Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Frustrating Attempts to Craft But Victory in the End...Maybe

Okay so yesterday, I announced that I was making Dew Drop Shawls for the female members of my family.

I priced the loom used in the video. Yowser! It is expensive! $46 without the shipping added. For me these days, anything over $20 is expensive. Especially for a want. Granted this isn't a one time use thing. It allows me to stretch the possibilities of things I can still do. It's crafty and creative. But I still have to buy the yarn I have in mind to make the blasted shawls too. I couldn't justify the cost in my mind.

So I reverted to my favorite pass times once again- Google search and youtube for a cheaper alternative. I could build my own for less than $20. Now I really don't have any confidence in my skills with power tools like saws yet, but my local Home Depot could take care of that. A hammer and nails I think I can do, but keep in mind my work bench is inaccessible in my garage with half my tools.

My BIGGEST mistake...thinking!

So I come home with my prize, 3/4 inch square dowels cut to 24 inches and 3 inches for two side pieces, enough wire brads to do the job, and some Gorilla glue to make sure the nails didn't move. All I spent was $17. I thought, Cool! And, they wanted $46 for this. Sanding it all smooth as a baby's behind was a piece of cake. I braced the pieces between my belly and the edge of my desk and used a very fine sponge sanding block. I made the block with stuff I had on hand by taping 220 grit sand paper around a kitchen sponge.

According to the instructions, I had to measure down the middle (roughly) of each dowel and draw a line. Simple, right? WRONG!

 Hurdle #1- Have you ever tried to draw a straight line with a ruler on a raised surface one handed? The ruler moves, the block moves, and the line is waving like a ship being tossed in a hurricane.
The Fix- Used the other dowel to support the ruler and put thumb tacks to hold it in place. Now I make no bones about doing anything with my nondominant left hand. I suck at using a pencil with it. The line is fairly straight after three attempts. I only have to do this three more times on the other pieces to the loom.

Next, according to the instructions, is marking the nail holes along the length. I knew the spacing on the All-in-One loom so this was a no brainer. I took my double pointed compass out and marked along the line in purple ink. Why purple ink? Because I can. There was no way I was going to take a ruler and figure out what marks went there 3/8th of an inch along a 24 inch length. I knew my brain couldn't hack it. I left enough space along the long pieces to account for the joining cross pieces. Huzzah! The brain remembered!

Hurdle #2- Holding the dowel in place while I traveled the compass down the length.
The Fix- Brace it against my keyboard and put my paralyzed arm against it.

Now all I needed was a hammer to nail the brads in place deciding that I would first do this before gluing and screwing the frame together. I also decided not to pre-drill the nail holes. The nails only had to go in 3/4 of an inch. There I go thinking again.

I've got FOUR hammers of varying weights, sizes, and uses. But could I find just one? NOOO! Ah! There they are! On my work bench as they should be. There is only five feet of boxes and sacks in between them and me. No way I'm going to be able to move them out of the way by myself to get one from my work bench on my own. And, climbing Mt. Everest is not my list of fun things or accomplishments for this year or ever. The attempt is not worth the risks. Thank you, daughters #2 & #4 and a smattering of grandchildren for leaving me this mess. Off to my local thrift store to buy another hammer. Success! I can hammer nails now.

The results.
Being a smidgen off in the long line makes a difference. By not pre-drilling the holes, the nails went in crooked. The only good thing about this is...I learned my lesson and tried it. It's back to the drawing board for me. At least, I tried to nail the nails on the short piece first.

I'm going to have my beloved draw some straight lines for me when he wakes up. Luckily this is a square dowel so there are four sides to draw on. I'll remark my nail hole, and pre-drill the nail holes.

I'll make a handy dandy depth gauge like the instruction show out of 1/4 inch washers taped together. That way I'm sure to get the nail 3/4" across the board evenly plus it's a bigger nailing surface to hit. I've got at least forty of them in an easy accessible spot thank to my scavenging husband. He's one of the few men I know that will thoroughly take apart something broken and scavenge all the nuts, screws, and anything else that might be useful one day. It drove me batty, but now I'm thankful.

Now where is my drill or my Dremel tool so I can pre-drill my nail holes? Oh, that's right! They are on my work bench. ARGH! I'll be back with a picture of the finished project, but it may be a while.

Nothing is impossible with determination.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Obesity Revisited~ Learning a Few New Tricks

So yesterday I mentioned nibbling as a method of staying awake. I've found another way and this one has no calories.

I'm a creative person and a crafter from earliest memory.  I can remember sitting beside my grandmother at a quilting frame when I was old enough to stitch. Crocheting lace with cotton thread with my mother at seven years old. I first crocheted with yarn at nineteen. Also having my own embroidery hoop and floss collection at eight. Bamboo knitting needles and the like. At other times it was crafting with paper and scissors in cut work or origami. Getting my own easel and oils set up at twelve. I've crafted letters and words since I was ten years old so I became a freelance writer as an adult and author. Yes I love all aspects of crafting. I've really missed it since my stroke. Crafting is my way of relaxing like boating, hunting or wood working is to others.

I've been struggling to get my crafting abilities back since my stroke. I'm still mentally working on a way to spin fiber into yarn one handed. I presently cannot get into the garage to get to the work bench with all the tools to actual experiment building the attachment I have in my mind. This will be remedied with a yard sale now that the weather is nice.

I've struggled with knitting without two hands. The needle under the armpit method made it impossible to make small things because the needles had to be sturdy. The same thing with a needle between my knees. The cramping of muscles. The awkward positions I had to sit in to have access. Made it impossible for me to do it for long periods of time (over a hour) without having to put it down.

"Oh no! She's been watching youtube again!"Yep! I found an answer there...loom knitting. I've been at it for a month now and having a blast! I've made slippers, hats, and socks galore. For Easter, I made each of my eight grandchildren a bunny. At the back is a pompom tail and a gather stitch tied off with a bow. I placed a large plastic Easter egg inside stuffed with Jelly Beans. I enclosed some fiberfill and a yarn needle with matching yarn to take the place of the egg after the candy was eaten. I made them out of two skeins of Red Heart Light & Lofty yarn so they are fuzzy and cuddly. I think they turned out too cute and I'm proud of myself for the accomplishment. I couldn't have bought gifts for the $10 I spent for yarn and $5 for the loom.

My husband scoffed at the idea of giving our oldest grandson (16) a stuffed bunny rabbit. "That's not a guy gift! Get him something like an X-Box game or something! Geez, woman."
I loved watching him chew up his words and swallow them. Our grandson picked up his bunny and cuddled it. Then he entertained us all by making the bunny hop and talk. He twisted the head this way and that to make it more animated. Now honestly, the bunny probably went home and into a box, but he was entertaining to watch while he was with us.

Now I'm setting my sights on Christmas.I found a how-to pattern on (you guessed it) youtube for an elegant shawl for the female members of the family.  In our family gifts are usually handmade with love. Needless to say, for the past two years our gifts have been commercial. There is something less satisfying about gift giving that is commercially bought.

So this week I'll be busy scouring the internet for the right metallic silk blend yarns to make these shawls. I've only got eighteen to make by Christmas. AND not to be one sided about it, all the guys will get hats and scarves. The grands will once again get grandma knitted sweaters and other goodies. No they won't have a giant letter for their name like Mrs. Weasley did in the Harry Potter books. These are sweaters they will actually want to wear.

Yes, I'll be busy but happily so.

Nothing is impossible with determination.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Oops! I won

One of the blogs I follow, thanks to the Blog Blitz, is lilicasplace. I started reading her not too long after her stroke. We have quite a bit in common. We are both survivors. We are both writers. We both have emergency medicine backgrounds. Many friendships have less in common. Lilica and I started emailing back and forth since then.

I read where she gave an award to Deanne Humphry-Dunne on the 13th and skimmed the rest. What I missed in reading was Deanne gave her the Butterfly Light award. The oops comes into play when she told me she awarding me also. I went back and reread the blog and sure enough she did. Wow, what an honor. The award was originally created by Belinda. I'm sooo confused! :)

Da Rulz-
Here are the conditions for accepting the award :
1. You must write an acceptance post, making sure you link back to the blogger who awarded you and thank them. You MAY NOT lump this award in with a batch of other awards.
2. You must individually name and re-award to a minimum of 1 blogger. You must let them know either personally with a comment on their blog OR a pingback.
4. You must write a short paragraph entitled either “How I’m Spreading Light” OR “How I’m A Positive Influence”
5. Display Belinda’s lovely “Butterfly Light Award” badge on your blog.
How I'm a Positive Influence
I always lead by example and encourage others to do the same. I use myself as an example for both successes and failures. Failures are only temporary setbacks. It is easier to maintain a positive attitude than a negative one. That's not to say that I haven't had my share of time on the self pity pot because I have and will, but time spent on it is measured by a clock. Smiling creates less wrinkles than frowning. A good reminder when you aren't even a fall hen like I am. I focus on the blessings instead of the turmoils and tell it like it is. It's not always pretty but there is a lesson and an upbeat to all things if you just look for it. A step forward even if it is a baby step is forward progress. Just as others are cheerleaders for me, I'm am a cheerleader for others.
Who am I tagging?
My biggest cheerleader...Zan Marie Steadham of In the Shade of the Cherry Tree.

Sunday Stroke Survival ~ My Big, Fat Body

I wish I was in this shape instead of larger!
No it's not a personal image thing. It's the truth. When you have to say that round is a shape, you know you are obese. I have a gut that I can use as a table. No that's not boasting. I'm saying it with shame.

