Monday, September 29, 2008

THE WOMAN OF 1931


If you've been following the blog, you know that I am making a costume based on a McCall's pattern copyrighted in 1931.

Let me tell you about the woman for whom this pattern was designed. She's probably 5'7", long-waisted, flat-chested and painfully thin. Her hip and bust measurements vary little from her waist measurement. She has likely not borne a child. She looks just like the model on the pattern. (See entry Sept. 20)

So, it's not surprising that I – a person of 5'2" and matronly figure – am struggling to make this pattern work on my well-nourished, short frame. Let's just say it will be fine if I wear a binder instead of a bra, squeeze into a girdle, and lose 20 pounds. Modesty forbids my providing a photo of the initial fitting.

Hallie and Mike provided suggestions for altering the dress. They both thought an underarm panel might provide the necessary inches to get the bodice over my bosom. Try not to change the underarm, Hallie said, so you won't have to alter the sleeve. I tried, but unfortunately the relation of my bust to my underarm area made it necessary to add that inch and a half into the entire seam. The 1931 woman has no bosom and the one dart starting at the waist ends some place under her collarbone -- most strange. So, I also shortened the dart two inches which had a positive effect even though it didn't really provide more room. Having stitched the panel into place, I rejoiced that I was then able to ease the skirt onto the bodice.

Hallie hasn't had a lot of sewing experience so I'm always surprised at her understanding of alterations. I've been thinking today of a time when she was probably 16. I came home to find her sewing a new cover for the dog's pillow. She had driven to Jo-Ann's after school and bought fabric in an appropriate dark color. She ripped the zipper out of the old cover and sewed it into the new and she was just finishing the cover as I walked through the door. I was quietly amazed. Even though projects like that seem simple to others, I struggle over them. "Did you use the zipper foot?" I asked her as I examined what I knew to be her first zipper installation – and a darned good job it was. "There's a zipper foot?" was her reply. KW

Sunday, September 28, 2008

BERNINA CLASS #2



Thursday morning Mike and I systematically packed up the Dakota for the return to Clarkston. I packed the Bernina and accessories in her case and made sure she was loaded into the pick-up so that I would have her for the Bernina class on Saturday.

Friday morning we were up at 5:00 so that Mike could ride to Spokane for a motorcycle training session. And one of my first thoughts upon awakening was that I had left the sewing box I so carefully cleaned and repacked right there on the chest. Included in the box were sewing notions, fabrics, and projects for the Bernina class on Saturday. The most disappointing to me was that I had made quilt sandwiches out of some holiday placemats cut from a panel. My inclination was to get in the car and drive right back to the farm to retrieve the box. I decided instead to buy a little fabric and batting here in town and simply re-make a quilting sandwich. In terms of conserving gasoline, this was a wise decision. However, I spent $35.00 at Jo-Ann's.

The class at the Bernina shop went well. Only two of us students showed for this session which made it seem so much more relaxed. I had no complaints about the first class, but this second class was really fun. I think one of the purposes of the class is to make the new machine owner realize how much she is missing by not having various feet, clever machine accessories, and the expensive stitch regulator module.

This afternoon I began work on the frumpy frock, which doesn't fit. Tomorrow I'll experiment with some alterations. KW

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

VINTAGE DRESS



This week our stay at the farm is just a few short days. We've been busy. Mike lit the propane wall furnace (always a chore), closed the vents under the house, closed the attic window, put away the hammock, and studied the house to determine (unsuccessfully to present) how the wasps get in – fall chores in preparation for "Old Man Winter." We had our first fireplace fire of the season last night. Mike also hung a mirror that Ken and Ginny gave us in the sewing room (see photo). My Great-Grandfather Dickson made the chest of drawers for his daughter, Grandma Ina. I have carried it around with me since 1974. It has held my fabric and sewing supplies for years. In the photo you can see my blue sewing box. I've used it mainly for storage in recent years, so yesterday I cleaned it out and put current sewing supplies in it so that I can carry them back and forth between town and the farm. I bought grapes in the clear plastic box and it struck me it would be perfect for storage of my fat quarter stash – reduce, re-use, recycle.

Today I undertook to cut out the 1930's housecoat, an interesting experience. In 1931 the standard fabric width was 39 inches. In fact, I don't think it became 42 to 44 inches until the 1960s. And let me tell you, those extra inches of fabric were a godsend. The original diagram called for the skirt to be pieced at the hemline, and I was so glad I didn't have to do that! I was going to try the pattern on an old sheet, just to be sure I had made correct alterations, but I decided just to cut it out and hope for the best. I can always make a quilt if it doesn't work – right? – and buy more fabric on sale. In 1931, the seam allowance was 3/8 inch, so that means there's no seam allowance to let out at my hipline. I hope I added enough. The lady who originally used this pattern – perhaps in 1931 –made the short-sleeved version while I am making long sleeves. She did not cut the skirt facing, so I think she converted the dress to a shirtwaist rather than a coatdress. I believe she was a meticulous person who knew what she was doing. Perhaps she kept her carefully refolded patterns for years and years and finally they were sold when her estate was auctioned. Yes, I do believe she is gone now. She was an adult in 1931. Perhaps her collection of patterns fell to her daughter and were sold at her daughter's estate auction. Another interesting – and inconvenient – fact is that the cutting and stitching "charts" are on the pattern sheets and are rather sketchy. I was pleased that the pattern pieces are complete and in excellent condition.

We'll go back to town tomorrow and will be there at least until next Tuesday. Mike is going to participate in motorcycle training in Spokane, and I have a Bernina class on Saturday. KW

Monday, September 22, 2008

PITTSBURGH LANDING HUNTING/CAMPING TRIP


As Jackson and I had seen a few chukars on our backpacking trip from Pittsburgh Landing to Kirkwood Ranch I thought that would be a good place for an opening weekend hunt. So Ken and I headed out Friday morning and arrived a little before midday. It was very hot just as it was when Jack and I were there--100 degrees in the afternoon and still 90 at 6:00 pm. We tried scouting around some in the afternoon but it was just too hot, especially for the dogs. Swimming in the river was much nicer.

About 5:00 I decided to place a geocache while Ken fished for our supper. The spot I picked was only 1/3 mile from the parking lot but it necessitated an ascent of over 1,000 feet. It wasn’t too bad though, as it only took 35 minutes to get up there. It’s called simply Upper Pittsburgh Landing in case you want to look it up. Meanwhile Ken had a nice bass and trout for our supper.

We turned in after supper but it was too hot to sleep. At one point during the night I got up and just sat outside on the table enjoying the breeze. About 4:00 am the rain began and it really came down. Fortunately my reliable 40 year old blue canvas tent kept us nice and dry the whole trip. The rain eventually stopped but it threw us about an hour late in getting out to hunt.

The only birds we found were a very short ways from camp. They were running up the cliffs above us and the only way to make them fly was to shoot into them on the ground which I did. The shot at the one on the ground wasn’t a kill as is usually the case but one that flushed provided a shot as he was curving around the bluff. Unfortunately he just dropped one leg and fluttered on around the bluff out of sight. If it went down there was no way to know where. Pretty much the same scenario was repeated within 100 yards of the same spot. This time I killed the one on the ground as well as the one that flushed. The dogs each retrieved a bird so supper was assured. We hunted another couple of hours without so much as seeing a bird. Later in the afternoon we tried a spot a couple of miles down river because a camper said he had seen some huns in that area. We didn’t see a bird there either and as it was beginning to rain we headed back to camp.

The rain really set in so I rigged a tarp from the pickup to a bank and that served as our cooking and dining area. Ken served as chef and he did a good job on both the chukars and fish the night before. The rain had cooled things off so sleeping was much more comfortable but the rain really came down all night. It reminded me of a Scout trip with Milo into Moose creek. Except, unlike that trip, we stayed dry.

Fortunately, the rain stopped before daylight and I roused Ken out a little before 6:00 am. In the same spot as the previous morning we flushed a single chukar. However, he flew out from down below us and a boat moored across the river would have been right in the line of fire so we didn’t even shoot. That was the only bird we saw that morning. I’m afraid it’s going to be that kind of year.

The sun was out now so we broke camp about mid morning and headed back to town. In spite of the poor hunting we had a great time. However, if you seek seclusion, that’s not the place to be. The river was like highway 95 with all the jet boats and rafts.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

FUN WITH FAT QUARTERS


Two weeks ago, Hallie researched vintage fabric online and then shopped at Pacific Fabrics in Seattle for quilting “quarter flats” typical of that era. She made a selection which she purchased and mailed to me as a starter on my vintage fat quarter collection. “I’m sure that some (or a lot) of them missed the target era . . . it gets tricky when you definitely weren’t alive anywhere near the time,” she wrote. “I still thought they were fun.” And she wants to know what others think about them. I’ve shown them to several people and scanned them so that you can see them.

In the first picture, the red which predominates is not one of the samples Hallie sent. When I was at Jo-Ann’s last week, I decided to look over the fat quarters and see if any spoke to my memory, and the result was this red swatch. Yes, said Rosemary, the red reminded her of a flour sack design. You know, she added, some students came to school wearing dresses made of the flour sack fabric. And Mary Jane laughingly rejoined that “we knew who they were.” The other two florals in this set I immediately identified when I opened Hallie's packet as typical of what I remembered from the kitchen at the farm. Everyone seemed to agree on that, and Harriet said the top left reminded her of fabric at Bill’s mother’s house.

