Sunday, December 29, 2013

Sameness circa Geoffrey Chaucer, 14th century give or take

It has been a while, but I am back on the Chaucer bus.  I am supposed to have the Knights Tale re-re-read by New Year's eve, but it is not looking promising.  Sorry A*****, this business of colicing horse on Christmas Eve is still eating into my time.  Then there is all the usual year-end craziness, even though we barely celebrate Christmas (but I did get my mah jong set woo-hoo) craziness, personal year end stuff, also the students wrapping up & trying to get out of town & some of them graduating & not coming back so they can be little bit wired.  Lastly, there are actual students coming back after getting advanced degrees elsewhere (we have been here a long time) & one HILARIOUS story about two former students meeting in Prof. R******'s lab & now they are married with kids.  The time really does fly.

So, the Knight's Tale.  I am remembering...via my notes how hilarious I found this the last time I read it.  Yes, it was a while ago, but wholly unrelated to deciding to sit down & do this again, but all the way to the end this time, I have been thinking on certain elements of the Knight's Tale lately.  Specifically, the way the knight had to make the fair maiden, well, fair, despite all evidence to the contrary what with her being the sister of the Queen of the Amazons.  Yes, yes I know Wonder Woman was an Amazonian princess as well, but as far as mythical figures taking on the audiences characteristics go, Wonder woman just keeps proving my point.

That was a lot of commas!  Let me see if I can think it out in smaller pieces.  The knight is describing a desirable woman.  He describes her as looking an awful lot like...the mother of his fair haired son probably looked.  The knight does this even though he is telling a story about a warring Athenian prince & some other prince from Thebes.  I guess this is BECAUSE if they don't look like him, he just cannot relate, although there is plenty of evidence he doesn't look anything like I would imagine an ancient Greek might look.  What news story could possibly have triggered this thinking in me?  Hmmmm.

Just to be clear, I don't care what anyone who might have existed might have looked like, but I do find this business of insisting they must have looked a certain way intriguing.  & there is always what they zero in on.  No one is going to the wall insisting a particular figure was probably quite short, except for Napoleon, which turns out is very likely a myth anyhow.

But whatever, that is not really what I wanted to talk about today, exactly.  Today is the martyr day of Thomas à Becket.  You can get all the info you want on himself elsewhere, I will just give you the highlights:  he was made Archbishop of Canterbury by a king who thought he would be the king's man in Canterbury.  Turns out Thomas à Becket was his own man & started telling the king what he could do with his influence.  This is not the first time a political appointee went his own way (US History buffs can start extolling on Chester Arthur or Warren Burger anytime now), but it was plenty big because best case scenario, the king accidentally had him killed.  I know, right?  Which is why we have the pilgrimage to Canterbury & the Canterbury Tales. 

I guess I am done, except did anyone else see that bit on Bill O'Reilly basting the pope? Because the pope is not God's man on earth if he disagrees with you, then he's just a crackpot.  I like how O'Reilly had mixed feelings on the former Nazi, but is completely certain the new guy is just wrong.  & I really like how he is pretty sure Jesus would not endorse a system that helped the poor at the expense of the rich.  Because it just might be human nature the think our heroes look just like us.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

The color & the shape for April 2014

We have not had a kid-specific block for almost a year (no, not even the Small World ladies were strictly for kids).  Yes, yes the Rainbow Connection swappers mostly seemed to be making kids quilts & maybe even last June's Regatta blocks or this month's Festivus blocks are going mostly to kids but in neither of those swaps were juvenile prints specifically asked for.   

For our April 2014 we will be making a raw-edge applique "stack", the first applique-only swap we have ever had.  & in another first, if you want to use flannel for one or more of your shapes, please do.  If you want to use an old sheet as your starting point (the 10.5" base) or even for any of your stacks, feel free.  Yes, whatever you use should still be cotton, but a mix of kinds of cotton is welcome, as long as none of them are stretchy or too dense (i.e. canvas). 

To begin, you will need a white or colored SOLID 10.5" square.  A 100% cotton bleached muslin is perfectly acceptable.  You can also use an old sheet so long as it is SOLID; by solid I mean a single color throughout (I feel a little ridiculous defining solid, but believe it or not here was once a problem).  If you have never done machine applique before you might want to avoid the old sheet the first time; sheets are often more slippery than muslin & can get away from you.

