The longest vacation...

Lately, I've been relecting on the joys of being unemployed. No, I do not mean the practical "we can't eat and we're living in a car" kind of joys. I mean the layabout, read a book, do what I want, don't have to worry about what crazy person is doing what crazy thing kind of joys. I was lucky enough to enjoy that once in my life, a long time ago, and that must make this Way Back Wednesday.

Picture this, Sicily, 1938...stop! No, not Sophia's memory. I am not Golden nor am I a Girl.

Picture this, Austin, Summer, 2001. The month is July, that wonderful month just before it gets hot enough around here to fry an egg on the sidewalk. I'm being laid off because my job is moving to the home office, in a city I wouldn't live in for love, cash, or new luggage because of the weather. So, I opted to be severed and received a terrific severence package. I had benefits for 6 months, I had salary for 6 months. I could draw unemployment. And, the job market was hopping with openings everywhere. So, I chose to take a month off. I didn't look for a job. I didn't submit a resume. I didn't contact the state for unemployment. I did read a book a day. I was in my Martha Stewart phase, so I knitted a lot and I cooked a lot and did some yard work.

It was heaven. No deadlines, noone to answer to except Rob. A busy day was one when I chose to drive out into the hill country to antique shop. Too bad I wasn't quilting much then. Who knows what I would have made. I drank gallons of sweet tea and lemonade. And, I spent considerable time making a dent in a chaise lounge out on the patio. Sometimes sleeping.

Oh, how nice it would have been if that could go on forever. But, I knew that eventually, I was going to have to go back to work, so around the end of August, I started sending out feelers and checking the job websites and setting up a few interviews. I applied for unemployment benefits. The state considered me a difficult placement, which I didn't understand. I'm versatile as a gymnast in my skills. But, they called in everyone that they considered to be difficult to place for training sessions on how to get a job. I had to go in order to continue to receive the unemployment benefits. It was cool. I had interviews scheduled over the next two weeks so I wasn't worried. I decided to attend the training on the morning of 09/11/01.

They cancelled the class half way through and sent us home. By the time I got home, both towers were down. I remember calling my Mom and saying, I don't know what's happening, but just in case the phone lines get tied up and I can't get through, I wanted to call.

By 09/13/01, all my interviews were cancelled. Most of them had been in the travel industry and that industry tanked fast. It took weeks to get another interview scheduled. I got turned down over and over. Two weeks before my health benefits ended, my prior employer called me back for an interview doing the exact same thing I'd been doing, but for a different group, still located in Austin. I started that job 2 days before my health benefits ended and 2 days before I would have lost all my previous tenure with the company. So, I came back at a good salary, full benefits, and 2 weeks vacation a year.

I don't want to come across as someone with a "9/11 story" because those stories are about the heroes and the victims of that day and the months that followed. But, I was living then and stuff was happening to me, too and I wanted to share what was going on.


I've been asked if Way Back Wednesday is sponsored by anyone. No, it's just my own thing I made up to give me something to write about. Sometimes it can be so hard to think of something off the cuff to blog about and having a couple of days designated to themes is helpful for me. I hope I don't get in trouble for using the phrase. Someone probably has it copyrighted somewhere so let's keep it our little secret. But, if you have an old tale to tell, feel free to use Wednesdays (or any other days) to share.



Not feeling very inspired right now...

Maybe it's the hectic pace I've been living at for the last few weeks. Or, maybe it's all the clean in the sewing room (do I need chaos to feel creative???). Or, perhaps it's the beautiful cool, clear weather that's making me want to be outside.

Either way, I am not feeling very "quilt-y" lately. As I was stitching the binding down on the baby quilt I found a couple of broken quilting threads. Took me two days to getting around to hunting them down again to correct them. And, I'm slowly picking at the pile of stuff that didn't have a home that's left from the recent cleaning. Very slow. Like finding a place for a couple of things a day kind of slow. Unfortunately, that homeless pile is on the extension arm of the quilting machine table, so I can't repair the baby quilt until I at least move the stuff. At this pace, that baby may be born and in 1st grade by the time I get those stitches repaired.

Other than that? It's just a really blah day. I think that part's directly related to the hectic pace. I just need some space to slow down in and get readjusted. So, I'm going to do some really boring work with my headphones turned up really loud and see how the day progresses. Who knows. A little rest may be just the inspiration I need.

Take care and have a great Tuesday. Lane


It's alive...

and it's growing. It's starting to ooze out of the closet like The Blob. It's...

The Stash!

There's stash stacked in front of stash and behind stash and above stash and there are two huge boxes of it in the garage. Now, to my credit, this is not all my shopping. I made the mistake of telling people I was going to make quilts for Project Linus and suddenly, I became the beneficiary of their stash leftovers. And, I mentioned to my mentor that I might like to make some heavy picnic quilts to sell and she sent tubs of denim and upholstery fabric. So, now I only talk about quilting to people who can't say: "I have some (insert fabric type here) and would love to share it. Would you like a little?" because everyone's definition of a little is different.
Okay, well, it's back at work for me. And, back at homework for us all tonight. Sydney had a little grade stumble last week, so we're back to reading and summarizing tonight. Joy of joys! How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, practice, practice. And, that's how you learn to read and summarize, too.
Take care and have a great Monday. Lane


Another finish

And, this one is a baby quilt. And, none too early. He's due on 04/15, a tax day baby. But, his Mama says he's gonna be two days late.
I like to make a pinwheel quilt for a baby boy. Just seems very appropriate and not overly frilly. And, this one was a lot of fun. There's an overall pattern that looks like wind to me that goes all over the pinwheels and then a swirl in the inner white border and then a rope in the blue outer border. After it was washed and everything shrank, it looks like a really old lumpy and wrinkly quilt. Looks soft and snuggly.
I've been watching The Blind Side, if you can call it watching. I've cried through the whole thing. A very good movie. And, a great story that's close to my heart. I cry because I see someone who was inspired to say yes before she asked why. That's exactly how we got Sydney. We said yes before we asked why. Some days that's a happy yes and I bless that day. Some days, I wish I'd taken a little more time to think. But, more importantly, for some reason, the universe gave us an opportunity to say yes without thinking about it. I don't want to make all my decisions that way. But, I'm glad we made that one the way we did.
And, while I cried, I dripped tears on all the new fabrics I bought in Minneapolis. I got it all serged and ready to wash and fell in love with it all over again. I'm not sure I can take that and cut it into inch and a half strips. The prints are just too pretty and I think they'd be lost cut up that small. So, maybe, instead, I'll find some older pattern that uses larger pieces and use those fabrics for it. A tone on tone will be best for the pattern I originally bought. Maybe a Batik.
And, we worked in the yard half the day. I was able to split a couple of things and spread them all around the yard and put some solid green background all around so maybe it won't look so bleak next winter.
Everything is back in it's place in the sewing room. Finally. I'm able to start a new week with everything cleaned up and a great sense of accomplishment. All ship shape and Bristol fashion.
Take care and have a great Sunday. I'll see you in blogland next week. Lane


