Sunday, January 21, 2007

Woohoo Cancer Free

Got the results back from my whole body scan and there is no sign of any cancer. So big woohoo there. I'd have been rather stunned if there had been, but I've certainly been wrong before. The doctor is waiting for the results of my recent blood tests before setting up my radioactive idodine treatment (to destroy any remaining thyroid tissue). Additionally, I'm back on synthetic thyroid so I should be getting some energy, tho it takes a few weeks. It's even a higher dosage than before, so maybe I won't be so shaky in the mornings.

I'm quilting on Hot Crazy Love - you can see the finished top above, which I completed in May 2006. These were blocks that I very easily could have made the same size, like Bonnie and I did with our recent crumb tops, but I wanted to play with a wonkier effect. These letters (L-O-V-E)were completely scrappy, not paying any attention to getting the letters dark and the backgrounds light, let alone the same color.

I'm quilting with orange colored quilting thread, outlining each letter and occasionally adding extra lines. Nothing exciting, but I like it. This is an easier way to quilt than an allover design, where I'd be hitting that many more seams. I'll do freehand fans all the way around the border where it will really show up gorgeously.

Cats have settled down and pretty much lost any fear or intimidation. Pokey is trying to climb into my Dad's lap to see what he's eating and curls up by his leg to sleep. Dad got to pet Howler last night too.

Book recommendation: Christopher Moore's A Dirty Job about a man who becomes Death's "Santa's Helper". I thoroughly enjoyed it. Try reading the excerpt on the link above and see what you think - I was totally sucked in.

Movie recommendation: Thank You for Smoking a very funny, black comedy. I loved it's anti-PC-ness and the value of thinking for yourself.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Hanging in There

I've been making extra efforts to take photos of the cats, so that I can email them to my husband, who misses them terribly. I am getting better photos with the strong natural light -- the flash doesn't go off in their eyes. I thought this portrait of Habibi turned out pretty well.

I am thoroughly exhausted, but today is my whole body scan, which is checking to see if I have any cancer showing up in certain tissues that are associated with the thyroid, like the lungs and lymphatic system. I think that's what it does anyway.

My folks got here safely, I'm thrilled to report. We haven't gotten to go and do anything fun, but it has been great just to spend time with them and luxuriate in having meals made for me and dishes magically done. Unfortunately, my (step)Mom had cataract surgery on one of her eyes in November and has been having a problem with it. She goes to the eye doctor today. My poor Dad, surrounded by invalids.

Pokey and Lily are pretty much back to normal, but Howler and Bibi are still spending far too much time under my bed. My Dad has been taking the allergy med Zyrtec and hasn't had a problem being around all of them - woohoo.

I finished the quilting on my penguin quilt and have started quilting on a new project. I'll show that another day. Not that I've gotten far - haven't even picked it up in days.

Ya'all take care. Thanks for all the comments and support.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007


These blocks are all from my crumb top. Yes, I suspect when we were each choosing our blocks, I went for the ones with the brightest colors and Bonnie went for contrast. But trust me, she has lots of brights in hers too.

I'm with Mary, I like these crumb quilts that have hints of blocks as well as the letters. Before we started piecing I did a lot of looking at crumb quilts, deciding what worked for me and what didn't. I loved how Bonnie's Best Things in Life went together - one of the best quilts ever. What appeals to me in that one is the orphan blocks -- or bits of real blocks -- mixed in with the crumbies. And I liked the use of sashing rather than alternating plain blocks with pieced blocks.

In this particular pic, there's a kaleidescope, letters, and two stars.

Look at the wild mix of fabrics in here. I loved going through Bonnie's scrapbag and hearing about where some of the fabrics had come from, what quilts she'd used them in. I certainly remember swiss dots and little hearts from the 70s and my Mom's early fabric purchases. I love the little foot featured in this pic. Bonnie got the block that had the hand - very fitting for a massage therapist.

This kaleidescope with black, pink and lime was one of my very favorite blocks. It's still a kaleidescope even tho it's wonky. That fabric with the black background and vivid hearts actually came out of Bonnie's scraps, not mine. She has brights in her stash, believe me.

Love the broken dishes here.

I included this particular pic to show you one of the blocks I was calling "kites" (the lower block). Bonnie started with an irregularly shaped scrap and just sewed pieces around it all log cabiny although it's hard to tell that after it gets cut down to size.

I'd never have been able to come up with the fabrics in this quilt on my own, believe me. But if you want to do this kind of project, swap scraps with friends, go through the garbage cans after sewing classes (I am amazed of what large chunks of fabric people will throw away) and let people know that you will take any scrap that will sew up to half an inch (or whatever).

Enough of that. I'm doing great so long as I sit still. As soon as I start moving, it's another story. Wheezing, dizzy, leg pain and just hard to move. I feel like I'm 80-years-old with emphysema and likely to fall down at any moment. I'm surprised at how awake and alert I am - I expected to be sleepy, but that's not as big of an issue as all these other things. I have to make my third trip to the mailbox for the day and that will be it for exercise today.

On the good news side, I am getting a bit of quilting down. Hurrah.

To clarify things, hubby isn't actually cooking in Paris, except for ramen noodles and eggs. He's discovered the shop Picard which sells frozen meals (which sound pretty gourmet) and having wonderful lunches at the cafeteria at work. He has found the boulangerie (bakery) as well. He'll have the neighborhood all figured out by the time I get there.

I've worn myself out now. Don't get concerned if I don't pop up much over the next while. I'll be fine, just not real active. My whole body scan is scheduled for the 17th and I should be able to do the radioactive idoine nuker after that. Sometime after that I get to go back onto my thyroid meds and boy and I looking forward to that. Ya'all take care.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Crumby Quilt Top

This is my version of the Crumby Quilt top. You can compare it to Bonnie's here. I am thinking of just bordering it in 4" of black fabric when I get back to my stash, I think that will make the center punch that much more.

I didn't worry at all about where the posts ended up in relation to the 4-patch block. When things got too big somewhere, I just chopped off the extra. I love how working with all the bulk and not being too fussy led to some bendy bits in the blocks, which wouldn't happen if we had really stressed over the piecing and ironed after every seam and basically been finicky. Utility quilts aren't meant to be finicky.

I am laughing at myself as I write this, because compared to Bonnie I AM finicky. I liked having the scraps and strips ironed before using them and rather than sewing on a scrap that is all uneven, I'd take it over to the cutting board and make a clean edge with my rotary cutter. I wouldn't make it a 90 degree angle or anything, but straight. Not Bonnie, she just makes it work - one reason she's so productive and her blocks are so much fun. I wouldn't have thought that I'd ever turn out to be the anally retentive sewer in any group situation.

I was trying to explain in my post the other day about how we started out with an advantage of having pre-sewn strings to use. Well these are what I was talking about in the picture below. They range in width to a maximum of 1.5". You can see how they were used in the bottom right of the block above and in the middle of the top two blocks. That 4-patch block above is 6" finished. 6"-ish anyway.

By the way, this is the rest of the picture from my most recent post. Pokey was stretching backwards to say hello to Howler. Howler was named completely and totally because of all the noise he made on the way home from the vets, which was our initial introduction. A friend who takes care of feral cats had caught two cats and the black one just moaned and squalled at the office, in the car and in my apartment. My initial plan was just to keep just the friendly sweet orange kitty (Habibi) but the vet thought the two cats were brothers and brother Howler needed a weeks' worth of antibiotics. Well surely we could keep him for a week to give him his meds... Famous last words.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Feeling Good

Yesterday I was just lagging. Tired and dragging and sluggish but even so I got my crumb quilt pieced together, sans border. Haven't downloaded the photos yet, so instead you get a picture of my lazy Pokey girl.

Today I did much better. Did some hand quilting (actually feel like I'm going to finish Merry Penguins soon) while watching Desperate Housewives Season Two and While You Were Sleeping - one of my favorite movies ever. Washed and ironed a load of fabric and got started on cutting strips from the fabric that I have been buying since I got back to the states in Sept. Had so much fun piecing with Bonnie that I want to keep playing in the utility quilt vein, even though I don't have crumbs and I don't have enough fabric for the quilt to really be scrappy. Gotta do the best I can. It's going to be fun and bright and intense.

My poor husband has gotten saddled with all the work of moving into the new Paris apartment (heh heh heh). He's gotten everything unpacked now and some lamps to brighten the place up, so it's starting to come together. There are several butcher shops in the area and now he's found the fromagerie (cheese shop). I'm really pleased that he's been reading the Les Halles Cookbook by Anthony Bourdain (which is a real hoot - Bourdain's abrasive personality really shines through) and getting excited about cooking with all the fresh ingredients there.

Howler is yelling at me for attention. He was so quiet (mostly) while Bonnie was here... Guess I better go stand over him at the food bowl and give him some loving. Ya'all take care.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Happy New Year

Unfortunately the Crumby Retreat is over - I dropped Bonnie off at the airport far too early this morning. I can hardly complain though because we had one heck of a great time.

I have a newfound respect for Bonnie. She just sits at that machine and sews and sews and sews. I can't physically do it. I can't mentally do it, but she sure can. So when you look at these blocks, realize that Bonnie made probably 80% of them. I pressed and trimmed to size and puttered. I made all the letters -- our initials for both of us and several words for Bonnie -- but got bored having to think about what I was making while she was just having fun. We both ended up making some stars tho - they add a little spark here and there.

When you look at these blocks, realize that we had a head start using Bonnie's scrap bags. She had all sorts of pre-cut triangles in there as well as pre-sewn rectangles that were leftover from someone else's project. Those really allowed us to make complicated blocks without having to do the itsy bitsy work ourselves.

We ended up with 168 3.5" blocks EACH by the end of the day on Dec 31st. On the morning of 1 January we both started sewing the blocks into 4-patches. I looked around and Bonnie had all of her 4-patches complete:

while I was still sewing them into groups of two:

Bonnie with her 4-patches. She did a bit of arranging, but not much. I love how her shirt echoes the bright greens in the blocks.

Here she has her sashing and posts laid out. In the top row you can see the "m" she made ages ago and threw out of a diferent project, but that I used for the word HOME. Our initial blocks are here in the lower right of the quilt top.

Bonnie has an unusual method of sewing her blocks together that she calls webbing. The blocks all end up hanging together by threads. She calls it webbing. Some of this has been seamed, but some hasn't - look at the gaps:

She got the whole quilt top together on the 1st. Well, except for whatever final border she decides to put on. I still haven't gotten my blocks together and that's even after she generously cut all my sashing and posts. I also chose red and purple, but my fabrics are more intense than hers. What with bulk, bias and a few blocks that were almost large enough, my 4-patches differ in size by more than a quarter of an inch. I'm sewing the sashes and posts on and slicing off any extra material from there, rather than from the blocks.

You'll have to wait for another day though to see the completed tops.

Amazingly enough, Bonnie made friends with screwy Howler. By yesterday all the cats were behaving normally - not off hiding under a bed. Not that Pokey ever hid - she won Bonnie over pretty quickly.

By the way, the Bernette and I did NOT get along. I don't know if it was the machine or how I was threading it, but the upper thread kept breaking over and over and over again. I was about in tears. So took it back and ended up getting the basic Bernina I really wanted anyway. Sewing on a good machine is such a dream - it just purrs. What a difference it made.

Now I have to get back to the real world and take care of appointments and overdue library books. Sigh. Hope to get the top finished today tho (the center part, not the border). I need to buy a shower curtain to mail to my husband, because he hates the French one he bought. There is a new quilt shop I haven't explored down there near the Target.... Hmmm, maybe I can be a bad girl and have some fun after all today.

I'm feeling well, just cranky that I'm not allowed any dairy on my low-iodine diet. I neeeeed that milk in my tea. It is forcing me to eat healthier since vegetables are the one thing there are no restrictions on.

My husband has spent a lot of time getting boxes unpacked and furniture arranged in the new apartment. He says I have a lot of quilts. That's so surprising, isn't it. I do feel sorry for him. Usually he gets to go off to work while I mess around with trying to find electrical adapters and things like that, but not this time.

Happy New Year everyone!