Sunday, June 30, 2019

A Sewing Day

But first I walked around the block, did my daily yoga, watched CBS Sunday Morning ("slow news for old people," according to DIL1; I do love her, she cracks me up), then read the paper.  The red day lilies are blooming like crazy.  I wish they'd bloom longer but each flower only lives one day and when all of the buds have opened, they're finished.  *sigh*  I love the color, the blend of orange-y red and yellow looks amazing next to the green leaves.

Then I headed downstairs for the rest of the day and into the evening and got what I'm calling the Pineapple Swimsuit done.  I used a couple old Stretch & Sew patterns that I've used a bunch of times before so the construction was familiar and I even remembered a couple shortcuts. I tried it on and the top isn't as roomy as I'd hoped, the overskirt part is a bit snug but it's wearable.  As a first draft or prototype it'll do.  I want to redraw the overtop pattern pieces to see if I can make the next one fit my mental picture.  It's a good thing I unearthed that bin of swimsuit fabric last winter.  I even have lining fabric and elastic.  I will sew up the two Dresses no. 1 that are cut out first, though.

Tomorrow is the first day of Camp NaNoWriMo.  Instead of plunging into another 50,000 word manuscript during the month (like regular National Novel Writing Month in November) I've set a goal of writing 30 hours in the 31 days of July.  I figure that way I'll finish/redo the Seaview outline/timeline and get a bunch of scenes written to fill out the word count of the manuscript to bring it up to what publishers want.  

30 June--Barbara Malcolm, Horizon.

"Let us give each other a sign of peace," the priest intoned near the end of Mass.  "Peace be with you."  He turned to each altar attendant and shook their hands and then stepped out from behind the altar to greet those in the front pew.  The congregation stirred to life, murmuring, "Peace be with you" to everyone in their vicinity.  It’s still a surprise to see women servers, I thought.  I miss altar boys and their high sweet voices calling the responses, but I suppose if the Church can move with the times, I can too.
            It was the Sunday after Thanksgiving and I was glad to be sitting in the relative silence of church.  As I had every year for the last five, I had spent the day at Clara and Hank’s with, as Clara said, all their “in-laws and out-laws.”  They were a rowdy and gregarious bunch and I know Clara liked having an extra pair of hands and the use of my oven to bake her green bean casserole and candied yams in.
            I felt a tap on my shoulder as I disengaged myself from a rather suffocating hug from old Miss Simmons with her cloying violet toilet water.  Where does she find the awful stuff? I wondered.  I bet she distills it herself.  I scolded myself, not very nice church thoughts, Gail.  I turned to see who had tapped me and came face to face with Abel Baker.  He had his hand extended and said, "Peace be with you, Mrs. Logan."  I gave him my hand and responded in kind.  "Are you staying for the fellowship after the service?" he asked.   Before I thought, I answered yes.  A satisfied look settled on his face as I turned back to the Mass.
I could have kicked myself for speaking before thinking.  I was not in the market for another man in my life.  It had taken me eight years to move from being Bert's wife to the place I was now.  Changing the way I dress, cutting my hair and, most of all, taking up watercolor had finally opened my eyes to the endless possibilities of life.  I was not interested in another husband or even a boyfriend, for that matter.  I had a feeling if I was the least little bit nice or encouraging to Mr. Baker he'd take over my life in a heartbeat and I'd be right back where I started, living my life for everyone but myself.
I briefly considered making a quick getaway as soon as the final hymn began but had somehow gotten trapped between Miss Simmons and her niece, Ella, who took forever to get out of the pew and make their way down to the Fellowship Hall, and Ruby Tilden and her brood of six children, the youngest a babe in arms and the rest going up in one year steps to the eldest, Jeremy.  It took Ruby and her husband Jim an eternity to gather up all the baby paraphernalia, toys and snacks she brought along each week to try and keep them happy for the hour of Mass.
I was so distracted I was surprised to hear the beginning chords of the recessional hymn fill the church and the rustle of parishioners slipping into their coats and tucking the weekly bulletin into purses or pockets.  It always amused me that the voices of the congregation were much stronger singing the ending hymn, as if people were excited to leave.  Or maybe it was just that they were an hour more awake?  Leaving church after Mass with that beautiful music in my ears never failed to uplift me and send me home feeling good for the entire day, but not today.  All that was on my mind was how I could gulp a cup of Sister Terese's delicious coffee without scalding my gullet, say hello to a few friends, and get out of there without encountering the looming charm of Mr. Abel Baker.  Maybe I'd introduce him to Ella.  She'd been a widow for years longer than me and maybe she was in the market for a bossy squire.  Her late husband, Alfred, had been a pale, nervous man who jumped whenever Ella said jump.  Maybe Ella was pining for a masterful man who could make her swoon.
The mere thought of Ella Marshall, a formidable woman dressed perpetually in shades of gray which made her look even more like the battleship her height and girth suggested, swooning over a man gave me the giggles.  Which earned me a stern glare from Miss Simmons and a wink from Ralph Krinkle, the local butcher who imagined himself the Lothario of the county, leaving his pew across the aisle, his hand cupping the elbow of an overdressed woman I assumed to be his latest conquest.  Must be from the city.  No one around here would wear what looked like a dark blue satin cocktail dress and a little pillbox hat with a veil to Mass anymore.  Those are uncharitable thoughts, Gail, I thought, and in church too.  Aren’t you trying to be less judgmental?  I murmured a quick apology to the Blessed Mother and said a Hail Mary, hoping to appease God and whatever saints happened to be looking down.
As I passed the pew behind mine, frustrated at the stately progress of Ella and her aunt, a hand connected to an arm in a dove gray suit took my hand and I looked to see Mr. Baker thread my left arm through his.
“I was afraid you would try to avoid me, Mrs. Logan,” he said.  “I'm looking forward to sharing a cup of coffee and something sweet with you.”
Unable to think of a quick response to his remark, I concentrated on trying to untangle my arm from his, but he had his hand over mine and refused to let go.
“I'm sorry, Mr. Baker,” I finally squeaked out, “I seem to have developed a splitting headache during Mass.  I think I'll go on home and lie down.  I'm sorry.” 
Just then we emerged into the church vestibule and I slid between the people chatting in groups, opened the door, and set off across the parking lot toward my car.
           “Mrs. Logan,” Mr. Baker said from behind me, “allow me to walk you to your car.”  And this time the gray-suited arm slipped around my waist. 
I couldn't see a way to escape without making a scene.  I was sure to be the topic of gossip all over town all week long, judging from the number of hawk-eyed women who glared at me as I drove out of the lot and made my way home, wishing for a cup of Sister Terese’s coffee and a little lemon bar.  Darn that Abel Baker.

I can't believe that today's the last day of June.  That means that half of 2019 is over, finished, finito.  Boggles my mind.  It was so humid today.  I was glad that I hopped up and walked my lap around the block before 8 o'clock because it was hot and sticky enough then, I wouldn't have wanted to be out huffing and puffing my way around in the midday heat.  It even rained for a short time around noon which I'm sure only added to the humidity.  Thank god for air conditioning.

Saturday, June 29, 2019


The flowers in the front of the house are a-bloom!  Dad's roses are blooming in bouquets, at least four blossoms on each cane.  And the Japanese Beetles haven't found them yet.  Once they do all of the flowers will be devoured.

The red day lilies are blooming too.  I rescued this plant from the corner of the lot when the streetlight pole fell over a couple Easters ago.


When I came back from walking around the block this morning I saw this mushroom that's almost as big as a saucer in the renters' front yard.  Must be some decomposing wood under the grass.


Speaking of the streetlight, this spiderwort is growing next to it.  I don't know how it escaped being destroyed in the light post fall or from being buried by salty snowbanks every winter but it's a testament to the resilience of the plant that it survived.  I knew the first time I saw this plant at the nursery and read on the tag that it thrives on "poor soil and neglect" that it was the plant for me.

