Austin skyline

Isn't the Austin skyline lovely? I just love living here. Not too big, not too small. It can stop growing as far as I'm concerned. Or at least slow down.

Because we have hours and hours of gridlock traffic because the suburb towns and developers were allowed to grow way too fast outside town, leaving inside town not developed enough to handle the commute traffic.

Fortunately, we were not in that traffic. We were flying by, going into the city in 5 oclock traffic. We didn't hit traffic until just before we exited the freeway.

And, that's all the pictures I have from last night's volleyball game. Once we got there, I wasn't really in the mood to take pictures.


Tomorrow there are two quilt shows. One is local, at the Dell Diamond in Round Rock Texas. We go to this show every year. It's a good show and we enjoy it a lot. Smallish, but a very talented group of quilters. This year, we're taking a friend of Rob's; an older lady that used to work at his office is going with us to see the quilts and meet Rob's family. Should be fun. She's not a quilter, but I do have several of her sewing/knitting things. That knitting box on legs that I just refinished came from her, as are some cookbooks and an antique crazy quilt that I haven't done anything with (because I'm intimidated as heck by it).

The second show is the Men Quilt, Too show, here on the internet. I'm going to have a quilt in the show and am going to post links from here to get you guys to the show so you can vote. Please take the time to vote. I'd love to win, but even if I don't, I want the decision to be based on lots of voters and not just people from one blog that has a thousand followers (yes, there is one). I'll post a short bio tomorrow and then every day of the show, I want to showcase a quilt from my collection; either one I made or one I own. So, that's going to fill the posts for the next couple of weeks.

Okay, so that's it for me today. Two quilt shows to look forward to. We're trying to fix up a play date for Sydney and a friend. We are so desperate for her to have friends. We will drive you to the movies. We will pay for both of you to get in. We will fill you up with candy and junk. Just, please make a friend that you respect enough to keep them. Please.


Okay, so that's it for me. Stay tuned. Remember, you vote in Men Quilt, Too through email, so you can vote, your husband can vote, your kids can vote, your dear Aunt Sally can vote.



Old girl, new dress

Well, my National Sewing Machine restoration project is concluded. Well, almost concluded. I have one more piece of veneer to glue down that I noticed this morning had come loose. Thank goodness it didn't crack. Gluing the whole sheet back down is much easier than putting in sections.

Here she is in her normal spot. She's convenient, just open her up and I can sew and she still holds part of the weight of my quilts as I'm quilting them. I'm using the cutting mat to protect the top for now.

This is a better look. Poor thing. Her cabinet was all to pieces. I glued it all back together and refinished it. We all had a story about finding the door open. Rob's was funniest. He went past her to empty a trash can one day and turned around to leave and the sewing cabinet door had swung open behind him, trapping him. If he hadn't noticed, he would have knocked it off the hinges. We all got trapped behind that door at some point as the ghost that inhabited it would open it at the most unpredictable moments.

The top of the cabinet was not salvageable. The veneer was cracked and chunks were missing, so I scraped off what was left of the top layer and painted it green. After several coats of paint, I applied three coats of paste wax, so it's slick and shiny. Perfect for resting a quilt on while quilting.

Here is the sewing surface. After the varnish was applied, it got 5 coats of paste wax. It's also slick as glass and will be a pleasure to sew on. Fabric should just glide across that surface.

Isn't she a pretty machine? She was made by the National Sewing Machine Company. I know that they made lots of machines that were sold under the store brand names. And, I thought this was for a local department store, but that was Scarborough's and this is Scarbrough, so I don't know if that was an oopsie or not. If not, then I can't find any history on that brand name, which is wierd since the internet is the world wide web and somewhere in the world, there must be another.

Anyway, sews like a charm. Cabinet all fixed up. Happy part of the sewing room. Serves a purpose, even when I'm not sewing on it.

Since she's a National sewing machine, I've been toying with the name Natalie. Natalie Scarbrough.

Jeez, it wasn't enough I gave my machines first names, now I'm giving them last names, too. I need a life.

Take care and have a great Thursday. Lane


Making ribbon

I got a few questions about how I made this ribbon the other day and in my usual style, instead of just answering what kind of machine it was, I decided to tell all about how I made it.

This is some I started this morning with that silky purple lining and some red embroidery thread. I decided this would be easier to handle if I made two strips at a time. Always seems that 4 inches of fabric is easier to handle than 2 for something exact like this. Anyway, i pressed a half inch under on both sides and I pinned it to strips of paper. I used the strips of paper as a stabilizer. you could use an actual stabilizer, but whatever you use, stabilizing the fabric is very important. VERY important. A single layer of regular fabric can't hold up to the tension of stitches that don't go in a straight line and the fabric will roll up on itself inside the stitches.

My "fancy" machine is a Pfaff 7550. You guys know that I collect vintage straight stitch machines. But, everybody needs a good machine to do things that the engineers of those old machines only dreamed about. I thought that since Sydney was sewing on modern, stretchy heavy fabrics, she needed a modern machine that was designed to handle that.

In letting her use this machine, I found a sewing match. Sydney and this Pfaff. They are made for one another. She was able to get great control over the machine and the fabric and she was a happier sewist.

I used my cone thread holder. I just love this thing. It's so much bettter than putting the cone in this machine horizontally. It's the taper at the top of the thread cone that doesn't work well with this machine. If the thread were stacked on the cone with a flat top, then the horizontal feed would work great on this machine. But, that taper tends to lead to thread knots if I turn it horizontally.

Then, I picked my fancy stitch on the machine. There are a couple of hundred to choose from. Flowers, vines, leaves, animals, snails, bunnies, circles, stars, hearts, ducks...

I turn the top tension down low. All the way to 1. I'm not using the same expensive embroidery thread in the bobbin and I don't want any of that other thread to show on the top. I could solve that by using purple thread in the bobbin to match the ribbon fabric...but I didn't think of that in time.

I line the folded edge of the fabric up with the foot and go.

And, before I ran out of bobbin thread, I got this far. One great feature of this machine is that I can start the pattern over from the beginning...kind of a reset button. When I run out of bobbin, i pick out the few stitches in the next pattern repeat and then I can start at the beginning of a repeat. There's no interruption. But, just because that's a pain, I was replacing the bobbin at the end of every row of stitching (remember that I was stitching 100" of ribbon at a go). That left me with a bunch of partial bobbins that we used to sew with.

If time had permitted, I would have continued the diamond pattern and then edged it on the other side with another band of greek key. And, I would have repeated those three rows down the other folded edge. Then, I cut it down the center and tear off just the edge of the paper and fold over 1/2" along the unfinished edge. That gives me a finished ribbon that's about 1 1/4" wide. Most of the paper is still in this ribbon. I don't mind that. It gives the ribbon body while I sew it to the garment. if the garment ever gets washed, the paper will dissolve. If not, it will always be there.

So, that was my ribbon making adventure over the weekend. Always learning new things. I'm sure there's a lot of stuff I can't do. But, there's just not much I won't try. Oh, and it helps to be a big ole tightwad. I had 4 hours to kill and judged that to be less expensive than buying 7.5 yards of ribbon. Since I don't know how much really cool ribbon costs, I don't know if I came out ahead.

See how wonderful rationalization can be?

Take care and have a great Wednesday. Lane


What else did I work on?

So, what was I so patiently working on while Sydney was sewing across from me? I was working on this quilt. This is the September Linus quilt and I wanted to show what that pattern I picked last week looked like, quilted into the blocks.

These are a couple of the 12 inch blocks. I decided I didn't want to stretch my abstract flower pattern big enough to fill the blocks, so I put the flower in the center and leaves around it. I got three of the six 12 inch blocks quilted.

And, I got all eight of the 8 inch blocks quilted.

This is it from the back.

The thread is gray. It is not quilting thread and I'm not even sure it's sewing thread. It may be coned crochet thread. But, I got two huge cones with thousands of yards each for $5, so this is what I'm using it for. I think the weight is 20 or 30 weight. It doesn't seem as fine as my 40 weight crochet thread or as heavy as my 10.

On the green fabric, the gray thread looks kind of lavendar. I didn't think to lay the thread on the backing before I started, so that was kind of a surprise. But, it's not bad. Rob even liked it. So, this abstract flower pattern is now part of my stock of quilting patterns. Perfect for blocks.

I'll quilt lines in the sashing. I'm thinking about just doing free motion lines and not worrying about whether they're straight, but I think I'd have to do that pretty thick to make it make sense and this is a Linus, so thick, being the opposite of quick, is not likely.

I got several questions about the ribbon from yesterday's cloak post. I'll post about that tomorrow and talk about the machine and how I set that up, because the secret was truly in the setup.

Take care and have a great Tuesday.



The parenting moment that almost wasn't

Oh, last week started with parental discouragement. Remember that last Monday, I was considering pulling my daughter out of Spanish.

Of course, in a predictable twist on parenting, that very night my child did a 180* turn and started actually participating in school. And, all week long, she kept it up. She studied and she worked and we made the lessons fun as we could, using real life examples and speaking more and more spanish. And, the whole time, she glowed with accomplishment and participation. And, I thanked her for making it easy to work with her. And, she glowed because it was nice to know I wasn't taking it for granted.

A reward was in order.

Simultaneously, I was having my own issues with hate speech and I was deeply drawn into things that don't concern me and I was distracted from what is really important. But, I managed to keep those thoughts in the background when I was working with Sydney. We studied and we laughed and we were parent and child and I handled math and spanish and Rob worked on science and we had a great family week. It could only have been topped by a win on Thursday night that just didn't happen, despite a good game from our girls.

And, this weekend, we began a new reward for her good behavior and hard efforts.

We bought the incentive...ugh, the pattern...last weekend. Just something to look at to remind her of the benefits of having a happy parent.

Okay, so neither Sydney nor I had any idea of how complicated this was going to get. The more we worked on it, the more great ideas I came up with to make it fabulous. The more fabulous ideas I came up with, the longer it took. The longer it took, the more Sydney wanted to rush. The more complex it got, the more it got beyond Sydney's skills. The more it exceeded Sydney's skills, the more of it I took over. The more I took over, the more fabulous the ideas got. And, so the weekend went.

Saturday, Sydney and I sat across from one another at sewing machines; she working on her cloak and me quilting the September Linus quilt. By Sunday, she was sitting next to my chair and I was sitting at the sewing machine, working on the cape and the September Linus quilt languished some more. Now, it's hard to take something over from a child and leave them feeling important. But, I managed to follow my feelings and take time to think about what I wanted to say and I just was up front and honest and admitted that what we are trying to do is hard and she just doesn't have the skills for it yet and I'd rather her get those skills on easier things so she won't get discouraged. And, she went for it. Or, she's laughing up her sleeve at getting me to do the hard work. Who knows.

Anyway, this is what we got done. Still need to hem the sleeves and add the hood. All polyester. The lining is a silky sheet that we found in goodwill for 1.99. The yoke, sleeves and hood are purple velvet that looks more like suede cloth and the bottom is some horribly stretchy woolly looking fabric; both from the mark down wall at JoAnn's, which was on half off sale. All perfectly period matched in appearance, if there was a natural fiber in any of them.

But, it's the ribbon. The Ribbon is my victory dance. The ribbon is strips of the silky lining fabric, the fancy stitches from my machine that I've never used before, a spool of embroidery thread and hours and hours and hours of boring fun, sitting there making sure the machine stayed on the lines. I made 400 inches of it because it goes everywhere. I made ribbon. Sydney made ribbon. Ribbon was made. 4 hours of making ribbon.

Now I want one. It's really cool. It is probably the most impractical garment I will ever make, but it's really, really cool.

Anyway, the participation is so worth rewarding that I don't care how bad my shoulders were aching from heaving this heavy thing around yesterday, trying to put it together. Trying to sew the lining into it. Making sure all the seam allowances are finished.
Learning to use the conjugates of the spanish verb tener? Priceless.

Tener means "to have". To have patience. To have love. To have character. To have indifference. To have laughter.

Tengo abundancia.

Have a great Monday. Lane



Yeppers, I finished the September quilt top in plenty of time to knock it out of the park by the end of the month. Cute top. Then, I looked at it and thought, what in the devil am I going to quilt on this???

All over quilting? Leaves? Flowers? Feathers? No, not all over quilting. This needs something different than that. Something to set off the blocks.

I'll mark it. Okay, this is a Linus quilt. If I take the time to mark it, I'll never get caught up. So, something I can do freehand. But what?

Okay, the only way to make progress is to make progress. I bought a sheet at goodwill to back it with. I cut that in half and took the top down and pin basted it. Feathers, flowers, marking...what to do???

What to do?

What to do.

Okay, so I know that the sashing needs some straight line quilting. I can do that. But, before I actually started, I pulled out all my quilting books and I studied them to find something for the blocks. I looked for anything. I found some leaves that I could trace on and then outline stitch for filler; one leaf per block. I saw this done in a book and it was a nice effect.

I saw freehand feather shapes and all kinds of other stuff.

And, then, this square caught my eye. It's from Freehand Filler Patterns by Sue Patten. Every other time I saw this, I saw it as part of a complex design she had created for a specific block. But, this time, as I went through the book, I didn't see the block. I just saw this section. Kinda looks like an abstract flower, all pointy stamens and soft round petals. I like it.

And, my mind started adapting this pattern to my quilt.

And, just when I got all geared up and ready to start...I mean, I even pulled out and starting winding bobbins...it was time to get up and feed us and take Sydney to her Friday morning girls meeting at the school and then get me ready for work.

So, that poor quilt is still sitting there. Languishing.

Don't tell my boss, but I'll be drawing that shape all day with paper and pencil to practice it. I already have one drawing done. I'm sure there will be more.

Take care and have a great Friday.


BTW, read this in today's news. If you wanna know why DOMA keeps me up at night, this sums it up pretty good. Somehow, me having rights infringes on the rights of others. I stay up trying to figure out how.


On the lighter side

Oh, what a heavy week it's been. So much at the top of my mind. So much thinking. A black hole, ready to suck me in. So, today, I'm going to focus on the good stuff.

First good thing is my new clothespin bag. I needed one. Not that I hang my clothesline very often, but, just keeping everything together was a problem in my sewing room. I needed a package. I looked at several patterns on the internet and they ranged from way too basic to way too cute-sie. What I wanted was plain and functional. So, I sat down with pen and paper one morning and this is what I ended up with. It's very functional, but it could be a bit cute-sier, eh? It's also not quite deep enough. I'd like it to be 3' deeper. But, I might not want that three extra inches bad enough to remake it. If I don't remake, I'm going to add two button holes and two red buttons to keep the front closed when not in use.

And, I wanted to show you guys that have been encouraging me so to use my dishcloths that I am. Here's the first one in use. Rob says he won't touch it for fear of staining it. I warned Sydney that the first time I saw her aim it at something red or dark brown...

But, it is more durable than I thought it would be. Holds up well. It's heavy, but it dries fast. Doesn't stain easily. All in all, I'm happy and am ready to put another one into rotation.

Last good thing is today's visit with the periodontist. I want my tooth back. I really miss it. And, we're supposed to be able to do the next step soon. I'm ready. But, I'm also having a bit of pain on the other side, where he did the second bone graft and I'm ready for him to make that go away.

Tonight is Sydney's game against their toughest opponents. This is the team that actually roughed the girls up in last year's basketball game. Thank goodness volleyball is a no contact sport. I hope it goes well. The game is all the way across town, so there's no avoiding 5 oclock traffic, but Rob and I are going to meet early and have dinner, so I'll only catch the very beginning of it.



Please ask, Do tell.

Today, we celebrate the end of the Don't ask, Don't tell policy in the U.S.; a policy that said, it's okay to be gay, just keep it quiet.

Partial acceptance. Partial harmful compromise. The only really bad thing I think Bill Clinton did. It meant that people could still be fired, just for being who they are. Not for anything they did wrong, but for being who they are.

DADT really never affected me. It really never affected most people...just the few, the proud, that were like me and didn't want to keep it quiet. They got punished. Punished for being who they are and we didn't call it discrimination. We called it law.

Implication being that as long as its law, it's okay to discriminate. And, all you folks that are reading The Help are reading about the Jim Crow laws. How is that any different?

I'll tell you. It's not different.

So, today, I'm going to celebrate that gay people in the armed services, who are willing to risk their lives to protect mine, can serve without regard to their sexual orientation. Just like where I work. Showing that they are as good as me and subject to the same awkward moments in their careers that I've had in mine. Equal.

And, tomorrow, I'll continue to carry the banner for the elimination of DOMA. Cuz, really, do you think that preventing gay people from marrying is a defense of marriage? If so, what would you defend it against? Do you know how few polygamists are gay?

Everybody take care. If you know someone that thinks this means the world is coming to an end, reassure them that it's really not. And, remind them that there's a 1 in 3200 chance a person will be hit by space trash this Friday and a 1 in a million chance that they'll be pinched on the butt by a gay person. BTW, those odds were the same yesterday as they are today.


Very little

Today is one of those days when I don't have much to talk about. I read this morning about the suicide of a boy, about my daughter's age. He killed himself because of bullying. Because he was gay. It took me back to a painful time. A time when I could not see that it was going to get better.

