QC Blog: August 2009

Friday, August 28, 2009

Back to Real Life

I forgot to mention that we saw Hall and Oates while we were on vacation. Mark and I drove up to Lancaster on Tuesday night to the American Music Theater (gorgeous place, by the way) to hear some tunes. It was one of the best concerts I've ever seen (and I've seen 10 now). I heard Daryl's mom and dad were in the audience - maybe that's why it was special. We drove right back to the beach that evening. H&O have a NEW boxed set coming out October 6. If you go here you can read about it and have a listen to some of the songs.

Do you remember the game Aggravation? That's what this week has been like. I've spent time at PT for my foot because my plantar fascitis is flaring up again. Cortisone shots didn't work for me so we're trying this for 3 weeks.

I've been slow on quilting these past few weeks because my time has been spent juggling workmen-- plumbers (note the plural on that) fixing a leak in the upstairs bathroom that has come thru the kitchen ceiling (I now have a hole in the kitchen ceiling, but have high hopes after two companies, four plumbers and seven visits that the problems are fixed); meeting with insurance estimators who seem to never cover anything (the drywall is covered, but fixing the pipes is not???); and carpet installers who spent the day yesterday installing two new carpets (this was the highlight of the week - at least this went smoothly).

When I was about 12, I used to write letters to comment about things all the time. I discovered that when you complained, the company actually cared enough to send you a free sample of a new product or a coupon for something at the store. I even started "Mary Jane's Complaint Service" and handed a card out to all my relatives (they must have all been very happy, as I got no takers on the service). I was the Consumer Reporter of my time. My time is wasted on the phone talking to customer service people who don't really listen to what you're saying, but keep reading their scripted lines, or dealing with people who tell me they'll call back, and leave me waiting and waiting and waiting. As I get older, I find myself being less and less patient with these people and less willing to let my life be consumed by talking to people who don't know what they're doing. As for the waste of time that is called Voicemail, if I could smash the phone and accomplish anything, I would.

Hopefully (for hope springs eternal) next week will be better.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Inspirations and Quilting Lessons

The other night, while I was watching Top Chef, Masters, they asked the Chefs to create dishes that inspired them to become a chef. So I started mulling that over, and thinking, what inspired me to become a quilter? Browsing through the channels on a commercial I saw it - on some obscure cable channel -- Lap Quilting with Georgia Bonesteel. It all came rushing back to me then. I own her original Lap Quilting book, published in 1982.

The cover is quite tattered and torn now. I used to read and reread it, trying to understand how to make a quilt. I would browse the pages, looking at the diagrams, thinking it was like reading Greek. I didn't know anything about sewing at the time, and had no idea what she was talking about when she referred to grain lines and selvages. Georgia included about 25 pages of "patterns for templates" that completely mystified me. What was I supposed to do with those and why were there all those little marking on the diagrams about 1/4" in from the edge? There was a giant section about "tips at the sewing machine" (which I didn't have) and it shows cutting all these x's on the fabric. I had no clue what was going on. And then there were the dotted designs of stencils - pretty waves, and stars, and interlocking loops. They were pretty, but what was I supposed to do with them? I kept turning the pages and returning to the book over and over.

The thing that kept bringing me back to the book were the photos of the quilts. (Keep in mind, in 1982, Quilt World had black and white photos of quilts in it). I loved the Lemoyne Star quilt at the beginning and the Grandmother's Fan with a ruffled edge. There are multicolored baby quilts and a stunning earth tone log cabin quilt. Then there's a photo of Georgia, sitting on a mountaintop with her Lone Star quilt that is just gorgeous. I don't think I've ever wanted to "Learn" something so badly. I wanted to understand this book. I took a class in sewing first, so I could learn how to use my machine. Gradually, terms like grain lines and selvages made sense to me. 'Seam allowance' accounted for the funny lines on the pages of templates.

Next I took a class in quilting, where I learned how to hand piece a full-size Grandmother's fan quilt. After that I took a second quilting class, where I discovered the techniques of template drawing I had recently learned came in handy. I found it easier to hand piece the project than to try it on the machine (I was still a little afraid of the sewing machine).

My next project, at home, was to make a Dresden plate wall hanging. I was doing fine, until I reached the part where I was supposed to applique around the edges. I couldn't understand how to do that when it was so stiff, you know how something is when you leave the stabilizing freezer paper on the project while you're trying to sew it. My directions hadn't told me how to take the paper out, so it was the loudest, crinkliest wall hanging I've ever made.

When I made that first quilt, the teacher picked out fabrics for us. When I made my second quilt, I took my sons (who were about 6 and 2) to the fabric store with me. Having not much color sense at the time, I asked their opinions. They were so anxious to leave the store, they color coordinated my second Grandmothers fan in about 5 minutes (and did a pretty good job).

