Tuesday, May 31, 2005

It's SUPER-Peony!!!

I'm afraid y'all are going to run for the hills or stone me or something if I post ONE MORE FREAKIN' FLOWER PHOTO, but really, you have to see what I found in the back yard tonight after my walk. You just HAVE to!! Is that not the biggest damn peony you've ever seen?? It's not a tree peony, just a plain ol' herbaceous one. I measured it and it's 8" across. I want to enter it in the Peony Olympics or something. I'm so proud of this sucker you'd think I actually did something to make it that way instead of throwing the root into the ground a few years ago and forgetting about it. Heh.

Monday, May 30, 2005

In an Effort to Brighten Monday

I'm in the home stretch on the sun quilt now. Barring complications, I should be finished before the end of this week. But for today there are really no new photos to share that would look any different than other photos I've posted the past few weeks. So I'll show you some flower photos from my garden instead. Hey! Stop that groaning and get back here! These are really pretty! Pink single peony (don't know a name, but isn't it unusual?) Apricot Nectar Rose Gold Medal Rose There now, didn't that brighten your day? Ok, I'm off to chain myself to the sewing machine. Exciting updates to follow. Really.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Website Renovation Completed (Yahooo!)

After a week or so of trying, with much frustration and, yes, cussing, to figure out a new-to-me program, and a couple of weeks of working on it when I could, my website --- not my blog, but my actual website --- has been completely remodeled and is up-to-date for the first time in a long, long time. Yay me! Here's the link, for anyone who wants to take a peek: http://debrichardson.com You might want to grab a cup of coffee first. There are a LOT of pics in those galleries. ;-)

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith

Well, I saw it yesterday. On a scale of 1 to 5, I'd give it a 3....maybe a 3 1/2. It was definitely better than episodes 1 and 2, but still not up to the level of episodes 4 - 6, in my opinion. For one thing, I think it was about a half-hour too long. There were several places where I found myself yawning and checking my watch. That says to me that the editing team should've sent a bit more of it to the cutting room floor. And the love scenes....omigawd. George, George, George....man. You do wonderful adventure stories, Mr. Lucas, but if you continue in your film-making career, please, PLEASE, for the love of all that's holy, get some assistance writing the dialogue for the love scenes! I'm half-convinced that Padme Amidala died not from childbirth complications or heartbreak at Anakin's descent into evil, but from embarrassment at some of the lines she had to say in this and the previous two movies. I've heard a couple of other people say they didn't think Anakin's transformation to Darth Vader was sufficiently explained, but I have to disagree. I felt like his motivations, while clearly WRONG to those of us who know where it leads him, made perfect sense within the context of his life experiences and personality. I think it's very human to make bad decisions with the best of intentions. And we finally get to see why the heck he's walking around in that uncomfortable-looking suit. The special effects were awesome, as always. (My friend kristen's terrifically talented husband, Rob deHaan, had a hand in that!!) Some of the space battle scenes were dizzying. The costumes and sets were excellent. I wish I could see some of Padme's costumes in person, not just from this movie, but from the previous two. They're so sumptuous. Although I question the comfort of sleeping in a nightie with pearl swags on the arms, it certainly looked fetching. :-) So....I'm glad I saw it. And being the movie geek I am, I will probably buy episodes 1 - 3 on DVD when they release them as a set (as they no doubt will), so that I have the whole story and can do a Star Wars Geek-a-thon in the comfort of my own home, if I so desire. But really, Mr. Lucas, I don't want to hear about you writing any more "romantic" dialogue. Seriously.

Friday, May 27, 2005

On Friday: I Feel Lucky

Maybe it's because of my Luck Bouquet. I almost never find four-leaf clovers. I've found maybe 2 in my whole life. Johnny, however, finds them on a regular basis. It's uncanny. So I have an ongoing Luck Bouquet in the garden window above my kitchen sink. We go for walks, he finds four-leaf clovers, I put them in my mini-fish vase. A couple of these have been there a while and are looking a little ratty, but that's ok. He'll find more. :-) The quilting on the sun quilt is going well. Here's a glimpse at what I've been up to. And now I need to hit publish and get back to quilting. I want to get a lot done this morning because I'm going to make a stab at seeing Star Wars this afternoon. Stay tuned...

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

TV, movies, books, and oh yeah...Quilts!

I just finished watching the season finale of "Lost" and may I just say "aarrggghhh!!!" Two hours and....that's it? That's all they're going to tell us? Come on!! Yeah, yeah, I know they have to leave enough mystery to lure people back next season, but they really didn't wind up anything at all. I feel cheated. I think ABC did a much better job with the finale of "Desperate Housewives". A lot of the questions were answered, but they set up a lot of new questions for the next round. I'm not at all happy about how "NCIS" ended yesterday either. I'm trying to remember why I watch this crap and it's not coming to me at the moment. I'm hoping to get to see the latest installment of Star Wars in the next few days. I want to see it before someone spoils it by telling me how it ends! Oh...wait a minute...the first Star Wars movie already did that. (snark!) No, seriously, I do want to see it. Maybe I'll manage it this weekend. I got the newest Dean Koontz novel, "Velocity" today and am panting to start it. It sounds really exciting! I'm currently reading "Monday Mourning" by Kathy Reichs and am probably 3/4 of the way through it, so I should be finishing that up soon. And yep, I quilted more today. Yay me! I know it sometimes sounds like I do nothing but sit on my ass all day reading, or watching tv, or messing with the 'puter, but I do get some work done, I swear. The quilting is going much better now that I'm working on the background instead of the sun sections. As long as things keep going the way they are now, I should be able to finish the sun quilt pretty soon. Then I have a couple more quilt ideas in the queue and two collage projects that need doing. Why does it always seem like I either have too many ideas or not nearly enough? That was a rhetorical question. :-)

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Progress, of sorts and the Name Thang

I got some quilting done yesterday without throwing my machine through a window or having anyone threaten to wash my mouth out with soap! Yay Me! I was still having some thread-breakage problems as I quilted those last couple of suns, but once I finished those and moved on to the background, where there is less fabric bulk and no fusible web layer, the machine and thread both behaved themselves nicely. This is good news for finishing this quilt, as background is all I have left. It is bad news for future quilts because I use a lot of fusible web! So I've decided to do my favorite Scarlett O'Hara thing and worry about it tomorrow, at Tara. I'll finish this quilt, (hopefully in time to get it photographed and slides made for some upcoming show entry deadlines!) and then I think it's time to take Ellie in for a check-up. I know she's past due for one. (Ellie being my machine...an Elna 6005 Heirloom Edition...one step up from the Quilter's Dream machine that the woman with the annoying voice pushes.) I've made a commitment to do a couple of small paper collage pieces this summer, so I can work on those while Ellie is in the Sewing Machine Hospital being cleaned and greased up and whateverthehell else they do to them in there. To Debra and Deborah --- I bet we're all within 10 or 15 years of the same age. It seems like there was a plague of Deborah/Debra babies born in the 1950's and 1960's! I was originally supposed to be "Katherine", but my mom had a couple of friends who had girls and named them Katherine or Catherine so Mom decided she needed to think of something else. She was reading "The Silver Chalice", by Thomas Costain, at the time and one of the characters was named Deborah and she thought "Oh...that's pretty and different." (snort!) I don't think I went through a single year of school where there wasn't at least one other Deb/Debbie/Debby/Debra/Deborah in the same class as me. Still, I'm kind of glad I ended up Deborah instead of Katherine because I'm sure I would've ended up being called Kathy and my maiden name was Keeton, and I think Kathy Keeton sounds just way too "kute". ;-)

Monday, May 23, 2005

Sun Quilt Saga

After moping around here all day Saturday feeling like death warmed over, I felt totally back to normal yesterday. Go figure! I still have no idea what was wrong Saturday, but whatever it was must've been a 24-hour thing. Ok, on to the sun quilt saga. Despite feeling puny, I quilted a couple of suns on Saturday and everything went fine. Then yesterday I planned a big quilting day, actually hoping I could get all the sun sections quilted so I could move on to the background today. Alas, the universe had other plans. For some reason, yesterday I was having MAJOR thread breakage issues. I tried all the usual things I would tell someone else to try in that situation. I switched to a different spool of thread. I changed the bobbin. I changed the needle --- twice (once to a new needle of the same size, the second time to a different size). I slowed down a bit. I fiddled with top and bottom tension. I cleaned lint out of the bobbin area. I checked the tension discs for anything that shouldn't be there. Not a bit of it helped. I was still breaking the thread every few inches. Ggggrrrr. I'd like to blame the new foot, since it's the only new element, but since it worked fine when I did my half-a-sun test the day I got it, and on Saturday when I quilted a couple more, I can't see that it's the problem. I have had to reluctantly conclude the problem is probably operator error. Aaarrrgghhh!! Good grief, it's not like I haven't done this before!! So anyway, after much wasted effort and a minor temper tantrum (including some language that would have had my mother making a frowny face at me and calling me "Deborah Ann"), I put the quilt away yesterday afternoon with 2 1/2 suns still unquilted. Soooo frustrating. We (the royal We, that is) are hoping for better results today.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

It's Here! It's Finally HERE!!

No, not the new phone book, silly. My new free-motion quilting foot is finally here! I got it late yesterday afternoon, 12 days after ordering (!!!), which means I will not be ordering from Bobby's Bobbins in north Georgia again. But it's here and it works. I quilted the rest of the section I'd been working on when my old foot died and the stitches and tension look good. Whew! However it is just exactly the way the universe seems to work that now that I can finally get back to work on the sun quilt, I woke up this morning feeling like something someone scraped from the bottom of an old shoe --- my head hurts, my ears hurt, my throat really hurts, especially when I swallow, and my brain feels like it's working about half-speed. Bleah. But I still plan to try to get some work done today, in between my main planned events of napping and gazing at the walls. Stay tuned...

Friday, May 20, 2005

The Apprentice: The Musical? Say it isn't so.

From Yahoo News:
"Trump announced Thursday that an Apprentice musical would be hitting Broadway in spring 2006."
That's just SO wrong.

