Saturday, May 28, 2005

Free Funky Fish Placemat Pattern

Funky Fish Placemats Posted by Hello
I just made these colorful placemats and have experimented with making patterns for them. I learned a lot about creating PDF files. Apparently this is one universal that interfaces nicely with everybody's computer because the Adobe Reader is free for all.
Go to my website,
to download the zipped files. You can open them using the free trial version of WinZip. Let me know if it works! And, if you make some fishy placemats to brighten up your table, send me a photo and I'll share your creativity with everyone.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

The Water Bill

Glass of Water Posted by Hello
We live in an impersonal and automatic world and I don't think it's a good thing. It's isolating and confusing for a "normal" adult. Can you imagine what it must be like for those who are old, left of normal on the bell curve, on psychotropic drugs for various mental maladies, or just young, shy or just having a bad day???

We need people to ground us. To help us. To smile at us. To respond to a look or a question. To have the opportunity to help others is often the only thing that makes a day good.

Where my son Joshua is living now, the atmosphere is like a small town. He was telling me about how he had to pay for the water bill up there. In order to open, an account you go see Eva. She handles the water accounts for everybody in Hypoluxo and the town next to it. Josh found her sitting at her desk with an old windows 98 PC opened onto a spread sheet. When he introduced himself and said they were new to the town and would like to put the $75.00 deposit down to open a water account, she asked him, "How much water do you think you will be using?" He said, "Well, we have five kids and I really didn't know how to estimate it". Eva said, "Five kids! Well now, you don't have to put anything down. You just take that money and get your kids whatever they need to settle in here." So, she opened the account. He gave her $40.00 to pay for the first month since that was all he had in his pocket and he wanted to make sure they had water to use.

Three months later, Josh realized that he hadn't gotten any notice about not paying for water, so he took a drive to see Eva and was hoping the bill wasn't going to be high. When he got there, she recognized him and said, "Hi! How are you guys doing? Are you settling in alright? How are the kids?

"Fine, fine." Josh said. "Ah, we haven't paid anything toward the water bill since I last saw you and I was wondering what we owed now. The seven of us take a lot of showers, but the laundry is really the problem. The washer is always full and running."

"Alright, I'll look up your account. Hmmm. Yes, you are right; it's been three months since your last payment. I see that you owe $ 67.00 now."

"(!) That's all?"

"Yes, that's about it." These new condos have very efficient systems. I think that kinda helps."

"I see that you have a spread sheet on your computer. Is that how you keep track of the water accounts?"

"Yes, it is."

"But, doesn't it get confusing?" Josh asked. He was feeling relieved at the low water bill and perplexed by the system he saw here. He was used to paying his water bill, electric and other utilities on-line when he lived in Tamarac.

"How do you know who has paid and who hasn't?"

"I just know that if I haven't seen you for awhile, you probably haven't been in, so I look up my entries on the spread sheet. If I see you are getting behind, I'll send a notice."

"But how do you know who you haven't seen?"

"We only have about 900 or so accounts and I know everybody in these two towns."

" (!) " "So, if I hadn't have come in today, you would have sent me a notice, soon, and I would
just come on down and pay it up. Just like that?"

"Yeah. That pretty much sums it up. I know everybody around here."

"Don't you think having your accounts computerized would make your job more efficient?"

"Maybe. How would it work?"

"When I paid my bill in Tamarac, I set up my account through my bank to pay the city of Tamarac through my checking account. Every month when I got a bill, I would go on-line and have the money transferred from my account into the Tamarac water department account. It only took me a minute or two to do it on-line. I didn't have to write a check or use stamps to mail my payment in. And, if I was late, they would shut my water off."

Unfortunately, Josh and his crew had suffered some lean times last year and this is just what happened. The system was efficient and it worked. All too well. Each time the water was shut off, it happened without warning and getting it started up again required another deposit. And, to add to the problem, the bank always added fines if checks he had deposited hadn't cleared by the time he had authorized the water payment. It was an exasperating cycle.

"How do you know if you are typing in the right account number?" asked Eva. "People are always doing that you know. And, how can you be sure the bank is putting it into the right account for you?"

"They don't make mistakes, Eva. They have a very efficient system, once it is set up."

"Maybe so, maybe so. But, we really don't need it around here".

And with that, Joshua smiled, happily paid his water bill and said good bye to Eva. Walking out to his car, he just couldn't help shaking his head and smiling. What a nice day!

