Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Retirement Quilt Story

My boss announced in June he was going to retire at the end of March 2010. It left me plenty of time to plan and piece a signature quilt for him. Then, upper management in its stupidity starting downsizing and it affected our area. My boss protested and did his best to keep all of us on staff, but his argument fell on deaf and stupid ears. Given that and the change in business environment, he struggled.

I thought it best to get the quilt done early -just in case - and finished it when I was home after surgery.

Then he was diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer. His chemo starts after the new year, but he stated he was going to work until today.

For some reason, I brought the quilt into the office yesterday. The weather forecast for his hometown was nasty, so he decided at 11:45 am to leave at noon yesterday and probably not return today. I dashed out to the car, grabbed the quilt, corralled all my co-workers and cornered the boss in his office.

He protested. He didn't want any send-off, luncheon, gifts, etc. - nothing. But the minute he opened the quilt his eyes filled with tears when he saw all the signatures and well wishes.

Later, he phoned a co-worker to discuss a case. She told me he was still shocked by the gift and very pleased to have it.

So ends the story of the retirement quilt that was finished five months ahead of schedule and delivered a day early just because I had a hunch.

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

2010 Goals and Resolution Attempts

In the interest of becoming more efficient in 2010, here is a list of the quilting and non-quilting goals for the coming new year:


1. Finish Jackson's baby quilt by February 1.
2. Finish P.J.'s wedding quilt by October 1.
3. Buy as little fabric as possible with the exception of backing and borders.
4. Use it, then put it away in its proper place. Let me explain: I'm really, really bad about pulling a fabric out of the storage container and then just tossing it on the shelf unit so many times that the shelves look like a mountain of fabric.
5. After purchasing Judy Martin's log cabin book - no more book or quilt magazine purchases. I have literally hundreds of patterns already. No need for any more!
6. Only one project out at a time. Picture this - a table runner on the cutting mat, two flimsies draped on the frame and a lap quilt on the sewing table. Messy!
7. Get both the Pfaff and Juki serviced in the summer.
8. Learn new techniques/systems as opportunities present themselves.
9. Finish a flimsy every month.


1. Get at least 30 minutes of physical activity in each day. Wii fit, walking, etc - just do it!
2. Cut down on sweets - The holidays have wreaked havoc on my eating habits.
3. Keep in contact more often with family and friends.
4. Pray more, love more and enjoy more!
5. Don't take it all so seriously.

NOTE: The above-mentioned items are meant as guidelines. Author is not legally responsible for completion or non-completion of any item. Any attempt at copying these goals is in direct violation of Smudge's rules and regulations and will be dealt with severely/swiftly.



Monday, December 28, 2009

Temptations Galore!

I am a fabric junkie. After taking Bonnie Hunter's class in August, there's admittedly a degree of guilt about it too. Try as best I can to avoid huge stash acquisitions, it's not easy with shops in the area promoting big discounts.

One of my favorite quilt shops started their annual sale yesterday with loads of fabric discounted, kill the bolt specials and hourly drawings. Of course, I went a bit overboard - bought fabric that I have NO idea what I'll end up using it for. But, how can any quilter ignore 50 percent off fabric?

Now, today I found out the quilt shop closest to my office is having an inventory reduction sale - all their fabric is reduced 20 to 60 percent! What's keeping me from sneaking out for a few minutes at lunch time?

I am trying to justify all this - I did a big clean up/pick up in the sewing room yesterday so I have a better handle on what is available in my stash. A trip to Target may be in order for a flat plastic storage container. My novelty fabrics and pink fabrics are feeling neglected since all the other fabrics have nice homes. Always said the fabric had to "speak" to me!

Out of all the quilts I gave as Christmas gifts, I was the most anxious about the one I made for my daughter to give to her grandmother. Yesterday, I received an e-mail from the grandmother thanking me for the gift and was very complimentary about my quilting. You could have knocked me over with a feather! This is from the woman who will toss hand-made gifts into the trash.

My mom's quilt was a hit as well. She wants me to put a hanging sleeve on the back so they can display it on the wall.

Haven't heard from Tattoo Boy's girlfriend regarding her pink and black quilt, but I haven't seen her for a few days.

On to new projects in 2010- a baby quilt due in February and a wedding quilt for November. Beyond that - no concrete plans in the sewing room, but I'm sure given my recent fabric acquisitions there won't be a shortage of cloth or ideas.


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Past, Present and Future

Now that I think about it 2009 was a good year for me with my quilting. Here's a short list of my activities:

-Attended the St. Jude's Retreat in Palestine, Ohio for the second straight year. Plenty of PEEPS at the 2009 version. What will 2010 bring?
-Traveled to Columbus for the NQA show - The quilts were an inspiration and the vendors were a drain on my checking account (LOL)
-Visited quilt shows in Lebanon, South Lebanon and Sharonville
-Improved my binding skills dramatically.
-Became more proficient in putting quilts on the frame
-Accompanied Jill to the quilt show in Indianapolis to share in her joy of winning a ribbon!
-Participated in my first quilting workshop in Indianapolis hosted by Bonnie Hunter. Shared the trip and room with Linda of Piwacket fame and had a lovely time
-As a result of the above-mentioned workshop, I'm more in-tune with using what I have and saving scraps. (Those scraps cost $8 a yard too, per Bonnie.)

So, what initially seemed to be a ho-hum year was pretty fantastic filled with quilting, excellent friends both on-line and in person. I'm finishing the last of the sewing-related gifts and feeling oh so good about my small piece of the world three days before Christmas.

I'm happy.

Michael's lung disease is definitely progressing, but he's here now and I'm enjoying the time I have left with him. Still no definitive word from Social Security about his claim - it's in the hands of the English system now. I've provided for my small family as best as I can. Sure, it would be nice to have more money saved. But we have presents for under the tree, plenty of food and the bills are current. Loads of folks can't say that.

My children continue to bring happiness into the house with their talents, friends and schoolwork. Tattoo Boy may look weird, but he has the artistic talent which will take him as far as his imagination will allow. Andrea may discover her future lies in teaching or counseling. She has such a wonderful caring attitude about everything.

As I unpack the Christmas decorations every year, I wonder what will my life be like when they're unpacked again next year. Like Scrooge, I find the Ghost of Christmas future the most frightening one of all. But old Ebeneezer and I have both discovered that as long as you have faith, family and friends things will turn out just fine and even better than before!

I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and the best of all things possible in 2010!


Thursday, December 17, 2009

Completed Projects

Finally getting around to posting a few photos of my finished projects This one is the signature/retirement quilt for my boss. We decided to give this to him the week after Christmas, before he starts his chemo. We figured he'd like to have it then since we're not sure when or if he will be able to return to work for his official retirement.

Pink and black are the favorite colors of my son's girlfriend, so it was easy to get the above quilt
The quilt on the left is one that I had in my flimsy stash. Andrea selected it for her grandparents for Christmas and I finished it a few days ago.

The above quilt is the one which used a panel/cheater cloth and a Moda jelly roll. It's on its way to my mother for Christmas.

The striped quilt below is one I made for myself. I'm still working on the binding.

Used a jelly roll from Connecting Threads for the quilt above. It took my a while to quilt this one since the machine acted up mid quilting and I had a LOT to rip out.
Well, there you have it. I'll post more later. Gotta run to work.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Ahead Of The Game

Despite the weekend just zooming by, I think I got a tremendous amount of work done in the sewing room. Here's what happened:

-loaded a lap quilt onto the frame, quilted it, attached the binding and am about 1/3 done with the hand sewing
-attached the binding to a Christmas quilt I'm keeping for myself
-got a large tote almost done from start to finish - just need to hand sew the edge and attach the handles
-quilted four place mats and attached the binding

Doesn't seem like much now, does it? There are only a few more things on the to-do list and most of them can be knocked out in one evening. Thus, leaving me more time to work on other things - shopping, baking, decorating, wrapping gifts, etc.

Speaking of shopping, I was doing just that on Saturday night after I dropped Andrea off at a party. Since Michael chose not to accompany me, I got a LOT done and am proud to say I am DONE with Christmas shopping........

....well, not quite.....Tattoo Boy's art box was stolen during one of his final exams last week. He's absolutely down about it, but I told him not to worry. I asked him to give me a list of the items in the box. Then, I e-mailed the list to family members who usually buy him gifts for Christmas and his birthday, which is two weeks after Christmas. We'll get him a few things from the list and perhaps a new metal box to store them all in.

Andrea and I watched the Susan Boyle special on television last night. I cannot listen to that woman sing without tearing up - not sure if it's the story behind her fame or the fact that she can sing like an angel that gets me all emotional. They gave her the encased award for her album selling over 3 million copies and Susan broke down in tears. Despite all the triumphs she's had I don't think she'll ever be jaded by her success. She just strikes me as being too down to earth for that. Plus, she's a cat woman and that's A-OK in my book!


