Tuesday, June 28, 2016

So hot

The past couple of days have been pretty low energy and I think it's because it has been over 100 here in Northern California.  It's supposed to stay that way for the next few days and then stay in the upper 90's.  I try to get out early in the morning to do some work around the house, but by 10am it's too hot to do much and I retreat into the house to work on quilting or sewing.

Today I've decided I need to get back to work cleaning out the kitchen.  Yesterday I took a whole bunch of towels that I had purchased to do some embroidery on, but then decided it was a project I didn't have time for right now.  Instead of storing the towels for 6 months or more, I would donate them to our local homeless shelter.  They could use the towels now and in 6 months if I want to make some hooded towels as gifts, I can go out and buy some more.  Then, I will buy what I need, not the entire store worth, just because they are on sale.

I also took a lot of fleece blankets to the shelter.  I know, it's 100 degrees outside now, but at night everyone needs a blanket to sleep with.  They were happy to have them and I was happy to get them all out of the house and car.  The new homeless shelter is so beautiful and so big.  I read online they have 9 families living there right now (it's a women/children shelter) and have recently graduated several families out to permanent housing and jobs.  It is a very successful shelter and is supported by the thrift store I donate all of my excess 'stuff' to.  They have actually expanded the thrift store to two locations, one for furniture and household items and one for clothing.  They get so many donations that some days they have to shut down their receiving early so they can sort and put away all that they get.

I love shopping there first for furniture and clothes I need because I know I will get a great deal and know that the money I spend will support a good cause.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

memory quilt

 This is a memory quilt for a former student whose mother committed suicide last summer.  Memory quilts are hard to make, not because they are difficult skill wise, but because I'm always afraid that the recipient won't like the finished product.  I've never had anyone say they don't like their finished quilt, so I don't know why I worry, but it takes me forever to plan out what I am going to do with the pieces of clothing that are given to me.  This time I was only given three t shirts and some fabric.
The student's favorite color is purple, so I made a bunch of purple hearts.  The red fabric and the black fabric with the egyptian dogs was part of the gifted fabric.  The backing was also gifted-a dress and some more fabric.  The three t shirts are there, plus two pieces from the backs which I joined together to make the fourth panel.  There is a graduation party this afternoon so I had a deadline for the quilt.  I had planned to start it last week and then every day I couldn't figure out what I wanted to do for the quilt.  Thursday rolled around and I finally cut the t shirts.  I sewed the hearts on Friday and Saturday and then Saturday I finished the top and quilted it and this morning put the binding on and made the label.

I had this student 3 of her 4 years at my high school, 2 as a student in class and one as a Teaching Assistant and we spent a lot of time talking about things that were going on in her family.  She's almost like another adopted daughter so I feel blessed to be able to do this for her.  She didn't have a mom growing up because he mom left the family when she was really little and she finally reached out when this student was in high school, which was good, but hard and then to lose her again was really rough.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Quilts for Canada change of plans

Here's a letter I sent out to my Binky Patrol chapter today.  I've been having some trouble coordinating with the Quilts for Canada people and there is a really big fire here in California that started yesterday.  I was thinking that instead of working so hard to get quilts out of the country, it might be better to keep them local.  I'm hoping that nobody objects so the quilts will bring comfort to those who have lost so much.

I hope your summer is going well and you have found some time for quilting.  As you know, we have been working on quilts to send to the people who have lost homes in the Fort McMurray area of Canada and our goal was to send them off by July 15.  I think we have about 100 quilts either finished or almost finished.  I was hoping to get FedEx to ship the quilts for us, like they did with the Quilts for Japan in 2011 when we collected 1144.

There have been a couple of snags along the way.  First, the people who are collecting the quilts have been having to pay a tariff on all of the quilts coming in from the US, which has added up to a lot of money for them.  Second, in order for us to ship through FedEx for free, we need a non profit on the receiving end to accept the quilts.  I've asked three times and been told they would have an address and tax ID number for me by the next day (all three times) and I still haven't received the information so I could start the mailing process.  Perhaps the thought of having to pay more for quilts from the US is causing the stall, or perhaps they are just overwhelmed with the number of donations they have already received, I'm not quite sure.

