Sunday, July 29, 2007

Play it again

Concert notes:
  1. Torrential rain and intense lightning let up, thankfully, about 2 hours before the show last night; lucky, since it was outdoors at Fenway Park (our baseball park) in Boston.
  2. In my many years of concert-going, I've never been in such an old crowd! I'd wondered if Ken and I would feel a little silly -- waaay grown-ups amongst kids. But truth is that while there were a few younger than us, most of the crowd was our age or older. In fact, ear plugs (ear plugs!) were everywhere, and bottled water was selling like crazy.
  3. Sting could, if he so desired, write the book on how a rock star can age gracefully -- he looked great, was in top condition physically, and still had his voice. [note: do ya think he'd just like everyone to call him "Gordon" at this point?] Andy Summers and Stewart Copeland were both in top form as musicians, but haven't held up quite as well physically (though still light years better than most old rockers).
  4. Ken told me he'd read that after deciding to get back together, The Police held focus groups (focus groups!) to get feedback on whether to make a new album or tour with their existing catalog; the overwhelming response was to forget anything new and just go with their hits. Although I'm a little shocked by the whole thing (I mean really, rock and rollers holding focus groups?!) I can't say I'm disappointed -- it was a treat to go to the show and hear all their best stuff, all my favorites (guess I was well-represented in the focus groups...).
  5. While they were at it, they SHOULD have thrown the question of peripheral sales (t-shirts) to their focus groups. The $35 same-old, same-old punky looking black t-shirts that would have sold at their shows in the 80s were not selling. But I'll tell ya, if they had offered nice quality golf-type polo shirts with tastefully embroidered logos over the left breast, they could have charged $50 and sold them out.
  6. The concert itself was fabulous -- just a great set, incredibly well-played, with the band (Sting especially) just clearly into the crowd, having fun, delighted and grateful to be there. The intense reception to "Every Little Thing She Does is Magic" made me think that ultimately we all just want to be happy, we all just want to feel good. This is not a bad thing.
  7. Sadly, weirdly, I can't seem to remember what my first concert was -- Genesis? Pink Floyd? Yes? (I'm saying Neil Sedaka really doesn't count -- I bet Pat and Linda would agree). I'm not even sure how many shows I've seen -- 30? more? But in all likelihood, this will be my last -- although I guess I'm not allowing for the shows that Dean will want to see that I might have the chance to chaperone.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Just in case you'd like a refresher

Good things:
It's hot, but we have window-unit air conditioners for the bedrooms so we can sleep at night.
Soccer practice for Saturday was cancelled (not that we have anything against soccer practice generally, or regret deciding to be co-assistant coaches for Dean's team, but Saturday was looking scarily hectic and this does simplify things big time).
I started cleaning my craft room today and got the computer table area done (a small start, but a start).
We accepted the little girl who came for her screening visit at school today (I just love accepting kids!).
Mr. Handyman (really, that's the name) is coming tomorrow to fix the window sills on the north side of the house that are showing signs of rot, and the plumber is also coming, we hope, to fix the toilet in the upstairs bathroom.
I totally cleaned the inside and outside of my car and it feels lovely to get into it these days.
Ken and I are, through sheer luck and the kindness of friends, going to The Police concert in Boston on Saturday -- haven't been to a rock concert in 10? 15? years, and have never seen The Police so it should be fun (even if it does rain [outdoor show] but we'll hope it does not).

What's good with you?

Wednesday, July 25, 2007


Today would be an ideal day to have a big pool in the backyard, and one of those floating chaise lounges with the drink cup holder. (Does it bother you as much as it bothers me that it seems those people who DO have pools in their backyards never seem to use them?) Or to be small enough to float downstream on a flower -- that would be good, too, provided there weren't any hungry frogs nearby. Yesterday was an ideal day to be at the beach, and as luck would have it that's exactly where we were. Lazy days for sure.

Harry Potter 7 was a magnificent way to spend Monday, although I did have to stay up waaaay past my bedtime to finish (and then I couldn't sleep for a while, having to mull it all over). Eager for the point at which friends have finished and are ready to talk it all over.

