Are Your Feed Dogs Running Right?

Who even knows what feed dogs are?

What Paul sees

No, they’re not hungry cats.

Literally (and figuratively)… mine weren’t operating correctly, and I had no clue they existed.

I took a sewing class in high school back when McCalls, Butterick, and Simplicity patterns were all the rage. To buy a Vogue pattern elicited Ooohs and Aaahs and sparked rumors of untold wealth among classmates.

Pattern - jacket and skirt

That skirt and jacket look so familiar.

 

 

 

pattern - halter top

Oh, yes. It was the 70’s.

 

My father gifted my mother with a Kenmore sewing machine, which she had no intention of using, so by default, I sewed my little heart out on it. Back in the days before petite hems caught on, I had to adjust everything.

Creating things came naturally to me. Though we kids were warned at both Grandmas’ houses not to play with their Singer sewing machines, Aunt Margie forgot to mention that caveat, so in third grade, I figured out how to make a pillow with a ruffle on her machine.

But back to feed dogs. I made extra money in college by embroidering and repairing blue jeans. (I will NEVER replace another zipper in a pair of Levis again.) I decorated my first apartment(s) with sheets turned into everything from throw pillows to matching curtains. How was it I’d never faced a feed dog?

embroidery jeans

Here we go.

Because I didn’t have to. As long as a machine runs smoothly, we assume all is okay, right?

I was able to part with that Kenmore in its heavy table when I found a portable Brother XV 809 at a garage sale for $20.  It had never been used, though the woman’s husband bought it for her with hopes she would use it.  She showed him. (Sounds like my mom.)
With one initial tune up, my little Brother has served me well. Until yesterday.

A friend wanted to surprise his wife by redoing their bathroom while she was out of town, which included a simple panel of matching curtain material he’d found at Hobby Lobby. He was desperate to find a seamstress. When I realized how easy the project was, I offered to whip it together.

curtain

What began as a simple project…

Let’s face it:  I didn’t know I had feed dogs, so I assumed everything on my machine worked correctly. I jumped into what should have been a thirty minute project. Fours hour later and under pressure to complete the promised deadline, I discovered feed dogs.

I’d wasted a huge amount of time trying to ensure my bobbin tension was correct, which I may never know now because I was so focused on that being the problem, I probably screwed it up, too…

Bottom line, I definitely had a problem with my feed dogs, and unlike newer models, there was no switch to lower or raise them to engage. No, for my baby, you have to unscrew stuff and unscrew other stuff to reach them.

feed dog access

Except mine doesn’t have a diagram to help. (Can you spot the feed dogs?)

So, what did I do?  As every seasoned seamstress knows, there are “fix-arounds”. Once I identified the real issue (and confirmed I would not be able to fix it on my own), I improvised. And, yes, the seams will hold together.

Though the finished product might not be up to my standards, the end user – the guy planning to wow his wife – was thrilled to have this small piece of his puzzle ready to go.

For you non-sewers out there, my simple definition of a feed dog is a cog/gear (teeth) to pull the material and automatically feed it forward so one’s hands do very little work except to guide it.

But when they don’t work, watch out. You have to pull and fight the material and be very careful so the nut/bolt above the presser foot doesn’t whack you if you’re too close to the needle/action.

feed dogs under presser foot

The feed dogs are the two rows on the bottom with “teeth”. The presser foot above lowers to clamp the material down until the feed dogs move it forward when you step on the pedal to engage.

As I was desperately wrestling with an innocent piece of material, trying way too hard to make a simple curtain, I pondered feed dogs and what they symbolize in life. I woke up thinking about them.

            What are my own personal feed dogs?

How have I taken them for granted?

How have I neglected them?

Is that why I struggle so hard with things that should be easy?

*Taking the sewing analogy a bit further, the upper and lower tensions must  balance one another.

I’m glad my little feed dogs need a tune-up. Recognizing there are problems lets me fix them before they’re beyond repair.

Happy August 1st!!! (Rabbit Rabbit)
Today is a new day and I have at least one dog to feed!

zu on porch 2016.jpg

Oh, but you will feed me whenever I command.

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The Whole Shebang

I’ve been remiss.  Though I faithfully posted my movie reviews each day in my Countdown to Christmas on The Yule Blog at GaylaBetts.com, my screenwriting website, I have not shared all of them here.

Now that Christmas 2015 is past, and I’m finishing my current 2016 Christmas script, I’m catching up after the holidays.  (Though I still have to tackle the rest of the Christmas cards…)

It was fun while it lasted, and I’m already looking forward to next year!!!

