Monday, October 31, 2005

My Haunting

Debra shared a personal ghost story for Halloween, and since I'm never one to mind stealing, er, I mean borrowing a good idea, I'll do the same. I'll skip ahead past my childhood, when I can remember having a cozy conversation with my great-grandma after she died. And I'll skip the details about the many, many times I've had dream visits from people who have passed on. Nothing much happens in those dreams anyway. They just show up and we sit and talk for a while. Although the one where one of J's nephews and I had nearly-identical dreams bout J's father on the night before his funeral...that was a little weird. But in the months after my mom died, I had a couple of weird things happen here at home that I'll tell you about. They may not sound like much, but they felt significant and I'm convinced that Mom's spirit stopped by to say hello. Both times it happened, I was home alone. And both times it happened, I was in the studio, working at my sewing machine. The first time, I was completely alone in the house, with all the doors and windows closed and locked. Even the dogs and cat were out in the yard at the time. Suddenly I felt a chill at my back and the hair on my neck stood up. Even though I knew I was alone in the house and knew no one had walked or driven up, I could feel someone standing a few inches behind my chair, just off my left shoulder, watching me. I didn't want to turn around, because I KNEW I wouldn't see anyone, but at the same time I was equally certain someone was there. Finally, after what seemed like ages, but could really only have been a few seconds, I couldn't stand it anymore and started to turn to my left, to look behind me. I felt something brush against the back of my head, exactly as if someone had just gently stroked my hair, and then, it was over. Poof! Just like that. No more cold, no more feeling of being watched. I went ahead and turned around anyway, but I knew before I did that whoever or whatever had been there was gone and there would be nothing there to see. And of course there wasn't. But I can still feel that sensation in my memory. The second time something weird happened, I was at the sewing machine again and again was all alone in a locked house. I heard a noise coming from another room, very quiet and subtle at first, but gradually growing a bit louder. I couldn't place at first what the noise was, so I got up to look around. I tracked the noise to another room, where I realized my treadmill, (which used to belong to Mom but she gave it to me when she entered hospice care), was running by itself. This is a treadmill that J and I normally unplugged when we weren't using it, but let's say for a moment that one of us forgot to unplug it the last time it was used. I'll grant "logical explanation" that far. But even once it's plugged in, in order to start it moving you have to insert a plastic "key", slide a reset button to the far left, push a start button, then slide the first button to the right again to set the speed. In order to stop it, you have to pull out the key. So even if we left it plugged in, how did all those other steps get done in just the right order to start it going at a gentle walking pace - about the pace Mom used to use it? You can think what you want, but I know what I thought. I said (out loud), "Hi Mom. I'm always glad to have you around, but could we maybe visit some other way? Because this is kind of freaking me out." Then I stopped the machine and unplugged it. And I've never had another incident quite like that since. After that, I've only visited with Mom in my dreams. I'll save the fact that I think I have a ghost cat in my house for another Halloween.

Wanna Carve a Jack-o-lantern?

But don't want the mess? Then go carve a cyber-pumpkin! Have fun! Thanks to PirateJan for the link.

Halloween Horoscope

Halloween Horoscope for Pisces
You tend to go for traditional, if not a bit historical, Halloween themes. Candied apples, pumpkins, and warm cider make you excited each year. Costume suggestions: An evil sorceress or a renaissance pirate wench. Signature Halloween candy: Candy corn
I'd agree with all of it except the candy corn thing. I think candy corn is pretty but it tastes mildly nasty to me. I realize that's a totally weird opinion to most people. It may even be borderline unAmerican to dislike candy corn, but there you have it. One of my deep, dark secrets. Tell ya what...I'll trade you my share of the candy corn for your mini Mounds bars! Deal?

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Wild Turkey on the Rocks

Take a look at what J and I saw out the dining room window a few days ago. What? Not sure what you're supposed to be looking at? How about now? Oh, so you want to see them closer, eh? There ya go. And now you know why the locals call our place Gobbler Nob. (Or Gobbler Knob....whatever!)

Sweet Violets

I first saw this test on Debra's blog and have since seen it on several others. Interesting that so many of us involved in fabric art turn out to be "Violet". That was my answer too and I admit, I think it sounds a lot like me. Also, although I wouldn't truly say I have a "favorite color", because I love so many of them, I'm most definitely drawn to red and blue quite often, so it's interesting to me that those are my "dominant" hues according to this test.
you are violet #EE82EE
Your dominant hues are red and blue. You're confident and like showing people new ideas. You play well with others and can be very influential if you want to be. Your saturation level is lower than average - You don't stress out over things and don't understand people who do. Finishing projects may sometimes be a challenge, but you schedule time as you see fit and the important things all happen in the end, even if not everyone sees your grand master plan. Your outlook on life is bright. You see good things in situations where others may not be able to, and it frustrates you to see them get down on everything.
the html color quiz
Here's another thing I found interesting about my result on that quiz. A few months ago, I took another quiz, but never got around to posting the results. It's a quiz that ties into a book (one I haven't read yet) by Pamela Oslie, who says she can see auras around people. I'm very envious of that! I've always wished I could see auras, but I can't. Anyway, the quiz on her website is supposed to tell you the dominant colors in your aura. And as you may have guessed from this lead-in, my results said that my dominant aura color is violet. My next highest scores, in order, were yellow, green, blue, indigo, and lavender. Don't those all sound pretty together? {smile} All the other colors scored low for me, a 4 or less. If you want to read what that means, go to the link above and click on "Colors". If you want to take the quiz yourself, go to the link above and click on "The Test". And if you take it, please let me know, because I'd love to hear your results!

