View from the Hill

  Hi Folks!

                   I’m a retired Legal Assistant, a mother, grandmother, wife, and I guess, a Late Bloomer.  Now I want to write a Blog!  I’m also a gardener, a frustrated artist, a quilter, a crafter, and a collector of many things.  No, I’m not bored – I just enjoy writing and sharing my thoughts.   So, a new friend has offered to help me get started          I love Nature, Cats, People (especially children), Quilting and Learning, so I will probably be writing about all of those from time to time.  Oh, yes, my husband thinks I’m NUTS, but I guess that makes me pretty typical.  If I can brighten your day occasionally, or at least make you smile, then I will consider that I have succeeded .


Welcome aboard!

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          My first memory of quilting is when I was little my grandmother and I were visiting my great-grandmother on the farm.  A group of ladies came in and they sat around a huge table set up in one room and they all started sewing on a quilt spread on it.  I also remember my grandmother saving old clothes and cutting the good parts into pieces which she sewed together into blocks and made quilt tops.  Some never got completed and when she passed away my mother claimed them.  They were discovered among her things when she passed away.  I wonder if my sisters and I will ever complete them.


          I’ve never taken a quilting lesson, but I’ve learned a lot about quilting and quilters.  Besides the traditional covering for beds, table cloths, place mats, wall hangings, pot holders, and even some clothing qualify as quilts.  The requirement is that there are two layers of cloth, with a layer of batting in between, held together by stitches.  They can be simple square blocks or intricate patterns.


Quilts were of necessity around the time our country was settled    – there wasn’t a Sears or WalMart on the corner or even in the next town, so the women cut up any useable piece of clothing and made quilts.  When the farmers purchased grain and feed for the animals, it sometimes came in colorful, patterned cotton fabric.  After being emptied, what wasn’t used for dresses* and shirts for the family was used for quilts.   *(Another story)


Today, quilting is more of a sport and can be quite competitive.  Guilds are formed for women to get together and learn new methods, exchange ideas, and display their handiwork.  Many women sell their quilts, while others make them for gifts.  Some Guilds support charities by making beautiful quilts and raffling them off.


Quilters are usually quite passionate about their hobby and devote many hours to it – some are more serious than others.  Most women now do machine quilting, while a few prefer to quilt by hand.  Technology has made it possible to have quilt patterns computerized and the final stage is done by “long arm” machines.


As you may have guessed by now, quilting can be an expensive hobby, but it can also be challenging and entertaining.  By the time you have purchased a pattern, the required fabric for it and fabric for the back, batting for the filling, binding material and thread, you have made quite an investment, especially if you are making a full or king size quilt.  Then there is the time investment – just choosing the right fabrics can take time.  Lay-out and cutting and seam pressing  are also very time consuming.  Machine piecing is much faster than hand piecing, but I enjoy doing it by hand because it’s a good way to pass the time while my husband watches sports on TV.   Having the quilt professionally machine quilted is another expense.  So when you see a beautiful quilt at a craft show or in a specialty shop with a big price tag on it, don’t be shocked – think of all that went into it.


I am not a serious quilter – I do it for the challenge and the satisfaction of a finished project.  I prefer to make my own designs; I don’t get upset if my seams are not as straight as they should be . It is a form of art, and since I can’t paint or sculpt, if I can turn out a decent looking quilt, I’m happy.



Pecan Rolls


          I had a real surprise last week while shopping at Martins.  There, on a “day old” rack, was one package of pecan rolls, the kind that the Holmes Bakery man used to deliver to our house when I was young.  They looked so delicious; I could almost smell them through the wrapper.


          Do you know the kind of rolls I’m talking about?  They are soft like dinner rolls, but they are topped with chopped pecans and a sticky, brown sugar, syrupy glaze…  I think the Holmes man came once a week, but it was a real special occasion when Mom bought anything besides bread and biscuits.  The pecan rolls were a real treat.


          Over the years I have bought many pecan rolls; I have baked pecan rolls.  But none tasted the same as the ones the Holmes Bakery man brought.   There was no label on the package, so I’ll have to inquire at Martains the next time I go.


          I wonder how many of you remember the various vendors who visited our homes on a regular basis, bringing all sorts of goodies, from bread and milk (and other dairy products), cleaning supplies, cooking utensils to encyclopedias… 


          Many of the products came in containers that could be re-used (one dairy sold cottage cheese in soup or  cereal bowls;  Jewel Tea Company , Quaker Oats, DUZ (laundry soap) sold whole dishes, but you had to buy many packages to get a complete set;  Now you find the survivors in antique shops.

Not every family owned a car, and almost nobody owned two cars; Mom did not work outside the home and this provided her a means of shopping and learning about new products…  And, don’t forget the Sears Catalog.  The day of its arrival in the mail, there was a mad scramble to see who could look at it first.


          So, Thank You, Martins!  Not only did you satisfy my hunger for genuine pecan rolls, you gave me a wonderful trip down Memory Lane.  Now I must have my coffee and the last pecan roll!

What’s to See?

I live in a quiet neighborhood situated at the top of a windy hill.   To the northeast from my back windows, I have a view of Masanutten Mountain, including Signal Knob.  From the front of the house, I can see Route 11, with mountains in the background.  But on both sides, trees and other houses block perfect views of sunrises and sunsets.

I live in a mid-size  house with my husband and two cats, Tiger and Prissy.  Tiger owns the house but allows the rest of us free access and unlimited use of the property.  In addition to the usual household chores, I enjoy gardening, crafting, reading and “observing”.  We actually live within walking distance of Rite Aid, Food Lion, and downtown Strasburg – that’s “walking distance” if you’re healthy enough to make it back up the hill.

Iti’s nevear borning here.   At various times during the day thee are mothers and/or fathers, grandmothers and nannies pushing strollers, sometimes accompanied by tots on tricycles, and people walking dogs.  In the evenings and when school is not in session, the street is filled with older kids on bicycles and skate boards.   There ae basketball hoops at the end of many drivewas and trampolines in he back yards, so there’s not much “quiet”.

If I tire of the street sceme, I can go to the back yard and watch the wildlife.  In addition to a large variety of birds, there ae squirrels, rabbits, deer and and an occasional bear and fox hanging out near the woods.  Needless to say, the bear is the least popular.  He can destroy a abird feeder in less time than you can say “scat”.  It sadddens the bird lovers to have to put away their bird feeders during the summer season.  And I forgot to mention the cats – several in addition to our two.  The cats enjoy watching the birds and chasing the squirrels.

So who needs TV when you can sit in a rocker on the porch and be entertained by people and nature?  I enjoy my life at the top of the hill.