Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Day and Night Star

Ready to make this star? :)

Because this is doubling up as a Birthday Block and the gal wants it signed, I needed to leave the center white. Otherwise, I would have used red there too.

All you need is 2" and 3.5" strips. Now there's a total of 8 flying geese in this block. If you have your own method of making geese (paperpiecing, special rulers, two HSTs, etc) go ahead and make four geese that measure 2"x3.5" and four that measure 3.5"x6.5".

The ones with three *** is for the regular flying geese method. Otherwise, here's the list of pieces you need:
(4) 3.5"x6.5" rectangles (blue) ***
(4) 3.5"x3.5" squares (blue)
(9) 3.5 x3.5" squares (white) *** (8 are for geese, one for the center star)
(4) 2"x2" squares (white)
(8) 2"x2" squares (red) ***
(4) 2"x3.5" rectangles (white) ***

If you're using the regular method, mark a diagonal line across eight white 3.5"x3.5" squares and eight red 2"x2" squares.

Here's how to make flying geese:
Sew diagonally a square onto the rectangle, trim off excess, iron open and then sew on the other square, trim and iron and repeat for all the geese units.

The center star needs:
Four 2" white squares
Four 2"x3.5" flying geese units
One 3.5" square for the center

Sew those together like a 9-patch.

The main star needs:
Four 3.5" blue squares
Four 3.5"x6.5" flying geese units
One 6.5"x6.5" center star

Sew together and you're done! (12.5" unfinished)

To really get the pop-up effect of the stars is all in the color play. Reverse the white and color in the block above and you'll get a "day" star. Easy peasy. :)


Saturday, March 25, 2006

How to be popular with quilters

How to be popular with quilters: bring a new toy/gadget/item that makes the quilting life even a little bit easier. :)

My example: The WonderCut Ruler - I brought it with me to the guild's quilting bee week and began to churn out perfect 3.5" unfinished HSTs. Somebody comes along... "what are you doing?" I explain. Then she brings a friend to show the ruler. Then comes along another friend. And then two more people are wondering why we're all gathering at my table. And I swear, I explained over a dozen times how it worked - I didn't mind! :) Seems like nobody had heard of it before, but I think several people already ordered a ruler for themselves!

And really, it's a great tool! I now have over 700 HSTs ready to be put in blocks.

This is going to be a quilt for my husband. I laid out 4 different block patterns and made him choose which he liked the best. Only, he doesn't know that it's for him yet! I'm hoping I can keep it a secret until his birthday in May. :)

It's a variation of the Depression block. Well, it is the Depression block, only more color controlled. Gotta make it manly. ;)

Yes... I'm supposed to have a tutorial for the Day and Night stars... but I haven't gotten to it yet. :P I'm hoping today, cuz I'm done with prepping the HSTs (ironing and snipping dog ears). Plus, it's been a busy week.

Monday was back to school for DH. Hard to get back to school at 5:45am when you've been sleeping until 10am on Spring Break. :)

Tuesday I had a "girly" doctor's appointment - was really happy to hear that my blood pressure is 104/66. Yeah! We all know that quilting is soooooooo stressful. ;) Also swung by JoAnn Fabrics to buy a bolt of Kona Black, but they were clean out! And it wasn't even on sale. And no white either. Which would have been good for dyeing fabric. Yeah, I actually walked out of the store empty-handed. Do I get a gold medal? ;)

Wednesday was guild meeting day. I'm sorry to say, but I'm not a morning person. Getting there at 9:30 and spending 1.5 hours cutting just wipes me out and my husband finds me sound asleep when he comes home.

Thursday I headed over to a quilter's house to pick up some of the Block of the Months I missed. I was expecting it to be a quick 15 minute stop'n'go. *ahem* An hour and 15 minutes later I was outta there. Her best friend was there also, and they invited me to their quilting group that meets on the first and third Tuesdays of the month. Of course I'd love to join them! I find that I tend to be more continueous in my quilting when others around me are doing the same. *grin* After living here for over 1.5 years, I'm finally getting a social life! :P

Friday was shopping day (dang, the store was really crowded) and I made pizza for dinner. I really like how my half turned out this time. Just the right amount of cheese. Also some more work on the HSTs.

Saturday... today I made some more bread. Instead of butter/honey or peanut butter, I put on cream cheese "Garlic and Herbs" and oh man, it tastes soooooooo good! *blush* I might have eaten 4 slices in a row. DH was wondering if we should bother making dinner. :P

Sunday will be church and laundry. Then on a "date" to the park. I enjoy sitting and chatting with my husband. I hope it's not too hot though. I'm already missing the snow and cool weather from last week!!! Waaaaah. In fact it's already hit 76 degrees today. Hot! Yes, I'm a wimp. I love my cold weather. :)


Sunday, March 19, 2006

Snow! Snow! Snow!

It snowed!!! Yes, it's a big deal! I have never seen snow fall until today!! The flakes are a lot lighter than I expected. And harder to "control" - as in with rain, you can put your hand out and block it out of your eyes or whatever. With snow, it just flurries around and smacks ya very gently. :)

Here's a picture of mine and my husband's cars.

I don't know why his was collecting more snow, especially since I haven't driven mine since Thursday while he drove his the other day. But snow! Real live snow!

And the trees look like something out of a Christmas scene - I just love how frosted the trees are! More snow!

The barefoot idiot girl that you might have seen? Erm, that probably was me. :P And yup, I had my I-won-a-million-dollars grin plaster on. It snowed! :)

Alas. The snow is all gone now. *sniff* At least I have great memories now! And I still can't decide if I could handle snow every winter though. You shouldn't base these kind of decisions by the 52 flakes that hit ya. ;)

And wow - overwhelmingly positive replies on my previous post of the stars! So, I'll go ahead and make a tutorial of the day and night stars. Should see that later this week.