The entire list is below.  Happy January!  ~ GB

January Christmas

Happy Month-After-Christmas!  Stay warm!

Countdown to Christmas Movie Review!

Day 1 – The Nine Lives of Christmas, 2014:  Earned 4 of 5 Sprigs of Mistletoe

Day 2 – A Bride For Christmas, 2012:  Earned 5 of 5 Golden Rings

Day 3 – The Holiday Yule Log, 2007:  Earned 5 of 5 Yule Logs
Also, it provided the inspiration for my new blog title with a little Yule history.

Day 4 – Angels Sing, 2013:  Earned 4 of 5 Christmas Lights

Day 5 – Christmas in Boston, 2005:  Earned 3 of 5 Snow Globes

Day 6 – Hitched For the Holidays, 2012:  Earned 5 of 5 New Year’s Eve Toasts

Day 7 – The Santa Clause, 1994:  Earned 5 of 5 Hot Chocolates

Day 8 – Northpole: Open For Christmas, 2015:  Earned 3.5 of 5 Magic Snowballs

Days 9 & 10 – The Flight Before Christmas & A Christmas Detour , both 2015:  Combined earned 2 + 2 of 5 Snowstorms

Day 11 – 12 Gifts of Christmas, 2015:  Earned 4 of 5 bright red Christmas bows

Where’s That Christmas Spirit?:  A little perspective at the almost halfway mark.

Day 12 – The Christmas Gift, 2015:  Earned 1.5 of 5 Secret Santa’s

Day 13 – Trading Christmas, 2011:  Earned 5 of 5 Christmas Cookies

Day 14 – Christmas With The Kranks, 2004: Earned 5 of 5 blow-up Frosty’s.

Day 15 – Ice Sculpture Christmas, 2015: Earned 4 of 5 Ice Sculptures

Day 16 – Holiday in Handcuffs, 2007: Earned 4 of 5 Spiced Egg Nogs

Day 17 – Journey to the Christmas Star, 2013: Earned 3.5 of 5 Christmas Stars.

Day 18 – Santa Baby, 2006: Earned 4.5 of 5 double-swooped candy canes

Day 19 – Last Chance For Christmas, 2015: Earned 1 of 5 Reindeer Antlers

Day 20 – The Spirit of Christmas aka Hollygrove, 2015:  Earned 5 of 5 Smoldering Christmas Distractions

Day 21 – Snow, 2004: Earned 3 of 5 Flying Reindeer

Day 22 – Elf, 2003: Earned 4.5 of 5 “Swirly twirly gum drops”

Day 23 – National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, 1989: Earned 5 of 5 Leaping Christmas Squirrels

Day 24 – A Christmas Story, 1983: Earned 5 of 5 Secret Decoder Rings

Day 25 – IT’S CHRISTMAS!!! and… It’s A Wonderful Life, 1946: Earned 5 of 5 Zuzu’s petals

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A Little Christmas Movie Escape

I mentioned that I’m writing a Christmas Family Adventure script.  I’m also watching and reviewing Christmas movies as part of my process, and it is FUN!  I’m rediscovering movies I’d forgotten about, finding movies I wish I’d watched years ago, and enjoying new releases.

The real classics I’m trying to save for Christmas Day.

If you find yourself buckling under any holiday or Christmas pressure at all, my advice is to indulge in a little Christmas movie escape.  My recap of reviews since the countdown on December 1 is below.  The full reviews are also at GaylaBetts.com -> The Yule Blog.

santa and the spirit of christmas

Santa at his finest.

Day 1 – The Nine Lives of Christmas, 2014:  Earned 4 of 5 Sprigs of Mistletoe

Day 2 – A Bride For Christmas, 2012:  Earned 5 of 5 Golden Rings

Day 3 – The Holiday Yule Log, 2007:  Earned 5 of 5 Yule Logs)
Also, it provided the inspiration for my new blog title with a little Yule history.

Day 4 – Angels Sing, 2013:  Earned 4 of 5 Christmas Lights

Day 5 – Christmas in Boston, 2005:  Earned 3 of 5 Snow Globes

Day 6 – Hitched For the Holidays, 2012:  Earned 5 of 5 New Year’s Eve Toasts

Day 7 – The Santa Clause, 1994:  Earned 5 of 5 Hot Chocolates

Day 8 – Northpole: Open For Christmas, 2015:  Earned 3.5 of 5 Magic Snowballs

Days 9 & 10 – The Flight Before Christmas & A Christmas Detour , both 2015:  Combined earned 2 + 2 of 5 Snowstorms

Day 11 – 12 Gifts of Christmas, 2015:  Earned 4 of 5 bright red Christmas bows)

Where’s That Christmas Spirit?:  A little perspective at the almost halfway mark.

