Saturday, January 31, 2009

"Oh," He Said

I was already in bed one night recently when Roy closed the book he'd been reading while sitting on the couch. I knew he planned to take a shower before bed but started wandering around the house as he does when he has serious thoughts on his mind to mull over. I heard his footsteps stop near the front door in the living room. A minute or two of silence, then he came to our bedroom door and said, "When did you put up that wall hanging in the living room?”

"Right around the first of the year," I replied. "Why?”

"I think it's particularly striking, I really like it," he said.

"Did you just now notice it?" I asked.

"Yeah, I guess so," he replied. "Did you just make it?”

"I made it in January of 2004 . . . and I've hung it in that very same spot this time of year every year since then.”

"Oh," he replied. And went to take his shower.

Friday, January 30, 2009


It's all a big, fat lie. That thing about winter being the slow time of the year.

We always let our Netflix subscription drop in the summer because there's just no way we find time to sit and watch a movie. This being the slow time of year (yeah, right), I started it up again after the holidays. Economy subscription, one movie at a time, mind you. The latest DVD sits on top of the TV nagging me every time I walk by: "Watch me. Why aren't you watching me? I've been here for a week now.”

And what about those books on my nightstand? How am I ever going to get smart if I don't take the time to gain knowledge by reading and studying them? And my favorite fiction authors are writing faster than I can read.

Time to mitch and boan again about how little time I've spent in my quilt room thus far this winter. In a couple of short months, that seductive siren Spring is going to be calling me, and the bulk of my time will be spent outside. My lovely, comfortable quilt room will once more be without an inhabitant for months.

I laid in bed last night before falling asleep scheming and planning on how I could reorganize my days so I could get time for more of the things I say I want to do. Never mind those niggling everyday chores that must be done. You know, the ones necessary to keep us in healthy meals, clean underwear, and a halfway sanitary (ha!) house. Sure, they are important but what about the wanna-dos that nourish our souls?

Yesterday was a lost day because of an undesired but necessary trip to the big city and a little beyond. A three hour drive one way for an appointment. In today's economy it's unthinkable to spend the time and gas going there without allotting time for whittling away on our ever-present city shopping list. Toilet paper, poultry feed, seeds for the wild birds, vehicle maintenance supplies, groceries, restocking our beer and wine (heavy drinkers that we are), I needed a couple of new bras (we were at red alert stage here, folks), and on and on. That means we left before dawn and returned after dark. Like I said, yesterday was shot to heck.

And yet, it's all in the way you think of it, isn't it? It's not like we didn't accomplish anything yesterday. Lots of stocking up on needed supplies and the business of the appointment was taken care of. It's just that there's always the ever-present longing to find the time to spend in ways that bring real joy and satisfaction to each of us, whatever those ways may be. That's an important and perhaps even vital part of life that continually gets shoved to the background in today's busy world.

Well, I found a way to bring joy and satisfaction into my life tonight. I picked up the phone and ordered a pizza for our dinner. Budget be damned. (I had packed our food for the trip yesterday in an effort to be economically minded . . . so I didn't feel too bad about blowing the $$ saved on a pizza tonight.)

By hook or by crook, I'll get into my quilt room this weekend. 'Cause there was a new little baby boy bundle born to a very special couple this week. He needs a baby quilt from Mama Pea, and his "big" sister needs a doll quilt for her best baby doll, too.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

37 Random Questions

A week or so ago, Ruthie of Nature Knitter (see side bar at right) posted the following questions and suggested it was a fun and easy way to share information that we probably don't usually reveal. Here are my highly intellectual answers!

1) Do you like blue cheese? Nuh-uh, that be bad stuff!

2) Have you ever smoked? Yes, for one stupid year in college.

3) Do you own a gun? No, but I'm good with poison darts.

4) What flavor Kool Aid is your favorite? Grape, hands down, but I haven't had any for decades.

5) Do you get nervous before doctor appointments? Yes.

6) What do you think of hot dogs? Only eat organic chicken franks (they're good!).

7) Favorite Christmas movie? White Christmas.

8) What do you prefer to drink in the morning? Homemade latte.

