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Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Today was not a bed of roses

For any of you who know me, I rarely sew after 5 PM or 6PM, but here I am, finishing up this baby quilt at 9:30 PM. I rather like the way it turned out, and I have the bindings cut, sewn and pressed, waiting for the time it is quilted. It's about 58" square, and it will make a nice crib size quilt for some baby in the future. And, it will be nice to have one on the shelf, waiting. The backing still needs to be made, but that will take up some more mindless sewing tonight. Why am I still at the sewing machine?

Well, that good looking guy in the previous post is back in the hospital again! It took me two days to talk him into going to see his doc today, and he argued with me all the way! I know he's tired of always being sick, but ignoring it doesn't make it any better, does it?

I thought he had done way too much out in the yard over the last three days. It's been in the 90's here, and the humidity is so very high. It put me on my butt, I can tell you, and he just doesn't have any reserves for that. He is down to about 120 lbs now, and gets dehydrated so easily. It doesn't really matter how much he drinks, his problem is absorption. I love it that he is so stubborn and works his way through and past pain, but that's the problem, too. He is so stubborn, he won't admit he can't and shouldn't do many of the things he does, or maybe not so MUCH of them! Sheesh!

And to add insult to injury, while I was admitting him in the hospital, I had my cell phone turned off. After I got home around 6PM, I found a message from my mom's oncology clinic telling me she needed two blood transfusions! I need to get her to the same hospital as Hubby by 7:30 AM tomorrow morning for that procedure. I don't know whether they'll keep her or not, but I am planning on spending a good part of the day tomorrow reading my back issues of the newspapers and some quilting magazines. I doubt that I could concentrate on any handwork right now, so I am not even going to try!

My mom has peritoneal cancer of an ovarian source (she had a hysterectomy 10 years ago), which was discovered two Novembers ago when she had her gall bladder removed. Because she has no ovaries, the cancer is all over the inside of her abdominal cavity. Treatment for an 84 year old woman with diabetes is very different than for younger ladies. She gets a lighter dose of the same chemotherapy, but spread out 4-6 weeks. She has tolerated it well, but the last couple of treatments have been harder for her, and now her blood count has really taken a dive. It is supposed to help relieve her of the worst of the symptoms, which it has, and make her good days better, and her bad days less bad. I just wonder how much longer they will even offer her this course of "treatment". She's been a real trooper, and quite an inspiration for me. Here she is the past Christmas with our Mr. Blue Eyes (just like Grandma Izzy!).

Monday, May 29, 2006

Garden Tour

Welcome to my garden! Today we are taking a holiday from planting. It's gotten so very hot here, and by day's end we are just absolutely drained. The gardens are looking quite nice, and while we've enjoyed working on them, it's time to take a break!

This is the entry to the front door. It used to be a little koi pond with a waterfall, but the raccoons and the herons kept getting the fish! The area dogs also would wander in to take a swim, and they tore up the liner and the waterfalls, so we decided it would be better as something else. This took 6,000 pounds of top soil at (40 pounds a bag) to fill in the space. I also added 12 bags of sand, and about 1,000 pounds of rock got moved out, and another 1,000 moved back in. We love the sound of the fountain, and this area sits in the afternoon shade. It's a great place to sit at the day's end and watch the world go by!

The only thing left is to change out the lighting fixtures. We have a local fellow who makes the most beautiful molten glass path lighting. We've chosen "autumn leaves" as the color to accent the house - they should be great!

This area is the "center garden" for lack of a better name. It used to be a playground with a large Rainbow System play area when we moved in. The previous owners were thrilled when I called them and asked them if they wanted the playground. I moved all the gravel to the back gardens where we do all the vegetable planting, and then enlarged the area a bit, and brought in 8 cubic yard of composted dirt. It took about two seasons to get the blue spruce, the standard pears and all the bushes planted. We have viburnum, quince, peonies, roses, boxwood, penstemmon, veronica, pincushions, coreopsis, primroses, butterfly bushes, hardy hibiscus, monardia, coneflowers, rudbeckia, live forever, aster, liatris, poppies, yarrow, lilies, daisies, and wild violets here. There is also a wren family who live in the 3 story birdhouse that sits behind the bench. Each evening, they sing their songs to let us know they are still here.

