Monday, August 29, 2011


Although I spent pretty much a sleepless night last night, convinced that I would die of carbon monoxide poisoning in my sleep, I did manage to catch a few winks when all of a sudden we were startled awake with the sound of a thunk/explosion!  We jumped out of bed, DH with a baseball bat and flashlight, me dashing headlong to the basement stairs to see if the noise had come from there.  We discovered that the generator had stopped -- no electricity at all.  We went outside to see what had happened.  The indicator said that the coolant was too hot.  Ok.  We'll just have to fix it in the morning.

When morning came, however, this is what we found:

This is a generator fan belt, pretty much stripped and chewed up and slung around the insides of the generator enclosure.  That explained both the crashing sound and the cessation of function of the generator, for without the cooling effects of the fan, the whole thing would overheat.

Resigned, but undaunted, we marched off to the Napa Auto store to get a new belt.  Turns out they gave us the wrong size, even though we gave them the identical numbers off the old belt.  We'll have to exchange it tomorrow.

One good thing happened, though.  The electricity was restored to the development this morning.

While at the Napa store, DH got a lead on a new job, but it turned out that the shop owner talked bigger than he could deliver.  We saw no sign of any work having been brought in, worked on, or waiting for pick up while we were there. Back to the drawing board.

We're done.  We're fried.  One more thing is going to put us over the edge.  We rail against the gods who have made it their quest to test our mettle.  It's over.  Mother Nature and I have called it quits.

Sunday, August 28, 2011


There are days that it just doesn't pay to get up in the morning.  Some Machiavellian destiny awaits, and we, unsuspectingly, march blithely forward, innocent of where it lurks or how it will affect our lives forever more.

One of my dogs has seizures and is on phenobarbital.  The other one, Razzy, above, doesn't.  However about a week ago I was sitting on the couch with Razzy behind it where she likes to lie next to the air conditioning floor vents, and I felt this shaking of the back of the couch.  I put my feet on the floor, thinking that now Razzy must be having seizures and wanting to go to her to comfort her while she went through it.  The floor was shaking, and I looked at DH and said "The dog's having a seizure!"  The shaking got worse and worse.  The whole house seemed to be bouncing up and down from it!  My husband, being from California and experienced in this sort of thing,  grabbed my hand and said, "That's no seizure!  That's an earthquake!" and he tried to drag me to the stairs to the basement.  An earthquake!?  Who ever heard of an earthquake without a fault line nearby?  I tried to go to the dog to make sure it wasn't her quaking, but he was insistent.  No sooner did we get to the top steps than it subsided.  Nothing broken, no stonework in the house loosened.  I still couldn't believe it.  But there it was, on the internet.  A 5.9 quake centered near Lake Anna and felt as far as Atlanta, Rhode Island, and Ohio!  Go figure! 

So, that was interesting, and we were none the worse for wear, but over the next few days, Hurricane Irene formed, strengthened, and travelled her inexorable route along the East coast, wreaking havoc in her path.  We cleared the patio of furniture, covered and tied down the tarp over the mulch we had just had delivered, put away the lawn tractor and wheel barrows, and planted the few remaining chrysanthemums that remained from my gardening spruce up spree.  We called in an electrician to correct the errors that the idiot who had wired the house and generator panel when we first built this place had made, and we thought we were ready.

Then came Irene.  Wind and rain blew SIDEWAYS at 40 mph, hard as a pressure washer against our Pella windows, two of which leaked.  Water ran down the great room wall from the clerestory window far above us.  We sopped it up with towels and waited. 

Of course, at this particular moment in time, the dogs needed to piddle, so out I went with them.  They took one look outside and cowered, but a mixture of firmness and coaxing got them out into the storm.  A dead tree that belonged to our mean neighbor was swaying.  Finally they finished and we went back in.  About an hour later we heard a thump.  It was the dead tree.  It fell onto the mean neighbor's yard, not ours.  Hurray!

Then the power went out.  Smugly, I went outside to turn on the generator.  Nothing happened.  Much criticism from IH (irate husband) about my technique ensued until he went outside and couldn't get the darn thing to go on, either.  Turned out that the electrician that checked out our generator the day before had turned it off, so we had to dissemble the front panel and turn the switch back to automatic so it would work.  This in gale winds and pouring rain, whipping our faces like tiny splinters.  Success!  We had power!  Lights.  Microwave. Gas stove. Air conditioning -- ahhhhh!

But no phone.  So no internet.  For a short time we had TV, but then the power went out to the DirecTV people, too, and that was the end of that.  We watched DVD's and listened to the howling winds.  By about 11 or 12 at night, the rain settled down and the winds calmed to about 20 mph.  One more bathroom trip for the doggies, and we toddled off to bed.

