Category Archives: animals

Quilts: My First

I started buying the Quilter’s Newsletter Magazine when it came out printed on a mimeograph machine. I collected them even though I was not a quilter. I was a seamstress, I made clothing, including wedding apparel. When we moved from the East Coast to San Jose a group of the ladies in the neighborhood, all from New York, formed a Tuesday night group. We brought whatever handy work we were doing at the time. I did Needlepoint, my own designs inspired by a picture I might see in a magazine.  Sometimes it was from a kit, but kits were expensive. I designed an occasional canvas that my friend Sharon Maher would buy from me.

One of the ladies in the group who kept the shell of an old VW bug in her backyard decided that she alone would bring a renaissance of quilting. I admired that. I thought someday I might be a quilter. With two toddlers I was sure it wouldn’t be anytime soon. I couldn’t even afford to buy a quilt at a flea market. If one was on the side of the road, I might stop for it, but that would be the only way I would own one.

I did love fabric and occasionally for an outing as a family we would ride the train into San Mateo. There was a mall there and in one of the stores they had a bin with scraps of fabrics leftover from silk ties. I learned to make men’s ties. My mother made the boys cute little short sets out of seersucker to wear so any sewing I did was usually for myself.

When we moved from San Jose to San Diego it was small and quiet. There wasn’t much to do and I didn’t know anyone. It was a young neighborhood with a lot of young children. Cheryl Herr lived down the street and in her living room sat a quilting frame. She could make a whole cloth quilt in a week completely hand quilted. She’d shop at K-Mart and buy two twin-sized sheets and a roll of polyester batting. All the furniture would be pushed to the side until she finished the quilt. I was inspired. I was not interested in a quilt made from sheets although her quilts were beautiful. She told me I could do it. Funny thing, I believed her. You have to believe you can do something or it will never happen.

The only place to buy fabric was at Sears. We had two and neither one was close, both were approximately the same distance in opposite directions. One day I was out with my next door neighbor and shopping buddy Barbara Johnson. She acted as my welcome wagon. She would drive me around and show me how to get places. One day we ended up in Escondido at Sears approximately 20 miles north of us. There was a needlework shop to buy threads for my needlepoint and Sears. I had scrap fabrics and an idea. My first quilt almost became my last quilt.  When you say, how hard could this be, you then find out. Putting the top together was not as difficult as sitting and hand quilting the top. It was summer and it was hot. I had a large embroidery hoop on a frame. I would quilt during the day in the sunlight while the boys napped. My quilting time could be very limited.

I limited my pallet which simplified the design process.

I still like this quilt, which belongs to my oldest son.

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Tree Trimming

As I was working in the yard yesterday I kept brushing the top of my head with the branches of the Pepper Tree. I loved when we had bird feeders and so many birds in the back yard. I thought I needed to add more feeders again to attract more birds. As I was trimming the low branches about 18″ I looked above my head. I was either looking at a small bee hive or a bird nest. It looked like a nest of my indoor Finch nests. So I stopped trimming and waited. Sure enough within a few minutes two tiny birds came to the branches with some red-orange food in their beaks. It made me happy that they were comfortable enough with me standing so close to go directly to their nest.

It made me happy to know that these little guys who are smaller than my house finch are making my yard their home.

Riot of Color: Quilts and Cats

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Lazy Saturday, sit in the sun?  The sun is out and the hurricane has passed us by.

It’s time for a pot of chili on the stove. A dinner that allows me more time to work on a project. I got stuck here in a riot of color. When that happens I either go on an adventure looking for inspiration or browse books. Needless to say I didn’t have luck with either. Instead I went back to organizing. When in doubt — try avoidance.

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I worked in my library corner which has become a catch-all. It felt good. I found three bags of yarn. I found a stack of my photography books. Also found some of my favorite quilt books which I took off the shelf and didn’t get put back. It will feel good to get this space organized and also found an idea to finish the joyously colorful four patch quilt blocks.

To be continued . . .

Garden and the Rain



Garden banana peels 002My breakfast banana usually goes into the compost pile. This morning I thought a better use. While planting Johnny Jump-ups the other day I turned over some little red worms. I read that worms like bananas and citrus peels. I decide to chop up the banana skins and take them out to put them directly into the garden soil instead of sending them to the compost pile first.

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I was greeted by dew drops on my Kale leaves.  I always love to see this. More likely they were raindrops from an overnight shower. The temperatures are in the 40 degree mark so it was probably rain.Garden Brussel Sprouts 010

I pulled yellowed leaves off the Kale and Brussel Sprouts and found these little babies.  They are usually tucked in the crook of the leaf but the rain and wind left no leaves as protection. They are little beauties and I hope the weather allows then to survive.  Further inspection showed this surpriseGarden late fall tomato  013 My Roma tomatoes are still blossoming and setting fruit.  They have turned red but they do  not have the sweetness of summer tomatoes. Our weather has been so crazy with temperatures still in the 80s on Thanksgiving.  It was no surprise to see this stunner hiding in the tall grass.Garden mushrooms 009 They are quite possibly just as deadly as they are beautiful.  This is a variety I have not yet seen in my back yard. I love the fluting. to me it looks like a ballerina’s spectacular tutu from Swan Lake.  Best to extract it before an animal gets curious.

Turtle – Turvy – topsey

Stretch was laying upside down in his pen this morning. I was concerned. I righted him.  And I went and got Cedar chips and put them around his pen I thought it might be too wet.

It rained so hard it woke me up.

I went out later to check on him again. He was on his shell again, this time with his neck and legs extended, I thought he might be sick.  That’s when I remembered this is what turtles do to warm up.  The sun is out so I moved him to the center of the yard. Then I moved his enclosure. He looked like he was going to make a hasty retreat, but I got him covered in time.

He is more active than I have seen him in a long while. He is walking around his pen — probably looking for an escape route or maybe just trying to dry out.TTurtle 003

RAIN, Yay, Rain! AND Turtle

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This is a 33 gallon trash can I set under the eaves to catch water and it is full. We got a nice soaking rain once it finally started raining. The gray clouds covered the sky but only yielded a few sprinkles. It wasn’t until it was time for work to let out that the sky opened up. The late news last night said there were 657 accidents on the road.

Son had an appointment downtown and he said as he was driving home a car spun out about 100 feet in front and two lanes over from him. He wasn’t where he could pull over and help and no other cars were involved, so that was good.

Why a picture of Stretch, our turtle?  Well, two weeks ago Dear Husband was cleaning out his turtle enclosure. He set Stretch out on the middle of the yard in the sun. Usually Stretch would bask in the sun and take a walk and DH would put him back in his pen. Well on this particular Saturday DH got distracted and forgot about Stretch. When he remembered Stretch was no place to be found.

Hesitantly he told me the story. What are you going to do, Stretch was free at last?  Nights were getting cooler and I felt he found someplace to hibernate — he’ll show up come Spring.  Well today, not Spring, he surfaced by the old fort. He probably crawled under it and it being a low point took in the yard water flowed in and Stretch came out.

All is well again here on the old homestead.