31 December, 2012

Ring out the old, Ring in the new...Happy New Year to You, and You, and You!

I've been working on a list of Things to Do in 2013. I had lots of ideas. Here is where I started.

Do everything!
Lose all the weight I want to
Read all the books
Watch no tv
Make 1 quilt a month
Work part time
Make twice the money.

After some sober reflection I thought that might be just a wee bit ambitious. So, here's my adjusted list.

Volunteer for CSAC or other rescue at least once a month.
Write in my blog once a week, minimum.
Make six quilts this year.
Commit to the 100 Day Challenge and move my body at least 30 minutes each day for the first 100 days of the year.
Start yoga classes this week (yay! I love yoga.)
Start putting away money each month for Thomas' future car needs.
Get back to eating healthier and finish up the year 40 lbs. lighter than I am right now. (Right now I am 40 lbs. lighter than I was at this time last year, so I'm moving in the right direction!)
Read one book of non-fiction each month and track my reading on my blog.

That all seems possible and ambitious. I don't really have a BHAG, but I am thinking about it.

30 December, 2012

Home is the traveler

Woke up in the cold of MN this morning, where the temperature was about 1 degree Fahrenheit. We flew home and are now in MD, where it is cold, but not THAT cold.

It was a nice visit with the family, but tonight I am happy to be home where I can sleep in my own bed and hand out with my little dogs. Punkin didn't do so well while we were gone...she is still an anxious little girl and wasn't at all down with us leaving her with a pet sitter. Still, it was better than putting her in a kennel, where I think she would not have eaten at all.

Today was the penultimate day of the year, and tomorrow is the last day. I a working, and then getting together with some friends. I think I will spend some time coming up with some goals and plans for 2013 too.

07 November, 2012

Preparing to prepare

I read part of an article in Newsweek yesterday about how travelling nurses and other health professionals have stepped up to help people in NY and NJ who have been affected by the storm.

One part was about a nurse who got a call from a man who can’t inject himself with his medicine. She drives miles to get to him, walks through flooded streets, climbs twelve flights of stairs, to find this man in a cold, dark apartment with no electricity, gas, batteries, food, or water. So she gives him the injection and then starts helping him figure out a plan for what to do next.

And that’s when the top of my head blew off with a sort of puzzled, frustrated rage. Because, as sad as it is to read about the destruction that Sandy brought, I keep thinking, “Y’all, we had lots and lots of warning that things were going to be bad. If you couldn’t or wouldn’t leave, why didn’t you at least prepare?” 

If you are older, or ill, wouldn’t it make sense to get out of the area, to somewhere the power won’t fail on you? A hotel a hundred miles inland? To visit friends or family in a non-twelve story building where you won’t be stranded with no elevator?

If you just can’t leave your home because…I don’t know why, because you have agoraphobia and all your relatives live a million miles away, couldn’t you get some batteries and a wad of cash, stock some non-perishable food, fill all your pitchers with water, and at least buy yourself some time to figure out what comes next before your situation becomes dire?

Why do so many people have a plan that consists of:
1.     Believing that nothing bad is going to happen.
2.     If something bad happens, I have a six pack of water and some soda crackers around here somewhere.
3.     I am not evacuating, because I don’t want to and you can’t make me, and besides, nothing bad is going to happen.
4.     Something really bad is happening, and I am scared, so I better call the cops or the fire department and tell them to come get me.
5.     Something really bad happened. I don’t know how to contact my family, or my insurance agent. I don’t know my policy numbers. The shelter won’t let me stay here with my dogs because I don’t have their rabies papers, so I am going to have to stay in my car with the dogs, or just turn the dogs loose and hope for the best. I never thought anything like this could happen to me!

This has made me decide that Thomas and I need to come up with an emergency plan, a better one than hoping nothing bad happens. I want the important papers in one place, for us to have an emergency kit and a dog-emergency kit with their papers/some food, to have “go-bags” with some basics packed in case we needed to grab the puppers and go. I want to know that if we were without power and gas for a few days, we could survive, if not in comfort, then with the basics covered until we could go somewhere else or get things fixed at home.

Going without a plan and hoping for the best is really not the best idea ever.


06 November, 2012

This chair is no longer making me anxious

The manky old fabric that came off the front of the chair. It was loose so I pulled it off. Yellow stripes.

One coat of Annie Sloan's Barcelona Orange

The back.

I cleaned the wood with odorless mineral spirits before I painted.

After only one coat there was a lot of wood showing through.

Ginger finds painting inexpressibly tedious.

I got that sucker up on the picnic table to to put the second coat on.

 It took me just a few hours to clean the chair and do two coats of paint. I like that about the chalk paint, very little arduous prep. I also like this color a lot. Looking at the pictures makes me smile, remembering the nice day I did all this a few weeks ago. I was on the back patio, wearing my pajama bottoms and a tee shirt, enjoying the sunshine and puttering around painting my new-old chair.

I got some fabric online. You can see a picture of it here at this website. It's a neutralish linen/cotton blend called Fritz in a color Bisque. It has a slight stripe. I got it last week but just dropped it off at the upholsterer today.

I liked doing all this so far, I can see myself reworking other old pieces of furniture. Will post more when I get the chair back. I still have to wax it...

