Friday, May 20, 2016

A Year Or A Day

Resting is a LOT of work. It's going to be a long month and possibly longer. Maybe with lots of practice, I'll get better at it. For most of the weekend, I knit. On Monday, I read and rested. On Tuesday, a friend was here for the day and we talked, knit, sewed, and went for lunch. On Wednesday and Thursday, I worked in the studio and I have a finished dress to show - YES YES.

The procedure on my hip went well. Trying to work with the tension bandages did not. I am way too curvy for stretchy things to stay put. The bandage either rolled up, rolled down, came apart, or fell off so I eventually switched to shaper pantyhose, cut the feet off, and wore those... for the first six days... at which point I gave up because by then the swelling was back and my right thigh was already two inches bigger than my left.

When the radiologist looked at the ultrasound, he said, I know what you have - trochanteric bursa - which is the technical term for hip bursitis. Apparently right where my hip hit the stair nose is exactly where the bursa sack is. He says I've definitely injured it and possibly burst it and treatment ranges from cortisone shots to orthopedic surgery depending.

The confusing part for me was that the trochanteric bursa is on the side of the hip but not where the actual hip joint is. It's separated by tissue and bone. Who knew. I kept saying it's not on my hip plus a key point of diagnosis is that it's too sore to sleep on. Apparently, I have a high pain threshold because that's my favourite side.

The activities to avoid are the activities I've been doing in order to heal the hematoma only that turned out not to be the whole problem. It sounds like it was hematoma plus bursitis so... I'm still resting... avoiding hills... avoiding stairs... and playing in the studio while I wait to see the surgeon and discover what is next.

Joyce, my neighbour across the street, is ninety. She shares a house with her daughter who is in her early sixties. Living together makes it possible for both of them to have a house and they seem to do quite well. Joyce enjoys her garden, flowers, walks and puttering in the yard. She also likes baking. I received a basket of biscuits warm out of the oven that I immediately added butter and honey to and enjoyed thoroughly.

I've been taken very good care of with calls, emails, and visits from friends and family. THANK YOU so much for all the well wishes after last Friday's post and for the understanding around Chloe. Now when I think of her, I think of her happy with Shirley and it's great.

The dress is Vogue 9112, which they describe as an asymmetrical, seam-detail dress. Marcy calls it the Cirque dress.  This garment either took a year or a day depending on your perspective. I cut it out in May 2015 to take to the Design Outside the Lines Retreat  and then didn't work on it until yesterday when I sewed it from start to finish. It's a very simple and fun design.

The fabric I used is an ancient piece from the stash - a black eyelet with two scalloped edges. I cut the collar with the scallop along the top edge and then cut off the rest to use someday. Apparently, someday was now. That's not usually how it goes.

Here's what the collar looked like. The straight edge is where the finished edge would be. A length of scallop was cut extending from each edge and then turned and stitched in place with a narrow zigzag. The excess fabric underneath is trimmed away.

I made a video to show what I mean. If you have any feedback on how I can make these videos even better, I'd appreciate hearing it. They're fun to make and hopefully helpful.

AND... this is what the collar looks like on the dress. It's very soft but the tucks give it body and help it stand and hold a shape. This fabric was in stash forever and ever and ever because I just couldn't think of what to make it with it and then I saw this pattern made up in white eyelet. I can't remember where or if that fabric had a scalloped edge but I'm really glad to have finally used my fabric with this pattern.

Typically when I cut off a selvage, it ends up in stash waiting for an opportunity. After I'd sewn on the collar, I was looking for a way to finish the armholes and auditioning different binding options when the thought occurred to use the scallop on the armhole... and then on the hem... which took virtually all there was... and turned out perfect. How fun!

Although I cut the dress out in a larger size, I was able to adjust the side seams to fit. Above are my two dress forms. My upper body now fits the one on the left. My lower body is probably somewhere in between. Counting calories and watching what I'm eating has been a bit harder this last couple weeks but moving to the smaller dress form is certainly encouraging.

I knit a capelet for a friend who is going through a rough time. I'm hoping to take it to her today... if it's dry from blocking. It's a red merino wool/silk combination yarn and has three repeats of the lace pattern around the lower edge but otherwise it's the same as the teal one I made in December. Quick, easy, attractive and a warm hug because my friend is always cold.

An eyelet dress needs an under-dress. I want to work on that today and - hopefully - wear the dress on Saturday night to a "welcome home" party for a friend. If the weather is nice, that is. Right now, it's threatening rain which is bad for sleeveless dresses and excellent for studio time.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - possible hip solutions, a finished dress

Friday, May 13, 2016

The Miracle Meeting

This afternoon is the procedure on my hip. Afterward, my right leg will be wrapped with a tension bandage from the hip joint to the knee joint, night and day for a - tense - LOL - month. I absolutely intend to behave and give myself every opportunity to heal and hopefully I won't have to go through this again. Inside, the house is ready. Outside, I didn't finish the to do list. Oh well. What's done, is done and the rest will have to wait.

One project I did finish was to replace the numbers on the front of the house. Originally, they were attached to the post in the carport and were showing their age. I didn't want them on the post and it would have been hard to attach them to the rock front so I used a black primer and some bronze paint to refinish a pegboard and then spray painted the numbers silver, screwed them in place, and covered the whole thing with an exterior clear coat. I still need to figure out how to hang the plaque but at least our house can now be identified.

I had wanted to sand the surface of the porch, refinish it with an espresso colored stain, and add a railing far right. No sanding. No staining. No railing. But... there are three planters, two of which act as a barrier at the "dangerous" end while all three add pretty to the exterior.

This year's goal for the yard was to pretty up the front and the right side. Along the side, I removed the massive piles of rocks and tarps and created raised garden beds for vegetables. Down by the tree, there are strawberries. In the other sections, I planted carrots, beets, cucumber, zucchini, and butternut squash.

I also planted two sweet tomato plants and one tomato plant where the fruit is blueberry sized. The small pepper plant is cayenne and there are two bell pepper plants in the front garden.

Along with the bell peppers, I added mixed lettuce, radishes, and green onions to the flower beds in the front since there was more room there than along the side. It's very common here to have vegetable gardens in the front yard or mixed in with the flowers. The begonia was a gift from my youngest son and looks wonderful at the edge of the porch. I plan - eventually - to build the porch skirt from recycled wood pallets. One of the women in my Monday night knitting group loves woodwork so I'm hoping she might want to help me.

I have a few knitting projects lined up for the next month. Right now, I'm working on a purple throw for the couch. I started laughing the other night when I realized that my yarn, my pajama pants, and the throw pillows were all the same shade of purple. Apparently, I'm in a purple phase.

In early February, I made a very difficult decision that I didn't talk about on the blog because I was much too fragile for any negative feedback. When my daughter originally asked me if I'd take Miss Chloe, I didn't particularly want a dog but in order to make things easier for my daughter and since I had the help of my husband and sons, it was doable. With the move... and the fall... and living mostly alone... having her was more difficult. Not only did I feel like a single parent but I felt like a horrible single parent because she desperately needed some obedience training and her behavior was becoming a major issue only I didn't have the time, money, or energy to give her what she needed. Instead, I chose to find her a new home.

Because I was new to the area, Jessica and I discussed the best options and decided to go with the SPCA. They have a fabulous matching system. When I interviewed them prior to taking Chloe in, they assured me they'd find a good home for her in no time at all and described exactly the situation I knew she needed. I found out later that there were eight parties trying to adopt her within a day.

The day I was to take her, I spoiled her rotten. We went for a long walk and I let her play in all the mud puddles and she got to eat all the chicken treats and have peanut butter twice and we spent a lot of time cuddling. I think she knew. She'd been very cuddly the week before and when we got into the car to drive to the SPCA she was almost eager and excited as opposed to anxious. I was thankful.

As I carried her into the building, I burst into tears. It was SO difficult. The reception room was full when I went in and suddenly it was empty and the woman who remained to help us was incredibly kind. She said they had a kennel ready for Chloe and would I like to take her to the kennel or have them do it. I said I wanted to. They asked if I wanted to take her first or do the paperwork first. I said the paperwork. They asked if I wanted Chloe to stay with me or if they could take her to another room. I wanted her to stay. There I am crying and trying to fill out blurry forms with wet drops and Chloe is exploring the room and coming back with kisses to tell me what she's found. She was so cute and precious and not at all anxious The staff loved her right away.

When I told them the car was full of her things, they went and got them and then set up her pillow, blanket, and toys in the kennel they'd prepared along with a new set they provided. I walked her to the kennel, snuggled her, gave her a kiss, threw her peanut butter treat into the back so she'd be distracted, and then walked away... bawling. Thank God she didn't start barking or crying. I couldn't have handled it.

I had asked to be notified of when she was placed and what her new home was like and within a few days I heard that she was doing well and now living with a retired single woman. That general description is so similar to mine that I felt guilty for not being able to cope but I also knew it was the best thing for her and me at this time. The woman at the SPCA had said I know it doesn't feel like it right now, but it will be okay. Yes. It would be.

Right after Chloe moved, I went to visit my daughter for eleven days which made the transition somewhat easier but in April I missed her so much. When I thought about my choice, all the reasoning I'd debated previously was still valid and I'd still made the best decision but it was hard. I prayed that I'd see her and know that she was happy and healthy.

Tuesday was a very strange day. Even after resting all day Monday, I was exhausted and went back to bed in the morning. And then I was super talkative at Starbucks during my journal time and it took longer than usual. And then I sized all the pictures from the weekend. And wrote the blog. And went out to the garden to work only I didn't seem to have the energy for a day of throwing rocks especially when I peeled back one of the tarps to expose even more rocks. So. Done. With. Rocks.

I decided to come in and have a cold drink and then go to the garden center. I'd just bought a new magazine on upcycling and I read through that... which took more time... and then just as I was about to walk out the door my phone rang and it was a friend who said I'd been so much on her mind that she just had to phone. We talked for about 45 minutes meaning I went to the garden center much later than I'd expected.

As I drove in, there was a parking spot immediately and then a lot of congestion and more parking spots on the opposite side. I opted to drive around the congestion because I wanted some gravel and I didn't want the young man to have to carry it too far. I parked, got out, turned around, and there in the car in front of me was a fluffy white puppy. If she'd been going crazy, I'd have known right away it was Chloe but she was so calm and well-behaved that I was mostly sure with a small bit of doubt.

At first I tried to walk away but then I had to know so I waited until a woman came out of the store and walked in that direction. I asked if this was her car and she said yes and then I asked what her dog's name was and she said Chloe... which made me cry... and then I asked could I hold her explaining that she used to be my dog. What a wonderful woman. She - Shirley - said of course, hurried and unlocked her car and passed Chloe to me. I held her for about twenty minutes while we talked.

Shirley wanted to know the story and was so understanding when I explained the combination of the stress of my husband's illness, the move, the fall, the feeling of single parenting and so on. When I said I'd felt guilty that our general descriptions were the same, she told me her age which is almost twenty years older than mine and said that at this point in her life she now has time for training a dog but that when she was my age she couldn't have handled it either. It made me feel a lot better.

I learned that Chloe has since been trained to go off leash, to come when she's called, to heel when out walking, to sit when a car passes by, to stop barking at everything she sees, and to be somewhat less anxious although she's still having trouble with separation anxiety which is typical for her breed.
All of these were things I knew Chloe needed and I also knew I didn't have what it took to provide them.

I am SO GLAD that she is happy, healthy, and enjoying life with Shirley. Seeing her was not only an answer to prayer but such a miracle meeting. On my part, if I hadn't gone inside, I wouldn't have answered the phone and if I hadn't answered the phone, I wouldn't have been delayed going to the garden center. On Shirley's part, she lives in a community twenty minutes away, rarely comes to the garden center, and had been twice that day. SUCH a gift.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - answers to prayer, understanding

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Why I Missed Friday's Posting

My daughter and her family arrived on Wednesday the 4th and left early the following Monday. The 4th is my son-in-law's birthday and we got a chance to spoil him which is always wonderful. Howard had holidays so he was here as well and our two boys came out for Mother's Day and I had my whole family with me. What a wonderful treat that was.

There are eight of us with the adults and the two grand-babies. Daimon is three and Keith is eight months. I'm quite confident my son-in-law is not always sure what to do with me but he's an excellent sport in putting up with my eccentricities. I did warn him when he was dating Jessica that if he didn't like me, he should perhaps run. He didn't. He makes her laugh and that's fabulous. I'm looking forward to seeing how they age together.

We had the boys to ourselves one night while their parents escaped for some alone time to celebrate their ninth anniversary. They - the boys - were very well behaved... of course.

When I was a little girl and we would visit my Dad's family, we'd sometimes walk the mile into town to go to the general store and buy soda pop and jaw breakers so it was especially fun for me to take my oldest grandson to the candy store and let him buy something with his own money.

While he was here, Keith started sitting up. It's nice to share one of those first. With Daimon, he rolled over for the first time at Grandma and Grandpa's house.

The pond in our back yard was quite fascinating. Grandpa and Daimon are having lunch while watching the ducks and the turtles. We also spent a lot of time looking at the baby flowers (buds) and watering them.

Howard had a particularly difficult weekend with his health which makes pictures like these even more special. Daimon is making wrapping paper for Jessica's Mother's Day present.

There are a lot of men in my life. At left, all the boys. At right, the uncles and the grand-babies. And below, me and my babies.  I have wonderful children. I'm very proud of them and delighted that we have a good relationship. For me, that's ultra important.

Monday, I literally spent on the couch re-energizing. Today is my throw the rest of the rocks day so I'm about to head outside and work on the final garden bed. Howard suggested that I mow the lawn instead but I told him the lawn would bug him and not me and he would therefore find a way to get it done if I didn't... however... the rocks would bug me and I'd have to look at them for the next month or longer so I needed to get them done before my leg appointment on Friday. I have a list for the week that includes throwing the rocks, grocery shopping, cleaning house, and starting some knitting projects for the sit still period. It'll work. I am determined to be good and get this leg thing over with.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - family... and 11.4 pounds lost

P.S... I'm wearing Katherine's Vogue 8691 top and Marcy's Vogue 9060 skirt

Friday, April 29, 2016

Creative Puttering

It may not be everyone's thing but I love when something I've read or heard leads to a progression of thought. That happened earlier this week. I was sharing with a friend about how I'd lined up the bits & pieces of potential boxes and planned to work through them and she responded by saying you love to putter like that.

Since I'm super excited about what I'm going to learn by working my way through those boxes, my thoughts were more along the line of tickle trunk, sandbox, playground, magic kingdom, or some other mysteriously-full-of-the-unknown kind of phrase. Putter is not what came to mind which made me wonder what does putter really mean.


... to
 busy or occupy oneself in a leisurely, casual, or ineffective manner as in to putter in the garden.

... to move or go in a specified manner with ineffective action or little energy or purpose as in to putter about the house on a rainy day.

to move or go slowly or aimlessly as in to loiter.

... puttering or ineffective action as in dawdling.

putter away, to spend or fill in a random, inconsequential, or unproductive way; fritter away; waste as in we puttered the morning away.

I did that - sort of - on Tuesday when I went to a friend's house and we spent the day painting canvas bags in her studio except that our day wasn't ineffective, with little energy or purpose, aimless, inconsequential, or unproductive. It was a fabulously fun, simple, leisurely, casual, slow play time - friend time - definitely not a waste - which made me wonder what adjective changes puttering from mostly-not-so-good to mostly-good. Perhaps creative which means... cause to come into being, as something unique that would not naturally evolve or that is not made by ordinary processes

to evolve from one's own thought or imagination, as a work of art or an invention.

... to cause to happen; bring about; arrange, as by intention or design

That would make creative puttering a slow process of bringing into being something that is unique and imaginative. And that bringing into being would be full of purpose and energy - and possibility - like creatively puttering in my bits & pieces of potential boxes. I'm okay with that. My mind is...

... bubbling with ideas only I've been finishing up some other things first like the quilts for the guest room. Above, I'd reached the point where the remainder of the first quilt fit into the throat of the machine. YES YES - a positive thing... and then I finished it... and now I'm on the second one... which is also a positive thing, only different. 

And I've been working in the garden. Not puttering. It's more like hard labour digging up turf, moving rocks, building garden beds, and planting. Puttering might apply to pulling the odd unresistant weed but definitely not to 6 1/2 hours of digging, lifting, bending, throwing, dumping, pulling, pushing, hoeing, raking, planting, covering, watering... and so on.

It took four hours just to clear the rocks from the left edge of the gravel path above to the right edge past the hose where you see more rocks and to build the two walls. Then I filled in the walk with six bags of pea gravel and dumped and raked 24 thirty-liter bags of dirt into the garden.


Creative puttering.

Once I get rid of all the rocks along this side of the house, the plan is to create a five foot wide vegetable garden with more raised garden beds formed with rocks. I have lots of rocks. Millions of rocks. More rocks than any body should have and most of them in the wrong place.

When I bought the house last fall, the front porch had diagonal corners with stairs coming down at each end which were IMHO rather ugly to say nothing of the fact that the stairs on the carport end walked straight into a post. In the picture below with the ladder, you can see the piles of bricks that I removed from the space above that is now a curved garden. I planted the tree and some perennial plants and the rest will eventually get filled in.

The previous owner left behind two wooden ladders. Above is the shorter one, now a trellis. I sprayed it with a clear top coat to protect the wood and then wrapped it with string so the Trumpet Vine can climb up. It'll have pink flowers. And look much better once the carport is cleaned up.

Originally, I wanted to build the raised garden beds using wood so I invited my oldest son to come and help me tomorrow. He doesn't know yet that the task has changed. If he doesn't mind doing rocks, we'll work on the side of the house but if he'd rather do wood, the garden center up the road has a huge stack of pallets to give away and I want to use them for the skirt on the porch.

I had wanted the pallet wood for a walkway like the one above that I saw on Pinterest only it uses the wider boards and there aren't very many in a pallet and the walkway I want is quite long wrapping around the front gardens and the side of the house. Since that would be a LOT of pallets, I may need another plan... like a rock crusher ! ! ! Because I have rocks. Millions of rocks. More rocks than a body should have and most of them in the wrong place.

Speaking of bodies... I saw the surgeon yesterday and she was quite intrigued with my hip. The hematoma has shifted up and over and there is a softer pocket of liquefied blood as well as harder painful areas. The plan is to have it drained when I go for an ultrasound in a couple weeks and then immediately wrap it with a tensor bandage and keep that on day and night for a month to see if the tension will prevent the pocket from refilling and allow the tissue to knit together.  We may need to repeat that action but she would rather try that route first than surgery... which means...

... I need to be done the yard before then so I rest my hip and give it every chance to do its thing. Hmm... I may need to sew with my left foot.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - one finished quilt, progress in the yard, creative puttering

Friday, April 22, 2016

Play Through The Boxes

The weather has been unseasonably hot. We've had blue skies for over a week and it's been 17 degrees Celsius at 8:30 in the morning. I wore a sleeveless sun dress one day, sat outside to journal several mornings at Starbucks, and ate breakfast and lunch at the table on the back patio. So weird for April. Wonderful though.

