Thursday, September 25, 2008

Fifty is Nifty

September twenty-first. I was born on the Autumn Equinox, the imaginary division between summer and fall.

Sunday I turned fifty. As a dear friend said, "Fifty trips around the sun!" I like that.

We had a Birthday party at my house and I was thrilled! The place was packed with 30 of my favorite people in the world, all together in one place. I couldn't stop grinning!

Five perfect 10's make Fifty!

I got to introduce my quilty friend from 15 years ago to my quilty friend from my current mini group.

And I got to introduce my current friend and brother to the my long time friend and brother from 15 years ago. It was such a pleasure to see the continuum of my life and friendships.

The food was great and the champagne flowed. Hey, you don't get to be half -a-century old every day! In the middle of all the noise and celebration my brother called from Washington. "Hey, whaddaya doing?" "Well the house is *full* of people. We're having a party!" "Waytago! We'll talk later... and HAPPY BIRTHDAY!"

Eventually we assembled everyone in the front room and Frank proposed a toast:

"To Leslie on her Fiftieth Birthday. I told her recently that age is just a case of mind over matter. If you don't mind, it doesn't matter!"

People were asked to write down a special memory to share and after the toast my sons took turns reading a few.

The best one was from a friend I've known for 18 years:

"Early on Leslie taught me how to quilt laying down with your hoop in the air, that you can find fabric just about anywhere and how to create love and a happy home out of practically nothing." Everyone in the room seemed to say , "Ahhh..." It was so great!

I'd requested no gifts because I didn't want anyone to feel obligated. But it was great fun to see who ignored that and just *had* to give me something! In every case the gifts were quilt related.

Su gave me my first ever fat quarter stack. Wow! I couldn't believe it. 25 pieces.

Danielle gave me the 2009 Block-a-Day calendar. I love it! I've never had one of these...

A friend of mine was trying to help me to feel okay with turning fifty and said, "Don't worry about it, 50 is the new 30." :cD But I told him I've never been happier! Some people get black streamers and over the hill balloons for their 50th. Not me. I've never understood that. Look how good life is!

After weeks of planning and *dayz* of happy anticipation and preparation it was all over in a few short hours, I couldn't believe how fast it went. The next thing I knew people were saying good bye and I felt like I was in a receiving line in reverse. Good-bye, good-bye. Thank you for coming!

Su told me later, "Whadda party, you were shining like a new, bright penny!" It's the truth. Days later I'm still humming happily. All that love...

~ Thanks just doesn't seem to say it.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Waffle Knit Dishcloth

A summer head cold has settled in and I don't have my usual *zip*. I decided to start a cotton dishcloth from yarn I got off the Freebee table at guild.

I wasn't sure if it was cotton so when I got it home I snipped off two inches and did a 'burn test'. Cotton burns slowly and evenly and leaves a soft gray ash. Polyester or synthetics burn quickly, fizzle and leave a black, crusty residue - like you except from melted glass. It was cotton and I cast on last night.

Good hand work to keep me company between mugs of tea, naps and lemon throat lozenges

Summer Sew Day Part Two

Nathan came the following weekend in order to finish the sea otter wallhanging. At the end of the last sewing session he'd sewn and ripped the two long inner borders five times each in order to get them straight and true. Therefore he had to pick up where he'd left off. I suggested using fabric glue stick to 'baste' the borders in place and ensure they didn't slip while he was sewing.

*Bam* Worked like a dream the first time. Now why didn't I think of that sooner? He mitered the inner borders. We looked in the stash for outside border fabric and found this terrific ocean wave looking print, perfect. He added those borders and mitered the corners. We took a much needed break.

Danielle appears to be completely unsuspecting; this wallhanging is a surprise for her.

We dove in the stash for backing, I pieced a remnant of batting together on the machine. Time and energy were running out so we decided to skip doing an applied binding. Instead we layered it right sides together to stitch and flip; machine quilting it after the edges were finished. By this point Nathan just *wanted it done*! Ever get that feeling as a quilter? I certainly do. Haven't we been working on this thing long enough?! Frank and Danielle were watching a video so I suggested he join them and I'd do the finishing. I machine quilted around the windows and attached a hanging sleeve. I named it "Monterey Memories" and inscribed the date.

When Nathan showed it to Danielle she was tickled. "You did all this work for me? Aww..." Maybe that helped make it worthwhile for Nathan, the joy in the giving.

Just before they left that afternoon Nathan and I had a good conversation about "process versus product". He said having spent all that time on one little wallhanging he realized again it always takes longer than he thinks it's going to, so that's frustrating; that he doesn't really enjoy the process that much and the craft seemed to be mostly about process.

He also said he wasn't very good at the process and didn't know if he liked the whole thing well enough to take the time to get good at it. I thought that was a really good observation... one that would take some time and consideration to understand. How do you know if you're going to like something until you become good enough at it that it's relatively easy - which is where the enjoyment comes in. And in order to get good at it, you have to put a lot of time into getting good at it. I tried to encourage him by saying that he was also learning basic sewing skills while he learned to quilt and that that's as challenging as someone wanting to make miniature quilts without knowing how to make full-sized quilts to begin with. Those that know how to sew bring a whole base of knowledge to the craft. He said he preferred working with wood. "You measure, you cut, it stays put. Fabric is so flexible. It's different every time you pick it up." Yes.. but that's what's beautiful about it, it's forgiving.

