Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Meet Your New York SAQA Rep: ME!

That's right!  I'm the SAQA rep for the New York region as of this week. Woo hoo!

My primary goal as rep: get the region moving again.  How? Implement plans is to do some fun stuff together and build community.  Be on the lookout for a regional newsletter in the next few weeks with more details.

I hope you'll join me in reinvigorating our region.    My email inbox is always open for suggestions, comments, feedback, you name it.  You can reach me at my private email address vjzepf@gmail.com or my official SAQA rep email address: newyork@saqa.com

I'm looking forward to the fun!

Friday, August 17, 2018

More Maps

Tomorrow I hit the road again, this time with our youngest.  It's back-to-school time.  (Bummer. I've loved having her home.)  

In the last month and a half, I will have driven more than 3,500 miles.  That's the same as flying from New York to London.  Of course, I didn't do it all at once, but still.  It's sort of fun to think of it from that perspective.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

The Quilt Police

It's raining and I can't go outside.

I've tackled my studio clean-up.  All the fabric that was lying about has been sorted, folded and put away.  The design wall has been cleared to make room for the current project.


Yes, the ugly quilt blocks are off my table and on the wall.  I've decided this will be my next project.   I thought I could piece it without worrying about making a masterpiece.


I am the Quilt Police.  They are me.

Apparently I can't quite let my hair down, even on a quilt I don't have a strong attachment to, that I think is rather funny looking.  I still want seams to line up and points to be sharp.   I have zero problem with mismatched seams from others. In fact, I often admire other makers' piecing freedom. It's just not me.  Now, that's not saying everything's perfect.  But I have already ripped out several seams to make a block better.  Yep, I am the Quilt Police, for my own work.

There could be worse things / habits, I guess.  And, looking on the bright side, it's good prep for working on the Lone Start quilt, and a few other items I have in mind, that require a bit more finesse and care.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Double Red Donation

Yesterday, I gave blood.  There's a blood shortage, as there is almost every summer.

When I checked in, I've never know anyone to be so happy about my height and weight.  You see, if you're of a certain height and weight, you can give what's called "Double Red" or "Power Red" donation.  That means a special machine will extract double the amount of red blood cells -- two units worth -- from your blood, but it returns your plasma and platelets, plus a bit of saline.  Since red blood cells are the most frequently needed element of blood transfusions, this doubles the donation's potential impact.  I didn't know this was an option.

If you're in good health and haven't travelled anywhere truly off the grid in the last three years, please consider making a donation.  Here's a link to upcoming blood drives in the New York area if you're interested.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

What Next?

Do you ever ask yourself, "Hey, whatever happened to that quilt I was working on?  Do I even still have it?"

This morning I bypassed the piles of fabric that should have been put away, in favor of rooting through my drawers for unfinished quilt tops.


The layout to come.  Right now I'm calling it Donuts and Donut Holes
There's one!  I started this quilt top by taking wonky vintage blocks, cutting them apart, and re-piecing them in a new and smoother arrangement.  I have two more large "donut" blocks to make so the bottom row will have a donut > donut hole > donut pattern. I was planning to insert white fabric everywhere you can see my white felt design wall.  Size will be dictated by how many old blocks I have left to cut up. I don't think there are enough to add an additional row.

Here's a close up of one of the squared up large donut blocks.  I love the irregular seams within the square shape.

A close-up of a donut
As I rooted around, I came across some quilt blocks I had completely forgotten about, plus a shoe box filled with half square triangles and four patches to make more. They were even all ironed and flat.

Completed blocks laid out on my table.  Can someone please remind me of the name of this block arrangement?
I think my objective for this quilt had been to use as many remnants of fabric as I could from my stash, trying especially hard to use novelty fabric I'd been gifted and wouldn't otherwise use.  Some of the bits are lovely.  However, there are quite a few that are .... BLECH!  This is, quite possibly, the beginnings of one of the ugliest quilts ever.

Finally! The quilt that popped into my head last night. The one I wondered / hoped I could find.

A Lone Star quilt, not looking too shabby after having been folded and away for a while
There it is!  Folded and, somehow, not smashed.   The left side (as we face it) has been sewn on.  I discovered the already-cut bit for the right side.  But I remember I didn't know what to do next since I didn't have enough of the background material to make top and bottom borders.

So now the big question is, What to Work on Next?  There are pros and cons of each.
#1: PROS:  There's not to much sewing left to do to finish it
      CONS:  I just finished a quilt with a white background
                   Now I'm not sure this layout is interesting enough

#2: PROS: Lots of the parts are already done
                  It doesn't need to be perfect
                  I don't care if it ends up on the floor in my
                      daughter's college dorm room. Could be of use to her
      CONS:  It's really ugly.  Can I stay engaged?