As for the BOM - it's from Carol Doak's 50 Fabulous Paperpieced Stars. More specifically, it's the Connecticut Star. But you're in luck! Three of Carol's stars are available online here. (It's the middle one).

I think I'm gonna go ahead and put my WonderCut Ruler to serious use now. :)


Saturday, March 18, 2006

Stars Abound

It's National Quilting Day! Ok... so there's only about an hour left before it's over... but it's because I was busy sewing! :) In fact I'm on my 4th bobbin of the day. I don't think I've ever sewn so much at once. I also floored the pedal too many times to count. :P I've been making tubes for HSTs with my WonderCut Ruler. Lots of long straight sewing. Still need to iron and cut my 43 tubes. It was supposed to be 44, but apparently I can't count. ;)

Here's the quilt guild's Block of the Month. It's green and purple! How did that happen? Yeah... cuz I have tons of scraps from all the green and purple quilts I've done. :)

And here's my day and night stars. I'm loving them, but they sure can take up a bit of time! Not sure if I'll be working on them for a while. Heh, and I ran out of red, can you see the replacement? :)

Spring Break is almost over for us. Ok, I guess I don't count since I don't go to school or teach school... So, Spring Break is almost over for my husband. :P Been a nice lazy week and haven't been spending like crazy - easy to do when you have more time than usual to spare.

We did go to a baseball spring training game on Thursday. We travelled on the I-10 westbound and saw that the eastbound was closed at one point and then clogged up with cars and trucks playing stop'n'go for over 10 miles. Yikes! Do we have to go home in that? Turns out that about 5am a truck with 40,000 pounds of cooking oil flipped and spewed all over the interstate. Good reason to close it! We ended up taking a long way home - went through some beautiful hills that I didn't know existed so close to my home! Makes me want to live there. :) Nevermind that you'd need to have your own gas pump to afford such commute!

But what is it with baseball and closing the I-10? Last year my husband and I went to opening day in Phoenix and there was a shooting really near the stadium on the I-10... and of course they closed it and backed up for about 30 miles. Lucky us... But since we were leaving at 10am for a 2pm game, we were ok, just somewhat grumpy. :P

I was hoping to do some shopping last Thursday while in Tucson... but that didn't work out. I really wanna get a bolt of black Kona fabric! I have like two yards left - enough to make me start nibbling my nails! ;) Thankfully I'm going to Tucson again next Tuesday, so I'll get my fix then. :)


Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Memories of Missy (& Bambi) (Part Three)

Note: Last installment of Missy's life, and yes, there's a might be a sad moment or two. After this, I'll get back to my regular quilty posts. ;)

I left off about living at the new house with lots of land. We also had some neighbors... they were over a mile away as the roads go, but just about .2 miles as the crow flies. Trina raised English Lop Rabbits - she has over 100 of them! She did a lot of shows with them too. She employed my sister Sarah to help work with the rabbits, clean the barn and so on. As a payment, she gave Sarah two rabbits, a male and female. Zaeda was the girl and Bambi was the male, as shown below.

Sarah got to show Bambi and Zaeda quite a bit. She even won several awards, especially for Bambi. Well, she did have an advantage - she was in the under 18 group and not that many young people can afford top notch rabbits. :) She even won two wallhangings for Best of Show and Best of Breed - the neat part is that they're quilted and have a star block in them. I'll have to take pictures of them next time I'm at my parent's.

Bambi was a great rabbit - Sarah used him to "train" me about rabbits. How to hold them, certain things you can do with them and she tried to explain how you can tell the sex differences. :P Sarah even flew to Kansas in 2003 to show Bambi at the annual rabbit convention (I think!). She told me she wanted professional photos of Bambi while she was there, but she had to wait quite a bit in line for her turn. She just held onto Bambi herself and he actually fell asleep in her arms! Just like a baby. :) I think Sarah said quite a few people commented on that. And when Bambi's turn came up for the pictures, Sarah said he "posed" perfectly. Apparently there's a pose that's used when the rabbits are being judged, but often times the rabbits are tensed and pose poorly. Well, Bambi posed great after his relaxing snooze! :)

As long as Bambi was being shown, he continued to live with Trina. He didn't actually move to my parent's house until after I married. So back to our story...

I became officially engaged at the end of 2003. We set a wedding for July 2004. I did spend quite a bit of time between California and Arizona. Missy was getting used to those long visits and just latched herself to Sarah. Slept in Sarah's bed, followed Sarah everywhere and basically replaced me with Sarah. But once I was back home again, she'd latch herself happily back to me.

During that time, Sarah and I started teaching Missy sign language! I know people tell you that you can't teach an old dog new tricks... but we taught 9-year-old Missy signs, with the help of lots of meat. :P She knew sit, "sleep" to lay down, "off" the couch and we were working on stay. Missy couldn't stand to stay if we were out of the room though. She was best at the sit command. Sometimes you had to say her name to get her looking at you though.

In the spring of 2004 the family came to the decision that we were going to have to put Holly down. She was 14 years old then, pretty crippled, unable to control her bowel movements (ongoing for 2 years) and was riddled with tumors. But every time the subject came up about putting Holly down... I'd just burst into tears and couldn't say "ok". Finally it was decided that they'd put Holly down when I went to Arizona for 3 weeks. I could say ok to that. That wasn't as painful. Dad and Sarah took Holly to the vet and the vet told them that he would never put down a healthy dog. But after examing Holly, he explained that the tumors throughout her tummy were causing the uncontrollable BMs. So yes, it was time for her to go. I came back a few weeks later... and it wasn't so bad. I didn't feel like crying and I didn't miss Holly.

