September 11, 2019

On 9/11/2001 I was a federal employee at Social Security Headquarters (a large complex of 8 buildings) in Baltimore County, Maryland. Shortly before 9:30 a.m., as I was pulling into a parking space, I heard that a second plane had hit the World Trade Center. I thought they were talking about small planes, not commercial passenger jets. I remember thinking that two planes was weird. I hurried into the building to sign in and get to my 9:30 meeting.

The woman who sat next to me called in to say she couldn’t get to work from Virginia because something was happening in the Pentagon area. Rumors about planes hitting various government buildings in and around DC ran rampant. Frankly, if they’d hit the right buildings in the SSA complex, it could have dealt a substantial financial blow to the U.S. Hopefully, the current disaster recovery plans will reduce the time required to recover from any kind of disaster.

My branch chief who was also acting Division Director that day stuck her head in and said she was getting the hell out of the office and that we could do whatever we wanted about staying or going. Sometime later an announcement was made that the building was closing and everyone was dismissed. I had to hang around because the tech support people were working on my computer and I had to keep signing in for them. Despite the rumors I never believed I was in danger. Another reason I stayed was so I could stop and pick up some lunch on my way home.

Who stayed to make sure our quadriplegic employee was able to contact his transport people? Remember, the boss hightailed it out early on. Phone circuits were tied up with all the phone calls being made and attempted. Bruce hadn’t been able to contact his transportation to get a ride. Who stayed? Our newest employee who had been there for two weeks and I. I asked Darnell why he hadn’t left. He said he wanted to make sure Bruce was able to get home. If I had any respect left for my boss by that time I lost it that day. In a different division, the acting director insisted on staying until every single employee he was responsible for left despite his employees trying to get him to leave because he had a family. He deserves respect.

I had no idea what was really going on until I got home and turned on the TV. When we returned to work I learned that one of my former co-workers was one of the masses of people walking across the bridge to get home from Manhattan. I wondered where my parents were. Once all the planes were grounded I knew they were safe, I just didn’t know where they were. They were supposed to fly out of St. Louis that day but I didn’t know when. Were they at home? Had they reached their destination? Were they grounded somewhere? I didn’t know and it didn’t occur to them to call me to let me know. I called them that evening and learned that their flight was after the planes were grounded so they went home to Illinois. My aunt was the only person in the family who called me to make sure I was ok. I said I was fine but I didn’t know where mom and dad were yet.

Watching the TV coverage was like watching a disaster movie. I had no connections to New York at that time so it wasn’t real to me. The next week my friend who sat next to me at work told me about her weekend in New York helping to search for her three cousins who were in the towers. One was a John Doe in a hospital, unable to talk; another found under her maiden name in a different hospital; no trace of the third one who worked for Cantor Fitzgerald. Finally, they went to his apartment and got the superintendent to let them in. Rather than call a family member, he left his final message on his answering machine. No trace of him has ever been found. My friend’s tragedy made it real.

My house was near the flight path for BWI airport. The next three days were so quiet with no aircraft in the air except for the military planes making their circuits around the Baltimore-Washington corridor. I was at one end of the loop, my friend in Virginia was at the other end of the loop.

One of my former guild members, Veronica Christensen, was an instrumental part of the 9/11 ground zero flag restoration. Read Veronica Christensen’s story of the flag’s rescue.

No man is an island entire of itself; every man
is a piece of the continent, a part of the main;
. . .  any man’s death diminishes me,
because I am involved in mankind.
And therefore never send to know for whom
the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.

Devotions upon Emergent Occasions
John Donne

I Persisted!

September 5, 2019

Last Friday I decided it was time to lay out the blocks for Good Fortune, the 2018 Bonnie Hunter mystery. When I picked them up I discovered that I had already laid them out into rows that were ready to be assembled. I was a mad woman, sewing since then to get this project ready for quilting.

Everything went reasonably well until yesterday. The top was completed except for stay stitching around the edge.



I substituted purple where Bonnie used blue. I really like the purple and lime green or whatever color green that is together. The orange looked great with them but I wasn’t sure about the red at first but I like it.

Tuesday evening I stopped for the day when the bobbin ran out of thread while I was working on the back. Yesterday, everything that could go wrong did. I started by cleaning out the bobbin area and putting in the next bobbin. When I started sewing the machine made horrible noises and there was an awful mess on the back of the piece. Sigh. Lock the machine, remove the plate, take out the bobbin, make sure the bobbin case is seated properly, insert the bobbin, unlock the machine and try to bring up the bobbin thread. I lost count of how many times I tried this. Each time the top thread got caught underneath the plate.



See where the brown thread is caught in front and to the right, looped around something down there? Yeah, that’s not supposed to happen. I sat there for a while brooding and cussing. I considered giving up and doing something else but I get stubborn from both sides of the family. I was determined to get it working. Eventually, it was happy with the way the bobbin case was seated and decided to make proper stitches.

Finished the seam where the bobbin ran out on Tuesday. Did the final seam for the next piece to be sewn to the back for the quilt. Then realized I had sewn the wrong ends together. Ripped that out and fixed it.

Started to pin the piece to the back. Well, crap. Apparently I misread the ruler and cut a piece the wrong size. Started ripping that out and cut a hole in the seam line of one of the pieces that wasn’t being replaced. Double crap. Now I had two new pieces to cut instead of one. Sigh. Finally got it right and got it sewn on. Now the back was done. Yay!


My signature big block back. I’ve done this for all of the Bonnie Hunter mysteries I’ve done except one. Making the big block is fun!

I persisted and got it done.

I started working on En Provence, the mystery from a couple or three years ago, again yesterday. I wound some bobbins and put a new one in. Then decided it was time to do a deep excavation to see if the missing screw would turn up. The area where the machine sits inside the table really needed cleaning. As luck would have it I found a screw. But it didn’t match the other hinge screw and didn’t really fit. Hmm. that’s odd. I put everything back and resumed sewing.

