Thursday, March 31, 2011

March was...

Did you know March was National Craft Month?  It's Okay, I've been busy too.

March was also National Women's History Month.  I confess I am to some degree with Morgan Freeman on this one:  He said all american history is black history, or vice versa, or black american history was american history, something like that.  Yes, I know he wasn't talking about women exactly but it seems to me all-encompassing histories should encompass well, all.  That being said, I am not sure I would mind if they started limiting white man history to just one month.

National Quilt Month I did know.  It started as a day & blew out into a month.  I know how that goes. I celebrated National Quilt Month by...  I don't remember what I did the exact day, but given my usual quilt-celebrations I am sure there was something appropriate.

& of course, National Kidney Month is not to be missed.  I would give Employee Spirit Month a wide berth, though.

All kinds of produce:  bell peppers & broccoli,  & on thru the alphabet to National Frozen Food Month.  I guess they thought they would get it all over at once; March is also National Nutrition Month

Adopt a Rescue Guinea Pig Month, no I am not kidding.  Also umbrellas, which I can kind of see, & kites, whose month runs from the end of March until the beginning of May.  It's like National Kite Month caught some air & being on a string, it was able to run out a bit further than the usual month does. 

The list goes on&on, so let's end with:  Expanding Girls' Horizons in Science & Engineering Math Month.

As for me I did quilt, I did not adopt a guinea pig; I ate broccoli & avoided bell peppers; did absolutely nothing to improve employee spirit & watched A expand all kinds of science for women...& men.  Even the white ones.

Friday, March 25, 2011

What would Anita do?

As we s*l*o*w*l*y come up on the end of Florida's gay adoption ban (& yes, I do consider this one of the silver linings of our tanked economy; it is hard to justify spending $100,000s defending a policy that is just not going to to stand up at the next judicial tier no matter how moral you might think it is), I thought it would be a good time to take a little look at today's birthday girl:  Anita Bryant.

Anita's parents divorced when she was quite small, & Anita was sent to live with her maternal grandparents.  I don't know if it was a happy childhood, but it looks like a successful one:  she began her musical career with their encouragement, she graduated high school, was crowned Miss Oklahoma 1958 & made it to the final four in the Miss America Pageant.   Shortly after this she made the Billboard charts with one of my favorite songs (although I do prefer the Beatles version & even better Miss Peggy Lee; what can I say, I just love The Music Man).  She also got a college scholarship but I cannot see that she attended or graduated (it can be hard to find this information about those pre-Google days in the time I am prepared to look for it, which is almost none).  In 1960 she married a Miami disc jockey & they had four children...& twenty years together.

All that time Anita was singing, wedding, birthing, she was also preaching, kinda.  I confess "preacher" is a lot like "imam" to me.  Anyone with the inclination seems able to break into the biz; I am very unclear as to the qualifications (although I am fairly certain the position does NOT come with health insurance).  Anyway, Ms. Bryant declared a fatwa on anything she saw as a threat to her vision of family.

One of her early targets was......divorce.  & then she got one.  Let me go on record as saying I am a HUGE fan of divorce.  As A says, divorce means all those people who cannot stand the sight of each other can get away without killing each other.  Neither of us has ever been far (I also say the same thing about rape; I haven't far). 

Which means I really am happy for Anita's divorce.  If she would go through with it despite the disapproval of some of her followers, she must have really needed it.  What is damn shame is she never stopped to think if she was wrong about this, what else might she have been wrong about?  Because it was her group that reversed local laws protecting homosexuals in Miami & went on to inspire (& bankroll) similar movements across the country.  & while her movement had a far reaching impact, it also reached around & impacted her.  The divorce, yes, but her wholesome spokesperson career was over.  It turns out homosexuals drink as much orange juice as anyone & homo-phobes won't buy orange juice just because Anita Bryant is on the poster, especially a divorced Anita Bryant.  & a handful (her description) of protesters getting coverage outside of her other venues helped the invitations to those venues dry up. 

So she picked herself up, dusted herself off (after a flirtation with prescription drug abuse) & looked for a niche within her niche (divorced, jonesing homo-phobes!) & opened a theater where those who wanted to could hear her sing & minister.  Alas, her flock was only getting smaller, as evidenced by the extremely low attendance at her performances, until finally even the most devoted were completely cashed out & broke & then Anita left rise again-again.

More recently Anita Bryant was singing the national anthem at the 2011 Oklahoma Gubernatorial Inaugural Ball.  Which brings us to what would Anita do?  From here, it looks like she would count on almost everything old being new again & what isn't old/new being overlooked.  What it seems she won't be doing is considering there might be more to the human condition than forgiveness for only the transgression she has made.  Happy Birthday Anita.  You remain for me a shining example of how a bright & pretty cover can disguise a shallow, spiteful story....but only for so long.

Credit: Free images from

Fire: a centennial

There has been a lot of buzz about the evilness of unions, & I will even grant you that union-might has been damaging to some parts of our lives, but I think it also worth looking at why unions happened & why most of us are glad they existed, even if we sometimes wish they would go away now.  Today seemed like a good day; it is the 100th anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire.

To highlight, on March 25th 1911 a fire broke out on the 8th floor of the Asch Building just east of Washington Square Park in Manhattan.  People on the tenth floor could be (& were) contacted by telephone, but there was no fire alarm in the building & the warning the building was on fire came on foot, with the fire itself.  Ultimately 146 people died (the last six victims were only officially identified February 2011) & 70+ were injured.  Most of the victims were young immigrant women, still the people generally hired to do the same work in the garment industry today whether it happens here in the US or overseas.

The reason(s) for the high death toll are straightforward:

-access to exits (& entrances for firemen) was blocked either by clutter, opened inward, or might have been actually locked.  I think it is worth noting that while locking what we now know of as "fire doors" (largely because of this fire by-the-by) is & was a code violation, I myself have worked in two places that did it routinely; the supervisors could see no other way to keep the riff-raff they hired from sneaking out for a quick cigarette or stealing or whatever.  This practice, obviously still around, was as-good-as standard at the time of the fire.

-fire company ladders did not reach above the sixth floor (this was more an available materials versus laws of physics thing than a failure, exactly) & the fire escape bottomed at the second floor.  It could have brought people within range of the ladders, but it collapsed under the weight of people trying to leave the building & was neglected & perhaps damaged before the fire ever broke out.  More than 60 people died in the  fire escape collapse or jumping from windows into inadequate life nets which tore under the impact.  Again the laws of physics were at play; the nets could have handled people jumping from lower heights.

-the fire company was quickly on-site, but again, because of the sixth floor limit on the ladders, the blocked doors, & other more grisly reasons, they could not reach the fire.  Police lines were erected to prevent people from rushing into the building while it burned.

-most of the victims' first language was not english, nor was any other single language spoken by a clear majority of factory employees; it would have been impossible to communicate anything to this panicked crowd, even if there was a way to communicate with them, which there mostly wasn't.  Nevertheless, no emergency plan was in place: employees had never been instructed on how to respond to a fire, how to get out safely, no fire drills were ever conducted (nor were they required by law).

The owners of the Triangle Shirtwaist Company were tried & acquitted for manslaughter; they later agreed to pay $75 to the families of 23 victims who brought suit against them.  It is worth noting both men were in the building with members of their family when the fire broke out & survived by evacuating to the roof with a number of others.  There was a lot of press at the time about their greed, but they were very much men of their time & the conditions of their factory were typical, despite a recent catastrophic fire in a Newark factory.  Making these men out to be monsters keeps us from examining our own potential failures. 

Less than a year later, sweeping changes were already being drafted to upgrade building codes, their regulation & enforcement.  The ILGWU (International Ladies Garments Workers Union) already existed & had called a successful strike the previous year; working conditions were among their grievances.  Following the fire, the ILGWU became one of the most powerful organizations in the United States.  Another less-clear result was the rise of the suffragist movement.  It is certainly not a fluke that the people who suffered most in these working conditions had no political voice. 

