"On the plains of Oklahoma, with a windshield sunset in your eyes like a watercolor painted sky, you'd think heavens doors have opened."
Fly Over States

Friday, February 29, 2008

Sometimes Life is a Thug

Happy Leap Day!! I am glad this is not my birthday. Nothing worse than looking a lot older than your actual age.

This has been a difficult work week, heart-wise. I’ve got a terrible custody case – terrible because there are no bad guys and no matter what happens, nice people are going to be heart broken. It is a custody dispute at its worse – it is a little like trying to defend an innocent man when the evidence screams otherwise. No matter what you do, an injustice will probably occur and you feel bad because you can’t fix it and you feel like you should be able to.

I spent twelve hours over the past two days putting together a written report for an emergency hearing this morning (no way will I bill that much). It is 23 pages long and has additional attachments. I don’t always submit a written report but if it is complicated or there is another compelling reason, I will. I was worried that someone would object to it and it would be all for naught but no one objected. I felt bad that my husband got back in town last night and I didn’t do much more than wave and get back to work. I had to meet the attorneys at 8:00 this morning so was working down to the wire.

The Judge seemed very happy with it and said it was excellent, which made me feel good, not that is important to anyone but me. He started out the hearing saying that if anyone had anything to add to the report, he’d hear it but he didn’t want to have it all regurgitated. He said that I’d done a good job interviewing people and tracking down answers to the questions he had. I sure was glad I’d gone the extra mile. I know, I know, it is not about me. I am just grasping at something to make me feel better since the underlying situation is just horrible.

I asked for a very significant change in the status quo and it was granted. I really think it was the right decision but it was emotionally difficult because I knew one of the parties would be devastated. Sometimes it is like being a parent – you have to make tough calls even when it is breaking your heart. I guess Judges do that, everyday. I spoke to the “winning” party later in the day and he/she was glum because he/she felt bad for the “losing” party. Like I said, nice people. And this is a case that didn’t end up here because the parties were dirt heads (that term is just so rude). Life just intervened and dealt two families a horrible hand.

Most of the afternoon was spent organizing my office and sewing room. I put my big ironing board that I made on top of Husband’s giant speakers that are not now and, as far as I know, have NEVER been set up. I covered them with a quilt top and hope he doesn’t ask where his speakers are. If he objects, he can haul those things out of there because I have no more room. I am not kidding, they are waist high and weigh – I am not exaggerating –at least 150 pounds, each. Maybe more. He made them. I got a lot done but still have a long way to go.

I earned my glass of wine, tonight. Join me if you are so inclined.

photo - a picture of a gorgeous block that I just received in the Think Romance F8th Swap - no connection to the post but I like pictures.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Make Room for the Long Arm

Now that I know my long arm is going to be here March 18th (did I mention March 18??!) I have been thinking about how I will find room for her. We have a very nice, large bonus room over the garage that I use for a combination office, sewing room and extra bedroom. It started out being mainly office but over the past few years, the office has been backed into a wee corner. It is a perfect reflection of my shifting priorities.

I commenced to moving things around in there and it looks like a bomb went off. Husband was still out of town but I wouldn’t have asked him to help move things, anyway. He hates clutter and this might have caused a seizure


I think I have thrown out my back and I can’t find ANYTHING. Legal papers are buried under quilt tops and all my tax stuff is jammed in with office supplies… and on and on. I had a lawyer call today and I could not, for the life of me, find a particular file even though I’d seen it not 30 minutes before. I am sure she thought I was completely disorganized (she didn’t know the half of it) so I told her I had to get to court and we’d talk, later. I found the file a couple of hours later, stuck in with the thread, greeting cards, dog pedigrees and copy paper. I also found a cute little sundial that one of my daughters gave me for Mother’s Day one year. I plan to spend most of tomorrow afternoon getting all that squared away. I can’t do any quilting in that mess, anyway.

I feel pretty proud that in all the moving, I returned about half as much space to my office area. Being jammed in the corner was driving me crazy.

The room will look great when it is done. It is going to kill me to have 15 X 9 square feet of perfectly empty space sitting in the center of the room waiting for the long arm, but there you go. It will be easier to move things BEFORE she gets here than to try to do it once she arrives.

I don’t like to ask Husband to do stuff (he does too much as it is) but I am going to beg him to hang some florescent lights, pronto. It is dark as a cave in the area where I moved my sewing machine and cutting table. It should have bats and mushroom sprouting.

Husband is home and the girls are ecstatic. As expected, Evelyn has dropped me like a bad habit. Sometimes she reminds me of my old boyfriend. Flighty little faithless, lightweight, weaselly, good-for-nothing, self centered, lying, sniveling – oh wait - Back to Evelyn.

She sure is a daddy’s girl.

Photos - the first two are before I went nuts in the sewing room.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Dustbowl No More

Husband has been out of town looking at property in Oklahoma for the past couple of days. The girls just about drove me nuts last night because every time they heard a sound they raced to the back door shrieking, convinced he was home.

Evelyn generally snuggles at night but gets down from the bed when the lights go out. Last night, she stayed with me after she figured out he wasn’t going to be there to hog “her” side of the bed. She is a real daddy’s girl and it has been nice that she’s been staying close to me for attention. Of course, I will be yesterday’s garbage in her eyes when he walks through the door, tomorrow.

He just called after inspecting the potential property. It is a no-go. The house was really nice and the pond was great BUT about half of the property was a veritable swamp. The pond apparently is leaking onto the flat area downstream and he isn't convinced the dam will hold, over time. Probably needs to be rebuilt. It would cost a fortune to re-grade several acres. Moreover, the trees haven’t been maintained over the years and the growth around the pond was such that you’d need bucket trucks and an army of cutters to clean it out. There were also huge branches and other debris in the pond. There looked to be water damage on the house, the neighborhood was iffy and, well, I could go on but the bottom line is that we’ll keep looking.

He took the opportunity to visit with his family and drop in at Loveless Boots. He is astonished that he’d never visited them when he lived there and thinks they are terrific. He ordered some dress shoes. Or so he claims…

I had court this morning then swung by the bank (for long arm money) and visited the LQS for some more patriotic fabric. Spent too much. After that, I went to a Chinese restaurant and ate SUSHI (recall that Husband is out of town)! Actually, I am not sure a California roll should count as sushi. Then I went home and worked the telephone quite a bit. When Dr. Phil came on, I began rearranging furniture to make room for the long arm and that was a chore. I am pretty tired and will probably be sore, tomorrow. I still have a lot of moving to do. After that, I worked the telephone some more and tried to reassure one of my kids that “this too shall pass.” I hope it will. Late this afternoon, I went out for a home visit for a couple of hours and met a nice family. I got home around 7:30 and fed the girls. Not a hard day, but a long one.

Husband will be home, tomorrow.


Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Girls Gone Wild

I’m working at home today, mainly writing a guardian ad litem report and conversing with children, parents and psychologists by telephone. Let’s hope no attorneys call. Actually, I am just kidding. The lawyers I usually work with understand this area of law and are generally sane and reasonable. SANE and REASONABLE are attributes that are highly prized in my area of practice. Husband is en route to Oklahoma to look at a house we may bid on and it is just me and the girls (Jezebel and Evelyn). Woo Hoo! Bring on the whiskey, meth and cheetoes!

I am just about finished with the second patriotic block. I used most of the same fabrics as the first one but it looks quite different. It has 9 parts but is not a traditional 9 patch because the pieces aren’t all the same size.

See my rotating mat? That is great for trimming up paper pieced blocks.

I usually trim the inside seams (which connect to each other) but leave the outside edges floppy until I do the final squaring up. That usually serves to avoid ending up with a too-small block.

I first trimmed the interior pieces then pieced all the pieces together.

See the problem? Yup, I trimmed all four sides on the smaller sections instead of leaving a floppy outside edge on the white fabric end. This means that the widest the block can be is what you are looking at unless I “fix” it. It was supposed to be 12.5 inches wide but is closer to 11.5 inches wide. This pattern is always treacherous but normally I outwit it by leaving generous fabric ends.

