Thursday, May 31, 2007

Slow Start

I really wanted to hit the ground running, but I got stuck catching up with all the little things that kept getting put off for the last few weeks. Like the mountain of laundry piled up in the basement. And the kitchen floor which hasn't felt a mop for a few weeks. And the inch-thick dust in the living room. And stocking up on such things as, well, butter, bread, and milk. That, and spending half a day on the phone with the Large Health Insurance company that doesn't seem to feel the need to employ humans to deal with customers' phone calls has kept me busy for the past few days.

But I did manage to take a side trip to the yarn store--it was only a little out of my way! The Tofutsie yarn is so soft. The package says it contains Chitin, a fiber from shrimp and crab shells, which is supposed to be naturally antibacterial. Okay. It is knitting up just wonderfully however. I am trying the Jaywalker pattern from Grumperina. So far, so good.

I have no immediate plans for the Panda Wool, but it is so soft I may just keep it around to stroke once in a while. The label says it is bamboo and wool.

And these socks have been patiently biding their time in the work basket, waiting for the final toe grafting. Knitters always claim that the reason they put off doing the dreaded Kitchener stitch is because it is sewing, rather than knitting. But I'm a sewer, right? I have absolutely no excuse. And the Kitchener stitch isn't really THAT bad. I finally got around to these yesterday because I needed the needles to begin the new sock.

I am driving up to visit my parents this weekend. My sister is flying down from New Hampshire at the same time, so we'll all be together for a nice visit. No kids, no husbands! My sister and I haven't seen each other for a couple of years, so we'll have a lovely time getting caught up. Somehow, just talking on the phone and e-mailing doesn't feel as real as BEING there, if you know what I mean.

I've got the new socks to work on and I'm taking lots of hexagons, just in case there is sewing time. The posy quilt just keeps getting bigger and bigger.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Memorial Day Weekend

We are having a beautiful Memorial Day weekend here. The weather is warm and hazy here in southern Indiana, but it rained in Indianapolis (the capital) where they are trying to run the Indianapolis 500. The race is supposed to resume in about 20 minutes, so I'm posting quickly here.

Libby provided a link to explain what Memorial Day is all about if you're not familiar with it. Usually volunteer groups decorate the graves of U.S. service people. These pictures are from a veteran's cemetery near here. It is a beautiful, restful spot located in an old residential neighborhood. There are graves from the civil war, Spanish American war, World War I and II, Korea and Vietnam.

Visiting the veteran's cemetery this morning got me thinking about a small cemetery that I often pass on the way to the grocery store. It is located on a small hill next to a strip mall. Long ago this was probably a quiet spot on someone's farm land, but now cars whiz by all day long. Some of the grave stones have been overturned, but this one still stands erect in the center.

She was only twenty-six, but evidently much loved. I think the picture is clickable if you want to see the details of the carving.

Over the years people began using Memorial Day to decorate the graves of loved ones, not just veterans. This little cemetery is not decorated, but the grass has been cut recently. Maybe someone from a nearby church is watching out for these old graves.

Thank you for all the kind comments on my last post. I was a little er, giddy, shall we say, after getting the room all packed up for the summer. I've been making more posies while watching the race. The little quilt keeps growing and growing.

I hope everyone has a restful weekend!

Friday, May 25, 2007

Schooooool's Out For Summer!

Remember that song?

Grades averaged.
Running records recorded and analyzed.
End of year assessments graded and recorded.
Report cards filled out.
Books shelved.
All materials removed from walls and bulletin boards.
All living materials and food removed from school premises.
Closets stuffed to overflowing.
Keys turned in.

Yes, yes, and yes!

I spent today cleaning up my classroom and putting things where I can (hopefully) find them again in two months.

I have a question, though. I have something like 37 red pens, three E-Z graders, and 19,000 paper clips. (I know this because I personally put each pen, E-Z grader, and paper clip back into its proper place as I cleaned off my desk this afternoon.) How come I CAN NEVER FIND ONE OF THESE OBJECTS DURING THE SCHOOL YEAR?

Also, rubber bands. I can remember searching for one, just one, rubber band earlier this month. I just needed a rubber band to keep a set of books together. Also, I wanted to go home. It was late. I needed to find a rubber band so that I could put the books together and go home.

I looked in my desk, my storage cabinet, under my desk, in the closet. I looked everywhere in that room. No rubber bands. Not one.

Today? After I discarded old papers, put away books, packed up hundreds of little plastic bins, and stuffed the closets full--there were rubber bands everywhere.

Suffice it to say I now have a jar dedicated to rubber bands. No more rubber band crises for me. No sir.

Do you see why teachers NEED the summer?


We had quilt guild last night and I won the fat quarter pot. Each month our LQS owner donates a yard of fabric, and if you want to participate you can add a coordinating fat quarter to the basket. We draw a name and winner takes all. I got this group of goodies:

...which I am thinking of using in this pattern:

It is a Judy Martin pattern from a Quilter's Newsletter issue a year or two ago. I love the ways she uses stars. I'm going to have to go dig out my copy eventually, but right now I'm enjoying the birds singing, the kids playing in the wading pool in the house behind us, and the beautiful holiday weekend just starting...

BTW: for those not in the teaching biz an E-Z grader is like a cardboard slide rule. You find the number of problems in the little window at the top and you can read down a list to find the percentage grade for the number of problems missed. No teacher's desk is complete without one. Without one she can FIND, that is.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Almost There!

One more day with students. Then another day to pack things away for the summer. We are almost there!

Weekend before last, I had to go to the fabric store for more thread and I found these luscious prints on sale 40% off. Before I knew it they had jumped into a bag and I was bringing them home. I started a Turning Twenty quilt just as soon as I had the round robin completed. Mine is really a turning ten, because I bought half-yards of 10 fabrics. I'm already about half done with the blocks even though I haven't been sewing much this week. I'm thinking I might just tie it and try to get it on a bed as a summer cover.


Lori (A.K.A. Elkhoundmom) at Quilt Musings tagged me for the seven random things meme long, long ago. With so much going on around here lately I hadn't had a chance to even think about it, but here goes:

1. This coming July my husband and I will have been married for 29 years. It doesn't seem that long, but there it is. We've grown and changed over the years, but we still seem to find safe harbor with each other.

2. I am totally inept technologically. The fact that I can have this blog is a testament to how easy Blogger is. Everyone else in my family is at ease with all things electronic. Me? I can push the wrong button on the television remote and lock myself out of the DVD player just in the course of dusting.

3. I am a NASCAR fan. For those of you outside the U.S. that stands for National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing. I don't even know why I enjoy watching the car races--I don't particularly like cars, even. But somehow the combination of craftiness, skill, bravado, strategy, and sheer excitement draws me back every week.

4. I HATE shopping.* The whole mall experience--going from store to store, trying things on, comparison shopping, looking for bargains, etc. etc. just leaves me cold. I do a lot of my shopping on-line and if something fits I tend to buy it in multiple colors, which is why my wardrobe runs mainly to casual slacks, turtlenecks, and tee-shirts.

*On the other hand, drop me off at a bookstore and I can browse for hours. I'm the same way about quilt stores. There is always a fat quarter calling my name.

5. I avoid driving on interstate highways in the city whenever I can. When I do use the highways it is a white knuckle experience. There is a really good quilt store in the big city near here that I only visit a couple of times a year because it is almost inaccessible except by interstate. I do find that I get to visit interesting (!) parts of the city by using surface streets.

6. I am not a morning person. I really dislike having to get up before dawn to get to work. Teaching would be just about perfect if school started at 9:30 or so. Unfortunately, most other elementary school teachers seem to love the morning--in my building people start arriving at 7:00 or earlier.

7. I have an internal clock that keeps pretty good time. Most of the time I can tell you what time it is within fifteen minutes or so without looking at a watch. It usually takes me a couple of weeks after the switch to daylight savings time to reacclimate myself, so maybe it has something to do with the look of the sunlight. This is a completely useless talent, by the way.

Well, there you go. Seven random things about me. If anyone else hasn't been tagged yet, please use this as your invitation. I always enjoy reading about everyone else's.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Another Crazy Week

Just another crazy week.

School has about wound down. Life, as always, is full of surprises. Situation normal, I guess.

In between the craziness, I did manage to finish the border for Pam's round robin. I ran out of the red print I was using for the chained border and ran back to the LQS to get some more. Easy, right? Only there wasn't any left. After a frantic search through every depression print fat quarter and every even remotely red-looking bolt of fabric, I was nearly in despair. Luckily, though, someone thought to go through the bags of scraps and found me a 4 x 20 piece which was big enough to make the final square. Et voila!

