It is the small simple things of life that bring us peace.



Friday, April 17, 2015

Assembly Required

Those words should strike absolute terror in everyone's inmost being.  They are scary and I have a new appreciation for them.  Here's why:

First - a little background.  At the International Quilt Festival in late October I purchased a new 4-needle embroidery machine.  I've made other big purchases at the Festival over the years and always got good deals.  I had bought another single-needle machine a few years ago from a local dealer.  It is a piece of junk and I'm not ashamed to say it is a Bernina and was costly.  I paid for the name.  After fighting with this machine and putting it in the dealer's shop several times I decided it was time to move on. (Just to note I lowered the machine down into its cabinet and plan to take it to another dealer at some point in time to see if I can get resolution with the bobbin problem.  For now it is out of the way and out of my sight). 

Anyway, I purchased an Elna 4-needle embroidery machine.  My mother had an Elna and I have several and they are great machines.  Even now that the company is owned by Janome they still offer well made machines with exceptional features.  The machine came with a nice sturdy cabinet designed specifically for the Elna and Janome machine.  Both the machine and the cabinet were shipped within two weeks to me and by coincidence I was just coming home when both were delivered on the same day. 
I had assumed that the cabinet came assembled, not "assembly required".  It never occurred to me to ask about the cabinet's arrival status when I purchased the duo.  I had bought two other cabinets from the Festival and they both were rolled into the house, completely assembled and ready for the machine to be put in place.  Imagine my surprise when these four boxes were hauled into my house!  Since it was just a week or so before Thanksgiving I knew that they would have to remain untouched.  With some difficulty I managed to get each box into the garage and stored away for the holidays.  Each box was marked with the weight - between 40 and 50 pounds each, something I did not need to see as I wrestled them out the door.

One rainy Saturday morning in January I enlisted the fifth grader to help me.  He is good at putting things together (Lego's gave him lots of practice!) and it was something for us to do together.  We hauled the boxes in the house and opened them up.  Of course, the instructions were in the last box.  Now, I've put things like this together before and I knew that the odds were 50-50 that it would be easy or difficult.  Let's just say it was completely difficult.  We quickly realized that the instructions were worthless other than to serve as a guide to what came next.  Through trial and error and guessing at which part was which we got it started.

By the time he left we had made fairly good progress.  Later that afternoon I decided that I needed to get after it again and try to finish it up.  I managed to get the large rollers screwed firmly into the bottom and then realized that I would have to flip the thing over onto its side and then again to get it upright.  No problem, I thought.  Just take it slow and easy.  It is heavy, but just take it slow.  Right.  It went slow until it was almost to the floor on the first flip.  Then the weight of the cabinet threw it down to the floor.  Right onto my left foot, right across the big toe.  Lift the thing up, retrieve the foot, sit down, hold foot and imagine explaining this in the emergency room.  Pain upon pain. Assembly required also meant the possibility of being lame for the rest of my life. Sometime later I finished flipping the cabinet into the upright position while keeping what was left of my feet well out of the way and rolled it down the hallway to the sewing room.

At that point it sat for a while because time just didn't permit me to finish.  But the thought of using the new embroidery machine spurred me on and little by little I kept adding pieces, all without much help from the instructions.  I managed to jockey the top in place and hammer it down with a rubber mallet as it was not going to just drop down onto those pegs and funny looking screws that lock down.  I got the thread drawer together fairly easily and with some maneuvering got it to roll in place.
The real challenge came with the lower three drawers.  Only a few of the pieces were marked and the instructions weren't clear.  Each drawer had eight screws.  I'm not sure how many times I unscrewed them and rearrange parts.  I spent hours and hours working on these drawers.  I analyzed the side bars and how they worked on the rails.  I thought I had it figured out and then no, it was not right.  Through the process of elimination I got them together as shown.  The part that stumped me was how to attach the front panel where the handles went.  The bolts included were too short.  I also had six screws for each drawer and six holes on the drawer, but none to match on the front panel.  The instructions just said to attach the panel and install the handles.  Right. So until I could go to Home Depot and find the right bolts to attach the handles I decided that the cabinet was together enough to receive the machine.

