Tuesday, March 21, 2017

April 1st is the first day of NaJoWriMo, and I’ve signed up to participate. I hope I can remain true and write every day. Some days, it’s easy to sit down and pound out 500+ words, and other days, I sit here and twiddle my thumbs, waiting for my muse to appear.

Several years ago, I belonged to an online art group called “Belle Papier,” which translated in French stood for Beautiful Paper. There were 25+ artists in the group and we each had our own style of art. Mine happened to be mixed media and collage. I still enjoy creating, but now my creations are based on fabrics and color. The site still exists in Facebook, and although it’s no longer active, you can see posts with photos of artist’s work. Belle Papier was followed by “Salon des Muses“, another art group made up of many of the former Belle Papier artists. We missed the camaraderie, the art swaps and discussions that went on, and thus, the Salon was created to fill that void.

I remember the gatherings we held online at Belle Papier — we would meet in a many-storied Victorian house. Some of us would gather in the lounge, sitting in front of a fireplace. We would each describe our view of the room and where we were sitting. I always selected an overstuffed wing-back chair in a corner by the fireplace–close, but not too close. Esmerelda and Etienne (I believe this was their names) were our personal maid and butler. They waited on us, serving drinks, fancy foods or anything we needed. Some members chose to create personal art studios in rooms upstairs, coming down to visit briefly before going back upstairs to create. It was all created in our imagination, and posted in messages on the group’s page. Such fun…

I posted one question to the group a couple of years ago, asking what others did with their collection of artwork created in swaps. I had participated in color postcard swaps, as well as Artist Trading Card swaps. A week or so ago, I happened to be reading a new blog that I found through a friend’s blog, and saw that the writer had a postcard collection. I wrote to her and asked if she would be interested in having my color postcard collection. She responded with a resounding YES! So I went to the post office and picked out a medium size, flat rate box. I filled it to the top with postcards, taped it shut and shipped it off. It felt good to pass the cards along to someone who would appreciate the effort that went into the creation of the postcards. When she received the box, she wrote and thanked me, exclaiming that she had no idea I would have so many. I told her I kept about a third of the postcards, and I was very glad to be able to fine someone to take them. She said she would enjoy going through and looking at each one. The photo is of an Artist Trading Card I created for a swap in June 2014.

This has been a nice walk down memory lane for me. I hope you’ve enjoyed the trip. Be safe, be well, and please be happy. Be sure to tell those you love that you love them.

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Saturday, March 18, 2017

I managed to get a bit of sewing done and then had to make my run to the post office to mail off my Other Quilter’s Treasures swap box and my DNA test. My niece J has had her DNA tested by three different companies, and had a coupon for “23andMe.com” genetics company, so I agreed to do the test. I am curious as to what will show up. From what J says, each individual takes genes from both parents, but no two children will have the same genetic markers, even though they have the same parents. I’m not sure, but I believe my younger sister has also done the DNA test. I wish my other sisters were still alive — I’d push to have them do the DNA test as well.

After the post office, I headed to Home Depot where I purchased two bags of water softener salt and a new Blackberry plant. I allowed the first blackberry plants to go dormant over the winter and withheld water until just this past week. I didn’t know whether that was the right way to treat them or not. When in doubt, play CYA and buy another blackberry plant! If all goes well, the plants that were put in last year will produce THIS year. The plant that I put in today will produce next year in the summer. The good thing about this particular plant is that it is almost thornless. Hooray! And the berries look like they’ll be nice and big!

 

 

Michigan Bulb Co. says:

Ebony King Blackberry — Perfect for Baking a Tasty Treat

Before the hot weather starts, this blackberry produces large, up to 1″ purplish-black fruits you won’t be able to resist. Canes are upright, self-supporting and self-pollinating. Space 5-6′ apart.

I considered buying some bedding plants for the planter box, but then I figured that would make it a bit crowded when the blackberry vines begin to leaf out. So I’ll keep things watered, wait and watch.

Have a good day!

 

 

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Saturday, March 18, 2017

This wasn’t the first train of the day, but it sure was the most colorful. It’s a train of empty boxcars that are headed north to be refilled. It’s the Wine Train, but it’s empty. Ah me… such is life. LOL

The plumber was scheduled to be here at 8:00 a.m. I set my alarm for 7:00 a.m. so I could shower, have the coffee on, newspaper in, and the water softener tank emptied in preparation for the plumber to arrive at 8. While I was out dipping the water out of the water softener tank, the phone must have rung. When I finished and went back inside, my answering machine was beeping. He won’t be here until 11:00 a.m. Arrrgh… I could have slept in!!! LOL Ah me, ah well, it’s better that I got a head start on my day.

