31 December, 2013

Hello, I must be going

Goodbye twenty-thirteen. In some ways it seems like you just got here and you are already leaving.
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times… that smart Charlie Dickens knew what he was talking about. It is always the best and worst of times. Every year has some laughter and tears and a share of joy and sorrow. Moments of transcendent enjoyment are usually followed by times that make you shake your head and wonder what the hell just happened, as you pick yourself up out of the mire and try to keep going.
We lost family this year, Joanne Waight (Mom’s sister) and her husband Arthur, died in February and April. It was a horrible one-two punch to my cousins, losing both their parents so close together. I grieve for them, but celebrate the fact that my aunt and uncle had long, interesting, vital lives. God bless them and keep them.
Our little family lost two furry members this year. Ginger died suddenly in January and Morgan died of an unsuspected cancer after only four months with us. They join the long list of Cockers and almost-Cockers we hope to meet again on the other side.
A new  dog, a five year old Cocker Spaniel named Sparky joined our pack. He's a character...
In early February last year Thomas and I helped Mom and Dad move into their new Patrick Square home. It was fun being there at the beginning, being a part of their new adventure. It was also tiring as all getout. I mean to tell you, we unpacked and put away and emptied and drove back and forth to the storage unit, and lifted, hauled, and moved until we were flat-out exhausted. We were back in the summer when the entire family enjoyed a vacation with Gran and Granddad.
Late this year came the news that Toni, my quilting-reading buddy, my neighbor and friend, got the news that the tumors in her brain were growing. She decided on hospice care, with no more debilitating treatments. That has been difficult for everyone, but definitely the right thing for her. She has had, and continues to have, time to spend with her children and family and friends. She’s gotten to do things that she wanted to do, while letting go of a lot of things that are just static when it comes right down to it. I don't even know what to say about my own reactions, other than the fact that I wish it was not so, and that my heart is sore.

Other (less important) things that (nonetheless) happened in 2013:
I had foot surgery in August. Here is the scar I wound up with, which isn't too bad:

We put a herb spiral and a fountain in next to the patio. It was a delightful place to sit this summer. When my cousin was here (I got TWO visits from him this year) we spent a lot of time sitting out there, talking about life, the universe, and whether Princess Anne The Princess Royal likes fruit salad.

I made this quilt over the course of a weekend at West River on my quilt guild's spring retreat. The fabrics are from Aneela Hoey's Sherbet Pips line, and I love, love, love them. The blue fabric features a little dog chasing a cherry colored ball. My sister is now the proud (I hope) owner of the quilt.

I also refinished a chair, made a pillowcase, went to MAQ, gave a talk, volunteered with the Cocker Spaniel Adoption Center, read a couple hundred books, went to work most days (and did not smack a single person while I was there - go me!), walked my dogs, and in general filled the days with enough to keep them interesting, but not so much that I was overwhelmed.

So exits 2013 (not followed by a bear). 2014 is a mystery...

19 December, 2013

Peter Jackson thinks he could have written The Hobbit better than that old Tolkien guy

Toni, Teri, and I went to see the hilariously named Hobbit movie, The Desolation of Smaug. To call that name inappropriate is understating the situation. Smaug is on screen less than 45 minutes of a 2 hour, 45 minute movie and there is Not So Much desolation. Admittedly, there is a sad moment when our Dwarves (Thorin and Co.) find the charred and mummified bodies of their dead kinsmen in a caved in tunnel in the Lonely Mountain. It was one of the only touching moments in an otherwise slapstick movie.

Because I am only human, may I just say in regards to Lee Case as the Elven King of Mirkwood, that he is smokin’ hot. Chilly, selfish, manipulative, and arrogant, yes. But smokin’! I think my underpants caught on fire when he was on screen.

But back to the actual plot of the movie, it was a nice little story that sort of reminds me of the book. Loosely based on the book? There are new characters. Some plot lines that came directly from the febrile mind of Peter Jackson…like the elf warrior Tauriel who falls in something-like-love with Kili in the 15 minutes they know each other, while Legolas stands around looking pouty, because he has a 600 year old crush on her. To which I say, “Suck it Legolas, you had your chance. If after 600 years, you didn’t make your move, you gotta expect the short man to crash in and sweep her off her feet  
save her from the spider 
get saved by her and then flirt over a rock. It was bound to happen, because Kili was the definitely the most handsome of the dwarfs. Or at least the one whose hair wouldn’t make a girl break down in giggles.

This movie has 2045 times the amount of Orcs and Wargs than the book had. You can’t shoot an arrow without hitting an Orc in the eye. It’s like this eldritch power they have…an arrow flies and bing! an Orc is standing with his eye right in front of it.
Bard the Bowman was actually a very good character, based on a character who was actually (!) IN the book. I was excited about that, although I wish he hadn’t spent all his screen time looking so worried. But then again, Bard has Stephen Fry and some nameless character in a ridiculous hat dogging him all the time, while his kids stood around shouting, “Da! Da! There are spies watching the house and Orcs dropping out of the ceiling, and we haven’t even SHOT our bows yet! Da!” That is all very worrying.
Desolation - Bard the Bowman
The Master of Lake Town and his nameless stooge.
Mad props to the CGI people who created Smaug. He looks gooood. Not as good as Lee Case (must make that clear, Lee Case is the prettiest thing in this movie), but super serpentine and lizardly. He moves like I believe dragons would move, if they just happened to be living in my local deserted treasure hoard.
Considering that the movie is called The Hobbit, and in the book it is all told through the eyes of Bilbo Baggins, our movie Bilbo didn’t have a lot to do. He ringed up (yes, THAT ring) and became invisible a few times, killed some spiders, hissed, “Mine!” in a very Gollum-like manner, talked to Smaug, and had the last line in the film, “What have we done?” Good question Mr. Baggins, good question.
The one thing about the movie that made me really mad, much madder than making up characters who were not in the book, was that they completely got Beorn wrong. Read the damn book Mr. Jackson. Beorn was dangerous, but he was not mean. I missed the scene where Bilbo and Gandalf get Beorn to offer hospitality to them, and then the Dwarves just keep popping up two or three at a time, like rabbits out of a hat, and Beorn accepts them too. He could have spent ten minutes on that by cutting one scene with the fake white Orc!
Despite the fact that I am kvetching, I will definitely go see part three of the film. Got to see how if Kili and Tauriel wind up putting in any sheet time (wink, wink, nudge, nudge), and how the kids and their Da, Bard, survive when a very angry Smaug pays a visit.
Oh, and one more thing, SUCK IT Peter Jackson. I grew up pronouncing the name of the dragon as Smog...and that is how I will always pronounce it. And Pluto is SO a planet!!!

05 December, 2013

In which The Author is not Happy at all

There are things going on. A lot of it is just background noise, but some of it is big, important stuff.

My friend Toni's cancer is spreading and growing. Fucking cancer - just one more piece of evidence, as if I needed it, that life is not fair.

I met Toni the year I joined BHQG, which was about 10 years ago. She was pregnant with the baby that was Ned, her youngest. She was tall and beautiful and had the most gorgeous long, blonde hair. She was like a Breck girl: wholesome and outdoorsy. She is still tall, blonde, and beautiful, but the hair is shorter and you can see some of what she's been through in the last seven years. She's one of the funniest, nicest, most down-to-earth people I know.

We like the same kind of books (except for those ones about Phury and Rhage - Toni, those are just ridonkulous!) and movies and tv. She has a great sense of humor and keen sense of the ridiculous. She likes Diet Coke, McDonald's french fries, the Game of Thrones books, pedicures, Labrador Retrievers, and sparkly things. She adores her kids, who admittedly are all characters in their own rights, and has dozens of hilarious stories about them. Toni is my age and has a lot to do with her life. Instead of making those plans, she's thinking about hospice, and doing and saying the things that need to be done and said.

And I hate it. It's not right or fair, or good. What it is, is how things are. And in this case, it sucks.

15 November, 2013

Two good dogs

I had forgotten we had a few videos of the dogs. This is Roxie and Dru...it's even back when Dru could see.
It made me so happy to see it. It also made me so sad, and I miss them so much.
We had some photos taken of us and the dogs recently and got the proofs back this week. They turned out well. When I get a picture, I will post one.

Another thing that happened this week that made me happy and sad was re-reading all four of Rosemary Kirstein's books in the Steerswoman Series. The books are SO GOOD and I enjoy them so much, but it's making me nuts that its been such a long wait. The Language of Power, the fourth book in the series came out in 2004. By my count, that's almost 10 year ago. Oh Rosemary...less blogging and more writing!

11 November, 2013

Sharon Shinn's Royal Airs, a book report

If you like young adult novels, maybe you would like one of my favorite YA authors - Sharon Shinn.  She actually writes both YA and non-YA. I just finished her latest, Royal Airs. It is the second in a series about a place called Welce, where everyone's personalities and traits are determined by the five elements: air, water, fire, stone, and wood. (Those are actually the five elements of traditional Chinese medicine, horoscopes, etc.)

The first book, Troubled Waters, was very good. I'd give it a 8 out of 10. Royal Airs brings back some of the characters from the book and introduces some new ones. I'd give it a 6 or 7 out of 10. The slightly lower rating is because the last half of the book was just one long middle, a set up for the next book in the series. Spoilers ahead, so beware.

Zoe Ardelay, the coru (water) Prime shows up again, but in this book her sisters Corene and Josetta take more center stage. Josetta, an elay (air/spirit) woman, is finally freed from the castle and most of her political burdens. She lives in the poor section of the capital city, trying to help the needy and is happier than she ever was when she was in line for the crown. But even if you are a sort-of-almost-ex Princess, you have responsibilities.

I like Josetta. I like Corene. I like Rafe Adova, the mysterious gambler who rescues Corene from a dangerous situation. The two characters I don't like are Alys, Corene's horrible mother, and Darien Serlast, Corene's hunti father, who is Regent of Welce and a humorless, poker up the ass jerk. I know we are supposed to believe that he does all the things he does because he cares about everyone so deeply and he believes he is helping them; but he's a bully and manipulative bastard.

If you want to read something really charming by Shinn, check out the Safe-Keepers series:
The Safe-Keeper's Secret, The Truth-Teller's Tale, and The Dream-Maker's Magic. Also, General Winston's Daughter, a stand alone tale.