An old girl freshened up and a cautionary tale

Okay, let's start with the cautionary tale. I've started using ceramic lead to mark quilts. I've never had one bit of trouble with the white ones, but I used a green to mark this white fabric and it leaft a line. See it in the middle of all those curves? Thankfully, Rob checked it before he threw it in the dryer and brought it to me. A couple more washes and some scrubbing with a toothbrush and it was all good again, but for a little while? I was very worried.

We had the alarm man in today to resolve a problem with the system, so I had to move things around in the sewing room so he could get to the box in the closet. I had put a shelving unit in front of the main control panel. That was just asking for a problem that would require a service call, huh? Anyway, since most of my stuff had to come out anyway, I just pulled it all and went through it and got it all organized again. I have to do that about every three years. Whoohee, I'm tired of dust and fabric. It looks so neat in there right now. Too bad real life will happen in there and mess it all up again.

While I had this old girl in the middle of the room, I decided to give her a good oiling and see what she'd do. I cleaned and I oiled and I worked and I scrubbed with another toothbrush and got her all cleaned up. She's actually cleaner on the inside than my singer treadle. I've had her for at least 17 years. I can't find any information on her brand name, but lots of companies made rotary sewing machines in the 20's. Her serial number begins with a B, which a couple of manufacturers show to be 20's models. Not sure if she's one. She's in the cutest cabinet with turned legs. She needs a new veneer on the top, but other than that, the cabinet is in great shape. I've been using it to set other machines on top of. I could never figure out how to thread her. Now that I've played with older machines, I decided I'd give her a try and see what happened. Even today, I had to thread her several different ways before I could get her to make a stitch. Still having trouble inserting the needle to the correct height to make a stitch. Just something I haven't figured out yet.

I bought her at the only auction I ever went to. I didn't know a thing about antique sewing machines, and hadn't even looked at her before the auction, but she was going for like $8 when I bid and I ended up with her for about $12.

I have trouble threading her because the tension seems to be on the wrong side so the thread has to cross over itself on the way to the needle. It doesn't touch where it crosses, but I always have trouble making that happen in my head. It doesn't seem right somehow. So, if you know what I might be doing wrong, please let me know. I can post a higher resolution photo if it will help.

Wierdest thing? I bought this set of attachments recently when we were out antiquing and didn't look at them close enough. I thought they'd fit one of my Singer's and of course, they didn't. I was sorry that I'd wasted $15 on them. And, today, I saw that they fit this machine instead. I am much happier now.

And, this little pic was just to test out a new camera I bought today. As you can tell, a very clear picture. Much more so than the camera I was using before. Maybe now I can get better pictures of my quilts.

Okay, that's it for today. I've seriously been working in the sewing room all day. Take care and I'll try to post some pics of the stash tomorrow. I knew I shouldn't have turned out the light in that closet because stash and coathangers reproduce in the dark. And, it's gotten way outta hand. I'm going to need to make some more charity quilts. A lot more charity quilts.



Who am I?

Recently, I've seen a couple of people address this question: Am I showing the real me in my blog? First, Ms P did it here, then a very Sarcastic Quilter did it. And, it's been on my mind since.

My initial thought was No. I don't show the real me in blogland and you're all welcome. But that implies that I'm some kind of a bad person in real life and a good person on the blog. That's not true. I'm a good person on both, I just come across as happier in blogland than I do in real life. I mean, I really want to scrub my bad moods out of my blog. I wouldn't want to be photographed looking bad. And, I don't want to blog looking bad. But, more importantly, as I write something for you all to read, I get over myself and end up in a happier mood. Believe me, any time I spend working on my blog at the office is worth gold to my boss in increased productivity. Because writing about what's going on and getting it to sound positive and getting it in perspective with my whole life and the subsequent mood change that I experience means I can accomplish a lot more in my day than just feeling sorry for myself and/or grumpy all day.

But, that's only half of it. I'm going to use this week in contrast to a very similar week last year to explain what I mean.

I am incredibly shy. I blush, I stammer, I stutter, I say UM (a lot), and I cut myself short. I don't talk to strangers. I constantly worry that I'm going to say the wrong thing, so I say nothing. I don't look strangers in the eye. I don't smile in unfamiliar situations. I know where that came from and had just accepted it as the way I am. So, last year when I went to IN for meetings to introduce our new product, I didn't talk to any of the customers. I didn't man the information booths. I didn't smile at anyone. I crossed my arms and leaned against the wall. Or, I involved myself in daily conference calls to make sure I'd have something else to do and wouldn't have to talk. Out of the way. Silent. I didn't do stuff with the company reps at night; just the obligatory dinner. At dinner, I just sat and smiled and listened. And I'm at least as ashamed of that fear as I would be about anything wrong I might ever have said.

Then, I really got into my blogging. And, I found out two things about myself. Number one, I do have things to say. And, when I speak about things I know about, I come across as an expert. Authoritative. Trustworthy. Friendly. And, number two, people want to read it. Sometimes I don't know why, but you guys keep coming back and you keep having feedback and we keep having discussions and people ask me for suggestions, as if I knew what I was talking about. And, after 11 years of quilting, I guess I at least know what not to do and am glad to share it. And, you're interested in hearing about my experiences in life, other than quilting. Go figure.

So, let's contrast last year and this year's meetings. Same meeting. Different me. This year, I had dinner with the company reps every night. And, I talked at those dinners instead of just sitting silently. I talked about personal stuff as much as I did about work stuff. And, when the lady asked about my wife, I corrected her and said husband and then answered her question. No big deal and I don't even think I embarassed her. I volunteered to work the registration table, which meant smiling and talking to everyone that came up, and I felt comfortable with that because I had something to talk to them about; nametags and beverage stations and raffle tickets. Then, I went into the meetings and when reps asked questions that my boss didn't know, I answered...the second day into a microphone! I don't know that I've ever spoken into a microphone before. And every day, during lunch, I fixed my plate and sat at a table of strangers and talked about the new product, and answered questions, and made polite small talk. Things I could not have done a year ago.

