Friday, September 30, 2011

Solitary Hotel Retreat!

I think there are times when it is GREAT to be able to be alone and to de-stress by throwing myself into a project.

As much as I love being out there and doing, doing, doing, sometimes I just have to go into AWAY FROM IT ALL mode to re-charge.

I’ve enjoyed my time with the guild here, we had an awesome Spider Web workshop today ((pictures to come later!)) and a great dinner out at a Hungarian place. Tomorrow is a Pineapple Blossom workshop, and we are full to the gills with quilters coming from as far as Ohio, and other places. I know tomorrow will be such a great experience too ---

But last night after dinner, this morning before going to the workshop, and this evening…..my focus has been SO SIMPLE!

I’m all set up and I’m having a Solitary Retreat. It even includes a free breakfast downstairs, and I even got in 30 minutes on the elliptical trainer this morning ---but most of all-- I’M SEWING!

Yes, see that pic? About a trilion-gazillion half square triangles have met their match! To be able to sew like this without even having to have a CONVERSATION with ANYONE is just so nice! Like a self imposed vow of silence, this time belongs to me.

I’m SEWING ---With no distractions. With whatever I want on the TV…….I’ve watched many episodes of NCIS, and tonight’s feature….”He’s Just Not That Into You”…..FUNNY MOVIE!

And I’m alone with my own thoughts, my own plotting and planning and reflecting and just “being.”

And I know this is not a very newsy informative exciting post, but it is just what I needed to remind myself that sometimes even being away from home can be set aside as a time for “ME.”

That’s all.

Gotta get back to the triangles….

Down to the Dining Room!

Funny how the connection is in Alaska…..

If there IS one, that is! :c)

((And that is said tongue in cheek, because most times I HAD a signal!)) I could get phone calls pretty readily, but something funny happens with long distance text-sending, ESPECIALLY if there is a photo attached..

The conversations go something like this

((Ring, Ring))

Me: HI!

DH: Did you get my text of the dining room floor demolition?

Me: ((!!!)) Text? Nope! When did you send it?

DH: HOURS ago! I thought you were too busy for me!

Me: Did you include a picture with it??? Pictures take FOREVER!

((Thinking: Of course, HOURS ago, I was still in bed. There is a 4 hour time difference between NC and AK, remember!?))

Simple texts will get there fairly well, but if you include an image in your text it can be like waiting for the slow boat from China. So we are sewing away, and a couple hours ((YES HOURS!)) later…..PING PING!! And in came the first pic!

Our dining room floor was 1970’s oak parquet. Every slat and piece GLUED to the under floor. It took a huge scrapping pounding thing to lift up each piece, and I’m sure it was back breaking work and a big MESS to get it up. I had no idea he was going to just dive right in to the dining room, but EVER so glad he dug in when I was not at home!

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More of the floor mess coming up. It’s not that it was a “BAD” floor, but it was VERY VERY worn over 30 years and needing a refinishing job anyway if it were to be salvaged, and some of the slats had already come loose. Better to just replace it so it would flow into the other floor.

The black scraper thing is propped against the back wall.

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This was another text! How do we dispose of unwanted oak slats? Build a BON FIRE of course! It had been raining for days, everything was soaking wet, and there was no wind, so it was a good time to just burn this stuff up rather than haul it off to the dump.

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Another text picture showed the floor going in! Isn’t it looking nice? This is the same “Yorkshire Oak” that went in the Sun Room. It was a no brainer this way. We had 2 boxes left over, and only had to purchase an additional 2 boxes to have enough to complete this room.

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Here it is, mostly put back together! The tall cabinet is one I picked up at a sale at a one-room school house in Idaho that was being torn down. I got the cabinet for $2.00 And then paid to have someone strip it!

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My big worry with doing this room “without me” was that DH would try to move the china cabinet without removing the china first! This thing is old and heavy and has the original glass in it. He didn’t! He moved the dining room table out, and emptied the contents of the cabinet on top of the table…and I spent Tuesday afternoon revisiting each piece and putting it all back away.

The two quilts you see hanging there on the doors are a couple of my really early ones…very well loved and very well faded out from use and abuse. Still love them!

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The lighting isn’t great, but here we are, new floor and furniture back! It’s just a tiny dining room nook, just perfect for 4 to 6 people. If we had more than that, we’d have to spill over to the living room with an extra table, but it could be done in a pinch. I like living cozy and small!

Some people get or expect fancy expensive gifts for a momentous 30th wedding anniversary. I got a sun room remodel and two new floors. I’d rather have THESE and the effort that went behind them. It’s way too easy to swipe a credit card at a store…..or order online. THIS? This took hard back breaking work and lots of TIME. The time is the most precious of all.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Oh, Rocky Top!

Hello from just the other side of Knoxville, TN!

I arrived in Oak Ridge just a bit ago, and when I checked into my hotel, the clerk at the desk said, “Oh, YOU are Bonnie Hunter! We had some crazy quilters check in a bit ago and they were looking for you!” Gosh, it’s nice to feel anticipated….friendly faces everywhere! We are going to have a great time, I can tell!

This morning I woke to the most BEAUTIFUL day --- what a day for a drive from Central North Carolina where I live, all the way through the Western side of the state, across the Smoky Mountains and over to the Tennessee side!

I left my house around 10:30 am, and after a short visit to the post office, hit the road. I love driving toward that first glimpse of mountains!

Granted, THESE mountains are much different than those I was viewing just a week ago in Alaska, but these mountains are HOME to me. Or right next door at any rate…The pic at the top was my first peek as I drove closer to Asheville. The leaves are just STARTING to turn yellow, but there were many early drifters floating across the highway as trucks and cars drove past….leaves are falling, ready or not!

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See that blue blue sky with the white puffy clouds? Temps in the mid to high 70s --- just gorgeous! And don’t worry..my eyes ARE on the road. I propped the camera on top of the steering wheel and was blindly shooting without looking at what was on the camera. I just HOPE that if I click about a dozen that some of them will turn out! This one did….I love the shadow of the clouds high up, showing on those mountains ahead!

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Hello Tennessee! And can you see the view in my rear view mirror of where I just came from?? It’s just as pretty in front of me as it is behind me!

It was a 4.5 hour drive and I feel pretty road weary. I can rest up a bit before dinner. MEXICAN is on the agenda….doesn’t that sound good? I’m sure they won’t have halibut tacos, though!

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Since this is a driving trip and a 3 night stay, I’ve brought some “Homework” with me to work on!! I think it was Julie in Cordova who loves to see how I set up in a hotel room for some solitary retreating. I’m set up! I’m ready! After dinner I’ll be burning some late night oil trying to get caught up on a few things in the pipe line.

That is IF that cozy bed doesn’t claim me first!


PS. If you get me on Google Reader, please disregard that post that came through last night that said "Hexie Uhoh"....it was a mis-fire! It will come through the feed later, I was trying to stack some things up in the queue and I got the wrong date on that one. Oops! My bad! Sorry to entice you, but it will come through in its own due time, promise! You didn't miss anything --- :cD

Unbelievable Mail!

When we pulled up from the airport on Monday evening, I found this box wedged into my mail box!

I didn’t remember ordering anything, but I was eager to get inside the box and find out what was inside.

I opened the box to find a note that said these items were something that was mistakenly “left out” of the “OTHER” box.

OTHER BOX?!

What other box?!

There was no other box --- so far at least --- but I had a great giggle at pawing through what was in THIS box!

Dig through the scissors for the "old" pair I use for paper and tape and all other "non fabric" cutting....

Anticipation is building!!

And ----

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UHOH!!! Millenium fabric! Right there on top!! Bwahahahhaha!! And look! It has CATS ;cD

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And right under it….that BLUE millenium fabric with the 2000’s all over it. Still got this in your stash? It’s time to use it up! Come on, it just reads as BLUE…..cut it small, cut it into strings even. It’s not getting any better just sitting there in your stash ;c)

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Look at all these wonderful vintage 80’s & 90’s calicoes! Some into the 70’s too I think….FUN FUN FUN!! I just love these! I’m going to have such a great time using these in scrap quilts. As I looked through each one, I remembered where I was in my life at the time these prints were popular. Love that bright yellow one you can see peeking out of the left corner!

These were still sitting on my cutting table the next morning when UPS showed up at my doorstep!

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The OTHER box, evidently! A BIG BOX!! With the SAME return address as the small box of calicoes that showed up the day before. My guess is the priority mail box beat the UPS man to my house :c)

But what could be in here? MORE FABRIC?!?!?!

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OH. MY. FREAKING. GOODNESS!!

There were things in bags, things I knew well……you should have heard my squeal! DH did….clear from his recliner in the living room. He had to give up his TV watching for an impromptu quilt show…cuz I stood right there in front of the TV and opened bag after bag….he had no choice, I was blocking his view of the Biggest Loser.. LOL!

This morning I took the quilts out so I could really photograph them in day light on my deck where the light was better.

The story, contained in a letter, goes like this:

((my words and comments in parentheses, or not bolded or italicized!))

Dear Bonnie,

My sister and I have been quilting for about 25 years now and I have been following your blog for the last couple of years. I just finished Hawk’s Nest and I have made Roll Roll Cotton Boll and Goose in the Puddle.

My Sister was diagnosed 3 years ago with Alzheimer’s and we are in the process of moving her into our home. It is small and we are having to weed out a lot of things that we can’t or don’t use.

This box contains 4 old quilts that our grandmothers and great grandmother made many years ago. We talked it over and we want you to have them because we know they will be well cared for. We are the last of our line, no children or other relatives.

About the quilts:

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The ((Satin)) Crazy Quilt was made by my maternal grandmother, Ada Grace Kenney in Greenville, TN.

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There is a date of 1930 embroidered in one corner.