I wanted to ask if anyone had a problem with changing out plans to send the quilts we've collected already to those who have lost homes in the Kern County fire that started yesterday?  It is a quickly moving fire that has already burned more than 80 homes and killed 2 people.  It's near Lake Isabella.

Carla has volunteered to deliver the quilts for us when she takes her daughter down for a college visit to San Diego in July, so I know the quilts will make it to their destination and will bring comfort to fire victims.

Let me know if you think this is OK and I hope you will continue to support our efforts.  If you hear of someone in need of the comfort of a quilt, please let me know via email or with a phone call.  I always keep a couple of quilts on hand.

Thanks for all you do for the kids in crisis.

Marilyn Lewis
Vacaville Binky Patrol Area Coordinator

Thursday, June 23, 2016

today's adventure-a new water heater

 So, after getting the estimate on all of the repairs for the house, I called the plumber who installed the garbage disposal and had him come out to give us an estimate on the water heater.  He estimated about $600 less than the contractor, so we went ahead and had him do the work today.  He showed up at 9am this morning (appointment was at 10) and I was out running errands.  I had left the garage door open so he could get in and by the time I got home, he had the estimate ready to go.  After I gave the go ahead, he went off to get the heater and worked from about 10-2 installing the water heater.
 We got a new 50 gallon, which was the same size as our old one.  It isn't the most energy efficient (I think it is $238 a year and the old one was $158) but hopefully this one will last as long as the old one.  The house was build in 1992 and the water heater was installed when the house was built.  Not bad for something that gets used every day.  I plan to actually drain this one every year like you are supposed to and maybe prolong the life of it.  But, who knows, maybe by not draining the old one, it helped it survive for so long. :)
I still have to go scrub the mold form around the base.  It didn't rot out the wood so the base didn't need to be replaced, but the mold looks ugly.  I got some rubber gloves and some SOS pads and will use bleach on it and hopefully it won't take too much elbow grease to get it looking better.  This one has a drain pan underneath, so in another 25 years when it starts to leak, I will notice it before it spills onto the floor.

Another project tackled.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

What doesn't kill you...

So, I'm still working on cleaning and getting rid of stuff.  Today, the old fridge and freezer that haven't worked for years are going to the curb for pick up tomorrow.  Yesterday a bunch of ewaste got dropped off at Goodwill.  Who knew they took ewaste?  I don't take things to Goodwill because the workers at the donation place aren't as friendly or helpful as the ones at the Opportunity House Thrift store.  That store supports our local homeless shelter and they come out and unload your car or truck for you, then, you drive up and they give you an itemized receipt.  Yesterday at Goodwill, the old guy comes out to the truck and says he will bring me a cart so I can unload.  He brings the cart to the sidewalk about 15 feet away, then stands there as I unload all 10 heavy things form the truck myself.  Then, he doesn't move the cart, he just takes the things off the cart and puts them inside the building.  It was the weirdest thing ever.  I could have moved them the extra 2 feet into the building for him, but maybe someone was watching him inside the building?  Then, while I was unloading a guy came up and asked if he was taking furniture that day.  He asked a whole bunch of questions about the furniture, like is it stained, ripped, new, perfect?  We only want it if it is perfect so we can make a lot of money off it.  I almost told the guy to take his furniture to the other thrift store.
Part of my cleaning involved taking in my younger daughter's trophies and having the name plates removed and put on one plaque.  I had this done last year and it has been sitting all year waiting for me to decide what to put on the top.  I had the hardest time figuring out what to put on top and finally decided on just her name.  I love the plaque so much more than all of the trophies from soccer, tennis and showing guinea pigs.  It takes up so much less space and I'm more likely to hang it on the wall than display all of her trophies.  Now to do this with my older daughter's trophies.  She has at least 3 times as many.  Neither daughter wants their trophies or the plaque (at least for now) so this is more for me and Im happy with how it came out so that's all that really matters.
 Today I took a break from cleaning and went with my 'adopted' daughter to IKEA.  I've never been before and it was an interesting experience.  She says she's an expert and thought we could get in and out in 1 1/2 hours.  3 1/2 hours later we barely escaped with our lives.  She just bought a new house and had to get a lot of furniture.  I'm more of a thrift store shopper so when she's going around getting a table and desk and kitchen cabinets and file cabinets and spending top dollar and then knowing she has to still assemble them when she gets home, I was not thinking that was much fun, but she was really enjoying herself.  I guess it takes all kinds of people to make this world go round.

