Thursday, December 22, 2011

A Busy Day ...

I have much to do today. It will be my last opportunity until January to get caught up on work, run errands, etc., unless I want to do it with a passel of grandkids in tow. I'm not complaining ... I can't wait! Since they're all in school now, our time with them is limited. I hate school. Winter Break begins tomorrow.
I think the whole system is messed up and turned around. For instance, when a couple is young and raising a family, THAT is when their income is at what will probably be the least in their lives, so for many, it's a continuous struggle to keep finances balanced. And school! (I hate school.) It should be the other way around. I should be able to say, "Sorry, but the boys and I want to go for target practice today. You'll have to plan your math class for another day." Or, "The girls and I want to bake some cookies and then shop for new shoes and fabric. We'll read a book when we get home. And tomorrow we'll be quilting. Saturday? Nope. No can do -- we have plans. You can have them for a science lesson from 2 til 4 on Sunday."
But in the real world, time with the grands is limited and they're growing up so fast. They'll soon have other things to do with their spare time; we must take full advantage of what opportunities we have with them now. So the next week and a half will be devoted to enjoying their visit. PaPa and I have been concocting what we hope will be a fun time for all. It's gonna be Junk Food City around here, too. I shopped to stock up on things not normally found in the house. My friend and I spent a whole day baking cookies in anticipation of our visit and her need for holiday gifties. You can read all about that day on her blog. Just don't blame me for the Chocolate Nasties. We followed the recipe to a T. Not our fault they turned out that way. Every cookie jar and tin in the house is full, with spares in the freezer.
If you’re reading, Mom and Dad – don’t worry. There’s a mountain of fruit (we call our oldest grand The Fruit Bat), and a fridge full of veggies that will be pushed like drugs on a city street corner. Of course there’ll be mac and cheese, and pizza now that the youngest has “taught” me how to make pizza cheese from “big cheese” using “some tool” (box grater). But we’ll also have beef, lamb, chicken and turkey on a rotational basis. We’ll alternate garlic smashed with the French fries to even things out a bit.
I can't post photos of recent customer quilts for fear of spoiling someone's holiday surprise. But trust me, I've been busy! But tell me how that machine knows when I'm within inches of finishing the quilting? I can't tell you how many times I've run out of bobbin when I'm this close!

I can show you Charlotte F's first quilt, though.

Seems she sort of wandered close to a group of quilters and got sucked in. Now she's hooked, and dizzy with excitement over finishing this up in time to bring it for show and tell at their next meeting. The story is that everyone contributed scraps and each had to make a quilt from what they received. They had to use ALL the fabrics. Charlotte did a great job, wouldn't ya say?

Gotta run – see ya

Monday, December 19, 2011

I'm Going To Paa-ar-tay!

My friend who always plans ahead and remembers things (like other people's birthdays) e'd me to see if we could make a plan for my upcoming birthday (not till next month). Well ... I have to brag about beating her in making plans this time! I've got a trip to the dentist all planned out for that day. Woo-hoo ... do I know how to celebrate, or what?!?

I'm tempted to re-schedule the dental event and take her up on the day out. It's going to be an all-out great time with Dr. L, I'm sure -- not just your everyday, run-of-the-mill cleaning and once-over-for-good-measure kind of thing. No, no! We've got big plans, complete with whirring drills and all that. If I'm lucky, we may even get to use that Electro-Scary tool again! Can I weasel out? Tempting. Very tempting.

I took in a few last-minute gotta-have-'em-for-Christmas quilts again this year. Today I should be able to finish up the last of those. I'm always amazed at how people can be so completely taken by surprise that December 25th arrives when it does. Is it my imagination, or has it always happened about this time every year? You'd think people would just get used to it ... expect it, even. But no. It comes as a frightening shock, over and over, year after year.

Here's a quilt that was NOT a Christmas bail-out thing. It was actually one of my favorites to work on. Not because of it's dazzling intricacy, but because of it's simple beauty. In the same way that a fresh-faced young woman can be so attractive, as compared to the glamour-girl who requires a pricey wardrobe and an entourage of beauty-maintenance masters to bring out the sparkle in her. It might just have something to do with the sunflowers. (I'm partial to those in the garden.) At any rate, everyone who's come here and seen it seems to be smitten in the same way.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Wait … what? I missed something!