Friday, July 20, 2007

The Boy Who Was Given Sweaters

I still cannot get over my good luck in winning one of Felicia's Harry Potter Countdown giveaways -- and to have won Ron's sweater! Too perfect! This amazingly detailed miniature of Felicia's is about the size of my hand and now hangs in my craft room. My winnings also included some Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans, lots of great stickers, and a blank HP journal. I have plans tomorrow morning to go to a craft show with my dear friend ("ex-sister-in-law" doesn't sound as loving, though it's our connection) -- is it wrong that as much as I am looking forward to the time with her that I'm thinking about the delay it will cause in reading The Last Book? We're not clear here at our house if Amazon is getting The Book here today or tomorrow, and I'm just on pins and needles, I must say.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Let's all go to the seaside and make a sand castle

I love old postcards. Just love them. I especially love when they were used, and have postage and a message on the back (not the case for this one). Just saying.

It is hot and sticky this morning; thunderstorms are in the forecast and, as always, I hope the rain comes through and clears out the heat and humidity. Although, on the other hand, with Dean's having Zoo Camp today (and all this week), I also wouldn't mind if the rain held off until after 5 so that he could get his day in. I've been working every day while Dean is in camp, and am frustrated with myself that all my good plans hatched in the mornings of what I am going to get done in the evenings seem to go right out the window once I'm home. Between getting laundry and dishes and dinner done, and birthday cards made and checks written and ant farms installed (Dean's only been asking for ages), I'm not finding/making the time to do much else. Next week should be better.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Coming back around

Haven't posted for a few days because I've just been feeling a little blue. But I've snapped out of it, largely thanks to Felicia and her delightful Harry Potter giveaways -- I still can't believe I won yesterday's prize (and it was my favorite so far!). If you are counting the days, as we are, then check out Felicia's blog and all the lovely comments about each book so far.

This piece is a very old quilt fragment from a mixed bag I once bought; I used the reverse side of a 30s reproduction print to bind it off.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Too much information?

[Photo of another old guild project; this one I've always liked and it hangs in our bedroom -- it didn't go over well at the guild, though.]

The lovely Linda has tagged me -- 8 facts/habits about me.

1. I honestly did NOT know until yesterday that the Queen Mum and Princess Margaret died within a few weeks of each other back in 2002. Had no idea, and I feel really bad about that. I didn't know they had died. The only thing I can think is that it was very close to Dean's 4th birthday so I must have been just totally preoccupied. I think it's tragic (1) that Margaret died at only 71 and that (2) she died before her mother. So tragic for the Queen Mum to have lost her daughter.

2. I really dislike talking on the telephone and will do whatever I can to avoid it. I suspect it is because I have a hard time without the face-to-face social cues and because my mom could (and did) talk for hours on the phone when I was growing up -- it drove me crazy.

3. I have never officially passed a driver's license test. When I was in high school in Chicago, it as a requirement for graduation that you take driver's education and pass your written driver's test. Did that. At the time, my parents were divorced and my mom did not have a car. My brother Tony took me for a practice drive ONCE in his standard VW bug, but it was my first try driving standard and he made me get out of the car after going less than one block. So in typical Chicago fashion, my mom had a friend who had a friend who was the chief at one of the license testing facilities. He (mom's friend) took me to see her (the chief) -- I had the paperwork in my hands to take the driving portion of the test (renown for its difficulty). We all had a very pleasant chat -- no mention was ever made of the test -- and as we got up to leave the chief took my paperwork, signed it, and that was that. I kept my license up by renewing (no test required because of my impeccably clean record [easy to maintain when you are not ever actually driving]) and when I moved to Massachusetts, I automatically got a license here because the two states reciprocate in acknowledging each other's licenses without retesting. I did not actually start doing any driving until I was in my 30s. Not to worry -- I'm a very good driver with, now, a decent number of miles under my belt -- but I've never really officially gotten my license the way everyone else does.

3. I like anchovies. I do not currently know anyone else who likes anchovy pizza, so I haven't had one in ages. No place seems to put anchovies on their Caesar's Salads anymore, which bums me out completely.

