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A Winter Day in December

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Turkey Tracks: December 4, 2021

A Winter Day in December

Today has been all shiny and bright.

But cold.

The sky is the crystal, clear blue we get often in winter.

As I threw AC’s ball for him, the sharp air, laden with the faint smell of wood smoke from nearby houses, cleared all the cobwebs out of my head.

I’ve said it before on this blog, but AC chases his ball with his whole heart. Without a heavy coat, neck scarf, hat, and gloves, it’s hard enough to throw the ball and get a video. This video is the best I could do this morning.

And now I have time to sew, so off I go.

Written by louisaenright

December 4, 2021 at 1:40 pm

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Wild Storm

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Turkey Tracks: October 31, 2021

Wild Storm

It’s Halloween tonight.

I think the wild storm that tore through here last night and this morning has traveled enough away now so that the children will be able to Trick or Treat tonight.

AC and I went out mid-morning to the grocery store, with rain clouds still swirling around but not actively producing rain. All along the road wherever water ran over the road in the night, it had carved out serious ditches which probably compromised the stability of the road at the edges. The worst places were marked with orange cones the town had installed to warn drivers to stay away from the edge of the road.

We couldn’t get to the athletic field at the Snow Bowl as Hosmer Pond was pouring over Barnstown road which runs alongside the pond—and it was deep enough I wouldn’t take the risk of traveling along it to get to the field. The car in front of me turned around, and I did as well.

I thought I’d try the parking lot at Barrett’s Cove at the lake to see if AC could chase his ball there. All along Molyneaux Street, which runs below my house, the creek was raging.

Here’s the second part of the video as I had to travel down the creek to get this part of what was happening.

Other people were out and about to see how things looked.

I had a tree limb down in the driveway that I was able to pull to the side. I had to get the bow saw to cut off one of its limbs, and I’ll pull it further down the hill when things dry out a bit and I have on sturdy boots. So, I’m feeling lucky with regard to trees falling and water flooding.

AC did get his time chasing his ball—and he chased the ducks on the pond near the water line and took a little swim. He didn’t stay long though as the water must be really cold now. Our temps are dropping pretty low at night, but so far, no hard freeze up here on the hillside. That’s coming though, any night now. The zucchini plant is still trying to grow zucchinis.

Written by louisaenright

October 31, 2021 at 2:43 pm

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Mid October 2021 Update

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Turkey Tracks: October 25, 2021

Mid-October 2021 Update

I spent most of last week outside putting the garden to bed and putting away outdoor things that get stored during the winter.

And yesterday I did the last mow and spent some time blowing off the new crop of fallen leaves to get ready for the crew coming this morning to do the heavy lifting I can’t do—like putting down the snow boardwalk—and the weed whacking I can’t do of trees that sprouted this past year in places where trees getting bigger pose future problems.

And I am still finishing up, but most of what I can do is now done until we have a hard freeze.

On some days I wasn’t too tired in the late afternoon to do another row of quilting on ”Joyful,” the wedding ring quilt designed by Tara Faughan. I used my solid scraps to make it, and I have loved working with all these colors. The binding has been installed and is being sewn down at night and all the threads on the front have now been buried.

I used the Innova attached ruler equipment to quilt ”Joyful,” as I thought it just needed something plain. Along the way, the extra heavy ruler foot arrived, and I installed it. The thicker foot makes working with rulers a lot easier. The quilting is NOT perfect—as using this ruler was another learning curve, but along the way I got better and better at making lines meet and not making rookie mistakes. In any case, the whole effect looks grand, and I’ll let it go at that.

The quilt really needed lines on the diagonal—it would have been easy to do a horizontal grid, but that would not have played well with these blocks. And as longarm quilters know, the longarm machine can only go on a diagonal as far as the quilting space allows. And, with the ruler foot supportive pad installed beneath the quilt, that space gets shortened as the pad bumps up against the rollers front and back. Plus, one has to ”travel” to get to the next horizontal line—so part of my learning curve involved accurate stitching in the ditch—which got better as I went along because I got way more comfortable with the machine itself.

I can’t wait to make this quilt again using a controlled fabric palette. The block is just so much fun to make.

Speaking of fabric palettes, the first month’s fabric for The Color Collective, season 4, is due to arrive in the mail today, and the first pattern designed by Tara Faughnan releases November 1. It’s a really fun quilt, and I look forward to playing with these new blocks. If you want to see the pattern, go to Tara’s Instagram account and take a look. I took a screenshot but don’t think I should use it without her permission. (The Color Collective online class is hosted by Sewtopia and runs for six months with Tara’s designs and one month with guest designer Annabel Lowe Wrigley.) When I have a few of my own blocks on the design wall, I will be able to share those.

