Friday, August 28, 2020

Evacuation Time


On August 18th we had to evacuate because of the lightning fires in the Santa Cruz Mountains. The fire was coming down the mountains towards our little town of Boulder Creek. There are very few roads in or out, so the entire area was told to evacuate. It was a rough hour or so of running around the house, packing up our pets and essentials and then leaving, each of us driving a car. It was so smoky we were wearing the n-95 masks we had from the fires in the Bay Area last year. It had been over 100F every day for more than a week (very unusual) and it was still very hot that evening as we left. 

These are two pictures I took of how smoky it was at 4:40 pm that afternoon. As far as we knew the fire was pretty far away from us at that point, but the wind was coming up and blowing it towards us.

All I could think of was needing to get my people and animals to safety, nothing else mattered. A very primal response to want to go to ground at my parent's house. Even with the Cover risk, they welcomed us in. And here we still are. Over the next few days we watched in horror as the fire burned closer and closer to town, marching along slowly, and with so few firefighters on the fire because of all the other ones in the Bay Area. At one point it seemed as if they were going to have to give up and get out to safety, but they stopped it from advancing past the highway that divides our valley. We just happen to live on the "safe" side. At least for now. The fire was within a mile "as the crow flies" from our house. Across the two-lane road that's the highway, a small creek/river and then a steep hill. Fires love to go up, so if it had jumped the highway and river, that would have been it for us.

The utilities getting restored and the firefighters making sure the trees weakened by fire are safely down is what's holding us back from getting to go back home. Also the fire is still active fairly near Boulder Creek and Ben Lomond, if the weather changes, the following might all be a jinx just to say it.

It's very much a limbo situation where we're fairly sure our house is "fine", but we haven't been able to see it with our own eyes yet. One person in our neighbor's group on Facebook called it Schrödinger's house, which is a very apt description.  I'll only believe it's still there and okay when I see it for myself. And then there's the matter of the full refrigerator and freezer that's had no power for a week and a half. With bonus fresh salmon sitting in it that we were planning to have for dinner that Tuesday night which seems like months ago. Seems like a new refrigerator may be in our new future and we'll feel damn lucky if that's the extent of the problems we encounter.

I'm dreading going back, survivor's guilt is very very real, and the grief I feel for the forest is immense. 

A Few Lessons learned:

I have my priorities straight, I didn't delay our departure trying to grab a lot of material/sentimental things. I focused only on people, pets, and papers. 

I need to bring the chargers for devices.

I need to finish scanning pictures and documents to the cloud so they're safe and available.

I need to find out if our fire department wants us to leave the power on or not when we're told to evacuate. I thought they wanted it off, so we shut off our panel and then the gas too. Need to get clarity on that detail, because maybe our fridge would be okay as I think the power has possibly been on the whole time at our place.

We need to update our neighborhood phone tree list as half of the neighbors are newbies.

We need to spend more time and money on working on defensible space on our property and surrounding ones.

I want to work on changing the law for prisoner fire fighters so that they are able to apply to become fire fighters after they're done serving their time. It came to the floor earlier this year in the CA legislature but was defeated.

I really want one of those Ring doorbell things, several of our neighbors have them and it was so reassuring to see the pictures posted during the fire's march towards us.

I'm lucky to be in a privileged enough position to be able to say over and over to myself, "it's all just stuff, my family is safe, it's all just stuff."

Monday, August 10, 2020

Convex Mask


Documenting a new mask pattern attempt.

 DS Alex asked me to make him another mask since he's been wearing his 8 hours a day at work and washing it every night. He had a couple other ones that have elastic, but he found that it really hurts his ears after all those hours. Since he didn't want elastic I used a very soft cording. He's wearing it today, so we'll see if that's comfortable enough for him. If it isn't, then I'll swap it out for the fabric ties. I might use the strips of old t-shirt idea, because that would definitely be soft enough. But would stretchy knit cotton strips really get tight and secure enough?

I used one batik and one cotton fabric to make him the mask. The other masks I made were two layers of batik. Maybe it will be a bit more breathable? Also, this pattern has no pocket for an added filter. We haven't been utilizing that pocket in the masks I made previously so that seemed okay. There's a new study done by Duke University about the efficacy of different face coverings. I'm glad they're continuing to study this stuff!

The new pattern I tried was from Jen Carlton Bailly. It's made using her convex templates that she uses for quilts. She has very generously provided a free printout of the template if you don't own her plastic ones already. There's also a great instruction video which was very clear and easy. I thought it was a pretty cool idea and it went together very quickly as it's not as fiddly as the other pattern I had used. 

When I made this one up, it fit me quite well and felt pretty secure even with just one tie. But I have a very prominent chin so it didn't fit Alex as well. Different shape and size faces really impact the fit of masks of course, just like any other article of clothing. We decided we're going to modify the idea with an additional tie which should help adjust the fit.

Sunday, August 09, 2020

Bonus ICAD

 I can't seem to stop working on index cards, ICAD really got to me this year. Here's one bonus piece:

Watercolor pencils, colored pencils, one torn up smallish playing card.

