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

Sunday, September 26, 2010


I've got the house to myself today.... although in this house you are never truly by yourself because there's always a critter under foot no matter what you are doing.  But, all the humans had vacated the premises and that was good enough for me.  

So, it was on to the sewing room and Diagonal Madness.   I was chaining the 4 patch blocks for a couple of the rows

and was having an absolutely delightful day in the sewing room, music on, peaceful, steady pace, making progress, then the predictable happened.  


Reesie Kitten
Launched herself at this


And this is what the results of that foolishness looked like

Brand new Design Wall after Reesie's Great Climbing Adventure

Just a few of the 9 million pieces of Diagonal Madness that were on the wall before Reesie's Great Climbing Adventure

Now look at Reesie, does she look remorseful in any way?  

NO, she does not.  But, if I could have zoomed in closer you would see that she is very wet and pissed off.  

After the Climbing Adventure, I sat at my sewing table and watched that stinking feline and any time she walked within a foot of the design wall I gave her a blast on her back end with my squirt bottle.  It took 1/2 hour and many blasts, but she's now gotten the picture..... I think.  I love cats, don't get me wrong, but I sure wish they had a tiny bit of that desire to please that dogs have.  If one of my dogs went near the design wall all I'd have to do is say "UH!" and that would take care of that. 
I have to admit, it was really a great jump and she sure did hold on tight.  If the whole wall hadn't tipped over I'm guessing she would have made it to the top.  

Once the cat training was done and Reesie had retreated to her window shelf, I went over to start putting the wall back in order.  You know what?  The floor in front of the wall was soaking wet and I ended up on my butt on the floor.   At that point I retreated to the kitchen for lunch.  

Reesie expressing her Delight

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


I'm working on Diagonal Madness.... again.  My first one was done with my choices of fabric and color.  This time, I'm using Kaffe Fassett's fabrics and have all pieces except for the setting triangles cut out, it's about 2,000 pieces:  

I've begun putting the pieces up on my new design wall:  

I'm making this quilt for friends John and Nancy who have a GIANT empty wall in their great room that screamed "QUILT" to me when I was at their home one night.  

I'm loving my new design wall.  My old one was on the doors of the closet which is behind the design wall in this photo.  I removed the doors from the closet to get better open storage space.  Today I got a 4 x 8 sheet of rigid 2" insulation that had a foil covering on it.  Then, lucky me, there's a store in our town that sells a very odd assortment of fabrics 59" wide.  My guys cut the board of insulation a bit and helped me stretch and staple on this fabric, which is like a cross between a light fleece and felt and is very sticky.  I would have preferred an off white or light grey, but for $10, I wasn't going to complain.  A lovely, lightweight design wall for under $50, pretty good I'd say.  And, it serves to hide all the shelving in the closet, which isn't always as tidy as I'd like.  

As we were making the design wall today, Reesie kitten was watching very closely, and I swear I saw a dialogue bubble floating over her head with the words "They are building me a climbing wall!!" in it.  


I'm loving my new sewing cabinet, it's simply perfect for me and for my sewing room.  Here's a picture of it with the table at the back in place and the front closed up for the night.  



What more can I say?  Our critters are spoiled to bits and we like it that way.  Here's Reesie kitten hanging out with her buddy Paul (who used to be allergic to cats and apparently is no longer).  

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


If you have one of these

Reesie Kitten
 and/or one of these

Misty Dawg
in your sewing room, then you need one of these:

Oliso Iron
Because at some point this

Reesie Kitten
is going to launch herself from that cozy window bed onto this

and if you have an iron that has to be up on it's heel, then you are going to either have a fried kitty cat or a smushed one of these

on your sewing room floor.  

Just got the Oliso iron, so am still checking it out.  It is always flat, and when you aren't using it, as shown in the picture, it rises up on magic feet.  When you want to use it, you just put your hand on the handle and magic sensing things lower the iron onto the board.  It gets very mixed reviews online, but so far I really like it.  I think problems happen if you stand it up on it's heel as you would a traditional iron.  I didn't find it tough to break that habit, and am glad to have an iron that is not going to mush, maim or burn a critter.  I especially like that it's auto shutoff doesn't happen until the iron is untouched for 30 minutes.  My Rowenta shut itself down in 5 or less minutes and drove me mad. 