Looks like it’s going to be another one of THOSE days. Heaven, help me.

I was expecting a delivery yesterday. It didn’t come. No huge surprise, given that it’s the busiest time for shipping companies. I went online with the Tracking Number to see if I could figure out when it might come. Hey! It shows a “delivery confirmation.” Further investigation reveals that my package has been delivered to a furniture warehouse about 50 miles from here. Ugh … here we go!

I called the customer service number and, of course, got an automated system that asked for my tracking number. I repeated it multiple times, only to have that stinking thing tell me, “I’m sorry. I did not get that. Please say your tracking number.” Well, the tracking number is as long as my arm, and apparently that machine is hard of hearing. Trust me … this is NOT a happy way to start the day. I decided to go fetch a cup of coffee and start over. Second call produced the same results. No matter how many times I repeated that number, it didn’t work. So I just stayed silent. Then the machine asked if I would like “her” to transfer me to an agent. Well, yes … please and thank you.

It transferred me to a live person with the stereotypically foreign accent who apologized for the inconvenience it must be causing me, and who said he would have to transfer me to someone in another department. “Hold the line, please.” (I'm guessing, here. I really didn't understand a word he said.)

The transfer was to yet another automated call-taking piece of junk. It informed me that I could track my package online at www…
It ran thru a litany of services available online, and then rattled off a phone number I could call as an alternative. Wait … what? I missed something! It rattled that number off so fast I missed the ninth digit, and it did not give the option to have it repeated. Being determined to get thru this, I called again. This time, I said “Agent” when the machine asked me what I would like to do. (A trick I learned in one of my many previous escapades thru the automated phone system.) It worked!

A live person came on but, of course, would have to transfer my call. “But unfortunately, they don’t start until 7:00 in that department.” Having gotten this far, I told her that if it were likely they would actually START working (as opposed to hanging around the coffeemaker) at 7:00, I’d hold. I’d been at it for 30 minutes already, what’s another five?!? So hold I did. And, my faith in miracles was restored promptly at 7:00 by Rhonda. She picked up the phone and said she’d try to find my package. I told her that we already know where it is, the question is how are we going to get it HERE? I was to hold while she tried to call the place that now has my package. At 7 a.m., nobody was available to take the call and so Rhonda’s only recourse was to start a “tracer.” She needed to know the contents and value of the package, etc., etc. I told her it is thread.

“Red? Red WHAT?”
“Yes, but red WHAT?“
“Not red. Thread. THREAD! Like a person uses to sew with. Thread! Ever seen any of that, Rhonda?”

How long will that tracer process take? It can take up to eight business days. I sweetly (seriously! I promise I WAS sweet to Rhonda!) said I understand that mistakes are easily made, but they can be just as easily remedied. Just send someone to fetch the package and deliver it to ME. We don’t need to trace it, we need to fetch it. Just call the furniture warehouse back at 9:00 and tell them someone is coming, then DO it.

Okay … this is getting incredibly long, so I’ll cut to the chase. Rhonda sez “no can do.” I give up and go to the barn, now about an hour late for morning chores. And what do I find there? The old ewe who ALWAYS has twins that she cannot feed, isolating herself from the crowd. Oh, no! Here we go again …

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Desperate times ...

I have a friend who picks a group of movies to drop off for us when she comes -- some "action packed" ones for DH that have lots of noise, screeching tires, battling robots, gun fights, blood-thirsty aliens ... whatever. For me, there'll often be a history flick, and whatever else happens to be handy. She's not been here in a while, so we've pretty much blown thru the entire heap we had to choose from, viewing one each Saturday night together. This past weekend, we were down to the very last one: Jane Eyre, "a love story as fiercely intelligent as it is passionate." I chuckled when DH put the movie in to play out of desperation for something, ANYthing to watch. I was amazed and astounded that he stuck with it without falling asleep. About three-quarters of the way thru, though, he said, "This needs some action ... like a sword fight or something." Does that sound as funny to anybody else as it does to me? I'm still sniggling over that one.

