"Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will."
Mahatma Gandhi

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

FUND RAISING SEASON -- A MUCKFEST FOR MS

Last fall our daughter Anna said "I'd love to run in a muckfest some time..."  Huh, that's all we needed to hear.  Dave got on it and organized a team to run in this year's Muckfest for MS, run by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.  

"Our" team will be running through the muck on Saturday, April 25, and their team name is "Buns on the Run."  If you would like to donate to this team, you can do so at http://main.nationalmssociety.org/site/TR/MuckFest/MAMMUCKEvents?team_id=413261&pg=team&fr_id=25080

Each time I post about an MS fund raiser, I emphasize how important these donations are.  In the big picture, these funds are used for research into causes and cures of this disease. On a smaller look, these funds help individuals with MS live better lives, by providing them with services and goods that they cannot afford, and that will enhance their quality of life.  I'm lucky, I have adequate insurance and income to carry me along the road of this disease.  Not every one has this advantage, and need the assistance of the NMSS to live comfortable lives.  

Buns on the Run is running with me and my niece in mind, along with the thousands of other victims of MS.  My niece, who has MS, is one of the runners, and I am so proud of her.  Diagnosed at a young age, she was able to get onto one of the new therapies to halt progression of the disease, and it has worked.  She started running shortly after her diagnosis, and has not stopped, running half marathons and as many 5K's as she can find.  Without the research done by the NMSS, the therapy that is keeping her running would have never been developed.  

If you can, please donate to Buns on the Run, so that people like me, with progressive disease, can continue to receive necessary services, and so that people like my niece can keep on running.  





Saturday, March 28, 2015

DID IT AGAIN

Yesterday I had the third visit to the OR for my knee replacement. Third time is a charm, my sister has told me. I believe her. 

The surgeon removed all kinds of junk that was causing pain and inhibiting a good bend.  I wonder if he removed enough junk to help me lose some of my winter weight?  That'd be nice. 

I have an Ace bandage from thigh to ankle and instructions to elevate, ice and take drugs for the weekend, with simple PT movements every hour. On Monday we can remove the bandage and see what I've got, and then go off to the PT center for many days of work. 

If all of this work leads to a better bend and less pain, I will be one happy lady. If the knee remains the same, I will practice acceptance and just be done and move on and be happy that I was brave enough to try. And I'll be grateful for my family for supporting my decision to go back in. 

As usual, Misty is helping me to recover. 

WINTER ON THE LAKE.


My sister and her husband recently visited the lake to make sure their house had fared well through the winter, and it had. While there, they checked to make sure our house is still standing, and it is, although it is a bit snowed in.   These views are obviously taken from the road. I guess the plow guy likes that we aren't there at the end of the road during the winter, it gives him a spot to push the banks nice and high.  I hope that when he sees that we are living ther next winter he will find a different spot to deposit the snow from the road. 




I love this photo of our lake house last winter, when our brother in law went cross country skiing and got some great shots of winter on the lake. 



Saturday, March 21, 2015

TWO BABY QUILTS READY TO GO

I have finished quilts for my nephew's second and third daughters, and they are going off to be long-arm quilted this week.  

I was hoping to get different backing fabrics for each quilt, but as you'll see in the photos below, a fabric jumped out at me at the fabric shop and I just had to use it for both.  It is perfect.  

These quilts and the batik quilt for Paul will be quilted within the next week or so.  While they are off at the quilter I will sew the binding strips and then have a whole lot of hand sewing to be done.  I enjoy that, the hand sewing of a binding, it's such a peaceful, rhythmic task.  

Also, I will be working at packing my sewing room for our move to the lake house, which may end up being a permanent move.  We will be deciding as we go along, but life on the lake and at our condominium in Lincoln, NH, may be the retired life for us.  

It's an exciting time, this opportunity to live on a lake and in the mountains.  Especially attractive to me is the simplification that will go along with moving to these smaller spaces.  I love downsizing, and have no difficulty letting it all go, keeping just what we need, along with those items which hold strong family memories.  Everything else is outta here.  

Monday, March 16, 2015

IN THE SEWING ROOM, ON THE NEEDLES, ON MY LAP

The most important photo of the day is of Reesie on my lap.  
Now if anyone ever posted such an unflattering picture of me online, I'd kick them.  Since Reesie hasn't figured out how to use a computer, I think I am safe.  

