Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Cotton Robin teaser

I have sent off the quilt top with the second row all done...Finally.  For the Cotton Robin.  Maybe I should have opened with that.  Way back when, I sent in a center block & then got someone else's, added a border, sent it on, & got another one with a first border already added.  Then today, I sent it off.

Where was I?  Sent off the Cotton Robin quilt, Right!  I had hoped to be early, but at this point I am just happy to be on time.  True confession time:  when I first saw the centers there were a couple I that really inspired & that scared the crap out of me.  Don't get me wrong, it is lovely.  Even lovelier in person actually.  But this block was not in my wheelhouse; it wasn't even on the same boat.  Ship.  Whatever.  & then it showed up in my mailbox.

Now the good news:  I am not a completely incompetent piecer.  I'm actually pretty good.  Most of my triangles have no more & no less than three points.  But more important, I like to think I also know when to spot a better one & the good news for EVERYONE is a much better piecer put round one on this very scary block & all I had to do was stay out of her way.  To that end I decided to go small & simple. Real simple.  Now I am worried too simple.  Because this is what I do. 

Several people have posted slightly altered glimpses (weird color filters, mostly) of what they have done, but just a glimpse so no one can really recognize their own center.  My teaser has nothing of the center.  It doesn't even show but a bit of the row that came before & certainly nothing telling.

It also DOES show some of the double-wide outer border I put on thinking it would be cut way-way down. For myself, I like to quilt off an edge that will be cut away when I can.  It saves trimming all those threads & gives a nice uniform  more-or-less seam free stuffing for the binding.  So this teaser includes at least some of what very likely won't be there when the quilt it finished.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Let's Blog About Fabric, part two

Last week, I did my Block Lotto linky on the theme About Fabric.  You can go there or I can give you the highlights:  I like NOVELTIES, the more off beat the better & I like to use them where plenty of other people would use a nice traditional whatever.

I was in the fabric store earlier this week...yes, an actual quilt shop.  I went because I have not been in a long time & I wanted a nice outing.  Also, their café makes a lovely lemon crème cake.  People who know me in real life will understand just how sick I have been:  by the time I was done shopping I just wanted to go home; I didn't even get the lemon crème cake to take-away because I just didn't want it.

But that is not what this post is about, it really is about fabric & it really is about my love of novelties.  It is also about my never-ending, often unfulfilled quest for....

Let me back-up.  I don't make many baby quilts, but when I do I rarely stick to baby fabrics & I almost never use anything with an actual baby on it.  & the reason is most of the babies in my world are not the blonde blue-eyed bundles that seem to dominate baby fabric.  It is true that I myself was a blonde, blue-eyed bundle....I still am actually.  I am, to be frank, the whitest person plenty of people have ever met, including many many white people.  I am white.  The babies I am sewing for are more often than not not. 

The bulk of my baby quilts go to grad students who have babies currently (at the time of the birth) in my husband's research group.  The number of his white grad students who have had a baby while under his watch:  exactly none.  This is mostly because his grad students are mostly not American, never mind not white.  They are Chinese, Japanese, Filipino, Indian, & more & that's just right now.  Until very recently, the white students that even dated another white student were almost unknown.  You want to see the great American melting pot?  Cruise the graduate student lounge of a physics department.

Then there is my own social life.  More & more of my friends (who once upon a time WERE mostly white- you will probably not see the great American melting pot in an undergraduate English lit. & poetry program) have married people who are not.   & their kids are marrying people who are not.  & so it goes.  I have long exhausted almost all (I think all actually, but you never know what might be buried in there) my white-kids-only fabric.  I am trying to replace I with kids-of-all-colors fabric & this is the challenge:  there is not much out there.

For years I relied on the people at UNICEF; they used to have a line of fabric featuring lines of children in many different traditional costumes.  I used the last of it here.  For a long time I hoarded some ordinary yellow fabric with ordinary babies in diapers crawling around on it; what was extraordinary was that they were very clearly white, African/African-American & Asian babies.  I doled it out in the tiniest squares & still have some squirreled away.  I will happily share much more expensive fabric, discontinued, whatever...even my beloved hotdogs but you will have to pry that yellow baby fabric from me one quarter yard at a time.

Still, there absolutely is more than there used to be.  Last year I discovered some Russian nesting dolls fabric with all kinds of kids...girls.  It was a strange choice to go multi-racial (yes, yes that part of the world has been mixing a while, just nesting dolls?  They are so not multi-ethnic) & bought as much as I could carry way.  Which brings me up to my recent trip to the quilt shop. 

They had this (they don't anymore):  many ethnic mermaids.  I wish some of them had afros, but otherwise this is perfect-o as I have a mermaid obsessed white friend who will someday have a baby with a latino father & a black godmother & my only wish is I don't end up giving this quilt to a little boy!  & yes I would do that, his mother is the mermaid freak after all, but it would be nice to have some choices.

So here is my request: Dear fabric company president designer person.  Could you please think about mixing it up a bit when it comes to skin & hair in your juvenile novelties.  Anthropomorphized animals are all well & good, but ordinary people doing ordinary things would be most welcome.

//in an interesting side note, my husband has been trying to get an American student he worked with in a summer intern-type thing to come here for grad school.  The student is as American as he can be--that's right Native American.  Still not white. 

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

What would Donald do?

Donald Sinclair was one of the more beloved characters in 20th century literature.  His business partner wrote a series of short stories about his own life, which was closely entwined with that of Sinclair.  Those stories became books, the books became a movie & the movie grew to become one of the most successful book2television adaptations, well, ever.

& one of the highlights of the books & the programs was the author's interactions with Sinclair himself.  The man was famously eccentric & generous & much beloved.  Sinclair was so insulted he considered this characterization the biggest test of their friendship, but he did manage to put it behind him insisting that the writing was exaggerated.  Others however, including the author's son (who later joined the same firm, so in addition to knowing Sinclair all of his life, he was able to interact with Sinclair much as his father had), said that the character was toned down because Sinclair was so extreme he would not have been believable.  In a different sort of twist, Sinclair became good friends with the actor who portrayed him, despite his belief that the portrayal was over the top. 

Sinclair was born today in 1911.  Like I said, he had a career, was made famous by his business partner's literary portrayal of him, but other wise lived if not a quiet ordinary life, certainly a life without fanfare.  His first wife died, something not particular well known as it happened before his famous partnership, but he & his second wife were married for more than 50 years.   He tried to become a pilot in World War II, but through a series know what, it doesn't really matter why, he never did.  Because his profession in private life was considered vital to the stability of the country, he was returned home without seeing combat. 

His younger brother, also a "character" died about four years before Sinclair did, then that same business partner died & less than four months later his wife died.  Two weeks after that, Donald Sinclair deliberately overdosed.  He was 84 years old. 

What did Donald do?  He gave us the gift of himself, warts & all.  We know him as Siegfried Farnon. 

Saturday, April 19, 2014

52 Photos Project: Clouds

This is the last one, the last 52 Photos Project topic is Clouds.  Earlier this week it was very rainy, so a picture of clouds was a piece of cake.  Just what I needed, something simple that I could do from home.

I waited for a break in the rain & here it is, the view from our back yard:

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Let's blog about fabric

My cough lingers, but most of everything else that has made me so uncomfortable has fallen away.  Not a moment too soon, either, as I am behind on way-too-many things.  So naturally I spent  a good chunk of my first real feel-good day in the sewing room.  & rounding it out with a Block Lotto-Linky Party post about fabric.

I don't know that I have anything to say about fabric that I have not said before...over & over again.    I am addicted to novelties, the more off-beat the better.  Flamingos on bicycles, mushrooms doing arithmetic.  FYI: I am still looking for more of that hot dogs dressed on barbecue aprons barbecuing hotdogs that I am almost out of, so if anyone happens across some let me know.

Lately I have been on a Thursday Next themed fabric quest.  Clocks & cheese (not, alas in the same print) have been easy.  More difficult is fabric with dodos, Neanderthals but I am optimistic.

People often ask what I do with novelties & the answer is pretty much everything you would do with a not-novelty.  Block patterns of large simple graphic shapes work really well with crazy patterned fabric.  One of my favorites is an old Block Lotto block I have made more than once.  Most recently with saturated pink roses (boring!), but also successfully with simple chickens in head kerchiefs speaking French (good stuff!). 

My novelty addiction started small.  Well, not small, but specific.  I was cruising through a book, The Modern Quilt Workshop & I discovered the Story Quilt.  It is clear that this quilt was probably designed for a child, but I didn't see it that way.  Right away it looked like something I wanted to make & wanted to keep. 

As it happens I have never kept one, but I have made them for all kinds of people, including kids...& mothers (my mother!) & physicists (my husband, my brother).  It is my go-to quilt when a new small-person (they aren't all babies, some of them are adopted internationally) arrives in my circle.  Years ago I posted this picture of one I made for a brand new baby girl; this time next month she will be a big sister.

In those early days, my novelty fabric purchases were limited to what could be viewed in a 3" square, but those early days were brief.  Almost immediately I began to expand the images, which meant expanding them in the quilt.  usually I limit most squares to 3", but I toss a few 9" squares in there for fun. 

& that's all  I've got.  Oh wait-I keep my fabric sorted by themes, mostly:  people, buildings, scenery.  Within some categories I have sub categories.  As in aquatic- animals- mammals.  Most of my fabric is out on open shelves, one shelf deep from the ceiling.  This way I can see it with tripping over it, or I would be able to if I ever put anything away.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

You don't belong here

Like many people, I have been watching the pre-Boson Marathon coverage for the past couple days.  I have also been cough-Cough-COUGHING which I alternate with bouts of lying around moaning & while it would be an exaggeration to say I have been watching a lot of tv, the box has certainly been on.  That's right, I'm sick.  So sick, I missed the Friends of the Library book sale, the open house at the native rose nursery & C******'s birthday.  No books, no plants, & no cake. 

While in my weakened state, I began to notice a common thread through some of the people-stories that have been airing lately.  So without further ado, here it is, my list of recently-brought-to-my-attention illegal aliens...undocumented non-citizens....whatever you want to call them. 

Lets start small, with one of my favorites.  Pamela Anderson.  Oh sure, she is legal now, but when she first came here she wasn't.  She was spotted by a person who spots potential Playboy Playmates (that cannot be the real job title, I hope) & invited her to the US for a photo shoot but didn't go to the trouble of securing a work visa.  Anderson was stopped at the border, searched -seriously, searched- & the letter asking her to come work in the US (yes, what she does...did, is working) & was turned away.  In the end, of course, the paperwork was filed, Anderson did come here & take that job away from some other hard working American & the rest is history.  Except for the part about her being illegal, because while she tried to be an illegal alien, she got caught at the border.  Really.

The entertainment industry also gives us Charlize Theron who was doing OKay here illegally, until she started to get noticed professionally & then got booted & had to work her way back through channels. 

Who could forget Arnold Schwarzenegger used to be illegal?  Pretty much everyone as it happens.   Schwarzenegger came here on a strict no-employment-type visa.  & then found a job, collected a salary & never paid taxes on any of it, not even when he came clean to run for governor.

One of the more infamous illegals was Angel Reséndiz, better known as the Railroad Killer.  We left Houston in August 1998; he arrived in December of that same year.  Also, we lived near a railroad track, so I am delighted to have missed him.  On the other hand we had then, & still have, what I consider to be an excellent crime deterrent:  big, barky dogs.

& last but not least, the man who probably should have been at the top of the list Carlos Arredondo, legal name Alexander Arredondo.  Arredondo did not become a legal citizen of this country until after one of his sons had been killed in combat, through a provision allowing parents of service members killed in combat to apply for citizenship.  At that point, he had been in this country for more than 20 years.  Since becoming a legal citizen, Arredondo has been very active protesting policies he does not agree with, including the war that killed the son that allowed him to become a citizen.  Last year around this time, he was doing just that when a bomb went off at the Boston Marathon & Arredondo became one third of one of the most iconic photographs of that day; he is the one in the cowboy hat.

Living in Florida, I might be more up close & personal with former aliens than most Americans (I married a former legal alien 20 years ago, long before I ever imagined I would live here & long after he was naturalized).  For starters, there are two important people in my wider-life that would not be in it if it were not for the Mariel boatlift.  One came over then & one was born here a year+ later, that's right an anchor baby.  So maybe we are more used to aliens.  On the other hand, V** has been living with her boyfriend for a good long while.  Every so often she is asked why they haven't gotten married, doesn't he want citizenship?  He is Puerto Rican.  Puerto Ricans have been officially recognized citizens of the US since 1917, longer than Hawaiians, longer than Alaskans.  Yes, yes white Alaskans were recognized as citizens in 1867, but Native Americans were not until...I couldn't find the date actually but it must have happened by now, right? 

Yesterday was one of our most well-known American citizen days:  Tax Day.  It was also the first day of Passover. In off-man-made-calendar news, there was a full moon & a lunar eclipse.  Today is just plain old April 16th.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

52 Photos Project: Petals

It has been almost a year since I decided to join the 52 Photos Project & the second photo I posted was of a dandelion.  I decided that this time around, second from the last, for Petals, for symmetry, I would revisit the dandelion:

Monday, April 7, 2014

A funny lesson was learned on the way to the NCAA championship

Saturday night there was a basketball game.  & I actually of it.  Part of the reason it was on is the university next door was one of the contenders.  Another reason it was on was the underdog was our alma mater.  Let me be clear, neither one of us cared all that much about the results.  I also refuse to accept that many people care in any long term way. 

My evidence?  I have been wearing this badge on this lanyard for several years in plain view & the number of people who have remarked on it amounts to exactly two.  & they were married to each other.  & that was more than two years ago.  Since then, nothing.

Let's roll this back to a few months ago.  I posted what I thought about the education a person thinks s/he is paying for & the education s/he actually gets (& in many cases needs).  I don't care if you don't want to read it, the gist was that the lessons you get on the side are just as useful as the ones you had to sit faced forward for. 

Which catches us up to last Monday.  On that day a handful of individuals petitioned their professor for extensions, make-up exam/quizzes etc. because they were going to spend the end of the week...& the week-end...over 1k miles away.  Their team was heavily favored  & the plan was to extend this to include the final game tonight.  The argument was that this was a once-in-a-lifetime experience to be there when their team took the title & that a university education is a complete experience & being there for landmark events is part of that experience. 

As it happens, this particular professor believes that this is absolutely true.  & that part of growing up is learning to make choices & that all choices have consequences.  Sometimes you choose to skip the basketball game & study for the test & do well,  sometimes you still do lousy, sometimes you skip the test, take the zero & have a story about how you watched your team go on in victory.  All of these are choices & all of them have consequences. 

So the students went to the game & that is fine.  They took zeros on the quiz in question, but as the lowest grade gets dropped, a good student had no reason to consider that a problem.  The ones that had iffy grades (if there were any, I don't actually know) sacrificed the lowest grade drop, but it was theirs to sacrifice.  Those who decided to go made their choice:  the most important thing was to be there when their team won & went on to the final game.

The underdog won. 

Saturday, April 5, 2014

52 Photos Project: A Day In My Life

I am almost at the end of my year of following along with 52 Photos Project, only two more to go after this one.  I think.  This week it is a day in my life which is not particularly anything really, except I wanted to take all the pictures in an actual day & I am not in the habit of bringing my camera with me. 

Struggle number one:  remember to bring my camera when I walk out the door.  The assignment went up sometime Sunday, it was Thursday before I got my act together.  Maybe this is because Thursdays are more predictable than most as it is my usual on campus day.  But plenty of things happen before that.

The short version is I forgot my camera.  This seemed like an excellent opportunity to learn to use the camera on my phone.  I did take a few pictures of my workspace (nothing thrilling-almost the same as the pictures I took a few weeks ago, except would you believe another floor-to-ceiling cabinet has been added to that center row?), so there is no point in posting my less than spectacular new photos.

But I did manage to take a couple pictures of the work I am doing now (specifically matching old index cards wit wood specimens in drawers that are mostly in order...or were when they were last accessed which was mostly in the mid-80s. 

When I left the herbarium I felt like crap.  This is typical of herbarium days.  Between the chemicals to deter the bugs & the frigid temperature to preserve the specimens, I know I look ridiculous walking to the car.  It takes about that long to warm up & breathe clearly even in the tropics. 

But it turns out there was another reason I felt like crap.  By the time I got home, I could not stop shaking.  At 7:30, I had to go back to campus to pick up A.  I brought Sadie with me & we sat on the hill & watched to door to the loading dock until he came out & said her name.  She went nuts. 

I have been in bed (except when I have been "unwell") since Thursday night & got out jus in time to watch a college basketball game.  Which was an accident, really, that just happens to be when I got up.

So this is all I have to document my day.  It was, aside from being sick, a normal Thursday.