Feb 27, 2014

not much to report

If you are looking for quilting content, I am afraid you have come to the wrong place.  I am just not in the mood and frankly, the estate matters are taking up a bit of most days.   I am posting anyway as many of you have been so supportive these past few weeks and probably are wondering how things are going.  I appreciate all the cards and emails you have sent.  The offers to call if I need someone to just listen meant a lot.  I thank you for the concern for me and my family.

I am NOT trying to do everything all at once.  Baby steps.    Rather I jot a couple things down that I would like to address and then try to take care of it.   Tuesday I went to Bama Belles but knew I had to empty out his chest of drawers and his desk as I offered them to one of my gals.  ( She has a daughter with another year of college to go, her mom living with her and the two of them are raising three young nieces. I thought of her first.)   They came to pick it up today.  A little minor cleaning this afternoon.  Skyler is going to be upset when he realizes that his morning napping spot is gone along with the chair he treated as a scratching pad.  I decided to move his perch from the sewing room into there but have to wait for the adhesive on the Velcro strip to set up completely first.

One day I spent my time calling the utilities to get service switched, another day, it was cancelling the credit cards.   I sold my Taurus to my neighbor as I didn't need two cars and twice the insurance.  Good thing too as her old vehicle is having a brake line trouble.  One day I baked a good portion of the day and didn't do a thing on my list.  My neighbors got some fresh baked muffin, there is a loaf of quick bread for the quilt show set up day and one loaf sliced up for coffee break time in my freezer and the Belles enjoyed a Red Velvet Poke Cake.  I wanted to try the recipe, not eat a whole cake.  Yesterday I took care of thank you notes, emails and notifications.  The next day I cooked some food ahead---no fun for just me.

I do admit to doing some "crazy lady" things late at night like moving all but the entertainment center in the living room all around.  It started with just swapping lamps and escalated. I had to put it back were it was, because that is the only way it will all fit unless his recliner finds a new home.  And it might or it might go to the bedroom or it might stay right where it is.  I slept well once I got done with all that mess though

Things are up and down emotionally.  I was touched at some of the things I found in his desk and chest of drawers.  It will help with some of the car and home maintenance jobs.  Finding the Valentine he had bought ahead for me really set me off.  My stomach is often in knots, my not sleeping is better some nights, worse others.  I know I am stressed but trying my best.  I miss him terribly especially a meal times.  We might have been doing our own thing throughout the day but we did have most of our meals together.  Those flowers block the empty chair.

I was so disgusted with my cheap tracfone while I was away that I got a new one late last week.  It has way more bells and whistles than I really need.  Android phone but still a tracfone service.   I took that picture of the gorgeous flowers my friend Bev gave me with it, above, for example but if this proves to be a reliable alternative I will consider dropping my land line.  There are also some quilt pictures of some of the turned in quilts on the phone too but I handed the phone to Janet and I was the quilt holder, LOL.  Not entirely sure how to get the pics off the phone other than emailing them back to myself.  Oh, I see there is a "from your phone" option for me to explore.   I'll figure it out.  Learning how to use my new toy has kept me occupied a bit too.

Tomorrow I will need to work on the guild newsletter.  Friendship Quilters is gearing up for the biannual quilt show on the 8th and the newsletter has that last minute information for the event.  I am not signed up to anything more than deliver my entries but I will go over with Jane and Aline on Saturday afternoon for a 3 to close shift.   Will have to stay for take down to get my quilts.  Beyond that I don't plan much and try to take each day, sometimes just the next hour as it comes.

But no real thoughts of sewing-----the closest I came was looking up the numbers my sister sent for her daughter's nursery colors.  Lunar Eclipse, Hidden Meadows, Galactica and Kiss Me Kate.  She said Olympic Paint from Lowe's and when I was out yesterday, I stopped for the paint strips so I can look for the fabrics for her wall hanging.  The baby's drag around quilt could be any fabrics I want to use.  They are doing with a nautical theme and so far it looks like sailboats for that one.  Nana and Mommy liked that idea the best.  Can do at some point though probably not the same pattern that they had looked at--stack and slash and that is just "not me".   Kristine's FIL painted one of the walls in a stripe like this.  Not sure what he used on the other 3, LOL but will find out.  I love the galactica shade--kinda aqua to teal in tones on the paint strip.

And so it goes-----

Feb 18, 2014

Final Day Hugs and Kisses Blog Hop

When I heard that the early February blog hop was slated to be something foundation piecing, I signed up.  I love foundation piecing though I know it is not everyone's cup of tea.  This time around Mdm Samm of sew we quilt and Soma of Whims and Fancies put their heads together and came up with three Valentine's themed blocks that participants could purchase for a 5 dollar donation, the proceeds going to two charities.  Details on pattern purchase can be found HERE.

I got a little bit of a late start due to a January donation quilting binge and then my sewing room floor and painting re-do.   I made my 4 blocks in short order and had big plans for them. I was going to replicate one of the Love Stamps and had purchased a 20 inch square wall decal from Stencils and Decals using the shapes for applique template/tracing, borrowing their image here.

Picture this if you will---the foundation pieced blocks would act as cornerstones and it would finish about 40 inches square, a nice table topper size.   I didn't have a whole of the red fabric I wanted to use so my X blocks were pieced a bit creatively and I was saving the longer pieces so I could recreate the stamp perforation.  It would have worked.

Then you know what they say about plans?  The bottom fell out of my world and I lost the love of my life unexpectedly in the early morning hours of February 1st, just days after our 15th anniversary.  His son and I had a funeral to plan and I needed to arrange to get me and DJ back to IL.  I revised my plans to include a tribute to our time together as a couple.  While I feel that one should show a completed project when participating in a hop, it was just not going to happen, in light of the circumstances.  I let Mdm. Samm know what had happened.  She assured me I was not going to land on the dreaded list, LOL.

 So I moved on to plan 2.  I found a lovely heart design in the Readers's Digest  1000 Great Quilting Designs by Luise Roberts.  The book tells you how much percentage to  increase the motif to fit a certain sized block.  I played around in my irfanview software till I arrived at a number that would fit on a 10 1/2 inch finished block.  Then I did it up in redwork even matching the thread to the coral undertones of the two prints I had chosen.

Here it is in the body of the top

I planned to hand quilt this and quilt in the same motif, minus the names adding some fill work around it.  BUT.............I think it looks schizophrenic.   The X's and O's are fun and free wheeling and the redwork just looks out of place.  I will be moving on to Plan 3.  The redwork will come out and find it's own place of honor in our home, I am thinking framed and matted, when completed.  Plain white will go in the center square or I may get some inspiration from what the others have done this round.  I dropped the ball this round for sure.

I was gone for 10 days and did not feel like sewing.  Internet access is limited  at my parents home so I am hopelessly behind in cheerleading my fellow hoppers on.  I'll get caught up over the weekend.  Promise. Meanwhile please stop by and see what today's participants have come up with.   I promise to be in a better frame of mind the next hop I participate in.  The sewing mojo will return.  It always does!  Good therapy too.

Feb 19th

 Lady Bente

Lady Kristen

Lady Linda

Lady Marcy

Lady Susie

Mdm Samm

Feb 16, 2014

moving on to the next chapter

I want to thank all of you who were so kind to leave condolence messages to me on the passing of my husband.  I am still revising that post I wrote in tribute in my head but I'll keep those additions to myself.  So far it has not been a easy month for me or my extended family, as you might imagine.

The funeral and private inurnment was held in Illinois (where we are both from) on the 8th.  What it took to get him home and me up there on the plane is a bit of an amusing story.  Well, all I kept thinking was DJ would have thought it was a good story.  I won't go into the details here but I did say he had an offbeat sense of humor.

All my siblings were home along with most of the nieces and nephews as well.  Tracy's family was there to support him.  DJ's golfing buddy and his wife came though Herb is recuperating from surgery, his first day out.  Co-workers from the cable TV concern where he retired from came too.  A few friends from my old quilt guild attended.  One of the Tri-Valley moms and her son, a friend of Tracy were there as well.  Jane and DJ have exchanged Christmas cards for years.  I thought it would just be family.  I didn't expect to see any floral arrangements either but there were some. One of the local churches allowed us to have the luncheon there as the town community center was unavailable due to a scouting event.  The kindnesses were appreciated.

A light hearted moment and some photo ops since so many of the family were together.  My sister, the one on the right said, "get down on the floor like a cheerleader" though I guess I didn't know what to do with my legs.

Of course we are having such a freakish winter so getting back to Alabama was also a bit of a challenge. It is winter so you expect some of that, right?   The weather in central Illinois and O'Hare straightened out but wouldn't you know it, here comes a snow/ice event for Alabama and Georgia.    What the heck???   Since I was traveling on a bereavement ticket, I was allowed to back things up a few days fairly easily.  They said as long as there was a seat on the plane, I could extend again if I had to.  But wouldn't you know?  Things clear up in the South due to rising temperatures and it starts snowing Friday at my parent's home.  4 more inches on top of what is already there.  So more worry and fretting ensued.  A week ago, when I first heard the forecast for Alabama my sister and two FAB pals had to talk me down from the ledge, so to speak--thx for that.  A seasoned traveler, I am not.   If I had not left yesterday, I would been possibly stuck in another snow/ice/sleet event today or Monday.

I love my parents dearly but I just wanted to get home---my own bed, to Skyler but DJ is not here.  Illinois is not my home anymore, Alabama is.   Even with family you are still a guest.  I think what has sustained me to this point is that I was still in vacation type mode---only I could not pick up the phone to call him to check in and see how his day went.  Even today, I had things to do like you always do after a trip, unpack, laundry and get some groceries laid in.  

Still, the time extension allowed me to go out to lunch with my friend Robin who I have not seen in person since we left Bloomington-Normal.  Facebook and occasionally cards and such yes, but not in person.  Tracy and LuAnn came up for dinner at a local restaurant too.  Had it not snowed again on Friday,  my sister and I would have gone out to one of my "must have when back in IL" meals at either Steak and Shake, Schooner's for their onion rings OR Avanti's for gondolas or Italian Beef sandwiches with meat sauce.  The plan was to go to our nephew's basketball game afterwards.  We agree that we'll make amends next time I am back to visit.

My friend Jane and her husband Hugh were so kind to carry me over to ATL and pick me up yesterday as well.  We stopped for a late lunch/early supper on the way home and I walked in the house about 6 pm on the nose.  Skyler was not waiting for me at the door, but came when I called, a little unsure at first.  Such purring and petting ensued, really earning him the title of Velcro Kitty.  My neighbor Glynda has taken very good care of him though and he has a new buddy.  I told her I may have to let her have visitation rights.

I did a good bit of embroidery while I was away, something that may show up in the Hugs and Kisses blog hop piece that is due by mid week.  I have not been able to cheer the others on like I normally would.   (The computer is in Dad's study and that is his private space I am invading.)  Mdm. Samm knows that my piece will not be completed as I would have liked.  I won't end up on "the list", she assures me.  Once I finished that bit I worked on a "Snow Happens" piece from Bird Brain Designs.  Snowballs for 5 cents---when all that snow is free and abundant.  I read several books. Other  than watching  "Downton Abbey" with my dad, I did not watch much TV.    I did try to help Dad out of a software snafu they were having but mostly offline.  Mostly I have struggled with tears.  Like a raw nerve, I am afraid if I really start, I won't stop.  I suppose that is only natural?

So the next chapter of my life has begun.  Not anything that I was ready for or wanted.  He tried to tell me. He left me notes in the box of papers I will need to go through.   I have friends and family that I can call on when I am having a blue day.  I am not alone with that support system in place.  Bear with me on those maudlin days.  Continue to hold me and my family up in prayer if you would please.

I hope you will understand if I am not able to answer your kind notes individually but I do appreciate you sharing that kindness and support.

Feb 4, 2014

heavy heart

 It is with a heavy heart that I am writing to say that my beloved DJ passed away in the early morning hours this past Saturday, just days after our 15th anniversary.   He had not gotten up at his usual time and after tending to that meowing cat, I went to check on him.  The EMS personnel and the coroner thought he had probably been gone about an hour at that point. A heart attack probably but he looked peacefully at rest.  He had not called out to me to let me know he was in in trouble.

He had not been ill, at least not from anything acute.  Heart troubles ran in the family but mostly they were being managed.   The fact that he was 16 years older than me, you know in the back of your mind that it may happen someday but are you really prepared when that day comes?  I was an "older man's darling" and one day I knew that it might be my turn to care for him and return the favor for the years he took care of ME.  We took care of each other.

He is probably about 21 one in the picture above.  I'm guessing about that but I see a wedding band.  He was married twice---once as that immature young man and his 2nd marriage brought him two young step-daughters and his son Tracy.  I think he is about 44 here.  I count 11 candles and think each one stood for 4 years.  Tracy's t-shirt says 1980 so that would be about right.  He loved his son and I believe a great dad to him as well as the girls. He and Tracy spoke 2 or 3 times a month on the phone as in recent years DJ did not feel up to that long drive up.  He was proud that Tracy and LuAnn have a good marriage.

 He loved his grandson Josh too and was proud of his endeavors.  We left Illinois and missed a lot in doing so.  The basketball games, the birthday parties and just watching him grow up.  He has grown into a fine young man, a sophomore in college now.

He proposed to me on the local walking trail with "how would like to take a chance on a two time loser?"  Well I had at that point for 21 years.  We married a week later.  Both of us knew what we were getting back in 99.  It was just the two of us in Alabama when we married in January but in the spring we went back to visit our family.  They surprised us with a  little reception  so we have the obligatory "cake in the face" picture taken right after this one.  They also sent us on a golf resort trip to St. Simon's Island near Brunswick, GA

This snap shot was in the early 2000's.  Really one of my favorite pictures of us since we were joking with each other.  I was off to my friend Joy's house for the rest of the sew-in and leaving him to fend for himself.  Only came up to the house so some of the girls could see my house and meet DJ.

I thought he was a little weird when I was a 26 yr. old brat really but you know somewhere along the line my opinion changed enough to give him a chance.  He had an different sense of humor.  He would tell a joke with such a dead pan delivery that I would rarely laugh.  Get him going with some story from growing up and then I would find those both entertaining and gave an insight into the person he was.  I loved it when he drew his own little stamps on the cards he picked out for me.  Or the "hey baby, I'm your Telecable man" cartoon---now THAT did crack me up.

Let me tell you more about my DJ as this is what I have been thinking since this happened.   I need to write and clarify my thoughts.

He was a loyal friend once he knew you but not always socially seeking others out.  My friends say the same thing about their husbands so that might be a guy thing.  He was always welcoming to anyone who came to visit our home.  Many of my friends have said how kind he was to them when visited. It was true.  Few would make the trip down here to see us but he kept in touch on the phone, always sent out cards at Christmas.

He loved playing golf and studied it, wanting to improve his game.  He was still putting in the living room last week.  He used to play 9 holes about every other day tapering off more in recent years.  He watched it on TV but preferred watching the women golfers.  Not excessively so as he was also Cardinals fan but switched cities for the Chicago Bulls and always called the Chicago Bears "my beloved Bears".  We moved way out of the market but he followed what games he could.

For college sports?  Illini Men's basketball but he cheered on both Alabama and Auburn.  We are from out of state so can get by with that until they had to play each other when it was Alabama.  How I wished I could have told him that Eddie Lacy of Green Bay was named the NFL Rookie Offensive Lineman of the year.  While we were not Packer fans, he was happy when former players did well when they moved up to the professional ranks.  He really loved March Madness though mainly watched SEC and Big 10 teams.

He loved old movies, westerns and musicals mostly but every once and while he would be watching Steven Seagal or an old Rambo movie too.  His mom used to take him to the movies when he was a kid as his dad wouldn't go with her.  It was nothing to hear Nelson Eddy and Jeannette MacDonald singing away in the living room.  He would take the TV guide out each night at supper and mark which programs sounded good to him and then channel flip.  I never understood his watching Lifetime movies and some of those awful holiday movies on Hallmark but whatever, LOL.

He loved music too but could not carry a tune or invented his own version of the song.  We often did our own version of  the Everly Brothers "Dream" or "I Know a Heartache when I see one"   but  when I tried the harmony part, he was always singing along with me instead.  He knew a lot of lyrics to the 40's-60's songs. Sometimes he would make up his own little ditties.  Corny maybe but cute.

He had one dance move but I can't dance either.  We probably looked a sight trying to fast dance.  Dance with me slow and just hold me, darling.

He made me laugh, he made me aggravated.  You can't live with someone without getting a little irritated with them or you aren't human.  In some ways he was a far more patient person that I am.  He rarely used curse words.  I think he only really yelled at me two or three times, once I really had coming too.   He was a gentleman and to me, gentle man.  In his teens, my parents probably would not have let me go out with him had we been contemporaries.  Riding a motorcycle and smoking! Oh no!   We often joked that he would have looked at me and said "hey look at that cute little red headed girl on her tricycle" while he rumbled by with that loud roar.  I always wondered what our kids might have looked like had we had them.  Alas, we married too late for that.

He was largely a self made man dropping out of high school but later getting his GED.  I admire that.  How I wish I had not felt the need to correct him with he mispronounced something or ignored the mis-spelled words.  Those things came easier for me and I thought I was helping?  He was always trying to learn and improve, reading the paper thoroughly and often his choice of reading material extended to biographies and other non-fiction.  He kept a dictionary to learn new words and improve his vocabulary.  I found a note on the kitchen the other day with the word "piquant" written out, its pronunciation and several meanings.  He did "the chief technician made hard" course work as he called it to better his job skills for work.   Once he made a decision for Christ and was baptized he read the entire Bible that I got him completely through and may have started on round two.  His book mark was on Psalms 17 while he had 4 pages to go in the library book he had checked out days before.  He would have helped me go to podiatry college if I had wanted to go---he offered but it was not my dream to do so.

He was careful with money but that is what allowed him to retire early.  It also allowed me  not to have to work once we moved to Alabama.  Really that was the greatest gift he COULD have given me---that time together.  I think that sometimes he denied himself something he wanted but chose to wait till he could cash in the change jar.  BUT he kept dreaming of big screen TVs anyway, not that he needed one, LOL.  He was however, very generous to me, Tracy, Luann and Josh for our birthdays and Christmas.  We live modestly but comfortably, well when he wasn't trying to bake me to death with the annual air conditioning operation debate.  I understood WHY he did it but still groused.

Like me his political leanings are Democratic and liberal.  It may have made things a little easier around the house to not disagree but at least we could gripe about the idiots who supposedly serve us on the state and federal level to each other.  We were not on the same page in all issues but we never argued about it.

I don't suffer fools gladly but he was more amused by them.  More patient, definitely more relaxed.  I can't stay still long and he once told me that I flunked hand holding.   Because he had held my hand a bit longer than usual when I kissed him good night Friday night and was trying to pull me back, I think I probably DID flunk.  What was so important that I was in a rush to  be on my way anyway?

He also used to say that when I go they are going to have to beat my hands to death with a stick as I would still be quilting, knitting or stitching till they did.  I think he was proud of my quilting endeavors though he didn't often say so.  One area where I longed for more support, I guess.

He loved me and he loved my cat(s).  He cried when Pippi died and then buried her back behind the shed for me.  He and Skyler were big time chair buddies but I think deep down he might have preferred having a dog like his beloved Misty.  I could have a cat but one was enough.  I didn't push it.  Now I don't think a 2nd one would be fair to Skyler.

He would rather eat at home than out . Since I loved to cook and bake, that worked out well.  He was far more diligent about exercising, and trying to eat in a healthy manner than me but he would never turn down homemade cookies, cake or pie when I made them.  He had the sense not to ask "what is this?" too often and trust me, he never know what sort of cuisine he might be getting.  He did not complain too much and just asked that I didn't ever fix breaded tomatoes, like I would!  Thursday night he asked me to get some stuff to make a homemade pizza on my next shopping day.  I had already planned it and rearranged the menu plan.  He didn't really cook or put together such odd combinations of food when he did but had once worked a part time job in a pizza parlor.  I will never forget when he was telling me this story for the first time and then proceeded to burn the heck out of the frozen one in the oven.

He hated to dust and I hate to vacuum.  He was the outside guy and I was the inside girl as far as household chores went.  He could fix about anything and just had the knack of doing so.  Some guys just pay somebody to do something but he would at least try.  I suspect that sometimes there were parts left over but it didn't keep  him from trying to tacklie the job anyway.  He was not lazy and expecting to be waited on. Some of my friends think I spoiled him but he did the same for me.   He helped indoors too but sometimes I would gripe about HOW he did it but not to him.  My way or done, was a question I had to ask myself.

He loved me through all different sizes and shapes, slim and heavy and in between but never nagged about it.  He never told me what do to with my hair, long, short or in between.  He did hate one coat I used to wear and got me a new one just to keep me from wearing it and insisted I toss it in the dumpster so he would see it gone.  He could sugest something but it was always my choice in the end.

 I loved him and he loved me and mostly we just had each other after our move here with our family so far away.  I hope I showed him just how much I valued him every day though we can never say those words often enough.

Soon we will have the funeral and I will really have to tell him goodbye.  To this point I have kept busy with the arrangements and the things that you need to do before taking any trip.  I could pretend that the empty chair and bed were like the two nights he was in the hospital in December.  It will sink in soon enough. .  My life is forever changed with the loss of the one who has been the love of my life.    I will ask any of you reading this to hold my family and myself up in prayer.   I am so grateful for the support of my local and online friends who have already heard the news.  Soon our family will do the same in person.