Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Saint Egwin

There is something runner-up about the eve before New Year's Eve (not that I have done anything interesting these past New Year's Eves, unless you think sleeping through it is interesting) & there is something a bit runner-up about Egwin, too.  Even the calendar does not think anyone is likely to have heard of this guy. But he founded Eveshem Abbey which I am reliable informed is something a person might actually have heard of. I thought it sounded familiar & then realized it comes up in an Agatha Raisin novel. Egwin himself, to the best of my recollection, does not.

Things began innocently enough:  Egwin was of noble blood, but he was most popular among the proletariat for his protection of widows & orphans.  His fellow clergy, on the other hand, found him overly strict, I presume in a nothing-to-do-with-widows-&-orphans way.  Although I could be wrong, as apparently he was quite the advocate of until-death-us-do-part marriage & clerical celibacy.  One source says, clear as day "There was a need in his diocese for some reform, but Egwin let it get out of hand".  Whatever the case may be, eventually the populist tide turned & Egwin was on the outs.

The man decided to go plead his case to the Pope & did so with one of the great show stopping numbers of religious theater:  declaring himself innocent, Egwin still had himself shackled as though he had been convicted & threw the key into the River Avon.  He traveled, still shackled  & in a not entirely adventure-free manner until he was just this far from his audience with the Pope.  The whole company stopped in Rome, one of Egwin's disciples caught a fish & in it lo & behold The Key!  Is it really any wonder the charges were annulled after that?  It's like a grander, cross-continental, piscine version of the Checkers Speech.

As with Nixon, the story does not end there,  Egwin went home to England, was received with much accolades by the king (no mention of how his original congregation received him).  As ?reward?, Egwin asked for the very plot of land on the River Avon from which the key had been thrown.  Conspiracy theorists among you are now saying "Wait a minute!", but apparently he had a vision.  & following this vision (of virgins & shepherds) he knew he had to dedicate that very spot & it became Evesham Abbey.  This that & the other thing, he more or less retired from public life to govern his abbey.  An abbey that had been given the unusual dispensation to solicit gifts directly from Englands's monarchs while being exempt from any papal or other oversight, which enabled him to live in comfort until he died. 

I do not know if the 8th century is indeed so very different from today but if say Dick Cheney were to leave public office & go live in a very comfortable bunker somewhere, I would not assume it was because he was beloved by the people as the records re: Egwin maintain.  I might even go so far as to wonder if it might actually be the opposite.

But I promised you a runner-up story & here it is:  Egwin turns out to be more or less just a guy but Evesham Abbey--it has everything.  The drama & intrigue, the growth of the town at it's feet, the resisting Henry VIII, the eventual picturesque ruin.  Egwin in all of his corruption &/or glory was just the opening act. 

& a Happy New Year's Eve Eve to you.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Baby snowballs for June

I do not know when I got my heart set on a "snowball in June" themed swap, but once these things take hold it is best to just let them have their way.  So our third swap block for 2010, due Saturday June 26th is a snowball block.

A snowball block in general is a square conceptually divided into 9 squares with the corners in an alternate fabric.  The quickest way to make them is to cut the snowball square from one fabric, in the unfinished dimension & then four smaller squares in the background fabric. The smaller squares will be 1/3 the FINISHED snowball + 1/2" for the seam.  

You can choose among THREE snowball blocks.  That is you can make five of any one of these (but please do not mix & match, unless you want to make five of one & five of another).  One reason for the variations is to give people who would rather do less piecing & more appliqueing (or foundation piecing or broderie perse or redwork or something else a bit more snazzy) a space to do that.