Sad to say, we were probably trying to keep the memories of Holly alive by keeping her alive. She wasn't really living anymore and was a constant pain for everybody in the family, especially having to clean up her poop two or three times a day. So nobody really misses her and we felt like we got all the years we wanted with Holly. My biggest worry about putting Holly down was how was Missy going to handle it? I was afraid she'd go beserk or get really depressed because Holly's always been a part of her life, since she was 7 weeks old. Heh, the funny thing is that she acted like Holly was never there in the first place. She never acted lonely over Holly's abscence and was perfectly happy to get twice the amount of human food she would normally get. :)

Then came the day I was leaving my parents house for good. Sarah and I were driving down to the wedding and we were leaving early in the morning. Missy was watching us gather last minute stuff for the wedding, everybody was going in and out of the house, and she wasn't really following anybody or anything. Then just when we were hugging my parents goodbye and about to take off... Missy had snuck in the front passenger seat of my car. I was honestly surprised because I have an SUV and the floor was loaded with junk, so Missy would have had to jump straight up to the seat... I didn't think she had it in her. But nope, there she was, all ready to go to the end of the earth with me. And her timing made me want to cry... she just knew I was leaving for a long time.

I didn't know when the next time I'd see Missy again... she could die before I might see her again. Then in October 2004 we had a chance to meet my parents half-way in southern California. Even though it was for only 2 days, sure! I'd love to see them again. I even managed to get Sarah to come along, I was really looking forward to that. My husband and I arrived a day before my parents did. All we knew is that they were going to be there some time Saturday. Early Saturday afternoon I hear them coming up the stairs... and oh my goodness! They had Missy with them. My eyes did water up then... I was so shocked and thrilled. :) Especially since my mom would never travel with the dogs if she could help it, and this was Missy's longest car trip ever.

Here she is... sure looks happy. I know I was. I do have to thank Sarah for getting Missy there... she played her trump card on Mom - "but what if Missy dies before Leah comes again?" Hey, I'll take it. :) But there were some unexpected changes in Missy. Her face was so much whiter than I remembered. She seemed to have some sort of back problem - wasn't walking as easily and taking the stairs slower. And my family reported that Missy slept a lot more too. Instead of 16 or so hours, it was closer to 20. I think somebody also said that they hadn't seen Missy that active since I left.

Sarah would also take Missy to a local park at home and walk her around. Missy would tire out pretty fast. To indicated when she needed a break, she would step on her leash and not budge. :) One time Sarah took her to a dog park. There were two sections, big dogs and little dogs. Naturally Missy is a big dog, but as soon as Sarah tried to go on the big dog's side, Missy stepped on her leash and refused. Big, scary dogs! No! The owners of the little dogs told Sarah to bring Missy in... it's obvious she's really a big baby. ;)

So I had a nice visit with my family and Missy that October. My husband even gave up his spot in our bed so I could share it with Missy and Sarah. Of course Missy slept right between us, with her head on the pillows. Ahh, just like old times. :) And then they had to go... and take Missy with them. Ohh, I so badly wanted to take her home with me. My husband even wanted to joke to his mom that we had Missy with us (she really doesn't like dogs)... and could Missy live with them? But no, he's a good guy, didn't freak his mom out. :P

We flew up to California for Christmas, got to see Missy again. Oh yes, the rest of the family too. ;) I just remember a lot of rush-rush-rush going on. Last minute Christmas shopping, my parents busy with their plumbing company and quite a few new hires.

My husband would pass time playing his computer game and I caught this picture of Missy at his feet. I can't believe how trusting she was! Her eyeball is like right next to the chair's wheel.

The nice thing is that my husband tolerated Missy pretty well. He's certainly not a dog lover (yes, I knew this before we married) but Missy managed to rank herself pretty high on "likeable" dogs. Of course at night, Missy wanted to sleep with me, but my husband absolutely did not want her on the mattress... so we compromised. She slept next to me on the floor when DH (Dear Husband) was in the room... and would sneak onto the bed when he was gone. How could I scold her for being so sneaky and smart? :)

In the late spring of 2005 my dad emailed me saying that Missy was pretty sick... and they think she got bit by a rattlesnake. She was throwing up a lot and not doing well. But she pulled through, whew.

I didn't see Missy again until June 2005. We went up there for two weeks and I had a great time! My mom and I even made a quilt (that's for another post). By then Bambi was a residence of my parents address and he was regularly invited inside. In fact, Missy and Bambi had the same "favorite" spot, the corner of the couch. Yes, Bambi could easily jump up on couch on his own.

Missy often times would rest her head on the armrest, which gave her view of the kitchen, dinner table, family room and easily hear anybody coming in or out of the house. Great "opportunity" spot for her. :)

Missy and Bambi got along wonderfully. Missy liked to play and lick Bambi, but any time he froze and wouldn't respond, she would let him be. But it was pretty funny watching Missy sniff Bambi and see him hop a few steps away... sniff... hop... sniff... hop. Sometimes he'd even hop towards her.

Bambi didn't like walking on the wood floors though, he would just slip and slide, and sometimes slide on his ears! :P

Missy was always very gentle with Bambi - I think she really could sense how heavy or light play an animal could take from her.

Aww... Bambi didn't want to play anymore. Missy kept on eye on him for while. The funny thing is that she wouldn't disturb Bambi when he was on the couch. She might sniff at him, but she didn't try to get him to move or anything.

Other fun things happened with Missy on that visit. All 4 of us kids, DH, my dad and Missy headed to the beach one afternoon. Missy just had to frolick in the water with us kids... even though it was cloudy and the water was turn-you-numb cold. We gave Missy a hot shower afterwards and I spent 45 minutes blow drying her fur - didn't want her getting sick.

I also brushed Missy about every day I was there. All you had to do was pick up the brush and she'd run to you. If you brushed her long enough, she eventually ended up as a puddle at your feet. Mmm, yeah. "Brush me all day long..."

I did have one big scare when I was there. Sarah comes up to my room and explains that there might be a little problem. She had taken Missy to the vet several months ago and the vet told her that because Missy was never spayed, there was a larger chance of her developing certain cancers. A good sign that the end might be near would be if she started having bloody discharge from her... uh, rear end. Then Sarah proceeded to explain that there was a long streak in the kitchen, and could I help her clean it up? Of course! So I get downstairs and... ew, yeah it's pretty long and bloody. We started to mop it up. And then as I'm near her favorite couch spot, I see a baggy. Why, it's the baggy that held last night's dinner of steak. Wait a minute... "Sarah! It's not Missy, well, it is... it's that she just got into the trash again and dragged the bag from last night's dinner." Oh boy, did we double up laughing so hard! What a huge relief. Missy was just being her usual self, craving human food, getting into the trash and dragging the remains. For once I was so happy it was her bad habit! :)

Ahh yes, two things she just couldn't give up. She put her paws to use, 1) she would open the trash drawer (kinda heavy) and cheerfully help herself to anything that appealed to her. 2) She was able to open the garage fridge door - even better, fresh food! We quickly learned never to put any meats in there. She never did grasp the concept of shutting the fridge either. :P

Towards the end of my visit, Missy started getting sick. She wasn't controlling her bathroom urges so well, and also we were keeping her in the house whenever we left. She threw up quite a few times too. I would clean up after her and tell everybody to make more trips outside with her. She also scared me on my last night there, I was up late sewing on my mom's quilt so I could show her how to bind the quilt before I left. Missy was at the top of the stairs sleeping, obviously waiting for me to go to bed. Usually she would wake up when I come up the stairs, but didn't that time. I got next to her and she still hadn't awoken. I couldn't help myself, I had to make sure she was ok and I shook her awake. Took quite a bit to figure out what was going on, but she was happy to head to bed with me.

I left on July 9th. Emails flew back and forth between me and my parents. Missy was steadily getting worse. She didn't act like she was in pain, but she was shutting down. She stopped going to the bathroom, except once at night. She wouldn't eat unless it was really good food... and then she would just throw it back up within an hour. She even needed somebody to be with her every step of the way when she was outside. But when she was inside, it didn't matter how sick or exhausted she was, so long as there was a human in sight, she was happy. If nobody was around, she'd drag herself around the house until she found somebody. Finally I suggested that they take her to the vet. No, I don't expect any miracles, but perhaps he could give her something to help her eat again. Andrea made an appointment on Wednesday. The soonest they could get in was Friday morning, the 22nd. On Thursday night, about 9:30, Missy died. They called me at 10pm and I cried myself sick for 4 hours straight.

I didn't find out many details until I flew up there in October 2005, but I found out that she died halfway up the stairs, on the landing. Here's an earlier picture of her "snoozing" on the stairs. I guess she didn't want to miss out on any human activities. :)

My Mom and Dad were with her when she died. So I'm really glad she wasn't alone. They put her in the garage and buried her the next day.

Now it gets sadder... I didn't even find out this part for three months. But apparently Sarah had flown to Colorado to see an old friend of hers. She left on Tuesday before Missy died. I think she called everyday to check on Missy and found out on Friday morning that Missy died. She said she was upset that my parents didn't tell her right away. Well, they buried Missy on Friday. Meanwhile our other sister was taking care of Bambi. On Sunday it was a super hot day and Andrea headed to the beach with some friends. Monday morning my mom went to check on Bambi, and she found him dead.

English Lop Rabbits cannot handle hot weather - they do just fine in cold weather, but not hot. Any time Sarah thought it was going to be hot outside, she'd bring Bambi into the house, even though his cage was in the shade and he would have plenty of water. Trina had also lost 15 rabbits that day, despite having an air conditioned barn.

My heart breaks for Sarah. She came back that Monday... expecting to at least have Bambi, but even he was dead. Somebody actually had more pain that I did when Missy died.

So Sarah had to bury Bambi. She picked a spot about 20 feet away from Missy. In the picture below, Missy is buried to the right of the closest tree, and Bambi's buried to the left of the big rock by the smaller tree.

I had the hardest time adjusting myself in my October visit that Missy was really gone. I found myself unconsciously saving dinner scraps for her. Or I'd be looking for her sleeping form to make sure I wouldn't accidently step on her. I even had to remind myself that it was ok to put any food in the outside fridge - Missy wasn't going to get into it!

A few days after Missy died, my brother heard some pawing noise at the garage door and automatically went up to let Missy in. He opened the door and saw a pair of glowing eyes, slammed the door and walked off. He realized later it was a raccoon! :P

Monday, March 13, 2006

Memories of Missy (Part Two)

Note: Part two of three - blogger isn't happy with so many pictures in one post. They weren't letting me upload any yesterday. Heh, and I wanted to upload 47 in the first place! :) I think I'll upload all photos I like in my webshots later, so you can view them if you wish.