This first 10.5" square is the base of your stack; you will need at least two more fabrics & they can be any non-stretch cotton.  Old flannel shirt, fine; big, bold primary print, fine.  Because this is a kids specific block, primary colors, bright colors, juvenile or graphic patterns are all welcome.  .  There should also be a clear distinction from one layer to the next (please do not stack a pale print with a white background on top of a pale print with a white background). 

The first level of your stack can be a circle, square, rectangle or hexagon.  You can use triangles for other levels but if you begin with a triangle you will run out of room to work very quickly.  For the example I began with a 6.5" square & set it on point.  The first fabric in both of these examples is 100% cotton flannel. 

In both of my examples, the first square is not all-white, but it could have been,  The raw edges will fluff up after the washing & there will be a clear delineation from one shape/layer to the next.  As an experiment I made a stack of three different white fabrics & while it does not photograph well, in person the edges are distinct. 

I pinned the zig-zag patterned flannel square using at least one pin on each edge along an imaginary line 1/4" from the edge.  I stitched inside that line.  The stitches are almost 1/2" from the edge.  Your stitches should be a minimum of  3/8" (note:  NOT 1/4" as is usual but at least 3/8") from the edge. 

I decided to play with the decorative stitches on my machine & you can, too.  If you do elect to use the zig-zag stitch as your decorative stitch PLEASE run a line a of straight stitching on the inside of your decorative stitch (or over it, as I did in this example).  Just a plan zig-zag stitch is a little bit unstable & things tend to stretch & shift.  You can also use a contrasting thread if you wish, but plain old neutral thread, straight stitch is just fine, too. 

After you have stitched your first layer, flip the block over.  From the back, you need to make a tiny snip through JUST the bottom fabric (that is, the 10.5" base block) underneath the shape you just added.  Using that snip, cut an X across the back, stopping 3/8" or slightly more from the stitching line.  Remove each of the flaps always being careful NOT to cut the top fabric (the picture shows the X & two of the flaps gone), to remove bulk.  Another fabric is going to get sacked on top of this one but no one wants to quilt through more than 2 layers of fabric.  That being said, the wider-than-usual seam allowance on both sides of the stitched line is needed to keep the whole block stable.

Flip the block back, right side up & add another layer.  I added a 3" or 3.5" square, centering it on the first layer.  Again I pinned it on all four sides, stitched a bit more than 3/8" from the outer edge.

In this case all the stitching lines of the second layer (the solid-ish green layer) are inside the previous stitching lines, but yours does not have to be that way.  The top layer can "hang-off" the edge of the first layer, it can be a different shape, it can be a different color (although I would suggest working light to dark; a dark fabric, particularly one that is patterned, will show through a lighter top layer).

That is it, the whole block done.  I have since gone on & added another shape to the block on the right, but I wanted you to see how very different the same size block can look, depending on how it lines up with the 10.5" base.

This block needs a minimum of three different pieces of fabric, but they can all be from the same original fabric.  The base (10.5" x 10.5"), the first layer (in both my examples, I used a 6.5" square), & the top layer which can be the same shape or a different shape, it can be the same size or smaller.  You can go ahead & add another layer, but you don't have to.  I would also suggest you get a few of these under your belt before you try it.  Please limit yourself to non-stretch 100% cotton fabric (as always), but it is OKay to use quilting cotton, flannel, even old sheets.  Any 100% cotton that you can quilt though is welcome, even encouraged.  That being said, please do NOT use t-shirt material or canvas even if they are 100% cotton & if there is any question that a scrap might not be all cotton, please don't use it.  Only 100% cotton will fray the right way; polyester is too durable.

As always we swap in sets of FIVE, send five blocks get five back.  This is a big block; nine blocks could make a baby blanket.  This block would also work nicely for a fabric baby book.

We also have the option of including a 6th block.  6th blocks go to the member of our group who asks for them first & commits to making a quilt for a person or persons in their community.  Please don't ask for the blocks to make a quilt for your own use or a fund raiser, etc. (although you are of course free to do whatever you want with your own swapped blocks); the idea of the 6th block was for someone who would not otherwise get a quilt get the quilt.