Meanwhile, I’m working on the 12-inch block light grey/dark grey/black chimney log cabin project, AND I’m playing with a quilt idea seen in the most recent Simply Modern magazine. More on these projects along the way.

We have rain coming in, and I can use a few rainy days for sewing, weekly inside cleaning/laundry, and some cooking.

Written by louisaenright

October 25, 2021 at 7:48 am

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Some Inspiration

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October 24, 2021

Some Inspiration

Here’s a poem and a picture a friend posted on Facebook. She got it from a site called “Midwives of the Soul.”

“In difficult times, you move forward in small steps.

My grandmother once gave me a tip:

Do what you have to do, but little by little.

Don’t think about the future, or what may happen tomorrow.

Wash the dishes.

Remove the dust.

Write a letter.

Make a soup.

You see?

You are advancing step by step.

Take a step and stop.

Rest a little.

Praise yourself.

Take another step.

Then another.

You won’t notice, but your steps will grow more and more.

And the time will come when you can think about the future without crying.”

– Elena Mikhalkova

(Image of Tasha Tudor, American Illustrator 1915-2008)

Written by louisaenright

October 24, 2021 at 8:40 am

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My Color Collective Season 3 Quilts

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Turkey Tracks: September 6, 2021

My Color Collective Season 3 Quilts

I thought it would be good, for me at least, to review the work I did last year (season 3) in the online class (The Color Collective) hosted by Sewtopia (Amy Newbold) with designer Tara Faughnan (for six months of projects and fabric palettes) and with guest designer Latifah Saafir (for an extra seventh month).

The quilts are more or less in the order of the monthly projects. Tara gives us the pattern and the fabric (there are also helpful videos) and shows us her version of the project—then we have at it. Pretty much all of us make the project differently, and that outpouring of creativity is really fun to see and experience.

If you want to know more about each of my quilts, there are separate blog posts. You can search on the name of the quilt on the right sidebar.

My “Marrakesh”:

My “Pips”:

My “Splice,” and this one differs from Tara’s layout in that I laid out the strips to form that central diamond. I hand quilted this one with 12-weight cotton thread (Sulky).

My “Bokeh”:

Bokeh is a photographic term for the manipulation of the background to make it intentionally fuzzy.

My “Tenderoni”—which I called “Fractures”:

Latifah Saafir was the guest designer for the 7th CC month this year. She spread out her Tenderoni block by using plain squares of the fabric palette to make the Tenderoni blocks stand out—which of course made a lap-size quilt. I wanted to see how the Tenderoni shapes played together up close and I wanted a wall hanging. I hand quilted with 12-weight cotton thread (Sulky).

I made this wall hanging from the leftover “Offcut” quarter circle pieces and hung the two quilts opposite each other on the walls outside my quilt room. This one, too, is hand quilted with 12-weight cotton thread (Sulky).

I didn’t do “Hitch” (an improv project) or “Rex” (an appliqué project) this year. Both projects were very nice; they just landed here when I was really busy. There might come a day…. Both projects offer a lot of room for experimentation and play. These two projects are the only ones I have not made in the three years of the class—not a bad record for this class I think—for me or for Tara Faughnan.

I am so looking forward to Season 4, which starts November 1.

Written by louisaenright

September 6, 2021 at 8:57 am

Garden Pictures, June 2021

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Garden Pictures, June 2021

Turkey Tracks: June 11, 2021

The poppy is only spectacular for a few short days, but while it is in bloom, it is glorious.

The Globemaster alliums are in full bloom. I love the individual star shapes of their big globe flowers.

The peonies are also in full bloom now. And those are white Easter lilies alongside—which will bloom later in the summer. You can also see the new Cat Mint plant by the deck steps. I’m trying it out in that tricky spot where I dug out the Ladies Mantle last year. The support board at the edge of the deck was rotten and got replaced a few weeks back, thanks to Shane Chontos.

The dusting on the Cat mint is the super, duper fertilizer formulated by Steve Solomon and sold by KIS Organics. Son Bryan and I figured it is cheaper to order it than to try to put together and store a big batch. This mixture is magic in the garden. Steve Solomon has many books, but if you want to try his organic fertilizer recipe, it is online: http://www.growgreatvegetables.com/fertilizers/a-great-organic-fertilizer-mix/

In this spot, the Cat Mint plays off of the established Cat Mint plants at the edge of the rock wall that lines the pathway to the house.

The strawberries are loaded with berries this year.

As are the raspberries. And the established blueberry bushes in the back of the house have recovered from last year’s debacle with the brown tail caterpillar destruction and subsequent serious cutting back. Last year I got caught by surprise, but this year I’m “on it.” I check these plants several times a day, have removed a few caterpillars, and have dusted the ground heavily with diatomaceous “dirt.” So far, so good.

