back to quilting

I couldn’t stay away from quilting for too long!

I had bought this pattern on Ebay last year. It is a Judy Niemeyer, but it is out of print. Lucky for me, someone bought the pattern and never used it. These patterns are one use only, since it’s paper piecing, printed on newsprint. Which is fine, once will be enough.

Shopping in the time of Covid. The local quilt store is closed on Sunday and I was itching to start. So I went online and ordered some fabric. It’s been over a week, it might be a few more weeks on when it arrives. So during the week I went back to the store and bought fabric. This pattern calls for jelly rolls. I didn’t buy enough fabric, which is good, because at some point the fabric I ordered online will show up.

There were a lot of glitches with the first section. It takes a while to remember how to do the paper piecing. No, you can’t see the problems, even this one worked out fine.

This is what it looks like on the back side.

Sewing the pieces side by side.

Judy always works her patterns with batik. The one other of hers that I made, was anything but batik. This time I decided to go with it and I think it’s the perfect fabric.

There is a subtlety to batiks that make a pattern like this sing. Sure, I could have done it in solids or even tiny Civil War reproduction prints. But what can I say, I am very happy with this. And I’m having fun! That is the most important thing, to have fun creating something beautiful.

Odds and ends from Tahoe

By now, you are probably bored with my Lake Tahoe trip, although it’s not like I have anything exciting to share from home. So here goes, the odds and ends.

We stopped in Truckee, I always like to take pictures of fraternal lodges. I don’t know it they are still in operation. I have heard that some are. These organizations have always done a lot of good for the community. Just having fellowship is a good thing.

A monument to Californians who fought in WWI, I wonder when this was installed? It is rare to see WWI memorials.

Notice the dates, America was only involved for a little over a year, but that was the decisive year that ended the war. Well, brought about an end to the fighting, until it all erupted again in 1939.

Didn’t get to the Donner museum or park, I bet the museum was closed. It seems so strange today, when it is so easy to get around that people were stuck up here, starving to death, so close to Sacramento. It is true, there still are years with really harsh snow storms. If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that we need to be prepared, The Gods of The Copybook headings are always coming back.

How about a beautiful planting of flowers in an old wagon on the street in Truckee?

We visited the railroad museum in Carson City. There is so much history to be learned when a museum concentrates on one topic.

At certain times, these trains will go out for a spin around the yard. Today, the steam engines are run on jet fuel, hey, jet fuel has a shelf life. But even somewhat degraded, it will move a train.

Another fascinating topic I could learn more about is geology. How did this one round rock get enclosed by this sandstone? I you haven’t noticed by now, I have a sharp eye for unusual things.

Finally, a barn quilt. Not sure the structure is a barn, but this is what we call a barn quilt block, looks like it is an intended selfie spot.

Here is the ‘selfie’, Joel took the picture. And look! I match the block!

I’m starting a new quilt. A good friend just bought a craftsman house. Isn’t this the perfect gift? More on this as I go along.

The Hellmann-Ehrman house

One place in Lake Tahoe that I absolutely have to visit is the Hellman-Ehrman house.

I have been fascinated by Issais Hellman since I learned about him when I was giving tours downtown. Boy do I miss giving tours. I have no idea if an when I’ll be giving tours again. By the late 19th c. Hellman moved from LA to San Fransisco, there he was one of the founders of the Banking side of Wells Fargo. Today, that is all we know of that name, but back in the day, transportation was their main business.

Early in the 20th century, Hellman bought a large plot of land and built this marvelous summer home. Today this is a state park, Sand Harbor. Hellmans’ daughter Ehrman actually enjoyed the house much longer than her father. By the mid-sixties, taxes were impossible (gee, we are back at the same point again) so the land was donated to the state and there are tours inside the house.

This is the front of the house that faces the lake. Looking at the website, I saw we were one day late to have the tour inside. I bumped into a maintenance worker, he laughed at me. I wasn’t a day late, I was a year late, they never opened the house this year.

Me in front of the house.

The house was named Pine Lodge.

Looking from the lake towards the home.

The gorgeous lake front.

Since there was so much space, the house was only for the family and guests, servant quarters as well as storage and landscaping equipment was in a separate area. As you can see, equally close to the lake.

This log cabin was onsite before Hellman bought the land. I don’t remember the name of the man who built this, it was the first permanent structure on the lake.

I’m loving every angle of this house.

One can rent the outdoor space for private events such as weddings. Once again, I don’t think this happened this year. What a lovely visit, what a beautiful serene location.