Somehow I managed to get the middle finger of my left hand under the needle while it was sewing and sliced the edge of the finger. I had always wondered how people managed to sew through their fingers. I’d never done it until I got this machine. This is the second time I’ve done this. I probably need to take for servicing now because this time the needle not only broke but the point somehow went through the plastic bobbin case. Took me a while to get that out. My large hemostat has gone missing somewhere so I had to use the tiny one. At least the needle pieces didn’t fly around like they did the first time this happened.

While I was looking inside the cover to see if I needed to rethread, what to my wondering eyes should appear but the missing hinge screw. Ok. Take out the wrong, ill-fitting screw and put the correct one in. Now I’m wondering where the other screw came from. As Gilda Radner’s character on Saturday Night Live, Roseanne Roseannadanna, said, “It’s always something.”

After all that, I finished the block I started yesterday and quit working. Probably won’t get back to the machine until Sunday. Tomorrow is sweatshop again so will be working on Ladies of the Sea or hand embroidery for Snowmen Will Melt Your Heart. Saturday I’m going with friends to the Maryland Seafood Festival at Sandy Point state park in Annapolis. The weather should be really nice. Last year it was cool, humid and drizzleish.

Anchors Aweigh

September 1, 2019

First, I owe an apology for not responding to those of you who commented on the last couple of posts. No good excuse for that. I do appreciate the comments and I’m sorry I neglected to respond. I’ll try to do better in future. Please continue to leave comments.

As you may know, Polly and I started our journey on Ladies of the Sea in January 2017. Of course, I got behind immediately because I bought a new house later that month and, for the next few months, instead of sewing, was packing and moving. Polly got a little behind when her husband had to have more leg amputations although she managed to mostly keep up despite caring for her husband. She finished her ships quite a while before I did and let them sit a bit while she worked on some other important-to-her projects to let me catch up.

For the last couple of months, I kept finding little things that needed to be done to finish the last of the ships. Soaking to try to get bleeding out. Whoops! There’s a mast that isn’t sewn down. At sweatshop a while back, a visitor to the shop pointed out that some of the embroidery was missing from one of my blocks, noticed while it was laying next to Polly’s. Sigh. Then, I noticed that I had screwed up The Pride of Baltimore II so had to do surgery on the prow. Inking on the horse badge on The Pride of Baltimore II block. At long last the ships have left dry dock.

I finished all the little stuff and got the ships assembled last week so I could have it done for Thursday’s sweatshop session. The shop calls it “Open Studio Sewing Session” or something like that. They laugh when we call it sweatshop.



Polly’s on the left, mine on the right. Polly’s background is showing up a little lighter in the picture than it does in person. It’s a Stonehenge multi-color mottled print. I think mine shows up about right color-wise although it looks pretty solid here. It’s a batik print with spiky, anemone looking things on it. The print shows up a little better in the next picture.



I sewed rows 1 and 2 together and 3 and 4 together. Fortunately, I looked at them before i did the final seam because they had slipped and the vertical sashings didn’t line up the way they should. The pattern calls for cornerstones which would have prevented that problem. But, the cornerstones didn’t do anything for my ships so I used plain sashing which introduced the positioning problem. This sashing is only .5″ finished. The positioning problem is much greater with larger sashing strips with no cornerstones.



This picture shows how I lined them up. I drew a line to the outer edge of the sashing to extend the stitching line. I matched that up with the underneath sashing. I pinned. Even with that, they slipped. After ripping all the stitching out, I got out the glue stick. The second time I glued the two pieces together where the sashings met and pinned the heck out of it. That worked.

Now the border journey begins. We had planned to do some different things with our borders, in Polly style, but, ultimately decided not to go that way. Polly is doing the floral borders from the pattern as designed but on a darker background.

Last year, one of the Row by Row kits I got through the swap group was Whale Dance from Northern Threads in Alaska. I thought it might work as the borders for the ships. After laying it out at sweatshop last week I was afraid it might look too spare compared to the body of the quilt. I didn’t have space to lay everything out at the shop so had to wait until I got home to use the design wall. This is a mock-up to see if it works and testing whether I should just buy 3 more kits with the laser-cut pieces or use my own fabrics and cut the pieces myself. Mine will look something like this:



Linda was over Friday when I put this up. We reluctantly decided that I’m going to have to cut my own pieces. The dark turquoise wave pieces from the kit blend in too much to the background, although they show up more in the photo than in person. That’s why the lighter green and blue fabrics are pinned up there. All the whales have lighter pieces but because they’re so tiny, I only put them on one whale for testing. I’ll be using a black mottled print for the whales and a dirty-white grunge fabric to lighten things up a bit. There won’t be quite as much border background in the final result. These are cut larger to allow for shrinkage from the applique and will be cut down to size before final assembly.

I do like the way the darker border sets off the ships. Polly and I had chosen a really dark border fabric at the beginning but soon realized it was way too dark. I found this piece in my stash and added it to the bin. I think I bought it for a Hawaiian applique quilt. Oh, well, they’ll make more fabric if I ever get to making that quilt. My bin also has another would-be border fabric that is lighter than the first but still darker than this one. I wouldn’t want to go any darker than this one with my very light center background.

Poor Polly. You don’t even want to know how many background fabrics she bought before finding the one she settled on. Where did she find the perfect fabric? It’s the lightest part of the sky with just a touch of the gold in the Northcott Stonehenge panel.


She bought something like 21 panels to get enough of the fabric to piece together for her borders. She’s joking about making her kids and grand-kids Stonehenge underwear from the leftover pieces of the panels. She using the Celtic border from the panels in place of the sawtooth borders. Polly doesn’t piece. I tried to convince her I could teach her to paper piece the sawtooths but she wasn’t having any of it.

