And, I did it…

Friday was one of my better days.  I was so self confident that it was just a perfect feeling to the day. 

The only part I didn’t like is the disappointment of the sales guys that I didn’t buy from.  But, other than that, it was a great day.

And, here’s the lucky winner.


A 2012 Prius with a dove gray interior.  So far, I’m averaging 51 miles per gallon in town. 

Yesterday, I spent the morning in the car with the 5 owner’s manuals; learning what all the buttons did.  I picked Syd up from school Friday afternoon and she kept pointing at buttons and asking what they did and I kept answering that I didn’t know. 

Now, I do. 

Okay, so the review between the Prius and the Ford Fusion Hybrid.  The Fusion was a good ride, roomy, comfy, plush.  And, if I had been trying to buy a 2013, I would likely have bought it, even though the gas mileage is a little less than the Prius.  But, buying a 2012, and not being able to wait two weeks, I was left to choose between white outside and black outside, neither of which was what I wanted.  So, I went back to this one and am very glad I did.  Now, if I’d only gone for that one extra luxury and gotten the navigation system.  Oh, well.  You can’t have it all…you gotta have something to look forward to next time.

It’s been rainy and cool.  It’s feeling like Autumn around here and I’m certainly enjoying it.

Be well and have a great Sunday!  Let’s see, where can we go?



Bedtime stories

When I was little and had “outgrown” bedtime stories, I hadn’t actually outgrown them.  I started telling myself bedtime stories.  From my youngest memories, I have always called them bedtimes stories.

When I was little, they were about special days and not so special days and gave me a way to substitute events and characters to get the days to come out the way I wanted them to or to give me just the right day to anticipate.

As a teen, wanting just to be left alone like all teens do, my bedtimes stories were about the boy that ran away and lived in the hollowed out tree, all alone.  That one was inspired by a movie, the name of which I can’t recall.  Or, stories based on “The Omega Man” who was the last person left alive on earth, battling the forces of evil that came out at night…originally played by Charleton Heston, but substituting me in the lead role. 

As a young man, they began to include the perfect partner and the happy memories we would make, including raising children and owning a home and having good jobs, or better yet, being wealthy enough not to have to work.  Memories of a chauffeur and a Mercedes or a Jeep, and acres of land to live on and a second house in the best part of town. 

As I grew up, those stories influenced what I looked for in life and who I became without actually requiring me to measure my life against them, which would have been pretty frustrating.  They were my fantasies, my dreams, but not the reality.

But, they did help me figure out what kind of a partner I wanted in my life and how to handle some of the difficult relationships…Poof, you’re gone!

As I got older, I realized that the bedtime story wasn’t what helped me to sleep, but the focusing of my mind on a single train of thought that allowed my restless brain to settle down and move into the sleep state. 

Last night, I woke up in the middle of the night and was having trouble getting back to sleep.  And, I found myself trying to focus on a bedtime story so I could get back to sleep and not yawn in the middle of one of today’s meetings.  I actually envisioned myself flipping through my stories as if they were on a rolodex, looking at one and deciding that it wasn’t what I wanted.  Or trying to fantasize about one and finding I couldn’t keep my mind on it.  My mind kept drifting back to reality.  And, reality is very busy right now, with lots of stuff going on in addition to our regular lives.  There was plenty of stuff for my mind to drift back to. 

Eventually, I found the right fantasy, Rob and Sydney and the dogs and cats and me, all moving to the country; big white house, red barn, Sydney in a small school where academics and 4H were the main focus instead of…whatever crap city kids are into; where she could ride horses and Rob and I could work the land and feed us and make enough money raising chickens and eggs to keep us in gas and necessities. 

Fantasy.  It’s the stuff that life is made of.  The dream that you’d have, if you could have anything in the world.  Stuff to measure real life against to make sure that real life is working the way you want it to.  Who would you take with you on a fantasy?  Would it be the family you have or the family you want?  Would you be on a deserted island, all alone, or fighting off zombies in the big city, trying to rescue orphan human children before they can be turned? 

Or, would it be sitting in your sewing room all day, making quilts and clothes and happiness?  It’s kind of like that game; who would you most like to have dinner with, living or dead?

I hope I never get too old for fantasies, or for bedtime stories.  Who knows, you may even be in one…

Be well and have a great Thursday.  Tomorrow is new car for Lane day.  A man on a mission.  One day to bring 7 months of thinking and shopping and comparing to a final end.  I’m approved for my loan, I’ve narrowed the search to two cars and two dealers.  I’ve test driven one of the cars and tomorrow, I test drive the other.  And, then I have to make the call.  Just me.  Nobody to help me decide.  Nobody to blame if I end up hating the car in 6 months.  That’s a lot of weight and likely has something to do with me seeing the clock at 1:30, 2:30 and 3:30 this morning.  Thank goodness there was that farm in the country to go to so I could get back to sleep.



I drove a Toyota Prius yesterday

It is time for a new car.  I really need to just buck up and go do it.  So, Rob and I had the afternoon and I went and drove one at a dealership.  This is a car I can afford.  I don’t need the options that were in the one we drove yesterday and that brings it right down into my price range.

I had hoped to buy a slightly used one but they retain their value pretty well and the slightly used ones are almost as much as a new one is. 

It’s really a change from the Taurus, with its 6 cylinder engine and huge passenger compartment.  It took a few minutes to get used to having to actually push the gas pedal to get the car to go; if the Taurus is in gear, then the car is in motion.  But, it will be nice to more than double my miles per gallon.  And, I only commute in the car.  Our luxury vehicle is Rob’s big manly F150 pickup. 

The dealership we went to yesterday was really messed up.  They don’t have a show room and their salesmen were sitting outside in the heat and I felt sorry for the heavy guy that was helping us because I made him walk all over the lot, looking for the color I wanted with the options I wanted.  But, hey, he’s the one that told me they had it on the lot.  And, he’s the one that found out, after we’d walked all over, that they didn’t.

