Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Twas a Puzzlement

Yes, twas a puzzlement . . .  how was my neighbor completing the jigsaw puzzles that I was loaning him so quickly??? And then I received photographic evidence that shows he had been getting help!!! Dewey is clearly examining each piece and honing in on just the one needed. . . Not only is Dewey a friendly, pretty cat, he is obviously quite intelligent.

My jigsaw puzzle board is set up on my sunporch, but I have not been doing much. Partly, it is the cool, rainy weather and partly, an inability to concentrate. I have a 500 piece "Marble" puzzle that I was not having much luck with so I quit and boxed it up. Maybe Dewey and my neighbor will be up for the challenge.

Every evening I work on the Sue Spargo's "90 Day Toned Down Circle Sampler." As you will see, I am using my own palette which is not toned down. :-) Look at my gorgeous stash of #8 perle cotton. Who knew that it would come in so handy?

Here's my piece showing some finished circles. By the way, each circle is only one inch, and each day Sue Spargo posts that day's circle. She uses stitches that I have never even heard of and a short video to show how the stitch is done. (Note: Lefties can find videos on how to complete various stitches on Ariane Zurcher's youtube channel, On the Other Hand.

 Here are my completed circles so far. I'm not unlike this little snail when it comes to my stitching. It is only supposed to take about forty--five minutes to an hour to stitch each day's circle, but not in my case. First, I watch Sue's video on Instagram, then review her book, Creative Stitching, and then decide which color circle I will stitch and which colors of thread I will use. This sometimes takes me a couple of hours. . . a true snail's pace. Some circles are easier than others, and I do find that I am getting a bit quicker. Most important of all, I am enjoying the process and am finding it a comfort in these troubled times.


I can not thank Sue Spargo enough for hosting this ninety day gift to stitchers everywhere.

Mask tip: As I write this post, I am watching a live video presentation on asthma and covid-19 hosted by Medic Alert. The presenter, the head of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, Dr. Kenneth Mendez,  thoroughly answered a wide range of questions, and offered this tip regarding protective face masks. Shine a flashlight through the mask, if the light shines through strongly, add another layer when masking masks. Batiks, having a tighter weave, work better than regular fabric.

*** If you are making a mask for someone with asthma, the recommendation is to add an extra layer. (Being asthmatic myself, let me tell you that sometimes it is tough enough breathing through the regular masks. Having said that, I will be making a couple of new masks with the extra layers. My doctor suggested washing and drying a white t-shirt and then cutting two layers from that fabric to sandwich inside the cloth masks that I am making.)

I wish you peace. Stay safe. Stay creative. Stay strong. Have hope. We will get through this.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

My Excellent Adventure to the Supermarket

Wait . . . that does not sound as if this will be a very interesting post. Nope, probably not, but I want to continue to record my thoughts and experiences as we all work through the Covid-19 pandemic. Personally, maybe it's the former middle school teacher in me, but I think everyone should be keeping a journal of some kind to record these troubled times. You could write, draw, paint, collage, scrapbook, make mini quilts, etc. It would be an incredible gift for your children and grandchildren, and young people should also be encouraged to keep a record as well as these events will forever change their lives. Besides, the act of creating art or recording your thoughts in a journal can be a very helpful thing for your psyche.

Okay, back to my excellent supermarket adventure. Truly, you will not hurt my feelings in the least if you skip down to today's smile.

I have not been to the supermarket for over five weeks. What have I been doing for food? Well, I really, really stocked up before the shutdown orders came. I have been buying dairy products at Hornstra Farm in Norwell. Besides having the best ice cream on the South Shore, they also have a small store. (The ice cream windows are closed during the quarantine.) I'm going to explain how to shop there for those from this area who might find this info helpful. Go to their website's product page. Make a list of the items that you would like to purchase. When you get to the farm, you may have to wait a while in the driveway. (Tip: go in the afternoon.)When you get up to the store, roll down your passenger window and hand the masked and gloved young lady your list and credit card. She will shortly return with your purchases and put them in your car. (No customers are allowed to go inside the store.) Just for information: besides dairy products, they have eggs, chicken, hamburger, meals, bread, some vegetables, etc. (If you go, pick up some coffee oreo ice cream; trust me . . . you will not regret it.) [Yes, I know their milk trucks still make home deliveries of products including milk in real glass bottles just as in olden days, but there are currently a couple of hundred other names on the list before mine as would be/want to be customers.]

So, up until now, I have not felt the desire or need to go to the supermarket. Actually, I was nervous about going, but today I grabbed my mask and gloves and went to Roche Brothers in Quincy. There was a sign on the door indicating that customers must be wearing masks to enter the store.  At first, things looked normal, but on closer inspection I realized things had changed. The coffee bar was closed, and the long take out food bar was empty as was the deli/fish section. There were red footprints indicating which way to move through the aisles. (This was a concept which did not compute for some customers, but at least they were wearing masks.) At the end of this excellent shopping experience, there were two designated lanes: one for twelve items or fewer and one for regular orders. All of the cashiers were wearing face shields and the baggers wore masks. $210.20 later I was done. ( I really, really stocked up and will not have to visit the supermarket until probably June!!!)

When I returned home, I carried each paper bag straight out to the sunporch. (Plastic bags have recently been banned. and reusable shopping totes are not allowed at this time.) I wiped down everything going into the refrigerator or freezer with a cloxine wipe. The boxed products will sit on my porch for twenty-four hours before I put them away. I'm following the guidelines. Is all this necessary?  Who knows but why take any chances? [Note: Proofreading this I saw that I had "whipped" everything going into the freezer or refrigerator . . . that would have been totally unnecessary :-)  ]

H'mmm . . . I'm going to dig out my cash register receipt to add that to my journal/scrapbook. It may be fun to look back at the prices and to see what I thought was necessary to buy. (Honestly, I did not see those two packages of Oreos make a leap into my shopping cart. ) If we can't have comfort food now, when will it be acceptable???

One last awesome scrapbooking/ journal tip . . .  if you cut  something from the newspaper and spray it with hairspray, the paper will never fade or turn brown. At first, the paper will be wet, but when it dries, it will be preserved forever.  That's your reward for reading my supermarket ramblings

Now to something to put a smile on your face. This was emailed to me, but there was no attribution given.

Your smile for the day . . .
The world as we knew it has been turned upside down. 

2019: Stay away from negative people. 2020: Stay away from positive people. 
Old folks are sneaking out of the house, and their kids are yelling at them to stay indoors! 
You think it’s bad now? In 20 years our country will be run by people homeschooled by day drinkers… 
This virus has done what no woman had been able to do…cancel all sports, shut down all bars, and keep men at home!!! 
Do not call the police on suspicious people in your neighborhood! Those are your neighbors without makeup and hair extensions! 
Since we can’t eat out, now’s the perfect time to eat better, get fit, and stay healthy. We’re quarantined! Who are we trying to impress? We have snacks, we have sweatpants – I say we use them! 
Does anyone know if we can take showers yet or should we just keep washing our hands??? 
I never thought the comment “I wouldn’t touch him/her with a 6 foot pole” would become a national policy, but here we are! 
Me: Alexa what’s the weather this weekend? 
Alexa: It doesn’t matter – you’re not going anywhere. 
Can everyone please just follow the government instructions so we can knock out this coronavirus and be done?! I feel like a kindergartner who keeps losing more recess time because one or two kids can’t follow directions.   
I swear my fridge just said “what the hell do you want now?” 
When this is over…what meeting do I attend first…Weight Watchers or AA?

 Quarantine has turned us into dogs. We roam the house all day looking for food. We are told “no” if we get too close to strangers. And we get really excited about car rides.  And some more: 
  • First time in history we can save the human race by lying in front of the TV and doing nothing  Let's not screw it up.

  • Reminder: 9:00 pm is the time to remove your day pajamas and put on your night pajamas.

  • My cleaning lady just messaged to say she will be working from home and sent me instructions on what to do.

  • We're about two weeks away from seeing everyone's true hair color.

  • Which is worse: two masked guys trying to rob you, or an unmasked pizza delivery guy?

  • I've almost completed my 90-day trial of 2020.  How do I cancel?

  • Anyone else feel like life is being written by a fourth grader…?  "And there was this virus and everyone was scared.  And then the world ran out of toilet paper. Oh yeah, and then there was—like—no school for a month."

  • If you need 144 rolls of toilet paper for a 14-day quarantine, you probably should have been seeing a doctor long before covid-19.

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Some Color and Some Smiles for These Troubled Times

On Saturday we awoke to a few inches of snow. By the afternoon, it had all but disappeared.
Yellow . . .  Here's Emma in her raincoat checking out the daffodils.

 Flashback photo for Emma fans . . . Here's one of my favorite Emma photos taken in 2014.

Purplelicious  . . . An Easter surprise from my godchild and her family. I love the sparkly container.

Red . . . This amaryllis bulb was purchased before Christmas, but though I planted up two others, this one remained in the box. (I still have another one to plant up.)

And now the smiles . . .  

Just think of how much time we have spent making masks when folks have come up with their own  creative alternatives  . . . though I do think the scuba outfit is a tad much.  My favorite . . . the man in the checkout line with the plastic water bottle.  Brilliant! That one cracks me up!!!

Governor Baker is on TV now giving an assessment of how things are going in Massachusetts as we are in the midst of the coronavirus surge. He announced among other things that all schools in the Commonwealth will be closed for the rest of the school year. That is the right decision and will  allow teachers, principals, and administrators time to plan for a hopefully safe opening in September. 

 Please stop here if you wish before I record grim coronavirus statistics.  

As of Sunday . . . 
                                      Cases                                  Deaths

World                          2,501,156                          171, 810
United States                 788, 920                            42, 458
Massachusetts                 39,643                               1,809

Massachusetts is third-highest in the number of cases behind New York and New Jersey. 

Here is one item that struck me. The Boston Sunday Globe published sixteen pages of death notices.

 I wish you peace and comfort. Stay safe. Stay creative. Have hope. We will get through this together.

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Oh Deer Me !!! - Sunday Visitors

Have you herd ??? I had planned a different post for this morning, but we had some visitors earlier today in the woods behind my house, and I wanted to share these photos with you.

There is a little bit of green growth which apparently attracted them. They sure attracted Emma's attention when we stepped out our back door, but I was  able to scoot her back inside.

Will all of the brush, it was difficult to get clear shots.

This grouping became so comfortable that they turned around affording me a chance to shoot their lovely tails. 

Where's Waldo? The deer camouflage so well that it sometimes difficult to see them. How many deer do you see in this image? (Answer below) You may and should click on these photos for larger images.

T-shirt straps update: I have found that it is a good idea to pull the t-shirt cord out a bit before sewing it in place on the side seams. It's stretchy, so it is good to sew over the end a number of times to really secure it before turning the mask right side out. Of course, it will get sewn over again, but it doesn't hurt to be over cautious. :-)

The Whistler House Museum of Art in Lowell, MA, sent out a message with this image. Mom is surrounded by toilet paper,  there is take out, there is hand sanitizer on the keyboard, she is wearing gloves and a mask, and she appears to be checking off the days in quarantine. Well done!!! 

Stay safe. Stay healthy. Be creative. Have hope. We are all in this together.

Answer: Four deer

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Covid 19 - Easter 2020 - T-Shirt Cords for Masks

Hello fellow quarantinees! How was your Easter? Mine started with my parish's Mass being broadcast on Facebook. Later in the morning, my godchild delivered some veggie sides for my Easter dinner along with some old t-shirts. (More about the t-shirts below.) I did not want her to drive here from her home on the other side of Boston, but she came and it was good to see her. It was warm enough to socially distance ourselves in my backyard for a few moments.

