All is well, nothing to report.

Sounds like a communication from a WWII submarine.

When I was young, it was all about what was happening.  The excitement of new and different.  Now that I am not so young, it’s gotten to be about the times when nothing that interrupts the routine is happening.  So, when I say that there’s nothing to report AND that all is well, that’s really something.

So, I picked some of the hum-drum to share today.

The green rose that I thought I’d killed when I treated it for blackspot and ALL the leaves fell off has come back and is blooming again.


You have to look real close, but there are four blooms there and they form kind of a Y shape.  Weird plant, huh?  And, a bit finnicky, too.

And, Rob’s purple trumpet flower is blowing its own horn today.


At night, hexies get basted.


And, in the morning, Irish Chains get pieced.


So far, I have nearly completed the first 19 pair of chain blocks.  That’s 38 blocks in three days.  I want 121 blocks, 11x11, so the chain will extend out of every corner (an even number of rows would end with a background block in two corners).  It was so helpful to have all those 9 patches already made.

Okay, I guess I’ve thought this out a bit better than I admitted to yesterday.

Be well and have a great Wednesday.  I need to get a quilt blocked this weekend because I might have promised to bring something to show and tell at guild. 

It’s debatable whether I actually promised.

And, likely depends on how much nerve I can work up between now and then.



The ideaThe idea

This month, Liz Porter spoke at guild.  And, she showed us this quilt.


I was truly taken with it.  And, I wanted one.  So, I figured out the pattern and it’s based on one and a half inch squares in the chain, that finish at one inch. 

Well, I had forty-two jillion nine patches, made from one and a half inch squares that finish at one inch.  I’ve been making them as leaders and enders for years.


And, an idea was born.  I didn’t have the blue print, but I did have a raspberry print.


My darks and lights are not as pure as Liz’s, so the pattern isn’t showing up as well as I would have liked, but it is looking pretty good.  I didn’t do any figuring for this quilt.  I just started to cut pieces and when I got down to about a half yard of the raspberry colored fabric, I stopped and started to assemble.  I haven’t made many blocks yet.  Wanted to see how it was going to work out before I invested too much into it.  I’m just going to make blocks until I run out of the raspberry colored fabric and call it done. 

Then, it’s going to a lady that has decided that there’s nothing wrong with the color red.  (Raspberry is a red, isn’t it?)

I like being able to make a quilt where I don’t have to count.  That is certainly not the case for the hexie quilt.  7 flowers with 6 hexies each, repeated on 6 sides of the quilt is…a lot.  When I get close, I’ll pull out the calculator.

That raspberry fabric?  It’s in just about every scrap quilt I’ve ever made.  I inherited it from my Mentor, soon after I started to quilt.  She got it from her Mother, who used it to decorate in the 80’s.  They must have bought bolts of the stuff because after all these years of using off of it, I still had 2 yards.  And, lo and behold, it was perfect for this quilt.

Special shout out to Barb, who sent me several baggies of inch and a half squares.  I’ve been thinking of you a lot as I sewed them into these blocks. 

Everybody have a great Tuesday.  I have an appt with the dental hygienist.  Yay, me.  Fresh breath and a bright smile.  Yeah, that’s what I care about right now.

Did you ever notice how people on TV never act like the person that’s in their face has bad breath?  Is that because they don’t get bad breath?  Or is it a testament to how good of an actor they are?

Be well.  Lane


A busy weekend with no finishes

It’s hot.  It’s so hot and humid, that it’s miserable to go outside.  It’s the equivalent of Cleveland winter, but in reverse.  They have two months they don’t go outside unless they have to and we do, too.  But, their’s is because there are fifty-leven inches of snow and ice on the ground and ours is because it’s a hundred and one degrees. 

And, don’t get me wrong.  After summers that included numbers like a hundred and eight, one hundred and one is not that bad. 

Unfortunately, I paid the utility bill yesterday, so anybody that even approaches the thermostat or leaves a light on gets the glare of death.  Find a fan.  Turn it on high and sit under it.  You’ll be fine.  We will get through yet another summer.