I did see a really nice wall cubby
organizer thing for $200 that would make my sewing room look nicer and help organize my fabric better, but after getting the estimate on all of the repairs I'm glad I didn't get it.

All total, the estimate was $7000.  I called a plumber to give us a second opinion on the water heater (the first guy wanted $2100) and he said it would be between $1200 and $1500 so I think we will go with the plumber who is coming out tomorrow to take a look and if so, he will fix it tomorrow.  We will probably have to do the painting ourselves, which hopefully will save another $1000.  The contractor bundled a lot of the jobs into one price, so I'm not sure how much each thing would cost.

Monday, June 20, 2016

ew, gross

When the plumber was out to fix the garbage disposal, he gave me a coupon for $100 off a new water heater.  I knew out water heater was coming upon its last days because it is as old as the house, which was built in 1993.  He said not to replace it until it starts to leak.  Today when I was cleaning out the garage, I got enough stuff moved from in front of the water heater to see that sure enough, it is leaking and has been for quite some time.  There's some pretty mold growing around the base of the heater.

I had a handyman coming to look at some other repair jobs and while he was here, I had him look at this and he says it needs replacing.

The other things are the front door, which opens if you lift the handle up, but not down-he says it wasn't installed correctly, the sliding glass door, which only slides if you are HULK with super human strength, the drywall in the ceiling from an old ceiling leak, some more drywall replaced in the garage-both from a roof leak and from critters-either rats or squirrels eating their way into the walls and the garage door, which won't open because those same critters ate their way into the wires of the opener.

We also need a few of the smoke detectors replaced since they are falling apart.  We have some new ones, but the ones that are hardwired into the house have seen better days.

I guess I had better start doing research into water heaters now!

Little things add up

Today a handyman comes to give us a quote for fixing some things around here...the sliding glass door that doesn't slide anymore, the drywall that has stains from the roof leak that was there when we moved in 11 years ago.  We finally got the roof fixed about 3-4 years ago, but never did get the drywall fixed.  The front door handle that I tried to fix and which works if you lift up, but not down (I think it's supposed to work both ways!), the faucet in the backyard that leaks.  All of these little things that will get caught in a home inspection.  There is still such a long way to go!

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Taking care

 Last night after the yard guys left, I took a walk around the backyard and really looked at how nice of a yard I have.  I have been so blessed with this huge yard and house and it really hit me how I am not taking care of the things I have.  I started to feel really guilty for taking all of the 'stuff' I have for granted.  I make excuses for why I don't care for the things I have as I go out to get more and more and more.
 I'm really glad for the whole adoption process and making me really take a look at every single item I own.  I'm going through every drawer and closet and cupboard in the house and giving away or throwing away about half of what is in there.  I've been collecting things for so long and holding onto stuff I haven't used in 30 years that it was so much easier not to have to make the decision to get rid of something.  The bridesmaid dress I wore to my sister's wedding didn't take up that much space in the front closet, but why did I hold onto it for 29 years?  Did I really think I was ever going to wear it again?  Did I really think my girls would want to wear a dress from the 80's?  I'm sure if I go to the thrift store a year from now, it will still be there if I really need it back.
While yesterday's great yard cleanup was encouraging because the yard went from total disaster to fabulous in 4 hours, the inside of the house is a much slower process.  I watch the home improvement shows and in 30 minutes they can transform a house like my backyard.  The reality is every day I go through a couple of drawers and cupboards.  I clean off a few shelves in the fridge.  I sort through piles that have been sitting for months or years and slowly, if I am able to keep at it, the house will become more empty and more functional and more welcoming to guests.  I am slowly cleaning up the sewing room by quilting every day too.  I have lots of quilt tops to work through and every day the pile is getting a little smaller.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