9) Can you do push-ups? Yes, but only about 5. Or 3. Or maybe 2.

10) What's your favorite piece of jewelry? My wide gold wedding band.

11) Favorite hobby? Quilting.

12) Do you have A.D.D.? Nope, too lazy to be that active.

13) Do you wear glasses/contacts? Glasses, but only for close work.

14) Middle name? Ann, although I use my maiden name in my "official" signature.

15) Name thoughts at this moment? I'm hungry and it's still 2-1/2 hours until dinner.

16) Name 3 drinks you regularly drink. Lattes, iced black tea, and kombucha.

17) Current worry? The economic situation.

18) Current hate right now? Lack of time to quilt.

19) Favorite place to be? Home. I'm definitely a home-body.

20) How did you bring in the New Year? At home with husband, reading until a little after 10 pm and then to bed.

21) Where would you like to go? The East Coast and Maritime Provinces.

22) Name three people who will complete this. Chicken Mama? Annie? Fiona? (No pressure on anybody, honest.)

23) Do you own slippers? What? Dancing? Ballet? Bedroom? No. No. Yes.

24) What color shirt are you wearing? Teal colored turtleneck with yellow sweatshirt-like vest over it.

25) Do you like sleeping on satin sheets? Never tried, but they sound cold.

26) Can you whistle? Yup, but just as off-tune as I can sing.

27) Favorite color? Orange. (I said that in front of someone once and she said, "Yeah, it used to be my favorite color, too, but I got over it.")

28) What songs do you sing in the shower? None. It would be too frightening. (See #26 above.)

29) Would you be a pirate? Heck, no.

30) Favorite girl's name? Euphemia. It was a family tradition that the first girl of each generation be named Euphemia. My mom refused to give me the name even though I was the first girl of my generation. It's my favorite because I didn't get stuck with it. (How's that for reverse psychology?)

31) Favorite boy's name? Max.

32) What's in your pocket right now? Looks like wood shavings and sawdust.

33) Last thing that made you laugh? DVD "Get Smart.”

34) What vehicle do you drive? '84 Toyota Tercel.

35) Worst injury you've ever had? Broken nose. Ow. Owie. OW-EEE.

36) Do you love where you live? Yup.

37) How many TVs do you have in your house? Three. One for watching DVDs only, one that gets 2 channels, and one that is currently stuck on 1 channel (channel selector won't work).

Okay, all the rest of you blog readers out there. How about YOU copying and posting these same 37 Random Questions on your blog? I double dare ya.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Cookies, Cookies, Cookies

Until today I hadn't baked a cookie since my pre-Christmas holiday baking frenzy. And let me tell you, that is a very unusual happenstance in this house. I used to have this neat cookie jar that was two jars held in a wooden rack. That way we could have two different kinds of cookies available at one time . . . and both jars always had cookies in them. In our house if there aren't cookies out on the counter, you can most likely find some squirreled away in the freezer.

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies - recipe from my favorite aunt.

But if you'll remember, both Roy and I kinda sorta half made a New Year's resolution (how's that for being wimpy and wishy-washy?) that come first of the year we were going to concentrate on going very easy on all sweets ('cept for fresh fruit) and try to lose a little weight. Wasn't an honest-to-goodness true resolution, we just knew we wanted/needed to do it. That's been the reason for the dearth of cookies around these parts. It's not been as hard for me as for Roy. I'm more of a snacker of salty, crunchy stuff. Truth be told, I could LIVE on potato chips . . . no, I really could. Unfortunately, it's the sweets that dear husband desires. He's been very good, but every now and then he gives me that really pitiful look and says, "So we really don't have any cookies somewhere in the freezer?”

Walnut Coconut Cookies - each cookie is like a small piece of cake.

Today I started baking cookies. I couldn't stop. I blame it all on the weather. For starters I wanted the oven on to help warm up the place. Also, in these sub-zero temps a guy who spends a portion of each day doing any number of miscellaneous chores outside needs a good, homemade cookie now and then to keep up his energy . . . and make his life worth living. Besides that his metabolism is much faster than mine (which hardly moves) so, dang and drat, not fair at all, he burns off calories without seeming to try where all of them that I take in mainline to my stomach, waist and hips. (I've never been able to figure out why the weight gain never settles at the bust line. Somebody answer me that?)

