Thursday, October 20, 2016

Valley of the Green Giant

Did you know there really is such a thing as the Valley of the Green Giant?  There's even a sign to prove it (although the trees now block much of it).  My father grew up there, in Le Sueur.

The Green Giant, restaurant front, Addam's Family?
Last weekend was his 60th high school reunion.  Sixty.  Wow.  So my parents planned a trip to Minnesota, where we lived for many years before coming to Massachusetts.  I had intended to visit the area for ages, but never quite got myself on a plane.  I was overwhelmed with the what I'd want to do and who I'd want to see, so it was easier to just stay home.  Kinda sad.

My mother said:  come with us.  Well, that seemed reasonable.  My sister came too; it was the first time all four of us were in the state together in 17 years.  I spent much of the weekend with my friends (high school, childhood and an ex-coworker) and visiting old neighbors (along with a tour of our old house!).  We picked the perfect weekend - the temperature was unseasonably warm and the trees were close to full color.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Pig Paparazzo

It was a dreary rainy day on Sunday.  (Which we really needed - the rain was lovely.)  But I spent a cheery afternoon wrangling guinea pigs for Joey of Salem Pet Photography.

Joey breezed in with scenery, lighting and camera.  Then we dug through my sewing room for extra props.  I was excited to use my Singer 99 as background.  What fun!

Boadicea and Wedgwood suprised Joey by returning home by themselves in-between takes.  I would simply put them on the floor and they'd trot back to the cage and up the ramp.  Well, most of the time.  Wedgie considered exploring more of the living room rather than a direct trip home.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Setting Up

I spent an evening getting to know my Singer 15.  It didn't come with a user manual, but I found one online.  I cleaned out the lint and oiled the gears.  Then I read that the motor needed lubrication as well.  It was obvious that hadn't been done in a long time.  What I scraped out was all black and somewhat tacky.  It may explain why the needle doesn't entirely disengage when running the bobbin winder.  I re-lubricated, but it may take some time to spread around.

The goal is to use this sewing machine in my existing cabinet for piecing and freemotion quilting.  It looks promising.  The hinges fit.  The Singer 15 is the same depth as Graduate, although the edges are a little more rounded.  I was a little nervous - the machine stood correctly, but the bottom only made contact on the left side of the cabinet ledge.  It's a lot heavier than the Graduate, and I worried I would damage the sewing machine and the cabinet if it slipped off the edge.  So I widened the ledge on the right side:  half a craft stick screwed into the side of the ledge.  It's enough to assuage my fears.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

A Few More Bowls

Early this year I made baskets, bowls and drawstring bags to purge an odd assortment of clothing and home decor fabric.  (To make room for more quilting fabric, of course.)  I successfully whittled it down to a fistful of fabric. I stumbled across that fistful the other day and thought:  this needs to go.

Some of the fabric was already cut into strips for clothesline bowls; I figured I'd make some more.  The scraps were all different weights and textures, so I wasn't sure if they'd work together.  The pieces were too small or unsuitable for my quilts.  It was bowls or bust.

The purple home decor fabric bowl was first.  It was heavy to work with and hard to wrap around the cord, but ended up looking better than I anticipated.

The second was a truly scrappy bowl:  corduroy, lightweight lining fabric, rayon, a wee bit of cotton.  All dark colors, so they kind of went together.  The uneven material was challenging to sew since it wouldn't feed evenly through the machine.  It was worth the challenge - I really love the result.

I pooled together the remaining blue fabric for the last bowl:  some gabardine, flannel backed satin and really cheap cotton fabric (I liked the color but couldn't bear to sew it into a quilt - it's gawdawful stuff).  Quite the combo!  My machine rebelled stitching this one.  I'm sure it was the humidity, but it may have been reacting to that cotton....  The result is quite pretty.  I like the contrasting textures - shiny and smooth with matte and rough.

That's it for zig-zag stitching for a while.  Time for another round of crumb hexies as I start planning my next quilt.

Thursday, September 29, 2016


For me, Shangri-La occupies a three-to-four mile radius centered on Campground Beach in North Eastham, MA.  A part of me remains there, all year round.  I sometimes forget I'm not whole, until I step to the top of the beach stairs and run into myself, like an old friend.  Hey!  there you are!  Damn, I've missed you.

I spent my childhood summers there, with the freedom to roam the neighborhood, the dunes and the beach all day long.  When I learned to sail (and weighed enough to upright the boat by myself) I could take the sunfish anywhere in the bay (I even made it around the Target Ship while it was mostly intact).  It was like flying.  I spent my college summers working on the Cape; the afternoons were still mine, filled with reading, bicycling and sailing wherever I wanted.  I spent my evenings cooking dinner, baking goodies while listening to stories from my grandmother and vintage radio shows.

High tide, low tide - so much to explore
Perfection.  Magic.  Heaven.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Just One More

One would have thought when I bought my Singer 99 that I'd stop looking for another sewing machine.  Whatever the reason, I left my Craigslist search bookmarked in my browser.  My regular machine had been behaving.*  Yet, I still wanted a real backup machine; one that might fit into my existing table.  It's bad enough I wanted another machine, I didn't need another table and chair too!

Lo and behold, this portable Singer 15 appeared late July.  Not only that, no one else snatched it up when I waited at least two weeks before responding.  To top it off, I got sick for a couple of weeks and couldn't pick it up.  I told the woman if she could sell it to someone else, go for it.  I'd contact her again when I felt well enough to come look at it.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Tomato Treats

Can you see the tomato?  We  know it's here somewhere....
All those tomatoes we've been preparing for sauce resulted in quite a pile of parings.  The bruised and spoiled bits went straight to the compost.  However, all of the bits near the stem were saved for the guinea pigs.

Boadicea is not highly motivated for tomato pieces.  She'd rather have corn husk or bits of cucumber.  But if there's tomatoes right there in front of her, she won't say no.

Wedgwood his far more enthused and will eat whatever tomato is closest to her, even if it's the piece Boadi currently has.  They ended up in a brief standoff when Wedgie figured it would be easier to take from Boadi than to figure out how to manipulate the toy.  Very similar to Boadi's old "wouldn't you like to share that with me?"