and ready to become part of a pointy border.  The small scraps are out of control, y'all!  But that's okay.  I'm nearly done with this quilt and then I think I'm going to cut them into squares and bricks and use them in a linus quilt.  They do not need to go back into my scrap bins. 

Everybody have a great Monday and a great week!  Lane



2/3/20

All work and no play...

makes for a dull blog post.  I looked at the pictures in my camera and there are no good ones from this week.  I spent too much time working and too little time photographing the fruits of my labor.

I did get the curtains in the studio finished.  They look exactly like they did before, except I know they're better.  They hang straight, if you close them the plaids line up, the hems don't bunch, and now I know that I need a new curtain rod because the one I'm using isn't quite long enough.  The curtains were so badly made I couldn't tell that the curtain rod sagged in the middle.  Now, I know.


Other than that, we cleaned the attic so they can blow in new insulation when they install the new HVAC unit.  We have our quotes and have made our decision.  Now, it's just getting the house ready.  First we had to move stuff in the attic and what better way than to move it to another building, like Goodwill and the lady that we give stuff to that sells it on ebay.  Rob is taking a truck load to the dumpster this morning.  We found all the bubble wrap that I used to move into this house in 1998.  Because you never know when you're going to need four large bags of bubble wrap, right?  Except it doesn't last forever and like other plastics stored in high heat, it breaks down...to a mess.  We are not hoarders, we're just very forgetful about what we store.  Almost everything I had in that attic is now gone.  There's a section for me and one for Rob and one for things Sydney didn't take when she moved, probably because she forgot it was up there.  Next weekend, we're bringing in dirt to build up the area where the new outside unit will sit on its concrete pad.  I haven't hauled dirt in a LONG time.  It will be interesting to see how long I can hold up to that. 

I took Friday off as a mental health day.  I barked at my boss on Wednesday and realized I needed to spend some time focusing on what is really important...and it's not my job.  I try to always remember that the job pays for my real life, but that it's the real life that's the important thing and I got that mixed up, but now I think it's all straightened out.  Only took 12 hours with a shovel in my hand to work out that stress and get my head back in the game. 

I am digging up and dividing on a large scale.  A friend from the office came on Saturday morning and took a variety of plants, but didn't make a dent in what I had to get rid of, so I started putting it in 20 year old moving boxes and putting it on the street with a sign that said "free" and told what the plants were.  The first three boxes were gone in 20 minutes.  I ended up putting out 8 boxes full, and they all got taken.  The neighbors are back this week and I know they want some, so I've left some in the ground for them to choose from and I let the young couple across the street know in case they want any of it...they're starting from scratch over there.  The friend that took plants on Saturday came back yesterday and shared some of her bounty of St John's Wort and some Poppies and a beautiful head of cabbage.  I could get into this plant swapping thing.  Much easier than buying and I know the plants will thrive in our climate. 

And, finally, Syd came for supper last night.  I don't usually cook on Sunday night.  It's a time for sandwiches or a bowl of cereal, or Rob will go get something quick and bring it back.  But, last night, I made waffles and eggs and hash browns and bacon and we tucked in for a good supper and had a nice visit.  She's so funny now that she doesn't live here anymore and I am enjoying being around her much more.  I'm glad that we ended up with a relationship where we can be friends.  I was not sure she and I would be able to do that after she moved out.  Anyway, I made plenty of waffles to freeze and eat for breakfast this week.  I am truly loving my waffle maker. 


Okay, that's it for me.  Today, my new boss flies in.  He's based out of Ohio and is just joining the team.  He's new to the job, so has lots to learn and I have lots to share.  We had a nice long chat last week about a project I turned in.  I met with him and my other manager to talk about the results of the project and after the call, he and I stayed on the line and did Q/A about what I contribute.  He seems eager and interested and I think we will get along fine.  The team is taking him to dinner Wednesday night so we can spend some time together outside of the office. 

Everybody have a great week!  I hope we all find something interesting to do and conquer a challenge and make a new friend.  And, I hope this guy finds something more interesting to do than harsh on everybody else's fun...this is clearly someone that has no joy if he's prejudiced against this long list of his fellow human beings.  I guess I always thought christians would be too busy worshipping god and doing good deeds to have time to try to make good people feel bad.  Oh, and if you're wondering, I fall into at least four of his groups, probably more.  I got bored before I got to the bottom of the long list.  Prejudice is not christian y'all.  Acceptance is, and clearly this dude didn't read that part of the new testament.  You don't get to shake your bible at me if you're not gonna live by the whole thing. 

 
Lane







1/27/20

Time and weather permitting

I spent a lot of the weekend in the yard, cleaning up and moving things.  I don't think we're going to have much of a winter here this year, and this is my favorite time to do the hard and heavy work...while it's cool and I don't need to be done and back in the house by 10 am.  I got a lot done, just cleaning things out and digging up and potting the volunteers so I can give them away.  There's a lady coming soon to take part of it and there are new neighbors across the street who don't have an established flower bed that I hope to share with.  And, I have so much of some of it that I just put it on the street with a "free" sign and it disappears. 

I did get some quilting in.  I've been working on my borders.  I laid out half the quilt, just to see how it was going to go together.  And, I found a mistake I made when I altered the length of the borders.  None of the corners I've made so far are "right", but now that I know what the problem is, it won't take long to re-make them.  It doesn't really show up in this picture, but when you get really close, you can see that I messed up, but look how it's coming out!!!!  Anytime I lose my excitement, I have to remember to lay it out and look at it.  I'm also going to have to remember to stay stitch both sides of the border because that's ALL bias and it would love to stretch.  Taking a half inch out to correct my pattern error is not a problem.  I'll bind it in black so that whatever it's on, the borders won't wash out like they do against the carpet in this picture. 


We took down the holiday quilts a couple weeks ago and hung work we haven't hung in a while.  I let Rob choose and he chose on workmanship and color. 

Over the sofa, there's the Row Houses quilt.  I love this quilt and made it a long time ago.  To make sure I could make it, I used solids and made a smaller version that came out just as nice. 


Here's a close-up.  It's all log cabin blocks made from half inch strips. 


And, this one.  This is from the first quilting class I took.  I wanted a red and brown quilt.  This didn't quite do it for me and I don't think it's a very pretty quilt, but the quilting in it is very beautiful; baskets and vines of apples and blossoms.  But, you can't see it because I was too timid to do it in a thread that would show.  I was afraid every mistake would show up, so I quilted it in threads that match the fabric I was quilting on.  Lesson learned.


And, in the dining room, there's this sampler.  The pattern was for a queen size quilt and the maker did it as a block of the month.  I didn't need a queen sized quilt, but loved the pattern, so I made it in half size, which comes out a quarter of the size because I was cutting it in half in both directions.  It's so densely quilted, it practically stands up. 


And, finally, the last bloom from the Mr Lincoln rose for the year.  One of the things I did this weekend was cut all the roses back.  I wore leather gloves, but my hands are all torn up anyway. 


Syd came last week for a refrigerator raid.  Everybody talks about their kids coming home to do laundry, but for us, it's food.  She washes and returns her containers so she can leave with them full again.  She left with goulash, a quarter of a roast, some baked apples, half the hamburger I made for dinner that night and our old Keurig.  She made out like a bandit!  And, me too.  I hate to waste food and cooking for two has been hard to adjust to for me. 

So, I'm very excited about my garden and I'm very excited about the arc quilt and I'm so excited that we are getting quotes to replace our HVAC system.  I'm even excited about a couple new projects I got at work.  And, I got another great performance evaluation the other day from my new boss.  There is no time leftover to feel bad about the news.  Too busy out there getting stuff done. 

