mmegaera: (Default)
2017-07-26 04:42 pm

(no subject)

So. I got the results back from the lung biopsy. They were cancerous. I don't know yet if it's metastasized from the uterus or if it's something else altogether. I have an appointment with an oncologist on Tuesday to decide how to move forward on this. But if it's metastasized then this is stage four cancer.
mmegaera: (Default)
2017-07-23 04:00 pm

and another biopsy

So. Lung biopsy is done. They used the same kind of sedation they use for colonoscopies. I remember being awake, but I swear I was in the room alone the whole time. No voices, nobody touching me, not even the sound of breathing. Not that I'm complaining. And except for my back being a little sore (a helluva lot less than the ongoing supposedly fixed popped rib), there was no pain or trouble breathing afterwards.

What did upset me was being unable to reach the bandages in the middle of my back the next day in order to take them off 24 hours after the procedure. I finally ended up at urgent care, because I was literally having a panic attack about not being able to reach them.

I had a mammogram and a breast ultrasound on Wednesday, which is resulting in another biopsy on my left breast this week, for the same reason I had the lung biopsy, to rule out whether the cancer has spread.

I should get the results of the lung biopsy tomorrow or Tuesday, and the breast biopsy a few days after it takes place.

So far as I know, surgery's still scheduled for August 8th. But that could change depending on the results of the biopsies.

I feel like swiss cheese. And if I thought I had a prayer of a chance of outrunning this, I'd be in my van right now, headed god knows where.
mmegaera: (Default)
2017-07-18 11:11 am

(no subject)

Well, I have an appointment for the lung biopsy to check out the nodules they found when they did my MRI. Friday. At 6:45 in the *morning.* They'll keep me for six hours. They're going to go in through my skin, not down my throat. And this determines whether I have stage 1 or stage 4 uterine cancer, with everything that implies. And thus how my treatment goes. More good thoughts, please? Boost the stream? I'd be grateful.
mmegaera: (Default)
2017-07-12 02:57 pm

(no subject)

Home. Exhausted. But home.

27 days till surgery. After healing from that I may start feeling human.
mmegaera: (Default)
2017-07-11 07:59 am


I haz a normal white blood cell count!!!!!

Oh, and I get to go home tomorrow! (I am having an MRI today -- this is prep for the surgery next month). I'm not well as such, obviously, and won't be until I start recovering from the surgery next month, but at least I can go home and wait the four weeks. Still bloated. Hope the heck that goes away, and I don't have to live with that for four weeks.

As of today, I have been in the hospital a bloody *week*. I don't begin to want to know what state my apartment is in, given the disaster it was when I left it (I was sick enough that a *lot* went by the wayside for the last three days or so before I went in the hospital).
mmegaera: (Default)
2017-07-09 12:19 pm

and some good news for a change!

Short but filling.

Item the 1st: I'm down to about 14,000 on the white cell count now (I was at 22,000 when I got here, and I need to get to around 9500, but since I was at 16,000 yesterday morning, that's very doable apparently)

Item the 2nd: I get to have more than liquids now (for the first time since Tuesday the 4th ) I just ordered salmon, rice pilaf, green beans, and a vanilla milkshake [g]. Which is probably too much, but oh, well. The best part of this? It actually sounds appetizing, which is *not* something I could have said until a couple of days ago.

Item the 3rd: I have a tentative date to blow this joint!!! Not till Tuesday or Wednesday, but still. I don't feel like I'm in limbo anymore.

mmegaera: (Default)
2017-07-08 02:35 pm

The best blood draw *ever*, and I bet you never thought you’d hear anyone utter those words.

So, anticipating the installation of the PICC line (peripherally inserted central catheter) was scary. The very idea of having a tube inserted all the way from a spot on my arm just below my shoulder to the center of my chest just creeped me the heck out. But I’d just spent the previous couple of hours with two IV nurses stabbing me (admittedly as gently as possible) repeatedly to absolutely no avail, and I think all of us were getting a bit desperate. My arms have got some seriously colorful bruises, on them now.

The PICC nurse was a trip, and that's saying something given my CT scan experience earlier that day. I don’t know if it’s her natural disposition or if she’d just mainlined an entire pot of coffee less than an hour before I met her or what, but she could have been hooked up into the electric grid and powered the entire city of Olympia all by herself. She was as nice as she could be but she was a force of nature.

Let me put it this way. She basically *bullied* me into calming down. And it *worked.* I’ve never had that particular experience before. I want her around every time I have a scary medical procedure.

Which didn’t actually turn out to be that scary. She told me to turn the TV to channel 50, and soothing, flowing music rolled out of the speakers, and pretty scenes of nature panned across the screen. I started trying to identify the places where the photos had been taken and was distracted beautifully.

The actual procedure was 90% preparation (mostly sterile stuff—oh, and writing on me with a Sharpie, which I suspect is going to be on my skin for a while), one pretty sharp pinch for the local, and a few minutes of not being able to tell she was doing anything, before she stopped her running patter and said, there, that’s done.

How anticlimactic.

But that was because the best part didn’t happen until the wee hours last night. The nurse came around and said can you roll on your back? I need to do a blood draw. I sleepily thought, oh, God, *more* getting stabbed, but did as asked. I kept waiting for the pinch, but it never came, and the nurse said, there you go, and left. It was only then I realized – nobody will be stabbing me with needles for the rest of this mess. The PICC line will be staying in until after my hysterectomy, and they can do *everything* through it. Blood, medicine, saline, vitamins, everything.

And that’s why that was the best blood draw ever.
mmegaera: (Default)
2017-07-07 03:15 pm

In which our intrepid heroine survives stabbing and is CT-scanned by Monty Python

Humor is probably the most singularly essential attitude. I’ve always loved it, but I never realized that it can help you through things you never dreamed (or nightmared) you’d have to.

Anyway, my IV went kaput today. It was my fault – it was in the crook of my elbow and I bent my elbow too far. But it couldn’t be fixed, so they had to put in a new one. They wanted to do two, but no, instead they’re doing something called a pick line which goes into a much deeper vein. Oh, joy. No, the proper phrase is oh, terror.

Anyway, the first (yes, the first) IV nurse poked me four times and finally got one to stick. It’s in an awkward position, and I’ll be touchpadding with my left hand for the duration, but at this point I’ll take what I can get. The problem is that my veins, never very visible or welcoming to needles at the best of times, have retreated and are hidden in a bunker somewhere deep in my arms, waiting for the artillery barrage to cease once and for all.

The second IV nurse had a much better technique, but had no luck at all.

And by then the CT scan people were like, can you get her down here sometime in this century, please?

So off I went in a gurney, with an exceedingly nice young woman pushing me along, who stayed to chat with me while they set things up, and was part of what I can only describe as a Monty Pythonesque discussion about the reaction I would experience to the injection of the contrast dye in my new IV port. The word urrrrr-iinnn-aaaaa-shhhhuuuunnn was uttered repeatedly (one of the effects of the dye is to make you feel like you’re peeing). When I made the Python comment it only egged them on, fake Brit accents and everything. Really, really just what I needed after all that what felt like being that knight who kept talking like it was just a scratch in MP and the Holy Grail, thank you very much.

It really does need to be made clear to someone who can enforce this, that needles are for *sewing*, and sewing *only.* I want the IV version of the Vorkosiverse hypospray.

Cranberry juice!!! Omigosh, liquid with *flavor*!!! And not frozen!!!
mmegaera: (Default)
2017-07-07 06:31 am

vampires are supposed to be active in the middle of the night

So. Another update of sorts.

They say my on demand narcotic painkiller isn't metered (monitored, yes, but not metered). They also say how pleased they are at how little of it I'm actually using. I don't normally have a high pain threshold, but painkillers do tend to linger in my system (and keep doing their job) about twice as long as the bottle would lead one to believe, and apparently IV narcotics work the same way. Not that I'm complaining about that little perk.

