Tuesday, April 22, 2014

When in doubt, assemble something . . .

I didn't make a new list. I reviewed the old list and could cross off a thing or two, but there were still things, newer things with higher priorities that I need to add to the list, but as I stared at its caution yellow background, I couldn't remember what they are.

I did have a car to unpack when I got home from quilt camp. I had great aspirations for a same-day unpacking, but I stopped for a movie on my way. I saw "Noah," which I quite enjoyed. (Let's face it, I enjoy anything with Russell Crowe. And doggone it, I just discovered he's younger than my son.) I also did some shopping as I passed through the Little City Down the Hill. That evening, I managed get my suitcase, rolling back pack, and my bedding out of the car and into the bedroom. That's a day or two faster than usual. I got all the quilting stuff into the studio the following day, except for the big plastic project box that lives in the basement.

The to-do list went almost untouched on Tuesday as I went to meetings, but I accomplished one thing not yet entered on the list: lining up a ride the next afternoon back to the Little City Down the Hill to pick up Daughter's car, which has been waiting for me at the mechanic's after getting its smog equipment upgraded for registering it in California.

Thursdays Out at NeedleCrafts revealed friends who've been more productive than I have. Here the gals are admiring an almost-done sweater that Sandy is working on.

Bernice has moved an unfinished object project into a finished object. She made embroidered calendar blocks of Sunbonnet Sue into a baby quilt.

When I got home from quilt camp, there was a box in the living room. By Thursday evening, feeling so nonproductive for the day, I decided to assemble the little between-table (distinguished from an end-table by its modified wedge shape). It gives guests someplace to put down a beverage besides on top of a cat apparatus. I'd been browsing websites trying to find a wildly creative table substitute, but when it came down to it, ordered this one, which will work out just fine.

When I decided to pay a few bills on Friday, I got myself into an unanticipated project -- just what I need. Going back to the end of January, I received descriptions from the Quicken people about terrible deficiencies I would experience if I didn't update my old Quicken to the current version. I usually follow that advice every three or four years. The Old Version is from 2011, so I purchased the 2014. Once I'd completed the update (which involves converting all my old data files to the current version), it didn't look like I was even using the function that was changing, nor am I likely to use its successor. Furthermore, I didn't like the "look" of the new Quicken and the menus were less than clear. Yet, I decided to stick it out.

Then I ran into a "don't like" that broke the camel's back. Once upon a time, I had a little portable brain called a Sony Clié, back when PDA meant Personal Digital Assistant, rather than Personal Displays of Affection. It worked great, except for the battery life. It would give frantic warnings to back it up, because it would forget everything if the battery ran out. There was an SD card for back up in it, but you were in danger of not having it on for its warning. So eventually I replaced it with a Palm Pilot, another PDA, the T|X model. Palm includes a desktop version with all the same info as in the Palm Pilot. Data can be entered in either one and then be "Hot Sync'd." One of the add-on apps that can be sync'd is Quicken. The Palm is now old, in the legacy category, and no one seems to make PDAs any more. I don't happen to want my brain on a smartphone, so that's not an option I'm interested in.

I fell behind hot sync'ing after putting Quicken 2014 on the computer, and when I tried to sync a couple of weeks ago, the Quicken component didn't work. I've stewed about that for those couple of weeks and did enough research to determine that there is no fix. Since I find that sync so important, on Friday I did a print-out of all the checking account transactions done in the new version of Quicken since January, and then it was out with the new Quicken and in with the old. It took part of a couple of days to reenter the checking account data, re-reconcile the bank statements, and re-download credit card into, but it came out slick. I even located a couple of known errors. And it Hot Syncs with the Palm Pilot!

A glimmer of hope

I've seen this kitty in the distance before and have chased it away. It's grown up, and I think it must have a home, so I don't need an extra consumer on the deck. There is another large (large) male with the same coloration but much less symmetrical, so I'm guessing they share bloodlines somehow with Sami. Saturday, it declined to be chased, just hung out on the driveway. Then I began to wonder. Could this be Sami's sibling, the one I believe met with disaster?  I took this kitty's picture so I could go back through the files and compare it to the missing kitty's.

Meanwhile, I drove car around to the side of the house to the door to the basement so I could take the big quilt camp project box down there for storage. I dragged it into the basement and stowed it near the door for next time. I looked at two unopened boxes containing more wire shelving. They have been looking at me. Waiting for the moment.

When in doubt, assemble something. They are very much like the other wire shelving I've assembled for the quilting studio, two tall ones, one with wheels, in granite color; two short ones for the basement, silver (stainless steel? chrome?); and the two new ones in black. They're virtually identical, although they have different manufacturers' names on them and came from different stores. The new one has somewhat easier instructions for assembly by one person, although they all call for two-person assembly. I improvise the second person.

The two new black ones are closest, the silver behind them.

The original photos of the wire shelves were mysteriously unreadable. So I went down later to try again. Meanwhile, the plumbers had delivered a box for the new tankless, instant on hot water heater. It looks so small.

And I found the photo of the missing kitty, the one in the front. Alas, the kitty above is not the missing kitty. Hope is dashed.

Life's little disappointments: gaps between promises and reality

I needed blueberry waffles for my Sunday breakfasts when I stopped at the store the other day. Imagine my delight when I saw these nice ones from Kashi in the freezer aisle. I adore Kashi breakfast cereals and granola bars, which have such nice whole grains and nuts. Don't the blueberries look lush in the picture? The reality is that there is probably the equivalent of one ground up blueberry per waffle. That yields just the hint of blueberry flavor in about one bite. The whole grain waffle itself had the flavor of dry cardboard. (Reserve your suggestions to use fresh blueberries. They're too sweet for me that way, but are just dandy in Eggo's, or whatever it is I usually buy.) 

There remain two things in boxes in need of assembly. One arrived today, the Bissell Featherweight Vacuum. Consumer Reports gave it kudos for picking up cat litter and cat hair. I have a lot of that I go tracking through. And I have a lamp that I bought back early in the room addition project. I admired its lines in the picture on the box and figured I might need it to lighten some dark spot around the house. Next time I'm in doubt about my to-do list, I've always got those to assemble.


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

WARNING: Quilters @ Work, Pt 1

Blogging at quilt camp is getting harder. Carefully cut fabric pieces pile up on worktables, sewing machines whir, colorful blocks go up on design walls. Voices murmur in the background, quilters stroll by the snack table, picking up sweets or veggies and cups of coffee, tea or cocoa, gales of laughter raise the decibel level periodically, actually, more frequently as camp goes on. People are making progress all around me and I move with a speed a snail would beat.

Gosh, people assemble blocks, whip out entire quilt tops, make stacks of crafty quilty items for the quilt show boutique. And I plod along. I've got to get my groove back on. I used to be able to turn it out pretty well. I've got to save blogging for after-hours. But there are no after-hours except for the scant few hours of sleep and two trips daily down to the dining hall for meals.

News bulletin: I walked (as in huffed and puffed my way) to and from the dining hall (up and down the hill) for all meals. No excuses. Perfect weather. Beautiful balmy weather each morning as I'd lean off the balcony in my jammies to assess what the day is like.

I'm home now. Quilt camp is over. Now perhaps I can take a little blogging time.



Up on the design wall

Jeri is making dozens and dozens of tiny
half-square triangles and pinwheels for
a beautiful, subtly-colored quilt.

Colorful bobbin threads

Leslie is doing thread work

She is doing a collection of small pieces for a show at the end of the year.

She painstakingly creates thread textures on the hand-dyed fabrics.

Really cheerful quilt top on the ironing board

Quilters @ Work

I wanted to get a close up of the Leopard Lady's
very dimensional leopard T-shirt. She wanted to
show off her Elvis block. More on that next time.