Friendship Stars in February 2014

I thought it made sense to start off the year with a simple happy block:  the Friendship Star.  You can find a gazillion ways to make these & if you prefer your way to my way, have at it (the method my lovely co-host suggested can be found here).  All I ask is that your components work out to the same size (each of the nine squares that make up the star should be 3.5" unfinished, resulting in a completed block that is 9.5" unfinished/9" finished) & that the stars all have the same orientation, specifically the long edge of the star point should be on the left, & these points should work their way around the center uniformly.  Yes, that probably took longer to write than to just look at.

You will need THREE fabrics:

One of these fabric should be a DARK.  It can be solid or patterned, a single or multi-color.  It must contain a red or blue or black, or all three or just one of these here & other colors besides so long as it is primarily red &/or blue & or black.  There must be NO WHITE in your dark fabric (in most but not all cases, white moves a dark to a medium so this is probably moot but I wanted to be clear). 

One of the fabrics should be MEDIUM.  It also can be solid or patterned, a single or multi-color.  It must also contain red &/or blue &/or gray.  Many medium fabrics have black, so that may not be voidable, but black should not be the primary color.  There may even be some white, but this fabric should be primarily a color or colors. 

One of the fabrics should be LIGHT, specifically white or cream or gold or some combination of these three.  It should NOT contain any other colors than white &/or cream &/or gold, no matter how light they might be. 

The center square (which is just a single 3.5" square) can be either the medium or the dark fabric. 

The star points should be the other (if the center is dark, the star points should be medium; if the center is medium, the star points should be dark) You will need two 4" squares of this fabric OR if you want to try making eight half square triangles all at once (instructions below) you will need one 8.5" square. 

Let me repeat that:  one of these fabrics should be a medium & one of these should be a dark.  These to components should NOT be made from the same fabric (I know that seems obvious, given that one is a dark & one is a medium but some fabrics have enough variation that some parts could be called medium & some parts called dark). 

The background should be light, primarily white, cream or gold.  A bit of pattern in a white &/or cream &/or gold  is fine, so long as there are no colors except white, cream &/or gold.  You will need two 4" squares (or one 8.5" square) & four 3.5" squares of the background fabric.

& that's it for fabric. 

You can make the star points in pairs (two 1/2-square triangles at a time)  That method is outlined many places on the internet including on this blog here & here & here.  That method works just fine; it uses up smaller scraps which is never a bad thing BUT earlier this year I learned another method for making 1/2-square triangles in bulk- you will end up with eight which is enough for two of these stars, so three of these larger sets would be enough for six stars (five to swap & one for you). 

  • Begin with two 8.5" squares (as you get more comfortable with this method, you can knock it down to 8" squares, but that is unforgiving & if you are not very precise, you will end up with too-small 1/2-square triangles).  Just as in the other method, make a line from one corner to its opposite & then make a similar line from another corner to its opposite:  you will have an X across the square.

  • Stitch just as you would for the 1/2-square triangle above (1/4" on either side of each line), for a total of four lines of stitches.

  • Cut along each line.  Then cut from the tip op the triangle to the center of the base for each of the isosceles triangles you have made.  I realize this is the wordy way to go so you can find more pictures & detailed instructions here (& many other places besides, just search on "make eight half square triangles at once" in whichever search engine works best for you).
As I said above, you can make the 1/2-square triangles any way you want to so long as each one measures 3.5" when you begin assembling the block. 

Once you have your four solid background squares, you single solid center square (all 3.5") & your four 1/2-square triangles (cut down to 3.5"), lay them out thusly.  Please please please please be sure your star is spinning just like this one.  A star spinning the other way would be disruptive (& if you like that you can always make a backwards spinning star & keep it for yourself).  To make it wordy:  the correct layout will show the top 1/2-square triangle with star fabric on the lower left half of the square, background fabric on the upper right.

As always we swap in sets of FIVE, send five blocks get five back.  You have the option of including a 6th block.  6th blocks go to the member of our group who asks for them first & commits to making a quilt (or tote bags or what have you) for a person or persons in their community.  Please don't ask for the blocks to make a quilt for your grandson or a school raffle, etc. (although you are of course free to do whatever you want with your own swapped blocks); the idea of the 6th block was for someone who would not otherwise get a quilt get a quilt.

Monday, December 23, 2013

I've done it both ways

It is that time of year when people make all kinds of resolutions but I am pretty much not a resolution person.  I do things when I do them (I hand over what could be holiday/birthday gifts when I have them & I see you, if I remember making holiday gifts tricky to locate).

