Sunday, May 25, 2014

Where is the Reward?

The Mariner's Compass quilt that I'm making is going well. I'm being reminded of why I enjoy sewing.

The method of cutting fabric that is taught in this pattern wastes fabric, but saves time. I cut yards of fabric into strips, then cut the strips into shapes, then trim away fabric from the shapes. The strips are larger than the shapes, so I cut fabric away to create my shapes. And the shapes are larger than they need to be. Why? Because when you are working quickly,  you can't be accurate.

If I enjoy what I'm doing, I don't want to rush through it. Saving time means that I don't spend as much time doing the things that I like. I'm finished quickly.  I don't want things done in a hurry. I'm not being rewarded by the finished item alone. I'm also rewarded by the task itself. For me, working quickly takes away some of my reward.

If you love what you are doing, you don't need patience, you need more time to do it.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Why Do My Knees Hurt?

One of the ladies that I work with at this nursing home regularly asks the physical therapist, "Why do my knees hurt?" Every time she tries to stand her knees hurt. She does not walk functional distances. Bed to bathroom? Beyond her. She can barely make it from her bed to her wheelchair. Her physical therapists dread her standing in therapy because her  own body weight could snap her bones. Still, she tries to stand and it makes her knees hurt.

She is over 350 pounds and has been that large for years. Think of three people trying to sit together in a single chair. That would be her, all by herself. She overflows the largest wheelchairs that we have and the first chair failed under the load. She's complaining about the second one being harder to push. It's more durable and the chair is heavy and difficult to push when empty. But it won't dump her on the floor.

If she is not able to walk, she will never go home again. Probably not even to visit for an afternoon. The government standard for a grab bar placed on a bathroom wall is that it withstand 250 pounds of downwards force. She can rip a grab bar out of a wall by trying to use it to keep herself standing. Grab bars cannot be installed in a mobile home. The walls are too flimsy. Even exterior walls.

It is a matter of weeks before her managed care insurance decides that she has not made sufficient progress to remain in rehab. At that point, she is looking at spending the rest of her life in a nursing home. I believe she's in her 60's. 

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Another Generation or So

It only took one generation of 'fat acceptance' for a significant percentage of us to become morbidly obese. I saw this coming when I was a child and the first fat acceptance crusaders started getting press. Lots of press. The more I think about it the more I realize that they would not fail to get press. Who pays for the news shows to go on the air? Lots and lots of companies who sell food.

Right now, I'm working at a nursing home out in central Florida. We have a door to our rehab gym that is 42 inches wide. None of our residents are in a wheelchair that won't fit through that door. However, there are several residents that are in wheelchairs that are too narrow for them. They need to sit in chairs that are wider, up to 46 inches wide.

Think about that for a minute. Over a yard across. Well over a yard, not some piddling inch or two.
These are people who require hydraulic lifts to get into and out of bed. When they are in bed, two staff members assist them in rolling over to have their diapers changed. Often, since staff is limited, they don't get changed very frequently. Twice a day? Perhaps three times. If these people need to be put into a special chair, they are out of luck. They don't make special chairs in ultra wide sizes. So they sit in chairs that don't fit, and they aren't cleaned frequently, and there is no choice. We are following every law about caring for these people. We are not neglectful. We are not negligent. If no other option is available, we have picked the best option out of what is available.

If they weighed two hundred pounds less, they might still be up and walking around. TWO HUNDRED pounds? Well, yes, these are people that are 5 foot 3 inches tall and over three hundred and fifty pounds. They have heart disease, diabetes, kidney failure, and are on dialysis. They haven't walked or even stood on their own in many years. They have bad knees, bad hips, and very weak arms and legs. They can feed themselves, though. In fact, the high point of their day is mealtime. Can we feed them less? We can try. If a person doesn't walk, doesn't stand, and doesn't move their own body to roll over, they don't burn up many calories. One slice of cake, one soda, even a couple of graham crackers will wipe out a weeks worth of low calorie meals.

That woman who crusaded for fat acceptance now lives in a nursing home. Her quality of life is as good as the staff can make it, but it isn't much. When you age with extra weight, you don't age well.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Can I Call You Stupid?