Missy wasn't a perfect dog... she certainly had her quirks. She could not stand to be without humans around her. Heck, she would even demand that we'd be touching her too! If you stopped moving your hand fast enough on her, she'd paw ya to get you started again. :)

Here she is, forelornly staring into the house... never mind that it's a beautiful sunny day outside and many dogs would be perfectly content... Nope. If the humans were inside, she had to be too! All she had to do was cry and bark until somebody let her in. With a family of half a dozen humans, surely one of them would get sick of her crying and she'd get let in. :)

Don't worry... I let her jump up on the counter for a bite. Believe me, she certainly wasn't underweight! :) In fact, she weighed less after giving birth to her puppies than compare to before she was pregnant. We wanted her to be as healthy as she could be for birthing, so we took her on daily walks. I bet plenty of human mothers wish that would happen to them! :)

Even though she had an "aversion" to being alone outside, she was plenty thrilled to be outside with humans.

She actually liked the trampoline and bouncing around with 4 kids. Yeah, the advice of the manufactor's "one person at a time" didn't stick. :P She was a poor jumper though, couldn't jump up on the trampoline. So she'd put her front paws on the edge and wait for somebody to pick up her hind legs. Her daughter Lacy had no problem flying up. Also Holly was able to get up, but she didn't enjoy jumping. :)

In the summer months we'd take down the trampoline and set up a pool that was 4 feet high. Again Missy hated being left out!

While she wasn't exactly a water lover, I think she would walk on fire just to be with her beloved humans. One summer we had a blow up raft boat. Missy would put her paws on the pool's ladder; we would heft her up in the same manner as the trampoline. She'd wait on the top step for somebody to push the boat near her and then leap in! We'd swim around her, play games and other stuff while she just sat in the boat and watched us. Sure she got a little wet, but it was all fun and games. :)

I remember one end-of-summer day when we were taking down the pool. Yup, had to drain thousands of gallons of water out. We were able to drain most of it out with a hose, but it couldn't get the last half-foot or so. So while we were waiting for our dad to bring home a pump, all 4 of us kids jumped in for a little last splash. Of course Missy got jealous and cried until we lifted her in. I think we all played for a good two hours. Everybody was soaked, even Missy. So a little water is perfectly fine for her. :)

One thing Missy and Holly loved - and I mean they loved it from the very bottom of their hearts - was to take a walk. It got so bad - I couldn't say the word "walk" without setting off a mini hurricaine! So then I'd tell my mom that I was going for a "W". Smart Missy eventually caught on about that too! So then I started to say "I'm gonna go." And the word "go" became a trigger too! :P

The leashes were kept in the under-the-stairs closet. If you happened to open the door while we lived there, you would have noticed a lot of scratch marks on the inside of the door. All Missy's fault. :) But they both loved the walks so much. They were heartbrokened if I didn't take them on one. Sometimes I'd run around the block for a "quickie" just to make them happy. Usually I would take them to a park over a mile away - about an hour of walking, round trip. Even when Holly's arthritis started to cripple her, she still expected to go on the walks. They both acted like over-grown puppies when we headed out. :)

One thing I appreciated about Missy was that she'd never bark at other people or animals. Holly would go beserk at the sight of another dog. I can't tell you how many times Holly has barked so hard that she'd bite her tongue bleeding! I'm sure it didn't look good when I'd try to grip Holly's mouth shut to prevent more barking. But Missy? Nary a peep out of her. Oh sure, she was very curious... but why bark when Holly's doing all the work? :)

Believe me though, Missy had a very deep bark. She'd bark to go out or in. Even in the middle of the night, with my deafness and soundly sleeping, Missy could bark deep enough that I would hear it... but not my parents! Usually it was for a drink of water or a trip to the bathroom. I know we all really appreciated that Missy was really good about not having accidents in the house.

When we moved from the suburbs to the hills, a whole new freedom was open to the dogs... no fences! Not to mention being surrounded by hundreds of acres with tons of critters. At first Missy handled the move poorly. She had this rubber basketball that she picked up on the day we left our old house. It had a squeaker in it and she'd bite down on the ball and make it pathetically squeak. The ball was like her baby. She'd do ANYTHING to have it next to her. We would even throw it down a hill and she'd gallop after it. It didn't matter where it was, how steep the hill was or how far we threw it. It was a like a pacifier for her. Sometimes she'd even cry with the squeaks. I hated that ball! :) She did this when we sold her last puppy. It was like she needed something to be with her all. the. time. It only happened when something life-changing happened to her. She'd go off in her emotional state and carry ONE specific squeaky toy with her. Thankfully it only happened three times in her life! :)

But the land was like a whole new world. Even Holly with her arthritis somehow found a new energy to run. For a while it was almost like Holly was aging backwards. Missy would only explore if Holly was with her though. Otherwise she was perfectly happy to hang around or in the house... gotta be with the humans.

I remember one time I was spraying weeds on the far end of my parent's property and of course Missy was romping around nearby. A neighbor was out doing some yard work and stopped to chat with me. She commented on how she NEVER sees Missy. Meanwhile she said Holly would walk by her house every day. I can believe that. :) Holly would take a "morning stroll" every morning. She usually covered several houses. It would take her over an hour at her slow pace. Missy would tag along for the first part... until they got near the houses, then she'd trot home. Always back within 15 minutes of being let out.

