Friday, August 24, 2012

Trip Delay

On Wednesday, David's dad took a fall in his home.  Fortunately, David was there and was able - somehow- to help his father get up.  Dad is frail and no longer has much strength at all so he can't help himself when he falls.  On top of that, of course, is the pain of the fall and the shock to the system. 
One thing that wasn't shocked was Dad's indomitable spirit (which is imbued with more than a fair share of obstinacy).  He refused point blank to receive any medical care saying it wasn't necessary.  One would think that D could simply cart his father off to a medical facility, have him checked out, and take care of him that way.  Not so.  Dad is an immovable object when he puts his mind to it - which is most of the time.  The only left for D to do was use the fall as an excuse to bring a male nurse in who had been allowed to make one (only one) visit earlier this year.  The nurse will check  on Dad every day and do light chores for him - at least while we're away.
Anyway, not unexpectedly, we received a phone call from the nurse Thursday morning.  Dad was staying in bed having decided he could not safely negotiate the stairs.  The nurse had made him a good breakfast and taken care of other issues but hadn't been allowed to check Dad over at all.  Dad was also refusing to be taken to the hospital for help so the nurse called David.  The three of them had a conversation at the end of which David told his father that he (David) would agree to let Dad stay quietly at home for 24 hours (nurse was leaving non-perishable food  and drink upstairs for him, neighbor would look in at night time).  BUT if Dad is not significantly better this morning, he would have to be taken to the hospital with no fighting this morning.
Last night's call from the neighbor indicated that Dad will be going to the hospital this morning.
Caring for an aging parent is so hard especially when that parent is mentally completely sharp and competent but the body is failing.  As you all know, it's very difficult for the "child" to force unwanted decisions/realities on a parent.
Our trip will be delayed for as long as it takes to make sure Dad is being properly treated and cared for and is on the road to being comfortable again.  And until David can relax and feel his father is safe.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Good Day

Having given myself permission to dither and to accept the fact Fairy Qlt #2 will not be made by the deadline I set, and that that's all right, today went quite well. 
Thanks, of course, to ME who took me to the grocery store since D had to return to his dad's for a second day.  The trip to the store allowed me to get out, to enjoy the company of a very close friend, and to purchase the necessary items to make dinner for tonight with leftovers for Friday night in Vermont. 
I should also tell you that I had another follow-up visit to my doctor and my vision is improving markedly.  I was able to read almost all of the eye-chart though it is still a little blurry.  Then, oh, wonder of wonders, the doctor turned to me and asked, "Do you want to have surgery on the other eye?" 
I nearly fell out of the chair but managed to gulp out, "But I thought I couldn't!"
"Why not?"
"Well, because I thought it wasn't bad enough."
"Not bad enough?  You do have a cataract in that eye, also, you know.  It may not be as bad as the right eye, but we could take care of it."
I wanted to hug him despite the fact that he clearly thinks I'm certifiable as well as an idiot.  The second eye will be taken care of October 3. 
Life is good! 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012



[dith-er] noun
1. a trembling; vibration.
2. a state of flustered excitement or fear.
Now if I were asked for the definition of "dither", I would have given a close approximation of one and part of two.  But as I was not in a state even approaching fear today, I would have missed that part.  Anyway, my point is that I dithered about today going from one activity to another without making great inroads on anything.
First, I finished the laundry.  I accomplished that even though I decided to felt some wool first.  Do I have plans to use that wool this week?  No.  Had someone asked for some? No.  Did it have any connection to any activity that needed to be completed before we leave for Vermont?  Again, no.  But on the other hand, I did finish the laundry even though it took longer than it should have and kept me from doing other things.
Second, every time I had to put drops in my eyes, I got on the computer to pass the time between drop applications (all of 5 minutes).  The procedure takes 15 - 20 minutes depending on how closely I watch the clock.  If I get distracted as I did today, it can take up to an hour.
Third, I had promised myself that I would start fairy quilt #2 today.  Did I?  Oh, yes.  Did I make a lot of headway?  Oh, no, I finished only half of the "slides".  You see, I had to iron pillow cases (whatever happened to percale sheets and pillowcases that were always wrinkle-free and smooth?).  Do I usually iron my pillow cases?  No.  Then I had to iron some fat quarters I'm using for a hand-piecing project.  Did that need to be done?  Yes, even though I'd already cut some pieces without ironing, it does go better if the creases are out.  Having done that, of course I had to go and cut out some more blocks for hand-piecing.  Honestly, it's a wonder I finished any of the fairy quilt "slides"!
Then I had to make lists of things that needed to be done, or found, or packed.  You'd think I'd never taken this trip before!
The amazing point is that even while dithering, I did manage to accomplish some things - just not as much as I might have liked to.  I've decided that it a perk of being retired.  I'm allowed to dither.  So there.
That's my story, and I'm sticking to it!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Weekend in Massachusetts

Sunday evening we returned home a bit too late for me to have the energy to write an entry.  My apologies.

