Farewell Friend

It is Thankful Thursday again….. and I am happy to say that I have been blessed with friends.  I am particularly thankful for my Undercover Gals quilting friends this day.

Charlotte was one of our group members.  I went to her funeral today.  Her sister is also a member and a very good friend.  The funeral was very nice, but sad….. as they all are I suppose.

Charlotte was spunky, a character.  Funny, fun to be with, always speaking her mind.  She was hard of hearing, but still didnt miss much.  I loved that you always knew where you stood with her.  And that she shared her knowledge and skills with those around her.  She was very generous with her time, talent and even her fabric.

What really “got me” was seeing her slippers in the casket.  That did me in.  I hadnt seen Charlotte since our retreat in October.  She only was able to come for about an hour to see what we were doing, and came in her slippers.  She wore her slippers most everywhere.  Sometimes she even wore them to WalMart.  They just sort of symbolized to me her “who cares what others think, lets get goin’ with what’s important here” kind of attitude.  I loved that about her.

So we said farewell to Charlotte today.  I am thankful I had a chance to know her, and will miss her.

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Working with Wool

I finished the wool quilt today.  The top was a combination of cotton pieced blocks and wool appliquéd blocks and borders.  The backing is cotton, batting is QD wool.

I am allergic to wool, but really had very little problem.  The fabric made me much itchier than the batting.  I will definitely be using this batting again.  It quilts just like butter.  I had a hard time taking pics of this one.  It was too big to handle myself, with the camera…. Steve was hunting.  And no matter what kind of lighting, the quilting doesn’t really show up in photos.

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Two of the corners on the borders are appliquéd.  The other two are just negative space.  I “ghost quilted” the negative space in the borders and in the basket blocks.

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If you didn’t get a chance to go to the Houston International Quilt Festival, then HERE is your chance! This is a link to  the best photos I have seen from the show.  If you are on  cable or dsl, you may want to click on the slide show feature.   Enjoy!

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I went to the funeral home today to see the family of my quilting friend that died.  On the way home I missed the best opportunity for a picture.  It was almost dark (would have been too dark for a good shot) and on a back country road (too dangerous to just stop to take pictures) when we came up behind an Amish buggy.  As we were passing, I realized the guy had a dead deer riding on top of the buggy!   It would have surpassed all the deer photos in the back of the pick-em-up-trucks!  I had never seen this before, but know people who have.   In the summer we see Amish buggies with boats on top, headed to the lake.

Steve  saw 3 or 4 deer on the run today, but couldn’t tell if they were bucks or not through the brush and trees.  A buck has to have at least 4 points on one rack to shoot them.  And he doesn’t have a doe license.

Down/Up

This morning didnt go so well.  I had a quilt loaded, a plan on how to quilt it (custom) and the energy to do it.  We are on a tight schedule here with all the quilts to do before Christmas.

Since last Wednesday evening the machine has been giving us problems.  We didnt call the dealer because we didnt want to bother anyone during the Thanksgiving holiday.  We just worked through it, trying to figure it out.  Should have called yesterday, but instead Steve quilted, I went and got new switches for the machine.  Today he installed new ones.  Didnt help.  Didnt make it worse either.

I called the dealer.  Richard told Steve what he needed to do to fix the machine.  And if that didnt work he would need parts that Richard is mailing to us today.  Or we could shut down until Richard is here next week to deliver the new machine.  Uh huh.  Right.  Oh so wrong.   Want to see Steve frustrated?  Have something go wrong that he cant fix.  That was this morning’s scenario.  So…..

We decided that I would go ahead and tackle this quilt, leave the old switches on and Steve would not take the machine apart at all until next week when Richard is here to set up my new machine and work on this one.  At least we are both more comfortable knowing what the problem is and that it isnt going to be difficult to stop and fix if we really need to before Richard gets here.

