Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Quilt Math

I got my sewing machine back from the shop yesterday. I had it in for semi-routine maintenance. The 'dashboard' has service symbols when it's time for an oiling or professional service. I oil my machine far more often than the light indicates. Maybe that's why the service symbol doesn't come on, I just bring it in when it's been a while.

Last time I had it in for service was in April of 2008. The tech provided me with some statistics from my machine's computer.

General sewing time: 25:39
Stitches: 6,802,510
Time using the embroidery module: 1:23
Embroidery stitches: 502,400
Time quilting with the stitch regulator module (BSR): 1:36
BSR stitches: 5,490,480
Total time: 28:38
Total stitches: 12,795,390

Since I bought my machine used, all the embroidery work was done by the previous owner since I don't have that part.

I asked for the same statistics this time, almost three years later.

General sewing time: 99:37
stitches: 2,572,174
Time using the embroidery module: 1:23
embroidery stitches: 50,240
Time using BSR: 1:43
BSR stitches: 773,830
Total time: 102:43
Total stitches: 3,396,244
Total time turned on: 6233:51

OK, so do you see the problem here? The first set of numbers is off. By a lot, a factor of 10. I'm guessing there's an extra zero at the end of the older counts. After I adjust for that what puzzles me the most is how I could have sewn 224,782 stitches with the BSR in seven minutes.

I guess it's a new form of quilt math I'm not aware of.

Monday, December 05, 2011

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Charm Pack Baby Quilt

This is a baby quilt I'm making for one of the guys in the office. I just need to put on the binding, it's already quilted and washed.

I made this from a charm pack, a pack of 40 or so 5" squares.

Keeping the order of the squares in tact, I sliced off 1.5" off each side, then the top and bottom; then shuffled the bottom center square to the top of the stack and reassemble the blocks. I then arranged the blocks on point in a zigzag pattern in the same order as the squares from the original pack. I added setting triangles and two two-inch borders. The checkerboard border was made from two fabrics that match some in the original pack which I got separately. After quilting, it finished to about 30" square.

I got to use a friend's long-arm for the first time to quilt this. It was way fun, even for a beginner. I wish I had the space and money for my own long arm. In the mean time I'll keep renting/bartering time on other machines.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Monday, October 17, 2011

I Hate Autumn

I love autumn, really, the low-angle light and dramatic skys, the changing colors, the cool crisp air, beautiful. It's probably my favorite season.

But I hate autumn.

We northern hemisphere homosapiens are genetically programmed to add insulation in the fall for the upcoming winter. The number on the scale gets larger every time you get on it. What doesn't help are the holidays: Kevin's birthday (cake), Halloween (candy), Thanksgiving (pie), Christmas (luncheons, cookies, more pie), New Year's eve (chips and dip), Super Bowl Sunday (more chips, more dip), and Valentine's Day (chocolate). You don't get a break until March, and by then the damage has been done. The hips are larger than ever and you're on the brink of having to buy yet another wardrobe.

So I've decided I'm cutting out carbs now. Well, actually, I started Saturday. No pasta, no candy, no bread and butter, no cereal. I plan on getting a jumpstart on counteracting this weight thing.

As I type this, I can hear the guys in the next cube talking about the bagels that were brought in today. Sheesh.

I can do this. Who's with me?

Monday, October 10, 2011

Sunday, September 25, 2011

How to turn an iPhone photo into a magazine quality image

My lunch of pesto cavatappi from Noodles & Company.

Original image


Added saturation and contrast

Added point of focus

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Monday, September 19, 2011

Saturday, August 27, 2011

The dark side

So I did it, I crossed over. I opened a twitter account.

I'd been resisting for a long time, I really didn't need yet another thing to obsess about, but a couple things perpetuated my decision to cross over to the dark twitter side.

First, my husband seemed to be having too much fun reading his feed, laughing at the funny ones, and occasionally quoting to me the best.
I want to have fun too!

Second, the author of The art of iPhoneography, the book I just bought, talked about posting photos to extend your creativity. She suggests twitter.

I created my twitter account, and picked some folks to follow. Then came the old tree-in-the-forest question: If you tweet with no followers, is it a tweet at all? Then a strange thing happened, I got followers, people I didn't know, and not the folks I followed. It is kinda creepy.