I received a really nice e-mail from Danielle later that week saying that they'd bought a dowel to hang it on and it was in her office at work. Her coworkers all thought it was terrific and were really impressed that her BF made it; all and all a sucess story in my book. But it reminded me of quilts I'd wrestled and grappled with and when they were all done it took a long time for the frustrations to fade to where I could look at the quilt with love. Each one is a journey, that is for sure!

New Roof

This is phase two. They’ve been working on it *all* week, scraping with shovels, hammering, staple gunning… the sound of the air compressor for the staple gun going on and off at regular intervals.

It was 110 in the shade yesterday. I think they quit about noon. Sometimes they come back again after sundown – 7:30 or so for another hour.

The first few days the landlord came with his front loader and there was an industrial sized dumpster right outside our front door. I'm glad those are gone, it looked like a war zone. Lila doesn’t know what to do. The noise and confusion have her all wild, indoors or out; she can’t decide. But then that’s not really new. *g*

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Fabric Rug Finish

It's done! It's 27", just because that's where the last color ran out. I'm already thinking about the next one. Maybe I'd like the colors to end in a more random way than this one. This looks too much like a bull's eye.

Lila likes it too.

Summer Sew Day with Nathan

When we were at Back Porch Fabrics Nathan found this fabric.

He came up for a weekend visit and we talked about ways to turn it into a wallhanging. The space between otters allowed for about a 4 inch finished square and that seemed like a pretty small wallhanging. Then I suggested an Attic Windows setting.

I made a window template so we could see what sort of portraits we could cut from the print.

There were really only four different otters but we recut one to include a different layout, then added a sky and water fabric square in the upper corner to finish the layout. Next we auditioned fabrics for the side and bottom window pieces. Then we auditioned fabric for the lattice.

It's amazing how much difference fabric selection makes.
We had lunch, we took breaks, the afternoon wore on. Nathan's sewing skills are improving but there was a lot of frogging that had to be done. I offered to rip so he could move forward sooner, but he said no, it was all part of the process and he should do it.

He has great stick-to-it-tiveness. Sometimes the miter was too high, sometimes it had a pucker. Sometimes the seam allowance on the lattice strip was a nice quarter inch but the fabric underneath had slipped. He tried sewing with pins and without. He tried slowing down the machine. At one point he found his seam was puckering up behind the needle. It turned out the thread coming off the spool had slid into the notch on the plastic and was choking the feed. He hung in there. I told him it was all part of learning to use the tools of the trade and work with the sewing machine.

We quit in the late afternoon when he realized we weren't going to finish the top in one day.
To be continued...

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Back Porch Fabrics

While we were driving around Monterey, Danielle was navigator. With her nifty Palm PC she could call up street maps or information on just about anything. It was great! We 'decided to ask Almighty Google' for quilt shops in the area and found Back Porch Fabrics in Pacific Grove near by. That was a blast!

You probably can't see the book's title unless you click to enlarge, but it says, "Help, I Married a Quilter!"

I had a terrific browse and Frank took photos for me. Then Nathan pulled me over to the shelf of novelty prints and showed me his favorites. The shop carries all sorts of natical and seashore related prints, so he found one he wanted to work with.

Before I came over, he was standing at the cutting table pulling the pins out of the bolt to look at the fabric and the shop assistant asked him if he needed any help. When he said no she added, "I saw you standing there and you looked so natural. I thought, 'I didn't know we'd hired any male staff for the store." It was cute.

Despite all the eye candy I bought a single fat quarter for my pastel Ocean Wave quilt. But it was great to finally see this store I'd heard and read so much about.

Then we trooped over to the town common and found a photo op in the gazebo.

Nathan and I decided to be "Whale Riders" outside the Museum of Natural History. Then it was time to head home. Two days in Monterey was too short. :cD

Monday, September 01, 2008

Monterey Weekend

The heat in the valley'd been three digits for days and we were looking forward to going camping in Monterey that weekend. Frank and I drove to Nathan's Thursday night; the guys packed the car while the women packed the cooler. Friday we left early, headed for a State park campground outside Monterey that was first come first serve. Somehow we missed the commuter traffic through Marin and across the Golden Gate bridge. It was great!

We arrived at 10:30 and had our pick of campsites. The weather was cool and welcome. After we set up camp and lunched we played the tourist along Cannery Row, shops, sea sites and surrey topped bikes for rent. It was fun to be out of the dry glare of 110 degree weather; to smell the ocean breeze and spend time with Nathan and Danielle.

The next morning we packed a lunch and headed to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Frank and I'd been there about 18 years ago with our sons when they were school age. Well in that time the word has gotten out about this place! The line to get in was out the door and around the block. The photos that follow say all the rest...

Kelp bed tank

Moon Jellies


Tropical fish

Kelpy Seahorse

Leopard Shark



We were there for almost five hours plus lunch and snack breaks, there was just sooo much to see and sooo many people. It was amazing. The color, beauty and pecularity of life in the ocean boggles my mind. I wondered how someone could look at all the hundreds of plants, fish, mammals and mollusks and think it all happened without Someone guiding it, Intelligent design.

These images are just a handful of the dozens that DH took; enjoying the world through the prism of a lens. Thank you Frank for capturing the memories.