So, every one of you that's ever sent me a word of encouragement or asked me what I think or said that you like what I have to say, you take your right hand and reach over your left shoulder and you pat yourself on the back, because you were a huge part of my current success and the really big and substantial feeling I have in my heart today. (If you didn't actually pat yourself on the back, do it now. You're alone at your computer and nobody can see you. And, if they do, tell them it's because somebody thinks you're special and stick your tongue out at 'em.)

Back to the question of whether I am who I present in blogland? Last week I would have said no. I'm better in blogland; more myself, more who I want to be. But, this week? I'm thinking I might be about the same in both. At least I'm closer. I'm going to need practice. I'm going to have to keep trying. I'm going to have to find opportunities. But today, I'm going to live on the high of being outgoing for the last 3 days. I'm going to keep smiling.

You too?



My age is showing

I am definitely too old to travel with this group. They're all so much younger than me and they can stay up late at night and drink and play and party. I can't. Fortunately, I know that and I don't try. But still I'm exhausted.

Yesterday's presentation went off without a hitch and then the caravan back from Minneapolis to St. Paul. It was a much nicer drive by myself on Tuesday when I wasn't having to try to follow several other cars. And, I was in the rear, so I missed every green light and was flying to catch up for lane changes and exits. Then an hour to relax and we started the whole happy hour and dinner thing again. They left to go watch a basketball game at a club and I came up to the room.

But, for some reason, I cannot get warm. I don't feel bad, but I got a chill sitting in the lounge last night and just haven't gotten warm since. I keep fiddling with the thermostat, but the air out of the unit is tepid at best, so I slept in a polar fleece shirt, under the hotel comforter and blanket. But, tonight, it's back to my own bed and my own personal heating unit that sleeps in it with me.

Funny story. My bag was tight as a tick yesterday with all my stuff and all that fabric. So, last night, I sealed all the fabric in ziploc bags and sat on it to squeeze out the air and sealed it up. It takes much less space now and I feel like I can get that bag in an overhead compartment without delaying boarding too much. Or maybe I'll get lucky again and my boss will be upgraded and I'll get to check it for free.

Okay, off to the showers to prep for another busy day. Gonna pull my smile outta my pocket and show it to all these nice people. Nicey nice thoughts to everyone. Lane


MN quilt shop 2010

It's done. The whirlwind is over and now I'm in my hotel room drinking a cup of coffee and getting ready to have dinner with the gang I'm here to meet. I'm exhausted, of course after my trip. Five shops, five hours, and an unknown number of miles as I zig-zagged my way from Minneapolis to St Cloud.

So, here was the plan. Start at the first shop, where they produce their own patterns. I wanted to get one of their patterns and then get all the fabrics to make it. First mistake: I picked a pattern that took 37 pieces of fabric, 24 dark and 12 neutral and 1 solid that I forgot to buy.

Here's the pattern from Glad Creations and the fabrics I picked up there. Of course, I picked civil war reproductions, which I don't have any of in my stash. I'm enchanted by these fabrics and could not resist. And, Glad Creations had the largest selection I'd ever seen. The ladies in Glad were delightful and made me feel very welcome and pointed me to the half price room upstairs as they were checking me out, so of course, we had to put all that on hold and I had to shop some more.

Then, there was Calla Lily Quilt shop in Blaine, MN. Another delightful lady and I was the only customer in the store, so I got lots of attention. She about talked my ear off, but she was fun and we talked a lot about Glad Creations. She sells their patterns and kits up quilts. She says they're almost all 24 dark 3/8 pieces and 12 light 5/8 pieces. She had some beautiful kits, but all in all, what I bought was cheaper than her kits and none of hers was the reproductions. But, the kits she'd made meant she was just about out of the light background fabrics.

Next was Fat Quarter Quilting in Coon Rapids. Nice shop, but not quite as helpful as I would have expected since I was the only customer in the store and the salesperson wasn't doing anything but standing. But, I found what I needed and then stopped for lunch (yummy sandwich that I ate while I drove).
After that, it was Quilted Treasures of Rogers. Busy store, lots of customers, classes going on, and no one spoke to me until I was ready to have my fabric cut. Not one employee, not one customer. In fact, the other customers seemed to be avoiding me. There was one other man in the shop, but he was definitely holding bolts for a wife that was spending a lot of money.

Last stop was Gruber's. Okay, if you're ever within an hours drive of St Cloud, get yourself into Gruber's. Thousands of bolts of fabric and a very friendly staff. They checked on me often and I wandered, and then, I started over and wandered again, and then I started piling bolts on a cutting table and made another round of the store, then went back a fourth time and picked up a couple of things I'd seen and passed. They had it all, from reproductions to baby, moda, even Gee's Bend fabrics that have to be specially laundered before you can use them. I was bowled over. Oh, and a tiny pair of blunt tip scissors that will be perfect for my sewing kit.
Okay, so here's all my fabric together. And, you can see that I only made one mistake. That gold in the backgrounds. But, I'll figure out a way to make that work out. Even if I have to sneak something in to replace it. Nobody will ever know if it all came from MN or not and I'll still call it my MN quilt shop quilt. Now how am I going to get all this in my luggage. Good thing Rob talked me into the larger bag. But, will it be big enough???
Okay, I know some of you counted them and there aren't 24 darks. But, to get the half price fabrics, I had to buy a yard minimum, so those count twice.
Sounds like a ton of fun, but there is a downside for me to these little shop hops I plan. They're not as fun in reality as I always think they'll be and they're expensive. I've done two for myself and what they end up being is a lot of driving in unfamiliar places while reading maps and trying to put together a quilt on the fly from little swatches I've cut from the corners. And, of course, there's never enough time to really enjoy the shopping experience. I'm always worried about what's coming up at the next stop or what I'll face trying to get there. Top that off with the fact that I should be working the whole time I'm traveling and I get a little anxiety that follows me like a headache. And, this hop started worse than most. Within 5 minutes of leaving the airport, I had managed to get lost, despite my perfect Google maps and directions, and while I was trying to get where I was going, I was pulled over for speeding by the absolute most polite police officer, who only gave me a warning, probably because I looked to stupid to give a ticket to. Boy, wouldn't a speeding ticket have made this shop hop expensive???
I had planned to take pictures all day. You know, long arm shots of me smiling in the airport, or going into a quilt shop, or pics of the shop owners or the ladies cutting my fabric. But, I never remember the camera. This was the first time I even remembered to pack it and I couldn't ever remember to take it out of my luggage until I got to the hotel.
So. what happened to 8 shops? One shop I tried to hit I couldn't find. Two were so out of the way I had to cut them off my list.
Next up, figure out a way to pay off the charge card that was at a zero balance this morning without having to pay any interest. And, hope this coffee will hurry and kick in.
Take care and have a great day. I'm off to dinner with more strangers. I miss you Rob and Sydney. Lane


