Sunday, October 12, 2014

Defender's Day (Coffeyville, KS)

Once a year, Coffeyville reenacts the Dalton Gang's last bank robbery during their Dalton Defenders Day.  The Dalton Gang had been terrorizing the Oklahoma area by robbing trains for over a year and a half when they decided to try robbing two of Coffeyville's banks in broad daylight.  Thanks to quick thinking towns people and a brave bank clerk, the Dalton Gang's terrorizing days ended.  As some of the gang emerged from one bank, they were greeted by the town's people and a hail of bullets.  Three escaped down an alley from the second bank only to be shot down by a barber and a livery stable owner.  
All were killed except for one.  Emmett survived multiple bullet wounds and was released after 14 years in prison to become a Hollywood screen writer.

We did not make it downtown for the reenactments, but we did visit one of the two banks they tried to rob.  Quite a beauty, isn't it?  We took a quick tour of the inside.  The town has done a great job of keeping the bank's original look.
Well, I guess I jinxed our good weather.  A cold front came through and seems to like it here.  We have had heavy rains, very loud thunderstorms, and flash flood watches/warnings.  After spending hours listening to heavy rains drum on the warehouse's roof during our work night, people were beginning to worry about getting home.  There are a few low lying areas between Amazon and our campgrounds.  
We all managed to get home this time, but now I'm worried about the upcoming heavy rains when we are at work.  I always thought it was great to have our house on wheels because if there is a flood....well, we can just move our home, right?  I never thought we would be on the wrong side of the flood with our cats on the other.

Forget Me Knot by Mary Marks
I was quite excited to find a new quilt mystery writer!  The main character is Martha - an overweight middle-aged Jewish divorcee and an expert quilter.  Whew!  Quite a description for one character.  Martha has two good quilting friends that she calls her besties.  I can't see me calling my friends that, but okay a little digressive.

I wasn't too happy that within the first chapter the writer felt a need to add a snide political remark against Republicans plus she insinuated that most of those types were prone to stealing other quilter's tools.  Really??!  I saw no need for such a comment.  I understand that quilters can be competitive and there will always be politics inside quilt guilds and shows, but this was beyond the common quilting ground.   I decided to finish this book since I had it with hopes that was the end of the political comments.

Well, it wasn't the end, but the political comments were not as bad.  I soon learned that one of Martha's besties was not only a Republican, but she and her husband carried licensed hand guns.  Later, Martha is also taught how to handle and shoot a handgun even though she does protest that as a Democrat, she should not have a gun.  Again - Really?

So, did I actually like the book?  Yes, after I got over the remarks and realized that Mary Marks was just giving us a different kind of quilting character.  I found I was enjoying the murder mystery quite a bit.  I learned a few things about Jewish traditions from Martha and her family.  Martha turned out to have a big soft heart for animals.  I think I am more in love with the animals than I am the quilters.  The big twist at the end was not just who did it, but how the victim put messages in her quilts.  Very interesting.

There's a little romance and it was very funny at times.  Yes, I do believe that I will be reading more books by Mary Marks.

On The Cutting Board
My hands are aching so much today from our work week that I need to take a break from hand quilting.  Yet....typing doesn't bother them...go figure.   I'm not sure what I did to them.  Lifted too many little boxes that were too heavy for one hand or maybe I gripped the scanner too tight.  Whatever it was, I plan to be extra careful next week, because I can't grip the needle to pull it through the fabrics and batting.  Yep, a little frustrating.
So, I will stick to doing some light embroidery and resting my hands.  I ironed a couple of more happy campers together.  Hopefully, I will be able to embroider the edges later this week.
Last week, I pulled out the sewing machine to finish the border for my Macaw's welcome wall hanging.  I'm glad I did the basting last week!
Happy Quilting!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Closing Date (Coffeyville, KS)

Coffeyville Amazon - Closing
Last Tuesday evening (Sept 30), Amazon officials told the Coffeyville employees with the Camper Force seasonal temps in a meeting that they will be closing this fulfillment center in February.  It was a sad night to watch the reactions of these hard working people.  Shocked silence.  Some crying while others tried to give comfort.  For Dan and I, it was a surprised shock.  Granted we are not in the main stream of rumors, but there was absolutely no hint that they were thinking of closing this center.
Some of the reasons given:  lack of manpower and low productivity.  Since Amazon started offering 2 day shipment, they want to have their centers closer to their customers.  They did this recently in Nevada.  It does make sense when they explained the time that they will save by not shipping items by trucks out to a small town with no city nearby.  The time spent to ship to the center for stocking, processing, then packed to be shipped right back to a city for distribution cost valuable time when we are talking about a 2 day shipping promise.  

I can see their point, but still, I feel real bad for the employees.  Amazon is offering different packages for leaving or re-locating with Amazon.  We have talked to a few of the employees and so far, they say they plan to stay here.  Some plan to go to college with their Amazon package while others are not sure what they will do.  Hopefully, it will work out for all of them.
For us - the Camper Force, we have our contracted jobs up  to 23 December.  Work will be normal until January when Amazon stops inbound shipments and slowly empties out the warehouse from orders until February.  Of course, Amazon's motto seems to be 'everything is subject to change' we shall see.

On The Cutting Board
I finished the embroidery on two more Happy Campers.  I have been working on other ones, but I haven't taken photos of them.
I have the hardest time with this grey fabric.  It is very light weight and never wants to lay flat.  I'm glad I'm almost out of it.  I need to look for a heavier weave next time.

I'm especially happy with my new window box.  It's fun filling the box with different flowers.  Yes, the heart is from the green trailer.  
Speaking of flowers....I can't get over all the flowers I have been seeing around here.  It is October, right?  I see butterflies floating around and birds singing.  The rose (photo above) is from our campground.  We have had a few rain storms and cold fronts come through, but for the most part - the weather has been gorgeous!  Warm sunny days with cool nights.  I suppose I am asking too much for it to stay like this for the rest of the time we are here.  Yea, I didn't think so.

In the meantime, we are sitting outside when we can with the cats.  I'm getting a little sewing done in between chasing exploring cats.  So far, Dusty has found one turtle and one non-poisonous snake.  Hmm, I wonder what will be next.  

Anyway, with some luck, I might finish a few more Happy Campers soon.
Happy Quilting!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

A Turtle Comes For A Visit (Coffeyville, KS)

We were relaxing outside with all the cats two weekends ago when we noticed Dusty alerting on something near the back fence.  A comical sight.  Here's a 22 pound cat with his tail twitching, thumping what look like a rock, hissing and jumping backwards.......and it turned out to be this little guy trying very hard to make himself invisible peeking out from inside his shell.  
We moved Dusty away thinking he would forget about the turtle, but he was back over there once again hissing and thumping on the poor guy's shell.  Did you know turtles can hiss?  I didn't.  This guy can hiss better and louder than Dusty!

Finally, Dan decided to move the turtle to the edge of the park's pond that is only five sites away from us.  We know it is not a water turtle, but we thought he would be safer there.  Plenty of vegetation, tall grass, and water.  It already looks like he had one run-in with a human from the looks of the crack in his shell.  Maybe a lawn mower or a bike's wheel?
Two days later, our next door neighbor sighted the turtle behind his rig.  Yep, the same turtle had made the long trek back to the same spot near the fence,  He probably did not appreciate the long walk back.  

There is a big gap under the fence that we blocked to keep the cats from going under, so Dan set the turtle near the opening.  The next day he was gone.  Hopefully, he found his way home on the other side of the fence.
Dusty - our protector
But Wait!  The story doesn't end there.  The turtle disappeared for a couple of days, but he has returned to the same spot.  Yep, he is back!  I do believe we will be sharing our side yard with the turtle until it gets cold and no, we will NOT be adopting him!

On The Cutting Board
Speaking of turtles - I started quilting my Hawaiian turtle applique.  It's amazing.  I am actually getting more work done at night.  Lots of quilting and sewing getting done.  Plus, I am getting some work done on the internet.  But only on weekends, my brain is mush after 10 hours of working!  The best part of staying up late is that I find I am not as distracted with going outside or running errands like I do during the day.  The WiFi is great at 2 in the morning!  Yes, I am writing this at 2 am.  
Last week was rough because I tried to switch back to days during our weekend off.  By our second night shift, I was a mess.  I felt like I had a bad case of jet lag.  I wasn't sleeping or eating.  So this time, I decided to stay up nights during our days off.  This is not easy to do....staying up until 4 am, but I am adjusting.   I'm usually up by noon, so the day is not a total lost.
This Witch wall hanging is almost done and I have a couple of Happy Campers that are ready to be finished as well.
I can see me pulling out the sewing machine soon and sewing til early dawn.  I'm surprised that I am enjoying this new night life of sewing and posting.  The job?.....well, I'm still adjusting to the long hours, but at least I'm not as sore as I was the first two weeks.  I might finish this winter standing on my own two feet with a nice selection of new items for Etsy!  Whoo-Hoo!
Happy Quilting!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Welcome to Amazon (Coffeyville, KS)

Alrighty then!  We made it through our first full week of Amazon. AND we can still move!  What's an even bigger surprise is that our muscles are not as sore as we thought they would be at the end of our first full week.  I am feeling some muscles, but nothing major....whew!  Switching to night work and sleeping during the day only took me two days of adjustment.  I was dead by the end of our second night.  I'm pretty sure I would have slept through a cannon being fired.  After that it was just a matter of dealing with tired sore muscles and hurting feet on the last two nights.
Let's do some exploring
I'm still not looking forward to working those 10 hour nights, but our new co-workers and their great attitudes make the nights go fast.
His Royal Highness has his throne
Even our cats are getting use to our new schedule as long as they get fed and get to spend some time outdoors.  Especially for Dusty.  He loves sitting outside.  We started tethering him with a 25 ft light weight cable and we could not ask for a happier cat.  We ask him if he is ready to come in and he lets us know by jumping into the chair while 'meowing' his 'no way!'.

On The Cutting Board
See - I am getting some sewing done on a few projects.  Setting them up ahead of time worked out well.  All I need to do is  pull out a project and start sewing.  I'm almost done with this witch.  She is now layered and being quilted.
I want to try making my owl mug rugs again.  I have re-designed the body a little.  I'm working on the eyes now.  There are four layers to the eyes so I thought this might work a little better.  Fuse and sew one layer at a time.  Easier on my fingers, that is for sure!
Of course, I am working on some new Happy Campers.  Here are two of them.  I did the paradise birds a little different this time and I plan to add a window box filled with flowers.
This is a new design.  I found the lotus design in the tattoo website.  I'm already thinking about using the same lotus design in a different setting.  
I don't have a lot to say.  I just wanted to let you know that we are doing well and even though our jobs are physically demanding, it has also been a little rewarding.  Nothing like getting paid for exercising with plenty of walking, lifting, pushing, and squatting.  The squats are killing me!  LOL!  We should be in good shape by the end of this year.

Well, it is time for bed.  It is only 2 am, but I should try to get a little extra sleep on our days off.  I will post this tomorrow morning.

Plus, I will have plenty of time tomorrow to do some more quilting...
Happy Quilting!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Moved to Kansas (Coffeyville, KS)

We said our good-byes to Hot Springs, SD on September 2.  We found Hot Springs to be a unique and tranquil town.  We will miss our new friends and many of the friendly locals.  

I wanted to share a photo of the Hot Springs Library.  Isn't it gorgeous?  The library allowed us to sign up for a lending card since we were doing seasonal work for USACE and they also offered free WiFi.  I loved visiting and wandering around to look at the log home structure as well as being surrounded by books.  A real book lover's haven!  The back side in the main area has floor-to-ceiling windows with plenty of comfortable sitting areas.  Very inviting.  I found out on my last visit that a group of women would meet on Friday morning to work on a variety of hand made items.  I wish I had learned about this group earlier.  It would have been fun to join them for a couple of sessions.
Another thing I waited too long to do was to stop by Ace Hardware to see Fall River Fibers.  I had read about a spinner/weaver - Terry Slagel in the Country Register.  Every time we drove by, I thought about how I needed to stop in to see her shop at the back of the hardware store along with the basement area where a variety of classes are held or people can use the area to work on their projects.
photo from Fall Rivers Fiber
I was lucky to meet Terry on one of our last days in Hot Springs.  She was happy to show me around her shop and basement.  She spent time explaining to me about collecting bison hair and what spinners did with the bison hair.  She told me about one fiber/yarn maker and showed me some of her items.  I also have the bison fiber links:  About the fiber artist and her products.  I even got a chance to feel and squeeze a ready-to-be-spun ball of bison hair mixed with 85% alpaca.  It was very soft.  I was tempted to buy it except I did not have a clue of what I would do with it.  If we make it back this way, I hope to have an idea of a way to incorporate it into one of my projects.  I feel a fiber art project in the making.  So, if you happen to be in Hot Springs, SD make sure you stop by Ace Hardware and walk to the back to visit with Terry and her shop.  Also, don't forget the friendly quilt shop - HeartSong Quilts!

It took us four days to get to Kansas.  The weather was decent with blue skies and no rain.  Thanks to one ranger's suggestion, we stayed at a couple of USACE campgrounds.
On the road
We were a little envious of the campground hosts because of their shady spots and lovely locations, but they also had 100+ sites and too many day-use areas to maintain.  I bet they were very busy during the summer between campers, fishermen, and boaters.
A short walk from our site in Nebraska
I preferred being the camper to being the host.  We and the cats enjoyed all the campgrounds along the way.  You can't beat the views!  All our sites were large, shady, and close to the water.  The Corp of Engineers do an excellent job of building nice campgrounds.
our second site in Kansas
We're in Kansas Now, Toto!
We settled into our new site last week.  The campground management is working with Amazon to make our stay here a little more pleasant by assigning alike shift workers together.  So all our neighbors work the same night shift as us.  Yep, we are working from 5 pm to 4 am.  I'm not sure how much sleep I will get since I'm not use to sleeping during the day...not even a cat nap...hmmm.
We started work this week.  Since we are starting with orientation, safety, and training, we are only working 5 hours a night.  Not bad, but I was feeling my feet and legs when we came home.  I'm feeling fine this morning - no soreness - yet.  I definitely plan to keep my yoga schedule.  My muscles were very stiff and the stretching felt very good this morning.  We are getting a lot of advice and warnings from experienced employees on how to survive our first 40 hour week.  One of my friends has a motto: One Day At A Time.  I think I will take it one hour at a time with this job!

Our WiFi is very spotty here which is our biggest disappointment right now.  We thought being in town would give us a stronger signal and that is with four different broadband sources to choose from.  I will try to post when I can.

Cozy Mystery Readers
Before I close, I thought I would share this website I found. is an excellent source of every kind of cozy mystery that has been published as well as a list of soon-to-be-released.  I can tell this website is a real labor of love.  I usually browse through Amazon's suggestions, but I find this site to be more organized.  Not only can you search alphabetically, you can search by theme, country, hobbies, holidays with descriptions and links to Amazon.

I have been searching by theme for something from the British-English Cozy section.  I had seen M.C. Beaton's books in a store, but there were so many that I could not pick just one, so I decided to wait.  Now that I have this list, I can start a whole new series!  Well, after I finish the Sheriff Longmire series which isn't included in this website, but J.A. Jance is listed.  The website owner says she is more than happy to add suggestions from other readers, so if you don't see your favorite cozy mystery author just let her know.

