Machine Quilting Marathon

What you’re looking at, above, is the back of my 54″ x 60″ art quilt. You’ll be forgiven if you can’t quite make out the machine quilting details, it’s not the best shot. Here’s a close-up of some of the madness:

As I mentioned in a previous post, my sewing machine is right-hand dominant; the “throat space” is on the right, the controls (this is an old machine, so, there aren’t many controls) are on the right. So, my right arm is feeling a bit of repetitive strain. Needless to say, since my machine-quilting marathon began 3 weeks ago, I’ve done little if any swimming, belly dance or fiddle-paying, all activities which require a cooperative rotator cuff.

Here’s some of the quilt front:

A close up:

All the hard stuff is done. While there’s still 20% to go, it’s mostly stippling on the edges, which is not very time-consuming. Today I had the Turner Movie Channel on in the background while I was sewing; today’s movie theme was Disney live-action films like the Parent Trap and Escape to Witch Mountain. I’m not kidding you, those movies were playing while I was sewing. I was also dealing with a migraine, so, creating a simple mood was key in getting anything done.

I hope I can get this thing to hang nice and straight when it’s done. THAT is a huge chore for any non-traditional quilt where there’s lots of distortion of the fabric.

Another Quilting Update

OK. I’ve got about 1/3 of the quilting done, though you can’t really see all the detail here:

As a result I’ve got some tendonitis in my right shoulder from shoving the scrunched up quilt through the small square-shaped hole between the part of the machine with the motor and the part with the needle: I believe this is technically called the “throat space”. It’s very small on my machine.

I quilt on what you know as a sewing machine but what quilters now quaintly call a “DSM” (domestic sewing machine) because you can now buy (if you have the funds) super fancy quilting machines that quilt for you, practically.

So, between that and a killer migraine I’ve lost 2 days of quilting!! I really need to get this done, but I also don’t want to be headed to the orthopedic surgeon for another cortisone shot anytime soon. I had bad rotator cuff related tendonitis a couple of years ago when I tried to change the way I bowed my fiddle tunes. What a painful experiment that turned out to be. It’s kind of sad because I really need to push through now to get this done (my Christmas present this year? a whole day of quilting! uninterrupted!), even if the net result is a finished quilt and a repetitive strain injury.

More pics soon. But it’ll be a few days.

A Corgi Christmas Card

This is the Christmas card I just got from Arizona Cactus Corgi Rescue. The theme this year is Corgi Shantytown, given the economy.

Vicki, the corgi rescue group founder, sent me the image at my request so I could post it. Vicki said that for the past 8 Christmas Cards, she’s had the following themes:

“…Santa and Reindeer, The Nativity (including a live Burro), The Christmas Choir (Bark the Herald), a 7′ Christmas tree out of Hay bales with each dog being an ornament, Santa’s Workshop, with lots of little elves, “Do You See What I See”, with a huge dog bone coming down from above, Merry Christmas Charlie Brown, with the Peanuts Characters, and then this one. ”

Ha ha ha. I don’t know what sounds funnier and improbable to stage: corgis as Christmas ornaments, or as Linus, Snoopy and Charlie Brown. I was Linus in my 2nd grade production of a Charlie Brown Christmas, only because the 2 second-grade teachers agreed I was the only one smart enough to remember the words to the Gospel of Luke soliloquy Linus does at the end. I wonder what Corgi personality would fit that role?

Backyard Global Warming? Or Overachieving Agave?

The other morning while sipping coffee and looking out the kitchen window, I noticed this agave looking a bit odd:

To those of you unfamiliar with agaves, you might not notice the inflorescence starting in the middle of the plant. Inflorescence is the fancy word for the spectacular blooming stalk the agave sends up a few dozen feet before dying, and this bloom generally happens in the spring after the first frost.

I haven’t done anything special to this plant like fertilize it or over-water it. I’m going to call the plant clinic at the cooperative extension tomorrow and ask about this. I’ve never seen an agave start to bloom in mid-winter. We’ve had such ridiculously hot weather–80 degrees F.–which is 15 degrees above average for this time of year.

Tomorrow: a quilt update!

More Photos of Baxter the Corgi

That’s Bearbear on the left and Baxter on the right, waiting or dinner. You can tell, I guess, that Baxter is just too skinny; this was about 3 weeks before he died.