Now that it's obvious I'm sewing a lot and am going to keep on sewing a lot, I decided to finally get myself a proper sewing table.  I had been using an old desk but gave that to my son to use as a desk and so I was using a folding table that bounced (note:  not a good thing when embroidering a label with your machine).  

Stopped at JoAnn's last Friday and found this one, on sale for $99, usually $229.

Lucky me, my son is a whiz at putting together the kind of furniture that arrives in pieces in a box. 

If I take the sewing machine off the wing, and place it on top of the table, the wing folds in nice and neat to make a tidy looking cabinet.   Some people may sew with the machine on the large table part, and the wing out to hold a book or even a serger, but I like having the big table space available for pinning and arranging.  

Here you can see that there is a large table section that can be easily folded up if I pull the table away from the wall, which is easy because it's on nifty wheels.  When I need to run something big through the machine, I will do that, placing the machine on the large table surface.  

The project on the table is a Downy Quilt for Kids.  I needed a break in the cutting out of a full sized Diagonal Madness.  Madness is right.  

Thursday, September 9, 2010


It was so much fun to make these stockings, each one so very special to me.  The two knitted ones without names are for Cassy and Misty (that's Misty in the photo).  We added Reesie kitten to the household since last Xmas, so I suppose I'd better get going on one for her.  Am already engineering ways to tie the tree to the wall, as I am certain Reesie will be climbing it.  



A couple of years ago My Friend Sue was the hand crafted donations organizer for a Leukemia and Lymphoma Society auction.  I told her that I would knit her something very special as a donation, and I did:  

This is knit from a Debbie Bliss pattern, I simply love her designs.  When I finished this afghan and described it to Sue, she advised me that auctioning it would be a shame.  So, I got inexpensive yarn and got to work knitting a simple bobble blanket (no pictures, sorry) and Sue included it in a basket of baby things.  It probably earned more than this incredibly expensive and intricate work would have.  

Experienced knitters, take a very close look at this picture and tear your hair out along with me.  All of the skeins were from the same dye lot (I always check labels a million times and also keep each label and check them against each other when I start a new skein).  Notice that the yarn used for the bottom row of letters is a slightly different color than the rest of the blanket.  ARGHHHH.  Same color code, same dye lot, but doesn't match, very expensive yarn.  I plan on tea-dying this piece to even out the colors and having it framed in a shallow shadow box..... some day.  


Yet another needle craft I thoroughly enjoy is knitting.  However, no one seems to want sweaters anymore (except for my toy poodle) and we have plenty of afghans, so a few years back I started knitting baby afghans.  And, I've kept on knitting baby afghans.  I've given many as gifts, but still have a box full waiting in the wings.  I knit one, toss it in the box, knit one, toss it in the box.....

Only others that are addicted to needle work would see this as "normal," and others would call it a bit of insanity.  I think it's completely normal. 


Quilting is just one of the needle crafts that I enjoy.  Another is counted cross stitch.  Here's a few of the pieces I have displayed in our home.  

I think this is my favorite.  The colors in it are the colors in my home. 

Can you guess what my favorite Bible story is now that you've seen these?

This is the first major X Stitch I did.  I love samplers, they feel like what X Stitch is supposed to be. 

This X Stitch was so much fun, I did it more than once!  Actually, the first time I stitched it, I ran out of the off white that I had bought at a local shop which subsequently shut down.  They sold a brand I'd never heard of and haven't seen since.  I could not find any match in DNC and got good and angry about that and threw that one in the trash (it was about 40 stitches from done!) and stitched this one. 

