30 June, 2013

What I did on my summer vacation

Visited the beautiful Biltmore Estate and toured the stately home. I found it interesting and a good peek into a style of life that is long gone. Did wine tasting at the Biltmore winery and ate dinner at the restaurant there.

Went to the Clemson Creamery on a day when a group of incoming freshmen were there for orientation. Realized that 30 years ago this summer I was in a group of incoming freshmen that was being oriented. Gah! Am old! Bittersweet to see the excited kids and their happy/anxious parents and think back on that time in my life.

Enjoyed relaxing at Patrick Square. Visited with Carmen and her girls and my parents.

Drove by the new Daniel High School that has replaced the old Daniel High School. It's swanky compared to the old school. Just looking at it I can tell it has a/c, which is something they've needed forever.

Picked wild blackberries by the little lake in Pat Square. Picked cultivated blackberries at the Happy Berry berry farm. Ate blackberry cobblers made by my mother and sister.

Was there for my parent's house blessing. Pastors Keith and his wife, who is Pastor Susan (and the local DS) came over, blessed the home,  and gave us family communion. Keith and Susan are also my parent's neighbors and they stayed for a nice dinner.

Purchased the traditonal Clemson t-shirt from Judge Keller. Place was full of freshmen buying orange things.

Was with my sister when we saw Mr. Ables, the man who taught both of us to drive (at seperate times) at Tri County Tech. He is now the proprietor of Ables Driving School - which is apparently THE PREMIER driving school in Pickens County. This led to hilarity and reminiscing about Mr. Ables and his lack of nerves. That man could drive with the most nervous 15 year old in the car and never display the least trepidation.

Stopped off at my friend Samantha's house on the way back to MD.

19 June, 2013

First fruits

The first tomatoes growing!

I don't even like eating raw tomato, but I love growing them. Luckily Thomas likes to eat them.

18 June, 2013

Variety is the spice of life.

Pictures of some things I've been working on. The first thing is something I'm beading for fun. I'm not following any pattern, just playing around with various shapes of beads and various techniques.

Small projects where I made a stencil, stencilled with shiva sticks, and then hand quilted and embellished with beads. The patterns are from a book called Troubled Waters by Sharon Shinn. In the book, everyone's life is determined by their "elemental blessings." The above blessing is Triumph, and the one below is Synthesis. Excellent book if you like fantasy.

I am pleased with the way this one turned out.

Just for fun, here is Punkin, glowering at me from her little bed. She would not sit in the dog bed I got from my friend Christine until I made it into a cushiony little nest for her. Now she curls up happily. The bed is made from half a suitcase, with tennis balls for feet. It's so cute!

16 June, 2013

It's Father's Day

I went out to lunch today with my usual lunch bunch. Not a father (or mother) in the bunch. We are those people of middle age who have never had any children, and many of us no longer have fathers. We still had a good time and said a Happy Father's Day to all the dads out there. The good dads, the bad ones, the one who did the best they could.

My Dad was 27 when I was born. He was working on his PhD at Purdue. They were young and on the broke side; my first bedroom was the closet in his and Mom's bedroom. Looking at pictures of him when I was little, he looks so young for the responsibility of a family.

Doyce was kind of busy with school, and then work and sports and the Boy Scouts when I was really little. But by the time I was getting ready for school, he came into his prime as a father. He was the perfect Dad to teach you the things every kid needs to learn. How to tie your shoes, to ride a bike, to serve a volleyball, and do the times-tables. He took us fishing - and then kicked us out of the boat when our laughter "scared the fish away."

He took us to more Civil War battlefields and monuments than Younger Me wanted to know about. He took me to the library. My mother was the one who read stories to us, but when I was old enough to look for my own books, the example of him reading and loving the library helped me develop my own reading habits.

He is a sports loving man who loved to play, loved to win, and will watch almost any sport just for the fun of it. He pops popcorn almost every night for an evening snack. He has an offbeat sense of humor, that I think I inhererited a lot of. 

When I started driving, he showed me how to change a tire and check the oil. He picked me up when I ran out of gas, and didn't even bother fussing at me.

We didn't (and don't) always understand each other. I am more impulsive and emotional than he is and we are very different. Sometimes I was mad at him and thought he was "mean," (me learning math was not fun for either of us.) But he is my Dad, the first man I ever loved. He's a good man, husband, and father. I love his sense of humor, his unabashed enthusiam for the things he enjoys. I love the fact that when he was getting ready to retire from a job he loved, he learned to fly and bought the plane he's always wanted to have. He put those dreams on hold to raise a family, but got back to them when the time is right.  I want to be that kind of person too...I will defer some dreams, but not give up the important ones.

Thanks for everything Dad. I love you.

My two favorite guys. Thomas and Dad.

12 June, 2013

I think I went a little overboard

Have you ever heard of a quilt called “1600”? It is a quick quilt you make out of 2 ½ inch strips of fabric. First you sew them into a long strip, end to end. Then you fold the long strip (which is supposed to be 1600 inches long, thus the name) right sides together, and you sew a seam. You end up with a strip that is 800 inches long and 4 ½ inches wide. You fold that strip, right sides together, and seam. You keep repeating this process until you come up with a quilt that is about 46 inches x 54 inches. Or something like that.

