Monday, August 27, 2007

Murphy's Law

I have confirmed on several occasions that Murphy's Law applies to quilting endeavors. I was so close to finishing the meandering stitch on the center of Laurie's butterfly quilt (two more five feet long passes across it, and I was done!) when I discovered that I only had enough of the varigated thread to make it about two feet.

Another $5.00 humongous spool of thread purchased, and I made the two passes and, its off the frame!

See the varigated thread showing on the back?

Of course, the universe does seek balance.....and as I attached the blue pawprinted binding to P's quilt yesterday, I wondered vaguely if I had enough (and if there was more of that material available in the shop!). I ended up with only about six inches of binding left over!

Clicking will enlarge pix.

I learned some things on this quilt, as I do with each one! I probably won't quilt with black again. Though I really like how it frames the butterflies in this charm quilt, and though black is Laurie's favorite "color" catches the fuzz of the batting horribly....which makes me think it will show doghair and dust, crud and everything else it comes in contact with. Eh, live and learn.

I also probably won't use varigated thread for the meandering again. I thought it was going to be so cool, on the back, to see the meander patterning against the black......and I thought it would prevent any uneven tension from letting "pokies" or "eyelashes" go through and show as varigated thread bits on the black side.....but all in all, I didn't like it quite as much as I thought I would. But, that may mean Laurie will probably love it!!

But it is off the frame, and after I finish binding P's kitty paws quilt, I will decide what to do with the borders of Laurie's quilt......Can't decide if I want to do fancy butterflies or offset the many butterflies in the center with some simple straight lines in the outer borders. I'm leaning towards the latter.

Now I'm off to the rim (our local reservoir which has a paved trail around it) to walk.

If I time it right, I might see some bunnies, road runners and other birds, squirrels, kids, and a really pretty sunset. Not to mention the occasional eye candy that whips by me, jogging around the rim while I do my best to get my 52-year-old derriere to walk it at a very rapid clip!

Some days it feels like this!
(But hey, she's got a horn and she's not afraid to use it!)

Monday, August 20, 2007

Craig's quilt

Life has been difficult even more difficult than usual lately. I'm really getting weary of bad things happening to good people. Finding out that my good friend Craig (Karene's super sweet, super funny and all around 'NICE GUY' husband) had a brain tumor.......and then exactly what kind it was......well, not the news we were hoping to hear, to say the least.

Quilters make hugs. I truly feel that quilts are hugs, sitting across a chairback or lying at the foot of a bed, waiting for someone to pull them around themselves and "feel the love." They warm bodies and they warm the appearance of a room, reminding one that someone (especially the quilter) cares and is thinking about you, etc.....

Yvette and I decided to make Craig a quilt, hoping that if he was chilly or feeling tired and curled up on the couch resting (maybe watching his beloved football!) after some of his treatments, he would get some use from it. And maybe remember how many people are hoping, praying, that he can get enormous benefit from the treatment that may be making him feel pretty miserable. Yvette was on her way to see her cousin, who owns a quilt store. So while on vacation at her cousin's, she looked high and low for "manly" flannel prints! She brought them home with her after her vacation, and cut the pieces.....

I was astounded how quickly she pieced the quilt.....she's a whiz!! We met the following Saturday at Leah's in Orange and with Eva, her mom, we pinned three quilts, one of them Craig's. Eva was quite speedy too! Maybe speediness runs in the family! Yvette and I placed the pins and Eva was zipping around closing them faster than we could get them placed....

Enter our Teacher Extraordinaire and wonderful friend Janet Salcido, who also wanted to be a part of this quilt. She took the pinned quilt home and did her beautiful stippling and called me to pick it up for my part. I cut and sewed on the binding and then hand stitched it all around....

We met at Leah's again on Sunday......Karene was taking part in the All Day Sew that Janet was teaching, so we knew we could give the quilt to her, and she could carry it home to Craig.

(L-R me, Karene, Janet, Yvette)

He loved it. He wrote a beautiful note to all three of us.....And it was then that it all clicked in my mind. He mentioned that as he "goes through the treatments, and begins to understand what God has in store for Karene and him, the quilt is a symbol of the journey." The name of this quilt pattern is "Brick Road."

Flannel Brick Road, from November/December 2006 issue, Fons and Porter (24 fat quarters or 12 half yards of different flannels used for this size)

And my final thought for today:

Friday, August 17, 2007

Bytescribe Gets My Vote!

Being a medical transcription service owner has its ups and downs, as does any business. I have previously talked about the fact that I (and several of my "peoples") likely would not recommend this type of work to someone starting out, at this point in time. But I think I should mention both sides, and include the "ups" of this job. The first "up" or positive aspect is my fantastic "peoples". I have a dynamite team of dedicated transcriptionists. They care about their work, for the most part they work independently, and we are a compassionate bunch. When one of us has an emergency or a crisis, the rest of us sincerely try to pick up the work that person would have done. It is very seldom left on my plate alone, to substitute for one of my "peoples" going through a rough patch.

The other positive is the lucky choice I made in choosing Bytescribe as my source for a phone-in digital dictation system, transcription software, etc. I have been using their phone-in digital dictation systems for about 10-11 years now. I am on my second system, as I outgrew the first four port (four phone line) system and upgraded to an eight port system a few years ago. When I first decided to make the leap from independent contractor/transcriptionist to transcription service owner, I compared many of the "big boys" for equipment (Dictaphone, Lanier, etc). Bytescribe offered the same capabilities as those companies, for a fraction of the cost. I was provided names of customers who were actively using their systems, and every customer I spoke with across the country regaled me with stories of how easy it was to use (I heard "open the box, plug it in, snap in your phone lines, and key in your doctor numbers - and that's it!" many, many times).

