Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Raining & pouring

The kitchen contents are packed, the kitchen is a giant hole in the middle of the house, I don't have time to be in my sewing room never mind the space to move in.  What more could I possibly want?  Oh right, unrelated internet problems CHECK, a recurrence of a thought-we-solved-that plumbing issue CHECK, a delay in the kitchen sink (because- get this- the company that makes them didn't know they made them & the company that placed the order placed the order wrong; I know right?) CHECK.  & then some good news:  I won the Block Lotto!  Again!

I loved this block from the moment I saw it.  I even loved the different sizes.  I envy the Block Lotto-er who was able to make the quilt using a variety of sizes so quickly (you just know her kitchen is not in boxes in her sewing room). 

I wanted this block (so greedy after winning last month as well) so bad that I promised the Block Lotto gods I will donate the rest of my chances for the rest of the year.  & I plan to.  But I never said how many I would make...  On the other hand if I am going to renegotiate with the universe AFTER I have gotten what I wanted maybe I deserve my kitchen sink to go AWOL.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Caveat Emptor

It is back-to-school time here in the Land of Flowers.  On Thursday, campus was a mob scene, I am told.  I missed it because I was chasing a cow across my neighborhood.  Yes, I am fully aware that if a student gave this as an excuse for missing an exam A would probably not believe her.  On the other hand, pretty much whatever your cockamamie excuse, you can get on the list for the make-up at the end of the semester which is convenient for no one (being slam before finals when, if you are taking any other classes you probably have other stuff to do), so you would be crazy to miss an exam for no-good-reason & burden yourself with the make-up, but whatever.

What was I saying?  Oh, right, Let The Buyer Beware.  Over at Poodle (and dog) a discussion has sprung up around a class action lawsuit wherein the students of a law school are suing the school for misrepresenting employment numbers for previous graduates.  Let me break it down:  the kids say the school told them they would probably get jobs after graduation because X previous students have gotten jobs & it turns out X is not a real number.  I mean an truthful number; X is of course a real number in that it is a number of quantity in a continuum blah-de-blah-blah.  The students are not alleging that X is the square root of a negative number, but that the school more or less made X up to make their degrees appear more desirable to the individual about to go in debt to the tune of tens of thousands (if not hundreds of thousands) of dollars.  Got that?  Good.

So the discussion begins & there are a few different perspectives.  J** expressed it as an irony (I could be wrong, but I think it is actually satire because of the whole opposite-juxtaposition thing, but I might be wrong & also she is a nice person so I didn't go there on her blog but somehow felt compelled to mention it here.  Yes, I'm a bitch).  Next up was a recently graduated student who was not jazzed about the "There are too many bottom-feeders already & I do not mean catfish" tone.  J** was very polite to her (I think a "her", I could be wrong, what do I know); more polite than I would have been.  Suffice to say she did not respond with "Oh Kitten, if you cannot take the heat from a blog about family pets maybe you should get out of the courtroom".  The follow-up has been less sympathetic.  One person (not me) pointed out there has been a well-documented glut of lawyers so how could a person applying to law schools not realize this would be a factor, regardless of where they went?  I don't know the source but my own research (commercials on tv mostly) would indicate there do seem to be a lot of lawyers out there, but they also seem to have healthy advertising budgets so business is.....good?

I told you that story to tell you this one.  A used to (& will again, no doubt) teach a large seminar class taken primarily by future engineers.  There were a lot of them (there still are) & they were a mixed bag in the way all large groups are.  Among those in the bag were the handful who materialized at the end of every semester having blown off homework, labs, flunked exams etc. wanting to negotiate their grade.  By & large they were not so successful; with such a big group of students, the guidelines for how grades are handed out are largely determined by the department, or departments in a cross-discipline class.  That guy you are giving such a hard time to has not-so-much control over your grade as a real number, but PLENTY of control over what he puts in the letter of recommendation you will so foolishly request when applying to grad school (this actually happens; so far he has resisted the temptation to write:  she was a mediocre student who couldn't follow instructions & got pissy when she didn't get her way).

As for the rest of the students, so long as they work within the existing framework, things go much smoother.  The school will even let you take the class over&over&over again until you get the desired grade & each time your improved grade will overwrite the previous one, so only a review of your semester-by-semester transcript will show that you have ever been there before.  That and your bill.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

This week in cow

Dear M******,

I know I usually send a "this week in cow" update by e-mail.  Also it is usually about the week.  All I can think about right now is This Morning in Cow.  What a bad cow!  She knocked a board out (breaking it: bad bad cow) & made her way inot the main pasture.  After that, she chased the horses, donkey, goats around..

