Monday, February 25, 2013

Starburst super-nova revisited, revised directions (still due April 2013)

When I put up the first 6 months worth/3 swap blocks, I did not include a picture of this one & well, I am sorry.  Every year I have been trying to include a component block, that is one piece of a larger traditional block.  This year, this one is it.  Unfortunately the only picture was of the whole block & that has confused some people.  Then to add to the confusion something went awry with the link to the directions.  So let me start fresh.

The block we are making is called, by me anyhow, starburst super-nova, mostly because of this swap's color requirements, but whatever.  Our block is 5.5" unfinished/5" finished.  The directions can be found at Quilters Cache (that is where I found them: but let me be clear: when Quilters Cache says a scant 1/4" seem allowance they mean scant.  Really really scant.  So scant I thought it might be worthwhile to use slightly large pieces & cut them down as needed' turns out I didn't need to.  It is my measurements that are below, but they are the same pattern & ideally work up into the same block dimensions if you follow the more precise Quilters Cache directions.

To make one block you need two fabrics.  They do not need to be solid or read-as-solid HOWEVER the value within each fabric should be even.  Please do not choose fabric with a busy &/or high contrast pattern.  The two fabrics should be very different from each other, specifically colors you do not usually think of as "going together" if you can manage it.  The combination should say Ka-Boom!  & please please please avoid black or white; they are just too neutral.  There is also no specific background versus foreground; you can make blocks that are mirror images & that is perfectly OKay.

To make one block:

Fabric A:  please cut one square 4" x 4" (in QC these are 3.75") & one square 3" x 3" (this is unchanged from the QC directions).  In the photo Fabric A is the yellow & in a different kind of block might be referred to as the background, but again there should be nothing "background" about your color choice. 

Fabric B:  please cut one square 4" x 4" (this is the other side of the points & again the QC directions suggest 3.75") & one square 6" x 6" (for the bottom half of the block; QC suggests 5.75")

From the two equal squares of each color, you will cut four (4) triangles.  Then match two of the triangles together along the BIAS edge (so please pay attention, you will be stitching open bias edges together) to make the triangle pieces.  If you sew ALL of the triangles, you will have a total of four (4) 2-color points. 

Take two (2) mirror image triangles & lay them out with the smaller square from Fabric A as in the photo.  You should have a nice, straight line along the bottom edge.  If you do not have a nice straight line, chances are you sewed a bias edge to a straight edge while making those points.  Unfortunately bias edges rarely survive picking so put it aside & start again with new triangles.  In the event you do not have a perfect fit (that seam allowance thing again) line the corner of the square up EXACTLY with the corner where the two color come to a single point.  Once you have the this part assembled, you can make n even cut 1/4" from the square's bottom point but if you are like me it will turn out to already be 1/4". 

Cut the larger square from Fabric B corner to corner & match the long bias edge to the bottom of the pointy bit you just made.  Again, you are working with open bias on both sides, so pay attention.  I found that a pin at the center of the Fabric B edge & the point of the Fabric A on-point square was very helpful.

Once you are done there should be no exposed bias edges so you can go on to handle this block as you would any other & not worry about stretching.  You should also have a block that measures AT LEAST 5.5" by 5.5".  If it is exactly 5.5" congrats!  If it is a bit larger, but perfectly square you can count yourself among the elite group of true scant quarter inchers.  If it not perfectly square, you probably stretched the open bias a bit & that would be something to work on.  If is smaller...oh dear.  I would double check that you started with fabric pieces of the correct size & then measure your seams at their widest point  Chances are good of the fabric was cu to the right size, you are taking much lager bites than a quarter of an inch in the seam.

Like I said, in your next block Fabric A can be Fabric B & Fabric B can be Fabric A.  Because of the way things were cut, I found it easier to make two (2) the same, but if you decide to work with scraps & leftovers & it might not work that way for you.  Many crazy mixes & mash-ups are encouraged so long as you stick to the equal-value or read-as-solid guideline within each fabric.

Next is what to do with the blocks once you have swapped them.  Four (4) of these can be put together with a center sash & stone a la Quilters Cache to make a traditional block (another good reason for voiding black & white as this gives you something to use for the sashing & stone) OR you can bump the four of them right against each other & make a vibrant star block OR you can take however many you have & make rows of mini-bursts.

