check and double-check

Still focused.  Still finishing things.  I knocked out a couple projects this weekend...and I started another one.  Because that's what I do.  And, that's the only way I'm going to get through my project list in this lifetime.  

I finished the block for the Ruby McKim flower quilt.  Bleeding hearts.  Yes, there is still some blue ink in it.  I didn't follow the steps last night to make those go away completely.  I'm tracing the shapes with blue water soluble ink instead of pencil.  It's especially nice on the smaller pieces, but the piece needs hand washing after, and I forgot that and tried to spritz it.  Thank goodness I didn't forget and iron it.  Bleeding heart isn't something I've seen before that I can remember, so had to go to the www for pictures.  Not sure about that deep red.  This is block 13 of 25, so I've passed the half way point.  (I really should go back to pencil, shouldn't I?)

Here are the other 12.  I laid them out to feel inspired.  And, it's working.  

I've been working on this afghan for a while.  I've been designing it for several years, and each time navy, off-white or burgundy yarn came to me (I inherit a lot of yarn), I'd hold onto it until finally, there was enough to make an afghan.  And, there's still a lot left.  I could have made this project a long time ago.  I think the ripple pattern is perfect for a flag.  I didn't have a pattern.  I made it up as I went, and when I was halfway there, I realized it wasn't right and luckily, Rob suggested I lay it out the other way, and that worked perfectly.  It's perfect size for one person.  Rob and Syd have challenged me to add the stars in the blue field.  I even figured out how to make a white star, but it was complicated and when I thought of making 50 of them, it felt overwhelming and I gave it up after 5.  Last night, I think I came up with an easier way, so you may see this again soon.  

I can't do appliqué and watch TV.  That finger work isn't convenient when we're spending time together in the evening.  Oddly, I can both knit and crochet without having to look down at my work very often, which is convenient when the spaceship is taking off with the main character hidden in the trash compactor, and the damsel in distress on deck with the villain...or whatever we're watching at the time.  I've decided to make my next project a pair of gloves.  Somehow, I've ended up with several skeins of gray sport weight yarn and it's the perfect weight.  I've been hunting for patterns and found a couple I like.  Last night, I made my gauge square it came out exactly 4x4".  I think I'm ready to go.  

I've been taking new pictures of the back yard since the trees have been cut.  The team came back this week and finished.  The yard looks great and I expect that next year, I'll be able to grow tomatoes, which I haven't been able to do before and the year after, I should get a bumper crop of crabapples.  But, for this year, I'm keeping an eye out for plants that won't be able to take the additional sun so I can make plans to get them moved.  I'd created the garden based on part sun at most, and it is no longer part.  The sunny end is full sun almost all day, at least for a few years.  

I couldn't resist taking a picture of the cat bathing the dog.  This doesn't happen often, but it's not exactly a rare occurrence either.  Apparently the dog smells bad and the cat wants to fix that.  The dog looks compliant, but she's not.  She's tolerating it, but after about a minute, she jumps up and the cat runs off.  I guess the dog doesn't want to smell better.  Or at least doesn't want to smell like cat.  

Stuff was weird at work last week.  My boss and I ended up on the opposite side of several decisions.  That's always awkward, right?  But, I clearly explained my positions and offered to adapt to new management.  Unfortunately, my boss didn't say anything, so I don't know if he agrees, disagrees, doesn't care, or is too busy to try to change my mind.  Hate that feeling.  But, at the same time, proud of the way I explained what I think and proud that I wasn't defensive in any way, just stating the facts as I see them.  And, it didn't hurt that in the end, after they'd done the research I requested, I turned out to be right and had guessed precisely what happened that led to the situation that needed a decision, and it turned out not to be a problem.  I been doing this for a LONG time.  