4. I can write upside down and backwards. That is to say, with my own self sitting completely upright and normally, I can face a piece of paper and write so that it all comes out upside down and backwards -- you'd need to take it and hold it up in front of a mirror to read it. I don't get to make much use of this talent.

5. When I have a bad dream, I can stop it, "rewind" the story, and re-work it until it comes out the way I want it to -- all while still asleep.

6. I once saw Woody Allen in a toy store in NYC (before 'the fall'), Harvey Keitel on a NYC street, Lee Iaococca, Mel Torme, Joe DiMaggio, and Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen at airports (not together -- well, Mary-Kate and Ashley were together), Robert Parish at a mall (I asked for and got his autograph), and was on airplanes with Harold Ramis and Ben (or was it Jerry?) of ice cream fame (before they sold out). Oh, and I was also on an airplane from Chicago to Luxembourg with the royal family of Belgium (this was not fun -- their taking over all of first class meant that the flight was delayed, and they stayed up and partied all night).

7. I tend to dress for work in uniforms. That is, I basically just wear slight variations on the same theme every day. Khaki pants and a plain long or short sleeve top, unless it's summer and then it's khaki shorts and a short sleeve top. With socks that match the color (usually) of the top. I blame the 9 years of Catholic school uniform-wearing on this.

8. I don't balance my checkbook -- not the way you are supposed to, anyway. I have never bounced a check, though, and am very grateful for online banking's ability to let you check your balance at any time.

Now let's see, I tag Mary, Felicia, Fifi, Helen, Prairie Mouse, Beverly, Pink Lemonade, and Donna. I respect anyone's decision not to play along....

Wednesday, July 11, 2007


I have been busy quilting lately, honest I have, but I'm still a couple of weeks away from having anything to show you, so I'm pulling out the way-back machine and showing something from, well, way back.

This is a fragment of a quilt I made for a guild challenge, back when I belonged to a guild. The red brick and multi-colored fabrics were required, and the theme was "home." They are hard to see here, but each "dream home" (blue units) in my quilt is embroidered with a word -- here we have "Elation," "Charity," "Understanding," and "Forgiveness." I did not particularly love this quilt -- I still don't -- and it's largely why I ended up dropping out of the guild. For all the good experiences (and there were many), I got tired of working so hard, and exclusively, on guild-driven projects that I really wasn't wild about. So, yes, I was pretty productive during my guild years, but I was making things that really weren't "me." But I later used the embroidered word idea on another quilt and am thinking about it again, so it wasn't a total waste.

Hey, it's hard to quilt when it's about 90f and about 90% humidity (and you know what they say, it's not the heat...). What are you making?

Tuesday, July 10, 2007


I believe in the power of incremental change. I believe in making the effort, even if it means doing only slightly better. And, I think that often the sure path to defeat is the one of absolutes.

I've been thinking a lot about the 'eat local' movement, and about the overall green (environmental) movement -- these are topics so wonderfully dominant now. I'm delighted that people are so passionate, and that those passionate people are making others more aware, but I shake my head at the zealots who look to judge and divide the movements rather than celebrate all the small, incremental steps of change. [PLEASE note that I am not, repeat NOT calling the local food folks behind the 'eat local' link zealots -- I do think these are reasonable, thoughtful people looking to make others aware and in favor of incremental change -- I'm just talking about any movement's zealots and I hope you know what I mean.]

Here's how I view the problem: I was thinking about how I could make at least one meal each week with local ingredients (my recipe came just at the time that I was ready to start). But I stumbled at the pasta -- are there any local pasta companies? Laugh along with me as I checked the label on my Prince Spaghetti box; I remembered the old "Wednesday is Prince Spaghetti Day" commercials where the boy runs home through the streets of Boston's North End and thought maybe it was made locally. No such luck. Now, I appreciate that I could drive miles out of my way to a Whole Foods store and probably find fresh local pasta, but I'm not interested in using all that gas and creating all that pollution, etc. I thought about making my own pasta, but since wheat is not a locally grown crop, I wouldn't be able to find local flour. Would that 'count'? Making my own pasta with midwestern flour? Then I thought (as it is human nature to do) -- well this is too hard so maybe I really can't do this. And I'll tell ya, this is where I see so many good efforts by so many people (scolded and shamed on by the zealots) go by the wayside. It's too hard to do it all just right so I won't do it at all.

