Saturday, March 31, 2007
Friday, March 30, 2007
What got me thinking was that I found out today a friend of mine who lives up with the Eskimos and dog sleds in New Brunswick, Canada, reads my blog quite often and I didn't know. Okay, I know she doesn't really live with Eskimos and dog sleds, but we like to tease her and pretend to be dumb Americans!
Speaking of dumb Americans, though, I'm not very knowledgeable about world geography. I just love having the map on my blog so I can see where my visitors are from, but I'll admit that I don't always know exactly WHERE you all are--what country or what part of the country. Or even sometimes--YIKES!--what state! Shame on me! I'm hoping that as I have visitors popping in from all over the world, I'll start to get a better grasp of geography.
If you've read my first blog entry, you know that I ended up with a blog by accident. A couple of us were trying to prod our friend Kairle--the first of us with a blog--to start posting again after a long hiatus. In trying to leave a comment on Kairle's blog, I ended up creating a blog of my own. What I didn't know until I started my own blog is that you can go into a blogger's profile and e-mail them directly instead of leaving a comment (which often requires you to have your own blog or a Google account)--or at least you can if they've chosen to list an e-mail address. So if you read my posts and want to say something but can't leave a comment on the blog, feel free to e-mail me. Just don't e-mail me mean or rude comments; but then I suspect that most people who find my blog are quilters, and quilters are the nicest people I know!
In fact, I thought I'd share with you a photo of a few of the nice people I know, people I've met through quilting. This was taken at a small retreat we had in Utah this past October. Three of the gals came from different parts of Canada, and several of us were from the U.S. No, I'm not in this photo and I won't name names to protect the guilty, but we sure did have a lot of fun shopping and sewing!
Now, just a little follow up on yesterday's blog. My husband served dinner tonight--nothing fancy, just KFC that I picked up on the way home. Remember the "throw away" issue? Tonight we had dinner on--what else?--paper plates. Okay, not just paper plates though. HALLOWEEN paper plates! See, I think he's plotting to get rid of everything in the kitchen. Or do you think maybe it's just because he didn't feel like doing dishes any more than I felt like cooking?! Nah! Conspiracy theories are much more fun!
Thursday, March 29, 2007
You know what it probably is? Doing the dishes is my husband's "chore." Maybe if he convinces himself that everything in the kitchen is a "throw away," he can justify not washing anything. After all, I'm sure that taking out the garbage is much less time consuming than washing dishes!
Wednesday, March 28, 2007
Isn't that one of the brightest quilts you've seen? It's actually much brighter in person! I had made a quilt (which is waiting on the applique rack) using one of the great Fig Tree lines of fabric (check out Joanna's blog!) and had a bunch left over, so I decided to see what I could make with it--the green, pink, and yellow are the leftovers. I had this other fairly gaudy fabric in my stash that looked good with all those colors; it also had red in it (pink and red? yikes!) so I pulled some red fabric from my stash too. This is way out of my normal color comfort zone, but I like it, and it will look nice on my bed for spring.
Heading back out of the room, you can see more of my shelves for "stash." I designed the shelving in the room and my father-in-law was kind enough to build it. The shelves wrap around half the room, from the doorway to the window on the far wall. Only these go all the way to the floor; the rest of the shelving goes from the ceiling to about mid wall. They're only 7" deep, so they hold a lot of fabric but don't take up too much of the space in the room--something that was very important to me since my room only measures 9' by 9'.
Thanks for stopping by! Now I need to get back to quilting. Don't let the door hit you in the rear on the way out! LOL!
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
But that's not really what I intended to talk about tonight. I wanted to talk about how creative my husband and my son are. My son is very interested in graphic-style art, similar to street or tagger art, although he doesn't go around spray painting buildings, thank goodness! LOL! He often carries with him a sketch pad and pens and works on his creations during quiet times (like when he's brought a month's worth of laundry over to mom's house and has nothing to do until it's done). It's hard to explain, but many of his pieces depict the word "ghost," which is the name he uses. He's very good at drawing other things but keeps coming back to variations on "ghost"--shading, angles, perspective. The photo below is of one of his pieces--perhaps if you look closely, you can see the word, but it's pretty well hidden.
