Wednesday, January 29, 2014

52 Photos Project: All Dressed Up

Yes, I am one of those people.  It started when I went to visit my parents.  They live in CT & I brought my short-haired little dog who had always lived in Fladidah.  So I brought a sweater & she loved it.  She would beg to have it put on.  OKay I actually brought two sweaters, even that first time; I had sense enough to know they would get dirty or wet & need to be changed out.

My parents would put the sweater-not-being worn on the rack in their oven.  We (me & the dog) would come in, I would take off the wet sweater & put the warm sweater on her & she happily adjusted to being a sweater wearing dog.

Then came Hallowe'en.  I started with a little witches hat.  Then over the winter holidays I added in some jingle bell collars (with ankle bells, too) & an elf hat....and a reindeer hat. 

Nowadays they are all too often all dressed up.  I think maybe I have a problem. 

These two lovely geisha are usually very good about posing, but I think one of the adornments on her wig was tickling Lilly's ear.  Good thing Lola was there to check it out.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Tea Towel Challenge towel choice revisited

I know I said the choice was made but I was wrong.  I love that dachshund towel.  I love it so much I don't think I want to live without it in my kitchen, not even long enough to make a quilt of it.  Also -& I don't know how I missed this- it is bordered in rick-rack which I kind of LOVE & don't want to rip off.

So a new choice for the Tea Towel Challenge has been made.  No one who knows me will be surprised that it is all about birds. 

The good news is I had (still have) plenty of fabric that matched the dachshunds so I had not yet bought anything new.  Even better news I have almost nothing in the owl tea towel palette so a trip to the fabric store is definitely on the horizon!  In the meantime, I pulled some from the stash, just for preview's sake.

I really truly am not going to change my mind again.  I don't think.  So.  This is it:  the towel, the sort of dominating fabric that I have kind-of-almost settled on.  & now I am drafting different owls.  More on that next time, or not if I change my mind again. Which is not going to happen. Probably not.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Let's blog about quilting goals

The January Block Lotto-linky party theme is "let's blog about quilting goals" so I guess I will give it a try:

This year I will try very very hard not to throttle anyone because of quilting (thereby making it a quilting goal--see how that works?).  I often start the year with this vow & the only reason I have been successful in previous years is most of my quilting contacts are on-line.  It is hard to put your hands on people on-line.  Also, it is easier to walk away from provocative conversations.

I should clarify that I have never actually punched (or kicked or bit) anyone because of quilting.  I am hoping to continue this record, but 2014 is shaping up to be a banner year.  A certain amount of agida comes from the Facebook Quilt Block Swap & that is mostly OKay.  This is a to-be-expected downside of overseeing a swap group of 200+ people, not all of whom are English speaking & even those that are don't all speak American English (if you think that doesn't matter, tell me quick how many centimeters in an inch?).  There are questions frequently asked, & less frequently, but still sometimes asked more than once...or twice by the same person. 

Recently, I got a message from a person asking for the THIRD time in six months (we swap every other month so that means for the third straight swap) for my mailing address.  She knew she had asked this before & was a little embarrassed so she sent me a private message instead of posting it on the group page (where there is actually a file called Mailing Label).  She had asked this question on the group before (her first message said, "I think I have asked this before"), but instead of risking ridicule...or looking up my previous answer, she messaged me privately.  Because having to read one more message about something I have already answered & answer it again is not at all annoying.  What is particularly sad about this (& anyone who uses Facebook messenger may have spotted this already) is previous conversations are archived together under the name of the person you are messaging.  Which means that right there, immediately above her apologies for asking this question is the answer from last time she asked this question.  So....agida.

The last message asking for my address actually arrived the day blocks were due, so it was moot & also not a 2014 problem.  2014 problems have been blocks for a swap already done & gone arriving postmarked after the due date (which was in 2013 & not in December by-the-by).  When told of the late arrival the swapper blamed the post office for not delivering her woefully under-postaged envelope sooner.  I was not aware the post office could travel back in time -the postmark was the Monday following the swap- so even if they tessered it here, it would still have been too late.  In another envelope, a different swapper sent blocks for a sign-up only swap for which she was not signed up, which was just as well because she didn't follow the directions anyhow. 

