Sunday, January 31

Weekly/Monthly Wrap-up (Around Here)

After I finished the elephant I started right in on the next project. But selecting fabrics was as far as I got. A neighbor-friend of mine told me about a workshop that her guild is putting on and she invited me to attend. This is great because I don’t currently belong to a quilt guild so I miss out. I would gladly join but it meets at night and I hate to drive at night.


What I’m planning is a tripych of undersea panels for the niche in the bathroom, with the darkest blues at the bottom, fading up to the lightest blues at the top. In the class, I’m going to learn (presumably) a “revolutionary” new way to appli-piece a top without folding or gluing—she has some product that lets you do free-edge without the edges fraying and its not a fusible, and it’s not stiff. Well, that would certainly be nice, if it’s for real. Anyway, I put the underwater project on hold until I take the class.

I started playing golf again with the Wednesday group. I haven’t played with them since October! We play on big, championship-size golf courses instead of the executive course that I play with the Monday group. CHALLENGING! But it was a beautiful day and I had a great time. I lost four [brand new] balls.


#11, Tijeras Creek

Ah, but the weather has turned ugly. Today the PGA Tour is playing at Torrey Pines, which is about an hour south of here, so it gives you an idea what the weather is like here. It’s tough to play in that, even with weatherproof clothing. The wind is really nasty today.



What else is new around here? Well, we still have not gotten our out-of-shape house straightened, but they assure us that we’ll be right as rain when they get it done. But first they have to get around to doing it.

Outside on our front porch, this had us freaked out for a while. Termites? Bug infestation? We cleaned it up and the next day it was back. Such a mystery. I got out a mirror to see what was going on under the flashing and it’s metal. And clean. We examined it closely and it seems to be plant material, not house material. Whew.


We did a little scouting and eventually figured out that something has been eating a bush just beyond the steps, carrying the goodies to the porch to munch out of sight of predators. Here is the evidence:


Compare it to the bush on the other side, which has not been eaten. Yet.


I can’t tell what it is because there is no poop, which is curious. Both birds and bunnies leave their calling card. But the coyotes were whooping it up nearby the other night, so maybe it won’t be back.

On the back patio, something ate the throw-blanket I put out there for cold evenings. This is mouse, because it left the evidence. It’s 100% Polyester, can you imagine? I can patch/repair it, and I’ll keep it inside when it’s not being used; live and learn. My neighbor had a mouse (or mice) eat the insulation off the wiring in her car to the tune of $4,000. We had some mice in the garage for a while too, but we since have had it sealed, so no more mousies. So far. When you consider we built our houses on top of their habitat, why are we surprised.


Well gosh, that’s all the news. Stay healthy!

Tuesday, January 19

Done da Done-Done


And a closeup: I was going to quilt some brown in the tusks but I liked the quilting so I left them plain white. Or ivory, as it were.


I have to say that this piece made itself. Not that I didn’t do the work, it’s all mine, even the photograph, but it called me and made me do it. I was powerless to resist. Design and construction details haunted me in the night and the thing demanded that I get up and get working. This never happened before; I was usually the one in command.

I am pleased with it but it is better appreciated from a distance, so it won’t work in the powder room.

What I learned: Several things. One, crescents are really boring. Two, I was struggling with construction so I pieced it “backwards,” which means I put the convex side under the concave arc (see below) and worked downwards. It was easier that way, but it was counterintuitive. Three, I like working with batiks that have actual patterns in them rather than the swirly semi-solids. The fabrics in this piece are all batik, by the way.



What’s next? I am thinking dragons.




Saturday, January 16

Moving Right Along

I am about 2/3 to 3/4 finished quilting this thing. How big is it? About 28 x 36--maybe too big, I think, for the space I had intended. You need to stand back from it to appreciate it.

Of course there are a couple things I'd like to change. But ripping out quilting is not only not fun, it can ruin the whole thing, so I will live with it. I am learning to not get caught up in my perceived mistakes. It's a one-way street with this craft, and not very forgiving. The further along you get the more unreasonable it is to make corrections.

JJ played bridge yesterday so my plan was to finish it, but I got a migraine and watched old movies in a dark room instead. It's not just the crushing headache and visual disruption, when I get a migraine my brain goes I started eating breakfast and wondered where JJ was. Oh--I forgot to tell him it was ready. So it's better if I don't do anything that requires attention or precision. 

I'm better today. We are meeting friends in Laguna Beach for a play and dinner. We don't go out to dinner often so I'm looking forward to it. It will be nice to get out and be with people. And not cook...there is that.
Image result for laguna playhouse

It has been cold and gray, but not raining, so I am starting back playing golf next week. Cold and gray and not raining is perfect golf weather. The three women I play with most often are all named Linda. My handicap index expired December 31 and I have decided not to renew it. I really don't need to keep an index these days because I no longer play tournament golf, we have our own private group.

#9 at Palm Desert Resort CC

The builder-people came last week and crawled all over the attic, and we learned there are four other houses on our street (so far), five in a row, with the same problem of their walls separating from the floor and ceiling. They said it can be fixed and they'll get back to us. Meanwhile the cracks have stopped getting worse. At first they said it was a bad batch of drywall that started shrinking when we turned on the heat...that actually made sense, but that isn't the cause. The good news is, it is not the ground beneath us slipping away, but some newfangled thing they used in the construction of the house that didn't hold up. I have no idea how they are going to fix it, and I'm pretty sure it will be a big, messy job. But it can be fixed.