I'll see you later with some more. It's already after after-hours tonight.


Thursday, April 10, 2014

Quilt Camp Stowaway

Day One

I have a circular driveway (more or less). I drive in one side and park in front of the garage. (Soon I hope to park inside.) To leave, I continue forward in the driveway and turn out on the street. The likelihood of someone driving up behind me is so low I seldom look back before proceeding, except for a brief glimpse in the  passenger side-view mirror.

Perchance I looked in the rear-view mirror as I turned the ignition key and closed my door. And thought I had seen two pointy little black ears pop up behind me.

I whirled around to see this. Sami!

If you've been here before, you've heard Sami's tale, from her capture, through spaying, and then her stormy release back into -- outdoor storms.

With the engine still running, I jumped out of the car and ran around the back to open the tailgate window so Sami could flee. Of course, one sight of me coming caused her to leap forward, up over the baggage in the back seat, over the front passenger seat and down into the maze created there by my chair, standing on its head. She blitzed out my front door, alongside the car, past me and off and away alongside the garage. Her cloud of dust still lingers.

Back to this day's beginning, I'd bogged down in packing, etc, etc, etc, the night before, so woke up early anticipating a couple of hours to finish packing up. That couple of hours is never less than four.

Last minute recharging of only three of the electronics. Others had been done the day before.

The car was packed. This is the real thing, not the substitute of an earlier Quilt Camp packing that I'd put up for Photo A Day on Facebook yesterday. Go ahead, click on it to see it in its full glory.

We can officially arrive at camp at nine a.m. It must have been noon by the time I got there. All the way there, a drive of about an hour and a quarter, I kept thanking my lucky stars that I'd spotted Sami before I got underway. If I hadn't, I wouldn't have dared open a door until I was back at home, as she would have been gone in an instant.

I expected to have to find our camp coordinator to arrange help for me to get my stuff to the upstairs work- and sleeping room, but before I'd even gotten out of the car, I was swarmed by a group of young people, asking me for my room number for my personal items and a name for my worktable. They must have had my stuff sorted and delivered in ten minutes, certainly a record. I told them to leave the blue trunk "1" (upper right corner above). I intercepted the tire chains on time. I have the bag with paper towels and window cleaner in the workroom and an empty car.

A little Easter basket with a pink rabbit and a nice selection of Easter-themed M&Ms greeted each of us at our worktables.

My current project is trying to finish up the 1998 Block of the Month from the Quilt Guild (12 blocks, one themed for each month). I had worked on an applique Santa at last fall's quilt camp. I'm creating the star borders around the edge of the applique portion of the block. I'm making these half-square triangles using the measurements in the directions. Unfortunately those measurements are incorrect. These are way too large to create the border. With a little experiment, I discovered it wasn't necessary to unsew everything I had done. They could be cut down, but that's not a good start to my projects!

There is lots of industry in the room.,

Our first camp meal together is dinner, and most of us walked down to the dining hall through a beautiful, balmy evening. As slowest walker in the group, I walked back solo part of the way. This sturdy bicycle was parked at this tree. I thought at the time that it was tightly chained to the tree, but I don't see that in the photo.

The sun was lowering behind the trees, but there is a deep valley extending beyond the trees, so the sun wouldn't completely set for quite awhile.

There the other walkers go, up the road ahead of me. I will take those stairs on the left -- I think I counted 58 or 68 of them, with a lot of ramp as well -- and I will catch up with some of them at the top, because, as I keep telling them, the stairway is shorter. Way shorter.

Now later still, beyond the valley, the sun is finally setting. I've gone outside to take a picture of "DARK" for April Photo A Day, coming upon the colors of the sunset in their final stages.

Looking in from the DARK outside:

The moon is not as full as it appears here. I cannot hand hold my camera still enough, even leaning with behind and elbow against a wall, not to fuzz a picture of the moon.

More on another day.