I also had a peer's manager reach out to me to talk about the work I do.  It was clear she was comparing our contributions.  I hate that.  Everybody's good at some aspects of the job.  Some of us are good at stuff that doesn't get much attention.  I'm good at the stuff that does get attention and that sometimes makes other managers think they're employee isn't doing as good a job.  Sometimes I have to gently refocus a manager on the cool stuff their employee is doing by asking as many questions as I answer.  I'm also starting to pass along some of my high profile projects so others can get attention, too.  (But, good lord, I love those high profile projects that get my name spread all up and down the chain of command...  That does not make me a bad person.  I got those projects by saying yes when others were saying no to additional work.)

Everybody have a great week!  Find something you enjoy and enjoy the hell out of it.  



The trees

 The focus this week was on having trees cut.  Our large ash trees that shade the back yard were damaged in the big freeze last February.  The advice from people we trust was to leave them and see what would recover.  Unlike many of our neighbors, we lived with the dead branches cluttering the view.  Others had the trees removed right away, causing a shortage of tree services, and as happens with supply and demand, the price went up and anyone charging a reasonable rate was booked solid.  By the heat of August, it was pretty clear how much was not coming back.  We're about to have the fences replaced and we realized we didn't want anyone pulling limbs through our new gate, at least for a while.  We decided to text the tree guy.  Sent him pictures of the damage, explained what we wanted in a few words including the species.  He replied on vacation two weeks.  We patiently waited.  He got back from vacation and replied he didn't do that kind of work anymore.  As annoying as it was that he left us hanging for two weeks, I get that.  He's a one man operation; he cuts and his wife picks up and piles.  This was a big job, so we called our second choice.  They sent a guy to do an estimate and a week later, he had a crew in our trees, taking care of business.  This tree was about 70% dead.  It had always been "scrawny", squeezed between two other trees, and it didn't make it.  

And, in our much larger ash, we had ends like this all around and at the top.  Anytime the wind blew, they'd come tumbling down, so not safe and not pretty.  

Our tree service did a great job.  There were four guys here for a day and a half, plus two hours late Friday evening doing cleanup.  They're still not quite done and have put us on schedule for another half day in a. couple weeks.  

My only frustration was that the man that gave us the estimate was not very firm on the date they'd be here and I thought they were coming this Thursday, 09/23.  That would have given me two weekends to get everything up out of the yard that they might damage.  I got about half done Saturday before last, but thought I had another week.  He called Wednesday night during dinner to let me know he'd be at our house on 09/16.  I got up that morning, did my yoga and my walk and then I was in the back yard.  Sprayed up with bug repellant, I got started and using the dolly and a tall ladder, I got everything moved out to the edges of the yard, clumping stuff together so there were fewer places in the yard that I needed them to be careful in.  And, they were very careful.  They poked a small hole in the greenhouse roof.  We'll be patching that with shipping tape for a little while.  And, they flattened a chrysanthemum.  I knew going into it that Chrysanthemum would be damaged, it was tooooo in the way.  But, I've tied it up and and we will see.  It'll still be there next year.  

My mind is getting more organized and so is my project list.  I was able to focus my mind and then my project list.   I've been all over the place lately and my projects in progress reflected it.  So, I focused on one thing at a time and finished my boxers.  That wasn't my best work and I think maybe I should stick to non-stretchy cotton quilting fabric, so no pics.  And, I dug in on the afghan that I'm not sharing until it's finished.  I got almost done.  Just five rows to go, so pics next week.  Once the boxers were done, I had to reset the Bernina to quilting mode and do some cleaning around my work space so I can get back to quilting the arc quilt.  That just leaves the hand quilted xmas quilt and the Ruby McKim bleeding heart block.  I can manage a couple projects in process at once, but 5 was a little overwhelming.  

I think my lack of focus was about work.  The new boss and I aren't meshing the way I wish we were.  I thought it was me, but I talked to my teammate this week and she's feeling the same way.  Anyway, he does things different and I've been struggling to get used to the way he thinks, which has meant giving a lot of "wrong" opinions.  Last week, I finally was able to do something above and beyond and get that first "attaboy" I've been waiting for.  Should I be ashamed that suddenly things started to come back in focus and I immediately felt more relaxed?  Doesn't matter.  I'm not ashamed of needing what I need to be a top performer.  

