Friday, March 30, 2018

Spring Slowly

Michigan Spring, always a back and forth experience, weather-wise.  Cold one minute, 25 degrees yesterday, and today it's sunny and warm, with temperatures in the 50s.   But the snow is finally shrinking away and I've heard rumors that crocuses are starting to pop up, although I haven't seen them myself.  Day before yesterday and again today I took a walk in a sweatshirt.  Yesterday, and again tomorrow, I will need my winter coat.   Maybe that's where the designation "spring" came from, sudden changes springing up on us before the world settles down.   And it will -- the rodents are getting frisky and birds are cuddling up at the feeders.      
One of the nicest things about Spring is the increased light, and -- bonus! -- that light has led to increased egg production for the friends who have chickens, which in turn has led to increased gifts of eggs to me!   I love knowing the people and the chickens who provide my eggs.   And homegrown eggs are so much more beautiful than the grocery store can offer.  I admire each one of them before we eat them, feeling grateful every time.  There are so many wonderful things in my life that I have come to take for granted (shame on me), but somehow the eggs stop me in my tracks every time and remind me how lucky I am.  These days, after listening to the morning news, I often need those reminders.
I have been trying to get my taxes done.    I am such a procrastinator, for no good reason since my tax prep is simple now that I don't make any money or own much of anything.  Still, I have to bribe myself to get it done.   My bribe-to-self these days is the same as other days:  I continue to quilt in between the tasks that need to be done, still using scraps.  
One of these days they will also be quilted and I'll have that to show.   For now, it's just flimsy after flimsy.

The Littles, who are not so little anymore, were on Spring break this week from school.  Yesterday we spent time at a pottery painting place, and at Yogurt Yetti, a perennial favorite, where you fill your own cup with as many flavors of yogurt and topping as you choose.  The kids get crazy mixtures, I always choose mango and pineapple and coconut.    It was good to have some time just being with them.

We even found time to play a board game, a rare treat usually reserved for summer vacation and long school breaks.  This time we played a game that is new to us, Power Grid, which was recommended by one of our 'cooler' relatives in Menlo Park.  Like all the games we play, it involves strategy and a lot of time.   I thought the kids were kidding when they said it would take us about 5 hours to finish the game, but no, they were serious.   Actually, they had played before so we finished in a speedy three  hours.  It was fun, and we will certainly play it again.   
I am driving a lot since my honey can't drive anymore, and the weeks have been full of tasks and mileage, but things are settling down.  At least we hope they are.   We never know how far away we are from the next challenge, so it has been good to take some time to appreciate what we have and a little sunshine.   But lest I forget how fragile life is, I got a gentle reminder from a vanity license plate today that said ARRRR.   It made me laugh, that would have been a good one for me these past few months.   I am hoping for some boring days ahead, what a lovely thing to contemplate.  :)

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Still Scrapping It

With the daylight savings time change, we sprung back into several inches of snow here in Mid-Michigan's middle of the mitten.  It is beautiful here, but has been good weather to stay indoors.  And if I have to be indoors, I might as well be sewing.

I've made three more quilt tops from my scrap pile, and I am finding more hidden pieces of fabric and orphan blocks that I can already see becoming yet another top or two.   Good grief, will the endless hoard of fabric ever end?!  At this rate, I am not sure I'll live long enough to buy fabric of my own choosing for a quilt, but it doesn't much matter.  Every time I start one, I think how disappointing it is not to have chosen the fabric, and every time I end, I am in love with the way it turned out, especially since it feels like I've made something out of nothing.  As of this writing, so far this year, I've donated two full trash bags of fabric and, along the way, I've made 8 quilt tops, all from stash, plus one little rag quilt.  The smallest of the pieced tops so far is a 47" square, and the largest is the size of a double bed.   None of them were started with any real idea of where I was going, which has also been fun.   I just add things on til they look done to me.  And the resulting color combinations, dictated by what's on hand and many of which no sane person would choose, have been delightful to me.

