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Please don't remind me that I'm poor; I'm having too much fun pretending I'm simply "living green" like everyone else these days.


Saturday, April 30, 2011

Update on neighbor

The locksmith came and we got the doors open.  No gas leak thank goodness!  I found her keys under her bed along with one of her guns.  I know where she normally keeps her guns and under the bed was not it. Scares me to think she had her gun out walking around the house at night thinking burglars were getting into the house. I had the police come to put safety locks on the guns, take the bullets with them, and put the guns away in a locked cabinet.  Whew!  Then I started making phone calls while I fixed her something to eat.

I contacted her son who lives right here in Louisville.  No one in the neighborhood could understand why he hasn't been around helping his mother.  Apparently he has been unaware she is suffering extreme dementia.  He works during the day and will stay with her at night for awhile.  He thought she was just being stubborn when she refused his help.  Today he is applying for guardianship with the courts.  He also took possession of the guns.   Another big sigh of relief! 

A doctor appointment has been set up for tomorrow to see if there is a medical condition causing her dementia to be so bad all of a sudden.  In just a short two weeks this lady has gone from a very active senior to a completely confused person believing burglars are trashing her house at night.  Another appointment has been set up for next week to apply for housing at an assisted living facility.  Her son now understands that she should not be living alone in her house anymore. 

I also contacted Adult Protective Services and they have already gotten her a worker.  The worker came to visit during the afternoon and met with her and her son.  Many people associate APS with only investigating cases of abuse but they do so much more than that.  APS can cut through red tape really fast.  APS can get appointments immediately when a family member will be told there's a long wait.  APS was a tremendous help to me when I was dealing with my mother.  I'm sure they will be helpful for them too.

New people in the neighborhood might think I'm meddling all the time but they soon realize I'm the one who can be relied on to help.  I'm home most of the time.  I know who belongs in the neighborhood and who is a stranger.  When parents are delayed getting home from work, the kids can come to my house to wait after getting off the school bus.  When someone is locked out of the house, I have a set of keys.  When the people are away and the alarm goes off, I'm the one that can turn it off after the police check for burglars.   When packages are delivered but the person is at work, the package is left at my house.  Hmm... even the mail lady and the UPS man know where to leave the packages.

You might wonder why I do these things when most of the time no one will even offer to help me with carrying groceries or making a garden.  Well, hmm, this is just the person I am.  A good Samaritan without any expectations of something in return.  I believe I will get my rewards someday when I see my deceased sons again.

Well now that my neighbor is taken care of, I can get back to my own work.  I have quilts that should get done very soon and a garden that must be planted.  My house needs some attention as well.  The dust bunnies have been multiplying while I wasn't looking.  Naughtly little buggers!

Friday, April 29, 2011

Ok here

I want to say I'm ok.  The river is a few blocks from my house.  Even if it got flooded around here like it did a few years ago, my house is higher than the others on my block. 

I am the neighborhood nanny.  I have house keys and alarm codes.  I take in lost kids and feed stray animals when the need arises.  I look in on elderly and handicapped folks, even cook for them sometimes.  The last few days I've been dealing with one lady that has suddenly gotten really bad dimentia.  She's convinced that burglars are getting into her house during the night and she's very afraid all the time. 

I was prepared to write a good post but right now this lady is locked in her house and can't find her house keys.  I worry about her because she sometimes turns the gas stove off enough to make the flames go out but not completely off so there is sometimes gas leaking.  She changed the locks Wednesday while I was away and I don't have a copy anymore.  I have called a lock company to come open the doors for us.  I'll write a post either later today or tomorrow after I've helped her.  

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Garden planning

As a child I spent a lot of time with relatives when my mother was too sick to care for us.  My aunts and uncles had gardens and did lots of canning.  I helped with their gardens when I was there.  My grandparents (I called Mama and Papa) had gardens and canned lots of things.  Papa would hitch up the mule each spring to plow up the spot where he planned to plant the garden.  My pet goat and I would follow along and sit nearby to watch Papa.  The goat followed me.  Probably because she knew there would be spring grass to nibble on. 