Peony Line-up

Yesterday morning, the weather gurus were threatening thunderstorms (and boy, were they ever right!!) so I went out and picked a bouquet of peonies from the garden before the wind and rain could beat them to the ground. Then, as I was putting them in a vase, I felt like I really couldn't see them as well as I'd like, so I changed my plan, dug out a bunch of bud vases, and now I have a Peony Line-up on my living room mantle. Just point out the guilty Peony. Don't worry, you can see them, but they can't see you. I spent a huge chunk of yesterday with no 'puter thanks to the storms. Our electricity went out twice, and even when the electricity was on, I had big chunks of time when my 'net server was down. Lovely. So no progress on the website yesterday. Fingers crossed that today is better.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

An Email Thang

I have discovered why my RSR comments weren't coming through to my email addy. The problem was a way over-enthusiastic spam-blocking program at my server. I've also discovered that, unfortunately, RSR comments weren't the only non-spam mail the program was blocking! So if anyone has emailed me privately at my primary email addy lately (I'm talking like the last month or so) and you haven't received a reply to something you think I should've replied to, PLEASE let me know, because I probably never got the original email. I think I have it fixed now so things should get through. (fingers crossed, knock wood, etc., etc.) 'Puters. They're fun when they work. Heh.

Mini-book review, complete with exciting dream tie-in!

A few days ago, I finished reading "Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal" by Christopher Moore. I'd promised Martha (the friend who recommended it) that I'd say what I thought of it when I finished, so here we go. I can see why Martha recommended it. Parts of it literally made me laugh out loud. But at the same time, for some inexplicable reason, I found the book as a whole to be very slow-going. Yet, I really wanted to finish it. That's odd for me. There are so many good books out there that my attitude toward reading tends to be "life is too short to waste on books I don't love", so I normally give a book a couple of chapters to totally grab me and make me want to devour it. If it doesn't, it either goes into the sell/give away pile or, if I think it has possibilities but I'm just not in the right frame of mind, it goes into my "try again later" pile. (That pile can get fairly large during some of my pickier phases!) This one failed to totally grab me in the first couple of chapters. My initial reaction was "some good one-liners mixed in with a somewhat dull story". But for some reason I stuck with it and finished and am pleased that I did. As it turns out, I think I have exactly the right background to appreciate this story. I was raised in a church-going family and spent several years in church-affiliated schools that required Bible-study classes and weekly chapel attendance, so I understood the references and knew exactly which parts were based on the Bible and which parts were strictly out of Mr. Moore's imagination, (like Biff talking about something being written in the book of Excretions!). But I no longer attend church or consider myself a Christian (I believe in the Divine, but not in organized religion or in many of the tenets of Christianity), so I didn't get my knickers in a twist over things that a devout Christian might consider blasphemous. In the end, I found the story to be an interesting exercise in imagining how Jesus might have spent the many years of his life the Bible doesn't talk about, as seen through the eyes of one of his friends. And odd as it may sound, even with all the oddball and often vulgar humor, much of it seemingly designed to appeal to an adult's inner-8-year-old-boy, I thought Mr. Moore's depiction of Jesus as the Son of God given human form was ultimately respectful and even insightful. By the way, the humor worked for me. I have a very active inner-8-year-old. (grin) It isn't a book I'd recommend to Christian friends unless I knew for a fact that they had a strongly liberal slant to their beliefs, but otherwise I think it's a worthwhile read. And now, before I finish this post, I have to talk about the promised dream tie-in. Aren't you excited? Aren't you glad you read all the way through?? Yeah, baby! Early this morning, shortly before waking up, I had a dream about being in school (college, I think, but it could have been high school) and for some reason I was being chased by a bully. I ran into the cafeteria, thinking if I could get to where there were lots of people I'd be safe. I ran to the front of the room, where the food line was, and there, standing at the head of the line, was Richard Dean Anderson. Wasn't it nice of him to make a guest appearance in my dream?? He asked what was going on and the bully and I started blurting out conflicting stories. Then RDA, who obviously had the good sense to believe ME instead of the bully, whipped a Bible out of...well...thin air I guess...it was a dream yanno, and opened it and handed it to the bully saying "I think you need to read what is written here in the book of Edvaard." Then he jerked the Bible back and said "No, wait, this is even better", then opened it to a different page and said "Look! Look here, in the book of Bacterials." Then I woke up giggling. The book of Bacterials??? That must be Christopher Moore's influence. Maybe I should write him a thank-you note.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

My Studio Confidantes

Diane asked this question on her blog: "Do you have a Studio Confidante? You know, someone who lives in your studio and keeps you company and makes you smile?" I have several! :-) I posted last month about my newest and most-favoritest SC, the maaaahvelous mermaid Marlena (made by Martha --- how alliterative). Marlena lounges on top of my scanner, watching over me. Well, ok, really she kind of looks like she's gazing over my head and out the window, but whatever, I still love her. Here are pics of three more of my SC's. Mr. Wizard, who stands on the main level of my 'puter desk, between my pen-and-pencil mug and a framed snapshot of some friends and me. ChaChaKitty, who guards the upper shelf of the 'puter desk, near the printer. And finally, Murplemaid, the wonderfully zaftig mermaid who came all the way from New Zealand to hang out on my inspiration board.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Questions and follow-ups and STUFF

