Wanda Gene's Musings on Life, Love and Loving the Quilting Life!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

I’m Back to Quilting!!


Because that’s what I am—a quilter.

Not per se a quilter with heart disease.  That’s not how I will define myself.  My optimism is rising, along with my determination to beat this thing with the help of doctors, medication, diet, weight loss, of course, TIME.  Lots of all of these.

I was back in the hospital last week but only for a day.  I had an angiogram that came back perfectly normal.  They said I have good unclogged arteries.  Hurray!  Some good news for a change.  I also talked to the cardiologist who performed it.  He gave me some real hope.  He said that my heart can heal, can shrink back to normal size, and pump blood with more OOMPH.

Not everybody heals.  But I am determined to be with the majority who do. 

So with my new-found optimism, I am trying to go back to my normal activities.  So I’ve been thinking about what to do with my time that is a little bit limited now because of the need to rest.

Things I have to do for running my household: washing dishes, cleaning up kitchen, laundry, putting things away in their proper places.  Things I need to do for my mental health: at least a little quilting every day, doing my SWAGBUCKS, seasonal gardening chores, things like that.

Yesterday I went back to my mini-group after being gone for a month.  It was so enjoyable to sew and talk to my friends!  We are all working on the same pattern, Fun with Bricks, one of Bonnie Hunter’s free designs on her website.

I have been working on mine at home to keep up, even before I was well enough to go back to the group.  I finished my top yesterday and here it is.



I’m thinking about giving this baby size quilt to Miles when it’s finished.  You know, this is not your typical, so-cutesy baby quilt.  I like to think that this quilt related back to when quilters truly used every scrap, the same ones for baby quilts and grown-up ones. The torquoise pops nicely and I think I’ll use a bright binding as well, maybe bright yellow or red.

Today I drove to the PO with some mail and I stopped at the Strawberry Lady’s truck.  The strawberries are picked fresh in Oxnard and sold the same day.  They are huge, sweet and luscious.  Can’t wait to have some of these sweeties!





Wednesday, February 13, 2013

I’ve Had the “Change of Life”….That was a Picnic Compared to This Life Change


I just received a diagnosis from my doctors that has left me reeling.  It will take a L-O-N-G time to really come to grips with this.

But let me fill in some background here….A year ago I moved a huge truckload of chipped wood and leaves that our tree trimmers gave us for free.  I spent about a month but I loaded it into my wheelbarrow and spread it between all over our planters between the trees and plants.  It was very hard work but I was capable of doing it.  This is just by way of telling you that I was pretty strong and reasonably fit even though I was never a gym rat. 

Last summer I did the hard physical work that it took to have a large garden.  So far, so good, but I did have to rest more in between gardening sessions.  I attributed this to the hot weather. Sounded reasonable.

The fall and winter came, and I never felt well, like a mild flu that never quite went away. I was taking more naps, and believe it or not, making the bed left me out of breath.

We went to Quartzsite, Arizona for our annual campout with friends who all have RV’s. I became more out of breath from the slightest exertion.

Finally I told  my DH that I needed to see a doctor.  He said, fine, but it’s going to be the one at the Emergency Room.  I would usually argue with him about something like that, but this time I didn’t.

They told me I had congestive heart failure (CHF).  The day after I was admitted, my kidney function crashed.  I don’t know how close I came to dying, but I don’t want to repeat it.  I don’t remember any of this 24 hour period because I was full of pain-killers.

After 6 days I came home, wearing a defibrillator vest, which is so far working out fine with no incidents so far.

My new diet is restrictive in the extreme.  Low salt, low fat, low carb, and no more than 2 quarts of water.  On the good side, DH is helping me with the cooking and marketing and we are working together to figure out what I can eat.  Without him to come home to, I don’t know what I would do.

They say that God will not give you more than you can bear.  I have believed and relied on that all through breast cancer, chemo, and radiation 10 years ago.   I hope it’s still true.



