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

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Do you know your Disney?

Watch the movie.

And don't forget to listen to the music in the background, too.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

He's doing OK, his truck is not.

On Saturday we watched from our back fence as the fire department worked on an accident victim. It seemed to us the guy must have crawled up from in the ditch after his truck went into it.

Today I ran into one of the police officers that worked the site of the accident on Saturday and was able to get a few details. The driver fell asleep at the wheel, hit the streetlight standard, careened across the street and down 100 feet to the bottom of the ditch. He crawled up the embankment. He had some injuries but is doing well.

The police officer said he should have been killed. The police officer said the guy should buy a lottery ticket.

The truck was totaled, but then, we guessed that.

The goldfinches are back.

They crack me up.When the feeder is full they share space nicely and don't make a sound. I can always tell, though, when the feeder is getting low on seed, like it is today. It's down to the last couple of inches and about a dozen goldfinches are fighting over space to hang and eat. They squabble and squawk and shove each other off.

It's really quite amusing.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Amazing Christmas Movie

Hallmark - Silent Night

Confession: I never took down the outside lights along the eaves last year. I admit, I'm spoiled. My two sons are both well over six feet tall and I got used to them taking five minutes to simply reach their long arms up and take down the four strings of lights. If I do it, I have to climb up the step stool, take down a section, climb down the step stool, move it four feet, climb up the step stool... Anyway, the year got away from me and here we are, ready to put them up, but first they had to come down and I had to replace most of the bulbs because, after a year in the elements, most of the paint has worn off the bulbs.

So, while I was replacing fuses and bulbs and cleaning up the strands in general I was watching Silent Night, a Christmas movie produced by Hallmark starring Linda Hamilton (of Terminator and Beauty and the Beast fame.) What an incredible movie! It's based on a true story of a German mother who takes her son to the family hunting cabin at the time of the Battle of the Bulge. Three American and three German soldiers end up taking shelter in her home on Christmas Eve. The story was compelling and the acting superb.

I went right onto Amazon and ordered a copy for $6.99. It won't get here until after Christmas but that's all right. I'll just add it to the collection and enjoy it for years to come.

Why I Hate My Job

"It is emphatically the province and duty of the judicial department to say what the law is."

Our lesson before Thanksgiving in my eighth grade history classes was about a court case called Marbury v. Madison. In this case (1803) the United States Supreme Court declared that its role would be to evaluate laws to make sure they did not conflict with our Constitution. This sentence is part of the decision. As part of their assignment on this decision, my students were supposed to define the word "province" as it is used in this context.

Over half of them used this definition: "an administrative division or unit of a country."

It would be bad enough if they had merely gotten confused. Their mistake moved into the category of an insult because I used exactly this quote - and said incorrect definition - as an example of why it was important to look carefully at the context. "Every year students use the first definition in the dictionary for this word, " I warned. "Be careful! 'An administrative division or unit of a country' is referring to how some countries - like Canada - are divided. The US is divided into states, Canada is divided into provinces. This is not the correct definition for the word as it is used in this court decision. Keep reading the definitions and find the one that fits the context in the sentence."

And over half of them STILL used the first definition.

How long until I can retire?

Monday, November 26, 2007

Shepherd's Bush Blog

Cross Stitchers! Go check out the Shepherd's Bush Blog (link in the sidebar section "Stitchers to Visit") and watch the video to get a nice look at my favorite lns!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Christmas Movies

Missy got me to thinking about Christmas movies this morning.

I love them all. (Well, except for the colorized version of the original Miracle on 34th Street; I prefer the black and white.) So, just for the heck of it (and because this blog is as close to a continuous journal of my life as I have ever or probably will ever come) here is a list of those I enjoy:

Miracle on 34th Street (1947 with Natalie Wood and Edmund Gwenn)
It's a Wonderful Life
The Bishop's Wife
White Christmas
The Family Stone
A Christmas Carol
(the Alistair Sim version is best but George C. Scott did a good job in the 1980s, too)

Santa Claus is Coming to Town (claymation)
Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer (claymation)
A Charlie Brown Christmas

There's another old Bing Crosby movie called Holiday Inn that I would add to this list, too, although technically it's not a "real" Christmas movie (the song "White Christmas" was introduced in this movie.)

My boys were second generation watchers of the claymation movies. I videotaped the movies when the boys were really little so they could watch them whenever they wanted. We would pull those tapes out every year and I got such a giggle when one of the boys would shout, "I want that!" when some commercial for a long-out-of-production toy would come on. ("Fire alert! Fire alert!) Now we have the dvd versions but I kind of miss those commercials.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Here kitty, kitty

She's shaping up.

I can't decide who to give her to. I know five people w
ho would love to have her.


Clam Dip and Christmas Trees

Christmas tree, my Christmas tree
Lit up like a star
When I see my Christmas tree
Can loved ones be far?
Christmas tree I'm certain
Wherever I roam
The glow from your branches
Will light my way home.

("My Christmas Tree" from Home Alone)

It's time for me to confess to the unforgivable. I have a love/hate relationship with Christmas trees.

I love ours when it's finally done.

Ornaments collected from every Christmas night
Memories reflected in tinsel and light

I've don't understand people who hire interior decorators to come up with new themes for their tree each year. Ours is an annual reminder of our family's history. There are ornaments that I've made and some that I bought just because they tickled my fancy. DH has purchased a few (like Santa in a yellow kayak that is an annual reminder of his dream of kayaking in the Rockies when we move there.) I have ornaments from Disneyland and each year since we bought the condo I've added one with a moose theme.

The most important ornaments, though, are the ones we've bought for the boys as they've grown up. One each year starting with their first Christmas and as long as they let me buy them. Last year, at ages 28 and 25, they still let me haul them to the Hallmark store to choose a new one, and last year we got to bring DH1's new wife so that she could choose one, too.

All the ornaments go onto a tree with 1500 lights, dozens of colored glass balls in the interior and garlands of "candy" (well, it's plastic candy but it's cute, anyway). As a last touch I add four dozen glass icicles. Ahhh... it's a glorious site to behold.

But getting there is a bitch.

The painful experiences started when the boys were little. Each year we headed out on the day after Thanksgiving to a tree farm to cut our own tree. We would search and search for one that was straight, but since the tree farm was in a valley that caught the breeze off the ocean, it was tough to find one that was straight. One year we went to a different farm and found what appeared to be a straight tree. DH whispered to us, "Turn around and walk away now." We walked a few yards away, then DH spun around. "What are you doing?" I asked. He explained that these trees stand straight and tall while you're looking at them, but when you aren't looking they relax into their natural wonky position. But, even after the test, this one was still straight as an arrow, so we cut it down and brought it home.

Where it relaxed into it's natural wonky position.

Our last tree from the tree farm was so dry by Christmas that we had to take it down the day after (irrigation is a good thing, too bad the farmer neglected to do so.) DS1 developed mild asthma during the following year, so we switched from a natural tree to an artificial tree. (My sister had severe asthma as a kid and I remembered how getting an artificial tree had saved Christmas for us.) There was a lot to love about the artificial tree. It was straight. It wouldn't dry out to become a fire hazard. It was straight. The branches didn't bend under the weight of larger ornaments. It was straight. If there wasn't a branch where we wanted an ornament, we'd just tweak a branch into that spot.

And it was straight.

However, it always felt like it was dried out, and putting the lights on every year was painful. One year I realized that if you could buy trees with the lights on at the store, you could also store the tree with the lights on. So, I invested in all new strands of lights and wound them "one last time" onto the tree. For the entire next year I dreamed of bringing out the tree, assembling it, then just plugging in the lights.

It worked OK for a while except that there was always one strand (well, sometimes two) that needed new fuses. That was a minor inconvenience compared to what came after about the sixth year.

It was a low-budget year. On the day after Thanksgiving I pulled the box from its storage area in the garage and into the kitchen. I opened the box and realized that rats had nested in the tree. What a mess. There was no way I was putting that disgusting thing up in my family room, so it went into the trash and I made an emergency trip to Michael's for a (gulp) new tree. The only tree they had with the shape I wanted already had several hundred lights on it, but they were all white and I wanted multi-colored. Again, I invested (gulp) in new lights. It took an entire day - 8 hours - to get all the white lights off that tree, and a good part of the next day to wind the new lights on.

The next year I excitedly brought out the tree, assembled it and plugged in the lights only to discover that a couple of strands had broken (couldn't tell what had happened until I had unwound them from the tree) so the entire process of taking lights off, putting new ones one had to be repeated.

Christmas 2007.

I used to love the whole build-up to "dressing the house" for Christmas. As a SAHM I would spent weeks cleaning until the entire house - from it's newly waxed floors to the inside of the frig to the crystal clear windows - sparkled. Then I would delight in bringing out the collection of Santas, snowmen and miniature trees. Even the bathrooms were decorated!

Once the children came it became harder to do the cleaning, and when I started teaching the cleaning part kind of went into minimalist mode. I no longer put up all the decorations everywhere, but that tree does get done and was yesterday's task. I actually pulled the pieces out and assembled the tree on Thanksgiving morning. I plugged in the lights and...

Looks a little lopsided, doesn't it? That's because TWO strands of lights were out. This year I tried to be smart about it, though. I plugged in every strand individually. I put a piece of green electrical tape on the plugs that worked and a piece of yellow tape on the plugs that didn't. The day after Thanksgiving I went to the early sale at Michael's. I got there just after 6:00 am so that I could get 25% off my entire order, which included TWO new strands of lights to replace the TWO that were out. Yesterday I unwound the TWO strands that were out and found the wires had broken. I unwound the TWO strands that were damaged.

And about pitched the whole thing through a window when I realized there was another strand (for which I had no replacement) out. With a piece of GREEN tape on its plug, which means it worked the day before. I had to give up out of frustration.

Always such a lovely way to start the holiday season.

And so what does all this have to do with clam dip? It's how I get through this annual torture. 2 cans of chopped clams, a pint of sour cream, a large brick of cream cheese, 1/2 onion (minced), a little Worchestershire sauce and a couple healthy shakes of tobasco. (You can add a little lemon juice but I prefer it without.)

To end on a positive note...

I scored a big box of flat head quilt pins at the Michael's sale.

500 pins, $9.99 and 25% off. I bought a box of 50 pins for $3.99 at a quilt shop last summer and LOVE using them, so I feel like I got a bargain to get 500 pins for $7.50.

In stitching, I'm working on the Margaret Sherry kitten (hanging in a wreath) that was a free kit in one of the British stitchery magazines last year (they're the best, but very expensive here). I'll post a pic when I finish.


While I was updating one of my blogs this morning, I heard the tell-tale sound of a car hitting one of the light standards behind our house. It sounds like an explosion, so my first stop was to check my husband and make sure he was all right. The fire station is about a hundred yards from the house and we heard the siren in no time. When we got to the back to see what had happened, we saw one person leaning against a tree with the firefighters administering aid. No vehicle in sight. It was then we realized that he must have lost control of his car and gone down into the barranca, then climbed out and rested against the tree until someone called for aid (or he did with his cell, I guess.) I stopped watching the rescue when they started wrapping bandages around his head (seemed more than a little bit of an invasion of privacy at that point) but went back out to watch the recovery of his truck.

I took some pictures of the recovery effort.

I hope the driver (a young man) is all right, although I will reserve judgment on just how sorry to feel for him when I get the rest of the story (the tallest policeman is the youth officer at my school and may tell me something next week.) We have a problem in our neighborhood with young drivers going WAY too fast and it that's what happened here, my sympathy is limited. However, this is also a dangerous road (it has a funny swerve in a bad place that results in about an accident each year, one fatality) and if he's a victim of the road then my heart goes out to him.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

One More Time

Thanks, Chiloe, for cluing me in that my holiday greeting was too well hidden. I've moved it up to the top if anyone wants to check it out. And thanks to my niece for cracking me up with hers!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Happy Holidays from Debi

Go on over to the sidebar and click on "Happy Holidays from Debi" for my holiday greeting. This is me with about 100 lbs sliced off, and it's about the only way I will see snow this year (and - sigh - I like snow.)

