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

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.  


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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.



Wednesday, October 8, 2014

HERE IS WHAT I AM DOING

Finished the center portion of a batik quilt I am making for Paul. Now to design and add borders to get it to be queen sized.  

Doing the hand stitching of the binding on the Green Paw. I put pencil marks on my thumb, a scant 1/4 inch apart, to guide my stitches. 
Knitting a super soft lap afghan. 
Making great progress on Paper Chains cross stitch. 



Make a xmas table runner for a fund raiser. Moda fabrics FaLaLa collection. 


Taking care of a pack of animals that just seems to keep growing--top photo is Misty, Reesie and Poppy enjoying the fresh fall breezes and then there's Dave with Lila (Anna's california puppy), Bella and Cassy, heading out for a walk. 
I'm just one puppy short of a nervous breakdown.  Lila loves our pond. How nice. Get wet and then run on the dirt path she has built between the day lilies and fence. Lovely. 
Most important is how much I am enjoying having Anna back on the east coast, pictured here with Dave and her cousin and road trip partner, Kevin. 

Sunday, September 28, 2014

CATCH UP!

Wow, how did I allow so much time to pass between posts to my Blog?!  Summer on a lake will do it every time, lucky me!  Today I long for just one more trip around the lake in my mahogany boat, in search of the eagle, loons, and herons.  However, this now must wait for the next lake season.  

Back home for the Fall and winter, so it's time to catch up on so many things.  I did continue to stitch and knit and create over the summer months, but not at the rate I do over the winter, obviously.  In my next post, I will toss you some pictures of what I'm working on in my sewing room and on my needles.  For now, here's a bit of the summer:  



Time with not only our pack of Cassy, Bella, Misty and cats Poppy and Reesie….
But also with this lovely foster dog, Loki, as we started volunteering for Pet
Tails Rescue of Northwood, New Hampshire.  We have formed some
great friendships with the people of Pet Tails and are truly honored to
now be a part of this organization's mission.

Paul!  My favorite rock-climbing son.  When he visits
I send him up into the rafters on a spider-killing mission.  

Cousin Nicole, from Dave's Pennsylvania family,
was able to visit during the same time that Anna made
one of two visits from California.  

Me and My Guys.  
As always, one of my favorite activities on the lake is
nature watching the loons.  

A pair of loons nested the island on the lake, and
they did hatch two babies, shown in the next photo.
Unfortunately, those two babies did not survive, and
the photo I snapped below is likely the last one taken of them.
The eagles and nature take their course, as they should, although this
loss saddened me greatly.  (Note:  This photo was taken with a
strong telephoto lens.  Don't get any closer than 150 feet when
viewing a loon, especially one on a nest or with chicks.)

Two chicks with Mom or Dad at East end of Northwood Lake, 6/29/2014

Because there were so many unpaired loons on the lake this year,
we saw something you don't see often, groups of loons gathering.
Fabulous sunsets

Torrential Rains

Swamped Boats


Anna and her cousin Kevin, who is from Pennsylvania.  Anna made the decision
to return to life in New England, and moved home from California in mid-September.
It just so happened that cousin Kevin was riding his bike across the country this summer
and landed in California at just the right time to do a X country drive with his cousin Anna.
He came all the way to Massachusetts, and then rode his bike home from here, so it
was truly a coast to coast ride.  So, we have our dear daughter back in our fold, and
she brought something extra with her, the little doll baby pictured below,
Princess Lila from Ventura California, and now of Beverly, Massachusetts.  
Anna adopted Lila in mid summer and flew her here to us in early August,
as Anna was running all over getting ready to move back to New England.
It has been a loooong time since we've had a puppy in the house, and so
that's been an adjustment for Dave and me and the pack.  She is a good
dog, though, and is making it easier every day.  She is very goofy and
seems to have a great sense of humor.  I believe she is a mix of schnauzer
and corgi or wired hair daschund.  She's a cutie.
So, yes, we now have 4 dogs and 2 cats in our home.
And, we have Anna.  Life is good.