05 November, 2012

People are strange, when you're a stranger

At the airport yesterday, as I walked towards the exit, I was behind three interesting girls. I do mean girls too, they could not have been more than late teens, early twenties. They were obviously Orthodox Jews, wearing wigs/head coverings, pushing strollers with small kids in them, and had on the Orthodox uniform of long sleeves/long skirt. They were also very small women, I bet not a one of them was even 4' 10". They were talking about someone who used to be a trader with Bear Sterns who has a lot of money and now does some kind of volunteer work and "my husband knows about him, or if not, he can ask someone who does know about him..." It was a tantalizing fragment of conversation. Another strange thing about one of these women was that even though her hair was covered as was most of her skin, she had the worst case of Visible Panty Line I've ever seen. She was a little pillowy (baby weight?) and she was obviously wearing  a pair of teeny, tiny underwear (maybe even a thong) that was cutting her nearabouts in two, with all this flesh puffing up around it. She might want to think about going up a skirt size to maintain her modesty.

The taxi driver who picked us up at the hotel on Friday night did not know how to get to the restaurant we were going to. He drove around and around, asking us (the out-of-towners) exactly where the restaurant was and all we had was a map we got from the hotel concierge. He ran the meter up a lot before Clara got her phone out and got directions. I was fuming in the back seat wondering why the heck he didn't have a GPS. What kind of taxi company sends out drivers who don't know their way around and don't have GPS?

04 November, 2012

A weekend away

I just got back from a wonderful weekend in Houston, TX at the International Quilt Expo. This was my third time to the show in the last six years, and as usual, it was inspiring, amazing, and so much fun!

The only bobble in the weekend was that the Thursday flight I was supposed to take at around 6 pm was postponed over and over again until 11:30 pm, at which time it was cancelled. Thomas was long home and in fact had been in bed for over an hour when I called him, so I took the airline up on their offer of a hotel room near the airport. Was back early on Friday, to discover that my 7:00 am flight was postponed until 10 am. Sigh...although it could have been worse, because it turns out I was now on a flight with my friend Christine and her friend Donna, so at least on Friday I had someone to talk to.

The show is hard to describe. The Houston Convention center is about as big as three or four football fields, and it is filled to the edges with quilty goodness. In one section they have the show quilts. It is almost overwhelming to see the amount of talent, creativity, and skill that is packed in there. There are traditional quilts, appliqued beauties, art quilts, modern quilts, whimsical quilts that make you stop and laugh and peer close to get all the details. Some quilts have serious themes, and the talent that the quilter poured into their work makes you reflect on the message. Other quilts are just riotous celebrations of color and texture and beauty.

The merchandise mall has more good stuff than you can shake a stick at...but most of us seemed to be okay with whipping out our debit cards and our cash money and hurling them at the vendors. "That! and that! and that! I need all that stuff! Oooooh, fabric, and notions, and patterns!" To tell you the truth, I didn't spend nearly as much as I was prepared to. I tried to buy carefully and get fabric I can use for quilts I have planned. I will not lie though, I did make some sweet impulse purchases of beads and some shiny fusible metallics and sheers just to play with.

My roommates were the awesome Chris and Clara, friends from quilt guild. We had good Texas meals - steak on Friday and Mexican on Saturday. In the evenings we visited the hotel bar to talk and drink and do show and tell of all the goodies we got. For me it was three days of no television/dvds, no internet, and a bare minimum of "meet you next to the Brother booth at 5:30" phone calls. I loved that I was so unplugged. I was with people I liked, doing things that made me happy, and that's way better than being plugged into the electronic nipple of the internet.

If you want to see the award winning quilts, follow this linky.  Here are two of my favorite quilts:
Crime Scene Investigation

Ms. MacDonald Had a Farm
members of the Hanging By A Thread group

You can scroll up and down and look at them...although sadly, the pictures are pale, pale substitutes for the real thing. There is just no way a picture can show you the details and the depth and richness stitching and fabric choices bring to a quilt.

19 October, 2012

Friday, not too freaky

It rained and rained yesterday. Then today was dry and clear...right up to the point where I got home and started out on our walk. It was cloudy, and then the lighting and thunder started...at which point I hightailed it home.
I want those little dogs to get their walk, but I'm not going to be outdoors in a storm to make it happen. Then the rain started and it's been pretty steady for the last three-four hours. Not heavy, but just a continuous rain. Thomas, listening to this as he lay on the bed with shivering dogs (scared of thunder), said sourly, "They said it wasn't going to rain today. This isn't supposed to be happening."
My replay was that it doesn't really matter what "they" said, because all the evidence was that it was happening. He gave up and went to bed early, lights off at about 9. I am still up. I've unpacked some more boxes and put things away upstairs, setting up my sewing table so I can get back to work on my next quilt.
I've been watching youtube videos on how to do upholstery. If it was just a matter of redoing a seat cushion, I might give it a shot, but I am not going to have my first project be a large one like a rocking chair. That way lies too many tears...and madness.
I have a plan for tomorrow that involves going to pick up my new chair and taking it to the uphosterer for an estimate. If the price is right I'll make an appointment to drop it back off. Then it's home to paint it. Then I have to do some baking for a get-together tomorrow night. After that I'll probably need to rest.

