Thursday, April 26, 2012

Life's little errands

There is something very reassuring about going on rather inconsequential errands and completing the normal chores of life.  It seems grounded and it's awfully satisfying when they're done.  Yesterday, I did some grocery shopping, baked a huge batch of oatmeal cookies (most are safely frozen by now), cooked beef stew in the crock pot, went to the drugstore for tissue and wrapping paper, and bought books for my niece's birthday and got them into the mail.  Today I went to the town hall to get supplies for Green Up Day (the Democrats are doing Hill St., with the city group doing the city portion and the town group doing the town's), Staples for mailers, and several loads of wash.  Later I'll get some stew into the freezer and work on sewing a binding down on the Amish quilt.  All very humdrum but part of what keeps us going.  The sun is shining and my daffodils are looking lovely.

Sunday, April 22, 2012


Just a few years ago, I would always groan inwardly when my parents started talking about health, theirs and other people's.  About 15 years ago, when we visited their friends on vacation, the conversations would almost always devolve into recitations of ailments.  I told myself I would never focus so much time on health when talking with old friends and family.  But as I've gotten older, I see why.  Our health is so important to our lives.  Since that vacation, my dad was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease, my mom had a stroke, and even I, who almost never get sick, was laid low by pneumonia for several weeks.   At 85 (Dad) and almost 90 (Mom), many of their friends and acquaintances are passing away.  Just getting around is a challenge, and these are two very active people for their ages.  I am conscious of their infirmities but also impressed by their persistance.

In recent weeks, I have had all sorts of routine tests, and I'm happy that they showed no signs of any ailments.  I don't take any medications, not even vitamins.  Once in a while I use Dr. Jarvis' sore throat cure (1 t. vinegar in 8 oz. water, sipped slowly all day), and it works.  How lucky I am - and I have a good health/dental insurance plan, just in case.

But now two friends are having extreme health problems and they are on my mind a great deal.  I'm worried, so what else would I talk about when home, on the phone with family, or when I'm talking to friends?   Carol has been in and out of the hospital and rehab for a couple of months.  Sandy just had two strokes.   I think about how I can help them as, I hope, they recover.  For Carol, I'll do everything I can to handle arrangements for the state quilt guild meeting in May.  For Sandy, that remains to be seen although I can cook, clean, garden, drive. 

I remind myself to appreciate good health while I have it.  And I'll be more patient with my parents as they share their fears and concerns.  Life is precious.   As Warren Zevon said when he was dying of cancer, "Enjoy every sandwich."

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Busy morning

I like to get all my "work" done in the mornings and just goof off all afternoon.   Sometimes "work" involves errands, and sometimes it means housework, laundry, etc.  This morning was one such, as I started out vaccuuming upstairs.  After shelling some pecans, I got the laundry started, and then Paul and I took the "over-the-john" cabinet to the ReStore.  We had our bathroom painted Wednesday, and it looks so nice and airy without the cabinet, I decided just to hang a towel bar there.  Sometime this week, we'll find the right thing and put it up.  Some art or a little quilt can hang over it.  I like the new pink color and rosebud curtains.
After we got home, I mixed up some granola with pecans, roasted almonds, formed hamburgers for freezing, and made some chili for tonight's taco salad.  I sewed a little on a binding and did another load of laundry.  Paul said it looked like an awful lot of activity, but I think women are generally better at multitasking than men.  Perhaps we are just more experienced out of necessity.  My former boss used to say that if men had to get a Thanksgiving dinner on the table, we'd still be waiting.

Now I plan to sit down with The Limpopo Detective Academy, the latest by Alexander McCall Smith, and wile away the afternoon!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Stack and Whack finished

The Stack & Whack quilt I made in a workshop with the Calico County Quilters is finally finished!  I played around with various settings, and the traditional one seemed to show the blocks off the best.  I stitched in the ditch along the sashing, did some dipsy-doodles in the last border, and stipled around each star.  I did a little spiral in the center of each star.  It was fun, even though I resisted doing one for a long time.  Each block turns out just a little differently, so it's a great surprise when one is put together.

I made a small piece using the leftover triangles that needs a border.  I cut a bunch of squares out of leftover focus fabric so I can make some "easy stack" blocks for that.  And I have tons of the orange background fabric left.  Guess it's time for an autumn colors quilt of some kind! 

Monday, April 9, 2012

Red and White blocks

Last week, after swapping and mailing back red and white 12" quilt blocks, I decided to see how mine would look together.  I tested out a variety of settings and decided that the traditional would be best - white sashing and various red cornerstones.  It's coming together nicely.  I've decided to quilt it myself, in 3 sections, and two sections are done.  Today I'll try to finish the last section before hanging them up in the closet for quilting later. 

At first, I was going to make the quilt with 30 blocks, but then decided to make it a little bigger, 36 blocks.  That meant making a few more blocks, even though I had a few extra from the Just Takes 2 quilt along.   I have to think about a final border but that can wait until it's quilted and I have all the sections together.  Piano keys?  Plain strips?  Squares?  We'll see!

It's supposed to rain most of the week which is a good excuse to stay home and quilt.  Next up will be quilting the last third of an Amish quilt which the guild will raffle off to benefit the library this summer.  AND my rendition of the guild's challenge quilt is due in May, so I've got to get that quilted, too.  Lots to do!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Happy Easter!

We are having some fine weather these days and more is predicted for the weekend.  Sunday, we plan to grill steaks for lunch.  Actually, Chris will do the honors (he doesn't know it yet but he's usually willing).  It will only be in the 50's but spring is definitely in the air.  Thus, the "Red, Red Robin" quilt at left which is on our bed right now.  I change the quilts on our bed often, turning the tops down so that the rivets on our jeans don't catch on them.

I just got back from the dentist's where I had my teeth cleaned.  In the past few weeks, I've had a pap test, a mammogram, a colonoscopy, and now this - a complete "stem to stern" overhaul.  All systems are "go," although I still need to make an eye appointment.  Guess I'll let that slide until May as the rest of the month is filling up with activities.  Paul's new book is back from the printer, so he has been running around distributing them to local bookstores for sale.  We have all sorts of events to attend or help with, including the play As You Like It, a traditional Italian dinner, a houseguest from the National Park Service late in the month, an energy fair, and the library Friends booksale.  There is never a dull moment for retirees!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Working steadily...

...but not much to show for it, yet.  I've been quilting away at my "Calico County Stack and Whack" all week.  First I ran up and down the sashing in the ditch, and then I started stipling the 12 individual blocks.  I tried outlining the Lemoyne Stars but found my stitching way too shaky.  So I did a bit of frog-stitching (undoing) and decided just to do a simple spiral in the center of each star along with the stipling around the stars.  Looks quite good.  Now I'm sewing the binding down which always takes me a bit of time. 

Last week I swapped out and mailed 12" red and white quilt blocks to four ladies in an online swap group.  They are gorgeous, but because there weren't many of us swapping, I do have some duplicates among the 32 blocks, including "Twister" which came from Quiltmaker's 100 Blocks, Vol. 1.  I'll put 30 in the top and use one more for a label on the back.  I hope to start sashing them today.  I have a few 6" blocks to include in the borders, too, so it will end up a pretty good-sized quilt.

Don't know how much sewing I'll get done today since I just started Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins, the second book in The Hunger Games series.  It's a page-turner so far.  I just finished Elegy for Eddie, Jacqueline Winspear's latest mystery set in 1933.  It's every bit as good as her last 8 books which is remarkable; sometimes series authors seem to plod along after a few installments.  And this is my week for various medical appointments.  I'll be glad when they're over Friday.  And now to do a little vaccuuming!