Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Molly Has a Boyfriend!

Molly and Magnum
Peeing on a tree

No pictures of Magnum available, this is a PG rated blog

Our dog Molly is a rescue dog, so there are huge questions about her past that we will never have answered. But this is our theory, agreed upon by others who know dogs. She probably did not spend enough time with her mother, since her sense of pack behavior is all messed up. For instance, she does her business way too close to family activity, namely right near the back porch and our lawn furniture. Most dogs have a respect for space that is learned from being around other dogs. She is brimming with confidence, but she always has to have something in her mouth: a tennis ball, a scrap of material, stolen socks or even an apple from the tree in a pinch.

She was found on the streets of Bakersfield with no collar, covered with ticks and pregnant with 9 puppies at barely a year old. We have a picture of her looking skinny, young and pathetic, tied with a rope to a trailer hitch by a Good Samaritan who called the SPCA. She had abrasions on her muzzle so had already been in some dog fights at that point. When we got her, she would turn into Exorcist Dog when she saw another dog, making scary guttural noises and just flip out. Our neighbor Carmen says it is like she is a victim of assault. I have witnessed her attacking another dog and it is scary. A dog fight is terrifying to see, and when it is your dog doing the attacking it is just horrible.

We also think it would have been great if she could have stayed with one of her puppies, for which we have been told she was a good dog mom. She was very young when she had them, but did great, except for the fact that she kept stealing their toys. She went nuts when she was separated from them and it took her a long time to settle down and stop looking for them. Even after all this, we love her to pieces and she just loves people. She is not food aggressive in any way, lays on her back to get her belly rubbed and looks like the most friendly dog ever. Her vet says the only hope is that she could meet a smaller dog, very obedient and non aggressive, a neutered male and that, with extreme caution, we would see what would happen.

Along came Magnum, the dog of our new neighbors. They have four young children, including a new baby. Magnum is like a dog from the old days. He sits on their lawn, no leash, obeys them instantly and is very friendly. He is a black lab-Weimereiner mix and is on the small size. The neighbors have a super relaxed style. They sit out at night on their porch, the kids ride bikes in the street and play in the yard, with Magnum overseeing it all like dogs used to.

We about fainted when Molly and Magnum started licking each other through the fence. And they said the two dogs played happily once when Molly was tied up in our front yard while Ernst mowed the back. We still didn't believe it. Last night, they brought Magnum over on his leash while Molly was tied up on her chain. Our first mistake! Molly loved it when Magnum (not neutered!) did some interesting things to her face, which I will keep PG, and she was perfectly happy to let that happen. But as soon as he went around to her business end, it was Exorcist Dog all over again, but this time they were wrapped up in the leashes. Of course worrying about their safety first, my very second thought was VET BILLS! Ernst lifted up Molly's back legs, which is what you are supposed to do, and it helped Magnum get away. No blood, no injuries, no vet bills. After all that, they just plopped down a few feet from each other, all forgiven, no growling, nothing but happy dog faces. I was a wreck. It is horrible to see our sweet Molly turn so aggressive.

After all that. our neighbor wants to have Molly over to play in their yard with Magnum! He thinks they would just work out their differences and eventually get along. It is either the stupidest idea in the world, or Molly's only chance for recovery. He is like our own dog whisperer and seems to know what he is doing. His dog is super happy and obedient and he says Molly is a great dog who just needs to learn how to play. Do they make chastity belts for dogs? I think it would be the only way she will feel comfortable. Either that or some doggie Valium. We'll both pop a few.

Getting ready for date night?

Monday, August 29, 2011

Hurricane Irene and My Mom Jeanne

When my mom moved back East 10 years ago, I never thought I would be worrying about her in a hurricane. After all, she moved to Connecticut, not Florida. The weather they get typically involves blizzards and Northeasters - hurricanes aren't a regular occurrence. With Irene, they experienced loads of rain, lots of trees fell in their town and friends' basements flooded. They are fine, but haven't had electricity for two days and don't know when they will get it back on.

Leave it to my mom to be so positive without electricity. She is sure the power guys are doing their best, as she put it. They also can't use their water because the well is on a pump. She actually laughed about the possibility of having to shower at her physical therapy gym or the library (did I hear right on that one?) which are opening up for people to take showers. They can only flush the toilet for serious business, from the water they have stored in the bathtub. According to my brother, our sister had to walk to the creek to fetch a pail of water. If you have to go to the creek to fetch water to flush your toilet, I guess it is then pronounced "crick." Again, no complaining from my mama, she is just her regular positive self.

