Tuesday, September 29, 2009

A note about the picture below.

Many years ago, maybe ten, I bought an applique pattern for an amaryllis. After I opened it I quickly realized it was going to be a bit harder than I thought for a beginner appliquer. At that point in my quilting career I should have stuck with patterns with five or fewer pieces.

I chose the pattern in the first place because the amaryllis flower is so regal and beautiful. They are quite easy to grow, but tricky to get to bloom again after the first year. My mom grows a lot of them, so the quilt was to be for her. The quilt pattern is regal, too. It is large, finishing at about 30" tall. But, over the years I pretty much resigned to the fact I wasn't really going to do this pattern. I really prefer straight lines of pieced patterns instead.

Then, sometime in the past year we had a speaker at our quilt guild who designs applique patterns. I thought applique is not for me, I should just go home. She talked about her design process and how she uses fusible web and sewing machine in her pieces instead of turning under the raw edge of fabric by hand for each piece of the pattern to sew it down.

I was sold. Debra Gable's method saved me, I didn't need to feel guilty about the amaryllis anymore, because I knew I could finish it. Debra has a whole line of patterns depicting cities in the form of postage stamps. Very cool. I bought the one of Baltimore. Maybe I'll finish that one, too. But in the mean time, I'm about more than halfway done with the flower, and am very excited with my progress.


Monday, September 28, 2009

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Of Work and Golf

Wow, I can't believe how quickly I get behind in the blogging world. I worked from home yesterday and got a lot of real work done. Sometimes I think I get more done from home than at the office. Something about the combination of not having the office distractions and not wanting my working-from-home privileges revoked if I don't get a decent quantity of work done. Anyway, the point is, I didn't take the time to waste time blogging.

AM and I flew to Florida on Friday for a weekend golf trip. We flew into West Palm Beach and stayed at the PGA resort. They have four courses on-site and one more ten minutes away. We played the Palmer on Saturday and the Squire on Sunday, the two "easiest" courses. Ha. Lots of water in play is never easy.

It was hot, humid and rainy on Saturday. Thunderstorm-kind of rainy. We finished our round after 7:00. Actually, we really didn't finish since we stopped after 16 holes with more thunder in the area. And this was with an 10:28 tee time and a major storm delay. Newsflash: Florida is humid. I'll never wear a nylon golf outfit to golf in again, even if it was a gift from AM, and as cute as it may be. I was so sweaty-stinky at the end of the day, eesh. I needed tongs to remove it from the laundry bag. Cotton is better for me.

Sunday we had an 8:12 tee time and finished at 12:15. No rain! We were paired with a couple who lived on the course and evidently plays there a lot. After several holes the wife started pushing us to play faster, "We're behind pace...we're 15 minutes behind...we have to do everything we can to pick up the pace...." She had lipstick on her teeth. She bugged me. I started out playing well on the first several holes but then I went downhill, coincidentally with her nagging. This other couple decided two twosomes can play faster than one foursome so they played on ahead of us at 11. We never saw them again, good riddance, and we still finished in good time, no course marshall ever scolded us. The nice thing about them leaving was my mojo came back. I hit great drives after that, even got a par on a par 4 hole and a one-over on a par 5 hole. I finished the back nine with a 51.

We had plenty of time to drive around West Palm before going back to the airport. We got to see the famous Worth Drive where all the fancy-schmancy shops are. But it was a ghost town, the shops weren't open on Sundays so there was hardly anyone around. We found a nice upscale Italian place open for lunch with valet parking, but the valet was getting off work so we parked ourselves for free.

The flight home was uneventful, unless you count a thunderstorm over Tampa which delayed our incoming jet, which delayed our departure by almost two hours, and then the baggage carousel got stuck at BWI making us wait 45 minutes for our suitcases. The golf clubs came our almost immediately at the large item door. No wonder folks like to carry bags on.

Now it's Wednesday already. What's up with that?


