"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

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Back from Oklahoma

Just got back from the trip to Oklahoma. Nothing I can say will adequately express how pleased I am with the new home. I didn't find one thing "wrong" with it that wasn't simply a repair that we knew about, already. Moreover, the more I looked at the neighborhood, the more happy I was about it. By telephone, I asked husband what he would do if I refused to come back. He said he'd throw the girls in the van and start driving west...

I saw the pony. Poor, boney thing. I understand he is going to go back to the renters so hopefully, he'll be taken care of. For now, he is staying with a neighbor.

On Sunday, I looked up to see a large road runner standing in the driveway, worm in his mouth, looking at me as if to say, "Howdy." It was as big as a turkey. At night, I heard the coyotes howling. It was sort of surreal but I liked it. The house was so substantial that even in the midst of a ferocious windstorm, you could hear a pin drop, inside.

I didn't want to leave.

Here are a few pictures.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Free range pony

More about the pony – it is not really happy news.

Today, the mother of the renter showed up to make sure the pony had water. Turns out, the pony is crippled and had been sort of a “neighborhood pony” (call it “Gus” but from husband’s description, it sounds more like a she) that wandered around the neighborhood, loose. Kind of like a wild mustang, I suppose. The renter had his own pony and Gus was lonesome and wouldn’t leave. Out of kindness, they tossed Gus in with their pony. She promptly ate most of the foliage in the backyard.

The renter moved out “his” pony, but left Gus behind. Husband explained to the renter’s mother that since we aren’t living there, we can’t care for Gus and animal control was probably going to come get her. Happily, another neighbor said Gus could come live at their house so they took her over there. Husband says the poor thing’s feet are crippled and it was painful to see her try to walk.

So now Gus is gone but maybe I will get to see her when I get out there, tomorrow. I will try to take a picture and if I can, I will share, next week.

I’d planned to take the train to the Baltimore airport, tomorrow. It was going to be an all day endurance race of taking a couple of trains and bus shuttle, followed by hanging out with all the good people at the airport for several hours. Plans have changed. My neighbor has been wanting to take her kids to the Baltimore National Aquarium so I’m going with them and they’ll drop me off in time to catch my flight. That will be a lot more fun.

Girls locked in with a fool

Husband is out of town and I carefully locked up the house before going to bed, last night, including placing the “portable deadbolt” that my mother gave me on the bedroom door.

No one broke in.

This morning, the girls were jumping around and NEEDED to go outside. I went to open the bedroom door but the portable deadbolt had jammed. Long story short, it took nearly 30 minutes to jimmy the thing open. At one point, I worked up into such a sweat that I shed most of my pajamas. The thought of a near naked, middle aged woman jumping up and down yanking on a door knob, snapping not so nice words and glaring at the dogs to get BACK horrifies ME. I can assure you that the girls were utterly confused. Now, my hands are stiff, bruised and there are two small blisters on my right hand. I am just grateful the house did not catch fire.

And for my next act …

Monday, April 21, 2008

Update on the new house

As I mentioned, we closed on the Oklahoma house last Wednesday. We just talked to our agent. He is out at the new house and had to haul in a dumpster for the garbage left by the renter. He looked up and discovered THEY HAD LEFT THE PONY!!!!!!!!!!!!

Words fail me…

I wouldn't have minded a day or two but at this point, someone should have either made arrangements or picked up the phone...

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Back when I was young

My mother died about a year ago (Mother’s Day weekend). We moved her here for her last weeks and she died at our home. I have steadfastly avoided going into her room since then unless I absolutely have to and only for a few seconds at a time. No one else smells it but there has been an odor in there that makes me sad.

Anyway, today, I resolutely decided it was time. I carried in a large trash sack and various boxes to comb through her papers, pictures, jewelry and miscellaneous. I told myself I’d only stay about 15 minutes, then hit it again, in a couple of weeks. Baby steps. I ended up staying about an hour and never noticed a smell. I threw out a lot of trash (old bills, receipts, manuals for small appliances, etc.) I assembled her jewelry into bags and put the pictures all in one place. I found things that had belonged to my grandfather, legal documents and letters from my brother and me. I found one letter that I’d written her when I was about 14 or 15 years old. I was surprised that I haven’t changed all that much, personality-wise.

