Too hot to move

Every day, we get a message from Austin Energy advising us to conserve power in the late afternoon/evening, and I can't help but wonder if this is the day the Texas power grid will fail.  The more the governor tries to assure us everything will be okay, the more I worry that it won't...because, as is common in his party, he is not familiar with the concept of truth.  The system is not built to handle the needs of Texans in any kind of extreme weather.  Power went out last night for about an hour.  We decided to pull out the generator and the portable a/c, just to have them unpacked and ready in case.  And, what else did we have to do?  Fortunately we didn't need them, but they're there and ready, like insurance.  

I didn't do anything crafty this week.  Not a stitch of crochet, knitting or quilting.  It was too busy, and by the end of the day, all I could do was sit and watch TV.  I did however buy a sewing machine and it should be here in a day or two.  Here are my expectations...we'll see if I purchased well or not.  

I love my Bernina Record 930.  I love the all metal construction and its power.  I love that it will sew all day without any complaint and that the thread never knots or breaks unless I do something stupid.  And, I love, love, love that there's no computerization.  The most fancy thing it does is needle down by a heel tap in the foot pedal.  It's the machine that has quilted all my quilts and we estimate that I've put over a million stitches on it.  But, it's starting to sound "tired" after a day of quilting and the foot pedal gets cranky after several hours, and I think it's time for some lighter duties for it...it's great at making shirts where I'm not constantly sewing for long periods of time.  

Sew, I bought another one just like it.  I shopped carefully.  I could have gotten one cheaper.  Because they're such workhorses, there are still plenty on the market.  But I was looking for slightly used.  I used the markers of use on my machine as my guide to knowing what slightly used would look like.  The sewing surface needed to be shiny.  On my machine, a thousand tiny scratches and heat buildup have taken the shine and "slick" off that surface.  It couldn't have chipped paint.  Some of them had lost all the paint around the feed dog area.  Definite sign of heavy use.  The wheel end of the machine has a piece of plastic covering that turns yellow when exposed to sun, so I looked at machines where that was still off-white, hoping it means they've been stored in their cases for long periods of time.  And, I wanted a video of the machine in use.  I held those videos next to my machine and listened to the difference.  Where my machine makes a small sound like metal rubbing against rubber, it should make a distinct clicking sound as the needle rises and falls.  I found all of that in a few machines and while I was shopping, one seller reduced the price twice to something much more reasonable, so it felt like a little karma.  I spent the weekend cleaning up in the studio so it would be easy to do the machine swap.  Who knew that I had pulled out half of what I own and stacked it on every cutting or sewing surface?  Almost all of it is back in its place now...most of it anyway.  It was a LOT.  I'll put the old machine in a cabinet and move it in for regular sewing and the new one will be designated for quilting.  

I spent yesterday afternoon with my arm in the aquarium.  I had a good filter that lasted 10 years and then started to get loud.  I pulled out my alternate filter, which I always keep on hand for emergencies and remembered why it's my alternate and not my primary, so I bought a filter like the one that had given such good service and set it up and it was louder than the original one after 10 years of service.  Yesterday, we bought a different one and I spent a good bit of the day organizing the aquarium and swapping out the filters.  I am very happy with my afternoon's work.  Of course, after all that, the fish would not come out to have their picture taken.  

I'm starting to slowly move back into the greenhouse.  I've bought a few new things for it, like a trashcan and step stool and am collecting cache pots so everything isn't in growers pots.  I'm going for a look.  I bought a new fan that we're about ready to hang on the wall and we bought the new storm door yesterday. That and a couple paint touchups and a couple more shelves and it will be ready to go!

In addition to my regular job, I help coordinate the company's response to weather events and last week was a lot!  Fires, tropical storms, hurricanes, flooding...the weather was all over the place.  It took a lot of my time, and by end of week, I was pooped!  This week isn't shaping up much better.  Climate change is real, y'all.  No matter what lies the fossil fuel industry tells, the truth is visible by just looking at the weather.  

Everybody have a great week!  Stay cool and dry and keep an eye on the people around you to make sure they're doing the same.  


(lookie there...I made it all the way through without making fun of trump lying about his weight!  I'm so proud of me!)



