Thursday, May 26, 2011

Quilted Memories

Now that the high school graduate has received his quilt, I am posting a couple of pictures of it. I have not yet heard how Tommy liked it, but I was very pleased with the end result. My friend Kathy, who quilted the top to the bottom on her long arm machine, did a fantastic job. It really finished the quilt off nicely and looks so professional. Hopefully Tommy will enjoy it for many years.

For the first time ever I kept track of all of my expenses and all of my time on a quilt. I knew it would be an interesting experience, but by the time it was all said and done, I earned $1.30 per hours for the quilt. Woo, hoo! Slightly more than I used to make baby-sitting back in the late '60's. Well, just like writing books, you do it because you love it not because you expect to get rich.

On to a different subject...My hair stylist is quite a character. He is going to Chicago this weekend for the International Mr. Leather competition. Charles is the reigning Mr. Midwest Leather, so he gets to compete again this year. The competition takes place at the Hyatt Regency downtown. Apparently they have all the rooms in the hotel reserved for attendees again this year. What I wouldn't give to be there. From what Charles had told me, just being in the lobby is quite the experience! The hotel staff told them they just love it when the competition is there because "you gay guys are great tippers".

Charles is taking the train to Chicago today since air prices are so high. However he will board the train at Union Station, not Kirkwood. "Did you know that the Kirkwood station is unmanned?", he asked me. I admitted that I did know this. "Well that means you can only check one 50 pound bag and have two carry ons!", he exclaimed. "They have obviously never traveled with a gay guy", he continued. "I couldn't fit all of my outfit changes into one bag. And it's all leather, for crying out loud. I would exceed the 50 pound weight limit!" Apparently if you go to Union Station you can check three bags and have two carry ons. Much more to Charles' needs.

So go get 'em Charles! Any guy that still looks good in leather at age 56 and can compete with the young'uns has my vote!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

On the Move

Sunday afternoon we drove over to Chicago to pack up Katie's apartment and move her home. We pretty much had everything packed by around 9:15 that night. In this apartment building you have to schedule the elevator when you are moving things in or out, so we had it set up for Monday afternoon from 2-4. Katie's two roommates will be moving out later. We also scheduled a local moving company to help us load up the Penske truck we had rented. By late Monday morning we were ready to go, so we walked over to Target to pick up a couple of things and then went out to eat. After that we retrieved our car from the hotel parking lot and went to pick up the truck.

The movers showed up right on time, and the truck was loaded in less than an hour. Of course they have a two hour minimum, so we lost out on that deal. I tried to tell the scheduling lady that we only needed two guys, but she insisted we needed three. Now I see why she said that...While the guys were moving stuff, Katie and I cleaned as much as we could considering the other two girls still had all their stuff in the apartment and would dirty the kitchen and bathroom again. I feel bad leaving the rest for them, but we had no choice in the matter with Katie's schedule.

The good part about getting the truck loaded early is that we were on the interstate headed for home by 3:30. Unfortunately, that is still rush hour in Chicago. I would not live in that city for love nor money. I am SO happy we don't have to take Katie back there in the fall!

On this end, I hired Simple Moves to unload the truck on Wednesday and move everything to the basement. There is no way we could accomplish this alone, with Jim's bad knee and all. They were done in a little over an hour, and also moved a gargantuan television from the 3rd floor out the door for me. Yay!

Today we put Katie on the plane to Prague, via Chicago and Madrid. Her 5 week international marketing class begins on Monday. There are 14 students and 2 instructors going. They are staying in a hotel that provides breakfast each morning and includes full laundry service (when can I move in???), and they will do their class work there as well. Classes are held all day Monday through Wednesday, and until noon on Thursdays. They will be able to travel around on the long weekends. In addition they are working with a Prague based marketing company on an Oreo cookie campaign. Apparently Oreos are not big sellers in the Czech Republic, and they want to change that. The trip sounds amazing!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Sew, What's New?

The quilt that my friend asked me to make for her son's graduation is now in the hands of the long arm of the quilting law - my friend Kathy. I actually finished it a couple of weeks ago, but Kathy couldn't work on it until after May 5th when she finished a quilt for her nephew. After that she was not available until May 11th for me to drop it off, at which time she informed me that she will not touch it until Monday the 16th. This was very disappointing to me as Diane wanted the quilt by the 17th. After Kathy is done, I still need to sew on the binding, which is time consuming. While I machine-sew the binding to the top of the quilt, I then hand-sew the binding to the back. Obviously I will not make the deadline of the 17th. Diane is understanding, thankfully, but I definitely want to get it to her by the graduation date, which is the 20th.

It would have been fantastic to get the quilt back from Kathy by today as Jim is gone on a motorcycle training trip this weekend. I could have sewed to my heart's content, and made the deadline. Also, on Sunday afternoon we go to Chicago to pick up Katie and all her crap. We will not get back to St. Louis until late Monday night. So if I get the quilt from Kathy on Tuesday I will really have to hustle to get it completed. I may be calling my sister over to have her help me with the hand-sewing. She said she wouldn't mind, and she wants to see Katie sometime during the short four day time period she will be in St. Louis.

Next Saturday Katie flies to Prague for a five week marketing class with 13 other students and two professors from Columbia College. They will be working with a marketing company in Prague on the Oreo cookie campaign. Apparently Oreos are not big sellers in Czech Republic, and Nabisco wants to change that. What a fun account to work on!

So in the meantime, with nothing to sew, Kirby and I are holding down the fort. I guess I will go back to working on my e-book. Sew natural...

Monday, May 9, 2011

Mother's Day

In my mind's eye, Mother's Day has always been about my mother, despite the fact that mom has been gone for nearly 22 years now. For many years I could not even look at the Mother's Day cards in the stores because I would start to cry. I am finally at the point that I can purchase the card for my mother-in-law each year now. But I miss my mom every single day, and Mother's Day just seems to bring that ache a little closer to the surface.

