Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day

Last night, I was working on the quilt (what else?) and listening to Wisconsin Public Radio's show, "Simply Folk," which is a weekly production of folk music. Last night was a by-request memorial show. They played Peter, Paul and Mary and the Highwaymen, and others who were popular when I was in my teens. We used to have "hootenannies." For those who have no idea what that was, it simply was a gathering of people to sing folk songs and if we were lucky, someone had a guitar to play as well. I don't remember many of the songs but when I heard some of them last night, it all came flooding back.

It also brought to mind Memorial Day when I was a girl. In the small Minnesota town where I grew up, there was always a "big" parade. There would be politicians riding in convertibles, some businesses would have floats, and the high school marching band would provide the music. The parade would make it's way from the high school through the main street of the town and on to the cemetary about a mile out in the countryside. A few days before Memorial Day, which was always on the 31st and not a Monday holiday yet, my mother and sisters and I would get the cemetary pot cleaned up and filled with a red geramium, some kind of green viney thing and other colorful flowers and then would take it to the cemetary. We'd tidy up Dad's grave, place the planter, and simply spend some quiet time there before we left.

Call me weird but I've always found cemetaries to be peaceful and relaxing places--there's usually no one else around, they're quite nicely landscaped with flowering rose bushes, Bridal Wreath and lilacs, and lots of tall old trees to provide shade. There's lots of birdsong to listen to, and there's usually a bench to sit for awhile. When they were small, I often took the children to the cemetary for an outing and they practiced learning their letters by reading the headstones.

I was a Girl Scout when I was a young and both the Girl and Boy Scouts in my town would march in the Memorial Day Parade, each of us carrying a small flag. As we marched through the cemetary, we would place our flags on the graves of the veterans. When all the flags were placed and each grave marked, there would be a ceremony with a few prayers by the local clergy, speeches by town and county dignitaries and in an election summer, a state or national politician might show up, two trumpeters from the band would play "Taps" echoing each other from opposite sides of the cemetary, and then it would be finished. For a kid, it was quite a lengthy ordeal and we were always glad when it was finished and we could get started celebrating the holiday in kid fashion.

In my family, we would usually spend the afternoon at home and maybe have a picnic supper at the backyard picnic table--hot dogs, potato salad, baked beans, that kind of thing. I always liked Memorial Day because 1) I got to march in the parade, 2) it was usually a nice early summer day and 3) it meant summer vacation would start in a few days!

Today, I'll spend the day at home, finishing the quilt and watching a movie while Tessa and I sew on the binding. Don will finish planting the garden with Lily's help. We won't have a picnic but there will be something cooked on the grill. And we will be remembering all those who are no longer with us, especially the men and women who served in the military and their families, who have sacrificed so much for us. May they all rest in peace on this day and forever.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

quilt pictures

I'm making such great progress on the quilting--finished the last of the fancy blocks last night before graduation.
Here's a single block:

and here's a portion of the quilt where you can see some of the colored chains:

I stitched the outline of a butterfly in each block and filled in around it with a medium sized meander stich to set it off.

I don't know about the rest of you but often, when I'm working on a large quilt like this, I have to stop when I've finished quilting the center and re-pin the borders. I don't mind doing this but if there's a trick to prevent the fabrics from shifting so much, I'd be happy to hear it. I re-pinned the borders today and will start quilting them later when I come home from a graduation party this afternoon. I'm still trying to get the entire thing done this weekend--wish me luck.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

I made great progress on the quilting last night. I have at least half of the 31 blocks of fancy fmq finished and will likely get most of the rest done tonight. I may even take time to snap a pic of it to post. ;)

Tomorrow night we have the last graduation that I'm required to attend as the administrator's wife. Even when I don't know any of the kids on the stage, I always get teary at these things. Such a sentimental slob!

As a followup on birds, my husband said a hummingbird somehow got in the school yesterday and poor thing got it's beak caught between the metal frame and the tile in the ceiling. The principal was able to gently hold it and get it unstuck and then released it outdoors. Hooray for Mr. Broeren! I hope the kids were able to see him do his rescue--a good experience for them. At my house, I put out some oranges and jelly last night in the back yard and later, I saw an oriole--in the front yard! I hope it can navigate around the house to find the food!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Bears, Quilting & Birds

I'm making good progress on the auction quilt. I've finished the straightline quilting through all the chains and last night prepared the papers I'll use for the fancy stiching. I like to use Golden Threads papers instead of marking the fabric. You usually have to mark the fabric before you pin the quilt and I usually forget to do that. Also, I tend to pick the design as I'm working on the stitching, not before pinning it. And when I do mark the fabric, I always have a terrible time getting the marks out.

I had planned on doing a feather wreath on this quilt but found a butterfly pattern that spoke to me, so butterflies it is. Last night, I punched the design on the papers and was able to get 5 of the blocks stitched, and got up early to do another one this morning. Six down and 25 to go! yikes! It's not as bad as it sounds--I timed myself and it only takes 20 to 25 minutes to do a block so I should make good progress on it. Thanks goodness I have an extra day this weekend and no plans to do anything special for the holiday.