It was the same growing up. While I heard about my friends' moms throwing plates and screaming, ours was just sweet and calm. She did throw something once, but it was sort of warranted. When I was six weeks old, the doctor had discovered a problem with my kidney that they thought could be cancer. I had surgery with a huge incision, to find that the ureter from my kidney to my bladder had a "kink" in it from birth. (These days it would be fixed with a simple laproscopic procedure.) But my mom was terribly stressed from the whole thing, and from what I have heard, I was not the best little patient. In front of some neighbors, my dad teased her about being so worried. Later, she threw the sugar bowl across the room, not at him, but that had to be something to witness. For my mom, that was huge! I got the "no throwing" habit from her, I once threw a pen in anger as a teen, and then realized how stupid it looked. That cured me. The only things that break in my house break on accident.

Another thing my mom never did was swear. The worst thing I ever heard her say: she called a guy who cut her off in traffic a "dumb-shoot." Strong words from her. The not swearing rubbed off too, I have only officially swore aloud once, when I was about fifteen, probably the same year I threw the pen. Some habits of my mom's that didn't wear off on me that I wish had: eating slowly and savoring her food, consistently neat handwriting and not being loud.

It was good to hear my mom's sweet voice this morning, being her typical good-natured self. Whenever someone mentions my mom, they always say how sweet she is. She is the epitome of the word. While growing up, we ate the same five casserole recipes over and over, never could find a matching sock and always had to run to the neighbors to borrow recipe ingredients and school supplies, But, I wouldn't trade her for anyone else's mom. I wish I was there to fetch the creek water, and help cook up the defrosting food. If they were smart, they would name the next one Hurricane Jeanne. It would most likely just turn into a calm and gentle breeze that would not hurt a soul.

With my Mom and my sister, the water fetcher

With two of her loud kids

Saturday, August 27, 2011

One Weird Dream

I assign no significance whatsoever to dreams. They have no meaning, that is the point.  If they had meaning, then I would be back in high school perpetually, would have all my teeth crumbled out of my mouth and would either have long, thick, shiny black hair or long gorgeous curly brown tresses, some of the more reoccurring themes. But they do serve the purpose of cleaning out the files in the mind. I find it interesting to wake up, remember last night's dream and try to figure out what events contributed to the craziness. I think last night's started with the beer I had at our neighbor's house and went downhill from there. Here is a synopsis, there are more details, but this is a blog, not a novel.

In my dream, I drove to the KH to meet up with the Romanians, but there were only English speakers, lots and lots, the parking lot was full of people from all times in my life. I ended up with my neighbor and her niece (who happens to share the name of a friend who's project I was working on last night, a personalized book cover). Again, in the dream, the little girl's mom had just had breast surgery, either adding or taking away, and couldn't hold her baby, so I was helping out. We drove around with my neighbor Carmen driving and me holding the baby, no car seats were available or even deemed necessary. (I visited and held Elliot that afternoon, plus have been thinking about our friends' babies in Germany.)

We drove up to a house and some Romanian speaking people came out. I could barely mumble Good Morning in Romanian, and even then I was mispronouncing it. Usually I can speak great Romanian in my dreams, or at least it seems that way. (I had three phone conversations that day with Moldovans who don't speak English, plus dropped off some clothes and had a conversation in Romanian about pear jam.) They invited us to sit at a long table, more people kept coming, the table got even longer, Carmen and the baby kept getting further away, and I still could only mispronounce Good Morning. It became apparent from some literature that was brought out that they wanted to talk about why there is human suffering, specifically why God allowed the Holocaust and acts of human genocide and ethnic cleansing. (Ernst was reading to me from a book about the Holocaust the other night.) I knew that Good Morning would not be enough, but my brain was paralyzed.

I had Carmen text Ernst to say I needed help: he came and she left with the baby. Right then, two American people drove up in bright red horse buggies, and the shift was off genocide and on to horses. The main hosts hopped on horses, they were now dressed in period clothes, like from a Jane Austen novel. Then the mood changed, it was evident something bad was about to happen. The host and hostess were racing their horses on cobblestone streets (never good) and of course, the husband's horse took a spill and he died. The husband, that is, I don't know what happened to the horse.