Thank you, Georgia Bonesteel, for inspiring me to quilt over 27 years ago. Even though I think I have every book that's out there - I can't let go of this one book - it was the beginning of my love for quilting.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Sunsets and Ospreys

We got back last week from our annual vacation in Stone Harbor. That whoosh of the ocean seems so far away now. The place we stayed was slightly outside of town, and had a wetlands view. We saw some of the most gorgeous sunsets. Each night the sky was bursting with different colors. There was an osprey nest right across from us and the house had a telescope where we could watch it. The first day we saw the mother and father feeding babies in the nest. Then on Sunday, there was a terrible storm that blew the nest to pieces. For a day or so, we weren't sure the babies had survived. But as we kept watch, we saw the baby again (I think they may have lost one) and the mama and papa (now named Chevon and Ian) were stuffing this baby bird with food. It would try to fly and lift about 2 inches vertically and then come back down. My sister saw Ian bring a dead mouse to feed to the baby bird, who was beginning to look like one of the fat birds in "The Kweeks of Kookatumdee" by Bill Peet, about a bird who gets so fat he can't fly. Anyway, by Thursday, the baby bird (Fergus was now his name) finally flew. We saw Chevon and Ian flying with Fergus, teaching him how to circle and flap his wings. Then he would come back to the nest and rest for about an hour. It was all very fascinating and kept us entertained the whole week.

We tried to do some of the jumping photos I've seen on the Internet. We're not always in sync, but it was funny to keep trying.

I have some exciting news though. My niece, Madeline and her boyfriend, Zach (not to be confused with my son, Zack), got engaged at the beginning of the week. The day they arrived, Zach took Madeline to the sailboats (the end of the island) and asked her to marry him. My sister Chrissie, her mom, has known for about three weeks. The rest of us found out about an hour before he asked her. I was completely taken off guard. It's not like I didn't think it would ever happen, but I was just so surprised that it did. When they came back, we celebrated with kisses and hugs all around. Of course there were tears (they're flowing right now just writing this) because I kept thinking how happy my mom would've been to see Madeline get married and it just breaks my heart that she's not here. But I'm so happy for her and Zach, and I will do everything I can to help them have a beautiful wedding.

So it's back to real life this week, with all its' little problems and strifes. All in all, it's really a wonderful life, though, isn't it?

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Shelf paper of life

As I shelf papered my son's new kitchen yesterday, I had lots of time to think, why is it that mothers (and by extension, our daughters) are so adamant about shelf paper and guys don't care about it at all? And while I'm on the subject, why can't they make the stupid stuff so it's the same size as kitchen cupboards? Shelves are all standard sizes I'm sure, and I hate ending up with all these skinny pieces that are useless.

Anyway, I actually get an anxious feeling in my stomach if I think about their cupboards without shelf paper. What is that about? Last year, my youngest son, Zack, had a college roommate who was moving in before him. I took my shelf paper with me, telling Zack that even if the roommate had filled the cupboards it would make me feel better to do the paper. When we got there, I smiled to myself to see that the roommates' mother had already put shelf paper in the cupboards.

When my oldest son, Christopher was in college, he was moving into an apartment, where he and a roommate arrived at the same time. As we unpacked their supplies, the other mother and I both pulled shelf paper our of our bags at the same time, and we laughed. So we split the kitchen and each papered a few shelves.

When I moved into my new house, my mother and sister spent the afternoon shelf papering all my new cupboards. What is it with us women that makes shelf paper seem to smooth out the rough edges of moving in (or moving out)? Why do we obsess over this? Is it a therapeutic way of coming to terms with the baby leaving the nest? Do we just have OCD over the thought of touching a shelf that has touched another person's stuff? And why does it come in such ugly colors???!!!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

New Beginnings

My oldest son bought a house today. The final walk through was this morning and he closed this afternoon on a townhouse he first signed a contract on last August. The economy downturn was a positive for him. The interest rate he would've had last year was 6.5 %. Today he got a rate of 4.75 %. My husband and sons moved all his stuff to the house and he's sleeping there for the first time tonight. I can't tell you how happy I am for him. I wish I could bottle the unbridled joy on his face today, as he was seeing the finished product that is his home, for the first time. He was bursting with pride, seeing all the carpets and flooring he chose a year ago come together to make him a home. As we left him there, I had a hard time not crying in front of him. The words I wanted to say got all bottled up inside. (That always happens to me when good things happen in our family - I can't speak without crying) I am so proud of him, for having such a great start to his independence, in such a beautiful home. I wrote a short note inside a favorite children's book, "Love You Forever" and left it for him. When I read the book this afternoon, I burst into tears.

When he was born, my husband made him a wooden sign with the letters of his name and painted it after we brought him home from the hospital. It's been hanging on his door since he was a baby. Each of his brothers have one too. The tough part came when I took the sign off his door tonight before we left for his house. It was that moment of knowing he won't be back, living in our house. It was hard. I had to go into my room and have a private cry before I was able to take it down. Of course, thanks to his brothers, they lightened the moment by humming TAPS as I took it down.

Here's to new beginnings, Christopher! I love you forever, aw, you know the rest.......

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