Another UFO together

I got this little UFO together over the spring break. I also got the machine part of a binding on the blue and white baby quilt and am halfway around with the finger work. There wasn't much time for quilting, tho. We had the carnival on Wednesday and on Thursday, Sydney and I worked in the yard for several hours and we did that again on Friday. When we weren't in the yard, she was alternating between a science project and video games (move your project forward one step and you can play video games for an hour.) It was wonderful. No arguing, just work. And, me making the trees and shrubs for this. Saturday was stormy and cold and I made the cushions I showed yesterday. Sunday you've already heard about and I hardly sat down all day.

I found this pattern last year at Forever Green Quilts and got really excited. But, now that it's done, it's left me feeling a little flat. It lacks the pop that the drawing on the site has. I'm hoping that I can do some things with quilting that will give it a little umph! Otherwise, I'm afraid the blue skies overwhelm the houses. If you get a chance, go look at some of the others that are featured. Many people interpreted the pattern instead of trying to reproduce it and they got that umph I was hoping for.

I printed the last map for my shop hop tomorrow. The driving time is less than half of the time I have, which is good. I'm going to be able to spend 30-45 minutes in each shop. The plan is to try to find a pattern in the first shop, where they produce their own patterns, and in all the other shops, pick up the pieces of fabric to make it. Other than that, I'm only allowed to buy light colored batiks or 30's reproductions. And, that's all! That's it! I don't need any more non-specific stash. I don't. I really don't. And, I have limited luggage space to bring it home. (but I bet I end up with at least one beautiful piece that doesn't have a project yet ;-D. I always do.)

I wish I could take you all with me. Wouldn't we have a fine time racing around the Minneapolis area, buying fabric and frightening shop owners with an unexpected hop. My only worry is whether quilt shops have men's rooms. That could put a kink in my giddy-up.

Take care and have a great Monday. If you're sewing, put in a few stitches for me. Lane

Just another Sunday

1. File taxes.


2. Download music for everyone's mp3 players.


3. Finish the cushions for the chairs out front.


Okay, so they don't look like much now, but just wait until they're sat upon a few times and get a sag in the middle. Then, they'll look awful comfy.

4. Grocery shop and make casseroles for the week so the wee bairns don't starve.

5. Map out my route for my Minneapolis quilt "shop hop tour" on Tuesday.
check, check and double check! 8 stores that take me from the airport to St Cloud. That sounds awful fun. And, I only printed directions from one to the next, so I can't skip or I won't get to the hotel. (mwaahaaahaaaa!)

6. Nap.
check and check!

7. Iron and pack.
Okay, don't really wanna do that. What's next on the list?

7. Add final border to the house quilt BOM I started last year and finished assembling yesterday.
Ahh, now that sounds much more interesting.

7. Change the aquarium water, water all the plants and then iron and pack.
And, we're back to that again, huh?

Have a great rest of your weekend. I'd better get up and pick a number 7. Lane

post script: I picked the last number 7. And, then I added the borders to the quilt. So, you'll have some eye candy tomorrow. Lane


Happy Friday

Well, Spring Break is almost over. Monday and Tuesday, Rob took off and he and Sydney had a fun time. Then, I took off on Wednesday and we wen to the fair at the rodeo grounds where Sydney got this. Don't worry, it's temporary and has to be gone by Monday when she goes back to school, but so far, it shows no signs of fading.
We all had a blast walking through the barns and checking out the animals. Of course, Sydney was baffled about why they'd wash and blow dry a cow. Ahhh, the smell of composted manure brought back old memories for me and Rob, both.
Yesterday, I pulled out a little house quilt I started last year and I worked on that early and late and Sydney and I alternated between working on her science project and working in the yard in the middle. And, I've had to work for work some, but have made sure that didn't interfere with her break.
Now, I'm about to pull out my muddy shoes and get back out there. It's the last day this week we'll be able to. Take care and have a great Friday. Lane

Thank you, Charlie Scott

Charlie nominated me to be part of a month long tribute to male quilters being held at Stitchin' Heaven. Charlie was featured last week in their blog tribute to male quilters (scroll down the link to find it). Check it out!

And, I could be there next week. How exciting!!! And, how intimidating. It took me an extra day to respond because I was so intimidated. But, enough of that. Today, I got my questionnaire filled out. We'll see how it goes.



V intage Thingies Thursday; from me, to me

Welcome to VTT sponsored by my friend Suzanne at Coloradolady. Today, I'm featuring a gift I gave myself.

Just before Cmas, my family and I went to one of our favorite gift shops. We loaded up on gifts for everyone and picked out things for ourselves. One of the things I picked for myself was this Roseville vase. After we all went through together, we split up and shopped for one another (believe me, this is so much easier than trying to guess what a teenage girl or a gay man would like). One of the things I had picked out was this Roseville vase. Neither of my family members gave it a second glance, which almost assured that I'd find it in my stocking (you have to look totally disinterested in the item you're actually going to give to the recipient you're shopping with to keep the mystery). But after I finished my shopping, the vase was still there. I don't remember what the price was, but it was clear the seller didn't know what they had. So, I picked it up and when it was my turn to checkout (you have to check out when none of the recipients is is watching) I paid for it. Then, I wrapped it in my paper (we each select a paper every year and everyone wraps that person's gifts in that paper. previous year's papers are used for other groups. makes the gifts very easy to separate and no nametags) and put it under the tree.

