Saturday, August 31, 2013

Bird trap gone

So.  It is finished & off to Quiltfest 2013 in Jacksonville, FL.  It is hard to think of something to say that I haven't already said:
  • the swap that inspired this quilt doesn't close until Hallowe'en & then the blocks are due the last SAT in November 2013.  You can get the details here or even better in the Facebook Quilt Block Swap group.
  • I made way more blocks than I need for the swap.  Enough for this quilt...& another top I have already started working on.  In my defense...I have no defense, I just like this block.  Or rather the guidelines that go into it as there is no exact "block".
  • I don't think it hangs straight.  I thought I had squared it up...mostly, but after I washed it, it got MORE crooked.  I didn't know that could happen.

Oh, here is something new!  The Quiltfest JAX form was a bit of a challenge.  I could not decide "pieced quilt" or "art quilt".  I polled several quilters & with one exception they all said pieced quilt.  Then I took a look in the past pieced quilt winners & decided art quilt was the way to go.  What can I say, those pieced quilts were so even & harmonious & regular.  I am fully aware the Bird Trap Quilt cannot compete; I truly have no expectations of accolades of any kind.  The competition is just as fierce over in Art Quilts.  I just thought this would be too disruptive in Pieced Quilts.  Also & I know this is no big deal, there is just the teeny-tiniest bit of embroidery.

The theme this year in JAX is "Quilting Thru the Ages".  Not through the ages but thru the ages.  So I don't feel so bad about entering my rip-off of an african-american quilt top that could have been made during the Civil War was but was actually made in the late 20th century

& the word du jour is ERSATZ

Friday, August 30, 2013

Knot garden finale

This week has mostly been about wrapping up the August Quilt Block Swap, which was for anyone that missed it the knot garden block.  It has been a hugely popular swap & I guess I shouldn't be surprised.  As a rule, the garden-y themed blocks do better than others, although too many of them close together gets old fast.  If I were going to guess, I would have said the kids blocks would be the most popular, but they never are.  Oh don't get me wrong our largest swap to-date was a kids block but it was carried by one person who was really really really excited about it.  There were other swappers of course, but she really got into it; without her it would have been closer to average sized.

I am just as glad the garden blocks click with so many people.  I like making them, I like swapping them & I find it easy to use a rule.  & this one was a particular favorite with me.  I like quilt blocks that make a second design when the blocks are all put together, which this one does.  I also like that I had virtually nothing to do with it.  S*** has stepped forward in the group (she nominated herself by competently answering questions when I was unexpectedly off-line for a bit earlier this year) & this block was all hers.  She had made the original iteration for an as-you-please 4 or 9-patch a few cycles ago & then put it forward for this go-round. 

The block is also beginner to make but advanced to use.  I am finding it useful for showing how to strip cut & chain piece 4-patches.

The second step of folding over the right angle triangle at the corner is a well received cheat for anyone intimidated by bias.

Another way this swap is easier than others is the 6th block person stepped forward early.  It is funny but while people are happy to make a 6th block even for organizations they don't necessarily agree with, people rarely send a 6th block if o one has volunteered to take them, eve when I say they will get them back if no one volunteers.  Since virtually everyone does this, I am guessing it must be a human nature thing.  As for myself, there are days I would pay someone to take my orphan quilt blocks off my hands.  Okay, not really.


This weekend I am wrapping up the knot garden block.  Thank you everyone who swapped & everyone who sent 6th blocks & thank you M******* who volunteered to take the 6th blocks & thank you S*** who came up with the idea for this block. 

I really enjoyed being a mostly-passenger this time.  It gave me enough time to make blocks of my own to for the first time in a long time, I can swap too! 

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

52 Photos Project: On the Line

On the line can mean a lot of things.  I grew up in the north east where public transport is much more viable.  Being able to dig & put stuff underground helps.  So does a mindset that doesn't view every public project as an opportunity to line someone's pockets.  Seriously, anyone who doesn't understand the willingness to go to hell with the sequester should spend a little time at a below-the-Mason-Dixon small town meeting.  There is always SOMEONE convinced that someone else is making more than his share of cash off of, well, anything. Here, we go through regular gyrations about how much should be spent on a public library system that really is one of the best & most utilized in the country.  My favorite council meeting mini-series was the guy who ranted every time the garbage pick up rates were reapproved.  Prepare to be shocked, but it costs money to haul garbage.  Believe it or not those guys working in Fladidah heat, driving a heavy stinky truck are not volunteers.  Also & I'm not sure whathisname noticed but gas prices are higher & higher.  One iteration, the council was so fed up they extended the deadline so he would have time to submit a bid hoping that would shut him up, but he was back, bidless & bitching at the next meeting. 

I digress.

On the line used to mean, to me anyhow, that someone was pretty close to a stop.  A tube stop or a bus stop or whatever.  Then it became all tangled with deadline & "your job is on the line".  Life or death type stuff, or at least livelihood or termination.

Nowadays, on the line is something I am mostly interested in not being; outside the lines is so much more fun.   In the case of this week's photo, in the lines was not really an option as I so completely left the directions behind I had to stitch in my own lines.

Monday, August 26, 2013

What kind of monsters are you people?

We have a new dog, I have said before.  Lola is settling in well, mostly.  We have some pooping issues.  She poops between 8 & 8:45 in the morning & 5:30-7 in the evening & so I take her out in that window.  I take her out & sit with her.  I take her out & sit with her & pretend I am not looking at her because eye contact makes her potty-shy.  We go back in when she asks to go back in.  & sometimes, just a few minutes later, she poops by the back door on the rug.  It's a process.

Anyhow, this isn't really a post about pooping, this is a post about clipping dogs nails.  Since we live on a dirt road, & we don't even have a clearly graveled driveway, it should come as no surprise that our dogs claws grow at a remarkable rate.  Most dogs wear-down their nails in the ordinary course of walking on pavement; ours do not.  & because we have had so many adult-acquired rescues, they often have foot issues.  As in they don't like their feet touched.  There really is not another option here, sooner or later even the worst of the biters & flailers get used to it; one of them even got to like it (I think the pile of treats I bribed him with was a factor).

Not so Lilly.  In her defense, Lilly is a former puppy-mill breeder bitch.  I can see how her babies would present as gorgeous, because she does...kinda.  But when you start handling her (& when those puppies start to grow) you realize there are some real flaws.  Most relevant in this case is her back legs are profoundly bow-legged, the front quite duck-footed & she has almost no range of motion with either pair.  Also, just for fun, she is a miniature dachshund, so the feet on those deformed legs are tucked quite close to her body.  Did I mention she is long haired?  That is an added twist.  All together it means that when clipping Lilly's nails, something she despises, you have to hold her in an unnatural, uncomfortable position.  Then you feel your way blind down a struggling leg to splay out a struggling paw.  The middle finger of my left hand tucked in between the pads does this nicely, but I have to be very careful not to tug on her leg & to be aware before she pulls back & hurts herself.  To give yourself some idea of the scale of this process, I am short with rather small hands even for my height; look at your hands & the feet of the next dog you see & imagine pushing all of those toes out with just the tip of one finger.  Everything has to be done by touch only, on a struggling screaming little dog who will hurt herself badly if she manages to wriggle loose.

I have never once cut myself & I have only once made Lilly bleed (the clip guard got pushed away without my realizing it & I cut the nail too short). The real problem, believe it or not, is that in the ensuing struggle Lilly's nails get tangle up with themselves & then get stuck in that crossed over position.  No, they are not so very long, but her feet are that malformed.  This crossedness is (apparently) very uncomfortable & hard to determine in the fur & general hubbub

Earlier this month we trimmed Lilly's nails for what was the first time since Lola's arrival.  I got out the instrument of torture.  A folded Lilly in the prescribed manner, presenting each foot loosely -as though on a stalk- while I carefully pushed my finger behind each claw & clipped it.  When A rotated her body as I worked around to each foot, she flung herself around thrashing against him, against me, against the pillow she was propped up on.

She also screamed like a banshee the whole time. 

When it was over, Lilly got a greenie (actually I think she got her teeth brushed, something she LOVES & then she got a greenie).  We went looking for Lola to give her a greenie, too.  In the end, we found her huddled in the corner, shaking all over.  It was hours before she would let either one of us anywhere near her.

Friday, August 23, 2013

52 Photos Project: Light & Dark

I have spent a little too much time lately loafing.  Mostly it is because of dogs: worry about dogs, round-the-clock care of dogs, disrupted sleep because of dogs.  Don't worry, though, this is not another post about dogs.

When I am loafing, looking up at the ceiling, this is what I see .  I see it A LOT.  The reflection off the pool, through the French doors, of the rain during a sun shower.  When I see it, it is in motion & accompanied by a soothing rhythm that no white noise machine can duplicate. 

The show is presence & absence, sound & silence, light & dark

Sunday, August 18, 2013

About big brothers

Let me begin by saying I have never watched an episode of "Big Brother".  I have never watched any of the not-suitable-for-prime-time videos that are available on-line either.  I could not tell you the name of a single "Big Brother" contestant on any incarnation of "Big Brother", past or present.  I am fairly confident that even if there should be a new season of "Big Brother" from now until the year after I die, this will always ring true (although I suppose it is possible one of them runs for office somewhere, then I will probably hear about it).

That being said: What The Hell Are Those People Smoking?  The last time I heard, not one, not two, but three contestants (on a how many contestant show-unless it is more than 30 we are looking at a 10% sample here) are looking forward to no job when they get out.  Actually, they are not looking forward to it as I understand they have zero contact with the outside world & don't know they have already been canned.

It turns out that if you isolate a bunch of people with other similar-minded people, you end up with a bunch of people who have, like water seeking its own level, sunk to the lowest common point.  I wonder if we could take a giant step back & maybe apply this to other groups of like-minded people who deliberately cut themselves off from everyone who is not-like & then start misbehaving.  Perhaps a group of people, who when caught behaving badly say things like: 

I made offhand remarks about killing that religious leader & cannot believe my entourage took me seriously.

So sorry we burned your mother, grand-mother, etc. as a witch.  We really thought she must be one because those teenage girls said so.

Of course we want jews to buy our cars, I just meant we want people who hate jews to buy them, too.

Couldn't we go back to the way it was before we picked that fight with you & got our asses handed to us on a plate?

& the immortal, unforgivable: Bring It On.

Maybe when you find too many people agreeing with you, it is time to take your opinions on the road.  Just a thought.

& for my final say on the matter, let me take you to the ONLY Big Brother worth looking for on YouTube

Saturday, August 17, 2013

52 Photos Project: Unusual & Uncommon, something you don't see every day

The "Unusual & Uncommon, something you don't see every day" title this week was outside of my usual photographic subject; most of my pictures (& my blog posts & my reasons for living) are usual & common.  I think the usual & common are fantastic & worth my time.  I find people on a constant search for something new a little bit....well.  Let's just say I don't understand that life.

As a result anything unusual or uncommon I come across is likely to be a complete accident.  OR whatever it is becomes usual & common PDQ.  I don't really understand the fascination with freakishness.  I truly believe that if you stuck me (or you) at a party with almost anyone (yes, including Hitler, Jesus et al), we would all have more in common than we had less in common. 

For example, I am going to guess Jesus had a lot of callouses on his feet; I too have very calloused feet (seriously, they are like horns).  Anyone who has feet like this can tell you that having feet like this makes some choices for you.  Like whether or not you can wear stiff shoes.  I become Agador Spartacus when I wear that kind of shoes.  They do indeed make me fall down.  I bet Jesus would, too.

Now Hitler:  Okay, chances are excellent Hitler would not have talked to me, but that is his choice not mine.  If he weren't such a snob, we could talk about beekeeping as I understand his father was interested in beekeeping & so am I.  We could also talk about fathers who are jerks, as mine is quite the a--hole but of strictly amateur standing, unlike his who clearly was competing on an international level.  So he could win that conversation (Hitler strikes me as the kind of guy who likes to win conversations) which I am sure would make him happy.

See how that works?  It left me puzzling for a long time about something unusual & uncommon that I could photograph.  Then when I saw it, it was obvious.  Pretty much everyone who has ever seen it remarks on it: neighbors, the people selling god door-to-door, the guys who do our tree work, etc.  We don't think much of it because she does it all day every day' year in & year out, but it is something they don't see every day.  So here it is - our black cat Bianca, sleeping in the chimney:

Sunday, August 11, 2013

A dog's life

George Carlin once said that getting a puppy is investing in tragedy.  Or something like that.  Anyway, it is happening again.  Our Chewba, the lovely not-German Shepherd who was found as a stray & turned out to be the gentlest, most mild mannered dog ever invented seems to be up next.

Chewba went in for a routine visit (get her heartworm scrip renewed, really).  The vet noticed a squishy, bad bit on her upper left jaw (#208 for you canine dental enthusiasts) & we all agreed that baby needed to come out.  We did the blood work, made the appointment & waited for the day.  In that same visit, we talked about her lack of desire to run with me, particularly when it is hot, & we all agreed let her sleep the summer way & start up when the morning temps gets below 70F.  I wasn't all that concerned, she is a 6year old not-German Shepherd, after all; I wouldn't run if I was as skinny as her even if I wasn't wearing a heavy fur coat all of the time (who breeds heavy coated dogs in Florida?!?!?!?!).  The vet also felt around Chewba's hind quarters & thought they were a bit wasted & in the process of shifting her around heard crackling in her elbows & said "well, since she will be out anyhow, why not get some pictures?"

So the big day (& the big bill rolled around) & we brought home a not-so-happy girl with a giant hole in her gums, her different pain-&-antibiotic meds for a total of ten pills a day & a new & exciting biopsy result to wait for from the lesion at the back of her mouth that no one knew was there until they opened her mouth wide.

What we did not have to wait for was the word on her hips.  & elbows.  I got the bad news on Wed & A went in with me yesterday (also a check-up on Chewba's mouth wound) & got to see for himself. 

In short:  there is no option for the elbows. We could talk with an orthopedist -she recommends it, actually- but likely hip replacement surgery is the only option.  The pictures are of a dog with grade 4 arthritis, despite the fact she is still moving around (grade 4 dogs are often immobilized with pain).  Her pain management is likely due to her otherwise good health & strong muscles.   While this is great, it is not a long term solution.  The less she moves, the more muscle she loses; the more she moves, the more likely she will injure herself.

I have had better weekends.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

52 Photos Project: Childhood Games

When I saw 52 Photos Project theme for this week, Childhood Games, I pictured (as I am sure so many former children of a particular age did) the iconic game closet.  But the fact is I don't have a game closet anymore.  I don't know anyone who does.  We have a game drawer now with Trivial Pursuit, Barrel of Monkeys, Pit, Rummikub, Sequence & that's about it.

So I decided to flip back thru some old pictures to see if I could find a cache of board games.  What I found was this:  I am not the photographer, I am the subject.

& this really was my favorite child hood game- being holed up somewhere, reading.  I have no idea which Nancy Drew this was (I read them ALL...well all that were available at the time), but I like to imagine it is The Secret of the Old Clock.  Because this was the first book our bookclub read together.
Before you decide this is completely goofy, think about it.  When american women are interviewed (meaning they have done something someone considerers interview-worthy), they often name Nancy Drew as their first literary role model (take THAT Elizabeth Bennet...but don't take it too hard, we love you next).  I can remember thinking who needs Batman, Spiderman, Superman & all their crap; Nancy has way more happening than any drug-dependent superhero.  Wardrobe to die for:  check, cool car: check, amazing powers of sleuthing & keeping the weight off from having dessert with lunch:  double check.  Also, she doesn't try to hide who she is, she isn't all melancholy hanging out in her mansion, she spends time with her friends, loves her family & treats her boyfriend like a favored dogsbody
& let's have that be the word for today:  dogsbody.  Because everyone needs one. I know I do.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Knot Garden nudge

The August Knot Garden swap is in full swing.  Blocks have started arriving here arrived while I was away last month, even).  We have a 6th block person whose group makes quilts for disaster relief & these will go on the hopper.

So I thought I would do a nudge for the Knot Garden block with more complete directions (I'm getting questions).

You will need three fabrics: 

One of them needs to be green.  It does not have to read-as-solid, it does not even have to be just green, but when you look at it, you should be able to honestly say it is more green than anything else.  For each Knot Garden block, you will need two (2) 3.5" squares of this green fabric.

Your two other fabrics should be garden-y.  Florals are good, leaves, trees, etc.  Birds are good too or other things you might find in a garden.  One of these should be a large scale print & one a small scale print, keeping in mind these things are relative (there is at least one block in the pile with a VERY large scale print, so the companion smaller scale print might be a larger scale than other large scale prints in other blocks).  If you are unable to locate a large & small scale floral/nature/garden print in your stash, it is OKay to use a small dot or such-like or a read-as-solid for your small scale.  Please do make an effort to avoid prints that are not "garden" or "floral" or at least "nature" in their theme.  A small all-over print of taxicabs, while very cute would not be appropriate.  You will need two (2) strips of each of these measuring 2" wide & a minimum of  8" long to make a single block. 

Of one of your garden fabrics, either the large scale or the small scale print you will need two (2) more 2" squares.

Stitch the strips together on a long edge, press to one side or the other or open as you wish & then cut that unit into 2" strips.  You can use these strips to make the 3.5" 4-patches that comprise half of the block.

Back to the 3.5" green-greenish squares.  You will take your extra 2" squares, one (1) for each green square & put them right sides together, so the smaller square covers a corner of the large square.  Stitch from one corner of the smaller square to the other so that when folded on the stitching line the square becomes a small triangle covering the corner.  I promise writing & then reading it makes it more complicated than it is.  You can see a picture of this in the original Knot Garden post, or the whole shebang below.

As always we swap in sets of five (5), what is here on the last SAT of August swaps.  If you are interested or need more information you can add a comment here or join the Quilt Block Swap group on Facebook.  

Saturday, August 3, 2013

What would Flannery do?

Today is the 49th anniversary of the death of Mary Flannery O'Connor.  She was 39 years old when she died.

Last year we took a weekend trip to Savannah, GA.  Yes, plenty of people from here take day trips there but we wanted to relax & see something of the city.  One of the things we saw was the Flannery O'Connor House.  It was interesting in the same way all the homes of historical personages in general & writers in particular are.  To me, very interesting.  To you, maybe not so much, maybe plenty.

Edward O'Connor, her father, was diagnosed & eventually died from lupus, as did Flannery herself many year later.  In between she wrote some of the creepier southern gothic fiction.  You can get your feet wet with "Everything That Rises Must Converge" a piece that gets timelier ever year (& if you think it doesn't spend a weekend in a rural southern town), the title story of  short story collection.  Then dive in head first with "A Good Man is Hard to Find", again the title story of a collection.

Flannery O'Conor has two other celebrity connections.  The second:  her work was the subject of Tommy Lee Jones' senior thesis when he was at Harvard, but more interesting (to me anyhow), she was a YouTube star before YouTube with "Do You Reverse?"  (it takes a bit to load, I have no idea why).  She spent her final years raising poultry, including exotic peafowl, ostriches & emus.  I have been thinking I would like some peahens for a while now, maybe this year.