Monday, April 27, 2009

Signs of Spring

My grandmother, who could quote reams of poetry by heart, always quoted Swinburne at this time of year: "The hounds of spring are on winter's traces."

Spring has been very slow coming this year, and April more like March. But in spite of continuing grey, rainy days, spring is winning. Here are some ferns poking up through the mulch:
And shy bleeding heart buds hiding their heads under the leaves:

The dear little wood violets:
And my mysterious anemone -- given to me many years ago by a friend to transplant to our woods, it disappeared after the first year, only to pop up this year:
I wonder about these little mysteries. One year a showy double white columbine came up near the path, literally from nowhere. We've never seen it again. And our patch of Dutchman's breeches, once as big across as a round dining table, has gradually shrunk to almost nothing. I don't know enough botany to know if this is natural or if we are losing our wildflowers to doubtful progress.

Wednesday I go to The Clearing in Door County for nine uninterrupted days of quilting (uninterrupted if you don't count taking the time for fabulous meals and even better fellowship). If not my favorite place in the world, it's definitely in the running. (There's a Smilebox slideshow in an earlier post of the magic of the place in January.) I'm going to finish all the pieced blocks for the Pieces of Time sampler quilt class I foolishly started in February of 2008; at least they're all cut. And I hope to get sashing around the blocks of a whimsical 4-Patch Posy I started in October.

Finally, if I finish all that, I'll make the 140 blocks for my contribution to the collaborative quilts (Freddie Moran and Gwen Marston) projects we started a year ago. In January 2008, thirteen of us made 130 blocks, divided them into packages of ten for one another. But most of us decided we need a lot more blocks. Another quilter has joined the project, hence the 140 blocks this year. Each of us makes a different block from brights and black & whites. If you haven't seen Freddie and Gwen's book "Collaborative Quilts" it's a treat. Just seeing Freddie's house is a treat. And I covet Gwen's fire engine red Featherweight.

MRI for shoulder over
going to The Clearing!
found my red raincoat

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Homely Things

You know about 'comfort food'? This is my 'comfort reading.' Written by an Englishwoman about fifty years ago, these books all take place in a little village called Fairacre. Nothing ever happens in them, but it doesn't happen so charmingly! It was a gentler time and place, or maybe that's just a myth, but I'd like to think it was so. I grew up in a small town, so I know a bit about what it's like to live where everyone knows everything about everyone else. Not always comfortable. But people knew when you needed help, and usually lent a hand.

Things are rising out of the ashes: Bluebells with buds!

Wildflowers I've never been able to identify! They look white here, but the petals have fine pale blue stripes.

I had some pretty Christmas fat quarters bought on sale, the right size for place mats, and decided to make them up this afternoon. You know how it is -- you don't feel like making Christmas stuff in the springtime, but then they go into the stash and you forget about them until next Christmas -- when you're too busy to make them. And so it goes. Not this time! I'll handsew the bindings on tonight.

flowers rising out of the ashes
a sunny day
a productive day

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

First Annual Bloggers Quilt Festival

Finn, at Pieces From My Scrapbag wrote today about an exciting web event: the First Annual Bloggers Spring Quilt Festival. Participants are to post on our own blogs a photo of our favorite quilt, with brief comments, and then link back to the festival site at Park City Girl Quilt Festival. This is Topkapi:

It's twin size, but would be a wild bed quilt. (It's hanging over our stairs.) The pattern is from Sarah Nephew's Serendipity book, which has guidelines for piecing with 60 degree triangles and diamonds, but gives lots of leeway to do your own thing. I had a blast with this. I worked about ten hours a day for ten days, "in the zone." Even my husband got into it -- he would say "Do you want me to get you a sandwich for lunch so you can keep working?" Since he's normally oblivious to what I do, I took this as a big thumbs up!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Nice Weather for Ducks II

I have had two speeds for a couple of weeks: High and Off. When I haven't been busy-busy, I've been pooped. Holy Week is a marathon of services, prayer watch and vigil. Last week I took Coplan's and another quilt (working title: Rosemaling) to a long-arm quilter in Whitewater, and Kayla's and Bodie's quilts to a long-arm quilter in DeForest. Four quilts almost done!!!

What a cold and rainy spring we're having. This made me smile, though:

Don't you wonder what that was about?

One of the two or three really nice days we've had, the cats and I were able to spend a couple of hours on the porch:

These next two photos are in the wrong order. The second is of the controlled burn we did a week ago. The woods still look like a war zone, but if you look closely at this one, you can see the green blades rising from the ashes. The bluebells and bleeding hearts are coming up too, but no buds yet.

Meanwhile, spring cleaning and other tasks await. Have a happy day.

green grass
good books

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Quick Projects

I have been losing or breaking sock needles with alarming frequency of late, and find myself with but one or one and a half needles when I'm out and about. I decided I needed to carry spares, so I made this little needle wrap:

And I saw a pattern for something called a "mug bucket" for $9.99 (for just the pattern). "Well," says I, "I don't need a pattern for that! I'll figure it out myself" and I did. There are mugs at every quilting retreat, so this will come in handy.

I am culling books, dusting bookshelves and cataloging more of my library. A huge job, but it's time to admit that at 63 and with so many unread books, I'm not going to re-read most of these, and not going to brush up my feeble Latin, French and German to re-read books in those languages. The unread books teeter in stacks on the floor in my study, and need to get up onto the shelves. But what a mess! Until I get the the culled books delivered to the public library for their Friends sale, and to Julian House for their library, there is no place for them except the floor. As I move them around, I have to change the identifier for their location in the online catalog, which is tedious but necessary if I hope to lay my hands on one when I want it. I have such admiration for librarians, who combine a wealth of knowledge with infinite patience. They are my heroes, and for another reason -- in spite of the stereotype of the shy, bookish librarian, they are the ones who had the courage to stand up to the Bush Administration and protect the privacy rights of United States citizens.

A pair of chickadees are cleaning out the wren house, presumably for their own use this summer. The wrens aren't due for a couple of weeks; I wonder what they will think when they find their summer home occupied? Guess I'd better hie myself to the wild bird store and get another wren house. It's getting crowded in the back woods, what with the wrens and the barred owls, and now chickadees nesting back there. But I miss the whippoorwills, who sang us to sleep at night for years, until the suburban sprawl got too close. I don't know what happened to them, or where they went. It saddens me. The world is infinitely poorer for the loss of our wildlife.

Environmentalists working to save wildlife
Librarians, Defenders of the Constitution