I've sent six of them in for long arm quilting, and will probably keep doing that.   I know that talented friends quilt on their home machines, but I am not confident enough to try that yet.   Besides, I am not impressed (at all) with my Brother, which has constant stitch and tension issues.   I am fairly certain that it would ruin any quilt I tried on that machine since I already have to toss the occasional simple block.  And I love my Babylock, but I keep it pretty much tied up with embroidery projects.   So instead I am spending my children's inheritance on quilting services and hope they like the quilts which are, at least, a little more interesting than most of the junk I will leave behind!    I am really looking forward to seeing the bursts of color in my house in the meantime.   When my sweetie gave me the AccuQuilt gift he said he hoped that I would eventually make a dozen quilts.  In his mind that was a huge number that would  make him feel like he had chosen a really good gift.  In my mind, it would justify the expense.   It is looking like I'll be able to reach that mark sooner than either of us expected.

In other news, my grandson was one of three kids at his school this month to qualify for a chemistry competition and he said that it was a lot of fun; he finished in the top half of the region but not high enough to go on to the state level, and he was happy with that.  So was I, of course.   Both of my grands love school this year, and I love seeing that.     It is amazing for me to see them excited about math and science, neither of which excited me until long after I was out of school.  I never even took chemistry, which was discouraged and called a 'boy's subject' by my high school career counselor who saw it as mostly an opportunity for the boys to mess around and blow things up.   My grands both continue to play in band (baritone and flute) and orchestra (violin and cello), too, and so of course they get better every year.  The credit goes to their parents, I think, who have always provided the message that it is satisfying to learn things that seem hard at first.   They definitely do make their Grandma proud.  :)

Thursday, March 1, 2018

March On

We've had such a lovely week.  The snowdrops are blooming at my son's house, the grass is visible again, the sun has been shining, the sky has been blue, and we have had temperatures up to 70 degrees.   Today it is chilly and dreary, and we are under a winter weather advisory, with 3 to 6 inches of snow predicted.  It's what we love about Michigan, the weather changes.   On the plus side, we can justify every type of clothing imaginable, because we might need to wear all four seasons in a single weekend.    

My quilting adventure continues, and I have completed my next two quilts-from-stash, numbers five and six for 2018.  No kidding, the AccuQuilt cutter (I have the big electric one), which I would never have bought for myself, has made all the difference.  My productivity has been a surprise to me, since I am, at heart, such a slacker -- quilters will notice how I have learned to embrace my mistakes as "design decisions" rather than do the extra work of correcting them.  

Meanwhile, having made 6 quilts out of my stash without making a dent in the apparent quantity, I have started to cull my fabric in earnest.  This week I filled one huge garbage bag with scrap to donate to a local agency, and I expect to fill several more bags before I am left with a manageable and useable amount.   The scrap I am donating now consists of pieces large enough to make a small zipper/cosmetic-size bag, but not enough to create a consistent colorway.   Later I will move onto the larger scrap pile,  yard cuts of flannel, for instance, that I am unlikely to use now that my Littles are big.  In those days I didn't have a reliable sewing machine and lots of projects never made it to take off.   I hope someone else will find the fabric useful but, if not, the agencies tell me they will recycle it, and that's good enough for me.  The truth of it is that, now that I am making quilt tops, I would like to make one out of chosen fabric, and I can't justify doing that while I am sitting on a ton of perfectly good cloth.

I also made a baby taggie blanket this week, although I have no babies at the moment to sew for.   My sweetie's family has been blessed with three new babies in the past few months and he wanted ideas of something simple he could make for his new grand nieces and nephew, so I created this prototype from an online tutorial, and wish I had thought of it when my own Littles were little!  What a simple idea, and I am pretty sure any baby would love it, although it makes no sense at all to my sweetie.
Meanwhile, life goes lazily on.  My fella is doing well, although life definitely offers him new frustrations and everything moves slower than it used to.  Just finding his socks can be a challenge because his missing visual field, while still blind, is always changing with phantom images.  But he is a trooper and handles it all better than I would.  Sundays are Dominoes days until the end of March, and other days we mostly do as we please.  My sweetie's son challenged us to a game of Trivial Pursuit this weekend, which I failed at miserably, a reminder to me of how rusty my brain has gotten.

The predicted snow will be a reprieve from most of my planned chores, I expect, but I can feel Spring Fever beginning to simmer.  It is (almost) time for me to get a little more energetic after a long, slow winter of slacking.   But not today.  Definitely not today.  Today will be one more day to enjoy hot tea and warm slippers.  Life is good.