I found another letter that I wrote to her when I was pregnant with my first child. In the letter, I remarked that my fingers had suddenly swelled so much that I had to take off my rings. A glance at the date told me that I wrote the letter 3 weeks before my son’s birth.

Now, as it turns out, the reason my hands swelled was because I was developing toxemia. I didn’t know at the time what toxemia is and when I wrote the letter, I didn't even know I was sick. The letter was written when I was innocent, ignorant and seventeen. It was an odd feeling, reading that letter with the benefit of years, experience and education. In an odd way, it felt like I was a mother reading a letter from my own child. It was like reading a letter from me, to me.

In reading the letter, I actually experienced the same sense of protectiveness that my own children inspire. Odd and sort of otherworldly, actually. I had an irrational desire to somehow pick up the phone and tell [me] to get to the doctor.

The older I get, the more I understand just how young I was when I was young. I suspect there are a lot of elderly people who would smile and think I am just a whippersnapper, now.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Oklahoma House

We closed on the Oklahoma house, last night. We are very excited and happy about that. We'd wanted to wait until the end of the month to allow the current renter to finish out his lease (they are building their own home). A week or so ago, the seller started insisting that we move up the closing date and said the renter would be out by the 14th. That kind of jammed us up because we already had plane tickets to go later in the month but the seller said, in so many words - sue me if you want! Rather than sue, we shrugged and said, "Whatever." I assumed (turns out, wrongly) that the renter's house was completed and that was why they wanted to speed things up.

The seller was late on sending in his paperwork and the renter was late in moving out. As of last night, there was still furniture in the house and barn, and a pony in the pasture. Come to find out, the renter's house wasn't ready. The seller literally kicked the renter and the renter's family OUT with next to no warning! They even have small children. They have to find a temporary place to stay and even store their furniture while their house is being finished. They were so distressed that they were planning to just abandon some nice furniture, last night. They really didn't have a place to store it and had run out of time. Our agent went out to do the walk through and encouraged the man to go ahead and take his furniture because he'd regret it later, if he didn't. Our agent, a king among men, also helped load the truck... I can't imagine that stress for this family.

This morning, Husband called the renter. We wanted him to know we hadn't been the ones behind this ridiculous situation. The man sounded sick as a dog and we are sure he was already sick last night while trying to keep his family under a dry roof. At this point, we don't know if the pony is still in our pasture. Husband didn't ask and the man didn't offer. We will pretend that the pony is not there if it comes down to it. Same with any furniture left in the barn... (we'll deal with that stuff next week when we get there).

The good news is that the man and his family apparently took good care of the property and left it in good shape. He reports that it is a very nice neighborhood with good neighbors who took the trouble to come see him and wish him well as he left. We need to make sure that they know we didn't have any part of throwing that poor family out to the street.

photo - mailbox

Monday, April 14, 2008

Fall/Winter Fat 8th Swap

Last Fall, I was part of a Fat Eighth Swap with the ladies on the HGTV Message Board. The theme was Fall/Winter and a lot of people picked gorgeous holiday fabric. I selected a line called "Angels Among Us" which I am certain caused some dismay because it is such a, hmm, hum drum color. Nothing dramatic about it. Regardless, the ladies did a spectacular job creating blocks.

So here are a few on my design wall, prior to quilting.

Don't they look "flat?"

I decided to try to pull in all the colors by making a border from the scraps.

On a wild hair, I threw the top on the long arm last night to see what I could come up with.

I had some problems with tension, thread breakage and slipped stitches but cleaned the longarm and otherwise tinkered with it and got that straightened out. It was a great learning experience. I spent about an hour and a half on it.

I threw the quilt into the washer, last night, tossed it into the dryer and here is how it looked, this morning:

I'm pretty tickled with it.

I couldn't resist taking a few pictures with the girls. They were as thrilled about that as they look in the pictures.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Update on Update on the Table Topper - edited again


I should have quilted down more of the green part. It ballooned like a jelly fish!
Here is the part I added:

I messed with trying to quilt down some of the wayward parts of the quilt but was too lazy and unprofessional and stupid to properly restrain the quilt. Here is a picture post binding - DO NOT LOOK AT THE BINDING. It sucks. I was in a hurry and took shortcuts. Also - note to self - prewash binding material...

Here are some of the blocks.

See the flower panto?

For those who aren't quilters - thought you'd like to see a nice contrast - this is that same block before quilting. Doesn't the quilting give it depth and interest? I hope you will take note that the angles of both shots are the same. That is on purpose because sometimes I am brilliant.

This is a corner. Remember to not look at the binding. Actually, my son-in-law did that. Yeah, right. It was my son-in-law. I can't keep him away from the quilting machine. Right. That's what happened. He makes all my mistakes.

The wreath actually turned out kind of nice. You can see the squiggly lines around it - I added those after I washed it to try to get some control back.

Edited to add - I think the inside of the wreath probably needs some control - it looks like a portabella mushroom.

Say no to Oxycontin!

My thought for the day after threecupsofcoffeeanditisonly6:30: I'd rather deal with a heroin addict than someone with an oxycontin addiction. The heroin addicts have better sense and self control ...

Mellow Friday

Yesterday was a slow day at work so I decided to work on a table topper for my eating area. I have a glass table and like to put on something with color. Since January, there has been a pink/Valentiny Day mat with pieced hearts on it.

So, yesterday, I began piecing together some blocks with stuff I had on hand and as I finished the first one, I realized that I was using some left over fabrics from the Think Romance quilt. It dawned on me that I could just use some of those blocks and get the table topper done, quicker.

I pieced the tabletopper, then flopped it onto the longarm for quilting. Now I need to stitch on a binding. Here it is:

You can’t see it but I did a panto across the three pieced blocks and put in wreaths on the green. Pretty pleased with them. Since this is not an item intended for heavy duty work, I just used some pink linen from the godforsakenwalmart bargain shelf for the backing.

Husband turned 50, yesterday. He is so busy working that he hardly looked up. I understand the title company handling the buying of our Oklahoma house has our paperwork and money, the utilities are set to be switched to our name and all is proceeding as hoped. Let’s pray that they don’t find something dreadful at the walkthrough.

I was assigned a new case from one of my favorite judges, yesterday. Lately, I have not been getting too many new cases, but lawyer friends tell me no one else has, either. It appears to be a particularly challenging case and I like that. Since the judges have discretion to select the guardian ad litem of their choice, I always wonder what they were looking for when they send a particular one to me (and what it says about their opinion of me). I used to get a ton of CHINS cases (children in need of services or children in need of supervision). They are very challenging cases and the new one is like that. However, all of a sudden, I began getting many, many custody cases. I can’t imagine why – you have to be a real diplomat to deal with parents in the middle of WWIII and I’m no diplomat. The common factor in both types (other than involving a child) is that the parents frequently don’t have an attorney. I suspect the courts sometimes use GALs to keep things on track and make sure things are going as they should. We can’t give legal advice to the parents (although they all want us to) but we CAN explain the process so they have a better idea about what is coming next.

I also tend to get cases where the parents aren’t doing their job or the child is just out of control – I suspect because the court knows I will put on a motion to transfer custody if need be. As often as not, I can withdraw the motion but sometimes it takes that possibility to get a parent to insist that their child go to school or cooperate with counseling or anger management. I’ve got a HUGE fan club, as you might imagine.

Son sent an e-mail, yesterday, entitled “From the streets of Manhattan.” My heart began doing weird flip flops for fear I would open the e-mail and discover a horrible picture of terrorist carnage that he, apparently, narrowly escaped (non parents have NO idea what planet motherhood looks like). Instead, there was a darling picture he snapped of a Samoyed strolling down the street. AND HE THOUGHT OF HIS MOM!!!!!

I’m beaming.