Do yourself a favor and skip Jenna Starborn, a not-great retelling of Jane Eyre.

25 October, 2013

Cropped hair and caterpillars

The past month I have been a shaggy mess in the hair department. I missed my last scheduled haircut back when I was laid up after surgery. When I called, my hairdresser couldn't see me for two weeks. By the time I got there yesterday things were dire.

Remember Cousin It? It felt a lot like that.

Here is me after:

Taking a self portrait is harder than it looks.

I feel SO MUCH BETTER. A haircut is better than therapy, and you don't have to talk about your miserable childhood.

Here is a picture I took in my gardens about a month ago. It is a Parsley Worm, aka the caterpillar form of the black swallowtail butterfly. It is beautiful even in caterpillar form:

They lie along the stems of parsley and similar plants. This one and many of his brethren were all over my fennel, munching away.

21 October, 2013

The Emperor has no clothes, but he feels better

Thursday I went back and got Nero and took him to the kennel where he will live until we find him a new home (or a foster home). He looks better and I think he feels better too. Sadly, I did not remember to take my camera, so no pictures.

He had two teeth removed, and the ones he has left are no longer caked in tartar. His nails are short and his ears have been flushed and medicated and those growths are gone from his face. He's still very doddery and  I think he is partially blind/deaf. He reminds me of Marley, our permanent foster dog who was the Oldest Dog in the World.

I have a soft spot for these old, needy dogs. There was a point where we had only older dogs with issues, and I love helping the oldsters. But I think that Thomas would put my things out in the yard if I came home with an elderly, somewhat feeble dog and said, "Surprise! Meet your new furry family member!"

14 October, 2013

A tiny, broken Emperor

Today was a government holiday. I am not sure that really means anything considering the amazing batshit mess that our elected representatives have made of things, but ANYWAY! Today was a government holiday, so I only worked a half day. There was not enough make work to fill a full day.

What I did with the rest of my day was to pick up the saddest little cocker spaniel and take it to the vet.

He was a stray in Catonsville who was found by a compassionate woman. She took him to her vet for a rabies shot, cleaned him up a little, treated his dry eye, but could not keep him as she is laid off from her job and already has two dogs of her own.

I think I know why Nero (I named him) was an abandoned stray. His teeth are about rotted out of his head and he stinks of decay. He has dry eye, and has this thing, this growth on his muzzle near his right eye. Whatever it is, it is very unpleasant looking, wet and sticky and wrinkled and crusting over.

Right now he is at the vet where they are making a decision about what can be done with the growth and his teeth. Tomorrow Nero may be a toothless emperor.

After I left him I sat in the car for a few minutes and wrestled with a terrible rage. Nero didn't get in this state overnight. He had a red collar on, but no tags, so he "belonged" to someone. Someone who didn't care for him. Someone who let him live with crusty, dry eyes (painful), infected ears (painful), untrimmed nails (painful) and rotten teeth (painful), when most of those things could have been treated easily and not too expensively. What is wrong with people? Who lets an animal live in pain if there is something they can do to help it?

I have to keep reminding myself that yes, the world is a terribly broken place, full of people doing awful things to each other. There is so much pain, casual cruelty, and I can fall into such feelings of despair about it. But that doesn't do anything to make the world better. Doing anything, even the little things I am capable of doing, does help push back the dark. Enough good people doing little acts of kindness helps a lot.

But I am still just so angry about casual cruelty to animals. It is like people hurting children...hurting anything that is small, weak, and powerless just makes me sick.

09 October, 2013

I got your LED light right here

Last night Cheryl Sleboda lectured at my guild. Her talk on eTextiles was fascinating. I had no idea so much was going on out there in fashion and costuming that used electronics in clothes. Rihanna, Katy Perry, and the Black Eyed Peas all wear eTextiles and there were pictures of wedding dresses that light up! The quilts Cheryl showed were fun. I had seen many of them on her blog, muppin.com , but in the flesh (well, in the fabric) they were even more interesting and playful.

Tonight she taught a group of us how to add LED lights to a quilt. Something that had always seemed scary was broken down into a few easy steps, and 10 of us lit up an Artist Trading Card sized quilt. Mine is the single on the bottom with the three little flowers. I think Amy Selmanoff's dragonfly might be my favorite from the whole class but Alice Magorian's lighthouse is a close second. So close it might be a tie.

If you belong to a quilt guild, get them to have Cheryl lecture and teach. Everyone will love it!

07 October, 2013

The penguins are what?

I read a book for Banned Books Week. It was the shortest book I've ever read in celebration of it: And Tango Makes Three. It was a very sweet story about two male chinstrap penguins who build a nest together and when given an egg, hatch it. I find it hard to see what the problem is.

If you really want to worry about homosexuality in the animal kingdom check out what giraffes are up to. Clue: male giraffes get it on with each other on a regular basis. Or sheep! About 10% of male domestic sheep will not mate with females, only with other males. Bonobo apes are considered a fully bisexual species

I have been checking out lots of books lately and they fall into two groups: good, challenging novels and complete and utter trash (especially bad mysteries and Regency romances). I have been reading two works of no redeeming social value for each good book.

Maybe it's because I'm now back on my feet and back to work and I'm tired and hurting. My foot and ankle hurt a lot as the muscles are forced back into action. I was on crutches last week, just to get me over the first, worst pain. Now the pain is steady, but bearable, and improving.

