Tybee Wave

Gratefully, my determination to work through the enormous stack of unfinished projects this year has not diminished, so I’m riding that wave as long as I can. It has meant very little fabric or yarn shopping. It has meant being realistic about projects I’ve started that I actually hate. It has meant revisiting skills I started to learn, but didn’t have time to refine. It has meant saying no, both to myself and to others. It has meant adding a real dose of self discipline to my creative life.

It has also meant a lot of reflection. Every unfinished project I put my hand to brings back a flood of memories. Why did I start this? What was I hoping to learn? What was I trying to say? And even what was I thinking?!?

I love this one so much, and it’s all mine. Yup. All mine.

I made these Wave Quilts using the Sizzix die by Victoria Findlay Wolfe at The Green Apricot Getaway at Tybee Island in February of 2017. I curated a bundle of beach solids to commemorate the retreat, and wanted to show the attendees a couple of different ways to assemble the Wave Quilt. At the last minute- as in waaaaay last- I got the great idea to swap or share squares with each other to put these quilts together. I have both good feelings and bad feelings about that. Good because I LOVE how those bits of fabric light up this quilt, just like those ladies lit up my week at Tybee. Bad because I allowed myself to be overwhelmed by hosting, and I’m pretty sure I never gave anyone a square of fabric from me. It’s a wave of humility.

This one reminds me of reflections on the water. I didn’t know what I was going to do with it at the time that I made it because it was meant to be a sample for the retreat. But when I laid it out to quilt it and contemplated different designs, I just kept thinking of the softness of the colors and the design and how it made me think of children at the beach. So this one is for our granddaughter Murphy to use when she comes to our house. She’s going to be a beach babe. I can feel it in my bones.

You’ll notice this Wave Quilt is put together a little differently. I feel that one could make each of the “squares” into a cat face. Or an owl. The other configuration makes me think of the ocean. This one makes me think of a lake. The other sand, this one boats. I decided that I couldn’t keep all of the Wave Quilts, so this one went to a local chapter of Project Linus. Hoping it brightens someone’s day.

The curves in the Wave Quilt are really very gentle, and it’s a lot easier to put together than one might imagine. But once it’s together, it has two curvy sides, and binding curves can sometimes be intimidating. Bias cut binding is the best way to go because the binding will bend with the curves rather than fight them. In the case of these two quilts, I chose to use single-fold continuous bias binding. Partly because it was appropriate with the curvy edges, and partly because I wanted to practice it more.

I talked about this kind of binding in a previous post, which you can read here. There really is more than one way to bind a quilt, and while one may lean more to one way than another, it really should depend on the quilt. I’m all about listening to the dictates of the quilt.

In the case of this configuration, the wavy sides of the quilt are not so gentle. The peaks are sharper than I like, and quite honestly, I didn’t want to deal with binding that.

So I cut them off. Simply done.

I’ve marked 21 projects off of my list thus far in 2018, and a couple of those were multiple small projects. I’ve begun 6 new projects, 3 of which are complete. I’m not even halfway to being caught up, but I’m a lot closer than I was a year ago, and more importantly I’m doing a pretty good job of not adding more to that list. I may have let it get away from me for a while, but I’m getting it back again.

It’s a small, small world.

The quilting world sometimes feels like a secret favorite child of one of society’s mistresses. The world at large doesn’t seem to be too aware of us, and yet we toddle around the globe via the internet, and even cruise ships having the time of our lives. We chatter amongst ourselves about fabric lines and manufacturers and the latest shake-up in the industry. We gently stalk our favorite designers, and hoard fat quarters like they’re Beanie Babies. And how about shop hop events, guild meetings, friendly sew-ins, retreats, quilt shows and conferences? Over 50,000 people attend the International Quilt Festival in Houston, TX each fall. Over 30,000 descend on the tiny town of Paducah, KY each spring for AQS Quilt Week. And while it’s tough to find the exact numbers, about 2,500 attend QuiltCon each February as it moves back and forth across the United States.

Depending on one’s perspective, those are big numbers or small numbers. Some are surprised there’s that much interest in what the world at large thinks is a “dying art.” Others are so immersed in the quilting world that they might think that number would be larger, and are shocked no one else in the grocery store is creeping up on Anna Maria Horner or Angela Walters for their autographs.

