Sunday, February 24, 2013


Today was a gorgeous day.  When looking up that is.  The sky was bluer than blue, the birds sang, crows were loudly busy, and hawks wheeled spectacularly overhead.

Looking down however, was all about dirt.  It rained most of yesterday and all the night before.  Our yard is a few inches of dirt sitting on clay.  Wet clay.  Red clay.  Brown clay.  Slimy clay.  (Heh.  Dr. Seuss I am not.)  Tempting-to-dogs clay.  Dig-down-a-little-and-you've-created-a-stagnant-pond clay.   I-see-years-of-dirt-improvement-ahead-of-us clay.

Be that as it may, it was too nice to not work outdoors.  The project of the day was finishing the composter bins.  We moved it into position and finished stapling on the chicken wire.  I even got to put stuff in it.  Woot!

It's waaaay over there across the slime dirt.  I'm fine with the location, I just know myself though.  I won't bother to take the kitchen compost out there if I have to dig out the gumboots every time!  (We won't even think about the long mosquito season.)

So to help solve that issue we built a "path."  Not even, not pretty, but it will get the job done for now.

We put down the round stones for walking on and shifted some of the crazy paving stones to at least cover up some of the mud.

We had to pry up stone from wherever in the yard we could find it!

The pathway is still a few feet short but I'm going to live with it as it was too exhausting by this hour to even think about going around the corner to buy a few more and haul them home.

I may have to fix the wobbliest blocks so I don't break an ankle but we didn't want to put too much effort in something that's supposed to be temporary.

We've been feeding the barrel composter for a year and it was too heavy for me to turn it anymore.  So that "compost" is now the base material in the new composter and we need to find a better place to put it than against the fence there.  It took some time to figure out what to put in it besides kitchen scraps to actually create compost rather than slime.  Nasty, nasty, nasty!  And I won't fill it up too full again either!  Behind the fence you can see green tarps covering the rear neighbor's very neat but massive wood pile.  He has spent most of the past two months out there with chainsaw and log splitter and must be hugely pleased to have the job done.   I'm pleased the bright blue tarps have been replaced by dark green ones.  Of course everything will be springing green again soon and we have hopes for some plantings along the fence on our side.   Our mud pit can't be very scenic from their side either!

The dogs, thank goodness, mostly lounged on the deck out of the mud.  They do like to dig in the dirt/clay and make small ponds.  I guess it isn't so much fun when their people are around watching.  :-)

Even so, the feet are always dirty.  And this is after the wipe-down with a "dog" towel.  My vacuum cleaners (six!) are very precious to me.  Sigh.

The Tramp has taken his achy body to bed early.  I got some more done on the bag.  A bit of glue, some flowers and a few crystals.  I'd change some things if I could but this is a use-what's-available project.

While the glue was drying I pulled out my little houses.  I haven't touched them for so long!  I cut some more house pieces and watched a weird movie while ripping out foundation papers.  Now there are new grandchildren and the others are growing so fast I need to print out more photos for the little windows.  Now if I could just get my children to send me photos directly rather than my having to mine for them on Facebook.  Sheesh!

Tomorrow I've got two t-shirt quilts to finish and two churn dash memory quilts to start.  I think I've got some major cleaning up to do in the morning before I can start!  Just another form of "dirt."  (to say nothing of the usual vacuuming!)  :-)

Friday, February 22, 2013

Play date

Today I had a mental health day play date with Kathie.  She took a day off of work and I put the t-shirt quilts aside and we just had fun.  Kathie brought a whole bin of her beautiful hand dyed fabrics up to The Sandbox and we scrounged around through my drawers and cabinets to get ready for our project.  Kathie proposed we make embellished bags.  (Dummy me didn't take a single picture while she was here, but she's promised to write a weblog post soon.)  We also went out for a shrimp taco lunch (to die for) and a bit of retail therapy at Cary Quilting Company.  Always a good idea!

I decided to go through my binder of bag patterns looking for a particular one.  Could I find it?  No!  Arrrgghhh. Years ago Mom, or Mom and I, took a class (I really don't remember) for making this kind of "envelope/origami" purse.  I had a hand written pattern/instructions, possibly in my own handwriting, and I also had a commercial pattern for the same thing.  I made a few of them back in the day too.  (Couldn't find those either.  Sigh.)  This pretty black one with the silk ribbon embroidery was a gift from Mom which I believe I've used as an evening bag several times.  (I suspect the tissues left in the pockets are a clue.  Heh.) You can see the envelope shaping and it has a nice silky lining.

I spent a good deal of the morning searching online for a pattern or tutorial and came up with a good one by Janet.  I've made her soft drawstring version before too.  In fact I now remember I made a whole bunch of them for the church drama group years ago.  (I think it was the church. (?)  And for what play I can't even imagine now.)  Anyway, I wanted to make the flat version like the black purse.  Kathie gifted me with a yard of her yummy fabric.  This side came out more orangey.

I've chosen to embellish the pinker side.  (Surprise, surprise.  lol)  I dug out a big box of old "silk" floral stuff and we had fun ripping some of the flowers apart.  These are pinned and waiting for the glue to dry.

