Sunday, August 27, 2006

quilting day

Today I started working on my Christmas gifts. I'm making quilted placemats for my family. Need to make 36 at this point, plus a couple other quilted items.

In January, my local independent fabric store had a private, by invitation only, sale. It was a great sale… 45% off of everything in the store.

Since I was on the invitation list, I came up with a simple pattern for placemats, figured out how much fabric I needed, and bought it all at a huge discount.

A few days ago, I realized that I simply did not want to make these placemats in the pattern I’d designed. It was boring!

So I started searching the internet for patterns that might work. There are a boatload of websites that provide free quilt block patterns. Several of those websites have over a thousand free patterns available.

Found something I liked, figured out if I had enough fabric for this pattern, and started cutting this morning.

Ended up cutting:

Light blue speckle fabric:
144 – 2.5 inch squares
72 – 2.5 inch by 4.5 inch rectangles
72 – 2.5 inch by 6.5 inch rectangles

Medium blue with multi-colored squares fabric:
72 – 2.5 inch by 10.5 inch rectangles
72 – 1.25 inch by 14.5 inch rectangles

Dark multi-colored print fabric:
72 – 2.5 inch by 4.5 inch rectangles
72 – 2.5 inch by 6.5 inch rectangles

Green print:
36 – 2.5 inch squares

It takes some serious time to get all that cut! But… I was able to start sewing also. I got part of the fabrics sewn together and then decided I needed to see one of the placemats completed before going further.

And it’s good that I completed one first. I wasn’t certain how it would look with the border I added to the 10 inch block pattern… but I like it!

I had opportunity to go to KC’s house today to sew with her, but I decided that would be too much work. Oh, KC isn’t work. It’s just that I’d have to pack my sewing machine and all the supplies into the appropriate cases, load up the car, drive 40 minutes to her house, unload it all, sew for a few hours and then pack it all back up, load the car, drive 40 minutes home and unload it all again.

Have done this before and it’s been fun. But… this weekend was about rest and relax time. That just felt like too much work. KC totally understands that concept since she's still recovering from her surgery.

I know I spent the day working on this project, but I puttered at it most of the day. Stopped to read for a while, spent time chatting with my sweet husband about his trip to Chehalis yesterday, looked the train pictures he took, etc.

Besides, quilting is such a stress buster for me!

I’m not quite as refreshed as I’d hoped to be, but am feeling much better than I was on Friday. Tonight will be early bedtime so I’m ready to work tomorrow.

… may there be mercy on our rest.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

caring for myself

It's harder than one thinks to do nothing but care for oneself over the course of a couple days. It's harder than I thought to NOT do housework and cleaning and all the other things I normally do on the weekends.

I have to confess that I'm not so good at all this.

I did spend about 90 minutes working on doing a couple loads of laundry, changing the bedding out to fresh sheets, cleaning the kitchen and a quick run to the grocery store.

Then, it was a marathon of Anne of Green Gables and Anne of Avonlea. I decided to put on movies that I'd seen before. That didn't matter if I fell asleep or paused to go get a snack or whatever.

It was good.

Not sure what tomorrow will bring, but know that tonight I will sleep a lot more.

... may there be continued mercy.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

plans for rest

Head and chest are still congested, but I’ve reached the point wherein I think I’m going to survive. Been sleeping a lot, and only working 8 hour days this week. Yep, no overtime. We figured out that most of us at my office have been working some overtime each week for the last 4 years. No wonder we’re all exhausted and sick and crabby all the time.

I decided last Friday that I’d take a week off of the overtime and see how things go. I’m still quite behind at work, but it’s okay because my body and mind needed a break. I actually need a whole lot more of a break, but this is all I’m going to get for a while since my scheduled vacation is the week after Thanksgiving.

Will probably take next week as a “straight 8’s” week, too.

We decided that this weekend, while my husband goes seeking a particular steam train to photograph on Saturday, I’ll stay home. We both recognize that my body just won’t allow me to do anything more for a couple weeks. Between moving my father-in-law and being sick, both hitting on top of the combined stresses of losing my mother-in-law and recovering from surgery, I have crashed hard.

The plan is for me to just sleep as much as is humanly possible from Friday night to Monday morning. When I’m awake, I might do some quilting, reading or watch movies. Nothing big, the only allowed activities will be those that are very quiet and relaxing for me.

There are books and movies galore in this house. I’ve got a bunch of fabric all set up to start cutting out quilted placemats as Christmas gifts for my family. There are clean, fresh jammies ready for me to wear each day.

Have to say, I’m really looking forward to it!

…may there be mercy for true rest and refreshment in my downtime.

Monday, August 21, 2006

I'm not sick, am I?

Started feeling cruddy this afternoon.

...ears ringing and full of pressure...
... head stuffy...
...chest congested and coughing...
...lots of "ugh/ick" and mucus... (eeeuuuwwww!)

...and now I'm pretty sure I'm actually sick. But I'm not quite ready to admit it yet.

I might not really be sick if I don't admit it. Right?

Until I know for sure, I'm going to bed. Sleep is a great curative.

...may there be mercy and this crud pass quickly.

Sunday, August 20, 2006


Long, long day.

Moved most of the heavy stuff for my father-in-law to his new apartment.

Very tired.

Lots of wine as a reward.

Need sleep!

...may there be mercy on the rest of this move!

Friday, August 18, 2006

random thoughts

Very random thoughts tonight.

Random thoughts part one:
It was a rough day. Gotta consider it rough when, at my desk at work, I've quietly said every curse word in the world except dropping an F-bomb... all before 8 a.m...

I hate days when I lose my cool, professional exterior like that. I just get angry with myself for the rest of the day.

Of course it also didn't help that after the particular thing happened that had me cursing like a drunken sailor on leave in a foreign port... I went to the ladies room (yeah, I know, like all that cursing was ladylike) and had a little cry because the thing that happened not only made me mad, it was hurtful.

I do not deserve to be treated in that manner and I'm glad I turned the situation over to my supervisor.

But... it's over. I'm movin' on from there and into my weekend.

Random thoughts part two:
Talked to KC this morning. She was bored out of her skull and wanted O-U-T of that hospital! We had some scheduling changes and were able to sign up for a quilting class for tomorrow. (more on that on random thoughts part three) She is still on for going to the class, so that's cool. We'll meet for breakfast and coffee and then go enjoy learning another aspect of quilting.

I'm just so relieved that she is okay after this allergic incident!

Will also be very glad when I hear from her husband after Monday's surgery.

Random thoughts part three:
My blessed father-in-law was approved to move into a fantastic apartment today. It's a low income senior community. Not assisted living... no nursing care... no meals prepared by a staff, it's a senior community. They have potlucks and social stuff, which is cool. He can go to the movie nights they set up if he wants. There is a game room which includes a pool table, and a computer room, and an exercise/workout room. All included and available for him if he wants to use them.

We have already moved some things into the apartment for him so it will feel like home each time he goes there. A lot of his stuff will be moved over the weekend. So some of the train stuff will be moved to another time... or my husband will have to go by himself to more of them. We are okay with that because this place is worth what it will cost in scheduling issues for us.

I haven't seen my father-in-law this excited about anything in years. To see his smile light up like it did today... definitely worth missing out on any kind of weekend time.

In case no one noticed it, I just adore my father-in-law!

Random thoughts part four:
Sleep... neeeeeeeeed sleeeeeeeeepp!!!

... may there be mercy on my random stuff.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

friends and allergies

When my friend KC called me at work today, she was laughing and thanked me for “sharing” my iodine allergy. We’ve joked for years that we “share brain cells” or “share” other such nonsense. Sometimes it’s scarily true! But… thirty minutes later, she was in the ER with breathing troubles and all the accompanying allergic reaction issues.

Now, everyone who knows me knows that I’m allergic to practically the entire world of medicine. Including an apparently inherited atypical iodine allergy from my birth father. We can eat shellfish, (that’s the atypical part), but cannot tolerate other forms of iodine. Mostly this involves the types of contrast dyes used in surgery or CT scans.

After my first allergic reaction to an iodine dye, they told me that a second allergic reaction is usually fatal… so try to avoid the use of these dyes.

A few years ago, I had to have a CT scan at the University of Washington. I told them I was allergic to iodine dyes/IV contrast. So they had me take a set formula of medicines to preclude an allergic reaction… or to minimize the symptoms if I had one.

I followed all the instructions, took all the pre-medications, went for the CT scan… and had a monster reaction. It was horrible. Even scared the medical-type people there at the hospital… enough that they told me to NEVER allow another use of iodine dye/IV contrast because it truly would kill me.

As a result, I wear a Medic Alert bracelet that advises of the problem. Just in case I’m in a car wreck and can’t speak for myself… they don’t need to kill me trying to figure out what all might be wrong with me!

But KC hasn’t had any allergies and has always been healthy. At least until the last few years when she got a diagnosis…

KC has Graves Disease. She did a course of some medication that was supposed to put her in remission… and it did, for about 18 months. She and her husband spent time examining all the appropriate treatment options, the most likely being using radioactive iodine to completely irradiate the thyroid or removing the thyroid completely. They decided that the best course of treatment for her would be to remove the thyroid. Surgery is scheduled for Monday.

In preparation for this surgery, the doctor wanted to “calm” her thyroid. So he prescribed a course of some iodine based medication. Which she duly took as prescribed.

When we were at her house for dinner on Sunday night, she was describing how awful this medication was. How she put it in just a small amount of water to have the least amount of medicine to take. How horrible it tasted and all the things she ate to try to get that nasty taste out of her mouth… and that nothing worked. We were laughing about it and agreeing that it was a good thing that she only had to take that medicine for a week.

Sunday night was one of those great nights with friends. The kind where everyone laughs until they almost pee their pants and no one wants the evening to end.

Tuesday, KC emailed me at work to check in and tell me she was tired. We made funny comments to one another by email as we had time through yesterday. This morning she was laughing when she called.

Told me how red and blotchy she was… how itchy she was… how swollen her face was… how she now had a better appreciation for what my allergies meant in real terms...

… but she was going in to work because she might as well be there as home feeling this bad. Besides, too many people in her office are gone this week so someone needed to be there.

She wasn’t laughing 30 minutes later when she called me back to tell me she was in the ER. Neither was I.

Apparently the swelling got a bit out of hand and her breathing became troubled. She was given medications for breathing, for swelling and for itching. She’s still at the hospital tonight. They admitted her overnight for observation since they don’t want to give her certain medications that might mess up the scheduled surgery on Monday.

I know she’s going to be okay. I’ve known that since she said she was in the ER because I knew they would take good care of her.

But I spent some time today thinking about what it would be like without her… if something had gone wrong. I can’t even begin to describe how that thought took all the air out of the room, how awful that thought felt.

Then I spent time praying that I would not have to face that. We’ve been friends for 20 years and it’s not nearly enough.

I spent the day thinking about my friend, praying for her health and being glad that I am one who says, “I love you” to my friends and family.

… may there be mercy as she recovers and for her surgery on Monday.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

in a funk

I’ve been in a funk the last couple days. A foul mood that just doesn’t have any place in my life right now. And yet, here it is, taking up space and spilling out of me onto everything.

So I’ve retreated from everyone in the hope that it will pass soon.

Mostly I don’t want this mood to spill out too hard on any one person, causing a rift in a relationship. It certainly isn’t a reaction to any person or hurt feelings. It’s a more difficult to overcome reason why I’m in such a funk.

My body is taking longer to recover from surgery than I want… and than it has before.

Oh it’s coming along and I am healing. But I want the healing and recovery process to be completed so that I feel back to normal. Normal strength levels. Normal energy levels. Normal feeling tissue instead of this rock hard lump of scar tissue in that breast. And the soreness and pain need to go away!

In my perfect world, I would not have any of the health issues that have caused me to have 26 surgeries. My body would work exactly the way it is supposed to work. It would not produce tumors. The immune system would be so strong… it could fight off even the slightest hint of illness with such rapidity that the germs wouldn’t stand a chance. Anemia would never rear its ugly head. Chronic bronchitis would flee in fear. Migraines would cower in terror. Bladder issues, faulty heart valves and all the other stuff wrong… gone.

And of course, I could eat all the chocolate I wanted while maintaining a perfect body that did not gain an ounce!

But… this body doesn’t work that way.

At four weeks post-surgery, I’m still struggling with bruises, soreness and periodic sharp pain… and I’m just plain old tired all the time. Oh, I do things and work overtime, but I’m exhausted. I just do the things I need to do anyway. The bruises and soreness will eventually go away. Impatience is the problem for that part.

I know I should just sit back, rest up and be grateful that the lump wasn’t cancer. And believe me, I’m grateful!

A large part of my struggle is that I’m getting older and things take longer to heal. I can’t bounce back into working overtime 10 days after surgery and expect my body to cooperate. Well, I expect the cooperation; I’m just not getting it!

I’m also really bummed that I don’t have the energy to do all those fun trips that my husband wants to do together. If we had about 6 additional weeks of “train season”, I could make it. As it stands, we figured out which ones I can do and which ones he will have to do alone or with his dad.

To do them all… that’s the wish to fly.

To accept that I can’t… that’s the reality of plodding along on the ground.

