Irish Lake Quilter

......snippets and quilts, family, pets and friends....

Monday, June 30, 2008

A Tough Week

Sunday mornings are meant to be low-key, quiet and relaxing.......right? About two weeks ago, the 22nd, Jim and I were doing some clean up and straightening in the garage at the lake, avoiding the tile grout job, when we got a call from Chris. He started out by saying that something had happened the night before but didn't call because he didn't want to worry us. My stomach took a flip and I headed into the house to sit down. He was home alone about 10:15 when he heard glass breaking in his apartment kitchen. The old style Chicago houses are designed in a long narrow pattern, the living room in the front and a hallway along the bedrooms leading back to the kitchen in the rear. Being in the living room, he had no idea what was going on so he went to check. The breaking glass sound was actually the glass exploding from a fire that was engulfing the rear decks of the house and the kitchen was igniting as he got there. Chris said he turned and ran down the front steps wearing what he had on. The fire station is literally next door, about 50 feet away with a parking lot between them, and someone had already reported seeing it, and trucks were arriving as he went downstairs.
Apparently, the fire started on the deck below from a smoldering cigarette that had not been put out properly, spread up the back of the building and across the attic of the house. Firemen battled the blaze for nearly an hour, the house next door was badly damaged as well. One fireman was taken to the hospital due to exhaustion. Someone at the scene asked Chris why he didn't stop to get his wallet and shoes. A fireman overheard them and told Chris he only had seconds to escape once the glass broke. It isn't a back draft but the air/smoke is igniting into huge flames when an explosion occurs. We are thankful we had the opportunity to shop for clothes and furniture.
You can imagine the damage that the fire may have caused, but the smoke and water damage is unbelieveable. They were able to salvage very little. Fortunately, some dishes that we had loaned them - our wedding pattern - came thru almost intact. A few pieces were lost but we can replace those at Some clothes that were stored in a front closet survived. My washing machine has been running a lot, doing some things 3 and 4 times to get the smokey smell out of them.
Anne and Chris went into the place on Tuesday to survey the damage - overwhelming for both of them but they made it thru OK. Anne is interested in learning to sew and I had loaned her my old Bernina 830. They gave that up as lost, but found two quilts I had made and that had ended up at their place. One may be OK, the other not so good. Jim went back on Thursday with Chris and found some other things that were meaningful to them or us. He brought out the sewing machine (his birthday present to me for my 34th) and brought it home. It is rusting in places, but I am a firm believer in persistence. I doused it with WD-40, got out the Q-tips and some rags and went at it. It isn't very good yet, but it runs!!! As far as sewing on it, that will never happen, but the fact that it still runs is a good thing. I'll keep it for parts for the other 830 that I have at the lake.
Life is resuming in a new place and still within walking distance of the old place along with some quickly-found furniture from Craigslist . It has been a tough week for us; I can't imagine what they've gone thru.
The warm fuzzy from all of this is the wonderful kindness of people. Chris had to go to work on Monday following the fire on Saturday. He went wearing his brother's shoes, a pair of baggy pants found in his closet here at home and a shirt purchased at Wal-Mart. (Reports that had to be done with a Wed deadline). He spent the next 3 days doing what he needed to do and returned to work on Friday. Knowing that Chris had no clothes and is a HUGE Cubs fan, the CEO jokingly brought him a White Sox jersey........and a huge wad of cash that had been collected through out the company. There was $1500..... a very, very nice thing to do and something that Chris truly appreciated.
There are still a few odds and ends to be done, but in the grand scheme of things, life treated us with kindness......we will remember to pay it forward when it is our turn.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Happy Dance

A few days ago I told you about the challenge that Mary gave us for the May Retreat. We were to make a quilt to show an emotion that we feel about the retreat. I had a year to think about it. My original plan was to applique a large vase full of flowers. Each flower would have been a color that I felt "matched" each person there and that the beauty in the flowers expressed the beauty I see in each of the gals who attend the retreat. Liz would definitely have been orange!! She just loves lime green and orange. Well, given all that has gone on over the past year, that idea was just idea. It came down to the last few weeks and finally I decided that my emotion could be labeled as 'happy' and who else expresses that more than Snoopy and his Happy Dance? In the picture, Snoopy is a bit wrinkled and has some creases but he has been folded while waiting to be hung. It is a bright and happy quilt-let and I will hang it in my sewing space at the lake or over my long arm at home, always doing a happy dance myself when I'm in either of those favorite places!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Nearing the end...

The picture at the left sort of tells the story of where we were at the end of April in our construction project. This place is to be for our family and guests when they come to visit at the lake. Our little cottage is on it's last legs but has a lot of charm. We also hesitate to tear it down and rebuild because we'll lose several very large 60 year old trees, all of which give us a wonderful shade on a hot day. The Roadhouse, as I call it because it is back by the road, is about 900 sf, has 3 very small bedrooms, two bathrooms and a kitchen/living area. Large enough for anyone who might want to spend a night or a week.

In February, Jim started doing the electrical and plumbing work on the place. That took us into April when we finally got a septic installed and final grade around the outside. The outside shower went in and is on our to-do list - as many things are! We were ready for drywall and it was done shortly before I went to retreat. Painting followed.....and followed....and followed. Seemed like that part would never end!!

