Thursday, October 31, 2013

A Generous Friend, Thrifting Treasure and a Sneak Peek

Yes, I know I could post each of the topics in my post heading separately, LOL. But as I work through all the stuff I want to share from the last couple  few  several  NINE months that I didn’t blog, it seems as though it would be cheating to devote a post to each one. Like I suddenly became some sort of super blogger, which I definitely am NOT.  So, you may be seeing these mish-mash-type posts for awhile.

And speaking of my studio (OK, I wasn’t speaking about my studio, but I did have to change subjects), I have to snap some pictures to show you the remodel. First I will have to clean it up though, as it has been put to good use and there is STUFF all over it already.  But I will get to that soon enough. I’ll even have before and after pictures. For now, you will have to settle for one little tease picture.

This is my fancy thread storage. Using the idea that Gerry borrowed from Judith Baker Montano, among others, I bought the old coffee cup rack - a very sturdy one in a lovely light color -  and mounted it on the wall.  I also purchased some rings from eCanyons, a place that Gerry recommended (and now, so do I). While my friend Diane was here visiting from Canada after the CQI Retreat in Colorado last month, we spent a couple hours one evening hanging my couching fibers. I have another dozen or so rings onto which I will eventually add other fibers - my perles, floss, etc. But I wanted to get this riot of color up so I could enjoy looking at it!  And doesn’t it look great with that GORGEOUS pin cushion I won in our CQ Crazy Gift game at the retreat? It was made of wool by my friend Ingrid who lives in California.  I gave it a place of honor in the studio, but have not yet stuck a pin in it!

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Every couple weeks, my friend Bev and Susan (whom some of you know from the CQI Retreats) and I get together to either stitch, go thrifting or work on my Etsy stuff. They are so generous to help with their time when we need to be preparing or packaging inventory, and in the process I am teaching them a bit about how Etsy works.  But I digress.

For our last get-together, it was Susan`s birthday.  I just gave her a stash bag of CQ goodies and a card, but Bev went all out and really made something spine-tingly wonderful. I think it’s gorgeous.  She took a print of two little girls and hand-pieced it into a block with a real primitive, Victorian feel.  Then she stitched gold to “tie” them together and framed it.  The caption reads, “Best Friends are tied together with Love”.  

Bev`s gift for Susan

And then, thinking I might feel left out (or more likely, just being the sweet and generous person she is), Bev made me a little gift, too.  Those are REAL leaves that she stitched. They have gold veins and a bit of needlelace on them.  I love autumn and STILL haven’t put any decorations up this year - except this one.  And I treasure it.  Thank you, Bev!

Real Leaves, stitched
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The week after we returned home from the Crazy Quilting International Retreat, Bev, Susan and I went thrifting, along with Diane (who was visiting as I mentioned above).  We all found some wonderful things, especially since at this time of year the stores gear up for Halloween by putting out their funny, outrageous, vintage and otherwise bling-y clothes. Lots of people go costume shopping in thrift stores, which I think is a smart idea.  One of our particular favorite things is looking for highly embellished gowns or Indian saris and clothes that we can raid for beads, sequins, gold purl, etc.

And we were not disappointed!  However, I scored a real find when I found this obi for $3 mixed in with the housewares - curtains, tablecloths, etc.  Isn’t it lovely?  Now, I don’t know much about obis, but I bet this is not a valuable vintage find of any type.  In fact, the back and front are the same, so it is not even lined in anything like silk.  But it is a wonderful feast for the eyes - the print, the colors.  I have it laid out on my old sewing chair in my stitching room (another sneak peek, I guess).   There is no label on it, but since it is not handmade, nor do we make obis in the US, my guess is that it is, at the very least, from Japan.  Or, on second thought, China.  (???)  Is there anyone who could venture a guess about this?

I think I’ll close this post for now.  Although I have a lot more things to share, I think that three things in one post is enough mish-mashing.  And tonight is Halloween, by the way, so we will be Monster Mashing!  Bruce and I always watch Young Frankenstein while the kids are coming to the door for treats.  I think we know all the dialog by heart, and use it all year long.

