Join Janet on her adventures as a designer, writer, maker, and farmer in montana. no two days are ever the same. you might even see a bear or two.

Gathering Inventory

Gathering Inventory

Yesterday rather went off the rails. I woke up, made the husband breakfast, and was getting ready to finish the last couple of grocery bags when the phone rang (it was 8:15 a.m.). Two years ago, our church bought a commercial refrigerator. It was a big—but much needed—expense for us. Unfortunately, the fridge has had the ongoing problem of randomly getting warm. We have had techs come out and check it about half a dozen times and no one seems to be able to identify the problem. It happened again on Saturday, just before a funeral luncheon, so I went into the retailer this week and made some noise. I said that I wanted this problem fixed while the fridge is still under warranty. They promised to send someone out to look at it. I had asked them to give me about 15 minutes’ notice so I could meet them at the church. When the phone rang, it was the tech telling me he was on his way.

I called my friend Pat to meet me there. She is in charge of the kitchen at the church and has been keeping detailed records of all the service calls. We ended up being there for about two hours while the tech took apart the fridge. He thinks that the condenser fan motor needs to be replaced. It’s a warranty repair. This may or may not solve the problem, but at least it’s a place to start.

I came home planning to finish the bags and plant potatoes after lunch. Unfortunately, the weather report was way off the mark and instead of being 55 and sunny, it was 40 and gloomy. Also, neighbors came by to get eggs and there was some visiting. The next thing I knew, it was 1:00 p.m. and I still hadn’t finished the bags. The husband’s morning concrete pour had gone well, so he came home early and went out to plant the potatoes.

Despite all the detours, I do have a stack of completed canvas grocery bags.


Yes, they have a label, but I am not ready to announce what is on it just yet. I am still putting some administrative pieces together. I also have parts for another batch of bags ready to go through the assembly process.

This is what I have learned so far:

  • These are the “premium” bags. As much as I like these and the colorful insides, a single-color/unpieced bag with an unbleached muslin inside would be simpler and less expensive to produce. I’d like to offer both for sale and see which sells better.

  • These are large bags. I want to draft a smaller bag—single color/muslin, most likely—for those people who don’t need a bag the size of a paper grocery bag.

  • Even if I do the premium bags with two colors of canvas, I need to pick two or three color combinations and stick with those. I like the brown combined with either red, navy, or hunter green. Using more colors just makes things too confusing and I have to change thread colors too often.

  • Once I settle on colors, I’ll order some nice coordinating coned thread. I have been using the Coats and Clarks Heavy, which I like because of the appearance of the topstitching, but I go through spools of it at an alarming rate (they are small).

  • Changing the way I make handles saves a lot of time. I cut the handles, press a quarter-inch fold on each long edge, fold in half, then topstitch each side. So much easier than making a tube and turning it.

Because the husband got the potatoes planted, I’m going to work on getting lavenders moved and cleaning up the rest of the raspberries today. It’s suppose to rain, but not until the afternoon.


Most of my regular blog readers know that I am our church pianist on Sundays, but I also moonlight for an Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA) congregation on Wednesdays during Advent and Lent. I’ve been doing that now for about seven or eight years. I grew up in a Lutheran church—a Missouri Synod church, which is a much more conservative branch of Lutherans that doesn’t ordain women or let them hold office and now you know why I am not a member any longer—but I’ve been a Mennonite for the past 20 years (and plan to stay that way). Playing for both churches, though, sometimes makes me feel like I am straddling two denominations. My Lutheran background has faded but never entirely gone away.

Lutherans and Anabaptists (the umbrella group that covers Amish, Mennonites, Hutterites, Brethren, and the like) have a long and troubled history. Luther didn’t like the Anabaptists and condemned their teachings in the Augsburg Confession, and that animosity between the two denominations continued well into the twentieth century. The ELCA Lutherans, however, sought to reconcile with the Anabaptists. That process has been part of both groups’ annual gatherings in the past decade, with much more informal sharing happening at the congregational level.

Pastor Andy and I were chatting before the Ash Wednesday service. He said that he wanted to be sensitive to the fact that the Mennonite church was sharing me with the Lutherans during Holy Week and wondered if there was a way to get the two groups together. He and Jeryl, our pastor, know each other because they both belong to the interfaith clergy group that meets monthly in Kalispell. The two of them planned that our members would join the Lutherans for the Maundy Thursday service. This particular Lutheran congregation practices footwashing as part of that service. Footwashing has always been a part of the Mennonite tradition, but this is the first Lutheran congregation I’ve encountered that also does it.

I thought it was a wonderful service. About a dozen members of our church came and joined the Lutherans for footwashing and communion. The Lutherans are much more liturgical than the Mennonites, but I think it’s good for the two groups to experience each other’s style of worship. We’re hoping that more of this kind of interaction happens. I am all for anything that brings people together instead of dividing them.

More Garden Cleanup

More Garden Cleanup

The Reluctant Seamstress Gives In

The Reluctant Seamstress Gives In