I just realized while writing this that the sawtooths are all pointing the wrong direction. They should point into the border, not away from it. No problem, as long as I sew it right when I get to that step.

My remaining tasks are:

  • assemble the 4 compasses
  • make the 64 circles that go on the outer points of the compasses
  • insert the compasses into the background corner squares
  • draw 4 sets of whale dance on fusible (the parts are too nit-picky for me to do turned edge applique)
  • fuse whale dance pieces to the fabrics
  • cut out the whale dance parts
  • fuse the cut out whale dance parts to the border backgrounds
  • stitch the whale dance parts to the border backgrounds
  • sew the inner sawtooth borders to the whale dance borders
  • sew the compasses to the top and bottom borders
  • sew the borders to the body of the quilt
  • sew the outer sawtooth borders to the quilt

Whew! Sounds like a lot of work to do, doesn’t it? I’d better get busy. We’ve got another sweatshop day coming up on Friday. I’m out of SoftFuse so I hope the shop has it. MistyFuse would be good but I really dislike working with it. If you’re not familiar with MistyFuse, it’s very light and doesn’t come with a paper. It’s practically invisible and hard to keep track of once it’s removed from the package. I could fuse it to the fabric, then use freezer paper templates for cutting out the pieces. I’ve never had good luck trying to use parchment paper with MistyFuse as the directions say. SoftFuse is almost as thin as MistyFuse but comes with paper on one side so it’s much easier to work with.

You’re probably wondering what a Polly style border is. Polly loves the odd, creepy, macabre, etc. On her Prairie Flowers quilt (Barbara Brackman book) she added all the creepy crawlies she grew up with in Texas because, she said, “You’re never alone on the lone prairie.” One of the lectures she gives is Quilts that go bump in the night. You may have seen her article a few years ago in Quilter’s Newsletter (I think that’s the magazine it was in.) We each had our own ideas of what we wanted. Here are just some of the ideas we had:

  • ghost of The Pride of Baltimore that was lost at sea in 1986
  • Jules Verne Nautilus
  • giant squid/octopus/kraken
  • mermaid
  • treasure chest with pirate skeleton
  • Titanic
  • sharks
  • Nessie
  • Chessie
  • sunken city
  • Stargate
  • sunken graveyard
  • Moby Dick

Polly had a bunch more ideas. I told her she had too many things for the borders and she needed an entire quilt for everything on her list. It took her a while to give up on the idea but she finally agreed that it wouldn’t work and would detract from the ships we spent so many months on.

Here’s hoping we both have smooth sailing ahead.

On the Road

August 3, 2019

On July 12, Caren, Patty and Linda piled into my car and we went to:


Jenny Doan’s road show was at the Shady Maple Smorgasbord in East Earl, Pennsylvania. Although we left at 7 a.m. for a 10 a.m. show and made good time, we didn’t get there in time to get a good seat up front. We ended up in the back of the middle section. They projected the stage activity to large screens on the two sides so the people sitting there could see what was going on. It was a whole lot of fun. If you get a chance, go. She talks about how they got started, funny things that happened along the way, and does a nice trunk show with brief tutorials. Her husband, Ron, got into the act as well. We chose the second lunch seating so lined up for a photo and a few words with Jenny which is when she signed our programs.

LindaPattyCarenMeJennyDoan smaller

Me, Patty, Jenny, Linda, Caren

They had a Missouri Star Quilt Shop pop-up in the room next door. We all did some damage to our pocketbooks. One of the staff told us they sold out of some things the day before. She was amazed at how much people were buying. Apparently, they’d never sold so much stuff at previous road shows. The eastern U.S. has a lot of quilters who are professionals at shopping.


The fat quarter at the bottom left was a freebie that came right to me when they were throwing fat quarters to the crowd. I wasn’t really looking to get one so was surprised when it practically landed in my lap. I needed a new cutting mat to take when I sew elsewhere so a show special half-price mat was a no-brainer. I got a road show t-shirt and charm. The kit on the top left is only available at the road show and comes in a nice project bag. I got a light gray layer cake (same color, different prints) and, of course, Cat-i-Tude Christmas.


I was happy to see this show special because I wanted the 10″ and 5″ x 15″ rulers. I already have the small 2.5″ ruler but one can always use another. I’ve been using these a lot since that day.

After all that we were ready for lunch at the buffet. I’ve talked about this place before. It is HUGE! The building takes up at least a city block, although it’s in the country. It has not one, but two complete buffet lines as well as various grill stations. It’s not 5 star food but better than some of the other tourist restaurants in Lancaster County. Everyone can find something to happily fill them up.

You’d think we’d head for home after that. You’d be wrong. We headed off north to Burkholder’s in Denver, Pennsylvania. I had printed out 30% off coupons for everyone. We all made use of them. Apparently I didn’t take a picture of my Burkholder’s buy. For the record, I found a dark purple print to use as background with the purple print I bought in Ohio. But, it wasn’t quite enough so I had to find another yard on the internet. I was successful.

Fat quarter bundles were 65% off! Couldn’t go home without some of those. I got a white on white bundle to use as background for Witch’s Night Out (the book I got on the Chicago run) and a black print bundle because good dark black prints are hard to find. So many black prints actually look gray. I also got a bundle of bright solids and yardage of a gorgeous cat print.

From there we went to The Old Country Store. The only thing I wanted here was the Row by Row kit. I also picked up last year’s Row by Row kit.


2018 row


2019 row

We stopped for dinner at Cracker Barrel in York, Pennsylvania on our way home. A successful day all around.



True Confessions

July 22, 2019

My name is Barbara and it has been 8 days since I bought fabric. Hopefully, that won’t change tonight when my guild meets at the local quilt shop instead of the church.

