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

Monday, December 31, 2007

Yes! It's...

Imagine there's no Heaven
It's easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today

Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace

You may say that I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world

You may say that I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will live as one

John Lennon

New Year's Eve - Resolutions in Review

Before I enjoy making a list of new resolutions to not keep in the new year, I thought I'd review last year's and see if I met ANY of my goals.

I did finish the little lap quilt for my Mom and gave it to her for Mother's Day.

I bought black double bias and black thread to bind the hollyhocks quilt. I think one of the reasons I balk at this is that I'm just not sure that's how I want to bind that. Now I'm thinking of making kind of a scrappy border from some of the flower fabrics. I welcome all advice

I did nothing on the bear, although I did take him to my lqs while I was taking the McKenna Ryan class and got some advice. I will sew all the pieces down using clear- or smoke-colored monofiliment.


I did get all the embroidery marked on the "What Color is Spring?" quilt and have partially completed the center sampler.

I made some progress on the hollyhock cross stitch, but admit that I kind of lost interest in this one when I learned that the architect has eliminated the guest room from the main floor of the new house. I had planned to decorate that room around a garden theme with this piece, the hollyhock wallhanging, a garden trellis quilt (I have all the fabric for that but was waiting until we saw how big the room would be before making it a queen or king) and a Kory Fluckiger hummingbird print. Now the room is gone and I haven't decided how to re-group. Until I do, I'm not going to spend time on this one.



Santa moved along a little bit.



And, I made a rather gratifying amount of progress on the Firefly Faeries.



Of course, in true ADD fashion I also made a number of starts this year (none of which got finished) including the kitten card and the Winter Wonderland embroidered quilt.

This is real SOP for me. I seem to love to look at patterns, buy patterns, buy fabric and floss, kit things up and get started on the new project(s). Then I get bored and look for something else to do (rarely do the 'archived' pieces appeal).

This has been a good exercise, though. I have actually accomplished quite a bit. If I had focused that energy onto one piece I might have finished something.

Good to know.

But it's a hobby, so I can do it anyway I want.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Yes, I'm Stitching!

All obsession with my new computer aside, I have been doing some stitching. In the evenings, when DH has a football game on the TV, I listen to my book on CD (Heaven and Earth right now, one of my favorite Nora Roberts books) and stitch away. I started "Le Papillon" by Nimue.

A big thank you to Chiloe for sharing this project with us. I ordered her from ABC Stitch Therapy and she was here in about a month.

I decided to do her in the colors listed with the chart and on an Aida 18. I am also working on a couple of pieces on linen (because truly, the effect is stunning on linen) but it's amazingly hard on my eyes (even with my light and magnifier). The Aida is MUCH easier and, consequently, much more fun for a relaxing evening. If I'm not pleased when she's finished then I'll do her again later.

(Right after Christmas I also ordered "La Balancoire", also a Nimue chart, and the baby is on the way! As soon as I get the chart, I'll order the fabric.)

I work on "Firefly Fairies" by Marilyn Leavitt-Imblum for as long as I can, then switch to the butterfly fairy. Every few years I go back to Northeastern Kansas to visit family and one of the treats is to see fireflies. As soon as I saw this design I knew I had to do it, but I wanted it to look truly like twilight, when the fireflies first start to shine. I ruined three pieces of fabric trying to dye my own, then ordered one online that wasn't quite right (turned out to be more teal than blue). Eventually I found this one at (again) ABC Stitch Therapy. It's a Sugar Maple fabric dyed expressly for this piece and I'm very happy with it.

But I sure will be thrilled when I finish that blue fairy. The dark blue on dark blue has been a real challenge. Yesterday I finished the areas that I'd had to frog after our last trip to Utah (where I managed to get off just enough to ruin the fall of her skirt in back.)

(I apologize for the poor quality scans. I'm getting used to my new scanner. I tried to scan these still in the q-snaps and now can see I need to made sure the fabric is directly on the screen. Next time!)

I'm thrilled with my new computer. Maybe I'll name her Tinkerbell because what she does is like magic? Nah. I'll give it some more thought. Merryweather, maybe? Actually, when I had my character done at Disney's California Adventure I turned out to be most like Maleficient, but I don't think I want an evil computer.

As I started to say, I'm thrilled with my new computer, but there have been some unfortunate realizations. I ended up having to buy myself a new printer and scanner because neither of my old pieces would work with the new technology and operating system. Now I'm realizing I'm going to have to buy a new copy of my genealogy software because my old software doesn't even make a Vista version. But, it seems that I'm pretty successful at moving
over the stuff that I want so I'm happy about that.

We had some bad news the day after Christmas. We own a condo in a small ski resort in northern Utah (where we are trying to build a retirement home). It's at the base of Powder Mountain, where the locals enjoy "snorkel deep" snow. It has never rented well in the five years we've owned it, mostly because it's a "new" ski area. Last year, though, it was listed in three major magazines' (Sunset, Ski and Disney's Family Fun) "best kept ski secrets" articles. This year, so we've heard, the place is hopping. Our condo was reserved for eight days in January with the season picking up. And the snow has been amazing in the last couple of weeks (40" of new powder up at the Powder Mountain resort in the last week alone). We were very hopeful that we would - finally - make a little money on the place this season.

It was not to be. On the day after Christmas the manager of the management company called to tell us that the icemaker in the unit above ours had cracked and the water had poured out. Near as they could tell it had been running for over six hours, right down into our condo. Our upstairs flooded, then it started to drip through the floor and into the basement floor. So far we're looking at at least a month of repairs. They will have to remove and replace wallboard and ceilings (with all the recessed lights, sprinkler lines and smoke detectors)
on both levels. This means new carpet, padding and paint as well. The cost of most of it (assuming there's no damage to the furniture) will be covered by the HOA and upstairs owner's homeowner's insurance. The manager said the only "personal item" that was damaged was the master bedspread (the water dripped through the ceiling and pooled on the spread, but did not leak through to the bed itself). We'll see. We have a major investment in top-quality wood furniture in there (this is a "luxury" resort and if you want to be in the rental pool you have to buy the furniture they say.) My parents had a broken water line a few years ago that flooded their downstairs and ruined all their wood, and they got on top of it a lot faster than these folks did.

We're not dwelling on it, though. There was nothing we could have done to prevent it, and there's nothing we can do about it now. We have good friends up there who can kind of keep an eye on things for us and try to shove it along.

Instead, I'm having a fun vacation here. In fact, I had been whining because I had wanted to leave on the 27th and spend the vacation in the condo. Guess it just wasn't meant to be!

Thursday, December 27, 2007


I had grand plans for the day after Christmas. I had several audio books (Golden Compass, Watchers, Darkest Evening...) to listen to on my headset as I stitched away on my "Firefly Faeries" by Marilyn Leavitt Imblum. And I don't have to be back to work until January 7 so I should be able to get a LOT done, right?

Wrong! My plans have been trashed!


Because, dude...

I got a Dell!

Yep, I'm still in shock, but DH gave a a new Dell desktop system for Christmas! He said he felt it will help me deal with the pain of not being able to retire at the end of this school year as originally planned.

Ya think?

I can't believe how much fun this is. I'm already getting caught up with Heroes online (two episodes already so I'll be ready to jump in when Volume Three begins again.) I have some transfer issues to deal with but I'm working them out. I lost (badly) a game of Wizard Chess last night (since I've never played Chess before it stands to reason, but mostly I just wanted to watch the characters zap each other so it was still fun). And it's been really cool to enjoy the widescreen websites without having to move the slidey thing (like that IT talk?) from side to side.

I still have a LOT to figure out, but so far, SO good!

We had a wonderful Christmas. DS2 overslept and so our usual tradition of stockings first, eating breakfast, cleaning up and then opening gifts had to be altered (to cheers of delight from the boys who were subjected to the food/clean-up torture every year). When he was officially a half-hour late I called to 'wakey, wakey' him up ("Ugh, I hit the snooze alarm too many times") and he was here in another half hour. This year we ate breakfast first, then they opened their stockings, and then it was time to prepare the turkey. Once the turkey was in the oven we could - finally - open gifts.

Everyone seemed pleased with their gifts. It's more fun to be creative and try to come up with just the right gifts for people, but my two (three counting DIL) are trying to get on their feet so I stuck with getting them what they asked for. I figured that's what they needed. I did, though, get some of the beautiful books they had at Costco this year. Complete Poe for DS1 and complete Shakespeare for DS2. They seemed delighted. Just had to warn them not to lick the bindings, however, as they'd been bound in China.

DH seemed really pleased with his surprise. I found this print (a Peter Ellenshaw poster) at DCA this year and matted and framed it for him.

I was thrilled with the frame I found for it. A medium oak color, just ornate enough to match the old-fashioned feel of the picture. I especially loved the little vines and flowers subtly carved on the outside edge. I matted it in a butter yellow that matched Pooh's fur. DH is a fan of all things Pooh and seemed delighted with the piece. His favorite character is Eeyore, though, and sadly Eeyore is not in this scene. Today I went online and found an Ellenshaw fall scene with Eeyore and ordered it right away! I think this one will be in the master bedroom and the fall scene in the dining room. But I digress...

My folks arrived right about 1:00 and Brother and family shortly after. I had set out chips, dip and M&Ms, had cooked the turkey and stuffing and baked the rolls. DH did the gravy and everyone else contributed the rest of the meal. Sis and her family were late with ham, but we went ahead and ate without them. They arrived for the 'second seating', and everyone who wanted ham returned to the table to indulge. I know she felt bad about being late but it solved my seating issues (didn't have to clean up the dirty, spidery outside chairs after all). I had put my spring green gingham checked table cloths on the tables, then lined up small arrangements of red rose buds in baby's breath along the center of the tables (interspersed with some odds and ends decorative things). It had kind of country meal feel and I was satisfied. After gifts I cleared the table down to the wood (again with the roses) and set up dessert. Everyone had brought so much dessert stuff that it turned out to be a dessert bar.

Our Christmas tradition is to buy a stocking stuffer for each person in the family, then draw names to buy one "big" gift for someone. As always, my mother completely ignored all rules (my stocking stuffer from her was a plastic garbage bag bulging with goodies). Within my 'stocking stuffers' from Mom were two faerie pop-up books that I'd been coveting (but, controlling my impulsive shopping urges, had not bought for myself). I hadn't even mentioned them to her, she just knows me. My niece had drawn my name this year and my gift from her was two audio books (UNabridged, thank you very much): my favorite Nora Roberts books from the Three Sisters trilogy.

Everyone was in great spirits. My sister got the insanity off to a good start by giving everyone a disk shooter toy. This is something she does every year. When I rebuilt our deck five (more?) years ago I found an assortment of different projectiles from these annual gifts from Sis. The gift opening ritual was highlighted by my mother's out-of-character ribald comments all night (where did that come from?) and the occasional hilarious reaction to the well-chosen gift.

We passed up on the annual board game challenge (although DS1 had brought his new Mega-Monopoly game) and people went home fairly early. I urged DS1 and DIL to stay another night (they had mixed feelings about going home; the mommy in me didn't like the idea of them driving home with the drunks so convinced them to stay.)

Overall a thoroughly satisfying day.

Now I just have to schedule my time so that I get my files transferred onto my new computer (I think she needs a name) AND listen to a couple of audio books AND stitch AND work on a quilt.

I am up to the challenge! Or not. Doesn't matter, it's vacation.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Happy Christmas!

