Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Ramblings of a Traumatized Quilter Who Laid Awake All One Night Crying Over Stuff That Didn't Actually Burn. then cried again later for things that did.

Oh my, where to start? Finally get my Internet back today and I don't even know what to say or how to say it. It's been quite the emotional 3 1/2 weeks around here. Life was just scooting along like normal and then kaboom! Seemingly out of nowhere, we have a fire racing down the hill behind our house and approximately a 20-30 minute window of evacuation time. I always thought I'd know exactly what would be important enough to grab and make a run with... but the reality is so very, very different. The mind kind of fogs over and logical thinking quickly gets hijacked by adrenaline--plus the very intense messages being sent out in neon colors to just ignore 'things' in favor of getting loved ones to a safe place NOW.
Finally, a moment spent on quilting. I can't seem to settle
or think properly about any of my UFO's so I try this on a whim.
Because really, things are replaceable--we all know that. And people aren't. But oh how my heart aches for people like my parents and sister who essentially lost everything overnight. My mom had a quilt room easily six times the size of mine, mountains of fabric everywhere, half finished quilt projects up the kazoo and so many beautiful quilts we'll never, ever see again. I want to shower her with fabric, but she doesn't need that right now. She needs pots and pans and a salt shaker. New throw rugs and a nice comfy recliner. I gave her a quilt made with fabrics from my grandma (her mom) and she accused me of trying to make her cry. I kind of think it doesn't take much these days, for her or anyone else similarly affected by the fire.
Vintage basket blocks (bought at Farm Chicks in Spokane).
The blocks have rust stains on them and the hand piecing
is not so wonderful--too risky to make into a proper quilt.
But they are doing very well in spite of the devastation. Most people are around here. We have such a great community with people pulling in to help from everywhere. It's simply unbelievable to see the hoards of people who have pitched in to help with everything from immediate relief supplies, showers, meals etc, to help find temporary housing and clean-up detail. This little valley out in the middle of nowhere is very quickly getting the rubble scraped up and sent on down the road. Which feels good and oh so necessary. The generosity extended in our time of need has been nothing short of incredible. Overwhelming and touching. Words are inadequate, but know that it's been an amazing thing to witness, the friends, neighbors and family rallying to give of whatever's needed. Then there are the strangers. Giving, giving, giving of their time, money, homes and possessions. Who knew?
I decide to make a table runner. Something quick and rewarding.
So good that when I cut the blocks down, it actually cuts away most of the
staining. Fray check takes care of the worst of the unskilled stitching.
Our story is not nearly as tragic as so many others, but let me tell you, we've all been affected in one way or another. My immediate family came back home to stay after nine days (even without access to power) because we simply couldn't stay away any longer. Home sweet home. I think everyone just walked around in a daze touching things and letting tears leak out of our eyes because of the enormity of our blessings. The reality of other peoples losses. I picked up my hand quilting only once in those nine days. Who would have believed it of me? I think my heart hurt too much.
I decide to hand quilt with chunky Perle Cotton thread.
Working with fabric makes me feel very emotional but the make-do
piecing feels exactly right for some reason. It all comes
together into something that looks like it belongs in my home so I'm happy.
It feels like an honor to give these beautiful old blocks new life.
After coming home, I just wanted to clean. So much dust and ash, grime throughout the house and in every corner and crevasse possible. The acrid smell of smoke in most of our clothing, all our towels and of course the linens. I felt like a woman possessed. We did what we could before the power came on and then immediately after, essentially attacked the house. My husband got a small dumpster delivered and we started purging our house. It was sort of weird, but after thinking everything had been burnt to the ground and then coming to realize we had been spared? There were things that just needed to go.
Something else I've been working on as I'm easing myself
back into the quilting mode. All the decisions were previously made
for putting this part of the quilt top together. I needed an easy peasy project.
Just me and chain piecing therapy hard at work in the quilt room!
We've had help from the insurance too. A restoration company sent a three woman crew to clean for two days, a duct cleaning crew plus a carpet/upholstery cleaning crew. We had three Hepa filters running for most of two days. Volunteer help has worked on the outside clearing the burnt hillside of scorched trees and shrubs plus a charred fence. My husband is planning to pressure wash our house next month too when things start to slow down. ha ha Don't make me laugh. I think we'll leave the one blackened piece of siding for a memory. A talisman if you will. It could have been so much worse. Oh my, could it ever have been so very much worse.

