Friday, October 22, 2010

New and old

Pat Sloan is one of my favorite commercial bloggers.  She has radio interviews with quilt and fabric artists from everywhere;  she runs a great blog;  she has whimsical and adorable patterns, and from time to time, she suggests trying a particular tool or method.  This time around, I am trying The Cutting Edge ruler, made by Sullivan, which I discovered on her blog.  The innovative thing about this ruler is that it has a whetstone surface on its right side that is supposed to help keep our rotary cutters sharp.  So far so good with mine.

But I do have some comments:  the ground glass background of the ruler makes it hard to see the fabric edge in some cases.  Also, left handed people have to use this ruler upside down -- it seems the manufacturer should have considered putting the edge on both sides to make it more equitable and user friendly for lefties.  Other than those two criticisms, I like it.

Once a year my quilt guild gets together with other guilds in the area and has a party.  Sometimes it's a tea, sometimes it's an ice cream social, and sometimes it's a great little smorgasbord.  We dress a little more nicely and wear hats if we're so inclined.  This is my "guild hat", whose pins represent various bits of pleasure in my life.  I love to wear this hat, just for the fun of it.  Unfortunately, the Day of Sharing this year occurred while I was on vacation, but I thought I'd share my hat with you anyway.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Good Wife

Sometimes I think we're really spoiled.  We've been so lucky to have been able to travel to wonderful places, some of which, like Grand Cayman, have become our second homes when it comes to favorite restaurants and knowing their owners and staff.  This past vacation in the islands found us admiring a new bronze fountain outside a sparkling new shopping arcade.  The graceful forms of southern sting rays struck a chord in us because we're scuba divers and have had many memorable dives with these shy creatures.  So we sat down on the rim of the fountain, talking about all the beautiful things we had seen in these Caribbean waters, and along came a young lady who was kind enough to take our picture for us.

That was the last day of our vacation, and it was hard to come home so soon this time because we hadn't yet had our fill of diving, what with the lousy weather the first three days.  And then the airlines changed our flight times, which was of some concern to DH because he had hoped to participate in a points race Saturday night.  Some other racers  had brought his cart for him just in case he could make it for the race.  The change in schedule put us into Raleigh at 9 instead of 8, and we scrambled to get the luggage and the car and then high tailed it up to the Virginia racetrack as fast as we could go.  We didn't stop at home first; we didn't stop for refreshment;  we didn't even stop for the bathroom!  No indeed.  We went straight there, and lo! and behold!  We made it with ten minutes to spare for the final race!   You never saw a more excited man!

It is unfortunate that this time he had problems with the carburetor.  So he pulled off to the side of the track to adjust it.  During the previous week, while we were away, the track changed its policy about getting back in the race and now, once you pulled out for any reason, you could not reenter.  Imagine his dismay!  So that was the end of that race.  But, being the good wife, I stayed around and took pictures and cheered at the start of the race.  I didn't get to sleep in my very own bed, at last, until well after midnight.  Two more races to go.  I'll go to the last one with him in two weeks, and then I hope to see some chores getting done around here on the weekends!

Tomorrow I'll show you my newest quilting tool.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Sunny Cayman

Let me set the scene.  It's mid-October, the time of year that DH and I had our wedding -- in Lake Tahoe.  Over the years, we have gone to several exotic areas of the world to celebrate that day, but we often return to Grand Cayman, where we have several time shares since we like this island so much.  This year we decided to reprise our wonderful time last year and return to the island, anticipating that although it is hurricane season, we have always lucked out with the weather.

Upon hitting the tarmac, we were greeted with a warm, very brisk wind.  The sun was shining.  We had been told that it was raining in Grand Cayman, and we had resigned ourselves to hanging out with the computer and catching great dinners for entertainment rather than the scuba diving that is our favorite pasttime.  Each day brings with it dark clouds and some rain.

Two more days go by, and a horrendous storm hits, bending the palms low and ticking noisily against the sliding glass doors of our condo.  Apparently it was the parting shot of some southerly winds as a result of Paula, just north of us.  We're starting to get cabin fever but accept this with equanimity and start surfing ebay, wondering what we can find for excitement.

Finally, after only a few hours of pounding the island with all its might, thunder and lightning included, the clouds drift away, apologetically, and the sun breaks through!  We are elated!

We pile into the car and take the north road to the Antique Car Museum, which is just a few feet north of the Turtle Farm.  Here, in the lobby, is the first automobile ever made!  It's a wonder to behold. We enter the museum, gasping at the gorgeous old cars, and the recent ones that bring tears to a grown man's eyes.  Not that DH did that....  I'm just saying...

Below is DH in front of my own dream car.  I LOVE Bentleys, the older the better.  We weren't allowed to touch anything, or else I would have crawled into this little beauty and stayed there all afternoon.   I love Bentleys so much that I bought my pontoon boat by that manufacturer!

This Cadillac below is the first car brought to the island -- woo hoo!  The locals thought the devil had come and  jumped out of its way and ran to the churches in droves.  Can you imagine?  Not to even know such a thing existed in the world and then to suddenly have one chugging and backfiring along the dirt paths that passed for roads here in those days.   I'm sure they thought it was the end of the world!

The next day was even lovelier, but we didn't know that the storms were over because on the local weather report, scattered thunderstorms had been predicted.  All this weather was the result of Paula getting hung up off the coast of Cancun and then over the western tip of Cuba.  We were holding our breath for fear that she would circle back over us again.

That wasn't to be, but we missed out on the diving today as a result of faulty weather reports.  We're signed up for tomorrow for a two tank dive.  It seems a sin to be in Cayman and not be 100 feet under the water...

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, take a look at the iguanas that roam the golf course here, next to the resort.  BIG ole thangs!

We'll be back homeSaturday, alas.  Now that the sun is out, we wish we could stay an extra week, but work and duty call.  See you all then!

Monday, October 4, 2010

I'm having a ball...or two, three, four...

At some point in the cuttings and sewings and designings during the Melrose Inn retreat, I had some scraps to deal with.  So I made little balls, about an inch across.  It turned out that later on I had other scraps, so I sewed those together to create little three dimensional flowers and gave one to each class participant.  I still had some scraps left over, so I made some for myself as well.

The pattern is from the split fingers design.  They are so cute!  I might find a place to put one or two of them in my quilt.

I guess it's time to give you a little peek at what I'm doing with my quilt.  This is the right lower corner, where I have made leaves and grasses.  These leaves will eventually be part of a stem system that goes to some interesting drooping flowers in the right upper corner.  But that's all the peek you get this time around.

These wonderful hot air balloons were created by Phyllis.  She used the spiral, the split fingers, the blaze, the chevron and the flip flop patterns to create these colorful floaters above a background that included the NYC skyline, prior to 9-11-01, and graduated shadings of skies, mimicking a sunrise coming over the city.

Lest you think that all I do is play all day, I did finally finish doing the quilting for the second QOV quilt that showed up on my doorstep some weeks ago, and I even mailed them off to their patiently waiting owner, Karen.  Sometimes these quilts are done with simple pantographs, as this one was.  Others are quite complex and take alot of custom quilting to do them justice.  But each one is made with a spirit of gratitude for our armed forces personnel. 

Take a moment to remember that freedom isn't free, and thank the men and women who have heeded the call and sometimes paid the ultimate price for our country. 

And while I'm at it, remember not to take things for granted.  Our country won't go on being the land of the free and the home of the brave unless we start boning up on what's going on in Washington.  Start paying attention now so you can vote wisely in November -- this year, next year, and especially in 2012.