A place for family and friends to see what I'm up to. Visitors welcome here.

Hail Guest, we ask not what thou art.
If Friend, we greet thee, hand and heart.
If Stranger, such no longer be.
If Foe, our love will conquer thee.
-Old Welsh Door Verse

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Summer's End Ramblings

Just about three weeks left.

I leave Monday for two more weeks in Utah, then will be home for one day before I have to be back for staff development and the beginning of another year. Even though my job reached the level of "grind" about five years ago, I still get a little reminiscent thrill of seeing the back-to-school supplies in the stores. I'm grateful that I can still remember fondly the days when, as a kid, I couldn't wait for boring summer to be over so I could go back to school. I know a lot of folks can't say that.

I didn't get nearly what I wanted done, done, this summer. The organizing of my room project is still half (not even) done. There are still untouched weeds in the front beds (and the side yard and the backyard). There are six ponypacks of dead annuals still sitting on the plant shelf in the front courtyard and a dozen living plants that should go in the ground. There are piles of partially completed projects in the family room. Kitchen. Hallway. Spare room.

Whether it gets done or not matters only to me. What matters more to me is whether I feel like I've had a break this summer, and I really have. Which brings me to the ramblings.

From time to time I just have to stop here and thank everyone who takes the time to blog. You have so enriched my life! It takes time to read through my list of friends (some daily, some not quite so often but I check in on all of you at least a couple of times a week). Time my own little Jiminy Cricket whispers that I should be cleaning or weeding or sorting or whatever. But I'm more compelled to spend time with all of you. You inspire me, comfort me, encourage me. You make me cry. You make me laugh.

Thank you.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Um, we're shaking.


Yes, yesterday we had an earthquake in SoCA. I had a kitchen full of union officers for an Exec meeting. I was standing at the sink and didn't feel the first roll. One of the women said, "Um, we're shaking." Then it picked up and really shook for several seconds.

We get all this training at our schools (duck under tables and so on) but really around here we just pretty much stand and watch and enjoy the ride while we figure out how bad it's really going to be. Considering that my house looks pretty much like a gift shop with all my "stuff," this wasn't bad at all. In fact, I've noticed that the last three quakes we've had seem to roll north/south. Since most of my "treasures" are on shelves on the east wall of my room, they haven't tumbled (yet - knock on wood).

It was kind of funny when I checked on things later that afternoon. I have these three little toys from Disneyland on top of my old monitor

and the only thing in the house that toppled in the quake was the middle alien.

I called my parents right away to make sure they were doing OK. They live in Simi Valley and suffered a fair amount of damage from the Northridge quake in 1994 . The worst (to me) was that Mom had a half dozen old Fenton glass vases that had belonged to her mother (who had died when I was 3). I had loved those vases my whole life. They were "pink" (actually more a mauve), and "bumpy" and had "ruffles" on the tops. They were kept in one of three lawyer's bookcases that mom has for her collections in her dining room. Only one of the cases toppled.

Can you guess which one?

Yep, the vases were pulverized. Disintegrated. Reduced to dust.

What was weird was that Mom had just had one returned to her after over forty years. When I was born, someone had brought a bouquet of flowers to Mom in one of those vases. The family showed up to help Mom gather her stuff to bring me home from the hospital and when Mom had a chance to settle she realized that she didn't have that pretty vase. For 40 years she was mad because she assumed one of the hospital staff had stolen it. Years later her cousin came down from Sacramento for a family reunion and presented Mom with the vase. Her mother (my mom's aunt, Grandma's sister) had taken the vase home with her and never got around to giving it back to my mom. Mom got it back in August, the earthquake hit in January.

Anyway, yesterday after my meeting the mechanic called to say that my car was ready (major tune-up, new brakes, new windshield wipers - boy, does it run nice). I was talking to one of the guys at the shop about the quake and we agreed that these little ones are kind of fun (although he had a moment of concern watching the car that was up on the lift rock back and forth) and - geologically speaking - we like having the pressure released a little at a time rather than building for a major quake.

It's weird how different parts of the country are about our natural phenomena. Nobody likes having to plan for "The Big One" whether it's a quake, tornado, hurricane - whatever. But most of us 1) don't take our own as seriously as folks in other areas and 2) would rather keep ours than have theirs. I remember (and think I've written here about it before so won't double bore with the details) being in the "This is the town we're concerned about" town as a tornado was building in Kansas. Mom was in a panic to get into the basement but my cousin (whom we were visiting) was standing in the backyard watching the storm come. Frankly, I wanted to watch, too, but Mom was too worried to I went down to - literally - hold her hand.

I've decided to take my Mom to Utah with me for my vacation. Part of the appeal of the trip was to be totally alone for a few days, but I can tell she needs to get away for a while (and visit some quilt shops and mostly just be away). We'll have a good time. She's easy to travel with. The only issue we have right now is that she has fallen three times this year because of her bad knee and lack of vision in one eye. I've told her to bring her walker (she hates it) and I'm going to insist she use it. I don't understand why she balks. She understands how much easier it is to walk pushing a shopping cart and I've told her that "walking" Disneyland is actually easier on my pushing her in the wheelchair than walking it on my own because the chair takes some of my weight and helps with my balance issues. I hope if I can nag encourage her during this trip that she will get over her reluctance and use the walker more around town.

We'll be stopping at quilt shops on the two-day trip up. Not as many as we used to, but a few. She likes Nancy's in Las Vegas, so we'll hit that on Monday. We'll spend the night in Mesquite, NV, then on Tuesday we'll stop for a break at the Lazy Daisy Cottage in St. George, then later at Corn Wagon Quilts in Springville. Sometime during the week we'll go into Ogden to Shepherd's Bush (although Mom's not as much of a cross stitcher as she used to be) and to Gardiner's. If she's up to it, we may try Quilt Quilt Quilt, Etc. in Sandy (three buildings, quite an experience) and Gardner Village in West Jordan.

Gardner Village is just a terrific place to spend a morning (and afternoon). Archibald Gardner moved to West Jordan in 1853 where he built his mill (and his family). He built each of his eleven wives her own little house along a stream. Today the houses and mill have been restored and others added to create an adorable collection of shops. The mill also houses a restaurant chock full of old-fashioned food and atmosphere. My favorite shop there is Pine Needles which jams a delightful collection of stitchery and quilting supplies into a fairly small space. The village also has a terrific Christmas shop and, last time I was there, a great scrapbooking store, too. Unfortunately, though, I wore Mom out last time we were there so that she couldn't enjoy the Sandy quilt stores. This year if we get into that area we'll just go to the quilt store, then if she's up to it, to Pine Needles and stop at that.

My sister is trying to pull together some time off to bring her son and my dad up for the annual Ogden Valley Balloon Festival. On the one hand, it's a hard time for her to get time off. The construction company she works for is pulling together a big project right now. On the other hand, I think she would enjoy the trip up and I think her son would enjoy the drive up and some of the stuff he could do up there. We'll see. If she can work it out, that will be great. If not, maybe with some lead time we can work it out for next year.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Long Beach Quilt Festival

July 25, 2008

This was when I realized I didn't have a memory card in my digital camera (although, as I've already whined, I was lugging five fully-charged batteries). This is the Long Beach Convention Center. Across the building face (behind the name of the building) are these fabulous flags. I really wanted a good picture of these flags and took out my camera, moving, moving, moving until I had just the right angle. I turned up the camera, lifted it to arranged my shot in the monitor and read "No memory card present." I almost cried.

Directly behind me (and my next planned shot) was the Queen Mary, permanently moored right across the street. (BTW, if you're in the area, do take the Queen Mary tour. It's very interesting!)

Anyway, I left home at about 6:00 am and drove up Pacific Coast Highway for the first leg of my trip. I had downloaded "Praan" by Garry Schyman (the music for Matt Harding's "Dancing". I'm tellin' ya, if you haven't watched it yet you're missing an easy serotonin rush.) And listened to it all the way to Long Beach.

Traffic was historically light, a sure sign that the obscene gas prices are keeping people at home.

I picked up the 10 for a short distance, then the 405 south to the 710 and from there just had to follow the signs to the convention center.
I arrived at about 8:00 am and got a fantastic parking space about twenty steps from the elevator at the entrance (which proved a boon when it was time to leave). The doors were open to the Center because there were lots of quilters checking in for workshops. I used the restroom, then headed back out to take the ill-fated pictures. After smacking myself around the head for such an enormous blunder, I went back in to the information booth to ask if there was anywhere to buy another memory card. I was told they did have them at the IQA booth on the festival floor. I waited for another 45 minutes in line (but was only the tenth person when the ticket booth finally opened at 9:00 am (there were at least 200 behind me when it opened). Ticket in hand I returned to the center lobby and, after another "just in case" trip to the restroom, waited in front of the escalators for the festival hall to open. I had a lovely pro-Obama conversation with two other women in line then, at 10:00, the announcement "Ladies!" came. I hugged my two new friends good-bye and headed in to the hall. I stood in line at what I thought was the IQA booth (it wasn't, it was the t-shirt-tote bag- pin booth), but they kindly told me how to get to the IQA booth. The booth couldn't be farther away (across the next exhibition hall along the back wall).

They did not have memory cards so I ended up buying the previously referred-to POS camera. Better than nothing, I suppose.
I bought a throwaway camera (800 speed) and took eleven pictures. Only four are worth sharing (the light was that bad in the hall that even 800 couldn't pick things up.)

My plan was to see the vendor floor first, then see the quilt exhibit if I had 1) time and 2) energy. Never did see the exhibit except in passing looking for the IQA booth.

As I returned to the vendor hall after buying my camera I hung a right into the first vendor row and look who I found!

This is Marilyn Petersen. Marilyn and her husband, Jerry, own Cotton & Chocolate, my "local" quilt shop. Actually, it's in the next town but I always preferred it to the one here in town (I must not have been the only one 'cause the one here is no more.) Of course, I can never return to Cotton & Chocolate because I'm posting such a hideous picture of Marilyn who is really a very pretty woman and - except in my photos - looks to be easily twenty years younger than she looks here. C&C is one of those "feel good" quilt shops. Two minutes around Marilyn and you just know you can do ANYthing. In fact, when I took this picture she was multitasking and giving me permission to take the picture, entering purchases and assuring a customer just how easy the quilt she wanted to make would be because Marilyn and her troops had included everything they would need (even the little helper tools) in their kit.

At this point in my day I was determined to stick to the cash in my wallet so passed on buying anything for that entire aisle and most of the next one. My downfall came here:

I have a real talent for making women look bad, don't I?

This very nice lady is Susan Clarke and her booth was filled with the most beautiful buttons and charms I've ever seen.

Last summer my mom and I stopped at a quilt shop in the little town of Sidney, Nebraska (claim to fame, Corporate HQ of Cabella). I stood at the front counter drooling a a little old lady debated whether or not to purchase the last of an exquisite strawberry button. Finally she decided not to buy it and I did, lamenting that there wasn't a second one. This booth had LOTS of the strawberry button because Susan Clarke (and her husband) make the buttons. All discipline evaporated and I brought out my new Disney VISA for the first of several purchases of the day:

I added the quarter to give a size comparison. From L to R, top is a nest of robin's eggs, a piece of honeycomb with a bee hanging from it, a gecko; second row is a pumpkin filled with trick-or-treat candy with one piece of candy hanging from it, scissors, my famous strawberry (yes! a second one); third row is a fountain with bluebird, I LOVE QUILTING (I wish you could see the colors better on this), an autumn leaf ( I wish you could see the colors better here, too); bottom row a bird and two versions of a pine bough with cones. I can see myself using these on quilts or stitcheries or cross stitches.

