Friday, May 30, 2014

Chookshed Party

I'm a long way from Australia but for today I was joining a "retreat," a party, a good time was had by all event hosted by Chookyblue.  She invited anyone who could be at her place in the chookshed personally or virtually.  So, even though this is a busy time of year, a time when we can finally open the windows (and wash them) and mow the grass and clean the flowerbeds and whatever outside chore needs to be done, I promised myself if I spread mulch yesterday I could stitch today.  Now, I know they are all eating chocolate and drinking something with bubbles and so I did, too.  Except my bubbly was a diet coke. 

My serene morning on the porch was broken by construction trucks. You name it, it was here building a house or two next door, putting the road through, digging trenches, putting in energy cables.  There were backhoes, dump trucks (monster ones) cement mixers, cranes, hydraulic hammers, and lots of tanned young men working them.  The noise was unbelievable and I kept having to tell the next truck driving up they couldn't park in front of the mailbox (or she won't deliver the mail) and they couldn't double park, they had to leave me room to get out of the street (even though I wasn't going anywhere).  If I were a four year old boy I would have been in pig heaven today.  But I'm not four anymore and listening to them shouting to each other over the machines and watching them go into the shrubs across the street to pee and .... well, I deserved a day of sewing.

 While this wasn't quilting, it was, technically, sewing.  I spent the morning sipping my bubbly diet coke, eating my chocolate and finishing these two sun dresses for Elizabeth and Adelaide.  They picked out the fabric and I told them I would have them finished this weekend.  I guess they kind of blend into the background.  E. chose butterflies and A. chose kitties.
 I can't really show what I was working on by afternoon on the back porch because it's a surprise for the round robin.  This is as far as it goes, anyway.  There are lots of pieces to this one and I still haven't cut them all out. 
So, yes, I was on retreat today, even if all alone but it was good to give myself permission to do nothing else all day.  And this was a lot less expensive than the other retreats I've been on! 

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The Mockingbird Next Door

The Mockingbird Next Door by Marja MillsFor someone who is "one of those people" who love and reread To Kill a Mockingbird at least once a year, this book cleared up so very many misconceptions about Nelle Harper Lee. I always thought being a recluse meant living as a hermit, having groceries brought to the back door, paying no attention to life outside the curtains. But this book was an eye opener! Marja Mills, a reporter for the Chicago Tribune, somehow managed by just being nice, to befriend the Lee sisters, move in next door and share their life. She was brought into their lives as a friend, someone who could be trusted, and thus given permission to share with the world the life Nelle Harper chose to live after the phenomenal continued success of her book To Kill a Mockingbird.

Miss Mills showed us that Nelle lives, with the protection of the citizens of Monroeville, a public life. She has coffee at McDonalds, goes to the laundromat to do her laundry, eats in restaurants, has friends, feeds ducks, goes fishing and spent half of her time in New York, where she truly felt anonymous.

I loved this book. I saw Ms. Lee and sat in her living room, pushing aside the books and magazines from the chairs, and had her over for morning coffee and discovered why, oh WHY did she not write another book? Why she ran away from TKAM. Why she just didn't understand how this book, the characters drawn from her own life - Truman Capote as Dill, her father as Atticus, her sister Alice as Jem, herself as Scout would take over high school reading lists, and law schools.

Harper Lee has become one of our icons whether she wanted to or not. And she didn't. But regardless, I am so very grateful for Miss Mills and her friendship with the Lee sisters, for gaining the trust of the Lee sisters and for this book that answered so many questions.

Monday, May 26, 2014

First impression

First impressions.  Can you even remember what you thought when you saw some of the big things for the very first time?

The kids were here for a couple of days this weekend. The weather was stupendously beautiful and we went down to the lake.  It was little Michael's very first time to see Lake Michigan up close and personal.
 We got to the bottom of the steps, put him down onto the sand and this is what he saw. I would give anything to know what he was thinking.  He stood there for a long time just staring at this....this....what??
 I think he was thinking a little bit of   "What!!??" and "WOW!"