I survived, but Good Lord, how many don't? How many can't handle it. How many see and read what is going on in politics and the news and cannot see a future where they can possibly be happy? I'm nearly 50. At best, my life is half over. And, I have trouble seeing a future where I can be happy in a world that is becoming even more saturated with irrational hate. What must it be like for a teen that is just starting out and doesn't know that happy can exist, even where it's discouraged.

As much as I would like not to be affected by this sad news, I am affected. I think everyone should be.

I almost didn't blog at all today, but what the hell. Why keep these feelings to myself. I am surrounded by understanding people. People who will understand that news like this can make me sad. People who will be sad with me over the loss of a young life. So, I'm sharing with you.

There was a time when I considered taking my own life because I didn't think I could make it as a gay person. I prayed to God that if I was going to be gay, I'd rather be dead.

Some of God's greatest gifts are unanswered prayers.

I took the bullying in middle school and in high school. I fought back with my mouth, but was always too afraid to fight back with my fists. What I wouldn't give to go back and kick Mark Mc's ass for yelling "QUEER" at the top of his lungs every time he saw me in my freshman year of high school; in the hall, in the quad, on the practice field, always this shout behind me at an unexpected moment (unexpected because I actively avoided this jerk). What I wouldn't give to go back as an adult and shake him around for yelling at the young teen that was me. And, all because he flirted back with me. Not because I flirted with him, but because he was ashamed that he flirted back.

I've shared what it was like to choose red shoes and I've shared some of what it was like to be told that I was bad and unacceptable and something to be ashamed of.

I'd love to make an "It gets better" video. But, my video would have to say, "Hey, kid. It gets worse. It gets a whole lot worse. But, then it gets beautiful. Just hold on. Be you. Be proud. Survive."

Maybe I will, because I can just imagine what a difference that would have made for me. To have someone tell me truthfully that you can make it through this and when you do, you'll be glad you did.

Maybe you know somebody that needs to have an adult tell them that. It doesn't have to be a gay kid. Any kid that's having an especially hard time of it. Don't be afraid to pull them aside and whisper it in a quiet moment. It is your business. The next generation is all our business. I didn't know that until I was a parent.

There's another message I wish someone had pulled me aside to tell me.



Last Thursday's volleyball

Finally, we were on time to a game. And, this is the team we came to cheer.

But, where are they???

The bus that was supposed to pick them up went to the school where it was supposed to let them off. And, it waited and it waited. Finally, the driver called in and found out they were at the wrong school and went and picked up the girls and brought them to the game.

No one was sure what to do when they got there, so I started to clap. I had decided to do that before they got there and was just waiting for them to show up at the door. In a second or two, all the parents were clapping. At first, the girls thought it was sarcastic, but it just kept on, cheering and clapping and the girls and the coaches relaxed and started to enjoy it.

When A team played, Sydney was line judge. Line judge is boring work. You only need to be paying attention when you need to be paying attention. But, when you need to be paying attention, it's vital that your head be in the game. We've seen some really embarassing times when a ref was waiting for a line judge to get their head in the game and make the call. And, sometimes a judge isn't paying enough attention to make the call and that's even more embarassing because the judge usually finds for the opponent.

My girl's head was in the game and she called every time, just right. And the ref was filled with compliments to both judges that she was working with that night.

And, when B team played, my girl's head was in the game, too. She played well. She's getting some control and is not lobbing the ball out of bounds like the week before. And, she was the server on both the winning points for the two games they played. Both those serves were right over the net, fast and low, right in the midst of the other team. Right where they weren't expecting it to be.

I had no idea it would be so hard to balance encouraging her about volleyball with trying to fire her up about Spanish. The child spends way more time fighting me about the subject than she would, just knuckling under and doing it. I began the conversation with Rob this morning about pulling her out and putting her in some different class. I just don't know how much of my life I'm willing to invest in something that she is so damned determined not to learn. Because, really, that's what this is all about. She has decided not to learn it and I can assign all the homework I want, but if it doesn't get me past that barrier, I'm just spitting in the wind.

But, she's pulling on Superman's cape and I'm just not sure which of those activities is more futile.

Take care and have a great Monday. I walked into an emergency at work this morning and that is so much fun on a Monday. Surprise!

Oh, and when I was pulling that quilt off the floor this morning, I did find a little clump of black cat hair, so I was double glad I covered the whole thing with an extra sheet. Now, it's rolled onto a cardboard fabric roll, waiting to be photographed.


Down to business

Sorry about not having any time to blog. Even for a busy person I have been especially busy this weekend. When we came back from vacation, I started rearranging in the sewing room and I'm still at it...a month and a half later.

Yesterday, i finished West of Paris Texas and this morning, set it out to dry, all pinned down to make it square and beautiful. I'm just teasing you with this picture because you know I'm not showing it anymore until the online quilt show next month. Just showing how I pinned it to the floor. and, what you see is the tall pins. Between each of them, there are 2 or 3 short pins. I spent 3 hours stretching and pinning this to the floor this morning, all perfectly square. It's on a sheet to keep it off the carpet and the sheet on top is to keep any cat hair from getting on it. So far, none of the animals have been interested, tho. Guess it's too prickly.

And, I painted 5 more kitchen cabinet doors. I think Rob and I are both ready for that to be done. He made a comment. I heard his comment and did not raise him one.

Today has been business. Home business. I hate doing home business. I do just enough "home business" to keep money in the checkbook, the bills paid, and all the utilities on. And then, about twice a year, I devote a whole day to it. Last time was in March when I filed my taxes. It's been about 6 months and the pile of envelopes was teetering. Filing had to be done. Record retention is vital. You know, important things, like proving the dog's had her rabies shot. Or the owner's manual for the fridge. Organizing the statements for my retirement so I can see the balance go down over time instead of all at once. Mail, mail, mail from everybody and their brother that needed to be kept or sorted through and part of it kept or that was disguised as important enough to keep, but not important enough to open and then when opened turned out to be another credit card offer. GO AWAY!

That, and I'm burning all the Merchant-Ivory Productions to DVD. TCM is running them all month to celebrate 50 years of the team of Ismail Merchant, James Ivory and Ruth Prawer-Jabvala and I love them. I hadn't seen the early work from the 60's filmed in India. I don't have time to watch them all, so burning them, and leaving them out so I can watch them over time.

I'm up to the 80's but skipped ahead to watch Maurice on Friday afternoon. Love that movie.

I'll tell about Sydney's game tomorrow. I'll tease you with both teams won.



Invention has two mommies

Okay, absolutely could not resist that title this morning.

It's from Necessity is the Mother of Invention...and I had two necessities that I think might have changed the way I quilt from now on. I've always puddled the quilt around me, mostly in my lap, and pushed it through the machine.

First necessity. Free motion quilting in the borders. This is another glimpse of West of Paris. I wanted to create extra motion in the quilt, so I pointed the two braided borders in opposite directions. That seemed like a pretty good idea because I was just going to outline quilt each brick a quarter inch inside the seam. Did that. Hated it. Pulled it out and just quilted in the ditch. But, I wasn't happy with that, either. It made the quilt look unevenly quilted. So, I decided to free-motion leaves on a vine over the ditch work. All well and good. I get the inner braid quilted and look at the outer braid. It points in the opposite direction, so the quilting needs to go in the opposite direction. But, that means that when I quilt the outer border, 95% of the quilt is going to be in my machine throat

I need to puddle the quilt behind the machine and pull it toward me to make this easy.

This is my quilting station. My piecing station is on the opposite side and there is a table between. This gives me plenty of room for my quilt to sit. Usually, the sewing cabinet that I'm refinishing sits on the quilting side, at my left elbow, and supports the weight of the quilt while I push it through the machine. But, my cabinet is in the garage, receiving it's finishing touches. I could have waited to work on this quilt until it was done, but just you ask a quilter not to work on something. You'll see a flurry of activity. At least with me.

So, I needed to put the weight of the quilt behind the machine and pull it toward me.

I don't remember which quilter that I follow suggested that it was easier to put the quilt behind the machine and pull it toward the quilter. I wish I could because I'd give her full credit. It is much eaiser than trying to find a place to put all that weight while it's waiting to be quilted. Now, you're thinking, doesn't he just end up with all that weight in his lap at the end of a line of quilting? Not really. The corner that you see above will come down into my lap, but before I really have to deal with the weight, it can be swuing back onto the table and it never ends up in my lap. That's going to be much more comfortable as we sweat through the rest of Indian Summer.


On a non-quilty note, about yesterday, thanks for indulging my self pity party. Parenting is hard. I found out last night that Sydney and the Spanish teacher cooked up a scheme to get Sydney out of the class. The teacher saw her sitting there looking oh, so miserable and asked her why she didn't change classes to something she'd enjoy more. Sydney said I wouldn't let her (smart kid) so the teacher called us and suggested it. I guess they thought that might be more successful.

Here's how life imitates parenting. I'm working on a project that I hate. I hate it with a purple and orange passion that burns in me from the tips of my toes to the top of my head. Yesterday my boss came up and asked how it was going and instead of my brave smile, I had a brief moment of honesty with him and as I talked about how unhappy I was, a tear rose to my eye and my voice cracked.

And, just like my response to Sydney about Spanish, his response to me was "this is the life we have now." Damned Indian practicality. But, who can argue with it?

Everybody have a great day. I'm celebrating a new bout of hopefulness. I have a bright, shiny new day. I can spend it however I want to. I don't think that sulking at my desk about my woes is going to be part of it.



The Miracle Worker

I've been practicing this look. That moment of triumph at the end of the long, uphill battle of teaching a child.

It's the look that Anne Bancroft interpreted for us when Patty Duke as Helen Keller, learned what "w-a-t-e-r" is.

Unfortunately, today, teaching my child feels much more like this.

One day, I'm going to see that confused look pass over Sydney's face. And, then there will be that moment of comprehension. And, then she'll actually get it. And, the heavens will open and the sun will shine upon her and angels will sing as a flock of white doves passes overhead, cooing softly. And, then I'll sit down and pull that Anne Bancroft, exhausted, victorious look out of my pocket and I will put it on...and the world will be a happier place.

Last night was not one of our best nights. We got a call from the Spanish teacher. You guys all know how hard I've worked with her on Spanish. We started good. Rob and I talked and got our frustrations off our chests and then we approached the demon. I was calm. Rob was calm. And, then she had to smart off. And, the disappointments and frustrations of 4 months of pushing and prodding and dragging and pulling her to understand Spanish all came rushing out.

Not my best parenting moment, but underneath all the anger, there were little victories. Like I realized how angry I was and after a short burst, I went to the garage to sit for a few minutes. That's a victory for me. Like I brought her around full circle from my shouts to her showing me just how much Spanish she actually knows. Not losing track of the actual topic is a victory for me. Like bringing it all back down to a normal tone by bedtime. That's a victory for me. Like the long email I sent to the teacher in hopes that I can keep Sydney in the class. And not blaming the teacher, even though I think suggesting that Sydney drop the class was a bit inappropriate and excessive for a kid that has a C. That's a victory for me. Like managing not to argue too much with Rob about this, even though arguing with him is easier and more feels better than arguing with Sydney. That's a victory for me.

Like not going to my unhappy place because I shouted at a very frustrating kid. That's a victory for me. Like keeping her with us and continuing to try new things, even knowing that 4 families tried before us and she pulled these same shenanigans and none of them could handle it. That's a freakin' huge victory for Me and Rob, both.

