Friday, January 29, 2021

Quilts and Classics: Under the Big Top/1950 Studebaker

Today while Mark and I were cleaning the house, I had an idea. 

But before I go into that, here is a little backstory. When Mark retired a little over four years ago, we decided that between the two of us, we could clean the house every other week rather than paying someone else. We had been having someone do it for us every other week while both of us worked. No problem. We would divide the duties and do it ourselves. Also...we would actually pay ourselves to clean the house. Although we didn't "charge" quite as much as our previous house cleaner, we figured we would save the money and when we had enough, it would be our hotel fund for a trip to the coast every once in awhile. 

Seemed like a great plan. However...

As housecleaners, although thorough when we show up, we are completely unreliable. Oh, the house gets spot cleaned on a regular basis. But an every-other-week deep clean? Rarely happens every other week. But do we still get paid? You bet! I would not recommend us to anyone.  As I said, we are completely unreliable. I'm surprised that the "homeowners" haven't let us go yet...or at least stopped paying us. Ha!

So back to my idea (and maybe I should clean more often--who knows what kind of ideas I would come up with??)

When I first began this blog, and for many years, it was primarily a blog about quilting. I followed a lot of other blogs and participated in block exchanges, bee groups, quilt-alongs, and works-in-progress updates. Somehow along the way, I wrote less about quilting and more about what was happening in my life on a weekly basis. You may have noticed that if you have been around for any length of time. 

In 2020, I feel like I hardly sewed anything. Truth be told, I did complete at least five quilts. I'll have to double check but I don't think I've done an in-depth blog post about any of them. 

If for no other reason than to document it for myself, I will be posting pictures and information about those quilts in the near future. I'd also like to post weekly or so about the projects I'm working on. I used to love showing WIPs and it motivated me to keep working on them. So maybe that can happen again.

And also (and this was the idea I had while cleaning), I'm going begin each month with the background story on each of the vehicles and quilts that have been highlighted in my calendar, Quilts and Classics. Quilts and Classics was a dream come true, and thank you to those who have purchased one of the calendars or note card sets. I actually had to do a small second printing. There are a few left and here is the link if you are interested.

When I laid out the calendar, I had to choose one, just one, picture for each month. Wow, was that ever hard. For the front cover, I added a little detail shot. At first, I had considered using more than one shot for each month, but I ended up really liking the clean look of one photo with a lot of white space around it.  I learned a lot, things I wish I had done differently, mostly when it was too late to do anything about it. The biggest thing I would have changed was to try to get the best shot of each vehicle in landscape mode, without cutting off any part of it.  But I did not consistently get the best shots in landscape mode, mostly because I just was not thinking about it at the time. Lesson learned. Just in case there is another time...

The first time I took photos of a quilt with a classic vehicle was over five years ago, and the thought of making a calendar was not even a dream.

So let's begin with the 1950 lemon yellow Studebaker pickup, the one that started it all, owned by Mike Simpson.

I used to do medical transcription for a local neurologist. Every morning I would drive to her office, pick up the tape (yes, microcassette, because she never even upgraded to a handheld digital recorder), chat a little bit with my friends who worked in the office, and head home to do the transcription, five days a week. 

One morning, I noticed this absolutely pristine yellow pickup in the parking lot. I had just finished a sampler quilt using a Sew Kind of Wonderful pattern, and the yellow fabric in it matched this pickup perfectly. That's when the lightbulb went on and I knew I had to wait for the owner to show up and ask if I could photograph my quilt with his truck.  I went to the office and grabbed my work; at the same time, a man was at the front desk checking out, and I just had the feeling he was the owner.  He didn't seem to notice me, and because of HIPAA laws I didn't want to talk to him in the office. So I went back to the parking lot and waited. It took him awhile, and I was just in the midst of writing a note and sticking it in the door when he walked up. I'm pretty sure I startled him, but I handed him my Live a Colorful Life business card and told him about my idea. It turns out he was a retired baker in town, well known. We agreed to set up a time so I could take some pictures. 

When that happened, he told me had found the perfect spot in a local park. Now ordinarily I would have said, "You want to meet me in the park? I don't know you!"  But given that he was fairly well known, and by then he knew I worked for his doctor, and given the fact that he was in his 70s, I felt pretty safe. 
Sadly, he was the only owner I was unable to get in contact with after the calendar was completed.

I think Mike enjoyed the photo shoot, and even helped with the staging.

Here is the complete quilt, Under the Big Top. That lower left block is the one that is the perfect match. 

