Saturday, October 30, 2010

A rather blustery day ...

DH tried to hold this one still long enough for me to snap a picture, but this is the best we could do in that wind. This one came with Cindy M -- but I think she said it is her sister-in-law's quilt. She was pretty specific about how she wanted it quilted. I tried a new trick to do the borders -- straight, parallel lines that hopped over the flower appliqué.

We decided we'd take a walk through The Not-100-Acre Wood woods, and hiked over to peek in on the progress being made at the well site on a neighboring farm.

Qu'est-ce que c'est?
C'est un puits de gaz naturel (en français pour ma soeur).

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Sound of Silence ...

I woke up at 3 o'clock this morning, and wondered what was going on? Then I realized: the house was quiet. Totally quiet. That never happens.

Usually, there is a constant droning in the background -- the refrigerator whirrs incessantly all night, and usually drives me crazy. I have to shut off the computer and fax machine at night or the constant hum keeps me awake from the other room. If a car drives past the house in the night, I know it. Sometimes I feel like shooting the cats that parade across the porch when I'm trying to sleep. Yeah, I know -- I'm a bit sensitive to noise.

So when the fridge stopped making any sound, and there were no other sounds detectable ANYwhere in the dark, I almost panicked. I wondered if I had died or something. Odd feeling, that. Worse yet, what if the REFRIGERATOR died?

I never did figure out why everything got so quiet, but I did ascertain that I am still alive. Which meant I would have to go to my dental appointment in the morning. I did that, and am happy to report all went well there. Phew ... I'm glad that's done. I've been having bad dreams about it for a week. When I woke and heard nothing, I figured I probably had a stroke in my sleep from my scary dreams and, at the very least, went deaf.

In the Gardening Department: not much going on except the garlic is about 6 inches tall, the broccoli continues to perform, cabbage and brussels sprouts are still good.

In the Quilting Department: plowing my way thru a pile of customer quilts, and am really on a roll there. I now have three (count 'em!) ways to accomplish cross-hatching on the machine. Learning new tricks keeps it interesting. And ... speaking of new tricks for quilters, have you heard about this one? There is a new website created by Websites For Quilters that helps quilters find specific fabrics. is an fabric search engine that finds fabric and quilting supplies from hundreds of online quilt stores. You can search for products by either typing in words or by uploading a photo from a digital camera. If you use a photo, the search engine uses image recognition technology to find matching fabrics. How cool is that?!? If you ran out of a specific fabric and need a little more to complete your quilt, but don't know the name of the manufacturer, collection, or designer of that print all is not lost! Take a picture of the fabric, upload it, and locate an online retailer that has the fabric in stock. It is supposed to work in seconds. What will they think of next?

Friday, October 22, 2010

it's NOT me ...

I went on a baking binge this morning. I made some bread and rolls, and decided that I might just as well make a few pies for the weekend while the oven is hot. I'm all about multi-tasking. (That's also why I'm trying to boil burnt raisins out of the pot I use to make oatmeal every morning ... but that's another story.)

I used the same ingredients, measured with the same tools four times, and each time the pie crust required a different amount of water to make it the right consistency for rolling out. Now I'm CERTAIN it's the flour, and NOT me! I've suspected as much for years, and today I shall consider it proof positive. Flour is just totally as unpredictable as sock yarn. There you have it!

Speaking of sock yarn ...

... lookie here, at what I received as a gift from a friend who knows me well. Seven skeins of wonderfully soft and pretty wool -- enough to make new socks for every day of the week! Everyone should have a friend like mine.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Warning ...

A major rant follows the photos below, so if you can skip that if you're in a good mood and don't want to ruin it with my whining.

Dawn C's quilt (it's huge!):

close-up of center:

The photo of the whole thing turned out to fuzzy to show you, but trust me -- it's very pretty. You can double-click these photos to enlarge.

The rant follows: Last Thursday went like this ... What a day! I had some errands to run, and a few meetings to attend. I thought I had it all figured out how I was going to accomplish everything in one day, and without back-tracking.

I left the house a couple of hours before my meeting, in order to hit the Post Office before they close. I had a bunch of things to take care of there -- packages that needed to be weighed, taped, sent out. I waited my turn in line. The postal worker could tape the first class packages with her tape, but for the media mail packages I had to purchase a roll of my own. Okay. Odd, I thought, but no biggie. While she weighed my packages, a group of men who were not speaking English came in and got in line behind me. All of them. The postal worker said she'd weigh my stuff and let me get out of line to tape my one package while she waits on the rest of her patrons. Okay. So I step out of line, take about four seconds to tape a package, and then get back on line behind the fellows there. I guess it took all five of them to figure out how to interpret what she was saying. Very interesting. So after quite a few more minutes went by, I was on my merry way. Next stop: the library with only about an hour left to kill. Better than driving all the way back home and turning around to come back to the same town.

I found a book I thought I'd like to read. Again, I waited my turn on line. Oops ... can't find my library card in my purse because I recently changed wallets and it seems I didn't move the card to the new one. A young man literally ran into the library, grabbed a movie he wanted to check out. Well ... he grabbed the case. The actual disc is kept in another place where the librarian has to go fetch it when someone wants to take it home. So she asked if I minded that she waits on the young fellow first, seeing as how I did not have my card? Okay. No problem, sez I. The librarian is new, and doesn't really know how everything works yet. After fumbling around for quite a while, she admitted she could not find the disc he wanted. He, obviously being more familiar with the process than she, told her where it should be, and how to open the case. But together, they still couldn't find the movie he wanted. He decided he'd just grab a different one -- one that they had already seen in their previous search -- because she was taking too long for his liking. And guess what?!? He didn't have his library card, either. She had to look him up in the computer by name. He spelled it for her. Several times. Each time, she typed it in wrong, so it would not come up with his card number. But at least she was getting practice for having to wait on me next.

When she typed my name in, she got it right on the first try. We're on a roll, here! Oh, not so fast ... the computer brought up my name and my library card number, but it also brought up a window that said 'THIS PATRON IS NOT REGISTERED IN THIS SYSTEM." Huh? Try again. And again. And yet again. Resort to calling for help from another worker in the building. She had never encountered that message before. Neither did the other worker. Of course not. Things like this only happen when I am around, and they've never been there before when I have. Much time passed. In order not to be late for my meeting, I suggested she write my card number and the book title on a piece of paper and figure it out later. I needed to get going, and after waiting all this time, I wasn't leaving without the stupid book.

On to the first of two meeings for the night. With careful coordination, I'd be able to do both. Right. Will I NEVER learn? The first meeting started about 25 minutes late because the presenter waited for every last person who had signed up to arrive before starting. In what world besides mine does this happen?!? Knowing I'd likely have to leave before it wrapped up, I had told her when I went in that I may have to leave a bit early and to please not be offended ... it's just that I had another meeting that I had to go to. She urged me to stay for the very end because some very important information would come at the very end. The meeting ran late, so they decided they would get the the "very important information" at the next meeting instead. But by now, it was too late to go to the second meeting, so I went straight home -- exhausted.

And today the most important package (DGD's birthday gift) came back, undelivered. Just shoot me.

Monday, October 18, 2010

I didn't type it that way!

The previous post wound up looking like I was half-lit when I typed it. I am here to declare that (1) I was NOT drunk; and (2) I did not type it all screwed up like that. It must be a blog booger. If you want to make sense of it, put the link in the line above it by the parenthesis. That should help.

Luxury Fibers ...

I saw a sweater over the weekend that I think would be the ultimate in hand-knits. It was actually a two-piece garment -- a very plain, almost boxy sweater (although that description takes away from its elegance), with another piece worn over it. I don't know how to describe the second piece, but all I can say is that it looked sort of like a combination shawl and cabled cowl that draped over the shoulders. It was knit of fine qiviut -- softer than cashmere -- in the natural color. I couldn't take my eyes off it. I asked if there was a pattern available. It was, after all, being sold by yarn merchants and usually, the sample sweaters are there because there are patterns that feature the yarns being sold.

I was totally bummed to find out that there is no pattern available. If I were a reasonable woman, I would have been relieved to find that out. Why? Because to purchase enough of the precious qiviut yarn to replicate the sweater would probably have cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $500 or $600, maybe more -- it runs about $90 per ounce (and that yields about 220 yards or so). Math makes me ill -- you'll have to figure it out for yourself if you want accuracy. I know I would have had to settle for a more affordable alternative fiber, but it was truly beautiful.

In case you're curious, qiviut is taken from the muskox's downy undercoat. (See more at ). Those creatures inhabit places like the northern tundra of Canada, Alaska and Greenland. Not a whole lot of those babies around! The muskox coat and hooves keep them warm in the cold arctic weather which can reach –70ºF. The qiviut yarn knits up so soft you can barely feel it, and it is said to be eight times warmer than wool. That must be really, really warm. If I were an Alaskan Inuit, I'd be making me some qiviut nighties, for sure! Even if I had to track those creatures down to get my hands on some of the coat they shed once a year.