Older daughter just learned she is heading out to godforsakenlosangeles for several months. I stayed up late researching earthquake fault lines in the area. I am trying to find an online site to show crime statistics, also. I hope she doesn’t get recruited by a gang or get forced to have cosmetic surgery. She better not bring home some nancy boy movie star for my approval because that won’t do, either.

Off to bind the table topper.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Playing Catch Up

Today was really slow. I didn’t have court and although the phone rang quite a bit this morning, it has remained silent since about 11:00. That may mean poverty is around the corner, but I might as well make good use of my time. I cleaned house a bit, then settled in to work on another block for the patriotic nonswap I’ve mentioned before.

I decided to make a “Sweden” block from my Carol Doak’s Mariner’s Compass book.

Then, I went shopping in my stash (I love CD holders to hold fabric).

I cut out the fabric, in advance, then stitched it in assembly line fashion so it went quickly.

I think it turned out pretty well.

Since I used fabric from the same line (The Hamptons by Moda) on the earlier blocks, they match pretty well.

I have been watching with horror the airport debacle and all those stranded passengers. I keep thinking they need to airlift food or something. Last year I was caught in the Dallas airport for nearly three days and that was awful. I keep thinking that SOMEONE is missing their child’s wedding, the last days of a sick loved one, a honeymoon, or a once-in-a-lifetime vacation. I feel so darn sorry for those people. I rarely waste much energy being angry at big companies but this is just ridiculous and totally avoidable. They ought to be ashamed of themselves.

Done with the taxes, wired the money for the Oklahoma house. Tomorrow is husband’s 50th birthday and I’ve wrapped his presents and signed his cards (including the one from the dogs). I haven’t felt so caught up on things in 5 years. BIG SIGH … feels good!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Dive bombing Turkeys

Productive day. Picked up the tax documents; Fed Exed the House closing documents; Spent 1.5 hours in the Leper Colony (DMV) getting a new driver’s license (set to expire on my birthday in 2013 – I’ll be living in Oklahoma by then!) Good god, surely those places could be run more efficiently; Court appearance in one county; raced to a second county and a wild turkey swooped across the road in front of my car en route; court appearance in the second county; spoke by telephone to two of my kids; grocery shopped; made it home before 6:00 p.m. and had a glass of cheap wine.

photo - turkey off the internet

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Chain E-Mail

This morning was an exercise in frustration. We are trying to get the taxes taken care of; husband has a HUGE work-related event next Tuesday that is keeping him chained to the block; and they insisted on moving up the closing on the Oklahoma house to next Monday. We’d planned to attend, in person, but now we’ll have to do it through the mail.

At 10:00 a.m., I got a call to come pick up the tax papers and prepared to head twenty miles down the road to the CPA because I didn’t have court, today. I arranged for the house closing documents to arrive via e-mail so I could print them out and have them notarized at the CPA’s office – killing two birds with one stone. Feeling pretty efficient, at this point! Before I could slip out the door, the Court called with an emergency removal case and they needed a guardian ad litem at noon. I promised to be there. It is on the way, as it turns out, and will help pay for my gas money! Plus, it helps out the Court.

The promised Oklahoma house e-mail had not arrived by 11:00. I called to ask them to resend it. About that time I began getting e-mail after e-mail after e-mail from an elderly, retired lady who I used to work with and who is quite a pistol. Unfortunately, she regularly sends me jokes, pictures of old people and freaky weather phenomenon, and tirades about illegal immigrants, terrorists, Obama and Hillary. She also frequently sends horrible stories that she has not vetted for accuracy (none are true) and lots of cute stories about children saying things god would approve of. She sends lots of chain e-mail sorts of missives that say that if I am a real friend, I will send it back (I never do but she keeps sending me things telling me how swell I am so I guess she forgives me). Once she sent something that said I would suffer a horrible accident (or my children would suffer a horrible accident) if I did not respond. I asked her to not send anymore like that. Things slowed down for a couple of weeks. Since then. I’ve not gotten any that are THAT bad but I don’t know if that is just luck or she is actually putting some thought into what she is forwarding.

So I sat there, watching the clock, white knuckled, screaming at the computer to hurry up and go through the virus protection so I could get my legal documents and make it to court on time. Delete... delete... delete... delete... delete... delete... delete... DELETE!! Attachments and video and pictures on all of them. I honestly thought about calling to ask her to shut the damned thing off but she is 1,300 miles away and had probably already sent the things through hyperspace, clogging up my computer. Plus, I don’t have her number.

I finally gave up at 11:25 when the 8th stupid e-mail was coming through. I barely made it to court on time and would have been late if I had not parked in the parking lot by social services that is restricted to social workers (If questioned, I planned to tell them that I was going to court on a DSS case and hope for the best).

So I will make the trip to the CPA’s office in the morning. It cost us a day that we didn’t need to lose but I expect it will all come out okay. I thought about telling my elderly friend to stop sending so many e-mails but I just don't have the heart. Normally, it is simple enough to just delete them. Today was just one of those days where NOTHING was simple.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Ugly Duckling and Swan

This has been a long day – lots of waiting to not get a whole lot done. However, the day started out well. My hair actually cooperated and I decided to wear my red suit. I like the suit because the jacket is long and covers my hips. Since this is my birthday week and my darling neighbor is a brownie maker, I have been downing them like there is no tomorrow – which at my age is a distinct possibility. The suit covering the hips made me feel a little less grotesque, although I suspect it really just makes me look sort of Hillaryish.

After a long, drawn out morning in the circuit court followed by a mad scramble to drive to the next county for the 1:30 docket, we waited some more. I was guardian ad litem in a social services case and amused myself by watching the father argue with his court appointed attorney. Off to my left, the court appointed attorney was trying to make the father understand that the court was not going to return custody to him when he has an outstanding protective order against him arising from another situation that just happened a couple of months ago. It seems the child's step mother had attacked him with a teapot, things went south and the police were called. “I thought you were on my side!!!!!,” the dad exclaimed.

"YOU AREN'T ALLOWED IN YOUR HOME - HOW CAN THEY SEND THE CHILD TO LIVE THERE!!!??," demanded his exasperated attorney.

And off to my right, the mother, an utterly gorgeous East African mother of six was shouting that the social worker was fat. She was calling her something that I THINK was a tribal slur (I think she was calling her a member of a lower caste african group).

Behind the mother, the child was tending to her younger four siblings.

Directly in front of me, the mother’s attorney was trying to convince me that it was a good idea for the child to return home because the mother had done everything they’d asked her to do (besides stomping out of the psychiatrist’s office in a rage and refusing to participate in counseling). I just cocked an eyebrow at mom's attorney and said nothing.

The child was not returned home to her parents.

As we left the courthouse, the mother continued to harangue the social worker who whisked the child (and herself) out of the building. I hung back to try to pour oil on troubled waters and persuade the parents to do what they need to do so that the child can return home. The mother abruptly changed the subject - “How old do you think I am? Just tell me, how old do I look???? I’m not fat like that stupid social worker!”

Well, no, she is not. In fact, it is amazing that she has had ONE child, much less six. She has the body of a twenty year old who works out and there is not one sign that gravity has been interfering in her life. But what a question!

I knew she has a fifteen year old so I shaved a couple of years and guessed, “Thirty.” She beamed. “THIRTY-SIX!! – About the same as you, yes?”

I beamed. “Fifty, this week.”

“NO!!,” she shouted, “NO!!!!! I have NEVER seen a fifty year old white woman look so young! Such skin!!"(try to keep in mind that cultural differences might make her less likely to choose her words carefully). She called over her ex husband and told him how old I am.

“NO!!, he shouted, “You must be living a good life!”

Hard to believe these people are nuts, actually.

So I floated on home. I hadn’t had time to change when husband got home from work. I sashayed in, feeling young and gorgeous. I kid you not, the first words out of his mouth were, “Wow! You look like you are wearing a band uniform!”

On the HGTV message board, we had an ugly duckling swap. The rules of the swap are that we exchanged a half yard of ugly fabric and the recipient added their own fabric to try to turn it into a swan.

