Thursday, June 30, 2011

Rags to rugs

Before I left CA, I was able to finish the first crocheted rag rug and start a second.  I found the fabrics for the second rug at a discount fabric store up in Anaheim, and was able to get these fabrics for a fraction of what I would have paid elsewhere.  I'm going bright this time and it's a lot more fun to work on.

I have to stop here and say that my hat really goes off to all the women who have or still make these rugs from scraps.  It must take an eternity to gather enough pieces of clothing to render into enough strips to make a rug of any useable size.  Years ago, I remember reading about the itinerant rag weavers, a story that has stuck with me.  These weavers traveled the countryside with their looms in their wagons and went from house to house to offer their services.  In exchange for weaving the family's supply of rags into rugs, they received room and board.  While I'm sure this was a hard life, it sounds pretty idyllic these days, compared to long commutes, office politics, or worse yet, unemployment.  I have always loved the idea of bartering.

A great tip for stripping those long pieces of yardage into 2" strips...snip the width of your fabric every two inches, then hand one strip to your five year old grandson and let him a) either run like a wild child around the house while it rips or b) wind himself up in the fabric as it rips.  Technique b) comes with another fun part:  turning him into a top as you unwind the fabric afterward. 

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


Raging Fire Moves Closer To Los Alamos

I returned to Taos yesterday afternoon. This fire started Sunday afternoon, and as of this afternoon, they estimate it's up to at least 61,000 acres. There are several other fires here in NM; we are having a horrid drought year and have had high winds for months and months.

We aren't near any of the fires, although the air quality is poor because of them. I feel so sorry for the citizens of Los Alamos...many lost their homes eleven years ago, the last big fire that struck them. At least this time everyone was prepared, and evacuations went smoothly. The local area shelters are taking as many animals as they can, and in addition to temporary shelters for evacuees, I hear there are hotels and motels offering special rates for those who wish to stay there, instead. I love the way New Mexicans step in to help others when times get tough.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Wrecking Crew

Back to my getaway last weekend.  When I arrived, I was greeted by Nelson, the somewhat psycho, ADD young, high energy dog who can't even stand still long enough to be petted, and Ellie, his 17 year old companion, who is extremely mellow and appears to be trying to ignore him most of the time.  Oh...and Valerie, the hen.  Named after my late sister (who also had auburn locks), she was quite the conversationalist, and we sat and had a very heartfelt conversation on the doorstep.

On Friday, I availed myself of the inviting front porch.  I have always longed for a porch and have yet to have one, in my thirty odd moves over the years.  On Friday, I managed not one, but two naps there, feeling cozy behind the veil of the lush greenery that encompasses it.   Between naps, Laurie gave me a tour of downtown Ojai, where we had a great lunch and visited a couple of really nice thrift stores (I was good and didn't buy room in my bags).

That evening was the big event:  a screening of a film called The Wrecking Crew, a documentary about the group of studio musicians who became THE go-to musicians for much of the most important music of the 60s, 70s, and upward.  If you are a musician, a musician at heart, or lover of music, please check out their website.  They are touring this film on a donation only basis, trying to raise enough money to purchase the music rights so that they may eventually take this film to the public in movie theatres, sell the DVDs, CDs, etc.  It is an important piece of music history, woven together with interviews and archival footage.  I hope I get to see it again one day.

Thanks Laurie and Charles, for making this possible for me.  I love your world.

P.S.  Fond regards to Valerie.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Busy times

Man's way

Nature's way

There have been a lot of good things happening the last weeks.  Last weekend, I was invited to visit my niece and her husband in Ojai...which is a very special part of the world, just north of Los Angeles and inland a bit from Ventura beach.  I decided to take the Amtrak, save myself the trouble of driving, and have all those quiet hours on the train to relax and enjoy the view.  More on the train ride later; my visit will be my next posting...I have something I want to share with music lovers and musicians at that time.

As I was waiting to board my outbound train last Thursday morning, I couldn't help but notice the juxtaposition of man vs. nature in the layers of the earth cut to accommodate the lowering of the tracks and the ramp up to the station.

On approach to the big Los Angeles station, we wound through some areas that conjured lots of memories from my youth, among them the old Sears tower building where my mom worked.  On boring summer afternoons, when mom was working there, I would sometimes take several bus connections from our home to go hang out there until she got off work.  It is just mind blowing today to think of how dangerous that would be for a pre-teen girl to do such a thing.  Ah...the fifties.  There were some good things about them, I just have to scratch hard to remember sometimes.

And then...the El Pato building.  Don't remember it as a kid, but hey, I couldn't help but take a photo...the food of my people, as I like to joke.  Yum.