Friday, December 11, 2009

Two Weeks To Christmas

Seems hard to believe there are only two more weeks until Christmas and the year is rapidly coming to an end. Where did the time go?

Well, last night it was spent in the sewing room. I finished the quilting on the Christmas quilt I want to keep for myself. Pleased with the end result and I hope to get the binding sewn on tonight.

Immediately after dinner, Andrea and I are going to Joann's to pick up a few things. I need some backing material for the quilt she and Tattoo Boy want to give to their grandparents. Andrea wants to find some yarn, felt, pipe cleaners to make crocheted chickens for her friends. Odd looking thing, but that's what she wants to do and she's not letting her lack of crochet skills get in the way; she's enlisted dear old mom to help her with the task.

For you quilters out there who use labels on your quilt backs: Do you sew them on or use some type of two-sided adhesive? I have these small personalized labels that say "Quilted With Love by Cathy Howe". I've sewn them on in the past, but the needle kind of shreds the material these labels are made of. Any suggestions would be valued......

The goals for this weekend:

-get the grandparents' quilt quilted and binding attached
-sew two pillowcases
-come close to finishing the quilted tote for my sister-in-law

If I accomplish those items by 8 pm on Sunday, I will be very, very pleased. I have no problem hiding in my sewing room, but my family must definitely has other things in mind.

During a meeting with our boss yesterday, he announced that he will be out of the office beginning the first of January and will not return until the last of February due to the radiation treatment he needs. He's supposed to get a scan next Wednesday and depending on the results of that test, more aggressive treatment(s) could be necessary. He is dealing with the diagnosis much better now - although he still struggles with discussing it. Keep him in your thoughts and prayers.


Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Time Management

When I returned to work last week, I talked myself into not hitting the "Snooze" button on my alarm any more. What I'm finding is that it's giving me an extra 15 minutes each morning before I have to leave the house. What better way is there to use the time than to sew? I did one pass on the quilting frame this morning and it felt great knowing I got that much done and the machine's set up for the next pass immediately after supper tonight. The trick is to not get too involved in something that I lose track of time and end up being late for work.

Two of the three Christmas wall hangings are now happily installed in our family room and look great. Michael's supposed to hang the third one this afternoon.

My boss returned to work today after being out most of last week. He's still reeling from the cancer diagnosis. He seems stunned, more so than anybody I've ever known who has been given dreaded news like that. He's supposed to retire in March, but somehow I don't think he'll be physically able to make it to then.


Monday, December 7, 2009

Still Shaking

We had our first snowfall of the season this morning in southwestern Ohio - naturally it happened during morning rush hour. I managed fine until I reached the industrial park area near my office when the car hit ice and spun me around in the opposite direction. Thank the Lord there wasn't another car close on the left side! I managed to gather my wits, drive into a parking lot near by and just sit for a few minutes. By that time, I wasn't the only one spinning and sliding, so traffic came to a crawl. Bravely, I pulled into the road again at a pace less than a crawl - my momma didn't raise no dummy. Made it to the office OK. Phew!

My company cannot get remote work sites up and running fast enough.

Before all that happened, my sole topic was going to be productivity since I did have a great weekend in the sewing room. Here's what I accomplished:

-finished the binding on mom's quilt
-quilted, bound and attached a hanging sleeve to "I Believe" wall quilt
-attached hanging sleeves to two other wall hangings
-created 15 lined wine bottle holders

Andrea was fretting about not having much money and needing to buy gifts for half of the known world - yes I'm stretching the truth here. I offered to quilt one of the flimsies I have for her grandparents, so she picked out one. Thank goodness she chose a lap quilt! So one more thing gets slapped on the list. I'd start on it tonight, but there's already another quilt loaded on the frame. Wish me luck that I have BOTH pieces quilted by the end of the week. Good goal to shoot for!

Sewing wasn't everything this weekend. I put a HUGE dent in my Christmas shopping list with a trip to Penney's, Radio Shack, Barnes and Noble, and Harbor Freight. I went by myself, so I zoomed through the stores. We ordered Amazon gift certificates for family members in England. Thanks to all that, I'm almost done with the store-bought stuff.

Listened to the Cincinnati Bearcats' football game whilst sewing on Saturday. It's a good thing that I didn't watch it on telly or I wouldn't have achieved a single stitch. It was the BEST college football game I've ever listened to. UC was down by 21 at halftime and came back to win it at the last minute. My heart will always be with the Ohio State Buckeyes, but I'm quickly learning to love UC - it is my son's school after all!

The staff at my church truly outdid themselves with the Christmas decorating this year. The entire church is so beautiful, it brought me to tears. Yesterday was also the Sunday for the congregation to bring presents for our adopted families. The stage was filled with hundreds of presents. It was a sight to remember.


Thursday, December 3, 2009

She's Making A List.......

OK, in my on-going efforts to keep organized and get everything done prior to Christmas, here is what I need to accomplish prior to December 24:

-Finish the binding on my mom's quilt (half-way done now) Mail by 12/15
-Finish the binding on a wall hanging for my office (1/3 done)
-Quilt and bind a large wall hanging for above our fireplace
-Quilt and bind two Christmas quilts (one's on the frame now - the other hanging on the door in my sewing room)
-Sew two pillowcases for Andrea's friends
-Piece and quilt a tote bag for my sister-in-law's gift
-Sew three hanging sleeves and attach on wall hangings already quilted
-Sew five wine bags for my administrative assistants at the office
-Sew a pet bed for Smudge and Daisy

Anybody taking bets on whether I get these things done or not? I have the materials for all the above - just a matter of doing it!

I've been printing off the instructions for Carolina Christmas from Bonnie Hunter's Quiltville site and would love to work on that, but there is no way I can get all the above done AND work on a scrappy quilt. Perhaps for next year......

Ah, next year.... need to get a baby quilt done by early February for a friend's new grandson and a wedding quilt for Michael's granddaughter. Never a lack of projects.

What on earth did I do with my time before I took up quilting?


Monday, November 30, 2009

I'm So Bad!

My sincere apologies for not posting for over a month. I've recovered quite nicely from my hysterectomy and am back to work as of this morning. Seems very strange to be at the office. Everyone else is returning from a break of four days, so it's VERY quiet here.

Until 10 days ago, I really didn't feel like getting into a "sewing" frame of mind. But once that bug hit me, I spent a lot of time in the sewing room, provided my energy level kept up. So, here's what I've done lately:

-finished the binding on my boss' retirement/signature quilt
-finished the quilting and binding on a scrap quilt
-quilted and bound two Christmas wall hangings
-cut, pieced, quilted and bound a bright pink and black quilt for my son's girlfriend for Christmas
-cut, pieced, quilted and bound a quilt for my mother and her husband for Christmas
-cut and pieced a "Christmas Is" wall hanging
-quilted and bound Andrea's black and white quilt

Couple of notes regarding some of the above: The black and white quilt was the one I started at the St. Jude's s retreat in the spring. Also, the quilt for my mom is based on the "cheater" panel I showed to some gals at the same retreat - It had quotes from the Bible on it and I wanted suggestions on what to do with it. Well pleased with how it turned out.

I will post photos of all these items as soon as I can get my photographer (aka Michael) motivated to help out.

Speaking of Michael, he's doing as well as can be expected. He's using oxygen more and more as his lungs get progressively worse. He refuses to see the doctor. When my mother was here he told her he wasn't going to survive the winter. He told his own mum that as well when she phoned last week. Leah, his eldest daughter, phoned a couple of days ago and he mentioned it to her as well. Whether it's true or not, I have no clue, but it pains me to hear him tell our loved ones that. He was as good as he can be during my recovery - got up every day, except one, to make sure Andrea got off to school. He fetched me a cup of tea every now and then and fixed meals several times.

Meals were no problem - my co-workers, neighbors and sister-in-law made sure nobody in our house starved the first few days after I returned home from the hospital. In addition, my brother and his family came over one night and raked the leaves in our yard - a mammoth task. I'm so grateful for all their help!

So, it's back to normal now: work, home, etc. attempting to squeeze in as much sewing as possible. I have some items that must be done for Christmas gifts, but that list has definitely gone down in the last week. I'm not setting myself up to be rushed on anything this year. If I don't have the time, store-bought gifts are in order.

If I learned one thing during my time away, it's this: Take it easy. Stuff will get done when it gets done. No body's going to judge me by how clean my house is or how many quilts I get done. I'm into having a serene, loving environment/attitude.

Maybe the hormone patches ARE working.


Thursday, October 29, 2009

Back Home

No complications with the surgery and I'm back home. My doctor said all went well - the removed bits looked healthy, but the path report will tell us for sure in a week. I'm feeling a bit crampy and tired. They sure don't let you sleep much in the hospital - up at 4 am! My mom is taking excellent care of me - she made a lovely chicken noodle soup and biscuits for dinner.

Michael did not go to the hospital yesterday; he stayed home. I was a bit disappointed and thought he was acting rather selfishly. But he came today to bring me home. Once he'd been at the hospital for an hour, he started to moan, so in retrospect, I'm glad he was NOT there yesterday.

More later, chickies. I'm rather tired.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

BIG Chicken Cathy

Gotta tell you that Andrea and I had a great time accompanying Jill to the Indianapolis Quilt Guild Show on Saturday. It felt marvelous just getting out of southwestern Ohio, if only for a few hours. Slowly, but surely, Andrea is appreciating my love for fabric and fiber arts and may even pick it up herself. At least she's showing an interest in it. She wanted to know why I hadn't entered a quilt in the show. Can't confess to her that I'm a big CHICKEN! I don't exactly relish the thought of a professional evaluating my sewing skills when I quilt just for the therapy and because I like giving my efforts away. (Cheaper than buying a gift!) Perhaps someday I'll get over that dread with Andrea's help and her choice of colours.

Finished attaching the binding to my boss' retirement quilt, quilted a twin sized piece I've had in my flimsy stack for over a year, got the binding attached to that. So I have two large quilts to hand sew. Good timing.......

Tomorrow's my surgery and I'm getting a bit nervous about it all finally. Despite having to ingest milk of magnesia periodically throughout the day, I am here at the office, desperately trying to finish as many of my files as possible. My mom and her husband will be here about 4 this afternoon. I'm extremely grateful for that support. Although I love my husband dearly, he's somewhat useless when it comes to loving care when I'm less than 100 percent. Smudge gives me more attention than he does! Why should tomorrow be any different? LOL

In a last ditch effort to convince Andrea that a tiny red border on her black and white quilt would definitely make it "pop", I showed the borders to her girlfriends and asked them to vote. I should have guessed - they sided with Andrea and wanted just a wide black border. Sigh!!!!!!!!

Well, I need to get to work, chickens. I'll post as soon as I can to let y'all know how things went.


Friday, October 23, 2009

Dancin' To A Happy Tune!

Happy Dance:

1. I finished the quilting on my boss' retirement/signature quilt last night. Next up - attaching the binding and prepare for hand sewing.

2. My doctor prescribed a medication that's keep the dental pain to a minimum. I've had two nights of good, quality sleep and am feeling soooooooo much better!

3. Andrea appears to be over the worst of the crud she came down with.

4. I've been given the medical go-ahead for my hysterectomy on Wednesday. Looking forward to feeling LOADS better!

5. It's Friday - need I say more?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Monday, October 19, 2009


The need to be flexible with my life has really been important recently. My best made plans for last week fell by the wayside with my dental issues. Andrea's home sick today with some creepy crud going around her school. I rescheduled (for the third time) my six month teeth cleaning. And even my quilting priorities are affected. Let me explain.....

I've talked about the signature/retirement quilt I've pieced for my boss who has scheduled his retirement date for the end of March. OK, I thought, loads of time, but just in case he changes his mind (i.e. gets ticked off at the management) and leaves early, I'll have the quilt ready. But, I still dragged my feet - so to speak - on finding appropriate backing material, batting and getting it loaded onto the frame. That was until Friday. My boss stopped by my cubicle to jokingly ask me why none of my producers had any complaints about me. We chatted for a bit and then he got serious.

"I won't be in the office on Monday," he stated. "I'll be in Columbus getting a colon biopsy and it doesn't look good"

"Oh, you've probably caught it early," I replied. (Remember, most underwriters are good about taking care of themselves since we read horrible, horrible medical records every day for our applicants)

"I don't think so. I thought I could put off all my medical stuff until retirement," he continued,"But I couldn't wait any more on this. It won't be good."

Then, he told me to not talk about it with anybody else here at work - only me, his boss and the medical director know what he's facing. My mind is troubled with this and my offer to pray for him seems so insignificant.

His quilt is half-way done on the frame now. It needs to be done and ready for delivery. That's one thing I can do.


The aforementioned quilt has been challenging - well, not the quilt itself, but my machine decided to act up and I changed my mind on the free-motion pattern half-way into the first row. I've become quite adept at ripping out stitches. Then, I ran out of the thread - quick trip to Joann's and we're back in business. Get back at it tonight.

Joann's sale this week includes Warm and Natural batting - 50 percent off. Good time to stock up.

Quiet week ahead ( I hope). The only appointments I have are on Thursday. But I never know what's next around the bend.

Hugs on Monday!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Back Amongst The Living

I wouldn't wish my past three days on ANYBODY in this world. The endodontist couldn't perform the repair work until the antibiotics had a chance to work. So, I started taking a pain medication in addition to the antibiotic which made me even sicker. Finally, got the root canal, crown repair procedure started yesterday. It took nearly three hours to remove the old crown and the post, clean up the damaged area and fill it all up with medication and seal it. Round two starts November 9. I still have some residual numbness from the lip to the chin area which the doctor wants to evaluate this afternoon. Could be anesthesia or the medication "leaked" into that area. But, I am no way in the amount of pain I was before all the treatment started.

My co-workers were absolutely spectacular in keeping up with all my cases. I did miss nearly two days of work because of all this.

Couldn't have chosen a worse time for the tooth to act up. All my producers are in town for meetings - wanted to take me out to eat, meet with me, etc. I've had to cancel all the plans except for lunch today. Oh, well, they'll get over it......

Got a favor to ask all you quilters who read my blog. I'm looking for a pattern - a lap-sized quilt with a Pottery-based pattern. In other words - the blocks are pieced to look like clay pots or even an appliqued pot. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Miss Andrea took her PSAT test yesterday and was very discouraged. I told her it didn't matter - it's just an assessment to determine weak spots for the SAT next year.

No sign of the raccoons since Monday. I guess our Daisy told them what for!

My sister in law is winging her way as I write to Haiti for a mission trip. She went last October and was really taken with the country and its people. My brother will join her next week. It must be wonderful to have training in a medical profession where you can help people like they are. Both of them were on a "high" for weeks after their last visit and I expect they'll have loads to talk about when they return on the 31st.

Hugs from rainy Cincinnati!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Falling Apart

Hanging onto the remaining bits of my cold, I woke up Sunday morning with a raging toothache. Just been to the dentist and he's referring me to an endodontist. I managed to get an appointment with the specialist at 4 this afternoon, but cannot take any pain medication before then so it won't mask the symptoms. I'm not so convinced that I'm literally falling apart!

A bit of excitement this morning when Andrea let Daisy outside. Seconds after the dog hit the back patio, we heard her bark and cry as if she was being threatened. Sure enough, she was being chased by two of the biggest raccoons I've ever seen. We got her back into the house and one of the raccoons tried to get into the house behind her! Once we got Daisy settled, I looked back outdoors and saw one of the critters was standing on his hind legs in front of the back door as if he was begging to be let into the house! It doesn't look like Daisy was physically hurt by the raccoons, thank goodness. Sure frightened Andrea and I!

I got to sale at Joann's yesterday after the Bengals game. I bought a piece of wide backing and the batting for my boss' retirement/signature quilt. Bought a few other bits and bobs and headed home.

Managed to get the retirement quilt loaded onto the frame. Couple more decisions to be made - colour of thread and design. I may just go with beige/taupe thread since that goes with just about everything on the scrappy quilt.

Michael's over his cold, but I honestly think his lungs are worse the last week or so. He struggles more for breath even with the simple task of walking from one room to another. I can't convince him to use his oxygen any more than he does. It's tough to watch him struggle when he has tools (i.e. oxygen, inhalers, nebulizer) that can perhaps help.

We went out for dinner with Bev and Martin on Saturday night. They are both so depressed over Martin's health and their finances, it's difficult to know what to say to either one of them. Let's just say it wasn't a fun evening.

Counting the minutes until my next dental appointment .....


Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Down, But Not Out

Greetings from the Sick Ward in Mason, Ohio! Michael and I both came down with Miss Andrea's cold (She's so SWEET to share with us, isn't she?). I can't remember a time when a cold knocked me down as hard as this one has. Since Thursday night I haven't even turned on the lights in the sewing room! But, Michael is the one we worry about. He must be feeling poorly since he finally agreed to visit the doctor this afternoon. Fortunately was able to get him an appointment - tough to get with a lot of folks coming down with crud of one variety or another. That's one good thing about having a terminal lung disease - he gets an appointment no matter what! If he was still working at the dairy, he would have been exposed to a lot more viruses - another good thing about his retirement/disability.

Speaking of disability, we've tried for almost a week to get in touch with Social Security to give them Michael's national insurance number from the UK - it took three weeks to get that number from across the pond. Does it take SS that long to answer a phone message? I e-mailed our congressman's aide AGAIN and she was going to speak with the caseworker's supervisor.

No quilting, but I did fish out a couple of half-way done cross stitch projects to work on whilst recovering from the creeping crud. These will be good to work on after my surgery as well.

We postponed a dinner with Martin and Bev on Saturday night. Martin will just have to be patient and expect his birthday quilt next time we see them. They're going through rough times - Martin's been disabled for months and his doctors still don't know a diagnosis. He had to give up his car - couldn't afford it with no pay coming in. I'd hate to think that Martin's medical issues are going to cost him and Bev all that they've worked a lifetime to earn.

Other than feeling strange with this cold, I'm somewhat at loose ends since I missed church on Sunday. Attending service always sets me on a good path for the week. I'm not exactly wobbling around directionless, but off-center a bit. I'll get back on track soon!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

A Day For Rambling

No particular topic in mind today; just a lot of stuff.........

My hysterectomy is finally booked for October 28 with pre-admission gooblety-gook scheduled October 22. The process to get this thing arranged has been a real challenge. If it's been that much frustration for me, imagine what it's like for those poor gals with no medical or insurance backgrounds.

I've had to re-arrange some things like the quilt class I had booked for October 31 in Fairborn. Cancelling it was easy enough, but I had to drive to the shop to get my refund. I'll have to keep my eyes open for the next time Julie Lambert has a basic machine quilting class in the area.

Well pleased with my quilting efforts - I loaded Martin's train quilt onto the frame, quilted it, got the binding attached and am nearly done with the handstitching. All since Sunday. It was funny how I worked - do a pass on the frame, run to the bedroom to watch football (Ravens vs. Browns), run back to the sewing room, do another pass - you get the idea. Perhaps I should get a television in the sewing room and my family would NEVER see me again.

With the colder, damp weather we've had, Michael's lungs are struggling. He's being so stubborn about using his oxygen. I make him take the machine wherever we go, but he won't use it. Not sure whether it's pride or he doesn't want to admit he has a problem. His days are spent working on his model railroad layouts, playing Scrabble on the computer, writing on the model railroad internet forums, making messes in the kitchen and moaning about the pets.

We finally got Michael's National Insurance number from England - Social Security wanted that number three weeks ago and we had to write to obtain it. Keep your fingers crossed that we'll have a positive answer soon about benefits.

Andrea's got a horrible cold, so we do our best to keep her away from Michael. I hesitate to think about what will happen if he does get the cold or flu. Miss Andrea is doing very well with her school work so far this year. She's preparing to take the PSAT exam in two weeks. Hard to think that my "baby" only has two years left in public education then it's off to college.

My other "baby", Tattoo Boy started back to class at UC last Wed. He's so pumped up about his art classes - metal sculpture using a welding torch. OMG! Better there than at home, I suppose.

After going to Jill's house last week, Andrea's been strongly suggesting that we need another dachshund to keep our Daisy company. (Thanks, Jill! - said with sarcasm LOL) The neighbors down the street have five dachshunds and one just had two puppies last Thursday. They are so adorable! And I've been watching the postings on dachshund rescue. Well, we shall see.....I know Michael will not be happy if another dog comes into the house. He's already said his goal is to outlive Daisy and Smudge so he knows what it's like to live in an animal-free house. Hate to tell him this, but I will always have a cat. (right, Linda?) A house just isn't a home without a kitty.


Monday, September 21, 2009

Making It Worth It

A little over a year ago, a co-worker learned her daughter was expecting her first baby (first grandchild too) Together, Linda and I picked out the fabric for the quilt which had a horse theme. I gave the quilt to Linda, but sadly the daughter miscarried. Linda wanted to give the quilt back to me, but I insisted she keep it - there would be a little one for her to love soon, I said.

Fast forward to Friday - I received the following e-mail:

Just wanted to let you know that I was at a shower for her on Sunday and everyone thought the quilt was beautiful. It was the only heirloom gift she received. She especially liked the horse theme. The crib is a mahogany color so the vibrant colors will look great against it.
Thanks for your hard work and keeping the faith with me. We're getting down to the home stretch. She looks like someone stuffed a basket ball under her shirt, literally. She has about 6-7 weeks yet. Have no idea whether its a girl or boy, but I think it will be a boy. If so, the name will be Blake Thomas. Girl's name is Aubrey but no middle name yet

This friend has had her share of adversity in the last year. First the miscarriage. Then, her fiance passed out in her kitchen and died. The day of Steve's funeral, her parents both had to be admitted to the hospital. Then, "Uncle Fester" (boss at the office) eliminated her job two weeks later. So, I'm glad that little quilt gave her a ray of sunshine.

Our "hobby" means more than fibers, my friends.


Thursday, September 17, 2009

On Schedule

One of my co-workers forwarded this photo - I HAVE to get this outfit for our Daisy.

My hysterectomy is scheduled for October 28 - a bit later than I wanted, but that was the first available date for my GYN and the doctor who is assisting. At least it gives me some time to get things organized around the house and quilt a few items /get them ready for hand-sewing. I may even dust off a few cross stitch projects.
The bad news is I will have to cancel my machine quilting class with Julie Lambert on the 31st. Something tells me I won't be up to it. Sigh - Some other time.......

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Happy Dancin' For Contact Lenses!

What joy! I am able to wear my contact lenses again! The worst of the pink eye is over and my eyes are feeling loads better.

I get to leave the office a bit early again today for yet another doctor's appointment. I'm unable to schedule my surgery until I see my GYN today for yet another evaluation. Even after this, the practice's scheduler couldn't guarantee a date before the end of October. What has changed to my internal plumbing since July? Nada, nyet, nothing. So I'm not exactly thrilled about doing the "moo" routine again this afternoon. But, if that's what it takes to get on the surgical schedule, I'll do it.

Andrea had to return home from school - not feeling well. From what I hear there is a lot of crud going around the local schools these days.

Those of you who attended the St. Jude's retreat may remember the Biblical verse "cheater cloth" I had and wanted suggestions on what to do with it. I'm slicing each block up with 1/2" extra on each side. Then I'm taking 2 and 1/2" strips leftover from a Moda jelly roll and boxing in each Bible verse and drawing. There are 15 squares in all. Once I see how large it will be, I'll decide what borders would look nice and how to quilt it into a nice lap-sized quilt for my Mother. It's a nice little project that I can work on for 15 -20 minutes each morning before I head to the office. And now that I can "see" again, it won't take me long to complete the top.

One thing I definitely have to think about it what holiday gifts need to be worked on. Other than the lap quilt for Mom, I do not have any ideas. It might not be a busy Christmas season in the sewing room this year.


Monday, September 14, 2009

The Eyes Have IT!

Conjunctivitis that is! Ever since the middle of last week, I've been battling "pink eye" in both eyes. My co-workers convinced me it wasn't going to clear on its own, as I thought, and I went to the doctor late Friday afternoon. I'm now taking drops in both eyes four times a day and not permitted to wear my contact lenses until at least Wednesday. That creates difficulties for me - hard to sew, work on the computer, read reports at the office, etc. My glasses help a bit, but the prescription for those is years old. I usually only wear the things at night after taking my lenses out. Perhaps it's time to get another back-up pair with the correct strengths!

It was another "fun" week at the Howe residence. Michael decided that he was going to clean out the garage. Four days later, the garage is still a mess with all kinds of stuff he wants to discard sitting in the middle of the floor, trash everywhere,"monster" crickets hiding in the corners, and Michael gasping for oxygen every five minutes (refused to wear his portable oxygen tank - dummy!) So, I took charge on Sunday. Within an hour, all the refuse was at the curb, things organized, the floor swept and sprayed for crickets. I also played chauffeur for Andrea's various social activities on Saturday, including a drive at 11 pm to the local church festival. That girl has GOT to get a part-time job and her driver's license, so I can start worrying on a whole different plane! LOL

Met our new neighbors - they have four mini-dachshunds with more on the way. PUPPIES! - Andrea shrieked. "I want one!" Our cranky wiener dog would no more take to a lively puppy in the house than I'd want to clean up the puppy messes. We'll visit, oh and ah over the babies, but no more doggies for us!

I hunched over my sewing machine on Saturday and got a top all pieced - a simple log cabin quilt from Fons and Porter's latest issue of Simple Quilts. I must get the Mt Hood (nickel quilt) on the frame this week - it's for a birthday gift on October 3. Should have enough batting and backing material already at home, but believe it or not I'm getting to the end of the batting roll I purchased last year.

Since football season started again, I may pick up an old cross stitch pattern or two. Good to work on those or binding projects whilst watching a game. Although if I stitch during an Ohio State game, I'm likely to stab something . Or if I watch a Cincinnati Bengals game, I'll laugh too hard and end up with wonky stitches!

Speaking of that - wasn't that Bengals game a hoot? I could have laughed myself to death when the announcer on national television said, "And that's why they call them the Bungals." Oh, well, I should keep the merriment to a minimum since someday the Steelers may stink too! Payback from deprived Bengals fans, after all, is likely.


Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Four Days

Sure didn't feel like getting out of bed this morning after four days of being able to sleep in. SIGH! Finding it awfully hard to get motivated as well.