Last night I set up another account on Instagram. It's a social network for photographers mentioned in the iPhoneography book, a place where I can post pictures and have them exported as tweets. Already, I have a couple followers and I'm ok with that. I'm not sure what the difference is, why one is creepy and one isn't, I'm still trying to identify what it is.

Anyway, here I am, exploring the dark side.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Myrtle Beach -circa 2011

While I was at Urban Outfitters yesterday, I bought a book called The Art of iPhoneography by Stephanie C. Roberts. I'm finding it to be a great resource for the camera and apps and taking images with my iPhone. And a great source of inspiration.

I've just read through the first couple sections and now am inspired to take and post more photos from my phone or iPad. Like all my new projects, I'm gonna do this everyday! So, that is the first one, taken from the balcony of our beach condo just a little while ago.

This was taken with the ShakeItPhoto app on the iPad.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011


Ok, July is gone, but the heat lingers.

I still haven't watched Howard's End yet, the netflix disc taunts me continually. I did see the rest of the Harry Potter movies before the premier of HP-VIIb. I took Kevin to see the show at midnight. It was fun, getting caught up in the whole first-night frenzy, but I really want to see it again in a normal way, no craziness, no kids in school uniforms. Dan hasn't seen it yet, either, so I'm thinking "date night!" Every time I think I have an open evening, our darling daughter gets a call asking her to work, and no daughter means no supervision for Kevin.

Speaking of Kevin, Dan and I are discussing getting him a cell phone. There are many times when he's out on his bike, for example, and I want to get a message to him, like, "come home!" Last month when Dan was in California I'd hand my phone to Kevin so he could type out a message to his dad. Sometime he'd rebel, sometime he'd answer Dan's questions, and sometimes he'd just type back what was asked of him. Written echolalia. I'm afraid, on the other hand, he'll lose it, or it'll get taken from him; he won't be responsible for it, or he'll manage to run up a $600 phone bill. Fern managed to rack up an extra $120 last month, so anything is possible with The Boy.

I have a stack of Girl Scout vests I've been ignoring and many quilting projects that should require my attention. I've set a goal of finishing one by the time state and county fair entries are due so I'll have to get it done. I need to get another quilt done by October so it can be included in a book being published by the woman who designed the patterns. Add the monthly sewing obligation of the swap we're doing in my bee. Sheesh.

OK, that's enough for now, just listing it all out makes my head hurt.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Movie Time

June was British Movie month here at Anne's House.

I didn't plan it that way, it just happened. In no particular order (because I can't remember the order), this is what I watched:

Moulin Rouge!, ok, it's not a British film, but it's got the guy who plays the young Obi-Wan Kenobi in it and everybody knows Obi-Wan's British. I was surprised how much I liked this, even if it's a story-within-a-story-within-a-story story.

The Secret Garden featuring Maggie Smith as Mrs. Medlock. The book was a free download on my kindle so I got it, then wanted to watch the movie. It's a decent adaptation, but the book is better.

Maybe I should have called it "Maggie Smith Movie Month" because she was also in A Room with a View with Dame Judi Dench, which I'd seen before, but was confusing it with Howards End in my mind, which I have all ready to watch from Netflix. Both have Helena Bonham Carter so you can see my confusion. And as a bonus, Room has three fully naked men in it.

Our beloved Maggie was also in Harry Potter I, Harry Potter II and Harry Potter III. Since Harry Potter VIIb is opening next week I've been trying to catch up on all the movies.

Helena Bonham Carter was also in HP-V, HP-VI, and HP-VIIa but I can't list those this month.

This list of movies reads like a complicated family tree. Dame Judi, was also in The Importance of Being Earnest with the wonderful Colin Firth.

The last movie on my June list is Calendar Girls, delightful film with Helen Mirren and Julie Walters. And if that name isn't familiar, she was in all the Harry Potter movies as Molly Weasley.

I'll put together a July list sometime in August. What have you been watching?

Monday, July 04, 2011


July 3, 2011
I'm sitting on the beach at Rehoboth, DE watching Kevin play at the edge of the surf. He truly is an amazing child. And not because I'm his mom and am paid to think that. If you don't know Kevin, he's my eighteen year old autistic son. 

Kevin is always happy, or nearly so. He finds joy in all that he does. He is perfectly happy sitting in the surf on a crowded beach on a holiday weekend where most of us would get antsy with the crowdedness. He scoops sand from a wet hole in front of him and pats it on to a mound beside him. Scoop, pat, pat, pat. Scoop, pat, pat, pat. He is never distraught when a wave laps up to fill in his hole and erodes the mound. He continues his mission when the water recedes. And for an hour or more he continues like that, building his shapeless mound, which gets larger as the afternoon wears on and the tide gets lower. Perfectly happy. 

At home he can be happy riding his bike through the neighborhood, or playing with legos for hours on end, or commandeering my iPad and slinging birds at silly green pigs. He is happy where he is and never complains of boredom; he takes care of himself. 

But more than that, he's amazing because he wants for nothing. He is very hard to shop for because of this, however. He just doesn't want anything. He's not the type of kid who peruses the Sears Christmas catalog and circles six things on every page. I'm reminded of a scene in Harry Potter I where Dumbledore tells Harry about the Mirror of Desire, it shows the true desire of anyone who looks into it (Harry sees a family, Dumbledore sees warm socks) and anyone who is truly happy will see only himself. I think Kevin would see only himself. 

It amazes me that in this materialistic world we live in, I have a child who is so happy and joyful with what he has.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Progress. Well, Sort Of.

I started a post last week after Memorial Day, but never got to finish it. Now I'll add in more current news and click "publish post" already.

The weekend was hot and also productive. Dan and I got most of the garage cleaned out and offered up many items up on Freecycle. If you're gonna have to find a mouse in the garage, it's better to find a dead one. Dan scooped it up for me. He's such a great husband. We bought Fern a new bike so she can ride to her summer jobs when she needs too.

I got Being There watched. I hadn't seen it for over 30 years and I'd forgotten a lot. It was still funny, but different than I remembered. The phrase "I like to watch" still makes me smile.

I got the badge sewing done on the vest I'd had for a while. I'm glad it's out of my hair. However, two more arrived in my in-box so I'm not done yet. I'd really like to quit, but I enjoy having the extra cash, it buys fun things like my iPad.

I can't remember what else I got done on Sunday. I'm sure it'll come to me later. Monday was hot was glad to be able to hang out at AM's house for her pool party.

This past weekend I flew solo. Dan went to the Eastern Shore for golf school. He's been so frustrated lately because he can't get any better even though he plays a lot. I took Fern to take the SAT on Saturday morning. I got everything ready the night before, pencils, calculator, admission ticket and snacks and told her she needed to take her ID. So, on the way to the test I ask her if she had her ID, and, no, she didn't. I waited in the parking lot for her text telling me if they let her in or not. Yes, she got in, but I needed to bring her ID back before the end of the test. After that it seemed I spent the whole day driving around for this and that.

I've downloaded SimCity™ for my iPad. Of course I got hooked right away. Sims are fickle, stupid people. In my current city I've gotten my population up over 1.2 million people, then for no reason, they move out and my population goes down to 450,000. They they realize the schools are not over crowded and move back in. They complain 2% residential tax rate is too high, but they were fine with the 4% I had set yesterday. They are harder to figure out than teenagers. I tried to upload a screen shot of my city with no luck. I'll try a different method later.

This weekend I'm off to Towson University for the Maryland State Special Olympic Games. Kevin will be swimming again. We got "kicked" out of the dorms this year. The coaches want me to help chaperon, but don't like the fact Kevin tended to wander a little too far for their liking an the block party last year. Thing is, Kevin can wander whether or not we're staying in the dorms. I'm not looking forward to all the down time between races (and the delightful cafeteria food), but Kevin loves it so that's all that matters, right? Maybe I'll try to take some sewing projects with me so I don't get too far behind. Again.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Posting Again - More Randomness

I'm behind.


Story of my life really.

I've got sewing homework due tonight I haven't finished. I am supposed to make 18 blue exchange blocks. I've got 14 blocks cut out and partially sewn. Then the bobbin ran out and I quit. I should have been working on the blocks this weekend but started a strip quilt instead. Oh well, never could get my priorities right.

I've got a girl scout vest that needs attention.
Not to mention it's that time of the year when I'll be getting a lot more vests to work on, too.