18 October, 2012

This chair is making me anxious.

I am buying this from craigslist:

It is a "comfortable vintage rocker," to quote the craigslist ad. It was cheap. I decided to buy it on the spur of the moment. I have a wild hare (something my mother always said about impulse decisions) to paint the frame with Annie Sloan chalk paint and then have it reupholstered to go in my newly re-painted living room.

Now that I've made this insane decision, I have so many questions. I have never in my life had anything reupholstered and I am a nervous wreck. How does one know if one is being charged fairly for new upholstery? What if I get ripped off? What fabric should I choose? Who supplies the fabric - me or the upholsterer? Do upholsterers have books of fabric for me to look at and choose from (like wallpaper books at the decorators?) or am I supposed to source it myself and provide it? If so, how in the world am I supposed to know how much fabric this chair will take? What if I make a bad fabric choice? Why have I done this to myself?

I also have to decide what color to paint it. I've been haunting websites about using the ASCP and there are a couple of colors that look like they would go with the new paint (Sherwin Williams Quietude) and I keep coming back to the crazy idea of painting the chair the bright Orange and using some kind of brown or linen like fabric. Is that crazy? Maybe I should go quieter? Or heck, maybe I should go big or go home?

I also need to start on a new quilt to hang in my newly repainted living room because the red, blue, green, and ivory one I had in there before Does Not Go At All. 

I should have known that once you start redecorating, it's hard to stop.

03 October, 2012

I promise that my personal tragedy will not affect my ability to do hair

Today was one of those days. The days where from the moment you get up things are just...off. Not good. First I got up and walked the dogs and it was misty and foggy and th roads were filthy and wet. Ginger was all over the place and didn't want to get off the road and kept walking down the center line and people honked at me, and finally I lost it a little and yelled at her and jerked on her chain. And then I felt like both a mean person and a bad, guilty person. She is a jerk, but that doesn't excuse me from being a jerk too.

Then I went to the podiatrist for another stupid shot. My foot had been feeling better up until Monday night at yoga when I got a bad case of the shooting pains. Now I'm back to where I was a couple of weeks ago.

I got to work and guess what day it was? Flu shot day! Yep, I got my second shot of the day before 10 am. Did not expect that!

After work I came home and dived into my favorite thing - cleaning off shelves so the painters can paint the walls behind them. Cleaning is not on my list of top 100 things I like to do. I think it's higher on my list than getting shots, but only by a tiny margin. I have been reading my book about decluttering, so this sort of works in with my desire to streamline the house/my life.

Anyway, we are almost done with the cleaning and tidying. I identified things to be thrown away, donated to the church yard sale, donated to the guild's fabric sale, and things to be returned to the people who lent them to me. All that goes in today's small WIN column.

I found out that my aunt (mom's sister) who has been very ill has been diagnosed with Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. That was one of the diseases we used to fear (from ticks) when I was a little kid, but this is the first time I've ever heard of someone actually having it. I'm glad they got a diagnosis and that it is treatable. I know my cousin has been very worried about her. Another WIN.

I may not stay up for the debate tonight. Unlike all the fence-sitting Undecideds, I know who I'm voting for and the strain and stress on my nerves from listen to politicians talk probably isn't a great idea. As Stephen Dubner told Kai Ryssdahl on Marketplace tonight, "One things politicians are always good at is making promises they have no way of keeping." Ugh.

30 September, 2012

To all the boys I loved before...a long time before

Another boy I loved when I was in junior high. Looking at him now, I can't figure out why we were all crazy about him. He looks kinda...soft. Girly. Non-threatening. Well, that explains a lot!


I'd also like to point out that, yes, I owned the album.

Then there was this guy who I was deeply, meaningfully crushing on:


To be honest, this was one where I was way more in love with Luke Skywalker than I was with Mark Hamill. I was at the age where I saw movies multiple times, and the fictional world of Star Wars was as important and real to me as anything that was happening in my own boring life.

I had a thing for fantasy, so these guys were also on my list of Hot Star Fighter Pilots I Loved:

Dirk Benedict:


Richard Hatch:

Gil Gerard:


Excuse me while I go off in the corner and have a fit of the giggles over Gil and those awesome skintight gold pants!

Then there were the cop shows that I loved, and the cops that I loved too!


More later. By the 80s I was starting to develop odd crushes on unsuitably older (!) men who were not at all obvious objects of affection. Here's a preview:

27 September, 2012

A crowd of men and boys

Has anyone else seen one of the pictures in Newsweek from this week? It is a double paged spread of a crowd on a street of Pakistan. The crowd seems to be all men and boys, although there may be one veiled woman in the back, that figure is blurry and hard to see. They are walking down the street, wearing dusty sandals and a mix of traditional clothing and western jeans and t-shirt, with stones clutched in their hands. Some of them are shouting and screaming, one boy in the front has a face that is twisted in anger as he pulls his stone back to throw. They are protesting, supposedly, that stupid movie.

It just makes me feel a host of things. Sadness that the world is filled with so much hate. Anger that this group of people is out there having anti-American demonstrations, shouting "Death to America," for reasons that don't justify that kind of xenophobia. Frustration that in this day and age we still understand each other so little.