This past weekend Thomas and I went to the Humane Society's DogFest for an hour. That was all the walking/standing I could do, but it was so nice to be there. We took Sparky, who enjoyed it a lot. Not a bit of aggression or trouble from him. He sniffed, and wiggled, and peed on lots of things, but was happy to be there.

30 September, 2013

Oh chocolate cake, how do I love thee?

Last week was the final week of my post-surgery time off. It was a good week.

My friend Toni baked me this cake, and we sat in her back yard on a beautiful day, chatting and being lazy. First we went out and had Chinese food for lunch.

The icing had sprinkles on it and was very fahn-cy. I brought some cake home and had to got to share it with Thomas. My selfish inner self might have been screaming, "MY CAKE dammit. Get ya own dam' cake," but I told selfish me to shut up and very generously offered him a piece. And wouldn't you know, he TOOK IT. Hmf.

I got to meet Rain, Toni's new dog, who is elderly and frail. She is very gentle, but when a stranger dog came for a visit, she gave him the business. She stood somewhat far away and barked at him. Much like a tottery 99 year old lady might not be able to chase the kids on her grass, but could still shake her cane and scream, "Get off my lawn you dam' kids!"

Friday I went to see the surgeon about my foot. He said, "take up thy bed and walk," or something like that. He actually said go home, wear your air cast for three more weeks, and don't do anything crazy. And put cocoa butter/vitamin e on your foot twice a day.

In my mind, I was just going to roll into the office on my rollie, and walk out on my own two feet. What really happened was that I tried very hard to take a step, and the pain was immense. Very large, very hurty pain. So I rolled out. Thomas took me to lunch, and I found that with the aid of my crutches, I could walk. Slowly and with some pain, but I could do it. So Friday afternoon I watched  the rolllie ride off into the sunset and I've (slowly and with some pain) gotten around on my two feet ever since. Yay.

Today I went back to work. It was okay. Our customer (I am sort of the customer liaison) was thrilled to have me back. Apparently she spent much of my time off asking when I was getting back. My boss said, "Boy we are glad you are back, (our customer) really missed you!" Which was nice...I think. Not that HE missed me so much, but someone else did. I'll take what I can get.

My friend George brought me a pumpkin on Saturday. I will post a picture of it later. I bought two more and they are currently making the front steps of the house look orange and harvesty. I may even cut a face in one of them. My real plan for them is to cut them up, steam them, and add them to the dog's food. Pumpkin is very good for dogs, it's fiberlicious. Do you think that feeding pumpkin to Punkin is morally wrong?

24 September, 2013

Autumn zigzags

I started making this last year at our spring quilt retreat and Christine's mini-group's spring reatreat. This is the center of the quilt. My plan is to add one slim black border going all the way around surrounded by a wider border of one of the brownish/orange prints.

I was going to gift it to my parents, but that isn't going to happen now as the Mother said she wants something to go with a certain piece of furniture in her room. So, I have new fabric and a new plan. As soon as my foot is back in working order, I'm going to finish this one and get stuck into the new one for Mom.

Today I was browsing around on Goodreads and found a book review that tickled me. It was someone having a good old time ranting about a book she found just terrible, and it was hilarious. It reminds me of one of my favorite collections of negative movie reviews: Roger Ebert's I Hated, Hated, Hated This Movie. I kid you not, it's comic gold! And that is my recommendation for today.

23 September, 2013

There is more than one way to burn a book. And the world is full of people running about with lit matches. - Ray Bradbury

Hey everyone, it's Banned Books Week. Celebrate your freedom to read. Read good books. Bad books. Books of embarrassing erotica. Books that make you laugh (which might be the same as embarrassing erotica...I'm just saying). Books that enrage you or frighten you or delight you, or make you want to leave your job and travel around the world.

Read a book to a kid. Read to your loved ones. Read out loud to yourself! Listen to a book on CD. Donate a book to a local literacy project.

Read, and think and dream, and support your local libraries and book stores. If you object to an author or a book, fine, don't read them or let your kids read them. But don't try to stop other people from reading them.

Please watch this short video from John Green, one of my favorite authors. It is genius. John Green (author of Waiting for Alaska, Paper Towns, An Abundance of Katherines, and The Fault In Our Stars) reminds us that people who are not children can read critically. I have a hard time writing about book censorship without turning into a giant squid of anger, and think that John covers it much better.

But if you are interested, here is a picture of John Green doing the "giant squid of anger" for me:

17 September, 2013

The Princess and the Cold, Shivery Day

This picture was actually taken last winter right after Princess Punkin had her disastrous December haircut.
I posted it today though, because she still has a short (short!) summer haircut, and the weather has gotten cooler, and she has started shivering at night. So we tuck her under the covers, and swaddle her with blankets or towels, and fuss over her until she stops shivering.
It's probably time to get down in the basement and hunt up that nerdtastic green sweater.
You know that story of the Princess and the Pea? Punkin would definitely toss and turn all night in misery because of that pea. And Thomas and I would remove eleventy mattresses, searching for whatever was keeping our tiny fairy-like sweet little Punkin from resting comfortably, until she approved of the sleeping arrangements.
Doesn't she remind you of Snoopy, hunched over on his dog-house like a vulture?

16 September, 2013

Not all guests stink after three days!

It has been so great having my cousin here the last nine days. It took some of the pressure off Thomas, so he didn't have to do all the heavy-duty care of making sure I am fed, watered, and entertained. Matt and I can just sit around and entertain each other with silly stories and talking about family things and adventures we had together as kids.

Matt introduced me to the comedy stylings of Tyler Perry as Madea, and we giggled our way through a couple of the Madea movies.

We went to the bookstore and library, and a couple of movies. When I was tired out (and these days it doesn't take much to make me tired) we sat on the patio, took naps, and talked our heads off.

I think cousins are just about the best relatives! Brothers and sisters are good, but in my experience, there is often a lot of baggage left over from childhood. Matt is like a brother sans drama of having the same parents!

The only thing bad about his visit is that I wish he could have stayed longer.

09 September, 2013

Monday Monday Monday

Saw the movie, Lee Daniel's The Butler today with Matt and Toni. Enjoyed it a lot. It used the story of a man in service at the White House to tell the story of the Civil Rights struggle.  Impressive cast.

We also had lunch after the movie. Then Matt and I came back here to sit in the backyard, philosophizing over a couple of beers, and then napping. We had dinner and are now puttering. I have put the finishing touches on the short presentation I am giving tomorrow at BHQG (quilt guild) meeting. It is about The Internet for Quilters.

I am maybe a little nervous, it always feels scary to get up there in front of people and hope they get your jokes and enjoy what you have to say. But I am sure it will be fine.

Yesterday Thomas and Matt and I went to Jim and Andy's for a movie and dinner. Have you ever seen Horrible Bosses? It's a black comedy, and so funny. Also filthy, but yes, hilarious.

Matt has been sharing some of his favorite videos from the youtube with me. I now know about GloZell and other funny youtube stars. I enjoyed this woman named krissychula:

Dear Miley indeed.

06 September, 2013

The foot of Frankenzilla

Things went well at the doctor's today. He removed the stitches - which smarted a little - and rewrapped everything. He sent me home for three more weeks of enforced inactivity.

Here are pictures of the damage. Thomas said the foot looks like The Bride of Frankenzilla.

Wrinkled from the bandages and still stained with Betadine, but not too bad.

Things on the bottom are a little more interesting.

05 September, 2013


Yesterday and today I've been at home all day with my foot up. I see the doctor tomorrow and am hoping to present a foot free from swelling and looking good. Jim did come over yesterday and bring me lunch. It was great to see him and get some news from the outside world. We started talking about our next baking extravaganza (our personal holy baking holiday - Halloween!) and what we should do.

Since seeing the doctor last Saturday my foot and leg have been so uncomfortable. They wrapped it fairly tight and all the way up to the knee. It's hot, itchy, and for some reason my big toe feels like someone is pressing down on the nail. Not painful exactly, but annoying. Also, my stitches feel itchy sometimes. It's been three weeks since the surgery and I am just OVER all this.

If you read any young adult novels, I can recommend Sisters Red and Sweetly by Jackson Pearce. They are reboots of old fairy tales.

Whenever Thomas gets home today he's taking me to the library. It's ridiculous how excited I am about this outing.

03 September, 2013

Random Tuesday

Toni and I went to the movies last Thursday. We saw City of Bones. It was very....extra....meh. The lead actors were all attractive in a fresh-faced, just-out-of-the-box-and-never-used fashion. But the dialogue was bad. Cringingly bad. Embarrassingly bad. So bad that there were large parts of the movie where there was no dialogue, just scenes where the camera slid over the faces of the lovely youths as if to say, "Hello viewer, aren't they all so pretty?"

And there were plot holes you could drive a truck through, and places where you could see what was coming five miles away.  For instance, there is a betrayal (isn't there always?) and you can see that coming practically from the first moment you meet the betrayer. And someone's mother calls her and says, "Don't come home, danger, monsters, go ask so and so for help." So what does the Too Stupid To Live character do? She goes HOME of course! To meet the monsters! TSTL!

Toni assures me me the books are very readable, so I've put in a request for them. But so has everybody else in Baltimore, so I'm waiting patiently. I actually got book four right away, but can't see diving into the series 2/3 of the way in.

Tonight I am going out to quilting Board meeting. Thomas has to take me as I could not scare up a ride. We are combining the trip with a visit to Five Guys, so it will be like a mini-date.

The other day at the doctor I got my first peek at my sutures. My right foot, it is totally Bride of Frankenstein! The bottom anyway. The next time it is unwrapped I will post pictures!

30 August, 2013

A moment of brilliant clumsiness

This afternoon I was in the bathroom, and as I was finishing up in there, I slipped off my rolly cart and crashed to the floor.

I hit my bandaged foot hard on the floor, smashing hard on my big toe and the second toe (the toe that needed the surgery). It was excruciating. As I fell, my right knee scraped over the rear wheel of the rolly and the brake left a 6 or 8 inch scrape along the curve of the joint. About three inches of that was deep enough to really dig in and leave a bleeding gouge.

The physical pain was bad, but even worse was my stomach-clenching panic that I had undone the stitching on the tendon.

