Tag Archives: Cars

Hey – I Found My Stuff!

Miss G, who incidentally happens to be somewhere in the neighborhood of 92 to 96 years young – depending on who’s asking –  has long enjoyed going to estate sales and auctions.  When it comes to hauling her loot home, Miss G gets it there by way of her Fire Engine Red Dodge Ram pickup truck.  She drives it well enough while peeping over the top of the steering wheel (Miss G is five foot nothing, after all), and she does drive it straight as an arrow, if really, really, really slowly.

Coming from a generation that shies away from throwing things out, she sorts through her purchases, then tries to find suitable homes for the items she doesn’t need or can’t use.

Over the last several months, Miss G has decided that I was the candidate mostly likely to use some of the goodies that she’s been saving up from sales: all things quilt related plus sundry items she thought might interest me.

Cereal box templates that were shared between quilters and sent via the US Postal Service.  When could a person mail a letter for three pennies?  The answer is anytime between 1851 and 1958 – but judging by what was stamped on the envelope above, 1940 would be today’s correct answer.

There’s even a wee treasure, a 2½”x4¼” envelope in beautiful condition that’s chock full of Peter Pan fabric samples – colors that go by the names of Copen, Orchid, Canary, Cameo and Coral Bell.

There also seem to be enough pre-cut fabrics ready to be rocked into a Dresden Plate quilt.

Scads of patterns cut from newspapers and magazines, yards of vintage 1920s fabrics (about 90 years old!), with all of the motifs for an Oriental Poppy quilt cut out and many already basted.  You can see in the photo below that even the original pattern has been preserved.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

And then there are the orphan blocks.  Lots and lots of orphan blocks.  I’ve got a stack of Nine-Patch, a veritable tower of Improved Nine-Patch, blocks that I don’t recognize and haven’t identified yet, and so many hours went into making these blocks – they were all hand pieced, the stitches small and even.  So how can I ignore them?  Can I leave them to languish in bins and boxes?  Or should I simply pass them along to another quilter?  The answer to all of the above is, I can’t.

Stacks of orphan blocks

Whaddaya Mean You Didn’t Use Templates?

To kick off my latest personal challenge, I’ve made a quilt out of a few of the orphan blocks.  The maker of these particular blocks knew how to stitch, but was maybe new-ish to quilting.  She or he didn’t bother to use a template, and as a result, few of the circles were actually… um, how will I phrase this nicely?  Circular.  When assembled, there was only one block that was within miles of being circular.

Not a problem – a few down and dirty stitches embroidered onto the top to give the impression of circularity, and “hey presto!”, a primitive style little quilt.  A phrase springs to mind, one I heard while watching White Men Can’t Jump when I was binding the quilt, and when I heard it I barked with shocked delight.  “You can throw a cat in the oven, but that don’t make it a biscuit.”  So here’s a photo of my Biscuit Quilt – it’s not symmetrical, it’s not traditional, but it’s a quilt.

The finished size of the Biscuit Quilt is 45″x54″ (114x137cms).

Biscuit Quilt made from orphan blocks by JoT in 2014

I’m Really Not Changing Horses In Mid-Gallop

Miss G didn’t limit herself to traditional quilting fabrics when she was piling up treasure for me – she also included vintage fabrics from the Key West Hand Print Fabric Shop that began operation about 1960 (think Early Jet Set Chic).  For today’s bonus round of fabric trivia, you should know that the Queen of Prep, Lily Pulitzer Rousseau, had many of her fabrics designed and printed at Key West Hand Print Fabrics.

Just for grins – a short history of the shop can be found here, a pictorial history of the shop is here, and an overview of Lily Pulitzer Rousseau’s link to KWHPF is here.

I am completely open to suggestions when it comes to these fabrics – I think that they will be my biggest challenge to date… smiling pink monkeys kind of creep me out.

Thanks Miss G.  You are a pip!

Key West Hand Print Fabric Leaflet

Key West Hand Print Fabric Cutting Room Floor

Key West Hand Print Fabrics

 

How To Self-Destruct Your Internet Business: or whatever happened to good salesmanship?

There’s been an awful lot of silence on this blog lately.  One might say there’s been a void-like quiet.  On this side of the computer screen, however, there’s been a fair amount of squawking, and at times, screeching going on.

I’ve been looking for a new car, and I’ve been all over the board in choosing the one that I could drive home.  It needed to be:

Fun to drive…

jeep1And it needed to have something of the workhorse about it…

gmcBut with a responsible outlook on fuel economy…

fiatMost importantly, it had to fit within a somewhat austere budget…

donkey

And So The Search Was On

I live in an area that could be described as a geographical oddity – it’s approximately an hour’s drive from anywhere, in any direction.  Because of that one little detail, I was very interested in utilizing the internet: first to do my homework, and then to narrow my choices to a particular vehicle at a particular price point before I invested the time and fuel to drive to a brick and mortar dealership.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but the last time I looked, we are indeed living in the 21st century; and the internet – and internet marketing – has been around for a year, or two, or twenty.  During that time, retailers have figured out a few things: that a large proportion of the buying public are inherently lazy, that they like shopping at all hours, and if you’re like me, you love shopping in your jammies.