Rainbow at the end of Saturday

Ball-eating Tree

Friday, September 18, 2009

Real Women Don't Use Body Wash

I had the privilege of taking a shower in my own bathroom this morning. I wasn't so lucky yesterday. Kevin insisted on taking a shower in my bathroom when he woke up and since the timing was such, I really couldn't wait until he was finished so I used The Girl's bathroom instead. It's not really hers, it's the one in the hall for everyone to use, but she thinks it's hers and she has her crap is all over it.

Even with all that stuff, I didn't know I had to take my own toiletry bag with me, nothing was familiar. I didn't think using her bathroom would be such a problem. Or Adventure. The shampoo was OK, I figured out which bottle that was, I even found conditioner, but she uses body wash instead of bar soap. Does that stuff really get you clean? I don't think so, I could still feel the day-old deodorant from Wednesday after using the body wash. Yuck.

On the other hand, it's good to know my deodorant will last that long if I ever find myself in a situation needing it to go the distance, like in one of those action movies where the innocent, oblivious housewife accidentally gets sucked into a hijacking/kidnapping incident on the way to get the paper in her quiet suburban neighborhood and then finds herself holding a highly coveted secret Swiss account number and a French passport with her picture inside while hanging upside down from a helicopter buzzing the Pentagon then gets delivered back home, complete with an invitation to a Whitehouse dinner in her honor, by the FBI in a big black SUV moments before the kids' afternoon school bus rounds the corner. Thank goodness my deodorant is still working. I gotta go run a brush through my hair, I'll be right back.


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

If your last name begins with 'W'

I got this email yesterday for a class offered here at work. I don't need it but I'm thinking Mr. Joe Wilson, Mr. Kanye West, and Ms. Serena Williams should enroll:

Communicating with Diplomacy and Tact
October 14 - 15, 2009
9:00am – 4:00pm

What do you think?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

I usually don't go for sappy, sorry

Patrick Swayze died last night from pancreatic cancer. I know he made other movies but I remember him mostly from Ghost and Dirty Dancing.

A couple weeks before school started this fall we were in southwest Virginia for Dan's family reunion. As part of that trip we drove past Mountain Lake, the resort what was used for some of the exterior shots of Dirty Dancing.

At the time Dan suggested I write a post appealing to my women readers who all have that movie in their wheelhouse. He suggested I post pictures of the resort from the movie along with the ones I took that day. I hadn't gotten around to finding the "before" pictures but in light of Mr. Swayze's death, I'll post the two I have now.

This is the front exterior of Mountain Lake resort, complete with Kevin romping on the grounds.

This is the gazebo that used to be at the lake shore where Johnny and Baby were shown practicing the famous dance lift. Jennifer Gray was quoted this morning on the news about what a great guy he was and how cold the water was. The lake has been losing water for the past several years, though, the current level is as high as it is because of the winter melts and spring rains this year.

As it happened, Dirty Dancing was on TV a week or two later and Fern got to experience what every girl my age did back then, except this time I knew all the words to all the songs. She thought it was lame. I guess teenagers nowadays don't go for nice stories with hunky guys?

Rest in peace, Patrick Swayze.

Monday, September 14, 2009


I woke up from a nap on Saturday afternoon to a husband who had just seen an episode of Hoarders on A&E. "You're not as bad as those people, but still!" Sheesh. I wake up and suddenly I'm in the wrong. Well, OK, I already had been in the wrong, but now I was in the spotlight for it. And right after a good nap, too.

I can't really complain about my husband because he's right, I have too much stuff, but I'm more of a pack-rat than a hoarder. I have to work up to being able to let something go. It's easier to just keep it than go through separation anxiety. I can usually let it go in the end, I just can't get rid of it without a bit of grieving first. I have to have a mini-therapy session and counsel myself "...it's OK... I haven't used it in years... I can buy another if I really need it... it doesn't bring me joy...."

Sometimes the "I-still-want-to-use-that-one-day" feelings surface when I find something I don't need but still want. Self-counseling is trickier in those cases.

