Thursday, March 26, 2020

We Do What We Do

To carry on.
That's what we do~

It's the end of March.
Around here, it didn't come in roaring like it does some years.
It kinda came in the back door
then surprised us with mid-month snow.
So what do we usually do in March?
Well, in our house, we plan and we plant.
The weather is still a bit fickle
so we dance with it.
Inside, outside, inside, 2, 3, 4.
Outside, inside, outside, 6, 7, 8.
The birds and the breeze provide us with music
as we move about.
(It needs to get back to this orderly state:-))

My summer kitchen has served as a sorting area
for the oddball things left to go through after moving.
Still amazed by how much we collect over the years
and how long it takes to go through it all.
Item by item, it's all being dealt with.
In the interim though, it appears a bit disheveled.
It doesn't help that during the coldest months, 
I let things be as they happened 
so I could get back in where it was warm.
Oh what will I ever do with me?

I've begun straightening here and there as I have a few minutes.
It is getting better, but I still have a ways to go.
I got the last of the lavender cleaned which was a task,
a lovely scented task, but a task nonetheless.
I've finally been hanging laundry back out here
rather then the clothes trees in the house.
That helps the house to seem cleaner.
I know that sounds odd,
but racks of drying clothes appear as clutter in a small home.
It's that time of year when not only can we hang our laundry out to dry,
but we can open our windows and doors
here and there even for a few minutes.
That fresh air is as good for our soul as it is for our system.
It's important that we find our center.
That's a dancing term for our springtime dance we are doing.
I think a good portion of my fine readers have faith.
It's remarkable that in the mignst of chaos,
we can hold our centers,
keep our homes,
comfort our kin,
and carry on.
Faith is the opposite of fear.
So it's reasonable that if we have faith,
we are without fear.
We all have fear, you say?
Perhaps, just perhaps, those are the areas 
in which we need to find our faith.
It sure is a relief to know that we have the most powerful weapon
for combating those fears.
So we can continue to do as we do
and dance as we do with Mother Nature 
while the weather if fickle.
The birds and the breeze still sing.
Let's plan and plant, shall we?
2, 3, 4.
6, 7, 8.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020


The flow of rhythm~
The dependability of routine~
The harmony of ritual~
(Baby thyme sprouting - so hopeful.)

There are times when the waters get rough
or the road gets rocky.
I suppose it depends if you are sea faring
or a land lover.
Usually those rough and rocky times are due
to the unknown and all the "what-ifs" presented.
When there are situations out of our control,
it serves as a comfort to do those things you can control.

Many folks have lost sight of Home.
Not of their house or the avenues that lead
to and from the places they go,
but a real Home.
I prefer to see our current times
not as a time to panic,
but as the straightening a crooked picture
or righting an upturned vessel.
Perhaps the pendulum is moving a little bit back towards center.
That's a good thing, right?
It's not enjoyable to see people upset,
but it might be like when children don't understand
when something good is coming from the current unpleasant situation.
It might be difficult to begin a new exercise routine,
but after a time
we come to find comfort in the routine of it.
We are creatures of habit
who have veered far from healthy norms.
Perhaps Home will once again become our center.

There are things we can count on
and we should focus on those things
when life gets shaky.
We know we need to eat.
This is nothing new.
We've been doing it all our lives.
What might be new is how we go about providing
for that necessity.
Think first of what you know and build on that.
What meals do you know how to make?
What other meals do you enjoy?
Also, see what you have in stock
and build on what you have there.
If you have grains or beans,
what might you need to go with those things?
Not to worry, it will work out.

Another thing we can depend on 
is that we will need clean clothes.
Again, we already do this.
Just work it into the schedule.

