Monthly Archives: December 2009

Quilts, Finished and Started

Here’s the quilt I’ve been talking about for months. I made it for my brother for Christmas. All the fabrics in the top are from Extra Special Fabric in Guthrie Oklahoma.

Western Prints Quilt

And here’s a close-up.

Western Prints Quilt Close-up

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And here is a corner of the top (before I put all the layers together) for the one I just started quilting yesterday. I forgot to say before that I’m calling it “The Compromise Quilt”. (because it has wildlife prints for my husband and pink for me) These fabrics are from various different sources. The border fabric is from Sager Creek Quilts in Siloam Springs, Arkansas. The bright pink solid is from Fabric.com. I can’t remember, specifically, where I bought the others.

The Compromise Quilt

Twenty-Ten

Someone on Twitter said, “This decade began with Y2K and ended with WTF.” Indeed. How the world has changed, and yet not changed, in this decade. For me, Y2K is sort of a mile-marker. (or something; not sure what to call it) Every time people start getting all worked up about the latest Imminent End of the World As We Know It, I think of Y2K and how everyone was all worried and stressed out over it and then… nothing much happened.

Of course, the reason that nothing much happened was that a lot of IT people worked a lot of overtime to make sure nothing much would happen. But there were a lot of ridiculous worst-case-scenario predictions that could not have happened in any case. The problems we have today are sort of like that. They are real problems; they’re not just something groups of evil conspirators made up for the purposes of power and control, as some people think, but many of the claims of what will happen if we don’t Do Something! are ridiculous and the level of anxiety is way, way out of proportion.

It’s always that way. Nothing ever turns out to be anywhere near as bad as the worst case scenario and yet we keep on getting worked up about stuff over and over again. The really bad things that happen are almost always unexpected. Maybe we think that if we worry about everything nothing can take us by surprise but there will always be something we didn’t think of, or something obvious that we ignored while we were getting all worked up over something that would not happen.

So I would like to tell the world to just relax, but no one’s going to listen to me, especially not the people who most need that advice. The worst thing about this is that our lawmakers only listen to people who are worked up about stuff and they react and try to give those people what they want whether it makes any sense or not.

Oh well. Four paragraphs later and I’m not where I intended to be. Strange how that happens sometimes. You just start typing and there’s no telling where you’ll end up. This has been a pretty good year for me, and a pretty good decade. I know it hasn’t been for everyone but looking back on hundreds of years of history, in spite of some genuinely bad things – 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, the Asian Tsunami – it honestly hasn’t been all that terrible.

I decided to look back and see what I had so say last year at this time and found this post from December 29, 2008. I think I like that post better than this one.

One thing I wanted to be sure to say – and this is the reason for the title – can we please say “twenty-ten” not “two thousand ten”? No? Probably not. It seems like I’m hearing a lot of the latter and not much if any of the former.

It’s slightly stunning to see “2010″ everywhere. We’re actually entering the second decade of the new millennium! Remember how excited we were ten years ago – how happy, upbeat, hopeful? So much has changed since then. It hasn’t turned out like we expected. Now we talk about “hope and change” and there’s something a little bit desperate about it. Or maybe a lot desperate. To me, though, the new millennium still seems new and cool (Far out! I’m living in the future!) and it feels strange that we’re this far into it.

Yesterday I pinned together the layers of my next quilt and started the actual quilting. I am quite excited to have started it before the end of this year. I have a picture of the top that I’ll post later. I’m already thinking ahead to the next two quilts. It’s going to be a good year.

Sir Patrick

Patrick Stewart is to be knighted. That’s cool; congratulations to Sir Patrick; but, as I always think every time an actor or pop star is knighted, it really doesn’t take a lot to achieve knighthood. It seems that any British citizen whom the queen likes is qualified. I guess I don’t have any particular problem with that. Just an observation.

Goodies

For some reason, this year we do not have the usual horrifying amount of treats and leftovers. I did bake a couple of pies and a fruitcake (shut up) but the pies are gone now and the fruitcake is almost gone. The difference is that hardly anyone gave us food this year – no huge tin of popcorn, no candy or mixed nuts. I guess that’s a good thing but it somehow seems wrong that we’re not overwhelmed with food, mostly of the bad-for-you variety, so, in our weakness, while we were at the store picking up a few necessities, we bought a couple of things.

