Good ideas and handwork

I've been working on the guild's raffle quilt and I needed a little handwork for a distraction.  Something...anything different than my job or the raffle quilt.  I forgot how much work goes into that process.  And, we still have another, smaller one to make.

It was my job to trim the borders, and I was very, very nervous.  What was I going to do if I cut them too small?  It's not like I could reach out to all those quilters and ask them to do it again.  So, I cut a scrap into three strips that were the size I had calculated and sewed them together...too long.  I trimmed and sewed them together again...too long.  Clearly, I've lost the ability to do math...with a calculator.  I finally got it and that's the length I cut the pieces.  21 1/8".  Then, I had to sweat about putting the ruler in the wrong place and cutting off an end. 

When I do applique, I use a tracing paper template.  I lay it over my work and position my pieces by looking through it.  That's a David Taylor technique.  I had my template from the section I made and found myself laying this over the work, then my ruler over that.  But, it was hard to keep the ruler from sliding on the paper. 

So, I taped the tracing paper to my ruler, to the exact length I wanted it.  . 

And, laid that on the applique and trimmed it.  Every piece came out the same size and centered on the background. 

Anyway, when that was done my fingers were free to work on something else.  These fell out of wherever they were into the floor of the sewing room closet.  That's generally a sign it's time to work on that project.  Rob bought these three ornaments at a quilt show several years ago.  They're from Chickadee Hollow Designs.  You get a pre-printed panel, mount it on a piece of quilt batting and embroider through it.  I don't think my first response was very grateful.  Embroidery?  I don't do that.  I did many, many years ago, but moved quickly to counted cross stitch.  I didn't care for embroidery.  But, when I finally settled in and started, I've had fun.  I finished the Santa over the weekend. 

Then, I started the quilt shop.  The quilt shop is the one I looked at and turned my nose up.  It's so much embroidery.  But, I made some progress last night while we watched TV.  I love handwork. 

I worked in the yard as much as I could.  But, by about 10:30, it's so hot that I can't take in water as fast as I'm sweating it out so it's time to come inside and do quiet, still things like handwork.  There are a lot of dead leaves this year to pull out and limbs and cutting things back and rooting cuttings into my pots to keep them full.  And, keeping plants in the greenhouse to keep them beautiful so I can rotate them into the dark corner of the dining room that brightens up when there's a plant there.  I had a few new flowers.  A daylily in its second bloom.

And, this plant.  It showed up uninvited in both my yard and our neighbors.  She pulled it up.  I let it grow.  It turned into this, which provides dappled shade in a good size section of the garden.  I grow a lot of plants this time of year to shade more fragile plants from the heat of the sun in July and August, so this fit right in. 

And, it made these beautiful berries that I'm pretty sure are going to open and produce brain eating spores or something...because this plant could be anything for all I know. 

But, until my brain is eaten, I will need to work.  It was a crazy week last week where I had to point out what my job is to do...and what isn't included in my job description, and finally I noticed that they're starting to step out of the way and let me take care of things.  Things they used to have to do.  So, now they can use all the brain power on bigger projects.  I've also made them prioritize; this is the one most important thing going on.  And, this is the second, and this the third.  These are the things I will be working on this week.  I made it clear that I know what to do and when my managers said I'll get someone to look at that, five minutes later I'd show up with the answer.  And, I make sure what we do fits with their priorities.  It's a whole new thing for them.  And, the only way I know to get things done.  Even if I can't always apply that to my quilting...gimme something new!  My fingers are idle.



That week I didn't take any pictures

Okay, that's weird, even for me.  I take tons of pictures.  But, when I looked in my phone this morning, all I found was a picture of the tag they gave me when I parked the car in case I lost it.  And, another red hibiscus. 