And a clean and comfortable Home~
Awe yes,
there's that word again.
Look at what you are making.
It's beautiful really.
 You are providing for yourself
and those you love if that's your situation.
We can now find that the seas are calming
and the roads are smoothing out.
What's happening in the world outside
becomes a little less significant
when we can depend upon those things
we know so well.
What happens when we do these things
is we become more aware of what is important to us.
The minutes of our day become uncluttered.
We'll appreciate the rhythm of the washing machine 
sloshing back and forth knowing the clothes are being cleaned.
We'll appreciate the routine of preparing meals
according to time of day and family needs.
We'll appreciate the ritual of caring for our surroundings.
And when we do,
we will once again feel 
at ease. . . .nah,
at Home.

Saturday, March 7, 2020

The $10 Lesson

This is a post I am so happy to share with y'all.
I know at least a good majority of my readers here are good people 
so I know you'll "get it."
In order to share the lesson,
I have to share the story.
Several years ago my mom went through an awful treatment for skin cancer.
She had an equally awful reaction that was life altering for her.
The response of the doctors was,
"That only happens to .01% of people."
She was in pain for quite a while.
The chemical cures they prescribed for the reaction 
by trial and error only hurt her more.
I gave her some homemade lotion to try
which she uses to this day.
She can no longer go outside and has to wear long sleeved UV clothing 
even inside if the sun is shining.
It's been long enough now that we can harass her about being a vampire,
but at first it was devastating
for someone who lived outside and who's therapy was the garden.
Fast forward a few years.
We had a gentleman come into the shop a while back
asking for a fix on the frame of a neat old pickup he recently acquired.
MrLB told him what he would do to fix it and about how much it would be.
We had a big job we were working on and said to give us a call
and we would work it into the schedule in February 
which was fine with the gentleman.
Hubby was just mentioning a week or so ago, that the fella with the pickup never came back.
He said, "I told him how I'd fix it so he probably had someone else do it."
Within a day or two of that statement,
he came into the shop, only we hardly recognized him.
It was the first time he had been out of the house in nearly 3 weeks.
His face looked like it had been beat with knife grass - that grass that cuts.
He explained that he had been in for skin treatment and had a reaction.
Evidently he is also one of the .01%.
After chatting for a few minutes,
it was obvious he had been and was still in pain.
I've made my own lotion for some time now and had a small jar in my desk drawer.
I gave it to him to try.
He called the next day and said he didn't react to it,
and that it actually felt soothing especially to his ears which were particularly painful.
I made him a batch over the weekend and took it in Monday 
which was when he was picking up his pickup.
I put it in a clean peanutbutter jar so he could get his hand into it.
I don't sell the lotion.
It's a Rosemary Gladstar recipe not mine,
and I told him that.
He paid me $10 more than the cost of the ingredients.
I was fine with that - my time etc.
I told him he didn't even have to pay me.
Knowing the pain my mom went through,
I would have made it for him regardless.
Any "extra" money I get throughout the year, I save for quilt show in October.
So I put the money in my little stash.
Then comes the lesson portion ~
A friend who lives in another state lives on a fixed income.
She recently pulled $10 from one allotted fund
to add a little something extra to her granddaughter's birthday gift.
She will be discontinuing her internet soon because she doesn't have the extra money 
and internet is not a necessity.
She is wise with her pennies,
and I respect her for that.
I was only too glad to send that $10 to her with a little note.
As I see it, it's really for her granddaughter.
I know it's not millions but am hoping it helps or at least replaces it.
Today while I was at work,
a woman came in with a jar that held a $10 bill.
It was the gentleman's wife.
She wouldn't let me refuse it.
She said "He had a bee in his bonnet, and I was to have it."
She also said the last two nights he has been able to wear his cpap machine again 
so has been able to sleep and is beginning to feel better.
So I replaced the $10 in my stash.
The thing about all of this, which I already knew deep down
is that I would have made the lotion for him for free.
It made me feel good to be able to offer some sort of help.
It was also easy for me to send the $10 to my friend.
I didn't even think twice about that.
And when generosity feels good,
it's just right and is rewarded on multiple levels.
This really isn't about me,
but each and every one of us.
If we can find a way to give that we genuinely feel good about,
we receive a gift far greater and everyone wins.
I know that - have known that,
but I think it must be easy to get caught up in our daily grind and forget.
Please tell me I'm not the only one who forgets this at times.
So needless to say,
I'm so happy to be reminded of this lesson.
$10 may seem like a silly sum these days,
but it's sure been a valuable lesson.
I hope this little story can help you as well.
Whether we are on the giving or receiving end,
generousity and graditude are just plain good for the soul.
I think we've all been on both sides at one time or another 
which makes it even better.

