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February 5th, 2008

06:24 pm: Happy Birthday, DFO
 I don't know how to do much on Live Journal (which works fairly well, since I basically DON'T do much), but I did want to wish DeepForestOwl a happy birthday.  And I know  this isn't the traditional LJ way, but hey--I don't really give a rat's ass.  So JJ:  HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!

July 15th, 2007

09:47 pm: SMG strikes again
Yup.  Don't know what I'm doing or not doing to attract the Sewing Machine Genie, but it won't let me get the thread up from the bobbin.  Which makes it kind of hard to sew.  So all I really got done on my project was to cut out the two rectangles for my simple top.  Cut one out w/ the rotary cutter but did the second w/ scissors.  I seriously doubt I will ever be a quilter--it's too damn hard to make the fabric square.  But the rectangles should be ok for a non-quilted top.  Wonder if Sally is back from vacation.

Allen has successfully made it through the first 3 days of MO2NO.  He's called a couple of times a day thus far to assure me of his continued well-being, although today he reported saddle sores, which could develop into a major problem if he's not careful.  He stayed at a motel last night and caught up on his tv viewing, so I don't have to save the season premier of Psych or the 2nd episode o;f Burn Notice.  I forgot to ask him if he watched Monk.

And I'm still hacking and coughing.  Took one of my drugs from last spring before bed last night.  It stopped the coughing but I couldn't go to sleep--at about 3:30 I remembered why I never took it after 7pm, so I got up to knit and drink wine for an hour.  Found an open bottle of pinot grigio, but it was not very good.  I did finally go to sleep though.

This evening at UU I finished the knitting on Hannah's garment.  Now I just have to do the sewing part on both hers and Sophie's.  I may have to enlist Terri Lilly to model so that I can see how far to sew.

I managed to wash clothes and towels this weekend, so am feeling fairly virtuous.  I don't have to do very much actual work to maintain a positive self-image, which is fortunate, since I really don't do very much actual work to keep up the homefront.  (I work my ass off for my job and never feel as though I've done enough.  Ah, well, perhaps it balances out.)

Time to knit or read or something.

Current Location: at my computer (duh)
Current Mood: cheerful
Current Music: Counting Crows--Big Yellow Taxi
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July 13th, 2007

09:57 pm: 1 of 8 (days of focused anxiety)
Today at 5 am my spousal unit took off on his Great Adventure, biking from MO2NO.  He expects to arrive at his sister's house in Pearl River, LA (near Slidell) next Friday.  The next morning he will complete the MO2NO ride by biking to New Orleans proper to the Café du Monde, where he will brunch on many many beignets (starch, sugar & grease--yum.  The perfect breakfast for the carb-starved biker.)

I am happy for him.  He's been planning and looking forward to this trip for months (literally) and I hope it's everything he desires in an adventure.  I also devoutly hope that none of my Worst Case Scenario nightmares come to pass.  This next week is going to be hard on my nerves, so it's probably a good thing that much of my waking time will be devoted to curriculum review.  That should be enough to numb my imagination so that I'm not a total basket case by the time he arrives--Ojalá--at the Café.

Curriculum review has taken up much of my week.  Last week I just got sicker and sicker; finally went to the doctor on Friday and got some antibiotics.  I picked up a second course on Wednesday.  I am feeling better, but am still plagued by the cough and accompanying gagging, puking, general congestion that ruined my fall semester last year and threatened to ruin the last half of spring semester as well.  It seems that every time I travel I catch a cold which evolves into this upper respiratory shit that transforms talking (and therefore teaching) into a debilitating activity.  Next week's project:  to persuade my doc to refer me to an ENT specialist.  (Will I do this before or after I have my car worked on--to the tune of $400?  ¿Quién sabe?)

Tomorrow I hope to work on my 2nd sewing project, a simple top.  Simple in the sense that it is essentially 2 rectangles sewn together.  Not so simple, perhaps, in the sense that there isn't an actual pattern other than the measurements I worked out w/ Sally Blankenship, my mentor.  She's out of town, so the second potential complicating factor is the SMG:  Will it torment me when my mentor isn't around to protect me?  Will the thread wrap itself around the needle?  Will the fabric attach itself to itself in ways I cannot even begin to fathom?  Or did my success with the simple skirt defeat, or at least weaken it?  We shall see.

Fiber activities:  While on the east coast I made a little wool hat w/ bobbles for our December sale.  "It's...orange,"  said aardvark gumbo when I submitted the hat to him for approval.  "It's autumnal!" enthused Hannah, when I showed it to her.  Daughters are much better judges of Creative Projects than husbands, in my experience.  Then I showed Hannah the gift for Sophie.  "When do I get one?" she asked.  So now I'm working on hers, which is both similar and different.  Hopefully I will post pictures of both daughters wearing both garments...eventually.  I still have a fair number of UFPs (Unfinished Projects): 4 scarves, 3 hats and, always and forever, Peggy's Sweater.  I should just start working on the sleeves.  Perhaps if I have the damn thing in hand I will get some inspiration for how to do the neck/collar line.  While in Maryland I bought Nicky Epstein's book Beyond the Fringe, but I don't really think there is anything in there to suit this particular sweater.  Nicky's a bit too frou-frou for me much of the time, although she does some neat stuff.

There is also a sweater I have barely started (about 5 years ago) that I just need to rip out.  Or maybe I could knit it for Cabell.  But even if I do that, I think I'll rip it out and start over with something a bit more concrete in mind for the design.

Reading:  Before leaving for the coast I finished Kingsolver's book and started Water for Elephants.  I finished this before the plane landed in Baltimore; it was not terribly deep, but it was well written and engrossing.  I recommended it to Sophie and we bought it for Hannah's birthday.  Then, at the Salisbury MD Barnes & Noble I bought (along with my 2 knitting books) a novel called Ghostwalker about Isaac Newton and a series of murders, connected to a modern storyline w/ parallel violence.  It was interesting but not involving, but good enough to get through.  Last night I finished Michael Ondaatje's latest, Divisadero, which has even less plot than his previous books.  It is more a meditation on identity and loss than a novel, but his language is so beautiful & his images so evocative that it is still well worth the read.  It did not, however, match either The English Patient  or  Anil's Ghost in sheer narrative power.  Tonight I will probably start a novel by Orson Scott Card that I found at the Salisbury B&N.  I haven't liked his recent stuff as much as the first Alvin Maker books or the first two Ender books (2 of the best novels in all SciFi, in my opinion), but I figure it will be readable.  I also have waiting in my stack the most recent novels by Michael Chabon and Chuck Palahniuk and The Road by Cormac McCarthy (I will  have to feel particularly strong to deal w/ the bleak perspectives of Chuck & Cormac) and a memoir by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.  Although what I should be reading are books on Professional Learning Communities.  Oh,. well.

Wednesday night Allen & I went to the Harry Potter movie and I was pleasantly surprised.  It probably helped that I really didn't remember too much from the book, but the pacing was very good and the acting excellent.  Imelda Staunton is truly wonderful (and utterly hateful in her role as Prof. Umbrage).  And I love Michael Gambon.  Even though I am sorry Richard Harris didn't live to make all the films I really think Michael Gambon is better as Dumbledore.  The climactic battle scene is filmed very well, btw.

While Allen is away I may go see Transformers.  He has no interest.  I am pretty sure it's not much good, but the special effects will be wasted on a tv screen, and anyway, I've always liked monster movies.  Allen wouldn't go see 1408, so Hannah & I went.  I think we were both disappointed; after reading the reviews I really expected more.  Identity it was NOT.  And having seen the Coming Attractions several times in the past week I see that Neil Gaiman's Stardust is going to be released.  I read it, but nothing in the previews other than the wall looks familiar to me at all.  Not that I remember much from the book other than that I was not tremendously impressed, even though I tried to be, for Cabell's sake.  And I have some hope for The Golden Compass although, as always, there's a good chance it will be ruined in its journey from page to screen.  I wonder if any of Terry Pratchett's disc world books will ever be filmed?

Time to call the dog (in hopes that she hasn't run off in search of the elusive Meat Loaf in the Sky) and go to bed w/ Orson Scott Card.

Current Location: at my computer (duh)
Current Mood: anxious
Current Music: fans
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July 3rd, 2007

03:01 pm: I'm home & I'm sick.