Day 12 – The Christmas Gift, 2015:  Earned 1.5 of 5 Secret Santa’s

Day 13 – Trading Christmas, 2011:  Earned 5 of 5 Christmas Cookies

Day 14 – Christmas With The Kranks, 2004: Earned 5 of 5 blow-up Frosty’s.

Day 15 –

Day 16 –

Day 17 –

Day 18 –

Day 19 –

Day 20 –

Day 21 –

Day 22 –

Day 23 –

Day 24 –

Day 25 – IT’S CHRISTMAS!!!

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It’s been awhile…

Christmas background 9.jpg

And it is that time of year again!

First off, let me say how well my husband is doing almost a year and a half after his major bicycle accident.  He’s recovered so well, I’d like to call it a mishap, but when you are technically almost internally decapitated, it is not a mishap.

He is more-or-less back to his usual activities of (yes) bicycling, running, wind-surfing, cross-country skiing, and almost every other physical endeavor he tries.   I say “more-or-less” because he’ll never be quite the same, but we are both so very grateful for his amazing recovery, nuances at this point fall away.

He continues to struggle with his right hand as the improvement with dexterity and strength continue to challenge him, but he is a shining example of not giving up, even if the improvements are slower in this area. He is my hero.

Second, we are very appreciative for all the prayers, good wishes, and encouragement we’ve received from our family, friends, and so many people who simply wish him well.

Christmas background thank you

 

Third, and this is about me, now.

I’ve announced to the world that my screenwriting specialty is writing Christmas Family Adventure stories. I’ve revamped my Gayla Betts Screenwriting website to reflect that.

If you go over there before January 4, 2016, you can see very cool snow falling lightly across the background.

As part of the redo, I’ve created a blog there called The Yule Blog, where I’m currently reviewing Christmas movies each day until Christmas.

So far I’ve reviewed on a scale of 5:

Day 1 – The Nine Lives of Christmas (Earned 4 Sprigs of Mistletoe)

Day 2 – A Bride For Christmas (Earned 5 Golden Rings)

Day 3 – The Holiday Yule Log (Earned 5 Yule Logs)                                        Also, it provided the inspiration for my new blog title with a little Yule history.

Day 4 – Angels Sing (Earned 4 Christmas Lights)

Day 5 – Christmas in Boston (Earned 3 Snow Globes)

Day 6 – Will be forthcoming today.

In the future, I intend to share my happenings, which will of course include husband stories, plus cat and dog stories, from that blog.

Thanks for your support on my journey!  ~ G

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My Husband is a Koala Bear.

Seriously, do you see the resemblance?

Seriously, do you see the resemblance?

Not just because he’s cute and hug-able.

Did you know Koala bears sleep 18-22 hours a day?  Since his accident, Paul has taken naps.  Lots of naps. He’s trying to do more and more things, but for every effort, he has to rest:

Make breakfast; take a nap.                                                                                                                         Physical therapy; take a nap.                                                                                                                          Walk the dog; take a nap.                                                                                                                                    Call his mom; take a nap.                                                                                                                                    You get the picture.

The surgeon told Paul he’ll continue to feel worn out for another 6 months.

For the record, Paul and I disagree on the amount of time he naps as he feels he’s tapering off.  Perhaps he is, but from my vantage point, falling asleep in the middle of a movie counts as a nap.  Coming home to find him sacked out with his mouth wide open counts as a nap.

(I’ve asked him to guest-post if he’d like to set the record straight – no editing on my part.  Maybe the next one.)

Yesterday marked 6 months post-surgery, that magical deadline when “things” are to start happening.  Like… the internal swelling in his neck could start to subside and reduce the pressure on the nerves controlling his right thumb and fingers.

His occupational therapist was overjoyed this past week when Paul slightly moved his right thumb into a certain position he’s not been able to reach before, so we’re cautiously (and super) optimistic.

One thing I love is that Paul never stops trying.

Overall, he’s pretty much back to normal, except for tiring out, loss of upper body strength, and use of his right hand (single-digit typing for example).

In measurable achievements , he runs regularly, sometimes taking ZuZu along.  He joined a water-aerobics class with some older ladies with whom he made a pact:  What happens in the pool stays in the pool…

What does he do there?

We can only imagine.

The music he plays on his guitar is often identifiable (cannot hold a pick but able to strum with his finger), and he’s back to almost 100% of the cooking, which includes making breakfast, packing my lunch, and usually preparing dinner.  I also love that he knows me so well.

(Okay, I still can't do that...)

(Okay, I still can’t do that…)

One huge breakthrough Paul had was pulling the lawnmower cord to cut the grass.  Yes, we had a huge celebration.

We’re seeing real light at the end of the tunnel.  I recently transitioned to a new job and am working on my master screenwriting certificate, so with Paul’s efforts to return to as much of his past routine as possible, I’m starting to feel like I’m not falling off the edge of the world anymore and yes, I might be able to catch up on my to-do lists.

cat balance
This Thanksgiving season, I’m especially grateful for the patience and kindness of our friends and family and most of all, I’m thankful for my Koala bear guy.

Isn't he cute?

Isn’t he cute?

PS:  Here are the original bicycle accident details.

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We Like To Keep The Neighbors Entertained.

Why, yes, he has saved that basketball from Michigan State since 1979...

Why, yes, he has saved that basketball from Michigan State since 1979…

Most recently, our neighbors can watch Paul dribble his basketball on his three mile walks up and down the adjacent boulevard thanks to his  therapist’s suggestion for improving right hand coordination.

The rhythmic  reverberations can be heard several blocks away but ZuZu and I don’t walk with him as it’s not a good idea since she’s a tad ball crazy.

Size doesn't matter as long as it bounces.

Size doesn’t matter as long as it bounces.

Paul almost wrote a guest post following his three month check up last week with his surgeon.  But, he didn’t, so I’m quoting the words he shared with his bicycling cohorts:

Earlier this week, I had my three month post-op appointment with my surgeon following my MTB spill at Comlara back in May. According to Dr. Stroink, all that hardware she put in my neck is mending faster than anticipated. I’m right hand dominant, and my biggest concern right now is the nerve damage to my right hand and fingers (You wouldn’t want to sit next to me during a dinner party.), and a significant loss of upper body strength. Stroink wants all the internal muscle swelling to subside before we begin the process of building up the larger muscle groups in the chest, back and arms.

Since the accident, I’ve been doing occupational therapy (focused on the fine motor skills of the right hand) three times a week. I’ve also been speed walking, usually 3 to 5 miles a day, averaging 4.15 mph. For the first two miles, I take a basketball with me and dribble – it helps with the right arm and hand. I’ve also taken up Tai Chi, as it’s the only other thing Dr. Ann would approve… until now.

Dr. Stroink has finally given permission to slowly begin jogging and biking (going to start with the Burley recumbent). Just as important, she’s ordered physical therapy so I can start building strength back in the upper body. I’ll be doing out-patient therapy four to six times a week for the foreseeable future (split between occupational therapy, physical therapy, and aqua therapy). It’s going to keep me busy, but I need to build muscle back. It’s hard to describe how weak my upper body actually is — just grabbing a gallon of milk out of the fridge requires two hands and a lot of concentration, so I’m looking forward to getting this going.

I’ve attached a few pics — one of the new neck (taken 30 days after surgery), and the other of the fancy pencil my neighbors bought me. Evidently, my penmanship isn’t what it used to be — think I’ll use that pencil at my next arbitration hearing!

 

Yes, it's still there.

It’s still in place.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yes, it works.

Yes, it works.

Thinking Gulliver might stop by at any moment...

Thinking Gulliver might stop by at any moment…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I didn’t go with Paul to that latest appointment because, he can drive… so based on what he told me, had I been there…

He can ride his bike.  Uh,  he can’t lift it.

He can jog.  Did I really commit to jog when he was released?

He will be spending more time in therapy.  Does folding laundry count?

She’s uber-impressed he’s healing so well.  He’s going to be in a medical journal article.

She thinks his recovery was helped by how fit he is.   Again with the jogging.

She thinks he’s doing awesome.  I agree.

So, yaay, things are moving forward and no… I’m not comfortable with a man with a broken neck riding his bike in the street.  With cars.  And no neck brace.

And yes, I started jogging (again) today.  Paul started yesterday, of course.  I think I can catch up though.  We’re using a great little app called C25K (Couch to 5K).

My favorite part is when "she" says you're half done, so you know when to turn around.

My favorite part is when “she” says you’re half done, so you know when to turn around.

Now we’ll have to pick a  5K although I do not intend to run with him unless I know I can beat him… (If you want to know why, this blog post following our first and only joint run pretty much sums it up.)

