The gathering

That title sounds like I'm proposing a gathering of the quilters I know, in some centrally located city. I WISH!!

What it's really about is my first gathered seam. The picture below is a shirt I'm making for Sydney. She picked all the fabrics and the pattern and I'm doing all the work. (At some point, we're going to need to rectify that.) Anyway, the pattern has elastic, a product I've only worked with in the waistband of boxer shorts and then it was an inch wide, not a quarter inch. This time, it was elastic in the collar.

But, just above the waistband is not elastic. That's a gathered seam. I read the instructions for that and thought "I can do that". But, then I started putting it together and realized I had to condense about 12" of bodice down to about 6" of bodice, without any wierd puckering. I fiddled with it a while, but I think I did a nice job of spreading out the gather so it looks even all the way across.

She's pretty pumped up about it and looking forward to having it, but not as much as she's looking forward to the purple button down that's next in the pile for her.

Oh, and total price for the above shirt? 2 yd fabric with a half price coupon = $5 (and some left for the stash); elastic = $1 (and almost the whole package left over for next time), thread = $1.50, Simplicity pattern on sale = .99c. Total, $8.49. Getting her out of her jeans and t-shirts? Priceless.

Funny, since she's come to us, she's always designed clothes. One of her favorite games a few years ago was to design dresses and set prices for them and try to get us to buy them. We'd compliment the huge feathery formal styles and pay play money to buy them in bulk. The best we could do was be buyers for a store as we don't actually wear dresses. Now, she's really designing her own clothes to wear. I'd forgotten all about those old design books of colored sketches. I wonder where they are now??? Can't be that far away. We save EVERYTHING.

Okay, so this next picture is a cautionary tale. It happened before my surgery, so was not the result of me being doped up and acting crazy dangerous like Rob thought I might. I had put a new blade in my rotary cutter one Sunday. I was cutting out something and dropped it. It hit my shoe and I didn't think anything of it. Gradually, over the afternoon, my shoe got loose, but I didn't think anything of that either. Then, in the evening, I went to untie my shoe and this is what I found. I'd cut off both ends of my shoelace, right at the knot.

Okay, so no running with scissors, and now no rotary cutting in bare feet. Rules, rules, rules. I guess we never outgrow them.



What do you hate about your job?

Everybody has something they hate about their job. If there wasn't something to hate about it, they wouldn't have to pay us to do it, right? Maybe it's the restriction of not being able to do whatever you want to every day. Maybe it's a person that drives you nuts, or a report that's so unnecessarily complex, you just wanna expose yourself no mononucleosis (sp?) to avoid it.

For me, it's being the last person in line. I'm the go-to guy that people bring their work problems to and I solve them. It's not part of my job to give up, or say I don't know, or say it's not part of my responsibility. It's my job to solve what no one else has been able to solve. And, sometimes that puts me in the uncomfortable position of being demanding. Unfortunately, of all the skills I possess, that's the one that I am weakest in.

To be a good demander, you have to have the patience of Job, never be snarky, never offend, but never give up. Me, I get tired of being patient and asking and waiting. I do it for a while. Then I lose patience and I growl. Loud. Too loud.

Okay, I get results, and that's what my boss likes. But, I don't like how I get them and I don't know any different way. I thought that over the years, I'd get better at it. But I haven't. Oh, sure, sometimes I can get results with a smile. Some people are receptive to my requests and are glad to share what they know or point me where I need to check. But, there are other people who will smile back at me and 5 minutes later, forget everything I said. And those are the ones I'm most likely to growl at.

I mean, it's one thing to answer my questions with an "I don't know", but it's a whole 'nother thing altogether to say "it's not my responsibility". I don't get to do that in my job and I don't think that's how other people should do theirs. But, they do. And, I don't handle it well. But, I continue to get results, so I keep being the one sent to get what is needed. And, I keep being uncomfortable with my lack of skill in this area.

I couldn't do it at all if it weren't for my winning personality. Somehow, I manage to piss people off and yet maintain good working relationships with most of them. Okay, maybe something way short of friendship, but a working relationship nonetheless. My boss likes that, too.

But it's still uncomfortable.

Okay, everyone have a great day. Clearly, I have something I need to go handle and I'm not looking forward to it. But, you know what? This too shall pass and the sooner started, the sooner finished.



Her name is June...

Okay, so I'm as bad as John Gray at Going Gently. If I name a quilt, I want to keep a quilt. Now, if you read a few of John's back posts, you'll find that he's raffling off the opp to both name and save the pig. And, that is probably very close to me, not dropping charity quilts off at Project Linus yet. I don't need them, but I'm going to hate to see them go. I'll do a photo retrospective of them sometime before they need to go. I'm hoping to take them the third week of July to the regular monthly meeting.

Here she is from the front. There must be too much contrast for my camera to do justice to the bright citrus-ey colors of this quilt.

I quilted it in an all over flowers and leaves in a very heavy rust-orange thread.

And, she has a very busy back. Best feature of the back? There's a dot that maches the thread color and it was FREE! Love free for Linus.

We had a really nice weekend. I worked in the yard all morning both days. Rob put up some shelves in the sunroom, so I was able to move things far along there. After I had worked out there yesterday morning, I just sat down and enjoyed it for a while. The screen door has been re-hung after it's repaint and rescreening in the spring so there's a nice cross breeze. I can sit out there and just enjoy the sunrise with a good book or some hand work.

I traced a pattern for Sydney, so she'll be getting a new shirt soon and I'm kitting up the quilt for me to take on vacation. I'm taking the featherweight and a project and if I can find a card table at goodwill or a garage sale, Rob has agreed to cut me a new top that will hold my featherweight and make a large level surface to work on.