This morning I let doggies out, totally forgetting that the underground fence was not on, it being a "non-essential" item and therefore not on the emergency panel.  They, of course, took advantage of the lack of warning beeps and went scampering off into the neighborhood.  We jumped in the golf cart to look for them, taking with us a chain saw in case a neighbor needed help or there was a tree in the road, but two trips around the development failed to reveal their whereabouts. 

We did find some trees down across the road, so DH fired up the chain saw and had at it.  During the second tree, the chain saw clutch seized up.  Brand new Poulan. Apparently he had had this same trouble with it before, and no amount of fiddling with it could get it to loosen back up.  So he threw it on the ground a few times -- his version of anger management.  Wouldn't you know, the neighborhood psychologist drives up at that instant, hears what happened, laughs his head off and goes on to breakfast.  We go back home.

When we returned, a neighbor was in our driveway (the phones still being out) in her van.  Our dogs had gone to her court and had treed one of their "volunteer" outdoor cats and had killed the other.  We were heartsick!  She told us where they were, still  circling the tree that the second cat had escaped into, so we hopped back into the golf cart and high tailed it to the empty lot, capturing them before more damage could be done.

Back home, chagrinned and sweaty, generator chugging away, air conditioning beckoning, dreadful dogs refusing to meet our eyes.  They knew they had done two bad things already, and it wasn't even 9 AM!

The phone service returned.  We checked in with our kids to let them know we were fine and to see how they had fared. Fired up the internet and checked Irene's path and email.  Then the phone lines went down again.  We decided we had had enough of being responsible adults for today and went out for lunch, badly in need of some mothering and comfort food.

When we got home, the alarms were going off.  Specifically, the carbon monoxide alarms.  We opened all the doors and turned off the generator, which emits alot of carbon monoxide in its exhaust since it runs on propane.  Every single alarm in the entire house was shrieking "Warning!  Carbon monoxide!"  There was nothing more to do but go outside and begin cleaning up the leaves and branches all over our lawn and blow off the patio.  About an hour into that, we'd had enough, so we poked our heads back into the house.  Silence.  We shut the doors and discovered that Razzy had gotten out again.  This time she was only two doors away when we found her, and she came right back.  Good thing.  I think there may have been an iota of murderous intent in our tone when we ordered her to "Come!"

In another half hour we fired the generator back up, took showers, ate something, and nearly died when the alarms went off again.  This time we decided to disarm the alarm that seemed to be triggering all the others.  And that did the trick.  Apparently all the alarms were having sympathy pains to this one alarm.  We had replaced the battery when we went outside to work on the lawn, thinking that that would do the trick.  But it didn't, so it got dissembled.  We intend to sleep through the night.  All other alarms are now silent!  Hurray!

I'm tired of being a grown up this week.

Friday, August 12, 2011


The dock has been power washed and resealed!  Hurray!  It has only taken us 4 years to get around to doing this, but now it looks pretty spiffy.  However, the woods in front of it could use a good bushwhacking.  Trouble is, we don't have a bushwhacker.  So machetes and weed whackers and chain saws will have to do.  I've got the weekend's schedule full of this for us, combined with jumping in the lake from time to time to cool off.  I'm going to have to bring some heavy lawn chairs with colorful cushions down to decorate this dock a little.

We're doing a little sprucing up around here.  All of our gardens had gone to grass, so I hired a crew to come out and pull up as much grass as they could see.  Dig it out, pull it up, rake it within an inch of its life -- whatever it took.  And even after two days with three men working pretty much nonstop, there were still little slivers here and there. That crew was too expensive, so I found someone else who could work odd hours before or after his other jobs to help me remulch my gardens.

DH has pretty much every tool known to man, whether it be for automobiles or lawn tractors or gardening, so I filled his metal pump cylinder with weed/grass killer, sealed it, pumped air into it, and went charging out to conquer those remaining insolent weeds!  Alas, the nozzle was clogged, and despite scraping and turning and rinsing and using all my magic words ($))^$@#&*(*^##**!!!), the thing just wouldn't work. 

Undaunted, I grabbed my keys and headed for the local hardware store, purchasing a cheaper, plastic version of DH's super duper spray pump system.  This one worked perfectly.  Someone had told me to spray Round Up on the weeds and grass bits before recovering with landscape cloth.  Hah!  Southern grass scoffs at Round Up!  Scoffs!  I grow more grass on my gravel driveway than in my lawn!!  And for years, I have sprayed the darn stuff with Round Up to no avail. 

This year, we used a layman's version of Agent Orange it seems -- Crossbow.  Don't ask me what it is.  I just know it works.  However, you do need to keep up with it.