At 1:00, I along with millions around the world watched Andrea Bocelli's live streamed "Music for Hope" from the Cathedral in Milan. As of Tuesday morning, this concert had been seen by over 35 million people. In this magnificent, empty edifice with only an organist accompanying him, he began with a breathtaking "Panis Angelicus." At the end of the thirty minute concert, he exited the cathedral and sang "Amazing Grace" on the steps of the duomo. You may watch this concert on Youtube.

In the afternoon, I visited with my old friends, the Crawley Family and their staff at Downton Abbey. Having seen the movie when it first came out, I knew that I would enjoy it again and I did. That was followed by our weekly family Zoom session. It is good to see everyone looking healthy and happy. Say what you will about technology, but where would we be without it during these difficult days???

I began this happy spring welcome wool applique mat in late March before the world began falling apart. I truly enjoyed stitching on it, but it is a bit too happy and cheerful for these times. It may be best to put this adorable spring piece away for next year in hopes that days will be brighter then.

[This was an April welcome mat wool applique kit from Shabby Fabrics. The pattern was from Buttermilk Basin.]

And now to the t-shirts . . .  those of us who have been making face masks have been dealing with a shortage of elastic. A number of online sites suggested making cording out of t-shirt strips. It is magic!!! First, lay an old t-shirt flat on your cutting board. Cut off the bottom hem and discard it, and then begin cutting one inch strips. The strips will, of course, be flat, but then . . . begin pulling on one strip as if it is an exercise band and the magic happens!!! The more you pull, the longer it gets. Amazing!!! Discard the top of the t-shirt where the logo or design is as that section will not work.

Before and after . . .  How cool is this!!!

A couple of things . . . the t-shirts with slightly heavier fabric work best and as you can see in the photo below, I do knot the ends of the cords.

Well, that's all for now. Stay safe and stay strong. We will get through this together.

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Find a Bright Spot Every Day

Hello Fellow Quarantinees . . .  How are you doing today?  Sometimes okay? Sometimes terrified? Sometimes despairing? Sometimes overwhelmed? All of the above at different points?  We need to try and seek out bright spots in each day.

My backyard is filled with daffodils. If you have been reading my blog for a long time, thank you. If you are new to my blog, I encourage you to read the story of these daffodils, "Full Circle" which I posted way back in 2011. I guarantee you will enjoy that post, and I promise you that every word of that remarkable story is true.

I, along with  I am sure quilters all across the country, have been spending my days sewing masks and am grateful to have something useful to do.

Speaking of quilters, may I again remind you that The Quilt Show is posting wonderful videos a couple of times each week. For example, today, Alex Anderson talked about using silk. Thursday, Ricky Tims will be presenting a lesson, and Friday, Alex will talk about straight line quilting. Just go to The Quilt Show website and scroll down to the bottom to find a list of videos which you may view at any time on that site or on YouTube.

I have been working on a wool applique piece which is coming along well. I pick it up in the evening and am enjoying working on it. I have also decided to do the Sue Spargo - "Toned Down Circle Sampler." Each day for ninety days, Sue Spargo will present a design for one circle. Last night I cut 90 (one inch)  wool circles from my stash for this project. I am getting a late start, but no worries, I will catch up. :-) You can find more information about this in my previous post.

My colors are definitely not "toned down," but I wanted to work with bright, happy colors.  As you can see, I have the circles arranged and pinned with tiny applique pins. I will whip stitch each circle down before adding the special stitches. This is an excellent, free learning opportunity. One more thing to add to my post - Coronavirus "to do/wish" list . . . go on a Sue Spargo retreat.

Stay safe and well. Be kind to yourself. Have faith that we will get through this.

I wish you peace.

Friday, April 3, 2020

Stay safe. Stay strong.

Hi Everyone. How are you doing today?

The drawbridge of my castle has been cranked up for what is it . . . three weeks??? I am not going anywhere. My, how the time has flown s-l-o-w-l-y by  . . :-)

In my area on the South Shore and perhaps in your area as well, folks are putting hearts on their doors and in their windows in support of all those in every walk of life who are working to help us. I wanted to create a quilt to support and encourage us all during these difficult days. I've been thinking of a design and started working on it Wednesday afternoon and finished it last night. (It measures 20x22.)