#3: PROS: This one has jogged my memory.  Should I ignore that?
      CONS: I might have to re-learn Y seams.
                  This one might involve more care and thought than I have
                         the mental energy for right now.

Thoughts?  Suggestions? What should I work on next?

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Hydrangea: Who Knew?

I've often wondered about my hydrangea bushes.  They can't seem to decide what color they'd like to be when they grow up.  See the lavender and pink flowers?

Well, that's not accurate. Correction: there are purple and pink sepals on the same cluster.  Sepals are modified leaves. It turns out that hydrangea flowers aren't flowers at all.  

Who knew?

I've always thought that hydrangea color is related to the pH levels in the soil.  But that doesn't entirely explain how there can be multiple colors in one cluster.  I decided to dig (HA!) deeper.

The reason for the different colorations is a biochemical reaction involving aluminum ions bonding with the various ions in acidic or basic soils, such as hydroxide or calcium hydroxide. The resultant ion combinations interact with the pigment in the sepals, with different results from basic and acidic combinations.

How much pigment is changed, and with what ions, is the factor that influences color since, it's been discovered, the pH level of each individual sepal is the same, regardless of the color.  pH isn't what changes the color.  Aluminum ion levels do the trick.

Who knew?

If you'd like to learn more, here's an article from American Scientist that explains it all.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

A Side Trip to Wyoming

I traveled to Wyoming after spending a bit of time in California with my oldest.  I was heading out to meet our younger daughter who had been working at a wilderness, backpacking, and riding camp outside of Dubois, Wyoming, the town which has the most remote post office in the continental United States.  It's one and a half hours east of the Grand Tetons.  Letters from New York to camp take seven full business days to arrive.  The camp entrance is along a road that's often closed well into the spring due to dangerous weather-related road conditions.  Moose and pronghorn antelope graze around camp, sometimes wandering through the cabin and tent clusters.

A view on the way to camp
Some have asked why my daughter -- a suburban girl -- wanted to be stuck in the wild for weeks.  Well, as the infirmary assistant, she was getting great experience.  Right now she'd like to go into medicine and this is in keeping with that plan.  Also, this quote, which she wrote on one of the infirmary white boards, sums up her feelings well.

Despite some of the hardships of the job, she loved it.  She even trained with Guardian Flight to assist in the event of a helicopter med-evac.  Regrettably, she had to leave after seven weeks. She's received advance organic chemistry and genetics school work to do, as well as some online training for her lab job that starts in the fall.  At camp, there's no wifi or cell service, so remote learning wasn't an option.  She had to leave early.  Tears were shed.  She loved the people and the adventure.  But she knew she had to come home.

We had an extra day to explore before heading back to New York and decided to visit Yellowstone.  We had a great day, including a close encounter with a bison.  (I posted this on social media, but I'll share here as well.)

There once was a bison who liked to play follow-the-leader in traffic. All the cars would line up behind him. One day, he saw a dirty red car on the other side of the road and decided to investigate. He got very close to the car so he could look into the window to see who was driving. “Ah”, he said, “Vivien’s driving. I’ll hang here a moment to chat.” For once in her life, Vivien was speechless. He got bored and moved on. The End. #yellowstone #giggledhystericallywhenhehleft

Playing follow-the-leader
Getting closer  
                                        He's right next to the car, close enough to touch (but I didn't)
We saw some of Yellowstone's incredible, bizarre, and beautiful sights.  

A glimpse behind the Upper Terrace in Mammoth Hot Springs

Biscuit Basin

A u-turn in the Yellowstone River
Yes, that's a grizzly digging for grubs.  It's fuzzy because my lens isn't strong enough to get closer .
It'll do; I wasn't getting closer!
The day ended with a dramatic storm over the Tetons. The winds whipped across the fields and the lighting positively crackled.  One large, thick bolt reached down from heaven and danced on the tip of the Grand Teton, the tallest mountain in the range. 

You can see the storm coming in from the left
The rain eventually fell so heavily it obscured the mountains
A lovely view as the rain cleared
After three weeks on the road, I'm home.  It's been fantastic, but I'm very glad to be sleeping in my own bed and using my own washing machine.  After a chance to see America in its infinite variety, I'm refreshed and restored, ready to tackle the stacks of mail and chores that piled up while I was gone.  Bring it on.