But that's not the point. The point (in this case) is to help sustain local farms. So making a summer pasta dish out of locally grown vegetables certainly does count, regardless of the Parmesan cheese or the pasta or the olive oil. Trying a little harder, taking a small step, makes a difference. Giving up gets you nowhere. Doesn't matter if you're trying to eat locally or be environmentally responsible or exercise more or shed a few pounds or drink a little less wine or shop less or whatever -- doing a little better helps you on the road to doing a lot better or reaching your goal. Giving up because you've made some transgression(s) leaves you stuck where you are.

Here's to the beauty, the benefits, of starting somewhere, of starting small. Of starting.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Big time fun

Next time you are in the frozen foods section of your market, perhaps even you'll be going there today?, be sure to scour the shelves for these little beauties. Mocha Frappucino bars. Heaven on a stick. Low fat heaven, too, if you're watching -- 120 tiny calories per bar. I know Starbucks coffee shops are international, but I don't know if their grocery-store items are or not.... I can also happily vouch for their Java Chip and Low-fat Latte ice creams. Yum.

Another great experience I can recommend: Ratatouille! Even though I'm a big Pixar fan, I wasn't expecting too much from this one -- I thought the overabundance of advertising had to be a bad sign, and I figured that at some point they'd have a dud. Whoa. Not this time! We all loved this movie. The plot takes some unexpected twists, the animated scenes of Paris are unbelievably beautiful and accurate, and it offers some genuine laugh-out-loud moments.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Local color

I try to come up with at least one if not more vegetarian meals each week; Ken and Dean are meat eaters and neither hears 'vegetarian' and thinks he'll like dinner. So it's kind of amazing when I make something that they'll both eat (and enjoy).

This recipe is adapted from the 6/2007 everyday food magazine (thanks, Martha). For us, making it also means being able to eat a primarily 'locally grown' meal.

Pasta with Roasted Summer Vegetables

About 2 pounds yellow summer squash or zucchini (courgettes), sliced into rounds a little less than 1/2" thick (I peel ours first, but you don't have to if there are people at your house who will eat them skin-on); cut the larger rounds in half
About 4 cups (2 pints) grape or cherry tomatoes
2 medium red onions, cut in half and then into half-moon slices (not too thick)
Olive oil
salt and pepper
Enough pasta (between 8 and 16 ounces, depending on if you want the veg or the pasta to dominate and how many people you need to serve), of a good shape for salad
1/2 cup or more of grated Parmesan
Fresh basil - optional - torn or sliced up

Preheat oven to 450f. Divide squash slices, tomatoes, and onions between two large rimmed baking sheets and drizzle freely with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Roast 30 to 40 minutes, checking and stirring a couple of times until everything's nicely browned up.

Cook the pasta, drain, and return to pot.

Add veg, Parmesan, and basil to pasta - toss and serve.

And if you have leftovers, they are lovely eaten cold for lunch the next day.

Friday, July 6, 2007


Just a few (I promise!) pictures from our vacation. Dean and Ken on the cliff walk trail at Portland Head Light.

Mr. Silly tries on the goods at Acadia National Park.

My own Forest Gnome heads off on a trail at Acadia; I love that he just blends right in. Of course, the fact that he talked and sang pretty much the entire time we hiked meant that while he visually blended in, the forest had no doubt that we were there.

Up, up, up to Connor's Nubble .

Taking the top! The best hiking we've done, with views to make all the effort worthwhile.
Ken and Dean at Jordan Pond (still Acadia), with the two points , behind them, to which we climbed -- Connor's Nubble and North Bubble.Ken and Dean test the water on Crescent Beach in Cape Elizabeth. We go early in the season to have all these places nearly to ourselves.