I love all the angles here, they way the shadows are cast all over. Who knows, maybe one of these days I’ll get a chance to visit the interior.

This looks right at home at Sand Harbor park, but no, this is in the town of Tahoe City and it is a bus stop! I love it!

A finished sweater

There were a lot of false starts on this one, but it is now down, soft and cozy because it is knit out of baby alpaca.

First off, I hardly wear lipstick, the on off with the mask is frustrating. So for this photo shoot, I put on lipstick.

Nothing super dark or red, it feels nice just to have a full face of makeup.

Front of sweater. I must be getting old. Simple, plain, only real design element is along the raglan sleeve.

Back looking nice as well. I didn’t do the decrease or increases for the waist, it fits just fine.

A look at it flat. As I looked at the pictures, I realize that the sweater is a tad short. Not a problem, I have plenty of yarn left over, just go back, rip out the bottom ribbing and knit more. This sweater is knit from the top down, so there won’t even be any janky skipped stitch.

Here we go, I just added about one inch, that is sufficient. You can see the difference between blocked and not blocked. The blocked stitches lie flatter and ore even, it is easy to tell the section I added.

From an angle it is even more apparent. Changing angles in photography is huge. Straight on images tend not to have the depth one needs. Something I really need to remember.

The lens also matters, the first two images I shared were with my macro lens, boy did it capture detail! This image was with my regular lens, yes at a very low F-stop, but it simply doesn’t have the same capabilities, the image is blurry. And this is why, even though I used my phone often, a good camera, used well is invaluable.

Virginia City

Many pictures from here. What started Nevada on the road to statehood is the Comstock Silver mine near Virginia City. Unlike Bodie CA that after the gold ran out became a ghost town, Virginia City is thriving, mostly as a tourist spot. Although there is still a lot of mining going on in NV, it is very different from the old days.

Unlike those newer buildings in Carson City, these have survived and now are a thriving tourist trap. I’m all in favor of services for tourists. At least they didn’t build a casino here, Reno and Carson City are both about 30 miles away – go gamble there.

I love ghost advertising, here is a good example.

Here is another example. the only sign that isn’t ghosted is the Mens’ crisis center, which appears to be for drugs and alcohol.

Here we have the creativity of Trompe L’oeil, adding two windows to a blank wall. Think about it, Windows were very expensive. Sure, the hotel next door had small rooms, each with a window. I don’t know what the building was, but clearly they didn’t need four windows. I bet most people on the street don’t realize the two center windows aren’t real

Here is the side of this same building. More Trompe l’oeil, also, I love how all old towns have these fraturnal societies. In this case the Odd Fellows.

Yes, Virginia City is Trump country, very proudly so. Although I must say, I did see some Biden signs, unlike here in LA, no one is tearing those down. In LA very few people will put up a Trump sign – except that huge one over the 405. Interesting how Cal Trans felt they had the right to knock it down, even though it was on private property. So yeah, I love seeing this.

Standing with a cup of coffee outside a saloon.

A town like Virginia City was full of vice, saloons and ‘working girls’ and yet, Churches were built. When fire or other disasters came through town, of course it was the churches that offered help to everyone. This Presbyterian Church was the first one built in town.

Then we have the the large Catholic Church.

This beautiful building was the school building, built 17 years after the discovery of the Comstock Mine. By then the money was being spent here in town on improving the community. An interesting comment is that it was Virginia City that built up San Francisco. The actual miners would piss away a lot of their money on booze. It was the banks and investors that made the big money, since San Francisco had been booming since 1849, that is where the rich people were and that is where they put all their money.

Up a few streets one sees the old Victorian homes. Some are Inns, I saw some of them being refurbished. It is great seeing that this little gem of a town thriving.

Lake Tahoe

I’m sure you would like to see Lake Tahoe itself. The most beautiful lake that straddles California and Nevada.

Unfortunately, because of all the wild fires in the west, many still burning in CA, visibility wasn’t very good. Can’t see the mountains on the west side of the lake.

Some days were better than others.

Had to get a selfie!

Also, took a picture of other people enjoying the lake. Went up and spoke to them, they were from Ohio. Their son just got married in Colorado and then they continued on for a trip through the west. Aside from our horrifically high gas prices, they did love the nature CA has to offer.

A visit to Emerald Bay, I now this island has another name, but I thin the shape of it gives the name to the bay, because the water was bluer than blue. This kind of blue is what this lake is known for.

This day the sky and the lake were almost the same color, even the mountains blended in.

