30 October 2021

Friday Funny on Saturday

28 October 2021

Frosty Finish

Twin I Quilt really doesn't have a name, but I guess it could be Snow What Fun, which is the name of the fabric line.

Whatever it ends up being called, it's done!

This quilt started as beginning patchwork lessons for my mother-in-law. I've now found the most perfect charm pack for her that hopefully will inspire her to start her own first real quilt. I also found a perfect charm pack for Twin II. Neither charm pack is here yet, so I can't show them. But in addition to finishing the first twin quilt, I also got all my selvedges stitched together into a couple of crochet-able (or knit-able) balls. Second time this year I've prevented the mountainous pile of selvedges that tends to linger and volcanicly grow in my collection for years.

When I was showing my mother-in-law all the fun things we could do with disappearing four patches and disappearing nine patches, she asked how I would do the quilting. I told her little snowmen might be kind of fun. She liked the idea, so I played with a line drawing in my head for a couple of weeks while I was too busy to quilt, then practiced the snowman drawing on the actual quilt. Not all my snowmen are perfect, but you can tell they are snowmen, and I think more projects like this will help me continue to develop my longarm skill and confidence.

Linking up with Alycia Quilts and Confessions of a Fabric Addict.

26 October 2021

Baby, What a Big Surprise

I chopped down (or pulled out of the ground) all my sunflowers as the petals fell off this year to prevent (I hope) another forest next year. (Although I absolutely love sunflowers!) I made a huge pile in the backyard in one of the areas I hope to terrace this season. I expected to compost the now withered and crunchy sunflowers, along with all the spent bachelor button, cosmos and lavender mint plants and seed heads from throughout the year.

One day, I noticed, through my window as I worked, finches feeding in the sunflower pile. I took a few photos but wasn't horribly pleased with the through-the-window quality. During my lunch hour, I sat still outside on the retaining wall with my camera waiting for the finches to return (because they took wing the instant I stepped out the back door). About 20 minutes later, I got something even better than finches!!!

I got a few more shots before they found unguarded faire elsewhere, but nothing outstanding because, it turns out, blue jays do not like people. They are social, but not with humans. Everything I could find about attracting blue jays said watch them from the window. I also learned they don't like to share their food. They will intimidate other birds.

They may scare other birds away from the feeders, but they sure sparked interest from winged creatures within earshot.

I stopped feeding the birds and the squirrels and the raccoons earlier this summer because I couldn't keep them out of my tomatoes, even with a makeshift scarecrow made of old clothing worn out by me and by Lizard. I'd be willing to tolerate squirrels and raccoons (as long as they stay away from my tomatoes, which are dead now until next spring) for the oppotunity to get better shots of these guys and gals! They have the most beautiful wings! Definite quilt inspiration!

25 October 2021

Snowflake Monday

I really like last week's Mojo II Snowflake, but I thought it would be prettier with a different center. I have been putting solid centers in snowflakes that will be embellished with holiday buttons. I played around with the center to come up with today's variation on the theme. I also had time to make a second prototype to show a different way to pin the spokes.

You may do whatever you'd like with snowflakes you make from this pattern, but you may not sell or republish the pattern. Thanks, and enjoy!

Finished Size: 7.5 inches from point to point
Materials: Size 10 crochet thread, size 7 crochet hook, empty pizza box, wax paper or plastic wrap, cellophane tape, water soluble school glue or desired stiffener, water, glitter, small container for glue/water mixture, paintbrush, stick pins that won't be used later for sewing, clear thread or fishing line

Mojo Hearts Snowflake Instructions

Make magic ring.

Round 1: Ch 6 (counts as 1 tr and [ch 3), 1 tr in ring] 5 times; ch 3, sl st in 3rd ch of starting ch 6. Pull magic circle tight.

Round 2: Ch 2 (counts as 1 dc), 2 fpdc around ch 3/tr in Round 1, [5 fpdc around next Round 1 tr] 5 times; 2 fpdc around top of Round 1 ch 3/tr; sl st in 2nd ch of starting ch 2.

Round 3: Ch 2 (counts as 1 dc), 2 dc in same ch as sl st, [ch 3, 1 sc in 3rd ch from hook (picot made), sk next 4 dc, 5 dc in next dc (middle dc of Round 2 5/dc shell),] 6 times, omitting last 3 dc of final repeat; sl st in 2nd ch of starting ch 2.
If you're not reading this pattern on Snowcatcher, you're not reading the designer's blog. Please go here to see the original.

