Flowers as a metaphor

Last week was a week of highs and lows.   Most weeks are, but last week was especially high and especially los.  I had more free time than normal, so I was able to finish the Lily of the Valley block.  But, it has problems so I'm not going to share it yet.  I need to reposition some pieces and even though I thoroughly wet it before ironing to get the water soluble ink out, there's one place where it came back and the iron made it permanent.  There will be an unplanned flower there.  I got careless, and will be more cautious next time. But, there's plenty more happening in the garden right now.

More violets.  These are in a pot with a shrub fig.  I'm hoping for fruit one year.  That would be nice.  I grow violets in my large pots with whatever else is there.  They tell me when the pot is dry.  If they start to wilt, then it's time to water.  This is more of a clump than I'd usually let develop in a pot, and I'll divide them later, but they look so pretty there right now.  

And, yellow Columbine.  I did put that section of fence back up yesterday, so I'll just need you to disregard it this one more time.  This is from seeds that a friend shared.  I've tried and tried to grow another from the seeds, but have not been able yet.  I'm going to try a different approach this year and see if I can be more successful.  

The lemons and oranges that weren't damaged by the big freeze have started to bloom.  They're both thick with white flowers and with bees and butterflies.  Unfortunately, the monarch butterflies and the bees don't sit still long enough to get a picture, but this black moth (at least I think it's a moth.  it has a furry body) was ready to have his picture taken and struck a pose on an unopened flower and sat there patiently while I pulled out my phone and focused, then flew over the fence into the neighbors yard.  

I'm pretty lucky that these trees are in pots or they would likely have suffered the same fate as all the others in the neighborhood that were planted in the ground.  I walk through the yard looking at them and hoping that there will be some growth, but nothing so far.   I'm watching all the neighbors' yards to see what was hardy enough to come back and will use that knowledge as I select plants going forward.  

The first rose of the year was this little yellow one.  I lost most of the growth on a different rose, but it's coming back along the base and should be fine.  This yellow one is in a pot because I haven't found it's happy spot yet.  Too much sun and it looks terrible.  Not enough sun and it looks terrible.  I'm looking for that sweet spot in the middle and am having trouble finding it.  

Changing subjects, guess who scored a shot last week.  It's a Moderna, so I'll need a second shot in a month before it's fully effective, but I'm feeling pretty darn good about finding the appointment and I even managed to help a friend that was getting really frustrated about not finding one.  We scheduled the same night and got our shots on the same day, albeit several hours apart.  The event was well organized.  As she was about to poke me, the nurse said 'your tail should start to show in a couple weeks'.  I said okay, but then it hit me and I was so surprised that I hardly felt the shot, I was too busy looking at her with my mouth hanging open and my eyes bugged out in surprised.  

And, on a sad note, we had to put my old cat down last Friday.  Every so often, we'd lose control of her diabetes and she'd get really sick.  We'd nurse her through it but it was very hard on her and she never fully recovered after each bout.  We decided when she got sick last year that it was the last time we'd put her through that, so when she got sick this time, we had a plan and knew what we were going to do.  

The vet's office was great.  It was like a funeral home, everyone was quiet while I was there.  The vet gave her a once over and then called me in the car and let me know that we were not making a mistake by letting her go this time.  They let me come in and I was able to be there when she passed.  It was all over quickly and cleanly and she's not sick anymore.  

She was a good cat and I loved her very much.  Every morning first thing and every evening, last thing, she'd head butt my right knee until I would pick her up and turn her upside down in my lap so I could rub her belly and ears and we could have our moment.  I'm not going to get all maudlin.  We've all lost a beloved pet, so everyone knows how I feel.  We get our pets for a few years and we try to make those good years and we end up making an animal part of our family and there's always a hole left when you lose part of the family.  

Flowers are a metaphor for living.  After a brief glorious moment, everything starts to fade and die.  

Life moves on.

I'm going to leave it there y'all.  Everybody have a great week.  Hug somebody and give your pet family a treat from Nirti (the Hindu goddess of destruction...a well deserved name.  She never met a plastic bag she wouldn't try to eat).