At least there’s been rain.  We had a good rain Saturday night, which means we’ve hardly had to water all month.  It’s wunnerful.

This weekend’s project was to quilt the Thank you quilt.


I got about half of it done on the treadle and the treadle was giving me fits!  And, I wasn’t in the mood to putter.  I was in the mood to quilt.  Rob even mentioned it, saying that it had just done a quilt wonderfully and why was it making that clanging sound all of a sudden.  And, of course, I was frustrated, so I putzed around with the tension, and from then on, it wouldn’t make a stitch.  And, we all know that frustration and tension are a great combination for nuclear explosion.  Anyway, it being hot and me not getting my way were not a good combination, so I stopped before it could put me in a rage and put the whole thing away. 

I woke up Sunday morning, remembering at least one thing I’d done that was causing the machine to not form a stitch, but it didn’t account for the clanging, so I just need to sit down with it and a practice piece one day and get it figured out.  And, it has to be soon if I’m going to finish this quilt on the treadle because I need to finish and gift this one away.  But, don’t those leaves in the picture above look great?  When it makes a stitch, we do great things together.  When it won’t, I consider turning it into a yard ornament.

I also worked on the outside border for the hexie quilt.  My original plan didn’t work out and I didn’t take a picture of it to show you.  But, I had some hexies cut for a different purpose and they were perfect.


This is one corner.  So, just eighty bazillion more hexies to go!  Yay!

Anyway, it helps to at least have a plan.  I know exactly what I need for every border and round.  But, now I have to find another perfect fabric for that different purpose.  Ugh.  I will only shop from stash.  I will only shop from stash.  I will only shop from stash.

I hope. 

Be well and have a great Monday and start to your week.  I am so far behind, it’s looking easier to cut my losses on my commitments than to try to catch up. 



Summer garden

Okay, so you better enjoy these pictures, because we’ve had the last of the rain and temps will consistently be around 100* (or higher) for the next 6 weeks.  My garden will suffer through it.  But, it won’t look this good again, until fall; barring some unforeseen climate change created rainfall.  (Please send a category 1 hurricane to sit over Austin for 5 days.)


The Echinacea and some more phlox in the background.


The spiky orange thing below is Pride of Barbados.  I grew it from seed.  It is three years old and is blooming for the first time this year.  It was also moved from its pot into the ground this year.  It was about 18 inches tall when I put it in the ground.  That flower spike is at about four feet.


This is my glider area.  I can sit here and look back at the house.  Look at all those pink caladiums.  I’ve never had caladiums grow like that. 


Below is part of the green bed.  This is the best time for the green bed.  It looks lush and shady and inviting all through the hottest part of summer.  But, it’s deceptive, because in the shady spot created by each leaf lives a mosquitoe that will zoom out and get you if you forget your citronella bracelet (Thanks, lw.  That was the absolute best idea and we are loving the convenience of it.)


And, the swamp lily is starting to bloom.  This adds great green shape with the sword shaped leaves, but doesn’t bloom too much or grow out of control in the shade.  The one I moved to the neighbor’s bed that gets full sun is covered with red spikes and blooms now.


And, this is not in my yard.  This is an example of yarn bombing that we saw in Eureka Springs and I couldn’t help but get a picture of it to share.  It’s the first bombing I’ve seen.  Thinking my trees might like some of this?  Oh, I don’t know.  Seems kind of humiliating for the tree if I think it needs more decoration, somehow. 


It was on a tree, down the street from Ermilio’s Restaurant.

Still enjoying the relaxed feeling that should come from the end of a vacation.  So far, people at work have not been able to fluster me.  Let’s hope it stays that way.

But, I’ve been busy as 3 armies, trying to get caught up.  Plus, we’re at that stage of teenage-hood when she will literally sit in her room all day and do nothing, if we let her.  She won’t even get up to go to basketball camp and work on her leg strength.  If she won’t do something she wants to do, I’m not going to be able to motivate her.  I’m ready for her to have a job.  So, I give her a few chores everyday.  Every thing I can think that needs to be done before I leave for work.  And, this week, she’s doing all the dishes in the evening.  I just love ignoring all the grumping and complaining.  I just sit there and sew hexies together.  Today, she’s giving the outside of the grill a bath.  I tossed that one at her as I was closing the bedroom door to change last night.  That way, I didn’t have to hear the grousing and complaining. 

