Sunday, February 22, 2015


Once in a blue moon – very rarely – my sewing room needs to become a guest room. With the gathering of family for B-I-L Bill’s funeral, the services of the little room were rather suddenly required as guest accommodations. Brother Chuck and Joanne arrived Thursday (Feb. 12) and stayed until Wednesday morning (Feb. 18). And I’m going to be right upfront here and say that it took me all of three days just to stash my sewing stuff and coax the room to look cozy for guests.

But – the sewing room was due for a massive reorganization, and I was happy to do it for my family. Still, I cleaned with trepidation because it doesn’t take much to make me forget just where I am in the scheme of things with my projects, some of which exist only in my mind. I pinned notes to some fabric – “overalls for bear,” “pants for bear,” etc. And something will go missing, no matter how hard I try. This time it's those vintage magazines with Cabbage Patch patterns in which I found the perfect t-shirt for "Build-a-Bears." Now, where did I put those?

The little room became a sewing room again once the guests left the driveway, but not so quickly did I regain my sewing momentum. For one thing, I appreciate that the room will be nice and neat as long as I don't sew. And for another – well, it’s just hard to take the plunge, I guess. Maybe today – if I can find that t-shirt pattern. . .

My play partner, Emmy, vacationed in Cancun this past week. I missed her, but truly it doesn’t much matter where she is because I’m a thousand miles from her anyway. But – it’s time to refocus on “Rosabell the Build-a-Bear.” At least, it is for me. You never quite know with a child. Perhaps she’s already outgrown Rosabell. Did Rosabell go to Cancun? I don’t know. KW

[Photo 1) The sewing room as a guest room. 2) Mike scrapes frost from Chuck and Joanne's van as they prepare to leave. 3) A photo of Emmy in Cancun, borrowed from her mother.]

Tuesday, February 17, 2015


Hallie writes: “The neighbor and Nick took down the cherry tree today. Sad to take out a mature tree, but it was over-grown, messy, and encroaching on the property line. The neighbor had to build his fence around it, so I know he's glad to have it out.”

It seems ironic to me that on Presidents’ Day, Nick and Hallie chopped down their cherry tree. At least they’re honest about it.

Hallie says it appears that a lot of smaller projects with the little Tudor will come together at once. It only seems slow right now. They are working hard.

But – it was good to hear that they took time this past weekend to get out for some antiquing. From Hallie:
“This weekend we had planned to install attic stairs, but our plans were derailed by the discovery that the local hardware stores do not carry the size we desired. So, we've ordered it and it will be here by Tuesday. Instead, we enjoyed our Valentine's Day in LaConner, WA with a stop in Mt. Vernon for lunch and antiquing. We enjoy antiquing, but have never purchased anything. We are having the house rewired in the next month and are on a quest for several different lights (bedroom, dining room, living room). We did not succeed.

"Sunday we decided to have an easy morning and grabbed a bite to eat at a favorite bakery nearby. We then continued our quest from Saturday with a trip to Sodo (south of downtown), where there are several building salvage places and a giant antique mall. Although we didn't find lights, we finally broke the ice with our first purchase. We found this framed credo nearly a year ago and didn't buy it. Then we thought it was gone, months passed, and today we found it again for 20% off. The beauty of being slow movers like we are is that by the time we get around to being okay with a purchase it's often on clearance or about to be discontinued.

We look forward to hanging this in our soon to be finished guest bedroom.”

Credo Sancti Benedicti
"If any pilgrim monk come from distant parts, if with wish as a guest to dwell in the monastery, and will be content with the customs which he finds in the place and do not perchance by his lavishness disturb the monastery, but is simply content with what he finds, he shall be received, for as long a time as he desires. If, indeed, he finds fault with anything, or expose it, reasonably and with the humility of charity, the Abbot shall discuss it prudently, lest perchance God had sent him for this very thing. But, if he have been found gossipy and contumacious in the time of his sojourn as guest, not only ought he not be joined to the body of the monastery, but also it shall be said to him, honestly, that he must depart. If he does not go, let two stout monks, in the name of God, explain the matter to him."

Saturday, February 14, 2015


We crafters tend to like to start things but not finish them. It affects our finances, strains our storage resources, and eventually leaves us feeling unfulfilled. Occasionally we have to face this issue before we can move on.

The last verse of a poem by Ruth Hulburt Hamilton reads:

Cleaning and scrubbing can wait till tomorrow
But children grow up as I’ve learned to my sorrow.
So quiet down cobwebs; Dust go to sleep!
I’m rocking my baby, and babies don’t keep.

Even though I no longer have a baby to rock, I do have a young granddaughter, and I’m acutely aware that her childhood isn’t keeping. I want Emmy to remember a “gramma” who had time to play, even if we’re seldom together.

BUT – my little sewing room is filled with unfinished projects taking up space that I don’t have. As they sit in storage, they become “buffaloes.” For whatever reason, I’ve lost the momentum and inspiration of progress. Meanwhile, “sugar plums” in the form of all sorts of teddy bear patterns “dance in my head.” Not all projects can be finished in a flash, but I decided I could face a couple of them just so I would have tote bags for new projects, if nothing else.