I love these rock towers that people are leaving on the landscape.

Smoke is back, and yet it makes for a very other-worldy image.

Exact same beach as the previous image. The air might be horrible, but look how clear the water is! Yes, I took this picture looking down at the lake water. It is so clear you simply can’t see it. All you see are the rocks.

We also hiked to a waterfall. Water out in the west is always precious.

Not a selfie! we traded taking pictures with another couple. Much better than the selfies.

Looking down from the waterfall to a high Sierra meadow. Fall colors are beginning to emerge. This whole trip was so necessary for the soul.

getting out of Dodge

We desperately needed to get away. All this covid stuff is crazy, all the more so in CA where our dictator, I mean governor now is demanding we wear masks when we eat… I can’t even.

So we drove up to Lake Tahoe and had a wonderful getaway. Our first stop was in Carson City, the capitol of Nevada. As soon as we crossed the state line there was a Casino, then surprisingly not many casinos until Carson City

I have to say, here we are on the Main Street downtown, this is where the state capitol and all government buildings are. And the two casinos here are much bigger and more imposing. This was was having some work done, maybe it was replacing lightbulbs. Or Cleaning the sign. How cool is this wonderful blade sign with the old fashioned neon.

Same sign from another angle.

I’m happy to say, that although these are large casinos, they don’t dominate the city. Because Carson City is a government town, it suppresses a lot of business, that is the nature of most capitols. Which probably explains why Reno, just up the road is a much larger, more thriving town. The one benefit to this is that old homes and buildings don’t get torn down all that quickly.

We see new buildings made to look like the old western buildings did.

Look next door, that is a real old house. (I know, old is relative, probably less than 100 years). You can see the detail of creating a rounded section, that takes, time, money and good craftsmanship. I appreciate the new, boy do I love the old!

Another example of old, love the detail on the second floor, the pushed out bays. Yes, you can go back and look at the modern building, there are some upshots, but they are rectangular, not half a hexagon like we have here.

We walked partway on the Kit Carson Trail. A walk in old downtown Carson City of important old homes. This is what I mean when I say that the old is still standing. I have no idea the significance of this house, it wasn’t built by anyone important nor did someone famous live here, but it’s still standing.

This is the famous one, The Orion Clemens house, 150 years old. Orion was secretary to the territorial governor. But the real claim to fame is his brother, who would stay with him, the one who took on the pen name of Mark Twain.

Back of the house. These homes were built very close together, many do have yards, but not huge ones. In this case the yard has been converted to a parking lot. You may have noticed the sign on the house, today it is a law firm. This reminded me so much of growing up in Jerusalem. There like here, old houses or apartments became professional offices. Lawyers, CPAs’ Drs. For a number of years growing up, our upstairs neighbor was a law firm. I’m not upset about this, clearly people would rather live in larger housing developments, but the buildings are being used, not torn down.

Here is the sign out front, and yes, I do like that the frame is the state of Nevada.

This is another historic home that today is an antique shop. There is a lot of Victorian fru-fru going on here. Maybe to much, maybe just the right amount.

Another important house on the tour, once again, I do love the detail. The guy who photobombed this, I’ll keep him.

People do live in some of these old homes. Some already have Halloween decorations up. We spoke to a number of residents out in their yards. Between the businesses and the residents, the place is lively during the day, probably much quieter at night.

Can’t complain about someone with a cannon in their front yard. especially one that is so well cared for.

More on our trip soon.


I enjoy the calmness of cross-stitching, I’m not crazy about most of the patterns out there. I’m glad I found that book of old fashioned designs, so I decided to play.

Let embroider the roses.

As I said, it is very relaxing.

I like the technique of adding the back stitch on top, it certainly adds dimension to the work. I do love crewel embroidery as well, I guess what I enjoy so much about cross-stitch right now, is yes, I have to count, but the stitches are all the same.

What to do with these lovely roses? I’m not one to just have things lying around. I want a product. I happen to have some purse clasps so I went online to look for pattern ideas. Came up with a wallet. Now the fun part, going though my fabric and finding good matching fabric.

I had fun with the interior fabrics as well.

Here it is! Lovely!

A quick look at the tiny sews that hold this down, I did add some glue, because I just don’t trust those screws.

Back view.

Side view

With some items in it. I have to say, I really don’t need this wallet. I have a bright sturdy leather wallet. Just like I don’t need an unfinished item lying around, I don’t need a wallet. I actually have another small purse I made with the same style of clasp, it’s just sitting there.

A friend had a birthday. I don’t know that she ‘needs’ a wallet, but I do know that she loves my work. So as soon as I finished this, it was gifted to my friend. Of course she loved it, she returned the favor by giving me homemade jam.

I have one more of these clasps, I’m thinking of going through that book and making another wallet. Just because, the name of my blog isn’t accidental, no Idle hands! I always need a project going!

Front yard chairs

I wish I saw more people sitting on these chairs. But it is rare to see someone sitting out in their front yard looking out at the the world

The most common chair I see is the Adirondack chair. Often in plastic form. Here in a lovely front yard of a very nice house.

Also to be found in the side yard of a much more run down house.

One step down would be this table and chair.

Here we have the front porch chairs. Many of these modern Cape Cods have a front porch, once again, rarely used, but at least we must have lovely outdoor furniture.

I’m noticing that on the porch chairs or benches, there always seem to be pillows. I wonder if these get used. There is a tricycle in the yard, maybe mom sits in the chair while the kid tools around the yard.

I must be honest, I too have something of a front porch. I don’t have any chairs there, I used to have a bench under a tree. It came with the house, and the the wood all rotted away, so I got rid of it. I however do sit in my back yard as much as possible.

Ah, the swinging bench, this would be delightful! I’d bring out pillows and maybe a quilt, but not leave them out permanently.

Someone said that American flags are a sign of a Trump supporting house. I don’t know if that is true, but it may be. There are some Biden signs around, but in my neighborhood, one will never see a Trump sign. So this may be a hidden message, or not. I do have to say, it is extremely rare to see a Biden sign with an American flag…

My son lives in a more working class area, here is his neighbors car. She is a Lesbian, I’m stating that for obvious reasons – she’s not ‘supposed’ to support Trump. Except it appears that possibly 45% of LGBT people do. More power to her, I will probably be putting up and American Flag soon, but she is braver than I am.

I think this house has been abandoned for a while. The morning glory has completely taken over the yard, it is beginning to encroach on the house itself.

Something else that will be disappearing from our built landscape soon. These Dingbat apartment buildings, built in the 50s’ will soon make way for the larger type of building on either side. Often they have cool names, this one just has that very recognizable 1950s’ overhang.

Another one, what is nice about these two is they are on side streets, not on the big thoroughfares, although, they are pretty close to the corners. Ah, those colors! That and the roofline certainly scream midcentury.

Not much to say

I have to admit that the lockdown life is getting to me. Yes, I see some people, like my knitting friends, we meet in the park. That is so lovely, being together in real life. But one of the things I loved doing was giving tours downtown. That won’t be happening for a while. I get an email about how we have to have sensitivity training about inclusion. BARRFF. I know the LA conservancy gets funding from all kinds of sources. I guess BLM is one of them, so we need to be brainwashed. I won’t do it, I have always spoken highly of people based on what they did, not the color of their skin. Although for me, to celebrate Biddy Mason, a black pioneer here in LA, was always easy to do. So that’s probably completely gone, I’m not writing the Conservancy off yet, but they may write me off.

I haven’t ventured far from home on my walks, so it’s always interesting to see new things. I love to discuss religion, especially with people from another religion, so I guess I’m not welcome here. I also don’t really like these virtue signaling signs. It’s here in the neighborhood, so I shared.

Not the same house, although the color scheme is the same.

Another thing I really, really miss is the special tours and events I used to go on. Be it Atlas Obscura, or anything else I’d find out there. I loved touring, visiting and learning new things. All of that is gone now. They are trying to have events online, but it’s not the same, it’s really not the same. Also, I can only take about an hour on zoom.

This is one of the old original beach houses in Hermosa Beach. It is being torn down. I understand progress, I understand how small dilapidated old houses will make way for something much newer and larger.

This house is very small, the window and window box are tiny, almost doll house size. So I captured the image. I just noticed the Notice of Public meeting. So I have no idea if the neighbors have a say or not. I know my son feels that progress is happening and he’s living with it.

Of course this flock of flamingoes caught my eye. Every year I manage to take pictures of goofy flamingoes in someones yard. This one is different, it’s not the homeowner that put them here, they have been flocked. At some point they are supposed to move the flock and the sign to someone else’s house.

I hope this continues. I wouldn’t mind being flocked myself, but I have a large brick wall. There is one tiny location near my driveway where someone could flock me, but I doubt anyone will. It is this kind of neighborly ingenuity that puts a very big smile on my face.