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Thursday, August 07, 2014

Forever My Favorite

We drove east on I-80 one Saturday in late spring of 2001. Exit 54, north to Elk Horn, Iowa. I put down a deposit months ago and we were on our way to choose a puppy! It was a unanimous decision: runt of the litter, small enough to fit on the palm of Al's hand, too young to go home with us. About a month later, Alyssa and I picked her up and she became part of our family.

"Why is she your favorite?" they asked.

  • She always does what I tell her.
  • She never asks for money.
  • She never rolls her eyes at me.

That last sentence always said to their backs as they turned away, rolling their eyes.

"She" is Casey, a Miniature Schnauzer. Named after Sean Casey, who played first base for the Cincinnati Reds.

I don't know if I can express how important Casey was to our family. She was a beautiful dog who didn't know she was a dog. She and I went on long walks along the West Papio Trail. She loved to chase rabbits. I watched her run flat out, low to the ground. Hundreds of times after hundreds of bunnies. She never caught a single one. One time she ran over a baby bunny, frozen in place. Neither one of them knew what to do! She learned to sit when a biker passed us and often sat before being told when she heard the whine of tires before I saw or heard the bike. She didn't like to interact with other dogs when I stopped to talk with other dog walkers. They were dogs, she was people.

In 2010, Casey was diagnosed with immune-mediated thrombocytopenia. I was one of those people who judged people who spent lots of money on medical care for their pets. Suddenly, I was one of them. I may have actually said "I don't care what it costs, just fix her". If I didn't say it out loud, I was thinking it. She tore her ACL in 2013 and I carried her up and down stairs for 3 months after her surgery.

She was my faithful companion, happy being with me. She followed me all over the house, always wanting to be in the same room. She was a good traveler, riding in the back seat to Ohio and Arizona many times. My Mom, who didn't like animals in the house, allowed that Casey was ok.

Casey wasn't perfect. She chewed the rungs on every kitchen chair we owned. She chewed through a cardboard box, then through the box and ate half a box of Thin Mints. She got into the trash. Scattered it over the floor. Every. Single. Day. We ended up using a plastic bag in the sink as a garbage can so it would be out of her reach. Friends and family got used to our weird trash location. Casey didn't get yelled at.

The first Saturday in June, Casey had a nosebleed. A trip to the emergency animal clinic. Test after test. I don't care what it costs, just fix her. We went to a specialist to do scans of her head and GI tract. Dr. Miller and I decided that if he found something in her nasal scan, he would not do any further testing. You have to pay up front. I knew it was bad when they gave me a refund for tests not done. Casey had a solid carcinoma in her right sinus cavity. Terminal. No treatment. Weeks to a couple of months. Just take her home and keep her comfortable. You'll know when it is time.

Bullshit. She was supposed to be with us for a few more years. Thirteen years was not enough. I don't know if 20 years would have satisfied me. And "you'll know when it is time". That is bullshit. Pure and simple. I agonized over it. Did a really bad day mean it was time? Did a good day give me too much hope for more time?

In late July, I didn't know if it was time. I knew that both Casey and I were suffering. Alyssa and I took Casey to the vet to say goodbye. I miss you, Casey.

Forever My Favorite

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Becky & Jan & Baptist Fans!

I spent yesterday morning with my friend Jan, sharing my skills in quilting Baptist Fans. She brought chocolate chip cookies (yummy!) and contagious enthusiasm. My sister Becky supplied a bright, scrappy Halloween quilt top and I contributed my Avante and Groovy Boards. The photo doesn't do a good job of showing off the fabrics :(

Baptist Fans is a very traditional hand quilting pattern that has been adapted to continuous line machine quilting. I call the pattern Baptist Fans, have heard it called Methodist Fans. I wonder if there are quilters out there calling it the Seventh Day Adventist Fan or the Buddhist Fan.

We used Groovy Boards, made by HandiQuilter. They are grooved boards. Duh. The trick when using Groovy Boards (or pantographs) is aligning them correctly so the quilting pattern is straight and even with the quilt. Once the boards and the quilt are set up, a stylus fits down into the groove to guide the machine. Presto! Perfect Baptist Fan quilting! It is really mindless quilting, but the final product is fabulous! Quilting 101: Combine straight piecing lines with curved quilting lines.

You can see the quilting lines very nicely on this shot of the back:

Click here to see MORE photos of this quilt on Flickr.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Congratulations on Your Wonderful Website!!

I received an interesting email yesterday. The email was from a teacher (Miss Cassandra Smith) who said her students used my website, DellaJane to study the internet. (Carrot!) Someone recognizes how wonderful my website is!! They particularly loved my links page.(Warm Fuzzies!) What's not to love? Check it out yourself if you don't believe me!

One of her best & brightest students (Samantha) found an article about making quilts. Of course it would be a good addition to my already wonderful resource page. Would I please add a link to this article on my links page so Samantha and the other students could see a tangible reward for their hard work? (Appeal to my human nature to help others.) As an additional carrot, she told me Samantha was going to get extra credit points for her efforts.

I'll be the first one to admit I'm in love with my website. But the links page? Please! What is fascinating about a list of links? Because I didn't fall off the turnip truck yesterday, I checked out Samantha's recommended resource, the "make a quilt" page. The article had been posted one day before and was a very broad overview of quilting terms. NOT the first page I would recommend to someone who wants to know more about making quilts! Or the second. Or the third. The web page with the article was on a site selling personalized gifts. If this was the best resource Samantha could find, she wasn't working hard enough!

I checked out the school web site link in the teacher's signature. At first glance it appeared to be a valid school website. Further exploration had me doubting this. No physical address, no staff names, just vague mission statements, directions for picking up your child after school, uniform description. The "News and Events" page had a paragraph about parking lot safety. Really? That's the biggest (only?) thing going on? Red flags flying everywhere! Private schools tell you where they are. They tell you where to buy the uniforms. They brag about their faculty and include extensive bios. They list emails for contacting the (over-qualified) staff who will shape your child's life. They show pictures of the buildings. Their website shares all the cultural and mind-expanding events they've held in the past and will hold in the future. They ask for money!! They offer scholarships to not-quite-well-off-enough parents are wise enough to consider their school. This "school" website had none of these.

Final Analysis: This is a scam. A good scam. A victimless scam. But a scam nevertheless. This personalized gifts website is trying to get inbound links from reputable sites to increase their own ratings in Google searches. Sorry, Miss Cassandra Smith. Not from me. Momma didn't raise no fools.

Sunday, January 01, 2012

New Year, New Resolutions Plans

Happy New Year! Welcome to 2012! I sat down this morning about 3 am and wrote down what I wanted to do this year. Not a list of resolutions, but a map to guide me, with suggestions for getting from Point A to Point B.

1. Take better care of myself by exercising every day, drinking more H2O and less caffeine, eat a healthier diet by eliminating most of the sugar and adding more fruits and vegies. Maybe this is the year I start a yoga class!

2. Be creative for at least 10 minute every day. Sew, quilt, play the piano, draw and sketch, write. Every. Single. Day.

3. Manage the money. Eat out less, cook at home more. Follow the budget. Think before spending.

4. Grow DellaJane. Update website, find and sell unique items. Find creative ways to advertise. Keep things organized, from business paperwork to items for sale.

5. Be more involved in the world around me. Be less of a hermit. Write and call and email friends and family. Participate in the groups I already belong to.

6. Knit a pair of socks. I have instructions, tools and yarn. Just do it!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Uncharted Water

Our lives are journeys, sometimes exciting and wonderful, sometimes ugly, always a trip into the unknown. As a child, you don't think about where you are headed. You climb into the front seat of the roller coaster, arms held high above your head and scream with pleasure and fear on the ride!

As a young adult, the journey is an adventure, something to anticipate: moving out of your childhood home, roommates, responsibilities, new jobs, relationships. And don't we always think we have an idea of what is coming? Sometimes we have a plan. Like me, many of us were winging it! No matter our approach, we are all traveling through uncharted water, dealing with life as it comes at us.

Even if we had a plan, our lives often (usually?) take a different course. A sister lost her husband in a climbing accident. Her life today is completely different than what she and Dave planned. She is back in college, navigating uncharted water.

Another friend's divorce moved her away from a job at her husband's company to one working with disabled children. She has embraced the changes in her life and made her journey a positive adventure. Last week at dinner, she talked about her current activities and future plans. Completely different from when we met over 15 years ago!

My friend Kim's life has taken an abrupt turn. Without warning, she is truly navigating uncharted water. This quilt will be along with her on the journey. Hang on, Kim. Remember that you are not alone. I hope that once in a while, you can release your grip on the rail, raise your hands high, and scream with pleasure.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

I Should Call Them "Marker" Bags

About two weeks ago, Becky H bought a pattern for crayon bags while we were on a shop hop. We got together last week to make the bags as Easter gifts for our grandchildren. I should call them marker bags instead of crayon bags, because I put washable Crayola © Markers in them. Whatever I call them, we had fun making them.

Choose fabrics: Zoe got frogs, Kyra got smiling suns, Cassady got pencils. Linings for all are a cute black bug fabric, which I bought for $2/yard at a quilt shop End of Year sale. That is "I'll take the rest of the bolt" pricing! Pockets and handles are bright checks for the girls and a red/blue plaid for Cassady.

Construction started at my house. We loaded the lining fabric on my Avante, layered batting and outer fabric and quilted. I did simple grids, Becky got fancy with curlicues! It took longer to load the machine than to quilt, but it is SO much faster than quilting on a DSM! (Have I said how much I love my Avante lately?)

We headed to Becky's house, where we cut and sewed. I realized how smart I had inadvertently been when choosing my pocket fabrics. Always choose fabrics with straight lines when you want to sew straight lines on them!! The original design has two rows of pockets on one side, to hold 5" crayons. I modified it for the longer markers and put one row of pockets on each side. And I cut the bag pieces 12" per side instead of 10½ and 11½ like the pattern said. Question: how many times would I have had to measure those pieces if I cut them as directed? Answer: every time I picked them up!! After we sewed the pockets (Becky had to mark hers), we serged each side of the bags. (Sidebar: I AM going to buy a serger soon!). Becky's bags, cut to pattern directions, were just a tad small for the coloring books she had.

We thought we would get them completed in one day, but at quitting time, we still had to make the handles, then attach them to the bags. No problem, just an hour's work tomorrow morning, then off to the post office.

Day 2: Easier said than done! I didn't like the directions given for the handles, but I followed them. I know faster and easier ways for next time! I broke two needles sewing through the thickness of the handles and the bags. Becky broke six. On the 3rd bag, I figured out a better way. When the bags were done, I pulled out the 20 marker sets and loaded up the bags. The plaid fabric pockets were on the small side, which meant the bag was distorted after all the markers were placed in the pockets. Remember to sew at least 3/4" pockets next time.....

Search for the blank books I want to put inside. One hour later, give up on finding the blank books. And I don't have anything else to put in the bags. Darn it. Take pictures. Write each child a quick note, print shipping labels, drop them at post office. (USPS assures me they were delivered on Saturday, BEFORE Easter!!)

Day 3: Printer needs cartridge replaced. Since I'm already down there, pull out everything to dust. Find the blank books. &%#*% Again! *#&($%($!!

Things to modify in pattern:
1. Cut bags square.
2. Choose pocket fabric with straight lines about 1" apart.
3. Make pockets longer for markers.
4. Make handles the simple way.
5. Sew handles onto bag BEFORE hemming top of bag.
6. Keep track of blank books.

I'll have to make more bags so I can use all the things I learned!

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Opening Day Should Be in April

Friday? March? Really? The season isn't long enough already? Let's not wait for the first Monday in April. Next thing you know, they'll introduce some stupid rule to let another player hit for the pitcher. Oh. Yeah. That stupid DH rule.

Well. At least the Reds are playing at home. Some traditions haven't been throw out. Yet. Versus the Brewers. Not a made-for-tv matchup. I realize that. And the game isn't on ESPN. ESPN, you suck! Who cares about drawing a large audience? I'm a REDS FAN! And like the other five Reds fans in Nebraska, I can't see a Reds game on tv. EXCEPT ON OPENING DAY! Thanks, ESPN, for screwing up the entire start of the season for me. You suck!
I'm going to drown my baseball sorrows by watching a triple-header. And while I watch, I'm going to work on my Baseball Bucket List. The baseball Fan's Bucket List, 162 Things You Must See, Do, Get & Experience Before You Die, by Robert Santelli & Jenna Santelli. I know I can check off a bunch of them. I've seen Major League and The Natural, collected baseball cards, kept score, owned a glove. And more from the list. And today, I'm going to document those. I'm going to remember Pacific Coast League games and learning to keep score in high school. I'm going to make some plans to read some baseball books. I'm going to wallow in baseball, since I can't watch my beloved Reds play.

Play Ball!