Tuesday, May 28, 2013

No more debt

I did not win Block Lotto in April.  I didn't really think I would as I only made two birds blocks.  Actually I made SLEWS of bird blocks but the wrong size, the wrong color because I actually made them for my Bird Trap Quilt Block quilt top. 
Those two birds have long since been mailed, & I revised my debt to 18.  & since this month's block is lovely, but just not my thing I had planned to knock a few more off before the end of the month.  I knocked off 21. 

Here's the thing:  they were really really easy to slide in between more complicated, brain-taking blocks.  I have been composing boats & bird traps more or less as I go.  Then I started bringing extra bird traps up to size to make a top.  & the way my sewing room is se up I need to stand & walk a few steps between sewing machine, cutting table & ironing board.  This is mostly a good thing; it kills me when some quilters complain their back, shoulders, arms, etc. are achy & then I find out they never once got out of their chair in a whole day of sewing.

So while I don't mind the hopping up & down, once I get to one place I would like to spend more than 30 seconds there.  So I cut a bunch of geese squares, the four smaller ones for the background & the one larger one of the goose itself & slid a few of those through the machine, under the iron & so forth while doing what I was really doing.

Hence the 21.  I don't mean 21 geese, I mean 21 completed blocks that meet the May Block Lotto requirements.  There are also many orphan geese just sort of piled up, in different stages of completion. I'm sure they will make a fine border on something. 

I got the first three blocks posted in time to get the June Block Lotto sneak peek & while I am prohibited from going into any detail before the first of the month, it is safe to say that while I will make a block or two (I hope) for Block Lotto, I am unlikely to go as crazy.  So I am just as glad my previous Block Lotto win of 38 low volume hearts has been paid back in full. 

Sunday, May 26, 2013

What would John do?

Today, in 1925 the John above was indicted.  His case used to be, for me, the very definition of losing the battle but winning the war.  Lately though I am not so sure about the win.

I am talking about the Scopes Monkey Trial.  The gist was the state of Tennessee had made it illegal to discuss evolution in any publicly funded classroom.  If this is sounding a bit samey, that might be because Tennessee has more recently made it illegal to discuss homosexuality in elementary & middle school (apparently by high school the kids can handle it).

You don't need me to walk you through the ins&outs of the trial itself.  The highlights are:

John Scopes was a high school teacher who was aware of the law (the Bulter Act to be precise) & may not have even violated it but had said he thought it was a bad law & agreed to violate it.

He was defended by Clarence Darrow who came in the door with a...let's call it diverse...legal background.  A whole lot of other famous people passed in & out of that courtroom, but I will spare you the list of attorneys at either table.

The trial was a good old fashioned circus & was intended by both sides to be just that.  One side wanted that law struck down & the drafters ridiculed, the other side thought it was about damn time someone took a stand against this anti-bible science nonsense.  At least that is how I remember it.  The ACLU had been looking for a "test case" & this one was tailor made. 

The whole business was famously covered by H. L. Mencken & if you don't know who that is look him up.  If you don't want to look him up, imagine a 24-hour news cycle hairdo who spends her/his spare time translating Nietzsche, writing books on ethics & generally contributing to our society more than his own short-term bank balance.  Yes, I am talking about you Hairdo who spent actual news bytes promoting your country music album.

John Scopes lost & was ordered to pay the fine ($100), went on to the Tennessee Supreme Court where the conviction was overturned (the technicality:  the jury should have decided the fine, not the judge) but the law stood.  Until 1967 when it was repealed more or less just in time as the US Supreme Court ruled the following year that a ban on speech based entirely on religion was indeed a violation of the First Amendment.

But all of that was yet to come, in the past.  Today we celebrate the day John Scopes was indicted.  Picture your high school science teacher.  He has been taken out of his house & down to the station & is being booked.  He is about to lose his livelihood & ultimately will choose to live in another country on another continent.  But today, he thought it was still important enough to move a specific religious doctrine out of the classroom & open the door to alternative.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

52 Photos Project: Waterdrops

Over at 52 Photos Project this week is about waterdrops.  I have tried to take pictures of water before; we have a rain chain outside the French doors near the chair where I have my first morning coffee (& my second morning coffee & these days my 3rd, 4th etc. all the way through my digestif after dinner).  I have more or less given up taking pictures of the rain on the chain & it was only after I stopped I realized I was never going to get a good picture as our rain has two cycles:  drought & deluge.

I have been more successful with frozen water.  It doesn't freeze much here, but when it does the drops from the hose or drips down the whatever really can be lovely.  Especially as we have well water which is mostly clean but hard & therefore very very refractive.  Refracting?  Whichever, it is pretty.

I knew the picture I wanted, though.  There was some question as to whether or not I could get it occurring naturally & if I couldn't, did I want to run water across my subject?  I more or less decided if it didn't happen, it wouldn't happen. 

Then Monday, about an hour before sunset it rained.  More importantly, about 15 minutes later it stopped.  So here it is, one of many shots I got of Cycas revoluta.

The fronds are very young; they emerged maybe seven days ago, maybe ten?  As they uncurl, they become more rigid & then remain that familiar flat, palm-looking way.  But this week (& part of last week, probably not next week), they are still soft & flexible. 

Monday, May 20, 2013

Here's the story

I have been a little bit distracted lately & have told half the story (or the story to date) to just about everyone & telling it makes me so miserable I don't want to have to keep telling so here it is, once & for all:

A bit more than a month ago we noticed something not-quite-right in our chihuahua?dachshund?jack russell? mix.  She seemed "off" for a little while, but we were chalking that up to old age (she is in her early teens....we think; we have had her since 2004 & she was 2+ then).  She was developing cataracts & not seeing well certainly explained some of her problems but then she started turning down treats.  Actually she wasn't turning them down, she was accepting them & then not eating them.  She had had a dental cleaning & all that entails the first week of January but maybe she had developed a new cavity?  So to the vet we went.

In the course of the exam the vet found a pressure point along her back that certainly hurt her, so a radiograph was in order.   Following that we had some information:  inflammation between the second & third vertebrae.  More than that, what it took to get a clear pictures hurt her quite a bit.  At least she came home in more pain than she went in.  The pain got worse not better over the following days.

Let me stop here & say I do not regret the radiograph.  nor do I blame the vet for hurting her.  Among the breeds mixed into her history is dachshund & there is no ignoring back pain in dachshunds. 

We spent three weeks treating her pain & all that entailed.  Her appetite was nonexistent, so we have also been force feeding her.  This goes against my animal care philosophy, but we were working from the assumption that the lack of appetite was caused by a combination of her pain & the medications she was taking for pain.

Last week we had a follow-up & we now have a different picture.  The cataracts & the back problems are not great BUT our real problem is very likely a tumor.  The suspected location is her nasal cavity, probably somewhere behind her left eye.  The reason I say "probably" is we have elected not to have it definitively diagnosed.  The only was to do that would be at least one expensive, invasive procedure.  If we had the diagnosis we expect the treatment is, in a word, hellacious:  chemo & radiation & after that misery she would likely be blind & six months after treatment 80% of the dogs that go through it are dead anyhow. 

So we brought her home.  Her appetite is back (thank you prednisone...& the anti-emetic & anti-nausea meds she is on), but her diet is limited.  After more than a month of eating almost nothing, her digestive system is fragile & big bites & chewing are problematic because of whatever is going on behind her left eye.  & that is where we are.  It is hard to say how long this will last; as long as she wants to eat we will feed her, but sooner rather than later she will have problems swallowing even the small bits of chopped chicken breast I have been making for her & that will be that. It could be a couple weeks, it is unlikely to be more than a few months.

In the meantime, she is back to being our own little dog.  She gets tired more easily, but she is up & wagging her tail, bumping noses with the cats & doing the things that make her happy.  She has regained a little weight (she lost almost 1/3), her back is not bothering her much but all the reasons we thought she needed to go to the vet remain.  If she has what she is showing all the signs of having, when she goes downhill, it will be very fast which is hard on us, but I think lingering might be harder on her.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Blogger's Quilt Festival: Spring Break

AmysCreativeSide.comThe Blogger's Quilt Festival opened on ?Friday?  I think....?  This is no reflection on the Blogger's Quilt Festival; I have been very out of it for a month now (nothing to do with quilting, just in case you thought I had fabric induced dementia or something). 

This go round the festival is broken down into categories, which I guess I understand.  There is no question that one big list of links could be overwhelming.   Still, I think it is worth a cruise through even the categories that don't much interest me (I'm sorry art quilt makers & professional quilt quilters; if it helps I know I am a philistine).  In the end my favorite quilt is often a quilt I know I never would, never could make.

& now for my entry:

After no thought at all, I decided my quilt belonged in the bed quilt category.  Because it is on a bed.  My parent's bed, to be precise.  The bed is an old-fashioned, not often seen anymore, garden variety double bed.  & while the quilt does look like an old fashioned pattern, it isn't. 

After I cruised around the festival I realized my quilt could go in more than one category, so I also put it in home machine quilted quilts because it was, although I know I deserve no particular accolades.   My style of machine quilting is to sort of slowly push the balled up quilt around while I do what I am told looks like really lame yoga poses that all seem to involve my arms being held out straight, locked at the elbows.  I call this technique "free motion with walking foot".  The result is wavy irregular lines that sometimes look more like... ehrmmmm... stylized lady parts than I ever Ever EVER intended. 

Once this was pointed out to me (yes, it had to be pointed out), I started quilting in a more or less diagonal pattern, limiting the swoops & swirls & that was fine.  Until SOMEONE asked why I was not doing anymore yoni quilting (her words, not mine) & I thought "oh screw it, yoni quilting it is" & have started doing it again. 

With almost no changes (one change, which I will go into in a bit & maybe another), it is the Spring Break quilt pattern from Atkinson Designs' pattern book Spring Cleaning

Spring Break is another one of those quilt tops I made in abundance.  Off the top of my head I can think of five quilts I made from this pattern, soup to nuts, on purpose.  I also once taught a (very poorly attended) workshop using this quilt as a jumping off point, so I guess I could say I was in on those as well.  As it is what could be described as "cutting intensive" & so I have also cut up scraps for it & then handed them off as well as received fabric cut by others... 

In short, I have had a hand in at least a dozen versions of this quilt.  But this one is the first one I made all by myself, cutting to piecing to basting to quilting.  I honestly cannot remember if I bound it.  I certainly MADE the binding but I might have sent it off for mom to bind.  Because I do that.  Also, I think it may have been a Mother's Day gift that showed up MONTHS late.  Which also sounds like me.

I tried to take a picture of just one block so you could see what makes it so cutting intensive, but alas the fabrics I choose (with the idea they would match the bedroom of the recipients, which I think it does) are so soft & blurry you cannot really see the contrast.  In fact, when I blew up the whole bed picture at the top and below, I realized it looks like there are dirty pillow cases on the bed!  There are not.  It is just that what it took to bring out some contrast in the quilt blocks also brought out every shadow of the ordinary wrinkles of the pillow, making it looks like a brylcreem aficionado sleeps there (he isn't).

Lastly I tried to get a whole quilt picture but it was December 24th & one of the room's residents was getting dressed for his once-a-year appearance & somehow I never made it back in there with the camera.

This is almost the only angle you can almost see the one change I am quite sure I made, though.  The quilt top itself is 5x6, that is five blocks across by six blocks long for a total of thirty blocks.  I think.  Which might be a deviation from the suggested layouts, but if it is it is a small one.  Then there is a narrow border around the whole thing & finally, wide borders on the left & right sides & the bottom which do not connect, giving the whole thing a distorted T-shaped layout.  The concave corners allow the quilt top to hang snug to the mattress without getting caught up on the footboard.  This is a fairly common feature in New England quilts, but not often seen (at least not by me) anywhere else. 

& my digital quilt label:
Finished Size is approximately 69 inches wide by 73 inches long
Pieced & quilted by me on my Bernina 153
Pattern is, as stated above, Atkinson Designs Spring Break from the book Spring Cleaning
If you came here through the Block Lotto Weekend Update, I hope you will hippity hop back to the beginning of the Blogger's Quilt Festival & if you came through the quilt festival, please do pay a visit to the Block Lotto.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Today's word: Bildungsromans

I am not saying I never saw the word bildungsromans before.  I am sure I had.  I probably once had the definition right there at the tip of my brain.  But there I was in the library's digital catalog putting a book my mother had recommended (Tell the Wolves I'm Home) on hold.  As I was clicking through I travelled across the "Subject" section & there it was:  Teenage girls -- fiction, Loss (Psychology) --fiction, Friendship -- fiction, AIDS (Disease) -- fiction, Uncles -- fiction, Bildungsroman, Love stories.

First, let me say Spoiler Alert. Yep, I should have said it at the top, but I didn't.  & naturally, I clicked it.  Turns out there are >1k titles in our local library with that specific subject.  Even more interesting there is one (1) book with the additional subject of Bildungsromans American, one (1)  Bildungsromans -- Comic book etc, two (2) Bildungsromans -- England -- Yorkshire -- Drama, three (3) Bildungsromans -- Mississippi & a handful of other singles doubles & triples.  Oh & one (1) Bildungswesen. 

So the word itself: it means a coming of age story.  I wonder there were only just over one thousand as so many many many stories are, at some level, coming of age stories.  

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

52 Photos Project: Crop It

This weeks at 52 Photos Project the assignment is Crop It, a before & after view.  I have folders & folders & folders of pictures of birds, many of them taken from some distance so I knew where I would go for this weeks picture.

I have spent some time (not a lot, but not none) trying to make a happy home for bluebirds.  First of all, I like bluebirds.  But I am also interested in any kind of no-pesticide insect control, particularly around the cow.  For reasons that are too involved but trust me, they were reasonable, our round pen is actually in the smaller pasture that also has the cow's milk stand & stall.  & although the gates between this pasture & the larger one are almost always open, this area around the round pen & the milk stand is always where the bugs converge.

So, bluebirds. Or purple martins, which is who we actually expected.  In the tradition of "if you build it, (t)he(y) will come", we put a potential martin house on the highest post of the round pen & within what seemed like moments, we had bluebirds checking it out.

This particular photo was taken early in the morning when I went out to deal with our hens.  The whole time I had a feeling I was being watched & when I looked, there he was on the fence between the small pasture & the backyard - the round pen is in the background,

& it turns out, he was looking at me.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Joseph de Veuster

Technically, yesterday was the feast day of Joseph de Veuster AKA Saint Damien Joseph de Veuster of Moloka'i, but I was busy & then I posted something else & then I got sidetracked....sue me.

Our boy here is one of the Hawai'ian leper colony saints, yes there is more than one.  OKay I thought there was more than one but all I can find is his guy.  A LOT of this guy.  In my defense he has several names, the most common being Father Damien which is NOT what the register of saints people called him.  But there just could not be two guys hanging in Moloka'i at about the same time being defended by...

You know what, I am starting again.  Again again since I meant to post this yesterday.  Here we go:

Joseph de Veuster was studying to be a priest & his brother (Pamphile-what a great name!) was a priest & this brother was supposed to go minister to the people of Moloka'i but he got sick sooooooo....Joseph took his place & was ordained in Hawai'i & worked (famously) in the leper colony.  & that was his life.  Not an easy life, kind of a short one (he died before his 50th birthday).  It will come as no surprise that Father Damian contracted leprosy himself, but he more or less knew that would happen going in. 

There a lot of famous stories about Father Damien, his piety (meh), his devotion to his parishioners (more impressive).  But the stories I like best about Father Damian have to do with what the outside world thought of him.  Keep in mind, this is a man living in a leper colony in 19th century Hawai'i.  This is not one of those high profile leadership roles.  But he swung it.  Swinged it?  Swang it?

First the small story, which is really more of a factoid.  When Hawai'i was made a state & got to add two images to the United States Capitol Building, his statue was one of the two.  I want you to stop now & think about this.  A cluster of Pacific island's with a vibrant (gory & beautiful) history, so different from every other state in the union & proud of it.  they can choose two iconic figures to say to the country tis is who we are & they choose a leper.  Double dog strange when you consider most of the white men making tis decision were descended from a very specific sect of New England Puritan.  I know right?  I had to know what the other image was:  Kamehameha, which was my first guess.

The big story, & one of my favorites among all saints stories ever, truly.

After Father Damien's death, a certain Reverend Mister Hyde referred to him as a dirty person who contracted leprosy through his own lack of hygiene, etc. & was in general undeserving of the accolades that were trickling in.  There were probably many motives for this prejudice, not the least of which Hyde was a Presbyterian & in addition to not always being super nice to the locals which father Damien was getting credit for being Presbyterians are not always super nice to Catholics.  It's kind of a thing.  What really kicked it into over drive was the DELUGE of rebuttal his letter received.  The most famous was from Robert Luis Stevenson (himself a Presbyterian) who traveled he Pacific with his family & was in Hawai'i for a significant period.  Among other things Stevenson chewed on Hyde for being such a nitpicking asshole, indicated the motive was probably jealousy & suggested that Father Damian would likely be made a saint, Reverend Mr. Hyde could be sure his own jerky behavior would be a big part of it.  You can read the letter in its entirety here.  Stevenson sent the letter in 1890, Father Damien died in 1889, & Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde was published in 1886. Still, its a lovely little coincidence.

Oh oh, Father Damien was Flemish.  Another one!  & of course he is the patron of people suffering from leprosy as well as people who work to treat &/or cure it.    I am guessing he is also the patron saint of Honolulu at least & very likely all of Hawai'i, but I could not find it confirmed anywhere.

Friday, May 10, 2013

You asked about my process

I cannot tell you how many times I started a post titled "I never took the Process Pledge"  If this sounds ridiculous, in my defense people keep sending me the link to the Process Pledge.  & I admit I love reading the Process Pledge entries on other blogs.  My problem is that my process is, well, not really a process.