After a morning of plowing, Papa would let the mule nibble on grass too while he and I would walk down to the bottoms to fish and eat lunch.  Sometimes we caught a fish or two, sometimes not.  A couple of hours later Papa would go back to plowing and I would head for home with our catch if there was any. 

Papa was the one who decided what was planted in the garden and where.  I never really understood how he decided and he never offered to teach me.  Maybe he and Grandma Mama discussed what to plant when I was off doing childhood things.  Grandma Mama taught me how to spot polk or early dandelions.  She taught me how to find elderberries, dewberries, wild strawberries, and blackberries but she never discussed planning a garden with me.  When it was time to plant, Papa simply told me to put the potato cuttings at such and such intervals as he came behind me to cover them.  Potatoes were always planted on Good Friday.  Papa told me to put a corn or bean seed every so often and I did.  It was the same for all the planting.  I was the helper and never gave much thought to why they planted which plants.  I now realize that Papa and Grandma Mama saved seed from year to year.  Only a couple of times do I remember Papa going to the general store to pick up new seeds.  The seeds were stored in drawers of a seed cabinet.  The customers picked up a little scoop and got what they wanted.  The cost was determined by the weight of the seeds.

What's the point of this story?  It's that I know nothing at all about "planning" a garden.  What should I grow?  How many plants?  What types?  How far apart?  Will there be enough for canning or simply enough to eat through the growing season?

Even back when I actually had a tiny backyard garden it was merely a couple of tomato plants, a cucumber plant, some bib lettuce, and every now and then something different if I could find it at the garden center in tiny pots.  Nothing was planned other than stretching my food dollars through the summer.  Even last year my tiny garden boxes had only a few plants with nothing really planned.  Canning or freezing extra was just a bonus.  Now I have these lovely new raised beds that will become my new small but intensive garden.  I also have the raised beds from last year to use too.  I find I'm at a loss about what to plant. 

I have a few plants given to me by the man who built the boxes.  A starter pack he called it.

I know whatever I do plant will have to include one for me, one for the rabbit, and two for the thieves neighborhood foragers.

I know I can't just plant willy nilly again this year.  There must be a plan.   I want to grow plants with the idea of canning some to eat during the cold months.  I also hope to build a tent to cover at least one of the raised beds to grow greens through the winter too.  We've had rain, rain, rain the past couple of days and more rain is expected all week.  There was so much lightening all day yesterday that I couldn't quilt or get onto the computer.  It took me all day to write one email because each time I turned on the computer the lightening started again.  I used the down time to think about garden plants. 

I know there are certain plants I really want and there are some I might try.  Tomatoes, peppers, bib lettuce, radishes, green beans, beets, and collard greens are a must.  Cantaloupe, baby watermelon, flowering cabbage, and carrots are a maybe.  Does anyone have any secrets to share about planning a garden?  Does anyone know about seed saving?  I remember doing it but the details are lost with my memory.  Hmm... has anyone seen my memory?  I'd really like to get it back.

I hear thunder again, time to post and turn off the computer.

Friday, April 22, 2011

They are done

The two memory quilts are finished and have been picked up.  I believe there will be plenty of tears over the weekend.  I'll hear all about it Monday when the man comes back to do some more handyman work for me. 

This is the first one.... left side.

The right side.

The tribute square.

The second one.... left side.

Other side.

The tribute square.

I did simple crosshatching all over both the quilts because it's subtle and follows the squares theme.   Her clothes are the important focus.... not the quilting.  I used cream color thread except for the tribute squares.  On those I used mono thread.  I wrapped the backing over the front for the binding.

It's a holiday weekend and I plan on relaxing instead of quilting.  I might work on the garden... then again... maybe not.  It's supposed to rain most of the weekend.  Actually, they say it will probably be raining until Friday of next week. The river is still at flood stage and the weather service can't make up it's mind how much farther the Ohio River might flood.  One prediction says it will be at 29 feet above flood stage and other predictions say only 27 feet above.  A flood is a flood... how much water doesn't matter... it's still destructive and dangerous.

Have a great holiday weekend everyone!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

What is today?

Monday after my doctor appointment I came home to work on getting rid of this.

Which now looks like this. 

This side.

Now looks like this.  See how much the cherry tree in the foreground has filled out in only a couple of weeks?  It's full of tiny cherry buds.

I got lucky Monday.  I saw a city clean up crew working in this area cleaning up damaged trees from the last storm that came through our area.  I asked if they would mind cleaning up the wood from back behind my house too.  To my surprise they did it!  They didn't mind adding my stuff into their load even though it wasn't on their list.  I went behind them and raked up all the little stuff left behind. 

Along about dark I'm standing admiring the work that's been done and I'm thinking to myself that this should be my next project of cleaning up the jungle.  All the vines and small scrubs that are growing in the fence.  If I don't take care of it right away it will take over the yard by summer.  I think I can start on it in the morning.

I hear a little voice in my mind say..... today is the 18th.  Then it dawned on me..... the date is the 18th!  Yikes!  I had completely forgotten.  The two quilts which are my part of the bargain are supposed to be finished by the 22nd.  I had agreed to change the due date a couple of weeks ago so he could give the girls their quilts for their birthday.  I've been so thrilled and involved with the changes in my backyard I had completely forgotten about the new due date.  So today (Tuesday) I headed straight to the studio when I got up.  The tops are now done and ready for quilting.  

She wore a shawl quite often.  She had two favorites which are now the borders on the quilt.  The one above was a shawl of fleece.  This one is handwoven from Mexico.

Because of the loose weave it took quite a bit of work to keep it from raveling after the cutting.  I put a stabilizer on the back then cut the strips.  Handling very gently I put fray check along the edges then zig zagged to hold it together.   Tomorrow the first will be quilted, hopefully before Ladybug arrives.  The other will be quilted on Thursday and the binding on both will be done Friday morning.  Providing..... we don't loose power during the storms coming through here tonight. 

He came by today to give final approval of the tops.  Last chance to make changes before the quilting is done.  It's always a teary eyed emotion when the quilt tops are viewed for the first time.  I believe his daughters will like the quilts as much as he did.   I could hear the angel whisper in my ear.... you did good. 

Monday, April 18, 2011

After grocery day

I really don't mind shopping nearly as much as putting it all away after I get home.  This month I got a lot of bargains that were exactly what I had on my shopping list.  Bread for Easter holiday dinner.  No need to bake it if I can find it on discount.  Less time in the kitchen on a holiday.  (to see the normal price on these, click to make the photo larger)

Corn bread to be with my evening meal so I don't have to cook anything the day after shopping day.  My crock pot comes in handy while I'm busy putting foods away.  Things like this cornbread are my version of fast food.  It's just as convenient to visit the grocery deli as it is to order from a drive through but much healthier from the deli.

Rolls for a cookout my daughter plans in a couple of weeks.

I do a lot of repackaging of the foods into individual portions before freezing.  Like this three pounds of discount 80/20 ground beef.  I first mix it for burgers.

Make up a dozen burgers to flash freeze then add more ingredients for meatloaf.

Which is then frozen into individual size meatloaf muffins.  If you do this be sure to lightly oil the muffin tin or else you won't be able to remove them after freezing.  I use a store brand of pam.

Individually wrapped burgers and meatloaf muffins make it convenient to thaw and cook only what is needed for one or two people.  These are just the right portion size for a person on a special diet like me.  If I change my mind and want to use these for meatballs I can just reshape them before cooking.  If I want to use these for sloppy joes or tacos I just chop them as I cook.  Get the idea?

I do the same repackaging and freezing with my other foods.... like these.

Repackaged and ready to thaw out only what I need for a meal.

I've never tried beef bacon before but I'm willing to try it.  The other bacon was a better bargain I think.

Repackaged for convenience.  No need to thaw out a whole package when I would eat only one slice or maybe use a couple of slices for flavoring in other meals.

The same with lunch meat.  Frozen as individual portions for convenience.

These are for Mexican dishes I want to try or as an ingredient in a salad.

Ok, what's a Mexican meal without taco shells? 

I got several produce bargains too.  Corn, carrots, lettuce, onions, and celery that I'll be working on today and tomorrow.

Thinking ahead to this fall, I found some bargains for making pickles from the cucumbers I plan to grow in my backyard garden.

I couldn't pass up these for my sweet tooth attacks.  These were about half price or less.  Sugar free of course because I gotta watch my diet.  These are for when I'm too busy to cook a sweet desert but the craving is strong.  Actually, they're almost too sweet for my taste.

I found many more bargains like these.

And these.

And this.... which was my crock pot meal the next day.  Vegetable beef barley soup using some of the barley I found on discount a few months ago.

Before I end this post I want to show you the progress on my backyard garden.  Aren't they pretty?  These are just waiting for me to fill with dirt and plants.  Life is really looking up these days.  I'm thinking it's going to take a lot of dirt to fill these boxes.  4' x 8' by 12" high.  Yup, that's a lot of dirt.

My work won't get done until I go do it so now I must get off the internet.  (type-talking to myself)  I'm as happy as can be about finally getting a backyard garden again.  This one is going to be much better than the one I had over 15 years ago thanks to a simple trade of quilting. 

Dirt wanted

I was awakened by the sounds of the emergency sirens going off this morning.  No bad weather at the moment so I turn on the tv to find out what's going on.  There's another chemical leak at a plant near my area.  This is the second chemical related accident in a short time. 

I also saw more reports on all the damage done by tornadoes the last couple of days.  My heart goes out to those who were affected by the destruction.  I pray none of my friends living in those areas are hurt.  
Ok, on to more pleasant thoughts.  The garden boxes are built, all I need now is the dirt to fill them.  Gosh, that's gonna be a lot of dirt.  The boxes are 4' X 8' and 12 inches high.  Exactly the way I wanted them but..... gosh, where will I get all that dirt to fill them?   I had thought I would by some bags from the hardware store or mega store but I'm having second thoughts.  That will be a lot of money to pay for dirt.   I need to come up with a plan. 

These also need to be planted pretty soon.  They are blooming already.   I'm not exactly sure where to plant them in order to get the most benefit. 

A friend brought me more cardboard.... double fluted kind..... which is always a nice gift.  Double fluted is hard for me to find.  I'll get these cut apart and stored away sometime today before Ladybug arrives.

There's the quilt on the machine I want to work on today.... right after I get back from the doctor's office.  So many things to do.... so little time.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

HUH? What?

*** note, I wrote this post a few days ago but failed to post it.  I'm putting it up even though it's a few days late.

Pardon me while I get up on the soap box and vent a little.  Before I go on let me explain that I believe there is a big difference being rich and being wealthy. Rich is like a self centered movie star or spoiled hotel chain owner. Wealthy is someone who works hard, lives thrifty, gives to charity, and saves for the future. The rich flaunt their money. The wealthy are like your next door neighbors.
I think the government people have lost their minds or maybe I'm just seeing things differently than I used to.  I was watching the Fox News Channel (FNC) about 3:30 am this morning.  I watched John Stotzel (sp?) talk about government subsidies given to the rich (himself included) while the poor can't get them.  It's a matter of the richest people cheating to get all the breaks while the poorest can't get a break.  The rich get richer and the poor get poorer. 

John pointed out that the people who really need certain things can't afford them in order to qualify for the subsidies.  Like, for example, solar power for homes.  The poorest people can't afford the thousands of dollars to invest in solar panels and wiring but the wealthy can.  So the wealthy get money from government every year because they install solar panels on their mansions while the poorest people, who desperately want solar, can't afford to get it.    The poor and middle class people are the ones who would benefit most from solar powered homes; yet, these are the ones who can't afford it in the first place.  In my opinion there should be grants for the poor and middle income people to install solar and no subsidy for the rich.  Or at the least a very limited subsidy for the rich.