In the process of unpacking the machine I thoughtlessly laid aside most of the parts to assemble to machine's thread stand and hoop holder.  Then, I couldn't find them and thought they were excluded from the box (I later found them under a quilt top).  When I pulled up the dealer's web site to get their contact information I saw the cabinet.  Yes, it is listed as weighing 200 pounds, but my foot already knew that!  The description also stated that it had assembly instructions included as well as the manufacturer's helpful help line number.  I flipped through the instruction book and there was no helpful help line number, there was no website, and no contact information.  Hmmm, I could see why they wouldn't want talk to anyone struggling with this thing. 

So I pulled up the manufacturer's website and searched for this cabinet.  There it was and, oh my, they had instructional videos for the assembly! Well, better late than never I thought.  As I watched them I realized why I was having problems with the final step of the drawer.
The last video explained how to assemble the drawers.  Oh, how I needed to see that before I started!  And, it solved the problem of how to attach the front panels -  you don't use the bolts in the parts package - you use the ones that are taped to the outside of one of the boxes!  See that little yellow tag in the picture above?  It explains it all, but I had not seen the little packet taped to the side of the box (fortunately I had not put the boxes into the recycling bin yet!).  I had the drawers finished up in no time. 

And, the video also showed the lady that was putting the cabinet together using a drill to screw in all the screws.  A drill!  I never even thought about going out to the garage and getting the cordless drill out!  Oh my poor aching fingers, I could have spared you the pain. 


Assembly required - assembly completed!  It was finally together and the machine ready to turn on!




Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Wednesday 04.15.2015

Bluebonnets!
Texas Bluebonnets (Lupinus texensis) are wildflowers, native only to Texas.  Growing from seeds they appear in late winter through early spring (depending on location).  They prefer well-drained, slightly gravelly soil and just the right amount of rainfall.  Rainfall in November is an important factor in beginning the seeds' germination; however, there must be significant rain throughout the winter for the plants to develop.  Too much rain will stunt their growth and result in yellow growth with little or no flowers.

I've never seen a photograph or painting that accurately depicts the show-stopping beauty of a field of Bluebonnets! Even a small clump of them catches your eye and when you see a whole field in bloom, usually mixed with other wildflowers, your eyes are dazzled! I'm sure that is why all six varieties of Lupinus texensis are the State Flower of Texas.

When the plants begin to form they look like a bushy plant.  Years ago when my parents lived in Texas my mother planted seeds in a brick planter in front of their home.  Later in the spring she complained that she had nothing but a group of straggly looking weeds come up from the seeds.  Looking at the empty planter I asked her where the weeds were...she replied, "Oh, I threw them away".  I then gently explained that she had thrown the Bluebonnets away as they do look like a weed!

On Good Friday Jaydon and I had headed out to the Wildseed Farm in Fredericksburg, Texas hoping to see Bluebonnets and more.  The past few years rain has been scarce in this part of Texas and wildflowers have been in short supply.  This year we had rain in November and several good slow, soaking rains during the winter.  We were not disappointed in what we saw along the roads, although it will take several years of the right rain to really bring back the wildflowers. 

The weather that weekend was lousy with gloomy skies and light rain, so I didn't even try to stop along the highway to make pictures.  The Wildseed Farm had plenty for us to photograph.  Note the field in the upper left of the picture above that is solid blue. 
And yes, they were allowing visitors to walk into one field and make pictures.  Making pictures while standing in a field of bluebonnets is a Texas tradition! There were signs to remind the city slickers to watch for snakes and holes in the ground!


Sunday, April 12, 2015

Saying Goodbye

2003-2014
 
Baby Girl quietly entered eternal rest this evening.  She passed comfortably in the familiarity of her own living room.  She was quite a kitty, and will be missed by all her human family.  She rarely meowed - she had a little squeak that she would give you if you told her, "Squeak, Baby Girl". 