I called the doctor. He can't see me, but tomorrow (Saturday) one of his colleagues will. I am currently doped up the the gills. I've had my foot elevated all afternoon/evening, have been icing like a maniac, and hoping like crazy that no damage was done to the surgery site.

27 August, 2013

Can't you write any faster than that?

I don't like to make generalizations, but... oh, who am I kidding, I make generalizations all the time. Most of us do. It's one of the ways that we little individual people manage and make sense of the vastness of the world. We have to make some big generalizations just to organize things enough to think about them. So I'm about to make one.

Readers (people who love to read the same way they love oxygen) are some of the most selfish people in the world.

What do I base that on? My feelings that my favorite writers are taking too much time for silly, unimportant things, like
  • family
  • vacations
  • being sick
  • jobs that aren't writing
  • anthing that isn't sitting their ass down at a computer/typewriter/yellow legal pad and knocking out another book for me to enjoy
I've talked to reader friends who bemoan the amount of time that that dude is taking to crank out the tomes that make up the Game of Thrones. What is his name? George R.R. Martin, that's the one! Apparently he thinks one enormous book ever five-seven years is fine. His fans would prefer one book every year or two, I am sure.

Two of my favorite authors, Laurie J. Marks and Laurie Kirstein, have not had anything new out in years. Selfish writerly cows! They feel like they are entitled to their LIVES, when I am sitting here, waiting with bated breath for the next gems to fall from their pens.

I know there are always other people writing, but I really love my old favorites and want to find out what is going to happen to THEIR characters.

While recuperating, I've been reading S.M. Stirling's Emberverse novels. The series started out extremely strong with Dies The Fire. I've enjoyed all the others too, but the fantasy aspect of the final three has been  starting to grate. When your main hero has a magic sword that lets him speak all languages, pull all sorts of magic facts out of the air, etc. it gets annoying. I'm still going to keep reading because I love the characters and the worldbuilding is excellent and I really want to know what is going to happen to everyone, but urgh, that stupid sword...

A little randomosity

Pictures taken by Thomas. The first features a beautiful artichoke flower FROM OUR GARDEN. Also tomatoes from same garden. Yay us.

Second picture is beautiful Sparky with his short haircut. So cute!

25 August, 2013

Diary of a part-time invalid

Today Thomas and I did not go to church, but our friends came over afterwards and brought food. We had burgers/hot dogs, salads, chips, and TWO delicious cakes.

For three hours we sat on the patio, eating and talking and having a good time. It was delightful. The minute the last person left I came inside and collapsed. My foot was swelling and I was TIRED. Two hours of sleeping and lying down with my foot up has improved all that.

My next big outing will be tomorrrow evening, when Thomas takes me to the library. I know, I KNOW...but for me that is an exciting trip!

24 August, 2013

One foot, and I don't mean 12 inches

I had some (relatively minor) foot surgery done on August 16th. Seems that I tore a tendon in my right foot a few weeks ago. The surgeon fixed that.

I expect three - six weeks of one footed recovery. I'm one week in. It has not been so bad, except for the first 2-3 days. Then my foot hurt, I was groggy from the pain meds, and getting used to getting around with one working foot.

I have this thing called a Roll-A-Bout. Here is a picture of one.

This is exactly what mine looks like. I've been calling it "Silver," as in "Hi ho, Silver, away!"

I've been out of the house three times in the past week. On Tuesday I went to the doctor for my first post-op appointment. Thursday Mom and I went out and had Chinese food for lunch. Today Thomas and I sat in the back yard for a little while. It's great to get outside, even if it's a little scary getting down the stairs.

I've spent a lot of time reading. I just read my way through the first nine books of S.M. Stirling's Emberverse series. I am excited that book 10 is coming out sometime this fall.

My next plan is to read something a little lighter and fluffier. Maybe...Regency romances?

06 August, 2013

Snippet - Her Last Breath

I just read a great book. It was called Her Last Breath. It's a police procedural, sort of. It's set in rural Ohio, in Amish country. The detective is Kate Burkhalter, and she grew up Amish, but left the church sometime in her teenage years.

I enjoyed the book a lot, but as I worked my way through the book it became obvious that there were several books that had come before. I've requested the first FOUR books from the library so I can get caught up on whatever it was that happened before to Kate.

I am not terribly romantic about the Amish. A lot of them are in the puppy milling business, and I hate that. I also think that in their decision to keep themselves so separate from us Englisch that they have created a lot of health problems in their communities. I'm also not sure, based on a lot you hear about the community in general, that they are any better Christians than the rest of us.

But they are interesting, and this book is too!

04 August, 2013


Back in the days when we all went to Wilson United Methodist Church, we had a weekly dinner together on Wednesday night. Whoever hosted provided a main dish and drinks and everyone else brought side dishes or dessert. (It's part of our Methodist heritage. Methodists worship God with song, prayer, and potluck suppers, we totally think the Last Supper was probably devilled eggs, casseroles, and jello-salads.)

One day a new girl started coming to church and to our Wednesday nights. After a short while she became one of my dearest friends. Her name is Katy. She's an artist and a poet and is super well-organized, which I totally admire.

