Saturday, January 31, 2009
Molly stopped at the living room door, looking at the new cat but not particularly excited. She walked up slowly, no puffy tail or anything, and did a friendly "nose to nose" greeting, as if to say "Hi there, who are you?" My husband and I were holding our breath, because we were expecting her to throw a fit.
Stray Girl was the problem. She looked Molly in the eye and hissed, like "I'm taking over here!" Whereupon I scooped her up and took her back to the garage. I'm not having Molly terrorized or beaten up in her own house.
Perhaps next week, after the snip-snip, she won't be in the throes of hormone hell and will be friendlier. She's in season (probably the reason she was dumped) and we are going to have to listen to the "unrequited love blues" from the garage all weekend. Her routine is sleep, meow at the window, beg for food, rub ankles, sleep. Oh yes, and pull down my garage window curtain rod. Gotta fix that next week.
I hope her mood about other cats changes after she's spayed, because while we don't plan to keep her, fostering and placement would be easier without all-out feline war.
Thursday, January 29, 2009
I'm in a real pickle here. All the no-kill shelters are full to the brim and can't take the little calico stray. She got a clean bill of health from my vet this morning, and a set of vaccinations. I have tramped all over the neighborhood with her picture, but no one is claiming her. I even checked with three local vets to see if anyone had lost a cat. I can't figure out where she came from unless someone got tired of dealing with her and didn't want to pay to have her spayed, so they dumped her. And in my opinion, there's a special circle of hell for anyone who would do that.
She's too good a cat to end up a throwaway. She's affectionate, clean, well litter trained, playful, and mannered. She didn't even have a flea. She has definitely been in someone's house somewhere because she keeps mounting campaigns to get into the kitchen from the garage. She knows what's in there - a warm house!
My plan is to have her spayed so that with that expense out of the way and a current vaccination record, she would be an easy sell for adoption. She's on the surgery schedule for Monday, and after recuperation I will post her on Petfinder, on the local pet placement center website and in every local vet's and pet store's bulletin board. In the meantime, she can live in my backyard and the garage. I don't know what else to do.
I'm serious about asking if anyone wants a cat. If you're in the east Tennessee/north Georgia area, leave me a comment and we can talk. I want to find a loving home for her, and I'll deliver!
Monday, January 26, 2009
I was worried about leaving her running loose outside, and it's getting chilly tonight, so I put her in the garage with food and water bowls and a litter box (please, oh please, let her know about litter boxes!). In the morning I will canvass the neighborhood and see if she's local. If not, I have to decide what to do.
I know I can't keep her because my calico detests other cats and I really don't want another one. Ours is a handful. There is a no-kill rescue shelter in town run by an organization called CATS and I can call them if I can't find her owner. CATS stands for "Cats Are Totally Special" - OK, I admit I had a snicker over what lengths they went through to make their acronym spell CATS. Husband and I call it "Cats Are People Too".
Out in the garage, she is meowing so loudly I can here her all the way in the den. She surely has a mouth on her. I can't decide how old she is, partly because I'm used to looking at Molly, who is over 12 lb and definitely larger than the average cat. She might be full grown, but I doubt it. The thought crossed my mind that she might be about 6 months and just came in season for the first time, which would account for the big mouth. Oh, lordy, please not.
With the temperature dropping for the night, and rain predicted, I was incapable of just letting her meow out there, or tossing out some food for her. Now I have to figure out what to do. Sometimes a soft heart bites you on the butt.
Friday, January 23, 2009
They have also become expert escape artists. Being so small, they can slide under the fence at any area where the chain link doesn't meet the ground. Their escape spot was on the other side of the house, but recently, they have burrowed under this corner into the neighbor's yard. The property line for these two yards is in the middle of my back fence, so my yard abuts both properties and they share my back fence line.
Several Christmases ago, the Bark Brothers broke into my yard under the fence. I had to block an area with bricks to keep them out. Now, they're doing the same thing to my other neighbor, who added bricks there too. The owner had used some scrap wood to temporarily blockade the area, but these are practiced little sneakers and they defeated the barriers enough to slide under the fence and explore around in that back yard. I'm sure the poor little things are bored. My neighbor's husband passed away last summer, and he was always the one to give them attention.
Today, my husband walked outside to see them and found Sparkle in the neighbor's yard, acting pretty pleased with herself. Those neighbors weren't home either, and their back yard is fenced and locked, so she had the run of a whole new area where no one could reach her. He couldn't get her to go back home, and told me about it. Armed with a box of dog biscuits and a long-handled hoe, I went to do battle with the sneaky dogs.
I feel a little protective of them because their owner isn't home during the day, and since they're not the best examples of canine intelligence I have ever seen, I worry they'll get hit by a car. I have caught Sparkle on the loose several times and taken her into my back yard until her owner got home in order to keep her safe. She comes to me without a problem. Fritz doesn't quite trust me as much, and has the characteristics of a possible ankle-biter. I like them both, but I don't turn my back on him.
As I approached the fence I could see that both were in the neighbor's yard. Fritz, the more straightforward of the pair, was easy. "Cookie, Fritzie, cookie," I cooed, waving the biscuit in the air. His little brown eyes locked on the treat. "Go get it," I said and tossed it into his yard. He scooted under the fence like a streak of lightening and grabbed the treat. Sparkle was up by the other house, nosing around the bushes. I called, waved cookies and cajoled until she came trotting down to the fence. During this I employed another biscuit to keep Fritz on his side of the line.
Sparkle was up on her hind feet, doing the Happy Cookie Dance, so I waved the cookie in front of her nose and tossed it over the fence. Fritz was on it like a shark, while she looked at me, puzzled. She's a sweet little dog, but like I said, not the smartest thing. I picked up the hoe, took out another biscuit and got her attention, and dropped the treat right next to the fence opening. With the hoe handle, I pushed it under the fence, while she darted and snapped and tried to get the cookie before I pushed it away. She was starting to follow the cookie, when Fritz grabbed it.
Fritz 3, Sparkle 0.
I got out two more biscuits, tossed one far from the fence to keep Fritz occupied, and tried the same maneuver with the hoe handle. Sparkle squeezed by and grabbed the treat before I could push it under the fence.
OK, let's try that again, using the head of the hoe, so I can block her access to the biscuit until it was under the fence. Fritz got his cookie, Sparkle waited too long to try for hers, and Fritz got it too. I tried again, with the same result.
Fritz 8, Sparkle 1. Me - defeated by a couple of pocket dogs with the combined intelligence of a gray squirrel.
I closed the biscuit box and picked up the hoe. "Well, brat dogs, you're just going to have to wait until they get home, I guess," I said and started to walk away from the fence. Deprived of her source of entertainment and treats, Sparkle watched me dejectedly, and then, probably jealous of all the food Fritz was getting, scooted back under the fence to check for crumbs. Hallelujah. I dropped the cookie box and used the hoe to maneuver the bricks back in place at the opening. For good measure, I added a brick of my own. Now they're home and safe. I managed to sneak Sparkle another cookie for a reward. Reward for what, I'm not sure. Not driving me crazy?
Thursday, January 22, 2009
Monday, January 19, 2009
"The power's not off," I replied, " my TV's still playing."
"Then I guess my computer's power supply just died."
OH NO! (Small pause for panic.)
When the computer went off suddenly, it evidently caused a surge that triggered the UPS. I reset it and he tried to restart the computer. Dead as 4 o'clock. Oh, well, he said, we'll have to look at it in the morning.
This morning, he determined that indeed, the power supply had gone crispy and he has to buy another one. Good luck finding one in town. Looks like we'll have to mail order it. That means no computer for him for a week (he hates trying to squint at my laptop screen - he has a 28" monitor). So I still have the wireless network but can't print anything - his computer was the printer server.
He was meaning to rebuild his computer this spring, but hadn't selected all the parts. Well, now he will have a new power supply for it, and a big one- he's thinking 600 watts. This will be the third power supply replacement in his current computer. His computer is a real workhorse and he runs the living daylights out of it. Photo manipulation and restoration, video rendering and heavy duty gaming, running dual processors and a hot rod video card. Most people can get by with the same computer for years. He bought me this Toshiba laptop two years ago to replace my Acer, but I really didn't need a new one. For what I do the old one was fine; he just thought it was a little weak. He normally builds a complete upgrade every 2 to 2 1/2 years and by the time he does, he really needs to.
If you hear someone moaning and whimpering in my neighborhood, it's him. He's in withdrawal.
Sunday, January 18, 2009
How's that for corners, people? I may pluck myself bald-headed in frustration, but the corners are coming out nicely. This gives me the incentive to make that glorified nine patch that I tried years ago and gave up in aggravation.
I can't get too cocky. Half-way finished is when my patience starts to thin.
Saturday, January 17, 2009
I'm happy with it so far. The pink rings are more vibrant in person and don't fade into the background as in the picture. It's very traditional and very cheery. It's also fairly girl-y, but it IS a wedding present. The groom will just have to overlook that.
Thursday, January 15, 2009
The big problem is avoiding stretching. This thing has bias every which way and is not stable. I don't envy the longarmer who will get this baby. With the scalloped edges and the stretch, she will have to be on her game.
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
These took about 2 1/2 hours. I'm still trying to figure out the most efficient assembly process. My mom suggested you take all of one color rings, say the green ones, and assemble all 15 of them. Then add the centers between them and the arcs on the outside edges. That will be the next scenario to try. The one on the left was assembled by adding the arcs around the melon wedge shapes and then sewing those pieces to the center. The one on the right by adding the green arcs to the melon wedges, then those to the center, and after than adding the pink arcs and squares. I'm thinking Mom had the right idea. So I'll assemble two more green rings for the top row and add the center, and see how that goes.
Notice the four-patch in the top center. I cut a curve in the top square so I would have a smoother curve to bind. All the wedding ring quilts I've seen had either a tight inner or outer corner. No thanks.
Monday, January 12, 2009
After I retired in 2007 I tackled some jobs around the house that had been waiting a long time. One of them was cleaning out and organizing the garage. I could show you pictures of that, too. I learned a lot of things from that task, one of which is that we own a lot of hammers. Never mind.
After the garage was cleaned and organized, I tackled the stair issue. There was one tall, narrow concrete step between the garage floor and the door to the kitchen, which is shown. There had never been a handrail. Now, I needed to construct a set of steps which were deeper and with a lower rise for my husband's use. I knew how stairs were usually constructed with a stringer, and I knew I probably couldn't do that. So I came up with three platforms on legs, each shorter than the one before by 4 3/4". The handrail supports would be an extension of the outside legs on the boxes.
This entailed carrying lumber home in my Subaru station wagon (I really need a truck) and becoming comfortable with the power miter saw I bought my husband for Christmas several years ago. This was a big deal because his radial arm saw always scared me to death. I'd use a circular saw or a jigsaw but not the radial arm saw, which he said was silly since it was actually easier to hurt yourself with the power hand tools.
So, armed with a power saw, a pile of lumber, about a million 2 1/2" self-tapping screws and a large bottle of wood glue, I began. I worked one Saturday until the battery pack on the cordless drill was dead. The next day, I put the whole thing together. The black stripes on the stair treads are non-slip strips, and the blue edges on the stairs are there because with all those stripes, it became difficult to look down and see the edge of the stair! I painted a blue strip on the edge of the stair treads because blue was what I had (left over from the shutters). Some day I will paint the whole staircase but for now, it works OK as is.
I don't build pretty, and I don't build typical, but it's probably strong enough to park your car on.
What you can't see well in the picture is the one warped, twisted 2 x 4, which was so crooked I didn't want to use it. Finally, I had to because I ran out of 2 x 4's. It's the handrail support on the second step, on the far side. It irritates me every time I walk up the stairs.
I'm not going to tag anyone, because most of the people reading this have probably already been tagged. So, if you want to play along, feel free.
Saturday, January 10, 2009
Unfortunately, this can only happen in the floor, so down to the carpet I go, to rub and pet her (substantial) tummy as long as she want it. I'm told that she's had enough by a nip on the hand, after which she stalks off like she's insulted. I guess we're done. You're welcome?
See? Everyone is playing nicely now. I wanted to use green from the first but talked myself out of it. What the heck was I thinking?
Friday, January 9, 2009
I'm a filer. I keep paper copies of everything - credit card statements, bills, bank statements, warranties, receipts, medical bills. Everything. I have a nicely set up filing system in the lateral file cabinet that matches my desk. It was heaven to finally get an actual filing cabinet and I use it.
Every year or so, I purge files, and keep just the past year's records. I like to be able to look back at the year's expenditures when I'm handling our financials. I have been a conscientious filer in the last two years, around the time my husband retired. Because of everything that's been going on in our live, however, I have not been a conscientious purger. Thus, the files were bulging and stuffing just one more piece of paper in each hanging folder had become more and more difficult.