Then last week, I had yet another unpleasant encounter with a person claiming to be a representative for a well-known quilt group who was concerned I had used the name of the group erroneously & threatened me with a lawsuit (again).  Among the specific quilt requirements she told me I needed to meet were incorrect minimum quilt dimensions (the dimensions she provided were larger than those specified on the group's own website) & that I needed written permission to use the group's name, well, anywhere.  The text she had trouble with was "among the groups receiving quilts made from 6th blocks are" insert name of group here, along with the names of four other groups because I am apparently attracted to sets of five.  This sentence does not appear in any advertising because we don't do any advertising, it's just a list of groups that have indeed historically received 6th block quilts, some of whom (including this one) have sent thank you notes.  I realize this is a too-many-cooks problem, but it is very off-putting.  So off-putting that after the last time it happened, I successfully avoided this group's color scheme until two of our members (two of our FOUNDING members) asked if we could do another one.  & then I got this Napoleon Syndrome nonsense in my e-mail.  

That's three pains in the ass in three weeks.  Today is the Monday of week four.  I haven't killed anyone so far, but it is not yet noon.  & sorry Sophie, this is probably not what you were looking for when you asked for quilting goals, but this is the one at the top of my list right now:  no punching & also remember remember remember the just under 200 group members who make it worth while. 

Friday, January 24, 2014

52 Photos Project: My Reflection

I almost sat out this week on 52 Photos Project, the prompt being My Reflection.  I have limited patience with what I think of as naval gazing (I know I am in the vast minority thinking that Eat, Pray, Love & that ilk are overrated.  I feel mean saying it, but on the other hand if a person is going to put this monologue out there, some dissension is to be expected. 

We are reading Traveling With Pomegranates for bookclub this month & I am having the same kind of problems (I am sorry you are depressed when you know you have so much to live for & feel guilty & ashamed about being depressed but I am just not all that interested).  My attitude towards introspection probably is not helping here.  I have been accused of being MASCULINE in my views about those things (that's right I said it); I sort of wonder if depression & fear & boredom are all different approaches to the same paralyzing state of mind & a certain amount of "snap out of it" is required on the part of the beholder.

Yea, yea depression is chemical & needs to be dealt with like a disease, because t is a disease.  But there is almost no cure of any disease that is aided by watching the world go by & not getting involved (OKay, maybe addiction, but I honestly cannot think of any other right now & I think we can agree getting involved with the world & avoiding what you are addicted to is what addiction cures are all about). 

Next I am bogged down with the whole not getting as much out of it as you might if you were not depressed being a first world problem.  Maybe this book will dissolve my prejudices....but not so far.  My other lack of enthusiasm re: My Reflection is I have been trying not to stage anything, photographically & let each 52 Photos Project photo happen in the now (yep, I said that too).  There is no natural occurring moment now when I might take a picture of myself (my passport is unused but up-to-date).  I barely look at myself (no this is not self loathing, I'm just busy). 

When in doubt, go semantic.  In addition to being an image or counterpart, a reflection is also a meditation.  Meditation I understand (if that seems in conflict to my lack of introspection let me remind you that meditation begins with nothing.  I am a big fan of things about nothing).

I give you my reflection, in that other sense of the word: 

Last summer when my little dog died, M****** gave me this rose "white pet" & we planted it near the door to the greenhouse (she is buried under stepping stones at the front).  It has been doing well, pretty, unremarkable.  There have been only a couple of blossoms

Enter winter.  It has been below freezing most nights this week (hey, I live in Florida, this is not usual).  I cover all the roses overnight & uncover them in the morning.  Most afternoons I snip a little shaggy rose. 

I have a suspicion it being banked by the greenhouse that is creating this little winter-free oasis.  I have been reflecting on it all week. 

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Some chevrons

I have been trying to keep on top of Block lotto this year (I say this in January completely without irony).  I understand that this year will be less pictorial, more geometric, which I confess is not really my scene.  But I like the idea of working on a year long sampler & this is my year for doing these things (I have EVERYTHING crossed for a baby cow next Dec/Jan & that is going to be quite the time-drain). 
 Maybe I will give it a try....maybe I will try it for the first six weeks & then forget it completely until I unearth it again in a few years.  Maybe I will never start it at all, but at least I did make a handful of blocks to send in. 
The first one I call the chocolate lab chevron, the others are from FQs that arrived here to compensate for international postage.  As it happens, that swap had a black, white &/or gray component & by & large the FQs sent were gray.  Funny how that happens....& thinking myself funny, I made two chevron blocks from a chevron FQ. maybe I will & maybe I won't Mod Mod Quilt-along via Block Lotto.  I think if I do, I am going to have to go in a different fabric direction because I am not sure how I might feel about whatever colors are coming up but I am quite sure I cannot face another pile of rainbow theme blocks in my workbasket right now. 

