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Archive for February, 2011

It’s time for some thoughtful writing that tells a little more about myself. Here goes… To begin with, this blog was meant to be writings and musings of my world and how I trudge through the garden of life hoping to share something of myself with others. I didn’t expect it to turn into such a sewing and quilting theme, but sewing gives me such satisfaction in my life right now. So, just who is the woman in the mirror

Growing up, I had some difficulty coping with life especially in my teens. On the outside, I looked normal; on the inside-it was much different. Most people never knew there was anything wrong, and there wasn’t until I was diagnosed (sounds so awful, doesn’t it). I prided myself on being able to care for myself and was able to do almost anything I set my mind to-with restrictions and limitations. I even helped to re-shingle a house and do other not-so-feminine activities like splitting wood, carpentry, and such. I was able to go to college and graduate with double degrees almost like checks on a bucket list, but these were things many never imagined I would do or even excel at. I didn’t talk about my health issues and hid my seizures for fear of being rejected – a seizure would consist of numbing sensation on one side of my body. As time passed, the seizures were controlled so no one really knew there was anything different from my inside world.

It has not been all easy and carefree-there is much missing in this story. In the past 10 years or so, as I began to have real problems-awful headaches, lack of short term memory, falling due to dizziness and permanent loss of feeling and some paralysis, I lost friends and family relationships were tested. A lady who I considered to be my best friend believed I was inventing symptoms believing that there was nothing wrong with me because these changes came suddenly-I was able to do about anything (with some limitations) before. She cut off all ties and said some nasty things-that hurt. Another lady told me that I did not have enough faith because surely God would heal me if I just had more faith (that’s what she said)-that really hurt. Then there was the family member who said I did not need to see doctors because there was nothing wrong with me. That was hard because she was my grandmother. Others believed I would ‘get well soon’ as if I was recovering from a cold. All of these things have happened in the last 10 years, and each has left its mark, so I guard my feelings and don’t speak much about issues I face. I don’t want to be hurt any more. I know others who have more problems than me so I cannot complain because it could have been and can be so much worse.

So what seems to be my problem? Well, I was born with an arteriovenous malformation or AVM for short in the cerebral part of my brain. Yeah, not a lot of people have one. Mine is rather large and deeply embedded. It is definitely not the largest AVM but it’s sure not the smallest. It mainly affects one side of my body, but it also affects mobility, speech, and cognitive applications just to name a few. Most people do not even know they have one of these things until it starts to give them problems or worse – when it bleeds. I was diagnosed with this thing before our modern technology of today (sounds prehistoric). Its location and size are why I still live with it. I was diagnosed the old fashioned way-before CT scanners and MRI machines. Yes, people held me down so they could insert that nasty needle into my neck artery in order to pump ‘dye’ into my brain (cerebral angiography). I remember it like it was yesterday but in fact it was 40 years ago this year. It was very traumatic for someone who did not know what was going on because I was not told what to expect. Back then, patients were not told very much but as a child-a preteen-I was told even less (nothing).

As I have aged, I have explored treatment and surgery options. For me, there is little hope for quality of life after “treatment.” I have known very few people with brain AVMs, fewer have one located in the same area and relatively same size, and I have never physically met someone who has one. There is no cookie cutter method of how to deal with these things. Many times doctors tell patients that they must have surgery only for the patient to discover they will never see any type of normalcy again. Many of the AVMs are aggressively treated and then patients wait for about 1-2 years only to have more surgery because other problems develop in the brain. Some do fine with treatment depending on the case, but I had a lady tell me that she wished so much that her husband had opted not to have surgery because he died the second time around. Others continue through years of treatment hoping to one day gain something normal in their lives again. I could write a book on my experiences and stories from others, but I know I am lucky to be alive – it is actually more than luck.

