Sunday, November 19, 2017

Craft Fairs and God Winks

This post will be a bit long, but I wanted to share something amazing that happened to me yesterday. My friend Laurel and I went to a number of church fairs in my town. While large craft fairs are wonderful, I really like the smaller, church holiday fairs. At one, I purchased this little vase with a lovely fluted edge. The potter lives in my town, and I thought it would be perfect for displaying a single, large blossom such as a peony. I couldn't figure how why I was so drawn to it beside the design until I realized that its colors perfectly echo those in this wool summer candle mat that I recently completed. Besides the vase, I also bought a Patriots fleece scarf, the perfect accessory for any outfit, and a number of other items to add to Christmas gifts.

We decided to stop at the senior center where the "Naughty Needlers" were having a sale. (Isn't that a great name for the ladies who meet there regularly to knit and crochet! They also donate many items to charity.) My friend purchased knit hats for her grandchildren while I perused the display of gently worn donated jewelry. I'm always on the lookout for Christmas tree pins to add to a wall hanging that I made. You may see a photo of it here. None of these four pins that I purchased are valuable or marked, but they are still fun to add to my piece.

Okay, here's where this post gets interesting. There are many definitions of Godwinks; here is one that I like.
Noun. (plural God winks). An event or personal experience, often identified as coincidence, so astonishing that it is seen as a sign of divine intervention.

After I made my purchase, a woman approached and asked if I lived on - - - - Street. I replied in the affirmative and then she said, "You were Walter's sister."  I nodded and she said, your mother was a lovely lady and your brother was the most polite, friendly young man. She had worked at a local bank, and she told how upon entering Walter would always greet each of the tellers, and she proceeded to tell me a couple of quick stories about him. She said everyone at the bank had been so sad when he died, and she said she had always wanted to stop by my house and let me know how special they all thought he was. (My brother had passed away suddenly at the age of forty-nine after a lifetime of dealing with many medical issues.) She said she never passes my house without thinking of him.  What's unusual about this? Well, my brother went home to God eighteen years ago. To think that he is remembered so fondly touched my heart more than words can say.  I left with a smile on my face . . . But . . . That's not the end of the story . . . After a quick stop at another fair, we decided to stop for a bite to eat. A young man came to our table, and my friend and I could not help exchanging smiles when he said, "Hi. I'll be your server; my name is Walter." Godwink . . .

I have always felt that my brother is still with me. Let me tell you another amazing story to convince you. As I mentioned, my brother died in April of 1999. In October of that year, I was sitting in the school auditorium with my eighth graders waiting for whatever was going to happen. You see, the Commissioner of Education had come to visit our junior high for what purpose we did not know. Then a truly, truly amazing thing happened. It turns out that the commissioner had come to announce that I had been named a Milken National Educator, a very prestigious award. How could I out of all the thousands of excellent teachers in Massachusetts been selected for this award.??? (This is not an award you apply for and, in fact, I had never heard of it before.) That's still not the most incredible part . . . the award was announced on what would have been my brother's fiftieth birthday. A few of my friends in the auditorium knew how difficult the day had been for me, and they said when the announcement was made, they couldn't believe it. Thankfully, they were not surprised that I received the award, but they were speechless that it happened on that particular day. Godwink. . .  

Thanks for reading and have a wonderful week.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Rag Doll Project

On Tuesday, I attended a lively meeting of the Crosstown Quilters Guild. We had a visitor who was curious about our group. Thank goodness we were all on our best behavior, and before the end of the meeting we had a brand new member. 

 I had brought three or four things for the give-away table in the back of the room. Unfortunately, someone else had brought a large white trash bag chock-full of tempting pieces of lace, some of which as you can see came home with me. :-)

During the meeting, Anne who is in charge of the boutique table at our quilt show next fall, asked if anyone would be willing to take this rag doll home to dress it. Someone had donated the doll and pattern book. I took one look at the hank of curly red yarn/hair and up went my hand to volunteer.