Let me start again (& here we have the first window into the process problem).  I mean really, let me start again, as I actually got as far as Step 1 in an old post.  & those blocks remain more or less as described, except they are no on a shelf instead f the work table itself.  They still fall over & then I pick them up & spread them around.  Sometimes I pin them to my t-shirt & admire them in the mirror, not because that way I can see more of them.  I really like them (& thank you again if you sent me your blocks, I know I should feel guilty about not making them into a quilt like a "good" winner would do but I don't.  So there.

Wait, I think I might have revealed another step in there:

Step 2- Look at the blocks in the mirror.   I do this ALL THE TIME.  & yes I often pin things to myself because I only have the two hands.  & I like to see as much all jumbled up as I can (how is that for a sentence!).  I find it very easy to ignore my own head.  Hmmm, let's move on.

So I ignore my own head & look at the blocks or the panel or the quilt top that could be done but doesn't feel done.  I have been told, not specifically but by people who talk about the wonder of design walls that they are the only way to go.  They don't work for me.  As it happens, quilting aside, my house does not have much in the way of walls.  The floor plan is not so much open as sort of cubby-holed, small rooms lead to small rooms.  We have a lot of big windows & long narrow horizontal windows & even some windows from one room to another.  Most of the internal walls are broken by doors, or at least doorways. 

What I am getting at is that I like to see the quilt-in-process the way it will be seen in real life.  While I do have a quilt hanging on my kitchen/dining room wall, most quilts will be folded or wrapped around a person or rumpled on a bed & I just don't have the eyes that can translate some flat thing into a folded, wrinkled thing.  I admire people who do, I wonder how they learned it or maybe they were born with it...?  I don't know, that is someone else's process, not mine.  For the record, that quilt hanging in my dining room was intended for a bed or a couch & I think it kind of shows.

& something just fell in place!  Any quilt I ever designed has no central point of reference.  None of them.  Nada.  They don't even have off-center points of reference.  Apparently I work in the round. 

This is not true, of course.  I have certainly made quilts with a central focus (you can see a couple  here & here), but it isn't usual or even my preference.  So I think I will stick with most of the time my whole deal, design, execution everything in-between, before & after is fragmented.  I don't believe most of my quilts spend even a small amount of time in flat full view & I don't use that perspective when planning them.

I guess that is about it.  There is probably more to it, I will probably write about it but unsurprisingly my blogging process is like my quilting process, fragmented.  The only reason I even revisited this theme is the Block Lotto Weekend Update:
The Second Saturday Topic for Weekend Update for May 10-13  is an open-ended invitation to Share Your Process:  How do you do what you do?  Share your process for choosing fabrics, designing quilts, designing borders, adapting patterns to make them your own, using a design wall/floor/other surface, paper piecing, appliqué (hand or machine) … or any other quilting process you’d like to share.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

You know that story about that person held captive...?

I am not the most avid follower of current events.  Or maybe I am.  For example, when CNN announced in a Breaking Story that Queen Beatrix (the Netherlands) had stepped down on April 30th in favor of her son., the words they used were "unexpected" & "unprecedented".  I laughed because Queen Beatrix 1) announced she was stepping down in favor of her heir in January as 2) her mother & grandmother had both done the same.  Kind of the opposite of unexpected & unprecedented, but I have no doubt the majority of CNN viewers thought it was both.

So maybe I should say I am a follower of current events, just not the 24 hour news cycle.  Mostly because the primary focus of ALL the 24 hours news channels is to keep you watching through the commercials.  & to keep you sitting there, they pretend that all news is breaking news.

On the other hand yesterday, was a big breaking news day:  Jodi Arias was found guilty & Arial Castro was charged.  & yes, I watched, well....some of it.  OKay any watching I did of Jodi Arias was accidental.  I am just not interested in what she or her defense team or the prosecution or former prosecutors of similar cases (the fact that so many of those even EXIST is the best argument for news story about Jodi Arias not rising to the level it has I can possibly make) have to say.  That Arial Castro thing was a different story.  I admit I looked for & listened to Charles Ramsey's 911 call (& let me say, you know how so many calls have that recorded voice saying "this call may be recorded & used for training purposes"?  This one really SHOULD be used for training purposes). 

I don't think I need to go into any detail re: the Arial Castro case, the charges etc. except to say remember how it involved what looked to all the world like an ordinary citizen, who it turned out had people locked & chained inside his house...?  That's it, just let that sort of sit there while I tell you about a Not Breaking News Story.  This one should be a breaking news story, but to my knowledge no one is covering it as such.

