Tag Archives: Donkeys

A Lot Of People Like Snow…

225bI find it to be an unnecessary freezing of water — Carl Reiner

Oh dear, it’s winter again.

So what do we do when a storm rolls through two days after Christmas with winds gusting 60-70 mph, leaving 3.5 inches of ice in it’s wake, knocking out all of the electrical sub-stations in our area, and leveling utility poles for miles?

Refugee out, because we knew it was going to be an uphill climb back to normal.  Eight days without power if you’re counting… and I was.

233bWe stuck it out at home for three days, and are old pros at making our coffee and meals in the fireplace.  But our water is supplied by a well – no electricity, no water – and we haven’t gotten around to adding a solar system to power the pump, so water soon became the real issue.

When it got to the point that we’d used up the emergency non-potable water, and found ourselves gazing longingly at the water troughs the donkeys use (and the occasional silly rabbit that quickly becomes a dead silly rabbit)… well, it was time to think about 4-wheeling out in search of more civilized living conditions.

220bWe did our best Grapes of Wrath imitation and loaded up clothing, bedding, incidentals, and all three dogs.  First stop was the vet’s office, and after some undignified begging – we weren’t the only homeless family that week – Big Jack, bigger Tank, and lil’ sister Tilly had a new home for the duration.

Then it was off to the hotel for us – land of temperature controlled rooms, running water, lights, and free breakfasts.  Best of all?  A flat screen television and an outlet to plug my sewing machine into.

You didn’t think that I’d leave my sewing machine at home, did you?  Did you, really?

234bAnd living in a hotel isn’t that bad.  All of our meals were eaten out; no cooking, no washing up.  No cleaning up after myself either, a maid came in every single day and tidied up after me – coooool.

Lots of cable channels to choose from, a generous block of time spent in my “sewing area” after work, but before the cocktail hour, and a pile of books received as Christmas gifts to help fill in the blank spots.  All in all, a fairly sweet deal.

227bNote to self: a hotel-sized mini microwave is too small for a standard size bag of microwave popcorn… the burned smell lingers.

There was also enough time to wander the halls in the hotel, snapping random phone pictures of the room numbers.

So… can you identify the international chain that we parked our big-old-fat-ones in?

One of my sisters also chipped in with some interim entertainment (I forgot to mention the free WiFi).  Louise had been rummaging through a cousin’s keepsake bin/box/trashcan, and turned up a treasure in the process.

A birth announcement for a 10# boy, born 5 May 1910, son of James Garfield Saucier (with a big assist from Ida Louise (Hoffmann) Saucier).  The postcard was addressed to Arthur Glauser, care of Judge Glauser.  Arthur was the husband of Julia (Hoffmann) Glauser, Ida’s older sister.  I haven’t been able to ferret out any information on Judge Glauser, but my bet would be that he was Arthur’s pappy.

As for the 10# baby boy?  That would be our dad, Leo James Saucier.  Thanks sis – you did great!

Still Life With Donkeys

Earlier today, my favorite SIL posed the question: What are you working on?

Honestly?  I’ve been having a love affair with 9-patches.  This weekend I put a check mark on a reproduction quilt top begun ten years ago.  I had the field of blocks complete, and the cheddar sashing mostly done, when I began cutting the wholecloth borders.  Then… full stop.

Now there’s this thing about the fabric I used in the border.  It’s kind of ugly.  But I kind of love it for all of its ugliness, and it was a millennium fabric done for Quilt For The Cure, so it was kind of like guilt free spending at the time.

Sort of.

I had long suspected that it was a reproduction fabric, and I’ve since found the likely source – the backing fabric used on a pineapple quilt, supposedly dating to 1876.  The website where I found the quilt listed is called 1stdibs; a site self-described as “the world’s leading online marketplace for the most beautiful things on earth.”  And the price tag for the quilt?  $4,995.00.

(yowza)

lady liberty 1876 1stdibs

Lady Liberty 1876 1stdibs

A little artistic license was used in recreating the Quilt For A Cure fabric.  We still have the beehive, cornucopia, and wheat – all symbols of prosperity and abundance – but the corn has gone AWOL.  Lady Liberty, her shield, and anchor remain, but Anno Domini and MM were added to the anchor… and that leads us right back to where we started: millennium fabric so ugly only I could love it.

Quilt For A Cure Millennium Fabric

Rewind to ten years ago: I botched the border cuts.  Devastated, I folded everything up – toe-tagged it, bagged it, and forgot about it.

Fast forward to early yesterday morning: I was flipping through an old quilt magazine (American Patchwork & Quilting – February 2005), when I stumbled across the pattern for the not-quite-forgotten quilt.  The pattern is called Civil War Soldier Patch, by Julie Bragg.  What originally caught my attention ten years ago, was that the quilt was based on the dimensions for a U.S. Sanitary Commission cot quilt.  During the Civil War, hospital quilts and blankets were made long and narrow to cover the body, but not drag on the floor, and that translates into a perfectly sized quilt for a couch potato like me.

Imagine this: any Saturday night, with something on TV that is probably too violent, too graphic, likely something by Quentin Tarantino.  The floor is littered with candy wrappers, spilled soda and popcorn.  But my nifty new quilt never has to brawl with movie night detritus, it hangs nicely above the muck.

And I remembered why I’d buried the quilt top – those pesky borders – but I gave myself a stern talking to.  “Get over it, it’s a utility quilt, get it done”, I told myself.  So back up on the design wall it went.

I thought that this morning I’d try snapping an interesting photo or six to share, but real life, in the form of my pair of donkeys, got in the way.  Some photos have just noses.  Some photos have just ears.  But most of the set-up shots have a stealth attack involving one or more donkeys.

Still Life With Donkeys

“Oh.  You wanted to take a photograph of that old thing?  Really?”  So I settled for a standard “let’s spread it out on the grass” shot , sans donkeys.  See the cotton field across the road?  A few more weeks and it’s picking time.

The soldier’s quilt finished at 54.5″ x 84″ (app. 138×213 cm).

Soldier's Quilt

Still Life With Donkey

I’ve also been playing with Miss G’s bag of orphan blocks, fifty two of which are 9-patches.  Let me tell you about those blocks – Miss G, being a housekeeper all her life couldn’t gift me with (probably) old and musty fabrics.  She laundered them all.  And yes, they frayed, but her heart was absolutely in the right place.

So after much blocking and pressing, I cut all fifty two blocks down to uneven 9-patches, and that’s when they began to take on a life of their own.  I decided that a riff on the Sister’s Choice block would be a good place to start, and I knew that I wanted to use two different blocks in the quilt.  But the second block eluded me…  time to go stash diving for inspiration.

When I surfaced, I had found four fabrics: a black gingham, plus three more fabrics that had been given to me (again, from my favorite SIL).  One was a red/white check that reminded me of growing up on the road, seeing the Purina logo on storage silos in the rural towns we passed through.  The second was a bit of gorgeousness: an entire vintage feedsack in blue with a ditzy fan and flower motif.  Lastly, a good green.  Love me some green in everything!

The gingham became points for the Sister’s Choice blocks.  The red check, blue feedsack, and that good green became Hens & Chicks.  The blocks finished at 14″, and the entire quilt top is 70″ (177.8 cm) square.

Twelve of Miss G’s orphan 9-patches down.  Forty to go.

Sister's Choice/Hens & Chicks

Sister's Choice & Hens & Chicks

Do You Ever Wonder Why?

Sitting here this morning, curiously wondering how some quilt blocks got their names.  Occasionally, the name suits the block and other times the name makes no sense whatever.  Ohio Cluster is the name of this block – the cluster part I get.  But Ohio?