Even Jan Karon is included in the list just because "Her Mitford series is very cozy, but isn't a mystery series" according to the description.  I believe I will be spending quite a bit of time looking through this site when I am able to enjoy the internet.  Oh, and I am getting a little sewing done every day.  I'll try to post a few project photos next time...
Happy Quilting!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Winter Is Coming (Box Elder, SD)

I have been neglecting my blog...actually both blogs lately.  I think about them often and of my blogging friends, but I keep finding reasons not to be online.  It's a beautiful day and the sunshine is calling.  Soon it'll be cold and dreary so I must enjoy these warm dry days while I can, right?  Our cats agree especially Squirrel and Dusty.  They can spend all day outside.  But, that's not my only excuse.  I have done a lot of reading and listening to books this summer.
The Book of Life: All Souls, Book 3

The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness is the third book in the All Souls Trilogy.  I have waited a long time for this book.  When I saw the publishing date for the third book, I decided to listen to the first two (A Discovery of Witches and Shadow of the Night) again.  I'm glad I did.  There is so much detail in Deborah's stories that I had forgotten quite a bit of the important hints that become very crucial in the last book.

If you like reading about vampires, witches, and daemons with a different twist then you will enjoy this fantasy search for a special alchemy book that holds the secrets that links all four beings or creatures.  My ears were plugged in constantly wondering what they would find in "Ashmore 782" and how the book would change them in the end.  Just to be clear....I am not a fan of most vampire books like the "Twilight" series.  I did read three of Anne Rice's Lestat series and the Mayfair Witches series when they were first published.

Deborah's story addresses deeper questions like how the creatures came to be and were they a dying breed.  There's plenty of our history mingled into the story along with taking a more science researcher's view of alchemy and the different creatures' DNA.  She also addresses how women/witches have fought and evolved their images over the centuries.  There is also the forbidden love between a witch - Diana and a vampire - Matthew, the support of both their families and friends.  The details are quite lengthy at times, but this just gives more dimension to the characters.   In all three books, the characters do a lot of traveling between Europe and the U.S., as well as, time-walking or as we know it time travel.

My favorite characters were not the main ones.  One was Matthew's nephew and vampire, Gallowglass is a Scotsman with a good sense for comic relief during stressful moment and good timing when he was needed at the most crucial moment.  I would love to hear his story someday.  Another favorite character was actually a house.  Diana's aunt lived in the old family Bishop home filled with family ghosts, of course.  It was the old house known as the Bishop House that had a mind of its own and was quite funny at times in the first book.  Closing doors, tossing items at people, or building a new room when it knew there was a guest arriving.  It always cracked me up when someone living there would ask "Are we expecting a guest because the house just added a new room.".  I was a little disappointed that the Bishop house wasn't quite itself in the third book.  It did manage to drive Diana's aunt crazy by playing Fleetwood Mac tunes all day.  Still, I loved spending my summer in Diana and Matthew's world.  I plan to listen to them again.  Links to Audio Version

The House at RivertonThe House at Riverton  by Kate Morton  If you like Downton Abbey, you will probably enjoy this book.  Except instead of the hearing the story from a family member, we see their life through the eyes and memories of a young House Maid and later Lady's Maid, Grace.  The story starts out with a movie scene script that leads us to 98 year old Grace being asked to remember that fatal night in 1924 when a young poet decides to kill himself in front of two sisters during a summer party.  A young American hopes to find out and tell the truth of what happened that fatal night.  Grace is the last living soul left to tell the story.  So, begins Grace's walk down memory lane back to 1914 when she first started working for and living among the rich with all their secrets, disappointments, and dreams.

I suggest reading this one.  I liked listening to the English narrator and found her quite relaxing to listen to, but she cannot do an American accent and heaven forbid when she tries to sound like a Texan!  They sounded like snobs with long drawn out vowels.  I would have preferred her English accent to her Texas accent since the story is being told by Grace.  Why not leave it sounding like Grace telling the story?  