“Hump? What hump?”
“Walk this way!  No.... THIS way!”
“Put the candle BACK!”

Cathy maroon

Friday, October 25, 2013

Family, A Great Find, and Other Important Stuff

On Monday, which was Bruce’s only day off this week (he is “retired”, heading up The Tinkering Garage at The Leonardo Museum in Salt Lake City “for fun”), we had a visit from Bruce`s daughter Emily, her DH Chad (who is between Special Agent training courses in the USAF) and our sweet grandkids.  We were really looking forward to seeing them, especially our sweeties Deacon (age 5 1/2), Abbie (almost 4) and Gunner, 7 months.

Deacon plucks the uke
One of the fun things we try to do with the grandkids when they visit is to have a Jam Session, where all of us on our varying instruments play and sing together some of our favorite songs like “Old MacDonald Had a Farm”, “You are My Sunshine”, and other standards.  The kids love to pick silly animals for Old MacDonald`s Farm (like kangaroos and giraffes) and we have to all figure out what they say.  

Watch out Jethro Tull - here is Abbie on the flute!
Anyway, for Jam Sessions, Bruce whips out his ukelele, and we drag out our stash of instruments, which include another (toy) uke, a flute (bought that for $3 in the Bahamas, so you an imagine how *ahem* “fine” it is), maracas, harmonicas, a Fisher-Price xylophone, our drum (old oatmeal carton), etc.    Wow, were we ever wailin’ on Monday!  ;-) 

Gunner on maracas (and bumblebee toy)
The most AMAZING thing happened while they were visiting us that afternoon.  We were having our annual chimney cleaning done, and can you guess what the chimney cleaners found in our chimney? A torn piece of sooty red fabric that had been in the chimney since, oh, probably last Christmas!  We adults were trying to figure out what it was and how it got there. But Deacon and Abbie figured it out first (wink) and excitedly told us adults that it came from Santa`s outfit!!  Oh my!  You can just imagine what a thrilling event this was! Deacon and Abbie wanted their picture taken with it.  We gave it to them so Deacon could take it to Show and Tell at Kindergarten the next day.  I tell you, the fun never ends around here!  

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A month or two ago I did some Angel work (substitute stitching) for a Crazy Quilting International round robin.  The block was mostly done (and nicely so), but I was the last person to work on it and tried to tie things together and fill in the blanks.  My humble contributions included the leaves to the large flower (upper right) that was already there, seam stitching in upper left, adding some flowers to the arrangement above the heart and the ribbon topiary and swirly stitching on the left.

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Well, I guess I have no shame.  This post has been full of gratuitous pictures of Cute Kids  and Lovely Stitching.  What am I missing? Oh!  Baby Animals, of course.  ;-)

So, without further ado, here are a couple snapshots of my sweet little troublemakers, kittens, Alfie and Darla.  Alfie’s picture was snapped a week before the one of Darla, and he is noticeably smaller.  They are growing up too fast!!

Alfie “recharging"

Darla - “I’m too Sexy for my Fur"
Yep, they’re really dignified, aren’t they?

Until next time,

Cathy maroon

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Victorian Ladies Round Robin

This round robin finished a few months ago, but I am just now getting around to posting the pictures.  

The blocks I sent out all contained a silk image of a Victorian woman in some activity - walking, reading, playing piano, etc.   The ladies were each given a piece of vintage lace and the silkie with the block and told they could place them as they preferred.  What lovely blocks I got back!  Five of the six were completed, with the sixth one waiting for me to complete it.  I plan to do a wall hanging for our bedroom.

I asked for low volume color - nothing too dark or loud - as my bedroom is in shades of cream and gold.

Block stitched by Connie

Block stitched by Gerry H

Block stitched by Hideko

Block stitched by Lisa A

Block stitched by Rengin
As you can see, they are exquisite.  I still have the lavender block (below) to stitch myself

And then there is the work I did for others in this round robin.  I already posted the work I did for Gerry here, the work I did for Connie here, and the work I did for Lisa here.  Now finally, here are the remaining contributions I stitched.
Cathy`s work for Rengin

Cathy’s work for Hideko

So that catches me up on completed round robins as far as blogging goes.  I have current RRs and some Angel work that I did, plus I hope to finish up my CQ Journal Project piece before the turn of the NEXT century.  Ha!

Also, I have given my new stitching studio a test drive, and I LOVE it.  I still have some shelves to organize before I take pictures, but I hope to do that this coming week.  Next couple days are devoted to getting out some custom orders for my Etsy shop.

But I will leave you with a picture of Darla and Alfie - doing what they do best; resting.  Of course, they are also amazing at running and playing, cuddling, eating, pooping, and thundering through the house at 3 a.m.  What would we do without our furkids?

Alfie (Alfalfa) and Darla

Cathy maroon

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Round Robin Work - I Love Paris, Spring 2013

One of the things I want to do on my blog is get caught up sharing some of the Round Robin work I have done this year.  Last winter and spring I was in two round robins with the Crazy Quilting International (Yahoo) group.  They were “I Love Paris” and “Victorian Ladies”.  This post is about the “I Love Paris” RR - work done on my block as well as work I did for the other ladies.

The “I Love Paris” Round Robin was a traditional RR.  We each sent out a 12” square (30cm) block and it was returned to us fully embellished after the other participants (in this case, there were 5 of us) had a chance to stitch.

My naked “I Love Paris” block

Finished Block.  Work by Wilma Van W., Kathy S, Theresa F., Darlene
Didn’t they do a lovely job?  They treated the lavender curved pieces as an “avenue”. That fantastic Eiffel Tower was stitched by Wilma and the bistro set by Kathy.  I love the whole thing!

As far as my stitching on others’ blocks, I showed what I did for Darlene here and for Wilma here.

This was my work for Kathy Shaw. It’s a girl sitting on a wall (see her bike leaning against the wall?), gazing out over the city to the Eiffel Tower (rather crude, but it is supposed to be in the distance).

I also did the seam treatments on either side of the gray patch. It was a particularly fun motif to stitch.  :-)

On Theresa`s block, I was the last stitcher, so I had free rein to “fill in the blanks” and tie everything together.

Wilma had stitched the sitting lady, but I added the pearl bow (button) at the waist to hide marks (stitching guides) that wouldn’t come out.  At the very top I added the flower and leaf, then the pink vine that meandered over the top 25% and the black trim - to break it up and guide the eye.  The lovely decoration of the Eiffel silkie was done by Kathy Shaw. I added  the scallop lace seam treatment to the right and the pink trim and black lines over the black lace (which was very visually heavy) on the bottom right. I also beaded that little flower.

Finally, I added the pink pleated ribbon and its decorations, along with some vintage millinery and painted lace “flowers” for the lovely lady to sit amongst.

Next time I'll show my work in the Victorian Ladies RR, as well as the beautiful blocks that returned home to me with stitching from the other participants.  I was so thrilled!

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This morning, I decided it was time to lay in a supply of food in the freezer.  So, over 2-3 hours I prepared lots of things for dinners, divided them up, labeled them and froze them. There was one little accident with a container of chili that we won`t talk about, but suffice it to say that my kitchen rugs are now in the washing machine.  :-)    The results of this morning’s efforts:  4 meals of split pea and ham soup; 4 meals of meatloaf; 3 meals of chili (would have been 4, LOL), and 4 meals of pancakes. We like “Breakfast for Dinner” occasionally, so if I have the pancakes or waffles done ahead of time, then I can just do scrambled eggs/omelets and add some fruit for a nice dinner.