Friday, February 21, 2020

Tying Knots

Right out the gate, 
I want to share that this post is as much about tying up loose ends
as it is about tying knots.
To me, that's a good thing.

There was a time when knowing various knots 
was an admirable skill.
And it still is though not acknowledged by very many.

As kids, shortly after learning to tie our shoes,
we learned how to tie the bowline.
This meant we could hitch our own horse
and didn't have to ask for help or wait for our parents.
A sense of grown-up independence is an awesome feeling
at the age of 5 or 6.
The other bit we learned about tying a bowline
was that the horse could pull back and tighten it
and it could still be untied.
This was a big lesson about more than a knot
or just tying a horse.
If you take the time to do something right the first time,
later when you come back to it
life will be made easier on all accounts.
Lessons like that seem to be a rarity anymore.
What a shame.
One knot/braid I knew how to do years ago was a spliced hondo.
I could take a few of those loose strands
and weave them back into the rope to make a handy loop at the end.
By knowing that one "knot," I could make a lasso out of just about
any sort of rope, string, or twine.
This enables one to make the easiest halter or harness ever
for critters of all kinds.
I can't even begin to tell you how many times I've used this.
I was just going to grab a pix off the internet figuring there would be plenty.
There were none!
So maybe there are folks who don't know how to do this.
I found a piece of rope and call Rip - our trusty K9 companion.
Put the loop around the neck, then take the tale of the rope
behind the front legs, up and back under the neck loop.
For a halter, put the loop over the muzzle with the knot under the chin, 
tale up around the ears, then back through the loop again under the chin.
Also, do you know how difficult it is to get a picture of the back of a dog
that thinks you called him to play with him?

And strands of a different kind:
Strand ~ 1
Gracie is fixed!  :-)
She actually went no farther than Dr. Hubby.
Since she is in a cabinet, transporting her
with sketchy weather wasn't working out.
She no longer stalls then revs 100 mph.
I was so happy when testing her out.
She's back to the "ol' reliable" Gracie I know and love.
Mrs. Kirksey will be staying until her quilt top is assembled.
She's having a nice time and has completed 88 of the 136 blocks
needed for the top.
More on this soon.

Strand ~ 2
The floods have subsided and any vehicle associated with road
maintenance is in full action across 2 counties.
We just heard yesterday that from 1 rock-pit,
there were 93 semi trucks of rip rap that all went up the river.
That's just in 1 day!
It truly is amazing how such an event can occur,
and we humans march on.
Many folks are now trying to deal with insurance companies
or make life decisions because they did not have flood insurance.
(Many of the places flooded were not in flood zones.)
Again I am so thankful that we have only some hardscaping/landscaping 
issues to address - including replacing some riprap.
Moving water amazes me.
Huge 3-6 foot boulders completely carried away.
PS~ they just got the road between here and work reopened so we don't have to go the zig-zaggy way through town and crazy people.

Strand ~ 3
It's nearly spring! 
Not yet, but nearly.
I feel again this February much like I have in Februarys of the past.
It's that hanging onto winter but looking forward to spring.
Many of you have your seed catalogs dogeared and marked up.
If you are interested in planting by the moon 
or just some good garden advice, 
one book I like is Granny Miller's 'Garden Farming".
I have no affiliation with Amazon or Granny Miller.
I have both of her books and appreciate her sensible straightforwardness.

