Progress on my 15 minutes a day

A while back, I challenged myself to cut scraps for just 15 minutes a day until my tin of scraps was empty.

Well, what have I learned from that challenge? I learned I can't do anything for 15 minutes EVERY DAY. I lack that kind of consistency. But, I can average about 2 hours a week. And, that's close enough. So, I've been cutting scraps. It's a shame I didn't think to take pictures before I filed everything away into the bins.

I know I was supposed to work on that popcorn tin of scraps left from making garments. But, garment scraps are a pain in the butt. They're all wierd shapes and long strings that taper to nothing and curves. That takes forever to cut down. I've done what I could in there, but let myself get distracted and moved over to quilting scraps, which are generally straight edges and easily cut into squares or strips. I cut a few out of the tin every time, but only a few and then I move to something easier. This is my portable cutting surface. It's on the back of a portable ironing board. Made it to take classes and it's one of my favorite things. Heavy, but useful and I made a custom bag to carry it in. (even though I've only taken one class and have already managed to knock a chunk out of the bottom edge of the cutting board).

When I got bored with garment scraps, I pulled out this gallon jug that I bought for $4 at the last quilt show we went to. I purchased nearly a gallon of 2.5" squares. I cut for 4 hours before I found one that was both 2.5" and square. Most were a bit oversize, so cutting them down to 2.5" was pretty easy, but tedious. Some had a wonky side and that was pretty easy to fix, too. And, a few had to be cut down to 2" squares. There's a ton of variety and I like that. But I suspect that multiple people contributed to the jar and they didn't all use the same ruler. Some of them may not have used a ruler at all. Someone may have tried to tear scraps into squares. But, this was a donation to the guild bazaar and was likely a gift of love and I love it, so there's a lot of love in that jar...even if I have to whack away at that love to make it work for me.

What have I ended up with? I have well over a hundred four patches ready to sew. These have pairs of matching darks and pairs of matching lights, so they'll make really nice matchy-matchy 4 patch blocks. I bundled them and tied them with string and dropped them back in the jar to sew later, when I don't have half a dozen leader/ender projects going on. And, I still have a large stack of "onesies" where there's just one block cut from a fabric. Those can be fun, too and I have a block picked out from Adventures with Leaders and Enders that I think they'll start nicely. Definitely a long term scrap project.

And, I'm still cutting bricks for my Texas Braid. 1028 neutral bricks and 1028 colorful bricks and 1028 red squares. No, they're not all cut, but all the colorful bricks are cut and about half have the red squares attached and I'm ready to take them out of the basket I've been tossing them in and do some pressing and start to assemble at least one braid so I'll have incentive to keep at it. Usually, my leader/ender projects work as leaders and enders for a while and then I get so excited I just have to work on them full time until I get the quilt finished. I've not been excited about this one because I knew I had a thousand neutral bricks left to cut. But, now that's started and the excitement is building again. This will likely be a quilt for Sydney's bed. Or maybe not. Maybe we'll keep it and give her something we've grown bored with.

This is my scrap users system. I have all my blocks sorted by size and layered in this sewing box. And, the most plentiful size, 2" is sorted by light/med/dark. The others are just willy nilly. I've made two quilts from my 2" squares already and the bin is still full. And, the sections for 1.5" squares is overflowing, so I need to piece something with them. I have a few 9 patches made and may add to that, just to move these little scraps along. Usually what comes out of this bin goes into Linus quilts. The drawers in the background have my strips, in half inch increments from 1.5" to 3.5" and they're pretty full...but there are no neutrals. What's up with neutrals??? I can't seem to keep them at all. I use them in almost everything, so neutral scraps are a premium. And, there's another small bin for strips 4" or larger that is getting pretty full...and unfortunately is not sorted by size or color or anything...a situation I need to rectify...one day.

Much as I'd like you to think that all the scraps in this bin were cut in the last month, that's not true. I've been storing them here for over a year and add to it constantly. Every quilt leaves a scrap and if it's at least 1" wide and 6" long, it goes in the string bag. If it's at least 1.5" square, I save it to cut down for this bin.

I'm just glad I'm using these. For several months, I collected, but didn't have enough scraps to do anything with. But, squares are like coathangers. Put them in a dark place and they manage to multiply.

I haven't started the Orca Bay mystery from Bonnie Hunter yet. I got home that first Friday with my printed instructions and sent Sydney to cook supper and pulled open my 1.5" strip drawer and I found about 25" of neutral strips and NO blacks. That meant I'd have to start from scratch and cut from yardage and I wasn't up to that in the middle of my holiday quilt and a cmas gift for a friend and all the other holiday activities. So, I'm going to wait and see. I don't use much black and don't have much variety in black fabrics, so later, I might be able to substitute another color and make the quilt. Or, it will give me an excuse to buy black fabrics. What could be funner than that???



Holiday traditions

This year, it was just us for Thanksgiving. I can't remember a time when there weren't guests for Thanksgiving at my house. My best friend has been to Thanksgiving at my house for way more years than either of us cares to remember, but her parents are aging fast and she felt she needed to go there this year.

With just the three of us, I let a few traditions go. I pulled out serving pieces and washed them, but we ended up putting food on our plates from the stove. I've never done that at a holiday before. No centerpiece, no fancy napkins, no silver that needed polishing. No fancy tablecloth, no candles. Nothing but us. I think we even watched TV while we ate. After the dishes were safely ensconced in the dishwasher (no handwashing ordeal this year, either) rather than a long nap, we went shopping and picked up a few holiday gifts. Most unusual.

I missed all the traditions.

Another tradition at our house dictates we decorate for Christmas during the Thanksgiving long weekend. We did that this year. Rob wasn't going to put up all of the decorations he normally does and when he asked if I wanted to do all the things I usually do, I was a little put off. I missed the Thanksgiving traditions I gave up and was not willing to do that for two holidays in a row. So, when all the dishes we didn't use were put away and the last of the leftovers were packed for lunches, we started to decorate.

And, we decorated.

And, decorated.