It's a quiet Christmas morning. Santa filled the stockings and now I just wait until the little ones awaken. Mind, my little ones are 29 and 26 years old (6'4" and 6'5" respectively) and only one of them spent the night here last night (with his wife).

When they were little, DH would be awake by 5:00. He would grind his coffee, then roam the halls tapping on doors, soft enough that I wouldn't hear, but - he hoped - loud enough to wake the boys and get the insanity going. There is still insanity to be enjoyed, but it will begin a tad later. DS2 promises to be home by 8:00 for breakfast, the turkey goes into the oven at 11:00 and the rest of the family will begin to arrive after 1:00.

I'm having fifteen for dinner today. I'm a little nervous because I know they won't fit around the table. I'm hoping if I move a couple of pieces of furniture I will be able to extend the table (or rather, add another table) into the family room far enough to fit everyone in (the tree is kind of in the way, though.) Oh well, we'll work it out.

DH just popped his head in to wish me a Merry Christmas. He'll go light the fire and grind his coffee, which may or may not be enough to wake the others. Still, I need to go dry my hair and get some sweats on and make some decisions about breakfast.

So, if anyone happens to drop in, I wish you a very merry day today. For my friends on the other side, I hope your Christmas was a happy one.

Friday, December 21, 2007

A gift from Laura...

at Passione Ricamo.

I've always loved this sentiment. It reminds me that even if we can't all be physically together, it doesn't mean we aren't thinking of each other and sending our love. This is a delightful chart and I can't wait to get it started for next year. Even though it has - sigh - letters, I'm thinking I may do several to give as gifts.

Laura is incredibly generous with her gift charts. It reminds me once again how important it is to honor the talent of those who have talent. My own sons are musicians (one's a composer) and my husband used to do some computer program design. The world of creativity is, sadly, at risk because it is so easy to steal talent from the internet. One of my students said this year, "Why would Windows put a music burner in their media program if you weren't meant to copy music?" Sadly, that's a viewpoint that is becoming more and more prevalent. If I CAN take it that must mean it's mine to take.

I guess I need to rant. If artists are generous enough to give a gift as Laura has, the best we can do is to support their work by purchasing what they do sell. And if they don't sell something we can use, the least we can do is honor their generosity by not stealing the design and trying to sell it as our own.

End of lecture.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Rain, rain, rain, rain...

Beautiful rain
Rain, rain, rain, rain
Beautiful rain.

Oh, come
Never come
Oh, come
Never come
Oh, come
Never come
Beautiful rain.

This was one of my favorite songs by Ladysmith Black Mombazo.

Happily, the beautiful rain has come to SoCA. Our normal rainfall here is about 13" per year. Last year we had 3 (three) inches. Now, we have a slow-moving storm that has been dropping water on us since just before noon. And though DH thinks I'm nuts, I would swear there were tiny snowflakes mixed with the droplets as the storm started. Maybe sleet, although I couldn't feel anything "hit" except the wet of the raindrops.

It doesn't matter. I'm just so grateful that the trees and roses are getting a good, deep drink. Best of all, DH's theory about the garage roof leak seems to be correct. DS2 climbed up there and cleaned some trash and leaves from the joint where the two roofs (kitchen and garage) come together and there isn't a drop leaking into the garage from this storm (knocking on wood). In fact, the only problem so far has been that my car's alarm is on a hair-trigger and has been set off twice today. Once at school when a helicopter flew over low (must have been a police copter; wonder who he was looking for) and once in the driveway when the rain came down particularly hard. I'm hopeful it won't happen again at 3:00 am.

So far tonight I have made a batch of brownies, made the dough for snickerdoodles (to be baked tomorrow and made into cookie plates for colleagues) and have finished DH's surprise Christmas present. I may re-do it when we move because I'm not totally happy with the matting, but he probably won't even notice the problem. I figure to wait until we move and then can change the color of the matt when I re-matt the print if we want a different color.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Stitching Jubilee

A few years back, as I was picking up a needle again after a long time away from stitching, I read in a stitchery magazine about a stitching "festival" to be held in the not-too-distant (about 90 miles) town of Riverside, CA. Since I have family there, I thought this would be a great opportunity to visit them and go check out at least the vendor fair for this festival.

What a blast! I spent way too much money but had a fabulous time. I bought the little birdhouse sewing kit from Lorri Birmingham, a handful of Margaret Sherry and Valerie Pfieffer charts from the Brit Stitch booth, and a whole bunch of charts for miniature stockings and rugs from Debra at her Wee Darlings booth. I did the most damage to my bank account at the Stoney Creek monster booth. (Trust me, all the pictures of their designs simply do not do the actual finished pieces justice!) I was able to buy full sets of back issues for a couple of afghans as well as a handful of chart books. I even won a doorprize from HeavenLee Designs, the most yummy piece of sparkly, apricot colored linen you've ever seen. I still haven't figured out what to put on it but enjoy visiting it in the museum.

I had such a good time that I was determined to take my mom the following year. That year they moved the location to a hotel near the Burbank airport, which worked out great for me since mom lives about a half-hour from there. The two of us, again, spent way too much money but had a blast and looked forward to the next event, possibly even staying and taking some classes.

Unfortunately, the next year's event was scheduled in Las Vegas, too far for us at that time of year (some stitchers do have to work to support our addiction) and after that the CATS Stitching Festival moved to the east coast for a couple of years, then this year CATS disbanded completely.

The good news came in the email the other day. The folks at Stoney Creek, major sponsors of the Stitching Festivals, are starting STITCHING JUBILEE. They've got a Yahoo group started for information and a website slated to begin next month. I've added some links that might give more information (see Other Bloggers of Note). The first Stitching Jubilee is scheduled in Pennsylvania and I know I can't manage that one, but I'm very happy for the stitchers that will be able to attend. Just being able to meet these folks in person and see their design models (and buy the charts once inspired) was a real treat.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Oops, correction

DS2 did NOT quit the post office, he is working two jobs.

I can't keep up.

Friday, December 14, 2007

I love my car, I love my car...

Really, I do love my car. It's a 2003 Ford Explorer. The small one without the fancy gadgets. I've had it to Kansas and back three times (with my mom, stopping at quilt shops along the way) and back and forth to Eden a half dozen times more. In it I feel safe and comfortable.

Until recently.

I seem to have a short in my alarm system and the car "chirps" for no reason at random times. Today I stopped at Smart & Final for some Christmas shopping. As I was checking out the store door slid open and I could hear a car honking away. I looked over and realized in horror that it was MY car making all that racket. The clerk said it had been doing that for a long time. DH knows about as little about cars as I do, but my next-door neighbors are much more knowledgeable and came over to check things out. They tinkered a while, then undid the battery cables for a couple of minutes to see if the system would reset. So far it's been quiet for about a half hour and I'm hoping that holds until tomorrow when we may be able to take it to our mechanic. Of course, this happened during the exact week that DH's car is in the garage (seven days and counting) getting its transmission rebuilt. DH and I are sharing my car, so it can't be laid up right now.

Anyway, I was really looking forward all day to coming home and catching up here. A little later than I'd hoped but here I am. Not that there's a whole lot to tell.

It's wintertime at Disneyland and I've been becoming reacquainted with the Santa Ana Fwy enjoying the holiday decor. They've done something new with the castle called "Wintertime Enchantment". They turn on all of these lights (85,000 LED lights) in three "acts" and with each act it "snows" at Disneyland. Yes, it's movie snow (otherwise known as shaving cream) and is rather odd in that it "falls" in small, predefined areas (under the blowers), but deprived California children think it's really wonderful (and hundreds of mid-westerners escaping the cold to come to sunny SoCA think the locals are insane.) I went one Sunday with two colleagues, the next Wednesday for Walt Disney's birthday (by myself as my sister has started a new job and couldn't justify taking the day off) and then day before yesterday I took my parents.