The same magazine has an article where a Western journalist spends a week with a Saudi woman who rarely leaves her home, has never spoken with a man who is not in her family, and is proud that her whole life is about pleasing her husband and raising her kids to support the exact status quo. She wants her daughters to grow up to have a life as limited as hers is. I cannot understand that at all, so I guess the lack of understanding goes both ways.

I am a news junkie. I listen to NPR, read websites, and try to keep up with what is happening in the world. Sometimes though, I think I should cut myself off from it all. The knowing doesn't make me any happier. It just makes me mad, and scared, and frustrated. And it makes me feel so small and powerless.

26 September, 2012

Oh Tuesday, you did not do me well

I finished another quilt top today and am sending it off tomorrow. After this I can get started on the bed quilt I am going to make for my parent's new bedroom.

My foot is still not healed, even after my third shot on Tuesday. The same Tuesday on which I was also rear-ended as I sat waiting for the woman in front of me to start going at the green light. She did not go and did not go, and I waited, and then blammo, I was rear-ended. Totally not my fault (I was stationary at the time I was struck) but I am still in the middle of having to call the insurance companies and arrange car repairs, etc.

It was one of those days when I shoulda stayed in bed!

24 September, 2012

Monday Monday Agony Monday

My usual masseuse was sick today, so they offered me a different one. I didn't know any of them, so I said, "Anyone, it doesn't matter to me."

So I got Andre.

Andre was a nice young man, Russian, with a very thick accent.  Andre also seems to have trained as a masseur at his local gym, or maybe his local prison.

The massage was very vigorous, he reached muscles I didn't even know I had.

I was already exquisitely sore from several hours of weeding on Saturday, which I did after my first yoga class in two weeks.

The combo of yoga and gardening left me stiff and sore. The massage loosened me up, but there were a couple of moments when I nearly screamed. I kid you not, this guy had hands of steel and was not afraid to apply them to my body with all his strength. I got tickled a couple of times, wondering what would happen if I started shrieking, "Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaagh, you are killing meeeeeee!"

18 September, 2012

All the boys I've lurved before...

When I was a little girl in SC with a rad pink record player I played the records of The Osmonds. I loved Donny.

That pretty much goes without saying. All the girls loved Donny. Heck, for all I know, all the boys loved Donny as well, I shall have to check with The Gays to see if they too had a deep love and longing for the Sweetest Osmond.

Then there was David, I lurved him.

At the age when I loved David, I didn't have any real idea of what sexy meant, but in my naive, unformed, podlike way, I knew that David Cassidy was sexy.

A bit later, when I was getting a better idea what sexy was... I liked this a LOT.

"Adam-12, Adam-12, Randolph Mantooth makes me feel all giddy and tingly in ways I feel difficult to explain!"

More to come!

16 September, 2012

Autumn evening

What a beautiful, beautiful weekend! Perfect early autumn weather and lots of free time.

Today I finished an interesting mystery: Midwinter Sacrifice by Mons Kallentopf. It's one of these Swedish police procedurals where the main character may be Malin Fors, a 30ish single mom - but the REAL main character is the harsh climate, bare landscape, and freezing winter of Sweden, and how it seems to have made the Swedish people hard and flinty themselves.

I was outside reading and realized that even though it was 72 degrees, I was feeling chilled because of reading page after page of freezing Swedish weather.

It was cool enough this evening that I got out my flannel pjs for the first time. It's not cold, but just cool enough that it's comfy to have the flannel on. I LOVE this time of year.

10 September, 2012

It was a smallish needle, but it was a needle

Years ago I broke a bone in my right foot. I had a cast for months and months, and before it was over I also had a DVT. But it was about 17 years ago, so that is history.

I do wonder though if the break led to some basic instability in my right foot. Three times in the last three years I've had plantar fasciitis in that foot. For the last month I've had a new and different type of pain in the ball of my right foot. Dr. W, my podiatrist, says it's a classic case of capsulitis of the second toe.

Plantar fasciities is the number one foot complaint. Guess what is the second most common? Yep, if there is a common complaint, I've got to get on the bandwagon. I am a joiner, a follower, one who does what everyone else does. At least when it comes to podiatric problems. Apparently.

I made the error of googling the condition, and now I am going to be watching my foot - like a hawk - for any signs that the second toe is migrating over the big toe. Pictures of the surgery to correct it when it gets really bad were pretty gross.

I also have thick calluses on the balls of both feet, and to get my shot of steroids in there he sort of punched the needle in there. Even with the area numbed up with cold spray it was a shock. Listen, I am physically not a brave person. What I am is a proud person. Even though there was a part of me that wanted to scream "aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaagh," there is a much larger part of me that would rather eat dirt than cry in front of a doctor. I couldn't help a great big flinch, but I didn't even whimper. I did rather wish that there was someone around to say, "You are a very BRAVE girl," give me a sucker, and let me choose a toy from a treasure box, but the podiatrist is nothing like the pediatrician.

Some days, being an adult sucks!