The front yard is still an eyesore, but truly, it kind of was before. The pots of flowers survived (judicious watering with water bottles until the city water came back online) which makes us all smile, sitting there in the midst of absolute chaos and debris cluttered throughout the yard. But we're starting to feel like life around might be getting back to normal, although we're all pretty sure it's a 'new' normal. In our minds there's always going to be a 'before' the fire and an 'after' the fire in the chronological telling of life events. It is a huge thing in our lives to have to experience. For example, my son didn't whistle for two whole days. (Normally he only stops when he's eating or sleeping.) And now, my daughter always comes back from her evening run with damp eyes because she's running past the charred property and homes of so many we know. 

Thank you to everyone for all the wonderful care and concern. I simply don't have the time right now to respond personally to all my emails and get caught up like I wish I could. Debra, you are an absolute sweetheart for checking up on me and I'm sorry I missed out on your blog thing. Diane, I am fine, better than fine actually. Thanks for being my friend.:) Angie, I LOVE the eagle button--will add it to my blog soon, I promise.

p.s. Oh yes, I'll still be awol for awhile longer as we're leaving soon for our planned trip to Oklahoma to see our son graduate from OSUIT. Life does just keep doing its thing, doesn't it? I feel comfortable telling you as there will be people in and out of our home even in our absence. I did a quick cruise through blogland looking at various blogs and projects--lots of great stuff to see and drool over. Hopefully I can get back to my regular quilting/posting by the end of August or first part of September and of course I'm packing an applique bag for the road trip almost as I speak.*wink

Friday, August 1, 2014

Electricity but no Internet

It wasn't supposed to be night, it was around 7:00pm and pitch black.

Hi this is Rhiannon (I'm the oldest daughter!),
Just a quick note from My Mom. We are so happy and thankful to still have a home. We finally got back into our house on Friday!! The Electric came back on Saturday - Yay! Still no Internet at home though. We're waiting for the Internet guy to tell us where to replace the burnt pole. We seem to be in a bigger hurry then he is, but there's a million things to do at home anyway.  Lots of clean-up inside and out. Also we're trying to make room for my grandparents and my aunt to live at our place for awhile. Camp trailers in the yard for sleeping and privacy, inside for intense bonding over Grandma's fried tacos. No worries about mom and her quilting though. When we were evacuating she grabbed more quilts than anything else. I can't say much though because I grabbed all of my quilts and stuffed them in my car too. Also during all this mayhem and craziness, mom has still been working on a basket quilt project. Thanks so much for all the kind and supportive comments. As soon as we get the Internet at home again , Mom will check back in and start returning some emails.

This is our house and that hill goes right up to the back of  the house. This is just a couple minutes before we left.

The Hill behind our house on fire

This is what is left of my Grandma and Grandpa Wilson's House.

My Grandma Easter's trailer was in this trailer park.
Our highway sign is gone, but the town is still recognizable, it's the town with all the burnt houses.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Fire's in Pateros

Hi I'm Liz, Audrey's sister I don't know if you realize she lives in Pateros, WA.

The Carlton complex fire swept through town Thursday night.  Audrey and her family are all safe.  They did not lose their home but it was close.  Many neighbors and our parents lost their homes.  Everyone is OK.  We are so thankful everyone is alive.  