 Unfortunately, the book wasn't of any use as it was for a different type and size of doll. Undaunted, I began by making a lace trimmed slip. The slip wasn't quite full enough, so I cut it part way up the middle and turned it into a pair of pantaloons. The second attempt at a slip turned out much better.

How was I to make a dress without a pattern? I watched a number of interesting "how-to" rag doll videos on Youtube to get some ideas, and as you can see, I used some of the lace which I had just brought home. Lengths of overlapping pieces of lace were sewn together to create the base of the dress, and then I added pieces of a different lace for the sleeves.

Other videos showed various ways to create the hair. I would love to be able to show you a close-up of her hair and face, but my various devices aren't cooperating. Click on this photo to see a larger image if you wish.

Now this sweet little miss is set for the boutique table at our quilt show next fall.

Are you looking for a good movie to see this weekend? On Tuesday afternoon, I went to see Judy Dench in her portrayal once again of Queen Victoria in Victoria and Abdul.  I would give the the film a B. 

Note: In my previous post, I indicated that I have a new email address, but unfortunately,  I typed it in incorrectly.  I have corrected the last post and here it is again in case you are interested . . .  
Of course, you should replace at  with the symbol. Sorry for the confusion. Did I mention that technology is driving me crazy lately???

Monday, November 13, 2017

Technology Is Conspiring Against Me

Life used to be so simple . . . up until about a month ago that is. Then technology started to conspire against me. No one was receiving any of the emails that I sent. I was able to receive emails, but whatever I sent apparently just when out into the great cosmic void. I have no idea how many emails never got delivered. I cannot tell you how many hours I have spent on the phone with various  "experts" at Xfinity/Comcast. . . hours and hours and hours and the solution/reason has yet to be found. So, I have a new email address . . . jesmith2828"at"  (Symbol written as "at," but use the symbol if you would like to reach me.)

Next, my blog posts appear to be blocked; some folks who follow by email have been receiving them while others using the same server have not. What's up with that??? If you do see this post, I would suggest you bookmark it and then if you want, check in every once in a while to see if there are new posts until the problem is resolved. Did I mention that I also have a brand new modem? That's another story. . .

So, last night I settled into my comfy chair and put my feet up all set to watch the New England Patriots on Sunday Night Football. Fifteen minutes into the game the cable went out: no TV, no phone, no Internet. I didn't take this personally, however, as the outage effected others in the area. What did I do? I went up to my sewing room and watched the game on a small TV set with rabbit ears! I am never ever ever getting rid of that rabbit ears TV! (By the way, is it just me or are we all more than just a bit crazy to be paying so much for phone and TV cable service??? )

Okay, since I was up in my sewing room watching Tom Brady lead the team to a 41 to 16 win over the Denver Broncos, I decided to finish putting together this batik quilt top. The blocks had been made probably three or four or more years ago, but they just sat in a bag waiting patiently to be sewn together. It's colorful and fun and hopefully some young person will enjoy it. Many quilts get donated for babies and children and that's truly awesome, but because I taught eighth graders for so many years, I like to occasionally make quilts for that age level.

There's more to this sad technology story, but I'll spare you the rest of it. Thanks for listening and I promise to keep trying to post to this blog. :-)

Sunday, November 5, 2017

The Buck Stops Here, Literally

I was coming down the back stairs a little before 8:00 when I was stopped in my tracks stunned to see this buck on the other side of my chain link fence. Yikes!!! Fortunately, Emma hadn't spotted him, and I quickly ushered her back inside. (She had not received the memo about daylight savings time, so I did not want to deprive my neighbors of their extra hour of sleep. Lord knows how she would have reacted had she noticed our woodland visitor.)

I don't know how you judge the age of a buck, but his antlers appeared to be about eight to ten inches long. (A few years ago, a buck with a magnificent rack was seen in these same woods.) Now when I say "woods," it's a bit of a misnomer as it is merely a stretch of trees and brush which separate houses on my side of the street from the houses on the next. If you have followed my blog for any length of time, you know that deer have on occasion been spotted here . . . right in the middle of downtown suburbia. He didn't seem to mind at all when I returned to capture some photos. Eventually, he bounded off. . . an interesting start to the day.

