Saturday, April 27, 2013

Just a Little Update

It's been too long since I've posted to this blog, and a few of you have expressed concern about my silence. It's mostly been a matter of much to do and very little of it is related to quilting. 

So I'll make it perfectly clear. My lack of blogging has not been due to any post-radiation fatigue. Though I was told to expect fatigue one to two weeks after treatments ended, it just never happened! Perhaps that's due to following the radiation oncologist's suggestion to maintain strength by eating lots of protein. Not being much of a meat-eater, I made a concerted effort to begin every day with eggs and sausages. I also happily ate my hubby's wonderful, from scratch, refried beans which I eat like pudding. I guess it worked! Pretty much since April 12, when radiation ended, I've been feeling 100 percent my chipper self, full of energy and resuming usual activities. Oh, and for those who are curious, as an insurance policy against the return of the breast cancer, I'm taking a daily prescription drug for the next five years - Arimidex. Side effects include hot flashes and weight gain, among others. No one would be pleased about those side effects, but it in the big scheme of things, I'm not complaining.

My first happy obligation has been to make a couple blocks for Carla, our April quilter in the Mid-Century Modern Bee. She wants to make her own version of the Green Tea and Sweet Beans quilt, so she left it up to us as to whether we wanted to make pieced or appliquéd blocks for her.

I chose appliqué, and designed this six-petaled flower on my Macbook using Pages software.

My favorite hand appliqué method is back-basting needle turn appliqué, because all the prep work is up front. It makes for a completely portable project.
back-basting, viewed from the back
The front, ready to be needle-turned appliquéd.

This flower is on a background of Architextures fabric. 
6" block 
I used YLI silk thread for the hand-appliqué so that's why you can't see any stitches. They practically melt into the fabrics.

This flower is made with Heather Mulder Peterson's Seaside Cottage prints, and one Anna Maria Horner print.
6" block
These went out in the mail this week.

That's not much sewing, but I have definitely have ideas, plans, and a long to-do list. In the meantime, these quilty-related doings are coming up:
  • Representing myself as the instructor for "First Time Quiltmaking" at The Lifelong Learning College open house on Saturday, May 4. During the open house, I'll have a table of quilts and information to promote two series of five-week beginner quilting classes I'll teach in July and September.
  • Making plans for and leading the next Central Florida MQG meeting on Monday, May 6. We're continuing a "Make it Modern," series and at the May meeting we'll focus on modern design.
  • Working on magazine story ideas! I'm pretty excited because I've again been invited to freelance write for American Quilter magazine. That means I come up with story ideas, including photo possibilities; do some preliminary research; and then pitch ideas to the magazine's editor. If the topic meets with the editor's approval, I start delving deeper, interviewing, writing and re-writing. Since I pretty much thrive on everything related to quilting, particularly modern quilting, this opportunity is a no-brainer. I can't wait to pursue the ideas that are keeping me sleepless, from about 3 to 4:30 a.m., every day!
Yep. These days, everything is about appreciating and reveling in life, and digging into the things one loves. Linda

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Resuming Regularly Scheduled Programming

This blog has been silent for the past 12 days due to unavoidable health care requirements. Breast cancer does that - creeps up unexpectedly, turns one's life topsy-turvy, and after facing unknown surgery and treatment, spits one out a bit worn, yet hopeful and oh-so-much wiser.

Mostly, the past 12 days (post-surgery) were pretty unpleasant. For a couple days they were even painful. However, due to being blessed with a caring surgeon and his assistant, I felt some relief after they made a house call! In this day and age, who would believe that a physician and assistant would drive 90 minutes and two hours (respectively) to ascertain what was causing pain, and then relieving it!? I am blessed to have found such concerned medical professionals right here in Florida.

After getting the Savi-catheter re-positioned correctly (not resting on a nerve), last Monday I began five days of two-a-day treatments in Ocala, a 45-50 minute drive from our house.

Ten times, I went through this door. 

Ten times I laid on a table and looked at this ceiling. But mostly, I closed my eyes and imagined quilt blocks and designs I want to make.

And ten times, nine lines sticking out my right side were connected to nine lines coming from a radiation machine that, for six minutes, delivered radiation along one line at a time.

Once again, during the week, I was overwhelmed with cards, emails, and texted good wishes. I won't be able to thank everyone individually, but please know how very much I have appreciated your concern and remembrances.