This bear looks to be drinking from a bird bath but it could just as easily be eating at a bird feeder! I don't want this scene in my back yard!

In a previous post I wrote about bird feeders and bears. My neighbor, about 3 miles down the road, had bears visting her feeders last weekend! And here I thought we were past that problem. No bears at my house--yet.

I did see a hummingbird this morning--the first one I've seen this year--so I have to cook some food for them and get their feeders set up. Hummingbirds are one of my favorites--they can get quite tame and comfortable around people and I've been able to get some good looks at them. We have the ruby throated kind in my area. Here's one:

Monday, May 24, 2010

Summer has arrived...

with a vengeance! We went from temps in the 50's last week to 80 and humid this weekend. Thankfully, it was cloudy most of the time but when the sun broke through in the late afternoons, it was like a steambath. Great for the flowers, etc but not so much for me who is quite heat intolerant.

So what was I doing during this steamy weekend--quilting that monster auction quilt! Almost all of yesterday was spent at the machine, draped in that quilt, red in the face, and sweating like crazy! I'm sure it was quite a sight! But, I managed to finish 3/4 of the straightline quilting and will be able to get most of it finished tonight. For the solid blocks, I'm thinking of a feather wreath design but haven't found one yet in my machine quilting books. If I can't find one, I'll do the Celtic-type design I used for the other Irish Chain I made last Spring. It'll be a nice change of pace from all the straight lines.

As soon as that quilt is finished, I swear I'll be in my flower beds and get them all cleaned out before going on vacation and before my knee surgery. The poor flowers barely show up, the weeds are so healthy in there! Fortunately, Don is taking on the gardening chores for the most part--with my supervision, of course. ;)

Yesterday he also started getting the swimming pool ready for the summer and it'll be ready for use in a few days, thank goodness! We've had an above-ground pool everywhere we've lived since the early 80's. When we got the first one, I was somewhat embarrassed at having such a luxury, but then I realized that we didn't have what a lot of other families in WI have--speedboats, snowmobiles, campers, 4-wheelers, etc--and in those days, we NEVER took vacations, so we had a pool instead. We've lived in 4 other places since then and have installed a pool at each house (except in Superior WI!) and now I consider it my air conditioning. With the pool to jump into on hot steamy days, there's usually no need to turn on the air conditioning in the house for most of the summer. And our kids have had hundreds if not thousands of hours of fun in the water--my personal favorite is to get everyone in the water for a cut-throat game of water volleyball. As soon as Lily grows a couple more inches, she'll be playing with us as well.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Quilting update

I've started the quilting on the gigantic queen-sized Irish Chain quilt. I'm doing the straight line grid through the chains and it's a bit difficult maneuvering the quilt center with all the rest bunched up between the needle and the right side of the machine. (Now is the time I wish I had a long arm quilting set up.)I'm just taking my time and doing it as carefully as I can.

When I say this is a large quilt, I mean it! It measures 100" by 120"--and Eleanor Burns (who's pattern I'm working from) calls it a queen. I'd say it's more like a King! I have a queen sized bed and when I laid out the top on my bed, it flowed over the sides and covered the entire mattress--about half way to the floor. I enjoy the challenge of working on it and I think it's going to be beautiful when I'm finished with it, so I hope that it brings in a good amount of money at the auction, and that's what it's all about.

No gardening done by me at my house--my entire focus is on getting this quilt done as soon as I possible can. My dear husband took on one of the flower beds last night and cleared the weeds out of it, but there is so much more to to do. Maybe he'll do another one this weekend ;)

I have bird feeders out in my yard and I keep them filled all year except when the bears are getting ready to hibernate in the fall and when they rouse in the spring. At those times, they'll come into the yard and raid the feeders, they're that hungry. Earlier in the week I filled the feeders again, and I am so pleased at the variety of birds that I'm seeing in the yard. When we moved into the house 7 years ago, there was no landscaping at all--just 1 1/2 acres of grass with a very sickly looking maple tree struggling in the center of the front yard. Don and I have worked like dogs to plant trees and bushes, built sidewalks, created veggie beds and flower beds, built a pergola and patio, etc., and now it looks pretty good. In the beginning, we had no birds--not even a sparrow--and I have yet to see a squirrel in the yard--but each summer, there are more and more. This year, in addition to the gold finches, hummingbirds, and robins who arrived a couple of years ago, I've seen redwinged blackbirds, cow birds, grackels, and yesterday I saw a rose breated gross beak at the sunflower feeder. What a joy to see visible proof that our yard is becoming a wildlife habitat. Here it is:

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Another Irish Chain and e-probing

This is a pic of the pieced top of the Irish Chain quilt that I'm donating to the school fundraiser. It's a yellow background and the chains are made of purple, blue, green and rose colored batiks.

I like how it looks, except it took on a life of it's own and has grown into a VERY large queen sized quilt! I want to get it quilted up in the next 2 weeks--wish me luck! I'm going to do a simple grid through the chains and probably a feather wreath in the yellow blocks. Borders are yet to be determined.