Everyone seemed to think the fabric designs were typical of the era in question. Harriet picked out the two "greenish" small prints on the left in this second photo and several more as typical. We spoke of several as reminding us of wallpaper, especially the blue in the middle on the right.


Just because a design didn't spark a memory didn't mean it wasn't a vintage design. We agreed they seemed typical.

And lastly, I opened out and scanned the pattern we all knew was the 1950s but a fun print.

"What will you do with them?" was asked with some skepticism, as if to be sure I knew they didn't all belong on the same quilt just because they might represent the same general era. "This is just the beginning of my stash," I say. KW

Saturday, September 20, 2008

FRUMPY FROCK UPDATE


I’m developing a program, “No Skimpy Christmas Here,” a one-woman presentation in which I portray my grandmother, Ina Dobson. I have one scheduled presentation -- in December, of course. With that in mind, I have been seeking a frumpy frock, a housedress or housecoat, that I could wear as a costume. My ideas as to that dress are fairly fixed, and I have looked through all current pattern publications for a suitable pattern or one that I could easily (emphasis on “easily”) modify. Failing that, I also searched the web and finally found the pattern shown on vintagecat.com, my favorite website for vintage patterns.

This pattern, published in 1931, is a size 16. The bust is supposed to be 34 and hip 37. A size 12 in today’s patterns lists bust 34 and hip 36. I haven’t taken my measurements in years – and a part of me just doesn’t want to know. The pattern pieces look good. I might have to copy or re-draw them to make alterations. I suppose I should treat the pattern with some deference since it’s truly antique. In teeny-weeny print on the back of the pattern envelope is this sentence: “This garment is fitted closely at the hip.” That’s the story of my life! Unfortunately my hips are not fitted closely to my waist, but I believe I still remember what I have to do to make a garment that fits. And I want a garment that’s somewhat ill-fitting – loose. I hope to make the dress less fitted through the waist and hips.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

HAVIN’ FUN



I was shopping for a jacket pattern at Jo-Ann's Fabrics the other day – a pattern suitable for some corduroy I bought 20 years ago. I discovered that Butterick has a selection of "retro" patterns, including retro coats / jackets. "Why not?" I said to myself, as I considered a jacket pattern marked "retro 1952." I retrieved the pattern from the drawer and did a double take on the price -- $16.50. I happen to be someone who remembers when patterns were $.35, so $16.50 seemed a little steep. As much as I wanted the gratification of instant purchase, on a whim I decided to check the sales flier. And there it was – a Thursday through Saturday sale on Butterick patterns -- $1.99 each.

"So," I asked the associate, "does this mean that on Thursday I could buy this pattern for $1.99."

"That's what it means," she said.

"Then I'll be back Thursday," I replied.

It didn't take me long to realize that I could buy 8 Butterick patterns on Thursday and still not exceed the regular price of that one pattern. After all, I am a hopeless pattern addict. And I have a new sewing machine and need to sew. So, during Monday Night Football I searched the Butterick website and made a list of patterns interesting to me – 8 in all. And today – Thursday – I showed up at Jo-Ann's, list in hand, to select and purchase my patterns. In the photo above you can see my choices. The fabric in the background I plan to use to make the jacket.

And – my sales receipt indicates I saved $105.58. I don't think Mike appreciates what a gem he has in me! If I'd bought more patterns, I would have saved even more money! KW

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

GOT ONE!


"Nothing in the traps again this morning," said Mike.

"I beg to differ," was Nellie's response. She focused on the trap next to her food dish, looking me square in the eye as if to say, "I'm telling you, you need to check this out."

"Okay, Nellie, I'll show you there's nothing in here," said Mike, carefully drawing the lid back while Nellie stood poised for a possible chase. "Oh!" laughed Mike, "she's right!"

That mouse was the only one we caught this week, but we left all three of our commercial traps in the kitchen / dining area when we left.

Here are a few photos for Nellie fans.


"They're packing up again. What if they don't take me?" (Taken last week.)


"I know I'm in the way, Kathy. But I'm just slightly irked that you're so slow in getting dinner tonight." (right)



"I'm waiting here under the pear tree to see if they invite me to go with them. I'm a little nervous about it." (Taken yesterday as we packed for the trip to town.) KW

Sunday, September 14, 2008

I MADE SOMETHING . . .

ON MAKING APPLESAUCE


I was "dialoguing" with Harriet (my oldest sister) last week, questioning her about the roadside apples -- the country apple trees. I wondered if I could use those apples.

Harriet wrote back that Bill's mother was interested in roadside apples and they would stop and check them out. Sometimes she would pick a sampling of apples from specific trees in order to test them. If the deer eat them, that's an initial sign they are good, Harriet said.