Anyway, have a terrific turkey day and enjoy the holiday season that follows!


Quilter's Zodiac

I love sidebar surfing. Today I was surfing Sam's sidebar and one of her blogger friends had posted about the Quilter's Zodiac. Had to go check it out and get a good laugh. My birthday is June 22 which is on the cusp of Gemini and Cancer. In this article the Gemini side of me is right on! LOL

- May 21 to June 21 If Gemini has been fortunate enough to discover a tutor that has guided their enthusiasm, their quilts will be imaginative and versatile. If they are self-taught quilters they will have a treasure trove books, magazines, quilting supplies and every innovation related to quilting but they probably do not have a single finished quilt. [That's me!] This won't bother them though as they will convince everyone, including themselves, that this was always their plan. Being youthful they love funky projects that use bright fabrics and dazzling threads; being romantic they love traditional quilts made with soft pastels and florals; being whimsical they love the country theme and flannels; being Gemini they love it all! [Yep!] Being very good with words, they will likely go on to author books as experts on patchwork and quilting - having never finished a single project. [LOL! Except I will never finish the book, either! And yes, I have finished a couple of quilts.]

Cancer - June 22 to July 22 Cancer makes quilts to please themselves not to showcase. They do appreciate compliments on their work but being timid they aren't likely to enter a quilt in a competition.They want their quilts to be practical and comfortable and aren't likely to hang one on the wall, but actually use them on beds. Being cautious they are most likely to stick to the traditional designs. They are not likely to add decorative touches, such as trims or whatnots. They believe that quilts are naturally beautiful and do not need embellishments. They love to use dark rich colours in their quilts considering these as more practical. When they discover a quilt shop they like, they become lifetime, loyal customers. [Except for the loyal customer part I'm not sure this sounds too much like me.]

Shepherd's Bush has a blog!

It may seem a little weird, but my lns is 800 miles away. Shepherd's Bush is the most wonderful shop I've ever been in - of any kind! It's warm and cozy and a little funky. The people give the words "friendly" and "helpful" new meaning, although they never hover. Conversely, both times I went looking for something in my closest stichery shop (one town over) I was insulted. That is, when I had the nerve to ask for something they didn't have, they turned it around to imply that there was something wrong with me for wanting it.

We own two pieces of property in the little Utah town of Eden which is less than 15 minutes "up the canyon" from Shepherd's Bush which is in the nearest big town, Ogden, Utah. We bought the condo five years ago and so fell in love with this part of the country that two years ago we bought a lot in a subdivision to build a house on. We were hoping to start packing up in January, digging the basement in March with a move-in date of next fall. Sadly, Bush-enomics have trickled down, the country is in dire economic straits, and the real estate market is at a dead stop. Since we can't move forward on the house we want to build until we sell the condo, we are stuck 800 miles from our "home town." Hence, I am 800 miles from my local needlework shop. Still, I get up there two or three times a year, so I just keep an ongoing list and get what I need/want on those trips.

They just started a new blog (the link is in the "Stitchers to Visit" section of the sidebar.) It's like the shop - warm and chatty and friendly. I know they're busy so I hope they can find the time to keep this up. It's like a little visit from 800 miles away.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

I'm So Excited!

One of the blog sites I visit every day is my friend, Chiloe, in France and she sends me to amazing French stitchery sites (and an amazing blinkie site, too!). Sadly (and here is a lecture on American education from an American teacher) our education system is so deficient (and arrogant) that we only educate our children in one language. I speak (and read) only English (con solamente un poquito del Espanol). I'm grateful for the amazing pictures on the French sites, but was getting frustrated that I couldn't READ (and LEARN) from them.

Then it dawned on me (duh!) that AltaVista has a wonderful site called BabelFish that will translate words and phrases! I was able to go translate a few things and while I was there, found that I could get code for site translation on my own site, too. So, in my sidebar there's a link to Babel Fish and another link to the site translator. If you want to try to translate my site give it a try. And if you would leave a comment and let me know how it works, I would appreciate it. I suspect it will be an awkward translation at best, but if it's understandable that would be great!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Here are my scissors, Chiloe! The colors didn't turn out too well (my stork scissors are actually gold-colored, not bronze). I was surprised at how many I had. Oh yeah, the thing that looks like a locket or medallion is a thread trimmer, too. The best pair is the silver pair with the little thimble fob. I bought them in the university bookstore when I was at UCSB for $2.49. They're dissection scissors for biology lab. And no, I never dissected anything with them (although I have done dissection.)

Chiloe, thanks for all the help with the Nimue site. I had already sent an email to ABC Stitch Therapy to ask if they had the chart (they have quite a few from Nimue - several of which are now on my Christmas wish list - and urge customers to email and ask if there is something they would like that is not shown.) If they don't have it I will definitely be following your guidance to order directly.

It's been a long time since I've done an update. Here are some things I'm working on.

I love embroidery. It's hard to see but I've drawn in all the borders. I want to sta
rt from the center and work out, and did the alphabet first 'cause letters are my least favorite part of a piece to do. Can't wait to get to do all the little bees and butterflies and caterpillars and ladybugs on this thing. I'm stitching through the top and bat and the lint is really flying. I may have to keep a fan going all the time I work on it just to protect my lungs!

These are the first two blocks of the winter wonderland quilt. I bought the pattern and background fabric over the summer. It's stitched through the background fabric and a piece of muslin to keep the stitches from showing. Note again, letters. These were not so bad because it's a fairly large piece so the letters were large. I enjoyed doing the little snowman making snow angels and look forward to the rest of the blocks.

Chiloe's flowers in her beloved vase reminded me that I have this Marjolein Bastin piece that I started. I dug it out again (see, you inspired me). And no, I realize now it's not the same butterfly at all. Don't know when I'll actually put needle to fabric but am going to give it my best shot.

I've been working on this nativity advent quilt by Paper Panache. (This is my favorite piece so far). I've finished some of the animals (sheep, dog, cat, cow) and a good part of the sky. I had hoped to finish it to take as a housewarming gift to a friend but didn't make it. Then I decided to try to finish it to send as a Christmas present, but that didn't work out, either. Her birthday is in late June so maybe I'll make it for that.

In other news, DS2 has gotten me hooked on Heroes. He had asked for the Season One dvd set for his birthday and I gave it to him. He later asked if we could wa
tch episode one together because, he said, he thought I would really like the program. Jeez, did I! I bought my own set and he and I had a marathon (five episodes, or was it six) last week. We have a date for another marathon this Sunday, too. I'm up to episode fifteen, one of his favorites, and he asked me to wait for him to share it with me so he can see my reaction. I'm really enjoying the writing and high production values but mostly I'm enjoying having this to share with him.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Sigh, I'm going to miss that thing

My husband and I moved into our present home in 1974, one of the first of 42 houses on a mesa that now holds thousands of homes. For the first couple of years we had a steady stream of cars cruising through our cul-de-sac checking out the neighborhood. As our living room was at the front of the of the house, we got pretty tired of being on display all the time. So, DH built a stucco wall enclosing a brick courtyard in the front of the house. On that wall I grew - for over twenty-five years - a gorgeous trumpet vine. I called her my hyperactive child, difficult to manage but oh, what a glorious thing!

The last spate of wildfires in SoCA were driven by the worst Santa Ana winds in my memory, and I've lived in this area for all of my 56 years. The winds did severe damage to our fences, including this stucco wall. There is no way to repair the wall. It had to come down. Unfortunately, according to the fence man who will replace the wall with a wooden fence, my trumpet vine also has to go because she will knock over the new fence.

This weekend, DH and DS2 worked their butts off taking down the wall, starting with the vine.

Poor DH hasn't done any real physical labor for at least ten years (he's 68.) At one point he came in to wash his hands and asked, "Am I hiding my pain well?" An hour later, I had to haul DS2 to the walk-in medical center for a tetanus shot (gored by a piece of chicken wire). But, they got the thing done.

