Thursday, July 29, 2010

Post Op Benefits - Chapter 2

In my quest to find things to occupy my time and keep me awake during daylight hours, I decided to tackle a cleanout of our business files -- a long overdue task!  I don't have to do much lifting, the cleanout can be done sitting down, and I get to do one of my favorite things - toss out junk!  I'm a master at organizing and cleaning out, you see.

DH, on the other hand, is a pack rat.  He agreed to be more proactive this time and not keep things "just in case."  The shredder is getting quite a workout, and the recycling can is almost full.

I'm also going through my clothes and making piles of things to give away.  Groan.  Trying on clothes is bad enough.  Trying them on while still keeping my tummy out of harm's way takes some doing.  The good news is that the few pounds I lost due to the surgery is actually making this fun.  I look slightly less dumpy and matronly than I did two weeks ago.  Let's see if I can manage to keep the 5 pounds off!

I haven't really gotten back to sewing, yet, which surprises me since I enjoy it so much.  Plus, it's definitely a sedentary activity which causes no abdominal strain!  I did finish a little puffy pouch for my sister from the Pink Penguin tutorial, but the flex frames I ordered are too small (4").  Ordered the 5" variety online last night, so will have to wait for them to arrive to finish the project.  I found another tutorial for a coin purse using the smaller frame and hope to finish up one of those this afternoon.  I promised myself that I will then get back to the doll dress quilt - I now have 5 pieces of fabric!  Yikes!  I need to find 5 more creative ideas.  Time to surf the Internet to find an idea to steal.

I find myself spending more hours of the day sitting on our patio, which I usually don't take the time to enjoy.  Being in "recovery mode" forced me into this.  I definitely should sit and watch the flowers grow more often.  I can't do anything about the weeds or the trimming for a few more weeks which is definitely a post-op benefit.

DH bought me The Nook, the e-reader from Barnes and Noble, as a get well gift.  I'm loving it!  I thought I might miss the feel of a book in my hands.  So far, that is not the case.  I know that I'll still get my bestsellers from the library, cheapo that I am, but I downloaded about a half dozen classics for free that I've always meant to read.  I'm halfway through "War of the Worlds" by Wells.  Great read for a lazy summer day.  Which reminds me -- my patio is waiting!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Post-Op Benefits - Chapter 1

Two days ago, DH asked if I thought I should call the doctor to tell him that I am very tired and still in need of an afternoon nap.  My response was that I'm 64 years old and not going to bounce back as quickly as I did the last time I had surgery - in 1989!  Considering that I was pretty sick for two days prior to the surgery and had my body beaten up during the surgery, I think I'm doing quite well.  Patience, dear man, patience.  I don't think hubbies do well when spouses are under the weather.

Anyway, I've been looking for some positives to dwell on while I recover.  Being able to take afternoon naps without guilt is at the top of the list.  Getting regular phone calls from baby sister, daughter, and son is a blessing.  My daughter and I talk pretty regularly, and my sister and I talk at least once a week.  But our son is one who only calls when he really has something to say.  It's been nice to have him check up on me.

Reading.  Ah, reading.  I'm a lifelong avid reader.  Growing up, my bedroom was upstairs.  I had the second floor all to myself.  I was permitted to read until Mom called up "lights out."  Being a kid, I learned how to put pillows over the bedlamp and continue reading until I decided it was time for lights out!  Remember the bedlamps that hung over the headboard?  I marvel that I never set the house on fire .... 

With my physical activity restricted, I've spent a lot of time over the last two weeks reading.  Finished "The Help" by Kathryn Stockett.  I highly recommend this book especially for those of you who grew up during the 50s and 60s and remember the civil rights movement.  I could not put this book down.  Since my genre of choice is modern mysteries or crime novels, this was a bit different for me.  I'm still thinking about it a week after reading the final chapter.  That's a good book.

