Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Winter then fall



Anyone who knows me knows that I love fall.  I love the colors of autumn, I love the cooler temperatures - fall is perfect for me as it is for a lot of people.  Yesterday we had snow. Not much snow  - just enough that you could see it falling.  This isn't early for snow - I remember several years ago, I think it was 2010 or 11, that on October 12th, we had enough snow that it covered the ground.  But yesterday the air smelled like snow - that styrofoamy scent that reminds me of the little church my uncle would put in the front yard of his funeral home/house every Christmas, but also of snow in general.  Yesterday was clearly winter.  This morning was chilly and I had to let the car warm up a bit before my daughter and I set off for campus.  But it was sunny and happy outside!  By late afternoon, it was warm enough that I unzipped my mid-weight coat.

So today was a special treat - I'm just simple like that.  I am choosing to be happy in hopes that it rubs off on someone else.  Maybe it will have a snowball effect - kind of like that old shampoo commercial - I'm nice to someone, and they are nice to someone and so on and so on and so on.  Maybe if we all did that, if we all looked beyond ourselves, maybe we could have an impact on this crazy old world because nothing else seems to be working.

Decide to have a happy day and share it with someone else.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Monday morning


Mondays have a bad reputation and to be honest when there is a chill in the air, I find it hard to crawl out from under the covers to start the day.  But I don't mind Mondays - in fact, I kind of like them. I'm not the most disciplined person in the world and having to get up and go somewhere works for me. I think if today was forecast to be rainy and cool, I would be a little less enthused to get up and at 'em. 

But it is 6 am, I've been up for an hour and a half, the chicken is waiting to be let out of her coop, the cats are waiting for 2nd breakfast, the goats are waiting for something - I don't know what - and the ducks are waiting for their morning snack of dog food.

It is going to be a beautiful, happy day!

Monday, October 9, 2017

Last of the tomatoes


 These are the last two tomatoes picked from my garden.  I'm hoping they turn red but if not, I will certainly enjoy them fried and green.  Tomatoes are one of those things you just can't cheat on.  The only good tomatoes are those picked out of yours or someone else's garden.  I love those days when I walk into the break room at all to find that someone has brought in their excess tomatoes or zucchinis or squash to share.  The tomatoes you get in the grocery store at every time other than tomato growing season, just don't come close to the real thing.  Which makes me enjoy them even more during the season.

This summer I've made tomato pie, fried green tomatoes, tomato sandwiches, and tomatoes whole - just out of my hand! That's one thing nice about seasons.  The lack of something - whether it is a fresh tomato or snow or colorful leaves - just makes us appreciate it even more. 

After many, many years of trying, my first good biscuits!
When I look out my kitchen window and see our little church, I think about the seasons of my kids.  I think about how much time they spent in that church with people who loved, people who taught them things that I never could.  I wish that my older kids could have grown up here - I think they really missed out by not growing up in a country church or really, any church at all.

I think about our congregation about how I'm one of the younger members and there aren't many people there younger than me.  About 80% of our congregation is in their 60s and above.  I really dread the day that I look out my kitchen window and don't see cars in the parking lot and beloved church members walking through those red doors. 


Thursday, October 5, 2017

Return to summer


 According to our weather person, we are in store for a short return to summer. Blah. I want fall to stay.  I can't express how nice it is to not sweat a river walking to work or not being a sticky mess by the end of the day simply from existing.  I love fall - not only because of the colors, the coolness, the return to soups, and the wearing of sweatshirts - but because to me, it signals the start of the new year. More so than January 1st.  I would imagine this is true of anyone who has ever had kids. But the falling of leaves, the freezing of the earth makes me think of a colossal cleanse that will set the stage for spring and flowers and sunshine and heat to start all over again.  This time of year is perfect for me.  I am tired.  I am always tired this time of year and I'm ready to rest.  It's a good thing that it is dark when I get home from work.  It's a signal that after the chickens and goats are tended to, it is time for me to go back into the house and just rest.  That time of day - the gloaming - is perfect for reading or for grabbing a quilt in the hoop and spending time handquilting which is something that it is simply too hot to do other times of the year.   
 So I don't want to return to summer just yet. Ask me again in about six months and I'm sure my answer will be different and I will be begging not to see winter again for a while. 

