"On the plains of Oklahoma, with a windshield sunset in your eyes like a watercolor painted sky, you'd think heavens doors have opened."
Fly Over States

Saturday, August 14, 2010

What Scares Me

Back east, I had a considerable number of people express amazement that I have no big fear of tornadoes, despite risking life and limb living in tornado alley.   While I appreciate the nod to my presumed courage, the truth is, the real thing that strikes fear in the heart of any true blue Oklahoman is this:
OMG, stickers. 

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:"
In addition to pulling up stickers, I took a few photos out in the pasture and of the sun rising.  A few things continue to grow:

The Crepe Myrtles love the heat.
While I was doing this, the girls got into some sort of commotion with something under the propane tank (it is a 1000 gallon tank - that's BIG).  It was a bug.   It appears to be a sort of yellow and black Longhorn Beetle and had a cool antenna.
I am afraid it came to a bad end. 
Apparently, it is pretty crunchy but I will spare you further photos, although I DO have them. 

Pearl is not ashamed.  She is a bug killer from way back. 
In the past few days, I vividly recall how summer can be in Oklahoma.  Oh baby, it's HOT!

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.
So Thursday night, I took pity on her and sat outside with them.  Evelyn chased cars (there is an intersection she can see a quarter mile away across the pasture and when a car drives by, she races to the fence - it is sort of pathetic) and Pearl vacillated between hunting for bunnies and hurling herself at the back door towards the AC because, as I mentioned, it is HOT outside.  It so happened that the meteor shower was at its peak so I stayed out late to look for shooting stars.  The back yard faces the city so the glare interfered.  Eventually, I went to the front yard and lay down on the sidewalk and saw quite a few.  I wished for a healthy grandson and daughter-in-law; that my kids would move home (I can dream!); that they would be happy wherever they are; that Husband would be safe; and a few more wishes I'll just keep to myself.  I started to wish I would lose weight but that just didn't match the whimsical nature of the whole thing.  

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.  

We haven't had a drop of rain since mid July.   Husband frets if he has to leave during the growing season because the grass gets away from you in a matter of a day or two.  He doesn't have much to worry about this trip.  The grass is brittle, dry, hard and hasn't grown much in a week. 

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.
Before I could work on the quilt tops, I needed to open some bolts of battings and load the backing.  That took awhile.  I closed the blinds to keep out more heat and sat in my office (which is the coolest room) while I pinned fabric to the zippers.  I used plain white muslin since these are wall hangings and loaded them on the Gammill. 

I absolutely love the space in my longarm room.
The girls crashed out in there and had plenty of room to stretch out.  Evelyn snored and Pearl continued to chase bunnies in her dreams.  I was pretty crowded in my sewing room in Virginia so this is sheer heaven.  I plan to put a few things on the wall but haven't gotten to that, yet.

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 didn't mark in the tree branches because I wanted to think a little bit more about how I wanted them to look.  That was a mistake.  The art quilt is loaded on the longarm sideways and that makes it hard to see it straight.  Also, since it is partially rolled up, that further inhibits seeing the whole. It would be different if I was quilting a pattern all over it but the quilting in the art quilt is needs to reflect the whole scene and fit together. Next time, I will mark the whole thing before I get it on the machine.

I put both art quilts on the machine so I could load them at the same time.  Loading is a pain.
Quilting went smoothly until I ran a line I shouldn't have.  I now need to do some frog stitching on a small area to make sure I don't end up with a pleat.  I scared up my seam ripper from my barn kit but for some reason, it was broken.  I had no idea how that could have happened until I remembered it was my great grandmother's seam ripper - I imagine it was just elderly and fell apart (she died in 1987 and hadn't sewed in decades due to ill health).   I also didn't have any scissors in the barn except my big pair to cut batting.  Rather than leave the girls to freak out while I went back to the house, I just made do.  I clearly need to restock my barn kit to make sure I have everything I need on hand.

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.

Stay cool.

Happy Quilting, Penny, Evelyn and Pearl


Sherry said...

Beautiful pictures...well of all but the grass burrs. I hate them too! First husband and I had a patch between our driveway and the neighbor's property. The neighbor, O. B., stopped me one day. I had a bucket and was pulling grass burrs out of the ground and piling the bucket full. He told me that I wasn't doing any good...that there's no way to get rid of them.

Weeeellllll...I continued my useless job for two or three years. Eventually...with enough having gone in the burning barrel to never seed again...and weekly mowings during mowing season...TA-DA...no more grass burrs.

It is tedious, but it can be done.

Yes! Don't they hurt like the devil?! curse curse

Florida Farm Girl said...

Ooh! Those things are nasty. We call them sandspurs in our neck of the woods and they are vicious!!! And if you get a thorn, it's almost impossible to get out because they are so pale colored and just blend right into your flesh and you can't see it!!! Makes me shudder just to think about those things. Too bad they don't die from the heat, huh?

Dee said...

You take some glorious pictures of mother nature! And I envy your nightly sessions with your girls. It's so humid here that I just can't stand staying outside. Although we do try to wonder out long enough to throw the ball for our girl or if it's dark enough, play with the laser with her.

Stephanie D. said...

Oh, I hate those stickers, too--they get on your socks and your pants and your skin and your dog's fur so when you hug her you get stabbed. And I am SO glad not to live near those things anymore.

Pearl the Bug Killer, huh? Does she chase bees, too, like Tandi does? One of these days she's going to be sorry she messed with those critters.

106. Sheesh. What's the humidity level? I'm dying here with 90 degrees and 90% humidity. Makes it hard to breathe. But it looks as if the next week's temperatures will only reach 84, so that's a little better.