Sunday, December 07, 2008

Double Nine Patch

It has been a while, hasn't it? I have been busy the last few months, doing this and that. There have been so many other things going on that I neglected blogging until now I am embarrassed about the length of time I've been absent.

Da is completely recovered from his surgery. It is like he never had a life threatening episode this past summer.

While he was mending, I started another quilt, imagine that!

I can, and have, made a wedding quilt in under a week, but I decided at the outset that I wanted to try out and learn some new techniques so I was not going to allow myself to get all stressed out about making any self-imposed deadlines. I just needed to relax after the stress of Da's surgery. I figured that the intended wedding couple would stay married long enough to get a present three months late, and they did.
Onyx really wanted to be a part of this quilt. That little tail of hers kept flipping in and out of the sewing area. I'm sure some of her fur is well preserved in the depths of the stitches. She was not harmed in the making of this quilt.

I find this kind of pile very satisfying. It means I was on a roll and getting lots done.

I am still learning how to make quilts. Or rather how NOT to make quilts. I intend to learn something on each one, and that is why I attempt new things and techniques. I had a physics professor say that one hasn't really learned anything until one has made all possible mistakes. I learned a lot on this quilt.

See the bread rising in the background? It must be close to me and in sight because I get too involved while I'm sewing. I don't know how many times I have allowed the loaf to overflow its pan and make a mess. Then it gets so ugly that I have to start all over in order to have something presentable for B of B meeting. Don't worry, Da and I enjoy eating ugly bread so it doesn't go to waste. Besides, can you think of a better use for those hand weights?

This technique is one I won't do again. It may look okay, but it was just not worth the struggle. I wanted to use my new embroidery machine to embellish the large, plain areas of the quilt but it was just too big and unwieldy to wrestle into position and keep track of. (The close-up has funny lighting, it really is brown on brown.)
This is a much better use of the embroidery machine. I now have my favorite "wedding verse" which I designed on my computer saved on a memory stick and in my machine's memory ready for the next pillow.

Yes, I did use some of that three months to learn that computer embroidery program and I even took a refresher class in how to get the embroidery machine to do exactly what I wanted. Time well spent.

The other new thing I learned with this quilt is how to set the blocks on point so that the little squares go vertically and horizontally instead of diagonally. I made a bunch of mistakes but I will use this technique again. I like how it changed the whole character of the quilt.

I hope the couple enjoys this quilt, I had fun making it.


Thursday, July 31, 2008

Home again

I can breathe again. Da's surgery went well, the aneurysm has been repaired. And we are back home. Whew!

Da was in the operating room for seven hours, not the 4-6 that we were expecting. Da doesn't do things by half, oh no. Extravagant, excessive, over-the-top, more and better than anyone else, yes, that's him. I betcha didn't know that about him. He didn't break just one eye, it had to be both of them. He didn't have just three cardiac bypass grafts, he had to have six. He didn't marry someone just ten years younger, try twenty-two years.

And he also didn't stay in the hospital the expected 5-10 days. No, he came home after four. He was doing so much better than expected, the surgeon saw no point to him staying any longer. He can rest and recuperate better at home where it is calmer and quieter than a busy hospital. Besides, he knows where things are at home and people don't move things around here and make incessant and alarming noises. Okay, things get moved, but I do (usually) tell him about it and he can shush me if needs be.

Here is a big thank-you for all the cards and flowers and visits and especially the prayers sent up on his behalf. That is why he did so well, I'm sure of it. HE truly is a GREAT physician.

So here we are, trying to get back to our normal routine. He has to live downstairs until his re-check, but meanwhile... who is going to get the mail and take the garbage out?

Isn't it funny how one never realizes just how much someone does until he doesn't do it anymore?

Everybody, go appreciate that one.

Thursday, July 24, 2008


We are still here.

This has been a crazy month or so. Da and I have logged many hours on the road back and forth to the hospital/clinic. About 25 hours anyway, I guess. That is the only thing we don't like about Kaiser, it takes over an hour to get there.

You see, Da has an abdominal aortic aneurysm or AAA. It is big. The normal aorta is about 2 cm. Da's is 6.8 cm. Not good. He found it himself when he lay down in bed and felt his tummy throbbing. He thought, "Have I always had this? Has this always been like this?" He didn't know but he thought not. It was strange anyway so he made an appointment with his doc and then we went to Hawaii. (Or he might have made the appointment after we got back, I don't remember.)

Anyway, he saw his doc on June 10. Just a regular check-up. He mentioned the throbbing and some other minor problems. He got scheduled to see an ear-nose-throat specialist (6/18) for one, and had a barium esophagus scan (6/20)for another. Then he had an abdominal ultrasound (6/26). We go on living like normal. No big deal.

Then at 9 pm on a Sunday night (6/29), his doctor called us at home. Now, our medical plan, Kaiser Permanente, is a huge corporation. They normally don't call us on Sunday night after gospel meeting. That in itself gave us a clue as to the seriousness of the situation.

Dr. Tan confirmed that the throbbing was indeed an aneurysm just as they both had thought. He wanted Da to see another specialist right away. And have more tests, right away. So we meet Dr. Kim (7/1). He looks at the collected test results and orders even more tests and schedules surgery for 25 days. TWENTY-FIVE DAYS! Wait a minute, this is my husband we are talking about. Why 25 days? Why not today?

Dr. Kim is the vascular surgeon. He cancels Dr. Tan's tests and orders his own. He doesn't like Da's blood count. It is way too low, he is bleeding somewhere. I'm thinking that the aneurysm is leaking or something. Somebody, DO SOMETHING!

Good old internet. I do some surfing and end up worse. What if... what about... Did they think of this?... This is no good. Call the doctor. It is Saturday evening, after hours. We can leave a voice mail. ARGhh. Oh, wait, we have Dr. Tan's e-mail, let's send a message. Maybe he'll read his mail before Monday. Shoot the message off and talk some more. Call Chuggy and Bill, they are not home from Lassen yet. Leave a message. Talk some more. Bill calls, they got home an hour after I called. Yay, finally some consolation in this thing. Go to bed and cry. This stress is getting to me. I can't sleep, I get up and play spider on the computer. Oh, check my neglected mail. Hey, whadya know? Dr. Tan answered our questions 5 minutes after we sent them. Our fears are not warranted. Why didn't I check my mail 'til 7 hours later? Nothing like borrowing trouble.

Now, why isn't Kaiser doing anything? Okay, they are. Five different stress tests and a CT scan on 7/7. That takes, oh, only eight hours or so. I am having my own stress test of my own making. Where's the bleeding? Colonoscopy (7/15). Nothing much, but more tests are indicated to rule out something or other. After we take our first bites at Black Angus we realize that we should have gone to the lab first and gotten blood drawn for that fasting test. Da had been fasting for the colonoscopy. Doh! Oh well, we will be back soon anyway. Complete history and physical. Isn't this rather redundant? Not really. Get that fasting test done and a chest x-ray(7/17) . Upper GI exam. Nothing at all. Maybe a small hernia. No bleeding(7/21). Pre-op appointment with Dr. Kim. Meet the anesthesiologist, Dr. Tedla (he's from Russia). Even more blood tests. (No wonder Da is anemic.) Rush to get a baseline EKG. That section is closed. No, the tech is still here. Whew. Done.

We try a new restaurant on the way home. It is our new favorite (7/23). I Check the blood test results when we get home. I love it that the results get posted immediately on the Kaiser web site. Da's blood count is up! Some good news finally. The anesthesiologist had wanted to give a blood transfusion before the operation, now he won't have to, I think.

Da called Kaiser this morning as directed to see what time he is to check-in tomorrow for surgery. It is at 5:30 am. We will stay at a nearby hotel tonight. I will probably stay there the whole week.

Your prayers are felt and much appreciated.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008


He was a big dog. He weighed 120 pounds and measured 28 inches high at the shoulder. He had a long tongue and really big ears and a super long tail (which he would catch on command), but it was his heart that was the largest part of him.

Yes, he was a big wuss. A crybaby, really. But that is what endeared him to us. That, and his love of peanut butter. He had character, all right.
He kept us safe from marauding bumblebees.

And oh, how he loved the water. He was always happy to help me make sure the sprinklers were working. He would run and stand in front of any spraying sprinkler he found on our walks to get a drink and get his tummy wet. Sometimes he would forget to get a drink, even, just getting soaked was what he wanted. He would race to the percolating ponds in the riverbed just to swim in a wide circle a couple of times before continuing on the walk.

Because of careless breeding he had bad hips, a common ailment of German Shepherd Dogs. His were really bad so we got one of his hips replaced when he was just two. He did okay. He loved to chase rabbits in the riverbed behind us.

After a tussle with a visitor in our hallway earlier this year, he snapped something in his knee. How would he do without his regular walks? Not well. We got him a dog wheelchair so he didn't have to. He took to that quickly and did great for a while.

But this morning it was his kidneys that gave out. He was 39 days from his eleventh birthday.

Chase, I miss you.

Monday, May 26, 2008

The Big Island

Without fanfare we did it. Da and I visited our favorite island, the Big Island of Hawaii. It has so many different kinds of places one never gets tired of it.

I think these ferns are intriguing, all curled up and ready to unfurl.

We took Da's sister, Em. She had never been to Hawaii. Here she is with her brother on a black sand beach.
The volcano is still erupting and causing a weird weather phenomenon the locals call Vog, volcano fog. That is the crater behind us.
From the helicopter we could see evidence of a lava tube.
We also traipsed through an old one. It had cooled signifi- cantly.
No trip to Hawaii would be complete for me without a visit to my favorite orchid nursery. I didn't have this color orchid. Now I do.
This one, though not unusual in looks, was so very fragrant even the cashier who works amongst the flowers was impressed.
I am not much for baking in the sun so we did not bask much as this local denizen apparently does.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Happy Birthday to Da!

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

White Diamonds

April is for diamonds. Diamonds are many colors, even white. So this month's project can be anything. I'll do white.
Here's an old picture of a sunrise. Beautiful, I say. I wonder when I got up early enough to see a sunrise? Must have stayed up all night for that one.

I did work on my white garden. It is on the west side in that narrow space between my house and the neighbor's house.

(a very old picture, before nice camera)

I knew it could be a forgotten area so I planned for it to be special. Only white flowers are allowed here.

A white bird feeder was a gift from SAJ. It is perfect for my white garden and is seen full of thistle seed hanging from a branch of my ivy covered Chinese fringe tree.

Several years later it is still hanging but is empty and the tree trunk is even more covered by the ivy.

My poor azalea. She came with us from the Bay Area and is struggling. The soil is just too alkaline for her needs, but she makes a valiant effort and blooms every year anyway. I'll have to try some soil amendments before she succumbs, coffee grounds are not enough.

Onyx thinks she is white. Don't tell her she is not.

The Chinese fringe tree! I read about this tree in the Sunset Garden Book and had to have one. My local nursery was able to procure one for me after searching all their suppliers. I stressed how it had to be a female tree, not male. The first few years I had it I despaired that they had given me a male tree after all as it did not bloom. I was disappointed.

But this year it really surprised me. It is blooming just like the Sunset book said, like a giant lilac. It is so pretty I'm kind of sad it is not in a more prominant place and more visible. It is a perfect tree for a white garden, though. You must click on the pictures to see its true beauty and glimpse the pink balloon and streamer it caught.

Not in my white garden but still in my yard are the Lady Banks roses. They cover the east fence on my slope. There is not enough sun for them in the white garden.

A baby geranium. My grown-up geranium all but died in the freeze we had a year ago so I told him I would get another one to help him fill his space.

Home Depot had geraniums on sale for 50 cents each. This one cost a little more because the ones on sale were on sale because they didn't know what color they would bloom. I needed white. I got the sale ones for the dog yard, I don't care what color blooms there, just so they are hardy and do bloom.

These Chinese chives were a gift from Gramma. They faithfully bloom every year. So delicate.

I thought I had gotten rid of the white potato vine but I guess not. I love the flower but the vine is so tenacious. It sprawls over everything and smothers the weaker plants. It killed my white clematis and denuded a thuja I was using as a divider. It covered my white wooden arch and created a sail which caused the arch to break out of its cement footing in a windstorm. It tried to grow down the slope which is a good thirty feet away from its roots. So I removed it. It came back. I haven't decided what to do with it.

I have not been very good at doing the right color project for each month's birthstone--or even writing about one, at least. Forgive me, Knittery.