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

52 Photos Project: Wide Open Spaces

This week at 52 Photos Project the prompt is Wide Open Spaces.  This is apparently not the first time Wide Open Spaces has been the theme.  while I am not exactly struggling with this one, I am not fully engaged either.  My life is a series of wide open spaces:  the view from the back gate across the pasture, the view from A's office across a vast parking lot, the view from the mezzanine at the library across a goodly mix of citizens from students to homeless & back again. 

So.  I have been bumbling around trying to think of a VISTA that I have not yet photographed.  & then it occurred to me "wide open spaces" is a matter of perspective. 

This chickadee is a regular at our feeder.  Probably.  They all look very much alike to me & we have quite a population.  They are especially fond of the millet mix I put in this tube feeder.  They fly in one end, eat their way thru & then zoom back out the other side.  I was taking pictures of that procedure & they didn't look like much (blurry little mounds inside a translucent tube).  Then this one stopped to watch me. 

Monday, January 13, 2014

Sometimes the old way is the right way

I am crazy-stoopid for mummies.  Actually, I am particularly fond of the Victorian/Edwardian et al Egyptologists.  Especially the fictional ones.  So I am double-dog-delighted when fictional sounding things happen in real life Eqyptology.  Which brings us to:

Yesterday (I am a little behind), in 1984.  the restoration of the pyramids had been going, in a word, not well.  OKay, that's two words.  The pyramids had been falling down for centuries & this decay had been accelerated by tourists, pollution, etc.  But fixing the pyramids was not a simple matter; Among the problems:  patches were made from concrete & the water from the concrete was destroying the ancient stones it was supposed to repair & support.

30 years ago yesterday, an international team that was looking into the problem implemented what was the perfect solution.  They stopped using mortar & started repairing the pyramids using their best estimate of how they were actually made, specifically repairing the interlocking blocks with more interlocking blocks.  Since then, the project has stayed on track.  & yes, it is till ongoing because you cannot fix a pyramid & walk away.  Once you start repairing a pyramid, you can expect to repair it forever.

Also, today is my mom's birthday:  Happy Birthday Mom!  At least I am not a day late with that. 

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Books by the yard for June 2014

I had to read The Great Gatsby in high school.  I know a lot of people did; for many it was the first "good book" they liked.  I loathed it.  I did not know I could hate a book so much (these were the days before the g*d-damned fish book).  That book, Gatsby I mean, was overloaded with very heavy imagery- those eyes for instance.  Anyway, one of the images that actually stuck with me was the idea that people purchased books by the yard, choosing volumes with quality spines to match their décor without any thought to the contents of the books themselves.  Which brings us to the June 2014 Facebook Quilt Block Swap Group swap block:  a books for the bookcase block.

I poked my head up & looked around other quilt block sites & there are indeed many different versions out there & they are all pretty good.  But none of them take advantage of one quality our group has that many others making these blocks do not: we can make the same exact same block using the exact same fabrics in the same order (for the first two sets anyhow).  Which means we can make these in bulk.

I will give the formula first & then specific measurements for ONE book; you will need five (5) different books, & maybe more but certainly not fewer:

You want to end up with a block that is, in total 8.5" unfinished/8" finished by the same (if it is a 1/4" to 1/2" longer that is OKay), using unequal parts book versus background fabric (did I mention the background fabric?  I think I might have forgotten.  It should be either white like bleached white muslin or a white on white design.  Please use nothing with anything but white, this way the blocks from different people can all line up on a single shelf). 

The background piece should be less than or equal to 1/2 of the finished block + 1/2" by the width of the number of books you hope to make; the book pieces should be greater than or equal to 1/2 of the finished block +1/2" by that same width.  For my first example, the back ground piece was 2.5" wide & the book fabric was 6.5" wide.  You might want to start with a piece that is larger than 8.5" total & cut it down when you square up the whole block (I know I wish I had).  The next book has slightly less book fabric, slightly more background.  I continued like this, staggering the heights so that every book was distinct from every other book. 

Cut the individual books anywhere between 1" unfinished/.5" finished to 3" unfinished/2.5" finished.  To the help the blocks go together smoothly, please be sure to use a book that is AT LEAST 2" at either end of your row of books.  Also, & this unusual, it is OKay f your shelf is slightly longer than 8.5" (but please not as much as 9"); this should help in piecing the rows together once blocks have been swapped. 

To make one blocks, you will need at least five (5) different books, but how many depends on wide your book strips are.  You should use the same background for all of the books in any given block; you do not need to use unique fabrics for each book in any given block, but please don't use the same book fabric in books that are next to each other.  It is perfectly fine if all five of your blocks are identical, it is even OKay if two sets of fie are identical but please do not use the same books in more than two sets of five.

Now for a word about the book fabric.  You can use any quilting cotton you like, anything at all (so long as it is 100% quilt cotton, muslin etc.; please no canvas, no denim, no voile, no interlock, etc.).  I used mostly single color, blender type fabrics with the occasional pattern; using many busy fabrics pressed against each other makes it hard to see the pattern of distinct books. 

I also went the extra step of making at least one of my books more detailed.  In one case -not pictured here- I added text to the spine (if you do this, please do NOT use the selvage; while selvage block can be wonderful a single bit of selvage in an otherwise selvage free quilt does not work-it shrinks at a different rate, has a different feel; it is more like home dec fabric than quilting fabric).  In the pictures you can see I also added a several strips of fabric along the top of one set of uncut books, effectively chain piecing a more detailed book binding.  You do not have to do any of this, but it adds a bit of extra oomph & maybe raises the challenge level if you are finding this otherwise very simple block.  You can also GOOGLE or BING or whatever book shelf or book case quilt blocks & you will find a number of variations, among them books that are stacked instead of in a row or books that lean....  These are all great but they are not what we are swapping.  if you decide to go whole hog & make an entire bookcase though, you could certainly make some of these different blocks for your own use. 

Books by the yard is the third Facebook Quilt Block Swap Group block of 2014.  Blocks are du in-house the last Saturday in June (June 28, 2014).  As always, we swap in sets of five, send five blocks & get five back or increments of five (You can include one or more 6th block if you choose).  If you choose to send more than two sets, please please please do not send two or more identical sets of blocks; be sure to use different book fabrics & different orders.  

Friday, January 10, 2014

52 Photos Project: Something Really Small

This week has been another month-long week here.  We have had weather (yes, I know everyone has weather) that required special prep & then, when it passed, special breakdown.  Not really adding to my pile, but certainly adding to our uh-oh levels, our next door neighbor was taken to the hospital on Monday.  She was moved out of ICU yesterday & I was able to visit, but she probably won't be home for a few days. 

Back to the weather.  I know two days with overnights below freezing (& at least a few daylight hours above) are not big deal to most people.  Here it is quite the headache, mostly because this kind of weather is so rare, there is no real long-term planning for it.  Let me give you a for instance:  three years ago we had a week of after dark freezes.  A friend of mine was living in a traditional cracker house.  Yes, there is such a thing & one of the primary characteristics is they have an empty gap between the round & the floorboards. which means no slab & more germane to this story no insulated plumbing.  this means turning off the water at the pump & draining the pipes before they freeze & not turning anything back on until the temperatures rise again.  V** has learned to live with the ice cold shows (no water in the water heater means no hot water), but in 2012 the thaws occurred after she had left for work, which didn't really matter as she would have had to drive home early to turn it drain the system & all off again before that night's freeze.  Not just no hot showers, but no showers period.  Also, no washing your hands, no flushing the get the picture?  She too quite a few showers here & ate out a lot that winter.

I know it is popular to think people who live like this are too poor to live any other way & many of them are.  In V**'s case she is a legal secretary & not without options.  That same up off the ground characteristic meant she never had to deal with termites (the plague of wooden houses here), she had fewer concerns during flash floods (even just a few inches of standing water can destroy your house, but not hers) & her a/c bill was a fraction of anyone else's.  In short most years her house was better than ours, but not when it gets colder-than-average.

Enough about that, right?  We do not live in a traditional cracker house but our water pump is still exposed, as is some of the house plumbing & all the livestock tanks.  During a hard freeze, the challenge is to keep the pump running enough that it doesn't freeze up, ditto the floats in the stock tanks & generally make sure water continues to move more or less all night long.  We do this with a series of orchestrated drips at the outer reaches of each water line.  This is the biggest outside tank & the something really small that meant it continued to function.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Tea Towel Challenge towel chosen

I decided to join this year's Tea Towel Challenge because I have a surfeit of cotton kitchen towels.   Then I used the excuse of the TTC to acquire more towels.  This is how it went:

My original plan was to use a 2014 calendar towel I found late last year, but the more I thought about how long it would take me & how much I would rather just have the towel for the whole year, the more I thought I should keep looking. 

