Friday, August 27, 2010

Summer Flowers

Every summer we get vibrant splashes of yellow ornamenting our area roadsides and fields.  I love it.  I'm not sure if these are a variety of Sunflower or if they are called Black Eyed Susans.  Whatever they're called, the shout "SUMMER!" to me.

This year we have also had some cute little purple flowers dotting various fields.  I love purple and I'm so happy to see it growing wild.

These cute little flowers are about 8 inches high.

Like all flowers, they have such delicate petals.  Flowers are a marvel.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Feeling Good About My Quilt

I've finished cutting out and re-piecing all of my quilt squares.  All 90 of them!

It feels really good to be at this place.  It has been a lot of work but I've really enjoyed doing it.  In fact, I had to ban myself from it in order to get other things done around here.  All I've wanted to do is work on my quilt.

If you recall, what I did was top stitch 4", 6", and 8" concentric circles onto a 9" square of fabric.  90 of them. I had to cut out the back fabric with each step.  I sewed the 8" circle onto the square, then cut out the unnecessary portion of the square on the back.  Next I sewed the 6" circle onto the 8" circle, and likewise, cut out the unnecessary portion of the 8" circle.  The same with the 4" circle.  This is so that later on I don't have to quilt through four layers of fabric on top of batting and a backing fabric.  That's just way too much thickness.

When I got all my squares done, I had to cut them all in quarters. Now we're talking 360.  Then I mixed them all up and sewed them randomly back together into 90 squares.

Of course, seeing how I'm learning as I go...and I usually learn something very important only by NOT doing it and having to backtrack or finagle some sort of solution.... I had a number of setbacks.  Like, the pattern didn't tell me how much to trim away from the back fabric each time I added a new circle.  I didn't trim enough.  When I realized this, I then had to go back and trim each circle (3x90=270) again.  Only most of them were already sewn together. Fun.  And imperfect.  When I get to quilting around those seams, there's going to be too many layers of fabric because I couldn't re-trim the sewn ones enough to remove the unwanted bit of fabric along the stitching.  *Sigh* Live and learn.

Another DOH! lesson learned  is that I didn't  wash my fabric before I started all this.  After I got all my squares and circles cut out, I thought - Uh Oh! What if they all shrink.  If I sew them together now and they shrink later, maybe my seams will rip.  So...I washed all my pieces.  And they all shrunk differently.  So when I sewed all my newly cut quarter pieces together, they came out all uneven.  *Sigh*  Live and learn.

That meant I had to even them all up, reducing them to the smallest one I had.  I am so happy to say that I got that all done this morning.  It feels really good to have that done. When I can get back to it after some time away I will be able to start right in to sewing them together into strips of 9 squares.  I'll have 10 strips making my quilt top 9 squares wide and 10 squares long (plus borders) to fit a Queen sized bed.

The finished quilt will be wild and random.  I'm excited to see it.  There will be places where same fabrics will be right next to each other and sometimes not.  Very random.  The key is to not worry about it too much.  Just grab another piece and sew it onto the last.  I, of course, cannot permit myself to be that literally random.  I do a little bit of rejecting and re-selecting along the way but not much. 

I wanted to post a photo of the quilt in the pattern book to give you an idea of how it comes together but Blogger rejected the photo.  I've never had that happen before.  Sorry.  I'll try to get it posted another time.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

A Dock, A Letter, and My Dad

I was just going through some old photos in my computer, deleting the fuzzy ones and dark ones.  I came across a couple of photos that remind me of my Dad.

In 2007 The Fisherman camped at some new friends' home on a lake just down the road from where he worked in Alaska.  When I went to visit him that summer, I spent a lot of time alone while he was working.  One day, I walked out to the dock of this little lake and wrote my Dad and his wife a long letter.  It was a special time to me.  I felt very connected to my Dad for that hour or so.  He loved planes and there I was, looking out across a quiet little lake at a couple of float planes parked around the edge of the water.  He loved learning about new places and he loved it when I experienced something he didn't get to do but would have liked to.

I wrote to him about the planes across the water, about the planes taking off or coming in close for a landing on a neighboring lake just a strip of land away (to the left behind the trees). I wrote about the bald eagle I heard calling from the air waaaaay over my head as he made circles in the sky on his way up and up.  I wrote about the loon I saw dive under water and head straight for me.  I watched him swimming like  a  torpedo under water right toward the dock.  When he got about 5 feet away he saw me sitting there and abruptly veered off to my left.  He eventually popped up a safe 20 feet away from me. 

