Saturday, December 29, 2007

Frustration and Birdseed

In my little world I have had so much frustration lately. My computer disk space is down from 37 GB to 43 MB. I keep getting popup edits and have deleted so much off my computer to try to stop the warnings. Even hasn't solved the problem. Well, on to more pleasant information.

Our especially terrible ice storm damaged my two huge old pin oak trees. I have so many branches to cut up and place near the road for pickup. The emergency tree trimmers sent by the power company saved me from losing electricity or cable when a huge branch twisted and dropped toward my lines. So many others south of here had no power for up to two weeks. I was so lucky.

Was Santa good to you? I attended several parties and got a few lovely gifts. I need so little, but got just the right gifts. One thing I bought myself was 50 pounds of birdseed and a bird feeder. I love to watch the squirrels "try" to eat out of it and the many blue jays, morning doves, dark-eyed juncos, cardinals, starlings, sparrows and indigo buntings. And last, but certainly not least, a hawk flew into my evergreen and attempted to catch birds or squirrels. He flew out, grumbled (I'm sure) and perched on a broken branch where I was able to photograph him from my dining room (above left). When he noticed me, he flew away. Soon a relieved squirrel crept out onto the upper branches of the evergreen, looked around, took a few deep breaths, and scampered away home to his nest in my north pin oak.

My Clarinda friend, Sandy Huseman and I were walking three to four times a week this fall. We have joined the Lied Center to give us an inside exercise location. I find snow scooping my sidewalk and steep driveway provide an alternate and exterior activity. Unfortunately my tri-weekly exercise schedule has gone by the wayside with our "stay off the roads" winter weather.

The Iowa caucus has generated hundreds of mailings and phone calls for most Iowa households. Luckily my cell phone number is not in the directory, but I have had many, many mailings to read and commercials to see on television. I have seen the following candidates "in person": Hillary three times, Obama once, Richardson once, Bidan once, Edwards twice and Dodd once. Our caucus is next Thursday. It will be the first time I will participate. Then things will quiet down for us.

I am not acknowledging depression, but I have found retirement a bit difficult. I used to quilt a lot when I was working. I had to fit it into my "spare" time around my job where I solved problems. Well, retirement does not have many time constraints or problems to solve. I have found I don't get much done. I have at least ten quilts (mine and for others) to be machine quilted. Let's hope I find "that fire" I used to have and have been seeking.

I hope you find whatever you are seeking. In only a few days we will be watching Australian fireworks and calling out "Happy New Year". Whether you watch "the ball drop" alone or with someone, I hope the new year brings peace to your heart and hearts all around the world.

And speaking of peace, I attached my quilt "On the Day God First Made the Stars" (above right) which has a calming effect on me.
FYI: I hope I eventually get "the hang" of inserting photos into the blog....BEFORE I type all the text. When I attach them afterwards, they (like cream) rise to the top.

Peace, Carlene

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The highs and lows of learning curves

Well, I’ve cooled down. After my enlightening classes at the Machine Quilting Showcase in Overland Park, Kansas I wrote a long and detailed blog. Then being a blog neophyte, I lost the entry. So I walked away until now.

So here's "the skinny". I had a wonderful time.
I stayed with my quilting friend, Mary Enright and also visited friends in the home office of my former employer, Zurich. I reconnected with my NWMSU college friends, Jim and Sue Sjolin Druen. Sue took Susan Rothchilds (a fellow machine quilting student from El Paso, Texas) and me to the Truman Library. What a lovely day! Now on to the four days of classes.
What amazing quilts and ideas! The photo above shows that the teacher drew a vertical line of hearts and then quilted feathers on opposite sides. How unusual.

The quilt at left was in the quilt show. I can't imagine doing trapunto, but I was fascinated with the different background quilting. What lovely workmanship! Check out those quilted circles.

At right the quilter surrounded each Evening Star block with petals and then filled the "between" area with unique stitching in each block.

The quilts in the show varied from formal to playful. There was a special exhibit of a dozen black and white identical wall quilts. The first was was unquilted. To reveal the importance of machine quilting, each of the others was quilted in a unique way.

Blogging is exhausting for a neophyte. It's almost 1 a.m. and my goal of going to bed before midnight has not been met.

Enjoy our break in the warm weather. And do some quilting if you can.

Night, night.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Blood and dachunds

I'm a little grumpy today. Yesterday when I was hand washing the dishes, a glass broke and I cut my hand where my little finger meets my hand. Lots of blood in the dishwater! None of the glass was missing, so I calmed down after an ice pack, some antibiotic ointment and a bandaid removed all chance of dying from the injury. Because I have lived alone for so long, I get frenzied by injuries. I think just having someone say, "this is not so bad" would lower my anxiety. A bit of pain today, but I am typing (oops...keying) so I guess there is no hand damage. Carlene is a wuss! Carlene is a wuss!

I think it would be appropriate to insert something with "slashes of red" at this juncture.

I made "Eyepopper" specifially for my niece, Brittany Anne Souza. She loaned it back to me when I was the Featured Artist at the Northwest Suburban Quilt Show in Hoffman Estates, Illinois in 2005. The optical illusion in the center was easier to construct than the setting triangles and borders. Freda Smith did a beautiful job of the machine quilting. This quilt is an attempt at a duplication of "Re-Entry" by Marilyn Doheny in her book entitled "Op-Art Quilts".

Also, I have to pack to go to Overland Park, Kansas to their Machine Quilting Symposium. I have become such a hermit that leaving home is a chore. I will be taking classes and attending lectures to enhance my longarm machine quilting skills. My sister, Debra Corcoran and I have a Gammill Plus which we have named Roscoe. Our business is named Black Squirrel Quilting because of all the black squirrels we have in Clarinda. She is unable to go since she hasn't enough earned vacation at her job. I hope to come back inspired, educated and jump-started. It is easy to procrastinate in many areas of my life. I have found it much desirable to nap than quilt. What happened to the fire? Perhaps all our rain....

While I am in the Kansas City area from Sunday to Friday, I will be staying with my quilting friend, Mary Enright. I was employed by Universal Underwriters Insurance Company (now Zurich) from 1971 to 2005. I worked with Mary by telephone from Rosemont, Illinois. In 1999 during a two-month special project at the Home Office in Overland Park, Kansas I was able to actually quilt with her and her quilting bee, The Thimble Thumpers. Their many kindnesses and friendships were a joy for me!

I will be lunching with Jim and Sue Sjolin Druen on Sunday at Ted's Montana Grill. I understand "buffalo" is an important part of the menu. Between "tatonka" and "dessert" we will catch up on the past (memories of Northwest Missouri State College (now University) from 1965 to 1969) and the present (retirement and ???). (A few minutes ago my sister reminded me that I ate a buffalo burger at a Ted's Montana Grill in Omaha. That is a good reason to keep close to your family--they help you remember what you have done.)

I hope to visit some "old" friends who are still at Universal Underwriters (now Zurich) which is very near the Symposium location, but not sure about the current security at an international company. Will they let a previous employee wander the halls?
I was inspired by "Successful Scrap Quilts from Simple Rectangles" by Judy Turner and Margaret Rolff to make this quilt which is presently on my bed. "Don't Be So Negative" features dozens and dozens of black and white prints. Dachunds, stars, jigsaw puzzle pieces, tape measures, baseball statistics, quilting instructions, yearbook pictures, crosswood puzzles, racetrack results, horoscopes and so much more are depicted in the fabrics. I had gathered a number or prints, but I probably doubled them when I purchased many wonderful fabrics from the estate of my friend, Donna Milz. Donna died of breast cancer several years ago. Including her fabrics has made the quilt all the more special for me.

I am telling you "what" I expect to be doing during the next week as I will not be online. I will report in by Saturday. I hope we all have an excellent week!

Bye for now, Carlene

Friday, June 1, 2007

Carlene's world

The sun came up today on Carlene's world.
Unfortunately it is hazy,
but this year in Iowa both rain and haze are predominate.

Welcome to my world of quilting, napping, a bit of planting
and yard appreciation.
I have returned to my home area after 40 years in
Boca Raton, Florida, Kansas City and primarily the Chicago suburbs.

Although I am retired, things are hopping in slow motion.
I have my first yard so I am monitoring weeds,
doing a bit of planting and having the lawn mowed.
The high points of having my own yard are
the birds "up close and personal" for the first time and all my flowers,
which unfortunately were frozen off just as they were developing early in April.
Next flowers and the Chicago Cubs.

Since my passion is making quilts,
I will insert a photo of my Iraq War quilt.

This is my original reproduction of an antique quilt I found in a quilting book. I call it "Olive Oil". I made this quilt top in 2003 while I was watching the war news every night. Silly me, I assumed that our troops were wearing "army green" I wasn't watching them every night on the I chose olive green-colored (not sand-colored) fabric for the background. The black fabrics represent the oil and the muslin is the troop movements back and forth across the country. Can you find the convoy who, perhaps in a sandstorm, got off course. I, too, had hoped "the mission" was completed. Unfortunately I "still" see the sand-colored uniforms every night on the television. Vietnam II.
I have recently contemplated getting a dog. I am home most of the time. I would like some company. But--I am both lazy and irritated by the stop and start of dog walking. My fenced yard is an option, but stepping in "you know what" would really tick me off. Also the living and dining rooms of my home have light blue carpet. Hmmm. Also I am not a enthusiatic housekeeper...I do it...but not with extreme dedication. A dog might upset this delicate balance where I am surviving. The neighbors have a new puppy. Maybe I will just watch and pet him.

My niece, Emma is spending her summer vacation with me while her parents, Doug and Judi, work. I am enjoying the company of a ten-year old....almost 11. Now I can more appreciate the "taxi service" duties I have often heard about.
I am enjoying living back "home" near family. I miss my friends in the Chicago area. Since everyone here has settled back into their "pre-Carlene" lives, I find myself with lots of free time I never had in Chicago while I was working and no longer have the number and caliber of dear friends with whom I quilted and attended church. As I knew, my life has changed. I find success in setting goals, so "to do" lists are a "must". Well, them and naps. I think I'll take one now. I am still on a later night schedule than the average Iowan, so although I get up around 6:45 a.m. when Emma arrives, I have usually gotten to bed around 1 a.m., so I function up until I actually blossom after my nap. Unfortunately this gives me the burst of energy to make it AGAIN until 1 a.m. Old doesn't mean smart.
Well, another burst of energy resulted in the watering of the flowering trees I planted earlier this morning. Rain will probably come, but I feel less guilty. And that is part of the feeling of success. I just remembered...planting the flowering trees was on my "to do" list. I have reached another goal. Yeah!

This is an Electric Quilt drawing of a quilt top I just finished. I'd insert the picture, but it is 102" square and I couldn't find a place to hang it where I could get a good picture.

What a beautiful day here in Iowa!
I hope you are having a bit of heaven where you are, too.

Bye for now. Carlene