Let's pep things up a bit by re-capping the last four days:

FRIDAY: Ah, up at normal time to get Miss Andrea off to school. Instead of going back to bed, I ate breakfast at a leisurely pace, did my morning reading and headed to the sewing room. By 2 pm, I had a lap-sized quilt pieced - Mt Hood- from the first Nickel Quilts book. Then headed to Waynesville/Fabric Shack. Unfortunately (fortunately for my wallet), they didn't have the Thimbleberries fabric I initially wanted. Picked up a few pieces of fabric for a fall-inspired quilt and then drove to Joann's for a few bits and bobs. Found a neat book on continuous line quilting for 30 percent off.

When Andrea and her buddies were at the football game, Michael and I drove to Frisch's for coffee and dessert. Ahem, his idea of dessert was a Big Boy. Nice little change of pace for just the two of us.

SATURDAY: Miss Andrea joined me for breakfast at IHOP then on to Best Friends' Open House. Signed up for Stash Pot Pie and purchased the "naked men" fabric Andrea wanted to make pillow cases for her buddies for Christmas. I'd like to make these Saturday morning breakfasts with just Andrea a regular thing - maybe once a month. With just the two of us, she opens up a lot more. As much as it's possible, I'd like to know what's going on with this particular 16-year-old. She's showing an interest in sewing, which I'd like to encourage.

After the open house, we drove back to Mason for Penney's, the bird seed store, Joann's (again), and Pet Smart. Phew!

The only sewing I got done was a small table runner and a new cover for my wallet.

SUNDAY: Church was lovely, but the music was a bit "off" The leadership team has struggled with the music portion of the service ever since the assistant minister who lead that area left our church for another opportunity. But, I do love singing in church since nobody notices how poorly I sound!

What to do in the sewing room? I purchased a Moda/Kansas Troubles jelly roll at last year's shop hop. Looked at the various jelly roll patterns I had and decided to use Twisted Strip that I picked up at the quilt show in Columbus. I had the top pieced by noon on Monday.

MONDAY: I slept in the latest of the four days since a big thunderstorm rolled through the area around 6 am. Rainy mornings are just made for sleeping in. Once I finished the Twisted Strip, I focused on sewing up more Labor Day Madness stars from Nickel quilts. They're very nice, but sewing one star from start to finish involves a lot of cutting. I need to remember that by piecing these combination units, I'm actually doing two quilt tops at once.

Michael and I took Andrea and her two buddies out for lunch at Steak N Shake, the bank and filled up the car with petrol. Whoa! Do we know how to get excitement or what?

In between all the sewing, running around, I read a lot. I'm 3/4 of the way done with "World Without End" by Stephen Follet. Linda convinced me to read "Pillars of the Earth" and the book I've almost finished is the sequel.

All in all, I got most everything done that I wanted with the exception of housework, but that doesn't count! Hey, I did bake a cake on Saturday night using zucchini. Michael won't eat it though.

Michael news: We got a notice from our congressman's office that Social Security needs his national insurance number from England. We mailed the request for that to England on Friday. We've also asked Michael's ex to try to find it. Their insurance number isn't used as commonly as our social security numbers are. Health-wise, Michael is about the same. He is definitely not using his oxygen when he needs it and that troubles me. One of my mother's friends passed away yesterday from the same lung condition that ails Michael - another reminder of what we're dealing with. Poor Michael - even making the bed sends him into a coughing spasm.


Wednesday, September 2, 2009

A contest

Check out Linda's blog for a contest:

However, if you win thanks to my referral, you MUST share the winnings. LOL, just teasing.

You'll love this blog - written by Linda's cat, PI, a most intelligent creature

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Keeping It Calm

My goal in this world at present is to keep things as they are. Especially with Michael. His lung disease goes into periods when it's not doing more damage and then other times it goes downhill rapidly. I think we're on a plateau presently. He's not able to do much around the house without having lung issues. So, he's content with running a small E-Bay business, posting on Facebook, and communicating on a variety of model railroad forums. Toss in a derogatory remarks about the pets from time to time and we know he's OK. LOL I still find myself making sure he's breathing at night. He woke up this morning with the oxygen tube poked in his eye. A lot of good that did him! He talks back to the radio commentators, yells about the television broadcaster's accents and proclaims all American football players are fat-assed wussies. Whenever Andrea or I complain about his horrible sense of humor or how much he moans, he responds, "You'll miss me when I'm gone."

No doubt.

Started working on a Nickel quilts pattern - Labor Day - how appropriate. The thing that's great about this pattern is that I'll have enough bonus squares to make a second totally different quilt. I had 15 minutes to spare before I had to leave for work this morning, so I went into the sewing room and did a bit of stitching. (Thank you, Bonnie Hunter, for that idea!)

Linda forwarded a terrific web site to me this morning - Sew Inspired Pine Needles Sewing Center newsletter. Great idea on how to use scrap fabric using two shoe boxes. I may try that this weekend and see what kind of progress I can make on using my stash.

One of my friends at work has gotten back into quilting thanks to my intervention and enabling. LOL She was at the quilt show in Sharonville this past weekend and talked with Julie Lambert, machine quilting expert. My friend, Kathy, is all pumped up about taking one of Julie's classes next month in Dayton and convinced me to go along as well. Something to look forward to....

What I'm not looking forward to is the dentist this afternoon. Thank goodness it's the last appointment in this procedure.


Wednesday, August 26, 2009


Michael is doing better the last couple of days. No more episodes like the one Sunday night. Thank the Lord! School starts tomorrow and he will be alone most of the days from now on. I may take a house key over to the neighbors for emergency purposes. They're a dear retired couple who love us to bits; I'm sure they won't mind.

Thanks for the compliments about Andrea's black and white quilt. I bought some variegated thread (black, white and gray) at the NQA show in Columbus several months ago for this quilt. Out of curiosity, I used some of it on a black and white tote bag I made for Andrea last month and it looked great.

I finished the Bonnie Hunter stars last night and started to sew them together.

Tomorrow I get the "pleasure" of seeing my dentist again to wrap up the root canal. (UGH!) Friday's more fun and games with the urologist. Then, I get to see both health care professionals again next week. Do I know how to live or what? LOL


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Recent Projects

Really pleased with the production in the sewing room as of late. I've wrapped up piecing on a couple of projects and finished an assignment for a class at Best Friends.

Those of you who were at the retreat in East Palestine, Ohio (St Jude's fund raiser) may have seen me working on the blocks for this quilt. The blocks were all finished at the retreat and have been just sitting in my sewing room until this past Sunday when I finally got them all pieced together. This is for Andrea - she selected the pattern and the colours. I tried to convince her that a one inch red border with a big (5 inch) black border would really look sharp, but she was not pleased with that idea. She wants NO border.

My boss is retiring in March, but I wanted to get his retirement/signature quilt done asap since things are so unsettled at our office. (He may just say, "Enough of this!" and leave early.) This pattern is from the newest Nickel quilts book. After Michael took the photo, I realized one of the autograph blocks was sewn into the quilt incorrectly. I've since fixed that.

What I need now are ideas for the borders. I have a big piece of blue Lakeside fabric from Thimbleberries for the wide border. Would a skinny dark red border service well? There aren't too many red shades in the pieces.

My goal is to have this quilted and ready by mid September. That way I will be ready just in case!

This quilt was a Stash Pot Pie project. Very, very pleased with the colours on this one and I took a lot of care with the quilting ( heart-shaped leaves and swirls free-form) I like the assignments we have for Stash Pot Pie and one of my "goals" is to have the monthly project completely done for Show Off and Tell each meeting. That way, I don't add to my flimsie population. This month we're supposed to be working on an apron. Perhaps get that started this coming weekend.

So, what's going on now? I'm working on Bonnie Hunter stars - 17 done and half-way done with the 13 remaining stars for a lap quilt. I'm collecting a variety of waste triangles for some future project.


Monday, August 24, 2009

A Very Big Scare

Michael had what we we call a "bad lung" day on Saturday. He used his oxygen nearly all day and had horrible coughing spells. Normally, he has the coughing attacks in the morning and they pass fairly quickly. Saturday was different. Then, at 2 in the morning, he couldn't breathe. He gasped for air and couldn't get any despite the oxygen flow. The sounds he made were something I'd never heard before and woke me from a deep sleep. I knew right away he was in trouble. Fortunately, he was able to cough and get the airway open. But the episode left both of us badly shaken. He went into the kitchen for a cup of tea - his "cure all" and I laid in bed shaking for a good hour. He said he had another episode like that last week, but neglected to tell me about it!

I suppose this only proves the doctor's point that Michael could leave this world at any time given the poor state of his lungs. That's why Dr. Dortin couldn't tell us how long he has. A sudden decline in his lung condition can kill him, even congestion from a cold or allergies.

Despite Michael's issues on Saturday, we still had friends over for dinner that night. I think it did him some good to laugh and relax a bit.

One of the books I read as part of my therapy talked about healthy spouses feeling resentful toward their ill/dying partners. I have to honestly admit I've been full of resentment the last few weeks. Saturday's episode may have burned off that feeling though.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

THE Cardinal Sin

Last night I showed to Michael a photo of a quilt in the latest Fons & Porter magazine . "Wouldn't that be nice?" I asked.

