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.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

52 Photos Project: Someone You Love

I am sure when 52 Photos Project chose Someone You Love for this week, the expectation was mostly people.  Maybe a few dogs.  This is Becca.  She was not my first horse; we still have three others.  She died today.  It was not unexpected; I planned it. 

Becca is....was a cribber.  But she had come up with an alternate method long before I ever got her.  She would rub her throat against the top board of the fence, repeatedly.  For hours & hours every day.  We tried everything to discourage her, but not much helped.  We could limit it, with collars & distractions, but we could not make her stop completely. 

Earlier this year, she gave herself a hematoma.  & while it was not an infection in itself, she continued to rub that swelling against the fence until she created a groove in it.  Recently that raw, torn flesh has become infected.  I have done my best with the small wounds, pulling splinters out & keeping the area clean, but last week I saw that the groove had become so deep it was forming a pocket & that is the end.  There is nothing I can do to make her stop, there is nothing I can do to treat the wound that she doesn't undo.  She is an old horse, & she has been peacefully retired for years.  This afternoon, we put her to sleep.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Stripping Christmas

There are few things I enjoy more than a quilt-y themed swap in which I am not driving the bus.  One of those things that I DO enjoy more is foundation free string quilts.  I have extolled on the virtues of string quilts here before.  In short, I love them.

It took a couple days to find the time.  Yes, I had PLENTY of Christmas fabric.  I sliced my strips & was stuffing envelopes then it was pointed out to me that one of my Christmas strips was actually a Chanukah strip.  So I ended up sending out a baker's 1/2 dozen. 

& I got all but one reciprocal set, seven of them before the deadline even.  I cannot help it, this irks me.  I know, I know life gets in the way.  but 20% of the participants are late & another 10% are never going to show.  I enjoy it when I don't have to be in charge of a swap & I enjoy it when the way our group's swaps are handled are reaffirmed.  I am snarky that way.  Oh & 10% of the strips that got here on time were the wrong width.  Which means that there was a problem with 40% of the swap sets.  Yea, I have no plans to do this again.  For a while, anyhow.

So now I have these strips & I am thinking it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas.  & this year I am really in the mood for it, despite all the bitching about swaps gone wrong.  & now I get to decide on a pattern.  Any thoughts?

Friday, October 18, 2013

52 Photos Project: First Thing I See In The Morning

I can sleep as late as I want on most days.  My husband is a naturally early riser (he is also a naturally go to bed late person & a bit of an insomniac, but that has gotten better in the past few years).  This means that by the time I get up, even if that time is 6:30am which it rarely is, the coffee is made, the dogs have been let out & fed....& that's it because that's all there is to do, indoors anyhow & outdoors is mine. 

As late as I want is mostly as late as I can & there are so many variables in that.  At least two of the dogs & sometimes three do their morning business & then get back in with me, which is fine but one of them (Lilly) feels the need to summon....& by summon I mean bark, loud & high pitched the others when I start to move.  Or she thinks I start to move.  Or she gets bored.  She is getting old though & her eyes are clouded over & her hearing is not so sharp.  I have been sleeping right through to 8:30 for months now.

Except that once or twice a week when A forgets to turn off the alarm, or hits "snooze" instead of "off" or his phone rings (& yes this happens way too often, even at 4am).  Then I have to move & Lilly starts barking & I may as well just get up. 

The past week or so has been different.  Katje Kat (a cat) is missing.  She has gone on excursions before for a day or three but this one is longer.  Like all of our cats, she was a dump job that we took in, vetted, fed & she has lived more or less in harmony with the matriarch (all animus has been on Katje's side, Bianca does not care really).  She has free range of the barns, the yard, the pasture (they all do), gets two square meals a day, plus treats for heartworm & treats for her teeth & just plain old treats.  But she loathes the kittens; she has since day one.  It is a damn shame really because the one remaining little girl (who is now a full-grown girl) wants to be her friend,  I mean really really wants to be her friend.

So Katje Kat has been AWOL for more than twice as long as she ever has been before & I have been putting out second supper, after everyone else has eaten in the hopes that she will come back.  As a result, I have been woken up very early every morning by dogs barking out the sidelights around the front door.  For a week or so, this has been the first thing I see in the morning:

Thursday, October 17, 2013

What Burgoyne begat

I know you have all been sitting on the edge of your seats wondering what was going to replace the Bird Trap quilt block swap in 2014.  Because that swap as so popular.  Actually, it was popular for looking but not for doing.  What I mean is I think the images interested people but they were a bit overwhelmed (or underwhelmed) by the guidelines versus instructions.  There were too many variables & how to make them all work together in the end.  Now I have the opportunity to resolve all of that....but I am not going to.  This is white water quilt rafting, people!  You can go anywhere & paddle in the shallows but this swap is going off-road.  Again. 

I have been eyeing the Burgoyne Surrounded block for a long time.  It's an oldie, but a goodie, has a certain amount of variation & is more about the planning than the execution (it's all straight lines, no 1/2-square triangles).  At least that's how it begins. 

You will need:

FIVE nine patches.  One of them should be different from the others in either size or fabric choices or something & the other four should be more or less the same. You can make ANY nine patch you desire, so long as it has a clear light &/or dark making an X or some kind of contrast pattern.  Ordinarily, it is the darker that makes the X & for your first foray you might want to stick with that, but you certainly don't have to.  As for the nine-patches themselves: you can do a conventional black & white nine patch for the one & smaller shoo-fly for the other four.  I don't care, it is up to you.

As for color, fabric, etc.  it is mostly dealers choice.  All we care about here is light versus dark.  Or light versus medium.  Or medium versus dark.  Your nine-patch fabrics should have two clear values...& if you feel like muddying it up a bit further into the block, be my guest.  Just so long as there is a at least the suggestion of a Burgoyne-type movement from the corners to the center...or off-center, however that works out.

In my first sample, I made the single nine-patch & the set of four from 1.5" strips but different fabrics, but you could differentiate them in other ways (I was also trying to make the smallest possible units for the sake of having a jumping off point).

NEXT I added what I call half a log cabin border to adjacent asides of the four same-y nine-patches.  You might find it easier to flesh out the block & then add outer borders like a normal person (that is what I did for my second block).  This half border could consist of two planks & a corner stone, maintaining the light or dark or medium X in the usual Burgoyne style, but feel free to mix this up.

These four now-asymmetrical nine-patches are the corners of your completed block.  The other nine patch is the conceptual center....but depending on what you do next may not be the actual center.  Bear with me, I promise it will get clearer.

Putting the stand alone nine-patch centerish & the others at the outer corners, you need to fill in the space between.  Your dark (or light, or medium) X should hook-up from the center blocks to at least two of the corner blocks, but it can hook up to all of them.

You can fill in with whatever you like.  You can use a single piece of fabric or you can piece something.  For my first go round, I intended to limited myself to two (2) fabrics -which did not quite work out, but at least hey are all in a theme, more or less- & decided to keep the center in the center & did minimal piecing in the filler areas & you can see what I got.  Once I had one block under my belt, I was more comfortable adding variables, changing up widths etc.  You can add the more sashing if you like you can make your center off-center, you can use any 9-path variation you like in place of any basic 9-patch.  The idea is to stretch, & stretch again.  Then stretch some more. 

For my second pass I decided to go with one wider than the others edge & flip the lights versus darks for one corner.  & yes, I had A LOT of Bird Trap scraps left over & a few of them may have found their way here.

Your complete blocks should be SQUARE.  It can be anywhere from 13" square to 25" square but it must be SQUARE.  The 13" is based on the minimum number of pieces needed to meet the requirements all being 1" finished, & only the bare minimum of pattern being represented, the 25" is for when you want to stretch a bit (& you will want to stretch, I promise).  When you get back not-equal squares, you can bring them up to snuff with outer borders reinforcing the cornerstone feature.  That should help bring the whole thing into some kind of balance, anyhow.  Also this is where you would add the sashing that is the final Burgoyne movement, with those additional cornerstones & those side bits....  Or not, it is up to you naturally.

Finally, yes, I am putting this up early.  Bird Trap doesn't wrap until the last Saturday in November; you can even sign-up for it up until Hallowe'en, but ever since the Bird Trap quilt made its public debut, I have been getting "what's next?" questions from people who are interested, maybe but don't think there is enough time to do the Bird Trap quilt block swap if they start from scratch now.  Since Bird Trap (& Burgoyne Begat) require a little bit of warm up, I think they might be right. 

Also, today in 1777, General John Burgoyne surrendered to Major General Horatio Gates.  But actually, he didn't.  Burgoyne negotiated freedom for his men if they left their weapons & then left the colonies.  Eventually everyone reneged & then it was ON.  The important thing though is that after a thrilling campaign that included the surrender of Fort Ticonderoga, Burgoyne was surrounded in Sarasota on his way to capture Albany.  It seemed timely.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

What would Pelham do?

People who know me know I love dachshunds.  & as it happens one of my heroes also loved dachshunds.  He loved them so much that after he left England to live elsewhere, for reasons I will go into, he & his wife never returned to England together.  The reason for the split trips:  they did not want to leave their dachshunds alone in the house.  I can certainly understand that, I don't much like leaving mine alone either.

Who is this Pelham you ask? Pelham Grenville of course.  Pelham Grenville better know as P. G. Wodehouse.  That's right, the Jeeves guy. 

Wodehouse began his career in that venue I always think comedians should do a stint:  banking.  Specifically banking in Hong Kong.  I won't go into the whys & wherefores (you can read a Wikipedia entry faster than I can distill it), but while everyone, including the British think of him as very British, the fact is he is just as much American.  He married an American woman, he more or less split his time between the two shores from 1914 onwards, although as I alluded, he & his wife did not live in England together but commuted from their home in France.  Because of the dogs.  For reasons I am not entirely clear on, time spent in France counts as time not spent in the US & is therefore time spent in England...? 

Back to the dogs:  one of the great controversies of Wodehouse's life was his failure to leave France when the Germans were en route.  The only reason he ever gave for not getting when the getting was good was that his wife didn't want to leave the -you guessed it- dog behind as they could not take it to England with them.  In exchange for this, Wodehouse was interned in a German prison camp & then held under house arrest until just before his 6oth birthday.  I don't know what happened to the dog.

Being a naturally happy person (I am a mostly naturally happy person so I can tell you this is absolutely TRUE), Wodehouse struggled with not being too happy when everyone around him was miserable.  I myself once got chewed out for smiling at a funeral because apparently reminiscing about a happy moment with the deceased is bad.  Actually, Wodehouse DIDN'T struggle with it, he pretty much tried to stay happy.  He made up songs & stories & so on with the intent of keeping himself & his fellow internees happy.  What he thought was making the best of a very bad deal (no one would know how bad from him; he never talked about it) was viewed by the British populace as collaborating.  There is just no pleasing some people.  On the flip side, if that was the kind of reception he was going to get across the channel, you can sort of understand the decision to remain with the dog that got him into the whole mess to begin with.

As a result, Wodehouse was popularly identified as a Nazi collaborator & blacklisted & even banned & pretty much the only public complaint Wodehouse ever made about anything ever in his life was that the MI5 report that cleared him of living off of the Nazis (they had actually seized his accounts & doled back to him a small portion for his living expenses) was not made public while he could have benefitted from it (it was declassified years after his death).  Instead England pretty much gave him the old heave-ho & he settled permanently in the US with his US wife.  & we were delighted to have him.

I won't go into the other things he did, although his famous literary feud with A. A. Milne is hilarious, not just because Milne took himself way too seriously but also because the literary heavy weights came down on Wodehouse's side.  & not just the live-&-let-live types either; George Orwell told the British public to stick a cork in it.  I do love Winnie-the-Pooh, but it just does not compare to a library of Jeeves & Psmith & the Drones & Uncle Fred & Wodehouse Playhouse &....&...  I think I need to go read some RIGHT NOW!

I don't know what to say to that except Pip Pip!  Oh & Happy Birthday Uncle Plum

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

That scandalous affair

Every year when it comes to book club book selection time, I usually toss a few mysteries on the pile.  Dime detective novels are a particular favorite with me & my absolute favorite is Nero Wolfe.  Actually, I prefer Archie Goodwin.  Alright already, I really have a thing for Saul Panzer but they are referred to as the Nero Wolfe books. 

I have probably said it here before: I am fascinated by pulp-style fiction (be it mysteries or romances or westerns or what have you) written more or less contemporarily to their setting in time, particularly when it is not my place in time.  Or to put it another way, don't you think Lt. Uhura's uniform tells us more about the present day when Star Trek was made than it does about what people thought the future would be?  Or if they did think the future was all mini skirts & long sleeves for women, who do you think was planning that future?  Yes, I can get lost in this silliness. 

I am also a fan of Agatha Christie, although I came to it later in life.  But the first sleuth (after Nancy, of course; Nancy is always first-first).  But before Agatha, for me anyhow, there was Dorothy.  Agatha Christie had the reputation for writing as a lark, at least once she became successful she didn't need to keep it up &maybe that showed.  Dorothy Sayers, however, needed the money.  & just as Agatha's detective were more or less living on their income, or at least some kind of budget, Dorothy's detective lived, well...LARGE.  Just about as large as any book-detective I have ever heard of, barring the Scarlet Pimpernel, if you were going to call him a detective, which I really think you should.

I refer, of course, to Lord Peter Wimsey: he had money, he had brains, he had style.  The only thing he did not have was looks.  His creator was ruthless; just about the nicest thing she ever said about his appearance was he looked rather silly.  He also went for long long long time without the affection of the woman he adored.  But that all came to an end 1937.  On this day Peter Wimsey married Harriet Vane.  I think what I like best about these books is that the marriage is more or less mid-point in their careers. While he has most of his mysteries before, there are a handful after.  Marriage can do that.  Before they get together, but after he falls in love, Harriet has a book more or less without him

Another thing I came to love was something I didn't really catch on to when I was 16 or so & reading them for the first time.  Before the books ever begin, Peter is a returning soldier, profoundly ill with some wounds, but mostly shellshock & even with every advantage of wealth & connection, he just barely pulls himself together.  He has flashbacks & setbacks that fade but never really go away. 

& unlike Nancy & Miss Marple & so forth (not Nero et al, they do this too), Peter & Harriet move forward through time, at the same speed as the rest of us.  So happy anniversary Lord & Lady Peter. 

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Damn Yankees

Some days just seem to be lightening rods for particular subjects.  Like some days have all kinds of scientific landmarks, vaccines first tested & men landing on the moon, or other days that see the invention of obscure musical instruments & operatic debuts & so on.  Today is all about knuckling under.

Just to start the ball rolling, because of a calendar change (to the Gregorian) in 1592 there was no October 5th in several countries in Europe.  But not all.  Because that would make too much sense.

A few years before, okay quite a few years before, more than a century actually: Visigoths invaded Iberia.  & hung on for a good long time. longer when you consider the average life expectancy was a fraction of what it is today.  50 years is a lot longer when that is two generations ago.  They also managed to rape & kill & pillage plenty & pushed the Vandals out of Europe & into Africa.  That's right, the Goths pushed the Vandals out of Europe.

Lets move it forward a bit.  In 1450 the Jews were driven from Baviaria.  In 1793 the Catholics were driven from France.  It wasn't permanent but it was plenty grisly.

In 1877 Chief Joseph surrendered, after one helluva campaign.  If the US Cavalry had not had several times the munitions & warm bodies we would all be speaking...French?  No, I think they were named by the French.  I don't know what the Nez Percé speak & I am just a little bit embarrassed about that.  The rest of his life was a series of skirmishes & defeat as our proud nation ground him into dust.  The better man does not always win.

There are IRA bombings in 1974 & Golden Triangle Massacres in 2011.  In 1982 Tylenol recalled much of their product because bottles had been tampered with & seven people died.  Those murders have never been solved.

Oh, & in 1953 the Yankees won the world series.  For the fifth time in a row.  Damn Yankees

So that is what October 5th teaches us.  Some days you just go home in defeat.  But take heart, tomorrow in 1723 a 17 year old Benjamin Franklin arrives in Philadelphia. 

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Tools & gadgets: indispensable or complete bust

Block Lotto's weekend update has converted to a month long linky thing.  I cannot speak for everyone (who can?), but this works way better for me.  This month's theme is Tools & Gadgets:  indispensable or complete bust.  Okay, I add that last bit, but it was sort of implied. 

& there is one tool without which I could not quilt the way I do, I could not build block swaps, & frankly I would not be able to put myself to sleep at night rearranging imaginary quilts--which is how I do it now.  I am talking about Barbara Brackman's Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns.  That's right, my most important quilting tool is a book.  This should come as no surprise to people who know me because I ALWAYS think the most important tool in any endeavor is a book.  That might be why I use words like endeavor.  Or maybe I use words like endeavor know what, that's not my point.

I bought my copy back when it was still in print.  I also talked our library into buying a copy around the same time (it wasn't hard-they actually bought three).  Now you would pay a good bit more, so here's hoping there is a new edition on the horizon.  In the event that you want it, but you cannot pay $100+ let me recommend PaperbackSwap. It may take a while, it may take a long while, but sooner or later everything seems to wash up on those shores.

The Encyclopedia, if you are not familiar with it, is set up thusly:  there is a sort of outline of general types 4-patch, 9-patch, etc.  then within each there is further detail 9-patches made of equal parts versus unequal parts, that kind of thing.  The blocks are recorded by name & number.  Blocks with close number are likely to have a similar construction.  You can look up a number or use the index to look up by common name, but like plants the common names of quilt blocks can be sketchy.

My copy is in pretty good shape, but I have added post-it-type flags to the top marking ranges of numbers & I used to have random slips of paper marking particular blocks, but they fell out all the time so now I use ribbons (usually the ribbons that tie up fat quarter bundles). 

That is it, the only quilting tool I ever took to bed....or into the bathtub.  Yes, there is a wonderful software program (BlockBase) with much the same info & other features a paper book just doesn't have.  & I have that program, but there is nothing like a book. 

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

52 Photos Project: Color Of The Season - Gold

Over at 52 Photos Project this week's prompt is Color of the Season: Gold.  I don't doubt that gold IS the color of the season in many, many, many places but here in the American tropics while we have had gold for much of the year, it is gone more or less the entire fall season.

Earlier this year we had the young goldfinches who were hardly gold, but they will be when they get back here....right around mid-December.  & for a good chunk of the summer the Reve d'Or (golden chains) roses were blooming their fool heads off, even during the peak heat.  But the cooler weather has cut them back.

In short, it was a challenge to find something both gold & seasonal.  Yes, I could have taken a picture of a gold quilt or a gold cat or even a lovely gold spider....  But those things are gold year round. 

& then I found it.  Under the massive elephant ear leaves, the seasonal flowering of the caladium: