Friday, May 30, 2008



I know I am supposed to think of these as enemies of the yard, but I can't help but kind of like them. It seems I am not the only one, since there is a Fickr group dedicated to the Taraxacum officinale (as I come to find out they are classified). Who knew?

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Another Meme!

Sharon tagged me with a Meme I've seen going around. I really like Memes, they are a fun way of getting to know folks better, and of finding out about blogs you might not have known about otherwise. A fun community building thingie. Plus, I don't have to admit I have nothing, aside from a sad story, to show for the weekend (oh, wait....)

So. The rules: Posted here at the beginning. The player answers all questions. The player then chooses six people you want to know more about and tags those people by listing their names at the end of the post and going to their blog and leaving a comment, letting them know they've been tagged and asking them to read your blog. Also, you let the person who tagged you know when you've posted your answer.

1. What was I doing 10 years ago? I am terrible at timelines, usually the only way I remember where I was at any given time is to look at my resume (which I don't seem to have anymore). I'm pretty sure I was living in White Pigeon, Michigan (a teeny town in southwest Michigan), I learned to knit in 1997, which must mean I took a weaving class at the Kalamazoo Art Museum that year (though it could have been 1996). Some people will be very surprised to know that I was very involved in the White Pigeon United Methodist Church at that time (my mother was the pastor). Around that time, I was dating a guy named Lance. He was not a very good boyfriend.

2. What are five things on my to-do list today (in no particular order)? I have a yoga class in about 15 minutes. I need to post some (not very interesting) articles on the work blog. I need to do some cataloging (how I wish I could pass that off to a work study, but no..). Gardening stuff. Finish a blouse I've been sewing (the only thing I actually want to do!)

3. What snacks to I enjoy? I am a big fan of starch (the Atkins diet would kill me). And salt. And fat. Meijers has a brand of tortilla chip, Matador, which fulfills all of those (unless they forget to salt them, which happens). I love Matadors. I guess I know where I'm going after work today, 'cos we're out.

4. Where are some places I've lived? Plymouth, Michigan (until I was 8), Ann Arbor, France (exchange program after High School, in some ways I was too immature to appreciate the experience), Seattle (Ballard, specifically), White Pigeon and Constantine. And now Grass Lake. I very much prefer the country to the city.

5. What things would I do if I were a billionaire? I would establish a Social Work scholarship at Western Michigan University in my mother's name and a liberal arts scholarship in my father's name at the University of Michigan. Retire. Buy a new car for me. A classic truck and a Daytona Triumph for Len. Keeping those running would take care of a significant portion of Len's time and a billion dollars, so there you go.

Who to tag? Stef, of course (you can box me about the ears later), Helen (at Chronic Knitting Syndrome), Tea, MichMash, and Barb S. (bspinner). Ok, that's just five, but oh well..

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

A Sad Tale

A cat started hanging around our house this weekend. Len had seen it before at the house across the street, the owners of the house (who rent the house out, but are often there because they keep horses) said they were feeding the cat, but it was otherwise homeless. On Saturday, it came to us. We think new tenants moved in with some intimidating dogs, and the cat decided to find new digs.

The poor thing was in very bad shape. The cat was starving, had some sort of abscess on its face, nad something gross on its neck (probably a tick, it disappeared at some point), but it was very friendly and needing love in the worst possible way. And he certainly knew a couple of suckers when he sniffed us out.
Len immediately named the cat "Gary" (despite not knowing the creature's gender). We set out food and water, Len made a bed in the garage. You know this can only end badly.

We have four cats, and have a hard enough time dealing with them (especially since Judy and Fred still want to kill each other), so there is no way we have the resources, financially or otherwise, to cope with another. I thought our friend Hal might be willing to take the cat, if we helped offset the vet bills. I also thought I would check with the Humane Society to see if they had any suggestions -- they do not appear to be set up to deal with homeless cats (they deal with adoptions and have a feral cat spay/neuter program), but I thought they might have some ideas of what to do about a rescue. I sent an e-mail since they are closed on Mondays, and figured I would call our vet on Tuesday (today).

Some time after sending the e-mail, I went outside, and found Len walking back from the road with a dead animal. I was hoping it was a small raccoon, but it was Gary. We only knew him for a couple of days, but he was such a sweet, pathetic sad guy, we can't help but be a little heartbroken. If nothing else, I hope we made his last few days a little more comfortable.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Blue Building


I love the blue building. It used to be drab gray, but a year or so ago, one side of it got cosmetic surgery. Now, it has interesting shades of blue, it reflects clouds, and best yet, the blue reflects off of the windows in the building across the street (which makes it look more interesting).

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Actual Fibery Content

It's been awhile, hasn't it?