And then one enters the longarm quilting community. If people think the quilting community is relatively small, they should meet the longarm crew. Hello. We haven’t even been able to get the word “longarm” as one of Webster’s new words, and we’ve been using it for years, mildly annoyed by that red underline every time we type it. Never mind that autocorrect insists that we are seeing rather than sewing. And sewist needs to be a new word, too!!!!! But I have digressed.

When Juan was first delivered and set up in my studio, I found myself incredibly overwhelmed. I felt like my dealer was speaking another language. She spoke quickly and used terms I was completely unfamiliar with, and quite honestly seemed to assume that I knew a lot more than I did. When she left I cried. It was about as bad as bringing home my first child. I had that hard, tight feeling in my chest warning me that I had made a decision that I could not take back, and that I’d better grab my bootstraps and get it figured out. Fast.

I hardly spoke a word about how I was really feeling, and I spent a lot of time telling everyone how excited I was. And a part of me was excited, but it was a very small voice, and it took some work for that voice to grow in strength and confidence. Especially when it was mixed with voices from others, and even from myself, degrading computerized work, the brand of machine I bought and longarming in general.

I started to hear of online support groups. Then about magazines devoted to longarm machine quilting. Then longarm quilting support meetings. Then quilt shows focusing specifically on longarm quilting. Then retreats. And even cruises. Who knew?!?

In the last couple of years, I’ve narrowed the groups I participate in as I have found some work for me and some don’t, for a number of reasons. I’ve attended two retreats, Statler Southern Belles, both being hosted by Joan Knight and Anita Shackelford in the spring at DeGray State Park in Arkansas.

While the lodge accommodations are average and the food is meh, the scenery is incredible. It is a beautiful location for a gathering, and the staff are friendly and kind. But the location is not why we are here.

These retreats are the only quilting related event I’ve ever been to that we don’t touch a piece of fabric or a machine pretty much the entire time. Ninety or so of us pack into a darkened conference room for 2 1/2 days looking at projected computer screens and furiously taking notes.

Joan and Anita are remarkably professional, and are incredible educators. They know the software and the machine inside and out, and break down every topic to its bare essentials and then build it back up again. I could not do what I do without their leadership and tutoring. Attending these events has made all the difference in the world to my work. I’m very grateful, and would recommend this retreat to every Statler owner- it’s totally worth it.

Just like every educational event, not everyone has the same experience. Some have a-ha moments. Some get more confused than they were before they got there. Some get frustrated because they already know this stuff. Some get frustrated because they are lost just trying to keep up with the lingo.

There are shenanigans. Door prizes. Lots of candy and Diet Coke. Laughter. Groans. People who break the rules. People who are annoyed with those breaking the rules. Applause. Guest speakers. Show and tell. Cake. And inside jokes.

There are evening gatherings that include comparing notes on everything from running a longarm business to what to do with grandkids over the summer. We pick the brains of our patient hosts and guest designers, as well as each other.

Some stay up late, but my brain is so tired at the end of the day, and quite honestly I’ve hit my social wall, that I’m grateful to make my way to my room. I also head there at lunchtime so that I can quickly work up some of what I just learned on my laptop before I forget it.

It is nothing like what I expected it to be. It’s a whole different world that I was never aware of in my 20+ years of quilting. And I still feel like I’ve only skimmed the top of it. There is SO much to learn- so many ways to progress, develop and grow.

And so many people to meet and learn with in this small, small world.

Something old. Something new.

I love this little quilt. I love the colors. I love the fabric. I love the maker. And I love what I got to learn from it.

Several years ago- more than I can remember- I participated in a quilt guild’s brown bag challenge. If I remember correctly, each member of the guild put 5 fat quarters in a brown bag and turned them in to a coordinator. The coordinator then redistributed the brown bags, and each maker had a few mo this to make a quilt top from the contents of the bag.

My brown bag ended up in the hands of a sweet friend and meticulous quilter, and I was thrilled with what she did with my fabric selections. Her curved piecing was impeccable, and I thought it was great use of the prints.

Like so many of my own projects, it got packed away and added to a long list of UFOs. A few months ago I actually went through all of my “stuff” and took an inventory of all of my UnFinished Objects and was horrified and embarrassed, so I’ve been pretty committed to finishing things off. The added benefit is that one of my major motivations is a sense of accomplishment, and as I finish each project my spirits are lifted and creativity is free to flow.

Another benefit is that I find that I’ve learned a lot since the project before me was first made, and I love applying new skills to those older projects. This time it just so happened that I had just learned a new-to-me binding technique, and this quilt was small enough that I was willing to try it without it being a huge commitment.

For years I thought that continuous double-fold binding was the only way to bind a quilt without folding the backing to the front. I’ve learned that is not at all true, and there are several more options. It really just depends on the end goal on which one works best, although most people pick one way of doing it and just stick to it. Me? Not so much. I like variety, and understand that I may not want the same finish on every quilt.

I recently attended the Southern Belle retreat for owners of Statler machines and hosted by Joan Knight and Anita Shackelford. We learned tons about our machine software, but there were also demos and discussions on other aspects of quilting. One of those was a lecture and demonstration of binding presented by Anita. During this, I learned about continuous single-fold binding, which I’ve never seen done before.

Two of the major differences from the continuous double- fold binding in familiar with are that continuous single-fold is cut at just 1 1/4″, and the length of the binding is not pressed in half. The binding is machine seamed on the diagonal, and machine attached (right sides together) to the front of the quilt.

The binding is then flipped to the back, and the raw edge is folded halfway down with a hard finger press as it is hand stitched to the back of the quilt. I found that it worked best to work about 2-3″ out from my needle and press towards where I was working. Otherwise the binding can start to warp.

Stitching is standard 1/4″ blind stitch with a single thread. Corners are also standard 90 degree with flaps sewn down both on front and back.

What I loved about it is that the binding, and especially the corners, are remarkably flat and tight. It was a relaxing process to me, but I happen to LOVE binding quilts. The negative was that quite honestly, it took me twice as long to do because of having to stop to finger press every couple of inches. I may see if I can tweak that process next time.

And so, there it is. Something old- a marinated UFO, and something new- a fabulous technique!

The Getaway Gang

The Green Apricot hosted two retreats in 2017.  One coincided with QuiltCon in Savannah, GA, and planning for it began two years ago.  The other was just simply a getaway to take a breather at the end of summer and beginning of fall.  This one was a little more last minute, and while based a great deal on the fun time we had at Tybee Island in February, it was intended to be more low-key and have better accommodations.

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The Fall 2017 edition of  #thegreenapricotgetaway was located at a resort in Crossville, TN called Fairfield Glade.  I think you could call it a mixed-use property, as it is part resort and part community.  There are people who live there full time, but there are also a number of condominiums, and amenities ranging from golf courses to walking trails, from horseback riding to swimming, from medical facilities to a spa.  It’s located just off of I-40 about an hour west of Knoxville, and while the property is huge, I was surprised that not many seem to know about it.  It is not explicitly a retirement community, but it is definitely retirement friendly.

So, a few months ago I reserved 6 condos and got to work planning.  I knew that the condos were not big enough for all of us to sew in, and I reserved the classroom in the community center for three days.  I ended up limiting the attendance to just 12, including myself, because I was concerned about having enough room for all of us to be comfortable sewing in the classroom.  Each person had a 6 foot table, and there was plenty of room for 3 cutting mats and 4 irons.  Perfect size, and no electrical problems!

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Not everyone knew each other before the retreat, but the beauty of a small group like this is the opportunity to chat on a more personal level with other people in our sewing community.  There was a wide range of personalities and ideologies, and it made for some fascinating conversations throughout the days and nights.
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Machine name tags helped with getting to know your sewing neighbor, but putting them on the handwheel certainly made them more entertaining.  If you don’t believe me, just try it sometime.  I had prepared and brought several games to play throughout the getaway, but in the end decided to keep things simple.  We had several gifts donated by Rana from Sewn Into the Fabric, some of which were part of daily treats, like this dang cute pumpkin pin cushion called Big Delores, and some were drawn for.

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One game we did play was to find the blue Peanut M&M.  Before heading to the retreat, I sorted 12 pounds of Peanut M&Ms by color, and hid a blue one in one of the jars.  The one to find it won the first prize of the week- a Seymore Bones kit from Rana!  Kris didn’t miss a beat and immediately dumped out his jar of M&Ms and found the blue one…

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That started the drawings that went on throughout the retreat.  Kris drew the name of the next winner, and then also drew what prize they got.  We had another Seymore Bones kit, three copies of “Simply Strings,” also by Rana, and several boxes of Wonder Clips by Clover.

I didn’t get pictures of every project that was made or worked on, but I got a few.  Here’s just a snippet of what some of us were working on…

During the planning process I found that I was less than excited about catering options, so I decided to cook for all of us.  Preparing food for 12 can seem daunting in some ways, but really, I come from/have a large family, so I am pretty accustomed to cooking for a crowd.  I don’t consider myself to be an especially impressive cook, or excessively healthy, but I feel like I do okay in the kitchen and I have learned a lot about improving my own nutrition over the last several months.  I checked with everyone for any special needs, then set a menu based on meals that I’ve made for my own family before.  Most of the shopping had to be done ahead of time, so my car was incredibly weighed down on the drive to Crossville!

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We ate at my condo because, well, I hate food near fabric!  Snacks are okay, but it really does bug me to sit in front of my machine with a plate of food.  The sewing room was just under a mile away from the condos, so most of us drove back and forth for lunch and dinner.  But the weather was PERFECT for a walk, as well.  I served the same way I do in my own home- countertop buffet style.  I also dislike a lot of garbage, so we used real plates and glasses and I washed cloth napkins between each meal.  I very much enjoyed cooking for everyone, and with a little preparation it wasn’t nearly as much work as it could have been!

Monday:  Lunch- Green Veggie Minestrone with salad bar; Dinner- Acorn squash with sausage, apples, and kale, roasted broccoli, and salad

Tuesday:  Lunch- Salad and sandwich bar; Dinner- Lemon rosemary chicken with brown rice, roasted asparagus, muffins and raw veggies

Wednesday:  Lunch- Sandwich and salad bar; Dinner- Pork roast and apples with roasted mixed veggies and raw veggies

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Several of us also took a minute or two to visit some of the local establishments, like Little Blessings Quilt Shop in Crossville, and Gina’s Bernina in Knoxville.  This fabulous yarn shop was just a few miles down the road from the resort, and I was glad to have the chance to stop in at the Yarn Patch.  It’s a lovely shop, to say the least, and I didn’t have to look to hard to find something to take home with me.  I was especially impressed with the person working there, who I assume is the owner.  She handled her customers beautifully- gently guiding them as needed, and letting them wander as desired.  It really was a pleasure to shop there, and I hope to support this shop again sometime in the future.

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And just like that, it was all over.  The weather was wonderful.  The accommodations were perfect- including the enormous mirrored bathtub/shower in every unit- haha!  But the best part was the company.

Until next time…

The Green Apricot Getaway- Fall 2017

When: October 1-5, 2017

Where: Crossville, TN

What:  BYOP Retreat

How Much:  $375 per person (Limit 12)

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Crossville, TN is located on the Cumberland Plateau in the Appalachian Mountains. We’ll be there at the beginning of October, and the temps should be mild and the leaves beginning to change color.  This retreat is literally about getting away- away from the noise and busyness of everyday life and slowing down for a bit of selfish sewing.  We will be staying at a 12,700 acre resort that boasts of golf courses, riding stables, indoor and outdoor pools, multiple lakes and other activities including massage services (swoon).  There are restaurants on site, and several more to choose from just a couple of miles away. But who cares about all that?!?  We are here for the sewing…

BYOP– This is a Bring Your Own Project style of retreat.  Plan on starting something new and dedicating a solid several days to working on it.  I will be working on the Stag Nation quilt by Sewn Into the Fabric, and I will gladly teach it to whomever wants to join me.  Or, bring a project from home that you want to finish up.  We’ll have access to one large common sewing area for three days, and there is also plenty of room for cutting, sewing and relaxing in the units where we will be staying.  There will be enough room in the common area for all attendes to have their own sewing space. Please do not bring personal irons or cutting mats to the common sewing area, although you are welcome to have them in your unit.  

                     

Shown above: Stag Nation by Sewn Into the Fabric

Accomodations– Mulitiple 2-bedroom units with full kitchens, washers and dryers, dining and living room space.  Units are located close to one another.  No housekeeping will be provided during the retreat.  

Food– The Green Apricot will provide lunch and dinner while in the common sewing area Monday through Wednesday.  Some staples will be provided in each unit, but all other meals will be the responsibility of the attendees.  Grocery stores and restaurants are all just a couple miles away.

Travel– Travel is not included.  The closest international airport to Crossville is 110 miles away in Nashville.  Please keep this in mind while planning.  

Check In/Check Out– Check-in begins at 5pm on Sunday, Oct 1, and check-out is at 10am on Thursday, Oct 5.

Fees, Deposits and Canellation Policies– 

  • Fees include accomodations for 4 nights, sewing space, lunch and dinner for three days for each person.  Payment in full without incurring a $100 fee is due August 15, 2017.  Final payment is due September 15, 2017.  If the reservation is not paid in full on September 15, the reservation and all fees are forfeited.
  • Registration requires a $200 deposit per person that is nonrefundable, but is transferable with approval by The Green Apricot. 
  • Cancellations before September 15, 2017 are fully refundable, less the deposit. Cancellations after September 15, 2017 are not refundable.  Remember, you can transfer your reservation to someone else.

 

Click Register Now to reserve your choice with the appropriate deposit.  (Please note that you are not registered if the deposit is not paid.)  Because of system limitations, it is possible to overbook.  If that happens, and I am not able to honor your request, I will refund your deposit promptly.  Reservations are limited to a total of 12 people (including myself).  After the reservations have been confirmed, I will send a link for the remaining balance due.

Please let me know if you have any questions before you register.  You can email me at thegreenapricot@gmail.com, or text or call 770-584-3498.

She’s ba-ack… No, not Poltergeist-

It has been so long since I blogged last that I am not sure I remember how!  Good grief!  Where to start?  I suppose it depends on what you are working on, but I’ve found when it comes to walking, scrapbooking, genealogy and writing, it is usually best to start where you are.  So, here goes…

IMG_4141[1]The Stash Bash.  Yeah, you heard me, I got to go.  Jealous?  Well, you should be.  It was stinking fabulous.

So, first, you must know that I couldn’t have been more anxious about this event.  I found these gals online through Instagram, but I did not know a single soul that was attending.  You know how this normally goes, most of us don’t go to things like this without a sista.  Or two or three.  I went alone.  Not only that, but I had the dates wrong on my calendar and almost showed up two weeks too early.  Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it), I emailed the host, Chris Warnick, to ask about directions the night before I almost packed up and headed to the event.  Her return email politely informed me that the Stash Bash would take place on April 24, not April 10, and could I please reply and let her know that I was aware of the correct dates?  Oy.  Way to introduce myself.  “Hi!  My name is Angela, and I am the idiot that can’t figure out what day I am supposed to be here.”  Thankfully I live 15 minutes from the venue and didn’t buy a plane ticket.  Or start a 12 hour drive.  Or whatever.

IMG_4103[1]So, once I got the dates figured out, I packed all my shtuff and headed over to the Calvin Center.  This was the view we had from our workroom, which I totally appreciated on the first day, but honestly, barely noticed after that.

IMG_4101[1]And this was where I “slept”.  We had a choice between bunk rooms and hotel-ish rooms, and I chose bunk.  Partly because it was cheaper, and partly because I wanted to check out the quilts on the other bunk beds!  Besides, you don’t go to quilt retreat to sleep, so I actually prefer this kind of set up, albeit a bit on the primitive side.  Sadly for my roomie, I had a touch of something-or-other and ended up hacking all night, which of course she said didn’t bother her one bit.  She was kind.

IMG_4104[1]Then there was swag.

IMG_4152[1]Then there was more swag.

IMG_4113[1]Then there were snacks to go with the swag.IMG_4226[1]All from all those guys.  Yeah, tha’s what I’m talkin’ about.  Are you an Instagramer?  Check out #thestashbash (not #stashbash, although there are some good looking mustaches on that one) and #sponsorlove.  Then go buy stuff. IMG_3279[1]The plan was to work on this little nugget, but you know what they say about the best laid plans, so that didn’t happen.  So, what did happen?

IMG_4228[1]This happened.  The Sew Together Bag by Sew Demented.  (You may click here to buy the pattern!IMG_4161[1]Now, in case you didn’t notice, let me tell you a few things about this bag.  Number one- it’s a bag.  I don’t do bags.  Number two- it has zippers.  I don’t do zippers.  Number three- it has 4, count ’em, 4 zippers.  Did I mention I don’t do zippers?  Let’s just say I now know how to do these zippers.  And I really loved making this bag.

So, in case you’re keeping track, I was wrong about dates, miserably nervous about going alone, and didn’t get anything done that I had planned to work on.  Well, that’s about where the list of disappointments ends.  (Except that the really nice guy that used to be the cook at Calvin was gone, which was pretty sad, but I didn’t go there for the food.)

I had a fabulous time.  I mean fabulous.

I learned a lot while making that bag, including that it was actually possible for me to make a bag, with the right teacher.  In fact, I may even make another one.  Maybe even a different kind.  Who knows, I may become a bag making machine.  Or not.  Either way, by the end of that project, I believed all of that bag making business, and I wouldn’t have without Kristi McDonough’s guidance.  She is awesome.

IMG_4158[1]Then there was my roommate.  And my table mates.  And my dinner mates.  And all the rest of my retreat mates.  I laughed, and I laughed, and I laughed.  There was no drama.  When I said “hashtag” they knew what I was talking about.  When they spouted off names of designers and I didn’t know who they were talking about, they seemed to be okay with it.  No one seemed to care that we were in a room full of creators that varied from 12 IG followers to well over 2,000 IG followers.  And I was finally able to define what it means to me to be a “modern quilter.”

IMG_9823Honestly, for a long time I have believed that “modern quilters” were defined by two things- age and style.  I stand corrected.  From what I saw at the Stash Bash, I’d have to say that it is way more about technology and community than anything else.  There is just something almost explosive about how technology has facilitated a flow of creativity and know-how that we have never experienced before.  It changes the way we see the world and ourselves, thus changing the way, and even what, we create.  What a fabulous time to be a quilter.

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To flange or not to flange- what is the question?

Okay, so this might be the first time in my retreat going history that I have finished a quilt within a month of the event. I mean really, I still have quilt tops from past years I haven’t finished yet, but this one? It’s done.  If you read my earlier post, you know that this pattern is “Urban Cabin” by Atkinson Designs.  You also know that I never seem to purchase patterns and fabric at the same time, so I don’t normally have correct yardage.  This is the perfect example, hence the 1″ piano key border, and the leftover 10″ squares on the back.

Urban Cabin- Retreat quilt

It’s probably because I have the added pressure of there being a purpose for this quilt- I want to give it to my sister-in-law.  I find that having a real purpose usually spurs me on a little more than just for the fun of it.  Although, that should be a good enough reason as well!

Urban Cabin flange

I do a lot of improvisational quilting, mostly because I am usually ill prepared, or I just don’t want to do it that way.  This time, I only had a stack of 10″ squares and a smallish bundle of 2 1/2″ strips, plus just barely enough of the dark brown for the background.  This led to a problem when it came to the binding and all I had enough left to use were the 2 1/2″ strips.  I couldn’t put them right up next to the piano key border- it was just too much.  So, I dug through the scraps of dark brown and found that I had just enough left to make a 1/4″ flange to break it up a bit.  Worked perfectly if you ask me.

Urban Cabin back

I had a few 10″ squares left, so I dug through my bins to find just enough of these other fabrics to put together a back.  I really love piecing backs, and I really hate not using ALL of the fabric I have purchased.

So, as if a finished retreat quilt wasn’t enough to puff up my pride, I also am pretty dang pleased with the photo editing I learned how to do for this post.  By golly, I will figure out all this new fangled technology.  After all, improv is my thing.