Saturday, April 27, 2013

Another To-Do List But I Need a How-To List

Hunter Stars and Pinwheels using HSTs, my
latest obsession... And note the coffee theme. My
latest addiction....
I seem to spend more time making To-Do lists than actually doing the things on the lists.

This morning I decided that this is the list I will use. I will print it out and post it and look at it and take great delight in crossing things off of it. Major projects, not just -- brush my teeth (check); wash the dishes (check)....

I would put things on my list such as:

  paint the wall in the entryway

  clean out the garage

  organize the things in the garage
  finish the table for the patio

  clean up the office and make it less cluttered

Notice the fancy lettering? The symbol/bullet before each entry. Yes, I took great pains to spruce up this To-Do List. I filled a page with major projects I needed to accomplish and some had to do with quilt making and charity quilts and sharing with others.

But the last entry is perhaps the most difficult for me.
  give myself permission to have nice things and to have things the way that pleases me…
I see my husband losing his battle. An inch here, a breath there. Everyone who sees him these days say, "Looks like you've lost weight." I'd be pleased if they said that to me. But for Derrol, it means that he's losing the battle. More muscle has faded from his frame and with it his strength. By evening each day he quietly says, "I wish I could stop hurting."

And yet we are so fortunate. At least he can still talk, unlike too many of our friends who are dealing with ALS that hit them in the throat and stole their voice, their ability to swallow and their joy of food and eating. We still have food, although choking and dropping food sometimes interferes. And we have a kind of communication that begins with him mumbling something. I respond with a, "I didn't understand a word of that." And him making great effort to enunciate or do hand movements o
r roll his eyes or point until I understand. Every movement, every word is laborous and he quickly becomes short of breath.

He's most comfortable in bed with a ventilator helping him breathe.

Theo, our dear kitten, has adapted well to our strange lifestyle. Better than I have, because I seem to always be on pause. He snuggles and cuddles and keeps his claws tucked away. He seems to enjoy the afghan I knitted almost as much as Derrol...

I start a quilt project and wander away from it, feeling like there is something else I SHOULD be doing.

I begin a strenuous project such as painting the floor of the screened porch and see in his eyes the pain and anguish. He was the one who did such things -- before the ALS. He was the power and strength. WE worked together on all things. But now he watches and sees me struggle and do things 'not quite right' and frustration and anger builds. He has no way to escape his demons. No way to make his body do what he wants it to. He's trapped in this flesh and bone overcoat that may as well be cement.

So I tend to make To-Do lists and sneak around to do things that will give him pain and make him feel his disease even more -- not just feel it in the cramping muscles and weakness and choking and inability to breathe -- but in his soul. How can I take pleasure in creating a beautiful quilt, the joy of creating. How can I enjoy the symmetry of a room cheerfully decorated and inviting when I know that he will never see it because his power chair will not fit through the doorway or make the turns from hallway into the room?

So, before I can accomplish the long string of projects on my To Do list, I must first find a way to shake off the lethargie and survivors' guilt and continue living. How does one even consider life when all around me are the signs of dying? How indeed. I need a To-Do list to show me what things I can do, steps I can take to join the living again and stop waiting to die. A How-To List.  How indeed....

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Please Help: Chance to Create and Help Find a Cure for ALS

Sorry for the short notice. Just received this today:
Here's a Disappearing Nine-Patch Quilt I've been
working on to donate to Hopes and Dreams Quilts


We have some exciting news to share with you, and while it is quick notice, we think you might want to participate. The Hopes and Dreams Quilt Challenge for ALS has been given the opportunity to have a month-long celebration of moms and the special women in our lives beginning the first weekend in May - just in time for Mother’s Day! The Richard Stravitz 30th Street Gallery on Pacific Avenue at the beach will feature quilts sent in from all over the United States to benefit people living with ALS (known by many as Lou Gehrig’s Disease), as well as raise much needed funds for ALS Research In addition to the quilts, there will be artwork capturing the loving essence of women in the form of oil paintings, watercolors, jewelry, mixed media, hand blown glass and sculpture.

We know this is very quick notice – but we thought it would be nice to have an array of small quilted art to sell with 100% of the proceeds benefiting ALS Research. In particular we thought it would be nice to have a selection of fabric postcards that visitors to the beach area could purchase and mail to their mothers, grandmothers, aunts, sisters and even best friends.

If you are interested in participating in this opportunity and would like to donate a small quilted item and/or fabric postcard(s), we would love to have them by April 28. For every small quilted item and/or fabric postcard received, you will be entered to win one full case of assorted Quilters Dream Batting.

You can drop off your fabric postcards and small quilt items at the following locations:

A Different Touch Fabric Hut - give to Shilo on Mon – Thurs; Saturday (no Friday)

1107 S. Military Highway 2340 E. Little Creek Road

Chesapeake, VA 23320 Norfolk, VA 23518

Nancy’s Calico Patch SEW EZ What’s Your Stitch ‘n Stuff

21 Hidden Shopping Center 2858 Airline Blvd. 5350 Kemps River Drive Ste. 104

Newport News, VA 23606 Portsmouth, VA 23701 Virginia Beach, VA 23464

Quilters Dream Batting

589 Central Drive

Virginia Beach, VA 23454

Hopes and Dreams for a Cure

Art, Jewelry and Quilts Celebrating Moms

Entry Form

We thank you for participating in this opportunity to help find a cure for ALS by providing small quilted items and/or fabric postcards that will be on display and for sale during the month of May at the Richard Stravitz 30th Street Fine Art Gallery in Virginia Beach, Virginia.

Please attach this Entry Form to the back of your donation so that we may have a complete list of individuals who are graciously giving of their time, talents and treasures to help raise much needed funds for ALS Research (known by many as Lou Gehrig’s Disease). Each donation will be entered into a drawing for one full case of assorted Quilters Dream Batting.

Item Donated: _____________________________________________________________________________________

Name: ____________________________________________________________________________________________

Phone: ___________________________________________________________________________________________

Address: __________________________________________________________________________________________

City: _________________________________________________ State: ________________ Zip: _________________

Email: ____________________________________________________________________________________________

Description of your quilt or postcard: ___________________________________________________________________


I agree that my quilt and/or postcard become the sole property of the Hopes & Dreams Quilt Challenge and may be photographed, displayed and sold for the purpose of raising much needed funds for ALS Research:

Signature: _____________________________________________ Date: _________________________________
More about the disease:

It was in the summer of 1939 that a rare disease called Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) was given a national voice. Baseball legend, Lou Gehrig, stood on the field at Yankee Stadium on July 4 and delivered one of the most memorable speeches in American history, announcing to the world that "today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth." Less than two years later, at the age of 38, Lou Gehrig, died of ALS.

Seven decades there is still no treatment or cure and even though ALS is one of the most common neurological diseases, the cause of ALS remains a mystery. What is known is that ALS is on the rise… with as many patients being diagnosed with ALS as MS, but ALS is considered 100% fatal. USA military veterans, particularly those deployed during the Gulf War, have been especially vulnerable to ALS. Our veterans are approximately twice as likely to develop ALS, a disorder that affects and destroys the function of nerves and muscles – while usually leaving its victim’s sense of touch/feeling and intelligence intact.

"Studies show that there is approximately a 66%-percent greater chance of our military veterans being diagnosed with ALS," says Kathy Thompson, founder of the non-profit Hopes & Dreams, Inc., and mother to son, Josh Thompson, who is living with ALS. "Our brave men and women of our military fight on the battlefield yet way too often come home to fight an unbeatable enemy known as ALS. Not only are more military veterans being diagnosed with ALS, we are seeing so many more athletes and younger men and women, including children, being diagnosed with this cruel and devastating disease that has no known cure," adds Thompson.

Thompson knows all about ALS. Her 32 year- old son Josh was diagnosed with the disease in 2007. In an effort to honor her son and to keep any other mother from witnessing the daily devastation of this disease that progressively destroys all muscle movement in the body, Thompson created Hopes and Dreams, Inc., a 501(c)3 non-profit focused on funding ALS Research.

In May, the Richard Stravitz 30 Street Gallery in Virginia Beach will host a month-long exhibit and sale to help Thompson find a cure. The Hopes and Dreams for a Cure for ALS art and quilt exhibit will celebrate moms and the women in our lives by featuring a collection of fine art, jewelry, and quilts that expresses the beauty and nurturing spirit of moms everywhere.

The Gallery will showcase works by master artists in watercolor, oil painting, hand blown glass, sculpture, textiles and jewelry. Gallery owner and award-winning sculptor Richard Stravitz will be donating a portion of the sale of the artwork and jewelry to ALS Research.

"I have had the unfortunate opportunity to witness this cruel disease first hand in the lives of friends and loved ones who are struggling to walk, talk, eat and breathe on a daily basis," says Richard Stravitz. "Having been touched by their strength and will to live, I want to honor them and thousands of others by helping to raise funds so that a cure can be found through research."

The Gallery will also be filled with colorful, exquisitely detailed quilts donated by women across the USA to raise money for a cure for ALS. The Hopes and Dreams Quilts are a national exhibit of hand and machine quilted wall hangings and bed quilts, many made and donated by family members and friends of people living with ALS.

"Quilters are an extremely generous community and the Hopes and Dreams Quilts are a present to all of us fighting for a cure, " says Thompson. "This exhibit is an opportunity to find a lovely gift for moms and the women in our lives knowing that 100% of the proceeds from the sales of quilts, as well as lovely artist painted cards and fabric postcards specifically made for this month-long celebration, benefits ALS Research."

The Hopes and Dreams for a Cure for ALS exhibit and sale opens Saturday, May 4 and runs through Saturday, June 1st at the Richard Stravitz 30th Street Gallery, 30th & Pacific Avenue in Virginia Beach. The gallery will be open on Mother’s Day, Sunday, May 12th.

For more information, visit 
or call the Richard Stravitz 30th Street Gallery at (757) 961-7509 or Quilters Dream Batting at (757) 463-3264.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Theo, Yes I Do Adore This Sweetie!

Note that dear Theo is helping me at the keyboard and is
pointing to a DVD made by Kathy McNeil regarding
applique. A really good and easy to follow DVD, by
the way!
Yes, I am rather obsessed with our new kitten. We haven't had a kitten in the house for almost a decade! So this is almost like being a grandma! He can do no wrong. (Almost).  He comes running and jumps in my arms. He cuddles against my neck and purrs, relaxing and totally trusting me. He noses me and pats me and comes toward me rather than running away. He listens. He minds! (Most of the time.) He really likes to be with both of us and has assigned himself a long list of responsibilities (3 a.m. wake up call -- we're working to change that one). Also he wrestles my husband's shoes into submission, oversees the getting up and getting to bed process for him, and stands guard at the sink to make sure he properly brushes his teeth. I don't know how we ever got along without Theo!

Theo also knows when I need a hug, when I'm nodding off at the keyboard and need wakened up, and although a very quiet cat, he will meow if he has lost track of me.

Theo is a sweetheart and I've posted several photos of him on Facebook.

Today I posted a favorite photo of him in his sweet little basket with, yes, it is hand knitted, blanket. It is rather nostalgic because I fear that he's moving into a new phase of his life where he will be spending more time in his clubhouse.

Theo in his little basket on the fireplace mantle (BIG mantle) with
his handknit blanket (same pattern as I used for Alexa)
Yes, my little man has decided that he really REALLY likes a box in the laundry room and has adopted it as his own.

Here's the laundry room club house.
And in reference to last night's blog about the missing ball... it is still missing! Not a sign of it! Tonight I will try to make an even better ball for him, maybe I'll tether it to something. I wonder if I could put some microchip in it, a GPS device so I could track it down.... Maybe a bit extreme....

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Theo and the mystery of the missing ball

Between my quilt adventures as a writer, fiction writer, and even making a few things of my own, I knit.

Here's a photo of my new great great grand niece Alexa wrapped in the blanket I knit for her and modeling the crocheted rose I made to decorate the gift box.

Tonight I crocheted.

It has been awhile, but with hook in hand, I carefully followed the directions to make a little single crocheted ball for our new little cat, Theo. It took me a few starts to get it right and then I'm not sure I kept accurate track of the rounds. But on final inspection it was mostly round. I need to stuff it, but I couldn't wait to show Theo.

He was excited!

I threw it on the bed where my husband was lying. Theo quickly made his way to the bed and made a beeline for the little ball. And then with it firmly in his jaws he jumped off the bed, batted it around the room and then carried it off to another part of the house.

I truly think Theo was a soccer star in another life. And perhaps a cat burgler because he burgled that ball and I have not seen a hint of it since he took off with it.

Perhaps it will show up tomorrow and I can take a photo. But, in the meantime, if you go to Ravelry and plug in crocheted cat ball, they have free instructions to make your own. The gold ball by Emily Premise Conclusion. I used the instructions for the smallest ball.

I also am moving forward with my half-square triangles project. And I am determined to make an easy-peasy quilt for the guest room. I'm terrible at picking out colors to use, so I am using black and white prints in a very easy eight-inch square nine-patch design for about 3/4ths of the quilt. Then I plan to applique (probably fuse) a giant yellow flower on the lower right corner of the bed that will cover almost all of the remaining quarter of the bed. That's the plan. Hopefully I can actually do it. Especially since I sent for more fabric today. Eh-hem. No need to mention that to my husband. He'll find out soon enough when the credit card bill arrives.....

I have a couple of items to mention, but it will be in the next blog. It is almost midnight now and I'm fading fast.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Half-Square-Triangle Star and Update on This and That

Hunter's Star made with half-square triangles
Are you still there?

I know I have taken forever to post to this blog, but here I am, trying to get back in the saddle again -- so to speak.

And SURPRISE! I actually made a quilt square of my own! As you can see it is the Hunter Star, but this one has a fun trick to it for those of us who appreciate success without too much challenge.

Half-square triangles (HST) make this easy peasy. And there are so many easy ways to make HST that you might be interested in trying various techniques.

The HST technique that I used is featured on an easy to follow video by Missouri Quilt Company and it makes me feel so clever. It is even easier if you use the pre-cut charm squares to begin this process. But I also cut my own squares and that is not too demanding. I like the part about putting the two squares, right sides together -- five inch squares are what I used. After they are aligned, stitch a 1/4-inch seam around the entire perimeter. The take your rotary cutter and ruler and cut diagonals both directions -- it shows you in the video.

The one concern may be that the sides are on the diagonal and will easily stretch, so you much carefully press and sew without stretching the fabric. That isn't hard to avoid.

So, for those who think I only write about or cheer on other quilters, here's proof that I can at least piece a square. I wonder if my son might like a quilt made using this pattern. Hmmm? Of course I would be forced to buy new fabric....

This particular star and another one just like it, hopefully will become place mats or if I get really industrious, a table cloth or runner. I might even get it finished!

Speaking of getting things finished. I'm back on the trail of getting my Subversive Stitchers: Women Armed with Needles novel written. I have thrown caution to the wind and taped a long piece of butcher paper on the wall of my office. Onto that I will write and pin and paste and print the storyline of my novel. I am also hanging a clothes line from which I will pin chapters and pages so I can actually get this thing into some kind of order and above all of this will be a shelf to hold my research materials. Organization seems like an excellent step forward. And since I am a visual person -- perhaps if I see it all of the time, I will actually work on it! I have many MANY pages of scenes and character development and research, now it is time to fit it all together into a story line. Stay tuned!

If any of you subscribe to Quilters World or The Quilter, you may have had the chance to read some of the profiles I've been writing for these publications. Quilt Trends has carried a few as well. It is exciting to learn more about such greats as Gina Paris Perkes and Kathy McNeil and Helen Remick and so many more. This is paradise for me -- writing about quilters and their work, their art. After seeing Helen Remick's yoyo quilts, I will never look at a yoyo in quite the same way!

Washington quilt artist Kathy McNeil's DVD for applique is the best! And her work always says so much. She really speaks with fabric. And Gina -- her machine quilting is pushing the limits, setting the bar higher and higher and the awards she's winning attest to that. If you haven't added her book to your library -- it is definitely worth the investment.

Well, that's today's new blog post. I hope after all of this time no one went into shock to see new info here. Thanks for sticking with me.

And for those who follow my husband and my journey through ALS and caregiving -- we're doing well. He's still able to work and his employer has agreed to a flexible schedule so he can also work from home when necessary. And I haven't been called on to do anything heroic in the line of caregiving -- so we're all good.

Oh, and we added a new member of the family.
Theodore (Teddy the Rough Rider) 'Theo' has agreed to being adopted. We LOVE the caregivers and volunteers at the Seminole County Animal Shelter. Nothing better than rescuing a furry baby.

He keeps us hopping! I'd forgotten the joys and terrors of life with a kitten. (Notice in this photo he is tuckered out from helping me write about Subversive Stitchers and he is pointing to Kathy McNeil's DVD. He really likes the bird pictures! Theo has good taste!