We do not know when power and internet will be restored.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Halfway Through With the Flowering Snowballs

Here's the first eleven Flowering Snowball blocks finished and up on the wall. I started out piecing/stitching real slow and careful, trying to get everything 'just right'. I unpicked when needed and generally just took my very sweet time.
The first 11 Flowering Snowballs
Then I decided it was time to quit dinking around and do some chain piecing for efficiencies sake.  I'm on a schedule don't you know! lol Anyway, I somehow I ended up having to take care of the unit below twice before I got it right. Seriously, the first time I took the right white piece off and sewed it on WRONG. Then I took the wrong white piece off and resewed it on WRONG. Okay, now I'm confused. But if you look at the picture below very carefully, you can see the bottom white piece was once sewed on correctly and then some idiot decided to unpick it and sew it on the WRONG way. I'm still not sure what happened here. You'd think there would be a brilliant excuse to explain things like that away, but sadly, there's not.
How not to sew this unit...
I did finally get my brain corralled and headed in the proper direction, thank goodness.There's really no point to chain piecing if you I can't even get the pieces sewn together properly.
Trying out some chain piecing
After a good nights sleep I felt much more confident about trying to put together sets of blocks instead of one measly block at at time. This time around I attempted sewing sets of four! blocks and surprisingly, it worked out very well.
The next 12 blocks

These blocks look better than they appear in the picture. Really, I was in a hurry, jumping up and down off my sewing chair--slapping the blocks on the wall and getting back to my sewing. When this kind of sewing is going well, it's not the time to be worrying about the photo op.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Another Day of Progress

I've been working on my Flowering Snowball blocks a little here and there. They are just challenging enough to put a smile on my face while I'm sewing them together, but not so easy I get to relax. So exciting that I can actually sew a complicated block together like this without extreme difficulties!
Flowering Snowball blocks
Of course, working on quilts like my Learning Curves is the main reason I can sew Flowering Snowballs together and stay sane. Well, kinda sane. I have to say, all the pin, pin, pinning and fussy sewing in the centers does get tedious after a bit. Nice to have all the pieces finally cut out and ready to go too. I was trying to pace myself with the cutting out so I didn't strain my hand like the last time I was cutting out template pieces. So hard when you want to have it all done!
All the pieces ready to put together
And then in the evenings I try to spend some time with my Worry Baskets quilt in my lap. It's really hot in our part of the state right now, but my husband keeps the air conditioning up high enough that I can usually feel glad to have a quilt hanging around.
Another day with the hoop
I feel like I'm in that wonderful phase where I'm getting nowhere very fast with the hand quilting on this particular quilt. I have to keep telling myself that another frame done is another day of hand quilting I won't have to be spending on this quilt later on. Love the look so very much so I just keep picking the frame up every evening. Eventually I'll be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Linking up with Kathy's Slow Stitching Sunday where I'll be chugging along with the other slow stitchers!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Sweet, Sweet Progress on the Geese Tracks Quilt

Implementation is often the very hardest step for me. Seriously. I get this idea in my head that seems fabulous, but the details are a little fuzzy. Okay, lets be honest-- a lot fuzzy. Way back when this project was just a great stack of fabric, I knew I wanted black shadow appliqued flowers, especially in and around the border.
The last border, promise....
Then the project progressed. I somehow ended up with a basket border. The baskets wanted to show off my black flowers that had suddenly appeared in the centerpiece. (Huh? how did that happen?) It seemed like a good idea so I went with it. But what about my black flower border? Hmmm.. Got to make sure the center ties in with the outside of the quilt. Which was not done yet, so yeah, a bit difficult.... The details of my quilt were starting to meld and morph and even play a little hide and seek with me. This is the stage that makes me want to chew my fingernails off I if let it get to me.
The bias vine before I fussed with it a hundred more times.
But I persevered. I made another border and then yet another. Some people didn't understand what I was doing or where I was headed because they thought it looked 'really wonderful' at the basket border. Stop! You are ruining your beautiful quilt! {You really can't ignore the elephant in the room comments.} People just want to, ahem, be helpful and stave off what is obviously the equivalent of a normal person driving their car off a cliff on purpose.
The bias vine just before I fussed with it for the very LAST time.
You can see the major improvement from before.*wink
Even I winced as the last border was added. Those super light gray/whites--so drab and plebeian. What was I thinking!!!! What if I was destroying the best part of my quilt?!!! Ahh.... the angst. I made myself cut out and sew together the bias vine and then I folded it all up and put it away. There! I am so. done. with this quilt.
Starting to place the flowers and leaves
Yeah, about that. I didn't put it too far away. That would be quilt project murder. It was in plain sight all the time. Every single time I went into my quilt room there it was. It even had to be moved a time or two to get to the quilt projects around it, but I kept it out where it could taunt me. Haunt me a litte. Beg for mercy. Anything to be put out of its quilty misery. 