Another subsidy John talked about was the rich having honey bee stands on their property.  John talked about how rich people have a bee keeper bring and store one honey bee stand on their property.  They have the bee keeper take care of it.  And they now qualify to get a government subsidy every year.  That's clearly cheating.    The intention (I believe) of the bee subsidy was for farmers to keep the bee population going... not to simply give the rich people a way to cheat.

I wish the show would air again because I missed about half of it.  Hmm.... why was this show aired at a time when most people are still sleeping?  It should be shown in prime time so more people see what's happening and then ask themselves who in DC is voting for those subsidy things.  It just irks me to see all the ways the millionaire rich cheaters get richer, the poor get poorer, and the middle class get squeezed in between.  Many people don't even realize what's happening.  While there are talks of cutting spending for a balanced budget..... why are these subsidies going to those who don't need them and social services are being cut?

Later, during another show, I saw where one state is planning to tax people who are over weight and those who are diabetic.  Aw come on.... what's next, a weigh in before filing a tax form every year?  A CPA certified weight?  Are there going to be weigh stations for people placed on sidewalks and country roads where people must get on the scales in the same way the trucks do?  If you are going to penalize or tax people for being overweight.... you should first offer healthier foods at reasonable prices.

Taxed for being diabetic?  What about infant diabetes?  Are they taxed too?  All I can say about this tax is that if the poor are to prevent diabetes, they must first have access to healthy foods and education.  The cheapest foods are fattening and unhealthy foods.  Look at a discounted package of sugary, deep fried, cheap donuts next to a bag of tomatoes or lettuce.  The tomatoes and lettuce cost way more these days.  If someone is simply buying food to keep from starving, on a very limited budget, the donuts will win.  You get the most volume from the donuts.  Volume fills the tummy.  Visit any food bank and you will find foods given out to prevent starvation but not intended to be healthy.  Again, the most volume, which is meant only to prevent starvation.

We finally have a farmer's market on this side of town.  There are usually one or two vendors once a week during the summer.  Their produce prices are as high or higher than a grocery produce department.  I'm really happy to see a small farmer's market day in this neighborhood.  I'm hoping some people will do what ever possible to buy the fresh veggies like I will be doing.  Yes, the cost is prohibitive for many in this area.  So where are the government subsidies for these farmers so they can lower their prices in low income neighborhoods?  Where is the subsidy for food banks to buy and give out healthier foods?  You see what's wrong with this picture?  The rich get richer.... the poor get poorer.... and the middle class is just one paycheck away from being poor.  What's next, a tax on being poor?

Don't get me wrong, I think it's great when a rich person enjoys the money they have.  If I had it, I would enjoy my money too.  It's just that there is a big imbalance between what really qualifies as a good government subsidy and one that's designed to help rich people cheat the system.  Paying a bee keeper to store one bee stand on your property should not be rewarded with money from the government.  Being an actual bee keeper and tending lots of bee stands, wherever placed, should qualify.  Being a mega farmer with thousands of acres of crops being sold to mega processing plants should not qualify.  Being a simple truck farmer making healthy produce available and affordable to the poorest neighborhoods should qualify. 

I guess I should explain again.... that I believe there is a big difference being rich and being wealthy.  Rich is like a self centered movie star or spoiled hotel chain owner.  Wealthy is someone who works hard, lives thrifty, gives to charity, and saves for the future.  The rich flaunt their money.  The wealthy are like your next door neighbors.

I guess what it really comes down to is that I believe the government is broken and no one is agreeing on how to fix it.  The current subsidy programs are designed to create cheaters among the wealthy while the low and middle income people suffer the consequences.  

I believe the problems are only going to get worse as the economy changes.  No matter what the government  reports say.... as long as prices on basic foods keep getting higher the economy is not improving.  As long as a larger and larger chunk of our income goes for basic needs like food, shelter, utilities, gas, and health insurance..... the economy is not getting better.  Is there anyway to stop this train wreck?  I don't know.  I wish I had the magic answer.  Gee, I wish someone, anyone, had the magic answer. 

Ok, I'll get down off the soap box now and put on my flame proof pants.

Oh wow!

Once a month grocery shopping day means the next couple of days after are quite busy for me.  I spend a couple of days putting it all away. There's chores like making of meatloaf muffins in portions to fit my diet.

There's flash freezing of things so I can take out only the amount I need for a recipe instead of thawing out a whole package.

I've started gathering things from discount bins to use this fall in canning season.  Hopefully, my little backyard garden will give me enough to be canned.

Speaking of backyard gardens..... look what I got.   Aren't they beautiful! 

These are a gift from the man who traded the cutting of the trees for two quilts.  A blackberry, a raspberry, and a blueberry.  All I could say is "oh wow!" when he gave them to me.  I've already told him he's done enough to pay for the quilts but he wants me to have my backyard garden.  He's doing more than his share in the trade and I'm very thankful he's going a little farther for me.   I think he's almost as determined to see a garden in my backyard as I am.  (big smile) 

Today there's more kitchen work to be done and I want to do a little house cleaning too.  Later tonight will be the Thunder Over Louisville fire works show.  I won't be going to it but I can watch the planes fly over my house as they buzz the crowds along the river all afternoon.   The blue thunder planes are my favorite.  They are quite loud while still looking really graceful in the show.   Hmm... I like the older planes too.  One is a local plane that I see every afternoon.  It looks like the Red Baron plane in Snoopy cartoons.  It's a red plane so I call it the Red Baron.  I wave at him every evening as he flies by.

Ok, my internet connection is acting up so I'll go do something else. 


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Extra friendly border

There was some curiosity about how I would correct the tucks on this quilt so I thought I'd show you.  This is what the border looked like before.  There is a full two inches of extra fullness in the border along this side.  Usually I can quilt a design that makes all the extra fullness nearly unnoticeable but not with this quilt. 

As you can see there are some really deep tucks in there and lots of wrinkles.  Why didn't I remove the border and fix it?  Why didn't I give it back to be fixed by the owner?  Well, it's always been my policy to quilt the quilt in the condition it's brought to me.  If its wrinkled, it gets quilted wrinkled.  If the seams are coming apart they are quilted that way.  If it has lots of fullness, it is quilted anyway.  It's not my job to remake a customer's quilt unless I'm paid to do so.  If they are happy with the way it's made then I'm happy to quilt it just "as it is" when it's left with me. 

Here, I've flipped the quilt around on the machine.  I have my zipper leaders set up so I can do this.  The ending edge becomes the beginning edge.  The left side is now on the right side because I'm right handed and it's easier to work on it from the right.  I lift up and pull on the top with my left hand then cut the threads from inside between the top and the batting using my right hand.  I use a seam ripper for this.  It's much easier than picking out one stitch at a time from the front.

My thoughts are.... if it absolutely must have a tuck, then it should be a tuck that's less noticeable.  I fold the fabric and sew it down like this.  This way it looks like a seam in the border rather than a quilter's mistake.  I did remove the seam on the right after I took this photo and made it look a little better.  It now looks like the one on the left.  See how it looks like a seam?  I used the quilting machine and sewed right at the edge of the fold with mono thread.  The seam line will show on the back of the quilt but most people with wonky quilts don't care about the back. 

I was asked once why I don't refuse to quilt the ones with issues like this one.  It's like this, about 90 to 95 percent of the tops I see are quilts with an issue or two.  If I refused to quilt all of those, then were would my income come from?  After enough refusals, my reputation as a quilter would soon come into question.  Several of my customers are handicapped so making any quilt top is quite an achievement for them.  I am not a quilt critic nor a quilt judge so I'm not qualified to say what should make the topper happy unless I'm teaching a class.  I treat every quilt that comes into my house as if it's "the next big quilt show winner" and its my job to do the best quilting on it that I am able.... no matter how it's actually made.  After all, someone put their heart into creating the quilt and someone is gonna love it when finished.   Now there's only one thing left to do and that's to go back to the place where the stitching ends and do the design over again.

Here is the area stitched again.  It's not perfect but certainly looks much better than it did before.

I will flip the quilt back around the way it should be to finish the rest of the quilting.  This one may not get it done for a few more days.  Yard work still to be done.  Planting time is getting here too quick.