It was a wonderful weekend spent with friends in Massachusetts.  We did things like wander through and buy our lunch in the Armenian section, explore a "hidden" pocket park across the harbor from downtown Boston where we ate our lunch, go to Fenway for a Triple-A baseball game (Buffalo Bisons vs Pawtucket Red Sox) that the Bisons won, have dinner with more friends, enjoy a leisurely Sunday brunch, visit the Clark Museum, and attend a mind-numbing lecture on the importance of a recent discovery in China.  The latter was the only glitch in the weekend, but since of the four of us in the car three were teachers and one an administrator (all retired), we had a good time discussing how the lecture could have been improved and in doing so, discovered that we knew and had learned more than we thought.
I do have a few photos to share.  The above is the view from the deck outside the kitchen of the Massachusetts friends' home.  I love watching the fog lift, and if I'd managed to get up earlier, the colors would have been even better (or so I was told by another righteous guest!).
You can tell that our weather was none too wonderful, but I think it makes this view of Boston harbor even better.  Barge, police boat, and Boston fisherman - oh, and that sailboat near the barge - all against the city in the background.  Love it.
And while this has nothing to do with Boston, I wanted to share this burst of color from Mary Ellen.  She dropped this off to brighten my post-surgery last Wednesday, and don't these colors make your heart lift?  What is even more lovely is that this photo was taken this morning!  These blooms greeted us in all their splendor when we returned home yesterday.

Makes the gray of the weekend, while lovely in its own way, clearly a "neutral" color.  There's nothing neutral about these blossoms!  

Thursday, August 16, 2012

New Report on "Good Vision"

For all of those of you who were concerned after my posting of yesterday, thank you for your notes and words of reassurance and comfort.  You all were correct; the grittiness did not last, and I feel so well that I decided to write today after all.  Indeed, that painful experience disappeared quite rapidly as it was a thing of the past as soon as this morning!

When I awoke this morning, I knew immediately that my eye felt better, but I was afraid of broadcasting the news to D until I removed the eye shield and could open my eye.  Once that was done, my eye still felt very good.  If you've ever had an allergic reaction and had the white of your eye swell, that's what it felt like this morning.  Trust me, that is nothing compared to the discomfort of yesterday.

My early morning doctor's appointment with the surgeon went quite well; he was pleased with my recovery so far and not at all concerned about the fact that I still flunked the eye-chart test.  I don't have to go back until next week.

Here's my real surprise of the day.  Around supper time I took off my glasses so I could rub my itchy non-operated-upon eye.  When that eye, my "good" eye, was closed, I realized that I could see distances better with the surgically enhanced eye than with the other eye even with glasses.  The focus is already settling down! 

It is truly amazing.  Of course, I'd like to be able to read with either eye, but I guess I'd better not push it.  Oh, I asked today, and it turns out the doctor does not think my left eye is ready for surgery, yet.  So I'll have to wait until that one gets really bad, but at least when that time comes I'll have one genuinely sharp-sighted eye!

Just call me "Hawkeye" (but don't hand me a gun!).

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Road to Good Vision

Here I am after this morning's surgery to remove a cataract.  I was feeling pretty well here and definitely quite happy to have the procedure finished - actually more happy that the promise of better vision is closer to coming true.

Shortly after this photo, I was able to remove the patch (very disappointing - no sense of color or embellishment at all!) and will only have to wear the transparent shield without the underlying bandage at night for a week.

Several things I discovered today.  The procedure is completely pain free and also free from the "yuckiness" that one might anticipate (it is the eye, after all).  But the after effects of tranquilizer and the anesthesia are not pleasant (I recommend chicken noodle soup and crackers to combat the queasiness) but don't last long.  The other and completely unexpected thing is the "gritty" feeling in the eye that is close to being really painful.  Acetaminophen helps yet the constant tearing which causes a constantly runny nose combined with the discomfort of the "grit" is no fun at all.  (There aren't any actual particles of grit in the eye; it merely feels like it.)

Yet when one considers how incredible the whole procedure is now compared to when our grandparents went through their different and far more traumatic version, what I am experiencing is a mere bagatelle.  I simply wish I had known  - which is why I'm passing it along to you.

