Friday, April 19, 2013

Seizing the Opportunity to Tangle with the Karma Bus

Wow! Holy applesauce, Batman! Crap just hit the fan. Shit just got real.

Last November, when I turned 50, I made a promise to myself. I was going to become fit, fine and fifty. This would be the year I started taking care of myself. I've been slowly puttering towards that goal. I've been modifying my eating and getting back to working out. Nothing radical, nothing too fast or hard and definitely no deprivation. I've just been taking small steps towards becoming healthier. I've decided that I am worth it!

I was beginning to think that I was making some progress. My jeans were getting looser, my arms firming up a bit, my knee sausages were shrinking and my breathing was getting easier. The numbers on the scale were even starting to creep lower.

Like I said, things were improving slowly. Baby steps! Things were looking good.

Enter . . . . . the Karma Bus!

Clearly I've been very, very naughty.

It began like any other day. I got up had two cups of coffee. Just two, limiting caffeine as part of the health kick. Did a little sewing on the current block of the month applique. Piled into the car and went and got my monthly blood work taken. (Part of the whole rheumatoid arthritis gig is regular blood work.) After that, I drove to Along Came Quilting to meet a friend for a bit of fabric shopping and after that some lunch. So far, so good.

Into the store we go, stirring up trouble and kibitzing with the staff. Lots of fun and laughter along with some fabric stroking. All of a sudden, out of no where, I started feeling weird. Not bad, just a bit off. Then things started to go dark, like when the electricity dips and the lights go brown.

Crap! I realize that I might pass out for the first time in my life. The next thing I know, I'm fighting off hunky ambulance attendants in the parking lot.

What the heck?

Through the crowd of attendants my friend (a nurse) starts trying to reassure me that it is okay. I've just had a seizure and that they were taking care of me. Her words fell of deaf ears because, needless to say, I was just a little freaked out and totally disoriented. I panicked a bit and they had to drug me to get me into the ambulance. It seems that up to that point, I had been following instructions fairly well. Shoot!

So, they drag me off to the hospital, my friend in hot pursuit. Run some tests. CT scan was clean. Heart test okay. It seems that I had a grand mal seizure for no immediately apparent reason. Holy crap-a-doodle-doo! I've got a boat load of bruises, I tore a big chunk of skin from behind my ear when I hit a hook and I've got aches and pains galore, but it could have been a lot worse.

Over the next two weeks the real fun begins. MRI, chest x-rays, EKG and EEG all coming up in rapid succession. I've seen a plethora of doctors this week and they are all fairly confident that this is likely a one time thing.

The trouble is, I can't drive until I have been three months without a seizure. It has only been a week and I am already chaffing at the bit. I find that I am not liking being tied down and needing a driver. Sigh. Oh well, better safe than sorry. I shall survive this debacle. I'm just glad I live in Alberta. In the rest of the country, they take your license for a full year. :(    
What strikes me the most about this whole unfortunate event, is the quick response from the fire fighters, then the ambulance attendants. They gave me great care, even when I resisted it (in my state of panic.) The staff at the hospital was patient and helpful. But most wonderful of all was the attention from the staff at Along Came Quilting. They were quick to react and help out. They remembered my usual cohort's name and called her for my emergency contact information. She didn't have my husband's number, so she told them where I worked. They called work, work called my daughter, and she called my man, who raced to the hospital. Quite a chain of caring.

A couple days later, Linda, the owner of ACQ called me to check up on me and to express her staff's concern for my well-being. While we were chatting, she told me that someone on her staff said it was a good thing I didn't put the hook through my neck. Linda said it was a good thing I didn't take my eye out with it. YIKES! I hadn't even thought of that. Thank heaven for small reprieves!

While I am, understandably, nervous about the upcoming tests, I can't help but be grateful that they are all happening within two weeks. I guess when your brain is screwy you get good service! I am thankful for the excellent care I received at the hospital and en-route. I am also thrilled that the ACQ staff reacted quickly and efficiently. I'm glad my friends, family and boss were all there to help out. I'm not sure if it is good or bad that I'm at the quilt store often enough that they remember me and know who my usual cohorts are.

This strengthens my vow to get fit and take better care of myself. As soon as I get the all-clear, I'll be hitting the treadmill again.

Now, if only they would give me back my car keys.


Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The Fabricaholic Chooses Her Shop

Sundreams. My pattern. It has nothing to do
with this post, except showing why I need such
a large selection of fabrics.
I am a fabricaholic. Okay, that might be a bit of an exaggeration. Then again maybe not. Bear with me for a moment ... Do you think that I am a fabricaholic if I have fabric stored in 24 Ikea bins made into drawers, 2 four-drawer plastic towers, 15 plastic containers, 8 carboard boxes and a have bunch of yardage on my shelves?

No? Good! I didn't think so either.

