It’s Snow Big Deal

A foot of snow in mid-November is unusual but, in this region, it’s no big deal. Not really.

And it’s always fun to see what the snow and wind leave in their wake.

We often get amazing sastrugi but this time around we got twin peaks.

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The table on our deck and the porch rails are a couple inches apart, far enough to give us two identical shark-fin-shaped piles of snow, about 18 inches tall.

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And this spider’s lovely work was further adorned by the snow.

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My sister says it says as much about my housekeeping as it does about the weather. I say the web is outside and that doesn’t count as “housekeeping.”

In fact, the snow makes the world look clean and sparkly as the sun shines today. The temperatures will warm soon and this will all melt. And, then, inevitably, the next storm will come and pile us up again.

But we have a cozy house, a fireplace, cats to cuddle, and warming beverages.

Winter is snow . . . big deal.

What’s a Girl To Do?

What to do, what to do . . .

The news seems to be all about our leaders behaving badly. Lying, backstabbing, craven finger pointing.

It seemed sensible to visit some patriots and visionaries, and good, decent Americans.

These are not the only leaders who inspire me but I came face-to-face with this group recently.

These heroes lift me up. They were not perfect but they put country and democracy, imperfect though it may be, first.

These may not be your heroes, depending on where you live and your political leanings. But, surely, you can identify good, decent people who remind you that strong, selfless leadership prevails.

Let us focus on and be inspired by them.

Shades of Autumn (photo heavy again!)

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This has been an autumn of incomparable beauty in these parts!

Do I say that every year?

I believe I do and, yet, this year seems special. It might be because I have taken more than the normal number of opportunities to get out and enjoy this fall. I’ve taken multiple leaf-peeping drives with my mom, made that trip to the Wild Center with Don, and had a bracing walk in the woods with a friend.

I’ve sought out autumn color, in panoramic views.

And up close.

In the mountains.

And by the lake.

Bright.

And subtler.

In my own yard.

The best thing about autumn here, maybe, is that it shows up everywhere. Even on the ugliest commercial highway, I’ll see one glorious tree. Or in a muddy patch, one bright leaf. At every turn of the road, is a new reason to gasp out loud and stop and admire.

This year I’ve made a point to drive rural roads where there’s so little traffic I can hit the brakes, put the car in reverse, and go back to take a good look at a view I glimpsed out of the corner of my eye.

And try to capture it in a photo, or ten, to share with you.

And still, I never, ever, feel like the photos do justice to the scenes. The colors don’t sparkle, the leaves don’t shimmer in the crisp breeze, and photos can’t convey the glory of it all.

And yet every year I try.

So here you have Autumn 2019. It was all an autumn should be.

The big rains and wind came a couple days ago and took most of the leaves down.

And we are reminded again of the evanescence of beauty, the moment that passes too quickly, that “nothing gold can stay.”  We must appreciate the gold, and the good, while we can.

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ScrapHappy: Fusion Redux #3

When last we scrapped happily together, we had finished doing the blanket stitching around the outside of the squares.

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The blanket stitch is attractive in its own right but its real purpose is to serve as the base of the crocheting. Without the crocheting this would be just a bunch of cute squares but we’d have to use them as coasters.

I am absolutely not going to try and teach you how to crochet! I have seen the crocheting many of you do and me teaching you would be like the local yoga instructor trying to teach Gandhi about meditation.

I am an accidental crocheter at best. I learned out of desperation while living in a cheap motel for 6 weeks, with no access to my chosen crafts.

I know three stitches—slip stitch, single crochet and double crochet. I could learn more stitches but the truth is I don’t even really enjoy crochet. I have a death grip on the hook and my hand is always sore. I do it now only as a means to an end, the fusion quilt.

All of this is said to make the point that the crochet on fusion squares can be simple and basic and, even if you don’t already know anything about crochet, you could learn enough, quickly, to make a quilt like this. If you don’t have a friend you can teach you the basics, the internet is full of tutorials. That’s how I learned.

On the other hand, if you already now what you’re doing, you could do something way more complicated and interesting for the borders on your squares and make the crochet a bigger part of the look of your quilt.

What I’ve done around my squares is start with single crochet and do one stitch in each opening created by the blanket stitch. I go around once and then I go around again and do a double crochet stitch into each single crochet. At the corners, though, I do three double crochets into one corner stitch, to create the fan shape that eases around the corner.

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Like I said, super simple, super basic. But the possibilities are endless for the crocheting. If you want ideas, search on Pinterest for “fusion quilt.”

After you’ve done all these steps on all your squares (however may that is—for me, it’ll be about 112, if I remember correctly), the time will come to crochet everything together. At some point, I’ll tell you what’s entailed in that, although you can probably figure it out.

My progress to date is:

20 squares finished and blocked*

12 squares finished but not blocked

6 squares blanket stitched and ready for crochet

5 squares ready for blanket stitch and then crochet.