When I began writing the letter, a float plane took off  from the neighboring lake to my left and flew past me on it's way to some chartered fishing adventure.  As I was writing my closing lines, another float plane came roaring in behind me for a landing on the same lake, flying low over me, banking left and just skimming the trees to land on the lake across the road.  I told him about all of it.

Though I wasn't really with Dad, I hold this as one of my favorite memories of being with him.  I knew that all the special and wonderful things I was experiencing as I wrote the letter, he would love.  He would visualize them.  He would smile.  He would laugh and say, "Wow!"  or "Boy, I'd sure like to see that!"  And he would probably get tears in his eyes...over the fact that his daughter was living them,  that I was sharing them with him, and that he could live them through me.  Dad was like that.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Current Journal Cover

I keep a journal.  I try to write in it every morning.  I wrote a post about my "Morning Pages" that explains how wonderfully de-cluttering they are for my mind and spirit.  They really are helpful.  When I don't write for awhile, I can feel myself overcrowded with a mish-mash of thoughts, feelings, noteable occurrences, prayers, etc.  I love getting them out every morning.  I don't always know what's swirling around in the background of my mind, heart and spirit until I put pen to paper and see what comes out.

I use the cheap composition books you can get at Wal-Mart or any place that sells school supplies.  I just found a bunch of them at Wal-Mart during a pre-school sale for 25 cents each.   From my friend, Angie, I've learned what fun it is to decorate these cheap journals.  She does AMAZING things with them.  I do mediocre things with them.  And usually, I don't get them done in advance.  I usually fill up a book before I decorate it - or I get a background color painted on it but never finish it because I'm on to filling up the next blank book.

Ahhh, but this time....this time, I decided to use the scraps from my "real" quilt project to cover my newest journal book shortly after I started using it.  It's so fun getting to enjoy it while using it almost every day and taking it to church for note taking.

I love it!  Here it is.

That's my morning Quite Time basket.  It has my journal, my "Mom and Dad" journal for notes particular to my grieving them, my New American Standard/The Message Parallel Bible, my Prodigal God book and workbook (love it), a book on mourning I'm still working my way through, another Bible Study book I'm enjoying now, and a couple other books on my To Read Soon list.

I take my basket by it's sturdy handle and head out to the little bistro patio table on our front porch where I enjoy the morning air, the chirping birds, the silently hopping bunnies, and the buzzing hummingbirds. I spend time before God, and and with God as I write and read and study and pray.

Here's the journal opened so you can see the back, too.

I covered the inside of the front cover, too.  It makes for a nice finished look.

The back cover is where I tape in my mini-month calendars so I couldn't cover it.  I created calendar months on the computer that are about 5"x7" or so.  I put two on a page of card stock and trim it down to fit into the journal.  I tape them onto the back cover and the last page, as many months as I think I might want to look ahead.  In this journal I have July through December taking up the back cover and both sides of the last page.

I always write in my start date on the "title" page of a new journal.  When I'm done, I add the finish date.  Recently I've started making note of entries that contain special insights, special prayers, learning experiences, or fun highlights.  I write a note at the top of those pages and then I make a list of them by date on the front page along with my start and end dates.

I couldn't resist adding a little collage of little fabric pieces to the corner of my title page in this journal.

Now I need to start on covering some more so when I fill up this book I'll have an already-done one to begin.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Top 10 Indicators Things Are Drying Out Around Here

Number 10

Though it seems quite contrary to indicating a drying trend, this photo does.  That's because there's something missing in this photo that was present a few days ago. Absent is the huge, orange, diamond shaped sign blocking the road stating, "Road Closed Due To Flooding."  It's absence is very telling.  There may still be water in places but at least the road's open.

Number 9

The largest puddle on our road is only this big.....

Number 8
(Kind of the same as Number 9, I admit but I like the picture.)

...Our road is almost entirely dry.

Note the curvy path we take to avoid the low spots.  When there's standing water in the lows, we avoid them so as to not make them bigger by splashing muddy water (and hence, dirt) from them.

Number 7

The flooded ditch (aka The Spot That Always Floods) has crept its way from the middle of the road back to the confines of the shoulder where it belongs.

Number 6

The roadside ditch leading up to The Spot That Always Floods is dry.

Number 5

The road is making dust again with the passing of cars and trucks.

Number 4

The sky has been mostly blue for the last 10 days.

Number 3

The semi's and logging trucks working the forest thinning effort are running again.  The ground HAS to be drying out for the bulldozers and other heavy equipment to be able to work in the forest and fill up the trucks.  But you know, I just can't figure out what enclosed semi-tractor-trailer rigs are doing.  Are they hauling logs inside?  The logging trucks go by with their huge steel brackets containing dozens of trees.  There are an equal number of semi's and I've been wondering what they're hauling out of the forest. Hmmm.  (Sorry. No picture. I didn't feel like sitting out on the road waiting for one to come by.)

The Number 2 indicator that things are drying out around here:

I'm loving seeing these ground crackles right about now!  I hate it in June, but  right now, it's a good thing.

(I love the remnant of old moss or lichen on this rock.)

It's a little hard to tell the rocks from the depressions.  The round depressions with no crackles in them are old elk prints, smoothed over by subsequent rains.


And the NUMBER 1 indicator
that things are drying out around here:



Soon after this current basement seepage mess began around the 29th of July, my water collection peaked at 32 gallons of August 4th.  It stayed steady at about 14-16 gallons for a few days, then I started noticing a downward trend.  August 8th gave me 12 gallons.  August 9th, 10 gallons.  August 10th, 8 gallons.  And today, 7 gallons! 

Now, THAT's a big...fat...YEAH!!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

New Quilt Is Coming Along

Here's a quick quilt update.  Uh, that's a quick update...definitely not a quick quilt.

The pattern I fell in love with is an altered and modernized version of an old pattern called a Bullseye.  Three concentric circles are sewn onto a square background.  Normally, as I understand it, with a Bullseye pattern one somehow sews all the circles together in a normal quilt fashion, with edges tucked under and no stitching showing.  Sounds awfully difficult.

This pattern changed that, and some other things. Firstly, all the circles are top-stitched about a 1/4" in from the outside. This allows the edges to fray slightly with washing and wear. Love it!   The fabrics are randomly put together. That's part of the fun of a "scrap" quilt like this.  Random is good.

Next, once all the circles are sewn onto the squares, you cut the squares into quarters.  AND THEN, you mix it all up!  Again with the random. 

Once I got my circles sewn on, I was too excited to wait and see what they might look like when I mixed the quarters up.  I folded them in quarters and laid some out to get a preview of how it might look in the end.

Kind of funky, huh?

But fun!

Frankly, I'm a little concerned that I'm not going to like it when it's all done.  All those beautiful fabrics just don't seem to be showing themselves off very well.  But I'm holding off getting bummed about it until I actually get all my re-quartered squares sewn together into the big quilt top.

Once I get all that sewn together I'll also decide what fabric to use as the inner and outer borders.  Then, I have to decide on the backing material(s).

I'm making a queen sized quilt.  The shop where I've been going to classes has a "long arm quilting machine" and they charge anywhere from 1 cent to 3.5 cents per square inch for quilting.  A long arm machine is what it sounds like: it has a deep reach for quilting.  Not only that, it's a computer with thousands of programmable patterns.  The quilt is rolled onto a frame, stretched tightly, and the machine goes to town.  That is, if it's one pattern that goes throughout the whole quilt.  If there are select spots to be quilted in a stop and start pattern throughout, then it's more difficult and costs more.  Such is my quilt.  I figured out it would cost me over $300 to have quilted.  

So, guess who's going to be spending the winter hand quilting!

You know, quilting is DANG EXPENSIVE!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Beautiful Skies and No Rain

Good news!  No rain for three days!  Our skies have been gorgeous with huge clouds that seem to drop rain elsewhere.  Even when the storms have come right overhead they have not shed any more rain on us.  Tonight, there are strong winds whipping around outside.  Cool air is flowing through the open window behind me in bursts, flaring the curtains in and out.

I took some photos last night of the amazing skies.  I don't have a polarizing filter, though, so you'll have to engage your imagination in trying to combine two photos.  I think it's called a polarizing filter.  Whatever it is that I'm talking about, it balances out the light. (I'm just not very good with names of things lately, am I?)  In trying to take a photo of the clouds, the camera needs to let in less light because the sky is bright.  But then, the trees end up dark.  When trying to get the accurate lighting on the trees, the sky gets blown out white and you lose all detail.

SO... use your imagination to combine each of the next sets of photos.  The first exposure is for the trees, the second is for the clouds.  Put the nice green trees of the first photos with the spectacular skies of the second photos...and wa-laa! have the beautiful scene I was privileged to walk around in last evening.


Wednesday, August 4, 2010

You'll Find What You're Looking For

I've been listening to Amy Grant's newest CD,  Somewhere Down the Road (and  here at Amazon). At first I didn't think I liked the CD except for the first two songs. But as I've continued to play it, I've found the songs are steeped with rich and mature meaning. They have been churning around and around in my head blessing me a lot lately.

I put it on again today and was reminded of how simple and profound the message of one song is.  It's called Find What You're Looking For. The lyrics pose two questions,

"What would they find if they uncovered all of my tracks, of roads I'd snuck down...?"


