Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Heading for New Mexico

When I came home this evening after church music rehearsals, I had a message from my cousin Jim, who lives in Bryan, Texas. He was calling to relay a bit of bad news in the family. Our Aunt Chick, as she was called by family, died yesterday after many years of life in a nursing home with Alzheimers'.

Chick, whose "proper" name was Geneva, was my dad's last surviving sibling. With her death another generation of the Smith clan is gone. This loss makes me and my cousin the senior generation. Since I have no descendents, my entire line will die with me on both sides of my family. Such morbid thoughts -- it's the same with many of my cousins as well. Very few on either side had children.

Jim did tell me that he is heading for Hobbs tomorrow and will piggyback a visit to a new grandchild on the way. I'm glad there's someone who will know the joy of passing on a portion of our history.

Like any unexpected emergency trip this one comes with a handful of headaches. It's a nine-hour drive from here to Hobbs and I have no air conditioning as you all know from previous posts. No chance that I can get it repaired in time for the trip. Can't afford to rent a car, I don't think. I should check on that before dismissing the idea completely. I have an 11-year-old hot car. Perhaps that is an option. Hmmm.

UPDATE: I checked and I have reserved a rental car. Just under $60 for three days. SO worth it not to drive a hot car! Woo hoo!

One tough thing is that payday is Saturday, too late for a bank run for cash. So the whole trip will have to go on plastic, something that sickens me. I thank God that I have that option, however.

Also grateful for having a cell phone available. That's new, too, and has become more important to me than I had expected.

Let's see. Chick's life was very interesting, but I want to wait until after the service before I say much about that. I will tell you her nickname came because of her lack of height. When she was a child, she was short enough to run around under the dining table. Family said she looked and acted like a little chick, constantly in motion. Heh, I turned out to be the tallest one at 5'. We didn't stand a chance, though, because Grandma Smith was 4'6".

I last saw my aunt at the home she shared with my Aunt Emma and my grandmother in Amarillo, Texas, on April 25, 1987.

She was the epitome of the phrase "tough broad." She was a registered nurse married to an oilfield mudder. When she made family visits back to Oklahoma from New Mexico, she drove alone across barren West Texas with my cousin in the back seat. Chick sat on a thick phone book as she drove. I remember one reunion at my grandparents' house where we all waited nervously for her arrival. Her big ol' car had betrayed her with vapor lock, which left her on the road crippled until things cooled enough to allow her to get running again.

She was a smoker and a beer drinker, tough as nails. No one would dare mess with her.

When I saw her last, I was struck by how much she looked like my father. Since he died in 1976 it was shocking to me to see her again, looking like him.

This could well be the last time we cousins get together, I'll not kid myself about that. Several years ago I held a cousins' reunion here in Oklahoma City and everyone but Jim was able to come. His sister Jane has since died. I suspect we're at the age now when we'll start getting calls or notes about this one or the other dying over the next few years. I'm the baby at 51.

Tomorrow will be a tough day because I'll have plenty of work tasks to compress into one day instead of two. I hope I can do it. If I make this trip I will have to leave early Friday morning.

Well, there are a few things I can get ready tonight, and I want to get a good night's sleep to gear up for what's ahead the next few days.

I suspect an afternoon start for my return trip Saturday, so I may spend Saturday night on the road, depending on how tired I am. I am almost counting on it at this point, coming on home Sunday. I might have to call this weekend my fall "vacation."

I'll catch up with everyone when I'm home again. I hope you have a more pleasant weekend.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Guess what?

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Well, yeah. Big surprise.

I hopped in the car at lunch today to run to the nearby Taco Mayo for a burrito and taco. While I was at the drive-through speaker, the car started shaking violently and smoke started spewing forth from the hood, smelling of Freon. The car started losing power and died a couple of times. I was stuck -- couldn't get out of line because I was already pinned in front and back and had placed my order, so I shut the car down as long as the line wasn't moving. Finally I got my order and drove directly to the place that has been working on my air conditioner all year long (OK, just since July. Hey, only TWO months -- and 11 trips!)

Along the way I had to keep the RPMs up so the car wouldn't stall, shifting into neutral as I approached traffic signals so I could idle faster and not risk dying the final death.

And when I got to the shop, I took my lunch in and sat down. When Mike asked if he could help me, I said "I'm going to eat my lunch first and then we'll talk." Mike says "Eddie's not here today." (Eddie being the guy who "specializes" in air conditioning for them.)

"I know. It's Tuesday. It's his day off," I replied. "So is Scott, the manager, here today?"

Well, Scott is in the shop today, but he's making the rounds to the other stores and has gone to the salvage yard for a part for another customers at another store. He'll be back sometime.

I can wait. I finish lunch and watch some of the judge shows on TV. I complain that there are no new magazines and I need something to entertain me. Mike has the newest issue of "People" behind the counter. I make him cough it up and put my feet up on the table for a while.

I visit with another customer who asked me if I'd been in before. I laughed and gave her the short version of the long story.

She noted some green fluid on the ground. I asked Mike if that was antifreeze, because I've been down that road before with a different car. He assures me it is the coolant from the A/C with a dye in it to detect leaks.

Mike finally said the compressor virtually exploded. He doesn't want to touch it because Eddie has been been working on it so long and he doesn't know what all has been done.

Finally Scott returns. He's more than willing to make good on everything. He asks if I would be willing to take it to one of his other stores to let someone else look at it. He's going to get me a rental car while it's in the shop. And if that's not a satisfactory offer, or if the other guy can't fix it either, he is willing to give me back my money.

I asked him to give me a little time to weigh the options and had him disconnect the belt to the compressor. So for the short term, I still have no air conditioning.

Can you spell exasperated?

Monday, September 25, 2006

Hello again

I haven't had a lot of blogging time this past week, so I apologize for leaving my haircut photo at the top of the page for so long. Yeah, I like it, quite a lot, but not really a week's worth. HA!

Anyway, I'm just taking a short break from my sewing machine. I've been in creative pursuits this weekend. I made a skirt Saturday night and a blouse tonight. They don't go together, but both go with other things already in my closet.

I've always enjoyed sewing, even in my teen years when it was a necessity rather than an expressive art. I can spend hours in a fabric store. I didn't think I still had it in me until the middle of last week, when I was exhausted from the everyday bits of my life. I think I spent about six hours total in three fabric stores -- well, more than that if you count the three quilting stores I went to on Friday.

I am well stocked for a while on fabrics, patterns, threads, necessary zippers and the other doo-dads that are a part of sewing. My den is set up, production style, with my sewing machine and ironing board. How handy it is to have them set up next to the TV! I've learned that most of my TV time is spent with my eyes on something else with an occasional glance at the screen, more like radio.

There's something so familiar and relaxing to me about being set up in such manner. I can remember working on particular garments in junior high with my sewing machine set up on a folding Army surplus table. I loved that table and miss it. I don't know what happened to it in the years after I left home. Now I use whatever open surface that is available around the house. There was a relaxing rhythm to the work, and I was surrounded by my family as they did whatever activity they were involved in. Dad would read while my mom and brother would be mostly focused on the TV.

Well, friends, I'm going back to put in the side seams and sleeves on the blouse. After that it will just be the hems, and I'll do machine hems on this item. I'll finish before bedtime tonight, no doubt about it.

Tomorrow I hope to tell you about my great day last Friday. See you later!

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

I could stand it no longer!

And so I went shorter!

I'm talking about my hair. I had these wild dreams about growing it long enough to donate to Locks of Love, along with a friend from church. But I measured a couple of weeks ago and it was only six inches long below my earlobe. To donate, the hair has to be cut at 12 inches or longer. That would put it down w-a-a-a-y too long. It was already a struggle dealing with it just past my shoulders. So yesterday I ran off and here is the result ...