Each summer the Row by Row experience does me in as far as no buy goes. This year I am trying to be much more selective in my choices. But, who can resist this collaborative quilt from 8 shops in the Chicago suburbs?

chicago row

Back in the dark ages of the mid-1970s I lived in Chicago so, of course, I had to have this. All the Chicago things, although some of them arrived after I left. The cheese popcorn should also have caramel popcorn in it – that’s the Chicago mix. I may have to make some adjustments to the design to accomodate that. I meant to ask the store about it but forgot. We’ve got the skyline, the Chicago bean, the Buckingham fountain, the Picasso sculpture, the Chicago dog, the ferris wheel at Navy Pier, deep dish pizza, the beginning of Route 66, a twinkie that I was told represents the Hostess company (because they’re moving headquarters to Chi-town?), and, last, but not least, the 2016 World Series winning Cubs. I used to live a couple of miles from Wrigley Field but never went to a Cubs game. They only played during daylight because the field had no lights. Of course, that’s when I was at work. That changed a while back and lights were finally added. Chicago is also home to the White Sox. I asked if there were hard feelings from White Sox fans. One woman who made the quilt and turned it in as the winner at one shop changed the Cubs player to a White Sox player.

After my visit to Mom and Dad, I drove up to my brother’s in Chicago to collect these 8 kits. One shop was sold out so will send it when their reorder arrives. Surprisingly, my mother likes this design. She thinks quilting is boring and always asks when I’m going to get into something more interesting. After I got home, she asked if I’d gotten everything I needed for this and asked when it would be done. Silly question. Said she’d like to see it. Shocked me to hear that. Guess I need to get on the stick and get started.

Along the way some other things jumped into my bags.



I saw this collection of bolts on the shelf but didn’t want to buy yardage. When I saw they had strips and layer cakes, I looked at the Missouri Star Quilt Company tutorial app to select a pattern to make so I’d know which pre-cut to buy. I decided on May Day Baskets. The yardage on the left is for the outer border. I found 3 potential fabrics for the basket part of the blocks at another store.



I couldn’t decide which one I wanted so I got all three and will decide later. Right now I’m leaning toward the blue in the center. That could change after I open the strip set and see them laid out.

Found these at another store. The left one will be a border for the drive-in movie row I picked up from a swap group or for the Scaredy cats fabric hiding somewhere in my stash. This is the movie row:


Here’s the scaredy cats at the movies fabric.


Maybe I should just cut a good sized piece of the scaredy cats and border it with the Dracula fabric and find something else for the drive-in block.



This is another fabric I picked up on my trip. It was just too pretty to leave on the shelf. It will be a border for the Missouri Star Quilt Company’s Crazy 8s. I’ll make the necessary 10″ squares (non-background) from my stash. Background will be a purchase because I don’t have that much yardage of dark purple I want to use.



Picked up this pattern book at one of the shops. Discovered there’s a quilt-a-long that just started for this one.



And this pattern by Valori Wells. The shop did it in Kaffe Fassett collective fabrics. I liked that a lot better than the cover quilt. I’ve got a ton of KFC fabric, so it was a no-brainer.

Here are most of the Row by Row kits I’ve acquired this summer.

Some of these were in person and some through the swap group. As you can see I also picked up the 2018 kits for a couple of the stores.

At the store with the diner row, I was met by this cute little guy.



His name is Milo and he is 9 months old. He was standing at the door looking out when I arrived. I had to slip into the shop without letting him out. He got a little excited when I came in (I seem to have that effect on dogs) so got put into the sling his daddy uses to carry him around. Very cute.

I had to have the popcorn block because popcorn was always a thing with me and my dad. Mom and my brother could take it or leave it. The kernals are yo-yos. Too cute.

Another set of collaborative rows comes from the 10 Maryland-VA Quilter’s Quest shops.


So far I have four of these. Linda and I will be making a couple of trips to get the rest.


At Capital Quilts, in addition to this year’s row kit, I picked up last year’s as well as the Maryland state pride row. It’s not part of the Row by Row Experience but sized the same as the original rows. I went on the website to look at the rows for other states I’ve lived in but Maryland was the only one that was really interesting. I think this company does a lot of the laser cut kits for the row by row shops,

Jinny Beyer designed a paper-pieced fork block as an alternate row by row for those who don’t want applique but then learned she could only have one official row block. Since they were part of the collaboration quilt, the hot pepper jam block is her official row. Anyone who wants the fork kit can order it from her website. She also designed a larger sized fork in a pieced version for a larger quilt. Of course, while I was there, a few fat quarters of tone-on-tones came home with me. The fat eighth stripe at the bottom is a freebie when you bring in one of the shop’s cloth bags.

While I was away, these arrived.

I’m not much of a solids gal but I like some of these quilts that mix solids and prints. Lord knows I’ve got plenty of scraps to work with. I decided the best way to do this was to buy solids in layer cakes rather than build a yardage stash. So, I ordered several. Unfortunately, I didn’t see that one of my selections wasn’t solids. Darn it.

My friend, Polly, has converted me to the dark side so I couldn’t resist the cemetery print. It will probably be a backing for something appropriately creepy.

So, the situation with Mom and Dad is somewhat unsettled. Dad (96 with a collection of conditions, now including dementia) has improved physically with the therapy but can’t go back to independent living with Mom. The assisted living people evaluated him and said he needed more assistance than they offer. Doesn’t sound like they offer too much assistance. So, he’s staying at the nursing home, waiting for a non-therapy room to open up. He’s not happy about his situation. When we visit, we wake him up and next thing you know he’s asleep again. If he keeps doing that, then we leave because why spend time sitting there while he sleeps? He was doing that at home, too, but at least he’d be awake and interacting with us sometimes.

Mom will be moving next month to a smaller two-bedroom apartment across the hall from their current one. She’ll be losing an entry-way, dining room, a bathroom and her close access to parking. Right now, she parks right outside the outside entrance to the apartment. The new apartment outside access is to the interior courtyard. She’s not happy about that. The bathroom in the smaller apartment is a little larger than the ones in the larger apartment. It’s going to be an adjustment for all of us.