Everybody have a great week!  I hope there's something in your life to feel excited about, too! 

Lane





1/20/20

Background projects

I keep showing off the projects that I'm most proudly working on, but I'm never working on just one thing.  There are always background projects. 

As I've been working on pointy arcs and borders, I've also been running a leader/ender through.  This was the first one.  The squares were a gift from a  friend who ordered sample squares from two full lines of solid fabrics.  She gave them to me and I used all but 6 of the 1.5" squares.  While I've been working on points, I've made about half the 9-patches and then paired them with the white scrappy squares, then sewed those into quartets and then eights and then rows.  I tried sewing a row as a l/e, but at that point, it's not a leader/ender anymore.  It's something else, so I put it with my other UFOs and moved on to something else. 


I won't run out things to do on my next leader/ender before all the points are made.  Diane Gaudynski made a log cabin quilt with half inch logs out of hand dyes several years ago.  I love it.  But, I'm too cheap to buy that many hand dyed fabrics, so I decided to make mine with what I have; two bins of 1" wide strings that I've been saving for years and years.  I didn't know what I'd use them for, then this idea came to me.  I made a few blocks a couple years ago and they were fine.  But, it wasn't exciting me, so I set it aside and kept collecting.  It's perfect for a leader/ender that I'm working in conjunction with another paper piecing project.  I go back and forth between the two, using all the same tools.


I have enough strings to make a large quilt.  We'll see if I have the stamina.

Replacing my boxers continues.  I've tried to keep quiet because showing my underwear to the world shouldn't be something I want to do, but I do because it's making me happy.  I've been mostly pulling yardage from my stash.  If I think it would be fun to wear, I'm using it.  I think these are one of the most fun pair I've made.  That took some careful cutting. 




I'm also taking the studio drapes apart to remake them.  I'm starting to think I won't need to take them completely apart.  I think the problem all along was the side seams.  There were two rows and they were tiny, tight stitches and I think they drew up the sides of both panels and that's why they would not hang right.  They're on square.  They should be right.  But, the center of the panel hangs longer than the edges.  To be fair, they were made 12 years ago and my skills are improved greatly. 

And, a green thumb update.  I've never been able to get an orchid to re-bloom.  I've tried and tried to start with tiny ones and get them to grow, but they always rot.  I stopped buying them because I couldn't stand to watch them die.  But, last year, I decided to buy myself one for my birthday.  It was in full bloom and the blooms lasted for about three months, then they all fell off in a week.  This time, I read several articles about how to grow orchids and I picked from them what I wanted to try and the plant thrived.  A few weeks ago, we noticed active growth and bloom formation and last week, the first two flowers opened.  There are more than a dozen other tiny blossoms forming. 


Okay, that's it for me today.  I spent a lot of last week looking at my boss like 'one of us is crazy, dude...and I think it's you'.  He is young and is not a good explainer.  I am a very good explainer and can pick the relevant details and tell a succinct story, then expand on that with details.  I shall be trying to pass that skill on to him.  Because when he explains something, he doesn't start with the forest, or the trees.  He tells a story by starting with the leaves on the ground.  And, after explaining each one, then he starts to describe the trees.  I've never been able to stand it long enough to see if he ever gets to the forest.  I've usually dashed out the room, head spinning.

Everybody have a great week!!  Lane

1/13/20

A quieter week

Last week was a much quieter week with no big finishes. 

My sewing time was spent making more pointy border sections.  These take a lot of time, but I think if I really focus, I could have this one finished and the last pair made by first week of February. 

 
I wish I'd broken that yellow up a little bit more, but I keep reminding myself that this quilt is going to be so bright, you aren't going to notice small places like that where a single color is concentrated, so I'm trying not to focus too much on what I wish I'd done differently.. 
 