A tree on June's property, right in the bend from Dobson Road to our lane, has been calling my name. Prior to writing Harriet, I had picked a bucket of those apples and experimented with cooking them and then straining for the juice. I wasn't impressed. The apples were small, I tired of peeling them, and once I cored them there wasn't much left. I told Harriet about this experience. We didn't peel them, Harriet wrote back, going on to explain that they simply cut them up and cooked them -- peels, cores, and all. And then Bill's mother put them through a press. Harriet said she couldn't remember the name of the press, but Mother and Vance had one, too. Aha! The Food Foley! – I thought. Yes, the Foley food mill, affirmed Harriet. I knew right where that old Food Foley was and for once it was where I was!

So, late Wednesday afternoon Nellie and I went down the lane and I picked more apples while she rooted around for "grounders" she could munch. I don't know what kind of apples they are. They remind me of the apples on a vintage tablecloth – mostly yellow green but tinged with red or streaks of red -- very pretty in the afternoon light. Then I chopped them up like Harriet said and cooked them with just a half cup of water until they were mushy. Then I ran them through the Food Foley, a food mill that sieves the pulp from the peels and seeds. I poured the pulp back into the pot, added only a half cup of brown sugar and two teaspoons of cinnamon. Seven cups of lovely applesauce!

But – I wasn't raised this way. My mother made applesauce with "green transparent" apples, cooking apples – quite tart. I don't know if we see those much anymore. The apple tree in the side yard at the Orofino house had transparents, and I used to see them advertised by local valley growers. From those apples Mother would make applesauce and pies. And Mother believed in peeling the apples prior to cooking; she said she could tell if the apples hadn't been peeled – she could taste the peels. Well, my taster just isn't that discriminating, and besides, we all know the peels are good for us.

HOW ABOUT YOU? Do you like applesauce? Do you make applesauce? What's your favorite apple variety for cooking? Which variety is your favorite for eating? KW

Saturday, September 13, 2008

KATHY’S VINTAGE SEWING ROOM (2)



One picture is worth a thousand words," as they say, so here are pictures of Kathy's "new improved" vintage sewing room. Last month I bought a new Bernina sewing machine and am gradually acquainting myself with it. It doesn't quite fit in my old Singer cabinet, but I'm using it for now. Eventually I hope to have a table that better fits the Bernina. Then we might remove the table from the cabinet and just use it for fabric and notions storage. You can never have enough fabric storage.
My sewing room is adjacent to Hallie's room and they connect by a walk-through closet. It's interesting, though, that the two rooms have entirely different "affects," I guess you would call it. Hallie's room is always bright and cheery while the other room seems more shaded. Nevertheless, I have enjoyed outfitting the vintage sewing room, which has brought out its unique personality, and I also use Hallie's room. I'm quite at home in Hallie's room because it's the room that was mine when I was growing up.

Nothing great has come out of the vintage sewing room yet, but as you can see, my bulletin board is covered with inspiration gathered through the years. I find it's taking a lot of courage to get started on those projects. I put them off, thinking one day I would have the skills to do them beautifully, and now that it's time to plunge in, I'm learning what was always true – you just have to plunge in. And the process has brought me once again face to face with what is unfinished. Sometimes I can deal with it – and sometimes I just put the lid on the box and stash it back in the closet. For instance, yesterday I came up with a box containing many of my mother's sewing notions, including packages of pink pearls left over from my wedding dress. No, they don't take up much room, so I keep them.
We'll return to town on Monday. The old Dodge Ram is loaded with wood, so the sewing machine is going to stay here for "her" own protection – along with many other things. We'll have a good time anyway – don't worry!

[I took this picture of the south side of the house especially to show the second story windows. The window on the left is Hallie's room while the one on the right is the sewing room. The square window in the middle provides daylight -- or moonlight -- in the walk-through closet.] KW

Friday, September 12, 2008

A COUNTRY TALE


This morning started as any other. I got up and puttered around in my robe and slippers. Nellie heard me and came to the door to be let in. We greeted each other with affection. Mike got up, got dressed, and came down to the kitchen. His first task was to don his helmet and a pair of leather gloves and head to the shed to pull down a couple of wasp nests he had discovered there. He wanted to take care of that chore during the morning cool when the wasps are inactive. Then he returned to the kitchen to bake his oatmeal bran muffins, the first step being to pre-heat the oven. A couple of minutes passed, and he said, "What's that smell? It smells like bacon! And the oven's smoking!"

I couldn't remember that anything spilled in the oven. Finally, we were able to bring ourselves to open the door and look. And there, neatly arranged in the front of the oven, was a cup and a half – possibly more – of dog food slowly burning as the oven pre-heated. Well, I didn't put it there, and Mike says he didn't put it there, and we're sure Nellie didn't do it. So, the horrible thing is that we have another rodent invasion. As Mike says, "This means war!"