OKay, maybe she was not chasing them.  Maybe she just wanted to go where they were top speed.  Fortunately Ira, in all his goofiness was in his stall, & Becca-Pony as well, so everyone mostly just did laps around the barn.  I finally got her in the milk stand an hour late & got a WHOPPING 2 cups from her.

Once she was off the milk stand, I let her back into the big pasture (what the hell, right?) & she jumped, JUMPED the back fence (a top plank was down & I did not see, shame on me).  Once in the alley between our place & next door she trampled the old barbed wire barrier & spent a frolicking hour with at the neighbors (not the red neck who goes hunting drunk & never manages to shoot himself but the other on the other side which is a guy my brother would describe as Most Likely to Kill Buckwheat).

In the end I took down more boards, hauled her thru & put them back up.  It is pouring rain now & she is quite pissed to be out in the big pasture now that she has seen ALL the others are eating every morsel of grass from her pasture.  So, I am thinking of getting hay sometime later today. 

Not that any of this is anything you need to worry about, but I do have some actual info for you: I am almost out of jars (there was one big one left I thought I would use this morning).  Also I made 24 hour yogurt & put it in the fridge this afternoon & last of all I have some yogurt spread, also fermented extra long.  Are you still thinking of borrowing some books & bread forms?  Any interest in coming by Saturday afternoon (or later if you want to milk)?  The kitchen cabinets arrive Tuesday so I am packing the kitchen starting then. 

I know you want to test-drive the yogurt maker; I want to hang onto it until the last possible moment but then I will deliver with whatever starter I have left & I will write up the recipes (I have more than one, go me!).


PS:  this is the absolute best, most favorite granola recipe ever!  Thank you!  Apparently I do like apricots.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Garden Maze block: LAST CALL

Wow, what a month this has been!  Yea, I know it's only the middle of the month, but it took all my energy just to surface here.  It is only a matter of time before the next wave takes me under & then it will be September.

So, to be quick & yet informative:  the August Facebook Quilt Block Swap group block (Garden Mazes, directions here) is still happening.  Blocks are due in-house the last Saturday of this month, which means a week from this Saturday or Saturday August 27th, 2011. 

If you are not part of the Facebook group, you need only ask to join (because people's home addresses are printed for swapping purposes it is a semi-closed group).   Search on "quilt Block Swap" &   If you are not interested in joining on Facebook but do want to swap, just leave a message here with an e-mail address so I can send you the instructions. 

I can see from the Blogger STATS page, the October block is getting  A LOT of traffic, which is great, but the August bock has not closed yet.  Yes, it is on the large side but the center square is any 6" (finished) 4-patch or 9-patch of your choosing so long as one of the fabrics used has a floral pattern visible somewhere in the block itself.  As for the maze border, one of the two fabrics used should have some green, it doesn't have to read-as-solid or even be all green.  If this block cannot be cut from the average scrap-bag, I really don't know what block could be.

As for what to do with the blocks you get back:  six of them (five swapped & one kept) would make a simple table runner; a few more could be a wide border to a larger quilt with a garden-y-themed center panel. & as always, a sixth block sent with your five-to-swap will go to one person in the group making a quilt for her community (I will start saying "his or her" when we get the first male 6th block quilt maker.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Don't come around here no more OR Step One

I fell in like-a-lot with the July Block Lotto block as soon as I saw it.   I am a fan of off-kilter graphic designs & I knew right away it had real potential in combo with large scale novelties (I am on an eternal quest for not-so-obvious places to insert smaller pieces of a large scale print).  Yes, I know, not everyone looks at 10" 16-patches & says "needs something big & confusing, pattern-wise", but there you are.

First let me show you one of the sets I made.  Alice in Wonderland just as she meets the Cheshire Cat, right?  Hence the title of this post (you are actually most welcome to come around as often as you like, cyberly anyway).

& then on July 31st I learned I won! 48 of these puppies will be working their way to me (I kept none of the blocks I posted because I had made a few back-ups for a not-yet-determined project; I really enjoyed MAKING this block).  That same week another quilt-blogger of my digital acquaintance asked how it was that I never took the process pledge.  The answer is mostly I never thought of it.  Also my process is not exactly linear; very few things come to me even in a roundabout way.  Mostly I stare at blank walls until it just seems like it has always been that way. You read that right - I do not have a design wall.  & brace yourselves, quilters...I could have a design wall; I choose not to.  I have a hard enough time staying interested in a project that is draped across my sewing table & even then, once I am finished I am very likely to send it elsewhere, so sick am I of thinking about it.  If I actually had to look at the d*mn thing, on the wall I just might stop quilting all together.  Have I ever mentioned deadlines make me tense?  Well they do & a design wall is a giant looming deadline as far as I am concerned. 

So here it is:

Step One- try not to think too hard about the quilt design.  This is best accomplished by never looking at the potential components directly or as a whole.  I'm really not kidding.  Instead heap everything together, ideally on a surface not quite large enough so that it periodically falls over & everything gets reshuffled & jumbled.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

What would Wallace do?

Living in a college town (OKay, in a town that is college-town-adjacent), we hear a lot (A LOT) about how impractical artistic intellectual types have no business sense.  Did I mention I live in a farming town?  Have you ever heard of an industry more rife with hard working, below par businessmen than small farming?  Seriously, the hours they put in & what they barely get for that?  I'm not saying I'm not grateful, just that I had a hard time keeping a straight face while I bought my feed before they knew I was laughing at them.

Anyway, farming is neither here nor there because today is Wallace Stevens birthday.  Wallace Steven is almost the first poet I ever heard of, mostly because his stomping ground was my stomping ground, although I was not born until decade after his death.  He won a Pulitzer for his poetry.  He was also at the helm of a major Hartford insurance group for many many years (I have actually seen I-don't-know-how-many live performances in a theater named for him in the gynormous office building that is the home of the same insurance company).  Wallace Stevens was born into a prominent conservative family & was himself a member of the Republican Party & had strong anti-labor union beliefs.  When he married his wife, a woman from a working class background, his parents refused to attend the ceremony; he never spoke to them again.

So I think we can all agree it would be hard to predict what Wallace would do, so enough about him now lets talk about my cow.  Wait, one more thing about Wallace Stevens:  his poetry really is marvelous.  None of that black-is-the-color-of-my-true-love's-heart-hair-whatever that has become a cliche.  One of my favorites is Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird.  I also like the Peggy Lee's version of Bye Bye Blackbird, which is not relevant except you can hear it here.

Let me present my version titled This Many Ways of Looking at Milking My Cow:

I. Misty or steamy there is
nothing like the smell
of potent lady cow

II.  Her bag pushes her legs further
apart, arched up to her back
her back is bony table

III.  Myself folded & reaching
underneath for the wrinkled
gorilla fingers swelling smooth

IV.  One two one
one two two
one two three
one two four

IV.  Sometimes I dream that someone is
twisting my hands, pulling my fingers straight
folding  them, turning them
slowly like mozzarella

V.  I saw the cord in the mirror
in my arm, when I reached to put away the towels.
These are new muscles.

& finally   VI.  You know those men - it's always men - who like to squeeze your hand until your finger tips turn blue & pretend it is just a friendly handshake?  I can make those men cry.

I think it is safe to say Wallace would be spinning in his grave.  Also, I really need to get some sleep.  Good night.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Goodbye old kitchen

The kitchen in my house is mostly original; the house was built in 1977.  The cabinets, the soffits (& the wallpaper!) are certainly original.  The dishwasher was new in '99, all the other appliances are older than that, but probably not pushing 50 (maybe 35).

This means that around the same time someone first walked into my kitchen, the Sex Pistols had just released their first album with one of my favorite songs, actually, while Fleetwood Mac released their most important album & another song I really do like; Jimmy Carter took office & pardoned draft dodgers; Anwar Sadat went to Israel & started talking peace with Menachem Begin; at the movies Tony Monero danced his way into the night, while in a galaxy far, far away... well you all know what happened there; & finally back here on earth Fonzie jumped the shark.  In short, this kitchen has been overdue for a while.  Half the people who eat (& cook) here on a regular basis were not born when this kitchen was installed & they can all vote & purchase alcohol, legally even; some of them have children of their own & some of those kids are in school.  OKay, pre-school.

So it is goodbye old kitchen.  Goodbye fan/peacock/whatever that pattern is supposed to be wall paper.  Goodbye wagon wheel detailing, you were handy for sorting the dry cleaning.  Goodbye refrigerator whose door never did open all the way because of that weird pantry shelf.  & goodbye weird pantry shelf; I'm still not sure what you were supposed to be anyway.  Goodbye breakfast bar, you were maybe a good idea but never really worked for us.  & goodbye to your buddy, the over-head cabinets with doors on both sides of the bar, it was fun pushing things all the way thru & out the other side; that's when we stopped stocking up on canned goods...

Goodbye, kitchen.  We'll always have that Thanksgiving I broke my leg walking out the front door.


Seriously, what is the deal on those wagon wheels?  Was this ever fashionable, even in 1977?