Mom’s driving my brother crazy. He gives her assignments that need to be done to make the moves happen and she doesn’t get around to doing them. I’m kind of the same way. I hate it when he gives me assignments. He’ll be going down again soon and I’m sure he’ll get things on track. I’ll just show up next month and do what he tells me. She was saying she’d move in September. He pointed out that we will be there in August for her birthday so can help then but we won’t be there in September to help. Sigh. I’m still not sure she realizes how much stuff has to go away. We want to put it in a storage locker for a couple of months to make sure none of it is needed. She doesn’t think that’s necessary. She’s still whining about missing things from the move to the apartment 6 years ago. We don’t want to go through that again.

The Eagle Landed . . .

July 20, 2019

View from above of 2 astronauts in spacesuits deploying a US flag on the moon.

50 years ago today man landed on the moon for the first time and I missed seeing it.

In July 1969 I was 18 years old and a member of the 1969 European tour of The School Band and School Chorus of America. July 20 found us in London, England – our last stop before returning to New York.

Our guide took us on a walking tour of the city. It was quite an exciting evening to be in London. I remember two things about that night. One was seeing the Prime Minister arrive at 10 Downing Street. He waved to us as before entering the residence.

The second thing I remember is the huge crowd filling Picadilly Circus. There was barely room to move. A huge movie screen had been erected, showing the TV video of the moon landing. TVs weren’t as ubiquitous then as they are today so people gathered in public places to watch. Unfortunately, the astronauts didn’t exit the lander until approximately 3 a.m. London time. I believe the exit was delayed to occur during U.S. TV prime time. By then I was sound asleep. Bed check by the chaperones for our tour members was 11 p.m. No exceptions made for historic events. The hotel had set up a TV in a small room off the lobby but there were no TVs in the rooms.

The most historic event of my lifetime and I’m one of the few Americans who missed it. Where were you when the Eagle landed?

Sewing Calms

June 29, 2019

A couple of weeks ago I got a phone call from my 91 year old mother before I had gotten out of bed. Well, that can’t be good. Dad’s 96 so the entire time she was talking I was wondering “is Dad dead or alive?” It took her 10 minutes to get to the punchline: Dad was in the hospital, no longer able to stand up. My advice if you’re in a similar situation – start with the punchline, then tell the story of how things evolved. When she hung up I quickly texted my brother to let him know mom was calling him and dad wasn’t dead yet.

Later that day we got word that the doctor wouldn’t discharge dad back to the independent living facility. He had to go to a nursing home. I called my friend in that town to pick her brain about the local nursing homes. She said the one in a nearby town was good if the patient was easy. Her mother wasn’t and their experience was bad. She pointed out that my dad also wouldn’t be easy to deal with. She said they had a good experience with the Odd Fellows home in town. I reported what she said to mom and my brother. Mom stunned me by saying, “I don’t think your father would be any more difficult than anyone else.” I asked her, in disbelief, “How long have you lived with him?” My dad can be extremely difficult to deal with especially since he can’t see and he can’t hear. He was so combative with the hospital staff they hired 24 hour sitters for him. Of course, it being Friday meant nothing would happen until Monday because the hospital social worker and nursing home administrative staff that make things happen don’t work on the weekend.

As you can imagine, I was agitated by all the uncertainty. Was he going to die in the next few days? Would I need to cancel all the appointments I had over the next few weeks? Linda was over that afternoon to sew. I was sick and tired of doing borders and backings so I pulled out the bin of  Dutch 9-patch block kits and started sewing. When I got them out I said, “Self, you better get out a finished block as an example so you get the pieces in the right spot ’cause you know you get it wrong sometimes. Nah, I got this.” You know where this is going, right?


This is the way the books show the Dutch 9-patch. The blocks are perfectly fine, except this isn’t the way I was doing them. In these I reversed the placement of the outer patches. The floral pieces should have been in the center spots and the go-with color on the outer corners. As you sew, so shall you rip. Even though they were fine, they weren’t the way I wanted them so I ripped them apart and did them my way.

I sewed and sewed and sewed over the next week or so. Eventually I began to calm down. Then I had my gastroenterologist appointment and got riled up again. I knew he would want to do a colonoscopy now (my next one wasn’t due until next year). When we talked about the prep, he omitted some pertinent details. Had he included them our discussion of which prep to use would have been longer. After I got home, I looked it up and discovered it’s basically the same stuff I used 25 years ago, except you mix this stuff with gatorade instead of water. It was vile then and I expect it to be just as vile now. Can I drink a gallon of gatorade? I’ve never had gatorade so I bought a bottle to taste. We’ll see. I hope it’s tolerable enough. The only prep I wouldn’t mind too much doing again is the pills but they don’t want to use those anymore because of the risk of blowing out the kidneys from not drinking enough water with them. Yes, I realize my reaction was excessive.

By that time I was determined to finish all the blocks I had cut pieces for. By the time I finished I had calmed down again. Here’s what came out of my bin:


This is the stack before I put them on the design wall. The ones on the bottom have been flattened by the weight of the ones on the top so the pile would be higher if they had just been stacked like they were when I took them off the wall. I should have measured the pile then.

That is 110 blocks. They finish at 9″. I couldn’t fit them all on the wall for one picture. The right side is the 20 blocks that didn’t fit on the wall with those on the left. Up close I didn’t like them side by side but it doesn’t look too bad from distance. I got out the bin of finished blocks from the UFO closet and counted them. 135. So I have a total of 245 blocks to play with. They’re back in the closet to rest while I ponder settings.