"What would they find if they searched for a heart of gold?"

The answer, of course, is "They'd find what they're looking for."  In the one case, the searcher is looking for the bad stuff about her. In the other case, the searcher looks for the good.  They both find what they're looking for.

The chorus, Amy's notes indicate, come from a saying of her former mother-in-law's. 

"Cause there's so much good in the worst of us 
So much bad in the best of us 
It never makes sense for any of us
To criticize the rest of us.
We'll just find what we're looking for
We'll find it and so much more."

I don't think anyone consciously sets out to look for the bad in people.  We probably have a myriad of reasons that sneak up on us and make us that way.  Distrust. Fear. Pride. Insecurity.  I can see how all these could make us gravitate to look for the bad in people.  If we are fearful, we're going to want to scrutinize people to see if they're safe for us.  If we're prideful or insecure, we're going to want to look for weaknesses in others so that we can feel better about ourselves.

This song reminds us that because there's good and bad in all of us, we're guaranteed to find what we're looking for in another.  I love that it reminds us of all the good in people. We'll find it if we're looking for it.  And we'll get to enjoy it.

Monday, August 2, 2010

I've Officially Had Enough

Yesterday was blessedly dry - as far as I could tell being in town most of the day.  It seems we escaped the daily downpour.  Some of the smaller puddles in Our Road had diminished to mere mud.  This morning I checked our little creek.  No water. Sunday was supposed to be the last of the heavy I heard.

But then, there was today.  Another scary thunderstorm settled in over our woods.  As I holed up in the bedroom doing a crossword to keep my mind off the too close lightening and loud thunder, the phone rang.  I don't answer the house phone during a lightening storm. 

Then my cell phone rang.  It was our neighbors - the ones that share our usually dry but occasionally raging creek.  She asked if I was doing OK.  Huh? She said the creek (which we call Iris Creek) was a good three feet wider than it should be and she feared the road will be completely washed out at the culvert.  I looked out the dining room window to see our little trenches overflowing and water flowing in sheets all around them.  Then I went to the back door.  Water standing 3 inches high up against the foundation.  There was SO much water everywhere!  The trenches were no match for the amount of water running downhill at us. 

I waited (paced) a little while and observed the lightening and thunder.  It seemed to have moved from right over top of our place so I ventured out with my little ditch digging rake/hoe-thingy (don't laugh, Gary. I haven't a clue what it's proper name is.).  I dug trenches to connect to trenches.  I burmed up the sides of some flat spots to stop the overflow.  I scooped up buckets of gravel from our pile of leftovers and tried to raise the low spots close to the house and direct the water down the side and away.

The rain was easing up and my trenching was making progress.  I decided to go check out the Road.  I walked down Our Driveway Road, with it's two streams flowing downhill in the tire wells.  When I saw Our Road, I was stunned.  It wasn't a road.  It was a river.  Literally.  From the culvert about 50 yards away up-road the road was a river from side to side.  Four to six inches deep of water racing its way past me and on out toward The Big Road.  It hadn't made it all the way to The Big Road yet because most of it was flooding off into the big meadow across Our Road.  But as I stood out there marveling at it all, I could see it progressing.  By the time I headed back up the Driveway Road it had reached about  200 yards.

Hours later I'm sitting with an open window at my back and I can hear the water.  Oh, yes, I can hear the creek raging.  But I'm not talking about that water.  I can hear the little babbling, gurgling sound of water still running through one of the trenches just  five feet outside.

Another thing...when I walked back up Our Driveway Road I heard that rushing water sound coming from the opposite direction as our racing wash.  Just like I thought I'd heard it a couple nights ago from that direction.  Hmmm...  I walked over to our other neighbors' - whose house is much closer to ours.  I thought, maybe Iris Creek is echoing off their house.  I walked around to the front of their house.  Noooo, I definitely heard rushing water from that direction, too.  I couldn't see it but it sounded even more forceful than Iris Creek.  I'll have to take a walk over there tomorrow and see what I can see.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

In the Trenches

We're on a slight grade and all the run-off travels downhill to our foundation where it soaks in, saturates the ground, and ends up in our basement.  So, we've dug some shallow trenches around our house to divert run-off water around away from the house.  We still get water in the basement but it helps.  With the heavy rains we've been having lately, we've had a ton of fast and furious run-off.  During the rain, it just comes downhill in sheets and streams.  I came home Thursday after the nasty storm I dodged by staying in town longer, and saw tons of standing water all around the house.  I got the rake out and got in the trenches so to speak.  I deepened high spots, dug tributaries, and extended the ends farther out away from the house.

These are photos taken at around 6pm yesterday.  It rained hard for an hour earlier in the day, then it came back on us at dinner time in a steady medium strength rain  that lasted about three hours.

It was very dark for that time of evening, but not as dark as these photos appear.  I had to use a flash to get the trenches to show up at all and it made the background look like night.  It was daylight, but super darkened by the storm.  Very grey.  The house was too dark to read a book without lights, even next to a window.

The damage is done as far as water coming in the basement.  The trench improvements won't keep it out, but perhaps it will bring the end a few days sooner down the road.

Wanted: Sunny Skies - Or A Boat!

We've had SO much rain lately.  Good, hard, drenching rains.  Every day.  Sometimes multiple times per day. We're on a slight hill and when it rains, it washes downhill in rivulets.  The ground is so saturated and the rains have been so hard, the water is streaming downhill in sheets.

Saturated, flooded ground

Remember how last winter's 4 foot dump of snow wrecked havoc with our road?  And how we got a nice big load of chunky gravel laid down a couple months ago?  BOY AM I GLAD WE DID!  Our road would be just as bad now as it was when the snow started to melt.  Right now, when it rains, it turns into a bit of a river.

Here's where the two "rivers" meet - the one that streams down our Driveway Road meeting and joining up with the one streaming down Our Road.


I started home from town around 4 pm Thursday afternoon.  I could see a huge storm right over top of our area.  I could see we were getting dumped skies, sheets of rain, bolts of lightening.  I turned around and stayed in town awhile longer, getting some dinner before braving my way toward home.  When I drove our country roads toward home, I encountered racing and flooding ditches and some nasty new potholes.  Our Road had some mighty big puddles.  When I got in the house and opened up some of the windows, I heard what sounded like the wind.  But the trees weren't moving.  There was no wind.  What's that sound?  It sounds like... like... rushing water!  I couldn't figure out where it was coming from.  Maybe the elk trail coming down from the forest? I hadn't noticed any running water from that area when driving in.

It took me till the next night to figure it out.  And it was a total DUH moment.  I had the windows open on the OTHER side of the house that next night and so the sound was coming from the opposite direction as I THOUGHT it was coming from the night before.  Duh-huh, oh yeh...we have that dry wash running between our property and our neighbor's on the far side of us.  It must be running. 

I didn't hear it the next morning.  But then we got about an hour's worth of a hard rain, and there it was again.  Rushing water heard from my very own window!  After the rain dwindled down to a sprinkle, I ventured out with camera in hand (and under tee-shirt tail) to check out our "river".  The ground over most of our property was so saturated it was like walking across a shallow creek.  I carefully chose my footing on rocks and tussocks, tufts and downed branches, trying not to get my feet too wet or sink into our lovely clay-mud.   Here's one of my first glimpses of the wild beast of our little creek.

As I drew closer I saw more of it.

Then, I saw it in its full glory!  (Looking upstream.)

That is some serious running water when you consider it's normally completely dry.  Grass and plants grow in it as if it had never seen a flow of water. 

Ditch, meet Water!

(Looking downstream)

Upstream again...

Downstream again

Upstream...(sorry to keep making you turn your head upstream, downstream, up and down and back!)

[Below] Here's a spot where the water seems to be overflowing its "banks".  It's a spot where there really isn't much of a "bank" and the edge of the creek water seems to merge into the flooded ground all around it on that side.  My walk to the creek was over ground just like that mucky flooded section.

I took this one from the road looking back uphill and upstream.

And here's where the culvert spills out into the pasture across the road.  I met my neighbor out there on the road.  She was shovelling and diverting the run-off along her road when we saw each other.  We walked toward each other and met at the culvert where she was able to rake out a bunch of debris that was clogging the flow.  The overflow receded when she cleaned it out...just in the nick of time as it was very close to flooding over in full measure as opposed to along the little trench it already created.

The run-off hitting the road in this photo is simply from the land, not from the creek.  The slight grade to our land sends everything sheeting downhill where it finds a select spot to run into the road.  And down the road.

I think it's funny how the water switches sides on the road. When I walked it, I saw the switch...a spot where the grade of the road changes and the water sneaks across through the gravel hump in the middle.  I could see it flowing underneath the large cinders but it wasn't strong enough to flow over top.

It was pretty deep

Today, coming home from church and errands in town, I noticed that some of the small puddles were drying out.  I don't think we got rain today...or not much anyway.  Whew! 

Oh...another thing.  All this water means....guess's coming in the basement again!  Been hand-pumping, Shop Vac-ing, and squeegee-ing multiple times per day for the last two days.  It came on with a bang and I think I'm in for it for several weeks.