Wow, yesterday felt like a day-and-a-half! But more on that later.... First of all, I have a question for any other people out there who are on blogger/blogspot. In theory, I have my preferences set to forward comments to my email address so I can see when a new comment has been posted. But for the past week or so, that's been increasingly unreliable and yesterday I didn't get an email about a single comment, even though 5 were posted (well, ok, 4 and a dupe...hehehe). So my question is, are any of the rest of you having that same problem? If so, I'm guessing it's a blogger problem. If not, I'm guessing my ISP is getting over-zealous on their filters and I need to either talk to them or switch which email addy I'm forwarding comments to. Now on to some follow-ups about some comments made yesterday. To Debra: I will be up-to-date on my lipid profile in another week or so. This week was Squish Week. Next week is Pincushion Week, where I'll go let the vampire techs drain a couple of gallons of blood in order to do a lipid profile, glucose tolerance test, and a CA-125 test (to check for ovarian cancer markers in the blood). Everyone keep your fingers crossed that I don't throw up or pass out! :-) (It's not a fear thing...I don't mind needles. It's a "I don't do too well with the drop in blood pressure on an empty stomach" thing.) To Dara and Kristen: Um, as you probably discovered by now, the website is SO not finished. At this point it's kind of like those sets they used to use for old Western movies. It LOOKS like there's a whole town full of buildings, but if you open the doors, there's nothing on the other side! But I'm working busily to rectify that, honest. I'll post something here when there's actually "rooms" behind those doors. ;-) To Anonymous: Please, please, please, y'all, if you use the option to make an anonymous comment, sign your first name so I (hopefully) know who I'm talking to. I'd hate to block anonymous comments, because I don't want to make people have to register to talk to me, but I also really want to be able to answer and to know who I'm talking to when I do! Thanks. :-) Anyway, dear Anonymous, I consider the red shoe quilt to be whimsical, which is a sort of humor I guess, but I don't consider it to be humorous in the same way that, for instance "Moo-fish" is. The red shoe really IS a sort of self-portrait and making it really was a healing experience for me, so it doesn't feel right to me to stick it in the humorous quilts category, which are quilts I did purely for fun --- no particular meaning or purpose beyond "this makes me smile". I ended up deciding to give the shoe quilts their own category. There are only two so far, but I fully intend to do more in that series, so I gave them their own page and it's one of the few on the website where there's already something behind the "door". That way I don't have to decide if they're humorous, serious, or a bit of both! (Incidentally, the second shoe quilt, "Shoes for Julie" would go in the humorous category if I wasn't giving the shoes their own page.) At this point, I had planned to tell you a little more about The Day That Felt Like It Lasted 36 Hours, but this is already getting too long, so Never Mind (said in my best Emily Latella voice). It wasn't important anyway, and things are fine today. I just started out in the mood for mini-rant and I'm over it. So....I'll work some more on the website instead. The only thing I'll say from what would have been my mini-rant about my day is this: I find it very disconcerting to have a complete stranger speak to and about my breasts as if they were seperate entities, independent of my body. I'm just saying.

Monday, May 16, 2005

How was YOUR weekend?

I mentioned in passing last week that I was trying to figure out some new software and update my website. I'll give you three guesses how I spent my weekend. RSR READER: "You flew to a tropical island and cavorted on a beach with a hot, sexy, scantily dressed young man who brought you drinks with umbrellas in them and gave you a foot massage in between all the cavorting?" DEB: "No." (sigh) RSR READER: "You cleaned your entire house from top to bottom and end to end, so that it's all sparkly and shiny and everything in it is neat and organized?" DEB: "NO! Geeze, what planet are YOU from??" RSR READER: "Uuuhhhh.....you worked on your website?" DEB: "Yeppers!" I actually didn't intend to spend all weekend on it, but I did a little oopsie. I finally thought I was figuring things out and thought to myself "Ok, self, let's upload a test page and see how it looks." So I did, only....wait! Instead of uploading *A* test page, as in singular, the command I used uploaded everything I'd been working on, including all the other pages which were SO not finished yet. Oops. So I then spent I-don't-know-how-long fixing things so that the website, while far from finished, at least has something legible (I hope!) on it if someone stumbles across it. I figure it's going to take me most of the rest of the week to get it truly finished. Oh well, it's something constructive to do while I wait on my still-missing quilting foot which, according to the seller, is supposedly en-route, but seems to be traveling from Georgia to Kentucky via Istanbul. Pppfffttt. In the meantime, today I go get squished at my annual mammogram appointment. How about it, all you female readers? Are you up-to-date on your mammograms? If not, go call RIGHT NOW and make the appointment! I mean it! Why are you still sitting there reading? GO!!

Friday, May 13, 2005

On Friday: The Color of the Day is ORANGE

I decided to post my usual Friday Foto Trio, but with a color theme --- orange! Actually, last week's photos had a color theme too --- red/white/blue --- but I didn't mention it and I'm not sure if anyone noticed or not. :-) On my ears... Earrings I made a few weeks ago using some of my favorite orange beads. (Click on the photo if you want to see an even closer look at just the earring.) I showed a little of my shirt too, since it has a print of oranges all over it. On the menu... Carrots and sweet potatoes, to be cooked with onions and mushrooms and a small pork roast. If there are any leftovers from the roast, I'll make barbecue tomorrow. On my dirt... Ok, that should probably read something like "in my garden", but I'm into this whole "ON Friday" thing and felt compelled to make it fit. So sue me. Anyway, these are some wonderful pumpkin-colored pansies I planted this spring, along with some butter-cream yellow ones. You can see a couple of those in the foreground, although they look washed-out in this pic. They are actually warmer than that. The hosta leaf is from my favorite hosta, the August Lily, which blooms in August with large (for a hosta) white flowers that smell a bit like wild honeysuckle. Yum. The headache is still here, but not near as bad as yesterday. I see improvement each day. Thank you to those who wrote either in comments or privately with sympathy and suggestions. Still no quilting foot. Pppfffttt. But on the happy side, I got three of my "babies" back today...quilts that have been touring for almost a year. Yay! If you want to see them, here are links to pics: Charmed Hope Wonky Houses

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Will someone please turn down the sun for a while?

There is no joy in DebWorld today. Sit down, put your feet up, and grab some cheese and crackers while I have a little whine. I still have no quilting foot. I should probably just start something new, something I can do with a piecing foot, but dammit, I want to work on the sun quilt. (picture me stamping my foot and looking sulky) The headache is into Day 3 and last night it went migraine on me for a while, complete with light sparklers floating in front of my eyes and extreme nausea. SO not fun. It was well after 3 AM before I managed to get to sleep, then my youngest dog, Riley, decided I needed to be awake around 6 AM. When I was 18 years old, 3 hours of sleep was plenty. I am not 18 years old anymore. Still, today is better. I can see again and don't feel the need to make Mr. Toilet my new best friend, but I still want someone to turn the sun down a notch. Everything seems just a little too bright and glare-y. And this from someone who normally LOVES sunny days. But what I need right now is a good old-fashioned thunderstorm to equalize the pressure in my head. The weather gurus have been promising one for days, but it hasn't materialized. Bah! Can I just take a nice, long nap and have someone wake me when my head stops hurting and/or my quilting foot arrives? Thanks. How was the cheese?

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Only In Kentucky

The Yahoo Strange News headline tonight:
My husband grew up just outside Somerset, KY, and we lived there from 1991 to 1997, so I was relieved to see that the man in question isn't a friend, in-law, or former neighbor. As far as I know, I don't know the horse either. Heh.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Amazing Race (but no amazing mail)

I just finished watching the finale of The Amazing Race a little while ago and I won't say who finished in what order, so as not to spoil it for someone who might check in from another time zone, but I will say that I was pleased with the result. :-) I am less pleased that I still have no free-motion foot for my sewing machine. How long can it take to get something to northern Kentucky from northern Georgia? I'm trying to be patient, really I am. My big project of the day was to organize a bunch of J's old family photographs. When his mom died (in March of this year) and his favorite aunt died (a year ago February) we ended up bringing home a stack of photos from both places and they have been sitting around gathering dust ever since. But as of today the ones he wanted are all neatly arranged in a good (non-"magnetic"!!) photo album and the ones he doesn't want are tucked into an envelope, ready to pass along to his brothers and sisters the next time we see them. I also worked a little while on trying to figure out a website redesign, but I'm trying to learn to use some software to do it, after having only ever made a website using some very basic "write my own" HTML and unfortunately what I mostly accomplished was to give myself a raging headache. Sigh. If my quilting foot takes much longer to arrive I may actually start doing something like (gasp!) cleaning house!! Naaawwww.....

Monday, May 09, 2005

If it's not one thing, it's another...

Did you ever have One Of Those Days? I'm sure you have. We all have. Anyone who read yesterday's blog entry knows I wasn't exactly in a fun and sparkly mood to start with yesterday. (Thank you to those who wrote nice notes in comments or privately...they were comforting and appreciated.) But anyway, I was keeping busy, getting things done. Then it happened. I was about 4 1/2 sun-rays away from my quilting goal for the day when my machine started sounding funny and the quilt got harder to move through it. Hhmmm, says I...this can't be good. I stopped. I looked at the back and there were loopy things like the tension was all wrong, although I hadn't changed a thing. Sigh. I checked my tension settings. I unthreaded and rethreaded. I checked to be sure the bobbin was seated correctly. I made sure my needle wasn't broken or burred. I tried again, with no better results. Suddenly I see something on the bed of the machine, something I think at first is part of a pin. Um, no. My STOOOOPID free-motion foot broke! Aaarrrggghhh!! You know the little metal arm thingy that rests on the sticky-outy part of the needle assembly, so that the foot bounces up and down a little? (I hope all this technical talk isn't going over everyone's head. Snerk!) Well, that's what was lying there gasping and bleeding on the bed of my machine. And ya know what? The thrice-damned foot won't work without it's arm. Lazy bastard. So I got out a Big Foot I bought years ago and then tossed in a drawer when I decided I didn't like it. Thought, ok, it's better than nothing. Well, actually no, it isn't much better than nothing. I remember now it wasn't just that I didn't like it. My machine didn't like it either. I did part of one sun ray, found all sorts of horrid skipped stitches and things I'm going to have to pick out today and then gave up. I went to the 'net and started a search for a place to buy a new free-motion foot for my machine. Oh yeah, did I mention that the place where I bought my machine no longer exists? Right. So...ok, Google it is, then. So today, instead of quilting suns, I'm waiting on a package to arrive from northern Georgia, carrying what I fervently hope will be the right free-motion foot for my sewing machine. Like my daddy always told me, "Little Rodeb Rodebba Debba, if it's not one thing it's another. If you're not in a funk about loss and the fragility of life, your damn sewing machine foot will break." So how was your day?