Yes, I'm back, as of yesterday afternoon.  Saturday evening began having a sore throat & itchy cough, didn't sleep at all well (had taken 2 Tylenol cold tablets, which gave me a really unpleasant drug buzz & wouldn't let my brain shut down), felt like crap on Sunday, took Nyquil that night and slept like a log...for about 2 hours, then woke up every hour until about 8 am, one of the longest nights ever.  Felt slightly better after finally getting up & going to the airport 3 hours early, expecting ultra-security.  Took about 3 minutes to get through, nothing special, no one checked the hotel shuttle.  There weren't that many people in the airport at 9:30; maybe things got a bit more stringent later on.  By the time we got home, however, I was feeling pretty crappy again and took an afternoon nap. Caught up on several tv shows in the evening, thanks to TVO, but was not in the mood to start season 3 of Deadwood, courtesy NetFlicks.  I am excited though.  Took Nyquil and slept better than the previous night. 

A few days ago Allen let Tallulah run free on a particularly hot afternoon.   Not unpredictably, she bothered the neighbors again  but left before Allen got there to take her  home.  She still hadn't turned up the next morning so he went looking and found her down by the old Lutheran church (as opposed to the newer one just down the road).  The minister's family had given her meatloaf for dinner.  So obviously we can never let her run free again, since she seems to have the memory of an elephant and she does love her meatloaf.  Or decomposed rabbit.  Or anything else vaguely edible.  This morning, unfortunately, Allen opened the door for her BEFORE putting on her leash, so she escaped.  He didn't find her before going to work so I got up around 8 to go look for her.  Found her at the Hollys' house (the neighbors 2 doors down who are, no doubt, beginning to hate us) and brought her home.  I'm thinking we're going to have to fence off a dog yard.  I just can't imagine keeping her tied up for the rest of her life.

After bringing her back I returned to bed and slept for another 4 hours or so, interrupted mainly by Finch, who joined me periodically to lick me.  Which drives me nuts, and not in a good way.  She finally got the picture.

Got up and knit, ate some almonds and now I'm doing this.  It's a crazy life.  I still feel mildly crappy, but maybe we'll go to a movie tonight.  Allen has to go back to down to get his bike back from the shop, where they are extracting a bolt.  It should come out from the anesthesia between 5-6.

I'll post about the MD trip when I have a tad more energy.  I will say that it wasn't a bad trip, but neither was it entirely satisfyingfrom my point of view.  But then, I don't know what would have made it more satisfying, so why whinge?

Current Location: at my computer (duh)
Current Music: fans
Tags: ,

June 25th, 2007

10:58 pm: last post for awhile
Well, I've watched episode 4 of Robin Hood; it's only the second I've seen.  It's ok, but not like what we watched in the 80s w/ Michael Whattzits.  I'm sure Cabell remembers his name.  He was replaced by Jason Connery, who was not overly impressive in the role.

Tomorrow I take a plane to Baltimore.  My ex-sister-in-law will meet me and take me back to her mother's house in PA, and the following day we will drive down to Princess Anne, MD.  The plan is to meet my sister & her family (& my brother), who are renting a house there.  I couldn't afford to fly my entire family out plus pay the $900 for a house for us for 4 days, so June & I are staying in a Ramada Inn in Salisbury, about 14 miles away.  This will give us some privacy.  At some point we will scatter my mother's ashes, or at least some of them.  I may keep some here in the ceramic box that my friend Julie made for me, which is decorated with lilacs, a flower Mummy was very fond of.  I was originally going to take the box w/ me but It's very heavy and I wouldn't want to put it in my checked bag in case it broke.  So it will just stay here.

I'm less than excited about this trip.  I would rather stay put and sew.  I'll only be gone 6 days, but then the week after I get back I have to report to 2 weeks of work , revising/re-writing the district Foreign Language curriculum.  And then it's off to New Orleans and possibly the Alabama beach and then to St. Paul to visit Sophie.  All very nice, but too busy for my taste.  At least I shouldn't have to get up at 5am until mid-August.  And then I'll have to get up at 5 for 9 solid months (weekends barely count they go by so fast).  Maybe I'll retire.

I did finish my skirt; got it hemmed and ironed last night.  I plan to wear it for the Scattering (Look, Mum, I actually made a presentable garment!).  My 2-hour skirt only took a week to make.  Of course, my machine was at Sally's house the whole time, and we only really had 3 sessions of sewing (or was it two?).  My next project is a top for which Sally & I (mostly Sally) designed a pattern, but I don't think I'll get it cut out before I leave tomorrow.  We have to leave here between 9:30 & 10:00.  I should get up around 7 to pack, shower, trim the fringe of the scarf I knit my sister-in-law last fall but didn't send her because I hadn't fringed it yet.  Now I have, but it's a tad uneven.  A quick fix, however, what with a rotary cutter and a ruled cutting pad.  Ah, the glories of modern sewing!