 Charlie loves to skip stones.  It's his most favorite thing so we taught Michael it was ok to pick up the stones and throw them in.  This was his very tentative first "ok, I'm going to do it now"
 One thing we love about being down here is just letting the kids go off to explore.  We're all around them but not hovering.  They run off, explore, toss stones, build things, dig.

 And when we get tired we walk up about 140 steps and go home.
 Ceci was an expert at putting Grandpa's birthday candles on the birthday brownies.
 There were fireworks at night.
 Next morning the lake was smooth as glass and crystal clear.  Not an everyday thing. The ripple waves of yesterday weren't even present.  It was as beautiful as it gets.  Grandpa and I took the remaining three kids back down for an early morning adventure.

 See? this is what I mean.  Even though Grandpa was just out of the frame shot, Michael can feel like he has the world at his feet on this deserted beach.  Time to think and explore on his own.
 Charlie wanted to build a raft.  We didn't plan ahead so didn't have much in the way of materials.  We did what we could, developed a plan for next time and proceeded to try.  We tied sticks together with long blades of beach grass.  They held, the four that we managed, but there are big plans for twine and longer sticks next time.
Happy Birthday, Grandpa!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Important steps

It's been a week of big important steps around here.  Our Charlie made his First Communion.  I pinch myself when I think how big he's getting.  He had a big day after months of prep and instructions.  The big family party after showed us all what a great little host he's become.

And this morning Adelaide 'graduated' from preschool.  She marches in to Kindergarten next year, a year of all day everyday school with the big kids.
 But I think Little Miss Confident will do just fine.
 Yup.  I think her favorite subject will be socializing!

Consequently there hasn't been much in the way of quilting.  I did a job on my hands lately working out in the yard without gloves so they're cut, scratched and stuck with prickers that I pick out with needles ( a cousin of PH once told me his mother told him to never dig out a sliver with a pin, use a needle.  Aunt Leona said, "a pin is tin, a needle is steel" so I hear that everytime I go digging for slivers and prickers.)  AND one day early this week I went a little crazy and decided to wash the ceiling of the front porch with bleach. It's a big ceiling.  I was out there all morning, just me, a rag, a ladder and bleach in a spray bottle.  I scrubbed, hosed and wiped it dry. 
 It went from this.....
to this.
But oh, my hands!!  So, instead of working with a needle, I've been reading a lot, immersing myself in my annual read of To Kill a Mockingbird.  Also this year I'm reading a review copy of The Mockingbird Next Door, (more on that later) and watching the movie again.  It's a TKAM extravaganza.

I did do some prepping, though.  This is the project I can't wait to tackle.  Last night I cut the background squares, a deep, deep indigo blue, and will start playing with these fabrics for the blocks.  I've been collecting Provence fabrics for years waiting for just the right project and when I saw this I knew I found it.  My finished quilt won't be exactly like this quilt but the applique will be a great project and I can't wait till my fingers heal!

OK, now for MichaelMan.  This little guy is 15 months old.  He didn't get the memo.   I swear he thinks he's 10 years old.
 Charlie was out in the yard during his party playing backyard lacrosse with his cousins and friends. Michael, pacifier in mouth, was right in the middle of the action. He never missed a step and the 8-9 year olds didn't let the insertion of a "baby" into the game stop their game.  Michael was a baby for maybe 6 months of his life.  Look at that stance.

Friday, May 16, 2014

I'd like to introduce you to....

Barb.  This is some of her work.  No, she isn't off her meds, she just likes all of it, modern, traditional, primitive, original design.  Barb is an artist and it shows in her work and her enthusiasm for her work.  Sometimes I think there isn't anything she won't tackle.  I, for instance, shy away from sharp points and lots of piecing and eensy teensy.  Not Barb, she sees it all as part of the whole quilt experience and whereas I will shy away, she will see the challenge.