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Dreams by the Fire

I've mentioned before that I collect Tarot decks and my particular favorites are limited edition artist-published decks. Well, I've really been very good lately and haven't bought any for a while, but this week one I pre-ordered some time back finally arrived and it was SO worth the wait! It's the Full Moon Dreams Tarot, created and published by Lunaea Weatherstone. Look at the beautiful presentation: Postcard, booklet, and lovely bag to hold the cards, all of which arrived carefully wrapped in the sun, moon, and stars tissue paper. And here is a small photo of three cards I particularly liked, although I could have pulled nearly any three out blindfolded because the deck is just gorgeous! Hanged Man, Ace of Water (Cups), Guardian (Knight) of Earth If you want to see more images, just follow the link to Lunaea's website. And also on the Tarot front, check out this bag that just arrived from my friend Sally Anne: It's even more beautiful in person. It has a soft sheen to it that's hard to capture with the camera. The shiny stuff behind the bag is what it was wrapped in. Cool, yes? Here it is open, so you can see the lining. I haven't decided yet which deck will live in the bag, but I was testing my Secret Forest deck because the bag color looks so mossy to me. I also wanted to share a fire with you. (Deb pauses while everyone says "share a FIRE...huh?") Thursday night it was cold, damp, and windy and J built a roaring fire in the fireplace. At one point when he'd just added a couple more logs, the coals were so glowy at the bottom and it all looked so warm and cozy that I just had to snap a photo to share. A fire to warm you up on a cold October night, taken from my favorite perch on the corner of the sofa. And to contrast with the fire, here's one of our final roses of the season, picked by J yesterday (hey, that rhymes!) as a happy surprise for me and displayed in one of my cobalt vases, between a couple of framed fabric postcards by Lauren Fureymore and Liz Berg. The bush this is from was a birthday gift from my friend Morven a few years ago and it lives near the corner of our front porch. I can never remember the real name of the rose. To J and me it's always The Morven Rose.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Simple Still Life: Month the Second, Part the Second

The Simple Still Life assignment for the month of October was as follows:
"The SUBJECT of round two: ONE ITEM (AND A SHADOW). Note, the shadow may belong to the item you are photographing, or so some other item out of the frame. ... we have four weeks to create something from our photos. Once again.. it can be anything. A fiber postcard, a drawing, an exercise in photoshop, a pair of socks... whatever. Post the photo of your completed object ON OCTOBER 28TH."
And here, as a reminder, was the photograph I started with: It's ok, but I didn't love it. And that tells me something, because it turned out that I didnt love anything else I did from this photo either. I tried and discarded a LOT of different things. Here are the three least-awful things I came up with. Here I played with replacing each votive section with something that was a similar color, but otherwise odd, and then played with the overall look by using various filters - a sort of Surrealist take on the photo. Here I just played with the color and contrast settings. I actually kind of like this one, but not enough to pursue it further. And here I played with some other filters, going for a kind of woodcut print effect. I don't mind this one either, but again, I don't care about it enough to do anything more with it. This tells me that whatever next month's assignment is, I need to find a starting image I'm more passionate about if I'm going to have any hope of really liking what I do with the image later. Yeah, I know, I know....Duh.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

The Sun Comes Home

Monday afternoon I got "Eyes of the Sun" back from PIQF. Y'all remember "Eyes of the Sun", right? But in case you don't, here's my friend Bev standing next to it at PIQF, as my Quilt Stunt Double. I always read the accompanying judges' comments from an exhibit. I know the judges don't have a lot of time with each quilt, so they can't be in-depth, and 9 times out of 10 all they do is tell me something I already know. But I always read them on the chance there could be that 1 out of 10 time they show me something about a piece I hadn't noticed before. This time? Um...not so much. [grin] Here's what my comment sheet said, exactly as written, spelling and all:
*vibrant color pallette works well *hangs well *fun development using scale of "block"
So it's official, y'all. "Eyes of the Sun" is colorful, fun, and well-hung. Yeah baby! Here's hoping that some other exhibit jurors and judges like that in a quilt. Oh, and because some people on a certain email list were complaining about the packaging of their quilts from PIQF, I will mention that mine was packaged perfectly. Thanks, PIQF Angels!

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Having a Little Motherly Chat with my Weather Pixie

Y'all have met my Weather Pixie, right? Cute little redhead, hangs out on my sidebar, just below the SPT logo and above the moon phase box. It's always fun for me to see how the Weather Pixie is dressed because, well, I'm easily amused. What can I say! But today her outfit has me feeling all middle-aged and motherly and I'm not even a mother! Although I am most definitely middle-aged. Winona (I'm tired of typing "weather Pixie", so I hereby name her Winona) was dressed in fun low-rider embroidered blue jeans and a skimpy little short-sleeved tee, with her arms and a lot of her chest bare and her muffin top showing between the shirt and the jeans. Cute, yes? Except, people, the temperature said 36 F!! THIRTY-SIX!! (For those of you who live in CelciusLand, sorry, I'm math-challenged, but that would be just barely above 0 other words Pretty Damn Cold.) That tells me that Winona is a teenager, something I didn't realize until this morning. When I was a teenager, I would totally have gone for "cute" over "warm" and not a soul in this world would have been able to convince me that there was nothing cute about blue-tinged, goose-bump-pebbled bare skin. But now I just want to roll my eyes and shove a coat in her hand and snap "Put this on before you get pneumonia! And do NOT take it off when you're out of sight of the house. Don't you THINK I don't know you do that!" Or...hmmm...maybe she isn't a teenager. Maybe she's a member of the bloodsucking undead. She doesn't really look pale enough, but you never know. In that case she wouldn't feel the cold because she'd already BE cold, but I'd like to tell her that she should wear a coat anyway when the temp is only four degrees above freezing. It would make her blend in better with humanity. Or maybe...MAYBE...she's middle-aged and her hormones are going nuts. Maybe she's like a certain other redhead who shall remain nameless who left dinner cooking on the stove last night in order to run outside, into 40 F weather, misting rain, and howling winds, in order to stand on the back deck, lift her face to the sky, and lift her SHIRT to the sky in order to fan some cold air onto her body before she oh...I dunno...spontaneously combusted or something. Also, would the 20-year-old who stole my brain please return it? 'Cause I really need it. Thanks. Now put some clothes on, Winona!