Tonight we had a few  people over for dinner.  I thought it up and Chef Eddie (aka Allen) executed it beautifully:  Pseudo Yucatan Pork w/ orange slices, 2 kinds of tortillas, a green salad & a bean salad (both brought by guests), and strawberries for dessert.   All well lubricated w/ red wine & beer.  It was a pleasant time.  Preparation in hot humidity, the muggy best of Swampeast Missouri, was not so pleasant:  After pouring pine cleaner on the bathroom floor I had to improvise, because the mop proceeded to decompose in the act of mopping.  It doesn't help that sections of the bathroom floor also seem to be decomposing.

And now I think I'll knit a bit on Sophie's thingie and maybe read a bit before going to sleep.  Have started Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen; pretty good so far.  See you in a week (even though the motel has free wireless Internet, i am one of the few members of my family not to have a laptop.  And, frankly, though I wouldn't mind having one, there are other things I want more.)


Current Location: at my computer (duh)
Current Mood: blah
Current Music: fan breezes
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June 21st, 2007

08:24 pm: a productive week
All in all I've had a fairly productive week, although I have not yet contacted the TPRS presenter, which I should have done last Friday.  I should also contact our new French teacher, who's apparently very gung ho.  I hope she has a more collegial approach to teaching than our previous instructor.  Who probably is just shy and/or terminally insecure, but the very thought of her is enough to piss me off.  Not very Unitarian of me.  She also, it turns out, is marrying the best friend of the brother of Hannah's boyfriend.  6 Degrees of Separation.  Or something.

I have had a couple of sewing lessons, although they've been somewhat truncated.  The only thing left to do on the skirt is hemming it, which Sally says I should really do by hand.  And I really hate hand stitching.  I mean REALLY.  Perhaps I will lay out a pattern tonight to take to tomorrow's lesson.  I'm also getting my hair cut tomorrow, so I'll be properly chic for my trip to Maryland.

I finished my 4-day watercolor workshop today; I've enjoyed it a lot.   Abstract art may be my metiér--I'm no good at producing anything that actually looks like something, at least not on purpose.  However, when I play with color and texture shapes emerge.   I like the way you can blend color with water color and keep going back to alter things.  If all else fails you can just put the paper under the faucet and wash it all down the drain.  Judy Westrich advises simply turning the paper over and using the other side.  But I did neither of those things.  In fact, two of the watercolors I liked least eventually turned into two of the ones I liked most, whereas one of the ones I quite liked turned into something that is merely so-so.  I'm actually going to frame several of them.  How's that for narcisism?  Next summer I'll take one of her acrylics workshops.  I don't see myself taking an evening workshop during the school year; I only have a limited amount of energy to spare.

I've been knitting quite a bit, though I haven't worked on Sophie's present for over a week, nor  have I done much with the diagonal scarf.  As for the other 10-12 Works in Progress, let's not even go there.  What I have been working on is a log cabin modular thing, which started out as a potential shawl, then I thought maybe I would make a big carpet bag and then felt it, but then, after showing it to Sally, decided to make a cropped kimono jacket.  The back piece is complete and I have just started one of the fronts.  The main yarn is Iro yarn by Noro, which I've had for several years and with which I have started several projects, only to rip them out because I only had 5 skeins of the Iro.  A year or two ago, I think when we were in the Twin Cities to attend Sophie's graduation, I went to the Yarnery (well, I go there every time I'm in St. Paul) amd bought some Malabrigo yarn in bright purple and bright orange, to pick up some of the colors in the Iro.  And that's what I'm making the squares out of, Iro & Malabrigo.

And Malabrigo is an interesting name for a yarn, meaning, as it does, bad overcoat.or poor shelter.  But the colors are brilliant and deep and the yarn itself makes up very soft.  I have to use a double thread, as it's not as thick as the Iro, but they go well together.

This morning I revised the syllabi for Spanish 2, 3 & 4.  I always change things a bit, but I don't usually get around to doing any preparation for the school year until August.  It does give me a feeling of accomplishment.  I have also been working on some bellringer assignments.  I need to go to Lowe's to see if they have the plastic link chains and/or clips.  One of the teachers we observed in Lee's Summit last spring used these for her stuffed animal collection, which is not nearly as extensive as my own.    I'm trying to figure out how to make my classroom a little less crowded, and removing the 2 tables whereon lives the menagerie would be a good start.  And I think our old CD rack will do for some of the books I have.