According to folklore, the Ohio Cluster block was used by abolitionists as an indicator pointing north towards freedom on the Underground Railroad.  Note my use of the word, folklore.  Although there was certainly a network of routes and safe houses in place during the 19th century, many quilt historians and scholars of antebellum America have questioned whether quilt codes were fact or fiction.

Ohio Cluster Stitching Witches QAL FlickrWhat else am I working on besides the Stitching Witches QAL?  Later this week I plan on a run down to Houston for the International Quilt Festival.  In anticipation of being completely stoked about all things quilt related, I’m pre-cutting fabrics for a take along project.  I wanted something interesting, yet small-ish, so I decided to pick from my ‘gosh-I-really-need-to-do-this’ list; a semi-vintage pattern that was last published in the Kansas City Star in 1977.

Why semi-vintage?  Because I was around in 1977 – coincidentally, I was in Kansas City in 1977 – and if I dropped the ‘semi’ part, that would be conceding that I’m vintage, too.  As if.

Democratic Donkey

A Donkey pattern similar to this was published in the Kansas City Star newspaper in 1931. The pattern was published in response to requests for a pattern representative of the Democratic party, due to the upcoming 1932 presidential election. “Giddap, A Very Democratic Donkey” was designed by the Ladies’ Aid Society at the Sedalia, Missouri, Congregational Church. Kansas City Star patterns were syndicated in many other states, making the Donkey pattern available to many people. — Great Lakes Quilt Center, Michigan State University Museum

And in case you haven’t seen what we have lurking in our pasture… here are Pepper and Donkey Hotie (pronounced Don Quixote), the inspirations for my version of the “Giddap” quilt.

Donkey

Tumbleweed Or Russian Thistle?

Trust me, it’s not a “Ginger or Maryann?” kind of question.  There’s a third alternative, some folks just a stone’s throw south of us call them Texas Tribbles.

I’m a roaming cowboy riding all day long,
Tumbleweeds around me sing their lonely song.
Nights underneath the prairie moon,
I ride along and sing this tune.

In case you young’uns don’t recognize the lyrics, that’s the opening stanza from a Sons Of The Pioneers classic.

You may or may not recall a passing remark I made a few weeks ago about a fair breeze blowing and how it was a good opportunity to toss out a few tumbleweeds to let them move on down the road.  I think I also mentioned that as soon as the wind turned, they’d probably be back.

Well, the wind turned, and they’re back, and they brought friends.

When I went out to the truck this morning, I got the impression that all of the tumbleweeds in the county came over for a party last night, passed out, and never left.

We had 50 mph (80.47 kph) winds yesterday evening.  Not a hugely big wind, we see wind speeds like that on a regular basis – not bragging, it’s just a fact of life in this corner of Oklahoma (the land is very flat out here you know).  But I have to say that it was an odd, swirly kind of wind that caromed off the eaves of the roof, hooted down the chimney, and apparently made it easy for the tumbleweeds to go airborne.

Hotie & PepperThe donkeys don’t look too happy.  It could be because of all of the tumbleweeds cluttering up their pasture, or it could be they’re hoping that tonight is the night for a ration of sweet feed.  I know for a fact that there’s a fence lurking underneath all of the tumbleweeds piled up just behind them.

paddockIt doesn’t look too awfully bad in this photo, but maybe I’m just setting up for the big finish.

dogsntmbleweedsOur two yellow dogs trying to figure out what happened to the gate.  They used to be able to squeeze right through, but tumbleweeds are terribly prickly, and that makes the gate an uncomfortable proposition.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe boys finally got into the pasture, only to find themselves stymied once again.

weeorchard3Now I know that the last time I was out here there were a couple of peach trees.

[sigh]… Looks like we’ve got our work cut out for us.  There are far too many tumbleweeds to toss into the next high wind, so maybe I should change my name to woman-who-sets-fires?  And maybe that sounded too much like something from a bad Kevin Costner movie, so I’ll come up with an alternative… later.