Beeeeeeep….

Non-quilting post today. Just weird stuff to share.

If you’re over a certain age and live in the US, that title may remind you of the old National Weather Service warning signal. Remember how the recorded message began, “This is a test. This is only a test.” Then a piercing, endless tone began: beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep

Today it’s a series of mechanical sounding squawks, but back then the high pitched tone just about drove you nuts.

Thursday night I woke up at 3am to go to the bathroom. My ear itched, so I grabbed a Q-tip and gave it a little squiggle, no different from the thousands of times I’ve done it before. Yes, I know you’re not supposed to stick things in your ears, but I bet at least half of you do it, too. I didn’t DO anything to my ear – no pain, no discomfort. It was literally the same as every other time. But a minute later, my right ear began ringing – that same piercing National Weather Service beeeeep. This is not uncommon. I occasionally hear a high pitched tone in one ear or the other, and it fades away after a few seconds. This time it didn’t fade. Half an hour of tossing and turning and it was still as piercing as ever. I turned up the music and finally fell asleep for an hour or so, but at 5am when I woke up it was still there. I looked it up – I have a book called “Symptoms, Their Causes and Cures” that I go to for things like this. Apparently, tinnitus can be caused by any number of things, including age, loud noises, infection, ear wax, stress, and several other conditions. I thought, “Hmmm, ear wax. All these years of sticking Q-tips in my ears has probably packed ear wax in there.”

At 5:45 am I was on my way to the 24 hour grocery store to get some ear wax cleaner. It’s kind of freaky feeling – you drip 5-10 drops into your ear, tilt your head sideways so it doesn’t come out, and then wait for several minutes as it slides down into your ear and loosens the ear wax. Once it fills your ear, external sounds are muted. It gets all warm and you can hear the occasional bubble popping. Then you tilt your head to the other side and let it drain out, finishing with a few gentle squirts of warm water to rinse it away. I’ll be honest – when I finished “cleaning” my ear, more than anything I wanted to stick another Q-tip in there to get the cleaner out! But it worked – 15 minutes later, the ringing stopped.

All day at work it was wonderful, but by the end of the day I had a headache (stress or tension headaches can cause tinnitus) and the sound came back, although much quieter. Today my ear has been a little achy, with an occasional sharper ache. That went away after a long nap this afternoon, but now I’m afraid there’s more to this than just ear wax. Of course that worry is causing more stress!

For now, I’m just working on relaxing my neck and jaw muscles (some other time I’ll talk about trigger points in muscles) and trying not to let the sound drive me – sorry but there’s no other way to describe it accurately – batshit insane.

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Yet another start

I’ve said it before, and things have not miraculously changed: I am a starter. I start projects left and right and my enthusiasm peters out and then I’m left with a pile of blocks or a completed top that just needs to be quilted. I think it’s a personality defect – I am pathologically unable to finish things. Case in point: Ironwork*. The quilt is finished except for hand stitching about 3/4 of the binding down. It has been at this stage for three or four weeks. I took it on the Door County vacation with every intention of working on it, but, well… black binding stitched with black thread is HARD.

Sigh.

Meanwhile the Family & Friends/Stitch & Bitch 2012 block of the month project is well underway and I’ve chosen, illustrated, and colored all twelve blocks with eight different settings and written instructions for the first five blocks. We’re calling it the 2012 Botanicals Block of the Month because all of the blocks have plant names. My mom is making two complete quilts and is completely caught up. Others are within one block of being up to date. Jeanne is working ahead, since I gave her the EQ7 file. Until this weekend, I hadn’t even chosen my fabric.

Saturday I chose my fabric.

Botanical BOM Fabric

And then I started sewing.

Tumbling Briars

And I kept sewing…

Shasta Daisy

And the next day I sewed a little more…

Rosebud

I finished this block, but then I had to go outside.

And when I came in, I saw Ru sleeping on the table. Goofball.

Stretch Ru-strong

How is that comfortable?

Rugen Sleeping

EQ7 Winner is…

…Aunt Marti, who blogs at 52 Quilts in 52 Weeks. Better not start using EQ7 until after you’ve finished all 52, Marti – you might just get sidetracked!

There were so many wonderful stories in the comments – here’s what Aunt Marti had to say:

The quilt I’d like to tell you about was made by my great-grandmother, Mary Gehman Horning. In 1896. That’s right — 1896. Mary lived up in the mountains of Colorado, where my great-grandfather was a coal miner. He was a bit of a “roundheel,” which is code for “he ran around.” She was left to raise her four children on her own for months at a time.
She pieced two quilts from indigo fabrics and muslin, completely by hand and heavily quilted. When my Aunt Frances was moving out of her house, she offered me one of the two quilts, saying her daughters weren’t interested in having them (!) I chose the Double Irish Chain — she wanted to wash it before she gave it to me, as it had a smallish stain on one corner. I shrieked, “No, no, not necessary!” and convinced her not to put it through the washing machine. When I brought the quilt back to Colorado, I had it appraised by a Certified Quilt Appraiser, Bobbie Aug. After talking about the fabric, the design, the stitching and the hand-quilting, she asked me if I had an idea what it might be worth. I answered, “Oh, I think with all the quilting, it should be worth about $400-$500.”
She replied, “I am putting an appraised value on this quilt of $3600. You have a treasure I will never have, a quilt from your own family.”
It was just like on “Antiques Roadshow.” All I could say was “you’re kidding,” and “wow!”
My Aunt Frances wrote up a nice little history of Mrs. Horning and gave me a picture of my Great Grand-Mother sewing. Doubly treasured now that Aunt Frances is gone, also.
And yes, I have the quilt stored in acid-free paper in a special acid-free box!

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Reason #7 I love EQ7 – the Giveaways!

Okay, so this is kind of an obvious reason, but I love Electric Quilt because they are involved in the quilting community. Not just the giveaways that they sponsor (like mine – click here to leave a comment and be entered to win EQ7, but hurry – I draw the winner Friday evening, US Central time), but through their newsletter and blog, the gallery of quilts designed by EQ users, their Facebook involvement, their free downloads of lessons and fabric and videos and patterns and Club EQ Challenges.

Want to know more? Click the button and check it out. Then click on over to the giveaway post and leave a comment!

Electric Quilt 7

Kindle cover redesign

I’ve had my Kindle for a year and a half now and I love it more than ever. My case, however, is also a year and a half old and it’s showing its age. You can see the original cover here (please disregard the rest of the post, especially the part about the Dear Jane blocks, which have increased in quantity only minimally since then).

The old cover did the trick, and I was very happy with it at the time. Since then, though I’ve discovered a few things about how I use the Kindle that resulted in a few design changes. A LOT of design changes!

First, I’m a little nervous about fabric covers because they don’t protect the screen at all. I’m pretty good about always setting the Kindle down with the screen turned down, to protect it from any random cat steps, but I’d like to not have to worry about it. Second, I don’t like how bulky the original case was. I used a double layer of batting and you can tell when holding it. I usually end up taking the Kindle out of the case entirely to hold it. In fact, I considered making a sleeve for the Kindle because it is so much easier to hold out of the case. Third, I like to prop it up against something so I can read while I’m eating lunch. It tends to slide, so I always have to rig something to brace it against and something else to put in front of it so it doesn’t slip.

I’m really pleased with the case that I came up with!

Kindle Cover

The fabric is Krakow, by Mark Lipinski for Northcott.

Kindle Cover

It looks like a sleeve with a really long cover flap. To protect the screen, I just slipped in a piece of inexpensive foam core board available at most craft or office supply stores.

Kindle Cover

There’s an extra little pocket on the far right side of the flap…

Kindle Cover

…and with the foam core in the large pocket I can flip the cover over, attach the velcro in back…

Kindle Cover

…slip the Kindle in the little pocket and have a stand!

Kindle Cover

Kindle Cover

I wish I’d made the large pocket an inch bigger, so it would stand more upright and not expose the foam core, but this angle works fine.

Kindle Cover

I even took photos during the assembly, and if anyone’s interested I’ll post a tutorial.

Reason #6 I love EQ

Don’t forget to click over here to enter the EQ7 giveaway!

Quilts are just blocks in grids, right?

Not necessarily! They can be, and they’re great that way, but EQ7 also lets you do this:

EQ Setting 1

Or this:

EQ Setting 2

Or these:

EQ Setting 3

EQ Setting 4

EQ Setting 5

All of these settings (and many more) are preloaded in EQ7 for you to drop blocks into and color.