Monday, December 28, 2009


As I always say at this time of year, where did the time go? It's not like I was overly busy with things, but I guess it goes no matter what's going on. I do feel like I slowed down this year and that's not necessarily a good thing. I guess 5 years into retirement I'm just trying to find my way.

New Year's Resolutions? Not this year. I've done them for nearly 60 years and rarely have any of them lasted very long. I know what needs to be done and only promise to try to work some things off that list.

One thing I intend to do is to blog more and try to keep it interesting. I'll have more RenFest pictures this week and want to do more ancestor pics and history. I've been reading the authorized biography of Elizabeth, The Queen Mother, and it's a fascinating read. My life and my ancestors don't seem to me to be nearly that interesting, but there are a few good stories there.

I'm hoping that everyone in the world has a better year - that we learn to live in peace and tolerance - that we realize that our way isn't always the best way for others - that we understand we must work together instead of blaming the other person for all the woes in the world.

Peace, my friends.

Monday, December 14, 2009


I just wanted to show off a couple of aprons I made from a pattern I got at the Quilt Festival. I use a MODA jelly roll from the "American Primer" collection. It's full of those wonderfully folksy reds, blues, golds and greens. Both aprons are lined with a fabric from the collection.

The first one features mostly reds and blues with a bit of the gold.

This is the second apron. Although it's made from the same jelly roll set, it has a bit of a different look to it. It features blue, gold and cream with a tad of red at the bottom.

I really like them both, but I'll have to make another one for me as they have both been sold. They will make great Christmas presents.


I think this is something every quilter needs - a feline fabric sitter. This is Boo sitting atop a stack of squares for some patriotic quilts that are to go overseas. She said that she wanted to make sure they didn't go anywhere. Makes sense to me!! lol

I caught this pic of Mr. G a while ago. I walked out the door into the garage and there he was lounging on the Jeep during our drippy weather. If you look close you can see the cat prints all over the hood. I guess I'll just back it out in the next shower for a good rinse.

Friday, December 4, 2009


Well, my picture taking attempts didn't yield too much, but here's what I got. It's snowed a bit more since the pictures, but is slacking off now and there seems to be some rain mixed in again. It's gonna be a cold, cold night so the ice is going to be the biggest problem as it's still wet out there.

This a view down the street taken from my driveway. You can see the snow on the grass and the SUV.

This shows the snow on the fence taken from the living room window. You can see snow on the roof in the distance.

This is another view of the backyard. You can see the flakes coming down.

Since it's going to be very cold tonight I made up a bed for Mr. G in the back of the garage. He seems pretty snuggled in without any desire to go outside. In fact, when I came in from taking pictures in the driveway he gave me a look to say, "If you open that door again, I'm going to bite you. It's cold out there, lady!!" He's very funny. I would bring him in the house, but he hates being in the house and doesn't do well inside at all. He will do fine in his little bed as it's well insulated.


It's snowing in Houston, Texas!! It's the earliest snowfall on record, I believe. Another way it's unusual is that it also snowed last year and it rarely does that two years on a row. Everyone is in a dither around here, especially since we are to get some "accumulation", as the forecasters call it. It was raining when I got up about 7:00 this morning and it has gradually mixed in some snow. It's still a mix, but getting to be more snow and less rain. The worst part is that the temps are dropping and we are going to have a hard freeze tonight. With all this moisture we will definitely have some ice on the streets and bridges. A lot of the yahoos around here can't drive right when it rains so it will be interesting to see what happens with the ice. I tried to take some pictures of the snow earlier, but I found it to be very elusive. I'll keep trying and post the pictures when you can actually see it.

Friday, November 27, 2009


Finally I have some pictures of the Renaissance Festival to post for your enjoyment. These were all taken by my friend, Sandi, on her cell phone and I think they came out pretty darn good, don't you?

So here I am in my RenFest dress and robe in the midst of the festival, probably trying to figure out where the heck Sandi got off to. And all the time she was taking my picture!