Maybe I'll read a bit more of Animal, Vegetable, Miracle now.  It's still interesting, but I'm developing a craving for some Terry Pratchett.  When is he going to write a new novel?  I also have Michael Ondaatje's new novel.  Not that we lack for reading matter around here; if, when we retire, we barely have enough money for food and medicines, I will still have enough yarn, fabric and books to keep me, or at least me if I were less acquisitive, happy for years.  Although I recently decided I can never retire, because I have a lot of clothes and where would I wear them?  And I like clothes!

Current Location: at my computer (duh)
Current Mood: thirsty
Current Music: Music in my head (mostly the sound of the fans hitting me from 2 directions)
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June 18th, 2007

10:15 pm: The flowers I forgot.
So I realized the other night after posting that I tagged my entry floweres (among other things) and never actually mentioned any.  Day lilies were on my mind, as Allen and I drove up to the Ironton area to visit his ol' iris & day lily buddy Elvin Roderick.  Allen calls him Al (but you can call him Betty), but I wonder if he doesn't actually go by El.

Allen has already posted about  how Al is going to cut back on his breeding because he can't keep up with it.  What he can't keep up with, I suspect, is not the cross pollinating and associated breeding tasks, but the weeding.  They have the most beautiful property.  You couldn't properly refer to it as a yard; it's more like the grounds of their, well, rather ordinary house.  When I imagine Wretched Excess (the house I plan to build on the 200 acres I plan to buy when I win the lottery) the house is abut 15,000 square feet, which the Rodericks'  ranch is definitely NOT.  However, what their house is is very welcoming and liveable, with an extended kitchen/dining area, through whose floor to ceiling windows you can gaze out over much of their lawn, gardens, fish pond and woods.  All immaculately mown, weeded and otherwise tended, by two charming people in their 70s.  As I told Allen, it's the sort of setting I would love to live in.  And, actually, we have enough land to manage it.  But even if we were both retired, I know we would never maintain such manicured beauty, partly because Allen prefers a wilder, lower maintenance property, and mostly because we--that would be I, primarily--are just not likely to spend a huge percentage of our time weeding.  And it must be practically a full-time job.  I wish I had taken my camera to take some pictures, it was just so lovely.  They have a patio out back with a trellised roof covered w/ shade cloth.

In addition to many gorgeous day lilies, they still have some iris, sunflowers, regular lilies and lots of unidentifiable (by me)  flora.  Also, many trees and shrubs.  Their Japanese maples were badly damaged during this spring's freeze.  They have cedars (weeping and otherwise),  redbuds, and lots of other trees around the house, with practically a forest in the acreage beyond the koi pond.  They lost all their big koi to river otters released into the area by Fish & Game a year or two ago,  although they have some growing up (for the next pilgrimage of otters, no doubt).  And they have many bird feeders and many birds just swooping through and singing, many more than we see here.   Almost makes me want to retire and become a gardener, until I remember how stiff I was for days after weeding half of the very small UU garden bed.

So, obviously, when I win the lottery and Wretched Excess is ours, I will definitely have a gardening staff.

Current Location: at my computer (duh)
Current Mood: contemplative
Current Music: none, Allen's sleeping

June 17th, 2007

11:33 am: Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: Another look (and other stuff too)

I am now about halfway thorugh Barbara Kingsolver's latest book and I'm thinking that I must have been a bit cranky when I wrote my previous post.   I still believe her book would not persuade anyone not already inclined towards her point of view, but I don't think such readers would be interested in the book anyway.  She still gets a bit evangelical for my taste, but...

I just finished the chapter on making cheese from scratch, and I think I may suggest to Allen that we try it.  I used to make yogurt on a regular basis, back before I even knew him, and cheese doesn't seem like a huge step.  He uses yogurt often, anytime the recipe calls for sour cream and for various other culinary improvisations.  He is lactose intolerant, but we both eat a fair amount of cheese.  The high point of our trip to Spain a couple of years ago was, for him, eating bread, cheese & olives and drinking cheap--but good--red wine.