After she finished grad school she moved to North Carolina. When I was engaged to Thomas, she started brushing up on her German so she could help me with Thomas' German-only family members. Her tutor was Peter, a German pastor studying in Chapel Hill. She and Peter got married about 7 weeks after Thomas and I. They moved to Deutschland shortly after their wedding. For 7 years they were there and we were here, although we saw each other every time I visited Germany to see Thomas' family.

They've now been living just up the road, in Gettysburg, for years now, and I'm so glad to have her on THIS side of the Atlantic. It's close enough that we can celebrate birthdays and special times together and have regular dinners together.

Here is a picture of us at Jim and Andy's wedding, celebrating!

Zwei Frauen!

02 August, 2013

Won't you marry me....

I went to a special wedding last weekend. My friends Andy and Jim, after being together for 16 17 years, finally got married. The reason it took them so long to getting around to tying the knot is that they are gay men, and up until this year, they could not get married.
Thanks to the voters in Maryland, homosexuals can marry and get the same civil benefits that heterosexual couples get from marriage as regards to sharing insurance, finances, being each other’s next-of-kin, etc.
The ceremony.
It was, of course, fantastic. They had it at their home; the ceremony was in the back garden, which was in bloom. There were butterflies flocking around the flowers and it was a beautiful setting for a wedding.
Thomas and I did our best to help out wherever possible. On Friday we went over to help with the set up. While I ironed five large tablecloths, Thomas helped move furniture and organize things in the coolers, bars, etc. Then we all (Jim, Andy, Jim’s sister, Andy’s niece, and us) had some pizza and then went back to working on the refreshments. I finished up the night by putting together the wedding program in MS Word.
We made Italian appetizers. That is a bamboo skewer with the following threaded on it: cherry or grape tomato, slice of Italian cheese, basil leaf, slice of folded pepperoni, and a black olive. Rachel and Karen made dozens and dozens of cucumber sandwiches.
Jim’s theme for the food was for everything to be small/miniature/easy to eat. If you know him, you know that anything that gives him a reason to use tiny plates or mini serving vessels makes him happy. So the menu included:
  • Shrimp cocktails that consisted of 2 shrimp on a skewer, in a tiny cup with a bit of cocktail sauce
  • Miniature mushroom pies in a tiny pastry cup
  • Our Italian skewer appetizers
  • Cucumber sandwiches
  • Thai chicken salad in phyllo cups
  • Prosciutto wrapped melon on skewers
  • The cutest crab balls served on wee little plates with wee little forks
  • Spicy ground beef broiled on toast squares
  • Shot glasses of cold watermelon soup. This was truly delicious, not too sweet, sort of minty and refreshing. I drank several shots!
  • Cheese and crackers
  • Toast rounds with thinly sliced roast beef topped with onion jam
The drinks also flowed freely. We had a champagne toast, lemonade, sangria, vodka tonics, red and white wine, Dark and Stormy cocktails, and beer. Thomas was one of the bartenders and he did a great job of keeping everyone’s glass filled.
The champagne toast.
One of their neighbors was in charge of taking care of the food in the kitchen. She warmed things, or kept them cool, and plated everything and two hired servers circulated and made sure no one was ever lacking something tasty to eat. Jim and Andy were smart to get help, because that way they could relax and enjoy their own special day.
There were about 50 people there. The wedding was a simple service. The readings were from the Song of Solomon and from a poem by Walt Whitman. All of Jim’s family was there, and two of Andy’s siblings were there. Although the United Methodist church is not (yet?) marrying gay couples, the service was a basic Methodist service and more than half of the guests were from our church.
Grace friends - Sue and Linda, David and his husband Jerry, George, me!

The champagne toast for the happy couple.

The wedding cake was from Patisserie Poupon. Delicious!
I was happy to be there and to be with so many friends and family with Jim and Andy. In the past years they have supported each other through a lot – the death of three parents (including Jim’s Dad’s slow decline from Alzheimer’s), the ups and downs of employment, health scares, and surgeries. Getting married just put an official stamp on their commitment.
Listen! I will be honest with you;
I do not offer the old smooth prizes, but offer rough new prizes;
These are the days that must happen to you:

You shall not heap up what is call'd riches,
You shall scatter with lavish hand all that you earn or achieve,
You but arrive at the city to which you were destin'd--you hardly
settle yourself to satisfaction, before you are call'd by an irresistible call to depart,
You shall be treated to the ironical smiles and mockings of those who remain behind you;
What beckonings of love you receive, you shall only answer with passionate kisses of parting,
I give you my hand!
I give you my love, more precious than money,
I give you myself, before preaching or law;
Will you give me yourself? Will you come travel with me?
Shall we stick by each other as long as we live?  - from A Song of the Open Road by Walt Whitman