Here's the front garden newly weeded, sprayed and mulched.  And yes, that's grass on the driveway.  I'll be getting to that this weekend.

Two other gardens down and two more to go.  The one on the bottom needs some new plants.  I'll check in with the local nursery to see what would do well being transplanted at this time of year.

Now for a glass of iced tea and a pizza!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


I'm a big fan of Marilyn Doheny's work.  In fact, I'm so much a fan that I have arranged for her to come to my guild in September for a trunk show one day and a class the next.  Marilyn works with free form art to make leaves and stems, but she also is the inventor of the 9 degree ruler, with which she has created many wonderful masterpieces.

This is my favorite of her quilts.  The wedges created by making strata of very different fabrics and then cutting them in different ways are well demonstrated in this quilt.  You may remember that Mary and I went to Tryon, NC last September for a week long quilting retreat at Marilyn's newly refurbished Melrose Inn.  That's where I started this quilt:

I haven't finished the antennae or the butterfly bodies just yet, but I'm working on them.  I hope to complete at least the applique on this quilt before Marilyn comes to our guild.

Of course, Mary, being the over achiever she is (and I like that about her!), has not only finished her applique but has quilted her quilt and bound it!  She is coming in September at the same time as Marilyn, and I will be hosting these two creative ladies in my home.  Can't wait!

Thursday, August 4, 2011


First and foremost, I want to say Happy Birthday to my brother.  He is such a delight, and I am very lucky to have him in my life, even though we seldom see each other.  You know how it is with good friends, though -- even if you don't get together often, when you do, you just pick up the thread of conversation and keep going.  My baby brother is like that.  He's the real deal.  What you see is what you get, and I like him that way.  Many more, bro'!

In my quilting world, I am working on a small project, a wool needle keeper, that I started in Sue Spargo's class at Quilt Odyssey.  Above is a sampler that she did for us with wool leaf shapes that were all the same but had different embroidery stitches and embellishments on them.

Here's a closeup of some of the stitching.  Isn't it luscious?  The shapes I have on my needle keeper are just circles, but it's surprising how unique they can be made with just a few cleverly placed stitches.  When I get it finished, I'll post it for you.

Meanwhile, here's a little preview of the larger wall hanging project that Mary started in another of Sue's classes.  This is just one section of the quilt, but Mary is a very fast quilter/stitcher, and she had this part almost finished by the time the show was over.  The background is a gorgeous turquoise raw silk, not shiney at all, and fairly loosely woven, but it has great texture. 

Yesterday a lady called me wanting me to put her granddaughter's name on a laundry bag that she was making for her to take to college this fall.  I don't do embroidery as a business, but the lady's friend, who usually did her embroidery, had injured her arm, so I did it for her.  What a great idea!  I immediately called my DIL to ask if my grandson, who is going to VA Tech this fall, needed a laundry bag.  Turns out he already has one, and it isn't made of any type of fabric that can be embroidered.  Oh well.  I'll save that idea for some other time.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011


Isn't this just the loveliest quilt?  It's all appliqued, and then finished with a scalloped border.  Click on this picture to see it better.  I love to see hand piecing and applique, but I find it tedious to do.  Maybe that's why I value quilts that have this kind of work on them so much more than straight pieced ones.  The quilting on this one is by hand, too.  Sorry I didn't get the name of the artist, but this quilt was among the others I have shown that were hanging in the show at Quilt Odyssey.

Talk about quilting!  Take a look at this one.  Again, hand appliqued and hand quilted.  These traditional style quilts are such beautiful presentations.  I think for all their novelty and inventiveness, art quilts can never have the grace and solidity of traditional quilts.

Karen Marchetti created this simple but dynamic example of a pieced quilt and won second prize in the wall quilt category!  She named her work "Clouds in my Latte", which reminds me of a Carly Simon song, "You're So Vain" in which she sings about "I had some dreams, they were clouds in my coffee, clouds in my coffee...."

This miniature quilt is mind boggling!  The quilting is so very tiny and detailed.  I can't imagine how she accomplished that without going blind!  The name of this quilt is "Secret Garden" by Terri Doyle.

This large quilt was made by the Friendship Star Quilt Guild from Montgomery Village in Maryland and is called "Sunflower Square Dance."

This last one is the creme de la creme.  "Pine Burr" by Judy Elwood is machine pieced, hand appliqued and hand quilted.  For her superlative efforts, Judy won First Place as Best Traditional Quilt in the show!  Click on it to magnify it to see each tiny piece.  It is stunning!

I hope all this has stimulated you just as it has me to reach beyond my present grasp when designing or sewing or quilting your quilts.  The show was everything I've come to expect from it over the years and more.  Missy Molino deserves kudos yet again for another year of perfection.  Great classes, great show, and great vendors' mall!