Back in March I planted a half pound pack of pea seeds. They came up nicely, growing wonderfully, I was looking forward to yummy peas right off the vine until the rabbits had a salad.

Fern is interviewing at a private high school today, she is tired of the general population at Bowie HS. for example, she's taking the HSAs this week, those minimum standard tests needed for graduation in biology, government and English, and some of her fellow students who don't take the tests seriously cause disruptions. She's just tired of it all. I don't blame her.

Ever since she took the PSAT in October she has been inundated with recruiting propaganda from colleges all over the country, most I'd never heard of. Her SAT equivalent theoretically was 1800, is that good these days? She wanted to take the SAT this spring instead of waiting until fall of her junior year so I signed her up for the session in June.

Kevin has a swim meet this weekend. Its the PG Special Olympics county meet, which is usually a big one, most counties attend, but for some reason only 47 athletes from four counties have registered so it should be over quickly. That means in the noon-2 window instead of the 4-5 window. They will be running the long races, though so that does take a lot of time. But still, fingers are crossed. I'll be there all day to time races. If anyone needs volunteer hours, I can hook you up.

Then we're off to the State Games in June and swim season will be over. yay.

I've broken part of my molar and I probably ought to have it checked out. It doesn't hurt, but it's kind of achy. Sheesh.


Monday, April 18, 2011

Being There

I started my college life at Urbana College in Ohio. Second quarter my freshman year a new transfer student moved into my life, for the next two years we were joined at the hip. I introduced Josie to Piper who already lived across the hall from me in the dorm. Piper was a sophomore, but the three of us hung out together when our schedules allowed.

At the end of my sophomore year I decided on yet another major, pre-pharmacy, and transferred to VCU to better my chances to get in to pharmacy school at MCV. I never got into MCV and settled on Geography instead. Josie, in the mean time, studied graphic design and Piper majored in elementary education.

Time goes by, as it usually does, and I didn't keep in touch with the other two as I ought've. A letter here and a phone call there lead me to learn Josie woke up one day and decided to go to dental school, got accepted at OSU, and eventually bought herself a practice. I've always admired her for that, completely changing her course in life without looking back. Several years ago I learned she had been diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer and it had spread.

Last June when I was in Columbus for the Perl conference I got to have lunch with Piper and we got to catch up, but Josie was out of town and we didn't get to see each other. Piper filled me in on a lot of Josie and her condition, how she had sold her practice the year before, how her leg was broken but they were unable to insert a rod to fix it until the chemo round was done, how she couldn't ride her beloved horses. I kept telling myself I really needed to go back out and see her.

Saturday night I got a call on my cell; Piper was on the caller ID. My heart stopped. I knew it wasn't good news. I answered the call, Josie was still alive, but barely. Hospice had been brought in and her husband didn't think she'd last more than a couple days. Do I go now? Do I wait for the funeral? Do I want to keep her memory healthy and vibrant, or ruin that picture with a conscience-clearing visit to see her, near death, not guaranteed to even know I was there?

That little voice in my head was telling me that she would die soon, today or tomorrow, and her service would be next Monday. Don't worry about seeing Josie now, it' won't matter. Go to the service next week and be there for Piper.

When I was struggling to come up with a title for this post I tried out several possibilities, then typed 'Being There' to describe the relationship between friends. Then I just stared at it with a lump in my throat. How could I forget? Being There, the 1979 Peter Sellers film, was our favorite movie that first quarter together at school. The little theater in town didn't get a lot of new releases so Jos and I saw this movie several times. We quoted it all the time and laughed, just laughed, at all those silly things that struck us funny, our little inside jokes that lasted for years. Not until it was written and staring at me did I realize the weight of what I'd typed. How had I'd completely forgotten all about the movie until just now? Life continues to surprise. And Soothe.


Friday, April 15, 2011

What Kind of Designs?

I just noticed today blogspot/google has a stats tab on my blog dashboard. I like stats, I do work for a statistical agency after all.

I clicked on the tab to find out what blogger offered. I already employ two other free stat services on my blog, how does blogger's stats compare?

Blogger's stats are simpler in content and to use. The summary page shows a graph of page views, traffic, audience and posts; the detail pages show more info about each category. I clicked on the traffic page and viewed a list of referring URLs, those pages that point to my blog, this very one you're reading. How did you get here, anyway? I see on the list a variety of sources, Google is to be expected as is other friends' blogs. What I didn't expect was what was listed second on the all-time list: with 69 instances.