So, Dad’s in the nursing home, doing better physically, maybe. Mom says some days she can’t wake him up when she’s there. My brother said he’s noticeably declined since we saw him in May and that I’d better come for a visit sooner than the planned one in August. So a trip to Illinois is in my immediate future. Oh, and they said he’s stage 4 Alzheimer’s. Great. Another condition to add to his collection. And, Mom’s planning to move to a one bedroom apartment if he’s not coming home which means my brother and I have a lot of work to do. The bulk of the burden is falling on him because he’s only 180 miles away. I think both mom and dad are in denial now thinking maybe he will be able to come home. I don’t think that’s going to work out.

I went through my inventory of UFOs and tagged them with the stage they’ve reached. There are at least 8 that need borders and backing. Sigh. I’ve just done half a dozen or so. Some of these need pieced or appliqued borders. I’m tired of borders and backings. But, I’m also feeling the burden of all the UFOs. The sooner I get the borders and backings done, the sooner they can go to the quilter and get finished! Of course, there are about 57 new things I want to start. Right. This. Minute. I just finished making the back for the Kaffe leaf quilt. That’s the second one I have ready to take to the quilter and I took two to her a few weeks ago. So, maybe, I could start one new project as a reward? Please? Pretty please with sugar on it?

Basket of Fun

June 12, 2019

Here in central Maryland, we’re experiencing a couple of beautiful days in between rain storms. I went out for my second walk this week yesterday. Boy, am I out of shape. I really need to do something about that.

May 30 was sweatshop for Ladies of the Sea with Polly at Spring Water Designs. Polly is ahead of me, as usual. I pressed and trimmed the blocks that have the inking completed, decided on the sashing and the sawtooth border accent color. Still had two blocks to wash before inking and trimming.  I eventually did that but both have bleeding so I need to soak them again to see if some of it will come out like the other one did.

May 31 I embroidered on one of the carrot seed packet pieces for the June Snowman. I really don’t enjoy embroidery but it has to be done sometimes.

June 1 Patty and I went to the Quilters Unlimited show in Chantilly, VA. Quilters Unlimited is a coalition of quilt guilds in northern Virginia around DC. This show is as large as a regional show. They had 500+ quilts and 71 vendors this year. Pretty much an all day affair.

6/2 I finished the borders on the Jacob’s Ladder quilt and made the backing so it’s ready for the quilter. Those cats on the back are huge – 6″. The little kids are doing various things on the cats – eating, playing, napping.

I also decided the border sizes for the Kaffe leaves quilt and cut and stitched the inner border strips.

6/3 was Mimi’s Grad School. That evening was my guild’s summer potluck. No sewing happened.

6/4 I traced the remaining seed packet pieces to be embroidered for the June snowman. I chose the “broach” (it’s a button) for the May snowman.


She’s fused but not stitched. I’ll do that as the quilting, someday.

I finished the assembly of the February snowman. Again not stitched.


I see they’re missing the “coal” pieces. They’ll get them when I do the stitching.

I cut the background pieces for the June Snowman.

I cut the inner borders to size and attached them to the leaf quilt.

Worked on the embroidery for the June snowman.

6/5 Calculated the best way to cut the directional border fabric for the leaf quilt so that all the borders were going the correct direction. Pressed the fabric and cut the side borders. Don’t you just hate dealing with large swaths of fabric? I find them so hard to manage.

I got one side sewn on and pinned the other. Cut the borders for the top and bottom – they have to be pieced to get the necessary width. I decided not to bother matching the print. Don’t think I have enough fabric for that anyway.

6/6 was the daytime guild potluck. Went to JoAnn for batting for a donation quilt and the pillow form for the Schnauzer pillow. No air conditioning at JoAnn that day. Might have wandered around longer if there had been.

Got home and finished the borders on the Kaffe leaf quilt.


6/7 was supposed to be sweatshop with Polly again but she was sick so I had a reprieve. Linda came over. I paid lip service to the ships by studying the border and sashing fabric requirements. I chose fabric for the mariner’s compass blocks for the border corners.

I started to clear out the leaf bin since the top was finished. Found a bag of 35 more fused leaves. After Linda left I rummaged around in the background fabric yardage bins and found something suitable. Got the backgrounds cut and fused the leaves. I’ll wait until these are stitched to choose the fabric for the 36th block. Stitched three leaves – hand buttonhole stitch with #12 pearl cotton.

6/8 Chose the thread for the rest of the leaves. Here’s where the basket of fun comes in.


To hell with the embroidery for the June showman. I dropped that sucker in a hot New York minute to work on the leaves. If you remember, I said above I don’t enjoy embroidery. Except, I do like to do hand buttonhole stitch. Go figure. Anyway, I’ve been sewing leaves ever since last Friday when I got them fused.

6/8 was Jinny Beyer club. We drive an hour each way for a one-hour meeting. Crazy, isn’t it? When Linda comes we leave earlier and have lunch in the village center where the shop is. I sewed 3 leaves that evening.

Only sewing thing I’ve done since club was stitch leaves. I’ll probably get that out of my system soon. Then, I’ll have to buckle down and work on getting sashing on the ships. After the cleaners leave today, I’ll put one of the ships in to soak and hope the bleed comes out.

Yesterday, after my walk I grabbed my book and sat downstairs in my recliner, enjoying the open windows that are so rare in the Maryland summer.


When you fall off the horse …

May 29, 2019

Get back on. No, I haven’t been horse riding. The horse I fell off of was keeping notes about what I’ve done in the studio and writing about them. Even though I wasn’t keeping notes all the time, I’ve got a lot to share.

4/23 – I sorted the scrap bin from the garage. Yay! All the scraps have now been sorted and I have an empty bin to put to use doing other things.

