Sunday, October 6, 2013

Cats, Quilts, and Somewhat Aimless Puttering

Willis the Cat is usually found keeping a close watch over his domain, in particular the dooryard. He is on top of any human comings and goings, and obviously feels that his role as an overseer and caretaker includes trekking along to the gardens or the barns.
I'm always surprised to catch him napping.

Willis has chosen a small vintage rocking chair as the place for a mid-morning nap.

Funny how a mere cat, not wishing to be disturbed into sociability, can make one feel an 
intruder on the front porch!

J. is in Tennessee helping his brother-in-law to replace the roof on their house.
[He has smugly reported that his sister's young Siamese cat chooses to sleep on his pillow!]
That leaves me keeping house on my own for 10 days, a prospect that I never find daunting.
Without the time constraints of an outside job, the hours of days and nights are my own, with few events structured by anything beyond my whims.
On Monday I decided to take out the row of sunflowers in the bottom garden.
Many of the stalks went down in a heavy, windy rain in mid-July and grass has grown in around them.
The final burst of hot and humid weather ripened most of the seed heads and the optimal time for harvesting them probably passed while we were busy painting the garage.
I found two large heads full of seeds and carefully cut them for my friend Gracie who  requested some for her winter birdfeeders.
Surprisingly, some of the dwarf varieties which had toppled yielded some solid heads of small black seeds. 
I carried out a large metal bowl and knocked the seeds into it. I learned, painfully, several years ago that shucking sunflower seeds from the heads by hand can result in sharp spurs driving into the fingertips.

I dragged stalks and empty heads to the accumulating pile of garden rubbish and on Friday, after a night of gentle rain, kindled a bonfire.
For several days each time I glanced over the perennial strips and veg strips which comprise the lower gardens, I had an instant sense of something amiss.
How quickly our eyes become accustomed to a feature of our personal landscape, even something as transitory as a row of sunflowers.

The removal of the sunflowers has left the pink cosmos as the eye-catcher in that bottom strip.
Rain is pelting down today and it will take several 'drying days' before I can harvest seeds.
Although many of the seed heads will be shattered enough blossoms have come on to ensure that I can gather seed to plant and share.

This quilt, made for daughter Gina, has been awaiting its turn for binding for several weeks.
G. chose the star setting for the Log Cabin blocks and stated her preference for the blue fabrics in the lines I've been using. I was able to order [on sale!] the coordinating fabric for the borders and cut it to take advantage of the vertical pattern repeat.

Detail of the border fabric.
I usually machine hem the binding on my quilts.
This one being special I took the time [4 hours] to turn over and hand stitch the binding to the 
back of the quilt.

I likewise hand hemmed the binding on this quilt, a light and dark setting of Log Cabin blocks.
This one took forever as I picked it up whenever I had a few minutes to spare.
The cats felt it was becoming a fixture, draped over the big basket of magazines which I keep by my 
rocking chair. 

I'm claiming this as my personal quilt and have folded it over the back of the rocking chair which belonged to my Grampa Mac. Too often I make a quilt, designating it while a work in progress as a 'utility quilt'--one that needn't be put away 'for best.' Then--after all the careful work it turns out to be quite appealing and I'm inclined to cherish it rather than enjoy it.
I delivered a king-size quilt to the local quilter on Tuesday and have pulled out a long-postponed project to work on in a rather desultory fashion. 
I'm telling myself that having invested some time in beginning, it is good discipline to finish before starting something more inspiring.
G. and I spent most of Wednesday in the neighboring larger town. We wandered through the booths at Peddlers' Mall, particularly pleased with the vintage furniture and small treasures that are offered in the nicer booths.  We poked about in the nearby Goodwill shop and then eventually did the real errand of the trip--grocery shopping.
I've stayed up blissfully late, reading, doing more genealogy searches, listening to my son on the phone [one listens to H. rather more than talking!]
There are small unchanging chores, feeding the old horse and the barn cats each morning, tending litter boxes, tidying the kitchen, selecting music for my turn as church pianist.
G. and her family pop in and out and expect the cookie jar to be replenished! 

