Wednesday, May 30, 2007
So this is what I get to teach. I'll need to figure out what she already knows, and decide where to start. I'm nervous, but I'm excited. And I'll be honest, I'm having a bit of a power trip thinking of all the idioms and pop culture references I'll be able to teach her.
In other, crafty, news. My secret project is going along well. I had a few moments of panic 'this is horrible, what was I thinking?'; briefly considered changing things around, but then went back to my original plan. Once things started coming together I was thinking 'This rocks! This is going to be awesome!'. But then again, by that point I was getting tired and had consumed half a bottle of Bartles & James Pina Colada wine cooler (can you say 'malt-ternative' ;) ), so my judgment may have been impaired. We'll see.
Unfortunately, there will be little to no knitting content for a bit while I work frantically on this project. But I promise some day I will bring out the needles again.
And apropos to absolutely nothing - this is my 42nd post. Yay - 42. Now what was the question?
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
Is that beautiful or what?
And in keeping with a blue theme, Fraulein Peggy and I are working on a new project. But shhhhhh it's a secret. ;)
Saturday, May 26, 2007
Welcome Frauline Peggy, my brand new Pfaff
It was love at first stitch. I went into the store, and started looking her over. The salesman (in stark contrast to the one I dealt with in the other store), was extremely helpful. I asked him if I could lower the feed dogs, and he showed me how. He showed me how to wind the bobbin (drop in vs. my old tempremental vertical one), he told me the difference between this model and the one above it - stretch stitching for sewing knits (no, thank you I sew with cottons almost exclusively). When I asked him about the Janomes, he showed me a comperable model and explained the differences. He showed me a refurbished machine and listed the features. He even measured the opening from needle to inside of the machine... a generous 6 1/2 inches as opposed to the just over 3 inches in my old machine. Everything about the Pfaff was intuitive, while I intended to read the manual, I knew I could sew whatever I needed to without it.
Friday, May 25, 2007
And I'm so pleased that lolcats are getting some props at Slate.com .
Thursday, May 24, 2007
So last night as I was watching American Idol I decided to work on my quilt a bit. I was unhappy with one of the fabrics I'd already cut out for the sashing so I was going to cut a different piece out of this one. It was late, I was tired, I was paying too much attention to the TV and not enough to the rotary blade. As I ran the blade through the fabric I managed to slice my finger! The blade is sharp so it didn't even hurt at first. But when I looked at the mat I saw a little chunk of skin laying there and I knew it was a *bad* cut!
So I did what I do in situations like that being the overly educated and intensely practical woman that I am. I got out a first aid book and read what you're supposed to for a bad cut, (after of course swearing loudly, and grabbing a tissue to press against my finger). It said to keep the cut elevated and maintain steady pressure for 15 minutes before looking to see if the bleeding had stopped.
I did this, watched the end of AI with my finger elevated on the back of the couch, pressing hard on the tissue with my thumb. But after 15-20 minutes, when I looked again, it was still bleeding. I started to panic a bit because, while I knew it was just a finger - still it's a bit unsettling to watch yourself continuing to bleed after that long. I decided to call my Dr.'s office to see what they said. There was a number on my Dr's card that said "Emergencies" so that's what I called. And this is just the quintessential experience of the bass-ackward US Health Care System.
Health Care Worker #1 "How may I direct your call?"
Me "Um... I think I need to talk to a nurse - I've cut myself and I can't stop the bleeding"
(now -being naive I had expected something like "how big is the cut" or "how much are you bleeding?" you know - so they would know if I was in immediate peril - how mistaken I was!)
HCW #1 "No, we don't have what you would call advice Nurses, and even if I could let you speak with a Nurse, it's against the law for them to give you any medical advice, because they haven't seen you."
Because - what I really needed at that moment was to be treated as though I were trying to engage in illegal behavior. Like I was some kind of junkie working the system to get morphine or something..... against the law to get advice from a nurse....
Me "Um... ok but who should I talk to? I need to know if I should come in to the ER or if it's okay"
HCW #1 "Well, we can't tell you that, but I can transfer you down to the ER and you can talk to someone there"
Me "Ok thank you."
HCW #2 "Hello how can I help you?"
Me "Hi, I've cut myself and I can't stop the bleeding, but it's just a small cut so I don't know if I need to come in or if there's something I should try at home"
HCW #2 (who I must say had a much more sympathetic tone than the first gal, but still) - "I can't tell you if you should come in or not, I'll leave that to your judgement"
At this point I'm getting kind of upset because I'm up way past by bedtime and I'm bleeding and just need someone to tell me what I should do, and right now my judgement is the last thing I want to rely on!
Me "I just need to know if this sounds serious or not"
HCW #2 "I can transfer you..."
Me - click. Because at this point I'd become a bit irrational and extremely upset.
On the one hand, it's late and I'm in my jammies and I don't want to go down to the ER and sit around waiting to be seen only to have them look at my little finger and laugh. But I also don't want to go to bed and slowly bleed to death. And I'm starting to get a bit hypochondriacal and afraid that I'm going to go into shock because my first aid book says that you can go into shock from even an minor injury and if not treated shock can lead to DEATH.
I tried to pull myself together and think "What would the Pioneers do?" Because you know I love doing things like the Pioneers did. And I thought people have been hurt way worse than this in various wars, and survived. I'd just need to bandage it up really good. So I went to the bathroom and started putting band-aids on. First one over the cut, then one to make sure the first one stayed on, then another just in case, and what the heck I have a whole box of band-aids here.
5 bandaids later:
Then I decided to call J. becuase I knew she'd still be up. And when I told her I cut myself her response was not "Let me transfer you." or "It's illegal for me to help you." but rather "Oh no! Are you okay?" which is why I love J. She did a very good job of calming me down. And also reassured me that if I did go to the ER they wouldn't laugh at me. In fact she relayed to me a story of her friend who went to the ER because he'd gotten his I-pod ear bud stuck in his ear and couldn't get it out. And another time he went to the ER thinking he was having an allergic reaction becuase he'd had a rash, but it went away. And that really made me feel better, because at least in my case there was actual blood involved.
I think my problem is that I watch too many hosptial-based TV shows, and I think the only people who go to the ER either have limbs missing, some rare and lethal tropical disease, or a pick-ax stuck in their head. I didn't realize that people went to the ER for minor things like getting an I-pod earbud stuck in their ear.
Anyway after talking to J, I felt significanly better, and no longer thought I was going to bleed to death in my sleep. When I got up in the morning, I showered & took off all the band-aids. I was glad I'd used 5 because I'd actually bled through the first 4. But it looked like it was done bleeding. I cleaned it off a bit, put some antibiotic ointment on it and put a few more band-aids on. I think I'll survive. Here's the gash this morning. I don't think the photo does it justice because it's hard to see how deep the cut is, but you get the idea.
When I told my coworker Nurse J. ( not actually a nurse, but she's planning on it and has taken First Aid & a bunch of anatomy & physiology classes) about it this morning she not only expressed a lot of motherly sympathy "oh you poor thing, your poor little finger" but she explained to me what my white blood cells were doing, and about the inflammatory response. I think Nurse J will be a good Nurse. I just hope the system doesn't ruin her.
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
Now, I realize that not all complaining is entertaining or worthy of congressional inquiry. But sometimes it is helpful. When you complain you can see where things are going wrong in your life. And you need to see what's wrong in your life before you can change it. I think it even helps to complain about the little things in life. I complained a few times about a sales lady at a particular fabric store in town. And after the third time I complained about it, it occurred to me that she really bugs me, and there are a lot of different places to buy fabric in town - so there's no reason for me to go back there. If I hadn't complained, but rather kept my mouth shut, I'd still be going to that store, getting bad service and being cranky about it. Alternately, I could have complained to her, or to the store manager, and the situation may have been corrected that way.
Even better, if I complain publicly about something that's not going well in my life, there's a good chance that I'll get some advice - maybe really good advice. I might learn a new way to deal with the situation, or fix it, or get an alternate perspective on the situation that makes it less upsetting.
I do acknowledge that I am very blessed, and it's important to acknowledge that regularly. Focusing on the positive can really improve my mood, and also direct me towards what I really do like.
There's a lot of pop psychology out right now about thinking positive. The book The Secret claims that thinking positively will change your world due to the 'laws of attraction' - that which you focus on will increase. I don't buy it. I think there are things in this world that you can control, and things you can't. I don't believe that thinking positively is going to cure cancer - or that cancer is the manifestation of 'negative thought patterns'. But then there have been studies showing the effects of prayer / meditation on recovery from illness. So, I guess, think positively, but take your meds too!
Ultimately I think there's a time & place for everything. It's good to vent frustrations and voice complaints. But it's also good to get some perspective and try to focus on the good things in life. Too much of either- bitching & moaning or little miss sunshine-ing can make a person pretty intolerable to be around, IMHO.
Feel free to complain in the comments. But if you're going to complain about my complaining, you must acknowledge the irony. Oh, another favorite complaint of mine - the misuse of the word "Irony"! But don't get me started. ;) :P
Monday, May 21, 2007
And here's the gothic leaf shawl. I've actually finished the first pattern repeat - yay!
So, I really am knitting... it's just that the progress is a lot slower, and honestly lace doesn't look that great until it's finished & blocked.
As I anticipated, the size of my apartment is becoming an issue when putting together my quilt. I tried to lay out the the pieces before sewing the rows together and just couldn't find a place big enough. I tried the bed... with moderate success. I could get the center part down, but not the borders. It was enough to show me how the blocks are going to line up, and to do some switching around so that I don't have two identical blocks next to each other.
It was difficult to get a picture of the entire quilt-to-be. But this is good, because I want it to be a bed-sized quilt, and it's going to shrink up considerably because of the seam allowances.
I think it's coming along though. I stacked up the rows in order and will be sewing them up soon.
Sunday, May 20, 2007
I've been thinking about getting a new machine... but I'm not enthusiastic about that. I went to the sewing machine store and told the guy what I was looking for, (a basic non-computerized machine that's reliable and has plenty of room to fit a quilt through the hole) and said I didn't want to spend more than $500. Then when showing me machines he told me "well what you really want is..." and showed me a $900 computerized machine that was on sale for $700. The fastest way to get me to walk out of your store without buying anything is to tell me that I want to spend more money than I said I did to get something that I said I didn't want. Oh well, I guess I have to do some research online to figure out what I *really* want and what it's going to cost, so I don't have to deal with a sales person at all.
For now at least, this little machine is hanging in there - but I bought it 10 years ago, and it was bottom of the line then... so it really is time for an upgrade.
Saturday, May 19, 2007
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
I started a Feather & Fan shawl for my neice. In pink of course! She keeps borrowing the Cozy I made for my mom, so I thought she could use a shawl of her own.
It's an incredibly easy pattern, so I should be able to make more progress on it than I've been making on the Gothic Leaf Stole. I really need to pay attention to every stitch in the GLS and it takes me quite a while to get through a row, so I don't pick it up to do just a few stitches, I wait until I've got a solid hour or more with no distractions... and that just hasn't happened in a while.
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
I'm excited, I got my student assignment, a woman from eastern Africa (not allowed to share identifying details), and a packet of materials. If she's ready, we'll start meeting this Saturday!
Wish me luck!
Sunday, May 13, 2007
And I've started the light geese with dark backgrounds.