I recently went to the cardiologist. She looked at the stats and told me I'd gained weight. Five more pounds was added to my bulk and I now weigh more than before my stroke. I'm obese (bordering on morbidly obese) and I know it. Chock up another item that keeps me in the high risk range for candidacy for another stroke or heart attack. Genetically indisposed for high cholesterol no matter how much medicine I'm on. Married with a strong family history for weight relate medical problems.

I hear ya, "But Jo, you can change your weight problem." Yes I can to a point. The extenuating circumstances hold me back. The pressure sores on my foot is a biggie. I'm under doctor's orders to stay off it as much as possible. It's a case of damned if you do and damned if you don't. If it were on the toe part of my foot, I could focus the main weight bearing towards the heel as I walked and vice versa  for the heel. But no, it happens to be on the outside edge of my instep. There's no way of not putting pressure on that.

Prior to the pressure sores, I was walking half a mile a day and losing weight. I had lost thirty pounds of unneeded bulk with a minimum of twenty more to lose. But since May of last year, I put all of that back on and then some. Talk about frustrating! Combined with the muscle relaxers for my spasticity and my hubby in hospice, I find that I'm nibbling more not because I'm hungry but to stay awake. The fatigue I feel all the time and medication are a double unchangeable sword. While I may nap and catch forty winks during the day and early evening, it's not a restorative sleep, but from exhaustion. I'm staying awake the only way I know how.

Couple that with a prior eating disorder of equating comfort with food and I've got some major problems! I guess I'm just making excuses, right? I could pick the right kind of foods to nibble like carrots or celery. I actually do this quite frequently. But calories are calories. Intake without burning them off in some way is an imbalanced equation...thus the added weight. Added to all the stressors in my life, it's definitely a no win scenario. Mentally, I know these are just excuses, but stopping is more trouble than it benefits right now.

Yes, added weight or obesity and smoking are changing risk factors, but for now correcting them is  on hold until I can do more about them. Am I on the verge of another heart attack or stroke? You betcha. Is there anything I can sanely do about them? Nope! Things I can't do anything about take a backseat to those things I can do. I'm taking it one day at a time on good days and one second at a time one bad days.

Yes, in an ideal world, I'd not smoke and be the perfect weight according to the charts. BUT this is not the idealistic world of Fantasy Island. This is the real world with all the joys and heartaches that a body can stand.  I don't sweat the small stuff. There are very few big stuffs around so long as my husband is breathing. Once he stops permanently, then it's all small stuff again. If he starts breathing again, it's still small stuff after he does. BUT the moments in between are killer.

I do what I do to survive in this moment. To handle this or that task in hand.  The past is the past and the future will unfold in spite of what is happening today. For today, I'm fat and sassy. I have a great sense of humor in spite of the world's roller coaster. Tomorrow's problems because of today's actions will be dealt with in time as will all things. Yes, I'd like to lose eighty pounds, but for today I choose to be happy and semi-sane.

Nothing is impossible with determination.

LOL These Came Across my Desktop Today

A friend emailed these jokes to me today and I had to share. The sad thing is I can relate to each and every one. Happy Easter, y'all!

Your sweetie says, 'Let's go upstairs
and make love,' and you answer,
'Pick one; I can't do both!'

Your friends compliment you on your new alligator shoes and
you're barefoot.

A sexy babe catches your fancy and your pacemaker opens the
garage door,

Going braless pulls all the wrinkles out of your face.

You don't care where your spouse goes,
just as long as you don't have to go along.

You are cautioned to slow down by the doctor
instead of by the police.

'Getting a little action' means you don't need
to take any fiber today.

'Getting lucky' means you find your car in the
parking lot.

An 'all nighter' means not getting up to use the


You're not sure if these are jokes.

Lawyers should never ask a Georgia grandma a question if they aren't prepared for the answer.

In a trial, a Southern small-town prosecuting attorney called his first witness, a grandmotherly, elderly woman to the stand. He approached her and asked, 'Mrs. Jones, do you know me?' She responded, 'Why, yes, I do know you, Mr. Williams. I've known you since you were a boy, and frankly, you've been a big disappointment to me. You lie, you cheat on your wife, and you manipulate people and talk about them behind their backs. You
think you're a big shot when you haven't the brains to realize you'll never amount to anything more than a two-bit paper pusher. Yes, I know you.'

The lawyer was stunned. Not knowing what else to do, he pointed across the room and asked, 'Mrs. Jones, do you know the defense attorney?'

She again replied, 'Why yes, I do. I've known Mr. Bradley since he was a youngster, too. He's lazy, bigoted, and he has a drinking problem. He can't build a normal relationship with anyone, and his law practice is one of the worst in the entire state. Not to mention he cheated on his wife with three different women. One of them was your wife. Yes, I know him.'

The defense attorney nearly died.

The judge asked both counselors to approach the bench and, in a very quiet voice, said, 'If either of you idiots asks her if she knows me, I'll send you both to the electric chair!