Most of my week was spent focused on work.  And, food...as in trying to eat less of it.  Finally the tempting sweets that I could not throw away are gone and it's just me and my healthy snacks.  Work was busy, with new projects and updates on old projects and everybody in a great mood.  The manager that is retiring has 11 more days to go and I'm starting to get to know his replacement.  He's new to the company, so there will be lots of opportunity to train him right and also to learn what he brings to the job.  He will be here the first week of February and I will get to meet him face to face.  Looking forward to that. 
 
This Christmas cactus bloomed just a little bit late, but we brought it in so we could enjoy it.  Look at all that sunshine!  We had rain and hail one night, but both days of the weekend were gorgeous.  Unfortunately, the rain meant I couldn't dig in the dirt like I would have liked to.  After the foundation repair, we still need to empty the beds along the back of the house and start over with a new plan that includes new soil and better drainage away from the house.  It's going to be a lot of work, but I'm sure we are up to it. 
 
 
And, finally a dog picture.  She's so cute!  This is Syd's dog that is living with us.  She's gotten used to us and every night, she lays next to my pillows, waiting for me to get in bed, even though she knows that when I get in bed, she'll have to move out of the way.  She watches and waits. 
 
 
Everybody have a great week!  I'm sure mine will be focused on work again.  But, there will be some fun time as well.  There always is, if I can get out of the way and make room for it.  Lane

1/6/20

First finishes of 2020

But, really.  Only one should count because the other one was started in early November.

I finished my jacket on Thursday.  It took a lot of days to make, but only about 20 hours.  I kept having to stop and like, do normal things like eat and chores.  The time was well spent though because I learned more about garment sewing and also got to practice what I've learned about pattern alteration.  I think that was my second or third zipper to ever put in, so when I got to that step, there was a long break while I avoided that.  Then, early one morning, when I was fresh and alert, I just did it.  And, it went in perfect on the first try. 

 

It couldn't have come out a better fit.  And, then, I messed up a buttonhole on one of the cuffs, so eventually, I'll want to take that cuff off and replace it...easy enough.  Just not right now.  You can't see it and nobody will know.  Would I make it again?  Yes, I just might.  I love this style of jacket.  Casual enough for the grocery and nice enough for the office.  But next time, something more exciting than brown...

I also finished this afghan for Project Linus.  I had a baggie full of grey yarn and was going to make a solid grey afghan, but half of it was a different weight, so I combined the worsted with a bag of blue and white yarn and this is what came out of it.  Lesson learned...don't underestimate the amount of yarn it takes to make an afghan.  My yarn is mostly "inherited" so it's balled and it's hard to tell just how much yarn is in a ball that someone else made.  Rob says this afghan should go to a Dallas Cowboys fan.  Last night, I started a pair of socks for my TV project. 


And, finally, some outside pics.  It was a beautiful weekend here, so I took the opportunity to work in the yard.  I was cutting back winter dead growth and started my annual dig and divide.  I ended up with about 6 pots of things I dug up that are being moved to other places or given away.  But, the yard is already looking good.  Maybe too good.  It is January, you know. 



The camelia hit its peak.

And, there was a lot of shrimp plant still in bloom.  I made the mistake of planting this too near a plumbago and that became a tangle, so I've dug up the shrimp and will move it to another sunny spot where it will do well and the plumbago won't have to compete and maybe it will bloom next year. 

Technically, this was in the green house.  But, it's still a January bloom.  This is a Chinese Lantern or Parlor Maple.  I've finally learned to propagate it from a cutting and have my first small plant.  I plan to do more of that in the near future. 


Okay, that's it for me.  First day back at the office in two weeks (I did work from home some days, tho so I'm not behind).  Not looking forward to that.  But, it'll be fine and everybody will be wearing their new clothes and will be happy and feeling good.  So, here's to the fewest possible number of end of year crises that need to be resolved by 10 am.  Because I am not in that mood.  I got a bell for Christmas...the ones like hotels have on their desks.  It says "Nope, not today" on the outside.  Don't make me ring my bell.

Lane