Sunday, October 31, 2010

A better class of ghost story

Yup, it's that time of year again.  I will buy buckets of candy & we will get nary a trick-or-treater.  Because we live on an unpaved(1), unlit(2) country road with no neighborhood children (3) except M*** & those little boys across the street from the Rock family (4).  So besides our house being spooky-ooky, most of the local kids (the very few local kids) are unlikely to observe All Hallows Eve in any form & most especially not on a Sunday.  Even if I have to give half the candy to M***, that still means more for me.  I hope he likes Butterfingers!

This year, I will be spending my day wrapping up a regularly scheduled quilt block swap, cleaning up the tail end of a swap gone-too-long,  while A scrambles to complete his monthly reports, etc. before the new month ends & he has to get started on those.  That's right, in this scenario October is the "new" month.  That's how things have been around here for a while now.  Still, I would not want the day to go unobserved (except for the bit about my getting to keep all the Hallowe'en candy) & so I am thinking of revisiting one of my favorite ghost-movies:  Blithe Spirit.

First let me say that as a girl I had a huge crush on Rex Harrison.  Are you scared yet?  I think it started with Henry Higgins & all that Gregory House drama but about grammar instead of medical diagnostics.  C'mon, a little chill just ran up your spine, right?
From My Fair Lady, I graduated to The Honey Pot, (how often do you hear a straight man say"piffle",  outside of Bertie Wooster, that is), then took a giant step backwards to Doctor Dolittle.  My brother K & I recently had a nostalgic moment about how as children we loved this very bad film. I still get chills when the doctor throws Sophie the Seal off the cliff.  By the time I got the The Ghost & Mrs. Muir (another excellent choice for the day) it was all over for me & american boys.

Still not scary enough?  Hmmm, well, lets push on.  The play Blithe Spirit on which the movie Blithe Spirit is based (& by based I mean they used more-or-less the same script) is about a marriage.  Actually, it's about three people & two marriages.  In one of them, one of the spouses is dead.  & then... but I wouldn't want to give it all away.  Keep in mind, the playwright was a technically in-the-closet homosexual who still managed to flesh out female characters, even the dead one.  The man that wrote Blithe Spirit also wrote so much other stuff, including but not limited to propaganda.  No really, he wrote propaganda for the british government during WWII.  Some where in there he wrote several "fight" songs, including one of my favorites:  Don't Lets be Beastly to the Germans.  For the record, the Nazis hated Coward; he was high up on the list of people to be shot once they invaded (along with Virginia Wolf.  Imagine al-Qeada targeting the editors of the New Yorker, see even the villains were classier).  What else..oh there always  Mad Dogs & Englishmen.  & who could forget We All Wear a Green Carnation

Where was I?  Oh right, trick-or-treaters.  So, do yourself a favor, turn the outside lights off, get on your Netflix -Watch Instantly page & find Blithe Spirit.  If you would rather spend the evening a decade or so closer to this century, you could try Bell, Book & Candle but it isn't as good (although I concede the music might be better).

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Blogger's Quilt Festival: Turtles All Around

I have already blogged about this quilt this year, but you can show a quilt more than once so long as it's not at the same show, right? That is what I told myself, anyhow so I could put it in the Blogger's Quilt Festival.

Turtles All Around started with a package of nine batik turtle squares & a family friend obsessed with turtles.  I had a vague idea of doing a disappearing 9-patch, keeping the turtles in one of the corners where they would not get sliced.  Alas, those batik turtle blocks were not remotely square; they were not even the same dimensions.  Once I had trimmed each disappearing 9-patch to match the turtle blocks, not one matched another in either shape or size.

& so, once again, I used the sashing I always use to rescue odd blocks.  You can see how not-square the blocks are in this close up, but by adding this irregular sashing & then squaring them by cutting only from same sashing, I did end up with perfectly square squares & everything else fell into place.  Making the sashing from the same fabric I used for the (sliced) center squares also helped smooth the rough edges.

As re-read this, I am realizing it sounds like I am ho-hum on this quilt. I am not.  I love this quilt.  I love the busy batiks that still somehow work together.  I am even pleased with the quilting, as it came out looking water-y, another happy accident.

My only regret is not having a picture AFTER the binding got turned.  As with so many of my projects, I took the quilt just this far & then sent it to Mom, who bound it, sewed in any strays I missed, & just in general did the finishing work that takes so much time (& for which I have no talent/patience).  Thanks Mom!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Batik with 1/2 border for December 2010

Last June when I posted the upcoming quilt block swap blocks, I had trouble uploading the pictures for the December 2010 block.  The bad news is I completely forgot to go back & update the post.  The good news is the block is more or less wide open pattern-wise.

Tthe keys points are:

1. batik or hand-dyed fabric only please.  I have had several messages regarding this requirement & they are split down the middle.  Half the messages are unhappy as batiks & hand-dyes are expensive, certainly more expensive than most other quilt fabrics.  On the flip-side are those who are pleased that they can count on getting back a batik or hand-dyed only block.  I am sorry about anyone who might count themselves out of this swap because of cost, but I hope the next guideline helps

2. make any block you like, 6.5" unfinished/6" finished the idea being that scraps from other projects might make the cost easier to bear.  Also, I made my blocks from remnants I got at Joann's for a grand total of four dollars and change

    3. after the block is complete, add a 1.5" unfinished/1" finished border to two adjacent sides & you are done.  You can add these in a strippy fashion all-in-a-row, or if you are working from cut scraps the dimensions would be 1.5" x 6.5" & 1.5" by 7.5"
    As I previously described, we expect to be traveling & not returning until the actual due date for the blocks (the last Saturday of December, which happens to be December 25).  While we are away V** will still be at the house, acting as caretaker, dealing with the horses, emus, etc & so you should have no concerns about mail not being picked up.  What will be difficult is letting people know that their package has arrived if it arrives in the last week before the 12/25 deadline.

    The swap should still take place Sunday December 26th (so long as our flights are on time) & be brought to the Post Office Monday December 27th.  This means everyone who swaps will have a cheerful envelope to drive away those after-holiday doldrums.  Originally, I gave you this musical selection, but let me also give you this, for the batik-y-ness.

    Monday, October 25, 2010

    Asleep in the weeds

    While I have been for a bit finally home again after most of my travels (& settled in again after the general disruption of my begin gone has finally settled), the ripple effect is only just starting to fade.  Even bookclub was a week late this month, yes, because of me.  This month we read, appropriately, a story about not being home ever again; we read Evangeline.

    It seems apropos that our local library has not one copy of this once required reading anywhere in the collection:  Hiawatha like you would not believe, but no Evangeline. There was one really big book about the relocation of the Acadian people (a move you would think I would know about having vacationed as a child in the Acadia islands & sampled as an adult Acadian cuisine in two very distant parts of this country, but somehow those you internalize early are the anomalies you never question), but that was all I found on the subject.  I confess the story did not inspire enough curiosity in me to read same big book, but B******* was interested & took it home with her.

    As for having read Evangeline before, I do not believe I ever had, but I certainly knew the story.  More than knowing it, I have long internalized it (again while failing to grasp the whole exile thing as part of my country's history).  When I was in college, my brother brought home a cat he found & because the cat had been asleep in the weeds we named him (yes him) Evangeline.  In my family any cat with the same markings-white with big black blotches, sometimes called a cow cat is known as a Vangy Cat.  More than that, we seem to have a preference for them.  Right this minute, both my sister & I have Vangy cats.  One of my brothers has two cats, but alas they are Siamese & my other brother has a dog.  & his dog has a dog, so you could argue he has two dogs, although he would dispute this.  Neither the dog nor her dog are cat friendly.

    Sunday, October 24, 2010

    Major scores in 746

    This weekend was the beginning of the Friends of the Library booksale here in our little county; I have said before it is the big social event of the season (two seasons actually as there is one in October & one in April, but October is the biggie).  This year we saw more people than I can list here, or that's all it would be.  One interesting twist, though, the first day of the sale over lapped with Pride Days here in town.  As a result there were slews of people sporting rainbows, of course; several same-sex couples hand-in-hand & I overheard more than one conversation between rainbow-wearer & FOL library volunteer clarifying "yes, we do this right about now every year" in both directions.  What I did not see was a single Dove World clan member.  No Islam is of the Devil t-shirts, no lighters or matches to be seen anywhere in the religious volumes section.  In fact, Dove-clan were deemed so unlikely to appear there were not even police posted around that area.  There were plenty of officers, mostly directing traffic around the hoards of pedestrians lugging crates of books from the sale across Main Street.  & they all looked happy to be there, actually.

    A & I usually walk in together, look at each other & say "see ya".  Sooner or later we will trip over each other, sometimes more than once.  If he needs to find me I spend a lot of time in children's books & poetry.  He can be found in engineering, science or depending on the size of the crowd, taking breaks next to the big bay doors at the back where the temperature is likely to be several degrees cooler than the rest of the warehouse.

    This year I made major inroads in 746.  In fact, I hardly left that part of the building at all & when I did, my bag was so heavy I had trouble lifting it.  I only made it from there to the lower 700s when A came looking for me (Okay that's a lie, I did a quick cruise through 821 & found what I think might be the very translation of Canterbury Tales that A***** has been so happy with & bought it for 75cents).

    Most of my books came from 746 though.  There has been a knitting, quilting, etc renaissance in the past few years & in order to make way for the new stuff they have to clear out some of the old stuff.  That much of the old stuff on the way out deals with garment construction specifically bodes very well for those purchases.  I was sorry to see Judy Chicago on the weeded table but not sorry to bring her home.

    It was a good day.

    Friday, October 22, 2010

    Fall color in the land of flowers

    As I think I recently mentioned, I was in CT & am now I am back home, but I was there right around the peak of New England fall color.  & it was impressive.  What was -too me- even more impressive is I left here at the height of summer & came back home to autumn.  Yes, Fladidah has an autumn.

    Some of you have probably heard the seasons here are subtle (I used to hear that all the time).  They aren't.  They are all quite sudden & could not be more clearly defined if the squirrels all jumped up & down shouting Hey you, welcome to the Equinox.  What they are is short, sometimes only a week or two, or very long (our fist summer here lasted almost ten months). Also, they don't seem to relate to each other the way seasons do in other climates.  Fall, for example, it is not always followed by winter.  Sometimes we have summer, then fall,  then summer again, then maybe straight to winter.  & other times it's once around once more.

    I do understand how this could be confusing.  also it gives rise to that horrible old trout:  Don't like the Florida weather, wait a minute it will change.  For the record, they also said this to us in Houston about Houston, in Joisey, about Joisey & in London about London.  That's things about what they say, it's the same all over.

    Still, I thought I would take a moment & show you what passes for Fall Color around here.  Once the sun stops scorching & the rain stops pounding (for 20 minutes a day) the local flora have the chance to really open up & well...have sex.  & this is what we get, color-wise.

    Just to keep things apples2apples, I made NO alterations to any of these photos, no sharpening the outlines, no fudging the background, nothing.  This is how they came off the camera.  Now, tell me again about that sugar maple in your front yard.

    Sunday, October 17, 2010

    Saint Mary MacKillop

    First let me say, I really like saying her name.  It sounds so perfect for those moments when you, slam your little finger in the tailgate of the truck while balancing a 50lb bag of chicken feed on your hip that you absolutely cannot put down because the ground is wet & in this climate it gets moldy fast enough.  So there you are with your pinky somewhere in between the two sharp edges of the after-market truck bed & you have to sort of shift the weight onto the bumper so you can reach the handle & release the pressure & then when you do your blood chugging back into your hand feels like the opening to These Boots Were Made for Walking, which is coincidentally what the lady emu sounds like when she sees you are going to open the feed barrel.  Now say it again:  Saint Mary MacKillop!

    If you have never heard of Mary MacKillop, chances are you have not spent much time in Australia recently.  She is the first Australian saint & that makes headlines, even on a continent with no official religion.  Like the US.  Ba-dum-chhhhhhhhh.  Seriously, though, they are only about 5m catholics in a country of over 20m.  Even those who would never set foot in a church are enthralled.  & yes, I know roughly the same percentage of Americans think of themselves as catholic so you tell me:  who was the first US saintwho was the most recent?  Now sit down & shut up.

    Aside from the church finally getting around to canonizing someone from the British Empire's last bastion, Mary MacKillop is fun & timely.  I am sure she was a pig-headed person (most saints are) who swam against the stream (& in a recently-former penal colony, saintly would be the way to go).  To make it all the way to Rome though, you have to put your back into it.  & she did.

    First, she took that less sure but still so frequent road to sainthood: excommunication. The reason tells us as much about her canonization today (yes, today) than any real changes in the church.  Mary MacKillop ran afoul of church leaders for pressing the church to deal with a certain esteemed priests who spent a little too much time one-on-one with the altar boys.  Actually the specific reason was insubordination.  She did lots of insubordinate things, including cleaving to the Franciscan concept of poverty, which included begging in the streets, never a favorite with the most wealthy institution on earth.  The excommunication only lasted about six months (considerably less than Pete Seeger spent in prison for breaking a law that did not really exist), but she still gets the points.

    Other favorite topics of her insubordination include it is bad to treat native people like a subspecies.  Also education is a good thing, even for poor people.  Radical ideas whose time has almost arrived.  So although nothing official has been said, Mary MacKillop is being looked at for Patroness of Abuse Victims, particularly those abused by clergy.

    For the record, though, today is the day of Ignatius of Antioch; you would invoke him against diseases of the throat, which is also the province of Saint Blaise & half-a-dozen others. I know you were torn apart by wild animals, sir, but right now you look a little too much like a company man.

    Monday, October 11, 2010

    That holiday feeling

    What can I say, it has been crazy here (& not here; I've been on the road).  The last Saturday of last month was the deadline for the Christmas Star quilt block swap & by mid-day Sunday one third of the blocks were still MIA.  Of those missing, one person had said she had run out of time, one person had told me her set was finished over a month earlier but I have not heard from her since & as for the rest I had no idea.

    So I made an executive decision.  I had already polled the on-time swappers & found that only one person besides me; I don't care either way as I will not be...wait a minute, I am getting ahead of myself!   
    I started the FaceBook Quilt Block Swap group after participating in yet another downer on-line swap: I was one of only two people who actually forwarded our blocks to the others.  That was 2008.  Since then I have in fact received one more of the 'owed' blocks, in December 2009 if you are curious.  That means seven other people got my blocks & never did their part & never sent mine back & yes, some of them still regularly sign up for on-line swaps in the same network (I have no idea if they participate or not, I just see their names on the lists).  So, the new idea was everyone send their blocks to a central location (me!), what is here on the date swaps, what is not, does not. 

    Most of our swaps are open -you don't have to say you plan to swap, you just have to get your set of five here on time- & this works just fine.  This swap, however was bigger than the others & we had a sign-up that closed February 28th. That means not-less-than 6.5 months to make fifteen blocks to get here by September 25th.  & five of the fifteen did not make the deadline.  Unfortunately, my calendar is full-to-overflowing right now & pushing off the the next free week-end would not work (no one wants to get a Christmas project in mid-November).

    You can probably guess my executive decision.  The swap happened on the scheduled Sunday, as planned.  On that Monday, when I brought Lilly to the vet, I loaded the envelopes into the truck as well & they went to the PO later that same day.  On Tuesday, two more sets arrived at the house.  On Wednesday, I left town.  Now I am back & looking at the two sets that arrived late & three that came back to me (two for insufficient postage -one of them reflecting pre-rate changes because that is how long ago she mailed in her stars- & one because C******** was so scrambled when she made up her original package she addressed her return envelope to herself at my address & I was so scrambled when I mailed it I did not catch it).

    Yes, this whole business has left me with what I call That Holiday Feeling.  Thankfully, Steve & Edyie can always shake me out of it.  Another thing that is helping make it better is the truly beautiful blocks that WERE exchanged.  For a week no, I have been dreaming of the many many ways I could use these blocks, including supplementing them a bit as now that I have no illusions more will be coming, I can get down to business myself.