Monday, May 23

Ob La Di

Ob-la-di ob-la-da life goes on bra
La-la how the life goes on.

Thought I’d best check in lest anyone think I’ve floated away. I haven’t. I’m still standing.

I’ve been doing a lot of things, but not taking any pictures. What—a post without pictures? Almost!

Now here’s something completely different. They came to measure the floor to see where the slab has torqued. Why? Well, if you remember, things are slipping, pulling the walls away from the floor and ceiling here and there.

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It’s called a manometer. Definition: An instrument for measuring the pressure acting on a column of fluid, with a U-shaped tube of liquid in which a difference in the pressures acting in the two arms of the tube causes the liquid to reach different heights in the two arms.

It appealed to my science-nerdness and I was completely curious. It’s actually a very simple concept, being that water seeks its own level. The water in the reservoir and hose is a constant. On the other end of the hose is a rod with a tube, and when the rod is touched to the floor, the water will go up or down if the floor is higher or lower in that spot. And then you get a map of the entire floor. Or, more correctly, the slab beneath.

It’s just another step in the ongoing saga of the five houses on our street whose slabs have torqued. No, it’s not fixed yet. Yes, they’re going to. It’s the when that’s impossible to pin down. Eventually.

In other news, my shoulder seems to be a little better this week. I wish I could say it was a lot better, but it’s a little better, at least I think I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. I’m going to start physical therapy again. PT is seriously painful and I had to take some time off because my shoulder doesn’t like it one bit (read: I couldn’t take it no more). It likes better to do nothing at all, to be luxuriously perched on a pillow like a pampered pet. But that isn’t the best thing for it in the long run. Amazing how long it takes for something like this to heal. A broken bone would have healed by now (six weeks). Picture from Facebook: I miss my golf clubs. Seriously.

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Our little neighborhood of 50 Del Webb homes (there are 286 residences in the geezer community) held a potluck party yesterday. We usually do a thing in the street on warm summer evenings, but this time we held a brunch. There used to be a big welcome center here, and now that the developers have moved on to greener pastures it has been turned into a big party room. It comes equipped with big round tables and chairs to seat 100, a commercial kitchen, and the big doors open up to comfy outdoor seating under the umbrellas. What a nice gift from the developers. We had about 70-80 people, and we had bloody marys, fruits, endless pastries and endless egg dishes (all with bread in them of course), ham, sausages, but NO BACON! Still, the brunch was fabulous.

After brunch our friends Tom & Deborah from Carlsbad came to look at the house two doors down that is going up for sale in a few days. Everyone on our street knew they were coming and wanted to meet the potential new neighbors. Our next door neighbors actually showed up at our door and the impromptu party was terrific fun. But I don’t think they will be buying that house because it’s way overpriced—yes it has a lot of upgrades, but you can’t put a price on upgrades, houses are only worth what the current market is worth, at least in California. And, as Deborah so aptly put it, why should we pay a premium for stuff we don’t care about. But other houses will become available over time. We are so grateful to live here. Everyone is.

That’s pretty much all the news. I haven’t spent much time in the studio—my shoulder was so painful I couldn’t even draw—but I’m going to start up again now. I think. I hope. But I’ve read a couple books, and I’ve watched a lot of basketball and a few new series (amazon prime) on our new TV. Things that I ordinarily wouldn’t have time for.

So all is well. Life is good.

Wednesday, May 11

Now You See It, Now You Don’t

We downsized quite a bit when we moved into our new digs, and some of the furniture is too big for the house. Like this piece, for example:

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When we bought it we needed something to fill up the huge, cavernous great room. But in this house it’s about 110% too big for the room. It dwarfs the space.

That, and it only houses a small TV. JJ loves to watch sports on TV, and we often sit in the [tiny] bedroom watching the larger TV, sitting only a few inches away from it. So I said, Look. Why not just fix the problem already. Watching sports is one of your greatest pleasures in life and life is short. Get a new damn TV.

So we put a new TV on the wish list and it recently came to the top of the list. But making the change seemed like an unsurmountable task. Where to start?

First we had to get rid of “The Brown Monstah” as I call it. We took color photos around to the three big consignment shops in the area and they all said sorry, not interested, nobody wants them anymore. Figures. So we called Salvation Army, and if you know anything at all about how this works, you know that you have to put your donation curbside. But they relented when we told them we are old.

But when they got here and saw the size of the thing they had to move they said, “No Seenyore, uh-uh. No way. Hasta la vista.” Then JJ got hot and looked like he was going to pop a vein and they said, “Okay, okay Meester, we take it.”

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If this thing makes it there in one piece, I’ll be surprised.

But it’s gone. Bye bye. We also sent the TV, but the audio components were old and didn’t really work.

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We shopped online at potterybarn.com and found this. It wasn’t exactly what we wanted, but it works and we had some coupons and free shipping, so this is what we got.

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We called cousin John to come put it in. John does great work. He is expensive, but very efficient, thorough, and neat. He knows his stuff and does it right. And you can call him any time, day or night, if you forget how to turn it on.

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Here it is in it’s new home. It is hooked up to the internet and I can get all sorts of music and videos. The new receiver/amplifier is great and we have for-real surround-sound now. and a subwoofer that works. What a difference—ohmygosh it’s fantastic! And just in time for basketball finals.

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Monday, May 9

New Orleans Jazz Fest

Hey, long time no see. We have been roamin’ around. First we met our friends Sarah & Bill in New Orleans for some 4-F. That would be Fun, Frolic, Food, Fest. Jazz Fest, that is.

I did not take my big camera but instead relied on my cell phone. I have figured out how to get phone pictures to the laptop: Facebook! Upload, right-click, save.

I tried to take a selfie. Debra said, “Smile!” I can’t, I’m concentratin’. Didn’t turn out very good, I’m no good with selfies. I can’t see the little screen!

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We did get to see some terrific acts. This is Wayne Toups. He plays a blend of zydeco and cajun called Zydecajun, which I love! You can hear him HERE.

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I spent a lot of time in the Gospel Tent because when the music’s good, it’s incredible! Yowza! But I couldn’t find a sample to share that comes close to the amazing grace that good gospel music imparts to your soul. Can I get an AMEN!

We were very lucky that we went to Jazz Fest on Friday, because it rained buckets on Thursday. While we went on a day without rain, the mud was—well, think Woodstock. Lots and lots of mud. The locals wore colorful rainboots, which I thought odd until I saw them dancing in the deep mud without a care in the world.

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It rained triple buckets on Saturday, and they closed the whole thing down. Photo courtesy of NOLA.com.

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Saturday we were at the airport, which was also closed while the thunderstorm blew through.

Another thing we did in New Orleans was eat. It’s something we do well.

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Here is the appetizer cheese plate at Emeril’s NOLA, exquisite in its simplicity.

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I had the fried chicken. Everything was delicious but all that gluten made me sick.  (Asthma. But I’m better now.) There is not a single thing on this plate that does not have gluten in it. Oh well. Never again. At least I didn’t eat too much that night—forced portion control. The rosemary gravy has a squirt of jalapeƱo pepper jelly in it. Fabulous!

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I was seriously glutenated by the fourth night when we got to K-Paul’s, but I HAD to have a fried oyster or two. It’s one of the things I look forward to when I go to New Orleans. That and grits.

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I like ‘em raw, too. It’s like eating the ocean. Felix’s Oyster House.

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Saturday we had brunch with my cousin Jim and his wonderful wife Sherree, who live in New Orleans part time, before we hailed a cab for the airport. JJ had the French toast. He said it was like gooey bread pudding inside.

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The above-mentioned storm also shut down the airport, but we were dry and they had wine. People kept coming in through security but nobody was going anywhere. Serious lightning and thunder, and torrential rain. Once the airport opened for business again, it was astonishing how quickly everyone worked to get caught up. Planes everywhere. Coming and going.

We were going to Sarah & Bill’s lake house. Weather was fairly cold most of the time, but we did get out on the lake for a spin.

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Thank you, Sarah & Bill, for your wonderful, generous hospitality. Next time, OUR house!

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Monday, April 18

Finishing a Quilt

I don’t get nearly as many regular visitors to my blog as I used to. I suspect maybe there was too much golf talk and not enough quilt talk, plus it seems most/all of my cyberpals have switched to Facebook and Instagram. I think people’s attention spans nowadays are shorter, too. Facebook is faster, but I still blog because I like to. And it’s a good diary for when you can’t remember when you did this or that. Or you just want a trip down Memory Lane. I guess Facebook could be that too.

I finished this Little Grapes Quilt, I didn’t name it officially, it is a hostess gift for some dear friends who live on the central coast where we used to live. We are going to visit them in May and they are always generous with their wine, food, and accommodations. They are big into the wine scene there.

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It’s a small piece, 19 x 23. I wish I had made the leaves more colorful. It lacks a punch of bright color, but I know the subtle colors will look nice in their house.

I thought I’d share some of my finishing techniques because they are a little unconventional. First, I hate to hand-sew. I hate it so much that I will find every way possible to avoid it.