Here it is under my 12.5 inch ruler that I use to square it up.

Well, Crap. I was hoping the tape measure was malfunctioning and my eyes were just buzzed on cheetoes. No such luck. See it? The outer edges of the inside pieces are too short. If I’d left the white fabric end floppy (untrimmed) all I’d need to do is plop that ruler on it and square her up. But no. I am an utter failure and shouldn’t be allowed to live.

So now, I add a red border so that the block is the correct size. We all know that it is going to all but disappear when I stitch all the blocks together. Not only that but candidly, that doesn't look too square to me... Double crap. Oh well.

I still like the pattern and am pretty pleased with the result!

Lunch is done. Off to work on that report.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Unrelenting Misery

Difficult work day because of two painful custody matters I’m involved in. Some of these families are in so much pain that you can’t help but shed a bit of emotional blood in sympathy. I feel a bit wiped out. In both these cases, a guardian has been separated from a child he/she dearly loves. Relations are so difficult between the parties that seeing that child is probably going to be a fist fight for the next 10 – 17 years. I wish more young people considered the consequences before jumping into relationships. Fools rush in where angels fear to tread is so common with the young. They don’t understand when you try to tell them. It is probably just as well. If the young actually knew what they were getting into, they’d be afraid to do half the things they will probably have to do.

Husband thinks he is in trouble because I am quiet but the truth is, I am just … weary.

But the good news is that I had a few minutes to work on another patriotic star block although I didn’t finish it. I also spoke to the Gammill people about when my new baby is due (also sent them some money). They are going for an April arrival which is great. I can call her my fiftieth birthday present! I guess she is a change-of-life baby? I’ve been staring at my sewing room trying to figure out how to reconfigure to make room for the new little bundle of joy. It is going to be a major overhaul, I’m afraid. I also arranged to get a designated credit card; set up a file for Penny Quilts in Quick Books; put together a file box; and ordered two books from Amazon on long arm quilting. If I decide to make a sideline of it, I’m on my way.

The fax machine is buzzing even though it is after 8:00 p.m. What do you want to bet that someone is filing another motion to have the other parent declared Satan?

I guess I’ll go read it because, otherwise, I will lie awake all night worrying about it.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Patriotic Quilt - From the Beginning

Now that I have completed all the blocks for the Think Romance F8th swap, I can start on the blocks for my patriotic quilt. For me, this is actually fun.

For the first block, I used the pattern “Germany Star” in Carol Doak’s Mariner’s Star book. I picked out a few red, white and blue fabrics.

After that, I cut out all the individual pieces.

The pattern is divided into eight pieces that you combine into four quarters, then two halves and finally put it all together.

I like to tear off the paper on the seams as I go because it makes a mess to have paper pieces hidden where seams meet.

Some people tear off the paper and clean it up THEN square it, but I start out with squaring it followed by cleaning it. You may have to re-square it after you iron it (because that flattens it out) but that is not really a big deal and you know you likely won’t accidentally clip too close and lose a point. If you are going to lose points, there really isn’t a good reason to do paper piecing in the first place!

Ta Da!!!!

Hmmm. The border kind of swallows the points. It would have “popped” better if I had used something that contrasted. Oh well. This picture is before it is cleaned up.

Oh, and I made a decision on the longarm – Gammill it is. I left word with the dealer on his voice mail.

Bevy of Beauties - Longarms at the Quilt Show

We went to the Hampton Quilt show, yesterday, and test drove several long arms. We started with the Gammill and I was favorably impressed with the Premier Plus. The dealer is in West Virginia and he seemed to know his stuff. I liked the feel, it looked easy to handle, felt great and I liked what I saw. I’d read that some people think it is too loud and so listened for that but it didn’t bother me. It helped that Husband was there to ask pertinent machine related questions but at a certain point, they started talking stress and switches and stressed metal and stretched machines and vibration and manly things so I just ate some of the chocolate they’d set out because it was not yet noon. The Gammill seemed like a sweet gal, the kind you’d want as a friend and neighbor. She is well respected in the quilting neighborhood, well made, the size is right and the price isn’t bad for a long arm.