So, I'll keep waiting for my Annie Sullivan moment and I promise, when it comes, I'm going to hire me a photographer to capture the exhausted victory in my face, just like the photographer did for Anne Bancroft. Me. Looking heavenward, toward my reward.

Guess it's not quite time to look under photographers in the yellow pages, tho.


On a happier and more fruitful note, I really appreciate all the comments from yesterday's post. I know I called it boring, but that quilt really isn't. It's just taking forever and I'm ready to work on the next one. I'm not really showing any more pics because I am planning to enter that one in an online show and you'll get the chance to see it and even vote for it (???) then. But, I will share this link to a post where I talked about it before I decided to enter it.

Well, that's it for today. Next, check whether the Spanish teacher wrote back. After that, work, work, work.



Boring, snoring

See the leaves? See the ropes? Those are new things being added to West of Paris, TX. I'm filling in the space. When I get done, the quilt will be quilted at about a 3/4" interval, all over.


When last I posted how much thread that was, I said 2500yds was already in the quilt. What a bozo. I went and bought a second spool and the spools are only 1250 yards. Imagine my disappointment.

So, let's give a new total. One 1250 yard spool and a half of another. So, that's 1900yds and I'm not done yet. There's still filler in the feathers that you can see to the left and right of my needle. See the point on the right that is made between the feathers and the seam? That poofs out. Not much now, but after this is washed and the batting shrinks, that's going to be a big poof. Can't have that. So, I'm going to quilt a background grid that will lay behind the feathers and not interfere with them, but puts some quilting on all those little poofs so they'll lay flat. There's quite a few of them in this quilt and it's going to look silly unless it's blocked after every washing. But, it's a gift and I can't expect the recipient to block it...and I want her to USE it. So, I'll take care of that before I give it away.

This picture is the same picture as above, except I turned my task light a different way. Funny how cameras pick up color based on the light. These look like different quilts.

And, these are my dishcloths. I read a few patterns and decided to try things and see what I liked. The one on the left is all single crochet. Took a long time, but I would love this as a dishcloth. The one in the center is all double crochet. Too many holes, in my opinion. But, it was fast! The one on the right is rows of single alternating with rows of double. That's more like it. Some "tightness" from the single crochet and some "fastness" from the double crochet.

But, have you noticed that I haven't put a hand made dishcloth in a dirty sink of water yet? Years ago, when I was first learning to knit, I made some beautiful face cloths. They are still tied up in a ribbon. Too nice to get them wet. I hope these dishcloths don't turn out that way.

Take care and have a great Monday. Lane


Suddenly, September

There is the September Linus quilt.

Only a few short words. The sewing machine cabinet is back together and getting a good coat of paint on the top. The knitting box is finished and the last glue is drying.

Now, errands. Life just never stops getting in the way of quilting.

Take care and have a great day. Lane


Chicken Salad

It took me 5 days to make chicken salad.

First, it's all about the chicken. Breast only. Not the big fat breasts that are good for supper, but thin, small breasts that cook quick. No bones. I chose 7.

I do not know how I became such an overachiever. Each volleyball parent was required to sign up for one meal. We could sign up for sandwiches, fruit, or drinks. Anybody else's dad would have signed up for drinks. Not me.

Next, that chicken has to be marinated. I put it in a ziploc baggie while still frozen and let it thaw in a marinade of Italian Salad Dressing. Just thawing and soaking up the flavor...I imagine them like chicks, sitting around a cold tub.

Anybody else's dad would have just signed up once. That's all that we were required to sign up. But, I've seen these parents. Some of them can't sign up once and that's no reason for their girls not to get to play or for there not to be supper for the team or for them to be embarassed or put on the spot. Sign up once. Just once. Not me.

Now, normally, I'd plop that chicken on a hot grill and listen to it sizzle and smell good, but our grill is out. No fire. We've got gas, but it's not getting through the assembly. Rob's taking care of that, but I needed to cook chicken on Monday. So, I put it in a hot, non-stick skillet without any oil and just cooked it and cooked it and added more dressing until it was all brown and crusty and caramelized on the outside. Yummy.

This week, I needed to bring sandwiches to the game. I really didn't think that through enough to realize that it meant making 15 sandwiches. I pulled one loaf of bread down in the grocery and thank goodness Rob was there to ask if that was enough. I said I thought so, but we counted and it was way short. Imagine how upset I would have been this morning without bread.

Tuesday, I cut the cold chicken into bite size morsels. So tender and flavorful. Sweating inside a plastic container and the water carrying flavor everywhere. And, I boiled 7 eggs. Who else hates peeling eggs??? Five of them peeled easy-peasy. Two of them...nearly half the egg went out with the shell.

I got a lecture about how the other parents put sandwiches on white bread. Nobody else uses wheat bread and won't I "please, please, please use white?" No. I am not the other parents. We get white bread as a treat, but these girls are playing ball tonight. It's all about protein and slow burning carbs. I am not the other mothers.

Wednesday, I chopped the celery and the grapes.

Thursday, I put it all in the biggest bowl I own with all the sweet pickle relish I had and two hugely heaping spoonfuls of real mayonaise and a healthy dose of black pepper and a pinch of extra salt and I stirred and I stirred and I picked up stuff off the counter and put it back in my too small bowl. And, I stirred.

Sydney and I ate breakfast in the kitchen, which we may never have done before, and we made sandwiches. I spread a hefty scoop of chicken salad on and topped it with another slice of honey-7 grain bread and handed it off and Sydney zipped it in a sandwich bag.

We packed that in a grocery bag and I took it to work, where it sat, cold in the bottom of an office fridge. I left work early because I was supposed to be there at 3:30... "when it's your night to feed the girls, I don't care what comes up. You are responsible and you'd better be at that door with food at 3:30 ON THE DOT."

