Wednesday, July 31, 2013

52 Photos Project: Fresh

I saw this week's 52 Photos Project "Fresh" while I was away, visiting my parents.  I had thought I would skip it, but "Fresh" kind of fell into my lap.  My mother practices what she herself calls Extreme Gardening.  When her doctor asked her what kind of exercise she did, that was her answer: "extreme gardening".  & their home garden is gorgeous.

Which brings us to Fresh.  Naturally I thought of fresh as a daisy.  So I thought I would share these daisies.  Yes, they are past their prime.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Color catcher

Brace yourselves, I am about to go commercial.  OKay, not really because no one over at that family company even knows I am typing this & since I am not getting any cash, I don't think I could be described as commercial. 


I am a dedicated pre-washer.  Let me back up.  As a quilter, I pre-wash everything but the thread; the fabric, the batting, everything.  Well, that is everything but you get my drift.  I do this because I used to get headaches in my sewing room.  Can you imagine the conflict I want to sew but my head hurts?  I thought maybe just maybe it was the formaldehyde in the fabric (a good thing or it would rot in transit to your local quilt store).  So I took everything down off the shelves & washed it. Also I had a new washing machine & I wanted to play with it.  & it worked!

Since then, of course, I have been made happy because of all the colors that never ran & ruined my quilts.  Or clothes, clothes are important, too. 

But this means you can trust me when I say everything in the quilt in the picture had been washed before.  Except the thread.  In fact, some of it had been washed more than once because it is made of little squares of many novelties & I often get these in swaps & trades & as gifts & not knowing their history, I wash them. 

Also, you cannot really see it, but the outer border is a very saturated red, & the background & back & binding is a kind of orangey maroon, & there are four panels of la virgin de Guadalupe with a lot of color & a lot of black so I took no chances & washed all of that at least twice before I even began to work with it.  Then when everything was all done, I tossed it in the machine with a color catcher sheet thinking "what the hell".

Imagine my surprise when this came out! 

I was expecting something maybe vaguely pinkish but not this.

This is the exact same color as the background, back & binding just a few shades lighter.  & I do mean just a few.   I am a little concerned about what will happen in its new home; I gave it to my brother saying this will be a good thing to hang on the wall near the door because you can always take it down & wash it.  He lives in another part of the country, but the world is, if anything, grittier & sandier & dirtier than it is here & we live on a dirt road just a few houses down from speed hungry red necks.  Seriously, it is like they think they're mud bogging out there.  A few years ago I could not get out of my driveway because one of them was stuck.  He had over rotated when he started to hydroplane.  On mud.  & he got caught, nose down, in a depression too narrow & too shallow to really be called a ditch.  In mud.  He had to walk home & get towed out, which is no easy fete on a road barely wide enough for two cars to pass.  Do you know how fast you need to be driving to hydroplane on mud?  Too fast!

Enough about my idiot neighbors, back to the color catcher.  I think I am going to include a new sheet, this sheet & the box top when I send this off.  He's a physicist, (no really), I think he can do the math. 

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

52 Photos Project: Down Below

I woke up this morning with no idea what I was going to do about this week's 52 Photos Project.  It was not keeping me awake or anything, I just know I am going to be tied up starting tomorrow & well past the deadline so the post was going up today or never.

The theme "Down Below" put me in mind of what is below so many of the things I photograph.  Below the plants is some pretty ugly mulch (I make my own mix, don't you wish you had THAT recipe) & insects et al - I got a great snail picture, sliming its way up to ruin the banana blossom.  Or below the bird feeders; those birds get into squawking tussles you would not believe & a lot, A LOT of...well, everything gets left below the feeder.

But I woke up this morning & went out into the room we do most of our living in & there was Lilly, in her basket, down below. 

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Meet Lola ( L-O-L-A Low-lah)

So we have been looking for a small dog that would be not too much like Jane.  Believe it or not the not-like-Jane thing was my idea; I did not want to get a dog that was something like her & then be unhappy with the poor girl because she was not actually Jane.  A was leaning towards a more dachshund-y dog, the look, the busyness, the whole dachshund shtick.

Meet Lola (FKA Tasha which was Rocky & Bullwinkle et al to me but sounds like a stripper trying to seem exotic to A, funny how those things work).  She was a year old in March, & is settling in so far, but she just arrived yesterday afternoon so things are still up in the air.  She came from a rescue about 1.5 hours drive from here & had a long drive home.  On that drive we had a short conversation about what to call her & we thought we could live with Tasha.  & then the Kinks came on the radio & at the time we both said "what about..?" 

So now we have a Lilly (short for Lilliputian) & Lola.  Oh well.  On the upside, we keep singing to her, which she actually seems to like. 

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

52 Photos Project: Layers/Stacks

This week it is Layers/Stacks over at 52 Photos Project.  There was so much to choose from:  stacks of quilts, stacks of books, stacks of quilt books...

In the end though, I went for the banana blossom.  We have SIX now, very exciting.  For me anyhow.  We have never had more than one a season in the past & had none for the past few years.  I know the reason is extremely cold winters coupled with crowding in that corner of the yard making us thin out the big banana tree trunks.  But last winter was mild & the summer before we did very little to the plant, clean-up-wise.  Now that we have pavers running between many of the plants, we hope not to have that crowding problem again.  Not that the bananas respect the pavers, but when a shoot comes up & lifts a paver off the ground, it is easy to see which little grove needs some cutting back.

When the blooms first emerge from the top of the stalk, they are not the rich purple they will become, but they are still odd looking.  They look like something surfacing, a lizard or a sea monster.  Once the whole shoot is out, it broadens at the base & the leaves begin to turn purple.  The stalk continues to grow, but the blossom gets heavier, curving it back down & then the layers really emerge. 

The first layer of purple peels back & underneath is an arc of small new bananas.  Once exposed they will also plump up & change color, the stalk will grow & further along, another petal will fall away & there will be another arc of new bananas.

Monday, July 15, 2013

What did Eric do? & what happened next?

I don't particularly want to talk about the Zimmerman thing, but I live in Florida & it can be hard to get away from.  During other famous trials, I have successfully kept my head down.  During the Nicole Brown Simpson & Ron Goldman murder trial I actually declared the area around me to be an OJ free zone & when people attempted to discuss it even in my hearing I would get obnoxious about it because free speech cuts both ways people (a funny upshot of this was that my boss later THANKED me.  Apparently productivity went down everywhere during that trial, but our office stayed on track; he thought this was a direct result of my talking about my menstrual cycle when anyone brought up OJ). 

Caysey Anthony was another local, sorta.  That was another media feeding frenzy, before & after the Not Guilty.  I was standing in the local Home Depot when the verdict was announced OVER THE INTERCOM.  What?!?!?!?  This is a folksy Home Depot & they often have rather strange intercom messages that are clearly as much inside jokes as actual information, so I guess I forgive them.  My view during the whole thing (the trial, the post trial, the post-post trial) was maybe, just maybe Nancy Grace cares more about her ratings than actual truthful content.

& now Zimmerman's acquittal.  I'm sorry people are sorry, but he probably didn't break a law.  As it happens, Trayvon Martin, had he been carrying a gun, could have shot George Zimmerman dead once Zimmerman started following him & should have been protected under the same law. It's a BAD LAW.  Florida is riddled with bad laws.  Recently they passed a law making it illegal to use any thing that could be used in a game of chance.  Like the laptop I am writing this on.  Or the smart phone I take with me when I leave the house.  When the legislature refers to themselves as professionals I cannot help but think strippers are professionals.  Manicurists, mechanics, et al, all professionals.  They are regulated, licensed &  so forth.  Florida legislators on the other hand...there is a word for them but "professional" is not it.

So I thought I would take a step back, & take a look at another infamous verdict.  Today in 1958, Julia was walking to the bus from her sister Mimi Stanley Smith's home when she was struck & killed instantly by off duty police officer Eric Clague.  Clague was almost certainly driving drunk & despite witness statements to the contrary, claimed she had run out in front of him.  I looked but could find no witness account that agreed with his version of events & at least one in the court record that certainly did not agree with it, but the court ruled in his favor.  A contributing factor was no doubt Julia's troubled history.  Her son John had been removed from her care & was actually raised by the sister she was visiting.   & although she had two daughters with a Mr. Dykins & lived with him until her death, it was well known she had never divorced her son's father.  In between the birth of her son & her two daughters with Dykins, Julia had another daughter who was given up for adoption.  While it does not make it OKay, this background may have made it easier to say this was a mistake, not a crime.  I think this happens a lot.  I know it does.

All of this would have been a small, unnoticed miscarriage if not for her son, John Lennon.  He mourned her all of his life.

Ultimately, Clague left the police force & became a postman.  He was probably expecting a quiet life, & even if he did not think he had done anything wrong when he killed Julia Lennon, I doubt he ever had a chance to forget it.   In one of life's little ironies, part of Clauge's postal route included, until 1965 anyhow, the family home of Paul McCartney.  In 1965 McCartney bought his father a home of his own. 

None of this makes the Zimmerman/Martin thing OKay.  A young man was killed because someone who really should have known better behaved like a jackass (even the majority of people who think Zimmerman should not go to prison are in agreement he should have let 911 handle the mysterious guy in a hoodie).  I hope that people channel their energies into repealing that dangerous law, but I know the Nancy Grace's of the world would rather they didn't.  So much more money to be made if they don't. 

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Everybody thinks everybody else is stupid

Not long ago, one of our little dogs died.  Don't worry, this isn't a retelling of that but this story starts there.  After it was all over, I took the microchip tag from her collar & put it in my keychain.  Since then I have lost track of how many people tell me that the tag should be on the dog's collar.  Not one of them has been snide.  They are all kindly, patient even, obviously trying to help the silly woman who doesn't know how the whole ident-a-chip thing works. 

The whole thing puts me in mind of something that happened decades ago.  I was in a car; I was not the driver.  The driver was cursing & shaking his fist & in general behaving like an idiot because the guy in the car in front of him was going the speed limit i.e. too slow.  & I do mean dead on the speed limit, because this was the cause of some of the upset (the posted limit being more of a guideline really & +5 being the actual limit).  Eventually we got to a point where this car could be passed & the unhappy driver looked over at the other car & saw a radar detector on the dashboard.  He cursed some more, hit the horn, hit the gas & flew on by, actually saying something like "look at that idiot, he even has a radar detector & he is still driving slow". 

You probably don't need me to tell you who got pulled over for speeding moments later.  What was interesting to me then & interesting to me still was the driver's complete conviction that the other guy was just too stupid to...I don't know what.  All the evidence that the other guy might have information he did not was right there.  He even acknowledged it & yet he never put together the information the other guy had access to & the way the other guy was behaving & came up with what in retrospect was painfully, expensively obvious. 

This has been on my mind lately as I watch the news, & not just the political coverage which is universally asinine (except NPR, I love NPR.  & by the by I think Gillian Flynn is supposed to be on Wait Wait Don't Tell Me this weekend so I must set my alarm).  Where was I?  Right, Idiocy.  I guess what I am wondering is if we wouldn't all be better off if instead of seeing some one doing something stupid & immediately jumping up & down with laughter, indignation, pity (& now I really want to see someone jump up & down with pity) maybe we should all stop for a moment & consider maybe there is more to the story.  I know it isn't the human way, but it is an option.

Finally, I think I should point out that while the people explaining to me how ident-a-chips work mostly work at the grocery store (it is pretty much the only place I pull out my keys & put them down where they can be seen) & are pretty much teenagers, the driver who got the ticket is a practicing attorney & graduated from a law school that is famously harder to get into than Yale.  So you don't have to be stupid to be stupid.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The good, the bad & the never gonna finish

Recently, Goodreads did a survey.  I remember it but I did not participate.  It was about who reads books all the way through & who doesn't & why.   Personally I think the why belongs with the first set as well.  I mean, read every book you ever started ever, all the way to the bitter grueling end?  I actually have a shelf on Goodreads called "unfinished, probably forever" because I kept catching myself picking up a book, starting it & then saying "wait a minute". 

Included was a most frequently never finished list.  I have finished three of them.  & hated two of those I finished.  The fourth I am never likely to try to read & the fifth I tried to read THREE TIMES & finally said "screw this".  As for the one book on this list that I read & liked, I can see that it was a brand new direction for an established author that would leave people hanging.  My primary reason for not finishing a book is not even on the list of reasons given.  It boils down to a single idea:  something doesn't work.  I don't mean my eyes won't stay open (although that does happen), I mean something in the story just fails somehow.

For example, was I the ONLY PERSON who thought this business of Blomkvist & Salander turning off their cell phones & not leaving messages for each other along the lines of someone is trying to kill us/I know who is trying to kill us absurd in the extreme?  I was so confused about this I would corner people who had lived in Sweden & ask if there was some peculiarity of their wireless telephone network that would make this a normal thing.  Like maybe it is easy to hack someone's cell phone account; they were both privacy nuts, after all.  But there isn't, at least the system is not any more vulnerable than any other voicemail & no one ever offered another explanation.  & for the record I FINISHED this book; I finished the whole trilogy.  But only because it was 1) available on audio & 2) so pervasive that it was hard to talk with people about books with out this series coming up.  Now I can say "I hated it & let me tell you why".  I can get as lost in a story as anyone I know, but there are points when I just cannot stop thinking who would do this?  What upright walking, nose breathing sapiens would behave this way? 

Another example of a book I didn't hate that has a similar problem is Water For Elephants.  I could not accept that the son of a 1930s veterinarian who accompanied his father on calls had never seen animal abuse.  It's just not possible.  It just isn't.  I finished the book, I didn't hate it, I could even see what made it attractive, but I never really got past the narrator not having an experience (or experiences) I thought he would have had. 

Imagine a book about I don't know...NASCAR.  I know nothing about NASCAR making me uniquely qualified to sketch out this particular problem.  Or not.  We have a boy, a young man.  He grew up around NASCAR.  His father was a mechanic.  He accompanied his father to the track (it is a track in NASCAR, right?), but his father cared about him & sheltered him from the worst of human behavior while they were enjoying the races...bouts...heats?   It doesn't matter, you know what I mean.  As a result, this person, steeped in NASCAR since childhood, familiar enough with the workings of an engine to build & rebuild one several times over, fluent in the talk of gasoline mixes, etc., this person has NO IDEA that sometimes alcohol consumption gets out of hand at NASCAR tailgate events.  Does this work for you?

The book I started three times & never finished, if you are curious, is Wicked.  People who know me know my problems with Wicked stem not just from it being rather slow to build but also (& perhaps more importantly) that when the publisher put it on disc they failed to number the discs.  Think about that.  This means that if somehow the discs get out of order (& I would say every 50 or so a book on disc arrives with the numbered discs out of order, so imagine how easy it would be if the discs weren't numbered) the only way to put them back together is to call the publisher & ask them what the hell they were thinking, putting the first line stated on each disc on the label instead of a number.  I once listened to disc 1 & then disc 2 & then I don't know which-the-hell disc but I was so confused by what had happened previously (in order, I assumed) that I listened to it for ten minutes before I realized I had no idea who the hell anybody was.

If the discs had been in order, I might have made it through, but maybe not.  I plugged away through the Millenium Series with little trouble once I started thinking of it as a dark -very very dark- comedy.  Like the Keystone Kops tracking Jack the Ripper.  Eat, Pray Love & Committed both got me so aggravated that my heart rate was up where it should be during my work out, which almost never happens.  

This leaves only the one I never read:  Fifty Shades of Gray.  I think I will be able to skip the whole series.  While socializing with physicists, it helps to have certain books I never would have otherwise read under my belt (the Lord of the Rings et al comes to mind), I just don't see these making the cut.  No pun intended.

The trick is not to throw the baby out with the bath water, something I think a number of people did with The Casual Vacancy.  It is no Harry Potter, that's for sure, but what is the author supposed to do?  Never write anything else again?  Not use her own name?  This is why I plan to read Elizabeth Gilbrt's new book (a novel, which helps I hope).  & why I may very well retry Wicked, if they can get those discs numbered & I have a long drive ahead of me.  Maybe not. 

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Back on Block Lotto

I accidentally sat out last month's Block Lotto.  I had blocks made but because of home network stoopidness & bad weather & being out of tow, I never posted them.  I am taking no chances this month; I put up the first block I made & am putting together many more.  Because I want to WIN.

In the meantime, here is one of the I-Spy houses made from, you guessed it Bird Trap block fabric.  I am thinking of launching a whole new set of bird traps around this I-Spy theme.   After all, I have plenty of fussy cut fabric.

As for the Bird Trap quilt itself, I am getting the final square-em-up borders on today.  I hope.  I decided against one outer border & have started to put on a few narrow borders to slowly bring it back in line.  In square.  In rectangle, I guess. 

I am also toying with entering it in a quilt show happening in September.  The submission deadline is later this month & I really should be done.  On the other hand, this show while charming is a bit old fashioned.  I am thinking this might be too weird.  Eh, I have plenty of time to decide.  Unless I drag my feet & miss the deadline & then the decision is made that way.

Friday, July 5, 2013

52 Photos Project: Red, White Blue...for real this time

So I started & finished & posted an entry for this week at 52 Photos Project, but I never linked it up.  This had more to do with the weather than anything else, but by the time I could log back on, I had a photo I liked better.

She is still a red dapple feeling blue, but this is just a better picture.

I hope everyone had a safe fourth.  We got through the night with minimal fuss (thank you Downpour!), but several neighbors' dogs went missing.  I know this because they were still holed up in our barn early this morning.  Yes, we live down the street...& up the street...& across the field from the poster boys for irresponsible pet ownership.

But I am ranting again.  So happy Friday, happy 52 Photos & happy Block Lotto everyone! 

Thursday, July 4, 2013

The man who went home

I try to avoid mainstream holiday talk here, mostly because it gets samey.  I am not saying there are not people who can handle it with skill, I am saying I am not one of them.  If I had ever had a 4th of July post before (& I have, as this blog began on a 4th of July holiday) I would be saying things like "it's the 4th of July.  Again" & even though it brings Groundhog Day to my mind (which is good), it is no way to stay interesting.

But Egypt is all over the news, the story of a democratically elected president being deposed & whether or not that is a coup & then the whole what happens when a democratically elected president starts behaving in such a way as to ensure there will not be any democratically elected presidents after him.  Yes, yes Egypt is a complicated place- you don't have to tell me, I have seen plenty of mummy movies & they are usually just in Old Cairo or out in the countryside & even that brief glimpse is enough.

& it all puts me in mind of the man who went home.  Because that is the problem with all president-for-life type: they don't want to go home.  Or worse, they think the presidential house is home & then their kids start thinking they should inherit it.  If you think this is a good idea, picture Paris Hilton-she is three generations away from an extremely powerful, business savvy mogul who could have set himself up as dictator of some island somewhere & wouldn't they be totally screwed now?

So let me take you back to 1788, when George Washington was elected UNANIMOUSLY to the first of two presidential terms.  People starting calling him the father of his country while he was STILL ALIVE.  Trust me, that is exactly the kind of thing that goes to a person's head & if GWashington could get a little obnoxious at parties (seriously, you need to read Barbara Holland's book Hail to the Chiefs:  How to tell your Polks from your Tylers or the updated Hail to the Chiefs: Presidential Mischief, Morals & Malarkey from George W to George W, they are both wonderful) all is forgiven because at the end of that second term, despite begging on behalf of pretty much everyone who did not want to deal with Thomas Jefferson, he went home.  & then like so many retired men, he was dead in less than 3 years.  But that is not the point.

The point is he went home.  It probably helped that he had no children to put that gleam in his eye (you know, the one Papa Doc got looking at Baby Doc), but whatever the reason we have one more thing to thank him for on this birthday of our country.  Thanks for Valley Forge (kinda), thanks for Yorktown (absolutely), thanks for crossing the i's & doting the t's when you updated the Articles of Confederation (& if you do not know what that update is called, GO LOOK IT UP), thanks for keeping us out of that skirmish when the French started by beheading courtiers & worked their way around to, well, anyone.  & thank you thank you thank you for going home. You saw a job, you did it & you left.  Over 200 years later your country is grateful for that precedent you set.  Even if individuals find it chaffing a bit, there is no doubt it was the best thing for us.  Thank you.  & goodbye.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

52 Photos Project: Red, White, Blue

Given what week it is, what day tomorrow is, I guess I should not have been surprised by the topic over at 52 Photos Project this week: Red, White, Blue.  I am not sure I was surprised exactly, just resigned.    I am just the tiniest bit sick of red, white & blue.  I mean, they are ubiquitous.  Try, just try going somewhere, anywhere without seeing them any time of the year & last week, this week & for the rest of the month...well.

So here is my photo.  Since the topic contained the option "or", I decided to go with blue, & blue is the color of that little dog bed there.  You could make an argument for the little dog being a red dachshund, but you would be wrong; she shows every sign of being a dapple (although very likely a red dapple), including the two different color eyes...which are hard to see because I had to adjust for red-eye.  More RED!

More than that, though, this little girl is blue.  She is here while her family is on vacation & she is a little bit sad.  It is hard to communicate to a dog that this is a temporary thing & since she has been abandoned before (I came to have her because she had been left at the library-not a completely strange thing to do as the local librarian operates a small pet rescue & this is well known in the neighborhood; well known to the librarian is that I am crazy for dachshunds in general & minis in particular).  At that time, this little girl had sparkle-purple painted toenails, a sweet disposition, terrible teeth & some stomach lumps.  She could have made a 24/7 permanent home with us, but her new mommy, her currently on vacation mommy, fell in love with her during book club & the rest was history. 

She is back here for an extended visit while her family is away & she is missing them something awful.  Our own mini-dachshund has been missing her friend & is doing her best to be welcoming.  They spend a lot of daytime sitting close to each other on the couch & nighttime snuggled up against us in bed & even though she is putting on a good face, what this girl really wants is to go home.  I have seen enough abandoned dogs to know the signs; they mourn.  & while we are happy to have her (& boy am I glad she could come here instead of a more conventional boarder), she will be thrilled when her family comes home.  On a bittersweet note, she will probably miss her new dachshund friend, so here we are, back to BLUE again.