Several years ago at the NC Quilt Symposium in Raleigh I took a face drawing/painting class with the wonderful Patti Medaris Culea.  While digging for treasure this morning I found the box with the practice faces I colored in her class.  Yay!  This one is perfect!  Well not perfect.....but perfect for the purpose.  I've glued flower petals around her face to cover some of the imperfections.  :-)  I had also unearthed my Flower Faces pattern by Barbara Owen which is what sparked me to dig out the flowers in the first place.  Serendipity at work.  (Because the brain sure wasn't working.  Sheesh.)

And tomorrow I'll see about attaching her to the bag.  Kinda cute.....maybe?

I'm a slow starter but now I'm excited about adding more flowers and some beads, and then looking for the perfect cording as a handle.  Over the top I go!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013


Do things really come in threes?  I'm never sure if I should put any credence in that notion.  Even so, it is kind of a relief when the "third thing happens" and gives some closure.  With that firmly in mind I have had three somewhat expensive items needing repair recently.  Sigh.

Way back in November the dishwasher broke down.  After the initial diagnosis it took three more visits to put it right.  It chose to break down just prior to each of three holiday weekends with house guests coming.  The initial breakdown took place a day or so before Thanksgiving weekend, at which we had six staying guests plus two more for a couple of large holiday meals.  After about two weeks the dishwasher finally received a new pump.  The second time it broke down was a couple of days before Christmas....more house guests and big meals.  The third time was last week right before our house guests showed up for President's Day weekend.  Just like kids and dogs.  Only on holidays and weekends.  Sheesh!

Next was the car.  Red has had a transmission transplant.  'Nuff said.

Third was a garage door.  Pay attention now.  Listen to me.  Go out and look at your garage door springs.  If your house is old enough (ours is 26 years) there will most likely not be safety cables inside the springs, something that is now required (in North Carolina anyway).  I was standing in the garage by the kitchen door one day last week when one of the big door springs snapped.  What a crashing and banging!  Lucky for me it snapped at the end over my head and shot away from me, hitting the front wall of the garage.  I was pretty shaken at the time but the next day the repair person really freaked me out when he told us he's seen them go through cars and even through walls into the house.  YIKES!  Needless to say both doors are now up to code and I'm not afraid to go out into the garage anymore.

On to the fun stuff.  Good threes.  :-)  We had three visitors this weekend.  The Sailor Son with Five and Batman.  I wanted to take new photos of their smiling faces for the side bar.  For some reason it's harder to get a natural smile out of them these days.  Aren't they a hoot!

Batman arrived wearing one glove, a la Michael Jackson.  According to their father there is a serious glove fetish going on at the moment.  Since they kept trying to take my gloves we made a quick stop at Five Below for gloves of their own.  These were two layers, fingerless gloves over fingered ones.  They were soooo happy.  Makes it very hard to play with one's Lego, though they tried.

And there was lots of Lego-ing.  Three Lego creations.  Batman's castle...

and my "vehicle."  Five didn't allow me to take a picture of his.

Despite the weather....yes it snowed!....

we ventured out to three shows at the State Fairgrounds.  First was the car show.  Big crowds even with the weather.  Almost never have I seen more excitement!  It's a whole different experience with a four and a five year old.  We did "webs" with Spiderman.  (Cell phone pics.  I forgot my camera darn it.)

While the boys kept my head spinning, The Tramp and the Sailor Son mostly tested out the pickup trucks.  You can see he is surprised the little Fiat Bambina seems to be a viable commuter car.  Though when The Tramp jacked the seat up to the highest position he could have literally driven with his head out the sun roof.  I missed that Kodak moment.  Darn!

The little boys "drove" as many cars as they could get a turn in.  Every steering wheel was turned, every button pushed, every lever tested and when you are small your feet are always on the seats.  After four days of excited say nothing of the adults, some of these cars must need a quite an overhaul to be sale-able again.

When we weren't running from car to car we were....well....running!

The Geico gecko was exciting too.  Note they are each wearing one of my gloves.  :-)

Especially the giant one.  :-)

The second show was the classic car show.  Much more interesting to The Tramp and I than the younger set.

The third show of the weekend was the train show.  There were tables and tables of stuff for serious railroad modelers which Dad really enjoyed.  The boys and I contentedly watched the garden railroads go round and round.

We also went to visit Nanny and Papa and had a great time "writing receipts" for them.  There was also a serious game of detective.  Nanny told them she needed 18 green beads for her latest project and the 18th bead was missing.  They searched every inch of the apartment with a flashlight for "18 green"  and only gave up when they found two white beads we had quickly planted when they were searching one of the bathrooms.  Great fun for all of us!

I know this has gotten pretty long but one more thing to share.  We have a ghost car!  Four dry spots on the wet driveway.  We had a ghost car in New Jersey too.  (this link)  I wonder if it's the same ghost?

Today was an absolutely gorgeous day.  T-shirt quilts will be going out the door tomorrow!