Friday, July 30, 2010

North to Nebraska

Looks like I've been neglecting my blogging duties lately, but in all honesty, I've been trying to get these photos loaded for a week now and blogger hasn't been very cooperative. Even now, its been slow going.

A few weeks ago DH's uncle passed away and we made a super fast trip to Nebraska. DH has a huge family and although we keep up around the holidays, none of us are very good about keeping in touch the rest of the year and its been 18 years since we've been up there, with the exception of DH flying up in 1999 when his grandfather passed away. Why is it we only get together during weddings and funerals anymore?

So, other than we wish the reason for our trip had been more enjoyable, it was wonderful to catch up with everyone. All the kids have grown up and another generation is being added to the family tree since our last visit. Heck, I think I'm just now getting all his first cousins lined out and connected with the right set of parents! Being an only child, I was quite overwhelmed when I first met his family. He only has 2 siblings, but his grandparents had 7 children on one side and 5 on the other and they all had lots of children.

Once DD was asking DH about his cousins and DH told her to get a piece of paper. She returned with a notebook sized piece and he grinned, "Get a bigger piece." LOL!

I love his family. They are all so hospitable and story telling is both near and dear to their hearts and apparently it has a very strong dominance in the gene pool. No worries about it becoming a lost art with this bunch! My how the stories did fly! I don't think there's shy one in the bunch!

Suddenly his cousin, Steve, brought up one story about how he remembers DH telling about how I looked like a turtle when I was about 8 months pregnant with DS and trying to get out of the water bed in the mornings.

You've GOT to be kidding! I looked at Steve and said, "Out of all the stories you have to tell in this family, you have to remember THAT one?! Gee thanks! Just how I like to be remembered! LOL! I guess I should be honored that I've earned a place in the storytelling, Makes me feel as if I've been grafted onto the family tree...even if it is as a turtle!
DH is really the quiet one, but I've never heard him talk so much as I did during this trip - and we've been together for 26 years! Although I still think he listened more than he talked.

With the exception of a stop at Cabela's to stretch our legs (like we need an excuse to stop there!), we pretty much went from point A to point B on this trip. I took along my hexagon flowers and worked on getting them on their blocks when I wasn't driving. My powers of persuasion must be diminishing because I was unable to convince DH to work on them when I did drive, but I managed to get about half of them stitched on. Some of my stitches are quite wobbly though. Driving along highway 76, through Colorado, was interesting. We pretty much rattled the entire way. I have a bone to pick with the Colorado Highway Department! If I had had any fillings, they would have been shaken loose! Gave dirt roads a run for their money! DH got tickled watching me and then when I got the giggles, it became even more challenging.

We stayed in Alliance, NE that night. DH was born there and we enjoyed touring his old stomping grounds although most of the stomping he did there was along the sidewalks while he waited for his Mom to finish her shopping. Alliance is a quaint little town with the original cobblestone streets still in tact:

The little pharmacy/drugstore he remembered was still in business too. I love little towns like this. They have such character.

After being cooped up in the truck for so long, we were tired, but not ready to call it a night at the motel so we stopped in at the local Subway and enjoyed our supper at dusk in the local park.

Which by the way, was very impressive! It was green and peaceful and clean and charming.

I wish we had arrived earlier in order to snap more pictures. I missed the impressive flower garden and playground area. There's a huge pool too with a water slide and extensive biking and jogging paths as well.

I was shocked to see this fabulous fountain in the midst of this peaceful place and although I was just bemoaning the fact that it was too dark for pictures, this little gem made me change my tune.

Looks very Parisian to me.

It was a nice way to wind down before hitting the sheets. I was exhausted, but DH wasn't even a bit tired. He says that he didn't do anything all day. He's not good at kicking back. Even in motel rooms, he's up before daylight and ready to go. There's not much I would change about that man, but this might be the one area that could use some work! Grin!

We then traveled east about 75 miles to a little bit of a town called Ashby and then Hyannis. That's where DH grew up. Just a few hundred people and I'll bet most of them are related to him!

The service was really nice and celebrated the life of a man I wish I had known better. It was good to spend time with his 4 children and his one daughter is fabulous! What a neat gal! She sure had to learn to hold her own with 3 rascally brothers!

We spent the next night with DH's cousin, Dave and his amazing wife, Mickie. They have a beautiful place:

The boys saddled up and rode across the sandhills the next morning while Mickie and I enjoyed a morning of fellowship, chatting, a nice walk, and a tour of their home place. The sandhills put Ireland to shame!

We come from alfalfa country and I was so impressed with all of this natural grass they bale. The mown paths look funny. They're all wobbly and wavy and it looks like someone took an extra nip of moonshine but they have to avoid the marshy areas that pepper the pastures. I've never seen so much green!

The sand just sifts through your hands like silk. Not a rock nor a pebble to be found. The amazing marshes were covered with a vast variety of waterfowl and I would have loved to throw a fishing line in the water.

You can dig down 20' and hit water in that country!

I adore Mickie! What a wonderful blessing she is! They're expecting their first grandchild and I can't wait to get started on a baby quilt!