As I complete the projects from my classes, I'll post them here.  Meanwhile, take a look at Mary's blog. She has information on the classes we took with wool queen, Sue Spargo.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011


Among the many and varied quilts offered for our delight at Quilt Odyssey this year were several from a group of artists who meet monthly to network, share and critique their work.  These women call themselves Fiberistic Journeys, and they have produced truly wonderful quilts that are perfection.  The one above by Denise Havlan is called "Ringmasters."  Be sure to click on it to see it more closely.  The work is beautiful.

Denise also produced this lovely work, "O" (for orchids).  She certainly has an eye for color and form.  There were many more by the other members of the group, but I didn't want to devote my narrative to just the Fiberistic Journeys, even though their body of work is stellar.

This stunning portrait of a lion was fashioned from a photograph taken on a river trip in Africa by artist, Barbara Barrick McKie.  In her work entitled "Eye to Eye," she transferred the image to cloth and then used trapunto and machine embroidery to adorn the photo.  I'm not sure how I feel about using a photo, or even painting on cloth and calling it a quilt.  Somehow, it seems like it's not the same as taking pieces of fabric and cutting and sewing until you come up with the design you want.  This thread painting is interesting fiber art, but I don't think of it as quilting and would prefer that it be assigned a special category all its own that does not have the majority of the quilt pieced or appliqued.  In my not so humble opinion.

I'll leave you with the most intricate and perfectly made quilt (as far as I'm concerned) at the show.  This hand appliqued and home machine quilted scene was made from 123 different fabrics by Kathy McNeil from Tulalip, Washington.  She named her masterpiece "Natural Wonders."  If you look closely, you will see sea life, starfish and the like in various spots on the quilt.  This design was inspired by the San Juan Islands but was not a photograph, springing from the artist's imagination and her gifted skills.  Now THAT'S a quilt!  Her quilting, by the way, is also exceptional.  She won First Place in the Best Pictorial Machine quilting category.

By the way, in case you are wondering what that smoky "X" is in front of some of the quilts, it's nearly clear tape that is put up so that the viewers don't touch the quilts.  There are white gloved ladies who will handle the quilt for you if you want to see the back.

Tomorrow I'll show some more traditional quilts that caught my eye.

Monday, August 1, 2011


I love going to Quilt Odyssey in Hershey, PA each year with my BFF, Mary.  The quilt show itself is international, extremely eclectic, and totally awe inspiring!  This small wall hanging was created by BBD Designs this year especially for Quilt Odyssey.  They also allowed QO to use it on mugs, shirts, totes and to put out a pattern for people to make themselves.  This was in addition to the mugs, etc that had Quilt Odyssey's own design on them.  I bought one of the totes because Mary kept kidding me about dragging around a dilapidated but well-loved book with me in a Food Lion bag.  The book was falling apart, I know, but I really wanted to read it again during this trip.  Apparently we quilters have to dress de rigeur, i.e., if you don't make your own tote, you must have a quiltingly fashionable one -- no plastic bags!  After all, one must keep up appearances...!

The Hershey Lodge is stunning!  Clean, spacious, gracious, well appointed, with cheerful and helpful staff everywhere, it has to be the best hotel I have ever been in. I've been in bigger and more expensive marble filled wonders, but this one, with its two story fireplaces and massive hearths and warmth in their furnishings and color schemes is the best!  This is the upstairs lobby, where the public comes into the massive building for the show.  The downstairs lobby is where the people come in who are staying at the hotel and where one's bags are loaded onto lovely brass trolleys that can carry pretty much your whole travelling sewing room, all the clothes you need and some you don't, your iPad or laptop, extra bags of supplies, food, stuff you bought along the way to the Lodge (because we did just have to stop in Intercourse again this year), stacks of bins with more articles in them -- well, you name it, and we had probably packed it.

This was Viewer's Choice this year.  It's called Fire and Ice, and it was made by Claudia Pfeil from Krefeld, Germany.  Claudia used 55,000 Swarovski crystals.  The least expensive I found these on the internet was 10 gross for $55, which would add up to over $2100 just for the crystals!  What an investment.  The white glove lady tried to tell me that these were all hand sewn on, but they were the flat backs, and those don't have a place on their backs to sew them into anything, whereas the beads do.  So much for that fairy tale. 

 Nonetheless, the appearance was truly amazing, and the quilting was magnificent!  Here's a close up of the ice part, and

here's a close up of the fire part.  Magnify the picture by clicking on it, and you will see not only the swirls, but the tiny, tiny, tiny, less than 1 mm apart lines that have been quilted into this remarkable piece of work.

Just makes you want to run right out and buy some hot glue, doesn't it?  I never think of embellishing my quilts, but it really adds some pizazz!