Spring is in the air

 It's still cool in the mornings here, but by afternoon, it's shorts weather.  I always take advantage of this time of year in the garden because by July, it's too hot to be out there after noon.  I spent most of the weekend doing things that weren't special enough for me to think to take a picture, but now that I'm talking about it, wish I had.  So many things have come up, or gotten a fresh start and I"m starting to get a feel for what this year's garden is going to look like.  And, I like it.

Two weeks was not enough time to start the lilac block multiple times and end up redrafting a bunch of it.  I was sewing in French knots last night, while we watched TV (we started Ted Lasso and I"m loving it).  Anyway, always my loudest critic, I wish I'd used a slightly more purple fabric.  I had three that were lilac, a darker, lighter, and a medium.  I chose the medium.  And there's not quite enough contrast with the background, but overall, and mixed in with a bunch of other blocks, I think it's going to look great.  Using that tan background, I'm going to have to be more careful choosing fabrics.  

The next block up is lily of the valley.  Good grief, batman!  It's going to be a minute before there's another quilt block to show...please stand by patiently...

We're still cleaning up storm damage.  We're going to have to replace the row of Indian hawthorns that run along the front porch.  I don't think they're coming back.  It's a shame.  Four of them were 20 years old and the other two were put in last year to fill the holes left when they leveled the front of the house and had to take two out.  We bought extra big ones because of that, and now we're going to need to replace them all.  

I thought I'd lost my bay laurel.  This was a 12 foot "shrub", thick with leaves...I haven't bought a bay leaf at the grocery in 20 years.  Anyway, we put it outside the fence facing the street when we moved it a few years ago and it grew there, very happily, but very slowly ever since, creating an anchor for the fence and a divider between our gate and the neighbors'.  The freeze took all the leaves and a lot of the branches, so we took this opportunity to clean it up.  We cut it way back to green wood and cleared out all the leaves below it.  Rob brought out the blower to make a pile and it smelled like soup around our house all afternoon.  I did find some nicely dried leaves to bring in and store until this tree is back up and making fresh bay leaves.  The green thing just inside the gate is a metal sculpture of a century plant.  I think it should be used one way and Rob thinks it should be used a different way, so there it sits...in the way.  (this is called silent negotiation)

I'm getting a few white iris.  Not nearly as many as last year, but I dug them all up and divided them last year, so it's not a fair comparison.  Lots of doubles, like this one, where two flowers develop on one stem.  Normally, one would bloom and then the other, but this year, many of them are blooming together.  

I'm getting more violets than ever before.  I'm learning about violets and that I need to be careful with them.  I had one in the greenhouse last year and now I have them in everything that was out there.  In the back of this photo, there's ajuga in bloom and in the front are the violets.  I intermix them as a ground cover in the garden path and it's working for me.  No matter how hard I step on them, they come right back.  I don't know where the term 'shrinking violet' came from.  They're certainly not fragile.  

Everybody have a great week!  I liked it last week when President Biden said something like 'I've only been here 6 weeks, man.  Give me a chance.'  I think we've all got to keep that in mind.  In six weeks, I've made four quilt blocks and he's set up a government, rooted out some corruption, and geared up to meet his 100 million shots in arms goal.  I respect!

And, I wear a mask...because it's the right thing to do.  



So busy but not sew busy

Well, I guess the good news is I didn't start a new project.  But, I did consider putting that lilac appliqué  block down.  44 little. flowers. And, the first four looked like a pink sneeze.  So I took them off and re-ironed the background and re-drafted the flowers (lilacs have four petals, not five and the petals come to a point, not round).  I may have taken that too far.  But, it cut the time to appliqué on a flower by almost half and now that project is moving along nicely.  I think I'm up to 20 flowers. Just 24 to go.  Twenty-four more      to               go.

I'm not good with repetitive tasks. 

I finished the first sleeve for the sweater.  I altered the pattern on that one, too.  I was following it and I looked at it and it looked terrible...the top of the sleeve was my least favorite part of the sweater in the photo.  So, I re-wrote the last four inches of it and we will find out at some point whether that was a mistake.  102 rows and about 190 yards of yarn.  It is not perfect.  But, it is good enough.  And, many things about knitting a sleeve in the round were learned.  