I still plan to make Carmel Apple Salad this evening to go with our split pea soup and muffin dinner.  Next weekend I am planning to do lentil soup, lasagna, beef enchiladas and bran muffins.  Cooking in batches is great, especially when I have had a busy day working at home (my Etsy shop).  Then all I have to do is zap dinner in the microwave.

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And speaking of my Etsy, the busy Holiday season has started.  If Christmas is too far off for you to think of yet (I do have all my Christmas motifs listed), then check out all the leaves, pumpkins and other goodies I have added.  

Well,  Alfie and Darla are asleep at my feet here under my desk.  I think I will take advantage of that (they are soooo curious about everything, so when they finally conk out, I can do things that would be hard if they were awake. Like little kids!).  Off to dye some more lace.

Until next time,


Cathy maroon

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Boomer`s Story

We adopted Boomer from the Salt Lake County Animal Services Center when he was approximately 4 months old, in 1995.   We had two other cats but had just lost a kitten to heart disease, so the kids, who were all still living at home, wanted another.  My ex hub Scott and daughter Megan picked Boomer from his litter because he was the most friendly and “sweet”.  That trait was part of his personality throughout his life.

The biggest trouble Boomer ever got into was as a kitten. I used to cook hamburger (in this case, for tacos) and drain the grease into an empty frozen orange juice cylinder for it to harden so I could throw it away.  I apparently left it out on the counter one evening, and Boomer stuck his head in and got it stuck a bit.  He was able to shake it off, but he had taco-flavored grease all over his head.  I tried to wash it off (as if a kitten will hold still for THAT!) Luckily, we had a grown cat named Stan (whose brother Ollie had already been adopted when we got Stan).  Stan was a “daddy” to Boomer, and over the course of about 3-4 days, he bathed (licked) Boomer`s head several times a day until Boomer was clean.  

Like many cats, Boomer liked to curl up in sinks, lay in our laps, and as a tabby he was very vocal and talked to us all the time.  When Bruce and I married in 2003, Boomer was already 8 years old. He joined us at the dinner table almost every night. Not ON the table, mind you.  He just sat in his regular chair and kept us company, very well-mannered.  Occasionally he would get meat scraps after the meal, but mostly not.  

I have a lot of pictures of Boomer`s first 8 years, but they are in scrapbooks and have not yet been digitized. But here are some others that I particularly like. 

Boomer with Rudy (a Christmas reindeer decoration)

Inspector Boomer gives 2 Paws Up to the downstairs bathroom remodel. He always ‘helped’ our contractors, especially loving to watch plumbers.

You are NOT going on vacation without me!

Mom, I`m so glad you’re back from vacation!

Am I cute enough for you to let me lay in this box of lace?

It`s a guy thing. 
I love my Dad, too!

Laying outdoors in the sun with his stone friend.

Summer 2012.  Last of the healthy days.

In the fall of last year, Boomer began losing weight. At first it didn’t concern me too much, because Dr. Dan (whom I wrote about here) had just told me a few months before that Boomer was in great health for a 17-year-old cat, and if he didn’t know better, he would have guessed that Boomer was only about 10 years old.

But Boomer kept losing weight, and when we first took him to the vet (a nice, young new vet that bought the clinic after Dr. Dan died) in November, they discovered a mild infection in his gums.  He had to stay overnight there to be anesthetized and have his teeth cleaned (something we did regularly anyway). While Boomer was away for that 24-hour period, I went grocery shopping and for the first time heard the song “Set Fire to the Rain” by Adele. In fact, I heard it TWICE in that shopping trip, and it made me wonder if that song was going to be associated with my worrying about Boomer. Little did I know.

Boomer came home and began eating, and we had a nice Christmas.  But then in February he began losing weight again, so back to the vet for another checkup and blood test. His blood work was mostly good, but had one odd number that indicated there might be a kidney problem or something else.  So, in March they did a chest x-ray, and the diagnosis was confirmed; Boomer had a mass in one of his lungs. (This was about the time that Bruce was diagnosed with cancer, too, so I was a wreck).  Bruce kept his sense of humor and called himself and Boomer the lung cancer twins.  Yeah.  So not funny.

A steroid shot (depo-medrol) was administered, and gave Boomer his appetite and personality back. For the better part of six weeks, he was his old self.  I think of that period as being like an Indian Summer.  The days are lovely, but you know they are numbered.   We enjoyed those days intensely!

The vet said that Boomer could continue getting shots, but the effects would be less dramatic each time and not last as long.  During this period, I began noticing something odd. Often when I would go to the grocery store (which is about 3 times per week because I mail out my Etsy shop orders from the USPS outlet there), I would hear “Set Fire to the Rain” quite often. Not every visit, but once every 2-3 visits, at least. I began listening to the words. It definitely reminded me of Boomer, and the fact that I was losing him.

The second depo-medrol shot lasted about a month, and after I returned from my cruise in June, Boomer got his third (and last) shot.  He was having good days and bad, but we decided that since he had more good with only an occasional bad, we went ahead with that shot.  It only lasted a week, maybe two. Then he began withdrawing from us. Selfishly, I wanted him to last until his 18th birthday.

I researched cat behavior to learn how a cat acted when he was in pain, and Boomer was acting that way, huddled and tucked in on bad days.  It was a struggle that had gone on in my mind for weeks - when was it time to say goodbye? How could I make the decision to end the life of this creature I had loved and cared for for 18 years (and who had loved and cared for me, too)?

I cried on his birthday, July 16 and made up my mind that I would have to do the humane thing the next day. So, on Thursday, July 17, wouldn`t you know it - Boomer was having a good day. I wrestled with my thoughts all morning, until just before noon. Then I called the vet’s office, talked with them and made the euthanization appointment for 3:00 that afternoon.

Here is a picture (one of dozens) that I took of Boomer just before we left in the car:

July 17, 2013.  Just before visiting the vet for the last time. Weight: about 5 pounds.

The face Mommy will always love
I believe Boomer knew where we were going, and why.  He just laid on the front seat of the car, on a blanket in the sun as we drove there.  No meowing, no nervous behavior.  

The burial case I made for Boomer from Laurel Burch fabric.

We went into a special room, and they inserted an IV into Boomer’s front paw. Then they gave us a while to be together.  I just held him close and cried.  That is an understatement. By then I was sobbing so hysterically that I couldn’t talk or catch my breath. Boomer just snuggled into me.  Finally Boomer calmed me down (cats can do that, you know) and we called in the doctor.  Boomer nestled in the blanket they provided, and his eyes were large and open, expectant and frightened.  The doctor administered the shot and then . . . it was over.  There was no light passing out of the eyes, no gentle heave of a last breath.  Just nothing. Until I moved to hold him closer and his body was floppy.  That`s when it became real.  I looked upwards, imagining his little spirit ascending,  and said goodbye.

I set fire to the rain
And I threw us into the flames
When it fell, something died
'Cause I knew that that was the last time, the last time!

I will always be angry with myself for not holding his fragile little body longer. But they brought in a cardboard casket, placed him in and I took Boomer home to bury him outside by our bedroom window, under the apricot tree.  Just a few feet away from where I sleep.

The top of the cardboard casket

Sometimes I wake up by the door,
That heart you caught must be waiting for you
Even now when we're already over
I can't help myself from looking for you.


Boomer’s final rest

I set fire to the rain,
Watched it pour as I touched your face,
Well, it burned while I cried
'Cause I heard it screaming out your name, your name

I visited his little grave every day for the first month.   Then it was every couple days, now it’s a couple times a week.  Soon I will have to put the little cat marker (look familiar?) away for the winter.  

My friend Diane from Canada was visiting me a couple weeks ago and stayed for about 5 days.  I told her about Boomer and the song.  That week we went to the store twice, and heard the song played both times.  I can almost listen to it without breaking into tears.

I miss you, Boomer!

Cathy maroon