As for the usual resolutions:

I am already on a diet.  I can live with it, but I am not losing weight hand over fist.  It turns out I am built for famine.  Seriously.  I have often wondered what my evolutionary advantage might be:  I have life threatening allergies to things that are commonplace, my eyesight is poor, I am clumsy, & while I am not the whitest, most easily sunburned person I know I am the whitest skin person many people know (just last week V** said to me "This chick was WHITE, whiter than you even".)  The answer is I can cruise through my day on 500 calories with very little change in...well, anything.  So I don't have the resources & skills to fight for food, but I can live on a lot less.  There is more than one way to life. 

I am already exercising.  Okay, I was & I will again.  I stopped good reason, I don't want to talk about it.

I don't smoke.

I already enjoy life.

There are typical lists of resolutions everywhere & mostly I already do them, I will never want to or they just don't apply (more time with my kids, for example). 

This year I am making a list of things to do this year, because this time next year we are hoping for a baby cow so by Jan 2015 my resolution will be hauling my ass out twice a day to milk the mama cow.  & if the next time is anything like the last time, that will last 18months or so. 

So this year's resolution:  get whatever it is out of your system in 2014 because 2015  is going to be BUSY.

To that end, I have joined the 2014 Cotton Robin

I have also already purchased my tea towel for the Tea Towel Challenge.  I could show you a picture, but it is on order.  I actually have a pile of brand new tea towels, because I have been acquiring them lately (& sending duplicates to my mom when I get those, because I have NO TALENT for saving gifts) & I thought I already had one in my hot hands.  & then I saw this other one...  It is entirely possible I will have the material for more than...two.  I might make two for 2014 because I cannot make one in 2015.

& there it is, already over extended. 

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Today in cow

Dear M******:

It as been awhile since I wrote one of these!

Today was the day for our Cowgirl romantic encounter to begin.  Until this afternoon, I had not thought much past getting her in the trailer.  To that end, we moved the trailer to the side pasture weeks ago.  I never did see her get into it, but she got so she could be within charging distance of the thing.  Yesterday, of course that all came to an end. 

A went out to pump up the tires & refasten the license plate (we never put it on because I was worried the donkey would rip it off).  Slowly everyone moseyed in to see what we were up to.  Everyone except herself.  Even the world's dorkiest thoroughbred came over to bump the door, but she stood as close as she could while still keeping the fence between us. 

This morning, I did a whole rigmarole so it would just be the two of us (me & Cowgirl) & I could get the rope back around her horns for the first time since last April (inoculation time).  She wasn't wonderful, but she wasn't horrible.  I shut all the gates to keep her out of the pasture the trailer was in & then did a few chores.  I was hoping she would be curious, I didn't count on how curious.  As soon as we tried to load her, she took off.  Of course

But in the end it happened & she had the usual panic attack she has when she found herself in an enclosed space:

The drive was uneventful, we helped with some rearranging & then pulled the trailer into the pasture. I looked in to check on her & see if I could get the rope off before we released her (I couldn't).  I was pretty sure once I opened the side door to the trailer she would be out, but A had doubts (it is narrower than the width of her horns, high up & at a funny angle).  I am glad the one of us who thought she could do it was paying attention & got out of the way; she sailed by my head a few moments after I jumped off the bumper.

A few minutes to get the rope off & then she took off.  A few moments later the bull took off after her.  Funny little sidebar:  you know those testicles things rednecks like to put on their truck hitches?  Well both me & A observed that Nick's were roughly the same size.  Which, when you consider he is a smallish Dexter bull, & scale being what it is, they are advertising to the world how very small-balled they are. 

As for today, I don't think I have ever worked so hard to make an animal happier in my life.  At least, not all at once.  & I do believe she will be happy, however briefly.  Until this moment, I had not thought ahead 6 weeks to when we need to bring her back.  Shit.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

52 Photos Project: Holiday Traditions

When I saw 52 Photos Project's Traditions, my first thought was holiday cards.   I loved them as a kid, I love them now.  I mostly stopped sending them because I stopped getting them & I didn't want to be the last dork...  But they are back & I am back sending them again & all is good.  I had thought I would take a picture of the cards that we have received so far, but watching Megyn Kelly clips on the Daily Show made me go through the old card file.