Car dealers haven’t been slow to cash in on this type of marketing – do an internet search for any car and suddenly you’re bombarded by ads from the automotive industry.

Now, it’s my understanding that in parts of the good, old U.S. of A., car dealers have internet sales staff that actually use the internet as a tool in the negotiation and purchasing process.  Somehow, this information has been withheld or perhaps ignored by the internet sales force at new car dealerships in Texoma – a good sized area that encompasses southern Oklahoma and northern Texas.  Time apparently stands still in Texoma.  Here you’ll find mind-sets unchanged since the dawn of automotive history.

Another oddity – truly amazing.

Here’s my definition of frustration… you send off an inquiry to a dealership in regards to a particular vehicle.  Questions you might expect to ask, and the answers you’re likely to receive:

Q: Is this vehicle still in stock?

A: What’s your zip code?

Q: Do you have a similar vehicle with 4-wheel drive?

A: What’s your phone number?

Q: I see that you only have the MSRP online.  What’s the sale price of this vehicle?

A: What color do you want?

Q: Are you open for business today?

A: Come on in and test drive!  (Silly me – an hour’s drive later I found out it actually wasn’t.)

Never Say Die

It’s incredible that so many dinosaurs (of both sexes) continue to survive, and that they insist on clutching old school sales techniques to their respective bosoms with a death-grip.

But these kinds of responses made narrowing my options easier in some ways.

For instance, at one point in the purchasing process, the owner and general manager (of a dealership that shall remain nameless) sent an inquiry regarding my experience with his internet sales staff.  I made the honest mistake of leaving customer feedback.  Imagine my surprise when that information was turned over to his internet sales manager and I received a response that looked a lot like the opening salvo of a pissing contest.  My reaction to these so-called sales techniques?

Imagine me in front of my computer, innocently reading email… when suddenly my head exploded.  Another new car dealer was scratched off my list.

Car buying on the internet has been an educational experience.  I’ve tucked away some good information for the next time – and there will be a next time – but I’ll be better prepared and better armed.  For now, let’s just say that I finally found the one – color the crazy woman happy.

juke

Froggy Went A-Courtin’

I’m in the mood this evening for old folk songs.

I like to say that I grew up in a car, and that’s really not very far from the truth.  My family crisscrossed the American southwest when I was young and we nearly always went by car.  My very first memory of a car was our family Nash Rambler.

Over the years, as both our family and the concept of American transportation changed, the family “beater” changed with us; we eventually graduated to a full-size Country Squire station wagon.  But before we acquired that behemoth, I can remember times when my sisters would stuff me up into the rear deck of the sedan so they could ride more comfortably in the back seat.  (Note: seat belts were not in common use at this time)

In those days AM radio was king.  This was long before the FM band came standard in a car, and the music and chatter would fade in and out as you traveled along the highways.  After sunset was the best.  It was then when many of the AM stations would boost their signals and you’d be able to hold a station far into the night.

SaucierOccasionally there would be times when we couldn’t find a station at all.  At these times my dad would chime in, keeping all of us kids quiet by singing old folk songs in a very acceptable baritone.  Froggy Went A-Courtin’ was definitely the front runner, with The Crawdad Song and Bill Grogan’s Goat finishing in the money.

Personally, I always favored the latter (nothing like a little blood and gore to get, and keep, a child’s attention).

I don’t know why I started thinking about those songs tonight.  All I really wanted to do here was to let you know that I’ve got the final part of Henrietta’s Story posted.  I won’t say that this is the last of Aunt Hattie’s stories, new items turn up from time to time, plus I’m constantly surprised by things that I’ve squirreled away and forgotten.  For now at least, you can find the latest segment here, Henrietta’s Story: Part Three.

Block Thirteen: Everybody’s Favorite

Still motoring along with Barbara Brackman on her 49 week quilt block project.

Some weeks the quilt patterns give a really smooth ride – interesting and challenging.  Other weeks I’ve felt like a participant in a demolition derby.  Y-seams and hand applique´… (sigh)

English: Competition at the West End Fair Demo...

Competition at the West End Fair Demolition Derby, Gilbert, Pennsylvania. Photograph by Bill Lowenburg.

Knowing that the upcoming block was the 13th in the series, I anticipated some kind of new and inventive vexation – not that I’m superstitious in the least.

After filling up with high-test caffeine on Saturday morning, I strapped on a virtual crash helmet, cranked up the computer, idled over to Barbara’s blog, and… butter my buns and call me a biscuit!  To my delight, Saturday’s block was more along the lines of driving a tricked out 1970 black over yellow El Camino SS454 with a 4-speed box – fast and fun.

