Thursday, July 21, 2011

Ready for the Fair

I finally made something out of those Dresden plates.  Well, I made two somethings--and I still have several plates left over, plus a ziploc bag full of blades.  Anywhoo, on to the finished products:

I used five of the smaller plates to make this table runner.  I was thinking about entering it in the Grange Fair this year, but my lack of patience won out.  I wanted to be finished with the binding, so I stitched in the ditch instead of hand-stitching.  I really feel like it should be hand-stitched to enter it in the fair.

But I really love it.  I love how pretty my table looks.  And I don't even mind that I've already spilt coffee on it, because I know it's the first of years' worth of spills that this table runner is going to see.

I used a thrifted sheet for the back.
Now that quilt?  I did hand stitch the binding on the back.  'Cause this one is going to the fair.

Let me be clear: there are mistakes in the quilt.  My free-motion quilting is full of irregular stitches and meandering straight lines.  And I harbor no delusions of this quilt's winning.  Believe me, I have seen the winners in years past, and they are magnificent.  I do this for fun. Last year when we walked into the exhibition hall, we saw my quilt on display, and the kids got all excited (I did too).  The Grange fair is quickly becoming the highlight of our August.  Now I have to start tweaking my cookie and cake entries!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Re-Entry, or a Late Start

We've never gone on vacation this early in the summer.  We usually go in late July or mid-August.  This year, we left just two weeks after the kids got out of school, and during that time I felt like I was just marking days off the calendar until our departure.

We're back, and it feels like our summer can begin in earnest.  I wonder, are we re-entering or just starting?  I'm opting for just starting.  A shorter summer will be that much sweeter.

Now we can establish our rhythm of library visits, afternoons at the pool, late dinners, and baked goods made by committee.  The 4-H fair catalog arrived Tuesday, and the eleven-year-old is eager and persistent about beginning her first fair entry--a quilt.  I have two potential fair entries of my own that are in different stages of completion, so sharing my machine, ironing board and creative space will become part of my days for the next few weeks.

But just as some of us have jumped with both feet into new endeavors, there are still loose ends from vacation to tie up.  Our laundry pile is not a mountain so much as an entire range.  My trip to the laundromat on our return date gave me a good start, but in the days since then, the kids have already re-worn and soiled about half the clothes I washed.  Our laundry is further complicated by some unwanted souvenirs we brought home: head lice.  Sheets, towels, pillows and blankets have become part of the daily cleaning routine this week.

I remind myself that this is temporary.  The microscopic egg sacs will eventually all be found and removed, and our hair will not stink forever from tea tree oil shampoo.  One day soon I can stop vacuuming the couch, and the kids will be allowed to sit on it without donning a shower cap first.

Of course, they don't really need to be on the couch since I haven't allowed them to watch TV in three days.  I'm calling it "Unplugged Summer," and they claim to hate me for it.  I know I'm supposed to guide them in their show selection and help them moderate their viewing habits, but it's just so much easier on me to ban the TV outright.  Computer and Wii are also included in this ban.  The mind-numbing effect of any kind of screen on them is disturbing, and although I watched TV pretty much whenever I wanted during the summer when I was a kid, it was different.  I had to be at swim team practice twice a day (my kids don't).  I spent several hours a day at the pool in between those practices (my kids don't).  And although we had cable "back in the day," it looked nothing like the cable selection of 2011.  I did not have on-demand access to a library of programs.

So I find myself reluctantly unplugged, since leading by example is the only way to go on this.  My computer time is going to be much more limited this summer, and my posting will be like I hope my children's screen habits will become--limited and intentional.

I have many things from our trip to share, but I'm going to savor the details and take my time writing them down.  In the meantime, we'll be at home adjusting to a slower pace and soaking in as much summer as we can.