I also completed the assembly of the fussy cut animal quilt body (i.e., no borders yet). I have since ordered and received fabric for the outer border and backing. Inner border comeing from stash. Hopefully, the piece I have is large enough. More about that soon, with pictures. Here’s a picture of the body sewn together.img_20190423_171755.jpg

4/24 – Linda, Patty and I went to the Blue House fabric sale in Westminster, MD. I didn’t find much, even at 40% off. They used to have a lot of grunge colors so I was expecting to find some of those. There was very little, nothing that interested me. The sale made me suspicious. Sure enough, a few weeks later Linda got the email that they are going out of business. Linda is sad because their fabrics were in her wheelhouse. Me, not so much.

4/25 – I had sweatshop with Polly at Spring Water Designs. I did the inking on most of my ship blocks.

When I got home that afternoon, I worked on the step-outs for my guild demo scheduled for May. The demo has since been rescheduled for August.

4/26 – Linda came over. I worked on prepping one of the Baltimore Garden bird blocks.

4/27 – Baltimore Garden class.

One of my ship blocks had bleeding from the ultra-suede. I took a deep breath and followed Vicki Welsh’s instructions and started the block soaking in hot water and Dawn (some clear version with no dyes or perfumes). The bleed did come out. Whew! Polly did like the idea of making the ship look like it was burning because the bleed looked like smoke around the masts. I’ll post pictures of all the ship blocks one of these days.

I worked on the hand stitching of the binding on the T for Two quilt.

4/28 – More work on the T for Two binding.

And, here’s where I fell off the horse. No notes for the next month. I was in Illinois for Dad’s 96th birthday so no sewing happened while I was gone. His birthday is Star Wars day (May 4th). I asked him if he knew that. He just keep saying, “Huh?” He’s extremely hearing impaired so it’s very exhausting to talk to him. Mom said she didn’t think he knew what Star Wars was. I said I’d wondered about that. He looks pretty good in this picture but he’s gotten quite frail.

Red Lobster is Dad’s favorite restaurant. He had been talking about the Red Lobster lobster fest promotion for a couple of months. He fretted because it was over. My brother and I kept telling him “if you want lobster, order lobster.” Usually he orders coconut shrimp, probably because that’s what mom orders, and then complains about the breading, insisting that it didn’t used to be so thick. Mom and I and the waitress always tell him it’s always been that way and to order something else but he never did. This time they had a new lobster and shrimp dinner so he ordered that and, as you can see, was quite happy afterwards. My brother and I also ordered it. It was pretty good. Came with corn on the cob and roasted potato wedges and some sausage. Too much for one meal but made for nice leftover meals.

My brother and the dog sacked out. Smokey is his last dog. Smokey has really declined in health since the previous dog died. Sounds like he may not last much longer. He’s the last dog because my brother wants to travel and he can’t do that with animals to care for.


I was only there a few days so Becky and I didn’t get to do our usual get together stuff. We met for dinner one night and I gave her the T for Two quilt. I wish I’d gotten better pictures of it but I didn’t.


A couple weeks later I was off to my guild’s spring retreat. Four days at the Black Rock Retreat in Quarryville,  PA. Actually, the retreat center is out in the country in the middle of nowhere. I took eight or nine projects just to be sure I didn’t run out of things to do. I didn’t touch two of them, which is fine. I try to take things that don’t require much thought because with 28 people in a big room, there is lots of distraction.

I assembled two smaller quilts the first day.


Ignore the extra bits on the left. I didn’t hang this straight enough to crop out the other project on the design wall. This 16-patch from strips from Genie’s scraps. It will be donated to charity as that is what her family wanted done with her fabric. Charity was a big part of Genie’s being.

I also assembled the Jacob’s Ladder blocks.


I’m working on the borders now. You can see a little of the inner borders on the sides.

The second day of retreat I assembled Sweet Poison. I don’t seem to have a photo of that. More on it when it comes back from the quilter.

I spent the third day making blocks for 9-patch Madness. I’d been using the broken dishes blocks as leader/enders the entire time. This happened.


It’s hard to see because of the dark fabric. This is a connecting corner square. I cut off the outer bit and then the following piece appeared out of nowhere.


Something definitely wrong here. This was my leader/ender. Where did it come from and why isn’t it square? Here’s why.


The bottom triangle is the piece I cut off the 9-Patch Madness block shown earlier. My leader/ender got caught up and sewn into the 9-Patch Madness block. Sigh. I’ve probably made every mistake in the book over time but this is a new one.

The last day of retreat is really only a half-day and not much work happens. Around 10 or 10:30 we have show and tell where we go around the room and everyone shows what they worked on. Then, it’s mostly pack up and leave because we have to be out of the room by 1 p.m.

Nothing to do with quilting but this happened. My handyman finally came over to install the ceiling fan in the living room. It’s the weird looking round thing – a bladeless fan. I also had him help finish assembling the dining room chairs.


He also attached my design wall to the wall. It’s no longer just leaning against the wall. I’m beyond thrilled. I did have to move a heavy piece of furniture though so the design wall didn’t block the outlet. Bless whoever invented hand trucks and those furniture slider things. I was able to move the cabinet all by myself.


I must have done other things but no idea what they were. Actually, one is the project on the left of the design wall. More about it at another time. The one on the right is the May snowman.

Last Friday Linda came over. I realized at one point that she had stopped working and packed up her stuff. I was wandering around trying to find something to focus on. I had a brainstorm and said, “I’ve got something we can do!” Here’s the result.


We placed all the embroidery hoops I’ve been collecting for the last several years. Some I had, some came from guild freebie table, some from silent auction. Now, I have to choose fabric to fill them.

5/25 – Baltimore Garden class.

5/26 – Sew and Tell meets at my house. I cut and fused pieces for the June snowman. After S & T, I assembled the April and May snowman tops. So, during my not taking notes, I must have cut and fused the April and May snowmen pieces.

5/27 – I finished assembly of the April Snowman. No picture of the April snowman right now.