We bought a tray of marked down Christmas sugar cookies that were way, way too sweet even for me but the really interesting thing that we saw and couldn’t resist even though we were a little bit afraid of it was jalapeno* peanut brittle. Wow! That was, surprisingly, really really good stuff. The first small piece I tried was, initially, a bit of a disappointment. It tasted just like regular peanut brittle and I was thinking, “Where’s the jalapeno*?” but then about half a minute later I get this pleasantly warm sensation. Wow. I want some more.

Sadly, though, it is time to return to the boring routine of responsible eating. On the one hand, I’m not ready to give up grazing on goodies, but on the other, I’m feeling rather like a blob. I have been avoiding the scale but I look down at my various bulges and think, “Is that bigger than it was last week?” So, unfortunately, no more peanut brittle for a while.

(* Dammit! I know there’s a code for the “n” with the “~” but it isn’t on this list anymore along with a lot of other stuff that used to be on it that I need once in a while.)

Oooo Pretty!

I started this sometime before Christmas. It was going to be a list of pretty things that I just happen to come across online but I haven’t been doing much surfing lately and these are the only two items I have found. Maybe later I’ll do another “Oooo Pretty!” list but right now I’m clearing out my drafts.

I’m a Little Teapot

Tulip Socks

What Every Woman Needs

Many weeks ago Andrea found this list of 30 Things Every Woman Should Have Before She Turns 30 and gave it a good and proper fisking. I was briefly inspired. Since I’m naturally the preachy, know-it-all type, and I am certainly qualified, I thought I could come up with a better list of 30 things, but I couldn’t even think of 10. So I left it in my drafts and ignored it for a while. Now, this last week of the year, I’m coming back to it and doing a little editing and adding a few items to finally finish it. 12 seems like a good number.

I’m not saying that I had all of these by the time I was 30 and I’m not going to say which ones I did or did not have. I’m just saying that looking back from where I am now, I know you need these.

1. A good bullsh*t detector – This was on the other list (#23) and I commented that it should be #1 so here it is. Actually, everyone should have one of these starting as early in life as possible.

2. A lifetime supply of drama repellent (hat tip)

3. Self-awareness – I don’t mean this in the scientific sense; I mean it in the “don’t point to the mote in your neighbor’s eye while ignoring the beam in your own” sense. In other words, be aware of when you are the problem.

4. A sense of proportion – Be aware of the actual importance, or lack thereof, of various things, desires, losses, disappointments, irritations, frustrations and incidents in your life. Hint: 99.99999% of things are really not that big of a deal.

5. Big Girl Panties – For those few times when something really is a big deal, you need to deal with it in a quiet, mature manner without any added drama.

6. A good sense of humor – Learn to see the funny side of things that really aren’t very funny, because laughing is healthier than being perpetually outraged.

7. At least 100 books that you have read – These should be mostly fiction in whatever genre you prefer but should also include a few “horizon expanding” books – books that are different from what you normally read – and at least a few classics.

8. Rose colored glasses – You should take them off once in a while to remind yourself of what the world is really like but there’s nothing wrong with looking at the world through them most of the time. Life as an optimist feels better than any of the alternatives.

9. A healthy sense of detachment – Not everything is all about you; in fact, almost nothing is about you. When you find yourself taking things too personally stop, back off and try to look at it from a different perspective.

10. At least one conservative outfit (dress or suit) in a dark or somber color – There will be times in every life when such attire is appropriate (important job interviews or other, sadder, occasions) and when those times come the last thing you’ll want to do is spend time worrying about what to wear.

11. A good iron skillet – When I was 20 I was sure I would never want an ugly, heavy iron skillet. After wearing out several shiny new “non-stick” skillets I decided that iron skillets are the thing to have after all. The iron skillet can also serve as a metaphor for all things tried and true. Very often, simple, old-fashioned things are better than the fashionable, “new and improved” versions.