On Friday, I went with my friend Marilyn to the Christmas Craft Festival at the World Trade Center. She had never gone before, and I haven't been for a long time. Since it was a balmy 70 degress, it was a bit difficult to embrace quite so early the holiday spirit though I must say the booth selling Christmas fascinators was doing a brisk business!

One always popular feature is always the display of gingerbread creations.

Now for Emma fans, here she is just after returning home from the groomer the other day spotting a cute little pumpkin doodad..

I liked the purple ribbon against her fur so much that I bought her a new purple and black print collar at the craft festival. (Don't tell her as it will probably go in her Christmas stocking. :-) There were one or two booths for cat lovers and quite a few more for dog lovers selling apparel, treats, etcs. and they were jampacked with owners eager to buy things for their furbabies.

Buck Update: Turns out there are a number of websites that explain how to determine the age of a buck. This was a big, healthy buck which based on the info is probably only about a year and a half.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Thrifting Fun on the Cape

On Saturday, I drove down to the Cape with a friend to meet up with seven other ladies to spend the day thrift shopping. Our caravan of three cars headed to shops in the Yarmouth area.

It was a perfect weather day, but unfortunately, there was no foliage color down south either though I did manage to find some touches of autumn.

What were the treasures found? Pam came home with two small, painted tables. Another bought a solid wood rocking horse and a rocking chair for her grandson. Others came home with new jackets, coats,  and even a nifty pair of sleek black leather pants.  Jewelry, glassware, and all sorts of other items were found. It was fun to see what caught others' eyes, and of course, there was always a group of encouraging advisors.

What did I come home with you ask? This is Tommy Leafowitz, a Boyds Bear. I don't collect bears, but his leaf decorated olive green overall outfit was just too cute.  I already had this wooden bench and tiny pumpkin, so I thought it would be a cute fall decoration. 

The purple silk tie will go in my stash for crazy quilting. The glass boot mug may hold flowers  on my sun porch table next summer. I love the six pumpkin colored napkins and the old fashioned boot. It's narrow enough to sit on a windowsill to hold flowers or on my table to corral pens and pencils. It was made in 1973 and has the maker's name on the bottom.

Finally, I  had to rescue this cute little guy in one of the storefront windows. After all, I wouldn't want him to melt! :-)

Total purchases for me . . . under twenty dollars; a day spent thrifting with friends . . . priceless.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

A Day of Quilting

Well . . . it was supposed to be a full day of quilting on Friday with my friend Laurel. The morning started off well. Laurel worked on a pillowcase and the binding on this quilt for her granddaughter who recently turned three. There are two matching hearts for each of the colorful fabrics.  I continued working on the Halloween wall hanging with the zillion pieces that I mentioned in an earlier post.  Though it won't be completed for this Halloween, I am determined to get it done.

Easily distracted . . . by noontime, we decided to head to Hull where a fabric store, Fabritique, is closing. It's sad to see, but the owner does intend to continue vending at quilt shows.  She features fabrics from around the world.

We had a quick lunch at the Salt Water Diner which is near Fabritique, then we headed back to my house after a short detour to the new Osprey Overlook Park in East Weymouth as Laurel had not yet seen it. In early September, the osprey fly to South America to spend the winter. According to one of the signs, this flight takes just two to three weeks. They'll return next spring to have their babies in May and June. There are a number of nesting platforms along the marsh waiting for them.

We also spotted these interesting mushrooms which had popped up in the grass.

We might not have accomplished as much as we could have, but that's okay as there will be a next time.

For some issues I didn't post these photos from a recent quilt show opening. Members of the Herring Run Quilt Guild currently have quilts on display in the gallery at Thayer Academy in Braintree.

As you enter, the first quilt you see is Maribeth's "Julie's Blooming Nine Patch."

