Friday, February 26, 2010

I'm still waiting for my schnapps

Last week was "Ooooh - a package!" week here at Chez Bitchy. First, I took delivery of Harper's new bunk bed from Ikea, which is of course, so much more than a mere bunk bed. It is also a pirate ship, a castle, a basketball hoop (a really, really big basketball hoop), and the source of a conflict with my husband that made me walk out of the room and take an hour-long shower just to make him have to struggle with the damn thing alone while the kids asked every two minutes, "Is it done?" Good times.

Then I received the nicest package from one of my 7 or 8 regular readers, Michele. She had asked me a few weeks ago for my address, and helpfully added that she was not a stalker! Because, boys and girls, a blog stalker generally announces his or her intentions to kill you right up front. So, when handing out your personal information to total strangers, always look for the Non-Stalker Guarantee: I AM NOT A STALKER. You're welcome.

I had assumed that Michele was responding to my plea for chocolate and schnapps back when we got dumped on (i.e., endured a massive snowstorm), and, indeed, she came through with the chocolate:

But then, to my giddy surprise, there was more:

How cool is all that? I don't usually invest in quilting books of that sort, though I love them, and this one is fantastic. The pattern is for a PAPER PIECED quilt, and she even included some fabric strips to get me started.

Yep, paper piecing. the magic origami method of quiltmaking, possibly even more mysterious than applique. I only just figured out very recently that you are supposed to tear off the paper when you are done making the blocks - I had always assumed that you left it in and were stuck with a very crinkly, though intricately pieced, quilt. WELL I DON'T KNOW THESE THINGS.

AND she included a couple treats for my girls. How sweet is that?

Then I received two packages of some sale fabrics I had snagged on eBay and from the J. Caroline site. First I got some Prairie Gothic:

And then some Michel Miller Whimsy:

Doesn't it all look pretty stacked together on my shelf?

And lest you think I have only been using my new sewing studio to eat chocolate, watch episodes of "Dexter," and read trashy books (which I have done plenty of), I have also churned out a few more blocks for Labyrinth 2: Electric Boogaloo:

The quilt retreat article is going well, by the way, so thank you all for your tales of drunken debauchery.

Oh, and for those who asked, my cutting table does have adjustable legs and it is awesome. It is, like pretty much every other piece of furniture in my house, from Ikea. I highly recommend raising up your cutting table if you can, even if you just set the legs of what you already have up on blocks or books. I have started cutting fabric whenever I feel a migraine coming on, because it keeps my head and neck aligned in a way that seems to relieve some pressure somewhere.

Okay, I think that covers everything I'm going to talk about today, unless you're really keen to hear all about the uncontrollable itching on my legs. No? No one? Okay, but don't email me askin' about it, 'cause you had your chance.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Help Wanted

Anybody out there ever been to a quilting retreat? If so, I may want to ask you some questions for an upcoming Quilter's Home article I am writing. If you have funny stories, went and loved it, went and hated it, or know of an interesting retreat, I'd really like to hear from you. Leave me a comment with a way for me to get back to you or email me directly at harperland (at) mac dot com.


Tuesday, February 23, 2010


Over the week that we were all snowed in, and both schools and my husband's employer were closed, I took the opportunity to begin the process of moving the kids into their new dungeon...excuse me, bedroom...and moving my things into what would become my new sewing room. Harper was desperate to help, in order to move the process along, but she's so spindly and clumsy you can't give her much to carry, so I'd hand her a single piece of paper or a fat quarter and say, "Here! Find a good place for this!" And I'd discover that she had placed it in the middle of the floor or that she went to the bathroom on the way and set it down next to the toilet and forgot about it. But at least she was occupied!

The room still needs work, as the children's bookshelves are still here as well as Harper's dresser, which requires a forklift to move. I also have yet to remove the Maurice Sendak prints or the photos from High School Musical that Harper printed out and taped to the wall several weeks ago in an attempt to customize the decor. Zac Efron is kinda cute.

It's not in the pictures yet, because it's just kind of shoved into an available space until I get those bookshelves out, but yesterday we went to Ikea and along with a new bed for Harper, we also got a chaise lounge for my room. So when I feel that I am going to positively swoon from the happiness of having my own room, I can land on something cushy right in front of the TV.

And in the time I have had my room set up? I have sewn exactly ONE HALF OF A BLOCK! It was still worth it.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Time to bifurcate!

I think the first thing that comes into my mind every morning as I drag my large buttocks out of bed and attempt to find the bathroom without actually opening my eyes— other than "OW!"— is that this is really supposed to be a quilting blog. Yes, I think about it as I take my morning pee. Such is my dedication.

This has been one of the most awful weeks I have had in a long, long time, and the most sincere and wonderful comfort has come to me from the readers of this blog. People have reached out to me in ways I never expected and I am so touched by this. I don't have a lot of people in my life I can talk to about this situation, so every expression of prayers that are being said and good thoughts that are being sent our way has buoyed me as I try to navigate these rather dark waters.

I need to talk about it more, but I have decided that I need to do that in a separate place, lest the tentacles of that horrid cancer infect this site that is so dear to my heart. To that end I have created a new blog called It's Cherry Pie, in which I will write about my brother and my attempts to come to terms with his diagnosis of brain cancer. You are all more than welcome to read it, but it will be decidedly different than what I usually do here.

Soon, I hope to show you pictures of my new quilting/writing studio and if I can ever get both children out of this house at the same time, perhaps I can also start using it.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Creative Visualization

My brother was released from the hospital and is back at home now. Being 600 miles away makes me feel quite helpless, so I wanted to send him something that would show my love for him as well as, perhaps, be of some help as he fights this cancer. This is what's in the box I'm sending him today:

Let's just say a wicked sense of humor runs in my family.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Sit down. Settle in. Beer? Cola? Cheese ball?

OMIGOD, Y'ALL! It's been AGES since we last talked. Let's see, what has gone on since then? Oh, yeah. IT SNOWED AGAIN. Stupid fucking snow. I swear to cheeses, I am so over it. The piles of snow in my postage stamp yard are now several feet high, high enough for the kids to sled on. This is what happens when you have to remove three feet of snow from your walk and driveway and have only a couple small places to put it, places which already have three feet on them to begin with:

And while we were in the middle of the second blizzard, the most miraculous thing happened. Some dude showed up with a bucket loader and started clearing our whole street. See, we live on one of those cul-de-sacs that the county figures, "Eh. They can wait 'til spring to get out." So we never see a plow. But this guy's grandma lives on our street, and he wasn't gonna let her stay snowed in. And while he was at it? He decided to do the whole street. Which he did all that day. And all the next. We and most of our neighbors gave him as much money as we could for his trouble, but I will admit that many of us would have probably considered more, um, personal favors, so deep was our gratitude.

Another miraculous thing that happened this week was that the editors of a magazine called me and asked me to participate in their planning meeting for the June/July issue. I didn't have a lot of time to prepare, since I am still finishing up the last issue I will do for my not-so-current employer, and I was told that it would just be about features and not departments, so of course, it started off with brainstorming ideas for one of the departments. TRICKY.

I'm not going to say it went badly, but I will tell you that the meeting was shorter than planned because of one editor's prior commitment, and when it came time to confirm the day and time we were to reconvene, they basically said, "You know what? We'll take it from here." Um..okay! See you guys later! Save me a seat in study hall!

But I'm okay with it. First meetings are never my best, as it takes me time to get used to the new people, new process, and even though I may be an avid reader of a publication, the nitty gritty of how it is put together doesn't gel for me until I've had to get my hands in it for a few issues. I've always wished that, when I've started working at new places, whether magazines or optical shops or wherever, that there would be allowed some time to just observe. It's the same way I play video games. I watch you do it several times, and THEN I beat the pants off you. If I try to play without the benefit of observing, I spend all my time going, WHAT DOES THIS BUTTON DO AGAIN? and WHY WON'T THESE ALIENS FUCKING DIE?