Christmas morning, I unwrapped it and we all admired it and Sydney looked at Rob and Rob looked at Sydney and I looked at them both and asked who it was from?
Welll, uhhhh....I remember seeing it...I know where it came from...I don't remember buying you that...neither do I...
And, then I confessed.
Have a wonderful VTT. Now jump on over to Suzanne's blog and check out all the other vintage stuff folks are posting this week. Lane


Happy St Patrick's day

There was a time when my office was much less rigid about some things and much more rigid about others. For example, men wore ties and slacks with long sleeved button down shirts, and ladies wore dresses. Managers wore suits. And, everybody smoked. This will come as a shock to the young whippersnappers that think shorts and flip-flops are appropriate office attire and wrinkle their noses as they pass the smoking area.

All our work was done on paper. We had access to computer terminals, but they weren't interactive and I shared a monitor with someone else because we didn't look at things on the computer much. We wrote things on paper. A keypunch operator keyed them into the computer and then we got a copy of the output to see if it was right. With all those steps, it often wasn't. How different that was than today when everything is computerized and pencils are old-fashioned.

But, I worked for a pretty relaxed company and every year, on St Patrick's day, they'd bring in a keg of green beer to the breakroom. The office had set hours (remember when customer service was only available during regular business hours?). After hours, we could all go to the breakroom and have a beer or two and visit. Those were the days. 100 people crammed into a space the size of my living room, ties loose and stocking feet. And, laughter all around.

Then, we'd all get in our cars and drive home or to a happy hour at an Irish pub. It was such a different time. The police were much more likely to pull you over and call a cab than to arrest you for DWI. Back then, the company could just let us all go. Now, if they have an event, they only give 2 drink tickets per person and even with that, they have to provide cabs for anyone that overdoes it.

Not gonna say that times were better then. Clothes are certainly more comfortable now. Companies have to consider the good of the employee even when the employee isn't. You can't drink and drive. But, you can wear shorts and flops to the office.

On a regular basis, you're going to hear me reminisce about the old days. But, I hope I don't romanticize them (we're getting enough of that from Glen Beck.) What I want to do is tell what I remember and it wasn't all good or pretty (despite copious amounts of hair gel). I lost a friend after drinking at an office event. People did embarassing things that they hoped no one remembered. It wasn't a golden age. But, it was part of "my time". And, that's what Way Back Wednesday is for. To share the memories of "my time". And, to remember the folks that are part of my history. And, to tell you about how we used to celebrate St Patrick's Day.

Take care, wear green and enjoy the day safely! We're going to the rodeo carnival. All the rides we can ride for $15 and a milking competition at 12:30. Whoopee! Lane


Gotta share a quilt

A blog friend shared a quilt the other day that I just have to show you guys. You're not going to believe it. She took a cross stitch pattern and for every stitch, she created a one inch patch of fabric. Look how beautifully it came out!


Way to go Patricia!



Spring has sprung

And, I have the sore back to prove it. Whoohee. We spent almost all of Saturday in the yard, as did most of the neighbors. You could hear the yardwork going on all around us on this truly beautiful weekend. One of the things I did was take out a really bad walkway we had improvised between the greenhouse and the back of the house. This is the main drainage way for the lot so I have to be careful what I put there. Our neighbor just up the hill built an illegal concrete footing all around her property to divert the drainage and what she's created is a river that flows through our back yard and our next door neighbor's, too. We both have carefully designed floodways to divert the water across our property and into the street. The mulch I've used here will form into a mat that will help prevent the dirt from washing away. And, the brick lining along the narrow flowerbed will keep any rushing water from washing away the soil around our foundation.

I'd love to have her take that footing out, but every so often, our neighbot gets in a nasty mood and comes knocking on the door to tell us about some problem we've created for her and I want to save that footing in case I need it as a get out of jail card later. The construction crew also moved the pin that marks the property line, so the posts that hold the fence are technically on my property...another ace in the hole for later.

I had planned to post pictures of the flowerbeds this morning, but it was very overcast and dark and I couldn't get any pictures, so I took one of this witch hazel in bloom. Can you believe Sydney says there's no color in my beds? Hmmph to her. They're not a profusion of color in any season, but there's some color all the time. And, a good green base to back it all.

Okay, that's it for my gardening pictures. We missed our deadline last Friday as well on that document that needs to go to the state. So, I guess I'd better get busy. Have a great Monday.



Friday thoughts

Oh, please! My first thought is; I'd really rather not think at all today. We've been pushing to get a document to the state since we missed our deadline last Friday. And, again yesterday. For some reason, this one just won't come together for us. But, we'll get there. I'm hoping it can go this evening or tomorrow at the latest. But, in the meantime, we've all been busting it and I can tell we're all tired and ready for it to be over.

It has been a great week for me to reflect on the gift of feedback. Okay, read that as: I was gracious to those that were overly critical and whose attention to detail was making me nuts!!!

It's been a rough week for my poor family, too. I've been very stressed and have had not time for anything. We've had our discussions about what we're planning in the yard this spring. Rob is a planful gardener and I am a haphazard gardener. He thinks the project starts when you begin the plan. I think it starts when the shovel hits the dirt. We're both ready to start a project, but we mean different things when we say that.

Sydney has been having an "I'll show you..." week. She had some bad grades and had to read a passage and summarize it for me as a consequence. In the process, I found out she couldn't read a passage and summarize it. I'm trying to teach her how and she thinks I'm giving her additional consequences even though the grade has come up. So, we've both dug our heels in. I don't feel the need to argue or raise my voice. After a couple of hours of sniffling last night, I just brought a book to the table and started to read. She realized I really wasn't gonna give in and quickly wrote what she needed and now we're getting along famously. This can take all night, or it can take 15 minutes. Her choice.

I lost another pound, although I do not know how. I've been very lax on my exercise and I've been on a digestive cleanse that has me so thoroughly hydrated that I was sure my weight would have increased. I feel like I'm floating on water most of the time.

And, I'm flying through quilting that baby quilt. All the ditchwork is done and the basting. Now I can take out the basting pins and go to town with some free motion quilting.

Take care and have a great friday. That overly critical person is back and I have to go. I'm sure she has some more "valuable" feedback for me.



Vintage Thingies Thursday - Norman Rockwell plates

Good morning and welcome to VTT sponsored by my friend Suzanne at Coloradolady.

