All Through the House

As mentioned in “I Must be Crazy”, I generally complete one quilt project before starting another but right now I have four going on at the same time. In addition my quilting daughter and I are discussing a joint endeavor for a friend. I have to say that having so many works in progress going on at once is leaving me frazzled and a little obsessed about getting something done.

Part of the problem is that Thanksgiving is now less than one week away and while I am frantically working on my quilts nothing else is getting done. The laundry sits unfolded, our dust bunnies have become family pets and you can write your name in the dust on the furniture. In addition, these projects having taking over the entire house!

Upstairs, there are two guest rooms. You would think that since I only need one of them for Thanksgiving that I would be able to confine my work into one room. Not so! In the one room, the bed has yet to be made ready but for the time being it is pushed against the wall so that the quilt frame bearing the “Friendship Twist” quilt can be fully opened. This is my immediate concern. With less than a week to go, I have only the final border to be quilted so it is possible that I can get it off the quilt frame. I am quilting like crazy and my old shoulder injury is bothering me, either from the quilting angle of the frame, repetitive motion or just a flare up but I dare not stop or see a doctor about it now. What if he tells me I have to stop quilting!!!!

In the second guest room I have the Autumn Star quilt lying on the floor with a possible border layout. Of course I am using the block choice that requires bringing the point into the border which means I do not have enough of that material. I have one strip of green left 24 inches long and 3.5 inches wide, not enough to make the points. Fortunately, my daughter has found a one yard wide back of the green, so after pre-treating and washing it I can move forward. This brings us to the third room in the house.

The mudroom includes our laundry area and my ironing board. At the moment, not only is the green fabric sitting on the ironing board waiting to be pressed but so is the extra yellow fabric for the donation dinosaur quilt. While gathering fabrics from my stash for this donation blanket, I discovered that I do not have enough of the yellow to make it. The dinosaur print, brown, yellow, white print and the yellow fabric had been given to me as a gift, so the best I could do was run to my local shop and match the yellow as close as possible.

The dining table holds my nightstand mat project. It is in the hand quilting stage and is small enough to place somewhere else. One of the bedrooms, perhaps? It sits there because the double doors out to the patio provided me with enough light to sew after a nor’easter came through knocking out power for 4 days. Easy enough to move, I just haven’t gotten around to it yet.

And finally, the dinosaur project. As I get older I find it difficult on my back to spend long periods of time cutting and laying out projects on our dining table. Then there is the laying out and basting part of the work while kneeling on a hard wood floor. Not only is this hard on the knees but after a short period of time it is difficult getting up off the floor. My husband has just completed a cutting table that is big enough both for cutting and laying out projects. This table sits in the loft above the garage, so yes I have taken over part of the garage too (my husband draws the line at the basement and his kitchen). This is where all the fabric for the dinosaur quilt is hanging out at the moment waiting for me to get around to cutting the yellow fabric, as well as the green for the Autumn Star quilt.

So, less that one week to Thanksgiving and quilt projects are all over the house. I wonder if my guests would mind if I handed them dust cloths and a dust mop when they walk through the door.


Allen Whitney Memorial Forest

By mid-October, it was time to take my car to Augusta to have it serviced for the winter. But Augusta was an hour away and I didn’t want to waste the trip, so naturally I researched the hiking opportunities in the area. I found references to the Allen Whitney Memorial Forest but the trail map on the New England Forestry Foundation website was not the best. Once I settled for the map on the Maine Trail Finder site I was ready. With map in hand and husband with a bad back in tow I set out to towards Augusta. I had promised the husband lunch at one of the pubs in Hallowell so he tolerated the pain of his bad back and came along.

By 9:30 we were out of the dealership and looking for the Allen Whitney Forest. I had printed out directions from google maps and read a blog posting about parking at the Meeting House Church, but when we followed the directions and consulted the map, the church was not where google said it should be. Puzzled, we backtracked and parked at a pull out for the forest. With trails on both sides of the road, we opted to hike the paths on the west side of the street first, then if time and my husband’s back held out we would hike the east side.

Although there were a few places where additional trails branched off to our left, we stayed on the main road that would take us to Shed Pond. Once at the pond, we stood at the edge of the water and studied the hill on the opposite shore. There have been reports that the autumn colors were late this year and not as spectacular as previous years, but I found there was still enough color for me to rejoice in the colorful display.