To deal with the matter at hand – cleaning the oven – I grabbed a pan and a spatula. The food had begun to burn but fortunately we caught it before it burned onto the oven. We then set the pan out on the porch. During the process, Nellie ambled into the kitchen to see what all the fuss was about. Eventually she requested permission to exit the house where she discovered the burned dog food cooling. She looked at it a while, then proceeded to eat every bite!

Nellie's food and water are kept in the kitchen, and she has some strange eating habits. At suppertime, she eats just a little, then waits until Mike and I have finished cooking, eating, and doing the dishes, hoping for better pickin's. She might eat more of her food but often leaves some in her dish. This practice of leaving food is now problematic and humans will have to step in to protect the kitchen.

Interesting, though – I found just one "mouse sign." And I've been a little worried about the mice because this is the time of year they begin to come in, and I have three boxes of pears ripening in the utility room. I found no sign of rodent activity there – or anywhere else, for that matter. KW

Thursday, September 11, 2008

MAKING WOOD


See the three dead trees in the middle of the picture? If you enlarge the view and look closely, you can make out Mike's white hardhat at the base of one of the trees. Although we have plenty of wood for this next year, Mike identified those as trees we should make into wood this year – while they were still good for wood, while we could still get them out of that area easily. Now is the window of opportunity for such activity – after harvest and before planting. Yesterday (Wednesday, Sept. 10) was the day. I don't have much to say about it. Mike did most of the work while I served as a rather bored assistant. My mind kept wandering away to the sewing room. Rather than cutting and splitting in the field, Mike preferred to take the wood to town in 8- and 4-foot lengths so that he can work on a little at a time. However, I was unable to assist in lifting those lengths of greater diameter, so those pieces were cut to our standard 16 inches. I guess it took us 4-5 hours – and that was the work of the day, though I did other chores: two loads of laundry, finished the pears, watered the raspberries, took Nellie for a walk, and made a crockpot supper of creamed chukar.

The garbanzo field on "June's" place was harvested yesterday. They used two older combines and two dump trucks -- not quite the same as Meacham Farms. The right photo is just beyond the pond while the left is just beyond our barn. KW

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

AUNT IDA LAMBERT

There are several "Aunt Idas" on my family tree, but Aunt Ida Lambert is on Mike's. In the 1970s and '80s, Aunt Ida was probably the oldest living member of Mike's family on the Warnock side. Mike thinks she was his Grandfather Warnock's cousin. Her maiden name was Warnock. When we visited Mike's mother in Arkansas, we called on Aunt Ida several times. The first visit was in her home; the second was at a nursing home. She was just as lucid and gracious when we saw her at the nursing home as she was on the previous visit. She lived into her 90s, I believe. When Mike explained to her that he was Bennie's son, Aunt Ida said, "And your birthday is January 23, 1941." She was locally famous for her facility to remember birthdays. Then Aunt Ida added, "That Bennie – she's ideal! She's ideal!" That was the first time I had ever heard the word "ideal" applied to a person.

I thought of Aunt Ida yesterday. Mike agreed to help me pick the pears, and in the process, he used several ladders. When he used the taller stepladder, I held it as he climbed to the top to get the uppermost fruit. Mike said, "If you want to continue to have a husband, hold tight to that ladder." That's when I thought of Aunt Ida.

In explaining her own history, Aunt Ida told us matter-of-factly about her first husband, a Lambert, who climbed a tree to "show out" for her and fell and broke his neck. It had to have been a horrible thing for her to witness, but she didn't so much as hesitate in the telling of it. She went on to tell us that after that she married his brother. I know she raised children, but neither of us remember whether she had any of her own.

A most interesting woman – was Aunt Ida Lambert. KW

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

WORK IN RETIREMENT



"We have a lot to do this week," Mike announced. "I guess we'll have to prioritize and pace ourselves."

Yeah – like that's going to happen, I think to myself. If there's a chore to be done, Mike doesn't rest until it's done. We arrived at the homestead at 11:00 yesterday, having already loaded the old beater and driven here – what some might consider almost a day's work -- and by lunchtime Mike had unloaded the truck, put away what he could, and inserted new ballasts into a window. After lunch he worked on the Wolverine, then planted the raspberries. The photo shows him digging a hole using the old auger, which we surmise could have been Grandpa Jack's. Late in the afternoon he took a rather short bike ride, then began erecting the utility shelving on the kitchen porch, a project he had to give up with the waning light. He grilled bass for supper, which was later than usual, before showering and watching the double-header Monday Night Football presentation (part of which he had recorded).

My new sewing machine, "Bernie," was calling my name, but I also had work to do. The box of pears was ripe and ready for the dryer, so as soon as I had put away the groceries, I began to pare and slice them. My dried pears have been lauded by samplers in Seattle and Denver, and word has reached me from Philadelphia that they were spoken of in Utah. This year I will keep drying them as long as the pears remain available and affordable. Of course, the pears are just naturally good, and I add no preservatives. Once the product comes out of the dryer, I put it in baggies for the freezer to insure against spoilage. I helped Mike plant the raspberries and walked with Nellie while he rode his bike, but aside from that, I spent the afternoon paring and slicing, just finishing at dinnertime.

Right after breakfast this morning, Mike returned to the porch to continue putting together the shelving unit. "Snaps together in minutes," says the caption on the box, "with only a hammer." Mike amends: "Snaps together in minutes – about 120 of them – with only a hammer, a screwdriver, a block of wood, and an assistant." I, the assistant, was out on the porch in my robe and pajamas.

But look at the change it makes in the mechanical room! (Sorry – I forgot to take a "before" picture. Too bad.) My main complaint had been that our work shoes and boots sat on the floor under the window, and last year my rubber boots rotted and split – I figure from the sunlight. The shelving brings the footware as well as rags and bags off the floor and out of direct sunlight. Much neater and handier.

"I'm so proud of you and Dad for staying busy," said Hallie. I'm just surprised it ever occurred to her that might be a problem. And the work goes on . . .

MOTHER OF ALL MOUNTAIN BIKE RIDES

I had seen a post on the bike club newsletter of an invitation to a mountain bike ride and barbeque in Pomeroy from an old friend of mine who I used to ride with when I worked over there. Mark owns the town grocery and several other related businesses. Every Wednesday after work four of us would alternate taking either road bike or mountain bike rides. Chris, a club member from Moscow, would come over and Steve, a banker who worked in Pomeroy on Wednesdays, would also join us. We had some great times. Seemed like a wonderful opportunity to relive some old memories. Mark advertised the ride as 35 miles with 3700 feet of climbing.

As it turned out the only ones to show besides me was Chris from Moscow (Steve is now in Boise) and the local physical therapist who works at the hospital/nursing home (my old employer). Mark and Steve are 20 years my junior and the PT is just 34.

I had forgotten how long and steep those Garfield County back roads are. Our first stop was about 14 ½ miles out at a little convenience store/campground in the Blues called The Last Resort. We would always stop here on our mountain bike rides for refreshments. We had already climbed two major grades with one nice descent to get there.

From there we had about 10 miles of gradual descent on pavement. After that the fun began. The Meringo grade is a killer – long, steep, gravel deeply wash boarded. At times I was going only 4 mph. There are several easier routes back to Mark’s and by the time I reached the top of the Meringo I had decided I was going to take one of them. And Chris who is a superb rider who has already logged well over 4,000 miles this year is the only one who was beating me up the hills. I expressed my intention when we eventually gathered at the top and invited the PT who was having to walk up parts of the hills to join me in an easier route back. He insisted he was ok so on we went. I decided I’d try one more grade, long but not so steep, and just skip the last major grade.

My shoulder was hurting, my back was hurting and my legs felt dead. Chris soon went ahead and Mark and I were plodding on with the PT out of sight behind. Eventually Mark stopped to wait on the PT and I went on to join Chris at the end of the road. From there I turned down hill for highway 12 and back into town to Mark’s. Eventually the PT called his wife to come get him and Mark and Chris each took different routes back, shorter but more difficult than the one I took. My odometer showed over 44 miles with over 4 hours in the saddle which I believe is the longest mountain bike ride I have ever ridden and I’m quite certain the toughest. I was even hurting going down hill. I can tell you, the shower and barbeque at Mark’s was like heaven. I was ok the next day but I took a day off from riding.

Monday, September 8, 2008

THE OLD BEATER


We keep an old beater pick-up – a powerful old Dodge that hauls wood, refuse, and oversized items, and big loads. If you have room to keep it out of sight, it's great to have such a vehicle.

The old beater has been in town since Mike and Ken went to get wood, but now we need to haul wood from the farm to town. So we decided to take advantage of the trip from town to the farm by loading the back end with lots of stuff. I have long wanted heavy-duty shelving in the mechanical room to better organize our stuff. Now was the time to buy the shelving unit and carry it to the farm. Ken had raspberry plants for us – a great time to haul those to the farm. Oh, and by the way, Ken asked, do you want these wire cages? Onto the truck go the wire cages. We're going to pick pears off the old pear tree, so the ladder is tied on top. Of course, there was lots of the usual stuff – food, sewing machine, laptop, and more than the usual project stuff because we had the room. By the time we arrived at the farm, we had also tied on logging cables borrowed from a neighbor. Nellie rode in the cab with us, starting out at my feet and ending up in my lap (of all places!)