12. A proper sense of loyalty – First, know to whom you should be loyal. It’s a short list: husband, close family, best friend. (Perhaps a few others, but husband (if you have one) and family should come first.) Give these people your help and support when they need it. You might sometimes need to tell them things they don’t want to hear but do it as kindly as possible and always in private. Never undermine their efforts or belittle their dreams. Never gossip about them. And never use your loyalty for purposes of reward or punishment. Loyalty that can be withheld for whatever cause, real or imagined, is not loyalty at all.

Just No

Techno Bach. I suppose it’s true that Bach’s music sounds good no matter what you do to it but my inner purist says this is wrong. On the other hand, if it gets a few more people to listen to Bach…

Christmas Toys

To quote Captain Reynolds, “How come it never goes smooth?” My most expensive, and potentially most fun, Christmas gift was a USB turntable from Number Two Son. I feel a little bit bad about him having spent so much. I had thought about getting one but I have barely enough old records to make it worth the price. But anyway, today I finally got around to trying it out and we can’t make it work. Our best guess is that the Audacity software that came with it is not compatible with the version of Windows that we’re using. The booklet says, “…the input volume control may not work on some individual Windows versions. Windows Vista is recommended…” DOH!

Just a temporary setback, I’m sure. There must be compatible software out there somewhere. (or, possibly, we have something already) Audacity looks like it would be very easy to use if it worked and that’s another thing to be bummed about because I’m sure that whatever we find that does work will be difficult or annoying in some way.

White Christmas

Our front steps on Christmas Day:

My front steps, Christmas Day, 2009

This was also taken Christmas Day. We stayed in most of the day but did have to take one little trip in the morning. This photo illustrates the diversity of the Oklahoma countryside. This was taken just a couple of miles away from tree covered hills, which you can see in the distance.

Oklahoma Highway, Christmas Day 2009

We had our main Christmas festivities on Christmas Eve. We went to a small gathering of relatives. After raining almost non-stop for days, it finally started snowing when we were on our way home. We – the husband and I, two sons, daughter-in-law and grandson – opened gifts at our house.

On Christmas morning we woke up to about six inches of snow and it looks like it’s going to stick around for a while. Christmas day and the weekend were nice lazy days. We did get out for a little bit and saw lots of people sliding around on the ice. I’m going to try to enjoy being “snowed in” for a while. I will post more pictures later – snow pictures, quilting pictures, and maybe even a cat picture, and try to get back into the swing of regular blogging.

Christmas Dislikes and One More Song

I love Christmas but even I can find a few things to complain about. If I thought about it I could probably come up with as many as ten but I will limit it to these four:

1. Scrooges and any kind of Christmas cynicism or negativity.

2. Complaining that “People have forgotten the true meaning of Christmas.” Why can’t it mean different things to different people? Does it change the meaning for you if it means something different to someone else?

3. Modernizing Christmas. Christmas – the music, the decorations, everything – should be Victorian or earlier. The only exception is electric lights, for safety reasons. Everything else should be old-fashioned. Because that’s just the way it is.

4. Blue Christmas – I hate to use the word hate but I hate, loathe and despise this song and for some incomprehensible reason it is the only Christmas song by Elvis Presley that the radio stations ever play. Why, oh why?! Why in the name of all that is good and right would they play that, instead of this beautiful song?

Have a wonderful Christmas. (or whatever)

Christmas Music

This has long been one of my favorites but, surprisingly, I had never heard Nat King Cole sing it before. This is a beautiful video.

Of course there are many more performances of this song on Youtube. This is interesting and very good.

Quilt Update

Well, the fabric store in Tulsa did not have wool batting. They had some before when I didn’t need any so I guess I should have known they wouldn’t have it when I do need it. So I came home and ordered it immediately. The estimated delivery date is between Dec. 29 and Jan. 5. I should be finished with the top long before then unless I slack off, which would be easy to do right now.