While weeding under the oaks on the far side of the house, I got into these very toxic caterpillars’ bristles and got the blisters and itchy rash on both arms and on the back of my neck. It is better now, but it takes a long time to detox and for the rash to dry up. These toxic creatures, which are only about an inch long, prefer oaks trees, but when they exhaust the leaves, they will eat anything and LOVE fruit plants of all kinds.

I was outside all day yesterday, with only a brief lunch break. It was BLESSEDLY cool finally. I got so much heavy work done—to include spraying deer repellent again. The deer ate the tops of the phlox in the side garden the other night—and munched on some hostas in the front of the house. The strawberries and the driveway beds are nice and neat again.

Last night was great sleeping, and today the temps have hovered around high 50s. I closed all the windows again as I don’t need to be heating the outdoors!! I’m NOT complaining. But so far, no rain, and once again, we really need rain.

Written by louisaenright

June 11, 2021 at 3:01 pm

Absent Without Leave

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Turkey Tracks: May 1, 2021

Absent Without Leave

Hello, hello All!

Clearly I have been absent without leave from this blog.

BUT, I have been SUPER BUSY for the past two weeks—and have accomplished so much.

When the wonderful folks who help me with big outside projects came Monday two weeks ago to take up the winter boardwalk and get out some deck furniture (just enough for me this summer so far) and do some other winter clean-up tasks, I discovered I had a mice infestation in the garage.

Oh. My. God!

There was mice crap everywhere—despite the fact that I trapped 30+ last fall out there. The instigator, I think, was a bag of unsecured grass seed that clearly drew them into the garage. So… It took a solid week, but I completely cleared out the garage, keeping only the things I’ve used in the past 8 years. Everything that needed to go, went: rehomed, recycled, or taken to the dump. (I have a few more big items that will be picked up very soon now.) It took 3 pick-up loads (a really nice friend helped); the minivan FULL loads to the dump; and loads of time cleaning, sorting, culling, and

Now my children will never have to deal with clearing out the garage down the road.

Along the way, my new car came. Those of you who read this blog might recall the Subaru “unintended acceleration” adventure I had last December where I got rid of that car. (The dealer promised to use it for parts.) Then I realized that the Toyota Sienna minivan was really too big for me and now 8.5 years old. To make a long story short, I sold it at CarMax in South Portland on Tuesday and am thrilled with what I got for it and what a nice experience selling to CarMax was. The combined total of $$$ from these two cars knocked off half of the price of the new car: a 2021 RAV4 Prime, which is a plug in hybrid. It is AWESOME, and the right size for me.

I can already see that I could go forever without using any gas given that I do mostly short trips. And yesterday I discovered that if I put the car in the hybrid mode, it recharges the battery itself—up to, I think, 80% on the electric battery. It plugs into a 110v outlet when I do want to fully recharge it. It gets 90mpg while working between the electric and gas modes and 40 miles on the electric motor.

Next I tackled two dry storage spaces on the third floor. All the Christmas stuff has been sorted and most of it rehomed—I only kept special items I thought some of the grandchildren might want some day. Everything kept has been labeled and boxed in plastic bins—not cardboard boxes. While dragging down the many boxes containing items to be rehomed from the third floor—at least one packed with CDs was really heavy—I clearly hurt a muscle in my upper back, so I’ve had to take it easy these past two days. Most of the pain is gone now, but it will take a few more days.

Somewhere in the past few days I mowed for the first time, traded my longarm for a new Innova, almost finished the binding on the log cabin for my niece, put the “Bokeh” quilt on the longarm, and went to bed early as my days were exhausting me.

I’ve never gone so long without sewing for at least several hours a day—and I’ve really missed my sewing projects.

But now I can begin again, knowing I’ve earned my sewing time and my blogging time.

Written by louisaenright

May 6, 2021 at 1:05 pm

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“Pips” Top Finished

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Turkey Tracks: January 4, 2021

“Pips” Top Finished

The second project for this year’s The Color Collective is all about curves and how to create them using a glue stick pen.

“Pips” are apple seeds—and this color palette is as bright and shiny as our green and red apples are.

I have no idea how I’ll quilt it, but I’ve organized backing and batting for it. I’ll probably bind it with the “limelight” green or the softer lavender “thistle.” I’m leaning toward the limelight green. I bought the walking foot instruction book WALK, and that will likely offer a solution for how to quilt this quilt. My mind is wanting curved lines that track down—and around the “Pips.”

The new project (3) is here and I’ve downloaded the pattern and watched the videos. It will involve making a freezer paper template that gets used like paper foundation piecing. And part of making the template will involve using one’s threadless sewing machine needle to mark out the sewing lines.

I always learn so much with The Color Collective projects as each introduces a new skill—or refines an older one.

