Quilting, Farming, Variety

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

One Down ....

I thought I should let you know that the first cataract surgery was done this morning and it all went well.  Now it's a matter of time to heal.  The last four days I worked hard at getting everything in order around the place: raking hay, laundry, mowing, weed eating, things I won't be doing for a while and the farmer has too much put off on him as it is.  Yesterday was my last day to walk through the chickens.  Today our daughter and son-in-law have come to help the farmer with them.

Thanks for all your kind thoughts and comments for me.  One of life's hurdles...

Charlotte.

Monday, May 1, 2017

The Old Home Place and the Fields

After church one Sunday, I asked my husband to drive past the old home place and the fields where I grew up. Many big houses had been built in what used to be grown-over, wooded land, and houses that at one time were grand, in comparison to ours, now looked run down, and some even boarded up in front.

As the old home place and the fields, so changed now, came into view, I seemed to be grasping for something that couldn't be attained. I wanted to walk in the field where cucumbers and watermelons grew. I wanted to stand in the little pine thicket, once set on fire by lightning. I wanted to sit beneath a cedar at the edge of the strawberry patch and smell the sweetness of the ripe, red berries. I wanted to scrape soapstone from the banks of the ditch by the old garden, and put my foot in the branch where my paper dolls swam and crawdads grabbed eagerly for a piece of fat meat dangling from a string. I wanted to scour the hillside looking for the rocks that made our playhouses, and maybe find a glass mason jar lid from which our dolls had been fed. I wanted to taste the golden molasses, cooked at the old sorghum mill, and roll down the pile of pummies, swarming with yellow jackets and wasps. And most of all, I wanted to be where the old house had been, to see if something of it might still be there.
We drove across the top of Turkey Mountain, and I wondered if the trail we walked every day, to catch the school bus, was still there. I wondered if the sawdust pile and the slabs, on the side of the hill, had rotted away; I wanted to build another "cabin" with the slabs.

At the bottom of the hill, where the fence ran northward, we left the home place behind and came back to the present. I have a different life now; we've made memories, but nothing as profound as those of a little girl running wild and free over that rocky, hillside farm.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Still Waiting

I'm still waiting to have the cataract surgery.  It's been wearing on me, knowing there is so much work to be done on the farm this time of year and I won't be able to help with it.  If the rains hadn't decided to be so plentiful this week, we could have put up the first cutting of hay and I could have raked it as usual.  Also, the chickens will be big and that's definitely work "they" will keep me away from because of the dust and the heavy lifting.  In a month after the first surgery, the second eye will be done, so it may be into July before things can get back to normal.  Our service tech graciously said he would help the farmer with two of the houses; such a nice man! 

On my chart of activities I can do and time after discharge, it says, routine household chores with exception of scrubbing floors (like that was going to happen anyway ~ lol), 1 to 2 days.  But, dental work, 6 weeks.  Yay!!!

I feel ashamed to complain about any of this.  After all, many, many people are going through much more serious health issues.  The trips this requires brings me more angst than anything else.  I'm not used to so much traffic and the hustle and bustle of the city.  Here on the farm we have fire ants which push up mounds of dirt, and when one steps on/kicks the mound, the ants come swarming out in all directions.  When we are in heavy traffic, I say to the farmer, "Someone kicked the ant hill!"

Yesterday was a gloomy, rainy day, and although I usually like such days, I could find nothing to spend my time doing.  I've just about given up sewing until I can see better; ripping out isn't my favorite thing to do.  I can see well enough to crochet, so I'm glad there's a good supply of yarn on hand.  And I can still follow the lines to do paper piecing, but the ink in the copy machine ran out so I couldn't print off more papers.

So, today I cut out an apron to have ready when the time comes.


The kitchen island makes a perfect cutting surface.


I've used this pattern several times for making both misses and child aprons.  And like it says, it's so easy.