…may there be mercy to lighten my mood as I plod along.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

exhausted ramblings

My husband and I love to take our car and go on adventures. Might be a trip down a country road just to see what might be new. Might be a spur of the moment ride down to Seattle with our cameras. Could be a quick run up to Canada just to have lunch. Many weekends, we just throw our cameras in the car, get in and say, “north or south?” It’s always fun.

Right now, he wants to plan every single weekend between now and the end of September… with a long trip to see a train somewhere.

Ah yes, besides me, his loves are photography and trains… preferably together.

Steam trains are his favorites, but those are run by volunteers and only during the summer. Obviously this summer has been taken up with a bit more than being able to run around the state, and Canada, chasing steam trains.

We looked at the calendar last night, trying to find a way to get to as many trains as possible… and not kill me in the process. My body just is not cooperating right now to be able to do it all.

I think the combination of major stress issues has knocked me on my keister – and hard. I’m so exhausted right now that all I really want to do at all is sit and cry… and then sleep… and then cry more… and then sleep more… etc.

But that isn’t what happens. I paste my smile on, go to work, do overtime, come home and do the normal daily stuff that has to be done, have a little time with my online friends and collapse into bed hoping that I feel better the next day. Repeat daily.

Add in my father-in-law being so ill this year, taking care of him for 2 months, finding a lump in my breast, my mother-in-law passing, and having surgery to remove the lump… and I’ve hit the wall terribly hard.

It isn’t that these trips he wants to take would not be a lot of fun for both of us. It’s just that I don’t have the energy for any of it. My body has reached the point of just saying no.

And I hate it.

I want to be able to go and have all this fun because the earlier part of the summer was so awful. To have the energy and the joy in planning fun time with my husband.

Instead, I’m trying to figure out how I can force my body to do enough of these trips that I feel like we did something and send my husband on the rest of them by himself.

Did you notice that I wasn’t figuring out how to enjoy the trips? It’s more of a plan to just get them done. That’s what I hate.

More on this series of ramblings later. Right now, I’ve got to get to work… for some overtime.


Friday, August 11, 2006

lunchtime discussion

A friend took me out to lunch today to celebrate the fact that I do not have breast cancer. It was our first chance to really talk since I told her that I’d found a lump. In the interim time, my sweet mother-in-law passed away, my friend went on a vacation to Denmark and England, and I had surgery and got my pathology results.

It was a busy July!

In our conversation, we got to talking about how surprisingly hard it is when someone you love dies… even when you know it is coming. Interesting that she brought it up when I’d been contemplating this issue over the last few weeks.

When my beloved Daddy died, we knew it was coming. The doctors told us all that there was nothing else to be done… to prepare him and us for the inevitable… and that it could be at any time. For 9 months, every single time Mama called, I knew it was going to be “The Call to let me know he was gone. We prayed for his suffering and pain to end. My expectation was that when it really was The Call, I’d feel relief that his suffering and pain were finally over. How wrong I was!

When The Call came, it was my sister on the phone… and my heart broke with the shocking amount of pain and sadness and loss. It took a long time to grieve and come to terms with the loss of Daddy. (see my thoughts on Daddy here: In Loving Memory )

In January of this year, they started preparing us for my sweet mother-in-law’s passing. In March, she stopped eating. They told us it would be a matter of days. Once again, I thought we would feel the relief of her suffering being at an end. I was even angry at times that she lingered… why prolong this agony for her? Please, I prayed, just take her home.

When The Call came in July, I was once again shocked at how heartbreaking the pain and sadness and loss were. We are still in the grief process and the pain is still quite fresh.

My friend said similar things about how she expected to feel relief at the end of the suffering when her Daddy passed. How she was surprised at the pain and sadness.

We talked about that for a while and then I told her what I’d been thinking about all this.

I think it’s painful because we are designed to be a hopeful people. We hope for the best outcome in every single thing in life.

We hope for a cure for cancer.
We hope for our children to grow into responsible citizens.
We hope that we go to heaven.
We hope that …
We hope that …
We hope that … you fill in the blanks… you know them as well as I do.

In these situations, we hope against all that we know… that there will be a medical miracle and that beloved person lives.

It is my belief that God designed us to be hopeful. As a Christian, I believe in the hope of eternity in heaven because Christ gave that to me. (I know others believe differently, but this is my blog, so I’m writing about what I believe and think here.)

Being designed as a hopeful people is a great thing. It allows us to persevere and grow and continue to push ourselves to learn and become more than we thought we could be.

It allows me to trust God for the hope that I need for each day and for my eternity.

