Monday, May 18, 2020

Embarrassingly brown thumb and a goat bedtime story...



I have to say that you're the most gracious, kind people on the planet!  

With much kindness and deep appreciation of your sincerity, I laughed so hard when I saw that some of you thought I actually grow produce right now!  Actually my husband was laughing harder, and I (acting like he had hurt my feelings), was nearly peeing my pants from laughing on the inside. 

I can grow blueberries, tons of them.  Too many years invested in their establishment.  We even have some pears and the occasional persimmon, if the deer don't get them...or hobo goats.


If you are near, COME PICK SOME in about 3 weeks!

I go and BUY three or four cases of greenish bananas on Wednesday mornings to donate to the Food bank.  That's what we are spending that government check on until/if Steve is laid off and we need it.

My father had established a practically deer-proof garden plot years ago.  It was for vegetables, constructed using tall dog kennel panels.  He was a busy doctor, but still took time to grow squash, okra, and string beans.  He had a green thumb, but no time.  Those veg choices are hardy here, even with random care.

My grandparents had amazing gardens and orchards...they completely lived on the land (they also had a small herd of beef cows for some of their meat).  Granddaddy taught Vocational Agriculture at the local county high school.  

Their gardening magic didn't wear off on me, though I spent hours and hours helping them when visiting.  I helped weed, pick, peel, pare, snap, pickle, blanch, and freeze/can.  

I also learned how to sun dry apple slices on a scrap piece of corrugated barn roofing sheet metal on the bed of an old pick-up truck out back.  How about that.  (My Grandmother made the BEST hand pies from these, year round.)

Anyway, I wish I had a "before" picture of the enclosure.  I was really embarrassed of it's state of being...how many of us take pictures to intentionally share honest pictures of things that shame us?  Having a garden is not at the top of the to-do list.  And the wild stuff slowly continued to grow.

No matter how hard I work, it always seems like I am chasing something beyond my ability.  The enclosure is completely grown over with volunteer trees, large bushes, wild blackberry vines, huge thorn vines, honeysuckle, wild grapevine, etc.  Vines are even weaving in and out of the chain link panels.

On a side note, stop reading right now if you don't like a good hobo goat bedtime story from last June-July...


Hobo goats are one of the uninvited scourges of rural living.  There is a U-shaped end of our valley (with a sheer, rocky, 30-ft drop between our property and some goats).  That means, there are two 30-ft drops between us and neighbors "across the holler."

A big, bad Billy from "over thar" escaped with four nannies in tow. They actually went down the far side and up on this side.  I don't know how.



I saw the goats here off and on for almost two weeks before I decided they weren't leaving.  Of course Steve was up north with his dad for several weeks.  I put some poster signs out at the main road with my phone number.  They obviously felt at home despite my metal pot and spoon.

A neighbor (of a girlfriend, of a sister, of a guy's sister-in-law) saw the poster and called the "owner," Mike.  After a week of the goats missing, he had figured a wolf or a bob cat had gotten to them and he had stopped looking.

Even though we are close "as the crow flies," by pick-up truck it is a little of a drive.  I don't think it occurred to him that Billy would lead his harem over to our side of the mountain.

Meanwhile, those darn walking garbage disposals ate pears, little apples, persimmons, and iris blades.  They broke off both of the little apple trees, AT THE TRUNK.  They also broke most of the limbs on the larger apple, broke the trunk of a crepe myrtle I had been nursing, and did damage to the pear and persimmon trees, breaking bottom limbs getting the upper fruit.  

Billy was a big, tall, old fool.  He knocked fruit off the trees for his four girlfriends.

We had a few, poorly-producing blueberry bushes that my parents had planted twenty years ago.  They were planted too near the house before a surrounding tree canopy grew.  Those idiot hobos ate those struggling berry bushes to the ground.

Monday, May 11, 2020

"QUEEN MARY'S GARDEN" © 2019 continues - Blocks 12, 13, and 14


Well, I've made 91 masks to date for my family!  Now it is applique time.  I can really tell that I have not been on my sewing machine in a while.

Sew rusty!

But I did get some sewing time with my Featherweight while suffering through the mask making, which was loads of fun.  Those Singer work horses are so great at sewing through all the multi-layered fabric pleats on these Covid-19 masks.

I feel so helpless in this national/worldwide crisis.  Making the masks and donating cases of produce to our county food bank seem like a drop in the bucket compared to the sacrifices being made by so many health care workers and other essential employees.

