Thursday, May 26, 2011


I have known this quilt my entire life.


My great-grandmother Granny Riddle made this quilt before I was born. She was an expert quilter and sewed made many, many quilts by hand during her life time. We have several of Granny Riddle's quilts, but this is the one I think of when I think of her and her quilts.


I have slept under this quilt and napped on top of this quilt. It was the quilt we reached for when we needed comforting while sick, it was the one to wrap up in on a cold winter's night, and who knows how many books have been read under this quilt?


I don't know the name of this 8-pointed star pattern, but no doubt Granny Riddle did. I suspect that some of the fabric came from remnants of clothes but I'll never know who once wore them. Was that my great-grandfather's shirt? Did my grandmother once wear a dress made of out of that fabric?


The colors of the quilt are still quite pretty, but the cotton fabric is faded and begun to fray and tear. I would consider repairing the binding but the yellow sashing is damaged, too. After 40+ years of hard wear, this quilt has reached the end of its lifespan. I'm sad to see it succumb to old age, but Granny Riddle made all her quilts to be used and I'm sure she expected it to reach this state in time.


Of course I wouldn't dream of throwing it away. It's still much too pretty for that and sections of it are still in great shape. I may cut off the damaged binding and outer sashing and then make a new binding for it as a throw or toddler quilt. I could fashion a table topper or wall hanging out of it. Pillows. Christmas ornaments. Pincushions. Upholster a padded bench.


Really, there are a lot of pretty things you can make from an old, beloved quilt. I'm not the expert quilter Granny Riddle was, but with a little effort and some love I think my daughter may be looking at part of this quilt when she's forty and wonder who wore the clothes that her great-great-grandmother used to make this quilt.

Monday, May 23, 2011

May Day, mayday, mayday!

I have no idea how today can possibly be May 23 when I distinctly remember yesterday being May 1. Apparently I have lost a whole month somewhere between yesterday and today. Much of it fell to the wayside when Ally had a fever and was out of daycare for two days, then she got better over the weekend but this was followed by me getting her cold. Then the following week Ally had another fever and was out of daycare for two days but I got better, then she got better, and then we went on vacation. Which is when I developed bronchitis and Ally got stomach flu.

I kid you not. There ought to be a law against getting two separate colds in one month, with a double penalty for getting sick during a week at the beach. Thankfully I had a mild case of bronchitis and Ally only got a touch of stomach flu so we were still able to enjoy our vacation despite the unpleasant production of bodily secretions (I'l spare you the details).

But now it's the first day back home and I'm at an utter loss to account for my month of May. Even worse, things seem to have gone to pot in the meantime. The house needs cleaning. The flower beds out front need weeding. My laptop has developed some unexplained hiccups. My daughter turns four next Wednesday and I haven't planned a single thing for her birthday. The vegetable garden out back has not been planted yet. I'm having a hard time thinking about our menu for the week. There are ants in the kitchen. I haven't updated my Etsy shop in a while. Someone one turned on the summer heat and humidity while we were gone.

So the month of May traditionally begins with May Day, but it looks like I'm going to end it with the distress call, "Mayday, mayday, mayday!"

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Another Walk in the Park

Last week I revisited MidCounty Park in Montgomery Co., VA. Yes, the site of the vicious toad attack of 2010.

The trilliums were blooming. You can find both white and pink flowering forms, although I seem to have taken pictures of only the pink ones this spring.



Perfoliate bellflower (Uvularia grandiflora)
Perfoliate Bellflower

One February I'm going to visit the park in time to see the skunk cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus) coming up through the snow. The emerging spathe can generate heat to push up through frozen mud in early spring. The spathes are an interesting mottled burgandy color but the flowers are unremarkable themselves. The lush foliage that emerges much later in warmer weather reminds me of hostas.

Skunk Cabbage

A botanical oddity, squawroot (Conopholis americana) is a parasitic plant that attaches to the roots of oaks and beeches. It lives entirely under the soil except for when the cone-shaped flowers erupt in the spring.

There are several types of violet found in the park.


I've always been fond of the yellow wood violets...


but these variegated purple and white beauties are gorgeous.


Dainty white flowers of something that I haven't looked up yet.


Rue anemone (Thalictrum thalictroides)

Jack-in-the-pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum) is always a treat to find. There are both the green striped and the brown striped forms in Midcounty Park.

Green Jack-in-the-Pulpit

Dark Jack-in-the-Pulpit


Wild ginger (Asarum sp.) has an unusual brown flower that's hidden by the heart shaped leaves.


I cannot seem to refrain from taking pictures of fiddleheads. I can't tell you how many I've got on file, but here's another one.


The liverwort (Anemone hepatica) had finished flowering before I found this patch, but the leaves are always beautiful.


So had the bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis), but the distinctive leaf is a dead giveaway for identifying this plant.

Bloodroot Leaf

Another common spring wildflower, wild geranium (Geranium maculatum).


Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Black flies and other natural disasters

We get a lot of wind at our house. Our house is situated on the top of a ridge in an former cow pasture in Plum Creek and the wind just races up our little open valley only to plow into our house. Thankfully it isn't as bad during the summer...I think leaves on the trees might have something to do with that, but I dunno. What I do know is that I'm often cursing the wind during the month of April.

The wind died down on Friday. And, hello! It was almost May and the black flies came out.

I hate black flies. They swarm around my head and dive bomb into my eyes and get into my ears. Then they bite. And the bites itch for days.

So after cursing the wind all month, I wanted it to come back just a little. Just enough to keep the black flies off me.

Today the wind came back. With a vengeance. All 24 mph of it. Sigh.

Originally I thought I'd make a post where I whined and complained about the wind, the black flies, the yellow jacket and wasps that are swarming our back deck. Really, it's like one of the Biblical plagues out there.

But I'm just not snarky enough to compare my minor inconveniences to a natural disaster, not after seeing the damage caused by the tornado outbreak last week. There were tornados in Pulaski, VA, in early April, and then Glade Spring, VA, got hit last Thursday. That's a lot of tornado action for Virginia.

I think the storm that came our way was one of the worst I've ever seen. I looked out our back door at 1 am and saw nearly continuous flickering of lightening with very strong winds. Funny thing is, I don't think I heard any thunder, just flash flash flash flash lightening. Really eerie.

And then the news reports began pouring in from Alabama, Tennessee, and other southern states the next morning. The death toll is incredible, more than 300 dead, from a whopping 119 confirmed tornados between April 25-28. Thousands injured, towns obliterated, lives torn apart. The monstrous tornado that hit Tuscaloosa and Birmingham had a track that stretched 80 miles long.

So I'm just going to shut up about the winds that are currently gusting around our house right now. At least they're just gusts and hey, it's keeping the flies and wasps away for a little while.