First, let me say that I am NOT, I repeat NOT, jumping into a new craft. No. This will be a one time only deal. One of my co-workers is retiring in June after 20+ years, so another co-worker and I are working on a book of photos and memories. Lora is rather crafty (and I have been a good/bad influence), so I thought it would be very nice to make a fabric covered book. Not that I know how to make a fabric covered book (I think it would be fun to actually bind the thing myself, but no one has even acknowledged that I've said such a thing, so I'm taking that as a sign). Then a friend of mine brought in a quilt book (another craft I do not intend to take up), and it has a Sew Fabric On Cardstock To Make a Lovely Book type pattern (I think the title was a bit shorter). Obviously I was struck with an overwhelming urge to sew fabric onto cardstock.

Stitching on Back

I might need some practice. Also nicer fabric. My co-conspirator in this endeavor has decided that we will take whatever lovely cover I manage to create and paste it onto a blank cover, answering the question of What To Do About That Ugly Back. Also we will take it to the local copy shop to be bound, since she is the one not acknowledging my insane desire to bind the thing myself. She is very smart.

Purple Cardigan

Cat hair cover knitting! Yay! It seems I started this top-down cardigan last September, I've just started a sleeve. Not much to say about it really, except I wish it was done because I have all of these lovely sleeveless dresses and it is too freakin' cold to wear them! A lovely cotton cardigan would be just the ticket.

Exposaroonie Weekly Challenge

Yesterday, Stef (who finds some of the craziest things on the web) pointed out Exposaroonie, which hosts a weekly photo challenge. I'm all about being a sheep (in this case, of the blindly following variety, rather than the pre-sweater variety) and duly submitted this picture:

Pink and Blue Clouds

This must have been taken at the end of the session from the other day, in the moments before sunset in the opposite direction of this picture, which is facing southeast.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Safety Zone

Safety Zone

This is at the end of a road I drive down on my way to work.


I remember hearing a story some years ago about these roadside memorials. As I recall, the tradition of marking the scene of a loved one's death began in Mexico and was brought to the U.S. by immigrants. Amazingly, I found the story in NPR's archive. I don't notice these in cities, but there are quite a number of them where we live. This one is just down the road a bit from the above picture; I think there is another, smaller cross hidden in the grass, which makes me wonder if two people died here and if it was in the same accident.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Pretty Pictures

Just some pretty pictures today...


Straw Flower


Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Now for Something Pretty

We need something pretty after that little rant. How about some wild geraniums?



I love the simplicity of these flowers.

I'm Annoyed

Some of you might wonder why this is different than any other time, and you might be right.

We woke up this morning to the news that Clinton took the West Virginia primary by 2 to 1. That isn't what annoys me, it was expected and doesn't change much. No, what ticks me off is that 20% of Clinton voters said that race was a factor in their decision (the last paragraph). Which is bad enough, but Clinton is using this win to bolster her "electibility" to the super delegates. To me, that just smacks of pandering to the worst element in our society.

Wait. That doesn't annoy me. That pisses me off.

Maybe give those folks enough credit to vote against their prejudice rather than pandering to it? Or if you don't feel optimistic, does she really think that people who won't vote for a black man, will vote for a woman?

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Ironing Board Covers!

Ms. Distraction spilled the beans yesterday: we made ironing board covers! I know, very exciting, but if your cover sucks, a lousy job* is so much worse. Ironing is so much more fun with cherries (or gin).

A few weeks ago, Stef sent me a link to an ironing board cover tutorial on Marmadaisy (a blog to which I am now addicted, thanks!) and we decided it would be fun project to do together.

Old Cover

Here is the old cover for my larger board. At some point it got stained with what looks like Kool-Aid. It's laid out on Stef's board, but it doesn't fit mine either. Stef and her husband have dubious taste, and think the fabric is wonderful. I think it is stupid.

Small Cover

This is the old cover for my smaller board, which I use while sewing. It is very dirty. And boring.

Getting Ready

Both boards came with lousy padding, so I made new ones out of cotton batting.

Cut out

I used pinking shears to cut them out, rather than finishing in a more labor intensive way (like zig-zagging and trimming).

And here are my much more cheerful ironing boards:

Cherry Ironing Board

Little Ironing Board

We had a great time and the only swearing on my part had to with sewing machine mishaps. It turns out, using someone else's (much better) machine is a lot like driving someone else's car -- you can't figure out how to turn on the lights and reverse is more mysterious. Also, you might decide you need a new car and/or sewing machine.

*Fairly soon after we moved in together, a friend of Len's died. I overheard him talking to another friend about what he would wear to the funeral: "I have some khakis and a shirt, but they need to be ironed... No, I wouldn't be with a woman who has an iron." Hahaha!! I always forgets that he moved in with a girl.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Books and a New CD

My plan was to show you a project Stef (over to Distracted Muse) and I did together. But I didn't manage to get pictures of one of the pieces, so instead I will give you a tiny taste:

Mystery Project

Obviously, it involved sewing. Also some swearing (though not nearly as much as my buttonhole adventure, but that is also a tale for another day).

I finished Animal, Vegetable, Miracle some time ago. I enjoyed most of it (especially the tomato and turkey sections), but felt it got a bit preachy in the end. I suppose that was to be expected, since it was a summation of the arguments she had been making throughout. I do think it is very worth reading, especially if you like food and are interested in where it comes from.

Once I finished, I was onto Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen. I love Austen and have read most of her books at least twice, but hadn't gotten to this one. Northanger was her first completed novel, but was published posthumously (it had been bought by a publisher but allowed to languish for many years). What an adorable book! Her voice was still very young, but she was already playing around with her major themes (class, marriage, stupid people). It is very funny, though not as biting a satire as Pride and Prejudice, and very exuberant.

Now I'm onto The Great Gatsby, which I haven't read since high school. I remember that my teacher loved this book -- which goes a long way to making required reading a better experience -- but I'm not sure I really understood it, and I've been wanting to read it again for a while.

A new CD. If you are a pop culture nerd, as Len and I are, you may know who Zooey Deschanel is. If not, she is Will Ferrell's love interest in Elf? No? Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy? Trust me, she is adorable and in Len-Lee speak, she is also known as "That google-eyed girl". Anyway, the point is that she put out an album recently with M. Ward (who I've never heard of) under the name of "She & Him". Unlike some other actor-"singer" projects (i. e. Bruce Willis, Eddie Murphy, Don Johnson), this one is really quite good. She has a quirky voice and a vintage 1960's girl-pop sensibility. It is such a sweet album: download "Sentimental Heart" and "I Should Have Known Better" (a goofy, hula version of the Beatles song) to see what I mean.

I just got a 40% off of CDs coupon and will use it to check out the Wailin' Jennies. Sharon has recommended them a few times so I think I better give them a listen. Plus, what a great name! I am a linear notes junkie -- I like to see who plays with who, who's producing, and even geekier, who the band thanks -- so I tend to buy albums rather than downloading (unless I own the LP already).

Friday, May 09, 2008

Pretty Red Flower

The only pictures I took at the memorial last week were of a gerber daisy. I don't really have an explanation, except that it is a pretty flower but I didn't want anyone getting ideas that I would take pictures of anyone or anything else.


So just the Gerber.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

New Skirt!

I managed to get exactly one picture of my new skirt before my camera batteries pooped and needed to be revived. As usual, it is not a great picture, but not so bad either:

Barcelona Skirt

This is Amy Butler's Barcelona Skirt, in her Midwest Modern Garden Maze Olive. The color in the above picture are truer than the swatch at I had to install an invisible zipper, which was. Interesting. I do not have an invisible zipper foot (which, the zipper package claims, is necessary for correct installation), so I hightailed it up to Big-Box-Craft-and-Fabric (BBCF) store in Jackson. Their fabric and sewing section is huge. I went to what looked to be a very large selection of feet* and was asked if I need help. I told the woman I needed an invisible zipper foot for my Brother sewing machine, and was informed, rather snootily, that BBCF only carries Viking and Singer. Perhaps I would find what I am looking for at Walm@rt. Honestly. I was pretty amazed that someone working at BBCF could be so snooty about it given the amount of polyester they carry**. Whatever. I found a tutorial for inserting an invisible zipper with a regular zipper foot, and it worked reasonably well (despite the lack of pictures, because of crummy dial-up).

*Don't you love craft vocabulary?
**The folks at BBCF in Ann Arbor are much nicer and not at all snotty.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Crab Apple Blossoms

Crab Apple

We had a crab apple tree in the back yard of one of my childhood homes. I remember thinking when it bloomed it had to be the most beautiful thing in the world.

Shetland Lace Scarf

I lied a little bit. I hoped I would have time to take pictures of the dress and skirt, but, secretly, I suspected I would not. I did manage to get pictures of the scarf.

Shetland Scarf

This is the Shetland scarf from the Interweave Holidays Special Issue (evidence of which seems to have disappeared from the website). The yarn is "100% Domny Wool" (whatever that is) and was bought to knit a specific sweater some years after I started knitting, but apparently before I clued into gauge, since the pattern calls for DK and this is clearly not.

Anyway. I knitted and unknitted the first end of this scarf many, many times before finally getting it right. I didn't have to knit and unknit the second end quite so many times (but because I am me, I did have to rip a few times).


It is a pretty little scarf. The long portion is just interesting enough to keep me from wanting to poke out my eyes, but simple enough to do while watching even the most engrossing TV*. The scarf was knit for a fund raiser here at work, so it is now out of my hands.

*By which I mean Quantum Leap, which has been playing on some cable network. What a completely stupid, heavy handed, idiotic show. I'm completely addicted. Clearly I am not well.

Monday, May 05, 2008

A New Shuffle

I started this post early last week, and tried to finish it in between getting that massive display ready. Obviously, it didn't quite work out. I'm at home today and on very creaky dial up (I tried to reply to an e-mail, and couldn't get a reply window to open), so I didn't do any links to the last three songs.

When I get back to the land of high speed internet I will have to show you: another dress, a skirt, and a scarf (for a fundraiser).

I just deleted some stuff and loaded a couple of new (to the iPod) albums onto my teeny, tiny player (a 2 gig Nano), which means it's time for a new shuffle!

1. Everyday People - Sly and the Family Stone (downloaded from iTunes)

I have to admit to not being a fan of funk, so most of Sly's catalog leaves me cold. But I just love this song, which isn't funk at all. I adore Rose Stone's voice and the chantiness of her sections, and full soulfulness of the rest of it. Lyrically, it is so utterly 1968, but the song itself is completely timeless.

2. In the Highways - The Peasall Sisters - O Brother Where Art Thou?

My love for this soundtrack makes me feel a bit middle aged. It was such a huge smash round these parts, it got co-opted for everything, including a regular event at the Ark (a folk music venue in Ann Arbor), which made it seem so very clich
e. However, you can't argue with good music (or movie for that matter, I adore this movie). This song is pretty adorable, sung by a group of girls with cute nasaly voices.

3. Forever and Ever, Amen - Randy Travis - Greatest #1 Hits

What can I say? I love me some Randy Travis. Nothing deep or complex about him, but his voice is gorgeous and very deep. When I want some slightly cheeseball country music, Randy's my guy. This song is particularly sweet: "I'm gonna love you forever, forever and ever amen/As long as old men sit and talk about the weather/as long as old women sit and talk about old men/If you wonder how long I'll be faithful/I'll be happy to tell you again/I'm gonna love you forever and ever, forever and ever, amen."

4. Sheena Is A Punk Rocker - The Ramones - Loud Fast

One of my great regrets in life is that when I was the right age to love punk, I was too much of a wuss. Now that I'm 40, I'm still too much of a wuss. Too bad, because I love the idea of punk, kids, with or without music ability, getting together to scream away on guitars, drums and ruin vocal cords and ear drums. I do find punk listenable when it hooks into rockabilly, as the Ramones do here. This is a quite a cheerful punk song.

5. Midnight Jam - Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros - Streetcore

Joe Strummer, originally of The Clash, of course. Strummer died of a heart defect in 2002, this song, according to Wikipedia, didn't have a vocal track recorded, and uses samples from radio interviews.

6. Here I Am - Patty Loveless - When Fallen Angels Fly

This is such a heartbreaking song, full of sorrow and regret. It is really what Country music does best. "And honey, I got over you passin' me over/A long time ago/And my pride was stronger when I was younger/Now I'd rather have you to know/Here I am/here I am/I still carry a flame for you/burnin' me like a brand/Here I am." Then she kind of moans at the end. Seriously, try to get through this song without sobbing your fool head off.

7. Rise Up With Fists!!! - Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins - Rabbit Fur Coat

"What am I fighting for?/The cops are at my front door/I can't escape that way, the windows are in flames/And what's that on your ankle?/You say they're not coming for you/But house arrest is really just the same." Who hasn't had a boyfriend put them in this situation? Oh. Sadly that lyric reminds me of a former boyfriend, who was not under house arrest, but probably should have been.

8. Divine Intervention - Matthew Sweet - Girlfriend

This is one of those right place, right time albums -- it was a pretty transitional time in my life, and as I recall, the album was written during a pretty drastic transition in Sweet's life. It is very Power Pop, sometimes walking to the edge of overproduced, at turns angry, sad, and joyful. Yup. I was pretty obsessed with this one.

9. She Moves On - Paul Simon - Rhythm of the Saints

Rhythm of the Saints is my favorite Paul Simon album, for sentimental reasons (it just hit me at the right time, in the right place, and like a really great novel, continues to reveal its depth and textures on repeated listening). This song has a couple of images which are so beautiful, in their tiny details: "her cold coffee eyes" and "I fall to my knees/Shake a rattle at the sky".

10. Spanish Pipedream - John Prine

Little Johnny Devner covered this song on one his early albums (due to dial-up issues, I can't look up which album) and as a kid I thought it was a very funny song, if a bit racey (she was a topless lady with something up her sleeve, after all).

Your turn! What comes up on your shuffle?