We are really planning to take it easy on this vacation, and the fam knows that's going to include quilting for me, so they make accomodation for it. Sydney knows that if I'm at a machine sewing, I'm not waking her up early to go do something. I'm gently insisting that Rob take his guitar, so my hope is to be seranaded while I quilt, in the dawn, on a mountaintop. Now, if you want more from a vacation than that, then we won't be seeing you at a crowded park.

Take care and have a great Monday. It's going to be busy at my work and busy makes it pass faster. Gotta love a busy work day.




Remember this old machine? It's the one I rewired in April. I didn't have an owner's manual, didn't know the manufacturer, but a commenter happened to have me look into National Rotary sewing machines instead of White and I started to learn more about it. Eldredge Sewing Machine and National Sewing Machine made many of the machines sold under lesser known brand names, like this Scarbrough. They often made machines that were named for the stores that sold them and Scarbrough's was a big department store chain around here that started in San Antionio and was still in business when I moved here.

Coincidentally, after I learned more about the machine, I happened to be scrolling through ebay under Vintage Sewing Machines (I know, that's a very dangerous activity for a collector) and I saw this set of attachments. Just from the picture on the cover of the Instruction Manual, I happened to recognize my machine. Now I have a set of Griest attachments that actually went with this model machine. There were even the extra long needles that are almost impossible to find, two bobbins and the orginal certificate of warranty issued to the purchaser of whatever machine these were originally sold with. And, I confess. I did pull my machine out just now to make sure that the machine number on the certificate wasn't the number of my machine. That would have just been too coincidental, right?

I picked up the set of attachments below a couple of years ago when I first started collecting and didn't realize that they wouldn't fit my old singers. I wasn't familiar with griest attachments. I happened to pull out the old Scarbrough and saw that they would fit it, so that was coincidental. Now that I have the attachments for the Scarbrough, I can move this set to my new Kenmore, which is also Griest.

Hey, sometimes coincidence is where you create it.

Hope you're having a great Sunday. I'm out to work in the yard before it gets too hot. Lane


Two men, two shirts

Remember me saying I was making shirts for Rob and me? Well, I finally got pictures of them. We are both wearing them today. Yea, Friday!

Rob's is pretty tropical and as soon as he saw the fabric, I knew it was exactly what he wanted. It was a booger to match the pocket on and I ended up having to piece the pocket to get it to exactly match the front of the shirt. I'm all about invisible pockets on shirts.

Here's me in my shirt. I'm pretty sure that I'll be cutting out the side seams and taking some of the size out of it. It came out huge without me noticing until this morning. Now, I know I've put this shirt on before and even though I've lost a little weight in the last week, it's not enough to make this difference. Unfortunately, the large size runs all the way up the collar, so it will never be exactly right and I'm going to launder the shirt before I take scissors to it to see if it shrinks any little bit (doubt it since the fabric was prewashed and dried). But, I like it and will wear it even if it is too big.

I've started my list of stuff that needs to get done this weekend. And, of course, there's too much. But, I'm going to make sure I get in a trip to JoAnn's, even if I just buy thread. I earned a $10 gift card last week and I refuse to let it go to waste. I don't need fabric and JoAnn's doesn't sell extra sewing time, which is what I really need, but I still won't let that free money go to waste.

Everybody take care. Even though I only worked yesterday and today, I'm looking forward to the weekend. I need some family time and now that I can eat again, bring it on!



The big reveal

Well, my days off to recover are done and I'm back to the office after a visit with the surgeon. I still have a hard plastic bandage along my bottom teeth and a plastic retainer that covers my uppers and the roof of my mouth and I'm soooooo hoping I can take both out because after a week, they've become a bit uncomfortable. Just a bit.

I don't know how long it will be before I can take a big bite out of something, but Rob asked me last night what I wanted to eat after a week of liquid/soft food diet. I want a crisp crust pizza, covered with italian sausage and peppers. And, I want to take a big bite out of a thick juicy hamburger. Not thinking he's going to let me bite into the burger just yet, but there's still hope for the pizza soon.

Here's the finished denim quilt I made Monday and Tuesday. So, why did this become a high priority? When I got home last thursday, I just wanted to cuddle under my cuddle quilt and take a nap. But, my cuddle quilt was spread over the seat of the sofa. No more. Now, I have my cuddle whenever I want it and the sofa has a much stronger cover to protect the upholstery.

This is the inside. All the edges are finished, so no raveling. The seams are just like the outside leg seams of a pair of jeans.

And, here it is in it's new place. Now, I need to make two smaller versions for the chairs. Hmmm. More treadling? I think so. I really enjoyed that and want to put some free motion work in the outer border. Something borderish and I'm going to do it all on the treadle. But, first, I have to pull the treadle out of the corner. The quilt is so heavy, I need more table surface for it to sit on if I'm going to do free motion. Gravity is truly the free motion quilter's enemy.

Everybody have a great Thursday. Lane


Power to the people

No, that's a bit 60's anti-establishment, even for today.

Power from the people. No, we all know that government is powered by John Boehner's tears.

That just leaves people powered. And, that's today's subject.

Couple of days ago, I decided to start a denim quilt and use my treadle (people powered) machine. Rob came home and he was intrigued and talked about making a video. Next thing I knew, the camera was behind me and the red light was on.

Okay, so I need to explain that I was on a pain pill and I hope my hands are not as animated in real life as they are in this video. Mostly, this is Rob and me having fun with our toys; he the camera and me the machine.

Hope you enjoy us playing. Have a great Wednesday. Lane


Hello, world

From the small sewing room.