First up – the shawl I was making for Hallie to protect her from the chilly wind on her wedding day. The weather was lovely on that day, and she didn’t need a wrap. It wasn’t a great pattern anyway. And there it sat in the closet for the ensuing five-plus years.

My first idea was simply to unravel the shawl and repurpose the yarn, but when I actually looked at it, I could see it would be foolish not to just tie it off and call it good. So, I looked that buffalo in the eye and conquered it – sort of. I’ll take it to the farm where it can serve as . . . . perhaps a light shawl or a pretty bed runner. Hmmm.

That was easy, so I pulled out another bag. This one contained a nearly-finished hooded scarf of bulky yarn, meant to be a gift for someone. In the process I saw that it wasn’t age appropriate. I used to know what was age appropriate, but I lost that somewhere along the line. For one thing, most everything is modeled by a young person. For another, not everyone shares my sense that vintage is cool. Anyway, it was nearly finished, so I finished it. Again, I’ll take it to the farm where it will be useful when I walk the dogs on cold days – practically never.

So easy! In just a few hours’ time, those buffaloes became history! The Christmas afghan and the Halloween quilt will have to wait. On to those teddy bears! KW

Sunday, February 8, 2015


I’m sitting here today watching the play of sun and clouds on the hillside across the way. It’s not a pretty area but sometimes – as now – it’s stunningly beautiful. On this warm winter day I ponder springlike thoughts of renewal and resurrection. I’m actually reminded of Easter.

My brother-in-law, Bill Reece, passed on Friday, February 6, at the age of 89. He had been in declining health for several years. I suppose we can’t say his passing was unexpected, but neither did we know that Friday would be the day.

Kathy with Bill and Harriet, 1953
I just can’t let Bill go without remembering the good he brought our way. Fact is, I was not yet four the summer that Harriet and Bill were married, which means I really don’t remember when Bill wasn’t a member of the extended Walrath / Portfors / Dobson family.

It might be said that as Bill ambled along through life, he solved problems in simple ways. Together with Harriet, he took my parents on trips, drove my uncle to doctor’s appointments, called on the sick. My mother was never ready for the Christmas Eve reunion, and Bill and Harriet would show up early to vacuum (and maybe stash some clutter). Bill loved children – and they loved him back. And there were jokes and pranks with the nieces and nephews -- what I call the cousin group. I was too old for that particular fun, and my children were too young, but one of my sons says he remembers Uncle Bill as always jovial. Uncle Bill always had a smile for him, he recalls.

Bill had general building skills, and he helped my dad remodel the bathrooms in our house. Let’s see – that must have been 1958 or so. It was a do-it-yourself project involving several do-it-yourselfers. As an aside – because I truly don’t remember who was there and who did what -- I recall that someone (possibly me) flushed the toilet in the upstairs bathroom before the plumbing was connected. Not being channeled through a pipe, the water was held in a pocket of wallpaper and paint on the ceiling of the room below (my dad’s studio) until, of course, that bubble broke. We heard the unmistakable sound -- a splash and then dripping water -- as we were eating supper. Mother’s crocheted white straw purse was obliterated in the deluge. Well -- it’s kinda funny now.

Anything I could say is just not enough. "Words are not adequate," as they say. It’s impossible to summarize in a few words what one person’s life means to the whole. We don't even know the whole of it. The generations just pass slowly, and that’s a good thing. KW

Thursday, February 5, 2015


Winter may not always bring snow to the Pacific Inland Empire, but we have our share of what Grandmother Ina called “dull days” at this time of year. Mike marveled again this morning that for the next week or so the forecast is for cloudy conditions. Temperatures are moderate – 54 as I write – with lows above freezing.

Sometimes we get up to fog. The other evening, fog rolled in just as daylight was waning and I took a couple of pictures.

Mike remarked recently that our electric blanket seemed to be failing. I figure the life span of an electric blanket is five years, and since this one had done duty for at least ten, it was well past time to replace it. I studied prices and reviews online. We’ve always had Sunbeam electric blankets (now called heated blankets), and I decided the next blanket should also be a Sunbeam, which showed an overall positive rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars. The few who did not rate positively said in essence, “There is no way this blanket will stay on the bed.”

Well, I decided to check Costco before ordering. Yes, they had them, and at the best price I had seen – less than $70 as compared to $110 online. I noted that it was more like a velour throw than a blanket. It is what it is, so I opted for an olive green.

It’s never fun to change out electric blankets -- out with the old cords, in with the new. The process involves dragging cords under the furniture and then running a check to be sure the controls are set on the appropriate sides of the bed. (Mike tells a story about another wife who reversed the controls. I profit by her mistake and strive not to make it myself.)

This blanket heats well. Instead of turning it on two hours in advance of bedtime, I note that the bed is warm enough with a five-minute pre-heat. But – it has been true with us that the blanket will not stay on the bed. Every morning it’s on the floor on my side of the bed. If I get up in the night, I try to re-arrange it, but it’s really a losing battle.

Last night at dusk -- Can you see the mule deer?
Mike says it falls on my side because I have this weird habit of clutching the blankets under my neck. He says that I’m pulling the blanket off. But I note that the sheet stays pretty well in place. The blanket is so slick that it simply slips off. And since Mike sleeps in the middle of the bed – well, need I say more? As he migrates to my warmth, the blanket comes with him. KW