I took the plunge after talking with Merick at Bytescribe on a number of occasions. He patiently answered my questions until I was ready and then equally patiently, walked me through the entire process of "opening the box, plugging it in, etc, etc." It really was that easy. The big name companies wanted not only big bucks for the equipment, but big bucks for training sessions......sessions that were not necessary with Bytescribe.

For years I used the phone-in system to receive dictation and for my transcriptionists to access it in order to transcribe it, quite happily. Both my dictators and my transcriptionists called the system without a hitch. I just never had a problem. As my business grew, I eventually began hiring transcriptionists from out of state, and I could see that the newer website (FTP site) methodology might be of benefit, both from a cost standpoint, and ease of use for my "peoples". Again, the team at Bytescribe (Anita Thomas, sales/marketing specialist extraordinaire!, Merick, Eric, Scott and others) walked me through the transition and when I upgraded my Orator Pro to the eight port system, I also switched to using their Doc Shuttle programming. I have never regretted it!

The Doc Shuttle programming is wonderful. (My transcriptionists love it. They love being able to log on, download their work in seconds, and they have realized significant savings by eliminating a work phone line and its long distance charges.)

But even better, the customer support at Bytescribe is extraordinary.

People, THEY GET IT!! When one of my peoples (Karene) called them today with a support issue, they had her up and running again in about four minutes. She's my lead transcriptionist, and has an extremely tight turnaround-time requirement on a huge radiology account. We didn't have time to lose. And they came through, again!! They took the time to answer her questions, talk her through a brief adjustment, and encouraged her to call right back if she needed them for any reason.

This is just one example of the kind of support I have received from them, again and again, over the years. My hat is off to the folks at Bytescribe. I'm not affiliated with them in any capacity other than loyal, happy user......But I think applause should be given when due.....

Thank you, Bytescribe!

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Computer gender

My dear friend Helen just forwarded this to me.....its really cute!

A Spanish teacher was explaining to her class that in Spanish, unlike English, nouns are designated as either masculine or feminine.

"House" for instance, is feminine: "la casa."
"Pencil," however, is masculine: "el lapiz."

A student asked, "What gender is 'computer'?"

Instead of giving the answer, the teacher split the class into two groups, male and female, and asked them to decide for themselves whether "computer" should be a masculine or a feminine noun.Each group was asked to give four reasons for its recommendation.

The boy's group decided that "computer" should definitely be of the feminine gender ("la computadora"), because:
1. No one but their creator understands their internal logic;
2. The native language they use to communicate with other computers is incomprehensible to everyone else;
3. Even the smallest mistakes are stored in long term memory for possible later retrieval; and
4. As soon as you make a commitment to one, you find yourself spending half your paycheck on accessories for it.


The women's group, however, concluded that computers should be masculine ("el computador"), because:
1. In order to do anything with them, you have to turn them on;
2. They have a lot of data but still can't think for themselves;
3. They are supposed to help you solve problems, but half the time they ARE the problem; and
4. As soon as you commit to one, you realize that if you had waited a little longer, you could have gotten a better model.

Helen's forward stated that the women won. I dunno, I think both sides had great points!

Wishing everyone a great day!

Friday, August 03, 2007

Quilts and babies and Tiger

Karen is enjoying her "Take Five" quilt made with fabrics with Asian type designs, which finally got bound and on the bed!

Tiger has a thing for what we call "babies". She recognizes the word and goes to pick up her "baby" and takes it everywhere. If she's sleeping in her crate and decides to move to Karen's bed......she picks up a baby and takes it along!

Michael was at the Dollar Store today and picked up two new "babies" and brought them home, offering one to Tiger and one to Max (no need for hurt feelings, after all!).

Max couldn't be bothered and after a cursory sniff, stalked off to await a more dignified offering - perhaps along the line of a nice steak.

Tiger was thrilled.

She's curled up sleeping with them tucked under her chin now.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Kitty Paws

It has been a while since I blogged, again. And the hits just keep on coming. More about that some other time. As the saying goes, when the going gets tough, the tough get going quilt more!! I was only able to squeeze in a few minutes today, but it was very satisfying to finish the kitty paws on the border of the kitty quilt. There is just something about the quilting process, any part of it, that gives me peace and a sense of accomplishment.

Double Click to see close up.

I took the Janome 1600PBX out of the HandiQuilter frame and used it with an extension table and free motion quilted the kitty was fun! And easy....

All that is left now, is the blue paw print binding, and it will be ready to give to P.

Of course, Life got in the way so much during the making of this quilt, that she's done with chemo, and done with radiation, and its about to be the Hottest Time of the Year here in SoCal......but still, I hope the sentiment behind the quilt will be meaningful for her and she can use it when the weather cools, and know that I was thinking of her throughout her treatment and will continue to hope with her that she has won her fight against breast cancer.

As soon as I get the binding done for P's quilt, I can load Laurie's quilt on the frame and quilt it. Then there's the rest of my Double Irish Chain to complete and then I can start on a surprise for my niece. And yes, its another charm quilt.....just like P's and Laurie's.....I think that will be the last one of those for a while. And, I have LOTS of other projects lined up waiting....

Sew little time....

Maybe I just need more coffee!