Tuesday, November 11, 2014

"He won't bite"

While I have been neglecting my blog, I have not been neglecting my running.  Running, walking.  Intervals.  I am up to: run a mile, walk a minute, run a mile, etc. for a total of 4+ miles run.  Yes, I am slow & I built up slowly & this means the neighborhood has had ample opportunity to observe my....fine physique ambling about.  Ditto I have had plenty of time to learn the routines of the dogs in the neighborhood & label the deadbeat owners.  & now I will list them, for the benefit of all of you & the Dumb Ass Dog Owners Blog Hop (hosted by Tales from the back road & Heart like a dog) I found at The poodle & dog blog.

I begin mile one all too often trailed by the long legged beagle things that live in the opposite direction up the road.  That's right, the guy whose dogs have attacked our stock, killed one of our cats, sent the other for an extended stay on the roof, & generally made a nuisance of themselves are still around.  Animal control makes almost weekly visits to this guy but there does not seem to be much that can be done unless the dogs are caught red-pawed. 

I lose these dogs once I get to a row of yards with fenced yards & dogs in them.  One has an elderly back mutt of roughly lab-size.  It was out once (someone must have left a gate open) & I ended up crossing the street because it clearly did not want me crossing its driveway, but I would not flag this as dumb-assery; anyone can forget to close a gate once in three years. 

After the old black not-quite-a-lab, there is a pair of corgis who are kind of hilarious.  Their house is off the road but down a straight drive, so I can see them clearly, barking theirs head, off running slightly faster than me, but not much.  They invariable stop ten feet before their closed gate & make sure I know this is their house & then they run home again, as fast as they can.

It stays quiet until I turn on to the dirt road & start past the larger horse farms.  Farm number two has what has to be a full blooded Cane Corso.  This thing is HUGE.  He (yes he, no question) has only barked at me once (I passed another runner & we said "morning" or some such & maybe he was just saying "morning" too but I could live a happy life not hearing that dog-voice again).  He has the gravely bark that goes with an Ancient Roman dog of war.  Mostly he does the other thing he is bred to do, he courses.  He easily keeps pace with me, inside his fence, escorting me from one end of his territory to the other.

Another turn & another largely dog-free stretch, mostly because the houses move further off the road, until I make my final turn & move past Grayson, The Slinker. His family really does call him Grayson, I call him The Slinker because he once climbed to the top of a five foot gate, crawled through the gap at the top & slunk after me.  When I turned & yelled "HEY!" he took off back into his yard.  I saw his people & told them & the very next day there were bungee cords wrapped across the gap & a few weeks later a new, much narrower-gapped gate.  Grayson lived with the most majestic Doberman I ever saw.  I don't see him anymore; I suspect he is sleeping away/has slept away his old age because...Grayson now has two Rottweiler puppies keeping him busy.  I wish they made less noise, but they stay in their (fenced) yard; some days they do just sit & watch me go by, no noise at all.

While I am on the road I might meet the guy next door who I am pretty sure has undiagnosed Asperger's walking his big male German Shepherd whom he adores & is pretty much the only way to connect with him. Also the dog is wonderful to behold, beautifully cared for & trained.  I may also meet the other German Shepherd guy who USED to walk his dog off-leash until it took of after a little girl on a bicycle (she's fine, I'm not sure she knew it even happened, but her father saw & chewed a hole through every ear he could find & actually got the sheriff to issue a ticket-no easy feat) & now clips the leash on grumbling about leash laws whenever he sees someone heading towards them, because the rest of us using public roads is a huge inconvenience to him.

Finally, I might meet K****** who walks a faux-German Shepard she found abandoned in the parking lot at K-Mart & a boxy headed lover boy who look like they could yank her arms right off her body but actually seem more interested in tripping her than anything else.  We usually talk a bit, often about those first long-legged beagle things (the owner CLAIMS they are Walker Hounds but they are the scaredest,  scrawniest, most swayed-back walkers I have ever seen) as they often trail her home, giving her the credit for not scooping up after her dogs, which she does do but if you see a lady walking two dogs & a pile of poop a minute later it is hard not to connect the two.

I never see Bishop anymore.  After that documented encounter, I saw him once or twice being walked on a leash, but it has been well over a year since the last Bishop sighting.  I pass his house twice on my 5-6 times a week run, so I am confident if he still lived there I would know.  I guess when it became clear they could not just send him out the door (they were new to the neighborhood in those days & plenty of people not from around here think all dogs roam free in the country), he had to be relocated.

Which might leave you wondering where is the Dumb Ass Dog Owner?  After all, there is only one continuing problem & I don't go into any detail.  Well, there is a new dog in town, a short timer, as I am pretty sure it belongs to a contractor working on a sizeable addition on one of the houses on my route.  Every time I pass, this dog goes nuts.  Most of the time, it is sitting on the seat or in the bed of a pick-up & seems happy just to bark its face off but this week-end things were different.  I started this same stretch & I could hear the dog, as I often can.  I realized the sound was getting closer & looked up.  A smallish (30-40lbs, maybe), scruffy cute dog was bearing down.  I stopped.  Then I heard a guy saying "He won't bite".  The dog was still running towards me, barking.  It cleared the end of the driveway.  I shouted "HEY" for the dog really, but the guy seemed to think I was trying to get his attention & said something along the lines of "He's just being friendly.  He won't bite".  I started looking around for a rock or stick or something.  When I came up with a chunk of cinderblock, the guy decided it was time to maybe bring his dog to heal (in all fairness the dog was now less than three feet from me & had made no attempt to bite, but it was barking & lunging & barking & lunging & looked ready to settle in for a long game of bark & lunge).  We had a brief chat in which DADO made it clear that I was being completely unreasonable & I offered to smash his dog's skull in there on the public street & then we could wait for a sheriff to sort out who was in the wrong.

I meet a DADO fairly regularly (usually the same one, yep the guy with the free-range mongrel hounds), but I am often impressed by how many I DON'T meet.  There are many red-flag dog breeds on my route (& in my house:  a German Shephard, a pit-looking mix, two mini-dachshunds -the bitingest breed of all & a cocker spaniel, another breed no stranger to nips), but mostly people who get "dangerous" dogs know it & take care.  It is the people who think their little angels would never hurt a fly that are the real problem. 

Sunday, November 2, 2014

2014 so far

I keep starting posts & not finishing them in a timely way,  & then they go past their due date (like my Blogger's Quilt Festival post complete with pictures.  Linky closed on Friday.  WHOOPS!).   Also, I don't exactly hate but am less interested in other peoples' posts about why they haven't been posting.  So I thought instead I would just catch up, the big & the small, & maybe get back into the swing of things now that the days are getting shorter & there is just as much as there ever was to fill them.  So here it is, in no particular order:

I met my Goodreads reading quota for 2014 just last week.  Yes, It's a small thing but I am still pleased.  & I am of course aware that some of the books on the list are barely worthy of counting (but I LIKE picture books).  A few highlights- I am almost up to date on Tana French's Dublin Murder Squad series.  I will say Broken Harbor was not a favorite but Faithful Place was so good that I plan to continue.  Jonathan Tropper continues to make it work, as far as I'm concerned & I discovered Leanne Shapton (Important Artifacts is my big book recommendation of the year.  Turns out no one who has asked for a book recommendation from me has not gotten this title at the top of the list; even people who asked months ago have received revised lists putting this on at the top.  It is a thing of beauty).  On the other hand Lauren Hillenbrand's Unbroken was just kind of meh for me.  I know there are people who thought it was fan-f*cking-tastic, but I am not one of them.

I have become a baby quilt making machine  There will be AT LEAST three births in one 4 month period (that ends in FEB 2015, unless it doesn't) & that is just the tail end, unless it isn't.  In days gone by I tended to make quilts in pairs or triples.  The baby quilt I prefer (Modern Quilt Studio's Once Upon a Time from their book The Modern Quilt Workshop) which lends itself to this as you can make lots & lots of connecting blocks & be 1/2-way done with one when you are done-done with the other.  Trust me, it makes sense & it does NOT make two of the same quilt.  Generally I make a set of girls quilts, a set of boys quilts &/or a set of gender neutral quilts (that's right, pink, blue & green-sue me).  I try to mix up the sets so I use up the little I-SPY images & avoid duplicate looking quilts.  But so far, for more than two years it has been ALL GIRLS.  & the next one is ALSO a girl.  I have a closet full of blue & green (& yellow & purple) baby quilts & parents who are decorating in pink-stravaganza.  Yes, at some point someone is going to have a surprise baby boy & I am going to look like a genius but until then I am swimming in pink.

Cowgirl had a baby.  Cowgirl had a baby GIRL!!!  No quilt for her, but I am pleased nonetheless. Because Hattie (Hathor, Hattie for short) arrived just a couple weeks before the cold weather we are leaving mama & baby be for longer than usual & plan to start a milking schedule by the end of this month.

My bathroom is still is not working properly. I don't want to talk about it. 

The banana trees went ballistic this year. We cut two more blooms down yesterday (cold snap last light) & they are ripening on the kitchen counter. 

I am up to (down to) a 15 minute mile, which I can maintain for.....two miles. Hey, it's no Paul Ryan speed but still I am pleased.  On Friday I started covering four miles total (run a mile, walk a minute, run a mile, like that) & I hope to keep it up even in the cold weather.  If it seems like I took an absurd amount of time to get here, you are right.  In late 2013 I had a bone density blip & it was suggested that any impact anything would not be a good idea.  For a while.  & I only started trying to run again this past August.  In the meantime, I have been BollyBlasting my way to...nowhere actually.  Still fun, though. 

Yes, I'm sure there has been more, but this is all I can remember.  Or all I care about.  More likely this is all that overlaps in a Venn diagram of things I can remember & things I care about. 

Monday, September 22, 2014

Let's try this again

My blogging (& pretty much everything else extra) has gone to complete nothing in the past two months.  Posts here have been of the queued up in advance variety or not at all.  Everything around me has ben exploding, in mostly good ways & no really bad ways, just exploding. The abundant rain has meant abundant roses...weeds & weeding & grass & mowing....  We had one planned big chore this year-a new roof.  & it is marvelous.  We had a handful of unplanned as well.  This is how the worst of them began:

That's a lie, actually.  It began-began with an outside pipe attached to an outside spigot that had corroded so badly that it (the spigot) needed to be replaced.  The hose was uncoupled & then we learned the hard way that nothing was supporting the plumbing pipes except the attachment to the hose on the outside & the toilet on the inside. 

Thus began two solid weeks of inconvenience as the whole apparatus had to be stabilized before it could be hooked back up.  This mean tearing up the wall in the bathroom, putting in a hole to access the plumbing doing the work & then backing back out, fixing the damage to wall, insulation & vapor barrier as we went.

As we were making there anyway, I asked if the replacement wall board could be recessed a bit s we could avoid the condensation on the back of the toilet would not get trapped against the wall as it always had before, resulting in a very scuzzy stain underneath the wallpaper & a not very attractive rippling of the wallpaper itself.  Seriously, this house was built by ass-holes.  Readers of this blog might remember the fun we had in the other bathroom when we discovered that toilet had been installed over a pipe that was jagged & broken, parts of the cracks originating well below the surface of the floor.  This time, we had a pretty shabby plumbing job & a toilet set about 2 inches to close to the wall.  & nothing we can do about the second unless we tear up the floor.  Say what you will about permits & such, this house would have benefitted from a couple once-overs from someone who gave a sh*t, even if it was just because it was his job.

The good news is the repair is in place, we are a two toilet house again (YAY).  Since I was stuck there anyhow, I started tearing off the wall paper & hope to have it all gone....soon.  & then I am going to paint.  The existing woodwork will all be that same color as the kitchen/dining/front-room Behr's  camembert.  As for the rest, I am still deciding.

For those who have been in close proximity to me & my cursing, this happened the week AFTER my husband decided to clean the to-the-outside dryer vent & then dropped it through the hole in the house, behind the washer&dryer, necessitating the removal of both to get back there & recover the vent as well as clean up the years' worth of dryer vent fuzz that spilled underneath the appliances.   This was, however the same bathroom as that momentous event. 

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Blubber & Clover

Every year around this time, I fold a book I might otherwise not read (or reread) into the pile in honor of Banned Books Week.  This year, I read (listened to) Blubber.  & yes, I know I has probably never been banned although it is often challenged.  What caught my eye was WHY it is so often suggested to be inappropriate for school libraries.

The book is, to be brief, about bullying.  & brace yourself:  the bullies are never really punished.  Even better (or worse) when the bullied have a chance to bully back, do they...you bet!  & the problem with this is it sends the wrong message.  Apparently.  Because that is of course in the eye of the beholder.  Since the narrator is first person, anyone reading (listening!) has ringside seats in her experiences, injustices, etc.  there are very few adult-originated repercussions, but there is plenty of lesson to go around, if that is what you think every book on every school library shelf should be about.  SIDEBAR// this circuitous reasoning kind of made me laugh:  I have a problem with this book, therefore it should not be available to anyone.  That's right, I am bullying you out of access to a book about bullying because the bullies are inadequate punished.  Now everyone try & think of a way to punish THIS bully.

So I read Blubber.  Listened to, I listened to Blubber.  It was not familiar so I doubt I had encountered it before.  Which brings me to the other book I read during banned books month: Clover.  I had never read Clover either (it was published in 1991 & not that I didn't read children's books in my 20s, I was not exactly the demographic) although I had heard of the movie-mostly because of the cast.

Here is the thing about Clover:  it is a gentle, quiet book about a death immediately following a wedding.  A black man marries a white woman that his daughter, Clover, is none to sure about & then he dies in a car accident.  Everything that was changing, changes again.  I am not going to tell you anything else, read it don't read it, whichever you like. 

But here is the funny thing:  I looked & looked & looked & could find no where that Clover was ever challenged.  Maybe we are getting better after all. 

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

A second update on the Cotton Robin post or Why I did what I did next

http://uselessranch.blogspot.com/2014/07/an-overdue-cotton-robin-post-or-why-i.htmlWhen I left off last week, I had sent the center block with the first border I added on to its next stage.  & then I had a good long time to stare at my own spare center & the border I had added to it.  Unlike last time, I had no idea what I wanted to do next.

Soooo...this time I decided to let it lie until the next Cotton Robin block (a different center plus someone else's first border) got here which did not happen until late March (more or less the deadline, so that was hardly a problem).   But I had sent my first round off very early; I knew the beginning of March would be madness.  Even though I had no idea what would arrive & even if I knew which of the starting centers I was getting, I could not guess what the last person might have done, I still kept going back to look at all the possible centers I might get-which was all of them minus my own & the one I had just shipped off. 

Then, shortly after that I happened to be looking at the blog of another Cotton Robin member & there big as life was my focus fabric in a completely different kind of project.  & I couldn't help it, my brain started rolling in a completely different direction.  Between this & the length of time between rounds, my Cotton Robin fever had a chance to subside (a good thing). 

Then it arrived.  I followed the same drill as the first time:  I took a picture & put it where I would see it several times a day (the fridge).  I would love to be able to clip the actual quilt-in-progress to the fridge, but I really did not want to get it dirty.  & I had a small but steady fear the magnet clip would fail & slowly creep down the fridge & a dog would tear it into pieces.  So.  Picture. 

At this point, I had been feeling guilty for a while that the border I made for the previous center was "not sophisticated enough".  I could always see the border I made my own block was "more", but the first center I was given was more complex than my own center had been.  & if I had made the same border I still think it would have detracted rather than enhanced that center.  I also turned that block around super-quick, mostly because March 3rd was the Monday of Spring Break & I knew that week & the week after would be hell (the deadline to get it where it was going was March 20th; if I didn't get it done early I was almost certain to be late), but this was contributing to my guilt.  If I had been able to keep it longer, would I have done "more"...?  Probably not. 

The block arrived with a note from the previous rounder.  She had gone a bit bigger than planned & hoped I could work with it.  I thought what she had done was way-worth the extra space & started thinking small for my own round.  The detail in the center was also small scale, so small seemed the order of the day.  Applique is really not my thing, never mind small applique & I thought the triangle round could not be matched so I thought about small & square.  Square & small.  I cruised a few quilt shops looking for batiks & hand dyes & eventually settled on a blue, a green & a brown that I thought worked with what was already in use.

The more I looked at the picture, the more I realized there was a wave type pattern throughout the whole block:  waves in the fabric dye, waves in the center curls & a wave across the peaks of the triangles of the border & I really wanted to continue that.  First though, I needed to make a narrow border to top off what came before.  I could not find anything like the very pale blue that is the background of the first border, so I went with brown instead.  I was fortunate that my predecessor had stay-stitched just under 1/4" from the edge, making it very easy to catch her perfect points. I added a 1.5" strip knowing that I would be trimming it down to whatever worked best with whatever I did next.

Because the center is on a small scale & again because a note was included the first border was a bit wider than intended (& worth every extra bit of space), I wanted to keep things small but interesting.  To that end, I mapped out a wave pattern using the batik fabrics I acquired.  In an effort not to distract from the complex center & elegant first border, I decided to go with a modified checkerboard.  The strips started at 1.5" so the whole thing was less than 6" all around.  I did add a very wide (2") border around the whole thing, but that was because I like to "quilt off" into extra border that I can cut away.

For my own I did go for a busier checkerboard & I didn't worry about being too large-I'm the one who will live with it & if it's OKay with me it's OKay. 

That I made another simple border was not lost on me.  But at least this time I made more or less the same one for my own center.  Somewhere in here the notification went up that two people were dropping out, deadlines were being extended & so forth, but I was already in gear & mailed this center with the second round border by the original deadline. Just as well, as I was mailing overseas & it took a bit longer en route than I would have liked.  Still it arrived where it was going well before the final center now with two borders arrived here.