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Can't get much shorter than this! (I must remember to use less shampoo.)

OK, I did find a "before" photo from a couple of months ago. My hair was just a smidge longer -- below my shoulders.

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Monday, September 18, 2006

It is finished

The 10th time is the charm! After today's trip to the repair shop (Day 10 in the saga) my car now produces cold air when the A/C is turned on!

Of course it does. I woke up this morning to discover the heater had come on in the house overnight. It was 63 degrees when I left the house.

Despite the cooler temperatures, the A/C is still a critical part of the car. Yesterday, during the torrential downpour in the morning, I was in dire need of the compressor as I was hydroplaning my way to church. Not only does the thing do the cooling, but it also is the key component of the defogger/defroster. I feel much safer knowing I won't have to carry a towel to clear my view on days such as those.

And man, wasn't that some rain! I was house-/dog-sitting for my friends in the country. Leaving the house requires putting the dog in the outdoor kennel, where she has a crate for keeping dry and nominally cozy.

Yeah.... by the time Miss Emma Lee was in her digs I looked like someone had taken a barrel of water and dumped it over my head. I barely had time to track down a plastic garbage bag and pack up my hair dryer and a change of clothes. After a 40-minute drive to church I was able to get changed and get my hair dry, get my choir robe on and make it to the loft in time to play handbells. There were only a few folks that saw me completely soaked before I was able to make myself quasi-presentable. Choir robes are a wonderful thing!

By the way, I was able to secretly work on the quilt project some yesterday afternoon. I got all the strips and block sections cut, unseen. They will be surprised when they see I started working on it at their house.
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Friday, September 15, 2006

Catching up

I've been away from home for a couple of days. Wednesday night at the end of choir practice we got the word that one of the older ladies at church (79 years old) had been in a hit-and-run car accident. This is the widow of my friend who died in February -- a woman I feel very close to and very protective of. I went straight to the hospital, which is just a few blocks from the church, to see her in the E.R.

Our minister was there, as well as her granddaughter. Shortly after, another couple of friends came as well. She had had some X-rays and a CAT scan and we waited with her for the results. Eventually she convinced most of them that she would be fine, so we had a prayer with her and people slipped on home. We expected she would be kept overnight, but at 10:30 I was able to take her home. I stayed with her to check her through the night for signs of concussion, but she snuck in to my room and reset the alarm clock so I wouldn't wake her at 3 a.m. The little stinker! I got up at 6 to make sure she was OK and she told me to go back to bed!

Yesterday, around my work assignments, I managed to run several errands for her. Fortunately she had a friend doing some painting on her house and he arrived just as I was off to take care of some things. He finished up and was getting in his truck just as I returned. That's good timing!

Among the errands I ran was cleaning out her car at the body shop. The wrecker service took her car over there just before I went by the impound yard, so I had to go track it down at the second location. She had had some clothes altered and picked them up at church just before the wreck. That's the main thing that concerned her -- she wanted her clothes!

I got everything from the car, then she sent me back to look for her handicapped parking card and to get the tag off the back of the car. I hadn't been able to find the hang tag when I went through it the first time but she said she kept it in the middle between the two front seats. That's when a light went off -- when I got back to the yard I felt underneath the console as far as my fingers could reach, and I could feel it. It had been thrown below the console, between it and her car seat where it couldn't be seen. And I found an envelope with a few dollars in it that she was also worried about. That was truly a God-inspired lightbulb moment for me. I felt like Nancy Drew!

She's feeling a little better -- still a little sore but she insists on keeping active to work through the pain and not let it overwhelm her. She's still sharp enough that I'm not worried about a concussion. Now she's antsy to get a rental car from her insurance company until she can find a new car. This afternoon, when I finish my work, I'll take her to the body shop so she can see the car and I can get some photos of it for her.