Making our way back towards the road, we decided to investigate one of the side trails. This path led us to the far end of the pond where we were able to admire the view from a different perspective. At this end of the road, there were a few routes that branched off in various directions. I am sure that one of those paths would create a loop that would take us back to the road, but, since I was not able to print out an entire trail map we decided to retrace our steps.

Within half an hour we were back at the car. I allowed my husband to stretch out his back a bit before we crossed the street to explore the trails on the east side of the road. In this part of the forest, the trees were numbered, I assumed for forest management purposes. We found a notice that one section had been completely cleared of ash trees in order to demonstrate the damage the ash borer would create.

Leaving the numbered trees behind, we meandered along a lovely wide lane trying to identify the different trees. When the road continued through the portal of a stone wall, we stopped to watch a chipmunk scurrying around within the gatepost. A little further along, we discovered that the map wasn’t quite matching up with the actual trail and for a short time we thought we had reached a dead end. Looking around, we finally found a sign that indicated the path was for hikers and bikers only. It seemed to be heading in the right direction and so we waded through a small overgrown section before we found ourselves back on a wider lane.

The trail in this section of the forest was surrounded by old stone walls on either side. As we began to hear road noise, I looked to my left and found the remnants of a fireplace and foundation. A few minutes later, we exited the forest and found ourselves in a field behind the Meeting House Church. The Meeting House was located south of where we parked, not on the north side as google maps implied. We walked up to the road to the car and as promised, I took my husband to Hallowell for lunch. He was pleased.

Ridge to River Trail

During the second week of October, my friend and I decided to hike the Ridge to River trail in Searsmont. My goal for the day was to at least hike to the top of the ridge to take in the autumn views and possibly on towards the river, a distance of about 1.5 miles. If conditions were right, we could even enjoy lunch by the river.

After parking at the lot on Ghent Road, we made our way across the road and on to the trail. There was a lot of erosion on this portion of the path and I found the footing a bit treacherous. In fact, I had visions of repeating an episode that occurred a few years ago when I was hiking with my daughter at Payson Park. On that day, we were hiking along a ridge above a river when I lost my footing and had to make the decision to slide down the embankment or twist the other way. I leaned away from the ridge and landed on my shoulder, which I subsequently could not move by the time we returned home. On this trip, I made it safely beyond the narrow path and we continued on our way.

Our route took us through the woods for a short distance before opening out on to a field. We followed the trail through the middle of the field just as the wind came up, lifting milkweed seeds into the air. Hundreds of seeds swirled around us and we laughed at the thought of being in a magic place filled with fairy dust. It was truly one of those events where a picture cannot capture the magic or emotions that one experiences at the time. Another lesson we learned that day was to turn around and look at the landscape behind you. We remembered to turn around just before crossing Route 131 and were rewarded with a beautiful autumn landscape.

Once we crossed the road, we walked through a short section of woods before entering another field. We were a bit concerned about losing the blue blazes but there was a path along the side of the field, so we continued on. It wasn’t until we reached the next road crossing at Appleton Ridge Road that we realized we had lost the trail. We studied the map for a bit before walking up the road a ways until we found the blue blazes running alongside another field. We strolled along this path until the blue blazes directed us back into the woods.

It was a good thing we kept some distance from each other, because at one point my friend stopped short. A small snake was sunning itself right in the middle of the path, and it had no intention of moving out of anybody’s way. That snake stayed there while we took a number of photos. It still refused to move when we stomped on the ground nearby. Finally, after I kicked some leaves towards it, the snake moved slightly off the path so we could walk around it and continue on our way.

There were some uphill and downhill moments in this section, and each time things seemed to be getting steep we thought about turning around. Neither one of us wanted to make that decision since we really wanted to make it to the river but we were also afraid that the river might be beyond our reach. Ultimately, we would tell each other that we would travel on just a little bit further. Finally, my friend suggested we go a little further up the ridge towards a definite tree line, and there below us we found our body of water. We walked along the stream until we found a log where we could sit and enjoy our lunch.

After lunch, we made our way back towards Ghent Road. Along the way, we discovered where we had lost the trail. It was funny in a way, because I had commented about a red mark on a tree to our left. That tree had been directly across from the blue marked trail to our right. To be fair, the blue marker was far enough into the woods from the wider trail that it was easily missed. From this point, we quickly reached Ghent Road and the end of another wonderful hike.

I Must be Crazy

Normally, I am the type of person who is pretty obsessed about finishing one project before beginning another, so what am I thinking to have 4 quilt projects going on at the same time! And if 4 assignments are not enough, I still need to attach a label to the comforter I finished in the spring. I must be crazy! Either that, or like a wooly caterpillar that puts on an extra layer of fuzz to predict a bad winter I am lining my nest with things to do during the inclement winter months. Just a theory.

So, how did this happen? I am currently still working on my Friendship Twist quilt. It is half-way through the hand quilting phase and I would like to get it off the quilt frame before the holiday guests arrive in December. But sitting in front of the frame one day, I thought about another donation quilt. Soon enough, I am in front of my fabric cabinet pulling out contenders for this gift. I am told that charities are very appreciative of receiving items geared towards boys, so out comes a dinosaur print and matching material.

In the meantime, knowing how annoyed I was to discover a black water ring on a bedroom night-table that was brand new, my husband has stripped and refinished the table. With this in mind, I pull some fabrics to create table mats for both guest room night-tables and a small display table near the living room. The guest room tables will be a light tan floral print surrounded by a green leafy material. Because these table are larger than the display stand, I will add borders on each side. These mats are currently assembled and I am in the hand quilting phase. I would like to have at least the covers for the guest rooms finished by Christmas.

A quilt blog that I read regularly, From My Carolina Home, just put up a quilt along pattern for the month of October. I am so excited by the colors and patterns for this Stars on Autumn Lane quilt that I pull some Artisan Landscape oranges from my stash to get started. I decide to reverse the background from light to dark and pull a green to compliment the oranges. I may call my project Autumn Stars.

My first task on the last three activities is to prewash the fabrics with color catchers and make sure they do not run. The place-mat fabrics are fine, but alas the greens for both the donation and autumn projects turn the color catchers green. In addition the brown fabric with interlocking squares and the black with stars for the dinosaur quilt also run. Fortunately, as mentioned in my Fabric Color Story, I have discovered Retayne which is a dye fixative. This does mean that I have to spend a morning treating these fabrics in the utility sink, then re-washing them in the machine with new color catcher sheets. To be on the safe side, I decide to save a step and just treat the Artisan Landscape orange fat quarters. As expected the sheets come clean in the next washing. I am now ready to cut pieces for the dinosaur and autumn quilt.

As I am telling an acquaintance about my one project at a time philosophy and going crazy with 4 (or 5 if you count the quilt that needs a label) simultaneous assignments, she stops me and says, “oh so you are now a quilter”. So with multiple works in progress for the first time in my life, I have finally become a quilter.


Howe Hill

One day in early October, I received a last minute call from a friend asking me to join her on a hike. She also wanted me to pick out the hiking place. It was already well past lunch time, so I had to think of a place that was close by. I thought for a short time, before suggesting the nearby Hodson Rheault trail.

We followed the trail along the stream as we made our way to the bridge that would take us to the Rheault easement. Since September had been hot and dry, it was no surprise that the stream was completely dry. Even the mushrooms seemed to be done at this point, although we did find one interesting white fungus with 4 prongs furling out from the base.

My friend had never hiked this place before and she was delighted with the dark woods, the rock filled stream bed and the stone walls. I guess we spent the uphill climb pointing out different things and chatting about everything, because it wasn’t long before we had reached the blueberry field at the end of the easement. Since the farming season was over and the land trust had an agreement with the farm owners allowing hikers to follow a trail up to the top of Howe Hill, we continued on a dirt road towards the summit.

Walking through the fields we spotted some small pale yellow butterflies, flitting along the few remaining flowers of the year. Neither one of us attempted to take a photo of these elusive dancers, opting to continue on through the blueberry fields arrayed in their reddish autumn hues. Across the fields, I could make out Hatchett Mountain and the zig-zag hiking trail leading up the mountain.

Our journey ended at a large, flat stone with the “Howe” family name carved into the top. In front of us, we studied a contrail cloud rising up from Bald Mountain, giving the mountain the appearance of an active volcano. Then we sat and studied our surroundings for a while, talking about family, life, emotions, health and all sorts of things that friends talk about. Reaching no conclusions, we contemplated the landscape once more before heading back towards the preserve and the end of our spontaneous adventure.