This collection is one of Rob's. He's fallen in love with Norman Rockwell plates and has gone a little overboard. Today, I'm going to show about half of what we now have (since Christmas). And, just to complete the story, you have to know that he bought a series of 8 Christmas plates and bought two plate hangers to hold them. That was cute, but when the season was over, we decided not to take the hangers down. I pulled out some old collector plates I had and we really liked the 4 Norman Rockwell's I had. So, he started shopping and for almost nothing, and most of that paid for shipping, he's built us up a collection that can be changed periodically for some variety.

He found that this was a pretty rare plate because it has all three images (mirror, back, and drawn face). Most of the plates only have two of the images.

The next two sets are "four seasons" collections. The first starts with a boy buying a dog and proceeds through their adventures of that year.

The second set features an older man and a boy (and a dog). These are recurring themes in Rockwell's work.

Rockwell's work reminds us of a happy time. We often get lost in those happy memories and forget that times weren't really any easier then, there were just fewer things to worry about and fewer decisions to make. The flip side of that is that there was less variety in life. But people were no different and basically still broke into the categories of those that chose to be happy and those that chose to be unhappy.
Not that much different than today.


In a bit of a funk.

Don't really know what's wrong with me, but I'm feeling in a bit of a funk. Not really in the mood to go too far back this Way Back Wednesday, so I'll just go back to 2006. That was so early in my quilting adventure and I was just on the cusp of really getting it.

This is the quilt I think of as my "spring" quilt. Actually, I think I should make another "spring" quilt because I really don't like this one. It's like green eggs and ham...Do you like my hat? No, I do not like my quilt. But, it's a first in so many ways.

It's the first BOM I ever did. It's the first (and only) quilt I've ever made (or will ever make) where all the pieces are made from the same blender print, just in different colors. It was my first experience being a regular shopper in a specialty quilt store. It was my first truly successful free motion quilting. And, it's where I learned about quilting perseverence...never let a quilt beat you, no matter how ugly you think it is. And, it was the first time my work was displayed in public.

In 2006, I was still having trouble going into fabric stores and had never been to a quilt store before. Everything came from JoAnn's or Hancock Fabrics. Even in those stores, there was a lot of staring at me and women cutting in line in front of me because they thought I was just there holding stuff for a wife. I don't know if I'd have even gotten into quilting if women at the pattern book table hadn't made me feel so uncomfortable, staring and moving away so that they could make sure our shoulders wouldn't touch. Add to that my natural insecurity and a shyness I cannot overcome and the fabric stores were a pretty bad experience for me.

But, I needed a foot and a quilting friend I had made at JoAnn's sent me to the quilt store for it. They had it and they were offering a quilt class. I wanted to go, but it was during the day and I knew I couldn't take off Wednesdays from 9-1 for 10 weeks or whatever it was. But, they offered me this BOM they were holding for 2007. I paid $5 to get in and every month I brought the finished block back, I got a new block for free and a 25% discount on anything in the store.

Okay, so don't let anyone fool you. There's no such thing as a $5 quilt. We didn't have a kid. I had the money and I got a stash out of it. Not just a stash of fabric, but also of threads. And, out of the 20 or so of us that brought our blocks back month after month, I was one of the few that actually finished the quilt. Even the designer never finished hers. And, you can see why. There's no contrast and they used all the colors they had in stock in the quilt, so there was nothing to use for set in triangles or sashing that didn't disappear into some part of a block. Because all the blocks were one print, I decided all the finishing fabrics had to be that print, too. So, the finishing and backing cost me about $65 and then there was the batt and the invisible thread and the hours and hours of quilting and this little quilt turned out to be quite expensive. In business, we call that hidden cost. And, because I was one of the few that finished, it got hung in the store for a month. My only displayed work.

Every year, I pull it out and hang it up, just for the short Texas spring. Then, I'll take it down and replace it with one of my more summery quilts.

So, what about the quilt designer? She still works in the store a couple days a week. I've followed her BOM two additional years and have two additional ugly quilts. This year, I decided not to participate. I didn't even finish the one for last year yet. I'll get to it. Just not today.

In case you hadn't figured it out yet, I got over my fear of fabric stores. I took a class, I studied and I learned and now I'm a pretty good quilter. I think of myself at the advanced level when picking patterns. I do pretty good with color selection.

But, mostly, I'm not afraid of quilting. Sometimes it scares me to walk out my front door. Sometimes it scares me to try something new. Sometimes it scares me to say what I feel or what I think. But it never scares me to pull down a new pattern and select fabrics and make a beautiful quilt. And, it doesn't scare me to change my mind half way and pull out a week's worth of work and do it over again or pull a block off the design wall and make a new one.

If you're afraid to try free motion quilting, or afraid to use orange, or afraid to buy a yard of that beautiful fabric just because you don't have a project for it yet, as Cher said in Moonstruck, "Snap out of it!" It's only quilting. Even if you don't like it, you can find a purpose for it. You can hang it once a year to help you remember who you were when you made it. You can give it to a charity. You can give it to someone you don't like.

And, some people can just leave it unfinished. I think those are the bravest quilters of all. Sometimes I wish I was one.

Take care and have a great Wednesday. Next week is spring break and we're planning what we're going to do. I hope to quilt. But, I think Miss Sydney wants to do something. We'll see who gets the best of whatever compromise we end up with.



Forward Momentum

When we finally get it together and get it in motion, nothing stops us...

but ourselves.

At least that's true in my family.

It's spring here and again, I spent time cleaning up the flowerbeds. This is a long term project for me because just when I get one thing cleaned up, it makes the thing next to it look bad. The feedback I've been getting from Sydney is that my flowerbeds lack color. Now, you have to understand that she's giving this as very serious and grown up gardening advice, so it's hard not to giggle. I tried to point out the things that are in bloom and talk about how, except from Jan 15 to Feb 15, there's always something in bloom in my garden. Right now, it's a fuschia pink Witch Hazel and a bright blue ground cover. Small spots of color in beds that are just starting to wake up. But, she thinks they should have color all the time...well, colors other than green. So, we bought her some snapdragons to get her started and I picked up a couple of things that will bloom good later in the spring and stand up to the heat of summer. And, we got this year's snow peas planted...late again.

Next weekend, we're going to replace the path from the deck to the greenhouse. It's a brick path now and is going to be stepping stones. I need the brick in the back garden to finish the path that takes me through the flowerbeds without getting my feet muddy. So, it's going to be stepping stones, filled around with mulch and a small border of cast iron plant along the edge of the house. This was supposed to be one of last year's projects but the idea got postponed. Not gonna let it get postponed again, even if I have to do the work myself.

