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, April 22, 2007


Theme: Steps

I know it's another bad photo. I'm afraid of heights or falling or both. The ony way I could take the picture was to stretch my arm and camera out over the well and blind snap. Even looking at the pic makes me tremble. This is in the newly restored mill at the Tracy Aviary in Liberty Park, Salt Lake City. What a wonderful place!

I hate being obvious. When I read the theme "Steps" I was working on a perfect esoteric example.

My school district is in crisis. For years the Board of Trustees has been supporting small schools out of teacher salaries. (We have twice as many schools as our next door neighbor district which has exactly the same number of students and income) . With the continual increases in health care premiums (yeah, crummy health benefits, too) our teachers, who are already earning $1000 per month less than any other teacher in our county, are paying out $1000 per month to insure their families. Maybe it wouldn't hurt so badly if we were a poor community, but we're one of the richest in the state. I have celebrity children, who live in lovely huge homes, in my classes every year. Many of our teachers can't afford to live here and now can't afford the gasoline to commute.

We thought our Board was finally seeing the light. For months they have been moving toward consolidating six of the smaller schools into three in order to improve teacher compensation. Then, last week they discussed rescinding all their work and putting the decision off for a year. What pantywaists! I suppose small schools are nice. I wouldn't know; I've always taught in large schools. It must be nice to only have 22 kids in a class instead of my 35 (times five since I teach middle school). But is it fair that I should have to pay for that other school's small class out of my salary? And what's particularly galling is that those small schools have lower test scores than the larger schools, so it's not like they're doing a better job!

Anyway, "steps." My job yesterday was to make up the steps for teacher protest. Rallies, buttons, picketing, letters, meetings, petitions, strikes... what a physical and emotional drain.

And the beat goes on...

Sunday, April 15, 2007


It took a while, but I was able to fix my camera. May is going to be a fun month with lots of birthdays and trips. I want to be able to take pictures and I certainly can't afford a new camera with so many birthday presents to buy and trips to pay for.

Breathing a sigh of relief.


"The Scream" by Edvard Munch, 1893

I've broken my camera.


Stitchery Update

To all my xstitchinprogress buds, my apologies. I received an email from Yahoo telling me that my emails (189 of them) from my groups had been bouncing back. This had something to do with my server and has been rectified. I've been so busy I really didn't notice, although I did note that this group was particularly quiet. It's good to hear from you all again.

I did some stitching over my vacation and wanted to show my progress. First, here's the latest update for "Firefly Faeries." Now that they're starting to look like something I'm getting excited to finish this.

Second, I've been working on Bent Creek's "The Lighthouse." This is a gift for someone but I don't think she reads my blog. The chart calls for Week's "Schneckley" for the top of the lighthouse, but I subbed Gentle Art's "Fragrant Cloves." I really love the play of the oranges and the teals in the the "sea" parts of this chart.

While on vacation, the lovely ladies of Shepherd's Bush introduced me to this magnifier. What a relief for my aging eyes! I had to buy a Q-Snap frame to support it but it only took me about 15 minutes to learn to work with it and I'm hooked. I was even able to work on the sampler in the bouncing car with this gadget in place. Definitely the best $20 I've spent in a long time.

Home again, home again, jiggedy jog...

Driving into Ogden Valley. I'll never get tired of it. In the left third of this picture, across the lake and at the base of the mountain is the development where we have our lot. The top of the mountain (and most of the surrounding mountains) are designated protected wildlife habitat.

Well, we're back from Eden. Sigh. On the way home we kept trying to come up with reasons we were glad to be coming home and all we could come up with were 1) we'll see the family and 2) we'll see the family and 3) we'll see the family. Truly, coming back to SoCA gets harder and harder.

This was not a particularly restful vacation but I'm not complaining. It was a fun and exciting week with a couple of "flaked out" days thrown in. We left right after school on Thursday, April 5 and drove to Primm (formerly called Stateline) Nevada for the night. We listened to Mayflower by Nathaniel Philbrick on audio book. (I MUST buy this to read in hardcover. What a fabulous book!) We left Primm early the next morning and were "home" in Eden in the middle of the afternoon. Stopped at Harley and Buck's, the new restaurant in the Eden General Store (fabulous food!) for dinner. It was still cool in the valley (in the low 30s at night, 50s most days up into the 60s on a couple). Spring usually hits this valley in early June so we were prepared. As usual, I, who am afraid to drive in snow, was driving during the only snow we saw the whole week. Just a flurry, though, so I was fine.

We unpacked and relaxed for the rest of Friday, then on Saturday morning our architect arrived with the first rendering of plans for the house we want to build up there. At her request, DH and I had sent her copious answers to a questionairre she had sent us and she captured our lifestyle perfectly! Unfortunately, she captured it in a 4400 square foot house rather than the 2500 square foot house we had asked for. After the three of us returned from the site where we saw how the plans would be oriented on the lot, I spent the rest of that day alternating stitching, working a crossword puzzle and looking at the plans that she left for us to study. We had invited her and her family to dinner that night which was great fun. She has terrific kids, a very nice husband and an entertaining (in a good way) mother.

After a good night's sleep I started messing with the plans and was able to slash a couple of hundred square feet off both floors. DH and I talked it over and decided to proceed with the slightly reduced main floorplan but leave most of the basement unfinished for the time being. Based on what she knows of the ar
ea she is estimating the cost will come in somewhere between $100-$150 per square foot. If so, we'll be able to make it (with a few changes in the five-year life plan). DH and Architect seem confident so I'm now just trying to stop fretting and enjoy the experience.

Monday was a completely lazy, cross-stitching day. I'm working on a sampler as a gift and finished the alphabet. Managed to fall asleep in my chair for a long, lovely nap. Worked a cross-word puzzle. Drank Cream O' Weber chocolate milk. Got another good night's sleep.

Tuesday DH had to fly back to SoCA for a Board of Trustees meeting. I dropped him at SL International at 11:00 for his flight, then met with the Architect (who will henceforth be known as the Goddess of Architecture or "GoA") with my revisions to the plan. We had some good conversations about other possible changes and I headed back to Ogden. I spent a lovely hour at my favorite ever shop, Shepherd's Bush. As I chatted with the counter worker (I WISH I had asked her name) she asked if the Firefly Faeries by Marilyn Leavitt-Imblum was fun to work on. I responded that it was but that it was difficult for me to work on linen because I don't see well. She directed me to the magnifier that they sell there and I decided to try one. It's the best $20 I've spent in a long time! I got the hang of working with it in about 15 minutes and now am using it even on the easier fabrics! I feel like I'm just flying as I stitch now. I was even able to work on the sampler (which is on 28 evenweave) in the CAR!

After that lovely visit (the ladies at Shepherd's Bush are just wonderful!) I headed back for a quiet evening at the condo. I found How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days on the television and sat and stitched all evening. Had no trouble sleeping through the night, then got ready to go back to SLC to pick up DH. I was supposed to pick him up at about two, so decided to leave early and check out the quilt shop in Ogden (Gardiner's Sew and Quilt), then FINALLY visit the Family History Library in SLC. After Gardiner's I went to the local Michael's to buy a new stitchery frame (the ones I usually use won't support that great magnifier). While I was there, DH called to update me on his flight information. His flight from SoCA to Las Vegas was leaving on time, but he was supposed to then pick up a flight from Chicago to SLC and that flight had been cancelled because of the weather. They had booked him on a 4:00 out of Las Vegas, but encouraged him to try to get a stand-by on a 1:00 when he got to LV. That would get him into SLC about 3:20 Mountain Time. Suited me fine since it gave me an extra hour at the family history library.

I can't believe that it will be five years in August that we've been traveling up there for vacations but I - with a B.A. in history and 25 years experience doing genealogy - have never made it to this library! I found it with no problem. Since I had run a few errands on my way into the city I took a moment before going into the library to call DH to see what was up.

He had landed in LV and was waiting at the gate for a stand-by seat, but he was #5 on the list and there was a situation. A young woman (about the age of our DS2) was trying to get to SLC because her mother had suddenly become gravely ill (heart attack? stroke? we'll never know.) She was #6 on the stand-by list. DH had already told the counter attendant to move her into his slot if necessary. As they all waited the young woman got a phone call. It was obvious from her reaction that something horrible had happened
and they all learned later that her mother had died while she waited for the flight. We'll never know what all the counter attendant had to do or how many other passengers cooperated to make it happen, but the grieving young woman did get onto the flight. DH did not. His flight would now not get in until 6:30 that night.

This was NOT a hardship for me. I haven't had unfettered time to do genealogy in years and had a fabulous time. I was only sorry that I hadn't thought to bring some notes up with me. As it was, all I could do was sit there and try to remember who I needed information on. I managed to find some new data on my mystery ancestor, Thomas Jefferson Brown, but nothing to tell me whether he died in Arkansas in 1854 or was murdered in New Orleans in 1839. [I just found a site that sells access to newspaper archives so I may try that angle.] At the appropriate time I packed up my stuff and headed out to the airport. DH came in right on time and we headed back to the valley. We tried to stop at the General Store for dinner (I hadn't had anything to eat since my Mormon Muffin that morning) but it was after 8:00 pm and they were closed. Fortunately, Eats of Eden was still open so we stopped there for the best burger I've had in a long time (maybe because I was so hungry?)

Thursday was another marvelously lazy day of stitching, stitching and stitching. We did manage to go to the General Store (sorry, Harley and Buck's) where we tried their French Onion soup (a little too beef brothy for me) and then split the biggest, most delicious rib eye steak I've ever had. Between the fatty steak and the house-building adventure, I didn't sleep all that well, but still managed to wake up rested for Friday.

On Friday we met again with GoA to see the revised floor plans and the proposed elevations. She had some drawn in some large support beams and I asked how she envisioned those beams. "We have access to reclaimed trestlewood," was her response. After our meeting, she took us to the local green
building center and to a display room for contractors. Now THAT was an eye-opener. DH fell in love with an all stainless-steel refrigerator with several temperature zones (drawers, etc.) Later we did some online homework and learned it was a Sub-Zero unit costing about $8,000 and certainly NOT Energy Star rated. We'll keep looking.

After we droppd GoA back at her office we headed over to the Tracy Aviary. What a delightful place! The tulips were in bloom and were stunning (we can't grow tulips in SoCA without a LOT of work). GoA had done some work in restoring an old mill on the property and had asked us to check it out. There they were! The "reclaimed trestlewood" pillars. Now I have to find out if those are what she had in mind for our house because, if so, we will insist that all visitors hug a pillar on their way in. These things are gorgeous! We also loved the clay plaster wall treatment, but she had told us that when you want to fill in a nailhole, all you do is spray the stuff with water and smear it around. But now I wonder, how do you clean off the fingerprints? If it's that easy to move around with water, won't you just wash it right off if you try to scrub off some fingerprints?

By the time we ended our walk around the aviary we were ready to return to our little home away from home for our last afternoon and evening. I did a little
more stitching, then started the "breakdown" process of moving out of the condo. Throwing out uneaten food, moving stuff back into the locking owner's closets, washing dishtowels and so on.

Yesterday (Saturday) morning we finally drove out at about 6:30 am. We to Orem for breakfast at the IHOP, then stopped several hours later in Mesquite, NV, for lunch. We got home at about 7:30 our time. It was good to see the kids although, as usual, there was a crisis. DS1 had a flat tire on his car and so was using mine. The worst part of having your grown children living with you is that you still freak out when they have a problem even though it's now THEIR problem, not yours, to solve.

So, now it's Sunday and I'm trying to gear up to return to work tomorrow. Only nine more weeks (44 days but who's counting?) of school. It's hard to believe how quickly this year has flown by, especially since the days at work seem to drag. I've always considered myself lucky to teach eighth grade. Because of their year-end graduations activities we are "done" teaching eighth grade a few days early so I figure I have under 40 teaching days left.

Things are pretty much the same chaos here as ever. I'll be tackling laundry today and hope to dig out my office enough to get back to work tomorrow. I see out the window that my rose "Cecil Brunner' decided to start blooming while I was gone and that my goldfinch feeder is empty. Guess I'll go pick a few blossoms (they smell so good!) and fill the feeder. Sounds like a good way to procrastinate for a while.


