For Grace

I’ve been stitching strips of cloth onto a king size flannel sheet, finally getting back to the bed cover I’m calling my heart’s compass

It’s not exactly a quilt, as there’s no middle layer. And I’m perfectly okay with the stitching that shows on the other side. It’s a combination running/backstitch that I like to call the Texas Two-step …

In other news, we are headed to New Mexico in a couple of weeks. Our first ever visit was in 2014 when we celebrated the 40th anniversary of our first (blind) date. This time around we’ll be celebrating 48 years together. After a week in Albuquerque, Santa Fe, Taos and Abiquiu, we’ll head over to Missouri to see Meliss and her crew.

So fair warning: lots of pictures to come!


The pillow top named Analogous Red turned out to be my favorite …

Not just for how it looks, but for the process of making it. And so I’m now making a table cloth for our 10’ x 3’ dining table, using a too thin cotton table cloth as a base …

and covering it with strips of randomly patched cloth “quilted” down with Texas Two-step stitches …

Meanwhile, Don is outside tending his garden, de-thatching the grass that succumbed to brown patch during the worst of the triple-digit heat …

Behind him, the mealy blue sage (var Henry Duelberg), Texas purple sage, and Lindheimer’s senna bloom in all their glory. Watching as he worked, which he does each and every morning, I couldn’t help thinking of a question posed in Robin Wall Kimmerer’s Braiding Sweetgrass: “Do you feel that your garden loves you back?” Surely his answer would be “yes.”

And here, for the record, is the purple sage before and after a recent, much-needed rain …

along with the joy-full dwarf pomegranate, zexmenia, and American beautyberry,

which has attracted a new-to-us Yellow Breasted Chat …

All the above plantings having been grown within one year of patient care. Nice work Farmer Jones.

Meanwhile, I’ve indulged in some gifts to self. A copy of Hand Sewing Clothing

and a Bissell steam floor cleaner. Which sounds extremely self-indulgent when considering the question “what’s wrong with using a simple mop?” Except that our new-to-us house has a pebbled floor in the shower which is the dickens to clean. Hence the choice of a tool which has a brush that will get the grout clean without the need for cleansers with their vile perfumed scents.

Those noxious scents bring me to a tale of woe (the title of this post being “Random” in order that I might fit this in).

The other day I had the worst mammogram of my life. And you may be excused if you choose not to read further (I am putting this at the end for that reason), but I’ve got to get this off my chest (pun absolutely intended).

The back story is that I have actually had more-or-less annual mammograms since I was 40, scared into it as my mom had invasive breast cancer at age 60. Now 66 years of age, that means I’ve had at least 20, which qualifies me to judge.

The best mammography practitioners are wonders of efficiency, gently but firmly positioning one’s person and body parts, making the procedure little more than an inconvenience with a modicum of discomfort. What I endured last week was not that.

To be sure, the radiologic tech was compassionate and kind. But she was also very inexperienced, the room was warm, and there was an overwhelming degree of dryer sheet fragrance hanging in the air. The word “fug” comes to mind.

The overlong session dragged on and on … “a little more to the right … no back this way … let me know if you’re uncomfortable … you are? I’ll just tighten it a little more … hold on, don’t breathe … okay, there’s a crease, we have to do that one again … you need to sit down first? … are you okay now? … I need to tighten it up some more … have you lost weight recently? … now look over your shoulder and stand up on your toes a little … you’re feeling faint? … that’s never happened before … I should get you some water but I don’t want to leave you alone … (door opening) can someone bring me some cold water? … you don’t think you can do the last image? … that’s never happened before … are you okay if I leave for a minute to check on what to do?”

There was more, but I’m sure you get the idea. Fortunately, I’ve experienced near-fainting before and I know not to be shy about sitting and putting my head down when standing too long in one place makes me break out in a sweat and the world begins to go dark. Fortunately?

The story has a happy ending as an experienced tech stepped in and asked if I felt up to doing the last image from a seated position. I did. She gently but firmly got me positioned and the image was made with no further pain or incipient syncope. And when the inevitable patient survey arrived in my email box, I was honest and wrote “it was the worst mammogram I’ve ever experienced.” Because it was.

Each day many small things

New note: issues continue with the so-called “gallery” pictures in most, but not all, posts.

I just added a blog to the list of Kindred Spirits in the original version of I’m Going to Texas. The author is Paula Kovarik and she recently wrote about her process of patching a cloth together.

Fascinating … and so not me. I’d never have the patience to lay out all those pieces and then put them all together at the end. But also a wicked bit of synchronicity, as I had just finished writing my thoughts in hopes of finding my way to a new piece of patchplay (transcribed below to save you from having to decipher my handwriting) …

Thinking it through: what do I most like to do?

  • tear cloth into random width strips
  • seam folded edges together with whip stitch
  • embroider small patches to hold memory and meaning
  • “quilt” two layers together with Texas Two-step (aka combination stitch)
  • use up thread nest/scrap bin cuttings (aka piece/peace basket, per Sue McQ)

How it might go

  • tear white linen 20” x 40” (or whatever size I end up choosing)
  • turn edges and secure with tailor’s herringbone stitch
  • begin piecing strips of patches, leaving edges raw
  • periodically lay out the strips on linen, turn edges under to finish, leave raw edges to be covered by subsequent rows (pseudo-Kawandi)
  • “quilt” strips with Texas Two-step
  • embroider “whenever”

More thoughts —

  • gather patches into “end of project” groupings
  • appliqué and/or quilt to add detail, variation
  • moons from Glennis (maybe too fragile?)
  • couching strips of seams (like the stitching chair) as part of deconstructing shirts in the cloth bins (I have a lot of thrift store clothing that needs to be broken down)

So maybe a table cloth a la Jude? But now I’m doing the math and thinking, hmmm … the dining room table is 10 feet long by 3 feet wide … plus another foot or so all around for the overhang. Maybe I should just get back to finishing our bed cloth instead …

Of course, if I had planned ahead I wouldn’t be stitch-wrapping all the raw edges. But after considering Judy Martin’s Not To Know But To Go On, I figured yes, I can do this … however long it takes.

I also did some birthday card crafting a la Paul Klee for soon-to-be 8 year old Jace (and yes, it does look like it says “18”) …

And I decided I want to revive my original blog practice of posting successful food forays, much like this one titled Salad Days from 2009. I can’t hope to rival Deb G’s food photos, but for the record here’s today’s lunch, which I’m calling Waldorf My Way …

Of course, I forgot to include the scallions in the first picture and the mayo in the second picture. Nonetheless, this new version sans apples was an improvement on my memories of the Waldorf Salads of the 1960s that were dressed with straight mayo and included raisins (sorry, not a fan). Making a fresh vinaigrette with just a bit of mayo for creaminess was a good substitution.