Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Settling In...Can Quilting Be Far Behind?

Feeling human again...hooray! Visited the cats in quarantine yesterday...so, so sad! A picture is worth a thousand words...Here's Patch, looking completely miserable.
And Spike and Cassie aren't much better...So, on to happier topics! Did I ever show you guys my first quilt? This was a log cabin quilt, obviously. I made all the blocks, not really tweaking to the fact that, no, really, each block is SUPPOSED to be EXACTLY the same size. After the fact I realized that these small variations were going to make for a wonky quilt, so the blocks sat for a couple of years. One day, I just said, "Blow it...I'm going to put them together." I did, and that was my first realization that sometimes a bit of variation can be quilted out...what a happy discovery!
It was also my first time to try free-motion quilting, and it didn't go too, too badly. Now this quilt is on our bed in Australia. It was made for a king-size and our bed here is a queen, but don't tell the Quilt Police!
This morning I started opening boxes and bins, and was so happy to find the first large chunk of my As Time Goes By quilt (I think I mentioned before that I love the BBC series, As Time Goes By, and there's an old-fashioned Pinwheel Quilt in it that I always love, so I decided to make one). This may be my first quilt to be finished in Australia...we'll see. And more and more antique quilts came out of boxes, and the stash bins presented themselves, yes, yes yes...

The only bad news is that my trip to Sydney to buy a Bernina is now postponed till early December, but since I'll be making the LONG trek to see the cats twice a week, that's probably not a bad thing.

So, if Blogger will cooperate, let's try to add a couple of shots of our place in Exeter this morning. The garden is looking gorgeous, and it's sunny and warm. Just need my sweetie to arrive on 16 Nov. and all will be well! Well, no, actually, no dice on more pics, so...another day.


Saturday, October 28, 2006

Leavin', on a Jet Pla...Jet Pla...Jet Pla...

Second try at leaving SFO wasn't much better than the first. Got everyone boarded in time for the scheduled 11PM departure, taxied out for take-off, then sat, and sat and sat. Finally the dreaded voice of the pilot, "Uh, sorry folks, we can't seem to get the engines to start. We're returning to the terminal, and we'll keep you posted." This can't be happening, can it? Well, yes, it can!

Back to the terminal, where they directed us to a new gate, new airplane, then told us we had to hurry and board because unless we were all on board and the doors to the aircraft closed by 1:35AM, the crew would be illegal, timewise, and we couldn't leave. Everyone scrambled, and with only about one minute to spare we got boarded and the doors closed. Third time's a charm, right?

Uneventful flight, with most passengers just yucking it up because it was all so surreal. As we approached Sydney the pilot came on again. Westerly winds up to 35 knots, have to land to the west, not a lot of fuel to spare, but we have to circle for an hour to see if the winds will ease off. Sigh. This time our luck held, and we did in fact land at 9:12AM Saturday morning.

So here I am, Sunday morning, feeling fairly frail and hoping I'm not coming down with something, but in one piece and on terra firma.

Kitties arrived at the quarantine facility just fine and I hope they're settling in alright. If I'm up to it, I'll make the drive on Tuesday to see for myself.

Thanks to you all for your best wishes and commiserations!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Or Maybe Not...

The best laid plans and all that...I'm still in California after all. Last night I boarded a packed-full United flight and we took off from SFO at 11:20 PM. Usually I have a glass of wine and then take an Ambien. I felt a bit hungry, so I decided to eat some dinner first. Thank heaven for that!

About an hour and a bit out, I had finished eating and was about to take the pill and head to dreamland, when the voice of the pilot came floating through the dark...uh-oh! Seems we had a fuel line with a valve stuck closed. Have to jettison a whole lot of fuel and then return to SFO. Sigh.

Another hour plus back, and we landed around 2AM. The powers that be rescheduled us for TONIGHT at 11PM, so I'll be having all this much fun again tonight. I felt really sorry for many of my fellow travelers for whom SF is not their home destination. I was able to catch a cab and get home to our condo, but there's a huge Oracle convention in SF this week and there are absolutely NO hotel rooms available. The United gate staff was telling the passengers that wonderful information, and then saying "but we'll pay you $60 for a hotel room (which is not available anyway) and $10 for breakfast." What generosity! They followed up that useful information with another news note: "We have lots of pillows and blankets available for your use." Translation: Have a nice night on the floor at the airport. What a mess!

I tried to come in the condo as quietly as possible at 3AM, but of course woke DH up, scaring the stuffings out of him. Had to ring my in-laws, who had come up to Sydney to stay at a hotel overnight, so they could meet my 6AM arrival...not! Now they're in a quandary about what to do. I tried to convince them to just go on home and I'll find a shuttle service to take me from Sydney to Exeter on Saturday, but they're insisting they'll come back to get me. At their ages (mid-80s), I think it's just too much to get up at dawn's crack to get there to meet me.