And, if your dealership is all messed up, then you should be offering deals, right?  Something to compensate for the inconvenience?  But, there’s a dealership up north that is offering better prices and they called me last night and we scheduled an appointment for me to go meet someone and receive the VIP treatment on Friday morning.  Me and the VIP treatment.  Who’da figured, huh?

Now, I need to get with the LQS and see what we can do about getting my classes to happen.  It would be really nice to have that bit of extra income every month if I’m going to have a car payment. 

And, I need to just settle down because life happens at its own pace and I can’t make it rush, no matter how hard I try. 

Be well and have a great Wednesday. 



Things progress

Things move forward until they don’t.  And, life is a road with straight-aways and curves and freeways and school zones.  And, like traffic, it moves when it wants to move, and stops when it has to.  And, you can want to speed on by, but if you do, there’s always something or someone to stop you. 

So, that bit of mental drift is brought on by hand quilting.


If you take on a hand quilting project, you have to be ready to take it slow and steady.  You don’t want to be racing through it.  But, I like to see progress, too.  Unfortunately, just the basic work in one of these blocks takes me about three and a half hours.  Later, I’ll come back and do some background fill and I’ll do something in the sashing.  But, slow and steady always wins the race. 

You can see my sunbonnet needle case pinned to the quilt.  It has scissors and thread and usually my thimble, except the quilting thimble I bought recently rusts on the inside and I need to paint it with fingernail polish because I get a kind of a gross, rusty brown stain on the end of my middle finger that looks most unattractive.  And, it takes several washings to wear off.  And, it can’t be good for me.

Here’s a picture of the area in front of the TV in my sewing room all cleaned up.


Me like-y.  I’ve had all my UFO’s piled here in what seemed an out of the way place.  But, as my UFO pile got bigger, it wasn’t so out of the way anymore. 

Okay, I’m going to show you this, but you’re not allowed to think badly of me.  This is what it looked like a few days ago.  Yes, that is the same space.


Be well everybody.  If I find a lamp with a Genie in it, I’m going to wish for patience.  Go with the flow.  If it’s not all right, then it’s not the end.

Be well.  Lane


then it's not the end.

We watched a most wonderful movie this weekend that has left me in a very reflective mood.  The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.  I've been thinking about courage to try new things, and never being too old to try, and how our definition of ourselves can change.

There's a line in the movie that I'm thinking about adopting as a new theory on life.

Everything will be all right in the end...if it's not all right, then it's not the end.

What could be more true?

This weekend, I started one of those baby quilts I need to make; a log cabin with relatively large blocks.  I've forgotten about the basics of making a log cabin.  Maybe because I've never made one that was really traditional.  As I've gone, I've made some mistakes, with a neutral that was too dark and a couple of darks that were too light. A few seams to rip.  But, in the end, it will be all right.  I've been making it on my white featherweight, that I've named Alba Tross (as in the ryme of the ancient mariner) because she'd been dropped before I got her and I spent countless hours bringing her back up to "par".  And, when I pulled her out this time, there was something wrong and I couldn't quite put my finger on it.  There was a clicking sound and some hesitation when I'd push the foot pedal and things just didn't feel right.  I kept sewing, hoping it would all be right and maybe the new motor just needed to settle in or something and finally deciding she was not the machine to take to a class.

While I sewed yesterday, something popped off her and flew by my ear and I heard it hit the floor. When I pushed the pedal that time, the motor hummed, but the machine didn't move.  So, I looked down and there was a little screw on the floor.  It was the screw that holds the cap that holds the belt that connects the motor to the handwheel and when I put it back in and tightened it up, everything was all right again; no clicking and the motor was completely responsive to the foot pedal.  Now, she's sewing like a charm.  One tiny little screw.

Mariner's compass class yesterday was cancelled.  No one signed up.  Turned out okay because Sydney had a basketball game and I was there at the beginning.  Their best game so far.  Real teamwork and they scored more points than in any of the other games and Sydney played all but the last 3 minutes.  The girl's got stamina and can run the court for the whole game without much of a rest.

The satellite receiver in the sewing room is dying a very painful (for me at least) death.  My favorite shows are too distorted to watch and it keeps locking up.  Rob says we keep our equipment much longer than most people because we take really good care of it.  Rob takes care of all our customer service interactions because he does that at work and is really good at it (no, you don't understand, he's REALLY good at it and can sweet talk them out of so much stuff for free...would you please transfer me to cancellations?).  The DVR will be free, but he couldn't talk them into mailing it to us.  An installer will be there tomorrow.  And, that meant time out of the day to clean the sewing room.  I read Bonnie's blog and she cleaned her sewing room on Saturday and she was so excited, and that was contagious.  So when we got home from taking Syd for a haircut, I got started and knocked it out of the ball park.  Weird thing is, I found so much underutilized space.  I just didn't have time to rearrange, but I'm going to start working on that because I need the space and didn't know I had it.  Anyway, you couldn't get near the TV in there because there was so much stuff piled in front of it on the floor.  That meant that when the remote was lost, there was no entertainment for me.  That's all gone now and the installer can get right where I need him to get to and I even dusted for him.  Yes, I dust for repairment and don't dust just because it needs to be done.

Behind every quilter there stands...

a sink full of dirty dishes.

Be well and have a great Monday.  Today is picture day at school and the Syglet looked great on her way out.  She isn't enjoying the priviledge or straightening or curling irons, so she's looking especially terrific lately. 

(Yes, we know that taking the irons is cruel and in-humane punishment.  But it's such a great attention grabber that I can't help but use it when I need some help getting her undivided attention.)



