Timing is Everything

We have traveled all over with the Forest Service.   We have been some pretty amazing places.   Just recently one of our most coveted places, Grand Marais, MN,  had an opening for exactly what my husband does here in Montana.    It would have been a lateral move, not all bad.   Unfortunately when you are in high gear for those last ten years before retirement, your dream location takes a back seat to smart financial moves.   Together we looked at all the pros and cons of taking this move.

The lighthouse at Grand Marais.

Reasons for Going to Grand Marais

  • At the end of the Gunflint Trail, need I say more
  • Mr Ranger would have to to spend time in the BWCA as part of his job.  The BWCA inspired him to have the job he has today.
  • Being right on Lake Superior, my favorite Great lake
  • Being back in the hardwood forests.  If you’ve been there you know there is no place like the Northshore.
  • They have an established art colony to nurture my creative soul.   It started back in 1947, so they have a long history of supporting folks teaching and exploring all sorts of creative mediums.
  • We would be less than 4 hours from Mr. Ranger’s family, both his & my best friends and only 12 hours from my family.
  • Over 100 inches of snow!
  • Lots of cross country at our back door.
  • BWCA at our “backdoor” so we could access it during  the shoulder season when “everyone” has gone home.
  • It has a longer growing season, but then almost every place could say that.
  • Access to lots and lots of hiking and biking trails.
  • Voyaguers National park and Quetico Provincial Park are just a short jaunt away.

You never get too old to cross country sky. You just need snow.

Reasons for not throwing our name in the hat to go to Grand Marais.

  • Retirement – It is much less expensive to live here, so we are mega saving for retirement.
  • Our house payment is tiny and we can see the end of our mortgage
  • Limited amount of affordable housing in Grand Marais, and we would have to start over with a mortgage.
  • Few job opportunities for me, even fewer that would replace my current salary.
  • An economy skewed by tourists and second homes.
  • No mountains

I’ve been to New England in the fall and it has nothing on the Northshore.

There are no better sunsets or sun rises than those on a lake, big or little.

We spent hours talking about it.   Our wants, dreams, wishes and what retirement meant to both of us together and individually.   When it was all said and done we without a doubt knew this was a matter of timing being everything.   Something is perfect only if the timing is right.   It must be a balance of financial and emotional desires.  This was not that.     So we passed.  We know when it is the right move the stars will align it will feel right in every way.   Enough said time to let it go, but it was sure fun to play with the idea.

Making the Back Look Good


I have finished quilting the planned areas of my baby quilt.    I did some diagonal lines on the edges and some stippling in the main body.   It went pretty well, but my time away from quilting showed and my stippling isn’t up to what was at one time my standard.  When you quilt breathing is as important as when you exercise.   I found myself holding my breath it caused some of my movements not to be as smooth as I would have liked.

Now is the time to turn the quilt over and decided if I need to add some more to make the back as nice as the front.   Normally one does not worry too much about this but when you use a pink/fustian/yellow colored thread on a white on white backing you artistic choices are out there for everyone to see.    I have decided a little outlined quilting on the sashing between the rows of blocks that have been stippled quilt will create a unified look.    It will put a little straight line in the middle of the quilt creating balance of curve and linear design.

Keep watch for the back side.

Winter Heat for Chickens

Snow does not stop chickens.

Snow does not stop chickens.

Yesterday we were under winter storm warnings around here, and tonight we have our first windchill warning.    This is the time many folks worry about their new flock of chickens and winter temperatures.    Chickens are like other livestock, given proper shelter, water and food they will do just fine.

I am not an advocate of supplemental heating for your chickens.   My reasons are as follows:

  • They don’t need it.   Like other animals they will acclimate if you allow them to do so.
  • Chickens don’t need or behave best if they have 24 hours of light.
  • Fire!  Especially heat lamps.
  • Why waste money?   A small light doesn’t cost much, but every penny counts.
  • If you have a proper size coop for your flock it will be warm enough.   In places where you get a bitter cold winter some insulation may be in order as well.  It is important that any drafty cracks and corners be taken care of too.

