Monday, January 31, 2011

Damon and Pythias and all those other Greek chappies

The power returned to our house about 20 hours after it had gone out, so we only had to spend one night sleeping cold and one day at our friends' house. David made the very astute observation that once we knew we didn't have to be there, we could relax and enjoy ourselves, and decided to accept their invitation to stay to dinner. We drank mulled wine and ate soup and spaghetti and played Wii games and had a blast. But it was still so good to go home and sleep in our own beds, with the heat cranked up to reasonable levels. I fell asleep that night certain that we were back on the road to a normal life again.

Until Devon threw up all over me the next morning.

I am fully expecting a large boil to pop out on my ass any moment now, but for the moment, I have both kids pumped full of antibiotics, the streets are plowed and power is running. School and daycare are open, the spouse is at work and I AM IN THE HOUSE ALONE. I would invite you to join me in my tequila-fueled "Sew-n-Slash" party (where I work on various stitching projects while reading Jeeves and Wooster slash fiction and blasting Guns N'Roses), but you are not welcome. It's nothing personal; it's just that you are another human being and I have no desire to see another human being ever again for as long as I live.

In the midst of all the snow and ice and upchucking, I somehow managed to lose all the floss I purchased for my cross-stitch project. Just lost it! One day, it was sitting in a tidy little container on top of my cutting table, and the next it was gone. It was the damnedest thing and it had me stymied for days on end. It bothered me so much, that I would just burst out - in the middle of dinner, during a shower, driving to the pediatrician - WHERE THE HELL COULD IT BE?  And everyone knew what I meant, because I had made such a stink about it. I finally decided that I must have somehow inadvertently thrown it away when I had been cleaning out the closets in my sewing room. This, it seemed, was a message from God or the Fates or whoever that I was not meant to do cross-stitch - as though the massive knots that kept appearing every third stitch or so weren't enough of a hint.

Then yesterday, in a rare moment of clarity, I realized that the rest of my Aida fabric, the second, smaller hoop I had bought, and the pack of needles were also missing, and they had not been in the same box, but had been sitting out on the table. THEN I finally remembered placing everything neatly into a larger container and placing it in my closet along with all of my other containers of sewing supplies, scraps, and unfinished projects. It could not have been in a more obvious spot if I had placed it in a bag and hung it from a ring in my nose. I am also the person who freaks out and yells WHERE ARE MY DAMN CAR KEYS while holding the keys in my hand and flinging them around to demonstrate how frustrated I am that I cannot find them.

For those of you who did not catch the Facebook post by alert reader Debra about the rat poop, here is what she said:

I do a lot of importing for my "real" job. We get merchandise in by the container from overseas and often see evidence of . . . well . . . critters. They (usually rats) crawl around - touch all the shit regardless of packaging. So - WASH THAT FABRIC - regardless of whether you think it will shirink, bleed, fade, stretch - those fucking rats have touched it - I guarantee it. Even if it is domestic (which is rare) it gets shipped and trust me - we have rats too!

Which naturally freaked out several people, including me. Then someone else said that she orders bolts of fabric and they always come completely covered in plastic, so she doesn't think that the rat poop can get on it, but then that begs the question is the rat poop all over the plastic and do you get it on you when you are unwrapping it and then you forget for a second and touch your mouth and YOU HAVE JUST EATEN RAT POOP and anybody who comes in contact with the plastic is going to spread the poop all over everything unless they put the entire shrink-wrapped bundle into one of those Silkwood showers and then set it on fire?

So now we come to our third, and possibly final, question in the Great Quilting Debates Research Project. I am told by my QH overlords that this is a hot button issue, but it was news to me, so I'm curious to get your take on it. Do you only use an expensive, high-quality iron, or will any old iron work just as well? Related to this is the question, steam or no steam?

Have at it, my friends. And if anyone has a good story about irons and rat poop, bring it on.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Pre-wash or rat poop?

I am on my last nerve here, folks. On top of the stomach viruses and flu, the kids now have strep and bronchitis, and their horrible coughs have kept me awake every night for days. Last night would have been the first night that I had even a chance of sleeping for more than 10 minutes at a stretch, except as soon as I got the girls settled in bed, the power went out, due to a wet, heavy snow. We don't have a fireplace, so all we could do was pile on the quilts (and hasn't that turned out to be a useful hobby?) and hunker down for the night. But I couldn't stay asleep in the cold and am yet again short on sleep and long on wanting to hurl myself off a bridge.

We have close friends who live nearby who have power so we are staying at their place until we are electrified once again, but of course their house is FREEZING, even with the heat on. So I am trying to keep warm with the heat from their laptop and any alcoholic beverages I can rustle up.

So, why don't you keep me occupied and answer the next question, one already posted on Facebook: do you pre-wash your fabric or not and why? And Debra, if you would be so kind as to tell our non-Facebook friends about the RAT POOP, I'd be obliged. I think you need to freak out as many people as possible, as a public service. And that little tidbit, by the way, is TOTALLY going in the article.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Let me have it (answers, not a pot roast)

For those of you who do not follow me on Facebook, the other day I got a hilarious email from Jake Finch, one of my overlords at Quilter's Home, which was apparently written around 1 a.m. and after who knows how many cocktails, wondering at great length why all the wangs from the Japanese Penis Festival were all circumcised, and were the Japanese secretly Jewish, and something about bonsais and pruning. And I was all, gee, Jake, don't you know that 98% of all Japanese men are uncircumcised and that those were all supposed to be ERECT wieners and that it's actually kind of hard to tell the difference between an uncircumcised trouser snake and a circumcised one when it is all up and ready for action, at least on first glance when doing a Google image search? Because I've never actually encountered an untrimmed bratwurst in real life (I once had a friend whose boyfriend was both intact and somewhat large - or so she claimed - and she said it looked like a pot roast), and NOW, THANKS TO JAKE, this is kind of a weird goal I have. Not one I'm going to pursue actively or anything, but just that, you know, IF David should suddenly kick off or file for divorce or something, and IF I should ever feel comfortable dating again, I MIGHT limit my dating pool to Europeans and Asians and whatever other cultures do not desecrate their dicks (presumably most of them). NO WAIT. I totally forgot the kid that lived down the street when I was like five and we went into his bathroom one time and played I'll Show You Mine If You Show Me Yours! It was like a tiny pig-in-a-blanket! Never mind. I can cross that off my bucket list now.

So, right, Facebook. None of that was on Facebook. What I DID mention on FB was that Jake had also taken the opportunity (in a second email, no less) to tell me to STOP PIN BASTING MY QUILTS. She says that 505 Spray & Baste is totally the way to go, and she hasn't pinned a thing in 10 years. I expressed my skepticism and then offered the question to my Facebook peeps: pin or spray? I got so many responses that Jake and Melissa (my other QH overlord) and I decided to make an article out of it: The Great Quilt Debates. So, I want to know what all you non-Facebooky people have to say. Give your answer in the comments, and I may quote you in the article, using only your first name and maybe a city/state. Two more questions will be posited here in the next few days, after you've had enough time to weigh in.

And if you have any opinions on pot roasts, I'd be happy to hear those as well.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Freelance editor available for parties and weddings

The spate of illness and PHLEGM! continues here at Chez Bitchy, as Harper awoke this morning with a fever and apparently has bronchitis and a sinus infection. And the experiment being conducted upon my psyche continues as well, because during the short period of time where both children were well enough to attend school/daycare we had a holiday and a snow day. Next week, schools are open only a half day on Monday, then closed Tuesday and Wednesday, giving me only one day when I might potentially have time to shower and eat a full meal, if I can fit it in between boiling everything the children have touched and shoving Oreos down my throat (medicinally, of course - seeing as how my doctor refuses to give me a prescription for Valium to deal with the anxiety that NEVER BEING ALONE produces).