I'm embarrassed to say that once that VISA card lost its virginity, it became a quilt festival whore. It's next purchase was a handful of patterns by Debora Konchinsky of Critter Pattern Works. This one took my breath away.

This picture doesn't even come close to showing how gorgeous this is. Here is a close-up of a few of the blocks. What the pictures don't capture is that Debora used metallics and variegated threads for her quilting so the birds actually glow like real hummingbirds.

This was actually a kit and these are the fabrics for the quilt.

I also picked up Arctic Critters and Small Forest Critters from the same booth (patterns only). Small Forest Critters has outstanding raccoons and opossum figures.

So how did I end up going to this festival in the first place? I went through the list of exhibitors ( dozens - maybe hundreds? - of them) and found that one of my favorite stitchery designers would be there. Bird Brain Designs had a three-booth spread full of tempting designs. I picked up a half dozen patterns (one went to my mom). These are my favorites. I love the little bird's nest in this one:

I had done this chart a few years ago

and this one seems to go with it so I got it, too:

All my stitchery fantasies came true at this show. I was able to find Crabapple Hill's Hocuspocusville and Halloween Journey as well as their Crazy Quilt Snowman (all of which are MUCH cuter in person than in pictures.) One of the booths also had Barrie Sue Faudet's (Bareroots) new "Happy Easter" wallhanging and last year's "Christmas Time is Coming" advent calendar (which I've looking for in shops for a year now with no luck.

Finally, I was blown away when I came upon this booth.

I've been collecting pictures of jazz greats and fabrics with a vague idea of doing a wallhanging or lapquilt for each of my sons someday, but nothing ever inspired me. This is Tammie Bowser and she has developed a computer program that makes the making of these mosaic quilts fairly easy (or so one of her customers said when she stopped by the booth to tell Tammie about having her school home ec class make one of these quilts.) I bought the computer program in a show deal that included a couple of books.

Those are the highlights of my purchases. I did get a few small paper-piecing patterns and three stitchery patterns from Giggleedesigns.com.

So, I've spent two weeks cleaning out my room, earning about six vertical inches of 12x12 storage space in the process and brought home a good foot worth of patterns.

What was I thinking?

Answer: I wasn't. I was caught up by the beauty and overwhelmed by the talent and the excitement of other quilters.

It's OK.

I just can't go next year.

Or ever again.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Good News, Bad News

The good news is that I had WAY too much fun at the Quilt Festival in Long Beach yesterday. My shoes worked out great and I bought WAY too much stuff.

The bad news is that, although I very efficiently charged and put five back-up batteries in my tote for my camera, I forgot to grab the memory card out of the dock. The first picture I wanted was the Long Beach Convention Center sign with the dozens of colorful flags behind it, then I wanted the Queen Mary that you can see from the promenade in front of the center. I was there two hours early so I had plenty of time to get the pictures but, no memory card. First thing I had to do in the hall - when it opened two hours after I got there - was walk all the way past the hundreds of vendors and the hundreds of exhibit quilts to buy a throwaway camera.

I'll post a LONG report of my experiences in this wonderful show after I (sigh) get my pictures developed and scan them. The show was spectacular. I've never been to the Houston Festival so I wouldn't know, but at lunch I was chatting with someone who had spoken to people who HAD been to Houston. She asked how this show compared with Houston and they said it was about the same, maybe a little bigger. That was a surprise.

Anyway, I pooped out at about 2:00 which was a good thing because even in those four short hours I way overspent my budget so it was a good thing I left early. (I'll share some of that here in the long report). After the show I drove the short distance to Redondo Beach for a nice visit with my son and his wife. Took them to diner at Buca di Beppo. I'd never eaten there before and it was a great time. Good atmosphere, fabulous food. Best fried calamari I've ever had as an appetizer, Pizza Margharita (spelling probably not right) with obviously homemade sauce, a pork dish with a caper and blueberry sauce to die for, a shellfish linguine also to die for if we hadn't already died from the pork and all followed up with a huge slice of chocolate cake that we all picked on (because, of course, we were all too stuffed for more than a couple of bites.)

I had dreaded the trip home. Northbound out of LA on any route on a Friday night is usually a nightmare. I think it's a sign of the times (and the expense of gas) that I didn't encounter any heavy traffic anywhere yesterday, most notably on the way home. Pacific Coast Highway on a Friday night is usually bumper-to-bumper all the way to Malibu, heavy then through to about the university exit, then just busy until I turn off just past Mugu rock for home. Last night traffic to Santa Monica was lighter than normal, from SanMo to Malibu much lighter than everyday, amazingly light for a Friday night, then eerie from Malibu to home.

I think people are just staying home.

I can't stop watching "Dancing" (www.wherethehellismatt.com). I also watched his three-part lecture (youtube), which was very interesting, especially if you like animals.

There's just something very uplifting and hopeful about this video. Indeed, the world's leaders have it all wrong.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

How do you spell UGLY?

My new shoes should give you an idea.

I suppose if I were a ten-year-old boy I might think these had some element of "cool" but I think they are hideous. They do, however, come close to fitting. They are comfortable enough that I wore them out of the store, walked around town a little bit and then forgot to take them off until I'd been home for about three hours which tells me they 1) were not pinching anywhere and 2) were not too hot. They do rub a little on the heels but not nearly as badly as any other pair of shoes I've worn so I'm hopeful these will serve.

I'll be giving them a big workout tomorrow. I'm going to this:

Well, not EXACTLY that. This picture was from the Houston Quilt Festival last year. This year they're holding one in Long Beach and I'm going to check it out tomorrow. I'll leave here very early tomorrow to try to beat some of the traffic down the coast.

After I've worn myself out there I'll go to my son and DIL's until dinnertime, then we'll take a "comfortable walk" (so my son says) to the Buca di Beppo in Redondo Beach. They had eaten at one closer to us a few years back and really enjoyed it.