Good Mail Tuesday

I found treasures in my mailbox yesterday. I had to photograph them together because the coordinated so well. And I had to photograph them on black crushed velvet because they're so sexy! The bundle in the upper part of the photo is a surprise pack from DebL's recent studio clean-up. There's some yummy, yummy stuff in there. I'll post pics when I do something creative with it! Thank you, Deb!! And the fabric postcard in the lower part of the photo is "Textural 4/9" by and from Karoda. As is always the case, it is even more rich and gorgeous in person. Thank you, Karen!! I love Good Mail Days.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

I Got Second Place!

(for my most recent Blogging 4 Books entry, that is) Yay!! :-)

Self-Portrait Tuesday: Cleaning Out My Purse

Take a look inside. Dump everything out. Sort it into piles. Put back the things I need to keep in there. Zip it up. Ready to go. Except maybe I should put on some shoes. That's it for the "selfumentery" month of SPT. Next month we have a new theme. Stay tuned...

Monday, October 24, 2005

What Flower am I? And More Book Stuff

This morning I had to make a run in to the hospital lab for some bloodwork and have been feeling a wee bit puny ever since, so I'm going to fall back on a lame-o quiz today. I think I first saw this one on Gabrielle's blog.
You Are a Daisy
You see the world with an artist's eye. Finding beauty is easy for you - even in the dullest of moments. You notice all of the colors of the world, from fresh grass to sunsets. You are a total optimist and hedonist. You love to drink life in.
Also, back to yesterday's topic of books for a moment, I have to tell you about a couple of things regarding the book I just finished. It was Dean Koontz's "Frankenstein: City of Night", which is the second book in a trilogy, and I can't believe I was stupid enough to read the first two books when I KNOW the third one isn't due out until summer of 2006, by which time I will have forgotten everything I knew about books 1 & 2 and will have to start over. Sigh. And it's totally my own fault this time. This is NOT one of those "hidden trilogy" things I've been known to rant about. They tell you right there on the cover that it's a three-parter. Dumb, Deb....dumb. Anyway, my temporary madness aside, there was a scene in this book where two characters were talking about things that scared them as children and one of them mentioned the Snuggle bear, mascot of Snuggle fabric softener. TOO FUNNY! I was sitting there, late at night, all caught up in this very tense story and then found myself literally giggling out loud because Me TOOOOO! Oh my Gawd!! That damn bear totally creeps me out. I have to mute the TV when he comes on. No one and nothing is THAT sweet unless he's hiding some major evil inside. Fangs? Claws? An Evil Eye? I dunno, what exactly, but that bear is Not Right. [shudder] Then I went to the Dean Koontz website to see if it listed an actual release date for book three of the series and Mr. Koontz was saying that the third installment was taking longer to finish than the first two had (of course!) since he collaborated on the first two, but has since discovered the following about himself: "I am not a good collaborator. This is not as terrible a thing as being a serial killer or a mime, but I'm sorry to have discovered this about myself." So he's writing the third book alone. A serial killer or a MIME! Bwahahahahahaaaa!! Is it any wonder I love this man's writing so much? It's going to be a long wait until July to see how the story ends.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

The DebR Anti-Critic Favorite Modern Book List

Let's talk about books for a while today, shall we? Anyone who reads various blogs in the Artful Quilters' Web Ring will know what brought this on. First Julie mentioned Time Magazine's list of the "100 Best Novels since 1923". Then several others have talked about it, including Debra, Valeri, and Jen M. As I mentioned on Julie's blog, I've read almost nothing on that list, although there are several that I've started and not finished, or where I've seen movies based on the book so that I know the gist of the story. I've only finished 6 of those books. (I said 5 in Julie's comments, but I've been keeping track of titles of books I've read for the past 20 years and in looking over my notes, I discovered I'd actually read one more than I remembered finishing.) Out of the six on that list that I've read all the way through, I didn't particularly like two: "1984" and "The Bridge of San Luis Rey". One I think I liked but I don't remember much about it: "The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe". (I'm sure the Christian slant of the Narnia chronicles flew completely over my head at the time I read them in my early teens. One of these days I should try re-reading them and see what I think as a somewhat religion-phobic adult!) Three I've liked enough to read more than once: "Gone With The Wind", "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy, and "To Kill a Mockingbird" (LOVE that one!). On her blog, Jen linked to a couple of other "top 100" book lists that didn't restrict their pool to just books published after 1923 and I'd read more on those lists, since they included authors like Jane Austen (sheer genius!), Dickens, Twain, Shakespeare, and many others. I still haven't read nearly all the books on those lists either, though. And the thing is, I really don't even want to read many of the books on those lists. Life is too short to slog my way through something I don't enjoy just because some critic - or even lots of critics - say it's a "classic". It will tell you something about my personality (and probably come as no surprise to anyone who reads RSR regularly!) if I say that when it comes to Shakespeare, I love the comedies, but detest the tragedies. I don't care how well-written or intricately plotted they are - when every single person in the story is annoying and often stupid, and most of them die in the end, that just isn't my cup of tea. I've always felt like "Othello" is the great-great-grandfather of every stupidly annoying formula romance ever written. You know the ones...where the hero and heroine supposedly love each other, but they don't trust each other and they fight constantly because of some idiotic misunderstanding that could be entirely cleared up if they'd just TALK to each other honestly for about 5 minutes! Don't get me wrong...I realize the problems went deeper than that in "Othello" but still, some decent communication skills and some kicking of Iago's ass could have gone a long way toward not having everyone kill each other, yes? (That is not, by the way, a dissing of romance novels in general. I like some romance novels. I just want to see the conflict in the story come from something other than the two main characters lacking anything resembling a functioning brain cell.) The books I love best - the ones I return to over and over again - are character driven. I love authors who create characters I wish were real people so I could meet them and talk to them in person. I love authors who create characters I'm glad are not real people because they're so very cruel, or crazy, or frightening that I don't want them on the same planet as me. I love authors who can make both types of characters come alive in my mind so I can see them, and hear them, and picture every action as if it was being played out in front of me. It should, therefore, come as no surprise that I think Jane Austen was a genius. She took the most ordinary - even dull - sorts of everyday situations and made them interesting through the eyes of her characters. My favorite modern authors do the same thing. They create characters who, whether living ordinary lives or involved in something completely extraordinary, come alive in my mind. Also, I like authors who end a story leaving me feeling hopeful about the fate of the characters I've come to care about. I don't necessarily mean a book has to have a perfect "good ending" for me to like it. I can handle sad. But I can't - or more correctly I refuse to - handle hopelessness. I have no use for books that leave me feeling like all is sorrow, and loss, and hopeless disillusionment, and then we become worm food, so why bother. Bleah!! And so MANY of the books that show up on these lists of "modern classics" have exactly that attitude. WHY?? I truly don't understand. If I want disillusionment I can read history, thanks. I don't need it in my fiction. So I decided to counter all those oh-so-serious top 100 book lists with the DebR Anti-Critic Favorite Modern Book List. The books on my list are not necessarily "classics". I'm not trying to say they should be required reading in literature classes or that people will be reading them hundreds of years from now. (Although who knows! Stranger things have happened!!) These are books that are my personal favorites. These are books that make me smile, or cry, or both. These are the books that I return to again and again...the ones I reach for when I can't sleep at 3:00 AM. In order to make it onto my list, a book had to be something I've read at least three times in the past and that I expect to read again in the future. (Which is the only reason you won't see some wonderful new books like "gods in Alabama". Come back in a couple of years, after I've had time to re-read it, and I bet that one will make my list.) It had to be written in the past 100 years, but it also had to not be on the Times top 100 list, just because I'm feeling perverse. [grin] I actually started out with a bigger list than this and then narrowed it down to 52 - one book per week for a year. That means I didn't include some of my favorite fun authors, like Janet Evanovich, Jennifer Crusie, Mary Janice Davidson, Charlaine Harris, Jayne Ann Krentz, and others, even though they totally fit the guidelines I just mentioned. It also means that for certain authors where I like nearly everything they write (three that come immediately to mind are Charles deLint, Dean Koontz, and Barbara Michaels/Elizabeth Peters) I tried to narrow it down to choosing some particular favorites by those authors. So here, for what it's worth, is my personal list of 52 books I will always want on my shelves, in alphabetical order, and with occasional comments: "A Walk Out of the World", Ruth Nichols
"A Wrinkle in Time", Madeleine L'Engle (First in a series I love) "Above Suspicion", Helen MacInnes "Airs Above the Ground", Mary Stewart "Another Fine Myth", Robert Asprin (another "first in a series I love" book, hereafter abbreviated as "FIASIL", since I have several series openers on this list!) "Blood Lines", Tanya Huff (FIASIL) "Burning Water", Mercedes Lackey (FIASIL) "Conjure Wife", Fritz Leiber ( one of my dogs, Tansy, is named for a character in this book) "Crocodile on the Sandbank", Elizabeth Peters (FIASIL) "Devil's Cub", Georgette Heyer "Freaky Friday", Mary Rodgers (so much better than either movie version!) "From the Corner of His Eye", Dean Koontz (deals with quantum physics...way cool) "Gate of Darkness, Circle of Light", Tanya Huff "Greenmantle", Charles deLint "Harry Potter" series, J.K. Rowling (cliche to love these, I know, but I really, really do) "Ingathering: The Books of the People", Zenna Henderson (actually a collection of related short stories) "Jumper", Steven Gould "Lightning", Dean Koontz "Mairelon the Magician", Patricia Wrede (like a Regency romance set in an alternate!) "Mark One: The Dummy", John Ball (would make a great movie) "Moonheart", Charles deLint "Mr. Murder", Dean Koontz "Murder at the A.B.A.", Isaac Asimov (the king of SciFi doing a murder mystery instead, with himself as an annoying secondary character...hilarious) "One Door Away from Heaven", Dean Koontz "Operation Chaos", Poul Anderson (another one that's actually a series of related short stories) "Outlander", Diana Galbadon (FIASIL) "Rebecca", Daphne DuMaurier (the Gothic against which all other Gothics are measured) "Replay", Ken Grimwood "Someplace to be Flying", Charles deLint "Strangers", Dean Koontz "Summer of the Dragon", Elizabeth Peters (my favorite non-series E.P. book) "Summon the Keeper", Tanya Huff (FIASIL) "Tam Lin", Pamela Dean (modern retelling of an old fairy tale in Terry Wilding's series) "The Affair of the Mutilated Mink Coat", James Anderson (hilarious and well-crafted "English house party" murder mystery set in the 1930's) "The Anubis Gates", Tim Powers "The Bad Place", Dean Koontz "The Dark on the Other Side", Barbara Michaels "The Dragon and the George", Gordon Dickson (FIASIL) "The Grand Sophy", Georgette Heyer "The Ivy Tree", Mary Stewart "The Legacy of Heorot", by Niven, Pournelle, and Barnes "The Miracle Strain", Michael Cordy "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress", Robert Heinlein (I'm not generally a huge fan of Heinlein, but I love this one) "The Postman", David Brin (forget the stupid Kevin Costner movie - the book is excellent) "The Practice Effect", David Brin "The Stand", Stephen King (I'm not generally a Stephen King fan either, but I like this one) "TickTock", Dean Koontz "Time and Again", Jack Finney "Trader", Charles deLint "Vertical Run", Joseph Garber "Watchers", Dean Koontz (the first D.K. book I ever read, and still one of my all-time favorites) "Wild Side", Steven Gould Anyone else want to ignore the critics and list your personal Fiction Favorites?