My friend and I talked about some weighty issues today.








It was a great lunchtime.

…may there be mercy as I hope… always.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

need sleep

Mercy on last night's rest was given to everyone... except me.

All my friends who have sleep issues had a much better night's rest. My sweet husband had a good night's sleep. Not me.

Not sure why I couldn't sleep, just that I was awake most of the night. Much of it with hot flashes or night sweats.

Fall into light sleep, wake too hot, throw off covers, get increasingly hotter, throw off nightshirt, sweat more, turn over to find a cool spot, finally start to cool down, start to doze, get actually cold, come back to full awake status to locate covers, pull covers back over me, start to doze and begin the process all over again.

Yep, sometimes menopause bites!

When that process wasn't happening, my mind would not turn off. Still working through the grief process with losing my mother-in-law last month. Also there are other stressful issues that seem to pop up in the middle of the night on nights when I am awake so much.

Now I am just too tired to do anything more tonight. Somehow, heading to bed at 7 p.m. on a lovely summer evening just seems wrong.

Whatever. That's where I'm headed right now... armed with a sleeping pill as added insurance.

... may there be mercy and my hormones settle for tonight.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

too tired

Long, long day and I'm too tired to say much of anything tonight. Hoping for a restful sleep for us and for several of my friends who also have sleep issues.

I know most of my exhaustion tonight is from the stress of the work day while covering someone else's job. But the added stress of waiting to find out why my blessed father-in-law wanted to have a family meeting didn't help any.

Thankfully, it was to discuss moving him to a new apartment building. It's one that we like and want him to live there. So that plan is now in motion to get him moved.

Exhaustion is winning. I'm off to bed.

... may there be mercy on our rest.

Monday, August 07, 2006

mission accomplished!

Thanks to my friend SuziQ, I have mastered the mess of making the links work.

It wasn't an easy task today since I've been covering another person's desk at work. That desk is a much faster pace than mine, and very high stress. So I'm exhausted tonight and feel a bit beaten up. This has potential to be a tough week and to test my commitment to avoid stress eating.

In spite of being exhausted, I really wanted to tackle this making links thing. I'm glad I did. Makes me feel a bit better that I was successful.

If I can be successful when exhausted and figure this out, then I can be successful tomorrow and keep that commitment to avoid stress eating.

So, thanks much Q... and for much more than the email directions on how to do this, dear friend - you rock!!!

... may there be mercy and rest for all of us tonight.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

can't figure it out

Well, I've tried following the directions on adding links to this silly blog. I've tried changing the template to one that has links in it.

I still can't figure it out!

Tomorrow I'm changing the template back to the lighthouse. I like that one better.

... may there be mercy and some friend email me some simple directions!

Friday, August 04, 2006

bits and pieces...

We had a great time in Portland and this week has flown by. Worked some overtime in preparation for covering someone else’s desk next week. My work will sit and wait, which makes me a little nuts because I hate being behind. Guess I’ll be back on overtime after next week.

I actually don’t have a lot to say tonight, just trying to get back into the habit of blogging and finding things that pique my interest enough to write.

I got back on track with my weight this week. I’ve allowed myself to slide right into a 10 pound gain which really is not good. Mostly stress eating since Christmastime when big brother had that aneurysm, but also a bit of just indulgent behaviors, too. But, this week I’ve really gotten back on track. I’ve paid attention to portion sizes, what I’ve been eating, no wine all week and following the Weight Watchers plan. It shows on my scale in a 2 pound loss for the week. Yay!

Next week won’t be that big a loss, but I’m going to keep plugging away until that 10 pounds is gone.

Tomorrow morning, I’m meeting a friend to go to the Anacortes Arts & Crafts Festival. We make plans to go together to this event each year. Our sweethearts don’t like this “girly” kind of thing. Meet for coffee early and then just enjoy the day… fun!

Part of the fun is in browsing the booths, but part is in watching the people and seeing who we know as we wander. Many times I find that I don’t spend any money in the artisan’s booths, but have the most fun talking with folks that I haven’t seen in quite some time.

And this weekend I am free to start quilting again… yippppppeeeeeeeee! While I still hurt some and get sore pretty easily after minor exertion, I’m going to spend a bit of time on Sunday working on a project. A co-worker has asked me to make her one of those Christmas table runners that I made last year and will pay me for it. Since I’ve already got that cut out, I’m going to sew some on it and see how far I can get. Once that is done, I’m starting on this year’s Christmas gifts!

But for now, I need sleep.

… may there be mercy on this weekend’s fun.