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

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Life's an Adventure....

Can't tell the whole story but here's what I can.

Monday was the first day back to school after spring break. I was feeling pretty good about where we were headed because we've moved into my favorite lessons to teach. I told my students where we were headed for the rest of the year. This week we would do immigration and then the growth of cities. Next week women's suffrage (which I don't really have together - having never taught a whole week unit about it - but I have done some preliminary work on it and was confident I would have it pulled together during my five preps by the end of the week). The following week is STAR testing, and my unit on the Plains Indian Wars. When we've completed that we'll do cowboys, Buffalo Soldiers and the Populist movement (a one-day lecture using the Wizard of Oz that we all enjoy). After that is two weeks of Ragtime - a research project I've put together about the Progressive Era - ending with the movie Newsies in the last full week for eighth graders. (The last week of school for them is absorbed with graduation activities).

Tuesday I had jury duty. I've already posted why I thought I would be safe sitting in the jury assembly room all day and what actually happened. In short, my name was - quite literally - pulled from a box of qualified citizens to serve a 99-day assignment on the county's criminal grand jury. This service is to be from 9-5 every Monday and Friday until July 31. And if they need us any other days, they'll try to give us five days notice. They explained that we would hear a wide variety of cases. Sometimes one case might take several days. Other days we might hear several cases in one day. Part of the adventure.

By the way, a number of friends have asked if I've been taking my stitching to work on during jury duty. First of all, no handwork needles of any kind are allowed in the justice part of the government center. Secondly, this process requires absolute attention - it's exhausting - at all times. They've warned us that there might be times when a witness doesn't show up on time or something where we'll just be sitting and waiting, but so far everything has moved very efficiently. I have school papers to grade in my bag just in case.

So, on Wednesday I'm back at school, breaking the news to my Principal and his Administrative Assistant (who is going to have to deal with this thing). I told my students that what I told them Monday is pretty well out the window and that I will have to rearrange things to see how the year will actually end up looking. I gave them a seatwork assignment so that I could plan the rest of the school year. I had to then put together three days of lessons because our first day of jury service was Thursday, the next day. Fortunately, by noon the Admin was able to tell me which sub had committed to the job (a terrific one for this job and my class). I had everything slapped together for the three days in time to conduct a meeting with the Union Exec Council that went until five, then I tied the loose ends together as best I could (I felt badly because I usually leave complete, detailed, organized plans but all I could do was leave bullet details for this one).

By Thursday morning I'd developed some concerns about what I'd left so I left the house at my usual time (7:30 am) and dropped by school. I wrote a quick note to the sub and went into the office to drop the note in the sub folder. The principal caught me and wanted to chat about an email he and I had received that morning (I hadn't opened my email because - hello? - I wasn't supposed to even be there). This mother's son is one of my least attentive, least productive and most disruptive students. I still haven't read her email but, according to the principal, she wants me to let her son pass my class by reading one chapter of some book every week. The principal thought I might want to send the kid out of class with his book every day, under the circumstances. I was astonished. I told the principal that I had no idea what she was talking about, that I had to leave right now to make it to court in time so was not going to go back and read her email but that, no, this kid is not going to be excused from the regular work of the class to go read one chapter a week from some book so that he can graduate with his friends.

At that I left (7:55 am) for my jury duty adventure.

Normally when you think of the relative distance between Camarillo and Ventura, we say it's about twenty minutes. I had no idea if there would be traffic at 8:00 in the morning but it seemed possible. As it turned out, traffic moved very smoothly. It turned out that 7:55 was a just right time, though. It took about 20 minutes to get to the offramp, about 10 more to get from the freeway to the courthouse and another couple of minutes to park. From where I parked it was about a five-minute walk to the building and through security and to a restroom.

I'm happy to say I've mastered security check. I pulled out and dusted my wonderful Binh bag to use for this duty. I made sure I put nothing in it that might set off the machine (one of my co-jurors had a fork taken away from her yesterday). I moved my ID, cash and cards out of my humongous wallet-checkbook and into my little Disneyland wallet and now move it from the Binh bag back to my purse as needed. I added a small set of papers to grade. I keep my watch in the bag (and make sure my keys have made it there, too) until I'm past security. Made it through without a hitch. (On Tuesday, the guard had to ask to see my shoes every time because my Sketchers have cute little zippers that set off the machine; now I just wear my ugly sneakers with no metal on them). Yesterday I thought there was some problem because the X-ray tech guard turned the bag around as it came out of the machine, but it turned out he liked the bag and wanted to look at the label.

