Wednesday, February 27, 2008

I'm Classy

Today I found out that I will begin teaching my first classes on Monday. And I found out that I will be working with higher-achieving students, not the ones in need of remediation! Wow, that is a huge difference. I worked primarily with special education students in my career as a teacher before I retired. I love new challenges, so this should be fun.

And, this weekend begins the online quilting class I signed up for with Pamela Allen through the website Quilters Threads. Bad timing- of course I had no idea I would be getting a new job when I signed up. But I am looking forward to learning some new ideas and techniques from this quilt artist! Here is the description of the class:

Think Like an Artist- Have you made the transition from traditionally designed quilts to ART quilts? Would you like to? Then this is the class for you. There are two parts to every art is the technical expertise of stitching, applique, quilting, blocking, binding. And we all continue to improve in this category simply by making work . The other side ... the ART more ephemeral, as it requires many years of questioning, risk taking and imagination to develop. Pamela has designed a program that will start the student along the road to that development. Students will hone in on the whole process of art making using a series of hands on exercises which focus on the important elements of creativity.

And this additional information is provided on the page about the class:
I met Pamela Allen on an online email list several years ago. She started out making collages out of fabric and this past year, she has been adding intricate quilting motifs that she free hand quilts. She has been doing this on a lower model Kenmore and has just found out that she is the recipient of a new machine from Janome of Canada. Pamela lives in Kingston, Ontario with her husband who is also an artist. Pamela gave me this message to you - I favour a rather informal style where the image is developed as a sort of "stream of consciousness". By that I mean each element grows from what has taken place previously. This attitude works well with my drawing-with-scissors technique, which allows me to put down background, primary shapes with prints and recycled fabrics, and then develop the narrative by additions and reductions depending on how the composition is developing. I have a largish collection of books on folk art, outsider art, and non European art which inspire me. I can relate to the kind of art that is spontaneous and unselfconscious. It’s as if the idea goes directly from the heart to the hand, bypassing the brain and it’s preconceived ideas. Emulating this philosophy allows me to keep an open mind right to the very completion of each project I look for the personal element in art, where the artist seems to have direct knowledge or experience with her subject matter. When I am working, I have to have a personal stake in it to maintain my interest.

Check out Pamela Allen's website to see some of her work.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

My First Day at School

It is hard to go to work at a school when it is not the beginning of the school year. All the procedures are new to me. If you read #7 on my tag list last week, you know I get lost easily, too! So I spent some time today wandering the building. First things first: where is the faculty bathroom? (Hey, I'm 57 years old, that's important!) Everyone has been very nice to me, but no one was ready for me. Turns out I have a roommate! Another retired teacher is teaching remedial reading and math in the same trailer. She just started a couple weeks ago. I think we will get along well, and it is nice to have another adult in the room. I observed all the third grade classes today and met some of the students.

We may divide up the students so that one of us teaches just math, and the other just reading. That would definitely make planning time easier!

Speaking of school-age children, here is a little quilt I made as a challenge at one of the Capital Quilters Guild shows a few years ago. The quilts were donated to one of the public libraries, and they were to illustrate a children's book. I have always loved Island of the Blue Dolphins, so I illustrated the strong female character who was left behind on a Pacific Island when her tribe abandoned it. I don't have any detail pics, but I like the bottom section the best, which represents the ocean life and the dolphins of the title. When I was in San Francisco, I purchased lots of buttons to sew in, which represent fish, sand dollars, etc. This quilt is now hanging in the Southeast Regional Library in Garner, NC.

Monday, February 25, 2008

My First Blogiversary Came and Went

I was just thinking that I had been blogging for about a year. When I looked back at my first post, it was February 24,2007- a year ago yesterday! Since then I have posted 172 times. Thanks to everyone who has stopped by to read my blog, and especially to those that have left comments. It is very encouraging to get feedback, and I cherish your remarks!

It is sometimes a custom to offer a drawing of a blogiversary gift to those who leave comments. I promise I will also do that, but must postpone until a later date. My sewing room is all torn up due to recent painting and re-organizing, and sewing machines in the shop! I will announce a nice give-away when I go back into production!

Today I spent a yawning morning in orientation back to the school system where I worked for 24 years. I am now officially "hired," and will start work tomorrow morning at a nearby elementary school. I am looking forward to working with kids again and being part of the friendly faculty at this school.