Here's another sample of his doodles. The center bottom image again says "ghost":
My husband is also creative, but in a different way. He works in fits and starts, sometimes going for some months without creating anything and then he'll work on whatever it is for several days in a row. He's happy puttering away in the garage, looking at all the cast off "junk" and letting his imagination transform it into something rather clever. I'd guess about 95 percent of his time is spent in the imagination and planning stages. Last year he made "Pot Man" and it sits proudly on our patio.
This year, when he was sorting and packing things away after Halloween, he came up with the idea for "Frankenfly," who now also graces our patio.
My husband's creations tickle me because they're so offbeat and unique. A couple years ago, we HAD to invest in a globe from a street light when we visited Hippo Hardware up in Portland, and that's his next project. More than anything else, though, I'm glad he has an outlet for his creativity. We all need that, don't we?!
Monday, March 26, 2007
When I first brought that magnet home, I think I related to it more on the level of being "time challenged." Yes, it's true that I've always taken joy in creating things on some level, but back then, I wasn't as deeply engaged in creative pasttimes as I later became when I discovered quilting. Back then, I would just get caught up in something when I was supposed to be doing something else--like getting to work on time! LOL!
Now, though, I look at that statement and think how apt it is when it comes to quilt making. I can't tell you how often I seem to lose track of time when I'm working on something related to quilting. How many times have I daydreamed about a quilt idea? How many times have I felt a need to finish a block or a section of a quilt before I could start dinner? How many times have I laid in bed with block ideas milling around in my brain, keeping me awake when I needed to get up for work in the morning? Or even worse, how often have I dreamed quilt patterns?
The statement works too when I think about the amount of time it takes to make a quilt. Sure, we all squeeze in quick little projects from time to time, but to carry out a more elaborate quilt project, from cutting to binding, takes an enormous time commitment! But it really doesn't matter how much time it will take, does it? Not when it's a really fantastic idea that screams out to be transformed by fabric!
I remember I attended an AQS quilt show in Reno not long after I began to quilt--maybe a year or so after I started. The featured artist was Zena Thorpe (check out her quilts!), and I got to see some of her masterpieces up close and personal and talk with her about them. Well, of course you all know what quilt novices ask: "How long did it take to make that?" Yep, I was still wet behind the ears and dumb enough to think there was an answer to that question! Luckily for me, though, Zena's a very determined, one-track quilter--not the type to flit from quilt to quilt and amass UFOs. She was able to tell me that most of her larger applique quilts take about a year from the time she starts until the time she finishes. Wow, that seemed like an eternity to me then. But do you know what? I have quilts--one in particular comes to mind--that by the time I finish, I will have probably put in quite close to that amount of time--or I would if I hand quilted it like Zena does. And it really doesn't matter. I don't quilt for instant gratification--not usually, anyway. Not on the projects that matter, and I do like to have a project or two in the works that really gets me creatively excited!
I wish I could quilt all day, but I can't. I have to work. Nevertheless, I manage to put in at least two to three hours after work each day in the Sweat Shop and probably about ten hours on most weekends. At least that's about what I'd estimate. But then again, who knows? After all, time becomes meaningless in the face of creativity!
Sunday, March 25, 2007
Saturday, March 24, 2007
Remember those pipe cleaners I was dyeing last night? I used them to make those little chicks above, a la Martha. I don't think mine are quite as cute and fluffy as hers, but they have a certain appeal. These babies are tiny! In fact, I'm not quite sure what I'll do with them. My two cats, on the other hand, know EXACTLY what they want to do with them. I'm not sure they realize they're made out of pipe cleaners. I caught the young cat trying to carry one off, and the old cat was eyeing them pretty closely too.
Once I finished a suitable sampling of chicks, I moved on to the bunnies. Kind of cute, but again pretty small.
Kind of goofy too. Why do their whiskers look more like arms? Probably because I'm not Martha! Martha also made some cute little carrots to go with the bunnies, but she used Fimo clay to form the carrots and then wrapped them like the eggs (below). I don't have Fimo clay, so I'm trying to think of something else I can use. Any suggestions?
Finally, I tried wrapping an egg. Not too bad. In the magazine, Martha has eggs on candlesticks, which seems a decent way to get a photo since they just roll around on the table otherwise. My plan, though, is to make several more and put them all in a basket or bowl for display. (That's one of the pair of candlesticks I bought at the Department 56 store in S.F.--I need to get some candles for those.)
