Quilting in cowboy boots

Yes, it can be done. But, it is not for the faint of foot. You have to have strong ankles.

This morning, I had 15 extra minutes between making multiple breakfasts and dog treats and watering plants and school supply lists. I was already dressed and my teeth were brushed and I had my shoes on. What is a quilter to do?

I spent 10 minutes quilting and 5 minutes writing this blog post. Sounds like the right way to spend an extra 15, right?

Boots are not flexible at the top of the ankle. These are my new boots, with a nicely padded heel. But, they're still stiff. Did I let that stop me? Absolutely not.

Is this just one of the things about being a male quilter; our shoes aren't built for it? We need large rotary cutters to fit our hands. My thimbles are made for women's thumbs. Flowery prints can be made to work, but I don't see many male quilters use them. There aren't enough gradations of gray and brown to suit most men.

Oh, well. I guess it's no different than being left handed. Regular scissors hurt my thumbs. Rotary cutting rulers and tape measures are numbered on the wrong side. Sewing machines are backward.

Doesn't stop me.

This is August Linus. Yes, I am quilting straight diagonal lines and yes, it feels like cheating. I'll do some free motion work in the border and practice those leaves I want to quilt into the west of paris quilt. But, straight lines are fast perfectly acceptable. And I need this one to go fast. Tomorrow is September and August is not done and I have other quilting I want to get to. No big projects planned for this weekend, so maybe there will be lots of quilting time on my schedule.

Not to be a defeatist, but I think that next year, I'll shoot for a Linus quilt every other month.

Take care and have a great day. Lane


Meet Ken Moore

That name is so cheesy, I wasn't entirely sure I could use it. But, the longer I've thought of this machine as Ken, the more comfortable I've gotten with it. All my other machines are named for women; Evelyn, Elizabeth, Katherine, Jenny, Eunice, Mary, etc. And, there's a reason for each one. Evelyn's original owner was named Evelyn and she had stuck little stickers all over...on every piece...that had her name. Elizabeth was named after a great manager at the LQS...don't know why, but she was. Katherine is my Mom's middle name and the serger she gave me is named after her. Jenny is the treadle and is named after Rob's grandmother, who sewed on a treadle. Mary is the 15-91 that my Mom and Grandmother bought together, but that lived at my Grandmother's house.

But. this machine was purchased because I liked the masculine lines. So, it's appropriate that it have a masculine name. And, Ken Moore is perfect.

A couple of words about Ken. I am surprised that this machine was marketed to women. There is just nothing frilly about it. No curves or filligree or fancy anything that would have been used as a marketing device in the 50's. It's all flat planes and straight lines and power. Lots and lots of power. Enough power that even an experienced sewist like me is a bit intimidated. He still has a slow start until he warms up. I just haven't found that sweet spot that needs a bit of lubrication. But, I'll get oil to it eventually.

He's a straight line machine, with forward a reverse. He uses Griest feet and I have a whole set.

Even his cabinet is Georgian and kind of masculine. Masculine enough anyway. This is his original cabinet and bears the Kenmore seal in the inside.

This is the kind of machine that collectors collect for. Unusual. And, I don't see a lot of them out there. So, if you get a chance to obtain your own Ken Moore, I'd recommend doing so. He's a heck of a machine.

Okay, that's all for me today. Take care and have a great Tuesday. Lane


Why does every task take so long???

I swear, the Universe is plotting against me; moving clocks forward when I'm not watching. I had so many things I wanted to do this weekend and I got to so few of them. Mostly because working on that Kenmore sewing machine took TEN HOURS. I kid you not. That ended up being so frustrating by the time I got finished that I just wanted to scream. And, by the time I got finished, there was no time to sew on the bloody thing.

First, the special three prong plug I bought was not wired to work the way I wanted it to, so I had to learn that skill...and it took a while and I bet I put that plug together 10 times. But, she's rewired and mounted in her original cabinet again. I was able to salvage her original knee operated speed control. And, I worked out all the little clicks and tings and scrapes and growls that a machine that hasn't been used in years develops. Most difficult? I had put the needle shaft in turned around, so just when I thought I was finished, I broke a needle and by the time I figured that out and got the shaft fitted to send the needle exactly in the center of the needle hole and got her threaded again, it was time to go out to dinner.

And, to top that off, I took a great picture of her in her cabinet this morning and somehow managed not to upload it. Hmphh.

But, I did get plenty of other pics. Most of which won't make sense.

Here's another little project that took too long. I needed to back and pinbaste a Linus quilt.

First, there's calculating the size I'll need for a back. Mr. Flynn to the rescue.

Then, I had to cut the back diagonally and sew it back together.

Then, I had to sew three pieces of batting together by hand. And, three hours after I started, I had it pin basted and ready to quilt. Again, a missing picture. And, what didn't help was I decided to try quilting on my Singer 301, so there was 45 minutes getting it set up and an hour of trying to quilt with it and then 45 minutes of taking it apart and getting my Bernina set back up. I got a small corner actually quilted and August is over and I'm behind on my Linus. Hmphh.

But, I did get lucky at a garage sale. She was selling some small drawer units and a quilter can never have enough drawer units to hold fabric. Never. The only one of us that had any cash was Sydney and she grudgingly handed it over and I counted $10 of quarters into a baggie and headed out. I got lucky. One of the drawer units was busted, and she was up front about it and offered it to me for 75c, but I left it there. The other one, she charged me $4 for, and I was glad to pay it. She had this quilting stuff piled on top and wanted another $5...

And, this large ziplock full of vintage buttons for $1, so she got my whole baggie of quarters and I got more stuff to find a place for. Everybody was happy.

Brief synopsis of the rest of the weekend, just so I can remember it when I'm writing my memoires...

We took Sydney for Thai food. Here's how the evening went; I'm out of my element, the menu's too big, what is this stuff that looks like a stick, I ain't eating no (lemongrass soup, sauteed leaves, mushrooms, brown stuff), what did you just order, this is good, I like this, we can come back here again. 13 year old girls can be quite fickel. She liked it, but that didn't stop her from picking up every new thing and making a face at it like it was a piece of poo before putting it in her mouth, chewing, and relaxing. Poor thing has no adventurous spirit.

We watched Pan's Labyrinth...because it was in spanish. She needs to hear the language spoken. It wasn't the movie I expected it to be. But, it was good and I think Rob even stayed awake through the subtitles.

We stayed inside because it was 112* outside yesterday. I think everybody stayed inside. I heard little traffic, which is unusual. By 9:30 both mornings, all we wanted was to sit in front of an a/c vent. But the governor has declared that he doesn't believe in global warming and therefore, in the great state of texas, we will act like it doesn't exist. Freakin' moron.

I want to give an update on cutting my meds, cuz we're really all in this together, eh? First few days, lots of withdrawal. I have found that I am less likely to hold things in and explode, but more likely to voice my disapproval as things come up. Friday was real hard. But, ya know, I got through it and every day since has been better. Oddly, I've started to see dirt. And, cobwebs. Everywhere. Like Rob said, it's not like we live in a dirty house, but there are things that I just didn't see building up and now I see them. The only thing that's changed is the med. Unfortunately, that means I'm likely to do something about it. And, here we are, back to the title of this blog. Why does every task take so long??? Like three times as long as I want it to. Because, really. How happy am I going to be if I don't get my sewing time? And, chasing down that smell in my fridge is interfering with my sewing time.



Still trying to get to Carnegie Hall

So, now that my quilts are telling ME what I will and won't do, I decided I needed some practice. The braided portions of West of Paris, Texas need some over quilting. I have learned not to just sit down at a quilt and try something without practicing first. So, I made a practice piece from a piece of old sheet and a leftover scrap of batting. I divided it in half so I'd have strips about as wide as the braid is.

The section on the bottom is what I did first. It's far too left, right, left, right. Can't deal with that. It fills the space, but it looks wierd. I decided that I needed to reduce my scale and leaf size. That's the section along the top. it fills the space better and it isn't so regimented...more organic. And, the leafy feel is going to go great with all that feather quilting.

I've already quilted all the braiding in the ditch and I'm just going to lay this vine over that. I looked at the actual quilt this morning and the prints I used in it and I think I'll be happier with a different leaf; something more like a maple shaped leaf, with three points, instead of the heart shaped leaf. The prints in the quilt feature roses and rose leaves and the maple, with deep cuts to divide the three leaf sections, will be more reflective of that without, the bother of actually making three leaves.

The dryer is delivered today. Yeah! I will be glad when that is done. There's just that tiny bit of apprehension that something will go wrong and that will go away after it's delivered. I made it to the bus stop early enough to see kids I recognize from Sydney's school get on the bus. I gave her the number. Now, we'll just have to see if she's smart enough to find the stop and get off the bus.

It's going to be 108* tomorrow. Way too hot to get out. My plan is to stay inside, point a small fan at my legs and quilt all afternoon. Oh, and all the parts are in for me to work on my Kenmore sewing machine. It needs a lot of rewiring and one of the cabinet hinges was broken. About $25 in new parts is just sitting, waiting for me to sit down and bring that old girl back into production. Right now, she's clean, but her wiring is bad and I wouldn't use her for more than just getting her oiled up. And, she just needs a few new parts. I got her original cabinet while we were on vacation and now I can get her in it and I won't have to stack a machine on top of the cabinet to get to sew. I'm hoping she'll be my main piecing machine. I really like the look of all those flat planes.

It is nice to have such a variety of machines to work with. Next step is to paint the cabinet my National machine is in and get it all glued back together so I can start using it on occasion as well. It's a real beauty too, and very quiet. The motor turns the handwheel by touching a grommet on the motor pulley directly to the handwheel. No belt. For some reason, those machines seem so much quieter. We'll see if that remains true.

I'm pretty sure the first volleyball game is next week. I can hardly wait. I'll be a cheering fan again. Hah! Last year I didn't even know the rules. This year, I know several of the players names.

Stay cool and dry. Lane


Arguing with the work and a new car near miss

Before we went on vacation, I looked at West of Paris, Texas and said "ta-da. you're finished." And, it said, "no, I'm not."

So, I added some more quilting and I looked at it and said "ta-da. you're finished." And, it said, "NO. I'm not."

As we left on vacation, I looked at it and said "you are finished" and quickly closed the door before it could argue.

We got back from vacation and I said "you are finished and now I'm going to bind you." And, it snickered and said "no, I'm not."

I sewed the last hand stitch in the binding and said "TADA, YOU ARE FINISHED." and it crossed its arms and stomped its foot and said "NO, I AM NOT!!"

So, what you see in the above photo is West of Paris Texas, already bound, with a template on it and my good marking pencil. Because clearly it is not finished.

Now, this argument usually goes the other way. I say "i can get just a few more yards of thread in this quilt" and the quilt says "I'm finished." So, this time, it was a real surprise to find myself adding quilting to a quilt that I think should be finished. After all, it's a lap robe and I want it to be soft and not overquilted. But, it really does need more. The quilting should be even across the whole surface and what I have right now is more heavily quilted in the center. Can't have that. People will point and laugh.

Okay. The car. Yesterday, I go start the car and there's a missfire. I'm getting flashing dash lights and the car is running rough. I pulled over and read the owner's manual: drive in a moderate fashion and have the vehicle serviced immediately...the catalytic converter can overheat and cause the vehicle to combust. Great. My first thought is that it's always better when you can drive a car in to trade it. A towed car is worth little in trade in value, especially if it's still on fire. So, I drive in a moderate fashion the the mechanic, drop the car and walk the two miles home.

Fortunately, I was well stretched from my morning yoga and didn't have any trouble with my feet. They're a bit sore today...less than they were a few weeks back, but more than they have been since I saw the doctor. But, I'm still getting around. Just stretching the backs of my legs whenever I think about it.

Good news on the car, tho. They did a tune up a couple months ago and one of the spark plug wires was faulty. The fixed it under warranty, no charge. I love a good mechanic.

Oh, and funny bus story. I was late for the school bus this morning. The district has Sydney at a far away bus stop. Too far for me to have her walk. But, if she stays on that bus, it will drop her about 7 blocks from home. Yesterday, I did some research and found another bus stop for a different bus that is only 2 blocks from home, so I decided I'd walk over there this morning and get the bus number, but I was late and missed the bus. I suppose I could call the school district and ask them for the bus number. Either they'd tell me they can't give that info...or worse, they'd tell me. I'm just creeped out that they might give me the bus number for an address that isn't mine. They shouldn't. So, for my peace of mind, I'm not going to ask. I'll get there earlier tomorrow morning.

Don't know if she made the volleyball team this year yet. There were 26 girls at the first afternoon of tryouts. But, yesterday, tryouts and practice moved to 6am. 23 girls showed up. The coaches are waiting to see if anybody decides they can't be at the school for practice that early before they think about cutting anybody. Sounds like a good plan to me. Our girl is up and ready every morning. I make her a breakfast that she takes with her and eats between practice and school. School breakfast is donuts one day and cheese toast another and cinnamon toast another. No meat, no protein. So, now I make two breakfasts every weekday because I don't want to eat at 5:30 every morning. I think that starting this weekend, I'm going to be asking for breakfast in bed. That sounds reasonable to me.

Okay, so one last thing. Guys, this is for us. Pigtails and Quilts is hosting a quilt show titled Men Quilt Too!. I'll be adding the button soon as I learn how to do that. Honestly, i got the email about this show and it sounded too good to be true, so I subscribed to her blog and have followed her for a few days and she seems to be legit. (Sorry T., but you had to be vetted.) Anyway, I'm thinking about entering 4 quilts...maybe more. Later, I'll start hounding all you ladies to go vote, but right now, it's about getting men to enter. Oh, I won't try to sway voting in any way...just like a presidential election, I don't care who you vote for, so long as you vote...and I win. (did i say that last part out loud?)

Everybody take care and have a great Thursday. Lane


Chasing the clock

Do you ever feel like you're chasing the clock. Late, unfinished, unprepared?

That's me this week. It is truly the first week of school with all the unexpected scheduling and rushing and trying to make sure all the i's are dotted and all the t's are crossed, but feeling a bit like my i's are crossed and my t's may be see spots.

Somehow, Sydney has been scheduled on the wrong bus and yesterday afternoon, was told by the driver that this was the last stop and she had to get off. Thank goodness, there's an emergency plan for that and she called the neighbor to come get her. She was only about 7 blocks from home, but not at an intersection she knew how to get home from. Poor thing. They said she was so lost.

Today is volleyball tryouts. I wished her luck as she was shoving me away as I tried to lean in for a last hug before she got out of the car. Oh, my she's growing up.

Turn around and she's a young girl walking out of the door.


I'll have more time tomorrow, but today, I'm in school, too. All day training. I cut two toothpicks to prop my eyelids open with. Remember, i don't sit still well.



Tis the week before school starts

And, all through the house,
Not a creature is stirring
Thank God there's no mouse.

I am not a poet and I really do know it.

This has been the most stressful week. Work has been crazy for both of us. Sydney is excited to get back to school and we are frequently talking about what went wrong with last year's school plan and what we're going to try different this year. We pulled out her first Spanish vocabulary list from last year. Ninety words. She started a dictionary for herself in her laptop and studied them...sorta. She had a test last night and did pretty good. Hey...there were congratulations because you gotta start somewhere and there was no need to start in a negative place.

