Sunday, October 29, 2006

Bye bye kitties

This is what our hills looked like yesterday. You can hardly see any evidence of fire. Just a little smoke if you know where to look. It is so much more dramatic at night, don't you think?

The fires have died down quite a bit. We have our nice blue sky back and we can breathe much easier.

Today I caught the fire fighting bulldozers going home. They could be Caterpillars or Deere, I don't know. I call them kitties just to make Chase go crazy. Their flatbed trailers along with the cabs and little trucks that carry the "wide load" signs had been parked at the end of our street for several days now. They did a good job and now they can go home. Thank you CDF (California Department of Forestry).

You know, I was slightly irritated earlier this summer when the local water company contracted with somebody to clear the dry brush off their land that abuts our back fence. It ruined the view of the wilderness in my and my neighbors' opinion. It no longer looked like one might see a zebra or giraffe strolling around among the grass and trees in the riverbed. They did not just disc the grass, they cleared it completely. They even dug huge holes in which to bury the brush. They kept going over it again and again for days. I thought maybe they were going to build a golf course or houses or something down there. I'm not irritated anymore. Of course. Now I'm glad they built such a good fire break on their land. It makes me feel a lot more secure since the Indians don't seem to be very competent to patrol their land which is just beyond that of the water company.

It seems that all the rabbits that lived in the brush are now in our back yard eating everything. The rabbits drive Chase and Brig wild when they see them out the back door. I will have to reinstall the Nestle's cookie poster over the glass in the door to obscure their view and restore peace in the evening. I've made a point of keeping the bird feeders full for all the displaced birds. I have been able to identify several that I have not seen around here before. Even though it doesn't look as nice as before, the wild life have been driven closer to us and thus are more visible. Even the coyotes sound a lot closer.

They made the firebreak very smooth but hard to walk on. It is dry, powdery, sandy dirt that isn't so smooth when one gets right down to it. It is all huppy-duppy. It gets inside one's sandals and between the toes and is gritty. I don't like to wear hiking shoes when it is so warm. Our old paths to the riverbed were obliterated when they cleared all that brush. The dogs and I will need to tramp them out again but I will wear more substantial shoes. Maybe I'll do that once the rains start.

I wonder if it would be okay to sow some wildflower seeds out there?

Friday, October 27, 2006

Ashes, ashes all fall down

Well, we have as good as a front row seat to this fire, the Esperanza fire they call it. I don't care to get any closer. According to the news reports, it started less than ten miles from our house. Poppet Flats is about seven miles NE as the crow flies.

We woke up to the strong smell of a brush fire. It seemed strangely overcast--kind of an eerie yellow light. Da listens to the radio every morning and it had already burned some 8oo acres in five hours. We went on with our normal routines. Da had a doctor's appointment in Riverside so we drove in. Now it is at 1000 acres. It was weird to drive into cleaner air. It usually is much clearer here at home than down in Riverside, smogwise. They had blue skies and sunshine. A very nice day, really. Driving back home it was ominous looking. The "overcast" was almost a chocolate color, kind of like milky hot cocoa. The ventilation system in our car worked so well it was a surprise to get out of the car in our garage and breathe that stuff. We had no idea it had gotten that strong. Now 8000 acres were burnt. We had asked Chuggy to keep us updated as to the danger to our area when we left. No news was good news.

Looking directly east of us, Mount San Jacinto had disappeared into the smoke. Now 10,000 acres.

In the daylight we couldn't see much because of the smoke. As the sun went down and it got dark we could see where the fires were blazing. A deep orange glow behind our hills made it seem like the sun had set directly to the north of us. Only this "sunset" didn't grow dimmer. And it wasn't just in one spot. If you imagine north to be twelve o'clock, the "sunset" covered the swath from ten o'clock to one o'clock. When we drove to the end of our street on the way to meeting we could see the actual flames in the distance. Just the short time out at meeting was enough to make us get scratchy throats.