Tuesday, January 15, 2013

I Don’t Know How to Start this Post

I guess I’ll just jump in, maybe not in a straight timeline, but just whatever to break this writer’s block that is hanging over me like that little boy in the Peanuts cartoon with his own cloud that went everywhere he went.

I was having a great time with my tomato garden, sharing with neighbors, relatives and putting up some for winter.  I was very happy, but pretty soon I had NO.TIME.AT.ALL for quilting. 
But I thought, how long can this last?  You know, make hay while the sun shines!  Summer isn’t forever.
Things weren’t perfect, but darn near.

There was one very dark cloud on the horizon getting closer, closer.  That was the declining health of my (younger) brother Lee.  He had incurable liver cancer, cirrhosis and Hepatitis C. The cause, of course, was the terribly wrong directions that he chose for his life.

                                            Lee and Carol on their wedding day

  You may remember that I posted about him when he had a really bad motorcycle accident.

This is hard to write about, but that accident was his way of trying to hurry up and get going into the next life because he had little to look forward to here but suffering.  Instead he broke every bone in his face (which the doctors fixed) and suffered severe frontal lobe brain damage (which they could not fix).

The last time I saw him, we were trying to get him into care facility because it was obvious he could no longer make it on his own.  He resisted, sometimes violently, and became estranged from us for a time.  He went from care home to psych ward to next care home for a while.  He refused our visits for a few months.

He finally made the decision to stay in one of the care homes and stayed out of trouble.  I think he just got tired and weak and accepted his fate. After this, he would take calls from us and talk to us a little bit unless his meds made him too groggy.

In October we got the call that we were expecting, that he had passed away.  We were planning to make a trip to see him later that month, but we just missed him.

My 88 year old Mother is grieving for him and it has been especially hard for me to be her caretaker. I won’t burden you with those details, but she has been very unpredictable.  My Mother is not easy even in the best of times.  Oh, well.

Lee made peace with his God during the last months so we know that he is forgiven.

I’m getting on with my life.  I haven’t cried a lot but have grieved inside.  Time is healing me.  I have been praying for all of you who might be reading this and are going through any kind grief or loss.  It can come in many forms but always hurts the same.


Monday, August 27, 2012



….or, a collection of miscellaneous literary extracts.

Potpourri would be a really lovely name for a future quilt.  But today it’s a list of how I have been spending my time lately, not necessarily in the right order.

1.  Picking tomatoes. Yes, my tomato garden continues to test my limits physically and time-wise. But this is the garden’s season to shine and it will not be like this this in a few months. Because of the heat, I have been going out after the afternoon sun goes down behind my eucalyptus trees….so much better. I am planning a winter garden but I think a much smaller one than the one that’s keeping me busy and busier right now. Just a nice stand of snow peas, enough lettuce for salads and some good greens for a potful every couple of weeks.

2.  Drying and freezing tomatoes. I got tired of dehydrating tomatoes so I went out and bought a good-sized upright freezer. All I had before was the one that’s a part of my refrigerator and that wasn’t doing it for the Gal with the Big Garden. Now I am freezing them whole in gallon plastic bags. I gave another 10 pounds to Jeff and Sherry and 10 pounds to my DH’s brother. My nephew Chris is known to be a “tomato-eating machine.”

3.  Went to a party in honor of my son Jeff’s birthday and got to visit with some of his friends from high school, got lots of hugs and kisses from my little grandsons, ate good barbeque and in general had more fun than anybody has a right ta’.

4.  Went camping near Monterey/Moss Landing for 5 days with son Jeff and his family. Let’s see if I can figure out how to get my pictures off of my new ipad and onto this blog post.




This is Jonah decorating cookies that we made together in my RV.  He is quite an artist and he gave just as much time and care with these cookies as he does with his other artistic endeavors.



Here is our little Miles with Ondie carefully watching over him.

5.  Taking my mother to her doctor appointments (lots of them), her shopping trips and taking care of her on weekends.   

6.  For the first time in all the years that I have been safely handling a rotary cutter, I cut my finger. And I never do anything halfway, so it was a doozy! My left index finger required THREE STITCHES to stop the bleeding and to close up the slab of skin that I opened up. I had DH take pictures but I decided to spare you, dear readers, all the gore and disfigurement. After all, I want you all to make more quilts, not to give it up forever! The nice lady at the ER sure did a good job of stitching my finger….I don’t even have a scar.




7.  I finished two quilts lately, my Bulls-Eye and the Bonnie Hunter Orca Bay mystery quilt.    Here is a close-up of the Baptist Fan quilting that I did on Orca Bay. It really shows up nice on the dark fabric that I used for the border. In this pic the quilt was still on the frame after finishing the last row of the Baptist Fans. 

Here is my Bulls-Eye quilt:


I’ve shown the whole top before so this is just another close-up to show the quilting.  The meander quilting that I chose made it come out soft and puffy-looking, which I like.  It makes me realize why quilts are sometimes known as comforters.  They do, literally, comfort us.

8.  And lastly, tryin’ to stay cool but mostly not succeedin’



Monday, July 23, 2012

Garden Update!



Picking tomatoes has become a major chore and I have to be out out there EVERY day or those ripe ‘maters will just get away from me!  This is the bowl that we are using for cooking, eating and sharing with others.



Here is a bowl that I have sorted out tomatoes for dehydrating.  We love the little dehydrated tomato slices….we call them tomato candy!.  I also love to add a handful to what I’m cooking, like soup, stews, or casseroles.  They are really good in macaroni and cheese.




This is what I picked this morning—this is in addition to the other bowls—all 16 plus pounds of them!  My favorite eating tomatoes are called Japanese Black Trifele….they are the dark reddish brown ones with a little green in the first picture.  (That’s called green “shoulders”).  You only see a few because we eat them so fast!  DH’s favorite tomato is Early Girl, beautiful, round, smooth 2” and very early.  

Tomatoes are a thing of beauty!



Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Here is a Dog Who Just Can’t Make Up His Mind

My Ondie, the Puppy Love of my life, and general provider to our family both of entertainment and security, was feeling particularly playful this morning.  And that is saying something!  See for yourself….

Ondie Can’t Decide Which Game to Play!

He ****loves**** his Jolly Ball so much!  But how do you choose between that and a game of “Chase the Light Beam,” huh, Ondie?  Does Ondie know how to spell “conflicted?”

Who knew that a dog could bark with his mouth full?


Saturday, June 30, 2012

This Year—I Have the Garden of My Dreams!

This is my Principe Borghese (Roma type tomato for drying) that has escaped over the fence!   There are even more of this plant on the inside.  And both sides are just covered with flowers and small green tomatoes.


This past winter Jerry did a lot of work to make my garden convenient for me, ample in size and protected from critters who might wish to steal the fruits of our hard work. The garden is long and fairly narrow, with a generous walk space dug down the center and built-up sides for planting. The drip system, garden hose, and sink complete this very cool garden.

When he was done, I went to work.  Since the soil has not been enriched with amendments prior to this, I decided to plant in bagged organic amendments from the garden store.  I started by slashing the bottom of each bag about every inch.  This allows the roots to escape the bag---because this is the bottom!  I turned the bag over on the other side, removed the plastic from the whole side, placed dripper hose across the center of the bag.  I planted my little tomato plants near a dripper emitter and used metal stakes that I made out of 14 gauge wire to keep the drippers where they should be.

This was ***REAL** work, because I planted 44 tomatoes, 8 chile pepper plants, 1 tomatillo, and a few cucumbers.  Not all the tomatoes thrived, for reasons unknown, but about 85% of them are trying to take over the world!

Everybody has been asking me for weeks, “When will you start picking ripe tomatoes?”  And I have been saying all along, “Before the end of June.”  Well, on June 26, I picked my first tomatoes and today I picked a couple more.  This is one of the best times of the year for those of us who are passionate about our gardens.