Here is an organization tip: I have been looking for pegboard-type solutions for the new sewing room. Wal-Mart has a pegboard starter kit, already finished white, with lots of hooks and connectors. You can configure the four pegboards any way you like. This is much more workable for me than buying a huge pegboard sheet at the big box home improvement store, painting it white, sawing it to fit, and inserting spacers and hanging.

And my $5.00 file cabinet from the side of the road is now rust-free and painted a bright creamy almond color instead of the ugly dull putty. It took a bit of work, but it's done!

Wish me luck tomorrow in my new job!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

What's in Bloom?

Here is evidence that spring is not far away here in the North Carolina piedmont:
One does not normally associate maple trees with blossoms, as they are known more for their fiery display of autumn foliage. But my two red maples are in bloom with lovely red flowers. They are not very showy from a distance, but quite pretty up close.
Here is my first pink camellia. And first daffodil!

How about a nice little cluster of crocus?
I planted a little four-inch pot of rosemary a few years ago, which is now a nice shrub that winters over. It's blooming, too.
When we moved in our house, fourteen years ago, there were no trees in the front yard. Here is a Southern magnolia and a river birch that I planted when they were each about four feet tall. They are facing my neighbor's yard in this photo.

And finally, here is the hemlock tree I planted next to the house on the north side. They normally grow in the mountains where it is much cooler and shadier, but this one has done well in the shade of the house. The little window on top is my new sewing room. I can look down from there and see birds in the hemlock and river birch trees.

Rosemary shrub

Saturday, February 23, 2008

No new quilts, but here is an old one

I finished painting the new sewing room FINALLY! Now I need to start moving in my furniture and storage cabinets. I was really needing a file cabinet for my patterns, articles cut from quilt magazines, etc. I looked at Sam's, a bulk-buy discount store, and the four-drawer file cabinets were $85.00. Naww- too high. On the way home, I spied a putty-colored four-drawer cabinet on the side of the road at this little flea-market type place. I bought it for $5.00! I checked the drawers and they slid in and out just fine. When I got home, I pulled out the drawers and was disgusted to see lots of rust in the cabinet. Oh, well, what do you expect for five bucks! So I have cleaned, steel-wooled, painted with rust remover, and cleaned again. Now there is no rust, but I probably should paint. Tomorrow's job!

Since both my machines are in for servicing and the sewing room is OUT of service, I thought I would feature a little art quilt I did a couple years ago as part of a challenge by the Cyberbee, a group I belong to. Several of us signed up for the challenge, which featured a monthly inspiration such as a poem, song, or piece of music, and one technique drawn from a hat. This one was based on a poem by Maya Angelou called This Winter Day, and the chosen technique was Shiva Paint Sticks. The Shiva Paint Sticks were used to create the orange and green vegetables. I did some woven strips for the background. I like the back better than the front, since I prefer bright colors. Anyway, since many of you are experiencing heavy snow this weekend, here is my version of This Winter Day. The back has the poem written on the hanging sleeve. This little piece is only about 81/2 by 11".

The kitchen is in readiness
White green and other things
Leak their blood selves in the soup.
Ritual sacrifice that snaps
an odor at my nose, and starts
my tongue to march,
slipping in the liquid of its drip.
The day, silver, striped
in rain, is balked against
my window and the soup.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Last Day Off

Today is my last day before reporting back to the world of employment as an elementary school teacher. Monday I have Orientation, and then I finally go to my school on Tuesday. I guess I am ready! I have been trying to get my ducks in a row. My Bernina and Featherweight are both being serviced, my watch is repaired, my car is inspected, my teeth have been cleaned, my hair is cut, so let's go to work!

Saturday I went to a planning meeting for my 40th high school reunion. I went to Cary High School in North Carolina, which is in the same county where I now live. The reunion planning committee has been meeting monthly in Cary. It was so fun to see classmates together again! These planning lunches are very popular- people drove in from as far as Maryland and Asheville, NC. I hope to be able to attend all of the lunches. In the photo I am sandwiched between uber-slim Carol and not-so-slim Wilbert, who was one of the most interesting and humorous lunch attendees. I don't even remember him from high school, but we had a great conversation at lunch!

My new book arrived this week- what an array of inspirational quilts derived from photographs!

