Saturday, January 31, 2015

at least I have a new black box

So, it still doesn't work, but at least I have a new black box.

Looks like I will be calling the guy from Yuba City to come down after all.  But not today.  Today I'm sitting on the couch, feeling sorry for myself because of a terrible migraine that has lasted 8 days.  I haven't had one of these for a long time, so there's that to be thankful for.

I've tried just about everything I can think of and it seems to only make it worse.  Even the nap.

Good thing I don't have any deadlines that have to be met.

today may be the day

After waiting 6 weeks to quilt something, today may be the day I'm finally back in business.  Fingers crossed.

I've ordered three different sets of encoder wires and they all did the same thing.  The machine would follow the design, but only stitch every once in a while.  Not so helpful when you want to quilt a quilt.

About 3 months ago, the place where the black wire plugged into the big, black box that runs the whole quilting machine on the track, the drive box, came undone.  Inside the black box, the place where the black wire plugs in broke off.  I was able to plug it back in and tape it back in place.  It seemed to be working fine, but would come untaped because the wire was heavy and every time the machine moved from side to side, the wire would wiggle and pull and sometimes get caught on the batting under the machine.

After getting some advice from 'people who know about such things' I was advised to replace or repair that part in the black box.  Well, the drive box costs $4000 new and $2500 refurbished.  The only problem is, the machine is 6 years old and they don't sell them new anymore.  Nobody around here fixes things, the local sewing machine repair guy fixes the working parts of the machine, not the computer parts and my son knows how to program a computer, not fix the actual computer that gets broken.

So, I'm hoping that the part that I bought online for $250 will actually work.  The lady I got it from owns a sewing machine shop and says this is an older model but should still work for me.

If this doesn't work, I have one last option.  There is a guy in Yuba City who will do house calls and who will work on the machine in your home.  I'd like to keep that ace in my pocket just in case because that might require taking a day off work.  Although my students would probably appreciate a day away from me right now.  This week I haven't been too patient with them.  Having a week long migraine starts to wear on you.  And then not being able to come home and do fun things doesn't make it any better.

We are working on some new curriculum at school and the girl who comes in to help me with grading has been working on setting up everything for our department for the past two weeks.  That means I've been bringing home all of my work and grading for about 2 hours every night.  I'm ready for things to start working, for this headache to go away and for things to calm down at school.

Or maybe I'll trade in the quilting machine for a motorcycle!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Migraine clusters

My migraines have been pretty good lately.  I seem to have figured out a preventative dosage of Nortriptyline (20 mg twice a day), Topamax (100 mg twice a day), magnesium (400 mg twice a day) and B2 (400 mg once a day) that is keeping the migraines to only 2-3 times a week.  When they do come, they are fairly mild.  This week however, I've had them every day since Friday.  That's 5 days in a row and they are getting worse every day.  Today was terrible.  Sometimes, walking helps, but I walked Saturday for 4 miles, Sunday for 2 and Monday and today for about a mile each and nothing seems to make things better.  Usually keeping busy or sewing is enough to distract me and keep my mind off of wanting to bash my head into the wall, but again, as the day went on, that wall looked more and more like a good idea.

Perhaps it was the 'intruder on campus' drill we had today.  The old 'fire drill' is fading out and now we have to shake things up with new and improved ways to get kids riled up and excited.  Let's pretend there is a bad guy on campus who wants to shoot everyone during a passing period.  How fun would that be?  So, they announced it during a passing period and had all the kids run into an open classroom and hide.  Great for the kids who were in my classroom, but I had some random kids I didn't know that were headed to their classes.  I shut my door and there were kids banging on the door to get in.  Since my door doesn't have a window, I didn't know if it was the fake intruder or one of the students who just didn't make it on time and we were instructed not to open the doors for anyone.  Poor kids were left outside to fend for themselves.  The monitors had to round those kids up and shelter them in the bathrooms.

Like I said, 'let's get the kids all riled up' and then expect to teach them the rest of the day.

For those of you out there who have a regular job and can go to the bathroom whenever you want, take a minute and just think about how lucky you are.  Sometimes part of my migraine problem is I don't drink enough water.  My doctor yells at me because of that.  But imagine yourself trapped in a room for 3 hours not being able to use the restroom and really having to go and having to give a speech for 3 hours and pretend like you don't have to go!

Or, worse, knowing you have sick days, but choosing instead to go in to work because taking a day off is actually much more work than working when you are sick.

Luckily I have great students that will do pretty much anything I need them to do.  I never tell them I'm not feeling well, but if I need a day of not doing too much, I can give them a worksheet and they will happily answer book questions since I don't normally do that.  Most of the time when they do bookwork, it's homework so they are actually happy to get to do that for classwork.  They are weird and think it's a treat to do bookwork, weird kids :)

Oh, and another weird thing, we have 3 cases of chicken pox at my school.  The first one was in my class and the kid had been vaccinated and had a booster shot before 7th grade.  Not normal for him to get the disease after being vaccinated.  The second case, the student actually had the pox when he was little and now got it again.  Not sure on the 3rd student, but they finally notified parents today.  The boys are all on the basketball team so I know how it's spreading.  We have a lot of kids out with a terrible flu as well.  Having 3-4 kids out in every class makes it really hard to keep everyone up to speed and there are lots of kids coming in at lunch to make things up.  No breaks during the day makes for a really long day.

How many days until summer?  That's why we have so many breaks during the school year.  To break the cycle of illness and to give teachers a chance to go to the bathroom.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

more sewing today

I had a helper today and we made lots of progress.  One more Christmas quilt top, this one bigger than the last two, but just as nice.  There are still more squares left.  Enough for one more quilt top I believe, but not enough for the same.  I've run out of enough to make more 9 patches.

Parenting can be exhausting

Raising kids is hard work.

Thanks mom and dad for not giving up on me and expecting the best in me all the time.

My youngest is having a rough time right now.  He decided that he really didn't want to study for a test and got a bad grade on it.  Then, lied about it, saying the teacher didn't teach him the information about it.  It was a science test.  I'm a science teacher.  Dude.  Really?

A series of bad choices has now led to a work day.  My living room has never been so clean.  He's my new best friend, going everywhere I go and doing everything I'm doing.  If attention is what he wanted by making some poor choices, attention is what he's getting.  

He's also learning to cook, clean, do laundry and walked 4 miles today.

He also learned a lot of science.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Now what?

So the new encoder wire came in last night and I plugged it in, so excited to be finally quilting again, sure this would fix my problem.

Guess what?  It didn't work.  I'm still having the same problems as before.  The machine follows along the pattern, but isn't stitching.  Something still isn't right and now I'm at a total loss for what to do.

I have to admit, I cried a little from the frustration.

Could it be time to start a new hobby?

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

create something

So I'm starting to clean out my sewing room and have decided that I have to really get things under control this year.  I'm tired of just moving things around and not really dealing with the mess that is in there.  When I want to be creative, I have to move so many things around, by the time I make a place for myself, I'm so exhausted that I don't feel like being creative anymore.

So, instead of just moving one pile here and there, I'm going to deal with the piles and make some hard decisions.

As I was getting ready for Binky Day, I pulled out some fabric that has been sitting in the way of my old quilting machine.  My husband asked me the other day why I didn't just use the older machine since my new one is broken.  He asked if the older one is also broken and why can't I just use that one to do some quilting on until the new one is fixed.  The reason I can't use the old one is because so much has been piled onto and under it, I can't get to it!  How sad is that?

So, I started cleaning under and around the machine, in case it takes another two weeks to get the new machine fixed.  I have so much leftover batting pieces and the new machine is so hard to used pieced batting on, I really need access to the old quilting machine so I can use up the little bits of batting.

I was able to sort through two bins of fabric scraps to bring to Binky Day for students to cut.  The trouble is, no students showed up to cut fabric.  I'm not sure why, maybe the weather was too nice, maybe they had too much homework, but since no students showed up, the fabric came right back home with me.  Well, I'm not bringing it back into the house, so I't going into the shed until the next Binky day.  At least I will label the bucket so I know it's already been sorted.  Gotta keep one step ahead of myself!

But, while I was sorting, I found this pile of half finished squares.  I have no idea where they came from or when I cut them.  I have absolutely no memory of them at all.  I don't remember the fabric even.  That's rare.  Usually, I remember the fabrics.  I had to have sewn them at some point in time, so it must have been a really long time ago.  Well, rather than just put them in a bag somewhere, I thought they must be enough to make a small quilt top out of.  So, I just decided to see how long it would take to sew them together.  Just randomly sew.  I had no pattern and no rhyme or reason to why I picked one piece over another.  I had to cut two extra pieces, but I happen to have an bag of 3 1/2 inch strips next to my sewing machine from another project and it was exactly what I needed.  I also had a binding strip leftover from something  else that finished off the border perfectly.

It isn't pretty and it won't win any awards, but it is a finished quilt top and it sure did feel really good to sit and sew for an hour this morning.  I also found another pile of churn dash pieces in the same bucket that are ready to go.  That's tomorrow's project.  I forgot how great it feels to just sit and create.  No deadline, no pressure, just sit and sew.  The hum of the machine, the repetitiveness of the thread clipping and when you get up, you have something practical that you know will be put to good use.

I have a need inside of me to create and I haven't been feeding that lately.  I can't forget that it is as important as breathing and exercising.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Make A Difference Day

 My energy was restored today after a whole bunch of us got together and sewed at Carla's house.
 The little guy in the blue jacket came all the way from Sacramento to #MakeADifference.
 My friend Nancy's granddaughter is 9 and she worked for about 4 hours cutting fabric and sorting squares for us to sew together.  She's taking a break to work on her math skills.
 Nancy and I worked on a couple of Christmas quilt tops made from 4 1/2 inch squares that were donated.  We sewed and sewed and got two good size tops finished.
 This is Nancy's daughter Liz.  I've known her size she was about 14.  She's all grown up now and has 4 kids of her own.  It's so cool to have three generations helping out and working together.  Liz was telling me that when one of her babies was born, she got a Binky Patrol blanket in the hospital in San Jose.  That chapter has since closed up and when they did, they donated all of their fabric to us.  They were very organized and knew exactly how much fabric the had.  They gave us 1600 yards of fabric!  We've used it all up to make quilts.  I think it's totally cool how she's giving back to the organization that gave to her when her baby was born early.
 We made 5 of these fleece blankets.  These were made from leftover fleece bits.  I had this die custom made because the rag die was giving us troubles.  The fringe kept getting stuck in the die and it was taking forever to pick out the bits of fleece from the die.  With the scallop edges we don't have that problem.  We made these double layer thick.  Some of the ladies had trouble with their machines because with four layers of fleece, their machines weren't happy sewing through so much fabric.  The one lady with the walking foot had a good time.  Others broke needles.  The next time I think we will make them only a single layer thick.

 We also worked on some string quilts from kits that were donated.  We get lots of things donated to us and we work with everything we get.

 Some people bring their own machines and some of us use the machines Carla has.  She has about 10 machines for people to borrow.  They are old, but they are work horses.

 Here's the two quilt tops Nancy and I finished.  We made 9 patch blocks and then sewed them together.  There's probably enough squares for another two quilt tops.  I'm not sure what the original purpose of the blocks was, but I like the look of these quilts and I think they are the perfect size to cuddle up on the couch with.
Now if only my quilting machine could get fixed so I could quilt them sometime soon, I'd be a super happy lady!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

All Northern Honor Band

 My son is a high school senior.  He's having many 'lasts' this year.  He is so active in so many things and everything he is doing this year is the last one.  This is his last honor band.  He plays trombone and really enjoys playing the advanced music that these high level kids play.  The kids in this band were from all over Northern California.
He was the only kid from our high school to make the band this year.  They have to audition by sending in a CD of them playing and the competition is really high.  He's made it for the last 3 years and really enjoys seeing old friends.  He's hoping to be able to play in college some how, perhaps joining the concert band or orchestra in his 'free time' whatever that means.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

I presented today

So, no quilting is still going on around here because I'm still waiting for that encoder wire to come, but I do have a story to tell.