Okay, I've just looked up and realized the aquarium filter has stopped, so I've gotta go take care of that.  But, I'll leave you with this picture of a lemon cake.

And, this thought for the day.

Everybody have a great week!  Stay strong no matter what.  Take what you need.  



When the weather has a different plan

 This is my 1962nd blog post.  I was born in 1962.  Wow!  That's a lot of me sharing.  Some of it was probably pretty good, but I shudder to think about the rest of what might be out there.  Honestly, not that much has changed.  I'm still interested in the same stuff I was when I started, I've just practiced and gotten better at it.  

I have too many projects going on and therefore have finished nothing.  I have a machine quilted quilt, a hand quilted quilt, an afghan, an appliqué block and now a garment sewing project.  And, oddly, I feel that way in my life as well.  I have a lot going on.  But, it doesn't feel so much like a chore or a burden.  It's just life happening around me and me moving along with it and moving from project to project.  

I worked on the sweater some more last week.  I sewed on the buttons and that meant I could seal it up in a storage box with some cedar pieces to keep moths out of it, along with all the other wool garments that it's generally too hot to wear in TX.  Fortunately, the cedar is working and everything looked just like when I folded and stored it.  

I also shrunk the sweater some more.  Before I put it away, I tried it on again and buttoned it and it fit different buttoned and was still huge.  I dampened it and put it back in the dryer for a while and it came out much better.  The underarms still feel low, but I think that's more how it's made than the size.  I'm so glad I went off pattern the lower the shoulders and bring the underarms up a little.  Wish I'd done more.

How about an inspirational reminder of the Ruby McKim Flower Garden quilt?  I needed to do this to get me back on track with that project.  Twelve blocks made.  Thirteen to go.  The next block is Bleeding Hearts.  Everything cut, marked and ready to go.  I only got as far as the leaves, tho.

I got distracted by men's underwear and sewing with stretchy fabrics.  I saw a pair of men's boxer briefs that I liked but could not find anywhere online to buy, so I decided to try to make them.  I bought a pair of sweat pants at Goodwill for $2 and took them apart and I found a pattern for a basic pair of boxer briefs online that I could alter to add the features I wanted, like a fully functioning fly and a waistband with elastic and a belt tie.  There was enough fabric for two tries, so I cut the first one out and sewed the pieces together using several techniques on the seams until I found what worked best for me.  I got the basics assembled and tried them on and miraculously, they fit.  They look huge laid flat and Rob and I both predicted they'd be too big.  And, yesterday, I cut out the real pair and got started and after a lot more mistakes than I made on the practice pair, I got them mostly together.  Just the hems and waistband to go.  I guess we will see whether this is something I can wear.  Or maybe something I shouldn't wear.  

We're getting ready for tree trimmers soon and fence builders after that, so I had to get started moving stuff out of the way and cleaning up the cluttered places in the garden, like where I stored extra pots and fencing and stuff like that.  That was all under a tree that was killed by the February freeze and we're having it taken out.  It didn't recover.  Fortunately, the really big tree did mostly recover and they're just removing branches at the ends of the limbs from it.   While I was there, I saw this Cape Fuchsia in bloom. This was a half price plant that I brought home and put in some shade to recover, then put in some hot sun and it went mad with bloom. 

And, this is a TX red star hibiscus seedling that's blooming.  Mine bloomed and there's one around the corner that I shared that also bloomed.  I have a bunch more plants to give away this year.  

We went to Goodwill yesterday to drop off several boxes of stuff and of course that meant we had to go in.  We both scored some clothes and Rob scored this turntable that looks like a suitcase.  I don't think he was impressed but I liked it a lot.  

And, I scored this Fostoria Americana divided bowl for $3.  Linda gave us some of these pieces and I've added a couple that I've found like this, for really cheap.  Not the same kind of collector I used to be.  

