Bring it on!

I know most of you think I’m nuts because I love storms and I love the rain.  Well, truth be told, I guess most of you think I’m nuts anyway!  We’re really cookin’ with gas as far as the storm goes right now.  25 mph winds with more intense gusts, and this is the radar at the moment.  Sunday 4 oclock

Eugene is in the second county up from the bottom, just into the yellow, where that divot is in the middle of the screen.  So – it’s pouring rain, and what have I gotten done today?  I cleaned the stove and fixed one of the burners on it and replaced all the drip pans (the others were about 20 years old and had just had it).  I made sure the electrical supply to the sump pump was working, cleared a clog (mostly just mud and leaf debris from what I could see . . . trust me, I didn’t look too closely) from the sump pump and got it working again.  Put a load of laundry in.  Made a loaf of sourdough rye high-protein bread.  Have almost completed a queen sized quilt, and knit about two more inches on the leg of a sock while the computer was running on the quilting machine.  Got the laundry out of the dryer and folded it up and even put it away!  I really get energy from a storm.

I’m hoping everyone in the northwest will stay safe.  Hopefully not many will lose power and, if so, for not too long.  And I hope there will be no major mud slides or no big trees down.  For now, I’m snug as a bug in a rug and I’m enjoying it immensely.

That tool box

Well, dang it!  Apparently I need to grab my toolbox and head back under the house.  It’s raining cats and dogs now (along with a couple of hop-toads) and I’ve not heard the sump pump go for several hours.  This sometimes happens at the start of the season.  Over the summer things dry out, shift around, critters get in the pipes and stuff can clog the pump.  I shudder to think what is stuck.  I also am not happy about crawling under there in a down pour.  It’s not too bad right now, but is supposed to get pretty wild by late this afternoon, so I guess I’d best hop to it.  I already got pretty wet going out to see what the trouble was about an hour ago.  I just couldn’t bring myself to take the thing apart just then.  I’ve had my second cup of coffee (Happy National Coffee Day, BTW), and I’m ready to face it.

I’ve got a big quilt on the frame and am doing a rather intense design on it (One Song Needle Arts‘ Gypsy Feathers), and had hoped to knit while the machine completed each row.  Instead, I will don my elegant elbow-length plumber’s gloves and head back under the house.  Where’s the landlord when you need him?  Oh – that’s right – I’m the landlord!

Sunday noon

It’s coming!  I’d best get out there now.

Our first fall storm

We were warned of a fierce fall storm moving into the area today.  Actually, for a day with a forecast of 100% chance of precipitation, it was remarkably warm and dry.  The rain didn’t really start till dinner time, but it’s been pretty steady ever since.  Not terribly windy, but I suppose the worst of it will hit us tomorrow.

Sat night weatherThe remnants of a typhoon are just off the coast of Oregon and aimed right at us.  So far, my previously leaky bathroom ceiling is quite dry and the sump pump under the house has cycled maybe once.  I’m not really convinced that it’s working properly.  I suppose it will be fitting that I’ll have to climb back under the bushes and the house tomorrow to check it out.  At least I think all of the spiders have gone into hiding — I didn’t notice any dangling in my path today!


I’m in love again!

No, no . . .  not like that.  I am once again in love with my quilting machine!Eowyn2

Sigh – gone are the days when my studio was so clean and tidy!  At any rate, I have been out of commission for a few weeks because my stitch regulator began to cut out on me.  Quilting left to right or right to left, I began getting long stitches.  It would cause a hiccup in my quilting because those big stitches left me sort of floating in thin air, like there was no connection to anything, and it caused some majorly ugly quilting.  So, I ordered a new encoder wheel for my stitch regulator’s horizontal axis box.  It came with lovely instructions on how it was all to go together, with the encoder wheel fitting snuggly into the rear carriage wheel.  However, despite my best efforts, I could not even force the encoder close enough to snug up as it should.  Luckily, a call to Amy in service at APQS led me down an adventurous path.  I entirely removed the encoder box, filed out the adjustment slot, replaced everything, and now I’m back to beautiful stitches and the machine floating just as it should.  It’s almost like having a new machine again!

