Archive for May, 2013

Dog Bowl 2013

TheDog Bowl in Frankenmuth, Michigan

Hi! Scooter here. Mom’s napping because we went to the:

Dog Bowl

It is an event just for dogs and the people that drive them there. I’ve been going for a lot of my life every year starting with last year.

There are lots of people and lots of dogs. It is held in Frankenmuth, Michigan. And it was a really beautiful day, about 60 degrees out.

I did really well last year. This year I had a nutty in the car. I just got so excited I started barking. I rolled my eyes back in my head and jumped around and jumped out of the car several times in the parking lot because there were other dogs nearby. I love other dogs. Or I am afraid of them. I’m not sure which sometimes. Their people were afraid of me and they scooped up the little ones they could carry away because they probably thought I was mean or something. People with big dogs made them walk away from me.

We parked in a field. We had to walk from the car to the sidewalk. That took about 15 minutes because we had to start over every time I threw my body at another dog, which was a lot.  Mom was very patient and didn’t let me get away with anything.

Then we walked a long way to the actual Dog Bowl on the sidewalk with other dogs. Every time I pulled Mom’s arm out of the socket, I got a leash correction and we did an about-face. It was really crowded so sometimes we just got out of line, circled a tree and got in line behind somebody else and their dog.

By time we got the actual Dog Bowl (place, not dish) I was calming down. I stopped throwing myself at the other dogs and just leaned a little to sniff.

More things to see

Mom was more happy. Me too.  First stop was the play area. I sat and waited for Mom to open the door. Then I trotted right in politely.  I got to run around without the leash and meet all the other dogs. They smelled GREAT! I didn’t bark once. I fetched and chased, and peed on some of the plastic furniture because other dogs did before I got there and I thought that was OK. Mom yelled really loud. Now I know to hide so Mom can’t see me do that. I also tried to climb into a lady’s lap. She was very surprised. Mom apologized. Poor Mom. It’s not OK to try to climb onto the picnic table either. Mom shot me with the hose. (For “fun” not because I tried to get on the table.) She said I could go in the wading pool, but I didn’t want to. I got slimed by other dogs. It was way fun. And then we left.

We walked around all the booths past hundreds of dogs. I was VERY GOOD.

Painted PoodleWe met a lady with a painted poodle. You’ll want to click the picture to see her bigger. She was very strange, but very beautiful. I forgot her name.

Poodle and ScooterMom asked the lady if I could pose for a picture with her and I did. Mom said I looked like a typical male when a pretty girl goes by. I’m not sure what that means, but Mom giggled when she looked at the picture and I like hearing her giggle.

Later we saw her again with her purple friend who had red painted toe nails.

Painted Poodles

Mom said I shouldn’t worry because I will always be a blonde.

We walked around some more and saw other dogs. Mom said they were sheep.

SheepThey did shows with black and white dogs that ran at them and moved them around the big field that “regular” dogs like me were not allowed in said Mom. They are resting in the picture after being chased. I think they thought I was very handsome which is why they are all staring at me except the two in the back that are nearsighted.

Mom said we might go back tomorrow if her arm feels better and if I promise not to have a nutty. I’m getting kind of sleepy now so I’ll say so long. Or, “sew” long. (Quilting humor. I know who buys the kibble.) Love you, Mom.

Doggie Dash de LurePS: Mom took me back the next day (today) and I ran the Doggie Dash de Lure. It is French for “chase after black and white plastic tied to a wire on pulleys that looks a lot like a skunk but doesn’t smell.”  The announcer made fun of me because I loped. He called me a “gentle giant.” I had no idea what was going on. I ran at the very end and Mom and the lady tried to catch me but they couldn’t and then I escaped and then I went back on the track and tried to run it backwards.  In my second try (you get two) I was doing OK, but slow, until another dog thought it was his turn and he chased me so we both ran. (I think I won.)

Sweet P's Organic PetMore fun than that was a stop at Sweet P’s Organic Pet booth. We went their last year when I learned all about elk antlers. They are safe for dogs, taste great, clean my teeth, and don’t stain the carpet. I just can’t drop them on Mom’s feet because she doesn’t like that.

I met Sara Naragon who asks the elks to grow big fat antlers for me to chew. You can email her at That’s her in the picture. Please tell Sara that you heard about elk antlers from me, Scooter, and she’ll pick out extra nice ones for you too. (See mine on the ground there?)

We are home now. I need a nap.

May 25, 2013 at 5:50 pm 34 comments

Clothesline, Baskets, and a Scooter Video

Backyard 1-2

I’ve been dyeing clothesline again and totally having a blast. While I’m working to accumulate enough of a selection of “line” for my June 24 Fabric BOWLing workshop with the Lighthouse Quilters in Racine, WI, I do have some extras if you’re interested in stitching up some fabric bowls yourself.  Supplies are limited, so don’t wait to order.

New Clothesline!

Using my hand-dyed clothesline to make “fabric” bowls means you won’t be using any fabric, which I know sounds a little strange. I don’t have a good answer for that. Oh wait! I DO! Wrap some clothesline using my PowerWrapper, the only quilting tool you’re supposed to sit on.

ScooterPawsYes, you can see Scooter’s portable kennel in the yard up in the top picture. When he was in there, he was under the shade of the “underpants” tree. (I dyed some panties too.) Then I let him out so he could help. Oh, what a big help he was.

Since so many of you commented that you miss Scooter, here’s a video of what goes on here most days.

Last time I mentioned my love of containers. I am a huge fan of those aluminum frame baskets. I have a growing collection, but I’m looking for a smaller model that I can bring with me on short car trips. There is absolutely no room in the car to put things, at least things I can reach from the front passenger seat without pretending to be a contortionist. I think I’ve found something that will work! I just have to pick which fabric I like best.

Red? Purple? Red? Purple? (Why is this so hard!) Click on the one you like best and get one for yourself.

I gave a lecture in Sarnia, Ontario last week and had a wonderful time.  The guild president was commenting on how nice it was to see so many people come to the meeting. I was impressed too, so I attempted to take their picture. There was no way I could fit them all in, even after they all leaned to the center, so I did the next best thing.  You may want to pop a Dramamine before you press play, or just hold onto your chair. Not to worry; it’s over quickly.

SherryNagelBefore Sarnia I spent two days with the Sunbonnet Sue Quilting Club in Sequim, WA. Sherry Nagel, one of my “Freedom to Feather” students went all out and took one of the many designs she whipped up in class and then painted it with Liquitex’s Dynaflo paints then she quilted it!  What a great job!

This is SO COOL!  Seriously, in class we just draw feathers until our fingers fall off. I rarely get to see what students do with what they learned.

Finally, for people who lack friends or enemies, but like to cook and want virtual interaction, there is a web page you won’t want to miss. You can sign up for virtual compliments or insults, and very odd recipes emailed daily or weekly. I already get enough email, but it was fun to click and sample insults, compliments, and recipes. My sample insult was, “You’re nothing but a laughable wagonload of road kill!” (This is so true, and I’m just sick about it). My pretend compliment was, “You are a stellar instance of perfection!” (I feel much better already.) Thank goodness the recipe was just as phony. Who wants to make Pan-Fried Buttermilk?! Go have a look at:


See you next time!

Ami :)

May 14, 2013 at 10:12 am 52 comments

May Newsletter

I’m feeling random today.

I checked online to see if it was National Day of Randomness, and it wasn’t. I think that’s the way it should be. I mean, if we are supposed to be random on a particular day, doesn’t that defeat the purpose?

May 1st is National Lei Day — the flower necklaces from Hawaii. Took me a minute too. When I taught in Hawaii I was given several leis and I have to tell you they are amazing. At some point you have to put cut flowers in a vase on a table somewhere, but you can wear leis wherever you go.

I was also given a lei needle. It is 17.5″ long with a sharp point at one end with a crimp on the other end that reminds me of a crochet hook. It’s been threaded through the flannel that covers my design wall since 2004. It brings back happy memories every time I look at it. (You can click each picture below to see it larger if you are on the blog reading this.)


20130501-152442.jpgIn Honolulu it rained once every day (for about 4 minutes) and the temperature was perfect. It must have been 72 degrees all the time. I could live there. Easy. No, I still haven’t done anything with all the beautiful fabric I bought. It’s curing. I’m fine with that. It’s like money in the bank.

It got up in the 60’s here yesterday. The yard still squishes like a wet sponge so dying is out of the question until it dries out.

20130501-152507.jpgI swept off the deck last night and put up my dying table. I’m ready as soon as the weather cooperates. I have several pair of underpants (from the Yo-Yo Sisterhood of the Traveling Panties) to dye and about 2,000 feet of clothesline prepped and ready to go. Spring is good.


20130501-152528.jpg 20130501-153602.jpgThe deck was a mess, filled with leaves from last year. Sweeping was quite satisfying until I realized I didn’t really want to sweep them onto the grass where they would just blow back onto the deck. I wanted them bagged and gone. That meant picking them up—with my hands.

I wasn’t in the mood for getting dirty, plus there were creepy crawlies in there. How to get the leaves bagged without touching them?

20130501-153702.jpg 20130501-153721.jpg20130501-153627.jpgI duct-taped a hula hoop to the opening of an extra-large plastic bag to keep it open and pushed them in with the broom!

Mission accomplished.




I like containers: bags, tins, baskets, boxes….all of them! Here’s my short list.

20130501-153736.jpg1. There is something special about the Jumbo 2.5 gallon Hefty OneZips that drive me wild. They’re 14″ tall and 16″ tall and I have no idea what you’re supposed to use them for, but I can’t get enough of them. I use them for quilting projects and for hauling around quilt tops when I travel. They’re sturdy and they zip, and the zipper has a slider. Brilliant!

True confession: I’ve never purchased one. I’ve been recycling them from quilters who use them to protect their Priority: Alzheimer’s Quilts during shipping.



2. I have two favorite “pretty-to-look-at” tins: the Arnott’s Biscuits tin from Australia and the 1997 Baltimore Album Quilt Limited Edition tin from Milky Way are on the shelf in my office.x


20130501-153804.jpgI use an old Altoids tin as a sewing kit when I travel. Space in my carry-on is extremely limited and I have to bring something to sew when I travel, even if I never actually have time to sew anything. (Just knowing I could sew is very re-assuring.) Inside are my thimble, needle-puller (pinky finger tip from an old pair of yellow rubber gloves), needle threader, Thread Heaven, folding scissors, pins, needles, two colors of thread (wound on bobbins, wrapped with hair scrunchies), and an LED light for my index finger in case I want to annoy my seatmates on the plane at night as I sew. I’ve never done that, and I’m not even sure the light would work, but it fits in the tin.

3. I love Ikea. The first time I went to an Ikea store I spent four hours wandering around with my mouth hanging open and didn’t buy a single thing.

I’m over that now. I can still spend the better part of a day looking at all the cool stuff (family members have suggested a leash) but now I purchase.

20130501-153817.jpgI started teaching in my @Home Classroom because I could use the collapsible, round, pop-up-things called NOJE as personal thread collectors for each student. Sorry. Everything is named in Swedish at Ikea and most vowels have an umlaut which I can’t reproduce here—two little dots above the vowel.  NOJE are very cool. I bought them knowing that they were cool; I just didn’t know at the time what possible use I had for them. I enjoy buying “on spec.”

NOJE have been replaced by the less cool and somewhat stupid KUSINER  which I don’t like nearly as well even though they are the same shape. (Who needs the number?! Or, if a number were truly needed, why do they only go up to “three?!”)

I buy more GLIS nearly every time I visit Ikea because they could discontinue those some day and I don’t want to run out.

20130501-153832.jpg20130501-153842.jpgI use them to organize my scissor drawer (you will have to look carefully as my organizational skills are questionable at best) and to haul around the extra light bulb for my digital projector. No, I don’t know how to change the light bulb, I just haul it around. There are probably more uses for the boxes (the lids pop off and you can change them around), but I just haven’t thought of them yet.

By far one of the most ingenious Ikea designs is the zippered-bottom cloth organizer. My new personal favorites are the lightweight SKUBB, although there are several models. The kind I like now come in colors (purple, turquoise, and black) but my head almost exploded trying to pick out which was the most attractive color so I just bought white again.

Catch this: they unzip and collapse. I am not sure why, but they do.

If I ever wanted to drown in Swedish red tape I would ask permission to create a pattern so that we could all make these out of quilting fabric. I have laid awake at night constructing them in my semi-sleep.

Click here for the Swedish furniture name generator. Type in your name and see what kind of furniture you are. I can almost guarantee you will not come pre-assembled.

My favorite radio show is NPR’s weekly news quiz “Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me!” I mention that because I’m going to the cinicast tomorrow.  If I’m understanding correctly, I’ll be watching a live video of the taping of the show from New York City at my local movie theater. Or, rather, at my daughter’s local movie theater. We have attended three or four live tapings (in person) but I rarely listen to the show on the radio. It comes on Saturday morning and I usually forget. I started downloading the podcasts in 2006 and have quite a collection.

I listen to them at night when I go to sleep, unless I am mentally constructing a zipper-bottomed container of some sort. Sometimes I have to listen to the podcast three or four times as I keep falling asleep in the middle, often sooner. I know that sounds like a weak endorsement for my favorite radio show, but I’m sure that I laugh in my sleep.

To finish up my random newsletter for May, I leave you with three little videos.

As Marsha McCloskey and I were driving from Eugene, OR to Poulsbo, WA last week we stumbled upon a lilac festival. I was not well-behaved.


I am the queen of flat tires. I’ve gotten more than my fair share. Marsha and I had a doozey several hours after the lilac festival. Luckily we were a mile and a half from our destination so it was all part of the adventure.


The Alzheimer’s Art Quilt Initiative continues to thrive. You’ll soon be reading about our 15th grant award in a future AAQI blog. We can raise this money because the quilting community has been incredibly generous in its support of our efforts. The May online quilt auction offers 27 small format art quilts as we have so many times before. After more than 14,000 quilt donations one might think the magic is waning. Not so, my friends. The quilts this month will knock your socks off! Take the tour  or watch and share the video.


If you’re reading the newsletter as an email, please click the title, “May Newsletter” in blue. That will bring you to my blog. Either click on the blue words right at the top that say “Leave A Comment” or scroll down to the bottom of the blog post and add your comment there. Please don’t hit “reply” to this email. If you’re already here, please post a comment.  I’m curious to know if you liked the blog format.

Have a wonderful May and enjoy Paranormal Day on Friday.

Ami Simms

May 1, 2013 at 3:40 pm 194 comments

Ami Simms

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