I also spent all the time I could quilting. I traced that wind quilting motif and cut it as a stencil out of plastic. It's probably my most used motif and I've always had to trace it every time I used it. Then, I pin basted the baby quilt I'm going to use it on and started the ditch work. And, I'm sewing the sleeve on my spring quilt to get it hung in the sewing room. Oh, how I regret not sewing sleeves on all those projects as I finished them. Seems that now, everytime I want to hang something, I have to put a sleeve on it. Be glad when that boring work is done. I even have trouble doing now when I finish a quilt, tho. I want it finished and hung and those last two steps are a drag on production.

It would be nice to get to start something new. I've been collecting 30's reproductions for a quilt I have in mind. I pulled them out to see what I had and was pleasantly surprised to find quite the collection. But, they were calling to me and tormenting me, so I locked them in a dark closet with the rest of the stash. Now, that may have been a mistake because I know that stash and coathangers reproduce in the dark and I could end up with a profusion of pastel prints, totally by accident.

Take care, have a great Monday. If you're getting to quilt, put in a few stitches for me. Lane

P.S. If you live or shop in Minneapolis/St Paul, please let me know your favorite quilt shop. I'm coming up for a couple of days later this month and am taking one day just for me. Me, me, ME! lw


Friday's update on all my stuff.

Well, we've got the demon tamed (for a little while), although she did get a surprise backpack search this morning and lost a pair of shoes that she's not supposed to wear to school. They have a strict dress code and these shoes don't meet it. I wonder what she was going to do if she got caught and the school called me??? I know. I know. She didn't think about that.

And, I got to see the school dance picture last night and I'll tell you, that girl is growing up too fast. She was in an awfully adult pose (think Betty Grable as a pinup). All I could think to say was "that picture tells me you aren't ready for boy/girl parties yet." But, I know that everybody messes up and it's my job to teach her to act like a young lady and this gave me a great example of behavior we don't want that I can try to nip now and maybe not have to fight about when she's older and better developed. I didn't treat this as bad because I know where it was modeled for her, but I will take it as an opportunity to teach her something different. Starting with no more hoodie, shirt tucked in and some pride in appearance. Didn't think I'd have to teach that to a girl. I was depending on peer pressure, but that's not happening fast enough for me.

I'm starting to see this as a see-saw ride where she jockeys for adult power and I force her into submission. Back and forth. Tried to explain that to Rob this morning, but am not sure he's getting it. He thinks this is something we can stop. Yeah. Just like we can stop her from getting taller.

On a more relaxed note, I got the sleeve on the Storm in my Garden quilt this morning and plan to get the label on tonight and hang it in the living room. I need to put a sleeve on my spring quilt and get it hung in the sewing room, but most of my time is going to be spent on prepping the pinwheel baby quilt for quilting. I haven't decided quite how to mark that quilt yet. I'm going to be using a wind pattern that I traced off one of my mentor's quilts onto clear plastic. I've used that many times by paper marking, but I really don't want to go to the trouble of making 6 needle-punched, paper copies of a 24x36inch motif. I'd rather chalk mark but don't trust my chalks to wash out of a white quilt. So, again, after all my searching for the perfect marking tool, I'm searching again for another one that's perfect for this project.

And, I refused to get on the scale this morning. That bacon in Minneapolis was so delicious, and I had it at more than one meal. I didn't go crazy, but did decide that after two airport junk food meals and all the wonderful sandwiches and potato salad and pasta salad I had up there, I deserved a break from the weigh-in.

Soooo, unless I lose points for wishing I could get away from my family and go back to a hotel, I think I'm okay on all my NY resolutions for yet another week. And, if anybody wants to take off points for wishing, I'm glad to swap for a week, but I'll warn you, Aunt Flo comes next week.

Hmmm, yet another reason to go to a hotel.

Have a great Friday. I know I'm getting lots of hits and new followers are joining up every day. If you think to, please leave a word of encouragement, just so I'll know you were here. I know my blog is all over the place with old stories and vintage things and quilting and raising my demon child. Just want to make sure I'm still making you smile and not putting you to sleep. Mama taught me not to come across as a complainer. ;-)



Back where I belong...but do I have to stay here?

Umm, so nice to come home. All quiet, everyone asleep. I slipped into my jammies and brushed my teeth and settled into my own bed...Ahhhhhh! Sound sleep.

Then, this morning, Rob comes marching into the sewing room: Sydney blah, blah, blah failing school, blah, blah, blah, backtalking, blah, blah, blah, posed like a swimsuit model in a picture at the school dance. And, me sitting there all peaceful, handstitching a sleeve on a quilt, and staring at him with my mouth open. How can so much have happened in just 30 hours?????

I got him off to work and woke up the demon and handed her the vacuum cleaner, knowing it would provoke all the sighing and moaning typical of a pre-teen girl. At which point, I cracked down like a bear trap and reminded her I'd been warning her for a week to chill it out or we'd tighten down and now it was time. Bad grades and backtalk won't cut it here.

Next I go to the kitchen where I find the dishes from the three meals they ate (two of which I cooked before I left) all stacked and waiting for me to wash. What the h*##!

Grrrr. That hotel is looking better and better.

Next, I took away her most precious thing (next to the puppy of course), the 4th Twilight book. When grades come up, she gets the book back. Then, it was time to start emailing the teachers. First, math. Some of the problems I helped her with were marked wrong on last week's homework, "where did I lead her wrong?" Then, the librarian, "don't let Sydney check this book out because we took it away as a consequence." Next the choir teacher "I know you want an answer, but I can't tell you whether Sydney can come to the pizza party next week, it depends on whether she stops the pre-teen attitude".

All that's left is figuring out whether they're going to let her play volleyball next year. What? You don't want her to play because she can't pay attention in gym class? Why do you think I want her to play volleyball? So she'll learn to pay attention in gym class.

And, I forgot it was Vintage Thingies Thursday, so no post for that. RATS!!!

I fly from the computer to the dentist where I got VERY good news, I've almost beaten back my periodontal disease...Yeah!!!! But, hmmm. The only good news is all about me.

And, then to the office where I'm frantically trying to finish the document that has to go to the state tomorrow.


How I miss the serenity of that hotel room, even with all it's little inconveniences. I picked up the phone and someone brought me food. And, when I was done, I put the dishes outside and someone came and got them. Someone came and made the bed and scrubbed the tub and when things were broken, a man came and fixed them for me. I didn't have to worry about a thing.