I don’t bind art quilts. I bind lap quilts and such, but my art quilts get a facing. I don’t like the look of the strip around the edge. I sew the facing onto the front and then I turn it to the back. I don’t even do a proper turn-and-poke corner, I achieve a better, more square corner just sewing on four strips and folding. I fuse it down with Steam-a-Seam that comes in a thin roll like tape. It doesn’t need to be sewn. I do, however, stitch the facing where it meets the quilt edge, as seen in the upper right corner of the picture below. I always use a dark color for the facing because it disappears. Anything light you will see. 

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When I gift a quilt, I make a little hanging apparatus for it. My own quilts, I often hammer very fine nails right through the quilt to the wall. Yep, true. If I decide to take it down for some reason, a spritz of water will make the tiny pin-holes disappear like magic. This has never been a problem in all my years of making quilts, but if I wanted to show the quilt I would have to make a hanging sleeve like below.

I do have to hand-sew the hanging sleeve to the back of the quilt, without the thread showing on the front. That’s a big oops and I have to start all over again. I am not good at hand sewing but I don’t trust the fusible tape to hold.

I buy long strips of lath from the hardware, in what—three or four foot lengths I think, and we (JJ and I) saw them off to size as needed. Then I screw tiny eye-hooks into the wood. I provide the little nails. You get out a level, hold the strip up to the wall, mark through the hooks, pound in the nails, then slide the quilt onto the “stick” (that’s what we call it) and slip the hooks onto the nails. You don’t see any of the wood behind the quilt when it’s on the wall, only a half-inch of stick shows beyond the sleeve.

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I get good wood that has a light finish on it because bare pine might leach oils into the fabric over time. Not a chance I want to take.

I don’t make a proper label for the back, I sign my name to the front because it is a piece of art. I sign the piece before I quilt it, with permanent fabric pen. If this was a show or competition quilt, I would have to make a label with my name and address, etc. and the quilt would have to have a proper title. They tell you exactly what they want the label to say, how big the sleeve should be, etcetera. They are very specific and an infraction will disqualify the quilt.

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Saturday, April 9

Pizza and a Movie Saturday

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I can hardly wait. When you can’t eat wheat you occasionally miss bread-things. I don’t miss bread per se, but sometimes I miss cookies. Gluten Free pizza and cookies aren’t terrific, but they’re better than no pizza or cookies ever again. And they are coming out with more and more G-F products, and improving them, all the time. So I can’t complain. You get used to it and not having arthritis, asthma, or migraines is totally worth it.

I have been benched from golf for six weeks. I’m getting  physical therapy for tendonitis in my rotator cuff. Its quite painful and PT is pure torture. The therapist I see is a performance specialist; he knows everything about sports and the muscles used in each sport. He understands the biomechanics of golf and the kinesiology. I learn a lot from him as he digs his knuckles into the sore spots and pulls my poor painful shoulder into positions I’d rather not be in. His goal is not only to heal me but make me better than before. Bonus! Cool!

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He told me I could practice my chipping and putting, no problem. Not playing 18 holes of golf every week will give me the time to practice a part of my game that needs serious improvement: Putting. I’m going to dedicate these next weeks to finally getting my putting where it should be: Look out 90s, here I come!

This physical therapy place is in a community I don’t often visit, Rancho Santa Margarita (we love long Spanish names here). I travel on a road called Antonio, and turn left on Avenida de los Banderas (Flags Ave in English). It gets shortened to Banderas on the street signs.

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You can’t get a picture of the two street names in the same shot, but yesterday on the way home  I saw a bus, and on the front of the bus where they have the sign that tells where the bus is going, it said Antonio/Banderas. Hilarious!

I shelved Golden Poppies for a while and started piecing this little grape thing for some friends we are going to visit next month (a hostess gift). I made the grape cluster one piece instead of fusing many individual circles, and when I quilt it the grapes will pop. I ordered some deep purple thread from Red Rock Threads. While I’m waiting I can tidy up the studio. It needs it! Fabric and freezer paper everywhere!

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I fused the branches but not the leaves or grapes, I simply do not like the look of fused applique. Yes it’s fiddly, but it looks so much better—to me. I’ve already decided to do the background quilting in the same shapes as what’s in the border. It was a fat quarter that came bundled with the bunch I ordered a few weeks ago. I had absolutely no use for it but it’s perfect for this border! I don’t know how the free-motion quilting will be on my shoulder, I hope I’ll be able to do it, I’m actually a little afraid to jump in…

Saturday, April 2

Same Stuff, Different Day

It has been pretty much the same old thing around here. Sewing, golf, cooking, eating, reading. Every day. I am a creature of habit.