Today, I will finish "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo."  Wow!  I don't often read two books in a row that keep me turning pages fast and furiously.  No wonder this book has been on the bestseller lists for months.  I can hardly wait to read the remaining two books in the trilogy

John Sandford's new book, "Storm Prey," is waiting for me at the library.  Hmmmm ... can we make this three in a row?

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Random thoughts on life in the hospital ....

How does anyone manage to get better while in the hospital?  I'm a rational person of some intelligence, so I understand that procedures are in place to protect the patient and care for them.  However, must they wake you at regular intervals preventing you from sleeping for more than 90 minutes at a time?  Blood pressure check, meds, change the battery in the heart monitor, stick me for more blood samples, empty this tube, fill up the other tube - what level is your pain now, Mrs. G?

Ice chips on the third morning .... nothing without taste has ever tasted better.

A surprise visit from a quilting friend who knows enough to stay 10 minutes and not a second longer.  Thank you, Ann.

A longer visit from our daughter brought joy to my heart - and the realization that my stoicism might have cost me the chance to see her, hug her, love her again.  Once in awhile, I guess we need a smack in the face to remind us how fragile life really is.

My doctor knocking the socks off me as he described what they had to do in the operating room in order to "flush out" my abdomen of the nasty pus stuff.  A reminder of how tough our bodies are as long as we keep them in pretty good running order.

Losing one tube per day - priceless!  First, the oxygen.  Then the naso-gastric tube.  Then the catheter.  The drain.  Finally, the IV and the heart monitor!  Freedom, blessed freedom.

Walking - shuffling? - along the hospital corridor with DH pushing the IV and me trying to hold onto the wall and the drain tube at the same time.  No photos, please.

Phone calls from our son, Matt, every day.  I'm so glad I had kids!

Having a 4th IV inserted since the first 3 worked their way out of my thinning veins.  This time, I asked for a board to keep my elbow straight to prevent being stuck again.  This is the sound of an angry woman - I will not be stuck again.

Get well drawings from the grandkids.  Trying to figure out how Tasha's blue eagle is going to help me get better.  Soar like an eagle?

Trying to eat jello with my left hand.  Hmmmm .... Dougie, can you please cut up my jello?

Meeting nurses from the Congo, the Phillipines, Ghana.  A worldwide tour without leaving my hospital room.

Sticking tissue in my ears to keep the nighttime noises down.  Trying to sleep on my back.

Needing help from DH to take a sponge bath and manuever in the bathroom.  For better or worse, in sickness and in health.  He did great 40 years after reciting those vows.

Coming home.  There's no place like home, there's no place like home - there really is no place like home!

Friday, July 23, 2010

When stoic equals stupid!

After a fun weekend of family get togethers and babysitting our wonderful grandchildren, I woke up at my sister's house on Tuesday, the 13th, about 3 a.m. with intense abdominal cramping.  Cramping led to the usual intestinal problems for the next few hours and I assumed that I had a really bad case of food poisoning.  Being a mom and a grandmother, my first thoughts were to run through what we had eaten in hopes that no one else shared my pain!  I traced my dilemma to a fast-food salad eaten at lunch the day before.

We were due to meet Matt, our son, for a quick lunch at an Indian restaurant in the San Fernando Valley before returning home.  I nixed the Indian food, obviously, and nixed the lunch as well.  Just get me home, I said to DH!  I dosed off and on in the car on the way home and realized I was running a slight temp.  The rest of Tuesday was spent dozing, eating nothing, and just generally being miserable.  I now had my ailment pegged as an intestinal virus.  Oh, no!  What if I infected the kids and Sara has 3 toddlers all sick with the yuckies at the same time?  I warned the family - my sister Lysoled her guest bathroom.

Tuesday night, around 10:30 p.m., I was hit with a wave of the most painful cramping I have ever had - worse than labor pains, I assure you.  We had already decided that Doug should sleep in the guest room because I knew I would keep him up with my tossing and turning, fever, bathroom visits, etc.  I was literally doubled over in pain for 10-15 minutes before I could get control and limp down the hall to tell him I needed to go to the ER.  Doug was scheduled to get up early on Wednesday and drive to the Carlsbad house since the carpet was going to be installed.  Obviously, my ailment was poorly timed!  We went back and forth for a few minutes and figured we'd probably sit in the ER all night, we didn't have a fallback plan for getting the house open for the carpet installers, etc., etc.  So, stoic that I am, I said I would take some pain meds that I had in the house from last summer's undiagnosed gut pain and try to tough it through the night.  Big mistake.  Bad judgment.  Stupid.  Stupid.  Stupid.  Why can't I ever put myself first?

Wednesday morning, Doug made a quick turnaround trip to Carlsbad to let the installers in and arrange for a neighbor to secure the house when they finished.  I called my doc (who is no longer my doc) and described my symptoms.  Rather than have me come in for an office visit, my doc had her nurse call to say it sounded like a viral infection that needed to run its course.  Keep fluid intake up, soft mild diet, etc.  In other words, suck it in, Marsha, and deal with it!

After another very uncomfortable night Wednesday, I told Doug on Thursday morning that we had to go to urgent care.  We were there when they opened the doors at 9 a.m.  It didn't take the doctor more than 2 minutes to diagnose my problem, give me a shot of Demerol, and send me off to the emergency room.  By 5 p.m., my surgeons were ready to go.  I had a laparoscopic appendectomy.  My appendix had burst (probably sometime Tuesday or Wednesday), my gut was full of nasty bacterial stuff, they had to rinse me out several times (thankfully, I was dead to the world on anaesthetics), and I woke up hooked up to more tubes than I had ever seen!  Massive doses of antibiotics to prevent continued infection, drainage tube, naso-gastric tube, oxygen, catheter, IVs - a true sick person!

And an unhappy surgeon telling DH that we were less than 24 hours from sepsis - systemic infection.  Suck it in and deal with it, Marsha, was obviously not the best choice.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Plans diverted .... once again!

I had an emergency appendectomy one week ago tonight, so things have been a bit rough around the edges here at the old homestead.  I'm home, feeling okay, and moving towards recovery.  More tomorrow ... promise!

Today is DH's 65th birthday.  We were planning to celebrate in Big Bear, at the best restaurant available.  Instead, we had great homemade spaghetti sauce compliments of my sister who has been here three days helping out, lovely salad and Italian bread.  Happy Birthday, Dougie!

Saturday, July 10, 2010


Off to see the family today.  We're doing an early celebration for Doug's birthday - his 65th!  We'll be in Big Bear for his actual birthday, so we're combining a birthday party with some babysitting to help out our daughter next week.  Never miss an opportunity to be with our 3 wonderful grandchildren .... oh .... and, our wonderful daughter, SIL, son, sister, BIL, too.  Truth be told, the kidlets are much more fun!

I've got my fingers crossed that our gardener will visit while we are away and finally put some annuals in the empty space in our backyard.  I am a TERRIBLE gardener.  I have neither talent nor interest in playing around in the dirt, but I do like the yard to look presentable.  I'm going to run out and take a "before" picture in hopes that I'll also be able to share an "after" picture with you next week.

I've had a lot of blog traffic lately, and I can't quite figure out why.  It may be due to some lovely comments about my doll dress blocks.  Love to have readers and love to have comments!  Two more doll dress blocks are on my agenda for next week after we return.  Let's see if I can get them done, or at least one of them, before we take off for Big Bear Lake next Friday.  I'm not planning on taking the Featherweight with me this time since there is so much to do at Big Bear.  Doug likes to keep on the go.

Have a great weekend!  Hope the heat has subsided a bit in the rest of the country.  Southern California has been remarkably cool this spring and early summer.  There is a warming trend on the horizon.  Should be in the 100s soon.  Ugh.  Double ugh.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Uh, oh ... we're moving again!