And, decorated some more.

There'll be more on each of these pics between now and the holiday. And, between decorating and paying bills and eating out and holiday shopping and backing up all our photos, I quilted.

And, I quilted.

Okay, if anybody tells you that pebbling (snowballing) is easy, you just tell them that they are nuts. It takes way longer than the other background filler I did. The challenge is to see how many of those pebbles you can make exactly circular. Around, and around, and around we go.

If you did not get on your scale this morning, do not. Oh, how I wish I could take that decision back. Sometimes not knowing is better than knowing.

Take care and have a great Monday. Lane


A very busy week

I'm not used to it being this busy. Wednesday, I spent the day waiting for the feeling to come back into the left side of my face. But, my implant is in and all is well. No pain at all. Now, I've just got to wait for that to heal up and I can get the replacement tooth.

While I waited, I worked on the background filler for this corner. This was the first corner I did; the trees, and I did all the outline and border work weeks ago. The background went pretty well and now I'm off to the borders.

Thursday, we cooked and we ate. It was so nice to have Sydney cooking with me this year. So much easier than doing all that work alone. As we cooked, I took short breaks for quilting. Then, yesterday, we started the holiday decorating. I hung a swag in the living room ceiling and we got the tree put together and the lights on, but no ornaments. Sydney kept saying she would take care of that, but today, she's been a little less anxious to get working on it. Between other stuff, I got the bows and the outlining in the outer border of the holiday quilt.

And, this morning, I got up and started pebbling...or snowballing. Rob came in this morning and said "those look like snowballs", so I'm snowballing, not pebbling. Anyway, it's coming out just like I expected. We went out and did some shopping for shop local Saturday, which I'm totally in favor of. The only big store we went to was Target for socks and undies.

And, I took advantage of a sale at the quilt shop and picked this up. Texas themed fabric. Love it. I saw it the other day and left it there because it was expensive. Today, I needed to go back and I brought 2 yards home without a plan for it. But, you can bet I'll find something.

I turned in my lesson plan for teaching a free motion class. We'll see what she thinks. Now, we just need to get all the south Austin quilters to start shopping down here. I know there are a lot of us and I'd bet most don't even know the store is there because they've been so machine exclusive and not really focused on quilters until recently.

Okay, so now we're back home and Rob just started Giant and I'm going to snowball and listen to Elizabeth Taylor give Rock Hudson hell.

Take care. Lane


Thanksgiving day

Here we are. Another day to be thankful. And, so many people are wishing everyone a great Thanksgiving, and sharing what they are thankful for. I'm not going to be any different. Even if you aren't in the U.S. and celebrating our day of thankfulness, I hope you will be inspired to feel thankful for what you have.

As for me, I had to think for a while this morning about what I'm thankful for. Not to find what it is, but to find words to describe it. Is it family? No, it's bigger than that. Is it home? No, bigger than that, too. Work? Thankful that I have it and that I'm good at it, but that's not it, either.

I'm thankful for the life I have given myself. And, it's not an easy thing to give myself a good life. And, to keep it, despite the temptation to sabotage it because...well, because nothing can really be this good, so I better break it before somebody else does. Or whatever caused me to sabotage having plenty of goodness in the past.

Probably not saying this well because I'm not all that good with big ideas. Anyway, I'm thankful that I've not broken it and thankful that Rob hasn't let me and that we have it, together. So, that's it.

Everybody have a great Thursday, no matter whether you're officially celebrating or not. And, if you are, then may your turkey be juicy and your mashed potatoes have just the right amount of lumpiness and your pumpkin pie be perfect.

I saw news stories about people buying Thanksgiving food last night. All I could think was "that turkey won't be thawed in time to cook." Last Sunday, we saw a gay couple in the grocery and they had a huge turkey, maybe 25-28 pounds and it was riding in the cart in a little, tin foil pan. Rob and I both wanted to walk up to them and ask if it was their first turkey. See if they needed help.

Sydney made our pie this year. Looks perfect! She's going to make most of lunch, I think. She's excited but keeps declaring she will not touch the raw turkey.



Rob loves Peanuts

Okay, so this is one of the gifts I've been working on. These lounging pants are a Thanksgiving gift for Rob and I gave them to him last Saturday, so I could have him try them on for hemming. And, it was a good thing. I got them finished and now, he can wear them all of Thanksgiving week.

The last pair I made was a Medium. They were so tight, I had to open the side seams and insert 2.5 inches of fabric all the way down both outside legs. I had cut that pattern out to a medium, so I bought a new pattern and tried a large. A large was big enough that Rob and all the peanuts gang could have fit into them. So, I took 2 inches out of each leg up the inseam. (I don't know if I'll ever get this pattern thing down. Seems the easiest thing to do would be pick one pattern maker and just buy from them so I can get a feel for the numbers on the back of the pattern. But, that's no fun.)

Anyway, when he tried them on, he asked for a drawstring plus the elastic waist and that was no problem, except it took most of an hour to make that long drawstring. Now, he's wearing them all around. Even threatened to wear them to the supermarket on Sunday.

Robs loves Peanuts. He has a DVD with all the specials and we watch them on their appropriate holidays...the Great Pumpkin, toast and popcorn for Thanksgiving lunch, Charlie's sad tree; these are all faves around our house. So, when I saw this autumn themed peanuts fabric at 70% off, I nabbed it up. But, somehow, I didn't get enough, so I had to go get more and then, it was only 40% off. Rats! Cause it's not like I could just buy the half yard I was short. I had to buy enough to cut a whole leg from.

Rob even wants a beagle and is actively looking for one at the rescues. I could never do that. If I looked at dogs all day, I'd adopt dogs all day. I could never look for one exact kind. But, he's doing it and as long as I don't watch over his shoulder and moan "Oh, look at that face. How cute. What's that one's name? How old?" we do fine.

The girls lost at basketball again last night. From what I heard the other parents say, the refs did it again. But, the teams were well matched and the game was exciting and Sydney played really well. Not many parents tho. Hey, I'm just stubborn enough to yell for them whether they're winning or losing. One more game, next week. A home game to end the season. Geez, I hope Sydney will go for track. She does so good when she has athletics.