Jim and Chris got the wood floor in the kitchen started. Michael, his friend Tyler and Jim and Chris worked most of a weekend getting it down and it really looks great. The bathrooms also have the same flooring. (the bathroom showers/tile are another story all by themselves!) It was the end of May by the time we could call the carpet installer to come. Another retreat at that time would have been welcomed!!

Carpet went in, appliances were delivered and the final projects........finishing the bathrooms, adding trim, patching and doing touchup on the trim, putting up blinds, finding furniture for the place, making up the beds and adding those special homey touches.........are now being done.

My sewing/craft room is painted and carpeted and I've framed some AQS posters that will add a quilty interest to the walls. That area will wait, however, until the upstairs is done and then we can concentrate on the downstairs. Jim will have a workshop, the laundry room is an awesome addition and my sewing area is just what I wanted. It may be the end of the summer before we finish the entire place, but all of this will have been a journey well worth taking.
Needless to say, the past few months have left little time for my quilting and my long arm. I get a few stitches in every day and that helps keep me going and my sanity somewhat intact. :>)

Stop by for a visit.......we'd love to show off what we've done so far!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


May 1st was the annual North Webster Retreat held near the cottage. There are 20 women who meet at a church center located on Webster Lake. The facility is beautiful and the views are stunning. It is a few days of friends getting together, laughing ourselves silly and sewing like we could never sew again. This year was no different. We gathered as early as we were able to on Thursday morning and began the set up that happens each time we go. Furniture is moved making way for tables, ironing boards and sewing 'necessities'. Food is toted in as well as items for our 'dumping ground'. The saying "One man's trash is another man's treasure" fits our dumping ground perfectly. Most everything disappears gradually over the 3 days with each person thinking that they've been fortunate to either clear out some clutter or to have found a treasure!

Our group has a couple of leaders (teachers call them ringleaders!! :>) Liz makes all the plans for the retreat, brings all kinds of things for us to use and makes sure we behave. Mary and Susan keep everyone laughing and on our toes with their funny stories and banter. Joanne is just.......well, vibrant. A fun gal to keep things moving. Karlita is known for her perky bits of wisdom, usually a little tart and always funny! I could go on about all of us, the beautiful quilts and so much of each one enjoying the other's company, expertise and advice.

Our challenge this year was to be a quilt that portrays an emotion about the May Retreat. Mine was taxi-cab yellow background with a Snoopy doing a happy dance appliqued onto the yellow. I used a black with white pin dot for an inner border and the binding as well. Unfortunately, the quilt is in Chicago, I'm at the cottage and I can't find a picture of it in my computer files. I'll post it in a few days.

Everyone had wonderful challenge quilts, the talent in our group is mind-boggling!! The challenge for next year was given as well. Each person was given a wrapped book and must make a quilt from that book. I drew a Thimbleberries book which I already have, but Joanne didn't. She drew a jewel-box quilt book that I've been drooling over for a long time. Yep! you guessed it - we swapped books and now we're both happy!

My teaching session on the mitered corners and needleturn applique went well. I fully expect Rhonda and others to come next time with some show stopping projects. Hopefully I will have a few to share as well..............if the house project ever ends.

The retreat is always a wonderful time for renewal. Seeing friends, learning new tricks about quilting and comraderie that just doesn't end. The best part is that the September retreat isn't too far off and we'll get to do it all over again! Ahhhh...........a piece of quilter's heaven!

Friday, June 6, 2008

Catching Up

The Roadhouse is nearly finished. It has been several months of being very busy, thus my blog has not been updated in over 2 months. Yikes!! Jim did the plumbing and electrical work during February and March, finishing up in April. We lived at the Thompson's home during that time and once we could move into our cottage in early April, we did so. May 1st brought the North Webster Retreat and I sewed to my heart's content for 3 days straight, late into the night.....more on that later. Once I returned after retreat, the drywall had been completed and things were ready for painting. One thing I learned the hard way was that those little paint chips don't even come close to what goes on the wall!! They may be the same color, the paint matches exactly, but they are foolers!! The soft butter cream that I had chosen, once on the wall, looked like a taxi cab - well, not quite, but it was screaming yellow!! I dumped in a gallon of cream and a gallon of white and then went back and got some toner and put in about a cup of that before it lightened enough to be subtle instead of obnoxious. The bedrooms were good with the exception of one which was much too gold and is now called "heavy cream". Carpeting has gone in, kitchen cabinets went in yesterday and today the appliances are being installed. We have two showers to tile plus installation of a kitchen sink, toilets, bathroom sinks, towel bars and a few other small items that aren't urgent. My downstairs craft room is on hold for a while. The washer and dryer are in and that is a great big plus! Once we get the upstairs done, Jim can put in the dropped ceiling and lights for me, add a couple of closet doors and that room should be ready to go. I have my sewing machine set up in front of the windows facing the lake so I'm in OK shape for sewing. So far we have no takers for first guests, but I'm guessing the kids will enjoy a weekend or two before long, especially if we add some furniture and TV. The beds are all in, ready to be made.

A year ago today, the place was still a little gray 1940's garage that was beginning to fall apart. We had just started the drawings and planning for my idea of how to carve out more space for all of us to be together. By November 1st, the place had been demolished and we were on our way! We're looking forward to many years of good times with friends and family.