Saturday, July 31, 2010

It's in the genes ...

... or "in the blood," as some people would put it. My little granddaughter spent some time with me recently. She was eager to put her new sewing skills to use, and spent most of one day stitching a quilt. She chooses her pieces, carefully arranging them just so. It's a work in progress -- she does a little bit more every time she comes. I am amused to see that we're attracted to the same colors -- she raids my stash and claims the fabrics she likes best. Now we keep her stash separate from mine, so I won't use up all her stuff. (?!?)

The funny part is, after we come back home from the studio, she sits and colors with her markers. "Wanna see the design I made for my next quilt, MaMa? Do you think this will be pretty?" Or while we're out bike riding, she'll be chatting away, "... on my NEXT quilt, I'm going to ... " She hasn't finished the first, but she's already got several more in the planning stages. A girl after my own heart, that one!


Pretty soon they're going to have to install a traffic signal on our little country road, what with all the folks coming by to have a peek:

Is it a Martian landing site? Nope. It's major construction on the farm next door. People come from miles around to see the progress. If you live anywhere in Northeast Pennsylvania, you'll know what I'm talking about. If you don't, you'll just have to stay tuned for updates.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

what's wrong with this picture ... ?

At least once a week, I get an e-mail message from my favorite commercial yarn source. (Notice, I HAD to make the distinction there, regarding commercial yarn. My favorite source of yarn otherwise would be my flock of sheep. Just a stickler for detail, I guess. For those who know me: Joking. Just joking.)

This morning's message announces a new yarn, made of wool and nettles. Nettles?!? Mmmm ... sounds lovely. Not.

I know a guy who once went to the emergency room after working in his yard a little while. He thought he had a violent allergic reaction to something after pulling weeds. He had a "terrible stinging sensation all over his arms and legs ..." Bwah-hah-ha-ha ... He had recently moved from the city to the country and had his first run-in with nettles. (Side note: this guy always seems to find more excuses not to work than most folks, so he might have thought he'd found his best excuse ever with this one, only to discover it's nothing out of the ordinary and would not even afford him one single sick day. It still makes me chuckle.)

Now, I'm pretty sure the manufacturer of the new yarn MUST have done something to render the nettles harmless before incorporating it with wool to make a new yarn, but still ... there's just something about the very idea of it that makes me itchy. And it's NOT the wool!

Something I read about nettles: it used to be used as a counter-irritant to rheumatism. The sufferer would be whipped with the nettles, and the pain of nettle stings would make the afflicted person forget about the pain of the rheumatism. Nice!

Supposedly, nettles can be eaten after you boil the sting out of them. Yeah, right. I once paddled out into the middle of a pond with a neighbor to pick cattails because we'd read that they tasted "just like asparagus" when cooked. Blykk! Tasted like pond bottom to me! I suspect cooked nettles would be similarly palatable. Thanks, but no thanks. And you can keep them out of my wool, too.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Is it just me?

Look at these boots, and tell me: is there something about the white one that is reminiscent of a foot cast? Hmmmmm ... wonder where THAT idea came from? Maybe the designer is making a statement?

Or is it just my suspicious nature in high gear? My take: it looks like a cross between a cast and my old ski boots, with the added benefit of that wobbly heel. Do they still make ski boots like that? So rigid you cannot bend your foot at all, resulting in a Frankenstein-like walk sans skis? (Haven't been downhill skiing in many, many years. The last time I went I didn't realize I was coming down with the flu at the time, but once I got to the top of the hill on the lift, I wondered how I would ever get to the bottom alive. I was soooooo tired I couldn't function, so took the skis off and walked all the way down the mountain. I knew it would have been the end of me if I had tried to make it on skis. I wasn't a very good skier to begin with, and felt my chances of survival were much higher without the incredible speed and treachery afforded by strapping myself to slicked-up sticks aimed for destruction.)

Okay, I'll admit. Fashion is not my forte, and when it comes to feet I'm ALL about comfort (style be damned!), but I have to wonder how/why anybody would want to torture their feet into something that looks like a disaster waiting to happen. I do have to say that I'm thankful for the company that sends the catalog. It takes little to amuse me, I guess.

Weather has been tortuous here. As if an on-going heat wave weren't enough, the humidity has been incredible. Upside: looks like the tomatoes will produce a bumper crop this year. We had our first two ripe ones Friday. That's early for our garden -- doesn't usually happen till August. Mmm ... mmm! Nothing like a fresh ripe tomato, after waiting all year. Actually, we've been waiting two years, because we didn't get any last year. The garden drowned last year due to incessant rains from May till September. We got no tomatoes, or much else for that matter.

We did finally get rain. Ahhhh ... things are already starting to green back up. Green's my favorite color. I'm liking the look. There were warnings of a possible tornado here late yesterday. The ONE place I don't want to see green is in the sky. Once when visiting my son's family while they were living in Texas, they said if the sky turned greenish, watch out -- that was an indicator of a tornado nearby.

I am now on my way out to the garden, trying to beat the worst of the heat. It's already got a head start on me.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Two-Faced ...

(the quilt, not the woman!)
Linda was here for the first time yesterday, and did this two-faced quilt. Cool, eh?

Cathy is at it again -- designing her own patterns. They will be published and made available soon. I'll post any news on this front as soon as I hear it. Anyway ... we're excited for Cathy and her new business venture.

And we're FINALLY getting some much-needed rain. The good kind that soaks in. I'm excited.

Has anybody noticed that since they took the trans fat out of things like cookies and crackers, they're all crumbly? Now, I realize it was done supposedly out of consideration for our health and that it all goes in the same place anyway, so it's not really a big deal. But I find it annoying to try to have a little snack of crackers and cheese when this is what you get when you open the package:

Is it just me?

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Feeling loopy, seeing stars ...

No, I haven't been drinking; rather, quilting. While Peggy C was finishing up a really, really large (measured something like 99 x 120 inches) quilt for a special family friend, here:

I was doing this one for Joyce R.:

You can see the loops and stars better from the back:

Well, in this photo it looks more like loops and loops -- but it really does have a nice balance of stars if you could see the whole back at once. This is actually just a bit of the red band that goes down the middle. The blue fabric reflected the flash from my camera for reasons unbeknownst to me, so was an even worse photo.

Peggy's quilt turned out great, and I couldn't believe how quickly she got it finished. She was out of here before 3:00 today. I, on the other hand, dawdled a lot and was still "working" at 3:30 -- and this was not a very large quilt. If I'd not spent so much time looking at pictures in books, it wouldn't have taken so long. I was trying to plan the next quilt I am going to make for myself. I have one in mind, but couldn't remember where I'd seen it, so was on a hunt.

I did manage to get home before the torrential rains started. Just as I suspected would happen, we got a heavy downpour once it finally decided to rain here. What we really need is a nice, steady soaker. (M'Jo, if you're reading this, I STILL blame YOU!)

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Trying to be helpful?

No matter what we're doing around here lately, there will be a batch of kittens getting right into it with us. DH was replacing gutters at the back of the house. The kittens volunteered to try them out before he installed them. It makes a great kitty slide.

And here they are on, in and under my garden cart -- "helping" with yard work.

And ... he's baaaa-aa-ack;

Tuck is actually a big help, shown here taking a break, having just gone to help round up cows in the woods and bring them back to the pasture.

A friend gave me a calendar with photos of Border Collies. One page attributes this to "Unknown":

He is your friend, your partner, your defender, your dog.
You are his life, his love, his leader. He will be yours,
faithful and true, to the last beat of his heart.
You owe it to him to be worthy of such devotion.

(Whoever wrote it must have known my Tuck!)

Friday, July 9, 2010

No-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o ...

Did you hear me yelling this morning from your house? Here's what happened -- I went to the barn to do chores this morning, and thought I was going to have an easy time of it because the cows didn't come down to the gate. The rule is, if they don't come down on time, they stay in the upper pasture all day. Often, that's their choice in the summer because they have plenty of water there, can go to the woods for shade, lots of grass, and a pond to take a dip in when they feel like it.