I think doctor's have gotten wise to us. At least my surgeon. He only told me what I asked about. I guess that's a very neat tactic for getting folks to actually show up for their surgery. I knew this was going to be rough, but I expected it to be painful rough. But, that's not been it. I've had very little pain and Rob helped me manage it beautifully. Friday and Saturday, I only needed one pain pill a day and that was near the end of the day, after I'd used my mouth to talk and eat. Yesterday, no pain pills at all. Just Ibuprofen for the soreness. And, I am sore.

No, the roughness has been eating; I'm still on soft foods and liquids. I thought I was prepared, but I wasn't. I am now, tho, but it required a stop at the market for things that I can swallow without chewing. I started with a big pot of potato soup from Coloradolady's recipe. Suzanne, it was wonderful and filling and everything I needed...after I'd run it through the blender so I could drink it.

We've established that I don't sit still well. I must have quite the reputation because I found out on Thursday night that Rob had actually gone so far as to lock me out of my sewing room, lest I decide I could rotary cut.

I asked first for my knitting and he wouldn't bring it, but this afghan for Linus sits out and I walked past it and snatched it up and brought it to my place on the sofa. Bella protected and comforted me, sticking close all day. Incidentally, could not have knitted, so, thanks Rob. It was hours later before I felt together enough to count 72 patterned sock stitches on four needles. Thank God those huge jowls went away.

Friday, I made myself a stocking cap. I found the pattern in a crochet for left handers book and didn't have enough yarn in this ball to make the whole thing, but didn't let that stop me and ended up with a very warm cap. This yarn is hemp and something, I don't remember what. I've had it for about 8 years and Rob has some things made out of it and this was all that was left of a couple of very expensive skeins. I'm making myself an olive green wool coat this fall and this should go with it mahvelously.

I finished my sock and am ready to start the next one. Thanks, Pauline for the suggestion on the ribbing at the top. I must have messed up a row when I ribbed this way the first time because it rolled before. It was worth starting it 18 times. Cute, huh? And all my home made socks are very warm and comfy.

On Saturday, I made myself a pair of shorts. This is a muslin, but they're fine for wearing around the house. My next pair will marry an attempt to add a bit at the hips without adding any at the waist.

And, yesterday, I finished the feathers on West of Paris, Texas. Someone asked me how I mark my feathers, but they commented with a no reply. If I want my feathers to be fluid and varied, which is how I like them, I only draw the stem and free hand all the feathers. If I want my feathers to be very regimented, I draw three lines. One is the stem and then there's a line on each side of the stem. That's how far out my feathers should go. If I limit the feather length by keeping them inside that line, it's easy to limit their width and make them very regimented.

For this, I did not want them to be regimented.

And, I haven't figured out today's project yet. Three more days. I cut out my denim quilt yesterday and Rob layed it out and we numbered it. That's some thing new, right? I need to quilt a Linus quilt that's already pieced. But, before that, I'm going to sit out in the swing with a book and enjoy the cool part of the day. Our daytime temps have been at or above 100 most of the month and it's just miserable out there, so I go out in the morning and stay in the rest of the day. My poor gardens are dying of thirst.

Have a great Monday. Lane


Act like a lady

How many times did I hear my Mom tell my sisters; "you have to act like a lady for people to think of you as a lady"...or something really close to that.

Now, I grew up in the South in the 60's and 70's and "ladies" were abundant. Hats and gloves were out of style for my Mom's generation, but for the generation before, there were still plenty of hat and glove ladies. Ladies that sat at table with their ankles crossed. Ladies who always knew what went with what and who always looked perfectly put together when they left the house. A bit of powder, a touch of rouge, a pale lipstick and perfect hair (usually tinted blue or pink). Not many of that kind of old school lady left, although we do on occassion encounter one in daily life.

Now, for me anyway, a lady is defined more by how she acts than how she looks. And, that kind of lady is abundant around us. Ladies that know what is right and who know what is wrong and who still consider what others might think before they act. Ladies who are strong enough to let their own self respect and confidence guide the decisions they make. Those are the things I want to teach my daughter.

This morning we had to have the discussion about self respectful behavior. We regularly preach self confidence and leadership as opposed to following, but self respect is something we more assume than expect because she seems so confident around us. But, there was an incident at camp yesterday that was not an example of self respectful behavior.

I've tried the whole "act like a lady" schpiel and you can imagine the deaf ears that went with the rolled eyes. I think I like the self respect angle better. I mean, we can show her how to look like a lady and how to hide her less appealing features...hey, every drag queen shows that a big head needs big hair. But, as far as acting like a lady? That's not really either of our strongpoint.

But, if I change the lesson to "act self respectful", I can be a role model on that. I may not be able to help her put on eye makeup, but having little respect for myself and letting myself be used and then finding my self respect and happiness; those are things I can talk about and things I can model just by living the way I do. Just by sharing the stories of my past.

What I've learned about parenting is that my best lessons are by example. To teach that change is possible, I had to model change and that meant actually changing. To teach consequences, I've had to let her see the consequences of my actions as well as experience the consequences of her actions. And, to teach her to act like a lady, I have to model self respectful behavior.
Okay, so that bit of way back wednesday wisdom is my last post for a couple days. Everybody take care. I've had to promise Rob that I won't use a rotary cutter or sewing machine for two days. He's asking for a hand written sign; "I promised I would listen to Rob" with my signature so he can flash it at me any time I think I can do something dangerous on pain meds. Hey, Friday, he goes back to work. What he don't know won't scare him.

I know that I promised myself I'd quilt feathers this week, but I have been bad. All I've worked on is a shirt for Rob. Can't wait to show it off and I never got around to showing off the one I made for myself last week.

Take care and I'll be back this weekend. Lane


Spreading her wings and flopping to the ground

Having a 13 year old is never boring. It's the constant up and down of the roller coaster; brag a while, vent a while, brag a while, vent a while.