I am tempted to start acquiring the stuff I need for the next quilt. I’m hoping to get at least three quilts finished in 2010 (Wow, that feels weird, typing that.) which I easily should be able to do but I would like to get better organized and get more done. I hate to use the “R” word (resolution) but the new year seems like a good time to turn over a new leaf, to change my routine. Now, my Internet time is first thing in the morning but I’m thinking I should make this quilting time instead. I need to make a new curtain for the window next to the computer because the curtain that’s there now is very thin and this time of year the sun shines directly in my face when I sit here in the afternoon.

My notion of what I should be able to do and what I actually do are far apart. Every time I start a quilt I start mentally calculating how much I should be able to do in a day and set a tentative deadline and I feel very enthusiastic about working on it and getting it done but then my deadline gets closer and I see that I’m not going to make it. I don’t think the failure to meet my deadline affects me too much. I still keep on working at pretty much the same pace but I really wish I could make reality meet my expectations.

Avatar

We saw Avatar Friday night. We went to the late screening with our oldest son, daughter-in-law and grandson. I think that’s the first time in my life I’ve ever seen a movie on opening day. (I won’t post any spoilers but if you’ve seen the trailer you can easily guess how it’s going to go anyway.)

It was visually awesome and worth seeing for the CGI alone, which is a good thing because, sadly, the story was juvenile, unoriginal and morally repugnant. It was merely another version of the typical Greedy Corporations and Evil Military Trying to Kill Peaceful, Spiritual Natives and Destroy Their Perfect World story. Being juvenile and unoriginal wouldn’t bother me so much; my biggest problem with Avatar is that the Marines are portrayed as the bad guys in a way that is so unrealistic it’s hard to believe that anyone is even capable of dreaming up such a thing, much less believe it, and yet, I know some people do see the military this way and that is what’s disturbing.

It’s hard for me to understand why they would go to the trouble and expense of making such a visually beautiful movie and not try to have a story that is equal in quality. Maybe they spent all their money on the CGI and couldn’t afford to hire a real writer.

Still, in spite of its faults I would recommend this movie to anyone who is interested in science fiction or action movies. In fact, I’m really hoping I get to go see it in 3D. Younger and more sensitive kids might find it scary but I think it’s okay for any child who is used to seeing action movies. However, I would recommend a “Don’t believe everything you see in the movies” talk afterwards. (The words “sh*t and b*tch are used a few times but your kids have already heard these in school anyway.)

This ‘n’ That

I think I’m going to take a break from my “regular features” until the new year. I haven’t collected a single quote for my weekly “Quotes From Here and There” and “taking a break for the holidays” seems like a good excuse. As for other blogging, I might or might not be more intermittent than usual. I probably will post some more Christmas music videos, maybe a photo or two and other odds and ends.

I’m not terribly busy right now; Christmas shopping and wrapping is mostly done; but I don’t feel especially motivated to come play on the Internet lately. I’m really into the quilt I just started. I’m still working on the top. All you mad quilters out there are probably thinking, “What, still? She must be hand piecing.” No, I work on an old treadle machine, which is just a little slower than an electric machine and I’ve only been working on it one to two hours a day but I should be done with it in a couple more days. I still haven’t bought the batting yet. I think I can get what I want in Tulsa. I will probably be going there this weekend so it won’t be a special trip just for the batting. If it turns out that I can’t get it there I’m going to be very disappointed that I didn’t order it as soon as I decided on the kind I want because Amazon says that “processing” takes an extra 4 or 5 days. There are other places I could order it from but I don’t know if they’d be any faster. Once again, I’m probably being unreasonably optimistic but I’m hoping I can get this one done by March.

I’m already thinking ahead to the next quilt. (and the next and the next) I’m planning several more to give as gifts. I should start working on tops. So far I have always done one quilt at a time – start and finish one before starting another (Well… except for the scrap quilt I abandoned halfway through.) but from reading quilting sites I gather that it’s more normal to make a bunch of tops and put them away for later quilting. The actual quilting is the most fun for me – that and the planning. Cutting and piecing is rather tedious. I need to get better organized storage-wise. I’m not sure where I’d put tops if I made them, other than just stuffing them in the box where I keep fabric and scraps.

