Wednesday, August 25, 2010
Quilting Along the Ley Lines. I've pinned on the binding, machine stitched it to the front and just need to hand stitch it down on the back. I may want to to do some more tinkering with the tree trunk and also need to stitch on the belt a little but it is pretty much there, otherwise. Here are a few photos:
When I was a kid, I wanted to be a doctor. Life got in the way and, instead, I ended up finishing high school a year early because I was married and 7 months pregnant (my Catholic high school could take the pregnancy but being married was just too much). Wanting to be a doctor came in handy because I had taken many hard classes and only had a few easy ones to take in order to graduate early.
Before we got married, my husband-to-be and I had a plan. He was nearly 6 years older than me and had dropped out of college. Our plan was that he would go back to college and finish up his degree (it would take 2 - 3 years). After that, I would go back to college. I figured by the time we were thirtiesh, we'd have caught up and overcome most of our foolishness in having kids so young.
Anyone with a grey hair or two could have told me that the odds were against that working. My husband worked hard for low wages but didn't really want to go back to college. For years, I actually thought he was going to follow through but he made this excuse and that excuse. Finally, my grandfather offered to subsidize his education and that brought the matter to a head - he just didn't want to do it.
It was hard for me to understand because I had been positively yearning to go to college for years and was patiently waiting my turn. The life we had planned wasn't going to happen. We were broke, we could barely manage our responsibilities and at that point, it dawned on me that this wasn't a phase in our life. It was a lifestyle that really didn't have an end in sight. And I confess, I felt betrayed. That was hard to work though. It took me a long time to understand that it was less a deliberate betrayal than just a poor match. He could no more be what I wanted than I could be what he wanted. But I just kept trying to cram a square peg in a round hole.
If I had been older, I would have seen that "our" plan was really just "my" plan and that my husband was giving it lip service to please me. Anyone with an ounce of common sense would have been able to predict how this was going to play. In fact, my grandmother had warned me of this very thing but I simply ignored her. I was young, in love and still pretty much took people at their word. Plus, I wanted to believe that we both had the same goals.
So there I sat with no education, no job skills, a difficult marriage and three babies. I had some decisions to make and difficult choices.
First Husband had mixed feelings about my going to college. It took time and money away from the family, it reminded him that he had abandoned our plan, it was something that he didn't really have much interest in, and I think he was worried that it was indicative of a widening gulf between us. On the other hand, he wanted to support my decision, which I appreciated. So I enrolled at the Junior College - the same one where I just signed up for art classes.
I will never forget how I felt when I drove into the parking lot for my first morning of classes. I was worried I was too old to keep up or too out of practice (I was 23!). My books were expensive and I felt guilty about spending the money. I took out student loans. But I was absolutely giddy with excitement.
I went to school part-time, at first. Nights, mainly, so the babies would be asleep while I was gone. I LOVED college. Just loved it. The end of the fall semester was always tough because I would be taking finals at the same time I was preparing for Christmas.
Three years later, I transferred to a four year university and finished up my undergraduate degree going full time. Three years later, I went back to law school (another three years of school). The family joked that I was a school junkie and they were certainly aware of how much I loved it. All the same, I overcame my addition as evidenced by the fact that I haven't been back to college for 17 years.
The parts of the college that existed when I first enrolled TWENTY-NINE YEARS ago look just about the same. Colleges have much greater online capacities, these days, and I was a little shocked that with a tap of a finger, the young admissions clerk pulled up my transcript from the early eighties. Wow.
I thoroughly enjoyed standing in line to be re-admitted because it gave me the opportunity to people watch. There were a number of young people standing in line, all looking terrified and most looking to be about 12 years old. Several had parents there running interference for them. Unlike the first time when I started classes, I KNEW I would be just about the oldest person in the class (I had actually expected the instructor to be younger but he probably has 15 years on me - maybe). And I didn't care if I was the oldest or even if I was the one with the least talent. What a joy to just not WORRY about all that stuff.
Having been this route, before (many times) I patiently stood in line for my ID, my parking sticker, enrollment confirmation, to pay the bursar, blah, blah, blah. No worries. Compared to law school, the in-state school tuition at the community college was peanuts. I had the money set aside for the classes so it wasn't like the old days where I sweat bullets when I wrote out checks for tuition and books, afraid they'd bounce. I felt complete sympathy for my fellow young students who all looked like they'd eaten too many boiled eggs.