* The blocking of these squares makes a huge difference. I lay the crocheted squares face down on my ironing board and use pins in the four corners to slightly stretch and flatten the edges. I spritzed them with a water bottle and leave them to dry.

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Blocked or unblocked–you choose.


ScrapHappy is open to anyone using up scraps of anything – no new materials. It can be a quilt block, pincushion, bag or hat, socks or a sculpture. Anything made of scraps is eligible. If your scrap collection is out of control and you’d like to turn them into something beautiful instead of leaving them to collect dust in the cupboard, why not join us on the 15th of each month? Email Kate at the address on her Contact Me page. She welcomes new members. You don’t have to worry about making a long term commitment or even join in every month, just let Kate or Gun know a day or so in advance if you’re new and you’ll have something to show, so they can add your link. Regular contributors will receive an email reminder three days before the event.

Here are the links for everyone who joins ScrapHappy from time to time (they may not post every time, but their blogs are still worth looking at).

KateGun, TittiHeléneEvaSue, Nanette, Lynn, Lynda,
Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy, Debbierose, Tracy, Jill, Claire, Jan,
Moira, SandraLindaChrisNancy, Alys, Kerry (that’s me), Claire, Jean,
Joanne, Jon, HayleyDawn, Gwen, Connie, Bekki, Pauline and Sue L.

Adirondack Extravaganza: The Wild Center (photo heavy!)

Nothing lights a fire under a lapsed blogger like a blog-worthy outing!

And we took a quintessential autumn outing this week—to the Wild Center of the Adirondacks.

I’ve written elsewhere about this region of upstate New York I call home. The Adirondack Park is “the biggest natural park in the lower 48 states. It can hold Yellowstone, Yosemite, Grand Canyon, Glacier, and Great Smoky Mountains National Parks inside its borders.” 

About 20 years ago, the idea surfaced to build a natural history museum in the ADK Park.

Does that sound boring? It is anything but!

From that initial germ of an idea came the Wild Center, an amazing outdoor/indoor set of experiences that explains, informs, and celebrates the environment in these mountains.

Making the trip in autumn gave us the bonus of a glorious drive.

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The Center is in the town of Tupper Lake, about 1.5 hours by car from our house.

I could relay all kinds of facts and figures but the website does that better.

I’ll just show you some photos.

Planet Adirondack, a huge globe in a darkened hall, allows visitors to see storms across the earth in real time.

The animal inhabitants of the region, some living, some still informative in their preserved states.

Art of the indigenous peoples of the region and a place to make your own art

And a display to warm the heart of a weaver.

The Wild Center opened in 2006 but just a few years ago they added the Wild Walk. And what a wild and wonderful walk it is!

The attention to deal is amazing

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Lots of information

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. . . and inventive ways to bring it alive

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A small vignette along the way

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The seat of the swing says “Soar from tree to tree”

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Every inch of concrete walkway is imprinted with twigs and pine needles

The Wild Walk rises gradually from the forest floor to the level of the treetops.

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I can’t imagine a better place to teach about and honor the wonders of this region. And, even better, it’s all accessible to people of all generations and abilities!

We have many reasons to return:

  • to see the otters playing in their waterfall. They were shy the day we were there;
  • to see the place without marauding hordes of 12-year-olds. We arrived just as many buses unloaded kids on field trips;
  • to get a photo of me on the spider web! I really, really wanted that photo  . . . but not with hordes of 12-year-olds;
  • and to absorb more of the vast amount of information and experiences offered.

The lovely news is that we were given free passes to return! When we were leaving, I asked at the main desk for a phone number so, next time, we can call ahead to ask about the school trips (and avoid them!) The admissions manager overheard me and gave us passes to come back, as well as that phone number.

If you were visiting me and wanted to understand this part of our world, I would take you to The Wild Center.

And I would show you a moose:

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ScrapHappy: Fusion Redux #2

My current scrappy project, a second fusion quilt, will keep me in ScrapHappy posts for months to come!

When I left you last time, we had just turned the squares right side out and were a little horrified at the way they looked.

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Can this mess be saved?

The next step in the project is to pin the opening and sew it closed. You could do this invisibly, by hand, but I have too many crafty plans and I’m not getting any younger so I sew that opening closed on my machine. I figure that, between the blanket stitch and the crochet busyness, no one will notice. And if they do, it’ll give them a chance to feel superior and who doesn’t need that once in awhile?

Then I topstitch around the edge, about a quarter inch in. (You’ll find that precision isn’t terribly important with this sort of quilt because the crochet is so flexible that, if the squares vary a teensy bit in size, it’ll never matter.)

Top stitching can be intimidating, because it shows, being on top and all. But this top stitching isn’t like that. It doesn’t really show because you’ll do hand stitching over it. So worry not.

The purpose of top stitching here is that it serves to plump up the square as the batting is compressed a little.

