Friday, December 16, 2011

Day 289 of 365

My fortune cookie last night read Your hard work is about to pay off.

That's great, but I want to know more. My hard work on what? At work? On my quilts? On the children's book I'm getting ready to work on again? On my decluttering?

I know it's not about my health. After spending a couple hours Christmas and grocery shopping with my husband last night I almost didn't want to go out to dinner because I was hurting so bad. If I wasn't the one driving, I just might have taken a pain pill at dinner. When I got home, it took everything I had to kick off my shoes and go lie down for a bit. Many times when I am really hurting I can go to bed knowing things might be better in the morning. Sometimes they are. Today they weren't.

The knees were killing me enough all day today that I made an appointment with my orthopedic surgeon's office. Not to get that other knee replaced (I'm delaying that one as long as possible), but to get an injection in my knee. I used to get cortisone injections in it, but the pain and damage in my knee is beyond what that kind of shot can do. The injection I'm needing is a synovial fluid replacement injection. They take a big ole needle of synthetic synovial fluid, mark a spot on my knee and, well, you can guess the rest. It's not really that I'm wanting an injection - it's a much more painful injection than cortisone - but it has provided me some relief twice before.

Knowing I can't Christmas shop or grocery shop is pretty depressing. At least I got a positive fortune and got to see this sight across the street from the Chinese restaurant.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Day 288 of 365

There are those pivotal moments in people's lives that change things forever. As I was sitting in a meeting this week, it became clear the leave of absence I took from work was one of those pivotal moments.

The past few years before the leave, my job required me to know the reading program we used at the elementary inside and out. I lived and breathed reading. Phonics, vocabulary, reading comprehension, writing. I taught lessons to teachers and kids. I trained teachers in other districts. I could walk into a room, pick up the teacher's manual and teach the lesson without any preparation. Any question about teaching reading I could answer right then and there, on the spot. For six years I was an expert at it.

But as I was sitting at a meeting this week I noticed a shift has happened. Taking a year off from work really has changed me. While the conversation at the meeting was around teaching reading, it seemed like so long ago since I was a part of it. Even though it was a little over a year ago since I was engaged in the teaching-kids-to-read process it seemed like a lifetime ago. I know my knowledge must be buried somewhere in my brain but it wasn't bursting to come out. Even the excitement has waned. I imagine it could be interpreted as a good thing or bad thing.

I think it's a good thing. My passion for teaching reading has been replaced with a passion for doing other things for kids. I did my thing as a teacher (and loved it at the time but not anymore), as a reading "coach" (loved it at the time but not anymore), as a trainer (and loved it too but not anymore). If it weren't for being off of work for a year, I would never have found the next thing I love - sewing things for others, particularly kids.

And I would never have yet another couple quilt tops ready to quilt for Operation Kid Comfort.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Day 287 of 365

My great-grandfather used to have a collection of postcards he kept in a desk drawer in his living room. As a little kid I used to go through those post cards whenever I visited.

When I visited my grandmother who lived next door to us, I used to go through something in a drawer of hers, too. Something of great interest to me. In her kitchen one of her drawers was a designated junk drawer. Pens, pencils, matches, screws, magnets, papers, and lots of other little things were in that drawer. For a girl who liked to organize (me), sorting through the junk drawer was quite fun.

We have our own junk drawer here at home, too. Typically the bulk of the drawer is made up of screwdrivers, pliers, a hammer, nails, screws, glues, candles, and such. We haven't cleaned it out in a long time so if you were to open the drawer today you'd also find a pair of gloves, some weatherstripping, a school bus candle holder, razor blades, washers, a sprinkler repair tool, garden labels, a flashlight, a watermelon plaque, and dozens of other little bits of pieces of things. It's in desperate need of some organization. I made three trips to that drawer today but not to organize it.

I intended to put together what should have been a quick and easy project today. When my daughter was home last week, I had her help me put a cork bulletin board in my sewing room. It used to be her board through high school and college and had bits and pieces of stickers around the frame.

My first trip to the junk drawer was to fetch the Goo Gone, which turned out to not be in there. Sometimes I use it in my sewing room, but after checking there I came up empty. (I think I probably took it to school and forgot to bring it back.) The second trip to the junk drawer was to get the paint scraper to help get the stickers off.

With a clean frame, I used some fabric to cover the bulletin board. Sprayed some basting spray on the cork board and applied the fabric. After some wrangling and re-cutting and re-piecing I was able to use up every available inch of the fabric piece to get it to fit on every available inch of the board. Then I began to staple the fabric down around the edges.

On my first press of the stapler, my stapler broke. I grabbed another stapler (not like we don't have others around), but this particular stapler wouldn't go all the way into the cork. Hence, the next trip to the junk drawer to get the hammer so I could slowly tap, tap, tap the staples in.

The bulletin board is finished and my junk drawer is still a mess. 

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Decorated Snowman and Snowflake Sugar Cookies - Day 286 of 365, Tutorial Tuesday

I'm a fan of snowman. Maybe it's because I'm a fan of snow. Kind of.

I love to watch the snow falling but I don't like driving in it. I enjoy shoveling snow but I don't like the cold. I like the look of clean, clear sidewalks and driveways with snow piled to the side. I love waking up in the middle of the night and having the house bright inside because it had snowed. I like that 6 AM phone call that I get telling me there is no school. I like calling the next person on the "snow tree" (yep, that's what it's called) and breaking the wonderful news to them.

I think teachers might even be more excited than the kids when a snow day is called. The snow day call has always been a competition at our house. My husband and I work in neighboring school districts. There are some years where he'll get a call and I won't, some years where I get a call and he doesn't, and some years we both get the call. We've learned not to rub it in if we personally get a snow day because more than likely next year the roles will be reversed.

We haven't had any snow days this year. Yet. But give us some snow and a bit of wind and you might find happy folks in this house.

Right now my snowman and snowflake decorated sugar cookie tutorial will have to suffice.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Day 285 of 365

The achoo and bless you days are done. I've had enough and tossed them in the trash.

I'm talking about salt and pepper shakers.

I'm a collector. I have probably a hundred or so pair. Gas station pumps, tractors, dump trucks, cars, and trains. Characters like Mr. Potato Head, Gumby and Pokey, Smokey the Bear, Cat in the Hat, and Winnie the Pooh. Some made of marble, antlers, and Mt. St. Helens volcanic ash.

When I first started collecting, I bought just about any salt and pepper shaker set I could find. When others found out I collected salt and pepper shakers they bought for me as well. After a few years my collection was beyond what I had room for, so I stopped buying and only kept the ones I absolutely loved.

One pair that was given to me was a plastic set of old folks. When the grandpa-y one was used it achooed and when the grandma-y one was used it said bless you. I eventually put those noisy ones in the donation box I kept in the back of the car. Every time I turned a corner, stopped, or started, the grandpa would go off. We wound up bringing the set back in the house and stuck them in a drawer until we knew we were going to drop them off at the donation center.

That was years ago. Those noisy shakers have been in the drawer ever since. Never been used. But ever since then, the grandpa goes off randomly. If you walk by the china hutch. If you're eating dinner. If you're sleeping in the middle of the night. The batteries aren't easy to take out, so we've just lived the random achoo occurring all times of the day and night.

So as I was sitting at the table and the achoo hit again, I decided enough was enough. Out to the garbage. Now.

I don't need any sneezing around when I'm decorating cookies.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Day 284 of 365

We used to have dial up internet long after everyone else moved to high speed. We knew it was slow, but we weren't on the computer all that much anyway. We didn't realize how slow it was until we switched to cable internet. It's a whole different world! Now I can't ever imagine going back.

Like my new bed linens. We've always had multiple layers of blankets, quilts, and comforters on the bed during the winter, along with flannel sheets that never fit right on our extra-deep mattress. Some years we might add in an electric blanket. No matter what combination we use, it's heavy. It's hard to turn over and we fight for each layer to stay on the bed evenly.

Not anymore. After sleeping in hotels like Hampton that have amazing beds and linens, I finally get to have the same experience at home. Our new flannel sheets that are made for thick mattresses are wonderful. Our new plush blanket is wonderful and my new down comforter is even more wonderful.

What's not wonderful? The time I'm wasting because of the problem with my iron. It's slowing down my quilt-making process and now that Sunday night is here, I have to report that I didn't get even one quilt finished. I can also report I never got around to getting my Christmas cookies decorated.

Here's hoping today's cookies will be prettier tomorrow.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Day 283 of 365

Notes to self:
  • Drive your behind down the road to get a good picture of a lunar eclipse if it's happening at 7 AM. It wasn't enough to get yourself out of bed to look at it - the moon was too far away for you to take a picture. Get those darn shoes on and grab those car keys even if it is only 15 degrees outside.
  • Don't wear arthritis gloves when you're cutting fabric. Those soft gloves that make your fingers and hands feel better when you're sewing and typing aren't the best things to be wearing when you're cutting. They'll act like a lint roller and will pick up every stray piece of fabric and teeny tiny piece of thread around. And don't even attempt to pick those threads off the gloves. They'll get sucked right back onto the gloves before you can get the thread to the trash can.
  • Don't look a gift horse in the mouth. If someone offers you an early Christmas present and that present is a new iron, take it. That present just might come in handy when you're sewing up a kid's quilt you want to get mailed out in the next week. Handy because your other iron is still on the fritz. That old iron that will only get hot if you turn it off, unplug it, let it cool completely, then turn it back on. You'll have to do that every few minutes. It'll take you all day to press one quilt top because of the frequent cool-it-down turns.
  • Get some dang curtains in the den window. How many days are you going to have to wear your husband's baseball cap before you figure out curtains are a more effective way to block out the evening sun?
  • Remember at this time of year there are fewer daylight hours. Fewer hours of daylight mean fewer hours of finding a potential picture of the day. There will be some times you'll find a picture after dark, but those will be extremely rare.

The rarity happened tonight. I may have missed taking a picture of the eclipse early this morning, but looking across the river tonight I did get the yellow moon rising through the trees.