Thursday, February 28, 2008

From Spam to Ham

I received a ham in the mail yesterday. No, I am not talking about a part of a pig (although the shape is the same - hence the name) but rather about a tailor's ham. For many years clothes makers have made use of this valuable tool for pressing curved seams such as armholes during garment construction. It has been years since I have actually seen one and I was cursing my lack during the sewing of my last few jackets. Several months ago I was in the quilt shop in Greybull Wyoming and I happened to ask the manager if she has seen a ham for sale from any of her suppliers. Her eyes got a far away look as she answered that she hadn't seen one since she was a child.
Fast forward to about a week ago when I received an email message from Betty S of Basin, Wyoming. It turns out Betty was in the store in Greybull the day I asked my question. Shortly thereafter she ended up traveling to Florida to take care of her elderly father who has been having some health problems. It seems she has been amusing herself by taking in the local flea market on weekends and had come across several used tailor's hams at one of the booths. She was emailing me to ask if I was still looking for one. I said "yes" so she picked one up for $2 last Saturday, put it in the mail and I had it by yesterday! Don't you just love random acts of kindness?
It is feeling like spring here this week. Every day has been in the 50's and the national news this morning reported that we were warmer than most of Florida! I have been seeing bunny nests everywhere. I hope they aren't getting duped into having their young too early only to have a return of winter in a week or two.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The Chronicles of Norton

Once again I am asking a piece I made to do double duty. The Fast Friday Fabric Challenge topic this week is "Spam". The Illustration Friday topic is "Multiple". If there is one thing I have multiples of it is spam so I decided to combine the two into the above 32" x 22" quilt titled "The Chronicles of Norton".
The words on the bottom read as follows:
"Welcome to a brief glimpse into the Chronicles of Norton. On his home planet of Earth he is just another mild mannered geek...But once in cyber space he is transformed into Spam Buster, a modern day superhero sworn to protect computer users everywhere from villains such as The Stretcher, Hot Russian Babe, The Fraud Squad and many, many more!"
This piece was almost too fun to make. There are a few things I would do differently next time but I tried out at least two new techniques I have been wanting to use so I am calling it a success.
Ken thinks I am nuts. He loved the background when I finished it and really wanted me to turn it into a landscape instead of a cartoon. I had to convince him it is only fabric and I can make another background just like it (although I probably never will!)

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Home Again

The week since I last posted has been an interesting one. Rather than floating by like a lazy river, it has been an exciting ride, punctuated by one memorable event after another.

On Wednesday Ken and I drove to Jackson Hole to spend four days working hard at getting our Wilderness First Responder Recertification. The recert actually started Thursday evening so we had all day Thursday to ski the big hill. I love that place. It is one of the few ski hills I enjoy skiing almost as much as back-country. The slopes are challenging and huge and you can exhaust yourself by the end of the day without even trying too hard. Somehow we got talked into participating in the Valentine's Day Couple's Slalom Race. We were the oldest couple in the race by about 20 years but it really didn't matter. The course was set up as part slalom, part obstacle: we had to ski a little, stop and grab a Valentine from a cooler, ski some more, stop and throw three rings onto a pole, grab another Valentine, ski to the end, remove our gear, grab another Valentine and run hand in hand through the heart-decorated arch. Corny? You bet! Ken and I watched some of the other couples participating and Ken came up with a detailed strategy about how we needed to throw the rings to gain the most points. I was given specific instructions about where to stand, how hard to throw, how to hold my poles and gloves, etc. Then it was our turn. We took off like bullets (okay, slow bullets) through the starting gate. I could see Ken out of the corner of my eye as he navigated each gate in the slalom and I prayed I wouldn't wipe out and embarass us both. We got to the ring toss and stood back to back, each with 3 rings in hand. I threw my first one - bullseye! The second - another bullseye! Then the third - unbelievably another bullseye! I was psyched! Then I turned back to the course and saw Ken's 3 rings spread all over the hill. So much for that strategy. We didn't win the race but we laughed so long and hard about our failure that it felt like a win just the same.

