"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

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Pass the Jackhammer

Remember the border I was working on? Usually, I use glue stick and lightly dab it on. I still use pins, just not so many. This time, I followed the directions from a video tutorial and see how beautifully it turned out? The difference was that I used regular Elmer's washable school glue and used a lot of it, as suggested in the tutorial. That border is not going anywhere and I don't have to worry about getting stuck by the pins. I hate getting stuck by pins. When considering a hobby whose enthusiasts frequently discuss good methods for removing blood, it should give you pause.

Ahem. A problem. Shoving a needle through the dried glue is like trying to tear down the Berlin Wall in 1965. I spent an hour on it a couple of nights ago and managed to stitch about 2.5 feet. Because of the glue, I can't pull the stitches tight. I am dreading doing the rest of it. I will probably still use washable glue method on future quilts but not so much and not so close to the edge. This is what I get for enjoying the hiss of the hot iron hitting the glue. Yeah, tell me I'm an idiot.

Jezebel is looking and feeling great. More muzzle pictures.

I think I miscalculated a few days ago when I said we were at the peak on leaves. This is today:

Another quilt picture. I wish that binding was done.

Pretty little Evelyn:

I took the day off for a doctor's appointment. I got some questionable test results back on Tuesday at my annual exam and my GP, who is a bit excitable, sent me to a specialist. No one really thinks it will amount to anything but I have to get all kinds of tests and crap that will make me nervous until I get the news that I am A-OKAY. I have X-rays on my kidneys and stuff on Monday (yes, they have to check for tumors but that is just standard for this) and then we'll see what happens next.

I was the only female patient at the office and was surrounded by men who, if the pamphlets are any indication, suffer from prostate problems, erectile dysfunction and loss of bladder control. There were three men there and I entertained myself by wondering who had what malady. One guy had a cast on his foot but he said got that from falling off a ladder. Unless he landed funny, I doubt that was connected to his reason for seeing a urologist.

The doctor came out and called my name, "Mr. Penny?" He looked a bit startled or embarrassed when I announced, "That would be me." I sort of felt out of place, frankly. He had several models of prostates and male genitalia in the examining room but nothing for the ladies unless they are kind of freaky. Made me wonder if he saw many women patients and whether I was in the right place. I hope he knows what he is doing.

The doctor seemed nice. He had a picture that his child drew when she was a tot. It was posted on his wall directly beneath a scale model of male genitalia that was apparently provided by the makers of Viagra. At least that is what was written on the side. I remarked that it was a bit startling to see a baby's drawing right beneath that particular model and he looked somewhat alarmed and said that it had been there so long that he didn't even "see" it anymore - perhaps he should move it. I suppose most of his men patients wouldn't say anything because it wouldn't strike them as wierd. The one or two women patients that he has likely treated (not counting me) wouldn't say anything for fear he would put something in their file suggesting they are a little creepy. The tot's pictures appeared to be drawn by a first grader who, I am sad to say, displayed little innate talent. The drawing tablet had two trees on it. It was quite precious. The artist is now in college, which tells you a bit about how long it has been hanging there. So to speak.

I seriously considered entitling this post, "How's it Hanging?" but decided that would be too crude. Chalk up the thought to my being a bit unsettled over my medical situation. I hope I don't end up with an enlarged prostate because I have absolutely no use for one.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Munchausen's Syndrome by Proxy

Have you ever heard of Munchausen's Syndrome by Proxy? Here is an article that touches on it. I can't say I agree with all that it says but it is pretty much on point, seems to me.

In a nutshell, MSP generally involves a caregiver - in most cases the mother - who makes a child sick or fabricates symptoms in the child so that the poor thing endures medical procedures. Sometimes, the incentive appears to be that the caregiver enjoys the praise heaped upon her when she "saves" her child (mouth to mouth, quickly getting them to the doctor, that sort of thing). Some just seem to be addicted to the drama that comes with being in a medical crisis or being the parent of a seriously ill child. I have also seen some parents who seem motivated for tangible reasons - one mother milked the public and governmental agencies for all sorts of assistance, including housekeeping services based on claims that she was too exhausted from caring for a "special needs" child to cook and clean.

When I first went into the Guardian ad litem business, I'd heard of MSP but assumed it was so rare that I would probably never see a case.

Would that have been so.

Perhaps it is just the luck of the draw, but I have had a number of cases specifically deemed by the court to involve MSP. I get one or two cases a year. I have had a number of other cases that have elements of MSP but for reasons specific to each, there was no official "finding" by either a court or Child Protective Services.

A common fact pattern in MSP cases is for the mother to suffocate a young, pre verbal child. Then she resuscitates him/her and is hailed as a hero for being quick thinking and decisive. In the beginning, there is no clear cut medical reason for the child passing out. Alternatively, the doctors come up with a working hypothesis and the parent now has a name for the alleged malady. The mother continues this behavior for a year or two. Once the child gets old enough to tell what is going on, the mother switches to a younger, pre-verbal child. Now she claims some sort of genetic disposition to "passing out" exists in her offspring. Some of these mothers have one or more children who, tragically, die of SIDS. Ominously, many are outside the age range you'd expect when SIDS is involved. There may be questions raised but a lot of times they get away with it. And they'd completely get away with it if they'd stop.

I've have several of my parents get caught when they were filmed in the hospital placing a pillow over the child's face. (After the death of one of the mothers, one of the children who we never knew had been a "target" described how she would put a plastic bag over his head and force him to pass out). In each of these cases, the doctors have deliberately admitted the child to the hospital to a special room with cameras to monitor the parent after the doctor became suspicious. There must be an element of compulsion in some if a parent would risk getting caught in the hospital.

A second common fact pattern that I've seen are children who allegedly have reflux. The mother insists they can't keep anything down. I am horrified at the number of low weight children who, when I first meet them, have had a G-tube installed so that their dear, dear overworked mother can feed them intravenously. These mothers also tend to insist that their child has allergies and are prone to infections. Some of the kids I've worked with are so messed up that they aren't even walking. Lab work and cameras have shown the mother injecting all kinds of nasty things in the child. It is sickening. Even in the absence of lab work or candid camera shots, separating the child from his mother has resulted in miraculous recoveries.

A third common fact pattern are children who suffer mysterious seizures. I've had cases where the mothers were actually injecting the children with insulin and the lab work came back showing the children were full of non natural insulin in their system.

In each case, the mother is sweet, gentle, eager to please. There is not a snarly bone in her body. She will look at you with gentle eyes, feign confusion and beg you to help her child. In every case that I have worked with, the more I review the medical records, the more horrified I get. Repeatedly, I've had cases where the mother claims the the seizures began after a car wreck or a near drowning (in one case, both). Once you start to track it down, you usually discover that the alleged symptoms began before the alleged precipitating event.

In most of the more significant cases I have personally dealt with, there have been other dead children. Their deaths have typically been attributed to SIDS or a car wreck or some bizarre allergic reaction. It is not until subsequent children start displaying similar symptoms that someone, a doctor usually, starts looking back and asking questions.

Doctors find themselves in a tough spot. With nonverbal children, doctors typically rely upon the reports of a child's caregiver and will assume their reports are correct or mostly correct. Imagine the position a doctor finds himself/herself, to have needlessly put an infant through a serious, invasive procedure. What doctor wouldn't want to believe that his actions were the right ones? I have seen a few doctors who dig in and don't want to admit they were duped. Most, however, when shown the facts, are pretty candid that they relied on the mother's reports in making their medical decisions. They aren't happy about it but their tend to be honest.

MSP is not a mental illness although the manner in which it is discussed sometimes makes it sound like it is. No, the experts describe MSP as a behavior or a type of abuse. One way to think about it is to compare it to sexual abuse. Sexual abuse is not a mental illness - but sometimes it can be the result of a mental illness. Not all the time, however - sometimes, the perpetrator is just twisted.

Experience has taught me that these things happen. My research has taught me that this is not a new phenomenon. Some of these mothers strike me as flat out crazy in a sneaky sort of way. I get all that. What I DON'T get, is how in my cases, the fathers can look the other way. To a man, they have been in complete denial. Even when faced with the evidence and the likelihood that they are going to lose their surviving children, they tend to steadfastly stand by their woman and believe it is all a mistake. His family despairs that he will ever see the light. I've seen fathers who watch their children go into foster care rather than face reality. I have seen them listen to expert witnesses who describe in meticulous detail how a particular child was injected with insulin and the husband/father still simply sits in denial.

A related fact pattern I've seen are women who seem addicted to going to the doctor, themselves. They have ovarian cysts. They sprain their ankles. They have migraines. Their allergies are out of control. Their pregnancies are nightmares. When Junior comes along, sure enough, she has him in the emergency room several times a month. These mothers aren't exactly lying about symptoms, and they aren't taking steps to make their children sick. They are, however, addicted to hospitals and will use any excuse to get their child there. Their kids never have a cold. They have pneumonia. Their children never have a 24 hour bug - they have e coli poisoning. The doctor may throw out some possibilities about what is ailing their child and the mother will swear to anyone who will listen that they think her child "probably" has cancer. They may call their boyfriend at work, their mother, their boss or their best friend, crying, for sympathy. I don't know if these are women displaying a mild case of MCP or they are just attention needing, in general.

At the end of the day, even if she is not doing anything to make him sick, Mom is sitting in the emergency room with a half smile on her face as everyone pays attention to HER. Her little one sits next to her, terrified that he is about to get another shot or poked or prodded or experimented on to find out what could possible be wrong with him.

There are no gurantees that something minor won't turn into some thing major. All the same, it is a fortunate child whose mother's first line of defense is chicken soup, a cool washrag and a cuddle while her Little Darling sleeps off a bug, safe in her own bed.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Community Connections

Sometimes, to relax, I shop for fabric, online. I don't always buy anything, but I do like to "window" shop.

This morning, I checked in on an online shop that is physically located not far from my house. I have ordered from them for years and always gritch to myself that it would be so cool if I could just knock on their door and get my stuff. I've thought about doing it or at least calling them to ask if I could drop by to pick stuff up. Never had the nerve. I was afraid they'd think I was a nut.

Anyway, on their website, they advertised the annual quilt show for a nearby quilting guild that I have often sorta half way planned to check out. I decided to swing by the quilt show and it was just lovely. Lots of nice quilts and a bunch of nice ladies. I think I am going to check out a guild meeting and see if I like it. The location was easy to get to and that is where they hold their monthly meetings.

They had us fill out cards denoting our favorites in four categories: traditional, contemporary, mini and UFO (unfinished objects). Each quilt was already marked regarding its category. Husband went with me and ooohhhed and aaahhed right along with me although he continues to insist that unsymmetrical quilts should not be allowed.

There was one lovely Dresden Plate quilt that was in the "traditional" category. He'd already selected his favorite traditional quilt but liked this one, too. He looked it over carefully and discovered where "he" thought she should have done some additional crosshatch quilting. Once he discovered the "lapse," he pronounced that it was not finished and put it down for his favorite UFO. He wrote them a note of explanation. For a man who thinks rules are essential, he certainly seems a bit creative with their application. I hope the lady doesn't take offense.

As for me, I fell in love with one particular traditional quilt. I was a little surprised it was deemed "traditional." It looked pretty contemporary, to me. Right next to it, was another nice quilt that I didn't like nearly as much. However, when I looked at it closely, the hand quilting just blew me away. It was perfect. Just perfect. I HAD to put that quilt down for my favorite because I couldn't let that sort of talent/expertise go unacknowledged. In a larger show, they'd separate the hand quilting from the machine quilting - they really are a different skill set. (Frankly, I think they ought to put "binding" in a separate category.) But this was just a small, sweet show and I am so glad we decided to drop by.

And as an added plus, turns out the owner of the online quilt store whose website gave me a heads up about the quilt show had set up her wares in one of the rooms. And then, the stunner: The shop is open to the public three days a week!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I couldn't believe it. The lady is less than 15 minutes from my house and I shop from her, anyway. Good heavens. When I told her who I was, she laughed and said that every time she got an order from me, she thought to herself that it would be easier to just drop it off than send it through the mail.

Am I am idiot or what???

After the show, we ate dinner at our favorite German restaurant, also near our house. They are finishing up Oktoberfest and we wanted to get their special beer while we could. After the season, we'll have to wait another year for them to bring more back from Germany (they take a trip to Germany every Labor Day and bring it back with them).

I finished gluing on the binding to the Surf and Sand quilt. Here is where I was preparing the binding - you an see the fabric I used.

Here are some pictures after it had been glued on.

Here is the backing that ate my lunch, repeatedly.

I'm darn pleased with that miter - I usually muck them up.

I will start hand stitching it, this week. I should be doing it right now but hahahaha - I'm doing this, instead.

No more Octoberfest Beer for me, tonight.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Crafting and Canine Therapy

I think Jezebel is feeling better, today.

I got up about 5:00 a.m. (per usual) and cruised the net while Husband slept in. About an hour later, I got cold and went back to bed. Jezebel jumped up on the bed with me and after petting her a little, I snuggled up to Husband and shoved in under his chin. I'm not sure he appreciated it. His chin was so scratchy it nearly took my skin off. A couple of minutes later, Jezebel snuggled up along my back and laid her muzzle on my neck. How cozy is that? Honestly, it was just a magic moment and we all fell back to sleep. That's a memory I'll treasure.

Evelyn was on the stairs landing looking out of intruders. No one showed up, apparently. She is not the snugglet her sister is.

There is a cute pumpkin tutorial from Pieces of Time Blog that looked pretty simple. Here is a link.

I can't say that I followed it perfectly, but it gave me a general idea how to make a pumpkin. I used scraps of the fabric instead of cording. I made four, this morning, and it only took a few minutes.

It turned into a challenge, unexpectedly. First, I went out to the woods to get some twigs for the stems and Evelyn became quite agitated. The sticks are HERS. She kept coming and getting them out of my box and was honestly perplexed when I'd tell her no. While we were twig hunting, I came across a big, healthy toad and tried to show it to Evelyn. She was oblivious. Jezebel was clear across the yard and came arunning when she saw us looking at something. She is the family hunter. Poor toad. She worried it but did no harm.
The next problem is that the pumpkins are kinda round. Like a ball. Jezebel thinks the balls are HERS and kept stealing them. I'd have to go after her when she'd grab a "ball," and Evelyn would snatch a stick while I was busy.

I felt like a one armed paperhanger for a few minutes.

I can't say they turned out perfectly.

Seriously, that stem is way out of scale. Regardless, I enjoyed doing them and used up some of my batting scraps that I fished out of the trash. They were "hellbent" (get it? Halloween?) for the landfill. So we're doing our part to go green at our house. I also used some fabric that I bought before I understood that cheap was not necessarily a bargain. It is not fabric I would use for a quilt because it is too thin but it works great for a craft project. I also used some LQS quality fabric but only had a little so this was a good way to use those pieces.

Nice to not waste anything. Well, unless you consider the whole endeavor kind of pointless. The way I see it, stitching is calming and helps keep my fingers nimble. Perhaps I will be able to lead craft groups at the nursing home should I become a resident.

Here is Jezebel sitting next to "her" pumpkin.

And here she is looking out the front window.

She does this on Halloween, too. Husband tells the little kids that the girls are ghost dogs.

The leaves are just about at peak, around here.

I think they are going to drop a little early, this year. I bet we have a hard and/or early winter.

Here is Miss Jezebel - see those happy eyes?

I'm now off to work on making some binding.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Art test - pretty pictures

Your result for What Your Taste in Art Says About You Test...

Conscientious, Fulfilled, and Spiritual

The Renaissance was a cultural movement that profoundly affected European intellectual life. Beginning in Italy, and spreading to the rest of Europe by the 16th century, its influence affected literature, philosopy, religion, art, politics, science, and all other aspects of intellectual enquiry. Renaissance artists looked at the human aspect of life in their art. They did not reject religion but tended to look at it in it's purest form to create visions they thought depicted the ideals of religion. Painters of this time had their own style and created works based on morality, religion, and human nature. Many of the paintings depicted what they believed to be the corrupt nature of man.

People that like Renaissance paintings like things that are more challenging. They tend to have a high emotional stability. They also tend to be more concientious then average. They have a basic understanding of human nature and therefore are not easily surprised by anything that people may do. They enjoy life and enjoy living. They are very aware of their own mortality but do not dwell on the end but what they are doing in the present. They enjoy learning, but may tend to be a bit more closed minded to new ideas as they feel that the viewpoint they have has been well researched and considered. These people are more old fashioned and not quite as progressive. They enjoy the finer things in life like comfort, a good meal, and homelife. They tend to be more spiritual or religious by nature. They are open to new aesthetic experiences.

Take What Your Taste in Art Says About You Test at HelloQuizzy

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Door Knobs, Panties and Cherry Pie

What a week this has been. Some weeks are like that in any field. This week, I have been frantically trying to interview witnesses for a bloody hearing, tomorrow. The more people I spoke to, the worse it got. I frequently get concerned about my cases. This one had me distressed. Today, it took a better turn and I feel better about the recommendation I will make. So after I finished up my last interview, I was feeling more relaxed.

It occurred to me that I was only minutes away from a quilt shop that I like but rarely have the opportunity to visit. I decided to take advantage of the fact that I was in the vicinity and dropped in. I picked up several pieces of fabric I don't need:

Except for the blue, they are a little out of my comfort zone and it makes me happy that they called my name. I think the design of the pinkish one resembles the quilting I have been doing on the Surf and Sand quilt.

Right next door to the quilt shop, there was a store that sells holiday decorations by Jim Shore. I fell in love with several of them but didn't buy any. I think I am going to do some online shopping, later, and see if I can find some on sale.

As I was leaving the area, I passed a bakery and decided to stop. I bought a fresh cherry pie and took it home to Husband, who was working at home. It was a gorgeous autumn day so we sat and had pie this afternoon. It does not get much better than that, particularly on the tail end of a damned hard week.

I trotted myself upstairs, determined to finish quilting the Surf and Sand quilt. I ended up having to do some more ripping but managed to get most of the puckers out. I really enjoyed working on it and practicing the sorta McTavishing. I'm happy with how it is looking.

I still need to trim it up, prepare the binding and stitch it on. It is smaller than the Patriotic quilt and considerably lighter. Because the background quilting is so dense, it is stiffer. I am not sure if I am going to like snuggling under it but we'll see after I get it done. I ended up losing some of the border on the quilt because it was acting up so it is not as large as I planned. I have not done dense quilting, before and I'll need to adjust, next time. I suspect that is the cause of the puckering.

I am excited to be reaching a point where I can start a new project!

Husband and I are selling a small older home in Oklahoma City. Husband bought it nearly thirty years ago and we are set to close on it at the end of this month. We got a call from our realtor, this evening. We have a problem. Some %$#@&^% broke in and STOLE ALL THE ANTIQUE GLASS DOORKNOBS!!!!!

GGGRRRRR. I am just so disgusted. Thieves are pathetic. The owner-to-be really likes those knobs. We'll have to replace them and don't know if she will want antique value or whether she will accept new ones that look like the antiques.

Did I mention that I detest thieves? Well, let me back off that a bit. One of my kids is sitting in detention because she ran away from home and was gone two weeks. She stole panties from a department store because, as she put it, dirty underwear is disgusting. I suggested that she could pay them back for the underwear so she wouldn't have to feel guilty about it. She looked at me incredulously and informed me that, "Why should I pay them? You'd steal underwear, too, if you didn't have any clean panties."

Well then.

Here are more quilt pictures.

No pictures of the girls, today. Jezebel came into the house, yesterday with what looked like blood on her head, neck and back. All we can figure is that she killed something and rolled in it. She seemed fine although to tell the truth, I have a feeling something is going on with her. I have thought about this a lot and can't put my finger on what is different, but I have an uneasy feeling that all is not right. Let's hope it is just imagining on my part or, if not, something minor. Her appetite and energy level are the same.

I am going to go drink a Mike's Hard Cranberry Lemonade and kick back.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Kinda McTavishing

I am very excited to be taking a class in McTashing next spring. Of course, I had to go get the book and try it, ahead of time. That is what I worked on all weekend when I should have been vacuuming and doing laundry.

I loaded up the Surf and Sand quilt top. Took forever.

I guess I must be on a retrograde. Everything I did was a disaster. Look at this!!

I honestly have no idea how that happened. I spend about 5 hours ripping. Serves me right for trying to manhandle those puckers. Note to self: quilting puckers flat doesn't work and you end up having to take out all the stitching.

On top of that, I managed to break a needle and it fell into the bobbin case and caused all kinds of problems. About that time (Saturday morning), the business phone rang..and rang...and rang... (three calls from the same number in a five minute period - twice they hung up by the time I'd wiped off my hands - I had oil all over me and tiny screws I was keeping track of). I ended up barking into the phone, "This is Penny - IS THIS AN EMERGENCY???? IT NOT, CALL BACK DURING THE WORK WEEK!!"

I feel bad about it. Temper, temper.

I also made an attempt at faux trapunto. As I understand it, you stick in some extra batting so it poofs more. That is what I did, at any rate. Let's see how it turns out after this goes through the wash.

All in all, I really am liking how the "sort of McTavishing" is looking. I am afraid the quilt, itself, is pretty messed up - the backing is not straight - honestly, I don't know what happened. On top of that, there are some blue threads you can see through the light fabric and I don't know how I missed them. They are driving me nuts.

And look at this pretty girl!

I had to set aside the quilting due to work. It has been a rough two days. I've been handed a new custody case that may be the worst one I've ever dealt with. I need the wisdom of Solomon and the patience of Job. Unfortunately, I have neither.

But for now, I am calling it a night.