My friend Julie was over for dinner mid-November, when I roasted a free-range chicken; we were about to sit down, but I fed the dogs first. Bearbear and Baxter always had to sit and wait at the edge of the kitchen while I put their meals together. Julie thought they looked so adorable and patient, and she took a few photos.

It’s still hard to believe Baxter is gone. Oh well.

Another Belly Dance Recital!

Twice a year, my belly dance instructor has a “Friends and Family” recital for all of her students; some take her classes through Pima Community College, others (like me) take her classes at the Historic YMCA building. Everyone from beginner to advanced participates, if they wish. This is the second time I’ve participated. I know it’s supposed to be fun, but I find it really nerve-wracking, though I don’t really show it (my fingernails tell a different story) and I try to focus instead on making for a positive group experience.

Here’s a photo of me, Dawn, Alejandra and Yvette prior to our performance; the 4 of us are in class together. The costumes are cute, though I think next time I’m going to have to spray myself with Fake Bake because the farmer’s tan doesn’t really go with belly dance attire. Plus, I blush easily.

Yvette’s little sister was kind enough to take some photos of us. I’m supposed to be smiling more and not looking at the ground so much; I think I was the only one looking down a lot, but, on the positive side, I also managed not to trip and fall by being so vigilant.

I must admit, I do look like I’m worried that carpet is going to reach up and attack me:

I think all my classmates look really great!

Here’s a shot of (from left to right) Heidi, Lindsey and Jessica, who perform as a troupe; they have some great moves and this particular choreography had a lot of humor in it:

If I tried something like this I’d just bump into my fellow dancers….

…but they make it seem so easy. Ha!

While terrifying, I’ll continue to stick with the belly dance. It’s bad for my fingernails on the day of a performance, but the rest of the time it’s good for my back and overall health.

Plus, my instructor and my classmates are all really friendly, fun and upbeat.


First Day of Quilting

Feeling very down today due to Baxter being gone. I searched for the name of his original owner, Chester Gronowski from Sun City, AZ; I found a fragment of his online obituary here and it made me a bit sad to read, as it says Baxter misses him, Chester died in August 2008. I’m sure for the last almost-2 years Baxter has really missed Chester.

Anyway. Above is my quilting effort for the day. If my machine holds up, I should make good progress.

Baxter–What a Character–RIP

Baxter died tonight.

I took this photo as we went out the door to the 24 hour emergency vet (it’s Saturday night);¬† it’s not the most flattering photo, I guess I wanted just one more.

Baxter seemed to be in a state of decline for the past 3 weeks, but I thought it was the sudden extremely cold weather we had. His eating changed and it was harder for him to walk. I thought it was age and cold and this last¬† Thursday–just 48 hours ago!–I took him to a vet for a checkup, thinking I’d be told how to feed a finicky dog and get him to gain weight and help him w/arthritis pain; instead, that vet took his temperature–which was 104–and looked and him and listened to my report and told me he had cancer and needed to be put down. I could have a day or two to say goodbye but I shouldn’t wait long.

I felt she was right. But. I knew I needed a second opinion–or some proof–before I put him down. So that night I went to a 24 hour emergency vet for a second opinion. They were awful, and would not do any tests till the morning, though they wanted him to stay there overnight. I took Baxter home and the next morning went to another vet, one I’ve used before for an old dog I inherited. That vet did tests and images immediately, and told me he though Baxter had eaten something like a piece of cloth–he could see it in his stomach, though since Baxter had eaten a scrambled egg before going in he didn’t have the clear image he wanted. He gave Baxter fluids for the fever, a shot of antibiotics, and told me to bring him back Monday for another image sans breakfast, and he’d schedule surgery then.

So, today, 24 hours after we’d gotten home from THAT vet appointment, it was really clear that Baxter completely had taken a nose dive. All day today I worked around the house getting my quilt together, and Baxter seemed really really sick: he could hardly walk, refused to eat, labored breathing….it just got worse. So a good friend from the illegal dog park, Norma Jean, called me and suggested I go to the emergency vet….though I’d reached the same conclusion myself.

Which is where we went tonight, and 3 hours after arriving I had the diagnosis of cancer–everywhere–and I put Baxter down.

And so that’s that. It’s just devastating. I only had Baxter for 10 weeks and he was such a character; I’ve never seen such a complex, intelligent character in a dog, really. Bearbear is a great dog. Absolutely great. But he’s not a character like Baxter. I felt so awful to have to say goodbye to him. It just seemed so wrong.

Goodbye Baxter, RIP forever buddy.