I'm still scratching my head over that.


Tuesday, March 29, 2011

I Forgot the Best One

From the weekend, Sunday morning Kevin burst into our room declaring "No snow! No snow! It's spring!" to which I turned to look out the window only to see the trees covered with the white stuff.

Monday, March 28, 2011

If I Tweeted

A weekend round-up tweet style:

Taking home Fern's BF. Why can't his parents drive more often?

Finished two GS vests before bed, glad to get them off the stack.

Why am I up so early on a Saturday? Oh yeah, Special Olympics State Games for basketball.

Will these opening ceremonies ever end?

First game finally started, down @ half 18-10 against a Howard Co. team.

Sad loss for our player development team: 34-28 final.

Second game, a win against Anne Arundel Co. 20-10 for the Bronze medal.

@BJ's with Dan; bought two grape vine plants; need to figure out a place to plant them.

Kevin wore his medal to church.

@Noodles & Co for Kevin's favorite lunch. Trying to oust the current mayor on Foursquare.

Off to our guild's quilt show, working the admissions desk 1-2; white glove 2-3;

Don't think my quilt got the best display location but it wasn't a winner anyway. Still sad.

Back home in time to see the last minutes of VCU's win over Kansas. Go Rams!

Finished another GS vest, 4 to go.

Picking up Three Brothers for supper, then home to watch Amazing Race.

Wish I hadn't lost my VCU class ring, maybe I need a new VCU shirt for my collection

Really wish I were sleeping.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

A Few Vacation Pics - The Netherlands

A working windmill near Zuiderzee

A view of many bridges over a canal (forgot which one) in Amsterdam

Another canal bridge

Tulips at the flower market in Amsterdam

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Sew Fabulous Quilt Shop Blog: March 2011 Giveaway

I entered a giveaway (and thusly promised to post about it here.)

Sew Fabulous Quilt Shop Blog: March 2011 Giveaway....And An Apology!: "Happy March! I apologize for this post being so late. If you read my last blog post, A Very Unfortunate Rotary Cutter Accident, you'll und..."


Monday, March 14, 2011

Dinner at Blue Pepper, Amsterdam

This is thee courses of our five-course dinner at Blue Pepper restaurant. I forgot to take pictures of the other two before they were gone.
First course was duck, fish pâté, and crab with mango.

Second course was seafood soup served with lemon.

The third course was lamb satay and chicken satay.
The fourth course was the main entree, the Rijsttafel. The first picture is of the condiments, the second one is the selection of curried meats and seafood.

The last course was dessert with fermented rice pudding with coconut ice cream, pear cooked in blue curaçao, and mango salad.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

iPad Cover!

Friday, March 11, 2011

30 Hours

The suitcase is still empty. I have not packed any clothes. sheesh. I have been packing my carry-on bag, got my camera and tour books together, extra memory cards and knitting needles (just in case I stumble past a yarn shop).

I guess I didn't want to pack too soon, but now I'm leaving tomorrow for a week with my mom in Netherlands & France and I haven't even considered wardrobe options. Except for which coat to take, I have thought of that. And the jury is still out on that, too. I'm afraid of being cold and damp one day and too hot the next.

I've been talking to Mom most everyday this week, swapping information, quizzing each other on desired destinations. We'll have a full day in Amsterdam of free time and a half-day in Paris. The D'Orsey is in renovations; a lot of good stuff at the Louvre is out on tour (I'll have to see Mona at another time); Versailles is too vast to see in a single afternoon; our front runners are currently Musee des Arts Decoratifs and Musee Marmottan (good Monet collection).

I think I need to do laundry tonight. Right after I stop at the Apple store.


Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Try and Try Again- A New Month's Resolution

On January first I decided on a resolution, to lose five pounds. I amended it to a "new month's" resolution, to lose five pounds by the end of the month. The very next day I was up a pound and a half. Not a good start. Now I had to lose 6.5 lbs to reach the goal.

At the end of January I'd lost 4 lbs. I set the goal again for February. I wasn't very clear if it was for a new five pounds, or just to get to the original goal. Vague was good. The ultimate goal is ten lbs from the high point, but I wanted to break it down in monthly chunks.