We are finally having glorious spring weather and Don and I were in the garden yesterday, moving some bushes around. Unfortunately, I paid a price for this and have a quite painful knee now. I had the MRI done yesterday morning and will see the doc to determine if/when to have the surgery done.

The MRI was quite interesting. I'd never had one before nor even seen the HUGE machine. I was able to keep my head out of the thing, thank goodness, but what a noisy thing it is. About halfway through, I started thinking how Sci-fi this experience seemed and by the time I was finished, I'd concluded that I'd been abducted by aliens and had been electronically probed.

On to other tasks of the day.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Jo's blog

For those who don't know, Jo is my 23 year old, youngest daughter who is in Kyrgyzstan as a Peace Corps volunteer trainee. She has a blog here,, which anyone can read if they like. So far she's doing very well and will be finished with her training soon. Then she'll be assigned a permanent site where she'll be working for the next 2 years. She'll be a health educator and will likely be working with folks in the small towns and villages, helping with basic sanitation and health practices. Jo's very good with kids--heck, she's not much more than a kid herself :)--and she's been able to bond with the children in her village which makes her much appreciated by the adults in the village. I know she'll be an asset where ever she's assigned.

As for me, I got two pieces of wonderful news this week. First, my niece in Colorado emailed me to say that she has passed all the tests at her 5 year check-up and is now officially cancer--free! Yippee!!!!. She was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma, did the chemo, lost her hair, grew it back, and is looking wonderful and healthy as a horse. The other good news is my other niece in Minnesota called to let me know that the biopsy of the spot in her mouth came back benign! Another YIPPEE!!!!. I can't tell you how relieved I am that both of these wonderful young women are okay. Even though we had dismal, cold, rainy weather all week, this news brought sunshine to my heart.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Plate mattresses

When she was a preschooler, my oldest daughter, Tessa who is now Lily's mother, came home from her daycare at the end of one day. We got dinner ready and she was helping to set the table and asked why we didn't have any "plate mattresses" like they did at the day care. So, that term stuck. Makes sense when you think of it like a 4 year old.

I found the camera! I used it at Lily's B'day party and put it in a drawer while the girls were in the house. You can tell how little I use the thing! I've just never been a picture-taking kind of person, I guess. Anyway, since I found it, I have a couple pix of the plate mattresses. Here's a close up of the stippling I did in the white part with just in the ditch around the colored fabrics. I love the bright colors and in my last post I said now I HAD to go out and get new dishes. Here's the dishes I've been making due for the last several years. I think it's time for something a little better, don't you?

I only have those two handleless bowl/mugs left from the 8 I started with, and almost every plate and soup bowl as well as the serving bowls has chips in them. I do think it's time. The only pieces that are in mint condition are the cups and saucers--I prefer a mug for my coffee and tea so that explains that. :) But, knowing me, it'll be another several months or maybe even another year before I actually go out and buy the new ones. Procrastinator--but not when it comes to shopping for quilting fabric, etc. ;)

Monday, May 10, 2010

I've moved over here since MQB is closing down. I use my blogging space to share my needlework adventures, primarily quilting, but other fiber arts on occasion as well. I also throw in assorted bits about my family, job, garden, and other areas of my life. On occasion, I have been known to offer a political opinion or two, but I do try to keep that minimal. ;)

At the present time, I'm working on placemats that I began making to sell in the Folk Art Emporium, but since I've withdrawn from that venture, I now have a set of 8 very nice placemats to finish. Problem is--they look terrible with my dishes! Solution--Barb needs to go out and get the new set of dishes she's been threatening to get for the past 5 years or more. I would post some pix except, darn it, I seem to have misplaced my camera. I am also working on a quilt to be auctioned off at a school fundraiser in mid June which needs more attention than it's getting right now. I finished the center of a queen sized Irish Chain and need to make the pieced border and then finish it off. This one has a pale yellow background and I used batik purples, blues and greens for the chains across. I think it looks great--hope the bidders at the auction think so too. I made a throw-size quilt for the thing last year but wasn't able to attend so I don't know how much it sold for. I'll be attending the fundraiser this year so we'll see what the quilt fetches.

When I find the camera, I'll post pix.


Friday, May 7, 2010

I'm on board the train! is closing down in a few weeks, and I'm very sad about that, but it seems as though most of us are moving to I set up a blog here last summer but had such difficulty using it that I gave up and stuck with mqb instead. Now I guess I have no choice but to come here. I'm happy, as well, since I hope to connect with some of the old friends from mqb who moved last year--Erin, Smantha, Lane, Cheryl (of course), Molly and so many more. The problem I have is, I can't figure out how to add them as friends so I have to search far and wide each time to find their blogs. Maybe someone (Cheryl?) will help me with this. I also couldn't figure out how to add pix to the blog and it's so boring to not post pix--and how else does a person show off without the pix????

Anyway, I'm going to give this a good try and with the help of others, I may be able to make it work.

BTW, disregard the most recent entry on this blog. It's something I received from my daughter and posted on her blog, not knowing that it was on mine as well.

Barb (thanxsandy)