Okay, so take care. Tomorrow morning at 7:30 I have the second step of my mouth junk. I get the holder for my implant. The doctor says it's a non-event and I can come to work tomorrow afternoon if I am so inclined. I am not so inclined. However, I am so inclined to get a start on T-day cooking. And, to sit and quilt. Sounds like a good afternoon off.



Fourth corner

I worked right through on Saturday. The day is a blur of quilting, stretching and stopping to eat. Really didn't have anything else going on and didn't want to start anything new the weekend before the first holiday celebration, so I quilted.

This is the last corner in this year's holiday quilt. I have to go back and finish the first corner. I did just the outlining there and none of the background. I didn't want to make too many commitments that early; wanted to be able to make changes as I went and my skills developed. The first corner was the simplest, just undecorated christmas trees. Then, ornaments and then lights and now presents. Okay, even though they're a mass of errors, I am just tickled with how this quilt is coming out.

The clown and drum. The clown was done and he looked great. Then, I did the background filler and he disappeared in it. Too much detail. So, I took out all the little designs in his clothes and half the thread around the body and hat and put it in again. Now, he looks good. The drumsticks didn't come out good when I first put them in, so I saved them and redid them at the end to get the detail I wanted.

Baby doll and truck. I originally filler her eyes in with thread and she was freaking me and Rob out, so I pulled that and just oulined them. Better, but she's still a little freaky. I hope part of that is chalk marker and will wash out.

Train, sled and giraffe. After I took this, I filled in the window of the train with background filler. I didn't notice it until this picture. The sled as no straight lines. Maybe I'll fix that and maybe I won't. The giraffe disappears into the background like the clown did and I will likely remove some of the spots, maybe all and replace them with fewer, but larger spots.

Last night, I found a bow in the coloring book all this has come from and I'm going to repeat it all around the last border. But, not until after Thanksgiving. Or, maybe not. The kid's getting pretty good at cooking. Maybe it's time for her to "experience the joy".

Everybody take care and have a great Monday. Tonight, I'm feeding the team tuna sandwiches, all made by Sydney and with only as much supervision as was required to make sure she washed her hands and kept her surfaces clean. She said most parents just bring a loaf of bread and a package of meat and a squeeze bottle of mayo and they have to make their own. I was all about that idea until she explained that the girls don't like that. They like the parent to go to the little extra effort. Hmmpphh.



If you're ever in Austin...

I'm recommending a little deli named Kneaded Pleasures on Far West Blvd. That's where we had dinner last night. It was game night again and the game was clear across town. Rather than Rob drive past that school and then back again, I met him there and we had supper and then went to the game.

Anyway, I had a turkey club on herb foccaccia bread with pesto and pepper jack cheese and I have to tell you, it was one of the best sandwiches I ever had. Rob had their burger and it looked delicious, too. Then, I got really decadent and bought a white chocolate/dried cherry cookie that was absolutely to die for. I wanted a cinnamon roll, covered with pecans but some older gentleman grabbed them before I could. I considered tackling him on the way out (they looked that good), but, ya' know, I've made every game Sydney has played in. Getting arrested for assault would have broken that spotless record.

Anyway, we went to the game and it was a very exciting game. According to those that know basketball, the referees were terrible again. And, I did see some fouls that should have been called and some play that was not foul, yet fouls were called. And, I don't know anything about basketball. But, I hate to blame two losses in a row on referees. Although, according to the Mom that I listen to as the expert on basketball (I swear, she must have played basketball in school), these refs were pretty bad and players on both teams got hurt because they missed some rough play that was going on.

Anyway, that was that and we all made it home safe. Too bad the girls won't make it to tournament. But, hey, there's always high school.

Whooee! Who else has a busy weekend scheduled? Bonnie released the first part of her 2011 mystery, plus I'm knee deep in holiday gift making and a holiday quilt and I have got to turn in my lesson plans for quilt class or they're going to forget me and ask someone else. And, I have chores and plans and stuff to do. But, it's supposed to be a drizzly weekend, so I'm hoping I can spend most of it in my sewing room, holding court and passing out orders for child to do housework. She's in the doghouse this weekend over a grade and has no electronics. I've gotta keep her busy. I think someone mentioned fall cleaning???

I'm in. If she does the work. Idle hands are the devil's workshop!



When I was young, I used to go hunting with my Dad. We’d walk and walk through the woods on my Uncle Roy’s property. Hills, valleys, streams, downed trees, and a thick carpet of leaves and pine straw. Walking uphill was always hard. You know when you’re walking uphill because gravity is pulling you down. You can always tell uphill.

But, downhill is another matter. If the slope is gradual enough, and your perspective limited enough by forest, you couldn’t tell you were headed downhill until you got to the bottom and found yourself surrounded by uphill slope.
I live life somewhere on the slope, between the hilltop of who I want to be and the valley of self-destructive depression. Hey, it is what it is, right?

Sometimes, I live on the top of the hill, but let’s face it, it’s exhausting to be that happy all the time. So, I spend most of my time on the slope, in a happy medium, usually pretty close to the top without being disgustingly cheerful.

And, sometimes, I head downslope. I lived years mostly downslope. Far from who I wanted to be. Unhappy. And, now I can say I’ve lived years mostly upslope. But, I still (and will likely always) have to be careful of downslope.

So, I’ve placed roadsigns along the way. Reminders to turn around, head back up. Make some change. STOP! You’re headed down the wrong path. Go back. Don’t go here.

Here there be dragons.

One sign is Anger. Frequently, when I’m on the slopes, anger masks a different issue. I have to look at my anger and figure out whether I’m angry about what’s really wrong, or if I’m angry about something totally different and fixating that anger onto something that’s easier to deal with.

Another sign is paranoia. There’s an old saying that “just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t out to get you.” In my case, it’s generally “just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean there’s anyone out to get you.”