Strand ~ 4
I am taking a CAD class.
It's going well, but quite the learning curve.
Old dog, new tricks.
I like it, but wow there's a lot to remember: which little icon goes with which function and where to find the 1 of 52(?) drop down menus I'm looking for - oy!
The plan in addition to being able to do our own detail drawings for work
is to be able to design our retirement home.
This will be a bit of a long term project 
since we have a few years before retirement.
I've heard "live with your plans for a year before building."
I like that since in most cases, we are excited in the beginning 
and more apt to overlook something simple that might annoy us later on.
Remember that lesson from age 5-6 - 
do it right the first time.

Do you know how to tie a knot using 4 strands rather than just 2?
Ah now c'mon, you can do it.
It's fun.
Having knowledge even when it's not in use is still valuable.
And, before you think I'm all seriousness and have no sense of humor,
here's a very special sort of knot.
When we were kids, there was occasionally someone who shared
this with us, and we loved it.

Have a beautiful day!

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

And Just Like That. . .

It been quite eventful around here for the past week or so.
I will just begin by saying, we are fine.
Actually, that's part of what makes some of this so weird.
We've been so blessed.
We were able to go skiing with 2 of three nieces on one side,
and thrilled that "young people" were willing to spend time
with us "ol' folk" :-)
Follow that high with the news that a friend was informed
that he won't make it to his 30th birthday
due to a horrific medical condition they don't even know how to treat.
Then the surgery date for hubby's sister was upped
so she went through an extensive surgery.
We were just trying to find our bearing from this roller coaster ride
when the river up the mountain began to flood.
That was Thursday and Friday.
The river hit the highest point in recorded history.
Luckily, fortunately, and gratefully, our place suffered little damage
 by comparison to many others. 
(So much debris)
The water that usually flows at around 1500 cfs
broke the 13,000 cfs mark though,
I'm not sure how accurate the reading was since so much water
was flowing out and in all directions.
It literally rerouted itself in multiple places.
Our house stayed dry, our shop had a trace of wet 
over part of the concrete slab, and 
our yard along the bank is about 10' narrower.
The fence behind the garden that separated our place 
from the neighbors is in our yard.
We stayed away Saturday thinking there would be 
many trucks and large equipment on the road and didn't want to impede.
They were still trying to evacuate people by helicopter.
We did go up Sunday to check on the place.
(A neighbor's driveway)
There were several rock slides with a path 
that was just wide enough for the pickup to go through.
I lit a fire in the stove out in the shop to help it finish drying,
but only had what wood I had brought inside the previous trip.
The rest was washed away.
Once the rest of the snow melts, 
we will have to go up with a tractor and chainsaw.
There wasn't much we could do so went down to a neighbor's
and helped shovel 5-6" of mud out of their garage.
They were also thankful that there was no worse damage.
I think there was hope of being able to begin work
 on restoring power yesterday.
The transformer was still under water as of Sunday.
There is no cellular service up there and phones are also out.
Luckily, most folks up there are at least accustomed to power outages,
but the road is completely gone in places so there is no access by vehicle.
They did get through (can't remember which day) via 4-wheelers.

We had taken several gallons of drinking water in case
any neighbors were running low.
Sheriff's office had already done that which was good.  

The area where we now live also flooded.
Our house was safe, but looking out at the field
behind the house looked like a lake instead of the river.
Most smaller bridges in both areas are gone.
And then Monday, we were back to work.
It somehow seems wrong to carry on 
as if nothing unusual has happened.
I know floods and fires and other natural disasters happen all the time.
I've never felt immune to such things.
The part that's bugged me though is
how foreign I felt in a place that's so familiar.
It changed so much.
Then I thought perhaps there is no place 
here on earth that we are supposed to feel at home.
Perhaps that feeling is reserved for Heaven alone.
Perhaps that's the reason.
A reminder that this is all temporary.
And so we carry on . . .
but with an awakened sense of being,
a gratitude for the day, the breath, the chance,
just like that
it can be gone.