Wendy Butler Berns is a talented art quilter. Her method is to enlarge a photo, trace it to make a line drawing, enlarge it to make a master pattern, and make freezer paper templates from it. The freezer paper templates are used to iron on to fabrics. She uses the gluestick technique to turn under the edges. This whole technique is similar to the Sharon Malec patterns I have used for Change of Season and Golden Memories. She has lots of gorgeous quilts for inspiration, as well as some project quilts to make for practice.

This technique works well, but has the disadvantage that the freezer paper is on top of the applique pieces, and you can't see how your fabric looks unless you remove the paper. She offers some suggestions on how to preview your pieces. Great book!

Change of Season

Golden Memories

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

I've Been Tagged

I’ve been tagged by Nancy H at

Here are the rules:
A. Link to your tagger and post these rules on your blog.

B. Share 7 facts about yourself on your blog, some random, some weird.

C. Tag 7 people at the end of your post by leaving their names as well as links to their blogs. Let them know they are tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

Okay, now for seven things I have never mentioned about myself in my blog.

1- I used to slalom water-ski.
2- I was terribly near-sighted until I had Lasik corrective surgery in 1999. Now I only need glasses for prolonged reading or close-up work. (But it made it hard to water-ski when I could hardly see the boat!)
3- I once was almost fluent in French.
4- I love the outdoors. (Okay, maybe you know that!)
5- I have a green thumb. One of my houseplants, a schefflera, has been with me for 24 years!
6- I have taught every grade of public school from K-12!
7- I have a terrible sense of direction. Hard to find my way out of doctor’s examining room, find my car in a parking lot, and I could surely use a navigation system in my car!

No tagging- almost all of the blogs I follow have been tagged already. But if you would like to play along, consider yourself tagged!

Remodeling and De-Cluttering

Here is the look of my sunny, cheerful, future sewing room. I finished painting everything except the inside of the two identical closets. The one window faces east, and there is a beautiful sunny glow in the morning! In my old sewing room, the window faced west, and I was blinded by the afternoon sun. In addition to painting, I packed dozens of boxes and trash bags of stuff that was being stored in the two closets and in the storage space behind the knee-wall. DH helped me carry stuff down from the third floor to the car last night.

And here is Sweet Sue, the Suburu, loaded down with Goodwill parcels in the back seat, and trash dump bags in the back. I had no idea there was so much unused stuff in that room! Bryson, if you are reading this, I did save your baseball cards!

And no, I am not throwing away a case of Jack Daniel''s just a box!

So today, it is off to the post office to mail Bryson his missing wallet, to the Goodwill, to the dump, to the County Schools office to pick up more paperwork, and back to the doctor to get a mini-physical for my employment. Busy, busy!

Monday, February 18, 2008


I have been shoveling my way through the red tape (or choose your own euphemism for objectionable things that must be shoveled) of a large school system, trying to be able to start teaching on February 20. That is the "start date" I was told a week ago. Hmmmn, that is now two days away and I have no letter of employment, no contract, no nothing. This morning, I called HR, and finally heard back from them after 5:00 PM. They said that the delay was because my "Criminal background check" had just come back. Did I mention that they lost the request for the background check that I signed and had notarized at HR more than a month ago? Anyway, now I am scheduled for employee orientation on February 25, to start on February 26.

So, I am trying to complete a big project before I head back to the world of the employed. One of my goals when I retired (in 2005) was to re-organize my sewing room. That still has not been achieved. My sewing room is one of two attic bedrooms that we had finished when we bought our house. Being under the eaves limits your space, but I had definitely outgrown my little room. We just moved the queen-sized bed out of the second bedroom, and I am going to take over the entire third floor! So this weekend I have been painting the first of the two rooms. It is now a sponge-painted peach with golden tones, sort of like the roses in this photo. This is going to become the new sewing room. When I move the stuff out of the former sewing room, I will paint that room as well. It will be the painting room/book room/non sewing stuff room for my projects. I have purchased a work stand with a slanted top to use for fabric painting or drawing. All the paints and books and other non-sewing or fabric stuff will go in here. All my son's remaining belongings from his old bedroom is going to the Goodwill since it has now been more than four years since he moved out. (Speak now or forever hold your peace!)

So, painting and storage solutions will take up most of my week before it's hi-ho, hi-ho time again. Anyone have an alternative to the Koala sewing furniture? I think it is about time that I replace my tote bags and Rubbermaid containers and get something workable.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Sad Joy

If you have been reading my blog for awhile, you may remember that my husband's partner lost his wife Pam to cancer just before Christmas. (A Beautiful Goodbye) Spike called me a couple weeks ago to ask two favors. One was to find a use for Pam's library of quilt books. The other was to ask if I would finish some of Pam's unfinished quilts for him and their two daughters. Wow- I was overwhemed with joy that I could do something that might bring them comfort. And you know I love quilt books. He filled a cardboard carton with her books, and there were only about three that were duplicates of my own collection. I have been reading through these and deciding which to keep. Many of them were bookmarked for certain projects. :( Some I gave to members of my quilt bee, and the others will be donated either to the Capital Quilters Guild library or the public library.

One of the favorites that I kept is called
At Piece With Time: A Woman's Journey Stitched in Cloth. This is a lovely book with watercolor illustrations, many charming and inspirational quotations, and a series of blocks that make up a sampler quilt. The author is Kristin C. Steiner and the illustrator is Diane c. Frankenberger. I had never heard of this book, but highly recommend it as beautiful eye candy and feel-good inspiration. I love the style of the artwork, and have been copying some of the sketches for drawing practice.

The UFO's include a partially finished lap quilt with a golf-themed fabric surrounded by mitered framing strips. It is long and skinny, so it either needs more blocks or borders. She also has made some lovely rose and green blocks, which I will use for something for the girls.

Not that I need more UFO's, but you know I will get these done!

And yesterday, I bought another book because I am trying to learn as many techniques as I can to transfer photographs to quilts. This one is called Photo Album Quilts, by Wendy Butler Berns. I think that I learned of this quilt artist from The Quilt Show. Can't wait to discover her techniques.

Valentines Day Recap

I hope everyone had a nice Valentine's Day. I spent part of my afternoon getting my hair cut, getting my watch repaired, and delivering Jean's quilt to her. I sat and visited with her and Gary for awhile, enjoying my first taste of Vernon's diet gingerale.

When Charlie got home, we exchanged Valentine's cards. He gave me one of the musical ones that plays "You're Still the One" and also brought home two quarts of strawberries and a lovely bottle of red wine. I made a funny card for him that included photographs of Charlie and me as babies and as young marrieds some time in the early 70's. The main idea was that now he has less hair, but still has nice buns! (True!)
Interesting true fact about my baby picture: it was used as the model for an advertisement for Johnson and Johnson baby products! My dad was a commercial illustrator in New York, and often used Polaroid photos of models when drawing or painting people. This time he loaned my modeling services to a friend who had the J&J account!
I also got Charlie an electric toothbrush for our mountain cabin. Before long, we will have all the comforts of home in our little retreat! Another non-traditional Valentine. Last year I gave him a gift certificate to DaVinci's Pork store!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Flowers and Hearts

Happy Valentine's Day to all of you! May you spend your day with someone you love. And here is a special hug for my own personal sweetie, who has now been my Valentine for thirty-eight years!

We had a surprise snow this morning, just a dusting really. But my pink and white camellias are almost in bloom, so maybe we will escape this winter with no significant snow here in the Raleigh, NC area.

Yesterday I finished quilting my friend Jean H's lovely applique quilt. It was so much fun to think what to do in each block. I mostly repeated themes in the top, with folksy-looking flowers, hearts, and birds. Perfect for Valentine's Day!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Time to do the Happy Dance

I am not planning to go to the Machine Quilters' Expo in New Hampshire this year, but I found out today that two of my quilts are! This year, the quilt show was juried for the first time. And this is my first try at entering a juried show. Yippee! I hope someone will take pictures of my quilts hanging in the show. Here are my two babies that will be going on this outing in April:

Carolina Woodland Spring


Something "Girly"


Now I need to remember to add a five-inch sleeve to Something "Girly" since it currently has only the usual four-inch hanging sleeve. That should not be a problem. Last year I was still painting this one a week before its debut at the Capital Quilters Guild Show!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Counting Down the Days

There are eight days left until I go back to work! I think I am going to be in shock when I can no longer lolly-gag around the house all morning. You will probably see fewer blog posts from me. I have been busily completing all the processes that the school system bureaucracy dishes out. Since I have been retired for more than two years, I had to begin the application process all over again. I can look forward to an orientation day (to a system I have worked for 24 years!), TB test, and the ever-popular drug test, a first for me!

