Wednesday, November 27, 2013

52 Photos Project: Dessert

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Tis the season to fall behind

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

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

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

Friday, November 22, 2013

Bye Bye.....Blackbeard

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, November 21, 2013

52 Photos Project: My Work

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The cat came back!

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

52 Photos Project: On My Way

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

Thursday, November 7, 2013

An update

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

52 Photos Project: Round

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

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

So that's it:  ROUND. 

Monday, November 4, 2013

Festivus redux

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

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

Begin with TWO fabrics:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, November 1, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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