Sunday, December 29, 2013

Sameness circa Geoffrey Chaucer, 14th century give or take

It has been a while, but I am back on the Chaucer bus.  I am supposed to have the Knights Tale re-re-read by New Year's eve, but it is not looking promising.  Sorry A*****, this business of colicing horse on Christmas Eve is still eating into my time.  Then there is all the usual year-end craziness, even though we barely celebrate Christmas (but I did get my mah jong set woo-hoo) craziness, personal year end stuff, also the students wrapping up & trying to get out of town & some of them graduating & not coming back so they can be little bit wired.  Lastly, there are actual students coming back after getting advanced degrees elsewhere (we have been here a long time) & one HILARIOUS story about two former students meeting in Prof. R******'s lab & now they are married with kids.  The time really does fly.

So, the Knight's Tale.  I am remembering...via my notes how hilarious I found this the last time I read it.  Yes, it was a while ago, but wholly unrelated to deciding to sit down & do this again, but all the way to the end this time, I have been thinking on certain elements of the Knight's Tale lately.  Specifically, the way the knight had to make the fair maiden, well, fair, despite all evidence to the contrary what with her being the sister of the Queen of the Amazons.  Yes, yes I know Wonder Woman was an Amazonian princess as well, but as far as mythical figures taking on the audiences characteristics go, Wonder woman just keeps proving my point.

That was a lot of commas!  Let me see if I can think it out in smaller pieces.  The knight is describing a desirable woman.  He describes her as looking an awful lot like...the mother of his fair haired son probably looked.  The knight does this even though he is telling a story about a warring Athenian prince & some other prince from Thebes.  I guess this is BECAUSE if they don't look like him, he just cannot relate, although there is plenty of evidence he doesn't look anything like I would imagine an ancient Greek might look.  What news story could possibly have triggered this thinking in me?  Hmmmm.

Just to be clear, I don't care what anyone who might have existed might have looked like, but I do find this business of insisting they must have looked a certain way intriguing.  & there is always what they zero in on.  No one is going to the wall insisting a particular figure was probably quite short, except for Napoleon, which turns out is very likely a myth anyhow.

But whatever, that is not really what I wanted to talk about today, exactly.  Today is the martyr day of Thomas à Becket.  You can get all the info you want on himself elsewhere, I will just give you the highlights:  he was made Archbishop of Canterbury by a king who thought he would be the king's man in Canterbury.  Turns out Thomas à Becket was his own man & started telling the king what he could do with his influence.  This is not the first time a political appointee went his own way (US History buffs can start extolling on Chester Arthur or Warren Burger anytime now), but it was plenty big because best case scenario, the king accidentally had him killed.  I know, right?  Which is why we have the pilgrimage to Canterbury & the Canterbury Tales. 

I guess I am done, except did anyone else see that bit on Bill O'Reilly basting the pope? Because the pope is not God's man on earth if he disagrees with you, then he's just a crackpot.  I like how O'Reilly had mixed feelings on the former Nazi, but is completely certain the new guy is just wrong.  & I really like how he is pretty sure Jesus would not endorse a system that helped the poor at the expense of the rich.  Because it just might be human nature the think our heroes look just like us.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

The color & the shape for April 2014

We have not had a kid-specific block for almost a year (no, not even the Small World ladies were strictly for kids).  Yes, yes the Rainbow Connection swappers mostly seemed to be making kids quilts & maybe even last June's Regatta blocks or this month's Festivus blocks are going mostly to kids but in neither of those swaps were juvenile prints specifically asked for.   

For our April 2014 we will be making a raw-edge applique "stack", the first applique-only swap we have ever had.  & in another first, if you want to use flannel for one or more of your shapes, please do.  If you want to use an old sheet as your starting point (the 10.5" base) or even for any of your stacks, feel free.  Yes, whatever you use should still be cotton, but a mix of kinds of cotton is welcome, as long as none of them are stretchy or too dense (i.e. canvas). 

To begin, you will need a white or colored SOLID 10.5" square.  A 100% cotton bleached muslin is perfectly acceptable.  You can also use an old sheet so long as it is SOLID; by solid I mean a single color throughout (I feel a little ridiculous defining solid, but believe it or not here was once a problem).  If you have never done machine applique before you might want to avoid the old sheet the first time; sheets are often more slippery than muslin & can get away from you.

This first 10.5" square is the base of your stack; you will need at least two more fabrics & they can be any non-stretch cotton.  Old flannel shirt, fine; big, bold primary print, fine.  Because this is a kids specific block, primary colors, bright colors, juvenile or graphic patterns are all welcome.  .  There should also be a clear distinction from one layer to the next (please do not stack a pale print with a white background on top of a pale print with a white background). 

The first level of your stack can be a circle, square, rectangle or hexagon.  You can use triangles for other levels but if you begin with a triangle you will run out of room to work very quickly.  For the example I began with a 6.5" square & set it on point.  The first fabric in both of these examples is 100% cotton flannel. 

In both of my examples, the first square is not all-white, but it could have been,  The raw edges will fluff up after the washing & there will be a clear delineation from one shape/layer to the next.  As an experiment I made a stack of three different white fabrics & while it does not photograph well, in person the edges are distinct. 

I pinned the zig-zag patterned flannel square using at least one pin on each edge along an imaginary line 1/4" from the edge.  I stitched inside that line.  The stitches are almost 1/2" from the edge.  Your stitches should be a minimum of  3/8" (note:  NOT 1/4" as is usual but at least 3/8") from the edge. 

I decided to play with the decorative stitches on my machine & you can, too.  If you do elect to use the zig-zag stitch as your decorative stitch PLEASE run a line a of straight stitching on the inside of your decorative stitch (or over it, as I did in this example).  Just a plan zig-zag stitch is a little bit unstable & things tend to stretch & shift.  You can also use a contrasting thread if you wish, but plain old neutral thread, straight stitch is just fine, too. 

After you have stitched your first layer, flip the block over.  From the back, you need to make a tiny snip through JUST the bottom fabric (that is, the 10.5" base block) underneath the shape you just added.  Using that snip, cut an X across the back, stopping 3/8" or slightly more from the stitching line.  Remove each of the flaps always being careful NOT to cut the top fabric (the picture shows the X & two of the flaps gone), to remove bulk.  Another fabric is going to get sacked on top of this one but no one wants to quilt through more than 2 layers of fabric.  That being said, the wider-than-usual seam allowance on both sides of the stitched line is needed to keep the whole block stable.

Flip the block back, right side up & add another layer.  I added a 3" or 3.5" square, centering it on the first layer.  Again I pinned it on all four sides, stitched a bit more than 3/8" from the outer edge.

In this case all the stitching lines of the second layer (the solid-ish green layer) are inside the previous stitching lines, but yours does not have to be that way.  The top layer can "hang-off" the edge of the first layer, it can be a different shape, it can be a different color (although I would suggest working light to dark; a dark fabric, particularly one that is patterned, will show through a lighter top layer).

That is it, the whole block done.  I have since gone on & added another shape to the block on the right, but I wanted you to see how very different the same size block can look, depending on how it lines up with the 10.5" base.

This block needs a minimum of three different pieces of fabric, but they can all be from the same original fabric.  The base (10.5" x 10.5"), the first layer (in both my examples, I used a 6.5" square), & the top layer which can be the same shape or a different shape, it can be the same size or smaller.  You can go ahead & add another layer, but you don't have to.  I would also suggest you get a few of these under your belt before you try it.  Please limit yourself to non-stretch 100% cotton fabric (as always), but it is OKay to use quilting cotton, flannel, even old sheets.  Any 100% cotton that you can quilt though is welcome, even encouraged.  That being said, please do NOT use t-shirt material or canvas even if they are 100% cotton & if there is any question that a scrap might not be all cotton, please don't use it.  Only 100% cotton will fray the right way; polyester is too durable.

As always we swap in sets of FIVE, send five blocks get five back.  This is a big block; nine blocks could make a baby blanket.  This block would also work nicely for a fabric baby book.

We also have the option of including a 6th block.  6th blocks go to the member of our group who asks for them first & commits to making a quilt for a person or persons in their community.  Please don't ask for the blocks to make a quilt for your own use or a fund raiser, etc. (although you are of course free to do whatever you want with your own swapped blocks); the idea of the 6th block was for someone who would not otherwise get a quilt get the quilt.

Friendship Stars in February 2014

I thought it made sense to start off the year with a simple happy block:  the Friendship Star.  You can find a gazillion ways to make these & if you prefer your way to my way, have at it (the method my lovely co-host suggested can be found here).  All I ask is that your components work out to the same size (each of the nine squares that make up the star should be 3.5" unfinished, resulting in a completed block that is 9.5" unfinished/9" finished) & that the stars all have the same orientation, specifically the long edge of the star point should be on the left, & these points should work their way around the center uniformly.  Yes, that probably took longer to write than to just look at.

You will need THREE fabrics:

One of these fabric should be a DARK.  It can be solid or patterned, a single or multi-color.  It must contain a red or blue or black, or all three or just one of these here & other colors besides so long as it is primarily red &/or blue & or black.  There must be NO WHITE in your dark fabric (in most but not all cases, white moves a dark to a medium so this is probably moot but I wanted to be clear). 

One of the fabrics should be MEDIUM.  It also can be solid or patterned, a single or multi-color.  It must also contain red &/or blue &/or gray.  Many medium fabrics have black, so that may not be voidable, but black should not be the primary color.  There may even be some white, but this fabric should be primarily a color or colors. 

One of the fabrics should be LIGHT, specifically white or cream or gold or some combination of these three.  It should NOT contain any other colors than white &/or cream &/or gold, no matter how light they might be. 

The center square (which is just a single 3.5" square) can be either the medium or the dark fabric. 

The star points should be the other (if the center is dark, the star points should be medium; if the center is medium, the star points should be dark) You will need two 4" squares of this fabric OR if you want to try making eight half square triangles all at once (instructions below) you will need one 8.5" square. 

Let me repeat that:  one of these fabrics should be a medium & one of these should be a dark.  These to components should NOT be made from the same fabric (I know that seems obvious, given that one is a dark & one is a medium but some fabrics have enough variation that some parts could be called medium & some parts called dark). 

The background should be light, primarily white, cream or gold.  A bit of pattern in a white &/or cream &/or gold  is fine, so long as there are no colors except white, cream &/or gold.  You will need two 4" squares (or one 8.5" square) & four 3.5" squares of the background fabric.

& that's it for fabric. 

You can make the star points in pairs (two 1/2-square triangles at a time)  That method is outlined many places on the internet including on this blog here & here & here.  That method works just fine; it uses up smaller scraps which is never a bad thing BUT earlier this year I learned another method for making 1/2-square triangles in bulk- you will end up with eight which is enough for two of these stars, so three of these larger sets would be enough for six stars (five to swap & one for you). 

  • Begin with two 8.5" squares (as you get more comfortable with this method, you can knock it down to 8" squares, but that is unforgiving & if you are not very precise, you will end up with too-small 1/2-square triangles).  Just as in the other method, make a line from one corner to its opposite & then make a similar line from another corner to its opposite:  you will have an X across the square.

  • Stitch just as you would for the 1/2-square triangle above (1/4" on either side of each line), for a total of four lines of stitches.

  • Cut along each line.  Then cut from the tip op the triangle to the center of the base for each of the isosceles triangles you have made.  I realize this is the wordy way to go so you can find more pictures & detailed instructions here (& many other places besides, just search on "make eight half square triangles at once" in whichever search engine works best for you).
As I said above, you can make the 1/2-square triangles any way you want to so long as each one measures 3.5" when you begin assembling the block. 

Once you have your four solid background squares, you single solid center square (all 3.5") & your four 1/2-square triangles (cut down to 3.5"), lay them out thusly.  Please please please please be sure your star is spinning just like this one.  A star spinning the other way would be disruptive (& if you like that you can always make a backwards spinning star & keep it for yourself).  To make it wordy:  the correct layout will show the top 1/2-square triangle with star fabric on the lower left half of the square, background fabric on the upper right.

As always we swap in sets of FIVE, send five blocks get five back.  You have the option of including a 6th block.  6th blocks go to the member of our group who asks for them first & commits to making a quilt (or tote bags or what have you) for a person or persons in their community.  Please don't ask for the blocks to make a quilt for your grandson or a school raffle, etc. (although you are of course free to do whatever you want with your own swapped blocks); the idea of the 6th block was for someone who would not otherwise get a quilt get a quilt.

Monday, December 23, 2013

I've done it both ways

It is that time of year when people make all kinds of resolutions but I am pretty much not a resolution person.  I do things when I do them (I hand over what could be holiday/birthday gifts when I have them & I see you, if I remember making holiday gifts tricky to locate).

As for the usual resolutions:

I am already on a diet.  I can live with it, but I am not losing weight hand over fist.  It turns out I am built for famine.  Seriously.  I have often wondered what my evolutionary advantage might be:  I have life threatening allergies to things that are commonplace, my eyesight is poor, I am clumsy, & while I am not the whitest, most easily sunburned person I know I am the whitest skin person many people know (just last week V** said to me "This chick was WHITE, whiter than you even".)  The answer is I can cruise through my day on 500 calories with very little change in...well, anything.  So I don't have the resources & skills to fight for food, but I can live on a lot less.  There is more than one way to life. 

I am already exercising.  Okay, I was & I will again.  I stopped good reason, I don't want to talk about it.

I don't smoke.

I already enjoy life.

There are typical lists of resolutions everywhere & mostly I already do them, I will never want to or they just don't apply (more time with my kids, for example). 

This year I am making a list of things to do this year, because this time next year we are hoping for a baby cow so by Jan 2015 my resolution will be hauling my ass out twice a day to milk the mama cow.  & if the next time is anything like the last time, that will last 18months or so. 

So this year's resolution:  get whatever it is out of your system in 2014 because 2015  is going to be BUSY.

To that end, I have joined the 2014 Cotton Robin

I have also already purchased my tea towel for the Tea Towel Challenge.  I could show you a picture, but it is on order.  I actually have a pile of brand new tea towels, because I have been acquiring them lately (& sending duplicates to my mom when I get those, because I have NO TALENT for saving gifts) & I thought I already had one in my hot hands.  & then I saw this other one...  It is entirely possible I will have the material for more than...two.  I might make two for 2014 because I cannot make one in 2015.

& there it is, already over extended. 

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Today in cow

Dear M******:

It as been awhile since I wrote one of these!

Today was the day for our Cowgirl romantic encounter to begin.  Until this afternoon, I had not thought much past getting her in the trailer.  To that end, we moved the trailer to the side pasture weeks ago.  I never did see her get into it, but she got so she could be within charging distance of the thing.  Yesterday, of course that all came to an end. 

A went out to pump up the tires & refasten the license plate (we never put it on because I was worried the donkey would rip it off).  Slowly everyone moseyed in to see what we were up to.  Everyone except herself.  Even the world's dorkiest thoroughbred came over to bump the door, but she stood as close as she could while still keeping the fence between us. 

This morning, I did a whole rigmarole so it would just be the two of us (me & Cowgirl) & I could get the rope back around her horns for the first time since last April (inoculation time).  She wasn't wonderful, but she wasn't horrible.  I shut all the gates to keep her out of the pasture the trailer was in & then did a few chores.  I was hoping she would be curious, I didn't count on how curious.  As soon as we tried to load her, she took off.  Of course

But in the end it happened & she had the usual panic attack she has when she found herself in an enclosed space:

The drive was uneventful, we helped with some rearranging & then pulled the trailer into the pasture. I looked in to check on her & see if I could get the rope off before we released her (I couldn't).  I was pretty sure once I opened the side door to the trailer she would be out, but A had doubts (it is narrower than the width of her horns, high up & at a funny angle).  I am glad the one of us who thought she could do it was paying attention & got out of the way; she sailed by my head a few moments after I jumped off the bumper.

A few minutes to get the rope off & then she took off.  A few moments later the bull took off after her.  Funny little sidebar:  you know those testicles things rednecks like to put on their truck hitches?  Well both me & A observed that Nick's were roughly the same size.  Which, when you consider he is a smallish Dexter bull, & scale being what it is, they are advertising to the world how very small-balled they are. 

As for today, I don't think I have ever worked so hard to make an animal happier in my life.  At least, not all at once.  & I do believe she will be happy, however briefly.  Until this moment, I had not thought ahead 6 weeks to when we need to bring her back.  Shit.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

52 Photos Project: Holiday Traditions

When I saw 52 Photos Project's Traditions, my first thought was holiday cards.   I loved them as a kid, I love them now.  I mostly stopped sending them because I stopped getting them & I didn't want to be the last dork...  But they are back & I am back sending them again & all is good.  I had thought I would take a picture of the cards that we have received so far, but watching Megyn Kelly clips on the Daily Show made me go through the old card file.

We sent these Santa cards X years ago (I honestly don't remember when because while I stopped sending holiday cards I never really stop-stopped sending them, I always send AT LEAST one holiday card to my mother).  I know it was after Obama was elected the first time (she's a big fan; this last visit I gave her all the swag I could lay my hands on & she seemed happy to have it), because I made an Santa 'bama reference in my note. 

Way-back-when I saw these cards in the Victorian Trading Company catalog (that I get this catalog & somehow order something often enough to keep it coming is hilarious in its own way).  They are called Santa Greengloves (look closely, he is indeed wearing green gloves) & I was immediately in love.  & I knew I had to have them & send them to my parents & I ordered them & sent them to my parents & a few other people besides & then I moved on.  Sidebar// in one of those the coincidences keep stacking up kind of things, I included this year's card Comfort & Joy in the picture on the left there.  I promise it was all picked out long before the last week's 52 Photos Project

I have no talent for still lifes.  I am told people who fail in still lifes tend to over compose, but I fail the other way.  this is a complete fail on my part:  it is where my quilts fail, my parties fail, etc.  I throw everything in there & get bored & wander off.  Anyway.  I took this still life so everyone could see this traditional Victorian Santa card & then I could talk about the Big Scandal visible in these traditional Victorian/Edwardian Christmas cards.

Look carefully.  Take your time.  Do you see it? 

That's right!  Santa used to wear green gloves!  Those monsters at the Coca-Cola company have been screwing with traditional Santa.  They are the ones who changed his complete ensemble to match their logo.  Last but not least, my mom will tell you those monsters at Coca Cola also ruined the song "I'd like to teach the world to sing".  I admit, I have a hard time blocking out I'd like to buy the world a coke verse. 

Thursday, December 12, 2013

It was cookie swap...again

The second Tuesday of the month is usually bookclub night, but we take a break in December (& July & August) leaving the 2nd Tuesday in December available for the holiday cookie swap.  Which works in nicely with the month's Lotto Linky topic:  FOOD.

I confess, a week before cookie swap I start kicking myself for not starting earlier, but it more or less works out in the end.  Our cookie swap rules are simple:  make cookies, bring cookies, exchange cookies.  Still I usually manage to screw up in some way.

It all begins with the cookies.  Make a couple dozen.  Or more.  Because all cookies are not created equal.  I make sugar & walnuts things rolled onto balls & plonked in colored sugar.  M****** makes mini-pecan pies.  V** makes buckeyes, the original (& much better tasting) peanut butter cups.  Their cookies take effort; mine really don't.  So I kind of think of 1/2 dozen of theirs equals 12+ of mine.  Maybe even 24+.  Maybe even more.  Seriously, I make them by the pound.

Still, it is worth the effort for all of us.  Sure, your kitchen gets turned upside down making a bulk of one maybe two kinds of cookies BUT you unload the cookies you are a little bit sick of & get back a nice mix to make up very pretty plates for your neighbors & co-workers  Or to eat on the drive home, your choice.

I made what I make every year (that is the beauty if cookie swap, you don't have to worry about too much of one cookie...yet another first world problem): 

Christmas Nut Balls (indeed)

2 sticks of butter, softened
--I prefer to use unsalted butter & then I add sea salt.  The general rule is up to 3/4 tsp of salt per stick, but you can do what you want.  This makes it easier to make a low sodium version if that is what you want.
2 tsp of vanilla
--put them in the mixer & let it run for awhile
1/3 cup of sugar
--toss it in the mixer & let it run awhile longer
2 tsp of water
--add while the mixer is still running
2 cups of flour
--sift the flour. Add it to the mixer, while it runs.
1 cup of walnuts
--I take whole shelled nuts & pulverize them with a mortar & pestle.  The largest pieces are maybe the size of a peppercorn or two...or three, but most of them are reduced to powder.  Tip them into the mixer & let it run until it is smooth smooth smooth.

Yes, I could call these mixer cookies.  It would be impossible to overmix them.  All this mixing (& all that butter) means everything will go easier if you chill it in the fridge for an hour or so.  So you can call them fridge cookie, too.

Preheat oven to 325 F.  Spoon dough into balls (or roll using your hands), roll in sugar, bake 20-25 minutes.  Cookies crumble easily when they first come out of the oven, but set as they cool.


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

52 Photos Project: Comfort & Joy

Have you ever seen the movie Gregory's Girl?  Was it ever even in the theatres in the US?  I know Local Hero was.  Maybe you saw Housekeeping which actually took place in the US (unlike the others)?  Apparently you are more likely than I would have thought to see Gregory's Girl as it went out to a whole new audience during the London Olympics; I missed it entirely (the resurgence & the Olympics).

Whatever.  There is another Bill Forsyth movie you probably never saw...did I mention Bill Forsyth directed these & wrote most of them (not Housekeeping, which was a book by Marilynne Robinson, although I think he probably wrote the screenplay.  Let me check.  Yep, he did).  That would be his Christmas movie Comfort & Joy.  No, no not that Nancy McKeon Lifetime movie of the week thing, which may be quite charming, I wouldn't know as I have never seen it.  I mean Bill Forsyth's Comfort & Joy & good luck finding it as it sells on Amazon for $130+.  In a nutshell, a man with a public persona out of synch with his private self has some extra time on his hands in the few days before Christmas & ... stuff happens.  No, this is not the synopsis any movie database will give you, but there it is. 

So if you find yourself with time on YOUR hands this holiday season & you feel like breaking your heart into tiny little pieces, let me recommend the movies of Bill Forsyth.  Any of those above or any of the others, but most especially Comfort & Joy which you are never going to find, so good luck with that.

