Friday, October 31

Happy Halloween

Pretty scary, this. I think it's Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. I stole it off someone else's website...I'm bad. Amazing that Hollywood hasn't glommed onto this. 

Are you going out tonight to howwwwwlll? They are having a little shindig at the clubhouse but we don't have costumes...although I offered to paint us up as zombies and we could dress in tattered old clothes that are too big for us (which is everything in our closet), J wasn't interested. I would be willing to bet there is a football game on he wants to see. 

So we'll lock the doors and eat all the candy. Only kidding. We don't get candy and we don't get trick-or-treaters. The fences keep out the kids as well as the coyotes. Supposed to rain tonight. Bummer for the kiddos. Like it hasn't rained in a year, and it rains on Halloween. That's just wrong. But we need the rain so desperately it feels wrong to grumble about it. 

This is pretty intense work.

I had to break for a thread-buying expedition. (Red Rock Threads.) Initially I said I'd just use up what I had, but after I quilted the background you see with yellow thread I realized the folly in that logic. I don't mind the yellow, it's kind of a banana yellow, it's not too awful, but just about anything else would have been better. 

Hey, I played golf this week! I didn't do too terrible, I went with a neighbor-couple and I was real nice so hopefully they'll invite me again. I even got my car washed and picked them up. I'm on the fence about whether to renew my membership with the Ladies Club (which includes my handicap index) or just play now and then. It's such great exercise. So great, in fact, that it took me two days to recover! Man, was I tired! But I hadn't played in like 8 months. 

The course (San Juan Hills) is just okay (I'm so spoiled from the desert), you can see Saddleback Mountain in the distance, and you can see how dry everything is. This is the (dry) creek bed where I presume the coyotes live. I sliced my ball into this creek and I went to fish out another one from my bag, and evidently I must have left a granola bar in there because some little critter chewed a perfectly round hole about the size of a quarter in my bag. I know there are mice around here because the landscapers have set "motels" for them. We live in the wilds, yaknow. 

We had some house snafus this week, Floor Guy finally came to fix the wood floor where the plumbers rolled the cast-iron tub over a large area and left an 8 foot long indentation in the wood. They came to fix it while I was golfing (Jim was here) and I didn't pay any attention. Well of course after they left I saw that they only did about half the job, but you couldn't see it unless you stood in the bedroom and looked the opposite direction toward the kitchen, which of course, was inevitable eventually, so we called them to come back. This time it will involve tearing up the baseboards and carpet because of the location and I'm not sure I want to do that, and the replaced boards never fit the same. It's not that bad, you have to really look, but I know it's there. Floor Guy came back and sanded it a little and I said to leave it and maybe it won't bother me after a while. Like the holes where one of the shades was hung that I demanded be taken back, you'd think I'd take the ten minutes to patch them and paint them, but nooooo. I don't see them anymore. And the chunked-out corner in the hall where the movers tried to fit the hide-a-bed sofa without taking off the feet. I know it's there, but I don't see it. 

The other snafu--you won't believe this--OSHA shut down Landscape Guy because he didn't have Worker Comp insurance for his guys. And I think it's because his workers use the other contractor's porta-potty and he got hacked off and reported our guy to OSHA (the workers talk, they all know each other, they all take lunch at the same time when the roach coach rolls down the street). Well, it's his own damn fault he got caught, but we're the ones hanging with trenches and unfinished thises and thats. Not exactly happy about it but whaddaya gonna do. Work is supposed to resume Monday. 

Well, that's all the news. Stay healthy! 

Sunday, October 19

Falling Leaves

I finished the top and I began to cogitate the quilt design. Something didn’t feel right. The ginkgo leaves looked like they were floating up. Leaves don’t float up. Plus, there was just a little too much “white” space at the top. Not over the moon with this.


So I flipped it upside down.


And I like it better; in person the leaves look like they are coming toward you. I can always change my mind again. The one yellow fabric is a little too bright, it grabs my attention too much. I can change it out, it is possible, but it involves careful surgery with a tiny scalpel to remove the teensy stitches without cutting into the fabric, then making a freezer paper template of the removed piece. Doable, but I think I will just paint it with tea to take the “scream” out of it.

I won’t start the quilting until late next week, we are babysitting our grandchild (age six). The kids are going off to Las Vegas for a solar energy conference.

This weekend we went to Whittier for Jim’s 50th reunion (college). The reunion dinner party was held in the courtyard at the president’s mansion (below). Very nice. The view was incredible, especially if you climbed up to that turret, which I did. In heels.

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We had a great time as always. The young people on campus were so nice. They always spoke to the alums and said things like “welcome back.” After the party we went to a nightclub [of sorts] and the DJ played some sets of music from the 60s in our honor. I had the foresight to bring comfy shoes for the after-party and I danced like a crazy woman. I loved it!

