Special delivery!

mailboxLiving out in the country as I do, my mail arrives via rural delivery, with a very kind and patient New Zealand Post person driving by 6 days a week to put all sorts of interesting things in my mailbox.  (I’ve mentioned squishy parcels in previous posts – they’re definitely the most interesting deliveries I receive 🙂 )

The mailbox is located on the grass verge on the opposite side of the gravel road outside my house, making it easy for the postie to deliver without having to step out of his vehicle – he just leans out, opens the mailbox, and pops the mail in.

However, the mailbox’s location also means that, on the odd occasion, it has taken a hit or two when the farmer mows the grass verge.  Given that he does this with a mower attached to a tractor, rather than a standard lawnmower, I can understand that the mailbox on the verge is somewhat in the way and a bit of a nuisance, but, that’s where the postie wants it, so …

Anyway, currently the mailbox is on a slight lean, after it was knocked during a mowing operation some time ago, and the opening flap has also been slightly damaged, presumably by a too-close encounter as the farmer tried to mow around it.  This left the mailbox with two ‘wounds’:  one a busted hinge, and the other a slightly bent profile.

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The damage didn’t really worry me – accidents happen, and mown verges do make for more pleasant walking on my evening constitutionals, rather than having to contend with loose gravel underfoot, so I’m happy for him to continue 🙂

And then this morning, I opened the mailbox to be greeted by this …

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What the …??  At first I thought the mailman had lost the plot – but then I realised that thanks to one or more very industrious birds, not only had I received mail, but also the beginnings of a bird’s nest 🙂 (How kind!!)

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That’s a fair hunk of grass in there – I wonder how many trips the birds had to make, and how difficult it was to squeeze through either the hinge hole or the bent flap for each delivery?  Very impressive! 🙂

The only thing that peeves me a little is that they appear to have totally ignored the provisions I specially laid on for their nest-building purposes a few weeks ago – a whole heap of fabric and batting scraps – colourful, free and available from the ‘delicatessen’ I created for them … still untouched, unused, unloved, unwanted … 😦

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Then again, maybe their reluctance to help themselves to these supplies has been due to a certain Furry Gentleman who likes to lie in the shade nearby …

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Hope your day is going well! 🙂

 

 

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Quilt Inspector declares July OMG done!

Henry Lee inspected my July OMG project this morning, and declared it finished:  woohoo! 🙂

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After failing to get it completed as my June project, I knew I had to get it done in July … given that it’s a present for a dear friend who celebrates her 92nd birthday in early August, I really couldn’t procrastinate any longer!

I’ve backed it with a pale fawn fleecy-type fabric, which makes it lovely and cuddly, and just tied it (I’ve tried quilting with a fleece backing before and it was a total disaster, so I didn’t want to go there again).

So, all I have to do now is put a label on it, and then get it packed up and posted to Invercargill:  sweet! 🙂

Linking up with the OMG “It’s Finished!” party at Red Letter Quilts here.

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Laying claim to a quilt …

Today I’ve been working on my OMG kitty-cat quilt, making reasonable progress on the big stitching with three of the nine blocks now done.  However, my hands were beginning to ache a little with all the hand sewing, so I put it aside when I finished the third block, and turned my attention to selecting fabric strips (batiks, lovely batiks!) for another project:  a jelly roll quilt for my 92-year-old friend, Granny P, who lives way down south in Invercargill.

And when I returned to my sewing area, guess who had laid claim to, and taken up residence on, the aforementioned kitty-cat quilt?  Yup, Henry Lee!

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Trying it out for size and comfort …

 

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Hmmm … nice big stitching … don’t forget to remove the safety pins when you’re finished …

 

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Possession is nine-tenths of the law – and that’s MY paw on it, so hands off!

LOL, I guess he’s trying to give me the message that he’d like one of his own! 🙂

So, more about the project for Granny P.  This will actually be the third jelly roll quilt I’ve made for her:  no. 1 was for her 90th birthday in August 2014, after which she requested a second one, which I made and sent to her for her 91st birthday in August 2015.  However, due to the second one being a bit of a rushed job before I headed off to Australia for a month, I made it just a two-layer quilt (can you still call a quilt a quilt if it only has two layers???), with the same jelly roll top and fleecy backing as I used for the first one, but no batting in the middle.  SHE WAS NOT AMUSED.  Hence her request for a THIRD quilt, WITH BATTING PLEASE, for her 92nd birthday! 🙂  (I think I shall try to retrieve quilt no. 2 next time I go down to see her, and see if I can take it apart and insert some batting – anything for a quiet life! 🙂 🙂 )

Anyway, batik strips have been selected (I actually used some of my Tonga Treats 6″ wide strips and cut two 2.5″ wide strips from 20 different fabrics, to end up with the usual jelly roll set of 40 strips), and I’ve just finished the first step in construction, sewing them all together in one long strip – look at these luscious fabrics!

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So tonight it’ll be a toss-up between more big stitching, or more jelly rolling  … which would you choose? 🙂

 

 

My word for the year …

I read about the challenge on Victoria Findlay Wolfe’s blog to adopt a word for the year, and decided that my word for 2015 will be fun!  (And always with the exclamation mark!)  It was originally going to have a capital F, but I decided that was a bit too PC for such a great word 🙂

So here’s the little quilt I made to celebrate my word for the year:

2015 word quilt - Fun

Quilting Assistant Henry Lee
Meanwhile, Quilting Assistant Henry Lee remains close at hand to help with the current WIP …

(He’s great company, but does he have to sit quite so close??!) 🙂

 

 

Such is the way of good writing

Having a lazy Saturday morning this morning, relaxing – still in my PJs – in the LazyBoy with a cuppa and my current library book, The Handsome Man’s De Luxe Cafe, the latest in the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series by Alexander McCall Smith.

Handsome Man's De Luxe CafeAnd I’m smiling as he writes of things African – the colour of the evening sky, the heat of the day, the cattle standing in the shade of a thorn tree, a dusty country road – which are so familiar to me … and then suddenly there are tears as well, as I realise how dear to me those memories are, of another time, another place, so many years ago.  But with the tears there is also an overwhelming appreciation and thankfulness that I was lucky enough to have had those experiences, lucky to have had such a wonderful, almost enchanted childhood with loving parents and family, lucky to have such happy memories.

Yesterday I finished reading An Untamed State, by Roxane Gay – a powerful, harrowing story of a Haitian woman who is kidnapped, tortured and abused when her father refuses to pay a ransom for her return:  Untamed Statea story almost as far removed from the gentle nature of McCall Smith’s Africa as it’s possible to get, yet just as emotional to read and ponder over.  I suspect that my love of McCall Smith’s writing, whether it be of things African or things Scottish (I find his various Scottish series equally entertaining) is partly because of my familiarity with both settings, having been born and raised in Zimbabwe of Scottish parents:  it’s sort of like I’m pre-wired or programmed to enjoy those stories because of my upbringing.  But that doesn’t stop me appreciating his ability to capture a moment or thought and relate it so accurately that I know exactly what he means, and my smile (or tears) is in appreciation of that skill.  Roxane Gay’s writing is equally powerful and moving, just not as pleasant.

Did some more work on the ALYOF quilt I’ve committed to for my January finish, and now only have the ties left to do.  As you can see from these photos, Assistant Quilter Henry Lee was close at hand to make sure I stuck to the task 🙂  I’ve also sorted out a couple of possible project finishes for February.

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Today is forecast to be hot and humid, so I’m planning to spend as much time indoors in the cool as possible … and besides, there’s a cricket match on TV this afternoon, the third ODI match between New Zealand’s Black Caps and Sri Lanka, to be played in Auckland.  And with the 7-match series tied 1-1, I think it’s important that I lend my support in voice if not in person, so it’ll be tieing the quilt in front of The Box for me this afternoon 🙂  Go, Black Caps!

 

2014 and all that …

Putting aside all the hype and hustle and bustle of Christmas for a moment, I do enjoy this time of year for the opportunity it provides me to pause and catch my breath. Most years I manage to achieve a break of approximately two weeks, in which I unwind, reflect on the year that’s passed, and look forward to what may lie ahead.

On the whole, 2014 was not a vintage I want to savour and remember, nor look back on with a feeling of things achieved or plans met and dreams fulfilled. That’s not to say there weren’t any highlights or good times: there were, but sadly, in my mind they are overshadowed by the dramas in my bridge-playing life back in March, which eventually led to my decision in November to resign from both my bridge clubs, and to stop playing altogether. (Interesting to note since then that I’m not actually missing it as much as I thought I would, which reinforces my feeling that it was the right decision to make, and that it is time to let go of the hurt and the anger and the frustration. That part of it – the letting go – is still a work in progress, I have to say, but distance and not being involved in any way are certainly helping.)