Interesting note: The young driver who plowed into her lived in the neighborhood. Witnesses saw everything that happened and were of great assistance to her and the police at the scene. One witness followed the young man because he was her neighbor. She followed him to see if he went home. Sure enough, he did, so she returned to the police to let them know where he was. DUH!

As my friend was waiting for her test results, resting on a gurney in the hallway by the nurses' station, the police brought in the young man and his girlfriend, in handcuffs. They were seated in front of the nurses' station, just feet from us. Both were so impaired that it was difficult for them to sit upright in their chairs. They were there to be tested for substances that could have contributed to the accident, but it was generally accepted among those on the floor that these two were stoned out of their ever-lovin' minds. Sometimes the system works in delightful ways. The young man seems to have a record an arm long of reckless driving and driving while impaired. One officer told us "he's a very, very bad boy. But she's worse."

And so that's my adventure so far this week. I'm off to get my work done now, as expediently as possible, so I can take care of a few other things later in the day. The weekend will be busy as I'll be house/dog sitting for other friends, and the handbell choir is playing Sunday morning. Looks like I'll be seeing a lot of road before Monday gets here!

Y'all take care!

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Working on projects

Shhhhh! This is top secret!

I've got some quilt projects in the works. I spent a small fortune on fabrics today -- it took a long time to get all the 19 pieces cut at Hancock's. I've got the dark reds and purples in the washing machine right now, getting ready for cutting into quilt pieces. I'll be using a speed strip method so I don't have to cut itty-bitty squares and sew them back together.

The first one I plan to make will be a nine-patch. If I have successes, I will post progression photos.

I've got enough in my stash now to make three or four quilts. That's not counting scraps and fabrics already in my stash. I may wind up scrounging through those after I get the first projects under way.

These quilts will be gifts.

Today in Sunday school one of my friends and I co-taught a lesson on "The Keeping Quilt." We talked about the various ways we humans share The Story through the ages through a variety of means -- the oral tradition; the written word; songs; art; and quilts.

Family histories are shared through these practical home-made coverings. Fabrics often came from family members' clothing. There may be other sources of materials with historical significance.

In my family's case, the farm families made good use of the materials in feed sacks. Feed companies knew they provided considerable usable yardage for farm families and accommodated the tastes of their customers' wives and daughters.

Other details found in quilts also tell a family's history. In my family, my great aunt Beulah (known to us as Bo-Bo) was engaged to be married in the early 1910s. As we know, World War I broke out and America's young men fought their first battles overseas. Bo-Bo's fiance, Maynard, was killed in one such battle; she never married.

Back home, though, Bo-Bo and my great-grandmother Laura Lee Deal had been working to prepare items for her household. In the works were two quilts made of similar fabrics. After Maynard's death, there was a change in plans in the quilting of one of the pieces. In the solid squares of this quilt, they quilted the pattern of a war eagle where otherwise plain quilting would have gone. A soldier was dead; his love remembered for the rest of her life.

Their love story was told every time the quilts were brought out of storage. It was a ritual my mother performed on special occasions, to make sure I learned about that bit of family history from a young age.

One of the quilts went to my mother's sister. When she died, her children (my cousins) had no interest in keeping that quilt. It was already packed in a black trash sack when they asked me if I would be interested in having my aunt's quilts. I immediately shouted "YES" and rescued four quilts from the trash pile. I am sorry my cousins didn't understand the history behind the family quilt they had in their hands, but I am delighted that the two companion quilts are back together and living, for the most part, in Bo-Bo's cedar chest, next to my bed.

Another family treasure is my mother's baby quilt, made by my great-grandmother Laura Lee Deal. She embroidered the details of when it was made, by whom and for whom on the back. That's the way to share the history of a quilt -- with an embroidered provinance.

I'll share more about the quilts I'm working on later. For now, I can only hope they will some year have more of a meaning than the money I spent today at the fabric store. Honestly, I don't think that will be a problem.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Cozy Corner Challenge!