Several things I’ve found recently:

Dances With Wools is a knitting and “related fiber arts” blog. Some very nice stuff there – I like to look even though I don’t knit – and I can’t resist a cute blog title.

The Moonlight Quilters of Sonoma County have a very nice site. Looks like they’re still working on it. When you click on Image Gallery it takes you to a page that says “Coming Soon”. But there are a few photos on the Annual Quilt Show page, (That one on the left is very interesting) there’s a Block of the Month page, a nice little links page and more. Music starts playing when you go to their home page but it’s very nice music so I won’t complain too much. Maybe I’ll even listen sometime when I’m not already listening to something else.

Myke Amend steampunk and fantasy art. Awesome. I like this painting, though it’s not exactly what I would call “cute.” Okay, maybe a little. (Click on the image to see the large version.)

How to Dominate a Cat. Excellent article on cat behavior. It begins, reasonably enough, by saying that you can’t dominate your cat, at least not all the time, but then it has a lot of very good suggestions for getting along with your cat.

Notre Dame. A nice and very fun artwork.

Artist Kris Lewis. (some paintings NSFW) To be honest, most of these paintings do not appeal to me. Most of the people in them look drugged or hung over. The most notable exception is Low Tide. I am quite taken with it. This boy has personality. He looks like a little brat, frankly, but still adorable. I’m sure he has his moments.

Skinny Quarters

A rant about bad pre-cuts. I haven’t used any of the narrow strips she’s talking about but this matches my experience with fat quarters, which are often not quite as fat as they’re supposed to be. I prefer to buy a half yard of fabric instead even if it means I have too much. The ladies in the fabric stores tend to err on the side of generosity when cutting fabric to order so you’re more likely to get an inch extra than an inch short and you always get at least what you paid for.

Nosing Around

I guess you could call this a “how times have changed” moment. I remember when I was a little kid – and I mean little, like five years old or so – using a Vicks decongestant inhaler. My mom (or maybe it was my grandmother) just gave me this thing to carry around in my pocket when I had a stuffy nose, to use whenever I felt like I needed it. (Ever wonder how any of us survived to spawn today’s more “enlightened” generation? No? Me neither.) I haven’t seen one of these things in a store in decades but whenever I get a stuffy nose I think how nice it would be to have one instead of taking drugs that make you drowsy and raise your blood pressure or “vapor” cough drops that leave a bad taste in your mouth.

You see, I was assuming that these things just had something like mentholatum inside. Not so. They do contain menthol and camphor but the active ingredient is Levmetamfetamine so I had to look that up and found that Vicks is fudging a bit on the name. It’s actually Levomethamphetamine. Yikes! Now I know why they’re hard to find. But why don’t they make something like what I was originally thinking this thing was – no scary drugs, just nice vapory menthol and camphor for a quick, though temporary, clear-up? Seriously. How can they not do something that obvious?

Beads

Paternoster-Row. The history of rosary beads. Interesting.

From at least as early as A.D. 1000, rosaries, paternosters or similar strings of prayer beads have been a common accessory carried by men and women, old and young.

Indeed, the small round objects we know in English as “beads” were named from this practice; the root of the English word bead is the same as for the word bid, and originally meant “to pray or request.”

Art Blog

I guess one of the good things about getting older and losing your memory is that you find fascinating surprises in your bookmarks. Apparently, I bookmarked Blood Milk just a few days ago but I don’t remember it. It was probably something I came across and bookmarked without even really looking at it. The art there is mostly not the kind I’m attracted to but it is fascinatingly weird so I guess, in a way, I am sort of attracted to it. Some is NSFW.

Crafty Blog

Make It… A Wonderful Life is a wonderful blog featuring all sorts of crafty things, even recipes. I like the quilts. The sock quilt is very cute and I absolutely love the abstract blocks quilt – a great way to use up all your little scraps. Here’s another lovely quilt. Being in a major quilting mood right now, these are the kind of blog posts I’m most attracted to.

Steampunk Art

Here is a beautiful art site. Click on the marbles at the bottom of the screen to navigate. Many different objects. I’m not sure if they’re intended to be “steampunk” but they sort of have that vibe.