Embroidery machine Fun and Frustrations

November and December were busy months with my Brother PE500 Embroidery machine. I had a great time working with the “in the hoop” ornaments, and decided to try some Free Standing Lace.

I have a “larger hoop” that I was given to try.  It is re-positionable on my machine. Using it, I can hoop a larger piece of stabilizer and then “shift” the hoop, and get multiple 4×4 designs stitched out, without re-hooping.  It is from Embroidex and was purchased on Amazon.

It is perfect for saving on stabilizer when working with Free Standing Lace (FSL).  At our Embroidery Club, one of the ladies also showed how she cut a “larger” piece of stabilizer than needed, and “re-hooped” it to maximize the number of designs she was able to stitch out.  4 of my friends had made hundreds of FSL ornaments for a Christmas Tree for a Hospice Charity fundraiser, so I took their advice.

Multiple hoopings of stabilizer in the expanded hoop

The photo above shows how the “re-hooping” worked out.  I certainly saved stabilizer.  This hooping has VILENE (water soluble) on the bottom, and water soluble clear on top.

Many of my free standing lace designs are 10,000 stitches or more for a 4×4 piece.  I was  working on a bell, and snapped a picture of the screen.

Lots of stitches for 1 ornament

8 ornaments done

I was really pleased with these ornaments and I loved doing them in gold thread.  It is hard to tell the back from the front with most of these.  They were “drying” after removing the water soluble stabilizer.

I thought I would switch threads for a bit and changed to a metallic.  What a disaster. Thread breaks and jams! My own fault for doing it without a thread stand and a metallic embroidery needle.   My machine has never jammed to this degree.  I was convinced it was ruined.  I honestly thought I had broken something “inside”, and the nearest repair shop is almost 100 miles away, and it costs $150 just to walk in the door.  I wasn’t willing to spend that for a machine that I won, that is worth less than $500 and have used for 5 years.  So, my dear husband said he would “try to fix it”.  (He is an electronics and mechanical genius, so I had nothing to lose).

Investigating the inner workings

It took him about 3 minutes to figure out where all the screws come out and all the “plastic snap clips” were to get the entire outer cover off of the machine.  Then, of course, he had to study the inner workings.  At this point, I was having a little anxiety about the whole “disassembly”.

Looking for the Jam

The wheel on the side of the machine was totally jammed, so he started looking for that jam and what needed to get “unstuck”.  While he was deep into the machine, he had NO idea I snapped a few photos.  He said the machine was “surprisingly clean” for one that has never been serviced. I think that is the nature of embroidery only machines…not collecting lint from the feed dogs, because they don’t have any.

Digging out the jammed thread

Lots of pulling and tugging on bits of thread to get the jam out.  Shocking amount of thread stuck inside the machine.

Working on the problem

What a gift my dear husband is.  He is a man of many talents and is fearless about taking things apart.  Of course, I watched and handed screwdrivers and tweezers (even my really good ones) to him while he worked on my machine. And I know how he works…screws everywhere, so I gave him a screw storage facility!

 

The tangled web

All that thread was caught up in the take up lever area, stuck around a place it should not be.  Now, some of it may have been there a while (the red thread), but that big blob of gold …that was all the metallic thread.  I was certain I had “stripped” those stupid plastic gears inside of the machine, but once it was all back together again, we did some testing and once “I” got the needle in properly (not the first try…..blood pressure boiling…..) it stitched out a test letter!!  SUCCESS!!!  (He teases me because he thinks I don’t trust his mechanical skills!!)

Imagine, he did this for me on Christmas Eve, while the rest of the family was out at a party and I was working to finish up 3 gifts.  It really was a gift to me that he was able to fix it.  I have mentioned many times that I have “hoop envy” and want a “bigger machine” but honestly, I wasn’t quite ready to BUY one.  So; I am very please it is back together.

Once all the family gatherings were over, and the holiday excitement wound down, I gave the machine a “real test”.  I stitched a couple of towels for a gift and the machine worked as anticipated!