In the previous post I showed you a picture of my den, one of my favorite spots in my house. So instead of a meme, I am issuing a photo challenge. I've seen other bloggers do this and it is just fascinating! Your assignment is to take a photo of your favorite corner of your house -- and explain why you like it so much. Mine is the photo below, and I think the reason I like it is because it is cozy. Also because it's a bit of a peculiar room, having once been outside of the house. It is an addition, as is apparent from the exterior brick wall leading to the dining room and the former porch light which is still working.

And I mentioned the "curtains" are really quilts covering floor-to-ceiling French doors that have been used to enclose the walls of the room.

Here's a view from a different angle showing the wall of cabinets you'll see from the sofa. Lots of games, books and hobby things are stored behind those white doors.

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Heh, I just noticed how that suitcase next to the chair seems to be smiling. It's filled with the memorabilia of my mom's life -- photos of her friends from nursing school, song sheets from bars in Chicago they visited. No wonder it's smiling!

Saturday, September 02, 2006

The new year begins

I don't know about the rest of you, but I still seem to measure my life in semesters. Yes, even at 51, September is REALLY the new year on my internal calendar. Life begins anew at Labor Day. And, well, looky. The calendar shows that this is Labor Day weekend.

Alicia over at Posie Gets Cozy is on a little hiatus as she gets her new shop area set up at an antiques mall in Portland. Oh how I long to go back to Portland now that I know about her and so many other creative bloggers who live there. It's almost as though I've found a nest of kindred spirits there. Someday, perhaps. Someday.

And Kuky at Kuky Ideas is making the CUTEST dolls. I adore them! Kuky just has this incredible simple, cute style that makes me laugh, even on the days when that's the last thing I want to do. I feel so lucky to have stumbled on her blog. And her baby is getting new teefies too. Look at the photos. The other day I also discovered her blog about her dogs. I don't know how I've managed to miss out on that one for so long. I've fallen in love with them too now. Go visit Waldo and Nestle and give them a treat and a hug.

It feels as though the summer's heat has finally crested. We've had some rain the past couple of days. But no, we're in that period where it's still hot as hades most of the time. We may be scorched for a while, but not parboiled like in August.

What's the latest on the A/C? Well, Eddie tells me they have now been able to ORDER the part that's been on back order, and I should check with him on Tuesday. So no great holiday driving adventures for me over this long weekend. Not unless it snows. I'm not happy that I'm having to alter my lifestyle because of this machine, but that's life. I'd much rather have the freedom to get in the car and go if I feel like it without worrying about melting into the floorboards. Sigh.

One of my message boards has been having a thing where we show each other photos of our homes. Pretty much everything is fair game -- people ask to see parts of your house and if you're willing, you show them.

Well, you may know how this goes, if you know me. Clean, clean, clean... photograph. Move to next area. Clean, clean, clean... photograph. Oh, but that means moving stuff from Area 2 to the space you cleared out in Area 1 for the photos there. Eventually the clutter from the guest room somehow winds up on the kitchen counters because that's the only space still open! Sigh.

My goal for today is to actually move some of that clutter all the way out the front door if there's not a proper place for it. I'd like to preserve some of the clean spots!

Here, I'll share one of my favorite rooms with you since I'm kind of proud that I finally got it looking livable again. My den. I've gotten rid of all my dead plants. At one time it was a lush room with many living, gorgeous plants. One day I made a semi-conscious decision that I wasn't going to fool with them any more. I can't believe I did that, but I think it was at a particularly hard time when I did not have the energy to be concerned with them any more. Now I wish I had maintained them. But I'll start replacing them, slowly, so I can stop when I get to the point of "enough!"

I love this room, but don't spend enough time in here any more. Most of my waking hours are spent in my office. Time for that to change some. The den is a place where I feel most cozy, especially when I have friends over to share the space.

Here, come pull up a chair and let's chat!

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