Saturday, December 31, 2005

Soggy in Sonoma County

No, this isn't a local lake, its the Russian River flooding, but still a few hours and feet shy of cresting. That should happen tonight sometime in the wee hours.

Hubby and I were scheduled to drive to Chico to celebrate the New Year with Cousins Lori and Bob. Anyone who has ever visited Sonoma County knows that the ways in and out are limited. Our main arterial, Hwy 101 is a traffic nightmare and to be avoided at all costs. That leaves traversing the Napa Valley at either the top (Calistoga-Middletown-Clearlake) or the bottom (Napa via Sonoma). In clear and nice weather, Calistoga is do-able but very, very curvy and not for the carsick prone. Sonoma/Napa is easily done, but feeds into I-80 near Vacaville and can also be a traffic nightmare many times.

We opted to try Calistoga and encountered flooding, mudslides and large amounts of debris in the roads. After 15 minutes of white knuckling on my part, we opted off the road and rather than head directly home, we headed up towards the Russian River to see how high the river was getting (see above).

My heart goes out to the Guerneville residents being forced out of their homes. It takes a special personality to live in West Sonoma County and they always take the brunt of our storms. Towns only 20 miles west of Santa Rosa proper can get half again as much rain as we do and the clay soil is easily saturated resulting in mudslides.

Keep the good thoughts coming for these good folks.

Friday, December 23, 2005

I got tagged!

Lynn (BigFatLiberal) did it to me.
I got tagged.
Had to really think about some of these things and yes, Lynn, I'm using your format:

7 things to do before I die:
1. Go back to the UK and see it all
2. Take a train across Canada
3. Learn to draw
4. Read the classics
5. Live someplace where I can use public transportation or walk everywhere
6. Watch my grandson (and any new grands to come) grow up
7. Do more volunteer work

7 things I can't do:
1. Say "no" easily
2. Lose weight
3. Learn to like modern art
4. Sports or anything requiring physical coordination
5. Rapid hand-eye tasks like video games
6. Tolerate snobs and bigots
7. Play any type of musical instrument

7 things that attract me to blogging:
1. Gives me a place to show my quilts
2. A place to show off my family
3. Because everyone's entitled to my opinion
4. I like to read others' blogs and get to know them
5. I'm more of a reader than poster because others say it so well
6. I get to share my love of books
7. Getting to know new people

7 things I say most often:
1. "Gawd I hate that SOB" when watching the Preznit
2. Gator stop it! (to my dog)
3. I can make that!
4. ....and then you woke up
5. I need to go to the fabric store
6. Darlin!
7. Seeya

7 books I love:
1. Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry (anything he writes)
2. Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks
3. Jitterbug Perfume by Tom Robbins
(anything he writes)
4. La Cucina: A Novel of Rapture by Lily Prior
5. The Samurai's Garden by Gail Tsukiyama
6. House of the Spirits by Isabelle Allende
(anything she writes)
7. The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingolver (anything she writes)
Only 7?????

7 movies I watch over and over:
1. The Shop Around the Corner
2. Airport
3. The Day the Earth Stood Still
4. Bridget Jones's Diary
5. The Mortal Storm
6. Rebecca
7. Dirty Harry

7 people I want to join in too
1. Greyhair
2. Mister B
3. Quiltgranny
4. Qultville
5. ?
6. ?
7. ?

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

More Sew A Row

Here's another installment of the Sew-A-Row quilts from guild this year. Being a Halloween afficionado, I was lusting after this one, big time, but alas, I didn't win it.

Sharon F. started with the bug jars, followed by Lynn W. and her bats. Joanie B. did the cats, I did Drac, the Mummy and Frankie and Pat M. did the pumpkins. Lucky Pat won it. Rats.

This was probably the most fun one to work on because I had more ideas for it and I may pursue Halloween as the topic of this year's starter row.

To the right is the Chicken quilt. Pat M. started this one with the sunshine and it was to be modeled after a pattern by someone who spoke at Moonlighter's last year. (Can't remember her name) I did the second row using a chickn plate print appliqued onto the chickenwire fabric. The third person bailed, so I did that row as well, using printer fabric to include chicken and egg sayings on egg shapes, and I can't remember who did the final row. I didn't win this one, thankfully, as I was all "chickened out."

The Japanese quilt was started by Angie, who did the Square in a Square boxes. Sharon and Lynn also worked on this--I did the fans and Angie won it. I really liked this one and wouldn't have minded winning it, either. Oh well, maybe next year.

The Sew-A-Row has really been fun and I need to get cracking on my row for 2006 or Phyllis is gonna be all over me!

Sunday, December 11, 2005

2005 Sew A Row

Thanks to the superb organizational skills of Phyllis G., we just finished a Round Robin project for the year 2005 at the Santa Rosa Quilt Guild. Interested members submitted a row of blocks that was 24" to 36" wide. When the initial row was submitted, four people could sign up to add rows and we were each given a two month rotation to complete our work. At our December meeting, each participant was assigned a number based on which rotation she took and a die was rolled to determine who won the finished top.

To the left is the row I started with the dorky gingerbread men. I bought a cookie cutter and traced it, but should have gone with my original idea of just drawing one. Oh well.

I know that Pat M. did the mitten row, but I'm not sure who else worked on this one.

The project to the right was started by my friend Joanie with the big dog faces. Betty surrounded it with the dog paw prints and I added the paper pieced dog houses with dogs printed on them.

The Sew A Row project, like any round robin, is a great way for me to trade work with other quilters, and to stretch myself as a quilter. Since I never know when I sign up what will be delivered to us (other than the project I start and the project on whick I add row #2), it is a challenge to add something that will coordinate and yet add a new technique or element.

We are now starting rows for next year, but more of 2005 later.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Ho Ho Ho

I submit the Eighteen Year Christmas Quilt. A sampler quilt I started in a class at Diane's Fabrics in Reno, NV (later Log Cabin Calicoes) in September, 1979. My teacher was Marilyn Fashbaugh who later purchased the store with her partner Joyce Ganser.

Taking the class with me was a gal named Rochelle Summers, whose daughter Kirsten was a week older than my daughter Kate (both were 18 months old at the time). We became good quilting buddies and were the first employees hired by Marilyn and Joyce when they took over the shop.

I began this quilt as a Christmas Quilt for Kate as suggested by an issue of Quilter's Newsletter Monthly, a special quilt to be brought out only at the Christmas season. I finished the top in good time and set it on my room sized frame to quilt, but then life kind of got in the way.

No sooner was the quilt in the frame than I discovered I was pregnant again. Time to hand piece and quilt a welcoming for my new son! Soon, having a toddler and a new baby really cut into the quilting time and I removed the quilt from the frame and continued to quilt it as time allowed.

Not even a year after my son's birth, his father and I divorced and I moved the kids back to Visalia, CA and quilting time became even more scarce as I went back to school and entered the work force. A second marriage, step-parenting, many baby quilts to be made for friends and family, another divorce, a remarriage (more on that later) and fast forward to 1997.

I finally finish the blinking quilt and present it to my daughter at my new mother-in-law's house on Christmas Eve. She is dumfounded and immediately snuggles under it on the sofa. I believe she's had it on her bed ever since.

The label for the quilt reads:

Seasons come and seasons go,
And I've been very slow, I know.
But I've been busy and feel no guilt;
For this, your eighteen year old quilt!
"Life is what happens when you are making other plans"- John Lennon
Made for Kate Aileen Gibson
With love by Jan Aileen Brackett Andrews
Septemer 1979 to December 1997

After I finish my girlfriend Maureen's 50th birthday/Christmas quilt, Mr.B. is next. I don't anticipate an 18 year wait for either of them!

Saturday, November 26, 2005

A Coupla Good Reads

What with all of my traveling, I've been catching up on my reading and also thanks to the 7 day limit for new books at Sonoma County Library, I've been doing it fast. =)

Last week, I read Bebe Moore Campbell's 72 Hour Hold, about an L.A. woman's struggles with her coming-of-age daughter, a brittle bipolar/borderline. Anyone with a smidge of an interest in mental illnesses will enjoy this sad yet uplifting story of a mother and daughter's journey.

Even better is John Twelve Hawks' The Traveler a sci-fi/conspiracy/good v. evil story better summed up by the Barnes and Noble link. This is the first book in a series by Twelve Hawks, who "lives off the grid," and I can't wait for number two. If you think the government has it's fingers in too much of our personal business, this book is for you. The notion that we are all watched all the time is enough to send us all off the grid.

I'm going to read a non-library book from my embarassingly large stash next, possibly A.S.Byatt's Possession, but perhaps not. Some of my books from the to-read queue are trapped in my bedside dresser and that is trapped in the master bath while the hardwood floors get finished. They won't be free until the end of the week and this book slut can't possibly go that long without a book. Impossible.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

We "Must" Press On

Sunday we pressed our final batch of must for Vintage 2005, Cabernet Sauvignon from the Caldwell Ranch. As a good Italian girl, I immersed myself in the task (as you can see from my rather spotty shirt). Since my darling won't let me stomp the grapes with my dainty, but stumpy feet, this will have to suffice! We also gave the Merlot it's first racking and it now sits outside in the cold stabilization area (the shady side of the house).

The wine fermentation chamber has been reduced to it's former status as a powder room, though the carboys with the pressed wine are still there finishing fermenting in the jugs. Nothing but the highest of tech at Chateau Andrews.

I've been quilting away on friendship blocks for guild and will turn two of them in today. Pictures later.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Autumn in La Dolce Vita

It's just another day in Paradise. We drove into the Valley of the Moon (Sonoma Valley) yesterday to pick up some wine from the B.R. Cohn Winery betwen Glen Ellen and Santa Rosa. Along the way, my dearest hubby stopped frequently and without complaint to let me try out my new digital camera.

Today we pressed our Cabernet Sauvignon must and racked the Merlot for 2005's vintage. Pictures tomorrow.

What a wonderful and beautiful weekend and in the mid-70's no less!

Friday, November 11, 2005

Ms. Kate Quilts!!!

And we thought shock and awe was just the invasion of Iraq!

Saturday, we helped Sarah move into her new apartment and met Kate, Steve and Mr.B in Oakland. Steve went on to a party with a college pal and Kate, Mr. B., and Sarah came back up to Santa Rosa with us.

We'd hardly had time to sit and relax when Kate came in and placed a darling tote bag on my lap. As if that wasn't good enough, my clenching fingers detected the texture of something quilted within. AHA~my sneaky daughter made me a Bento Box quilt, had it quilted with a little help from my sneaky "sistah" Kathy B. It was quilted by Kat McCarty who owns A Thread Runs Through It (also one of my sneaky pals) who did a wonderful job. Also joinning in on this enterprise was my sly husband who told Kate, "send me updates whenever you want, Jan never reads my email." Hmmmmmmmm.

Anyway, this, from the girl who proclaimed "I didn't get the sewing gene," and ""We can make that' was the most traumatic thing you used to tell me when I was a kid."

Little does she realize that continuous exposure from early childhood has infused her with the quilting gene......clearly nurture v. nature!

After all was said and done, she went stash-diving for more fabric and ended up taking home some fabric and a pattern I'd collected last year for a quilt for hubby Steve. It will mean more to him coming from his wife and it will feed her habit so it's a win-win.

This picture is Kate and I working on her Christmas Quilt in 1979. The quilt ended up being named "The Eighteen Year Christmas Quilt" because I started it in the fall of 1979 and presented it to her on Christmas Eve 1997. A few thing interrupted the making of this quilt--the pregnancy/birth of her brother, a divorce, the births of her younger cousins, my two great-nieces and at least five friends babies (all of whom got hand quilted quilts from me), back to school for me and working full time and a few other life-changing events. Oh well, as John Lennon said, "Life is what happens when you're making other plans."

Here is a picture of the entire quilt. Kate started with a Fat Quarter pack of 10 and chose some added fabrics with the help of the ladies at Quilter's Paradise in Fresno. I think she has great color sense and balance and she did a marvelous job on the quilt, even the binding, which is not easy for a first-timer with no on-site mentor!

The most touching part of this enterprise is the title and theme. Kate and I have an inside joke about "the acorn not falling far from the oak tree," because we share more than a few endearing and irritating qualities. She used a number of fabrics from the "Acorn Hollow" line and named the quilt "The Acorn" and included that on the label of the quilt. I love it!!!

Thanks to my babydoll for the second amazing gift of the year!!! (To see the first, visit: Mr. B's blog).

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Dia de los Muertos

And the quilt is finished!

I made this 35" square quiltlet in a workshop given by Peggy Martin at the Santa Rosa Quilt Guild in August, 2005.

The pattern is New York Beauty and the background fabric is a Dia de los Muertos theme by Alexander Henry. Combining these themes, I decided to name this quilt Eternal Beauty in honor of my family members and friends who have gone before me.

This quilt was amazingly easy to piece using Peggy's strip and paper piecing method. If you have a chance to do one of her workshops, I encourage you to try it.

I machine quilted this with nylon thread in the ditch. The red fabric is a Jennifer Sampou red dot and the yellow is a rose tone on tone by Robyn Pandolph. The roses seemed appropriate to the theme.

The exhibit of ofrendas at the Sonoma Valley Museum of Art was the best ever! Local school children made memorials to the victims of Hurricane Katrina and the other natural disasters of the year. Another artist made an entire ofrenda to the city of New Orleans and the victims of Katrina using the play on words of the "Catrina" the fashionable lady skeleton made famous by Jose Guadalupe Posada. Papers were available for guests to write dedications and memories of family to add to one exhibit. It was absolutely stunning!

After a lunch of, what else, Mexican food we came home to prep for the T or T'ers and watched, what else, Monday Night Football.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Froggy Went A Courtin'

Here he is, the world's most adorable boy, all dressed up for Nana's favorite holiday!

Mr.B decided to be a Frog Prince, and if I do say so myself, he is the best of the best.

Meanwhile, at Castle Greyskull, I'm working like mad to get my Dia de los Muertos quiltlet done in time for the big day tomorrow. All I have left is binding to finish. This morning I finished my flannel scarecrow wallhanging and if Mr.B's mommy is lucky, I'll make her one, too.

In a little while, we'll be heading over to Sonoma's Museum of Contemporary Art for their annual exhibit of ofrendas for El dia de los muertos, and then to the Irish pub for lunch.

Adios and Happy Haunting!!