I am grateful to all the people who are working in unsafe circumstances to provide grocery shopping, car gas, mail pick-up and delivery, prescription services, electricity/water flow, management of public safety and fire, internet teaching of children, checking on neighbors, and rolling, packing, shipping, and delivering toilet paper.  THANK YOU!!  

I just realized there is a huge Scott paper plant five miles to our west in Barton, Alabama.  I think they make toilet paper at that facility.  We still have a hard time finding fanny ribbon around here and may have to resort to "stormin' the castle" down there if we get desperate, LOL!

I go out about once every 7 days for supplies...usually Wednesdays when I deliver produce to the food bank.  I try to do all errands in that one trip to town.

I missed mentioning lots of other helpful folks in my community.  It is remarkable how many people we rely on for our everyday level of comfort and support...it embarrasses me that at my age I'm just now figuring this out.

It's an ugly span in history, so today I am sticking my head into pretty sand and sharing some more of my plans of a flower garden I am planting for Queen Mary.

If you are a lover and/or a reader of history, you've probably found that stupid humans don't learn from the past and are doomed to make the same dumb mistakes over and over.  If history is scrubbed from school curricula and textbooks, we are screwed as a species.

I am finding this is definitely true as I read about Mary Queen of Scots.  Discord is caused by differences of opinion/belief and the fear of being forced to live by those "other" beliefs.

Then there is the additional problem of fear of the "other" leading to the need to vanquish that "other."

This scenario is a basic human flaw ad nauseum throughout our history.  Even if 99% of a population decides to live and govern with tolerance, acceptance, and trust, it just takes one dumb jerk to speak out against the "other" to raise the fear factor and screw things up royally (you know who you are, English men that lived in the 1550's).

OK, enter the royals.  At the time of the birth of Mary Queen of Scots, there was a great Protestant movement (John Knox and Calvinism) in England.  England had been Catholic until the current king, Henry the VIII, was looking for a way to ditch wives without having them beheaded.  This move to Protestantism was in discord with the Catholic neighbors, France and Scotland.  

Scotland was an independent country at this time, not ruled by England. The three countries had lived in a precarious accord for a long time...meanwhile, important marriages were being arranged among the ruling families of all three countries to maintain peace, and in most cases, float a false sense of security and safety.

Mary as a toddler, already in the French royal nursery.

The similarity of the names and the tangled web of advantageous marriages among the royal and noble families between the three countries makes understanding what was going on at the time nearly impossible.

There were too many little royal/noble children predominantly named Catherine, Anne, James, Henry, Mary, Edward, Elizabeth, Francis, and Charles.  Very confusing, even when actually studying the charts of lines of succession.

England and Scotland even had a "King James" of some number on the throne in both countries, at the same time.

It was advantageous, in their planning at the time, to have these woven, international, marital unions for state stability.  BUT, once a conflict gets sparked by one little insult or false move, it became a regional problem, not just a situation between two countries.

While squabbling, distracted regions become vulnerable to outside interest/attack...and thus the cycle continues.  Yawn.  Dumb humans.

Mary was born as her father, King James V of Scotland, died suddenly (some say mysteriously) at age thirty.  She essentially became "queen" of Scotland when six days old.  Shortly after, she was crowned Queen of Scotland at nine months of age.  After much ado, her mother, Marie de Guise, became Regent of Scotland and ruled until the day Mary was old enough to take the throne.

Mary's mother of French descent, Marie de Guise.

It was hard for Mary and her mother to be apart.  Marie de Guise needed to stay in Scotland, as there was religious/political turmoil encouraged by the Protestant, John Knox and followers.  Letters have been found between the two women that are sweet and painful.  It was a hardship, especially for Marie to live through the separation.  

As a result of the conflict, Mary was banned from traveling through England to get to Scotland for visits.  It was dangerous for Mary to take a longer route to visit Scotland, even though she was essentially queen.

Also, Mary was to be groomed as the betrothed bride of France...she was to be fluent in French, finished, and encouraged not to speak her course-sounding Scottish brogue.  

This is when the "four Maries" came to her in France...these close young ladies/friends came from  Scotland and were sent to a convent for a period of time.  They learned to speak French and had the rough Scottish brogue smoothed.  Then, they joined Mary and learned fine embroidery from a certain Abbey where the sisters were the most proficient in the craft fine stitches.  They also learned proper lady-like horse riding, behavior of ladies in the French court, and shared palace secrets.  They became her life-long friends and inner circle until she died..