I actually got a lot done this weekend. I'm eager to start putting all the pieces together though. I'm such an impatient crafter. I really enjoy the planning phase, picking out the pattern, sketching out how I want it to look, and picking out the fabrics. But then I just want it done! I mean, I don't want it done as in, I'd just pay someone else to put it together for me, because a lot of the satisfaction I get from crafting is having done something myself. But I guess I get more satisfaction out of having finished it, than I do out of the actual doing.
Saturday, May 12, 2007
And some sparkles... 'cause this one needed some sparkles. :P
Thursday, May 10, 2007
* An Artist Trading Card is kind of like a Baseball Card, only for artists (not that I consider myself an 'artist' but I couldn't resist an excuse to pull out my scissors, magazines & hodge podge). According to Wikipedia, the idea started with the Impressionists, as a way of studying each other's techniques. But it seems like now it's just for creative expression and sharing your art with other artists. The 'rules' at least according to craftster are that they should be 2 1/2" by 3 1/2", and are not to be bought or sold, but only traded for other cards. But beyond that you can use any medium, any theme, any materials. I think I'm going to keep this one, because it's my very first... but I may just make some more to trade.
Wednesday, May 9, 2007
So, I've been looking into volunteering as an English or Reading tutor. I've been working on this since March. Admittedly I'm not as outgoing as some people, so it take s a while for me to work up the nerve to cold-call someone, even when it's, ostensibly, that person's job to talk to would-be volunteers. Anyway the first couple of people I spoke to worked with reading programs for children - SMART & the YMCA homework clubs. I almost signed up with one of them, but then decided I really wanted to work with adults.
One of the coordinators gave me the website of PDX Literacy which works with adults. I filled out their online application, called the information line and found out the next training was in April, and that I could either call a coordinator prior to the training to get set up with a position, or I could wait until after the training. I decided to get a jump on things and emailed the volunteer coordinator, and the training coordinator. Neither one of them responded. I called the volunteer coordinator and left like two messages, and called the training coordinator and left a message with her. Finally I get a message on my home machine from the volunteer coordinator saying that it was spring break and thats why she hadn't called me back. She actually sounded kinda snotty about it - as though I should have known that. But I work for a university, and *I* didn't get spring break off!!! And if I had - I know how to change the outgoing message on my voice mail! Well, I called both of them back - the training coordinator sent me the packet to sign up for the training. the volunteer coordinator, however did not call me back. Are we sensing a trend here?
I went to the training - and as I reported it was incredibly interesting, and further solidified my desire to tutor ESL (or ENNL = English as a non-native language) students. After the first training, I called the coordinator and miracle of miracles actually got her on the phone, but she was about to leave. She apologized for not getting back to me, said she appreciated my enthusiasm, and took down my information to call me back. Which of course never happened. At the second training I talked to someone who'd already observed an ESL class, and had an appointment to meet with her student the next day. I asked her who her coordinator was and decided to try that one instead.
So last Monday I called the second coordinator and left a message. Yet again - no call back. I was beginning to doubt whether this was an actual volunteer organization or just a cover for a covert para-governmental consortium. On the wise advice that if this is how they treat potential volunteers - they are probably not an organization I would enjoy working with, I decided to give up on them altogether and look for some other place to volunteer. I found some information about the Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization (IRCO) and gave them a call this past Monday. As is my luck - the number posted was incorrect. It now belonged to a law-office who knew about IRCO but did not have a current number for them. I also hand an email address- I decided to try that.
And here is where the magic happened. That volunteer coordinator not only responded to my email - he did so *WITHIN TWO HOURS*!! I couldn't even believe it. I called the number in his email, left a message, and he called about an hour later. As if I wasn't in enough shock... he was very nice, and set up an appointment for me to meet with him on Thursday - TOMORROW! I'd spent a month just trying to talk to someone from the other organization - and here I go from first email to an appointment in 4 days! I'm really excited to get together with him - I'll get to observe a class and find out about their training & orientation. He said the training I'd had sounded good, but I'm happy to go to their training just to get a little more familiarity with the techniques I'll need to use. And the absolute best part... the part that I couldn't have even imagined - HE QUILTS!!! When he told me where their office was I mentioned that I knew where it was because of the fabric store nearby. We started gabbing about our quilting projects - it was really fun. If that's not kismit I don't know what is. He sent me the volunteer application & asked for some references - so that's all in the works.