Theme: Hobby

Just got back from a week's vacation in Utah. Made some pretty good progress on "Firefly Faeries" by Marilyn Leavitt-Imblum

I had to laugh at this week's Photo Hunters Theme of "Hobby." How to choose? Since I was getting ready to post my cross-stitch progress anyway, I decided just to stick with this picture although it's really not worth looking at for its photo quality.

My hobbies are what keep me somewhat sane in my current crazy life. I think I'll record (in this online journal) as many hobbies as I can think of that I enjoy (or have in my past adult life). In italics I'll note the ones I don't plan to do again; In bold the ones I'm currently enjoying. The rest I may or may not pick up again although they were great fun while I did them.

Counted cross-stitch
Primitive embroidery
Cloth doll-making
Porcelain doll-making
Cast ceramics
Sewing clothes
American Begonia Society
Garden carpentry
Garden birding
Garden butterflies
Clogging (have to lose about a hundred pounds before I pick up that one again)
Taking snapshots (digital)
Collecting Kewpies
Collecting Faeries
Collecting Teddy Bears
Collecting Boyd's figurines
Collecting Holiday Decorations and Decorating for Holidays
Collecting Decorative Tins
Genealogy and Family History

I'm sure I'll have to come back and add to this list, but that's all I can think of for now. DH makes fun of me for having so many hobbies but it doesn't look like so much to me. And while I enjoy all of them, I'm not obsessive about any of them so they don't interfere with my day-to-day life.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

West of Eden

When I was a kid I measured the passage of time in relation to events. Two more weeks until Christmas. One more week until Christmas. Five more days until Christmas.

For some reason, the most important marker was THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW. The day after tomorrow is Christmas. The day after tomorrow is my birthday. The day after tomorrow school starts (yeah, I always looked forward to that.) I still measure time that way and the day after tomorrow is still the most important marker. I never use that measure for yucky things, only for fun things.

Yesterday it was a mantra: The day after tomorrow we leave for Utah. The day after tomorrow we leave for Utah. And now it's tomorrow and I'm hanging by my fingernails. DS1 needs work so I took the day off to run errands and pack so he could sub for me (he's a great sub, too, so it's not like I'm employing an idiot out of charity or something.) Then, tomorrow, we'll be on the road by 3:30, spend the night in Primm and then be "home" in the early afternoon.

Let the healing begin.

I'm even looking forward to the first part of the trip which ain't so good. SoCA freeways for two hours, then the trek across the Mojave Desert (how did they survive it on foot and without rest areas?) and on to Nevada. We'll take the back way into Lancaster and are hoping to see some wildflowers. The poppies were blooming last week so maybe some remnants. But, even if we miss them, at least we'll be out-of-here.

As excited as we are to just be going "home" for the week, our excitement has been enhanced since November because our architect said she would try to have some preliminary sketches for us to check out on this trip. Now we are all aflutter (well, I am; I can't picture DH aflutter, but he's pretty excited) because she emailed us yesterday that she wants to meet with us at least three times next week. Sounds like she plans to make some significant progress in getting this done.

I'm nervous and excited at the same time. I have a very clear vision of what I
want this house to look like and work like, but I can't have what I want. It would be way too big and way too expensive. What I've tried to do is "let go" and approach it as if we are touring model homes and this set of plans will be the floorplan for a home that is close enough and can be altered to be closer to the vision.

As always, I have a long list of Things do Do while on this vacation. I'm taking my "...Spring..." quilt so that I can mark some of the embroidery onto the borders, my "Firefly Faeries" so I can finish the blue fairy, and
Bent Creek's "The Lighthouse" sampler (a gift). I'm about finished with The Eld
est by Christopher Paolini so will take that for falling asleep reading. DH promises we'll listen to The Mayflower and I'll take my romances on CD to listen to while I stitch. We plan several walks (including a promised moose hunt with the architect on her property in the same valley), and I'm hoping to spend a little time in the Family History library in SLC (four years visiting the area and this historian hasn't made it there, yet) as well as in the green building center there. Oh, yeah, and another trip to Utah House for ideas and a tour of the Tracy Aviary and...

Well, probably most of that will go by way of napping in my comfortable chair, as usual. But that's OK. It's vacation, right?