So, who is the woman in the mirror? Is she who she aspired to be so many years ago, or does she only see a shell of what is left? Each day I live, I struggle to fill that void-that shell, and as Paul Harvey used to say, “Now you know the rest of the story” though this is only a partial glimpse into my life, a part that I do not easily share.

Happy Gardening to all and may the person you see in the mirror be the person you have aspired to become and if not, may you continue to fill in the gaps until you are.

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Ready to say goodbye

Yesterday was the first Saturday in a while that was even close to event-less, well sort of. Nothing major happened-no kitty business; no one close passed away; it was rather nice. Hubby cooked our lunch on the grill-yum, and I picked up my new vacuum. The last vacuum I bought was a big Shop-vac some years ago. This one cost less than any of the last 3 hand-held vacs-swore I wouldn’t buy another cordless one. I am surprising pleased with it and got it especially because of kitty. More about it later after I use it again.

Sewing and quiltingWhen I went back to get more of the white fabric I used to make the fan block, there was only a yard left, so I ordered more-wish I could have gotten a bolt but I blew the budget halfway through the month. I’ll pick it up this week-couldn’t bring myself to drive that far with the gas prices up so high when I pass by the store during the week.

I promise next month will not be as solemn as this month (FEBs are a bit emotional around here), but tomorrow I plan to post the biggy one that I’ve been holding on to. I am skeptical, but I want to start March with a clean slate. This somber note is fitting for the last 2 days of FEB. My mom died on this day years ago. It was hard to say goodbye but she suffered so long with so many problems. She never complained through it all-never! I am not that strong, but she served as model for so many who knew her. Though we did not always see eye to eye, I miss her so much. There was so much we never got to do together. I loved her greatly but am not sure she knew just how much.

Happy Gardening in your walk of life. May you know just how much you are loved.

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Anticipation

By photoop23 @ webshots

A Forsythia bush located in a neighbor’s yard was in full bloom the first week of FEB. It gets full sun most of the day. This is a sure sign of spring. Forget the groundhog; he only re-acts according to his shadow. Plants are a whole different story. The Jonquils and Daffodils have been waking up the past 2 weeks and the pollen from some of the trees is really in overdrive this week (sniff, sniff).  We could not buy 2 warm days together until April of last year. I liked it because I love cool (even cold) weather! We have a few visitors (1000s) in the big city in April and the plants were not in full bloom-the first time I can remember in over 20 years. In fact, when it gets too hot before the visitors arrive, some of the plants are iced down to keep the blooms from popping open-yeah, that’s a lot of ice. It’s a very big thing for everyone around.

So, spring is almost here-more anticipation for this month. It can still get cold (even snow-rare occurrence in March), but once the Pecan trees start to green up there is little likelihood of freezing temps. When I was young, I was told not to go barefoot before then. We are not there yet, but we have had so much warmth this month that the fruit trees’ buds are getting close to opening-not good if we have freezing temps. There is still quite a bit of agriculture around.

It’s been a bad winter for most of the country-I loved it here though we could have gotten more snow in my opinion. I hope that everyone has a great spring and is ready to get out and tend to those gardens even if it is a one-pot garden. Isn’t it exciting? I hate to say goodbye to the cold temperatures (I hate heat!) but I love to see the bounty that awaits from blooms to fruits. Happy Gardening in all that you do!

BTW, I think the ice people will be in full mode next month, so don’t be surprised if it the city is not as beautiful as usual again this year-this time because the plants are beyond their peak. That’s ok because nature sets its own timetable.

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On the way home from the funeral I noticed a younger man opening the car door for what looked to be his date or girlfriend. What we do as people for other people resonates in my upbringing.

Rulers by Rosebudinnh @ webshots

I’m not sure it is this way much anymore-teaching morals, values, and how to treat others with respect. We had just said goodbye to a man who treated everyone with respect even though some who came before him were accused of doing terrible things (most actually had done so). We never heard a bad thing come out of his mouth about others. He was a great teacher through example of his life in and out of the judicial system. He saw the good in people and did not want to see the bad. People honored and respected him just like children were required to do not so long ago.