Here’s the encoder box off the machine with the wheel and all its shims and washers:

encoder box apart

This notch needed to be elongated at the bottom, so I could slide the encoder wheel into the drive wheel

ecoder notchLooks like it will worksungging up

Having to jack up the machine a bit to get the wheel back on

propping upPerfect fit!

perfectI often see those cutesy little tool sets made for women.  As if they would even come close to being sufficient!  Here’s what a big girl’s tool box looks like:


and add a set of files and rasps from Harbor Freight:

rasps and filesNow we’re talkin’!  My machine is running wonderfully again.

A little quilty goodness

Last weekend a friend and I drove to Portland to take in the NW Quilting Expo and to check out the new products at the Trends show at E.E. Schenck, the local wholesaler.  You saw my earlier post talking about the cool Silhouette cutter I bought at the Trends show.  Now that I have (hopefully) repaired my long arm I’ve had a few minutes to sit down and format some photos from the quilt show to share here.  While the NW Quilt Expo is a fabulous show, I think my only complaint about it is that they try to cram way too much into the Expo hall.  This can be a good thing, because you get to see so many quilts and get tons of inspiration.  It can, however, be very difficult to photograph the quilts, both because there are so many people packed into the crowded aisles, and because you can’t quite step back far enough to get the right angle.  There was a big display of modern quilts and, while I walked through and had some appreciation for the work exhibited there, I didn’t photograph any of them.  I’m a traditional gal, and didn’t find much inspiration there.  Here are a few of the quilts I liked.  I’ll share more of them when I’ve had time to do some more formatting.

This quilt — Creme de la Creme, was hand quilted by featured artist Bonnie Keller.  As someone who loves whole cloth, I really enjoyed it.

Creme de la creme Bonnie Keller

Bonnie Keller Close up 2

Bonnie Keller Close up


This quilt is called The Value of Gears, made and quilted by Judith Phelps.  I think it was inspired by the movie Hugo (which I’ve not seen).  I really liked this quilt.


Value of Gears Judith Phelps


This quilt was called Flower Basket Buffet, based on a Pam Clarke pattern, made by Debra Holmes and pieced by Kathleen Woods.


Debra Holmes Cathleen Woods


Who doesn’t like a quilt with cats in it?  This is called Secret Pal, by Kasey Egelus and quilted by Dean Lund.


Kasey Egelus Dean Lund


This of course, is a Hop To It quilt (Edyta Sitar’s pattern), made and quilted by Ginger Patano


Ginger Patano hop to it


This was Spring Roosting Robins by Lynda Lynn.  I really liked it and was very surprised not to see a ribbon on it.


Spg Roosting Robbins Lynda Lynn


This quilt is Venus Fly Trap, an original pattern by my friend Lynda Newell, from Seaside, Oregon.  It was fun to see it hanging in the show.


Lynda Newell Fly Trap


This quilt with the Triple Feathered Star in the center is by Loretta Orsborn.  I believe it had a well-deserved ribbon on it.  Loretta and I met about two years ago in a Marsha McCloskey class. Loretta quilts for Marsha on a regular basis.  I quilt for her sometimes.


L Orsborn F Star


L Orsborn close up


This is called Ambergris by Connie Dempsey.  Imagine furnishing your home with quilted furniture.  Pretty cool, right?


Ambergris Connie DempseyAnd here we have the best of show quilt, by Pat Busby.  It was interesting.  It was well done.  I did, however, see a lot of other quilts in the show that I thought were more impressive.  I am, however, not a quilt show judge.BOS Pat Busby



I’ll try to show more photos before I go off to MQX West, where I will no doubt come up with many more photos of wonderful quilts.  I’ll actually have a quilt hanging there too!

A new look

You will notice that the look of my blog has changed.  It may change a little more still, but I’m just playing with possibilities and seeing what I like best.  Eventually, everything will settle down and get back to a bit more normal . . .  whatever that is.