Saturday, October 22, 2005

For a Fun Halloween-themed Time-waster

(because none of us wastes nearly enough time. SNORT!) Try playing a game of Hangman.

Where's Crazy Horse?

A couple of days ago I had to take Tansy to the vet. (Just her usual chronic allergy/skin problems. She's fine, thanks. [smile]) My furkids' vet is Greg H., and his wife, Alison, works with him as his receptionist and assistant. It was the first time I'd been in the office for a couple of months, which is a Good Thing, as it means my dogs and kitty have been doing pretty well lately. When I walked in, I noticed right away that Alison wasn't wearing her usual scrubs. She was, in fact, wearing something that looked suspiciously like maternity wear with a baby-bump under it. I wondered if she was as pregnant as she looked, but as a rule I subscribe to Dave Barry's wisdom that you should never, ever, EVER say anything that implies you have the slightest wisp of a thought that a woman looks pregnant unless a) she says to you, "hey, I'm pregnant", or b) she waves something that looks like a grainy ink blot print in front of your face and says "look at the baby's ultrasound pic", or c) you see an actual baby coming out of her body at that moment. The thing is, I don't always listen to myself. So after spending the entire office visit mentally chanting "I'm not going to ask, I'm not going to ask, I'm NOT going to ask", well...I asked. Quietly. At the end of the visit. Ready to prostrate myself to the ground in abject apology claiming temporary insanity and/or severe head trauma before scurrying away, never to be seen again, if it turned out the answer to "Are you having a baby?" was "No, bitch, I've just gained weight, thanks for noticing". But luckily for me the answer was "Yes, I am.", so Yay! No prostrating, no begging forgiveness or faking an injury, no moving to New Zealand. (Not that that last one would necessarily be a bad thing!) Before I'd even left the building I decided that I had to make a baby quilt as a "welcome to the world" gift. (And I really hope that neither Greg nor Alison read this blog, since this is supposed to be a surprise! I don't think they do.) I was rather excited about this idea by the time I got home. I kind of like making baby quilts. They're fun. They're small, so that means they're fast to finish. And they don't have to be especially original, or innovative, or any sort of artistically great design. They just have to be cute, and cheery, and warm, and made with love. I can do that! Even during an annoying time of creative block I can do that! Yay! So I've spent the last couple of days pulling fabrics, cutting, and starting to stitch. I decided to make simple star blocks with assorted novelty animal prints in the centers and various brightly-colored star points. Vet's kid...animal prints....get it? Not original, but appropriate, yes? Here's a sample of one block: The plan is to sash the blocks in bright stripes or plaids or something. I'll share a pic when it's finished. Anyway, here are some things I've discovered over the past couple of days while working on this quilt: ---I have a strange and heretofore subconscious obsession with cat fabrics. I mean, I knew I bought cat fabrics now and then. But I didn't realize until a couple of days ago how often I bought cat fabrics. Especially brightly colored, moderately bizarre cat fabrics. I have no idea why. I don't really do much with them. But I have a LOT of psychedelic cotton cats in this house. ---On the other hand, despite living right in the middle of horse country, my stash is sadly lacking in horse prints. I have a couple of "realistic" horse prints, if "realistic" means drab colors, and horse anatomy that's about as accurate as a drawing by a horse-crazed 12-year old girl. But I don't have a single wild and crazy neon-colored horse in my stash. Cats? Dozens. Also several dogs, frogs, fish, lizards, birds, cows, chickens, pigs, elephants, hippos, dolphins, bugs, and more. In fact, for someone who doesn't have children, I have a LOT of novelty prints. And I'm not quite sure how that happened. But no horses. I now feel the NEED to find and buy fabric with hot pink or lime green or lemon yellow horses. Is that wrong? ---I remember now that I find this sort of piecing rather mind-numbingly boring. I'm very glad that this is a quilt for a tiny little person so it can be a relatively tiny quilt. ---Despite the boredom of the repetitive piecing, I also remember that I find the idea of making something that will be (hopefully) snuggled, and cuddled, and washed, and used until it's faded and in shreds very satisfying. ---Trimming the "dog ears" off the flying geese units for these brightly-colored stars makes very pretty trash in my teal-green trash can:

Friday, October 21, 2005

Fall Four-Foto Friday

A late October day in Kentucky: Front yard, looking toward the Upper Pond Back yard, right next to the curly willow tree I can see from my studio window Back yard, further back toward the barn, looking toward one of my favorite views And even closer to the barn, looking in the same general direction as the previous shot (This shot, which is clickable if you want to see it larger in a new window, is actually two slightly different angles very inexpertly stitched together in Photoshop to make a panoramic view. One of these days I need to learn to do that correctly!) We had a very dry summer, so the foliage colors aren't as spectacular as they are some years, but I still think it looks pretty. Or maybe I should say looked pretty. This morning we have lots of wind and rain, so I bet huge numbers of these leaves will be on the ground before nightfall. PS...I'm sewing! Don't get too excited. It isn't an art quilt. It's a baby quilt for a friend. But still, it's sewing! I'll share photos soon.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Another Good Mail Day

Look what I got from Frances yesterday: "Experiment 9" by Frances Caple Lovely, yes? And the back is a glorious shade of orange! Thank you, Frances! And look at this surprise prezzie from Dara: A Shoe Fetish Queen night shirt and she has red hair!! How perfect is that?! The printer "messed up" (HA! I call it FATE!) and gave her red hair instead of blonde, so Dara decided I had to have one. Thank you, Dara! I love Good Mail days. :-)

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

A Letter to the Editor of QNM

This morning, I was reading Caity's blog and one of her posts talked about how disappointed she was in the recent changes in Quilter's Newsletter Magazine. She posted a copy of a letter she wrote to the editors and I had to laugh a little because I'd done the same thing just over a week ago and had listed very nearly the same complaints that Caity detailed. Here's a copy of the letter I sent to QNM:
Dear Editors, I just wanted to write to you and tell you how disappointed I am in Quilter's Newsletter Magazine's recent format change. I deliberately waited a few months to contact you because I know sometimes we can all be resistant to change and I'd hoped that as I became accustomed to the new look and content changes that I would appreciate them more. Instead the opposite is true. I dislike it more with every issue and no longer look forward to QNM showing up in my mailbox the way I have for the past 15 years. What I always liked about QNM was that it wasn't just another average pattern magazine. I liked the emphasis on how-to articles; profiles of quilters, both well-known and not-so-well-known; reviews of new books, products, and websites; show-and-tell style photos of quilts; show info; and editorial opinions. I liked the fact that there was usually a good mixture of traditional quilts and more innovative styles represented on your pages. There were always a couple of patterns included, but that wasn't the primary function of the magazine all these years, which made it different than 90% of the other quilting magazines out there. Now the content seems to be emphasizing traditional quilts and patterns at the expense of innovation and information. The photography and page layouts seem "cutesy" to me, with props and odd angles instead of clean, professional, straight-on photographs of the quilts. I feel like I've gotten used to a sophisticated product that has decided to "dumb down". It's very disappointing. I'm a member of many quilt groups and I know I'm not the only one who feels this way, so I hope others are making their opinions known too, and I hope you will listen and consider making changes that will return QNM to the high-quality publication it was for so many years. As it stands now, for the first time in 15 years I don't plan to renew my subscription when it expires. But I'll be watching every new issue and will be open to changing my mind, as I hope you are. Thank you for your time. Sincerely, Deb Richardson
I received a brief, but very nice, note back from editor Irene Berry saying they were "grateful I took the time to share my thoughts", etc., etc. Of course I have my doubts about them listening, but then again you never know. If enough people hate the changes as much as Caity and I do, and all those people let them know that, then maybe it will make a difference. We can but hope...

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Self-Portrait Tuesday: Lunch with Granny Smith, Peter Pan, and Deb

Come join me for one of my favorite lunches - a tart Granny Smith apple - peeled because eating the peeling grosses me out (it's a texture thing!) and spread with creamy peanut butter - Peter Pan, because that's the peanut butter picky people pick. Somehow I find it both comforting and a little unsettling to see how much my hands look like my mother's hands in these photos, especially the second and third shots. Now...did someone else bring dessert?

Monday, October 17, 2005

The Magic of Shoes

As I mentioned recently, I entered an essay in the Manolo's shoe essay contest. The Manolo said he received nearly 500 entries! Yikes! That's tough competition! Still, I hoped. Last night he announced the winners (you can read their entries by clicking on the link above). And, alas, my name wasn't on the list. But even if it wasn't deemed prize-worthy in the eyes of the judges, I liked my shoe essay, so I'll share it here with you here: "The Magic" One of my most vivid early memories is of being scolded for breaking a glass shoe. It's true. My great-aunt had a small figurine sitting on her dresser. It showed a graceful hand holding a beautiful, high-heeled, glass pump, decorated with fat pink glass roses and shiny green glass leaves. I was certain that Aunt Maxine had somehow come to possess Cinderella's famous glass slipper. What else could it be? I had to touch it. No, more than that, I had to try it on! I just knew it would fit and I would be magically transformed from an ordinary little girl into a princess. After all, isn't that what magic slippers do? I was forbidden to touch it, but I could no more stay away from that glass shoe than a moth could ignore a flame. I waited until no one was looking one day and dragged over a footstool to stand on and carefully reached for the slipper. Then I oh-so-cautiously climbed down from the stool with it cradled in my hands. I sat down and took off my dirty tennis shoe and sock so I could try on the magic slipper. And I broke it, of course. It was inevitable. I was heartbroken; sure I had ruined the magic. But you know what? The magic is still there. Every time I drive past my favorite shoe store I feel that same moth-to-the-flame pull I felt that day so long ago. I love to try on the new styles and picture where my feet might take me. And when I find just the right pair to bring home? Magic. I may be too old to believe in Cinderella these days, but I hope I'm never too old to believe in the magic of a beautiful pair of shoes.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Group Sampler Wedding Quilt: A Cautionary Tale

Gather 'round, children, and let me tell you a story. Once upon a time there was a woman we'll call Debbo. Debbo belonged to a fun group of online fiber artists and one day a member of the group announced that he was about to get married. There was joy and laughter and dancing in the streets! Granted, this particular group is pretty much ready to mix up pitchers of margaritas and dance in the streets if someone so much as finds a pair of jeans that fit, but still, it was a HappyHappyJoyJoy occasion, ok? Debbo, wanting to do something to commemorate such a momentous event, had what seemed at the time to be a brilliant idea. "Hey, guys", she said enthusiastically, "let's put on a show! Oh, er, no, I mean....Let's make a quilt as a wedding gift!" And everyone else cheered and said "yes, yes, let's do it!" and there was more laughter, dancing, etc, etc. When everyone sobered up (heh!) Debbo came up with some guidelines for the project. Knowing that this particular group was not exactly known for being traditional and that many of them were other sorts of fiber artists rather than quilters, Debbo decided to keep the rules to a minimum and told everyone to send whatever they wanted as long as it was a quilt block of some kind - any size, any style, any colors, any fabrics - and she would "make it work". Not long after Debbo announced the "rules" (for lack of a better term), the blocks started to arrive in her mailbox. She opened the first envelope and thought "ooooh, pretty!". She opened the second envelope a few days later. "Ooooh, pretty!" And so on, and so on. Until one day, after several envelopes had arrived, Debbo decided to get them out and look at the blocks that had arrived so far all together. That was when the icy horror gripped her little pink heart. Each block individually was lovely, but together...well, some of these blocks didn't look like they should be in the same dimension, never mind the same quilt! Had Debbo really told all these nice people to send "anything" and assured them she would "make it work"? Yes, I'm afraid she had. That, boys and girls, brings us to our vocabulary word for the day: "hubris". Can you say it after me? "Hu-bris." Good! Let's see what Mr. Merriam and Mr. Webster have to say about "hubris". From Merriam-Webster Online:
Main Entry: hu·bris Pronunciation: 'hyü-br&s Function: noun Etymology: Greek hybris : exaggerated pride or self-confidence
That's right, children! Debbo had momentarily lapsed into one of her periodic "ten-foot-tall-and-bullet-proof" delusions of grandeur. Aren't those fun? When you're, you know...someone else and watching her try to leap tall buildings in a single bound, that is. So now Debbo was faced with all these quilt blocks, sent by all these people she likes and didn't want to disappoint. She made herself a little! I didn't mean that. She gave herself a pep talk, yeah, that's it, that's what she did...and she set to work - arranging, rearranging, looking for patterns and relationships to see if she could make the very disparate blocks play nicely with each other. Finally, yesterday afternoon at just before 6 PM, she put the last stitch into the quilt top. While it may not be the most gorgeous thing ever made, it doesn't look as much like it was created by a deranged crack whore as Debbo had been afraid it might! Take a look (photo is clickable for brave souls who want to see it larger): (Created by a professional quilter in a closed studio. Do not try this at home!) It is Debbo's theory that the blocks are all deathly afraid of that purple and gold fabric and don't dare cross its boundaries, so they have to stay put and play together! Debbo took this photo late in the day in weird light, so the colors are not quite true (the purple border is much less red than that!), but it gives you a rough idea of the result. And that, boys and girls, is the end of the first chapter. Stay tuned for the second chapter: "Will Quilting Make It Better Or Worse?"

Good Mail Saturday!

Looky Looky at what I got yesterday: "Rock Pool #5" from Valeri Isn't it beautiful? I love water-themed art work. Thank you, Valeri! Not only is it beautiful in its own right, but it made a nice change from the mail I got Friday (all bills!) and Thursday (all junk mail that went straight in the round file!). I love Good Mail days. What did you use as backing on your postcards? Is that freezer paper? It's very slick and cool-feeling. That's half the AQ Web Ring postcard swappers heard from! Yay!

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Leaf Me Alone! (groooaaan)

Today I'm doing a little FotoFriday on Saturday. Hey, last week I did Self-Portrait Tuesday on Wednesday, so what the heck! Today's theme is Leaves. When I went for a walk yesterday evening, I saw a sycamore leaf in the driveway and thought it was very interesting looking, but I like the photo even better this way: I also saw some wild fall asters peaking out through the leaves of a gum tree at the edge of the woods. (Maybe a gum tree, that is! I should know what tree this is, but I'm not sure I'm getting that right!) Anyway, I tried this shot both with and without a flash, and I messed with it in Photoshop, but I still can't find a way to get the color just right. The asters were more periwinkle than shown here. But if I get the red of the leaves right, the asters look washed out. If I get the asters right, the leaves look too purple. Never mind! I went for getting the color right on the leaves at the expense of the asters: This morning I stepped onto the back deck and noticed how bright and glowy my volunteer fall leaf lettuce looked in the morning sun: Then I decided to take a close-up portion of the photo and abstract it in Photoshop: I think I have an idea for next week's Self-Portrait Tuesday, so I'm going to try taking some photos today and maybe that way I can actually post them on the right day. Yeah, baby! And finally, before I go, would anyone out there like to adopt a 9-year-old, 100+ pound, golden retriever-mix dog who enjoys giving herself wet, slurpy tongue baths right next to the bed at 5:30 AM? She's very sweet. Really! Really!! And I wouldn't really give her away. But this morning? I was not amused. My final Pet Peeve of National Pet Peeve Week: I hate it when I have insomnia and don't fall asleep until sometime after 3 AM and the dogs decide I need to be awake at the crack of sparrow fart.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Somehow This Just Seemed Appropriate Today