Poor thing. She's decided she's interested in baking cakes. She watches cake TV (who knew there was such a thing) and tells us about 8 foot tall cakes and cakes that look like a colliseum. So, this week, it was carrot cake; Rob's fave. She has to get up early to bake so it's done before it gets too hot outside. If it wasn't for this baking, we wouldn't turn on the oven between July 4th and Labor day. She started before I left and I told her to wait to frost it til I got home and I'd teach her to frost a cake. But, she couldn't wait. When I got home, she said there was something wrong with the frosting and showed me her cake. There was indeed something wrong. So, we started through it. Was the cake cool, did you soften the cheese and butter in the micro, tell me the recipe...
One stick butter, one block cream cheese, three and three-quarters cup of sugar, 1 teaspoon...
What kind of sugar?
White sugar.
Show me the sugar.

Wrong sugar. That frosting was so sweet that the first night we ate it, none of us could get to sleep for having the sugar shakes. And, it was crunchy. We ate the cake, but each of us scraped off most of the frosting before we did. Lesson learned and we all had a good laugh about it.

And, our washer died on Monday. We haven't decided where to hold services. She's been with us for 17 years. She was here before Rob or Sydney. She's been a workhorse, only complaining when Sydney tried to pack her whole wardrobe in, to save time (lesson learned). Rob and I have spent much of the week studying washers and dryers and grieving the loss of a good and faithful friend.

Rob is a studyer. I am not. Decisions make us insane. Arguments have ensued. We nearly had to call a lawyer to pick a color to paint the living room. On the other hand, we went in for 12" square, peel and stick tile, just like the kitchen, to tile the laundry room and, on the spot, bought enough tile to retile the kitchen...a project we still haven't completed.

This time, I decided to try studying with him. Hey, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em. I know more about washing machines and dryers than I ever wanted to know. I can only hope that once the new unit is hooked up and in the laundry room, I will be able to un-know it. Anyway, I got lucky and our independent studying resulted in both of us drawing the same conclusion, so we're off to begin our final shopping this morning.

Oh, if you're a washing machine salesperson in Austin, take this hint if you see us. The perfect salesman will introduce himself, thus locking in his commission, and then go stand over there and only come over here again when we motion to you. We probably know more about the machine we're looking at than you want to know and you won't be able to "un-know" it like we will, so just leave us alone and when we motion to you, bring your sales book and pray it's in stock, because that means you've just earned your easiest commission all day!

Okay, so I must have a really mild case of Plantar Fasciitis based on some of the comments I got. Turns out my sister has it, too...who knew? Hers is worse than mine. Most of my pain has stopped. But, it had been getting better since I started yoga again. And, I'm not walking around barefoot anymore and I got more inserts for my shoes. We'll see how it goes. My thoughts are with all of you that are still in pain. That really makes it hard to get around.

Take care. Have a great Saturday. If Rob and I are still speaking, we're having dinner with my boss and his wife tonight. We're going to introduce Rob to Thai food.


p.s. We have conquered the washing machine beast. We had it narrowed down to electronic or manual control, maytag or whirlpool, in stock or delivered next week. We ended up with manual, Maytag, in stock washer with dryer delivered next Friday afternoon. All is well in the world of the cleanly clothed. Nary a cross word was said. He's installing. I'm cleaning in the sewing room. Hey,we can shop together, but that doesn't mean we can work on a project in a limited amount of space together.



Pond Mountain Farrier

Have you ever seen a man shoe a horse? If so, then this post will probably be pretty boring. But, if you've never seen it, then this is a pretty fascinating few minutes.

The loud grinding sound is a fan running in the background to keep the guys cool, but Rob tries to catch as much of the conversation as possible. Get the review of the rodeo in Huntsville.

These guys specialize in corrective shoes for horses. Steve had a horse that was in corrective shoes and out of the riding rotation.

Okay, have a great Thursday. For some reason, work is annoyingly busy all of a sudden. First nobody wants anything, then everybody wants something different, all at the same time. So, I'm maximizing my day by posting early.



Hanging in there

Sometimes, the hardest thing a person can do is just to hang on. Something bad happens, or tragedy approaches, or things get tough, or life gets really busy, and it has to be enough just to hang on.

In my life, I have become someone that can hang on. But, there was a time when that was not the case. There was a time when I thought I had to be in so much control over everything that when anything skewed my world, I could not hang on. My response was to EXPLODE! And, it's funny, because I wasn't in control of "everything" any more than the man in the moon is. I wasn't in control any more than anybody else; not any more than I am in control of circumstances today. Yet, I'd crash and burn if I didn't think I was in control.

Many years of therapy and some really good medications and I am learning to roll with the circumstances instead of shaking my fist at them and getting angry. I put "learning" in the present tense because I don't know that I'll ever get to the point where I never get upset about life's little surprises, or where the burden of my depression doesn't creep in once in a while. But I do so much better now than I ever have before that the difference, to me, is dark of night and oh, happy day.

There were a couple of catalysts. One was Rob, who does not handle "angry me" very well. Oh, he's fine with just regular "stub my toe and cuss a bit" anger, but he's a bit more uncomfortable with a black mood that lasts for days and is just me, pissed at everything, everyone; animal, mineral or plant. For Rob, I began a medication (SSRI) that helped. I had never been willing to do that for anyone else. I did not believe in drugs, legal or otherwise, as the solution to my problems. It speaks volumes about how important this relationship is to me that I changed my mind.

The other catalyst was having a child in the house. You can't raise a kid around a person that yells everything one week and spends the next trying to make up for it. And, that got me back in therapy. And, if you ever wonder about how important it is to me to have a kid in my life, then all you need to see is how much I've spent on therapy since she came to live with us so I can be a better parent. I love her more than my money.

A bit of background would probably be helpful here so you don't walk away thinking I have Tourrette's or something. I lack perfection. Everybody lacks perfection, but for me, it was crippling. Any little thing I did that was not perfect would anger me, at myself. And, because getting angry was also an imperfection, it would escalate...two things to be angry at myself about, only by the second thing, I wasn't angry anymore. I was depressed. Sitting in the dark, on the sofa, wrapped in a blanket, with the TV turned down depressed. Not able to clean or feed myself depressed.

In therapy, I've been able to put some words to what happens, although a whole lot of it is still just feelings that don't have words to describe them. I come from people that I was raised to believe were perfect. One set of my Grandparent's were perfect. One set was held up as the icon of "what not to be"...imperfect. We were sheltered from the mistakes of that set of Grandparents. My parents made mistakes, but we weren't raised to see them as mistakes. And, most of the mistakes and any repercussions of those mistakes all happened behind closed doors. So, all I saw; all that was modeled for me, was to be perfect. It was a case of my parents admitting to imperfection, but my perception of their actions spoke louder lessons than those words. I really thought they were perfect and that I should be, too. I just didn't hear the part of the lesson where everyone is imperfect and just muddles through their imperfection. I was an adult, long in the tooth, before I realized that it was okay to really mess up once in a while and the world would not come crashing down around me. There was no need to hide myself away from everyone, just because I wasn't perfect.

And, then I got the help I needed.

So, why is this important? Why do I care enough to share this very private information? Because I am cutting back on my meds and I am very proud of myself. I feel good. I feel strong and I feel confident. I feel ready to see if I can do it with half of the medical help I've been getting.