Speaking of things new to the blog, I’d like to tell you that I have some new followers and I’m not all that pleased about it.  Most of you come here for quilting things.  I apologize that there hasn’t been much of that lately.  One reason is that I’m dealing with a broken quilting machine, but I just got off the phone with APQS and have a few more ideas to try in addition to the parts I just replaced.  The other set of people who come here are those interested in weight loss surgery.  They come to read an old post about the Hobbit’s eating schedule and to read what I have to say about weight loss surgery.  Lately I have picked up a troll.  We’ll call him Bob because, well, that’s his name.  He posted a rude comment you didn’t get to read because I didn’t approve it.  Sort of like my not being able to read his blog because it’s private.  Bob insists that all my health problems are my own fault and that I shouldn’t speak evil of gastric bypass surgery.  Well, you know, in one way Bob is right.  The metabolic problems I have are due to weight loss surgery and the surgery was a choice I made.  Hence, it is my fault.  However, I have followed doctor’s orders, continued to eat as directed, take my vitamins, and exercise, and I still have some complications.  Rare complications, it’s true.  They don’t happen to everyone and most folks who have complications don’t get them so badly that they’re sent off to the area’s leading research hospital to see the specialists there.  Bob suggests that I just shut the hell up.  I suggested Bob stop following my blog and take his comments elsewhere.  We’ll see how that goes.  My main objective in posting my woes, along with garnering the sympathy of my friends (shameless, I know) is to let prospective patients know that it’s not the easy way out and there are dangerous things that can happen.  That said, I’m not dying and, given the opportunity to choose weight loss surgery again now, knowing what I know, I’d have to say that yes, I would do it again.  There’s nothing like moving around without your own body getting in your way.  I would, however, probably choose a gastric sleeve, which helps to keep the normal digestive path in place.

So, feel free to leave comments whenever you wish.  Constructive criticism is okay; rude is not.  I’m off to fix the quilting machine (again).  Hopefully, we’ll be back to quilting soon!

What a long strange trip it’s been

It’s a really big day in Eugene.  I had forgotten all about it, but during a break in the clouds and rain this morning, I decided I’d better get Ozzie to the park for some exercise (for both of us).  When we arrived, there were all sorts of signs along the way saying, “no concert parking until 3 p.m.”  Ozzie’s favorite dog park (Alton Baker) is right next to the Cuthbert Amphitheater.


This is Eugene’s outdoor concert venue and I took this photo in the spring when the weather was much more fair.  Just inside the enclosure for the Cuthbert today were parked these big buses.

further busThey are the concert touring buses for the band Further – the remnants of the once very popular Grateful Dead.  Yes, back in my youth I was a Deadhead, as their fans are called.  I was not as avid as many of my friends, having attended only about six Dead concerts, while I know a few fellows who traveled the country following the band, funding their journey by selling, “picture of Jerry?”  My friend Jack had taken a magnificent photo of Jerry Garcia on stage and made it into posters which he sold outside each venue.  I imagine these days that would amount to severe copyright infringement and not be allowable, but the Dead always seemed rather laid back about these things.

So, Further will play Eugene tonight.  Some of you may have seen the recent report on the best cities for hippies.  Eugene, of course, ranks number one.  When I moved here in 1979, I told friends that I had moved to the hippie burial grounds – the place where old hippies come to die.  Well, it turns out that many of them live here too.  A Dead (and, therefore, Further) concert is not just a musical event.  It is more like a movable festival, hence the park putting up signs that concert goers must wait till 3 p.m. to move in.  Otherwise, there would be a huge party going on in the park that would have begun in the wee hours of the morning, or perhaps even started last night!  Eugene has had a long history with the Grateful Dead, due to their close association with Ken Kesey (actually a Pleasant Hill boy) and the Merry Pranksters.

Ozzie and I got into the park and began to play ball.  As all dogs do, eventually, there was some business to which we had to attend, and nearby I spotted this on the ground.


Not only is it the beginning of a faerie ring, but the mushrooms brought a smile to my face in thinking of their close association to the Grateful Dead and hippies in general.  Did I do such things in my youth?  Hmmm . . . maybe.  Would I do that now?  No way.  At any rate, I thought a lot about the past and enjoyed many memories while throwing the ball for a very happy dog this morning.  hapy oz

We’re home now and it’s raining again, but it’s already a good day.  I hope you all will enjoy your day too!