& keep looking I did.  I went through my cache of towels.  I have more than I realized but most of them are solid colors (& most of those are white).  If i ever go in for embroidering tea towels I am all set. 

There are others I set aside....for a bit, mostly souvenirs from places I have never been including one fantastic "Sheep of Great Britain" (I think) towel that the people who used to live in this house left behind in a drawer. 

I also looked on-line & found all kinds of towels that I liked (including a real-life-sized scrabble board, natural I ordered two & sent one to my mother) & a gardeners schedule towel (also got one for mom) that I would have used but it was linen & I didn't want to deal with linen.  Also it is a coarser weave, which I REALLY didn't want to deal with.

Then I found it.  The perfect tea towel.  Perfect for me anyhow because it has dachshunds.  I know this picture is shabby, but I wanted to get it in the wash so I could get started right away.  & by right away I mean maybe next week.

By no small coincidence (& by that I mean no coincidence at all), it is in a muted color scheme that I love.  I already have plenty of fabric for this, which does not man I won't take my new tea towel out for a drive just to see if anything else matches better.  After all, it would be a waste not to use that little polka-dot banner at the bottom to do some matching, right?

Thursday, January 2, 2014

52 Photos Project: One photo from the 1st day of 2014

This week's 52 Photos Project works nicely with my preferred photo....ethos?  Yep, ethos.  let's let that be the word for today ETHOS: shared fundamental traits. 

The assignment is one picture from yesterday, it being the first day of 2014.  & here is my first day picture.  I actually took three pictures of the same....subject, but this is the best one.

I bet you are wondering what kind of News Years Day we had: ever since we put in the new bigger water pump & tank our showers have been getting colder faster.  This is not recent, but it has recently gotten cold here & I want to take a hot-Hot-HOT shower.  So A said he would turn up the thermostat on the water heater.  Which meant he has to shut off the power to the water heater.  Which brings us to....

We had a our kitchen remodeled late 2012 & as a result of that there was some rewiring, codes having changed somewhat since the original wiring circa 1977.  We carried over the info from the old circuit breaker legend (also circa 1977 & pictured in that lovely photo to the right).  But it turns out it still wasn't quite right.  Specifically, some circuits had changed pre-kitchen remodel & not been recorded.  Some were always a bit strange (my sewing room, a handful of other outlets on the same side of the house & the exterior light by the front door are all on the same breaker). 

Just to make things a bit more exciting, it took us a little time to remember that on the original floor plan, my sewing room was the master bedroom (the room we use as a master bedroom was originally the worlds smallest bonus room that a previous owner carved up, creating the worlds smallest walk-in closet & a very small bathroom, but a small bathroom in which we can now have hot showers). 

In the end, I took the picture of the old moldy, damaged label & used the camera settings to highlight the notes & deemphasize the grime.  Then we flipped every switch & checked it, learning some new things we didn't know along the way.  During the kitchen remodel, we learned the range hood & the range in the kitchen was on the same circuit as the master bedroom closet.  Yesterday we learned that the range is on its own circuit (in compliance with current code), the microwave is now also on its own circuit & so forth. 

We found the water heater, turned it off, turned it up & turned it back on & now we have nice hot water.  Which was wonderful, because it was a chilly rainy day.  Last night while we were all happy & cozy, we discovered the roof is leaking.  Apparently 2014 is going to be the year of water. 

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

The new year in books

I have said I am not much for resolutions.  But I am a huge fans of lists (I also like songs that count).  I like numbered lists & consecutive lists...oh those lovely lists.  So it should be no surprise that I make a Goodreads book count resolution type thing every year.  Or at least every year since I joined Goodreads. 

2013 was a good book listing year.

2013 Reading Challenge

2013 Reading Challenge
Marybeth has completed her goal of reading 125 books in 2013!

If it looks like I am some kind of over-achiever, I promise that is just not true.  I read more than I said I would because I include picture books on my list & I want to mark them READ & there is no way to exclude them from the list.  Unless I leave off the end date.  Which I am too crazy to do.  So a good chunk of that overage was read in under an hour.  Well under an hour.

& finally I thought I would start off the year with a Word Of The Day.  Today's word is OVERAGE.  It is not the same thing as "over age" which is a different thing, but not entirely.  It means
the above & beyond count in product.  or money.  Too fixed asset-y?  OKay, it is a surplus of goods.  For a long long long time this was considered a good thing (I grew up in Reagan's America), but maybe more isn't better. 

Who am I kidding, more books read is always better!  So in 2014 I am going to read....130 books.  give or take.