We’re having a heat wave

It is absolutely gorgeous outside.  Not a cloud in the sky and just so pretty, but it is outrageously hot.  Even with a fairly powerful air conditioner in my attic studio, I can feel that heat trying to creep in through the ceiling.  We tied the record for the day at 96° today.  I’m hoping it will cool down a bit more quickly tonight than it did last night.  I only managed to cool the house off to 75° last night, because it didn’t get all that cool outside either.  I’ve been busy — got about six quilts quilted, lots of embroideries done for my July craft projects, and Ozzie and I have walked and walked and played ball at the park.  I’ll get some photos together when I am cool enough to recover some of my energy, and I’ll be back to share.  In the meanwhile, all of you out here in the west with me, stay cool!

Sometimes life is too short

I know you’ve all heard me bitch incessantly about my 32 years at the University of Oregon.  Early in my career, there were a lot of things I loved about my jobs there.  When I moved to the Economics Department in 1988, I loved my job and was sure that I would stay there until the day I retired.  I did actually do that.  I grew to hate many aspects of that job, largely due to the decentralization of many duties at the University, which just piled more and more work on my desk and the desks of my secretaries, with no increase in compensation and no increase in staffing.  Sure, there were people there who bugged me too, but my favorite part of my job was getting to know some of the faculty and their families.  I really did like and care for many of those folks (and yes, some of them were NOT my favorites, but we won’t talk about them).  So, since I rescued myself by retiring early, I like hearing about the good things that happen to my favorite folks . . . how their careers develop, how their kids are doing, whether they’ve been promoted to full professor, etc.  I’ve spoken to a few of them who have realized that there is more to life than work, work, work all the time, and I’m cheering them on towards retirement.

Unfortunately, the night before last, one of my favorite people died in her sleep.  She was a part-time faculty member for the department, spouse of one of the faculty who, at one time, was my boss (he was a fairly good boss), and mother of a very charming young man who has gone on to be head oenologist at one of the local wineries.  She was several years younger than me, and still working hard at her job.  She was one of those women with a quick wit, a mischievous sparkle in her eyes, and a great sense of kindness and fair play.  I admired her greatly and I am so very sad that she will never get to know that time when you get to stop working, put your feet up (or set them on another path) and just get to enjoy your family and your life.  She is gone too soon and will be greatly missed by many.

So.  Please go out there and live every day as though it were your last.  To my knowledge, my friend was not ill, and her death was very unexpected.  You never know when your hourglass will run out of sand.  Don’t sweat the small stuff.  Live responsibly and be kind, but grab for all the gusto you can.  RIP Cathy.  I pray your family will find peace with your early departure.  I know I’m just stunned by it.

Not blogging again!

Well, you should know that life has been pretty decent lately, and that would explain why I haven’t been sitting in the house at the computer much.  Yard work, playing at the dog park, going for long walks, sewing, quilting, knitting, and all those retiree things, have been occupying my time.  I’ve been brought up a bit short in my tracks over the past few days by a bit of equipment failure.  I had to take the embroidery machine to the hospital this morning and I think I’ve fixed the obstruction problem I’ve suddenly gotten with my Intelliquilter, but I won’t know for sure until I finish pulling out all the bad stitches from yesterday and set it to sewing again.

I was very tempted at the Sew Vac shop this morning to plunk down some funds on a brand new embroidery machine, but I don’t think the embroidery is a large enough portion of my business to justify the expense and I really need to concentrate on revenue instead of investing non-existent dollars into new equipment.  Sigh.  It would be nice to have the funds to be able to buy whatever makes my business run more smoothly, but dog treats and basic human nutrition are more important lately.

I promise I’ll come back with photos of finished projects as I’m able.  Keep your fingers crossed for me on the smooth-running machines.  My embroidery machine should be able to come home on Friday.

Through the wormhole and out the other side

I wonder if I should start looking into bio-rhythms and that sort of thing.  I swear there must be periods in life where absolutely nothing can go right, and you just have to wait it out.  Fortunately, I think my waiting period is up and I’m on the upswing again.  Last month was the pits.  A kidney stone, a pulmonary virus that I swore would kill me, and, just as I began to recover from that, I had a flare up of back pain that sent such spikes of lightning down my legs that I couldn’t sit, stand, or lie down comfortably.  A couple of sleepless nights sent me to the doc for a shot in the butt and some steroids, and I’m much better now.  Through it all, Ozzie and I kept up walking (although not very far) and playing at the dog park.  I had to use the long-handled chucker to throw the ball, since I certainly couldn’t bend much to pick it up.