With the water restrictions, I ended up spending a little time every morning watering with a hand held hose.  It worked, and I'm hoping it keeps working.  A couple things are even blooming, including this daylily that's giving a second bloom. I didn't realize that you have to live in an area that gets hot enough for a second bloom, I just took them for granted until someone explained that.  Sorry for the bad pic, but the sun is so bright that it's hard to get a picture.  The flowers aren't as vibrant as they were in spring and by end of day, they're faced to a pale orange, but I get to enjoy them in the morning.  

This is what they looked like in the spring.  

I put out that new birdbath and have been patiently waiting for the birds to come back.  This is not what I had in mind.  It sat there for several minutes looking around.  I wasn't sure if I should scare it off or just sit at the window and enjoy the majesty of this magnificent bird.  

The regular birds have started to come back too, and they're trying to see how often they can empty the feeders.  

I need to make a baby quilt for a co-worker.  I was wearing a brightly colored plaid shirt when she told me she was pregnant and when I asked what color she preferred, she said the colors in your shirt.  I found this picture of a quilt on Etsy that is in the colors of that shirt...but I 'm not sure about it.  That feels like a lot for a baby quilt.  But, I guess it wouldn't show stains.  We'll see.  I'm still looking at pictures for inspiration.   

Yesterday, I decided to make tomato jam.  I'd never done it before.  Other than the fact that it took most of the afternoon and ended up with such a small batch, it was wonderful!  I had a couple spoonfuls more than would fill the jars and we had it last night with crackers and cream cheese...it is to swoon over!

Sydney kept asking 'why not just buy ketchup' and after I tasted it, I have an answer to that.  

Last week was a crazy week at work.  The stress settled into my lower back and I've struggled with a backache all weekend.  Today, it's better, just in time for another week crazy week at work.  But, there's not so much planned for this week, so hopefully, it will go smoother.  

I found a couple political things to share.  

This one may become my new mantra.

Everybody have a great week!  Stay out of trouble, unless trouble is what you enjoy...then 'cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war'...or create all the trouble your pocketbook can afford.



Goin to the dogs

 It's the dog days of summer and quite frankly, I'm melting.  I can hardly wait until mid-September when it cools off and starts to rain again.  Austin moved to stage 2 water restrictions, which means we can only use sprinklers one day a week.  I hate that, but I get it, and know it could be worse.  We gave everything a good watering on Saturday and I can do some hand held hose watering during the week to keep the plants in pots and a couple of especially vulnerable areas watered.  And, watch the garden start to brown. 

But, that's okay because it will all start over again in September for a fall spurt of growth to feed the roots through winter.  I have identified a few plants that can't take the heat in their current spot and will try to move them into a little shadier spot for next year.  

Mary asked last week if I was having trouble quilting through all the layers on the triangle quilt.  I'm not having too much trouble.  Part of that is how I ironed the seam allowances during construction.  I was very careful about getting them all turned the right way so they created as little buildup as possible, so much so that I took it to quilt guild, not so much to show the front, but to show the back of the quilt top.  I was very proud.  I'm careful about trying not to sew through the thickest parts.  The hardest part was the center where the squares are 1".  That was a lot of seam allowance to try to avoid.  When I was doing the spiral, it required precise placement, so I had to sew through the seam allowances, but with the feathering, I can make a slightly bigger or smaller feather to try to avoid the worst of the joins.  

Mable is doing well.  When this all started, she had a terrible intestinal infection and that has cleared up for the most part (it took three rounds of antibiotics).  She's comfortable and eating well and everything is working.  She gets lots of attention and treats.  Did I mention lots of attention?

We walk every day and she gets to sniff everything and enjoy being outside her yard.  The vet said this could go on for a while, so we're going to enjoy every minute of it.  She and Bella took over the couch last night and neither would budge to make room for me, so I was relegated to sit elsewhere.  By the dogs...

Rob finished the first shelving unit for the greenhouse.  One more of these and replacing the storm door and this project will be finished.  He's given me clearance to start moving in some plants, but it was too hot yesterday afternoon to get to that.  

Syd's still here.  Still.  On August 1, I reminded her that it was time to start thinking about apartments.  Tomorrow, I plan to ask how far she's gotten, but I already know the answer.  She will not like my thoughts on that, but it will get her motivated to really start looking.  We're starting to pull back on some of the privileges she's enjoyed, like just because we go somewhere doesn't mean we have to take her.  We can go on dates.  And, we're going to the grocery on Sunday when it's convenient for me, even if she is shopping while sleeping.  We continue to get along for the most part and I guess that's what counts.  I still want to be friends when she moves on.  

