Back from Indianapolis

24 08 2014

Okay, so I’ve actually been back since Sunday, 17 August, but this is the first that I’ve been able to sit and write.

We returned on Sunday evening, getting home around 11:00 PM. When I woke up Monday morning, I had a sinus infection. I was down and out through Tuesday, and only dragged myself to work on Wednesday, because I knew there was a meeting I had to attend. I got through the required meeting, and my boss was kind enough to send me home.

Thursday and Friday then were a lot of catch up at work and at home, since I was so behind, from being on vacation and being sick.

I spent a good part of yesterday on the road between home and Milwaukee – Dad’s lawn needed mowing, so we drove there for me to take care of the yard and so he could get his mail. That was after walking 4 miles with Sandi in the morning. After getting home from Milwaukee and a trip to Sam’s club, I prepped meat to go into the freezer. Dad had purchased two large packages of chicken breasts, and a 6 pound pork loin. The chicken breasts were either cut up for stir fry/soups or butterflied and frozen flat for grilling/cooking whole. The pork loin, I cut into loin chops.

All in all, we have meat for six meals after that shopping trip, and that was after I’d prepped another meat purchase for the freezer. We also have two bags of pork cut up for stir fries/soup. My freezer is super full.

So Full!I call this proof that I desperately need to invest in an apartment-sized chest freezer sooner rather than later. I’m going to have to get rid of the ice cream to fit anything else into there…

We took another walk this morning, this time reaching 4.5 miles over the course of our morning walk. Long walks are not a big deal anymore, not after GenCon. I figure I walked a minimum of six miles a day while in Indianapolis.

So, anyway… GenCon was fun. I’m tentatively planning to go again next year, though I intend to make the arrangements myself, rather than rely on someone else to reserve the hotel room.

I took two belly dancing classes, and LOVED it. I’m determined to try and continue to learn to belly dance. The classes were taught by Margaret of Different Drummer Belly Dance. She did a wonderful job of making it approachable and fun. I’m also thrilled by how diverse the members of the troupe were, insofar as body types were concerned. I loved that someone curvier and heavier could be successful and beautiful at belly dance.

Different Drummer Belly Dance

I didn’t have a lot of “must-do” items on my GenCon list. The belly dancing classes were on it. Also on it was visiting Crimson Tate, a modern quilt shop in downtown Indy.

Crimson Tate Interior I

Crimson Tate Interior II

Crimson Tate Interior III

Crimson Tate Interior IV

Crimson Tate Interior V

The shop was lovely, and the staff were great. I loved the fact that there were so many fabrics on hand that I’d only been able to see online previously (shops here in Janesville tend more toward Civil War and flour sack reproductions).

So, of course, I couldn’t visit a shop in another city without buying fabric:

Crimson Tate Fabric Haul

From left to right:
1.) Cotton + Steel Basics, Dottie in Jean Jacket

2.) Cotton + Steel Basics, Dottie in Grapes

3.) Cotton + Steel Mustang, Single Border Stars in Gold

4.) Mormor by Lotta Jansdotter

5.) Merry Mustaches in White, by Caleb Gray Studio

6.) Cotton + Steel Basics, XOXO in Gold

Honestly, I didn’t actually intend to pick up so much Cotton + Steel. I actually dislike the vast majority of this particular line of fabrics. It has some excellent basics though, and in navy and mustard! And I couldn’t leave without that rich purple.

Also while at Gencon, I did a Haunted Indianapolis walking tour, as well as a tour of the Scottish Rites Masonic Cathedral in Indy, which was an amazing building. I have some photos, not as many as I would like… The batteries in my camera died a quarter of the way through the tour of the Cathedral, leaving me with the option of my camera phone, which just does NOT take great pictures. If we return next year, I will re-do this tour, and take much better pictures. I’m half tempted to volunteer to actually assist with the tour, but we’ll see. 

I’d intended to do a walking tour of the War Memorial Trail in Indy, and had actually booked it. Unfortunately, it came down to a choice of the tour or hitting up Crimson Tate. You can tell what won, right?

I’m mostly looking forward to GenCon next year, though I’m definitely planning to arrive the day before it officially opens, so that I can get my event tickets well ahead of the events starting. I might actually give into the gaming geek in me more than I did this year.





Failing…

10 08 2014

I’m going to share a secret with ya’ll…

If I reach a point in a project where I feel it’s past redemption, I throw it away. 

So, yes, this means that I’ve thrown away quilt tops and even quilt sandwiches with quilting in them.

Why? Because it’s not worth the tears and frustration of trying to ‘fix’ whatever the problem was.

Take, for instance, the quilt top that would have been called Semi-phores:

Completed Top - From an Unquiet Mind I

I’ve put about ten hours of straight line quilting into it, nearly reaching the halfway point. But, I’m getting rid of it.

I know, it seems crazy, right?

Well, I started quilting it in echo quilting meant to give it more definition. Then I realized that the quilting was created pulling and puckering, so I ripped out what I’d done:

From an Unquiet Mind - Quilting Started

And then I started again. I decided to ‘just’ do zigzags. Not quickly enough, I realized that quilting the top this way was distorting it, turning the whole sandwich into a zigzag:

Failure

Yes, the sandwich is laying as flat as I could make it. *headdesk*

I don’t think any amount of blocking is going to save this quilt.

So, rather than get more irritated at myself for royally screwing up this project, I’m going to be glad I worked out of my stash for this one, rather than buying anything (except for the batting). And then I’m going to take the remaining pins out of it, and shove it in the garbage.

After that, I’m going to switch out sewing machines, (I was doing this on my industrial machine) and do some piecing to make me feel even better.

EDIT: Dad talked me into ‘donating’ the half quilted thing to the cats as a new cat bed. I folded it into quarters and put in front of the screen door, a favorite lounging spot for the kitties. It was claimed within five minutes. I guess at least it wasn’t a complete waste.





Geeking Out

9 08 2014

It worked out this year that my husband and I could go to GenCon. For a while, there, we weren’t sure we’d be able to go, with all the stuff going on with Dad. Thankfully, our plans are holding, since Dad is doing so much better. Yes, he hurts a lot, but that’s part of the healing process.

So, we’re leaving Wednesday for Indianapolis, Indiana, and staying through Sunday, and getting our geek on. My brand of getting my geek on is probably not quite what my husband envisioned for me, but ah, well.

I’m not particularly planning on any gaming events, simply because I have a hard time paying to play something that I have access to because of my husband (he works at a local game shop, as their events coordinator). I did, however, spend quite a bit of time dithering about other activities to participate in. I finally decided on the following:

  • Thursday, at 11:00 AM – Belly Dance for EVERY Body
  • Friday, at 11:00 AM – American Tribal Style Belly Dance for EVERY Body
  • Friday, at 8:00 PM – Build Your Own Language
  • Saturday, at 11:00 AM – Tour of the Mason’s Gothic Scottish Rite Cathedral
  • Saturday, at 8:00 PM – The Haunted Walking Tour of Indianapolis

Yes, I was primarily looking for events that would keep me active while away from home. I’m also looking into touristy things I can do, outside of GenCon, and am really aiming for museums and attractions I can walk to, from the hotel.

  • Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art
  • Colonel Eli Lilly Civil War Museum
  • Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library
  • Sunday, at 1:00 PM – Indianapolis War Memorial Trail Walking Tour

Other places worth visiting look to be:

  • Slippery Noodle Inn – This is the oldest bar in Indianapolis (established 1850), and the bar offers live blues music seven nights a week.
  • Rathskeller Restaurant – Indianapolis’ oldest restaurant (established in 1894). They serve traditional German fare, as well as meals suited to those with less Teutonic-inclined palettes.

And, of course, I had to look into quilt shops in Indianapolis. Crimson Tate looks to be within walking distance of the hotel, and I really like their website design. I should really be not buying fabric, period, right now. We’ll see if I stop in…

So, anyone been to Indianapolis? What did you enjoy? Any locals who can recommend things to do and sights to see?





Finding a New Normal

21 07 2014

Last Monday evening, I got the news that I’d been waiting for: Dad was being discharged from the hospital on that Tuesday.

He’s home with me now, and we’re starting the process of learning to live around each other again. Dad and I have always gotten along well – we have about the same tolerance level for stupidity, drama, etc… It’s clear where I get it from. I am very much my father’s daughter.

Still, Dad spent some time apologizing and trying to make sure of his welcome. He feels badly at having to intrude and change our routines.

Quite frankly, I don’t find the idea of making these changes at all unpleasant. I’m just thrilled that he’s alive and that I can fuss over him. I’m happy to provide a safe and clean environment in which he can recuperate and get healthy again.

It’s actually really nice to have him around – I missed having his daily influence. He’s starting to feel spry again, and has been walking without aid of his walker. He’s even feeling confident enough to drive a bit.

Zebediah is beyond fascinated by the idea of having ‘Grandpa Tom’ around. He’s doing very well in listening to Dad, and Dad is (surprisingly) able to understand Zeb-speak easily. This was a concern for me, as Zeb has been in speech therapy for as long as he’s been in school, and there are certain words and sounds he still mangles. He also has a tendency to speak in gesture, thinking that we’ll understand Zeb-sign-language. We’re still working on teaching him to use his words with Grandpa.

In other news, Sandi (of Piecemeal Quilts) and I made a pact to go walking every Saturday and Sunday. This weekend was our first full weekend, and we walked 2.9 miles on Saturday, and then another 2.6 miles on Saturday (if I recall correctly). I feel really good today, if sore. I was trying to be mindful of my posture while walking, to engage my core. Boy, I can feel it today, as can my knees and thighs!

Yesterday, almost immediately after my walk, Dad and I took a trip to Milwaukee with my mother-in-law and son. He needed paperwork from the house, and was concerned about his lawn – the city will issue a fine if the grass gets too long. My mother-in-law wanted to visit with relatives, so she took Zeb with her, so that he wouldn’t be underfoot while I took care of the lawn.

So, while Dad hunted in the house, I mowed the lawn and attacked the edging with a weed whacker. It’s been a long time since I mowed a lawn, and it was hard! On the up side, I got more physical activity in.

I actually lost 2.2 pounds between my Saturday morning weigh-in and this morning’s weigh-in! It helps that I’m preparing meals with Dad in mind – he’s on a cardiac healthy diet, which means lots of veggies and high quality protein. We’re also eliminating a lot of the carbs from our diets, just by choice. And lots of veggies isn’t a joke around here – I’ve spent $70 on vegetables alone over the last week. And, we’re having fun with them, experimenting with stuff I haven’t had a chance to use before, like kohlrabi and patty-pan squash.

So, we’re finding our way to a new normal, one in which I have lots of reasons to eat very well and healthfully, and one in which I can stay active.





WIP Wednesday – Sewing for Sanity

9 07 2014

It’s shortly after 1:00 AM – I was awakened by a call from my father’s night nurse in the ICU. It is suspected that he is experiencing a bleed unrelated to his surgery yesterday – since being admitted, his blood pressure has been low, and not responding to medication. Tonight, they are doing an emergency CT scan of his abdomen to try to determine where the bleed is occurring.

I have suspected an ulcer – hopefully after tonight, we’ll have an answer.

In the meantime, to distract myself and hopefully quiet my mind enough that I can return to sleep, I will share what I’ve been working on this week. As mentioned in my earlier post of what feels like today yet, but is actually Tuesday… I’ve been sewing myself into a sense of peace, to keep myself from fretting myself into a state over the events of the last couple of weeks, since I had to have my father taken to an emergency room in Milwaukee.

Winged Square - Top in Progress

I completed the twelve pink and green blocks necessary for the Winged Square quilt top. My piles of HSTs are dwindling, slowly. Next up, pink and aqua blocks for the next ring. I haven’t been able to bring myself to start these. Yesterday, there proved to be too much repetition and stringent adherence to pattern for my tired, tired brain.

Completed Top - From an Unquiet Mind I

The need for a change in fabric scenery resulted in pulling out the scraps of solids leftover from my Farmer’s Wife Sampler setting. I made a huge error back when I was cutting the pieces for the setting, and couldn’t bring myself to throw away the too-small pieces.

This proved fortuitous – I was able to open the plastic shoe box of scraps and just start sewing. Over the course of an evening, I had most of a crib-sized quilt top done. Today, I added 5″ (finished) borders. I’ve settled on the fabric that I would like to use for the backing. I just need to determine how to quilt this. I’m still thinking of zigzags – I want the quilting to reflect the often jagged nature of my thoughts over the last few weeks.

Likely, this will be one of the few quilts I seek to sell or otherwise move out of my home. I am not sure that I want to retain these particular quilted memories.

Tomorrow, I will either baste and start quilting this particular top, or I will start another, using the same pool of scraps. I have plenty left, and plenty of reason to seek escapism in stitches. I suspect that the next quilt top to come out of these will be far less structured.

Linking up to WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced.





From an Unquiet Mind

8 07 2014

Real life has been rough lately.

Super rough.

I’m not sure I have words for it all…

My father’s been in the hospital since Thursday, 26 June.

I had to have him taken there by ambulance, after going to his home in Milwaukee with the intention of moving him to live in my home. He’d finally gotten to a breaking point in living with my brother, and asked for help. Due to his condition when I got to Milwaukee, my help turned out to be getting him health care that he desperately needed. The plan is still to move him in with me, once he’s recovered enough to go into a home living situation.

In the meantime, I’ve been dealing with a lot of grief, guilt, anger, resentment, depression… Mixed in with odd moments of resolve and pulling it together so that I can keep going.

Part of keeping going has been sewing. My mind quiets at the hum of my sewing machine, soothed by the focus on the movement of thread, fabric and needle. I’ve expended a lot of energy and focus on the Winged Square quilt top, but last night the rigidity of the pattern and the strict repetition proved to be more than I could handle.

I pulled out a box of solid scraps, leftover from a (large) cutting mistake when I was doing the setting for my Farmer’s Wife Sampler. The scraps were already cut into triangles, squares and strips, so I just took what I had, and started sewing. Eventually, a sort of pattern emerged and I ended up with five strips, which I then tested against a Kona grey fabric:

From an Unquiet Mind - Testing Strips

They ultimately would not remain in this configuration. I trimmed these multi-colored strips to 4.5″ wide (unfinished) and then spaced them with that grey fabric, cut into 3.5″ (unfinished) strips:

From an Unquiet Mind - Awaiting Borders

It’s not large, a generous crib size at this point. I plan to add 5″ (finished) borders to the piece, and I’m thinking large zig-zags will form the quilting.

I feel a little calmer in having brought some order to the chaos around me, but sense that there will be another quilt top in this same vein shortly. I don’t expect that my calm will last.

Soon, I have to call the hospital and check on Dad – he went into surgery yesterday, after twelve days in the hospital, to have a suspect mass removed. In removing the mass, my father will lose 40% of one lung. The expectation is that the mass will be cancerous, but testing has shown that no cancer has spread into the rest of my father’s body.

It might seem odd, but I see this as a positive. My father is a veteran, who served twenty-one years in the Air Force. He served during an era in which cigarettes were distributed with one’s rations (a practice in the US military which did not end until 1975). Since his retirement, my father has been under the care of military doctors.

It’s a tremendous disservice to the men and women who have served our country, but my experience with the healthcare provided to our veterans seems to prove out that diagnosis and treatment are not actually priorities. Considering the scandals rocking the VA in recent months, my observations seem to hold out at a national level. Nicotine dependency within the military remains high, a result both of the tobacco industry’s influence and reach as well as of the need for coping mechanisms in high-stress positions across the military (combat, peacetime and support roles all included). Due to this, I’m disappointed that screening for cancer within the VA and DoD provided health care isn’t a higher focus. My cynical side declares that diagnosis of cancer leads to expensive treatments, thus the lack of actively seeking it out within such a highly suspect population of patients.

I am immeasurably grateful to the staff of the hospital in which my father is currently sequestered. Not surprisingly, it’s not a VA hospital. It’s a private hospital, with religious roots. Their care for him has been remarkable, and my father’s progress in returning to the man I remember, astounding.

Still, his recovery (while a gift) hasn’t been enough to relieve the negativity eating at me lately. I need to find a few moments each day to center myself, and try to purge the dark that chews at me. I anticipate seeking out a mental health professional when Dad is living with me, and we’ve all found a new normal as a larger family unit.

In the meantime, I seek solace in stitches, creating wholeness where I can.





The Sum of Its Parts…

28 06 2014

Almost 1600 HSTs pieced and ironed later (though trimming is now taking place on an as needed basis), I’ve started piecing Winged Square Blocks. Despite the number of sub-units and the need to be careful of how I press my seams, these go pretty quickly. I’m estimating about twenty minutes per block.

Winged Square 01

Winged Square II

Winged Square 06

Winged Square 05

Winged Square 04

Winged Square 03

Six blocks in, and I’m feeling very good about how this is turning out so far. Too keep myself on track, I’m working from the center out, and taking breaks to flirt with the different color combinations.

WS Top in Progress 01

This morning, I said down and put the center together. I’m eager to keep building on this, and to get started on the scrap zigzag.








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