First run after the repair

The cute designs are from Oh My Crafty Supplies –  Farm hen design on white towel and  Farm Rooster design on the black towel .   I added the chicken wire fabric at the bottom of the towel and for a loop.  I use “vilene” in the hoop, float the towel and pin it on top of the vilene and run a basting stitch to secure in place.  I use a water soluble topper (clear) on top.  I stitched the farm rooster TWICE because I think with the black towel, it needed more thread laid down.  I love the way they turned out.  I’ve been saving the chicken wire fabric for months to use with these designs and towels.  (My friends voted NO ruffle, so I made a band of fabric).  Getting ready to “gift them” this week.

So; all in all a great time with the Brother PE500 embroidery machine.  Frustrations and learning curve are part of the process.  My level of trust in the hubby’s mechanical skills went up again!  My friends that were over last week were calling him a superhero for fixing that machine!! HE IS !!!

 

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Airplanes and Ships

December was a busy month for us with hobbies, family and travel. The month just “flew by”.  This has turned into a “multi-modal” post!  Having been retired for over 6 years from the “transportation industry”, I love using those old “work phrases”….

Between Train club weekends, I had 2 workshops for 2nd Time Around, played host with my Queen Bees and worked on the final assembly of the Carolina Hurricane Quilt, got a 10 1/2 mile bike ride in with my daughter & granddaughter.

I started the month of December at the Train Club with the 2nd weekend of the open house season, and followed it up with a trip to the Ocean Waves Quilt Guild meeting for the annual holiday luncheon, and another gathering of the Queen Bees for our Christmas luncheon and fun gift exchange.  Sadly in between, I was squeezing in trips to see a dear friend in her last days of hospice care, and got there as often as I was able.  No regrets, I did the best I could and hoped it brought her some cheer. I was blessed to be asked to help contact my pastor for the family, and my friend as well.  Somewhere in between all this, we managed to get the Christmas tree out of the closet and assembled, and some of the lights put on.

Hubby and I were at Philadelphia Int’l Airport waiting on our flight to Florida when we saw Air Force One land. Here is a quick video I shot – Air Force One at Philadelphia .  No matter which President is in office, seeing that plane land is always an awesome sight!  (And I worked in an industry where I saw giant cargo planes land all the time, and had Air Force One on our ramp on many occasions). I just think it is a beautiful sight.  The President was in Philadelphia for the Army – Navy game.  We made sure to arrive at the airport early, so we would not get caught up in the predicted traffic snarl that accompanies any US President when he travels to a city.

Heading to Ft Lauderdale to go on a cruise in December was a lot of fun (but a crazy idea given our calendar, but a much needed respite).  We arrived on Saturday, December 8, and sailed on the lovely Regal Princess on Sunday Dec 9. We had a beautiful mini-suite on board this ship.

Princess Cruise Ship - Regal Caribe 330

Regal Princess C330

The welcome aboard glass of champagne is always a pleasant greeting!

Welcome aboard

Of course, I have a full album of photos of the trip, and you are welcome to browse through them. Regal Princess Cruise photos .  I won’t bore you with them here, but suffice to say, I took a lot of photos.  Our week on the ship was lovely, and this ship is one of the ships using the new Medallion instead of the cruise card. It was an interesting, relaxing week.   I certainly enjoyed just being at sea, taking great walks on the ship, eating endless amounts of food and desserts! We finished out the week with an airboat ride in the Florida everglades before we flew home.  Like I said, multi- modal kind of week.

We got home 1 week and a day before Christmas, and ran thru the house getting the tree decorated, the other decorations up, and the lights out on the porch before the grandchildren arrived. We got home Sunday, and they arrived on Friday and let me tell you, we were zooming around getting ready, along with unpacking and a weeks worth of washing to do!

There is lots more to the December story, but I am out of time today!  Stay tuned….I have 20 minutes to get ready for another Ocean Waves Quilt Guild meeting before I race out the door.  Happy New Year.

 

 

December’s Blur of trains and bikes

December was a BLUR ~!!~  I realised this week that I have not put up a blog post for the entire month of December, and that January was starting off slowly too!  My month has been busy with so many activities.  Looking back, my last post was on November 25th.  We went FULL STEAM AHEAD with the DelMarVa Model Railroad Club’s 33rd Annual Open House. Yes, it is still going on!  In fact, I will be at the club today, Jan 6 and next weekend, Jan 12 & 13th, working the front counter, answering questions and selling raffle tickets.  Details below.