Lastly, I am trying to get in the habit...  Let me start again, sometimes I say where I got the idea for a block, sometimes I don't.  I am not trying to step on anyone's ideas. I swear.  When I don't say where an idea came from I either thought of it myself or it has been in the public domain for so long or has so many versions already at large there doesn't seem to be much point.  This block certainly falls under the public domain category, but the idea to take out the center stash & press the star-parts together was not mine.  I first saw I (I think) in a book I picked up at last year's Friends of the Library sale: Snuggle Up by Kovich & Warehime.  & initially I was much more interested in the pattern created when you put all the points towards the center, but those big gaudy stars looked fun, too.  If you go to this book, you will find they have a different way of making the start points.  It might work better for you (it actually works better for me).  my reason for choosing the method I did is that Quilters Cache can be viewed by anyone who views this blog whereas that method can only be viewed by someone looking at that book; I thought it just made more sense to go with the single version we could all see.

These blocks are due the last Saturday in April, which in 2013 is Saturday, April 27th.  We always swap in sets of five (5), you send five (5) blocks & get five (5) back.  If you can, think about including a 6th block-this one goes to whichever member of that swap has volunteered to make a quilt for her community.  If you would like more details, just ask to join our group on FaceBook (search Quilt Block Swap). 

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Sorting the scraps too small for quilting

Like most quilters (sewers, generally, I would imagine...& sergerers for sure!), I have a vessel for scrap piece of fabric that are too too small to be useful for any more sewing; I use an old jelly jar.  Considering I have a history of making scrap quilt creations with strip exactly 3/4" wide, you can imagine how small something has to bee for me to consider it too small. 

Some of these too-small scraps will continue to have life in my sewing room. Specifically, maybe folded back on themselves & pushed under the needle at the very end of a line of strip piecing.  Most of them alas are even too flimsy for that.  Every day-or-so quilting, I take those away & sort them into containers.  That's right, even a piece less than 3/4" wide still has life in it.

The pieces that are long enough to tie & strong enough not to snap when they are tied will be used to tie back the roses or wrap a graft or hang a temporary thing of some kind.  For example there are TWO pinecones rolled covered in old cooking grease & then rolled in mealworms (yum!) hanging from trees around the round pen to keep those blue birds happy; when they finally do breakdown it doesn't leave much in the way of pollution.  If you don't count the bluebird sh*t.  I also recently saw an idea about tying these together, doubling them & knitting mats.  I can always use really off-looking hot pads.

The pieces that are long-ish that DO snap get put in the dry bird bath with sunflower seeds sprinkled over them (so they don't just blow away).  I don't know if they all go to birds nests but I think some of them must.  Last year I did this experiment where I threw a few nickels in there to be shiny & attract birds faster...or more birds or different birds or more different birds.  Anyhow, those scraps disappeared much faster even though it wasn't as windy as it usually is.  That is the extent of my research. 

The last class of scraps: the misfits, the odd shapes, the dog-ears.  You know the ones I mean. Those go into the greenhouse & will eventually be balled up to make a not-water-proof but mostly soil-proof plug at the bottom of my potted plants.  I used to use newspaper, but this is better.

Friday, February 22, 2013

The ongoing adventures of...

I have said before I can be kind of goofy about Twitter.  I still a little bit am.  Things have changed in my life since my last posting about twitter postings (!).  Some things haven't of course.  The county emergency management twitter feed still blows.  It is worse than useless to me; if it did not exist it would be exactly useless but this business of existing but being inaccessible is just, well, so bureaucratic.  There.  I said it.  & the genius who retweets the brief useful info provided by other counties & then comments in a link...the only thing that comes to mind Well Done, Jackass.

Another thing that hasn't changed is my brother, who still sends along what he thinks might be amusing.  Lately it has been the twitter feed recounting the misadventures of Florida Man.  We have actually been following Florida Man since before he was on twitter (before we thought of him as Florida Man, actually).  It all started with the taco incident.  At least that is how I remember it.  Let me give you the highlights:  a drunk guy goes to the Taco Bell drive-thru, gets his order & falls asleep.  I did not skip anything there, he did indeed fall asleep behind the wheel of his car in the drive-thru at Taco Bell.  Don't laugh yet, though because there is more.  So much more. The employees of Taco Bell call the police because there is a guy passed out on his car in the drive-thru lane.  When the cops get there, they try to get an ID from Florida Man.  They wake him up & ask for it.  Florida Man hands them....a taco.  They ask again handing back the taco & he smiles & starts eating the taco.  Who knows how long this might have gone on if his car hadn't caught fire.  Turns out that while he was napping, his car was in park (or neutral, I suppose), but his foot was on the accelerator.  All that fuel, no place to go & the engine caught fire. 

Sadly, the taco part I get.  I have a really big purse & sometimes I have had to hand people a few things before I can find what I want.  Things I have handed to cops:  tampons (he took it well), 100 $1 bills still in the wrapper (I wasn't trying to bribe him & thank god he realized that) & a collection of small flashlight/keychains (yes, mom, just like the ones I bought you).  These were different cops, at least it was different times.  I suppose it could be the same cop.  Having never gotten a citation (only one of them even involved a moving violation, the others know what never mind, it's too stoopid.  Suffice to say they had nothing to do with me really, wrong place/wrong time & the police were just taking names), I cannot say for sure the distraction didn't help.  My brother, the other brother, used to throw on a goofy smile when his driver license photos were taken, much to the chagrin of the DMV photographer-that rule about not letting you retake a picture because it makes you look like a serial killer cuts both ways.

Back to Florida Man.  Every day really is a new adventure.  Earlier this week Florida Man was arrested after he posted pictures of himself & his children harassing a manatee cub.  Just for fun I looked to see what New Hampshire Man was doing-turns out he was being reunited with his dog after ten years.  Way to go New Hampshire Man!  Connecticut Man shot a masked burglar that turned out to be his own son, but it happened months ago.  Connecticut Man has been laying low since it would seem.  I had high hopes for Texas Man, but mostly he seems to be on death row.  Or going to death row. Or being acquitted.  Texas Man plays a much higher stakes game than Florida Man.  California Man is all over the map.  Today he is both trying to sell an estate to someone who cannot move into it until California Man diesjust died from a gunshot wound, 36 years after the shooting.   & just to be fair & balanced & cover the whole family:  Arizona Man died in a small plane crash yesterday but not in Arizona.  He was in Mississippi.  Mississippi Man was busy pleading guilty to shooting an eagle.  Still no contest:  Florida Man takes the taco.  Molesting a baby manatee wasn't enough for you, you had to go & steal a BMW didn't have a cell phone to couldn't call for a ride.  The flip side of this of course is that Florida Man left his BMW running, keys in the ignition, unlocked while he shopped at a CITGO. 

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Blue rainbow

I had been cruising block patterns, looking for my Rainbow Connection quilt block.  I know it looked like I had already made my choice, but honest, that block was just an example of what COULD be done.  I choose to do the blue blocks so I could do something different.

Choosing the block has been mostly fun.  I wanted to avoid anything that relied on many similar blocks to make a repeating pattern because I knew that every block in this swap is dealer's choice.  In fact, while the block should be 12.5" unfinished/12" finished, there is no reason a person couldn't make a 9-10-11 inch block & size it up with a narrow border.  Given the shear volume of quilt block patterns I peruse & then discard for the every other month swap, I consider myself well qualified to say I want a block that is 12" finished or just under, works on light v dark for the pattern (because I am limited to mostly blue, after all), works as a stand alone, etc. & then put my hands on such a pattern with a minimum of fuss.  The real trick was deciding on qualities I did/didn't want.

At first I toyed with doing something from the plain & graphic neighborhood.  Maybe 9 small 4-patches with narrow white borders between, but when I tested it, there was too much just-background (white).  At least in my view, anyhow.  I decided that might be a better choice for a higher impact color, like red or orange.

While I was rolling all that around, I was also thinking about what blue fabric I had in enough yardage to make six of the same good sized blocks that was unspoken for project-wise.  One fabric I have is a white & blue, mostly white.  I couldn't count it as my background, because it is not all white, or even white-on-white, but it was too white to count as my color fabric.  Knowing I had PLENTY of it, though, began steering me to a block with a center piece that could use up some of this, but also have room around for the blue-on-blue fabric requirement.

I cruised around Quilters Cache in the 7" - 11" range to see if anything caught my eye & of course a few things did.  But none of them were exactly what I wanted so out came the Brackman.  I went straight to Category 14-square in a square & after a pleasant hour or so settled on my block.

I confess I took a few detours.  I thought briefly of making the sawtooth block (Brackman #2648, not to be confused with the sawtooth star: after the Christmas Star debacle of '10 I have been rather off stars.  No fault of the quilt blocks, I know but still, these things leave a mark.).  The sawtooth has a lot of open space in the center, even if I did use the blue on white toile I was thinking I might.  Then I thought I might make a 4-patch of sawtooths/sawteeth, but when I sketched it, even with a center sash & post, it just was not all that appealing.  I put this idea in the better for a different project pile & moved on.

I kept looking for something that had a enough happening to keep me interested for six blocks but still met the "keep in mind this is for beginners & you don't want to scare them off" mantra I have been chanting.  I briefly considered Jack in the pulpit (B#2472), but one of our every other month swap blocks has that same kind of bias-y corner piece & was happening at the same time, so I discarded that one.

But there, on the same page was my choice:  one of the legion of blocks called Mosaic, specifically Mosaic # 21 (B#2470).  I could see it would lend itself to scrappy 1/2-square triangles perfectly.  Have I mentioned I have a lot of blue scraps?  Well, I do.  It would also work very well with the blue toile I originally went looking to accommodate. 

So I began.  I made a draft (cut but not sewn) with the toile & well, it just wasn't sharp enough.  I also raided the scrap pile for the other pieces.  Very pretty (I actually plane to make up the one block, just for having it.  Also it might make a good group swap block some day), but this being a color specific swap, I thought the lines should be crisper.  So I changed it for a medium blue (the value of the toile, but in a solid).  It looked Okay, so I cut the pieces & stitched SIX of them up without taking a good look again.  I wish I had.  They are clunky & would need something small or a certain kind of layout to make them look nice.  I liked the block, just not the scale. 

Back to the drawing board.  Because blue, while a wonderful color, can be kind of bland I decided on graduated color dark-to-light thing. The final decision was to size everything down & add another row & changed two facing 1/2-square triangle side pieces for flying geese when possible & Voilà!

Monday, February 18, 2013

I just feel tired

This week-end, starting last Friday, has been chockfull of little things that fatigued me.  By this morning I was staring at the ceiling & I thought maybe a list would let me get this crap out of my brain & then I could move on.  Also, if maybe I am the one that is wrong someone could let me know.

  • went to pick up A's over-the-counter allergy pills at Walgreens.  Because of crystal meth mfg this has to be done at the pharmacy, which opens after he leaves for work & closes before he gets home.  Waited in-line while apparent shut-in had a good long chat with pharmacist, asking no questions about his meds.  I know this because I could not help but hear the whole conversation.  Finally my turn, but my purchase needs to be rung up on the special register that scans my drivers license.  I then wait again while that pharmacist ass't waits on the ENTIRE drive thru drop-off/pick-up before ringing up my order, which has been sitting on the counter, in front of him while I waited.

  • I get back in the truck, I am putting on my seatbelt, plugging the cell phone to charge etc & a guy starts to beep at me & gesture he wants my parking space.  The space on either side of me is empty as are more than 1/2 the spaces within my view (maybe even more than 3/4 of the spaces, I swear) & I am not parked all that close to the door.  Turns out I am near the redbox video rental thing, but I truly did not register that.  Also, as I mentioned, the space on either side of me is perfectly open BUT as I watch this guy park I see he needs 2 adjacent spaces, which there weren't, right there, in front of the red box, until I pulled out.

  • As I pull out, I can see the drive-thru line at McDonalds.  It wraps around the building.  There is a mini-van of people already eating something, waiting in this line.


  • I hate SatAM trips to the feed store but Becca gets a specific feed (because of her age, poor health, etc.).  They are supposed to get delivery on Thursday but didn't.  I could have started this list with Thursday:  pointless trip to the feed store.  On Saturday they have her feed....but they cannot sell it to me because they are holding it for someone else.  I cancel the rest of my order as if I have to drive to Ocala (45minutes to an hour away), I may as well get everything there.  They reluctantly agree to sell me 2 bags of feed, like they are doing me a big favor.  I do not reinstate the rest of my order, just 2 other bags of what I need ASAP.  This does not go over well.


  • I go to the library & drop off/pick up the week's books.  I also go into the stacks & locate 2 books I returned the previous week that got reshelved without being checked back in.  This happens a couple times a month, always when a particular librarian is working when I check in.  The other librarians have previously expressed irritation with having to redo her work; they check these books in but save these for her to reshelve.  There is quite a pile of books to be reshelved sitting on a cart with her name in it (really, there is a sign, with her name) & they add these. 

  • I go to CVS (they have this face cream that I really love (SPF 30 BUT it doesn't dry my skin out-this is like the holy grail of face cream & no one else carries it; on the flip side they are always 'out' of A's over-the-counter allergy pills so I have stopped asking; I get to go to 2 drug stores YAY).  I am ready to pull out, but I am stopped, at a stop sign (in the parking lot, yes).  A minivan makes a right turn off the road & stops as though he also has a stop sign; he does not.  His left turn signal is blinking indicating he wants to turn left, yes, but a left would mean a turn away from me.  In short, if he wanted to turn into the lane where I am stopped, he should have his right turn signal blinking.  He stays stopped.  Did I mention he has no stop sign?  Did you know that if I go & he hits me it is my fault & that this is a done thing, scamwise?  A friend of mine got T-boned (in slow motion, but still went to the ER) & for the privilege, she got to buy the guy a new front end.  Finally, the passenger side window rolls down & the passenger asks me if I am stupid as the driver has been waving me through.  I reply that I am lacking the super-power that would allow me to see through tinted windows.  Those are almost my exact words (OKay I said "hey genius, you have tinted windows, did you forget?").  The passenger actually looks kind of stunned; there is a brief conversation.  I get the impression that they often get pissed at people who do not respond to the waving & it had never occurred to them the tinted windows might be a factor.  I take this opportunity to point out their left turn signal is blinking.  They turn off the signal, roll up the window, drive straight around the building, back onto the road & away. 

  • I go to Tractor Supply (to get poultry food which I forgot to get Saturday so shot myself in the foot with that one, yes).  As I check out, I ask how long the roses will be on sale.  The cashier responds "I don't know, I work in the Chiefland store".  I ask if the roses there are on sale.  She doesn't know, she hasn't been there for a week BUT she does page a person named ?Bethanny?Beverly?  There are other employees around, I have seen them, but she summons this particular person.  Bethanny/Beverly comes to the register & first girl asks her if the roses in the Chiefland store are on sale.  It turns out she has not been in the Chiefland store all week either.  Both girls look at me & the first girl shrugs & says "sorry". 

Writing this didn't help much after all.  I am laughing yes, but I am afraid to leave the house.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

The other reading list

I have written, more than once, about what is on my reading list, what isn't etc.  What I don't think I have ever blogged on are all those books on my not-for-me list, which is not quite as large as the mine-for-me list but much harder to feed.

Let us travel back in time to the early days of our marriage.  That's right - about 1/2-way into the first decade.  I don't remember what the book was, something science-y probably that I happened to see on the new releases shelf & thought "Well, maybe A might be interested in this"  & I brought it home.

To say it did not go over well is an understatement.  The highlights included an accusation that I was trying to control what he was reading.  Uhmmm, what?  In retrospect, I can see the nerve I accidentally slammed.  I have spoken briefly about my in-laws; let me add this to the mix.  To describe my mother-in-law as controlling is like calling the US Civil War a dust up.   Sure it lasted less than five years, but we are still dealing with it today.  I am not just talking about those persons of reduced brain power with the confederate flag bumper stickers/t-shirts who yap about real americans, (although I do mean them, too), I am talking about the 2013 US Supreme Court docket which includes a challenge to the 1965 Voting Rights Act (Shelby County, Alabama versus Holder if you are curious) put in place because 100 years later, that war was malingering.  Like I said: controlling.

I have a feeling my complete stupefaction is what calmed him down.  That & the reality that while he did have a knee jerk reaction he is not usually a jerk.  Within a very short time he was asking me to see if I could find particular books.  & I confess, I was a bit controlling.  In the interest of giving him options (honest!), I try always to have at least one work of fiction, one work of non-fiction & one wildcard sitting on his bedside table.  This month:

Mad River by John Sandford
God, No!  Signs You May Already Be an Atheist and Other Magical Tales by Penn Gillette
The Where, the Why and the How: 75 Artists Illustrate Wondrous Mysteries of Science by Volvoski, Rothman & Lamothe

Happy Valentine's Day

Spring homecoming

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Block Lotto progress

I have been meaning to jump back into Block Lotto for way-too-long now.  There have been some blocks that I really wanted to win, but alas like the lottery You Cannot Win If You Do Not Play.  So I didn't win. 

This month's Block Lotto block is a revisit on another that I that I actually DID participate in with some changes.  I think the size is different & I know the colorway is.  This time it is "low volume" a true challenge for a novelty-aholic like myself.  even when the colors aren't glaring, the contrast sure is.  The idea of sorting through my strings while I was in the throes of bird trapping just did not appeal BUT I knew a block I had made before was probably right up my alley (my brain, like my body is running at anywhere between 60-80% of my usual self these days). 