This week's issue is (drumroll) Sydney's laptop. Sydney was given my old laptop when I bought a new one. She has two id's, each with a password and only one is supposed to have internet access. She only has the password for the ID that can't access the www. But, a few weeks ago, I logged her main ID into the internet for her and thought that when I shut down, she'd lose her access. But, she didn't. And, like any smart 13 year old, she created a facebook page and an email account. And, like most of those other 13 year olds on the planet, she made every bit of her personal information, name, address, dob...available to anyone and friended everyone that bumped into her site, whether she knew them or not. She did everything that we would have explained not to do...if she'd just waited for us to grant her internet access.

Rob and I feel different. I think his feelings are hurt that after 4 years, she still doesn't trust us to watch out for her best interest and protect her.

Me, I gave her the tools she needed to make a decision, even tho I didn't mean to. The decision she made proves she's not ready to make decisions on her own.

And, that's how I explained it. And, how I explained her loss of the laptop. And, how I will explain her lengthy list of upcoming chores. And, that's about as much attention as I can give this right now. I have my own stuff going on.

My mouth surgery is this week. Oddly, I'm not nearly as upset as I was when I first heard I needed it. But, I read about it and mentioned it to my regular doctor and her response was "Oh, getting older, huh? Isn't that nice." She and I are very nearly the same age and for her to think of it so unimportantly made me feel so much better. If it had been anything, she'd have leapt on it like a duck on a junebug. Mainly, I'm just relieved that in a few weeks, I won't have to spend as much effort caring for my teeth. In a few weeks, my mouth can be back to "normal" and I can go back to just brushing and flossing like everyone else.

Thanks for your nice comments on yesterday's linus quilt. I looked at it again last night and it certainly is much more cheerful than that picture looked.

I also got asked if I was going to teach Sydney to sew. Ongoing effort. Right now, her feeling on sewing is "I don't want to be like you and just sew all the time. I wanna do stuff!" Okay, well, I asked you to make me a potholder, so we'll just let that drop now, won't we. She has pieced two quilts. One is waiting for her to piece a back and then I can quilt it. It would be nice to get it finished for vacation as it's a great size, but we'll have to see. She tried to get me to "make" her sew on it a while back, but I confused her by folding it up and putting it in the closet instead of fighting. Parents need to be unpredictable.

Right now, she has me over a barrel. If she sews, she hates it because I'm making her do it. If she doesn't sew, then she's taking a stand against sewing. Funny thing is, she really enjoys it, so she's the only one missing out. Sewing clothes for her is why I started sewing clothes. We've already explained to her that I can make nicer clothes than I can afford to buy, so it's in her interest to get me sewing for her now. But, even that, I had to threaten to stay in JoAnn's until she picked her first pattern. Who knew she'd pick two more in rapid succession.

I guess I should have. That's my girl. Always unpredictable.

Incidentally, I've never liked roller coasters. But, I kind of enjoy this one now that all the shouting has stopped and all we have to do is be unpredictable...in very predictable ways.

Is anybody else having trouble commenting? I've read some really interesting posts lately, but I haven't been able to comment on some blogs. Not ignoring it, but I need to figure this out and that starts by figuring out if I'm the only one.



June Linus quilt

I am a simple man when it comes to my Linus donations. First, they have to be quick. Second, they have to be cheerful. Third, they have to be constructed well enough that even if they immediately become a dog blanket, they'll last for a while.

This quilt meets those criteria and even though this photo looks pretty washed out, it's actually cuter than I thought it would be. It's all lime green and orange and lemony yellow.

I started with this fat quarter that I knew I'd never use and I pulled fabrics that matched the colors in it, in as close as I could to the designer's proportions...except the black. A bit of black is plenty for a cheerful quilt.

Just like that, I had whipped out a Linus quilt.

I pieced it the smaller pieces into 9.5" blocks the other day on the Singer 237 just to give her a try at the quarter inch seams. She did very nicely, but her normal foot is just under a quarter inch, so there were a few wonky blocks that had to be trimmed down.

Then, I pulled out the white (temperamental) featherweight and put it right away again and pulled out my good black featherweight. We all know what these beauties look like on the outside, so no picture here. They're just cute little darlings of a sewing machine and only weigh about 11 pounds. I used mine to make a shirt that will be featured in a post this week. And, as leaders/enders on the shirt, I assembled all the blocks into rows and after the shirt was finished, put all the rows together.

This weekend, I'll quilt it with something big and fun and some red/orange thread. And, that will be my June commitment. All finished.

This morning, I started putting a shirt together for Rob and I still have a quilt all spread out and waiting to be finished. I promise to work on it tomorrow morning. I promise, I promise, I promise. But, I'm just having so much fun making shirts, and Sydney picked out another pattern and fabric yesterday.

So far, since the first one she picked out, she's been able to pick out fabrics from the back wall of JoAnn's where everything is really cheap and then marked down by half. I got her the pattern, fabric, buttons and a spool of thread for about $12 yesterday. Can't beat that for a little cotton top with elastic sleeves and waist. Now, to find the time to make it.

Take care and have a great Monday. Lane


A new attitude...

No, not me. Still grumpy as ever. It's this old girl that's got a new attitude.

This is a Kenmore sewing machine from the mid 50's. Look at all the flat planes. No curves. A very masculine machine, me thinks. And, she's sparkly and clean...now.

I got her off ebay. Fell in love with the shape, right up front. Price was right and shipping was low. All the pics looked good, so at bedtime one night, I placed my max bid and just let it go. If I got it, good. If not, so be it.