Y'all can thank Mean Teacher for this one.
You scored as Couch Potato Cat. Decorative pillow? No, that'd be you sitting on the couch, even still. Hmm. . . I'm guessing you have Web TV.

Couch Potato Cat


Love Machine Cat


Drunk Cat


Pissed at the World Cat


Deranged Cat


Ninja Cat


Nerd Cat

Which Absurd Cat are you? created with

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Welcome to My Whiny Mood (I'd Run if I Were You!)

Today I intended to sew. I don't know what exactly I intended to sew, I just intended to start something new because it's been too long since I've accomplished something quilty. But before I figured out what to work on (note the skillful stalling tactics!) I decided to take care of another chore, namely uploading a couple of photo files to a small group I'm a member of because, well, never mind why, that isn't important. The point is they'd requested a photos of a couple of recent works from each member. So I looked through my quilt photos. Bad idea. I should never, ever DO that when I'm in this particular state of mind. Because when I slide into this dark, whiny-ass mood there is no pleasing me. I normally like my quilts. I have no delusions that they are great and timeless art, but I like them. They make me happy - usually. Not today. Today I looked at the photos and thought "Crap. Crap. Crap. STINKING Crap. Crap. More Crap. Crap." You get the idea. So here's a portion of the note I wrote to the aforementioned group of friends:
"This is a bad time for me to be doing this because I'm going through one of those MOODS I go through now and then - the Mood where I decide I'm a talentless hack who should stop torturing poor, defenseless fabric and go flip burgers at McDonald's while pursuing the creative hobbies of painting ceramic gnomes and making polyester loopy potholders in my spare time. In other words, right now I'm making nothing new, I'm feeling like I will never again make anything new, and I pretty much hate most of my old stuff."
May I just state for the record how much I hate it when I feel this way? I don't do angst well. I don't have enough practice at it. I'm much, much better at cheery and irreverent. So I'm ready for this to be over now. I'm ready to feel creative again. I'm ready to have a quilt idea I actually like, dammit. My Pet Peeve for the day: I hate my brain when it's had too much whine.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005


I just got home from a one-day temp assignment and logged onto ye olde 'puter to discover that my Blogging 4 Books entry is a finalist this month! Yay!! If you want to read the other finalists, you can find the list on Joshilyn's blog. Thank you, Kira, for liking my entry! I also found, in the comments for yesterday's Self-Portrait Tuesday post, that both Sonji and Jen want to get a closer look at the ring I was wearing that day. I must confess, I had to pull up the photos and see which one it was. I tend to coordinate my right-hand ring with whatever I'm wearing that day. Have I ever mentioned that in addition to being a Shoe Ho, I'm also a Jewelry Ho? Um, yeah. Well, some jewelry anyway. I rarely wear necklaces, bracelets, or pins. Not never, mind you, but rarely. But I have a serious jones for rings and earrings. So here, just for Jen and Sonji is a larger-than-life-size shot of the ring in question, an amethyst set in yellow gold: Photographing jewelry is HARD, y'all! I lost count of how many tries it took before I got a photo where you could actually see any detail! Jen wanted a story and I have ideas floating around my head about ancient Egyptians and mummy's curses, given the markings on the band, but I think I'm too tired to form them into coherent sentences right now, so I'll just tell the boring truth. I saw it. I liked it. I bought it. Yep, that's it. It wasn't even a gift for a special occasion or anything. I just really loved it, and decided that like the commercial used to say, "I'm worth it". Needless to say (so why am I saying it?? Hhhmmm...) that little purchase was in the days before our current Austerity Plan. But I got a good deal on it. Really! ;-)

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Another Self-Portrait Tuesday Self-umentary

On Sundays, Johnny and I go to town to buy a newspaper and have brunch. Here is a glimpse of our journey this past Sunday. I drove. There's the restaurant. This place pretty much meets the textbook definition of "greasy spoon", but if you don't let yourself think about the "greasy" part too much, they make really yummy southern, country-style breakfasts. Looking at the breakfast menu. I don't know why. I know I like the Hobo Breakfast the best. What's the Hobo Breakfast? A sort of hash made from ham, potatoes, onions, and peppers, served with eggs and toast. And here it is: the Hobo Breakfast, AKA Heart Attack on a Plate No, your eyes do not deceive you. J and I both put cream gravy on our eggs when we come here. We don't eat this way very often, but when we do, we go all out. After breakfast we go searching for a Lexington newspaper and finally find one at the third location we try. Think I'll take a look at the paper while J makes a stop in the auto parts store. He's heading for the car. See ya next time! Pet Peeve of the Day: I hate it when I go to a restaurant and order toast and the bread isn't "toasty" enough. If it has snowy-white edges, then they didn't leave it in the toaster as long as they should have.