Looking for answers to life's questions

Posts tagged ‘projects’

Seeing

It’s been too long but I see the light! Winter is a favorite time of year…usually. This year was long, dark and exceedingly wet. I’ve plodded along trying to summon up the energy to do things. My friend and fellow blogger at incahootswithmuddyboots.com came by to cheer me with signs of spring from her yard.

First signs of spring from my friend

The struggle with my vision has really slowed things down. I finally wised up and went back to the optometrist. My glasses that are eight months old were not working and I was scared. “Well no wonder” he says. “You’ve lost a whole diopter of vision since this last prescription.” Now I have no idea what a diopter really is even after my son explained it to me. “What caused it” I asked? He seemed to think it was because of excessive dry eye. That eye doesn’t blink as well as the other and leaks tears since the onset of Bells Palsy 7 years ago. Why am I losing so much vision now?

I bought 5 of these for my sewing group as a Christmas gift. This is mine finally finished.

The back is pink, not my favorite color but it’s cheerful.

It’s possible the C-pap machine that blows wind in my face all night might be drying out the eye if I’m not keeping it well closed in my sleep. I didn’t think that could be the answer so I made another appointment with an ophthalmologist and she verified that the eye was indeed quite healthy and quite dry.

So onto finding solutions. I put in a gel at night for better lubrication and have an eye mask to cover the eyes. My son’s ex-wife saw something online that she thought would help and I checked it out. This morning on my trip to town for lunch with friends, I stopped at the sleep study center and asked if they had it or could they get it for me. In 15 minutes, they saved me the more than $100 and handed one over after a fitting. I practically danced out of the office. No more wind in my face all night. Granted, it’s not terribly attractive but I’m hoping it fills the bill.

The wind is at the top of the head with this one.

So the second pair of glasses that were made a few weeks ago works quite well for distances but I can’t read the computer with them. Back to the old pair when I’m on the laptop. The optometrist will try to come up with another prescription that works better for both. It’s frustrating but there’s still so much I want to do, read and write. Vision seems essential to those desires.

I’ve been working on this forever it seems. Now comes the quilt around it.

In the meantime, the clutter has continued to be cleared. All of the industrial shelving from my son’s storage unit were sold and are gone from the yard. I am continuing to pare down but have found it’s a good idea to go through the boxes carefully before donation. I found a whole bundle of embroidery patterns that I bought almost 10 years ago for over $60. Everything else in the box went, the patterns are now being lined up to work.

I’ve managed to get a few other things done.

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So how are you seeing this time of year? Signs of spring or signs of autumn becoming more clear? Are you starting to perk up or wind down?

From my heart to yours,
Marlene Herself

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Creative Endeavors

There are lessons to be learned about oneself even in the autumn of one’s life. I’m hoping it’s the autumn and not the winter so I have lots of time left for discovery. I’ve discovered I’m a procrastinator, big time.

As I set out to complete my daily tasks, I find that procrastination can be a perpetual companion and a teacher. It tells me there is fear somewhere in the task or maybe something even as strong as dislike.

I’ve had a lot of projects on the back burner lately. As all of the outside projects came to completion, I could finally focus on the inside projects. I realized that when I would rather mop the floor, do the dishes, laundry, vacuuming or make the bed rather than sit at the sewing machine, something was going on.

The workhorse

The workhorse

It started with my newest Viking Diamond Royale sewing machine behaving badly with almost every project. We’ve had many trips back to Montavilla’s where it was purchased and it always seems to work for the doctor. It must be something I’m doing they say. I have an old Viking SE that threads and operates the same but will sew circles around the new one. The new one has a larger embroidery field that I have not yet been able to enjoy. The whole unit is packed away. I don’t need more frustration.

An expensive doorstop. The embroidery unit is not connect here.

An expensive doorstop. The embroidery unit is not connect here.

My old machine works well, my eyes, eh. They could be better so when working on precision quilts, I have a hard time getting them exact. I’m thinking it’s time to let that go. I’ve done the squares required for the quilt group and am turning my attention to more fun things to make. It has to be fun or why bother.

Making a shirt for someone is very much like making a quilt. It has to fit just right. So it goes to the top of the procrastination list. Gifts for birthdays and Christmas are moving to the top of the to-do list and can’t even look at the procrastination list. Ten weeks, people, ten weeks is all I have left.

In the meantime, I found a fun project. Microwave bowl cozies. If you still use a microwave and the bowl is too hot to pull out, then set it in the cozy first, heat and just leave it there to keep your food warm while you eat. You don’t burn your fingers that way. My son thought they were great. I had to make some a bit more masculine looking. They are made of 100% cotton so they don’t melt or catch fire in the microwave. Also handy with a freezing dish of ice cream or frozen fruit. Your hands don’t freeze holding the bowl. I started with fabric that I was going to pass on and worked my way up to fabrics that were chosen by the recipients.