From there, we cruised over to the APSQ display and I got to try out the Lenni. I have really been looking forward to checking out the Lenni and had already half decided that this was the girl for me. I was a little worried about her wheels because I read something about the direction they are attached. Not sure what that means but I am a veritable sponge and absorbed SOMETHING about wheels in my research - not sure what. Hmmm. Although I liked the feel, after listening to the guys discussing aluminum and steel and machine heads and stuff over at the Gammill table, the thing looked a little frail in comparison. I think that colored my perception. I kept expecting it to fall over or have something fall off. Moreover, the table didn’t look nearly as substantial. I think it used PVC. I am normally a big fan of PVC but this time, it didn’t sit well. I think at this point, I was in the mood to buy a bulldozer or something. For that matter, "Nothing Runs Like a Deer." She seemed a little flighty like she would abruptly flip off her panties and shave her head. I am not sure I really gave the Lenni a chance but I could barely wait to leave and hot foot it over to the Nolting.

The Nolting was cool but it was ugly. It also looked old and dirty. Now, I don’t think it was really old, ugly or dirty but for some reason, that was my impression. It was also very, very expensive. Husband seemed to like her but wasn’t saying much. I’ve been telling him the prices but wonder if it was starting to actually sink in.

We then checked out the A-1 and OMG, I fell in love. It was heavy and quiet and smooth and had a cool table and, and, and… was VERY expensive. About $7,000 more than the Gammill. It is headquartered in Springfield, MO. My FIL lives there – surely that is a sign? The thing was like a gold digger whispering in my ear, telling me it loved me and asking for my checkbook. We stayed there a long time. A lady in a nearby booth stopped us as we left to tell me that she had researched for two years before buying an A-1 and LOVED it!

We walked back to the Gammill and the sound it made (which didn’t bother me, before) was deafening. I felt like the whole coliseum was in the midst of an earthquake. It was a horrid, old, dried up thing with a hacking voice. I kept looking back over my shoulder at the A-1 siren whispering that $7,000 was NOTHING, NOTHING – a small price to pay for happiness. I could barely hear her because her voice was so low and quiet. I got to worrying that as soon as I left her side, someone else would buy up all the machines and there wouldn’t be any left for me.

Husband was asking me if I REALLY wanted an industrial strength long arm or would a hobby machine do.

If I buy the Gammill, today, I can save $120.00. Let’s see, that is a discount of about 1% if I rush a decision.

Maybe I need to check out the HQ16 (a hobby long arm). I didn’t see one at the show. We checked out some other hobby long arms – Tin Lizzie and Voyager. Very nice…sniff.

I want the A-1 for the price of a Tin Lizzie. I’m thinking the Gammill.

Stay tuned.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Diet Clarification and Colorful Blocks - update - picture added

I should probably clarify for those kind souls who are worried about my health – like my kids after reading my posts – that I probably am not in imminent danger of a heart attack or stroke. I could lose 5 – 10 pounds and eat too much junk, but my eating habits aren’t nearly as horrible as they sound. Well, okay, they are horrible but if I just watched what I ate and exercised, even a little, for a few weeks, I would be in pretty good shape for a middle aged lady. Of course, I may not be calculating metabolic changes that come with age. Ten years ago, I would have dropped two pounds if I gave up chips for a week. I've lost a couple of pounds, this week but I think that is a result of the past three weeks of cutting back. Of course, I gave up the "C" foods a few days ago and the weight loss from that could be what is really going on. If so, the metabolism is up and running as it should! (Back in the day, Husband said I had the matabolism of a humming bird).

I am in the process of finishing the LAST block for the Think Romance F8th swap. The recipient, whose fabric is yellow with pink hearts, plans to use the blocks to make quilts for her grandaughters. She requested bright, wild fabrics, stripes, polka dots and checks. She suggested a black and white background. It has been thoroughly traumatic for me to combine black and white stripes with yellow fabric with hearts, and green fabric with hearts. At the same time, I am really enjoying it. It is not my usual color choices and it is sort of fun to try something that I normally wouldn’t. I may not get it done this weekend because we are heading to Hampton, Virginia, to test drive long arms.
UPDATE - it is done!!

The weather was horrid, today, so it is just as well that I had court and couldn’t go.

We have been looking for property in Oklahoma and Husband is planning to fly out next week to look at what appears to be a nice property in Mustang. It is pricier than we’d intended but it is bigger than we intended, too. It has a pond, barn and nice outbuilding. There is enough room for 6 – 7 horses if we wanted them, but the most we’d get would probably be two, if any. If we buy, we’ll need to find someone to rent it for a few years until we return home. I have thought about moving back, sooner but even if I could leave Husband, neither of us could bear to be parted from the dogs!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The "C" Diet and Weight Loss Update

Here is an update on the 6:00 diet which I began about three weeks ago. Recall that the 6:00 diet consists of not eating after 6:00. The logic behind the diet is that, in my case, all I eat is junk after 6:00, anyway. I have only slipped three times and in two of those times, I ate less than 200 calories and it was between 6:00 and 7:00. I feel pretty good about it. So how much weight have I lost? Negative 2 pounds. Yup, gained two pounds.

I am not sure exactly how that has happened but am sure it is just temporary. It is wintertime and my body may be clinging to blubber as a survival instinct. Anyway, I read that it takes three weeks for a habit to take hold so I aimed at the 3 weeks before going to the NEXT PHASE OF THE DIET.

((Drum roll))

Phase B of the 6:00 diet is… the “C Diet!!”

What is the “C Diet?" Well, it is obvious. Cheese, chips, candy, chocolate (sob), carrots, cake, cheeseburgers, cheesecake – what do all these things have in common? They start with the letter “C.” The way the “C” diet works is that you don’t eat any “C” items after noon. The 6:00 p.m. diet remains in place. So if I want to pig out on cake and chocolate - or chocolate cake – I have to do it before noon. Which, frankly, is unlikely.

Not so crazy, eh?

I’ll keep you posted on my weight loss.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Presidents Day Weekend

Yesterday, I’d planned to work on taxes but a girlfriend invited me to go shopping so I did that, instead. I brought home purple towels and a bath mat and little bitty hand towels embroidered with “Welcome Spring” in pink, yellow and green. I couldn’t wait to put them in the hall bathroom. Husband was as thrilled as you might imagine.

For months, I’ve been happily planning to go to the regional quilt festival to test drive long arms. Hubby agreed to take off work and go with me. Unfortunately, I was just assigned to a case that day that is too important to skip or send a substitute. Bummer. Maybe we can go down that Saturday, instead. The crowds will be ugly, unfortunately.

I have been working on some blocks from the Carol Doak’s Yahoo paper piecing group. She posts Blocks of the Month and other blocks periodically. I have all her books, too. Here are some pictures of some works in progress.

Hope you are enjoying your President Day weekend!

photos - Actually, only the last one is from the Yahoo Group.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

The Beginning of Wisdom

Today, I swung by to see my “girls” at the group home, expecting them to be fairly surly to be locked up on Valentine’s Day. On the contrary – they were all in good spirits and happy to see me. Most of the girls have guardians ad litem but some visit more than others. The ones who have GALs who don’t visit sometimes feel gypped. Even the ones who get aggravated with me take a certain amount of pride in the fact that “their” GAL comes to see them. Sometimes I feel like the new bike at Christmas because they all want to show me off.

They have a program you may have heard about where they have a baby doll that they have to take care of. The girls begin the program by wearing a 9 month pregnancy suit so they know what it is like to be hauling around all that weight. After the baby arrives, the “mother” is equipped with a bracelet and if they leave the baby by more than a few feet, an alarm goes off and someone kidnaps the baby. The baby cries when it is hungry, cries with it needs comforting, cries when it needs a diaper change, cries when it needs burping, etc. Each cry is slightly different and the mother has to learn to recognize the different cries and take appropriate action. When they pick up the baby, they have to run their bracelet over the child so that it registers that it is actually its “mother.” They have diapers to change (the diaper has a sensor). They can bottle feed or breast feed. One of the “mothers” I spoke to had opted to wear a breast sensor because all she had to do was cuddle the baby to her chest and it would be soothed (there is a nursing “patch” with a sensor). She said it was easier than fixing the bottle because while she “heated” the milk the baby would scream. If she holds the baby incorrectly, it screams. The baby is programmed to go 24/7. She has to feed it, change it, sooth it, etc., round the clock. She has been missing a lot of sleep.