So in an unusual twist I decided to Follow The Directions, even the "this is just a suggestion" directions.  I know, right?  I cut larger than I need rectangles from the pile of muslin scraps I always have & when I came across a string that met the requirements I put it in place.  I even made two-at-a-time so as to have both sides of the heart when I was finished.

& while I did read the diretions, I did not remember if the direction said all hearts could have busy backgrounds.  So you know, the doxies seemed obvious. 

Saturday, February 9, 2013

A day for dentists

One of the first things I loved about Saint Apollonia was her name.  I cannot help it, I am delighted when saints have completely not christian names.  I know, I know your name is one thing over which you have almost no control, what with your parent generally choosing it, often before you hit the ground.  Unsurprising, the parents who choose a feminization of the greek god of the sun (& healing & prophecy & poerty & so on)  to name their daughter were themselves not christian.

So, Apollonia.  Martyred because she refused to renounce her (new) religion, which is a popular one among the saints; a sizeable sub-group are the volunteers.  Generally they are women who, when faced with that fate-worse-than-death option opt for death.  In Apollonia's case, it came after what had to be a pretty rough time.  Among other things, her persecutors removed all her teeth, a method of torture that has given me the creeps since Marathon Man.  Finally, when told she was about to be burned to death, she jumped into the flames.  Bringing us to a very large set of saints martyred by fire. 

& given that, it should be completely unsurprising that fire is not one of her symbols. She is not shown in front of a wall of fire or with flames curling around her feet or any other fire themed pose (OKay, OKay she is sometimes standing with a burning pyre off in the background, but I am really talking about what is in the clos-up).  Instead, she is often portrayed holding a tooth in dental pliers.   In an unusual twist, her relics often are teeth which I find, well, odd.

For those who don't know, saintly relics are what was left of the body (the one that had to remain inviolate for a long long long time after death for you to start down that road to sainthood).  These relics are kept in reliquaries (def:  a container for relics).  Usually they are bones, sometimes some hair, sometimes some cloth but Apollonia's are often teeth.  Which would mean that after her teeth were removed someone collected & saved them expecting them to be valuable.  Which I find odd.  Even if you were going to save them à la the opening of Cloud Atlas, how would you know which ones were hers?

Whatever.  If you start getting curious along those lines, the whole business just falls apart.  Back to the woman herself.  Kinda.  Apollonia is the patroness of lots of places. Towns, churches, & at least one train station.  & of course dentists.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Whatever I ever wanted to do

Over at Block Lotto they have a new feature: Weekend Update.  This week the update is themed (it isn't always) & the theme is/was I always wanted to try ______.   Well I have always wanted to try bird trap blocks, but if I do another bird trap post it just might bore even me. There are slews of quilt ideas in my notebook...on the kitchen counter, scribbled on scraps of paper & returned as bookmarks in my library books...  But seriously, I don't need to start one more quilt project.  My husband just might lose it & he is a very very patient man about that sort of thing taking over the house.  Well, not exactly patient, more oblivious but it plays out the same way, so I like to give him the credit.

There was no rule it had to be quilt-y (& a good thing too; I really don't need a new quilt project), so next I thought maybe I should make a list, maybe that would be good for me.  Things I want to try in the next week, like bite-sized resolutions.  I would like to try living in a clutter free house...but I don't actually want to declutter.  I don't even want to give up the clutter.  That one was doomed from the start.

I always wanted to try living with one more dachshund, but A really would have a stroke.  Also, I'm not sure I even want another dog.  Just now.

Al that is remotely new this week is I started faux jogging again after a month off cough-Cough-COUGHING.  But that's not something I always wanted to do, it is something I used to do.  Also I never wanted to do it, then or now. 

I guess I will be sitting this Weekend Update out, as it seems everything I ever want to do I pretty much do do.  & yes, I am very happy most of the time.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

A name by any other nom de guerre

So last weekend while I was not watching the superbowl I came across yet another name generator.  I remember the old days when you had to plug in the info yourself.  Yes, I know these things are sometimes more than a little insensitive but humor is pain so suck it up.