I plan to read not listen to more books by Kate Morton.  I thoroughly enjoyed the story, the mystery, and the surprise twists that I did not see coming at the end.  Link to Audio version 

 Game of Thrones  Stark Family words:  "Winter is Coming".  "No One is Safe!" should be George R. R. Martin's words and I mean NO ONE!  I have never read a book or books where the main characters are just as likely to die as the faithful sidekick.  I have to admit that knowing this had me on pins and needles, often hyperventilating while flipping pages as fast as my eyes would allow me to read.  I worried throughout all five books for all my favorite characters.  Sad to say that quite a few are gone.  Curse George's Pen!  The worse part is that this is not the end of the series.  There are two more books to go, but I am ready for a break.  This will give me some time to get my blood pressure down again!

So, about the books.  There are so many characters in this series that I'm happy to say there is a family chronicle for each House.  There are four top families: King Robert's House Baratheon, House Stark, House Lannister, and House Targaryen with many, many more.  It can be confusing at time and hard to keep the characters/family/country straight, so I did refer to this section quite often.

This is a fantasy set in times of medieval Kings, Lords, Ladies in Waiting, and Knights on quests.  It is Camelot's dark side...a very dark side filled with many unusual creatures and people like skin-walkers, Wizards, dragons, huge wolves known as direwolves, and then there are the walking dead - the Others who come with the cold of winter.   There is a lot of fighting, battles, 'off with his/her head' moments, and well, it can be a little bloody at times, but not as graphic as the HBO series.  Could be that my imagination doesn't get as graphic and yet, I could visualize, smell, and feel the moment thanks to George's wonderful descriptions of how a room was designed and decorated or what and how food was being served or someone's clothing.

I really liked the first three books.  I found the last two books harder to read.  Part of the reason was the loss of some of the characters.  The last two books were actually one book and had been split by characters instead of by time.  From the very first book, each chapter is written in a character's view which is great except that almost every chapter ended in a cliff-hanger.  Was the character still alive?  What or who did he/she see?  So, many of my favorite characters were not in the fourth book and that left me wondering what had happened to them.  Every once in awhile, there would be a hint or rumor of what was happening to a character, but nothing confirmed.  Talk about tossing us a crumb once in awhile to keep our interest so you cannot skip #4 no matter how frustrating.  Reading #5 wasn't much better.  It felt like the characters were floundering around or maybe I'm just not happy with what is happening.  I can only hope that George will take a little pity on his fans and let some of the characters live or finish more quests or finally have a few reunions or get rid of someone we all despise.....

On The Cutting Board
I'm working on more Happy Campers.  I decided to make a pile of ready to embroider sets for this winter.  Setting up the right fabrics and designs take time, not to mention, a lot of space.  For the past week, I have had piles of fabrics spread out across our bed with the kitchen setup as the ironing station, a chair filled with old and new designs, and the dining table became the scattered thoughts' area or design center with all sorts of papers, light box......yea, the list goes on and on....
Here are four I started to work on and then decided that I should just work on cutting out more campers and worry about embroidering them later.
I have lost count as to how many I have prepped like the ones above.  I probably have close to twenty ready for this winter.  Oh, I also have a few wall hangings, but only one quilt to work on during the winter.   I heard people are already working 50 hour weeks, so I'll be amazed if I get through most of my planned projects before January.  Although, I have found that the more stressed I am, the more I sew.  I might run out of projects instead....well, I can dream, can't I?  :)
A couple of postings ago, I showed a picture of eight finished Happy Campers.  Well, I'm down to six.  Yep, I sold two without listing them.  That was a good feeling since I have not been working very hard to get people to view my shop lately.  I just hope this luck holds out when I return in January.

Okay, back to prepping or maybe I should decide on another quilt or two...hmmm
Happy Quilting!

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