Oh, and get this. Last weekend, I actually brushed my hair, put on clothes with no discernible stains, and went to a party. Granted, it was a birthday party for a three-year-old, and it was just at my neighbor's house, and I was only there in the capacity of Child Wrangler, BUT - there were other adults, there was beer and horse doovers, and no one mentioned the rash I get on my neck when I get nervous! Social success! This was Devon's first birthday party (as an attendee), and though I questioned the wisdom of any parent scheduling a gathering of small children in the late afternoon, I figured Dev, who was feeling much more herself at this point, would be okay. And she was Charm Itself when we walked in the door, talking with everyone and dancing and checking herself out in the big mirror they had in their living room (she takes after me). Then, something snapped, and she was suddenly in tears over everything. I have no idea what set her off, though I suspect it was a well-meaning older child who wanted to help her do the craft that was set up for all the kids to do. God help you if you try to assist that child without her asking you first. IT RUINS EVERYTHING. For hours. After that, she couldn't handle anything that was going on, and after the Happy Birthday song made her cover her ears and cry, I suggested that perhaps it was time for us to depart, a suggestion she was grateful to follow. So we left David to be the sole representation of Geeky Nerditude among the other grown-ups, a role he is usually quite happy to play.

The same neighbors had a party back in late November, one they have every year, where every guest is supposed to bring a homemade soup in a crockpot and everyone votes for the best one. We are the only neighbors who get invited, it seems, or at least the only ones who show. The rest of the guest list appears to be people Mrs. Schedules Her Kid Parties After 3 P.M. (I've changed her name to protect her privacy) knows from her job, which is as a stylist at one of the fancy schmancy salons in town. (Mr. SHKPA3PM cannot invite his work buddies because he Can't Tell Us Where He Works Though He Will Say It's In Virginia which is not-so-secret code in these parts for CIA.) Do you know what people who work at fancy schmancy salons are like? They are all skinny and have fabulous hair. I have nothing to talk about with people who are skinny and have fabulous hair. I am fat and have scalp psoriasis.

So I made David go by himself. He doesn't have anything to talk about with skinny, well-coiffed people either (he doesn't have a scalp condition that I am aware of, but he is "cuddly," which is how he likes me to think of his girth (and I do)), but he is much more willing to endure it for the sake of good neighbor relations. He stayed for a socially acceptable 2 hours, and then returned, having spent the bulk of his evening nursing a beer and playing with his new Android phone. I'd really like to throw a party with all of the geekiest people I know (philosophy professors - I know several of those - and programmers and policy wonks) and add one skinny person with fabulous hair just to see if she ends up sitting by herself playing with her phone. Because I would truly like to believe that the universe would balance that way, but I suspect that any skinny person with fabulous hair would get oodles of attention, even if she were practically brain dead and surrounded by cuddly, follicularly challenged PhDs.

It doesn't help matters that I was once quite skinny, and though I have never had hair one could call fabulous, it was spiky and kinda punk and totally awesome. This is how I still see myself, though I look nothing like it anymore:

Guess which one's me!

In quilting news:

I have long been coveting a particular cross-stitch piece that has been for sale at this Etsy shop, but she wanted like $300 for it (granted, it came mounted in an organic "eco-frame," but still). A few weeks ago, I noticed that it had been reduced to $99 and though that is still WAY more than I am usually prepared to pay for anything that doesn't organize my entire life/cook all my meals/provide multiple orgasms, I happened to have just a little extra cash and a guilty husband who didn't get me anything for Christmas. Or I would have extra cash, just as soon as payday arrived, but then some ho-bag got to it before I did. I begged the artist to make a pattern for it, as I noticed she was starting to do that with some of her designs (a smart business move) and she did! Eight bucks and ninety-nine cents later, I have my dream cross-stitch project:

Now I just have to remember how to actually, you know, cross-stitch. I remember it involves floss. And hoops.

I have started on it, but I am incapable of following charts or directions, and have already fucked up. Naturally, I fucked up the word "motherfucka" and instead stitched "motherfucker," apparently because I am so anal about spelling I even have to correct a foul word from rap lyrics on my cross-stitch project:

And I only noticed this as I was writing this blog post and while I am waiting for a phone call about a possible, though not probable, freelance editing job. I think this illustrates my editing skills nicely, and I plan to include a link to it in my resume. If the cross-stitch doesn't seal the deal, my college-era hair will, no doubt.

Oh, and, um...everybody? Thanks. For, you know, being awesome. You're the best blog readers a fat, flaky-headed hermit could ask for.

Friday, January 14, 2011

This is why I married him

At dinner this evening (after the kids had finished and been excused), I was describing my last post to my husband and telling him about that last link, and he said:

"So you don't Rickroll your readers — you Dickroll them!"

Sigh. I'd marry that boy all over again.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Mommy hurt her arm.

Oh, dear.

I seem to have had a small surge in readership lately, which is lovely, really - don't get me wrong. But whenever that happens, it is generally because someone somewhere had the notion to link to one of my posts, and it is often one of the more...innocuous ones, and it doesn't take long before I post something more...typical of me and my unrepentant depravity. And that's when I get the email that says, "I do NOT enjoy reading blogs where someone uses the f-word, mentions unpleasant bodily functions, and insults the royal family of Micronesia." To which I always reply, "Then you need to go back and read some more, lady, because I have written FAR worse than that. I have all kinds of things here for you to get a bug up your butt about, and you could have picked something WAY better."

But I hate getting those emails. Even though I truly do not intend to ever make this blog all sugar and lollipops for the delicate sensibilities crowd, I still feel all iggy when someone feels so violated by my naughty talk that they have to take the time to send me a scolding email over it. It makes me feel like maybe I wasn't up front enough about the way I tend to write, like there should have been a bigger tip-off alerting potential readers to the poison contained herein.

So, just in case we have some sweet Aunt Tillies out there who are going to faint when I suggest that perhaps the quilt I just made looks like FUCKING ROADKILL, here is a helpful guide to The Bitchy Stitcher Blog:

1. I curse. Frequently. Though not as frequently as I do in real life. Just ask my kids. In fact, the first time my firstborn was old enough to note the fact that I had just said something unusual and possibly fun to repeat, I had just whacked my elbow on the corner of a table, and my husband explained the stream of FCC-forbidden language coming from my mouth by saying, "Mommy hurt her arm." This was apparently a satisfactory explanation for Harper, and thereafter, anytime I erupted with a "Crap!" or "Holy shit!" or "You cocksucking douchebag!", David would just blithely say, "Mommy hurt her arm." Now they all say it. Frequently.

2. I am a self-taught quilter. Which means that I don't really know how to do anything properly and though you are welcome to ask me for advice, the advice will probably consist of several smart remarks and a link to something involving penises.

3. I am self-taught because I am an anti-social loner, and even though I am forty-one years old, I am still convinced that no matter what the situation, I will always be the dorky outcast that no one talks to and is fatter than anyone else in the room. So I deal with my social anxieties by coming here and making self-deprecating jokes about my lousy quilting and my other faults, and because I don't tend to also write about how wonderful my life is in other ways (and it is), it can appear as though I am nothing but a sack of insecurity and neuroses. I'm not, though. I'm actually a raving egomaniac. Seriously. When I'm done writing this, I'm going to spend at least an hour checking out my enormous booty in the mirror because it is Just. So. Awesome.

4. I am a writer for Quilter's Home magazine, where I have a regular humor column. If you are not a current reader of QH (and why the hell aren't you?), and you happen to pick up a copy out of curiosity, here's a helpful tip: mine is the article that says "By Megan Dougherty" at the top and contains a bunch of quilt-related insanity that may or may not strike you as funny, depending upon several factors such as your mood, the phase of the moon, and how far that stick up your butt goes.

There. I think that just about covers it. Let's all take bets now to see how soon that 311 over there starts dropping!

In quilting news:

After several days of intense deliberation (read: wishy-washy indecision), I finally cut and sewed the borders for the mermaid quilt:

And whaddya know - I don't hate it! I do think the peachy tone of the circles is a bit incongruous with all the hot pink and magenta, but the smaller inner border, which has much of the same tone, helps balance it. The niece for whom it is intended has a sister who will be getting a quilt in the same pattern with a horse theme and different colors.

So you see, this is how it works here. First, you have to wade through all my self-indulgent crap (Mommy hurt her arm) and then, if you make it through all that without hemorrhaging, you get rewarded with something quilty! (Though if I'm lazy, like I was today, it will be something quilty that has been poorly photographed with my phone instead of a real camera. See, I was too busy checking out my sweet, sweet booty in the mirror to bother with f-speeds and shutter stops.

And if you want to know the technique I used to make the circle blocks, just click here!

Oh, did you just hurt your arm?

Monday, January 10, 2011

Moany Monday

Last Thursday night, around 10:30 p.m., I was awakened by the stealthy sound of a seven-year-old creeping into my room, desperate to make an Unpleasant Announcement.

"Mom, I just threw up."

She sleeps in an Ikea loft bed, one meant for smaller kids, so she's not really that high off the floor. And she did manage to hang her head over the side before everything, um, erupted, so that was good, but I think it helped to increase the radius of the impact zone, if you get my drift. I cleaned up everything as best I could, got her settled and went back to bed, hoping and praying that it was all over.


By this time, Devon was not nearly as sick as she had been, but was still weak and tired, so she languished while Harper ran back and forth to the bathroom to heave.

Finally, they both passed out.

Saturday and Sunday were better, but Devon is now at that point in her recovery where she is not truly sick anymore, but is a huge pain in my ass. She spends her entire day moaning dramatically, announcing she's tired, throwing herself down somewhere and demanding a pillow and blanket, then rolling around restlessly for 30 seconds followed by stomping around the house and throwing things as though we have all been insulting her honor. Imagine how many times a small child can do that between 6 a.m. and 7 p.m. Imagine her doing it while her sister is retching and crying in the toilet. Imagine her doing it while you have a wracking cough and pinkeye and a semi-useless husband (since the kids want nothing to do with him when they're sick) and you are a notorious introvert who hasn't had a day to herself since before Christmas.

I decided to keep them home one more day, just in case, but have already determined that they would both have been fine back where they are supposed to be, and I could have finally had a day to nurse my red, weepy eye and my chest-gunk (PHLEGM!), as well as my psychological well-being. But no, I had to be all "I don't know...what if they need me?"

And it's supposed to snow tomorrow. Which means my husband will work from home, so if the kids can't go to school/daycare, I will be stuck inside with them for yet another day while my husband locks himself in his office, occasionally popping out to ask if I need anything and then having to duck as I throw several heavy objects towards his head.

What I NEED is a day off. And a blunt.

In quilting news:

After quilting two tops that had been languishing in my closet, I decided to tackle a third. Some of you may vaguely recall this quilt, also from 2009:

I got some 108-inch white backing fabric and yardage for binding and on Saturday, I entrusted the care of my vomiting, cranky children to my husband for a couple hours so I could pin-baste it. This quilt, which is roughly 70x70, is about as big a quilt as I can baste in my house without having to haul furniture outside. Once it was basted, I had to figure out how to quilt it. Of the last two quilts I completed, one was stippled, and the other was, was supposed to be wavy lines, like ocean waves, but it just looked like vandalism. I hoped for better for this quilt.

I decided to try a simple flower in each four-patch:

Nothing too fancy, hard to screw up. And fairly easy to accomplish even when you cannot see your thread on most of the blocks, so you have no idea if you are making a flower or a portrait of the virus that is currently infecting your family. I will have to figure out something else for the sashing, which will probably ruin the whole thing. Perhaps I should aim for something hideous, like gaping wounds or something, and then it might end up looking like vines and leaves instead.

But either way I'll still end up with a useable quilt, all sunshiney and flowery and not vomit-encrusted. Which is good enough for the likes of me.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Cards and convalescents

Anonymous Deborah has asked for an update on the purse I made for my neighbor's daughter, the one I wasn't sure she would be allowed to have, lest purses were too "grown-up" for nine-year-old girls.