When we drove into the farmyard, Mike said, "Made it!" with a heavy sigh. Yes, this old beater is nearly exhausted. About time for a "new" old beater.

I think we put in two days work today, but that's another blog. Mike is watching "Monday Night Football."


Sunday, September 7, 2008

BERNINA CLASS

If you like fabric, be sure to read Hallie's guest blog below.

Several weeks ago Mike and I went to the local Bernina shop and bought a new sewing machine. Yesterday I took the Machine Mastering 1 & 2 classes at the store. It was a great day. The instructor (Marjean) was good and the other participants were mostly of my generation and saying much the same thing: "I used to sew. I made doll clothes and my own clothes and clothes for my kids, but then life happened, I quit sewing, and now I want to make quilts and other pretty things." One woman said, "I wake up in the middle of the night thinking -- I'm 61 years old and I have a roomful of fabric. I've got to get going!" Each participant had a different model of machine, and I didn't envy the instructor her task of having to individualize instruction for each one of us. Fortunately, there were only five participants.

At the class we were introduced to some of the basic features of our machines. It also served to show us that we will need to invest in more feet (or is it "foots" in this case) for our machines in order to take advantage of some of these features. These computerized machines are wonderful. Tell it the stitch number you want to use and the foot number corresponding to that stitch appears on screen. Of course, if you're making a buttonhole, for instance, you know you need a buttonhole foot, but other stitch choices are less obvious. Of all the things I learned, I was especially impressed by the machine's ability to go through heavy denim (jeans) seams and also with the mending function. We were provided a CD ROM that includes the sewing applications we are being taught. A good idea, we all agreed, since repetition is important to the learning process.

I signed up for Machine Mastering 3 & 4 on September 27. At that class we'll learn some quilting applications, so I have to take a "quilting sandwich." I believe that's two 12" x 12" (specified size) fabric samples with batting between for the purpose of quilting practice. Since I didn't buy the embroidery module for this machine, the instructor said she would show me free motion quilting. Perhaps I should take several "sandwiches."

Bernina has developed pattern-making software, "My Line," that will be demonstrated at the store on Sunday, October 5. Cost: $499.00. You punch in your specific measurements and then the machine congers up a computer image of your form in bra and panties. We all laughed. It seems an expensive program, but the instructor said you can enter more than one person. One of the participants added that if you do sew for yourself, the program might be cost effective when you consider the cost of pattern alteration and making trial garments.

So, I look forward to getting back to my farmhouse sewing room and experimenting with the machine. What will I do first? I'm going to experiment with mending and hemming some of Mike's old jeans, and -- we'll just see. KW

Guest Blog: Fat Quarters

Today I went to Pacific Fabrics Outlet in the Sodo area of Seattle (this is just the other side of the West Seattle bridge). I thought that I might have access to a wider variety of fabrics and patterns than one might find in the LC Valley. I talked to Mom yesterday and she mentioned that she is in search of reproduction vintage prints from the '30s and '40s. To prepare for my trip to the store, I viewed a reproduction fabrics website so that I would have a good idea of what I was seeking (http://www.reproductionfabrics.com/). Aren't those old designs neat? I also enjoy vintage prints, so this trip was extra fun!

I've taken a photo of my selection of 13 fat quarters. It was easy to find floral prints that looked vintage. Mom wanted some prints with critters (dragon flies, frogs, turtles), but I was unsuccessful at finding prints that met that objective and and also fit with the vintage theme. I found some frogs but they were on flannel and I just wasn't wild about them so I passed.

I'm not sure which fat quarters are my favorites. I like the pick-up-sticks (bottom left) because they are so different from the floral patterns and I wanted variety. I was happy to find birds (bottom right) and at the top left, a sketch pattern that is probably more in the 50's - 60's era because it depicts a lady wearing pants, heels, and a scarf around her neck. Still, I thought it was a neat design even if you were to cut out the sketch flowers and exclude the lady. When it comes right down to it, I am fond of each selection for a different reason. They might not all work for Mom's projects, but I wanted to contribute to her inventory of fabrics. I think just having a variety of fabrics in your inventory helps stimulate ideas.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

BACK IN THE LAND OF PLENTY . . .

Here we are in the land of milk, eggs, and sewing notions. We packed up and drove back to town this morning. We had errands in Orofino. We stopped at the pump shop to return an unneeded part; problems with the pump were due to bugs in the circuit box. We delivered our garbage to the dump. And we stopped by Yamaha to discuss repairs to the Wolverine. Mike wistfully looked at a newer used Wolverine and commented that maybe he should sell ours and buy that one. At Peck we stopped for a geocache on Big Canyon Creek. The elderberries there were fully ripe but no, I didn't pick any. Blackberry bushes were plentiful but becoming "past." And I identified deadly nightshade in the area which should not be ingested.

