Sunday, November 24, 2013

'Til the cows come home...

 I promised photos of my new baby once I had a working camera, so here she is...

Just try to ignore the mess in the background.  Right now, I'm confined to using her on a table.  I can't install her in my sewing cabinet until I get a new insert to fit the machine and the cabinet.  In photo #2, notice the 3rd button from the top--that's the one that cuts the thread, top and bottom.  I love that button and I'm wearing it out as fast as I can.  In photo #3, you can see what a bright work area I have.  There's a row of led lights that give me great illumination.  I think I'll be able to do without the long-arm light I have that reaches all the way across my current sewing cabinet.  That will be a bonus.

 Can you tell I'm in love?  I was in the middle of paper piecing the New York Beauty blocks for Mitch's quilt when I got the machine and I thought I'd just finish them on the older machine, but once I tried one out on this baby, there was no going back.  The dual feed capability with the 1/4" foot is a dream.  Oh, and I'm almost finished with Mitch's quilt top--just ran out of the hand-dyed fabric I was using for the final border, so as soon as my order for PFD fabric arrives from Dharma, I'll be dying to finish that top.

Now, for the story about the cows...On Thursday night, about 11:30 p.m., I had just gotten settled into bed, all cozy and warm, when my husband called to me to get up and come there.  He doesn't usually bother me once I've gone to bed because he's learned over the years that I'm not a very nice person when you disturb my sleep.  I knew something unusual must be going on, so I got up and went to the kitchen.  He just pointed at the back door and said, "Look out there."

Have you ever seen something that you just couldn't believe was real, even though all your reasoning powers told you it was?  I looked out the window and there, on my carport, maybe 2 feet from the back door, were 6 cows.  Yes, that's right, and they weren't alone.  There were another 5 or 6 milling about on the driveway and in the front and back yard.  For a moment, I thought maybe we were in the middle of a Chick-Fil-A commercial, but these were black angus, not holstein cows.

We have an open carport that's 20' x 30' and there are 3 vehicles parked there--a pickup truck, an suv, and a golf cart.  So, you see, there's not a lot of room for a herd of cows.  We were very hesitant to open the door and scare them for fear of the damage they might do trying to all run at the same time.

We knew they belonged to our neighbors across the road, so I went to the phone to let them know.  Needless to say, they were pretty surprised, but they drove up on their ATV in pajamas, boots, and coats, within a few minutes of my call.

Now, a few years ago, my husband and I would have put on our boots and coats and gone out to help, but we're not as young and spry as we used to be and we knew the neighbors had a farm manager and other helpers who would join them in their roundup as soon as they could. 

Everything started out okay and it looked as though the cows would just follow the ATV back home, but then they decided to take another path and ended up on the property next door to us, where there is a pasture with some other cows.  Lots of mooing and shouting later, I decided to go back to bed, but my husband stayed up until about 12:30.  He said they were still trying to herd those cows from next door and back across the road when he came to bed. 

The next morning, we were able to survey the damage--not too bad, but it did require a cleanup of cow manure off the carport and driveway and returning the bird bath in the back yard to its upright position. 

We've had some pretty interesting things in our yard over the years--wild turkey, deer, fox, coyotes, and we've even had a snake and a bobcat on the carport at different times, of course.  Those are things you expect when you have woods all around, but we are still bewildered by why those cows came right up to the door as if they expected to be invited in.  All in all, it was just another exciting night in the country.  I wouldn't trade it for anything.      

Monday, November 18, 2013

Bad girl

I've been a very bad girl lately.  I haven't posted anything here in at least a month.  I will try to do better, but remember, if you don't have anything to say--it's best to just shut up.

We had beautiful fall colors this year, but they only lasted a few days.  The trees are either totally bare or the color is definitely past its prime.  I did catch the sassafras tree in the back yard while it was spectacular.
I wish we had lots more of these, but this is the only one anywhere near the house. 

I haven't taken many photos lately because my camera died.  It was giving me trouble for some time, but I kept babying it and trying to be calm and nice and not say ugly words.  That sort of worked until last week, when, on the advice of this very nice "geek" at Best Buy, I tried a new battery.  That helped for about 6 shots, then, the next time I tried, no dice.  I would push the impossibly tiny "on" button maybe 10 times and when it finally came on and I aimed it at what was to be the subject of my photo, it would shut off.  That happened 4 or 5 times, and I finally said, enough (well, I actually said some other stuff, too, but best not to get into that).  I'm going back to Best Buy tomorrow to purchase a new camera.  I've felt so lost without a camera these last few days--kind of like being without a car.

I made a major purchase a couple of weeks ago and I was going to post a photo, but since that didn't work out, I'll just tell you about it.  First, a little background--when I was at the GA Quilt Show back in September, I wandered by the Bernina booth and talked to a nice lady about the new 700 series machines.  I had no intention of buying a new sewing machine, I was just killing time.  Then, over the next few weeks the universe began turning in such a way that my purchase of a new machine became a given.  Money began to fall out of the sky.  First, there was the prize money from the GA Quilt Show, then more prize money from the GA Nat'l Fair, and, to top it off, I sold my "Lotus Pond" piece at the fair.  All in all, I thought these were omens.  So, not wanting to upset the natural order of things, I visited my nearest Bernina dealer and put that baby through its paces. 

Needless to say, it was love at first stitch.  This machine (the Bernina 710) is a dream.  It has  10" of  throat space, a dual feed system that's very easy to engage and works with several different feet.  It also uses a much larger bobbin and gives me up to 9mm of stitch width capability.  And--drum roll--it has a button that you push to cut the top and bottom thread!  Do you know how many times I've had to practically crawl under a quilt to cut that bottom thread with the scissors and hope I didn't cut a hole in the quilt at the same time? 

I had briefly looked at the 800 series Berninas when they first came out, but I can't see myself paying $10K for a sewing machine--not until I win the lottery, anyway.  I opted for the lowest price of the 700 models because I wasn't about to spend an extra $1000 for a BSR foot (stitch regulator) and a quarter-inch foot, which was the only difference between the 710 model and the 750 QE.  Then, there's a 780 that includes all the embroidery stuff, but I'm not into embroidery.  All in all, the 710 was just a little more than I paid for my 440 QE about 6-7 years ago.  And, now I will sell that machine, since I don't have room for it.

 By the way, if you're interested in a well-used and well-maintained Bernina 440 QE, I'm offering mine for $1500, which is about half what I paid for it.  Send me an e-mail if you want to know more.  I also counted and I have about 75 bobbins for the 440 that I can't use on the new machine, so I'd be willing to throw those into the deal.

I'm in the process of making a bed quilt for my youngest grandson.  Mitch will be 16 next week, and, while this won't be finished in time for his birthday, maybe it can be done by Christmas.  I've got all the piecing done and I'm working on borders.   It has 72 New York Beauty blocks that I paper pieced.  Mitch picked out some of my ice-dyed fabric (which just happened to be my favorite color combination) and that has determined my palette.  I love the way that fabric looks in the quilt and I'm using it for the borders, too.  If all goes well tomorrow, maybe I can post some photos.