Written by louisaenright

January 4, 2021 at 9:07 am

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An “Unintended” Wild Car Ride

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Turkey Tracks: December 23, 2020

An “Unintended” Wild Car Ride

Last Monday late afternoon, I had an “unintended” backwards wild ride in the Subaru. It lasted only 4 to 5 seconds, but I landed in a deep snowy ditch filled with water—and that was a blessing as the car didn’t hit something (people, another car, a tree) that would have been far worse.

I was backing out of a friend’s driveway on Start Road, and as I slowly backed out of the driveway to get to the place where I could see if anything was coming down the road, suddenly I was thrown backwards as the car went full bore speed backwards.  I didn’t know this car could go that fast in such a short time. Before I could take a breath and in about 4 to 5 seconds the car went runaway out over the road and into the ditch—engine still racing full bore until I got the car in park and turned it off.

I might have braked. I don’t know. It happened so fast and was the most surreal feeling. But braking would not have stopped the car in what is known as an “unintended acceleration” occurrence.

My friend came out of the garage where he was working to help me get out of the car—it was listing to the driver side into the ditch so I had to crawl out over the passenger seats and grab his helping hand.  AC doggie was with me with no winter coat as we were just going to drop off a check and have a little outing and it was still not crazy cold. I had to get his harness out of the far side of the car and get him into it and find his leash.

We called AAA, and my friend took me inside to stay warm and sat with me until the tow truck came—two hours later and in the now total dark.  AAA towed the car to Dan Foshay’s Cooper Tires in town, and my friend took me home.

In thinking about it, there was an incident with the engine racing a while back, maybe even a year ago, but I was stopped at the mailbox and facing up a steep hill, it somehow stopped without further incident.  I don’t remember what I did at the time to stop it. And there were at least 2 incidents when starting the car in the garage where the engine raced, but not as powerfully and the car was in park.

I tossed and turned all that night and at some point realized I would never get in that car again and that I had to take responsibility for getting it off the road—mixed with profound feelings of luck that no one had been hurt.

I wrote my two sons and DILs the next morning, and the older son wrote right back with research about these “unintended accelerations” in Subarus. I, too, started to research. Apparently there are two class-action suits now pending in courts over this issue. AND, there have been other cars with this kind of issue in past years—Toyota for one. Toyota was eventually fined a substantial amount of money.

It is a computer problem—with a sporadic glitch between the braking and acceleration systems. When it happens, the brake will not work to stop the car.

There are also videos out there on what to do if you have more time than 4 to 5 seconds to react. First, you do brake as hard as you can and you don’t remove your foot from the brake. Then you put the car into neutral—do not turn it off yet as you will lose steering and braking power which makes the car hard to handle manually. The car should coast to stop, and then you can turn it off.

After a lot of help from the people at Dan Foshay’s, for which I am very grateful, my car was towed on Wednesday to a used car dealer who agreed to use it for parts and who would give me a fair check for the car. This car was a one-owner car and though 10 years old was just below 60K miles. If the used car dealer is tempted to sell the car, that will be on them. I’ve done what I can.

In this holiday season, I am so grateful for luck, family, friends, and kind community people who helped me through this problem.

Written by louisaenright

December 27, 2020 at 9:05 am

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Bits and Pieces in Late November 2020

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November 25, 2020

Bits and Pieces in Late November 2020

Winter is closing in now, and we are in the darkest time of the year.

But there are seasonal gifts to view, witness these beautiful red berries against the grey sky that I saw in my travels the other day. We’ve had some cold days, but I have not yet switched out my cotton socks for my warmer winter ones. That day is coming though.

I’ve spent some time playing with using up the scraps in my solid scrap bin. I had a lot of leftover bias strips sewn together and cut from projects like The Color Collective Lone Star quilt process and the Sugaridoo QAL rows (the pink strips). What if I used them on fun and funky “tree triangles” that so many people are making these days as they rise to quilter Nicholas Ball’s challenge.

I’m working away at the first project from Season 3 of the online class The Color Collective, hosted by Sewtopia, with designer/teacher Tara Faughnan. The first block is called “Marrakesh,” and it allows us to play with and manipulate color choices that can radically change how the block appears. There are also several construction methods that I have never made, and that’s always a fun learning curve.

I have 4 blocks done now—they will finish at 15 1/2 inches each.

I’ll make at least two more and may stop at creating a rectangle wall hanging. Who knows. In any case, I’m sure these blocks will get moved around more. If I make more, I’ll definitely stop at 3 by 3 blocks, which will be a bit larger than 45 inches square. Or a longer 2-block wide rectangle wall hanging. Time will tell…

I keep moving around these four blocks because I see something that just needs to be changed, but then I see something else. I definitely need more blocks.