She was a stray kitten that my daughter took in, mama kitty was feral and had moved on to leave her remaining kitten to fend for herself.  Since Stephanie was pregnant it was appropriate that she named the kitten "Baby".  Somewhere in the coming years we added "Girl" to her name!  She lived with S for the first year of her life, spending most of her time in a little basket in a sunny window.

She spent the next 11 years with me, but we all thought of her as S's cat.  She didn't ask for a lot, but was always around and friendly with everyone. She will be missed, but what wonderful memories she left us with!  How thankful I am for my little companions and celebrate each of their lives.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Wednesday 04.08.2015

Several weeks ago this sweet little doe and I met up along the trail in a local park.  Her companions had crossed in front of me, but for some reason she stayed behind.  She stopped her grazing and posed for the camera with a look that said, "you can take my picture, but nothing more".

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Easter 2015

May your Easter be joyous!
Alleluia!  He is Risen!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Wednesday 04.01.2015

Giddings, Texas
I love the Magnolia Oil Pegasus! Isn't this a quirky combination?  Made me smile!

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Saturday Day Trip

It's been a while since I had an honest to goodness day trip and today was the day!  I've been looking forward to this all week and I was not disappointed - day trippin' is the best therapy ever!

The day started early  - I was rolling out of bed at 4 a.m. to be rolling out of the driveway just after 5 a.m. to be in Navasota, Texas by Bentley's 8:30 a.m. ring time.  Even though it is hard to start that early I've come to enjoy these early morning drives in the darkness, just me and the dog driving in dark and silence.  The morning dawned beautifully with a slow sunrise, a few bluebonnets, and a little fog hanging over one area.  I tried to enjoy it as much as I could, but was keeping a close eye on the clock as I was panicked that we were going to be late.  I shouldn't have worried as we pulled into the fair grounds just after 8 a.m., making it in 3 hours.  I only had to make one quick pull over stop to get Bentley untangled from the doggie harness which we will not be using again!

After the show we headed back into Navasota.  Last year when I came to the show I had thought then that I needed to come back and explore!  It is a wonderfully historic town and I picked up a lot of fodder for Doorway Into the Past! 
Built in 1930 this was the Navasota High School, today it is the district's administration building


Bentley is a good traveler and he was a good sport about exploring the sites I wanted to visit.  He entertained himself with smelling the wind and the ground.  At one point we were in a large grassy area and I just dropped the leash and let him snoop around while I made pictures.  I wasn't worried about him getting too far away and he will come on command.  He needed a little reward for being so good!

I've been wanting to visit the W C Mercantile store since I bought native Texas alpaca yarns from them at the International Quilt Festival.  They are right on the main street of Navasota in an old building, of course.  So many yarns, so many beautiful colors.  I loved the squeaky old floors and was reminded of the comforting feeling I always had in the shop in New Braunfels where I took my first quilting classes. 

Besides yarns they also offer fibers for spinning and there was a group of ladies in the back with their spinning wheels taking a class.  As I checked out I discovered that they had a small weaving loom that makes strips 15 inches wide (I think I see another trip back to Navasota in the future to get this!). Yes, I did buy some more alpaca yarn as well as several skeins that reminded me of the vivid reds and blues seen in stained glass. I got so excited that I forgot to check the fiber content - it is 100% wool so I've got to find a light open pattern to use for it.
Bentley was a good sport in the yarn shop, too.  He tolerates the stroller and sat on the very end most of the time.  He was tethered in so he couldn't jump out, but he did try to dig out!  I had flashbacks to the stories my mother used to tell about how I detested riding in a stroller!
 
I have more stops to make in Navasota, but they will have to be saved for another trip.  It was time to move on so we made the drive back to Giddings and ate a late picnic lunch before doing more exploring. Navasota and Giddings both grew up around the railroad and the trains continue to chug noisily through both.  I've gone through Giddings so many times and am always prepared to wait for a train.  But that isn't too bad as there are lots of old buildings to look at while you wait!
 
One stop on today's agenda was the Lee County Courthouse. It is undergoing a restoration program and I can't wait to go back after it is done.  This delightful architectural gem was built in 1899 and underwent a restoration in 1982.  The current restoration is being done in cooperation with the Texas Historic Courthouse Preservation Program.  
 
The afternoon wore on and I knew we had miles to travel, so we finally had to leave Giddings.  Driving home we were in the sun and traffic was slow.  But it didn't matter as we were finishing up a wonderful day trip, the best therapy in the world!


Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Wednesday 03.25.2015

Bandstand in San Pedro Springs Park
built in 1899
One of things I love is gazebos.  This one has been preserved and restored and is still in use today.  It has been a popular venue of the park since its construction.  Local lore is that it was moved from Alamo Plaza; however, newspaper accounts discount that legend as they reported on its construction.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Happy Birthday, Uncle Moneybags!

Thanks to an article on cnbc.com I found out that today is Monopoly's 80th birthday!
According to the article Monopoly was "born" March 19, 1935, when Parker Brothers acquired the rights to the game from Charles Darrow. My memory was refreshed when the article pointed out that the game was based on actual streets and things related to Atlantic City, New Jersey.  Interestingly, the article recaps these places today and suggests new places that would take their place on the board game if it was re-created today.

I received my first game' the Christmas I was in the second grade.  I think it was a gift from Santa, but I had no idea what it was about.  I do remember having a rousing game in the living room of my Dad's parents house that year with adults and kids duking it out to negotiate property deals.  Monopoly is the only game I ever remember my Dad playing with us (he was quite involved in the game that night, what a wheeler-dealer he was!).  He shared later that he and his sister entertained themselves with prolonged games of Monopoly when they were growing up. I know they were very poor, but apparently they had a Monopoly game!

Happy Birthday, Monopoly!  Whether you are a board game or e-game, we love you!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Wednesday 03.18.2015

Hey, Lacey!  I'll give you extra kibble if you help me sweep up these leaves.
What did you say?  You'll take the extra kibble and I can sweep up while you nap?

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Beside the still water

He leads me beside still waters.  Psalm 23:2b
Sometimes I feel like God isn't leading me.  I think about the peacefulness of those still waters and long for it.  Then I realize that God can't lead me beside the still water if I'm in it thrashing around.  Time to get out of the water and sit down quietly, beside the water. 

Friday, March 13, 2015

I know it is spring

Typical of the weather and season changes in the place where I live we have gone from bleak winter to blooming spring within a day or two.  I'm not complaining about the cold weather or abrupt change.  Some years it warms up in early February and by this time in March it is hot, air-conditioner weather.  The lingering of winter was not a problem, really.  But when it left, it left. Early this week it was still sweaters and boots, build a fire in the fireplace, drizzling, and chilly wind blowing.  Today it was 80 degrees and will remain in the lower 70's for the next few days.  I am sure it is spring.


The first hint of the nearness of spring was several weeks ago on a cold, dark, drizzly drive home.  I glanced over and saw the first redbud trees beginning to bloom.  Good grief, I thought.  Have they no shame - it's freezing cold and here they come like it is spring already!  But they gave me hope that the cold days would soon be over.

The next sign was revealed to me yesterday evening.  As I drove to handbell practice I passed a baseball field with little leaguers practicing; when I returned after practice the field was full of softball girls and their dads involved in practice.  Ah, the first games of the season must be near.  As I drove on a little way I got a whiff of freshly mowed grass, what a welcome smell! Spring is in the air.

Tonight I didn't need the warmer temperatures to tell me it is spring.  I went outside and started moving plants around, watering them, and beginning the spring clean up; when I get motivated to do those things I know the season has changed.  But wait, I found more signs as I worked.
The mountain laurel is blooming!

The pansies and violas have put forth more blooms
The biggest surprise was the iris!  Two blooms and another one forming!
Yes, the signs are everywhere.  The only thing missing is the bluebonnets.  I have yet to see the first one, but hope to over the weekend.  We've had rain, so I know they are there but running a little late.
 
Happy Spring, may it come to each of you soon!