Saturday, August 08, 2020

Zipping Along


I don't exactly know what these lace zippers will be used for: bags or clothing, but I couldn't not get them, they're so cute and the colors just got to me. Now that I'm holding them, I'm thinking about whether the lacey edges will get sewn down or not. It might be cool to leave them unsecured and only stitch next to the zipper. 
And some older Carolyn Friedlander prints that I hadn't nabbed when they first came out because they were on big sale. And look how well they go with the zippers.

Friday, August 07, 2020

Right-Sized and Cut Out

CriCut success achieved after several attempts. I buckled down and figured out the re-sizing thing with the SVG files and was able to cut out the pieces for the Cotton Candy pouch for friend Jaye. Cutting out the cotton fabrics and the Shape Flex (fusible woven interfacing) was easy peasy. 
But then there was the Bosal In-R-Form, fusible foam pieces that needed to be cut. This material is quite thick, so I looked up tips on cutting out thicker materials as I haven't done anything on the CriCut except cardstock and cotton fabric. The first suggestion I found was to use the regular grip mat (note the green) instead of the fabric grip one (the pink one above). The second suggestion was to select "Felt" as the material and to switch from the rotary cutting blade to the fine point blade (basically an e-xacto blade). I watched as the machine went around this rectangle two times. And it did not successfully cut through the whole thing. It got through the foam layers, but not the backing material. 

I switched back to the rotary cutter and selected "Heavy Fabric" and it was perfectly fine.
Another tip was to use a brayer to really get the material stuck down to the mat. My brayer has ink on it, so I used my smaller Clover seam roller instead. I concentrated my efforts especially around the edges and where the foam was a little wrinkled. It's not like you can iron this stuff, since it's a fusible. I found that it worked very very well, there were no problems off it shifting or bunching or moving at all.
Here's how it looks after cutting, lifting up the corner to see if it went through, huzzah, yes

And here's the curvy piece all cut out, this would be very hard for me to cut accurately, so I was happy I got the CriCut to work. All of this work was part of learning how to use a new tool, and I'm glad Jaye asked me to try it out.
All the pieces are finally cut out and sent off to friend Jaye, I hope she finds my fabric choices acceptable <g>

And yes I cut out a set of bag pieces for myself to try out making this very cute bag.

Monday, August 03, 2020

Cornucopia the Latest

Time for another cornucopia post as this one is getting pretty full!


New mini quilt challenge for the Curated Quilts magazine, this time it's Pluses, and the color range is beautiful.


I just spent an enjoyable amount of time checking out the Festival of Quilts website, the current exhibition is just beautiful.


Absolutely gorgeous exhibit catalog put together for this year's Fiber Hawaii.


Very interesting digital magazine the Grand reUnion, especially the part about Upwording.


A really lovely and well-done digital tour of a SAQA exhibition, Colour With A U.


This letter from The Painter's Keys - Sixteen Reasons Why I Won't Paint Today - breaks down the issues surrounding procrastination.


Chill out and watch some of the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Web Cams. I'm partial to the jellyfish ones.


On using your Covid-19 grief and turning it into action, from the man behind the Aids Memorial Quilt.

Sunday, August 02, 2020

ICAD Video

As is my custom now, I've made a video of all 61 ICAD pieces I created this year. I think it's pretty fun to see it all in one place in this format, and I hope you enjoy it too.

Not sure why, but YouTube thinks my video is violating their terms of service, specifically the spammy rule? I've appealed, and we'll see what happens. It's obviously all my own personal artwork, the video was created on Animoto which I've always used to make these videos with no problem. I have no idea honestly, maybe they were bored on a Sunday? 
Well, I heard back from YouTube and they say: 

Dear Julie Stiller:

Thank you for submitting your video appeal to YouTube.

After further review of the content, we've determined that your video does violate our Community Guidelines and have upheld our original decision. We appreciate your understanding.


— The YouTube Team

Not helpful, at all.  Doesn't say why, how this is spam, or anything at all that would assist me in changing something to make it 'acceptable to the community" I'm such a rule-breaker, don't you know?! I don't even know how or why or what rule I'm breaking, and this boilerplate reply message from them doesn't do a thing to help my understanding that they supposedly appreciate.

Guess we're down to hey here's a link to watch it over on Animoto: ICAD 2020 The good news is that you can expand it to full screen to really see the details of these 4x6" pieces.

Saturday, August 01, 2020


August?!?! I keep being surprised today that it is August **ALREADY**
I don't know why I'm so surprised, it probably has to do with the whole "time is a flat circle" thing we have going on during all the strangeness of the ongoing pandemic retreat.
That's what I'm calling it now, since it's not longer a quarantine or a shelter-in-place, it's a retreat from the pandemic. Maybe/probably because it's been going on for us since early to mid-March. That's a long time in dog years or human months.

This month marker photo was made with SnapSeed, and is a combination of the following two photos:
One of my collages from the last week of ICAD.
And a photo of the new bird feeder right before the birds flew in and gobbled the contents right up.
I'm taking a before and after picture every time I refill this, and I'm going to stitch them all into a movie with action shots with the birds that are showing up. It's a gawdawful mess, but the new faces are welcome around here. It's gotten to the point already, in about a week of having this thing set up that if it's empty and I step out onto the deck, the birds come and yell at me. Pretty funny.