But it really is okay, because that same day, my brother was in Tennessee, having his head sawed open to remove the one brain tumor that grew (instead of shrinking into nothing like its companion) after three weeks of drug therapy. When I finally got in touch with someone in my family who was at the hospital, I found out that he came through the surgery fine, that he was awake and talking, though in a lot of pain. My sister said she was able to see him for about 5 minutes, and in that time he said, "Did Meg get my email?" When she told me that, I lost it. That's when I just cried and cried and knew that nothing else mattered, nothing but that my brother was okay. Another eight feet could have fallen on us at that moment, and I would not have cared. My fabulous, funny, big-hearted big brother made it through brain surgery. There's not much that could ruin that.

And again, that same day, I got two of the sweetest emails from readers I have ever received. I don't know how they'd feel about me sharing what they said, but they know who they are, and that they warmed the cockles of my shriveled, black heart.

Today, our babysitter made it out to watch the girls for a few hours so that David and I could WORK ON MY NEW SEWING/WRITING STUDIO! The kids are going to have all their stuff, beds, dressers and all, in the basement playroom, and I am taking their light-filled, closet-laden room for my own. I decided that if I am going to spend this next year conquering the world humor writing market, that I would need to have my own room to do it in. All their stuff migrates down to the playroom anyway, and it was squeezing out what little room I had in there for sewing. We will need to somehow acquire two strapping youngsters to help us with the last of the heavy furniture, but I predict that within the next two weeks, I will have my own room. My husband thinks this now means that I will spend time sewing naked. What it really means is that when I take pictures of my crappy sewing from now on, it will be better lit.

So, even with eleventy-nine feet of snow and kids underfoot and HOW DO YOU GO BACKWARDS? WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU CAN'T GO BACKWARDS? WHAT DOES THAT RED BUTTON DO AGAIN?, it was still a damn fine week.

Update: After I wrote this post, my mom called. She was able to talk to the neurosurgeon this morning. It is cancer. Still waiting on biopsy results to determine what type and how aggressive. However the surgeon seemed very, very optimistic and so everyone is holding on hard to that right now.

Sunday, February 7, 2010


These pictures do not do justice to the insane amount of snow that fell on us yesterday, but they do show my cute kids having fun while my husband shovels a path.

Approximately 28 inches of snow fell on top of the 3 or 4 that was already there from Wednesday and the 8 from last Saturday. And seriously, if I hear one more person go, "Awww! I love snow! I wish it would snow like that here," I will bring you some snow in a big box and bury you in it for a week and then YOU CAN SEE HOW IT FEELS.

This snow was so massive and fell so fast, that there was no way snowplows or road crews could keep up with it. In all our last storms, enough people with 4-wheel drive and no sense drove in and out of our cul-de-sac to tamp down the snow and make a driveable surface, but not even those loons were willing to go out in this, so the road is as deep as everywhere else. God knows when we'll get out of here.

I predict that schools will be closed most of the week, so that combined with being housebound indefinitely will make any posts I manage to compose increasingly nutty, so that by the end of the week, everything will be in ALL CAPS AND I'LL BE BEGGING YOU ALL TO SEND SCHNAPPS AND CHOCOLATE BY HELICOPTER. I'M SURE THE NATIONAL GUARD WILL BE HAPPY TO TO AN AIR DROP.

In other news, my brother goes under the knife on Thursday and I quit my job last week. Fun times all around!

Monday, February 1, 2010

That and the chin zits

Know how I can tell when my period is coming?

When I can't think of anything even remotely chuckleworthy to say.

Like now.

I just started a post about how I want to kick the kids out of their bedroom and take it over as my sewing room/media empire headquarters.

When I went back to read it, I realized I had merely described, in detail, the precise layout of my entire house WITH MEASUREMENTS and lists of every piece of furniture in each room.


I'm going to go scrape gunk out of the fish tanks now and hope that the Red Menace has its way with me soon so I can get back to the quilty witticisms.

And P.S.

I still haven't been paid.