We sent these Santa cards X years ago (I honestly don't remember when because while I stopped sending holiday cards I never really stop-stopped sending them, I always send AT LEAST one holiday card to my mother).  I know it was after Obama was elected the first time (she's a big fan; this last visit I gave her all the swag I could lay my hands on & she seemed happy to have it), because I made an Santa 'bama reference in my note. 

Way-back-when I saw these cards in the Victorian Trading Company catalog (that I get this catalog & somehow order something often enough to keep it coming is hilarious in its own way).  They are called Santa Greengloves (look closely, he is indeed wearing green gloves) & I was immediately in love.  & I knew I had to have them & send them to my parents & I ordered them & sent them to my parents & a few other people besides & then I moved on.  Sidebar// in one of those the coincidences keep stacking up kind of things, I included this year's card Comfort & Joy in the picture on the left there.  I promise it was all picked out long before the last week's 52 Photos Project

I have no talent for still lifes.  I am told people who fail in still lifes tend to over compose, but I fail the other way.  this is a complete fail on my part:  it is where my quilts fail, my parties fail, etc.  I throw everything in there & get bored & wander off.  Anyway.  I took this still life so everyone could see this traditional Victorian Santa card & then I could talk about the Big Scandal visible in these traditional Victorian/Edwardian Christmas cards.

Look carefully.  Take your time.  Do you see it? 

That's right!  Santa used to wear green gloves!  Those monsters at the Coca-Cola company have been screwing with traditional Santa.  They are the ones who changed his complete ensemble to match their logo.  Last but not least, my mom will tell you those monsters at Coca Cola also ruined the song "I'd like to teach the world to sing".  I admit, I have a hard time blocking out I'd like to buy the world a coke verse. 

Thursday, December 12, 2013

It was cookie swap...again

The second Tuesday of the month is usually bookclub night, but we take a break in December (& July & August) leaving the 2nd Tuesday in December available for the holiday cookie swap.  Which works in nicely with the month's Lotto Linky topic:  FOOD.

I confess, a week before cookie swap I start kicking myself for not starting earlier, but it more or less works out in the end.  Our cookie swap rules are simple:  make cookies, bring cookies, exchange cookies.  Still I usually manage to screw up in some way.

It all begins with the cookies.  Make a couple dozen.  Or more.  Because all cookies are not created equal.  I make sugar & walnuts things rolled onto balls & plonked in colored sugar.  M****** makes mini-pecan pies.  V** makes buckeyes, the original (& much better tasting) peanut butter cups.  Their cookies take effort; mine really don't.  So I kind of think of 1/2 dozen of theirs equals 12+ of mine.  Maybe even 24+.  Maybe even more.  Seriously, I make them by the pound.

Still, it is worth the effort for all of us.  Sure, your kitchen gets turned upside down making a bulk of one maybe two kinds of cookies BUT you unload the cookies you are a little bit sick of & get back a nice mix to make up very pretty plates for your neighbors & co-workers  Or to eat on the drive home, your choice.

I made what I make every year (that is the beauty if cookie swap, you don't have to worry about too much of one cookie...yet another first world problem): 

Christmas Nut Balls (indeed)

2 sticks of butter, softened
--I prefer to use unsalted butter & then I add sea salt.  The general rule is up to 3/4 tsp of salt per stick, but you can do what you want.  This makes it easier to make a low sodium version if that is what you want.
2 tsp of vanilla
--put them in the mixer & let it run for awhile
1/3 cup of sugar
--toss it in the mixer & let it run awhile longer
2 tsp of water
--add while the mixer is still running
2 cups of flour
--sift the flour. Add it to the mixer, while it runs.
1 cup of walnuts
--I take whole shelled nuts & pulverize them with a mortar & pestle.  The largest pieces are maybe the size of a peppercorn or two...or three, but most of them are reduced to powder.  Tip them into the mixer & let it run until it is smooth smooth smooth.

Yes, I could call these mixer cookies.  It would be impossible to overmix them.  All this mixing (& all that butter) means everything will go easier if you chill it in the fridge for an hour or so.  So you can call them fridge cookie, too.

Preheat oven to 325 F.  Spoon dough into balls (or roll using your hands), roll in sugar, bake 20-25 minutes.  Cookies crumble easily when they first come out of the oven, but set as they cool.


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

52 Photos Project: Comfort & Joy

Have you ever seen the movie Gregory's Girl?  Was it ever even in the theatres in the US?  I know Local Hero was.  Maybe you saw Housekeeping which actually took place in the US (unlike the others)?  Apparently you are more likely than I would have thought to see Gregory's Girl as it went out to a whole new audience during the London Olympics; I missed it entirely (the resurgence & the Olympics).

Whatever.  There is another Bill Forsyth movie you probably never saw...did I mention Bill Forsyth directed these & wrote most of them (not Housekeeping, which was a book by Marilynne Robinson, although I think he probably wrote the screenplay.  Let me check.  Yep, he did).  That would be his Christmas movie Comfort & Joy.  No, no not that Nancy McKeon Lifetime movie of the week thing, which may be quite charming, I wouldn't know as I have never seen it.  I mean Bill Forsyth's Comfort & Joy & good luck finding it as it sells on Amazon for $130+.  In a nutshell, a man with a public persona out of synch with his private self has some extra time on his hands in the few days before Christmas & ... stuff happens.  No, this is not the synopsis any movie database will give you, but there it is. 

So if you find yourself with time on YOUR hands this holiday season & you feel like breaking your heart into tiny little pieces, let me recommend the movies of Bill Forsyth.  Any of those above or any of the others, but most especially Comfort & Joy which you are never going to find, so good luck with that.

Oh oh I almost forgot:  this week at 52 Photos Project the theme is Comfort & Joy so I though about recreating of one of the scenes from the above mentioned movie.  A little unorthodox holiday decorating maybe, or mugging an ice cream vendor.  Instead I give you this:

This is Sadie.  She came to us as a foster dog after going to a small, poorly funded county shelter.  She was picked up by a rescue & placed with a family who gave her back after a few weeks.  Then she went into a many-dog foster situation while they figured out what went wrong & then she came here.  She is happy here.  This morning she went to the vet for her first ever dental cleaning.  I had to leave her; there is no other way to do a dental.  I handed her over to a very nice, gentle tech & Sadie wailed the whole time.  I picked her up this afternoon & she forgave me immediately. 

We are home now. 

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

What would Wyoming do?

I watched the Cheney family asininity unfurl with just about as much pleasure as anyone who enjoys a good public life versus private life train wreck.  For those who don't follow these obscure tidbits (& I grant you, it is obscure or at least deserves to be) one of Dick Cheney's daughters is gay & the other one is running for public office on a party ticket that explicitly does not support marriage equality.

This is not the first time a Cheney has been gay & another has run for public office on a party ticket that is described as anti-gay by everyone except the party themselves.  I know, they claim they are inclusive & maybe they really believe it, but as a straight person affiliated with neither party I promise you aren't.  "God wouldn't like it" is not a good reason for doing anything & certainly doesn't undo any harm you do in insert-deity-of-choice's name.  I'll stop ranting now.  Because I like to offend as many people as I possibly can, I am going to call them Gay Sister & Party Sister.

So, Gay Sister has been trotted out for previous elections to wave to the crowd & maybe you think she could have taken the opportunity to denounce her family's values, but she didn't.  She is not the first person to be exploited by her family for their own gain & she won't be the last.  However, what a person will take from her parents is a helluva lot more than she will take from her sister & way-way more than her spouse will take from same. 

In short, Party Sister went on the public record saying she did not believe Gay Sister had the right to marry a woman, should have the right to marry a woman or was even already married to a woman & then Gay Sister's wife told her to shut her yap.  She was much more eloquent than me (who isn't) & wrote a lyrical list about joining in celebration & enjoying hospitality etc. but I will paraphrase: Wow, what a hypocrite you are.  Either you know you are wrong & you're pandering for votes or you really are a douche.  Scratch that, either way you are a douche. 

Party Sister entered the race with a lot more support than she has now.  That fishing license gaffe didn't help (Party Sister applied for a fishing license as a state resident but did not meet the one year residence criteria that defines state resident for the purposes of applying for a fishing license.  She apologized, paid the fine & then blamed the CLERK WHO SOLD HER THE LICENSE for not defining the terms properly).  Her know-it-all swagger probably is not helping much either.  & maybe, just maybe people who pride themselves on "Equal Rights" are not all that keen to be told who is more or less equal than anyone else.  It is the state motto, after all.

Anyway.  Today in 1867 Wyoming granted women the right to vote.  Yes, you read that right, more than 50 years before the same was a twinkle in Washington's eye (the 19th amendment was PROPOSED in 1919, a handy little mnemonic if you want to dazzle with dates), before Wyoming was even a state, the women of Territory of Wyoming had been casting ballots.  Wyoming might be big on beef/moose/deer/let's just say meat eating, gun toting & letting sleeping dogs lie but that doesn't mean they are completely backwards.  At least once, they were decades ahead of their time. 

For the record, Party Sister's opponent (her political opponent, not the one that is married to her sister...& her sister) is also against marriage equality.  So maybe that state motto is just for the license plates.  Nope, not even there.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Orphan quilt blocks & the best intentions

Over at Block Lotto there is a monthly block for December (which I don't remember there being in previous years..?  Maybe I just need more coffee) & there is an extra leftovers lotto.  In brief, any block that has ever been lottoed pattern-wise, your choice fabric-wise.  In my case & I am guessing more than one or two other Block Lotto regulars, I often made doubles of blocks, but because they were in the exact same colorway (fabricway), they were not lotto eligible.  Here are three of them:

These plaid plaids were made for the April 2012 lotto.  I envisioned making myself a quilt top of these extras; I really liked the way they looked....I really did not enjoy making them.  I don't even know what I didn't like, but I found these in a bag with the directions & NO! handwritten across the top of the page.  Maybe I need to revisit them, just so I can be more specific.  Maybe not.

I added these to the lotto because I really wouldn't mind winning some random blocks.  I am on a fabric book kick à la Gwen Marston.  It is what I plan to do with those first Rainbow Connection blocks.  Not that I cannot make more of my own, but there I something so appealing about other people's duds.

Now I just need to pull out those bags of someday quilt tops & count out just how many extra blocks I have.  Because I know I have an easy dozen extras of the March 2011 block, in a variety of well, variations.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

52 Photos Project: Polka Dots

Did you know there is such a thing as fear of polka dots?  Or at least an overwhelming hatred of them.  I had a roommate who had this problem.  Seriously.  After daily observation of her obvious discomfort, I developed a theory.  There are polka dot patterns that make almost everyone who looks at them a little bit dizzy & just maybe some of us are more sensitive to a broader range of that repeating, monotonous pattern.

Don't get me wrong, I love polka dots.  I avoided wearing them whenever I spent time with A**.  After all, who wants to spend time with a person having a low-grade, drawn out panic attack even if you don't care about them?  But in my quilting life, old fashioned white-on-white dotted swiss is my go to background fabric.  Gray dots on white & white dots on gray were a huge part of the Bird Trap quilt. In fact, it was not until I made the Bird Trap quilt I realized how overboard for dots I am.

No this was not just an excuse to talk about the Bird Trap quilt (for what I am hoping will be the last time....this year...but I make no promises).  Over at 52 Photos Project the weekly assignment is polka dots

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

I went to college for this?

It is graduation season here...not the big graduation, but still a couple thousand will get pushed out into the dark, cold world this month.  The local news programs are rolling out stories about how much debt these graduate have & how many jobs there aren't for them & wouldn't they have been better off getting these same no-jobs right after high school?  I am just a little bit burned out.

In the interest of full disclosure, I should say my husband is a professor.  Most of my friends are education-adjacent.  The town we don't live in (because we live in the small farm community next door), but rely on for just about everything is university-centric.  In sort, the education business is the business that pays our bills.  So, there that is.

Now will someone PLEASE explain to me why it is UNACCEPTABLE to go 17K in debt for a degree but the same amount & very likely more is just fine for a car?  Why isn't the car note a lead story?  I don't really have anything else to say on this one, so I am just going to move on.  Also, in a second full disclosure I should mention I have never had a car loan.  Never.  Never ever.  As a result I drove clunkers for a long time & was in my 30s when I got my first new & not just new-to-me car.  It cost $18,500 & we paid cash.  So you can see how that 17K number the students were tossing around on the radio earlier this week hit close to home for me.

If one person says "well you need a car to get to work, but you don't need a degree to do X job" I will....I don't know.  Spit, maybe. 