This is east of the center garden, just across the pathway. This had absolutely NOTHING planted here when we moved in 6 years ago. It is actually the back side of the pool deck. We have a gunnite poured pool, and the foundation was built up and then backed with wide timber. Not so pretty to look at, but pretty functional. The Kanardi Junipers make a nice windbreak and provide privacy, but they also provide lots of blue juniper berries. The cedar waxwings spend about a week to ten days on their migration route here in my Kanardis, filling up on berries! They also provide a good structure for flowers planted in front of them. I have more viburnum, spirea, dwarf spice lilac, veronica, Stella D'oro, blue eyed grass, Miscanthus grass, daisies, coneflowers, Russian sage, and primrose along here. The center section is lower - that's where you can see through from the pool deck to the rest of the backyard. That break is where there are more boxwoods, and dark barberry bushes on the edge of the pool decking (above and behind the junipers).

This is the backside of the center garden.I love sitting here in the mornings with a cup of tea, listening to the birds singing their morning songs. I don't get to sit out here very long in the season because it gets so hot, but it's a nice place to come when I can. This is also where my 17 year old Otto dog's ashes are buried - under the rose bush where he liked to lay while I worked in the yard.

And last, this is the center garden, looking northward. We love this part of the yard, but there's more to come!

Friday, May 26, 2006

A GOOD Friday

Daughter called this morning to see if we wanted Stephen Superboy to come and play today while she ran errands. Well, of course, we did! He had to inspect the gardens....

This is in front of the south garden that is mostly in the shade, and it's the last place we weed. Anything we plant is just salad for the deer and the turkey, so we mostly let it go wild. The only "good" things I plant here are birdhouses and metal yard ornaments.

Here he is inspecting the daisy centers. He loves the way they feel, I think. This is the central bed edge. I'll post more of it another time.
This is the side of our house where the deck runs along side on the north. I am standing in the driveway, looking west to take this picture of the shrub roses and the magnolias, clematis, hosts and columbine.
This is the same flower bed, looking back east where I was standing when I took the previous picture. It's the other end of our deck near where I am standing.
Then I took my mother to the cemeteries today, to dress 14 graves. We always do them all the same flowers, and it's quite nice to look back and see our entire family together, by seeing the same colors splashing across the lawns. The two yellow bunches in the lower right are the tail end of our section. While we were there, this unusual sight greeted us. The horses and the original 1890's hearse came from Odessa Mo for the services. I'm sure there is some story there.
And this is what I just finished playing with tonight. I hope there's more tomorrow! You can click on any of the pictures to enlarge them, too.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

What to say?

Each day, I think I am going to get into the stewdio and sew! There are sew many projects waiting for me, and I am now having withdrawal pangs! But.....

Each day that passes, the weather gets more and more like Kansas summer! We've had numerous days now in the 80's and 90's, so I MUST finish the yard work before it is intolerable to work outside. I only have 2 more flats of petunias to plant around the new little fountain I installed yesterday, one more hosta by the re-located fountain that may have a leak in it, and one more penstemmon and it's supports to do, and then it's good. Grass cutting will be all that is necessary then.

My son will be coming home the end of June with his two girls. He had been in the Army for 13 years, and after his tour in Iraq, and a nasty divorce, he decided that he wanted to be closer to his family roots. He won custody of his two girls, ages 7 and 12 ,and they have never had "family", so this will be a good thing! It will be somewhat crazy at our house, though, while they live here until school starts in August. We've gotten quite accustomed to the empy nest and the quiet and contemplation that brings. On the other hand, having them close to us will add yet another dimension to our lives.

Yesterday, Hubby had some surgery for skin cancer on top of his noggin. Let this be a warning about wearing hats and sun screen when you are outside. Of course, his was caused by his immuno-suppression drugs, so it's not 100% not wearing a hat, but still, a word to the wise! And then today, I took Mother to the doctor because I suspected she had broken some ribs when she fell in her apt the other day. And, yes, she did, and now she has her Loritab, heat pad and a volumetric exerciser to help keep her from pain and pneumonia. Sheesh! When can I sew?

Well, how about today? And how about I do something with these lotto blocks from last year? It wouId be nice to get them off my worktable and into a quilt top... wonder what I'll do?

Monday, May 22, 2006

Garden Time

Double pink peony, 2006

I haven't gotten much quilting done, even though at the end of each day, I wander into the stewdio and dream. Sigh.

We've had glorious weather, and we decided we should get out in the yard and get things done before it gets too hot. You see, here in the Heartland, we have what we call Real Estate weather (perfect) and Real Weather (hot, hot, hot) in the spring and summer. Right now, it's Real Estate Weather, and with two acres of yard, with almost 1/2 of it in either flower or vegetable gardens, it's a lot of work. We love it, but it does take a big chunk of time!