Yesterday, I made 1/3 of a recipe of Martha Stewart's Mac and Cheese.  To me, it is the best homemade M&C.  Not pictured are the tiny banana bread made from the one overripe banana that was left last week and a pitcher of delicious peach and blackberry sangria.  I was having fun in the kitchen.

Couple thoughts I found this week.  

And, where's the special prosecutor for this?

Thoughts and prayers (the real kind) to the people of Lahaina and Maui Island.  My family vacationed there when I was a young man and I have fond memories.  Such a sad event for such a normally happy place.  

Everybody have a great week!  Find something you want to do to change your life and let your life change.  Living is constantly evolving into something newer and better.  



Hot enough out for quilting

 It's sooo hot here.  So hot that by 10am, I'm inside and ready for a shower.  It's time for inside work.  I spent both afternoons this weekend at the Bernina, quilting on the HST quilt, which should be called something like "Endurance" (but it won't be).  I'm ready to work on something else and have decided it's time to finish this one.  

One thing I noticed as I sat there was a feeling that I should be up doing something more important.  That's very different than a couple years ago when it would have been 'I have to get up and do something else...no, I really have to...I'm getting up.  See me getting up?  I'm moving like the wind'...and yet I'd just keep quilting.  It felt good to say 'no, I really don't have anything more important to do.'

I decided I wanted to quilt a spiral in this quilt, from the center out to the edge, then fill in the corners by echoing the spiral.  It was a mess and I tried a couple times and messed with it and picked quilting out of it and tried other things, but I always kept coming back to that spiral.  And, I got discouraged and filled with 'I can't do this' thoughts.  Then, I remembered that my old theory of quilting was that if I could see the mistakes, there wasn't enough quilting.  This is it, next to my machine.  I love looking over and seeing how the perspective on the triangles changes as the quilt moves.

I used the spiral that I'd managed to put in badly and added a feather along one side.  The spiral is continuous, so the feather fills the space and hides how "off" the spiral is.  I've been toying with going around it again to add an echo.  I'll decide if it needs it when I'm done.  The gray 100wt silk thread I'm using disappears in the piecing, so the feathers are not a distraction like I was afraid they'd be.  It was hard to get them to show up in a photo.  I'm finally excited about the quilt again and am hoping I can power through it.  I really would like to get to something else.  Something smaller and quicker to finish.  I miss piecing, but part of my change in attitude about quilting was to stop making new pieces until some of what I've got started gets finished.  

A couple years ago, when we had our first 7* freeze that lasted several days, I cracked or broke all three birdbaths.  What did I know about that kind of freezing weather in the south.  Two concrete ones still held water but dripped and I replaced the glass one.  I decided to repair the two concrete ones and looked on the internet and found an idea that sounded good and executed it...and the birds stopped coming to my yard.  The solution was to spray it with prune and seal like a cut tree limb.  But, don't.  That becomes a sticky, stinky oily mess when there's water in the bath and soon as I'd done it, the birds put up a "bad water" sign on my yard and all went away.  

This weekend, we replaced both baths.  One, we had to buy a new pedestal for, but the other we put on an existing pedestal.  The one with the gnome may have to be moved.  I may have put it in too sunny a spot where it will get too hot, but I'll find a place.  Next, I need to trick the birds into coming back to the yard.  

This is a picture of the greenhouse with the shade cloth hung in it.  Rob has started assembling shelves and we're going to be moved back in here before you know it.  

The Beagle is still beagling and the ride is a roller-coaster.  We measure days on a scale of 1-10.  After a couple of 7s in a row, Friday was a 9, Saturday was a 3 and Sunday was an 8.  When she feels good, she feels very good.  And, sometimes, that's the best any of us can hope for, me included.  It's taking a toll on Rob, but in the main, he's enjoying the good times with her.  But I hate to see him low on the bad days.  Here she is, trying to con Sydney out of some cooked chicken one morning.  Bella follows along because we can't give a treat to just one of them, and she knows it.  

Okay, that's it for me today.  Enjoy the week.  Enjoy the people and things you love.  Smile every time you get a chance.  It means something to people when you do.