Here’s the scoop

As many of you know, I retired early after 32 years of service at the University of Oregon.  I like to think of it as being paroled after 32 years hard time, but the early part of it really wasn’t that bad.  Retiring at 56 years of age felt pretty good, but to tell you the truth, not only does everything begin to fall apart (house and body) after 56, but when you’re home alone most of the day, you find that you begin to miss human companionship.

So, I got a job!  Not rocket science.  Actually it’s just working in a call center, which I know can be hell, especially if you have to sell, but I won’t be selling anything.  I will be helping people with technical issues in setting up their profiles or issues they experience when they arrive at venues for a travel site.  It is called AirBNB and, if you’ve never heard of it, you really should check it out.  If you have an extra room in your house, or a studio apartment, or any rental property you’d like to offer to travelers, you can list it there.  If you’re looking for a good deal on lodging nearly anywhere, you can find a good deal there.  They have everything from a tent in someone’s backyard (with bathroom privileges) to a villa in Tuscany.  You can rent a room BNB style, or you can rent a whole house or apartment.  I won’t be supervising, managing a budget, or processing payroll, and I’m excited about it.  A fun job – with fun people.  I have an orientation on Friday and I start Monday.  I may even end up working the graveyard shift, since I’m a night owl anyway, and I’ll have more daylight hours to throw the ball for my dog.

I’ve had my quilting business for ten years, and I will not be totally giving that up.  I will be scaling back.  I will be pickier about the quilts I accept.  I probably won’t do as much custom work as I have in the past.  And, when I have time off, I may actually get to work on some of my own stuff.  I may even decide, somewhere down the road, to stop quilting for others.  For now, all income will be welcomed, as my poor house, which was built in 1935, really needs some help.  You can’t do a lot of improvements on a public employee pension, no matter what the politicians try to tell you.

So – that’s my news!  I’m a happy girl.

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The January Blues

I seem to have lost all zest for life.  Well, not really, but I can feel January weighing on me like the frozen foggy miasma it generally is.  Last year I got to spend part of January in Hawaii, so I spent a little over a week escaping this gray, damp, penetrating cold.  It can wear on you and, when you’re already in a bit of quilting burn-out, it can get depressing.  I have to admit that I’ve been escaping by playing hooky.  I go for walks with the dog . . . yes, I know, that seems strange, because I have to go out into that frozen gray cloud to do it, and by going to the movies with friends.  That can always add a bit of cheer to any day.  Next up is The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.  From the trailers I’ve seen, I think it may help to lift those January blues.

I have been doing some quilting.  I know most of you who come here to read about that have been wondering when I’ll get back to it again.  It’s been on-going, but I’ve had nothing really notable to share with you.  That may be another part of the doldrums.  Quilts with hugely waving borders, saggy middles that resemble craters from badly done bias piecing, mitered corners that should probably never have been attempted.  I think I need to get back to piecing some of my own things.  I’m very good, and if I were to have some of my own things to quilt, it would, no doubt make me happier.

The good news is, the days are getting so much longer.  The sun is up before eight and goes down after five, so we have more than nine hours of daylight.  I will dream of spring and summer coming, to the days so full of light and time to accomplish all the things that won’t fit into days of darkness.

In the meanwhile, can someone hook up a large fan and blow the fog out of this valley?  I’d really appreciate it.

autzen in the fog

I’ve been out walking

Sorry that I haven’t posted much lately.  As you can see by the Fitbit stats, I’ve been out walking some miles lately.  I swore I would take the day off yesterday, but the sun came out again, and I couldn’t resist.  It is shining faintly today and I am feeling a pull to go out, but I need to get back to quilting, so I have promised myself (and Ozzie) that we won’t go.  Besides, I was supposed to clean and organize the spare bedroom so I can paint it, but I’ve been so tired from all the walking the past few days, I’ve gotten very little of that done.

Since I shared photos of the fog with you the last time, I thought I would show you how Eugene looks in the winter when the sun is shining.

autzen in the fog autzen sun

 

As you can see, Autzen stadium looks a lot different in the sunshine.

heron

 

A heron sunning itself on a mossy log in the middle of the pond

hooded merganser

 

I’m not a birding expert, but I think this may be a hooded merganser.  Generally, we have a large mallard population, but these little fellows seem to have arrived in great numbers lately.  There were a few in the pond, but most, like this fellow, were in the canal along which we walk.

wading heron

 

This heron was wading rapidly across the canal.  I think he may have noticed that I had a dog with me and was determined to reach a hiding place before we got too close.

hiding heron

 

He seems to think he is quite well-hidden here.