You can make either 5 four patch snowballs OR 5 nine patch snowballs, all that changes is the dimension of your fabric units.  The techniques is the same .  You could also make 5 big single snowballs with something special in the center of the block, something special being something appliqued or embroidered, something extra.  The block will be 9" finished/9.5" unfinished.  Pastel or bright or primary colors are perfectly fine, as are novelty prints-especially kids prints.  The overall idea is "baby quilt". So let's begin Baby Snowballs:

To make either the 2x2 (or 3x3) snowball cut four (nine) squares of 5" (3.5") of the snowball fabrics & then four background squares for each snowball.  If you want, you can alternate fabrics so that the snowball fabric for one unit is the corner-background fabric for another but you certainly do not have to do that.  This would be a good time to use up any baby scraps you have lying around (& if you do the 3x3 grid AKA the 9-patch snowball you can use up some very small pieces indeed).  The corner-background squares for the 4-patch would be 2" & for the 9-patch would be 1.5"

If you are going to make the just-one-snowball-per-block block you need one 9.5" piece for the snowball itself & four 3.5" squares for the background HOWEVER do not make this version of the block unless you are doing something extra, such as appliqueing in the center of the snowball.  This is so important I am going to repeat it:  please do not make the single snowball blocks & not do something else by-way of extra (applique or embroidery or what-have-you).

As always, you can send as many sets as you like, so long as they are in sets of FIVE.  All of your sets do not need to be the same, but they can be (this does, however, increase the likelihood of getting one of your own blocks back).  Within each set, the blocks should be more or less the same; please do not mix&match the three kinds of snowball blocks within a single set.  & of course, extra 6th blocks for the community project are always welcome. 

//If you not currently part of the swap group, but you are interested in joining our swap group, you are very very welcome BUT it would make my life A LOT easier if you joined through Facebook.   Log into Facebook, search "quilt block swap" & find the Group.  There will be a picture of the current block as the profile photo.  Ask to join & you should be approved within a day or two.  If you are not on Facebook, but still interested, leave a comment after this post with your e-mail address HOWEVER be warned:  I really cannot do trouble-shooting, take future block suggestions, handle requests to receive 6th blocks, etc. via individual e-mail messages.  The advantage of doing it all through Facebook is all the information is in one place you can check at your leisure.

Floral sunny lanes for April

The second 2010 Facebook Quilt Block Swap block is more complicated ( & more obscure) than previous blocks.  While the group has a good mix of brand new beginners & very advanced artisans & everyone in between, for the first year we did either simple blocks or people could find their own level.  For example the first swap was 9-patch of any kind & there were 9-patches of all kinds, some simple & some complex.

For our April block everyone will have to 1) work with some smaller-than-usual pieces & 2) deal with 1/2-square triangles.   I will lay out the directions so anyone who is new to the triangle-thing can learn it, but obviously you should feel more-than-free to use whatever method works for you.  All that matters is the block you end up with.

Without further ado, I choose a block called Sunny Lanes & for the purposes of this swap at least one fabric needs to be a floral print of some kind.

Sunny Lanes Brackman number is 1144 for those who are interested (the floral thing was just something I threw in there).  I had received many requests for something more challenging,  as well as something that worked with other blocks for an overall effect. One of the specific blocks named as meeting these criteria was Jacob's Ladder & I would have gone with it except it would have meant we would be doing nothing but 9-patches for the first 1/2 of the year & I thought maybe I could do, well, not better but different.  For the purposes of this swap at least one fabric needs to be a floral print of some kind.

Sunny Lanes is a 4 patch with four patches & 1/2 squares triangles in it.  You will need light & dark fabrics to make the triangles & medium fabrics for the smaller 4-squares.  In fact, for this block to 'work', the half square triangle MUST be dark & light & the 4-patches MUST be medium, so please choose your fabrics with this in mind.  It is perfectly OKay to use scraps for the entirety so long as the lights go in the light spots, the darks in the dark spots & the mediums in the medium spots.  Again, for this swap at least one & preferably more of the fabrics you choose should have a floral print.  The block will be 12" finished/12.5" unfinished.  The block requires eight (8) half square triangles & eight (8) mini-4patches.  So lets begin Floral Sunny Lanes.