The exciting news is Barb has joined Blogland!   Please, pour a cup of tea and grab a handful of cookies (who eats just one??) and go visit her blog  In Search of Craft

Monday, May 12, 2014

Mother's Day!

We've had a busy week of bad can that be??!! 

 Last Thursday, our first 80 degree day in the past 214 days,  we went across the state to a Detroit Tiger baseball game with PH's brother and our sister-in-law. 
 We couldn't have had a better day, better seats, better time.  What a treat!
 And because it truly was our first 80 degree day in the past 214 days, we didn't want to let go of it.  We finished the day and a bottle of wine laughing.

Today was Mother's Day and we spent it with a long phone call from our son and a visit from the grandgirls and mommy and daddy.  As is our tradition, one which cannot be changed, after dinner we went to Sherman's for ice cream.

 Yes, indeed, you do see a bowl of hot fudge next to Adelaide. A couple of years ago friends gave us the hint that if you get a hot fudge sundae, ask for the hot fudge on the side so you don't get melty ice cream.  Well, little Miss Adelaide discovered two years ago that if you sit next to Poppa you can dip into his hot fudge because he's a sucker and will share.  Last year she started to ask for her own bowl of hot fudge.  It's just tradition.  And one that cannot be changed.

Grandpa threw a loop yesterday.  He didn't get his own hot fudge.  When he sat down, she eyed him with her 'look'  and when asked if she would share her hot fudge with him she said no.  "I don't like to share it that much."  And she didn't.

 Then, as is our custom, we went to the city beach to play for awhile.
 They love the swings

 And they love climbing the sand hills and playing in the beach grass.  Daddy found a photo opportunity.
Me?  I finished the day, and a wonderful warm, fun weekend on the back porch working on the round robin.  Round three!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014


Good-bye friends

You will be missed.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Good Reads

The quilting has been set aside for a couple of days while I caught up on some reading.  Here's what's been keeping me happy lately:

I knew I would probably like Delicious! just because of the author.   It's not always fair to decide that quickly about a book but certain authors have a reputation and so you can make a good guess about whether to allow them into your life.

This is not a book studded with recipes (though we are teased with a particular gingerbread throughout the book.) Delicious! is the name of a foodie magazine in New York.  Billie (Wilhelmina) Breslin moves there to work at the magazine and this is the story of the people she works with and who become her friends.  Shortly after arriving, the magazine folds and Billie is offered the job of maintaining the problem recipe hotline.  While enduring the boring days she happens upon a cache of letters written during WWII by a 12 year old girl to James Beard.  The letters are hidden very carefully but clues are written throughout a card catalog.  As Billie finds the letters she opens up a whole new world of people into her life.

This story has more ingredients than I thought it would have when I started it. But as I read I saw each new element, each new ingredient in the story added depth to the whole, like finishing something delicious and savoring with your eyes closed what you just tasted. I knew I had truly read something Delicious! and could have licked the plate.

Tangled Lives reveals the hidden fears in all of us.  Where do we belong? Who do we belong with? Are we loved? Are we sure??
What would you do if you opened the door one day and found your past staring you in the face?  Forcing you to deal yet again with a decision made long ago?
An unexpected pregnancy, an adoption, a life, and now they all come together and beg to be dealt with.
What would you do?
I would categorize this one as a 'girl book' but summer is coming on and it would tuck nicely into a vacation bag.

Just plain laugh out loud fun.  If you're a city person and don't own chickens (but secretly would like to), if you're a chicken owning wannabe or if you have a whole flock, this is absolutely just plain fun.  Laugh-out-loud-at-l a.m.-because-you-don't-want-to-stop-reading-this fun.  Your children would love reading this.  Your mother would love reading this.  Your reluctant reader would love reading this.  For pete's sake, even vegetarians would love reading this!