                                            33rd Annual Open House Delmarva Model RR Club

This open house season has been one of the busiest in recent years.  Yesterday there were 837 visitors and a RECORD number of raffle tickets sold.  Hopefully many folks will come out today, in spite of 2 very important football games for local fans.  The Baltimore Ravens are in the playoffs at 1 pm, and I believe the Philadelphia Eagles play at 4:40 pm (after we close!).   It was fun to see 4 of my Ocean Waves Quilt Guild friends at the train club yesterday. I always share the brochure with my friends at the Guild, and they brought the hubbies out to see the trains.  I hope they had some fun too!

I played “hooky” on one open house date, December 1st.  I had a meeting at church, and followed it up with a great bike ride. The weather was a GIFT!!  Thankfully there were enough volunteers to “man the door” at the train club.

Dessert tour bike ride

 

The town of Milford Delaware was having a “Downtown Dessert Tour” and so the local bike shop, LIFECYCLE of Milford DE sponsored a ride, and it was lead by my daughter Heather. She had her BURLEY trailer on the back of her bike, and used it as a “trunk” for our purchases.  We burnt some calories before we stopped at the last bakery and made our purchases, and got our cards stamped.  Jenn, one of the owners of LifeCycle was giving FREE pedi-cab rides all over town during the Dessert Tour.  I love the sense of community that she is building with other small business owners in Downtown Milford, Delaware.

Downtown Dessert Tour Milford DE

I had the BEST tiramisu I have ever eaten at a place called “My Sister’s Fault”, in Milford De.

Tiramisu at My Sister's Fault Milford

Now, you know why I needed to pedal before eating!  I had lunch also, but I could not resist a bite before the lunch was ready!  This shop is in a little side street in downtown Milford DE, open only a few days a week, but unbelievable food, both sweet and savory. A great lunch stop on Friday-Sunday each week.  Check out the menu etc on the website – My Sister’s Fault  .

Midweek, following the Dessert Tour, I was shocked to get a call from Jenn at Lifecycle to tell me my name was drawn for one of the Dessert Tour prizes!  Turns out, I won the BIG prize – a year’s worth of coffee – at Dolce’ Bakery and Coffee Shop of Milford.  They are located on Walnut Street downtown and are a “favorite” stop after a bike ride in town for myself and my daughter and granddaughter.  Jennifer, the owner, was kind enough to let me transfer the YEAR’s worth of coffee card to my daughter Heather, who lives in town.  When I inquired if she would permit the transfer she was delighted to do that for me, and turns out, they are great friends!   If you are in Milford or need to add a place for a wonderful cup of coffee and a pastry or breakfast sandwich, do stop in at Dolce Bakery and Coffee Shop .  We picked up the card this week and I enjoyed the first “free” cup before handing it off to her for the rest of the year.  She will put it to good use!

Busy day ahead today, but wanted to get a quick post in, and wish everyone a Happy New Year.  More coming in the next day or so.  By the way, if you have been following along on the Carolina Hurricane Quilt Project, go check out Carole’s post today for an update – Carolina Hurricane Quilt Update  and see how you can get involved.

What ever you are doing, take time to take care of yourself today. Take a walk, eat well, and be kind are words of advice that I take to heart. The benefits will reward you.  (Eat well = quality food!) (Yes, eat well = dessert!!)

33rd Annual Open House

Model trains everywhere!  My husband is an model train enthusiast and works with HO scale trains.  He belongs to the DelMarVa Model Railroad Club located on the “state line” in Delmar Delaware.  Every year, the club opens its doors to the public on 4 weekends for their annual Open House.  Visitors come to view the train displays, and see the various scales of trains running.  The club has 8000 square feet of train displays, so much more than the home hobbyist can manage.  All scales are represented, and there seems to be “something for everyone”.

I typically spend those four weekends at the front door, greeting visitors and handling the sales of raffle tickets for those inclined to purchase them.  Each year there are 3 terrific train sets and 3 winners.  This year they have added 3 additional prizes, with tickets for 4 to the Strasburg Railroad.

Yesterday was the first day for the 33rd season.  There were 496 visitors. While not a “record setting number”, it was a significant amount, considering it was pouring rain all afternoon.  The club will be open to visitors on Sunday, Nov 25, 2018 from 12 noon until 4 pm, and again on Saturday, Dec 1st (11 am – 4 pm) and Sunday Dec 2nd (12 noon to 4pm).  After New Years there are 2 more weekends, Jan 5 & 6, and Jan 12 & 13 2019.