My husband treated this man with the utmost respect, caring for his needs in hearings and such. That was his job, but there was a bond made that will never be severed-even in death. Many at the agency for which my husband works do not treat others with respect. They don’t treat my hubby with the same respect as he treats others. It was evident at the funeral. First, my husband had to jump through hoops to get the day off-he was called on to be a pallbearer, and then they were not happy that he did not wear his uniform. All of the pallbearers were family-related by blood or marriage except for my husband. To the family, he is family. He did not go in an official capacity; he was there as a friend. There is a long story here, but painful memories surfaced as I watched his agency have a poor showing. They were called to be part of the honorary pallbearers. This agency works closely with the judges-in fact, this agency exists because of judges. As far as the top brass coming, only the one in command came-the big boss was out of town. I’m sure she wouldn’t let the other desk jockeys go in case something MAJOR happened (are you kidding?). I was embarrassed, but there are people who only do things for others so they can get ahead in their position. Let me just say that my husband is not one of these people. He does things because he cares. He doesn’t do politics.

The judge who gave part of the eulogy had known the deceased for many years. This judge’s mother died not long before Christmas, and we-my hubby and I-went to her visitation to relay our sympathies for his loss-not to get brownie points or anything. It was the right thing to do because we cared. My hubby was the only one to go from his agency though we went as a couple-he was not an agency representative. The next day, his bosses refused to allow my husband to go to the funeral even in an official capacity. Later, we got a long note thanking us for our visit and how much it meant to this judge that we stopped by. I thought it was very nice of him to thank us but we didn’t really do anything. At the visitation the other night, this was the first thing that the judge giving the eulogy said to us-about how much he appreciated what we did for him. It was only a quick stop, but he will remember that for the rest of his life.

In a time where things are taken for granted by so many, some people notice; I just wish more people cared. The little things mean so much; maybe not to everyone, but to someone. I don’t do things to get acknowledged by others. I do things because it is the right thing to do-to show that I care because I genuinely do.

Happy Gardening in all of life! May the fruit you sow always be good!

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Meet the newest member

Meet our newest member of the family. Isn’t he cute? He has a date with the vet this week, so it’ll be his first trip away from his new home. I think he is adjusting nicely. He is still young and playful and likes to get into things like all young ones (including children) do. Our biggest problem is cords and cables. We moved them out of range before we got him, but he is still fascinated with anything that hangs including ironing cords and computer cords. We are still having a water issue since he is not used to drinking from bowl-one that is not located in the bathroom 😉 but he is slowly getting used to his new one.

We left him home alone for the first time yesterday in order to go to the funeral. I have a posting to make about that-but this is Simon’s time. He did very well while we were gone. I was so relieved. He sleeps with my daughter at night. During the day, he spends most of his time with someone either playing or being petted or such but curls up in one of chairs at the table for his time away-on a cushion. We haven’t gotten him a bed (or made him a real one). We will take care of that this week. Cats get so spoiled these days-beds, toys, water fountains, and what in the world is with those nails? I about freaked out when I saw the nail covers in various colors-even for Christmas. I don’t think so. I’ll write more about him as time goes along. He is a very good-natured cat and has a lot of personality. Too bad the photo doesn’t show that, but I took it this morning while he was eating.

Happy Gardening and may your pets know how much you love them.

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Sad news came again today. My husband’s friend who has been in the nursing home just recently because of his advanced stages of Alzheimer’s died this morning. It’s been another wild week-things don’t happen that you expect and things happen that you don’t expect. Part of the memory quilt postings (some that I have yet to post) have to do with this friend. Death is never easy to ‘digest’ even when we know it is coming, but we must celebrate the memories of the past, his life, and realize that he is not in pain anymore.

