I don't really have a lot to share today.  I didn't get much done last week that was special.  We had a lot going on and my thoughts are mostly with the people of Ukraine.  I started a block for the flower garden quilt and I bought some yarn for a pair of socks, but that's about it.  We had an unexpected freeze and spent time covering and uncovering plants.  We were supposed to get a new washer/dryer, but the freeze delayed deliveries, so they're coming today.  And, we voted.  Sometimes life is just a bunch of little stuff that happens.  

But, it was a good week for finding heroes.  

This is Kayleigh.  Kayleigh has Down's syndrome and she's our neighbor.  Kayleigh is a hero.  So is her Mom, despite (or maybe because of) the fact that she keeps turning the attention to Kayleigh's accomplishments instead of her own.  Last week, Kayleigh was the first person with Down's to finish the Austin marathon, all 26.2 miles of it.  Kayleigh has a wall of ribbons from other events, including half marathons, but this was her first full marathon.  And, I don't think she's going to stop there.

Kayleigh hasn't always been a marathoner.  At one time, she had multiple issues, including weight, sleep apnea, and high blood pressure.  Then her Mom decided she needed to do something and she did.  

We've watched Kayleigh develop as a runner.  She's gone from walking to jogging to running over several years.  She's gone from crying her way through it to being excited and waving back at us with a great deal of pride in her eyes.  And, she baked and brought us cookies last Cmas.  Kayleigh is a remarkable woman and a hero.  She and her Mom paint rocks and write inspiring thoughts on them and put them in the yards of neighbors.  When I walk the dog, I see their stones, smaller than a fist, painted brightly.  A couple we found in our yard have been featured on my blog.  

Kayleigh's Mom is a hero too.  She decided she wasn't going to lose her daughter to the bad health that takes so many other differently abled people while they are young.  She got Kayleigh up.  She put up with the complaints and the negative energy and she just kept pushing.  And, pushing.  And, pushing.  One day, she was talking to Rob and said 'please don't think badly of me when I sound like I'm being mean to her.  It's the only way I can get her up and moving.'  Quite the opposite.  We think more highly of her for finding a way to help her special needs child and never giving up.  Day after day after day after day.  You do what you can do and sometimes what you can do is change a life.  And she has changed her daughter's life.  

We are proud of them both and proud to know them both and glad we are their neighbors.  GO KAYLEIGH!!


Now we're below the line, so you know what's coming next.  

If you're like me, then you're glued to the news from Ukraine.  And, what we're seeing is true heroism.  Oh, I'm sure there's plenty of bad going on among the Ukrainian people, but if you're willing to see it, there's so much more good.  It seems like a good day to talk about heroes and villains.  

This is what a hero looks like when he's not being a hero.

This is what a coward and a traitor looks like in his downtime.

This 80 year old man trying to join the defenders of his country is a hero.

This is a coward, trying to run away in a crisis because it's cold.

Grandma Nadya is a hero.

This is a nazi sympathizer.

This is not.

This is a contrast between a hero that fights with his people and a coward that hid in a bunker when ordinary citizens protested too close to where he was staying.

If you're having trouble telling the difference, it's because you can't tell the difference from looking at someone.  You have to listen to what they say.  I hope the predictions that Ukraine is the end of Putin are true.  And, I hope the stink of Putin takes down Trump and his gang of moron traitor thugs.  

May God bless America.  And, Ukraine.  I pray for a free and democratic world where we help one another and build one another up instead of tear one another down in a ridiculous grab for power.  

Be well.  Have a good week.  Pray for us all.  


Age is a number

 Last week was a very nice week.  Valentine's Day was Monday.  We don't do a lot for Valentine's, but there was a card and a nice dinner.  Tuesday was my birthday.  I worked, but that evening we had a really nice dinner.  I took Wednesday and Thursday off and spent most of both days in the garden and when I wasn't out there, I was quilting, so that was pretty heavenly.  Friday, I worked again, but was so busy catching up that the day passed in the blink of an eye.  Saturday, we went to a birthday party for an old friend and Sunday, I was back in the yard again.  I could do that every week!  

One of the things I finished was the hollyhock block from the Ruby McKim flower garden quilt.  I didn't grow up with hollyhocks, so had to consult the web for pictures.  The photo quilt that came with the pattern used a blue flower.  I had trouble finding pictures of blue hollyhocks, but the quilt felt like I needed another blue block, so I went for it.  It came out pretty nice.  The yellow flower center wasn't part of the original block. They had done French knots, but lots of these blocks have French knots and all the hollyhock pictures I saw had distinct yellow centers, so I improvised.  The next block up is the geranium and it has nearly 40 pieces, most of them small independent flowers.  That's going to be fun.  I have geraniums in bloom in the greenhouse right now, so I know what that block is supposed to look like.  

I cleared the dining room table and spread the arc quilt out on it and tied knots for about 3 hours Wednesday afternoon.  I didn't get done, but I got very close before I had to stop to make dinner.  I still have maybe 20 knots to go.  Before I folded it back up, Rob and I both went over it very closely, looking for mistakes.  There are about 20 safety pins in the quilt marking spaces that are too large and need some quilting so they don't stand out and a couple of places where quilting needs to be taken out and replaced.  Not bad overall.  Shouldn't take long to finish, and soon as the rainy season starts (otherwise known as spring), I'll have plenty of time to finish it.  

Happy Birthday to me!  I was stupid and let my old glass birdbath break in the freeze a couple weeks ago, so my birthday present to me was a new one.  On Saturday, we bought a couple of large pavers and yesterday, I set and leveled them and got this all set up and filled...but forgot to take a picture, so you'll have to wait to see it in action.  I also sealed an old concrete birdbath that I've had for about 30 years that had cracked years ago and only held water for a few hours.  I'm anxious for that to dry and to get water in it and see if it will work again.  The bees have taken over one of the large baths so that should give me a couple for the birds.  

My project Wednesday morning was to lift the stones and re-set the path in the garden.  I sat on the ground and backed my way across the 40ish foot length of this pathway, lifting stones, leveling the soil, changing configurations to give me more step area and packing them back in again with ajuga around them.  Then, I started watering.  It's soooo dry here.  That's what I wanted for lifting the stones, but anything I plant is taking a lot of hand watering to keep it going until the rain starts.  One thing about gardening.  It's never finished.  But, I believe the freezing weather is over and I'm ready for the flowers to start.

This is us, on the way to the party Saturday.  We're so good in social situations.  It's a shame we don't get out more.  

Everybody have a great week!  Find something you enjoy and do the hell out of it.  There's plenty of time to work and worry and fret, so be sure to tear some time away from that just for sheer pleasure and joy.  



Happy St Valentine's Day

Okay, so it's a holiday created by candy and card makers, who cares?  It's still a reminder to say I love you.  

Every so often, I have a Monday when nothing really seems to have happened.  As much happened around here last week as happens every other week, but most of it wasn't very interesting.  

I tried to make the Barbara Brackman American Stars challenge block 2, but when I got it cut, I didn't like what I created and had a choice to cut new fabric or move forward and make adjustments.  Everybody else was making beautiful star blocks where the star was the feature and the background was more quiet.  I decided to try it with the star as the quiet part in a heavy background.  And, when I got the 8 half square triangles pieced, I realized I was not going to like that, so I cut up the rest of the red and blue fabrics and put another star in the center.  It's a beautiful block, but it's not the challenge block and it's very bold and will likely really stand out in a quilt with the other blocks I hoped to add it to (a previous Brackman BOM made with my civil war repro fabrics).  I may make the block again and use this for something else.  That decision will not have to be made for a while.  The beauty of a BOM is getting to make changes to the theme over time as new blocks are introduced.  

The block is the Star Spangled Banner block and the story she featured to accompany it was of several generations of Francis Scott Key's family.  Definitely lots of historical information I didn't know.  

I made my way all the way around the arc quilt border.  It is complete and I don't think there's anything I'm going to go back and correct in it.  That's definitely good news.  I have a couple days off this week and I'm going to lay this quilt on the dining room table and tie off the last of the knots and mark any other errors I want to correct (at this point, every safety pin is an error that will need correcting, but there aren't many).  Then, I will need to cut a black bias binding for it and this could be finished very soon.  That would make me very happy.  September 2019 when I started this quilt feels like so long ago.

The change to a more Mediterranean diet has been a climb.  It's a different way of eating and I'm getting more fresh fruit and yogurt and olives, and now, avocado.  This is what my average lunch looks like now.

This is not what my average breakfast looks like, but it was a nice treat.  Avocado toast with hummus, rye bread, a splash of lemon juice and some fresh ground black  pepper.  I see why Avocado toast is such a big deal!

Everybody have a great week!  I'll be turning 60 tomorrow.  Just another day.  But, then I remember all the friends that didn't make it to 60 and I'm humbled at my good fortune.  I celebrate and remember them.  

Everybody have a great week!  My optometrist told me I should be wearing a wide brimmed hat, so I've become a "hat guy".  This is my newest.  



I see the finish line

Quilting is the perfect thing for a weekend that's too cold to play outside, and that's exactly what I did.  We had "wintry weather" last week.  There was a little ice, a little sleet.  Bridges froze over and because Austin isn't equipped to handle that once a year event, everyone was asked to stay home.  That didn't affect me much, but Rob was home Thursday and Friday.  We ate lots of soup.  There was still a little ice on the ground yesterday in shady places, but I was able to be out in shirtsleeves and a cap for a little while.  It wasn't the kind of weather I wanted to work in the yard, tho.

So, I quilted.  I quilted lines and pearls and filler and when I was done with all that, I moved out to the boring, boring border.  Up.  Down.  Up.  Down.  Up.............  All in the ditch.  I'll never be afraid of ditch work again.  I missed the ditch on a few of them, but not many.  Ditchwork takes a lot of concentration and every so often, I'd get an idea in my head and suddenly I'd be out of the ditch.  My theory is that if I can find the errors when all the quilting is done, I'll correct them.  It saves me so much work stopping and correcting every little thing that I notice because I'm 10" away from it and laser focused.  I used to try to correct every one, but one time I left one for later and then couldn't find it again and decided that was a good idea.  Anyway, I'm 3/4 of the way around.  That's a very good thing.

I also finished the water lily block for the Flower Garden quilt.  I enjoyed this block.  And, I made adjustments.  At first, the white petal extending down into the pink center bothered me, but now, I'm kind of liking the imperfection of it.  I always look up the flowers for color inspiration and the pictures I found had overlapping petals where the colors changed, so that's cool.  If it bothers me long term, I'll adjust it again.  It's easy enough to do, if I'm very, very careful.

I made the block (sorry for the big shadow in the pic) and looked at it and thought 'meh'.  There was something off about it.  The flower didn't feel very "round", so I took it back to the cutting table and picked out a couple seams to lift some petals and took a couple petals out and played with some color.  and rounded out the pink center a little bit.  This is what it looked like before. 

This is just me bragging.  This doesn't happen on every block, but look how the lines all came together as I was piecing.  Sometimes a petal will be a little off and I have to make adjustments, but this one came together nearly perfect.  

After last year's big winter event, I made a plan to add some insulation to the greenhouse.  We bought a really big tarp and a rope and planned...well, it's easier to show it.  

The forecast low dropped Wednesday afternoon, and I decided I wanted this on, so I pulled it out and unfolded it and ran the rope through the grommets around the edge.  I used two long poles, tied to the two far corners and lifted it over the peak, one side at a time and tightened the rope.  It only took about 40 minutes and about that same amount of time to take it off, with Rob's help.  I checked the temp in there pretty often and I never saw it drop below 40*.  Love that!!  I put some old blankets over the plastic greenhouse behind it and a floodlight and I didn't lose anything in there either.  It was great!  This felt very innovative, and it made me feel even better when it was a success.  

The only thing I think I lost was a birdbath.  How did I forget to empty the birdbaths????

A lot of progress was made with the manager last week.  He had to administer my performance evaluation.  All the things I do and all the potential for things I can do.  It gave me the opportunity to talk about myself, what I want, what I like, what I enjoyed.  Before he talked to me, he talked to his boss, who I worked for about 13 years ago, about me and what I'd accomplished over the last year.  I think the thing he said to me that impressed me the most was that I always have an opinion and I'm always willing to share it and even if a different decision is made, I'm willing to make sure the project succeeds.  Self promotion is very important.  

Everybody have a great week!  Stay warm.  And, try to get a little sewing done.