Even though I'd already made one sleeve, when I started the second one, I had to take it apart and start a second time.  I told Rob I can't do anything on the first try.  I have to start it more than once.  I can't wait to finish the second sleeve and get them attached to the body and see how all that is going to work.  I've read about it in the pattern several times, but it's still going to be an adventure to attach the sleeves at the underarm and then knit the yoke and shoulders all as one attached piece, from center front, around the back and around to center front on the other side.  

The neighbors put out this rose bush for big and bulky trash.  The previous owners put it out to brighten up the place when it went on the market and the new owners didn't want it.  I kept saying I'd go back and get it.  B&B trash was supposed to happen the week of the big freeze, and I guessed it had died during that, exposed, with no protection.  But, I walked by last week and it was still alive and putting out growth all over, so I snagged it and cut off the dead leaves and now I have another rose in a pot...two actually.  Don't know what I'll do with them, but even if I saved them and end up putting them out during a plant giveaway, it will still be a win for the plant.  

Speaking of plants.  Remember this?

Well, it looks like this now.  

Spring is like Christmas morning, except it lasts for days and days and days.

The donkey's ear flowers have started to change color.  This is going to be a real show this year.  Now, I just have to grow another one for two years to get to enjoy this again.  

Okay, this photo is just to brag about my vintage bakeware.  I picked this up in Goodwill for a song. It's heavy and  has a yellow tint to it, and it's the perfect size for cooking for two.  These are for tonight.  There were also 6 porcupine meatballs (meatballs with rice cooked in them)  that I froze and we'll have next week.  I'm getting pretty good at cooking for two.  I got a new cookbook at Christmas that really helped get me in the smaller meals mindset and I'm applying that to my old recipes now, too.  Only problem is no leftovers for lunches.

Okay, that's going to wrap it up for me.  Time to get the day started.  

I am not vaccinated yet.  I wear a mask because I believe it's the right thing to do.  I will keep wearing my mask and if anyone asks why, I'm going to ask them if they had the flu or a common cold this winter.  I haven't heard of anyone that had either of those.  

Be well!  Go sew and multiply and cover the world in quilts.  The autumn leaf quilt was delivered over the weekend and they loved it! Just in  time to not need a quilt in the south anymore.  Oh well.



Rose block

 Not much going on here.  I work, I sew, I knit, I garden, I cook.  Same old stuff.  

I finished the rose block and I'm pretty happy with it.  

Here are the current 8.  They remind me very much of 30' and 40's cartoon flowers, with just enough detail to know what kind of flower it is, and no attempt to look 3 dimensional.  There were also a lot of framed flower prints that were similar.  I have one and will have to pull it out and show my inspiration for this quilt and how/why I picked the beige background.  

I tweaked the pattern on this one a little bit.  I laid it out to test the colors and make sure they were going to give me what I was after and discovered that I didn't care for the large rose.  Rob said it best...it looked like a muffin or a cupcake with a frosting rose on top.  

So, I started to move that around and found I liked it when it was more circular.  I trimmed some off and re-drew it on the template and I was ready to go.  

The next block up is the lilac.  I'm going to cut those little flowers as squares and use cutaway appliqué to sew them down.  That way, I'm not sitting and trying to cut 40 flowers.  I'll still have to trace the shape on the squares, tho.  I'm planning to cut a few of the flowers out of something heavy and trace those few over and over again.  I wouldn't look for a new flower block next week...I think these more complicated ones (and there are more than I remembered) are going to take a couple weeks each.

I'm still working in the yard. I've decided to cut everything back.  It's time for some fresh starts out there.  I am enjoying poking around at the base of plants, looking for a little green.  I'm finding it on most.  And, there are a a lot of woody shrubs where the stems are still green, and I'm still waiting.  I cut all of the old burned growth off the wood ferns and am letting them start over.  Look at all the fiddle heads that were out there.  But, the forsythia, spirea and mock orange all lost their flowers and are putting out leaves all over.  I'm happy enough to see they're alive that I don't even mind losing this year's bloom.  