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Mother's Day Memories

In November, 2001, my mom died after a five-year battle with ovarian cancer. She was one of my best friends and I still miss her so much. When you lose someone you love, it can be surprising to find what things hit you really hard and what things don't hurt as much as you thought they would. Oddly, I find that the anniversary of her death isn't really one of my difficult days. Instead, the days I find it hardest to deal with her loss are the days that were always "make a fuss about mom" days --- her birthday and Mother's Day. The mom-shaped hole in my life feels huge on those days. I was out of town on Mom's birthday this year and being away from my normal routine turned out to be a good coping mechanism. But now Mother's Day has rolled around again and all those greeting card and jewelry store ads urging me to "show Mom how much you care" are twisting the knife again. Ok. I may not be able to hug her and hand her a card and flowers anymore, but I can still make Mother's Day a sort of "make a fuss about mom" day. So here is my tribute to one of my all-time-favorite people....some of my favorite photos of my mom.
Anita Louise Keeton
March 3, 1939 - November 12, 2001
Third grade school pic and high school graduation photo
Dad, Mom, and me (Mom was in her mid-20's); and a photo of Mom in her 30's, when she was teaching grade school
Mom with her first grandchild, my niece Amber Louise; and Mom dressing up as Uncle Fester Addams to hand out trick or treat candy after the chemo made her lose her hair
I love you, Mom, and still miss you lots. Happy Mother's Day.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

I'm a Double Espresso. You?

Yeah, ok, I know I post quiz results nearly as often as some people change their socks, but really...I've got nothing today. I've been working on the sun quilt (finally!) and making progress, but any in-progress photos would look exactly like the last ones I posted, so what's the point? Thus, you get the coffee quiz instead. Deal with it. Can you tell I woke up in a bit of A Mood today? ;-) You are a double espresso at 3 AM. You are a double espresso at three AM. You are the tortured, nail-biting essence of coffee. You see visions. You could change the world if only you were up at the same time as everyone else. You have created a programming language that throws errors if the code is not written in iambic pentameter, and you are infuriated by the typos in the new edition of Ulysses. You practice sarcasm as a form of tantric sex, and your cats have doctorates. You believe in virgin sacrifice in a good cause. (Note from Deb: I'm not so sure this sounds like me in general, but it DOES sound like me TODAY.) What kind of coffee are you? brought to you by Quizilla

Friday, May 06, 2005

On Friday

On The Menu... ...Strawberry Daiquiri Shortcake. I sliced the berries and sprinkled on just enough sugar to draw out the juice (I don't like them too sweet), then added a squeeze of lime juice and a splash of dark Bacardi Rum. After they sit a while and the flavors blend, I'll serve them over slices of angel food cake. Yum! On My Inspiration Board... ...a lovely, texture-y, handmade postcard from Debra. The quote on it says "Humor is a reminder that no matter how high the throne one sits on, one sits on one's bottom." (Taki) Words to live by! Thanks, Debra!! The extremely cool fabric goddess pin below the postcard was made by Rachel Kitterman. On My Feet... White slides from Zappos, a blue-bead-embellished toe ring from the Outer Banks of North Carolina, and Revlon Blaze red toenail polish. I love the looks of these shoes, but they aren't very comfy. These aren't going to last long in my collection unless the leather softens up quickly.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Knitting Mug Shot

I have accomplished nothing on the sun quilt this week and am not feeling at all happy about that, but Real Life has been very intrusive to my creative time the past few days. I am determined I will get some quilting done before the weekend, dammit. In the meantime, to show that I have not, in fact, been a COMPLETE slacker in the creativity department, here's a pic of me modeling the scarf I finished last night. It's made from that sheen-y, variegated, ribbon yarn (can't remember the name of it). It wasn't too bad to work with, although it certainly doesn't hide faults as well as the fuzzy yarns I love so much. I've lost track of how many scarves I've made in the last year or so. And the funny thing is, I don't knit. Well, ok, obviously I DO knit, sort of. BUT. Knitting, for me, means doing one stitch over and over again, in straight rows. That's absolutely all I know how to do. So I make big, long, knitted rectangles, A.K.A. scarves, because I love the yarn and I love having a task that engages my hands, (but not my brain), when I watch TV. I've given some of them away to friends ("Here! You're TAKING a scarf whether you want one or not, dammit!") and have loads of them in my closet. I wore one pretty much every time I went out this winter. Now summer is coming on, but I'm still making scarves. It's madness. But fun.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