So finally, yesterday I hauled it down to the living room and laid it right smack in the middle of the floor. I fixed myself a tall glass of iced tea and threw the bias vine on the border, fussed with it a bit and griped to myself about not planning the border better. You know, so the applique could be put on one border at a time instead of this big unwieldy quilt monster. My husband came home early for work, wafting concrete dust all the way back to the bathroom. Reprieve! Lets put it up and work on it another day. But nope. Just taking a shower and leaving again for a couple hours.
Starting to hack the flowers and leaves into bits....
Hmm... So I visited for a few minutes and went back to work. Pinned the bias vine. Fiddled and fussed. Then I took a break. Fixed some strawberry lemonade. Fussed with the bias vine some more. Started cutting out flowers and leaves. Made Took a few phone calls. Decided to put it all away for a better day when my head was clearer.
All that drama for this?
Oh I was so tired of this quilt. It was draining all my energy away and I couldn't SEE it. You know, that brilliant light bulb map of where to go next? It was eluding me. I still had a couple hours until my house filled up with people tromping around my living room so I told myself to quit being a coward and get on with it. But then I promptly went into the kitchen to do some dishes. lol Good to get the priorities figured out! Uh huh, got distracted by the idea of making a yummy lemon jello, cottage cheese, pineapple, and blueberry salad--never did the dishes. (You can see that the inside of my mind is a very scary place indeed......)

Okay, enough avoidance. Even I was tired of all the wasted time, angst and drama. So I went back to work with a vengeance (haha too much sugar for that) and actually got the last flower in place just before it was time to make dinner. Good thing my husband had called and said he'd be late! I pulled all the flowers and leaves off the quilt and quickly pinned the stems into place for sewing. That part is for later. 

Whew! Can you believe what it takes for me to finally settle down and concentrate on what is basically just a simple little design element? Some quilts. If I didn't know better, I'd think they were a lot more trouble than they're worth.*wink

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

The Last Basket Block and Some Flock of Geese Play

Still haven't killed off my flowers in the pots by the front door! Usually by this time of year I've forgotten to water at least once and the lobelia dies away until I can't even revive it anymore. 
Enjoying my flower pots
Since I'm determined to start a couple new projects, I thought it would be a good idea to get this last basket from the Baskets Galore BOM done and out of the way. I took one look at the pattern and just cringed. Seriously. Wendy said she wanted to challenge us a little, but wowsers, this one looked tough. Oh I was so surprised when it turned out to be one of my very best blocks! Do I just rush the easy looking ones too much? I would have done a victory dance, but my quilting room barely has room to turn around in, so I had to make do with a very large, cheesy grin.
Block #12
I put all the baskets on the wall together and I think they are fairly well balanced in color. Now to figure out what and how to set them. I'm really leaning toward some alternating applique blocks, maybe in some red and greens?
All the baskets are finished!
Then I got my Flock of Geese and little bluebird blocks out to play. If I use this really toned down brown as the sashing fabric then the flying geese blocks sort of pop--in a confident yet really serene way. I especially liked it when the direction of the flying geese blocks got changed up a bit, making them go every which way. Lots of good energy there! The sashing would have to be 6" wide (the same width as the bluebird blocks) but I've been wanting a quilt with super wide sashing forever. And yeah, I was thinking of a wide sashing all along. It was The Plan.
Flock of Geese layout auditions.....
Always amazing when I stick to The Plan! I usually treat it like a sticky note that gets peeled off and thrown away. lol  Anyway, there would be lots of background fabric to quilt later, but hey, I can probably cross that bridge when necessary. No sense worrying about the stitching pattern until later!
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