Walks weren't so much of a deal at the new house - they had plenty of roaming space! The new thing to set them off was squirrels. I cheerfully hated squirrels because they ate up my garden's produce. Grrrr. And of course, as hard as I've tried, I was never able to run them over and make roadkill out of them! :P But the dogs went crazy when they trapped a squirrel. Popular spots were under pallets loaded with bricks or wood, or this 4x4" hollow steel post. I'm not sure why so many squirrels ended up there, but they did. Holly would be barking at one end of the post and Missy on the other. They could go for it at hours and I'd often times have to fetch them and bodily haul them away if there was no way I could help them get a squirrel. But when squirrels got into the steel post, I'd grab the hose and try to wash them out. I eventually upgraded to a firehose - those squirrels know how to hang on for their dear life! After hosing out a few squirrels, Missy caught on that she needed to wait on the other end of the hose to get her "prize." It worked! And the dogs weren't interested in eating the squirrels or anything, they just wanted to catch and kill them. :)

If I didn't help the dogs with the squirrels or at least lock them into the house, they'd chase and bark after the squirrel until they actually harmed themselves. :( Holly would work herself up so much that she'd lose all energy (she was over 10 years old) and end up not being able to walk. Just lay in her spot, panting very hard. Missy figured her mouth was her best tool in reaching the squirrels and she'd bite and chew on anything to get to them. If the squirrel was under a pallet of wood, Missy would start to grab logs and drag them away. She would chew at the pallet boards until they broke and splintered. And you guessed it... it would cut up her mouth very badly. I didn't even want to look for splinters. So I'd have to drag her away.

The only downside of their squirrel adventures were the rattlesnakes. Holly got bit when she was 11. I noticed because I had a piece of meat... and what dog in their right state of mind would turn down a piece of meat?! Holly did, and then I noticed how puffy her face and chest were. And two little punctures on the side of her nose. We rushed her off to the vet - two days later and $1100 poorer Holly was back to normal. At the point, the family had a frank discussion about what we would do if the dogs got bit again. It was decided next time we'd just let them work it out... or die. Several months later, Holly got bit again. She hid in the bathroom, slept a lot and didn't eat or drink much... but she pulled through. :)

Missy did get bit once, but it was by a squirrel. Her face was actually more scarred up from ticks. In my next post you might see several dark spots on Missy's face - scars and scabs from where the ticks had latched themselves. The worse was when the ticks bit above the dogs eyes. Ohh! To pull a tick off, you have to find it's head (usually in the dog's skin), pinch it with some needle-nose tweezers and pull... and pull... and pull... If the tick was on the dog's back or in less-sensitive places, we had no problems in pulling off the ticks. But around the eyes? It's scary enough bring pokey tweezers near the eyes!

Hey, at least when we moved, we were high up enough that the dogs didn't get fleas. :)

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Memories of Missy (Part One)

Note: March 11, 2006 would have been Missy's 12th Birthday. I figured this would be a good time to tell you all about her. Not quilt related at all! Feel free to skip these post if you wish. :)

So let's start at the beginning. Missy was born March 11th, 1994. I think she had a total of 9 brothers and sisters. She's the pup on the right side, with the long streak of white down her nose. :)

How did we get Missy? Well, in the summer of 1993 our family dog, Holly, had puppies and ever since she had those puppies, I was wanting a dog of my own. I was barely 11 years old and I began to save like crazy for a puppy. The biggest income for me was mowing - $2 for the backyard and $1 for the front. Hey, I had no clue about "minimum wages" then. ;)

I also hunted the newspaper ads like crazy, trying to find any Golden that was cheap enough, yet had papers. Finally we found one for $350, that was a good 2 hours drive from us. Mom calls them up, gets directions, stops by the bank for cash and off we go! At that point I had only saved up $189 and Andrea (my 2 years younger sister) had saved $20. We decided that when we bred the pup, we would give one pup back to my parents as a payment for what was due.

We arrive at the breeder's house on April 29th. The puppies are only 7 weeks old. Out of the 10, five have already been claimed. Three boys and two girls left. Since we were sure we wanted a girl, we took both girls out to the front yard and played around with them to try to determine their personalities better. I think the deciding vote to get Missy was because she peed! :D Don't want accidents on the long drive home.

We bring her home. I remember being jealous the first few weeks that she was friendly with EVERYBODY! I wanted her to be my dog. :) First thing we did was seal off all the carpet areas of the house... if she's gonna have an accident, it better be on the tile! But she actually caught on pretty quick about going outside. I remember that the lady told us that they tried to get all the puppies to bathroom on the rocks they had... Missy was the ONLY puppy who did. Smart gal. :)

Missy and Holly got along fine from the start. As Missy got older the two of them engaged it a lot of rough play. For the first couple of months the dogs had to sleep in the garage - not worried about accidents, but what she might chew! Goodness... she chewed up glasses, books, shoes, hangers and golf balls! If there was a way to break it apart, she found it.

In this picture... her fur strongly resembles sand. We would actually lose her in the sandbox. We'd call for her, and she'd be too tired to lift up her head... look in the sandbox... don't see her... where can she be? Call harder... oh! Missy, there you are. :)

Every morning about 5am Missy would start to cry. She had enough sleep. She wanted to be with people! So my mom would wake Andrea and I up and we'd grab a blanket and head down to the garage. The blanket wasn't really for the cold, but for Missy's digging paws. We'd rush down to the ground, pull the blanket tightly around us and cover our faces. Missy would pounce on us and try soooooo hard to find an opening! She'd dig at the blanket like if she was trapped in a building on fire! About half an hour later she'd give up and just try to be happy that we were there with her at all. Then we'd all fall asleep and mom would come and get us around 7 or 8 to begin the day.

Missy was a very people-dog. It didn't matter what we were doing, just so long as she could be around humans, she was happy.

Left to right: Leah, Ben, Missy, Andrea and Sarah.

Missy's first birthday... we made a big deal about that. She even got a cake with peanutbutter, refried beans, cheese and tortillas. The heart attack special! ;)

She did have to share with Holly though, who's birthday was on March 17th.

When Missy was 2.5 years old, we bred her to a church member's dog, Alex. That was August 1996. She went into labor on the night of October 24th. Around 7am on the 25th puppies started popping out! We had a few scares - Missy chewed off the sack of one puppy too close to it's tummy and it spent several minutes profusely bleeding. Since there was no cord to hold shut, we started to worry and called the vet. He said give it a few more minutes, and thankfully the bleeding stopped.

Missy was a great mother. As she was giving birth we'd take away the puppies since they were getting cold being out in the open. We'd put them on a heating pad on the other side of the birthing box divider. Seeing her babies taken away made Missy panic, even if she had a few puppies nursing on her. She would get up, lean over the divider, bite a pup's head and bring it back with her. We quickly learned to grab two puppies, put one on the pad, bring the other back to Missy, take two puppies, bring one back. Nevermind that the divider was only 2 feet away from Missy! :)

She had a total of 10 puppies, but the last one was born dead. It had been inside of her for over 2.5 hours since the last pup and I had read that if the puppies aren't born within 2 hours of each other, there's usually a problem. My mom was gone to help somebody, so I tried hard to revive the dead girl, but nothing worked. So I gave up after 10 minutes and gave Missy the pup. She sniffed it, gave it a few licks, and then ignored it and turned to her living pups. No panic when I took the dead pup away and bagged it for the freezer.

The living pups totalled to be 5 girls and 4 boys. It was decided that each of us kids would get one boy and one girl. I named mine Lynda Dawn and Caleb. Sarah named hers Lacy and Brownie. A neighbor girl named the last girl "Milky Way".

In the picture below, I'm pretty sure it's Milky Way that's giving herself a neck crick. :) Also I spot Lacy on the lower right side of the picture. She has a white streak on her nose like her Mama and also the white chest. Lacy was easily the runt of the litter. She even threw up once - didn't help her weight! :P

Lynda Dawn was the first puppy to be sold. *sniff* I think that was December 21. They made good Christmas pups! Caleb was the last to be sold. We sold him and then the new owner's father died a week later and asked if they could return Caleb. Of course! We kept Caleb for another week - he was smart as his Mama too! He could sit on command, go to the bathroom when we encouraged him and was capable of behaving himself overnight in my bedroom. Happily give his toy a few chews and off to bed he went. But my mom was fed up with dogs by then... and Caleb had to go too. My dad has mentioned a few times throughout the years that he wished we kept Caleb. Sorry Mom, not trying to guilt you. :) But he was definately a quiet and easy going pup.

Below is a picture of Sarah's male pup, Brownie. As "payment" for breeding Missy to Alex, we let the owners have first pick of any pup. They called him Brandon and he got to live with his dad. They were kind enough to share pictures of him at 4 months old.

Lacy was a toughie to sell - it was obvious she was the runt. So I offered a deal to the next door neighbors. I would often times walk all three dogs, Missy, Lacy and Holly.

Even in this picture you can still see that Lacy is a runt. She was always small and skinny for her breed. But it was very nice having Missy's daughter next door. We moved when Lacy was almost 4 years old and her owner reported that Lacy was very lonely. Aww... :( When Lacy was 5.5 they bred her. Can you believe that tiny dog had 12 puppies?!?! She went from being very round to even thinner than ever after having her pups. Lacy did have one defective pup. He was just born too soon, his face wasn't developed right among other things and they had to put him down since he wasn't able to nurse.

Lacy's owner got married when the pups were about 4 weeks old. She gave me a key to their house and I would check by once or twice a day. So easy to fall in love with them! And I did. The pups were sold one by one. Except Ginger. She wasn't a runt, just nothing extra special about her. I wanted her so much! Her owners even offered her to me for $200 (Lacy's pups were selling for $700) but I knew I wouldn't be able to get away with that since Mom forbade any more dogs. I did take Ginger to my parents house once too. Just trying to convince Mom... :) She ended up being sold to somebody else when she was about 12 weeks old and that was the end of it. Looking back now... I do wish we kept both Caleb and Ginger. They would have been 9 and 4 years old now. And help soften the blow of Missy's death.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Summer! Spring! Summer! Winter!

The weather has been having some indecisive issues lately. On February 28th I was seriously considering to go swimming. Yes, I was that hot. I even went by the pool to dip my toes in... and two people were already there! No, I like to swim alone, thank you. Or at least with people I know.

Then the next day it was spring-ish. As spring as southern Arizona can get. It'd be called summer in Northern California. :P I even enjoyed a stroll out and saw some freshly budding trees. Yesterday was hot and humid. Brother! I told myself that if today was just as hot, I'm swimming! Today... it rain. Yeah. Real rain. Cold rain! The weather really can't make up it's mind.

But thoughts of summer are creeping back. Especially since we have a bee problem at the moment. Yes, bees like flowers and all that, and they're welcome to zoom around... but they're not allowed to build a house between the apartment walls!!!! Yup. Right outside our dining room window the bees have been steadily flying in and out of a water drain. I took a good look today and can see a fairly large hold behind the drain. Worse of all, there's a dead bee INSIDE of our dining room window. I really hope they haven't found a way into our apartment.

At least the bee problem isn't looking like this... yet.

A huge colony of Africanized bees were traveling through the neighborhood last May. You can see them buzzing around in the lower left corner of the picture and the dark mass in the center of the tree. The mass is just millions of bees clustered up and it's actually over 3 feet long. But I was making my husband really nervous by going so close to them. (He got stung on the nose when he was kid... and I never have been stung, so I tend be a little more foolhardy around bees). The good news is that they were only passing through and hopefully they made a home far, far, far away from here. :)

I've been working on more star-in-a-star for me. This is just a sneak peek of the star centers. I have all the pieces cut out though.

