A place for family and friends to see what I'm up to. Visitors welcome here.

Hail Guest, we ask not what thou art.
If Friend, we greet thee, hand and heart.
If Stranger, such no longer be.
If Foe, our love will conquer thee.
-Old Welsh Door Verse

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Spring Already?!?

I know that most of the country (and a lot of the rest of the worl) envies Southern California our mild winters. But c'mon - jonquils in February? I never have spring bulbs flowering for Easter because they start popping up at Christmas and flowering by Valentine's Day.

DH had quite the adventure in Uta
h. He fell in the mud on his first day and, while not seriously injured, was stiff and sore for the rest of the trip. Guest 1 suffered stomach problems severe enough to hie them to the clinic by day two, and on day three guest 2 had back pain severe enough to drive into the clinic again. Day four everybody rested up and collected themselves, then on day five guests decided they could try snowboarding again. At the end of guest 2's most successful run she turned to high-five guest 1, fell backward and dislocated her wrist, breaking two bones in the process. McKay-Dee Hospital in Ogden is the best!

After a two-day drive home, DH is now safely tucked into his recliner with his remote in his control and all is well again. He did have a lovely dinner with the architect and her family and other friends. He gave her the go-ahead to have our building site surveyed and a topographical map drawn (cha-ching number one). This could be entertaining. The neighbors to the north of our site leveled their back yard, then built a gravel driveway from the garage to the backyard (our side of the street has qu
ite a slope). The entire project - backyard and driveway - are built two feet or more onto our lot ("someone" moved the line stake two feet onto our lot). Part of having the lot surveyed and marked will include putting out flags to mark the boundaries so that the architect can start placing the house. Won't that neighbor be surprised to come home from work and find a line of little red flags down his driveway?

DH's biggest news is that he was able to find and watch a bald eagle in the valley. Now he's committed to finding the "right kind of tree" to attract a bald eagle to his back yard. He needs to visit a Homer, Alaska, site before he decides he wants resident bald eagles.

Theme: SOFT

I was shocked to realize I don't have a whole lotta "soft" in my life. As usual, Mom to the rescue. She knitted this wrap a year or so ago and I called dibs on it. It's like a shawl with sleeves and keeps me toasty warm in the chilly mornings when I sit at my computer. It may qualify as the softest thing in the house at the moment. She is the most amazing knitter! We all own wonderful sweaters and hats full of popcorn and cables. She's working on one now in a very soft, denim-colored yarn. She hasn't decided who to give it to. A very lucky someone, for sure!

Here's my progress on the Hollyhocks. I went up in the chart to the top edge, then went to
the left and right. Now I can proceed from top to bottom, which is more comfortable for me. I especially like the HUGE sections of just one color around the edges. That goes really fast. It will be nice to work on the flowers, with all the color changes, for a while, then switch for a while to the large sections around the borders.

Yesterday was PMS (Preserving Memories Sunday). Sis (a Creative Memories consultant) told a story that was shared at her regional meeting. A CM consultant suffered severe head injuries in a quad accident. Her family brought scrapbooks to her every day in the hospital, and her doctors credited the daily conversations over the scrapbooks with helping her recover and regain as much of her memory as she did.

I had a good time scrapping my Disneyland Happiest Homecoming pictures. I don't know that they'd do me a whole lot of good after a brain injury, though, so am trying to decide what direction to take to get back to family books. What do they say? Start now, keep up and work back when you can.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Hollyhocks Update

Page One is Finished! I've only left the flower centers so that I can do them all at the same time. And there were a couple of places along the edges where it made sense not to fill the needle to make one stitch when, at the time I move to the next page, there is a whole section of that color and I can easily pick up those solo stitches when I do that section. I decided to go up for the next section. I'll go up in small sections until I reach the border, then work to either side. This will give me good anchor positions so I can work from top to bottom.