Oh, happy day

Sometimes, you just need a pick-me-up; kick in the butt; get over your sorry behind; be happy; get real; get with it; grow up; big boy boxers moment.


I hope you can link from here to this joyful song.  I play it over and over when I just need a bit of inspiration.

Be well.  Lane


Capital of Texas Quiltfest

So, you all know that we videotape everything, and still not enough things.  Sometimes, you don't know that something is worth taping until it's too late to get the camera out.  Those times are for memories.  But, Saturday was for befuddlement.  But, I have this video of the show to remember it by.  And, all the pictures I took, which I'm hoping to get through this weekend.

At about four and a half minutes in, you'll see Sydney leading me to my Christmas Tree quilt with my eyes close.  And, just after that, we go to the First Inspired quilt. 

The rest is us walking around the rest of the show and a couple of times, Rob sneaking over to one of my quilts and interviewing people.

Right after I see the Christmas Tree quilt, you'll see our dear friend LD with her walker and then a lady walks up and tells us that she won two years ago.  That lady is the co-owner of the shop I teach at.  I think she also entered for the first quilt she'd ever put in a show.

Okay, so have fun.  While it's fun to see the other quilts, it is a relatively long video at 30 minutes, but if you just wanna see us, we don't take up too much of that.

Be well.  Lane



Shiver me timbers.  Did you know it was national talk like a pirate day?  Either talk like a pirate or walk the plank ye land lubbers.

The fact that they spent valuable news time on that this morning makes me uneasy.

Anyway, Algebra is magic could have been the other title for the post.  Sydney got a difficult extra credit problem in Algebra class yesterday.  And, I helped her work it.  No, I didn’t work it for her.  I started by drawing a chart and asking her if she could come up with a math problem that would explain the chart.  She did that on her own.  Then, I walked her through how to work the math problem, explaining how algebra works, as we went.  Lots and lots of explaining.

At first, she didn’t want to participate and just kept telling me that “you can’t do that”.  And, then I made her spit out her gum and made her pay attention and within a few minutes, she had it.  And, when she got the answer, I saw the light in her eyes.  And, I said “Algebra is magic.”

I asked this morning if she could work the problem on the blackboard without her piece of paper and she said no.  But, when I asked her questions about each component of how we worked the problem, she was able to do that. 

I wanted her to get the overall concept and I feel good that she understands the concept.  And, now, we’ll practice.  I can come up with lots of problems for her to work through, focusing on different parts of algebra.

But, I have to go slow.  Too much and she shuts down.  But, if I give it to her in short little repetitive bursts, she’ll catch it and remember it.  And, that’s what it’s all about.

High school is different than middle school.  In middle school, they covered the same thing over and over until the kids memorized it.  In high school, they cover it once and expect you to take good notes that you can use to study the concept and learn it outside of class.  I am that outside of class for her.  And, I regularly make her add important details to her notes.  I don’t find the details.  I just explain that what she has written isn’t enough.  And, then make her pick out the important facts that she needs to include.

Every day.  Day in and day out, we go through that binder, reading the notes.  Making sure she can tell the difference between what is important and what is just fluff.

Okay, everyone, have a great Wednesday.  I am off to work.  Hi-ho, hi-ho and all that rot.

Be well.  Lane


The judges feedback

I should have called this post, the quilt that refuses to be photographed.  Lessons learned about that?  Next time, I won’t color match the thread to the fabric.  I think that is why it just doesn’t photograph.  If I had it to do again, I’d try for a lighter shaded silk and a darker shaded thread.  I want to do one in gold fabric and brown thread.


The first picture shows the right color and the second one shows the detail. 
The judge said:

Excellent visual impact

Well balanced design

Appropriate use of embroidery/embellishment

Fabric well chosen for design

Color well chosen for design

Good choice of design and style of quilting

Quilting is evenly distributed and well done

Excellent execution of a difficult binding
I used a knife edge for this, tucking both the front and the back to the inside, so there is no separate binding added. 

Quilt is flat and even without distortion

If only she knew how much work I put into making that happen.

Written comments:

Whole cloth is exquisite, designed and proportional.  It is luminous.

Things to improve were

Quilting stitches should be uniform.

I think that’s because I did some with the walking foot and the stitches are bigger there.   Or, maybe she saw where sometimes I was more relaxed and my stitches were bigger and sometimes, I was stressed and the stitches get tiny.


I don’t think I ever showed what I ended up putting in the greek key border.  I filled half of it with more fern fronds. 


That’s another shot of the area around the central ferns.

Okay, so enough of that. 

Be well. 


The day after the prize

You all know how I’m always writing about what the next day was like.  Well, that’s what this post is about.
Saturday was such a high.  I could not have been happier or more proud.  I have gotten so much email and I’m doing my best to answer each one.  It was a very special feeling.

And, then yesterday, I woke up to bills and a bathroom that needed cleaning and errands and a basketball game and a trip to the grocery.  Not a special day. 

I spent part of the day actually feeling bad about that.  And, when Rob and I headed out, I tried to explain it to him.  And, I summed it up with “it’s days like today that make days like yesterday possible.”

And, he seconded that by saying that the regular days make the special days feel special. 

In the evening, we went to Sydney’s basketball game and once again, I was reminded that every day is a special day, they just don’t all feel as wonderful and you can’t get distracted in every one and forget about all the other stuff that’s going on. 

Rob gave me the chance to skip that basketball game and go back to the quilt show and stand behind people and listen  to what they were saying about my quilts. 

But, after what Sydney had said on Saturday about my quilts, how could I even consider missing her basketball game.  Missing a chance to brag on her and cheer her on. 

So, I was there and from the game, I went back to the auditorium and picked up my quilts and picked up the judges comments.  More on that later.  My only disappointment is that my ribbons got creased when they packed them up.  Drat!  But, can they keep that crease in this Texas humidity.