We got to be part of "The Year of a Million Dreams"! Mom and Dad LOVE Billy Hill and the Hillbillies. We were on our way into the theater when we were stopped by a very sweet castmember named Katrina. "Are you going to see the show?" she asked. "Oh, yes, we're big fans!" we replied. She smiled and looked at my mom in her wheelchair, asking, "Are you able to get out of your chair?" After Mom replied that yes, she could transfer out, Katrina asked if Mom could handle a few "steps". Thinking Katrina was asking if Mom could walk a few steps, Mom said yes. "Then let me show you to your table," Katrina invited. Now this was new, as the Golden Horseshoe Theater is strictly seat and serve yourself. Little did we know...

Katrina led us to "Walt's Box". This is the box that Walt Disney used whenever he wanted to watch the Golden Horseshoe Revue. We got to watch the show from this box and didn't have to wait in the long food line for a snack.

This is my hot fudge sundae which is a kind of a hidden Mickey. Check out the cookie ears.

We all never get tired of the Hillbillies, but this was a whole different perspective on the show.

My folks liked it that I was so excited to be sitting in Walt's box, but they didn't like being "on stage" nor did they like this perspective on the show so we came back after a little shopping for a second show. Fantastic music and hysteria. Can't beat it.

After dinner we headed back to It's a Small World to enjoy the holiday overlay. The music is an arrangement that blends that "famous" tune with "Jingle Bells" and "Deck the Halls". The decorations are amazing. More amazing are the new LED lights on the exterior. The holiday lighting has always been spectacular but now they are simply amazing!

In other news, I'm having a really hard time getting my act together for Christmas. This will be the first year in many (over a quarter of a century. There, doesn't that sound like a long time?) that there are no children living here. So far my tree is up but that's about it. I've done some shopping but am not even close to being done (I think I've bought more for myself than for the others this year). DH will be gone all morning tomorrow so I'm hoping to get some decorating (and cleaning) done as well as get his big gift put together. I don't know if he pops in here or not but I'm not taking a chance. I'll post a picture of his gift after Christmas (forget it, honey, if you're checking in.)

We're still waiting on the fences. Good thing we have lovely neighbors and that neither household has small children or dogs.

DS2 quit the post office. I think the final straw was when he tried to get a Saturday off so that he could be a groomsman in the wedding of a lifelong friend. DS2 had been asked to walk the mother of the groom down the aisle. His supervisor told him that if he wanted the day off he would have to get his shift covered (mind you, he's a SUB himself!) He got the shift covered so his A__H___ supervisor scheduled him for a second shift, then made him get someone to cover that. DS2 got that one covered and the supervisor scheduled him for a THIRD shift, then made him get it covered before he finally got the day off. Sort of. The supervisor still made him come in to case routes from 6:00 to 8:00 am on the morning of the wedding. DS2 had a year to learn first-hand what is meant by "going postal." It was the year from hell and he quit as of this week. He's been rehired at the local "best" pizza place where he worked before he went away to college for two years. When he worked there before he made about $100 a night between hourly pay and tips and he knows they will give him regular, predictable hours. Most importantly the local owners always treated their employees with integrity, something that was, sadly, lacking in our post office once the postmaster (who hired DS2) was transferred to "help out" another branch.

DS1 seems to be settling into a better routine at his school. A couple of his emotionally disturbed students were sent to another school which brought him down to "only" 19 fourth and fifth graders in a 250 square foot classroom with a floor that slopes ten degrees. They hired a supervisor so that the teachers can take a potty break and short lunch break every day (he had been working 7:30 am to 4:30 pm with only ten minutes to run to the restroom because there was nobody else to watch his students for recess and lunch.)