There are more flowers on the patty pan squash in the garden too.  I won't go out there to check on the garden for a couple days because I noticed today that there's a slight haze of green over the straw on the lawn.  Fingers crossed that the grass grows in fairly well.  It's been raining and I've been watering.

My friend KW texted this morning asking if I wanted to go walk in the Y pool with her and, of course, I said yes.  There weren't any families in the pool today so we could trudge back and forth for half an hour without having to dodge balls or kids.  Speaking of walking, I got a bunch of answers to my question about that tree.  Everyone said that it's a horse chestnut, a relative of the buckeye.  And the balls are poisonous, at least that's what one person said on Instagram.  Doesn't matter because I don't intend to eat them but it's good to know.

In sewing news I finished the red striped Dress no. 3 this afternoon.  The pattern's written for woven fabric.  I made this out of t-shirt knit so it's experimental, but I like the way it looks and feels.  I have to confess that the bias binding that I had WAS the right stuff so I will return the packages I bought yesterday because I did hang on to that receipt.  I just shook my head when I realized that I'd been completely wrong when I looked at the single fold bias tape and raced to the fabric store to buy the right stuff, which was the wrong stuff.  How many of these patterns have I made?  More than a dozen and each one has binding at the neckline at the very least, so how could I have been so completely off base?  I haven't got a clue.


The jellyroll race quilt picnic blanket turned out just the way I hoped.  I dug out some wider, double-fold binding that I used on the edge and I like it fine.   Now I just need to nab LC and OJ for a picnic to try it out. 

29 June--Barbara Malcolm, Horizon. 

The next weekend Samara and I were sitting in the kitchen after I showed her my studio.  She was amazed at all my paintings.  Her eyes kept darting around the kitchen walls.  She pushed her chair back and stood up.
            “Oh my God, it’s like I’m in Monet’s house.  These flowers are fabulous.”   She walked around the room examining each painting in turn.  “I feel like I can smell them.  I told you that you were the best in class.”
I had to admit that standing back and looking at my work as a whole gave me a more objective feeling about it.  Maybe June was right; when you’re painting you’re too close to see the whole picture.  You have to step back—squinting helps, too, especially with my Impressionist style.
            I busied myself getting out glasses and a pitcher of fresh apple cider.  While I was pouring, I said, “Samara, I have an idea.”
            I put the glasses on the table and sat down.  “There’s going to be a craft fair at my church on December first.  You know, Christmas gifts and things.  What do you think about seeing if we can rent a booth and sell some of our paintings?”
            Samara was stunned.  “Oh my gosh, Gail.  Are you serious?”
            “Yes, I am.”
            “That would be so awesome.  What brought this on?  You’re usually so shy about showing your work.”
            “Well, I was looking at the prints in that frame shop in Simpson and realized our stuff’s at least as good, maybe better.  Plus, I’ve got every surface and most of the walls in my studio covered and the rest of the house crammed full, too.  I’m running out of places to hang paintings.  Selling some at a craft fair might be just the thing to help clear it out.  And if people liked my art, and bought it, I might start to believe what everyone in class has been saying.  I’ll bet your earrings would be a big hit.”

It's hot and humid so I'm happy to hide in the basement like a mole and sew the day away.  Tomorrow I think I'll work on that experimental swimsuit I cut out months ago.  I watched most of Thursday night's Democratic debate today so that'll be my excuse to spend the day sewing--I have to listen to the rest to be informed.  As if I need an excuse.  Oh, I was awakened this morning by the sound of something falling but thought I'd dreamed it.  It wasn't until this evening that I realized that the wooden clamp shelf that Grandpa Stephan made that I'd hung up a couple months ago had slipped its moorings and fallen with my small collection of non-cow cream pitchers along for the ride.  Nothing was broken but I guess that Command Strips aren't strong enough to hold it all.  Now I have to decide if I want to put wall anchors in or pack the stuff away.  Or get rid of it.  Anyone want a cream pitcher shaped like an elk?

Friday, June 28, 2019

Farm Report


Trying not to squash any new grass, I tiptoed out to the garden this morning to see what's growing and found lots of interesting things.  Like tiny yellow flowers on my Sweet 100 tomato plant,

lots of happy lettuces (chicken wire protects them from rabbits),

three potato plants growing like crazy with their onion balemates,



carrots and radishes coexisting happily,

and a mushroom! (I've been half-convinced that my bales had some sort of anti-fungal spray since no mushrooms had grown but there are some now.  Whew.)


I've started to walk around the block in the mornings and can't figure out what kind of tree this is.  It's short, has seven leaflets on each leaf, and clusters of pale green spiky balls.  Anyone know what kind of tree this is?  It isn't on my tree ID folder and I can't narrow it down to search on the web.  Help!

A Bluejay visited the spilled cracked corn this morning.  It's been months since I've seen one.  Welcome back.


I frogged (ripped out) the Fake Isle hat.  I've been avoiding knitting on it for weeks and admitted today that I just don't enjoy the technique so I turned it back into two balls of yarn.  I tried.  This yarn will be happy making something else one of these days.


The June Seaman's Cowl is getting taller.  It's the perfect project for sitting and chatting--knit 2, purl 2 around and around until it's 6-7" tall.  Mindless knitting, little thinking required.  Perfect.

I spent some time downstairs sewing up a knit Dress no. 3 until I realized that the last handful of packages of bias binding I bought is the wrong stuff.  (Do I have the receipt?  No, of course not.  So I went over to Joann's and got the right stuff--and that's all I bought except for some small d-rings to fix the grandkid apron strap.)  I stay-stitched the neckline and will sew on the binding and hem the sleeves and bottom tomorrow while watching Thursday night's Democratic debate on YouTube.  I meant to watch it when it was on both nights and completely forgot.  Lala mentioned it today so I found it and watched Wednesday's broadcast on my iPad while I pinned and sewed this afternoon.  Very interesting stuff.  Ten is a lot of candidates to showcase in two hours and there's ten more.  Holy crap.  I might need to make notes.

28 June--Barbara Malcolm, Horizon.

           Clara opened my back door when I got to the steps.  “What took you so long?  I nearly froze out there so I let myself in.”
           “We stayed longer at the cafĂ©.  I was afraid you’d think I’d fallen in a hole.  You weren’t worried, were you?”
           “A bit.  I made the tea already.  Grab a mug.”
           “I feel like I did coming home after a dance to find Mom waiting up for me,” I said as I hung up my coat.  “Clara, you are not going to believe what just happened.”
           “What?  Did Abel show up and ask you out?”
           I sat down across from her and poured myself some tea.  “Floyd made a pass at me.”
           “The old guy?  The gnome?  He made a pass?”  She chuckled.  “Well, I’ll be.”
           “It was awful.  At first he said he admired my paintings and suggested we get together at his studio some afternoon.  Then he ground himself into me and tried to grab my breasts.  When I pushed his hands away and said I didn’t want a boyfriend, he told me he had a wife and a girlfriend already.”
           “Why, that old goat.”
           “Exactly.  His exact words were, ‘How about a little tumble?’  Can you believe it?”
           “I don’t know how you could resist that line.”  She tried to take a sip of her tea but snorted it up her nose instead.  That started the two of us giggling.  “Do you think he’s invited many women to his studio?” she managed to choke out.
            It took me a minute to catch my breath.  “Oh, maybe when he was younger he did but these days I imagine it’s all in his mind.”
           Clara nodded.  “So, when are you two getting together?” she said.  “To paint, I mean.”
           I looked to see if she was serious, but her eyes sparkled with mischief.   
          “Oh, Floyd’s hard to resist, but I think I’ll wait for a better offer.  One from a man who is a little younger and not as likely to stroke out if he gets too excited, if you know what I mean.”

I ran to the grocery for a quick stop on my way home from knitting and thought the sunset was worth a picture or two.  I'm always happy to find a place where the sky is big.