I'm pretty pleased with the way it turned out. These are not my colors, but I think the border looks right with the rest of the quilt. I hope Pam is happy with it!

Part of what has kept me sane this week is this book--The Enchanted April, by Elizabeth Von Arnim. I saw the movie on video several years ago and loved it. I think it starred Miranda Richardson and Joan Plowright. It's one of those "little" movies that never got much attention, at least around here. I searched for the book at the time but it was out of print. Amazon. com must have been reading my mind, or at least my secret longing, because a month or so ago it let me know the book had been republished. (Kind of scary, the way it knows me, isn't it?) I haven't gotten very far into it because 10 pages a night is about all I can handle before I fall asleep, but it is definitely worth reading if you can find it.

It's about a group of four British women in the 1920's who answer this ad in The Times agony column:
To Those who Appreciate Wistaria and Sunshine. Small mediaeval Italian Castle on the shores of the Mediterranean to be Let Furnished for the month of April. Necessary servants remain. Z, Box 1000, The Times.

Imagine reading THAT on a cold, wet February day in London.

Von Armin's writing is knife-sharp. How come I've never heard of her before?

What with everything that has been going on around here, I haven't had a chance to do much blog reading this week, nor have I replied to the really nice comments people left on my last post. Thank you for those, by the way! Tomorrow I'm going to catch up on what everybody has been up to this week.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Remember these? The pieces have been sitting in a little plastic bag on the stairs for weeks, gently accusing me of abandoning them. And yes, it's been that long since I actually did anything but sweep around them with a lick and a promise.

This week has just been a full out marathon of work, meetings, planning, and more meetings. End of the school year stuff mostly. We have nine more school days left. Not that I'm counting it down or anything...

Anyway, I finally picked up the bag halfway through the week and have spent a few minutes here and there sewing posies, trying to preserve my sanity. And that's about all the sewing I have accomplished this week.

I've got two sides for the border on Pam's round robin quilt finished--exactly where I was last Sunday. Most of the remaining pieces are cut and just waiting for me to get busy at the sewing machine. That is my plan for this afternoon.


Happy Mother's Day to all of you out there in blogland!

Sunday, May 6, 2007

It's Sunday Already!

It has been a beautiful weekend. Not too warm, not too cool--just about perfect weatherwise. Not that it would matter to me one way or the other because I have been inside sewing for most of it.

I got quite a bit done. I have finished two sides of the border for the round robin. It's going together really nicely; all those straight lines make matching seams a breeze.

I wanted to get a good head start on it this weekend because we are moving into the really busy part of the school year. As things begin to wind down for the kids, everything starts to rev up for the teachers. Year end assessments, dividing classes, working on report cards, forms, forms, and more forms--the beginning of May is also the beginning of a giant marathon for teachers that won't end until school is over at the end of the month. Our school year ends in May--but we begin the new school year the second week of August. That is something that I can never get used to here in Indiana. And it seems like each year they move the beginning up a few days. At this rate we'll be doing year-round school in a few years.

The other reason I want to get the border out of the way is that I am SUPPOSED to be working on Dear Jane blocks. Have I worked on any yet? Noooooooooo. I would like to have at least ONE of them done before the next class. Just. One.

Oh well, maybe this week sometime....

Friday, May 4, 2007

I've Been Working on the Round Robin...

I spent the day (most of it anyway) working on Pam's round robin quilt. Thank you for all the comments about the border. It helped me decide to go ahead with the chain.

I love the pattern at Quilt Blocks Galore, but I couldn't see myself cutting all those little triangles apart and then sewing them together again, so I simplified the pattern a bit. It may be a little hard to see in the picture, but each corner is the same--a little red and white two-patch piece sewn to a 3.5 inch piece to make a square. I cut all the fabric in 2-inch strips. The fourth corner is just two 2 x 3.5 inch strips which will be sewn together to make the fourth part of the square.

I've got all the little 3 patches assembled. The next step will be to sew the 2 x 3.5 strips together and then figure out how big to cut the setting triangles.

This is how it will look:

One side of it anyway.

Setting triangles...ugh! The idea of trying to do any math at this point in the day just makes my eyes want to roll back in my head. I think I'll just leave it until tomorrow.

Right now I think I'll jump in the shower and then figure out what to do for dinner tonight.