It's hard. It's frustrating. And, yesterday, I just kept telling myself that what I was feeling was about withdrawal, not about real stress. Anxiety and anger were just what I was feeling, not who I was for the day. It passed, eventually. And that helped build even more confidence that I can do it. And, if it doesn't work? Well, I have the doctor's approval to cut back, but we didn't rewrite the prescription yet, so I can go back to taking a whole pill every day, anytime I want to.

I was the same way when I quit smoking, I had to have an "out". Some people quit by throwing away their cigs. I quit by having a full pack that I could pull a smoke out of anytime I wanted one. I needed to know they were there, if I needed them. And, having that crutch took some of the stress out of it for me. It wasn't that I couldn't have them. It was that I chose not to have one. And, the same is applying for reducing my meds, too. They're there. If I want them. (years later, we found that old open pack of smokes, buried in the garage. Rob brought them to me and we threw them out. their presence was no longer required. another proud moment.)

So far, other than feeling really stressed yesterday, the only side effect I've had is difficulty focusing on "thinking" tasks. I can crochet like an obsessed madman. But, I can't think about what I want to do to finish that last quilt I was working on. And, I'm having trouble thinking what to do at work. But, hopefully, that will pass in a few days.

And, again, I hear someone asking, why does he think I care enough about him being nutty as a fruitcake to bother me about it? Well, I'm probably not sharing with anybody that thinks that. Those people probably didn't even get down to this paragraph. But, for some reason, people seem to connect with what I can put in words. And, it seems that every time I put this much out there, somebody sends me an email that just says thanks for making me feel "normal". So, I keep putting it out there for that "somebody". Because


And, invariably, I also get the comment from the person that thinks I need advice or can do better, even though they just read that I'm feeling pretty good about myself and my work. Those folks don't understand and won't ever understand what it takes to really open myself up and share something private. That's fine, too. I'll spend about 42 seconds thinking "maybe I shouldn't put so much of myself out there on the internet." And, in the 43rd second, I think "Screw 'em. That's one less person I'll invite to join my bee in Heaven."

Long story short, if you need help, it's out there. Just go find it. Ask for it. Ask a doctor. Ask a friend. Ask a preacher. Ask a co-worker. Ask a lover. Or, you can even ask somebody you don't know very well because they're the last to judge. But, don't forget to ask. Maybe it's someone to talk to. Maybe it's medication. Maybe a little bit of both. And maybe just for a little while. Whatever it is, get it. You'll be glad you did. Even talking to a friend about yourself can make you feel important, so celebrate first steps, no matter how small you think they are.

And, that's it for me on this Way Back Wednesday. Today, I've been thinking about how much better I am than I was Way Back When-sday. Join me, won't you?



Lieing like a rug

Okay, so first, I did not quilt this weekend. I wanted to quilt this weekend. I even planned and scheduled to quilt this weekend. But, I did not actually do any quilting. In fact, the closest I got was putting my sewing machine cover on my piecing machine and threading my quilting machine. But, not a stitch was sewn. Instead, I played in the water. And, I played with rug yarn. Lots and lots of rug yarn.

First, remember this little rug? I picked it up for nothing in an antique shop on vacation. Did not know the colors were so vivid. You would have had to see the water to know what I washed out of this rug. First, I did not know that the center was gray. I thought it was beige. But, it's not.

And, luckily, the animals are no longer interested in smelling and rolling on it.

Next, remember this rug?

Well, it grew up to be this rug. And, while the dye pot was out with the golden yellow dye in it, I also dyed my apron. These are going to look great when I get the kitchen finished. If I get the kitchen finished before they're both worn out.

I also wound up some leftover white yarn and threw it in the dye pot, too. The two lighter skeins are leftover cotton that I'm going to make dishcloths out of and the darker skein with the water bottle hanging in it is a skein of wool for a scarf for Rob. Except now all this wool yarn is making him itch, so we'll have to see how that goes. This particular skein is so soft. It can't be what's bothering him...I hope. I'm hoping it's the dust in the rest of the yarn and that it will all resolve itself after a good washing.

And, this one is the big rug project. It's a shame that I learned to make rugs and don't really plan to make any more rugs. This is my big "one" that I've been building up to. It's wool weight rug yarn and it is beautiful, even if it's not perfect. I still have a few more rounds to go.

I bought the yarn off ebay. Someone bought it and then she couldn't crochet rugs and she was selling a huge supply of these good yarns for a really cheap price. She'd divided it into lots and this was the "gold" lot, even though it's as much green as gold. The yarn is heavy and it is hard to crochet with, but it's just so fast. I've taken out as much as I've put in, just learning to use it.

Sydney freaked out the other day. I was half through and we started pulling it all out so I could start again. She just doesn't get that I don't plan to make another one, so I want this one to be as good as I can do. And, she doesn't understand that all the work we pulled out amounted to about 4 hours of sitting around, watching TV, so it wasn't really a very big time investment.

This work is dustier than I would have expected (based on the sellers description) and the rug is a pain to heave around because it's very heavy. Right now, the size is about 2ft by 2.5ft and there is still a considerable amount of yarn left to go.

I bought the yarn as two different weights of yarn, thinking I'd use one weight in one project and the little bit of lighter weight yarn in another project. In all actuality, there are about 4 weights, some of which are similar enough to mix and some of which are not. I ended up pulling out my spindle and spinning some of those lighter weight yarns into a single yarn. And, that turned out to be too big, so this morning, I untwisted all of that and tonight, I'll try to twist it again with less strands in the twist.

I'm pushing to finish this as quick as I can because I feel myself losing interest. Obsessively, I haven't been able to stop working on this for several days. Compulsively, I can't stop until I finish and the last couple of setbacks to that finish have left me feeling stressed about something that's supposed to be relaxing and fun. But, that's how I do roll.

Take care and have a great Tuesday.



Travel Projects

If you've read my blog for a bit, then you know that I don't sit still well. If I am still, I am asleep (makes training at work a real pain). So, when we were contemplating an 11 hour drive each way for vacation, I knew that if I was going to be present on those days, I was going to need projects.

A friend had shared her Mom's crochet thread stash with me while she was cleaning out their house, so I decided to try a crochet doily as one of my projects. But, I also know that I'm not likely to do much "doily" work because in modern day decorating, really, how many doilies does one need. And, they looked like they'd get tedious after a while. I wanted something on the masculine side, so I picked filet crochet for my portable crochet project.

I picked a practice project and a real project. For the practice project, I picked a pink thread because, when was I ever going to use a pink thread in anything, so it was perfect for practice.

Little did I know (actually nothing did I know about crochet thread) my project was bigger than my ball of thread. So, I only "practiced" half. But, that was enough...believe me, that was enough.

After I'd practiced, I pulled out my "real" project. It's this Greek Key doily. I picked a huge ball of thread for this one and with what I've completed so far, I haven't even made a dent in it. What you see below is what I've completed in a week. Needless to say, it goes kind of sllllooooowwwwwww. That's not very exciting for me, although I do get excited when I put it down for a few days and then realize how much I've completed. I'm in my second repeat of the key pattern now, so I don't even need the paper pattern anymore. I'm just repeating what is already there.

But, my favorite travel project is still knitting socks. I have the pattern just about memorized and only need the paper reference for the heel and toe. I rarely have to look at what I'm doing as my fingers know how to find the stitch and they tell me if I drop one. I change the pattern up a little bit every time I make a pair, just to give my brain a bit of variety. This is a pair of ankle socks to go with a new pair of brown leather sneakers. I was informed by my 13 year old fashionista that I am not allowed to wear brown sneakers, white socks and shorts again. EVER.

Speaking of feet, this morning was my dr's appt and I have a diagnosis on my foot trouble. I have Plantar Fasciitis. The Plantar muscle stretches down the calf, across the heel and the sole of the foot, out to the toes. As we get older, that muscle tends to tighten. Because I exercised without properly stretching it, I injured myself and when I stopped walking, it did get better. The condition is made worse by standing on a hard surface, so when I stand around barefoot, I'm just making it worse. All this helps explain why I had almost no foot pain on vacation. I took the time to stretch before we went walking around and I wore shoes the whole time we were there. And, I was rewarded with no foot pain.

Hopefully, this all means with proper stretching and a bit of Aleve, I should be back on my feet in no time. And, she suggested a heel support for any of my shoes that don't have padded soles and not to buy any more shoes without proper padding. If it's not better in 2 months, come back and we'll do some xrays.

I am happy. This is very good news. And, it was so lucky that I remembered to trim my toenails this morning. I had completely forgotten I was going to be showing her my feet. We also discussed the upcoming 50th birthday and what joyous fun we'd be having together taking the trip down the new medical procedures. Her response? You're just another butt in a crowd. Okay, I like straightforward and matter of fact. It's all business and if I just keep thinking of it like that, maybe I'll get over dropping trou in front of someone that I run into often in line at the office cafeteria. But, I did warn her that I'd probably blush for a while after.

Everybody take care. I'll be quilting this weekend because it is just too darn hot to be outside. We so need a break.

Time to start gathering school supplies. And, time to start practicing our Spanish again.



The Pond Mountain Quilt

This is the quilt I started while we were on Pond Mountain for vacation last week, so what better name than the Pond Mountain quilt. I looked at it and it told me this morning that it was finished. So, no more border thoughts. We're calling this one Done.

This photo looks kind of flat, but in real life, the squares just jump out at me and remind me of the ripples that were formed on the pond when a bug would land on top of the water...ripple here, ripple there, each one small, but where two were close together, they overlapped. And, the occassional breaking of the water by a fish that was lunching on one of those bugs. the narrow border is a batik that looks like tree branches, so that's appropriate as the ponds were circled by trees. The colors are the colors of the trees; greens and golds and the occassional dark shrub in the undergrowth. All in a theme and all perfect for this little memory themed quilt.

Course, none of this was planned to be this way. It just turned that the choices I made before vacation were so appropriate to remember a quilt that was pieced on vacation.

The pattern is called Sam's Quilt from Sugarloaf Designs. I bought the pattern at least two years ago because I saw the quilt in my LQS, but they had done it like the pattern photo and used a dark as the background. I was intimidated and assumed it was difficult...and, I guess at the time I got it, it would have been because even with my current level of experience, it was tough to make all those lines match up when they crossed under another line. The whole quilt is pieced from 2" squares and 2" bricks, so it goes together pretty fast (with the correct marking and more than a little bit of seam ripping).

The fabrics are from the first traveler's "shop hop" that I planned for myself. It was in Cleveland and I went to all the quilt stores on my list and bought at least a half yard of fabric in each one. These are the fabrics that came out of that and are a mixture of batiks and more traditional prints like a dark red calico and a gold tone on tone and even some larger red flowers on a green background. When I collected them, I thought they went perfect together. But, when Rob saw what I was planning, he warned me about all the different "themes" in the prints, but I kept plowing on because, to me, the fabrics had been collected together as a coordinated set and I wanted to use them together. And, if it weren't for all the off white background, I don't think I would have been as happy about mixing all these themes in a non-scrappy quilt. But, it all worked out and I'm very happy to add it to the pile of tops that need quilting.

Speaking of, I guess I'll be moving to that machine this weekend and trying to knock a few things out. I really need to. And, I need to buy batting. The quilt shop owner in Arkansas last week also warned me about the rising cost of cotton, including the price of warm and natural batting, which is my fave for machine quilting. 20 months ago, I bought 10 yards with my Christmas bonus and I have enough left to piece together and make one more quilt. But, there are way more than that hanging and waiting.

(So, get the move on, boy! What ya' waiting for?)

This was my leader/ender for the Pond Mountain Quilt. It's all squares, but I overlapped it to take as little room as possible for the photo. All that's left is to sew the rows together and I'll have a top for my August Linus project. Yeah for me. Two quilts at once.

Now, two quilts to quilt. A busy boy is a happy boy.

Everyone take care and have a great Wednesday. I'm doing a rain dance to try to turn that 10% chance of showers into an actual thunderstorm by nightfall.

Hi-ya-yi-yah; Hi-ya-hi...where are my moccasins?

54 days over 100*. Better buy batting before the electric bill comes in.



Parent clocked by young woman

I couldn't tell if she was joking, until she started to cry. "You're always so mean to me and then you give this little laugh, like it's supposed to be alright. But, it's mean."

Okay, so that's bringing you in on the middle of this story.

I'm one of those people that trades insults and barbs with my closest friends. I guess I picked this up from things on TV, where it is cute to cut one another down, in a friendly way. I've been that way with all my best friends. My last best friend and I could cut one another in almost every sentence and never doubted that it was lovingly picking on one another. Each of us gave as good as we took. And, we were very good friends.

As I got comfortable with Sydney, I started to poke at her more and more, just like she said, with a little laugh or smile that means I'm kidding and I love you. See? If I didn't love you, I'd never say these things to your face and you know they're not true.

And, sydney had gotten into it, beginning to toss out barbs, just like I did and I pretended to take offense, just like I thought she did. Nothing serious. Never leading to an actual argument, because we were always kidding, right?

But, trading barbs with a gay man of my same age who knows all my secrets and vulnerabilities is apparently not the same as trading barbs with a vulnerable 13 year old young woman, who can't decide if she is happy about being big boned, doesn't know if dimples are okay, doesn't know if tan is good or "too hispanic", and simultaneously loves and loathes the natural body in her hair.

You also need to know that our comeback to one another for a while has been "you're so mean to me" so when she said it last night, I just laughed and didn't take her seriously. It took her a few minutes to actually get my serious attention, but when she got it, she had all of it.

And, my apology.

And, my heart swelled up with pride. She stood up for herself. In the right way. Like a young woman. Not shouting, but not backing down, either.

Oh, sure. This morning, she acted all of eight and a half again, but last night, I think I got to see a little glimpse of the woman she's going to become. And, I liked it.

I think vacation affected her. I think being around the horses and nice people and acting a little more grown up changed her...or maybe not so much changed as allowed her to develop a bit more...gave her confidence to say what she's feeling. And, I hope my appropriately apologetic response will encourage her to do it again.

Jeez, we're going to be in big trouble, aren't we?


P.S. I know this is supposed to be a quilting blog, but I'm having the biggest quilter's block about that quilt I was piecing in Arkansas. I made a wrong turn on the borders and can't figure out what to do. l


Post vacation recovery

In my family, we all have different meanings for post vacation recovery. For Rob and Sydney, it was rest. And, on Saturday, they rested.

Sydney even bargained that she would do dishes until next year's vacation, if I would just do dishes on Saturday. That was one heck of a bargain, but I wish I'd filled out a contract and had her sign it because I fear that she will try to reneg on our verbal agreement very soon.

She's gone back to summer camp today for a week of swimming and a day at the Alamo. Good for her. I'm back at work. Not so good for me.

Anyway, I was still hopped up on vacation energy, so on Saturday, I decided to move everything around in the sewing room to accomodate that new sewing machine table I brought home from AR.

All my sewing tables used to be on the window wall, in a clump like this so that I have a very large area that I can spread a quilt out on, if I need it while sewing. This is especially handy for quilting a full size quilt. The cutting table is a drop leaf dining table that expands and expands and expands if needed. And, to get to it, all I have to do is fold up the extension arm on either of the tables and I have side access to my cutting mat. It will give me incentive not to pile things on the extension arms...I hope.