Overall, I am enjoying the book quite a bit.  I particularly like the contributions of Barbara's older daughter, Camille, who offers a kid's perspective on growing up w/ hippy-dippy parents.  Our three daughters did too, of course, but neither Allen nor I is as pure an activist as Barbara.  In fact, tempermentally neither one of us is really suited to activism, and as a result we (or I, at least) suffer a certain amount of Liberal Guilt.  I also am the product of a mother who didn't really expect much in help from husband or children in managing the household, which is one reason I am such a bad housekeeper (an original meaning of the word SLUT, by the way)..  The other reason, needless to say, is that I am bone lazy, especially when it comes to physical labor.

Kingsolver's discussion of the differences between her (my) generation's experience w/ food preparation & appreciation and that of her (my) parents' generation isn't relevant to me.  My mother hated to cook.  She reminisced about food she loved that her mother, father or someone else from her childhood prepared, but she marveled at how anyone could eat, or even want to eat, in the quantities that most people did.  (My mother ate like a bird.  Really.)  She also routinely made comments on the order of "Food is greatly over-rated."  She smoked from her late teens or early 20s, and I'm sure she had largely destroyed her sense of taste by the time I was aware of it.  Plus my father only wanted meat, vegetable and potatoes, all of which were always overcooked.  Not that I realized that, until I got out into the world where food was not routinely overcooked.  I did always really like dinner cooked by my Aunt Mary (my father's sister), on the rare occasions we visited New Jersey.  She used fresh vegies, unlike my mother, who used canned & frozen vegetables almost exclusively.  The only exceptions were  lettuce & tomato, the latter sickly store versions and the former... well, I've never been much enamored of lettuce.  And artichokes and palta (aka avocado).  These were the only fresh vegetables available in Chuquicamata (most desolate desert on the face of the earth, remember, Faithful Journal Readers?), and when the family moved back to the States she never switched back to fresh vegetables except for those four.  Oh, five; I forgot carrots.

So, although there were things I liked, such as her cheese soufflé, which Allen will not make because he thinks it's greasy and disgusting, and her onions baked w/ cheese, or, for that matter, her eggs baked with cheese (more greasy disgusting dishes, in Allen's opinion) I mostly wasn't that wild about food either.  Going off to college obviously didn't change things; the offerings at the Student Union weren't that enticing.  But at some point I figured out how to steam fresh vegies and that particular food group moved from the bottom of my preference list to the top.  For various reasons Allen took over most of the food preparation in the latter months of my pregnancy w/ Sophie, but I can still cook if I have to.  I make excellent salads, which do not emphasize lettuce, even the home-grown we get from Janzow Farms.  We just can't keep up w/ the lettuce!

Rereading the previous paragraph it seems obvious that we need to start making cheese & I should make the onions & egg dishes that Allen so despises.  For those dark days when he's not around to cook for me and when I usually eat take-out or tv dinners.  (His trip to New Orleans looms ominously ahead; not only will I have to constantly worry about him being dead in a ditch, I will have to fend for myself culinarily.)

On the sewing front I have had my second lesson.  Friday morning, before going into town, I found a pattern w/ only ONE pattern  piece.  It had to be used twice, but still.  I had washed several pieces of fabric the day before, so I chose one and pinned the piece.  At Sally's I marked it appropriately, cut it and pinned and cut it again.  Sewed up the seams.  Sally sewed the waist down for the elastic casing, which is where we stopped.  I may go back this afternoon if there's time before UU.  We need to figure out the recurring problem w/ bobbin tension, which might be the machine, the thread i bought (it's rayon, which perhaps isn't the best for sewing on cotton?) Yesterday Allen bought me an adjustable height table for cutting fabric and I made myself a little corner in the middle classroom for sewing.  It strikes me that eventually the principal's office will have to be my sewing room, although it will be rather cramped.  The middle classroom is going to be a kitchen/dining/great room.  Where we will put the two double beds now there (and which we really need to accomodate guests) is anyone's guess.  I think if we're going to do major remodeling we should consider ways to make the stage in the basement useful, either as a sewing studio or guestroom or both.   Of course, if the principal's ofc became my office I could dispose of my 2 desks + computer table and make that section of the bedroom into a sewing studio.  Now, THAT seems like a good idea, and one what I could institute with a fair amount of  reorganization in 3 rooms but minimum construction, if any.  Maybe I could even get a small window A/C for the office?  Ooh, this is sounding better all the time.

Wonder how old I'll be when any or all of this gets done?  (She asks, recognizing that the Beloved Spousal Unit will be doing the lion's share of the work.)

Perhaps I'll take a cool shower.  In the absence of A/C my options for reducing sweat production are limited.  Ta.