Southern California moved again tonight.  At about 4 minutes before 5 p.m., as I was standing in the kitchen contemplating dinner (for the umpteenth time ...), the earth moved.  I felt a small jolt and a bit of shaking, pretty much the norm, then a second jolt occurred that told me "This could be the big one!"  The pictures swayed, the noise got a bit louder, the crystal was tinkling, and I hit the ground running for the front door ...

If you've lived in Southern California as long as I have (since 1976), there's a time when your mind and your body says ... move, baby, move!

Glad that this old body can still move ... and also glad that this wasn't the Big One!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Time to Let Go

I celebrated Independence Day by tackling a long overdue project .  My mother-in-law passed away in April 2007 from the effects of Alzheimer's Disease.  Although we suspect that she had been ill for quite some time, it was the last two years of her life that were particularly hard on the family.  I wish I had been blogging then!  I don't mean to be flippant, but I find that blogging helps me think through problems and analyze exactly what is going on in my life (and in my mind!)

Because my DH and I were the closest geographically to my MIL, the task of dealing with doctors, health providers, facilities, law enforcement, etc., fell to us.  We are both firstborn, so you can imagine how well we documented everything!  With my secretarial background, Doug's business experience, and our shared tendency to overdo, we ended up with a huge box of files.  I had been reluctant to get rid of these papers thinking that I might try my hand at writing the story of our struggles with Mom and her illness.  I've played around with various ways to put this story into words, even drafting a chapter or two.  I would, however, inevitably walk away when it got too painful.

Yesterday, I decided the story was never going to be written.  It was time to let go of the pain and time to get rid of the papers.

I went through everything page by page one last time to make certain there was nothing of continued value to the family.  I set aside a few things that might have some future relevance as my father-in-law is still alive and active.  The rest is in the "shred" pile.

Surprisingly, the memories came flooding back - the early morning phone calls from my FIL, our frustration that he just didn't accept what was really happening, my acute and searing anger with a system that refused to let us place Mom in a safe and secure environment against her wishes.  How can a victim of Alzheimer's Disease make decisions in their own best interests?  It still amazes me three years later.

The papers are gone.  The anger is not.

Monday, July 5, 2010

My $500 Tote Bag

Well, here it is - the $500 tote bag!  How did I arrive at the $500 mark?
  • $110 - retreat fee
  • $125 - my share of the cabin rental
  • $80 - what I bought at the retreat
  • $100 - what I ate over four days
  • $20 - gas
  • $20 - what I bought at Schatz' Bakery on the way home (yummy breads)
  • $10 - two bottles of wine for Happy Hour
Okay, okay - that's only $465.  But doesn't the $500 tote bag sound better than the $465 tote bag?  Poetic license, I believe, is the term.  To be fair, it's actually only the $320 tote bag since my companions paid for my room and the gas to compensate me for using my car and for doing all the driving.  I think they were extra generous!

I'm pleased with the pinwheel blocks especially since it is a 5" block!  I didn't do as well with the sashing which starts out as a 1" strip.  Yikes!  With that narrow a strip, an accurate 1/4" seam is essential.  That lovely wooden button that I've been yearning to use now covers up the sashing which doesn't align perfectly.

I really do like the bag, and I am glad I went on the retreat.  Will I go next year?  That remains to be seen.  If I do go, I'll be better prepared for the experience.  I'll bring my own fabric and be much more relaxed.  I'll take more frequent walks around the lake.  And, I'll bring one more bottle of wine!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Happy 4th of July!

Okay .... I said I would post a picture of the tote bag, but I'm tabling that until tomorrow.  We spent the whole day at the Carlsbad house and I AM TIRED!

So, instead of a picture, I am wishing all of you a very Happy Independence Day!  Spend a minute or two today thinking about what our lives would be like if those brave men in the 1770s hadn't defied authority and set upon a course that they believed was right and just.  If you have never read the entire Declaration of Indendendence, I suggest you take the time to read it now.  Think about how these words have impacted your life.  Better yet, think about what your life would be like without these words.  Then read the names at the end of the document.  We owe much to these men.  Actually, we owe almost everything to them.

When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security. --Such has been the patient sufferance of these colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former systems of government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over these states. To prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his assent to laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his governors to pass laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of representation in the legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved representative houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the legislative powers, incapable of annihilation, have returned to the people at large for their exercise; the state remaining in the meantime exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavored to prevent the population of these states; for that purpose obstructing the laws for naturalization of foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migration hither, and raising the conditions of new appropriations of lands.

He has obstructed the administration of justice, by refusing his assent to laws for establishing judiciary powers.

He has made judges dependent on his will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of new offices, and sent hither swarms of officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, standing armies without the consent of our legislature.

He has affected to render the military independent of and superior to civil power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his assent to their acts of pretended legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by mock trial, from punishment for any murders which they should commit on the inhabitants of these states:

For cutting off our trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing taxes on us without our consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of trial by jury:

For transporting us beyond seas to be tried for pretended offenses:

For abolishing the free system of English laws in a neighboring province, establishing therein an
arbitrary government, and enlarging its boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule in these colonies:

For taking away our charters, abolishing our most valuable laws, and altering fundamentally the forms of our governments:

For suspending our own legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated government here, by declaring us out of his protection and waging war against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burned our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large armies of foreign mercenaries to complete the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of cruelty and perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow citizens taken captive on the high seas to bear arms against their country, to become the executioners of their friends and brethren, or to fall themselves by their hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavored to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian savages, whose known rule of warfare, is undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these oppressions we have petitioned for redress in the most humble terms: our repeated petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have we been wanting in attention to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, enemies in war, in peace friends.

We, therefore, the representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the name, and by the authority of the good people of these colonies, solemnly publish and declare, that these united colonies are, and of right ought to be free and independent states; that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the state of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as free and independent states, they have full power to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and to do all other acts and things which independent states may of right do. And for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.

New Hampshire: Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Matthew Thornton

Massachusetts: John Hancock, Samual Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry

Rhode Island: Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery

Connecticut: Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott

New York: William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris

New Jersey: Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark

Pennsylvania: Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross

Delaware: Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean

Maryland: Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrollton

Virginia: George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton

North Carolina: William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn

South Carolina: Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur Middleton

Georgia: Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton

Friday, July 2, 2010

Quilt Retreat - Day Two

Fortunately, I slept very well on the second night.  I think I just collapsed from fatique and frustration!  So I was in much better spirits on the second full morning of the quilting retreat.  Here's a picture of the gals that I went with:

That's Nancy, me, and Ann in the first picture - Nancy again and Lois in the second picture.  We should have asked someone to take a picture of all four of us.

The best part of the retreat was being with these great friends from the Oasis Quilt Guild.  We are at vastly different stages in our quilting adventure - me being the least experienced, least serious, and most stressed out about quilting!  It's difficult for four women who haven't been friends very long to get through four days of togetherness, two of which were spent in a car driving 350 miles!

Back to the retreat.  By the time I got to the community center on the second day, I had decided to relax, enjoy the experience, and not fret about what I did or did not get sewn.  I also decided to just focus on the $500 tote bag and forget about actually making a quilt top.  I cornered Cheri, one of the organizers and teachers, while she was taking a break from cutting fat quarters and just plopped down in front of her on the floor with my pen and pad in hand.  I told her that I wanted to make one of the blocks from her large quilt to use as the front pocket of the tote rather than the needle felted design that the tote project called for.  She patiently walked me through all the steps on how to make the block (a 5" spinning wheel pinwheel block).  I think she realized as I was writing down everything step by step and clarifying as we went along that this quilter needs lots of help and lots of instruction!

It took me the rest of the day, but I did get the blocks done, the pocket made, and the quilt almost completed!  I took lots of breaks to walk in the neighborhood, even perusing the used books at the local thrift store.  I also enjoyed talking to the quilter next to me, a local resident whose husband is a recently retired veterinarian.  Best of all was watching the grandmother and granddaughter work together at the table behind me.  Grandma brought her 11-year-old GD to her first quilt retreat!  The GD did marvelously both on her own and with Grandma's help.

We had the only row with all Featherweights!  Five little Featherweights all in a row.  From front to back, Lois' from around 1940, Nancy's from the 50s, Ann's then mine (both from 1938).  The last one nearest the window belonged to a fellow quilter from Mammoth Lakes.  She is the original owner - it was her first sewing machine that her parents bought her when she was 14!  I didn't ask her age, but my guess is that the machine dates from about 1958.  She's just recently gotten it out of the closet, had it cleaned and tuned up, and started sewing again. 

Tomorrow, I'll show you a picture of the tote bag.  I actually like it and plan to use it!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Okay, Marsha, take a deep breath and carry on

As usual, I slept fitfully the first night of our getaway.  Since I was on the futon in the living room, I doubt that I kept anyone awake with my tossing and turning.  We all awoke early, had coffee or tea, showered quickly, and set out on our quilting adventure.  We arrived at the community center about 8 a.m. assuming that coffee would be waiting for us prior to the designated start time of 8:30 a.m.  Not so.  Apparently in the quilt retreat world, 8:30 really does mean 8:30!!!

You could hardly find a more beautiful place to wander around for 30 minutes than Gull Lake.  We watched the early morning fishermen, listened to the gulls, and took a few pictures.  Once the door was opened to the community center, we were ready to go.

The food at the retreat was spectacular.  We were treated to continental breakfast on both mornings (even warm cinnamon rolls), and one of the dinners featured homemade bread and individual quiches.  Definitely one of the high points of our adventure.

So, on to quilting.  I wish I had a better picture of the project wall to share, but this is the best I can do.  The feature quilt the first day (unpictured) had a dozen or so individual small blocks including a pinwheel, a house, a basket, etc., etc.  I spent most of the morning trying to figure out what exactly was going on.  A second project featured 3 totes with needle felting embellishments.  Ah, ha!  A tote.  I can make a tote.  So, by midday, I had concluded that the only way I was going to mentally survive this marathon quilting session was to pick a simple project and go for it.  Hence, the $500 tote was born.

As others were busily cutting strips, buying dozens of fat quarters, forging ahead with their quilting projects, I sat quietly at "my space" reading and re-reading and re-reading the directions on how to make a simple tote from 2 1/2" strips.  By noon, I had figured out how many fat quarters I wanted to buy to make the tote something I would actually use (9).  Whew!  I had a goal!  I might actually sew something at this quilt retreat.  I happily looked through the dozens and dozens of fat quarters and chose my 9.  Not my perfect colors, but they would have to do.

Lunch break!  Yippee!  Off to downtown June Lake for a relaxing lunch.  Oops.  There are only 3 restaurants in June Lake.  One is closed for lunch; one is the place we had dinner last night - third one must be the place!

Slow service (only the owner working diligently to make sandwiches, make pizza, clean the place up, take orders, etc.), but great sub sandwiches.  Unfortunately, lunchtime was over and we headed back to the community center.

Do you sense my negativity?  I was really struggling this first day to find my place among these experienced, accomplished, RELAXED quilters.  I did manage to get my strips cut that afternoon and even had a fundamental idea of how to sew this project.  And, I began to sew ... wonder of wonders.  My little Featherweight is a joy.  This is the most that I have sewn on the Featherweight since buying it two years ago.  It is a beautiful piece of equipment.  I scored big time with this purchase.  Not once during the quilt retreat did I have any difficulty with the Featherweight.  Others were not so lucky.  I'm going to take very, very good care of her.

By the end of the afternoon, I could see that I might be able to complete the tote bag before going home.  A quick glance around the room (filled with 30+ quilters) showed me that others were headed towards finishing a half dozen projects.  Hmmmmm .... Happy Hour was a much better choice than continued frustration!