Here's the guy who does the show with all the great birds like the falcon he has on his hand. It's great exhibition with owls and hawks and other trained birds. It's definitely a must see at the festival.

This is a closer look at me in my dress and great Tudor Robe (thank you, Maryellen). I also got the bag at the festival and it was so nice not to have to carry a purse!! Everything I needed fit in the bag perfectly. In my hand is a bag of the most wonderful roasted almonds. I always stop by the nut place when I'm at RenFest. Great and healthy snacking!

This is a view of some of the participants in the parade that takes place every day at noon. All of the actors and vendors march in the parade and it's quite fun.

Just a picture of some of the folks attending the festival. It was such a beautiful day and there were lots and lots of people.

And, finally, the long walk back to the car after a great day.

I'll be going thru the rest of the pics and post more in the next day or so.

Monday, November 23, 2009


Yesterday I finally got out to the Texas Renaissance Festival. There's only one more weekend to go so I'm glad I didn't miss it. I love to go, just to get into another world and do some people watching. I also get a lot of exercise from walking to see the multitude of vendors, not to mention the varied performances. I've been going out there for many years and the place has grown and grown. It's getting where you can't really do it justice in one day, but I have my favorite vendors so, if I get to see them, I'm happy.

I have pictures, but they are not ready to post yet, so keep an eye out. I actually went in costume this year, which makes it that much more fun. I had a beautiful deep green dress I got out there a number of years ago. This year, my dear friend and seamstress, Maryellen Mcauliffe, made me a lovely Tudor Robe to wear over the dress. I got so many compliments on it!!

I would highly recommend that anyone visit a renaissance festival near you. It's a day of fun and make believe. It's a great opportunity to get away from the humdrum of everyday living. And if you like people watching, this is the best place ever! There is something about the place that lets people be themselves and have fun.

My friend, Sandi, went out with me this year and we had a blast. It's nice to go with someone who appreciates what a rare opportunity a renaissance festival presents to be someone else in another time for a few hours.

Anyway, pictures to follow. Stay tuned!!

Saturday, November 21, 2009


I just had to post this picture today. There is a family of kitties living in my back yard and they are truly a family unit. This picture shows the little ones curled up with Daddy for a mid-morning nap. (Mom is scheduled to be trapped and spayed. Then we'll get dad and the little ones.)
Although Daddy can be ornery when other, non-family, cats are around, he is so good with the little ones. He seems to look after them when Mom is off doing whatever Moms do. He's very gentle with them. The cat at the top if the picture is one of his sons from a previous litter. The whole family interacts and plays together and it's really cute to watch. This shows that kitty dads do hang around to help take care of the kids sometimes.

This is a picture taken last month of the whole family together. Kinda cute.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


Well, I had an interesting weekend dealing with an elusive water leak. Saturday afternoon I discovered water seeping into the MBR closet. Luckily I have vinyl laminate flooring that I could pull up. Did that and found that the water was coming in under the outside wall. It wasn't coming in fast and once I took up the flooring it just stayed right under the wall. I went outside and looked and could see water coming down the wall under the siding, right where the water supply comes into the house.

I asked my neighbor across the street for his advice. He told me how to look inside the wall for the leak and loaned me the little knife you use to cut sheetrock. I cut in several places, found what I assumed was the water pipe and couldn't find the leak. I thought the water may be coming from the pipe the previous owner had added to take the water to a faucet in the back yard.

On Sunday I decided to eliminate the extra pipe and, in trying to take it all apart I accidentally split a copper pipe. (Lesson learned - always use two wrenches when dealing with copper pipe, one to turn the attachment and one to hold the main pipe since copper is so soft.) My neighbor said it would take soddering to fix it so I called the plumber. He was able to fix that so I could turn the water back on. I thought the original leak was taken care of since no water had leaked in Sunday afternoon. Well, later Sunday evening, after the water had been turned back on and the plumber was long gone, the seepage was back.