A week into the new month I'd lost another pound and it was staying lost. A week later, the weight pretty stable-neither up nor down, I saw an orthopedist who said I had tendinitis in my right bicep and prescribed an anti-inflammatory to be taken on a full stomach. You know what that meant, I'd forget to take the pills with dinner so I'd have to have a hearty snack at bedtime which lead to regaining all the weight I'd lost.

Now, here it is, the first of March, I'm ready to try again. I'm off the anti-inflammatory, my shoulder is feeling better, I have no excuse. I weighed in this morning at a lower weight than I'd had for a couple weeks, but still above the goal.

So, here it is, my goal, down in writing. I will lose the rest of the original five pounds by the end of March. (This will be harder than you think, I'll be Europe for a week this month.) I will keep it off in April and start working on the next five in May.

It really bugs me when other women say I look fine, that I don't need to lose weight. I always thank them, but I know, my pants know I do. I need to learn where the breaking point is on the food intake now that I'm, uh, not a kid anymore. I need to retrain my brain about not needing snacks. I'll never be a size 4 again, but it sure would be nice not to ever become a size 14. Hence, the goal, to break it down, a couple pounds at a time, no crazy crash diets, get it off, keep it off.


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Latest Quilt Project

This is what I worked on at quilt retreat this weekend:

This is a project for my dear high school friend in Florida. She has floor-to-ceiling closets in her bedroom with a 25" space between them. She commissioned me to make something eye-catching to hang there. I'm going to add a couple borders to this, maybe even my "trademark" interlocked knot design I used on the quilt I made for Mom shown below.

This technique was developed by Lisa Walton of Dyed and Gone to Heaven, an inspiring quilter/beader from Oz. I'd love to meet her one day.

One Block Wonder

This is the quilt I finished for my mom last year, the one she plans to redecorate her bedroom around. It won Viewer's choice in the large-pieced category and a Vendor's choice ribbon at our guild's show back in March. It'll hang as an invitational quilt this year.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Take Two or Three

Ok, that didn't last long.

Pre-planning, that is, for our trip to Europe next month when Mom and I go to Amsterdam, Brussels, and Paris. I figured out We'll have the most free time in Amsterdam, the first day we are there, the day we'll probably be most tired and jet-lagged. We land at 07:30 and have unscheduled time until the welcome reception/orientation that night. Our hotel is just a couple blocks from the Van Gogh and the Rijksmuseum, so we'll have plenty of options.

The rest of the days are scheduled with tours and sight-seeing trips except for an afternoon in Paris when we can take an optional tour of Versailles. I'm torn between that and checking out Mona at the Louvre. Or going up the Eiffel tower (our hotel is two blocks away!).

I won't be able to fine-tune plans until we get our travel documents with a more refined itinerary. Which means I'm back to having that empty lost feeling I wrote about a couple days ago.

OH! but wait....
I'm going to our quilt retreat this weekend. I really really need to start a packing list for that. I'm sure I'll forget to take a project that needs attending too. I have so many started and neglected projects, sheesh. I tend to overpack and be too optimistic about how much I will get finished. Then I start something new and end up having even more projects than I started with.

I'm also running a game on Saturday so I cannot forget to take all I need for that, including prizes.

And I promised to bring a soup for Friday night dinner.

I'm not teaching fabric dyeing this year, Lisa is, so I don't need to pack anything for that. I must not get sucked into that. Must. Not. Dye. Fabric.

I really could use another brick-colored fabric, however, for a current project I really need to finish. It's a quilt to be included in a book a fellow quilter is putting together, and the perfect color would add so much....

ARGH! Must. Not. Dye. More. Fabric.

Well, that worked well, I haven't thought about missing my favorite literary characters for that past several paragraphs now. D'oh!


Monday, February 14, 2011

Obsession Replacement

I found something to fill the hole left by finishing the Harry Potter books: trip planning. Mom and I are going to Europe for a couple days next month, Amsterdam, Brussels, and Paris. We'll be on an organized tour but will have some time to ourselves for sightseeing and most of our meals will be on our own as well.