Previously, England and Scotland had entered a period of peace, proposed by Henry the VIII of England.  This agreement was never really finalized (religious tensions were building).  Some fighting continued between England and Scotland in a small part of Mary's homeland.  England had wanted Mary betrothed to King Henry's son and raised in London, as a Protestant.  Of course, this was worrisome to Scotland...and France.  An alignment with France, also Catholic, had been considered by Scotland as their only way to hold England off and protect Scotland's sovereignty.  

Marie de Guise's French family was very close to the royal family of France.  With a marital union, certainly the French would come to Scotland's aid.  After all, Mary would be queen in both Scotland and France.

She also had a third claim to a throne, in England, but we will get into that at another time.

Scotland's ties to France were strong; both nations were Catholic and Mary's mother and family were a bridge to French King and Queen. It was decided that Mary would indeed grow up in France in the royal nursery.  Her mother would stay in Scotland as the Regent, a place keeper of the throne for Mary.

This was a very happy time for little Mary.  The French court was brilliant and gay, she had lots of royal cousins, and learned languages, riding, embroidery, games, etc.  She was a favorite among her cousins as well as her French uncles, Marie's brothers, and the court.  This 'royal nursery' would travel around with the court to various homes of the crown.  Due to her intelligence and disposition (and young age), Mary's uncles would encourage her to speak out and have opinions.

She was betrothed and groomed to marry the Daulphin, Francis (son of the king).

Dauphin Francis, heir to the French throne.
He was two years younger than Mary and had been frail all of his young life.


When Mary was sixteen, she was married to Francis.  That would have made him fourteen.  Wow!


The first portrait at the top of the post depicts very well how young they were when they married.

Pictures of Mary and Francis, as they appeared in Manuscripts.


Usually a Dauphin would marry out of country, in the homeland of his betrothed.  As Mary had been raised in the French court, it was a huge celebration for the country to host the wedding.  The pomp and importance was increased due to the fact that she was already Queen of Scotland at this time (with her mother as Regent).  

It is noted that she "floated in white satin and lots of diamonds" on her wedding day, April 24, 1558 at the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.  She was sixteen years old.

Had enough history for this post?  Let's talk about applique.

My inspiration from the embroidered sampler for the next three blocks...


So in no particular order, this is "Sweetheart Carnation."


And "Chasselas Grape."


And finally, "Ruby Tulip."






I am still stewing over the proper setting and border(s) for this project!  I have narrowed down the options, but still pondering.  

Hmm...

I'm leaning toward no sashing, like the original tapestry, but maybe a little more distance between the blocks.  I always do my applique blocks with an over-sized background piece, so I do have a little wiggle room for my final decision.

Keep up the social distancing out there and stay safe!  Living out in the middle of nowhere, we unfortunately always do this.  It is nice to now have a name for our way of life, ha ha.

In stitches,
Teresa   :o)

Thursday, April 30, 2020

As if my days needed to be s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-d out anymore...



The slow boat from China finally got to the USA, so I have elastic!  I have managed to make a little dent in the spool since it arrived.

Each week seems like a month for me...anyone else?  It's not that I am bored.  There is certainly plenty to do.  I am stuck in slow motion and the earth seems to be spinning slower.  

Meh.



I even made a couple of science-ish masks for myself, LOL.  And, one with a dark blue background and a flowery print.  That is going to be the one I use when I mow all these acres every week!  Hopefully wearing it will help with dust and allergies...and be stylish at the same time.



I mailed out 72 of these yesterday to my extensive family.



I still have about 6 more to make in this round, then I can blog about Queen Mary for a while.  I have more blocks finished!



I have not bought novelty prints in a while, but I am finding that I wish a had bought more that a FQ with some of the ones I like the most.

(Wow!  I REALLY need to re-cover my pressing board...that is embarrassing!  I tried to cover up the the more disgusting areas, LOL.)

In stitches,
Teresa   :o)

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Leaving the 1600's for a crucial 21st century project...


How is everybody doing with social distancing and being under house arrest?

I decided to make some fabric masks for my daughter, her two roommates, and my beloved, feisty aunt. 

A little catch-up, then I will let you in on my mask journey!

My daughter and her two roommies are trapped in their apartment in Atlanta.  Riley is laid off, Katharina was working from home (now back at a law office), and Joe kept his chef job at a pizza place 4 nights a week, but currently acts as indoor host for pick up.

