Friday, July 27, 2012

You know, you need your rest

Today is one of those days.  There are...let's call them celebrations, all loosely around a general idea, but don't seem to have all that much to do with each other.  It is kind of like finding the handle of an old jug in one old field & the spout of the same jug in another one, miles away (does this ever happen?  who would know?).

I will begin with the oldest I could find:  today is the day of the seven sleepers.  In early christian times, seven young men were persecuted into leaving their city lives behind because they would not give up christianity & went to live in a cave.  After what I am guessing really would have been an exhausting few days, they all fell asleep (on the other hand I am personally acquainted with five 3 month old kittens that have more sense than this; one of them is always awake to alert the others).  The pagan ruler saw his opportunity & sealed them in.  They slept & slept & slept until 100, 200, 300 years later when the cave was opened by a farmer who knew nothing of the sleepers inside (& yet knew there was a cave-he had plans to use it for livestock).  The farmer found the seven men, still young, still in their own native dress  years out of date just waking up. There is a more official church version of this story in which the boys are indeed killed, tossed into the cave & do not rise from the dead (it would be confusing).  The boys in this version are martyrs:  Maximian, Malchus, Martinian, Dionysius, John, Serapion, and Constantine.  If you are of a mind, you can travel to the site & hear the story from the locals. People seem to like stories about long term sleepers.  Rip van Winkle comes to mind.  So does King Arthur.  I can think of another legendary person who has been asleep for 2012 years, give or take 32, but is expected by many to rise again.

So that's one sleeping story for today, but there is another.  In Finland it is National Sleepy Head Day.  Apparently, the last person still abed when the rest of the house is awake gets tossed into a body of water or at the least has water poured over them.  The medieval town of Naantili chooses a local celebrity to publicly dunk.  Every mayor has been tossed into water, as well as 100s of others.  & the practice has spread to the US, the way these things do, at least as far as Denver.

So. Oversleeping would be the overall theme for today.  I myself plan to celebrate with what I am guessing is probably traditional nap.  & then maybe going to bed early tonight.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

To the person who dumped a litter of kittens at the top of our dirt road, just off a four lane highway

Dear Asshat:

Not sure when you did it, but when I went for my daily run on Friday the 13th we (me & the friend I was running with) found five (5) kittens.  Actually, they kind of found us; two of them ran into the street yowling & they all looked emaciated.  It took a while but we managed to catch 2 of them,  Actually at one point we had 4 of them but a car went by & spooked them; we all have scratches to prove just how spooked they were.

Those 2 kittens came home with me & spent most of the weekend hiding in the dense underbrush around my house.  They were frantic to rejoin the others but being over a mile away they could not hear them yowling back & also there was food at my house.  I saw 2 of the 3 kittens when I went back later that Friday & again when I ran on Saturday, but by Sunday they seemed to have disappeared.

On Sunday evening the kittens at my house moved into a tree at the front door & kept poor A awake for a good part of the night.  Monday morning A***** came by to run again; the kittens hanging in the tree crying for their siblings were hard to miss.  We went for our run & on the return trip, we heard them.  Just like before 2 of them came out to us but the last kitten hung back.  I didn't talk about this with A**** at the time but I knew we could not take the other 2 & leave just 1; it wouldn't survive the night.

I ran for the truck & the pet carrier & cat food while A***** managed to get all 3 of them to follow her almost 1/4 mile back towards my house & away from the highway.  By the time we caught all of them I was bleeding COPIOUSLY from several wounds on my right hand & I'm sure A***** had scratches too (I can also tell you she didn't smell all that good in the closed cab of the truck for the ride home; a 2 1/2 mile run + cat food being smeared all over her took a toll).  At the house, the 3 were reunited with the 2 & there has hardly been any noise since.  What they have been doing for the past 4 days is making up for lost time in the eating & sleeping department.  They also made a visit to a vet (very likely the step that made you decide they had to go because it costs money).  They were nice & calm & purred through most of the exam.

At this point, I realize you might be thinking this played out just fine for everyone: you didn't have to deal with them & still they are headed for good homes.  Think again.  Generally cats that draw blood & have no medical record are euthanized.  Immediately.  & the person who gets bit gets to go through the whole rabies vaccination thing.  It hurts.  Also it isn't free & even if it is covered by insurance there is a $120 co-pay (guess how I know this).  For $45, you could have had their mother spayed.

The euthanizing is merciful compared to the usual end for dumped animals; our vet calls them coyote snack packs.  Because ours is a neighborhood of family farms, it is a magnet for heartless slacker pet owners like you.  & because so many unwanted animals get dumped here, we have a higher than average coyote population harassing our livestock, killing chickens, turkeys, ducks, etc.

Believe it or not the story I related is the short version.  I did not tell you about the family that pulled over with their full horse trailer & tried to help to catch the kittens the first time, or the farmer that saw me when I went back Friday evening & left his work to make sure someone hadn't broken down, or the woman at the house we finally caught the kittens who is caring for her daughter-in-law's 3 dogs each of which was also dumped in their turn at the same intersection. 

As revolting as we all find you to be, it is nothing compared to our disgust at how stoopid you are.  We all presume you were just too cheap to deal with the kittens ethically.  As it happens, you unloaded them in a county with MULTIPLE agencies that would have inoculated them & placed them in foster homes at no charge to you. 

So you put a neighborhood to inconvenience & expense for quite literally no reason at all.  It is my fondest wish that some day, maybe when you are old & cannot care for yourself, that the people you always thought would help you instead heave you out of the back of a pick-up to die in a ditch by the side of the road.  I am only sorry it can only happen once.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Bishop strikes again

A few weeks ago, I related an encounter with a neighborhood doberman who scarred the crap out of me.  A day or two later, when I ran by the same house the woman made a point of coming out & talking to me, letting me know they were very sorry, he was a young dog it would never happen again, etc.  She seemed very contrite & I believed her.  She also insisted Bishop would never hurt anyone & I believe she believed it.

Since then I have been alert when I go by that house, but there was never another problem.  Until this morning.  While I was running on the opposite side of the street, I saw the front door open & a younger (I am guessing teenage) woman hauled Bishop out by his collar into the unfenced front yard & then quickly, so no one could see she was wearing nothing but pink underwear & a t-shirt, scooted back inside & shut the door.  Bishop started to sniff a bush or something, saw me running & took off after me.  I screamed HEY HEY, the door opened the girl called Bishop back in (& he went) & that was more or less it. 

Actually she called out "Sorry, he has never done that before" & I answered "Fuck you, this is the second time he has done that to ME".  I guess those years in Joisey never really left my psyche.  The woman/girl looked quite startled (I don't think she was used to complete strangers talking to her like that, never mind at 8:30 in the morning).

I did my usual run & when I went back past Bishop's house there was no people visible & no Bishop.  There was also no street number on the mailbox or I would have made a call to animal control when I got home.  We live in a rural enough area that the houses while more or less numbered in order, the numbers don't follow one another very closely; we are 1713, our immediate neighbor is 1805.  Further up the street where the lots are closer together they are numbered, I kid you not: 727, 729, 713, & 733.  The lots were renumbered in the 1980's to make ambulance service faster but, well, someone screwed up. Once when 713 actually needed an ambulance, the crew spent precious minutes looking for the house along the stretch of road where 713 would be if there was one (there isn't; it's a field); now when she calls for anything from the county, she gives the number of the house next door & someone goes into the street to flag it down.  Big improvement.

So.  A thinks I should go to the house, knock on the door & explain why this business of letting a doberman run free is not the best plan.  I feel like that has 1) already been established & 2) they don't actually believe it is a problem.  I don't expect animal control will do a damn thing until they get complaints from several people over time, but I also think it needs to start some where. 

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Running with the girls

I am a 36 C.  Not small, but not big really.  Just enough to be very uncomfortable during anything bouncy; when I go horse back riding I wear not one but two high impact sports bras.  That's in Florida heat, on top of a sweaty horse.  Believe me, I wish there was a better choice.  Turns out, there is.

Flash forward to my 47th birthday when I decided I was going to run a 5k later this year.  I started by walking away from home for 30 minutes & then walking back along the same route (one of my goals throughout this has been to take no more than an hour a day for this & mostly that has been do-able).  By the second week, I was ready to do one minute run/one minute walk intervals.  That first time was brutal.  I had only a moderate impact bra that fit comfortably & it was far from adequate.

Once I got home I had the struggle that is getting out of a heavy-duty, strap-them-down-like-a-bullet-proof-vest style bra.  I tried to avoid looking at myself in the mirror during the whole thing.  More than once I have come in from the barn & needed A's help to pull one of those things over my head (seriously, if it gets twisted under one arm & pins the other, you are screwed); trying to pull two off, one over the other is quite the operation.  One wrong move & you are trapped in a sequence that looks more like a snake regurgitating a belly dancer than anything else.  It feels like that, too.

Later that same day, I trucked down to Sports Authority & against my nature plonked down $30 for a new high impact bra.  It is also a zip-front bra, a style I have seen of course but always thought was too stoopid to be worth the extra $$; I only got it this time because it was on a clearance rack & marked down (that's right, marked down to $30).  When this thing is on it makes me look flat-chested, except for the strange ridge that is the zipper itself. 

So the next day, I put it on & went for my intervals.  Let's just say it was not until I got all the way to the last set that I remember I had ever been bothered by bounce bounce bounce.  This gave me more opportunity to concentrate on all the other things I hate about running, but still an improvement.  When I got home & ready to shower, zzzzzzzzzzzzzip & I was free.

Since then I have gathered up all the old style, zipper free sports bras & sent them off into the world.  I have no idea if Goodwill sells slightly (too slightly) used sports bras, but there they went.  I wore & washed that first zip-front bra every day for a couple weeks until I found them (much cheaper) on-line.  I would have paid full price at Sports Authority but they have a policy against stocking anything that might sell well; I know this because I asked the cashier if this was the case & she said it does sometimes seem like that yes.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Broken watermelon dishes part 2 for October 2012

First let me say that I had already picked the block, made the samples & written the directions before it registered that this block (Brackman 1193a-Broken Dishes) is very very similar to (OKay, the same as) the component block from last year.  Yes it is a 4-patch of 1/2-square triangles but I promise that is where it ends... 

What can I say, the end of summer/beginning of school quilt block swap can be tricky.  In general interest is high but available time is low.  I thought if we could make a component  block again; that is a block that can stand on it's own, but also is part of a larger block & then I thought wouldn't it be great if I came up with a pair of component blocks & we could do a swap for all the pieces, then I found a larger block made up of equal parts of two smaller blocks & thought YAY! I got started & finished before that penny dropped that we were making the same block.  Sorry.

The name of the larger block in this case is not entirely clear, but I have been calling the whole thing broken dishes ( I made a version of this quilt once before & you can see the completed quilt here).  "Broken Dishes" is actually the name of just this block.   The quilt was made from alternating "Broken Dishes", a 4-patch of 1/2-square triangles & a variation on snowballs (our August block "Broken Plates" ) & I will put up directions as well as other suggestions when the swaps are further along. 

To make one October 2012 swap block you will need eight (8) different fabrics.  The good news is a 4" square of each of these fabrics should be enough to make two (2) blocks.  Everyone has scraps hanging around right?

Now for part deux.  As with the August block, all your fabrics should be limited to colors found in ...a watermelon.  The fabrics don't have to show the image of a watermelon (it is better if they don't actually).  They don't even have to read-as-solid (although it is better if at least half of them do) just so long as EVERY color shown is a color you could find in a watermelon.  I promise this is not so limiting as it sounds:  watermelons include green, from dark to light & well over into the yellows, pink from hot pink to palest baby pink, black, brown, white, off-white, etc.  Because this is a component block (that is, this block paired with another block to make a larger overall pattern), I am asking people to avoid using an all white, white on white or even mostly white fabric; the other component is almost all white & the edges will be blurry if any of these are as well.

& while I do not want to be the color police I am also asking people avoid using ANY blue or purple-colors never found in watermelon, at least not one you would ever eat.  I discarded a dense pink floral that had just a few flowers with pale blue centers.  On the other hand, while orange is not a color usually associated with watermelon, general melon yes but not watermelon, although I think General Melon would be a great name for an alternative superhero.  Maybe a sidekick.  I digress.  Let me start again: I had trouble finding pinks without some orange or coral overlap, so I guess a little very little orange, mixed in won't kill anyone (sorry Mom, I know you had strong feelings on this one).  Ditto red.  But for both of these less is a whole lot more.

Let's begin:

Cut eight (8) different fabrics into 4" squares.  Sort them into pairs of one light & one dark, or rather lighter to darker.  I find the easiest way is to identify those fabrics that are without a doubt dark & without a doubt light & pair those with the mediums.  

Make 1/2-square triangles using your preferred method.  My preferred method is described in previous posts here & here, but it is results that matter.  You should end up with a 1/2-square triangle that is 3.5" square. Actually, you should end up with 4 different squares (2 of each) for a total of eight & enough for two blocks.  If they are a bit big (mine were), please do square them to 3.5" before moving to the next step

Take the 4 1/2-square triangles & arrange them, 2 with the darkest side to the center & 2 with the lightest side to the center.  Keep in mind, the light/dark thing is relative to the pair; the contrast is not going to be super-sharp & that is OKay.

 As always, we swap in sets of FIVE.  Blocks are due IN HOUSE the last Saturday of October, October 27th.  You send five blocks & get five back (you are welcome to include a 6th block for a donation quilt; if no one asks to be the 6th block person you will get your own block back).   If you would like to include these blocks to be swapped in your August swap block package, you can BUT keep in mind you will not get any blocks back until after the second swap (this swap, the October swap) has happened.  Lastly, you do not need to participate in both swaps to participate in one, nor do you need to participate equally in both.  You can make multiple sets for this swap & none for the other.

Broken watermelon plates part 1 for August 2012

The next two swaps are separate swaps BUT they can be combined in equal parts to make a larger overall block (you can see the whole completed quilt in a very different colorway here).  The first part of the component block is due the last Saturday of August.  You do not need to participate in both swaps to participate in one, nor do you need to participate equally in both.  You can make multiple sets for this swap & none for the other or whatever.

The colorway is...watermelon.  This is not so limiting as it sounds:  watermelons include green, from dark to light & well over into the yellows, pink from hot pink to palest baby pink, black, brown, etc.  You will also need a white or white-on-white.

You will need four 3.5" squares of different fabrics in the watermelon colorway, one for each corner of the "plate".   By watermelon colors I mean all your fabrics should be limited to colors found in a watermelon.  The fabrics don't have to show the image of a watermelon (it is better if they don't actually).  They don't even have to read-as-solid (although it is better if at least 1/2 of them are).  Watermelons include green, from dark to light & even some of the greenish yellows, pink from hot pink to palest baby pink, black, brown, etc.

Please do not use blues or purples or anything with a lot of white in either the background or the pattern.  Blue & purple are not generally to be found in watermelon, not a good one anyhow, & white is the other color you will be using for this particular block: one 6.5" square for each.  If there is white in the corner pieces, the whole thing gets kinda blurry.

Let's begin:

Cut four (4) fabrics into 3.5" squares.  Ideally you will have a mix of dark, light & medium fabrics.

With a pencil or a disappearing fabric pencil, you can very faintly mark a straight line from one corner to the other on the BACK of each square.  However, as you will be stitching directly on this line (not 1/4" from it) & you want to be sure there is no line to show through, you could instead fold the squares along the bias & press in the line from corner to corner instead of drawing one.  This second method is how I did it.

Match the square you marked with one corner of the larger white or white-on-white square, right sides together & stitch on this line, creating a solid white or white-on-white diamond surrounded by 4 different watermelon-colored corners.  I find the easiest way is to deal with two opposite corners at a time, then press them back & deal with the other two corners.

& you are done.  That is this whole block, but do not put the scraps away just yet.  The post for the other component of the larger block (due the last Saturday in October, October 27th) is right after this one & you can use some of the same scraps in that one.  Let me stress you do not have to do both, just that they can be put together (in equal parts) to make this quilt, as well as a number of other variations.

As always, we swap in sets of FIVE.  Blocks are due IN HOUSE the last Saturday of August, August 25th. You send five blocks & get five back (you are welcome to include a 6th block for a donation quilt; if no one asks to be the 6th block person you will get your own block back).