Let us go now to the sleepy little burg of Prosser, Washington.    It looks adorable, annual hot air balloon rally, vineyard tours & all.  The video on the city website boasts about the city parks, their acreage & facilities.  All of it clearly designed to highlight a happy, healthy population eager for happy, healthy neighbors.  Who wouldn't want to live there?  & of course it is a very different place from Seymour Avenue in Cleveland.  But Tuesday night, Prosser took a step in Seymour Avenue's direction.  Specifically, they reviewed two books that had been available in the school libraries, The Popularity Papers & A Child Called It & removed one them pending further review. The Popularity Papers' vote ended in a deadlock & therefore the previous decision by the Superintendent to let the book remain could not be overruled.  A Child Called It however has been pulled pending further discussion. 

I want to be clear, I am not the biggest Dave Pelzer fan.  I think that a person who makes his living telling people they need to get over their pasts hurts while mining his own for profit & publicity is at best disingenuous.  I know he has a big following & I guess that is great for him, I am just not all hat interested.  BUT.  & this is a big BUT.  There is a world of difference between saying I am not likely to read his books & saying school children should not have access to his book.  Is it grizzly, gory & perverse?  Probably.  Given what I have heard about it & him, I am thinking Dave Pelzer might well agree that it is all three.  It also purports to be the true story of an individual kept captive right under a community's & even a family's nose.  To argue that there is no place for that book, given what has been on the 24/7 news the day it was pulled from library shelves & will dominate for days afterwards, I think maybe the Prosser Board of Education has taken their town's promotional videos a little too seriously. 

Because the best way to prevent this kind of thing from continuing (& if you think there is not another house just like the one on Seymour Avenue somewhere in this country right now, I think Elizabeth Smart & Jaycee Dugard would tell you that you are kidding yourself) is to make sure that everyone is crystal clear that this is not OKay.  Instead of banning the book, I almost feel like the School Board should get a list of the kids who HAVE checked the book out & maybe take a closer look at their home lives.  Prosser's decision to remove this book because it has no educational value implies that such a thing could not happen there.  Which is a great big red flag that it could.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

52 Photos Project: Street Art

Between our house & the town center (I know it is the town center because that is where the stoplight is), there is a median with a crop of protected wildflowers.  At least that is what the sign says.  As far as I can tell, they mow it only marginally less than the other medians.   Also people don't seem more or less likely to throw garbage out of their cars there, so I am not really clear on what "protected" entails.

Over at 52 Photos Project, this week's theme is Street Art.  I realize this is not quite what people have in mind when the think about street art.  The examples given included chalk, stickers, graffiti...  I thought about heading into the next town over, a larger community, built largely around the university.  There is a well known wall of graffiti that sees a pretty high turnover (my high school had a large rock in front of the main entrance in a "spray paint this instead, please" kind of way).  But that wall is already well documented by better photographers than me; it is so well known it even has a Wikipedia entry

Across from that graffiti wall is a median planted with five palm trees, one for each of Danny Rolling's victims.  Which put me in mind of more botanical street art & reminded me of the installation I pass every time I go to the post office or the feed store or any downtown errand. 

It is not as powerful as the two mentioned above, but there is something about those fragile flowers that so many people think of as weeds growing there in the exhaust.  Not all, but many of them are annuals.  This means that if, one year they don't flower there next year they just won't be there. 

It is just that easy to be gone.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Shame, great & small

May is Get Caught Reading Month.  I love the silly months but I think I particularly love this one, not the least because I am often caught reading.  & for reasons I am not clear on, if I am sitting reading a book-in the doctor's waiting room or on a plane or wherever way-too-many people see this as an invitation to start a conversation. 

Last year I was sitting, waiting for my husband who was having outpatient surgery...so you know I was there for a while.  I was reading Julie Zickefoose's The Bluebird Effect, sitting quietly in a room where re-runs of Different Strokes played in an endless loop.  & every person who walked into that room tried to strike up a conversation about how lame it was that that is what the channel was set to & did I know how to change it.  My answers ran the gamut from "If I knew how, I would turn it off" to "Maybe next time you should bring a book".  & every single person to whom I did not say a plain old "NO" & just "NO" wanted to keep that conversation going.  Some of the recipients of "NO" tried as well.  Sooner or later they all stopped trying, more than you think muttering about how unfriendly SOME PEOPLE can be & shouldn't I be just a little bit ashamed.  Because it is my job, as a person in a waiting room to keep them amused? 

In the next few days, I will be sitting in that same waiting room while my husband has the same procedure on his other eye.  I have been thinking a little bit about what to bring. I had thought a Travis McGee book (I am up to Pale Gray for the Guilt), but I live in fear of someone striking up a conversation about the book I am reading & this is Travis McGee country, so it could happen.  Next, I thought maybe Amy Stewart's The Drunken Botanist as it looks easy to pick up & put down. & I might still go that way.


this past weekend I started looking at To Kill A Mockingbird.  Yes, I have read it before.  Many times.  But I was talking about it recently with my niece who is reading it for the first time, in high school.  I guess it has been on my mid since we talked, so I caught a new story that might otherwise have missed:  Harper Lee is trying to get the rights to her one & only published book, quite possibly the most important book of the 20th century, back from her agent. 

The gist is that her "new" agent took over when her original agent, his father-in-law, had to stop representing her because of his own poor health.  As part of the take over, the young-un seems to have acquired the rights to the book, not something her previous agent had needed or, as far as anyone can tell, ever sought.  Now Lee is suing to get the rights back, as well as unpaid fees Pinkus has collected since 2007. 

I can actually see how this happened:  Harper Lee is today in her mid/late 80s.  She has no direct heirs & has lived largely out of the public eye in the same town she grew up in.  I have been present for other discussions when the administrators for more or less lucid elderly people thought the time had come for "some one" to step in, before "something bad" happens.  Sooner or later, the temptation to preserve something for the estate starts to outweigh the understanding that whatever money there is belongs to the elderly person.  & most of the time, the person involve does not live long enough to realize their estate has become more important than what they might want, right now.

I am not even saying this is wholly unreasonable.  In the past few years I have sat not-quite-ringside at some very ugly reading-of-the-wills.  Having no stake gives me a certain perspective, but even I could not say what the right thing to do might be.  In one case a good sized estate had dwindled considerably owing to the estate holder (the newly dead guy when I heard about it) refusing to convert any assets to more conservative investments or anything that might be easily accessed.  He specifically said he was not expecting to need in-depth medical care less than a year before he died.  He was in his 90s.  & the last month of his life cut his estate quite bit what with early withdrawal fees, etc. to pay for not-covered medical procedures & a wheelchair & a therapist to come to the house... 

In another instance an acquaintance was the executor overseeing an elderly relative's estate.  Her will specified the exact amount in a particular account go to a particular person.  But by the time she died, that account had considerably less than she had named.  It was a whole debacle, should money be moved from other accounts & other heirs?  The short version is it has been a while since that account had anything close to that balance & she was certainly opening the statements, if not reading them so the executor decided not to move funds around.  I am sure you can guess who is & who is not speaking to him almost a decade later.  Yes, the money was theirs to do with as they liked...but was that really what they liked?

So let me suggest that you get caught reading Harper Lee's to Kill A Mockingbird & when someone tries to start a conversation you can say "See this book?  Would you believe I am actually reading it?"  & if they still won't leave you alone you can start up a whole in depth tirade about the irresponsibility of the sons-in-law of publishing agents.  Different Strokes might start looking pretty good.

//& in a complete sidebar:  my sister, my mother & her sister (my aunt) all used to carry a remote in their purse that allowed them to lower the volume on any television most waiting rooms.  As far as I know, they still do. 

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Quilt Block Regatta for June 2013

It is hard for me to believe, but the June Quilt Block Swap block is up.  Is it me or has this been a fast four months?  So, the June block, due the last Saturday in June is a boat block, any boat you like, any size you like (the block itself should be 10.5" unfinished/10" finished, but you can make a smaller boat & then size it up with borders). 

While it is possible, even probable most of these blocks will end up in kids quilts, please make boats that could be used in an adult's quilt, try to avoid juvenile fabrics or licensed characters (for example when asked, I nixed a SpongeBob pineapple boat).

For my boats, I used blue for the sea&sky, but you don't have to use blue just so long as you use something that could be sea&sky.  & that you use the same fabric for both sea & sky so that there is a "boats in the foreground; sea&sky in the background" effect.  This will also help a variety of boats in different shapes, sizes styles etc. all work together. 

Now for the boats themselves:  they can be pieced, appliqued, foundation pieced, embroidered....  if I could think of another technique, I would suggest it.  Broderie perse, would also work, if you had a boat fabric & wanted to cut out the boat & use that.  I would also not turn away a small fleet if you preferred to make a single block with several tiny boats...or even a single block with one tiny boat for that matter. 

