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Sunday, February 17, 2013


5:30 a.m.  Still wide awake. Hardly a blink all night
Insomnia is the inability to obtain an adequate amount or quality of sleep. The difficulty can be in falling asleep, remaining asleep, or both. People with insomnia do not feel refreshed when they wake up. Insomnia is a common symptom affecting millions of people that may be caused by many conditions, diseases, or circumstances.

define "adequate amount"

People who have insomnia do not start the day refreshed from a good night's sleep. They are tired. They may have difficulty falling asleep, and commonly lie in bed tossing and turning for hours. Or the individual may go to sleep without a problem but wakes in the early hours of the morning and is either unable to go back to sleep, or drifts into a restless unsatisfying sleep. This is a common symptom in the elderly and in those suffering from depression. Sometimes sleep patterns are reversed and the individual has difficulty staying awake during the day and takes frequent naps. The sleep at night is fitful and frequently interrupted.

Transient insomnia is often caused by a temporary situation in a person's life, such as an argument with a loved one, a brief medical illness, or jet lag. When the situation is resolved or the precipitating factor disappears, the condition goes away, usually without medical treatment.
Chronic insomnia usually has different causes, and there may be more than one. These include:
  • A medical condition or its treatment, including sleep apnea
  • Use of substances such as caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine
  • Psychiatric conditions such as mood or anxiety disorders
  • Stress, such as sadness caused by the loss of a loved one or a job
  • Disturbed sleep cycles caused by a change in work shift
  • Sleep-disordered breathing, such as snoring
  • Periodic jerky leg movements (nocturnal myoclonus), which happen just as the individual is falling asleep
  • Repeated nightmares or panic attacks during sleep.
None of the above seem to apply.

there's no space under my bed; it's built from the floor up.... so there can't be a rhino there....       

can there?  

no one else is home this weekend, so I can putter without disturbing anyone.... do the dishes..... pack up some things I'll want to take to the B&B tomorrow (no, wait - that's today) ... play my harp or read a bit.... get the monthly bookkeeping done

Or I can sit very still in the dark, with only the electric fireplace's warm comforting glow, and listen. To the night sounds of the city. To my dog sighing in his sleep. To my neighbor as he gets ready for work. He's a baker, so he was up softly thumping about not long ago, having his shower, perhaps looking for a lost sock? He quietly ate his lonely early morning breakfast. Then, stumping discreetly out the door he followed his nose to a spotless kitchen somewhere in the ebon stillness of the city. There he'll conceive yeasty, sweet, sticky delights. The magic of rising dough,  gestating, growing in the belly of the bakery until birth, warm and steaming into a world salivating with expectancy, just in time for the rest of the world to want breakfast. He'll tidy up and come home then, as the day shift has lunch, to finish his day as carefully and quietly as he began it. 

I'm sure I'll sleep well tomorrow.... that is - tonight.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Jelly Roll

They call it a jelly roll quilt.  Not because it's edible, or made from anything remotely edible, but because pre-cut strips of coordinated fabric are sold rolled up like this, and they look a bit like a jelly roll.  
Now, I'm not much for buying things in 'kits'. Mostly because I'm so cheap I squeak when I walk, but also because it seems to me that a big part of the creative process is 'pulling it all together'. I don't want someone else telling me what my work should look like... it's just not.... well, creative.  

But I did need to make a quilt for one of the rooms in my future B&B, and I didn't want to spend forever on it.  It needed to nice, but not a work of art. It needed to use materials I have, no purchases allowed. I do have a bit of fabric stashed away from a former life.... well, actually, a lot of fabric..... ok, let's be honest - quite a lot. So I surfed a bit for ideas, and came across the jelly roll.  I got out my calculator, and figured out how much 'strippage' would be needed for the bed in question, and went looking for fabric. 

It seems kind of wasteful to me (there's that cheap squeakiness again) to cut perfectly good yardage into pieces, then sew them all together again to make more yardage.  I think a quilt should be made, as much as possible, from  bits and pieces, ends left over from other projects, recycled, salvaged, not very useful bits.  My quilt would be just that. The trendy jelly roll is made up of strips of new fabric, all the same weave and weight, cut across the grain, so all strips are the same length.  Mine ranged from a few inches to 3 or 4 feel long, from cotton flannel to cotton velvet, satin to tweed, stripes and florals and plaids.  I sorted through my bits and decided on a masculine-ish somewhat muted palette, with a few coordinating florals to soften the look.  Some of the reds and whites were a bit harsh for what I wanted, so I separated them, boiled up a box of orange pekoe teabags and threw the whole mess in the washing machine. Then filled the washer up with hot water, gave it a good stir and added the fabric.  I twisted the teabags into a short length of white-on-white cotton to get a darker, blotchy pattern behind the printed one, and threw that in too, The result was gentler reds and 'antique' whites. I was especially pleased with the blotchy one.  

Then I dusted off my rotary cutter and cutting mat, and spent a week one day, cutting strips.  When I'd cut it all up, I gave it a good stir to mix up the colors, then I began laying one atop the other, in no particular order, the only criteria being that no two of the same fabric should be together, until I had enough to make a roll.  This step wasn't crucial, but it tidied up my workspace, and made sure the colors were well mixed.  
 Then I started to sew.  One strip after the other, end for end, for ever and ever amen, until it was one continuous strip. 
Here's where it gets groovy.  When you have reached the end of one long strip about a brazillian miles long (or 1.6 brazillion kilometers or something like that, if you're in Canada) you find the other end. If you're cleverer than me, you thought of this when you started and tied the beginning end to something so it couldn't get away. You then sew them together, lengthwise, to get a new strip twice as wide, and only a half brazillion miles long (.8 brazillion in Canada) When you get close to the end, you'll be reminded that it's not 2 strips, but one, and you'll cut the strip in order for it all to lay flat, and finish sewing. 
 Join the end of this wider strip with its beginning, and sew again, to make it 4 strips wide, cutting at the   far end again, to lay it flat and finish the seam.
 Then do it all again, to make it 8 strips wide, again to make it 16 wide, 
and one more time for a finished product, in this case, of 32 strips wide.  
And this is what it looks like so far, sprawled on my couch taking a nap. 

If you're cleverer than me, you'll have a quilt top approximately the size you'd originally calculated for. If you're no more clever than me, you won't.  If you're LUCKY, as I was, you'll have a finished product that is actually twice as long as desired, and you now have enough for two quilts.  

After hours of staring blearily at the ragged, fraying underside of the thing, I never like the look of it at this stage. This is when I wonder if it's worth all the trouble of putting the batting and underside on.  Happily, the finished product almost always pleases me.  Not that it can't be done, but it takes a special kind of gift to make a seriously ugly quilt.