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.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

It continues

My hazy July is looking to last right through today.  I guess the good news is August is mostly on track.  So far.  Which is more than I could say for July on the last day of June.

The July block swaps -both sign-up only- were their own mini-disaster.  That's not fair, actually.  Well Preserved went mostly fine.  One person injured herself & was a day or so late but she let me know ahead of time & she has never been late before.  It was Home for the Holidays that got in my grill.  That can all wait for another post.  Today I am trying to remember good things that happened in July: 
  • I killed my calendula (not good) but managed to collect seeds before she got flooded & the seedlings are doing well.  So far.
  • Last week, I could not face going where I was supposed to be & dawdled in the used bookstore I have not visited in well over a year & there, in the clearance cart on the sidewalk was a good-as-new copy of I Capture the Castle.  I almost wept.  & yes, I bought it. 
  • We have our new roof.  This was not actually a July-thing but this business of not worrying about leaks & having way more light (replaced skylight, installed sun tunnel) has enhanced my days.
  • My drawing class wrapped & I left feeling like I just might take another in the Fall.  In the hour before I needed to leave for class I would ask myself why I signed up for one more thing, but once I got there I was glad I made the effort.  Another funny thing- no matter how exhausted I was (& trust me I was exhausted) once I started drawing I wasn't.  After class the tired feeling came back but by then I was headed home & to bed so who cares.  Maybe different parts of my brain get used up at different rates.
  • I started kettlebelling.  It seems like an odd choice, I know.  Weights have never been my deal, also I have plenty of muscle (hauling 50lb bags of feed around will give you invisible muscles & milking a cow will make you the scourge of men who like to dominate with a hand shake), but I was watching a documentary (that Mariel Hemingway made about her family that I am still on the fence about) & she was flinging this thing around in the yard & I thought I could give that a try.  I love it.  Love It.  LOVE IT.  A***** told me about how boxing/kick-boxing/whatever it was (I am sorry, I love you but I don't remember what it is you DO) was too anger-dissipating for her to quit, despite being the only girl in class & not in a good way, despite the instructor getting frustrated with her, despite everything; getting mad as hell & lashing out just felt good.  Let me recommend kettlebell.  Flinging 7lbs around while screaming "how hard can it be to park in just one space" & other things of that ilk has kept me from killing people.  It probably helps that some part of most days it is nice enough to be outside & we have enough property that I can get well away from windows...& walls.  Because when I lose control of that thing it can take out a fence board (ask me how I know).
I am sure there were other good things in July.  & if these sound like low-grade good things trust me they were a big deal.