But, for a 35 lb bohemoth, she wasn't packed very well. Just bubble wrap and a kind of a flimsy box. She must have gotten banged up pretty good. The needle bar was bent inside of this shaft. A thread guide was flattened, a needle pin broken off and I think the hand wheel is bent.

And, you can see how dirty. I can only assume this is a combination of machine oil and nicotine, but fortunately, it polished right off, with a whole lot of elbow grease, most of a Saturday, and some sewing machine oil.

When I bought her, I thought she was brown and a copper colored metal, but it's not. It's all black and chrome. Under years of dirt and dust.

Ughhhh! Look at that lintball. It took a couple of hours to remove this and oil and clean under the bed.

Hours of oiling and gently moving parts until the oil all dispersed inside of her. And, then I connected the electrics and gave her a whirl. Took a while to get everything moving correctly. She doesn't have a belt, but rather a rubber bushing from the motor touches the outer edge of the handwheel and that bushing has a flat spot on it, so it makes a noise every time that flat spot hits the handwheel, but that's an easily replaceable part.

I'm going to try the other handwheel and then I need to get to some real life chores. Can't complain tho. I've also pieced a Linus quilt and made a shirt for me this weekend, so I've had plenty of "me" time.

Take care. Have a great Sunday. Lane

I forgot to say how I fixed the machine, other than elbow grease. I went back to ebay and bought the part i needed. Now, the best deal on the part I needed was to buy it as part of a lot. Okay, so the lot was...everything. Somebody took one of these machines and they unscrewed every screw and stripped the whole outside of the machine, including the handwheel (but not including that grommet thing...grrrr). Anyway, every screw, every part, all of it and in good physical condition, but as filthy as the machine I had. If I'd had the shell and the drive shaft and motor, I could have built a machine from what they sent. Anything I've needed, I've pulled out of that, including thread pins and thread guides.

Just finished with the handwheel and the original was warped, probably by whatever did the other damage. The replacement is true and I've solved everything except the grommet. Pesky grommet.


And, the last thing I forgot is that she came from Arkansas and we're going to Arkansas in August and I've made arrangements with the seller that I'll pick up the cabinet while we're there. The original sears and roebuck cabinet. It's gonna be coool.



Daddy, Daughter, Doctor Day

Yesterday, Sydney and I had the day together. I worked as many hours as I could, but stopped for Sydney appointments.

First, we had her last baby tooth pulled. It was not budging, but the tooth under it was fully formed. I offered her half of what the dentist was going to charge if she'd let me take a pair of pliers to it, but she was not interested. Anyway, she went to the back all by herself. Didn't want me to come. Very independent. Made me a bit nostalgic for the days when she wanted me to go to scary places with her.

Next, we had the orthodontist. This is not a pleasant experience for us. The orthodontist... Our orthodontist has had a string of bad luck and she has become nearly impossible to get in to see and truthfully, we just want the experience to be over. I mean, no hard feelings, but I had no idea this would drag on this long. But, yesterday I asked some very pointed questions about the permanent retainer. I thought we needed to have the retainer removed before we went to see a new orthodontist, but I didn't really want to tell the old one that we were changing providers. I know. I'm a wimp. But, that string of bad luck has not been her fault. First, she had a baby and that baby was in the hospital several times, then she got pregnant again and her husband passed away. Whew! I feel so sorry for her. But, how many last minute reschedules did we have and they insisted on calling the house to reschedule, so we didn't know until I'd taken off work and showed up at their office? I don't want to add to her burden that we're looking for a new practice. I hate hard conversations. But, we found out that the retainer should stay in until we move to step 2 of the braces, so we'll just leave it there and let the new provider take it out.

Then, we had a nice lunch at Sydney's favorite cafe. Hey, lunch out is what makes it a good Daddy Daughter day, right?

Then, we took the dog to the vet. Poor Bella. She's kind of a freak. She had a hard time before she came to us that we don't understand, but it left her...I'd say scarred, but a better word is probably "changed". She's way overprotective and over excitable. And, she thinks she's the one in charge in all situations and is willing to bark and snap to show it. Wellllllll, she nipped at the vet tech and he made a note on her chart and went to get a muzzle. I understand. I'd do the same if I were him. We have no idea whether she would have gone further and actually bitten one of us or not. But, we were both embarassed at Bella's behavior.

Anyway, muzzled, her behavior was much improved and we proceeded to clip her nails...a nearly impossible task.

But, I gotta get a muzzle. With that, I should be able to start clipping her nails at home. Do they sell muzzles for 13 year old girls? If not, I've devised a great one. Anybody wanna invest some capital in a high risk venture?

Then, I was back at home, finishing the work day. Last night was their night to make dinner, so I put away the Singer 237 and pulled out my white featherweight and got all set up to sew.

I hate that featherweight. And, I think it knows. It was a bad purchase. I paid a fair price for it...if it had been in perfect shape. But, it wasn't. It had been dropped. So, I sank more money into it, to repair that. And, now, it just doesn't work very well. It needs a professional, but with all I've got sunk into it, I'm loath to spend more to get it fine tuned. I struggled with it some and oiled it good and it just wouldn't work out, so I put it back in its box, back in the closet and pulled out my black featherweight. And, I proceeded to do some piecing and work on my shirt.

And, I was very happy.

Unfortunately, I have a very expensive machine that I think of as a disaster in the closet. But, as many as I buy, one disaster is okay. And, sometimes it's the lesson you get for the money more than the item you get for the money.

Okay, so I'm off to present my findings on a new big project at work. I am da' man! (picture Tarzan and his jungle yell here)



In the boat

I like to think that I live my life only regretting the things I did; rarely regretting the things I didn't do. I've shared a few of the things I didn't do and regret. Today, I'll share another.

I didn't take the time to enjoy my Dad's company.

Somehow, I'm betting that I'm not the only person that feels that way. I know for a lot of us, especially those of a certain age, Fathers were distant figures to be respected and feared (WAIT TIL YOUR FATHER GETS HOME AND I TELL HIM ABOUT...!). But, Fathers have a different side, too. One that I was lucky enough to get a look at.

My Dad had a career and hobbies and chores around the house. He worked his week, but he wasn't someone that was married to a job. He took time off to optimize it with the family (2 consecutive weeks at Christmas holidays and a week or two during summer). He didn't work excessive or crazy hours and rarely traveled for work. He was a hunter and a fisherman. And, while I don't remember him killing many things during his hunting trips, I have many fond memories of him cleaning and frying fish.

My Dad was a quiet man. I was not a quiet child. So, you can imagine how frustrating it was for both of us when he would take me to enjoy his hobbies. I clomped through the woods and scared away anything that might be there. And, I couldn't sit still in the boat and my rocking and talking scared away all the fish. Daddy could sit for hours without making a sound. Just looking; his chin jutting out and a serious look on his face. And pointing out anything that was interesting to me.

I was miserable. I couldn't sit still without falling asleep. I had to go to the bathroom, and on the boat, that meant hanging whichever side had to go, over the edge of the boat, without falling in. It didn't matter whether it was frosty cold or steaming hot, Daddy could sit still and enjoy the beauty of nature, enjoy the reflection of an island in the still lake, enjoy clouds rolling in on the horizon, enjoy walking through woods that were so deeply carpeted with leaves, we had to walk carefully to keep from falling in any holes. When we were moving or doing something, that's when I enjoyed being with my Dad.

But, I wish I had spent more time learning to just sit quietly and watch the day develop around me, like my Dad did. Maybe that's a skill for adults and not for kids. I think he and I would have enjoyed one another much more if I'd learned it. Not knocking the good memories, just wishing there were more of them.

But, I digress. This is a story about one day, one boat, a bunch of friends, and a whole lot of fish.

This was long ago. My Mom, Sister, Dad and I were in the aluminum john boat, sitting at the bottom of the spillway on the lake. It must have been spring because water was rushing over the spillway. Just beyond, there was a stand of submerged trees. And, one of the people Daddy fished with found a honey hole of perch, or bream (or as we called them, brim). I can remember that there was an older couple from the church that had been at the campsite with us and a boat full of their kids and grandkids who were also camping, another family that camped with us regularly and hunted and fished with my Dad, and a mortician that we went to church with that just happened to be at the spillway that day. Daddy didn't fish that day. Nobody in our boat would touch the worms and thread them on the hooks. That was Daddy's job and he usually did it while he fished. But, this day, he couldn't get his hook in the water because as fast as he baited our hook and we dropped it in the water, we had a fish. We caught fish after fish after fish in rapid succession. I don't know how many we caught. All I remember is the excitement. All of us trying to keep our lines from getting tangled. All of us catching fish as fast as we could drop a hook in the water. Laughing, joking, telling fish stories and comparing who'd caught the biggest one. It was so fast, Daddy didn't have time to open the ice chest and drop them in. He was just dropping them in the bottom of the boat, baiting the hook and moving to the next fish.

We fished until we had so many fish that there was danger we couldn't clean them all.

And, then we all went to the campsite, cleaned fish all afternoon, and ate all the fried bream we could for supper.

That was a happy family day. Not the only one, but one of the ones I remember most fondly. The family, all together; no one arguing, all of us working together to catch all the fish we could. And, my Dad baiting our hooks. And, me getting so excited I yanked the pole and poked him with one.

Okay, I accept that this memory might not be exactly how it happened. But, if it isn't, please don't correct me because I don't want to know that it was any different than just the way it is in my mind. A perfect Walton's kind of moment.

Most of all, I want my Dad to know that not all my memories are of me squirming and wishing I was doing something else...anything except sitting and waiting.

The Bible says that on the rock that was Peter, God built his church. On the rock that is Bud, God built a family. And, his family has built their own families, taking with them the memories of what God built through my Dad.

Happy Father's Day.



Sydney gets a new shirt

Okay, so that title belays the importance of this event. Sydney gets a new shirt...with buttons. A shirt that is not a T shirt. YEAH!!!!!!

Okay, I know, soon enough I'm going to want her to dress in sackcloth and ashes so boys won't look at her, but for now, I'm going to enjoy a pleasant change in style from her normal t-shirt and jeans or the less appealing tank top and basketball shorts.

After much begging, Sydney was taken to the fabric store and I wouldn't leave until she picked a shirt pattern and a piece of fabric. This is what she picked. She did so good. She even picked some cute transparent buttons for it. And, the pattern will make a great swimsuit cover-up if I can talk her into that, too.

So, while this is a basic shirt pattern, making shirts for girls is much different from making shirts for boys. First, there are bust darts. Never made one of those before. The shirt doesn't fit funny in the front, so I must have done okay. But, now that I've done it once, I'll be able to do better next time by trying to fit it on her instead of just making the darts indicated in the pattern.

I made this shirt on my newest working machine, a Singer Fashion Mate 237. This machine came from Goodwill and cost $35 and needed a small repair. I suspect it was sold at auction and returned because it wouldn't hold a needle. I bought it and fixed that problem and now I have a great little machine. She's heavy and she's quiet. She was very sluggish when I started and I've oiled and lubed her, but she still makes that annoying electric hum/sluggish start if the needle bar isn't at the fully up position when I start from a dead stop. But, once she gets going, she really goes. Good speed control and heavy duty. She is a zig-zag machine. Her feed dogs drop so she'd be good for free motion quilting. She doesn't have needle up and she won't make a blind hem stitch, but that's all the fault I can find with her. If I can find the spot that's causing that sluggish start and get some oil on it, even that should go away.