Speaking of luxury fibers, I ran across an advertisement for what is touted to be a Luxury Yarn, described thusly: "... this unique Wool & Stainless Steel yarn creates unique pieces that keep their shape. Strong, yet lacy, it’s great for ethereal wraps or beautiful original jewelry. Combine it with other yarns to add texture and strength to sweaters and accessories ... "

What?!? Stainless steel? Tell me why. Why? WHY would anyone want to incorporate steel into wool yarn?!? Wool is a warm, soft, forgiving fiber. So how's 'bout we ruin all its inherent qualities by adding some cold, hard steel? Doesn't THAT sound comfy? I thought the blurb about adding nettles was the craziest thing I'd ever heard, but this really takes the cake! For about twenty bucks I could get enough to make a pair of socks. They might last longer than my woollies, but hoo-boy, I'll bet they'd be enough to freeze yer tootsies right off. (Have you ever worn steel-toed shoes in the winter? Might just as well put your feet in a block of ice!)

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Heavy Rains Looming ...

In anticipation of the heavy rain predicted, we brought the sheep back down from the upper pasture yesterday so they'll have better protection from the weather.

They were ready. They followed right along when called, much to Tuck's disappointment. He LIKES having to chase them.

The foliage is much more brilliant in real life than it shows in this photo. I should have waited until the sun was up more, to light them up in their full regalia. After today though, the deluge will probably have doused the flame, leaving only the bare bones of the trees against a greying sky, the leaves a pile of mulch lying at their feet.

I went to quilt club last night. Here is an example of how two quilts made from the same pattern using different fabrics can come out so unlike each other (Barb B's on the left, Peg K's on the right):

And that's Carla in the middle of it all, per usual. (tee-hee)

Tracey wondered aloud if she might have somehow gotten different directions than everyone else, because her quilt didn't look anything like either of these! We all had a good chuckle over that. (She'll be fine. She hadn't got to the part where you slice and dice the blocks and re-arrange them yet.)

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

My half of the bargain ...

Bend, Stretch, Lift, Walk. Sound like a day at the gym? Nope.

DH cuts it, dumps it here. My job is to carry it and stack it in a neat pile by the shed. I keep reminding myself that it's a great opportunity for healthy exercise. This is GOOD for me. Yep ... just gotta keep my eye on the goal of physical fitness, and this pile will look better and better every time I look out the door. Problem is, as fast as I stack one pile, he makes another. This will go on until there's enough wood for the winter, plus a little extra for insurance against one of those early spring blizzards that come every couple of years.

Here are the tomatillos grabbed the other day before the frost (they're not nearly as large as they were last year, because of this summer's drought, but this will be plenty):

Those little orange things are a few Sungold tomatoes -- the last of them. I'm going to try saving the seeds and see if they'll grow into something useful next year. They may revert to something entirely different, but I've got room enough for a few experiments in my garden. And today, I'm going to pair some of the tomatillos up with tomatoes, onions and herbs for home-made salsa. Whatever is left after that, I'll put into a paper bag in the fridge -- they last a long time that way. Last year I made tomatillo soup. Can's say it was a fav, but it was edible. I need to go on a hunt for more ideas. Got any?

Sunday, October 10, 2010


Three gals were here for their "personal retreat" last Sunday, and before they left on Monday we were chatting. In the conversation, we were talking about books. They highly recommended The Help by Kathryn Stockett. I had a dental appointment in town, so I ran to the bookstore on the way, grabbed it and started reading in the waiting room. Big mistake.

I am such a sissy about going to the dentist! I've recently gone to a young-friend-dentist for a consultation, because he thought I should get a second opinion on something. I pre-warned him about how I become a total idiot in the dentist's chair. So on my first visit there, he jokingly told the chair-side assistant that he may have to sedate me to do the exam. She didn't realize he was joking. At least I THOUGHT he was joking. He did offer to sedate me when we have to do some real work, to avoid having to have the novocaine. I started to explain that I'm not at all afraid of the needle -- it's the lights. "The LIGHTS?!?" Yeah ... it's the lights. They remind me of hospitals, the things I've seen and the reasons I've been there. Starts a flood of tears.

Anyway, I got to page three in the book, and came to this: "... Took three months fore I even look out the window, see if the world still there. I was surprise to see the world didn't stop just cause my boy did." (One of the main characters's child died, obviously.) Oh dear. Now the people here are going to think I'm bawling because I have to have my teeth picked at. I've learned to just let people think what they will. It's easier than trying to explain how stuff like this triggers a meltdown for me.

So ... back to the gals who were here to quilt! Between them, they finished eight quilts and two pillow shams. Not too shabby! But I cannot say who they were, or show any photos. I'm sworn to secrecy. I can only say there will be a few people out there who should be very happy to receive the gifts they're going to get from these gals! And, by the way, the book is good. Once you get past Page Three.

Weather Report: we got our first frost in the garden last night. No complaints here. This is about a month later than usual for our little corner of the world. I gathered the last of the produce in anticipation of the first frost. (Got a wheelbarrow full of squash, tomatillos, a few tomatoes, a couple of eggplants, broccoli, peppers and herbs. It's always a sad day when we wake up to find everything blackened by frost. But in some ways, it's a welcome reprieve from all the work involved in gardening. Had it not rained so much last week, I'd be out there preparing for next year's planting. But that will have to wait until it's dried out some more. I guess I'll just go quilt something!