I called the plumber Monday morning (I should say plumbing company) and they send out someone very promptly. One thing I found was that I had been checking the wrong pipe! Water rarely leaks from the gas pipe. lol Anyway, he came in, cut away more sheetrock and found where the water was seeping from a soddered joint at the elbow where the pipe turned down to go through the slab. It was a tight space to use a blow torch, but he got it fixed without burning down the house. He did singe a bit of the inside of the siding, but nothing major. A couple of tries with the sodder and a good whack with the wrench resulted in a fix.

Now I will be learning how to patch drywall!! Since that is one of the things my across the street neighbor does for a living, I'm sure I'll be doing it right. For the duration I have a piece of plywood covering the opening to keep the cold air and bugs out and the cats in (they can crawl inside the wall).

I'm just so pleased that this was finally fixed. It was a tiny leak - it didn't even move the water meter - but it could have caused lots of damage. In fact, I was so energized that I sorted out and bagged up some shoes to go to the charity shop and then vacuumed and mopped the bedroom floor, wiped down the walls, windowsills, and furniture. All I need to do to finish is move the bed and clean behind and under it. Wow!!

Anyway, this has been a learning experience and now I know how to tell the difference between water and gas pipes! (Water is smaller copper, gas is bigger black pipe)

Sunday, November 8, 2009


I just wanted to take a minute to share a picture I took this morning of this beautiful hibiscus out on the deck. As much as I lament the lack of seasons here in southeast Texas, there are advantages to having mild weather so late in the year. The trees are still green and the flowers are still blooming. There's still plenty of time for those sudden cold fronts that shock everyone into their coats, but right now it's pretty darn nice. For those folks where it's already snowed or just cold, I'm sorry, but I have to say it -


Thursday, October 29, 2009


A couple of weeks ago I went to the International Quilt Festival held here in Houston. It's been going on here for years and this was the first year I actually got my butt in gear and went down there. My oh my it was an experience. There were what seemed like millions of vendors of everything and anything to do with sewing, embroidery and quilting. And the quilts on display were as diverse as any exhibition I had ever seen. By the time I was done looking at everything I was suffering from a severe case of sensory overload!! lol

I did take some pictures of some of the quilts on display that caught my eye and my imagination and I've posted them below. The first two are vintage quilts ca 1845 or so. The rest are contemporary. Enjoy.

Sunday, October 25, 2009


My online group, Quilters Corner Group, has just listed a beautiful rag quilt on ebay. All of the proceeds of the auction will go to the Susan G. Komen Foundation. Members of the group, including me, contributed a variety of blocks for this quilt and one member sewed it together. It is the best thing we've done so far. Go check it out at and make a bid or two. Or three or four! The auction ends October 31 so get a move on!

Isn't there someone you know who would love getting a present as beautiful as this quilt?

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


Here is the lastest member of the family. His provisional name is Cody. I found him out front the morning after the storm moved thru, all wet and dirty, but purring up a storm. He's a cream point with a lot of Siamese in him. I asked around and no one I talked to knew where he belonged so I guess I'll keep him. I know, don't need another mouth to feed, but what else could I do?

Yesterday I took Cody to the vet to get checked out and be sure he didn't have any communicable diseases. Even tho she doesn't usually do surgeries on Mondays, the vet offered to neuter him so I left him there and ran some errands. (I guess it was a slow day.) I picked him up yesterday afternoon all groggy from the anesthesia, but still purring. All his tests came back negative except he has ear mites and hook worms. A dose or two of Revolution should take care of that. He slept most all of the afternoon and evening. And he's about 7 - 8 months old and weighs 7 lbs, which is just about perfect for his age.

This morning he was back to his cuddly, purry self. I've been racking my brain to try to come up with an appropriate name for him and Cody seems to be the top pick. He's residing in the back bedroom with some of the older guys who are a bit hissy, but will accept him when he stops smelling like the vet. Here are a couple of pictures of Cody and one of Ben and Jerry, his new big brothers. Isn't there quite the family resemblance?


Cody - look at that tail!

Ben (l) and Jerry (r)

Sunday, October 4, 2009


The only picture I could find of Miss Betty was in PDD format which is used by Photoshop. Don't know how that happened, but I found a friend who has Photoshop to convert it to jpeg and here is it. It was taken in 2003, but she hadn't changed a bit.

She was cute and petite and a bit camera shy. But she was a great cat.


This morning I went out on the deck to feed the "outside" cats and found that the elder female, Miss Betty, had passed away. I had turned a large litter box that had a scoop on one side upside down for shelter from the rain and I had seen her going in and out over the past few days. When I went out this morning I realized that her tail was in the same spot as yesterday and I hadn't seen her out. Well, she was gone. She hadn't appeared sick and didn't look like she had any injuries. It looked like she just went to sleep. A good a way to go as any.

I'm not sure how old she was, but I have rescued a number of her kittens and the oldest was born in 2000. So she was probably at least 10. It took me three years to trap and spay Miss Betty. She was a smart and sly woman cat. Miss Betty was a small, brown tabby and part of a larger group that has dwindled over the years. She leaves her companion Mr. Guy as the last of the group. She was a great mom to her kittens and knew when she brought them here that they would be brought inside and found good homes.

She will be greatly missed as she was a wonderful cat. She's now at the Rainbow Bridge.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


There is a cat that hangs around here I call Mr. G. The G is for gray - he's a beautiful gray tuxedo guy. He's been around for a couple of years and, I think, belonged to someone once upon a time. He was a young adult who had been neutered and had a collar when I first met him. Over the years it has become obvious that whoever had him in the beginning was no longer around. He's a very sweet and loving guy and would make someone a great pet. However, he has no love for being in the house. I've tried to take him in a couple of times and he is clearly uncomfortable inside. He did take refuge with us during the hurricane last year and seemed to realize it was the best place to be for the duration.

I always leave small bowls of food and water out front for Mr. G as he doesn't seem to want to go in the back with the ferals. If I leave the garage door open he spends many days sprawled out on the top of the Jeep. I guess he feels safe up there and can catch all the breezes. He will go off for a while several times during the day and then come back. Of course I wonder where he goes and the other day I found one of his other "perches".

I was out looking for him and something made me look up in the tree.

I caught sight of white paws and upon closer inspection, there was Mr. G, securely settled among the limbs like a jungle cat. His perch seems very secure, even when the wind was blowing.

He's not always there, but I'm glad he's found another secure place to while away the day.
This is a picture taken of Mr. G last year when someone had put a collar on him. Isn't he just the handsomest thing?


I should have blogged about this before, but I have just over a day left on a special ebay listing. I've listed a beautiful set of books of The Arabian Nights on ebay for a dear friend. Her late husband was an avid book collector and now she is having to sell off his collection. This 16 volume set is in near mint condition and listed at a very good price, but I will consider all offers. Check out the listing here and let me know what you think. If you know any book collectors, please pass this on as this set would make a wonderful addition to any library.

Monday, September 21, 2009


Well, it's that time of the month again. No, I don't mean that special visit from Mother Nature! I'm talking about the Quilters Corner Group's Red Tag Sale. Again this month you will find lots of great deals on lots of neat stuff!! I myself have a few listings that all start at $.99 so go to Ebay and search QCG Red Tag to find the sale items.

Saturday, September 19, 2009


I just wanted to report that the rescued puppy, Midnight, has found her forever home! Neighbor ran an ad on Craigslist and, after two weeks, finally got two responses in a row. The first was a lady and her granddaughter, age 11, whose previous dog had died a while back. Neighbor visited with them and decided they would be a good match. Midnight has been with them for about a week and is settling in nicely. Everyone is very happy at the great outcome of this rescue.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


I can't tell you how amazing it was to see the cracks close up and the doors work properly after the foundation leveling. In the master bedroom I hadn't been able to close the closet door for a long, long time. The best I could do was to slam it as hard as I could to lodge it in the space and keep the cats out. The frame around the door was actually slipping off the sheetrock and the crack was making its way across the wall. There was such a gap between the frame and the door on entry to the master bedroom, that I had to shim out the strike plate with cardboard, nuts and washers just to keep the door latched. For the hall bath there was the same problem as the closet door. Also in the hall, the doors to the A/C unit and the hot water heater would open at will. There was a space under the wall between the garage and the house that got to be at least 1" and it ran from the master bedroom, thru the laundry area and into the kitchen. The walls above the door to the garage and the entry from the dining area to the kitchen were separating from the ceiling. The front door was sticking and there were assorted cracks everywhere.

In the small amount of time that it took to actually jack up the foundation, the vast marjority of those problems either disappeared or diminished. You have to see it so I'm posting some before and after pics. I hope that helps you to see what a difference this dusty, dirty, noisy process made.


Above the door from the kitchen to the garage. See the space at the top and the crack from the corner of the door?

This is the door from the dining area to the kitchen seen from the dining area side.

This is the infamous closet door. That's as closed as it would get. Look at the crack - there was a matching one on the other side and you could see the light through it.


Look, ma!! No more space above the wall!

The most amazing transformation of all - the closet door!

There are still a lot of cracks to patch, but they are closed cracks. I've been told to wait about 60 days to do any patching which is fine with me. It will be cool weather and much better for patching and painting.

I hope everyone has learned something about foundation problems in Houston and the great work that can be done to fix them.

Sunday, September 13, 2009


Sorry to be so long between parts, but I've had lots of errands to run and a fridge to restock. And the rain makes me lazy. Oh, well! lol

So where were we? Ah, yes. The concrete has been removed and the holes have been dug. The most remarkable part is just beginning. For the most part they have tried to place the piers under the foundation beams as that will affect more of the foundation with fewer piers.
When the holes are dug, they have dig out to the side as well as down so they have a place to drive the piers. The way the holes are dug there is a place for the worker to sit while they drive the piers. Take note - when they are sitting in the holes, the tops of their heads are at about floor level. Those are deep holes!!!

To drive the piers they use an electric kind of jack that appears to use the weight of the foundation above to help move the piers down thru the dirt to bedrock. They use round concrete piers that are about a foot high and maybe 8" in diameter. (These are my estimates from observation and not from actually measuring. ) As I remember it took about 16 of these to reach bedrock!! This is not a quick process, but it a bit less labor intensive than the digging. These cylinders also have a small hold in the center into which rebar is inserted for extra strength.
Once the piers are all driven the the real fun begins. They bring a hand-operated jack into each hole and the foundation is jacked up all at the same time. They do a few pumps of the jack, measure, more pumps, until the foundation is level. The change is so subtle, but so dramatic. Example - my computer armoire fits into a corner that is in the approximate middle of the house. For a while now I had to keep a hold on the sliding keyboard drawer while typing to keep it from rolling back into the unit. I was working on the computer while they were doing the leveling and it suddenly occured to me that the drawer wasn't rolling back any more.

After everything is confirmed level, they they put a rectangular block of concrete on top and then two smaller cylinders on top of that. Then they have to start filling in the holes. That means bringing all the dirt back in. After filling the holes they water in the dirt to be sure it's well packed. Then they pour concrete patches over the dirt and all is pretty well finished. To make sure there were no kitty prints or Barbara prints in the concrete, they placed the same boards over them that they had used to cover the holes overnight. The did boost them up with some of the metal shims they use to let air come in to hasten the curing. (They used the excess dirt to fill in around the foundation where the shrinkage had opened voids.)

I also had to have one new pier outside, just past the front door and the process is the same except for the concrete patches. The crew was nice enough to put some concrete around a fence post that had been loosened by the digging. Believe me, that post won't be going anywhere for a long, long time!!!

At the beginning they had planned to shim up some existing piers located under the wall between the garage and the house, but they also ended up having to shim up two more on one outside wall of the garage.

I have to commend this crew from Atlas Foundations for their professionalism and courtesy. The tolerated my curiosity about the process and answered all my questions to my satisfaction. I would have them work in my house again in a minute!