DH is having the time of his life between his emancipated foster youth volunteering, Big Brothers (his "little" is a 17-year-old high school junior who DH will be helping get ready for graduation and college) and his American Sign Language classes in addition to being elected President for a second term on the Community College District Board of Trustees. Now, if I could just convince this retired "house husband" (his words) to cook on a regular basis...

I have not taken a stitch in over a week. I did manage to finish up the last two years' Christmas scrapbook pages so that I can leave the albums out for the holiday. Looks like nobody is getting my little kitten this year as I've run out of time. So what else is new? Sigh.

I've been reading Getting Things Done by David Allen (who, it turns out, lives very close to me in the nearby town of Ojai.) It's actually interesting enough to keep me awake at night. However, I'm a long way from implementing any of his ideas (although I did set up an inbox at school with notebook paper nearby to add items.) I think that will help me keep on top of things there if I can manage to remember to do the weekly review. Things aren't looking too good right now, though. The big task I needed to accomplish this weekend was to write up the observation report for the new teacher I'm mentoring and I left all my notes in my classroom. Sitting right next to the new inbox.

And for the last half hour the horn on my car has been chirping.

It may be a long night if it kicks into panic mode again.


Saturday, December 01, 2007

100 posts!

Actually, I missed my 100th post (This is number 102). I'm not sure how that happened as, the last time I checked, I was only at 89. It will probably be back under 100 tomorrow, huh?

Still, for this milestone it seems appropriate for me to send out my Christmas card. My thanks to Missy for the idea. She shared her favorite Christmas song via Dave Matthews on youtube, which I really enjoyed. And she inspired me to go on over to youtube and see if my own rather obscure Christmas song might just maybe be there. Oh my gosh! It was.

So here is a favorite memory of a very special man who helped me and my sons have a very special Christmas.

"If you believe in love, that will be more than enough for you to come and celebrate with me."

P.S. I admit I didn't watch this all the way to the end before putting it here. Apparently the youtube poster did a little editing. My advice is to push the pause button right after Robert says "Merry Christmas" to this Uncle Kermit. Of course, if you play it to the end, you may have the same good laugh I did.

Just a ramble.

Yosemite Falls by Helene Knott. (Are quilt patterns italicized as if they are complete novels, or in quotes as if they are stories?)

Bear with me, I'll circle around to this quilt eventually.

Once I was thinking out loud about something to my sister. At some point there was a pause and my sister, with an awestruck expression on her face, said something like, "Does your mind always work like that? It must be exhausting." I think she meant it as a compliment but mostly the way my mind wanders around makes me feel befuddled most of the time. Anyway, this entry will be one of those meanders through the maze.

First, my congratulations and appreciation to all of you who completed the NaPloBoMo challenge of one post a day for the month (and weren't you all glad it was a short month?) I really enjoyed the insights into your lives and appreciate the time and effort you took to meet that challenge. So far the overwhelming response from the writers I've been reading has been, "Whew, glad that's over!" but I'm going to miss you.

A benefit for me has been that, as I've checked in daily to enjoy the daily posts, I've also tried to comment more and, when I'm in the comments sections, I usually find another comment that reaches out and interests me. Sometimes it's something said or even just the way it is said, and I'm one click and off to meet someone new. I've added several new blogs to my reading list and have enjoyed getting to know you all. Today I wandered to Australia to meet chiasmata . When I was eight I read a book called My Zoo Family and from that moment until high school graduation planned to be a zookeeper, so I identified right away with her love of animals. I had to laugh when she talked about her budgie sitting on her head and nibbling her hair. I had one once who did the same thing so that brought back nice memories for me.

I also felt her frustration as she ranted about one special adolescent in her life. Her concerns reflected mine about many of my students exactly. I recently had this conversation with my 26-year-old son. He commented that, no offense, Mom, he would not raise his kids the way he'd been raised. I had to laugh and assure him that if I could go back thirty years, I would not raise him and his brother the same way, either. As it turns out, we both had reached the same conclusion from our different impressions of the same experience (him growing up). Every parent tries to do better for their child than their parents did for them. I can, in good conscience, say that I did not make the same mistakes with my children that my parents did with me. I made different mistakes, and my children are having to retrain themselves now because of them. Because I wanted them to be happy, and because it gave me joy to watch them explore their talents, I did not do a good job of making them "earn" much of anything. Now, I didn't buy them whatever toys they wanted. I always said, "No," as I recall although their dad was a different story. But they didn't go without for very long when they needed equipment or supplies to explore their passions. As a result, especially the youngest is struggling with the concept that he might be stuck for a while in a job he hates so that he can pay the bills.

But at least he's in the job. What I'm seeing in my classroom is the next generation, so spoiled and lazy that a growing number of them expect to get good grades in school just because they have done us the favor of showing up for class. Perfectly nice, smart kids who have nothing more challenging in their lives than fighting the dress code and figuring out how to hide their ipod in class so they can play solitaire rather than pay attention to the assignment, and whose parents then demand an hour of my time (unpaid) to rant about their child's poor grade in class.

And the next turn in the maze is into our contract negotiations. I'm fortunate that I'm covered under my husband's decent medical insurance but some of our younger teachers with young families are paying out 20% and more of their monthly income to keep their children insured. If this country doesn't socialize its health care (the way we've done everything from fire protection to libraries) we're going to be in deeper trouble very soon. Now that I think of it, I don't like this part of the maze so I'm backing out and heading for a happier place.

My escape into fantasy for the holiday started Thursday when I went to see Disney's Enchanted (I'm still humming "Happy Working Song" - "pluck a hairball from the shower drain") and continues tomorrow with my first trip to Disneyland of the winter. I'm going with friends tomorrow, then am supposed to go with my sister for our annual pilgrimage for Walt Disney's birthday. She's just starting a new job, though, and may not be able to get the day off so I may be alone. That's OK. On the following Wednesday I will take my parents for their winter visit. They love the place any time, but Disneyland in its winter decor is not to be missed. This year they have something new - Wintertime Enchantment - and we're all anxious to experience it.

Today is errands day, though, and I need to close this up and get ready to venture out. I'm starting a California Tribute quilt using mostly McKenna Ryan blocks. However, I'm also using a pattern by Helene Knott (see, I told you I'd get there) as the centerpiece and need to see if I can find the right batik for the mountainside. It's one of those domino quilting experiences. I bought the Yosemite Falls pattern. I've also been collecting McKenna Ryan patterns for years with no idea what to do with them. Somewhere along the line as we've worked on designing the Utah house I decided that I wanted the upstairs decor to reflect our love of the Rocky Mountains (where the house will be), but the downstairs guest areas to reflect our love of the natural beauty and wildlife of California. It was during my McKenna Ryan club meeting at my lns (well, it's in the next town but it's as close as I come) that it dawned on me I could combine a lot of the patterns I already had into a California quilt for downstairs. I want to put the Falls in the center, then surround it with other blocks. The one I was working on - orange poppies, our state flower - would be perfect in said quilt. So, here's how the dominoes fell.

I have the poppies block ready to fuse to the background. Our teacher says for best results to follow McKenna's directions in the pattern. Her directions say to put the sashing or border on before fusing to make sure your poppy stems are right up next to the seam. I don't have fabric for sashing. If I buy sashing fabric, I want it to be for the whole California quilt. Before I commit to the whole California quilt (and buy the sashing fabric) I want to see if I can find the right fabric for those rock slopes in the Falls pattern. Once I commit to the Falls (meaning, I have the rock fabric) I can commit to the sashing and can draw out the design so I know how big a sashing to sew onto the poppy block so I can then fuse the pieces! While I'm thinking of it, I should also get the background, because these are all 'quilt-as-you-go' blocks so if I want to sew them down I need the backing, too.

And this is why I have so many partially collected kits around and very few starts. Kathryn, my book better get here, soon!