The sofa, that used to be on the wall, is now in front of the windows. This gives me a great place to sit for hand work and to watch TV. And, it puts the light from the window in a better place.

At about 3 yesterday afternoon, the trip hit me and I spent the rest of the day, laying on the sofa, drifting in and out of a blissful nap. Ahhhhh.

I know these pictures look crowded, but I actually ended up with a lot more floor space in the room and it is much more comfortable and functional. Not everything has found a new home yet, but there were three cans of garbage that went out and all my future projects got moved from the middle of the room, where I was forever tripping over them, into the closet, where I don't have to see them...where they won't haunt me and wail every time something else gets in line before they do. Where they won't remind me of all my good, but unfulfilled intentions.

Ahh, rationalization is a wonderful way to fool my mind into thinking that buying more fabric and crafting supplies is an okay thing. Just hide away all the things that would provoke guilt.

Take care and have a great Monday. I have over 200 emails from last week. Yeah. can you feel the excitemen...

oh, squirrel!



Steve and Sydney take us horseback riding on Pond Mountain

This is the first video Rob has uploaded. I hope it posts okay and that you enjoy it. This is the first day that we rode.

Take care and have a great Sunday. Lane


All good things must come to an end.

For our last day, we decided to do touristy things. Sydney and Rob went for a last horseback ride.

Oh, my. There was weeping. Poor Bella, the dog resorted to Rob and I for attention. It was so wonderful. Our daughter growing up. It's so hard to get her to show that she cares about anything. And, this time, she couldn't stop herself. She's growing up and changing and moving beyond herself.

While they were out, it rained. And, the day cooled off and it never got as high as 90*. It was so nice to get a really good day to enjoy before it was time to come home.

After that, we went to Terpentine Creek big cat rescue. The tickets are high, but if you're ever there, you'll want to go. The ticket is really a donation that's used to support the place. If you take the guided tour, you'll hear stories of big cats and a cayote and a bear that were rescued and now live there. Stories of breeding farms shut down for inbreeding and unsafe conditions.

There are over a hundred cats there and we saw, maybe 25 and I think some people were disappointed. But, the alternative would be prodding them out and parading them around and that seems to go against the meaning of both the words rescue and sanctuary.

This bear was in his tub with a donut float. He played with that for 15 minutes that we watched and when we got there, he was playing and he was still playing when we walked off. It was the cutest thing. He was doing his best to sink that donut under the water and take a bite out of it. But, whatever it was made of was very hard and it was thick and he couldn't sink his teeth into it.

As we were leaving, this lion carolled for us. We hoped he'd get all the other lions up to carol, but it was the first cool morning all week and they were sacked out in comfort and most didn't even raise their heads...so he laid back down and rolled over and went back to sleep.

After the big cats, we went to the cabin to have lunch in, so we could go out for supper. We had a meal already cooked and I think they realized we weren't wasting it. And, we weren't bringing it home.

Our next stop was Digital Quilts. You'll see below that I went kinda hog wild. His prices were so low. Fabric was jammed in a tiny space. A lot of fabric. And, most of it was 4.95 or 6.95 a yard. Compared to similar quality and age at my LQS, I'd spend 9.99. I asked if he was a quilter and he pulled down the ribbons he and his wife have won. The building was L shaped and the small side was fabric and the long side was his long arm machine. They quilt for the local quilters and for themselves. I don't think a whole lot of people go to the shop and he was lonely, so it took longer to cut my fabric than it did to pick it out. I spent just over $50. I got 2 yards of 108" wide backing in a beautiful hand dye print, 3 half yards of batik, 6 fat quarters (for $1 each). 4 one yard cuts of neutrals, and a $1 grab bag of neutrals. Whoo-hoo! It was the fabric gold mine. I asked how he could keep his prices low and he said, we own the building and we own the land and we buy in large quantities for the discounts. But, he also talked about the rising price of cotton. I told him so many other things had been so expensive that he was benefiting from money I hadn't already spent.

This is me and the grill I conquered and the t-shirt I've got to prove it.

Our only bad experience of the whole trip was dinner Thursday night. We got there and a very busy waitress took our order without really paying attention, no smile, no friendliness. We ordered an appetizer, a fried shrimp plate and two catfish plates. 20 minutes later, a different waitress brings our appetizers and just drops them on the table; me looking up expectantly for some type of recognition and her not even looking at my face. Two minutes later, dinner came. The appetizers and Rob's shrimp were from packaged frozen, just like I could get from the grocery. I don't even remember the fries. The hushpuppies had so much baking soda in them, they made my mouth shrivel up. The fish was overcooked and there was nothing left but cornmeal and gristle. And, then the owner tallied up our check and the total was over $50. I sent Rob and Sydney to the truck and the owner and I had a bit of a talk about quality for the price and why there wasn't going to be a tip. What I don't understand is why no one else was complaining. Everyone I saw got the same treatment. Is this what they've come to expect? And, exactly how can it work out that all the African American patrons were on the left of the restaraunt and all the white patrons were on the right????? Could that have happened by coincidence? It's not like all the African Americans were from the same group. But, that's not my complaint to raise. (But if anybody else had said anything, we'd have gladly joined a march)

I'm going to give the owner the benefit of the doubt and assume that she gets so few complaints that she was flabbergasted and that's why she just stared at me blankly and didn't really acknowledge that I was complaining. The alternative would be that she just didn't care and she didn't look like she didn't care. More like a deer in headlights.

This was the last sunset on Pond Mountain. Sydney didn't go with us this time. She was walking along the pasture fence, calling the horses over and stroking each one on the nose. Earlier in the day, she and Steve took our leftover carrots down to the horses and she got to feed them treats.

We left before dawn, but as the sun came up, we got views like this from the road. And, then we crossed into Oklahoma and it got flat as a pancake.

Other than the dog, this is what I got as vacation pressies for me. My fabric pics on the left and a very thin ball of crochet thread that I will never use, but it came from the senior center thrift shop in Berryville and I was pretty desperate to spend at least a couple dollars. I also got that aqua colored sheet there. Seen that color recently? Remember that aqua and white quilt I coveted in a post a couple of days ago? It's a very similar shade to that. White is easy to match. Maybe a new quilt in my future????? Okay, next is a large cone of very olive rug yarn (I'd have sworn it was 3# after carrying it around, but it was really only 1.5), three placemats from a thrift store and four and a half yards of the most wonderful vintage linen, never washed, stiff from the flax in it and shiny. I've always thought a nice linen whole cloth quilt would be wonderful. Wish I could talk Sydney into a beautiful white linen straight line skirt. No way now, but hey, if I don't use it, maybe in the future??? All in all? I spent my money at thrift stores and stores with lower prices. They are there in E.S. but you have to look for them.

And, the rug? I don't know why I'm so obsessed with crocheted rugs all of a sudden. I think we all know it will eventually pass. I guess it's something else I can do with the family. Sometimes it's hard to have interesting quilt projects that are easily portable. Anyway, I rescued this for $3 and for that, it can live just about anywhere. After a good wash. A really good wash. Every animal in the house is obsessed with it.

Our cats have forgiven us, most of our luggage is unpacked. The suitcases are sitting next to the washer. I'm doing some slow cleaning. Thank goodness we left the house clean. Sydney complained about having to clean house last weekend, but I think even she appreciates not having to do regular house cleaning this weekend. We're all taking it easy. Doesn't look like anything died while we were gone, not even a tomatoe plant, so all that planning must have been worth it.

No more typing out on a porch. The bugs would carry me off if I tried in my back yard. So, this final vacation blog is brought to you by my comfortable homey surroundings where I can celebrate my bed, a full sized fridge, a gas stove, and two bathrooms. And, my favorite place, the project packed sewing room of a big old quiltfool.