I5

 

Our walk takes us down under the Interstate 5 bridge, newly built and just reopened last summer.  We were on our way back to the park here when it occurred to me that I should take some photos of the artwork under the bridge for the next time I post about a walk.  It’s surprising that they actually invested quite a bit in some nice art that not too many people would see.

autzen footbridge

 

Coming back up along the Willamette River, you can see the Autzen Stadium footbridge that joins the campus (to the south) with Autzen Stadium.  This bridge is, of course, quite busy on game days.  Ozzie and I walk under it on the right side there before getting back into Alton Baker Park.

Canada geese

 

A very small portion of a flock of Canada Geese in the park.  They are lovely to look at, but unfortunately, they leave the trails quite a minefield with their droppings.  Years ago, the city hired dogs to chase them out of the park because they were making such a mess.  We are now much more hospitable to them, either because it is PC, or because they realized that resistance was futile.

sunsetAnd, at the end of a beautiful sunny day, we have the beautiful sunset, taken from the not-so-lovely vantage of over the fence of my back yard.

Fitbit stats (I hope) will now be confined to once a week on this page.  I think they’re really cluttering up the view, and my steps are likely to take a dive as I plunge back into the pile of quilts.  It’s also supposed to rain over the next few days.  That doesn’t usually stop us from walking, but it does make it slightly easier to stay indoors.

 

Jane’s last quilt

This post may make your think (or confirm) that I am totally crazy, but I want to tell you about the most magical quilt I have ever quilted, and the special lady who made it.  Jane was a nurse in my town.  Her last post at the hospital was in the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit), and not only did she do a superlative job in caring for those precious little premature babies, she cared so much for them and their families.  She started a project in which many quilters in town participate, me included.  We make quilts for the babies in the unit.  Mostly, I just quilt them – I’ve done a bunch – but I have made a few too.  Anyway, about a year and a half ago, Jane got sick.  It turned out that she had ovarian cancer.  Still, she kept working until she no longer could, and then she kept sewing until she could no longer do that.  Her husband said that when she stopped sewing, he knew he had lost her, as it was her greatest passion.

I quilted a quilt for Jane shortly after she stopped working.  She wanted to finish up her UFOs and leave them for the folks she cared about.  She had never had a quilt professionally done before, and it was my honor to do her first.  As it turned out, I also ended up quilting her very last quilt.  She passed in September.  She earmarked this one for her son, who is now a grown man.  It is full of Jane’s whimsy and zest for life, and it was my honor to do it.

Now, I have to tell you that Jane was not your conventional piecer.  As you will see in the photos here, none of the points seem to match, there are embellishments and dimensional pieces all over the quilt, and it just seems to be very wonky, except that it isn’t.  It’s actually very well put together.  I put pieces of painters tape on my leveler bar so that I can be sure the edges of a quilt stay straight all the way down as I roll the quilt.  In most cases, I have to fight to keep a quilt flat and square.  Not so with Jane’s quilt.  It rolled like glass, straight and smooth all the way down to the very bottom.  As I worked on it, I talked to her – I told her that I was going to need help avoiding those dimensional pieces, and I didn’t want to run over her embellishments and ruin them or my machine.  Almost by magic, as the machine moved across the quilt, it managed to avoid all of the embellishments and most of the dimensional items.  I had no trouble with it, even with the stuffed bear!  Yes — I did say stuffed bear.  I didn’t take nearly as many photos as I should have, but I was trying to pump it out with the Christmas rush, so I’ll just give you a few.  Simple bubbles pattern, but I’d say this is the best quilting experience I have ever had.

wonky stars just bubbles 2 just bubbles janes close up janes last quilt

 

My camera program is playing hide and seek with the location of my most recently uploaded files.  Anyway, here are a few of the photos of avoiding the embellishments and the quilt all done.

janes giraffe janes quilt finished monkey eyes

Let it snow, let it snow!