I've been really sick this week and it's been very frustrating. I was really convinced I was having an allergic reaction to something in the classroom where I was attending the Cherokee class because I felt great until I got there, then lousy during the class, then much better with each step away from the classroom. But, by Monday noon I was already requesting a sub for Tuesday and Wednesday; I had 100 degree fever (which, since my "normal" temp is only 96.8, that's the equivalent of 103 degrees.) I ended up calling in sick on Thursday and Friday, too. The fever finally broke late Thursday afternoon and I didn't even try to pick up a needle until yesterday (Sunday). I was just too weak to do anything. I'm still hacking and sniffling and am not optimistic about this week at work, but am going to give it my best shot. I'm so far behind already I may not be able to catch up in time for report cards.

Spring has sprung here. Jonquils and violets are blooming and new leaves are showing on the passion vine. Hydrangeas are putting out leaves an roses are blooming. I think the first Monarchs are visiting the backyard.

Way too early here in SoCA where we were only able to pretend we had winter for a couple of weeks. DH is in Eden where he got just enough snow to be pretty in gorgeous 30 degree days.

Thursday, February 08, 2007


Another blogger posted about buying rugs. We are designing our retirement home and are planning bare (maybe concrete) floors so will need area rugs. I'm really falling for this one.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Getting Close...

...to finishing the first page.

This is my progress on the hollyhocks. I was hoping to hold out on posting until I finished the first page of the chart, but I have my Cherokee class again all this weekend and probably won't have a chance to check in here (staying at my folks again) so decided to post this much.

I'm so excited about how this is shaping up! I do need to go buy some more floss. I've just about used up the dark burgundy (showing here as purple) and can see that using three strands I'm going to go through multiple skeins of some colors.

Now I have to decide which direction to go next. I could go up and I think that would finish the top of the picture, but the chart to the left of what I've done has the hummingbird (or at least part of it) and that would be fun, too.

Decisions, decisions...

No More Pony Express

insecticide smell in drug store for spring
at the mercy of walmart and china
small shops closing
discretionary money
joanns closing (cheaper to buy walmart than sew)
polar bears
online shopping
seventeen magazine article

I was once telling my sister a story about something. When I was done she asked, "Does your mind work like that all the time?" This list of topics is kind of reflective of the way my mind does work. There's an essay (blog?) in there somewhere if I can dig it out.

When I was fourteen (that was 41 years ago) I read an article in
Seventeen magazine that really stayed with me. I wish I had cut it out and kept it, but it was one of those things that you don't realize will stay with you until it has stayed with you for a while. It was about a young man living in the future. On the television were constant news reports about the horrible riots and violence that were continuously taking place in the streets of America. Stay in your homes! When he needed anything he would order it (I don't remember how) and it would be delivered by a conveyor belt system into his apartment, so he never had to leave. Eventually, of course, he becomes curious about what's really out there and ventures out to find empty, silent streets. He follows the conveyor belt system to the master control center where he is informed that "they" decided the only way to keep peace in the world was to keep everyone in their homes. They had been waiting for someone with enough courage to track them down so that this person could take over for them. I don't remember how the story ended (did he take over for them or not?) but I found the concept fascinating.

Seems to me we're getting close.

People spend more and more time in their homes, ordering what they need online and having it delivered to their homes. This is perfectly understandable; in many parts of the country (the world?) people just don't have access to the materials they want. Certainly I can see this among my stitchery blog friends. But for others, there is a local needlework store nearby enough to patronize and they will still choose online shopping, often because it's cheaper. As more and more of us shop online, more and more local shops are closing. Just this past weekend I dropped by a favorite scrapbooking st
ore in a neighboring town and it was - poof - gone! As is the local quilt shop and nursery.

I noted in conversation once how sad this seemed to me, and a colleague commented that people just don't do crafts anymore, they are more interested in computers. I disagreed. Although many quilters and stitchers do enjoy the internet, it doesn't take the place of needle in hand. My explanation for the closure of the shops is that our economy is in such terrible shape that people just don't have as much discretionary money as they used to (what with paying - STILL- close to $2.50 a gallon for gas and hundreds of dollars a month for health insurance, if they are bothering with that at all) and so they are looking for the big discounts on all their purchases. Hence the online shops and stores like Walmart.

Unfortunately, it's a vicious circle. We don't have money to buy what we want unless it's discounted. Small stores go out of business because we shop discount, so then we are dependent on the "big box" stores like Beverly's, Michael's and JoAnn or the even bigger stores like Walmart. Then the big stores decide we're not spending enough on fabric (or stitchery supplies or whatever) and they decide not to carry those supplies any more. After all, not too many people choose to sew their clothes when they can buy them at Walmart cheaper than they can buy the fabric to sew. Maybe the big stores close completely. My mom's town had a GREAT Beverly's that just closed this month.

We're at their mercy. The Walmart (or SuperMichael's or SuperJoann) drives the small stores out of business, so where do we go to get what we need? Where can I go to get the floss I need to finish a project if the big stores stop carrying floss and the small stores are all
out of business? Or quilt fabric or scrapbook paper or...?

And where do I go to get the smell? Yesterday I dropped by a drug store for something and immediately thought of spring flowers. It took me a minute but I realized that I was smelling the potting soil and insecticides that were featured in an aisle of spring planting supplies.

For me shopping in a fabric store (especially a small quilt shop) is a complete sensory experience. I love the smell of the fabric inks (don't get me started on book stores) and the feel of the fabrics as I run my fingers down the edges of the bolts. I love the play of the colors against each other and the sound of staff quietly counseling customers on their fabric choices. About the only sense that doesn't get involved is taste (I don't lick the fabrics although I frequent a few shops that set out chocolate that I don't always resist).

I only shop at Walmart in Hiawatha, Kansas, when I visit my cousin who works there (about once every three years). I boycott all others. It's really no great loss for me. Their fabric department loses out in the sensory experience. And I don't buy fabric online for the same reason; it's the whole experience I love, not just purchasing fabric (I have a SABLE in my closet - Stash Accumulated Beyond Life Expectancy). But it does no good to commit to supporting the LNS or LQS when they aren't here any more.

The Pony Express isn't here anymore, either, and would we really want it to be? Would we really want to spend $3.50 per letter and have it take weeks to reach its destination, if it made it at all? The Pony Express went out of business as soon as the telegraph was criss-crossing the country. With the internet, the last telegram was delivered last year and the telegraph is officially extinct. Even the post office is doing double time to think of ways to stay in business (my letter c
arrier son calls junk mail "bread and butter," and our local post office has the best gift items in town). Will we watch the post office go the way of the telegraph and the Pony Express?

Which brings me to the polar bears. We're losing them. Global warming is melting the ice caps and more and more polar bears drown every month. They are spending less and less time in their breeding areas, producing fewer and fewer cubs. It saddens me that they may be extinct within my lifetime.

Like the small quilt shop? Like the small needlework

Sunday, February 04, 2007


Once upon a time I was a dollmaker. Well, OK, I sort of still am. I still have lots of greenware and desire to make more dolls, but my kiln died and I haven't been able to find another doll shop that I would trust to fire what I have. There is a good shop (I'm told) in Utah so I've got my fingers crossed that it is still in business when I get there so that I can finish some of these things up.

This little baby (and she is really little, about 8 inches tops) was the last one I did before the shop I was going to closed. The artist is Dianna Effner (my vote for best doll artist ever). My mom crocheted the outfit for a little plastic doll and gave it to me years before I made this one. I was thrilled when I realized it fit! Shortly after I finished the doll I found a darling buggy to fit. Since then I've been picking up fabrics to make a miniature quilt for the doll in the buggy. I took this picture in hopes that it would help me decide what direction to take with this quilt. Two of the fabrics are kind of retro looking and may be a little too modern for this little girl. So, I guess I'm kind of leaning to the pinks at the top and bottom of the stack.

In other procrastination (yes, I have some things to do that I'm putting off)... I've been having so much fun reading other blogs. When I first heard about blogging I thought this was the prime example of the self-absorption that has captured my country, and maybe to some extent that's true (c'mon, take a picture of myself every day for a year? I do have something of a life.) But what I'm really enjoying is stumbling from one blog to another through the link lists. This morning I met Lene in the Arctic (brrr.....) and Paula in Scotland and my day is richer for the experience. Why, Paula was even standing in front of Shepherd's Bush, just fifteen minutes from where we are building our retirement home!

So now instead of seeing these as the supreme example of self-centeredness, I'm thinking they are examples of reaching out to others.

Or maybe I'm rationalizing.

Doesn't matter. I'm having fun getting to know everyone in bloggerland.

Speaking of self-absorption, another blogger posted a meme (which, I understand sounds like "dream"; I can't get past the me! me! aspect but there you go) that sounds like fun. Name five movies you happily watch repeatedly. Just five? Here are my top contenders (although I watch movies and read books over and over so the list is rather longer than just five) :

Practical Magic, You've Got Mail, Independence Day, National Treasure, While You Were Sleeping.

And now I must go finish clearing up the Christmas boxes and move a couple of things in the garage. Then I can come in and start a paper-pieced quilt I want to make for a friend. Which is what I'm really procrastinating. The last time I tried to paper piece something it was with a lemon of a Pfaff machine that never did work right. Now I have a nice Bernina "workhorse" and am nervous that it will act up like the other did. Then where will I be?

Saturday, February 03, 2007

I'm feeling a little sad this morning. Of course, I don't usually feel emotions for what they are (sad, angry, frustrated, ecstatic). I usually feel them as hunger and start eating. As part of my process of getting healthier, I'm trying to hold off from eating until I've explored my feelings a little, and this morning have concluded (without the assistance of a few handfulls of chocolate chips) that I'm feeling sad.

Probably part of what I'm interpreting as "sad" is really a let-down from a couple of completions. First, both DH and I have sent our questionnaires to the architect for our home design. Each step we take in this process gets us closer to our dream of relocating from Southern California to Utah. I'm absolutely, 100%, deep in my heart sure that this move is the right move for us. But it still makes me sad to move 800 miles away from my family, and each step we take in this process also brings us closer to the time when I won't be in my sons' pockets (yes, a strong argument for moving 800 miles away for their sakes), won't be here for every birthday bash, won't be here for my bi-monthly all-day scrapbooking sessions with my mom and sis.

Another let-down (most welcome) is that I had "volunteered" (actually I was put in a spot where I couldn't - in good conscience - refuse) to chair the organizing committee for my teacher's union in a potential fight over a salary increase. Our town has the highest cost of living in our county, but our teachers' salaries are the lowest in the county (10% lower than the next lowest district). We've been really good sports for years because we know that our district doesn't get a lot of the special monies neighboring districts get. But this year there is an increase in the allotment and we feel the teachers should be getting a fair share of the increase. Based on past history, we were not overly optimistic that this would happen so we started the process of organizing. The president of the union and the woman who volunteered to help me are g
ung-ho to start the process. So far it's been an exercise in frustration with people cancelling meetings on me, not receiving call-backs and so on. What was particularly frustrating for me was that my preference was to wait until after the first round of negotiations and see how things looked before rallying the troops. In fact, to do too much could be considered an unfair labor practice so I was doubly sure that we shouldn't do too much until we tested the wind. I really felt pulled in two directions. As it turns out, the first two days of negotiations went very well and it looks like this will not get too ugly after all. I will still have to move things forward for organizing because they will begin negotiating for next year in May, but the pressure is off.

But I think the biggest part of feeling sad is that DH is going to be gone on TWO (count 'em, TWO) trips that I would LOVE to be on and just can't go (sniff). First, he will spending a week in Utah. I love Utah (duh, that's why we're moving there) and could really use a break now. But, I can't be away from school for that long.

Then, jus
t a couple of short weeks after he gets back from that trip, he and his brother are leaving for Washington, D.C., to march in the big peace march from the Vietnam Memorial to the Pentagon. They're giving themselves enough time to visit some of the museums on the mall. I love D.C. The only times I've been there have been with forty eighth-graders in tow, and I've always promised myself that I would get back someday without kids. Just as I've always promised myself London and Ireland. But now it seems that, once we move to Utah, whatever travel money I have will go to trips back to SoCA to see family and, if DS1 and his wife follow their dream to raise their family in Japan, to see them. There's a very good chance I will not see London or Ireland or even Washington, D.C. again. It will be my choice to see family over sightseeing, and we never know what the future holds. I may not be able to see family, either, or I may be well enough off financially to be able to do it all. Realistically, though, there is a good chance that I won't be able to do it all. So, missing this trip to D.C. makes me a little sad today.

Oh, well.