Because she's a zig-zag machine, there are instructions for making buttonholes in the manual. They were okay and I'm sure that if I'd spent enough time pfutzing with it, I could have gotten good at buttonholes. But, I didn't have that kind of time. So, I pulled out my trusty buttonhole attachment for a short shank machine and used it. I can always count on it to make a perfect buttonhole with no practice, just a couple minutes of setup.

I did use the zig-zag stitch to sew the buttons on. It was my first time to sew buttons on a machine other than my Pfaff, which has an automatic stitch for that. My efforts were overkill; too many stitches in each button, making the buttons hard to button. I'll cut the buttons off and do them again. It only took about 15 minutes the first time, so the effort will definitely be worth it.

If I were recommending machines, I would definitely recommend this machine. It's heavy...really heavy. But, if you can find one at a good price with a good motor, repairs are easy and parts are plentiful and cheap.

(Fade out sewing machine commercial, return to Sydney's shirt post in progress)

I'm hoping to make us each a shirt, so I was interested in time saving tips. I decided to make my seams on the serger and then sew them down with a straight topstitch so they'd look flatfelled from the outside without all the extra work.



This would have worked out better if I'd taken the time to press the seams before I sewed them down. Hey, live and learn.

There are also darts in the back to make the shirt look fitted. The pattern had these two tiny little darts that maybe took 1.5" out of a very full tunic style shirt. Ha! There's way more back to this shirt than there is front. So, I took out those dinky little darts and am going to try again. Bigger this time. She's very broad shouldered, narrowing at the waist and widening at the hips. Correct back darts should make this shirt do the same thing. Good thing I read all those sewing books about fitting clothes, huh?

So, why did this shirt take all day on Sunday, even with time saving steps? Because I had to learn to use the time saving steps. First, I was lubricating and oiling and learning to use the new machine, including some repair of the bobbin winding assembly. And, I had to set the tension on the serger again for 4 threads...that's a couple of hours for the inexperienced me where I change to 4 different colors of thread and then play with the tension until I get it right. And, the pattern had me assemble the shirt different than I'm used to and that took some getting used to. The sleeves were inserted after the rest of the shirt was finished and setting those sleeves into closed shoulders was...experiential.

Hopefully, the next shirt, a Hawaiian shirt for me will go quicker.


Well, that's the end of the post on Sydney's shirt. She loves it. I love it. Everybody is happy. When we were in JoAnn's on Sunday for some other stuff, she found another pattern and fabric for another shirt. Hmmmm. Be careful what you wish for, right?



Check that off the list

This was a busy weekend. I had a lot I wanted to do and I got to a whole lot of it. But, you're going to have to come back all week to hear about all of it because, well, it was just too much for one blog. And, I like an...ti....ci....PA-tion!

I did finish what I hoped to finish on painting the kitchen. But, for some reason, the camera did not catch the true color. The appliances are almond and so are the cabinets. Not the same exact shade, but closer than these pictures look.

See the new knobs? I love my new knobs. They just fit my fingers and they stand out and make the doors and drawers easier to grab. Hopefully, that will solve the problem of peeling paint that we had around the old knobs.

In this picture, you can see the one lonely door that got left behind. This door got removed to repair some damage done to the wood where the hinges are. During some of the frustrations of this project, when I was not sure that this repainting was going to work out, this door got moved to the dining room and forgotten, so it will need to be included in the next part. I'm doing this in parts because the whole kitchen is more than I can think of to repaint at once.

Next step is this door, finish under the kickplates and the sides of the cabinets on either side of the stove and the fridge...the parts you never see, but have to be done anyway for the job to be complete (and I'm sure both sides of the stove could use a good pull out and clean). Then, I can start the upper cabinets; 5 doors on one side and 8 doors on the other. And, there are two full doors, one to the laundry room and one to the garage. And, then the walls. And, at that point, I can replace the floor. Homeownership is the gift that just keeps on giving.

This is the pantry. This was the easy part, believe it or not.

Okay, so that's a good start on what we did this weekend. I'll tease you tho. Sydney has a new shirt that just needs buttons. A new vintage kenmore sewing machine came in with shipping damage. I started that darn sock over for the 18th time and took my friend Pauline's advice. I'm working on reviews of all my vintage machines, making something on each one and then talking about the good and the bad of each one...and whether I'd like to sell one. And, it's Father's day, so there should be a good Way Back Wednesday. Hmmm...even I'm intrigued and I was there! I know how all these stories end.




For a short week, this has been the longest week!

First a bit of a brag. The girl did fine yesterday. She did not burn the house down. She did everything on her list, except vacuum and that's because I left the machine locked in the media closet. Not her fault. She reminded me to pull it out and I forgot. There was a small hiccup when she started dinner. I thought we'd pulled out ground beef and she was going to make spaghetti last night, but she dropped it in the pan and it turned out to be tenderized round steak. They called me while I was driving home, so I had them salt and pepper it and brown it on both sides and when I got home it was cooking well, so I made a batch of good, rich brown gravy and we ended up with smothered steak and a big pan of rice to go with the salad Sydney had started. It was yummy.

We did rock/paper/scissors for the dishes and she lost...again! So, I just sat on my bum and and watched TV. I think I'll like having her home for the summer. It's like room service.

I whined yesterday about my lack of creativity, but that's really just because I'm bored. I have truly made enough feathers on West of Paris, Texas that I'm worried I'll take flight at any moment. Feathers and feathers and feathers. I'm going to have to buy a new spool of thread. I've gone through 2250 yards of golden/tan thread on this. Granted, some of it has ended up pulled out, but not that much. That's a lot of thread. That's a lot of feathers.