As for the Fire's centennial, there are events planned at the building site as well as other places around the country, but maybe the best way to honor the day is to remember when you look at those people sitting in protest in state houses & other public spaces, maybe what they want is not a free-ride for life or even no-charge-to-them Viagra.  Maybe what they want are the same ordinary protections you would want in their place.

Monday, March 21, 2011

More on red

I have already blogged about the March Block Lotto block, so I will spare you except:  it is red, I didn't have much red & then once I bought some red I figured I may as well use what I had selvage-to-selvage set & made four sets of most.  As I was doing this, I remembered C****** really likes red & black (she really likes light blue & black, too; I guess it would be more accurate to say she likes black & other colors) & so I thought I would toss a few black & white blocks in there.

By the time I was done, one set of red&white will go to the block lotto winner(s), which still leaves me holding more red&white blocks, almost of them triplets & much more than I could ever use, especially after I had thrown in the black&white blocks I made soooo....

I thought about this post on the Block Lotto blog.  To be brief, she collects 8.5" unfinished/8" finished red&white blocks & makes quilt for leukemia patients (& you can read more here).  I had actually already thought I would send her whatever I had left after I was done with the first part, but I had not yet thought thru the whole C****** likes red&black thing either,  so I have more left over than if I just used the spare red&whites.

Off these go, to France as it happens, altho' I am guessing they won't necessarily stay there.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Baldrick & green beverages

For today a saint that is not a saint.  Was never even a person, actually (or if there was a person named Baldrick, no one ever attempted to canonize him as far as I can tell).  & does not have an actual day.  Saint Baldrick celebrants aim for sometime around Saint Patrick's Day, usually a week-end day just to be convenient.

How to observe a saint's day that never had a saint?  Why shaving your head of course.  Well, actually, having it shaved.  I know I said to do this around Saint Patrick's Day, but celebrants are usually stone-cold-sober when they participate.

A few years ago at a Saint Baldrick's Day event, my sister had her head shaved by a clown -an actual clown- while an accordion was played in the background.  Then same clown painted flower/flames/not sure what they were really on her face.  My brother says this is one of the rings Dante neglected.  I'm not sure I disagree.  I like accordion music (I still have my old Gerard Blanchard albums for when the apocalypse erases all your new-fangled digital music), but clowns make me nervous.  Clowns with clippers, well, I just don't need that kind of anxiety.

At this point, if you are still reading, you are asking "Why?"  I have no idea why clowns & accordions & facepainting, but the shaving is a fundraiser for research into childhood cancers.  I have a vague idea that they gather the hair for cancer wigs, but I might be wrong about that.  It is entirely possible the shaving is incidental.  Well, not entirely, money is raised by getting sponsors much like a walk-a-thon only nobody has to walk anywhere & the proof of accomplishment is right there for all to see.

That's all I've got really.  No history to plumb...or embellish.  The patron saint of barbers has actually already been covered in this blog & believe me, I was as surprised as anyone when I looked it up.  I could find no patron of clowns or circus performers, but I will keep looking.  As for accordion players or manufacturers nada, although if you google "accordian saint", Saint Paul, MN comes up a lot.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The old sexagon is the new...

I laughed out loud when I read the original sexagon post over at Lansey Brothers.  The gist- kinda- is how the sexagon has gone out of vogue; the word, not the shape.  It has been replaced with "hexagon" & the much more cumbersome "six sided polygon".  For those of you asking yourselves "this is coming up here why?", the sexagon is actually better known to quilters everywhere as the unit that makes up the Grandmother's Flower Garden.

Just to be clear, we are talking about an actual six-sided shape, not the six person sexual position/act, although now I really want everyone to start calling that a Grandmother's Flower Garden.  Whenever it might come up in conversation.  Whenever that might be.

So..the sexagon quilt.  I have been quilting for a while now, but I have never made one of those.  I have made the odd blossom now & then to add to something else. but to commit to a full-size sexagon...I just don't have that kind of time.  Also,  I am just not that into all those little pieces that all need to fit together.   Still it's a useful skill so here we go:

As with all handwork, your first sexagon is probably the hardest.  The first tricky part is making sure all six sides (& each angle) is exactly equal to every other side (& angle).  But since we are talking about fabric sexagons, there is some wiggle room.  More than you can imagine, actually.

Begin by getting yourself a sexagon.  Lansey Brothers have oh-so-conveniently provided one right in their sexagon post.  Click it, print it, cut it out.  It's a nice big one & for a beginner, the big ones are just so much easier to work with.  Trace it onto something a bit more stable (I like to use those card stock campaign thingeys we get swamped with every November).  Cut out as many of these as you will need pieces for your sexagon quilt.  To make a single flower, you will need seven, although you could certainly keep going until you run out of steam.

If you are like me, you will print a second sexagon, pencil in a slightly larger sexagon around the first (say 3/8ths of an inch).  This is your fabric template, so you can cut the fabric large enough to fold a bit over the edges.  I should note that you can actually buy these; you can buy the masters to make your own templates or you can just buy the templates.  But what if you just don't take to sexagons?  Then you will have them, just sitting there & you will find yourself saying things like "I thought I would really like sexagons, but alas they are not for me".

Match one fabric sexagon to one recycled junk mail sexagon, centering the smaller on the wrong-side of the larger.  There is no wrong side to the smaller, cardstock sexagon.  Somehow attach the two; some people use fabric glue stick, but I prefer teeny-eeny torn off pieces of painter's tape.  Start basting.

If you are having trouble seeing the potential of the sexagon in quilting, take a cruise on over to The Great Hexagon Quilt-Along.  & if you can get them to change it to The Great Sexagon Quilt-Along, you would be well on the way to bringing the sexagon back into the lexicon.  If you cannot see yourself going whole hog for a sexagon quilt, this site here has some other fine suggestions (& better directions than mine).  I cannot see myself making a whole one, but was delighted when I got another blue&yellow basket in the mail, this one with sexagon flowers.
In absolutely-true, double entendre news, my mother-in-law drops broad hints that she would like a sexagon/grandmother's flower garden quilt whenever we see one.  There is a really big one at Dudley Farm.  Maybe if they had billed themselves as the Home of the Sexagon Quilt they could have boosted attendance.  Maybe not.

Monday, March 14, 2011

One of our Thursdays was in Vancouver

If you are not a Thursday Next fan you might just want to skip this one; if you have never heard of Thursday Next what are you waiting for?!?  Run, don't walk to your local library & get the Eyre Affair.  It is good if you have read Jane Eyre but it is not worth postponing the Eyre Affair to get caught up.

Let me begin (again) by saying I have been the side-car on more than one of A's business trips.  In the old day, if I didn't tag along some of the time, we would never have seen each other.  At first, when people knew I was coming it did not matter that he attended every meeting, every lunch, every dinner & that I went off & did my own thing, whomever he was meeting with acted as though we were taking advantage of this trip to take a vacation.  Considering that I/we paid for my own travel expenses, our meals if we did eat together & any past-the-business-portion portion of the hotel bill, while passing on to whatever organization paid for him to be there the reduced airfare (for a Saturday he would never have stayed over if I hadn't been there), the reduced hotel (because we extended our stay beyond the conference, meeting, whatever) this frosted me a bit.  The funny thing is how much this has changed; you cannot imagine what perks a company was prepared to throw in if we would leave a few days early for our own vacation, make a stopover near SanFran & spend a couple days/nights there.

Where was I again.  Oh, right, M****** was tagging along on a trip & needed to lay low while her husband did the work he was being paid to do.  Also she needed something(s) to read while en route to the opposite corner of this country & then out of it.  Our bookclub had met a day or so before she was leaving & so I handed over my (library's) copy of Peyton Place, a book we decided against mostly because 1/2 the group had already read it & not for the reasons bookclubs might discard it (it was so potentially popular, next year I am floating Valley of the Dolls).  Anyway, she took it & planned to read it & everything was settled...

...when suddenly, the following day...

...I happened to stop at the library & what should I be given but the brand new Thursday Next book, released that very day & I was numero uno on the book holds list.  I was so excited I started reading it in traffic (at the red lights, I'm not suicidal).  But while I was driving, I realized there was no way I would have time to read this book with the schedule I am looking down on for the next ten days at least (& more like 20, really).  & it really truly pains me to have a book I know others want & not read it; it just seems greedy & thoughtless & wrong.  I was on the verge of returning it so as not to have it on my conscience when it occurred to me, Thursday Next could go to Vancouver!  I could get the good-friend points for passing on a book I didn't have time for anyway & maybe, just maybe if I knew it would be back in a week I could clear & make time for Agent Next.

So it happened that a brand new copy arrived here in Alachua County & 72 hours later traveled due west & then north out of the country.  That Thursday, she gets around.  I just wish she could hop on back here three weeks ago when I could have spent some time with her, but for now I am rereading all the other Thursdays (because I found a few pockets of time, also most of them are on disc & in this way I can read Thursdays & do something else at the same time).

Saturday, March 12, 2011

A tale of two yogurt makers

It has been many many years since I made yogurt the old-fashioned way: heat the ingredients, cool the ingredients, add the culture & let it sit, warmly, for upwards of eight hours.  It has, in fact, been decades.  The last time I made yogurt this way had to be sometime before 1992.  How can I be so sure?  Easy:  in 1992 I moved to north joisey & they have laws against doing anything good-for-you that does not involve a hefty gym membership...

OKay the real reason is we moved out of our apartment in Storrs, CT.  & what made this such a magical yogurt making apartment, you ask?  Well, let me tell you: sometime before my residence there hot water was included in the rent, but that changed.  As a result each apartment had to be fixed with its own hot water heater & in almost every case this meant what was the front closet became the hot water heater closet.  The hot water heater filled most of the space, but there remained a shelf at the top (for storing anything that could be subjected to daily increases in temperature with or without high humidity depending on the water heater's state of repair).  Between the water heater itself & the shelf there was a gap just big enough for a glass topped bowl & with a little big of plywood rigged up a yogurt making/bread dough rising space was created.  All I had to do was the heat, cool & add cultures thing, then A took a shower, then I took a shower, maybe did a few dishes, etc.  With adequate insulation & spreading these tasks out over six or so hours, it was perfect.

After we moved & alas, no such space existed, or could even be made to exist.  In Joisey, landlords never ever included hot water so there was space accessible only from the outside for the hot water heater & I caved & got a yogurt maker.  Actually I acquired my mother's yogurt maker, a machine that was looking retro even then.  & for many years we were happy together.

Sure, me & that old yogurt maker, we had our ups& downs.  That timer looking thing on the top there is more like a dial; you set it to the time you should turn off (which in the absence of a fancy-shmancy switch means unplug) the yogurt maker; the appliance itself does nothing on its own except make kinda-even heat.  More than once I had a batch of very very tangy yogurt when I left it too long, but it made lovely cheese so all was not lost.

Last week, I taught C****** the heat & add & keep warm thing & sent her home with a batch of not-yet-yogurt & my mother's old yogurt maker.  I did this, of course to make room for my new yogurt maker.  It arrived on Tuesday, just in time for me to gaze at it longingly while I got ready for bookclub.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Color: the beginning & the end

Last Tuesday, we had our second to last bookclub of the year; yes we have an off-sort-of schedule.  This means that in addition to our regularly scheduled book discussion, we also picked the books for the upcoming year (which starts in May).  Last March-ish we choose the book we read last night & we really had no idea how things would line up.  So it happened that on Fat Tuesday, we had our discussion for Color: A Natural History of the Palette.

As I may have said before (I cannot recall & I cannot be bothered to look), we have food with our book on the second Tuesday of nine of the twelve months (we rest in July, August, & December).  Sometimes we try to match the food to the book, sometimes we don't, sometimes some of us do & some if us don't.  For whatever reason, last night -with the least accessible book food-wise that I think we have ever had- we all decided to eat-in-theme.  & that theme was color.  I made white bread, white rice & a yogurt spread that was....white.  Others brought pickled beets & carrot soup, chocolate, black beans & so forth.  We also had a dessert of white cake, white creme & a painters palette of fruit.

As for the selection, it is always a surprise to me what people will choose bookwise.  I sat down thinking there was really only one of my candidates I really wanted; less than half-way thru the process I was completely prepared to cut it loose & forget about it but others were now very interested (in what is a I admit a bit of dated dime fiction-that is what I like about it).  We ended up with:

May 10th - Strangers on a Train by Patricia Highsmith
June 14th -Waking up in Eden by Lucinda Fleeson
September 13th - Palace Walk by Nagib Mahfouz
October  11th - We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson
November 8th - The Dining Room by A. R. Gurney
January 10th - The Thousand  Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell
February 14th - Baking Cakes in Kigali by Gaile Parkin
March 13th - Enders Game by Orson Scott Card
April 10th - Take the Cannoli by Sarah Vowell
  with the extra for the overachiever of  Too Many Cooks by Rex Stout .

We also had a lively discussion about how obsessed a woman has to be with the origins of color to go wandering around Afghanistan looking for a guide who can she her where the lapis lazuli comes from.  These are the kinds of people we love to read about & are mostly glad not to be. 

The meeting ran late & by the time we wrapped up I was ready for bed.  B****** looked ready too; I almost offered her the futon in A's office, but I know she has dogs to get home to.  S**** & L**** were driving M****** home; she was planning to stay up for several more hours packing for a trip to Vancouver.  C****** left us to go on to a Mardi Gras party that was more or less just getting started.

Next month our book is The Tortilla Curtain by T. C. Boyle.  This most recent time was the first time anyone came in costume, but I am kinda hoping she does it again...

Thursday, March 10, 2011

8:56 (4 to 9, get it?)

It began with the red&white March 2011 Block Lotto block.  I am not what you would call a red fan; I was hard-pressed to find any red fabric at all for a much small challenge way-back-when but this time I decided to just bite the bullet & buy more fabric.  You know, to help the economy.

& since I was buying fabric, & I happened to have a 50% off any single purchase one-day only coupon in my purse & I was right there on that day...  I also bought a little (by my standards) cutting board with a lazy susan idea.  The short version is, if it were not for this purchase,many many 8:56 blocks would never have been cut; because of this board, I now have even more quilts in mind.

Almost everyone on the block lotto blog said how fast this block went.  That was not quite my experience, exactly.

I will say making the first step 4-patches was indeed a piece of cake.  Almost every selvage-to-selvage strip worked up into 8 pairs & then four 4-patches, so that pile did grow quickly, quantity-wise.

The next few steps really dragged though.  One at a time each 4-patch was cut one inch from that center seam four times.  Then the borders between the two were flipped, etcetera etcetera etcetera.  I like to do this kind of thing in bulk, but having one board from which to work & a desire to keep everything in order as best I could, it was one block at a time from here on out.

It probably did not help I was listening to the Fellowship of the Ring at the time.  All those elven legends, all that cut turn cut turn cut turn....stitch press stitch press...  Still so far I am happy with the results & I am 99.9% sure the worst is behind me (never say never).

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Beginning April's log cabin

The February 2011 swap is wrapped up.  Blocks were due the last Saturday of February & while there were stragglers (because mail took a full week longer than it has in the past, but for no reason-at-all & definitely not because of cutbacks at the post office), the swap happened Sunday.  In the olden days (2010) I went to the post office on Monday, but our local post offices have greatly reduced their window hours & under the new schedule, the earliest I can be sure I can get there is Wednesday.  So the envelopes of blocks are all stashed in the big kenya bag I use for outgoing mail & will leave by Wednesday (or sooner, if I can get there sooner).

Time to get to work on the April 2011 block: Log cabin in the springtime.  I have had some questions about the best way to make them (which I take to mean how did I make mine) so here they are:

This is a big block, maybe the biggest we have ever done, but it is straightforward (no real seam matching) & goes quickly. You begin with a 2.5" red square & working around & around (I went clockwise), you will add the rest of the  2.5" strips or planks. For the planks you will need three different fabrics, at least one should have a "nature" theme, either a flower or leaf or vine or something.  As you do not need much of any of these, I refer to them as scrap fabrics.  You will also need a quantity (about 1/2 yard) of a reads-as-solid fabric in either a very light or very dark color.  This does not need to have any pattern, nature-themed or otherwise & muslin or a broadcloth would be ideal.

First:  2.5" red square to 2.5" scrap fabric one square.  You are now done with the red & will not use it again...until you make another block.  Press this seam to the scrap piece (& all future seams away from the center).

Second:  add a 2.5" strip of scrap fabric one to a long edge of the pair you just sewed.  If you want to cut it ahead of time, be my guest (2.5" x 4.5") but it might be easier to start strip piecing at this point.  Whichever way you turn the piece now, this is the direction you will continue turning (if you don't know what I am talking about, don't panic: when you do it you will know it); I turn clockwise & would suggest you do that too.  Add the second plank of scrap fabric one; this is the last time you will use scrap fabric one.

Third: add a 2.5" strip of whatever reads-as-solid you chose.  For this particular swap it should be either light or dark (nothing that could be construed as a medium please, altho' you do not need to limit yourself to white or black).  Press & add another 2.5" strip of same.  At this stage, your block should once again be square.  If you have a rectangle, chances are good you either changed direction when turning OR you added two planks one on top of the other.

Fourth: add a 2.5" strip of the second scrap fabric.  Trim, press, turn & add a second strip of same.  This is the last time you will use scrap fabric two.

Fifth:  add a 2.5" strip of the same reads-as-solid.  Trim, press, turn & add a second strip of same.  You should once again have a square.

Sixth:  add a 2.5" strip of the third scrap fabric. Trim, press, turn & add a second strip of same.  This is the outer row & you will not need this fabric again, nor will you stitch anything more on these sides.

Seventh: add a 2.5" strip of the reads-as-solid.  Trim, press, turn & add a second strip of same.  You should once again have a square & you are done.

Most of the fabric used is the reads-as-solid & again, a muslin would work very well for that, although any r-a-s that is unequivocally a light or a dark would be just fine.  The other fabrics you can hopefully find in your stash (well I couldn't find the red, but that's just me).

Blocks are due here the last Saturday in April, April 30th.  They will be swapped on May 1st & go to the post office no later than Wednesday May 4th.

Friday, March 4, 2011


On Wednesday the 2nd the mailing list for the Block Lotto winners was sent.  I know S***** felt bad about the delay (usually it goes out right after the drawing, which happened the last day of February), the reason for which seems to be a lone winner who was slow to reply with her info (& I am guessing was difficult to reach).  Having recently gone through similar gyrations  on the Facebook Quilt Block Swap Group, I feel her pain.

RANT ALERT: not once but TWICE the same meshugeneh signed up for a limited-space swap in the Fb QBSG, missed the first deadline, said "Oops, so sorry I forgot, but I am on track for the next one", confirmed she was on track for the next one until the week before that deadline when she disappeared, & stayed disappeared until she got the notice I was booting her from the group.  That's when I got a message that she had a recently dead relative.  I'm not saying she didn't; I just don't know how you can be on track seven days before the deadline & then have nothing done seven days after.  Flood, fire that would make more sense.  & before someone gets excited & posts to tell me how hard it is to get even completed quilt blocks into the mail when such a thing happens, keep in mind blocks need to be in the mail almost a week in advance to make the deadline & she posted she was on-track three days before that.

Sooooo, back to Block Lotto:  some new rules are in place & I cannot find a single scrap of one that looks unreasonable.  Reading between the lines, though, it looks like she has been getting some behind-the-scenes flak.  One of the disadvantages of running a digital group, where you never get to see & know most of the individuals in the group is it is hard not to interpret criticisms as from the whole group instead of recognizing there are one or two fringers with nothing better to do with their time.  For a long time I had a criticism from a long-gone swapper taped to my refrigerator; the gist was that I was not a christian & unworthy (I distinctly remember the word "unworthy") of receiving her quilt blocks...or her participation...?  It is a bit hazy, the print-out tore over a year ago & I took it down.  I do distinctly remember what she why she complained:  our swap is send five blocks get five others back.  She sent three for which she 1) expected five back, 2) was not happy with the three she got & 3) wanted her original three back.

After that, when anyone complained (& there were not ill-will complaints: mostly blocks that did not meet the requirements slipping thru, & once a person only received four blocks instead of five while I had zero unaccounted for blocks to explain this & no one else coming forward with six instead of five- it turned out to be static cling & the fifth was found among the four), it was hard not to hear that same unreasonable whinging message & lump these in with them, which might have been the death of the group.  So I kept it taped up as a reminder that one crazy-bitch-meany does not equal all crazy-bitch-meanies.  It sounds goofy, but it helped. 

What was this post about again?  Oh right, I mailed my heart lotto blocks earlier today.  Congrats winners!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Happy Cow Mating Day

A long long time ago, decades even my sister was a freshman at an educational institution in the great state of Vermont. Wait, let me go back a bit further: in addition to being the homeland of the Green Mountain Boys (& if you are big on your own patriotism & you don't know who they are you should hang your head in shame), it is also the birth place of Ben & Jerry's famous ice cream.  & those B&J cows are everywhere.  Not just as Ben & Jerry's trademark, but the actual cow-cows. 

Back to my sister.  She is ticking along, being a student-that whole gig, when she learns there will be no class on March the first because it is Cow Mating Day.  She already knew they took their cows seriously & as a family we have a long standing bad habit of asking fewer questions the crazier something sounds & so Happy Cow Mating Day it was.  As for how long it took to get resolved, I either never knew or just plain forgot (my money is on never knew-see previous sentence) but it did eventually get straightened out.  While many of the original thirteen colonies/new england states do still have old-time-y town meetings, only Vermont has such a day designated as a state holiday & they call it Town Meeting Day.  Go ahead say it aloud...with a Vermont accent...while standing next to a giant cut-out of a holstein:  Cow Mating Day?  It could be.

This means the people of Vermont, if they choose, may take this day to participate in local politics.  Even in 2011 many towns still hold their annual meetings on this day & vote on budgets; in Vermont all town budgets must be approved by a direct vote of the electorate.

What else can I say except that this is hardly the strangest idea coming out of Vermont to take hold nationwide.  Those born in Vermont include Brigham Young & Joseph Smith (yes, him of the magic underwear), Rudy Vallee, Robert Frost, Wilson Bentley, etc.  As for those who worked & died in Vermont how about Shirley JacksonNorman Rockwell & even one who while never in my lit classes was associate with Vermont wrote his most famous work there: Rudyard Kipling wrote The Jungle Book in Brattleboro.

Finally I would not want to forget those Green Mountain Boys at the top of the page.  Green Mountain for the vert mont in which they lived & boys because they were a band of high spirited testosterone-overloaded youngsters who were not about to let some occupying government collect taxes & give them nothing for it. In an interesting statistical sidebar: Vermont has also registered the most casualties in Afghanistan & Iraq as a percentage of their overall population.  Yes, other states have lost more, but Vermont barely had them to lose. 

So let me be the first, probably, to ever wish you a most joyous Cow Mating Day.  You can celebrate by eating all natural diary products & participating in the day-to-day administration of your local governing body.  I will observe the day teaching C****** how to make home-made yogurt.  No, really.