This friend was a judge. He was still active at over 80 years of age, and his wife was at his side until the very last. My husband would pick him up and take him to the jail to do hearings and then take him back home—that was before the judge retired not long ago. Other judges made the city transport the inmates to the courthouse and back rather than they visit the jail, but that’s another story. The two grew close – almost a dad and son relationship, so this is difficult. If you are a spiritual person, I ask for a prayer for the judge’s family. Even to the last, this friend recognized my husband when he didn’t recognize his family. We knew this was coming, but it hurts just the same.

On a happier note, we are the proud owners of a kitty. We didn’t get him until this morning, but he is adjusting nicely. Everyone liked this one the best, so he is our newest member of our family. Photos will be posted at a later date.

Happy Gardening and please tell your friends and family how much they mean to you. Thank you!

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T-shirts have become such a medium of advertisement, even a part of our identity. So, what can you do with a t-shirt besides holding on to it forever or getting rid of it? What about a quilt? T-shirt quilts are very popular today. It is a way to combine physical memories of significant times and events such as concerts, sports and organizational activities, along with a multitude of other types of t-shirts. One can display sentimental memories in one place making room in drawers and storage boxes 🙂 – I could use the extra room. The truth – I made the mistake of putting one of my hubby’s worn out high school t-shirts (it had holes in it) in the “rag” pile years ago. Ok, I didn’t do it twice. A t-shirt quilt may not be traditional, but that’s ok because it may spark the younger generation to take an interest in quilting. You can find helpful info in books and on the web (including wordpress blogs), but here are a few things you may want to consider…

If you want the quilt to last, think about how fragile the t-shirts are. If it is a quilt that will be washed and used a good bit, you may want to refrain from using older t-shirts that may wear quickly or ones that have become thin. The same goes for the printing. However, if the shirts are pretty tough, then by all means use them in a quilt that will be used regularly, but sometimes people would rather save the memories in the shirts and not really use it as a quilt. That’s fine, too. You can always display the quilt on a wall. Did you know that hung quilts can help absorb sound vibrations?

Just like other types of quilting, you do not have to follow any set pattern-it’s your design, but you need to have a clear idea before you begin cutting. Draw out a design first, and don’t forget seam allowances. Many people add sashing (borders) between blocks. This frames each t-shirt helping it to stand out. The sashing can be complementary material or a themed print or something different. Some use UP-cycled jeans or denim giving the quilt that special look. Most t-shirt quilts use only part of the shirt front where the printing is, but some t-shirts have printing on the back. You’ll want to use this side, too, but you have to decide how much or how little to use of each shirt. Perhaps you have an abundance of shirts and may only want to use insignias or logos or such. You can combine a few of these to make a block. The remaining part of the shirts can be used to add borders or may be added to the back of the quilt-you decide.

Be sure to wash the shirts first-I know common sense, right? And, if using cotton material for any other part of the quilt-including denim, be sure to launder first. You do not want the quilt to shrink or bleed after assembly. It may be a good idea to back each shirt with a lightweight fusible interfacing (some are made for knits), but be CAREFUL! Many t-shirts cannot be ironed over the printing. Check to be sure by testing a very small place and follow instructions closely. Interfacing adds stability and helps with seam curling. Machine piecing rather than hand piecing the shirts is a good idea, too. And, if you do not interface the shirts, make sure NOT to pull the shirts through the machine when piecing (stretchy fabric). Oh, and if you use jeans/denim, be sure to have the right size needle and proper thread. Here is an example of a lovely t-shirt quilt: http://treacleandinketsy.wordpress.com/2010/07/20/keeping-the-memories/

The backing can coordinate with the front sashing or something else. Consider how heavy the backing material is and how much it will add to the quilt. A thick all-denim back may make the quilt too heavy, and consider the finished size of the quilt. Also, consider the washing machine of the receiver of the quilt. You don’t want to make something and then find out it cannot be easily washed. As far as batting goes, use something that will not shrink-a poly batting is good. Many t-shirt quilts are quilted “in the ditch” – along the seams. Just make sure that the seams are NOT pressed open-press seam to one side-and this will help to secure the shirts to the backing adding life to the quilt. Binding-I tend not to bind this type of quilt (oh, horrors, right). You can bind traditionally, or you can sew the backing to the front (right sides together plus batting) leaving a hole large enough to pull it through (before quilting) then stitch the hole closed. Just be sure to trim the excess batting first. It is all up to what one wants.