I keep their feeders full of layer pellets.    I supplement them with produce scraps, because they are use to free range the rest of the year.

I do use heated water dishes because all animals need access to lots of fresh water.  It makes it easier for me to keep drinkable water available to them.   Before I used a heated dish, it took many visits to the coop with hot water and a hammer.

When I Quilt It is Like Coloring Outside the Lines

Quilt2I finished my quilt top late yesterday.    It was a wonderfully relaxing experience.  No thinking about if the pattern was well written or incorporated all the time saving techniques that I would want to incorporate into the construction. I had done this pattern so many times before it was full of my handwritten notes about how to incorporate  the techniques that made construction go faster.   In just hours the top came together.    Almost instant gratification, a plus for me.

Next I was going to baste my layers.   I quickly found that my collection of batting did not include a baby/crib sized bat.   As much as I hate to run to town for just one thing, a baby shower invitation had come in the mail yesterday so postponing the trip until I had a multi-store list was not an option.

Once I had the layers all basted with my curved safety pins it was time for the part I call coloring outside the lines….quilting.   There are all sorts of rules, most of them made to be broken.   Actual quilting  is sort of like music it can be classic and subtle like white on white feathers, or it can be like kick-ass rock-n-roll with bright colors and jagged edges that should not work but do.

I spent some time with my sewing machine getting the thread I want to used all set up.   Then I did some test runs adjusting my tension to get that perfectly even stitch.   Then knowing it was late and my best quilting never comes when I am weary, I turned off the power for the night.

Knowing it has been years since I have done this I needed to let it perk and see what comes to mind for the quilting pattern on this baby quilt.   I already know I am working in a variegated pink-yellow-fuchsia thread on white fabric. I know my mistakes will be glaring to me if no one else.   I am thinking about the oxymoron of doing feathers, or maybe taking the easy way out and stippling.   I am in love with gridwork, should I plan and lay that one out or keep it simple.    Echo quilting can be some what of a hybrid of gridwork and stippling maybe that is the right approach for this quilt.

Hours later I am not sure how I plan to quilt this project.    This blog is postponing the inevitable.   Time to stop that, because the deadline has been set by that darn invitation.

Time to Get on the Stick and Quilt

quiltI have made what seems to me  like zillions of baby quilts over the years.    All my contemporaries and even their children are  done with little ones.      I have not made  a baby quilt for years.

A business associate found out this spring that she was unexpectedly expecting another second child.    I was by accident one of the first people she told via text, picking the wrong Diana in her contacts to break the news too.   I knew at that time I was going to be making another baby quilt.   This little one was a blessing this family had wanted and thought was not going to happen.

This baby quilt  has sat on the back burner for months and now is the time to get on the stick and get it done.   I have found my favorite baby quilt pattern with notes written all over it, pulled out my stand-by baby quilt fabrics, got my ruler and cutter ready, and oiled my sewing machine.   Daylight is burning and I have to put the pedal to the metal.

My Last Nerve


I haven’t posted for a few days and that is not normal for me.   Even stranger is I haven’t written either, not here or behind the scenes.  In short the reason is the world is on my last nerve.  Quite frankly I am sure that none of you really care to hear about I came to be at this point, so not going to go on about all the things wrong, stresses or other stuff that have taken me to the brink.  So much of what goes on is out of our control.  That lack of control can cause all sorts of feelings and in spite of it all life goes on.   And so do I.

Peace of Fishing


I grew up fishing.    My family fished in in little creeks and slow backwaters of rural Illinois.   I spent summers fishing in clear fresh water lakes in the land of 10,000 lakes.    I learned to appreciate fresh fish, my favorite being deep fried fresh beer batter.   Something that can’t be duplicate with a fish that was not caught earlier in the day nor with the nasty coatings that are put on commercially prepared fish.

As an adult I have not spent  much time fishing.   The other day I spent some time watching water flow and thought it might be time to spend more time fishing.