The rest of Saturday and Sunday were productive. My sewing room got a kick in the pants and I was able to get a lot done. I cleaned out a box of general crafty supplies without any heartache. I finished all my Girl Scout badge sewing jobs, ALL! Then I started to clean up one of my work tables and found another GS vest that needed work. Sheesh, I wonder how long it had been there? It wasn't with the others and the mom never called to check on its status. Oh well, it got done, too. I even got my sewing table cleaned off to the point where I was able to actually quilt for the first time in six months. I had Dan take this of me to prove it:

I'm trying out those blue quilting gloves for the first time. They have little grippy nubbins on the palms so you can control the quilt without having to grip the fabric to death. I can't believe how much easier they make machine quilting! Why did it take me so long to listen to my fellow quilters about them? I should show my progress to my quilt bee tonight, however:

My ceramics instructor called me on Friday to encourage me to sign up for another class session. Evidently, they want to get enough students in each section so they don't have to cancel any classes. I talked to Dan about me taking one more class and which night of the week is best. Monday night is the winner, so I'll be back to the studio tonight.

For this session my goal will be to get everything finished by the end, perfect or not, so I don't have any unfinished work and I can make a clean break from ceramics. Ha ha, that's funny: clean break from clay! OK, never mind. The problem is the mandatory lab fee is for a package of 25 pounds of clay. Do you know how hard it is to go through that much clay when you're still struggling to make decent pieces? I go into each class with the mindset of "practice" and not worry about perfection, but more than half of my pieces end up as a crucible-sized vessel or in complete ruin: a mangled lump showing no signs it was ever almost a coffee mug or bowl. When that happens I can re-wedge the clay and try again. However, I'm not using up the 25 pounds very fast that way. This session will be different, just practice.... This session will be different, just practice.... This session will be different, just practice....

And now I will finish this post with a complete nonsequitur: who came first (without the help of IMDB!) Wayne & Garth or Bill & Ted?

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Puzzle is Together.

There are three missing pieces. I hate that. I was so careful, checking my elbows and everything.


Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Puzzle Progress

I know you all are dying to know how this puzzle is coming along. I'm tired of it, tired of getting distracted by it, anyone want to help put the last bit together?


Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Photos from the Weekend

Abstract: Fern skating

Humpback Rocks, Blue Ridge Parkway, Va

The puzzle is coming along
It looked like this last week.

Friday, September 04, 2009

A Screw Loose

A week ago Thursday was my last ceramics class of the summer. I really love doing ceramics even though I'm not that good at it yet. There's just something about playing in clay that is satisfying on a visceral level. I want to take another class but I need to study the family schedule first to see if it'll fit in. I have a lot of unfinished pieces from the summer class I want to get done before I call it quits and move on to another hobby/activity.

So, last week at 10:00 pm my cell phone rings, my hands are dirty because I'm trying to finish cleaning up after myself in the studio. Fern is on the other end of the line, very distressed. Very. I'm trying to clean up, I'm trying to calm her down, I'm trying to hold the phone without rendering it unusable from the clay on my fingers. "Something bad has happened."

She is so distraught on the phone, wild thoughts are swirling and I can't help but think the worst: someone is dead, but because she's so distraught, it takes her, what seems like forever, to get the story out. No one is dead. No one is hurt. The computer is broken, she and Kevin were fighting over it.

Evidently, she moved the laptop to the other room so she could hook it up to the printer, but Kevin didn't think it belonged in the other room. He's very OCD like that. He'll get very upset when things are moved to places they don't belong, sometimes he'll be upset enough to become really agitated.

I've learned to bargain with Kevin, I'll explain thing needs to get moved here because reason and he can help me put it back when I'm done. That usually works, he sees an end to the discomfort of change and I've engaged him to help and staved off any aggression. Fern hasn't learned these tricks yet. Maybe this incident will help keep this trick in mind should she need it again.

So now we have a broken laptop. It turns out it's just a broken screen. Dan found a company that sells replacement screens and will even install it for you for $50. When we got our first Mac iBook, the memory upgrade was shipped separately and came with instructions for installation. I've seen the inside of laptops before, I was not afraid.