Meanwhile, today I have some not-so-much-fun stuff to do. I'm serving as president of our teacher's union local this year and have to go get a phone. Then, in the same role, I have to meet with the consultant who is advising us about unifying our district. This has been a HUGELY divisive issue in our area and is supposed to be on the November ballot. I don't think it's going to pass, but if it does implementation will be an enormous undertaking. Should be interesting in a district where none of the district management has been on the job more than a few months, nobody trusts anyone on the board of trustees and the superintendent (also new) is seen as an ego maniacal dictator (I'm not sure I agree with that - yet).

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

More Progress

More Baby Steps.

This is my ironing table. It's really a cool design. It folds up in the middle (so it can be moved around) and is actually designed to fit over an ironing board. It's great for ironing big pieces of fabric. I leave it out on this little table all the time. Which, unfortunately, makes it a drop/storage spot in between cleaning sessions.

This kind of stuff drives me insane.

At top left is an HO train engine. We had bought the boys a little starter HO train set when they were little. I had to have this old fashioned train engine for it. They much preferred the slot car sets and so the train set was up in the attic for over twenty years until the great attic clean-out. I would store this engine in my glass cabinet (with my similar N gauge engine) but I can't get to the cabinet because DH has stacked stuff in front of it.

So where do I store it now?

The little yellow thing next to it is a sacque I embroidered when I was pregnant with my oldest. It's the sweetest little yellow gown with orange lazy daisies embroidered down both front edges. I was going to put it on my little girl. I never had a little girl and this is still in perfect condition, so I would like to hold on to it for a possible female grandchild (although girls are few and far between around here). I don't have a cedar chest.

So where do I store it now?

Then there is a piece of paper with instructions on how to make my hydrangeas go back to the vibrant blue they were when I bought them. I've always know they needed aluminum sulfate but these instructions actually tell how to apply the amendment and in what quantities.

Where do I store this piece of paper so that I can find it when I need it?

And finally, the little brown book think is a day planner I bought years ago (the calendar that's in there is 1997). Clearly, this did not work for me. My daily planner is binder sized so that I can keep my lesson planning book in it. That way, when someone wants me for a meeting or if I need to take a day for my parents, I can check my lesson plans to see if it's an appropriate day to leave my students with a substitute. I don't want this planner, but it's in good shape, you can still buy inserts for it and I hate to just pitch it.

I guess the planner will go in the thrift store box and I guess I can fold up the hydrangea paper and put it in a gardening book. I have a box of fabric (with a few little toys) I've picked up for the future grandchildren so I guess I'll put the sacque there.

So all I have to figure out is where to store a train engine.

Here's something happy.

A few years ago I was walking through one of the local nurseries and I was stopped in my tracks by the most delightful aroma. It took me a while but I finally found it. It was a gardenia. I've never had much luck with gardenias, but this one had a tag that said it was a "new" plant ("First Love" or also called "Aimee."). They had grafted a variety with a heavy fragrance (but which had a weak root stock) onto the root stock of a more robust variety (that didn't have such a sweet smell, I guess). I paid over $30 for the plant (never have paid so much for any plant, even trees). I grow it in a big pot and it does pretty well considering I don't baby it. But every year - EVERY year - that I've had it we've left for Utah just as the buds were swelling. Two weeks later we get home and the buds are brown and dropping off because someone neglected to water as I'd directed. This year my son took better care of everything and I get to enjoy these flowers.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Watch This!

My husband said to watch this if I wanted "a grinner." I started off grinning.

Where the Hell is Matt? (2008) from Matthew Harding on Vimeo.

Then I cried for joy.

They say we all smile in the same language. Apparently we all dance in the same language, too.

I'll dance with you, Matt. Thanks!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Gulf Fritillary Pupates-Emerges Time Lapse

I refer to this butterfly in the post I'm writing now. Thought you might enjoy this.


Baby steps.

There has been some progress on the organization. This is my work table in my room. Where the computer monitor is now there was a small television/vhs player. My new computer will run dvds while I work on other things so I moved the tv into the "spare" room so that I can use exercise tapes in there. This computer system is my old system. I am still backing up old files (mostly my photo collection which I'm organizing onto disc) and things like my scrapbooking fonts and alphabets. As soon as I'm done with all that I will remove the hard drive and take the rest to the recycling center.

I'm really glad to have cleared at least this much of the table because now I can see out the window. This part of the sideyard I call the Faerie Garden. I guess it could be the winged garden because my focus here is providing for winged creatures. Today I planted one of these

It's a passion vine called 'Linda Escobar." I have a common vine in the front yard. I grow them because they are the host plant for the Gulf Fritillary butterfly. In the Faerie Garden I've tried more unusual varieties, but they act like annuals and die off after flowering. This plant is, apparently, a different species collected by Ms. Escobar fairly recently in Ecuador and the plant lists claim it is hardier than the similarly colored varieties. We'll see how it does.

Gulf Fritillaries are a wonderful butterfly to have in the garden. They are almost as large as a Monarch and a brighter orange. [By the way, I snagged these pictures from this site and assumed the photog credit would come with them. All the pictures were taken by Peter J. Bryant (pjbryant@uci.edu)]

They really grab your attention when they flutter by because their orange wings almost glow in the sunlight.

I like the underside of the wing as much as the tops.

Every part of its life cycle is fun to watch. They must be delicious to eat because they have very threatening caterpillars.

And when they pupate, the cocoon looks just like an old, dead leaf hanging on the vine.

I also grow aesclepias (milkweed) for Monarchs and violets for the little blues. We get a lot of cabbage whites (which feed on the mustard that grows all over the place here including volunteering in my yard every year) and the occasional Painted Lady. One year the Painted Ladies SWARMED through our county one day. That was REALLY spectacular. The huge yellow and black Swallowtail is a frequent visitor; they are probably laying eggs in the sycamores behind our house. Skippers feed on Bermuda grass which everyone grows here whether you want it or not (we're part of the not, but it's impossible to get rid of once you are surrounded by it. Blast those Spanish missionaries!)

Anyway, back to the Faerie Garden. I had to pull out all the grass, repair the drip system (I really hate drip) and then I could plant some new things. I planted some petunias (Appleblossom pink) and a viola and a couple of dark purple angelonias. Rocky Mountain Columbine. Once I had cleaned out the grass I found that the miniature roses (all salmon pink) and heliotrope had survived.

I have a small-leaved violet (dark leaves, little flowers) that is seeding itself all over the yard. I'm going to start transplanting them into this area.

The centerpiece of the garden is this fountain (which I am not using as a fountain at this time but I'm perfectly happy with her as a sculpture).

I saw her in a garden magazine years ago and spent about three years doing internet searches and searching my local garden centers trying to find her. (She's a Beckett fountain). I had pretty much given up when I went into my local Home Depot one Sunday morning and saw just the back of her head from the entrance. Talk about making a beeline! They had just gotten her in. My next stress was over price. My limit was (and had to be) $300. After all that time, what if she was out of my price range? But, this is a happy ending story. She's just made of resin (in other words, pretty cheap stuff) and so the price was only $199.99!


Here are some pictures of some of her attributes:

Top of her head with garland of flowers.

Yeah, her feet are kind of dirty but aren't they cute? And I love the movement of her skirt!

Here she is in her home spot with her wings. I thought I took a better picture than this. Guess not.

So, I got everything cleaned out, the watering system repaired and the new plants in. Between this planter and the house I laid new landscape cloth and covered it with red recycled tire 'bark' which looks great, doesn't wash away, doesn't decompose but is pretty pricey. Oh, well.

I refilled the goldfinch feeder with nyger seed and hung it on the slightly higher hook than it had been on before. My neighbor has a new cat that has made itself at home in my back yard. (I used to love cats; I don't any more, and I really resent this one using my newly mulched pathways for a litter box). I stopped feeding the birds using the lower hanger because this stupid cat is killing my bird friends. DH likes it, though, because it is keeping the squirrels out of his garden.

I think he needs to go scoop the cat poop and stand watch to keep the cat out of my Faerie Garden.

Like that's going to happen.

Baby steps.

Compartmentalized Again

I have drafts of three long posts saved.

None of them are worth posting. Mostly whining. Mostly too much detail on what is a pretty boring life right now.

I'm trying to get the organizing done that I've neglected during the school year (or rather, for the last four or five school years). I have actually been throwing stuff away, believe it or not (I believe it because I'm still grieving over a couple of things).

When the organizing gets too tedious I've been reading Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett. A colleague says this is her "favorite book of all time" and has been encouraging me to read it for years. My husband listened to it on audio, then bought me a copy in paperback because he wanted to share the experience. My sister-in-law dismissed it with, "Oh, the rape-and-pillage book." I found it a tedious read so alternating reading it and organizing worked out pretty well. It was fascinating the way Follett was able to give a tour guide's account of the building of a cathedral (and how all the architectural engineering elements work together) coupled with an account of daily life during the middle ages. Politics are interwoven throughout as well. The historian in me loved all that. But I found it difficult to find a sympathetic character to latch onto and so the story didn't grip me. Which was good because I have too much to do to get totally into a book right now.

Speaking of which, I'm out to the garden while it's still overcast (June gloom finally got here). I got the fairy garden cleaned out, now it's time to plant flowers.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008


I'm going to tell about my colonoscopy. You might want to skip this.

As a rule, I don't like surprises. My parents threw me a little surprise party for my 16th, and I didn't even like that. I mean, I enjoy the anticipation of events, so I felt like I missed out on part of the fun. Don't get me wrong. I am thrilled by the unexpected bouquet of flowers or the unexpected gift. But for most of life's events, I prefer to have some idea of what to expect and I DEFINITELY want to be appropriately prepared.

So, I'm going to go ahead and share about this experience on the off chance that someone else out there is anticipating having to have a colonoscopy and would like some input.

First, I'm quite late at having my first procedure. You're supposed to have your first at age 50, earlier if you have a family history of colon cancer (I don't). I won't repeat my story of suicidal neglect of my health except to say that this is one of the health hurdles that I need to check off. After this a tetanus shot and other than the follow-ups, I'm done for a while (until the cycle of yearlies kicks in again sometime after the first of the year.)

Anyway, the process started with a referral by my internist. Having only met GI Guy once I can't claim absolute confidence but was suitably impressed. He was able to figure out that the little pain in my side was a muscle pain related to a floating rib, and was heads up enough to assume that I had sleep apnea (never been tested but I do snore like a freight train so it's a good bet), which affects the kind of anesthesia used for the procedure.

I usually take a baby aspirin every day, but had to stop that for a week.

Today is prep day and is a most inconvenient day. The dread of the process this morning was significant but unnecessary (although there's no way not to dread the thought of hours of diarrhea, is there?) The instruction is to do a liquid diet thing, but I just chose not to eat at all. Given my druthers, I would never eat until after ten in the morning anyway. I just drank water all day and other than the HABIT of eating have not been uncomfortable.

At 1:00 I started the (dum dum dum) cleaning out process. There are lots of different ways to prepare for a colonscopy. GI Guy had me take four Dulcolax (they were kind of cute) at 1:00. At 3:00 I mixed up 255 mg (looks like a pint or bigger bottle) of Miralax powder into 64 oz. of Gatorade. I'm not allowed any RED dye, so that eliminated the only flavor of Gatorade I can tolerate easily. I chose the lemonade flavor instead. I had three hours to finish all this stuff and I gotta tell you, after the first 32 oz. it was making me sick to my stomach.

I drink very few beverages. Water, milk, water and - in restaurants - the occasional iced tea (no fruit, just straight brewed, don't even wave the lemon over it.) Sometimes green tea, sometimes hot chocolate and, in Utah, Cream O'Weber chocolate milk. Never have had nor plan to have alcohol and never developed a tolerance for anything with bubbles. Gagging this stuff down was a real challenge.

And then the fun began. It's 10:23 pm and I'm still hitting the toilet, although I think we're about at the end of the process and I may get to go to bed soon. The goal is to flush everything out of the colon. I won't go into the details except to say that the goal is clear fluid and that's been achieved. I wish someone at the doctor's office had noted somewhere on the written directions to pick up some moisturized wipes for this day.

The last six hours have been an adventure. I'm grateful for the internet and my spiffy computer which is just across the hall from the bathroom.

Second Installment - July 16, 4:00 PM

And everything's fine. Clean as a whistle.

I checked in at the hospital at 6:00 am (anesthesiologist had to do the deed at 6:30 so that he could be someplace else). I was there at 5:59 am having been told to tell Priscilla and she would send me directly into the room and they would check me in there. Nobody told Priscilla the process, I guess. There was another woman there before me who Priscilla had to check in (and who had the wrong records so we had to wait for those.) I reminded Priscilla that I was on fastpass, but there was no way she was letting me past her desk without making her appropriate keystrokes. As she was flipping through papers I noticed that someone else's drivers' license was attached to my cover sheet. Priscilla had to enter all my data anew. It actually went pretty quickly, all things considered, but the paperwork snafus ensured The Team would only have fifteen minutes to do their routine before the 6:30 start time. The procedure room had a bit of a Keystone Cops feel to it as everyone scrambled to finish all the hook-ups. One nurse inserted the IV while the other took my BP. The BP nurse said, as soon as the cuff deflates, roll onto your left side." Well, it deflated and I started to shift, then the cuff started to inflate again. I paused, she smiled and said, "Go ahead," I rolled up and that's the last I remember.

I woke up in recovery, still on my left side and looking at a monitor that said my BP was 110/62 which I thought was really good.

Then the doctor came in. He explained that my colon was clear, no polyps or anything. I don't have to go back for ten years.

Then he spent quite a bit of time explaining that I'd had some kind of vasovagal reaction to him pressing on my abdomen and my heartrate had dropped into the 20s (hence the low blood pressure). His simplified explanation was that as he had done the procedure, blood had rushed to my abdomen, essentially abandoning the rest of my body. The anesthesiologist fixed me and all is well.

As he told the story I was reminded of a time nearly 30 years ago when I had suddenly been struck with violent diarrhea and vomitting and had passed out. (The last thing I did on the way out was grab my one-year-old's ankle; my last thought was that maybe I could at least keep him in the hallway with me until I came to.) Anyway, DH called an ambulance and my BP was REALLY low. I saw a doctor later who had no explanation for anything, but hearing GI Guy explain all this to me I concluded it sounded like the same thing. I told him the story and he agreed. He said this is something I should always alert doctors about in the future.

Once the recovery room crew determined I was more or less lucid, DH brought me home. He stopped first for donuts, then headed to Jack-in-the-Box for a croissant sandwich (a favorite of mine which I deny myself for years at a time, but sounded like a good idea since I hadn't had anything to eat since 10:30 Monday night). I stayed in the car and took a bite from a donut while he went to JITB and discovered that I had no saliva. I chewed the donut until it was a gummy lump but had to spit it out because I didn't have enough saliva to swallow it. Which was no great hardship because I also didn't seem to have any sense of taste, either.

As the day has gone on, I have been able to eat. I remembered that after my MPS stress EKG they told me to eat something fatty as it would help eliminate the tracer from my system. I ate the croissant sandwich as soon as I could work it down in hopes that it would have the same effect on the anesthetic that's still pumping around. I don't know if it worked or not, but as the day has progressed I've felt better and better and am going to try to take another bite of that donut pretty soon.

When they warn you about this procedure and what to expect, they don't make a big enough deal about the amount of air they pump into the colon so that they can get good pictures. It's now almost nine hours later and I still am uncomfortably bloated, although that is finding resolution as the day goes on.

All in all I'd recommend giving this two full days. One for the prep, one for the procedure and recovery.

I wasn't a Tony Snow fan, but no person of 53 with little kids should have to die of something like colon cancer. Colonoscopy is saving thousands of lives every year. This process is inconvenient and a little icky, but you are totally out for the procedure itself and the rest passes (pun intended) in short time. Definitely NOT something anyone should avoid.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Gotta Love Memes

And I really do.

Love to read them, love to do them. But in the big picture of life here in SoCA I have had to draw the line at not spending time being so totally self-absorbed. Sometimes, though, there's one that sounds like too much fun to pass off. Here's one.


If you could live on another continent for 1 year, which one would you choose? Australia, for sure. Both sons have been and loved it there. I would spend a year taking stitchery and quilt workshops.


Which browser do you use to surf the Internet? Mozilla Firefox.


On a scale of 1-10 (with 10 being highest), how much do you know about the history of your country? I have a B.A. in history with American History as a focus. I've taught the subject for 17 years. I've studied our family's history up to the immigrant ancestors for 26 years. The more I learn, the more impressed I am with how truly ignorant I am, so I'd give myself a 6.

Main Course

Finish this sentence: Love is… non-judgmental and continually apologetic.


Have you ever been in or near a tornado? My aunt and cousin in Kansas live three houses up from the highway in Kansas that marks the edge of tornado alley. Five years ago I was there for a visit and we were all so busy talking that we missed the tornado watch warning on tv. By the time we checked it, the tiny Kansas town my aunt lives in was the one with the big circle on it on the weather report. The news weatherman was saying, "And this is where the real concern is." The tornado chasers pulled up in front of the house just as Mom headed toward the basement. The rest of us wanted to watch and I did for a while. A big thunderstorm with a wall of water heading our way. At some point Mom was freaking out she was so worried about me so I had to go to the basement with her to calm her down. The tornado skipped us (nobody in this town saw one) but dropped down and tore up some trees in the next town. Found out later that my aunt's brother-in-law lost a lifetime's investment in large farm equipment.

Friday, July 11, 2008

This is why...

I don't walk.

One of the world's best kept secrets (well, not now, I guess) is that I have an AA in Physical Education. I did check into being a dance major, but that was part of the theater department and theater people were - well - just too weird for my small town conservative self (I mean, the male dancers walked around in their jock straps. Eeeuw.) Having hated PE in school (unless they did a dance unit and since most PE teachers were jocks and coaches, that rarely happened) I decided to get a degree in PE with a dance emphasis, then a teaching credential and go be the teacher to did the dance units in high school PE departments. I figured I could be the advisor for the drill team, too, and have some fun. I took all the PE major classes plus all the dance classes the school offered for three years. Then I married my physiology professor (that's a long story for another day but is always good for some fun jokes), a lovely man with absolutely no sense of rhythm who hates to dance. Since, by that time, I was totally sick of school I happily chucked the whole experience and became a housewife, then a mother.

It's only after you stop dancing that you realize how much damage the activity really does to your joints. WHILE you're dancing those nicely developed muscles support everything, but when you let the muscles atrophy, the joints do start to complain. Which makes it doubly hard to get back into any kind of physical activity, and dancing is one of the worst to try to get back into because that's what messed up the joints to begin with.

So, here I am, 35 years later, a hundred pounds overweight, in remarkably good health all things considered, but with joints that are screaming about the abuse of having to carry around too much extra baggage. Two years ago I went to a new internist saying, "I need to lose weight and the only way I'm going to do that is to exercise. I need you to help me safely start an exercise program." Two years later and I still don't really have a "go" from her, or any real direction from anyone. If I could have been exercising for all the time I've spent sitting in doctor's offices being told to exercise over the last two years I would be twenty-five pounds lighter. But, none of them actually has any REAL direction. So, falling back on my ancient PE training, I decided to plan my own program. I've purchased "Chair Dancing," "Yoga for the Rest of Us," and a really good stretching video tape. I also purchased a beginning Pilates program, but after watching it can see that I'm a LONG way from that one. And what is supposed to be the basic exercise around which all of the rest of it orbits - neighborhood walking.

My plan is to walk enough this summer that I can walk to work (the school where I teach is a mile from me if I take the direct route), then walk home after work (by the not-so-direct route that will be 1.5 miles). If I can do that (works out to about an hour of walking a day in the shape I'm in), then supplement it with a couple of evenings of chair dancing and another of yoga or stretching, that would make a pretty good program.

I don't know if I've been procrastinating or if I truly just have been too busy to fit this in, but today was the day I finally pulled it all together to go on my first walk. I told myself I was not allowed to turn on the computer until the deed was done. I got my walking music out, put my walking shoes on and headed out for a SLOW full circle - 2.5 miles in an hour.

There must be music. I have two mixes. One starts with Lou Bega and moves through Traveling Wilburys, Cars, Robert Palmer, Queen. The other is a country mix. I'm not a country music "fan" (and if you look at the previous selections you can see when I lost interest in rock music, too) but over the years I've heard some that I really liked. "Cajun Moon", "Next to Me, Next to You", "Chattahoochee" come to mind. Anyway, walking is really a drag without music, so I connected myself up and headed out. I'm too out of shape to try to walk to the music (I'll get there) but it was nice to have the company.

Which brings me to the point of all this rambling and why I don't walk.


Nike used to make an Air Essential cross trainer that I loved. I could do anything in those shoes and over the years must have bought and worn out a dozen pair.

Then they stopped making them.

And I've been on the search for something - anything - else ever since. I've tried New Balance. Rockports. Sketchers. Other Nike styles. I did find a good pair of Nike walking sandals (men's) three years ago, but they're worn out now and I haven't been able to find them again. My problem is (and has been all my life) that my feet are shaped weird. Kind of like a duck's. Real wide across the instep with very narrow heels. So, if I get something that is comfortable across the instep, it will ride up and down on my heels and I get big blisters. Which is why I loved the cross-trainers. They were kind of like a half-hightop, and had a velcro strap at the ankle that I could secure enough to keep the heel from riding around.

The pair I walked in today are now bloodied in the heels. They're a semi-hightop (I had such hopes) and I've worn them to walk Disneyland several times with minor problems so I thought they'd work for this walk. Halfway through the walk I had developed such blisters that I contemplated calling home for someone to pick me up. Being willful and stubborn I decided to push on and did (Hooray for me!) finish the 2.5 miles. But the 2" bloody blisters on both heels will 1) ensure that I will not walk tomorrow and 2) will ensure that these shoes from hell will now hit the trash can.

I have a friend and colleague whose son owns a runners' supplies store in a nearby town. I think I'll go up and see what he has for me.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Summer 2008 Trip to Utah

We had a great stay in Eden (yes, that's really the name of the town). We left June 23 and got back just before sundown yesterday (July 7). We take two days to make the trip, stopping in the town of Mesquite, NV (on the Arizona border) for the first night. The trek across SoCA and the Mojave Desert is our least favorite part of the trip. On the second day, though, the good part starts with an exciting drive through the Virgin River Gorge, then through the ranch land of Utah. Usually we get to stop at my favorite ever quilt shop, Corn Wagon Quilts in Springville. From there we go through Provo Canyon to the Heber Valley, past Park City and Devil's Slide, up and over Trapper's Loop and Snowbasin and down into the Ogden Valley where there are three little towns: Huntsville, Eden and Liberty.

This is our first view of the valley.

Ogden Valley is the home of the Pineview Reservoir, a very pretty piece of water. To get to our condo we drive over the spillway of the dam and around the lake, then partway up Powder Mountain. This year we arrived in Spring, as they had an especially late winter this year with 40 feet of snow lasting well past Easter. We didn't mind as it was still quite green for this visit.

For the first couple of days we just holed up in our condominium, only venturing out to get Cream O'Weber chocolate milk (yummy!), the Salt Lake Tribune and Ogden Standard-Examiner (which carry the same crossword puzzle so that DH and I can race to see who finishes first). DH likes to watch sports on TV, so I bring my headset and books on cd to listen to while stitching. This trip I "read" The Subtle Knife, second in the His Dark Materials trilogy by Phillip Pullman (the first was The Golden Compass). I've really enjoyed this series because the reading is done by a full cast rather than one reader doing different voices.

The first project I worked on was my quilt with the embroidered sashing. I finished the pink sashing except for one butterfly. More about that later.

Saturday, June 28 was a scheduled Obama day across the country and before we left I had signed us up for a meet in Centerville. All of Utah tends to be very conservative Republican and so nobody was more surprised than the organizer of the event when upwards of forty people came to his Obamaque. He said that if fifteen people had shown up he would have been very happy!

The following Tuesday I set off for what I called "a self-indulgent day." As it turned out I didn't do everything I had planned but did enjoy the highlight of this trip - a two-hour visit to my favorite ever shop of any kind, Shepherd's Bush on 24th Street in Ogden, Utah. I joked when I got there that I had a year's worth of projects to kit up. "When your local needlework shop is 800 miles away, " I joked with Teri, one of the owner/designers, "you have to be organized." I did quite a bit of shopping, mostly for fibers that I can't get around home. They also helped me figure out the right floss for my quilt butterfly. As I did the pink sashing I decided that I wanted the butterflies to have just a teeny bit of sparkle. After making several suggestions, I agreed with them that the DMC rayons that matched the cottons - using one strand of each - for the butterflies will give me just what I want.

I got what I needed for a Trinity Easter chart I got this year

I fell in love with Teri Richards' "Scatter..." series and bought three charts and floss (and the button set for two of them.) My favorite is "Scatter Freedom... and peace."

I can hear Kathryn groaning already. Yes, I bought the Crescent Colors called for in the chart. I also bought the "Scatter Hearts and kisses' and "Scatter Eggs and chocolate bunnies." I got floss for all and the buttons for the Easter piece.

I also bought some "accessories". I got a set of Q-Snaps and one of their wonderful zippered bags (I love this fabric!).

I'm very excited by this purchase. I had read on their blog that they were selling these Q-Snap covers and I bought three of them. After using one for the rest of the trip I can honestly report that these are one of the best stitchery tools I've ever used. The cover fits over the frame and you can tuck up the extra fabric into the back of the cover. I've tried a number of "tricks" to get that fabric out of the way and this is the best I've used. I also liked the way it protected my stitchery from my fingertips.

I've reached that "magical" place on my Firefly Faeries (Marilyn Leavitt-Imblum) where I can really see the end of it and spent most of my visit working on the "orange" fairy.

Although we pretty much just hid in our condo this trip, we did venture out a couple of times. One of our favorite places to walk is called "North Arm Trailhead", the starting point for three trails. We usually walk the shortest because we love walking through the wooded area and along the river (which had lots of water since the snow is still melting throughout the mountains.)

This trailhead is at the north end of the reservoir. Pineview Reservoir is not only on the flyway for migrating birds (including sandhill cranes), it is an osprey preserve and there were nests on both platforms this year.

On July 4th we went into Huntsville for their annual pancake breakfast (where we talked to the delightful Betty and her son Mark and his family), then found a place to set up our chairs for the July 4th parade. I love this parade! You just don't find such "small town" parades around Southern California or even in many places in rural Utah. Here are some highlights (for me, anyway).

We sat near the Shooting Star Saloon, which was closed for the parade because the owners were in the parade. the Shooting Star was the first saloon in Utah.

My favorite part of the parade is the kids' and their decorated bikes. I was disappointed that there were so many gas-operated and electrical atv's (I prefer the pedaled bikes), and I got a huge kick out of the sofa bike!

I'd never been to a parade where they throw candy to the audience but apparently this is a big deal in Utah parades.

This parade always ends with a collection of antique tractors. This one has always been my favorite.

We did a little redecorating this trip, taking out the dining table from the upstairs bedroom and returning it to bedroom status. Fortunately, our friend John Lewis (the imagination behind Moose Hollow and builder for all of the Destination Eden properties) was going into town with his truck and trailer to pick up the equipment for the fitness center he's opening in the development. He picked up the mattress and frame we needed so it was very little effort for us. We missed out on all the ski season rentals this past winter because of the condo flooded, and are hoping that returning to the three bedrooms will help make the condo more attractive this winter. Of course, this will probably be a bad snow year.

It was hard to leave because we'd had such a good time but leave we did. We traveled the back route to Springville for breakfast at the IHOP, which takes about two hours. It was while we were in the parking lot that DH realized he'd lost his wallet. He gave it a few minutes then remembered he had taken his wallet out to leave a tip for the cleaning service. A quick call to the maintenance supervisor confirmed it was still in the condo. It didn't take long to figure out that we were going to have to return to the condo to get his wallet (a four-hour detour). It made for a pretty long day, but we were listening to David McCullough's John Adams on audio so it was all right. We spend a comfortable night at the Virgin River Casino and Hotel ($25 a night) where DH won $50 playing the slots, had a good breakfast at the Primm Valley Resort and got home to find our son had taken really good care of our home in our absence.

I will return to Eden in August and DH will fly up if he can. If not, oh well. I'm already planning my time. I'll take up my sewing machine to finish a foundation pieced quilt I've been working on for a friend (for three years) and some of the blocks for Butterfly Garden by Leanne Beasley. I'd also like to finish the floss portion of the Firefly Faeries and watch both seasons of Heroes in preparation for the fall season. I will have to be back to work on August 22, so I'll stay for the annual balloon festival

(which I can watch from my balcony) then make my way back home.