"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 28, 2010

They Finished the Barn

You are probably getting tired of seeing barn pictures but I will put these last few of the completed barn.  Above, is the barn from our driveway.

Below, is the back of the barn.  The door to the right is the one we just added:
Here is a closer shot:
Here is the new (unfinished) door from inside the barn:
Another view of the back of the barn:
And a final view of the front!
Happy Quilting, Penny, Evelyn and Pearl

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Looking Spiffy!

They are getting close to finishing the barn and I think it looks fantastic.
We thought about putting a quilt block on the wall but I decided it would be too difficult to archor and would need to be painted, periodically.  Instead, we went with a faux door that is all metal.

Here is a view from the street:
The following is a not too good picture from the back of the barn where we are installing another door (on the right hand side):
More of a closeup during installation:
Having a full window door will allow more light into that back room.  We'll need to pour a concrete pad out there. 

My irises are in full bloom and look lovely.  My grandmother dearly loved irises and I can't look at one without thinking of her.
It's been a beautiful day and the best part is that my father-in-law is back home!  They were waiting to be discharged since this morning and I'd planned to swing by their house to see him.  I called at 1:30 but they were still at the hospital.  Reportedly, the doctor was "right outside the door" making arrangements to allow him to be discharged.  I just called (3 hours later) to see if he was up for company but they had only just driven in the driveway - took them all afternoon to get out of that place. 

But he is home, now, and I will go see him, tomorrow.

Happy Quilting,

Penny, Evelyn and Pearl

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Barn Raising

Slowly but surely making progress on my dragon quilt.  I am getting a little sick of it.  It is hard not having a well developed attention span.

They are making great headway on the barn and we are delighted with how it is coming along.  Here are "before" pictures of the front:

Here are a couple of "after" pictures but we are considering putting a faux door on the top.
It looks splendid and the color is a dead-on match to the original.  There are no seams except one on the back where they miscut a piece of siding.  I didn't know this, but you can have siding cut to length which is what they did.
The trick is to have a truck long enough to carry it.
They brought in a cherry picker to work high up:
We are having a door put in on the back of the barn (above) that will go approximately to the right of where the cherry picker is parked.  We want a door because of the risk of fire. If you were in that back room, you might not know there was a fire until your escape was cut off.  Husband is in the safety business and, apparently, you can't be too careful. 
Here is one side:
They still have siding and trim to complete but, so far, it looks great.

Here is part of the workshop.  We still have a lot of work/unpacking to do out there:
Evelyn suffers from separation anxiety when I am on the other side of the fence:
She is on a diet and we can tell she has already lost some weight because her waist is back.  It is amazing the difference - even in her face, she suddenly looks more like a puppy, again:
Thank you to all who have asked about my father-in-law.  He is still in the hospital and will be for several more days but is doing fantastic.  The biggest hurdle will be sitting on him when he gets out because he doesn't have an "off" switch.  We visited, last night, and the man is scary smart, like his son.  When they came in to check his blood, he twisted all around his tubes to be able to watch them, curiosity all over his face.  I glanced over at husband and he was also watching with interest, the exact same expression on his face.  They don't really resemble each other, physically, but they could have been twins as they sat there. 

Then they started talking enthusiastically about hydraulics and tractor clutches and gasoline additives and snake handlers and I dozed off while they did a father/son mind meld. 

Happy Quilting, Penny, Evelyn and Pearl

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Dads and Dads-in-law

I spent the day at the hospital while my father-in-law was in surgery. This is the same hospital where two of my children were born. We stayed in the same waiting room where I waited during several operations for my own father.

My dad never left the hospital. I still miss him, everyday.

I sat in the waiting room with my father-in-law’s wife, my brother-in-law and his wife, and my sister-in-law. Husband had to work and wasn’t able to come up until later in the afternoon. For several hours, the mood was light hearted and optimistic. About the time we were expecting my father-in-law to come out of surgery (about two hours from when it began), the nurse called to let us know that they had removed the gall bladder and would be completing repairs and closing up. We took that to mean that they hadn’t found anything surprising – or at least we hoped that is what it meant. She gave a time period of 1 to 1.5 more hours before the operation would be completed. That gave us pause since they had originally given an estimation of 1 hour and 45 minutes, total.

I called my husband to let him know and we trooped downstairs seeking out frozen yogurt, leaving Stepmother by herself. We didn’t find any yogurt but the walk did us good. We returned before the doctor arrived.   In fact, the clock kept ticking and we had no word.

Commencing at about an hour and half after the nurse’s phone call, I observed my father-in-law’s wife go from chatty and optimistic to quiet. She began picking at her nails and set down her magazine, clearly no longer interested in reading or unable to concentrate. After another half hour, sister-in-law began pacing and I did the same. Stepmother was white knuckled and silent. Conversation lagged and there were long moments with no one speaking. My husband arrived which prompted some conversation but it quickly died away.

