Thursday, July 31, 2008

Don't you want to hear about my shed?

(Here's where I'm gonna earn that blog title. I'm just warning you.)

(I photoshopped out my neighbors because when I'm in my back yard, I like to pretend I'm in my own little forest, but it is harder to ignore stuff like chainlink in photos.)

When we bought our house, we had a nasty ol' rusty, short, metal shed that was dented and caved in. (I would post a picture, but it would ruin my blog.) I surveyed my new property and, having little tots, I knew we'd immediately tear it down. It was also full of wasp nests, spiders, box elder beetles. Along comes my brother on moving day and tells BFJ, "Oh! You'll be glad you have a shed for all those things you don't want in your garage! Wish I had one." BFJ's eyes got hazy as the internal slideshow started: all the things he can put in his new shed. Nevermind that we didn't own any of them.

So a few years went by, we acquired a few lawn care items, but for 8 months out of the year, the screechy door stayed shut. Finally one day I asked BFJ, "What will it take for you to let me tear that thing down?" "Build a new one," says he. Well of course; silly question. In the meantime, I have fallen in much like with my MIL's cute little shed. The lights go dim and my own internal slideshow starts.

The following spring, the tax return came and I suggested we get on that project. BFJ: "Why would you want to spend all that time and money on something no one will see? What about that pile of dirt up against the house in the front yard?" Now hmmmm. Who do you suppose put that big pile of dirt up against the house? (I'll give you a hint: only two of us in the house can heft a shovel, and it wasn't me.) So, we built a little retaining wall that year. I didn't know flagstone cost so much. Mere cents a pound - ha!

January 2008: I begged him not to talk me out of building a new shed again.

Oh, I forgot to mention as I was visiting with my neighbor one day, she said, "A transient lived in that shed before you bought the house." Good to know.

March 2008: I took the old one down, piece by piece. My local recycle guy took it off my hands; the roof was aluminum - I got money back! My dad came and stayed with us for a week and helped me build a new shed. It has studs 16" on center; it has headers and cripple studs. It has doors and windows that open. We used pieces of lumber that the old house owners had left; we used reclaimed windows; one of my dad's friends donated shingles for the roof. I had to buy most of the supplies, but it was nice to recycle a few things. It has Hardie Board siding. Did I really need that? Probably not. It was my dad's suggestion, and then the guy at the lumber yard sold me leftovers from Jason Elam's house; supposedly I got a good deal, and my husband thinks the shed should be orange and blue. (He's a Falcon now but which team was he on for the past fourteen years?) My shed should be around a long time. My dad custom-made the doors for me. My dad made the ramp. My dad did the roofing. I swing a hammer when I have to but obviously, I was the GC and my dad was the labor. Didn't he do a great job? Everyone who stopped by during building said, "(BFJ) can have a smoking den!" "(BFJ) should throw some electricity out here so he can watch games!" Who built the shed? Well actually, BFJ did help quite a bit. We share it; he has to put the lawnmower somewhere.

One of my favorite parts of the shed are the windows. My uncle called from Nebraska one day and asked if I wanted a bunch of windows. Do I? He was helping someone tear down a house, and they were going to toss all the windows in the trash. He knew I would do something better with them. I did, didn't I. Three sides have windows and I have a couple spares. If you take a good look, you can see ripples in the glass.

There are also recycled bricks, flagstone pavers, stumps that serve as Seats For Friends, and the handle on the little door is from an old sink faucet. My grandfather, who never threw anything away, used to be a plumber, and I found it in a box of Stuff at his house.

Were you curious about the little door? That is for the short people in my house. They have their own door, with their own lock, which they can reach. This way, they can put their own trowels and gloves and trucks and cars away. I can put weed killer and paint in my part of the shed, and I know they will not be able to reach it until they are tall enough to reach the hook at the top of the door.

So, there's my shed for you. I LOVE MY SHED. If you like sheds as much as I do, you'll want to check out the Garden Shed Hall of Fame sometime. By the way, my dad's not a builder by trade; he's a minister.
Oh, one more thing: my shed is still mostly empty, but it is full of possibilities.

Goodbye July

It is currently 100 degrees out in my neighborhood.

I used to have a job where I called internal customers all over the country. People would always ask, "Do you have a four-wheel drive?" Actually, I did have a Jeep Wrangler, but I'd tell them you don't have to have 4WD, people just like them. Then they'd ask, "Don't you have snow?" And actually, yes, there is always snow in Colorado. Even now, if I could move a few trees, I could see snow on top of the Rocky Mountains. But, that's a few thousand feet above where I live. Here in the metro area, we are working on breaking a record of most days in a row over 90. I know, it's no Death Valley, but a snowman would melt pretty quick today!

PS Thanks, Caryn, for the SiteMeter!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Good Company Sweetens the Tea

Strange how a teapot can represent at the same time the comforts of solitude and the pleasures of company. ~Author Unknown
Don't you love things that come in a tin?
Today, we had a friend for tea. This is currently one of my favorite drinks; I like it iced. It does have a citrus taste, and is a bit mild. Personally, I enjoy unsweetened tea, especially if it is served with sweets.
Once, I read a book by the Duchess wherein she said that she did not understand how Americans can drink tea from bags because it ruins the flavor. My brother-in-law also claims that loose tea is better. I don't have a strong preference but when I bought this tea at my local tea shop, it only came loose, so the lady there recommended T-Sacs, which are empty tea bags. You can put as much tea in it as you want, if you prefer a stronger brew, or are making a larger pot. Well, there you go; I am still drinking my tea from paper bags. I guess that's why it makes no difference to me.

On the other hand, I asked my British friend, Melanie, if she agreed with the Duchess. Mel said she did not mind tea bags, but she doesn't understand why American restaurants serve tea with water that is tepid. She said it must be boiling hot in order to really bring out the flavor. I started waiting until after my kettle actually whistles to remove it from the stove, and I have found that she is right.

However you take your tea, it is nice to share it with some little friends. You might be surprised how well a little boy can behave if he is at a tea party.

You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me. ~C.S. Lewis

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Fracture Update (or I KNEW I Was Right)

Speed broke his arm five weeks ago, a compound, open, fracture. One of my worst days as a parent. But anyway... He got his cast off a week ago and the doctors and medical people who've seen him since the break all swear that nothing is wrong with his arm. It hangs there, limply, not doing any of its jobs - coloring, holding, brushing, and he can't put his thumb up. My friend works for an orthopedic clinic and made an appointment for us with one of their doctors. I was so relieved when he said it was radial nerve damage and most likely will heal completely. He did give us some stretching suggestions, and they made a splint to keep the wrist up; this will help the fingers to be able to hold onto things better. Just in time for school.
Sometimes, you just have to trust your instincts, regardless of what the Experts tell you.

Monday, July 28, 2008


I feel like I spent the whole weekend talking my kids into doing things that are good for them: attending your own birthday party, going on the water slides, playing games at Bible school. I just can't figure out what the problem is, sometimes. Urgh.

Sorry, Mom, no camera at the water park, today. Sometimes I have to leave my camera at home and remember to participate in life. Although, I did have a big twinge of regret as The Bruise came down the little slide with sheer glee on his face. Luckily, Nat reminded me that my camera would be wet; yes, and I would have spent the whole day worrying about getting good shots, instead of playing with my boys.

Block Swap

The first time I attended a quilt guild meeting, the members were having their annual block swap. I had heard about it a few days before, from the lady who invited me, but being a hand-piecer, and having no inspiration off the top of my head, I did not participate. Boy, was I sorry! The theme for that year was Halloween, and the only restrictions were you had to bring twelve blocks, and they had to be 12 1/2 inches. There were so many neat blocks. One person had made traditional Spider Web blocks, another had made Sunbonnet Sue-type blocks, but they were trick-or-treaters.

I knew I'd participate the next year, for sure. The next year, the theme was baskets; they had to be on point, 12 inches. I pieced my baskets but did not get them completed by the deadline. Most of them are done now, but I still have a few waiting for handles.

Last year, the exchange was for six 36" strips, the theme was Spring, and there was a required background fabric, so that all the pieces would be cohesive. I started out to do that exchange, but my pieces didn't come out straight, and before I thought of another idea, I lost the background fabric - all two yards of it.

Well, this year was twelve 9" blue and white blocks. Finally, something I could handle! I started out with a more complex block, but as the deadline approached, I ended up with these:

The name of the block is Three Kings' Journey from this book. Of course, the title refers to the magi going to see Baby Jesus, but I also thought of my own three little kings.

Here are all the blocks (only nine people participated.)

Since all my baskets are blue, I thought of putting them with the blue and white swap blocks, but they are different sizes. I'm undecided. Anyway, I think it is a lot of fun to exchange blocks with others. Here's another blog on block swaps.

(By the way, the quilt that my basket block is laying on top of is a quilt my great-grandmother made.)

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Happy Birthday, Zoom

fountain behind the museum

Yesterday, we went to the museum. The big hits were gems and minerals, dinosaurs, and of course, the Egyptian mummy.

Big discover of the week: he CAN tie his shoes, all by himself.

Today, we did this:

Sue's Sampler

This quilt started out as a way to experiment with new blocks but my mom immediately exclaimed over them and I knew it should belong to her. Consequently, the other blocks were chosen to represent her. The blocks are (left to right, top to bottom) Airplane, April Tulips, Lily of the Field, Rosebud, Crown of Thorns, Church, Bride's Bouqet, Byzantine Star, Delectable Mountains, Storm at Sea, Road to Oklahoma, Lucky Clover, Grandmother's Fan, Fox and Geese, Christmas Star, and Four-Patch. All of the blocks have a common fabric, the black floral, also the post fabric in the post-and-beam sashing. I am planning to add a post-and-beam border, also. I am looking forward to quilting this but haven't finished anything this big before. I have done some lap quilts in a hoop. Although I was given a quilt frame by my aunt, I don't know where I'd set it up.

In trying to find a place to photograph the quilt this morning, my BFJ suggested that I put quilt clamps under the eaves of my shed so I can hang them by myself. What a good idea! Now I have to find some clamps.

Pumpkin in the garden

And a volunteer, no less.

Friday, July 25, 2008

New Pencils

"I would send you a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils if I knew your name and address."
- from You've Got Mail
It's school-supply shopping day here. I love the smell of new paper; and old paper, for that matter. New school supplies are like a blank slate, open to all the possibilities in life. What will your new notebook become? A love note, a mystery novel, a diary, a grocery list, doodles?
A new school year: new channels for creativity, mysteries of the universe slowly unfolding; new friends.
Kind of like a new blog. I can almost smell the virtual pencil shavings.