Saturday, January 25, 2014


We are still in the Polar Vortex, like much of the country.  Last Sunday we had balmy temps of 30 degrees, sun, no snow, no wind.  We fled the house on a wonderful visit to nearby Wauwatosa, WI, suburb of Milwaukee for a dinner out.  We walked down a charming street filled with small businesses and shops, and I stopped in amazement to see two big old-fashioned store front windows in a dry cleaner's store filled completely with pots of geraniums, blooming, growing, blossoming in the afternoon sun.
What a complete treat, a luxury to behold in the middle of the frozen winter with sun once a week if we are lucky, and snow and cold almost every day.  The flowers must have been on the sidewalk outside for all of last summer, and then brought in to flourish through the winter in the windows.  The owner saved them, loved them enough to keep them going thru the winter and let us, those who walked by or came in for business, delight in their beauty.  All those shades of pink, rose, red, white! 
Note the gloomy, snowy, bleak landscape behind me in the photo, and our reflections too, all bundled up, trudging along.  Sigh.
We saw a mini library outside too, next time I'll get a photo of that, they are so charming.  The old shoe store but with modern Clark's in the window, and real moccasins, love that one too.  The chocolate shop, the bakery with incredible confections.  Then we arrived at Balistreri's Italian restaurant, one of our favorite local places, for yummy pizza.  We experienced Christmas all over again with the holiday décor, and spent a very enjoyable time, eating delicious thin crust melt-in-your-mouth real pizza. 
We're headed to way below zero again, and the icy ferns on my window will reappear, just another winter window for me to enjoy. 
I think I spoke too soon about enjoying the treasure hunt in my new Windows 8 computer, eeeeek!  I am finding it so frustrating not to get my old menus, not to be able to easily find and do things, but it is getting better as I conquer this.  I do like the slide shows of the photos from the App screen, much like those in tablets.
I reached my breaking point last week trying to print a coupon for the office store.  It was a pdf attachment and showed on a black screen.  No matter what, no menu, no right click, no way to say "PRINT."  Finally I read the Help topics and did a Screen Shot, saved it, and could print that from the little file folder system on my taskbar.  Well, it printed the entire black APP screen plus the coupon, which I did take with me to show my tech guy and ask how to do it.  He didn't know, and they all laughed at my using half an ink cartridge to get the coupon........grrrrr.  I had to laugh too.
I figured it out now; I hook up my old Windows 7 Netbook I used for travel, open the email and coupon in that, click Print, and out it comes on white paper, perfect.  There must be a better way.........
Then I get an email from HP telling me they will soon have new laptops with Windows 7!  Ah, too late.
Hope you are surviving winter, it's a bad one for the entire country.  I am glad I am not driving to teaching gigs, or the airport at 5 a.m. on dicey roads. 
Today I was organizing my photos, writing an article for American Quilter Magazine, and found the one, below, of my window in the room I often had at Asilomar where I taught for several years.  I loved that window.  I could relax after class and before dinner and evening events, feel the cool ocean air, smell the Monterey pines, and just "be." 
Soon I hope to crank up my trusty Bernina and do a bit of quilting.  I think Oliver would like to be back in "that room" again, looking out his two front windows, watching the world go by!
Keep quilting; don't let the cold grey days stop you.  Your work gets better every day...

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Happy 2014!

Oliver and I survived the holidays, napped through New Year's, and are now huddled finding warmth in the Polar Vortex that has overtaken the country.  Yesterday it was -14 when I took this photo of Oliver in his favorite cardboard box by the front door where he watches and stalks birds and squirrels at the bird seed I put out. 
Today it is supposed to hit zero degrees, and I might venture out for coffee, cat food, and bird seed!
Happy New Year to all of you, and best wishes for great quilting this year.  I hope to get back to giving you some ideas and tips soon. 
I am now working on my brand new laptop (a total impulse purchase for me, not at all typical) and have been rocketed into the new age of all things geeky.  Fixing DH's computer, system restores, installing all sorts of things that took forever to get back to normal, including a new WiFi router that gave me fits but is humming away now and not crashing and blinking and melting down - all this has been my daily routine for the past two weeks!  My new friends are the guys who help me out in the tech department.  The end may be in sight I think.  A few loose ends to tie, and I shall be freed from tech stuff.
It didn't take me long to get used to Windows 8 and I must say I am enjoying the treasure hunt to find where files are now stored, how to do the things I used to do without thinking, but it is all getting very easy and it is fun, not stressful.  I still need to get my photo program downloaded and then my old laptop will be cut free, to relax and enjoy its much-deserved retirement. 
And I have Apps.  I love my weather App.  The background photos look like my view out the window.  It can "find my location" and tells me everything and more about my weather. 
I've liked seeing all the holiday quilting projects and photos on Facebook, and pet photos too.  I know quilters are busy as always being creative.
We had our little Charlie Brown faux Christmas tree again, decorated with birds, nests, and real nests blown down in the yard that I have saved over the years.  I added clear lights and my collection of crystal ornaments, and it was beautiful.
Oliver took several days to "notice" that the new thing blocking his view out the window had BIRDS perched in it.  Every night at 9:30  he sat on the old Singer treadle next to it and gazed at it for a long time before gently reaching out and swiping one bird or nest off and onto the floor.  In the a.m. when I was having coffee he did the same thing.  The victims were then placed in the greenery on the mantel, out of his reach.  It was a game with us, and he ignored the crystal ornaments and never toppled the tree.  He is four years old and has developed civilized sensibilities. 
Below, a hazy photo of him gazing at his tree.
I hope your year is filled with lights and crystal and wonder, and quilting always.  Stay warm......