Be well.  Have a great Thursday.  I have not pin basted the sitter’s quilt yet.  I am a very bad, very delinquent, very tired boy.  Lane


Quilt in just over a day

I cut the strips for this quilt before vacation.  They’ve been sitting and waiting.  We knew who they were for and I knew what pattern. 


I squeezed every minute of sewing I could out of the weekend and managed to get the whole top together by Sunday afternoon, including mitered borders.


I can see why people love to sew with homespuns.  They do make a purty quilt.  But, they are so dad gum slippery and crawly and stretchy that they would make me a crazy person if I tried something with bias lines. 


But, they do make a purty quilt, don’t they?

This quilt is made up of the fabrics I collected to make a homepun Dresden Plate (because I will meet that challenge!) and some of my old shirts and homespuns that people have given me because they didn’t like sewing with them either.

My bin of homespuns is two thirds empty and I think the next quilt will be something made of 4” squares…a split nine patch, maybe?  I’ve exhausted most of the lights already and need to pick something that will let me contrast dark and medium, without that contrast being equal all across the quilt…does that even make sense? 

Yes, it does.


This is the second or third quilt I ever made.  Rob designed it.  He picked the color combinations and I think he even did some of the pressing of the blocks.  The block is Old Maid’s Puzzle.  All the blocks have two contrasting fabrics and a black repeater.  Sometimes the contrasting fabrics are a light and a dark.  But, sometimes, they’re light and medium and sometimes dark and medium. 


He got billing in what passed for a label, quilted into the corner.

That’s the only way I’m going to be able to use up the homespuns, without buying more.  And, that is not in the plan.

Be well.  Have a great Tuesday.  Yesterday was a very busy day, as I did my best to get caught up from vacation.  Yay, me.  I’m so glad I’m so needed.  Job security, right?

I can do it, I can do it, if I put my mind to it. 



Vacation ends and real life begins anew

Thursday was our day to visit the big cats at Turpentine Creek Wildlife Rescue.



and Tigers 


and Bears…


Oh, my.

We love to go to the rescue.  The tickets for the tours are expensive, so we feel like we’ve contributed to the cause in a way.  But, because it’s so hot when we get there, the animals are much more interested in shade and water than us, so we don’t see a lot of them. 


But, we did see a lot of this


So, it works out. 

After that, there was a bit of rushing to a couple of favorite shops, where I did a catch and release of this machine.


She was very pretty, with all her decals intact and just that one chunk of black paint chipped from in front of the needle plate.  Don’t need another machine.  Left her there for someone else.

Sydney had a swim and we dressed (slacks for the gentlemen and a dress for the lady) and we ate at Arkansas’s (sp?) best Italian Restaurant, Ermilio’s.  Love it.  Open 5-9 every day and if you’re not there at 4:45, then you’re waiting for a table.  And, they’re serious about not seating incomplete parties.

Before dawn on Friday, we were all packed in the truck and on our way southwest.  Nine hours later, we pulled into our drive and we’ve worked our fingers to the poor, bare, bones trying to get everything back in order for everyday life to begin again, today.


On Saturday, I went to quilting bee for a bit of machine time and started a quilt for the sitter.  I finished the top yesterday afternoon and hope to get it pin basted one night this week so I can quilt it next weekend.  Maybe on the treadle?  Other than that, it’s miserable hot here, but we didn’t have to water because of that rain last week.  The gardens took off and a lot of my time was spent just tying things up.  I’ll do pictures of those things later in the week.

Everybody be safe and have a great Monday.  Lane


Nature fights back

Yesterday was our day at the Crystal Bridges Art Museum (diorama below). 


This is a large museum in Bentonville, AR, built by a Wal-Mart heir.  If you get a chance, the permanent collection is really wonderful.  They had the Angels and Tomboys exhibit on and for some reason, I’ve heard of that, but can’t remember where.  We only toured the permanent collection.