Round 4: Ch 11 (counts as 1 dc and [ch 9), sk next 2 dc, sk next picot, sk next 2 dc, 1 dc in next dc, ch 25, 1 sc in 20th ch from hook and in next ch, 1 hdc in each of next 2 ch, 1 dc in each of next 2 ch, 1 dc in same middle dc of Round 3 5/dc shell] 6 times, omitting last dc of final repeat; sl st in 2nd ch of starting ch 11; bind off.

Finish: Tape wax paper or plastic wrap to top of empty pizza box. Pin snowflake to box on top of wax paper or plastic wrap.

If using glue, mix a few drops of water with a teaspoon of glue in small washable container. Paint snowflake with glue mixture or desired stiffener. Sprinkle lightly with glitter. Wash paintbrush and container thoroughly. Allow snowflake to dry at least 24 hours. Remove pins. Gently peel snowflake from wax paper or plastic wrap. Attach 10-inch clear thread to one spoke, weaving in end. Wrap fishing line around tree branch (or tape to ceiling or any overhead surface) and watch snowflake twirl freely whenever you walk by! Snowflake also may be taped to window or tied to doorknob or cabinet handle.

21 October 2021


My mother-in-law had to buy a new sewing machine last year during the height of the pandemic. Like me, before I had to buy a new domestic, she'd been using a 30-year-old machine, but only for mending and denim rag quilts. Like me the first time I get any new sewing or quilting machine, she was hesitant to test-drive her new Brother. Both of us longed to be able to spend time together, and not just to visit after such a long absence. She was hoping I could help her become more acquainted with her new machine, which is a pretty decent upgrade from my now three- or four-year-old Brother.

We recently spent a week together doing almost nothing but staying home (although Lizard and I did walk and ride in the neighborhood every day) and enjoying the peace and quiet that sometimes seems fleeting at my house now that I'm working from home. It was my first non-medical time off in nearly two years (except for a similar visit back in May that turned out to be funeral planning and attending, rather than any kind of relaxation). I had no idea how much I needed a break from work and medical appointments. Now I'm excited for the next time I get to take some time off and do nothing. Who knew there is life outside of being a weekend warrior after a tough family diagnosis?!?

First up was showing Lizard's mom how to thread the machine and wind bobbins. I've been telling her for a year now I would teach her to quilt. A walking foot came with her machine! I have not purchased one for mine yet. But I bought a longarm right around the same time as Lizard's Parkinson's diagnosis, hoping quilting might be good therapy for him, as well as a super enjoyable pastime for me. So I can't give walking foot lessons yet. I do still FMQ on my Brother once in a while, but I'm trying to do most of my quilting on the longarm these days so I can gain proficiency.

My mother-in-law convinced us to visit a quilt shop in her home town, and boy, was that dangerous! But not because of any germs! It had been so long since I'd been able to see so much fabric in one place. My budget was in peril for at least half an hour! I ended up buying two charm packs so I could show my mother-in-law disappearing four-patch and disappearing nine-patch piecing as a beginner project.

Now I'm going to have to keep an eye out for a good charm pack (or layer cake...) sale with fabric she might enjoy. I think she'll eventually try the method with denim because she seemed fascinated by all the many options. I think she will have a lot of fun if I can find just the right cotton prints.

Initially, I thought this Snow What Fun charm pack might become the back for a WIP at my house. Once I started playing with blocks, my mother-in-law decided they would become the perfect baby quilt for her neighbor's newborn premie twins. Initially, my mother-in-law thought perhaps she might be able to make a pair of quilts for the babies once I finished piecing these blocks. But then she decided she'd rather have me finish two giftable baby quilts for her while she learns the basics on her machine. Now I just have to figure out what to make for the other twin.

I had to add some of my own blue snowflake stash at home to make the different-sized blocks fit together and to make the quilt top big enough. I ordered a yard of the cute dark blue penguin and polar bear print for the back, and it finally arrived yesterday. So I hope to have this half of the twin project finished next week!

Linking up with Alycia Quilts and Confessions of a Fabric Addict.

19 October 2021

Back in the Saddle Again

538 days ago, Lizard completed what we both feared would be his last ride ever, shown above. Back in August of 2018, he was diagnosed with Parkinson's, possibly early onset, but his cycling had held it at bay. By the end of 2018, the Parkinson's forced him to retire from his job.

The key to Parkinson's is staying active. We tried SO hard to do just that. But knee pain was robbing him of his ability to walk, as well as pedal. The Parkinson's began to take a higher toll by the month. A new knee was scheduled for September, but pre-op resulted in yet another diagnosis, as well as a surgery delay. Lizard also has Graves Disease.

His thyroid was normalized by December, and the new knee was installed. The surgeon warned us the trauma of surgery might make the Parkinson's worse. It did. But we were so happy to be able to walk together again, and we had great faith and hope Lizard would be able to ride again one day. We even thought, not knowing what 2020 would become, we might be able to be back on the bikes and in shape to Ride the Rockies for the 35th anniversary tour, which would have been that June. The ride got delayed until this year, just like everything else in 2020.

Lizard did, however, get back on his bike after months of physical therapy. We were trying to increase our mileage so we could do Ride the Rockies. We still had no clue it would be postponed a year. By April 29, 2020, we were up to 13 miles. Progress was slow, but 13 miles was better than sitting on the couch! But at the end of that ride, Lizard couldn't get his leg over the bike to dismount. Words cannot describe the fear that enveloped both of us as within days, he was unable to walk.

I thought it was the Parkinson's. Our neurologist, like all other doctors all over the state, was unable to see patients in the office until about June. We had a few telehealth calls to discuss the rapid progress of the Parkinson's, but some things just can't be diagnosed over the phone.

The day our neurologist was able to see patients again in his office, he called and asked if we could come right in. And that we did. He ran a few tests, and he determined back pain was the culprit.

Another surgery, along with another warning the trauma might cause the Parkinson's to get worse, was scheduled for August. Lizard got a new back. He had to learn to walk again. And he had to learn to ride his bike again. He had to learn to talk loud again. He had to learn to sort again. He had to learn to work a computer and a phone again. There's still much to be done, and we work on his skills, his balance, his gait and his voice every single day.

There are days when he isn't sure he will ever get back what he lost. And he may not get it all back. But he's not giving up the fight.

He sometimes watches his old GoPro descents for motivation. He even pulled out the old GoPro to see if he can get it working again. In June of this year, he was finally able to get back on his bike. He rode to the stop sign and back while neighbors who stayed nearby just in case we needed help cheered and built his confidence even more. Within a couple of weeks, he was trying to ride up Waterton Canyon again. On September 11th, he finally was able to make it to the top of the canyon.

We've learned we truly can't take big bites yet. We'd learned in PT we can't increase distance or effort by 10% each ride or even each week. We have to increase every six weeks or so. But the more Lizard rides, the better he feels. The more active he becomes, the more we're able to control the gruesome tremors and restless legs. His balance is improving. His legs are getting a little stronger. And he's still relearning what LOUD therapy taught him a year ago. Parkinson's skews everything and makes him think he's yelling when he's merely mumbling softly.

We spent a week in Grand Junction with his family last month, and for the first time since April 2020, Lizard was able to ride every day. Only three to six miles, but better than sitting on the couch! It's something we try to continue now back at home, but my work often gets in the way. Soon, weather is going to be the biggest hurdle.

I got the bright idea in Grand Junction to try to get a shot of Lizard with an airplane soaring above him. I'd done a similar shot of my son in Alaska back in the 1990s, and Lizard was game to try. He LOVES aircraft!

We weren't able to be in the right place at the right time, thanks to restless legs and what may have been flight delays, so I photoshopped a jet into the photo, and you can darn sure bet we'll be trying to do this for real next time we're back in canyon country! For now, the photo gives him lots of reasons to keep trying and to keep riding.

Last weekend, Lizard was ready to try once again the very same trail he thought had ended his cycling passion last year. Initially, he wanted to park in a different spot to begin the ride because he was afraid the same lot might jinx him. I convinced him the parking lot is fine, the bicycle is fine, the trail is fine, and he is fine. We could do this!

And he did!!! He rode six miles on the trail he was afraid he'd never be able to ride again. Many of our rides these days wipe him out for a day or more, but he's sleeping better than he ever did last year, and when he's ready to get back on that bike again, his smile can light up the darkest day!

There is still so much going on in this world that keeps many from doing what they want to do and being where they want to be. There are so many things we miss, thanks to Parkinson's. But we aren't giving up. We're going to keep fighting this thing, and we're going to have wins. We might not be able to do another Ride the Rockies, and he might not ever be able to do another Triple Bypass. But if he can ride a few miles each day, that's better than sitting on the couch!

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