Wednesday, March 27, 2013


Like everyone who saw it in Outsourced, I was charmed by the celebration of Holi.  Also I was so glad not to be there, pounded with powders of whatever, leaving stains & shooting dust in my eyes &...OKay, maybe a little bit of Holi-with some advance notice-would be just the thing.  The more I think about it, the more I want Holi to happen here.  & of course minutes after I had that though I realized we kinda already do.  I mean, what was Mardi Gras if not a festival of color?  Although the only the only color they seem to fling are those beads...

Even more like Holi are the color runs popping up all over the country.  There are several an hour or so from here but I am not one of those people who can be an hour away first thing in the morning.  The horses don't like it, for one.

In a world made small with coincidence, the first set of rainbow connection quilt blocks are due this Saturday, just after Holi.  I for one am very excited.  Because when I come right down to it, I would rather quilt than run a 5k.

Last but not least, today I finished the blocks for my own rainbow rolling stone quilt.  I plan to add the narrowest of narrow sashing (like maybe 1.5", tops) & zipping it up as quick as I can.  I have wanted this quilt for a long time & I managed not to get sick of it while I made it.  Big blocks helped, I suspect. 

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The eleventh commandment

I have said before I usually have a few books going, on the bedside table, in the sewing room, etc.  A few weeks ago, I started Don't Know Much About Mythology by Kenneth C. Davis & (brace yourself, I'm about to be petty)  I mostly enjoyed it.  I got a little tired of the quiptastic tone (I know, the Sam Cooke title was more than a clue), but I understand it can be hard to keep that much material & there is A LOT of material, interesting while you build the background & then get down to comparing & contrasting & just plain reviewing.  I said I was being petty & I meant it.

Anyhow it was playing away while I reconciled bird traps & I was one or two discs from the finish line when suddenly I learned something!  I learned that Santoria, a religion about which I know very little except they share my fascination with saints, I learned that Santoria has ELEVEN commandments.  The Moses ten + one.  & according to Don't Know Much the eleventh commandment is a "prohibition against cannibalism".  Way to turn it up to eleven, Santoria!

I am about to do a complete about face on ten commandment displays at court houses.  I am usually against, as I think they send a divisive message- imagine being a christian seeking justice in a courtroom where there is a giant stone tribute to The Five Pillars of Islam; I think you might worry the law might be interpreted to favor a muslim.  Also, I have never been entirely sure why people think the ten commandments & court houses are such a great match, what with so many of the Moses ten not being laws, as in no one is going to jail for failing to keep the Sabbath, but they might go to jail for beating their kids which is by-the-way not a problem according to the ten commandments. What with the big ten insisting we should honor our parents, you could make an argument for the ten commandments condoning you beating your kids.

But this behind me now because if you will commit to including this eleventh commandment I will sign your petition.  For many reasons, not the least of which is it is likely to offend the person who wants the ten commandments displayed in the first place, but also because I think cannibalism is at the route of a lot of crimes.  No, no I don't mean Hannibal Lechter cannibalism, I mean the desire to consume our fellow man...& his goods.  & by consume I also mean subsume

& I think I will stop there, making subsume my word for the day.  & maybe go listen to some Sublime.  Just in time for Passover.  & Easter.  But just a skosh late for the Spring Equinox.  Funny how they all line up, though.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Tufted titmouse builds his house

For a while now we have been pampering Becca.  Yes, I know she looks like a decrepit bag of bones & she mostly is a decrepit bag of bones but she is OUR decrepit bag of bones.  A couple years ago she had EPM which was quite a party for us all.  Then last last year she was diagnosed with Cushings.   Plenty of people have asked me if maybe it isn't "time" & someday it will be.  but my feeling is that as long as she is still eating (& she is slow, but steady) & as long as she has a role to play....

About that role.  Many herds of horses have a boss mare.  By & large horses are matriarchal in their communities, with rogue stallions popping in & out.  This has probably not a little to do with how we keep them, specifically a stallion is a pain in the ass & we like to keep them apart or they fight, bite & generally act like teenage punks.   Our boss mare is Becca & she has been a good boss.  Well, she is certainly a better boss than Tiki or Coco would be.  This means that no matter what it looks like from the outside, she is still valuable here (like the old chickens that don't lay eggs anymore but work their feather fannies breaking up the horse manure & eating those bugs). 