Gingersnap Cookies - I think my favorite.

Fortunately, feeling better already since cutting my calories will keep me from attacking the cookie stash which will be packed away into the freezer and doled out as necessary. My pants are miraculously becoming more comfortable, and I've noticed it's easier to bend over without the flab below my belly button getting in the way quite so much. And, no, I don't have a bag of chips hidden away. THAT I couldn't resist if it were in the house . . . or garage . . . or storage building . . . or within 5 miles.

Chocolate Chip Cookies - good ol' Toll House recipe.

Now I'm exhausted. I'm gonna go get a fresh glass of milk, fill a dinner plate with cookies and pig out. (JUST kidding. Sigh.)

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Time for Color

Hard to believe but it's just about the end of January, and that's when I usually put out a few Valentine's Day decorations.

Last year it struck me that my quilted wall hangings I hang at this time of year didn't have much red in them (dull, bor-ing) so I made a couple of new pieces that added some color inside the house and tied in with the Valentine decorations besides.

This one was kinda fun to make because of the "ribbon" inner border. (Would be gorgeous on the edge of a big quilt, wouldn't it?) The hanging measures about 2' x 2'. I stupidly hand quilted it with a Baptist's Fan pattern, lots and lots of curved lines about 1/2" apart. I say stupidly because on the background fabric I used, which is the bulk of the piece, the quilting barely shows up at all. Arrrgh. Didn't I think about this? Oh well, live and learn as they say. I still like it.

These two table runners are made with the simplest of blocks, a Four Patch, but because of the colorway chosen, you don't see the four patch but rather the string of diamonds. Again, the runners brought in some reds and cheeriness. (Cheeriness? Is that a word?)

Around the same time last year, I made these two small wall hangings. Both are old, old traditional quilt patterns, the kind I tend to gravitate toward.

In this I used the Broken Sash block, and the fabrics are reproductions of Civil War patterns. I love the old-fashioned look of it. Someday maybe I'll have the patience to make a full-sized quilt in this design. So simple, so effective, so attractive to my mind.

This one was done all by hand. Whenever I do piecing by hand, I can't help but think of all the quilters who made unbelievably beautiful quilts tiny stitch by tiny stitch without ever having the convenience of a sewing machine. (Or decent lighting to work by!) There are a few different names for this pattern, probably Apple Core being the most popular. Lots of curves and careful coaxing to get each piece to fit with the next one. Know what I named it on the label? "Never Again." You will not see a full-sized quilt made by me in this pattern. (Although, dang, wouldn't it be somethin' to gaze upon?)

Okay, time to get off my rusty-duster this morning and dig out the February decorations. Maybe getting some red splashes on the walls will make our once-again-back-in-the-deep-freeze temps (barely above zero forecast as a high today) a little easier to handle. Hey, could that be why they made longjohns red?

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

A Beautiful Winter Day

Took another little snowshoe hike on yesterday's gorgeous winter day.

There is a nice stand of cedars at the very top of the ridge behind us . . . which has never made sense to me as cedars typically like to grow in wet, swampy areas.

A view from one of the overlooks at the top of the ridge.

The "easy" side of the loop coming down off the ridge.

Why is it I always feel like I'm getting so much more good oxygen into my body when out hiking on a gorgeous winter's (as opposed to a summer's) day? Watch out, I feel really robust now. Robust? You know, stout . . . sturdy . . . strapping. Yeah, that's me . . . strapping!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Life Is Meant To Be Good

We have a new leader of our country. He and all of us are facing some very difficult times.

Life is meant to be good.

How about if we try this: Ask whatever power or spirit or god you believe in to lead us back to the basic laws of nature and morality so that we may each be free to pursue our happiness which we so deserve.

Ask and believe that it can happen.

Then actively do the best you can personally to refuse to see ugliness and terror, look and move toward beauty and kindness.