                                               33rd Annual Open House Delmarva Model RR Club

The club is located at 103 E. State Street in Delmar DE 19940, on the second floor of Camelot Hall.  There is plenty of free parking behind St Stephens UM Church.

I am always interested in how people hear about the Open House, as we have many 1st time visitors every year.  Social media is one way, and word of mouth is another way.  With a very small advertising budget, the word seems to spread.  Yesterday there were visitors from all over the mid-Atlantic. We have a lot of “repeat” visitors, some who attend EACH weekend.  Because there is so much to see, it is hard to take it all in at once.  They often say they see something new with each visit.  Since the admission is free, why not?

I thought I would share a few photo’s with you in the event you are unable to visit!

This is a picture of some “new this year” buildings on the O Scale layout –

new buildings on the O scale layout

On the HO layout one of our new members has built a train of double stack cars.  He had to make improvements to the many tunnel portals on the layout in order for his “high loads” to traverse the many “rail miles” and not hit a tunnel roof !

Waterfall and bridge on HO Layout

The HO layout is the most extensive layout at the club.  It is an “OPERATIONS” layout with many industries.  Every car on the layout has a purpose and that is identified by the “car card” and “weigh bill systems” in place. The HO layout members have an Operating Session once a month, and folks come from Baltimore Maryland and Philadelphia PA  to participate.  It takes a minimum of 15 operators to have a “good session”.  They operate a “fast clock”, and the dispatcher issues train orders, etc. The HO layout is signalled and has track detection and operates with DCC (Digital Command and Control) .

Signals are working

Coke ovens on the HO layout

There is something for “everyone” at the DelMarVa Model Railroad Club and whether you are a “serious model railroader” or a person who just likes to see the trains going “round & round”, it is a delight to see.

Do feel free to share this post with others who might be interested!  Find us on Facebook and like the page !

More information about the club, including membership information, can be found on the DelMarVa Model Railroad Club website .

 

Cat bites the hand that fed it… and Secret projects

I have been very quiet on my blog lately, because it is time for SECRET PROJECTS!!   I am writing this on Thanksgiving morning (Nov 22, 2018) in the USA, but will schedule it to post for “after dinner”.  Thanksgiving Day feasting will take place at my daughter’s home and we have a bit of a drive to get there today.  My SECRET PROJECTS are being delivered there today, which is why the delay in the post going live.  I like to gift before I show them on the blog!

I’ve been playing with my embroidery machine a lot lately.  It seems that I can manage the embroidery machine and changing threads pretty well, 6 weeks post-op. My fingers are still pretty stiff, but moveable, and the surgery site is now healed nicely.

I have done some sewing, webbing together the quilt top for the My Carolina Home Hurricane Quilt Drive. Now I need to clean up the embroidery supplies, pack away the box of stabilizers and make room at my sewing machine to get the rows on that webbed top stitched.  My motivation will be delivering it with the backing fabric and the batting at my Queen Bees gathering on Tuesday!

Before I show you my SECRET PROJECTS, I want to share another story.

 We have 3 cats, one outside and 2 inside.  If you have read my blog for any length of time, you know about my cat Mittens….of the pet mosaic quilt.

20160820_224628

                           Sweet face Mittens

That sweet innocent face inspired the quilt below –

 (If you do a search on my blog you will find many posts about that project.  Here is just one –  Pet Mosaic piecing complete  )  

Mittens wins Viewer's Choice at Ocean Waves Quilt Guild Show

Mittens has chosen my husband to be “his person”, while Smokey has chosen me to be “his person”.  Our outdoor cat is their mother, and she has chosen us both.  She really like my husband “better” than me.  

 Anyway, here is the story.  Hubby does floor exercises daily for his back, and Mittens likes to help him.  While he is on the floor stretching, Mittens loves to chase his shadow, get petted etc.  

Well, one day a little over 2 weeks ago, hubby stopped petting Mittens while he stretched, and had his head turned away. Mittens decided he wanted more attention and pounced, as cats will do.  Along with the pounce came a “love bite”…only this time, it was a BITE that broke the skin and punctured into his hand,  4 canines! Got the hubby’s attention, got Mittens some negative attention as a result! Hubby washed it off, and didn’t think much about it until 72 hours later when his hand got swollen, and red marks appeared.