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There will be more pictures to share as people email them to us. I didn’t take my camera. Sometimes I just don’t want the hassle.

I ate some bread at the party. There were what looked like artisan rolls on the table, with pats of butter. I know “eating some bread” is not of vital importance, but in a way it is; I just ate a little of the top crust, and oh was it heavenly. I now know, for certain, having not had any bread (or any wheat) in six months, that it fires up your dopamine receptors—I was happy, happy. Another revelation was that two hours later my chest tightened up and I was wheezing. Of course I didn’t have any asthma meds with me because I’m done with those, so it was a little worrisome for a while, but it cleared up overnight.

I am so glad (thankful) that I finally know wheat’s effect. Even just a little bit will affect me. But sometimes it gets into things you wouldn’t expect—like the beef short ribs I had at Cedar Creek Inn. My body knows it’s there, even if *I* don’t.

On the home front:


Landscaping…I should say the demolition of our lot…is progressing. They are digging many more trenches and taking away the real estate by the truckload. The ground is SO DENSE (this is a good thing—less settling) that they have to use a jackhammer. It’s like concrete. The neighbors must love us. That’s okay, it will be their turn very soon.

We got a hot tub! Woohoo! It’s a small one because there’s no space for anything larger, but it’s just for me anyway. I can’t wait—I love a hot tub and I miss it. The Jacuzzi in the desert was nearly impossible to get out of…I feared for my life sometimes…I could get in but I could not get out without help. Now if that doesn’t make you feel old… “Honeeeee, come get me….”


Annnnd, we bought the barbecue. Bill the landscaper will build a “surround” for it. It’s also small, we don’t need a big one. Not to mention there ain’t much room back there.


Here is one more picture. I honestly could not remember why I took this photo, but…


This is the hill in front of our house. It’s what I see when I look out my studio window. I like the way they landscaped the hillsides…they planted patches of various things, like a patchwork quilt…it will be much prettier when it fills in and after the winter rains. You can see the coyote fence, this runs completely around our development…keeps the riffraff out in addition to the coyotes.

ANYway, the reason I took this photo in the first place is because every afternoon, just around sunset, ravens (crows) fly in a westerly direction from one side of the valley to over that hill you see beyond. I’m not talking 20 birds, I’m not talking 200 birds. I’m talking 2,000 black birds, flying overhead EVERY evening, like they are going home from work or something. It’s the strangest thing. Yes, your eyes are not deceiving you, there are no crows in the picture. They all dropped to the ground to poke around for whatever just as I snapped the photo. But I’ll be ready for them next time.

Sunday, October 12

Around The World Blog Hop

Hi, and welcome! I was invited by Suze (Caracol Creations) to participate in the Around The World Blog Hop. Suze and I go way back to when a group of us did The Artist’s Way several years ago.

First, an apology. I was unable to coerce any artists to participate! I tried, but no one took the bait. Which is such a shame because I know so many uniquely talented artists in my blogosphere! I am truly sorry that you’ve reached a dead end of sorts, but I hope you enjoy visiting my site anyway. So let’s get started.

1. What am I working on?

This. 1-IMG_1393

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Good question. It depends on if you’re talking about making a quilt or making art. Either way, I believe my work is fairly unique. My construction technique is an amalgam of methods I learned from Katie Pasquini-Masopust, Carol Bryer Fallert, and Ruth McDowell.

3. Why do I create what I do?

Now, that is really hard to answer! Why? I’ve been driven to make art my whole life. Why this? I love working with fabric, especially batiks, the wow factor is high, and I enjoy the technique even though it is lengthy and fiddly—it would go a lot faster if I fused but I don’t like the look. Besides, it’s the journey, not the destination. And I have many UFOs to prove it!

4. How does my creating process work?

Let’s assume we’re not talking about the process of actually making the quilt but the “thinking it up” part. I have an “inspiration box” that is full of clippings of various print media I’ve collected over the years. I also have an extensive collection of digital photographs from my travels that cry out to be translated to fabric. When it’s time to start a quilt I lock myself in my studio with my “visual aids” until I get a spark—and it could be culled from multiple sources—then I sleep on it and let The Universe help distill the idea.

Sometimes I dust my house or organize a cabinet, as a type of meditation. I have found that the sacred art of space clearing is invaluable for stimulating creativity. You don’t just sort your fabrics to get it done, you sort your fabrics to sort your fabrics. It’s called “mindfulness,” and it really works! And there is no shortage of dust or chaos around here, believe me! I have a huge pile of batiks that need to be folded, sorted, and put away right now.


