Wednesday, July 28, 2010


Things That Made Me Happy This Morning

1. Hearing "Walking On Broken Glass" while I was at the grocery store. I swear, this comes on the Muzak system every single time I am at the grocery store, and I am certain it's code for "broken pickle jars in aisle 6."

2. Noticing that the loaf of Italian bread I bought is made by a company called "Schmidt." Also, it reminded me of when I first started, um, associating with my husband and the first time we needed a condom, he whipped out a pack of Schmid brand rubbers, and I was all "Schmid? Seriously? Where on earth did you get those?" and he wasn't sure, and I was all "What do you mean, you're not sure? How can you not know where you got a bunch of rubbers no one has ever heard of?" and he was guessing maybe the Peace Corps, and I kicked his ass out of bed and made him drive to the 7-Eleven and get some goddamned Trojans. Well, really. Schmid?*

3. Seeing how happy Harper was to be spending the day with her little sister at daycare. She begged to be able to go, and Devon's daycare provider, Miss Aleace, said it was okay, though she is really only set up for toddlers. I thought it was just her usual I-want-to-do-whatever-Devon-is-doing-or-play-with-whatever-Devon-has-syndrome, but then she confessed that she just wanted to play with Aleace's dog, Cookie. For 6 hours. I might have questioned this, but it meant that I could drive home while blasting the White Stripes, and then spend my morning watching Drag Me to Hell on DVD while sewing my half-square triangles, so I shut the hell up and told her to have a great day.

Things That Pissed Me Off This Morning

A woman hit the back of my car as I was stopped at a red light, and when I looked in my rear view mirror at her, she was making the "what the fuck is wrong with you" look back at me. Like I made her forget how to brake. I suppose I should learn how to control that particular superpower, but I just haven't gotten around to it yet.  I am not one of those people who feels compelled to stop traffic so I can deal with a little dent, so I motioned to her that I was going to pull over at the next street, and when I did, she just drove away. Which was probably smart, since my car was undamaged, BUT SHE SCRAPED UP MY DON'T DRINK AND QUILT BUMPER STICKER.  So if you see a woman with ratty hair driving a puke-colored Chevy Nova, with bits of my bumper sticker clinging to her front license plate, feel free to key her car or slash her tires. Tell her you're a representative of the new group I'm forming: QUAID. Quilters Against Idiot Drivers.

*Update: turns out Julius Schmid (he dropped the "t" to appear less Jewish) was a rubber baron, of sorts. He started, according to Wikipedia, one of the longest lasting condom companies and supplied rubbers to the Allied troops in Europe during the first World War. He also made condoms that could be reused, which was  handy during the hard times of the depression, as well as thoroughly disgusting.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Did the earth move for you too, baby?

Sadly, there will be no pictures in todays's post, because I was forced to steal the batteries out of one camera to make someone's light-up Pooh bear doll illuminate the scary darkness once again, and the batteries from the other camera so that we could continue to play MySims Secret Agents on the Wii without undue interruption. This was not a result of our perpetual brokeness, but rather my absurd inability to write the word "batteries" down on the grocery list. I write "Dr. Pepper" and "Nutter Butters" and "bacon" on the list every time I walk past it, so you would think I could get int the habit of writing down "batteries" at the same time, but I must have some sort of mental block against things that are merely useful and not also tasty.

And besides, the only excitement we had this week, other than my husband's 45th birthday - which only counts as exciting if you get all jazzed over telling a 3-year-old not to open Daddy's presents over and over until she cries, was the earthquake.


Now we live on the east coast, which is not the most seismically active part of the world, so even though I know all you west coasters are rolling your eyes and going, "Huh. Big whoop," it was still a big deal to me. I am a leeeetle bit of a geology/paleontology nerd, and if you came up to me and said, "Hey, wanna see some Pre-Cambrian rocks?" I'd be all "HELL YES." Last weekend I was playing with the girls and one of them got bored and wanted to see what was on TV, and when I turned it on and looked at the guide, the first thing that came up was the History Channel and they were showing something called "How The Earth Was Made." Now, I know how the earth was made. There was nothing this show could have told me that I didn't already know, but even though my kids were howling for Spongebob, I forced them to sit through HTEWM in the hopes that maybe they would be infected by my enthusiasm and we could all go back to the Natural History museum with a better appreciation of the wonders contained therein than we did the last time.

One of the best parts of the show, for me anyway, was when they had a graphic of the tectonic plates of the earth - the pieces that slide, bump, and pull apart during earthquakes. It was just utterly fascinating to see all the pieces, and where the boundaries between them fall, and to have it displayed, not on a flat Mercator-style map, but on a rotating globe, just got my geek goose bumps a-poppin'. Now these boundaries are not the only places that have earthquakes, but the plates are part of the mechanism that causes them.

ANYWAY. Earthquakes had been on my mind, and just a few days later, at about 5 a.m. an earthquake of magnitude 3.2 rumbled through our area. The epicenter was in Montgomery county, just north of Washington, D.C., and even though it was mild, earthquakes in this area tend to be felt pretty far from the source so people in Baltimore and Northern Virginia and Annapolis could feel it. Well, those that do not sleep like the dead.

YEP. I SLEPT THROUGH IT. Found out about it on Facebook the next day. Texted my husband to ask if he knew about it, and he said oh yeah, it woke him right up. Sounded like a huge truck was driving right by the house. DAMMIT. Major geologic activity and the one day I'm not up at 5 a.m. to pee is the day it happens. Broke my little geek heart, I tell you.

Naturally, I consoled myself by looking up images of the Burgess Shale on the internet, as anyone would under the circumstances.  Always soothes me when I miss out on the good stuff like meteor showers and earthquakes.

Monday, July 12, 2010

New project

I decided recently, spurred on by Linda Poole's "I'm Making a Quilt for Me" challenge, to - wait for it - make a quilt for me! I've had a big fat quarter bundle of Hoffman batiks sitting on my shelf looking all pretty and mocking me with their bright colors, along with several yards of bright white Kona cotton. As usual, I have no set plan yet, because that would involve thinking, and I do enough of that already, thank you very much.

So this weekend, while the kids commandeered my computer for playing games and watching princess videos, I cut 90 8-inch squares of batiks and 90 8-inch squares of Kona, and started making 720 HST blocks.

Harper felt her input was needed:

48 down, 672 to go!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Bad cuticles are a sign of moral turpitude, you know

A few weeks ago, one of my editors at Quilter’s Home, Jake Finch, told me that she would be in the Baltimore area for a couple days in July and expressed her hopes that we might be able to meet up while she was here. Jake, as I’ve probably mentioned before, has kind of been my champion ever since I first submitted an article to QH last year. She and her partner-in-periodical-crime, Melissa Thompson Maher, have published my humor in every issue since then, and since I lost my job earlier this year, have given me feature pieces to write as well. And these two crazy women not only want me to keep writing for them, they also want me to be, let’s say, more fully utilized by the magazine, and are actively working to make that happen. So, I was thrilled to be able to meet one of them in person, though of course my social neuroses were on high alert and kept trying to convince me that she would hate me as soon as she realized I have bad cuticles and eight chins.

We arranged to meet at a restaurant near her hotel, and since she was traveling with her husband and daughter they came along as well. I elected to leave my family at home, so that I might have the occasional opportunity to say something other than, “Please don’t put that in your nose.” Honestly, I can’t take my husband anywhere.

I recognized Jake immediately from her pictures, and I was relieved to discover that she is not a scaredy-hugger, because naturally I went for the big bear hug right away. Do you know what I mean by scaredy-hugger? Those people that hug you as briefly and loosely as possible, like they might catch your cooties? It drives me nuts, and all I can think after I discover that someone is like this is that their sex life has got to be AWKWARD. I am pleased to report that she big bear hugged me right back, thus leaving my mind relatively unsullied.

As we were making our plans a few days ago, Jake warned me, “Do NOT get sucked into a discussion of politics with my husband.” AND HOO BOY SHE WASN’T KIDDING. Fortunately, I have lots of practice in avoiding political talk. My dad has a family rule that we don’t discuss politics or religion, because the topics are just too volatile. We are a family of believers and atheists, Democrats and Republicans, and we have enough to fight about already without bringing essential polarities into it. Not that this stops my dad from trying to get something started on occasion anyway.

But the real practice came when I was in retail as an optician, because when you are repairing or adjusting a pair of glasses, the customer is sitting right there watching you, and feels compelled to chat. And many people see this as perfect opportunity to expound on some nugget of political wisdom that they’ve obviously been chewing on ALL DAY. So they’ll find any means to segue into what they want to tell you.

Me: Sure is hot out today, isn’t it?

Customer: Yep, it sure is. Can’t even get out to do any gardening today.

Me: Oh, you have a garden?

Customer: Yes, I do. And did you know that the President is going to force all of us to grow turnips in our bathtubs and feed them to lepers while dancing the tarantella?

Me: And where did you hear about this?


Me: My, that’s a lovely watch you’re wearing.

I learned how to smile and nod and say absolutely nothing in return that could be construed as agreement or encouragement, and to steer the conversation in a different direction as soon as possible, often just by guiding it back to the course it had been on originally. I couldn’t risk getting into a debate with a customer, because my job was to sell them things and make them want to come back and buy more things and if the situation ended up with me going, “GET OUT OF MY STORE NOW,” it could make them reluctant to shop with us again.

So Jake’s husband did his darnedest, but I managed to duck most of his shots. So, other than how the government is going to run out of money and collapse and force us into some sort of oligarchy, we talked about kids and jobs and the magazine, and it was great fun. For me, anyway. I have a suspicion that people who know of me through my writing believe that I will be just as funny in person as I am on paper, and that ain’t the case, certainly not the first time you meet me, anyway. So, I fear they may have been disappointed, and even if they weren’t, I’m pretty sure I lost them when they kindly walked me to my car AND I COULDN’T FIND IT. They were exceptionally nice about it, but I have the feeling that if we ever meet up again the first thing Jake’s husband will say to me is, “Do you remember where your car is? Should we go make a map now, to save us the expedition later?” And then I will call him a smartass and ask him how his ear hair goblins are doing.

Honestly, though, they were very nice, and Jake is as down-to-earth and funny and sweet as I thought she’d be. I am very, very lucky to have someone like her take me under her wing and do so much to give life to my insane rantings. She is the sort of person who inspires loyalty, who knows how important it is to do so, and those are the best kinds of people to work with and for. I sincerely hope that someday I’ll have the opportunity to do for someone else what she has done for me. Assuming, that is, that she still wants to do so after the cuticles and the chins and the thing with the car. It probably depends on what her ear hair goblins are telling her.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Two posts in two days?

Okay, yeah, the peanut butter cup thing was kind of obscure. But I had a joke in mind since I was writing about all the squares I've been cutting and it involved the term "square pegs," which naturally led me to the song by the Waitresses that was the theme song to the show of the same name. Are you still with me here?

This is the song:

Now, if you could hear the whole song, which I don't think you ever could on the show, you would eventually get to a line that goes, "Now what would I do with 200 peanut butter cups?" That was my temporary title for the post and I was too lazy to change it once I realized it wasn't going to work.


Now, back to the baggie I found in my scrap box AND NO IT DID NOT HAVE POT IN IT. What it did have were some quilt blocks, most in the Attic Windows pattern:

There are about fifteen of the individual blocks and five larger blocks where four smaller ones had been sewn together.

All of these were pieced by hand:

including this random one:

It took me a while to realize that there was something even more interesting about the larger blocks:

And I know almost all those names. When I was in college, and possibly even before that, my mother had a little sewing group, and if my memory serves, she was actually teaching them all to quilt. These must have been made for a block swap or something similar.

So, how amazing is that? To be digging through some old scraps and come up with something so precious. I would love to put them all together to make something, a wall hanging perhaps, in order to preserve them, but the odd numbers make it hard to come up with a configuration that works well. The larger blocks could be used alone, maybe. It would also be a reason to finally start learning hand quilting, since it would seem wrong to quilt these by machine.