Another sign, and the one that stopped me in my tracks this morning was solitude. The exact thought was “Why won’t they all just leave me alone?” That’s the strongest roadsign of all, and the best indicator that I’m about to step onto slippery slope that it’s hard to climb back up from. History has shown me that if I’m asking why they won’t all just leave me alone, I’m likely about to do something to make it happen. Expedient, but not productive; not what I want.

So, I’m forced to look around and see all the things that I’ve blinded myself to. The links that pull last month and last week and this week together. The gradually decreasing level of happiness. The gradually increasing level of depression. The defeated attitude. The unwillingness to communicate. The inability to focus. All baby steps that add up to a long and winding walk.

And, there’s a prevailing sense that every stone in the road is a crisis, waiting to leap up and knock me down. Constantly being on alert, waiting for a problem to raise its head, like a snake, so I can stomp it into submission again. Creating crisis out of the possibility of crisis. The inability to adjust to the ending of a long period of crisis. Finding something to replace that because it’s become a way of life. And, I don’t know how to adjust.

But, the first step to solving a problem is defining the problem. And, like almost every problem, it’s rooted in fear. Fear that now that my project at work is over, I won’t be able to find a place where I fit in. Fear that I am now redundant because I don’t remember how to do the job I had a year ago. Fear that no one will trust me again because it’s been my job for a year to find problems with their work, and pointing it out so it could be fixed.

And, solving the problem instead of hiding it under chocolate. M&M’s are great problem maskers. If my day went to hell in a handbasket by three p.m., I could eat enough candy to pump me up for the rest of the day…but then I’d get home and crash and be despondent. Separate from the family.

Fear is a devil of a snake to do battle with.

Wish me luck. I know that just thinking this and writing this and getting it out there is over half of the problem solved. Because secrecy breeds more fear and that grows and grows until it can push me right down the hill to the bottom.

Next step, tell my boss. Tell him I’m afraid I don’t fit anymore. He’ll help. And, then there will be two of us making sure I don’t become redundant. Two heads is better than one. And, even if my worst fear comes true and he doesn't help, at least I'll know that.

But, it's not likely. That's the problem with secret fears. If it's a secret, nobody can tell you not to be afraid. And, nobody knows to help.



A Christmas gift I can show

Here's a gift I can blog about. the recipient of this one doesn't read my blog.

This is a Martha Thompson pattern called Square Dance. It's the second time I've made this pattern, but the first time was in placemat size. This time, think bigger. Much bigger. Lap size. Which means it started huge.

So, first, you piece the top. See that sharpie in the lower left? The next step is to take this plain but cute quilt top and mark all over the whole thing with that sharpie. Okay, so to do that, you have to be pretty confident that it's going to come out better in the end. I drew half the day on Sunday and then cut the other half. And, I ended up with...

This tray of 4.5 inch sqares were all cut from that quilt top with scissors. Okay, so if I do it again, I'll mark a ruler and rotary cut it very carefully. Anyway, each block has to stay in the order it came off the quilt in and when they go back together into rows,

You get these pinwheels. Of course, because there was a muddy spot, with too little contrast in my original quilt top,

I got a muddy spot in the final product. But, hopefully, there won't be too many of those. But, if you're making a quilt like this, I would caution you to be more careful than I was.

I had great plans for getting it together. I made the 6" squares into 9 patches, half with dark corners and half with light. The first time I laid them out, it was pretty perfect. But, then squares got turned as I sewed them together and I wasn't careful enough to keep them how I laid them out and I got at least this one spot where there won't be enough contrast.

But, that's not going to stop this from being a cute quilt. Remember that we took our friend LD to a quilt show a few weeks ago. I bought almost all these fabrics there. She asked me what I was going to do with them and I said I wouldn't really know until I got them home and saw what I bought. And, explained that somehow, I usually managed to buy collections of fabrics that went great together and I'd use them together to make a quilt. She called that the palette in my mind's eye. I thought how appropriate that was. The palette that was in my mind's eye on that day.

So, I got them home and sure enough, they went together great. Lots of big flowery prints, which I don't usually collect. I added the border and a couple of flowery print fat quarters that I was anxious to move out of my stash (think dark olive with cupids and flowers or and a couple of yellow flowery prints on green backgrounds that came in a bag I bought over summer.) Someone had made one of the Square Dance patterns and it is hanging in the quilt show that we went to together, so what better pattern. Quilt show->fabric->pattern->new friend->gift. It was a no brainer.

I got two rows put together this morning, but not ironed. My quilting time is curtailed in the mornings and there's rarely time at night...until I learn enough Spanish to be able to force Sydney into talking to me in spanish about quilting. (Yeah, like that's gonna happen.)

Have a great Tuesday. They've promised us rain. PROMISED. Nothing yet.



Sunny, with a chance of angry

This weekend was the wierdest emotional roller coaster!

I can't always tell where my anger comes from. This weekend, it was definitely all about me being angry at me. Me. Being mad at me. For being me.

For needing to rescue every cracked and chipped and broken thing and try to give it a second life. Holding onto it and trying to glue the bits back together. Cramming every space up with useless junk. Gotta keep it all. The guy with the most crap wins.

And, at some point, that just cracks wide open. And, when it does, I start throwing junk. Get rid of it, reduce it to small enough that it can go in the trash. Why am I keeping it? Why did I buy it? Why is it in my way? Why was I willing to move it 37 times over the summer because every where I went, there was my crap. In the way.

And, now it's gone. Went out with the trash this morning.

Well, at least a little bit of it. Everything I could cram into one weekly trash pickup.

But, you know what? That trash truck comes by every week. And, I've got more stuff that needs to GO!

Is this a leftover of fall cleaning?

Poor Rob and Sydney. When I get like this, they just stay out of the way and do their best to smile. And, I do my best to stay away from them because I am very volatile and prone to snapping things I mean to just say.

This, too, shall pass. But, in the meantime, if I could just get to my clothes closet while I'm in this mood. I mean, really, if I haven't worn it in two years, I'm probably never going to wear it again. Am I the only one that tells myself those jeans will fit again?