Heading back to the house and pondering what I'd do first after breakfast today, I glanced up to the garden. At first I thought there was a cow inside the garden fence. I'm paranoid about cows getting where they ought not, so dismissed it and went inside. Then, about two seconds later, I decided I was going to have another look. There was not a cow in the garden, there were ten of them! Nooooo-ooo-oo-o-o-o-o!

I about threw a fit and stepped in it. I rushed up to see what could be rescued from certain demolishment (is that a word? who cares ... it works). I opened the gate that leads to the pasture, called for assistance from my faithful friend Tuck (who was, as always, eager to help). I sent him around the perimeter to get behind the cows, I went to the open gate and called Stooge. She's pretty much the leader of the pack. Imagine my amazement when the cows all lined up, single file, and paraded straight out through the open gate! All that was lost besides the corn were a few pepper plants. A few bean plants got squashed. The mulch needed to be tidied where it had been kicked up, but other than that ... very little damage. Whew! What a relief.

I discovered that the corner post of the fence had been uprooted, allowing them all to prance right over the fence and into the garden. For the life of me, I cannot figure out why. Unless it has something to do with that aura thing again ...

I stayed in the garden until I was woozy from the heat. I figured it would be worth at least 6 pounds, according to the information given on the news about losing a quart of water an hour in this heat. Well ... either they are nuts, or my scale has joined forces with everything else in my life that works against me. I didn't seem to lose an ounce for all the sweat that poured out of me.

I spent the rest of the day finishing up a customer's quilt:

This one belongs to Louise W, and is very pretty, don't-cha think? See those pink lilies behind the quilt in the photo? They just opened up this morning. A big yellow swallowtail butterfly just couldn't seem to get enough. They DO smell very sweet. I think he decided he'd better not attempt to fly home after such a binge. He seems to be sleeping it off on this nearby weigela.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Just another day in Paradise ...

The thermometer read 80 degrees in the shade at 6 a.m. yesterday. On the evening news, they said a person could lose as much as a quart of water per hour. What's that, now? A quart equals two pints. A pint's a pound the world around. So I could be losing two pounds per hour?!? I'm starting to have a whole new attitude about this heat wave here, folks!

With that astounding news in mind, I've been working faithfully every morning in the garden. Weeding is not a drudge, it's a weight-loss opportunity in this kind of heat. I'm on it!

As you can tell by the photo above, I have a rather relaxed view of weeds in the garden. My usual approach is "I'll get to them sooner or later." When I weed, I haul the weeds in a bucket to the chicken coop.

Weeds in, fertilizer out.

I use the stuff cleaned out of the coop to build new planting beds, thusly: I dump it into a high-tech planting bed form (formerly used to frame glass for a window). I throw in whatever compostable goodies I have from the kitchen.

Then I cover it with soil dug from between garden rows (only place I can get soil easily). Later, the trenches left from digging soil will be buried with old bedding cleaned from the pens in the barn. The old hay serves as mulch to keep the weeds at bay for the rest of the summer. At the end of the season, it will all be turned under to enrich the soil. Ah, yes ... the circle of life.

There, that looks better. After all this work, I'm feeling skinnier already. Or else I'm just lightheaded from the heat. In any case, I head inside to do something entirely different. Here's yesterday afternoon's accomplishment:

Can you see the flag quilted in the center? Maybe if you double-click on the photo to enlarge. Or not. Anyway, it's there, and looks pretty cool. This is Sandie B's wallhanging. I hope she likes it.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Update on yesterday's saga ...

When I got home yesterday (sans groceries, as I said), there was a message from the offending store manager, asking me to return his call. He might want to re-think THAT one. The only reason I would call him back is to rip him a new one all over again.

After I dropped my little charge off at camp this morning, I drove right past that time-waste of a store I went to yesterday and went on to Wegman's. I still didn't have enough cash in my pocket. I didn't even have my store card with me. They let me shop, looked up my customer number FOR me so I could take advantage of the sale prices even though I did not bring my card, and accepted my check for over $400 without batting an eyelash. They even "lent" me $40 for gas in the car by writing that amount over the cost of my order. And all of that took place without even having to call a conference of managers together. Imagine that!

On second thought, maybe I will call the manager of the P&C back and tell him THAT. Or would that be a bit much?