16 July, 2013

Handsome little fella - Sparky

Mid Appalachian Quilting adventure

From Friday-Sunday of last week I was on the campus of lovely St. Mary’s University near Emmitsburg, MD. A quick run-down of the weekend:
Thursday night I was so excited/anxious about leaving early Friday morning, that I stopped sleeping at 3:30. Thoughts of the things I had to finish packing and wondering if I’d packed all the supplies I would need meant I didn’t have enough room in my head for sleeping. At 6:00 am, the moment I needed to shower was when I started feeling like I could get another couple of hours of rest. Alas, it was not to be.  I showered, tossed a couple of days’ worth of clothes, a pillow, and a quilt into a suitcase, and headed out.
After a sleepy drive in the rain I arrived in time to drop my things off at the classroom building (in the rain), move my car to the parking lot (in the rain), and return (in the rain) to the classroom where I set up for my first class, Funky Embellishments with Teresa Fusco. Teresa is a fun teacher. Despite living in Reading, PA for decades, she still sounds like a girl from Lawn-Guy-Land, where she now lives again. Her quilts are amazing. She embellishes the heck out of things, using a variety of materials. Some are pedestrian, like seed beads from Joann’s. She also uses deconstructed jewelry, washers and rivets from the hardware store, girdle fasteners, pins, and all sorts of threads, fabric, and rick-rack. She has a beautiful sense of color and much of her work is whimsical and alive with dangly bits.
Each of us in the class made a small wall hanging, 16” x 16” with our own fabric. I used a bright floral, a purple, and a pink fabric. I added hanging triangles, sequins, bead work, 3-D pieces.
Friday night the MAQ board had a wine and chocolate reception for us. By that time I was pretty tired, so after a glass of wine I headed back across campus with Mary O., who was teaching. She wanted to turn in early and I was desperate to take my bra off and relax. I was into my second glass of wine and the first chapters of Cheryl Strayed’s Wild when my roommates got back. We sat up until 11:30 drinking, eating snacks, and telling stories. It was nice.
Did I mention that we’d had some wine? Quite a lot of wine, as it happened. Enough wine that after a trip to the bathroom in the wee sma’ hours, instead of making a right into my single room, I made a left out the door of the suite. I took or three steps into the brightly lit hall, stopping just in time to hear the small but final *snick* of the self-locking door locking itself.
Since college, have you ever found yourself locked out of your room in the middle of the night, still a bit drunk, wearing only a t-shirt and underwear? Probably not, because you are a grown-up. If you have ever found yourself in that situation, you know the state of mind I was in. It was not good. After checking to see if I had my room key hidden away somewhere in my t-shirt and underwear (no, I didn’t) or if the door would miraculously open (again, no) I did the only thing there was to do…I knocked, knocked, knocked until one of my roommates dragged herself out to let me in. Poor Clara, she was very confused about why I was there, and I was so drunk embarrassed I just said, “Thanks!” and walked into my room and collapsed onto the bed.
Saturday I took Studio. I sat near my friend Alice. Alice got a TON of work done. It was amazing; she was a quilting machine, cutting hundreds of triangles and pressing them open. I was nowhere near as accomplished (see previous story about Too Much Wine) but I did sew borders on one lap quilt, make binding for a baby sized quilt, and put some more sparkly embellishments on my quilt from Friday.
After class and dinner that day I skipped the business meeting and went back to my classroom to iron fabric. It’s amazing how tiring all that sewing and ironing is. Thirty-five or forty minutes of pressing and trimming was enough for me and I made my way back to the dorm for a large glass of…water. A group of our BHQG buddies came back to our room and had snacks and drinks. I stuck to water since at my age one night that includes most of a bottle of wine and being stranded in the hall in my underpants is my limit for the weekend.
Sunday morning we were all up bright and early to pack our things. We have to check out of the dorms before breakfast. I showered, dressed, packed and headed out with Toni to carry out things to the parking lot. As I hauled my suitcase and quilt down the stairs I managed to take a spectacular fall down the last couple of steps. At one point, all of me was airborne! The only damage done was a bruising smack on the right knee, skinning the same, and scaring the heeber-jeebers out of myself (and Toni). I spent a few minutes sitting on the floor, rubbing the knee and making sure it was road worthy before I got up and headed out to load the car and head over to breakfast and class.
Sunday I took a class with Cheryl Lynch, from Philadelphia, PA; the class was Fun with Mexican Tiles. I learned how to do machine applique, using fusible and a blanket stitch. We designed our own quilt blocks based on some of the tiles in Cheryl’s book. By lunch time I was so tired I could barely wiggle. I blame that on:
  1. Lack of sleep Thursday night
  2. Too much wine Friday night
  3. The truly ghastly mattress on the bed
  4. The let down from the adrenalin surge I got during the Stair Incident.
  5. It’s tiring to cut and press and sew all day when you aren’t used to it, and
  6. The a/c in our classroom building was not working Sunday morning, and it was HOT.
I hung around long enough to get through all the basics of my block and then I packed up and headed back east on 70. Most of the drive I had to sing along with the radio and turn the a/c down to arctic so as not to get pulled over for Driving While Asleep.
MAQ is so fun. If you are a quilter and live in Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, or Delaware, you should consider coming some year. Three days of classes, hanging out with other quilters, working with some good teachers, and the price is reasonable. If you aren’t up to staying in the dorm and eating in the cafeteria (which is part of the fun for me) there are nearby hotels and Gettysburg is only minutes away. The campus is pretty, and if you feel like it you can hike up to the Marian Grotto and see the statue of the Blessed Virgin. I never do this, because MAQ is held the first bit of July, and the temperature varies between Hot and Very Hot. This year Friday and Saturday were just Not Too Hot, but Sunday went all the way to Hot.
The best part for me is getting away with my quilty friends and getting re-energized about quilting.