P.S. I'm pretty darn sure we'll be planning more trips to Eureka Springs and Pond Mountain.


Time and tide

Yesterday was certainly the most unusual of vacation days.

Sydney has fallen in love with a horse. And, we are not taking it home. I am absolutely certain there is going to be a tearful goodbye. But, we are not taking it home.

Yesterday’s breakfast had to be early so Syglet could get to the stable and curry and saddle all the horses. Rob went with her and talked to Steve to see if they could ride early, which would get us on the ride to Joplin early. That was no problem and a man and his son came unscheduled to see if they could ride and were early enough to make a party out of it.

This Rose Mallow blooms right outside the cabin, on the west side. I had to get pics before it starts to fade at 9am from the heat.

As the morning progressed, we discovered that Sydney didn’t have enough cash for a last ride, so I held her for ransom. Good behavior on our little side trip, for cash. I’m not quite sure when I decided it was okay to resort to that, but I see it all the time on TV, so it must be okay. And, she stepped up to it smashingly. In fact, we haven’t really had even a sarcastic comeback from her since Tuesday lunch.

After her ride, it was off to Joplin, MO and Galena, KS to see W., Rob’s best friend from high school. We started out behind this very sad truck and I was afraid we would be behind it for a long time as we wound through the mountains. But, we weren't behind it long enough to turn me off of chicken for supper last night.

I woke yesterday with terrible allergies and took something and I tried my best to stay awake all the way, but I dozed through the last very, very flat miles. (Just so you know, the color does not drain out of you when you cross the KS border like the Wizard of Oz would have you believe). We did not see the terrible tornado damage. We were a couple blocks away and chose not to drive down there. But, I can share that there are at least two recovery centers there, with long tents and everything displayed around for people to take from and there were people still using them, so feel good about your donations.

Lunch was…disappointing. I didn’t know why these guys were having so much trouble picking a restaurant. I looked up family restaurants on the internet and right away found something. But, it was kind of pricey, according to W.

Once in a while, the universe kicks me in the rubber parts and gives me a real heads up about what’s going on outside my little world. W. insisted on picking up the check. Since we’d driven two hours to come see him, I was okay with that. But, over lunch, we heard how much he’s making and turns out he'd have to work a whole day to pay for lunch for 7 people; W., his girlfriend and her boys and us. Plus, he had to take a day off work to do it. That was a most touching gift from a man who has little, and made me glad that we came up for a visit (although he’ll be receiving a card in the mail in a few days…after I think of the perfect, no-way-to-take-offense thing to say.)

W. wanted us to see his place. He’s been there about 6 years and has paid it off and was clearly proud. It was about a 10 minute drive. We had the afternoon to wile away. It was looking good. But, then we got there. Now, W. had warned us that he’s a single guy and he only cleans house every other year. And, this was not his year. I’m gonna bet that it hadn’t been his year in quite a few years.

Plus, there was squalor. Sorry. That is just the most concise and accurate word. The squalor that comes from being underpaid for the only job available in a town that’s slowly drying up. I have heard that this is what is happening in the American heartland. But, this was the first time I’d seen it in the face of a friend.

While W. is a friend of Rob’s, he used to drive a big truck and when he could schedule "down time" near us, he’d call us and we’d meet for a meal. He even was able to spend Cmas with us one year. So, he’s a friend of mine, too.

We couldn’t stay at his house long. And, I’ll tell you that our reasons were different. For Rob, he was weighed down by the moment...“there but for the grace of God, go I”. For me, it was the cigarette smoke, the dust, the molds, and the fact that he was drinking peppermint schnapps in the middle of the day with an announced plan to sip on it all afternoon.

Now, Sydney, she was happy as a pig because W’s girlfriend T. was going to take her to a beauty shop to get feathers put in her hair and they were going to have a girl’s afternoon. T. has two sons and I don’t think she gets to spend much time with little. But, that was all planned while we were outside with W. and got squashed in the middle when Rob announced that it was time to go.

Rob got to take his picture on Route 66. One day, we're going to take the whole tour on the Route. One day.

Before we left Galena, we stopped at “Four Women on a Corner” to take a picture with Tow Mater from the Cars movies. We were just standing there and this lady; Motor Mouth Mabel came out…you can see that she came out just as Rob clicked the shutter.

She just came out to encourage me to climb in Mater for a picture, but it was too hot to climb in a rusty boom truck. We decided to go in her store, on the corner, for sodas and we heard the 20 minute schpiel on the Cars movies and the inspiration for the characters. All about it. Stuff I never knew. I plan to watch the movies when we get home, because now I know stuff about them and maybe they’ll be more interesting.

The drive home was quiet. You can imagine that Rob was in his thoughts. When we got home and Sydney went out to walk the dog, he was heartbroken at what his friend’s life had turned out to be. All I could think to ask was whether W. seemed happy. My observation was that he was happy as a pig in sunshine; proud of his little place; proud of his little family. Didn’t look like he needed or wanted much more.

To make up for yesterday’s lunch, I decided that we should eat supper out instead of cooking in the cabin. We went to the Rowdy Beaver Restaurant, where I swear, if it ain’t fried, it’s layered with gravy to make it bad for you. But, it was soooooo good.

Okay, two families at adjacent tables. Each table has two parents and a daughter. While our daughter could biologically be one of ours, the child at the other table cannot biologically be from either of her parents. Seeing the similarities? Both girls have feathers in their hair, probably from the same store and hand crafter. Both families are having dinner together. Both families are laughing and talking about their days. Okay, so maybe normal isn't the word, but we are so just like everybody else.

This morning, Rob (not me!) climbed this 100 foot forest service observation tower...

And got pictures like this. Oh, the majesty!

Sydney is off riding on this. Rob went along so he could get more video.

Today’s plan…I can hear God laughing already…is for Sydney to ride while we go to the quilt shop up the road. (see, I wrote this sentence before Rob decided to ride. plans have already changed) After that, we’re going to the big cat rescue and after that, we’re going to see the cavern recommended by the Steve, the stable man.

Life is good.

Yesterday, it was 112* here. A mini blind in a western facing window melted from the heat. And, yet we continue to insist on having a vacation and having a good time. I just had a chat with the innkeeper and we were commiserating about the heat. It's funny to be in her house and be treated like a neighbor...chat about the mini blind and the heat and how we're prepared for this kind of weather and how we're shutting off windows to keep the place cool. She said no one has complained that their A/C units are not keeping the cabins cool.

This morning at 5am, it was hot, but now a strong wind has come up, bringing cool air. Don’t know how long it will last, but I’ll enjoy it while it’s going on. So, today’s post is brought to you by a strong mountain wind, an overcast sky, and the last morning of this vacation that I’ll get to sit on this porch and type to the sounds of the katydids and the treefrogs. I miss it already. And, now that we've had a brief shower, it will either be so humid we'll all start to melt or it will cool off and be a more pleasant day.

Now, I can go back to the cabin and pack or quilt. Pack or quilt. Pack or...aw, who'm I foolin'?

Signing off…Lane


Mommy, see da’ horsey?

Yesterday went much smoother. Plans, shmans. After our sunrise on the porch, it was time to get ready for horseback riding. Steve, the stable man said Sydney could come to the stable early to help curry and saddle the horses. I made sure breakfast happened early and she headed out. Rob and I took our time getting there. I don’t know about him, but I was a bit apprehensive about mounting a horse and going for a ride…something I haven’t done in at least 30 years.

When Rob got there, the blacksmith (he gave the official name of his profession to Rob, but I can’t remember) was there, shoeing horses. Steve had Sydney currying and brushing and saddling horses and they had become great chums. Rob has some really great footage of the two guys, father and son, that were shoeing. We’ll upload videos when we have a more constant INTERNET CONNECTION. Sorry, don’t mean to get loud when I say that…it just comes out that way…like the word WATER to a thirsty man. First, Steve asked Sydney if she wanted to climb a set of steps and mount from there. He chided her a bit and sweet talked her into mounting from the ground. But, then he ‘bout talked himself out of a tip by getting her to challenge us to do the same. Quite impolitely, if I might add. Taunting us. The brat. And, laughing hysterically all the while. Rob’s horse came out next. Damn. He mounted from the ground. (Quite nicely, too.) What in the hell am I gonna do if I fall on my fat arse right in the middle of this paddock? Out comes my horse. The tallest one of the lot. ARGHHHHH. But a beautiful red/brown color. The kind of color you want to quilt with. Okay, not gonna lie to ya’. I done myself proud on the back a’ that gelding horse. Up in the saddle in one pull. Steve even commented “Looks like you done that before.” It was a very proud moment.

The trail ride was wonderful. The scenery was great, natural beauty around and over the mountaintop. We saw deer that had no fear of us, living in this protected wildlife refuge. We had to wait for them to cross in front of us, so they wouldn’t spook the horses. It is dry here and the hot day on Monday left the mountain dusty. At one point, we were at the highest point in Carroll County, Arkansas. Me. On horseback. Can ya’ believe it?

Okay, I have no idea what that face is about, but I promise, we didn't make her cry. That's Steve next to her...all 109 pounds of him. Talks to those ponies like they were little boys.

The whole time we were out, Steve talked. Steve is a very interesting man and if conversation lapses, all you have to do is ask him a question and he’ll tell you what he knows about it in his slow country drawl. Rob asked how he came to live and work on Pond Mountain and he told us stories about his neighbor that is 78 and was born on the mountain. He told us that Judy bought the mountaintop, home and land, from the people the owned the “Tony Home Perm” company. Remember them from a long time ago? Steve has a horticulture degree and came here to landscape and ended up working on the mountain for Judy. When the stable man retired, Judy was looking for another. Steve said “I can do that” and that’s what he does now. Why? "Cuz the work is easy and you just spend your days horsin’ around". Steve’s been riding since he was three. He started on a bucking bronco. He rode that horse and rode that horse…until the quarter ran out. We loved it. Course, Sydney had to tell him we were enjoying his stories, so for a minute, he was embarassed 'cause he wasn't telling stories. He was just talkin'. But, he warmed right back up in just a minute.

Sydney had to wear a helmet, much to her dismay, because she is under 18. At one point along the trail, her helmet came off and fell just under my horses nose. I saw it happen. I felt him jump under me, and while he was way too good a horse to be any danger, I still found myself doing all the right things to keep myself balanced, no matter what he did and to get a good hold on the reins. Another proud moment that no one saw. And, all from memory.

After that, and showers, we decided to give downtown another try. No pressure. If we find a place to park, great. If not, we’ll shop on the outskirts. And, of course, just when you take the pressure off, there’s an empty parking lot, two blocks from where we want to be, on a side street. Okay, so parking was easier because Tues-Thurs are the slow days in town, so lots of shops were closed, but we still managed to get into at least one shop of every kind we wanted. One yarn shop. One quilt shop.

This is the parking lot we parked in. It was a flat spot, chiseled out of the moutainside with stone and cement walls all around it.

The Quilt Shop we got into had gotten a bad review on the internet. Someone complained that the “hand quilting” was 3 stitches to the inch and the quilts were expensive. Now, I will argue with that. It is not true. The Quilt Shop had two different kind of quilts and you had to walk past the cheap ones that were indeed quilted 3 to the inch to get to the hand quilted Amish quilts in the back. And, suddenly the price went from $88 to $1500. And, the quilts were wonderful. I got caught taking a picture and asked to stop. "The Amish are private people and we respect their privacy by asking you not to photograph their original works of art." But, really, I don’t think she wanted me to be able to use the pictures for profit or to reproduce the quilts.

Out of respect, I deleted that pic, but not the others I took. I'm such a rebel. She came down to talk to us and somehow caught me on the spot about what we were doing in there and I just flat out told her I'm a quilter and I was pointing out to Rob why some of these quilts were less expensive and some were very expensive and that it was the size of the quilting stitch, etc. She talked to us a bit and explained that these quilts are one or two year projects and that they are each quilted by a single quilter so there won't be a difference in the quilting across the quilt.

The stitches were tiny. On these two quilts, probably 15 stitches to the inch and beautiful work, but I didn't see any of the fancy quilting I'm used to from the Amish. Most of it was straight line work. And, the quilt tops were very "un-Amish". But, beautiful work, nonetheless, even if I did get in trouble for taking pictures of it.

And, we got into a yarn shop where I bought enough olive green cotton yarn to make new carpet for the whole house. Okay, not really, but at least 3 pounds on a spool (believe me, I had to lug it around all day). Funny, I was bidding on very similar yarn a few days ago on ebay and my max bid was the marked price on the spool. And, I didn’t have to pay shipping. Can’t beat that. I like crocheting rugs for some reason and if I can do it on the cheap, I can continue to enjoy that.

We had a great lunch at the Local Flavor Café, which was on the opposite side of downtown from the truck. Huge burgers and sandwiches. Delicious fries. And, cold iced tea. Then, we walked back through town and shopped our way to the truck. We bought all the souvenir-trinket-fake-crap that tourists are supposed to buy. We are so normal.

Shopping here is a bit frustrating. First, there are lots of handcrafters and artisans. Well, we’re the kind of people that if we want handcrafted items, we learn to make them ourselves. And, we understand why someone would charge $43 for a skein of hand dyed sockyarn. It’s just that much effort. The other plentiful stores sell antiques, but the prices are so dang high that we aren’t picking much up.

Here's the banner that runs across one of the major three streets in downtown, announcing diversity weekend. Wow.

I did find this absolutely stunningly beautiful quilt. I coveted this quilt in the most sinful way. Tiny hand stitching. The beautiful green and white combination. I was running one hand over the quilt and wiping the drool off my chin with the other. But, the price was prohibitive. Prohibitive. And, these people don’t bargain. 10% off is the max. We did find one antique store where the prices were good and there were things I didn’t pick up there because it was our first stop. But, we might have to go back.

This is the valley from Inspiration Point.

This is $600 worth of sewing machines that I could buy any day on ebay for less than $200 including shipping. Remember. No bargaining. And, who can blame them. This weekend there will be ten thousand gay people here, all with disposable cash they want to spend. Bargain next week.

This is my little sewing area, before we put towels over the windows to block the heat. We were much cooler last evening. Course, over night, it gets real cool outside and we wake up freezing.

After shopping, we all went down for a swim and I had some sewing time and we grilled steaks and baked potatoes and had a salad for dinner and watched a movie and it was time for bed.

It was 110* yesterday on Pond Mountain. We covered the windows with towels and my plastic tablecloth/design wall. Same things we’d have done at home if it was 110* Good reasons not to cook inside the cabin. I got more sewing time and am about ready to lay my quilt out on the wall and take a first picture. It’s one of those “make 16 of these and make 16 of these and 16 of these and then sew them all together", so it doesn’t look like much until the very end.

Take care from the edge of the forest at 1788 feet above sea level. Where the deer and the ponies do range. Where a home perm mogul built a house that later became an inn that now shelters the family from Texas.

'Scuse me, Tea Party, but just how much more normal do you think it's gonna get?

Today, we drive to Joplin to have lunch with Rob’s best friend from high school. More driving. Yippee. Where’s my knitting? If I had a crochet hook, I'd start a new rug.