09 September, 2012

Old jewelry, old feuds, old houses

I took some old gold and sterling silver into a local jeweler and sold it yesterday. Mostly it was my mom's unwanted/broken/single earrings, but there were a few larger things. In the end Mom had about $240 dollars worth of store credit. The next time she comes to visit we will go over there and arrange for her to have The Wrong Ring re-worked or re-set.

The Wrong Ring is one of my Grandmother's rings that was actually left to my aunt. A different one was left to my mother, but in the clusterfuck that was the aftermath of Grandma's death and sorting/dividing her things, my mother wound up giving her sister The Right Ring and taking This Other Ring. To me, the ring mom has is nice, but I think she sees it not as an actual piece of jewelry, but as a bitter reminder of a bad time and of the dissolution of her birth family. So, I said, why not have the Unsatisfactory Ring changed into a pretty pendant, or a different ring that won't make you feel bad. It will still be something from Grandma, but it will be different! I hope this works. Grandma has been gone for about 10 years...but the sadness and bitterness of the family break remain.

While I was there, I looked at a couple of amethyst rings set in white gold. They were so pretty.

This is not one of the rings, but it is similar to what I liked:

Each of the rings was around $500. I enjoyed trying them on and admiring them, but when you get right down to it, I am not at a place in my life where I feel I can spend that kind of money on something that is a want and not a need.

I also, while I was out and about, stopped in at Sherwin Williams and got paint chips. I may not be going to spend big bucks on jewelry, but I am going to spend cash having my house painted and fixed up. We have chosen paint colors and the work should start in late September. These are the names of most of the paints we'll be using. We are going a bit more saturated and traditional this time. These color chips I copies off the Sherwin Williams site don't really look like the colors on the paper chips I have, but at least you can see where we are going.

Sassy Green - SW 6416
Sassy Green for our bedroom

Compatible Cream - SW 6387
Compatible Cream for kitchen, dining room above chair rail; great room

Quietude - SW 6212
Quietude for Living Room.

Hardware - SW 6172
Hardware. Under chair rail in dining room.

Flower Pot - SW 6334
Flowerpot. For the Spare Room.         

08 September, 2012

The music of the falling rain

I walked the dogs in the mist and the rain today. It has been very rainy lately. As I walked I thought about how some places have so much rain it's dangerous and others are desert dry and gasping for any rain at all.

It made me think of how when I was a little girl I always wished I could "send" rain to Texas. My Grandpappy and Uncle Mike farmed in the Texas panhandle...and the constant  refrain was how dry it was and how badly they needed rain. And in SC we had lots and lots of it. In my way of thinking, that wasn't fair - why did God give us all the rain we needed, but my Grandpappy was going to lose a crop if he didn't get some rain? Frankly, I don't know that I have moved on that much, it still doesn't seem fair to me.

I  weeded for a very short time this morning, and good grief, I have a bunch of dog stinkhorn fungus growing out of the mulch in the back. It is REVOLTING. Have you ever seen it? Here's a photo:

The brown stuff on the tip is sticky and slimy looking and according to the innernetz, it smells like rotting meat to the flies it attracts. Ugh and double ugh! With all the rain we have had lately, there are all sorts of fungi growing everywhere, and the grass is growing like crazy and the weeds are flourishing.

01 September, 2012

Orange isn't my favorite color, but you go with what works

Yesterday evening I went down to my friend Christine's house and spent the night. We rose at dark-thirty to walk her dogs and then head off to the Germantown flea market, held the first Saturday of every month. I contributed nothing to the sale this month other than a table for Christine to display her wares. She had a very good month. She covered her expenses, made a few dollars, and (this is the important part) got rid of a bunch of things she didn't want in her house anymore.

This afternoon I took care of my own dogs and then went in for a Very Special Pedicure. Had to have my toes painted with some orange polish, to celebrate the first Clemson game of the season. It's just this thing I do to celebrate my alma mater in a way that is personally meaningful to me. Clemson won, which didn't have anything to do with my toenails, but I am happy for the team and the fans. Go Tigers!

This game was held down in Atlanta, and my friend/college roommate Amanda F. was there. I am sure she and her family are all having a happy evening now that the close game came out well. All wins are good wins, and now, if I know them, they are looking forward to the first HOME game. If you haven't ever been to a Clemson game, you should go sometime, it's an experience. Picture about 80,000 rabid fans, wearing mostly orange, faces painted with Tiger Paws, ready for "the most exciting 25 seconds in college football," when the team runs into Death Valley. The stadium is nicknamed Death Valley...Southerners are NOTHING if they are not fond of exaggeration and hyperbole. It's in a valley, it's near a cemetery*, and back in the 1940s some coach told a sports writer that he had to take his team to Clemson to play in death valley...WELL, that's exactly the kind of thing to make a Southerner's toes curl in ecstacy. Frank Howard Field at Memorial Stadium is so commonly known as Death Valley that I am willing to bet that there are diehard Clemson fans who hardly know the stadium's real name. Frank Howard even got a rock from the actual Death Valley, which is right there at the top of the green grass in the end zone. It's called...Howard's Rock.

*Thanks to Clemson University, my parents are now the proud owners of a plot in the cemetery on the hill near the stadium. So one day, their earthly remains will rest peacefully near Death Valley...not a bad thing for a Clemson family...