Current Location: at my computer (duh)
Current Mood: hot
Current Music: Kate Rusby
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June 14th, 2007

09:59 pm: another post

Yesterday I had my first sewing lesson.  That's if you don't count the lessons I had about 40 years ago from my mother, which resulted in my vowing never to use a needle w/ a hole in it.  Not only did the thread always get tangled up in the works when I was attempting to sew something, it reached the point that if my mother was sewing and I walked into the room the threads would get all tangled up.  Some young women have poltergeists.  I had the SMG (Sewing Machine Gremlin).

Oh, and there was the period, early in our life in the Fartland, when I attempted to make clothes for my beloved kiddies... and sewed the legs of a pair of shorts intended for Cabell.  Sewed them together, that is.  Diana Lilly still periodically brings this up.  I probably wouldn't even remember it if she didn't.  It was a very brief period.

But I digress.  I took my 2nd hand Viking sewing machine to Sally Blankenship's house, where we went over the manual & the parts of the machine and did a couple of little things to begin to familiarize myself with the machine.  Today I washed some fabric that I've had for years and tomorrow morning I hope to clear a space in Hannah's room to be my Sewing Corner.  If I succeed with enough time to spare I will attempt to Lay Out a Pattern and pin it.  A very simple pattern.  2 pieces, 3 max.  I went to Hancocks today and bought pins and tailor's marking pencils, so I'm good to go.  All I need is air conditioning.  Maybe I could have a permanent Sewing Corner at Sally's house.

I also bought mitten clips.  This is an exciting purchase for me, and not because I wear mittens (I don't, and I especially don't in June).  However, because I am not quite as immodest as some of my family members, I won't go into great detail in explaining how I plan to use them.  Suffice it to say that:

A)   I have a very small butt, no hips to speak of, rather more tummy than I would prefer and thus no waist.
B)  I have also lost about 15 pounds in the last 6 months or so.
C) Part B exacerbates a problem resulting from Part A,  i.e. that sometimes my pants/skirts fall down w/o warning.
D) Suspenders, while effective, don't really give me the look I want.

Tomorrow afternoon I will have lesson #2.  This is after I meet w/ the Grant Guru about the  fall TPRS workshopat the HS for a noon session.

Yesterday, after my sewing lesson, I went to the HS and took part in the VP interviews before heading to the public library for an evening meeting of the Climate Change Initiative group.  Peggy Hill, Carol Draper and I went representing UU with the thought of pairing up w/ the Community Resource Center.  CRC is a small grant-funded organization that works out of the most impoverished section of Cape Girardeau.  Denise Lincoln is the white, middle-class director of the CRC, and no one sees the irony better than she of her position trying to organize/help families in this almost exclusively African-American neighborhood.  In the 2 1/2 years she's been director she has actively solicited being replaced by an African-American.  There have been no applicants.

I am interested, both for general reasons and also because I have some students from this area.  I am also leary, as I do not function at all well when I have too much on my plate, and during the school year even making it to UU every week can be a burden.  I don't manage time particularly well under the best of circumstances, and when I have commitments that I am not totally gung ho about I first procrastinate, then become depressed and then  dysfunctional, which makes me more depressed.   I'm already experiencing this cycle over the TPRS workshop, and it's a cloud over my summer vacation.  If more people at UU don't step forward to help w/ the CRC I will back out.  Peggy and Carol are great, but we should not be the only representatives of the Fellowship to undertake the project. 

I didn't get home last night until around 9:00.  Allen had not let Tallulah loose, so I did, but she did not come back when I called a couple of hours later.  I was beat, after my long day and not having slept well the night before.  (Actually, once I drank some wine and knit awhile I slept quite well, but I hadn't gone to sleep until about 3 am and got up at 8:30. )  So I went to bed, figuring I would wake up in a couple of hours and call her again, which is what usually happens when she's too busy hunting to come home for dinner.  However, I didn't wake up until 8am.  She came right up when I called, and her muzzle and paws were quite dirty.  I only hope she was digging on our property and not in someone's garden.  At least we have not received any irate phone calls.