the yard-after 4 hours of work by 5 people

 We have a really nice yard.  It was just hidden under all of those weeds!  It took a team of 5 people almost 4 hours to find it.  They worked really hard.  I can only imagine how long this would have taken me.
 Probably forever since I tend to lose focus after about 15 minutes on any given task.  I thought they were done after about 2 hours and it was looking really good and they kept finding more things to clean out.  They kept hauling out can after can of grass clippings and tree branches and piles of weeds.  They even dug up a dead tree when I hadn't asked them to.  They left these grapevines because they are loaded with grapes.
 The dogs aren't sure what to do with themselves.  They kept barking at the workers, but are so excited to have room to run and sniff.
 See, I told you there was a trampoline behind all of that tall grass.  Now, hopefully with some daily watering, the grass will start to green up.  I hired the guy to come back every two weeks to mow and edge, so again, hopefully there will be something for him to mow in two weeks when he comes back.  He fixed the sprinklers too.  There was a wire that had come out and he was able to figure out which one and replace it.
 This is the fig tree and the birds were happy that I left it for them.
 This is what the figs look like until they finally fall off.  Anybody have any idea what kind they are and why they don't change color or seem to get ripe?  Maybe they need more water?
There are more grapevines along the tennis court fence that will get trimmed once they are harvested.  They are fully loaded again this year.  I'm so excited to have my backyard back again and to have the help with the chores I hate.  Now I can focus on the front yard and maybe with a smaller area to work on, I will be able to keep up.

The yard again-entropy

October 2012 we had a new backyard put in.

Feb 2015 I had a guy come in and clean out the overgrown weeds and now look at it.

I guess a yard requires maintenance!   Just like anything else in life, if you let it go, it isn't going to get better, things will start to decay and revert back to their natural state, especially when you live next to an open field where this is what nature looks like.
 I do have a couple of excuses for letting it get this bad.  First, we have been in a drought for 4 years in California, so we weren't supposed to water anything.  The beautiful lawn I had put in started to die from lack of water, then when I did try to water, the sprinklers broke.  I had a guy come out and fix them, but they broke again.
 This winter we had quite a bit of rain and whenever I had the time to mow, it was either raining or too wet to mow.  By the time it dried out, my mower had died.  I tried getting it fixed, but when I took it in to school to have the students in the auto shop work on it, they made it worse.  That's what I get for being cheap.
 So, I bought a new lawnmower, but every time I tried to mow, it would die because it's a lawnmower, not a jungle eater!  Poor thing just couldn't handle the tall grass.  I have a weed eater, but again, it's for domestic use, not industrial, 4 foot tall grass and every time I try to use it, the string breaks and I just give up.  I'm more of a no collar worker who isn't very good at sticking with a project very long if I don't see success.
 The ground squirrels really do love the habitat back here.  Behind this tall grass is a trampoline.  Can you see it?  Neither can I.
 I was so excited about this volunteer fig tree.  It has lots of figs, but then never turn color.  They stay green and then get mushy and fall off.  I don't know if that's a special kind of fig or what, but the birds like them.  I've tried picking and eating them and they have no flavor and are pretty icky.  I was hoping that maybe after a couple of years when the tree got bigger, the figs would figure out they were supposed to ripen, instead of just getting gross, but so far no luck.  I will give it another year before tearing it out.  It does provide nice shade for my sewing room window and the birds make great company while sewing, so there is that benefit.
 This little mandarin orange tree has had a lot of fruit the last couple of years.  I expected it to get about 20 feet tall, but it has been here for 10 years and this is it.  I guess it is really a super dwarf tree and this is all the taller it is going to get.  The suckers on it are taller than the actual tree, so those need to go.
And this is the view of our neighbors.  Can you see the cow way out in the distance.  They come up pretty close to the drainage canal on the other side of the gravel road.  It's an access road for the water treatment plant and a nice walking path when I have the motivation to get out and exercise.  This is where all the weeds come from and where the ground squirrels are supposed to live.  Maybe I should put up a sign.

I think I might need to hire year round landscapers to help me deal with the yard.  I have these grand illusions that I can do it all by myself and then the yard looks like this again.

Stay tuned for the 'after' pictures this afternoon.  I always enjoy watching other people do work.  At least it isn't too hot yet.  It's supposed to be over 100 early next week.