After the stop at the restroom, I headed for the courtroom and made it with about ten minutes to spare. This is a comfortable time for me. It means that if I leave at 7:55 I have about ten minutes wiggle room in case something happens. I was relaxed when they opened the door and brought us in.

I'm not allowed to say anything - ANYthing - about what happens inside that courtroom. I will say that it is a fascinating experience and I am very impressed with the professionalism of everyone involved. We had a 1.5 hour lunch period. I will bring my lunch most days, If there's one advantage to this experience it is that it should help me stay on my diet. The breaks are only long enough to rush though a potty stop and there's no snacking in court. I may be able to chomp a few peanuts or some raisins on the break but other than that there is no time for snacking.

After Thursday's session I headed directly for a school board workshop meeting that started at 5:30. After an hour-and-a-half in a metal folding chair (my butt's too big for those so this is torture), during which one of the trustees blamed our current financial woes on the union (me) - again - I stopped at Jack-in-the-Box for comfort food for dinner and then finally got home.

Friday was a similar schedule. I did leave during the lunch break and headed down the street to the Green Thumb nursery to look - again - for heliotrope to put in the Fairy Garden. Again, there wasn't any in the perennial section so I tried the shade section and there were some nice gallon cans there (it grows in full sun for me so I was surprised to find it there.) I also bought two spectacular heuchera (with kind of pinkish leaves) and one more common one with the salmon pink flowers I want in the Fairy Garden.

Friday we were dismissed by 4:15, which thrilled me because I still needed to stop at Costco for a prescription refill that I had not been able to pick up the day before (don't want to do jury duty without my high blood pressure medication). Never again on a Friday afternoon. It took an hour to get the Rx filled, and although I love Costco, it's a hard place to kill an hour. I picked up shrimp (DH's request) and turkey wraps for dinner and headed home.

Things were mellow at home. DS2 had played and played with the puppy and he was pretty well zonked. Normally when I get home he's in a frenzy to say hello, then wants to play for a half hour before he'll settle down on my feet for a nap. Friday he came over and said hello - calmly. I got a sandwich and kicked my feet up on the recliner. I put a movie in the laptop (the guys were watching the Dodger game) and was going to unwind by watching a dvd. I barely finished my little sandwich before I fell asleep in front of the movie. I guess I was pretty funny as I would wake up and watch for about thirty seconds, then crash again. That's just how exhausted I was.

Yesterday (Saturday) was crop day. I was still to tired to face the idea of loading all my scrapbooking stuff up into my car, so I just grabbed a piece of stitchery I've been working on and headed over to my folks' for the day. Had a nice day of catching up with my folks and sister, then Mom took me out to her favorite restaurant for dinner where I enjoyed their fantastic tri-tip salad. Got home about nine and settled in front of the computer to catch up. Slept well (the puppy is sleeping pretty much through the night now) and was up early this morning. Already got in a load of laundry and after I finish this post will head out to plant the flowers in the Fairy Garden. Later I will need to tie up the loose ends for tomorrow and finish plans for the Women's suffrage unit for next week.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

No person shall be held to answer...

Jury Duty Surprises.

I should have known better. Last year, after decades of jury duty during which I never got out of the paging areas, I packed up a tote full of fun things to do for the day and within a half hour was sent to a courtroom where I sat through three days of interviews before being excused.

Sure that this couldn't happen two years in a row, yesterday I again packed up a tote full of fun things to do for the day of jury duty. And was again on my way to a courtroom right after the morning break.

And now find myself on the county's criminal grand jury.

Duty every Monday and Friday morning from 9-5. Starting tomorrow, which is Thursday. And any other day the DA's office decides they need us.

Of all years. Not only the most difficult group of students I've ever had in the year after I was SUPPOSED to have retired. Not only the first year back in the president's saddle for the teacher's union in the year of massive budget cuts and lay-offs. Not only a year as a beginning teacher support provider for a beginning teacher who can't (won't) get his act together.