This will may be it for this week as I do find bright lights (and computer screens) bothersome.  Thank you all for your warm wishes and hopes for my speedy recovery!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Appointment Times

Early afternoon appointments are my least favorite.  They're the ones offered when all the "good" (i.e., favorite/preferred times) are taken.  If I were to conduct an informal survey, I think the majority of respondents would give either the first appointment or the last of the day as the favored time.

If you have an early appointment, it forces one to be organized.  The night before one lays out clothes, puts phone, keys, purse/wallet on the expected surface near the exit door, coffee/tea is set up, lunch is made and in the refrigerator, pills (if any) are out near the coffee/tea so they won't be forgotten, and one is ready to rock and roll the next morning.  "What about showering?" you ask. "A mere matter of preference," I respond.  Some people always shower in the morning and get up a little earlier to take care of it while others prefer evening ablutions and don't change there, either.  Breakfast?  Simple.  One eats after the appointment, of course!

The end of the day appointment suits those who just can't do the morning routine for anything or anyone or for those who can't handle one more need-to-do item with their already full-to-overflowing a.m. schedule.  For them the end of day is perfect.  They're already up and dressed and have been for a long time so nothing extra needs to be done on that front.  They're also already out and about in their mode of transportation.  An appointment may give an excuse to avoid dropping off the dry-cleaning, picking up the fish for dinner, or any other unpleasant/tedious errand.  All that is required is that they remember the appointment, get there, do "it", and roll on home.

It's those mid-day appointments that catch one.  One is always engrossed in something that really needs to be completed at the very moment that one is reminded that if one doesn't get going right now, one will be late/miss said appointment entirely.  That means that either one sits around trying not to get engrossed or that one misses the appointment and has to pay for it anyway.   If one does make it in time to avoid the clenched teeth smiles of those who have been doing filing chores for 30 minutes rather than important, fun work simply because one was late, there is the problem of what to do after the appointment.  It's always either too early or too late to do whatever one wishes to do.  Basically by the end of a day that has a middle-of-the-day appointment, the whole day has been unproductive, no fun, and down right no good.

Guess which appointment I had today.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Fairy Quilt #1 - Finished!

Here is the first fairy quilt, and despite a book of the same name, I've named this quilt "Twilight".  The colors in this quilt were drawn from the dark border and the companion fabrics (seen in six of the blocks on the quilt top proper).  It will be interesting to compare this one with the second quilt which has the same border and some other similarities.  Oh well, we'll see when it's finished.

I am pleased with this one as my mental vision worked out as I had hoped.  The dark border gives the quilt a bit of punch and pulls it together while the top remains bright.  The fish on the loose in "Liquid Assets on the Loose" worked so well that I thought the fairies should fly around also.  While I don't think you can see them very well, there are seven fairies that have escaped their blocks to visit others.  Here are some additional photos:

I don't know if you can tell, but the thread used to applique the fairies is metallic.  When I asked D what he thought, he said it looked like fairy dust.  Wow, how wonderful a comment was that!  No surprise there; he is astute, but, oh, what a glow that gave me.

Then to finish my day with a different but also special treat; I ate a home grown tomato.  Alas, not one of ours (squirrels and chipmunks take one bite out of and then toss any and all tomatoes we have tried to grow in the last several years).  This tomato came from the garden of Mary Ellen, and it was as sweet and tangy as she.   Thank you, ME!


Sunday, August 12, 2012

Deadlines and Reality

Looking at my calendar for the next few weeks, I have come to the discouraging conclusion that the two fairy quilts will not be done when I hoped they would be.  Yesterday I was able to complete the "slide" blocks and attach them to the last two rows of fairy "screens".  Now the center top of the first fairy quilt is finished.  Tomorrow I should be able to add the borders and the quilt will be complete.

However, I then have to cut some additional fabrics for the "slide" blocks of the second quilt before I can begin to put that one together.  And then the process begins anew.  These quilts make up quickly, but one doesn't always have a clear stretch of time.

Here are my stumbling blocks.  Monday and Tuesday are relatively free.  Wednesday I have cataract surgery, Thursday I'll be fuzzy-eyed, and Friday we are off for a baseball weekend.

Fairy quilt #2?  Oh, it will be squeezed in there some time!  When?  Well, when I can.  Will I be able to meet my self-imposed deadline?  It doesn't look like it right now, and that is a disappointment.  However, I will continue to work as hard as I can to get them completed so I can move on to other promised projects as well as UFOs.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Fairy Quilt #1, Report

There are several wonderful things about sewing for children, but I'm going to be very selfish and tell you that today I am most pleased that quilts for children are small, usually simple, and - well, childish.  It turns out that I had not made enough "slide blocks" and had to stop putting the quilt together after only four rows.  Here's what it looks like today.  Remember it is minus two rows in length and borders:

Looks quite small, doesn't it?  Fortunately, most children sleep in a twin bed and need a quilt that is more of a blanket than a bedspread (which requires extra length for both the "tuck" under the pillow and the over-the-pillow, too).  It is 41" wide now and will be sixty something long when all the rows are added.  The border which will be the same for both girls is the dark purple fairy fabric's coordinating border. 

It's not particularly eye-catching, but I think the center portion will make it bright and happy.  Having never been to Nebraska in the winter, I think a light, bright  quilt will be appropriate.  Oh well, I've always liked  Cecil Mary Barker's fairies, and they brighten my day!  Childish things  . . .

Tomorrow, back to the cutting board.

P.S. M, I'm sorry there's no photo of the partially missing eyebrow.  All I got when I took the picture was a shot of some hair and the wall behind my head. I still think purple eyeliner would be great!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Fairy Quilt #1 Progress

This isn't going to be very exciting, but I am thrilled to tell you that considerable progress has been made on the first of two fairy quilts for my great-nieces.  My final choice of pattern was an older one of Atkinson's patterns called "Slide Show". 

 After cutting out the main 8-inch "screens" from the collected fairy fabrics, the white tone-on-tone (aka white design on white fabric) background, and the border fabric on Monday, I washed, ironed and cut the fabrics for the 2-inch "slides" that will surround the "screens" yesterday.  Those fabrics were washed before using because they are primarily batiks, and those can run.  Quilts for children will be washed over and over again, so I try to avoid the purple/red/pink slurry that might occur later by washing now.

Today I was able to start on the assembly of the slide pieces and actually managed to finish all of them.  That means that tomorrow, I will be able to begin construction of the whole quilt.  It will take longer than I think because it always does.  And I will have to lay it out and arrange and re-arrange and re-re-arrange the pieces before I am satisfied.  To say nothing of last minute second-guessing-while-sewing!

If I can keep this momentum going, I will be thrilled.  And surprised.  You see, I think using a pattern the first time is exciting.  It's the thrill of discovery; what will this look like in the fabrics I've chosen?  and each step of the sewing is a "reveal".  Well, I've seen this pattern made with a gorgeous selection of batiks, and I've seen the photo on the pattern itself.  Now I'm creating a new look (in my experience of the pattern) with the fairy fabrics.  That's fun.

However, the second quilt is also being made from fairy fabrics.  Different colors for the "screen" and "slides" but basically the same idea.  Will tedium set in?  I hope not, but if it does, I will just have to work through it beacuse I have quite a list of projects to complete before . . . well, before long. 

And as usual, you know exactly what I mean!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Stone Wall

Every week D visits his father who lives in a very small town in rural New York.  His father still lives in the home in which D and his sisters grew up.  As you look at the house from the sidewalk (its actually a cement walkway now instead of the old slate slabs that were there when I first visited), there is a large house to the left which is almost on top of the creek that meanders its way through the town. 

As you would expect, that creek has meandered for centuries and has deposited stone in the fields that border it now and may once have formed the creek bed in the past.  Farmers and homeowners in the area find these stones all over their land.  The stones are not the cobblestones used in the northwestern part of the state in homes and municipal buildings (even in our own area there are cobblestone buildings that are still standing).  The stones that are found in D's home town are flat with rounded edges.  If you look at the photograph below, you can see the stones in the wall and contrast it with the stone above the wall that is between two oak trees.  The upper stone is local - all rough, sharp points, uneven thickness, gouges, and humps (painful to move!).

Earlier this summer, D asked his father's next door neighbor (the one close to the creek) if he would pile the flattest of the stones he was removing from his fields on the edge of Dad's driveway.  It was easy enough to do and a great way to get rid of unwanted stone, so the neighbor obliged.  Week by week D would pile stones in the trunk of our car then drive home unload and pile them in a corner of our driveway.  When he had enough, he started to build the wall you see in the pictures.

Today I took several photographs of his finished work so they could be sent to his father to show him what he had done with "all those rocks".  Didn't D do a wonderful job?  I love the way it looks - so much that you're going to have to look at some more photos:

Earlier I spent some time re-reading Robert Frost's poem about stone walls because I thought I would quote some of it here, and I don't know it by heart.  In my wanderings through sites mentioning the poem, I came across this entry from a blog and thought you might enjoy this, also:

On Stone Walls And Robert Frost

The Lake Champlain region of upstate New York feels, to me at least, more like New England than like the mid-Atlantic states. It is separated from rustic northern Vermont only by the blue waters of the lake, and the signs of a New England approach to life are everywhere evident.For example, you cannot take a walk on a country lane without seeing many stone walls, in various stages of repair and disrepair. Some are clean and sharp-edged, some are rambling and covered with flowers, and others are vine-covered, weedy, and completely unattended, only a year or two away from full-scale collapse and a wholesale return to nature.
And who can see a stone wall without thinking of Robert Frost? His wonderful poem of ruminations on stone walls, their inevitable decline and decay, and his annual meeting with his neighbor to replace the stones in their common wall, Mending Wall, begins as follows:
Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
And spills the upper boulders in the sun,
And makes gaps even two can pass abreast

While those weren't the lines I was going to quote, I enjoyed this writer's introduction and thought you would also.

Monday, August 6, 2012

A Normal Monday

Weather-wise today was really amazing after the heat and humidity through which we've suffered.  When I stepped outside to greet ME, I was amazed.  Yes, I had listened to the weather reports, but I can't say I remembered what was said.  Actually, I can tell myself very sternly that I must focus on what the weather person says, but inevitably, by the time he gets to a comprehensible discussion of what is going to happen, my attention has wandered.  Awful, isn't it?  I just never cottoned to the weather portion of earth science, and a scientific discussion just send me into a stupor.

Anyway, it was a grand day, and ME and I went up to Karen G.'s to pick up and drop off quilts.  As always, she had done a great job quilting ME's baby quilt (such sweet fabric!), and on M's quilt for me.  You may not remember but I managed a few years ago to purchase a quilt from two of my first quilting teachers and that this one was an unfinished top.  Now the quilting is done, and I get to do the binding, oh joy, but it will be a labor of love.  All I have to do now is convince P to sell me a small one of hers and my collection of my first teacher's work will be complete.

ME left some work for Karen G. and so did I.  In a few weeks I'll have somethings to show you.  I hope ME will give me permission to show you hers.  One is really fun in a non-traditional way, and the other is downright lovely.  My two you've seen already:  "Liquid Assets on the Loose" and "Recess" (the pinwheel one).

Other than that, it was a normal day of keeping appointments and some fabric washing and ironing so I'll be ready tomorrow to finish cutting out the fairy quilts for two of my great nieces.

Enjoy this cooler, drier weather.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Friendship Groups

There is something remarkably special about the bond created initially by a shared enthusiasm.  At this time when so many of us are watching the Olympics, that is obvious as we watch the way teammates with a common goal interact.  What we don't always recognize is that the same things happen in our own lives and not just within our families.  Those of us who are lucky enough to participate in a reading group, gardening club, tennis lessons, charitable organizations, or other groups of like-minded people have the opportunity to develop a similar team feeling.  If we want to, if we work a little at the development, we can have a group to whom we can turn when times are great, so-so, or downright dreadful. 

I am fortunate enough to belong to a couple of such groups in various stages of becoming, but the one that met today and last Sunday is the longest lasting and farthest along in the journey.  It is the one that is most significant in my life.  That is because it is a group of people who worked at developing the first threads of liking into friendships and once those friendships were formed, they were so delightful that others were invited to join us.  We aren't a large group, and we are still evolving, but oh, my, it is such a joy to get together!

As I sat this evening musing about today's gathering, I found myself hoping that this will continue even though I understand that lives change.  There may be times when we drift away from our shared pleasures.  However, I also think, that if the link we are forging now is strong enough, we will always return to the group, and it will be as though we had never been apart.  

While I know that men form friendships, theirs seem to be different from those nurtured by women.  After all, their needs and desires are different from ours.  But watching my husband reconnect with people from college days has shown me that that much is the same - friends remain friends at some level even if life has changed the person.   The ties may no longer be as strong, but the memories of shared days and events will always be there to make connection possible. 

I am optimistic about the future of my group of friends.  After all, we are already at a point in life where our characters probably won't change a lot although our circumstances may.  We all realize how important friendships are and how lucky we are to have each other.  We also know that this will take effort to maintain but are willing to do so.

Life is much sweeter when shared with friends who laugh with you.  Thank you, Ladies! 

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Photos from New Hampshire

We're back from visiting D's cousins at their camp on a New Hampshire lake.  Tonight I will simply share some photographs from our time their with the cousins and D's sister.

I couldn't resist the colors and the way the fence in back and the cut logs on the left contrast with the smooth kayaks and canoe.

Two buildings ready for a painting - notice the colors and the dappled sunlight in this one.

Don't the trees look like guardians protecting this tiny knotty pine building?

You might not recognize this blog if I didn't post a flower picture somewhere.  Aren't these splendid day lilies?

Next week we'll be back to normal - at least for a while.  There will probably be more detail about this trip and whatever else is going on in my world.

Have a good and restful weekend!