Monday, January 31, 2011


Woke up to sunshine this morning!  It is the first time in almost six weeks the sun has been out first thing in the morning.  What a treat.

As you can see, we have one orange on our tree!  Hate to pick it as it is so pretty.

Yesterday our friend dsfingers came over and helped The Big Guy clear tools and building material out of the Great Room (living room? den?).  It is really nice to see the floor and get to the couch to sit down!  I can reach the window blinds, too.  And, guess what?  They are OPEN!  The guys also taped the drywall on the ceiling and in the process dropped a scattering of plaster or something white all over the carpet.  So now The Big Guy is trying to find the bolt that holds the filter to the shop vac so that stuff can be vacuumed  up.  In the process he punctured his hand with a spiky thing.  Luckily, I'm home, know where the peroxide, antibiotic ointment and bandages are.  So I took a little break from blogging to do the Florence Nightingale wifely duty.

  I have been making "Stars for San Bruno", a project Artquiltmaker and I are sponsoring to make quilts for a family (friends of the grandchild) who lost their house in the San Bruno gas explosion last fall.  I made three friendship stars (the theme is yellow stars on a dark blue field) and wanted to try a different pattern.  I looked on the internet for free patterns and found a compass star that looked like fun to do.  It was a paper pieced pattern.  I enlarged it to 8" and picked fabric and pieced away.  Here is my result.

Imagine my surprise - this no way looks like a star!  I went back to the website and realized this patch is a border piece for the stars.  But that is not what it said.  Bummer.  So, only a little daunted, I went to my 1000 Blocks reference book, found another star pattern (Interlaced Star) and drafted that into an 8" block.  But by then it was late and I was tired so I haven't sewn it yet.  We would appreciate donation of blocks from you for this three quilt project.  E-mail me at for directions to get your donation to us.

On the quilt repair front, all the blocks have been patched as have the  posts.  I decided not to replace the sashing.  I have started quilting it and realized that while heavy quilting will likely keep the fabric from wearing, it totally changes the feel of the quilt.  It is not as soft and cuddly.  When I realized this I had completed the outside border.  I have done most of the blocks, but not as heavily and still have the posts and sashing to do.  I think Ozzy will be on my list of people to make quilts for.  This repair has almost been a new quilt!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The New Year

The tree is down, the gifts put away and the new resolutions have already gone by the wayside.  It is time to tackle the house again.

But first I have come down to SoCal to visit my mom, Super Granny.  With the price of gas being so high I decided to check out train travel.  What a delight!  Not only was it pleasant but it was also interesting.  I took the "San Joaquin" which travels from Sacramento to Bakersfield.  I boarded in Stockton, twelve miles north of our home.  By the next stop, Modesto, I was very glad I had not driven.  The Valley was rife with the notorious January tule fog.  Until Fresno, about an hour and a half south, I had a four person table to myself.  But at each stop the train loaded more passengers and I Fresno a young attorney sat down opposite me.  At the next stop, two released prisoners from the local state prison boarded (with many other people) and sat at the table on the other side of the aisle.  It was fascinating to talk to the successful young attorney and at the same time listen to the released prisoners.  The younger of the two discussed the crime he went to prison for (grand theft of a cell phone, his second strike) and how he didn't understand why they make him serve two years because his first strike was a juvenile offense.  He didn't seem to get it that theft was wrong.  He was mostly sorry that his mother was upset.  The older parolee had been "saved" and seemed to be mentoring the younger one.  Will keep both of them in my good thoughts with hope for their success in their lives.
What a contrast and how lucky we are who have taken the high road for whatever reason we have (good families, enough money, fear, religious training or luck or...?)

The train terminated in Bakersfield and I transffered to an Amtrak thruway bus which brought me the rest of the way, dropping me in Newhall.  I had asked Super Granny to wait at home for me to call as I got close to Newhall.  When I phoned, there was no answer.  I phoned several times more hoping she just missed the call but there was still no answer.  When I got to the station  I called Homer's dogmother and Super G's neighbor, Marge but her line was busy.  So I called another of Mom's friends and found that Mom had gone for lunch at the Senior Center, which is just up the street from the depot, and had been seen walking around the station.  So I went in search of Mom's car.   I hauled my b--- and all my luggage around two parking lots without luck.  Went back to the station and stood there in a quandary. What now?  Then I noticed a little old lady with a book in her hand.  Viola!  Super G!

I am ashamed to say I gave her a tongue lashing for not doing what I asked.  So she got mad and wouldn't talk to me!  That was old behavior from when I was a teen which I recognized right off! (Growth for me)  So I told her how worried I had been when she didn't answer the phone and then when her friend had seen her at the station but I couldn't find her and I apologized for yelling.  Worked out much better than pouting.

We had a nice evening and she beat me at Upwords.

After enjoying  the week with Mom I traveled home again on the train.  A little excitement in Madera when a car full of youngsters tried to (and actually did) beat the train across the tracks!  The train barely scrapped the car.  The engineer stopped to check for damage.  There was none, thankfully and so we kept going.

I arrived in Stockton right on time but no Big Guy and Pup to pick me up!  I had called from Modesto so I knew he knew I would be arriving.   There were three other passengers whose rides didn't show, too.  We all laughed about it.  After waiting about a half an hour Big Guy and Pup arrived and I got to drive my big truck home.

Train travel is my new mode of transportation!  I loved it. 

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Quilt Repair

Ozzy's quilt.

I'm in the middle of repairing, for the second time, the beloved quilt of a dear friend.  Our friend lives at the Community Housing associated with the Livermore Veterans Administration.  More than four years ago the quilt was among a group donated to the vets by unknown (to me), generous quilters.

An original block with two red patches from the last repair.

In my quilting life, I too, have made quilts to be donated to various organizations.  As I worked on Ozzy's quilt I realized that, had the maker known how treasured the quilt would become, she would have done as good a job with the quilting as she did with the piecing.  The blocks and sashing were hand-pieced with beautifully small stitching.  Had the quilting been done as meticulously, this quilt would have lasted much longer than it did.

The sad state of the sashing.

As I mentioned, this is the second time I have repaired this quilt.  Had it originally been quilted densely, instead of quickly, the fabric would not have worn out.  I can see from the wear patterns that light quilting allowed the fabric to move which created friction and eventually holes and tears on the top.

Two blocks I replaced previously with the added X quilt lines.

The last time I fixed Ozzy's quilt I quilted an X on each block. That bit of quilting kept the new blocks from wearing.  But the original blocks continued their downward spiral, even with the X quilting.

 I did not, last time, quilt any of the sashing.  This time much of the sashing needs repair.

So, you might be thinking, why don't I just make him a new quilt?  There are three reasons: he loves this quilt, it is faster to repair, and I have fourteen WIPs* in my line-up.  The good thing, for me, is that I know, next time I make a quilt to be donated, I will do a better job of quilting.  Sometimes donation quilts are our personal rejects and we don't spend the time on them we should.  But think of the recipients, often they are children who may have lost everything in a fire, or have been abused and are being removed from their home and all they are familiar with.  Or, like Ozzy, live in a nursing home environment where few personal possessions are allowed.  These donated quilts mean a lot to people, are well loved and much used.  The quilts and their recipients deserve our best as our quilt gifts are valued by their new owners.

Patching an existing block

I replaced most of this block. The upper right corner is original.
It is awaiting quilting.

*WIP: Work in progress; replaces the negative connotation of UFO, unfinished objects.