I know this is some emotional baggage about letting stuff go. Letting go of the broken and the memories. Looking backward instead of forward. Having to get angry to get things done. All this is buried deep down. Or, maybe it's brain chemicals. Or, maybe just the full moon.

Anyway, wish I could keep the letting stuff go part without the getting mad at myself for having it part. Ain't it the way, tho.

Confusious say: "Emotions, like coins, come with two sides."

Oh, and while I'm griping, what's up with not being able to see my glasses? I dropped them in the yard on Saturday and had to go get Sydney to come out and help me find them. That is just old age making fun of me and I don't like it. ;-)

Take care and have a great Monday. Lane


Second corner

Whew! I was within 30 minutes of done yesterday morning and had to get up. I'd been at it for 4 hours, just stopping to fix coffee and stretch. But, it's done now.

So, the first corner was cmas trees without decorations, second corner was ornaments, third corner lights. Fourth corner is presents. Gift boxes, truck, dolly...

It has a clown.

What was I thinking?

Hey, this whole project gets that question. What WAS I thinking? But, I am enjoying watching those little wormy things develop and loop and turn.

After I got up from this, I spent the rest of the day working in the yard. It was so nice to be able to stay out in the yard all day long. So nice that it's not 100* out anymore. I'm expanding beds and moved the fruit trees into the greenhouse and cleaned up and cleaned up and cleaned up some more. Today, I can't breathe from all the mold I breathed in.

Thanks for all your kind comments over the last couple of days. We work hard. And, sometimes, we make mistakes. And, we get up and go again. As my boss says,"This is the life we have now."

Take care and have a great Sunday.



Hindsight IS 20/20

Last night's basketball game was hard. On everybody.

First, the two teams were equally matched, so the play was exciting.

Second, there was the girl from the opposing team that crossed herself, and the floor, every time she had a free throw and then proceeded to show what a good Christian girl she was by punching, elbowing, tripping and in general being a bitch to all the girls on our team and made a hand gesture that I didn't approve of to her own coach.

Next was the comedy that was the referees. First ref was not a good ref. He didn't seem to see any of the bad stuff going on. He couldn't even keep up with whose ball it was. It was really unfair. Then, about half way through the first quarter, a second ref shows up. We didn't even know she was there until she started blowing her whistle and cleaning up the action on the court. She was calling fouls right and left. For both teams. But, the first ref didn't much care for that and he kept overriding calls. For example, both refs blew their whistles at the same time. But, because first ref called time out before second ref called foul, the first ref blew off the foul. Over and over, second ref tried to talk to him and he wasn't having nothing to do with it. So, second ref left. Stormed out. Jeez! Can we spell unprofessionalism? I am thinking of writing whoever keeps up with this for the school board because both of these refs deserve to have their work reviewed. But, we all know that only second ref will get in trouble because she behaved the most unprofessionally. Best I can hope for is that if I say something, at least they'll listen to what ref 2 has to say about ref 1 before they fire her.

While the game was going on, we were sitting with the mother of one of Syd's friends. She told us first, a story about shopping for her daughter, buying $300 worth of clothes and bringing it home for her daughter to try on. Now, she's going to take back about $260 worth of it because her daughter didn't like it. She does this because her daughter doesn't like to shop and is not nice while shopping. Hmmm. Interesting concept.

Then, she told another story...her daughter came home and said Sydney was spoiled because she got two pair of shoes for her birthday. Okay, so no mention of the 30% off your total purchase coupon I had that made two pair of shoes practical. No mention of the fact that Syd needed non-athletic shoes for school and athletic shoes for sports. None of the practical aspects were discussed.

So, why was this interesting? The mom gave this as her reply to her daughter: Yes, she got two pair of shoes, but she also has to turn in her phone every night, she only gets computer access when her dads are around, she has to do homework every night and they check it with her, she has an early bed time and has to get up early, even on weekends, she has to go shopping with them... Basically every thing I think we're doing right, she made it sound wrong. That was uncomfortable.

So, I wasn't really in the mood for parenting.

But, that didn't mean I wasn't called on to do it. After the A team, that Syd plays on, lost by 3 points in overtime, my little sportsfan proceeded to weep. And, she wept and wept and held her head down long after the rest of the A team had let it go and gotten into the game. BAD SPORTSMANSHIP. At one point, Rob asked "are you going over there, or shall I?" Just before half time of the B team's game, I got up and walked over there.

"Are you sick?"
"Are you hurt?"
"Then you need to get your head in this game. The other team didn't beat you. The ref did. There's nothing you can do about that. You need to stop acting like a baby and start cheering for your teammates."
And, that's when she rared up and gave me the hate eyes. And, before I could stop myself...
"And, if you give me that look again, this will be the last game you play."

And, knowing that I'd gone as far as I was willing to go in public, I went back to my seat. But, all the other parents treated me wierd. Like moving away from me, and avoiding eye contact wierd. That was very uncomfortable.

And, that eventually stopped the crying. But, it didn't stop the morose/dejected/hate the world/look at my sad red eyes/I'm not happy look that lasted for the rest of the game.

When we were leaving, we were some of the first people out of the gym. I called Syd over to the side, thinking I'd get a moment before the hallway filled up and said:

"Sports is about learning two things. One is how to win. The other is how to lose. You were a bad sport in there. Those other girls screamed their tits off for you when you were playing and you cried through their whole game???"

Rob muttered "that's enough here dear" and we left.

Turned out that "screamed their tits off" was overheard, undoubtedly out of context, by other parents exiting the gym and I got more than one very dirty look. That embarrassed Rob. But, if you ask me, it was my best line of the night.

Anyway, nothing was said on the way home. I had said all I needed and Rob wanted to talk to Syd alone. I walked in on them talking later and I don't know how long they talked or what they said. But, I could hear the rumble of it across the house. He did tell me this morning that one of the things he said to her was that if she couldn't be a good sport, she couldn't play sports.

