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Let’s Go To The Movies

And thus starts a brand new year today.  I’m going to try to blog more reliably beginning this year, and I’m going to start with a critique of a local movie theater that we visited last night.

The “Township Tavern” located in the Township 5 Center in Camillus, NY, was perhaps the best experience I’ve ever had in my life in movie-going.  It was Al’s and my first time going to the Township Tavern, and, being the pessimistic person that I have always been, I didn’t expect much but crowds and discomfort.  But I’d heard good reviews from others, so I had to give it a try.

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I pre-purchased our tickets online, which was done with ease and no confusion.  You get to pick your movie, and even the seats you want all from Fandango.  When you get to the theater, there’s a kiosk where you pick your ticket(s) up with a couple of touches of the screen, then you go in and go right to the entrance to the theaters.  The outer area has a complete bar and restaurant, and plenty of helpful staff everywhere.  You might need to really pay attention to where you are walking, though, because there are service staff hustling all around taking orders to movie-goers very quickly and efficiently.  It would be easy to knock into one, or they knock into you, because of a misstep.

Inside the theater is very roomy.  Seemed like there were many fewer seats, because the seats are roomy recliners that leave plenty of room for people to walk even when fully reclined.  Talk about comfort!  Way better than anything I have at home!  The recliners are upholstered in a leather-like fabric, and equipped with a little swiveling tray that can hold your food, or in my case, my purse.  There is a little push button on the tray that will summon a service person once pressed.  And the service staff was exceptionally attentive, fast, courteous and helpful.  Food and drinks (including alcohol) were ordered from a lengthy menu, and although a bit pricey, looked and smelled delish!  Let me just say one thing about the “priceyness” of the food/drinks…I think it’s well warranted given the awesome customer service provided, and the comfort feature of the theater.  However, Al and I were going out to dinner afterwards, so we did not order food, only a yummy blueberry/lemonade.  My knowledge of the food came from all the patrons around us who HAD ordered!  LOL!

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One slightly negative thing I can say is that there was an incredible smell within the theater, thanks to all the various food items that can be ordered.  While we were there, it was an incessant wafting of garlic and vinegar that permeated the air and was distracting.  I was expecting the service staff to also be a distraction throughout the movie, but that was not the case.  I guess, once the movie started, patrons calmed down about their eating and just watched the movie, as there was minimal movement throughout the show.  We watched “Passengers”, by the way.  Loved it!  Oh, one other comment that could be negative… during some of the more intense parts of the movie when the music quelled, the entire auditorium vibrated.  More of a distraction than a bother.

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All in all, the experience was terrific.  In fact, I’ve decided that I will not patronize any other theaters in the Syracuse, NY, area except Township Theater.  WAY surpasses Destiny USA.  A little more expensive, but SO worth it!

Happy New Year!

Thanks for visiting ~ Tamara

If Only … Thoughts on Mothers and Daughters

My relationship with my mother was a dismal failure from the time I turned approximately 13. Fault? I guess that doesn’t really matter, but I think we shared fault. She did not know how to communicate effectively to a teenager, and I did not know how to communicate with someone who did not know how to communicate.

 

From the time I turned a teenager, I wanted out of my parent’s house. That was my goal in life. I did not understand them, I did not even like them. I thought they were insane. I thought I would do a much better job when I finally have kids of my own.

 

When I finally moved out, got pregnant and married at age 18, I thought I would have my “white picket fence” and live happily ever after. I didn’t think I would ever need my parents again. And, truth be told, I rarely communicated with my mother and father after I moved out, unless it was to call my Dad for help for whatever reason – and there were numerous ones! But I was so wrapped up in my own life and problems, that I never called my Mom just to talk. We never, ever talked just to have a conversation, to find out how each other is doing.

 

I’m a Christian now, and I try not to look back at my life with regrets. It’s not easy when there are so many. I do try to leave it in God’s hands. But holidays come around, Mother’s Day, my Mom’s birthday, Mom and Dad’s anniversary ~ yep, I still remember them, even keep them on my calendar(s). I think back to all of the night gowns given to my mother for Christmas. Bells for Mother’s Day or her birthday, she collected them. Candy was always a welcome gift. But how I wish we’d had a relationship. There are the clichés: hindsight is 20/20, if only I knew then what I know now… etc. I wish I’d been there for her when she needed someone. I wish I hadn’t been so self-involved. I wish we had talked!

 

All I have left over her, besides photos, are memories of things she did, how she looked ~ things that I now find comforting, and find in myself often. But I have precious few memories of the last 5 years of her life. That was my “self-indulgent” time. I couldn’t find the time to go the 15 miles from my house to where I grew up to see how she was doing. To see if I could help. To be there for her, or my Dad. It haunts me now.

 

If I could have a “do over” in life, it would be to have a better relationship with my parents… Mom especially. From that I would’ve learned to be better… better at everything. Perhaps my kids wouldn’t have paid such a price for a self-indulgent mom, and maybe I’d have a better relationship with them, as well. However, no “do overs” in life. You only get one chance to do it right.

It’s Spelled C-H-R-O-N-I-C ~

This post is about chronic pain, plain and simple. I’m not looking for sympathy, neither are those who share my condition. Just looking for understanding, respect and tolerance.

I never ever thought I would be “one of those” people who had to tolerate pain in one or more parts of their body 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Yet, here I am. My feet are “riddled with arthritis” as my orthopedist told me. Also my knees. Osteoarthritis. An interesting diagnosis, I thought at the time, surely there is a cure. No, he said, only pain management. “Pain management”? Okay, then give me a pill and let me go back to my life, I thought. I wasn’t yet aware of how much my life was about to change.

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I tried several different pain medications, injections, etc. and none seemed to keep the pain at bay for very long. And, in the beginning, it was even “that bad”… more of a nuisance than a driving force. I might limp while going to the grocery store, or shudder at the thought of crossing a large parking lot. I obtained a temporary handicapped parking tag with the intent of turning it in after a few months and I got the pain under control. The months lagged. I kept asking for a renewal from my doctor each time the expiration came due on the tag. I figured, surely by the time THIS ONE expires, I’ll be able to walk better and longer distances.

Last month I had a bi-annual checkup with my primary care physician. I asked for the permanent handicapped parking tag. He looked at me and winced. He clearly did not want to go that route. Indeed, he told me if he gave me the permanent tag, that I might start thinking of myself as “handicapped”… and he didn’t want me to do that. And he forbade me to use the electric carts in stores. However, he did give me the new tag. Neither of us was happy, but I have to be realistic. The pain, especially in my feet, was now unrelenting.

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I think I finally came to grips with the fact that I will have to live with chronic pain for the rest of my life. There is no cure for osteoarthritis, and it will, in fact, only get worse. I would soon get used to measuring my activities by the amount of pain I am currently in, or am likely to be in at the time of the activity. That probably sounds pretty unbelievable to most of you reading this. My life is now measured by increments of pain. It makes sense, considering 90% of my particular pain is in my feet, making it very difficult to walk. My knees are secondary, and 3 herniated discs in my back count for something as well. I’m always looking for “shortcuts” to my activities. Can I get dropped off closer to my destination? Is there comfortable seating? How close is the seating to my drop off point? Are there stairs? Hoping for a ramp. Will I need my “cane” (my father’s wooden shillelagh)? Will there be lots of people to stare at me, and judge? Will there be people I know there, who do not know of my hidden secret? Will I have a lot of explaining to do? What if it just hurts too much? What if I just can’t stand it another minute? These are things that run through my mind any/every time I need to go outside my home. Yes, even when I go to work. So, admittedly, my social life is waning.

People with chronic pain think way differently than you do. And granted, even though my personal pain is considerable and distracting, there are so many others that are way worse off than me. They are my heroes. I know them and feel their pain as I do my own. Chronic pain “people” do not stand out in a crowd. You cannot look at them and know there is anything wrong. And they (we) do not like to share that information with anyone. If shared, there is always skepticism. People say things like: “Suck it up,” “C’mon, it can’t be THAT bad,” or “You’re just faking it.” No one wants to be held up to that kind of ridicule. Or they’re look you up and down as if they’re going to see some clue as to whether or not you are really in pain. And when they see no clear evidence, there is disbelief.
Chronic pain is exhausting. On a “good day”, at home, I might get one or two chores done ~ dishes, laundry, vacuuming. On a “bad day”, I cannot stand. I sit in my recliner with my feet up, take aspirin, and feel them ache and burn all day long. If I need to get up, I have to thrust myself to standing, then wait until my feet give me permission to move, to shuffle to my destination and then back to reclining. The entire episode is unbearable and to be avoided at all costs. Sometimes I use a prescription rub-on gel to curb the pain, but the side effects are not worth using it constantly… only when I really cannot bear it. Restraint is an important lesson. Chronic pain alters your mind. Your priorities change or may be clouded. You don’t think right when you hurt. Have you ever had a migraine, or a sprained ankle or any broken body part? Think of that pain as never ending. It will be with you for the rest of your life. No healing, no getting better. At first you just deal with it and don’t really believe it will be forever. Then it becomes a “normal” part of your life. It’s with you every day, all day, just like your pinky toe. Then it gets worse and you’re thinking desperately. And you imagine what it would be like to be pain free… just only for one day, even if just a few hours. How glorious would that be? Chronic pain makes you think irrationally. It gives you feelings of desperation, depression, worthlessness, dependence. ALL. THE. TIME. Do you even get that? There is no relief. Hence the word: C-H-R-O-N-I-C. You feel like your loved ones, those that “know”, resent you. They don’t believe you. They think you’re lazy because you don’t do your housework or go shopping etc. anymore. “You’re just lazy.” For me, even my biggest love, quilting, has suffered. I can’t concentrate on it when my mind is full of pain management wishes. I cannot, in good conscience, ask my husband to do things for me that I can no longer do. I feel like he resents me… even though I know he doesn’t. We’ve talked about it. But I cannot shake the feeling.

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I recently joined an Osteoarthritis group online on Facebook. Wonderful bunch of people, mostly women, who share their experiences and ideas for pain relief and how to try to live a “normal” life. Exercises, weight loss help, potentials for medications that I haven’t tried. I know in my head that I need to keep moving and exercise or I will end up immobile. They give me hope. Even a chuckle now and then. I know many people scoff at Facebook, but there is so much knowledge there if you know where to look and how to use it. I have been blessed.

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What’s my point to this post? Chronic pain. It’s real. It exists for thousands of people, including me. We don’t look for sympathy. We don’t look for an “easy out”. We just want to be acknowledged, understood and respected like everyone else. These days, everything is all about “tolerance”. Quit thinking we’re “fakers” and get with the program.

Unfortunately, I expect very few people will ever seen this post. In a way that’s fine with me, as I’m not too comfortable sharing all this with anyone anyways. Anyone I know. Funny how I’ve put my entire life out here in my blog, some of which is pretty graphic and shocking, but THIS makes me uncomfortable! LOL!

Thank you for stopping by and checking me out.

Blessings ~ Tamara

Sam’s Quilt ~

There has been quite a following on Facebook on this story of Sam’s Quilt.  Time for an introduction and then a follow-up:

Sam is my great-nephew.  I went to visit several family members in Minnesota back in June of this year.  It was an awesome visit, but Sam especially captured my heart.  Sam is 5 (now 6?).  Upon being re-introduced to him by his Mom (my niece, Michelle), who told him that “this is the aunt that made Thomas’s (his little brother) baby quilt” ~ Sam immediately piped up and said “YOU made that quilt?!!”  When I said that I had, he immediately asked if I would make him a quilt… and quickly followed it up with his choice of color preferences:  “green with blue flowers!”, he’d said without hesitation.  He knew what he wanted right away!

Sam and Michelle 2014

Before I even came home from vacation, I began looking online for just the right fabric… “green with blue flowers”.  It actually took me 3-4 days to find just this right combination without being too feminine.  Then I picked out “accompanying” fabrics that would add to the “main” fabric.

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A few days after getting home, I began the planning of this quilt for Sam.  I was determined that it would be spectacular.  After all, I’d never had someone actually ASK me to make them a quilt, and I was quite flattered.

The entire project was going to be delayed, over and over, as I had health issues from beginning in May and continued right through the entire summer.  That really slowed me down.  There were days and weeks that I just couldn’t even sew.  There were a couple of trips to the hospital, one included a few days’ stay.

As I s-l-o-w-l-y recovered over several weeks, I did continue to work on Sam’s quilt as much as I could.  And it came along nicely.

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With the help of my husband, the quilt got sandwiched, quilted, bound and complete.  I had decided to use a stencil (for the first time) to aid in the quilting part, it was a stencil of 8 hearts, upside down and made to look like a pretty flower.  So I set about penciling in the design from the stencil on each of the squares on the sandwiched quilt.  It took a couple of days just to accomplish this part, as I was still recovering.

The process was:  decide on colors/patterns, buy the appropriate fabric, cut the fabric pieces for the top and sew them together, then “sandwich” the top, batting and backing and stencil the quilting design on the top.  Next you quilt the sandwich, following the design you had just stenciled.  Next you trim and bind the edges, and finally wash the quilt to get out the stenciling marks.  THAT’S where the problem came in.  The stenciling marks, which were BLACK, would not wash out!  Needless to say, I was pretty distraught, and I went to my Facebook friends group “Quilt Along With Pat Sloan“, who I knew would have the answer/remedy I needed to get those awful marks out.  I posted a plea for help on getting these marks out this quilt, and as expected, I was thankfully inundated with dozens of replies and suggestions on what to do and what to use.  I tried MANY of them.  I spent an entire Saturday cleaning, scrubbing, soaking, washing, spraying ~ washing about 5-6 times in the course of the day, but nothing worked.  Exhausted by the end of the day, I had decided there was nothing to be done but make another quilt for Sam.  There was NO WAY I was going to give him such a mess with marks all over it!  Indeed, that quilt was not going to be leaving this house!

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So, I guess it’s been a couple of weeks now since I have reordered the fabrics online, and purchased others at Hobby Lobby, and I have been working very hard to recreate Sam’s quilt.  I’m hoping to have it done and mailed to him by Halloween.  Fortunately, my health is coming along well now, and I’m able to spend hours at a time at the sewing machine piecing, bordering, ironing etc.  Indeed, I’ve just finished piecing the top together this morning.  I should mention that I did not use the same pattern this time as the first time.  I wanted to try something different, something that would show off the quilting parts better.  I think I have achieved that.

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Sam’s quilt top – second try. Top complete!                                Finished size 5′ x 6′

 

Heart quilt design stencil

Heart quilt design stencil

Now, with the quilt top done, I need to choose some backing material and the batting.  Usually I would use up scraps from the making of the top to make the backing, but this time I’m out!  I’m pretty sure there’s nothing in my fabric stash to match so I guess a-shopping I will go!

That’s about where things stand right now.  I’ll continue to update as it nears completion and is then sent to Sam.  Maybe I’ll luck out and I’ll get a photo of Sam as he enjoys his gift!

Thanks for stopping by and checking in.  Hope you enjoyed by post.

Blessings ~ Tamara Eckstadt

 

AQS Quilt Show Charlotte, NC 2014 ~

I’ve been chalking up a lot of “new” things in my quilting world this summer especially.  New patterns, new quilt designs.  This past weekend I went to my first AQS Quilt Show, a national quilt show, in Charlotte, NC.  Despite the 13 hour drive each way, the 3 days spent in between the drives was very nice.  We stayed with family.

We went to the show on Saturday and stayed for about 3-4 hours, meandering through the exhibits and the vendors.  Being the last day of the show, it was not very busy, so there was plenty of room without getting bumped or having to wait.  Being held at the Charlotte Convention Center, it was H-U-G-E.  It was sort of a disadvantage for me, personally, as I have difficulty walking (even though I was using a rolling walker with a seat thingy).  I do think we (my hubby came with) got to see every display.

 

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The photos in the slideshow are some of the favorites that both my husband I and took photos of.  There were many, many more on display.  At first it was overwhelming, then we settled in to a routine of going slowly, sitting for a few minutes, visiting the drinking fountains often, and continuing on.  We looked at ALL of the displays before ever going near the vendors!

The displays were gorgeous, as you can see by some of our photos.  One disappointment for me was there were considerably fewer actual bed size quilts than wall hangings.  There were approximately 50 quilts, but over 200+ wall hangings of varying sizes.  The groups of displays were spaced out so far for the quantity of quilts/walls hangings that were entered.  It seemed like the warehouse-size room in the basement of the Convention Center was way too big for so “few” displays… but then again, when we were there, there were much fewer people.

There were a LOT of vendors.  The entire center of the area was drowning in vendors.  It was fun to see all the things that I don’t ordinarily see in magazines or quilt shops.  Having very little money to shop with was a problem, but my husband did purchase a nice pair of Dresden Plate silver earrings for me, after knowing what I’d recently gone through to make a Dresden Plate of my own.  That made it that more special.  I had anticipated the vendors possibly dropping some of their prices, since it was the last hours of the last day of the Charlotte show.  That was not to be.  Indeed, I did not find any “deals” or price chops at any of the vendors.

By the way, remember that purple Dresden Plate quilted pillow I made for my mother-in-law’s 90th birthday?  She loved it.  After opening the bag it came in and enjoying it momentarily, she put it back in the bag and went to put it in her purse ~ which is where she puts everything that she especially loves and wants to keep close to her.  (Mom has dementia, and did not realize the pillow would most likely not FIT into her purse.  But that’s okay)

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So, that’s the story behind my first adventure to a national quilt show.  Thanks for stopping by and checking out my photos.  Hope you enjoyed your visit.

God bless ~ Tamara Eckstadt