Part One- There are gazillions of ways to make the half square triangles & as long as you end up with 3.5" half square triangles it does not much matter which technique you use.  I am providing the steps how I make them I make them this way because it is the easiest & most accurate way to use up irregular & smaller pieces of fabric:

1. Cut four 4" squares from you light fabrics & four 4" squares from your dark fabrics.  You can use the same light & same dark throughout the block or you can use up scraps.   On the back of the light square, with a pencil or marker that will not run make a straight line from one corner to the other.  Ultimately this will be your cutting line, so you do not need to worry about it washing out or fading.  Pin the other two corners.

2. Stitch 1/4" from this line on either side.  I find the easiest way to do this without getting the points jammed into the machine is to chain piece (just keep stitching without stopping to cut in between) while alternating which side of the line you are stitching.

3.  Once you have sewn 1/4" on both sides of the line, unpin & cut on the center line.  Press open.  It is possible your triangle will need to be squared up, remember the size you want it to be is 3.5".  Also, cut away any threads (if you did not chain piece) & trim the pointy-bits from the ends of the seam. 

Part Two- The mini 4-patches are not so complicated.  The hardest thing about them is their diminutive size.  As with each half square triangle you want to work with a 3.5" unit.  Therefore, each of the squares within the mini 4-patch begins as a 2" square. Again, you can assemble these as you wish, you can strip piece them, you can use up smaller scraps, you can make conventional 2 fabric 4-squares or use a unique fabric for each square.  The only rule is that ALL of the fabrics comprising the mini 4-squares should be medium shades.  If you are not sure whether or not your fabric is a medium, put it between the dark & the light you have selected for your half square triangles.  If you are still unable to confirm it is a medium, you should consider whether or not the dark or the light you have chosen really medium.  Just like the half-square triangles, you will need 8 mini 4-patches for each block

Part Three- Each block is made up of 4 smaller units, there are two layouts for these smaller units (although they are both made of  2 half-square triangles & 2 mini 4-squares).  You will need two of each for each block. While both have half-square triangles &min 4-squares opposite each other, one as the dark sides of the triangle both pointing to the center, the other has the dark triangles pointing one direction & the light triangles in the other.

After choosing the block, working out the unit sizes, etc. I found there was another version of it on-line at Quilters Cache, an excellent resource if you have not yet discovered it.  You might note that the triangles are handled differently than I have described or is diagrammed in the Encyclopedia of Quilt Patterns, from which I took the block.  There is nothing wrong with this variation but because this is such a busy block, it would probably be better if everyone did the same version.

Finally, If you not currently part of the swap group, but you are interested in joining our swap group, you are very very welcome BUT it would make my life A LOT easier if you joined through Facebook.   Log into Facebook, search "quilt block swap" & find the Group.  There will be a picture of the current block as the profile photo.  Ask to join & you should be approved within a day or two.  If you are not on Facebook, but still interested, go to this post & leave a comment there.

Patriotic tossed nines for February

In February the Facebook Quilt Block Swap Group will celebrate our first full year.  We will also be swapping our seventh set of quilt blocks.  The way our swap works is you send me five of the same block, I swap them with other blocks received from other swappers &amp you get five (hopefully) different ones back. Blocks must be in-house by the deadline- always the last Saturday of an even numbered month or, in this case, Saturday February 27th, 2010.  Blocks are swapped on Sunday of the same week-end & brought to the Post Office on Monday.

Along with your five blocks you need to include a self addressed, stamped envelope to return your blocks to you.  If you use the same size envelope as you mailed your original blocks out in, postage should be exactly the same.

You can send as many sets as you like, so long as they are in sets of FIVE.  All of your sets do not need to be the same, but they can be (this does, however, increase the likelihood of getting one of your own blocks back).  Within each set, the blocks should be more or less the same.

You can also include a 6th Block.  The 6th Block will go to whatever person or persons have asked for the 6th Blocks for that particular swap to make a quilt (or quilts) for a community service type project.  There are some other guidelines for 6th Blocks & they are all on the Facebook group.  This months group is Quilts of Valor & one of the original swap group swappers is getting these blocks to make a quilt from the group. 

Enough about that, here is this month's swap block:  Patriotic Tossed Nines

1.  Cut 5" squares of eight different red, blue, red&blue, red&white. blue&white OR red&white&blue fabrics.  you will also need one 5" square in white for the center.  A note about colors:  In the example, I used white muslin, but white in this instance means reads as white.  it could be white on white, it could be a soft cream (but not a light brown, please), it could be white with another color in it very peripherally.  If you are looking at a piece of fabric & are unsure if it "reads as" white or blue or red or whatever, it is best to avoid it.

2.  Assemble a traditional 9-patch (again, the center square must be white) using the 1/4" seam allowance.  If it is easier for you make strips & cut them down, then by all means do it that way.

3.  Once the 9-patch is assembled, cut it in half through the center

& then again, lengthwise.

4.  Turn two of the opposite pieces so that the small white square that had been on the inside are now opposite outside corners. 

5. Reassemble so the four squares again become a single block & STOP.  When you get your swapped blocks back you will want to square them HOWEVER it makes sense for this to be done right before assembling the squares. 

      Remember to make enough blocks to swap (5), maybe even one to donate (the 6th Block) & at least one to keep. 

      //If you not currently part of the swap group, but you are interested in joining our swap group, you are very very welcome BUT it would make my life A LOT easier if you joined through Facebook.   Log into Facebook, search "quilt block swap" & find the Group.  There will be a picture of the current block as the profile photo.  Ask to join & you should be approved within a day or two.  If you are not on Facebook, but still interested, go HERE & leave a comment after this post with your e-mail address HOWEVER be warned:  I really cannot do trouble-shooting, take future block suggestions, handle requests to receive 6th blocks, etc. via individual e-mail messages.  The advantage of doing it all through Facebook is all the information is in one place you can check at your leisure.

      Want to join a block swap...on Facebook?

      The next three posts (one Monday, one Tuesday & one Wednesday) are the directions for the next three Facebook Quilt Block Swap Group's swap blocks.  We swap blocks in sets of FIVE- you send five blocks & get five blocks sent by other swappers back.  You can make as many sets of five as you like, joining only those swaps that interest you.  We also collect 6TH BLOCKS, that is a block in addition to the five, that goes to one of the group who makes a community project type quilt.  There is a little more to it than that, actually, & you can find all the details on the group page.  Lastly, you also need to include a self addressed, stamped envelope to return your blocks to you.  Envelopes with insufficient postage will take a very very long time to get back to you so the best idea is to use the same size & weight of envelope you sent your blocks in & affix the same postage.

      If you are not currently part of the swap group, but you are interested in joining our swap group, you are very very welcome BUT it would make my life A LOT easier if you joined the group through Facebook.   Log into Facebook, search "quilt block swap" & find the Quilt Block Swap Group.  There will be a picture of the current block as the profile photo.  Ask to join & you should be approved within a day or two.

      If you are not on Facebook, but still interested in swapping & just need the mailing address, leave a comment with your e-mail address & I will send you that information but be warned:  I really cannot do trouble-shooting, take future block suggestions, handle requests to receive 6th blocks, etc. via individual e-mail messages. 

      The blocks & their deadlines are:

      Patriotic Tossed  Nines - Saturday, February 27, 2010
      Sunny Floral Lanes - Saturday, April 24, 2010
      Baby Snowballs - Saturday, June 26, 2010

      Blocks are swapped on Sunday & brought to the Post Office on Monday.

      Results from our first swap in February 2009 can be seen here.

      Sunday, December 20, 2009

      Melabee in color

      Yes we are still grinding our way through The Canterbury Tales & I am really really hoping this was the low point.  I am also taking a deep deep breathe & plan to revisit it-yes, I really do & all because of The Cook, the Thief, his Wife & her Lover.