 I also have been making masks but ran out of some necessary items which I have ordered and which hopefully should be arriving later today.

I have been using batik fabric since it is closely woven. My batik stash has gone down a bit, but that will just be a happy incentive to buy more fabric from local quilt shops when this nightmare is over. Quilters always joke about how much fabric we all have; who knew that we had such amazing foresight? Both our skills and our fabric are in demand! A friend texted me a while ago to tell me that her friend who is a nurse appreciated the masks which I had made and, yes, she could use more for some of her nurse friends. It makes me feel wonderful knowing I am helping in some small way.

So, what else am I working on? Well, the borders which need to go on a quilt top that I mentioned last month are still patiently waiting. There is a large embellishment project that is coming along nicely spread out on my dining room table along with many other things. My spring themed wool applique piece takes up my time while watching TV at night. I received the next Sue Spargo BOM Lite package the other day and will prep it later. Speaking of Sue Spargo, she is running a 90-day project "Toned-Down Circle Sampler"on Instagram and on her Facebook page. Each day she shows a new stitched circle. The circles are only one inch. (Mine will be a wee bit larger as I will be using the bottom of an Aurifil thread spool as my template.) The best part??? Ariane Zurcher will be posting short stitch videos on her YouTube channel "On the Other Hand." Lefties please note: she show how to do the stitches for you, too! You might also enjoy following her blog, Where Art & Life Meet. I'll be prepping some wool circles for that project tonight. Afterall, why work on just one project when you can juggle four or five???????????

Quilter will never run out . . .

Don't worry; quilters would know better than to actually do this and clog up their pipes, but we might have a few old tissue paper patterns which would do in a pinch :-)

 Hang in there. We will all be part of history.

Thursday, April 2, 2020

This & That Thursday

Hello Fellow Quarantineers !!! How are you doing today???

I like "This & That Thursday" because I can ramble along touching on a number of subjects.

Something truly amazing happened today in the fight against the coronavirus in Massachusetts. I'm recording it here for my journal and to tell those not from this area the story. Massachusetts is a blue state as blue as any state could possibly be. We, however, have had a long tradition of electing Republican governors. Our governor is Charlie Baker, and he has been working tirelessly to prepare the Commonwealth for these dark days. At daily press conferences, he has expressed his frustration and anger at the difficulty in procuring needed medical equipment. Behind the scenes, he has been working on a deal with a Chinese tech company to purchase  N95 masks which are in such high demand. The problem would be how to get them here to Massachusetts. He spoke with Jonathan Kraft, president of the New England Patriots, and the problem was solved. The Patriots' team plane was refitted and flown to China. The plane which had all of the seats removed was allowed to land at the airport in China for just three hours to load the crates before heading back with 1.2 million N95 masks. Yes, that's right, 1.2 million!!! 300,000 of the masks will go to New York which is also in desperate need of these masks. (Bob Kraft purchased and donated those masks to NY because he was a graduate of Columbia.) The rest are for Massachusetts and Rhode Island. I would say that Mr. Kraft is definitely back in all of our good graces after having let Tom Brady go to another team.

[Afterthought, God Bless Charlie Baker, the Kraft Family, and all who made this deal possible, but  why isn't our federal government supplying this necessary equipment? ]

Speaking of governors, look at the job that Andrew Cuomo is doing in New York. In the past few weeks I have enjoyed watching him on his brother Chris' program, Cuomo Prime Time on CNN. After discussing the very serious situation, there would be a few moments of brotherly banter which was fun to watch. Although now battling the coronavirus himself, Chris Cuomo is continuing his nightly broadcast to inform folks about what the experience of having the virus is like.

I am continuing to sew masks, and last night began working on a quilt to hang on my front door. I'll include in my next post after finishing the binding.

Okay, on a lighter note (no pun intended), go to Youtube and search for "The Broadway Coronavirus Medley" which is guaranteed to put a smile on your face. Zach Timson is one very talented, funny guy, and I also enjoyed his "For the Longest Time **Quarantine Edition** video.