A funny thing happens on the way to that degree.  & I am not disputing that in many cases a person could get just as much out of life experience, but some how they never do.  Or at least not often.  Here are a few examples of things you learn in college without realizing you are learning them:
  • Finish your work in on time.  This is another personal one for me because I once had an actual employee show up on presentation to the client day EMPTY HANDED.  Because he needed an extension.  & to be fair, he had a degree but it was in computer science & that particular field of study seems plagued with negotiable deadlines so he learned the hard way that in the job-world you get canned for that kind of thing.  Most people learn this in school, but fewer & fewer in K-12. 
  • Just plain show up on time.  In job-world there are no bells.  Well, very few anyhow.  & plenty of professors don't care if you stroll in late.  Still, a surprising number of them cover crucial business in the first 5 minutes.  For example, the announcement that the final was moved from the room printed in the syllabus to a building across campus was made at the beginning of class.  Yes, it was updated on-line so someone COULD have looked it up but a surprising number did not think to do that. I have specifically asked professors of large lecture classes (where this cavalier attendance is more normal) if there is a correlation between people who wander in late to class & people who lose 45 minutes of a 2 hour exam period running to the new location & pretty much all of them laughed out loud.  I should say that the large lectures involved come with an electronic response thing for in-class participation; the questions are usually simple, & often not graded but they are a good indicator of who is sitting there when class begins & who is not.
  • Sometimes you have to do things that don't interest you.  Every semester someone says about something "when am I ever going to use this?" & the answer might be never.  But you are going to sit through a lifetime of staff meetings & presentations & be expected to parrot at least some of that crap back before they let you leave the room so you may as well learn how now.  In job-world, if you walk into a seminar on racial diversity, say "this is bullshit" & walk out you will probably get fired.
  • Sometimes you have to interact with people you don't like...& who may not much like you.  Every student every where has had an unpleasant, unfair, lopsided encounter with a professor.  Sometimes the professor has no idea they are treating you like crap, you are just the 100th person to walk through the door with whatever life shattering problem you have (I'm sorry but after the first few dead grandmothers, they blend).  The reality is that for your professor you are less an individual than one of a herd.  Understanding this will be helpful when you interact with your future boss who is unlikely to be your buddy & may not get your name right for the first few months. 
  • Shut up, you might learn something.  By shut up, I also mean stop texting & pull out those earbuds.  Maybe it would be better to say pay attention, you might learn something.  In job-world a surprising amount of information is given on the fly.  E-mails have actually helped a lot with this, but plenty of people never get around to putting their instructions in writing.  The only time a you-never-said-that defense ever works is when you already have an unimpeachable reputation for being on the ball.  & there is really only one way to get one of those.
Is 17K a bit steep for these lessons?  Maybe.  But that 17K doesn't nearly come close to covering the cost of the people & the buildings & so on that are needed to teach these lessons...not to mention that actual lesson-lessons.  Sure you could learn them the way Abe Lincoln did, but will you?

As I was writing this I thought of a few collegiate lessons from my own life.  No one else's stories are all that interesting (this includes yours by the way, so keep that office hours chit-chat brief), so I will just give you the highlights:
  • My last boss drank his coffee black (he called it neat) & for lunch he preferred tuna on wheat- rye if there was no wheat- with spicy mustard (WTF right?) & sliced tomato.  Under no circumstances should the pickle on the side ever touch the bread.  OKay, that pickle thing is mine, it grosses me out when the bread gets pickle-soggy.  It has been way-more than a decade since I placed that lunch order; it just might be the last thing I ever forget.
  • When you are standing in the utility room waiting for a fax to go out or come in or binding reports or whatever, take this opportunity to restock the copier's paper trays.  Just do it.  & if you take the last thing of paper from the box, tell someone so they can order more.  If you don't know who that person is, it is probably you. 
  • People who have pink eye MUST be sent home.  Even if he is the boss.  Even if he promises not to touch anything on anyone else's desk.  No exceptions.
None of these would have been covered in any college curriculum (& frankly that semester on feminist literature might have given you the idea you weren't responsible for the coffee or the lunch order, but you would be wrong.  You aren't responsible for the coffee because of your lady parts you are responsible because you are an underling.  This goes for the guys too, but in reverse.  As in you are not not responsible because you are a boy & so on), but all of them were skills that are taught on college campuses every day.  Yes, even the pink eye thing.  We can call that one Lessons in Communal Living.