Anyway, Jean H. brought me her gorgeous applique top to quilt yesterday. I decided I better get right on it. She wanted wonky flowers, hearts, and an informal, whimsical look. That is what I love to do! Each block is different and has loads of cute fabrics and motifs. Here is what I have done so far. Please excuse any basting stitches or hanging threads that have not been trimmed yet.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Busy Days

Lots going on the last few days! First, Thursday night was Quilt Bee night at Cathie's. She outdoes herself with lovely meals instead of just dessert. What a nice evening!

One of my friends brought a lovely quilt top that she appliqued, and wanted me to quilt it for her. Alas, the backing was too small. She took it back home to add some strips.

When I got home on Thursday night, my son and grandson Avery had arrived from South Carolina for the weekend. As you can imagine, I spent every spare minute being Gigi, the grandma name for me that he made up. Bryson had two friends from Virginia also spend the weekend, and they stayed gone most of the time playing golf and frisbee golf. Our son Dave joined them on Friday night, so we had a house full of men. I felt like the homecoming queen! Avery and I went to the park, dug up the weeds out of the flowerbed, and even got the grandpa to walk with us on Saturday and Sunday morning. We walked all through the new roads at the end of the neighborhood. It is very nice back there, but to me there is too much noise from the busy road behind them. Maybe when the houses are built, the noise will be less conspicuous.
This was Avery's face when it was time to leave for home. I probably looked the same. I hated to see them go!

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Baby Couture

Here is my little effort at garment sewing for my grandbaby!

This was so much fun. This one is all flannel. The pattern also has little jumpers, pants, vests, and a floppy hat. I might cut out some different combinations and do some more of these between quilts.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

New Mini-Moos

I recently received a new order of Mini-Moo business cards. The first set had only one quilt image, the "Something Girly" pink one shown here at upper left. This time I got an assortment, each with a slice of a quilt I have made. I gave away all the first ones at the Piedmont Quilters' Guild meeting in January when I was the guest speaker.For the last couple of days, I have done something a little different. I got out my "Little Sprouts" pattern and have been making a romper for granddaughter Lily. I have not done much garment sewing in years, and it is really fun to make something with an actual possibility of being completed in a few days. I am using flannels: blue and green plaid for the pants, teals for the bodice and ankle cuff, red for the strawberries and lining. It is SO cute! But, today it did not feel like flannel was the right fabric. It got so warm outside-a spring teaser. I cannot believe we were dealing with ice last weekend! I spent some time outside, planting some perennial flowers, pulling up a few weeds, even GASP cleaned the green mossy gunk out of the newspaper box out by the mailbox. Then I just had to sit on the deck and enjoy!

Monday, February 4, 2008

Frozen Beauty

We went up to our mountain place on Thursday night, arriving about an hour before an ice storm. When we got up on Friday morning, the world was a fairyland of ice-glazed trees. As the sun came up, it sounded like guns going off as pine trees snapped under the weight of the ice. One came down across our driveway, glancing off our tin roof. That sounded pretty loud! It bent the gutter a bit, but no damage. DSH was able to pull the tree off with a rope tied to our Gator. Then we went for a ride up the mountain on the Gator. Pretty!

Do not worry about this little duck frozen to our pond- it is a decoy!

On Saturday afternoon we took a trip to West Jefferson to visit some friends from college who also have a mountain home in Ashe County. It was so nice to sit with old friends and get caught up. We will probably see more of them in the mountains than we do at home, since our Wake County homes are at opposite ends of the county.We took another ride to the top of the mountain on Saturday night. There was no moon, and the stars were shining so brightly! I saw two shooting stars. I also spotted something I had never seen in the wild...a great horned owl! He was just sitting on a branch of a tree near the Christmas tree farms. He just sat there letting us admire him, blinking in the headlights of our Gators. Then he flew soundlessly over our heads.

Sunday morning, Charlie and I went for a long walk. We went up the road, then up the mountain and across the tree farms, back down and home. My legs got a good workout!

I got about half of the binding done on James' quilt. A great weekend!