The Characters in Literature Tarot Deck

Yesterday I received my copy of the Characters In Literature Tarot Deck. May I just say, "Wow"! The CIL Tarot is a collaborative deck organized by Red Dog Scott. I did the 2 of Wands for the deck. This was my third time working on a collaborative Tarot deck project, but my first time with this particular group (although there were a few members in this group that were in one or both of the other projects I did). I'd heard good things about Red's deck projects and now I see why. I feel so inspired looking at the artwork that I wanted to share some of it here. I wish I could post even more photos, but since I really needed to narrow it down to just a few, I chose to show cards that not only had artwork I liked, but which featured characters from some of my favorite stories. There are many, many more cards in this deck that have equally amazing art, but were about stories I hadn't read. Also, if a story was featured on more than one card, I chose only one to show about that story. The wonderful thing about this deck concept for a book-lover is that when the creator of a card has chosen a story and character or scene that you know well, you look at the card and have a total "AHA!!" moment, where it makes perfect sense and you can think of all sorts of layers of meaning because of knowing the story so well. It also made me want to read some of the stories I wasn't familiar with. So here are a scans of just a few of the cards I loved. "Justice" by Connie Woodhead and "The Hanged Man" by Elizabeth Cherry Owen Atticus Finch from "To Kill a Mockingbird" is the featured character in the Justice card. Perfect. I can't think of another book character who personifies Justice any better. Elizabeth shows Brendan Doyle from "The Anubis Gates" as the Hanged Man. I was thrilled to see this card, as "The Anubis Gates" is one of my personal "I'd want it on a desert island" books. I don't want to say too much about why I think this is so perfect, because I don't want to spoil the book for anyone who hasn't read it, but it is...it's perfect. And if you haven't read "The Anubis Gates", what the heck are you waiting for?? "Sun" by Amy Stoner and "3 of Cups" by Moonshine The Sun card features Hazel and Frith from "Watership Downs", illustrating attainment and contentment, along with the need to keep striving and not just rest on past accomplishments. The 3 of Cups shows Harry, Ron, and Hermione, from the "Harry Potter" novels, sharing mugs of butterbeer, a great scene of friendship and celebration. "Ace of Pentacles" by Karen Veni Samwise Gamgee from "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy is featured on the Ace of Pentacles. Who better than the most down-to-(middle)earth of the Hobbits to show the best aspects of this earth symbol? "3 of Swords" by Steph King/NoMonet and "7 of Wands" by April Soncrant I must confess that the 3 of Swords is the one card I'm showing based on a story I'd never heard of before receiving the deck. It depicts a scene from "The Longest Kiss, A Vampire Love Story". But after reading the description, I've decided I need to read that book, and I love the imagery on the card, so I included it here. The 7 of Wands features a scene about "The Old Man and the Sea". I can't say that's a story I really liked (pretty depressing) but how perfect for this card, showing both the adventure and optimism of the 7W, but also the idea of a hollow victory. "8 of Swords" by Sally Anne Stephen and 10 of Swords by Lunaea Weatherstone Swords are often my least-favorite suit in many Tarot decks, but I think they may be my favorite suit in this deck! There are some wonderful Sword cards in here, including some I didn't show. But these are two more of my favorites. The 8 of Swords depicts a scene from "Rebecca" by Daphne du Maurier, one of the first Gothics I ever remember reading. I don't know if I would have thought of this book in relation to the 8 of Swords, but now that I see it...total "aha"...perfect story to show the trap that isn't nearly as hopeless as we first think it is. And the 10 of Swords shows a moment from "A Wrinkle In Time", the book I have probably read more times than any other book I own. I usually hate the 10 of Swords card. I have, in fact, called it my least-favorite card in the Tarot deck. But this one is perfect. It doesn't sugar-coat the dark aspects of the card, but it shows it in a way that I get better than I get the typical "swords in the back" image so many decks show. In looking over this, I realize I've used the word "perfect" about 30-dozen times in just a few paragraphs, but I'm not going to change it. The deck really is that good.

Monday, May 02, 2005

While I'm in a Reviewing State of Mind....

...I'd like to talk about the last book I finished. "Dies The Fire" by S. M. Stirling I know a few of the people who read RSR have mentioned liking post-apocalyptic stories and that's what this one is, so here are my thoughts about "Dies The Fire". The basic plot of the novel is that there is a sudden, worldwide flash of blinding white light and then suddenly, in the blink of an eye, most modern technology doesn't work anymore. No one is sure why, but after the flash, electricity doesn't work, phones don't work, engines (in cars, planes, etc.) don't work, gunpowder won't fire, etc., etc. The book doesn't even deal much with why it happens, just with how a small segment of humanity deals with the situation. Have you ever read a book and when it was done you said "well, that was pretty good, but...."? That was my reaction to DTF. It was pretty good, but...it could have been excellent. How frustrating to read a book that's almost excellent, but doesn't quite pull it off. First let's talk about a couple of things I didn't like so much. This book triggered a Pet Peeve Reaction in me. One of my Pet Peeves is the Hidden Trilogy Syndrome. You know...when you read a book, thinking it's a stand-alone story, only to get to the end of the book and realize it clearly isn't the end of the story, only the end of the first installment of the story. It's like those obnoxious season-ending cliffhanger episodes that were so popular in the television world a few years ago. I was so glad when those became less common! I have no objection at all to a story that's too large for one book being published as a trilogy or series. I just object to not being TOLD about it up front! I want to see something on the cover that says something like "Book One in the fabulous new FireFlash Trilogy", so I can make an informed decision about whether to go ahead and read the first part immediately or wait until they've all been published so I can read them straight through. It's not so bad if each story really stands on it's own like, for instance, Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series. The characters continue from one book to the next, but each story is self-contained and if she chose to never write another one I would be disappointed, but wouldn't feel like I'd been left hanging, dropped like a bad habit in mid-saga. But if S. M. Stirling doesn't write another book, well, this story just isn't finished. I would feel like I'd read half a book only to find the second half ripped away. I'm sure he intends to finish it, but you know, shi...uh...fecality occurs! What if, God forbid, Mr. Stirling suffered from an unfortunate bungee-jumping accident, or a curling-iron-in-the-shower mishap midway through writing the sequel and the story was never finished? Morbid? Maybe. But Margaret Mitchell intended to write a sequel to "Gone With The Wind" and had barely started when she was hit by a car and killed. So instead we have that hideous sequel "Scarlett", written by someone entirely different, years later, in which Rhett and Scarlett get back together, but only after being made into such generic characters and going through so many historical romance cliches that they might as well have changed their names to Brock and Blaze and called the book "Love's Savage Passion". Bleah. I know some people will argue that an open ending just makes it more realistic, but to that I say if I want realism, I can read non-fiction. If I want fiction that pretends to be realism, I can watch the evening news. When I read (or watch) fiction, I want it to be like Life With A Twist. I want someone to tell me a good story, with a beginning, a middle, and yes, an end. Real Life may not wrap up all the loose ends by our story's finale, but that's exactly what I want a fiction writer to do. So while I realize my Pet Peeve isn't something that would bother everyone, it bothers me. If a book is the beginning of a trilogy or series (and it became obvious by the last page that this one is!), I want to KNOW that before I commit to reading it.

