Monday, May 31, 2010

LOST (I feel cheated)

Many people I know and respect have blogged their thoughts on the final season and the final episode of "Lost." For the most part, they are all satisfied with the ending of the ABC series.

I'm in a distinct minority, and though I continue to read links and posts and essays and opinions, I still feel gypped.

I love mysteries, and the mysteries in "Lost" are what hooked me into watching the show. Steve and I were latecomers to the TV sensation, buying and watching the DVDs of the first four seasons when the fifth season was in progress. Then we bought and watched DVDs of the fifth season in time to catch the sixth season as it aired.

We were so excited! At last, there would be answers! All the neat mysteries and questions and puzzles would be solved!

But they weren't. And as this final season progressed, our response each week became more cynical, and began edging towards bitter. "They aren't answering questions. They're posing more." "They are not tying up ends." "They're introducing more complexities and ambiguity."

Our post-episode conversations became crankier. "Those writers need to hire a stable of hack mystery writers - at least they know how to solve a mystery at the end of a story." "They should get a professor that teaches freshman introductory writing courses to remind them that a story needs a beginning and an end."

Tonight my dad (who has never watched "Lost" but who has shaken his head in bewilderment at his wife, son, daughter, son-in-law, and grandson-in-law who would and did rearrange schedules and obligations in order to watch the show) shared with me a piece by John Podhoretz that was printed in The Weekly Standard. It's called We Wuz Robbed. I am so glad to know that I'm not alone.

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Thursday, May 27, 2010

Quilting and listening

This week as I quilted I've been listening to various readings and dramatizations from BBC radio. First up (and my favorite thus far) was a dramatization of Paul Gallico's The Snow Goose. It's only an hour long, but so good.

Of course, I had more than one hour's worth of quilting so I checked out BBC 7 and listened to Alan Bennett read The House at Pooh Corner until I ran out of episodes. Then I heard Prunella Scales read E. Nesbit's Last of the Dragons. Still more quilting to do, so I began listening to a dramatization of The Eagle of the Ninth by Rosemary Sutcliff, which is a book I own, and have assigned to my children to read, but which I have never read.

Today I will begin putting on the quilt's binding while listening to another episode in each of the three books already mentioned, and I think I will add to the mix Agatha Christie's Murder in Mesopotamia.

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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

May/June socks - finished

While procrastinating on my March/April socks, I managed to finish my sock pair for May and June. Knit from Opal's "Harry Potter" line, these are the in the "Tonks" colorway. Love that pink and yellow!

Now back to my unfinished pair, I guess.

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Monday, May 24, 2010

Baby blanket in a bulky yarn

A few weeks ago I bought a bulky cotton yarn and a cute pattern to knit a baby blanket with a crocheted border. The store model was knit in green and blue yarn, but by the time I was there the only colors left were yellow and orange. I bought them anyway and knit it up. Now I'm wondering why? Who on earth would like a yellow and orange blanket?!

Oh, well. It was fun to make and I'm sure I'll give it to someone somewhere someday.

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Friday, May 21, 2010

Wool for soakers

Back in December I tried knitting the Curly Purly Soaker and I liked it a lot. Now I have two friends far away expecting babies next month and they both plan to use cloth diapers. I asked both of them if I could make them some soakers, and both said, "Yes!"

So I'm knitting for a baby in North Carolina and for another baby in Colorado. I got a little excited about the color possibilities (can you tell?) and ordered a range of colors in Peruvian Highland Wool from because it made such a nice fabric with the soakers I knit a few months ago, and because it is so inexpensive.

(Tracy made lots of soakers and she's the one who inspired me on this project!)

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Thursday, May 20, 2010

48 hours ago

Early on Tuesday morning I heard what I thought was a kitten outside the living room window. I ignored the sound for quite some time, thinking it was a mockingbird. But then I heard what sounded like a low growl, so I went outside to investigate.

From under the heat pump came a little whimper, then a tiny bark. A puppy, not a kitten! I called all of the children to come outside and help me get the animal out of the heat pump casing. A few minutes later we held a tiny shivering female puppy.

The children started calling friends trying to find a home for the pup. Sarah's friend Matt says he will take the puppy, but Sarah can't get the puppy to him until Saturday.

So in the meantime we have this terribly adorable puppy, who has now been bathed, treated for fleas, had her first shots, been de-wormed and named "Lola" by Sarah.

Keeping a puppy temporarily is dangerous business... .