I'll try to phone the Qantas airport staff who handle the pet arrivals this afternoon to see if their flight was on time and everyone arrived alive and well. Then I'll check a few hours later to be sure they've arrived at the quarantine facility at Eastern Creek. I'll be a bit nervous till I hear they're all ok.

Sometimes life's just like that, ya know? The glamours of international travel! Anyhoo, I'll post again once I'm in Exeter for real. Thanks for all your good wishes, everybody...I got your comments this morning when I woke up.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

And A-waaaaaaay She Goes!

This morning...7:45AM...all seven present and accounted for, and NONE of them happy.

It was a bittersweet moment. We've been working toward this goal of getting the cats ready to fly, and tonight's the night.

Poor Alfonse, the all black one, caught a claw in his eyelid this week, so he's traveling with antibiotic ointment for the quarantine people to put in.

I can't visit them in Australia till next Tuesday (which is Monday California time). Hope they make the flight alright, and aren't too freaked out by all the strangers.

I'm sure they all waved a fond farewell to Karen and crew at the Feline Bed and Breakfast. It really helped to have such friendly, caring people taking care of them all this time, I must say.

And so, now all that remains is for me to pack up this 'puter and head for the airport. Bittersweet time, and I'll be SO glad to get there and start getting settled.

Keep a good thought that my internet connection comes right up when I try it. We carefully noted all the changes that need to be made to my system to be sure that it does, but you know how THAT goes...plug and pray. I hope to be able to post something from Down Under soon.

And here's the good news: my friend, Margaret, is driving me to Sydney on the 30th to buy my new Bernina...now THAT's a thought to bring a smile to all our faces!


Thursday, October 19, 2006

Coming Down To The Wire...

Wednesday is departure day for me and the cats and it seems like there are too many details to be taken care of before I go. DH will remain here, now, until mid-November, so I'll be on my own in Australia the first three weeks, except for twice weekly drives to visit the cats in quarantine west of Sydney on Tuesdays and Thursdays. This should give me a lot of practice in left-hand side of the road driving, since the quarantine facility is about an hour and a half from where we live, I think.

Today I'm putting together a parcel to mail to Australia so I won't have to check any luggage: a couple of favorite kitchen knives that we've been using at the condo, a brand-new rotary cutter and some sewing notions, odds and ends that somehow didn't make it into the container.

Trying to wrap up bills and banking and address changes has been sort of crazy. I think I've taken care of an address change only to discover that some part of some computer system still hasn't gotten the message...annoying!

Monday the cats have their final de-ticking and de-worming procedures and a final medical check. Unfortunately, a few of them have caught another cold at the boarding facility where they are staying, so ALL of them are now on antibiotics twice a day until they leave on Wednesday. As if the move itself weren't traumatic enough, the poor guys have now had two bouts of illness since they left their idyllic home in Novato three months ago. Combination of stress and exposure to the germs of a lot of other cats, I guess. I hope they do well at the quarantine facility...they have to remain there until December 17, I think.

So, I'll try to post again before I leave, but if not, catch you all on the other side of the pond in a week or so...

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Pacific International Quilt Festival

Went to the PIQF in Santa Clara yesterday...what a wonderful place! So many gorgeous quilts. I took some photos and am posting a few I thought were especially interesting here. Sadly, there were so many people and it was so crowded at some places, I didn't get the names of all the quilters, but I'll post those I did get.

Here was a lovely pink and yellow sampler that I really enjoyed. The quilting was nice, too. Wish I'd gotten the quilter's name on this one. And here's one especially for Tonya. Dance-Life Love Laugh Dream, by D. Wright of Eagle, ID. It is so full of life and color, and as an ex-dancer, it somehow spoke to me.
I couldn't get a really good photo of the entire quilt on this next one, but the detail shot gives you an idea -- called The Purple Red and Orange One, by Carol Stapleton of San Mateo, CA. Interesting colors, lively feel, beautifully pieced and quilted.
This one, Garden Kaleidoscope, by Vicky Crow of Strafford MO, was striking for its vibrant colors, and also for the interesting offset arrangement. I've often seen this done with individual blocks, but not so usual for the entire quilt...I LIKE it...
And I saw this one, On The Road Again, by Linda Schmidt of Dublin CA just as I arrived at the show and was boggled. The detail on this is fantastic -- almost a photorealism piece. The block on the bottom right with the huge anchor in the foreground has the San Francisco skyline in the background. and each Porsche was so finely detailed, with a little metallic thread in the quilting...just stunning. For an applique-phobe like myself, it seems like an impossible feat to create something like this.
And that's all the pics Blogger will let me add for the moment...grrrrr.