The weather is on the turn after a warm week with the temps forecast to dive by about 20 degrees tonight.
Leaves are turning color on the ridges although most still cling to the trees.
The humming birds have departed.
I saw the last one hovering near the feeder on 26 September. One zinged past on the 30th as I was uprooting sunflowers. 
The birds who over-winter here are quiet now. Several bluebirds spent Saturday evening flying from the electric wires to the goat willow tree.
The boy-cats are such avid stalkers that I suspect many of our birds stay a bit farther from the house than before the advent of the boys.

The skies partially cleared for an hour this morning before darkness rolled in with distant booms of thunder.
Rain falls, alternating between a gentle steady spatter and bursts that more resemble a downpour.
The wind has come up, not lashing, but stirring the trees and rippling the puddles forming in the back yard. 
I'm headed downstairs to my sewing before I can convince myself that a retreat to the rocking chair and a cherished old book would be a better choice.
The cats have found places to curl up and sleep away the remainder of the afternoon.
It feels like the first real day of autumn in Kentucky.


  1. beautiful quilts! I particularly like the colour scheme in Gina's quilt, those reds are gorgeous. I'm like you, I prefer muted and tertiary colours. I used to put anything and everything into my scrap quilts, but now I am getting a bit more discerning : -)

    1. Kath; Thank you for the compliment on the quilt. I am constitutionally unable to do 'scrap' quilts without colors and patterns coordinating. When I worked at the quilt shop I saw many that put my teeth on edge.
      The several Moda fabric lines that I've worked with this summer are colors I never tire of seeing.

  2. Aaaaahhhh, autumn in Kentucky. It sounds like you are having a peaceful, productive time while you DH is helping his brother.

    I love the quilt you decided to keep for your self. Very pretty!

    Willis is a sweetheart, a great companion, who does occasionally need to nap.

    Love those bright pink cosmos.

    Happy autumn to you ~ Hugs ~ FlowerLady

    1. Lorraine; Isn't Willis just a character! Thank you for affirming my decision to choose a quilt for my 'very own!' I hope you keep some of your lovely creations to enjoy.

  3. You make beautiful quilts, and your guard kitty is so cute and relaxed.

  4. Terra; Thank you! How ever would we manage without our feline assistants!

  5. Another lovely visit to Kentucky.....thank you for sharing your day(s).

    1. Hildred; My days are fairly quiet at this point in life [retirement] and there is a certain pleasure in adjusting some of the hours to my puttery mindset.

  6. Replies
    1. John; Willis is very much his own cat! [A wee bit condescending!]

  7. The Park had its art show today and there were a great number of beautiful quilts -- almost as many as there were paintings. We have had hot dry, fire danger weather this weekend and I can't say I've seen anything of fall yet at all.

    1. Chris; Each summer in Wyoming we lived in a smokey aura of forest fires--some close enough to be alarming. Often the smoke drifted in from hundreds of miles away. The autumn snowfall in the mountains finally quelled the fires.
      Browsing an art show sounds like a lovely way to spend an afternoon.

  8. I love both the quilts, and don't blame you for laying claim to one for yourself for a change. That star layout on Gina's log cabin quilt is eye-catching, and you have such a good way with colours.

    Sounds like you had a lovely time out with Gina the other day - just the sort of thing which would please Tam and I. Gabby has more modern tastes and would soon be bored stiff by "junk"!!! We had a lovely walk along the sands at Swansea recently though.

    I am blowing the dust of my sewing machine today, moving it down to the comfort of the kitchen, and starting on one of the promised Christmas present quilts . . .

    1. Jennie; Peddlers' Mall has a few booths that are a jumble of 'junk'---stuff that couldn't have been attractive even when it was new! I'm drawn to vintage crocks, treenware, and the occasional piece of furniture. There's been a schoolmaster's desk there for some time that I covet.
      Walking along the seashore or a river bank [as long as not over-populated] is a lovely outing. I'm glad you've had time to spend with both your daughters.
      During our years in Vermont my sewing machine made semi-annual moves from an upstairs bedroom [too chilly in winter] to the all purpose table in the dining area. If Jim was away [which he often was] I perched to eat in a tiny corner and then got on with my sewing. I look forward to a 'viewing' of your quilt!

  9. I have always enjoyed time alone, too. Having so much time to do things on your schedule rather than someone else's is appealing.

    Love both of the log cabin quilts.

    1. Lillian; It has long been my belief that people who are interested in crafting and creating are never bored.
      I'm pleased that you like the quilts--Log Cabin arrangements are so versatile.

  10. You astound me with how quickly and beautifully you can make up a quilt. Just bought some Civil War reproduction fabrics and hope to make a small quilt. Log Cabin has always been one of my favorites. Still waiting for Autumn to arrive here. Enjoy your time to yourself!

    1. Jane; I have looked longingly at the Civil War reproduction fabrics--I can't justify adding them to my rather large stash. It seems to me that women of that era, both North and South, must have needed to save and use every scrap they could salvage.
      Log Cabin is one of the simplest quilt blocks to construct as there are no angles or tiny pieces to deal with. It is all straight stitching. The setting variations are what intrigue me.
      I hope you'll display your finished quilt on your blog.

  11. Those quilts are just lovely. Our weather is set to turn tomorrow unfortunately. It's been so warm. Certainly no sign of frost yet. Willis always makes me smile; so similar to my dear old Martin, long gone.

  12. Em; Thank you for your compliment re the quilts. For some reason [which I can't pin down] it delights me to know that you've had the company of a tweedy/tiger cat called Martin. Our pets, past and present, are such a large part of our memory cache of time and place.

  13. Thanks for your comment re my very-easy-and-slightly-wonky quilt top. Your quilt is beautiful. That looks like a lot of cutting but I'll give it some thought. Better wait till I've finished off the one I'm doing, though!

    What is that plant with the red berries? Do you know?

    1. Isabelle; The shrub with the red berries is 'nandina'. It is common here our gardening zone 6--the shiny leaves are evergreen and each year there are fresh clusters of red berries [just now gaining color] which brighten the winter days.
      There is considerable cutting for a Log Cabin quilt. There are quite a number of easily assembled quilts which rely on an arrangement of fairly large squares and rectangles--a faster production.

  14. gorgeous quilting sharon! and gorgeous Willis too, but you knew i'd say that!

    Leanne x

    1. Leanne; Making quilts is my sanity saver! I suspect that our Willis might be your favorite amongst my feline tribe.

  15. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. Oops--I had two blogger windows open and there was a conflict of 'publishing.'

  16. Log cabin was the first quilt I ever made. It was in the 70's and we were very, very short of money. I went to jumble sales and bought cotton clothes and cut them up for the quilt, I almost enjoyed the cutting up, saving zips and buttons etc as much as I did using the fabric.
    That quilt was used to death and finally was used when we needed something to sit on for a picnic. I think I still have it in the back of the cupboard somewhere.
    I love the new header, we call this 'Old man's beard' is it the same in your country? It looks nice with a bit of gold spray paint on it for christmas decoration.

    1. Briony; Log Cabin was one of the first quilts I learned to make using a rotary cutter and speed piecing techniques. I have a quilt in the works using charity shop fabric from cotton shirts--I've bogged down in the project several times, but think it will be the next one finished.
      The plant in the header is Butterfly Weed [asclepias] which is a relative of milkweed. I have seen milkweed pods sprayed with gold or silver and added to dried arrangements--pretty.
      Thank you for your email explaining the geography of your area!