I found some kits for making pillowcases in fun fabrics. U-tube has some wonderful instructions and shortcuts. I’m also a sucker for cute prints and panels. I have one for Halloween on the table waiting for borders, backing and binding to be cut and attached. They should be easy but quilting on the machine is not something I’ve mastered yet. I’ll keep at it though. I still have puckers.

So as you can see, I’ve done a little with my down time and need to do so much more. The procrastination list needs to be shredded and everything moved to the do right now list. I have company coming in two weeks and then only eight weeks to get it all finished and mailed or wrapped. Sorry for the reminder. I don’t shop for the holidays, I craft for them.

What’s on your procrastination list? Are any of them creative endeavors?

From my heart to yours,
Marlene Herself

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A Case of the Snizzles

I had some down time today. Since my birthday I was feeling rather odd and worn, so after all the well-wishing had been completed, I put myself to bed early as I rarely feel under the weather. Why now? I guess getting older required a bit more contemplative time than doing time. I was ready. So I took a box of tissue and several (dozen) large hardy paper towels to my bed and read, sneezed and sleep. I think it’s a great way to spend the Labor Day weekend.

My son had just left with the car loaded inside and out with tools he needed for the work he’s doing in Arizona. Before leaving this time, he completed a few more little projects here. We thought the pump had gone out on the fountain he had just wired up. Turned out the outlet was bad and needed to be replaced. He put up two more rods in the front bedrooms because I had acquired some free curtains from my daughter.

He also helped me put the completed china cabinet back together. I was racing to get it done before he arrived just for that reason. We also retrieved my boxes of tea cups from storage so they could finally be home again. I have wanted to redo this piece of furniture since my sister decided it wasn’t a piece she wanted. Our parents bought it for their first home in 1966 and only our dad really liked the style. But good furniture is hard to find. Solid wood is now rare. I’ve never been a fan of painting wood but this piece was so heavy-looking that I just felt like lightning it up. I have a lot of white in my home now as my vision needs things that reflect light rather than diminish it.

I also seriously underestimated the amount of work this would take. The back had to come off to get to the inside. It took a while to get it off alone without toppling the cabinet off the cutting table that was on wheels. I also found out that I could not clear the back door frame, so it had to be painted in the kitchen. The bottom part of the cabinet I put on a towel and pulled it outside. Only needing to lift over the threshold. Later, I will show you the other projects that have been completed but this one deserves its own post. Some liked the end result, some didn’t. I’m quite happy with it and until I’m not, it shall remain as is.

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Note the bright red hardware my daughter thought would be a nice choice in the dining room. Good Feng Shui says that since it’s in the fame area of my home, pops of red are recommended. I want to be known for my hospitality. You are always welcome to tea.

Some rearranging still needs to be done but they are back where they belong.

Some rearranging still needs to be done but they are back where they belong.

You can cast your vote either way. I’m always open to new ideas. Please share your thoughts as well as projects you’ve been working on.

From my heart to yours,
Marlene Herself

Summer Vacation?

August is just beginning and I’ve let two months go by without a post. I wasn’t sure I had another one in me. I think it’s because I’ve had so much going on that I didn’t have the brain energy to do more than journal about it at night. If I didn’t, I couldn’t remember what all I had done that day. I’m supposed to be retired and I guess that’s true, I’m re-tired. Over and over again. Tired when I get up, and beat when I fall into bed. It’s summer vacation time, right? I think I’ll declare today a vacation day.

So far my son, with my second pair of hands holding and fetching, completed the replacing of the old deck adding a second set of stairs. Stairs are not easy.

I painted three sides of my house and all the trim. He did the really high spots. He built two gates, I painted or stained them.

He used up some of the old wood from the old deck to build planter boxes.

I painted, with several coats the driveway divider between my place and my neighbors. It makes the driveway area much lighter. I planted the boxes to try my hand at gardening. Then there was the cleanup work of stuffing leftover lumber under the deck out of sight and putting up the skirting I painted.

two coats of sealer and two of outdoor paint barely covered this awful wood. For neighbors privacy

two coats of sealer and two of outdoor paint barely covered this awful wood. For neighbors privacy

We were shooting for a June first completion date with the expectation of this year’s inspection on the property. As life or luck would have it, we now have new property managers and so far, there has been no word of inspections…yet. We were also hurrying to get everything done including inside projects as my son was leaving to go help someone else out-of-state. He put up new outside light fixtures and curtain rods so I could get the curtains made later ( you’ll see those next time), then cleaned out his room on the off-chance of guests.