So this is where my journey began. I've attended car shows, talking to classic car owners about this project, jotting down car information and phone numbers, and each time the owners have been willing and eager to participate in my project. I've gotten recommendations from friends who knew of my project and also knew someone with a great vehicle, and did a little match making. My biggest roadblock has always been making that phone call to set up a time to meet. For one thing, most of them were strangers. Second, I was always afraid of taking up their time, and that delayed this project more than anything else. But each and every time, they seemed happy to give up a little bit of time and were even curious about quilting. 

I'll be back in a couple of days with February's photos, a serendipitous encounter that happened right across the street!

Thursday, January 28, 2021

Really Random Thursday, 1/28/21

 Very shortly after last week's inauguration, the memes with Bernie Sanders and his mittens went viral. I saw so many and they all made me laugh.  My friend, Erika, even sent one that she had made using a photo of my Night Blossoms quilt.

Here are a couple of my favorites. Especially this one, because we are Big Bang Theory fans...

I was stunned at the beauty of First Lady Jill Biden's inauguration coat and dress. The embroidered flowers were from every state and territory, and on her dress, the Delaware flower is positioned at the heart level. So meaningful and beautiful. When Mark and I were in Washington, DC, in May 2019, one of my favorite museum exhibits was that of the dresses worn by the First Ladies. I hope to be able to see this one in person someday.

Photos from @gabrielahearst

Aaron and I are attempting to learn to knit socks. Our first hurdle is learning "Judy's Magic Loop." We watched a three-minute video. Over and over. We asked Charlotte to help stop and start the video, but she said she didn't have that kind of time. I think it took about an hour. At least, it felt like that long.  I'm not sure we completely have it figured out yet, but we're giving it another go tonight. We are trying the two-a-time toe-up. Wish us luck.

We have a lot of mourning doves in our neighborhood, but Mark has been following a bird who spends a lot of time in our yard. He is sure it is something other than a mourning dove, as it is noticeably larger. When it sings, it sounds different from the mourning doves we are used to, and its chest puffs out. Any birders out there? 

For quite a few years, I had a serger that I stored in the garage. I took a class to learn how to thread it, then promptly put it back in the box and back in the garage. I finally sold it. Mark saw this at the thrift store the other day and thought maybe I'd be interested.

Looks about my speed. But...nope.

Have you taken any sewing classes via zoom? My second class with Tara Faughnan (highly recommended) started on Monday afternoon. We are doing her double wedding ring pattern. I've attempted a double wedding ring before but never finished. I'm going to try using some of those parts but applying Tara's phenomenal color expertise and see if the outcome will be different...aka better. This is what I'm starting with. Not my normal palette, that's for sure, so the challenge for me is a big one. It may either be epic (unlikely) or an epic fail (much more likely). In that case, I'm prepared to chuck the whole thing, but I just had to give it one last try.

Seriously, if you have a chance to learn from Tara about how she puts color together, don't pass it by!! (The picture on the right is the inspiration for my project. Fingers crossed.)

Here's a little story I have forgotten to write and something I wish to remember. My father is 40 minutes away in skilled nursing, with Alzheimer's. I have seen him a total of about 90 minutes in the last year, Mark has seen him for 30 minutes, and because my brother drove all the way out from Washington, DC, they allowed my brother and sister-in-law a total of 60 minutes at one time. Anyway, shortly before Christmas, the nursing staff called to ask if we had been sending my father honey roasted peanuts. I said, no we had not but maybe my brother had, and I would check with him. My brother also said he had not been sending peanuts. Who was sending him peanuts remains a mystery. But the funny part of the story is that my father then tried to sell them to other residents! The nursing staff had called to check because they didn't want us to be using our money to send something that he turned around and tried to sell. I'm sure if asked, he would have no clue what anyone was talking about. Also during that conversation, they informed me that he had put a piece of paper on his door, a petition for signatures so that they could have more Christmas decorations. Apparently, in his opinion, the staff had not done an adequate job of decorating.

How I like to end my day once in awhile:
Have a lovely weekend.

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Really Random Thursday, 1/21/21

Let's begin with this.

Yesterday Mark and I watched the inauguration coverage for hours. I don't remember watching more than snippets of it in years past. It was historic in many ways. Coming from California, I had some reservations about Kamala Harris as choice for vice president. So I pray for our new leaders (as I would regardless of their party affiliation). I wish I could eloquently express the feelings I had yesterday, so I'll just say this: I pray that we can soften our hearts to those around us.

I saw this quote  by Don Miguel Ruiz Jr.: "The biggest communication problem is we do not listen to understand. We listen to reply." Good words to carry forward in this new year.

I read someone say that it would be extremely hard to upstage Lady Gaga, JLo and Garth Brooks, but an amazing 22-year-old, poet laureate Amanda Gorman most surely did. The words of her poem, the Hill We Climb, captured the moment, and so many of them resonated deeply with me.

Here are some of my favorites.

We've learned that quiet isn't always peace

We close the divide because we know, to put our future first, we must first put our differences aside

We lay down our arms so we can reach out our arms to one another

Mark brought me a bouquet that included some of the most amazing lilies.

I've been destashing fabric along with some quilt blocks. I made about 20 of these quilt blocks quite a few years ago, and finally decided I had lost interest in them. So I gave them to my friend, Dotty, who already is making a plan.

Photo: Christa Wiens

I have spent most of December and half of January curled up in the corner of the couch, working on this scarf. It was from Jimmy Beans Wool, "Craftvent 2020." The crocheted version was a sampler of cable patterns. I didn't even realize you could crochet cables. It was definitely a learning curve for me, and I think I probably crocheted each cable section at least three times. But in the end, I'm super happy with how it turned out. If only it were cold enough here in California to actually wear it. I think those days are past for this year. So now it's back to sewing.

Some days for sure...

What do you see?
I saw connection, alignment, relationships, purpose.

I'll end with this...


Thursday, January 14, 2021

Really Random Thursday, 1/14/21

It's 2021. I usually look forward to January 1. The Christmas decorations are down and put away. I look forward to decluttering the house, for a cleaner, fresher feel.


We have been decluttering all.year.long. There is little left to clean up or give away. I did go through a few drawers and cabinets. I mean, there are always a few wayward things here and there. And then I turned my attention, as I usually do at the beginning of the year, to going through all my fabric and destashing. It serves two purposes. It reacquaints me with that I actually have, and also clues me in to fabric I know I will never use. I gave five big bags to my friend, Dotty, mostly larger pieces that can be used by our church quilting group for sashing, binding, and backing. It feels good to have more breathing room. I'm feeling ready to turn on the sewing machine. 

We were able to take our annual trip to the coast again this year, albeit with a smaller group than usual. Our good friends, the Isaacs, were unable to spend a day with us because they are not in our "bubble."

A change of scenery was just what we needed. The days were in the 60s, the nights in the 40s, with lots of blue sky and big waves.

We arrived on January 6, which turned out to be a day in history we will never forget, one of those "do you remember where you were when the Capitol was invaded?" kind of days. Unbelievable. And heart breaking.  This was the wine we drank that night.

Mark built a nice fire that night.

Charlotte and I always drive into Pismo Beach, go to the Hotlix candy store and take our pictures in their photo booth. Not this year, however. We did go to the candy store, and this year Levi came along with us, but the photo booth, while open and available, was not maintained/sanitized. So nope...

But never fear, says Charlotte. We took pictures and she turned them into a photo strip with some app she has.

The kids loved dipping their toes in the (cold) water.

One of Ella and Amelia's favorite pastimes this year was putting on makeup, using Amelia's Christmas gift.

The rest of us played games.

Or read. There was a lot of reading going on.

Beautiful sunsets each night.

More playing in the sand.

Walks on the beach (thanks for these pictures, Christa...)


Chocolate chip pancakes made by Gramps.
Ruby loves her sourdough bread from a local bakery.

A tradition is that every morning, the kids come up to our room, which is a studio apartment over the garage, at exactly 7 a.m., and wake us up. It's a way for them to get extra screen time. Ha. Charlotte is at the age where she likes to sleep in, so most mornings 7:00 a.m. is not her thing. But she did come up one morning.
Going to the candy store has traditionally been a treat for just Charlotte and me, but this year, being a different kind of year, I took Gabe and Ella as well. They loved it because Hotlix sells a lot of candy containing crickets, larvae, ants, etc. Ugh. Not that they bought any, but they liked the thought of it.

On Thursday, Aaron got notification that he could get his COVID vaccination. In Madera. At 9:30 a.m. Even though we were three hours away, we all encouraged him to get the vaccine. So on Friday morning, he left at 5:45 a.m., received his injection, turned around and came back to the beach, getting there just a little after lunchtime. As an optometrist, he has close contact with patients all day long and we all feel better knowing that he has received the first vaccination. 

This year we had kites to fly, and Friday afternoon had enough wind.

On our last night, we had another great fire.

Of course we had to take our annual family beach pictures.

These funny, crazy, loud, silly people are the nearest and dearest to my heart. We all needed this change of scenery so much. I can't imagine being in a "bubble" with anyone else.

Welcome to 2021 here at Live a Colorful Life. Let's hope it's a good one.