At three months post-op, Paul’s doing fantastic.  Although he’s still not moving fast enough for him (no dog-walking, lawn-mowing, or wind-surfing in the foreseeable future), he’s pushing what he can do.  Is that a surprise?

For instance, he’s cooking again.  His mother bought him a food processor after seeing his ultra-slow and dangerous method of scoring the vegetable; then using his good hand to leverage his weak hand to make the cut; scary.

Talk about scary; he just informed me he is now-this minute taking his recumbent bike out for his first time.

The continued help, service, prayers, and good thoughts from our family, friends, and neighbors, keeps us going.  Paul looks so great that it’s easy to forget he still struggles when it comes to the simplest of things, and then is so worn out he has to take naps.  Lots of naps.  His new therapy will begin with 1 lb weights; his therapist warned he would be extremely sore following his first session.

And for now, I must go.  Mr. Bicycle is searching for his back-up helmet as he’s seriously venturing out.  ZuZu and I will be trailing behind.  ~ G

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A Little Light At The End of The Tunnel – The Adventures of My Amazing Guy Continue…

This is Paul’s x-ray from his 6 week post-operative check up today – he’s looking to the left.  (Original accident details here.)

How many plates and screws do you count?

How many plates and screws do you count?  (Okay – 5 plates and 13 screws.)

Based on the encouraging way his body is mending, here’s what his surgeon says he can and cannot do:

He’s now allowed to turn his head.

He can drive.

He “can” lift up to 20 pounds, but cannot “pull” or reach over shoulder height if anything feels “too much”, i.e.,  he has permission to try but is not routinely lifting much.

He’s released from wearing his brace, unless he’s in a “risky” situation.  (The surgeon said most patients are not released from this for a minimum of 3 months.)

He can sleep on his side as his broken sternum and ribs allow.

He can take a Tai Chi class.  (His idea because he’s going crazy.)

He can do aqua-therapy as part of his occupational therapy.  The occupational therapy basically keeps his muscles limber and ready for when the nerve function returns “on its own”.

He cannot do physical therapy for his upper body yet; he has to wait at least 3 months post accident to let his body heal.  So that means I can still beat him at arm wrestling, wrestling in general, and thumb wars.

While I still can...

While I still can…

He can be patient as he tries to write, type, and play the guitar.  The doctor advised it can take a minimum of 6 months for internal swelling to abate.  She still anticipates a full recovery, but stressed the patience aspect.

Ditto for his voice while it is still getting stronger as it recovers from the double-surgery incisions.

He can return to hearing arbitration cases. (Are we surprised he has one scheduled for tomorrow?)

Here’s what we agreed he can and cannot do…

He cannot walk ZuZu, our 55 pound bundle of black lab/pitbull “pull”.

She will play 'til you drop.

She will play ’til you drop.

He can fold clothes (good use of fine motor skills).

He can vacuum.

He can do limited cooking (the qualifier is if it requires a knife…).

The most he can do outside is water plants in the garden.  We bought a new lightweight hose…

Have you seen this new hose?  Seriously, it's a miracle!  Where in the world have I been?...

Have you seen this new hose? Seriously, it’s a miracle! Where in the world have I been?…

 

He can walk 3+ miles per day.

We can take a Tai Chi class together.

Why no, this won't be complicated at all.

Why no, this won’t be complicated at all.

What I can do:

Try to stop hovering (What can I say, Nurse Ratched habits die hard.)

Be grateful that my sunshine Paul is lighting up more and more every day.

Have faith in what the doctors say regarding the healing times:

~ A year for Paul’s neck to heal.
~ 3-6 months for his broken ribs and sternum to heal.
~ At least 3 months for his voice to heal.
~ 6 months to 5 years for his right hand/arm to heal – with the emphasis on the short end of that time frame.

The best news is that the doctors, nurses, and therapists are continually impressed and amazed by what a “good healer”  he is, and a full recovery is still expected.

Go Paul!

Thank you everyone so very much for all the continued generosity of goodwill and heartfelt prayers.  They do work.  We love you all – P & G

ADDENDUM ~ ONE DAY LATER:  He survived his first solo outing, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen him so tired as when he returned.  He slept his first night through since coming home from the hospital.

And,  he has a new appreciation for his limitations – after spending 15 minutes fiddling with his top dress shirt button, he ran out of time and had to ask a maid in the hall to assist.

In other news, he discovered Taco Bell’s vegetarian Cantina Bowl and fell in love.

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