These stars gave me a great chance to try out the Easy Angle and Companion Angle rulers. Great rulers with so many posibilities and helps miminize fabric waste.

Tomorrow is the guild meeting. We're gonna paperpiece a star. I think I'm going to do it in greens and purples. I'm supposed to bring my sewing machine, fabric and scissors... but not my iron! How does anybody sew paperpiecing without ironing? I tried that once and ended up with lots of odd lumps. Maybe I should sneak in my mini-iron and buy one of the little portable ironing pads. Need to dig up some scraps for the project! :)


Friday, March 03, 2006

Mutant Bread and Wolves

Wanting a little more variety in our bread life besides "Basic Whole Wheat Bread", I bought a 25 pound bag of Bread Flour from Costco. This flour has been doing just fine with pizza. I also wanted to try a new bread recipe - it even had milk in it. The book said to scald it... I had no idea what that meant! So I googled and the first page I came up with said to turn your stove on high with the milk in a pan and leave the room. Come back when you smell something unpleasent and proceed to throw away the milk and the pan! Uhhh... :) The next site said the best way would be to use a thick bottom pan, heat on medium and stir a lot - works for me!

Working the liquids into the flour was a nightmare. The milk made it very sticky and I just could not get the dough to mix well! Talk about frustration. I ended up saying heck with it and dumping it into the bowl to rise. A very lumpy blob. :) I even sent an email to my husband whining that the bread wasn't looking very good and I should just throw it out and why do I do this to myself?!

And it rose. Huh. Not very high or anything, but maybe it was gonna make it after all. It was much easier to handle after two proofings. So plowing on, make them into loaves, let that rise, pop them into the oven and wish them the best of luck!

After 25 minutes of cooking, I decided to peek on them... surely they're looking ok... oh heck!!! They were brushing the oven's top coils! Wow! Yank them out, lower the oven rack and let them finish cooking. I had to peek a few more times, just to make sure they weren't trying to explode out of the oven. ;)

What a nice turn of events for me. And one slice is so filling! And best of all, the bread slid out of the dishes easily. My last two batches have been I'll-fight-you-and-get-you-out-even-if-it's-the-last-thing-I-ever-do! Eh, they did come out a little scarred. :P But today's? Slid out with a mere shaking of the upturned dish. So come on over... it's gonna take us a while to get through these loaves! :)

And just for some eye candy... here's a quilt an aunt commissioned me to do for her son's retiring teacher last spring. The teacher had a passion for... wolves! Betcha you could never guess that. ;)

There were 19 students and each of them drew a wolf face. My aunt printed them out and I framed them with wolf-related fabric. Each wolf drawing was a different size! Thank goodness for my 12.5" square ruler! And yup, scrappy snuck in again. I. can't. help. it! :) (And if anybody's interested, the middle wolf in the second left row was made by my cousin).

Of course, 19 doesn't work well in quilt tops, so I had to come up with a 20th block.

I actually made two of each block - different fabrics, of course - and use the other 4 for the corners of the quilt. Also my first attempt at free-motioning with my machine - all the loopies in the border. Wasn't brave enough to try it around the drawings, so they got "framed" with outline around each one. The only thing that I'd change about this quilt is to do the quilting differently. I'm braver now. :)


Thursday, March 02, 2006

I can't help it!

It's like some horrible addiction. Completely unresistable... I can't help but make everything scrappy! Take this Birthday Block that I made. The gal asked for any star, blue and white. Could I stick to just one blue fabric? No!!! It had to be at least 8 different blues.

The only thing I'd change about this block would be to put another blue in the center square. Make the center star solid blue. Otherwise, it's just perfect!

Really, going scrappy makes my life so much easier. I don't worry about the colors matching. I don't have to say "ohh... I want this color... no wait, I want THIS one more." Nope, both of them can go in! :) The only downside is that you have to cut more fabric. But if you use pre-cut strips, all you gotta do is hunt down the colors you want and off you go!

I'm sad too... I had to mail the block away! My husband even praised it more than the usual "that looks nice dear." :) I want it back. Now I'm gonna have to make one for myself. :P Heck... why not do a whole quilt?! Mmm, I can get greens and purples in it. Or even make a rainbow! :)


Wednesday, March 01, 2006

String Progress

Laurie Ann asked for a picture of my string blocks. This was just a trial layout to see what I could end up with. Since the blocks are only 5" unfinished, I need to make this much bigger! :)

Anything goes in strings blocks. Kids, Christmas, bugs, fish, animals, flowers, fruits, shells... all in! Maybe you can even find the block where I had to add some corner pieces because I was short. I know that I even have a piece in with the wrong side up! Totally by accidently... but hey, I paid for the back as much as I paid for the front of the fabric. :)

My first guild meeting went well. Today they had a speaker, Rita Blocksom, who discussed on organizing your sewing space. She didn't focus on designing one, but guilding us through ideas of improving our quilting spaces to tailor OUR needs. Certainly interesting. Would probably be more helpful if I actually had an area to work with! Everything it just crammed and jammed in this apartment. We'll be moving! :)

Next week is the BOM week and we're gonna paper piece from Carol Doak's 50 Fabulous Paper-Pieced Stars. I have decided that I'm going to at least give everything a try. If I don't like it, I can tailor it to my desires. But hey, what's their not to like about quilters? (I did say quilters... not quilt police!) ;)