Now I have to layer on completely re-structuring all my lessons so that the kids are doing things with a sub that I don't have to be there for. No prep two days a week, which means spending my weekends processing paperwork.

And - worst of all - this goes until JULY 31. I will have to cancel my June escape to Utah.

I'm practically catatonic with shock.

I don't even want to think what might be coming next. Probably a tornado in Southern California. An earthquake would be too predictable.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

The party's over...

I hear a dirge.

I really don't want to go back to work.


Really, really.

The week will be made even more special because I have jury duty Tuesday. I don't mind jury duty. I was on a panel for three days last year. First time in 15 years of doing duty that I got into a courtroom. I have a cousin who's a judge. We were having family chat time after her father's funeral and she shared that she "hates teachers who do jury duty." The rest of the family thought I would be insulted but I just smiled and said I knew what she was talking about. No teacher thinks a sub will ever do a decent job of covering their class while they are on jury duty. I don't have that problem. I'm not that terrific a teacher this year anyway, and we have great subs. But it does take time to get everything set up and that irritates me.

Oh well.

I thought I'd do a little inventory re: my goals that I set before break. Here's how things turned out:

I did not read The Host by Stephanie Meyer. The puppy (only 11 weeks) still requires a lot of attention (still tearing plants apart, still fascinated by the pond, still doesn't understand that there is more than one door that leads to the toilet so that if the one you usually use is closed, you have an alternative.) I did read Debbie Macomber's 20 Wishes and am part way through Barbara Delinsky's Together Alone.

Did not work on the winter bird. Again, with the constant vigilance on the dog, it was impossible to do something as mentally strenuous as COUNT. So, I traced this freebie by Natalie Lymer and worked on it a couple of evenings. I'm looking forward to making it the centerpiece in a journal cover and have already picked out the fabrics (most by Sandy Gervais).

I got quite a lot done on the side yard clean up including getting all the grass and weeds out of the Fairy Garden, installed a working pvc sprinkler system (still hoping to cover the pipe with soil). The biggest concern was getting my Cecile Brunner rose up off the ground and onto a support and I did manage that (although why I needed thirty trips to the garage for tools -one at a time- still escapes me).

I was able to extend the tire mulch another 1.5 feet or so. My next steps are to cut up all the scrap lumber that is propped against the house so that it can go out in the wood recycling. Once that's done I can finish pulling grass, then bring in another 30-40 stacking blocks to finish the rest of the retainer along that fence line. And once that's done I will plant milkweed all along the fence for the Monarchs. (DS2 did us a huge favor by weeding the entire yard while we were on vacation last year, but he didn't realize the milkweed patch was not a patch of weeds. Poor butterflies had to find someplace else to lay eggs last August).

Speaking of butterflies, I have a trellis similar to this one in my front yard that is covered with passion vine. The Gulf Fritillaries lay eggs on it every year.

I love these butterflies. Not quite as large as a Monarch and they have more of a "flutter" in their flight, but the color is almost a fluorescent orange and I really enjoy watching them. So much so that I keep trying to grow passion vine on the Fairy Garden trellis. When I pulled the weeds this break I was thrilled to find last year's plant still hanging in there. I'm sure I could plant the common variety here and it would grow as well as it does in the front, but I wanted to try something different. I tried one with a gorgeous salmony-red flower, but it turned out to act like an annual. Then I tried one with a dark blue bloom and it never did get going. Last year's is another species (rather than a cultivar) and I was hopeful it would "take" and stick like the one in front did. Of course, they can only handle so much neglect, and this bed was completely neglected for months so I expected this plant to be long dead. Not only is it not dead, but once I got out the grass that was choking it and gave it some water, it really started to grow.

This is what it should look like - eventually.

I decided not to work on the baskets BOM blocks this break. Instead, I will take them to jury duty with me Tuesday and do the tracing there. I also have not decided how to finish the Easter piece, although I did find a good pink to go into the mix. The pile on the ironing table in my room is higher, not lower, but I did get the space cleared to sew in the spare room. And, as I already posted, I added the task of clearing the sideyard that the puppy uses as a toilet (that was a very good move) and I got the sweet pea bed weeded. I have the compost in the car and three packets of sweet pea seed to plant, but today was really hot and I fear I may have missed the window.