At school, one of our Vice principals came around last semester, before Christmas and asked our department to think about giving a survey to our students.  He said that his own children didn't feel like they could tell their teachers how they really felt about their classes and if we could just ask our students for a bit of input, he would really appreciate the efforts.

We were supposed to work together to make one survey, but that didn't happen.

I made my own survey to find out how my students felt about two things I've been doing this year in my class.  I use a text messaging system to remind them about homework, called and I can send out a different message to each of my classes.  The kids or parents sign up for it and I can schedule it to go out any time of the day.  I started using twitter about 4 years ago and found that by sending out a reminder, I got about 90% returned homework.  The kids are just so busy these days, they forget things.  But, when that cell phone buzzes, they always check it.  Parents love getting the message their student has a test or homework assignment and it really has improved communication and support.

The other thing is I use to make reviews for tests.  Kids who use it find them very helpful for studying for the tests.  Some of the kids said they weren't as helpful because the vocabulary I used wasn't exactly the same.  I didn't realize their vocabulary isn't great and they were lacking some of the basic words I figured they should just know.  So, I'm trying to make sure I use the same words on my quizlet reviews as I use on the tests so the kids aren't confused.

SO, today we had an all school meeting and our department was asked to present what we learned from our survey.  I was really nervous talking in front of all of the teachers.  Put me up in front of students and I can talk all day, but get me up in front of adults and my hands shake and my knees knock.  What's up with that?  To add to that, we have a new tech guy and half the web sites are blocked and I tried to show them my survey and the website was blocked.  Everyone laughed and I made a comment about how I missed the old tech guy and one of the teachers interrupts me and starts defending this new tech guy and says it isn't his fault that nothing works around our school.  Really?  Dude!  The website worked before the new guy got here and now it is blocked as spam.  Plus, the new guy is really rude.  Most of the teachers were on my side, so that was nice :)  Later in the day, I got in a big argument with that teacher.  He said I was rude for calling him out and saying it was his fault that the website wasn't working in front of the whole school when I did no such thing.  Maybe he was taking a nap during my presentation (like the kids do) and didn't hear what I actually said.

But I was able to share with the school some cool things and some people appreciated what I did.  Of course all of the stress brought on a HUGE migraine so I'm not sure it was worth it.

I'm trying to hold things together until my stress relief gets here.  Hopefully it will be here by this weekend.  We have another quilt day planned for Monday

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Binky Day

Today was Binky Day.  There's such a great energy with everyone working with a purpose.  We take donated fabric and turn it into quilts to comfort kids who need a hug.  We sorted, cut and sewed today.  I'm excited that we managed to almost make it through an entire bucket of Christmas fabric.  These were the leftover pieces from the 500 Christmas stockings our group made this year for the wounded soldiers.  This bucket of fabric has been sitting in my car for two months waiting for me deal with it so it was nice to have it finished up. Now that it has been cut up, I hope to have it sewn into a couple of quilt tops.

Hopefully I'm on the right track to getting my machine fixed.  I THINK I finally have the right part ordered for my machine.  Maybe in a week I will have everything working again.  I will be ready to get back to quilting again, that's for sure.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

so quiet

My quilting machine is still giving me troubles.  I ordered a second set of wires for the encoders and when they got here on Thursday I was hoping my problems were going to be solved.  No such luck.  They didn't fix my troubles, in fact the machine did the same thing it did with the first set of wires, the robot followed along with the pattern, but wouldn't stitch.

So, today, I asked on my quilting group online and one of the members asked me why I ordered wires for a qbot when I have a quilt sew clever.

