Help needed (psychiatric and otherwise)!


I’m home alone today: Pearl is visiting the groomer. While there’s something pleasant about not being followed constantly from room-to-room, I’ve also realized that aside from unconditional love and comic relief, dogs have another important function: they make their owners seem less crazy.

In my case, I find that even though no one else is around, I’m still commenting OUT LOUD about things I’m doing: “It’s time for just a little cup of coffee” I say jovially as I sashay toward the kitchen, or “I wonder what the mailman has brought us today” when I’m bored with my work and need a distraction or “That Nora Ephron is something else” after reading a profile in The New Yorker over lunch.

Talking to oneself is bad enough, but I realize I often employ some amusing little accent (well, amusing to me…and to Pearl) when I’m providing this blow-by-blow commentary on my scintillating life. It’s probably marginally weird to talk to one’s dog like this…but I’m guessing it’s beyond marginal to talk to oneself like this. Don’t tell!!

Okay, now here’s what I really need help with. I made the blocks for this quilt back in early June—the last time I sewed! The pattern is Ingrid Barlow’s Boxed Blessings, which I bought in Madison, Wisc. during my quilter’s equivalent of being a locavore (I bought patterns by local designers). Barlow made the pattern with more solids, whereas I decided I’d be a stash-buster and use a bunch of Heather Bailey half yards I’d purchased a year or two ago. I added an orange polka dot and a wonderful stripe that incorporates all the colors perfectly.

The problem in June was, the blocks all seemed to fade into one another (bottom photo). So I added striped sashing (top photos) and planned to bind it with the same stripe. I wasn’t going to add a border, but now I’m not sure whether a plain fabric border might be just the thing to calm it down. Or perhaps I should take this as a lesson learned about combining multiple prints without the relief of a solid and just let it go.

Any suggestions/comments/advice? I’d love to hear from you!

Summertime and the bloggin’ ain’t easy

Between a lack of sewing projects to share and seasonal activities, Pearl the Squirrel has been sorely neglected. I’m hoping to actually sew later this week, but for now I’ll share a couple of my summer distractions.


First, there was that Iowa phenomenon, RAGBRAI. It’s a week-long bicycle ride across the state. Now, I don’t ever ride, but I am a driver for my husband’s lab; they typically ride one day each year.

It’s always quite the scene: thousands of riders from all over the country pedal 400-some miles, converging on tiny towns along the way to camp, and to eat rhubarb pie, pork chops, lemonade, and breakfast burritos. Lots of folks dress up and decorate their bikes and helmets: the bike at top belonged to a man on Team Flamingo.

This year, just 39 percent of the riders were from Iowa. Folks of all shapes, sizes, ages, and physical condition ride (and eat) their way across the state. I can never resist going to watch. (In past years, while the team is riding, I’ve been known to frequent quilt shops in the area. I usually have to read in a coffee shop for several hours before the shops open: RAGBRAI riders like to get started around 6 a.m., before the heat gets brutal.)

The big, the bold, and the opposite

I’ve had the opportunity to write two very fun stories in the past couple of weeks. They’re for two different publications, on two different subjects, but there was one connecting element…I can say no more, but suffice it to say that it’s been a pleasure and I’m a happy girl. (This photo is a clue.)

One of my story subjects reminded me how much I enjoy embroidery. This photo is of a patch I made for my then-boyfriend’s jeans when we were in college. I was an embroidering fiend, having done up a blue workshirt and overalls. When it came time to ditch the jeans, I made him give me back to patch, which I recently found in a pile ‘o stuff. After my brief dip into embroidery in Lake Tahoe, and after talking with my story subjects, I’m itchin’ to be stitchin’ (Sorry…couldn’t help myself).

You like me, you really like me…

This headline will make sense if you’re old enough to remember Sally Field’s acceptance speech for her 1985 Oscar…but having more than one person comment to me that they know I’ve been busy because Pearl the Squirrel hasn’t been updated recently makes me think I have actual readers who care…thanks so much!

So here’s just a quick post of a future project. I haven’t had time to do much sewing, between traveling and writing and having house guests over the 4th (my wonderful daughter and son-in-law visiting from Austin—we had such a relaxing and fun weekend with them).

My daughter admired my Birdie Sling and the one I’d made for her cousin and I quickly volunteered to make her one of her own. We went to Home Ec and picked out these great fabrics (with the help of my younger daughter, as well—she still hasn’t asked for one, but I may well break her resolve one of these days).