But that pokey eating has become a problem.  She can take 2 hours to finish & that is too long to leave her in a stall away from the water.  So we have moved her to the back yard for her meals.  She moseys around, eating a bit, snoozing a bit, eating some more.  & over the week, the wildlife have come to think of her as their own.  They don't even seem to mind when she distractedly bumps the bird feeders as she passes by.  They just scatter & return.  Okay, the squirrels curse her name; they cannot keep up with the birds when the seeds are scattered over a larger area.

So Becca spends a few hours most days, strolling around the backyard, eating her fill & actually looking less malnourished.  But her coat still looked like hell, no matter how much I brushed her.

Enter the tufted titmouse.  I am sure any bird will do this to any horse, but this particular titmouse particularly likes Becca.  For starters, she is slow moving, just strolling along as she is eating-no sudden breaking into a gallop.  Becca also does not get down to scratch an itch, rolling over on her back & kicking in the air, unless it is really worth the effort; a little titmouse is not worth the effort.  & lastly there is that weird Cushings-coat, that mix of long & short hair that falls out so easily.  Titmouse gathers up a beakful very quickly, flies off, flies back & begins again.  More than that, his presence is discouraging the horse flies who usually take advantage of her docility.  I hope he lines his nest every day for the rest of her life.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Last call: April 2013 starburst super-nova swap block

I realize as last calls go, this one is a little bit early, but with the Post Office stopping first class delivery on Saturdays in another few months, I thought sooner was certainly better than later for getting into the swing of it.  Also, starting April 1, I am about to get crazy busy for a couple of weeks & by the time I re-emerge there will be no point to a last call with not enough time to do the work & send it off to be here for the swap on the last Saturday of April. 

As always we swap in sets of FIVE (5).  Any additional blocks will be set aside for the 6th block.  This means if you send NINE (9) blocks, you will get five back & four of them will go to the 6th block project.  You can include as many sets as you like, but please do not send more than TWO (2) sets that are exactly alike.  This block should be very easy to mix up actually, as there are only four pieces & one of them is 1/2 the block.

& now without (much) further ado: the block we are making I called starburst super-nova because of the "colors in conflict" theme.  In short you would need two fabrics, probably solid or read-as-solid but anything so long as the value is more-or-less constant throughout the pieces you use (just no crazy novelties please, the block itself is plenty jagged as is).  The contrast should be between the two fabrics, not within the fabrics themselves.

The block itself is slightly less than 25% of the traditional block known as Cross & Crown on Quilters Cache & a number of other things in other places (Goose Tracks, Signal, Tulip Wreath, etc.); I think of it as Brackman #1863a&b.  We are swapping the corner parts & leaving off the sash & stone that separates them.  In my case I will likely leave it off forever, as I like the way these look mashed up together.  I even like the way long rows of them look, flipped back & forth.

The complete directions (including the sash & stone) can be found on Quilters Cache.  I had trouble with the scant part of the scant 1/4" & when I followed those dimensions exactly my blocks was almost 1/4" undersized, so I remade them with slightly larger pieces & those direction are here.  The block should measure 5.5" unfinished/5" finished.  I found it was almost exactly that & just cleaning the dog ears was adequate to make it perfect-o.

These blocks are due the last Saturday in April, which in 2013 is Saturday, April 27th.  That means in-house, not postmarked by.  If you would like you can contact me with your e-mail & I can get you the mailing information BUT the easiest thing is probably just to ask to join the facebook group.   We always swap in sets of five (5), you send five (5) blocks & get five (5) back.   & lastly, if you came over here from the Weekend Update on Block Lotto, Welcome!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Sorry to interupt the irregularly scheduled blog

I have been getting messages that some people cannot view this blog or are getting errors when they try to look at specific entries or leave a comment.  Unfortunately, I was working with one of the original blogger layouts & part of the problem MIGHT be a general incompatibility with the newest blogger features, those that work with iPads & phones & so forth. 

I have upgraded & then stripped out the resource chewing features (I really don't need a stock background of hummingbirds, or custom color headers, etc.) & tried to keep the layout as close to what it was because I liked it.  Hopefully this will take care of some of the problems.  Maybe even all of them!  Wouldn't that be great?  Yea, I know that will never happen.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

I wasn't gonna do it

In previous years I have gotten baby chicks, but this year I decided to take a break.  Late last year, the lid on the pep house caved in.  Our peep house, which is perfect (except for the lid), is made from an old window air conditioner housing.  The whole thing is metal, which keeps heat/reflects the heat lamp nicely.  The back wall is solid, the two side walls have vents which let air in, but not baby birds out.  At the front A framed tight mesh in a wooden frame that fasten to the inside brackets.  It comes out for easy cleaning (YAY).  The only flaw in the design is that broken & now absent lid. 

Also, there are the kittens.  They are almost-probably-year old cats now but whatever.  They have run of the garage, the building best suited to holding a large, hollowed out air conditioner & heat lamp that requires electricity.  So, a peep house with no roof in a kitten/cat hang-out was just the best of many reasons to skip chicks this year, not to mention the fire hazard (cats like heat lamps, too). 

Then I got word that one of the feed stores had waaaaaaaay over ordered & now had 6+ week old pullets going for bargain basement prices.  Let me back up a bit.  For a few years now, people around here (& around the country) have been having a back-to-the-land or where-the-hell-does-my-food-come-from-exactly sort of epiphany.  It coincided with many people needing to save money & thinking they would save a lot of money if they raised their own food.  I am all for both of those things, but I had too many conversations with people who clearly believed food would all just magically happen.  After all, once you get those seeds in the ground, they just grow, right?  Sure you have to water them, but you can do that while you talk on the cell-phone.  Like driving.  I think the fantasies of easy money at the famers market are my favorite; "have you seen how $$$ those eggs are?  & the chicken does all the work!"  Turns out, here is a reason small farmers live hard lives.  There are days of exquisite repetitive boredom & days of back breaking work with almost nothing in between. 

Some people have fallen in love with the process (food glorious home-grown food).  Others would rather pull weeds or scrape chicken shit off of, well, anything & everything than spend one more afternoon blocking out the sound of their kids bickering.  I will say you can do both of those things with a glass of wine & baseball on the radio.  If that's what you're in to.  I would put the wine in a sippy cup though, especially if you scrape with vigor. 

Many more people have said enough is enough.  & after a few years of through-the-roof seed & newly hatched poultry orders, these are dropping back to more or less pre-fiscal crisis numbers.  You can use job stats or housing purchases or whatever you want, but for me I know the economy is improving when given the choice between saving a few bucks & spending their ALL free time working for what works out to be well below minimum wage, many people would rather pay the cable bill, the a/c bill & sit inside all summer. 

So what to do with those bargain baby birds?  They were big enough they didn't need a heat lamp, if it was warm enough.  Naturally, we had overnight freezes starting the day I brought them home.  So for two nights we had a dozen pullets in a dog crate in the bathtub overnight.  By day, they are happy in the old rabbit hutch in the henhouse but by night, they were stinking up my bathroom.  I am guessing this is the point when a lot of people begin to wonder if maybe, just maybe it is just not worth it. 

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Saint Urho

Once upon a time (1956), in a land very far away (Minnesota) there was not much to tell really.  The true story, if there was a true story, began in Finland or maybe the story began "The true story began in Finland".  It's a toss-up.

Once upon a time in Finland, the grape vines were under attack by locusts (grapes? locusts? Finland?).  Enter Urho.  He waved a...stick & chanted "get out grasshoppers" or some such & a legend was born: the legend of Saint Urho who drove the locusts from Finland.  If this sounds a little bit like a second string holidays version of Mad Libs, I'm with you.  & so were the irish-americans of Virginia, Minnesota (no, really).  They called it a made up holiday (!) meant to steal the thunder of Saint Patrick's Day (which I guess is not made up....?).

Whatever the inspiration, you can celebrate Saint Urho's Day drinking purple beer.  Does beer seem like a funny choice to honor the rescuer of a vineyard to anyone else?  Anyway, you can also join in wearing purple, to represent the grapes & green to represent the....grasshoppers?  There is also a cultural dish made with potatoes.  Alright, I am not one for my holiday is more authentic than your holiday but this is getting a little bit same-y.  But wait, Saint Urho has a charming little ?song?chant?  Whatever it is, you can find it here.  & they dance slow polkas (what?) called a schottisches. 

What the hell, I'm in.  Bring on the grape juice.  Let's honor this patron of Finland that Finland does not actually acknowledge.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

One bad apple

Now that I am breathing clearly again, mostly, I have started running again.  Kinda.  I have been scaling up slowly (one minute run, one minute walk for a mile & the walk back a mile).  I have also rearranged my route somewhat.  Let me go back a bit:

Last year I had a couple mildly unpleasant encounters with one particular old man; I honestly cannot remember if I blogged about it or not.  The gist of these encounters was he would tell me something I was doing wrong such as running on the wrong side of the road (which was odd as I was running against traffic, as I should), or running on road instead of the shoulder (where he started talking about this there was actually no shoulder, the road went right up to a tree line so I don't know what he expected BUT I often do this even when there is a shoulder because of the litter, especially broken glass & when the grass gets long it see hard to see holes that would be happy to trip me or worse), or he would drive by (in a gold extended cab pick-up) & honk & zoom way out around me, like I was in his way.  He was just generally be someone I wanted to avoid. 

Apparently this guy was a well known neighborhood grumpy old guy.  One day after passing the Marine Corps. Flag House (many places along my route have names like this), Grumpy Old Guy jumped out at me (really) & stopped dead in the road & started talking about....something.  I don't know what because I veered out into the road & just went around him without otherwise acknowledging he was there at all.  When I came back down that road, the Marine Corps. Flag House Husband...or Uncle I suppose, was there & beginning with an "excuse me", flagged me down to ask if Old ?Jack?Tom?Billy? (I really don't remember) was bothering me.  I said well, yea, actually he was, whenever I see him he has some unreasonable complaint.  I don't know if I said I thought he was harmless, but the truth is I did & mostly still do.  I suspect he is lonely & has no idea how to interact with people, so he opens with something anti-social & then cannot understand why people avoid him (I m not so very insightful, I have relatives who behave this same way & then complain their grandchildren never call). 

Marine Corps. Flag House Man said he would talk with Grumpy Old Guy's son (our neighborhood is thick with family farms; we might be the only people totally unrelated to anyone in the area).  He also indicated his own children (I have only seen one ?10?11? year old boy tearing round the fenced yard with the dogs, but apparently there are more) had been harangued by Grumpy Old Guy.  I said that would be great actually, as I don't know who this guy is, but some of the things he does are dangerous, like zooming up behind me & slamming the brakes & the horn.  Turns out he had been doing that to Marine Corps. Flag House Kids when they rode their bikes.  Sweet guy. 

I went back to my run & Marine Corps. Flag House Man walking across the street.  Since that day I have only seen Grumpy Old Guy a few times.  I have seen his truck, but he hasn't been behind the wheel (I don't know if this is a new development, the only time I really noticed it before was after he had done something obnoxious).  I sometimes see him in one of two front yards & although he has shouted at me (!), he has never started walking towards me & he certainly hasn't jumped out like he used to.  On the other hand he often shakes his fist at me, one of those "get off my lawn" gestures. 

& now that I know roughly where he lives, I have changed my route to not pass it.  This change isn't permanent; it is along nice shady bit of road & en route to my favorite stretch & once the summer sun hits, I will want to run down there.  On the other hand I hear Grumpy Guy got quite the corking last week, so maybe it won't be that big a deal.  Have I ever mentioned Running Girl?  Running Girl is pre-teen, bone thin & lives for speed.  Foot-speed that is; one run she passed me three times, that is three different points along my route she zoomed up from behind me & went on by.  I have never seen her without Bicycle Boy, who I would guess is in his mid-teens.  Running Girl RUNS, flat out RUNS, she RUNS like a bear is after her & Bicycle Boy rides just behind her, usually in a weaving sort of pattern.  It is very clear he is her escort.  He almost never gets ahead of her, but sometimes he rides up alongside her & they have brief conversations.  Their interactions are familial, there is no other way to describe it; they are either siblings or close cousins or something.  They are clearly both fond of & frustrated with each other.   Neither of them is ever discourteous, but when I see them I move over.  Running Girl hates to stop & it's not like my running is a speed event.  There is one other thing about Running Girl & Bicycle Boy:  Bicycle Boy is black & Running Girl probably isn't.  She has golden skin, but straight loose blondish hair.  The color means nothing, I know, but it is floppy white person hair; she usually wears a pony tail that swings around in a way black person hair just doesn't.  Because of this racial/ethnic/whatever combo, I am 99.9% sure I know which house they belong to; there are plenty of mixed race families in our general area but only one white spouse/black spouse couple near my route. 

So Running Girl & Bicycle Boy are fairly regular fixtures  I don't usually see them when school is in, but week-ends or holidays I am likely to run (no pun intended & not literally) into them.  So it should not have surprised me that Grumpy Old Guy had seen them as well.  & of course, why would his interactions with them be any happier than with me.  Or with Marine Corps. Flag House Kids.

The version I heard was that Grumpy Old Guy shouted at Running Girl & Bicycle Boy & I believe it.  It was implied that is was racial, but no one I talked to knew what was said exactly & given Grumpy Old Man's history I am not sure it had to be, but maybe it was.  Then he threw something at them & maybe he did.  On the other hand I have seen Grumpy Old Guy shake his fist like a Scooby Doo villain which could look like throwing.  It doesn't matter really, except to Grumpy Old Guy who got a visit from the sheriff's department.  A complaint had been made that he threatened two local children & he has been under much closer watch by his family since then (this I have from Marine Corps. Flag House Woman who had it from Grumpy Old Guy's daughter-in-law who has historically been in sympathy with the neighborhood).   Apparently if you yell & jump up & down, that is one thing, but the minute you throw even a newspaper that can be called assault.  Toss in a few racial slurs & you have a legal problem. 

So Grumpy Old Guy got a stern warning.  It was made clear that, given his history in the neighborhood (apparently there had been there had been other calls to the police, specifically about the aggressive driving, but no formal complaint), he could expect a charge next time.  His family does seem to be doing their best to keep him under wraps.  When I drive by either of the two houses, I sometimes see Grumpy Old Guy well away from the road, sitting in a chair, looking around.  He might still yell & throw things but no one walking by would know it.  Whether this will continue to be the case, who knows.  If he does jump out at me again, or shout something or whatever I'm not sure if I want to be the one who calls the cops again.  & for me, the first time.  For now, I am just avoiding that part of the route. 

Monday, March 11, 2013

"I better not see this on your blog"

Earlier this week (or late last week - on what day does your week start?), I managed to align my blog with the once a month topic with the once a week Weekend Update on Block Lotto.  This never happens.  I am group topic challenged; I have been all my life.  When all the girls my age were hanging on Rick Springfield, I was horrifying myself with what Henry VIII did to those six wives he had wedded-"One died, one survived, two divorced, two beheaded" (because being the only white double dutch jumper on the playground did not make me freak enough, this is what I chanted).   Years later, those same girls are hooked on "The Tudors" & I am singing "Jessie's Girl" in the shower.  So, everything lined up.  The topic was Tips, Trick & Lessons Learned & I have already said something on same.  Yahoo.  & then that same day we had a household event that qualifies....kinda.

We have the teeny-tiniest bathroom off our bedroom.  Many people don't know it's there, including people who have stood in the master bedroom.  This is because it is just as deep & just as wide as the closet next to it, which while it meets the definition of walk-in (you can walk in & close the door behind you) as walk-in closets go it is pretty small (after you are in it, you can then only stand there because there is no more room to take any more steps). We call it a stand-in closet because a: that is all you can do in it & b: it is standing in for the walk-in closet of our dreams. 

OKay, now that you can imagine that size space, put a toilet, sink w/small vanity & step-in shower in same.  It's a teeny-tiny bathroom.  In fact, if someone is sitting on the toilet when you are getting into the shower, you will be strangers no more.  Even when someone is NOT sitting there it, is a long stride to get past the toilet & into the shower.

So, this teeny-tiny bathroom has had a bit of a...shall we say AROMA the past couple weeks.  We have been dealing with it as a drain clog in the shower because when you get in the shower is when the smell is strongest, but it is not a shower clogged drain kind of smell.  Unless we were to use our shower as a toilet, which I promise you we do not.  Before calling in plumbers, etc., A thought it best to deal with those things he could deal with himself.  & as he had replaced the wax ring on the other bathroom's toilet a few years ago, he was confident he could do it again super-quick.  & it is was a one person job, which is the kind of job we both like best.

After lunch, he went to the local home caretaker DIY warehouse, got what he needed, came home & took that toilet up (after draining, etc. which is not a no-time-at-all process) & put it in the big tray for same in our bedroom (because even if the tray would fit through the door, there would be no room for it in the teeny-tiny bathroom; I don't mean no room for the tray & a person to work, I actually mean not enough floor space for the tray).
  • TIP #1- start home repair jobs in the morning.
In the tradition of I-have-done-this-before-&-know-what-to-expect type jobs, this one naturally offered up a new twist.  Once that toilet was off, it was clear there was a significant problem with the top of the pipe that connected with the toilet & the septic tank.  Specifically, there was not so much pipe as a round tube with jagged edges, not all of which cleared the edge of the floor, never mind the bottom of the seal.  In other words, there were gaps all around the circumference of the pipe permitting whatever to leak out & just sort of be, underneath the toilet itself.  It looks like the person who put in this bathroom had X inches of broken pipe leftover when what he needed was more like X+2".  But he used it anyhow.  In retrospect it was probably more than adequate when he used it, but broke off when the toilet itself was installed & he figured "what the hell, I'm not going to live here".

I said "well that sucks" & then admired what would have been a pun if drainage pipes were supposed to draw down, which they are not.   A's exact word was "Shit" & then I admired that kinda pun as well.   We took pictures on his cell-phone so he could show the DIY warehouse store guys what he was up against, get some sympathy that did not involve juvenile word play & maybe even a suggestion that would not require a plumber.  He left & I cleaned up the mess on the floor & the crud in the grooves of the split pipe & then I went back to the book I had been reading outside the bathroom door to be on hand to get him whatever supplies he needed.  No, I am not a crazy handmaiden type wife, there was just no way he could easily leave that bathroom once that toilet was in the tray, in the doorway.  Until we realized he was going to have to leave & then we had to do some re-arranging in the bedroom so he could push the toilet-in-tray out of the doorway & get out.  & by "we" I mean me.
  • TIP #2- always have reading material on hand, ideally something you can pick up & put down without losing the narrative. 
A returned to find me propped against the toilet, reading & eating buttered toast.  He had received adequate commiseration, & even better an actual solution: this kind of putty that was activated by working it with your fingers (for a minute, literally) & then could be pressed into the gaps, smoothed by hand, etc.  It would harden in 20 minutes or so & become sandable or drillable in an hour & a half.  Naturally we were not going to drill new holes in the pipe, but we did want to know when that time was up so we could test it & be sure no water or anything else was likely to get thru.

So, I got the yoga pose timer, set one alarm for 20 minutes, set the other one for an hour & a half & used the count-up timer to keep track of one minute. 
  •  TIP #3- a good multi-task alarm clock/countdown timer is a very useful thing & not just for yoga, although it is very useful for yoga, too.
Then we went in the tv-room & had snacks, lounged around & generally did nothing.  He watched a DVRed Bill Maher while I finished my book while we waited for the putty to set (apparently during the setting process it becomes quite warm to the touch; A asked if I wanted to experience that sensation.  As it would require lying more or less with my face on the toilet-floor & sticking my hand down a septic drain, I decided to take his word for it). 
  • TIP #4- aggravated, frustrated people never say no to finger foods.
After the time was up, the putty was deemed most excellent, the wax seal was replaced (you know, the original couple hours+ task we started with) & the toilet returned to its appropriate place.   By then we were a little bit fried, so instead of going out for the birthday dinner we were too tired to go out for last Saturday (the actual birthday) & had postponed to this Saturday, we ate pasta out of the box & sauce out of a jar & went to bed at 9:30.  The book I read was James Lasdun's Give Me Everything You Have: On Being Stalked which I thought was pretty good so it must have been fantastic considering what it was up against.  No pun intended.

What part of this was I not supposed to blog about you ask?  Well on-going throughout the day, we talked about a new toilet seat, specifically one of those cushy ones & one of us mentioned that he wished they had memory foam & the other pointed out we have a dead memory foam pillow (one of the little dogs started to tunnel throw the center, right where a head would go or maybe the opening of a donut-type pillow) & wouldn't that make a nifty little craft project for a blog.  & then the other one said "I better not see this on your blog".

As for the stinky smell?  So far so good.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

More than I can chew

I have been compulsively working on Bird Trap Blocks for weeks now & trying so hard to keep from blogging about it every day.  Because I cannot stop thinking about Bird Traps, I cannot stop talking about Bird Traps.  You people are lucky, anyone I can get on the phone not so much.  All my waking hours, some part of my brain is arranging, re-arranging; I rotate them, I imagine different parts coming together, I cannot stop. 

Because the Bird Trap Blocks are improv (I like to call it jazz piecing), there never was a set of directions.  One of the guidelines is a plank round of 1/2-square triangles.  In short, I am cranking through 1/2-square triangles.  & the big question everyone who asks about this block is where did they all come from?

In the other side of this post, Block Lotto's week-end update this week is all about How-To's.  So this is my How To tip.  How to take a bit of extra time & build up a supply of random 1/2-square triangles that you might never use...unless you decide to make Bird Traps along with me. 

& now for the meat.  A couple of years ago I made a quilt top of rainbow colored rolling stone blocks.  I was approached by a friend who was looking for a rainbow themed quilt for a regional GLBT fundraiser.  I made the top in a bit less than 5 days.  That's soup to nuts, telephone call to mailing the top off.   I never took a picture of the original & the pics I got of the completed quilt were not digital or I would share, but I loved the top & have been thinking about making one for myself ever since I made it.  So here are the blocks I have made so far for the quilt for myself; the fabrics are different, but the color-concept is the same.

What does that have to do with anything at all?   am glad you asked.  See those on point squares at each corner?  Well, each one of them began as a 4.5" square & then had little squares added, flipped, pressed & clipped to make them what you see.  This means that every single rolling stone had 16 orphan, 1/2-square triangles cut away as scrap.  & all it took was an extra swoop in the chain piecing to gather them together.  This quilt top (& the original) is a 4x4 pattern, at 16 leftover units per block, that means a total of 256 1/2-square triangles going spare. 

If this all sounds a little bit compulsive, I hear you.  & after all I had no idea I was going to be Bird Trap Block possessed when I started down this road.  On the other hand, without that cache of trash I probably would never have thought improv block design was an option. 

Besides, this random piecing has served me well before.  One of my favorite quilts began as the same 1/2-square triangle leftovers from a very large churn dash block table runner.  One of my go-to baby gift quilts (& grown-up quilts) begins with strings.  & I have never been put off just because none of the pieces really fit together.

So my tip?  Uhm.  I guess, if you are already sitting there, piecing & cutting, what's one more for the pile? 

Sunday, March 3, 2013

On the 4th day of March

What to say about what has happened today.  Historically, that is.  The first & third flags were adopted by the Confederate States of America today.  In different years, of course.  The biggest thing about that for me was the Confederate States of America existed for about four years total (February 1861 to May 1865).  Three flags in four years seems a little, well I don't know the word.  Excessive?  Frivolous?   Bogged down in trivialities? 

But I have written enough about the Confederacy lately.  What else about today?  Quite a bit earlier, the Massachusetts Bay Colony was granted a royal charter in 1628.  Let's keep moving.  Frances Perkins becomes the first female member of the USCabinet in 1933.  Hmmm, nope, not interesting enough, not even to kick off Women's History Month.

A number of people were born today.  A number of people are born every day, but today we have  Vivaldi, him of the Four Seasons.  Eleanor Daley was also born on March 4th.  The wife & mother of two prominent mayors of Chicago, so naturally everyone called her Sis.  I don't know what's up with that but am not all that curious, either.

Quite a few people have died as well.  Gary Gygax, the father of Dungeons & Dragons died today, in 2008.  D&D being the first dating service for geeks (not the advertised purpose but you will never convince me that didn't quickly become one of the attractions).  Gary Gygax helped introduce surprising number of socially inept people might never have met.  Now there's an interesting accomplishment.  Bror Von Blixen-Finecke also died on March 4th (1946).  Who is that you ask?  Well, he is better known as the unfaithful husband to his first wife, Karen who is better known as Isak Dineson.

In 1918, March 4th saw the first outbreak of the Spanish flu.  We don't think about it overly much, but with an estimated 50 million dead worldwide, the Spanish flu was the last great pandemic.  Until the next one of course.  

Maybe I am just tired but March 4th isn't forming into anything cohesive for me.  It's funny, but some days really do seem to have themes: lots of scientists' births or deaths or even something in broader strokes, many political assassinations, that kind of thing.  The best March 4th seems to offer is 2 of the 3 Confederate flags & I am way too amped up over that damned flag as it is. 

Ah well, I guess that makes March 4th the unofficial make it your own day.  Let me suggest you design your own flag & maybe listen to something baroque while being grateful that despite loud shouts from faux scientists that there is no such thing as evolution, the US Center for Disease Control still bases their influenza recommendations on there being such a thing after all.