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

My First King Size Quilt

Butterfly Batik Quilt Posted by Hello
Since this is a blog of my adventures with fabric, I'll show you some of my projects. This was my first king size quilt. I made it larger than most that you buy because once everybody is in bed, I wanted to make sure we are all covered. Everybody = me, husband, cat, and 2 dogs if we are in the middle of a thundering south Florida storm.
I chose two beautiful batik fabrics at my favorite store, , and cut lots and lots of 6 inch strips. Alternating the colors I sewed three strips together and then cut them crosswise to get nice 6 in wide strips to piece together for the famous, and my personal favorite, 9 patch block. I cut and sewed until I had a base quilt of 110 inches by 110 inches. Then I added the big butterflies and border. I kept sewing until I had the three shams and a small pillow done, and with much relief, I put it all in a box with the batting, and a backing that coordinated and took it to Faye at Sunshine Fabrics to have one of her most popular long arm quilters do the quilting for me.

Six weeks later it all came back beautifully quilted with rosey thread and I finished it off by sewing the binding and making the shams fully operational with zippers on the back.
The day I put it on my bed was glorious! It looks great with the rosey faux painted wall that I truly never tire of. What do you think?

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Automated Daymares

Go South Posted by Hello
Today's blog goes from this post, "Automated Daymares" down to "Car Wash Cave". I don't yet know how to write a blog and insert lots of pictures into one stream of thought. Bear with me while I learn.

Lunch with my cousin/friend Doreen sounded like a great idea. She had an hour and could meet me at the diner for lunch with a human instead of the kitchen sink. A good idea.
Just as I was turning south to go down University Drive, an annoying Ding Ding Ding started up and I noticed that my gas gage was dipping low into the red zone.
Now, I had left a little early, 'cause I wanted to get some cash at the ATM to pay for lunch, so I decided to keep going south and see if I could find a gas station on my way, on this side of the road, instead of going to my usual gas station which was north of me at the time. (Is this a run on sentence?) I'm such a fearful driver, I'll avoid extra turns, extra stop lights and extra miles if I can.

First Automation

First Automation Posted by Hello
Taking money out of my checking account is always frightful as I have never been able to balance my checkbook and I'm always up or down $200.00. A withdrawal might work. And, it might not.

ATM Keypad

ATM key pad Posted by Hello
After clearing the Spanish language screen, I input my code and chose FAST CASH. After all, I was in a hurry and speed is good, isn't it? I expected the next screen to ask me how much I wanted. $20.00 was my heart's desire. Just enough for lunch and change for my wallet. Wallets like $1's. At least, my wallet is happy with some.
Ding ding ding and the screen says, "TAKE YOUR CASH AND REMOVE YOUR CARD"
Cash? How much are we talking here??? Why didn't you ask me how much I wanted? Why did you tease me with FAST CASH and make me believe I had some control here???
$60.00 boinked right out of the metal lips of the masterful machine.
What could I do? I needed some money, but NOT THAT MUCH FOR CRYING OUT LOUD. Oh well, the good thing was at least I was up enough to get $60.00 without a penalty.
Receipt yes. Oh good, now I have $153.27 to rely on.
Life is good.

Automated Gas Station

Automated Gas Station Posted by Hello
Luckily there was a gas station on my side of the road going south.

Second Automation -

Second Automation - Posted by Hello
So I slipped my card into the mouth of the metal monster and prayed for Regular.
Didn't work.
OK. Turn card around the other way. Pray again.
Didn't work.
Do it fast!
It worked! 13.052 gal @$2.249 = $29.35
Now, this was a fortuitous question. My car had been parked under a tree and the handle on the driver's side was "decorated" quite heavily with lots and lots, layers and layers of bird poop. Opening the door to get in the car was a hazardous undertaking these days.
(That's one of the problems of working at home. Your car doesn't go out much. But the mileage is good! Only 11,235 miles in four years!)
"CAR WASH 1? 2? 3?"
1, 2, OR 3? What do I get if I choose 1? What's a 2? And, how can 3 be a user defined choice?
OK. Pick a number and get out of here. It's getting late.
OK, now why isn't th receipt coming out of the little box? Do I have to walk all the way over to that building which is full of soda, candy, coffee, window washer fluid etc. to get my receipt?
After getting the little piece of paper with my code from the lady who didn't even look up from her Glamour magazine when she handed it to me, I got back into my car and drove over to the Car Wash building.

Car Wash Building

Car wash building. Posted by Hello
Palm trees soften everything here in sunny south Florida.

Third Automation -

Third Automation Posted by Hello
Now what? Did it go through? The "go"light isn't lit. I press the button for "Help", which I assume will come from the lady in the building, but nothing happens.

Car Wash Cave

Car Wash Cave Posted by Hello
After peering into the car wash cave for awhile, I notice that there is a green light on at the back. Green means "Go". So, I in I go, but not before rolling up my window and getting a little sudsy. !!!
Sitting in one of these automated monsters is a little disconcerting. At some point during the wash/rinse/wax cycle, I feel as if my car is moving forward, even though I can feel my right foot slammed down on the brake pedal and the gear shift is firmly in the "Park" position. I find a friendly dirt spot on the wall and keep my eyes glued to it until the machines stop their back and forward march.
This car wash has blowers at the exit and a sign tells you to drive VERY SLOWLY through to dry off your vehicle. 0.5 miles/hour and 3 minutes later, I'm off and heading south again, hoping to find the left turn into the plaza before the diner. If I miss it, I'm gonna have to turn around and come back and that means an extra .5 mile, a left U turn, and then a right into the plaza.
FAST CASH $60.00
GAS $29.35
CAR WASH $3.00
LUNCH $10.48 with tip.

Lunch with Dor. Priceless.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Free Photos for You!

Free Photos for You! Posted by Hello
I think Gerbera Daisies are beautiful. When I get a bunch I can't resist taking digital shots of them. I usually take them outside on my porch in the morning hours and shoot them in natural light. Without the flash, I have more of a chance to catch the softness of the petals and the translucent nature of the colors. I try to get as close as I can and hold the camera steady by holding my breath. Not breathing makes the world stop and I get the chance to catch one glowing moment in one part of space and time.
After that, I take the photos into Paint Shop Pro 8 and change them. The colored foil tool makes the colors obverse and very glowy. I never tire of seeing the transformations. After that, I use the Virtual Painter plugin to make further changes. This particular group shows use of the "drawing" tool.
You can download this four pack free of charge at my website, so click on this link,

If you'd like to make some cards you'll have to figure out how to do it in your photo software packages. I tried to make the quarter fold cards I have made available as a download, but it didn't work. Sorry to all of you who tried.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Use Colorful Yarn

A closeup shot shows the gorgeous colors of this soft ropey yarn. To make: Tie a knot around the neck leaving several inches for the bow. Make a loose loop with the yarn on one side of the hanger and pass the ball of yarn through the hanger and yarn loop. Pull gently until you get what looks like a button stitch. Shove the stitches together so it really covers every bit of the metal. Repeat until you are bored, put it down, finish it later. Take your yarn up the twisted neck of the hanger and make a granny knot followed by a bow. Trim ends. Hang you favorite blouse on your new collage and admire your art.
Colorfull yarn! Posted by Hello

Hanging On

A covered hanger Posted by Hello
It seems as if I can't get through a day without making something physical to show for it. And making dinner does not count. Learning how to blog has been mentally exhausting 'cause I couldn't get the pictures thing figured out! Just creating the blog itself was - interesting - as I inadvertantly started out with two blogs, with two different addresses, and so the Hello feature kept sending my photos to the wrong place. And you know what? It's hard to get help! Deleting the extra blog helped, but darn if I know how to input a new http:// address into the Hello system.

Anyway... I just had to validate the day in some tangible form so I covered this hanger while watching yet another Country Awards program on TV Tuesday night. Mindless work for sure, but I end up with a practical product that gives me a lot of pleasure. This hanger will prevent any kind of blouse from falling off and landing on the floor of my closet where Squirt, my oldest and grumpy 12 year old cat prowls looking for just such a soft landing to sniff and settle upon.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

My Eyes

My Eyes - a digital photo changed using Paint Shop Pro and the Virtual Painter plugin. Posted by Hello

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

This is real

I stumbled into a statement somewhere last week and it certainly seems appropriate today.

"This is real and you are totally unprepared".

The idea of creating a blog is so appealing, but I am really ignorant of the basics. And, everything seems like a mobius strip. Round and round I go and I still can't figure out how to get one small photo on the blog profile.

God, I know you are in the details. Let me in so I can dialogue.
Thanks again