This is called donkey's ear.  The leaves are soft and fuzzy like a donkey's ear and usually look much better than this.  They're not cold hardy at all and Rob had this one in a greenhouse that he built on the back of the house, taking advantage of being out of the wind and staying warmer because of the house and fireplace.  It was starting to bloom, but this weekend, it really started to get color.  It seems to be a biennial.  It needs to grow a couple of years before it blooms.  It makes a lot of babies along the edges of the lowest leaves.  I had harvested them, but lost most of them in the freeze.  I won't be able to give any away this year, but maybe next year.  

That's about it for me.  We had the tree trimmer here this week and he opened up some sun for a young tree and for my garden.  I'm looking forward to a great gardening year. 

I wear a mask.  I wear a mask because I choose to.  I wear a mast because I believe it's the right thing to do.  I wear a mask because it's not time to be complacent.  


The governor of Texas is lifting the TX mask mandate.  The gov is a tool.  The gov needs to distract people from the terrible mess that Rs made of Texas' power grid that caused all the problems a couple weeks ago.  And, he's willing to sacrifice Texas lives to draw the attention off of that.  The gov is a tool.

Everybody have a great week!  I'm working way harder than I should be.  I think I need to take a day off to spend it outside in the sun.  Take my knitting out and knit in the sunshine.



It's a Good Thing I can sew

 The falling leaves quilt is laundered and ready to ship to Rob's niece.  I love it.  He loves it.  We're pretty sure she'll love it.  I love what happens to a quilt with a cotton batting when it gets washed and dried.  

A quilt, fresh out of the drier, just makes you want to lie under it and sleep, so when I pulled it out, I laid it over Rob.  It didn't stay there but a minute, but he immediately turned his head and started fake snoring to prove the point.  I think there is a dog and maybe a cat on his lap under it and that wasn't going to last long.  (wish I'd turned it the right way for a photo.)

I love the way they crinkle up and really show off the quilting.  When we took pics before the laundry, we turned on all the lights.  But, when we took pics after, we only turned on a couple lights so they'd cast shadows and make all those echoes of quilting show off.  I like the back of this one too.  I ordered it through the mail, not quite sure of what I'd be getting.  But I bought from a reputable source and it was high quality and was perfect for this quilt.  

TV time is knitting time, so after the dishes are done, I work on the red sweater.  This is the third time I've started this sleeve.  Each time, I'd get somewhere around row 31 and realize I could do better and take it apart, using what I'd figured out to benefit the whole sleeve.  Just these few inches, 10 maybe, is almost a hundred yards of thread.  Hopefully, I won't have to start the second sleeve more than once. Hopefully.

But, I kinda doubt it.  

And, in the mornings, I worked on the Canterbury bells Flower Garden quilt.  

That makes 7.  For a quilt I didn't have time to work on, I sure seem to be making good progress.   The next block up is the rose.  Only about 24 pieces, but it's all going to be about the colors.  The photo quilt block is red and pink, but I'm thinking of maybe a yellow rose.  

It's a good thing I can sew flowers because the Natural Gardener said I shouldn't expect to see very many and they're recommending we set out sugar water to feed the bees this year.  I spent several hours in the yard, cutting back the death so the new life could poke through.  It was a long task and I filled two trashcans.  Luckily my citrus trees are about to bloom and they were in the garage, so that will be some early flower, but the other things that would normally be blooming are just putting out leaves.  But, they are putting out leaves, so I just need to be a patient gardener this year.  

There's never been so little green out there.  

Oh, well.  I'm nothing if not patient...sort of.  And, this will give me a chance to try some new things, right?  Soon, the garden centers will get their new plants and we'll start the whole thing over.  

Everybody have a great Monday!  The start of a new week, and a new month.  Make a flower or plant a flower or enjoy a flower.  Bring on spring!!   Let's put this whole bleak winter thing behind us.  During the storm, Rob and I started watching Game of Thrones.  Those people always look so cold that they made us feel warmer.