"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, August 28, 2009

Memory Lane

While in court, today, I saw a number of folks from closed cases that I haven't seen in awhile. Brought me smiles even when things aren't going as well as I'd like.

One little eight year old girl - she is just darling - saw me and raced over to give me a hug. Her dad had brought her to court because he didn't have a babysitter and is fighting with the mother for custody. The child's dad just moved, again - the fifth time in two years - and although she is an "A student, she is a little worried about having to start at another school on Monday. She is going into third grade and this is her fourth school. And she's shy. She confided that she wants to be a veterinarian. If her dad ever gets his junk together long enough to let her get a good education, she'd have a good shot at it. She was very sad that I wasn't going to be her guardian ad litem, this time. I was, too.

Next I saw a nineteen year old skinny minnie who just about drove her parents out of their minds for the three years that I was her GAL. She was completely incorrigible. Lie? OMG, even if the truth would do. Manipulate? You betcha. She used to threaten to kill herself and make her mother go into an absolute tizzy, then just grin at me -sometimes I wondered if she had a conscience, at all.

She was famous for saying rude things to other kids. At fourteen and fifteen, they couldn't even take her to the grocery store because she'd tell people standing in line that they sure were fat, or ask women if they were menstruating because they stunk. The same sort of things happened at family outings to the point where her own grandparents refused to let her come to their house.

And this is the God's own truth - she actually was a prostitute for about a year FOR THE FUN OF IT! She'd go to parties and was apparently quite the freak. And took pride in it. She lived at home and they kept catching her.

No self esteem problems that anyone could tell. She was just, incorrigible. Not mentally ill. Just full of the devil.

Yes, she got sent to a residential facility - and managed to completely disrupt it. Next, we sent her to bootcamp and they sent her back. She used to threaten to jump off cliffs and after she put laxatives in the campers' food, they said, no more.

Another time, she went missing for three weeks. During that time, her mother was convinced the child was dead in a ditch because it was like the house was haunted. Things would be moved in the night and sometimes she'd hear things. But no. Turns out, the little monster was hiding under her bed during the day and sneaking in and out of the house at night. She laughed and admitted that she'd deliberately moved things like a poltergeist just to mess with them. Her little brother, who was actively grieving because he was convinced she'd been killed, discovered her when he looked under her bed for a suitcase. So the story goes, he looked under the bed and she was there and just grinned a big toothy grin at him. He screamed and ran out of the room. I suspect he is still in therapy, over that. I never saw parents so grateful for the day that child turned eighteen. They kept asking me if they'd still be responsible for her after that.

So today, I saw her at court and I said, "OH, NO! Why are you here???" She grinned and said, "Just paying some fines." She looked as skinny as ever. "Wanna see my baby?" she asked, and pulled back the blanket on a gorgeous little seven week old baby boy. She looked so proud but NO WAY could she have given birth seven weeks ago! "So you are going to get some of your own back?" I grin, and she grins back. "I hope not." I asked her if she was going without sleep and she grinned again and said, "I sure am." But he looked healthy and she was PAYING fines and we actually had a regular conversation so who knows, maybe she turned it around.

Can you tell that despite the fact that she is/was a complete hellion that I got a kick out of her? I am just that twisted, I guess.

I saw another woman who gave up custody of her son some years ago because she is a heroin addict and had been using. She was back in court trying to regain custody and I sat down next to her to ask how she's been. She looked radiant and healthy. She said she'd voluntarily put herself into rehab over a year ago. She said that two weeks after she got out she relapsed and ended up in the hospital when she tried to shoot up and nicked an artery. "It messed me up," she said, clearly embarrassed. And she hid her hands. I reached out and took them to see for myself. Oh Lord, what a horrible mess. Raised scar tissue was all over her hand, front and back. Big debits, looked ghastly. She tried to take her hand back but I didn't let go. "Did you manage to shoot up, that day?" I asked. She said, "No. But I nearly died and I haven't touched it, since, and now I have a reminder everytime I look at my hand. They had to do skin grafts. It helps me to keep straight."

I held onto her hand for a moment, looked her in the eye and told her that she had an angel with her, that day. Her eyes teared up.

I sure hope she makes it.

So when I got home, the same weather system that is threatening to disrupt the Kennedy funeral had dropped off rain. Pearl and Evelyn were muddy messes.

I just had to hose them off, it was so bad. But you know, I've got no real problems, do I?

Glad the weekend has arrived.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

All I Want For Christmas

Evelyn is a Class A quilting buddy. Not to be disloyal to my good girl, Jezebel, but the fact is, Evelyn stays with me and genuinely seems to dig the peaceful quilting vibe. Jezebel would hang out for awhile, then go sleep upside down in the bathtub. In the dark. That was just one of her many weird habits (that were so endearing).

Pearl is a little too busy, these days, to want to hang out for any length of time, although she likes to sleep under the table by husband when he is working at home.

So I was so jazzed about learning to applique, that I sat down and finished putting the stockings on the wallhanging, last night.

My fingers are numb, today. If I keep this up, I expect I will quickly develop callouses like a guitar player. Maybe I should take up the guitar once I build up some callouses - perhaps it wouldn't tear up my fingers tips so much while I'm learning.

I have a Gracie lap hoop that I got years ago with the notion that I might try hand quilting. I have actually never used it but it worked okay with the wall hanging. Here it is:

It has a ball attached the frame so it swivels and can be adjusted to any angle.

Here it is with the wall hanging on it:

From the back:

I am not sure I would use it for an individual quilt block but it was nice for the slightly larger wall hanging. It made it easy to keep the piece lying flat.

I ended up stitching on all eight stockings and am pretty happy with it.

I think I will just "birth" it instead of doing a binding. The nice thing about making something like this is that it isn't intended to be an heirloom - just something fun and therapeutic.

We will probably still be here at Christmas but if we make it out to Oklahoma, I will have it all ready to make the house look festive even if we are surrounded with brown cardboard moving boxes. Truth be told, we could be sitting in a nasty little bus station with smelly travelers on Christmas morning but if it was back home in Oklahoma, we'd just beam.

My hope is to completely close down my practice by the first week of November although I will be amazed if I can manage to do that. Cases are set a few weeks ahead of time and we are getting into that time period. The judges hate to change guardians ad litem in mid case. And I hate to do that, too, which is why I have been asking them since April to stop sending more my way. I keep suggesting that it would be better to switch me out sooner rather than later so that the new GAL can get up to speed and be ready if a given case suddenly goes south and legal action is needed. Some of the judges agree but at least one of my favorites wants me to stay to the absolute last minute. I half expect to have husband and the girls waiting outside the courthouse to pick me up from my last case when we load up to head for Oklahoma.

I told husband I will be ready to go by mid November and he looked nervous. I know it kills him to ever disappoint me and the timing is not in his hands, frankly. I don't like putting pressure on him but he needs to know when I can go. I would love to be home for Christmas. But if I'm not, at least there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

It is hard to believe that I am already working on Christmas stuff! But did you realize we only have a little over 100 days left?

Let the stress, begin!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

I did it! I APPLIQUED!

The world is now my oyster.

I did some billing this morning and then packed some quilting books. I felt like I needed to do something worthwhile before indulging myself in the great applique experiment.

But eventually, I had a few guiltfree minutes. I immediately put the borders on the wall hanging and stepped back to look at it.

Pretty humdrum even though I just love the peppermint fabric.

I know that quilting it will make it look a lot more dramatic. I like a white background because it makes fabric pop. But applique on a wallhanging like this would be cute.

Here is my general notion of what I want to do.

I decided to pin down the first stocking and use the silk YLI that I spent a fortune on to stitch it down.

They were right about the YLI thread. OMG. It is like, well, silk. It just disappeared into the fabric.

I wish I could see better, though.

It didn't take long and I only stuck myself once. I am THRILLED with how it turned out.

Here I am pulling back the applique as hard as I can to show how the stitches pretty much disappeared.

Here is the back. Neater than I expected.

And here are a few pictures of it on the wallhanging.

I think the stitches are well hidden.

I will do this, again! I've got an idea for an Easter table topper with bright Easter eggs. Those ought to be fairly easy to do although perhaps not as easy as the stockings since they lack straight lines.

Pearl and Evelyn Videos

Here is a video I took this morning that shows how big Pearl has grown. She is just about as big as Evelyn - perhaps bigger although you can't really tell that since Evelyn has such a big coat. Of course, Pearl does, too. Her baby coat is more lush than any of the other samoyed puppies we've had and that is saying something.

And here is a video I took a few days ago of Pearl kissing Evelyn who barely tolerated it. I edited it. In fact, Pearl lay there and kissed Evelyn for about three minutes.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Spit in the Eye of Applique

No court, today, and I worked on quilting the weave quilt for several hours.

I had to take breaks every so often.

I love the way quilting looks but it isn't my favorite part of making a quilt. The good news is that my longarm was behaving and I didn't have tension problems. I've about given up on having different colored thread on the top and bottom because they look so much smoother when they are the same. I may eventually change my mind on that but for now, that is my safest bet.

I have blogged that I am terrified of applique. So I haven't done any. Today, I decided I would stick my toe in the water and give it a go on a simple project. I decided to make a simple Christmas wallhanging and see what I could come up with. My thought was that I could just put nine patches in the center and three borders. I thought I'd applique some Christmas stockings on it, placed here and there. I couldn't figure out how to applique individual blocks for this particular project so I'll be manhandling the whole thing while I stitch them down.

So I dipped into my Christmas stash and picked out two fabrics that have Peppermint candies on them. I stitched them together so that the stockings would have a top.

As a technique, I opted to stitch the Christmas fabric to some Kona backing, then turn it inside out.

Here is some Kona Snow that I had in my large piece scrap pile. I drew simple stocking shapes on it with my erasable marker. It didn't need to be erasable but it was handy. I used this fabric because that is what I was using for the background and I figured it would be easier to hide my stitches if it was all the same.

I put the Kona on top with the Christmas fabric right side up. After that, I reduced the size of my stitches (set it on 1.5) and stitched on the line. That put the right side of the Christmas fabric on the inside.

I trimmed the seam allowance to about 1/8th inch - just eyeballed it.

I then made a slit on the back.

Then I turned each stocking inside out so that the right side was on the outside.

I pushed out all the edges and was really happy with how they turned out.

I thought I was supposed to trim most of the Kona from the back but I asked on the HGTV message board and it didn't sound like that was necessary.

I have eight of them. I think they are cute.

I don't think they are too thick.

I put a small border on the nine patches using the same blue fabric I used on the stockings.

My plan is to put a white and red starred border outside the blue one, and then use the red peppermint candy fabric for a final border.

Then, I plan to sort of put the stockings down here and there and applique them down.

I haven't decided what sort of binding I will use. And for that matter, I may just birth it and skip binding. Haven't decided, yet.

The longest part of what I did, so far, was picking out the fabric. It has gone together super fast.

I plan to use a ladder stitch when I applique it down. Yes, I am definitely going to hand stitch it down. That was the point of the exercise. I don't want to just fuse it and machine applique it. I am not sure the best way to stabilize it. Glue? Pin? A little bit of fusible web? Staple? (just kidding)

Here's my buddy: