Never a wasted moment

This weekend was chores.  Chores all the time, it seemed.  We trimmed the trees off the roof and cleaned some more in the garage, and Rob and I went through more of our clothes and packed several boxes for goodwill.  And, that was in addition to the usual watering and cooking and tidying up around the place.

I hardly got any quilting done.  But, the dining table got completely uncovered for the first time since we brought things home from Linda's and we changed the table cloth.  It might sound like we are really boring people.  But, in reality, we have 8 weeks of special projects that aren't really chores because they don't have to be done at a certain time, but they still have to be done sometime.  And, we were too busy to get to them, and now, I guess we're knocking them out as part of our grieving process. 

That leaves me with garden pictures.  Unfortunately, it's August, so there's not much happening in the garden.  I can't remember what that orange flower is (but it's on the tip of my tongue).  It's among some pink Mexican petunias and some fading garden phlox and really shines out there.  I can see it peeking through from the kitchen window when I do the dishes. 

The Cinco de Mayo rose.  This is a knockout and blooms almost continuously, but this time of year, it only gives a few petals in each flower.  Earlier this year, it was a much fuller bloom. 
Esperanza loves the heat.  I picked a seed pod off someone's plant a few years ago, and now I have my own.  It's not very significant in the garden, until this time of year, when it shines.  Dies back to the ground in winter so it is growing while spring flowers are blooming.  And, now it's providing much needed shade to some of those spring bloomers while they rest from their bloom work.
Bougainvilla.  This didn't flower for a really, really long time, but it's finally started to put out some color at the ends of the branches.  This is another larger plant that is giving some shade to the recovering daylilies and iris, both of which are putting out next year's growth now. 
More phlox.  These like it here, so I grow them all over the place.  These get more sun and they are much more purple than the ones in the shade.  But, they all came from the same starter that my Mom brought me from a friend's yard, in the 90's.  These are laying down because it was watering day.  the flower heads are so heavy that the plants can't hold them up. 
And, all of that takes water.  And, mother nature isn't really cooperating in that area, so most of it comes from a hose.  My watering schedule only gives me Mondays off.  The other days, I'm either dragging a sprinkler through it or watering pots with a hand held.  But, even in August, it's beautiful and in September it will recover and in October, it will be back to itself and in November, the reds will bloom and in December, there will be citrus and camellias.  Another complete cycle. 
Okay, so that's it for me today.  Enough about water.  It's time for a shower and to get ready to start this wonderful day and this wonderful week, and all this wonderful is about to make me sick.  So, before I make myself ill, I'm going to head out into the day.  And, who knows.  It might be wonderful.
Yours too!



Keeping busy

I've been keeping busy with some early morning quilting.  I haven't been able to spend a whole day at my machine yet...too much to do.  But, I'm looking forward to being able to do that again, soon.  This is usually the time of year that I spend lots of time at the machine because it's so hot out and quilting is (usually) an inside activity.  I'm knocking this quilt out in little short bursts before work. 

I took a picture with less direct lighting to show off the quilting.  When I quilt, I usually see something in my mind, let's call it my "vision" for the project.  This one is impatiens in a fern bed.  I quilted the flower and impatiens leaves in the floral center, and am outlining fern fronds in the background.  I've got most of it in and am filling in small spaces now.  With a pattern like this, that's loose and natural, I always leave empty places.  Then, when I'm done, I can figure out how densely I want the piece quilted, and how many of those spaces I want to fill.  While I'll be filling the larger spaces in this one, I'm planning to leave small spaces open to accentuate the fern fronds. 

The drawback of that is the quilt is not evenly quilted across the entire surface.  And, judges frown on that.  But, they usually cut me some slack because the unevenness is part of the overall design.  The reason I think they judge it so closely is that an unevenly quilted quilt is very hard to square.  I don't know if you can see it in the top photo, but the quilting in the center has drawn that space in because of the tension in the thread, and made it smaller and the border has a ripple.  The only way that ripple will go away is to quilt that space as densely as the center is quilted.  (With ferns, of course.)

Everybody have a great weekend!  It's hot as the devil's...toenails here.  Record breaking heat.  And, if you do venture outside, you're swarmed with mosquitoes.  This is the inside season in Texas.  Think of it as January in Michigan.  Same principle, just the opposite reason. 

So, I'm off for my mile walk.  It's the only time of day that I can get in a good cardio walk.  No more quilting today.  But, tomorrow is another day...and I don't have to go to the office.



