Monday, March 31, 2008

60 Pounds of Dirt

According to our city's waste management company we can put out two garbage cans each with 60 pounds of dirt with our regular trash. Since we have tons of clay around our house, Hubby is trying to get rid of it at the rate of 120 pounds of dirt a week. The problem is that the garbage man looks into the can and then leaves it sit there. Hubby then calls the city and complains. The clerk say we don't accept dirt. He says it is in your brochure that you do. Look and see. She does, it does and so she calls the garbage people and they come back and make a special trip to pick up the dirt. This happens quite often, but Hubby is determined.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Clothes for Blueberry

When my granddaughter was born her brother, who was 4 years old decided her name should be Blueberry. Why I don't know, perhaps he liked that word. Anyway we will be seeing Blueberry and her brother near the middle of April. I love sewing for my granddaughter and she loves wearing dresses. I have been busy putting together a few things. I don't think she would let me in the house if I didn't have clothes for her. I have a sweater for her brother that I still have to assemble but Grandma will not arrive empty handed.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Ladies Book Club

At the beginning of this year I started a book club with some of my friends from high school, college and my neighbor. We meet the last Thursday of the month. So far we have read Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons and Water for Elephants. When we met I wore my circus wagon pin and Helene wore her elephant necklace. We decided to read Middlesex for next month. We will see how that goes. We are all retired, about half of us have worked during our marriages, all of us have been to college, we are mostly Catholic and, unfortunately, mostly Republican. We are all good friends and have a good time together.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Helping Mary

I was down in Ohio helping my daughter Mary as she recovered from knee surgery. This has been her third knee surgery and I still understand very little about it. I do know where the knee is but words like meniscus and ACL mean little or nothing to me. I was named Margaret by my mother who mistakenly thought St. Margaret was a nurse( She was converted by her nurse). My mother really wanted me to become a nurse. Fortunately for Mary her mother-in-law is a nurse because if Mary had to depend on me to change a dressing she would really be in trouble. I did manage to make some scrambled eggs for her for breakfast and heat up the homemde chicken noodle soup that her mother-in-law gave her. I also ran the vacuum cleaner and dusted. I did try to give her moral support and I brought her some chocolate.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Worm Composting

Last year in Martha Stewart Living Magazine's garden issue there was an article on how to do worm composting. We already had started to do that after learning about worm composting in our Master Gardening class, but I mention Martha Stewart to show this is a classy thing to do. We modified a Rubermade 10 gallon tote. The worms are a special red worm which we purchased from the Worm Lady in Kalamazoo. We put shredded newspaper and vegetable scraps in the bin. We don't put in meat or dairy because that would smell bad and we either avoid banana peels or first nuke them to prevent fruit flies. It provides compost for indoor plants, it doesn't smell at all, and the worms are happy easy to care for pets.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Easter Sunday

We started the day with Mass and brunch at the Henry Ford Village. It was wonderful and then I even petted a live white bunny. We brought Mom back to our home and while we, girls, chatted Hubby made dinner. The menu was Carbonnade a la flamande and acorn squash with brown sugar. For dessert we had a carrot cake that Duncan and I made. Mom pronounced me spoiled to have a husband who could cook like that. She is right.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

The Rain Garden

The latest thing in eco-friendly gardening is the rain garden. The idea is to place plants that can stand in water for a while and yet still survive dry times in a place where the downspouts drain. Hubby planned it all out, dug up the grass and planted a selection of swamp milkweed, ornamental grass, columbine, and others. It looked good. However shortly after he planted it we got a season of heavy rain. The garden became a lake. It would have been better if the plants where better estasblished. Hubby even tried bailing water out of his rain garden. Then as winter came on the rain garden was covered with a glacier. Now, of course, it is buried under more snow. He is thinking maybe he should plant cattails and bog plants.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Signs of Spring

Last night Hubby and I went to a lecture at the Tollgate Farm, which belongs to Michigan State Extension Services. The topic of the lecture was " Signs of Spring" which was especially appropriate because we are expecting 2 to 4 inches of snow tonight. The lecturer was in charge of the interpretive center at the Lake Erie Metropark. He started out with a stuffed robin on a stick which he called "bird on a stick." He said robins are not signs of spring because they are here all winter long. He then showed us a redwing blackbird, on a stick. The males are just arriving now to set up there territories. He proceded to show us stuffed muskrats, possums, woodchucks, skunks and minks with funny stories about each. He said some possums were born dead on the side of the road. By the time he was done we were anxious to take a trip down there to see the Merganzer ducks do their spring head bobbing, go on a "discovery cruise" on the Detroit river and especially go to the Hawkfest in the fall when hundreds of thousands of hawks fly over that particular point. He said this weekend the Easter Muskrat will be at the park and they will have an Easter Egg hunt for the kids, but they won't really have to hide the eggs because there will be 2 to 4 inches of snow on the ground. The kids won't be able to see them anyway.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

