Wednesday, December 28, 2022

Another Loss

 It is so amazingly strange to be without a dog at our feet. We lost Tucker, very unexpectedly, just before Thanksgiving.  With all of the busy-ness in our lives, I still haven’t had time to process the loss, and my eyes still well up with tears when I think of him. 

Folks asked if he missed Gypsy, and to be honest, we hadn’t noticed a huge change in his behavior, but maybe it was all too much for him, and he gave up heart. Maybe it was destined to happen with or without her. It could be totally unrelated. Only a higher power knows. 

We booked a cruise over Thanksgiving, because we could! We wanted to celebrate a big anniversary in a special way, so found a free period of time and made the arrangements. Our neighbor’s daughter and son-in-law lost everything in Hurricane Ian, and were thrilled to have a home to call their own for 10 days. They adored our dogs, so were thrilled to take care of Tucker. We met the day before we left to go over all of the particulars: where is the dog food kept, how much do we feed him, how often do we give him medication, etc. 

In the morning we woke early and began the last minute craziness of getting ready to leave for the cruise. Tucker lay next to our bed, conveniently/inconveniently sprawled in the path to the bathroom. We stepped over him as we hustled from closet to suitcase, grabbing things to pack. In hindsight, his stillness was totally uncharacteristic. In the past, just bringing out a suitcase would have induced pacing and panting. A bit later he moved to his spot in the living room. Mr. Dreamy made his breakfast, but Tucker was disinterested. Not unusual given the commotion of packing. A bit later I grabbed his leash so we could at least go for a walk before out departure to drive to Ft Lauderdale to board the ship. Tucker struggled to stand, I had to assist him as he got to his hind feet - this had never happened before.  I also realized that Tucker was wet, he had lost bladder control. As I stepped out, he tried to follow, but his hind legs wouldn’t cooperate and he knuckled under. Both Mr.Dreamy and I looked at Tucker, and at each other, in disbelief and horror! How could this have happened? What happened? What are we going to do? 

Our vet lives down the street from us, and was on her way to the office when I called. We were able to lift Tucker into the back of my car to transport him to the Vet’s office.  He was able to wobble inside, but his stance, with shuddering front legs and an awkward posture, showed how difficult this was, and just how much pain he was experiencing. Our vet came into the exam room, and after an exam turned to us with tears in her eyes. Yes, she said, sometimes disc injuries happen and impact movement in this manner, and perhaps with several weeks of medication and special care, he might be OK. But, realistically, this didn’t seem to be the case. She felt there might be some sort of mass in his abdomen, as palpating that area resulted in pain reactions. She felt that given his age, 12 1/2, and given his size, and given previous spinal injuries (Pippin bit him on the back, and he was always sensitive in the area), perhaps the most humane thing to do was to euthanize him. We nodded our assent, and held him, and loved him as he took his final sleep. 

I have to admit I still suffer some (a lot of) guilt about our decision.  We had a cruise ship to board. We didn’t have a lot of time. However, our vet called us later in the day to let us know that it was evident that Tucker had a massive tumor, most likely a hemangiosarcoma that had burst, impacting his spine. I talked with her a few weeks later, I guess I just needed to hear again that we made the right decision, even though it hurts and doesn’t feel right. 

We have had a crazy schedule since we lost our dogs. We are on our way back to our Florida home after the cruise, a few days at home, a visit to Las Vegas, and a few weeks, including Christmas, at our new condo in CA. Once we get home, I will have the opportunity to deal with my loss. But I know I will still have that “oh my God, I need to walk the dogs reaction in the morning, after coffee, and in the evening.  I’ll have to borrow dogs from our neighbors!

Sunday, October 16, 2022

We Lost our Gypsy Girl

 Gypsy passed away peacefully with both of us Dreamers by her side, stroking her and telling her what a great girl she is. We had noticed that she was slowing down over the past few weeks, lagging behind when we walked and struggling getting down and up. We chalked it up to age and arthritis, as she was anywhere between 12 and 14 years old. Wednesday her breaths came faster and she could barely walk. Apparently she was experiencing congestive heart failure. 

Reflecting back on her life with us,  she certainly lived a full and exciting life and most definitely lived up to her name!

Gypsy on July 11 2012, in Parker Colorado - our first day together (The Shelty belonged to Gypsy's Foster Mom). We adopted Gypsy from the Wyoming Aussie Rescue Society. They thought she was an Aussie who hadn't had her tail bobbed, but we soon realized, she had to be a Border Collie based on her very typical BC behaviors when "herding". 

In Oakland, California in May, 2022

Hiding from a thunder storm in Parker, CO 2013

Gypsy's way of getting some love - in our trailer as we traveled in 2018

On the shores of Lake Superior, June 2022. Neither Gypsy, nor Tucker were water dogs. I'm actually thankful as cleaning up two hairy, wet, sandy dogs would not be fun, especially in an RV 

Gypsy loved nothing better than rolling in the grass and scratching her back

Besides calling her Gypsy, Gypsy Doodle Bug, and Gypples, I often referred to her as my "Ground Hound" She would investigate EVERYTHING she found on the ground, and if it was edible, she'd scarf it up, never breaking stride! Here she is investigating a tarantula in Texas.    

Rest in deserved peace, sweet girl.

Saturday, September 3, 2022

Anatomy of a Quilt

I prepared this post in 2021, but never completed it.... I guess some things, like the subject of this post, just take time!!

Quilts that I make often begin as a single piece of fabric I happen to see and fall in love with. The fabric calls to me and tells me that I must make a quilt featuring that fabric. Then I begin the hunt for other fabrics. On very rare occasions I'll find a pattern and select all of the fabrics I need on one visit to the quilt shop. Well, maybe that's only happened once! Usually I walk out of the shop with the few yards of the fabric that caught my eye and nothing else. From there I may purchase more fabric when I find it, still looking for the perfect pattern, or the pattern may come next and then additional fabric. 

This quilt began with fabric I found at a quilt shop in Laramie, WY on a trip from Denver to San Francisco in 2017. Yes, you read that correctly! I collected fabric at several stops on the trip, not even knowing what I wanted to do with it. It wasn't until another adventure, this time a workshop in New Hampshire in 2018, that I found the pattern I wanted to useBonnie Hunter's String Fling" has a quilt called "Jamestown Landing".  I thought it would look great in teals, and decided I also wanted to add some soft orange colors. The hunt continued!

Quilts take fabric. Lots of fabric. A twin-size quilt requires 7 yards of fabric, plus or minus, just for the top. If the quilt is comprised of lots of tiny pieces, you may even need more because 1/2 inch of every piece, either width and length, are lost in the seam allowances. I decided to make this as a king, which requires over 10 yards of fabric! This particular quilt is what we call "scrappy" for obvious reasons. So, collecting fabric continued,  As I visit shops I look for fabrics in the right colors,  and add a quarter yard here and a quarter yard there. Some of my fabrics were featured in quilts I previously used and some I inherited from my mother. 

Half-square triangles, or HSTs (sounds like a venereal disease!) make up over half the pieces in the quilt. An HST is a square made of two triangles sewn along the diagonal. For this quilt the squares are 2 1/2". It takes a lot of HSTs to make a king size quilt! At one point, while sewing, and sewing, and sewing, a song came to mind. You can sing along to the tune of "Seasons of Love":

Five hundred, twenty-five thousand, six hundred HSTs, 
That's how many I have to sew.
Five hundred, twenty-five thousand, six hundred HSTs, 
I probably have a thousand to go!
You cut them,
You piece them,
You sew them together.
You press them,
You trim them,
And stack them up high. 

I began making HST's in mid to late January. The finished "flimsy" was on my wall on April 2, 2021.

"Strings" of triangles sewn together

HST's in stacks, ready to be pieced together

Here I have placed HST's on the quilt wall to view placement of colors

HST's are sewn together to make blocks

Blocks of different sizes are sewn together to make the quilt

I knew I wanted a "piano key" outer border, but here I am "auditioning" different fabrics for a smaller inner border, trying to decide which looks best.

When I complete the "flimsy" I often hang it up on one of the walls in my sewing room. This lets me enjoy the almost finished quilt, and also helps me decide what quilting patterns I want to use.

However, before the quilt can be quilted, I need to prepare backing. I enjoy using scraps from the quilt to make a pieced backing. It's almost as much fun as putting the top together!

Once the top and backing are complete I can put the fabrics on my long arm sewing machine, making a "sandwich" with the backing on the bottom, the batting in the middle and the quilt top on the top layer. The fabrics are rolled onto separate rollers on the machine, so the fabric may be held taut for stitching. 

Sometimes I am not quite sure what design I want to use for different portions of the quilt. I have a piece of plexiglas that I can put on top of the quilt while it is on the long arm which I can use to try out different pattern ideas. 

After the quilting is finished the only thing left to complete the quilt is to put a binding on the raw edges of the quilt. I usually sew the binding on by machine, and finish it with hand stitching. 

Adding a label to the quilt is also part of the process. This label was sewn into the backing of the quilt. Other labels are hand stitched to the back after the quilting is complete. 

The quilt is then ready to use or to gift to someone!

Friday, August 26, 2022

Our Summer Symphony - The Final Movement

The final movement of a symphony is generally a rousing piece that is fast, and loud. The fourth movement of our Summer Symphony may not have been loud, but it took on a faster tempo than any of the previous movements. We were on our way home! 

We said our “good-byes” to the group, some of whom were going on to Newfoundland, and turned our wheels south. Each night (except for a stay in New Hampshire to see my BFF, Marjie) found us in a different campground and we steadily progressed toward Florida: Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Maine, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Virginia, South Carolina, Georgia and finally…. Home!

Our summer was memorable. It was fun. We saw so many wonderful sights and met so many wonderful people. We are fortunate to be able to compose and enjoy a summer symphony of our own design.