Here's my secret. I'm afraid to stop. I've learned that if I set a quilting project aside, my skill level changes and then when I pick it up again, my work looks different and it stands out. I'm trying to persevere, at least through all the feathers so that doesn't happen. The other stuff I'm going to add can wait a while, but the feathers must go on.

And, this stupid sock. It's a new yarn that I bought hand dyed off ebay a couple of years ago. I have tried everything I know to do, including three different styles of ribbing and a garter stitch around the top and it has rolled at the top every time. Even now, there's a small roll, but before, it was rolling all the way down to the ankle. The more I knitted, the more it rolled up. It was sooooo frustrating. More so because a few days ago, I was all the way down the leg, around the heel and half done with the gusset and because I got the bright idea that I could do better and get rid of that rolling, I took it all out and started over. Seventeen times I started over...twice just yesterday.

I am not starting over again. This is how it's going to be. I've got most of the roll out of it and that's going to have to be good enough. So, look for a really cool pair of green socks on my horizon...or a big ball of green yarn in the trash. One or the other.

If you hear of a man flying over a town near you, it's just me, taking flight, because I have lots of feathers yet to go before that quilt is finished.

This weekend's projects include finishing the kitchen painting that I started in April (yes, I know, but there were many complications). And cut out three shirts and one pair of shorts. I can do it, I can do it, if I put my mind to it.



The first day out of school

As they say, this is the day the rubber hits the road. Sydney is home alone for the whole day for the first time since she's lived with us. We've left her so we could go shopping or go to dinner, but never for the whole day.

We've been very clear about the rules and she's been left a list of things to do and a Spanish reading to summarize in english. The do's and don'ts couldn't be more clear.

But, I gotta tell you. I'm not sure who's more nervous. Her or me.

This morning, she spent a good bit of time impressing me with her independence. She got up without complaint, cooked breakfast while I showered and then we went through the list of things to do and the rules. No cooking, no visitors, no leaving our yard. She has her video games and her laptop (no internet access). She can watch TV in her room (thank goodness she pulled out a good report card at the last minute). She can read, or sleep or spend as much time as she wants in the back yard. She also has to vacuum and water all the flower pots and keep the kitchen clean.

And, she knows that at any time, Rob or I or the next door neighbors can walk in the house. No knocking. Just put in the key and enter. She even thinks we have spot inspections scheduled (okay, so that was a little white lie, but it can come true if it needs to).

But, she wanted me to know, without question, that she's up to the responsibility. Because what the parents giveth, the parents can certainly taketh away. Attitude and willingness are the bar against which she will be measured for free time.

I really wish I had more to talk about than Sydney. But, unfortnately, I haven't done one thing to start any shirts or shorts for the summer and I haven't made any progress binding my MIL's housewarming quilt. I have started the feathers in the last border of West of Paris, Texas, but not much going on there that you haven't seen before. And, I've started the same sock over for about the 15th time...Grrrrrr! I've never had this kind of trouble with a sock before. I'm ready for this non-creative streak to be over.

Anyway, there's not much to show for all my efforts, so no pics. So, you're stuck hearing about the good child...okay, so we all know that's a temporary state, so I have to brag when I can, right? Cuz it was just last week that she had us both pulling our hair out.

Life as a parent is a roller coaster. Today we're on the up side. But, we all know what gravity will do about that.



The S. family

When I was a kid, we were very close to another family I'll call the S's. Our parents were close. We went to the same church. The kids went to the same schools and we were close in age. But, despite how close we all were and how we seemed to be part of a larger church family, we were also soooo different.

We were excessively clean. My Dad's family cleaned for the sake of things being clean and my Mom followed their way. Everything was clean. The floors shone, the surfaces were dusted, windows were regularly washed as were walls, screen porches and the front door. Beds were always made, laundry didn't build up and dishes were done promptly after meals.

The S's were not. There was always laundry everywhere. spread around the floor and the furniture, and the ironing board sat out all the time. The house was dark. They had a bed wetter and the house constantly smelled of urine. Floors were dirty, dishes were stacked all over (even though they had a dishwasher and we didn't). Dust rose from the furniture and rugs. Dirt ruled. And, they always had rabbits and cats in the house. The S's were always clean...but their house was not.

Their theory on dishes was simple. Do the dishes next time you need the table. Until then, they can sit there. So, they'd leave the lunch dishes on the table until suppertime and presumably the supper dishes waited until breakfast the next day. It was not unusual to visit and find a fat, long-haired siamese on the dining table, licking a dinner plate. It was incredibly gross.

It's funny how close our two families were and yet how incredibly different.

I would dearly love for my house to be as clean as my Mom kept house when I was a kid. But, alas, lots has changed since then. We don't find it necessary to mop the kitchen floor and scour the sink every night before bed. And, I can simply wipe away the grime on the stove instead of scrubbing it every day, like my Grandparents did. A window that is too cloudy to see through is "defective" rather than dirty until someone proves different. And, rinse and stack is a good substitute for washing dishes when we're in a hurry.

Not that I keep house like the S family. But, my theory on housecleaning is more like a sign I saw at an Aunt's house: My house is clean enough to be healthy (and dirty enough to be happy).

That sign has always stuck with me. I bet my Aunt never thought anyone would take that piece of funny decoration and turn it into their theory on how to live a good life.

We grow up to be who we are, based on what we see when we are young.

It's been a long haul to get my kid to see that clean for the sake of being clean is important (at least to Rob and I). But, based on the change in her complaints, I know that she's changing how she thinks about living in a clean, safe place.

Oh, and for years, when my Mom would hear that I was planning a party, she'd admonish me to make sure there was no cat hair in the food.