It became the next day, we were still at the long table with the now widowed hostess, and she was telling us about life in Romania. She was saying once they were all sick with some kind of dysentery, and in order not to hurt the soil, they would take their human waste and boil it in large kettles in the kitchen before they disposed of it. (I had a conversation that day with Myra about Elliot's bowel habits, but I had also just read a new book about composting and acceptable fertilizer, so who really knows?) In the dream, I thought, wow these people are so wonderful, they care about the earth so much they boil their own feces in order not to harm the soil.

A bit anticlimactically, that is how the dream ended. So what are the files of my mind mulling over? Neighbors, babies, Ernst being better with language, learning Romanian, the Holocaust, horses and compost. There will be more cleaning out of files of my mind tonight, but I promise that will be the only post about a dream I will share. Anymore would be a nightmare.

Friday, August 26, 2011

The Marina Quilt Sails Away

This is so silly of me, but some of my quilts are hard to see go off Etsy. They are quilts that were fun to make, didn't give me any hassles with obstinate corners, have a great theme and I love the name and description. The Marina quilt fits all those. I make these to sell, but I also love that they are for sale, like they are making the others look better.

To Do List: Slap Self! This is a business, not a dog pound. But I really must share the description I had for the Marina Quilt, it was my all-time favorite.

Marina, the Quilt with a Porpoise

RESERVED FOR PURCHASE Marina, the Quilt with a Porpoise
RESERVED FOR PURCHASE Marina, the Quilt with a Porpoise RESERVED FOR PURCHASE Marina, the Quilt with a Porpoise RESERVED FOR PURCHASE Marina, the Quilt with a Porpoise RESERVED FOR PURCHASE Marina, the Quilt with a Porpoise RESERVED FOR PURCHASE Marina, the Quilt with a Porpoise
Love fish but hate to cook? Are you trolling for a cute nautical themed quilt to add some punch to your decor? Here is your chance to hook a keeper. This rag quilt is full of whales, dolphins, seals, penguins and enough fish to start a school.

Anchored by two adorable "project fabrics;" one a cloth book for babies and the directions for making a stuffed mommy whale and her baby, this quilt is bubbling with personality. All my quilts are made with upcycled pieces and remnants from past projects, no bolts of fabric were harmed in the making of this one of a kind gem. Finishing out the fishy theme is some sweet blue calico, some cute beachy cotton and a bit of retro 90's floral.

Sandwiched with Warm and White batting and sewn with an X, this quilt has been snipped and washed to begin the ragging process. The more time this spends getting washed then dried, the happier it will be. The Marina quilt is not too shrimpy but not whale sized either, measuring 50" X 50" it makes a great bed topper or a lap blanket for sitting down and surfing the net. Buy it for the belugas,. Do it for the dolphins. Or just for the halibut!
So long Marina, happy sailing!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Marina, the Quilt With a Porpoise

And whales, seals, penguins and schools of fish. I had fun making this, and also making up the description on Etsy. The puns were just coming to me in waves.

My little thrift store down the street has a rack I have recently discovered. I pop in there often and go straight to the fabric section and buy their remnants. Recently I discovered in their craft section they have these unfinished "project fabrics". They are pieces of fabric with the pattern and instructions all printed together. You cut out the shapes and follow what it says to do. When I get them spread out on my cutting board, I do feel a bit of guilt cutting them into squares, for about 15 seconds. Then I cut away.

Wednesday I found two pieces, a project for making a stuffed whale and baby (whale) out of fabric, and a cloth baby book about sea animals. So with two other nautical prints, I made the Marina quilt. So cute, it is like a book within a quilt. I went to our neighbor's to photograph it on their bright yellow chair. That and the fact they have real grass, not just mowed weeds, made for some nice pics.

The Cute German Family Grows

Made in America, produced in Germany

Here are some new pictures of our rapidly expanding family of friends in Germany. When Dominika told me she was huge, I did not believe her, but now that I see the pictures...First they said it was a girl, now they say it is a boy, hmm, maybe it is both? No, just one big baby in a very little person.

Maybe they could name him Patterson?

Adam, Ella and Noah

"I'll speak three languages before Auntie Jessica learns Romanian!"

