Monday, March 28, 2016

About the yellow

There was no doubt that the applique needed some yellow. It was always just a matter of how the yellow would get there. Originally I had intended to embroider simple flowers, just lazy daisies, in several shades of yellow pearl cotton. I even stitched a few in place. But it just didn't work for me.

I decided to just stumble ahead and hope that an idea would present itself, and it finally did. I've been trying to be less literal in my applique design. I think my science background just hungers for accuracy. But my flower garden isn't a faithful rendition of any real flowers. I could call them zinnias, or cottage roses and you'd probably go along. And all those circles I like to toss in, what are those supposed to be in real life?

It occurred to me that if random circles are okay, perhaps commas could work. It's a shape that I like a lot. It's the shape of a single feather in traditional quilting. It's a paisley, or a petal. They have a bit of motion, with that little curve by the point.

So, out came a scrap of Wash Away Sheets.

I used a pencil to sketch out the shapes, using the original placement lines for the embroidery flowers to suggest the size. (I've traced over them with sharpie here so they are easier to see.)

Working with the same fabrics from the yellow pieced block, I made up a few, just to test out the idea, and I liked it!

Since I figured I'd roughly need about six thousand templates (slight exaggeration, it's actually closer to a hundred), I recreated the shapes using my Silhouette and let the machine do the cutting.

Yeah, that's a little bit of yellow there. I didn't plan, just made an assortment using three different yellow fabrics and three different sizes of commas.

So, I'm busy stitching down commas. My literal brain really wants to add a couple of green lazy daisies to the base of each comma, just to give them a place to grow from, you know? But I'm resisting. At this point it's hard to tell if what I'm adding is improving the design or just a ploy to prevent me from finishing.

Thanks so much for all your kind comments and concern. I'm feeling terrific. I've worked through the shock of having a heart attack, which is something that happens to other people, and celebrating the extra time I have been given.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Happy to still be here

There is no other way to say it than to just say it. In the early hours of March 7, 2016 I had a heart attack. I'm fine. Honestly. Because I knew the early warning signs, which are very different in women, I got to the hospital in plenty of time to avoid permanent damage to my heart.

I won't go into all the gory details, just suffice it to say that the monstrous heart burn and jaw pain were enough early warning to have me concerned. The nausea and lightheadedness that followed sealed the deal.

The five minute drive to the hospital gave me just enough time to consider my mortality and be grateful for matching (and clean) underwear (not that anyone besides me noticed). Just mention chest pain and you won't be wearing much very quickly.

The first blood test was inconclusive, the second blood test changed all that, and the third blood test had me bundled off to the cath lab for some quality time with a balloon and a stent to repair a completely blocked right artery.

Within 36 hours my blood enzyme levels had returned to normal levels and I was sent home to start my new life as a heart attack survivor. Because we got there so early in the attack I have nearly no damage to my heart. It's funny, on one hand I don't feel any different at all. I'm still me, and yet everything has changed. I'm shopping for stylish medical alert bracelets and nitro pill holders.

The hardest part was telling my family. To be honest, I felt pretty ashamed, certain that I had brought this on myself. The marvelous cardiac care nurses assured me that being embarrassed was a waste of good energy. I don't have any underlying conditions, despite being overweight, my blood pressure and cholesterol are just fine. Let's face it: my sole purpose in life is to serve as a warning to others. If just one woman's heart is also spared because of what happened to me then I've done my job.

I made sure to call my sons myself. I didn't want them to have even a moment's panic while Kent got from "Mom had a heart attack" to "but she's okay". I figured if they heard my voice they would already be reassured. My youngest son assured me that I couldn't die, I didn't have the most fabric yet. (Yeah, he's a keeper.)

I'll be on special meds for at least a year while my body gets comfortable with the stent. It will take a little while to get all of my energy back and to get past that feeling of fragility that comes when a crucial body part misbehaves.

It seems that having such a great outcome means there must be something left for me to do in this world, hopefully still a long way off. What ever it might be, I'm already back to putting the finishing touches on A Fine Romance. I think I can be forgiven for missing the Tuesday deadline for basting the thing. I was in the hospital with a heart attack after all. (I plan to claim "heart attack" now anytime I feel the need to princess out, I'm going to milk it for all its worth.)

If you're a woman, or love a woman, please make sure you understand what a heart attack looks like so you can have the same great outcome as I have. Just google it and read several articles. It might just save your life too.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Making Progress

I hoped that laying out the finished parts of A Fine Romance would light a fire under me, and it has, sort of. You can see that all that remains to be appliqued is half of one border, and some parts in the corners where the seams come together. Nothing much, really, compared to the work done so far.

It hasn't taken much to stall the project and I'm trying to figure out why. I've always thought that projects become UFOs for good reason. Often it's because we are unsure of the next step, or we lose faith in the outcome. I realized that I was going to be short of leaves and the burden of making more leaves was almost crushing. Honestly. I didn't count when I started making the leaves. We were holed up in the extended stay hotel when I was working on them and we were so stressed that even counting leaves was iffy. Turns out I only needed leaves that tip to the left, I still have a big old pile of leaves that tip to the right.

Being a few leaves short of a border (a teacup short of a place setting, a sandwich short of a picnic) I figured this would be a great time to put that Silhouette back to work.  After just a little experimentation the trusty machine was spitting out lovely, perfect templates for the needed leaves. In the end it took less than two hours to make 25 more leaves. (It would have been less time but I was binging on old Downton Abbey episodes and one must look up to ogle the dresses.)

So, the last half of the border is now pinned in place and I'm stitching away. Quilt guild meeting is next Tuesday and I have a half-hearted goal of having the top together so I can use the church tables to baste the quilt. There, I've said it, it's out in the universe, perhaps that will shame me into getting it done.

On the personal front, we have finally accepted an offer on the Saginaw house. Yay! We have every digit crossed that all the dotting of the Is and crossing of the Ts will go smoothly. That wonderful old house needs to be loved and it sounds like the buyers are just the right folks to do it.