The second thing that bothered me about DTF was that I felt like the pacing was uneven. This one bothered me more than the Hidden Trilogy Syndrome because I felt like it was very fixable with tighter editing and a little more revision.

While the characters and the story held my interest, there were some early parts of the story that I felt got bogged down when Mr. Stirling would go into excruciating detail about things like how to make a hunting spear from a kitchen knife and a...yaaaaawn...oh, excuse me...a broom handle.

Then later in the story, when I would have liked a few more details about certain action sequences, some areas felt rushed and glossed over. I felt like I'd been "yada-yada-ed". You know...."so the good guys offer to help the townsfolk chase off the bad guys, and they meet in the middle of town and yada, yada, yada, and the good guys win the fight". Uh, excuse me? Could you go back to that fight thing and tell me a little more about HOW they won??

It seems to me that a really good editor would have encouraged Mr. Stirling to cut some of the "survivor manual" stuff in the earlier part and use that word count to better advantage later in the story.

I know this is making it sound like I think it's a bad book, and that isn't the case at all. I liked it. It held my interest enough to keep me up reading past my normal bedtime when I got near the end, and I want to read the sequel(s). I just wish it had been given that little nudge toward excellence.

Some of the things I did like included an interesting cast of characters. There are a couple of different factions of "good guys" who are organizing their followers in very different ways and one of those groups is led by a Wiccan High Priestess who is structuring her group after a kind of hybrid of traditional Scottish clans and Wiccan covens. Very different and interesting!

There were also some fun literary references in there that tell me that Mr. Stirling likes some of the same books and authors that I do. Besides open references to the Lord of the Rings trilogy, I caught buried mini-homages to Charles deLint, Poul Anderson, and Peter O'Donnell's Modesty Blaise stories. And if those are in there, there are no telling how many other references I didn't catch. I find that kind of thing fun, and will be actively looking for them in the next story.

The plot was exciting and moved along well, barring the few previously mentioned rough spots in the pacing.

So I'd recommend "Dies The Fire" to fans of the post-apocalyptic fiction genre, provided you aren't bothered by the "to be continued" thing. I'll be watching for Mr. Stirling's next book and hoping he continues the things that made this one good, but makes the next one just a little bit better.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy

I played hooky from quilting yesterday afternoon and went to see a matinee of the movie "The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy". I loved that book when I first read it so long ago...has to be nearly 20 years now. Wow. I liked the whole series, but I especially liked the first book. I remember literally laughing out loud during parts of it. So, when I heard they were making a feature film out of it, of course I had to go see it. Debra asked me this morning what I thought of it and I honestly didn't know quite what to say. The truth is, I'm not quite sure what I thought of it! On the good side, I thought the casting was excellent. Arthur, Trillian, and Zaphod were all very much the way they were in my mind. Ford and Marvin looked different than I had pictured, but the personalities were spot on, and that's much more important. I also thought the movie had some wonderful visual elements. I kept seeing scenes where I wished I could freeze the shot for a minute and really LOOK at it. (That's one advantage of watching DVD's rather than seeing a movie in the theater...being able to do just that!) But the movie overall left me feeling vaguely unsatisfied, like they'd almost gotten it right, but somehow not quite. And I can't put my finger on exactly what the problem was for me. I just know that some of the jokes I thought were so funny in the book fell flat for me on the screen, and I found myself feeling bored in some sections and sneaking glances at my watch. Is it just that this is one of those stories, like so many others, that makes a better book that it does a movie? Is it that my tastes have changed since I read it so many years ago and maybe I wouldn't find the book as funny now as I did then? I may test that last one by re-reading the book soon and seeing what I think of it. I'm not sorry I saw it, but I'm glad I only paid matinee prices. And I won't be buying the DVD when it comes out.