We had lunch in the restaurant at the museum and it was really good.  There were expansive garden views as well, and we didn’t get to tour that, either. 


I was really into faces, just looking at how the artists captured the facial expressions of the subjects.


Portrait of George Henschel by John Singer Sargent

I found this man’s expression to be quite beautiful.  I wonder if he was someone special to the artist to get that expression from him. 

Even Jeanne by Alfred Henry Maurer


Such a bitter looking sneer, like she was being made to model in a cold “smoking area”.  (honestly, my photo doesn’t do her expression justice.  she doesn’t look nearly as bitter here as she did on the wall)


And, of course, Rosie the Riveter by Norman Rockwell.  What confidence.

The exhibit was set up in time order, from the early colonial period to contemporary art. 


One of our favorites was this sculpture, Man on a Bench by Duane Hanson.  He was so real, right down to the wrinkles in his arms where they rested on his legs and the wrinkles in his socks. 


And, Dolly Parton, by Andy Warhol.


This one really spoke to me.  Old Self:  Portrait of the Artist as He Will (Not) Be. Variation #2. by Evan Penny.

After that, we got back so Syd could have a swim and we hit the big salad bar restaurant in town, where we talked bad about people that didn’t know how to act in restaurants, like the lady that slapped her child and the table full of people that got mad at the waitress because their food took so long (large group) and asked for “to-go” containers immediately, put their food in the containers, but then they sat at the table and ate it out of the containers.  Okay, you gotta admit that was weird, right?  Great dinner conversation for a group that has been together so long they’ve run out of stuff to talk about. 

We also picked up my Hawaiian style quilt kit.


Island Coconut is the pattern.  I got it in a slightly printed fabric that will give the palms some motion.  The kit has the precut applique, the white background, a muslin for a back, a thick poly batting, a color matched spool of thread, an applique needle and a quilting needle and a bit of piping that I probably won’t use, and a very thorough set of instructions.  He has 12 die-cuts he can make.  I bought an additional 2/3 yd of the print for a backing and binding in case I decide not to use the muslin.  It was $30.  I’m pretty happy about it and it’s hard not to start.  His kit has everything.  He’s an enabler.  Here’s his info if you want to contact him.  (I am a non-paid spokesperson who had a good experience and am sharing it, but I can’t guarantee your experience.  He seems like a really nice guy and would likely ship.)


I finished repairing a sock this morning, and I’m nearly done sewing the binding on the Pond Mountain quilt (strike that, I finished two minutes ago while Syd and Rob were horseback riding).  Those were my big projects for vacation.  I’ve had plenty of sewing time and have been feverishly basting hexies whenever we drove any distance.  I’ve also been replacing hexies in the part that was done. 


Those two light rounds on each side of the first border disappeared because some of the neutrals were medium and blended with the greens.  I’ve replaced most of them with light neutrals and the borders are showing up now.  (Color gets all the credit, but value does all the work)  I might replace a few more, but not many.  I said I’d replace hexies until the rows became visible.  I can see them.  Can you?  It’s really kind of a pain to replace them, so if we all see the borders, I might be able to stop the compulsion to take it apart again. 

Please see them.

Be well and have a great Thursday.  I have to get back to my packing.  Tomorrow is a travel day.  The sitter texted us from the rain guage in our backyard last night, and we’ve gotten 3 inches of rain.  Waa-hoo!  I can’t wait to see what’s going on in my garden.

The chiggers are killing us.  Rob has to bathe in repellant to go out with the dog.  Sydney isn’t phased.  I only walk on the paths, so I don’t have nearly so many.  But, last night, something climbed up my shorts leg and bit me 4 times on the butt, before I realized something was going on and ran to the bedroom for a fast strip.  It looked like a cross between a wingless bee and a huge black ant, after I beat the crap out of it with a shoe in retaliation.  And, it left welts that have luckily gone this morning.  Or, I’d be in trouble trying to sit.  And, we drive 9 hours tomorrow.




Northern Arkansas has caves all over.  You can take a lot of different cave tours.  We picked ours carefully, based on a 45 year old recommendation. 