Thursday


I'm finally finishing up some projects hat have been sitting around.  The wallhanging above is one that I put off because I'm more of a quilter than I am a embroiderer.  I must say though, that I completely enjoyed embroidering this one.  I'm very happy with how it turned out.  I bought the pattern and fabric about 4 years ago because loving Halloween as much as I do, it really caught my eye. 
The wallhanging on the right "Falling Leaves', is a wallhanging pattern that I found in a magazine and loved.  It is somewhat of a rarity because I found the pattern, cut the fabric, and made it to completion. All within 6 weeks.

I have 1 quilt that has been 'in progress' for about 3 years and I will begin on that very soon.  It is a paper-pieced Storm at Sea and I honestly think I need my head examined for doing a pp'ed quilt of that size.  She doesn't know it yet but I think I will bribe my mom into helping me remove the papers one weekend. 
It's really a great feeling to finish up these projects. It makes me feel less guilty about starting a new project!  I also need to finish about 8 baby quilts.  I just found out that 1 of these babies for whom I was making an I Spy quilt just started kindergarten.  But even at that age, I think he will like an I Spy quilt.  Who wouldn't?

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Hooked

My wicked witch weathervane

 I never could understand how someone could spend an entire day 'binge-watching' something on Netflix.  But then until a week ago our internet service was as slow as dial-up and it was impossible to watch anything on Netflix or Amazon or, well, anything!

Today I've been watching episodes of This is Us - a drama with one of my favorite actors Milo Ventimiglia. Unfortunately I've only managed to watch about 7 episodes because I have a hard time sitting still for so long and I have a tendency to nod off during television shows.

But I did manage to get a little handsewing done and I got the bobbin unit off of my little sewing machine that was given to me.  I'm hoping to get it cleaned up this week and then use it to work on my Gypsy Wife Quilt and hopefully finishing up my daughter's Storm at Sea quilt.  I will never again do a full-sized paperpieced quilt. Never. Ever.
My Alletaire is in the hoop and waiting for cold weather.
 I'm wondering how I will manage to get all of the episodes watched, the binding on my wallhanging, my pumpkin embroidered by Tuesday evening when the new season starts.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Fall


This is my favorite time of year!  Even though today was super hot, it was absolutely gorgeous!  I am nearly finished with my fall wallhanging - I just need to handsew the binding.

A friend of mine gave me this little sewing machine - a Jolson - which seems to be from around 1949.  It is very similar to the Singers at that time.  I need to do a little research on it but it was amazing how much information the folks from my vintage sewing machine group could provide - almost as soon as I posted the picture!

It's amazing how different something looks from far away.  This wallhanging for instance, looks entirely different up close.  Looking at it from an arm's length, it seems to be a jumble of autumny fabric.  But from a distance, it looks exactly as I hoped it would.

I'm hoping to get the binding done tomorrow, my Halloween quilt blocks done, and get nearly finished with the Storm at Sea that I'm sewing for my daughter.

But tomorrow is supposed to be sunny and warm again and our home has no air conditioning.  I may very well be sitting in front of a fan reading a book all day!

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Years

I can remember a long, long time ago when my uncle was out of work. I can't remember whether it was that the business downsized or closed - something like that.  But I can remember him saying how recruiters would call him about jobs and he would tell them from the start that he was 63 years old.  They would politely thank him and say goodbye.  I can remember wondering how could that be? What difference does one's age make? Thinking about it made me angry then and it makes me angry now.

Sour grapes? Maybe. After years of being in the same position, I decided I would like to take on new challenges. So I applied for 3 positions and was called in for interviews for each of them.  In a University of this size, even being called for an interview is an honor.  However, each of the jobs went to someone else.  Granted, I knew I wasn't the perfect candidate but I do believe that my age likely had something to do with not being selected.