She is a dear, sweet cat who loves me beyond measure.  Me, just me.  Everyone else, she wards off with a Rottweiler-like growl.  This is kind of typical of Calico cats, who tend to attach pretty strongly to just one person.  

Aside from sitting around with Reesie on my lap, I have been busy in the sewing room and with my knitting needles.  

In the sewing room I'm putting the finishing touches on a baby quilt, using the Merry Go Round blocks that I shared in an earlier post.  I was going to add sashings around every block but just flat out didn't feel like it, so I sewed them together today and tomorrow will add a border of the pink fabric.  


I've been going through my stash of yarn, knitting away the yarns I've bought and not yet used.  There are surprisingly few, and I'm not stopping on the stash until it is down all the way.  This sweet little baby blanket will go to one of the local NICU units.  It's the perfect size to swaddle a tiny baby with and is a perfect blend of bamboo and cotton.  
Now that the baby blanket is off my needles, I have started a scarf/wrap using some Cascade 220 Super Wash I had on hand.  The pattern looks complicated, but is really very easy and is a fun knit.  

And, of course, the weather in New England occupies a big chunk of my mind, as I look forward to returning to the lake.  That can't happen until the snow banks melt back so that we can get in!  And, with the way things are going, that's not going to happen real fast.  The nights remain below freezing, and yesterday we got another fresh couple of inches.  That's all great fun, as that couple of inches broke the previous record snowfall for a winter in the Boston area.  

The record that was broken was of the winter of 1995-1996 and I remember it well.  The bank at the back of our driveway became a very solid pack about 10 feet tall, and Dave and the kids spent the winter months digging tunnels and building snow caves.  It kept everyone busy and provided good memories of grand winters in New England.  
Yesterday's snowfall that ended up breaking the record!
Spring feels very far away with snow banks from as low as 3' to as tall as 10' to melt away.  It will melt, and Spring will arrive.  And, I will continue with my own record of starts and finishes during this long season.  

Prior to heading off to the lake, I have a few things to tackle here.  The first is yet another procedure on March 27, on my knee replacement.  A surgeon will be doing an arthroscope to remove scar tissue and adhesions that have formed and prevented my knee from bending as it should, and which are a source of pain.  Hopefully this will fix the problems I've had since the knee replacement in 11/2013.  If this fix isn't it, I'm done.  

Once recovery from the surgery is complete, there will be the preparations to move to the lake... not just for the season, but possibly for good.  As Dave heads into retirement, we are going to take a stab at living in the year round lake house year round.  Anna and a friend will be renting our home here north of Boston, and so we have a lot of clearing out to do.  

It's a bit frightening to me, heading off to this new life in a small house on a lake, with a retired husband, 3 dogs and two cats.  It will be an adventure, there is no doubt about that.  I look forward to being surrounded by nature each and every day, and to building a life in the small New Hampshire Town of Northwood.  

Sunday, March 1, 2015

FINISH AND START IN THE SEWING ROOM

Being snow bound in New England hasn't been totally horrible, I've gotten a lot done in my sewing room.  

My nephew and his wife in Tennessee have 3 little girls, and I made a quilt for the first baby (called "Simple Gifts" in an earlier post).  They recently gave birth to their third girl and so I felt it was time to play catch up and make quilts for the second and third girls.    

Because I had bought so much of the fabric used for Simple Gifts (it was sold off in bags of 10" blocks at a store having a crazy sale) I still had enough on hand to make quilts #2 and #3.  

Yesterday I finished this quilt:  

For toddler Maggie.  I love the way it finished, but realize now why I
always make such complicated quilts---this one bored me to tears!

And today I started this quilt, returning to my love of complicated blocks and frustrating moments.  I love the feeling of accomplishment when a busy block comes together.  

I got the pattern for this block, called Merry Go Round, at http://www.quiltinaday.com/freepattern/

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

WINTER IN NEW ENGLAND

Unless you are living under a rock, you are well aware that we are having a fabulous winter here in New England.  We live on the North Shore of Boston, which has been the bullseye of many of the storms.  Records have been broken, ice dams are abundant, and every day I am awed by the beauty of the landscape.   I am a true New Englander.  

The view from my sewing machine.  Our fence is 5' tall.  


Heading down our street after the most recent storm.  

That's our home, behind that tall snowbank!
The thing I love the most about a good New England winter
is that the sky will take on a color that you rarely see.
This photo captured that color perfectly.  

Home sweet buried Home.
Anna's puppy Lila and my Cassy Girl.
Obviously, Lila is a New England Girl, even
though she was born and rescued in California
It's not all lollipops and roses, just ask Dave

There is a whole lotta misery going on in people's homes, because of these
delightful formations called ice dams.  We do not have water back up into our
home as a result of our fabulous ice dams, because our gutters are a foot
away from the house with a large eave.  Others are not as fortunate.  


Not lost on me are the difficulties that this weather has brought to the lives of thousands of people.  It definitely is not all lollipops and roses.  The public transit system in Boston is shut down and people cannot get to work.  A vast majority of those people are not going to receive any type of pay checks for all of those lost days.  Billions of dollars have been lost by businesses.  Peoples' cars and homes have been damaged, people have gotten hurt, some have died.  

Now it's time to pray for a slow, moderate melt.  If that's not the case, then the winter of 2014-2015 will continue to give and give, in the form of drainage problems and flooded basements.  We have a drainage system surrounding the outside of our house, and in our basement we have a perimeter drain and sump pumps.  We will not flood.  Others will.  

IN THE SEWING ROOM

My sewing room is at times my most favorite place on earth and at other times a place I can't bear to step into.  I lean towards rather complicated designs, and that is why there are times when I just can't bear to walk in and remind myself of my insanity.  

But, walk in I do, no matter what.  And, the results can be pretty amazing.  I am not afraid to tackle a quilt that may take a year, or even two.  I have to step away from those designs every once in a while, and that adds to the time element.  During those breaks I may make a table runner or a dog blanket, something simple to remind me that I can, in fact, finish a project.  

I have been afraid to look back through my blog and see exactly when it was I finished The Paw.  All I focus on is I started it and finished it, and it is amazing.  Who cares how long it took?  I would have been sewing something anyhow!

And, here it is.  

I had it custom quilted and am very pleased with that decision.  And, of course, it has my
usual machine-embroidered label.  
 As I was finishing up The Paw, I was beginning a batik quilt for Paul.  It is ready to go to the quilter now, and I can't wait to get it quilted, bound, and into Paul's hands.  
The Center of the quilt is the pattern, using Tonga Treats Blueberry Pie Batiks (now discontinued).
The pattern made a quilt of a size that made no sense at all, and so once I finished the center,
I got to designing borders to enlarge the quilt to a queen size.  Well, that was a whole lotta work
and math and in the end very rewarding.  Here you can see the first and second borders--thin
strip of the dark blue, with a border of 4 patches.  Ignore the large piece of blue fabric to the
right.  That was me dreaming that I could actually do an easy border, silly me.  

Here's my audition of a different fabric for a final wide border.  Nope, not that either.
I had to do something smashing and dramatic to finish it off, and I did.
But, I can't show you now, since Paul has not seen the final whole picture and
his next view will be of it quilted and bound.
Here's a teaser, the quilt top from the back side, waiting for a lift to the long-armer.

Now I have actually started something simple, what a novel idea!  My nephew and his wife just had their third baby girl, and I made a quilt for baby #1.  I decided that's not nice at all, to skip the second and third girls, so am working on a quilt for baby #2 and then will make one for baby #3.  Since I hope my baby quilts get used well and dragged around often, I make them a lot simpler than my big quilts.  I have enough of the fabric from baby #1's quilt to make the quilts for baby #2 and 3.  
I love these fabrics together.  They holler "sweet and simple" to me.  
Such a simple design can bring a lot of impact with the right fabrics.  
And that's it, folks, that's what's going on in the sewing room.  I am kind of bored with the process of this simple baby quilt.  In all things, I tend to challenge myself, reaching perhaps further than I should, and that personal quality shows up in my big quilts.  

In the spring I will be getting a copy of Natalia Bonner's new pattern book of modern log cabin designs.  From that I will choose a quilt to make for Anna.  And, there's always more to plan beyond that one.  So many quilts, so little time.  

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

MY DAD -- PHILIPPE A. MICHAUD -- FEBRUARY 17, 1922-AUGUST 28, 2000


Today I drove over a bridge that connects Beverly, MA to Salem, MA and spotted the tug boat pictured above, breaking up the ice in the river.  This scene took me back to a very special morning I spent with my Dad, in the mid-70's or so.  Since today is the day of his birth, I decided to write down that memory, and so I did.  First I shared it with my 3 siblings, and now I share it with you.  

Coming over the Kernwood Bridge today I stopped to watch a large tug boat breaking up the ice near the bridge.  It reminded me of a Saturday morning many cold winters ago when I was a single girl in an apartment in Salem. Dad called me early that day and said there was something he wanted to go watch so "dress real warm and I'll come pick you up."


I did as instructed and he drove us to the bridge near the School for the Deaf in Danvers. The fuel depots are there and because the river was frozen all the way to the Beverly bridge, barges could not get through. I don't know how Dad knew, but the Coast Guard had dispatched two of its biggest breakers to open up a path through the ice.


We parked and found a spot for good viewing, and drank coffee from the thermos he had brought. After a bit, the breakers appeared in the distance. We watched them bash their way through the ice, and we stayed until they had completed all of the breaking and tied down at the dock.


Dad and I were absolutely mesmerized by the forces of nature and man that morning. His wonder of nature and the world are a gift he gave to all of us, and it is a big piece of me, every day.


I'm glad I pulled on my ski clothes and sat by that bridge that day, with our Dad.


There are so many more things I could share about my Dad, that he grew up cold and hungry in the Depression, that he was at Pearl Harbor when it was bombed.  So many stories in a life well lived, but stolen too early.  The most important thing I can say about him, though, is that he was a great Dad, and that is not an easy thing to be.  


He gave to me my love of the outdoors, my endless curiosity and fascination of all things, and he gave me the strength and wisdom to live life well.  


The next time your Dad calls you to go off and do something together, you go.  You could be receiving the gift of a memory that sustains, such as I received one very cold day by the side of a river.  

KNITTING

Carrying on with the update of my life here in New England, I'll share the knitting I've done while I've been ignoring my blog.  

My Mom formed a 4-H Fiber Arts club when my sister and I were quite young.  I didn't realize then what a great gift she gave us when she decided to teach a bunch of young girls the fiber arts she had grown up with.  For my mom, it was a necessity--the sewing of wardrobes, the knitting of sweaters.  There was no money or desire for store bought clothing, including winter coats.  

Now, those arts that she taught me keep me going, especially during these New England winters when the ground underfoot is too icy for me to chance.  So, I knit.  And, I love it.  The rhythm of the needles, and the excitement of the pattern emerging from my needles is something I now cannot live without.  My hands do not work as well as they once did, but my knitting does.    

I've had some starts and finishes over these cold months.   

Of course I made a Christmas stocking for Anna's puppy Lila.  

I had a bunch of Martha Stewart craft yarn left from previous projects,
a bit of this and a bit of that.   I decided to use it all up to make a blanket
for Project Linus, and to use this corner to corner pattern, the same
one I use to make my cotton dish cloths.  I just grabbed a ball at a
time and knit until it was gone, so there is no rhyme or reason
to the stripes.  When I was nearly done, Anna
remarked upon how much she loved the blanket and could she give it
as a gift to a friend who will be having a baby boy in April.  So, I made a
hat to match, and now it's a personal gift for Anna to give.
I think this is my go-to pattern for all baby blankets now.
With stripes added, it has a lot of character and it is delightfully
mindless to knit.  

I finished this lap afghan for myself, and it is perfectly warm
and bouncy and soft.  I am addicted to Chevron patterns right now
and will probably crank out a Chevron quilt in the sewing room
before too long.  

My favorite scarf----Hitchhiker, available on Revelry.
I had this luscious hand dyed wool sitting and waiting to be put
to work, and it has been.  I've now finished this scarf to give
as a gift to a friend as thanks for her great kindness over the years.
I know she does not expect anything in return, and will
be surprised and thrilled to receive this.  
Presently on my needles I have another corner to corner baby blanket.  I've been digging through my yarn collection and using all that I have on hand, and I've made a pledge to not buy any yarn until that collection is gone.  This will not be easy.  The fingering weight hand-dyed yarns that are easily available and popular right now call to me.  But, they are expensive, and I have enough yarn in my stash to keep me knitting for quite a while.  

Monday, February 16, 2015

TIME TO BLOG

It has been far too long since I have spent time on my blog, and I miss it.  It is time to catch up and to start writing again.  Piece by piece I will do exactly that.  

First, the holidays.  Joyful, wonderful.  With Anna again living on the East Coast, not the West Coast, it was an especially sweet time.  The four of us spent a peaceful lovely few days together, doing what we traditionally do.  

Making cookies, baking rolls, building a gingerbread house.  Such simple acts that have bound us together year after year.  




Every year we buy Paul and Anna a "toy" to play with.
This year it was a 3D puzzle that made a useable vase!
We had a lovely Christmas tree, decorated simply and tastefully by Anna.  Tied to the wall,  it did not get knocked over by any of the 6 critters (4 dogs, 2 cats) in the house.  Poppy's black and white look beautiful amid the Christmas finery.  


Anna added a new member to our pack this year, Miss Lila,
and so of course a new stocking was added to our display.   
And, here they all are, all made by me, except for the two with
the Santa faces, which were originally made for Dave and me
by my Auntie.  She loved animals and so I'm sure she wouldn't mind
that we passed them onto the cats.  We now have more stockings
for critters than for people.  

The best holiday photo of all?  Our dear Paul and Anna, of course.  

For Christmas, Paul gave Anna some fabulous Red Solo Cup re-usable
stemware.  Our two New England kids in their Christmas flannel shirts
drinking wine from their Red Solo Cup stemware.  
Since the holidays, I have been spending a lot of time in my sewing room and with my knitting needles.  I look forward to sharing those starts and finishes.  

For now, it's Christmas memories that stand alone and come first.  It is a great blessing every time the four of us are able to gather together.  

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

HAPPY HOLIDAYS

TO ALL OF MY BLOGGING FRIENDS:

I HOPE THAT YOUR HOLIDAYS ARE HAPPY AND THAT YOU ARE BLESSED WITH THE GIFT OF BEING SURROUNDED BY THE PEOPLE THAT ARE DEAR TO YOU.  

THAT'S WHAT I CONSIDER TO BE THE GREATEST GIFT FOR CHRISTMAS.  IT'S NOT THE THINGS THAT CAN BE WRAPPED, RATHER IT'S THE PEOPLE I CAN HUG.  

HUGS TO ALL OF YOU, 

ANGELA

Sunday, November 16, 2014

ALWAYS SOMETHING GOING ON

Winter is slowly settling in here in New England, and we had a light coating of snow one morning this week.  

So, I spend more time indoors, and in my sewing room especially.  I love how the different seasons of New England bring with them different activities.  Easy season looks, feels and acts differently, and so do we humans who change with the seasons.  

In my sewing room, I continue to finish off Paul's Batik quilt.  I have one border on and am making 4 patches for the second border.  


Add caption
I recently totally blasted my sewing room, making better use of the space, and I am very happy with the results.  I think Misty is, too, as she can be on the bed and watch me sew, and I can watch her be her Misty self.  


On the bed is a quilt made for me by my sister, Christine.  


I had a BIG finish this week, completing "Paperchains," a x stitch design by Tams Creations.  My next project is on it's way, it will be Magic Carpet by Tams Creations.  I am anxious to get started on that.  




I have set aside my knitting of a chevron afghan for myself to knit a sweater for a doggy friend.  She's light coated and freezing.  This 100% Cascade Superwash sweater should help.  



And, of course, along with all these crafts comes the care, feeding, loving, training and joy of living with 4 dogs and 2 cats.  One of the 4 dogs is Anna's baby Lila, who accompanied her on her move from California to New England.  They are living with us until they land their career job and apartment.  Although I'm not nuts about puppies, I am nuts about Lila, and am enjoying helping to train her to be a dog with civilized house manners, without squashing her joy in the process.  She gives us a lot of laughs and is a great addition to the pack.  She and Bella especially love to wrestle and run together.  


Miss Lila, somewhere around 7 months old now.  She loves sticks,
can you tell?

Thursday, November 6, 2014

A BATIK QUILT FOR PAUL, ON THE HOME STRETCH

I am heading into the home stretch on a quilt I am making for my son, Paul. The last time I shared a picture of the quilt it was at it appears in the first picture below. Now I am adding the borders. First I added a solid 2.5" border and next I will add a border of 4 patch blocks of the same design as in the quilt.  First, though, I had to line up and identify the 20 fabrics in this quilt (I've done this a million times with this quilt). These strips will become blocks before you know it. 

I loved seeing all of the fabrics lined up in this manner. When I choose a design and fabrics for a quilt, I try to match them to the person who will live with the quilt for many years to come. When I stood back and looked at these strips of fabric, I really felt that I'd captured Paul and what he's all about---all of the outdoors; peace; adventure; kindness; fairness; bravery; fascination; challenge; all with a good dose of wild thrown in.