I have about two flats of flowers to plant in the Fairy Garden and will try to get some in after school (if it's cool enough this week.)

For now, however, I have to go wash dishes. It's been quite warm here (in the 90s today) and I had to wait until it cooled down a little before plunging my hands into hot water.

I hate summer weather. Especially in April.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Frustration, thy name is...

What a day.

My spring break is almost over. I did not go to Utah this year because of the new puppy. He turned out to be quite a distraction, particularly where the side yard project was concerned. The first day I worked out here he was OK; he thought it very entertaining to "help" me pull grass. But by the second day I was moving into more dangerous territory and had to keep him on a shorter leash. Which meant he was usually standing where I wanted to work. I got to the point where I had to only work out here when someone else was home to keep an eye on the scamp.

I've been moving right along on this project, but there have been some nasty surprises. For example, when I built this trellis thing, I knew that grass behind the trellis might be a problem, so I designed the structure so that the lowest piece of trellis (it's vinyl) can be taken off just by loosening screws. Then I had put down landscape cloth behind it and covered the landscape cloth with pea gravel. Worked pretty well for the first couple of years, but last year the fence blew down in some heavy winds and the guys who rebuilt it did a few things that I didn't appreciate. One of the things they did was to dig new post holes and put the dirt over my pea gravel, which created a good environment for grass to grow this year. I took the trellis apart and pulled the grass, then used a whole bag (Costco size) of recycled tire mulch - about a 4" layer - to create what I HOPE will be a weed-free zone behind the trellis.

I REALLY had hoped to finish both of the other projects in this garden. First, I wanted to rip out the drip system (I hate drip systems because they are constant maintenance and never work right) and replace it with a pvc system. Went pretty well except that the last two strip sprinklers were twisted a little. But that story later.

The other project was the rescue of the Cecile Brunner rose. It actually went very well. With some dramatic pruning I was able to manipulate the bush back into an upright stature. It is temporarily secured with a rope to the trellis. I was able to install the 12"x12" deck support which only awaits the 4"x4" for support. I have the wood for the support and it won't take more than five minutes to cut it to the length I want. So, what's the problem?

I don't seem to be able to find the screws I bought two months ago for this project. Those would be the screws I bought at the same time I bought the deck support so that I could make SURE I have the right size lag screws and ancillary screws. Those would be the screws that I kept on my desk for weeks because I knew right where they were and as soon as I had some spare time I would install this rose support and by golly use those screws.

I was NOT able to finish the project because the screws are gone. And have been gone since DH's friend (needing some extra cash) cleaned our house. He paid her for six hours work, then monopolized her for one hour feeding her breakfast and later lunch, and it has taken me over an hour "fixing" everything she screwed up. I still can't find a few things, including those screws. So, now I will have to drive into town and buy the screws before I can finish this project. Yes, I have embarrassed myself. Apparently when I did some picking up I moved said screws from the desk to the little bowl that I keep next to the computer for my keys and watch. Being so disorganized that I have not managed to put said keys or watch into the bowl in a long time, I forgot the screws were there. Very glad my husband's friend does not read this blog.

However, I decided I could turn on the water and adjust the levels of the new sprinklers, so I walked around to the newly installed lever and turned on the water. To my unhappy surprise, the new strip-pattern sprinklers were at full open and the water was gushing right into my partially opened office window. I raced as fast as my fat self could move through the kitchen (grabbing a small screwdriver on the way through) and headed to the sideyard to adjust the sprinkler output. Of course, the water was now gushing right at me (at it was COLD). I never was able to adjust them. I was reminded of the water-boarding torture stories as I fought the full-strength spray in my face and down my shirt and soaking my sweatpants. After a half a minute I realized there was no way I could make them work, so I sloshed back around to the valve and turned the water off. Chore two for tomorrow is to go out and adjust the screws that control the volume of water while the system is OFF, then cut the pipe and re-glue it so that those two sprinklers spray UP as they are supposed to rather than toward the office window.

In a happier story, Dodger dragged his bed out of the bedroom and into the kitchen, where he took a nice long nap in front of the refrigerator.

He cracks me up.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Gotta Watch This!

but grab a box of tissues, first!

Susan Boyle, Britain's Got Talent.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Bucket List?

Or just a trash can?

Last week I posted a list of things I hoped to accomplish this spring break. I've been more productive than usual, although I must admit to straying from the list.

For example, this is NOT the fairy garden that is featured prominently on my Break List. This is the other sideyard and the chosen toileting spot for Bleedin' Dodger Blue (or Dodger), our 9-week-old yellow lab. Mind, this is not where we had in mind (being right outside the kitchen door and family room window (phew!) but at this point as long as the pup makes it out there to do his business, I'm happy. Problem was, the planter space was pretty full of bulbs (that were probably bird delivered because I didn't plant them) that have never bloomed but make lots of leaves, spring grass and sword ferns (that I did plant 35 years ago and have never been able to get rid of ). All the foliage made it pretty tough to scoop the poop, so this morning I cleared it all out.

I promise myself, tomorrow is fairy garden.

I also finished clearing a space to work on my machine quilting.

It's in better shape than it looks as the stuff stacked on the end of the table is stuff to be sewn. Tomorrow for sure, if not tonight.

I really need to get to the gym this afternoon, although I'm kind of waiting until someone is here to watch the dog. We crated him for over five hours yesterday and I hate to do it again so soon.

Elinor Peace Bailey - I am so happy to have found her blog. I've always been a fan of her soft doll designs. Several years ago (yikes, a quarter century?) I was chairing a doll conference and contracted with Ms. Bailey to be one of our conference speakers. She arrived loaded with personality and humor and dolls to exemplify both. It turned out that our second speaker had to cancel due to a family emergency, and Ms. Bailey very graciously offered to do two presentations. I can tell you, those collectors had the time of their life. Her schedule of appearances is on her blog. If there's any way you can attend one, you won't be sorry you made the effort. She's a treasure!

I know I made this miniature Victorian doll. I wonder where she's hiding?

we are honored to have a little towhee visiting our home from time to time. She is the drabbest thing you'd ever want to see, but I have to admire her chutzpah. Today is the first time I saw the phenomenon, but my husband says she is a daily visitor to our kitchen, where she helps herself to whatever is left out on a counter. Now that there is an open bag of puppy food available, she thinks she's found the golden goose of little brown bird food.

Except for the occasional toilet accident she is most welcome.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

And so we say a fond farewell...

...to Chocolate Season.

A very happy Easter to everyone. Here's wishing us all a rebirth of health and joy in our country.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Spring Dreams

5 days.

Our spring break is quite late this year and my colleagues and I are hanging on by our fingernails. There are two things wrong with a late spring break when you teach middle school (and especially eighth grade, like I do). First, the kids have been ready for spring break for about two weeks already so they're really antsy. Here in SoCA the weather has been absolutely gorgeous and my students do NOT want to be sitting in a classroom.

The other problem is that when they come back, there are so few weeks left of school that it's very difficult to "get them back" on task. Especially the eight graders. The high school has already been out to register them for next year. State standardized testing will be the first week in May. A double dose of "I'm outta here." But another month of school to go. A positive of teaching eighth grade, however, is that the last week nobody questions when we decide no more lessons. Graduates are in and out constantly on end-of-year trips, commencement rehearsals and awards presentations. I just tell them to bring their yearbooks and if they happen to be in my classroom they will be signing books.

Anyway, this year spring break is AFTER Easter and Easter is late so the break is late. The last several years I've gone to Utah, hoping to catch some snow. No, I don't do winter sports, but I love tucking in surrounded by the white stuff. In the six years we've owned the condo, I've been in the snow once, and that was the first year.

Of course, it looks nothing like this, now, as it's all been built out. But it's still a beautiful place to be. Unfortunately, because I still have to work, I never get up there in the winter (or fall for that matter) and there's never been snow left during spring break when I do get up. Until this year. This year I'm not going up because of this guy.

There will come a time when we will haul Dodger everywhere with us, but he's too young now for a two-day car trip (not to mention he hasn't completed his series of Parvo shots) so home we'll stay.

And, of course, they're enjoying beautiful weather following several days and 41" of new snow. (The link shows the resort at the top of Powder Mountain. Our condo is near the bottom.)

My goal is to do the same amount of relaxing that I would have done if I'd been up there for the week. Here is my dream list of things to do for my soul when the great break finally arrives.

I've been saving Stephanie Meyer's, The Host, for spring break. I've read the Twilight series twice and got started on this one. It seems to have a much more complex storyline so I set it aside until I could really relax and sink myself into the book. In the picture the book is waiting for me on my new recliner. Reading and napping are right up at the top of my list.

Stitching is next on my list, and I will probably stay focused on this winter bird scene. If I were going to Eden I would take my Firefly Faeries, but things will be a little too distracted for that one with Dodger around so I will keep it simple.

One thing that I'm never able to do, of course, when I'm in Eden is work in my garden at home (kinda hard to take it with me). It really shows the neglect it has had over the last five years or so (as we're like homing pigeons flying to Eden every time a door is opened).This is the side yard off my room. It's so overgrown with grass that you can't even see my little flower fairy sculpture.

She almost looks like something the Easter Bunny might have left hidden in the grass. (See that bright magenta freesia? The picture on the package of bulbs showed a pale pink. I've been trying to get rid of these for years. Of course, I've never seen a pale pink one.)

Anyway, I'm hoping to have this entire area cleared out, all the old wood cut up and out in the recycling pick-up and the planter finished up to the decking by the end of the week. Then I'm going to lay landscape cloth and shredded bark in hopes of keeping the grass under control in the future.

A major rescue is needed here:

This is my Cecile Brunner in her third year (so she's ready for some shaping). Last year our wooden fence in this side yard blew down in heavy winds. The fence guys wrapped rope around this rose and pulled her to the ground to get her out of their way, breaking the stake that was holding her upright. I haven't repaired the damage yet because I wasn't sure what I wanted to do with her. She is way too rambunctious for a simple trellis, and I don't want an arch (although that's how most people grow her.) I ended up just getting a 12x12 cement deck support post and a 4x4 to bolt upright in the support. That should give her enough support for a while. I love this sweet, 19th century hybrid. The tiny pink rosebuds look like little hybrid tea roses and the flowers smell divine. I'm looking forward to being able to see and smell her from my room, but am not looking forward to the battle to get her upright again. Although she is listed in most rose lists as "thornless", this bush is definitely armed.

There will be some quilting, although I don't know if I'll get any stitching done on this project. I've absolutely fallen for the BOM that Anne Sutton has going over at her Bunny Tales site. She just posted block four, and I haven't started any yet!

I decided to use the Maywood Studios Willowberry line that I've collected for the main fabric line. I would love to use the stripe as the background, but I don't think I have enough so picked up the background fabric today.

If I could get all the patterns onto freezer paper, then cut out and pinned to the backgrounds, I would be a very happy girl. I've decided that these are 'traditional" enough designs that I want to do them by hand, and I think I'll try a needle-turning technique I learned online. In this version, you iron the freezer paper to the RIGHT side of the fabric and turn the edges under as you go along the outline, removing the pattern when you're finished. I've done the freezer paper on the wrong side and the paper always presents problems. If I catch it even a tiny bit in the stitches, when I go to remove it I damage the stitching. This seems to present more possibility for success.

I also hope to figure out what I want to do with the Easter piece I just finished. It would make a darling pillow or wallhanging. Towards that idea, I picked up some fabrics this morning:

So far I'm only getting a "Yeah, it's OK" vibe from this so I'm not going to jump in and do anything quite yet. Just think about it for a while. (Hmmm. I need a pink, don't I?)

Finally, while I have no delusions of getting this teeny office/sewing room/ bedroom and now / kennel the way I want it in just one week, I have set as a goal finding a place for everything in this pile:

It looks scary, but is actually kind of a hopeful collection. This is all that's left of last year's giant gag-out attic clearing. I know where some of it goes or needs to go and it's just a matter of taking it there or buying one or two totes for a few things (I need another underbed storage box, for example, for my overflowing paperback collection. When I get one and get the extra books stored in the garage with the other two boxes (yes, there's room) then I'll have space in the house for some of the books that are in this pile. If I take care of just a few things a day, I should be able to declare myself the victor by the end of the week.

Ambitious, I know. I don't expect it all to happen (after all, I'm supposed to relax). But there's nothing on the list I don't want to do, and if I get even one or two things completed AND can say I had a relaxing break, I will feel like it was a successful vacation.