They send the vampires around at about 2 in the morning, which seems both appropriate and kind. It's a lot easier to get blood drawn when you're 75% asleep.

Oh, and I've gained 8 pounds since I arrived at the hospital -- all of it saline, since I haven't eaten a thing since the piece of toast I struggled down on Tuesday morning (and I'm still not hungry *at all* -- I notice my stomach growl once or twice a day in a sort of vague, abstract way, but that's about it. I'm told that's one of the requirements for them to spring me and let me go home (but not the only one). I normally weigh what I did when I came in, and I can really tell the difference in my sense of equilibrium. It's very odd. I may get *flavored* water today (not sure if it'll be juice or jello or something else). How exciting [wry g].

I *am* starting to feel better. Finally. I sat up most of yesterday afternoon (the hospital bed converts into the world's funkiest recliner), and I walked 3 1/2 times around the hospital floor (not all at once).
mmegaera: (Default)
2017-07-05 07:35 pm

further adventures into the ludicrous

Please excuse rambling. I’m normally a six-cylinder person, and I’m functioning on about 1 ½ drugged cylinders. So, I got a lot worse Monday night. Really bad diarrhea, complete loss of appetite, exhaustion, etc. So, expecting Kaiser Urgent Care to be a bloodbath on this particular holiday, which amazingly enough neither it nor St. Peter’s ER was, I called the nurse hotline expecting to get some “tide me over till my official appointments and surgery” directions. What I got, after describing my symptoms, was a “get thee to Urgent Care NOW. Sigh.

Dear godlings, it’s hard to type on my laptop in a hospital bed even with the head up because of those stupid wrist bands and IV. But I can only sleep so many hours in the day.

So, Kaiser ran a bunch of tests on me, put in an IV, and started force-loading saline (now on Wednesday evening, I’m up to bag 9 or 10). As the doctor said later, I came in as dry as a potato chip. A CT scan was strongly indicated, but Kaisers’ wasn’t running because of the holiday. So I was checked out of Kaiser Urgent Care and sent across the street to Providence St. Peter’s ER, whose CT scanner was on. They took one look at me and kept up the saline.

The ER doctor (who I’d told about the cancer at intake) said, well, you’ve got a perforated appendix. This is where everything tipped over so far into the Twilight Zone that all I could do was laugh. Possibly pretty hysterically, but better that than crying.

So I was taken to a regular room, where I still wasn’t showing any signs of the results of all the saline, so to speak. I’d had about four one-liter bags by them. Oh, and to add insult to injury I’d walked out of my apartment with my purse, my Kindle, and the clothes on my back, thinking I’d be there for a couple of hours. I even forgot my phone. So I had a discussion with the ER doctor, who finally agreed to let me check out, to cover the IV (with what basically looked like a toeless tube sock), and go home and get a few things. It was when I got back and checked in that I discovered that St. Peter’s ER is a concrete bunker and has no phone reception. I’d been trying to get hold of Loralee for some time by then.

I did discover that my hospital room has good reception, and, among other things I’d snatched up was my charger.

I finally got hold of Loralee about 10:30 pm. She was worried and I do apologize.

I was already feeling worse by then, although it was discomfort more than pain at that point. They ran the CT scan. They told me that it was likely they’d have to take my appendix out. But when I spoke with the surgeon this morning (whose fatherly mien didn’t *quite* hide his “I know best” attitude, but at that point I didn’t really care, he said not yet.

So. The CT scan shows a furious appendix that is perforated on the side as opposed to the normal perforation at the tip (of course – there is *nothing* physically normal about me, apparently). It also showed the mass in my uterus (size and type still being determined), and a few nodes on my lungs (yeah-- I’m speechless, too).

I’m still in the hospital, gradually feeling worse. Due to the rest of my health issues we’re attacking this with more antibiotics than I have blood at this point. I haven’t been able (literally – before I went to Urgent Care I heated up some frozen pasta, and it was literally inedible, and not because I haven’t loved it in the past). I’ll be here at least five days in Room 711 (which has been one spot of amusement in all this – apparently when Loralee showed up today and asked where room 711 was, some bright soul cracked, “good coffee!”

They let me start eating ice chips this afternoon (all I had most of yesterday, last night, and this morning was those icky moistening swabs – I didn’t know my mouth could *get* that dry. Ice chips are the food of the GODs. I don’t really know if the treatment I’m getting is because antibiotics are the new wave in treating appendicitis, of it’s the best of several bad options because cutting me open right now is seriously contraindicated no matter what. I’ve asked, and that fatherly doctor has kind of danced around it. I need Loralee to ask him some of the hard questions I don’t have the wherewithal to ask him myself.

I have no idea when I’m going to get the hysterectomy now, but it surely won’t be August 8th. Dr. Brennan (the appendix guy) has spoken with Dr. Benoit, but of course the whole thing is seriously cattywampus now, since Dr. Brennan operates in Olympia and Dr. Benoit operates in Bellevue, about an hour and a half apart.

Yes, the appendix very well could be related to the cancer, but no one knows for sure. At least I’ll be getting all of the scans and bloodwork (it’s amazing how hard it is to draw blood from someone dryer than a potato chip, though) done while I’m in the hospital.

I’m gradually feeling worse, they know it, and I have one of those on-demand pain med pumps. It’s got a narcotic drug in it, and well, let’s just say that’s interesting.

I have no idea where we go after the five days of getting my appendix settled down. I’m not 100% sure they do, either, but I trust them to do the best by me (St. Peter’s is one of the best hospitals in Washington), and at this point when someone asks me any question about how I *feel* about all this, I’m afraid my laughter (at least I’m not crying any more) is more than tinged with hysteria. I keep shaking my head.

Ludicrous does not begin to describe this. Seriously. This whole thing is so far on the other side of ludicrous that it’ll have to invent a whole new category. And then invent a category to put the category in.

More as I know it, but don’t expect regular updates. I will do my best, but I’m hurting and exhausted and on narcotic pain meds. So please don’t ask for frequent or regular updates. Right now, this is about all I have in me. Loralee is being a champion, but she’s got way more than she can handle on my behalf right now, too. So please don’t pester her, either. Thanks.
mmegaera: (Default)
2017-07-03 09:28 pm

to clarify

In a shameless bid for more good thoughts (please understand this me trying to be humorous, and take it in the spirit in which it is intended).

I knew this last week, but today I had my surgical consult. Turns out I have cancer. It's uterine, of an unusual variety. I won't know the exact outcome until August 24th when I go in for the after-surgery checkup and report, which is why I can't get more specific. I am having a hysterectomy on August 8th. The best case scenario is your plain garden variety laparoscopic hysterectomy in which the surgeon snags every last bit of cancerous tissue and wishes me a good life. But there are other possibilities, including a radical cut-you-open hysterectomy, on up to what I gather is a fairly small chance (again, surgeon hedging her bets from what it sounded like) of chemo and/or radiation.

Anyway, I "get" to have a CT scan and an MRI and bloodwork and an EKG before the surgery.

And I would greatly appreciate any and all positivity possible sent my way.

I can't say I'm not scared, because at this point I'm kind of terrified. But I'm getting good care, and I really liked the surgeon. A very kind lady.

Oh, and on top of everything else, I ended up with an infection from the biopsy (this would *not* be the first time I've had an infection in this area -- I am seriously prone to them in my lady parts no matter how they try to prevent them -- my lady parts laugh at the very concept of sterile instruments), so now I'm on 10 days of antibiotics to kill it and the fever, loss of appetite, and serious malaise this started causing over the weekend.

mmegaera: (Default)
2017-06-26 03:19 pm


So. I got some interesting (in the Chinese sense) medical results today. I'm not going to get more specific than that, but I could sure use all the positive thoughts, etc., that anyone would like to send this direction.

I won't know more until tomorrow afternoon, and even more until a week from today. After that, things are not going to be pretty for a while. The worst case scenario is pretty remote, but what's possible is also a pretty bad worst case. And what caused me to write this was the worst case scenario resulting from the tests I just had run last week.

Not happy, Jan, to quote my Australian friends.
mmegaera: (Much Ado in Montana)
2017-05-19 03:25 pm
Entry tags:

Those mysterious Mima Mounds, with bonus wildflowers

The odd landscape of the Mima Mounds.

Mima mounds are one of those quasi-mysterious landforms that no one really has an explanation for. They occur in various places in North America and elsewhere, but the landform itself is named after the mounds on the Mima Prairie, which happens to be just down the road from where I live (I’m northeast of Olympia, Washington, and the mounds are about 10 miles south of Oly). This area is also one of the few examples of native prairie left in western Washington, as well as a prime example of the mounds.  It’s now preserved as a Natural Area Preserve by the state of Washington, and as a Natural National Landmark by the federal government.

Some of the theories of Mima mound formation, as posted on the visitor kiosk.

I’d been there once before not long after I moved to Washington, then I completely forgot about it. Which is really too bad, actually.

But the real draw for me, especially this time of year, is the flowers. Of course. I saw at least a dozen different kinds. Here are some of them.

Siberian miners lettuce. A ubiquitous woodland flower, found this time in the woods near the parking lot.
Desert parsley.
A serviceberry shrub. A similar species back east is known as shadblow.
Western serviceberry blossoms.
Salal. Another common woodland plant, related to both blueberries and rhododendrons. I found it at the edge of the prairie this time.
Camas plants are scattered like this all over the mounds.  The yellow blossoms are western buttercups.
A close up of a camas bloom stalk.
The violets grew in patches, not scattered all over like the camas.
Death camas, so-called because the bulb is poisonous. The bulb is almost indistinguishable from the regular blue camas, so the Indians used to dig these up and get rid of them when they were in bloom, which was the only time it was easy to tell them apart.

And two other non-flower photos.

Not a flower, but this unfurling fiddlehead was just cool.
It’s not often you find a sky as open as this in western Washington.

Oh, and by the way, it’s pronounced like lima bean, not like Lima, Peru.

Mirrored from M.M. Justus -- adventures in the supernatural Old West.

mmegaera: (Much Ado in Montana)
2017-05-16 11:37 am

A long-held wish comes true

I remember first hearing about this amazing Chinese archaeological find decades ago. It may even have been when it was first discovered, although I was a pretty self-absorbed teenager back in the 1970s. It seems like it was always a part of my imagination, an entire city built underground, filled with wonders, first and foremost of which was an entire population made of terracotta clay – like flowerpots. Mostly an army, but others as well, and animals, inhabiting a place where rivers ran with mercury, all built by an emperor who wanted to be immortal.

I have wanted to go see that terracotta city for what seems like forever, but a trip to China has never been in the cards.

Well, yesterday, China came to see me. Seattle’s Pacific Science Center is one of only two American stops (the other will be in Philadelphia) on a tour of a wonderful exhibit of the Terracotta Warriors, and yesterday my friend Loralee and I went to see it.

It was amazing. I really don’t have words. The story and history behind the terracotta army beggar belief, but to see the actual statues, and learn about how they were made, and why, and for whom…

Anyway, I may not have words, but I do have photos, and here are some of them. If you’re going to be anywhere near Seattle between now and September (and if you can still get a ticket – this exhibit has been wildly popular) or if you’re going to be in Philadelphia when it’s open there, all I can say is – GO. It’s an amazing and wonderful thing, and everyone who can should see it.

This 2200 year old fellow was at the entrance to the exhibit. The coloring is way off because something got messed up on my camera. The rest of the photos are much more accurate color-wise. But this one is rather dramatic…
Some of the many other than sculpture artifacts displayed in the exhibit.
An infantryman.
And a close-up of his face. There were ten of the actual human statues in the exhibit, and each one had different features and a different facial expression. The explanatory text said that this was true of all of the over 8000 sculptures they’ve found so far.
A pair of archers, standing and kneeling. Their wooden bows have long since rotted away, of course.
The face of a cavalryman, who looks rather condescending, as is appropriate for a member of a more elite corps.
The back of our cavalryman, and his horse.
Some of the stone armor.
And what it would have looked like assembled.
This man is a court official, and definitely not a soldier.
One of the last parts of the exhibit was a room full of what the soldiers looked like when they were first found. Sorry about the photo quality — the curators used light or the lack of it to make it seem more realistic.
In that room was one of the soldiers, and a light — show isn’t the right word — but projected onto him was what happened when the figures were first exposed to light. Starting out brightly painted, within 15 minutes of exposure to air, the paint peeled and flaked, leaving the sculptures covered in bits of, well, gunk. I think that was the most astonishing part of the whole exhibit.
One of the funny things about how many exhibits I’ve seen in this space over the last 20 or so years is that sometimes I see a mental overlay of other things I’ve seen here as I’m walking through. This was taken from the ramp that leads up and out of the exhibit to the exit. I remember seeing similar views from here at the Titanic exhibit and the one about Lucy the hominid, among others.

They haven’t opened the emperor’s actual tomb, both because they’re afraid they’ll destroy it unintentionally, and because the levels of mercury in the soil above the tomb are so toxic that it’s completely unsafe for anyone to do so.  Maybe someday they will open it, if they can ever figure out how to solve those two problems first.  But in the meantime, all we can do is wonder.  And wow, do I wonder.

Mirrored from M.M. Justus -- adventures in the supernatural Old West.

mmegaera: (Much Ado in Montana)
2017-05-07 11:05 am

Wow, it’s so lovely and warm

I always wake up at the crack of dawn when I’m camping. Especially this time of year when it gets light before six in the morning. But that’s okay.

I’m not sure why (am I ever sure why?) I decided to drive up to Lake Chelan this morning, but I never really have before. I stopped in the touristy town of Chelan, at the foot of the lake, to buy batteries for my camera and to stick my head in a quilt shop on the main drag. Whoever their fabric buyer is, her taste does not agree with mine. I’m not a big fan of what I think of as sixties neon, and that was about all that little shop held.

There is no road clear around Lake Chelan. It’s a landlocked fjord, and the upper end of the lake reaches deep into the North Cascades. There are two roads on either side. The one on the north shore of the lake is only about twenty miles long. The one on the south side is about twice that length, so that’s the one I took.

Lake Chelan is the third deepest lake in North America at over 1500 feet deep (the bottom is lower than sea level), according to a sign I read at the ferry landing. It’s roughly 55 miles long, and varies from one to two miles wide. It’s also pretty darned gorgeous. I stopped at the Fields Point Landing, a few miles up the lake, to poke around the visitor center and ask about the ferry that runs daily to Stehekin, the tiny settlement at the head of the lake. One of these days I want to take that trip, but the boat had left an hour or so earlier. Next time.

But I saw beautiful views, anyway, and more flowers.

The view across Lake Chelan from Field’s Landing. I don’t know if that’s a permanent snowcap or if it’s just because it’s only May.
A view of the ferry landing and down the lake.
Along the path looking northward along the lake. The yellow flowers are more balsamroot.
Prairie Star Flower. I saw these for the first time down in Oregon on my Long Trip last summer. This was the only shot I got of them this trip where the blossoms weren’t blurred by the breeze.

I’d thought about camping at 25 Mile Creek State Park at the end of the road that night, but it wasn’t even noon yet, and I decided I wanted to actually go on up to the Okanogan. So, stopping along the way to make a picnic lunch, I headed up to the town of Omak, where one of my favorite quilt shops (Needlyn Time) is. And, yes, this time I bought fabric, which I needed like a hole in the head, but tough.

After that, I headed up to Conconully, the little town that inspired the ghost town of the same name in my Unearthly Northwest books.

The view from the highway going up to Conconully from Omak. Please excuse the bug blurs — I had to take this through the windshield because there really wasn’t a good place where I could get out of the van.
This is what I meant by more balsamroot than I’ve ever seen on one trip before. Whole *hillsides* of the stuff.

Conconully is one of the few towns I know of with a state park right at the edge of town. But it’s a nice state park, and the campsite I wound up at was right on the lake and pretty secluded. I spent what was left of the afternoon just enjoying the day and reading, and listening to the red-winged blackbirds sawing their courtship cries. Oh, and watching the geese and ducks use the lake as a landing and launch pad. And the deer eating the campground’s mowed grass.

One of the red-winged blackbirds who sawed his mating call all afternoon at Lake Conconully.
One of the deer who wandered through the campground in the afternoon.
The view from my campsite at Conconully State Park.
My campsite at Conconully State Park.
Sunset from my campsite.

All in all, I drove a bit more than I had intended, but it was well worth it.

Mirrored from M.M. Justus -- adventures in the supernatural Old West.

mmegaera: (Much Ado in Montana)
2017-05-06 04:22 pm

Over the mountains to sunshine

It’s no secret that this has been the wettest winter on record in western Washington (almost 45 inches of rain between October 1st and April 30th – our average, for well over a hundred years of record-keeping, is closer to 35 inches for the entire year), and one of the coldest. There’s no argument that it’s been incredibly depressing as well (and personal reasons have made it even more so for me).

So, when the weather forecasters for this past week noted (with great cheer) that it was supposed to get to and over 70dF on the west side of the mountains for the first time this year on Wednesday and Thursday, and even warmer, with lots of sunshine, on the east side, I thought, you know what? Screw it, I’m going camping.

Of course, when I thought about the east side of the mountains, my first idea was to go back to the Okanogan, which almost feels like home after the time I spent there researching my first two Tales of the Unearthly Northwest. I was also hoping it would nudge me back into writing the third Tale, which has sat there a few chapters in whining at me for longer than I want to think about it, due to those personal reasons I mentioned above. That didn’t really happen, but at least I got to spend some time in the sun, in nature, and to see lots of spring wildflowers.

The first place I went for flowers wasn’t on the way to the Okanogan, not in the region proper. At some point in the past I had picked up a flyer titled Wildflower Areas in the Columbia Basin, and one of them was about ten miles southeast of Wenatchee.

That turned out to be something of an adventure, as the photo of the Rock Island Grade Road will show. At my first sight of it, I thought, oh my gosh, I hope that little dirt road climbing up the side of a canyon isn’t the one they’re talking about, but yes, it was.

The Rock Island Grade “Road”, looking back towards the Columbia River from where I saw so many wildflowers.

It wasn’t the steepest, narrowest road I’ve ever driven, but I think it’s the steepest, narrowest dirt road I’ve ever driven. The recommended place to stop was about two and a half miles up, and the flyer hinted that there was a parking area. Ha. And what it turned out to be was a place for locals to go up and shoot cans, with all of the attendant garbage. That said, it was also literally carpeted with wildflowers. I managed to park Merlin as close to the edge of the road (not, at that point, hanging over the cliff) as I could, in case someone else came by (no one did, thank goodness), got out, and this is what I saw.

Spreading phlox spreading everywhere along the Rock Island Grade Road.
A phlox close-up.
And another. One of the things that makes phlox one of my favorite wildflowers (and garden flowers) is the infinite variation of a simple five-petaled flower in such a limited color palette.
The yellow flowers are wild radish. The purple ones are blue mustard. Both are tiny, but were profuse.
Yakima milkvetch, which was a new one to me.
And the first of more balsamroot I’ve ever seen in one trip before, which is saying a fair amount.

After I made my way cautiously back down to the highway, I headed back to Wenatchee, then north along Hwy. 97, which borders the Columbia River. It was getting fairly late in the afternoon by then, so I stopped at Lincoln Rock State Park, the first of three parks with campgrounds north of Wenatchee. I’d never camped there before. All of the sites are within sight of the river, and it was a peaceful, warm evening. I sat out in my lawn chair and just absorbed it all. Unfortunately, the batteries in my camera chose just then to give up the ghost, and apparently I’d forgotten to bring the spares, so I have no photos of that.