That is all. Everything is peachy. 

Monday, January 11

Changeover Day

Today I finished piecing the elephant--whew! And Woo Hoo! The last piece to go down was the eye. I also changed out one fabric piece in the trunk that was jarring me. I use a little scalpel and carefully slide it under the folded edge and stitches, praying I don't slice into the fabric, rip out the piece, make a new template, shape the edge, remove the template paper, slide the new piece into place ("slide" makes it sound easy--it's not), glue it down, then sew it. It's like microsurgery. That operation took me one hour. But it was worth it. I plan the fabrics only to a point, it's about 50% random, and mistakes happen. And sometimes they aren't obvious right away. Some I just leave because it's not worth the bother.

So what else do I do on changeover day? Let's see, I had to rip off all the stabilizer and snip any monofilament threads. I folded and put away all the fabric, cut and pressed the batting and backing fabric, glued the "sandwich" together, pinned it with safety pins to keep it from shifting during the quilting/scrunching, put away the iron and ironing board, cleaned my machine and changed the presser foot and plate for quilting instead of piecing, wound a couple of bobbins with the purple bobbin thread, adjusted the tension and ran some stitch samples (perfect the first time), cleaned the glue off everything and put away the light box. Then I vacuumed. 

The only other thing I need to do before jumping in to the quilting is decide what design I want to use and practice it. I first do it with pencil and paper, over and over until it's fluid, and then I run through it with the machine on a practice piece. It's to achieve muscle memory, kind of like when you practice your golf swing. Ha ha; like any of us actually practice golf. 

Now I have to go cook dinner. 

Tuesday, January 5

Storm Watch! And Studio Tour

You would have to have spent a winter in Southern California to get a laugh out of that, I just heard Shepard Smith (Fox News) make a joke about it. For years we've had "Storm Watch" when there was even a prayer of precipitation, which usually ended up to be a bust. So we all make fun of the local news stations when they put the Storm Watch screen up because, as you know, it never rains in California. Except when it's an El Niño year, which it looks like it is. Yay! We're getting some pretty good squalls out there. 

We need the rain so badly. Problem is, when we get it all in the span of a few months, the ground can't take it and sometimes it slides. No bueno.

We're both hunkered down in the warm, dry inside. JJ is working on the yearly budget and Yours Truly is working on the elephant. I've been busy! There's no golf in the rain; the golf course doesn't want you out there. 

It's looking good so far. I hope I have enough medium and light tan and grey fabrics to do the face, I hope I hope. 

Did I ever show you my studio? I have a nice big room with its own bathroom and walk-in closet, and a view to the street. 

I have three stations. Station 1 is where I iron the template pieces to the freezer paper, trim and press the seam allowances, the scraps dropping (hopefully) into the wastebasket below. The working fabrics are on the sofa. 

Station 2 is where the gluing and sewing takes place. The little brown cup holds the spool of invisible monofilament thread, otherwise it tangles up on itself, jams in the tension disks, and I have to start all over, carefully pulling out the ruined stitches and rethreading the machine. Grrr!

Across from the sewing side is the design and goofing-off side. 

Station 3 is the folding table where the picture layout happens. The red-lined freezer paper gets cut up as I go. A second design and the original photo are also pinned to the design wall. 

Well, that's enough goofing off for now. I'd better get back to work. 

Sunday, January 3

Turning the Page

...on another year. Time to take stock and keep what is important and discard what is holding us back from being the best we can be. That's my idea of a resolution anyway. More of the good, less of the not-so-good.

We spent New Year's a little differently this year, we went to a mountain cabin with the kids. We had a lovely time, and the kids and their friends, and their friends' family (i.e. people our age), all got together for a couple days of partying and playing games. I managed to find some photos on Facebook to share.

This was the cabin. It was what one would call "cozy."

Here we are: JJ, Rian, Michelle, Chris.

Conrad, the 16 year-old, takes a selfie of the whole group. We managed to get 13 peeps around the table. Hey, where's Holly! We were a jolly group. Chris and I cooked an amazing dinner of beef tenderloin, creamed spinach, caramelized Brussels sprouts, and roasted rosemary potatoes. Michelle made an incredible flourless chocolate cake and set a gorgeous table, and JJ did all the KP. And there was a lot of KP!

And now begins the diet once again. I stepped on the scale...oh, not pretty. The jeans are tight.
But I'll take it off, starting Monday of course. A cruise followed by Thanksgiving followed by the holidays...all hell on the scale number.

Now I am back in my studio, working feverishly on my elephant quilt. Here is the progress so far:

It's really coming together. I stopped at a quilt shop on the way to the mountains and got 5 or 6 fabulous fabrics that will be great. I took out the tan wedge on the lower right (front leg) and am changing it for more gray and mauve. I tried dying it with fabric paints to darken it but it still jumped out at me, so I caved in and removed it. Easy enough to do.

In other news, our new house is falling apart. Every day we find new cracks where the walls meet the ceiling and the floor. The builder will come out next week to have a look, and I think we are going to need a lawyer. Some of our neighbors have similar cracks, but ours are the worst. Here are just a few photos:

There are about a dozen intersections like this and getting more (and worse) every week.

The floor is also pulling away from the walls. This junction used to be tight. I can get two quarters under there. We haven't had any earthquakes or major rain storms, so who knows what is causing this.

I like life to be interesting, but this isn't exactly what I had in mind.