All day yesterday and today a very light snow seemed to be falling. It was the ashes. They just drifted down ever so lightly and seemed to disappear. Everything got a little gritty feeling. I found some caught in a spider web.
It was so strange to be hearing of the fierce winds that were fanning these flames as we had a very calm day. No wind at all, not even a breeze. That was a good thing, too. Later in the evening, on the news, I learned that in the beginning of this fire, Hemet had been threatened. Guess who lives on the northeast edge of Hemet? There is only wilderness and the Soboba Indian reservation between us and the conflagration. Over 24,000 acres burned now. This thing has really moved.

It is dark again and I just went out to check on the progress of these flames. I thought the wind had driven it to the west, and it had. But there is a flareup NE of us, in the direction of Poppet Flats, near the source of the fire--and closer, too. Our hills are not supposed to be this color. It is scary. And much too close for me.

Now 39,900 acres.

At least there doesn't seem to be any wind here yet.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Ladybug's birthday

Happy Birthday to Ladybug!

Don't fret, we are all close behind you.

Sunday, October 22, 2006


As promised, here are the pictures of the triple Irish chain quilt that I just finished. It was a hit at the general shower. People just oohhed and aahhed over it so I guess it is not as funny looking as I had feared. Or maybe everyone was just being polite and didn't want to hurt my feelings. Either way the bride-to-be and her mom sure liked it so I guess that is all that matters. The bride's mother said that the bride already has a navy dust ruffle and navy pillow shams. I think that is what is missing in my mind. My pale bed skirt just doesn't help. I can see how it could be very striking with the navy background and accent pieces so I think this quilt is redeemed in my eyes. It really needs the toning influence of navy blue. Now that is all the incentive I need to go ahead and make some matching throw pillows. They will be for the personal shower for the bride. I know, not very personal, but she can throw them.


Thursday, October 19, 2006

We missed it

We are back from Springfield.

I thought we would get in on the fall colors. Nope. They were just getting started as we left. Oh well. Another time, maybe.

The squirrels were active with the acorns, though.

I have to get everything unpacked as soon as I walk in the door or I find that things are still not unpacked a week later. That meant that I was up until 2 am. That is not bad considering that I am usually up at that time anyway. But this was different. My body was still on Central time so it was really 4 am to me. And I tried really hard to be up early for Emby's sake while back there, so it really felt like 4 am does to everyone else. Add in the fact that I had gotten up at 7:30 CTD which would be 5:30 am here, and we had a delay in the puddle-jumper first leg of our trip which made us miss all the connecting extra four hours in the SFO airport and I was exhausted. So there. We finally got home around 11 pm. It seems that my body likes to be on CDT because I am finding it hard to stay up until my normal bedtime of 3 am. Jet lag is good for something--like making me write convolutedly.

The bags are all unpacked and in the garage. The laundry is done and a few groceries are bought. The checks that were in the mail are now in the bank. I even made it all the way down to Walmart to get the newest expansion pack for my Sims. Its for Pets! In my weariness, I purchased some clothes there, too. I will need Kedge or Ladybug to tell me if they are okay. That was yesterday.

Today, Da and I compiled a few verses and hymns to put in large print on cards for Papa. He is so very tired that he feels ill and gets fearful after a bit of exertion like coughing. Reminding him of his favorite hymns really calms him down. The trouble is remembering them ourselves. Before we left Springfield, I went through his old Bible and noted some of his favorite verses. Those, and some peaceful ones are the ones I put on cards for him. He can't read fine print.

We took him out to eat one day, but that over tired him way too much. Then we brought in his favorite meal from KFC and they forgot his mashed potatoes and gravy. Arrgg. Grrrrr. Otherwise, he is doing well. His memory of things is mostly long term. His short term memory is gone. He sleeps a lot and doesn't do mornings. He's my kind of guy.

I am back to blogging. Where is everyone else?

Monday, October 09, 2006

Going to Springfield

I may not be here for a week. Da and I are going for our yearly visit to Springfield, Illinois. October is our favorite time back there. The summer humidity and heat are gone and the winter chill has not set in yet. It looks like we will get to see the fall colors at their peak this year, too. Sometimes we miss them, one can never really predict them that well. I always look forward to seeing them anyway. I'm taking my camera just in case.

More importantly, we also have relatives to see. Papa is 106 and a half! He reminds me of the energizer bunny--he keeps going and going and going. Da's sister, Emby, is there also. We will spend a lot of time with her, I'm sure. She knows Springfield very well, as well she should as she has lived there most of her life. Maybe I can get her blogging, too.

Emby's daughter and her husband live nearby, too. We won't see them this trip because he has recently retired and they are having fun traveling. He tells such tales out of school. You'd be amazed and amused at what a high school principal puts up with.

This will be a bittersweet trip, though. Papa has been in an assisted living facility for a year now and we are to start getting his house ready for sale. He has lived in Springfield all of his life and in only three houses, too. He was born in one in 1900. When he married in 1925 he moved to his second house and, shortly before he retired, in 1964 he moved to this house. There are a lot of memories there. Thankfully, that branch of the family doesn't exhibit any pack rat tendencies.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Triple Irish chain quilt

The triple Irish chain quilt that Gramma and I were working on is now done, or almost. I just have to cover the seams in the back where I sewed the panels together. I'll do that tonight after I make potatoes for ADM. I told Gramma I would get it done before I left for Springfield, and I did. I would post pictures but I don't know if the intended recipient sees this blog and I don't want to ruin any surprise. I'm not very happy with it, though, because it is very busy and the quilt pattern gets lost in the fabric. After this experience I have decided to take the advice of another quilter and not work on quilts unless I have full say in the fabric selection and pattern. That way I won't be stuck spending hours on something that I really don't like. I'll post pictures later in the month and you can tell me what you think.


Thursday, October 05, 2006


Happy Birthday to Kedge!

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Double Pinwheel Quilts

I said I would do it and I did. Whew! This project is finished.

I started work on these quilts August 18 by going to a class. Gramma and Ladybug were going to do it, too, but they decided not to. I think Ladybug had too much on her plate at the time. See Camp Chaos.The first class session was a little confusing and I think that deterred Gramma. I was determined to learn something new.

The first assignment was to choose, buy and pre-shrink the fabric. Then we had to do a paste-up of the quilt block. That is just for archiving and reference. It helps to have a "finished" idea of what is supposed to happen.

See the different pinwheels turn in opposite directions.

The second class session we started cutting the strips. I had to finish at home. Notice the risers on the table legs. Lenie, the instructor recommended them. She told us they were on sale at the local hardware store if you had a coupon. I ran home and dug my coupon out of the recycling bin. They sure were nice in preventing back pain and strain from bending and cutting so much.

Lots and lots of strips.

I cut 96 strips in all.

Chase helped.
Then I sewed two strips together. Next, I put two sets of strips face to face and proceeded to cut them into squares.
Lots and lots of squares
--288 double layered squares, to be exact. (Give or take a few.)

Brig kept me company.
Now the fun part. I sewed two parallel seams diagonally through each square. Then I cut between the seams and pressed the seams open. Voila!
Two very different squares with perfect triangles and matching points. This was so cool.
A little trimming off of points was in order. Why I didn't use my handy pink waste can that you see in many of my pictures, I don't know. I must like to vacuum, or something. I also don't know why I didn't take any pictures of the blocks being sewed together. Even the backside of the blocks was cool. To get the seams to lay flat I had to form cute, little, tiny pinwheels on the back. I wish I had a picture.
I guess I was on a roll.

The last class session I took advantage of the large tables and helping hands to get the quilt tops layered and centered and pinned onto the batting and backing. I also just had to take both the quilt tops to the last class to show them off to the instructor and the rest of the students. They were impressed. I think it was the most ambitious project in the class. Some people do small projects like wall hangings or lap robes to learn on. Not me. I do two, co-ordinating twin size quilts. That's me, ever competitive.

Above you see me trying to do the actual quilting. Except there was nowhere for me to sit because the quilt was in the way. Oh well.

I finished Smile Guy's first. He got it three days after his birthday.
Then I finished Marsh-
mallow's. He got his today, almost six months after his birthday.

Each quilt has 35 blocks in it. I had two extra blocks to make little pillows for the guys to throw at each other.

Thanks, guys, for accepting my learning project. I'm quite pleased with it.

p.s. Happy Birthday, En!