Time to go clean up that sewing room again. Sheesh!
Later Note: A friend said my bunnies look like space aliens! OMG, they do! LOL!
Friday, March 23, 2007
Thursday, March 22, 2007
As quilters, I think one of the biggest tasks we face is trying to stay organized. Projects are begun and set aside. Fabric's cut. Swap blocks are due, so everything else is put on hold. We come home from a monthly quilt club meeting and need a place to put our fabric, our blocks, our patterns until the next month. A binding is sewn on and the last length is set aside. Scraps pile up. New fabric purchases are brought home and need a place to reside. When we work, our sewing area is in a constant state of flux, the landscape of our space shifts from moment to moment.
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
I was happy to discover that my parents seemed to be doing reasonably well. My dad was dozing on and off while I was there, but he seemed more alert, and I could see that spark in his eyes that told me he was "there." My mom is bruised all over and has discovered a new problem with her hip, but x-rays don't show any fractures; presumably it will just take some time to heal. We had a good visit and talked over financial and other matters, which I'll take care of while they're in the nursing home. Just before I left, a neighbor arrived to say hello: George plays the banjo and his "band" was performing for the residents when I arrived. I left thinking that my parents are in good surroundings, being well cared for, and should do just fine.
The drive home didn't seem quite so long, and by the time I reached the halfway mark, I was ready for another latte. This little town is laid out kind of oddly in that the main street where all the shops are parallels the main road through town but is a block or two over. Along the old downtown street, old fashioned lighted metal framework criss-cross each intersection. I haven't driven down this street often, but it's charming and I found myself thinking that I ought to stop and do some exploring one of these days. Of course, once I saw there was a quilt and yarn shop amid the other little stores, my mind was made up: this is a little town I need to become more familiar with! Although the sign on the quilt shop door said "open," it was just after 6 p.m. and I figured they were probably on the verge of closing for the evening. I also knew I had a husband waiting at home who would be wondering where I was if I was delayed, so I continued on but mentally marked the location of the shop so I can treat myself next time with a stop and a little exploration. Don't you just love "discovering" quilt shops that you didn't know existed?!
As I neared Sacramento, driving along the freeway with rice fields stretching out on either side, I could see the downtown area off in the distance, seemingly stuck out in the middle of flat farm land and looking a little like the Emerald City in the Wizard of Oz. I thought about the evening ahead and, as it usually does, my mind wandered to the quilt project I'm working on. For the first time in several days, I felt that flutter of excitement and the lightening of spirit that quilting seems to bring. And I was nearly home . . . .
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
I haven't written much about my folks for the last couple days, but I'm worn out tonight and they're still on my mind, so I thought I'd mention what's been going on.
The Good: The folks were transferred today, together, to a nursing facility. From what I understand, they are both Medicare approved and if they exceed the maximum covered stay, their supplemental insurance will kick in. I've reported the auto accident to their insurance company, and the property damage and auto inspection/disposal aspects are being resolved; my dad has med pay which will help with any medical expenses that are not covered. My mom seemed alert and in less pain the last time I talked to her. I'll be going up to see them tomorrow. The neighbors in the retirement community where they live are just wonderfully helpful with everything, and I'm very grateful for that.
The Bad: I'm told the healthcare people expect my folks to be in the nursing facility for quite possibly more than 100 days. 100 days! And I was anticipating two weeks! I had to deal with the phone company's automated phone system THREE times before I managed to get my folks' telephone transferred to the nursing home. Have you ever talked to an artificial man-voiced robot who asks you questions about stuff like ZIP codes that you can't answer, and when you say, "I don't know," he says, "I'm sorry, I didn't understand your response. Please repeat that number slowly, one digit at a time"? Grrrrr! I really wanted to give him one digit in particular, but I'm sure he wouldn't have understood my response! My folks need a TV--21" I'm told. Not sure where to get one, and the rental centers don't seem to have anything under 27", so I don't know what my dad's going to stare at until I can get a TV to them. He likes to turn on CNN and watch the headlines. And complain about the Republicans. Since he's hard of hearing, he talks really LOUD and his political opinions are frequently punctuated by swear words. (Yep, that's my dad; they're gonna love him at the nursing home! 100 days? I bet it's more like the two weeks I was expecting!) My brother seems to think the folks might have a TV in their home that's the right size; the only one I remember is the GIGANTIC set we bought them for Christmas the year before last. I didn't see a smaller one when we were there the other night--probably because of the sweat pouring down my face, plastering my hair to my eyeballs. But I'll look again tomorrow.