Rob gave me feedback that maybe I should have taken Syd out of the gym the first time I talked to her. I get that. If I'd been in the stands watching, I probably could have thought of 32 better ways to handle that. But, I wasn't. I was on the court, actively parenting. And, I wasn't ready to hear the feedback. In my own defense, I did pretty good with it, tho. I closed my eyes and thought about what he was saying and didn't say anything back (didn't hurt that I had a toothbrush hanging out of my mouth at the time). Yes, it probably would have gone better if I'd taken her out of the gym. But, I didn't think of that. I can take that in and try to remember it next time.

All I could say to him last night was: Hindsight is 20/20.

We talked about it this morning and I told him what I heard him say and he told me what he meant to say and all is good now. Except that now, we have to teach a girl about sportsmanship. Because, you see, even after I went over there, the coach just patted her on the back and let her keep crying. So, we'll do our job. And, we'll do the coaches job, too. Because we're like that. Rob and I can wear as many hats as we need to.

And, if I'm not doing it right? Well, we have a straight A student that rarely gives us any trouble and can be trusted and does what she is told and with a minimum of grumbling and cleans her own bathroom and makes her bed every day and does her own laundry and is learning to cook and watches the news and can discuss current events and is frequently brought to the blackboard to explain math problems to the class.

I'll put that up against a girl that can't be trusted to behave while shopping. Every time.

Parenting is hard. Good parenting is excrutiating.




Well, since I can't talk about anything I'm working on because it's all gifts for family that reads, I thought I'd talk about a couple of really good books I've recently finished.

I've already talked about reading The Help and weeping.

After I finished that one, I read a young reader's book called Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones. Wonderful book, but I don't know that I'd call it a young reader's book. It would have been a great inspirational young reader's book except that near the end, there are some devastating events that I wouldn't want Sydney to read about. But, for adults that can better handle that kind of stuff, I'd recommend it as a really good book. It focuses on a the citizens of an island that is caught in war and cut off from the rest of the world. Only the native residents of the island remain and a single white man, Mr Watts, who is married to a native resident. Mr Watts takes over responsibility for the local school and teaches the children by relating everything to what he feels is the greatest work of literature ever; Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. Wonderful interpretations as he teaches south sea children about 19th century England and the adventure that Pip takes in the book.

When I finished that one, I raided my stack of Sydney's cast offs. We encourage her to read and pile on the books for her. As she grows up, she grows out of them and passes them to Goodwill. But, I raid the stack often and pull out books that look like they'd interest me. One was There's a boy in the girl's bathroom by Louis Sachar, another Austin resident. This book is about a boy that is having a really hard time fitting in with school and friends. He's ostracized by everyone because he can't relate to anyone. He reacts with anger and defense in every situation. So much so that he is forced to sit in the last row, last seat of the classroom. The story is about a counselor that touches the boy and helps him experiment in doing things differently and how just that little nudge allows him one success that builds into another and another until he becomes an active player in his life. It's a real feel good book about a boy that's having trouble finding his way and how he manages it. Great book if you have a kid that's already troubled with behavioural issues. But, a kid that's easily influenced the wrong way might just get some ideas on ways to act up.

Anyway, after I finished that, I pulled out the old Jane Austen collection and started Sense and Sensibility. Can't read Jane's books back to back. I need something lighter and easier to read between them. But, I do plan to read them all. Why? I don't know. Goodness knows there's plenty of contemporary fiction out there. But, I want to, so I'm going to.

You'd think I'd be too busy sewing to have time to read, right? But, I'm making time for it all. Unfortunately, I have three unread quilting magazines. What does that say about my priorities?

Take care and have a great Thursday. Lane


A bit of a blogging funk

I have been struggling lately to come up with blog topics. Normally verbose, it's really wierd when I can't think of anything to talk about. Normally, I'm just full of words.

Maybe it's the time of year. The clouds are so low and the weather so ready to change, but it's still hot in Texas and there's just no freaking rain. It's like Mother Nature forgot we're here. I drove past Austin's last General Store yesterday and the sign out front said "Raindancers needed. Apply within."

With the holidays coming along, secrets are the thing of the day. And, with so many friends and family following my blog, I just can't talk about it. Can't share what I'm making. Can't share what I'm thinking. Can't share what I'm feeling. That sucks. The blog is supposed to be about me, right?

Last week, I was dealing with a bit of depression. Don't know where that comes from, but it sneaks out of the woodwork like sugar ants and before I know it, it's taken over and I just can't shake it. And, then it passes and I wonder why I've been in such a dark mood for several days.

And, what's better for dark moods than chocolate. Except that I climbed on the scale this morning and was shocked and appalled. Oh, yeah. Scales are bad for depression. It's like depression is climbing in a hole. Getting on the scale was like starting to pull the dirt in around me. So, no more scales this season. That's my first holiday gift to me.

Now, logically, I know that when I'm exercising and gaining weight, mostly it's muscle. But, try telling that to your naked self on the scale in the morning. Yeah, right. Muscle mass. Bend over so you can see if your knees and ankles are still there.

In fact, seems that the only thing I want to do or talk about is sewing. Sewing is peace. Sewing is self fulfillment. Sewing is doing something I'm good at and then being able to look at what I've done and feel good. Sewing is self indulgence. But, if I don't work, I won't be able to sew.

Work is not fulfilling. Work is crazy and unhappy and a burden. I used to have a fun job. That's why I was willing to do it for so long. But, it's been a year of promising myself that my fun job is still hiding somewhere and a year of being disappointed that I can't find it. I'm afraid that all the fun in my job has crawled in a hole and died.

Speaking of promises to myself, I'm going to try something. I hate cutting scraps to use in my scrap user's system. Scraps from quilting are okay. They're usually straight lines, just wierd sizes. But, scraps from clothes, that's another matter. Wonky, curvy, odd sizes, hard to figure out what I can get out of a scrap to optimize what I have. I hate cutting them up so bad that I have a large popcorn tin full of scraps that need to be cut. So, my goal is to cut for 15 minutes every day. Just 15 minutes. Until it's all done. I'm two days in and haven't made a dent yet.