Tuesday night was the 2nd in a row of not sleeping well.  Monday I went down to the kitchen to get some wine and there wasn't an open bottle.  So I opened up the fancy corkscrew that I gave Allen for Christmas, and after trying to  figure out how to use it for about 10 minutes gave up and got a caffeine-free Coke.  Then I read for 2 hours.  I finished Black Swan Green, really a very good rite of passage novel, if not the most profound piece of literature ever written.  Then last night I started Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver.  I offered to lead a discussion group about the book for UU in early July.  I like Kingsolver's fiction, for the most part, especially Animal Dreams, which features the dog Allen and I gave Barbara and her first husband back in Tucson, lo these many years ago.  She writes with humor, but can have a bit of a heavy hand when dealing w/ social issues.  She believes that all art is political.  I agree, but I think we define political differently.  She appears to mean, in her fiction at least,  that art must be topical.  That only works for me if the topicality is used to explore the universal.  Which I think her work does, but there tends to be kind of a preachy aftertaste.

AVM is different from the other things I've read by Kingsolver in that it is non-fiction and because it was co-written by her husband (who writes informative little side-bars from the perspective of a biologist) and her daughter, who contributed recipes and narrative, I guess (I'm not far enough into it to have read any of Camille's material.)  I keep telling myself I have not read much so far and to give it a chance,  but so far I am not entrhalled.  The subject matter is generally how we in this country have created a culture in which food costs us so much in terms of fossil fuels and the destruction/elimination of  small farmers that we are setting ourselves up for disaster.  Specifically, it deals with Kingsolver's move w/ her family from the AZ desert back to Appalachia and a small farm, and their determination to see if they could live on food produced strictly within their own area.

Obviously, these are Liberals we're talking about.  I consider myself a liberal, and I think I agree with most, or at least many, of Kingsolver's social views.  I have no quarrel with her family's experiment or her decision to write about it.   I admire her integrity.   Nevertheless, the little bit I've read so far is irritating me and I am not sure why.  

For one thing, I can't decide who her audience is.  If she is genuinely trying to persuade people who are ignorant of the issues involved in food production & distribution, then, frankly, I think she's being a tad condescending.  I freely admit that I am unfamiliar with a lot of the information presented in her husband's sidebars, but I am married to a biologist myself, so I am not wholly unaware of things.   And I still find her attitude annoying.  In addition,  I recognize that we, the Gathkinsons, are far more wasteful than necessary, and I live with a certain guilt-load resulting from that.  Maybe if I lived as pure a life-style as Kingsolver I could feel like I was in on the joke and be more comfortable with her narrative.    But if I, who largely agree with her, am irritated, what about the potential readers who are less liberal, less informed?  Is she going to convert them?

I think the book would be more effective if she concentrated more on describing what she and her family DO rather than what they think.  I suppose that statistics appeal to a lot of people and might tip the balance for those who can't decide whether or not to buy food from local producers.  But for me, it is more convincing to show me what you've done rather than lecture me on what we all should do.

Gee, I guess this book is annoying me more than I thought!   I am really only in the introductory part, so perhaps as I get more into it the book will prove more descriptive and less didactic.  I should get back to it and then go to bed so that I get enough sleep to lay out my pattern tomorrow.  I wonder if Tallulah will come in.

Interesting:  It says on my page "Autosaved at 11:22 pm" which is about right.  But check out the time it puts down for my actual post.


Current Location: at my computer (duh)
Current Mood: hot
Tags: , ,
09:42 pm: 7 songs
I don't think I have any songs I'm particularly into at the moment, at least as opposed to other moments.  There's a lot of stuff I like.  But I do find my self listening to:

Softly, as in a  Morning Sunrise   Very old, but I have a jazz version by Regina Carter and Kenny Barron on piano.
Maria                                                 From Westside Story, but played by Ellis and Branford Marsalis
Bogey's Bonnie Belle                    Several versions, but my favorite is the Battlefield Band
Are ya Sleepin', Maggie                 Alasdair Fraser   
Cara Luna                                       Bacilos
Até o fim                                          Chico Buarque
Daily Growing                                Altan

I first learned Daily Growing under other titles by Joan Baez and Judy Collins, back in the 60s.  Yes, Cabell, I knew about Childe ballads before you were even born!  By the way, Altan has a version of the Two Sisters on their album Local Ground; I always think of you when I hear songs about fratricide (or sororicide, as the case may be).

Oh, and actually I recently got an album by Pink Martini that I really like, especially a cut called Amado Mio, even if their singing chick can't pronounce a  Spanish intervocalic D (not the hardest thing in the world).

Current Location: at my computer (duh)
Current Mood: okay
Current Music: read the post
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