A friend of Rob’s had visited this cave while visiting his grandparents, during a very unhappy childhood.  That friend is not expected to be with us much longer, so Rob wanted to go relive this happy memory for him and share our pictures. 


The memory was of a cave that had three levels, one walkable, one partially submerged in water and one completely submerged.  And, that there was a river that ran out of the mountain.  With those clues, Rob found the cave…easier than our Garman direction thingy did.  It took us down a series of dirt roads that got worse and worse, until Rob knocked on a door and got directions from a very friendly man whose two dogs weren’t sure whether to bite us or lick us.

Always look for signs of your attractions, kiddies.  When we found the right way, there was an 8x16 foot sign with an arrow bigger than me.

The operation was built in the heyday of tourist travel, but it’s fallen out of the touristy attractions, likely because it’s privately owned and they just can’t compete with the national parks service.  But, if you look over the dust of an operation run by two older men (we think father and son) and just get into the spirit of the thing, it can be fun.  We can tell it was a big attraction by the huge size of the parking lot…with two cars in it. 


It was a small tour, just us and another couple, and it lasted about 40 minutes.  There’s a beautiful spider web gate at the beginning, theoretically to keep out bears, but more likely to keep out non-paying tourists.  The temperature is a constant 58* and it felt like there was a breeze and that kept me from feeling any effects of the small spaces.  151

These pictures are all from my iphone.  Of course, I forgot the real camera.  But, only having the phone showed me what it can do.  All I did was point and click.  The phone did all the work, finding a place to focus and then lighting it correctly and then it took the shot.


The guide had the normal touristy lines, but between those were a ton of facts that we were interested in.  Facts about the iron ore in the cave and the soda and calcium and growing stalactites and stalagmites.  They offer several tours at various costs that take from 3-5 hours.  We just paid for the basic, short tour. 


At one point, the guide pulled out a ladder and said, you folks with the lights on your heads are going to go up here and take another route.  He propped up a four foot, A frame ladder and sent us up.


This really gave us a chance to get the experience of going through a cave.  There was no guide.  He could have shut off the lights and we’d still be there.  I asked if we were supposed to follow the wires and he said, no, just make your way through there. 

And, every horror movie I ever saw started flashing in my mind.  It was actually kind of intense, and even though it looked like you could have made a wrong turn, you really couldn’t have.  And, we came out into a wonderful room that the rest of the tour accessed via a set of stairs.  I think he assigned those flashlights to people based on footwear.  The other couple were in flipflops and we were in sturdy walking shoes.  The flashlights just gave him something to use that wasn’t their fault because flipflops would have been dangerous on the slick rock.


One of the tours starts in a boat and ends wading through waist deep water.  5 hours.  Sydney is all about it.  Maybe in a year or two.  Not this year. 


And, she’d have to find a friend because there’s a minimum of two people and Rob and I are NOT doing it.


As we drove back to the cabin, we drove into a wonderful thunderstorm, so for the first time in three vacations, we got to see it rain here.  And, the temps dropped to the low 70’s…same as they are at home, incidentally.  How weird is that?  In Texas, it’s 71 in the middle of July and it’s raining. 

Next time we go to Harrison, we’re specifically going so we can hit all the antique shops in that 30 mile stretch that we didn’t get to hit this trip. 

Because I only had my iphone yesterday, I had to learn how to download pictures so I could access them.  That means I have a quilt picture. 

This was a catch and release.  I just couldn’t pay $98 for it.  But, it was fun.  Not scrappy at all.  This quilter had to buy fabric to make this quilt, meaning it was likely a special occasion quilt.  Look how that pink stripe alternates in every other block.  A good bit of planning went into this quilt. 


Everybody have a great Wednesday.  Today, we’re going to an art museum.  You can just imagine the eye rolling that provoked.  But, I can tell she’s having fun.  She enjoyed that cave yesterday like nothing I’ve seen in a while.  Then, she got to go to the lodge for some alone time on the internet and, just when I was thinking “I’m going to need to go get her”, she walked up the cabin path.  She watches TV with us and laughs and is generally pleasant, which makes the weird stuff a surprise that catches me off guard.  Girls. 

Be well.  Lane