 Here's Laurel beside  her "Petunia."

Edith was away, but her "Lulu" was also on display. There was a wide range of quilts which made for an impressive display of talent. I didn't ask permission so I can't show you some of the others. The gallery is open for visitors during school hours only. There is a number posted on the door which when you call will summon a security person to let you in for a visit.

I have two pieces in the show: "Waiting for Lovers" and

 "Steady As They Go." Here is my friend Kathy who took the photo which was the inspiration for this quilt. Her parents have been married for 72+ plus years. What a blessing!!!

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Happy Halloween Quilt

At our last Herring Run Quilt Guild show in 2016, a member displayed a Halloween themed quilt based on Tula Pink's City Sampler 100 Modern Quilt Blocks. (Note: The book does not come spiraled bound, but I brought it to Staples to have that done as it makes it much easier to work with that way.) I was so taken by the member's quilt that I decided to make one, too, as I had lots of Halloween-themed fabric left over from my little cousin Miss T.'s quilt. My original plan was to create a wall hanging, but I got carried away and it grew and grew. I even added a six inch piano key border that made it a twin bed size quilt.

 Each corner features these stylized black cats.

Here's the yummy backing fabric. Don't you wish candy corn was really a vegetable. . .


I already had more than enough Halloween decorations, but I couldn't resist this decoration on sale at Michael's. It's the sophisticated touch of elegance for which I am known. :-)   :-)   :-)

And, of course,  any room or sun porch needs a touch of purple . . .

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Cranberry Harvest

This was a Stoughton quilting weekend, but I only really spent time there on Friday. Yesterday, I attended the 12th birthday party for my cousin's triplets. It doesn't seem possible that they are that old. Today after church, I decided it was too beautiful to spend the day inside quilting, so I headed to Plymouth in hopes of photographing a bog being worked. I thought I would share some photos in case you have never seen a cranberry harvest.

First, the bog is flooded and then a machine not unlike a giant eggbeater is driven through the bog to release the berries from the bushes. The berries float to the surface creating a magnificent crimson carpet. That probably occurred yesterday. When I arrived on the scene this morning, a worker was pulling a very long band through the bog encircling and pulling together the berries. 

Here's my favorite image of the day.

Then the trucks are brought up and a machine siphons the berries up. The "separator"  spews the twigs and leaves into the pickup truck and the cranberries into the long truck.

It's fascinating to watch the whole procedure. I was also surprised to see so much gorgeous color appearing along the highway. Hopefully, the color will deepen here on the south shore. 

On another note . . . if you have emailed me and not received a response it is because my email is messed up. I can receive email, but my responses are not going through. My responses appear in the sent folder, but no one receives them. Comcast is supposedly working on it. Yesterday while dealing with a level two technician, suddenly over 10,000 previously deleted emails dating back to 2014 appeared in my laptop inbox and about 700 on my iPad. Yikes!!! But . . . they're working on it. . . fingers crossed . . .

Thursday, October 12, 2017

A Workshop with Betty Busby

On Tuesday and Wednesday, I attended an amazing workshop with fiber artist Betty Busby offered by the Quilters Connection Guild . This gifted artist from Albuqueque, NM, presented a full, rich workshop that allowed participants to explore painting both non-woven and traditional fabrics. She would explain and illustrate a particular technique and then we were given time to try it. Here are some of my pieces.

These leaves have streaks of gold Lumiere paint which makes them appear to glow in real life. 

We were shown a short slide show of her work each afternoon, and she discussed how each piece was created.  Her work is wonderful and may be viewed here on her online gallery. 

If a workshop with Betty Busby is offered in your area, I would encourage you to attend. You will have a wonderful time and come away with enough ideas to explore to keep you busy for a very long time. :-)

Betty Busby will be the featured speaker at the next meeting of the Quilters Connection guild on Monday, October 16th at 7:00 at the Bentley University Executive Dining Room, LaCava Center,  175 Forest Street, Waltham. There is a $10.00 fee for guests.