"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

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Crappy Tops, Retirement and Losing Teeth

Two of my kids got married in 2007 and I made them quilt tops. Well, I finished a quilt top for my son (August nuptials) but didn't get my youngest's done (March nuptials). In my defense, I had less time to finish one for her. I became aware of the wedding in December and just didn't have time to pull it together. It is a batik pineapple quilt:

Two weeks before the wedding, my mom was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and to be honest, my mind wasn't really on piecing in the weeks before and after the wedding.

After the wedding, I took off a lot of work to be with mom (we lost her in May) which gave me more time to finish son's quilt top before the August wedding. It is a Hunter's Star and I love that design.

But here they still sit. I imagine my children wonder why. I'll tell you why.

It is because they suck.

I mean, for the love of God, that center is a disgrace.

I'm happy with a lot of it but the craftsmanship is not what I want it to be. If I ever have grand babies they will look at these quilts and assume I had early onset Alzheimer's.

In my opinion, you should work right through on making quilts. If you wait, even a few months, you will come back and just want to rip it apart and start over. I would no more be willing to have a center like the ones on this quilt top. today, than I would walk down the street in a bikini. And these are WEDDING quilts! Honestly, I have thought about starting over. I have just not wanted to go back and deal with them. I see every mistake and it makes me crazy.

But I won't rip them up. I am going to by-god finish them - even bind them - and then get to work on five (or ten) year anniversary quilts. They can ooohh and awwh at how much better I've gotten.

Now, son's and daughter's-in-law quilt top is flat out crappy but at least it is finished. I have about three blocks left to do to finish the top for my youngest. And you want to know the REAL reason I haven't finished her top? It is because I've forgotten how I made the blocks. Yes, I am pathetic. And since I wanted to finish her quilt (completely) before I finished her brother's, nothing at all has been done.

What a mess.

But enough of that. I decided that I would get son's on the frame and just do it. I know how I want to quilt it but then ran into another problem. The tension in the thread isn't working. I spent an hour working on the border this afternoon. I then spent about that much time ripping out the messed up stitches. Now I am out of thread and ordered more but it won't be here for a few days.

Maybe I will work on the youngest's quilt top while the thread is in the mail.

Now to change the subject. I have decided to retire from guardian ad litem work, next year. Here's why: Our Supreme Court has decided to change the way the courts handle child abuse protective orders and truancy orders. They used to have periodic reviews and when the parents/kids did what they were supposed to do, they dismissed the orders. Now, they want to issue a protective order and leave it to the parties to file a motion to dismiss the order at some point. Sounds good on paper but for a guardian ad litem, it has huge pitfalls. For example, suppose there is a child abuse case where the mother and father are ordered to take anger management classes, take parenting class and get therapy. The child, let's say, is five years old. The court now says, good luck, wish you well, let us know if there is a problem or you want this dismissed.

So as guardian ad litem, I've got liability for that child for the next 13 years. I have no staff, no resources, to keep track of hundreds of cases over decades to see how the kids are doing. There aren't enough hours in the day to investigate whether the parents or kids are complying with the orders. I could spend three days a week calling - just calling - the parents (assuming their numbers haven't changed - and they will) to ask them how things are going but there is no way to verify. If a parent brings a motion years later to have the order dismissed, I have to track them down, do a complete investigation, essentially from scratch, to know whether I should recommend it be dismissed or keep it open. I have no resources to do that. I don't know anyone who does.

Even worse, suppose the child continues to be abused. She may be eight years old. She won't call me, she won't call social services. Even if I call her on the telephone, regularly, she almost surely won't tell me. Suppose the mom drops out of therapy? I can check on the child but usually not the parent. Suppose the parent gets a criminal charge? No one will tell me. I can't haunt the online court websites for thousands a people a day looking for hits. And even if I could, the domestic courts are generally not online. Regardless, since there is an outstanding protection order, as guardian ad litem, I should be filing a contempt motion to force parents to comply. But short of staying very closely involved (potentially for over a decade), I won't know what they are doing.

What if they move away and don't tell me (they never do). Kids will fall through the cracks right and left. They do all the time, anyway, but when they have a guardian ad litem, they should have a better measure of protection.

Ethically, how can I keep doing this? It would be different if I had only 15 - 20 cases. The way this is set up, I could easily end up with hundreds of open, unmonitored cases within three years. That's crazy. But, allegedly, it saves the court money since they won't have to come back to review these cases multiple times. So the decision is made: Come September, I'll send a letter to the courts declining to accept more cases after the first of the year. It will take about a year to finish up my existing nonprotective order cases and I will either close or get released from my protective order cases over the next couple of years.

And on happier news, Pearl lost at least two teeth, today. Her Big Gurl Canines are punching through. She is one darling baby.


Stephanie D. said...

What a conundrum! I hate when the Powers-That-Be tie your hands behind your back, but expect you to keep up the same quality work. It seems the higher up the ladder one gets, the less one's brain functions. Must be the altitude up there.

Penny said...

Hahaha!! Well, the state is flat out of money so I understand that.

And another thing I should have pointed out is that the court appointed defense counsel get $120.00 for the whole case. That might involve 7 - 10 court appearances in the protective order cases. And that isn't counting working up the case, counseling the client, etc. That is really ridiculous. The clients are constitutionally required to be provided an attorney but I don't know how the court appointed defense counsel can afford to do it. At least I get paid by the hour as a guardian ad litem. The court appointed defense counsel were probably dropping like flies and the court might have realized that they were going to end up being in trouble, constitutionally, if they didn't do something different with the protective order cases. So there is that.

ranette said...

Penny...I'll not comment on the reason for your retirement because it's just so...mind boggling, but at least you'll have more time to quilt.

On the marriage quilts, label them and tell the story of what was going on in life at the time they were made. Normal people (non-quilters) don't see our mistakes...I promise you that your kids will love your quilts.
I think they are beautiful...especially the pinapple which is one of my favorite patterns.

Anonymous said...

I think you're way to hard on yourself. Your kids won't notice the problems unless you point them out.


Linda said...

Ten foot rule--remember that? I agree with Janet, your kids aren't even going to see the mistakes. We're always harder on ourselves, aren't we?

Sorry about the job problems--but happy you'll have more time to quilt--and maybe return to your favourite home?
Lurking Linda

Anonymous said...

Penny, come on back to Oklahoma. We're waiting for ya! Your kids will love the quilts, you made it for them. Finish them and pass them along.

Job wise - this is the sign of the times. You are fortunate enough to be able to probably work anywhere with your field. Don't know if OK is any better, sometimes I think we are way behind the rest of the world.

Hang in there,
Elaine in Tulsa