I made the back for the Genie 16-patch quilt. Was going to use a bunch of different blue fabrics but found this backing yardage, so used it. It’s an old Jinny Beyer print.


I also cut up the leftovers from that yardage. Some squares for the guild’s love quilts. Some for my pre-cut stash.

I started the back for Sweet Poison.

5/28 – Finished the back for Sweet Poison. Stay-stitched the edges of the top. Will have piectures when it comes back from quilter.

I nailed the hangers in the wall for the embroidery hoops. The picture I showed earlier was after this happened. When we were arranging them they were held on by blue painter’s tape. That made it easy to rearrange them until we were satisfied.

I filled two of the smaller hoops with scraps from the Sweet Poison backing.

I traced the four carrot embroidery sections for the June snowman. Selected the thread and embroidered one of them in the evening.

I cut the inner border for the Jacob’s Ladder and attached the two long sides. It occurred to me after I cut the two side borders that maybe I should miter them so the corners look better. The perfectionist in me wishes I’d done that but I’m going to live with butted corners.

The house cleaners just left so I’m going to get a late lunch and, maybe, head to the studio. I really need a cook. I’d be in hog heaven then.



April 23, 2019

Now that my memo board is up, I’m trying to get into the habit of writing down what I’ve done when I leave the studio. I often feel like I’ve done very little but when I see it written down I feel more productive.

April 9

  • Sewed the binding, front and back, on the March snowman wall hanging, stitched the coal pieces and did the embroidery. It’s finished except for a label.

Snowmen Will Melt Your Heart: Going in Like a Lion, Coming Out Like a Lamb

I did the applique stitching as the quilting. I used the triple stitch on the machine to do the whiskers on the lion. Probably should have chosen a darker thread because they don’t show up so well. This was my first time stitching the binding on completely by machine. I think I cut it 2.25″ for .25″ binding on front. Stitched in the ditch on the front to catch the back. Occurred to me too late that I should have used my stitch in the ditch dual feed foot. Next time.

April 10

  • Sorted the floral 16-patch blocks into my quilt and other quilts. This is the first sort. When I lay them out, more or fewer may be needed for my quilt.
  • Sewed the binding to the front of the bargello wall hanging
  • Trimmed Flying Home to ready it for binding.
  • Cut some scraps with the Accuquilt
  • Cut paper templates for fussy cutting Serengeti kit from Jinny Beyer.
  • Pieced the front of the Schnauzer pillow cover


I found the Schnauzer piece on the freebie table or peddler’s table at a quilt show. I really don’t remember where I got it. The paw fabric came from stash. My brother has had 6 rescue mini-schnauzers over the last many years. This will be for  him. I need to get a pillow insert, then make the back. I’m not quilting it.

April 11

  • Did some hand sewing of binding on bargello
  • Went to guild
  • Went to sale of former quilt shop owner’s stuff. Bought too much fabric.

April 12

  • Traced and fused seaweed and anemone for Clown School and cut them out.


These are some honking big pieces. Fortunately I had a roll of 36″ wide fusible that I bought a while back. Perfect size for this project.

April 13

  • Went to Stella Rubin’s with Baltimore Applique Society. Saw some fabulous antique quilts but we weren’t allowed to take photos of them.
  • Went to Jinny Beyer club
  • Sewed the binding on the front of Flying Home

April 14

  • Sew and Tell meeting at my house. There were only 4 of us out of the 10. It wasn’t our usual day because of Easter and Passover.
  • Sorted scraps and cut strips with Accuquilt for Gyleen Fitzgerald pineapple blocks.

April 15

  • Did some hand sewing on the bargello binding
  • Sorted scraps and cut pineapple block strips with Accuquilt

April 16

  • Hand sewed bargello binding
  • Made 4 good pineapple blocks and 2 bad ones.



The good blocks. 


The bad blocks. I went off the rails on the last two rounds on these. Sewed the last two rounds on the wrong edges. Then cut the side off one of them. The one I didn’t screw up the cutting on could have been used with the others, I guess. I gave these two to Linda to do something with.

April 17

  • BAS meeting. Debby Cooney showed chintz quilts from her collection and Polly Mello’s collection.
  • Reviewed 5 older magazines. Getting rid of 3.
  • Made two pineapple blocks.


I haven’t taken a picture of the two blocks yet but here’s the back of one before I trimmed it. I think I showed in a previous blog a pineapple quilt made by one of my guild members with stars in the sashing. In Gyleen’s method, the 8th round won’t even show on mine because it will be in the seam allowance. This time I used 2″ wide pieces to serve as both round 7 and round 8. I think this must be how Carol did hers but we haven’t had a guild meeting for me to ask her. This way is much easier and wastes less fabric.

April 18

  • No guild meeting because of Holy Week.
  • Fussy cut animal blocks
  • Designed the fussy cut animal block quilt
  • Auditioned fabrics for fussy animal alternate blocks
  • Arranged the animal squares

April 19

  • Cut and pieced the alternate blocks for the fussy cut animals
  • Sorted scraps and cut strips for pineapple blocks

April 20

  • More hand sewing on bargello. Unsewed the part that has to be redone on the front. A short area of the top ended up not getting caught under the binding.
  • Cut binding strips for the T quilt
  • Prepared the T quilt binding strips that will have the label stitched into them.
  • Sorted scraps and cut strips for pineapple blocks

April 21-22

  • Fixed the binding on the front of the bargello. Finished the hand sewing of the binding. Yay! Will blog about it another time.
  • Prepared the binding and sewed it on the T quilt. Finally!
  • Sorted scraps
  • Assembled 4 columns of the fussy cut animal quilt into two pieces of two columns each.

If you’d asked me what I did, I’d have said not much. By writing it down, I feel like I accomplished a lot. This is an unusual amount of time in the studio. No guild meetings because of Holy Week and other church activities. No appointments. Nothing requiring me to be out of the house. That will be changing soon.