You're thinking that maybe I should set my goals a bit higher, aren't you?

Well, you try doing something for 15 minutes every day. EVERY day.

Okay, in all honesty, I won't be able to do it EVERY day. But, I'm going to give it the old college try. After all, who knows what's in that tin that I can use in the upcoming Bonnie Hunter mystery. Or, what's in there that would fill out a Linus quilt. Not that my bins are short on scraps. If all my uncut fabric were suddenly stolen by fabric thieves or silverfish, I'd still have enough scraps to keep me busy for a couple of years.

But, that tin of fabric weighs on my mind. After all, why not pick something totally innocuous to worry about, right? And, right now, I can use some things to worry about that are insignificant. I mean, have you heard the news lately? I'd much rather worry about what's in that tin.

So, that's what I say when I can't think of anything to talk about. Just a stream of consciousness, freely flowing. Hope you are all bright and cheerful and that birds are chirping on your shoulder and helping with your housework.

Take care and have a great Tuesday. Lane


He who uses the most thread wins!

And, I would be a contender. I don't know how much thread is in this quilt so far. I have the center quilted and this corner and another couple of corners started. And, I've used 14 class 15J, large bobbins so far. That's considerable thread. I'm making them 7 bobbins at a time and replacing as needed with a drop of oil, just to keep my Evelyn working quietly and happily.

I took Friday off last week and it was a good thing, because it turned into a very kid-centric weekend. I used my Friday well, tho. I got some shopping done and some cmas gifts cut out and a cake baked and some yard work done and some quilting.

The above corner is the only one that's finished. The one below is quilted in twice (I'm going over the main design twice to make it stand out better. I've done that in all of the quilt center, too) and has the outline stitching in most of it. There's still some outlining in the area where the machine is. Then, I'll go around the edges with the pearls and finally all the filler. I might be able to do a bit more during the week, but quilting like this takes concentration and I can't do it in 15 minutes here and a half hour there. I need to sit and sew for long periods of time, interrupted by short periods of stretching.

The background work in the corner above took about 2.5 hours, plus another couple of hours to put in the ornaments and outline around them. The below corner is taking considerably longer because there's so much more outlining and so many starts and stops where the wires cross over one another. I started with a simple corner that has trees (not shown here), but didn't do the background work yet. I still need to make sure I can do the lights with the bouncing bananas background filler before I finish the tree corner. If I have to do something different in the lights corner, like pebbling because of the smaller open spaces, then I'll need to repeat that in the background of the diagonally opposite corner where the trees are.

I love this kind of quilting. It hides mistakes. There are so many mistakes in these corners and I was so discouraged, but I know that it looks worst just before I start the background fill. If I can stand it through that part, the background fill causes all the mistakes to just fade into the pattern. It's like magic mistake eraser.
Saturday was Sydney's birthday.

One of her gifts was getting to wear eyeliner and mascara (weekends and special occasions only for now). This is her trying to look all cool. She also got an email account and will be getting a facebook page.

I found some other shots on my camera that are not so "cool" and we will be talking about what is appropriate for facebook and how quickly it can be shut down if we're not happy. I know we can't protect her from her desire to grow up too fast forever, but for this week, it's our house, our rules, our way. She doesn't have to have internet access. She's gotten this far without it...well, except that one week when she had accidental unlimited access and made all those bad choices and lost her computer access for several months, and even now, is only allowed to use a computer in the living room.

Take care and have a great Monday. I'll be staring at that quilt and trying to find a whole hour when I can sit down and work on it some more. And, wondering just how fast my li'l punkin is going to grow into good choices. Everybody else wants their kids to stay little for too long. I want mine to GROW UP! Lane


Are you gonna follow Bonnie Hunter's mystery this year?

I think I am. Sue, I know you are. The mystery name this year is Orca Bay. And, I love the colors; red, blue, neutral and black. Should make a great quilt.

It's not the time of year that I'd normally think to take on an extra project, with the holidays approaching. But, I also remember how wonderful it was to slip off into the sewing room and work on something I wanted to work on, just for me, about me, by me during that busy time of trying to do for others.

Bonnie warns us in this intro post that she does intensive quilts. I did last year's mystery and I've made another couple of her patterns and I can attest to that. And, she makes big quilts, so there is a ton of piecing; lots of "make a hundred and twelve of these" and you think A HUNDRED AND TWELVE??, but then you get into the routine and start noticing the cool combinations of scraps and the variations and get into the fabric and piecing and relaxation.

I usually make smaller quilts than Bonnie. I usually do that by using less blocks than she does.

Here's a picture of my still unfinished Roll, Roll, Cotton Boll quilt, which was last year's mystery. Last year, I made all the blocks that Bonnie suggested and when it was done, I had a ton of blocks left over.

There is enough to make two other quilts, one using the string pieced blocks and their red and neutral hst sashing and another using the brown and pink hst's and leftovers from the border.

But, the stress release was the best part. I probably won't be one of those people rushing to keep up this year like I was last year (who am I kidding, I'll probably forego holiday baking to immerse myself in this myster). I plan to take it slower and more liesurely (right). I just started a quilt for a friend for a cmas gift and I have a holiday quilt that is in process.

But, I can always take on a bit more, right?

After all, next year's resolution is to quilt up some of these tops...same as it's been for the last two years in a row. Nothing like consistency.

Take care and have a great Thursday. Lane


To re-do, or not to re-do. That is the question

And, despite my penchant for ripping out quilting, that is not what this post is about.

This post is about childhood and influence and memories and false memories and perception versus reality. It's been a hard memory to work my way through and I'm not sure how it's going to work, talking about it on my blog, where my family can read it...cuz I don't come out looking very good. But, here goes.

If you'd asked me a few years ago whether I was good enough, I'd have said no. I am good, but I'm never going to be "good enough". All my life, I was never "good enough". And, the example I would have given is when my Dad taught me to change a tire. He had me change the tire, and then, he pulled the tire off and put it on again because he didn't think I was good enough to do it right.