Marjie & Me

Marjie, Scott, Me, Zdzislaw

Marjie & Scott

Our odometer turns to 10,000 miles

Pups enjoy a campground in Georgia with their own yard

A visit with family: Me, Scott, Sue (Scott's sister) and Don

Florida welomes us

This is the reaction when we pull into our community.
The dogs love traveling, and never seem to be as excited to see home as we are.

It's hard to tell from the picture, but the vehicles are dirty from the trip - 
rode hard and put up wet!

Monday, August 8, 2022

Summer Symphony - Third Movement

 On July 8 we were In Hermon, Maine and joined an Adventure Caravan group for a tour of the Maritimes. The third movement of our Summer Symphony is a lilting dance. It is very different in cadence to the first two movements. One day flowed into another, with arrangements for tours, travel, camp sites and some meals taken care of by the company. We simply followed instructions, just as the woman follows the man’s lead in a dance. We had nothing to worry about for 31 days, except keeping up with the beat and following the lead. On our trip we visited Québec, Gaspé, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Cape Breton Island with 20 other RVs.

We traveled a lot - We ate a lot - We talked a lot - We learned a lot

Here is a quick summary of our caravan adventures: (A poem I shared with the group at the end of our trip)

Light houses, bus trips, pretty flowers, history

Cod Fishing, gannets and Anne with an E

Range lights, battles, Montmorency Falls,

Farming mussels, potatoes and oysters, we saw it all.

The French, Brits and Scots came, but first were Mi’kmaqs

Settlements, deportation, treaties and attacks.

Cathedrals, basilicas, churches and forts and

Rough roads, tight turns and where’s a Tim Hortons?

Tour guides, bus drivers, docents, and rangers 

"Explain us", describe, teach, and sing to us strangers.

Museums, restaurants, a pancake breakfast at eight,

Movies, musicals, drivers' meetings - don’t be late. 

Bag pipes, fancy footwork, what’s under the kilt?

See how rugs are hooked and barrels are built.

Boats, ships and steamers, on land and at sea:

Those for lobster, for tours, for fishing and sailing.

Lunches, lobsters, and fresh fish ‘n chips

Salmon, crab, mussels and scallops - delish.

Irvings, Sobeys, Canadian Tire and cute towns,

Visitor centers, optional stops and ice cream at COWS.

Souvenirs, t-shirts, hats, pins, tiny shops.

Distilleries, wineries, Alexander Keith’s brewery, with hops.

Memorials, gravestones, tributes to those who have passed,

Pick your card, get on the bus, find your seat, don’t be last.

Walking tours, historic places, National parks, scenic sights,

It’s been a great trip, good-bye and good night.

Here are some pictures showing highlights from our Maritime Minuet - in no particular order!

We didn't know that Ketchup Potato Chips were a thing in Canada!

The goats at Acadian Village wanted extra attention!

The "Arm of Gold" campground in North Sydney
 had wonderful walking trails with interesting objects

In Charlottetown, PEI

A modern lighthouse in Pointe-au-Père, QC

On the water in Peggy's Cove, Nova Scotia

Snow Crab near No Sydney - can't get much fresher than this!

Chateau Frontenac from Old Town

From the courtyard of the Chateau

Yummmm... lobster!

Percé Rock 

College of Piping on PEI

Narrow streets in old town, Quebec City
A trip to Europe without jet lag!

Cute covered bridge near Metis Sur Mer

A visit to the recreated Port Royal settlement near Annapolis Royal

A section of the historic needlepoint in Annapolis Royal

Cute (Quebec)

Roosting Northern Gannets on Bonaventure Island, near Perce

Sainte-Anne Beaupre Basilica near Quebec
(The Pope was expected to visit in three weeks)

Tour Guide in Charlottetown, PEI

Hypnotized lobsters in Percé
(I learned to do this from my dad - folks on the 
trip were intrigued!!)

The guard at the gate to the fort in Halifax
There were so many amazing churches in the villages we traveled through - 
this one was actually at the Acadien Village.

Old building in the old town of Quebec

Another street scene in Quebec
The funicular to the upper part of the city is in the center

Our tour guide in Annapolis Royal

Another viewpoint from a trail at Arm of Gold campground in North Sydney

One section of the fresco carved by William deGarthe in Peggy's Cove

On the beach on PEI

Along the road, heading to Quebec

Halifax experienced a huge explosion in 1917 when a ship caught fire and explosives she was carrying detonated. Damage was extensive. The clock stopped at the time of the explosion, and this side of the City clock has been left at the position in which it stopped so many years ago.

I loved the colorful buildings we saw throughout our trip. 

This was a cove on PEI

And so the dance came to an end. 31 days of touring with Adventure Caravans. The third movement of our Summer Symphony came to an end, but the sweet sounds linger and bring a smile to my face.

What is Four?

Have you ever thought of the meaning of "four"?  Four is the number of: seasons in a year. corners and sides to a square. virtues....