I took apart the laptop to get to the part number on the back of the broken screen, (I took out 12 minuscule screws to get there!) and ordered a replacement for $109 + shipping. It arrived yesterday and it didn't take me long to get the new one installed. It was quite easy and everything went back together nicely. Except, I had two screws left over. The laptop booted up so I'm not going to worry about it.

PS, I took pictures of the fix, but the camera battery died so you'll get them later.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Puzzling Randomness

The low-pressure-in-my-tires indicator light came on Tuesday on my way to work. I was ticked. I hate when dashboard lights come on. It was not paradise. It had only been 2000 miles since I had service done which I believe included a tire rotation, which means they should have checked the pressures in the process, but didn't. But then I recalled this happened last year when the nights got cooler, cold air==low air pressure. Monday night the low was in the 50's which explains the warning light on Tuesday. I added air and the light is off now.

picture of lost puzzle boxesMy daughter bought a Lost puzzle at the Five-Below store over the weekend. She loves Lost. So do I, and I love puzzles too, but I wouldn't have bought a THOUSAND piece puzzle. She is not an experienced puzzle buyer, and didn't notice the picture on the box only shows a small part of the whole thing. Since then, she's declared she's no good at puzzles and now I'm the one glued to the table every night working on this darn thing, just one more piece, then I'll go to bed. I can see the TV from the puzzle table so at least I'm getting something done. Here's the current state of things:

Maybe I'll do a google search to find pictures of the completed puzzle so I know what the goal is.

Glee premiered on Fox last night. It's good, better than I thought it was going to be, hard not to sing along. Might have to add that to my DVR list. Good to watch while working on a puzzle.

Castle and Big Bang Theory should premier soon, I love those shows. More good things to watch while working on a puzzle.

There's stuff on the written on the back of each of the puzzles in glow-in-the-dark ink that fits all together. Maybe I'll need to find the other three puzzles .... maybe not.

The tree guy is coming tonight. They want to take down a bunch of trees in our backyard because they interfere with the power lines. They'll give us money to replace them with shorter varieties. Is it too late to get some crepe myrtles planted? I know it's not too late to plant trees, is it too late to find decent nursery stock?

I think I need a coke.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009


My weekend went great until I stopped doing things on my to-do list.

Saturday I bought and installed blinds in my daughter's room. She has curtains in there already, but needed the blinds, too. I got 2" blinds in a coffee color; they look like elegant wood.

I bought new blinds for the hall bathroom, but didn't get them installed.

I wanted to get a timer for Kevin's room but couldn't find an adequate one at Target, either it was too fancy or took up too much space on the socket and you couldn't plug in anything else. Kevin will sometimes fall asleep with the light on, wake up later, and be up for hours. He doesn't know he's supposed to turn off the light and go back to sleep and not to wake up anyone else. I want a timer to turn off his light for him to try to curb this.

I wanted to get the patches sewn on the next Girl Scout vest I need to work on. It's a catch-up vest where the mom brought me two years worth of stuff to sew on and it won't fit. She bought a sash to sew around the bottom to add more space, but I can't get motivated to get it done.

I've started keeping a ledger of the vests I have to work on, when they arrive and when I'm done with them. I got a bunch, 10 or 12, to work on this summer and I would often forget which I've had the longest and which I should wait to do. The ledger is helping with that, but I still have a backlog of about five to get done. The nice thing is it's time for these moms to start renewing their plan so I've got a little bit of cash in my pocket.

I did get to play golf with Dan twice over the weekend, once Saturday evening and once Sunday morning also with Mark and CG. I didn't do too badly, my short game is getting better, but I still need to get some distance on my fairway shots.


Have you ever been channel surfing and it always seems like the same thing is always on the same channel? Like TNT is really the "Law and Order" channel and BBCAmerica is really the "Gordon Ramsay" channel. What else? How would you rename the channels? Yeah, OK, there's always news on CNN, but that doesn't count.