So, while I was doing a lot of lying around trying to mend myself, I needed to keep my hands busy and decided to try one of these little clamshell boxes by Clover.  You buy a packet of these little petal-shaped plastic forms (thicker for the outer fabric and thinner for the inner), pad them with a bit of batting, cover them with fabric, and then stitch them all together for a little spring-loaded-type box.  It was pretty fun to do until you get to sewing the third panel on.  It wants to keep popping off while you’re trying to stitch and, even though the Clover Wonder Clips will help you hold everything together up to that point, they will pop off and go sailing across the room if you try to use them for the final step.  Anyway, here’s the little box I made.  Perhaps I’ll use it for a coin purse or give it away as a gift to a friend.

Clamshell box

Side one – Moda’s Jardiniere fabric

Clamshell other sideSide two – another bird!

Clamshell bottomThe bottom

Clamshell inside 2Just squeezing to open the box

Clamshell insideAnd the lining

I realize I really need to work on my hand stitching.  Overall, the effect is fairly neat, but there are some real bobbles there.  I’ve got (I think) five more packets of forms so I’ll make a few more of these.

Grateful: sometimes memories can be so funny

The weather has been spectacular here for the past few days.  With summer coming on, lots of friends have been talking about grilling, partying outside, etc.  My gas grill has needed a new burner for a long time.  Actually, I should have replaced it last year.  I did buy a new burner and ignition switches on eBay last year, but I never put them in.  So, a post from a Facebook friend today motivated me to get out there and do it.  I couldn’t find the owner’s manual for my grill, but hey – how hard could it be?  Some of the screws were a bit corroded, but I managed to dis-assemble the parts, install the new ones, and it’s working like it’s brand-new.  So, that took me back.  How long had this burner lasted?

I got the grill in April 2007.  Why do I remember that?  Because, I went to Costco with my new sweetheart, Freddie, to buy it.  We brought the grill home, and I was so excited that I had a man to help me assemble it.  Well, let’s put it this way, I was excited that I had an extra set of hands to help me assemble it.  Now, you need to realize there is a Steller method to assembling things.  You just go for it and, if you run into a problem, you read the destructions.  My brain and my hands work really well at putting things together.  Fred’s skills at assembling things were, alas, mediocre to poor.  He grumbled and complained through the whole ordeal and, about 3/4 of the way through, I sent him inside to get something to eat so I could finish the assembly in peace!  Things went much more smoothly without him in my way.

Later on, when I discovered the horrible truth about Fred — strippers, dominatrices, drugs, etc., — and I threw all his stuff out of the house and changed the locks, I had the goodness in my heart to loan him a little dome tent so he could sleep in the woods.  He called me from the campground the first night to complain that it was really cruel to loan someone a tent that was so difficult to set up.  WHAT?  It was a simple dome tent with two shock-corded poles (so, they were already half-assembled), that formed an X in the sleeves on the tent and you bent them and set the thing up!  How much simpler could it be?  An idiot could do it.  Well . . .  perhaps not.

Anyway, if any of you gals are still single, I highly recommend the gas grill assembly test as the key to whether or not your relationship will work.  Tis the season — go buy a new grill and see if your man can handle it.  If not, best to end it now.  You’ll save yourself a whole lot of trouble!  I’m so grateful that I had this little test and yes, I’m grateful that I stopped that relationship before it went a step farther.  Life is great!

Enough already!

I made it through the kidney stone, I’m still fighting the end of the plague, and this weekend, while I was in a rush to finish a quilt, I began to notice a twinge in my back.  The bottom of my spine is fused (3 levels) and while it can get painful at times, it usually stays at a dull roar and doesn’t bother me all that much.  By Sunday night, the pain shooting down my left leg was getting really bad.  I pulled out the array of physical therapy equipment I own.  1.  foam roller  – I laid down on it and straightened my spine out, rolled back and forth, heard a few things pop and hoped it would be good.  Nope.  When I got back up, the pain was still there, perhaps a little worse. 2.  I got out the Colpac by Chatanooga Group – one of those blue gel pliable packs they use at physical therapy.  I love it because it can mold to your achy spots and it stays cold for a long, long time.  No relief there.  3.  Exercise ball – I draped myself over the top of it and rolled back and forth, totally relaxing and giving the spine some time to let go of my nerves.  Nope!  4.  Floor – I laid down on the floor with a little pillow under my head and my butt right up against the wall and put my legs up on the wall.  Stayed like that for about an hour, getting inspected every few minutes by the dog and both cats, who seem to be most distressed when I do unusual things.  5. Oxycodone and Tizanadine – not hittin’ on sh$%.  Ow, ow, ow.  6.  Massage chair – heated shiatsu massage, feels great, but you can’t stay on the darn thing forever.  In the long run, it did not provide much relief.  7. TENS unit – stuck on the electrodes and finally got into bed.  Just no way to position myself so that my left leg was not screaming at me.  Pain started all the way down into my foot.  I probably managed a total of two hours of sleep all night, in ten minute increments.  As soon as the doc’s office opened at 8:00, I was on the horn.  My doctor is on vacation till June 17, but I was able to get in to see one of the other doctors in the practice.  Of course, this involved having to explain the whole darn thing over again, when my internist would have said, “oh no, not again!” and gotten down to business.  I got a shot of Toradol – strong anti-inflammatory, and was on my way.  I got home and started to go outside to prune my roses, when I was taken with a horrible stomach ache.  I sat down for a few minutes and realized I couldn’t keep my eyes open.  Probably the body relaxing from the stress of the night.  I gave up and went to bed.  Today is much better.  I’m hoping that three health disasters in a row is, if not the ‘charm,’ at least ENOUGH!  I am done with illness and suffering.  I will have the dregs of the cold, but I got up and out today and I’m not looking back.