A little more girly now.

A little more girly now.

We have been moving stuff all spring and summer. I’m ready for a day or two at the beach. Instead, I pressure washed the deck, patio, and driveway.

 

cleaned driveway, deck and back patio.

cleaned driveway, deck and back patio.

 

If they want to inspect, I’m ready. Maybe now I can think straight enough to get some pictures together to go with this rambling. This isn’t all I did this summer. The rest will come shortly, I promise. The brain is starting to work again.

Have you had anything that looks like a summer vacation? I can live vicariously. Please share.

 

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

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Up to No Good

Up to no good. That’s the answer I usually give when someone asks me what I’m up to these days. Ask my daughter the same question and she will give the flip answer, “5’7”.  She’s kind of a smart a**. How do you answer a question like that quickly?  I can’t.

I’ve been almost busy and mostly lazy. Catching up on reading blogs, or more accurately, trying to, but they come in a lot faster than I can read and comment.

The work on the house had slowed for a while. In between rainstorms, my son built a side yard gate. I held pieces and parts while he put it together, then I stained it. Holding pieces and parts is important work.

I wanted it to look like it's always been there

I wanted it to look like it’s always been there

We started painting the house again. My son did the high stuff on the roof line. I took the rest. It’s slow work with a paintbrush. I finally got a small roller so I can move a bit faster on the rest but the cold rain slowed us down.

Everyone should have a kid on the roof. Take a look underneath.

Everyone should have a kid on the roof. Take a look underneath.

Not before we tried our hand at using the paint sprayer for the underside of the back porch roof. Talk about a messy job. We tented the whole area and he wore a respirator so as not to breathe in over-spray. Days later, he says he could still smell the paint. It’s the only way to paint large areas over your head. More progress soon.

I have pulled lots of weeds and will get to them again soon. The entire upper hill was covered in them but I managed to clear enough to plant 3 lilac bushes. Planted a few daisies and more ground cover including some a generous neighbor gave me. She was clearing something out of her perfect yard that is called Snow on the Mountain and it’s supposed to be a good ground cover as well. Some of my hyacinth bulbs are coming up in spite of the fact I may have planted them too late.

I’d be outside working or working on a sewing project but it all has to wait a bit longer. I had cataract surgery on Thursday in hopes of correcting the blurriness in the only eye that’s useful. So far so good. It will take a bit of time to heal but I should be able to resume my work in a couple of days so I’m watching the weather for the perfect temp to paint and weed. Meanwhile, quilting and writing are on the back burner, simmering, smoldering, ready to ignite. Since my glasses aren’t working now, a new pair will be ordered in about 6 weeks when the healing is complete Good thing I can make the print big so I can at least keep working here.

 

So what are you up too? I hope it’s something interesting and fun or at least tall.

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

That Spring Forward

Is it a spring and does it really go forward? Last Saturday evening, I turned the time on my watch forward an hour. It’s just one measly hour for goodness sake. I saw no spring anywhere. Not in the darn cold, wet weather, not in my body the next morning crawling out of bed at 5 a.m. which was actually 6 a.m. My son had a plane to catch so we had to move fast, like it or not.

I had just come home from a busy week in Phoenix. Trust me, I could find no forward spring here. Just one behind after another.


I took enough pictures while I was in Phoenix to make at least two posts. Too many for one, certainly. The first place I was taken after getting my luggage and joining my friend was my favorite independent bookstore.

 

Tempe/Mesa best bookstore ever

Tempe/Mesa best bookstore ever

Looking for books and other good stuff

Looking for books and other good stuff

Changing Hands bookstore is a new and used bookstore with a little bit of everything. Next door with no wall between the two businesses was the Wildflower Bread Company. In the early years of living in the Arizona Mountains, coming to Phoenix took almost four hours on winding mountain roads. You made those trips count. Along with a major grocery shopping, I checked into a cheap motel for four nights and spent three days in the bookstore going to workshops on writing, and meeting authors for book signings. Dan Millman and Allison DuBois were there that week. Ms. DuBois had dinner at a restaurant in our small town during ski season so I was delighted to hear her speak and have them both sign my books. I’m nerdy that way. I ate 3 meals a day at the Wildfire Bread Company, it was that good and not at all expensive.

Wildfire Bread Company. Yummm!

Wildfire Bread Company. Yummm!

This trip to Phoenix was to see the friend who insisted I learn to quilt and join her mountain quilt group. She has been doing it for more years than I know and in spite of her major osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, she just keeps cranking those works of art out.

Beginning of another fabric bowl.