On Friday morning we entered the classroom with 25 other students (again we were the oldest by many years) and were immediately given our written exam. I have been studying diligently for the last couple of months so wasn't too worried. A passing grade for the exam is 80% and about half the class ended up having to take a second exam at the end of the course to bring up their grades. Lucky for me I did well on the first one so didn't have that added stress to deal with. The next 3 days were intense lectures and lots of outdoor scenarios. I am always amazed at how quickly you forget this is all practice and really get into the role of trying to save someone's life. We were staying at the Teton Science School Jackson Campus and that is where all the classes were held. Time becomes very distorted when you spend all your waking hours going from one adrenelin rush to the next. I could not have told you what day or time it was on any of the days we were there. I could have been there for an hour or a year and I wouldn't have been surprised.

Once everything was over on Sunday afternoon we jumped in the car for the 7 hour drive home. We arrived close to midnight so just checked the phone messages and headed to bed. I was delighted to have a message saying I had won the raffle put on by the Cody Humane Society. I bought 6 tickets a couple of weeks ago but didn't even pay attention to when the drawing was because I never win these things. I won a huge basket filled with several hundred dollars worth of outdoor gear including a new GPS and a bunch of other fun stuff. I plan to pick it up this afternoon in Cody.

Then, Monday morning, I started looking through the 200 emails that had accumulated while we were gone. More joy and excitement as I discovered my "Elvis Lives" quilt had taken first place in the Big Horn Quilts Elvis Challenge. It is a $600 purchase prize so I am very excited to be the winner!
Another email was from Betty Blais of Embellishment Village and author of "Amazing Angelina". She wanted permission to include photos of two of my quilts in her new book on Angelina. Of course I said "yes"!
Not all the emails were good news. I also learned the mother of a good friend had passed away unexpectedly over the weekend. My heart aches for Jeanne and her family and I will keep them all in my prayers.
Ken barely had time to unpack his suitcase and pack another and he is now headed for Cincinnati for a few days. I hope I can get caught up on all the things that piled up while we were gone before he returns. This Friday is another Fast Friday Fabric Challenge already so there is that to look forward to as well.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Catching Up

I have been terrible about posting to my blog since Christmas. It is not that I have nothing going on in my life - au contraire - I have been so busy that I don't know where to start. The longer I go without posting, the further behind I feel I am and then I put it off for even longer. I think the only way to get back on track is just to start from point 0 - today.

I will briefly mention a few of the things that have happened in the last six weeks or so:
* My Mom and Dad were here for Christmas. That was really nice even though the weather didn't always cooperate.
* Ken and I then traveled to California with my parents for the Rose Bowl Parade. Lots of fun and beautiful flowers.
* Shortly after returning home we packed up again and headed into Snow Lodge at Old Faithful for a few days of cross country skiing with some friends. Great comaraderie and wonderful wildlife viewing.
* I have been painting and sewing up a storm. Lots of "work-in-progress".
* I have enrolled in the NQA Certified Judge's Program. It is a lot of work and time and actually takes a couple years to get through all the requirements.
* We leave Wednesday for Jackson Hole where we will spend four intense days getting our Wilderness First Responder recertification.

I have been playing more with quilting cartoons and have developed a strip for a couple of guild newsletters titled "Around the Block". One of the strips was my contribution to Illustration Friday last week. I learned something while posting it on-line. I have had a couple comments from readers unable to read the words. I can understand as I can't read them myself from here. The problem seems to lie in the fact that I added the wording in Photoshop. For some reason that disabled the ability to "click and enlarge". I am not computer savvy enough to know how to fix it. I guess in the future I will just have to make sure to do my text by hand and not on the computer.
I know it is not at all the same to read the words after the fact but the story in the cartoon is this: Kat spends six months and hundreds of hours laboring away on a queen size quilt as a Christmas gift for her MIL. On Christmas Day she and her husband arrive at his mothers only to find that she had received a "beautiful bedspread" from her sister who had purchased the gift at Walmart. As a result, Kat's "homemade" gift was given to the family pet to be used as a doggie blanket. The sad thing is that I have heard similar stories in real life!

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Illustration Friday - Blanket

Blanket - That awful "B" word that every quilter dreads!

(Note - Disclaimer - Although the quilter and her husband are based on Ken and me, his mother in the cartoon is definitely not my MIL!)