'Cause you are NOT my sweetheart, that's for sure! My 'handler' at the traveling company hasn't been paying attention. Each week, I send in a time sheet. It goes through her hands, listing each and every hour I work. It is now at the halfway point through my contract. She has only just now noticed that I am not getting 40 hours each week. I noticed that the first week.

Suddenly, There Is A Problem. I've been sending her my weekly time sheets. Now she wants me to tell her how many hours each week I've been really doing. Umm...Haven't I been sending her my time sheet? Every week on Monday? Signed by my site supervisor? On the form that she demanded that I use? In a format that she could read? Clearly stating how many hours each week I've been able to get?

This facility management does NOT allow overtime. There is a low caseload, there simply aren't people to treat. Therefore, the answer to her question about me making up time is, "No. It is not possible for me to work more than 40 hours in a work week. It will not be allowed." And furthermore, if she expects me to work six days a week, she's going to have to come up with a lot more money than my contract currently coughs up. Because I have a family and a life and requiring me to miss them is going to mean I need something in return. That something would be a great deal of cash.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Paper Piecing

I'm using a technique where you sew your fabric to a piece of paper with the pattern printed on it. You don't need to cut the pieces of fabric accurately, you trim off extra fabric after you sew each piece in place. In fact, you don't want to cut your pieces accurately, as it makes it harder to deal with an already fussy task. A little room for error is a good thing.

However, I'm wasting a heck of a lot of fabric. Not only am I cutting pieces with a 1/4" seam allowance, I'm also cutting them with at least a 3/8" extra allowance on top of that. Sigh. The frugal heart of me is offended. The technique calls for some fabric waste. I understand that. But I can't get comfortable with the amount of fabric I'm going through completing this pattern according to the directions. At least I'm getting this figured out on a set of pieces that are small. The actual amount of fabric that I'm wasting is not that great. By the time I get to the larger sections, I'll have figured out a better way to cut my fabric before I sew.

In addition, there is a slight chance that I should ignore the exact line on the paper and sew to one side or the other of it. See, fabric doesn't fold knife sharp. The bulge of fabric that rolls around the seam can cause the precision of my sewing to be just enough off that it will show up when I least want it to.

There is also a potential problem that the fabric won't be perfectly flat when I'm sewing it to the paper. When I remove the paper, I'll have created something that will be too large and won't match up with the other pieces that I've created. I don't think William is going to care. All he really wants is a quilt that he can sleep under that is large enough that his feet don't stick out. He won't care that it isn't perfect. Really, he won't.

Bud, my mechanic spouse, doesn't understand why I dance around a project, looking at this and that, poking at it, measuring pieces, testing things, and not leaping to get started right away. I'm not dealing with an industry that has exacting requirements based on crash test reports, recall notices, and government safety standards. I'm dealing with folks who majored in Home Ec in college. If they even went that hard core technical. If not Home Ec, then they are Art majors. Engineering, beta testing, and quality control? Not so much.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Design and Hair

My sister went for dreadlocks, many years ago. I envy her. She has long, healthy hair, in what she calls, 'executive dreads.' They are fine, small and can be braided up, pulled back, left to hang loose, even flipped around as Cher used to do. They have gotten so long that she must regularly trim them or they would hang below her waist.

Someday, I'd love to have dreads like hers. I'm not even sure if my hair will dread at all. But the idea of the two of us as little old ladies with long dreads? I love it.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Suzy's Sack

I got a pattern to make an adorable little bag. I didn't get it from the shop I linked to, but it was exactly the same pattern and price.

The directions are HORRIBLE!

The pictures are not clear and the words that go with them are even worse. At first, I thought it was me having a problem with the directions. I looked up the pattern on the web and every person who has blogged about it has commented that the directions need help.

I sent an e-mail to the designer of the pattern at her website. That was early last week. I haven't heard a peep yet.

Sigh. I suppose the only thing to do is to try to put the bag together and guess at the correct things to do. I'll only be wasting my time and my fabric.