Speaking of quilting something ...

(it's Cathy's '30s quilt)

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Cell phones. Grrrrr.

My sister gave me a cell phone so I could keep her posted when my son was in the hospital over five years ago, and it still works. Looks like an antique at this point, but it WORKS! It also works like a walkie-talkie -- when I can remember how to use it, that is. I only use it now when she and I are going to meet up and want to keep in touch en route, and I have to get out the instruction booklet to take a refresher course every time.

Last year, DH gave me another cell phone because it came with his as a package deal. This thing is nearly useless. First of all, the battery won't hold a charge worth a tinker's darn. Every time I'm going to use it, I first have to charge it up again. Most of the time, I cannot even get a signal, and if I do, it breaks up so any conversation is a garbled mess. I had an appointment in town where they sell these phones, so I took it yesterday to see if I could resolve the problems I'm having with it.

First of all, upon entering the store, you have to go to a sign-in station to type your name into their queue. I can type. I can type really well, and really fast. But on that stupid thing, I cannot make it let me type two words without having to backspace, clear and start over, etc. I had tried over and over, and was thinking I might push the stinking thing over if it didn't soon cooperate, when the store manager burst through the back door and greeted me with, "Hi! How are you doing today?" in a voice loud enough that I'm sure people in New Jersey probably heard him.

I informed him that I was, in fact, not doing very well at all with this machine because it would not allow me to type two words without fritzing out. So he typed in my first name and then hit the enter key. Whaddya know! It doesn't even NEED my last name, after all. So then ... why do they ask for it? Tsk. The whole system is just a stall tactic, so they don't have to actually wait on you when you first arrive. It's designed to get you to browse, in hopes that you'll fall in love with one of their hot new devices so they can have you sell YOURSELF on an expensive upgrade.

Eventually, after standing there for about 10 minutes with my arms folded, not at all interested in their goodies, a "salesman" approached and asked if he could help me (he could tell it was my turn because my name was number one on the video screen up over my head -- that, and the fact that I was the only one who had not yet been waited on). So much for the "high tech" system.

So the salesman asked me, "What can I do for you today?" I told him that I needed a new phone, that mine would not turn on this morning, and about the problem with not holding a charge since day one, etc., etc. Oh ... and "can you just retrieve all my contacts and stuff from this phone, because I'd hate to lose all that info ..." His eyes lit up. As long as the phone would turn on, he COULD pull my stuff from the old to the new. He wanted to know what model I'd like to purchase. So I explained that it was on my husband's account, and since he was entitled to a free phone at this point, I'd like him to show me which ones were available with that plan, and tell me what the differences were between them. I don't think he was planning to have to DO anything except take my order. He looked stunned.

That part about the "free" phone took the wind out of his sails (read: S-A-L-E-S). He showed me a cheap phone. I don't care, as long as he could put my info into the new one! (I know I told him that was one of the problems: can't turn it on today.) He told me the new models have different connectors than mine, so I'd have to purchase new chargers for the house and car because they've switched to a "universal" kind. (Hey ... that's what they said LAST time! Apparently last year's universal is not the same as this year's universal.) Oh, and now that he's had a few minutes to think about it, I could not actually get the free phone because it was on my husband's plan, so only HE is entitled to get the new phone. Does that make any sense? He gave me this stupid phone in the first place. Ugh ...

So, now I was going to have to purchase the new phone and two chargers to go with it. I asked about whether or not they had i-phones, because as long as I'm going to buy, I might as well buy the ONE gadget that TV commercials have caused me to covet. (I LOVE those "there's an app for that" commercials! But that is neither here nor there.) Nope. That's not their brand, but they have one that's even better, according to him. How so? He had no answer to that question, but looked a little livelier at the prospect of selling me one of those bad boys. So I nudged him with, "so ... do you think you'll be able to retrieve my info from the old one, then?"
I was beginning to get a little irritated by his vagueness, and the way he made me feel by not answering my questions. I realize I am not exactly cell-phone savvy, but I'm not a complete dunce, either. I have CHOSEN not to spend my time learning everything there is to know about cell phones. I don't intend to make cell phone usage a career, after all. He punched a few buttons on the old phone in rapid succession. I asked him what that was about, and he answered that it was just a little trick ... Lo! and, Behold! That sucker lit right up. Hah-HAH ...
But the joke was on him. As long as the old phone was now working, I had no need for a new one after all! DH can go get himself a new one -- as soon as he has half a day to kill, reading the little signs next to the phones because nobody there is going to explain the differences. I guess we're expected to go in and find out which ones are available at a price that matches what's in our wallets, buy it, take it home and read the book to learn how to use it. Me? I've got other things to do.