Patience ~ that's what I need!
Charlotte

Friday, April 7, 2017

And then...

there were more scraps.  Not fabric this time, but yarn scraps left from the baby blankets I posted a while back.  I used the same pattern but added a small strip of pink to each end of the white blanket, making it a sweet wrap for a baby girl on a winter day.


Thanks to everyone who left encouraging comments for me concerning my upcoming cataract surgery.  No date has been set so I'm just waiting it out,

Have a wonderful weekend!
Charlotte

Friday, March 31, 2017

A little bump in my road of life is happening.  It all started when I went to get my driver's license renewed.  When I was asked to take the vision test, the minute I saw the image I knew I was in trouble.  I kept waiting for those large letters I thought I remembered being on the chart, but they never appeared.  And when I attempted to read them, "E, ? ? ?". the lady told me< "They're numbers." I failed the test, but if I had my eyes examined and got glasses I could get the license.

I was able to get an appointment the next day.  Same chart; where are those big letters?  The doctor flipped different sized lens in front of my eyes and then told me, "I can't do anything for you with glasses."  So I have cataracts in both eyes and will have laser surgery after a physical and more tests.

I don't particularly dread the surgery; I'm a tough cookie, but not so tough when it comes to making the early morning trips to the office.  You see, I'm somewhat agoraphobic, and being away from home makes me very nervous.  I think of things at night and I can feel my insides being tied in knots; then I pray and try to think of my sewing room.  Sometimes I'd like to just fasten the door, work on my projects and not ever have to feel those knots again. 

I had to find a PCP because I haven't been to a doctor since the 80s; I haven't needed to go.  Now the magnets on the refrigerator hold slips of paper with dates and times and I try to ignore them and push it all aside.

It's strange, how years ago I couldn't see up close and had to have glasses to read; now that's changed, I can see up close fairly well, but everything in the distance seems to be in a fog.

Since I'm still able to see how to sew, I'm making things from larger pieces of fabric.

A towel attached to the apron is a handy thing.  I have another apron almost finished.  I've always wondered when my last stitch would be made; hopefully there will be many more ~ and more accurately made.  I may let the blogging sit idle for a while until this has passed but I'll try to keep up with your words.

Charlotte

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Baby Quilt ~ Wild Goose Chase

Remember the box of little scraps left over from the Pickle Dish units?  I asked if there were any bets on what I'd do with them.  Some thought I would make doll quilts  or wall hangings from them.  But all the time I had in mind to make a baby quilt.  So the top is finished and here it is:






Small pieces for sure, and very time consuming to piece, but so worth it.  If you're looking for perfection you won't find it here.  Despite all my pressing, marking, and pinning, not all the points matched at the center squares.   I learned a long time ago, while making doll quilts, mistakes are more visible when the pieces are small; even the width of a thread can throw off the perfect seam.

I took a few clippings from the wastebasket and put them near the bird feeder; maybe a bird will take some for her nest.  For instance, can't you imagine this conversation:  Popa Mocking Bird says to Mama bird as they ready a new nest, "See what I found today for you to use in your nest.  Mama Charlotte laid them out just for us, with only one request, that we sing by the light of the moon when summer comes."





There are many scraps left in the box, but I'm tired of working with small pieces and have a hankering to use a larger piece of fabric for a change.  So, I'll put the lid on the box of scraps and perhaps, just maybe, either get brave enough to throw them away or make a doll quilt.

May your weekend by a pleasant one.
Charlotte


Friday, February 24, 2017

Baby Blankets

My after-supper projects have been finished.


These are two, fast and easy, baby blankets.  Easy, because it is made with two stitches, single crochet and chain stitch.  It would be a perfect pattern for a beginner; I'm not a beginner but I'm all for easy.  Fast?  Well probably for most people, but age is making me slower and besides, what's the hurry.

The instructions leave it up to the person doing the work as to what she wants to use for a border.  I chose a simple shell pattern.  


The yarn used for these blankets was BERNAT baby sport and I used a size 6 crochet hook.  The closeness of the stitches makes the blanket feel almost like a thermal blanket.  The free pattern can be found here: https://www.thespruce.com/easy-crochet-baby-blanket-pattern-978033   If you crochet, give it a try; I think you will be pleased with the outcome.

Have a good weekend!
Charlotte

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

A Bit of Humor

I'm a little short of something to post about this week, so let's settle for a bit of humor.  These are a few clippings from my collection of Frank and Ernest cartoons:










Now it's almost 3:00 p.m. which leaves me about two hours to piece a few Pickle Dish units before going out to do the evening chores.

Hope these give you a smile.  After all, they say "laughter is the best medicine",

Charlotte

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Pickle Dish Blocks

For a few months now I've been working on and off on units for Pickle Dish blocks.  

The Pickle Dish units are basically the same as those which make a Double Wedding Ring except these have points instead of straight ends.  For this reason it is considered to be a difficult unit to piece; however, paper piecing makes it very easy and precise.



The next step is not so easy, and probably won't be precise, when I sew the curved arcs onto a white background.  I've hand pieced two Double Wedding Ring tops in the past, and so I know what to expect.  But after seeing a Fons and Porter show on PBS I have a better understanding of how to use lots of pins and take my time stitching them on the machine.

For the most part I have used small, light colored prints, and when combined with white it looks "light and airy" (an HGTV term, :)  Last week I ordered a roll of twenty seven , 6 x 43" strips in 1930s reproduction prints to give me more variety.  Some of them look and feel almost like the feed sacks Mama used to make little dresses for me.



Always in paper piecing there is some waste when the backs of the pieces are trimmed.  This is my box of trimmings:






Any bets on what I'll do with them?

Have a good day!
Charlotte

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

One of Winter's Projects

I have worked on this baby quilt top on and off for the last few months.  The embroidery work took  a while, probably longer than the pieced circles.   It only measures 32 inches square, smaller than I'd like it to be.  I could piece another straight border, for the sides, like the circles.  Would that take away from the center design circles?  I don't plan to quilt it right away so there would be time to piece more (whew!).  Any suggestions?

Something happened and the pictures are in upside down order; the top one is the fabric I plan to use for the backing.  Blogging confuses me; first, it takes forever with our slow internet service to upload the pictures, and second, I seem to be out of control as to what happens. :)  Can't even sign off at the bottom of the post, :( so, have a good day!  Charlotte



Thursday, January 26, 2017

Back to Work

It was thirty one degrees at 7:40 this morning, with only a glint of morning sun on the fronts of the houses, when  a  semi came rolling in with another batch of baby chickens; 66,400 chirping, yellow balls of fluff.





So, it's time to go back to work.  We've had a three-week break, allowing me time to crochet, embroider, and finish a baby quilt which had been on the frames for several weeks.   Three weeks gave me just enough time to begin enjoying my "off" time.

Have a great day!
Charlotte

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Pictures and Cameras


This week I have started a project of scanning  old pictures from albums: the kind of albums with sticky pages and plastic coverings.  Over the years, most of the coverings have come lose and many of the pictures have come unstuck, falling out when the albums are opened.  I had also taken out a lot of the pictures to use when I wrote my book for the grandchildren.  Mama had given me two of her albums and others to my sister.  There are several pictures with no name(s), and while I remember some of them I want to record the ones I do know.

We didn't have a camera when I was little, so there are very few pictures from my early childhood. The pictures I have were mostly made by relatives who had come to visit my grandma, and some by the local photographer whose office was up a long flight of stairs in a building downtown on Main Street. 



Working with these pictures made me think of my passion for cameras in years past.  ( I wrote about the first camera I had in a post for August 17, 2011, The Camera.)   My sister, Wanda, bought a real camera while she was in high school and  my first real camera was given to me when I was in high school.  We only used black and white film; colored pictures were just too expensive for us. 

When the Farmer and I became seriously involved, we each chipped in $15.00 and ordered a 35mm camera from Sears, Roebuck, which was replaced several years later by a better 35mm, and we were able to make colored slides with it.  We took lots and lots of black and white pictures of our little girls too (duplicates show up everywhere!), especially after the Farmer began developing his own film.  He set up a darkroom in the bathroom and when the two oldest girls were teens, photography became a hobby for them.   (My maternal grandfather had his darkroom set up in his cellar in the 20s and the pictures were printed on postcard sized paper.)

How things have changed in just the last few years!  I now have a small digital camera but I can't take very good pictures with it because of hand tremors.  It has advantages over those first cameras though.  With those first black and white pictures, it might take weeks to complete the roll of film, then the roll had to be packaged up and mailed to be developed, and then returned, only to find some of the pictures were no good.  New cameras give one the option to delete anything she doesn't like.

And now there's the cellphone technology: instant viewing and sharing, even videos.  What can possibly be next?

Whew!  This is long!
Charlotte

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

How Do You Know It's January? (A repost, but true)

That's a silly question, isn't it!  Of course we know!  With deep snow, cold north winds, short days and long nights, we couldn't miss it.  Heavy coats, warm soups and toasty air coming from heaters, quilts piled high on the beds, and good books for reading, all sure signs that "the weather outside is frightful."

But sometimes I feel like if I was shut away in a room with no windows, only a television set, I'd still know it was winter.  Have you ever noticed the onslaught of television ads for diet products when the new year begins?  Wow!  if I used their products or followed their plans, I could lose weight and strut my stuff in front of the whole nation!  And how about the Publishing Clearing House prize?  All that money!  Why I'd never have to set foot in the chicken house again.  There'd be money to use on all the sales of 60%-70% off all those things looked over by Christmas shoppers.  Maybe I'd choose a new car at a reduced end-of-the-year price, or maybe a mattress!

And last, but certainly not least, I would know it was January whenever I saw that terrible looking creature, called a cold, chasing the horrified woman down the busy street!  Just another sign.

Now for me, January means I've gotta work a jigsaw puzzle or two.  When the Christmas decorations go, out come the puzzles.  So, for the last week, while we don't have chickens, and the housework is finished, I've pretty much hibernated and stayed bent over this:


The Quilting Table

I know not everyone enjoys  puzzles; I find it very relaxing and it's better than watching most TV programs.

Stay warm!
Charlotte


Tuesday, January 3, 2017

The Year 2016


When the year 2016 began, I thought it would be interesting to keep a calendar record of the days we had chickens.  I marked off each week with a colored marker and this was the result:







  Overall it was a good year for us.  However, with the growing demand for antibiotic-free products, we felt the results toward the end of the year.  It means we lose more birds but the cost of the utilities remains the same and our work increases.  

We had a very good year for hay, baling around 1100 round bales of good quality hay.  There were  at least 100 calves sent to market.  I missed out on working the cattle this fall; the farmer had three men who came and helped so I lost the job of catching them in the head gate, having ear tags ready, and keeping records on which cow or calf got what.  I like working the cattle; as I have mentioned before, it sends a flow of adrenalin through a person to get right in the middle of them and sort them into different pens.


2016 saw us reach the age of 75, still able to do the work with only an occasional Aleve, and a blood pressure pill for the farmer.  Our oldest granddaughter got married in December and the youngest grandchild turned 18 in November.  How fast they've grown up!

There was plenty of rain, except for one dry spell, to have a good vegetable garden.  I froze lots of purple hull peas, okra, and greens.  The dry spell came just as the corn was putting on ears so there was no corn this year.  The peas, tomatoes, okra and greens continued to produce into October.


I'll leave the sewing room projects for another visit.  Thanks to all who have stopped by to leave a comment even when I was lazy about blogging.  

Charlotte