Barbara Brackman Grandmother's Choice Block 13

Oh, Those Crazy Americans And Their Cars

September already.  The weather is finally starting to turn, and like a lot of Septembers, I have a tendency to take a Sunday kind of drive down memory lane thinking about summers from the past.

I remember the summer my father died.  So many firsts during that long summer that I moved to Missouri.  The very first ‘first’, was when I inadvertently declared my independence by lighting a cigarette in front of  the family after the funeral.  ‘Nuff of that.

My first job.

My first car.

My ’60 Starliner was white on white with a Y-block V8.  It was long and it was wide and it could fly.  I proved that late one night trying to lose my first, but regretfully not my last, blind date.  Yeah, he really was that bad.  I finally shook him loose when I opened it up and ran that car nearly flat out on the Nebo Hills road.  I’ll swear that all four tires left the blacktop a few times.  I really miss those flat fins.

I bought my first stereo.  How many times did I listen to Joe Walsh on vinyl that summer?

I helped my sister stain the exterior of her house – one particular highlight was climbing down the ladder and stepping (barefoot of course) into a paint pan of red stain.  Sweet… one redwood colored foot.  That was a slapstick  first, and spending the first few weeks of summer not being able to wear my favorite pair of water buffaloes was another.

After a childhood spent outdoors year-round in the Southwest, I peeled for the first time in that Missouri humidity, just like a snake.  Nice.  So much for my carefully cultivated tan, for that summer at least.

Speaking of snakes, I had my first encounter with a copperhead that summer.  After an ineffective attempt to slice and dice it with a lawn mower, which by the way, merely managed to make it righteously pissed off, I dispatched it with a set of post-hole diggers.  Oh, and incidentally, another first – I learned how to tan snake skin.

That summer I read William Peter Blatty’s book, The Exorcist, and I recall one night spent babysitting my nieces and cleaning up after them.  I’ve never been sure if the cause was my first attempt at cooking an entire meal, or a 24-hour bug, but either way, the result was the girls doing their level best to outdo Regan from the book – whip-saw vomiting while still in bed – when one would leave off , the other would begin, then they’d start all over again.  A whole lot of bedding ended up being hosed down in the bathtub that night.

Thank you little baby Jesus they didn’t start spider walking.

Back then, the legal drinking age in the state of Kansas was eighteen.  It was a quick trip to cross the state line for a beer run.  Now I’m not saying that I was legal, but I was close, and that was the summer of my very first hangover.  On waking up the next morning chilled to the bone from the air conditioner, I decided that the only place to hide out and sleep it off was in the backseat of my brother-in-law’s Chevy.  Was it a ’56 or a ’57?  Whatever it was, it just felt so darned good to be finally warm.

I placed my first long distance call that summer.  One call to an ex-boyfriend out in Arizona who wanted me to come home for a Doobie Brothers concert.  I didn’t go home that summer, and I didn’t see the Doobie Brothers either

I did see Elton John in a fabulous concert at Arrowhead Stadium instead.  I went with a cousin who, I’m fairly certain, had been assigned the task of shepherding me that summer.  I don’t know how many times I was introduced to his friends as his fiance.  He eventually got over the embarrassment of having me tag along, and for the first time we became less like relatives – more like friends.

An odd first, nearly surreal, was the night I went to the Twin Drive-in and saw a double feature re-release of a couple of movies I’d never seen: Gone With The Wind and The Green Berets.  What were they thinking when they screened those two movies together?  I loved one, slept through most of the other.  You guess which.

I discovered In-A-Tub and the taste sensation of a taco salad topped with their proprietary blend of powdered cheese.  I know it sounds bad, but really, it was good.

One of my favorite memories of that summer was driving home from town with my sister in her ’73 Ford pickup (I believe it was Mill Valley Green).  We were talking about – oh, everything – and working around to a discussion of a neighbor who had been out to her house for a barbeque earlier that week.

The guy had the most incredibly, wonderful belly laugh.  He was one of those people who sincerely laughed, from way down deep inside.

We wondered: how did he do that?

The two of us ended up parked in the driveway, sitting there in the cab, trying so very hard to imitate his belly laugh…

Hah-hah-hah-hah-hah!

Wait, had anybody seen us?  Then completely cracking up over the craziness of the situation.  Our own laughter ringing out, loud and true, laughing for the joy of being silly together.

That summer began with a death in the family and by the time the summer ended I had a job, a car, a stereo, a worn out Joe Walsh LP, one slightly pink foot, a patchy tan, a much cherished snakeskin, and semi-permanent emotional scarring from reading one of the scariest books ever.

Some might describe that as a so-so summer, some might even consider it pretty tame, but to tell you the truth, it was one memorable summer – time spent in some great cars, having a few laughs, and making that first conscious move towards adulthood.