Beginning of another fabric bowl.

My first visit back to the area was to check on this sweet friend who just turned her life upside down. It’s her story to tell so let me just say that after 56 years of marriage at the age of 74, she had to make major changes to save her own life. I needed to see firsthand how she really was doing. She always has a smile and a brave face.

Always a smile for everyone

Always a smile for everyone

The body often tells a different story. I trust the words of the body more than the words of the mouth. She was exhausted. I wanted to inspire, help in some way and not drain her more. We took care of some business that she needed to attend to and I walked with her and Charlie twice each day. Charlie keeps her moving in this difficult time. He’s a hugger. Literally! He puts his head on your shoulder and front paws on either side.


We went to three different quilt stores just to see what might move us or what we could learn. She had just downsized as I had in my many moves over the last 6 years. Fortunately, there is always something around to inspire and delight. Her work alone did that for me.

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Once I left and she had a little time, her sewing room was properly organized in her new rented condo to start creating beautiful treasures again, keeping her mind in a happy place. Making art in any form is good for the soul. She said she has a new spring in her step now. I need that spring! Where the heck is it?

Arizona style condo

Arizona style condo

Are you springing forward or still lagging behind? Or are you lucky enough not to be victim of the obnoxious daylight saving time? Arizona is one lucky state.

From my heart to yours,
Marlene Herself

That sense of Accomplishment

Procrastination is an art form born of fear. I tend to put things off knowing that somehow everything will be harder than it appears in the directions. Every report card I had in grade school had a small notation at the side saying “Marlene does not follow directions well.” I just never read them through properly resulting in my own unique version of the completed assignment. Sound familiar? I’ll bet it does. Most of us are not direction junkies or follow written directions as a last resort. And I can tell you from a great deal of experience, most directions are not well written to start with so why bother with them only to be totally confused.

christmas braid done 2016

Christmas braid bought 7 years ago. Finally, finally finished. Not perfect but done.

christmas braid back

Happened to have the perfect match to back it and bind it. Lucky me.

Sewing is about following directions. It never goes well for me. Especially if the directions “ASSUME” I understand what they want me to do. I had a friend bring a “pattern for dummies” to me on making a shopping cart cover for her grandchild. We read the directions a dozen times each and I finally just said, “screw the directions” and showed her how to put it together. I think I’ve spent more time taking apart things than putting them together or had one square going one way and the next one a different direction.

MG done

After a year and a half, it’s completed with borders, binding and quilting

MG done Back

I even learned how to put a sleeve at the top for hanging. Had to do it twice to get it right.

But in the end, something winds up completed. There is always a learning curve for me as most things I tackle are brand new to my scope of experience. I’ve made many shirts. Every pattern puts them together in a different way. Quilts are like that too. Getting one to completion is a big deal. Machine embroidery is probably easier for me. I enjoy it because there are fewer directions to follow. I have a very simple brain and pleads with me not to keep pushing so hard but I’m relentless in my pursuit of knowledge. Who needs a crossword or box puzzle when I have quilts and sewing patterns? There is also a deep seated desire to be creative and make pretty things. It drives me beyond my limits daily.

MG tshirt

My quilt group is called Material Girls so I made this to wear to the retreat and to meetings.

MG shirt center

Some thread color choices worked better than others. It’s a learning process

The very best part is that I have something tangible when I’m done. I can see it, touch it, wear it, cover up under it or gift it which is my favorite part. Even putting up a post on my  blog gives me that sense of accomplishment. I can see where my hours and hours went. I can listen to a book while I do some of these creative activities or even with handwork, watch something on television and not feel like I’ve totally wasted my hours.

The quilt I started on retreat is going to be ready to go in the mail before I leave to visit the friend in Phoenix who started me on the long road of quilting. I have not hugged this sweet lady in almost 6 years. I think the art of quilting has saved the sanity of us both.

 

almost done sams

Just finishing the binding then mail for Sam’s 75th birthday. Son’s former father-in-law and good friend

back of sams

Fleece backing for the man who loves wolves.

With the built in friendships we make of any quilter either real or virtual, we can get through anything life hands us. Many bloggers fall into this same category. They reach out a hand to one another across the internet and lift each other with encouraging words, even sometimes a bit more as is the case here. I received this book yesterday from my friend, at Living in Denim.

farmers wife book big

There is a CD inside to help create new and interesting quilts. A thoughtful gift from Lois whose friendship I cherish.

 

The perfect ending to a perfect day spent with blogging friend Sabine who lives close by. It just doesn’t get any better. Life is just all good.

What gives you that sense of accomplishment or is it even important to you?

From my heart to yours,
Marlene Herself