So we have shopping and errands here in town that will keep us busy the next couple of days. Saturday I will be involved in an all-day "mastering" class at the Bernina shop to learn about my new machine. I'm so proud of myself for having learned to use the needle threader on my own. While I take the class, Mike is going to go mountain biking out of Pomeroy with friends.

We had been at the homestead for nearly two weeks. A friend picked up our mail for us here in town. You should have seen it – and most of it junk. Mike received an Idaho District Court summons for jury duty in Coeur d'Alene. He completed the questionnaire but hopes that our Washington residency will disqualify him. You'd think so, but it was addressed to him here at the Clarkston address. While he completed his questionnaire, I completed the one I received from The Vermont Country Store. They want to know why I don't order more often. Actually, I love their catalog and their philosophy, but the prices they want for stuff we used to buy at the five & dime! Still, they'll get me with a nostalgic color book.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

REMEMBERING ROSE & ART


Rose and Art Flint were friends of my Portfors grandparents. I think they met in Troy where both couples lived early in their marriages (1906 – 1910). Eventually they moved apart, but they remained good friends and visited in one another's homes.

Rose and Art had three children -- a daughter, Mary Catherine, and two sons. Mother had stories from her youth about the Flint family. My favorite was that Rose saved teacups with broken handles to throw at Art when she was mad at him. I've always marveled at that because I have no teacups with broken handles; do you? How far we have come!

I thought of Rose and Art the other day as I squared quilt blocks. One day when I was probably in junior high, Rose and Art came to see my mother. A broken-hearted Rose had with her several vintage quilts and quilt tops in various stages of completion. Now in her 80s, she knew she could not finish the quilts and her daughter and daughters-in-law had refused them – all of them. My sympathetic mother took them, of course, and she and Nina toyed with the idea of finishing them for years. Nina was particularly interested in the yo-yo quilt and would occasionally make yo-yos of the vintage fabric.

There was one – a postage stamp quilt – that just needed to be quilted. Mother said she would have to find a quilting bee to quilt it. "Why don't we just do it on the machine?" I asked. I was summarily advised that machine quilting was a no-no – that to be done properly, a quilt must be hand quilted on a frame by means of fine stitches and not just anyone could do it. It took special skill to be a hand quilter.

Eventually Mother found a quilting group that quilted the quilt for her – for a "pretty penny" even in that time – and Mother put it on the bed in my old room. I didn't like it. It was predominantly shades of orange and green and my room was white and pink. So, when Mother's collection of vintage quilts was divided, I chose the one with appliqu├ęd cats in baskets. I think it came from the Flint collection as well. "No telling some people's tastes," muttered Joni as she happily went off with the orange and green quilt.

And as we cleaned out Mother's house, we found that box of unfinished quilt tops. Now examining them closely, we saw how askew they were, and let them go. Oh the things you regret!

[The top photo shows the quilt top I am struggling to make. The good news is that as I worked to square the blocks the creative juices began to flow and I understood what I had to do. The second photo is the vintage "cats" quilt spread out on the bed in "Hallie's" room. The photo on the wall is Mike's Aunt Dola.] KW

Monday, September 1, 2008

LABOR DAY: THE OFFICIAL OPENING . . .

No doubt about the change of season that is upon us, at least no doubt in this particular spot. We arose this morning at 5:15 to a temperature of 46 with wind chill of 40. Mike and Nellie left before 6:00 for a dove hunting spot Mike had scouted out several days ago. "They'll be back soon," I thought to myself. Sure enough – they were back soon. Not enough birds to make it worth the wait in the cold. If the weather turns cool before the season opens, the doves get the message and leave. We just haven't seen many birds this year anyway.

Now, to you Labor Day may signal the end of summer, the beginning of fall, back to school, the sequence of hunting seasons, football, etc. But to me, Labor Day is KW's Official Opening of the Holiday Season. This chilly day did not disappoint. To put some heat in the house, I turned on the oven and made gingersnaps from a boxed mix. (That's what you do when you're out of eggs and Crisco.) While I baked cookies, I browned round steak which is now simmering as Swiss steak in the crockpot. The apple pie and dinner rolls I made yesterday will round out tonight's supper which will happen effortlessly at 6:30.

I'm now on my second pot of holiday herb tea. And this morning I ordered a book – Holly Jolly Christmas Quilting – through Amazon. And if I so chose, I could listen to Christmas music, though I might opt for Handel's Messiah, other classical Christmas music, or something like tunes from the Charlie Brown specials rather than snow songs and carols. Fall has its own particular brand of warmth and comfort. KW