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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Green border

I really like this material that Sarah chose for her quilt's border, I think it would look good as a quilt back, too - and it's 110 inches wide. The lady at the fabric store told me it can be used to back a king-sized quilt!


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Sarah's quilt top

After I finished Joan's quilt, I asked Sarah to look over her old squares that I cut out five years ago and see if she still liked them. She decided she'd like something different, so she looked through my fabric and chose greens. The large flower print and the blue-green material are both fabrics her great-grandmother bought back in the early 1970's. The pale mint green and the light green fabrics were bought by her grandmother in the mid-1980's. And the other material is what I bought. There is one more green for the border, and a yellow-green for the binding. The back will be... something else.


Monday, May 17, 2010

Checking out a new thrift store

Since Sarah and I had to run several errands today we decided to check out a new thrift store Susan told me about. The store is large and clean, but the prices were slightly higher than I'm used to - I think Auburn can probably get higher prices than my neck of the woods can. The only other downside was that china items were bundled together with packing tape, then priced for the bundle. (I passed up several plates because I didn't want to buy the other plates with them.) However, there was a pair of Anchor Hocking ramekins and a small glass Anchor Hocking casserole dish bundled together that I was happy to get. Steve recently broke - by accident - identical ramekins that we use that I'd found at a different thrift store, and these replaced them. There was also a small Pyrex casserole with the plastic refrigerator lid - and it was bundled with a round Pyrex casserole lid that does not go with it. (I have a small round clear glass Pyrex lid, number 681-C-33, if you need or want it, it's yours - just let me know!)

We also found this calendar plate (I use this style of plate for cakes, cookies, etc.):

And there were two Homer Laughlin restaurant china plates that I got for everyday use:

Sarah found two shirts she liked, and we called it a good trip.


Winnie-the-Pooh and Piglet quilt

Poor Joan! She chose the fabric and colors for this quilt five years ago, when she was 12! The squares were cut and stacked and ready to assemble. Then we moved. And I kept on thinking I'd eventually have time to put the pieces together and make the quilt. (I also had cut squares for quilts for Jacy, Sarah, and Marley.)

Now I've finally finished Joan's quilt. Thanks in large part to Jane Brocket's book, The Gentle Art of Quiltmaking, I felt that I could put it all together without machine-quilting it and still be happy with the end result.

So I did quilt it by hand, and I didn't use a frame or a hoop.

And I'm happy with the end result. Thankfully, so is Joan!


Friday, May 14, 2010

Dr. Wortle's School

Our book club will be discussing Dr. Wortle's School by Anthony Trollope next week. I'm a little nervous, because I suggested this book, and I know at least one member was not enthusiastic about it. (I asked her what she thought of the book and she shrugged her shoulders and said, "Eh, well, if you like Jane Austen, then, I guess...." and that was it!)

While I do like Jane Austen, I don't consider Trollope's works to be very similar to hers. And while I have yet to read a Trollope novel I didn't like, some have been more enjoyable than others. In this case, I found Dr. Wortle's School interesting and a nice read, but it wasn't as witty as some of his other novels.

Dr. Wortle, a clergyman, has a school - a very highly regarded school for boys whose parents want them to go on to Eton and perhaps Oxford. His school is selective and expensive, and Dr. Wortle, his wife, and his daughter live quite comfortably and are respected.

Dr. Wortle hires as a teacher Mr. Peacocke, and Mr. Peacocke's wife helps with the care of the pupils' linens, etc. Mr. Peacocke is an excellent teacher - perhaps one of the best in England - but he and his wife refuse (politely) to socialize with anyone, hinting that they are not morally fit to do so.

Tongues begin wagging, especially the tongue of a vicious woman who would like to see Dr. Wortle's school collapse and Dr. Wortle humiliated, and Mr. Peacocke takes it upon himself to explain to his employer why he and his wife must remain isolated from society. The problem is admittedly complex - Mr. Peacocke married Mrs. Peacocke after she was widowed. However, some time after they were married her "deceased" husband appeared, then left again without a trace. The reaction of the county to this knowledge, and the way the problem is resolved, and what Dr. Wortle does takes the rest of the book to unfold.

Thankfully, Trollope tied up all the loose ends and made a good ending.

I just wonder what my friends in the book club think...?


In This House of Brede

Rumer Godden's book, In This House of Brede was on my 2010 reading list, although I've been meaning to read it for more than a decade.