One of the vendors was offering the Bernina 440QE (with the new Bernina Stitch Regulator) as a show special at $2500. Haven't priced these before, so I don't know if that's a good price or not. The lady told me their regular retail price was $3600! Calling all Aussie bloggers...how much does the 440QE cost in Australia, any idea? The lady I spoke to told me this machine will work just fine in Australia, as the voltage is adaptable to U.S. and other countries...I'd only need to order a new power cord. Hmmmm....I may have to go back to the show today and order one. It's a lot of money, though. Probably even MORE expensive if I wait and buy one in Oz --decisions, decisions.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

More On the Dear Jane/Jane Was Nuts Class

I always loved the look of Jane Stickle's Dear Jane Quilt, but was afraid to tackle it. Carol Miller at Quilt University teaches the Jane Was Nuts Class. Her idea was that the original Dear Jane blocks, finishing at 4.5", I think, meant working with lots of units that are VERY inconvenient sizes, lots of measuring and headaches. So she worked out some designs that finish at 4", and are based on simple squares and strips that are 1", 1.5", 2" and 2.5". You get the idea, anyway. These little 4" blocks are lots of fun to make...rather addictive. Once you've got a lot of fabric cut to the convenient sizes, you can play and play. Here are the 30 blocks I ended up with. You can see the detail a bit better on the photos of individual blocks, like Pinwheel Star:

Stamp: Plaid:
And here's the final layout I came up with to incorporate all my blocks. Since I made two of each of the designs, I will need to make another 14 or so Jane Was Nuts blocks to do this quilt in queen size, 78x78.Who knows how long it will take me actually to begin this quilt. All the blocks are now in Australia...maybe I'll pull them out next month and start thinking about the fabrics for the alternate HSTs, Square in Square border and other borders.

Carol was really helpful during the class and I highly recommend it, when it's next offered. She also commented on potential quilt designs as she's really good about communicating with students in the class via e-mail. A very good experience, all in all!

Well, I tried to go back and add a couple more photos of individual blocks, but Blogger won't let me...sorry.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Some Quilts I've Made...

OK, I'm suffering severe withdrawal since I can't quilt yet. So I decided to go back through my old photos and post a few of my golden oldies, made around 2002, 2003. The first one is called Maine Chance, and I made it for my sister, Sheri, as a quilt to be raffled off as a benefit for the convalescent hospital where she works. I thought it was fun to make the lighthouse blocks in the corners, and the mariner's compass in the center.
My other sister, Tracy, was redecorating her bedroom, using the colors lavender and butter yellow. So I designed this quilt (with help from Marcia Hohn's Quilter's Cache for the bow blocks) and called it the Lavender and Butter Quilt. It's queen size, but this photo shows it on my California king bed, so it looks a little too narrow.
My 85-year-old Mom has bad knees, and finds that extra warmth feels good on them. Blue is her favorite color, so I made this little lap quilt for her. She received it when she was in the early stages of Alzheimer's, so she was able to enjoy it for a little while before she descended into the mists. At this point, she's in fairly good physical health, but getting frailer every day, and her mind has betrayed her pretty completely. I'm glad she had a chance to enjoy this quilt before that happened.
My mother-in-law, Rae, had two black cats named Mahalia and Melissa. DH and I have also had two black cats, Margot and Alfonse. So when I saw this design on the net, I decided to make one for Rae. In spite of the fact that it includes applique, I had fun making it and still like it a lot today. I'd like to do some poking around in my old files and see if I can find some pics of the blocks I made for a Quilt University class a couple of years ago, Jane Was Nuts. These are Dear Jane-type blocks, but redrafted to be a more easily divisible size and thus much easier to make than the original Dear Jane blocks. The photos I have on my system now are so small it's hard to see the detail. The class was a good one, and a lot of fun to do. We also designed a finished quilt with the blocks in EQ5. I'll see if I can find my completed design, which used all the Jane Was Nuts blocks I had made, plus a few I have yet to do.

There! My quilt fix for the day!

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Shopping Spree!

Woo-hoo, what fun! Liza and I went shopping yesterday and look at my goodies...this black boucle coat with the frilly, loopy collar will be fun, I think. I don't have anything this frivolous in my wardrobe, so I'm feeling quite adventurous! Liza and I liked this green tencel blouse with the shirred sleeves so much, that we each bought one. Since she lives in the Sierra Foothills and I'm in the SF Bay Area or Australia, I doubt we'll wear it at the same functions...
And isn't this wide-wale corduroy jacket with horn buttons cute? I think I'll take it to Australia with me...it just looks like country to me. Imagine it over a turtleneck, with jeans and boots.
Anyway, we had an incredibly fun day of shopping. Also bought three fun pairs of socks, and a neat bracelet that has magnets in it, so you don't need a clasp...just wrap it around your wrist a few times. Forgot to take a pic of that...maybe tomorrow?

Almost makes up for not having a sewing machine and fabric here...almost.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Blotspot Silly Buggers

Well, I tried to post this morning, but Blogspot is playing silly buggers again, so it all went bye-bye. Suffice to say, I tried to post that I'm going shopping this morning with my friend, Liza...fun! Will report on the damage to my credit card tomorrow...