Judy and Sammi will appreciate what this machine is doing that is so frustrating to me…. I have to hit the on/off button TWICE in order to turn it on or off.  Exactly why I didnt like the APQS machines.  Ironic huh?  Yes, after a day of doing it I am used to it.  There is a difference between “used to it” and “liking” it.  Okay ladies, you can quit laughing at me now, cuz I know you are.  Especially YOU Sam!

In the midst of figuring out what to do about the machine, the phone rang repeatedly.  Several friends, (checking on who was driving, who was going to either of 2 funerals this week) and then a client.

This is how the client conversation went:

C:   Hi, I need a quilt done.  It’s been laying around for 2 or 3 months, so can I bring it today?
G:   Sure, we will be here.  It will be done sometime in January.

C:   WHAT???????? I need it for Christmas!

G:   Sorry, cant guarantee that.  Our machine is having a problem and we have 14 people ahead of you.

C:   Oh… well…… I was really hoping……

G:   Ummm, I have never said this out loud to a customer before, and I dont want to be rude to you, but honestly, have you ever heard the line that goes “poor planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on our part?”  Because that line is really appropriate today.

C:   Yes Gayle, it is.  You are absolutely right.  I didnt plan very well and I know it.  I will bring it and whenever Steve gets it done is fine.  I will just put a note in an empty box and wrap it.

Ya know….. she almost made me feel bad.  Key word:  almost.

The afternoon was waaaay better.  Steve went Santa shopping, I stayed home, turned up the volume on the stereo and got some serious quilting done.  So far, the machine is hanging in there ok.   And I may even have a picture or two of it tomorrow evening.

Wonder what Santa is hiding out in his truck?

Let the hunt begin

The first year I lived in Pennsylvania, I was in a bit of culture shock when it came to hunting. Particularly deer hunting. First day of buck season is always the Monday following Thanksgiving.  (TODAY)  My first year here I was shocked to learn that some men actually take a week off of work to hunt, and schedule it before they schedule a family vacation. Some quit shaving and showering on Thanksgiving. They hang the hunting clothes outside so they “dont smell like humans”. Right. uh huh. And you think that stinkin’ body INSIDE the hunting clothes doesnt smell like human? Smells like a dirty human is all. You think the deer are THAT stupid?? (I am so glad Steve doesn’t go along with this tradition)

That first year I got up, showered, dressed….. all ready to go to work. Opened the drapes in the living room and was shocked to see a man with a rifle walking toward our house. What the heck?? I lived on 10 acres. What is he doing on MY property?? Hunting of course! Our land wasnt posted.

I grew up as a “city slicker”. (At least that is what all my friends tell me.) This country life was all new to me when I moved here. Oh, I had traveled through countryside. Enjoyed going hunting in the Sierras with my first husband, even. But this bit with grown men walking on MY land with loaded guns….. well, that was downright scary.

After most of 20 years in PA now, I think I am pretty used to the routine. Most men….. altho not all…… and some women… are preparing to hunt in the morning. That means they have their licenses and tags purchased and appropriately displayed and ready. Their hunting orange clothes are ready to put on. Guns are sited, loaded and at the ready. Deer stand is built (and in some cases there is a heater, if it is all built in with a window that slides open) or a plan for where you will go is all figured out. Of course this all is more fun if you do this in groups. Oh, and many go to “hunting camp, or lodge” for the week so they can drink beer all week and tell each other hunting lies stories. Once the deer is shot and tagged and dragged out of the woods, then it gets loaded into the back of the pickup truck with the tailgate off and head hanging so everyone can see the rack….. and those big brown eyes… and the drool mixed with blood. Eventually, the deer gets taken home, hung to age (either outside from a tree, or in a garage, or at a meat packing house…partially dependent on weather) and butchered, wrapped and thrown in a freezer.