The end...and the beginning

We got the sad news that our dear friend Linda passed away peacefully, early yesterday morning.  We will truly miss her.  I'm not sure I knew how special she was until I saw strangers interact with her at the nursing home.  Everyone who met her was endeared to her and the staff at the home was hit hard by her passing, as are all her friends and family. 

In addition to being our dear friend, she was my quilt show cheering team, there for every ribbon I've won.  And, it is hard to think of going to this year's show without her. 

I'm sorry I was silent last week.  I know many of you were following our story closely.  But, last week was hard.  For us, it felt like the week between a death and the funeral.  Linda passed for us over a week ago, when we realized she would not wake again.  But, her body continued for another 9 days.  We felt like part of a very small group of people sharing the same experience who could not fully rejoin reality.  We couldn't move forward.  We couldn't move back. 

Today, we can move forward and rejoin the greater community around us (but a review of the news this morning makes me want to crawl back into a hole, to tell the truth.)

Coincidentally, I finished a project yesterday.  Linda gave me many unfinished projects.  Many. 

No.  Really.  Many.

But, she only asked me to finish one.  And, that was this one.  It's an afghan she started in 2003.  She had a third of the granny squares made.  And, the rest of the yarn and the pattern got left at her apartment and donated. The blocks had an unusual outer edge that I couldn't reproduce without the pattern and she couldn't remember, so I had to take that off the squares she had made and add something different. 

The border was my idea.  The focus yarn is a multi color called Aspen by Red Heart.  I found it during a lunch search one day.  And, I added a blue and green pulled from that and an off white.  Linda made the centers of the brown squares.

I finished it the day she passed away.  Rob made the point that she couldn't leave until I had finished that afghan. 

But, that's not true.  All it really means is I'll never be able to get rid of it.  Ever. 


Stuck with it forever.

Kidding.  Sort of.

Sydney has done well with all that has happened.  She has followed our lead.  And, when we told funny stories at the dinner table, she laughed with us.  And, when we were sad, she was sad.  And, when it was time to grieve, she grieved.  And, when it was over, like us, she was relieved.  I'm reminded of something I read or that someone said when she came to live here.  Your children are learning from you, even when you don't mean to be teaching.  Make sure the lessons they learn are all lessons you'd want to teach. 

I wanted to say thank you from me and my family.  You have all been a great source of encouragement for us all.    You've supported me and encouraged me through a very difficult time.  And, now, life begins again and I'm anxious to see what comes next and to continue to share my personal experiences here, on the blog. 

Be well and have a great Monday!!  Lane


Nursing wisdom

The nurses reminded us of some things today.

First, Linda does not know if we are there.

And Linda was a very proud lady who would not want to be seen in her present condition.

And we said that when we got to this point, it would be time to stop visiting.

And when we visit, we wake her and there is pain.

And that Linda gained 13 pounds in hospice care. That must be unheard of and when hospice asked how, they were told that anything she mentioned eating showed up within 24 hours, no matter how hard to find.

And when the weekend staff asked why it sounded like there was a party going on in room 307, the weekday staff said ‘because there’s been a grand going away party happening in room 307 for the last 7 weeks.”

And that we did a good job.

We were there when we could make a difference. And now that we can’t, it’s time to leave the work to the professionals.

We’ve done the party. Now we’re standing on the dock, waiting for the ship to sail.

Bon voyage my dear friend.  May angels bless and keep you til your next mornings light.

And when you get to the other side, get a big place because we’re coming to stay with you. And we’re bringing all your stuff back to you.

We’re out of space.


That man is quilting again...

Wow, that was a long dry spell.  It took a change of project to get me "kickstarted".  The project I was working on was all precision and straight lines and it wasn't working for me.  So, I put that project away and pulled out something looser and more free flowing.  As I said to Rob, something I can really pour some emotion into.  I'm not getting good pictures, but I've stitched around the arrangement and started to fill in the hexagons.  The green hexies are leaves, and the colored are flowers, so I added the concept of leaves and flowers to them, just in case anybody was missing the general idea.  The background will be filled with ferns that I started practicing on Saturday.

I learned recently that one way to reduce puckers in the back is more pins.  So, I'm pinning more densely now.  And, it was true.  I have not had a pucker since I started.  But, I might need more pins to do a large quilt. 

I think Rob was ready for me to start quilting.  He'd mentioned it a couple times and the other day, he watched me for a bit, I think.  He said he could tell I was enjoying myself. 
I did get my yard work done on Saturday morning, a lot of it anyway, but it's never all done, right?  I cut off dead flower heads that hadn't dropped and pulled dead leaves and watered and watered and watered and planted some things that had found their forever homes.  I generally will put pots in the garden to make sure the plant is going to like the spot, and if it thrives, then I can put it in the ground with some confidence.  I repotted a large oakleaf hydrangea that's found a spot it likes, but where there isn't space yet, so it has to stay in its pot for a while longer.  Maybe a similar space will open up, or maybe something will die off and make a space where it is.   
After working in the yard, we went to the nursing home on Saturday.  She was in good spirits and happy.  Then, they changed her and it all went downhill after that.  She was in terrible pain and they were treating it as fast as they could.  But, it took time and while she doesn't remember it, sitting there and holding her hand and stroking her hair and crying with her while we waited are things Rob and I will not be able to forget, no matter how hard we try.  Yesterday was better, but her medication is still lagging slightly behind the pain level.  By now, the weekday staff that really knows Linda is getting to work, and they'll get her taken care of quickly.  Quality of life is truly about pain management. 
I wish I had taken pictures of my garden this weekend to post here.  The heat has really taken a toll, but even in the hardest part of year to garden, there is still bloom.  There are still flowers and butterflies and birds.  And, life continues, season to season.
Have a great week!  Hug a loved one.  Work on something you're passionate about. 


Pain management is a wonnerful thing

The beauty of pain management is that it frees time up for other things.  Linda is back to being happy.  Rob keeps bringing in pieces of her needlepoint and pinning them up in the room so she can enjoy them.  She's sleeping more.  More insistent that what she remembers is true.  I pick my way from word to word, dancing around some, dancing with others.  "How did you enjoy my funeral?  You, me and my best friend went to my funeral last week in Port Aransas."  gets a reply like "Sydney loves the beach at Port A."  And, we spend a bit of time talking about a friend's Army jeep that her dad bought her in the 50's that they used to take to the beech every weekend, when she was a young girl.  Choosing which words to respond to because I wasn't really at the funeral and can't say much about that.  Awkwaaaarrrd!

But,. hey, my sewing machine got turned on this morning!  I even quilted a few stitches before I remembered that I like to blog on Friday.

I've talked about making acquaintances at the nursing home.  One of them is a lady that does puzzles.  She's younger than the others.  Closer to my age than Linda's.  I believe she may have had a stroke and is paralyzed on one side.  I run into her frequently as she is more mobile and spends a lot of time exercising in the halls with her walker and sitting outside in a nice quiet shady spot she's found. where nobody else goes, just to get away for a few minutes. 

She spends a lot of time in the day room on her puzzles.  She was working on a particularly difficult one and on Tuesday, I asked her how it was going and she said it all got taken apart when they needed space in the dayroom. 

So, I looked on the internet and figured out how to make her a puzzle roll so she can roll her puzzle the next time they need to do that. 

Sorry about the picture in the back end of the dirty car.  I forgot to take a picture before the nursing home and, well...needs,must right?  It's a 26x48" piece of felt.  I folded over 6" on one short side and stitched it down, which made a 12" sleeve that I slipped a piece of a pool noodle into.  I put a binding on the other short side to keep the felt from stretching and added the too elastic loops.  I was worried she couldn't tie the ends, so elastic seemed to take care of that.  No loose pieces to get away from her, everything is sewn to the felt. 

As I was leaving, I found her in the day room, already working on another puzzle.  I laid it down on the table and asked her if she knew what it was and she did.  And, I showed her how to use the elastic one handed, using her "bad" arm to hold the tube steady.  And, I stuck my hand out and introduced myself to her and she cried a little and asked me for a hug and I went back to work, walking about 2 feet off the floor. 

It's easier for me to take this journey with Linda if I make a few new friends along the way. 

Everybody have a great weekend.  I am planning to work in my garden tomorrow morning.  I've done my best to make sure I don't have anything else, more pressing to do.  Wish me luck! 

Now, I'm going to sneak back to my sewing machine for 19 minutes of bliss....ahhhhhhh.



A little prayer

Now I lay me down to sleep.

I pray the Lord, my soul to keep.

If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord, My soul to take.

God bless Mother and Daddy. And Big Mama and Poppy. And my son and his children (and even his wife). Urchin, my cat, and all my family. And all my many, many, many friends.



I can’t think of more appropriate words at this time. Linda has been complaining of pain. So they are going to increase her pain meds and hopefully she will slip quietly and peacefully from this life in her sleep.

We knew it was only a matter of time and that the time we were enjoying was borrowed from her eternity. But that does not make it easier.

Please think of Linda and of us over the next few days that it should take for this to wind down. Because I’m not sure I can stand it.

And yet we both know I will.

Because that’s what we do, those of us left behind to wait our time.