Phew! The joys of a job well done

I have to tell you that the memories of crawling under the bushes and under the house in the mud and the rain from last year were enough to make me really dread going back out there this morning.  I put it off as I sipped my coffee and, fortunately, there came a break in the clouds and I decided there was nothing for it but to go out and fix the thing.  I grabbed the pruners, as I live in blackberry country, and the entrance to the sump is down under the rhododendrons.  I also brought along a nice large black trash bag.  I stopped at the breaker box to make sure I hadn’t tripped a breaker on the pump.  Once I got the area cleared of snagging blackberries, I put my trash bag down and crawled under the bushes.  When I lifted the lid to the sump pump, I could see it was nearly full of water — it’s been really raining.  I thought to myself, “I spent way too much time under here last year for there to be anything major wrong.”  Fortunately, I was right!  I unplugged the pump, cleaned around the plug, and plugged it back in.  I then pushed the red button on the ground fault interruptor, and the pump immediately sprang to action!  I am so relieved.  It’s nice to know I did the job the correct way first time.  I think I may have tripped the fault when I used the outlet with the weed whacker this summer.  It was so nice not to have to take everything apart and crawl down in there again!  Here you can see that the water is all just about gone.  I’m hoping all will stay dry for the winter.

Sump pump

More joys of home ownership

I have been glorying in the return of the rain to Oregon.  It was a long, dry, hot, and eventually, crispy summer.  Not that I didn’t enjoy the beautiful weather, but it gets old.  I’ve been enjoying watching the grass turn green again, the fall crocus popping from the ground, the birds playing and bathing in the puddles.  What could happen to dampen (pun intended) my joy in the wonderful rain?  The realization that the sump pump is not running.  You may remember my forays into plumbing last year, where I spent days under the house installing a new sump pump.  Now I must battle the sticky orb spider webs and crawl back under there to see what’s going on.  Hopefully, it’s as simple as a flip of the ground fault interruptor.  I hope it won’t be a major job.  The good news, however, is that despite the fairly steady rain, the bathroom ceiling is not leaking this year!

Yes, there are times when I really wish I could call the landlord, but I do like knowing that if I decide to paint, remodel, knock out a wall, or change a light fixture, I don’t have to ask anyone.  And I’m proud to say that I can handle almost all of the problems myself.

The diagnosis

Okay.  Yes, I have been whining quite a bit lately.  It turns out, justifiably, except you probably didn’t want to hear the whining anyway.  I saw my doctor last week and had another blood test.  Back in April my parathyroid hormone was elevated.  My calcium level was fine, so they said it wasn’t a problem and retest in six months.  Well, it’s not quite six months, but we retested anyway.  I have hyperparathyroidism without elevated calcium — a consequence of my gastric bypass surgery.  Symptoms of said disorder?

  • Fragile bones that easily fracture (osteoporosis)
  • Kidney stones
  • Excessive urination
  • Abdominal pain
  • Tiring easily or weakness
  • Depression or forgetfulness
  • Bone and joint pain
  • Frequent complaints of illness with no apparent cause
  • Nausea, vomiting or loss of appetite

My bones are not fragile (yet), and I don’t seem to have the vomiting and loss of appetite, but I have everything else on the list.  So, at least you now know why I’ve been whining so much.  The treatment for this — for me, anyway — is to take more and more calcium each day.  Four to five of those lovely huge horse pills instead of my current two.  This will hopefully prevent my body from robbing the calcium from my bones so they don’t break.  I hope it will do something for the joint pain and fatigue too.  I’ve had enough of that.  I have also decided to appeal the denial of a revision weight loss surgery for myself.  If they change my gastric bypass to a vertical sleeve gastrectomy, I will get my pyloric valve and intrinsic factor back, which will aid in my absorbing nutrients from my food, so I don’t have to have all these bizarre medical conditions and take a lot of supplements.  I thought I knew all the hazards of the bypass before I had it.  These were not things they warned about.  Still, I suppose that I am more comfortable in this smaller body, but I could really do without things that make me whine incessantly!

The usual treatment for hyperparathyroidism is removal of the parathyroid glands.  In my case, however, there is nothing wrong with my parathyroid glands.  They are simply trying to compensate for my inability to absorb calcium.

I’ll be drinking more milk, taking the big pills, and doing my best to feel better.  While it’s not terrific news, it’s nice to finally have a reason for my complaints.