We’ve had rain, rain, glorious rain. 

Friday night, Sydney and I pin basted her quilt so I can start quilting it soon and yesterday, I thread basted the Dresden Plate quilt so I can start on it.  And, because yesterday was so distracting and because I couldn’t sit still, I also started knitting a pair of gloves for me.  I’ve always wanted to knit a pair of gloves. 

Now, I can. 

One pair only.  Just to say I did. 

Today, I get to take the quilts to work and show them off.  Tomorrow, Rob does.  I am as well known at his office as a quilter as I am at my own.  Maybe better.

Be well and have a great Monday!  I wish I’d scheduled today off, just to sit alone and rest.  The adrenaline burn has left me exhausted.



One, two, three

We had the best time at the quilt show.  I didn’t even spend much money, so I’m not feeling a lot of quilt-show-vendor-mall or guild boutique guilt. 

We walked the whole show in just under two hours.  I don’t think we tired LD out.  She went with us and I tried to be ever mindful not to waste time.

First place ribbon for Special Occasion Quilts, made by 1 person, all sizes.


Do I look a little bit weird in that picture?  Yeah…kinda deer in a headlight…oh, crap, this quilt actually won a ribbon! 

I won a ribbon!

First place ribbon for Other Techniques, all sizes.


Yeah, that’s me, again.  Different quilt

Oh, but that bit of purple over my shoulder?  See that?  Overall Award for Machine Quilting, made by 1 person, small size. 


I’ve named them, one, two and three.

Okay, so I look downright stupid in that last picture.  It’s because by that time, I was. 

These were the ribbons I was given to walk around in, while the official ones stayed on the quiltes.  A white glove lady helped me pin them to my shirt and all morning long, people walked by and congratulated me.  And, I kept losing Sydney and turned out, she was going back to my quilts, listening to what people said about them, and then saying “My dad made that”.  She said she knew how we feel when she wins a game or makes a good grade and we brag on her.  Rob was glowing and LD watched us all in delight and every time she’d stop, she’d tell somebody that she was with a man that had won three ribbons for two quilts.  And, they all kept bringing people over and introducing them to me.  Or, we’d turn a corner and they’d reach out to some stranger and say, “this is Lane Wilhite”.  I smiled so much my face hurts.

And, I could not help standing behind people and listening to what they whispered to one another, and sometimes, I’d even tell them who I was. 

I kept thinking that standing and eavesdropping on people was a terrible thing to do.  But, I just couldn’t help myself.

Be well.  I need a nap.  I am overwhelmed. 

I know the meaning of “My cup runneth over.”



Diligently working on Mariner’s compass blocks

I’m teaching a Mariner’s Compass class on 09/23.  The other day, I woke up and thought, where are the instructions for that class?

I looked.  Nope.

I looked some more.  Nope.

Okay, so the only piece of paper I had handy was a scrap of freezer paper and I can only assume that I threw it away as a scrap of freezer paper instead of the important documentation it was. 

While I was writing this, I thought of another place to try.  Nope.

So, I gotta draft another compass block this weekend and write the instructions again.  Yeah, me…

Actually, it’s not a problem.  It drafts up really fast and I don’t actually need to make it with fabric.  I have two class samples hanging on the wall at the shop. 

But, I remember that after I’d made the first one and the second one, and while I was making the third one, I was really going to need a good set of written instructions to draft the block, because it is so easy to draft a completely different compass without meaning to.  Course, I guess that wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world.  But, still, I tend to skip things and have to go back and do them at less convenient times.

This is Sydney’s batik quilt top that she wants me to quilt. 


She’s been very clear that she doesn’t want me to “over” quilt it.  Just something loose, or let her tie it.  Which I might do.  I posted this today because I’m really trying to keep a positive attitude about her today. 

She ran a scam yesterday and had to lie to all her emergency contacts to pull it off and the only thing I shouted was “how stupid do you think we are?”

Anyway, the only thing I can be thankful for is that she’s a terrible liar and hopefully we’ll discourage her from trying instead of training her to do it better.  It’s a delicate balancing line. 

It’s raining in Central Texas.  It rained a lot out by the lakes that supply our water around here.  That’s good because they’ve been so low from this drought.  And, it’s rained a nice, heavy, steady rain on my yard most of the night.  It can do that all day as far as I’m concerned.

Life is full, life is good.  I am thankful as I should.

The thing that made me most angry at Sydney?  This week was supposed to be about me.  Weeks and weeks and weeks have been all about her.  This was my week, culminating in the show on Saturday.  And, she distracted the attention from me.  I know exactly how selfish that sounds.  But, I’ll bet you a dollar that I’m not the only parent that ever felt like that.

Okay, that is enough “dear diary” moment for me.

Is anyone watching the new TV series, The New Normal?  Great show about a gay family trying to get started.  Comedy.  But, truthful.

Have a great Friday.



Completed and pressed

I laid out the Dresden Plate quilt this morning.  May be named, All By Hand.  Or, maybe something better will occur to me in the months it will take me to hand quilt it. 
After it was refolded and I was hanging it on the hanger, I thought…I shouldda measured that so I could start the back.  Duh!
I have a few wedges left over and I think I’ll use them on the back, maybe around the label or something.  And, there are a few that are just too stained or rotted to use.  I’m trying to come up with ways to cut the good parts out of the fabric on those and piece them into one additional wedge.  Now, that should be plenty of warm finger work for this winter.  Plan is to quilt around the circles and around each wedge and then ditch around the squares and cross hatch in the squares.  Maybe a little something with leaves or vines for the sashing.  Or, maybe leave it blank. 
And, here are the fabrics for that baby quilt. 
In a pattern similar to this
But, using the green in the background where the Pond Mountain quilt is off-white.  And, not nearly so densely quilted.

Okay, that’s enough prattling on for the day. 