We reluctantly pulled out at noon and headed back south. Dave lent DH a packing saddle and I told Dave that he would get it back on one condition - they have to come and get it! Grin!

On our way back, we passed by Lake McConaughy, just outside Ogallalla. I love that name. I don't know why, but it just rolls off the tongue. I'm wondering if I was ever meant to be a beach bum because I sure am drawn to shores and I really just wanted to jump on the back of this guy's jet ski as we whizzed across the bridge:

We left on Thursday and after a total of 1658 miles, we rolled back onto the ranch on Sunday morning. Whew! So good to be home! I sure do wish Nebraska wasn't so far though!

I wasn't sure things back home would look very green after being in the sandhills, but it looks awfully good! The weeds are alive and well and my mower is calling my name! Guess I'll just have to close my eyes and tell myself its a jet ski.

Monday, July 12, 2010

As Ye Shall Sew...So Shall Ye Rip

Today's post title is brought to you by Jen. Jen commented on my previous post where I made a desperate cry for help and it made me laugh. Thank you Jen! I appreciate all of your wonderful comments and was excited to find some new 'faces'!

Welcome to Katie, Stef, Jen, and Deanna! I love it when new friends stumble down my dirt road and I'm eagerly looking forward to getting to know ya'll through the blog world!

As for the status of the hexagons...well...see for yourself:

This is the progress thus far.

I've sewn for years and generally made lots clothes for the kids when they were small so I am all too familiar with the seam ripper. However, I am new to quilting and only recently has this relationship between my seam ripper and me been taken to a whole new level! I've had this seam ripper for 19 years so we've been through a lot together...and it 'seams' (grin!)we're only growing closer.

I like the idea of donating the quilt, and I'll probably still do that, but I didn't want to donate a quilt I didn't like. I put way too much time and love into these little rascals to not love the finished product...not to mention the price of quilting fabric these days! Woohee and good gravy! Good thing I think quilts are priceless, because adding up the cost of the yardage is enough to give anyone the vapors! It's the reason we drive an 11 year old truck! LOL!

I tried to love the old hexagons. Honestly, I did, but it just wasn't happening. Hopefully they won't feel discarded because they are only being repurposed. DD was home for a bit this weekend and when I mentioned this, she looked concerned. Her Mama's gone loopy. See what happens when you run off and leave your Mama for an entire summer? She starts having conversations with her quilting fabric and thinking they have feelings!

So it'll be a bit before I undo this mess I've created and have anything useful to share. I may even have to take a break and...start a new project. Yes, go ahead and say it. DD spoke the truth...I'm on road to loopy-ness.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Quilting Advice Please

A few months ago I enthusiastically joined in on this online hexagon quilt-a-long hosted by the talented jaybird quilts. I hunted for fabric. I bought the ruler. I stalked her blog waiting for posts. I stressed over block settings. And then I just took the plunge and started sewing.
Each week she posted instructions for a different orientation for the hexagons and I finally settled on one because I'm not quite ready to throw caution to the wind and I like some semblance of order. Making hexagons was as far as I was willing to venture out of my comfort zone at this point in my quilting journey. So I began to sew and piece these quirky little shapes and this is what I ended up with. I didn't love it. And so the strips sat on the wall...silently.

While piecing said hexagons, I found myself with extras. Not enough of any one to make a complete shape, but the scrappy quilter in me would not let them go so this morning I threw these on the wall and lo and behold, I think they started to sing.


So here's my dilemma. Do I find a couple of good movies and set to taking apart the organized blocks and then make my happy little scrappy hexagon quilt, or do I just finish the original one and hope it comes alive once its completed?

Which one gets your vote?

Monday, July 5, 2010

My Hobo Quilt

Its always a wonderful day when I finish a quilt and I finally pulled the last piece of thread through this fun design today! After a quick tumble in the wash, it spent some time soaking up the summer sun on the clothesline and now it is warm and sweet smelling and crinkled to perfection.
I saw this quilt on the cover of a magazine last year and just had to make it! It's actually the 3rd quilt I started, but I'm just now getting it done. I love scrappy quilts! Something about their mismatched pieces that come to together to make a beautiful cohesive treasure just speaks to me. Generally scrappy quilts are designed to use what you have and I'll be honest and tell you that I bought odds and ends to make this one. I just didn't have much of a stash built up to choose from so I picked up a piece here and there. It was a good excuse to stop in at every quilt shop I encountered.

I loved working on this quilt and I have endearingly named it the Hobo Quilt. I have no idea why since Hobos are known to be a bit disheveled and not at all what I would think of as cozy and inviting, but there it is. It simply fit the quilt and I'm hoping it will be loved for many years to come. It just makes me smile, chopped off corners and all.
I'm thinking I'll use it on cool mornings when I read my devotionals on the porch although DH has already claimed it as his favorite. DD claimed it while I was still working on it and DS asked whether he could be the Hobo. Oh dear! I'm lending the pattern to the dear lady who quilted it for me, as she fell in love with it as well, but once she returns it, I may have to make a couple more if I want one for myself.

And that stash building problem is now a thing of the past! LOL! My next scrappy quilt will actually come from my fabric collection...maybe.
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