My point here is that I buy a lot of fabric. But then, I use a lot of fabric. Most of my purchases are 100% cotton for quilting. I do buy a bit of minky, a bit of drapery fabric, some rubberized baby fabric and a few odd bits. My cotton is 90% quilting cotton and 10% flannel for backs. I do love a soft cuddly quilt back, but that isn't where I was going with this.

I spend a lot of time in quilt shops and fabric store looking around, stroking the fabric, and buying what I need for my current work in progress. Oh, and I might buy a meter or two of fabric just because I like it. I am not a quilt shop purist by any stretch of the imagination. I shop the fabric store chains and I've purchased fabric at second hand stores on occassion. I will shop almost anywhere. The question is, how do I decide where to shop and what brings a shop to the top of my favorites list?

Years ago, we had a shop here in Calgary that was lovely. They have since closed their doors. They had wide open spaces and neatly arranges racks of fabrics and notions. They carried quilting cottons in a wide variety of colors and themes. It was brightly lit with a huge classroom and world class teachers. I never shopped there, unless I had no other option. Why? Because the staff was stand-offish and rarely spoke except to ask for your money. I'm funny that way, I like to be greeted when I enter a shop. Ask if you can help me, ask about my day, make some idle chit-chat. At the very least, acknowledge my existance. I understand that you are busy, but would a finger wave really break your concentration during what is clearly a personal call? If you can't be bothered with me, I can't be bothered to shop with you. Fail.

When my daughters still lived at home, we would hit the quilt shops together. (They are quilters too.)Twice we went to a shop in Edmonton that I will never revisit. I won't even stop at their booth at quilt shows. Why? because when the girls and I went to their shop the staff followed them around like they were criminals bent on stuffing bolts of fabric down they pants. I understand that teenagers can be a shop-owner's nightmare, but come on ladies, be a bit more subtle and take the fact that they are with their mother into consideration. The staff never spoke to them, just hovered behind and beside them like vengeful hawks. Fail!

There are anumber of quilt shops here in Calgary and quite a few in the surrounding area that I get to on the rare occassion. (Oooo, road trip time! Followed by another post of my finds.) But back to this post ...

I love visiting the local shops, and yes, I am going to name them. Traditional Pastimes has a lovely quaint feel, friendly helpful staff and dozens of inspiring items on display. The only trouble is, many of their fabrics are muted and washed out colors. Not really my thing, I am more of a high contrast, lots of brights girl, but I find their shop interesting and inspiring all the same. The staff is good, but the lack of parking is a huge downfall. Overall, a passing grade.

Out of Hand is bursting to the seams with bright colorful fabrics. So much so that you have to move several stacks of bolts, just to see what is behind them. There aren't a lot of completed projects on display and the staff is hit and miss. But their fabric selection is incredible and they have a huge selection of wools, buttons and teddy bear making supplies. The clutter drives me crazy, as I like room to move and more light to see, but I still give them a passing grade.

My Sewing Room is HUGE! Their selection of fabrics, tools, notions and supplies here is stupendous. They have a frequent shopper program as well. If you are looking for something specific, there is a good chance they will have it, or can get it for you if you have time to wait. They run a lot of classes as well. Often there is so much fabric that you feel overwhelmed. Their downfall, if you ask me, is their staff. They have an extremely high turn-over rate and many of the staff lack quilting knowledge. They are lovely girls, don't get me wrong. They are friendly and helpful, just not knowledgable about quilting. That isn't enough to keep me away, they pass.

Finally, there is Along Came Quilting. This is my favorite Calgary shop. It is very bright, and wide open, with lots of fabulous light. There is room to move and tables to fiddle with your fabrics on. A bright classroom with great teachers and a nice variety of classes.. Their prices on books is the best in the city and they have a great fabric selection. Best of all, they have an enormous batik section. (Yes I am salivating.) They carry books, several lines of thead and notions and it is all extremely well organized.They run block of the months in a variety of techniques and styles. They have decent parking. But what really makes them stand out is their staff. They are knowledgeable, intelligent, helpful, playful, and quick to greet you.  Their atmosphere is open, helpful and welcoming. They also have a great sense of humor and laugh at my silliness. This all adds up to a superior shopping experience. This is what makes them my favorite shop. They pass the shopping test! Big time pass.

Something that I haven't mentioned here is that typically I do not shop alone. Usually I have one of my quilting cohorts in tow. It should be noted that we tend towards a bit loud, we do a lot of joking and teasing and can be a bit unruly. For the most part, shops are tolerant of us. Some to better than others and that factors into my like or dislike of a shop. We are harmless, so be nice to us because we drop buckets of money wherever we go!

I am curious, I would like to know which shop in your town is your favorite? What makes them special? What makes you turn away from a shop?

Hugs and happy quilting