I’m really worried about what’s going on in the Middle East right now.  And, all I can do is watch and pray that all ends well.

Be well.  Lane


And, the next day,

I cleaned.

Okay, ever thought about how many of life's events end like that? 

Picnics...And, then, we cleaned up.

Vacation...And, the next day, I did laundry all day.

Christmas dinner...It took me two days to get all the dishes put away and all the linens washed and folded.

Christmas tree...And, the next day, we picked pine needles out of the carpet.

Quilt show...And, the next day, I tried to put everything back where it belonged.

I spent all my sewing time this morning trying to find the floor and the cutting mat in the sewing room.  They were both buried under a coating of quilt show debris.  I found rulers and I found scraps and I found my extra rotary cutter that's been missing for a week.  I found at least 13 pair of scissors because every time I needed scissors, they'd been covered with something, so I'd go to the drawer and pull out another pair.  (Yes, I have a drawer full of scissors, some better than others.)  I found the fabric for a modern baby quilt.  (Is there anything wrong with a green and black and white baby quilt?  I haven't decided yet.)  I found 15 spools of loose thread, floating around the room.  And, four cones of serger thread that I didn't remember I had.  It seemed that every pile had a threaded hand sewing needle stuck in it, just waiting for an unprotected foot or hand to find the dull end of.  Every flat surface had a seam ripper. 

Yes, I was busy.  Too busy to clean.  But, now, it's getting nice and tidy in there and I'm planning my next projects.  Because without projects, Lane is a very dull boy.

That green and black and white baby quilt has the cutest pea green fabric, covered with very regular rows and columns of little white flowers that have black centers.  Very modern print.  And, I have three black and white fabrics to go with it that range from mostly white to mostly black.  It would be a very wonderful quilt and would be perfect for the very modern family that would be getting it.  But, there's just something about a baby quilt that has black fabric in it that gives me the willy's.  I have to make two baby quilts between now and year's end.  I'm just starting to plan that now and haven't even picked a pattern, but I'm thinking of a log cabin in the barn raising pattern made from scraps as the other one.  The recipient there is a very traditional family and I think they'd love a brightly colored scrap quilt.  And, besides that, my 2" strip bin overfloweth.

I have two quilts to baste, one pin and one thread.  The thread one is the Dresden Plate quilt that I'm going to hand quilt.  By the time I finish that quilt, I will have had my fill of lemon yellow for a very long time as all the fabrics, except the plates, is light yellow...even the back.  And, so is the thread.  I may call it "yellow bombardment" even though it is not bright and was meant to be a "mellow yellow". 

And, Sydney made a batik quilt top that she wants me to quilt and I finally got around to piecing the back...because by the time she'd finished the top, she just wasn't up to piecing the back, so it has hung in the sewing room for over a year.  I'd like to get that done before it's cool enough to need it.

As far as piecing?  I still have 12 Mariner's compass blocks to make before I can start putting that quilt together...and only 5 months to do it.  And, I have some hand applique that I might pull out and work on.  That has languished for a while and is a great project for sitting in the sunroom, watching the sun come up. 

I need to make a list of all my projects that are started or planned.  I am sure it is more than I will ever complete.  I even have all the wool squares to make a very nice and masculine lap robe, with a lovely wool plaid backing.  Planned to tie that one or simple diagonal line, hand quilt it.  I cut all my old suits down to make it.  That would be a very quick and simple project to pick back up and finish.  Must be the time of year because I'm reading more and more from quilters that are pulling out their UFO's and giving them a good push toward completion.  I guess I'm ready to jump in, too. 

Hope you are well.  Hope your UFO pile is either manageable, or stored in a quiet place where it can't mock you. 

Our south Austin JoAnn's is moving locations.  Presumably, it will be a bigger store.  But, I have to tell you that if they set it up like the store up north, I won't likely go there for fabric.  Every time I've been to the north store, there's been an hour wait to get fabric cut.  Lines of people with carts full of fabric bolts, waiting in line like sheep.  I go to my local store because I've never waited in line more than 15 minutes to get fabric cut.  That little bit of customer courtesy, a store that is mindful of a customer's time, is so important.  I can get fabric off the internet for the same price or less and all I have to be is be willing to wait a few days to get it in my hands.  I can do that.

Okay, so that's my gripe for the day. 

Sydney is in an exceptionally receptive mood for help with her homework.  I guess she has been convinced that I am NOT going away and that she is going to have to show me schoolwork EVERY day.  Or, maybe she's running a scam.  You can never tell with a teenager.  So, I'm going to assume that she's being up front and wait a while to see if she makes an ass out of u and me.  She still argues that the math problems are right and every time I find one that's wrong, she says "the teacher worked it for us and I know that's right."  No.  It's not.  I'll be sunk when she goes from algebra to geometry because I don't remember how to do that.  Maybe I should take a class at the community college now, so I can be ready. 

Take care.  Lane


Packing for the show

It’s funny.  I’m only nervous about getting the quilts into the show and qualified for judging.  I’m not nervous about the judging at all.  My mentor has given me written feedback on my quilts for a long time, so I’m familiar with that part of it and am looking forward to the comments of a new set of eyes and ideas of what is important.  Winning a ribbon would be nice, but it’s just the icing on a cake.  Having the courage to actually get them in the show is the real win for me this time.

So, how are they packed?

Well, the labels had to be covered with muslin.



which I apparently did not take a picture of.  The muslin is to cover the name of the maker for judging.

Then, I cut two pool noodles to just longer than the quilts were wide and covered them with muslin bags that had drawstrings on each end.  The muslin I’m using is really good vintage pillow muslin that is very densely woven.  Rob reminded me to add my name to them.


Then, the quilts got rolled onto the noodles.


And, stuffed in really long bags.


Theoretically, this should let the quilts hang nice and flat, with no creases from being folded. 

But, it’s not what the instructions say to do, so just in case they don’t like it, I also made bags according to the instructions and am taking them, in my backpack.


So, now, they’re waiting at the door and I’m going to work for a bit and try to avoid a line of quilters trying to get quilts turned in before work by working at home for a bit longer and then I’ll head off to the auditorium to get them turned in. 

You may now call me overachiever.

The sewing room is a wreck.  And, even though I’ve done my best to spend family time, I’ve been distracted.  But, after today, there’s nothing else to do except wait for Saturday, when we’re going to the show.

Be well.  Despite my giddiness, today is a day to remember those taken in an attack on civilians.  I remember what I was doing that day.  I remember that I called my Mom and talked to her because I didn’t know when we’d be able to talk again since phone lines were all tied up.  Now, Sydney is learning about it and had to read and summarize a news article last night.  We worked on it together and her work was better for it.  But, when I asked her what the article meant, she was spot on about what was happening today, in the effort to get medical coverage for those that are still being affected physically.



I wonder

how many of Austin’s sewing rooms and quilting studios looked like this yesterday? 


Somehow, I don’t think I was the only one.

I did my best to stay ahead of the game, but yesterday, I still had labels to make and pool noodles to cover, and bags to make, all before I could turn my quilts in tomorrow.  I have a half of a label to sew down and I will be ready to pack them up.  I guess I’ve made it.

I guess I really never doubted it, except a few minutes yesterday when I realized I was re-making stuff that I decided wasn’t good enough.

Saturday I did repairs in Sydney’s shower, and then we had errands and then Sydney had her first basketball game for the weekend league she’s in, and then we took her out for Thai…because they lost the game so badly and nobody would pass Sydney the ball…because she’s a wild shooter who doesn’t take time to aim.  But, I didn’t say that.

Overall, it was a pretty good day, except about 3 minutes of very unsportsmanlike conduct.

Then, there was Sunday, and I barely came out of the sewing room.  Oh, I did about an hour of cooking and cleaning around supper time and we did the grocery shopping.  But, other than that, it was pretty quiet, except for the hum of sewing machines and the hiss of the iron hitting the misted water.

Be well.  I’ll share the quilts, all packaged up, tomorrow.  Lane


Hits and misses

My excapade into bad behavior from last Friday seems to have passed without comment.  Maybe I headed it off with an apology early on Tuesday.

Sydney has had a good week.  Everyone is happy.  Last weekend seems to have made an impression.  Last night’s homework involved watching a video about families that sit down for dinner together.  Apparently, twenty years ago, 60% of families had dinner together.  And, now, just 20%.  I hope that’s not true.  But, it did seem to create a very festive atmosphere during our dinner.  Or, maybe that was just because it was Rob’s favorite meal; Swiss Steak and mashed potatoes…and brussel’s sprouts for me.

I didn’t get any hand sewing done yesterday.  All my time was spent on prep work to hand sew.  I got the last two borders pinned on the Dresden Plate quilt and that took all my time.  My only other sewing is still working on those machine embroidered labels.  I bet you wish I’d just shut up and show you what they look like, eh?  No.  But, I will show you the practice piece.


So, at least you know what I’m attempting. 

I was walking through the garden and my bad spots are really showing.  Places where the summer plant is dying back and the fall plant is just starting or where there’s nothing for the fall.  I grow things in pots for that because now, I can move in some great pots to fill and add color to an otherwise empty spot.  But, I haven’t had the chance to move them this week.  Maybe early tomorrow morning?  And, it’s time to take some cuttings to root for next year.  The broccoli and cauliflower seedlings are up and about ready to be transplanted into bigger pots before going to the garden.

Life is full, life is good.  I am thankful as I should.

And, I can confidently say that yes, my family is better off than it was three and a half years ago.  Four years ago, we were rolling in the high cotton.  Three and a half years ago, I lost a whole bunch of my retirement and watched friends lose their jobs.  Now, those friends are all working again, many of them for the same companies that let them go before, and my retirement account is happier and better diversified. 

Still being careful about the money we spend, but I’m not so sure whether that’s just part of growing up, or if it is affected by the economy.  I know that some families haven’t gotten the full effect of the recovery yet.  I hope that one day we can all enjoy the right of prosperity again.

Anyway, that’s it for Friday.  Lane


Random thoughts

My first bike was blue.  It was long and low, nothing like my second bike, which was high and short from wheel to wheel and had U shaped handle bars.  The blue bike had training wheels and it’s not so much the bike that I’ve been remembering.  Not sure what put training wheels in my mind.  Maybe someone’s blog or something on TV. 

I can remember when I was ready to take the training wheels off.  As a compromise, my Dad raised them so they weren’t both in contact with the ground at the same time.  To ride it that way, I had to learn balance.  But, there was always the safety of those extra wheels on either side to keep me from toppling over.  And, then, my Dad raised them higher and I had to learn more balance, but was still safe.  And, then one day, I remember that he took them off and held the back of the bike as I rode up and down the driveway.  And, then I was off on my own. 

Not sure how long it was before I got the purple bike.  I remember waking on Christmas morning and finding it standing next to the tree.  I also can’t remember if that was the year that my sister got her pink bike that was almost the same, but had an extra bar that ran from seat to front wheel.  We called it a sissy bar because if a boy fell astride it, he would have been injured.  Weird, tho, because if a girl fell astride it, she would have been injured, too, but in a different way.  That was one thing that separated the sexes that no one needed.  What boy was going to ride a pink bike?  The sissy bar was redundant.  M’s pink bike also had pink and silver streamers that hung from the hand grips and a white basket with flowers that hung on the handlebars.  I envied the basket, but not the flowers.  They should have made a more masculine basket because that would have been so convenient for transporting the stuff that boys needed, like toy soldiers and plastic guns in holsters.