The Ugly: Me. I'm feeling like the guy on the right in the photo above LOOKS. I'm also getting really tired of being asked about my dad's medical history, explaining that he has dementia, and having people say, "And he was driving?!" Yes, he was diagnosed in the fall as having mild dementia and was on medication to slow the progression; this is the first indication that driving might not be such a good idea, and he'll never do it again--I promise! I kind of feel like I should have done something BEFORE the accident, but most of you probably know that getting your parents to change their ways may well be harder than convincing a 15-year-old kid! LOL! No quilting time tonight, which is liable to make me real ugly too. I need my fabric fix! And now it's time for bed--gotta get my ugly sleep.
Monday, March 19, 2007
Vintage is cool! I love vintage stuff! Mostly, I like a lot of the "stuff" from the 20s, 30s, and 40s--or earlier. In particular, I'm a sucker for illustrations in old children's books. I went through a "phase" several months back when I purchased several older books on eBay. The photo above is the cover of one of the books, Peter Rabbit, a New Story, copyright 1932. I'm not sure what I'll do with my books, but I thought some of the illustrations would look awfully cute framed, or maybe I could use some of them for applique patterns or at least ideas. Who knows? In the meantime, since spring is in the air and Easter will be here before we know it, I thought I'd get some of the books out and use them to decorate, perhaps paired with other spring goodies. I remembered, too, that I had purchased a small watercolor from an eBay self-representing artist of two bunnies holding hands, walking down a path, backs to the viewer. I need to find a nice frame and mat for that one--it would look great propped up in my kitchen hutch with my vintage tea pots. I can hardly wait for the weekend, when I'll have time to play with my "toys"!
Sunday, March 18, 2007
Saturday, March 17, 2007
There was a time this afternoon when I thought completing my shamrock topper was a possibility, but I always seem to underestimate how long any given quilting project will take. Here it is, pretty much my bedtime, dinner's long passed, and the binding is only half stitched down. Gee, can I possibly be any earlier on getting NEXT YEAR's St. Patrick's Day tabletopper finished?! It's all just a matter of viewing things in the correct perspective, right?
Time to retreat to the Sweat Shop for a little happy therapy!
Friday, March 16, 2007
I'm tired. It's been a very long day. If you read my post yesterday, you know my parents were in an auto accident and are in the hospital. This morning I talked by telephone with my dad's doctor and the Social Services Discharge Planner. Both told me my dad was fine and was being discharged; I told them that my plan was to take him back to his home and check on him and bring him food every other day; the neighbors would also look in on him. That was just fine. Not so, as I discovered when I actually got to see him and found out he cannot care for himself and requires 24 hour care and/or supervision. Of course, this all comes down to healthcare assistance, insurance coverage, and finances, and it seems my parents fall into a category where they have just enough income to disqualify them for most assistance but don't have enough to pay for anything themselves. Yes, they have supplemental private insurance, but that's no help in this situation. Catch-22. In the end, the hospital kept my dad and will probably transfer him to a nursing care facility on Monday, but no one knows quite how this will be paid for. My mom isn't likely to face discharge for some time and will probably be sent to a nursing home as well before she goes home. I have to go back on Monday with all the financial documents I was able to hunt down at my parents' place. Their house was about 85 degrees inside. It was dark outside, and the lighting was poor inside. Nothing was precisely where my mom had said it would be. Did I mention that I'm tired?!
I know that trying to care for aging parents is a huge concern for my generation and yes, it's tough. I know that my husband and I are not the only ones to experience it. Yes, I know that, but it's not much comfort. It's hard to know what needs to be done when you're being asked to make decisions about something you've never really thought seriously about. I think eventually we'll have to sell my parents' place and move them into an apartment close to us, where we can help them and check on them regularly, and that's fine with me. Whether it will be equally fine with them is a question to be asked later.