So why is discrimination on many grounds not tolerated but yet age is one of those things that are accepted as appropriate grounds for discrimination? It is hard to prove especially when there are so many variables in the hiring process.  But I see age discrimination in so many other ways - from not being included in activities that are more geared to a younger group to being asked how long until you retire to the comment from a cashier that 'wow, you've must have worked here a long time'. This doesn't even include the jokes that I hear on a daily basis - all alluding to the fact that my best years are behind me (they aren't) and that I am biding my time til that magical day on which I can retire. The real joke is that I absolutely love the work I do and I have no intention of retiring anytime soon if at all.
The Old Goat

I'm many other things than old.  I am white, a woman, a mother, a quilter, a reader, a baker, a Christian. If my job hung in the balance due to any one of these traits, I would have grounds for a complaint. But my age? Not so much. So maybe I'll just shut up and be happy with my current position - after all, I do love my job and my co-workers so much that it's not even a given that I would accept a different position if asked.

I'm sure that my age has nothing to do with it. That would be silly. No one discriminates on age any more. Never.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Dogs and cats.

Every once in a while I write about my orange cat Sox: Sox the upstairs cat, Sox the bathroom cat, and now, Sox the outdoors cat.  A few weeks ago Sox bolted out the back door when I was busy feeding the cats on the back porch.  Aside from his great adventure 10+ years ago when he stayed outside for 3 days, Sox has had absolutely no interest in the great outdoors.  Until just a month or so ago.

Sox is very, very, very old and I assumed that he ran outside (as cats do) to die.  I expected this and felt sad about it but that is what I've known cats to do when the time is right.  I was thinking about burning some sage in his honor and never got around to doing so.

So imagine my surprise one day when I was sewing, I looked outside and saw an orange cat drinking out of the goats' water bowl.  It was either Sox' ghost or Sox hadn't died.

Sox was alive.

It is odd. He wants to be fed out by the goats. He won't come to me, he won't come back in the house or even to back deck.  Odder still, he really likes Casper the boxer.  He sashays up to Casper and rubs and purrs and hangs all over him.  He always hated Casper. In fact, if it even sounded as if Casper was walking into the kitchen, Sox would retreat into the bathroom as quick as a wink.

Weird things these cats are. 

Monday, August 28, 2017

Chill in the air.

Alletaire - designed by Bonnie Hunter
I love this weather - it is sunny, a bit breezy, and cool enough to wear a sweatshirt. I l-o-v-e sweatshirts.  I remember a tie-dyed white/blue sweatshirt I got for my birthday when I was 12 or 13, I think. It was so soft inside and I felt so warm and protected in it.  I wanted it to always be that fluffy and soft on the inside.  Of course after a while, it piled and flattened like all sweatshirts do, but I loved it still. After all, sweatshirts age just like everything else.  I had another sweatshirt - I can't remember if it was before or after - but it was fern green.  I remember it because I hand-embroidered my name on it. I don't know if I knew at that early age that I would never have a varsity jacket with my name stitched in gold on it or if I just wanted to make sure that my brothers didn't steal it but I loved that one nearly as much as my tie-dyed sweatshirt.  And they were sweatshirts - NOT hoodies.  And they zipped up the front, I didn't wear pullovers.  It is funny but I think of those sweatshirts often. They remind me of happier times and of fall and of campfires, hot dogs, leaves, pumpkins, and ghosts.  I always feel better when I'm wearing a sweatshirt but these days, my favorite is a grey pullover. It is huge and warm and thick. It feels like an armor for some reason and I always feel protected in it.

Odd, isn't it? How simple fabric can provide such comfort. I guess that is why I quilt.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Music and fairs and the end of summer.

This photo makes my back yard look like a fairy-land. Anyone who has ever met me knows that is definitely not the case. But still I love this photograph.

This week has been the county fair and I've been to it all but one day. I will be there tonight and tomorrow too.  I'm not ashamed at all.  I entered a wallhanging and a quilt and won 4th place for both! There were some very, very beautiful quilts entered.