It was time to purge and shred. The purging part didn't take long, but I was faced with a foot tall stack of paper. Oh, brother. So I pulled the Ativa shredder close to my comfy office chair and started feeding.
Two things you find out (or remember) when you're doing this. The shredder may say that it will take 12 sheets at a time, but don't do it. The poor machine sounds like a person trying to choke down a mouthful of saltines without a drink of water. Also, it gets hot a lot faster than you think, and you have to stop regularly for cooling off periods. That's actually what I'm doing right now.
The floor is covered with small snippets of paper dropped while emptying the shredder bin. There's a black trash bag full of 1/4" x 2" pieces of paper next to me just waiting to split and spill. I have shredder lubricating oil on my hands (and almost on my shirt - good save!). Oh boy, this is fun. Not.
I haven't used plastic templates to mark and hand cut quilt patches since - well, since I saw an ad for a rotary cutter and rulers in a quilt magazine and exclaimed "Now THAT'S what I'm talkin' about!" Actually, since I cut out the pieces for the Grandmother's Fan quilt I started and Mom finished in 1991. I avoid curved patches like they were a snake. I know, cowardly of me, but quilting is my amusement and relaxation, and curves are not relaxing.
First, I had to buy plastic template material, which seems to be getting rare. I bought the last package at the quilt shop. It's the nice thick frosted type which you can mark with a pencil. All I need now is to investigate whether I can buy a hole punch that makes as small a hole as possible in the template, so I can mark the piecing intersections easily. I probably need to check out scrapbooking materials at Hobby Lobby.
This is the palette for the quilt:
This is the selection for the back (left and center selection of fat quarters) and the binding (right). The back will be pieced with an as-yet undecided simple design which incorporates the label. I don't have an embroidery machine, but I would love to embroider a border of roses around the writing on the label. We'll see how that turns out. My longarmer has an embroidery machine so I may have a solution.
I have marked and cut out the 60 football-shaped wedges which fit between the intersecting rings. Next is the pointy piece at the center of each ring. I assume that will take a while, because I can't see any other way than marking and cutting each one individually, to avoid distortion. Even layering two and cutting them might make problems. Then, of course, the rings, and the corner squares, where - yay!- I can break out the ruler and rotary cut them, since they're plain 3 1/2" squares. My goal is to have the quilt cut out by Sunday evening. We'll see.
This is by far the simplest quilt in fabric and color choices that I have done in ages. The piecing layout is the major factor in the design. The solid rings in two colors will float and interlock over the floral background. I'm still uneasy about it but betting this works - Mom did one like this and it was pretty. The quilting will be everything. June the longarmer will have to pull out all the stops! Here are two mocked-up rings. You will notice a different dark blue in the left corner. I'm not satisfied with the blue in the corner squares and am going on a hunt tomorrow for something like that fat quarter. It is an older Jinny Beyer fabric and I know I won't be able to find it exactly, but something similar will work better with the other selections. The solid blue doesn't blend and the color is too light. On the whole, I would rather have done it with pink and green, but the recipient likes blue.
I think I need validation on this one. It's the only project of this scope I've ever started feeling this conflicted. Is it going to work? Imagine it with outline quilting around the inside and outside rings, a quilted vine through the center of all the rings, a motif in the centers and a small flourish in the football shaped wedges.
Through this my sandpaper board will be invaluable for marking all these pieces. One of the best purchases I have ever made in quilting supplies. No slipping while you trace around the templates. If you don't have one, make or buy one for yourself. You won't regret it.
Wednesday, January 7, 2009
It has at least stopped raining. Intellicast.com says we got 3.4 inches in the last 24 hours. Add about 3/4 inch to that for Monday night and you see that in the last 36 hours we were about washed away! There was a river running down the slope in my back yard. Luckily, whoever did the final grade on this lot so many years ago understood water management and we never have a wet crawlspace.
I can't say that for the last house we owned. It was new construction in a hilly subdivision. I knew he had done the perimeter drains correctly, but it worried me that the lot to the right of the house was higher and would drain onto my foundation where the basement was the deepest. That of course was the half of the basement that was finished. There was a laundry room, hall and roughed-in bath, which we never completed. The rest of the basement was block walls and slab floors. We used it for storage of a few pieces of furniture, and boxes of books and other household goods that wouldn't fit upstairs.
After a wet start to the winter in January 1993, it started to rain heavily on the Friday night before Martin Luther King Day weekend. We had planned to to go Pigeon Forge on Saturday, and decided that the rain wouldn't deter us. I had to run down to the basement as we were getting dressed, to retrieve a shirt from the laundry. When I stepped off the last stair I hit water on the floor. "Oh, no", I thought at first, "the water heater is leaking." That, I had experience with. I headed down the hall to the laundry room. The water was getting worse. And it wasn't coming from the water heater. It was oozing out between the baseboard and the concrete slab on the far wall - the wall where the basement was completely underground. I went in the roughed-in bathroom next door. At the capped-off toilet flange, water was coming up around the hole in the slab. I knew then we had a major issue.
The ground had become so saturated that there was nowhere for the water to go and the water table was rising. Under my house. It had reached the deepest corner of the basement wall and had begun to infiltrate between the block walls sitting on the slab. It was also perking up wherever there was a gap, like the roughed-in plumbing. The opposite side of the basement, which was totally above ground on the back side, did not have a problem. Yet.
I started mopping. I laid towels along the baseboards and anywhere else the water was coming in, and every two hours, I spun the water out of them in the washer and replaced them. Every two hours. For 36 hours straight. Through the day, the night, the next day. By that time, the towels weren't catching the water at all, it was coming in faster than I could mop it up. When I checked the last time, there was over 1/2 inch of water in the laundry floor. At some time mid-Sunday afternoon, I sat down on the stairway landing and said "Forget it. I'm done." Whatever the water did, I couldn't stop it and would have to pick up the pieces later. Water was now coming in even around the partially buried front wall of the above-ground portion. I disconnected everything electrical downstairs, set all the boxes stored in the unfinished portion up on blocks near the ground level back door. I walked up to the living room and cried for about two hours.
It rained all Sunday and Monday, too, about 3 1/2 days nonstop, over a foot of rain, total. There was flooding everywhere in my town, but I didn't know it at the time. On Tuesday I called in to take a day off work for cleanup and found out that several people were in the same condition that we were. One guy lived in a house his parents had built 50 years before. It had never had water in the basement until then. His whole basement had flooded too.
The water reached 3/4 of the way up the bottom stair, 5 inches at least. I was too upset to measure it. As it drained out, I cleaned up and dried the basement out with a little submersible pump and the Shop Vac. I sorted out the stuff that had gotten wet and I couldn't save. I aired out the basement, dried out the walls and repainted in the next few weeks. Luckily, the water had receded and been removed so fast that the walls weren't damaged or molded.
During all this, the eternally leaking chimney had spotted the ceiling in my living room too.
This was the only house I was glad to sell. It was bought by the relocation program when I transferred jobs and stayed on the market for a year. I don't know who owns it now. I just checked the precipitation history map, and they got as much rain this week as we did. I bet their basement is damp.
Tuesday, January 6, 2009
I also just wound my bobbin for the fifth time. Whatever else is in this quilt, there's a lot of thread!
In the meantime, I'm working on the last six rolling star blocks (including the brown/gold square-in-a-squares, I got so burned out on them I'm making them as I go, block by block) and waiting for Bonnie to arise and post. Here I am without even all the top put together and I want to see her border ideas. Impatient!
Monday, January 5, 2009
But of course, not knowing how the blocks were to be assembled, I didn't. I pressed the seam allowances to the inside on the first two diagonal sides and to the outside on the second two, to distribute the bulkiness at the points. Just a habit of mine. It works fine unless of course two like blocks are intersecting there. In that case I plan my pressing so that the intersecting blocks lock together at the opposing seam allowances.
Too late now.
But maybe not for you. If you've looked ahead at the design but haven't finished all your square in a square blocks, you can address the intersecting points issue by pressing all your seam allowances so that they are never all lying on one side of the points. Just thought you'd like to know.
Sunday, January 4, 2009
As soon as I have finished the last two double nine patches, I am going to jump on those brown square-in-a-squares and make some real progress. I want to make star blocks!
Yesterday wasn't the biggest sewing day I have ever had. I got a little done in the morning but went out to the garage to do some straightening, storing and sweeping. That took hours. And then the Christmas village finally made it into the boxes and back into the closet for another year. I finished loading everything back into the guest room closet about midnight. In between the two jobs, a friend of my husband's dropped by for a visit (and while that friend was here another one called). Then this morning two other friends called. He's one popular guy! As a result of the last call, though, he made plans to watch a movie with the guy at our house after dinner, so I get the whole evening to myself in the kitchen with my sewing machine. I almost never want to watch the movies they pick. They tend to watch more serious, darker fare than I prefer. My stance is, the world has enough misery as it is without paying Netflix $16.99 a month to rent some.
Saturday, January 3, 2009
Actually, at this point, I call them "light at the end of the tunnel". And I think I know how the whole thing goes together. If I'm right, it's neat - but I won't say any more.
The square in a squares in two colorways make a cute star block, and finally I get to see my greens in their place of honor in the center of the block.
I got all the strips sewn and cut yesterday and then life intervened again, and I had to take some time out to handle personal business at the bank. So after dinner I got back to the nine patches. I wanted to be sure that the green and shirting fabrics were distributed evenly, so I spread out all the segments and paired (three-ed?) them up for each block. I know, I know - control issues. I couldn't just put them in bins and pull two of the green-white-green and one of the white-green-white and sew. OH NO. I had to hand select all 130 blocks. After that I sewed 30 nine patches before I decided to call it a night. So now the sewing machine is back in service and I have 100 nine patches and 110 brown/gold square in a squares to make before I can see those beautiful blocks come together. I had to make a sample. Did you notice that I had to piece some of my gold center patches? I almost ran out!
I have enough browns to make sets of four of the square-in-a-squares, and I will pick out matching blue blocks in sets of four to make the assembled star blocks consistent from block to block, although each one will vary from the next.
What am I doing, typing? I have work to do!
Oh, P.S. - while I was out on errands, I ran by the local quilt shop and found the perfect fabric for rings and corner squares on the gift double wedding ring quilt. And plastic template sheets. So now, since I already had the perfect floral for the centers of the blocks, I have everything ready to start that quilt -- after I get shook loose from Bonnie's clutches!
Friday, January 2, 2009
Admittedly there's 130 small nine patches, but I can do this without pulling out my hair. Cut strips, sew strips together, cut segments to the correct width, sew segments together. Easy peasy. And it's with my lovely green fabrics, which I have been waiting to use. This is getting interesting.
And there were 80 3.5 x 3.5 plain blocks too. That felt like a gift after all those square in a squares!
Thursday, January 1, 2009
I still have to dismantle and store my Christmas village, and have to shop for fabric for the brother-in-law's wedding gift quilt. I was all ready to cruise the fabric stores today but they were all closed. Bummer! Don't they realize that there are wives of football nuts out there ready to start a new quilt for the new year? (Not me, my husband is not a sports fan, thank heavens!)
All the indoor and outdoor Christmas decorations with the exception of the village are in boxes in the middle of the garage floor, but they can't go into the garage closet until the boxes that hold the village pieces are taken out of it. This mystery quilt came at exactly the wrong time, but it was something I wanted to try, so c'est la vie. All the boxes in the garage aren't impeding parking the car so it won't kill me to step around the Christmas decorations for a few days.
Addendum: I have finished the 120 square in a square blocks for part 1, and all the patches are cut out for part 2, but I'm going to wait and see what part 3 brings because, frankly, I can't do any more square in a squares right now. Whatever part 3 is, it's bound to provide a little diversion until I can stand to face more of those corner triangles and trimming.
But, here's a tip for those of you who aren't using the Easy Square Jr. ruler:
I have a Creative Grids ruler that is 3 1/2" x 3 1/2" which is perfect for this tip, but you can do this with other small rulers. See the next paragraph for additional directions. Put tape on the top side of the ruler 1/4" from the edge and 1 3/4" from each corner of the finished size of the block. Make a dot or an x on the tape. This is where the corners of the inner square will fall.
This will work with a 6 x 6 or other small ruler too. You just have to put a piece of tape on the top surface outside the 3 1/2" line so you don't have to squint at the markings when you trim. You only have to line the tape up with the sides of the block for your second set of cuts.
Here's a picture that might help:
I used gold marks because they show up well on the blue center squares we are making. This isn't the one I am using; I marked my 3 1/2" ruler. I made this one quickly to show you, so you should probably be more accurate adding the tape and marks to your ruler. But you see how this can speed things up. Lay the ruler on the untrimmed block with the x's on the corners of the inside blue square and cut the top and right sides. Rotate the half-trimmed block 180 degrees and realign the x's with the corners, checking that the trimmed sides align with the tape at 3 1/2". Then trim the other two sides. Much faster, and no searching for your reading glasses to see the marks on the ruler!