"Honestly, what do we NEED another quilt for?" he smirked.

OK, drive a stake through my heart, boil me in oil, tar and feather me, drop a toaster in the bathwater, etc, but DON'T question the NEED for a beautiful quilt. NEED has NOTHING to do with it. I think both Michael and Andrea still don't see my activities in the sewing room as a necessary creative outlet.



Despite the sun not being out (It's close to 8 am),it's a gorgeous cool morning in southwestern Ohio. I turned the AC off last night and opened the windows. Slept better than I have in weeks! I'm enjoying my coffee, going to read a bit and then tackle the housecleaning chores before going to the hairdresser's.

Two more rows to sew and I'll have my boss' retirement quilt all pieced. I'd have it done already, but I was messing around with some scrappy blocks (a la Bonnie Hunter) yesterday.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Animal Story

Smudge has been feeling poorly for several weeks. (For those of you new to my blog, Smudge is THE cat in the sewing room) Andrea and I took him to the vet's last night after work. Poor kitty is running a fever and has an infection. The vet ran a blood count, but the results won't be available until today. Meanwhile, we have to give him an antibiotic twice a day. Mercifully, the vet gave me a quick lesson in how to give Smudge a pill. Once he's over the infection, he gets another steroid shot for his annual late summer/early fall allergy problems.

So, Smudge got tucked into his cat carrier for the trip home and I dreaded getting the tab for the visit.

While waiting to pay the bill, we met our former neighbor. His family lived two doors down from us when we first moved to Mason nine years ago. Poor Phil looked like the weight of the world was on his shoulders and frankly I didn't even recognize him at first. We asked about Boomer, their golden retriever they adopted four years ago. "He died this afternoon," Phil said. "No idea what happened." The dog was less than five years old and apparently their youngest daughter found him dead in the backyard. Phil had brought Boomer to the vet's for disposal. I offered to help bring him into the office, but Phil said they had a stretcher and several vet assistants ready to help.

Suddenly, Smudge's infection didn't seem like such a big deal. Our friends are not far from my thoughts today, as well.


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

An About Face!

When Michael received the letter from Social Security on Saturday, he was very downcast about the whole ordeal. Me? I sprang into "action". I composed a dignified letter to SSA, completed the reconsideration form and e-mailed our congressman. Before I had the chance to mail anything, we heard back from a congressional aide. Turns out the letter was sent in error! Michael's claim is still open and its fate rests in the hands of the British equivalent of SSA. Ms. Holmes also stated they sincerely apologized for the error and any distress it may have caused. It could be about 60 days before we know the final decision, but at least it's still in the works. Keep your fingers crossed!

Meanwhile, in the sewing room, I've started piecing together all the blocks for my boss' retirement quilt. The last of the autograph blocks was returned to me yesterday. I'll have Michael take photos of the work in progress since it's really looking nice. I have no idea what fabric to use for the borders since the quilt is so scrappy.

Speaking of scrappy, I've pieced 17 blocks of the star quilt we began in Friday's Bonnie Hunter workshop. That scrappy look is really growing on me. Good thing, too, since I have enough fabric in my stash to keep that up for YEARS!

No one likes the ultra-humid weather we'd had thus far this week. Poor Michael struggles so with it to the point where he won't go outside after 10 am. It even felt humid in the gym this morning, so their AC units must be struggling.

One more week and Miss Andrea returns to school. I've already been on the phone with her guidance counselor to get one class changed, made the annual haircut appointment, scheduled an eye exam and bought a few school clothes. She's also begging for me to take her to the new outlet mall north of our house. She will have to wait for that - until next payday.

Michael, bored with just staying home all day, has created his own little E-Bay business. So far, just selling a bunch of railroad layout models he created over the years. He's also buying stuff with the intention of fixing it up and then re-selling it.

Tattoo Boy might as well be a ghost for as often as we see him. When he's not working, he's with his girl friend. He got some financial aid lined up for school which helps him a lot. His classes don't start for another month.

As for me, no medical appointments this week. The fun and games begin again next week with work on the bad toothy and urology tests. I have no clue when I'll be able to schedule the surgery - we have two rounds of urology tests first. Definitely want to get it done this year since we've already reached our out of pocket maximum and we have no idea what Obama-care is going to do with our benefits.

So, that is all the news from 200 Furbee Drive!


Monday, August 17, 2009

Fun In Indianapolis

This past weekend I travelled to Indianapolis with Linda, Becca, and Jill to attend that city's guild meeting and the workshops hosted by Bonnie Hunter of Quiltville fame.

First of all, it was simply fantastic to spend a few precious hours way from home - a break of sorts from the everyday challenges. To share this time with the above-mentioned quilty buddies was precious to me.

Bonnie is a truly gifted quilt artist and a fantastic instructor. Honestly, I had my doubts that I'd be successful in creating anything "scrappy". That was soon proven wrong!

My tote of two inch strips created a nice scrappy star. Once I had a sample - I went to town on sewing a bunch of pieces utilizing the bonus method Bonnie taught. By sewing an extra line on the corner of the blocks, you get a two inch half square triangle block. Before Friday, I simply snipped these ends off the sewn piece and tossed them into the nearest trash can. The horror of it all and I am so ashamed. But, I have seen the light and now have a basket designated for these little squares - waiting for the opportunity to be pieced for some lucky future quilt. Bonnie stated those little scraps cost $9 a yard too!

Saturday's class was interesting and once I got into the right mindset, it was a lot of fun. Just sewing "crumbs" together in a random order and creating 4 and 1/2 inch squares was a totally new thing for me. It quickly brought back memories of when I'd raid my grandmother's stash and sew doll dresses with no patterns.

Once I returned home, I sewed 17 of the scrappy star blocks and a handful of the 4 and 1/2 inch squares. Andrea popped her head into the sewing room to see what I was working on and pronounced that nothing matched. I'm taking that as the ultimate compliment.

And thus, back to reality..........

Michael got a letter from Social Security Administration. They denied his claim because he didn't have enough credits for the US system. No duh! Whoever handled his claim totally overlooked the fact that we filed for totalization benefits in coordination with England. So, I've already typed a letter and completed the form for Michael to send to re-open his request. Imbeciles! And these are the same folks we want running our health care system? This sort of action would not be tolerated by my company, which incidentally pays disability claims for our customers. I think I know what I'm talking about.

Andrea and two of her friends were anxiously waiting for my return from Indianapolis since they wanted to go bowling. First time in YEARS I've picked up my bowling ball. I did pathetic, but I did enjoy it. If I had more time, I would gladly join a league. Leagues are a lot of fun and you meet a lot of people, but they have gotten very expensive. (Like everything else!)

Have a wonderful Monday!

Monday, July 27, 2009

What a Bargain!

Michael and I like going to the local thrift shops from time to time just for fun. We've found some great bargains there occasionally. Like Saturday. I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw a Huskylock serger in a carrier bag for $20! The cords were all there and the machine looked in pretty good shape except for a lot of lint - obvious the previous owner used it. Even though I've never used a serger before, I snatched it up. Michael found a website where we can order an owner's manual. Andrea used a serger in her theatre class last fall - to make outfits for the play. Once she returns home from her mini-vacation I'm hoping she'll show some interest in using it.

My devious streak is continuing - Michael's done nothing but sit at the computer, sit whilst working on his model trains, sit for meals, etc. (you get the picture) So I used the trip to the thrift shops and IKEA as a means to get him moving. Not necessarily to make any purchases. We did a lot of slow walking - he used his oxygen, but still struggled at times.

As planned, did a lot of cleaning this weekend around the house. Also made time for sewing but not until Sunday afternoon. I pieced together all 30 blocks for the Stash Pot Pie class assignment and got the border half done when I realized I didn't have enough fabric for the second border! This means a road trip to the shop at lunchtime. Started working on a scrappy bag for my clothespins as the sparrows have ruined the two bags I had on the clothesline with their nests.

Did you ever feel like God is discreetly trying to tell you something or spur you into action on specific item? This morning at 6am, I ran into Pastor Tom at the gym! He remembered my e-mail from last week and promised we would get together soon. You can't convince me that there wasn't some "guidance" in creating that meeting, as brief as it was.


Friday, July 24, 2009


Michael does not believe in God. I worry about this a lot and discussed it with the Christian counselor I've been seeing at our church. The counselor suggested that we get in touch with the lead pastor and see if he had any suggestions. Pastor Tom has offered to meet with Michael. Michael being Michael will probably guess what we're up to, so Tom is going to visit on the pretext of seeing how "I'm" doing and if there is anything he can help with prior to my surgery. Devious? Probably, but Tom's not going to preach - it'll just be a get-to-know you session. And if I know Tom, he will view Michael as a challenge. Religious views aside, those two would probably get along very well.

I'm still anxious about it.

Things are still rather tense at the office. Several more changes have been announced, but no more job cuts at least. One of our reinsurers informed us today that they're cutting staff as well. I can only pray that I'm able to weather this storm without too many challenges.

One of my co-workers and I went to Seams Sew Easy for a Christmas in July sale. I got some backing material for the Thimbleberries Lakeside quilt and the borders for the Stash Pot Pie assignment. They had some really cute Christmas things out, but I just wasn't in a mood or financially able to pick those up. Later..........

I've completed all 30 of the blocks going into the Stash Pot Pie assignment and hope to get the entire quilt completely finished by class next month. With Andrea gone on a mini-holiday until Tuesday, I'm hoping I'll have a bit more time to sew this weekend.

Other than that, no plans for the weekend. The house desperately needs a good cleaning. Good time to do it with the kiddies out and about.


Monday, July 20, 2009

Wake Me Up!

Despite working out this morning at the gym, I'm having a devil of a time keeping awake at the office. Complete lack of motivation. Good thing the boss isn't here yet! LOL

I thoroughly enjoyed Stash Pot Pie class on Saturday morning at Best Friends. Many of the same people from last year's sessions were there. I didn't have last month's project to display, but I did have Michael's train quilt for Show Off and Tell:

Got to visit a bit with Jill and Linda who were both working at the shop. After class, I didn't stick around too much - who can resist buying more fabric in that place? I avoided the temptation by going home!

Talk about frustration! I went to the grocery store that afternoon, shoved all the bags into the car and discovered the lock on the back door was wonky - it wouldn't latch and the screws holding the locking apparatus were loose and nearly falling out. I had to phone Michael to bring a Phillip's head screw driver and help me try to fix the lock before all the meat and frozen stuff went back. (Thanks goodness it's not been hot here lately!) So, that was my "challenge" for the weekend. Nothing was lost, fortunately. Groceries are far too expensive to have to toss out!

Andrea and I took Michael to see the Harry Potter film and he was well pleased. Said it was the best HP film yet!

On Sunday I started the blocks for the SPP assignment for this month. It's one of those things that once you start, it's hard to stop working on it. The pattern requires you to slice the blocks into quadrants and then re-arrange the quadrants. Definitely a fun project.

It's truly amazing how much better Michael's been doing since he stopped working. His demeanor has done a complete turn-around. Don't get me wrong - he's still a crusty, opinionated, stubborn "git". But, he's happy. Nobody's making any demands on him or his time. Practically the entire weekend, he was in the train room working on the models and listening to music. He struggles for breath whenever he walks anywhere, but he refuses to wear his oxygen for those times.

One more month until school starts again and I can reclaim the family room! Andrea camps out in that room all day long and night too when she hosts one of her frequent sleep-overs.

Have a great Monday and I'll try my best to wake up a bit!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Calming Down

Finally, we're able to slow down with the hospital, doctor, and "officialdom" appointments. Michael went to the dentist for a new crown yesterday and he claims this "is the last bloody time I'm going to the dentist". Hopefully, that won't be the case and he will need to return for at least his regular six-month cleanings for a while.

Michael quit working. It's truly amazing how vastly his mood has improved and he's sleeping much better at night. I even got an e-mail from him this morning at work, just like the Michael of old, asking about my day, sending me hugs, etc. Since Michael doesn't have to be in bed so early now, we watch movies together in the family room with Andrea and Tattoo Boy (if he's home). Last night we watched "Last Chance Harvey". Not a great film, but at least we're doing things together as a family again. I've missed that. So, dear ones, life is slowing down for the Howes. If all this draws us closer together - I can handle the loss of Michael's income. It'll be worth it.

After dinner last night, I got sort of restless and felt like there was SOMETHING I should be doing. (Ever get like that?) So, I found the gift card for a pedicure and manicure Tattoo Boy gave me for Christmas and used it. I'd never had a pedicure before and it was lovely. Talk about a de-stressor! I could easily get hooked on that kind of luxury every couple of weeks.

Nothing planned for the weekend except a Stash Pot Pie class at Best Friends quilt shop. I've been a SPP drop out since December. Hoping to get some sewing done on my boss' quilt. I just have the nine-patches to complete. The autograph patches are here at the office and I'm collecting signatures a couple each day - just whenever I see people. Need to be careful to do this when the boss is out. I need to figure out what quilt to donate to the United Way raffle this year - that's not far off.

Jill informed me that I made the "cut" for the Bonnie Hunter classes in Indianapolis next month. I'll start "collecting" what I need for those classes this weekend too!


Wednesday, July 15, 2009

How Tired Is Cathy?


I feel like I've been on the "go" since Monday at 5 am. My work schedule is all out of whack, that's for sure.

Michael's heart cath went well - he was up and about as soon as the doctor said OK. There was a slight pressure increase in the right side of the heart, but nothing like they expected. Since Michael has ruled out being a "guinea pig", there's nothing more to do. He's insistent the cath is the last medical procedure he will agree to. I took him to Golden Corral for his birthday meal - he loves that place. I haven't finished his train quilt yet - have one more side to handsew on the binding. Perhaps finish that tonight.......

Once I was certain Mr. Michael was going to be OK by himself at home, I agree to accompany Andrea and her buddies to the midnight movie premier - Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Talk about a madhouse - but it was fun and the movie was enjoyable. I surprised myself by staying awake for it. By the time I got home at 3:30, I was beat and that alarm going off at 8 am - UGH!!!!

My gynecologist is definitely recommending a hysterectomy. It's my choice when. So, I looked at the vacation calendar at work to see what weeks have the least number of folks out. I'm going to talk to our department VP tomorrow - the same one who terminated the underwriters last week. I want his agreement that just because I need to take a short medical leave, he's not going to put the hammer down on my job. I'm paranoid, yes, but so is everybody else in my department.

I think I'm going to tidy up a bit around the house, sew a spell and get to bed early.

Sounds like a good plan!

Monday, July 13, 2009


Michael and I had the "pleasure" of a meeting at the Social Security Administration building in Hamilton this morning. In preparation for said meeting per their instructions, I obtained medical records, Michael's birth certificate, a copy of his divorce decree from Margaret, our marriage license, medical records, lists of medications, medical tests, name of doctors, tax records and his driver's license from the UK just for good measure. They didn't ask for or need half of what I was told to prepare!

At one point, the interviewer asked me why I was answering all the medical questions for Michael. I explained that I coordinate all his medical information and I deal with medical issues on a daily basis. At that point, Michael piped up, "Because if I talked that much, I wouldn't be able to breathe." Bravo, Michael!

Michael was a good boy during the interview. He despises dealing with government agencies and if they had been nasty or rude, I was prepared to watch him get up and leave. Fortunately, that did not happen.

Since I married Michael in 2002, I have dealt with Immigration and Naturalization, the IRS and now Social Security. I'm thoroughly convinced the people who work for these agencies have received no people skills training and the individuals who design their offices have Edwardian England in mind! We had to sit in a cubicle with at least five feet between us and the interviewer with a sheet of Plexiglas between the three of us. I had to really struggle to hear the interviewer's questions. I recognize that everyone who visits these offices isn't the nicest, but why treat everyone like a criminal or cattle? What these agencies fail to realize is that most of the time Americans have little interaction with them. When we need an agency like Social Security, it's when we're already facing a stressful situation. Having to deal with red tape and all its twists and turns, just adds fuel to the fire.

And when your spouse says it's a waste of time and we won't see one "bean" before he dies, that's enough to send me to the liquor cabinet!

Yesterday, I managed to quilt the Train quilt I pieced during the guild's fall retreat. Also got the binding on and I'm currently hand-stitching it to the back. It'll be Michael's birthday gift tomorrow.

His other "gift" is the heart cath.


Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Tough Day

Things are not real smooth sailing in the Howe household these days. Tough issues to talk about.

The pulmonology appointment went as badly as I expected. Michael's lungs are worse and we're headed toward complete pulmonary failure - when is anybody's guess. The echocardiogram showed up as normal - but the doctor wants to run a heart cath since the predictive value on that test is far superior to any other tool they have. He was so sure the echo was going to show pulmonary hypertension since Michael has all the symptoms of that problem. The echo is less invasive and doesn't require anesthesiology - a big factor when dealing with somebody with dicey lungs. There is medicine they can give him for the pulmonary hypertension that will aid in breathing. So, I'm in favor of getting the test done. Then Dr. Dortin wants Michael to see a specialist at the University who is doing research on IPF. Michael wants no part of that I did get him to agree to the heart cath.

ME: I don't want to be sitting here alone one or two years from now and find out that this test could have given me more time with you. I couldn't live with myself.
MICHAEL: OK, I'll get it done.

Cathy won this battle folks!

Round Two: Cathy won this one too! Michael agreed we need to get wills drafted.

I went to the Christian-based counselor tonight - the timing was good on this. He suggested two books to read over the next two weeks since he's going on vacation, but wants to see me once a week for while. I have grief issues. (no,duh!)

My cell phone rang when we left the doctor's this afternoon. It was my friend Diane from work. After I left the office at 2:30 this afternoon, the company laid off three underwriters - one from my area! The underwriter who was terminated is the same lady who lost her fiance three weeks ago and the day after his funeral, she had to hospitalize both her parents. How much can a person stand? I made Diane swear to me on the phone that I wasn't going to be laid off tomorrow the minute I set foot in the office. She said she was told this was all the layoffs for now. We're supposed to have a meeting with the VP who did the hatchet job tomorrow at 8:30. I'd get banned from the blogging world if I wrote the names I have for this idiot. Our department was five percent ahead of last year at this time in production and we lose a key staff member? Makes no sense. But this is coming from the man who never sets foot in our department and probably doesn't even know how to spell disability.

Big praise - Mom's body scan was normal! Thank you, God!

I'll write more tomorrow. But for now, keep us in your prayers.


Monday, July 6, 2009

Getting Better

There's nothing like three days off work to re-charge and feel better about life. Especially when you can do things you enjoy.

I spent a great deal of my time in the sewing room this holiday weekend. Thursday night I quilted four placemats which have languished in my UFO stack for months. I attached the binding and started the hand sewing the next day. The kit that I bought at the Lebanon quilt show last month was next on the hit list and I finished all the piecing on it. Since Joann's was having a 4th of July sale, I headed over there for a few items and found a comfort quilts book for 40 percent off. I raided my scrap bin and pieced together one of the patterns from that book on Saturday - very pleased with that!

When we had dinner with my sister-in-law, Karen, on Friday night, she mentioned they are returning to Haiti on a mission trip this October. She wants to especially support a sewing school. I asked her if she'd be interested in some materials and threads from my stash and she was real enthusiastic about that idea. I went through five of my stash bins and found A LOT of fabric that no longer suited my needs or likes. I had a ton of thread too that I don't use since I decided when I really got into quilting that I only want to use Guetterman for piecing. Imagine Karen's face when I lugged forty pounds of fabric and a two-gallon Ziploc bag of thread into her house!

Andrea, my brother and I went to the Reds game yesterday - boo, hiss they stink! But, I love going to their games nonetheless.

Michael's about the same - angry. He won't use his medicine or oxygen when he should. He went to work on Friday and I fully expected him to turn in his two week notice, but he chose not to for some reason. Friday morning was lovely for me - got up when I felt like getting out of bed, leisurely breakfast, sewing. I looked at the time close to 10:15 and started having palpitations when I realized it was nearly time for him to come home. Such a drastic change for me - not long ago, I couldn't WAIT to see him every day. I've decided to not fight back when he says hurtful things or criticize my actions - it creates too much tension. And that affects Andrea. She has done nothing to deserve that kind of atmosphere in her home.

The first part of this week is busy - guild meeting tonight, dinner out tomorrow, and a counseling appointment on Wednesday night after Michael's session with the new pulmonologist. I'll need another weekend by then!


Thursday, July 2, 2009

The Day After

If you want to read about sunshine, rainbows and happy times my suggestion to you is not to read any further on this posting. I'm writing today more as a means of therapy for myself and not to log or document my latest quilting achievements - there are none lately.

I'm deeply troubled by a conversation Michael and I had last night about his failing health. He insists that the only reason he hasn't stopped working is that I will make his life a living hell if he does. My focus needs to be on him enjoying his last days on earth. He claims I don't care about him the way I should. I repeatedly told him quit the stupid job then. But he won't because of the aforementioned perception. Oh, but he let it slip that there's a small life insurance policy that would be paid upon his death if he were still working at that time and he wants that to go to his kids. "I'll die at the dairy," he claimed.

For much of his tirade, I just stood there unable to respond to much of it. (I've never been one to verbalize quickly.)

"I worry about you," I calmly said, "Particularly about your soul."
"Your soul - what's going to happen to you after you die."
He laughed at that, " My soul is going to float back to England and the mountains."

He then continued that to start believing in God at this point is hypocritical and he's not going to even entertain discussions about it.

We talked about "useless" medical tests, even more "useless" doctor visits and the worst of all - the upcoming appointment with Social Security. "It's a bloody waste of time," he ranted. "I'll be dead before I see bean one."

With that, I responded that it would possibly benefit me and help with our expenses. That was surely the worst thing I could have said. I was "reminded" that my concentration needs to be on him, not on anything else.

"Aren't you worried about what's going to happen to me after you die?" I asked.
"No," he claimed, "Not at all."

I didn't know what to say or do at that point other than retreat to the sewing room. Ever try pressing clothing when your eyes are full of tears? I wouldn't recommend it.

Now, I don't blame him for feeling so self-centered and having a "woe is me" attitude. But the things he said to me were so off-base/wrong it hurt. And he had the nerve to ask me for a kiss when I returned to the bedroom. How is it possible to expect affection when you've just told me you don't care?

I read blogs written by other women who have lost or are losing their spouses and I'm impressed by their husbands' dignity and grace in facing the final good-byes. Obviously I cannot expect dignity, grace or caring from Michael. The only thing I can count on is myself and my inner strength to get through all this.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Another UFO Bites The Dust!

One of the benefits of accompanying Michael to his hospital and doctor visits is it affords me some time to get a bit of hand-sewing done. I finished the binding on four placemats on Friday whilst he was getting poked and prodded in cardiology and pulmonary medicine. These placemats have been basically done for two years and just needed binding.

We won't know the medical results of the tests more than likely until Michael's appointment on July 8. Michael is not anxious to know - he didn't want the tests in the first place. He's been difficult to deal with lately. I have to really pay attention to what I say and how it's said in order to avoid him getting angry. The tough part is I don't have a clue what sets him off. So, I've resigned myself to not talk a lot around him. It's a challenge since he and I have always been able to talk about anything and everything. My pals and Mom get to be my sounding boards more and more.

I don't want to return to the counselor I was seeing because of the expense and time involved for the appointments. Her office is 30 minutes away from home and the appointment hours force me to take time off work, which normally wouldn't bother me, but between Michael's appointments, my surgery, the upcoming appointment with social security, etc - I feel a lot of guilt about missing time at the office. Our church offers faith-based counseling that I may try and they have evening and weekend hours available.

My escape these days is quilting. I started the nine-patches for my boss' quilt and tidied up the sewing room this weekend. I went to the show at the Sharonville Convention Center, but honestly after NQA last Saturday, there wasn't much that intrigued or interested me. I found a cute cat fabric and purchased some more Lakeside charm packs.

Mom made it through her radiation and tests OK last week - now just waiting to hear back from her doctor about the findings. I like my Mom's attitude about all this - she places her trust squarely on God and her doctor, who claimed "I will get you cancer free!" What a team!

Happy Monday!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Thimbleberries Bargain

One of the new quilt stores in the area has a shelf in the back of their store for fabric marked down 60 percent. I happened to drop by on my lunch hour yesterday and found bargains too good to pass on from the Lakeside/Lodge line. I got seven yards of Thimbleberries fabric for $14! They're going to be incorporated into the retirement/autograph quilt for my boss since he's retiring to a lakeside cabin in Indiana. What good luck!

Phone call this morning from my gyn. The pathology report from Monday's D&C was benign, but she still thinks it would be prudent to perform the hysterectomy. I return for a follow-up on the 15th and we'll schedule it then.

I'm leaving work early to take Michael to Jewish Hospital for his pulmonary function tests and echocardiogram. He's still moaning that this is all a waste of time/ money. His philosophy is why find out if there is something else wrong. Why is it some people have this ignorance is bliss philosophy? My ex was the same way - he thought that if you ignore something long enough it will go away. I suppose I've always been one to tackle things head on, hence the conflict.

We're going to attempt to qualify Michael for social security disability. I contacted our congressional office a week ago to see if there was a way we could qualify him for ss despite him only having 24 credit hours earned in this country. (40 is the required minimum) Apparently, our congressman's aide discovered the US has an agreement with England that enables the US to accept hours earned in England in the calculations! We have an appointment on July 13 to start the process. Obtaining the appointment alone, was frustrating - they hung up on me once and it took nearly half an hour on the phone to get the appointment booked. Michael, of course, thinks this is a waste of time (familiar theme here!) I have a huge list of supporting documents to gather up in advance of the appointment, so it's a good thing that we see Dr. Dortin on the 8th. That'll help with the medical part.

Not much planned for the weekend - hair appointment tomorrow, the Sharonville quilt show, perhaps a movie. No complaints on that score - I like my weekends to be open with no firm plans. Get to bed early tonight. My tail is dragging a bit today since a massive thunderstorm went through the area at 2 this morning. Couldn't sleep through it - it was noisy - the power did briefly go off several times. So, when it came time to rise and shine for the morning workout, I hit the button and went back to sleep for an extra hour. I think I'd be forgiven in giving up one morning workout eh?

Have a wonderful weekend!