Keep safe and well dear friends.

Friday, January 24, 2020

Preparing a Quilt for Hand Quilting (Video!)

I'm branching out a little.
Sometimes it's just easier to show you
than to write it all out under a still shot.
So this is for "Weedy" who asked about setting up to hand-quilt.
I would love your feedback.
Also, if there is something you have a question about,
feel free to ask.
I might not know the answer,
but can share what I do or offer a resource if I know of any.
There are times when seeing how someone else
does something helps us to figure out what we have going on.

*I called it "stencil fabric" should be "stencil material."
Also, will work on eliminating the sound "uh" from my vocabulary :-)
I actually did my hair and put on make up
knowing I wasn't going to film myself.
I'm a bit camera shy.
If this is a positive way to share information,
I will relax a little "on screen."
Thanks for watching.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Peeling Eggs

How many times have you struggled to peel your hard-boiled eggs?
I think I have tried every tip or trick ever suggested.
I seldom eat them, but Mr. LB loves them-
especially pickled.
I finally got so frustrated that I just thought,
"Forget it.  I'm cooking them like rice."
And guess what?
It worked!
So what I do is:
Place the eggs in the pot single layer.
Cover with water.
Put a lid on the pot. 
(I think this is important and never read or heard before.)
Place on burner, on high for about 7 min.
This is about how long it takes to come to a boil.
Make sure the water has come to a boil.
Then turn down to low for 13 min.
Remove from heat and place in sink
with cold water trickling over the eggs
until eggs are cool-ish (roughly room temp.)
Then peel.
I hope it works as well for you as it has for me.
This has been my process for about the last year.
I wanted to make sure it wasn't just a fluke.

Also, how I make rice~
Rinse rice, then one part rice to two parts water.
Cover and cook on high for 7 min.
then turn down to low for 13 min.
Rice is done and ready to eat.

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Update - Poor, Poor Gracie

Of course, as is usually the case,
almost immediately after posting the last post,
Gracie started acting up with me.
She usually has a jubilant enthusiasm for the project
and pep in her needle.
Several of you commented on her,
so am sharing.
(Poor, poor Gracie)
She had been feeling a little punky for a while.
I did try to nurse her, but I'm not a real nurse.
You see at 102 years old, 
one is apt to feel the years at times.
She will be going to the doctor soon.
There is only one doctor in the area
that is qualified to treat geriatric machines like her.
I expect she will be healed completely 
and ready to stitch for another 102 years
by the time she returns home.
*I'll say this quietly as I wouldn't want to upset her.*
She has all her original wiring!
It's a connection issue she's having.
She won't go then rev and stitch 100 mph!
Makes it difficult to stitch an accurate seam.
(Mrs. Kirksey)
But never fear. . . 
those other machines I mentioned in the last post~
Well, Mrs. Kirksey volunteered to help out while Gracie is unwell.
(Yep, all my machines have names.)

Mrs. Kirksey is a 1922 portable Singer.
She is a smaller model and runs like a dream.
She's 4 years younger than Gracie,
but has more miles.
I purchased her from the "real" Mrs. Kirksey's daughter
when she was cleaning out her mom's things.
I thought it only suiting that she be named after
the woman who put so many miles on her
and spent so much time in her company.
(Bad pix, bit I've left the price sticker on her.)
Her decals are well worn,
but she still has such a beautiful face.
I have every faith in her ability to do the job,
and I will enjoy our time together.
She's a tough ol' gal with a certain charm about her.
She's like the great-aunt you can talk to, because
she's always at ease.
She can listen and still continue working
never missing a stitch.
(Love the scrolled face-plate)
I thought you might be interested
in the sewing room happenings :-)

Editing post to add~
If you have an old Singer sewing machine and would like
to know what year it was made,
here is a link where you can look it up by serial number.