Well, I started this a while back, at the West River retreat. The problem is that I think I may have used more than one jelly roll. My long strip was about half a mile long. I’ve been sewing that first seam for three days. Obviously not 72 hours, but I’ve definitely been sewing one seam for about an hour and a half over three days and I still have a huge pile of strip to go. Last night I stretched it out around the room and doubled up, it’s 1.5 times the length of our great room still to go. It’s crazy!
Sewing table. Chaos! Large stack of already seamed strip.

Strip going off sewing table and headed across room

It stretches all the way across the room and starts back!

So, I wonder what the finished size will be? All quilts are good quilts, so I don’t really care what size it is, but I think I am going to call my quilt 3200!
Last night at quilt guild our speaker was Karen Kay Buckley. She’s famous in the quilt world for her amazing applique quilts/patterns. Her talk was about borders and it was surprisingly good. “Borders,” you think, “how boring is that going to be?” No, it was interesting, and funny, and she made a lot of good points about how to do borders well, and how to make sure the border makes the quilt better rather than just being slapped on to make the quilt bigger. (Full disclosure: I often just whack great big borders on to beef a quilt up to the size I want.) She had two suitcases full of quilts to show-and-tell to accompany her talk, and her work is beautiful. Her huge applique quilts (which have been on the covers of a lot of magazines) have what I would call an art nouveau thing going on.  They use lots of swooping vines and stylized flowers and stems that have an art nouveau flavor.
After guild meeting I was inspired to work more on my huge strip quilt, but after 30 minutes of sewing that one seam my back hurt and I was tired. I pulled out Singer from the Sea, a book by one of my favorite authors, Sheri S. Tepper, and had a comfort read until I was relaxed enough to go to sleep. Lately I’ve been having terrible trouble getting to sleep, my anxiety level shoots up as soon as I lie down and I think about all the things in the world and my life that are not ideal. Of course in the middle of the day when I should be alert and chipper, I am half dead and could fall asleep leaning against a wall. I’m like one of those babies with day-night reversal.

07 June, 2013

An itchy problem

Two weekends ago on the holiday weekend we spent most of two days clearing brush and weeds out of the back yard on the other side of the fence. Last weekend we went into the completely wild area behind our property.
Guess who has poison ivy rash on her:
Left arm
Left hand
Right leg
Cheek and jawline
GO AHEAD AND GUESS! I feel fortunate that none of the patches are very large, so things could be worse. But a few times in the last weeks I’ve felt like I could just go to town on scratching myself until I looked like a piece of raw meat. Because anyone who is honest will admit that scratching poison ivy feels so good right up until the point where it doesn’t.
And another thing…guess who didn’t get a rash? My husband! Thomas and I are oil and water. When we do yardwork I am always filthy and rash covered and have sticks in my hair and he looks like someone just took him out of the box. Maybe it’s a case of “He’s rubber, I’m glue, bounces off him and sticks to (me).” Not that I’m bitter. Much.
The first part of this week looked like it was auditioning for a show on the Weather Channel called Perfect Days and yesterday and today it is a delighful rain. I love this kind of rain; it’s gentle and steady and goes on and on. At yoga last night I could hear the rain on the roof and it was so calm and peaceful. I don’t like driving in the rain at all but I do love being warm inside, snuggling under the covers and hearing raindrops patter through the leaves and hit the roof and the cars and the road. I also am happy that my blueberry and gooseberry bushes are getting a thorough watering in. I imagine all this rain soaking into the earth and refilling the groundwater reserves and letting all the plants have deep drinks. I can tell that our grass loves it, I think it has grown three inches overnight.
I will end with a fun fact about poison ivy. Birds and animals can eat the berries or rub themselves all over the plant without any rash. It is only humans that are allergic to the urushiol that causes all the problems.

03 June, 2013

I tell you, they will be there long before any of us

The first picture we saw of him.

You think dogs will not be in heaven? I tell you, they will be there long before any of us. - Robert Louis Stevenson

He came into rescue with a huge wound on his leg that someone had wrapped in duct tape. What the hell? First he had a temporary foster, but they couldn't keep him (I don't know why.) In the kennel he started going a little nuts. Morgan hated, hated, HATED being caged, restricted, or confined. He started grinding his nose against the bars of the run until it was raw and bleeding. We took him in because he really needed a home. He started out as a foster before we decided he was part of the family. Everyone except Punkin loved him.  Look at him, he was like a big, fluffy stuffed animal, so adorable.

He was so gentle and sweet. His tail wagged almost constantly. We used to say that he was like Dru (good looking and sort of goofy) without the angry and the biting. We had this routine where he barged through the bathroom door every time I went in. Then, if I closed the door, he stood with his nose against it. I opened it and he headed out. I pushed the door to and he shoved it open with his nose and came back in. Rinse and repeat again and again.

We noticed a while back that he slowed down and his breathing had become labored. He had a lot of trouble sleeping. Last night I could tell he was really distressed so I took him to the emergency vet. He had a large tumor in his abdomen that was squeezing his lungs and heart and he was having increasing trouble breathing and was in some pain. First they said it might be pneumonia, but an ultrasound showed the mass around his heart and a bunch of fluid in his abdominal cavity.

Thomas and I took him some hamburgers for a last meal. He scarfed them up with enthusiasm. We walked him in the parking lot and spent time with him and were with him at the end. I hope he felt loved because we truly did. He was only with us for three months, but he was such a good, sweet boy.

At our Anniversary party, welcoming the guests.
The day before he died.