By Tuesday I was really excited about this opportunity and feeling much better about getting the shaft from the other volunteer coordinators, and the fact that I'd given up two Saturdays in a row for them and still hadn't gotten a call back (not that I'm bitter). In one of those weird quirks of the universe, you can guess what happened next. I got to work today and had a message on my voice mail. It's the second coordinator from the first place calling me back & wanting to talk about me volunteering there. :P I intend to call her back - because I think it would be rude not to. But I won't be doing it any time soon!
I'm really excited about meeting with Mr. Quilterman tomorrow (at 8:30am urgh!)and I will tell you all about it.
Monday, May 7, 2007
I don't care if Snape (professor Snape) works for the Order or not. He's just a jerk. I don't have a problem with him giving Harry detentions or taking points for his misbehavior. McGonagal does it too - she's very strict but at least she's fair. I'm not even that upset about what he did at the end of book 6. Whatever his motives for doing what he did - it was man to man.
The thing I hate is the petty way he picks on Harry - from the very first day they met. I hate the way he ascribes intention and motive to Harry's actions. It's so unfair for him to assume he knows why Harry behaves the way he does. And the fact that this grown man is holding a grudge against a young boy simply because he hated his father - that's just so immature. I mean get over it already! I can hold a grudge with the best (worst) of them... but even I know when to give it a rest.
I hope he kicks it in the last book. :P
Sunday, May 6, 2007
Here's a close up of her chrome. She's such a trouper, can mix the stiffest doughs, the fluffiest merrangues, the creamiest potatos. She's wonderful.
Today we're making focaccia from the Bread Bakers Apprentice.* He says to drizzle herb infused olive oil over the top of the bread prior to baking, but I like adding a bit of Rosemary (fresh - but from the store... my little plant still hasn't recovered from what I clipped last year!) to the dough even before it rises. It's a two-day recipe, so I mixed the dough yesterday, and let it ferment in the fridge overnight. I also used a little bit, about a cup, of wheat flour - you know 'cause I like to live dangerously. ;) I used sea-salt instead of regular salt, and the dough tastes a bit salty. I'm not sure if it's because sea salt is a finer grain & thus more ends up in a teaspoon than regular salt, or if I made one of my classic mistakes using a tablespoon when I was supposed to use a teaspoon. I don't think I did. In any case, I used the same spoon when I measured out the yeast - so it should be okay. It actually rose quite a bit in the fridge. Now I've got to leave it out for about three hours before shaping it & panning it. Um... well... according to the recipe I was supposed to do that part yesterday and then refridgerate it once panned. But, you know... living recklessly again.
It's going to make a LOT of dough, I'll split it, and make one pizza and one pan of focaccia. Maybe I'll bring the focaccia to work tomorrow. Don't you wished you worked with me? You don't, by the way, you really really don't.
* Side note about the Bread Bakers Apprentice. There's a part in the cookbook where he absolutely rhapsodises about THE GREATEST BREAD IN THE UNIVERSE, I mean, the story involves a man throwing a baguette against the wall and the phrase "you've ruined me" (for all other breads). Anyway, the story cracks me up, but it also made me curious about THE BEST BREAD IN THE UNIVERSE which of course comes from a bakery in Paris. So when I was in Paris last year I tracked down the bakery. It involved a few different metro transfers & wandering down a decidedly non-touristy business & shopping district. The bakery was, seriously, just a hole in the wall (although a very fancy hole in a very expensive looking wall) down a side street. When I went in there were no other customers! Just four very stern looking older French women wearing aprons and looking... well like they weren't going to want to hear my story about the cookbook and the guy throwing the other bread against the wall, and did they know which bread I was talking about? So I glanced around for a bit and ordered their Pain Poilane (the baker's speciality), not THE BEST BREAD IN THE UNIVERSE. The Pain Poilane (aka pain ordinaire was in fact a 7 lb round - had to be at least a 14" in diameter. It's supposed to feed a family for a week. It was really really tasty. Like a whole-wheat mild sourdough. It has an amazingly complex flavor considering all he uses is flour, water, salt & yeast. But I won't bore you with the science of bread making. Just wanted to leave you with the mental picture of me on my return trip to Gorgeous's apartment carying a giant loaf of bread in a bright pink tote bag.