They have a nice gym and an Olympic sized pool - none are used in the early morning because most of the youngins are still asleep. I've gone to work out and it is primarily retired people.
Am I in my Golden Years? A friend of mine who is also a lawyer says I am living the dream.
The professor, during his lecture, made a number of cultural references to individuals who were at their height of popularity in the 70's and 80's. The young female next to me (bless her heart) is a sympathetic soul. She made sincere tsking noises and sweet sounds of sympathy and sadness as he told stories that off hand mentioned a certain movie star or rock star or politician who had done this or that and had since died. "Oooohh!," she moaned sympathetically, each time (these people all died thirty years ago). She did this, repeatedly, and clearly had no idea who the professor was talking out. I am not being snide. I honestly was getting a kick out of it. I probably do the same thing but unlike this sweet, sympathetic innocent, it is primarily because I can't hear worth a darn on one side and find myself doing a lot of nodding and smiling.
Two days ago it was 103 degrees with a heat index of about 106. It was OPPRESSIVE. A cold front came through and it was in the fifties, this morning. The girls are ecstatic and Evelyn is acting like a puppy.
Happy Quilting, Penny, Evelyn and Pearl
Thursday, August 19, 2010
Sunday, August 15, 2010
Making headway on my Lady and the River art quilt. I blogged about it on Quilting Along the Ley Lines if you're interested.Happy Quilting, Penny, Evelyn and Pearl
Saturday, August 14, 2010
I hate them. I fear them. When I moved back east, the thing I loved the most was the lack of stickers. If you haven't lived with them, you have NO idea. If I had to run barefoot in a field of stickers to escape a tornado, I would take my chances on the tornado.
You have to dig them up by the roots to really get rid of them but I pick 'em, anyway.
These are monstrous.
If they fall on the ground, they are still waiting to bite you. Oh man, they hurt. I also hope that the ones I pick won't reseed so quickly. I picked these from the corner of the yard and out in the pasture. When I carried them across the yard to put in the trash, I gingerly held on to them, cussing myself for risking one or two dropping in the yard. I should have gone around and stayed on the driveway.
This one says, "Evelyn Was Here:"
The Crepe Myrtles love the heat.
I am afraid it came to a bad end.
Pearl is not ashamed. She is a bug killer from way back.
I'm still loving it.
Husband has been in Alaska for the week (high of 63 degrees) and I've been mainly hunkered down in the house with the girls who get clingy when one of us is not here. I miss him when he's gone. We divide up the chores - I vacuum and dust, he does the dishes, feeds the girls and makes sure I wrap the bread up correctly because, allegedly, I never get the heel in right. When he is gone, the chores double. At least.
A couple of days ago, I ran down to the Tractor Supply to buy some Blue Buffalo canned dog food because we are running low. It is pricey at $1.99 a can but cheaper than canned "Taste of the Wild," which I have on order at the nearby feed store. We switched to better food in 2008 when Jezebel got sick and really noticed a difference in the dogs.
When I was checking out, the clerk, a nice young man, asked if it was good food. I told him it was and that it had meat as its main ingredients, no corn. I showed him the can. People into dog nutrition, even barely, are fanatics. He confided that some friends had told him his Miniature Pincher wasn't getting enough protein because she kept catching and eating bugs.
Okay, so I asked him what he fed her and I just KNEW before he said it.... Here it comes... Old Roy. Yeech. I'm thinking the bugs would be healthier. I am also wondering if he has friends who are just being tactful in suggesting his dog needs real food. I hate Old Roy.
Well, as I said, people even barely knowledgeable about nutrition are fanatics but I gripped my Blue Buffalo cans to keep from screaming. I was proud of myself. I wanted to tell him to just salt a little cardboard and save himself the money. But I didn't. "Well...," sez I, "this stuff is pretty expensive but I don't have kids at home so this is what I spend my money on." (HAH! I didn't see the point in getting into my quilting)
"I have FIVE kids!" he shared.
Okay, then. The man looked 25 years old. Working at Tractor Supply. The man is not going to have a dime to spare and it wouldn't shock me to know his kids were eating bugs to supplement their diet, too.
