Monday, June 28, 2010

One woman's burden is another woman's valor

Remember when I was so jazzed to get rid of these squares that had been lurking in my demo-bag?  Yea, well I do.  & when I sent them to their new home with Green Eyed Silversmith I did not much care if her cub scout den used them for sewing practice or to clean the wood burning equipment (cub scouts still burn Do Your Best on blocks of wood & then varnish them, right?), just so long as I had them no more & could say, when I got the call, "sorry I do not have the materials to do that particular demo any more.  Could I interest you in something new?"

Anyhow, from that day to this I have not thought of them again.  OKay, that's a lie.  When I cleaned my demo-bag, I discovered another 1/2 dozen or so that had fallen to the bottom & pinned them up in my workroom.  I spent a week toying with the idea of using them for the Baby Snowballs block (patriotic babies-it happens), but I think instead they will form some of the houses in future Funky Town.

As for what I sent off, they were gone & that was fine.  I never expected to see them again.  & then this morning I was catching up on my quilting sites (it really has been an over-the-top-crazy-busy three months) & saw them, all quilted up!  Yes, yes, obviously she added at least as many of her own squares but I don't care.  I had started thinking of these squares as my quilting albatross & it turns out they still had some life in them.  Thank you J*******!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

What would Michael do?

There has not been much talk of Michael Vick lately.  Maybe because football season is over.  Maybe because of the headline-only nature of our news media.  Maybe because of the more recent devastation of one of country's most economically influential eco-systems.  Whatever the reason, it was possible today could pass us by without anyone saying Happy Birthday Michael Vick.

Michael Vick's background is not particularly auspicious.  He was born to an unmarried teenage couple & raised in a housing project.  He parlayed his exceptional skill into a college scholarship, but left before graduation to pursue what was a lucrative professional career.  His would have been a largely unremarkable story in the world of professional athletics, including but not limited to being accused of a felony, had he not included gross animal abuses in his repertoire.  The descriptions of the pleasure he took in...well..let's just say you probably would not want him dating your daughter no matter how much cash he pulls in.

So the direct question "what would Michael Vick do" probably does not need to be asked again.  I thought I would instead take a look at what he could maybe have done differently.  Vick's defenders insist that the kind of people who protest his behavior do not have any kind of inkling of what it takes to make it out of the projects, competing with everyone else who wants to make it out of the projects.  Okay fine.  It is also fair to say that as a white woman I know nothing about the kind of racism a black man could face in the American South.  Fair enough.  So let me present a very short list of other notable black men who got out from under Jim Crow:

Arthur Ashe:  It has been a long time since I have heard his name, but Arthur Ashe was first in lot of things.  He grew up in Richmond Virginia & while not a child of the projects, Richmond was a segregated city & Arthur, a small skinny runty boy was no one's idea of a future star athlete.   He did all the normal things, including serving a tour in the USArmy as well as many extra-ordinary ones.  Before there was Tiger Woods, or even Serena or Venus Williams, there was Arthur Ashe.  He used his position as a world class athlete to promote athletics, setting up scholarship programs, publishing historical research, ultimately earning an EMMY for the production of same.  He died of AIDS, most likely received during a blood transfusion, but not before making a name for himself as an activist, in AIDs awareness, but also against apartheid.  Like Vick, Ashe has a famous arrest record:  he was arrested outside the South African embassy protesting Apartheid & a few years later outside the White House protesting a crackdown on Haitian refugees.

Rubin Carter:  Paterson, NJ is not the deep south, but there is plenty of racism to go around.  Hurricane, as he is better known, was indeed a violent child & a violent man, but he is most famous for the crime he did not commit, largely because of the years he served anyhow.  Upon leaving prison, he left New Jersey, he left the US, but rededicated his life to helping others who had been wrongly convicted.

Too famous for you?  Maybe you need someone a little more every-day-joe?  Okay:

Vivien Thomas:  his grandparents had been slaves & his formal education ended with high school.  His personal ambitions dissolved with the onset of the Great Depression & his plan to become a doctor took a backseat to feeding his family.  He took a job cleaning up after the laboratory animals at Vanderbilt University.  The rest, as they say, is history, but at the time I am sure it seemed like the end of a dream.  With  Alfred Blalock, Vivien Thomas developed surgical techniques & tools that changed the field forever.