Which reminds me that this quilt

From The Bitchy Stitcher

that my mother made for me and quilted by hand is falling apart. Part of the issue, I am sure, is that I never knew, until I started quilting myself, how to store a quilt, and I had it in a very bad place for a long time thinking it would help keep it from getting worse. She appliqued over a small hole many years ago, but there is probably too much damage now to applique over and it won't stop the rest from continuing to deteriorate.

I'm not sure what to do in either case, but I know how much things like these mean to me.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

What would I do with 200 peanut butter cups?

Ah, the long weekend is finally over and I have a few precious minutes to myself while Number One Daughter watches something loud and obnoxious on the TV downstairs. Our weekend seemed packed with activities, but that is only because I can never usually persuade anyone to leave the house, especially not in 100-degree weather, so whenever we do manage an outing, it feels like we've just done something really daring and bold. On Saturday, we drove into downtown Annapolis to meet my husband's cousin and her family, who were in the D.C. area for a few days for a diving meet. She had expressed in an email to David how excited the kids were about seeing Annapolis, so naturally David wanted to ask them to just drive to our house and hang out here for the day instead. I convinced him that while, yes, having them come here would make it more likely that we could actually spend time talking with them and catching up, it would be rude to deny them a chance to see something they're looking forward to. David is wary of taking Devon anywhere, and with good reason. One never knows just how acute her crankiness will be on any given day and how it will manifest. Whining? Crying? Minor violence? French sanitation worker-style strike? This day it was mostly whining, with some crying mixed in, but she saved it all for after lunch, for which we were all profoundly grateful.

But such was her unhappiness after mealtime, she vehemently protested being photographed, which is why you cannot see her face:

Some chocolate gelato afterwards helped, but only briefly.

That evening Harper got to go watch fireworks at the beach with her friend Isabella, and then after—are you ready for this—THEY HAD A SLEEPOVER AT ISABELLA'S HOUSE. Nothing is better than a sleepover, in Harper's opinion. I hate to think what that means for her teenage years.

Sunday was Blow Up the Wading Pool Day!

Monday was the local 4th of July parade, and we left after half an hour because of the heat and the politicians. When did those people start to infiltrate parades as a way to campaign for office? And one of them, I can't remember who - they all blend together into one big pulsating mass of asshole in my mind, had a truck with karaoke music blasting and some old geezer with a microphone "singing" Neil Diamond's "America." Except, you know how it's about immigration, and the chorus goes. "They're coming to America"? Pops was singing, "We're taking back America." Because, you know, your Irish grandfather TOOK IT AWAY FROM US. The next asshole had a live band and they were playing "Baba O'Reily," so I'm not sure what that was meant to signify. Probably something about farm subsidies or cap and trade. Or pot.

Honestly, shouldn't a 4th of July parade be a little less about electing assholes and more about kids on bikes?

Of course, if one of the assholes could ride a unicycle, I might be persuaded to vote for him after all.

That night we had friends over for dinner, and I was so busy cooking a ridiculously good meal, I didn't take any pictures. But I had two big glasses of tinto de verano, which makes up for any other shortfalls.

In quilting news, I have long intended to organize my scrap boxes, and my first plan was simply to separate them according to color. But after seeing this blog, and some of the beautiful quilts she has made with scraps, I decided to cut up my scraps into squares. I choose the size of the squares according to the size of the scrap, cutting any leftover pieces into smaller squares until I am down to mere slivers. Then the squares are stored in bins according to size. I also have a bunch of squares that I purchased on eBay when I started quilting and still hadn't figured out how to use a rotary cutter yet. And while I think this is a worthwhile pursuit, and will allow me to make some nice scrap quilts in the future, I have a long way to go:

Those two boxes hold, judging from how badly I was bruised as I tried to wrestle them out of the closet, approximately 1300 pounds of fabric. Some of the pieces turned out to be large scraps that my mother had given me, and among those, I found a plastic bag with...well, you know what? I'm going to save that for the next post or we'll be here all day.

Now I am going to brave the 30-second walk to the mailbox to see if the mailman brought me something pretty to give to the nice ladies at the bank. If I don't post again for a week, have somebody check in the driveway for my dried, burnt carcass.