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Bloomin' Bluebells, the Flora Quilt Sold

When I placed the Flora Quilt on Etsy, I put a little higher price than normal, just to see what happened. We're not talking a lot here, just a bit more than usual. Etsy has a new way of placing items, attempting to make them more relevant category-wise, not relevant as to how many people have viewed the item. At least that is how I understand it. Maybe it is working, I just sold this to someone in Canada.

Now when I list a new item, I have more questions that need to be answered, such as:
Who made this? Some items are vintage and not handmade
When was it made? More vintage info
Who was it made for? There is a big list of holidays and specific people the item could be intended for
How can it be described? This is where it gets interesting, there is a long pull down menu of item descriptions, and some of them are quite interesting: steampunk, funky, urban, hip hop, shabby chic, mid-century, sci-fi, geeky, edgy-the list goes on and on. The only one Flora fit into was shabby chic, and then I got to make up my own category and I chose Romantic.

I go back and forth between getting mad at Etsy and loving Etsy, Right now I love Etsy. I have decided there are zillions of people in the world, and when they want to buy a handmade quilt, they either go to a craft fair or they go to Etsy. I don't have enough quilts to warrant doing a craft fair at this point, so Etsy is my place. And I can't complain that there is too much competition, I am part of that competition. I just have to keep making them, trying to get good photos with my little dorky camera, writing good descriptions that will pop and just let them be discovered. Fall is around the corner, the weather will be getting cooler, quilt season is just about here. Oh, and the biggie, I am still underemployed, That is the best motivator of all.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Noah's Ark Quilt Embarks to Germany

When I learned that our friend Ella in Germany named her little boy Noah, I knew I had to send her the quilt with the Noah's ark print, which I originally named Sasha for some reason. The Noah's Ark Quilt is a much better name, and I whipped out a few burp rags to go with it. I sewed them with minky fabric on the back, which is a total pain to sew with, but super soft and cute.

This quilt is for the new baby in a family that has come to be a part of our family. Although we are half a world away, we think of them a lot. They have had such an impact on our life, we can't imagine not knowing them. Yet the chance that we ever met them in the first place was very slim.

Back in 1998, we were at an International Convention in Nuremberg, Germany with Candace, Summer T and Linda K. The other languages were Hungarian, Polish and Czech, besides German. We had decided that instead of taking the tour bus to and from the convention, we would go by subway so we could arrive earlier and stay later in order to associate more. The last day we stayed a very long time, singing with the Hungarians on the soccer field. By the time we left, it was pretty cleared out. We were tired, dragging ourselves and our stuff the long walk back to the subway. There in the parking lot was a cute little family having a picnic from the trunk of their car.

They were (and still are) a Polish family who had moved to Germany for family obligations. They had two cute teenagers, Dominika and Ella who were 16 and 14, plus the mom and dad, Georg and Margereta. The girls had learned English in school, and Ernst could speak German with the parents. They were about to head off for a visit back to Poland. We took some pictures, exchanged addresses and said our goodbyes. I wrote them, they wrote back a few times, this was of course before email, these were good old fashioned letters and hard copy photographs. We promised on our next trip we would visit them. I wrote them a few years later, that we were coming again, and we arranged to stay with them a few days.

They live near Mainz, which is near Frankfurt. We drove down after seeing Ernst's family in northern Germany. We pulled up to their sort of cookie-cutter looking apartment building, and Ernst said, "OK, remind me again, how do we know these people? And how many days are we staying here?"  We knocked on their door and entered their apartment, but really we were walking into a friendship that would span years and miles and laughs and tears and unimaginable joy. We stepped over that threshold into a relationship that has enriched our lives.

Ella and Dominika

They treated us like kings, they took us everywhere, entertained us, cooked for us, bought us things and when we left actually insisted that we take money from them. They were insanely hospitable. We cried and hugged and promised to see them again. A few months later they called, and they were coming to visit us in California! Try as you might, you can't "out-hospitable" these people. They managed to spoil us even on our own turf! They arrived with an entire suitcase full of gifts for us, including crystal from Poland. We took them up to Tahoe, Napa, San Francisco and they went to LA and Santa Barbara. Everyone who met them still asks us about the Cute German Family. Since then, we have been to Germany twice more to see them, the girls have been to California twice and to New York and stayed with my family back East.

