Aside from all the important “usuals” like healthy children and family, a wonderful husband and life partner, his good job that keeps us in food and clothing and other assorted necessary and fun things, and just generally a far better life than maybe anyone has any right to expect, I’m greatly thankful for a few more specific things at the moment:

  • I’m actually going to have a book published by this time next year, and I’m on the cusp of that “career in quilting” that I’ve been aiming at for years.
  • I have two wonderful children who are being total troopers through all of my quilting preoccupation, and a husband who plans to cook Thanksgiving dinner himself so that I can work through the day.
  • I have friends that are still my friends, despite my desperate phone calls and emails in which I share this publishing roller coaster that I’m on right now. If you’ve been on the Space Mountain ride at EuroDisney, you’ll know exactly what I’m feeling some days, and I’m thankful that my friends haven’t blocked my email address, removed my blog from their RSS reader and unplugged the phone when they see my number in the caller ID.
  • The above can also be applied to my mom, who would obviously still be my mom, but I’m glad she’s still answering my emails and calls with a sympathetic ear and some good advice and input. It’s sorely needed, and much appreciated.
  • I have readers that are still reading (I think) despite the spotty posting schedule, not much creative content, too few inspiring photos and lack of committed attention to my blog and website. At some point, things will even out and get back to something that resembles normal, and I can’t tell you how much I appreciate the fact that you’re still here through all this. THANK YOU!!

I am truly blessed. Have a safe and happy holiday everyone!

Patchwork Times–Book Report, Car Dealers and Climate Control

After a pretty productive week last week on The Book, I feel like this week may get away from me entirely until Friday. The minutiae of at least two weeks of life is condensed into this one week, with “something” to do each day. I did manage to finish one of the biggest projects in the book over the weekend, and I’ve made great progress on the next biggest. Once these two are out of the way, I’ll feel a lot better about how quickly the manuscript will get done.

ITMan and I spent the entire day today (and I really do mean the entire day, from 7:45 a.m. until 4:00 p.m.) dealing with car maintenance. Both cars needed their winter tires put on and oil changes, as well as a couple of smaller fix-its and warranty repairs, so we just used his day off to get it done. It might not have taken quite so long had the service department not lost the keys to the Mustang. Yes, they LOST the keys and the transmitter to my car somewhere in the service area. Good thing I had a spare key with me. They didn’t find it until we’d been gone a full hour; they sent me home with a brand new key and transmitter, but now I’ll have to go back at some point and have the original key, and my other spare, reprogrammed since I guess they won’t work now that the whole system has been reprogrammed. Sheesh.

Despite being in the Ford dealer’s waiting area all day, I got a surprising amount of work done on The Book. I took the laptop with me, plugged in to their power and did drafts of the instructions for two of the quilts in the book, so it wasn’t a completely wasted day like it could have been. The trip back over there to take care of the key mess will be wasted time, but at least it’s not a “have to do right now” thing…

Backing up a bit: Sunday was the day to head to the Holiday Bazaar in Heidelberg, and shop for foody gifts to mail back to family in the States, but the entire thing was really just a bust. The vinegars and oils that we usually send back won’t be going this year, as the vendor was all out of the good stuff before we got there. I’ve no idea what that means for the family Christmas boxes, and I don’t even really have time to think about it too seriously at the moment. I’m waiting and hoping for inspiration to hit.

Then on Monday I had to be a nice Mommy and take Guitar Girl back to the bazaar, since she worked all weekend and wouldn’t have been able to go otherwise. It was a bust the first time around, but maybe I spent more time just perusing the aisles on Monday (since I knew there wasn’t any of the “must buy” stuff there anyway), because I did find a couple of other cool things, including these:

Wonnie slippers

Woohoo! Slippers that you put in the microwave and then put on your feet! Awesome! I used them this evening, and they are perfect. Though I LOVE my quilt studio, it has absolutely no insulation up here and it’s freezing even now (and it’s not even deep into winter here), so my feet are always cold (and don’t get me started on how bad this room up here is when it’s windy outside. brrrr.). The radiators are so weak and wimpy up here that they don’t even deserve the name, so there’s no such thing as climate control here unless you count slippers, socks, sweaters and scarves.

The Wonnie slippers have flax seeds and herbs in them so they smell nice when heated, and are wonderfully soft and soothing. You can’t walk in them, so it’s a sit-and-relax type of thing, but I did figure out how to run the sewing machine at the right speeds for machine quilting with them on. So I now have another climate control option for my feet!

Here’s Shadow’s version of climate control:

Shadow's climate control

He’s always been a chilly little thing, and since there’s not an ounce of fat on him he has no insulation. What he’d really like is my lap 24/7, but failing that, he camps out by this space heater that’s sitting by my computer chair all day long, as long as it’s on. He turns over once in a while, to roast the other side evenly. We’re both a little warmer now, at least!

AQS Show Des Moines–Quilts, Shopping, Walking

The AQS Show in Des Moines was a great time! Kimberly and I walked and shopped and dined our way through Des Moines, laughing the entire time. I’ll let you take in the quilt show stats and recap at her blog, and confine my first report to some thoughts and impressions:

Never let your husband (or any male, significant other or not) buy a laptop computer for you to travel with. His goals (big screen real estate, high processor speed and low price, in that order, and weight is no object) are vastly different from yours (lightweight and small, in that order, and price is no object). Pick out your own and save your back and arms when traversing three or more airports in 15 hours.

Never take just one pair of shoes, or even two, especially if they have any sort of heel or semi-pointy toes. Always have a flat backup pair with a big toe box, even if they’re ugly, don’t go with your clothing and your grandmother wouldn’t have been caught dead in them.

Never assume that the guy at hotel check in knows that you hate being right by the elevator, ice machine, soda machine, stairs, etc., or that you like to have a bathtub as well as a shower to keep your options open. Just be high maintenance from the get go and tell him what you want.

Never rely on the show literature to tell you the true walking distance from your hotel to the convention center. They measure it as “the crow flies,” completely discounting any required twists and turns through skywalks, around major buildings or via crosswalks that will save your life. If the show book says it’s .5 miles, count on a mile and a half. Each way. At least twice per day.

Never discount the value of a big breakfast at the hotel regardless of the cost. It will likely be the best and cheapest meal you have all day until dinner, which you’ll probably be too tired to enjoy properly or even consume the greater portion of anyway. And breakfast delivered to your room is even better since you can eat at your leisure (the only leisure you’ll enjoy all day as well) and have some quiet cups of coffee or tea. It’s only a couple of dollars more than eating in the restaurant, and for less than a twenty spot extra for the week, I’m there.

Never discount the benefit of laughing until you cry about something so totally off the wall (like chewing gum) that when you share it with someone later, they just look at you and say “I guess you had to be there.” When it happens though, it’s probably a sign that you need some sleep…

Never tell anyone back home that you’ll write, call, chat on IM, update Twitter, or otherwise communicate while you’re away. Chances are you won’t because you’re either too busy or sleeping like the dead, or wishing the jet lag would go away so that you could sleep at all.

Never commit to blogging while you’re on the road either. While you’re out at the show or shopping, you’ll think of all kinds of things to say on your blog, but by the time you get back to your room and the computer, your mind is complete mush and you won’t remember any of it at all.

There you have it. I did do some serious damage to the plastic, both at the mall and at the quilt show. I’ll share pictures of the loot from the quilt show in the coming days, just as soon as I gather it back up again. I had a blond moment when I unpacked and put it all away in my studio before I thought about it!

I’ll leave you with this shot of the show floor at the convention center, taken from the upper level:

Show floor at Des Moines

More to follow…

The Sleeping Shelf

cats sleeping

This is the view in the wintergarden on this fine September afternoon. It’s nice and quiet here, and it turned into a beautiful day, which means that the wintergarden feels like a sauna, and the heat is migrating into the Studio. Shadow and Patches are in heaven on their sleeping shelf under the windows. I’m hanging out in the back room at the beading table, trying to stay cool(er)! Hmm, I don’t think I ever shared a picture (or the story) of my new beading area.

Perfect Sewing Caddy double towers with a table top from HinterbergI really wanted to order one of these Perfect Sewing Caddy double towers with a table top from Hinterberg, and I was willing to pay for it. What I wasn’t willing to do was pay them $250 to ship it over here. Sheesh. I realize it’s wood and all but, well, never mind. I wasn’t ready to spend $1,100 total on the thing.

A quick trip to Ikea (well, as quick as trips to Ikea ever are which is to say, pack a lunch, you’ll be there a while…) produced something even better, quite perfect actually, for less than half the price:

Beading Table

Three separate pieces: two bases on wheels with drawers (lots and LOTS of drawers!), and a tabletop, and I’m in business with plenty of space for all the little bits and bobs, beads and bangles, tools and fibers I’ve collected for a good part of my life. ITMan did have to do the “some assembly required” (more like “all assembly required” actually) but we’d have had to do that anyway with the pieces from Hinterberg. Get a load of these drawers:

Beading Table drawers

Six drawers in each base, four shallow and two that are deeper. Awesome. And perfect. Did I mention this was perfect?!? And being less than half the price only adds to it’s perfection. It’s more than a “Beading Table,” it’s an Embellishment Station. So now I can go hide out in the relative coolness of the “Library,” or back room, or Little Studio, or whatever it is when it’s too hot in the Studio, and play with all the bits and bobs, beads and bangles, tools and fibers, and I can even close the door if the other residents of the house are gettin’ on my last nerve.

And the cats? Well, they’ve finally decided they’re well done and have had to remove to the floor in the studio for a break:

Getting out of the heat!

Patchwork Times: Banker cat does not approve ur loan

Since I don’t want to come roaring in here with a rant at the moment, especially after being absent for a week, this will be a (probably long) newsy, update sort of post. (I’ll save the rant for tomorrow or the next day, when the red mist in front of my eyes may have died down to a calmer color.)

…what the answer really is is that we could be forced to move, but it’s not a quick process…

On the landlord front, Jane Ann reminded me that I’d left you all hanging out over a cliff on the banker issue. I did contact the legal office, and truth, they weren’t much help other than to say that if there turned out to be some big problem, like foreclosure, that we couldn’t be forced to move, and that we’d be instructed to pay our rent to a custodian for the bank. After further questioning on my part, what the answer really is is that we could be forced to move, but it’s not a quick process, and if the house is sold while we’re in it, the new owners have to “show” that they really need to live in the house before we can be asked to move. I wonder who decides whether they’ve “shown” that they need to live in the house satisfactorily?

So the banker came and went, and so did the landlord’s friend, and I think the banker thought it was all pretty strange. I just let the friend handle it, and ignored the whole process. The banker asked me no questions, and when they left, the friend made some weird hand motion to me (when the banker wasn’t looking) like she wanted me to call her on the phone to discuss. Um, no. I decided that if she wanted to chat about what her friends my landlords were up to, she could call me on her dime.

I’ve heard nothing from any of them since. I still don’t have any contact information for the landlords in Canada which they promised to forward to us once they were settled (I only have the phone number of the friend here in our area), the “handyman/yard guy” hasn’t shown up to prune the cherry tree or whatever it is in the backyard like they all told us he would the day we received access to our garage, and yesterday we received yet another strange letter in the mailbox for the landlord, though not from the Finanzamt in Sinsheim this time at least. *shrug* I think the saga isn’t over, but I’m at a complete loss to predict what will happen next.

Fast forward to the last week or so: GuitarGirl’s new job is taking some major getting used to. The job is going great for her, but the Taxi Mom job is a total productivity killer for me, and it makes meal planning for dinner, um, “interesting” is not quite the word I’d choose, but nothing else I can think of is fit for company. ITMan ends up picking her up from work sometime between 7 and 8 p.m., which really blows the usual 6:30 p.m. dinner time out of the water. One evening last week we actually had just finished eating at 8:45. Not my idea of how things should go, but hopefully with better planning things will get more coordinated in time.

I did get the Arts & Crafts Manager and one of the other long-time employees alone and ask them if I could be a mom for a minute and ask how she was handling the job. They both were very complimentary about her, and said she was doing great. All my happy mom buttons got pushed, and I was feeling all warm and fuzzy for her. She seems to like the job and the people she works with, though she’s going through a bit of adjustment as well, of course, and learning to balance school and guitar practice and work and what free time she has left without being a grouch! She’s definitely looking forward to that first paycheck, but if she keeps borrowing money from me in the meantime, she won’t get to keep much of it!

In kitty news, Shadow’s been ill, with some non-specific tummy troubles. Much vomiting since Monday morning (what a way to spend Labor Day, eh?), two trips to the vet, $200+ later, and I’m still not sure he’s getting better, though I have more hope this evening than last. He did eat his special diet food this evening, and managed to keep it down and wants more, so things are looking up, but I’ll not be convinced until I get through a night without waking to the wonderful sounds of, well, … never mind. I’m sure those of you who are owned by one or more cats know exactly what sounds I’m talking about here.

he sniffed once or twice and looked up at me as if to say “Seriously?!?

After Monday’s visit to the vet clinic, we were instructed to feed him a special diet of boiled chicken and rice. Yeah, right. I got up early Tuesday to fix said diet of boiled frozen chicken thigh and white rice, which he sniffed once or twice and looked up at me as if to say “Seriously?!?” After the second trip to the vet clinic Wednesday evening, we came home with a 3 Euro small can of Royal Canin food for sensitive stomachs. 3 Euros!! 😯 That’s $4.30 for a can of cat food the same size as a can of Friskies from the Commissary that costs 39 cents! The vet also gave me some matching (coordinating?) dry food in sample bags that were free, thankfully, so we may try him on some of that later tonight or tomorrow. Oh, and we got pills, lots and lots of pills, which I have the dubious pleasure of shoving down his throat. I’m just hoping that this stomach issue doesn’t turn into a sudden and severe allergy to regular cat food, forcing us to purchase “special diet” food for him for the rest of his life at a cost of thousands per year. Then he’ll be even more of a money pit than he’s already been for most of his short life.

All of this rigmarole with the cat has my fun meter pegged, I tell ya. I’m such a nice mommy that I let him sleep on my chest or stomach at night, and I don’t make him move like I usually would after a bit since he feels so rotten and I’m such a sucker. The result of this is that my back is totally unhappy, again. It took me a couple of days to even figure out what I’d done to my back, but then it finally dawned on me that 11 pounds of sleeping cat is probably not a great thing to leave on your stomach or chest for extended periods, like most of the night. And I’m not a back sleeper anyway, so it’s no wonder I’m waking up needing a wheelchair, hot packs and muscle relaxers. And a massage. Is there a masseur is the house?

Quilt days like that are golden, and go a long way toward offsetting the rest of the dreck that life has a habit of tossing at you.

Oh, and I suppose since this is ostensibly a blog about quilting, you’d like to know if I actually do quilt or if I just prattle on (or rant?) about all this other stuff that goes on around here. Yes, I have been quilting, and as a matter of fact last Sunday (before cat/vet drama and in between Taxi Mom duties), I was a maniac. I had the most productive quilting day in months, working on about three different projects throughout the day, and progressing on all of them. A little sewing here, some pressing there, a bit of embellishment in the middle, and everything went as well or better than planned. Quilt days like that are golden, and go a long way toward offsetting the dreck that life has a habit of tossing at you. I wish I could figure out the magic formula for those golden quilt days, but I’m sure it’s just a spontaneous thing, like all nine (or is it eight? ten? I can’t keep up) planets being aligned or something.

Okay, there, you’re all caught up on the minutiae, and I can plan on letting fly with a good rant on the morrow after the redness clears a bit. I’ll give you a hint: IQA and Quilt’s Inc. have just been permanently bumped from my “happy quilt show” list after the return of the last quilt I sent them for exhibit. I won’t promise to be gentle, but I will be accurate in the details.

And about Banker cat? Well, that phrase just popped into my head, and it seemed to fit all the disparate themes in this post. I went looking for the source, and all I found was this LOLcat pic at I don’t know whether that’s where this little phrase originated, but I did get a chuckle out of the cat!

funny pictures
more animals

The First Day

Can you believe it? Today is GuitarGirl’s first day of work at her first job! Can you believe I’m the mom of a 16-year-old with a J.O.B.? How can this be? Somehow I remember picking her up from preschool just yesterday. Or was that yesteryear? Where did the time go?

GuitarGirl on her first day of workShe scooped up the perfect first job, at the Arts & Crafts Center in Heidelberg as a Recreation Assistant, which is basically a retail job. What a cushy first job, huh? And the Army treats these Recreation Assistants pretty well too, with none of that five-something an hour minimum wage stuff. The kid will make almost as much in just two weeks as I do in a month! Just to put that into perspective, she will have to work way more hours than I do to make that money, but thank goodness she can now keep herself in Dior mascara and MAC lipstick.






I had to mark the occasion with pictures, but of course forgot the camera at home, so I had to use the Blackberry (yeah, I bought a Blackberry; more on that later). Above is a picture of her in the car on the way to the A&C, and here she is on the steps ready to go inside.

*sniff, sniff* I’m usually not the terribly emotional type mom about stuff like this, but I am getting a bit teary eyed at the moment. She’s so excited, but nervous too, of course. Well, I’m excited for her, but right now I’m going to go think about something else before I have to go have a good cry over it all.