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Thanks for inviting me, Suze. It was fun!

Tuesday, October 7

Hey Lady!


We thinks you gots some serious mole problems here! 1-IMG_1379

Har har. It’s just the landscapers. They’ve been doing this for three days. I keep thinking it’s a good thing we don’t have a dog.


Speaking of dogs, the coyotes were yapping up a storm [again] last night and I was afraid they’d come in the back yard if the workers had left the gate open, but then I realized they’d probably fall in the trenches. That’s why we have such high, prison-like fences. We’re coyote-proof.

I have come to the conclusion why rabbits and rodents are so prolific. They’re low on the food chain. We also have hawks screeching and owls hooting, and they need to eat, too.

Well now, *this* was fiddly! I need to figure out a better way to do this. Anyway, after much sussing and swearing, I got the border sewn on. Lining it up was a bitch! 1-IMG_1381

These are the best two of four corners.


The rest aren’t so good. You can see the bottom right corner in the photo below is like a half-inch off. Screw it!1-IMG_1384

Next to go down are the leaves. Actually the piecing goes pretty easy, it’s assembly-line stuff. But I did NOT say it wasn’t fiddly! It is. Plus, aligning the seams causes me grief. So I asked myself, Do I care? No. Good. 1-IMG_1385

My craft iron died on me (it too spent four years in the desert…the white plastic is now yellow) so I’m using the good one. I’ll have to get a new iron before I ruin this one…but I think I already did. I have some iron cleaner-stuff, it works pretty good. If it hasn’t dried up like everything else.

Saturday, October 4

Groundbreaking News

Literally! We broke ground today on our landscaping. Finally! The ground is clay, and hard like concrete, so they use a jackhammer to break it up. Even weeds won’t take root in this cement-stuff. What they are in doing in this picture is digging a trench. The trench will hold pipe for sprinklers, electric, and gas. For the barbecue. And the hot tub. Yeah!


Inside, I have been shoulder to the grindstone on this project. I got the entire background pieced and placed. I have realized I neglected to draw the inner border line before I cut up the paper templates, so I am essentially working without a net with regards to where the edge should be. I’m not surprised I’d forget something important, because it has been a while since I did this technique.

Update: I fixed it. I think.


Here’s a scene from our little party the other night. Everyone had a real nice time. Good fun. Happy people. Nice neighbors. IMG_1348

Our little community had a harvest festival and it was real sweet. They had a live band and free food (fire-grilled sweet potato slices with chipotle, and coconut shrimp with red pepper glaze). The kids got to decorate pumpkins and play toss games, and eat apple slices with caramel sauce. It was hotter’n blazes, but we all had a good time.


Then we came back to the house and played games and watched USC lose to Arizona State. It was so nice to hang out with family and just be. Dinner was pork tenderloin with cranberry-onion glaze, acorn squash, and salad with walnuts, roasted beets, and goat cheese. We scarfed it all up.

Wednesday, October 1

It’s October! Already?

Progress report: I did end up removing the sky blues, and I also removed the purples from the blue side of the spectrum and replaced them with more russets and maroons. I took this picture so I could see them side by side (before and after) and I liked this better—I think it’s warmer. It’s going to hang in our living room (if I like it) and we don’t have any blue in there. Whatsoever. Nada.


So here’s where I am today. This only looks complicated. It’s not. Each piece is numbered and has an arrow pointing north so I can tell which way is up, and there are many hash-marks to assist in alignment. That paper I’m laying the pieces on is sticky so I can iron everything down before I sew it together. Meanwhile pins hold things in place. The towel acts as an ironing pad and pincushion.


I sewed some of the pieces together at the bottom, my method has always been to piece the whole background and then attach the border in strips—you can see a border strip on the design wall. Well, getting those suckers to line up perfectly is a real booger. This time I’m going to attach a border piece to each edge piece. I think it will be better. We’ll see.

In other news, we’re having a party! Just a little one, but it’s our first party in the new house. We’re excited.

We invited some neighbors over for some of J’s good vintage wines. We got to talking at last week’s happy hour about “what are we saving it for?” The milestone birthdays and anniversaries have all passed, there will be no more weddings—I don’t think—and there will be no more grandchildren. Those events call for champagne anyway. Many of these wines are ten years old and J is worried they may have gone bad (that would be tragic). Like I said, what are we waiting for?


We’re only serving cheese, nuts, and dark chocolate, all things that pair well with red wine. Nothing fancy, just laughter and fun times—like a happy hour. Maybe we’ll all go out to dinner afterward. Who knows?

This is such an easy do! Simple, simple! I think we’ll do this with more neighbors in the future. So we can drink more of J’s wine. And to make room for more, right?