Here's a glimpse of a quilt I spent a lot of time on recently.

I did a motif in each of the blocks, then put a coordinating swirly thing in the sashing. I was totally surprised to discover that the overall effect was that of a simple all-over design from the back. I guess I needn't have bothered to make things complicated for myself. Live and learn. It's Sue P's quilt, BTW.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Here's what took up my time this weekend ...

She looks just like her Momma, no?

I can't seem to get a good shot of Paula's quilt, so these will have to do:

and closer:

Good news! The long-awaited quilt kit arrived today. Good thing I was here to Meet-N-Greet the delivery guy. He stood on the far side of his truck, peering around the corner (obviously wary of my dog who was gated onto the front porch). I doubt he would have ventured close enough to the house to drop the package, by the looks of things. He could have left the package on the back steps without having to go anywhere near the barking dog, but I doubt he would have figured that out all by himself. He was pre-occupied with being terrified. Funny how fear can suck all the sense out of a brain. But, in any case, I now have a MAJOR quilting project to keep me busy over the long winter months. Assuming there will be long winter months this year, of course.

Friday, December 2, 2011

You’ve GOT to be kidding me!

By now, pretty much everyone is aware that the prices on just about everything are rising. The marketing geniuses (hmmm, should that be geniusi?) have come up with a scheme to disguise their rapidly increasing costs to consumers by making the packages smaller. Like the “quart” jar of mayo that, although it costs about a dollar-and-a-half more than it did about a year ago, is now something like 28 ounces. And the toilet paper that measures about a quarter- to half-inch smaller in width – they shaved some off and only raised the price of the roll “a little.” Or, how about the “pound” of coffee that only weighs 11 ounces? We’ve all got used to that. But now, push has come to shove.

On my previously noted trip to the feed mill, I saw they sell Muck boots. I wear those in the garden, and on muddy days. Since the August deluge, the mud has not YET dried up. More than once, I’ve lost one of those ankle-high Muck shoes in the mud. It’s not a pretty thing, and I only hope the neighbors don't notice how much bluer the sky looks when I have to step in that mud with only a sock on my foot while I try to retrieve the sinking shoe from an onslaught of trampling hooves. So … back to the feed mill story. They had an 8-inch version that was priced about ten dollars less than I usually pay for the short ones. Plus, I’d save more by not having to pay shipping. I grabbed a box with my size stamped on it, and was on my way.

This morning, I fetched the box from the back seat of my car, intending to wear my new boots to the barn and foil the mud. Oh, Happy Day! NOT. This is what I saw when I opened the box.

Please, PLEASE tell me they haven’t started selling boots as singles … I’m gonna die of frustration one of these days.

A new hat for MaMa ...

I was in the middle of knitting a sweater that I started on a whim because I saw a photo of one someone else made. (My Compulsive Shopper thing kicked in.) It is knit as one piece up to the armpits, so the cast on was some hideous number of stitches. It's pretty much stockinette stitch except for a cable at the front opening, so gets kind of tedious, allowing for the wandering of an already easily-distracted mind. I started thinking about how nice it will be to arrive at the end of this sea of repetition, and wondered why I even started such a thing. I could have made a hat and been done with it. A hat. Yes. A hat. THAT is what this yarn should have been. So I left off the sweater and started a hat. (I'm old. I can do that, if I want to.)

Here's the hat:

And here's a picture of Rose's French Braid that she and Dave finished up here last week.

I think the photo should have been rotated, but, oh well. She pieces, he quilts with her supervision, and I bail them out when there's a problem. My camera was in hiding when they were here, so we used their cell phone. I took pics of them with the quilt, but they didn't forward those for posting. Hah! They're coming back soon, and I've found the missing camera. I'll get them in the next photos.

Meanwhile, back in the jungle ... yesterday was a Fire-Outputting day. The freezer in the cellar bit it. I'll spare you the details, but know I felt like I accomplished something major when I finally got all the stuff moved to another freezer with little loss. The afternoon was spent running mundane errands like banking and grain fetching from the feed mill. Bleh.

I've finished up a few more customer quilts and will get some photos of those to post later.