Friday afternoon, after wearing the catheter for 11 days, it was removed from my chest - ahhh. I'm feeling like myself again! Full of energy. But, I am supposed to take it easy for a while, until the incision closes up and is past infection. Still, it's sure fun to anticipate regular living again - line dancing, stitchery group, Bible study, and time in my sewing room.

In between appointments, we've done a little more accessorizing on our home. This arrangement is the perfect accent above the door to the master bedroom. Edited to add: This plant is silk. No watering needed.

See my Hosanna wall hanging on the left? It's the one put together with the foundation paper-pieced palm blocks I showed in my last post. 

I'm pleased with the way the big stitch quilting adds element of interest to it.

Last week a package arrived with 15 fat quarters I won from the Fat Quarter Shop. Andi and Kelly who put the fabrics together call this bundle "Rainbows and Unicorns." How could such a fabric bundle NOT lift one's spirits? Good picks Andi and Kelly. Thanks FQS for the win!

So, that's my check in to let you all know that I'm doing really well. Other than follow-up visits to the oncologist (on Monday), radiation oncologist (in May), and surgeon (in July), I'm resuming regularly scheduled life. And that's possible because we have a benevolent God who cares, and who hears and answers prayers. I'm giving a hearty, "Praise the Lord!" Linda

Monday, April 1, 2013

The Spice of Life

Since last Tuesday's surgery, life has been about numerous things to keep me occupied, and be grateful for... 

First of all, cards of well wishes! Goodness! So many of them, some even from people I don't know! Neighbors brought flowers, and bread, and an Iowa friend sent me books. 

Two cards came from members of the Des Moines chapter of The Modern Quilt Guild. What a surprise! On the envelope of one was written: "So many well wishes and prayers from DSMMQG, we needed two cards!" Oh my friends... I am so touched. Thank you.

And if that wasn't enough, our daughter sent an envelope of notes from her family. These two "cards," from grandsons Tay (age 3-1/2) and Aesa (age 2-1/2) are so darned sweet. Mom asked each of them what they wanted to say to Nana, and then wrote their words beside their drawings. Such sweet sentiments, but Aesa's concern for me is a suggestion, "Some soup, maybe?" Yes my sweet boy, soup may help.

Easter Sunday was lovely. We spent part of the morning on parking lot duty at church. I thought you'd like to see the latest in parking lot attendant fashion. There's nothing so trendy as a darling aqua-and-navy dress/sweater set, accessorized with a neon-green vest!

On the church reception table, along with the morning's snacks, was this Easter egg tree. Those smocked eggs were made by me many years ago. They're one of the few hand craft items I saved in our move, and was glad to see them put to use.

Over the weekend, my Aussie friend, Lindi emailed to tell me I won the Jolly Jabber's fq bundle giveaway. I'm so grateful to Lindi for thinking to tell me! I haven't been so good lately about keeping up with blog-reading due to being a bit distracted. The fabs are on their way, and they sure look great. Thank you FatQuarterShop!

I'm making steady progress on this wall hanging of foundation paper-pieced Palm Tree blocks. After arranging the pieced blocks on my design wall, I took a picture. It's nice to see it in color and black-and-white, the latter being a good way to check value placement - the dark and light contrast that affects the visual impact of a quilt.

Saturday I straight-lined quilted along the edges of each FFP block to stabilize the piece.

Then, I marked lines with a red Frixion pen, and started big-stitch quilting using green #8 perle cotton. 

This hand quilting is taking longer than machine quilting, and my fingers are sore from tugging on the needle, even though I'm using a gripper to pull the needle through.

Tonight is our Central Florida MQG meeting. We have so many activities going! And this is the meeting where we're explaining changes in the Modern Quilt Guild, and asking people who've been attending since last November to make a commitment to join - AKA pay dues! With those monies, we expect that by July our chapter will officially join the national MQG. 

In exciting and relieving news, today I received the surgery pathology report indicating that my breast cancer was confined to the tumor that was removed last week. There's no cancer in my lymph nodes! I'm cancer-free! Thank you, all my praying friends, and praise God!

Tomorrow I begin the "insurance" part of keeping myself free from breast cancer - radiation. First, a savi catheter is being inserted in the lumpectomy cavity. (I'll utter a little "Yikes!" I think.) Then, a couple days later, a visit to a radiation specialist will make sure the catheter is positioned correctly, and a radiation treatment "map"/plan will be created. Then, we're expecting radiation treatments to begin next Monday - twice a day at intervals of six to eight hours apart, for five days. Prayers are still appreciated. I'm holding on.
I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.
Psalm 16:8 (NIV)


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