The coach got there later.

Now, there's just anticipation of the sweet adoration that we all know I will receive from a bunch of 13 year old girls. Right. Could have been spam on white bread with american cheese and mustard and would they have noticed the difff? Prolley not

Next week, I have to bring water for 30 girls.

And, next month, I have to bring fruit for 25.



The quilt of misfit blocks

Remember the Island of Misfit Toys?

I'm sure I'm not the only one with a bag of misfit blocks. I know that Bonnie Hunter has one because I got the idea from her. They're a great resource for donation quilts. Quick and at hand.

These are the blocks from quilts that didn't get made and test blocks and rejects and some blocks I did for a tutorial on color combinations. Just some of this and some of that, all in pleasing colors. Even the tiny blocks set into the sashing and the three quarter square triangle cornerstones came out of the bag. Some of it had to be finished and some were cut blocks that never got assembled.

The light green sashing is leftover from a half dozen projects. Don't know why I bought so much, but even after I finish sashing and borders on this quilt, I'll still have over a yard left...and I know I've used this print as at least one quilt back, so I must have bought most of the bolt.

It's not quite long enough. I try to make my Linus quilts at least 60" long to accomodate older, taller kids. I'm going to add strips of 3" blocks, alternating dark/light along the top and the bottom, with some more sashing and finish up with some green borders. Cheerful, cheerful. That's what Linus quilts are all about.

The smoke from the local fires is settling in around us, now that the wind has died down. There's a haze in the air and for the first time, I could smell smoke on my way into the office. Many of us are coughing and I know that's what it is. I started to have a tickle in my throat on the way in this morning. One of my co-workers brother lost his house and her Dad lost his business. 9 employees of Rob's company lost their homes. And, the fires are still burning. I think I've gotten immune to the constant pictures of devastation, smoke and flames. It's wierd to know this crisis is happening all around us, but we come to work and live out our normal days. Wierd.

Take care. Have a great Wednesday. Lane


The labors of Labor Day

I have it in my mind that Labor Day is a day to Labor. Don't know where that came from...or at least I didn't until I talked to my parents last night and they labored on Labor Day. And, as far as I can remember, they always have. And, now, so do I.

Now, this first set of pictures is not something I made over the weekend. This is a wool rug that I crocheted. It's not perfect. Kind of rustic with the starts and stops obvious like they are. But, it fits in perfect with our other decor. Kind of home made and rustic. That's who we are.

See? it fits perfect in our living room. Rob plans to get a dog and have the dog lay on this rug at his feet. Now, I just need to get him a pipe and slippers and it will all be complete.

I know I said I probably wouldn't make any more rugs, but guess what? I started one this weekend. A new bathroom rug for Sydney. Purple, cuz purple is what it's all about, right?

But, most of my Labor Day weekend this year was spent refinishing furniture and quilting.

The other day, I sat in my antique secretary's chair in my home office. Now, the sad part of this story is that my antique secretary's chair has wheel problems. The holes are too big and the posts that the wheels are mounted to come out if the chair gets lifted off the ground. Okay, let's correct that right now. They used to come out. Not any more.

Anyway, I sat in my wonderful chair and it tossed me to the ground. Right on top of the little knitting stand that Rob brought me as a surprise. And, my little stand ended up in several pieces...as did the back of my chair. Several very frightfully, ugly words later ( I may have actually made up two new swear words that day) and by the time I was up off the floor, my little knitting stand was in a half dozen pieces, between glue that gave up the ghost and broken spindles and dowels. I spent nearly a week glueing it all back together, and this weekend was the final stage of getting it refinished so all the cracks would disappear. Doesn't look like much now, but the four pieces on the left will very soon be a beautiful knitting box, with a lid, on those delicate spindle legs again. Very soon. Like 16 screws and the last bit of glue soon.

My other project for the weekend was to paint the cabinet that my 1920's National Sewing machine is in. It's like giving the old girl a new dress. This cabinet was all to pieces. Of the 10 glue points that held the legs together, 6 were loose. The very top of the cabinet (the underside of the flat piece on the floor) was all peeling veneer. And, it was all black, bubbly laquer. I took the machine out and glued it all together and then I started sanding, and the more I sanded, the more beautiful red wood grain showed through. Gorgeous. Everything except the very top flat surface was salvageable, nary a crack and hardly a chip in the surface. So, I sanded it all down and got it ready to refinish. The color was a beautiful red mahogany, so I put more red mahogany stain on it...and all that wood grain disappeared. So, yesterday morning, I sanded it again...it's smooth as a baby's butt now. The wood grain all came back. I stained it with a natural stain this time so the grain didn't go away, and I put 4 coats of varnish on. Everything is finished except the sewing surfaces. I want to get another two coats of varnish on and then, this weekend, three coats of paste wax so it will be smooth and fabric won't have any drag as I sew.

That top surface is going to get paint. There was a time when people mixed paint and wood. I'm thinking I might bring that trend back. It will be so much easier than replacing the veneer.

I have to say that refinishing this has given me the bug. There's another two sewing machine cabinets that could use some hard work. And, the two end tables in the living room. Oh, and the dining table needs some work. Hmmmmm. I'll have to spread that out so I still have time to quilt.

My other big project was finishing the August Linus quilt. Here it is, all quilted and ready to go.

It's hard to photograph red quilting on a red quilt. The camera doesn't want to focus on the lights and darks, so you really can't see the leaves and vines in the border. But, it was a great chance to practice the leaf and vine for my West of Paris Texas quilt. Now, just to find the time.

I also started the September Linus. I pulled blocks from my bag of blocks that didn't make muster. Who knew I had so many. I used about half that were all greens, blues and yellows and sashed it in green. Hopefully pics of that soon.

Everybody have a great Tuesday. Take care. Stay dry and cool and run from Fire. We're having a lot of fires around here. Our home probably won't be affected. A lot of Austin would have to burn before it gets to us. But, it's so sad to see the destruction to neighborhoods around here. Guess it was perfect timing to turn in those Linus quilts last month. There's plenty of need and they should be in circulation by now.



School Days, School Days

Dear old rotten rule days.
Reading and Writing and 'Rithmatic,
Tuaght to the tune of a hick'ry stick...

Oh, how I miss the old hick'ry stick days. I feel like Mr Filch; "There was a time you'd be hung from your thumbs in the dungeons for this. How I miss the screaming."

Okay, you all know I'm just kidding. But, we're already struggling with the new school rules.

Rule 1 is different this year. Last year rule 1 said that as long as you're making straight A's, I won't get involved in your school work. That bit me in the butt in the second half of the year, when all her classes got changed around and the students that she was getting help from all went away and I didn't know what they were covering in class. So, this year, I am involved from day 1. That is the new rule 1. Embrace it for your own happiness. I am not going away.

Rule 2. I am glad to help you. But, you have to be willing to let me. If you are not willing to let me, then you will be required to attend tutoring from your teachers. On your own time, before or after school. There won't be any more fighting at the dining table, me trying to force you to listen. Been there. Hated that.

Rule 3. Tutoring, even mandatory tutoring, is not a consequence. If your grades slip, you still get consequences as incentive to pay attention to the tutoring.

I love a clear understanding of the rules. And, last night, after I had negotiated with a teacher to let me work with Syd and then she could retake some quizzes, there was a reluctance on Sydney's part to take advantage of my offer, so I didn't push it. After all, she was on a post-volleyball game rush. I shared my prepared lesson and we all went to bed. This morning, I was surprised, but she remembered what I showed her last night. Hee-hee. We celebrate every victory.

Unfortunately, we didn't get to celebrate a volleyball victory. The girls got beat real bad. The "A" team beat themselves. We missed the first game, but in the second game, the "A" team just stood there and watched the ball fall to the floor amidst them, like they were all afraid of it.

Then, "B" team came up. "B" team games at the beginning of season are always more fun that "A" team, until the coaches get the skill levels sorted out. The "B" team girls are trying to impress the coach and get onto "A" team. They play their little hearts out. Syglet is on "B" team and she had a great game last night. She has lots of power and unfortunately, that meant she hit a few out of bounds, but she'll get that worked out with some practice. This morning, she got invited to a special unscheduled practice to see if she can move to "A" team next week. Was it a problem getting her to a special 7am practice? It was not. Glad to do it. She needs the confidence that comes from A team.

Rob and I have apparently made quite the impression at the school, too. Last night, our little group of parents settled around us to watch the games and catch up. There's a single mom that's adopted a daughter from a different race and faces some of the same issues we do. A mom whose daughter has been with Syd in school, after school care, and summer camp, since 4th grade (and ashamedly, I don't know the mom's first name). And, the science teacher recognized us from parent teacher night and came and sat near us with her grandson that she is raising. The coaches recognize us as Sydney's parents and when she served a lightening fast ball out of bounds last night, the coach turned around and looked at me and asked if I'd been feeding her Wheaties. The history teacher was selling tickets and she recognized us. I've been communicating with the spanish teacher. She remembered us from parent/teacher night and wrote me the day after, so we could start working on Sydney's grades...pulling my email from those of all the other parents that filled out the sign up sheet. And, at p/t night, the PTA president recognized us as Sydney's dads from our work last year as did the basketball coach.

When we first became parents, I worried that people would treat Sydney different because she had two dads. I kept my head down and kept quiet and didn't get involved and didn't want them to really notice us. Only one teacher seemed to treat us different and that was in 4th grade, the year we got Syd.

And, even though we didn't make a loud entrance, we apparently have made quite the impression. I've become the parent that sends a hot breakfast to school with my kid every day. We're known for our efforts on grades and discipline.

A friend of Rob's that was adopted and raised by a great dad sent him a text the other day that said we are "the best dads ever, that didn't have to be". That made me cry.

Everybody have a great Friday. In the states, it's a three day weekend. Labor Day. And, I plan to Labor. In the house. In the sewing room. In the yard? No, it's still 105*. But, I'll labor, nonetheless. Without sweat. Cool front next week, tho. It's only supposed to get up to 98*. whoo-hoo. Still no rain.

Take care. Lane


Things I didn't buy on vacation

Rob helped me remember that I cannot save everything that I love. Besides, if I buy it all, what will you get?

This first quilt is one I saw early in the trip. Too expensive for my budget, but lovely nonetheless. You can't really see it here, but the quilter did a really nice job of the blocks and setting the blocks together so that all the points matched. And, the hand quilting was very tiny and neat even thought the batting was very thick.

This little Jones machine was over $200. There had been one on ebay for less than $100 including shipping, so no way I was going to bring this one home, even though the decals were delicious.

This quilt, I could have brought home. The marked price was $75, but it had been there so long that the ink on the price tag had all but disappeared. I believe I could have bargained on it. It was all homespun and very rough and very, very heavy. Love the blocks, tho. Now that the trip is over and I know how much we spent, I wish I had bought this.

But, not nearly as much as I wish I had bought this. This little signature machine was nothing special, but look at that cabinet! This would have been so cool. But, I already had one new cabinet in the truck to make space for at home and just couldn't see myself buying this one...even though it was only $35, machine and cabinet both. It was sturdy and in great shape...and I left it sit there.

Okay, so that bit of longing is going to have to do for today. My boss has decided to work me like a rented mule and I am more than just a bit resentful that he's upset a bunch of people around me, who are all coming to me to find out what he wants them to do. And, I don't know. And, I don't really care. I want to say "He's the one that yelled at you. Why are you bothering me? He didn't yell at me."

One day, I'm going to be so burned out I'm going to spontaneously combust.