Let's see, maybe business travel ain't so bad after all. When can I get away again?

I hope this conveyed the frantic pace of my life. I know a bunch of you are parents to small children. Remember, when they get a little older, there are hotel rooms all over the country. Hey, it's an alternate choice to a padded room and a straighjacket...

Can I get an Amen from the parents of the teens out there?



The first time I saw snow...

My boss was right. I really did not have to get out and could probably have made the trip yesterday in shirtsleeves instead of the 4 layers of very warm clothes I was wearing. But, better safe than sorry. I thought of a dozen disasters that would have left me stranded outside and I was ready for any of them.

Flying in to Minneapolis, I had a window seat. The view was breathtaking. Clouds over Detroit, but after a little, that cleared off and the snow on the ground was just beautiful. I know you guys that live in this are tired of it, but for a southern boy, it was great fun.

It reminded me of the first time I was ever anywhere that was really cold. I spent February and the first week of March 1990 in Cleveland for work. And, this is way back Wednesday.

Honestly, I had never seen anything like it. In my childhood, we had ice storms that were beautiful in their own right, with every needle of the pine trees covered with a layer of ice, but snow was a totally different thing. And, in the south, when there's ice on the roads, everything closes down until the ice is gone. Not so in the north.

When I got to Cleveland that year, the snow was not very thick, but a couple of days into it, there was a heavy snowfall that left snow on the ground up to my knees. And, me in leather soled cowboy boots. It's a wonder I didn't break my neck. It was "blue cold". A friend took me to an empty parking lot and put me behind the wheel of my rental car and mashed her foot on the gas until she put the car into a spin and then made me learn how to get traction out of it. That's always seemed a strange way to teach someone to drive on ice, but from what I understand talking to my friends from the north, it's quite a common story among them. I made snowmen and snow angels. I was awakened every morning at 4am by the plow guy in the hotel parking lot. I saw yellow snow (that I didn't make!) and the dirty sludge snow that gets pushed to the side of the road by the big highway plows.

On the way to the office one morning, I decided I could pass the snowplow on the right. (You northerners can stop laughing now) What I got was a windshield covered with heavy black snow and I could not see out. I quickly turned on the windshield wipers and all they did was move around inside the snow without pushing it off the windshield. At 45 mph, going down an unfamiliar freeway, that was one of my most frightening driving experiences.

At the time I was a smoker and we went down to the parking garage for a cig one day without our coats and of course, there was a fire alarm that sent everyone outside. That's probably the coldest I've ever been.

And, because I was flying home every weekend, I learned to leave things up there instead of hauling it all back and forth. I flew into Cleveland in a heavy snow and ice storm one Sunday night and my coat in the trunk of a friends car didn't do me any good. I can remember that the road was solid white. No one had driven in the snow and the only way I could tell I was on the road was to stay between the pilings of the bridges. I don't know if I was in a lane or over the line, but I never got off the road.

So, when you're laughing about schools and offices closing in the south because of a little snow, or you hear about people running out to play in it, remember that we don't all get to see it that often. I was 28 before I saw my first real snow.

Take care and have a great Wednesday. I'm in the sabotaged hotel room. Someone broke all the electronics, so I didn't have an alarm clock, I got the TV turned on but couldn't turn down the volume or turn it off, and the coffeepot didn't work. When the hotel guy got up here, he just shook his head and offered to move me, but by that time, he'd fixed everything but the coffee pot. I didn't find out about that til this morning. Sombody thought they were taking revenge on the hotel, but really, they were just inconveniencing another traveler. But, it's happened to me before and some butthead is probably sabotaging a room somewhere right now.



Spring's promise

Okay, guess I won't be seeing things like this for a couple of days.


Coming soon to a backyard near you, it's Spring!! If it's happening here, it's bound to be happening to you soon. Very soon. Just keep saying that, over and over. Spring is very soon.

The trees will begin to make leaves (okay, so this one is in the potting shed, but other trees are sprouting, too. they just weren't as easy to get to as this one.)

The lemon trees are even in bloom, getting ready to start making lemons that we'll enjoy in December and January.

Things are starting to sprout from the ground.

And, the daffodils are blooming. Too bad I don't have more, but it's just this one, lonely daff this year. (bulbs don't do well here. they have to be dug every year or they rot unless they're in a VERY well drained area and my back yard is not well drained.)

Okay, so now, you have a reminder of things to look forward to. Take care and have a great day. If there's an internet connection in the hotel room, you'll get to hear all about how cold it is in MN.
I'm going to be gone all of 30 hours and normally, my family would be acting like I was headed out west on a wagon train. But not this time. I used to find it annoying that they clung to me and cried because I was leaving for three days. Seeing it as a non-event might be more annoying. Sydney's departure? Me: I'll see you tomorrow night. Her: "K. See ya'" as she trod to the bus stop. Not even sure I got a hug and a kiss.


A finish!

I decided to name this quilt "Storm in my Garden". I mean, with all that green and brown, what else could it be. And, right now, it reminds me of the promise of my garden. Right now, all green and brown, but later, bursting with color.

This is how I ended up handling the large square w/in a square w/in a square blocks and the diamonds. It all reinforces the circles and the ribbons that run through the quilt. Now, if I had this quilt to do over again, the right triangles that go around the diamonds would have all been mediums. And, the second round of the sq w/in a sq w/in a sq would have been light and the small squares would be light. I think that would have made a much prettier quilt as it would have continued the ribbons and circles.

And, this little bit of freehand free-motion wonder that I found in a book and thought, I can't do that. But, I marked it on the vertical, horizontal and both diagonals and these little jewels were a piece o cake.

Here's a shot of the back. See the big flowers in the bottom of the shot? Each one of those is centered on one of the firework thingies in the border. They are not freehand. Had to cut these out and pounce them on.

And, we finally got a good snap of the puppy. This took two of us though. I guess she doesn't like the flash and whenever we aim the camera at her, she turns her face. (Pay no attention to the ugly sheet on the sofa. It was laundry day for the quilt that's usually there.)

Take care and have a great day. The sun was shining and things are starting to pop out of the ground. Tomorrow it's off to Minneapolis. 16* at night. Criminey. I do hope to get up there and visit some of the great quilt shops one day, but for this trip? The only time I plan to be outside is on the airport shuttle. Lane