Monday, November 29, 2010

You can dress her up, but you can't take her out

Ah, home.

Last Sunday, we piled the kids in the car and drove south to my ancestral state of Tennessee where we stayed at my parents' home for just under a week. Nearly every time we have done this in the past, someone has been ill, either succumbing just prior to departure or shortly thereafter. Last year, David was recovering from pneumonia and Devon had an ear infection. Devon was also sick the year before that, as was David. In fact, it's almost always a small child or David or both, but never me. This time, miraculously, no one had even a sniffle and Devon, bless her heart, was sunny, sweet, and pleasant almost the entire time.

But it was still incredibly stressful, as family visits always are.

Arrangements had been made for us to drive on Thursday to Franklin, where my brother lives, to meet up at his house for a couple hours with my sister and her family and then go to a restaurant that they recommended for Thanksgiving dinner. Sparta, where my parents live, is about 2 hours away from Franklin, and there is nothing in between the two. NOTHING. Miles and miles and miles of NOTHING. And while getting there was long and boring, coming back was worse because you know what's out your window when you drive through nothing at night? INFINITE, IMPENETRABLE BLACKNESS. Driving down windy, two-lane highways in a thick, dense shroud of negative nothing is not exactly boring. IT'S TERRIFYING. I was absolutely sure that either a huge, 20-point deer was going to leap out of the void and impale us all or some crazy redneck, blurry-eyed from a case of Bud Light and too much family togetherness, would cross the median and we'd all be obliterated in a greasy smear on the pavement in the middle of NOWHERE. As it was, we nearly hit a dog and an albino skunk. Seriously. It probably plays banjo and owns a still.

As I have done all my life, and will probably continue to do even after I am dead, I overdressed myself and my family for the occasion. For me, that is still not saying much, since I don't own any decent clothes, but I did wear real shoes with heels (stacked heels, but still) and the girls had on dresses. David was going to wear a tie, but I actually managed to think clearly just long enough to tell him to just bring it and put it on if he felt he needed it. Naturally, everyone else was in jeans and t-shirts. I do this all the time. I always assume that if I go casual, no one else will, and I'll look like the idiot who has no respect for others and can't dress properly. But instead, I always look like the idiot who dresses like a grandma: pearls and pumps just to buy a can of tuna.

Dinner itself was pretty sad, at least for me. I have a...ahem...condition, resulting from having my gall bladder removed about 10 years ago. Most people live without a gall bladder just fine, but others - five percent, maybe - can't tolerate the bile just being dumped into their intestines constantly. I won't go into all the details, but I will say that it is rather painful. How painful? People wonder why I was willing to give birth twice without pain medication, and it is because, even though labor lasts longer and is certainly more exhausting, it doesn't actually hurt as much as the cramps this condition produces.

Naturally, it happened on the way to Franklin, and though it eased up a bit throughout the visit and dinner, I knew it wasn't over (and hoo, boy it wasn't - at certain points on the ride home I was hoping that deer would show up and put me out of my misery). So I wasn't too willing to stuff my face at dinner. Not that I would have anyway, probably, since it was all buffet style and I have a deep-seated dislike of buffets. Besides the fact that you just have no clue what some of the dishes actually are (Oh, that's undercooked possum with jellied phlegm and mule hoof gravy! Specialty of the house!) there's also the bacteria-loving semi-warm temperature and the blatant lack of even a sneeze guard (at least there wasn't one at this joint, and I don't believe they help anyway). You just know people are picking up every roll and individual pecan pie and setting it back down, even though they pulled something long and green out of their nose only moments before. Gaaack.

But even if it had been made by my own hands and served on bone china, I couldn't have eaten it. The trip back was bad enough, and if I had stuffed myself on top of it, we would have had to pull over somewhere in the pitch black and I would have taken my chances in the dark with the albino vermin.

I did not sew a stitch while I was there, mainly because it was time to upgrade my phone and I got a good deal on a refurbished Droid X, so I spent a lot of time just playing with that. I do love a new gadget. When I wasn't doing that, I was reading. I'm on the fifth book of the Outlander series, and oh, poor Roger! I honestly don't know what I'm going to do when I am through with the last book. Probably start all over and read them again. Or die. That seems not unlikely, considering the depth of my addiction and the potential withdrawal symptoms an end to the series will no doubt cause.

So I have nothing stitchy to show you, but I will show you a few photos I managed to take while we were there. Sadly, there were no albinos willing to pause long enough to be photographed.

My parents' house.

The view from the back.

Happy to be out of the car.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Hint: it involves haggis

Sigh. This morning I got one of those "Are you alive?" emails from a concerned reader who feared I might have keeled over in the last couple of weeks and was up in my sewing room slowly decomposing. But, no. I am alive and well and just...distracted? We are heading to Tennessee for Thanksgiving on Sunday so I have that to prepare for. I was dealing with a minor dispute with a corporate conglom-co legal department who thinks its okay to screw writers up the ass. I'm still trying to get my BP meds settled and I am either feeling like death from the side effects of one drug or I'm headachy and unfocussed from not taking any.

