Sunday, February 21, 2016

An Afternoon With Mom

My mom passed away in 2004. When we cleaned out her house after she passed away, I got the contents of her sewing room. She sewed her whole adult life, and taught me to sew when I was about 12. I remember the first thing I made was a pair of shorts and a vest from some fabric she had on hand, an ugly green striped material, but hey ... it was the 60s, so I fit right in!! She started quilting later in life, after I took it up. She made lots of pillows and a quilt for my sister, and one for my brother. She made a beautiful quilt for herself that hung on a quilt rack on the wall in her sewing room, which went to another brother after she died. She stopped crafting when dementia started to take its toll, so her sewing room sat unused for several years. 

When we cleaned out her house, I brought all of her knitting needles, crochet hooks, bags of yarn, boxes of fabric, and a big blue plastic bin home to my house. I combined the knitting needles and crochet hooks with my own, sorted the yarn and gave some away for charity knitting projects and added the rest to my yarn stash and integrated her fabric with my own fabric stash. 

The blue bin got put in the basement. It moved with us in 2010 to our new home and has been sitting in the basement untouched since then. This week, as I was reorganizing my sewing space, I decided to see what was in there.

I found 2 unfinished quilt tops with all the fabric needed to finish them. There are maybe 2 more, or maybe they are just orphan pieces from quilts she did already did. They are a few pieced blocks and lots of matching fabric, so I'll have to try to figure those out. There were also two quilted blocks she probably intended to make pillows out of, and another quilt, a preprinted wedding ring fabric that she was hand quilting and never finished. 

The first one is a pierced star. I think it is king sized, but I haven't measured it yet. She had little notes pinned with the row numbers pinned to each row. Blue was her favorite color, and there was a LOT of blue fabric in her stash. The second one is a log cabin. In with the fabric was a note card she had made with the fabrics all numbered so she would remember what colors went where. 

The last photo is the table in my sewing space with all of her projects sorted. 

I spent the afternoon, ironing and sorting the pieces and figuring out which fabric went with which project.

It don't know why I didn't look in that bin until now. Maybe I just wasn't ready. Maybe it needed to wait for a time when spending an afternoon handling the fabric that she touched, examining the stitches that she made, seeing the notes that she wrote would be a comfort, instead of a reminder of how much I miss her every day. 

While I sorted and ironed and stacked and examined, I imagined us sitting together over coffee, talking about the projects we were working on, sharing ideas on techniques and design. I remembered sitting around kitchen tables in the quilting group we both belonged to in the 1980s, where a group of about 10 women got together once a week at each others' homes, each working on their own projects, sharing conversation and fellowship and a lot of laughter. As I ironed her blocks and pieces, the smell of the freshly pressed fabric wafted toward my nostrils and brought back even more memories, reminding me of her bent over her sewing machine, making clothes for herself, me and my sister, making curtains and draperies and pillows for the house ... and quilts. It was almost like spending the afternoon with her.

My plan is to finish the two quilts that are almost done and give the blue one to the brother (I have 3) who does not have one of her quilts, and keep the other one for myself. If the 2 I'm not sure about are, indeed, the pieces for more tops, I'll finish those and the wedding ring quilt and give one to each of my boys. 

My mom and I were very close. She wasn't just my mom, she was my best friend. She was lost to me for the last few years of her life, as the worsening dementia turned her into someone I didn't know. I missed my mom and grieved for her for years before she passed away. Since she's been gone, there has been a hole in my life that I have not seemed to be able to fill. As I work on these projects, I look forward to spending many more afternoons with Mom. I never imagined that blue bin, taking up space in my basement, contained such treasures. Or that I would rediscover it at a time in my life when being reminded of who she was, not who she became, would mean so much to me. What a treasure that blue bin has turned out to be!! 

Until next time ...


Friday, February 19, 2016

Welcome Back!!

It's been a while. Sometimes life just gets in the way. 

My last couple of posts were about my husband's cancer. I am thrilled to say that he is 2 years out now, and remains cancer free. Every time he goes back to follow up with his surgeon he (the surgeon) says "You know, you should have died!"  Honey is truly a miracle, and we know now that every day is a gift, and we are determined not to squander it. 

So what's been happening in my life? We welcomed our second grandchild last January, a little brother for Miss T,  and he just turned 1 year old. He is the happiest baby, much like his dad was, although a little quieter and more laid back!! We enjoy them both immensely and spend as much time with them as we can. 

I spent the first part of last year laid up with pretty bad sciatica. I just woke up one day in January with this incredible pain that went all the way down my leg to my foot. I couldn't stand up straight, couldn't walk more than a few steps without feeling like I had an ice pick in my bum. And to make matters worse, our doctor of 40 years became ill and had to retire suddenly, so we had to find a new doctor in the middle of it all, which meant I had to start all over with conservative treatment before I could get an MRI approved. Pain meds didn't work. Physical therapy made it worse. Finally, in May, I had an MRI which showed a herniated disc and I got an appointment with a neurosurgeon ... in July! Strangely, while I was waiting for that appointment, after 5 months of no improvement at all, it started to slowly get better, and by a week before the appointment, my pain was completely gone and has been gone ever since!!  I can't tell you how many times that has happened to me, where I fool around trying to treat something by myself and when I finally decide to see a doctor, it goes away!  I'm not complaining though. No pain is good!! 

Last summer, my firstborn and his wife moved back to Michigan from Florida after 11 years. They decided they wanted to be closer to family. They're glad to be back, but they are suffering through their first Michigan winter in many years ... and it hasn't even been that bad a winter yet!! It's nice to have them here though.

After being stuck in a chair for nearly 6 months, Honey and I decided that maybe it was time for us to take better care of ourselves, so we started trying to lose weight in late June. We don't call it a diet. We call it eating like we should have been for the last 50 years!! So far, Honey has lost about 94 pounds and I've lost 45. (I just hate it that men lose twice as fast as women, but that is the reality, and we just have to deal with it!) It really hasn't been that hard. We are basically eating fresh home prepared food, staying away from processed pre-packaged stuff, trying to make healthy choices and watch our portions and that has done the trick. There really isn't anything we can't eat and if there is something we really want, we have it and get back on our program afterward. We go out to eat occasionally, but we check the menu online ahead of time when we can and try to choose something that is healthy and not loaded with fat, sugar and calories. 

All of my clothes are too big and I look like some kind of a bag lady most of the time, but I'm not spending money on new clothes until I reach my goal. I've bought a few things at local thrift shops to get me through, and was able to alter a few of my things, but mostly, I just wear stuff baggy!! 

Now, the next step is to get some exercise. After years of being mostly sedentary, that's easier said than done. My kids keep telling us we should join a gym. They don't get that we need to work ourselves UP to a gym!! I'm trying to be more active around the house, now that I'm able to stand and walk a little more, but I really lost a lot of strength and endurance those months I was laid up, so it's slow going. I no longer groan and the prospect of having to run upstairs or downstairs, and I can stand up long enough to prepare a whole meal, so I'm doing some cooking again, but I'll tell you, it takes a lot longer to get it back than it does to lose it!! . I bought Honey a bike for his birthday, so come spring, we're going to try to do some bicycling. I expect we won't be able to do much more than ride around the parking lot at first, but hey, you have to start somewhere! 

I took up crochet a little more than a year ago. I took a class from our local community education department. I like it better than knitting and I've made amigurumi animals for Miss T, baby afghans, hats, scarves, slippers, dishcloths, table runners, baskets. I am accumulating quite a yarn stash, and even learned how to make T-shirt yarn to make baskets and rugs with. 


I've been trying to organize and set up my sewing space in the basement the last few weeks. While I was laid up, my sewing space got turned into the junk room ... the place where everything got dumped when we decided to "put it in the basement." I couldn't get down there very easily, so I didn't realize how bad it got, until I went down there to try to catch up on the laundry. It took me several weeks just to get to to where I could set up a sewing machine again. 

And then, of course, as soon as everyone figured out I was sewing, I got a slew of new and old mending to do!! While I was teaching my boys to cook and clean and grocery shop growing up, I should have taught them how to use a needle and thread too!! 

I got a serger for Christmas and a new sewing machine in January and I'm itching to get back into it. I'm taking an online serger class, but I had to put it on hold because while trying to make the first project, I the upper knife blade broke on my serger, so it's in for repair now. I also took in my 1971 Kenmore (my first love, and a real workhorse), and another Kenmore I got in the 1990s for tuning up. Soon I'll have 3 working sewing machines and a serger! I have so many things I want to do ... make doll clothes for Miss T, clothes for myself, curtains for the house, pillows, quilts, purses, In the meantime, I'm sorting through UFOs, and trying to get things organized. Oh, and I have managed to do a little quilting!! 

Honey and I semi-retired last year. We both still work part time and probably will as long as we are able, but we have more time to do the things we love, and spend time with the people we love, and life is good. 

So that brings me up to date. I'm hoping to do a better job of keeping this blog up. Not that anybody reads it any more. But it's fun, and who knows, maybe I still have a follower or two. 

Until next time ... 


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

No, I'm Not Crazy

When Honey had his surgery, he had a large abdominal wound that was closed with staples.  Two days after he left the hospital, he developed a fever and the surgeon had to open about 6 inches of the wound to allow it to drain.  He told me, "You're going to think I'm crazy, but I want you to get this stuff."   It's an antimicrobial spray that they use on horses.  He said to spray the wound with it every dressing change, that he had patients who had used it before and it worked great in helping wounds to heal. 

He gave us directions to the vet's office and off we went.  It was located out in the country, but we did find it.  I went in the front door and there were two doors, one to the right and one to the left.  I entered the office, stood in line until it was my turn to talk to the receptionist. 

Receptionist:  Can I help you? 

Me:  Yes, my husband's surgeon told me to get this spray called PuriShield to use on his surgical wound. 

Receptionist:  Excuse me? 

Me:  I need to buy some PuriShield to use on my husband's wound. 

Receptionist:  Ma'am, that is for animals.  I don't think we can sell it for human use. 

Me:  Well, my husband's surgeon said to get it and he said to get it here. 

Receptionist:  Let me ask someone about it (disappearing into the back of the office). 

Receptionist:  Ma'am, you need to go to the large animal side.  This is the small animal clinic. 

So I walk out the door and go in the door on the right this time. 

Receptionist:  Can I help you? 

Me:  Yes, I need to get some PuriShield spray to use on my husband's surgical wound. 

Receptionist:  From Dr. J, right?  Don't you just love him!! 

(Apparently he's a good customer!!). 

So we got our "horse spray" as we call it, after Honey had the surgeon reassure him that he would not want to whinny or run at Pimlico after using it.  

And it did work great!! 

Until next time ... 


Playing the Waiting Game

It's been 2-1/2 months since the diagnosis, and it's been pretty much of a waiting game.  Honey had to have CT scans of the lungs, abdomen, pelvis and whole body bone scan done.  He had to have a lot of blood tests done.  He had an appointment with the oncologist, who said that the CT scans showed an area on his right femur (thigh bone) with enhanced signal, so he wanted to get an MRI.  There was some inflammation in the lymph nodes in the groin that were "of concern" so he thought that Honey might need to have a lymph node dissection, which is removal of the lymph nodes in the pelvis and groin to see if there is cancer there.  That is a major surgery with a difficult and often complicated recovery period and can cause lifelong problems with swelling in the legs, so that was NOT good news.  However, after talking to the surgeon, who said there had been a lot of inflammation in the area of the surgery, they decided to put Honey on a course of antibiotics and repeat the scan in 6 weeks.  So we waited.  

It turns out that the increased signal intensity on his thigh bone is probably a bone cyst, which is not a concerning finding, and six weeks later, the lymph nodes had returned to normal, so no lymph node surgery was recommended. 

So the question remaining is what to do now?  There few studies on this cancer because it is rare in this country, and Honey's case is not typical.  Usually, chemotherapy and/or radiation is given first to shrink the tumor, then surgery is done, the cancer is removed, and if there is no spread, follow up is with CT scans every 6 months for 2 years to check for recurrence.  If the cancer has spread, it is generally fatal, but they can do chemotherapy to slow it down.  In Honey's case, the surgery had to be done immediately because of the size of the tumor and the incredible pain he was in.   

Now, the problem is that the oncologist isn't sure what to do in terms of radiation and chemo, since there are no precedents for doing chemotherapy after surgery when there is no spread to other organs.  So he is sending Honey to the University of Michigan to see an oncologist and radiation oncologist for their opinions.   That will probably happen the first week in May ... so we wait some more. 

In the meantime, Honey's wound is not completely healed yet, but it is getting close.  As of this week, I no longer have to pack the wound and he just needs a small dressing to cover the open area.  

The best part is, he says he feels better than he has in years, and in so many respects, it's been wonderful to have him back to his old self ... even with the chemo stuff still hanging over his head.  We've been able to do things together again, like go to a movie, or out to eat, or even just a drive or run errands together.  Things he couldn't do because the pain was too unbearable.  We've been taking advantage of that while we can before he starts chemo and will have to be careful about being in crowds for a while. 

I have to admit, I'm afraid of the chemo, though.  My dad had cancer and it wasn't the cancer that killed him, it was the chemo, which suppressed his immune system and allowed an infection in his leg to run rampant.  He started complaining of pain in his leg on a Sunday evening and 36 hours later died of septic shock because the infection spread so fast the antibiotics just couldn't get in front of it.  That scares me ... a lot.  

But I'm trying not to borrow trouble and not worry about it too much until I have to. 

I'm getting kind of good at that. 

Until next time ... 



Thursday, February 20, 2014

The C Word

A little over 2 weeks ago, we found out my husband has cancer.  

It's a rare cancer, with an occurrence rate of about 1 in 100,000 in the United States.   We knew when he saw the surgeon that he would be having surgery, but the cancer diagnosis was very unexpected.  

Since then, he's had major surgery, bone scans, CT scans, blood work, oncology appointments, followup appointments with the surgeon, and he potentially has more scans, more surgery with more biopsies ahead, possibly requiring us to travel to the University of Michigan, all before we'll know what treatment is recommended after the surgery. 

I've spent the last 2 weeks packing and dressing his wounds 3 times a day, caring for his catheter, helping him dress and bathe, all the while working my 4 to midnight full work-at-home job as a medical editor/transcriptionist.   

This cancer is so rare, that there are no studies with a large enough sample of patients to be able to even predict 5 year survival rates, recurrence rates and so on.   The statistics that are available are not very encouraging, with life expectancy of 7 months to 2 years after diagnosis for the more advanced stages. 

I'm still trying to wrap my head around all this.  We've been together for 43 years, since I was 18 years old.  We have worked together in the same home office for the last 18 years.  We're sort of joined at the hip.   When you grow old with someone, you expect that at some point, one of you will die.  Somehow, I always thought that if his time came before mine, that it would be a heart attack, or something quick like that, where he's here one day and the next day he's gone.  

It never occurred to me that I might have to watch him die.  

I don't know how to deal with that, so for right now, I'm hanging on to hope that when all the testing is done that there will be a treatment that can cure him, and if not, at least hold it at bay for a few years.   In other words, I'm holding on to hope until somebody tells me not to, and that day is not here.  . 

We all know someone who has been affected by cancer, but somehow, you never think it will hit this close to home ... until it does.  

Until next time, 


Thursday, February 17, 2011

You Can Call Me Grandma

The Big Guy and KT recently informed us that we're going to be grandparents!! We're thrilled!! We've actually known since shortly before Christmas, but the kids didn't want it made public until after the first trimester, after suffering a pregnancy loss last year. She's into her second trimester now and things seem to be just fine, so we're saying our prayers that things continue that way, and that we'll be welcoming a little one into our lives come summertime.

And yes, I'm already knitting booties. We won't know for a while if it's a boy or a girl, so my color choices are limited!! Yellow is pretty safe, I think.

I finally got around to hanging my mini quilts in the stairwell. As soon as I saw that stairs before we moved in here I thought it would be a great place to display these. Some I made myself, some were received in swaps. There's room to add a few more down the road too.

I haven't been sewing a whole lot, but I did finish a baby blanket I was knitting. I actually started this several months ago. I told the kids I was knitting in "on spec" since I figured someone would be having a baby one of these days!! Little did I know ....
It looks like 2011 is off to a great start for us. It's about time!! Life is good again.

Until next time.


Saturday, January 8, 2011

I've Been a Busy Girl...

I have been a busy girl the last couple of days. I promised myself once I finished the gifts I made for Christmas, I would work on some of my UFOs before I started anything new.

The first project was to finish up some mug rugs I pieced before Christmas. I put them aside so I could finish gifts. I just kind of made them up as I went along. Now that I know what I'm doing, I think I'd like to make some more of these. They were fun and quick, and useful.

The next finish, is a baby quilt I started in 2008. A relative was expecting a baby, and I made a baby boy quilt and a baby girl quilt, since they didn't know ahead of time what they were having. This was one of my first attempts at free motion quilting. I had some problems with the tension on my sewing machine and while the top looked fine, the back was a gnarled mess of thread. I spent hours taking out the quilting I had done and by then was tired of looking at it, so I put it away. (The relative had a baby boy ... lucky for me!! I sent the baby boy quilt. He's 2 now!!)
I've done a lot more free motion quilting since then, mostly on small projects, but I seem to be getting the hang of it, so I thought I'd finish this up. I don't have anyone to give it to, but my boys are at that age where their friends are starting families, so somebody will have a baby girl one of these days!!

Next is a table runner I made for a fall giveaway in blog land in the fall of 2009. As I was quilting it, somehow I got a big wrinkle in the back, so once again, I put it away to be finished another time. Fortunately, I had made two of them, because I wanted one to keep. That one turned out fine and now resides in a home in New Zealand. (That still amazes me that something I made belongs to someone halfway around the world!!)
Anyhow, I finished it up and got the binding on and it's now at home on my coffee table. It's just what was needed there.

My last finish, isn't really a finish ... it's just progress, but I'm happy with it, so including it here. Last year sometime I bought a couple of charm packs of Cotton Blossom by Moda. I didn't have a plan for it, just wanted something new to sew on. I decided to do a disappearing 9 patch. I got the 9 patches made, and that is as far as I got. This week, I cut the blocks up and pieced it. This is a picture of the blocks laid out on my living room floor. I'd like to add a border or two and use it for a wall hanging or a lap quilt in my living room. I don't really have anything in my stash that will work, so I'm going to have to find some fabric to finish it.
While I had the camera out today, my baby girl, Peanut wanted to have her picture taken too.
Doesn't she look just like one of those Ewoks from the Star Wars movie? She's like having a live teddy bear!! Scooter wouldn't let me take his picture today. He's kind of camera shy, but Peanut is a ham ... always has been.

Until next time...