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

Saturday, June 25, 2011

IN MEMORY OF LORETTA

Following his tour duty in Viet Nam, my oldest brother, Jeffrey, found himself at Fort Bragg in North Carolina.  While there, he met the love of his life, Margaret, and they have now been married over 40 years.  How lucky Jeffrey was, not only did he find the love of his life, but also he found himself his southern family, as Margaret had brothers and a sister in the area, and they gathered often and laughed alot.  

Over the years, I had the pleasure of getting to know Margaret's sister, Loretta, mostly when we went to North Carolina to rent a beach house with Jeff and Margaret and their children.  Little did we know that when you rent a beach house with Jeff and Margaret, you get everyone, and I mean every one. That week was more fun than a barrel full of monkeys. 

During that week, I learned that Loretta was a friendly, loving, relaxed, southern girl, who would make you feel at home by her side within minutes of your arrival.  Her sense of humor and fun made her even more magnetic.   Such beauty and joy.   Along with the laughter, deep inside Loretta was a steely determination to get things done, and that she did when she formed, owned and ran the Montgomery School of Hairdressing, a highly successful venture. 

The years went by and the next time we spent with Jeff and his family (all of them) was at the marriage of one of Jeff and Margaret's sons in Tennessee.  Reuniting with this group that we had last seen on the shores of North Carolina was so joyful, so much fun.  That joy was tempered by the fact that Loretta was engaged in a battle for her life, fighting a cancer that had returned two years after initial treatment.  In spite of that, she got as much pleasure as she could out of the weekend, and she did smile and laugh, but not as she had in the past. 

The last time I saw Loretta was in October of 2009, when my friend Sue and I ventured to Johnson City, Tennessee (the sight of the wedding) to attend a Kaffe Fassett weekend at Tennessee Quilts.  My dear brother was not going to allow his baby sister to be near the South without an entourage, and so a batch of them, including Loretta and her husband Willi, drove north to spend the weekend in Johnson City.  

During that trip, Loretta wanted to buy a quilt for one of her daughters, and so we shopped around but did not find.  By this time, Loretta was very sick and very weak, yet she remained determined that her daughter should have a quilt.  The weekend went by without that elusive quilt being found.  

The big North Carolina group decided to spend the Thanksgiving week together at the beach, and so off they went.  Before their trip, Jeffrey asked me to pick out a quilt pattern and fabric that the ladies could work on with Loretta, doing the cutting of parts to send to me to sew.  Off to the beach they went, but the quilt work took a back burner to their time together.  

The fabric and pattern then came to me, as Loretta's health deteriorated.  I made that quilt, sewing here in Massachusetts, at the same time Loretta was losing her battle in North Carolina.  I never knew I could sew and cry at the same time.  There are tears sewn into these seams.  My sister did the binding, her fine stitches adding her love of Loretta to the quilt.   


Loretta died on January 12, 2010.  A few months later, her husband Willi passed away.  

Part of finishing Loretta's quilt was to incorporate a piece of Loretta's daughter's baby blanket,    a hand-shaped satin piece, with the worn stuffing still inside.  With both of her parents gone, I thought a hand full of hearts may somehow comfort.



We will be delivering this quilt to North Carolina this week, heading South to attend the wedding of Jeff and Margaret's daughter.  This quilt has been sitting and waiting, and I am glad that my sister and I can deliver it in person. 



 In memory of Loretta, that's how this story started.  


Mrs. Loretta Montgomery, 56, of Fayetteville, died Tuesday, January 12, 2010 in her residence surrounded by her family.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

THEY DO CANOE

Following up on the post concerning my younger days and the Allagash Wilderness Waterway in Maine, I've gotten a few pictures from this year's trip.  

Here's a picture of some of the group at one of the finer dining facilities along the Waterway:
 
Paul is third from the front on the left.  One of the greatest things about dining on the Waterway is that you will pretty much eat ANYTHING after paddling for 8-10 hours a day.  It takes the pickiness out of a lot of eaters.  This looks like a crew that would have eaten anything anyways.  

While out adventuring on the Wilderness, the group visited what has been named "Moss Land."  It looks like a place where magic could happen

If you wonder why one would WANT to be on the Allagash, with the bugs and the wilderness living, these next two pictures should answer that question



Natural beauty surrounds you along every inch of the river, it makes every blister and bug bite worthwhile.  

I've also received a picture of this year's "Man Thighs" competition.  I didn't ask who won the competition, but I think that Paul (who was a pedicabber in Newport, RI, for a summer) looks like a good contender.  Not sure I'm going to publish that photo, I don't want any swooning among my quilting friends.  

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

DO YOU CANOE??

Back in the Dark Ages, before they knew the world was round.... No, I mean to say, when I was a teen and then a young adult, I did canoe..... a lot.  The minister at my church took our youth group on the Allagash Wilderness Waterway in Maine, starting at the beginning, and going all the way to the end,  28 kids, 14 days.  Now that I am an adult, I am in awe of his bravery.  At the time, I just thought it was a blast.  

In my twenties, another minister from the church started taking some of us veterans on Allagash trips, and those were also a blast.  

Now, I've hung up my canoe paddle, but my 23 year old son has picked one up.  In a crazy coincidence, he has twice now gone on the Allagash on trips led by the guy that was my first canoe partner on a church trip.  Small world, small town, my son is good friends with his daughter.  

Before they left on this year's trip, which was earlier on the calendar than the previous trip, I showed my son a picture of me at our campsite on the old Long Lake dam site on the Allagash:

 
My son's reaction was understandably "Wow, Mom, looks like you had yourself one heck of a good time."  I explained to him "bugs, Paul, more bugs than you can possibly imagine, more bug bites, more swollen ears and eyes and itching and scratching than you would believe could occur."  Then I remembered, his first trip fell after black fly season, and that this year's trip was scheduled during the height of black fly season, and it's been a very wet year.  

They returned from the Allagash on Sunday, and Paul has told me he now understands the look on my face in this picture.  He and the others described "bugs, more than you can possibly imagine...." and they proudly displayed the hundreds of black fly bites behind their ears, in their scalps.  In spite of that, they had a blast and a safe, successful trip, just like I had a blast on the trip pictured above, although in that one moment it would have been difficult to guess that.  

These pictures better depict the fun to be had on a trip to the wilderness:


Taken out in the middle of a lake, where the bugs can't getcha, although this year's group reported that location did not matter to this year's crop of black flies. 

Taken at a point where I'd stopped pouting about the bugs and had probably gone mental.



Taken in a meadow at the base of Allagash Falls.  Since the water is so swift at this point in the river, the bugs are thin.  It was likely the first time in the trip that I took off my "Ole Woodsman" soaked bandana.  

Now, to wait for Paul to send me some pictures of this group's trip, and see if they were all smiles..... I suspect they were. 

Friday, June 17, 2011

HERE'S A BEAR'S PAW BLOCK

Following up on the Quilt for Us post, I have now succeeded in making the block correctly:

 Wow!  It really looks good with the correct fabric choices for the center blocks.  I can tell you, this is a real big exercise for my addled brain, making sure those claws face the right way when I sew them onto the 3.5 inch block.  Of all the things I've lost to MS, I miss my brain the most!  Perhaps if I keep exercising it with projects like this one, it'll return.  There's always hope, right?

Thursday, June 16, 2011

A QUILT FOR US

Finally, I am getting around to making a quilt for our bed.  Dave wanted a Bear's Paw, which was fine with me, but I wanted a design with a bit more to it and was thrilled when I found this design online: 
I could not find a pattern anywhere, and I just can't do a thing without a pattern or recipe.  So, I called on Rhonda, a wonderful woman and teacher of quilting.  She came over and got me started.  

I chose these fabrics:

My first step was to make the Claws, 1/2 square triangles.  Have you ever used Triangles on a Roll?  I love them.  You get a very accurate square, mass produced, in very little time.  Rhonda had me cut the two pieces of fabric different than one another--one piece with the selvage across the long side and the other piece with the stretch along the long side.  This way, when you get your triangles, the stretch and stable on 1/2 of the squares is going this way and on the other half that way.  This is so I can adhere to Rhonda's Commandment of stretch is always horizontal.  Following that commandment has gotten me out of many messes. 

Now, one of my own commandments could have helped me when putting my first set of pieces together.  That commandment "don't be a knucklehead" would have stopped me from using the ivory fabric for the 3 x 3 block that I attached the claws to.  Honest to goodness.  And, I didn't even notice this til I after I had published this post the first time!!  Tomorrow I will post a REAL set of pieces. 
Now, this all made me think of a woman I met at a Kaffe Fassett workshop at Tennessee Quilts in Jonesboro, Tennessee.  She was going around the room with her digital camera, taking pictures of everyone's designs on their boards.  I thought, "well, the nerve of her!"  Then she came around to me and asked if I'd like to see the picture of my design, and I said of course.  She explained that she never moves very far forward on a quilt without viewing a picture, as for some reason you can look at a block for hours and not see the same thing that you see in a picture.  She was right, I remember looking at that picture and changing some of my design.  Just another reason to love those quilters from Tennessee. 

GO BRUINS

Haven't watched a hockey game in years, but everyone turns into a hockey fan when the home team is in the Stanley Cup Finals.  What a game!  Great fun, and Boston is turning itself inside out over this win.  

Our Reesie kitten donned her black and gold to cheer on the home town boys, she was absolutely glued to the TV, cheering on those dudes on skates.  
Although she sat herself  in a most unladylike position, she was polite enough to cover her junk from the camera's eye.  

NAME THAT PLANT

This home that we moved into 4 years ago was owned by a couple who were wonderful gardeners, so I've been told.  Since we moved in, we have seen evidence of that here and there, amid the overgrowth and tired landscape that we have now renovated.  

One of the plants we noticed was on the empty lot behind our house, which was originally a part of this property.  The plant that caught our eye stayed green all winter. 

Last summer I sent Dave over the fence to dig a couple of them out.  Over he went, probably catching poison ivy in the process, and he returned with one large and one small plant, and we added them to our landscape and watched them wilt.  It was a very hot summer for transplanting, so in a last ditch effort to save them, I pulled them out of the ground, and set them in our waterfall, my journey into the world of hydro gardening.  

Well, both of those dear plants sprouted like mad, and were ready to plant well before the fall.  Here is the one we call "the mother ship,"  because we think it will eventually send out babies from it's long underground root system

As you can see, it is preparing to bloom.  We've never seen exactly what the flowers to this plant look like, as it did not bloom last summer after being planted, and when it was on the back lot, it was too overgrown with other things for us to notice.  
 

 Cute little curly-q's peel away from the edges of the leaves. 
Here's the baby of the mother ship.  It is doing really well and looks like it also may bloom this year.  We are anxiously awaiting the blooms, and I will post pictures when they appear, as I think they are going to be pretty dramatic.  

Now, does anyone out there know what this plant is?  It looks like a succulent, but it is not.  And, it stays green through every moment of our harsh New England winters.  These were under four feet of snow in our yard, and when the snow melted back, they emerged just as green as they were last summer.  

This next item in our yard is one that we treasure, because they are so uncommon in our area and climate. 
The tree with the lovely canopy is a Bing Cherry tree.  We did not discover that until our first summer here, when all of a sudden the birds and our Cassy dog were producing stuff that was a vivid bright red.  Then we found the source of the color all over the ground, cherries, sweet cherries, hundreds of them.  Cassy dog just about ate herself sick, as did the birds in the area.  Some day we may devise a net for under the canopy so that we can enjoy the harvest.  For now, it's all for the birds and Cassy. 

CROSS STITCH

In an earlier post, I shared with you an Abstract X stitch I had completed.  Now, it is framed and on the wall, and here it is:

 I absolutely love it.  After it was framed and I was browsing on the web for my next X stitch project, I came across the fact that this abstract is one of a series of three, and wow would the three of them look great hanging on one of my walls side by side.  Well, that ain't going to happen any time soon.  

Instead of tackling one of the other Abstracts, I've given myself a delightful break, working on some red work Christmas scenes.  
 


 These were just plain fun and relaxing, I could make a million of them.  I think I will dry some balsam and make some fragrant little decorative pillows out of these. 

I never can simply sit and watch TV, my hands need to be busy.  Cross stitch and knitting fulfill that need quite nicely. 

A QUILT FOR DAVE AND REESIE

My husband has a wonderful man chair in our great room, a brown leather recliner.  He often shares it with Reesie Kitten, who likes to lay across the back, right behind Dave's head.  It looked like a good place for a quilt, and so I made one for them.  
This is the Bennington pattern from Schnibbles Times Two.  At the time I was making it, putting those little snowball corners on, I thought "this is going to be such a wonky mess it'll never come together."  

Luckily, I was wrong.   



As my sister mentioned when she made a quilt or two from this book, if you do exactly as directed, especially the direction of the ironing of the seams, it goes together like buttah.  She was absolutely right about that. 


 I think the swirls and ferns complement the quilt perfectly.  David and Reesie are quite happy with it, and so am I. 

Saturday, June 4, 2011

WHERE THE HECK HAVE I BEEN?

That is a very good question to which I have not much of an answer.  Have been dealing with all kinds of stuff, and not a lot of it has to do with my sewing room.  I have managed to finish a lap quilt and a lot of cross stitch, and pictures of those will be here soon.

Today it's a yard work day, not for me, but for Dave, working with Anna's guy Alan, knocking themselves out with 6 yards of mulch.  The yard is simply amazing, with all the weeds pulled and mulch spread.  We've bit by bit been turning our modest little back yard into our own private piece of heaven.  So far, so good, here's some pictures of the results thus far: