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Saturday, June 30, 2012

Bad Dreams

I had a dream early this morning. I was at the beach, with Joe. My daughter was there too. And we were with some people. Just generic people, not people with names. I'd gone for a walk, and when I returned Joe was gone. He had taken off and I could not find him.

I've had dreams like this before during the time he has been in a nursing home. After all, he isn't home. He isn't here. The one time he did take off just before I placed him in a nursing home, he was found and stopped by neighbors and returned with the help of the police.

This time the dream was different. I didn't wake up crying and screaming his name. This time I could not get anyone to pay attention to the fact that he was gone. I always try to figure out what my subconscious is trying to tell me when I dream. This time it is easy. Joe has begun to decline. Hospice is not going to discharge him because he isn't declining fast enough for their rules. This time doe is on the road to dying. This time I really am going to lose him, and no one will be able to find him and bring him back.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Dementia again

I was reading a book on my Kindle this morning. The book is LIFE IS A VERB by Patti Digh. The book is not about dementia, but the story in the early chapters was about an older woman with dementia. I found that I wanted to shake the author who is part of the family of this woman. They had to have been in denial over her sickness to have allowed her to get to the point of crisis all alone. They handled the crisis correctly, but the fact that they let it go that far without taking action just made me mad.

The early chapters of that book are actually about not seeing the fault in the people around you, which I almost find funny. But in this case the woman's family could just as easily have found her dead in her house instead of stuck in a chair she had been sitting on for a few days unable to move. And yes, I do find fault.

Dealing with dementia is very difficult for anyone involved. For one thing the caregivers don't see the changes as early as they need to, even when they are doing the best they can. We don't want that one additional change, the one that will end up changing everything, to happen. But it does happen.

I don't know if the rest of the book will be useful to me or not. The rules are filled with what I consider silly stuff, like typing on your computer with the screen off. Or just writing without editing. The stuff is silly because, as Dr. Phil would say, this is not my first rodeo. I've been journaling for years. I can write without editing on a computer with the screen up. I can write longhand for pages never looking at what I wrote. If the book gets beyond baby steps it might be useful, or not. Won't know for sure for another few days.

And then there is the question of when a book is useable on a Kindle and when it isn't. I find novels very readable on Kindles, and I have the additional advantage of not needing to find shelf space for the book after I read it. The Fire is a 7 inch tablet. That is somewhat small for most craft and needlework books. Mostly those work better as hard copy. I don't know if I will still think so when the 10 inch tablet Kindle comes out. They say later this year. I guess we will see.

Take care all.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Finished my book

This is a longer version of  a review of THE COLD DISH by Craig Johnson that I did for Amazon.com.

I don't read westerns, but I have become a fan of the TV show based on this book, and when it came up as a Kindle Daily Deal, I decided to try it. I make an attempt to watch some of the newer shows every season, and this is the season for the cable networks. Most of the new shows aren't out yet. They put the older ones on first and then their newer efforts, but Longmire, has been on for about 3 weeks now. 

In my opinion, the book is as good, in its own way, as the TV show. I don't expect TV shows and the books they are based on to track in exactly the same way. What is interesting here is that the TV show is obviously based on the first book in the series although none of the plots so far have had anything to do with this book's plot. I will be able to enjoy the series and the books as separate efforts, although seeing the series did make me willing to try the book.

The main character is an older man, who has lost his wife, and is the sheriff of a county in the western part of the US. He has an interesting group of people working in the office and sharing the duties of discovering who killed one of the men who raped a young, disabled Indian girl several years earlier. The rapists got away with it with just a slap on the wrist because they were still minors. Longmire has interesting neighbors and friends.

The writer describes the sometimes beautiful, sometimes brutal landscape this lawman works in very well. It becomes an important part of the world he lives in. You can see the space that surrounds him, and feel the oncoming winter. There is a great deal of snow in the air. There but not quite there yet. I've lived in an area where Fall is like that so it rang true that he was always aware of the weather that was coming on, and the fact that the first real storm of the season was likely just over the next hill, or in the dark cloud on the horizon, while desperately trying to hold onto the last warmth of Summer.

The countryside in the TV show is equally beautiful and bleak although so far Winter hasn't been almost a character in the story as it was in the book. The West really is beautiful and bleak all at the same time. And varied.  I've lived in Arizona and in California. I've driven through some of the other Western states as well. There is something much rougher about the landscape in the west. And no two places were alike. Some of the most beautiful places on earth, and some of the ugliest. When I drove across country 8 years ago, arriving at the green of the Mid-West and East was almost a shock. When I flew over it 30 years ago, seeing water in a river was almost a shock. It was all that different.

Take care all.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Finished Pillows

 The two pillows I've been working on are finished. I love the way they turned out.

The living room really needed something to brighten it up. I like how the off white color of the background looks against the medium beige of the couch.

I learned a lot making them. I moved out of the Advanced Beginner stage of free motion quilting into an early Intermediate stage. I now have control over where the next stitch is going to be, and even some control over the size of the stitches. At least I now know what the sewing machine is supposed to sound like when I'm moving at the right speed.

Making these pillows was an interesting experience. Once again I was doing something I'd only read about. And I found that actually doing something brings up questions that I thought I already had the answer to. Like how does one actually construct a pillow back.

This is what the second pillow top looked like right after I finished the quilting, but before I cut it down to the correct pillow size. The feathers came out very well, and I enjoyed the background quilting. All in all I think it looks pretty good.
This is a detail. A bit of the top of the feather and some of the background shells .

One thing I learned is the reason a lot of machine quilters use thinner thread. The thread builds up when you do this kind of background pattern. I'm going to need to buy some off white and white thread in a thinner size.

I also ran out of thread in the bobbin more than once while doing this pillow. And that was frustrating.



I tried the pillows out on this chair too. But when I sit in this chair I don't want a pillow behind my back.

There is a third finished pillow top. I'm thinking about getting a pillow form for that one just to have some color in this chair. I don't have to actually use it.



Take care all.



















Sunday, June 10, 2012

Pillow tops undated

I've been working on the pillow tops. The quilting on the first one is finished. I did the last two sections free motion trying to make the lines change direction in 90 degree turns. Didn't work out perfectly, but I like how it did work out anyway.








This is quilting on the newest practice piece. I try to keep a blank quilt sandwich around. The teachers all say that you need to practice before quilting every time you start a new session, and they are right. They also suggest practicing what you plan on doing on the real quilted piece. So I keep a sandwich around to do all of that on.

Doing curved lines is always easier. This is a batch of leaves. I didn't expect the entire thing to turn out looking so all of a piece. This isn't what I'm doing on the second pillow top.
The second pillow top has all of its stabilizing quilting done. There are actually quilting lines in between the crazy piecing in the triangle, but you can't see it on this photo. I'm thinking about what will go into the two beige sections.

By the way that fabric on both pillows is not white. It actually is the color that the photos came out. A kind of off white.
The quilting teachers all say that if you can draw it, you can sew it free motion. So I've been drawing feathers and sprays of leaves. I'm at the point where I ought to try it out on the machine. On that practice piece in the picture above first, and then on the pillow top.

I still have a lot of trouble getting the stitch length to be all about the same length. That will come with more practice, but the big stitches aren't anywhere near as big as they used to be, and I do have a lot more control of the directions I'm going to be going with the lines of stitches.

I've got some of my older sample pieces around. I can see just how much progress there has been. Just the fact that I'm willing to think about sewing feathered plumes is proof of where I've been going. I've bought a couple of books, and a couple of multi-session classes (from Craftsy.com) and a couple of shorter classes from other places. I've watched You-Tube videos. And I've been practicing.  I like where this is going.

Take care all.





Thursday, June 7, 2012

Works in Progress

When I blogged three days ago I was stuck. The pillow tops had come out so good that I was afraid to use my beginner quilting skills on them. So I decided to try some improvisational piecing on two new pillows. The 20-somethings and 30-somethings are calling this Modern Quilting, which as a former art student I find rather funny. Modern, as an art term, is in the past. They call today's stuff Post-Modern, and I've seen both Improvisational and Post-Modern used as terms in the new book I just got.

Here are the two new pillow tops just after I'd finished with them. Basically I looked at what was going on in Web blogs and tried to do likewise.

On the Craftsy Blog of the Month class, which is a free class on that teaching site, one of the January blocks looked something like this. The teacher's block had two cuts in both directions so she ended up with a Hash Mark (#) looking block instead of a cross. I would never have even thought of slashing into the material in this way if I wasn't taking that course. That was where I got the directions for the Five Sided Wonky Log Cabin block I have also made

For the triangle block I saw something like this on one of the blogs I read and I can't remember which one. I slashed the block and sewed the triangle I'd put together from scraps and then cut into a triangle shape into the two pieces of fabric.

Both pillows ended up a weird shape and a strange size and I had to cut the blocks down to 18 1/2 so I could make pillows out of them.

This is what the cross block looks like with half of its quilting done. I wanted to experiment with some straight line close in quilting. So I used a walking foot with the feed dogs up to do this. Turns out that although I love the look of this kind of thing, it bores me silly when I'm stitching it.

When I just couldn't do another straight line I decided to experiment with squares and rectangles. Much more interesting. I then started the second section with the same kind of close in quilting, but even with the much smaller size of the section, I was getting bored. What I ended up doing was a squared off spiral instead.


Here is the detail of the top section.









And here is the detail of the bottom section.

I wasn't sure the photos would come out right, but they did.

Next step is to try some squared off patterns using the feed dogs down and a free motion foot. That will be a lot harder than what I've been doing, but as I discovered as I worked the quilting on the Five Sided Wonky Log Cabin, free motion quilting is a lot more fun than using a walking foot.

Take care all


Monday, June 4, 2012

Pillows for the Living Room

After hemming and hawing and just not being able to get my act together, I finally sewed these two pillow tops this morning. I had made the braid months ago, and didn't know what I wanted to do with it. I knew I did not want a quilt. And suddenly this morning I realized there was enough for two pillows, and not just one. After a bit more thinking about it this is what I came up with.

 I am very happy with how these came out. They need to be made a bit smaller and they need to be quilted. There is just one problem. I don't have the skills to quilt them yet. I'm working on that, but I'm not there yet.

They aren't exactly the same as is obvious from these two photos. But they look so elegant and I don't want to ruin them. So here is another project that is going to be put away until I'm comfortable enough with free motion quilting that I'm willing to take a chance on them.

I need to come up with another small project where I can just work on free motion quilting until I am comfortable with it. Working on the wonky 5 sided log cabin was a lot of fun and I am so much better at free motion than I was when I started. So I need to find another "throw away" project to work on while I continue to get the skills I want to have.

The problem, you see, is perfectionism. I've got it bad. And when something comes out as good as these two pillow tops came out, it just makes it worse.

There are some techniques in what is being called Modern Quilting that I want to try. I've sent for a book from Amazon that will arrive Wednesday in the late afternoon. I already know one of the easier techniques from Craftsy.com's Block of the Month Class. And I just might try it.

Take care all

Saturday, June 2, 2012

The Rain

It rained last night. It rained very hard. Allentown got lucky. If there was lightening and thunder, it happened after I went to bed. And the threatened tornado did not happen anywhere near me, and possibly not at all in Pennsylvania. When I woke up this morning, the rain had stopped. Everything was wet and shiny. It was early so the sun hadn't actually begun to shine, but about half an hour later is was shining, and it is now as well.

Just a beautiful late spring day with an expected high in the seventies. I'm planning on going out to enjoy it.