Sunday, May 26, 2013

To Those Who Stand on the Wall

Today is a holiday to honor those men and women who died while in service to our country.  My family had several members in the armed forces but to my knowledge only one died in service - my Uncle Louie.  I think no one felt his lose greater than my father. They were of like personalities, close in age and part of a large blended family (Their widowed father married a widowed woman with children of her own.) Uncle Louie died before I was born in the Pacific Theater during World War II and is known to me only through family stories.  But I think he would have probably become a favorite uncle if we had met.  
When I first met my husband and we began sharing stories of our past, we discovered how different our childhoods had been.  I lived in the same house until I left for college.  My father was home every night.  I remember only one trip he took for business which kept him away for about three nights during that entire 18 years at home.  As a child my husband moved at least every three years as his father's duty station changed.  His father was often away for long periods of time, sometimes to parts unknown.  Communication during those times was infrequent or impossible.  They had a silent, secret fear on the "notification" team when Dad was away.  I understood for the first time the truth in the saying, "They also serve who sit and wait."  How true.

During this comparison of our childhoods my husband paused and then said, "You were able to have that secure, consistent childhood because others chose to stand on the wall and keep watch.  And that's what my father and I chose to do.  We kept watch to assure that the freedom to live in peace, the ability for fathers to come home every night, the right to live as a family in a house that you owned would be possible for families like yours.  We stood on the wall."  Instantly we were connected in a new way.  All those years that I lived in the same house on the same street; all those nights that my father came home to dinner, watched TV with us and bought ice cream in the evenings - all that was possible because a man I didn't know was risking his life to keep us safe - a man I would only meet years later.  And he was not alone in his sacrifice.  There were many others also keeping watch.

And so with deep gratitude to all of those who have stood on the wall and to their families who supported them, worried about them and waited for them and with special remembrance to those who gave their lives for the protection of my life and my way of life:  Thank you. 

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Empty Nest

Our baby robins have left the nest.
They grew fast and strong.  Here are some pictures of them at different "ages:
Young and featherless.....

A tad bit bigger:

And bigger yet:

Mama and Daddy did a great job of feeding this brood.  But then a few days ago as I was watching them, one got shoved out of the nest to a branch right beside!  He couldn't figure out how to get back because of the placement of the branches.  Mama seemed to ignore him when she brought food and I became worried.  I thought we had a potential bird crisis.  I kept checking on him.  It seemed like he was having a difficult time holding onto the branch.  Then, one check found him gone!  I ran downstairs hoping I didn't find a bird splat, but there he was, a few feet below the nest on another branch:

I was still kind of worried, but apparently all is well in the robin world.  We left for a short time and when we came back he was gone.  I thought I would see the babies hopping around the ground for a day or two learning how to be robins, but it seems as though these fellas just flew off to live the rest of their days as happy robins.

The other two remained in the nest.  I checked on them that evening and a second baby was standing on the edge of the nest.  It seemed like he wanted to fly but wasn't quite sure.  By morning there was only one left:

He too stood on the edge for quite awhile this morning.  Finally while my back was turned, he flew away.  So all three babies are launched into the robin-y world.  And I've refilled the feeder that I let go empty to give Mrs. Robin a bit of peace to raise her family.  I'm sure my usual customers will soon discover that the feeder is again operational.

It's been such a joy and privilege to have this close up and inside look at the robin family.  I've learned a lot about nesting birds and robins in particular.  If fact we're thinking of putting up some bird houses in the backyard to try to attract other nesting birds.  But this up close view right outside my window was so very special.  And I'll wonder as I see robins in the yard now if any of them are "my babies." 

Friday, May 17, 2013

Steubenville Pottery: Do You Know It?

One of my weaknesses has always been dishes.  I don't go in for the fine china like Lennox or Mikasa.  I like the everyday stuff and particularly pieces from around 1940 or so.  And I'm rather fond of the potteries in the Ohio Valley.  Most of these are long gone but their wares are their legacy.  This is a dish from my mother's house that I've always loved:
It's a luncheon sized plate.  I've always liked the colors and the shape.  I have about 5 of these and perhaps six of a smaller, round size from the same pattern. I've looked and looked for more of them.  I know it's an old Steubenville Pottery pattern.  Here's the mark on the back:

I've searched antique malls, flea markets, yard sales, eBay, all without any luck.  I can't even find reference to the pattern name.  I've registered the picture with Replacements luck. I made flyers with the above pictures and my contact information and handed them out at antiques malls from here to Columbus, Ohio.  No luck.   I've scoured the internet.  No luck.  I've considered that this may have been a pattern given out in boxes of detergent or some other product and perhaps that's why we always had so few.  I never remember an entire set of these being in our kitchen.  So, on my "bucket list" is a trip to Steubenville.  It isn't that far from Columbus (where son #3 attends school) but we have never seemed to take the time to make the little side trip up there.  I've spent time in other old pottery towns in the Ohio valley and I know that there are most likely people who worked their entire life in the pottery and could take one look at my picture and answer all my questions.  They may even have a few matching pieces.

So, my appeal is.....if any of you out there have ever seen this plate or other pieces that would match, please let me know.  And if anyone knows the pattern name or even a lead on information on older Steubenville products I would love to hear from you!

Monday, May 13, 2013

News From the Nest: More Pictures!!

I was able to get some better shots of the little ones today!  Mama was off her nest and I caught the babies napping:
Then she came back and the most active one decided that he should have a snack:

If your new to this story the background is:  a few weeks ago a robin built a nest in this tree right outside the window of my sewing room.  I've had great fun watching her mind her eggs and now her young.  It has really been special!

A New Welcome Mat

I found this at Lowe's last week and just couldn't pass it up:
......for the Dorothy in all of us.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

A Mother's Embroidery

Today is Mother's Day and since I've posted several times about my own mother, I thought I would write a post today about my mother-in-law.  My mother-in-law was known to me mostly by my husband's stories and my few short years of time with her.  She was truly an amazing woman who overcame quite a bit of adversity in her early life.  She was a dedicated military officer's wife and handled the uncertainty and mobility of that life with grace, loyalty and pride.  Somewhere along the line she taught herself to embroider.  I have a few pieces of her work hanging in my house.  Look at the incredible detail and perfection of the stitches.
Sadly, by the time I met her she had lost her eyesight and could no longer continue her hobby.  She faced her blindness with the same strength and grace that defined her life.  I didn't realize the depth of her needle skills until after she died and we were cleaning out her apartment and I realized just how very much the loss of her eyesight had taken away from her.  I'm glad these pieces remain.  Belongings are often a very temporary thing in the career military family with items being purged at every move.  These exemplify her elegance and grace.  Her story tells of her tenacity and strength.  I'm privileged to have known her even if only for such a short time

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Craftsy Block of the Month: May

I struggled with this block more than I should have.  I think the main problem was my expectation.  The block was referred to as a "spool" and that's what I wanted mine to look like.  But it only looks like a spool when you have certain color combinations and I couldn't quite figure out what combos were best.  Also, given the way you do the cutting, the colors will be reversed in half the blocks.  I finally just wanted it to be over and ended up with this:
Here are all the blocks so far in their approximate location on the final quilt.  I"ll probably move the "spools" around a bit:

Friday, May 10, 2013

Craftsy Finish: Low Volume Tiles

This is the second project from the Craftsy class Inspired Modern Quilts taught by Elizabeth Hartman.  I'm really enjoying her lessons.  She has a great teaching style.  This project is made of 12 blocks that each contain 12 different fabrics cut into 12 different sized blocks.  So there are no two identical pieces in the entire piece.  It ends up measuring about 30" x 40".
I decided to try to make this binding using the Clover bias tool.  It worked well, but I wish I had gotten the next size up.

I'm a bit confused about the function of this piece.  It's about the right size for a crib quilt, but the composition doesn't seem to a child's quilt.  So for now, it will just be part of my "collection".  In case my artsy photo on the chair doesn't provide a good overall view here are the front and back straight on:

Thursday, May 9, 2013

News From the Nest: We Have Babies!!

Late yesterday morning Mrs. Robin's eggs hatched!!  I was able to see her feeding them only one time and snapped this picture which isn't the greatest.  You can see a worm in her mouth that she fed to the little ones if you are able to make the picture larger.  I could count two "robinettes", but there might be a third in there.  She still spends a lot of time on the nest and they seem to spend most of the day napping.  I'm going to try to catch feeding time again and get a better picture.  It would help if the sun would come out to improve the shot.  The baby birds blend in with the nest so they are extremely hard to see in the picture.  And once they start their chirping I should have a better idea of when to go to the window.
This morning is cloudy but sunshine is promised this afternoon, so maybe I'll be able to catch a good picture!

Remember When

A few days ago I shared pictures of some recently finished blocks including this one:
Notice the pink fabric in the pinwheel?  That piece of fabric has been in my stash for a long time.  Every time I considered using it, the color just didn't fit.  The pink is sort of pale and it didn't go with much.  But when I went to make this block, it was the perfect fit.  The red has some pink in it also which isn't visible in this picture.  Anyway, I opened up this fabric to find that it was way older than I realized.  Apparently it was bought by my mother and somehow ended up with me.  The fabric is only 36 inches wide. (I remember when that was the norm and we were glad to find 45 inch fabric to work with!)  But, best of all though, the price tag was still attached.
Can you believe that price?!?!  Wow.  And now it's vintage fabric. 

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

News from the Nest

Recently I reported that a  robin is "with eggs" just outside my sewing room window.  I've been keeping a daily watch on the little family to be and can report that Mrs. Robin continues to sit on her nest.  Occasionally a loud noise from my sewing room will scare her and she will step off for a bit.  Mr. Robin occasionally takes a turn sitting on the eggs to give her a bit of a break.  He kind of overflows the nest a bit and doesn't fit in as nicely as the Mrs. She has faithfully sat through several days of rain without complaint protecting her babies. The nest is held together with mud and I worry that all the dampness is taking a toll on the structural integrity.  It looks a bit droopy lately. But, those little robins should be ready to break out any day now making me a birdy grandma! Here's the latest picture taken through the window and blinds before we started our rainy season.  She seems to be looking right at the camera!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Country Threads Block of the Month: May

I feel like I'm way behind on my sewing projects and my blogging.  May has been busy from the start.  Last weekend was our neighborhood yard sale and in keeping with my New Year's resolution to continually declutter, we did some major cleaning out and successfully found homes for many of our belongings.  But yard sales are work before and after which severely cut into sewing time.  I'm catching up now thanks to several days of rain.

So, first off, here are my May Country Thread Block of the Month blocks:
And the whole collection up to now:

So, here are my new thoughts on this experience.  I like the idea of a block a month and building the quilt little by little.  In this case I even know what it will look like in the end since a picture of the whole quilt was provided.  But as the months go by, I change little by little as a quilter.  My fabric collection changes a bit, my eye for color, even my cutting and piecing skill change.  So as the months go on I sometimes become less happy with blocks I made in the beginning.  Some of these blocks I like and some I'm not too happy with for one reason or another.  I've only redone one of this batch and my new decision is not to redo any more until I get to the end.  Even though a color may look out of place now, once everything is considered it might fit in just fine. 

Tomorrow is suppossed to be rainy again, so perhaps I can catch up a bit more.