I rode the purple bike for a very long time and can remember all us kids, riding in circles out in front of the houses, talking to one another.  We could have sat on the ground in a circle and talked, but how much more fun was it to ride in circles and talk.

I wonder what we talked about.

I did pretty good last night on our shopping expedition.  Hot pink t-shirt from Hobby Lobby.  Black basketball shorts from the men’s department at Academy, because “those girl shorts are all booty shorts”.  Hey, she said it, not me.  And, two sports foundation garments; one hot pink and one black.  Hey, everything has to coordinate now.  When did that happen?  I can remember sending her back for stripes and plaids in green and yellow.

I was a man on a mission, get in, get out, try it on, keep it moving, marching from store to store; quickstep.  Keeping them moving.  Hup-two, hup-two.  And, then we had a nice bar-b-que dinner.  Rob’s was free because I had filled my frequent diner punch card.

I love punch cards. 

I machine embroidered the quilt name on the first two labels.  Still a lot more to do and frustrating for someone that almost never uses that software.  And, I got another border sewn on the Dresden Plate quilt, fulfilling my goal for yesterday’s hand sewing with Bonnie.

Be well.  Have a great Thursday.  The heat is supposed to break on Saturday.  Hopefully that will mean the end of 100* days in this part of Texas.



So few words, so much meaning

These words knocked me down this afternoon.  They came from our friend LD. 

You all make me feel as if  there is still a place for me on this earth.  Too often, seniors get to feeling that there is nothing more for them.  Thank you for the gift of your friendship.

They were part of her Thank you note for the help we gave her on Saturday.  Two hours of work and we took her to lunch.  We did so little.  But it was so appreciated.  And the pride I feel about that effort, made by my little family, has left me sitting here at my desk in tears.  And, there's a physical tug between my eyes and my heart. 

I am at risk of a bruise from patting myself on the back.  And, when I get home, there's going to be a group hug. 

I just can't get over how little it takes to make a difference. 

Emotions on overdrive.


Stuff and nonsense

Okay, I know where that came from.  I’m listening to one of my favorite book series on audiobook.  The Amelia Peabody series of fictional mysteries by Elizabeth Peters.  And, I’ll tell you that the printed word is not nearly as interesting as Barbara Rosenblat’s reading of them.  She gives each character a distinct voice and a level of interest that just has no comparison.  Each book is about 15 hours of unabridged audio and I’m up to book 11.  Now that I can download it to my iphone, I can take this amazing lady anywhere. 

Amelia Peabody Emerson is the wife of a famous British archeologist working in Egypt at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th.  If you’ve ever seen The Mummy, she reminds me of the female lead in that movie. 

Anyway, so that’s stuff.  And, other stuff, is anybody else doing Bonnie’s challenge for hand sewing?  Okay, so an hour a day is a bit more than I can commit to, but I am getting all of it in that I can.  I’m sewing the borders on that Dresden plate quilt.  One border down, three to go.  But, I think I should get double credit because they’re, like, 68 inches long. 

Stuff is stuff.  Yesterday, I started the day with a commitment to be humble.  I started with an apology and moved right through the day after that.  And, nothing changed.  But, that stuff is over and I am over it, too.

Nonsense is the rule of the day; if you’re watching the political scene in the U.S. right now.  Heavens.  If the forefathers could have seen what we are seeing now, would they have made the office of president a 2 week stay so that there would be so much turnover that no one could ever take credit or blame anyone for anything that happened?  Or, would they have just given up and gone home and given the country back to the Native Americans?

No more Jubilee blocks for a while.  Right now, I’m focused on quilt labels.  Tammy suggested I make them with my Pfaff Creative embroidery/monogramming software and while the thought of it scared me witless, I’ve done a lot of practice work and prep, and am ready for the challenge.  But, this week, it’s time to put the stitching on the actual labels and I’m a bit reticent about trying that.  Not sure why.  They’re going to be great.  But, still, there’s that soft voice in the back of my head…”what if you mess them up?”  Nonsense.  Bosh.  Balderdash.

Be well.  Have a great Wednesday.  We have tonight to get a hot pink t-shirt for Sydney’s weekend basketball league.  Yay, us.  We love last minute shopping. 



Two more Jubilee blocks

Well, I managed to finish two more blocks. 


I also managed to re-block the Christmas quilt for the show, this time, in an actual square. 


But, I’m starting to suspect that this quilt isn’t actually square and that’s why I’m having so much trouble.  I think one side is longer than the other.  Too bad, too, but I did the best I could to square it and pin it down and now, it at least gives the illusion of squareness…although you can’t tell it in this picture because I can’t get a square on shot of it.

Anyway, all is right in the household.  People are happy.  Stress levels are reduced.  And, a new week begins with all the adventures that it will bring.

I’m not so worried about my outburst at work.  I have a tendency to grab onto things that are bad and make them much worse…that whole tempest in a teapot syndrome.  Whatever I’ve done, a few well placed apologies always sages hurt feelings. 

Be well and have a great Tuesday.  Seven days until I have to turn my quilts in to the show committee. 



Community service is good for the soul

Saturday, I was feeling low.  It came across in the blog post.  But, we had the perfect plans.  I had planned to go to our friend LD and help her organize her home office.  When she was diagnosed with cancer for the third time, she decided she wasn’t ending life filing paperwork.  And, then, when they told her she was in remission again, OOPS!  Or, as she put it, Oh, crap.  I don’t know where to start.

I decided to drag my little penitent along and let her clean LD’s apartment while we worked.  And, Rob as guard.  The explanation; you are doing a consequence for a bad decision (rough housing with the boy at school) and the attitude with which you do it will determine how much there is to do.  Even though you’re doing a punishment, I expect you to behave with all the grace and good attitude that you always show around LD.