Now, some ladies sent out fabric that was actually quite pretty. Being a literal person, I did not. Here is a picture of my ugly duckling fabric.

This stuff is butt ugly and I can’t believe I actually paid something for it. All I can think is that it must have been very cheap.

So here it is on the Gammill after fabric was added to make her look pretty.

I decided to use this to quilt my very first real (not practice) quilt.

And here it is after it came off the Gammill but before the binding.

I am not sure what I am going to do with it – perhaps I will use it as a sewing machine cover. The lady who pieced it did a terrific job.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Not so lazy Saturday

Today, I’d set my alarm to go off in time for me to be able to drive the hour and a half or so to a class for my Gammill Owners Longarm quilting group.

I woke up at 6:45 a.m. (quite late, for me) and realized that the darn alarm was SET but I’d cleverly set it to not go off on WEEKENDS. No worries. I jumped up, downed coffee, checked my e-mail, flamed someone on a message board who thinks people who own purebred dogs are snobs, ate a slab of cheese and some brownies, and headed down the road. Husband had been invited but declined to attend. I think I saw him in the rear view mirror dancing a jig because he actually had some time to himself. Traffic was no problem and I made it with time to spare.

It was a fun class and I met a lot of nice people. I can’t say that I learned a lot of NEW things, but it was certainly worthwhile because it gave me a chance to review what I’d been taught in my initial lesson. The review was excellent because it gave me peace of mind that I was doing certain things correctly, and reminded me about a few things that they taught me but I'd forgotten.

When I got home around 5:00 p.m., husband and I had a glass of relaxation on the deck.

After that, I took a quick nap.

When I woke, I worked a little on the Think Romance Quilt. There is one particular block that I really, really like because the fabrics chosen and design are particularly fetching. I picked it up to add a line of pink/white squares and realized that the block was a half inch too big. Accordingly, that cuts off the points when I try to incorporate it into the quilt. It is such a pretty block that I wanted to see if I could tinker with it so that it fits.

I prepared to dismantle it and cut down some of the pieces when I realized that a quick stitch along two center seams (which for some reason had been stitched with a 1/8th inch seam, which might be why it was too large to begin with) would do the trick. So I did that and now it is the right size and all is swell.

Here are some of the blocks, in progress, on my design wall (the photo does NOT include the block I doctored).

The design wall is way too small to hold all the blocks but I wanted to see how it was coming together. Take a look at the design I posted on March 31 to compare how it is coming along.

I’m scratching my head and thinking this quilt is going to be way too big. I'll decide, later, if I want to sash it. If I do, I think it would be a small sash in a neutral color. Sure would help to line up all those seams, wouldn't it?

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Lake Aluma

I grew up at Lake Aluma, a township right outside of Oklahoma City. My son and his wife gave me a Lake Aluma clock for my birthday - isn't it darling!? I am hanging it in my office so that whenever I look at it, I will have fond memories of their sweetness, and my hometown.

Thanks, kids!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

The wheel of life

Today is the last day in my life that I will be in my forties. Where did all the years go? I've got so many things I'd like to accomplish. This is a great time of life!

photo - mother, maiden, crone

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Trip back home

I had reason to be in Richmond, Virginia, today. I managed to stop by Quilting Adventures, a lovely quilt shop in the area. I thoroughly enjoyed my visit and, of course, bought some fabric I didn't need. I didn’t find any that I just had to have for the Think Romance quilt. Here is their website: www.quiltingadventures.com.

Didn’t get any quilting done, today.

We heard from our real estate agent that our new home in Oklahoma will no longer have a renter by April 15. We’d been waiting until they left to set the closing. Husband will probably go out to do it in person, and I will sign the papers, here. I will probably fly out the next week to check it out. If we didn’t have the girls, we’d go together but neither of us wants to board them. We plan a road trip back in June and will take them with us, then.

photo - new house - I absolutely love the Oklahoma sky. Oklahoma was named the 7th cleanest city based, primarily, on air quality.