I worry about K and J going out to work and bringing virus home.  They have been taking turns going out and foraging for toilet paper and groceries, so basically once every three weeks.

I wanted Riley to just come home to Yeldell, but she wanted to stay with her buds.  They have been cooking together (and learning so much from each other, which is awesome!) and catching up with a lot of TV series/movies.  Then there's the online D & D with friends...NERDS!

I don't think they thought they would be doing social distancing and being so careful for so long.

I think Riley is afraid at this point she would come home and infect her old parents (65 and 59).

Protecting the roommates protects my daughter (and, I love her roommates!).

My Aunt Katrina is 91 and acts like 70 or less.  She drives, mows, does yard work, and she is used to getting out and going anywhere she wants (usually in her sporty little Mazda Miata). 

She is totally behaving herself, though.  She is my hero and my last "parent."  I love her so much, and I am so glad she's being a good girl.



So, I decided to make the masks with crazy, cheerful, novelty fabrics.  I went on Pinterest and found, and read, a few of the mask-making free tutorials.  The one I decided on required a main fabric and a coordinating strip.



Well, I forgot the first rule for tutorials, or really anything.

Don't cut out 60 sets of fabrics for projects/blocks without making one first.  It may be inaccurate or not be a good approach for you.

Trying to make the main part was not that bad, but then there were the short strips that were to go on the pleated edges (to be turned and flipped to the back while securing the elastic).

It looked like crap.  Layers were too thick for adding the strip and all top stitching was impossible.  I was even using my Featherweight, which can sew through a motor boat.

There had to be a better way.  I sort of came up with an easier way, but checked out Pinterest to see if anyone was doing it my way...not really.


I really enjoyed matching up scrappy strips with my larger rectangles.  It is always enjoyable to jump into a pile of really fun fabrics and match things up, thinking about the fabric theme and
personality of the recipient.


I went through all my little folded mask rectangles and removed the tucked-in coordinating strips.  I ended up with this pile, which isn't a bad thing.  I love scrappy projects.



Disaster number two.  I only had enough 1/8 or 1/4 elastic for a dozen masks.  I went on Amazon, JoAnn's, Michaels, Craft Direct, Nancy's Notions, Google...there was none anywhere in this country until the end of April (I ordered this 3 weeks ago).

Apparently in addition to not making enough PPE and ventilators in this country, we don't make elastic.  Mine is coming from China.  America's manufacturing is messed up!

Judging from the number of Etsy sellers offering masks and the stories/blog posts about volunteering to make masks, I can see why there is no elastic in the USA!  I wonder where they are getting their elastic?

I had also planned to make these for all my siblings and their families, planning two masks for each person (wash one, while wearing other).  They were also in sorted and labeled into piles, ready for a couple of good DVDs and a lot of chain piecing.

Anyway, I continued with my first dozen, three a piece, turning under the ends, marking and pinning the pleats, tucking in elastic, and top stitching the whole thing.  It worked pretty well!



I hope I get faster with the remaining four dozen, LOL!



Voila!

Stay safe!

In stitches, Teresa   :o)

Sunday, March 22, 2020

"QUEEN MARY'S GARDEN" - fake names and false claims...BLOCKS 8, 9, 10, 11


Yes!  More blocks for "Queen Mary's Garden."  It has been fun cranking up the brain and thinking about all this again.  It's amazing what the brain can do during long car trips.

I mean, we are all on some degree of house arrest with this horrible Covid 19 virus.  It gives me an excuse to ponder the important things in life...

...like, what the heck is up with the flora nomenclature of this early 17th century stitchery?!?



I look through the motifs above and there are definitely things I recognize, like tulips, daisies, lilies, and pears.  But then there are some completely wacko items.

I read that even though the "Herbals" were being illustrated and published at the end of the 1500's, early entries weren't in color and perhaps not quite true representations of shapes and attributes.

Then, of course, the man whose job it was to draw the thin, black outlines on the canvases for Mary, et.al. might not have been completely accurate in his interpretation.  There were men like this working with circles of royalty and noblewomen all over England and Europe, and they had their own discerning eyes and imagination as well.  

The following is what Mary and her merry stitching group had to work with (the heavy lines are already covered/outline-stitched in black, thinner ones are inked and ready to stitch).



It was probably just like getting a coloring book and a 64-count box of unused Crayola's (with a sharpener)!  Yahoo - lets make up some flowers!

And certainly Queen Mary, her close ladies of the Court, and attendants were not familiar with many of the flowers depicted on the waste cloth.  The herbalists sketched plants and flowers from many places, not just Scotland.