I had some 40% off coupons for Borders so I bought small city guides for Amsterdam and Brussels/Bruges over the weekend and want to buy a book on Paris today. I like to find the hotels and the itinerary stops on the maps, then I can get spatially oriented. I also like to do searches in advance for specialty shops I might like to visit if I have time, like quilt and yarn shops. Oh, and don't forget shopping for Belgian chocolate. I'll pass on the Belgian lace though.

I try not to go overboard with the extras, though, free time will be shorter in reality. The trip is advertised as a 7-day trip, but when it comes down to it, it's really only five days of actual touring and the other two days are travel days. I'm not upset, all tour companies and cruise lines do this, make a trip sound fuller than it is. I just can't go overboard on a list of little side trips.

Next week: I'll start on a packing list.


Friday, February 11, 2011


If you thought I meant HP, the computer company, just move along now.

I'm rereading the Harry Potter books, much to the chagrin of my husband, "They are kids books, you know" ... "Haven't you read them each a dozen times already?"

Well, no. In the beginning I read them to Fern at bedtime, it was our thing. I'd put on my best UK accent and read a chapter or two a night, it was a cozy time. When a new book would come out, we would read it together, then I couldn't stand the slow pace anymore and plowed ahead on my own after her lights went out, only to reread those sections again the next night.

Fern was too old for a snuggly reading bedtime reading routine when Goblet came out, so I ended up reading it only once, same with the subsequent volumes. Then there were the movies. When the book is fresh in your mind, you pick out all the things they left out of the film, and rightfully so, there is just too much detail to cram into a reasonably lengthed production. But as the years go by, the visual memories created by each movie replace the memories created by reading the story in the first place.

So now, I've been reading all seven books again, back-to-back-to-back (forsaking other leisure activites, quilting) and have really grown attached to Potter and his friends. I'm also amazed, reliving the whole story, about the amount of details and clues JK Rowling left for us along the way. [I could also point out inconsistencies over these seven years, (the thestrals, for example) but I'm not going to.] If you've read the series yourself, you know the importance of the horcruxes in the final book, yet she mentions two of them in passing several books before the last one. The major hinging point of the final showdown at the end of book seven is given in book six, the clue to how Harry can face He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named with a shred of hope.

Yes, to Dan's other point, they are not deep pieces of literature, they are not kept in the adult section of the bookstore, but I enjoy them just the same. I've tried to figure out exactly why I love these stories so much. And I can't, exactly. Yes, there's the feeling of parental hope that the children grow up smart, strong, and loved, and yes, they are fun tales of good versus evil. I guess maybe, it's like getting sucked into Lost for all those years, living vicariously through others.

Currently, as I write this, I'm about a hundred pages from the end of the last book and I expect to finish it tonight, the last big battle between Harry and Vol-, you know who. I better have some tissues with me, I hate the death scenes.

And now, I've got about a hundred pages in which to prepare myself for the end. I'll need to get back to my quilting to keep my mind off the loss of these fictitious people friends....Until the movie in July, anyway.


Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Pass the Popcorn, Please

Over the last couple weeks I've actually been using my Netflix account (instead of keeping the discs for 4 months at a time) and have watched four foreign films in a row. Three were the "Dragon Tattoo" trilogy. (Truth be told, the third in the trilogy isn't out on DVD yet, but we watched it on pay-per-view.) I hear Hollywood is making an American version of these movies, but I bet they won't be as good. Watching a movie that takes place in Sweden is much more authentic when it's shot in Swedish.

Watching sub-titled films is also interesting because you've got to watch. You can't just wander up to the kitchen to fix a snack keeping an ear on the movie, all you hear is Swedish dialog, and unless you've interned in Stockholm, you've got to hit pause to get that snack. You still have to have the sound up when you're reading the subtitles so you can hear the intonation and emotion in the voices.

The forth movie was "Bread and Tulips," an Italian film made in 2000 about a woman who gets inadvertently left at a rest stop while on a vacation bus tour. She decides to go to Venice before meeting back up with her family at home, but she misses the train home and the rest of the story unfolds. Italian men yell a lot. I never read the subtitles with as much force as I heard from the voices. Americans wouldn't do it justice.

I can't remember how this film got added to my Netflix queue, I'm sure it's been there for years and finally just bubbled to the top. I think a French spy spoof is next. That should be fun. More subtitles!

What have you watched lately?