I'll leave it at that (nothing worse than being subjected to too many of someone's vacation snaps) and confess to you that should we ever win the lottery, we'd buy a small place up there in Maine so that experiences like these could come more than over the course of just a hand full of days each year.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Tell me a story

Knowing when something is finished seems one of those universal challenges; it doesn't matter if you're quilting or scrapbooking or collaging or anything else -- working on something until you've taken it to just the right point can be a mysterious and sometimes frustrating process.

I was working on this birthday card for a friend and had gotten it to a certain point but knew that it didn't feel done. I walked away from it for a while and when I came back, I thought to myself "it doesn't tell a story yet" and I kept going until I felt it -- felt that the story was told. I feel empowered by this little discovery, by this measuring tool. Looking at a piece and thinking about whether it has told its story yet or not seems very valid and somehow (of course in a totally personal, subjective way -- isn't all art like that?) measurable. I feel very influenced in this journey by Kim, whom I think is such an incredible artist in the way that all of her work tells stories. I think, too, of Walt Disney who very much measured everything in terms of "story." I'm off to work today but hope to spend some more play time tomorrow with this idea to see where it gets me. What kinds of ideas are you playing with?

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Oh beautiful, for spacious skies

The inscription says "4th of July / 1916 / Shirley, Ind." -- That's Shirley, Indiana, and the girl on the right is Ellamae, my paternal grandmother, and the girl on the left is her younger sister Ruth.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Shhhh, baby's sleeping....

Here he is, scrunching up his eyes against the light and the whole 'world' business -- Noah Austin. It appears that every hospital in the US issues these same flannel baby blankets.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Best effort?

I guess it's just another in the line of setbacks associated with this project that I can't get this layout to go the way I want it to. Well, just a little more medicine for me. See, I was able to finish my tie one on apron on time. Then, I needed Ken to take photos of me in it, and that film sat in the camera until Saturday morning (6/30) when I realized that I could take the roll in for one-hour developing and still make the deadline for submission (which was Saturday). And I got the pictures and they were not. quite. what. I'd. hoped. for. I realized I should have been more specific with Ken and should have asked that more pictures, at different angles, be taken. I should have re-ironed the apron before putting it on. I should have been more specific about the pocket close-up that I was after (the one, above, is from my scanner). And to be honest, all of that disappointment was wrapped up in feelings that the apron that I loved somehow didn't, when viewed from outside myself, come out the way I'd imagined.

So with my own warped sense of perfection and all, I almost didn't submit it. I knew how good the other aprons would be (just look at any of the past galleries!) and didn't want my pokey, lumpy, wrinkly self up there with the top of my head missing. But I came to my senses, submitted it anyway (here's hoping after all this I made it in time!) and now I'm furthering my own public admission of not-perfect-indeed! by posting the whole business here. And the layout isn't right. Truth is, I still had fun doing this challenge, and I like wearing the apron! And I'm even thinking about the next one (an apron that represents your region/state/town). Maybe.

Sunday, July 1, 2007


I did do just a little shopping on vacation. This is a major improvement over previous vacations, when I did my majority shopping of the year while on the trip. See, southern Maine is a bit of a shopper's mecca -- you've got Kittery which is a town made up of outlets (including my most favorite, Hanna Andersson). And then, just a skip further north, you've got Freeport and L.L. Bean. As anyone who knows me could attest, I could do all my clothes shopping (for me, Dean, and Ken) at L.L. Bean and be totally happy. I could probably do all except my craft and food shopping at L.L. Bean. But for all my good reasons -- I'm not buying myself new clothes this year, I'm trying very hard to cut down on all purchases, I'm trying to simplify, and the focus for the vacation was on spending time outdoors -- we really did curtail the shopping big time. Skipped Kittery altogether.

We came across a lovely bookstore that had The Cute Book prominently displayed and so I did treat myself (and am so happy I did). Nothing beats a great Japanese softies book completely translated into English and with crystal-clear patterns/instructions. I made a couple of other purchases along the way that I'll share as we go along, but overall I feel I can give myself credit for coming home with shells and rocks and sea glass but little that was purchased.