      I actually like (it is hard to say enjoyed) this movie.  I did even the first time I saw it.  As E***** described "I do not really care for movies with brutal rape scenes but in this movie it would have been a kind of relief".  I understand it now has an X rating; when I saw it, it was just flagged "Foreign" & the guy at the movie theater who sold us our tickets made sure we were absolutely clear there would be no refunds.  A*****, E*****'s daughter, swears the movie is about color & I think she might be right.  I caught that it worked with color that first go-round but that it might actually be about color makes sense too.

      That is almost all I want to say about that, except I think Melabee is another one of those stories that is about something else.  First, there is the surface story which is an excruciating discussion of why Melabee cannot exact revenge on those who have wronged him (by assaulting his daughter & wife, too, I think-it was hard to stay alert).

      Not so very far underneath that are two competing themes.  The first a parody of the husband as head of the house & the second a sort of 14th Century version of People magazine, in that randomly attributed spewings are all rehashed in an "if you do not know who this is you should not be here" kind of way.  Neither one of these interest me much;  I only read People magazine when I am at the allergist getting my shots & now that Jon&Kate cannot seem to get off the cover, I mostly just look at the walls.

      But I think there must be something else, right?  Gratuitous violence should be easier than this.  The wounds to the daughter (& wife, I think) are just so oddly placed.  Also, I think there might be coded messages in the order that philosophers are referenced.  Maybe it is like Hamlet, & it turns out the whole thing is based on actual history, right down to the carnage.

      I am convinced it cannot be quite so black & white as it appears.

      Friday, December 18, 2009

      Scraps gone wild

      A few weeks ago, when I did the string quilt trunk show, I also got back (temporarily) one of my other quilts.  I consider it a string quilt but no one else does so  I will let you be the judge:

      Yes, these are more of the omnipresent Classic Pooh scraps.  Two of my mothers three grandchildren had Classic Pooh nurseries (the other had all trademark figures banned; we are not a family of compromise).  Then there are all the other babies born around me & what with living so near the Magic Kingdom, most people consider Pooh a basic.  Like black.  Or plaid.

      It made sense to buy what I saw on sale & just hang on to it.  When I got down to more minuscule pieces, it was hard to just toss them, so I would run them through the machine "just to catch the threads".  Then I would iron them, to practice my ironing...?  They would grow into these odd, amorphous, blobby shapes -much like the man himself- only to be squared off, sewn together & Voila!  Scraps gone wild.

      Years after I made this first scraps gone wild quilt top, I came across someone in blog-land (I do not remember who, I would give you credit if I did) who framed her scraps on three sides with white.  She was going for ultimately uniform squares but still it segwayed nicely into what I was already doing.  What with printing a lot of photos on fabric I have a lot of strips of bleached muslin.

      So I have started to add scraps, orphans block parts, previously unused scraps gone wild to the strips.  When I have a few in more or less the same width, I attach them.  Then maybe border them in white.  & keep going.

      I have become one of those cooks who is more interested in the left-overs than the main course.

      Wednesday, December 16, 2009

      "Show me the money"

      It took me a month to settle down enough to write this post & another few weeks to edit it:

      Way back when, I sat STOOPIFIED as a ranking member of the NAACP told people that all this objection to Michael Vick was because he was black. Really? It could not possibly be because he shows the signs of an embryo serial killer? Who happens to be black? I admit this pushed a button with me as I have a family member who is convinced that everyone who disagrees with him is an anti-semite. Even other jews that disagree with him are secretly self loathing. That someone might disagree with his opinion (or dislike him for wholly un-semite related reasons) is just not possible.

      But back to Michael Vick:  there used to be talk (& maybe there still is) about how animal rights activists were rushing to judgment.  Again - really?  Because isn't that what a conviction is-a judgment?  I remain entirely unclear "what time will tell" except how well he plays football & how much cash that generates.  Or are we waiting to see if he gets caught operating a hobby-dog-fighting ring again or torturing animals again or whatever & then rethinking whether he or not he is might not be such a great guy who was just at the wrong place that one time?

      What is starting to come out, though is that a large, financial machine did indeed, rush to judge him, it rushed to judge him rehabilitated. & that, after reading court documents, it would seem Vick had a second chance when his juvenile records were sealed. & had another second chance when his college coaches intervened for him. & has already doubled up on second chances since joining the Eagles, when they argued that drinking in a bar was not in fact a violation of his parole (& opening the door for ANY parole violator busted in the same way to get sprung because a precedent has been set).

      I am told that the Eagles & Vick are gearing up for the post-season.  I do not know, I do not take much interest in football (is it like hockey where virtually everyone plays post-season?), nothing to do with Michael Vick.  The other thing gearing up:  high school & college football players crashing & burning (& drunk driving & shoplifting) & every one of them is certain it will all be forgiven.  Why wouldn't they be?

      Just for fun I like to google "football player arrested".  Since I started this little game, there are always at least 5 (& often more like 8 out of 10) unique arrests that have occurred within the year.  I thought I would try a few others: Baseball, Volleyball & the famously violent Hockey.  There were only two Hockey player arrests that came up for the previous year: one hit & run & one tried to hire someone to kill his boyfriend.  Volleyball was even lamer.  Baseball, that gentlest of contact sports, is almost on par with Football, though not so close as Basketball.  So what do Baseball, Basketball & Football have in common that Hockey & Volleyball do not?  Very large third party financial interests.

      Sunday, December 13, 2009

      This is what happens when you get edumacated in the Magic Kingdom

      Not quite ten years ago nineteen people took over four airplanes & flew them into buildings in New York City & Washington DC & a field in rural Pennsylvania & for a long time after that, no one wanted to get on a plane.  Yes, I know there were a lot of other things that came of it, but for the purposes of this story....

      Here in Fladidah, we make a lot of our operating cash off of people who do not actually operate here.  This business of not getting on planes was a big big problem because no one brought their money here & the industry (& I do mean INDUSTRY) that revolves around the practice of overcharging touristas was feeling the pain.  Along with many many other such entities, Disney's Epcot Center threw open their doors & offered state residents significantly reduced entrance fees during specific week-days. 

      I am not now & was not then a particular fan of Disney.  I am naturally suspicious of any large corporate entity.  Also I was not crazy about the mickeyfying of every story (Scrooge McDuck?  Really?)

      Still we thought, lets see how Disney educates the youngsters.  Well, it was quite the eye opener.  & the biggest eye opener of all was the Monsanto Loves the People of the Earth exhibit.  It would be correct to say it kind of made my skin crawl.  Even A, who is not so likely to get amped up as me, kept shaking his head at the people lining up to hear a commercial (because whether there is a amusement park ride involved or not, endless platitudes about the wisdom of spraying your crops with Monsanto products is still a commercial).

      We left the Agriculture-is-your-friend-so-long-as-you-are-on-the-other-end-of-a-large-piece-of-machinery Pavillion & went to have lunch.  In France.  A funny thing about France, a friend of mine teaches middle school to the Epcot employed offspring & she tells me she has a hard time convincing her students the the countries that border each other in International Plaza do not actually necessarily border each other in real life.  She discovered this was a problem when talking about World War II;  there was some confusion about Germans having to travel through Japan & Morocco to get to France.  I do not remember much about lunch except we were served white bread.  I have been to France.  I do not think they know what white bread is. They also served wine, which is how we happened to settle on France.

      A while ago, another friend was doing an installation in one of the Epcot places-something to do with language & soy sauce...  Anyhow, he told me he often had lunch in Germany (where they serve beer) & then take a short walk around the plaza.  Although I cannot find it on the map he swears that Israel was somewhere near Norway (which I do kind of remember myself, you know, from geography class)  & one of his great joys was to watch the young Arab men pass by the blonde beauties of the Land of the Midnight Sun that are the stock-in-trade of international consumer marketing & make straight for the Israeli girls, who clearly had been chatted up by every Arab male over the age of five in the park & were frankly ready for something completely different.  He swears it happened every day & he was there for months.

      So it seems there are some things you cannot teach people to buy, even in the Magic Kingdom.

      Saturday, December 12, 2009

      Monk monkey in the middle or Tit for tat

      It was 200 years too early for "Neither a borrower no a lender be" but somehow Chaucer managed a new slant with the Shipman's Tale.  The only guy who is happy is the guy who is both a borrower & a lender, the individual borrower & the individual lender mostly just get screwed.

      Let me give you the highlights:
      • There is a guy.  He wants to sleep with his friend-cousin's wife.  The friend-cousin is clueless, the wife slightly less so. 

      • There is the wife.  Her husband makes plenty of money, in her view, for her to have nice things:  richer clothes, etc., but he is not so generous as she would like or even so generous as she has spent in a Chaucerian credit card debt kind of way.

      • There is the husband.  He thinks the first guy is his friend.  He thinks he is happily married.
      The story goes like this.  For a long time the first guy has been visiting his friend-cousin, eating his food, sleeping under his roof & lusting after his wife.  First friend-cousin aka Husband-friend-cousin sees nothing amiss in the longing looks his buddy casts his wife's way.  In fact, I never got that he even noticed.  I did not really even get that she much noticed.  Either my middle english is not great (which is true) or these two are quite the pair of rubes (also true).

      One day, Husband-friend-cousin confides in Lecherous-friend-cousin that he 1) needs to go away on business 2) would like to park some cash somewhere short-term & 3) thinks his wife could stand to be watched.  Lecherous-friend-cousin says no problem & by the way he is temporarily light & maybe he could get a small loan...?  No problem right back at him, money moves from Husband-friend-cousin to Lecherous-friend-cousin & all is well when Husband-friend-cousin hits the road.

      Lecherous-friend-cousin is happy to gift/loan same $$ to the wife & they have a wonderful athletic time together.  Husband-friend-cousin returns, Lecherous-friend-cousin leaves but not before a brief "where's my money?", "Why I gave it to your wife of course".  When the husband asks the wife what she did with it she says "Uhmmmmm I thought it was reimbursement for being such a lengthy house guest, but I will pay you back Husband by charging you for sex".  

      Oh yea, Lecherous-friend-cousin, the guy who is both a borrower & a lender, the only wholly happy person in this tale:  he's a monk.

      Thursday, December 10, 2009

      What would Sandy do?

      I come from a family of avid & yet moderate Red Sox fans.  What does that look like?  Well, during the regular season it is Red Sox all the way.  & this years post season, they rooted for the Yankees because they are the same division.  That's right, no rabid saliva streaming "Yankees must die" rants.  It is just we would rather see the Red Sox lose, after all they choke with such style, than the Yankees win but if it is going to be the Yankees well it is going to be the Yankees.

      Some of my fondest baseball-listening memories are of listening to Yankee games on the radio (baseball is just better on the radio).  Fondest retrospectively anyhow.  At the time, Phil Rizzuto's rambling about nothing happening on the field for inning after inning could get old. He would yak yak yak & then get around to giving the score, which was nowhere near what it had been.  I still remember the day he & his co-broadcaster (I think it was Bill White) disagreed about something & the other guy asked if Rizzuto was going to have some of his Money Store buddies talk with him.   Lately though, the Yankee I have been thinking about is Sandy Koufax.  & wondering what he would do.

      Within days of the final exam date being assigned for A's class this semester someone observed it fell on one of the nights of Chanukah, neither the first nor the last, but one of the other six.  There was concern what this might mean for those students who could not be asked to sit an exam during a religious holiday.  This was a kind of funny concern, especially  1) Chanukah begins the day before exams begin & ends the day after exams end;  there is no such thing as an exam being given this semester that is NOT on a day of Chanukah & 2) of the three professors responsible for this particular large lecture, two of them are Jewish.  So far the administration has not suggested they sit out exams as well.

      Sandy Koufax, for those of you not in the know, missed the opening game of the 1965 World Series because it fell on Yom Kippur.  So we know what Sandy did.  Still, what would Sandy do?  Because  Yom Kippur is a very big deal & Chanukah is just plain not as important.  Also, Sandy made it to the second game of same series; he did not sit out the whole thing.

      So what to do for the (potential) student who says he cannot take this (or any) exam because of  Chanukah?  The clincher might have to be: what did he do for the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th & 7th nights of Chanukah last year?

      I had to look it up, but for those nights of Chanukah in previous years, one of the two Jewish professors in this fable kept his office hours, attended his lectures & even proctored an exam.  If anybody did not take that one because it was Chanukah, he never mentioned it. 

      //One of my brothers has a special name for the Red Sox:  Lords of the Rookie Mistake.  Someday I will write a novel & that just might be the title.

      Tuesday, December 8, 2009

      Jane of Cácere

      For reasons I am not clear on, almost every reference to Jane of Cacere is in Chinese. Not reading Chinese I have only the faintest idea why. OKay, I do not even have that. As today is also the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, most of the calendars are full of that event & have passed over Jane completely.

      & it is easy to see why. The Feast is a celebration of one of the great leaps of faith it takes to be a catholic, maybe even a christian. I have always been amused by the term "leap" in the expression "leap of faith"; from my perspective it looks more like a surrender. I once told my bookclub that I thought religious dogmas of all kinds teach people to be gullible. I was surprised that the churchgoer among us agreed (yes, we only had one in those days).

      In any event it is hard to find much about Jane. There are so many Janes. & she was a Benedictine nun & abbess who spent most of her life cloistered. & she was killed in her church (her home, her workplace) by an invading army. As women's deaths go, it does not get much more anonymous or garden-variety than that.

      There is so much more to say on this that I have completely run out of steam. If you are interested, the statistics are easy enough to find.

      If Jane is long gone & almost forgotten, Caceres, Spain is still there. It is a hard place to get a handle on. The Arabs came in the 8th century, the Jews were expelled in the 15th. In between, Caceres alternately thrived & suffered in that way borders in all eco-systems do. I am confident that if I got off the web & on the ground, I could find the story of Jane of Caceres easily. No doubt something now stands on the site of her martyrdom, & considering the longevity of the community it may well still be a church. On December 8th perhaps the young women of the town follow a statue covered in ribbons through the streets. Maybe they light candles & make predictions about how many children they will have. Maybe not.

      I think it is too hard to remember suffering that remains alive. Again I will not look too hard for those awful statistics. It is easier to celebrate something that could have only happened the once. Or not at all. How do you celebrate the victim of a crime that is committed every day?

      Wednesday, December 2, 2009

      When bedbugs bite

      A month or two before I was due to visit Northern Climes, my hometown-ish newspaper made national headlines.  At least, I thought they had.  The short version is the watchdog reporter for the Hartford Courant was reported negatively (dare I say watchdoggedly) on one of the Courant's few remaining advertisers.  & then he was fired.

      I do not remember where I first heard about it, it really was almost certainly the radio, but you can find the story to read here.  I followed the whole thing, to the degree there was something to follow & rather figured that those who still subscribe to the Hartford Courant did, too.

      I figured wrong.  Not one person that I talked with on my return to Hartford County had any idea what had happened.  Even stranger, they had all noticed the absence of the watchdog reporter but thought his was one of several job cuts made over the past few month for budget reasons.  I know many newly former readers of the Hartford Courant have been disgusted with the combining of the paper & a local tv station (as I typed that last sentence, I pulled up the link to the station & indeed the headline story & photo were exactly the same).  After all, why buy a newspaper when they will plonk the exact same story on your television, no charge?  On a network you could not pay some people to watch?

      So bed bugs bit a consumer.  & then they bit a reported.  & several months later, they are just starting to bite the media operation that fired him.