On our last trip to Germany, we had one of those weird, haven't we been here before moments. We were with them in Leipzig, Germany at the International convention. Again, we stayed a very long time, I was running around getting my umbrella signed. Our plan was to travel with them to Poland after the convention. So there we all were, some of the last ones in the parking lot and we were eating potato salad from the back of their car in an impromptu picnic. And it occurred to me, that is exactly how we met them, in a parking lot, eating out of the car trunk, packed up for a drive to Poland, all because we were the last to leave the convention. It was one of those Wow moments in life.

Three years ago we went to Dominika's wedding in New York when she married her wonderful Justin from Wallkill. By this time, my family knew theirs, and my mom's house was filled with pretty German/Polish girls out for the wedding. A mom and daughter we know from Tahoe came, there were people we had met in our travels in Germany; it was a most joyful, special wedding of two people who were beaming with love. It was their fervent dream to become missionaries, and with their knack for learning languages and incredible love for people, they would have been amazing. By this spring they were at Patterson, he was in the Service Department and they attended at the same hall as my family.

Sweet little Ella's wedding to Adam was last fall, it was the same time as our 10-10-10 party, and we were all disappointed to have to miss our respective big events. Ella and Adam immediately became pregnant with a very, very planned little addition, and their baby Noah was born a month ago. Six months ago Dominika and Justin had a very, Very, VERY unplanned little surprise come along too, who will be here in three months. They were shocked, floored, stunned and had to decide what to do, where to go, which country to have the baby in. They decided to move to Germany, although he is from the States. They are getting used to the whole idea, now that the initial shock has worn off. She says she is huge, which we imagine must look like an olive on a toothpick!

The three families all have apartments in the same building, the same one we have stayed in so many times now. We might to go to Europe again next summer, but ugh, that will be such a long wait. My dream job right now would be with the airlines, specifically an international carrier. I think I am too old to be a flight attendant, too tired to lift baggage, can't hear well enough to be in customer service. But I could drive around the carts. Clean toilets, that I can still do. I could be the person who takes away your toothpaste. Anything, I have to find a way to fly cheaper. Something will come up, it will be legal - legal is important. Too bad I can't make a Noah's Ark Quilt that floats.

I was having a day long mild vertigo episode, spent on their couch. They were all so sweet and kept me laughing. The kid in shorts is my Zack from Sac; we took him there on our last trip in 2006.
 Dominika playing in the KH band.

 Ella, Dominika and Kornelia in Leipzig
 In Poland doing invitation work for the upcoming International convention. Polish is a beautiful, soft language, but not easy to read like German. It would have been tough getting around without their help. As in Germany, they were the best hosts, spoiling us rotten.
 At a relative's house in the Polish countryside. People still have wells there, that they use for living, not just a decoration in their yards. I look like an idiot, but I was just tickled that I brought up a bucket of water from the ground, as if no one had ever done that before.
 Invitation work in Poland. It doesn't really show in the picture, but this was the most run down, sad place I have ever been in that actually had people living in it. I had Dominika go up the stairs first to see if they would hold her weight, then I ventured up. This four story apartment actually had no roof, it had fallen in, it was gone. We climbed up to the fourth floor, and there was the sky! People were still living here, no roof and all. I don't know if they were squatters. Once we were in there we thought maybe it was a drug or prostitute house, but there actually seemed to be nice families living there.
 Georg and Margareta, the Polish-German Hosts of Legendary Fame
 They gave "us" Speedos for our fifteenth wedding anniversary! Thank you, thanks so much! And yes, there is vodka involved with each visit.
Zack and the girls

 Ernst in his German gear for Dominika's wedding in 2008 in New York
 With Sarah from Germany
 Margareta and Dominika
 She had all the little girls wear white to the wedding, and they were all flower girls, every last one!
 Justin and Dominika, future missionaries?
 All the guests who came from Germany and Poland
 Sleeping Beauties at my mom's house.
These friends of the family (Kornelia, Kesja and Mirela) were a blast to hang around before and after the wedding. They all want us to come visit and meet their families in Germany, which is just too, too far away. As soon as they know the sex of the upcoming baby, I'll be on a new quilt in no time. If I could hand deliver it? Now that would be priceless.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

On Pins and Needles

Or rather, just on needles, acupuncture needles to be exact. I proctored for the equivalent of the acupuncture bar exam yesterday, 12 hours long. The test isn't that long, but the day is long for the proctors. This was my first time with this group, and there were some amazing differences.

There were three groups of people taking it, in English, Chinese and Korean. I was in the English group. My first reaction: Healthy looking people! We get used to seeing so many very unhealthy people now in any large group, it was amazing to see hundreds of mostly thin and fit bodies. The vast majority were normal or slightly underweight. It is sad that something like that stands out as odd these days.

Second observation: They were so mellow. Usually applicants for an important test come in very stressed and nervous, lots of hair twisting, pencil chewing and audible sighs. This group was relaxed. Before the test began, there were folks in the back doing Tai Chi or Yoga, I can't tell the difference There was one man laying on the ground, back on the floor, legs and feet propped up on the wall. I guess he was getting blood to his head. Another guy was tapping the top of his head, I assumed hitting pressure points for clearer thinking?

Third observation: They were very organic looking. Lots of yoga pants, flouncy skirts, many long and whispy scarves, comfy and quiet shoes and some dread locks. But I saw just one tattoo and very few piercings. Hmm, these people hope to make a career poking people with needles, and they have opted not to let others poke them with ink filled needles or cover their ears and lips with little metal poles. Maybe they are on to something? It was really refreshing to see young people not covered with body art.

I have only been to an acupuncturist for one condition, my Meniere's Disease. My mom paid for it at first, and then we did. He is a Japanese man very close to our house, and he specializes in the ear. I would leave there with little mini band aids behind my ears with poky pins and would wear them for a few days. When I would fly, I would see him before the flight and get the band aids. During the descent I would jam the poky pins into my skin, willing them to help with the pain. I don't really know if it ever helped, it was so hard to tell.

I got Meniere's Disease when I was 25, which is very young to get it. It came and went for years, seeming to have no pattern. When I first got it, it started with ringing and hearing loss and then a year later the vertigo started.

There are many misconceptions about vertigo, most people think it means fear of heights, from the Alfred Hitchock film by that name. It is not fear of heights; I love heights! But you know that weird feeling you get when you stand up too fast or you turn your head really fast, like you are super dizzy? OK, that is not vertigo either. If you ever talk to someone with vertigo, please don't say, Oh yeah, I get that when I stand up too fast. That would be like me telling a woman who has given birth that I know what it feels like because I have had bad cramps.

Vertigo is when your eyes, feet, head, balance and seemingly every cell in your body is sending your brain different signals. You don't know where the ground is, things are spinning, your eyes are darting uncontrollably, you fall, you vomit, you stagger and you think if this doesn't end I don't think I can live. It really is that bad. You can have a mild one, and that can be where you just have to turn your head really slowly and you can actually walk with some help, but when it is bad, it is like aliens have invaded.

People are wonderful, they really are and I have been helped by friends and strangers alike out of some really bad situations. But here are some things that a person with vertigo doesn't want to hear:

Do you need some water? Uh, no, I really just need a new inner ear.
You must be tired. So how come I get them out of a sound sleep and the bed feels like it is falling into a black hole?
You must be stressed. I am stressed because I am on the ground, but I don't think stress got me here.
Have you seen a doctor? Yes, many, many doctors.

For years, my vertigo consisted of, Oh man, I am having one, get me home, get me on the couch or somewhere flat before this hits. I could throw up violently, sometimes for hours, but I did have warning and could somewhat prepare. It would hit really bad for several months, and then go away for a few months, sometime a year or two. It was a puzzling case for my doctors.

Then five years ago we were on an extended vacation in Europe, and I was so sick with it. One whole day of our trip I spent on the couch of our friend's place, unable to even get to the bathroom without help. Then I got my first "Super Vertigo", while driving on the autobahn in Poland. WOW, scary, I screamed, the world flipped sideways and forward at the same time, Ernst grabbed the wheel and we made it to the side of the road. Needless to say, I didn't drive for a while after that. I got used to asking for rides, taking the bus and relying on people, which is really hard for me. That period was what my ENT called Menieres Burn Out, I called it the Death Throes. It went away with a bang, but it went away!  I am fortunately free of vertigo for a long time now, I can't remember exactly but I am sure it is well over a year.

Now that it is over, I look back and think how did I get through it? I would say I HATE this, why me?? and then a day or even a few hours later I would feel fine, be laughing with friends and having a great time. I tried to not let it define me, but really the worst part was the not knowing, not being able to plan around it. Here are some of the biggies I remember.

We were out walking the dog with the neighbor boy, Ernst and Kodie were ahead of us. Out of the blue, no warning, I was on the street, I fell flat out down to the right, I always fell to the right. The boy was really scared, he didn't know what happened and he called to Ernst, She is Down, She is Down. It sounded like I was a race horse with a broken leg, She is Down, we need to shoot her. Neighbors came running out, offering me water and asking if I have been to the doctor.

Once in Davis it happened and Alan D. had to drive me home and walk me in to the couch. I must have looked drunk to the neighbors. After he left, I knew I was going to barf, so I grabbed the closest thing, a Yankee candle and started crawling to the bathroom, throwing up in the Yankee candle the whole way. Vertigo can cause intense vomiting, lasting for hours and it is like the brain rather than the stomach is nauseated. When Ernst came home, I had made it to bed, and I said, There is a candle holder in the bathroom that needs to be tossed. To this day I cannot stand candles in glass jars.

I was at work once, using the handicapped stall, just sitting there like a girl does. All of a sudden as if I was hit by a hurricane, I was literally thrown off the seat, to the right, with a force that was scary strong. So there I was on the not very clean tile floor, on my hands and knees, which were stinging along with my pride, brought low by the force of my own inner ear. What did I say? It was one of the lowest points of my life, but one of the highest because even after that, the thing I yelled out was CRAP! Nothing worse, and for that I am very proud.

On that trip to Europe, we were at an International Convention in Germany. I was very down because my health was impacting the trip so much. On the stage in the English section, they interviewed a missionary from Africa. He had the same problem. He was saying how he was misdiagnosed, they thought he had brain cancer and the treatment almost killed him. I of course was crying, here I came all the way to Germany, and on the stage is someone who knows how I feel. I left a note for him in the contribution box, I always hope he somehow got it. I was really glad I went, even though I felt like staying home that day, and was regretting the idea of going to Europe for 6 weeks in the middle of feeling so ill. We ended up having a terrific time.

I have had them while driving a group of Chinese people to a talk in the Bay Area, an hour before having the CO for lunch (still did it, which was nuts, but when it's over it's over and the table was set and the food ready to go) getting ready for the convention in SF (always use the plastic bag to line your hotel ice bucket, that is all I will say about that) at work, at meetings, at Trader Joe's, during sleep, on someone's doorstep (can I get you some water?) and too many other places and times to remember. I never got one during a talk, or on the stage at the CA. or in the shower. Now that would have been bad.

My problem is in the snail-like part
What have I learned?
People are wonderful, they love to offer water, but hey, they must feel more helpless than I do.

There is no way in the world that the inner ear could have evolved. It is crazy complicated and it all has to work or it doesn't work at all. It is necessary for hearing, balance, and any kind of life or reproduction (sorry honey, not tonight, I don't know which way the ground is and I can't stop heaving). We have the inner ear because we came that way, and there is no scientist that can convince me otherwise.

Hearing is a precious thing, it needs to be protected like a fragile vase. Please don't blast your music and please wear ear protection. You don't want to lose one bit of your hearing.

I have a great family, husband and very loving friends who have helped me through a difficult illness, Thanks for the rides, the cards, the phone calls and the understanding. I am no longer a Dizzy Brunette! We should celebrate by going on a merry-go-round!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Flora Quilt

Here is the latest addition to my Etsy shop, the Flora quilt. Not named after anyone in particular, but the name fits.

I got most of this fabric at the local thrift store with the great fabric remnants. It looked like the blue with the pink and white flowers was from a home improvement project gone sad, cut out for something but never finished. It was great to work with and fringed like a pro. Much of the cotton that is made now has to be coaxed into fringing, not this stuff, it thought it was denim.

finding its purpose in life

The rest was from a garage sale, some leftover French themed fabric from my very first quilt and a great blue calico from my former co-worker. It was a joy to sew, no major hiccups and it sure looks nice in our guest room.
a quilt within a quilt

Friday, August 12, 2011

Naked Ladies in Our Yard!

As in the flowers. These flowers are called Naked Ladies. What kind of blog do you think this is?
The first time I heard the name of these flowers was from Norma J, the mother of my friends Sue, Candace and Alona. She said, "Oh look, Naked Ladies!" I thought she was being literal, and of course I had to look, and then learned they were a flower. They're called that because all that comes up is a big pink flower with no leaves. In the winter they are a large pretty clump of green when nothing else is green, then they die and leave a big clump of brown when nothing else is brown, and then these crazy pink flowers sneak up out of nowhere when the garden most needs it. I didn't plant these, the house came with Naked Ladies.