You can imagine that after a trip, I was ready to get in my yard this weekend.  I really didn't get much chance on Saturday.  I was busy with the Guild's raffle quilt that morning and by the time I found myself outside, it was roasting hot.   But yesterday, I got an early start and really spent some time pulling out dead leaves and watering the flower pots and moving things around.  Missing the flowers right now.  Looks like I have a couple of daylilies that are going to give me second blooms soon and that's about all that's happening right now.  It's just too hot.  But, it won't last long, I know.  One day this week, the high is supposed to be in the 80s, which will be a welcome relief. 

Last week's trip was wonderful, other than the heat.  I thought traveling a thousand miles north would take me to a cooler clime, but it was nearly as hot there as it is here.  I visited with friends and met new people and ate well and worked hard. 

I traveled all day Tuesday and met a friend I've known for 20 years for dinner.  We had a lot of laughs and a really good pizza and ordered way too much food.  And, we shared stories about family and friends and the passage of time.  Wednesday, I was training my replacement on my old job.  Again, lots of laughs but also lots of stress.  She was very nervous and everything I was showing her was very, very new to her.  I found out that the job I do is not the same job my peers do.  I've always known I could do things many of them could not.  But, I didn't realize that what I do and how I do it is so different until I sat with a peer and showed her what I do and heard what she and our other peers in that office do.  In the Austin office, we all work similarly, which I'm sure has a lot to do with me being there and knowledge-sharing.  I'm hoping that the training she got last week will help spread my knowledge into a different building. 

On Thursday, I was a topic expert at a meeting where the company brought in people from all departments and put us in a room and gave us a problem to solve, then tried to get us to solve a slightly different problem and then a slightly different problem.  They were trying to make sure we thought of the best solution overall.  The answer became obvious quickly when there was that much brain power in the room and every time, we came up with the same answer.  It fit every situation.  The programmers that will be assigned to the project walked away with a clear understanding of the problem and the solution.  I'm hoping this was a sign of how we will do things in the future.  It was a great experience to be part of. 

And both days reminded me of who I am.  I remembered my name and how well respected my name is. 

And, I will be bringing that into this week as I try to find a way to get my new managers to appreciate what I do and how I do it because they're actually preventing me from getting anything done by flitting from one topic (which is the most important thing to happen in the industry since the invention of the signature line) to the next topic (which they think should have been brought down the mountain by Moses as part of the ten commandments).  So, we are going to have another meeting about workload and priorities.  When I came to work with these guys, I tried to be quiet and listen; learn what they like and make a good impression.  But last week, I remembered that's not what I'm here to do.  I'm here to show them the processes the company has put in place to get things done so I can help them get things done.  Because they're not getting anything done either.  They think they're getting things done because people keep putting band-aids on their boo-boos.  But, band-aids aren't the solution to the problems.  Band-aids mostly just work as a placebo to make small children think the pain is gone because they can't see the injury anymore. 

So, that's what I have to look forward to today, but it's okay.  Because I remember my name and I know the strength I bring into the relationship. 

Everybody have a great Monday!!  We are starting to set the guild's circle blocks into their corners to make squares.  I'm having a wee bit of trouble getting mine to work.  I'll be trying the old "I think I can, I think I can" method this week and trying to get that to work out.  I'm hoping for some time to work on a project of my own soon.  Be well!  Lane

I think I can.  I think I can.  I think I can...


Things change

I miss my sewing machines.  I feel like I haven't used one in a really long time.  All I've made is a pincushion for a little sewing box I'm taking to Cleveland.  I agreed to make one more applique border block for the guild's raffle quilt and I'm taking it with me to work on. 

I actually made two pincushions.  The first one was smaller, finishing at about 2" and I filled it with cotton balls.  I packed 4 of them in.  And, they were so dense, I couldn't get a pin in them.  So, I used two 3" squares the second time and filled it with ground walnut shells.  That worked perfect.  Necessity and invention, right?

I spent the whole weekend working in the yard.  We had moved all the potted plants around to make room for the repair, packing plants into the greenhouse and in shady spots in my flower beds.  This weekend, Rob screwed the deck boards back down and I cleaned out the greenhouse...like really clean...move everything and sweep clean.  But, the walls could still use a wash down and so could the transparent plastic roof.  I even folded up and packed the portable greenhouse that I use in the winter for the citrus trees.  I don't have anything new in bloom.  The garden is settling down for the heat of the summer, but there were a couple blooms on Syd's hibiscus that I caught. 

And, alas, we had to say goodbye to the Bradford Pear on the corner that shaded the house. 

It had lived its lifespan and grown its full height and like so many others this year in our neighborhood, split in half.  The arborist said all the rain we've had has caused them to pull more water into their tops, making them too heavy for their trunks to support and that many mature ones, like this one, were dropping limbs or splitting. 

We are temporary empty nesters.  On Thursday, Syd told us about this great opportunity to try living away from home.  She explained that the couple she'd be sharing an apartment with had an empty room now and that Syd was welcome to stay there for the week and see how they all got along and if it worked, she could move in with them when they move into their new apartment.  I don't know how much of that is true.  It doesn't matter.  For whatever reason, she has decided to live on her own. 

I don't know why Rob and Syd both thought I'd handle this badly and get mad.  I had come home from a wonderful day at work where I had a serious chat with my boss about the chaos (he told me he already knew we would be having this conversation within the first few weeks after I started working for him.  He sees it.  And he wasn't surprised that it came up on day 6 and thanked me for not holding it in and stewing on it and we figured out a plan for how I could prioritize some of it and what I should respond to and what I should just let pass by).  Anyway, I hardly got any of my story out before they came in the kitchen with contrite faces and told me Syd's story.  And, my response was "when are you leaving?  do I have to cook supper for you?"  Okay, there was  a lot more after that, but seriously, I was about to cook dinner, and dinner for two is a lot easier. 

I ended up telling her that she'd already learned everything she was going to learn from us and that she had stopped listening to us anyway and that I had watched her closely enough to know that she had said "no" to some seriously tempting opportunities during and since high school and she had made a lot of really good choices.  And, that her roommates were probably going to make her do her chores, where I had given up.  And, if it didn't work out, she knew where we were.  And, we would not be preserving her room for her.  We will be moving back into it soon as her things are out. 

She ended up cooking dinner for us and while I did the dishes, she came in to tell me she was leaving and I hugged her and told her not to make me come to her place of work to see her.  Because if she did, I would embarrass her in front of all her little friends and co-workers and customers by hanging onto her and wailing "why don't you ever come visit your daddy and me?" in my most dramatic voice.

It's been okay not having her here.  We only saw her when she was pushing her feet under my dining table anyway.  Or when she was coming out to get a soft drink out of the fridge.  We will see how all this goes. 

Tomorrow, I travel to Cleveland for business.  Yippee me.  But, at least I will get to escape the heat.  And, it's going to be a great opportunity to sit with a diverse group of my peers and try to solve a problem I've had a lot of experience with.  I'm really looking forward to it.  And, I'll also spend a day training my replacement and working with my old team. 

Everybody have a great week!  Lane


All work

All work and no play makes Lane a dull boy too, so this probably won't be a very exciting post.  All I've done this week is work.  I tried to settle into the new job early in the week.  But, my old boss turned off my access like he was supposed to and my new boss didn't turn on my new access...the rest goes without saying.  All I could use were email and skype.  Anyway, by Wednesday it was all straight and I spent the day catching up on questions.  The new job is very different.  They react.  I think they were surprised Wednesday when they got some proactive answers from me (ex. mgr: Take this action on these three items.  me, 30 minutes of research later: What about the other 112 items that have the exact same situation.  mgr: THERE ARE 112 ITEMS LIKE THIS!?!)

It's gonna be that way for a while, I think.