I miss Paris.
Saturday, May 5, 2007
In honor of I Can Has Cheezburger:
I can has soda with mah cheezburger.
Shhhh.... now I'm sleeeeping
I actually had the pattern for a Gothic Leaf Stole - from a pattern-a-day calendar, but I've lost it somehow. So I'm just using Mary Webb's stitch dictionary, adding a few rows of garter stitch at the bottom and on either side. That should get me somewhere.
I'm using Elann's Highland Silk in the color Oxblood, and size 8 needles.
Friday, May 4, 2007
Here's a closeup of the purply bit. Beeee-uuuu-teee-fuul!
How to make three triangles out of two squares and a rectangle:
Pin the first square to half the rectangle - then sew it from corner to corner.
Then you fold back that side, and attach the other square. It's also a good idea to clip the excess fabric at this point, so the seams don't get too bulky.
Press the second side open and press with a hot iron.
Voila! A geese. ;)
Here's a first look at how some of the different fabrics look together. I had a few "oh maude what have I done" moments looking at the combinations of fabrics one on one. I'm betting on two principles to make this work: 1. Red and Pink really do go together (if this is proved wrong, I'm in trouble!) and 2. If I use enough different shades of red & pink, even if two fabrics clash with each other, they'll match enough other fabrics that they won't stand out too badly. That's the hope anyway, we'll see how it all works out.
I spent a couple of hours of pinning & sewing & pressing & clipping last night and I managed to complete 17 geese. I need 176. Wish me luck!
Thursday, May 3, 2007
Here is my tiny front garden, complete with compost bin. There are aproximately 700 million worms in this little patch of earth. Or at least that's what it looked like when I was planting the flowers. In the front there's some kind of ground cover that I don't know the name of, there are a couple Primroses that I planted when I first moved in, and then more recently planted Hostas, Impatiens, and a couple of ferns. There's a rose back there too, it's a bit pitiful though, I only get one or two good blooms a year.
Here is one of the Impatiens, a shade lover that should be pretty happy there. I've got to find a few more shade-loving plants to fill in the gaps here & there. If you haven't noticed... the master plan behind my garden is "stuff I hope doesn't die".
And the magic of the flower setting of my camera - makes the tiny flowers on the ground cover look quite spectacular. =)
Here's a close-up of the side garden. Another itty-bitty well shaded plot. You can see that there are Tulips, Daffodils, and a nice Lavendar shrub. There's also a bit of Sage, Savory, Mint (which actually *died* over the winter - didn't know you could kill mint!), and a straggly little Rosemary. I was hoping that would take off, but like the majority of plants I love - it requires sunshine. Some silly thing about photosynthesis I guess. ;)
Anyway that's my garden.
Wednesday, May 2, 2007
(I can't figure out how to make that link prettier - hint anyone?) Thanks Jessica!
Here's one I've been using lately. The proportions are off a bit. But they are easy to make, and handy to have around, so I'll keep practicing until I get the perfect bag.
I didn't end up knitting last night. I went to the fabric store to pick up another yard of fabric for my quilt. The short-cut flying geese pattern involves a fair amount of wasted fabric. I have mixed feelings about that. But, it saves a lot of time, and when I have to make 176 geese, I'm in favor of that. Tonight I can start pinning peices together and maybe sewing a couple of blocks. Let's all hope my sewing machine cooperates!