And, she did.  It was a thing of beauty to watch her work with a smile on her face.  Oh, how I wish she’d do that around here.

The phone stuff, Rob and I talked, and we talked, and we figured out exactly what we wanted to say and he said it.  And, her reactions were genuine.  And, even though the school principal’s attitude is “how can you tell a teenager is lying?  they’re talking.” and even though we were lied to aplenty in the beginning, we’ve come to trust Sydney’s words because we’ve taught her that words are deeds and are the mark of the person.  She took responsibility for the right stuff, understood the right stuff, and was genuinely surprised at what the boy texted.  You can’t fake that kind of surprise.  So, instead of locked down to just emergency contacts, we’re going back to what we had in place last year.  Contacts in her phone are limited to people we’ve met.  And, we have it locked down to contacts.  And, deleting all your text messages before you turn in the phone looks suspicious, so stop doing it, or we’ll lock it down to emergency contacts.  Don’t text anything you’d be ashamed for us to see.

So, Sydney and I feel better and we’re all enjoying the holiday weekend. 

I made these two blocks. 


The one on the right is the one I struggled with so much last week.  And, even now, I’m not happy with it.  The colors are fine, but the construction is a disaster…even though most of the points do meet.  Most.

And, I’ve been working on borders for the Dresden Plate quilt.   I’ve made a lot of progress on it this year and it’s all hand done, so lots of time shows little progress.  But, the borders came out so good that I want to surprise you with them when they’re on the quilt top. 

I could easily have made the Dresden Plate quilt my Jubilee quilt, so I guess, in reality, I have two really special quilts this year that are both in my Jubilee year. 

And, I’m still proceeding with the quilts for the show.  The Christmas quilt is re-blocked and square.  Somehow, I let the sides get off by a half inch and it looked more wonky than it was.  I’m working on labels, too and then the bags they have to be delivered in.  Slow progress means fewer mistakes.

And, with that, I’m off to do some finger work in the sun room.  I should be cleaning in the sunroom as there is a litter of leaves and potting soil.  But, no. 

Be well and have a great holiday if you’re having one or a great Monday if not.



And, it kept getting worse from there

Okay, I’m allowing myself one platitude.  We’re better off than most parents of teens.

And, we are better off because we maintain such diligence. 

It ended yesterday in a rage at work.  Not that I screamed at anyone and not that anyone noticed, but I balled up my fist and smacked myself in the flat of my other hand three times, which someone likely heard.  And anyone that walked by could not have missed my bald red head, undoubtedly glowing like a beacon and surpassing the bright florescent lights.   Oh, and the people that were copied on the email.  The guy that made me so angry, his boss, and her boss.  Bad form to copy someone’s bosses boss, eh?  Yep, it is.  I’ve gone back and read it.  No bad language, no outright sarcasm.  Just a very bold and demanding request to fix a process that I haven’t been able to get anything done about for two years along with a really good suggestion for how to do that.  Tone’s not too bad.  It’s what I was feeling when I wrote it, most of which I did not convey in the final draft, that leaves me feeling regret.  I didn’t even call the process stupid.  But, just that loss of control, after so many years of working to keep my anger in check, led to a very restless night.  If regret could change the facts, they would already be different.  Given that my only choices are to live up to the mistake or to commit hari-kari, I’ve surrendered to a likely “talking to” on Tuesday.  Not the first.  Probably not the last.  I am an emotional over-achiever. 

And, please, this is not the time to tell me to let things roll off my back.  This blog isn’t about someone that can do that.  It’s about someone that can’t let it roll off his back, has to deal with what he feels, and about what he does next. 

On Tuesday, the purple tank top got worn to school, with the white sweater over it.  I found out that, despite the promise to wear the white sweater all day, it didn’t happen.  Still torn between taking the tank, or taking the scissors to the tank.  I’d gladly waste $5 on that lesson.

Wednesday, we got feedback about inappropriate physical rough housing with the boys at school.  She is a draft horse that thinks of herself as a teacup poodle and she does not realize how physically intimidating her size is and she doesn’t know her own strength.  She lacks the ability to moderate her behavior.  She’s even gotten too rough with me in play, without the ability to see that as the mistake it truly is, bearing the consequences it always does.

She’s been texting a boy from school.  A couple of boys, in fact.  Wasn’t too worried about that.  Except I found out last night that one is 18.  Rob heard the shouted “but I didn’t KNOW he was 18” that was my response to “you knew I’d been texting him” and after she’d stormed off to bed and I’d retired to our room, Rob asked “who’s 18?”  I was afraid that vein on the side of his head was going to burst when he found out. 

And, then, after we’d taken the phone for the night, another boy sent a highly inappropriate text…okay, that’s enough dirty laundry, but really, too many bad choices for one week and two parents that thought they were doing the right thing by extending the privileges that we thought she should be extended as a freshman in high school. 

Today, the phone is in lockdown.  Can only send and receive to me, Rob, the next door neighbors and my best friend; all her emergency contacts.  And, that’s it. 

The privilege of extra chores will be extended. 

I know that my reaction at work yesterday was an extension of all the feelings I’d been holding in at home.  The lack of control I feel.  The betrayal I feel.  I fought for some of those privileges she got, promising that I’d be vigilant as my half of a compromise. 

Nothing is a mistake.  Everything serves a purpose.  My release of anger, not aimed at her, because that would be less helpful than stirring up a hornet’s nest at work, itself not very helpful.  Her loss of privileges.  Yesterday’s recognition that I have to be extra careful about how I express my anger and where.

It’s actually probably a good thing that this happened in the first week of school. Now, we can get down to the serious business of ruining her life.

Like I said before, it’s what we do next that really counts. 

Be well and know that you aren’t alone.  I have you to share with and you have me. 

Parenting is damned hard.

Not living up to my expectations of myself is damned hard.