Saturday, April 5, 2014

Puddles of Sunshine and Scatters of Rain

As the folks back east (back east to this Californian is anything beyond Colorado) can't wait for severe weather to just shut up, we keep our eyes skyward, hoping that puffy cloud drifting by would deign to drop us a few sprinkles. Or even rain.

The weather has toyed with us for a couple of weeks. Tiny blossoms crowd together to make beautiful flowers on the deerbrush that sparkle in the sunshine.

Underneath the changing skies, the rest of life goes along pretty much as normal: a Soroptimist newsletter that took me much too long to complete, partly owing to meetings, NeedleCrafts, doctors' appointments and a skosh of photography. Oh, and let us not forget participating in the Family Wellness Faire which is put on by Soroptimist. Waiting patiently in the wings, my taxes.

Last week tulips poked out their heads at the Little House where we hold NeedleCrafts. I ran out with my camera for a close shot, capturing pictures of raindrops on tulips and on my lens.

I come home to Chloe in a patch of sunlight, resting her chin on the toy banana.

I see the sunshine outside, but rain is falling on us. I have never successfully photographed rain falling, but I take a stab at it. I don't see it here, despite a clattering rainfall.

I look at the image below, excited that it's showing rain. Bear with me, I'm going to go wild with success. Rain and sunlight.

Out front

Out another window

Sun and rain. There must be a rainbow somewhere. I race outside. The paper delivery guy has not put a raincoat on my paper. Wet splotches on the paper, shadows and reflections.

Rainbow. Exactly where I anticipated it would be.

Water glistening on river rocks that border the driveway...

My damp paper, my sprinkled camera, and I sprint back into the house.

The next morning (perhaps it rained all night but I forget) I had to head to The Little City Down the Hill for a couple of noteworthy doctors' appointments. I've been waiting since the end of October for an appointment with a gastroenterologist to see what can be done for the killer acid reflux I frequently have. (Yes, I've taken just about anything you could suggest to quench that fire. I may be taking all of them simultaneously right now.) The nice young doctor introduced himself by his first name. Before suggesting any treatment he will do an endoscopy of my esophagus and stomach next week. It may sound strange, but I'm excited about it and the possibilities for fixing what ails me.

Later that morning I saw my oncologist (breast cancer) and I am done with treatment! Really, only a tiny pill every night for five years. So little compared to what many go through. Nevertheless, I blame the little pill for achy joints and fuzzy memory, so I'm hoping suppleness and genius will return. When I asked my previous oncologist about that, he said, "You will be five years older, you know." He said it with a twinkle in his eye, so don't anybody get offended on my behalf.

We -- Sister, Brother-in-Law and I -- went to a benefit taco bar dinner Saturday evening and passed this flowery tree, silhouetted against the gray evening sky. I figured it would be too dark when we came out for pictures.

The problem wasn't with the darkness. It was pouring rain. I'd left my raincoat home.

The next morning, the feral cats follow the puddle of sun and huddle together. I'm shooting from a window, away from their food bowl or they would be swarming at the other door. Two of them are aware of my presence . . .

. . . But something attracts their attention in the opposite direction.

The black kitty is heading out as the others contemplate following.

 We were all tantalized Tuesday morning when giant snowflakes drifted down for about an hour but never stuck. It created quite a flurry of comments and sightings on Facebook. But we were promised a better storm for the next day and when I awoke Wednesday morning, little faces were peering in the slider with a backdrop of snow.

They were just hanging out for the day. It looks from the paw-prints in the snow that a raccoon raided their food plate this morning.

Henley looks out the front at the snow.

Sami suns. She runs toward me when I bring out the food now, instead of away, so perhaps I've been forgiven for all that capture-spay process.

Things were clearing off by evening, not many remnants of our snow.

This week, the tulips at the Little House have opened.


My taxes are underway. I had some hurdles at the start but it looks like there is a way clear, even if I have to file an extension to locate some missing information. And Spring Quilt Camp is coming up before long.

It's time to call it a night.