Cory Booker:  Actually, Booker grew up in affluent surroundings, prestigious education, the whole package.  His parents were among the first blacks employed by IBM, they were the ones that fought tooth & nail to scramble up.  Booker is notable for scrambling back.  For eight years, starting when he was elected to Newark's City Council, Booker lived in one of the city's housing projects:  no heat in winter, no hot water ever.  He left not long before the demolition crews arrived, relocating to a smaller building in one of Newark's most ravaged neighborhoods.  Early last month, he won another term as Mayor.

& for our final look-see how about someone who did everything he could to escape Jim Crow laws, only to be dragged back down by them:

Charles Drew:  I remember learning about Dr. Drew in a film strip (yes I am old enough to remember film strips) on notable negroes; I think the series was even called Notable Negroes in Science.  The film strip was not trying to be disrespectful, that is what many black people called themselves when I was a child.  Anyhow, Drew was born in Washington DC, a community still infamous for poverty.  Attended school, graduated Amherst, so he must have been studious, graduated  McGill University's medical program, taught at Howard College, but mostly he revolutionized the way blood was stored for transfusions, how the white & red blood cells were removed so that it could be handled as plasma.  Without his work, I know I would not be alive today, nor would my sister, nor just about anyone else who ever needed a transfusion.  Still, what I remember most about that film strip though was his death.  He died as a result of a car accident; he might have survived but the closest hospital was a white only hospital & he was not admitted. 

Everything that everyone of these men did could have been bettered by Vick.  He could have donated money, he could have been a spokesman for causes, he could have spoken at colleges & churches, he could have set up summer camps for kids just like himself.  There is almost no too-small effort he could not have made that would not have made a huge difference.  Instead he worked hard, paid much to make sure that violent despicable life people try to give him credit for outgrowing stayed with him.

I said it did not need to be asked, but I am asking anyhow:  what would Michael Vick do?  As far as I can tell, Michael Vick would do everything he could to keep the violent, limited life anyone in their right mind would work to leave behind with him always.  He reminds me of nothing so much as a turtle; you can take that turtle anywhere in the world & it will never leave it's shell.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Batik with 1/2 border for December

For the Facebook Quilt Block Swap in December (12/2010) we are doing two things:

FIRST a return to the more free-form block pattern choices of the first two swaps
SECOND limiting the fabric-type quite strictly for the first time ever.

You can make any 6" finished/6.5" unfinished block of your choosing.  Any 4-patch, any 9-patch, any block you like.  After you have completed the blocks, please add a 1.5" finished/2" unfinished border to two adjacent sides. (making it a 8" unfinished/7.5"  finished block, in the end).  In other words, once you have completed your blocks of any pattern you choose, so long as they are 6.5"/6" finished, add a 2" x 6.5" strip to one side, press & then add a 2" x 8" strip to an adjacent side.  & that's it, as far as block pattern goes.

The fabric is a different matter.  You must use only batiks or hand dyed fabrics.  No exceptions to this requirement.  If you send blocks with some batiks & some not-batiks (fabrics printed to look like batiks do not count as batiks), you will get your own blocks back.  More than half batiks/hand dyes with less-than-half other fabrics & you will still get them all back.  This is an all or nothing requirement for this swap, but I am hoping the flexibility with block choice will make up for it (& maybe let everyone use up scraps from a previous batik project).

All swap blocks are always due the last Saturday of an even numbered month, in this case December 25th.  Blocks will be swapped Sunday the 26th & brought to the post office on Monday, December 27th.  I do realize this is Christmas day & there is in fact no regular mail delivery on that Saturday.  Last year there were a few people who thought the deadline should be extended when the last Saturday was 12/26; the deadline was not moved & I do not know if they choose to sit the swap out or not, but we ended up with plenty to swap from.  In this case there are six months to prepare, which I feel is more than enough time for anyone to get their blocks in the mail to be here before December 25th.  As for making the deadline earlier to get blocks swapped & back out before Christmas, I expect to be in Honolulu during PacifiChem & then on until the 24th, so we would be looking at moving the deadline up by almost a month, which would just be silly.  Don't worry about your blocks going AWOL while we are gone, we have a caretaker who deals with everything (livestock, mail, water pumps, etc.) while we are away. 

In addition to your blocks you should include a return envelope of the same size with the same postage & your address already on it. If you are swapping from outside the US, please include the addressed envelope & a fat quarter to off-set the cost of your return postage (US swappers could do this, too, I suppose, but a fat quarter is more costly than the postage would be).

//I am having trouble posting this, I think because of the pictures, so this block swap direction is going up without pictures.  I am hoping because the block itself can be anything so long as it is 6.5" unfinished/6" finished that lack of photo-samples will not be a problem.  As for the border I hope this sketch helps; these are the FINISHED dimensions.

Funky town for October 2010

The October block swap has been a challenge for me.  The only clear front runner/popular requests have either been done recently or are already scheduled or are very similar to blocks we just did/are about to do as part of a special swap (think "stars").  Also, last year's October block had a limited showing, despite being a much requested block, I suspect because of the many things going on in September/October.  I don't know about the rest of you, but I actually have bigger chunks of free time in November/ December than I do as school starts, the days gets shorter & the whole slide through Rosh Hashannah & into Yom Kippur happens (which is doubly odd as we have no children & A is not  himself observant, but there you are).

So I decided that I would take a chance & instead focus on an idea rather than a specific block or color/fabric scheme.  So without further ado: we are making a funky town, each block being different building in our town.  I realize that this block is only likely to appeal to a minority within our overall swap group as we usually lean towards more traditional pieced blocks; I promise this is not a sign that is changing.  This is just a short summer-is-truly-over vacation to Funky Town & the next swap will ease us back to more conventional pieced blocks.

There are a variety of basic house blocks all over the internet, in books, on software.  By & large they are a central square or rectangle with a smaller rectangle representing door somewhere in there & a triangle-more-or-less shape for the roof.  These pieces are by no means set in stone (bahahahahahaha); any building you can come up with that fits in the overall dimension of 9.5" unfinished/9" finished is just groovy.

I made a few houses with something interesting in the windows.  This particular house is NOT part of the swap but was my contribution to a larger quilt on the theme "home for the holidays".  It just photographed the best.

For others I focused on the landscaping, or as in my case, city-scaping.  & do not feel you need to limit yourself to houses.  Schools, hospitals, barns, shops, churches, synagogues, go crazy.  Plant gardens, fly flags or anything else you can think of. 

Still others I just kinda winged it, liberated quilt-style.  My only self-imposed rule was to keep anything pointy or important more than 1/2" in from the border, so it would not be trimmed away.  The frequently seen white outer border is more about my stash than any planning.

As you look at traditional house block patterns, you will see that many have a border around the whole thing but others do not.  For this reason you might want to make your block slightly smaller & then add a border.  That being said, there is no reason any special background feature (that does not involve potential clipped points) cannot be carried out to the edge.  The NYCityscape block could lose up to 1/4" on all four sides & it would not make much difference. 

If you are still on the fence &/or completely clueless what you might do with these blocks: one set of six (your five to swap & one you keep for yourself) would make happy place mats or even a table runner.  Four blocks could be a fun wall hanging.  & any number at all could make a cute fabric book along the lines of the bingo block color book.  As of this posting, a 6th block quilter has not yet come forward.  These could make a kids quilt, but I honestly do not think they are just for kids.  They could just as easily work for a Habitat for Humanity quilt or a cheerful Hospice quilt or...don't let me limit your thinking.  If someone is interested in being the 6th block person, you must make that request through the FaceBook Quilt Block Swap Group.

& last but not least, if you absolutely don't feel up to striking out on your own, Quilter's Cache has a very traditional, very conventional Schoolhouse Block that wants only the small border to "size it up".

I also made a few for which I can give you no pattern because I just went through the scrap bag, looking here anything that might work & free-worked it.  I also searched the interweb for more ideas.  You can find inspiration at  FKA Park City Girl, Tallgrass Prairie Studio, & two of my all time favorites: Lisa Boyer & Gwen Marston

Anything goes color split 9-patch variation for August

It is hard to think about quilting over the summer vacation.  Even if you are not on vacation exactly, your kids might be.  Or your potential house guests.  Also, like the February block, the August block only gives you two months to get everything together & mailed for swapping.  So, I  thought I would go with a simple classic:  the color split 9-patch.

The August 2010 block swap block is made of eight squares & one 1/2-square triangle.  One half of  the block is primarily one color, the other half is primarily another & the 1/2-square triangle is half&half.  This is a good scrap blaster, because no piece starts larger than 3 inches (& most start smaller).  For those who participated in the December 2009 Bingo Block swap, yes I am basing the cut piece dimensions on those used in that block so you can mostly use the leftovers from those scraps.  You're welcome.

In the past I have suggested a theme for the fabrics:  kids or patriotic or floral.  This month the theme is get this (s)crap out of my sewing room.  Anything goes, so long as the color divide is maintained.

For myself, I strip pieced those parts that could be strip pieced & made the 1/2 square triangles without having to deal with open bias edges BUT how you put the blocks together yourself makes no-nevermind to me.  I often cut a strip from the beginning &/or end of a piece of fabric to even the edge up & these strips just kind of pile up, but you could work with squares instead of strips, if that is how your stash is arranged.  As for the 1/2 square triangles, this is the same technique I blogged in floral sunny lanes, but if you would rather put them together another way-go for it.

The 8 individual squares (or strips) should be 2.5" unfinished/2" finished.  Four should be primarily one color the other four should be primarily another color.  If you are cutting down a large &/or boldly patterned fabric, please double check that the square you cut out meets the color requirement.  For example, a fabric patterned in large red roses may very easily produce smaller green squares if you are cutting up just the stem; I know because this is exactly what happened to me.  As you can see, there are other colors in the fabrics I grabbed BUT no one looking at anyone square would say it was anything other than either obviously intended as  red or obviously intended as blue.  As for your own color choices, please feel free to represent any two of the following colors:  red, orange, yellow, green, blue, pink or purple.

The layout is:
  • First row color 1, color 1, color 2.  
  • Middle row color 1, 1/2 square triangle, color 2.  
  • Third row color 1, color 2, color 2.

As always, we swap in sets of five.  You can make (& swap) more than one set, just keep it to sets of five.  You are very welcome to submit a 6th block for every set you send (or more, or just for one-any & all are welcome).  You will still get only five swapped blocks back, the 6th blocks go to a member of the group who has requested them (after participating in a certain number of swaps) to make community quilts.  The guidelines for requesting 6th blocks are on the Facebook group page but the highlights are the quilt must go to a person or persons (not a raffle, not an auction, not for fund raising), through an organization that distributes quilts, or uses them in their facilities.  6th blocks are not for gifts for family members or friends, etc.  If you think this might interest you, you MUST join the Facebook Quilt Block Swap Group & make the request there.  As it happens, this swap is looking for a 6th block person; usually the kids blocks have long lists of pick-mes but I timed this one badly, what with summer vacation & all the waiting list people asked to be re-waiting listed.  The sad thing is this EXACT thing happened with last December's kids block.  You would think I would learn.  Oh well.

Blocks are due the last Saturday of an even numbered month.  In this case Saturday, August 28th.  Blocks will be swapped on the 29th & will be brought the to the post office Monday, August 30th. 

& for anyone looking for a little music to get them started - I give you Mister Porter à la Miss Gaynor.  Or if you prefer, something even more vintage.

It is block swap block time again, 2010-2nd half

The next three posts are the directions for the next three Facebook Quilt Block Swap Group's swap blocks.  If you are not interested in quilt block swapping, just skip this message:

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 & skipping those that do not.  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 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:

 - Saturday, August 28, 2010:  Anything goes color shaded 9-patch
 - Saturday,  October 30, 2010: Funky town
 - Saturday, December 25, 2010: Batik with 1/2 border  --yes, the 25th & since there is no regular USMail that day you should really aim for Friday the 24th & anyone who swapped last December can tell you that while generally packages brought to the window at the post office by the Tuesday before the deadline make it on time, in December the cut-off it is more like the Friday before that. Sooo, think about mailing this one no later than Wednesday December 15th.

Blocks are swapped on Sunday & brought to the Post Office on Monday (unless Monday happens to be a holiday & then it is the next not-holiday day).

It is fine if you want to mail multiple swaps together, just remember that if you do not include a return envelope for each swap, you will not get anything back until the last swap.  There is no limit on how many sets you can make for any swap, just please submit in sets of five (& maybe one more to donate to the 6th block quilter).  Within any set, the blocks should be more or less the same, but each set of five can be very different within the guidelines of the particular swap.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

These longer days

I have not not been blogging, I just have not been posting.  Because I have not been finishing.  Sorry about that.

Sometime in the next week I need to:

-finish the directions for the next three block swaps & get them posted.

-finish not one not two but three baby quilts for whom boy-quilts had been made & then they turned up girls, two of them do not arrive until August/September which is some pressure off but still I am going to stop paying attention when someone says "it's a !".  On the flip side the next three boys are COVERED (get it, quilts, covered?).

-use that Joann's coupon.  Not that I am a Joann's fanatic or anything but if I have to pay full price for batting I will never forgive myself.

-remember to get that info about the bee-hive for sale.  Because a person who is allergic to stinging insects needs a bee-hive.

-pick blueberries.  It is blueberry season & i missed it entirely last year.  Blueberries are (almost) the only fruit I even like & I actually love them, so I need to get out there this time.

& in the next month:

-shop for a GPS.  This one is easy actually.  I just have to say to A that I really want a GPS for my road trip later this year & I will be presented with one.  First though I need to see what features I really care about.  This is harder than you might think because I am a technological fantasist.  that is, I get my heart set on features that are not combined in a single gadgets & then I am never satisfied.

-get those I-SPY swap squares together. I really enjoyed this last time, although I was almost too late, & I am one of those quilters who can never have enough 4" novelty squares.  If you are one of those, too there are still a few spots left.  I think.

It does not look like much but, well that is in addition to all the other stuff I don't do when I should.  Anyhow, one way or another things will be better by the end of the week.  If only because deadlines will have passed & if I miss them, they're gone.  That's the way it is with watersheds.  & solstices.

Friday, June 18, 2010

What would Claude do?

It is getting pretty hard to avoid oil spill chatter down here in the Land of Flowers.  There was a shining light of levity yesterday when one of the senators from Texas apologized to the BP-Prez for the "shakedown".  Oh Texas, you are always good for giggles.  Still, I thought I would take a little time & reflect on another famous how-did-we-not-see-this-coming disaster & how maybe, just maybe, that big cheese handled it a little bit better.  I am speaking, of course, of the fire at the 1971 Montreaux Jazz Festival.  

Let me take you back.  The festival itself was founded in 1967 by three men, including Claude Nobs (more on him later) who really could not have done it without the backing of several other people.  It lasted for three days & nights & took place in Montreaux, Switzerland at the Montreaux Casino on scenic Lake Geneva.  Nobs had a back ground in catering, tourism & a love of music.  For the first year the festival almost exclusively featured jazz musicians, but it was not long before the repertoire expanded.

Jump forward to 1971.  Anyone who has ever heard the song knows Frank Zappa & the Mothers were on the stage & lets just say, something got away from them.  Specifically, a flare gun.  A stupid with a flare gun.  Maybe I am getting old, but every time I listen to my friends' complain about their kids' music choices I always ask myself: how bad can it be?  I mean, did anyone bring  a flare gun to the concert?  & just in case you are thinking we, at was an isolated, never-to-be-repeated weird fan, less than a week later Frank Zappa was attacked on stage & broke his leg.  Anyway...there is actually of a bootleg of the Monteaux performance (of course there is!) & you can listen to the fire announcement & subsequent panic.

Which brings us to Claude.  Remember Claude?  This is a post about Claude.  As the festival's general manager, Claude Nobs knew the terrain, quite literally.  He knew the building, he knew where the exits were, he knew the floorplan of the old Montreaux Casino so well that he could apparently negotiate it in the dark, in the smoke, dragging another person.  & once he got that person out he went back in for more.  Several people fleeing the arena had hidden in the casino itself & become trapped/lost/disoriented.  Guess who found them & got them out alive.

I don't know about you, but I am not sure how many more pictures I can look at with solemn people in solemn suits saying either "we never saw this coming" or "we should should have seen this coming" or "you should have seen this coming" or "I did see this coming but would you listen to me?" or whatever.  I do not mean to say that if there was negligence (through incompetence, through greed) we should just chalk it up.  I do not think determining if there was, even in a long drawn out expensive process, is bad for moral or prevents people from moving on or is punitive in itself.  I say go for it, do it, lets make this thing so ugly that no big cheese ever looks at a company jet & says "I deserve this more than laborers deserve safe conditions; I need this because my work is so important even though I have no understanding of specifics".  & maybe, just maybe, we can start thinking along the lines of the guy in charge should be the guy who knows the lay of the land because he is always there, not the guy waiting on a report.

As for what would Claude do there is not much more to it.  Funky Claude will be forever lauded for pulling kids out of fire, but he is still the general manager of the Montreaux Jazz Festival.  Sometimes he sits in on harmonica.  Mostly though it is a day to day operation, getting money together, coordinating schedules &, well, managing.

One final note:  just in case yup are having trouble with the metal sound & the gravelly lyrics, I give you this most dubious cover.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

A thorough birching

I have been bogged down on the Betulaceae for quite a while now.  Not like the Anacardiaceae but still, there is a lot of birch out there.  As a result of all that birch out there, there is a lot of birch in the herbarium wood collection.

Birch trees are the first trees about which I have a specific childhood memory.  There were a few paper birches in the yard of my family's home & the temptation to peel those white strips all the way around could be overwhelming.  I remember brushing the palm of my hand over the frayed edges that had naturally peeled away hoping & hoping not to roll them away just a little bit further.  I remember being told that to do so, all the way around would kill the tree & I wanted so badly to do it anyway.

As it happens paper birches are indeed on the decline; deer & paper manufacturers do not share my conflict of spirit.  This tree was once considered an almost aggressive weed tree (I am quite sure we had them because the white trunks were at least something to look at when all the leaves were gone).  Where you chopped down one birch, three more would grow.  Unless you paved over the entire grove or  drained the adjacent wetland.  As I recall, the birches in our yard preferred lower land & wet feet.

Later in life,  I learned of that other famous birch, John Birch.  For no good reason I seem to get the man confused with another man, John Stuart Mill, which is just, well bizarre.  They are both named John....& so are a gazillion other people past& present that I am able to keep separate from either of them.  This confusion is why I am always Always ALWAYS caught off guard when the John Birch Society does something well, fairly typical for themselves. Most recently it was they have groused about the lack of documentation (their word) that "Clean, safe water is a right for all Americans"  while also biotching because full-on access to guns is  indeed a right of all Americans & they have the documentation.  If only the framers of the Constitution had thought to say "oh by the way, water that is not poisoned, that's good too".  It might help you understand how confused I make myself if I provide John Stuart Mill's most famous quote:  Although it is not true all conservatives are stupid people, it is true that most stupid people are conservative.

Which finally brings us to today's word: birching.  Once upon a time it meant a sound whipping, often with a birch whip, hence the "birch" in "birching".  You don't hear that one much any more.  Birching in schools (I am guessing I first encountered this word somewhere along the way with Laura Ingalls Wilder) has gone out of fashion...& I do mean fashion.  Whether it will come back or not I cannot say.   Having been on the receiving end of a particular teacher's targeted malice I would hope not, but having seen first hand what passes for self-discipline (& how one unregulated frosh can incite the whole class) I wonder if there are other options.  So there you are, three old words to use in new (old) ways.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Lessons at bat

It has been more than 100 years since he first appeared in print, but Casey is still striking out. I realize it is possible (maybe even probable) that some one might not know who Casey is.  Casey is an imaginary baseball player on an imaginary team. The home team (our team!) is behind by two runs & has two outs.  There will be no more innings & there are two batters ahead of him, neither of them worth much.  But each of them player gives his meager all to get the Mighty Casey, the ringer, to bat.  Everyone relaxed, sure it was in the bag.

It seems there have been a lot of ringers in my world lately.  Politically, the Tea Party thought they had (& probably still have) the Republican nomination for the opening Senate seat in the bag.  Florida-Offshore oil drilling was an as-good-as-done deal less than two months ago. 

Back to our epic poem:  Casey makes his leisurely way to the plate.  The first pitch sings right by him.  The crowd goes crazy.  They are quite quite sure Casey was robbed.

As for me, here in real time, I somehow missed Rush Limbaugh's claim that eco-terrorists maybe were behind the oil spill.  I did not miss the far right leaning Florida legislature, either embracing this new Tea Party ideology or the old Let's Get Re-elected ideology, forwarding ever more bizarre legislation to the governor's desk.

Meanwhile in Mudville, Casey conceded that first pitch was just not his style.  The second pitch also, somehow failed to meet his criteria.  It did not fail to meet the umpire's:  strike two.

As for the rest of the poem:  Casey finally decides to get down to the real business of a batter, swings & strikes out.  Conservative Florida Democrats are coming out in droves for the newly independent, formerly Republican, current Governor/potential future Senator.  In the interest of courting those to the left, the center & even just a modicum to the right, much of the weirdness landing on Crist's desk is stalling  there.   As for the off-shore drilling, the former party poster boy is nixing that, too.

//You can watch the familiar version here or a better one here.  Happy Anniversary Casey!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Welcome to hurricane season

Atlantic hurricane season begins today & I am delighted to report it has been raining plenty already.  For days.  Every afternoon or so, a gully washer clears away the dust & grime & more things bloom after each deluge.  Among those blooming things, one of my favorites, the rain lilies.

I grow Zephyranthes despite the fact they are poisonous to poultry, despite the reality they. like day lilies, rarely offer a flower that lasts two days.  The rest of the year, they are at best small clumps of narrow leaves that barely fill a border.

In years of drought, though, they are the first proof that there was enough rain, that there will be more rain, that another rainy season is at hand.

They seemed an appropriate way to open Hurricane Season- they are also called zephyr lilies.