Okay, that's it for me.  I spent a good bit of yesterday getting the company ready for tropical storm Nicholas and have been up this morning doing updates and I just saw another update from the NHC come through, so I need to get up and get on it.  Everybody have a great week!  Do something you enjoy.  
I'll leave you with this thought.



Labor Day random thoughts

One of the first lines in the movie Picnic is 'Son, nobody works on Labor Day.'  But, in today's world, a lot of people work on Labor Day.  Fortunately, I'm not going to be one of them.  We'll have a lazy day, and I hope the most strenuous thing I do all day is walk the dog.  

I've been crocheting and quilting and haven't managed to move anything forward very far.  I'm politically pissed off but don't plan to let that be what my day is about.  It's hot and humid and really, all I want to do is lay on the couch, but we both know that's not what my day will be about either.  Maybe I'll focus today on making a flower block or spend the day quilting on the arc quilt, or maybe clear up this cluttered sewing room.  But, those sound very ambitious this early in the morning.  We'll have to see how the day progresses and whether a second coffee will help.  

The back yard is full of butterflies and hummingbirds.  I worked hard for that and am enjoying it every day.  I have two hummers fighting over the feeder.  Pitched battles like a WWII Air Force enlistment movie.  

Syd came for dinner the other night.  We had such a nice visit.  She and I have found our 'relationship stride' and are enjoying it.  It's not that the past doesn't come up, but when it does, we can all laugh about it.  She's telling us a story, a little at a time.  When she was in school sports, she'd have to be at practice sometimes at 5 or 6 in the morning.  Every morning, I'd make her two breakfast tacos and wrap them in foil and they'd stay warm until after practice.  She's been telling us how she'd eat one and trade one to someone to do her homework, or to sit in a certain way so the teacher couldn't see her sleeping in the back of the room.  It would be so easy to be upset about her having someone else do her homework and sleeping in class.  But, honestly, what does it matter now?  She's made her choices and she's leading her life and I can listen to the story objectively, like it was being told by a friend or colleague and laugh at the Tom Sawyer-ish nature of it.  That's what parenting Syd requires.  

Someone in the neighborhood is chalking slogans protesting the abortion ban on the sidewalks.  I am feeling her frustration.  This is all about a power grab and has nothing to do with the lives of babies.  If it did, they'd be trying to make things better for the babies we already have instead of trying to add more  unwanted babies to an already overtaxed system.  Don't let 'em fool you.  It's never about what they say it is.  It's always about grabbing as much power as possible so they can tell the rest of us to sit down and shut up.  

I've ordered supplies to re-work the drapes in the studio.  I can't quite get the effect I'm looking for there.  They're great, but they're not quite 'right', so I'm giving them one last try.  If I can't get happy, I'm going to look for another alternative.  

I need to make a Linus quilt.  Sometimes, all I need to do is something that makes me happy and will hopefully make someone else happy too.  Doing things for others makes me feel good.

I want to piece and quilt a quilt on a treadle machine.  It's been too long since I sat at a treadle and sewed.  I enjoy the rhythm of that.  

I remembered how to spell the word rhythm.  I was counting on auto-correct and didn't need it.  Now, if I can just stop misspelling teh.  It's the simple things that are the most frustrating.  

I talked not long ago about making an all green quilt.  This is where I learned my lesson about monochromatic (spell check did have to lend a hand on that one) quilts.  It was a much better idea than project.  It was going to be a baby quilt, but it's huge, so I ended up making the baby something else.  I don't even remember which baby it was, but they must have been special for me to go to the effort of feathered star blocks.  

And, speaking of babies, I want to end with a happy new baby picture.  No politics, just a happy couple welcoming not one but two new babies into their family.  They will be an inspiration to a new generation of gay parents.  Bless them, every one.  

My mind does not work in a straight line.  I sat down to write that I was taking Labor Day off from the blog and look where I ended up.

Be well.  Enjoy the holiday if you're getting to celebrate.  If we don't shop on days like this, stores won't feel the need to be open.  

Just sayin'