Ozzie and I headed to the dog park.  Much to his dismay, I decided I needed some ‘me’ exercise first.  Not a lot of exercise, just a spin around one of the small loops on Pre’s Trail.

http://www.endomondo.com/embed/workouts?w=vRPjlHUGjRQ&width=580&height=600&width=950&height=600″ width=”950″ height=”600″ frameborder=”0″ scrolling=”no”>

We then went into the dog park (you can see it in the lower right of the screen) and played ball for about an hour.  I feel a lot better, and my very pooped pooch is fast asleep on the couch.  I got the roses pruned and I’m about to go upstairs and quilt.  On we go!

Be careful what you wish for

Life in retirement is not always that easy, especially if you retire very early (at age 56) without a lot of sound financial advice.  I’ve considered going back to work several times, but I just can’t really face going back to the UO, and that’s where I would make the best money.  I did ask to be put back on the part-time, temporary list, but it seems everyone wants full-time workers to fill in where needed.  I just can’t work full-time in an office anymore, so I’ve declined.  So, I decided I needed to ramp up my quilting business and get some funds rolling in here.  The quilts finally began to come pouring in the door, just in time for me to be hit with a kidney stone . . . if you’ve ever had one, believe me, you can’t do anything but take pain meds, lie around drinking copious amounts of water and wait for it to pass . . . followed shortly by the plague, which I’ve had for over a week now.  I’m on my fourth bottle of cough medicine, and finally have my voice back, and the vile sore throat finally left me last night.  The sun is out, it’s supposed to be an absolutely gorgeous day (and I do think it is shaping up as such), and I AM going to get better.

In the meanwhile, I’ve managed to finish a custom quilt for Beth — an on-line longarming friend who I hope to meet in person some day.  Through all the wonky quilts that I get . . . remember those ripply antique quilts of a few months ago? . . . it is such a joy to get a quilt that is well-pieced.  Generally, when a longarmer loads a quilt onto the frame, there is a lot of straightening and smoothing that has to happen.  Not so with this beauty.  It rolled on so flat and smooth that I nearly cried for joy.  It was an absolute delight to work on . . . what’s not to like?  Stars, gorgeous fabrics in such pretty colors, and . . . did I mention that it was nice and flat and square?  LOL  Here are a few (maybe too many?) photos.

Beths Quilt

Beths Quilt 2

Beths feathered triangles

Beths detail

Beths corner

Beths Quilt back

The Back

The back 2

Back Edge

Back Detail

Back edge detail



For those of you who like the technical stuff, that’s Fil-Tec’s Glide in Cleopatra on the top, wonderful Magna Glide bobbins in cream on the back.  3 Sisters feathered triangles, Jessica Schick’s (Digitech Designs) feathered square, Legacy’s curled sashing (liberally edited by me), and my own little cornerstone flower.

I’ve also finished a couple of pantograph quilts since this.  I’ve got to get the binding on a few today and think I will go over to the sewing room to do that — too much clutter on the work surfaces in this house to be able to get the bindings on without knocking everything off onto the floor!  Actually, I’ve beginning to think I would just knock everything to the floor and get a shovel and and get everything out of here.  Being ill and busy at the same time tends to lead to total chaos.

So, the sun is out.  It’s a brilliantly beautiful day (although I know the pollen is through the roof), so I will inoculate myself with every available allergy med I have and head on out there.  I’ve no more time to be ill and I absolutely refuse to devote any more time to it.  I’ll post more pics soon, as I have a plethora of things to share, should I find time to take the pics!