This book was full of surprises. It began with successful, middle-aged businesswoman Philippa Talbot deciding to leave all her worldly activities and enter the Benedictine abbey of Brede. The novel covers a span of years, and as it goes, Philippa is less the center of the story, while the other nuns, the abbess, and Brede itself take more of the reader's attention. Although I would not characterize this book as exciting, the story continued to hold my attention, and there were quite a few small mysteries - secrets - that in time were revealed.

I enjoyed it, and would not hesitate to recommend it to others.

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Spoken from the Heart

After I finished reading Laura Bush's memoir, Spoken from the Heart, I saw in USA Today that some reviewers were disappointed that there was not a lot in the book about politics and controversies during her years as First Lady. Anyone looking for gossip, vituperative barbs, name-calling, or complaints won't like this book.

Mrs. Bush writes about her life growing up as an only child in the new town of Midland, Texas. She tells of working in an inner-city school, and deciding to go back to graduate school to become a librarian. She shows how those early adult years as teacher and librarian shaped her interests and her desire to promote education and reading when her husband became the President of the United States.

She focusses always on the positive and her tone throughout the book is one of gratitude and joy for the events and people in her life. She makes it clear that she loves and honors her parents, loves and respects her husband, is devoted to her daughters, and has deep fondness for all of her in-laws.

I found this book a pleasure to read.


Thursday, May 13, 2010

Black blocks are boring...

...but oh, so necessary as a neutral! We're ready to arrange the blocks for Tom's blanket. That's fun! Then I have to seam them all together. That's not so much fun. But I think it will be exciting to see it come together!

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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Mango Salsa

Last week Joan and I made this recipe and it was delicious.

Mango Salsa Recipe

1 ripe mango, peeled, pitted, and diced (about 1 1/2 cup)
1/2 medium red onion, finely chopped
1 jalapeno chile, minced (we omitted the ribs and seeds in order to have a milder flavor)
1 small cucumber, peeled and diced (about 1 cup)
3 Tbsp fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
3 Tbsp fresh lime juice
salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients and serve.

We doubled the recipe and ate some of it with tortilla chips. Then we cooked turkey burgers and topped each one with 1/4 cup of the salsa. It was very fresh and light.

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Monday, May 10, 2010


When Joan and I went to the thrift store looking for a few clothing items, we also found some ceramic pieces. My mother made ceramics for years - even had her own kiln - and I still have a few dishes she made. When I saw this pair of brightly painted fish I thought, "Someone made these for a child's room or a bathroom, I'll bet!" I pointed them out to Joan, who labeled them "creepy," but later picked them up and said she'd like them for her room.

This bowl caught my eye because of the lovely turquoise color, and I was pleased to see that it also was a ceramics piece. It will hold sewing items in my sewing corner.

Steve loves to make gravies and sauces and I knew he'd use this American Limoges gravy boat if I got it for him.

We spent $5.50 total on the non-clothing items, but I need to send the girls back for clothes soon because they all need a few summer dresses and shorts.


Monday, May 03, 2010

Inspired to finish

After reading Jane Brocket's latest book, The Gentle Art of Quiltmaking, I was inspired to haul out the quilt for Joan I started working on over a year ago and just finish it.

On Friday Sam, Marley and I went to a fabric store. I wanted a fabric to use to bind the quilt edges, and perhaps get a color other than off-white or white to use for the quilting stitches. There were several colors that would work well with the quilt, but I finally decided upon pink.

(While we were there, Marley wandered among the bolts of fabric, touching and making comments about colors and textures. Finally she asked me if she could have some soft material for a blanket of her own. I agreed, and we're working on her own project now, too.)

On Saturday afternoon I spent a few minutes finishing up the basting of the quilt layers, then I began quilting.

As silly as it sounds, I had been stymied by the thought of quilting the layers together because I was certain that one had to use a quilting frame or a hoop. Although I have the large oval quilting hoop that belonged to Steve's grandmother, I dreaded putting on the hoop and moving it about in order to make the stitches. (Back when I could see well enough to cross-stitch, embroider, and do Hardanger embroidery, I never used a hoop - it was too confining and made me too slow. Plus, I noticed that the fabric was more likely to show dirt and oil where the hoop had been.)

Reading in Jane Brocket's book that she didn't use a hoop freed me to try the same. And it worked! I stitched for a little over an hour Saturday afternoon and got 1/4 of the quilting done. Last night I worked for a few hours and am 3/4's finished.

This week should see me finished and ... perhaps getting to work on another one?