So back to the train ride:  I won't bore you with the entire story but let me say that people using their cell phones in public have really become a nuisance, in my humble opinion.  I had a guy across the isle from me, conducting all his business on his cell phone, using it on speaker phone...and that is only part of the story.  I have decided I won't take public transportation again without ear plugs or noise cancellation headphones, lest you end up reading about me going postal and hurting someone! 

Monday, June 13, 2011

More about Sue

I did my last posting about the Sunbonnet Sue blocks and then sent the link to it to Deb Rowden, telling her I'd love it if she or someone she knows would like to have these blocks.

Here's her reply:

Lawrence, Kansas is no place to send Sunbonnet Sue blocks! We do terrible
things to them (see this blog entry:

send them only if you dare!

So here's where you find out what a sick sense of humor I have, in case you hadn't already guessed. I hit the link and before I knew it, I was laughing so loud the neighbors probably thought I had finally lost my last marbles. In her posting is another link to a quilt index. I went there and laughed more...and more...until my sides ached. Truth be known, I find Sunbonnet Sue annoying, at best, so to discover someone else shared my feelings and took it to a next level really made this day!

Thanks to Deb for letting me share her posting and this photo, which I copied from her blog without asking.

I think my Sunbonnet Sue blocks are now headed for the chopping blocks...or is it cutting boards...LOL... of some of those wickedly talented quilters in Lawrence, Kansas.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Preserving little pieces of our histories

About ten years ago, I worked part time in the little mercantile in Arroyo Seco. I "rescued" some old, hand pieced, quilt tops, along with many hand pieced blocks that had never been assembled into a quilt. I'm guessing, from the fabrics, that most of them are from the 30s and 40s.

One of the tops I rescued had been pieced onto papers from the Daily Oklahoman (1942). I didn't realize it until I got it home and unfolded had just been in a small wad, shoved in a shelf, and I knew it needed to be taken home. All these years later, I have finally found the perfect home for it...and sent it to Deb Rowden, in Kansas, whose blog I've followed most of this past year. I couldn't be more delighted.

What's next? I have a set of 22 of these hand made Sunbonnet Sue blocks. Judging from the fabric, they may be the same era. I am going to find a perfect home for them, as well...and keep these historical items in the hands of those who appreciate them.

I had to laugh this week when I saw that Cathy at Orange Sink was musing about what to do with some blocks that are so similar, they might have come from the same maker. I guess it's spring cleaning time, for sure!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Stopping to smell the flowers

Somehow these last three weeks here in California have not given me enough good quality time with my grandson. A couple of days ago, we walked around our neighborhood. There are so many flowers blooming at this time of year that it's hard to go far without the scent of flowers in the air. The colors are wild and wonderful. We love stopping to discuss plant names, colors, and bugs. I feel so fortunate to have the opportunity to view all these things with fresh eyes...those of a child.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

A great read

Everyone couple of years, I remember how much I love listening to unabridged audio books while I do my hand work. This week it was "The Help"...a best seller by Kathryn Stockett (Penguin Audio). It's been out at least a couple of years, so perhaps you've already read it.

One of the last of the Oprah shows was one celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Freedom Riders and their efforts to break the back of segregation. Her studio was filled with as many of those brave people as she could locate. There were many first hand accounts of their actions, along with old videos and a discussion of how those protestors were well schooled in non-violence before embarking on this journey. One young black man, who had escaped a burning bus, had been severely beaten by a white man. Oprah's show actually reunited these men, and gave the attacker a chance to apologize. It was a powerful hour. While I lived through this time period, I admit to being a very self-absorbed teenager, and because matters of world news were never discussed in our household (not much of anything was), my knowledge of these events comes from things I've seen or read. Once again, I was blown away by the ugliness of prejudice.

Fast forward to this week...if you haven't read it, "The Help" is a fictional slice of life as a black domestic in Jackson, Mississippi during the sixties. I didn't grow up in the south, nor were we a family of the means to even consider hired "help" this book was not only an eye opener for me about life with household help, it was yet another indictment of how people could treat each other, in the worst sorts of ways, through the veil of prejudice and ignorance. It was also uplifting, and I found myself laughing out loud more than once. The movie is going to be released on August 12, and after seeing the trailers on line, it looks like they've done a good job with it (although I almost always prefer a book to the movie). If you haven't read the book...I highly recommend it. In fact, the readers on this audio (which is 15 CDs) were so perfect, it's even hard for me to imagine having read it in print, something I would rarely say.

What do 15 CDs equal in terms of handwork? Lots of hand quilting on my blue and white quilt, and a decent start on this Karen Kahle pattern called "Sentimental". It was a great break from the reality of everyday life; and now, to find my next "read".