I estimate I have carried about 4000 pounds of dirt, mulch, sand and rocks over the last 4 days; sweated about 16 gallons of Gatorade (funny how it isn't the same color as what I drink!); put together one fountain; and planted 15 poppies, 3 Cranesbill geraniums, 16 moss roses, 18 hosta, 3 Penstemmons, and 3 Speedwells. I still have another fountain to put together, and 3 flats of petunias to get in - one in the wheelbarrow in the dry wash and one on the back patio edge. That doesn't count how many lilies I've divided and planted, or the 18 bags of yard waste that are sitting by the curb for the recyclers to pick up.

So, with no quilting done, and the yard isn't quite dressed yet for all it's pictures, I thought I would share some friends of mine from last week.
Here is "Buddy", my daily visitor. I think he wants to come quilt with me, because he always comes to the same tree right outside the window where I sew. He will stay about 30 minutes, chirping away, hopping closer and closer. I can even get right up to the window, moving around, and he stays. I've started talking to him recently, and the last time he came to visit, he brought Mrs. Buddy with him. I am hoping their children will come to visit sometime, too! These pictures were not zoomed, and they were taken through the window glass.

When I was working in one of the smaller beds, I kept hearing a tree frog croaking, but I assumed he was under a rock - not hanging onto the branch of a plant I was getting ready to clean up!

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Another Birthday Quilt Day

As you might (or might not) remember, my stitch group, the Amazing Quilt Babes get together about every 6 weeks to make a birthday quilt top for one of the members. We draw names to see when our quilt birthday is at our Christmas dinner, and we usually start the last of January or the beginning of February. This stitch day was for Shirleee (center, standing). The birthday girl comes prepared with all the pieces cut out, and ready to sew. We usually start around 9AM and stitch until 3PM or 4PM, and by that time, it's pretty much done! My birthday quilt was the Happy Jack's Pumpkin Patch.

Last year, the group decided we all really like Everything But the Kitchen Sink, but we didn't really want to invest in anymore reproduction fabrics to get a large variety in the quilt. So we decided we would exchange 9 patch blocks. I can't tell you how many we made, but you can see by the picture - there's a boatload of them in a 85" X 98" quilt!

Shirlee decided that she would make the nine-patch 9 patch blocks, and today the group made the star blocks and put the top together. Isn't it pretty?

And of course, Clyde had to help Carolyn hold things down while she sewed.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Baby Baby Baby

This is the most loving little boy! I got to spend Monday with our little Stephen. He loves books, and he will spend hours and hours with them. He especially loves pictures of animals, and makes the their sounds when he sees them. He even does elephants! Take note of the Baby Looney Toons bibs panel hanging on the chair behind him.
I purchased this panel about 11 years ago when I found out I was going to be a Grandma (Oma) the first time. Did I ever make the bib? Nope. But it's been hanging around, and every time I have a new grandchild, I pull it out again. Five grandchildren now, and still no bibs. Stephen was born Oct 30, 2004, and once again, Baby Looney Toons saw the light of day. Instead of being made into bibs, I used it to cover my Pfaff Hobby Quilter since then. Every time Stephen comes to visit, however, he insists on dragging the panel around with him. He especially loves Baby Sylvester - it's the picture he is kissing!

He also has fallen in love with my stone cast cat. This cat is HEAVY, HEAVY, HEAVY!! It usually sits on the edge of the drapes in my dining room to keep me from breaking a toe (again!). He discovered it a couple of visits ago, and I pretty sure he thinks it's real! He talks to it, pets it, gives it kisses, and feeds it.

Occasionally he'll drape a long rope of beads he plays with around it's neck, and jabber at the cat. I couldn't figure out what he was doing, until his mommy told me she thought he was putting a leash on it like they do for their dog, Sasha when they go out for a walk. Sasha's leash is red, too. That is probably it, as Stephen tries to walk away with one end of it, and of course, the cat is stubborn and refuses to budge. Then he turns around and claps his hands at the cat and jabbers some more.

We love playing with him, and we can hardly wait until the weather stays nice now, so we can play outside.

Tomorrow is sewing day....YAY!

Monday, May 15, 2006

Kansas Art Quilters Workshop

Here is Rayna Gilman (left) and Jette Clover (right), our fabulous workshop guides!

On Saturday, Jette showed her beautiful work, and some slides, and then we got busy! We painted, and printed, used toothbrushes, combs, lemon peelers, juicers, steamers (anything with textures) - really anything we wanted. We started with one pass with black on white fabric, then another pass using gelatin for printing, then another pass with a third color and another tool of our choice. At the end of the day, we were starting to get a "feel" for a light hand, as Jette would say.

The second day was all Rayna. We took the pieces we had done the day before and made rubbings using carbon based photocopies and CitrusSolve, packing tape transfers, transfers with photocopies or transparencies and gel medium and the we did some thermofax screen printing.

I must say I started with pieces that I didn't like at all. Part of the problem was I didn't take the time to mix paint, but rather, I just used black, blue and red, which eventually turned into just baby colors. Most of Sunday, I had fun learning new techniques, but I just didn't care for anything that I had done...


This is the piece where it finally came together. Once I used the screen I had made before the workshop with my writing on it, I loved it!

See if you can find my grandmother's picture (Citrus Solve rub) that I enhanced with pigma pen, flowers that my grandmother loved (packing tape transfers), the screened hand writing, and the rubbed handwriting (Citrus Solve). After I got it home, I tea dyed it to make it look old.

I'm not certain if I will actually use this particular piece for a quilt or not. I've got an idea of how to incorporate it into a genealogy I am doing - maybe making a page for each person. I can see how I might use all of these techniques in other projects now, and I had a wonderful Mother's Day weekend.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Kansas City MQS - part 2

The theme of the show was Putting on the Ritz.

This is a family tree that I thought was executed quite nicely.

Another great quilt that is truly enhanced with the machine quilting!

I just liked the composition of this one.

I wonder who might like these cats?

The quilting on this one is my favorite. The embroidery was done from Mary Englebriet's children in the magazine. I think I read that they were enlarged for the pattern. But the quilting is wonderful!!!!! Each area around the children is specific to what they are doing. Rain and wind for the kids with the overcoats; little flowers for the little girl holding the flowers, etc. And each one of them just flowed into the next. I just love it!

This one also falls into my favorite category, too. Look at how that quilting is "shadowing" what the clown is juggling!

Take a close look at this machine. I couldn't get a clear shot of it because it was on a motorized turntable, with all sort of other displays around it. But if you click for the larger version, you can see what has happened to it!

I've been a bit busy today, taking a weekend workshop with Rayna Gilman and Jette Clover. Pretty nice way to spend a Mother's Day weekend, eh? But I can tell you right now, this has been a really great class, and it's only 1/2 over! Workshop pictures another day.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Quilts from Kansas City MQS

Here are some of my favorite quilts from the show, and I've tried to take a close up of what impressed me the most of the quilting. For you longarmers, I hope this is good enough. As a non-long armer, I look at the quilts first, then the quilting. Many of the quilts I saw were somewhat disappointing. Just because you can (add rhinestones, deep threadwork, trapunto) should you? Does it enhance the quilt design? None of those here in *blogland*, just some of my favorites. I'll post the last of them tomorrow, including my MOST favorite!

This quilt began life as a whole cloth quilt. When it was finished being quilted, she thought it needed color. Can you believe that ALL of the color in this quilt is from colored pencils and textile markers? It is beautifully quilted, and all I could think was how afraid I would be of messing it up with my colors! The picture following it is the backside of it.

I thought the piecing on this one was incredible, and while the color choice was not my favorite, I could see how it enhanced the quilt design. And talk about enhancing the quilt design - take a look at the quilting in the second picture!

I would never have thought of taking a delicately embroidered quilt and machine quilting it. I love how traditional it looks, and how nicely the quilting "fits" with the quilt design.

I just couldn't resist taking this photo. I am celebrating 8 years in July!

More tomorrow!

Thursday, May 11, 2006

MQS - Kansas City

One Quilt Maverick at a time, that's what I say!

Here's Keryn all the way from Australia with a few stops in between which you can read about on her blog. Isn't she sweet? I went to the Machine Quilter's Showcase which is held in Overland Park, KS each year. It is only about 20 minutes away, so this was an easy trip to get to see another Maverick. We are standing in front of her long arm quilting designs, so take a good look, too.

I will post some pictures of the quilts later on tonight. For now, I am going to go to dinner with another on-line friend from Ohio who is in town for the same MQS. Do you think if I wait long enough, everyone will come to me?

Oh! And here's a close up of the heart beads I got at the Bead Blast the other day.