I made the boat above using 2.5" 1/2 square triangles, a leftover 2" strip & some scraps.  I elimintade the differnt fabric for the wter & made botg sea&ky the same, then added borders to bring it to size.  I used one of the previously suggested boats as a jumping off point but saw no reason to stick to the pattern.  You can, of course, just remember to bring it up to size using your sea&sky fabric.

This is the Facebook Swap Block's June 2013 block.  We swap in sets of five, you send five & get five back.  If you would like to join us, the easiest thing is to ask to join the group (Quilt Block Swap-Every Other Month) on Facebook.  & if you came over from Block Lotto's Weekend Update: Welcome!

Friday, May 3, 2013

Something to do

This is a monster big weekend around these parts. 

First it's graduation which means a lot of people coming & going which is good for local businesses (& hard on local-locals).  But unless you re a graduate or related to a graduate or otherwise student involved, you are not going to make a special trip for that.

Well, this is also my favorite weekend of the month:  the weekend the antique rose place is open.  They only do this once a month because they have other pay-the-bills jobs but once a month it is like a little rose festival.  This is where I got I got my Reve D'Or.  They are out of stock today, but keep checking they are worth it. 

& finally it is the Tree City Quilt Guild's every other year quilt show.  It is not a huge show, but it is still interesting.  There are a lot of outstanding local quilters & what with snow birds, there are a few outstanding not-always local quilters.  Also that snow bird thing means techniques from other parts of the country seem to make there way here & sort of mix together.  Whatever the reason, despite being a local guild show, there is usually something new to me every other year.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

"I'm rewriting the necktie scene without the necktie"

I love movies, just not always the movies people love.  I love to find a movie I can consume, learn the lines, spot the foley errors, memorize props & just generally work my way into the quirks.  One of those movies is not Tootsie.  Oh I like Tootsie, but the only part of it I ever internalized was Bill Murray's line:  I'm gonna rewrite the necktie scene without the necktie.  This has become one of my mantras (you can have more than one, right).  Also it works right into my firmly held belief that the most important thing about, well, anything, should be eliminated, even temporarily, so we can all get a good look at the infrastructure.

Does this sound too.....esoteric?  It doesn't have to be, the thing not there is the basis of lot of humor.  I give you Wile E. Coyote running off the edge of a cliff, still running, the realization there is no infrastructure & then the fall. See how that works?

My favorite absence is having a birthday today (yes, voids have birthdays - why not).  Let me set the scene.  We have a bestseller beach read, summer slasher fare being made into a movie & a young director who has shown so much promise there is almost no way he can live up to the hype.

It is an ensemble cast; let's meet them: the main character was played by an actor who was not the director's choice but wanted the part & at least he wasn't Charlton Heston who also wanted the role & was being forwarded by the producers from Universal Pictures, the other two "leads" were not cast less than two weeks before shooting was scheduled & then finally young actor who turned the role down over & over & over again until his last movie looked like it would crash & burn & now he is just grateful for the job & lastly a Bond villain, who had turned in one of the most impressive roles of any career as a different kind of villain & was now supposed to be the good guy.  Most of the other roles were filled by locals as the whole thing was on location in a not exactly remote but not exactly accessible location, with two infamous exceptions.  Except for the primary female roles which were being played by a stuntwoman who was willing to work in the nude & the wife of the president of Universal Pictures, the studio producing the movie.

So here we are May 2, 1974, in the middle of not-nowhere but not-easy-to-get-to either.  & they put the clockwork shark in the water & he sank like a stone.  & then a fin got bent & it only swam in circles.  Not one of the three models ever worked as planned.  No one knew they would never work of course, so everyday everyone implied a shark thinking it would be added later.  Making the absence of a shark one of the highlights in a movie about a shark.  Happy Birthday, Jaws

& lastly lets make that the word for the day:  esoteric.  Use it in a sentence & BE esoteric.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

52 Photos Project: Microscopic

I posted last week that I have decided to jump in with the 52 Photos Project.  This week's target (I have decided to stop thinking as rules as rules & guidelines as guidelines & assignments as assignments.  I am not getting paid for this so I am calling them all targets.  If there is ever a blog tour on semantics I will be ALL SET).

Like I said:  microscopic.  For those who don't know or those who forgot, my husbands world is mostly microscopic, smaller even.  He is, in short, a nano guy.  Thus my world is full of microscopy in a way most people's just, well, aren't.  Naturally this leaves me with the suspicion that my world is overwhelming microscopic & I have just lost the ability to see it. 

Ah well, here is my photo this week for Microscopic:

I know seeds are kinda obvious for "microscopic" & dandelions are probably the most photographed seeds.  I don't care, I love them.