18 August, 2012

Pipe dreams

The house was sold and my parents are homeless until the house is built. But the good news is that the builders started site prep this week. Excitement abounds.

I did a dog transport today.  It was a little black male who was drastically underweight at 17 pounds. He also had huge matts and scaly skin and needs to be neutered. I am SO glad he got into rescue; whoever had him before should be shot.

I am currently watching the BBC movie of My Family and Other Animals and it's making me want to run away to Corfu. Wonder if Greek real estate is less dear than it used to be?  Perhaps I could get some while it's cheap. A little white villa, like a sugar cube, overlooking the sea somewhere.

12 August, 2012

This Old House

I have been in Clemson, SC since last Thursday night. I have been helping my parents pack up their house and move their belongings into storage. They are selling the "family home" and building a new house in Patrick Square, a newish development just a short drive from Clemson Gardens, the old neighborhood. The new house is called "the York" and has 3 bedrooms and 2 baths, all on one level, and a two car garage. Since it will all be new, there should not be too much upkeep needed, and they will not have to do any outdoor work. The grass is mowed by the HOA, there is a pool and community center. Mom and Dad go out there to swim now and drive around; even though they don't have their house yet, they feel like part of the community.

We have worked hard the last three days. We've packed many boxes and moved them to storage. All their clothes and things they need to live daily have been moved to the cabin where they'll be staying until January 13. The cabin belongs to their friends Debbie and Gene and has been empty for the last 18 months, and Mom and Dad will be there until the house in PS is ready. It's near Table Rock state park, and is about 45 minutes from Clemson. It's a very cute log cabin with three br and two baths. They'll be comfortable there, although it sounds like they plan to drive down every day to watch the progress on Chez Graham.

I am full of mixed feelings. I am thrilled that they have made this decision and are excited about the next chapter of their lives. I think their new house will be comfortable and I'm glad they've sorted through their belongings and gotten rid of a bunch of junk. It is also bittersweet to say goodbye to the house we moved into when I was almost 4 years old and lived in until I moved to Maryland at age 22. A part of my history is passing out of family hands. It is really okay, I'm not sad, just a bit wistful.

We ate breakfast on Saturday at Grits and Groceries, in Belton, SC. Oh my goodness, the food was divine. We had apple fritters, praline bacon, tomato pie, shrimp and grits, and steak and eggs. The couple that owns the restaurant is interesting. She's the chef and he's the baker. He was from SC and she was from NC and they lived for years in New Orleans. When they had a kid they decided to move back to this area of the country so the boy would grow up where his people were. They bought an old house, gutted it, and created a restaurant where they serve gourmet Southern food with as much locally sourced food as they can. The decor was casual and fun and they don't let patrons talk on cell phones (yay!) while in the restaurant. If you ever get near Belton/Due West, SC, you should definitely try Grits and Groceries!

I head back to MD tomorrow. I wish I could stay until the moving company comes to pick up the furniture, but I've got to get back to Thomas and the puppers and my work.

07 August, 2012

Stormy Seas and Black Dog Books

Storm at Sea in (mostly) Fairy Frost fabrics.

This is a detail of the Storm at Sea quilt I sent to my friend Stephanie. She and her husband spent several years living on board a boat, but they are now living back on dry land. I thought a Storm at Sea in these particular colors (some of her faves) would remind them of good times on the Brine.

The cool thing about this pattern is that there is not a curved line in it, it is all straight seams, but the eye sees curves. It's a beautiful pattern and these Fairy Frosts are very nice.

Last Saturday Thomas and I went by the library, and I found four books. It was not until I was in the car looking at them that I realized that three of the four had a picture that included a black dog on the cover. Here are two of the covers. I wasn't aware that I was choosing Black Dog Books, but I was!

Product Details

Product Details

I have also been reading a lot of books on Project Gutenberg lately. I read Dear Enemy this week. It is a sort of follow up to Daddy Long-Legs and is charming. The main character is Sallie McBride, Judy Abbott's college chum, who has been coerced into working as the Matron of The John Grier Home, the orphanage where Judy grew up. Sallie is going to drag the orphanage, kicking and screaming, into the 20th century. It's told in the form of letters from Sallie to everyone she knows, and it's really funny.

Something I've noticed though in all these old books, is that I am (stupidly) shocked by the casual racism. I shouldn't be, I know that it was a different time, and what seems just ignorant and unbelievable to me was ordinary.

05 August, 2012

Couple of pictures

This was our houseguest last week. Her name is Maggie. I called her Lady Maggielotta Busypants!

This was our potato harvest this year:

Fun to eat our own potato harvest. Look at the size of some of the tiniest of potatoes. There are also some tomatoes and Thai peppers from our garden.

30 July, 2012

Life as a dogsitter

We are dogsitting for some friends of ours. Their little mixed breed dog Maggie is staying with us for a few days. She's doing fine.

I think it's making Punkin feel a little insecure. She keeps growling at Ginger for some reason. Not at Maggie, the new kid on the block, but Ginger who is always here. Dogs are wierd!

I used to walk three dogs every day, but I've gotten out of the habit. Walking all of them today was a challenge. It makes me realize that I don't really want to go back to having three dogs. I loved all three of ours, but am satisfied now with just the two. One hand per leash! Two hands, two dogs. It works.