An interesting part of the program is that not all the girls get a baby. Only a couple at a time have that responsibility. Because of this, only the "mothers" have the responsibility of care and very quickly they find themselves dealing with the isolation that comes from having to stop what they are doing to care for an infant while their peers go their merry way. They don't really have the comfort that would come from being part of a group where everyone is in the same boat.

The “mother” had really been doing a lot of thinking as a result of the experiment. She was thinking a lot about the sorts of questions a real child might ask her, some day. “Do I want to tell my baby that I spent my 15th birthday in a group home?”
Bless her heart.
Happy Valentine’s Day.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Impromptu Quilt Block Show

Thought I'd post a few blocks made and received in my current Think Romance Fat 8th block swap. The first few are blocks I've received. You can see the focus fabric I used. I think they are coming together really well. I am not posting all of them but only because some are on the hard drive of a different computer than I am using to post this. Some of the ones not posted are exceptional.

Here are a few I've sent out. You can see they are pretty diverse - that is because for each one, I began with a different fabric and tried to match with material from my stash. Sometimes the ladies have specific requests on colors and so forth, but most just ask that we don't get wacky on them. Since you have a limited amount of fabric to work with, it gets tricky at times to pick a pattern where you have enough fabric. You sort of have to be selective about the colors to make sure you have enough to finish a block.


Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Patriotic Block Nonswap and Garlic Baloney

On the HGTV message board, they are gearing up for a Patriotic Star Paper Pieced F8th swap which is similar to the "Think Romance" one I am currently participating in. Recall that in a F8th swap, the participants all send each other some fabric. Each recipient creates a block of her choice by combining each received fabric with fabric from her own stash. Then, she returns each completed block to the original senders (and they return hers to her). The main differences in the next swap (the PSPP swap) is that all the blocks must be paper pieced and they'll use red, white and blue fabric. I generally paper piece in whole or in part so it seems made in heaven, for me. All the same, I am not planning to join because I try to pace myself on swaps and avoid doing one back to back. They tend to take up all my weekends and spare time. I know I will be kicking myself because it is being hosted by a fabulous hostess and I suspect it will be composed of some fabulous swappers who I know from experience are talented, conscientious and fun to swap with.

So here is my plan:

I did some online shopping for red, white and blue fabric. I ordered some fat quarters and a few are from the Moda Hamptons collection (see picture, above). This fabric will serve as my private “swap” fabrics and I’ll follow along with the HGTV swap at my own pace, adding fabric to complete the blocks from my current stash. This whole scheme to have a private "swap" is just so sick and twisted that even I can't miss how warped my thinking has become... But all the same, I really HAVE ordered new fabric and plan to pretend it is stuff I received in the mail (well, I really will know it didn't come in the mail). Anyone creeped out by this should stop reading, now. It is making ME uncomfortable, too. I will post some of the blocks on my blog if I don't get committed to a nervous hospital before I'm done.

Or maybe I will just work on some string blocks.

Update on my progress with the 6:00 p.m. diet:

No weight loss, so far. I have to hurry before the hormones kick in, again, to swell me up by 6 – 8 pounds worth of water weight. I didn’t have time to eat, yesterday, and drove into the garage at 5:57. I raced in and crammed some cheese, craisens and a cookie in my mouth. I didn’t swallow it by 6:00 but I managed to get ‘er down by 6:02.

After reading my posting about my fabulous diet, one of my daughters is concerned that I will have a heart attack. I DO probably need some more green food.

I didn’t have time to eat, today, and am surprised that it is nearly 9:00 and I am not even hungry. Someone sent us some garlic baloney for Christmas, which arrived today. Amazingly, I decided I just wasn't interested. The diet is working!

I hope I don't lose too much, too fast.

top photo - Hamptons by Moda