What I'd really, really LIKE to be doing is quilting. I was hoping that by now, I'd be able to share a photo of my finished St. Patrick's Day tabletopper, but it's still half quilted, no further along than it was on Tuesday night--eons ago, it seems! Since both my parents are being cared for this weekend, I won't make that trip up there again until Monday. In the meantime, I need to read and sort through their financial and legal paper work and I hope to get some quilting time in as well. With quiting therapy, maybe by tomorrow's blog, my attitude will be better and I'll have a photo of something to share!
Thursday, March 15, 2007
Every year, the Ides of March passes, largely without incident, but not this year. Tonight, after I got home from work, I got a call from a neighbor of my parents, who called to tell me they had been involved in an automobile accident yesterday. Oh, they're okay, mostly--or it could have been worse, at any rate. From what I understand so far, my 81-year-old father lost consciousness as he was driving out of their mobile home park and hit a tree. My mom, who is 78, suffered three broken ribs and a small laceration to her spleen. They don't think she'll need surgery, but they're keeping a close eye on her condition. I spoke to her briefly on the telephone, and if you've ever had broken ribs or known anyone who has, you'll understand that it was very difficult for her to talk much. I've been told my father wasn't as badly injured, but I'm not certain precisely what his injuries are as I wasn't able to talk to him or his nurses. Tomorrow my husband and I will make the two-hour drive to visit them in the hospital to find out more information about their condition and what to expect later.
I think that in the coming weeks, once they've been released from the hospital, I'll be making several trips a week to visit my parents and bring them food and whatever else they need. In September, my mom fell and broke her kneecap and was in the hospital for a couple of weeks. My dad had been showing signs of dementia and wasn't able to fully care for himself, so driving up there every couple of days, bringing him food, and making sure he was doing okay became routine.
Most of us, in our middle years, are faced with the prospect of our parents reaching a point where they can no longer care for themselves but don't wish to give up their independence, and some tough decisions need to be made. For many reason, perhaps many of which are selfish, neither I nor my brother can take our parents into our homes, and we cannot help them in theirs, which is an hour and a half drive away from me and about a four and a half hour drive from my brother. I spoke with my brother on the telephone tonight, and we decided that after everything has settled down, we'll both set aside time for a visit to my parents' home to meet with them and discuss some kind of plan for their future.
Sadly enough, when I reached my brother to tell him about our parents, I found him at another hospital with his wife and her father; his father-in-law has been in poor health for some years and recently took a turn for the worse; it is expected that he will pass within the next 24 hours. I can't imagine the impact all of this is having on my brother!
Somehow, I haven't felt much like quilting tonight. For me, quilting is excellent therapy, but I just haven't been able to make myself go into the Sweat Shop, turn on the lights and the sewing machine, and immerse myself in threads and fabric. I'm about half done quilting a St. Patrick's Day tabletopper; I'm not sure it will be done by Saturday to put on our "holiday" table, but I don't think it really matters too much. I am not so upset, though, that I haven't remembered there's a nice little quilt shop just down the street from the hospital! LOL! Is that shallow? Maybe, but I think that after visiting my parents, a little retail therapy might be in order. And if it doesn't seem like a good idea at the time, then we won't stop there. I'm also thinking my husband and I might grab a late lunch/early dinner in this cute little town, before we head home; it might give us a chance to unwind a little and talk before we get back on the road. And I'm very grateful to have a husband who, without hesitation, arranged to take the day off work to come with me to visit my parents--his support is deeply appreciated; more, I'm sure, than I ever tell him in words.
Wednesday, March 14, 2007
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
Monday, March 12, 2007
I am grateful to have a hobby I love--quilting. It engages the creative part of my mind as well as the analytical part. When I'm not pressed into thinking about anything else, my mind strays back to my quilting projects, and when I get home from work, quilting is a great way to unwind and to get something accomplished at the same time. And, not least of all, I'm grateful to have a husband who appreciates the quilting I do and encourages me in my hobby.
A few weeks ago, my boss took the day off work to have a colonoscopy. Unexpectedly, he showed up at the office in the middle of the afternoon, after the procedure. He shouldn't have. He shouldn't have been driving, but was. There was nothing at work that he needed to take care of. Why did he come in? Because he didn't have anything else to do!
My sister-in-law mentioned that sometimes she gets all her "chores" done and sits down and then wonders what she can do with herself. She does have some creative projects going on occasionally, but nothing you could really call a hobby.