I finished putting the binding on this quilt last night. It is for Wilson, my award-winning brother-in-law. He's a good guy who deserves his own quilt, so here it is.

I started this at my quilt guild's come and go retreat last January. I worked on it more in February when Samantha, Thomas and I were at the cabin in VA. I finished piecing it in March at the quilt retreat at West River. Then it languished for a while as a quilt top. I finally sent it off and had it quilted and put the binding on in just three days or so. It's ready to ship off. This is the third quilt I've finished in the last month and I feel good about that.

Are you watching the Olympics? We watched the Opening Ceremony, which had highs and wierds, but overall I enjoyed. Tonight is the first time we are actually watching the races (swimming) and the gymnastics. Thomas is way more into it than I am. I like it, but haven't been glued to it.

28 July, 2012

Not the Princess and the Pea, but sorta kinda like that

Back in the days of my youth and poverty I always bought the cheapest of cheap when it came to things like sheets. This week I was reminded why I am glad the days of being just broke are part of my past. 

We needed some new sheets, because the purple ones we had ripped at the corner. Instead of having to go for the thinner, cheaper sheets, we got some nice new white ones. Lest you think we went all hog wild and spent $159 on a set of 600 count sheets woven by French maidens and washed in the tears of a Unicorn - Thomas and I are somewhat frugal people. We like to have nice things, but the set of 400 count sheets we got were on sale for $59. They are smooth and have a certain heft to them, so getting into bed is a pleasure. I am sure that sleep on these pretty sheets is more restful!

25 July, 2012

Get your motor runnin’” head out on the highway….

Thomas left early for work today. He called 30 minutes later to tell me he'd been in a car accident. No damage to him (or the other three drivers) and the car was drivable after the accident, so it could have been worse. But it's never fun to be in an accident. The police came and wrote up the accident, and one car had to be towed away. It took two hours for them to write up the incident and clear everything away and send him on his way.

Our insurance, which is Esurance (owned by allstate) seems to be very good so far. In Maryland, basically the rule is, "if you hit someone else in the the back of their car, you are responsible for the damage to their car." So the person who hit Thomas will be responsible for the damage to our car and we will be responsible for the car in front that Thomas hit. I am still not sure how it all happened, but it seems to be something like two lanes merging into one. One car stopped suddenly, setting off a chain reaction of cars bumping into each other. T was in the second car in the chain...

Damage to back of car.
We went ahead and dropped the Civic off at the body shop this evening so they can give us an estimate and get started on the repairs. He has arranged to work from home the rest of the week.

His first works to me when I answered the phone were, "I have been in a car accident..." and oh man, I could feel the adrenaline dumping into my bloodstream. My mouth got that sharp metal taste and my hands got cold. Even though his next words were, "I am okay, not hurt, but the car is damaged in the front and back," I had a bad moment. This is Thomas though, he sounded like he was calling to tell me he was going to spend the day at the beach, cool and collected. I was the one who was falling apart for a brief moment.  It didn't take long to realize that this was a "good" accident, if there is such a thing. Nobody bleeding, nobody needed an ambulance, and everyone at the scene was calm and had insurance!

22 July, 2012

Let me introduce you to my two little friends

The Wonder Twins. On the left is the Generac generator. On the right, the (wrapped for winter) a/c unit.
See those awesome pieces of machinery? The one on the right is the a/c, which as far as I'm concerned is the most important invention of the 20th century. The one on the left is the generator Thomas and I bought this past winter, in response to frequent power outages over the past few years.

Buying the generator, having the gas lines attached to it, and having the concrete pad laid for it and the unit installed cost us about $5000 total. SO WORTH IT.

We didn't need it at all through the cold weather, but we lost power for seven days after the big storm at the end of June. Seven days. And during that seven days we managed just fine. The a/c did not work, the unit isn't powerful enough to run that along with everything else. What it does run is:
the fridge
ceiling fans
washer and dryer
the internet router and tv

With all that, we were comfortable, able to eat, sleep, and hang around the house just fine. We had clean clothes and cold food/beverages. I got together with a friend last night who told us that they were out of power for only four days and they lost $1000 worth of food from their fridge and freezer. The Generac helped us avoid those kind of losses!

21 July, 2012

Aw Punkin!

Meet Punkin.

Punkin in a reflective moment.

This is Punkin, a foster dog we are taking care of for CSAC, the Cocker Spaniel Adoption Center. She's 12, weighs about 20 pounds, has luxuriantly curly hair. She's very lively for an older gal.

She has a somewhat sad story. She was owned by one person from puppyhood, but when he died, the "family" took her to a kill shelter where she was in danger of unnecessary euthanasia. She's a good dog and very healthy, but she is TWELVE. In your average shelter that means you have very little chance of adoption, and thus, survival.

CSAC took her in. She was with another foster mother for a couple of months. That foster said that Punkin was so depressed for the first couple of weeks that she refused to eat and just moped around. We took her because her foster mother was going out of town for a month and could not take Punkin with her. We saw the depression/moping/refusing to eat/snapping at us for the first couple of days she was here.

