Starting to thaw out

Last night I heard a strange noise and it woke me up.  Rain on the roof!  It has been months since I have heard rain.  The rain really helps the snow to melt.

Here is the Nishnabotna River in our back yard.  (I have no idea what that means, but it is what Steve calls the swail that fills with water often.)

In the top right corner, you can see the pasture is flooded and partially frozen. So my friend Sammi was worried about the cows standing in that water.  They aren’t.  They are in the other pasture that is higher and gated off from this one.

That swail runs into the swampy part of our property.  The birds were above it all.  Isn’t she a beauty?

Lots of rivers and creeks are rising and flooding.  The grocery store parking lot was flooded today, which made it tricky for lots of people who were trying to drive or walk through it.

And these guys were REALLY happy.  A flock of 60 (Steve counted, not me) headed right over to the neighbor’s corn field.

pretty wings!


this one is for Vicki…. because she likes chickadees.




We had more freezing rain, snow, sleet, ice drips.



Guess what?!  I did not forget how to quilt.  I haven’t gotten too far on this, and it is taking much longer than it should, but I am working at it.  Only a couple hours a day at the most while in a flare, but doing it.  I have never done these curly feathers and not sure if I like them or not.  But it is good to try new things, right?

2011 Snow Dyeing–Part 2

I ironed the 4 yards of fabric that I snow dyed yesterday.  Here they are.


They don’t look so great all together… but separately…





Next are close ups so you can see the broken glass effect caused by the dye that gets so cold in the snow.  Red/blue:



And Brown:


I really overdid it yesterday, so I took it easy today.  It was bitter cold and snowing again…. another good day for watching the birds.

They were in constant motion today.




We need to get to the feed store in the next day or two, we are almost out of sunflower seed.  We have gone through 50 pounds this month!  Fat birds?  Or just LOTS of birds?  Maybe some of each.

Name my quilt!

Anybody want to suggest a name for my quilt?  I have a couple of names in mind… none of them nice.  This quilt gave me fits…the thread, the bobbin, my machine, the whole way.  I need a name so I can get a label made.  It really isn’t good enough for MQX, but I may send it anyway.

Any ideas would be greatly appreciated.  SO much so, that there just may be a little prize involved if  I use your suggestion.

We have had two days of snow…..7 more similar days predicted.   I have had 2 days of B’s.  Binding the quilt above, Steve Bitching about at the weatherman, watching Birds, and today Baking Brownies for the grouch Steve, Biscotti for me, and Bread because we were out.

We hope to have a P day tomorrow.  P for PLOW.  We have not seen or heard a plow since the snow started.

This is part of what keeps me cheerful all winter:


Don’t forget to name my quilt!

Windy day

Hey, are you snowed in?  To those on the east coast, I feel your pain.  We have had 50″ of snow in December, so I really do know how you are feeling.  But really… keep it there.  We aren’t expecting much snow, but WOW, it is windy out there!  I thought the birds were going to blow away!

At least his mate had the good sense to take cover and fluff her feathers.

Everyone have a good Christmas?  Ours was wonderful.  Quiet, happy and full of surprises.

The biggest surprise was when my friend Shirley stopped Christmas night with a plate of her famous home made sugar cookies.  Let’s just say that I could NOT get them all the way to the table without swiping one!  (I am too ashamed to show you what the plate looks like now.)  I hope she shares the recipe with me, so I can use my new mixer.

I spent most of Christmas day cutting out stars:

Yesterday I started putting some together.  I sewed for 3 hours yesterday, another 8 hours today.  And only have 8 blocks to show for it.  This quilt will take some doing!

If I don’t report in for a few days, you will know I am still working on stars!  It’s going to be a wild border I think.

And if anyone else who took this class at MQX with me is looking for the easiest way to cut out the stars, let me know.  I got it down to a system!

**Remember that you can click on any image to make it bigger.

Glad to have a house

We are very grateful to have our house tonight.  We had a chimney fire tonight, and it always give us pause.

We have had them before.  We burn LOTS of wood.  LOTS.  We burn those chimney sweep logs too.  They help.  But when you burn as much wood as we do, and have a 100 yr old house with a very old chimney, the chimney fires are inevitable.

So here is the routine:

We hear the sound of a locomotive…. Steve in living room, me in kitchen.  We both yell “CHIMNEY FIRE!!” in unison.  Steve closed the fireplace screens, and put a little water on the fire to help it not burn quite so hot. I shut the fire door between south end of old part of house and addition that was old studio (soon to be bedroom…  Steve almost took that door off today for part of a remodeling job)  Steve shut the fire door between new studio and breezeway, and other fire doors between breezeway and north end of old part of house.  I ran to get meds, dropped them in purse, grabbed cell phone and camera, closed another bedroom and bathroom door while Steve ran upstairs to close that bedroom door.

We both grabbed coats, slid into boots and ran out back door.  Steve also snuck back in quickly to unlock all the doors.

I stood outside for an hour and a half.  Steve went in twice in the first half hour… till I wouldnt let him anymore.  The second time, he opened the door blinds so he could see in to the fireplace from the breezeway.

This is the longest a chimney fire has ever taken to burn itself out.  Luckily it was 25 degrees instead of 20 below.  During the time it was burning, a neighbor drove up the driveway and asked me….. as I stood in the dark in hat, coat, boots, gloves, and PAJAMAS…. if I knew my chimney was on fire.  I sure do, but I am SO glad you stopped to tell us.  If we hadn’t been home, or hadn’t come to the door,  I hope you would have called 911.  He would have, for sure.  Living in a rural area has the benefit of neighbors taking care of each other!

So….. I hear you wondering what a chimney fire looks like.

When I first went out:

And this is what it looked like from the road…. what my neighbors saw when the drove by:

This is what it looked like the second time Steve went in and I freaked!  I have never seen it look like this before.  (this photo kind of scared Steve I think)

The fire burns from the top, down and often waxes and wanes….  Of course, all we can see is the top of the chimney, outside.

My job is to:

1.  breathe the air outside so my asthma doesn’t kick in from the smoke.

2.  watch to make sure no big blobs of fire catch the roof on fire.  (which means call 911 if the roof catches fire)  Other years, Steve has had to take water buckets to the roof, up a ladder.  Thankfully, not tonight.

These big balls of fire scare the crap outa me.  I watched it roll down the roof through 4 inches of snow.  Kind of like a fire snowball that put itself out in the snow.

And these last two are what it looks like when we know it is just about out.

So the doors and windows in the old part of the house and the old studio are all open, still airing out.  (The double set of fire doors between old part of house and new studio keep ALL smoke out of there.)   I will be doing laundry for DAYS.  Eight quilts in the living room reek of wood smoke, I am sure.  Two big laundry baskets of what WERE clean clothes will need to be washed again.  And towels and linens… and coats and jackets that hang on hooks by the back door.

But I am not complaining.  I am SO GRATEFUL that we have each other, have heat, and a HOME.  Food to cook, a sound roof that didn’t catch fire, a tame fire burning in the fireplace again, and good neighbors to check on us.  Really, who could ask for more?

Laundry is a snap.  We are blessed.

Great Week for Bird Watching

Steve scrounged up a bird feeder from the barn the other day.  And he hung up bird balls.  (suet balls that the butcher makes at the local grocery store)  I am now set for my winter entertainment, right?

Today Steve hung another feeder.  He didn’t have a hook, so had to climb the tree to do it.

Here are some of the hundreds of birds that have entertained us this week.  Some are elusive… like the big hawk that has visited twice and flew off by the time I grabbed my camera.

The bluejays are very fast.  I have to stand at the window and wait for them to hold still for half a second.

The cardinals are fast, but they often turn and smile at the camera.

The Downy Woodpeckers are oblivious to anything at all… except eating all they can of those birdballs.

The Chickadees and Finches feed non-stop. 

I get all excited when I see a bird I have never seen before.  I only got one shot of this one, and I’m not positive of what it is.  I think it is a female Evening Grosbeak.  Anyone know for sure?

I was SO happy to see this new guy at the feeders today.  He hung around for at least 4 hours.  Pretty sure he is a Red Bellied Woodpecker.

And here he is again.

If those last few photos look frigid?  It is.  They were taken this morning when it was about 8 degrees F.  Brrrr.  I have not stepped out my door in 8 days.   Thankfully, Steve brings in the wood and the mail, and goes out to give the cattle feed and water.

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