For example my drag queen name is my own first pet's name & my mothers maiden name. Which would technically make it Andrew McVey which is awkward for reasons only people who really know me know (Andrew was a big black tomcat who used to sleep in my crib, yes it only gets worse).  So I usually say it is Gus McVey; Gus was a smaller gray cat that I actually remember.  I have relatives, (by marriage, okay I might be married to one of them) a brother & sister who could claim Penny & Petey Hauptmann.  Can't you just see that up in lights over some vaudeville theatre?  Appropriate as it happens, the whole vaudeville vibe, I mean.  I also have a friend who would be Princess Gail (& no, she has never met my sister, although this is one of the few that actually works).  & another that trumps mine:  Magoo Doyle.  I even like to think about what my friends are doing to their kids & yes, I mean you mother of the future drag queen Doxy Brennan.  Maybe she could perform with her brother Junie Brennan.  Oh wait, I forgot about the guinea pigs.  & the cat.  It's an à la carte process.

My niece (Osiris O'Brien- winning drag queen names run in my family), recently uncovered the formula for your zombie survival team:  the last band/musician you listened to, the hero of the last video game you played & the hero of the last movie you watched.  Mine were X (same as one of my brothers, I know right?) which segued to the Pogues so it can go either way.  The Sims as it has been a very long time since I played a video game.  Because I am a grown-up.  Also Sudoku doesn't really have characters.  & Sherlock Holmes.  My only hope is outrunning these punks, drunks & cannon fodder.  & Sherlock Holmes.   Osiris gathered together Cher Lloyd, Greg from Hay Day & Elle Woods.  Yup, she's toast.

But you don't have to do all the work any more, now you can use an on-line name generator.  I would wrestle under the name Flighty Callgirl, which seems heavy handed no-pun-intended.  Practice witchcraft as Brigid Toadcackler

& last but not least, if I were an animal abusing, pro-football quarterback trying to cover up my treatment for genital herpes so I cold go on to infect groupies with impunity I might call myself
Brigitte Vanuatu

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Not fat Tuesday

February 3rd is the absolute first day that Mardi Gras can be (it isn't this year of course--for one thing today is Sunday).  There is a touch a spring madness about other anniversaries. 

Today, in 1637 the tulip market collapsed, more or less in one day.  Anything on a grand scale happening in one day before the telegraph is impressive, but imagine this:  one day a few people woke up & said I could a buy a house, a really really nice house & support it, with servants & everything for the rest of my days OR I could buy some flowers.  & then chose the house.  & this was a novelty.  By the end of the day, everyone else went wait, what?  Whoever was left holding the bulbs lost.  It's like some strange, life changing game of hot potato.   

In 1690 the first paper money was printed in the colonies.  I am fond of physical money history.  No really, I am.  I like tracking through Where's George.  Also it is fun to point out to people who get all bent about separation of church&state about how In God We Trust is on the money & therefore God was always part of our gov't that God didn't get added until the 1950s.  Interesting that the colony founded just a generation earlier on the right to practice a much more restrictive religion than their country of origin didn't think God belonged on the money.

Oh, & in 1890 the 15th Amendment was ratified.  Whether or not you think that one was crazy is a defining political characteristic, even today. 

What else, what else.  In 1970, Frank Serpico was shot.  In 1904, Pretty Boy Floyd, one of the most off-the-wall gangsters (he once sent a postcard to police denying being involved in a massacre & by& large history believes him, how off is that?), was born.  In 1959 the music died.

Yes, I know, pretty much every day ever can give you a similar cross section, but I don't know...I just might give Superbowl 47 a miss & instead plant some tulips & listen to Don McLean

Saturday, February 2, 2013

World Hijab yesterDay

The pun was not lost on me when I realized this morning that yesterday had been World Hijab Day.  I freely admit that I DO consider the hijab a bit backward NOT because it is muslim, but because when it is required, those requiring it usually endorse backward ideas, such as not educating women.  Or anyone, for that matter.

& yes I get that this falls into that fine line category.   I know people (well person) who wears a hijab.  She feels very strongly that it makes her safer; that it is actually liberating.  She doesn't find anything strange about this.  What I hear is I carry mace because it is liberating.  Yes, maybe you are safer (maybe not), but isn't this also a sign there is something wrong with the bigger picture?  S***** insists that a hijab is about modesty.  So is pretending you don't know the answer in math class & never raising your hand.  Modest, yup.  The best idea you ever had, not so much.  I don't get it & I don't think I ever will. 

Just so no one feels picked on, let me tell this little story.  I have regular contact with a group of orthodox jews (a family group, as it happens).  No, the women don't wear hijab BUT when a woman gets married she often removes her hair, sometimes just what is visible to the world or sometimes all of it (I have no idea who decides to do which or why, I just know sisters who attend the same temple who have made different decisions).  After that, the orthodox jewish wife wears a wig for the rest of her life.  Even if she gets divorced, even if she is widowed, her hair is never to be seen in public again. 

Again this is a modesty thing.  OKay fine.  Then explain this:  why oh why oh why do they ALL wear wigs that are several shades lighter than their natural hair?  I asked this question & was told because it is prettier, of course.  Uhm...what?  They cannot tell me why their own hair, chemically treated wouldn't be kind of like a wig.  I mean, no one would be looking at their actual, natural hair, right?  Could they have their own hair made into a wig & wear that? 

I should probably stop at this point & mention that I am a natural blonde.  I am 47 years old & my hair gets a bit darker every year & I am still plenty blonde.  After a bit of my questioning these cousins are usually laughing their wigs off.  They are convinced, every last one of them, that I don't understand because I am already blonde.  Maybe they are right & maybe I don't.  But it sure does shoot holes in that modesty argument.  Invariably one historical truth keeps coming up in these conversations: in ancient Rome prostitutes were required to wear blonde wigs so everyone would know what they were. 

So I won't be wearing a hijab, & I wouldn't even if it still was World Hijab Day.  It doesn't matter much here anyhow; we live so close to a major medical center that women wearing hijab-like head scarves don't mean a thing except they don't want to get their chemo-bald heads sunburned.  Also I imagine they get cold.  Wearing hijab just wouldn't be the same experience. But the reason I won't be wearing one is I believe a modesty that requires you to not even have the option to show your uncovered head because some guy might lose control is a false modesty of the worst kind. 

Today of course is Groundhog Day.  I have no idea if he saw his shadow or not.  Want to know why?   I get weather predictions from the Weather Channel.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Some birdtrap block tips

Another week, another round on the birdtrap blocks.  I know, I know I need to get a life.  Or at least broaden this one.  But I have a few completed blocks & I thought, just in case someone was thinking of trying this on their own (or even joining the swap in Facebook) I would toss out some pointers:

You can never have enough 1/2-square triangles.  In a wide range of sizes, although generally the smaller they are, the more useful they are.  Whenever you have a minute, slice a few more squares, make that line down the back & keep them handy for catching threads between "real" pieces.

Plan on making odd-width planks.  While it was a requirement in this swap, I would do it either way.  Those unplanned-width borders meant that I could put together pieced strips as close as possible to the correct length of existing blocks for the adjacent rows & then square them up.  I am too embarrassed to tell you how long it took me to realize this, but once I did things went much more smoothly.

Less is not more.  Just to see what it looked like I made one block that was almost the bare minimum.  It meets every requirement without fanfare & then goes just one step further (one more round than required).  It is not impressive.  Don't get me wrong, it is cute all on its own, but once you see the others it is just too.....drab. 

Sometimes more is too much,  That's right, despite the very relaxed final measurement guidelines (more like a window really- 10.5 to 12.5 by 10.5 to 12.5), I still managed to make more than one block too big.  For this reason I would recommend ending on one of those versatile-width plank rows.  That is why I would also suggest making yourself a block specific ruler.  In my case, I cut two pieces of paper & taped them together at a right angle.  One of them is 10.5" long (the minimum the block can be) & the other is 12.5" long, the maximum the block can be.  Actually they are both 10.5" long & 2" wide, I think you can figure it out from there.  This way I can...going sure my blocks all fall in the size range.

My decision to make extras (failure to keep track of how many I started & then an Oh What The Hell approach to continuing) means I will have my nine to swap even without the gaffes.  In a strange turn about, I kind of want to keep everyone I have finished so far.  Anyone who knows me should gasp at this point.  I almost never keep the quilts I make.  I have one hanging in my dining room I was preparing to give away when my husband said he kind of liked it, so I didn't.  There is another quilt in the tv room, also for my husband.  The quilt on our bed came from Bed, Bath & Beyond.

Hopefully the November 2013 deadline will give me enough time to gaze at them & then send them on to their rightful homes.  Or enough time to make more.  Lots more.

& as a sidebar:  this morning, this post is the first time I am participating in the Weekend Update over at Block Lotto.  Hello Block Lotto, I miss you!  I do plan to jump back in, honest I do.