I love the fair, some of my fondest, early memories are of the Crawford County fair.  I can still remember that my mom loved the egg rolls and the fudge. Just yesterday I was talking to her and we both could remember the locations of the pie stand even though neither of us had been there in years!  Well, to be honest, I was there only 5 years ago and it was just as I remembered. It was like stepping back in time.

I remember these clear balloons that had a pastel colored bunny balloon inside - I loved those.  I remember my dad taking me on a pony ride and the pony started bucking.  I remember cotton candy (which I hate), I remember the smell of the cow barns (which I love), I remember the 4-H milkshake stand and so many other things. 

So as I am listening to music from the 70's and thinking of my childhood in the 70's, I can't help but feel happy. I was so lucky to have the childhood I had. I can remember the end of August back when I was still in school - the bittersweetness of Labor Day which brought the beginning of my favorite season but also brought an end to the carefree summer days.  I do mean truly carefree - my mom didn't work during the summers so I never needed to go to daycare or have a babysitter.  I could sleep in a bit and didn't need to keep to a schedule.  We had a local summer playground program and all of the kids in town would go to the playground weekday afternoons and participate in games and activities and have snacks.  Our parents didn't drive us, we rode our bikes. It was a different time.


Monday, August 21, 2017

Back from the beach

What a week!  My mom, daughters, and I went to the beach for 4 days last week.  This year we decided to drive straight through to our destination instead of staying at a motel.  It was a tough 11 hour drive but so much better than having to unpack for an overnight stay only to repack and head off again.  It was so nice to have that quiet time with my mother and daughters. We never have that opportunity to just be ourselves and laugh and tell stories and just enjoy being in each other's company.  We spend time in the ocean and on the porch of the beachhouse just soaking in the sounds and smells of the sea.  As always, it was really difficult to have to bring a close to such a perfect week.

I also took my youngest son for move-in weekend of the school he will be attending for the next 4 years.  That was tough.  I'm so proud of him - it would have been so easy for him to decide not to go. He has a ton of skills in machining and had several places offer a job.  I knew it was going to be hard to leave him but I so hate that feeling that my heart has been ripped out.  I now have no babies at home.  In a few days, I won't miss him quite so much and I'll be able to focus more on the fact that he is where he needs to be - that I've done my job - after all, I've been through this 4 times before.  I'm so thankful that this will be a really busy week at work so I won't have time to stew.

I had a lot of plans to sew today but I prefer to hang out with my daughter before she needs to go back to college tomorrow. My other daughter who is in college will be returning from a trip to the beach and will leave for school next Sunday.  So all five of my kids will be away from home and I'll have to figure out what to do and then actually do it.  Maybe tomorrow I should actually start on that quilt!

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Mid-summer


This is the duck that we nursed back to health. She is now back and part of a pack of three.  At the first crack of dawn, she and her duck buddies congregate in front of the porch and quack loudly until a toss some dog food out to them.  I love watching them waddle over to the side yard to eat their breakfast.  From there, they go out on the front road.  I know this because as I'm getting my lunch ready for work - a neighbor honks their horn at them.  After they get chased off the road, they waddle out back to hang out with the goats, cats, chickens, and pony.  
 It has been beautiful in central PA. We had a few days of unbearable, sticky heat but it has been rather tolerable lately.  As much as I complain about the heat, I do love that between the rain and the hot weather, my garden is growing like crazy!  I didn't plan nearly as much as usual because it is always heartbreaking when my garden doesn't produce as I expect (which it never does).  I have 3 tomato plants with lots of tomatoes - they should be ripe in another couple weeks, I've had a good bit of lettuce, peas, and am currently picking yellow squash.  My pumpkin vines are looking good - hopefully I'll have some baby pumpkins before long.


Saturday, July 8, 2017

Sweat Things

I started a new blog thinking it would be easier for me to add photos.  Nope.  So Ill keep with this one.  It has been nearly 10 years in the making.  Another blogger who I really enjoy reading mentioned that she is counting down to fall.  I understand completely.  Last night I baked a cake and the sweat was just pouring off me.  I hate that.  I hate that more than freezing in the winter.  I hate it more than having to go outside at 3:00 am to throw wood in the wood stove.  But I guess if I didn't have the sweaty days of summer, I wouldn't enjoy fall and winter nearly as much.  And yes, I complain about winter but only about having to wear a winter jacket.  So its the jacket that bothers me NOT the weather.