This is the card I received from the daughter:

At the same time, we received a card from the parents (click image to see bigger):

I got these shortly after returning home from Devon's visit to the doctor and after reading the head-swimmingly disturbing letter from Harper's school about head lice. I got rather choked up and told David, "I'm not used to being liked."

Devon, unfortunately, is still very ill. I had hoped that Monday would have been the end of the worst of it, but that was not to be. Though she is not dehydrated or having trouble breathing or exhibiting any other symptom that would send me scurrying back to the doctor, she feels awful and has no energy and is becoming sad and frustrated by feeling so lousy for so long. I'm grateful when she manages to fall asleep, which she does quite often:

But this is how she looks the rest of the time:

 I did fall ill myself yesterday, and felt like holy hell all day, but I'm doing much better today, so I have no right to complain. But I won't feel completely well until Devon is smiling and running around my sewing room yelling, "HARPER! DON'T TOUCH MY BUTT!"

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The Return of the Porcine Malaise

On Thursday, I received the Call From Daycare that every mother dreads: COME PICK UP YOUR CHILD. SHE'S THROWING UP. I arrived to find my little girl looking pale and scared, her head in the toilet, crying because she thought she had done something bad. The only time that child has ever vomited was once when she was still a baby and had a coughing fit right after a big bottle of milk. She's never had a stomach virus and most of her colds have been fairly mild, at least on the Harper Scale of Illness Severity. Harper was sick constantly as a baby and a toddler, nothing but fevers and barfing and diarrhea and snot and coughs, though of course now she's the healthiest one of us all. Devon has had one ear infection and a few mild colds, but nothing that made me worry.

And this looked like it was going to turn out much the same. She threw up once more after we got home, and after that she was fine. Her usual ornery, kickin' butt and takin' names self.

Then on Saturday afternoon she started looking listless and feeling kind of warm. Then she had a big poop and everything was fine again. Well, honestly, wouldn't that perk you up?

Sunday she woke up in a great mood, but within a few hours the listlessness and slight fever had returned. By that afternoon, it was clear she had a good fever going and she didn't feel like doing much of anything. Clearly a big poop was not going to help matters.

Yesterday, her fever increased, she barely moved, and her chest and head were getting congested. I took her to the doctor, where her fever promptly broke while we were in the waiting room, and while a check of her ears and nose found no infection (which had been my guess) a quick swab of her snot and one mysterious lab test showed she has the flu. I heard the doctor announcing in the hallway before she came in to tell me, "Well, we've got our first confirmed case of Influenza A." It may have been the first case in that office, but clearly it had hit everywhere else, because we were unable to fill a prescription for Tamiflu within the 48-hour window when it would be effective. All sold out.

Naturally, not only did I neglect to get her vaccinated yet (and it may not have helped since one other kid at her daycare has it and he did get a flu shot), I also have not been inoculated myself, so I am a Ticking Time Bomb of Viral Pestilence. David and Harper are covered, which makes them all smug and superior.

OH. AND THEN. Harper brings home a note from school that says one of her classmates has head lice. I had to put my head between my knees. Next, it'll be some sort of carpet piranha infestation. Or David will tell me he has the clap.

But while my sweetie languished on my sewing room sofa over the weekend, I decided to finally come to grips with the Problem of What Quilt Design To Use for the Heather Ross Mendocino fabric I acquired over a year ago, and which I had intended to use for a quilt for one of my nieces. I went through all of my quilting magazines and came up with a pattern I thought would work. It turned out to be extremely easy and fast to put together, even with the circles (that still need to be sewn on - right now they're glued). The pale solid squares were supposed to match the peachy background of the circles, but they don't achieve that as much as I had hoped. I still need two borders and I will have to buy more fabric for that and decide what colors to do there.

Now that I have accomplished that, AND completed my two articles for the next issue of Quilter's Home, I am at my leisure to become grossly and extravagantly ill. I am sure that if I do indeed become the Camille of Quilt Blog Land, my subsequent descriptions of it will cause somebody to write me a huffy email about how PHLEGM IS NOT FUNNY. And that itself will be entertaining enough to make all that phlegm totally worth it.