I'm proud of them, and it had to be done.

But I sure am going to miss that vine.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Who D'Ya Like

DH and I were talking tonight about how disappointed we are that Al Gore has not thrown his hat into the Presidential ring. This led to a fun fantasy about who we would put into the Cabinet if there were no restrictions. We were chagrined to realize that, for the most part, we were inclined to do what Bush has done - put people in for reasons other than their relevant background and expertise. When we reined ourselves in a little we had come up with this slate:

Secretary of State: Bill Clinton
Secretary of the Treasury:
Secretary of Defense: Wes Clark
Attorney General:
Secretary of the Interior: Al Gore
Secretary of Agriculture:
Secretary of Commerce: Lou Dobbs
Secretary of Labor:
Secretary of Health and Human Services: Sheila Kuehl (CA)
Secretary of Housing and Urban Development: Maxine Waters
Secretary of Transportation:
Secretary of Energy: Rocky Anderson (UT)
Secretary of Education: Jack O'Connell (CA)
Secretary of Veteran's Affairs: Max Cleland
Secretary of Homeland Security: Jack Murtha

We got a giggle out of suggesting Jon Stewart for Press Secretary. We wished we knew more about Waxman's credentials, too, as we wanted to include him somewhere.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

So much going on...

... I hardly know where to start. First, I am grateful to my principal (who is not always the best manager) for my terrific schedule this year. Two classes, then my work period, then one class, then lunch, then two classes (the best two), then home. I feel human when I come home every day.

My younger son announced weekend before last that he was taking a short trip to Iowa to check out the Midwest. Iowa? We suspect a girl, probably someone he met online. Don't get me wrong, I love the midwest (would move to NE KS in a heartbeat) but I really don't think 26-year-old men decide on the spur of the moment to visit Iowa.

DH met his little brother, a 17-year-old high school junior last weekend (through Big Brothers and local foster youth coordinators). He showed up Monday to watch his football practice only to learn that the boy had partied Friday night (using marijuana and beer) and had been suspended from the team for a week. What a way to start off.

I'm thrilled to be able to write that I found my doctor. I've been going to this internist for two years and she decided to change practices. By the terms of her contract she could not tell her patients where she was going because "technically, my patients belong to XYZ Practice." (The owner of that practice needs to be reminded that owning people became unconstitutional after the Civil War.) Anyway, it took my two months but I finally tracked her down and had an appointment Friday. For the first time in my adult life my BP is down to 116/74 with my pulse 64 (yes, the meds finally worked). Now I have the usual list to complete (mammogram, tetanus shot and so on) but at least I have someone they can report to.

I decided to be a girl this year. Sis is selling Mary Kay and I signed up as a "personal use only" consultant to be one of her minions. This weekend I got to do my qualifying order and it was really fun. I love their cleansers and moisturizers so stocked up. Also ordered their new brushes (yummy, long handles) and some things for gifts. That will be a fun box when it gets here.

In her other business Sis sells Creative Memories scrapbooking supplies and crop is Saturday. She has a MK conflict that day so I will go over early and keep Mom company until Sis can get there. Should be fun, as always.

One of my colleagues lost her mother this weekend. She had been on dialysis for several months (diabetes) and had Alzeimers. My friend has really been struggling to be her mom's support. I know she is suffering now and I really feel for her. I'm grateful for every day my mom is with us.

I'm reading Family Tree by Barbara Delinsky. Very interesting premise. Young white couple gives birth to child who is obviously of African American heritage. Was the wife's father black? Was the wife unfaithful? What is bigotry, really, when approached from this perspective? How would your family react if this happened? Lots to think about.

Didn't do much stitching this week but did manage to get my desk cleaned off (yippeee!!!). Must go do homework before DS2 comes over this weekend. He's gotten me hooked on Heroes, and I have to watch episodes one and two (his dvds were scratched) so that we can watch three and four this weekend. We used to spend some good times together when he was in high school (and I got to drive him around to music events) but we've kind of grown apart. I'm glad to have this series to share.