That is one big, huge bucket of false memory. But, I was never forced to deal with its falseness until I had a kid and I started teaching that kid how to do things. I never had to deal with the falseness and I never had to take responsibility for being, or not being "good enough". All I had to do was walk around under the false perception that I was not, and never would be "good enough" and then I could never fail, because even my Daddy knew I wasn't good enough. Everything I did, he came right behind me and re-did it.

Wanna hear what really happened? After I changed the tire, he took the lug wrench and made sure my 98-pound-weakling-ass had tightened up the lugnuts enough. He didn't take the tire off and put it back on again. Just tightened the lugnuts. Just what any Daddy would have done. Just made sure I'd be safe. Exactly what I'd expect him to have done if I'd had to change a flat tire on the freeway. And, probably what he'd do if I had a flat on the way to his house now, 35 years later. Because he just wanted to make sure I was safe. It wasn't a criticism. It was an unspoken love gesture. And, because it was unspoken, I misunderstood it and carried that misunderstanding with me for a very long time.

And, what's more, he put up with my lazy butt, trying to shortcut every task I was assigned so I could get on to things that would be interesting to me (usually TV). So, I'm pretty sure he did re-do a bunch of stuff I did, but not because of my wrong perception that I wasn't good enough. Because I was a lazy bones that did my dead level best to make every task as simple and fast as possible, even if the results suffered because of it. How frustrating that must have been for him. What the heck...I know first hand how frustrating that must have been for him because I'm going through it myself.

Spring forward 30 years until I get a kid. Now I'm trying to teach her to do things. Trying to teach her to make a pie, or rake a yard, or paint a cabinet. And, she's just like me...scary like me, for someone that I wasn't around for the first 9 years of her life. Anyway, she takes the quick, simple way and the results suffer. And I'm torn between my desire to have a job done "good enough" and my desire to make sure she feels "good enough". To balance the praise with real feedback. To let her know that some things just have to be done a certain way and that requires extra time and extra work and practice.

So, why did all this come up so suddenly? Remember Friday, after the eye doctor's appt, Sydney and I painted cabinets? She wanted to paint. I wanted to be around her. So, I let her paint with me. And, she slopped it up. And, I decided I could live with it rather than give her any feedback. I asked Rob and told him how it came about and he decided he could live with it, too.

But, Sunday, after a while in the kitchen, I decided I couldn't live with it. So, yesterday morning, I repainted the doors. Secretly. After Rob and Sydney had left for the day. And, I propped them barely open so they'd have time to dry, but they were closed enough that she wouldn't wonder why they were open.

That's a lot of effort to go to, just to keep from telling her I'm redoing her work because she rushed through it and didn't listen to what I was trying to tell her and show her about long brush strokes. And, to encourage her to practice that skill.

But, while I was doing it, I had to deal with my own issues of "good enough" and re-doing work that isn't good enough, and the realities and the truths about all that and the responsibility that comes with acknowledging that I am good enough and always was, and my Daddy never really acted like I wasn't. And, feeling a little guilty about holding onto a grudge for 30 years about something that didn't happen. And, taking responsibility for the fact that when I wasn't good enough, it was my choice, not my Dad's expectations that were the problem.

I think next time, I'll be able to do a better job of providing real time feedback. And, if the work needs to be redone, explaining why and then deciding if it's me or her that has to re-do it. Either way, I'll be able to do it better next time, because I had to deal with my own feelings about being good enough. And, I had to realize that sometimes work gets re-done and it's not because the do-er isn't good enough, but rather that the work isn't good enough. And, keep the focus on the work and not the person.

Ain't parenthood a wonderful adventure into our own childhood?



If you put your mind to it

There used to be a cheer when I was in high school...

You can do it, you can do it, if you put your mind to it.

I remember it from high school football games.

Well, we certainly put that to the test with this robe or cape or tent or whatever it is.

This is what Sydney wanted for a Halloween costume. She picked out the pattern. She picked out the color. She supervised the making. Unfortunately, sometime after I cut it out, zebra print became the new purple...but no going back by that time.

And, I can assure you, this is a well made garment. Lined with a polyester silky, purple sheet, the bottom is a faux wool looking oil based product fabric and the top is a velvet looking oil based product...let's face it, if she steps near a candle, she'll melt.

All that gold ribbon is home made on my Pfaff sewing machine.

Doesn't she look like she could work magic??

Seriously, she could sleep outside under this thing. And, it's plenty warm.

Many, many hours were sunk into the making of this costume, including the bound seam edge where the hood joins the cloak. So, what is it that makes a kid decide at the last minute that she's not going to wear it or hand out candy or anything else having to do with the day?

She was mad at me, and acting like she didn't want to wear what I made was her way of getting back at me, for making her do Spanish homework on Halloween. How dare I???

"I don't have Math. No teachers gave us homework cuz it's halloween. I'm tired of doing Spanish every day."

All I did...after making her finish the Spanish...but not checking it again last night because, well, what good was it going to do to make her do it again??? I knew she was focused on being mad at me and not the work and was doing a bad job of it on purpose. Normally, I'd have had her walk away and do something else, like shower, and come back to the Spanish when she was in a better frame of mind. A frame of mind to learn something. But, it was Halloween and I didn't want her at the dining table all night long. So, I relaxed a bit and let her be mad and let her sit there and pretend she didn't want to play halloween. And, eventually, after I said "really? I did all that work and you aren't going to even wear it?" she did get up and go put it on and then plomphed back on the couch with a big sigh.

Me, I just kept cutting tiny threads on my holiday quilt and by the time the second trick-or-treater had rung the bell, she was up and handing out candy.

Sometimes I just have to ignore the bad and only acknowledge the good. It all works out because I gave her TWO spanish assignments for tonight. And, I'm going to create a quiz on the periodic table.

Revenge is soooooo wickedly sweet.


Hope everyone has a great All Saints Day or Dio De Los Muertos.