One day at a time — I worked on the taxes a bit this morning, and I think I’m ready to meet with the accountant. I’ll call and set an appointment next Monday. I’ll be glad to have it over and done with. Chalk that one off my list!

Carl, my part-time cat loves catnip. I had maybe half a cup of loose catnip left in the bag, and I knew that Carl would be leaving for his new home soon, so last night I made him one final catnip pillow. When it was finished, I took it and placed it on top of the storage box out on the deck. The box sits underneath the window that overlooks my cutting table. This morning, when I went to check to see if it had been moved, it wasn’t there! It was down on the deck, covered with fine blond hairs and dust. Ah ha! Carl must have visited last night after I’d gone to bed.  I’m going to miss him something awful…

Well, I hear my sewing machine calling me. I’ve returned to working on quilts for the Tehachapi Railroad Depot Museum‘s gift shop. The quilt I’m working on right now is a baby quilt, and is actually pre-sold to JP, another volunteer at the Depot. She saw photos of it in one of my previous WordPress blog posts and told me that she wanted to buy it. I got sidetracked in making the baby quilt when another friend asked me to make a quilt for her friend who was in treatment for breast cancer.

I got the quilt for the breast cancer friend finished and shipped off. Then my quilting group was asked to make quilts for families in Mexico. So that put the baby quilt off again. Two quilt tops later, my task list is back on track and I have resumed quilting the baby quilt. I’m half done with it and know what I will do to quilt the large open spaces, so am primed and ready to sew.

JP actually went into the Depot gift shop a few weeks ago, looking to buy the baby quilt. It wasn’t there so she called me to ask if I’d finished it and if I did, had I taken it to the Depot. She thought it had been sold. I told her no, I had set it aside to work on quilts for a friend and for the families in Mexico. I told her when I did finish it, I would make sure it was held just for her to purchase. I’ve even told the gift shop manager that it’s been sold, so she knows it’s not to go onto the shelves with other quilts available for purchase. Kind of nice that I can make things that are so readily accepted by others.

I have two bids to remove the trees that are blocking our view of the train tracks. So far, the prices I’ve received are way more than I anticipated. I have to wonder if a heavy trim would be cheaper. But that just leaves the tree to grow up again and it puts off the inevitable. The trees have mistletoe in them and sooner or later, they’ll have to be removed.

Be safe, be well, and please be happy. I’ve found myself feeling out of sorts for the past several days. I had trouble with one of the tree service companies last week–the estimator failed to show at the appointed time and it’s been a real test of my patience to get an estimate from them. When she finally showed up, the estimate she gave for my neighbor’s trees was high and I came back with a lower offer, asking if she combined the quote for all of the trees, would she be able to match the lower price. I don’t think she liked my asking for the negotiated price and she said she’d get back to me. Now that I haven’t heard back from her, I realize I may have been a bit short with her. But, that said, I have a problem with people who don’t keep appointments and who don’t have the decency to call and let the customer know they’re going to be delayed. Not good. So now I have the option of eating crow and going back to that estimator and saying, what’s your best price? It’s bound to be a difficult moment, all things considered. I failed to remember that I need to be nice to everyone I come in contact with — we’re all fighting battles in life.

Know that you are loved, and be sure to tell those you love that you love them. Love remains after all else is gone…

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Tuesday, March 14, 2017

IMG_0018.JPGCutting a traditional nine-patch block into quarters and then rearranging the pieces to make a new, different looking block is the basis for this quilt top. All quilts will be created with the same pattern, yet they will all appear to be completely different because the fabric will all be different. I don’t know how many quilts will be completed, but if everyone else makes two each, there’s probably going to be around two dozen quilts. That’s quite a gift, as each quilt represents a large monetary investment on the part of each member, along with the time spent cutting fabrics, sewing , layering with batting and backing material, and finally, quilting the layers together. The final step will be to square up the quilt and apply the binding. I like to finish my quilt binding by hand. I machine stitch the binding strip down to the front of the quilt, fold the strip over to the back and hold it in place with clips. Then I begin hand sewing the edge of the binding to the back of the quilt, trying to take tiny stitches so they don’t show. It takes a couple of days to do the binding, and that’s after I turn it in to have someone else do the quilting.

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There’s a considerable amount of time, energy and money invested in these quilts. I hope the recipients know that they were made out of our love for others. They’re a gift for people we don’t know, and most likely, never will know. But that doesn’t matter. Our positive energy is being put out to others, and that’s all that counts. People who receive them will know that someone cares.

I’m a member of several quilting groups on the Internet and I find it fascinating to see the prices asked for completed quilts, and for quilt kits, where all you have are the fabrics and the pattern. I’ve never purchased a quilt kit–preferring to pick my own fabrics and my own pattern. I have bought panels before, however, and do enjoy them.

Robert has an appointment for a CT scan tomorrow of his right kidney. He’ll also have a flat x-ray taken — all in preparation for the laser procedure that will be used to break up the kidney stones in his right kidney. I don’t know exactly when this will be done, but I hope it’ll be done soon so he can recover from it. We’d like to take a short trip in May and I want him healthy when we go.

I had the first Arborist take a look at our trees today. We’ve decided to just have the trees removed rather than paying to have them laced. Lacing will only delay the inevitable, as the trees are infected with Mistletoe and some type of Rust disease, and they will eventually die. The neighbor has decided to have the trees that are too close to her fence removed as well.

Be safe, be well, and please be happy. Remember that you are loved, and that you can never say the words, “I love you” too often. Life is precious and it can turn on a dime — live your life to the fullest, moment by moment.

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Monday, March 13, 2017

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The first quilt top for the families in TiaJuana, Mexico, is finished, and I have one more in the works.  I hope to get it finished by Thursday so I can turn it in to be quilted. Several members of the Loose Threads quilting group here in Tehachapi have a long arm machine and will be quilting these quilts at no charge. It’s all about working together to help others.

My Other Quilter’s Treasures box is all packed up, sealed and ready to be labeled and shipped off to another quilter. It’s a Medium Size Flat Rate box from the post office, and I’ll receive the same size box full of goodies in return. It’s a fun way to change your stash and pass along fabrics that you’ve fallen out of love with. I have to admit that choosing which fabrics to let go of isn’t always an easy thing to do for me. I really enjoy looking at all the colors and designs of fabrics.

I do try to be generous in my selection of fabrics, however, because I have always believed it is better to give than to receive, and you receive ten-fold in blessings for all that you give to others. I’m living proof of the blessing part, because my life is blessed. I used to have a hard time accepting gifts from others — it made me feel beholden to them. But a dear friend, who has since passed away, broke my reluctance to accept, though it still creeps into my thinking at times. It’s the way I was raised…

Today is our youngest son’s 11th birthday!! Happy Birthday Anthony!! Love you to pieces, sweetheart! He’s my crafting buddy — when I played with paper, doing Origami or making cards, he was right there by my side, rubber stamp and ink pad or decorative scissors in hand. Then, when I moved over to creating with fabric, he came to me and said, “Grandma, will you teach me to sew??” I gave him his very own sewing kit, complete with scissors, needles, threads and pins. And then we pulled fabric from my scrap bins. I’ve had to teach him to go to the scrap bins for fabric before going to fabrics in my cupboard. Initially, when he began sewing, I had to watch him because he would help himself to fabrics in the cupboard and be cutting on them before I knew it. I told him that he could have any fabric he wanted out of the scrap bins, but he had to ask to pull fabric from the cupboard. Since then, he’s been very good about not pulling fabrics from the cupboard without asking first. Some day, I hope to teach him how to use the Bernina. It’s a very simple machine and I think it would be a good machine for him to use when he visits.

I can’t believe how our weather has changed! It’s absolutely balmy today, and I have my window and sliding glass door open. Gorgeous weather today!! Robert happened to be looking out at some track maintenance equipment moving up the tracks towards town when he saw a Bobcat strolling across the back of our property. I didn’t catch it in time to get its picture, but maybe next time.

Be safe, be well, and please be happy. Be sure to tell those you love that you love them. Blessings come to us in many ways. It’s being able to re-connect with a long-time friend that you haven’t spoken to in years, or being able to cheer a friend who has been forced to move into a care facility due to a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s. I have to admit that just coming up to a very busy intersection and seeing no cars coming in either direction is a bit of a blessing for me. It makes me feel safe and protected from potential harm when crossing the intersection. I used to tell my older sister that blessings aren’t always huge things like winning the lottery. It’s the small moments in life that make it special. May your day be filled with blessings and memorable moments.

 

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Sunday, March 5, 2017

img_0014Cloudy, breezy and cold. But the sun is shining on the snow-capped hills across the way.

A good day to stay indoors and watch “roundy-round” races on t.v., or to sew.

I’m taking a break here from working on the quilts for the families in Mexico. I was initially confused about how much fabric was required, but thankfully, I had leftover fabric and could go back and cut more strips. The size will be what it is and it’ll be enough after I’ve added my borders to it.

img_0012The fabric combination is growing on me, and I’m thinking about what fabrics I want to use for the borders. I’ll have to go to the cupboard and see what catches my eye.