I had a horrible dream last night.  As I've written about several times, I am trying very hard to embrace the notion of my soon to be empty nest.  In a month and 4 days, my youngest will go off to college.  He's my buddy, my toilet plunger, my start-the-wood stove-back-up guy, my go-to if the goats get out or the fence needs fixed.  That's just the stuff he does around the house.  He's just a fun kid to have around and I realize that it is going to be quite an adjustment for me - not only learning how to function without someone else to care for but how to occupy my time when I dont' need to rush home to fix dinner to take someone somewhere.  Just like when my oldest son left home, I'll get through it alright.  I'll miss him like hell but it is how life works.  I guess maybe I've been kind of successful as a parent.  My horrible dream was that i was at Walmart looking for sweatpants for my family and I realized that I didn't have family at home for whom to buy sweatpants. I remember looking at the 2T sizes and sobbing because I had no more babies at home. It doesn't sound like such a terrible dream but it left me with such a soul breaking sadness when I woke up.

Anyhow, back to sweating...........Mr. Weatherman says that the temperature is to get down to 55 degrees tonight. The dogs and I can't wait - for a bunch of little dogs who love to burrow under blankets, they are definitely not loving the heat.

So maybe I should get up and accomplish something today.  Like basting a quilt so that I can actually start handquilting it.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Kindness

Am I a ghost?  Over the past several months I've been thinking about my place in this world. I've questioned that many times over the years - what is my place, do I even deserve a place.  One thing about working at a large University is that one is constantly surrounded by so many people doing grandiose things for humanity. Everywhere I look, there is someone better, someone smarter, someone who reads more, someone who is more in tune with the struggles of the world. Then I look at myself and think 'wow, I've babied a duck who was hit by a car'.  Ugh.

I really do want to help......everyone!  I want to help people who are abused and unwanted and discriminated against. I want to help everyone who has been negatively affected by the political debacle. I want to do so much but really? Some days it is all I can do to get out of bed. Some days it is all I can do to leave my office and go home. But what I can do on my good days is to smile and be kind to everyone I meet regardless of who they are.  Maybe sharing some simple kindness is all that humanity needs - regardless of who they are.  I'm thinking that may be some orange-skinned, crazy-hair old man wouldn't be so hateful if a few people had been kinder to him when he was a boy.

I know how I feel when I try to be friendly and am ignored. I remind myself that I don't want to be someone who makes other people feel unworthy and invisible. A smile may not cure all the world's problems but it's a start.  And that duck? I think I've mattered to her. She's walking again. 

Monday, May 1, 2017

Scraps.

Scrap quilts are my favorite type of quilt. I love how something beautiful and useful can be made of bits and pieces of discarded items - things that have been tossed out because they are seemingly ugly, past their prime, no longer needed.  These old bits can be sewn together into a quilt that is new.  I wish the same could be said of people. I see hints of this everywhere I look and I am as guilty as anyone else in not appreciating what I had when I had it.

So if you took a whole bunch of old people with all of that life experience and put them together - would it make something beautiful? If they were all identical to each other, that could be a problem. But people - regardless of their age - are different. We may all have been impacted by the same historical events, have grown up in the same eras with similar family types, socioeconomic status but our reaction to those events are very, very different. And I guess when our reactions clash, it's much too easy to argue, ignore, hate, or hurt.  It's amazing to me what can spark such great hate: religion, money, power, generational differences.  Honestly? It makes my heart hurt.  If you try to help one cause, you are ignoring something else. So I guess I'll stick with my fabric scraps. The greens and purples play together quite nicely.  Blues and oranges? Ok!  And I can put together all these supposedly unrelated bits together and give them to someone else who can enjoy the whole.

Winter then fall

Anyone who knows me knows that I love fall.  I love the colors of autumn, I love the cooler temperatures - fall is perfect for me as...