Having more time on my hands has meant I’ve been able to do more reading and quilting, both of which give me so much pleasure. I recently had a go at doing some Big Stitch quilting, which I’ve seen mentioned on quilting blogs, on the quilt I mentioned here – I was reasonably pleased with my first attempt, although I definitely need more practice on achieving more consistent and even stitching on the reverse side! 🙂

Here are a couple of photos of the end result:

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I’ve also been doing some more work on the scrap quilt mentioned here – as you can see, it’s moved on a bit and has now reached the stage where I need to start thinking about what I’m going to back it with, and then start putting it together.
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I do enjoy this sort of work – I find it very satisfying taking all those itty-bitty pieces of fabric (which would otherwise be thrown away) and creating something like this (pause while I bask in all those wonderful feeling-virtuous waves washing over me … 🙂 )

A couple of days ago I decided it was time to do an audit of projects I’ve got on the go at the moment, and sort through my fabric stash. I have to say my findings were both startling and embarrassing … 18 works-in-progress (WIPs) at the moment. 13 different kinds of cat-related fabric in my stash. 19 different kinds of children’s fabrics. Over 50 kinds of batik fabrics. And over 200 different kinds of floral fabric (200??? Good grief!!). So, some stern resolution is required of me in 2015, to finish off some of the WIPs, to use my fabric stash for any new projects, and not not NOT to buy any more fabric!! I’ll let you know how I get on … 🙂

In the meantime I’ve lost track of what day of the week it is, been enjoying the Test cricket on TV (NZ vs Sri Lanka), and laughing at Henry Lee’s antics as he played with a paper bag next to me while I was quilting – he’s a great time waster, that cat! 🙂
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Superb Saturday!

What a lovely day I’ve had today! 🙂

Started off with a lie-in, which was most welcome after some very late nights this week watching the fabulous tennis at the Australian Open.  I was listening to a fascinating interview on Radio New Zealand National, with Kim Hill (the Saturday morning programme presenter) interviewing Willard Wigan, a micro sculptor whose work is so minute it fits on the head of a pin or in the eye of a needle, and can only be viewed through a microscope.  (Do have a look at the gallery in the link above – almost unbelievable work!)   He had an incredibly hard time growing up and going to school in Britain in the 1960s, with teachers regularly dismissing him as stupid and unteachable, as well as being bullied, which caused him to escape into a sort of fantasy world where he began constructing things, eg very small houses and furniture for ants.  He left school at 15 and started work in a factory, and then persuaded a hardware store owner to allow him to sit in the store window and carve things using tools from the shop.  His reputation grew as more and more people began to commission work from him, and he’s now a very successful sculptor in high demand, and was awarded an MBE in 2007.

Spent some time in the garden after breakfast, accompanied by his lordship, who enjoyed rolling in the flowerbed as I was taking some photographs …

As I wandered alongside the creek, I noticed how the eddies in the water were breaking up the reflections and creating fascinating patterns (which my mind immediately saw as possibilities for Zentangles …) – got quite carried away taking photos of these, but here are a few to show you what I mean:

And then when I downloaded the photos this evening, I saw different shapes in the pictures – here are a few I cropped out to show you:

Do you see what I see – two different faces, a cat, and a bird?  Fascinating, isn’t it?

After my garden rounds I spent some time looking at Zentangle patterns on the internet, which provided me with lots of inspiration and encouragement – there really is some beautiful work around.  Here are my efforts from the last few days:

This afternoon and evening were spent watching the third ODI (one day international) cricket game between the Black Caps and India, and what a fantastic game it was, with India requiring two runs off the last ball to win the game, and only managing to get one run, meaning it was a tie.  The Black Caps lead the 5-match series 2-0 so far, so game 4 on Tuesday, and game 5 on Friday, will be closely-fought matches, I’m sure.

And that’s been my day, a glorious one weather-wise, filled with lots of photo opportunities, serendipitous creative discoveries in the creek, and a cracker cricket match!  Oh, and I nearly forgot, Li Na won the women’s open at the tennis this evening, which I was delighted to see – she’s a great player with a very quirky sense of humour, and her winner’s speech was a gem this evening (not to mention the fact that she doesn’t scream, grunt or screech while she’s playing, so she gets several gold stars from me for that!!)

So, time for bed – reading a lovely book at the moment called “The Lost Art of Mixing”, by Erica Bauermeister, about a lady called Lillian who runs a restaurant which has a way of drawing people together:  some nice quirky characters in it, and I like the way the characters’ lives intersect in one way or another.  Apparently the book is a sequel to another called “The School of Essential Ingredients”, so I shall look out for that one too.

G’night, everyone, I hope your Saturday is (or was) as good as mine was! 🙂