Meanwhile, I have another quilt in progress — another Disappearing Nine Patch for the families in Mexico, and I have fabrics set aside for the quilt for our friend.

I saw a post on FB this morning about the sewing group in AZ holding a silent auction for their extra sewing machines. I replied privately to the member who had posted a question about the sale and asked if they were actually going to sell the machines as I had bought one previously but had to return it. I told her the whole situation left a bad taste in my mouth for the way things were handled. This time, I’m the odd man out and I can see how those who complained about the sale last time had felt about being left out. It wasn’t anyone’s intention to leave people out of the opportunity to buy one of the extra machines, but that’s the way it worked out. I can see now, that it just wasn’t fair to everyone in the membership. Everyone should have had a fair and equal chance at buying one of the machines.

When I saw that we weren’t going to make it to AZ this winter, I went ahead and ordered a sewing machine online. I love my machine, even with its quirks. Every sewing machine has its own idiosyncrasies, some worse than others. My Bernina is 18 years old and although it’s still going strong, its stitches aren’t as smooth as they used to be. I’ve had it in the shop and either the repairman didn’t do such a hot job or my machine is just getting old. Either way, I’m enjoying my new machine immensely. I wouldn’t mind having one of the machines from the sewing group–they’re Janome’s and they’re quite good machines. I would leave it in AZ and not have to take either of my machines here with us when we go for the winter (hopefully, this coming October!). We shall see…

The living room has gone quiet so I guess the race is over. Since there’s a bit of peace and quiet there, I’m going to get off this computer and go read, “The Magicians” by Lev Grossman. It’s the book that the NetFlix show is based on. I’ve seen the show, so now I want to read the book! It’s kind of neat to discover all the things that got left out of the show.

Be safe, be well, and please be happy. Be grateful for what you have and for what you don’t have. We are blessed… Be sure to tell those you love that you love them.

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Friday, March 2, 2017

A number of years ago I had a web site called “Carol’s Musings.” I posted photos of my artwork (creations in fabric or paper), favorite recipes, and our garden railroad, the Sunset Pacific Ry. The site was built on a Geocities.com framework. Sadly, Geocities went away and I never rebuilt the web site. Instead, I began blogging at various blog sites. Open Diary (OD) was the one I had the longest affiliation with, and when it died, I found myself in limbo–Where to go? Do I even want to write anymore? The friends I had made on OD scattered to the four winds. I’ve managed to reconnect with a few of them — my closest friend, Mage, went to Blogger. I opted to use WordPress. For whatever reason, I couldn’t make heads or tails of the ins and outs of Blogger. I do well enough to keep my WordPress page going! I think those of us who used OD were spoiled but didn’t know it until it was gone.

But I digress… every now and then, I find myself in need of a favorite recipe, and I do a search on the Internet for the archived copy of that web site. I think that as long as I continue to search for it and access it, it’ll live on in the nether regions of the Internet. At least I hope it will. Herewith is a link to the recipes page from that web site.

Robert Update — he saw the surgeon again today , seven weeks post-surgery and the incision is completely healed. He still tires fairly easily. The surgeon said he could drive now, and could ride his bike around the neighborhood, but to take it easy and not do anything too strenuous. He said he didn’t want a hernia to develop at the surgical site. I had forgot that the hernia surgery that took place several years ago was on that same side, so apparently, he’s a bit weak in that area of his body.
After we saw the surgeon, I drove us to Hungry Hunter for a quick early dinner and then across the parking lot to CostCo. I had my rebate check and wanted to spend it!! LOL We walked to the camera display area and looked at the cameras for a bit, then walked to the snack aisles where I picked up a bag of trail mix. Off to the register to pay, and we were out the door. When we got to the car, Robert said he was tired and just wanted to go home. That little bit of walking really took it out of him.
We had a bit of a surprise Tuesday morning when a fire truck and ambulance pulled into our cul-de-sac. The neighbor west of us apparently hadn’t been eating much for the past few days and his wife called 911. It turns out that he’s suffered a brain bleed. He’s in ICU in a hospital in Bakersfield, and is lapsing in and out of consciousness. The neighbors and I gathered there in the street that morning, waiting for the ambulance to leave, and we discussed how we were all getting up there in years, and how this may be the tip of the iceberg for us all. It makes us realize how suddenly our lives can change, and makes us appreciate each moment of our life a little bit more.
Be safe, be well, and please be happy. Life can turn on a dime, so please be sure to tell those you love that you love them.
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