A gal I work with just turned 65 and is looking at retiring this year but doesn't want to because she'll be bored with nothing to do.
Now that my kids have grown up and moved out, I'm not sure what I'd do with some of my time if it wasn't for quilting. It gives purpose and direction to my leisure hours. I can't imagine a time when I'd feel at a loss for something to do.
The other really great thing about having a hobby is meeting people and forming friendships with others who are interested and involved in the same thing. I am grateful for all my quilting friends. I've met and gotten to know many quilters who live in my area. I've also gotten to know a number of quilters who live in other parts of the country, and I treasure their friendship.
I have been a member of a small online group of 50 women for several years now. One of the first real friends I found there has since passed away, but I'm grateful for having known her, even if we never did get a chance to meet in person. I have three other close friends I've found there: Eileen in Maryland, Patty in Florida, and Kairle in Utah. I have gotten to meet these ladies a few times over the past couple years, and we correspond via e-mail quite frequently. There are several other ladies in the group that I consider my friends too; some I've met, and some I haven't, but the friendships are no less real for not having met in person.
I am also grateful for my close non-quilting friends: Lisa, whose husband and mine went to school together, and Kathy, my sister-in-law. Even though we live in the same town, we don't see each other as often as I'd like, but we do try to get together for a "girl's night out" at least once every couple months. They don't understand my obsession for quilting and probably think I'm nuts, but we have other things in common. They have been my support through all the years that I've known them--something like 27 years now.
Yes, I'm very grateful that I have found a wonderful hobby in quilting and have found wonderful friends along life's path. Both have enriched my life tremendously.
Sunday, March 11, 2007
As it turned out, the day was devoted to Thimbleberries projects. First I finished up some 9-patch blocks for a swap with my online group. Those will go off in tomorrow's mail to the gal hostessing the swap.
I moved on to cutting strips for another swap with the same online group. Those will also go off in tomorrow's mail. Then I can just sit back and wait for the goodies to come back to me in the mail in the next few weeks!
My Thimbleberries Club meets on Wednesday, so I thought I'd make some pot holders--this month's extra project. I didn't want to make heart pot holders, which was the suggested project, so I pulled three Christmas-themed star blocks from an earlier swap with my online group. Won't they look cute in gift baskets for Christmas?
The last project I completed today was a block for the Thimbleberries Club block of the month quilt. I'm making the quilt half the size of the original pattern. I've modified this month's block slightly (besides shrinking it) by adding a colored center. This year's quilt is called Home and Garden; I think the pink and red center makes the block look a little bit like a flower.
Then I spent the rest of my time working on the appliqued center of the quilt I began in Jo Morton's class on Thursday--Emma's Quilt. No photos of that one yet, as I still have some way to go. Now that I have these done, I'll be switching out my Bernina for my Juki so I can get a St. Patrick's Day table topper quilted and onto the table before the holiday. Not tonight though--this quilter has to go back to the real world tomorrow, so the Sweat Shop is closed for the evening.
Saturday, March 10, 2007
Friday, March 9, 2007
My friend Patty and I decided recently that we would each design six applique blocks for a patriotic quilt. Each month, for six months, we'll mail the other person our design. Pop over to Patty's blog on March 8th--there she explains the general premise of our maiden designing voyage. (Click on her blog in my Friend's list.)
Anyway, Patty, who's always very subtle but equally very successful at somehow persuading me to buy quilty things, wrote to me about some of the textural fabrics on Debbie Mumm's website, and I bit. One of the nice things about the site is that you can order fat quarters--which may well be all you'll need for an applique project. A couple days have gone by since then, and here's the fabric fairy knocking at my door. (She probably knew that I had diligently cleaned house today and deserved another reward!) Here are the fabrics I picked up--I don't know if I'll use them all in this project, but I've used her fabrics before and I'm sure I'll use them in the future.
So, I've spent a little time tonight looking at my new fabric and some of the other fabrics I have on my "patriotic shelf" in the Sweat Shop. I think when I go back to work next week, I'll work on designing my first block during my lunch hours. The idea in my mind is a flower pot with flowers and flags poking out. Funny how Patty and I came up with similar ideas without talking about it first--I think our ideas will mesh pretty well, always assuming we don't design the same things!