This year, like last year, I did not have either of my children here for "my" day. Fortunately my sister's son Joe has organized a family picnic for the last several years. So Jim and I gather with my sister and her husband, their children and their grandchildren. Joe married a woman with three grown children, so they come with their spouses and grandchildren as well. Then there are a couple of miscellaneous in-laws thrown in for good measure. I think we had about 21 people attend this year.

But before we headed out to the park, we met up with my sister and brother-in-law at the World Bird Sanctuary (WBS) in Valley Park. None of us had been before, but we had a special reason for making the trip on Mother's Day. This bird sanctuary is where my little owl Hootie was taken by the conservation agent. We were hoping to catch a glimpse of him, because an email I sent to the WBS was answered by the director of operations with the information that Hootie was okay and was in a cage with three other juvenile Barred owls. He added that Hootie would be released some time in June.

The WBS is quite an interesting place, and I definitely want to go back when we have more time and it isn't so hot. We walked the trail looking at all the birds, but saw no sign of a cage with four Barred owls in it. We thought maybe Hootie was the little owl we were able to see through the hospital window, but the date on the cage was wrong. As luck would have it, a volunteer came by the window so I was able to ask him about Hootie. He pulled the chart that lists all the birds and their arrival dates. He was able to tell us that Hootie's cage is down in the valley in the propagation area, away from the visitor's path. This area is for birds who will be released to the wild, so they don't want them to have too much human contact. That makes perfect sense, but I was a little saddened by the fact that I didn't get to see him for myself. We left a donation at the WBS to help with his care, and then headed on over to the park for the picnic.

We had a very nice time, and the breeze picked up fortunately so it wasn't too hot. Both of my children called me, so I guess I did feel like a mother after all. Happy Mother's Day, mom! Love you!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

What a Hoot!

Yesterday afternoon I was planting some of my annuals since it was a) not raining and b) there was no frost warning for the night. When I looked out our side window as I was filling the watering can I caught a glimpse of something in the shrub. At first I thought it was a cat, but as I looked closer I realized it was an owl. We have heard a male and female owl in the trees for several weeks now, but I had not seen one up close. Quickly grabbing my camera I tiptoed around the back of the house. The owl simply blinked his big black eyes at me. I crept even closer to him, and he made no move to fly away. He looked pretty young to me as his feathers appeared to be downy. I got some great pictures, but I guess I should have realized something was wrong with him as he was sitting fairly low in the tree. The next door neighbors came out to take a look, and we all marveled at being able to see an owl so clearly.

After supper I checked the shrub out the window and the owl was no longer sitting there. So Kirby and I went outside to do more planting (well, I went out to plant and he went out to pee on my plants) and there was the owl in the center of the sidewalk. The dog went crazy and the owl began to flap his wings and make a clacking noise with his beak. It took a while for me to corral Kirby and get him into the house, and I came back out with my camera. That's when I noticed the owl seemed to be limping, and when he would try to fly he could only get a few inches above the ground. By now the boy who lives in the house on the other side of me was in the yard watching with interest. The owl flapped and limped his way up the sidewalk, only to be trapped by the wooden fence. It was painful to see him flapping and trying to fit through the fence, but by God he made it. He ended up hopping into one of our small arborvitae trees. Alexander had gone home to get his mom and her boyfriend, and Barbara and her daughter from next door came over as well. The little owl was quite the pied piper!

I tried calling the wild animal rescue center and the wild bird sanctuary, but both of them had closed at 5:00. I put out a plea for help on Twitter, and received lots of advice from people. There was some debate about trying to scoot him into a large dog crate so he would be safe from predators for the night. I was concerned about giving him a heart attack, and I also had no desire to have my eyeballs scratched out. And then someone posted that it is illegal in Missouri to capture a bird of prey. So I decided to say a Bird of Pray and hope he made it through the night.

Of course I didn't sleep for crap last night, I was so worried about him. I went out as soon as it was light this morning, and the little guy was still safe on his perch. At 8:00, as soon as they opened, I called the Missouri Conservation Department and explained the situation. The lady gave me the cell number of the agent on duty and I quickly contacted him. Gary said he would stop by this morning and see what needed to be done. When I went back outside to check on Hootie, as I had dubbed him, the little scamp had gotten himself into a new tree. The arborvitae had great access and the bird would have been trapped between us and the fence. The new tree was between our utility shed and a pile of stepping stones and pavers left over from various landscaping projects. Not convenient at all!

When Gary arrived he confirmed that the owl was a juvenile and did not have the developed wing span to fly. We speculated that he had fallen from his nest, hence the limp, and wasn't quite ready to be on his own yet. Gary put on heavy gloves, and told me I would need to hold the white sack open after he grabbed the bird. Wait a minute - where are MY gloves? Plus this bag had about a 14 inch opening. What the heck - where is the BIG bag? So Gary squeezed by the shed and the owl began his clacking noise again. When I commented on that, Gary said "Yeah, that is his beak. He wants to bite me." Great! And I get to hold the sack...

He actually captured the bird pretty easily - I think the poor little guy was tired, hungry and thirsty - and he turned him upside down to stuff him in the sack I was reluctantly holding. Talk about trying to get a cat in a bag! But we got him in and tied the bag off to the sounds of a clacking, pissed off owl. Gary told me he was taking Hootie to the World Bird Sanctuary where they would evaluate him for injuries and determine if he needs to be held there for a while until he can fly. So there was a happy ending to the story, but tonight a large owl sat on the front peak of our porch. I couldn't help but wonder if it was Momma, looking for Hootie. No happy mother's day for her.