Really?  I have no idea.  Someone on a different group gave me a website for the wires and I didn't realize they were for a different robot and they fit, so why wouldn't they work?

My son thinks they should, but maybe that is the trouble.  Maybe they don't allow the robot to communicate with the stitch regulator.

Now I have two sets of incorrect wires.  Anybody out there have a qbot and need encoder wires?

One step closer to finding an answer I hope.  One step closer to getting back to quilting work.

Tomorrow is Binky Patrol day so we will be cutting lots of quilt kits.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Encourage 2015

these posts are as much for me as they are to encourage anyone reading them.  I need to be reminded to watch what I say.  Working with High School students, it's easy to get sarcastic and most students see the humor in my tone, but sometimes I need to be mindful that there are those students who may not be in the mood for sarcasm and who may need those words of encouragement.  It's a delicate balancing act on a daily basis.  Many students are struggling to find their place in this world and are trying to figure out what their strengths are.

My older daughter is a fabulous writer.  She has been writing since she was 4 and could tell a story like nobody's business.  She knows her direction in life and nobody will sway her from her goals.  My older son has been playing computer games and different instruments from a very young age as well.  He is a whiz at math and science.  He has a clear focus on where he wants to be in 10 years and a plan to get there.  my youngest would be happiest to live at home and watch Youtube videos all day. 

  But my younger daughter, although she is great at everything, has never found her love and purpose yet.  She is the top of her class at college in all of the classes she's taken, but still isn't sure she will be successful in life.  She has a very upbeat personality, but when you talk to her about the future, she is very unsure about what it holds for her.  She could choose any career and be successful because she has been blessed with great abilities, but lacks the confidence in her strengths.

I encourage each of you today to compliment someone that comes across your path.  Don't make a judgement on whether you think they need it or not because, like my younger daughter, they may appear confident on the outside, but inside are unsure of the path they are on.  Your words of encouragement may steady their walk.

Friday, January 2, 2015


With my daughters being home for the holidays, we have been doing a lot of thrift shopping.  My older daughter has fallen in love with velvet and has a real flair for designer clothes.  We went to the Goodwill Outlet in Sacramento on Wednesday when we took my younger daughter back to the airport and if you've never been to a Goodwill outlet, you have got to find one and check it out.  They sell things by the pound.  The one in Sacramento sells clothes at $1.69 a pound.  We went to one today in Fairfield and we got 20 pounds for $30.  The more you bought, the cheaper it was.

My daughter found me this velvet outfit in Sacramento.  It cost about $3.  Not that I would ever wear it out in public, but for sleeping, an entire outfit out of velvet can't be beat!  Stretchy, soft pants and shirt, what could be better?  She says I'm ready to be an 80 year old woman.  Hey, bring on 80 if I can dress like this all the time!  So soft and comfy and color coordinated, what could be better?  Oh, yeah, t shirts with stupid sayings on them.

I also got a whole bunch of sheets for backings for quilts for really cheap.  I think each one was about $2.  So nice not to have to piece the backs when I'm ready to start quilting again.  I'm still waiting for the part for my quilting machine.  

We also found a whole treasure trove of used books.  My daughter loves to read and we got 21 paperback books for $3.  These are really great quality books too.  If I was teaching elementary school, I could have made an entire library for my classroom for under $20.

It's a good thing the local Goodwill Outlet is only open during the week when I'm at work.  This was the first time I've been able to visit.  I picked up a lot of things for my Encouragement project for only $6.  I'm excited to get started and share what I've been up to.

I'm not excited to send my daughter back to St. Louis.  She goes back on Monday.  That's going  to be a hard day :(

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Word of the year 2015-Encourage

You've probably heard that some people choose a word each year as their 'theme' for the year.  This year my theme is Encourage.  There are so many things out there to discourage and bring you down, I'd like to try to be a source of encouragement to the people in my life.

I've started several projects that I will be sharing once I've finished them.

Today I finished grading all of my finals and am almost done with semester grades.  That was encouraging to me!