Monday, October 16, 2017

Burning Down the House

Just over a week ago a fire storm hit Santa Rosa, California and some of the surrounding communities.  Our home was a casualty of those storms. This is my journal.

It all began on the evening of October 8, 2017, when unusually high winds kicked up, coming from the Northeast, and, while such winds are not unusual in our Sonoma County "summer,"  which is typically September and October, these were different.  We smelled smoke, but didn't worry too much about it. (Mistake #1) Winds were whipping through the trees, and eventually the power went out at 11-ish.  We decided to go to bed since there was nothing to do, but neither of us slept. The power came on briefly, then went out again so we sat in bed, smelling smoke and listening.

Around 2:15 we heard a knocking sound, which I thought was just our bedroom door blowing against the door stop, but when it repeated, Mike went to the front door.  Our neighbor Scott, a hero, yelled at us that the fire had breached the nearest crossroad and we better get out.  A word about our hero neighbor, he is a father of 3 kids 13-7, and while he was warning us, his wife was packing a bit of stuff for the kids.  When Mike answered the door, we could see the glow of the fire on the hill.  We jumped into action--got dressed, leashed the dogs, grabbed our computers and I drove the car and dogs down the hill to K-Mart.  Mike followed in our truck, which is worth more alive than dead.

The smoke coming down the  hill was thicker than a Visalia Tule fog, and trees were downed all over.  Once at K-Mart, we left the truck and took the car to another part of town to get away from the smoke, not knowing that K-Mart would eventually burn to the ground.  Mike gassed up the car and we went to the Veteran's Building, which was just being opened as an evacuation center.  Not many cars were there yet, and we did not go in, but stayed in the car with our pups.

Around 6:30, we got a call from a friend who told us to come to her house, which we did. Becky provided us comfort and solace for two days, even though she had no electricity.  We were in limbo, not knowing, yet hoping that our house had survived the fire.

That was not to be.  Our friend David sent pictures of the carcass that was our home.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Adios Sarah and Ramesh....

Today, January 11th is a day that Mike and I refer to at "Billy/Willie Day."  

Mike's dad, Bill Andrews passed away on this day in 1984.  My mother Wilma Jones Brackett was born this day in 1920.  We honor them by fixing a nice dinner and toasting them with a tasty adult beverage.

Well, today we have a new event for the 11th of January.  Mike's daughter Sarah and her boyfriend Ramesh left San Francisco International Airport for Panama and the beginning of a year-long journey around the world.  Sarah saved, paid off debt and planned this for two years, and today it came to fruition.
Sarah and Ramesh brought a van load of Rubbermaid tubs to store under our house and a lovely leather chair to store in our bedroom.  We took them to breakfast yesterday morning and kissed her goodbye just after.  

We will see Sarah and Ramesh in May, on Mike's birthday in Rome, which is the final day of our cruise.  That's a good thing, because I'm having a hard time envisioning an entire year without her smiling face.  Mike points out that we've done this before when she studied abroad in Leeds, UK, 1998-1999, but still.  A year is a long darned time!  

This trip has been brewing in her mind for a very long time, and at age 33, the time is now!  I'm proud of her for following her dreams and I know she will have some great tales to tell.

You can follow their trip at:

Sunday, January 08, 2012

A Few Finishes in 2011

 While 2011 was consumed by a lot of quilt guild activities, I did manage a couple of finishes for some very-much-desired new babies.  This quilt was made from a pattern I found on Moda Bake Shop and is for the baby daughter of my my son-in-law's cousin.  She was born in December 2010.  The adorable boys in the picture are, of course, Benjamin and Alex.

The second finish was made by my friend Kathy B. and I for the new granddaughter of our late friend Sand B.  Sandy passed away in 2005,  shortly after her oldest daughter, then 40 got married for the first time.  Six years later, a baby arrived, and we know that Sandy would have been over-the-moon happy, so we had to make a quilt for this welcome addition.  Since Kathy and I inherited much of Sandy's collection of 1930's reproductions, we decided to use some of them in our quilt for her granddaughter.
There was a third finish, but I seem to have neglected to snap a picture of it.  The third quilt was for a special baby girl who was given a middle name that my daughter and I share--Aileen.  Her mother became a friend of my daughter in grad school and we consider her a part of our extended clan.

I plan for many more finishes in 2012, and may actually touch my sewing machine today.  I have 12 pillowcases prepped to sew up for the troops in Afghanistan.  Broadway Quilts in Sonoma is collecting them for the hospitals in lieu of paper pillowcases.  I think it's a great way to get reunited with my sweet Bernina, don't you?

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

The End

I can't get the song "I'm Getting Married in the Morning" from My Fair Lady out of my head because tomorrow I will swear in my replacement and become a regular schmo at the guild.  I'm so excited!  I got my January newsletter done today, so I'm going to actually sew this week!  I still do the monthly newsletter and keep up the database/roster, but I've been doing that for years and could do it in my sleep.  I will get to knit or stitch during meetings, go to the loo whenever I please, chat, sip tea or coffee....the list goes on.

I feel like a kid on Christmas Eve.

PS: Don't get me wrong, it was fun, but enough is enough!

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

The Holidays are Over!

Well, the kids are gone, the house will be un-decorated today and the exorcise (not a misspelling, my sister's name for it) program has been resumed in full. Life can go back to normal.

As I said before, I am so looking forward to 2012, for more quilting time and less responsibility.  Also, 2012 is a milestone birthday for me--60--and we are celebrating by taking a cruise around Italy in the spring.  Shortly after that, we will go to the annual Winemaker Magazine conference at Cornell University in New York.  I've never been to New York, and given the choice of side-tripping to NYC or Niagara Falls was not really a decision for me.  Niagara Falls is on my bucket list, and I can't wait to see it in person, and from the Canadian side.

In my absence from the blogging world, my grandson Benjamin, who will be 7 in February, has become a budding chef and is playing the piano.  Alex is 4 1/2 and in preschool and is a very active little fellow.  They are soooo fun.  My stepson Scott got married on Halloween 2009 and he and wife Erin are doing well.  My stepdaughter Sarah is realizing her dream of quitting her job of 12 years and travelling the world for a year.  Her boyfriend Ramesh has decided to join her and surf around the world.  They leave on the 11th and I can't imagine how a year without Sarah will be.  My son Daniel moved into his own place after living with his best friends until their recent wedding.  He's enjoying the simple life in his own place and is a wonderful uncle to Kate's two boys.  Kate and Steve have been married 11 years this week, and life is good for them as the boys continue to grow up.   My dogs Gator and Ace are 13 and 11 respectively and are doing fine for being so old, and they are definitely happy that the guests are gone.

Mike is good and is making some mighty good wine.  We planted some Pinot Noir grapes in part of our yard previously unused and they will be producing in 2 more years.  That keeps him on the run, for sure.  

Last summer, Mike wanted to go to a pitch and putt golf course and play nine holes and I told him I'd go and walk with him.  Well, that wasn't allowed, so we rented some clubs and a pull cart and I was going to just walk and pull the cart.  Well, me being me, I decided that if I had to rent them, I was going to play, even though I'm left-handed and the clubs were rightys.  So, I played that day and did OK.  The next time, we rented the lefty clubs and I did better.  Within 2 weeks, Mike had ordered me a basic set of clubs online and I was enrolled in lessons.  Since then, we have enjoyed playing golf 2-3 times a week, and have introduced both of the girls to it.  Our boys, who took lessons together 15 years ago both play regularly and we've had the pleasure of playing with both of them this month. 

As Mrs. Goodneedle says, Life is Good!

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Welcome 2012!

Welcome 2012! I just finished up a two year stint as president of my quilt guild, a time-comsuming job that has seriously affected my time to quilt and my desire to work on my blog. Well that is about to change. This year, I plan to work on Fee Motion Quilting Challenge. My partner in crime is my new HandiQuilter Sweet 16, a lovely machine with a 16 inch throat that I can sit down to use. She's been sitting in my sewing room while I finished up my duties, patiently waiting for me. So, the word for 2012 is Mastery. I will master machine quilting in 2012. Want to join me? Just look up Sew Cal Gal on Facebook and join the fun@ Happy New Year!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Pets on Quilts!

SewCalGal is hostessing a Pets on Quilts online quilt show through August 21st. Well, I love pets on quilts, so I had to enter it with an oldie but goodie of mine.
This quilt is entitled "There's a Schnauzer on My Quilt!" I started this quilt back in 2005 at a Billie Lauder workshop held by our guild and finished it in 2006. I modified Billie's pattern a bit to make it a Miniature Schnauzer complete with 3-D eyebrows and a long floppy tongue (just like my wee Gator, who loves to lick people's teeth).

I hand quilted this quilt and gave it to Michelle, my husband's ex-stepdaughter for the birth of her first son Arjuna. Back in the day, my hubby and Michelle's mom had a fabulous schnauzer, Cindi, a little darling and when I met her, it was love at first sight. Cindi's life was cut short by diabetes, but her memory lives on and on.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Borders: Long May They Wave

Do you ever find yourself in a quilter's quandry?

Or maybe it isn't a quandry at all and you just fail to pay attention to what you "should" do and take the easy way out? You think: "Self: it won't matter just this one little time if you don't measure your project before adding the border. After all, the project is only 35 inches square." "The border isn't pieced, heck half of it is even straight grain of the fabric." "No problemo, dude."


I'm here to tell you that it doesn't pay to listen to the bad girl on your shoulder and take a shortcut. Having just added said border to a wall-hanging for my son, I can tell you that size doesn't matter. No matter the size of your top, measure it in three places (top, middle, bottom) horizontally and three places (left, middle, right) on the sides. Then you may average the three numbers for each dimension and arrive at the correct border size. You do not, I repeat do not just slap on a long piece of fabric. The time saved by not measuring will surely be spent bonding with your favorite seam ripper!

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

A Thing of Beauty is a Joy Forever

And all that jazz.

Last week, I spent the week in Lompoc with my friends Becky and Kathy and Laurinda. We sewed, chatted, laughed, cooked and ate, not necessarily in that order. Becky was hard at work on a Debbie Caffrey "Three or More" quilt for a family member in Christmas colors. Nice.

Well, mostly. Did I mention that the recipient of this quilt is an Elvis fan? Did I mention that Becky found the most amazing Christmas fabric for an Elvis fan? Not the most beautiful, but certainly Elvis. Wait......maybe this IS the real E. Our personal favorite is the one at the center of the top of this piece of fabric, the picture affectionately nicknamed "Seizure Elvis." A closer look will reveal eyes kind of rolled upward and we thought the name more charitable than "Stoned Elvis."

Becky deliberated long and hard about putting this fabric on the front of the quilt as an outside border, but decided that it might be a bit over-the-top. Good call. BUT, Kathy and I pounded her mercilessly until she agreed to put just a wee piece of the King on the front. We thought she placed it perfectly, don't you?

Now I know you want a close up of that, don't you? Well here you go:


Sunday, August 01, 2010

A Long Term Project

You may remember the Mini-Round Robin that I joined several years ago after May Britt and her friends showed their projects off.

I decided to do something completely different this time, so I started with a heart that contained my Hubby's and my initials. I asked the participants to keep it pastel-ish with a Robyn Pandolph kind of look, and I think they went the distance, don't you?

This fun group decided to call it a day, but Kate is having a Stay-at-Home Round Robin for those who are interested. Not sure if I have time this year, but I have considered doing one for myself.

In the meantime, I did finish a quilt for a certain birthday person who will be celebrating later this month. No picture yet, but soon. I'm also working on a wall-hanging for my soon-to-be 30 year old son. I spent three days in Lompoc at my friend Becky's house, joined by friend Kathy and we sewed our hearts out. It was great therapy!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


One reason for not blogging much is the demonic, time-sucking Facebook. On the other hand, thanks to said demon, I won a book from Martingale for suggesting a name for the star block on their lunchroom floor. "Martingale Star" seemed pretty obvious to me, but apparently it was a winner, so lucky me! I have all three of Judy Hopkins "Around the Block" books, but it looks like this book has even more blocks and I do love her multiple size cutting information. Thanks to Martingale!

One of my latest projects is a block of the month from ThimbleCreek, a quilt shop in Concord, CA. Those who know me, also know that I adore Halloween and have several fabulous Halloween quilts in progress. I plan to leave one for each of the kids when I can no longer enjoy them. This one is called Ichabod Hollow and was designed by Joe, one of the owners of ThimbleCreek. The applique portion is nearly done and I have the picket fence and star fabric waiting for my attentions. Next week is a quiltfest with Kathy B. and Becky in Lompoc, and I hope to make a bit of progress on this.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Having Fun With The Boys

Benjamin and Alex and their parents came by over the long weekend going to and from Crescent City to visit friends, so I got to see them twice!

On Tuesday night we went to Rosso, a local wine and pizza place and were lucky to get the family booth at the back of the restaurant. Right behind the us was a sous-chef station where a very sweet young lady making flatbreads and salads chatted with the boys nonstop. They loved watching her prep the food and had to be coerced to take a snap with Nana (can you tell?). The boys were given a lump of dough to shape as they pleased and it was returned with a cup of red sauce for dipping. As you might imagine, it was the hit of the evening.

We are back to normal now, and today our handyman will finish our mini-renovation of the master bath. We removed our 10 gazillion gallon bathtub and are tiling in the space to use for storage of wines-in-progress and a cabinet for supplies for same. According to Dan the Handyman, it costs $20 in water to fill these tubs and I'll bet we'd not used ours in 5 years. Only the boys did, and they like to shower these days. Adios tub, hello wine room!!

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Long Time No Blog

It seems like forever since I blogged, and it pretty much has been. Sometimes your star points just don't match up.

In January, I became President of the quilt guild and within 10 weeks, we had to put together a tri-guild luncheon for the three local quilt guilds. The learning curve has been steep, dealing with the various and sundry personalities of different members pretty much tapped out my creative energy during the first half of the year. I have my "sea legs" now and have agreed to do a second year, with hopefully fewer hassles and stress. After all, we're supposed to be there to have fun, aren't we?

I'm also looking forward to more quilting time!

Saturday, November 07, 2009

A Shout Out

To the staff at the Fat Quarter Shop. I have no affiliation, I'm just a very satisfied customer.

Last year, I participated in the Designer Mystery BOM and I was so happy with the results (currently with my long-armer), that I decided to jump in and do this year's sampler too. I think I've mentioned before that each monthly kit includes a very generous amount of fabric in case of, well, you know, bad cuts. I'm the queen of bad cuts, so I know.

Recently, I joined a Holiday quilt swap with the Four Seasons Quilt Swap group and I used my leftover fabrics to make a mini-quilt to give my recipient. I wanted one particular fabric for my outer border, so I ordered a half yard and it was here in three days. Shout out number one.

When I went to cut the borders, I figured that I'd have to cut on the cross grain simply due to the length I needed, but not so. This half yard was actually TWENTY inches long! I was shocked! And not in that unhappy way I've been when I've measured half yards or fat quarters from some other online retailers. Shout out number two!

Is it any wonder that the Fat Quarter Shop is my number one go-to place for online fabrics?

I'm doing the Civil War Tribute BOM after the first of the year and I can't wait!

Thank you Fat Quarter Shop for going the extra inches that make quilters happy!