I took these and a few others to a frame shop all at once and the owner noticed and asked me "What was going on in 1999 and 2000?"  He noticed that all of these works were dated in those two years.  I thought about it and was surprised that it wasn't more obvious to me, and answered "My mother died in 1999 and my father in 2000."  They both had long residencies in nursing homes and I spent many hours with them through thick and thin, apparently my needle very busy.  


Another hobby of mine is writing.  When a topic pops into my head, I write.  Some of those musings have been published, others just stored.  A friend suggested I post a few on my Blog, and so I will.  

This article was published in our town's weekly paper in May of 2008, the year our daughter graduated from high school.  She is in the photo, second from the right, gold lame' dress.  The girls surrounding her are just a few of the girls I refer to in this article.  


The van is done.  It was just a car, but had become so much more over the years, a repository of memories, a vehicle of freedom. It seems somehow fitting that its demise would come this year, the year our daughter Anna and the gang of girls that have surrounded us for 18 years, prepare to graduate from high school.  The van was just no fun anymore without all the seats filled with laughing, smiling, boys and girls anyway, so it was time for a change.

This was a particularly difficult change to handle, the letting go of the years stored away in the van’s seams.  When the day came to stop by the auto body shop to clear the years of debris out of the van, my sadness was so deep it took all I had to hold back the tears.  The sadness that enveloped me would seem ridiculous to some.  But, losing the van is just another piece of learning to let go of my precious daughter and the Girls of the Class of 2008. 

So many of those girls spent hours in that van, and while cleaning it out, the laughter of them as toddlers, elementary school children, middle school children and then young adults rang in my ears. I could hear the hilarious reaction to the 2nd grade girl in the back seat amusing one and all with her amazing armpit farts. I heard the constant chatter of middle school girls heading off for a girls-only camping trip.  Or, the girls singing their way along to yet another adventure, whether it was far away or just around town to a practice of some type.  It’s as if Dr. Seuss had blessed the van for us, saying “Oh, the places you will go!”  And, go we did.

Friday afternoons in the winter with the van full of girls and gear, we would head up to Loon Mountain, getting there ahead of my husband and the boys and, therefore, grabbing the best beds.  How I miss those drives to Lincoln and the crazy mornings feeding the gang and packing the lunches to fuel a day of skiing.  I would give everything I own to have one of those mornings back again.  Just to feel it, smell it, wallow in the comfort and joy of a weekend in the mountains with that amazing group of girls and guys.  In the summer, we’d pack that van and head to campsites, rivers, water parks, amusement parks, beaches and lakes. Those girls would sing all the way there and then sleep all the way back.  

The boys who were a part of the adventures in the van graduated two years ago.  Now, it is the girls’ turn.  It has been a joy to know many of these girls since they were babies.  Countless others I have known for a shorter period of time, and there are many who came and went, our lives intersecting for short periods of time.  Regardless of the length of time they were part of Anna’s and, therefore, my life, they each brought to our household more happiness and excitement than I ever imagined possible.  The smiles and laughter they delivered to our doorstep are gifts for which I am deeply grateful.

Some friends have remarked upon the fact that the dog I rescued this spring appears to be an attempt to replace the excitement and energy we will be losing when Anna and that gaggle of girls head off to college.  Some have even commented that Cassy, our rescued mutt, is really like an Anna in a canine form.  Cassy is adorable and smart, lively and always ready for the next adventure, a loving and loyal friend.  Any resemblance to Anna is purely coincidental.  And, really, Cassy doesn’t smell nearly as good as Anna does.  Next fall I will miss that wonderful morning scent of a teenage girl getting ready for school, the delicious aromas of shampoo, body spray, and perfume that wafts to the kitchen, telling me that Anna is up and getting ready to face the day. 

I’ve said farewell to the van, and soon will bid farewell to Anna and the Girls in the Class of 2008.  The memories I have of our times together over the years, some as a participant in their fun and others as an observer, will provide me a lifetime of smiles.  Look out world, here they come, and they are funny, bright, engaging, and delightful.  They will go far, and if you get in their way, they will simply blast by you and continue on, smiling all the way.  

Best wishes, be careful, be smart…. I know you’ll have fun.