When they tent-stitched the flowers, more often than not they picked colored silks that they liked or what would fit well with colors nearby, not what actually appeared in nature.  And the blooms with which they weren't familiar just gave them more license to use any color desired.

Well, I thought that I would be really smart and try to identify all the fruits and flowers and get the colors as accurate as possible.  Well, you can guess how that went.

Inspiration for these four blocks...



I had no idea about this first one.  I looked online trying to find out what it was and failed.  Then, of course, being frustrated, I changed the color to something I really liked to make me feel better and made up a name (blue is my favorite color - not enough blue flowers in nature).  Ha ha.







So, the Genie is out of the bottle, my friends.  I felt free/justified to just start making things up...even names.  I decided that even though there aren't tiny leaves drawn at the base of every bud, I would name it with a real flower's nickname, hoping that the bud looks like this?  Absolutely crazy.

I call that block "Baby Blue Eyes."

I was really close on naming the next one; blossoms were right,  but then the leaves didn't match up.  Oh well.  I'm still calling it "Marguerite Daisy."





Then heck, I thought I recognized pears (although the ones on this stitchery looked a little too much like boobs).  I redesigned the pears, brightened up the drab colors with unnatural blue blossoms, and noticed, again, the leaves weren't correct.

This is "Concorde Pear."










So now I just don't care.  In Michigan I had some little dwarf lilies like the next one, but my leaves were blade-shaped.  Meh...I call it, "Little Dwarf Lily."







I did a great deal of "research" today (wink, wink), and I have come up with real names/varieties and nicknames or completely made-up nonsense.  Oh, it took thought...I had to pick names that would work in the early 1600's (no "Georgia Peaches").  I tried to pick varieties that grew in Scotland, Britain, France, Spain, or Italy...not easy to do since some motifs are tropical, and unspoiled shipping was impossible from tropical growing regions.

So now I finally have 49 names, some complete CRAP, but it was a fun exercise either way.  I have gone back and named the other 7 blocks you've seen...enjoy the nonsense where it happens...it will most likely only increase from now on.

I'll never tell.

In Stitches,
Teresa   :o)

On a personal thread, it is good to be home.  Steve's Dad died, peacefully, nine days ago in PA.  Late Stage Parkinson's is supposed to feel like being in a body that is becoming evermore rigid and entrapped, and accelerating.  Swallowing became impossible, followed by the inability to get enough breath.  Every time I would come home to AL for a few days, I would return to PA only to notice faster decline, which was really a blessing at that point.  Thank God for morphine and the encompassing love of his three kids and spouses.

Getting ready for the auction, we found letters that had been saved (someday, our kids and grand kids will be presented with a flash drive containing our emails and passwords to our social media apps).  We all read letters on our "shifts" and re-told funny times we all shared.  Steve, David, and Sue saw a whole, beautiful side of their parents and grandparents they had never seen.  Everyone got to share everything they wanted to say.

I missed that with my parents.

Then the virus emerged.  I was supposed to drive from PA to Atlanta, picking up Steve from his pre-arranged flight, and we were to go our little actress daughter's opening of the play "Helvitica."

Well, he definitely wasn't going to fly, so we drove south together.  The show closed before it ever opened.  We were there on opening night, and they, quietly, did it for friends and family.  It was so good!  I feel so sad for them.  Somehow, they videoed it the next day to stream on UTUBE, with permission from writers, etc.  They all worked so hard, and this virus has hit a terrible blow to all small-venue arts all over this country.  Really, to everyone in ways we have not thought of yet.

AND she got laid off, of course from her barista job at an ultra fancy dessert/coffee establishment ($15 per slice or serving of dessert, then there's the coffee).  BUT, she is holed up with 2 roommates she loves, has provisions, and texted me today that 'she is constructing a new character for D and D gaming'.  NERD!!

Her roomie Joe still has his job at a pizza place, for pick up only, for now.  So, he brings home a pizza every now and then.  They try out recipes, hold Katarina's emotional-support-cat, watch movies, etc.  They understand how serious this all is...but they are just having a ball, in quarantine.  Depending on age group, everyone will have different memories/experiences from these terrible times.

Memorial Service will be postponed for a few months...will have to go back for our tool auction and house emptying, but everything is off for now, so who knows.

Be safe out there and just treat it like a sewing retreat.  If husband/family becomes a little much, just a fake cough or two...