In other news, when I first "met" Kim, I cracked up over what was in her sidebar. She had a picture of a USPS priority mail shipping box with a caption something like, "Helping the economy one box at a time." So when I got an email from a small quilt shop in a nearby town that announced a "Staying in Business Sale," I felt it my patriotic duty to follow Kim's example and hightail it up there this morning. That's where I got most of the fabric in this post, as well as a couple more pieces.

I'm trying to help the economy along by influencing my karma re: moving to Utah. We have the property and a set of designs for a house. I must stop saying "If we ever get to..." and start saying "When we do...". So, "when we do move to Utah" my sewing room will be fairy themed and I love these flower fairy pieces.

Lots of imagining to do here, huh?

Saturday, April 04, 2009


Probably always had it but now it's a problem.

My sister was ADHD before anybody knew what it was. My husband still has "fond" memories of her doing "Jolly Jumpers" which consisted of her jumping up and down in one place, over and over, saying (or shouting) "Jolly jumpers, jolly jumpers, jolly jumpers..." She was eleven and already larger than most grown women. Today as she pushes 50 she still drinks coffee to calm down, one of the sure indicators.

I never thought I had any issues because I didn't have the jumping thing going on. But as I've gotten older, I have a harder and harder time sticking to one thing for very long. In fact, my dream day is to be free to flit from one thing to another with no pressure to do anything. I would love to work in the garden in the cool of the morning, then take a shower before sitting down to some cross-stitch or embroidery until I got bored with it. Then I would go to the machine for some piecing until I'm tired of that, then back to stitching, then back to piecing, then read for a while and start the whole thing over again.

And I'm so easily distracted, and then my distractions become obsessions.

Like this morning.

For some reason I started wondering what happened to a manipulated photo I'd seen a few years ago. I love manipulated photos. Anything that miniaturizes fascinates me

Sometimes these manipulated photos can be pretty creepy, but they are always clever and often very charming.

My forever favorite was one of a young boy and his pet looking out a window. The boy seemed focused seriously on something but the pet seemed to be just enjoying the breeze. I decided to go look at it and the others in that collection of snagged photos again and my heart about stopped when I realized that I had snagged them on my old computer and had not managed to transfer that file to the new desktop.


The obsession set in. Nothing truly disappears from the internet, right? So I spent over an hour this morning with my best friend, Ms. Google, searching for this photo. In the search I found this WONDERFUL site called Worth 1000. The site is FULL of photo contests, including many contests of photo manipulation. And look what I found there:

It's called "Baby Elephant" and was entered by blueorb (a female). Like I said, this photo has stayed with me for quite a few years now and I was thrilled to find it again. Here's another with a similar theme by Krasq3a:

Anyway, Worth 1000 is definitely worth 1000 visits. And if you're a photo manipu-artist, check out their contest listings.

While I was wandering cyberspace searching for my little boy with his pet elephant, I got into a site called Human Descent's photostream. Again, wonderfully constructed manipulations. Some "hybrid" animals can be pretty scary, but HD had some exceptionally well designed examples.

Worth 1000 had some, too.

How I envy these artists the alternate reality they must be able to tap into from time to time! I'm a very good - often even excellent - craftswoman. But I've rarely (if ever?) had an original clever idea that I wanted to develop into something I could create with my own hands.

I'm grateful for those who can and are willing to share.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

As Chiloe would say...

...bring out the disco ball 'cause it's time for a happy dance!

Yes, I have finally finished a piece of cross stitch.

The chart is called "Easter Line Up" and it's by The Trilogy. I have some buttons to consider - a butterfly and ladybug by Just Another Button Company and some tiny daisy-looking buttons. I'll try them out here and there and then decide if I really want to use them. The cover picture of the sample has an egg-shaped button on the piece (down in the egg row) but I don't really like it that much. Kind of draws the eye away from the stitching.

Now I get to decide what to do next. Do I finish the winter bird? Or do I start something new? I really liked working on this because 1) it's on fiddler which is much easier on my eyes than linen and 2) it was broken up into segments and I felt a sense of accomplishment as I completed each segment. I have already kitted three of Shepherd's Bush's "scatter" designs. I had to pull a strand of floss from the "Scatter Freedom" kit to finish the Easter one and am thinking seriously of doing that one next.

Decisions, decisions.