These are just a few things to think about when starting out. No matter what t-shirts you use, this is a good way to save those memories without throwing them away. We need to try different things once in a while. Maybe we all need our own t-shirt quilt.

Note:  Part 2 of “Helping to Remember” will be posted at a later date.

Happy Gardening and happy memories!

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Changes

I change with the seasons though I may not always be in sync to the one I am in. Sometimes I like change-sometimes I don’t. As I age, my tastes change-not taste buds though. I changed my little avatar because I love these colors on this quilt top (that is still unfinished). These colors define me…for the moment. In a few days, if you follow my blog regularly, you will have the chance to read more about me-something I don’t publically share with others, but I feel compelled to do so.

Today is house cleaning day. With any luck, our household will become just a wee bit bigger tonight. I say this with a little apprehension. We are planning to adopt a kitty today. We haven’t had any cats in so long. Growing up, I had lots of cats. Everyone in the area thought my family were the caregivers of the world, I guess, and dumped their animals at our door. My mom named one Sweet Violet-he was a smoke and white colored cat. Little did we know she was really a he. He and another kitty were the our indoor cats. The other cat gave birth to 3 kittens at a time in my life when my parents were given the “bad” new about me (the upcoming story). One was a very special kitty named Charlie Brown. He became like a brother to me. Yes, I knew he was a cat, but I don’t think he knew. One of the cutest things he would do while I was at school during the day would be to take my smaller perfume bottles and lay them in the middle of my bed and then curl up with them. Can you believe it? This was not an easy feat as it took some time. There was so much he did that would make you question if he was really a cat, but he was so loving. I hope the kitty that comes home with us, if she comes today, will be just as sweet and adorable as Charlie Brown. Well, I must get to it.

Happy Gardening and may your pets love you as much as you love them!

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Happy Valentine’s Day!

“It’s Valentine’s Day, and you know what that means…chocolates for breakfast all week!”

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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Yes, Valentine’s Day is almost here – Monday to be exact! I love the month of February, so many occasions to celebrate-birthdays (including mine 🙂 ), so much anticipation on many fronts. Valentine’s Day, probably the most popular occasion of this short month, is by many accounts a little overrated. I agree. There are advertisements everywhere for flowers, greeting cards, chocolates, restaurants, dating websites – that’s just to name a few. Oh, let’s not forget the “K-Y” ads everywhere. This is the commercial side of holidays. Companies want to appeal to your heartstrings (and libido) so you will share your money with them.

The real idea of Valentine’s Day is not to see how much you can spend but how special you can make someone feel. We all want to be remembered, loved, and thought of, so…      I challenge everyone (all that read this) to tell as many people how much they mean to you; how much you love or like them; how big of an impact they have on your life. Make as many people you know feel special-not cheesy like tagging 300 people-but sharing some real heartfelt thoughts. And, please remember those who have lost loved ones, significant others, and such. This is a very difficult time for them and even those who do not have a love interest in their life right now. Celebrate the love with as many people as you can. Let them know you care. I am doing that right now! Everyone who reads this blog is very special to me. Some I know, some I have met online and am in contact with, some I have not one clue, but I love each one of you because that’s the kind of person I am. 

So, to all of you, Happy Valentine’s Day! (just  a few days early) May your garden always be filled with loving hearts.

Note:  Sorry that I don’t have a quilted heart to show but the basket of Valentines is a cross-stitch project I made for my hubby many years ago.

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