We are thinking of keeping her. This is a nice dog who has settled in well, and I keep thinking that it is not good for her that every time she thinks she's home and safe, she has to go somewhere else and start over. My friend Christine once said that each time we re-home a dog, we take a litle piece of their heart away. Dogs are amazingly adaptable, but this girl is elderly. She deserves to settle down and not have her life upended again.

She's active and in shape. When the back door opens, if she sees a squirrel, she LEAPS from the porch and shoots off after it. She barks enthusiastically at people doing crazy ass behaviour like riding bikes by the house or jogging nearby when she's on a walk. Punkin can't be having with craziness like that. She likes people who approach her quietly and slowly, but doesn't like being grabbed. But really, who does?

20 July, 2012

Vacation...all I ever wanted

Just a few words about our Costa Rican vacation.

Costa Rica is beautiful and has the most! beautiful birds and a ton of wildlife. There are only about 5 million Costa Ricans (or Ticos, as they call themselves) and they are outnumbered by the birds, lizards, small mammals, and other animals. At the time of year we were there, it was also hot and sauna-humid every day (and night).

Bad things about the trip: Linda was sick most of the first week. She got a virus the week before and was still feverish and ill. Even when she was able to leave her room she didn't have much get up and go. It was sad...of all of us, she'd been most excited about the trip.

Neither of my nieces can sit still long enough at the breakfast/lunch/dinner table long enough for us to have what I call "civilized" conversation. By the final night of our vacation I was ready to drag them through a keyhole backwards for the way they whined during every meal. It really wasn't relaxing to eat meals with them, even though I cut tons of slack for the fact that they are only kids.

The good stuff:
Wow, the country is lush, tropical, and everywhere you look there is natural beauty.

Highlights were: a boat trip where we saw monkeys, crocodiles, and more birds than you can imagine; a snorkeling adventure where we saw more fish than we ever saw in Bermuda;  delicous DELICIOUS meals; waking to a view of the Arenal volcano the first four mornings of the trip; relaxing by the shade by the pool almost every morning; the lush tropical foliage and flora everywhere you looked.

Here are some of the pictures taken by various members of our party

Our view of the volcano at Arenal. We stayed at a resort where this view was the first thing we saw each morning. There were natural hot springs AT the hotel. We went zip lining and on a hike of the rainforest close by. One of nature's beautiful places.

There were iguanas (and his smaller lizard cousins) everywhere. This big guy lived near the pool at the beach resort we stayed at second. We would all be set up on our lounge chairs and he would be lounging nearby. I wasn't scared of him exactly, but I kept an eye on him!

A coati at the beach resort. They are about the size of a racoon and have much the same curious "into everything" attitude as a racoon. This bold fellow would get in people's bags looking for food if you didn't shout and wave your towels to warn him off. Check out the long nose!

The part of the coati you can't really see above. His tail is long and flexible!

Our first full day in CR we went on a 1.9 mi walk through the rainforest. We saw one monkey, one insanely large bird, about a million leaf-cutter ants, and much jungle vegetation. This is about the hottest I've ever been in my life. The humidity wrapped around you like a wet, wool blanket. This shirt was sweat sodden in the first five minutes of the walk, and stayed that way for the next two hours. On this walk we were either going UP a hill or DOWN one. The only level spots were the bridges!
A magpie-jay. Blue and bold and check out that hilarious feather that sticks up jauntily off the top of their heads. We took this picture on our house's balcony. It came in to eat some bread we laid out!
Our next to the last day there we went on a river ride. To get there we drove about an hour to get near a National Park. Then we cut off the main roads onto the bumpiest dirt road any of us had ever been on. It took us an hour to drive 20 kilometers to the park. Then we got onto a boat and took a two hour trip down the river to "Bird Island". We were fortunate to be there at a time when many birds were beginning to nest. We saw many birds building their nests, or actually sitting on them. So many new birds to put on my life list, the coolest of which was the Boat Billed Heron, which had a wide, almost cartoon-like bill. We saw several colonies of howler monkeys. They live the good life, doing little other than lying on tree branches, napping, grooming, and eating. The "howls" are more like a roaring sound than actual howling. Both troupes we saw had little baby monkeys (cute!) with them. We also saw crocodiles, which are not cute! at all.
Then it was back into the car for another hour back over the 20 kilometers, which were just as bumpy going as they had been coming!

Herons on Bird Island. They nest there.

The black blobs are howler monkeys.

Eating lunch at La Cima. The Garland family rode there on horseback. The other four of us arrived in our car! The closest we got to the "real" Costa Rica. A little family owned restaurant that served Costa Rican fried chicken and fried plantain and the coldest of cold beer - Imperial.

The lady at the table lead the horseback tour, and the man next to her (in the cap) was her husband. She's from Michigan and he is Costa Rican. They run a guest house and horse farm. We were grateful to her for telling us a LOT about life in CR.

Imperial beer, brewed right there in Costa Rica, went down well on a hot day!

The girls getting back on their steeds for part two of the trip.

Us all on the boat that took us to Bird Island.

We didn't get a picture of this bird on our own, so I found one on the internet. We DID see one of these on her nest, but could not get a good shot for a picture. Get a load of that bill!

"I am a boat-billed heron and I disapprove of this message!"

Costa Rica was beautiful, all the people we met were nice, and I would definitely go back.