Another fifteen minutes passed with no word. I am sure I am not the only one who was beginning to become concerned. I looked at Stepmother and wondered to myself, morosely, I’ll admit, if I was looking at a widow. Surely the doctor would have called by now if things were going okay.

Brother-in-law wandered away to read from a magazine. His wife, who is typically cheerful, kept a smile on her face but left to get something from the car. I wandered over to stand where I could see down the hall. Sister-in-law walked by and I am sure she was doing the same thing I was - looking to see if the doctor was coming. I wanted to see his face and try to read this expression.

At this point, I was filled with concern for Stepmother and my husband. And I thought of my own dad, turning the clock back, mentally, to the time when he fought in that place dividing life and death and there was not one thing I could do other than hold his hand, pray that the pain would end, and whisper that I loved him.

Finally, nearly two and a half hours after we’d had a phone call from the nurse, the surgeon darted out of a side door. He was dressed in scrubs (I looked at him, intently, but they didn’t look blood splattered – I am not sure why that would matter). Instead of coming to the waiting room, he headed in the opposite direction and entered the doctor’s lounge.

That can’t be good, I thought.

About five minutes later, he reappeared, wearing a white coat.

That can’t be good, I thought, again. Is he donning the mantel of a physician to be in the correct costume to deliver bad news? He wasn’t smiling and my stomach dropped. I turned to walk over to Stepmother and told her, “The doctor is coming.” She looked relieved and terrified at the same time.

The doctor arrived and glanced around the waiting room. The volunteer pointed him in our direction and he held out his hand to shake Stepmother’s. Without preamble or a summary of the outcome, he launched into a chronological description of how the surgery progressed. My heart was in my throat and I kept expecting him to reach a point where he said, “And then…[something awful happened – fill in the blank]. But as he kept describing the operation, it finally dawned on me that the shoe wasn’t going to drop. Relief rolled over me.

Father-in-law still isn’t out of the woods but they found no sign of cancer in the samples they took during the surgery. He’d had an inflamed gall bladder that clearly was quite diseased, but the doctor said that he was a tough old bird and that he believed that was the only thing making father-in-law sick. Barring any complications, he should be back to his regular routine within a couple of weeks.

In a way I can't describe, I felt a sense of victory.  Death took my dad but father-in-law managed to slip that noose. 

Once I got home, I sat on the patio with a glass of wine and wallowed in the sense of gratitude and relief. I confess, I shed a few tears, primarily of relief from holding in my emotions, all day, but a few because I really miss my dad. And more than a few because I am so happy for my father-in-law and the family. And I am happy for myself because even though I don’t have my own dad, having a sweet father-in-law is the next best thing.

So why am I still crying?

Thank you all for your prayers and I hope you will continue to remember him while he recuperates.

Happy Quilting,
Penny, Evelyn and Pearl

Not Enough Days in Your Life

Blogging remains slow, these days. My father-in-law is still in the hospital and we’ve been on a roller coaster of emotion, reflecting the outcomes of the latest tests and procedures. Last Wednesday, he was miserably ill, the prognosis was quite grim and he was transferred to the cancer unit in Oklahoma City. By the weekend, following a biopsy and relatively minor surgical procedure, he abruptly began feeling better and was able to eat. Two days ago, while waiting on the biopsy, the best guess was that he had cancer scattered hither and yon in his digestive tract. When the latest results came back, yesterday, they determined there was no sign of cancer, anywhere. So he goes in to have his gall bladder removed, today, and we are keeping our fingers crossed that they don’t run across anything nasty that the tests missed. He was up and about, yesterday, strolling the hospital halls and I was having a hard time keeping up with him. He claims to be nearly 85 but I think the man must be a liar. Please keep him in your thoughts. We are all quite optimistic, at this point.

My dragon quilt is coming slow. I started the project with no real experience in piecing curves and was terrified at the thought. Accordingly, I cobbled together some home-did paper piecing patterns which I have come to realize only made it more difficult. For example, see this small piece on the right?
It took me about four hours to finish, embarrassing as that is. And then, when I completed it, I realized I hadn’t reversed it so it had to be redone. Grr. After having done a number of curves on the rest of the quilt, I decided – to hell with it – and I just cut larger pieces and threw it together, curves be damned (the swearing was thrown in to underscore my disgust). The piece on the left (which I think looks better) took about 20 minutes. I need to get that pleat out of it but don't think that will be difficult.  You really can teach an old dog new tricks, looks like.

If I had it to do over again, I would definitely not be so afraid of the curves. Moreover, I wouldn’t cut the sections into such small pieces where I’d have to match up so many seams. For heaven’s sake, it is dragon. It is not like someone is going to say that it isn’t accurate unless they are spending way too much time in their parents’ basement playing fantasy video games.

The art quilt class that I was scheduled to take on April 15th has been rescheduled for June. I’d hoped to have that under my belt before I got much further into this project but it might be better to just flounder a bit so that when I actually learn how to do it, properly, I will have a few “ahah!” moments and know what she is talking about. So it is all good.

For a number a years, I have toyed with the notion of using tarot card paintings as inspiration for either painting or quilting. I picked up a couple of new decks because the pictures are so beautiful and will be scheming on what I want to do with them in the future. At times, I wish I was still thirty years old so I would have time to get some of these things done. At times like these, I feel as if I have wasted my life getting educated, working and raising a family… And eating has been a complete waste of time that could have been spent quilting. I am enjoying having such ridiculous notions while I can because if (notice that is "if" not "when?") I go back to work, the party is over.

My best friend and I spent the day at the Oklahoma City Festival of the Arts, yesterday.
The following is one of my favorite pieces, which only goes to show that I have low brow tastes:
I think it is darling when I can keep from thinking it reminds of of the movie, Alien.
Mimi and I used to go to the Festival every year when we were kids but she hasn’t gone in decades.  It has been ten years since I was able to go. Husband is extremely grateful that I have her to hang out with because he thinks he’d be recruited, otherwise.   I believe he would rather be neutered without anesthetic than go.  And to be honest, if it meant having to listen to him angst the whole day?  I might also prefer having major surgery without sedation.  The experience would be roughly equivalent in terms of pain.  So it all works out. 

I had a great time. I didn’t take many pictures of the artwork out of respect for the artists but certainly saw pretty things. One painter in particular had some work that I plan to study for inspiration – she works in watercolors and her work is just beautiful.  I think it looks like quilting. 

As we looked at the art, from time to time we would see something sort of delightful on a particular piece that drew our eyes. The more I look into artful things, the more I suspect that many of those interesting little additions probably began as a mistake that the artist turned into something creative. I will keep that in mind when I am struggling with my art quilts.

Part of the fun of going was strolling through the Myriad Gardens – things were very peaceful.
See this little guy that looks so harmless?
Be warned, those nasty Canada Geese are the filthy birds that brought down the plane into the Hudson!!  It is probably dreaming of more wicked schemes. 
Okay, I thought the following sculpture made of farming implements was a little creepy looking:
Mimi seemed intrigued and immediately started naming off all  the implements she recognized (did I mention she is a rancher?).  To me, it looks like something out of an Iraqi prison.

I took a few closeups of the flowers because I thought I might be able to use them on an art quilt - sometime after I finish all my dragons and tarot cards and barn art quilts.
And if you have noticed, instead of actually working on an art quilt, I am blogging...
Mimi was enjoying the ponds and I had to mention that when they first opened the gardens, a number of bums drowned in them.  I probably should have just kept that observation to myself.  Then and now. 
I have always loved the Oklahoma City downtown Skyline.
In this economy, I particularly love to see those cranes continuing to build. Oklahoma City has a sort of an odd economy in that it has, historically, not been felled by economic factors on the same timeline as the cities on the coasts. Moreover, the housing bust never arrived so compared to many places, it is vibrant and strong.

When we left the Arts Festival, we wandered down to the Stockyards (where we’d parked one of our cars) because Mimi needed to pick up some panel of some sort.  We had a few minutes to kill so we did some window shopping in Little Joe’s Boots and at a couple of tack shops.
The lasso on the above longhorn seems overkill, given that it has already been beheaded.

I was thinking I might like to make a basket like the following in my spare time.
I love the smell of leather. But not in a weirdo sort of way. I told Husband that I also love the smell of hospitals and he thought that was creepy until I explained that I associate it with the birth of my children which evokes a happy mood.

It is probably still creepy, though. 

The barn siding is coming along, nicely. I set up the birdcam to capture photos of the guys working and will retrieve that when it is done. If the battery doesn’t run out, I should have a pretty good record of the progress.

We took the girls to the vet for their shots and they both weight 57 pounds and some change – they are within about 3 ounces of each other with Pearl being the heavier one. Evelyn looks bigger but much of that is coat and Pearl is solid muscle. Evelyn needs to drop about 5 pounds and when she does (and blows her coat), I suspect she is going to look quite different – and much smaller.  She has always been a fussy eater and we have to practically beg her to eat.  Why she is overweight when she has a history of not eating is a mystery.  We slightly reduced her food intake and she is immediately acting like she is starving to death and even inspecting Pearl's bowl in apparent hopes of finding a left over molecule of food. 

I’m off to get ready to head up to the hospital. Please keep my father-in-law in your prayers.

Happy Quilting,

Penny, Evelyn and Pearl