I am nearly finished piecing Golden Poppies, I just need to add some foreground leaves and some background poppies. They’ll be fused. If I’m diligent I can have it ready for quilting today.

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If I put my shoulder to the grindstone.

Speaking of shoulder, I’ve had a shoulder problem lately and I’ve had to put myself on the injured list for a while. It’s quite common in athletes people of a certain age, and my geezer golf pals all had sympathetic stories to share. Boy, you mention sore shoulder and they all meander over to your cart and start commiserating. A couple weeks ago it was stiff at the start but it actually felt better after I played. And I played brilliantly that day, my best round at that course. 100.

Needless to say I was eager to get back out there and get a 99.

But I decided to quit after 14 holes, thinking I might be doing some damage. This gave me an opportunity to get a couple photographs of the Prickly Pear cacti on #16 while the others were putting. I saw some Golden Poppies close to the cart path but we were going way too fast to get a shot. You really can’t stop and dawdle when you’re golfing.

Aren’t these little puppies cute?

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The flowers should be in full bloom next week.

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I went to the doc, hoping it’s not a torn rotator cuff. I have yet to know the results of the X-rays, but Doc seems to think it’s most likely tendonitis and he prescribed a strong anti-inflammatory drug. I have PT next week. I sure hope it works because we are having Cheryl and Alan from Los Angeles next week and it’s all about golf. Right now the jury is still out on whether I’ll be able to play, but I think so. It is feeling a little better every day. The doctor, who specializes in sports medicine, says he gets it. His mother was a die-hard golf nut and club champion, so he totally understood when I said I had a big-deal golf team-tournament next week. Okay, so I embellished a little—it’s not really a team tournament or even that big of a deal, but I still want to play.

Rain was in the forecast, which would have worked out nicely for a postponement, but now it looks clear. Clear and cool, which is just how I like it.

Friday, March 18

Poppies

I have begun work on Golden Poppies. But I am seriously low on greens and blues for the background, so I ordered some fat quarter bundles and I am awaiting their arrival before I continue. I ordered from Hancock’s of Paducah so I know it will be a while. I have other sites that I get faster delivery from, but I wanted bundles to build my stash back up. The closest quilt store is over 50 miles away, can you believe it?

The poppies don’t look like much against the white background, but when I lay down some dark blues and greens they should pop. And the quilting will help as well.

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I have been playing golf as usual, and the California Poppies are just beginning to sprout in the chaparral. They are seriously a lot more vibrant orange than my poppies. Oh well. Orange thread should ameliorate that problem. It is what it is. In another week or two the prickly pear cactus should be in bloom—the blossoms that will become pears are just now budding. I’ll get pictures.

Around here, the bougainvillea is goin’ to town. I just love this magnificent bush. It’s not only beautiful, it provides privacy and blocks the streetlight below our bedroom. And it knocks me out every morning when I open the doors.
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Everything is waking up on our terrace. The photo hardly captures the vibrant colors of the succulents. We had a good storm recently, which knocked off a bunch of the red bracts from these bougainvillea. The flower is a tiny 1/4” white flower. You can see them in the above photo if you look real close.

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Here is the definitive on the house—they sent an independent soil engineer out to look at our houses and he says the soil our house sits on, which is clay and expansive (it’s quite infamous in these parts), and when it got wet it expanded around the perimeter of the house, creating a “bowl” effect, which is why only the interior, non-load-bearing walls are affected. Makes sense. Houses in California are very flexible because of earthquakes, so settling cracks are the norm. Although these are not true settling cracks, the idea is the same. They are going to watch it for a while (i.e. bide their  time) to see what it does through the wet winter, which so far has not been very wet, and then they’ll fix it. I have to say, nothing has gotten worse, in fact the biggest crack seems to have closed a tiny bit—but that could be my imagination, no way to tell. They don’t have to lift up the whole foundation or anything, just re-attach the walls and ceiling and move the baseboards. One day of work. We were thinking we’d have to move out. Nope.

Here’s today’s golf picture. This is the Greg Norman course at PGA West (La Quinta) where we used to live. I forget which hole this is, 15 maybe. So beautiful. Speaking of golf, my game is okay, this week was not as good as last, but I have a little shoulder problem I can blame. Not rotator cuff, but “Frozen Shoulder.” Who knew…it’s age-related…but they say to move it and stretch it a lot, and golf actually makes it feel better, so there you go. It does limit my range of motion to an extent, but just on the front nine. By the time I hit #10, it’s all loosened up.

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