Monday, January 6, 2020

Off & Running

In my last post,
I mentioned that one of my goals is to use my fabric stash.

Now, what I'm about to show you 
might not be for the weak of heart.
I'm actually showing you 
my stash.

Gasp! Cough! Choke!
Yes, I know.
And this is after 3 full car-loads of donations.
You see,
using the vast majority of my stash is only a "small" part of the "big" goal.
It's okay, I'll wait here and give you time
to pick yourself up off the floor after falling over with laughter.
They say laughter is good for the soul.
 I'm just helpin' ya out. :-)
(Flannel backed cozy throw.)
The real goal is to down-size even more.
I mentioned when we moved here that we down-sized by almost 40%.
I had lived up the mountain for 18 years.
My kids were 3 and 1 when we moved there.
There was a lot of "stuff" that's been sorted and relocated.
And as I mentioned in the last post,
that transition, though difficult at times, has been a very good one.
We have absolutely no desire to become minimalist~
just to make that clear.
I see extreme minimalism as reliant and unprepared
which is not something I aim to be.

Backed with
chamois flannel
for extra

But. . . 
Enoughism, I do aim for.
The computer is telling me that's not a word.
Well, it's a word in my book.
We want to keep a good supply of useful items
and things that would be useful in an emergency situation,
but the fabric stash is more than enough.
I don't want to have none,
but I have a small book shelf that 
I'm hoping will eventually house all my fabric.
That's a pretty lofty goal, 
especially considering I don't care for "quick and easy."
I like items that are made well
which often means the old fashioned way - the slower way.
There were actually a couple more totes,
but I've made a little progress already.
I started with some of the simpler and bulkier projects.
That helped to get me started.
Now I'm trying to use up fabrics that 
I don't have an emotional attachment to.
If you need to roll around on the floor in laughter again
after that statement, 
I get it. :-)

(Cowboy quilt, original design, hand quilted, pieced back.)
There are fabrics that are so beautiful in my eyes
that I want the perfect project for them and don't want to just chop 
them up for any ol' quilt pattern.
So, I'm starting with the fabrics that are easier to part with.
I have a feeling it will be a bit like decluttering.
At first just part with the stuff that doesn't matter,
then it's okay to part with the things that we don't use,
then choose favorites among the duplicates, and so on.

A little about how I typically roll with my quilting.
Though I occasionally hand piece,
I usually machine piece the quilts on my 
1918 Singer I call Gracie.
I had over a dozen sewing machines at one time.
I've decluttered and down-sized that collection as well.
I'm down to half-dozen.
That might still sound like overkill to some folks,
but they are each different and they each get used.
Once the top is pieced, I layer it and put it in the hoop
or on the frame depending upon the size.
I prefer hand-quilted quilts to machine quilted.
Machines essentially knot each stitch, and
hand-quilting is a running stitch that from the side
would look like a wave going up and down through the layers.
This allows the materials some "slack."
It's why machine quilted quilts are stiffer and
hand-quilted quilts drape around you - give you a hug.
So, I try to hand-quilt my quilts.
I'm not a professional hand-quilter,
but each one I do gets a smidgeon better.
(Note - there is some beautiful machine-quilting out there.)
 (In real life, the greens really do match.)
 (Current project being pieced: Rob Peter to Pay Paul.  An old pattern that requires scissors to cut out as opposed to a rotary cutter - slower.)
I will need to keep at it and get a lot done 
if I am to attend a bazaar or two next fall.
I also hope to get some smaller quilted items done
so that there will be a variety.
The perk of all this will be as these totes empty,
I won't be refilling them.
They will leave and we will have that much more room.
It sure won't happen over night, but
I'm looking forward to that.
(Next on the frame.)
For now, I'll just keep stitching ~
Weeeell, we'll see what happens come canning season.
Hopefully, I can at least make a good dent in it.