And that was my first day east of the mountains this year.  More tomorrow.

Mirrored from M.M. Justus -- adventures in the supernatural Old West.

mmegaera: (Much Ado in Montana)
2017-04-22 12:25 pm
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critter quilt

This is another charity quilt.  I’m calling it the critter quilt, and I needed to find a pattern to use that fabric with all the animals without chopping it up too small to tell what they were.  This is the result.  It’s a single block of the Burgoyne Surrounded pattern.

It’s the last of that batch of charity quilt tops.  I have two gift quilt tops layered and ready to be quilted, and I’ve started piecing more charity quilt tops.

48″ square, machine-pieced, hand quilted.

Mirrored from M.M. Justus -- adventures in the supernatural Old West.

mmegaera: (Much Ado in Montana)
2017-04-20 03:03 pm

my mother’s quilt

Mother’s whole cloth quilt. 72 inches square, hand quilted.

I’ve been meaning to post a photo of this for a month or so now.

Back in 1998, I wanted to make my mother a quilt.  I “made the mistake” of asking her what kind she wanted, and she asked me for a whole cloth quilt (one made out of a single piece of fabric).  Well, back then I’d only been quilting for about ten years, and I had no real idea how to design or make one.  All I really knew was that I didn’t want it to be beige or white, as the only whole cloth quilts I’d ever seen by then were.

But I couldn’t find a pre-printed top in anything but beige or white, and I didn’t know where to buy a) fabric wide enough to make a bed-sized quilt out of a single piece of fabric, or b) a bed-sized stencil (I’m still not sure there is such a thing as a bed-sized quilt stencil [wry g]).  So I did the best I could with what I could find.

Technically, this is not a whole cloth quilt, because it’s pieced out of 42″ width fabric.  I bought a center feather wreath stencil and two border stencils, a lot of blue (her favorite color) fabric, and got to work.  I remember that I saw blue fabric in my sleep for weeks after I finished it.

I washed and dried it, and picked off what I thought was all the cat hair, then I took it with me when I made my annual visit that year (we lived 2000 miles apart).  The first thing she did after we spread it out on her bed was pick a cat hair off of it.  Well, no, that was the second thing.  The first thing she did was hug me and tell me how beautiful she thought it was.

My mother died in January of this year, at the age of 92.  That quilt decorated her bed for eighteen years, first in her home, and then in the assisted living facility where she spent her last two years.  It’s been washed many times, but it’s held up pretty well (the binding’s a bit worn, is all).

And now it’s mine again.  I miss her, but I’m so glad she loved this quilt.

Mirrored from M.M. Justus -- adventures in the supernatural Old West.

mmegaera: (Much Ado in Montana)
2017-03-10 01:59 pm
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the globe quilt

I was going to call it the globe fence quilt (the pattern is called rail fence, and the focus fabric has globes all over it), but given the current political climate, that didn’t seem quite right.

It’s the second to last of this batch of charity quilt tops.  Gotta make more tops!

And the color combination, which was riffed off of the colors in the globe fabric, seems kind of weird to me now.  I’m not sure what I was thinking when I pieced this last year, but oh, well. 40″x48″ (the blocks are 8″ square), hand quilted in the ditch.

Mirrored from M.M. Justus -- adventures in the supernatural Old West.

mmegaera: (Much Ado in Montana)
2017-02-22 05:03 pm
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Pinwheel quilt

I didn’t realize until I looked at the dates of my last few posts, how fast I’m quilting these little charity quilts.  The process does go a lot faster when I’ve got the tops already made.  Only two more to go till I run out of charity tops, though!

This one is named the pinwheel quilt, for obvious reasons.  It’s another misfit fabric quilt, with the robbing Peter to pay Paul effect (dark/light blocks alternating with light/dark blocks) I like so much.

Mirrored from M.M. Justus -- adventures in the supernatural Old West.