Although I always saw her clothed, Norma J was quite a lady herself. She was a character with a capital C. I met her in my late 20's in Davis, CA and continue to be friends with her offspring. There is a huge list of Norma stories, here are just a few.

Once she was pumping gas, and felt an interesting breezy sensation. She looked down, and there at her ankles was her pair of underwear. What is a lady to do? Well, she very casually kicked them to the side, looked around nonchalantly, and continued to pump her gas. The next customer would have to deal with putting the pieces together of that story.

One of the first things she ever said to me was a criticism of my shoes, but I don't hold it against her. I walked into her house, she took one look at the flat little ballet slipper shoes I had on and said, "Young lady, you need to get yourself some shoes with proper arch support!" Two foot surgeries later, I still hear her voice when I go shoe shopping, and I always look for shoes with "proper arch support." The lady was right.

At a wedding of some friends that Ernst was DJing, the bride and groom had very different tastes in dance music. She wanted to play oldies for her friends, he wanted to play more modern music for the young people. So the music kept getting switched back and forth as both of them went up to make requests. During one of the songs for the young people, Norma marched up and said "Ernst, are you smoking MARIJUANA? What kind of music is this?" She apologized profusely the next day, but we thought it was hilarious. We still use that expression between us, "Ernst, are you smoking MARIJUANA?" when he does something off-kilter.

Ernst dubbed her one of the founding members of the Davis Death on Wheels Club. Once she was visiting a woman in the community, I believe this was in the Napa area. She miscalculated her turn, rammed up onto this woman's yard and took out a small tree. What is a lady to do? Back up, drive away and never return!

Now that I am getting older and bolder, I find myself saying things to perfect strangers and thinking, Oh my, I am turning into Norma J! I was in Trader Joe's and my checker had those ghastly plugs in his earlobes that I could see through to the next checker. What Would Norma Do (WWND)?  I said, "Please tell me you aren't going to make them any bigger than that." He told me you have to have them that big to wear the cool stuff, but he promised me he would not go any bigger. When a Christian (?) youth group was blasting their music during the bar exam and tough looking teenagers were roaming the halls of the Sacramento Convention Center, I marched down Norma style and told the organizers setting up, "This is a Christian event? Wow, I would hate to see what the other groups are like!"

It might be a good idea for me to go and check that all my underwear elastic is nice and tight.

The Valentina Quilt Sold

I made this quilt from vintage chenille bedspreads that my neighbor gave me. There is so much of this stuff still out there, there are some hilariously loud and garish chenille blankets with peacocks and big bright flowers, straight out of the 1950's.

The patterns on this sweet little baby quilt are mild in comparison. I love the look of it, but this was hard to work with, plus I had the great idea to tie it with cotton fringe pieces from another upcycled bedspread. Turned out cute, but my poor fingers.

This was its description on Etsy:

Valentina, the Chenille Chic Wonder Quilt

Valentina, the Chenille Chic Wonder Quilt RESERVED FOR TIGERWAVES
Valentina, the Chenille Chic Wonder Quilt RESERVED FOR TIGERWAVES Valentina, the Chenille Chic Wonder Quilt RESERVED FOR TIGERWAVES Valentina, the Chenille Chic Wonder Quilt RESERVED FOR TIGERWAVES Valentina, the Chenille Chic Wonder Quilt RESERVED FOR TIGERWAVES Valentina, the Chenille Chic Wonder Quilt RESERVED FOR TIGERWAVES
Freshly laundered just for you, here is a vintage chenille tied quilt with yummy ice cream sherbet colors - pinks, greens, and soft oranges. The back is from a Ralph Lauren fabric, stripes in all the same yummy soft colors.

This quilt is all vintage, even down to the ties, which are from the fringe of another vintage chenille blanket. Plus the backing is re-purposed fabric. This is an earth friendly, feel good quilt. OK, the inside is new White and Warm batting. And if you want to get technical, the thread is new. So it is old on the outside, new on the inside. Like Joan Rivers, but in reverse!

Did I really write that? Apparently I did.

The Valentina quilt will be going to Africa! That part is really exciting for me. Because it was difficult to sew with, this may be my first and last all chenille blanket. Some quilts are harder to send off than others, this is one of my all time faves. But business is business, time to get sewing. Friday night, the fluff will fly!