This is just the dirt from the bedroom and hall!
The dirt from the kitchen was out in the driveway.

Driving the piers outside.

Driving the piers inside (in the kitchen).
See how deep this hole is?

After the foundation is jacked up.
Can you see the space between the slab and the top of the dirt?
It's about 4"!

Finally, the work is done!

Tomorrow I'll post the "after" pics. Really amazing stuff!!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


Ok, I'm back for Part 2. The first thing the crew leader did was to review what the other guy had proposed. Then I showed him all the cracks and gaps and doors. He took lots of measurements with a neat little gadget that shows how much difference there is in elevation for the different areas of the house. After much looking and measuring, a decision was made to put three piers on the kitchen through 2 holes, the same in my bedroom with one in the hall. They also needed an outside pier, just past the front door. Three piers under the wall between the garage and house needed to be shimmed up, too. One of the "big guys" with the company also came by and agreed with the proposed work. He also kept saying that the house was in bad shape. I wanted to tell him to can it, but I also wanted a good job done, so I kept my mouth shut.

The first thing they have to do to dig the holes is to jackhammer away the concrete. That was the most fun (not) of the whole deal. Luckily the workers knew what they were doing and got the job done pretty quickly. And there wasn't nearly as much dust generated as I had expected. I had put a new filter in the A/C and had to change it again the next day when they were finished. Wow!

After opening up the concrete, they have to dig the holes by hand. Yes, by hand!!! And once they got past the top layer, the soil was very hard and it took them a long, long time to get it all dug out. Of course on a couple of the holes they had to go in two directions for the two piers. They did get a couple of other crews out there late in the day, but it was too crowded for them to help out much.

So the day ended with deep holes in the kitchen, bedroom and hall that they covered with big pieces of plywood so I wouldn't fall into one and break my leg as I was told another customer had done.

This is in the kitchen where they are breaking up the concrete.

This is looking down the hall into the bedroom .

This is in the kitchen where they've started digging the dirt out.

This is in the bedroom showing one of the plywood sheets they use to cover the holes.

You can see in the pictures that they covered the walls and cabinets with brown paper to protect them. It seemed to work as the only mishap was a bit of mud on the dryer where they were coming in and out of the door from the kitchen to the garage. No holes in the wall, no dings on the doors. And it was tight with those wheelbarrows!! And they covered the kitchen floor with heavy plastic sheets and only cut out where they needed to dig.

Tomorrow - the real work. I'll post pictures of the workers down in those holes driving the piers. Really cool!

Monday, September 7, 2009


Ok, I took 30 some odd pictures of the process of leveling my foundation so I guess I'd better get busy posting them and explaining the process to those of you who are not familiar with it. Believe me, I certainly learned a lot over the two days it took to get my house back on the level.

First I have to explain that the soil in the Houston area moves around a lot. If we were on rock, we would have earthquakes. We also have soil that swells when it gets wet and shrinks when it's hot and dry. The last is what happened to my house. Oh, and almost everyone here has a slab foundation. A few years ago, piers were placed around the front 3/4 of my house as the foundation was beginning to tilt forward. Because of the extreme dry and hot weather we've had this summer, the soil under the middle of the house began to shrink and the middle of my house began to sink. There was as much as a 4" difference in elevation between the highest and lowest part of my house. Yeah! The caused cracks in the sheetrock. doors that wouldn't close all the way or wouldn't stay closed. The worst part was the gap between the bottom of the wall and the floor in some places and the same gap between the top of the wall and the ceiling in others.

Today I'm posting some pictures of some of the problem areas.

Bedroom closet door - you could see the light from the closet through the crack which was on both sides of the wall! And that was as closed as the door would get.

Door from dining room into kitchen - on the other side there was a gap between the top of the wall and the ceiling.

Wall between kitchen and garage - notice gap at top of wall and cracks around door.

Tomorrow I'll post pictures of the beginning of the process. Please let me know if you have any questions.