I assured him that Blue Buffalo was a good brand but suggested he check the house brand at Sam's because they sometimes carry a pretty decent food. Although I buy it, even I think it is ridiculous to spent $1.99 a can. I also suggested that maybe his dog eats bugs because she likes to hunt. I've seen that, before. See above.
I usually sit out on the patio with the girls in the evenings but skipped it for a few days, which disappointed Evelyn. If she sees me pour a glass of wine after 5:00, she starts yodeling and runs to the back door, utter joy on her face. If I don't come out, right away, she will bark at the door and when I open it, stand there and stare at me, willing me to join her outside. What an enabler. If I had a drinking problem, she'd shamelessly lead me down the path to ruin and degradation. At the same time, it thrills me to death that she wants to spend time with me and that it is so important to her. I couldn't be more flattered if my secret crush asked me out to the prom.
I told Husband about it when I spoke to him, later. He asked if I wished he was home to watch them with me. Of course, I told him, and it was the truth. But I confess, I didn't use one of my falling stars on that wish because I didn't see any point in just throwing one away since there was no way he was going to be transported from Alaska to Oklahoma before I gave up and went back inside. I believe in magic, but come on.
The heat and Husband's absence have given me an opportunity to work on some projects and I promised myself I would get some quilting done out in the barn. Yesterday afternoon, I closed the front gate to let the girls have the run of the yard, gathered up two quilt tops, water and various other items that would fit into my big basket and we wandered over. Earlier, I'd set the temperature in the barn at 71 to cool it down but knew that was going to be a chore with the 103 degree temperature. I generally leave it set at 86 degrees when I'm not planning to be out there but even that high, the air compressor has been running quite a bit in the past few days.
Walking across the yard, I noted the grass had turned a grey brown in many areas - just stifled from the heat. There are large cracks.
I worried the grass would cut the girls' feet as they scampered across the yard racing each other to the barn. Even though it was still early, the insects were buzzing with a roar that rose and fell. I recalled that for ten years, I walked barefoot across the yard in Virginia during the summer and not once, did I nearly cut my foot on a crackly, dry piece of Bermuda grass. That is just wrong. I mean, I don't want to step on a sticker but sharp grass is NORMAL in the summertime.
The barn felt really cool when we entered but I knew that was mainly compared to the temperature outside. We were out there for about four hours and while it was quite comfortable, it never got cooler than 77 degrees, even though the air conditioner worked the whole time.
They are such happy girls.
I absolutely love the space in my longarm room.
Don't look at the fabric on the shelves - I've been riffling through it looking for this and that and need to tidy it up.
My longarm was working like a dream except the vertical channel locks weren't catching. I read the manual and stole tools from Husband's shop to work on it with no success. I think there is an electrical/solenoid problem with a connection. I'll call my dealer on Monday but need to find a local Gammill service person.
I marked the Lady and the River quilt before heading out to the barn.
I put both art quilts on the machine so I could load them at the same time. Loading is a pain.
I promised myself a long time ago that if I was ever not working, I would NOT run errands on the weekend and fight the hordes. As my grandmother always said, "Never say never." Hancocks has a 50% sale on its notions and I am going to run over there to get some more marking pens, this morning. I am also heading up to the local yarn shop because a woman is bringing in spun wool (fur?) from her alpacas. I want to see if she has any that will work on my quilt. She'll also dye it to order for you. Additionally, I want to see if they have some white yarn to use to line the cape on my quilt. The last thing I need to be doing is setting foot in a yarn shop - I am afraid I will take up a new hobby and I definitely don't need one.
Just now, I went out to open the gate and there is a really nice breeze cooling things off. We are due to hit 106, today, and may set a heat record. But in a couple of days, a front is supposed to cool things off to a high of 91 so I think we'll survive.
Happy Quilting, Penny, Evelyn and Pearl
Thursday, August 12, 2010
August is a big month for birthdays in my family. All three of my children were born in August, as were their father, aunt, uncle and the great grandparents who raised me. When the kids were little, I used to rotate giving one a birthday cake, one a giant cookie and one a cake of a different flavor. Even then, by the end of the month, we were all fairly weary of sweets. Coupled with birthdays was the return to school. With three children in school, college and law school, and my own college, being a public school teacher, followed by going to law school, August has always been an exciting (and expensive!) month.
But times have changed and now the kids are grown and all live in New York City; their aunt, uncle and my grandparents have passed away; their father and I divorced a dozen years ago; and I no longer teach school. So in the past few years, August has been, for me, stunningly quiet. No need to buy school supplies or school clothes. No preparing a classroom in anticipation of a fresh batch of new students. Perhaps sending cards and gifts to the kids via Amazon. Sometimes, no birthday cake, at all.
But with all that, August still touches me, deeply. It is one of those months that, on the surface, feels constant and unchanging. In Oklahoma, it is hot and dry. The sunny days, past the spring turbulances, dawn bright and sunny, frequently without a cloud in the sky. The insects buzz lazily, wildlife is in abundance in the morning hours and late in the evening. The meteor showers come on schedule. The grass stops growing like wildfire and you can have a few weekends where you don't need to mow. The trees start to wilt, the air feels hot and you start to wonder if the fall will ever come, bringing relief from the heat and a change from the endless days of sunny skies. Today is typical - we haven't had a spot of rain in a month. July had five days where we had measurable rain. June only had three. On the days it didn't rain, there were also no clouds beyond the ones that seem to merely serve as decoration or to catch the pink from the sunsets or sunrises. August feels like time is standing still and it will stay August, forever.
This August has been an exciting time for me. Last week, all my children and their spouses came to town to celebrate their father's wedding to a lovely woman and give him their blessing. I have not met the bride but saw the wedding photos on Facebook and she is beautiful, with beautiful children. My kids say the bride and groom are deeply in love and that her children all seem very sweet. I am absolutely delighted for him. In truth, I never expected him to stay single for so long - I fully expected that some smart woman would snatch him up within a couple of years and was astonished that I was the one who re-married, first. May they have many, many years of happiness!
My older daughter arrived a day early to have a "mom" day, which thrilled me to no end.
On Friday night, late, my son and his wife, and younger daughter and her husband arrived. There is truth to the addage that your children will always be your babies. Everytime I first lay eyes on my big strapping son after being apart, I am shocked that he no longer smells like a newborn. In fact, I still am surprised at his five o'clock shadow and how he carries himself with the confidence and competence of a grown man. He was always a steady son and age has only ripened his character. My younger daughter hasn't changed so much. She still has the same sweet smile, dancing eyes and gentle ways. She is mainly just taller.
My sweet daughter-in-law was born in July and my darling son-in-law was born in June so we celebrated all the summer birthdays Friday night. I was so happy to be able to actually give them gifts, in person! There was much laughing and hugging and toasting of family. Although it was not my birthday, I received the greatest gift of all. Trust me.
Check out the new picture, to the right.
Early the next morning they left to meet their father for breakfast before the wedding festivities officially started. They returned to dress and pack but at that time, I had to hug my oldest girl, son and daughter-in-law goodbye as they were staying overnight downtown and leaving early the next morning to return to NYC. I met my younger daughter and her husband on Sunday morning to have brunch with his family and dropped her off at the airport Sunday afternoon. So now I am left with just the "girls" but happy memories and excitement about the future.
on my other blog a few days ago and have made some progress, since then. Here are a few photos, in progress:
The original pattern:
Here, I am just auditioning fabric for the tree:
Here, most of the pieces are initially stitched and it is nearly ready for quilting:
I plan to add embellishments and some coloring, later.
Husband is out of town so I don't want to quilt for a long time out in the barn and leave the girls alone in the house. They have been super clingy and if they could, I believe they would wrap their arms around my neck and not let go. Yesterday, to keep myself occupied and to dream of my sweet family, I began a simple baby quilt.
It's a very light fabric that is intended to be blend together. The actual pattern is a checkerboard but it is hard to see because the colors are so soft.
I'm working on some hearts for the border that are more distinct.
While I am thinking about it, I want to show you the amazing gift I received from my friend, Amanda.
It is a cover for a sketch book and is exquisite. She put a lot of symbolism into it - see the barn?
These flowers represent my children!
And she didn't forget to put in something white and fluffy to represent the girls!
Okay, while multi-tasking with this post and an e-mail, it just came to my attention that SOMETHING IS IN MY CHIMNEY SQUEALING AND BUMPING AROUND! The girls are staring at the fireplace, heads cocked. I hope it is just a bird. I am sorry to end this so abruptly but I think I need to go look at the roof...
Happy Quilting, Penny, Evelyn and Pearl