Thursday, February 25, 2010

Climate Crisis!

When I came home for lunch, today, I noticed some changes in the yard. I thought it would be a good opportunity for some photo-practice, so I grabbed the camera. It turns out that I need guidance, as well as practice, because most of my shots were 'delete worthy'. I did get this shot of the North end of a Southbound bee, though...

He was hard at work pollinating the blooms on the plum tree.

The best thing about living in the desert is spring in February!


When I returned to work, I had an email from Dearest Sister , warning me that our girls from the East might not be able to join the party as planned! Apparently a snow storm is bearing down on them and the airport has already put them on notice that their flight might not happen!

On Sunday, I caught a snippet of a radio program on NPR while I was running errands. It was an interview with some sort of expert onword usage. The discussion was on the evolution of the terms for the wild weather that seems to be getting more common.

He discussed the transition from 'global warming' (not accurate, as some places are having record cold) to 'climate change' (too benign - 'change can be good for us') and now, apparently to 'climate crisis' (more of an alarm!).

My world is having a climate crisis.

As in 'what good is beautiful weather, if the people can't get here to enjoy it!'

Dsis, and I plan to travel East with the girls and Man Friend on Monday to enjoy the rest of the week in their world. I guess I should take a coat...

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Different Priorities

The Mister and I prepare for guests with emphasis in different areas. I try to make sure the linens are all ready and the bathrooms are clean. He paints the garage floor and re-finishes the coffee table.

He also shampoos the carpet and dusts the furniture and knick-knacks (of which we would have zero, if he were in charge of knick-knackery!) I am very grateful, since dusting is one of those chores that I would put off forever. Of course, it is more satisfying when the dust has built up to a rich, thick layer! Unfortunately, in the desert, that takes about a week.

Now that we are on the home stretch of getting preparations complete, I am really getting excited about seeing everyone! We haven't had this many of us get together in a very long time...

Sunday, February 21, 2010


I kept thinking that I would finish my weekend chores (the big shebang is now 6 days away, and company begins to arrive in 4!) and be able to do something interesting to tell you about. If I had stuck to the list, it probably would have turned out that way. But, I got carried away.

We were on track, but then I decided that I was sick to death of the 1991 mauve and pink valances in the living room and dining room. So, The Mister took them down, while I ran to Tuesday Morning to find something to replace them with. And, instead of just steam cleaning the grout around the floor tile, I decided to steam the kitchen tile (counter tops) and bathroom tile.

Then, we decided to re-arrange the living room furniture for better 'flow'.

I am going to bed shortly, with the books from the bookcase stacked on the floor, the dining room table covered in miscellany, a ladder in the living room.

I also got eight quarts of strawberries cut up and ready to freeze. They weren't on the list, but they were on sale!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Fun Facts and New Skills

Yesterday, I learned a couple of things.

First, over my morning coffee and feeding the kitties, I was reading the comics in the newspaper (we used to call them 'the funnies' - one of those terms that just looks strange when you write it...) Two different comic strips used a word that I did not know, and that I couldn't figure out by the context.


You probably knew it. It means werewolf. I know it now, after I looked it up.

Usually, the only words in the newspaper that I don't know are in the the New York Times crossword. I can usually do the puzzle up through Wednesday and sometimes Thursday. But Saturday? I am lucky to get one or two! ( I quickly scanned the rest of the funnies to see if it was lycanthropy day and I just hadn't gotten the memo!)

The other thing that that I learned was that speed skater Shani Davis was the inspiration for the design of Frozone, in Disney's "The Incredibles!" I love that movie! Holly Hunter has been one of my favorite actresses, ever since I first saw her in "Raising Arizona". And I never miss an opportunity to listen to Sarah Vowell. Now, when I look at Shani on TV, I see Frozone!

And I am furthering my rudimentary knitting skills!

I found this skein of Brown Sheep Company wool in a bag of assorted yarn at the thrift store. Black is a bit challenging, when trying to correct mistakes, but I have only had to take out two rows, so, not too bad! I think I have another skein of cream colored Brown Sheep wool, that I may use for the accent color.

I lightened up the photos a bit to show the progress a little better. After I master the art of increasing and decreasing (where the pattern calls for it, and not just 'hey, I have more/less stitches than I started with') I may do a more complex garment next! The book has patterns for a full wardrobe!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Time Has Come... end the dishcloth marathon! I have decided that I must expand my repertoire to include... something else. I don't wear hats (since I come from the planet Bignoggin) and I don't need mittens. I don't have enough nice yarn for a shawl that I would use, and socks... well, I don't think I am ready for socks.

I have narrowed it down to traditional slippers, made by knitting two pieces that are sewn together.

Not that I don't already have a lovely pair of felted slippers. No, my goal is to learn how to read a pattern and follow directions.

And to have a small project that I can easily tuck away, since all my other 'stuff' has been put away until after the shebang that is less than two weeks away!

I could continue with dishcloths, but I have been inspired by watching the Olympics, to try something new, to take a risk. After all, it's not like I am hurtling down a mountain at 80 miles an hour. If I screw up, I will just go back to dishcloths!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Romper Room Stories - Illustrated!

I am pleased to report that I accomplished the shebang preparations that were on the list for this past weekend. A good thing, since I only have two weekend days left to prepare.

While I was tidying and cleaning, I came across a paperback book, titled "Read-Aloud Romper Room Stories". I am thinking that it came to me through one of the usual avenues - estate auction, garage sale, etc and it is not in great shape. Many of the pages are loose, but that made it easier to share some of the illustrations! The title page was missing, so I do not know if the illustrator was credited, but the pictures are very charming.

I think that there are many stitching projects amongst them!

I love these trees! From 'The Evergreens', a fable of why the evergreens get to keep their needles through the winter.
This little bug is from "The Green Grass" (grew all around). It was just a tiny illustration at the bottom of the page.
This is Froggy Gone A'courting.
This is from The Brave Little Steam Shovel. Love the fins on the cars!
This illustrated "A Funny Story".

I scanned about thirty of the illustrations. I will add them to my Flikr stream in the next day or two as I get them cleaned up. There are some cuties!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Goose Bumps and Patriotism

Don't you just love Canada?

What great people and what a great neighbor!

I always get goose bumps, watching the opening ceremony of the Olympic games. But as impressive as the Chinese were last summer, there was just a small thought that kept intruding that if any of the players 'screwed up' their life might be 'changed' forever!

With Canada, you just know that no one was harmed in the making of this spectacle!

I hope they win the hockey gold!

(Don't tell The Mister I said that...)

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Homeland Security

I am embarrassed to admit that we have the last 'unsecured' wireless network in the neighborhood. It seems that some of our neighbors, who do not have a network at all, are using ours. Maybe they don't even know that it is ours. Maybe they have guests who are logging onto the internet, assuming that they are using their host's services. At any rate, at times, it has become nearly unusable, it is so slow.

So, we have decided that action is necessary.

Today, The Mister spent over an hour on the phone with 'Sheila' in Bombay trying to learn how to secure our network. Between poor hearing and not having an ear for accents, he did not get very far.

I know a lot of computer technicians, since I am the HR manager in a technical call center (helpdesk).

Fortunately, it is not in Bombay...

I do my (non-technical) work amongst about 300 computer geeks, gamers and techno-heads every day. I am not a technical person, although I try to 'cover' when I am interviewing people for the job. (Thankfully, that is usually a tag-team event with one of the technical department managers). And, I have picked up a few tips (mostly just the lingo, though. "Please hold for one to two minutes, while I access my resources" and "Is the device plugged into the power source?")

I am pretty sure that I could find someone with the know-how to assist us.

But. If I were to ask one of them, they would have questions. For instance,

helper geek:"what kind of router do you have?"

me: "a computer one"

helper geek, "does it have a (something or another that I have no idea about)"

me: "maybe..."

And, I feel awkward asking. If feels like I am using company resources for personal use. Something that I have been told not to do for over 22 years (23 years, one week from today!)

So, besides everything else on the to-do list this weekend, I will try to reach Sheila, or one of her coworkers, and try to educate myself on securing wireless routers.

Or, maybe I will wait and see if any of our house guests (coming in just 4 weekend days!) will take pity on us and help us figure it out!

I am guessng they will, if they want to use our network!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Vintage Embroidery Patterns - Part II

This is the rest of the patterns from the vintage sheet. I must confess an error, though. When I went back to the pattern sheet, I realized it is marked Serial No. 1944. I suppose it could be from that year, but I think it could be earlier. The only other marks are "made in U.S.A.". The motifs are not all related, but there are a couple of themes. Curiously, one motif seems to be Jack and Jill, but that is the only nursery rhyme one, unless the rest are from some of those 'lesser known' rhymes...

Is there a rhyme about a monkey pushing a drunk clown in a cart?

I apologize for the shoddy work on cleaning these up. But, I have other 'cleaning' obligations, currently!

Edited to add: These designs can be found in my Flikr set here.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Vintage Embroidery Patterns

This weekend, I have been concentrating on getting the house ready for guests and a party in three weeks. I only have four weekend days left, before the event, so I have a list of things that I want to get done by the end of each weekend.

This weekend, the goal was to get the guest rooms ready. The main guest room doesn't usually take much to get ready for visitors. We don't use it for anything else, so just clean linens was all it needed.

The upstairs guest room is a different story! During my vacation a couple of weeks ago, A and I went through a lot of the boxes, so there is more room, but there were dregs of all that sorting that needed to be taken care of.

The third guest room will be my studio -which tends to be the place that things go, when I don't know where else to put them. So, lots of organizing, condensing, sorting, etc will be necessary before I can offer it to anyone as accommodation. On the one hand, I enjoy the opportunity to re-acquaint myself with the contents of various boxes and storage totes. But about six dozen ideas for projects came to mind while I was going through things!

It was quite a chore to keep focus on the task at hand!


So, I decided to share some embroidery patterns with you. These were on a sheet that came from my grandmother's sewing things. It is marked 1944, but I don't know who issued it. It is a transfer, so they are made to be reversed.

I hope you had more fun that I did, this weekend!

(These designs can be found in my Flikr set here.)

Friday, February 5, 2010

Vintage Mags

I was browsing through a box of Ms A's vintage needlework mags and this photo caught my eye!
Hey! I know that pattern! Set a bit differently here, it has a completely different look!

This photo is from the 1979 Better Homes and Gardens Needlework and Craft magazine. Star quilt patterns are hardly unusual, but I thought it was a coincidence that this particular pattern swam through my consciousness twice in the same week!

I also came across a 'new' embroidery motif. (New as in, "one I haven't seen a dozen times at antique malls or estate sales!")

This is a pattern from a 1947-48 "McCall Needlework" magazine, listed under "towels in tune with the times". Two years after the formation of the United Nations, these patterns suggest 'vegetable delegates' to assist at your dish-drying conference.

I think the 'Chinese Cabbage' is kind of cute, but I don't think these patterns really caught on.

Maybe politics and embroidery, don't mix!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Power of Wool

I love wool. Some people don't. The Mister, for instance cannot sleep under wool (which I discovered after I found the most wonderful, like new, king sized, Hudson Bay blanket at an estate sale for $60...) I can rarely pass by a wool blanket in a thrift store, even the ones that are not perfect. And generally, they are priced pretty low, especially here, in the desert!

Lately, I have been finding commemorative wool throws.

Like this one...

...from the Anaheim Memorial Hospital.

It appears to be pretty new (certainly 'like new') and I haven't found any moth damage. I have a similar red one that commemorates a contractor's association meeting in the early '90s, also a mustard colored one that celebrates a factory safety milestone at Proctor and Gamble. And and many, many plaid ones.

Of course, since wool blankets are pretty sturdy, and don't really get 'used up, I have an abundance.

Lately, I have had a synergy of thought regarding felted wool. Dearest Sister sent me lovely felted wool slippers that I have been wearing everyday. And some weeks ago, Paula -The Quilter - posted here about re-cycling felted sweaters into mittens. I was mulling around trying my hand at felting a blanket and stitching up some slippers. I have a couple of blankets that were already felted from washing improperly when I got them, so I was thinking that I could use one of those for trial and error.

Yesterday, I came across this pattern in a 1979 Better Homes and Garden Needlework magazine:

It is made from an army blanket (not felted), which are bigger than my throws, but I think I could combine a couple of throws to make it work. The instructions were in the back of the magazine, including a pattern on a grid to enlarge.

I won't be starting any new projects for awhile - too many things on the calendar that require my attention, just now. But, now I won't have to feel guilty the next time I can't pass up a bargain wool blanket. Cause, you know, I'm going to make stuff with them...

Monday, February 1, 2010

Two Beautiful Bargains

As we have been sorting through things over the past several weeks, I came across this quilt that I found on a trip to Prescott, AZ a couple of years ago. It was in one of the many antique stores off the historic and quaint town square. I think if I had to choose a place in the southwest to live, it would be Prescott. It is just high enough in elevation to have four seasons and a really lovely town.

When we got home, this quilt was put away and I really hadn't thought much about it, until we started sorting through things in the past couple of weeks. It is a good sized quilt, shown here on a queen sized bed, and it is hand pieced and hand quilted.

And it was sold to me for $50, as a 'cutter' quilt!

I love the color combinations in the blocks and the color pattern in the block placement. (The jade greens look grey in the photo, but in person, they are lovely!)

The reds are very bright! I love red and white in quilts!

I think that I have some reproduction fabric that is almost identical to the star point fabric in this block.

The back is a bright green and may have been a sheet. It has that wonderful smoothness of vintage cotton sheets. The bright red binding is also in good condition.

What makes it a cutter?

This block. This red print has not held up over time.
And in this pink block, the fabric of the star, is very faded.

Admittedly, the lightest colors in the center are not as bright as the rest of the quilt, but truly, these are the only two blocks that are not in what I consider good condition. I am thinking that I might try to repair the red block, at least. I have lots of red and white fabric, so I think I can find a good 'fit'. I am not sure about the pink one.

This quilt may not be an heirloom quilt, but it has lots of mileage still in it!

On another topic -

This is my Harry and David, after Christmas clearance, amaryllis!

Also, a beautiful bargain!