I believe whatever we give out will come back to us.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Mission Accomplished

I set a goal for myself today of finishing the quilt top I started a while back. And, ta-dah! I just did it.

Just don't ask me what I DIDN'T get done today. No, actually, it isn't that bad . . . although there are (just a sec, let me go check) eight (eight?! argh!) items left on my To Do list I made out this morning. But I did vacuum and scour the bathroom sink. Had to. Some friends called and asked if they could stop by for a short visit on their way home from church. The dust bunnies were ankle deep, and what is it with my bathroom sink? It always looks like several coal miners just came through and washed up.

And we've had good food for two meals already, and there's a pot of Potato Soup in the refrig for tonight that I made last night. Do I sound like I'm yammering and making excuses for myself?

Bottom line, I feel good about having spent a few thoroughly enjoyable hours in my quilt room getting the top done, done, done and as for the eight things still on my list . . . ummm, I'll think about them tomorrow. (Just call me Scarlett.)

Saturday, January 17, 2009

I Love Snow

We woke this morning to a new snowfall. Curious about the snow because it's coating everything and the temperature is only 11 degrees (ABOVE zero, that is, for a change.) When it's this cool, the snow is usually light and fluffy and doesn't stick. Our deep freeze temperatures of all last week started to rise yesterday, and we finally felt like we could go outside without risking damage to body parts.

Snow is still falling. One of those snows that is perfectly silent, falling straight down in a curtain of broken white lace. I love snow.

When I was growing up in Illinois we had a lot of snow in the winter time. The city park had a golf course with a huge hill that provided hours and hours of sledding fun nearly every weekend. (Somehow I can't imagine kids being allowed to go sledding on a golf course proper these days.) It was so popular, not just with kids but for whole families, that sometimes it was difficult to steer a path down the hill on your sled without smashing into another sledder.

Another area of the park boasted an ice skating pond. It was a low area called "The Lagoon" and was probably about two feet deep in the center when flooded early each winter to form the skating pond. It was actually a very large area, and now as I think back, I wonder about the gargantuan amount of water needed to flood that big space. I remember being taken there frequently when I was small by two or three of my unmarried aunts. (Anybody remember those two-runner skates that fastened on to the bottom of your boots? They were sort of like training wheels on bikes . . . used as "learner" skates. I doubt you could do much actual skating on them but at least a little kid could remain upright.) My most vivid recollections of skating in the park come from the time I was a teenager. It was "the" place to go in the winter. Much like what the mall is for teens these days. There was a small warming house, but the bulk of the action for us hormonal teenie-boppers was out on the ice. Talk about frozen fingers and toes . . . and lots of fun and good memories.

Then the weather slipped into another phase in Illinois, and we no longer had cold enough weather for much snow. By the time Roy and I were married, winter meant ice, thawing, slush, ice, freezing rain, ice, and bone-chilling dampness. That was one of the reasons we moved north. We wanted to experience real winters filled with snowfalls and temps low enough to have snow stay on the ground for the winter months.

And that we did have for the first few years we lived up here. Ironically, the same years we were the least prepared. Living in an uninsulated mobile home, having no equipment for snow removal, not having an adequate wood supply . . . ooof! But that passed, and dang and drat, so did the snow. We went into a warming trend where we had very little snowfall for many years. Guess it was a basic drought period because our area suffered from lack of moisture in the summer also.

For the past many years, previous to this glorious winter, we've had about two good snowfalls and that was it. We've joked about having to move north again, possibly up into Canada . . . way up into Canada . . . to have the kind of winter snows we've wanted.

That's why this year has been such a treat for us. Everywhere you go, you hear people saying (and the majority of them sounding darn happy about it), "Well, we're finally getting a real winter this year!" And a really good thing we've had ample snow cover because we've also had the super-frigid temperatures that would have wreaked havoc had we not had the protective insulation.

Snowshoeing, skiing, even just a hike down the driveway and back to get the mail is so invigorating. The exertion of having to get out there and shovel or plow or dig out is enjoyable because of the great exercise it affords someone like me who tends to want to stay inside and quilt or knit or read snuggled on the couch during the non-gardening months of the year. Oh yeah, I do love snow.