Oh oh I almost forgot:  this week at 52 Photos Project the theme is Comfort & Joy so I though about recreating of one of the scenes from the above mentioned movie.  A little unorthodox holiday decorating maybe, or mugging an ice cream vendor.  Instead I give you this:

This is Sadie.  She came to us as a foster dog after going to a small, poorly funded county shelter.  She was picked up by a rescue & placed with a family who gave her back after a few weeks.  Then she went into a many-dog foster situation while they figured out what went wrong & then she came here.  She is happy here.  This morning she went to the vet for her first ever dental cleaning.  I had to leave her; there is no other way to do a dental.  I handed her over to a very nice, gentle tech & Sadie wailed the whole time.  I picked her up this afternoon & she forgave me immediately. 

We are home now. 

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

What would Wyoming do?

I watched the Cheney family asininity unfurl with just about as much pleasure as anyone who enjoys a good public life versus private life train wreck.  For those who don't follow these obscure tidbits (& I grant you, it is obscure or at least deserves to be) one of Dick Cheney's daughters is gay & the other one is running for public office on a party ticket that explicitly does not support marriage equality.

This is not the first time a Cheney has been gay & another has run for public office on a party ticket that is described as anti-gay by everyone except the party themselves.  I know, they claim they are inclusive & maybe they really believe it, but as a straight person affiliated with neither party I promise you aren't.  "God wouldn't like it" is not a good reason for doing anything & certainly doesn't undo any harm you do in insert-deity-of-choice's name.  I'll stop ranting now.  Because I like to offend as many people as I possibly can, I am going to call them Gay Sister & Party Sister.

So, Gay Sister has been trotted out for previous elections to wave to the crowd & maybe you think she could have taken the opportunity to denounce her family's values, but she didn't.  She is not the first person to be exploited by her family for their own gain & she won't be the last.  However, what a person will take from her parents is a helluva lot more than she will take from her sister & way-way more than her spouse will take from same. 

In short, Party Sister went on the public record saying she did not believe Gay Sister had the right to marry a woman, should have the right to marry a woman or was even already married to a woman & then Gay Sister's wife told her to shut her yap.  She was much more eloquent than me (who isn't) & wrote a lyrical list about joining in celebration & enjoying hospitality etc. but I will paraphrase: Wow, what a hypocrite you are.  Either you know you are wrong & you're pandering for votes or you really are a douche.  Scratch that, either way you are a douche. 

Party Sister entered the race with a lot more support than she has now.  That fishing license gaffe didn't help (Party Sister applied for a fishing license as a state resident but did not meet the one year residence criteria that defines state resident for the purposes of applying for a fishing license.  She apologized, paid the fine & then blamed the CLERK WHO SOLD HER THE LICENSE for not defining the terms properly).  Her know-it-all swagger probably is not helping much either.  & maybe, just maybe people who pride themselves on "Equal Rights" are not all that keen to be told who is more or less equal than anyone else.  It is the state motto, after all.

Anyway.  Today in 1867 Wyoming granted women the right to vote.  Yes, you read that right, more than 50 years before the same was a twinkle in Washington's eye (the 19th amendment was PROPOSED in 1919, a handy little mnemonic if you want to dazzle with dates), before Wyoming was even a state, the women of Territory of Wyoming had been casting ballots.  Wyoming might be big on beef/moose/deer/let's just say meat eating, gun toting & letting sleeping dogs lie but that doesn't mean they are completely backwards.  At least once, they were decades ahead of their time. 

For the record, Party Sister's opponent (her political opponent, not the one that is married to her sister...& her sister) is also against marriage equality.  So maybe that state motto is just for the license plates.  Nope, not even there.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Orphan quilt blocks & the best intentions

Over at Block Lotto there is a monthly block for December (which I don't remember there being in previous years..?  Maybe I just need more coffee) & there is an extra leftovers lotto.  In brief, any block that has ever been lottoed pattern-wise, your choice fabric-wise.  In my case & I am guessing more than one or two other Block Lotto regulars, I often made doubles of blocks, but because they were in the exact same colorway (fabricway), they were not lotto eligible.  Here are three of them:

These plaid plaids were made for the April 2012 lotto.  I envisioned making myself a quilt top of these extras; I really liked the way they looked....I really did not enjoy making them.  I don't even know what I didn't like, but I found these in a bag with the directions & NO! handwritten across the top of the page.  Maybe I need to revisit them, just so I can be more specific.  Maybe not.

I added these to the lotto because I really wouldn't mind winning some random blocks.  I am on a fabric book kick à la Gwen Marston.  It is what I plan to do with those first Rainbow Connection blocks.  Not that I cannot make more of my own, but there I something so appealing about other people's duds.

Now I just need to pull out those bags of someday quilt tops & count out just how many extra blocks I have.  Because I know I have an easy dozen extras of the March 2011 block, in a variety of well, variations.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

52 Photos Project: Polka Dots

Did you know there is such a thing as fear of polka dots?  Or at least an overwhelming hatred of them.  I had a roommate who had this problem.  Seriously.  After daily observation of her obvious discomfort, I developed a theory.  There are polka dot patterns that make almost everyone who looks at them a little bit dizzy & just maybe some of us are more sensitive to a broader range of that repeating, monotonous pattern.

Don't get me wrong, I love polka dots.  I avoided wearing them whenever I spent time with A**.  After all, who wants to spend time with a person having a low-grade, drawn out panic attack even if you don't care about them?  But in my quilting life, old fashioned white-on-white dotted swiss is my go to background fabric.  Gray dots on white & white dots on gray were a huge part of the Bird Trap quilt. In fact, it was not until I made the Bird Trap quilt I realized how overboard for dots I am.

No this was not just an excuse to talk about the Bird Trap quilt (for what I am hoping will be the last time....this year...but I make no promises).  Over at 52 Photos Project the weekly assignment is polka dots

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

I went to college for this?

It is graduation season here...not the big graduation, but still a couple thousand will get pushed out into the dark, cold world this month.  The local news programs are rolling out stories about how much debt these graduate have & how many jobs there aren't for them & wouldn't they have been better off getting these same no-jobs right after high school?  I am just a little bit burned out.

In the interest of full disclosure, I should say my husband is a professor.  Most of my friends are education-adjacent.  The town we don't live in (because we live in the small farm community next door), but rely on for just about everything is university-centric.  In sort, the education business is the business that pays our bills.  So, there that is.

Now will someone PLEASE explain to me why it is UNACCEPTABLE to go 17K in debt for a degree but the same amount & very likely more is just fine for a car?  Why isn't the car note a lead story?  I don't really have anything else to say on this one, so I am just going to move on.  Also, in a second full disclosure I should mention I have never had a car loan.  Never.  Never ever.  As a result I drove clunkers for a long time & was in my 30s when I got my first new & not just new-to-me car.  It cost $18,500 & we paid cash.  So you can see how that 17K number the students were tossing around on the radio earlier this week hit close to home for me.

If one person says "well you need a car to get to work, but you don't need a degree to do X job" I will....I don't know.  Spit, maybe. 

A funny thing happens on the way to that degree.  & I am not disputing that in many cases a person could get just as much out of life experience, but some how they never do.  Or at least not often.  Here are a few examples of things you learn in college without realizing you are learning them:
  • Finish your work in on time.  This is another personal one for me because I once had an actual employee show up on presentation to the client day EMPTY HANDED.  Because he needed an extension.  & to be fair, he had a degree but it was in computer science & that particular field of study seems plagued with negotiable deadlines so he learned the hard way that in the job-world you get canned for that kind of thing.  Most people learn this in school, but fewer & fewer in K-12. 
  • Just plain show up on time.  In job-world there are no bells.  Well, very few anyhow.  & plenty of professors don't care if you stroll in late.  Still, a surprising number of them cover crucial business in the first 5 minutes.  For example, the announcement that the final was moved from the room printed in the syllabus to a building across campus was made at the beginning of class.  Yes, it was updated on-line so someone COULD have looked it up but a surprising number did not think to do that. I have specifically asked professors of large lecture classes (where this cavalier attendance is more normal) if there is a correlation between people who wander in late to class & people who lose 45 minutes of a 2 hour exam period running to the new location & pretty much all of them laughed out loud.  I should say that the large lectures involved come with an electronic response thing for in-class participation; the questions are usually simple, & often not graded but they are a good indicator of who is sitting there when class begins & who is not.
  • Sometimes you have to do things that don't interest you.  Every semester someone says about something "when am I ever going to use this?" & the answer might be never.  But you are going to sit through a lifetime of staff meetings & presentations & be expected to parrot at least some of that crap back before they let you leave the room so you may as well learn how now.  In job-world, if you walk into a seminar on racial diversity, say "this is bullshit" & walk out you will probably get fired.
  • Sometimes you have to interact with people you don't like...& who may not much like you.  Every student every where has had an unpleasant, unfair, lopsided encounter with a professor.  Sometimes the professor has no idea they are treating you like crap, you are just the 100th person to walk through the door with whatever life shattering problem you have (I'm sorry but after the first few dead grandmothers, they blend).  The reality is that for your professor you are less an individual than one of a herd.  Understanding this will be helpful when you interact with your future boss who is unlikely to be your buddy & may not get your name right for the first few months. 
  • Shut up, you might learn something.  By shut up, I also mean stop texting & pull out those earbuds.  Maybe it would be better to say pay attention, you might learn something.  In job-world a surprising amount of information is given on the fly.  E-mails have actually helped a lot with this, but plenty of people never get around to putting their instructions in writing.  The only time a you-never-said-that defense ever works is when you already have an unimpeachable reputation for being on the ball.  & there is really only one way to get one of those.
Is 17K a bit steep for these lessons?  Maybe.  But that 17K doesn't nearly come close to covering the cost of the people & the buildings & so on that are needed to teach these lessons...not to mention that actual lesson-lessons.  Sure you could learn them the way Abe Lincoln did, but will you?

As I was writing this I thought of a few collegiate lessons from my own life.  No one else's stories are all that interesting (this includes yours by the way, so keep that office hours chit-chat brief), so I will just give you the highlights:
  • My last boss drank his coffee black (he called it neat) & for lunch he preferred tuna on wheat- rye if there was no wheat- with spicy mustard (WTF right?) & sliced tomato.  Under no circumstances should the pickle on the side ever touch the bread.  OKay, that pickle thing is mine, it grosses me out when the bread gets pickle-soggy.  It has been way-more than a decade since I placed that lunch order; it just might be the last thing I ever forget.
  • When you are standing in the utility room waiting for a fax to go out or come in or binding reports or whatever, take this opportunity to restock the copier's paper trays.  Just do it.  & if you take the last thing of paper from the box, tell someone so they can order more.  If you don't know who that person is, it is probably you. 
  • People who have pink eye MUST be sent home.  Even if he is the boss.  Even if he promises not to touch anything on anyone else's desk.  No exceptions.
None of these would have been covered in any college curriculum (& frankly that semester on feminist literature might have given you the idea you weren't responsible for the coffee or the lunch order, but you would be wrong.  You aren't responsible for the coffee because of your lady parts you are responsible because you are an underling.  This goes for the guys too, but in reverse.  As in you are not not responsible because you are a boy & so on), but all of them were skills that are taught on college campuses every day.  Yes, even the pink eye thing.  We can call that one Lessons in Communal Living.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

52 Photos Project: Dessert

Have I told you about my diet?  I don't think I have, so settle in for a small talk about feast & famine.  I started when I visited my parents this summer & brought it home & now A is doing it as well....& doing much better than me.  I have gone down a size but he has lost 15 pounds.  Jerk.

Anyway.  The diet is, in a nutshell, 500 calories one day as much as I want the next.  Yes, there is more to it than that but I said this was the nutshell.  I am finding this do-able, long term.  There is almost no day that is so hungry that I cannot make it to the next day.  One of the unexpected side effects has been a greater appreciation for the food we DO eat.

Which brings us to the bananas.  I have posted about the bananas before, we had a bumper crop this year.  & we have been talking about bananas foster for....a while.  This past Sunday. A made pancakes & bananas foster for breakfast.  Because on not-500 calorie days, that's how we roll.

The dessert-for-breakfast was so delicious the only picture I took was when it was almost all done; the pancakes were made & A was working on the nuts & fruit & rum part.  Once it hit the plate, we started eating.

That foil thing is what was left of a stick of Crisco. 

So here is the 52 Photos Project for this week:  Dessert.....for breakfast. 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Tis the season to fall behind

So last night while clearing. clearing, clearing in preparation for the double holiday, I discovered the OCT Block Lotto block I though I had long sent sitting in the bag with the rest of my Block Lotto ephemera.  Even better, I could not find the mailing list --which I know I got-- NO WHERE.  I like that sentence; I found it no where.  I had to get in touch with S***** & get her to resend it.

As a swap master I can tell you few things are more low-grade aggravating as people who lose stuff.  I know it seems petty but if you have a swap group of say 150 people & everyone loses something just once year, that's averages out to 10+ extra bits of admin. work every month.  It adds up.

To S*****'s credit, she got the info to me within minutes of my asking for it with nary a criticism.  The good news is it is finally on it's way.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Bye Bye.....Blackbeard

The short version of this post is today in 1718 Edward Teach was shot & stabbed multiple times while battling his majesty's navy.  Edward Teach might be better know to you by his rock'n'roll sobriquet: Blackbeard. 

Last things first:  yes, I said sobriquet.  I have been working this one into conversation ever since I first heard Amelia Peabody use it in reference to a certain smuggler of Egyptian antiquities.  I do mean listened, despite Amelia being no doubt long dead.  Also fictional.  Because I listened to those books on disc.  Also, in this case sobriquet may well be the very word that Teach would have used himself, unlike nickname or handle.  So I said sobriquet & I meant sobriquet.  I encourage you to work it into your weekend, perhaps one of those descriptive nicknames favored by football players, but that is just a suggestion. 

The thing about pirates, as any student of naval history knows, is that piracy is in the eye of the beholder.  Pirates & privateers were often one & the same, privateers being the word for seafaring folk who loot the enemies of the crown & the crown turns a blind eye. 

So.  Captain Teach.  Born in England, very likely in Bristol, one of the largest seafaring towns of the day.  Raised in same & almost certainly able to read & write, a novelty for his day, Edward Teach joined the navy while quite young & helped plague the Spanish in the western Atlantic.  When peace was reached between Great Britain & Spain, Teach was left unemployed...with one very specific skill.  & no reason not to take any ship he could; certainly no reason to limit himself to just Spanish ships.  Peace, like so many things, is relative.

You don't need me to tell you about Blackbeard.  I could write a longer-than-usual post listing just the titles of books & articles about him, so I am going to skip it entirely.  Chances are excellent you did not make it through today without running into a single news story about the anniversary of a famous death.  Speaking of pirates, Clive of India died today in 1774, not of a gunshot but a stabbing.  Probably.  Maybe even self-inflicted.  Today is also the official death day of Robin Hood. 

Lastly, in 1963 both Aldous Huxley & C. S. Lewis died.  So did someone else.  History has done interesting things to all of these men, so I am going to leave you with one of my favorite death songs.  Yes, I know people say its about a prostitute leaving the profession & returning to her mother.  Maybe it is. 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

52 Photos Project: My Work

Its a funny thing that this week at 52 Photos Project the phrase is My Work.  Because I have not been blogging because of my work, which has been kind of piling up.  The dogs need bathing, then the bathtub needs to be dusted (hey, before my mom's visit last weekend, no one had used that shower since....well...A*****.  Before that, the last person to use it was also A*****.  & before that, A*****), the books sorted & FotLed, & soon & on & on.

I am a good cook, & other things but housekeeper I am not.  I am not even a bad housekeeper, I am a non-existent housekeeper.

So there it is.  My work, which I haven't done but need to make a dent in because in a week we have people coming for Black Friday turkey leftovers dinner.  But I started with my favorite of the pending chores. 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The cat came back!

A bit ago I wrote that the neighbor's dogs had killed two of our cats BUT one of them came back!  Actually she had not exactly left.  I caught the dogs going at her & got them to drop her & she took off &, like the other, was not seen again.  Until several days later I heard a sound & smelled a smell & looked up to see her back-end swung off the edge of the roof while she peed (no, not on me, but close enough). 

Over the next few days, A went up there with water & canned cat food.  We aren't usually canned food people but given there is no water up there & we thought it would help.  Also it was very clear, even from the ground, that she had lost A LOT of weight.

We took a few days to let her get used to A.  I was reluctant to go up on the roof myself.  I am fine with heights but I can trip & fall over thin air never mind while chasing a cat across a steeped roof. He was rarely the one who handled her so we both worried she would not let him pick her up.  We shouldn't have worried; she was delighted to come down.

We have made a place for her in the garage & things have been better but she is not crazy about sharing space with the last of the kittens.  The boys are fine, but Lise really wants to snuggle up & clean her ears (that's right, girl cats like to play beauty shop).  Whatever, it still beats the roof.  Or dead. 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

52 Photos Project: On My Way

Last December, we made a quick trip north, for Christmas In Connecticut.  It was wonderful, but that is not what this is about.  This photos was taken waiting for our flight to begin boarding at what will always be Bradley Field to me, but is officially called Ella Grasso International Airport.  We were on our way home. 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

An update

It continues to be weird here.  This past Monday one of a pair of cockatiels we have had for....awhile keeled over & was dead before he hit the bottom of the cage.  I cannot say how old he was (I think he was a he although we named him Miss Moneypenny; his mate -also almost certainly male- is called Bond, James Bond). 

The boys came to us together with some rather peculiar ways.  While not exactly neglected, they would cower when anything was rearranged in their cage & refused to eat anything they had not always eaten even if it was more tempting.  Birds are omnivores & a lack of variety in their diet is almost worse than just about any single thing they might eat.  By contrast, my mother had a bird (a parakeet I think) that developed a taste for mashed potatoes & butter; it turns out too much of that is also not good for a bird.

Anyway, I buried Miss Moneypenny in our pet cemetery, which is nothing like Stephen King's.  Ours is peaceful, a little bit overgrown & we hardly go there except to bury a pet.  Okay, maybe it is a lot like Stephen King's but nothing comes back, I promise.

On a lighter death note, I need to buy a new going-to-funerals dress.  As it happens I have more than one going to funerals dress, but this one was my favorite.  It was wrap-around, made of jersey, black with white scrolling lines randomly scattered.  I know it doesn't sound like much but I could roll that thing into a ball & jam it in the bottom of my purse, get where I was going, shake it out & wear it.  A dress like this is worth more than it's weight in just about anything.

That dress hid every food stain of every paper plate that ever folded at shivah, it was wrinkle PROOF never mind wrinkle resistant.  I need to stop talking about it in the past tense because that dress is not dead, it has just gone to live with another person.  The thing is V** was at the house & she needed a dress to wear to a casino night type event at her boss's church.  It was just supposed to be a one-time thing but she went on to win $400 wearing that dress.  It would be wrong to take it back.  Besides you cannot take luck back, just away.  Just like you cannot make luck for yourself you can only give it to someone else (two little known scientific facts).  Also, how tacky would it be to wear a money-winning dress to a funeral?  It sends the wrong message.

So, that's where we are.  No more funerals until I get a new dress.  Except Miss Moneypenny's.  Please let hers be the last. 

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

52 Photos Project: Round

Over at 52 Photos Project, this week is "Round" & so I bring you Beauty Berry.  They are native, seasonal & round.  The berries are round & they form these round clusters around the stem (this photo is actually of three clusters very close together, which makes them less round but the color is so wonderful!  I didn't do anything to that photo. that's what they look like in the middle of an ordinary day.

M****** told me her parents spend a good chunk of their outside time uprooting these plants because the berry-litter stains everything including concrete.  It probably does, but I don't care.  Every year I fling the berries all around the perimeter of our property, to attract the birds & repel the mosquitos.

So that's it:  ROUND. 

Monday, November 4, 2013

Festivus redux

Because it was so long ago & I have kinda forgotten the details, I am making a few more Festivus for the rest of us blocks for the December swap & have a few tricks to make things go faster.  Keep in mind that these blocks are being swapped, so if you make identical blocks it is no big deal; this would probably not be the case if you were making these all for yourself as the variety of colors & where the pole falls is what makes the pattern interesting.

We want to end up with a 7.5" by 7.5" unfinished square so you might start with a 8.5" by 8.5" square.  At least that is what I originally suggested.  Turns out to be easier, for me anyhow, to start with a 8.5" by 7.5" rectangle.  The Festivus pole is going to pop the block out just a bit, but only in one direction...maybe it would be easier if I showed you.

Begin with TWO fabrics:

The Festivus pole which is a strip anywhere between .75" to 2" UNfinished.  That means you are cutting a strip of .75" up to 2" wide; please do not begin with a strip any wider than 2".  If you are new to bias I strongly urge you to use the widest strip possible the first few times as it is harder to sew a straight seam the narrower the piece you are stitching.  You might know-you might not care but the Festivaul pole is often aluminium & while this is not a hard & fast rule, I thought it would keep things in the same vein.  So your pole strip should be black, white, silver or gray. OR black & white & silver & gray.  OR black & white.  Or white & gray.  & so on.  You get it right?

The background should be...another color.  Any color EXCEPT back or white or silver or gray.  I originally said read-as-solid & that would still be ideal BUT a blender in a SINGLE color, a color-on-color like green-on-green or red-on-red would also be fine.  The examples on the group page include a plaid made of different shades of yellow & that is OKay.  What would NOT be OKay is anything busily multi-colored or high contrast (very dark to very light), for example a plaid of yellow & orange or yellow & pink.  The idea is that the contrast be between the to fabrics, not within the background fabric.  If you have any concern about a fabric, better to put it aside. 

I have received several messages asking if Christmas colors are OKay, they certainly are.  A red background OR a green background OR a gold background are just fine.  But please no red & green & gold all in the same fabric.  Christmas colors (or Chanukah colors or Kwanzaa colors or whatever are not required just not excluded either).
For these photos the background rectangle was cut 8.5" by 7.5" & the Festivus pole was 1.5".  Notice how the slice is the long way through the axis of the rectangle.  This is because I want to end up with a square; I will be adding the Festivus pole piece which will add width without adding height.

In my original directions I gave measurements for how far from the corner this cut should be made.  My intent was to make sure that once the block was squared up, the pole fabric would be AT LEAST .5" from the corner.  This is to help make assembling the blocks easier; two 1/4" seams overlapping would be hard to manage even without the open bias pole ends.  So long as your black &/or white &/or silver &/or gray pole fabric is at least .5" from the edge of your block, you are just fine.

You might also notice that I made the cut through more than one rectangle at the same time & some of those rectangles were right side up & some were right side down.  This is so I get blocks poles angled left-to-right going up & blocks with right-to-left going up.  These could also be described as acutegrave or / & \.  You do not have to "make flippy flippy" with the Festivus poles, I just thought it added interest.

The easiest way to sew these was to put the pole fabric under the presser foot & start a bit, then put the background pieces face down & feed it through that way.  Because of the angle of the cut, this was the only way I could think from stretching it out.  The trickiest part of the whole thing was matching up the two background pieces around the same Festivus pole.  If I were going to do it again-again I would probably cut different color backgrounds at the same time so the match-up was obvious.  This time I pinned the 2nd back ground piece to the first as soon as the pole had been stitch in & kept them together to the ironing board & back to the sewing machine.

I found that three poles from one selvage to selvage strip was all I could manage.  The rest of the strip went in the scrap pile & I imagine it will show up in something else.  This means that two strips should be adequate for six blocks, five to swap & one to keep.  Four strips would be two sets of five, one to keep & one to send in for the 6th block person.  On the other hand one fat quarter cut the long way yielded two poles, so that might work better or you.

Blocks are due in-house the last Saturday in December, December 28, 2013.  Because mail gets slower around the holidays (even if there are a lot fewer holiday cards being snail mailed, there are also a lot fewer postal employees & they take time off just like the rest of us!) I strongly suggest getting everything in the mail no later than the Friday before Christmas which will be Friday, December 20th.

If you not currently part of the swap group, but you are interested in joining, you are welcome BUT it would make my life A LOT easier if you joined through Facebook.   Log into Facebook, search "quilt block swap" & find the Group.  Ask to join & you should be approved within a day or two.  If you are not on Facebook, but still interested, leave a comment here. 

Friday, November 1, 2013

Fauvism: an early 20th century art movement marked by bold shapes, vivid colors & distorted forms

The word for the day on the word of the day type twitter account I am hooked on was FAUVISM.  Not today, a week or more ago-I've been busy.

I don't think I had ever heard this word before which is just plain sad because I LOVE this word.  Fauvism is...was an art movement, a painting movement really marked by bold shapes & colors, often distorted.  I can think of quite a few paintings that are clearly in this...genre?  Jasper Johns has always been a huge favorite of mine & I thought that was what I was looking at:  Fauvism.  If you are willing to take that leap, maybe you can take this one:  the idea of  African-American quilts being Fauvist.

If you know anything about art history you know I was way off; that is not Fauvism at all.  This is what happens when you start trying to describe not-word things with words only.  Fauvism was almost entirely French & not really all that abstract (when the dictionary says "distorted forms" those forms are still identifiable).  The biggest name in Fauvism is Matisse.  It turns out Fauvism is NOT the word for what I like, although I like Matisse et al plenty. 

This whole business put me in mind of one of my favorite episodes of one of my favorite shows.  The show was News Radio & wow do I miss it!  The episode was "Super Karate Monkey Death Car".  Let me give it to you in a nutshell: the wealthy eccentric owner of a news radio station (among other things) had written an autobiography that did not sell so well in the US but killed in Japan.  So he decides to take the Japanese translation & translate it back to English.  The book reading scene, the first time he actually reads his new autobiography, is a gift to the world.  Seriously there is almost no slump so slumpy this clip cannot shake me out of.

That's it, that's all I've got.  Except I guess I can start calling the art I like, marked by bold shapes, vivid colors & distorted forms Not-Fauvism.  Because that's not confusing. 

Thursday, October 31, 2013

C is for CURSED

I thought I would bring you a little taste of Hallowe'en this week via an earlier 52 Photos Project prompt.  & so here it is: "C is for Cursed".

Quite some time ago, the pasture across the street was sold to a developer who planned a high-end luxury gated community.  & I think I should probably start my story with that sale.  It was a sizeable piece of land which had belonged to a successful local farming family for generations.  But one generation got the littlest bit greedy.  No, no not in the way you are thinking.  They didn't sell it for cash....well, they did but not voluntarily.

The short version is in a desire to circumvent inheritance & property taxes one generation sold the land to the next generation for a measly sum.  All would have been well, if not for a divorce.  Things that are inherited can be excluded from community property settlements, after all how could anyone argue that something was acquired jointly if it would have gone to one of the parties singly with or without the presence of the other party?  It is actually more complicated than that, but that is the gist.  Had the property transfer followed the ordinary inheritance process, it might still be covered in cattle but because it was purchased it was part of the assets that needed to be divided.  & unable to be divided it had to be sold.

When the land was purchased & the proposed development was staked out we (the people in the surrounding neighborhood) were skeptical.  After all, there was no internet out here in those days.  There is still no cable television.  We don't hook-up to a water line or a sewer line; each home owner has to deal with that privately,  which is fine if you are frugal, but not so much if you are not.  What kind of luxury, all-services-included type community could work with that?  Naturally, we never counted on services bypassing us completely & running lines directly to that future development. 

Then they broke ground & built a handful of sample houses & we were stunned.  The flagship house listed for $1.4 million & then actually sold for very close to that asking price.  The people who bought it interesting case.  Let me say I know people who know them & say they are quite pleasant & maybe they are.  On the flip side, they were very active in a church that I would describe as hate-mongering if not actually hate-based.  More than that, they were the impetus in a campaign designed to remove certain discrimination protections in an adjacent city's charter.  A city I can confirm they did not live in at the time.

The reason given for this behavior was something to do with the bible; I have never really understood the specifics as the round-&-round speak of these arguments makes my head ache.  Also if we are going to start governing based on a book why does it have to be that one? There are other older books (yes, there are), if age is the criteria.  Finally, why be so pick&choose?  I find it hard to be patient with people telling me the bible says so with a sauce covered rib-bib around their necks, I just do.


We were kinda disgusted.  It didn't help that the above mentioned church has a rather checkered past itself.  My favorite was when a teacher at the school at the church got pregnant by a student; A said he had NO IDEA conservative religious education in the rural American south was so well rounded & he would not have minded a health class featuring a live sex show.  Yes, yes we are both aware the teacher & the student probably did it in the dark with most of their clothes on.  More recently but not all that recently, a member of this same congregation took to the local airwaves to defend Sarah Palin & her worries about....witches.  Witches.  Because that was where so many of us parted ways with Sarah Palin:  witches being among us.  I guess I can understand why someone might want to defend Sarah Palin for her views, but the idea that her views on witches were the biggest problem the American public had with her candidacy...? 

Moving forward, the anti-discrimination repeal failed (YAY) & other church leaders predicted that an angel of the lord would smite us for our folly.  & then this happened across the street:

SOMEBODY got smote.

After they rebuilt, the house lingered, unoccupied on the market until just a couple months ago.  Before that, A took this picture one morning of a fairly typical view from our driveway (more or less the same angle as the fire picture). 

As for the rest of the development, the houses were rather shoddy & of the four built only three sold before the market crashed.  Some lots also sold, but only one was ever built on.  The high-end clubhouse was built, but never really opened & as far as I know the Olympic sized swimming pool has never held chlorinated water.  It is a breeding ground for a particularly aggressive mosquito, which pairs nicely with the pine beetle that has devoured a good chunk of the pine woodland left between lots to provide privacy.  Now it looks more like a Bates Motel landscape without the Bates Motel. 

C is not for Cozy, at least not here. 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

52 Photos Project: Celebration!

52 Photos Project this week is all about Celebration.  I got nothing.  I am not saying there is nothing in my life worth celebrating, there is plenty, just that the past few weeks have not been celebratory.  I could go to the archive but I like the photos to be current, or at least recent.  I think it helps keep me alert if I have to make these connections with right now.  As I reread that I can see how cracked it sounds, but I'm going to let it stand.

So.  Celebration.  Did I mention another rule is nothing staged.  I can go looking for a subject but I cannot make it.  Who makes these rules, right? 

Back to Celebration.  This is all I've got right now:

That's right I made it & more than a couple years ago.  Still apt. 

Monday, October 28, 2013

Trying to turn a corner

I have had a shit-tastic couple weeks.  I euthanized my best-beloved horse last Thursday.  A few days before that & one day after, the neighbor's dog disappeared two of our barn cats (yes, I called animal control, I have an incident report, there will be a fine- it still sucks). 

But I had been looking forward to this past Saturday for a long long time.  It was my twice a year cleanse & renewal, my high holy day.  That's right, the Friends of the Library Book Sale.  We did all the traditional things, hunted for a parking space, bumped elbows with fellow junkies.  While we waited in line at the check-out, A predicted the event had another ten years tops (& yes, he has been saying this for more than ten years).  I ate too much lunch before the book sale & then on the way home we went for MOCHI.  It was a good day.

We also had a particularly good haul.  I know I say that every time, but seriously, this one was good.  First we had the basics that we will read, pass along to other people & may very well end up back in a future sale & that's just fine.  A found a textbook in physical science about color which delighted me (& at 5 bucks pushed me right up against my $15 limit for a grand total of $14.10).  He could not figure out what class it might have been for but who cares!  It has cool graphs about color!  I found A two copies of Susan Orlean's biography of Rin Tin Tin (we only bought one so the other might still be there).  The quilting books have been picked pretty clean the last few sales & this time the knitting books were also a bit lean.  One of my local librarians told me that those kind of books (746 et al) have been higher traffic of late, so less likely to be culled.  There were still a few.

I was looking at A Garden of Quilts by Mary Elizabeth Johnson & kind of on the fence (it's not the money, its the shelf space) until I flipped to the back & discovered these beauties.  It was destiny; we all went home together. 

My other happy meet-up was with an old copy of Maude Southwell Wahlman's Signs & Symbols:  African Images in African American Quilts.  Shocking that I did not already own my own copy.  Even lamer, it flops open automatically guessed it:  Pecolia Warner's Bird Trap Quilt.  It's almost like someone checked this book out & gazed at that photos for, I am going to guess, hours & hours.  Oh well the library's loss is my gain.  & don't be too sad for them-they have at least one other copy of this book still on the shelf.  I know because I checked.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Bloggers Quilt Festival Autumn 2013: Bird Trap, the first

Ordinarily I try to put something not before posted in the Blogger's Quilt Festival but I am still in love Love LOVE with the Bird Trap Quilt.  So everyone who has had too much of this quilt, just scroll through & look at the pictures (they are mostly new, I promise) but for new-to-Bird-Trapers here is the short version:

I became enamored of an image of a quilt I saw in a book (Maude Wahlman's Signs & Symbols: African Images in African American Quilts), specifically Pecolia Warner's Bird Trap Quilt which I am pretty sure resides at The Belger Arts Center in Kansas City, Mississippi although I have never seen it in person. You can see a close up of the inspiration for my Bloggers Quilt Festival entry here, but if you are really interested there are more pictures in the book or even better you could call The Belger Arts Center (something I have never done) & ask them if you could see it in person.

& before I get even more distracted with the story of this quilt, let me give the vitals.  This quilt measures  56" wide by 60" tall more or less.  It was pieced & quilted on my home machine a Bernina 153.  Bird Trap was assembled this year (2013) using blocks that were also made in 2013 mostly although the first samples were made in late 2012.  I entered bird Trap in the Autumn 2013 Blogger's Quilt Festival scrappy quilts & home machine quilted quilts.  When I entered this quilt in a show earlier this year, I put it in art quilts, but only because it didn't really fall into the other categories, which were mostly variations on pieced.

The blocks came more or less right out of my head, after being kick started by the original, with the exception of the pieced birds.  Those birds are NOT foundation pieced, they came from a Block Lotto pattern earlier this year that I altered (big surprise).  The quilt top is all cotton....I think.  I spent some time rooting round in old remnant bins, scrap bags, etc. & the origin of that black & white gingham is a bit sketchy. 

The back of the quilt is a single piece of bleached muslin, with leftover bird trap parts making the label.  There really isn't much to see here except maybe the quilting, which is my lazy version of corner to corner (I neither mark the lines, nor do I always go all the way to the corner).

The arrangements of the blocks was even less organized.  I started with a center block, thinking it would be a 3x3 arrangement.  I picked my nine blocks.  They were, if you are curious the three blocks in the middle of the top row  & the two rows of three that kinda fall beneath them.  Then I got distracted making birds & sort of swung those in at the side & then the lower left birds became a panel & then it all went to hell.  When I said this all to my husband he said he could see it, the off-center center & the pushed out sides & maybe you can, too.

Now for the quilt story extended mix: I fell so immediately & completely for the elements of this block pattern that I have trouble seeing it today without wondering what is WRONG with people who are not similarly afflicted.  On the flip side my mother said she thought this was one of the ugliest things she had ever seen anyone do on purpose & label "art"*.  I like to think she has since changed her mind; she certainly came on board when I started putting up pictures of blocks based oh-so-loosely on the original.  I say oh-so-loosely because I more or less skipped over the historical references, meanings & went straight to listing the shapes & other varieties that most of the blocks had in common.  Yes, I am a philistine. 

So that it part one.  Part two is that the Facebook Quilt Block Swap group, while more popular every day had become a bit of a snooze for me.  I was sort of tired of thinking up limited feature blocks or themes or whatever & throwing them out there.  There has to be some unifying feature after all, a particular block or range of colors or whatever & it began to feel same-y  Don't get me wrong I enjoy it more than I don't (I wouldn't do it if I didn't, it's not like I get paid), it's just that by the time any swap actually happens I am sick of looking at it.

In my defense, I make several of every block whether I like it or not, in order to work out the written directions, etc. & I often get to the other end wishing I could start over with something just a bit further down the creative road.  I think I heard/read once that Alex Van Halen wished they could record the album at the end of the tour after they had really explored the music but of course, if you do that no one comes to the concert because they don't know what you are playing & that is just bad business.  Despite being a drummer, I suspect AVH might have more brains than a bag of hair-not that I think drummers are stoopid, my husband was a drummer & he is smarter than most people about most things. .

Where was I?  Oh right, Alex Van Halen if he ever said that & if he were a quilter syndrome.  So I was percolating a year-long, less guidance from me type swap (which became the Rainbow Connection & was hugely popular, if you are curious) & in the way these things happen -to me anyhow- instead of one idea I ended up with two & I couldn't really decide which was better.  So I floated them both.  As I said Rainbow Connection caught like a wildfire & I think I could run it another year, but I am not going to because even with minimal guidance from me I am a little burned out on ROYGBP.

Bird Trap has been so much slower & I don't much care because I LOVE it.  I am still loving it; yes I have enough for another 3x3 block arrangement & am still making more.  You could love it, too:  sign up is open until Hallowe'en & the blocks aren't due until the last Saturday in November.  To be fair, it took me more than a month to settle into the pattern- more like four, minimum- so I'm not sure jumping in now would be as much fun as jumping in ten months ago was.  Of course you can always join our 2014 swap What Burgoyne Begat.

*October 27, 2013: I should clarify, it was the inspiration quilt my mom spoke ill of, not my quilt.  She says nothing but nice things to me about my own quilts.