Last year well over 361,000 deer were shot during PA’s hunting seasons. That is what was reported. Which means lots more were shot. LOTS more. (and as a side note, over 3,000 black bears were killed during bear season)

Bobby (my late husband) used to hunt with several of his friends. He would come home in the afternoon to tell me all the stories. The last year of his life, he finally told me what he really did. The others would all hunt, walking in the woods and freezing their asses off. He was the designated driver. Yep. He would try to keep the deer on the right side of the road so they would still be where the guys were going to hunt. I doubt that was a very successful tactic for the hunters. I think Bobby just wanted to stay in the truck where it was warm!

Steve has hunted about half the time that he could have since I have lived with him. Part of the time the business has been so busy that he wouldnt take time off to hunt. Sometimes he just hasnt felt like it. And other times he hunts. He gets up early, goes traipsing through the woods. Our woods. Only our woods. Sometimes he runs off the neighbors, as they like to hunt on our 25 acres in addition to their own 100 acres. Their land is posted, ours isnt. The law is, you need permission to hunt on someone else’s land, posted or not. They dont ask, so he wont let them. If they asked, he would.

I wont eat venison. I don’t like it. And I dont believe in killing an animal you arent going to eat. Not just for sport. (same is true for fishing. I love to fish, but normally keep only what I will eat) Steve has never shot anything since I have been here. If he gets a buck this year, it will go to his brother who feeds 9 people in his house every day.

So, what do women do on first day of deer season if they arent hunting deer? They hunt for bargains! All the stores open by 6am, most by 4 or 5. All the restaraunts are open at 2 or 3am to feed hunters and shoppers. Some churches do big breakfasts at those ungodly hours too. Most of my friends that shopped on Black Friday will be back out there on Deer Widow Monday sales too. Good luck gals! I wont be there!

I got up early this morning to go get my annual mammogram.  It is about a 20 mile drive to the hospital.  I was worried last nite about how many hunters I would see along the roads, or worse… to see their orange in the woods and not know which direction they were pointing those rifles!  (Every year somebody shoots someone accidently, and somebody shoots themselves in the foot too!)  So it makes me nervous to be out and about this day.

The weather is in my favor.  Rain.  Fog.  The hunters like snow.  Maybe they are too hung over to roll out of bed?  I hope!  But if I see a deer hanging off the back end of a pick up truck, I will try to get a photo for ya!

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Wonder what I am reading? The Wild Girl by Jim Fergus. Recommended by a friend.

More Great Mail

Yesterday brought more great mail (along with those darn bills).

Here is my newest postcard from the MQResource black, white, one color swap.

From Gretchen in NY:

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Thanks Gretchen!  Love the crystals.

I also got a huge gift in the mail from my MQResource Secret Quilter Sister.  Boy, I wonder how she knows what I would have picked?  Look at these beauties:

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The white on the bottom is a pack of fabric to print photos on.  The fabrics are all hand dyes… the bottom 3 are larger pieces.  Look at that fabulous color palette!  I already have lots of ideas how to use these.  And the tubes of beads on top?  Oh my!  I haven’t ever used any, just wanted to.  I can see some major play days coming this winter with some new to me art quilt techniques.

Thank you SO much secret quilter sister.  I don’t know who you are, but you are so generous.  I can hardly wait to know who you are.

Winter Farm Tour

Want to take a tour with me?

Two days ago, Steve gated the cows into the winter pasture.  First day of hunting season is Monday, and they are much safer in a more confined area.  Plus, it gives the main pasture time to recover.

So here the cows are yesterday (Thanksgiving) totally pissed off because they cant go in the big pasture.  Yes, they think the grass is greener where they cant go.  (the pasture is actually behind them…. they had been looking into the pasture, then turned around in seeming resignation to head to the pond to wade.)

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And this is what it looks like out there today.

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I took a little walk today out in the snow.  It was about 30, no wind and a very heavy, wet snow coming down pretty hard.

I saw a turkey up in the tree.  Guess he was glad he made it through yesterday, huh?

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These trees are in the front yard.  On the right is Steve’s favorite, a blue spruce.  He and his son planted it in 1995.  It grows about 2 feet a year.  Every year he puts Christmas lites on it, but I dont think he can this year.  Last year he had a ladder ….. on a piece of plywood….. on top of his bucket…… lifted as high as the tractor bucket goes…… and I couldn’t look.  Sure made a pretty tree, but man it made me nervous.    The trees on the left are hemlocks and I hate them….. except when we have pretty snow like this.  Doesnt the snow make them attractive?

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And here is the new rake that isnt so new anymore….but I still have a fascination with it’s roundness and angles.

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When I got out to the road, the cows had to be nebby.  (is that a PA word?  it means nosy)  They were NOT happy with me because I had no food for them.   They still had to rush on over and check to be sure.

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Below, you see Snowball (on the left) is teaching his sister Harriet all about snow.  Snowball was born in the snow (thus the name).  Harriet is our newest calf, and this is her first major snow.  She loves to run, regardless of weather.  She is the most energetic calf we have ever had.

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And oh my, is Bessie ever wide.  She is due to have a calf any day.

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Here is the tractor……another thing that looks prettier in snow!

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And here is some of the wood Steve will split and bring in for the fireplace tonite.

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A few leaves……

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Well……. now you know what a productive day I have had!  (really, I did do a whole lot of other things)  So let me show you what Steve did.

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He came in after his chores tonite to tell me to grab my camera and boots….. “sky alert to the northeast!”  (I have him trained well don’t you think?)

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Honestly…… we do have alot of ugly stuff around too.  But who takes photos of that???

Thankful Thanksgiving Thursday

I am thankful for Steve, family, friends, a home, food on the table and clothes to wear.  We are rich indeed.

Today, I am particularly thankful for our ancestors.  Those that came and settled this land and made America what it is.  Whether the ancestry is American Indian and Irish (like Steve), or mostly English, Irish and Russian (like mine), or any other diverse mix…… we all share the same freedoms.

Today I am celebrating, and thankful for, the freedom of religion.   While not religious, I am spiritual.  I don’t attend an organized religious institution or church.   I have in the past, but choose not to now.

My family is an interesting mix of religions.   From my grandparents….. who were Catholic and  Orthodox Jewish on Dad’s side, and Christian Science and Quaker on Mom’s side…… to parents, siblings, spouses and nieces and nephews who are/were:  Agnostic, Atheist, Baptist, Buhdist, Catholic, Community Church, Episcopalian, Methodist, Mormon, Presbyterian, Unitarian, United Church of Christ, and who knows what else!  I also live in the part of the country where Mennonites and Amish are neighbors.

Because I have lived with, and been exposed to,  all of these religions, I have learned tolerance, above all else.  So, as we go into the holiday season, remember that religious freedom is something we value as a nation.   Regardless of what religion you are or not, enjoy the season as you see fit!  I would love to hear any of your traditions too.

Thanksgiving tradition with Steve means he cooks, I have most the day off.  I get the sweet potatoes ready for the oven, open a can of olives, a can of cranberry sauce, and my work is done!  (well, until it is time to do dishes)  He does all the rest. Turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, gravy.  He enjoys it, I let him do it.  Don’t want to spoil his fun! More importantly, this tradition is important to him, even though it is just 2 of us to prepare the meal for.  He always makes enough for about 12, so guess what we will be eating for days to come??

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The official countdown for quilts to quilt before Christmas…….14.  Steve should finish one today.  A few are small so he may be able to do 2 in a day once or twice.  One is custom, that is a couple days.  Hmm….. think we can make it!

Oh, and in that same time frame, we move all the furniture from room to room to get ready for my new machine. I think we will do that Saturday.  Any volunteers to move furniture?  Delivery date is Dec. 6.  Who is counting???

Any of you going shopping tomorrow?  NO WAY that I am.  I hate that crowded craziness.  If you go because you enjoy it, or it is “sport” to you…. well, have fun.  If you go for the bargains and need the bargains….. well, good luck.  Don’t call me for those 4 am bargains.  I will be sleeping!

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