And I've been reading.

There. I said it.

Okay, well. There's more to it than that. See, I am what you might call an enthusiastic reader. I used to read several books a week, but that number was greatly reduced when the kids came along, and for a while there, I was lucky to get in one every couple of months. Now that the girls are bigger and more independent, and I have may own sanctuary, and I have my handy dandy Kindle which allows me to carry around several books at once, I've been making up for lost time. The one BP medication I've taken so far that doesn't make me incredibly tired gives me insomnia, so I am up til 1 or 2 or later every night reading.

And because I have been reading so much, or perhaps due to the brain damage that affects the parents of difficult toddlers, I have been reading a lot of things that I normally wouldn't look twice at, and enjoying them thoroughly. I don't think I am a literature snob, but my personal taste tends to run toward the clever and quirky, satirical novels and comic novels and non-fiction about such things as how prostitutes and drug dealers created modern democracy. But then I found some mysteries I actually liked, ones that came in a series. Mysteries! I hate mysteries, usually, especially the ones with titles like  "Death On A Stick: A Sicky McSickerson Mystery." But then I started reading Charlaine Harris, and I plowed through the Southern Vampire series (on which True Blood is based) and then the Shakespeare series and then the Harper Connelly series (of which there are only four, dammit).

After those were all gone, I tried to find others, but with no luck. I went back to downloading endless samples of books, trying to find anything that would keep me company in the wee hours.

And then I found it.

I'm not even going to admit out loud what it is, just that the first book in the series was free, so I figured what the hell. Then I started reading, and now I pretty much don't give a shit about anything else. These are not mysteries but rather...hmmm...historical fiction? Well, frankly, I think a reasonable person would classify them as Utterly Absurd. An educated person with a modicum of taste would just clout me on the noggin with one of them. But, oh God they are so good. There's fighting and romance and torture and adventure and anguish and swooning. And all I want to do is find out what happens next and lose myself in the ridiculous plot. Fuck Twilight. Edward's got nothin' on this guy. (Update: read the comments to find out what it is!)

So when I sit in front of the computer and try to write something semi-amusing about quilting, I'm really thinking about the next chapter and wondering what unbelievable imbroglio the characters are going to get into next. It's very distracting.

But I swore I would manage a post today and that I wouldn't stop writing to go indulge my literary sweet tooth until I had written something - anything - about stitchy things. And so because I care about you all so very, very much, I am absolutely not moving from this spot until I tell you all about my exciting new project which invol

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

But I aspire to be an above average moron.

Ah, the vicissitudes of the freelance writing life. Getting paid is often the hardest part, after the carpal tunnel from excessive typing and the vitamin D deficiency from never leaving the house. And for me, there's also the part where I get to tell people what I do for a "living," and they're impressed until I tell them I write about quilting. And it gets even better when I tell them I write humor about quilting. They cannot back away fast enough. 

So when the new neighbors across the street moved in this past weekend, I was hoping to put off the "humor writing is TOO a legitimate career" talk as long as possible, but my fool husband is too proud of me to let that happen. As we were chatting with the mom of the family, she asked if I happened to have a needle and thread she could borrow to repair a Halloween costume, and as I went to retrieve it, not mentioning that I have thread and needles coming out my ass, I heard my husband say, "So did Megan tell you all about her quilting?" By the time I returned, she had been primed by his blabbing to ask me the usual polite questions, but she didn't have that same "oh, so you make a little money but you don't do anything important" attitude that most people around here seem to have. Maybe it's because they're from Florida. And later, as we were going trick-or-treating with our kids, we actually had a real conversation about it, and when I told her that my first article for QH was called the Zen of Crappy Quilting, she laughed out loud and said, "Now that sounds like my kind of quilting!"

AND - they have a son my daughter's age and a little girl my younger daughter's age, plus a bonus nine-year-old daughter. That almost makes up for not being paid and not being able to feel my fingertips.

Over the past week, I managed to finish the top for the table runner. I suppose I should know this by now, but I really should beware of patterns that I get free off the internet. They are not always written with the average moron in mind, though they are often written by an average moron. If I were a more experienced sewist (and I love that new word I keep seeing: sewist;  it sounds so prissy)  I would have remembered that applique can cause some shrinkage of the background fabric. As it was, I did not remember that, and as a result, my sashing was all way too big. In most instances, I was able to make it work, but one panel was just too small, so it had to be left out, making this a four-panel table runner instead of a five-panel. 

Now I am attempting to quilt it, which basically means I am teetering on the edge of ruining it completely. I'm starting by stitching in the ditch around all the squares, and it already looks like someone kept bumping into me while I was sewing. I'm not sure what else I can do beyond that which won't look messy and stupid. I truly hope that someday I can approach the quilting of even a small project like this without so much nail biting.


Harper just wanted to use the computer, so I took the opportunity to finish the last few in-the-ditch lines I had to do. I managed to fuck up all four lines in exactly the same way, without ever noticing what was happening. 

This is why I have to write humor instead of "important" stuff.