First Quilts

I spoke yesterday about my first quilts. Here is a picture of that first Mariner's Compass quilt. I also made a quilt for my first son. It took me about 5 years to finish it. As a matter of fact I took it to the hospital when my third child Mary was born and finished it there. That was when you stayed in the hospital six days to have a baby. The center of the quilt was from a baby quilt pattern in the Family Circle magazine. I took animals from coloring books to make the pairs of animals around the outside edge. When my oldest had a child I repaired the quilt and sent it to my grandson.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

John's Wedding Quilt

Well the quilt is finished! Last night around 10:30PM I finished the binding. I am quite pleased with the quilt. I used some of the border fabric for the binding and that worked nicely. This was my 31st quilt. I made my very first quilt when I was 12 years old. I had a new baby brother and I embroidered little animals on the squares and yarn tied the quilt. Unfortunately I used a cotton batting and it lumped very badly. Since then I learned that when using cotton batting the quilting should be no farther apart the 1.5 inches. A yarn tied quilt would of necessity be filled with dacron. The second quilt I made was in 1969. We were living in State College, Pennsylvania while my husband was going to graduate school. I signed up for a quilting class at the local high school adult education program. I have always loved quilts. My grandmother had several on the beds at her home in Ohio. I remember especially a double wedding ring quilt that she had made. I imagine my Aunt Ann has those quilts now, I would love to see them again. Anyway from the class I made a queen size Mariners Compass quilt. I used it so long that the top and bottom edges became quite frayed. I rebound the quilt twice and eventually cut off the top and bottom border. I still use the quilt as an extra blanket on the double bed in the guest room.
John's quilt is adapted from a pattern designed by Jinny Beyer called Sommerset. The Mariner's compass was from a pattern on a Mountain Mist batting package.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


It has surprised me that as I get older I need the company of friends. Not Hubby or so he says.(He did have breakfast this morning with some of his former co-workers). I decided to join the ladies group at our church. Now I have been a member of this church for 32 years and never had any inclination to join a ladies group before. I went to the meeting last night and had a great time. We made blankets for the palliative care unit at a hospital. I have started a book club with seven other women and I gather that they enjoy meeting for lunch as much as reading the books. I have also joined the Lions and really enjoy their company. So many friends have joined Red Hat groups, I am not ready for that yet, maybe because I still have a lot of existing friends that I haven't worked into my busy luncheon schedule.

By the way, Savannah is still sucking up, big time.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Palm Sunday

Palms are not an important part of Catholic worship so their treatment has changed over the years. I don't know if Protestants use palms but Catholics pass them out on Palm Sunday. They used to bless them before the first Mass on Palm Sunday and after that you picked them up at the door to the church and held them while the Gospel was read. Some years ago it was changed and they were blessed before each Mass and the ushers passed them out. Today they were blessed before each Mass and Father said to pick them up on your way out. That probably is a better idea. When my six children were little they all had to have palms and since the Gospel for that Sunday is very long they would end up hitting each other with them or getting careless and end up tickling the back of the necks of the people in the pew in front of them. Catholics would then take the palms home and tuck them behind the crucifix on the wall at home. Some people braided them and sometimes made little crosses out of them. We didn't know how to do that. On Palm Sunday you would take down the old palms to replace them with the new, but you had to burn the old ones because they had been blessed. At my Mom's church they collected the old palms and used them for ashes on Ash Wednesday. I don't know if the church purchases palms from a florist or whether there are farms that grow palms just for churches. But today I didn't bother to pick up any palms after Mass but I did notice that the older lady who sits behind us in church (and sings very loudly) was busy braiding her palms as we left church.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

She is Late Again

Martha is always late for just about everything. She was late when she was born. (She was due August 24th and arrived on September 8th) She probably will be late for her funeral. Now when I was young and in school I wasn't always on time for class but seldom late for work. Her father was pretty careful about being on time as well. Now Hubby who is no relation to Martha has being on time sewed up. One time he was taking Gretel to an art award ceremony and left so early that even though there was a fire along the way and we had to take a detour, we got lost in Pontiac and still got to the presentation a half hour ahead of time. I was suprised when talking to my mother, who I always thought of as the pinacle of responsibility, she confessed that she was always late for work. I said but you were the office manager. She said, "Yes, but they didn't like it much."

Friday, March 14, 2008

Spring Fever

It is a beautiful day today. I did my 1.5 mile walking loop and realized how long it has been since I have done it and how out of shape I am. There was a lot of water rushing across the sidewalks and down the storm drains. The snow is melting. I was bundled up with hat and gloves but it was wonderful. Hubby left this afternoon for a doctor's appointment and I noticed as he drove off that he wasn't wearing a coat at all. It reminded me, I used to tell my children that spring fever was when you went outside in the spring without a coat and it wasn't really that warm yet and you caught cold.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

The Cat is Psychic

Earlier I wrote about our cat Savannah who is crippled but every time we talk about putting her down she shows a great burst of ability. Recently our daughter, Amy, sent us a note about the availability of another cat. I told Hubby that I really miss our cat Virginia and Savannah is not much of a pet. She stays within 10 square feet in our house which ranges from the center of the kitchen floor to the broom closet where she sleeps. She still often dosen't make it past the bottom of the basement stairs toward the litter box. Hubby isn't ready to put her down but I miss a cat who would lie in her basket next to me while I sewed and sleep at my feet at night. We have another cat Fervor but he is Martha's cat and barely tolerates the rest of us. So I said it would be nice to have our own cat. We left Amy know we were interested. This morning as I was getting dressed, Savannah tumbled through the cat door into our bedroom and this afternoon while I was quilting she nestled at my feet. Now either that cat is psychic or else she understands English. Just in case it's the latter, I said to her," Savannah if you can't make it all the way to the litter box I'm going to put you down." If she's psychic she will know I probably won't.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Waking up is Hard to do

Neil Sedaka had his hit " Breaking up is Hard to do" but mine is about waking up. I have never been an early riser. When my kids were little I stayed in bed until the last minute and I didn't stay up later either. In fact I took a nap whenever they did. Now that I am retired it is hard to get up early in the morning. Hubby used to be an early riser but since he has retired he can sleep in with the best of them. We were just getting into the habit of getting up around 8 AM when daylight saving time hit. I try the night before to make a list of what I wish to achieve the next day (on the premise that I sleep in because I have nothing to do). That helps me get things done but not get up earlier. Maybe when the weather is nicer....

Monday, March 10, 2008


When I was a kid I enjoyed the fantasy of landing on a mountain island and carving a castle out of it. If you saw my projects list you would realize that in my old age I am just as unrealistic as ever. On my projects list I include 18 quilts, which does not include any for myself or future grandchildren. I have 18 embroidery projects which doesn't include an embroidered tablecloth which I have not bought but drool over every time the Herschner Catalogue comes. I have numerous sewing projects like the wardrobe I sew for my granddaughter every season. I also have other projects, not well defined, like a crazy quilt project utilizing my Dad's ties or refinishing Martha's cedar chest. I asked for and received some art instruction books for Christmas because I would like to learn to draw and somewhere I would like to try painting ceramics. I suppose the day I can't think of anything I would like to do, that is the day I am truly old. If I take after my Mom, Dad, or even my brother, that won't ever happen.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Winter Blahs

Today as we went to church and the car thermometer was 19 degrees, Hubby said he thought this would be the last really cold weekend of the winter. I reminded him that he said that last week. Michigan usually has a good snowfall in the beginning of April but it's the cold that really gets you down. It could be worse. Mary has the cold and 20 inches of snow. Somehow this time of year I get a little tired of my needlework, my arthritis bugs me, and it's hard to find something of interest to do. Last night on TV we started to watch a program about the earth after people were gone, but we thought it was stupid and turned it off. Who cares if only medium size dogs survive and the rats and mice diminish because there is no human garbage to eat.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Spice Cake

Hubby has a new magazine called Cooks Illustrated. He likes it a lot. Today he made a spice cake, it was wonderful. He told me he had to mix the spices with the melted butter to make the spices "bloom." He made a cream cheese and spice frosting for the cake. It was really good. When hubby makes a cake you don't have to wait until dessert to have any, as soon as it was iced he cut a piece for each of us. He is also making a beef roast for tomorrow that cooks in a low oven for 24 hours. It is supposed to make a cheap cut of beef very tender. I encourage him to try anything he likes and I also make suggestions of things I like. I would like him to try some of the recipes on Mary's website.

Friday, March 7, 2008

The Ford

The former Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village are now called "The Ford." We are members, which is very nice because we can drop in for certain displays or for as long or as short a visit anytime we wish. There is much too much to see in one visit. Today they had a sidewalk sale of gift shop items. Fortunately it was in the corridor outside the gift shop and not out on the sidewalk because it was really cold this morning. The sale started at 10AM. We got there about 10:15AM and already there was a line. The lady in front of me spent over $300. We got some nice books and toys. After the sale we went into the museum where they had a special show of quilts by Suzanne Allen Hunter. She was a poor black woman from Alabama. Her quilts were needed to keep people warm. She mentions in her writings that at night you could see the stars through the cracks in the ceiling. The quilts were made of pieces of used clothing, you could see where pockets had been because the fabric was less faded there. The quilts were made of large pieces of cloth as she didn't have time to work with small pieces as they needed blankets. Sometimes she filled a new quilt with an old one, sometimes she layed pieces of cloth for the inner layer. Most of the time she took raw cotton and beat it flat and picked out the seeds for the batting layer. The backs were pieced too. I am sure she couldn't imaging the luxury of one of my quilts stuffed with dacron.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Back to Retirement

Well my employment lasted about 20 hours. The big project I was going to be hired for fell through. I am retired again. I am back to work on John's wedding quilt and according to my Excel spreadsheet I should finish it by April 5th and I am now 83.7% complete. I have my grandson's quilt top complete and am waiting until I finish John's quilt to put it on the frame. I started knitting a sweater for another grandson. I have knitted for my granddaughter but not for the boys. I made her a little skating outfit and one for her dolly. I also made her a dress and sweater from the same pattern I used for Mary when she was little. Hubby and I have registered for a landscaping design class as well as Spanish lessons. I also belong to two book clubs so I don't think I will be bored without working, but I did enjoy it while it lasted.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Canada Geese

There are large reflecting pools between the buildings at the GM Technical Center in Warren, Michigan. During the spring lots of Canada Geese fly in and lay eggs, sometimes right on the sidewalks that surround the pools. The walkways become dangerous. Not only are they slippery and yucky, angry geese accost you if you get too near their eggs or goslings. Now I have never been a fan of Canada Geese. They are noisy and messy. I have never eaten a goose dinner although I have had goose liver pate and like it too, but I don't know if that is from Canada Geese, Today as I drove around the pool at the Tech Center I noticed several geese have arrived, but at 28 degrees they were walking on the pond instead of swimming in it.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Hi Ho, Hi Ho, It's Off to Work I Go

Well, I went back to work today. Hubby got up and made me coffee before I left. Other than having to get up early, pack a lunch and drive to work, it wasn't bad. I have always loved my job and once there the day passed quite quickly. My job requires patience and stamina, a lot like quilting. My job has very specific goals so it is easy to see both progress and a finished product. That makes a reward in itself. A lot like quilting.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

You Can't Judge a Book by it's Cover

When we travel I often buy books for the grandchildren. When we were in Assateague I bought "Misty" and "Stormy" for the kids. This time I bought books which were mysteries set in the National Parks. "Out of the Deep " from Acadia National Park, "Rage of Fire" from Hawaii Volcanos National Park, "Wolfstalker" from Yellowstone, and "Cliff Hanger" from Mesa Verde. I probably would have been wiser to buy them all the same book. Then I could remember who had which book. (Its OK though because I made an Excell spread sheet to keep track.) Since my granddaughter is only 5 years old I picked up what looked like an easier book. "There is a Hair in my Dirt" by Gary Larson. It was incredibly funny but I am not sure it was right for a 5 year old. I am sure her Dad, a real outdoors man, would really enjoy it. It explains that nature is not always what we think.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Shoe Shopping

I think I hate shopping for shoes more than doing anything else. I hate shopping in general, any kind of shopping. I don't like shopping for clothes because being almost six feet tall nothing ever fits, and now that I am older with battleship hips I don't have a prayer of anything fitting. Shoes have always been a problem. I wear a size eleven. Many stores don't even carry elevens and those that do carry only weird looking shoes in size eleven. Store clerks have a tendency to say with great disdain, " We don't carry THAT size." I put a tear in my walking shoes when in Phoenix and I will need new shoes to go to work. I can wear my boots for a few days as there is plenty of snow to justify that. Mary has the smallest shoes in the family and is a shoe nut. We call her Imelda. Of course in spite of all her shoes she has trouble standing up. ( see her Blog for that story.)