 A trip to the doctor was already on the calendar, so he showed it to the doc at the appointment and was immediately put on antibiotics, and scheduled to return the following day.  By the next day, the swelling was worse, a red streak up the arm and the doctor took one look at it and sent him to the Emergency room for IV antibiotics.  Long story short, he spent 3 nights in the hospital, with IV antibiotics, the surgeon checking periodically to see if he might have to do his bit to clean out the hand etc. The hospital stay was followed by another 15 days of antibiotics.  Fortunately, he did not need the surgeon, and is on the mend!

 Moral of the story according to our family doctor – a cat bite is the WORST bite you can get.  He told us that we must come in to see him if it ever happens again, and get on antibiotics immediately!  Turns out, cats have bacteria on their teeth that gets “sealed in under the skin” when the teeth retract from the bite. The wound is considered a puncture wound, and no amount of washing & application of antibacterial cream will reach the bacteria.  Web MD has some really good information.  I read that before the visit to the doctor the first time, so I knew what was coming. 

So between recovery from my own surgery and dealing with hospitals for hubby, I have been able to spend time in my sewing room.  I do feel like I have given the embroidery machine a good workout.  Some secret projects will wait for after Christmas for the reveal, but others, you can see now.

I am enjoying what they call “in the hoop” projects.  With my little Brother PE500 and it’s maximum 4″x 4″ design space, I have found countless designs to stitch!  I love these little Gingerbread boys and girls –

Ginger boy and girl

I stitched them out on vinyl that I picked up on Sunday.  I also stitched out some on craft felt and I like them too! They were so much fun to stitch, and I thought they would be fun Christmas ornaments for this year for each of the grandkids.

A collection

I also had some fun stitching out other ornaments on white vinyl –

Ornaments on White

This is a first working with vinyl on the embroidery machine, and each time I played a bit with the stabilizers, toppers etc.  Overall, I had fun and I am pleased with the outcome.

I also thought I would take the Thanksgiving host a few dishtowels.

Enjoy life one slice at a time

Save room for Dessert

Bake the world a better place

These terry towels I picked up last winter, and have been “waiting” for the right time.  I have now run through about half of my supply, but have a few left waiting to be used for other projects.

Thanks for taking the time to read my posts and for taking the time to comment.

I hope you have a lovely holiday weekend!

Carolina Hurricane Quilts – Project Update and challenge

Many of my regular readers know that my blogging friend Carole Carter / From My Carolina Home is running a “block drive” for construction of Carolina Hurricane Quilts.

If you go to her blog post today, Carolina Hurricane Quilts , there is information about the number of blocks she needs, and the shipping address.  She has a pattern available in a PDF that she would like you to use, and discusses color/contrast/neutrals.  When you finish reading my post, pop over and visit Carole’s post.

Carole has also issued a challenge to groups and guilds and individuals in her post today. She is asking groups, guilds and individuals to consider making an entire quilt, and sending them directly to the distribution address she listed.

The need is vast, and knowing quilters, the response will be great.

My friends from Ocean Waves Quilt Guild, Lewes DE who are part of the Queen Bees got together at our October bee gathering, and we made a lot of blocks.  I had more “ready to make” than I could possibly sew at that bee, and off and on over the last 2 weeks I have completed over 30 blocks.  Carole asked since we had so many, could we assemble our blocks into a top. I am waiting on some promised blocks to come to me next week, then I will put those blocks together, and send a top to Carole.

Carolina Hurricane Quilts

Queen Bees blocks on the design wall

 

So quilters – here is the challenge — Can you make a few blocks using your scrap fabrics?  If so, then sew!  And mail to Carole!

I posted about this project in late September and I know that others have already got blocks ready to mail! Go to Caroles blog for the address!

Can you get together with a small group of friends and make a whole quilt?   There is a huge need. For more details please go  Read Caroles Blog Post .

She has names of quilt shops in North Carolina who are drop off points, and also addresses for the shipping of completed quilts.  There are so many ways to help, and knowing my readers, there will be more quilts in the mail and blocks on the way soon!

Thanks!

 

Quilting in the 21st Century

I went to a “newcomers” orientation with Ocean Waves Quilt Guild on Monday. I’m a “member of the board” and was asked to come and talk about 3 or 4 different activities within the guild, including “Second Time Around”.  If you are a new follower, let me explain — My committee receives fabric and quilting notions from donors and we “make it pretty again” by pressing, trimming, folding and “selling” back to the members of the guild the day of our monthly meeting.  Funds we raise support our guild and enable us to have speakers from around the country.

When I get donations, sometimes I have to ask others “what” an item is or how it is used.  This is because I didn’t have an association with the hobby in the “previous” century, and I am aware that the hobby has changed dramatically since the 1970’s, the 1930’s and centuries prior.   My quilting “journey” began in 2008, and I learned to cut with a rotary cutter, learned how to cut strips with the June Tailor slotted ruler.  Some tools I see, I honestly haven’t experienced, yet my long departed grandmother would know exactly how to use them.  There is a resurgence in the quilting world to use vintage sewing machines, and to do hand work.  I learned at my grandmother’s knee how to thread her black Singer sewing machine, and she taught me the basics of sewing buttons on etc.  I learned this year how to sew a button on using my Janome.  Guess which way I like to attach buttons??

What was neat at the newcomers orientation is the WIDE variety of methods members are using in quiltmaking.  Some are employing centuries old methods, like “needle turn applique”  and “English Paper Piecing” while others are happy to work on t-shirt quilts and use those modern quilt kits that come with jelly rolls, and fat quarters and pre-cut 5 and 10 inch squares.  It was wonderful to see an entirely hand pieced project, and beautifully long armed projects too.  It was also wonderful to see a “first quilt”, recently made.  We all encouraged that new quilter to enter her project in our April 2019 quilt show.

My blog post yesterday about “machine binding” may have made a long time quilter gasp in horror that I would dare to enter a quilt in a show with a machine binding.  I’m sure much the same way as the quilter who had always made her own templates out of paper or cardstock when they stores started to carry that plastic template material, or when “gasp” rotary cutters and rulers came into being, or when the Accu Quilt Die cutting machines hit the markets.  Today, you can buy kits with everything pre-cut, with applique pieces digitally cut with “fusible” (gasp) on the back.  

Yes, quilting is here, in the second decade of the 21st century, with more technology that some might want, and technology that some of us crave.  I am the first to try a new gadget or tool.  I am also the one who says “my brain is not ready for another computer program to learn”.

My husband and I have two very different hobbies, yet they both are growing in leaps and bounds in the 21st century. He was dismayed yesterday when he read a comment on a group he belongs to about model railroading. The comment was very negative to the person who posted about finding a way to “cut out his building parts” using a Brother Scan N Cut machine.  The person writing the comment berated the man for not being a “real modeler” and that he “should be cutting those window out with an exacto blade etc…   My reaction was something akin to “B.S.”…..”that’s like telling a quilter that she didn’t make a “real” quilt, because she sent it out to be long armed, or because she didn’t “hand quilt” the quilt. Maybe others think the same of me because I use machine binding.

Personally, I think there is enough “room” in the hobby for all methods, and all tools and all INTERESTS.  My interests lie more in getting “finished” than languishing over a project for years and years.  I like “machine binding” and “machine embroidery” and “rotary cutting” and “fusible, machine applique”.  No, I don’t “quilt by check” but I do machine quilt.  And I learned to quilt free hand on a long arm…1 quilt down, but not award winning quilting like some who quilt professionally. But, it’s done!  And I did it, and I take pride it what I have learned along the way.

I think there is room for all levels of interest in this diverse hobby.   I’m sure you have heard some speak negatively about a quilter who doesn’t do a particular task “the right way” etc .  Is your “right way” the “only way”?

Is there room in the hobby for that attitude?  I don’t think so.  I think we need to be kind, to be helpful when someone asks a questions and wants to learn and also that we learn to not be our own worst critics.

Try to remember, a hobby, defined by Merriam-Webster  is “a pursuit outside one’s regular occupation engaged in especially for relaxation”. Other definitions include – A hobby is an activity that you do in your spare time for fun . Retirement brings lots of spare time, and this grandma is having fun!

I’d love to know if you have been active in the hobby for a long time about the changes that have been made that you embrace, and those changes that you chose not to embrace and why not?  No judgements from me.   Just tell me how the hobby has changed during the time you have been part of it, and what you like or dislike.

Thanks for reading along!