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((Millie’s Dress, and Mildred’s Dress!))

The pieces of paper on it were put on my by grandmother as it is her hand writing.

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The Butterfly Quilt was also made by Ada Grace Kenney but I am not sure of the date. You might tell from the fabric.

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((It’s definitely 1930’s fabrics…and I don’t think it has ever been washed! Look at these lovely butterflies and their black button hole stitch embroidery! The hand quilting is very nice too!))

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The Scrappy ((rail fence)) Quilt was made by my paternal grandmother, Mary Wright in Topton, NC. It has many feed sacks in it as that was the material that was available to her. My fondest memories were of sleeping under the heavy feed sack quilts with all my cousins.

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Close up of the rail fence fabrics! There are some “EARLIER” fabrics in here as well..many turn-of-the-century indigoes and burgundy resists! A lot of Dan-River plaids too! They were popular in the era that this quilt was made as the Dan River Mills are from this area as well. The Mill started in 1882!

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More lovely plaids and pastel solids! Love that earlier indigo too!

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I love these sweet 1920’s florals too…very cute! and I love the red dots on white….

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The small lap Crazy Quilt ((wool)) has a date of 1903 on it and it was made by my great grandmother, Ada Kenney’s mother, in TN. They had a farm in Ottway.

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The backing was added at a later date along with the embroidered hand of my mother, Helen Wright, when she was a young girl.

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((That’s young Helen’s little hand with the H on it!))

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Another hand with a C on it…and look at all those lovely embroidery stitches!

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Here is a block that reads 1903….

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Very fun embroidery detail! I love to see the switching of floss colors here and there….

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I love the one down the center that looks like rakes with 3 tines…

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This quilt has SO MUCH to look at!! Look at that fun floral sprig around the oval patch….

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My name is Karen Anne and my sister’s name is Marie Elena……we were raised in Topton, NC which is a one-sign town in the Smoky Mountains in Cherokee County.

The way I look at it, the quilts are going HOME.

Dear Karen and Marie:

I can’t thank you enough for the priceless gift of sharing your family heirlooms with me! I’m happy to be adopted into your family! I am overjoyed and overwhelmed to think you would send these so far to someone you barely know.

I love these quilts, and I will share them and care for them…..really, you have no idea how floored and excited I am to have these with me!

In deepest gratitude ---


PS. As this posts this morning, I am on my way to Oak Ridge, TN for two workshops this weekend! I'm driving very close to where these quilts originated. They really HAVE come home!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Who is THIS?!

I looked out my kitchen window this morning to find a stranger looking back at me!

I have NO CLUE who this half-grown kitten belongs to, but we have seen him time to time in the trees of our front yard. But this was as close as he had ever got! The top deck at the BACK of the house!

Not only that, when I ventured out onto the back deck to check HIM out…it seems that he had cornered Chloe behind the BBQ grill…and SHE was not too happy about it!

Still, he allowed me to pet him and became very affectionate. I’m guessing he is maybe 9 months old or something?

((Yes, I had to inspect….it is a HE!))

I sent a picture immediately off to Jason and Kim, because he looks so much like their orange tabby, Cambria!

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I just can’t resist out-stretched kitty bellies!! I knew I was in trouble as soon as he rolled over at my feet!

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He was inspecting EVERYTHING…including rubbing his chin/scent on every railing and rung along the deck. Chloe wasn’t happy about this either..he was leaving his mark on HER territory!

I also sent a ping off to DH to see what his response was ---

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Chloe was growling loudly, but he was NOT afraid of her – more curious and wanting to play than anything!

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The big STARE OFF! Another quick inspection of our new friend told me he HAS to belong to someone close by. He’s declawed in the front…which is also good, it makes him and Chloe more evenly matched as she doesn’t have front claws either…((Look at that motion of his tail flipping! He wanted to PLAY!))

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Still, she holed herself up under the hot tub steps and was raising quite a growling ruckus! Good grief, Chloe, get over it! She is just NOT a nice cat….pretty to look at, but boy is she a wicked witch..LOL

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This little guy did NOT seem to care or give her much mind at all, no matter how big and fluffy and fierce she was!

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Shhhhh! Don’t tell DH that I fed him either! I don’t mind if he likes us enough to come for a visit now and then!

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I mean, look at that face! Could you resist? Could you REALLY!?

He didn’t stay long, and then he was down the stairs and gone, and who knows when we’ll see him again. I’m glad he stopped by. It forced me out of my “must do must do must do” long list of a morning and made me take time out to smell the roses pet the kitties! I smiled and laughed at their antics, and it was a nice interlude!

I’ve got great news….the contract for my next book has arrived! I’m tickled and panicked all at the same time. I’ve kitted up stuff to take to TN with me tomorrow for my workshops with the Ritzy Thimble Quilt Guild of Oak Ridge, Tennessee---

I’m planning on some hotel sewing time to get these last two quilts for the book done so we can get the writing process under way. I’m feeling the time line crunch!