This chest cold is a real "winner". I only started feeling somewhat normal on Tuesday. Last weekend, I was lying on the couch feeling like all kinds of miserable rolled together when the clutter started getting on my nerves. Tidying up led to the decision to move a cabinet from the living room where it held yarn to the kitchen where it could hold dishes, which meant moving the yarn somewhere else, and that had a domino effect that somehow led to spring cleaning the entire house... including the studio. Perhaps not the wisest choice for an "invalid" but it did distract me from feeling miserable.

One of the books I'm working through in my journal time is Rice Freeman-Zachery's Living the Creative Life which is a compilation of answers from fifteen successful artist on questions like where do your ideas come from, how did you get started, and what are your tricks for overcoming blocks? It's an excellent book. I've read it several times and get something different out of it each time.

One of the assignments is around providing a rich, creative childhood for yourself now. It suggested to gather together whatever catches your eye and then to start with whichever one looks the most enticing and play with it. That's the important word: play. Don't work, don't set goals, don't give yourself exercises. Just play.

Two things make that just the perfect assignment for this spring and summer. The first happened one morning about two weeks ago when I woke up with that wiggly, jiggly, YES YES feeling in my stomach and thought today is the day - to start being healthier, losing weight, and toning up in a flavourful, maintainable way. I researched losing weight over fifty and it recommended no more than 1,200 calories. I've counted many things before but not calories and WHAT an eye opener that has been. I had no idea about some of my favourite foods. I'm glad I picked that option and - if 1,200 calories aren't enough - can add a bit when my stomach growls.

I already had this recipe book from Weight Watchers with information about their point system as well as calorie counts. It's been really helpful especially as the meals are quick and easy. It must be the right time in my life for this "get healthy" decision because so far I'm finding it quite doable. I decided to weigh myself once a week but mostly to go by the fit of my clothes since I'm also doing a lot of yard work and getting out to walk... which builds muscle... which weighs more. AND...

... the second reason this is the perfect assignment is the bits & pieces of potential boxes. They are in the "whatever catches your eye" category. Normally when I clean my studio and review these boxes, I assess whether the contents still have potential and if so, fold everything neatly back into the box and continue storing it. Only I've been doing that for years. This time... since I've been encouraged to play... and I won't be sewing fitted clothing any time soon, I've decided to play through the boxes. They're sorted by woven fabrics in the two at the front, then knit fabrics, than jewelry bits, painted bits, and quilted pieces. There is a LOT of potential.

I'm about 3/4 of the way through stitching the first quilt for the guest room. It's tedious work that was messing up my dining room so I moved it back downstairs with the second machine at a separate table facing the window and the boxes of potential. While I'm stitching, I can thinking about turning that robe into cosmetic bags and combining those painted pieces with the beads from that necklace to make a purse. I have more than enough ideas bubbling to get started and I'm excited to see how I grow creatively while working through the piles. I imagine some of the pieces will end up back in the boxes but a lot - hopefully - will get moved forward and this is good.

Have you ever noticed that your creativity has grown? One thing I've really noticed since moving here is that I'm taking more time to come to a decision and oftentimes I'll circle around to the next or the next right answer. I'm also seeing potential where I might not have seen it before. The previous owner left two very old wooden ladders, both with at least one rung that is duct taped together. I leaned the smaller one against the post in the carport to use as a trellis for a trumpet vine and will use the taller one on the side of the house when I plan a vegetable garden. And I'm working on a way to display my house numbers with a piece of garden fencing. We'll see how that goes but it's fun to be creative in a different way.

Thanks for all the suggestions for the frumpy dress. In the end, I took out the sleeves and threw away the rest because the fabric just wasn't worth investing so much time and energy into when the other pieces were labour intensive. I'd rather take them forward differently. Above, I made two woven sections of serger strips for the sleeves and below...

... I made a 6" x 42" section of thread lace using the 1/8" strips cut off by the serger and some soluble stabilizer. The thread lace has a much heavier look than I anticipated and looks fabulous as a collar which may take the garment in a totally new direction.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - my oldest grandson turned three this past week. He's healthy, happy, and one of my favourite people.