Nothing (yeah, right) to do but quilt today, so it can snow all it wants.  Apparently, it wants quite a lot.  The ground was barely covered when I got up at about seven this morning.  We now have over six inches of snow.  I stuck the tape into it, but with my fused lower spine, and my clunky boots, I was not able to squat down to get a good angle on the ruler. I think my little cottage looks kind of cute and cozy in the snow.  I’m staying inside!  Quilting, sewing, and maybe a little knitting later on.  Oh . . . ya . . . and I guess I should do a little bit of cleaning.  Big sigh.

A bit over six inches of snow so far, and it’s still coming down!

Over six inches

 

Trying to get out the front gate

Front gate

 

Jefferson Street, looking south

Jefferson

 

And, my cozy little cottage

Cozy cottage

 

Stay warm, and, if you have to go out, you might consider this mode of transportation, adopted by one of my neighbors this morning

skier 2

When you’re making plans . . .

I’m not sure of the citation, but as they say, life is what happens when you’re making other plans.  As you know, I spent the weekend taking care of a very sick dog.  Then I spent Monday and most of Tuesday worrying about the little dog in the hospital.  On top of that, there was the quilting machine that continues to break down, the house that’s a total disaster, and it goes on and on.  I’m pretty sure you’ve all been there.  You’re probably had times in your life when things have been much worse.  I know I’ll get through all of this and life will be free and easy again, but for now, things are a bit of a struggle.

On the bright side of things, despite X-rays, blood tests, IV fluids, lots of meds, and a day and a half of hospitalization, but vet bill was only $525.  Ya, that’s a lot of money for me, but for that level of care, it’s pretty much of a bargain.  And, I have my dog home again, and he seems well.  A bit subdued, but after all he’s been through, I guess that’s to be expected.  He seems to be very hungry, but the vet said that after being sick, he had the emptiest digestive tract she’s seen in a long time.  We’re taking the feedings slow, but he seems to be doing well.  Tomorrow, we’ll go of a walk — you may have noticed that the Fitbit stats have been on the nearly non-existent side for the last five or six days.  I may actually stop that posting until life settles down a bit.

My quilting machine has been giving me fits.  I have finally made an appointment to send it back to the factory for a complete overhaul in February.  That was the earliest they could take it.  In the meanwhile, as long as I’m doing all-over patterns using the Intelliquilter, it does just fine.  Well, almost.  I’ve been having this bobbin thread bite-off thing going on that is about to drive me over the edge.  I’ve cleaned, oiled, re-timed, changed the bobbin case a million times, and the problem persists.  I’ve never had this stuff go on for this long.  I’m very grateful to have the IQ to help me finish up quilts for the holidays.

So, that’s been my life in a nutshell for almost the past week.  I know things will get better soon.

Here’s my show-off dog, hefting his idea of a stick, last Friday, just before he got sick.  Like the other one, it was taken with the cell phone, so it’s not the best.  He’ll be back to normal soon, I’m sure.

Ozzie the mighty

My boss is a difficult task master

She had me tied to that quilting machine all day today.  I only got breaks to go and deliver three quilts at the quilt shop, run to Costco for some coffee (I was out this morning – talk about disaster!), and grab a small bite to eat for dinner.  Then I had to go right back upstairs and start quilting again.  She says I have three more quilts to finish before Thanksgiving.  Thank goodness two of them are very small.  Then, when I finish those, I have more coming in next week (not to mention the four that are still here but due in early December).  Then she says I have to clean the gutters, rake the leaves, install the new kitchen faucet (the broken faucet works intermittently, but she’s tired of running to the bathroom sink for water), and then I have to clean out the spare bedroom, paint the bedroom and the hallway, assemble some Ikea furniture, and put everything back in an orderly fashion.  I’m exhausted already!  And then I heard her make mention of decorating for the holidays!  Oy!  I’d report her to the state labor commission, but I’m self-employed, so I guess I’d best keep my butt out of hot water by staying mum on the subject.  Would any of you be willing to talk to her and ask her to ease up off me a bit?  She’s wearing me out.  Oh – and by the way – she told me today that this house looks like a tornado blew through it and I’d better think about doing some cleaning too.  There is definitely no rest for the weary . . . wicked . . . wobegon . . .weird . . . whatever!  It will be an early night tonight.