Another benefit will become apparent when you start to do the blanket stitching by hand. It’s not easy to get the needle through the multiple layers of fabric you have in each square. But, if you plan your top stitch spacing well, you’ll be able to put your needle into the holes punched by your machine needle.

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This makes it a lot easier to sew into the thick edges but you may also want to go a step farther. I use a finger cot on my right index finger. It’s a sort of mini-condom-like thing that gives you a good grip on the needle. You can find them in the first-aid section of the drugstore.

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Practice safe sewing!

I set my machine to stitch at about 8 stitches per inch. I sew on a Singer Featherweight and that 8-stitches-per-inch is a guesstimate. I hear tell that them new-fangled machines allow you to be pretty precise about such things  . . .

If I do 8 stitches per inch and sew the blanket stitch into every third stitch, I end up with about 12-13 blanket stitches around the edge.

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I didn’t do this until I was quite far along on the first quilt so some of my squares have as many as 18 blanket stitches on each edge. That became quite the issue when I started crocheting all the blocks together. Learn from my mistakes.

Because I have access to lots of weaving yarn/thread, I choose to do the blanket stitch in off-white mercerized cotton in a weight weavers call “5/2.” I do the crochet in the same cotton but in the slightly heavier 3/2 weight. The mercerized or perle cotton has a nice sheen to it and I like that it comes in one-pound cones.

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The 3/2 cotton is on the left and is heavier than the 5/2.

One of the things I like best about this project is the steps in the process call on different skills so I don’t get bored.

  • I cut a bunch of the materials at one time so they are handy.
  • I do the machine sewing on 10-12 squares at a time.
  • Just about the time I’m sick of sitting at the machine, it’s time for some hand sewing. The blanket stitch is pretty mindless and I can do it anywhere.
  • And then, it’s time to switch gears again and crochet. I’ll tell you more about that next time!

My progress to date is:

23 squares finished to the point of having been sewn and crocheted. I’ve sewn in some of the crochet ends but still need to block the finished squares.

10 more squares ready for blanket stitch and then crochet.


ScrapHappy is open to anyone using up scraps of anything – no new materials. It can be a quilt block, pincushion, bag or hat, socks or a sculpture. Anything made of scraps is eligible. If your scrap collection is out of control and you’d like to turn them into something beautiful instead of leaving them to collect dust in the cupboard, why not join us on the 15th of each month? Email Kate at the address on her Contact Me page. She welcomes new members. You don’t have to worry about making a long term commitment or even join in every month, just let Kate or Gun know a day or so in advance if you’re new and you’ll have something to show, so they can add your link. Regular contributors will receive an email reminder three days before the event.

Here are the links for everyone who joins ScrapHappy from time to time (they may not post every time, but their blogs are still worth looking at).

KateGun, TittiHeléneEvaSue, Nanette, Lynn, Lynda,
Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy, Debbierose, Tracy, Jill, Claire, Jan,
Moira, SandraLindaChrisNancy, Alys, Kerry (that’s me), Claire, Jean,
Joanne, Jon, HayleyDawn, Gwen, Connie, Bekki, Pauline and Sue L.

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love to Weed

Psychologists have a term—sublimation—for a process whereby certain negative urges are converted into positive behavior.

I’ve been feeling the need to sublimate.

You see, I’m feeling a lot of intense energy lately, much of it negative and a reaction to the daily news. I read what is going on in my country and the world and I get angry or scared, and frustrated.

For my own sake and for the sake of those around me, I need a way to release that stress.

I need a way to sublimate that energy.

Weeding is the answer. It has taken on new meaning for me this summer.

It’s always been an endless activity here, where the crabgrass and clover run free, amid pavers and garden beds.

I’ve always dreaded it a little, seen it as necessary evil, a fact of gardening life to just be dealt with.

Then I saw this strange little cartoon.

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I really did try to find info about this for purposes of attribution. Nothing.

At first I found it disturbing and peculiar but now, every time I kneel down to weed, it inspires me.

When I weed now, I redirect my negative energy and think about the ripping off of heads and pulling out of spines.

I know this doesn’t sounds very “loving hands at home.” It may shock you.

But I’m not advocating actual, literal violence.

And I’m not fantasizing about large-scale head ripping. I’m not imagining pulling just any spines. Just a few specific spines.

It doesn’t work for everyone–some of the people who frustrate me a great deal are immune because they are, seemingly, spineless . . .

So I focus on the others. One in particular.

It’s oddly cathartic, this directing of negative energy to the task at hand. Where I once flinched at the sight of crabgrass, now I eagerly approach it—it has the best long roots.

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If I work too quickly, the roots break and the weed comes back. Sublimation has made me a better, more careful weeder—I want that whole spine.

I finish a weeding session calmer than when I started. AND my patio looks better than it ever has.

So here is my advice to you:

Don’t hate—sublimate.

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