Rob went to a family reunion, which left me home alone and lonely.  So, I worked like a dog.  I spent the early mornings working on guild raffle quilt blocks, then went outside and worked in the yard a while, then back in and cleaned house.  I ate vegetarian all week, which made my Saturday's Bacon-cheeseburger all the better.  Let's just say that Syd was surprised when I actually made a vegetable tart Tuesday night.  But, she said it was good.  Not so much for the tomato and spinach pasta the next night.  And, on the 4th, she said she ate lots of barbeque...lots of meat, not just vegetables like I did. 

These are the three quilt blocks I assembled this week.  Guild members volunteered to make quarter blocks and then the co-coordinator and I are putting the quarters together.  I'm going to have to send an email soon asking for the last remaining kits to be returned.  I unfortunately did not keep a good record of everyone that had a kit.  Lesson learned. 

Before I let myself start the guild blocks, I finished up the last Sunbonnet Sue block.  Now I have all 16 and no idea what to do with them.  I'm going to be looking for a medium or dark print that reminds me of the 70s-80s.  Something with some flowers.  Or, a bold solid. 

Idle hands, and all that, right?

One last pic.  This is the cats, snuggled up on a quilt we've draped across a chair in the living room.  I don't remember the last time I saw them in this chair, the dogs had kind of taken it over.  But, soon as I draped this quilt over it, they hopped in and have spent a lot of time there since.

That's it for me.  A driver picked up the POD on Saturday, so the last evidence of the foundation repair is gone.  There are four boxes of small stuff in the garage.  Everything else is put away.  The house is clean.  It even smells clean.  And, for a while, life should be back to normal. 

Whatever that is now. 




All is well

It's been a very busy week.  We passed the plumbing test and have had the carpet re-stretched and after steam cleaning carpet and furniture, we started moving back in.  We're almost done.  Everything I packed has been washed and put away.  My storage area and fabric cutting table in the garage are put back together.  All of Rob's things are put away, but I still have a couple "piles" of stuff that just needs to be dealt with.  Most of it is stuff we found as strays when we were packing and finally dealt with, and now it's time to put those things away.  It's been like moving, except most things went back where they came from, except more organized. 

Unfortunately, being unpacked means I've lost my excuse for not cooking. 

I haven't gotten to much sewing, but I have finished four more Sue and Bill blocks.  One more Sue to go.  And, she's going to need a new hat, so I'm held up looking for a good fabric. 

 I have no idea what I'm going to do with this.  But, it's another pattern I've never made and now I can say I have.  If I remember correctly, Little Dutch Boy, Little Dutch girl was my grandmother's go-to pattern and making these blocks has made me think of her. 

It's pink week in the garden.  I've watched this Mallow of Sydney's for several weeks.  We thought it was dead, but then it put out a stem and now it's blooming like crazy. 

When some neighbors moved from a house to an apartment (actually to separate apartments), they gave us their plants.  This crepe myrtle was one of those.  It's a very light pink.

I know you can hardly see the phlox in this picture.  But, the garden has gotten so thick and it's been raining so much that I couldn't get to the other side of them to take a better picture.  There's basically a bank of them in bloom now.

 I had a place for shady hanging baskets on the side of this tree and it seems that every year I add a new one.  The hanger in the middle is one we bought in Arkansas on vacation.  The next year, we bought two more that hang on the front porch and Rob has washed the pots with blue paint and filled them with red begonias. 

I officially start my new job today.  I checked email a bit ago and my new managers have flooded my inbox.  No taking it easy on the new guy, right?  That's okay.  They need order in their chaos.  That's what I've been hired to do.  And, they know it's going to be more painful for them than me because they've been operating in chaos for about 13 years...since I was in this job the last time.  But, last time, I was part of the chaos and in those 13 years, I learned to calm my own chaos and tame the chaos created by others.  It's what I do.  I bring order and deliberation.

Everybody have a great week!  I'm at least going to try to find 15 minutes to wipe the dust off my desk and get a clean start.