Sunday, April 29, 2007

Another successful "turn off" week under our collective belts, we return today to our t.v., computers, and video games knowing that we can happily exist without those things and full of ideas about what to do with our time instead of going with electronic entertainment. Take a break yourself when you can and see if it doesn't revive you.

Dean's birthday party was yesterday and our dance to the sun god paid off -- lovely weather despite a questionable forecast. This game, Odd or Even, from the 1964 "Betty Crocker's Parties for Children" book (reprinted many times and still pretty readily available) was a big hit. It's one of those great games that works indoors or out and with any number of players (click on the image to see a bigger, more legible version if you're interested). Weirdly, the games that didn't go as well were the games that Dean and his classmates love playing at school. I'm guessing that's because the different venue threw them off their routines -- Capture the Flag in an entirely different environment left them uncertain of things that they count on knowing when they play during recess. But still a good time had by all, no injuries, and everyone picked up pretty much on time. Can't ask for more than that!

I didn't get a single bit of sewing or crafting done this week. Between party preparations and a very busy week at work it just wasn't possible. Also, the room where all my stuff is becomes the "shove everything in here" room during a clean-up for any kind of event at home, so even if I'd had the time it would have been tough to get at anything. Today I'll sort that back out and try to accomplish something. The rains that held off yesterday are falling now, so it's a perfect day to be indoors catching up. I'd made Dean's party date such a milestone in my head, putting off even thinking about a lot of things until "after the party," that I need to collect myself now and think more about plans for the spring and summer. It seems especially easy to let this time of year just slip away because suddenly every weekend has an array of activities (soccer games, other birthday parties to attend, the local fishing derby, fundraising events, gardening, cookouts) -- the great rush to do it all before it gets too hot to do much of anything. Maybe making a list will help.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

See you in a week

Happy Earth Day! We'll be outside today, raking the lawn, cleaning up the gardens, practicing soccer, having lunch, bird-watching, and napping. Heaven is Earth.

After today, I'll be off-line for a week, participating in TV Turn-off Week, which for us extends to all forms of electronic entertainment. What with the new-found world of blogging, this will be harder for me than it has been in previous years -- only fair, given how hard it is for Dean. I urge you to give this a try (it IS an international event); turning away from television and computers for a week absolutely gives your mind, your eyes, your heart a rest while it opens you up to everything else you can do with your time. Also makes you more critical, once you do go back, of the choices you make (at least, that's how it works for us). Finally, I believe it is important to push yourself periodically to do things that you don't think you can do, or that you don't really want to do -- just to prove that you can. Nothing crazy, mind you. I'll be using the time on some certain quilting and sewing I've been writing about, as well as getting ready for Dean's birthday party next Saturday.

Enjoy your week, and tell me what you've been up to. See you later--

Friday, April 20, 2007

Only in New England

I remember making Ken stop the car so I could take this picture. We were in New Hampshire. I'll always regret his not agreeing to stop the car that time in Vermont, when we drove by the wallpaper, paints, upholstery, and funeral parlor place. Such a New England tradition -- a little bit of everything, just to get by.

Today, finally, finally, some spring. Real sunshine. Real warmth. I woke to birdsong, even. We got some yard work done, some deck chairs out and scrubbed, and the swings on the swingset. I drove over to our local zoo this morning to register Dean for summer camp; as he plans to be a zookeeper when he grows up, it was a mission too important to leave to the post office. The man himself wasn't up to going with me; the sudden arrival of spring today brought forth his allergies in full bloom and it will take another day or two for the doctor to call in his prescription to the local pharmacy. He was feeling up to soccer practice tonight (not that he was given a choice) and has headed out with Ken, who is loaded down with tissues and water bottles, etc.

Helen has been good enough to chide me, as she promised she would, about work on my quilt. I hope I don't come across as feeble in saying I've just been doing some practice on my machine piecing on yet another old WIP, so I don't make my mistakes on the real thing. I also need to round up all the fabrics I'd been using and while I know I still have them, I haven't quite zeroed in on where. Can I blame spring fever, by any chance?

On the weather note I'll just say how very much I enjoy when bloggers mention what's going on outside near them. I've never felt as close as I do now to the opposite season as it works out in Australia; those Australian craft bloggers are prolific, talented, and always doing great updates on the seasonal changes. I love that no matter where we live, whatever big city we might be in or however technologically advanced we are (or think we are), that what it's doing outside matters deeply to us -- it is always a wonder and a mystery and is our connection to our human-ness, I think. I love that the weather cannot accurately be predicted -- even when I'm frustrated to be caught by a surprise snowstorm or a day 20 degrees hotter than expected, I still love that nature guards her secrets and then totally runs our lives with the hands she plays. This little quilt that's demanding to be finished is a quilt about the sea and sky, and it too is still a little mysterious to me.

OK -- last thing. A quick recipe. Again I've not gotten around to my UK/European translations, but this really doesn't need much measuring. We had it tonight alongside some baked steel head trout -- that's a fish that has a lot in common with salmon, which would make a fine alternative.

Spinach and White Beans

Wash and chop several large, billowing handfuls of fresh spinach
Heat some olive oil in the bottom of a large saute pan
Add the wet spinach carefully, and stir it gently as it breaks down
Add a standard size can of white beans (canelli, if you've got them) that have been rinsed and drained
Add several shakes of dried basil, some celery seed, and some garlic (chopped, or even dried powered)
Heat through and serve -- goes nicely on top of couscous

[edited to add: there's a free download available right now from itunes (not sure how often they change them so if you're interested, go now) -- a piece called Philosophia, by Guggenheim Grotton. It's folk music, kind of sounds Simon and Garfunkle-ish -- for free, it's worth a listen. You know you need the itunes software on your computer, right?]

Thursday, April 19, 2007

No nuts

A nice, thick envelope arrived yesterday from my mom (she lives in Seattle); she sent me all of her Folkwear patterns. I don't think she ever used any of them which is understandable -- they are wonderful but complex. I always, always loved this coat pattern and was delighted that my mom still had it. The pattern is given so that you can make all the quilted pieces yourself and then construct the coat, OR you can use pre-quilted fabric. So my plan is to be on the hunt for a nice, pre-quilted, on-sale fabric and as a reward (?) for summer's worth of WIP completions I will see about making this coat come fall. It occurs to me that if a woman with my mom's depth of sewing expertise never tackled one of these patterns then it may be beyond foolish for me to attempt it, but I guess that's just the kind of fool I am.

Speaking of foolish, I ran in to all kinds of problems with the blouse I was working on yesterday. (Darts. I knew I should have just ignored them -- my figure is one that does not require darts -- and they were my undoing. That and again with the Simplicity pattern instructions that are poorly written/devised.) I keep telling myself that I need to look on this as a learning experience, that I need to have the kind of patience and willingness to fail that I am always talking to Dean about (he expects to be able to do everything perfectly the first time out -- wonder who he gets that from?). This could be the first time I just trash a project and move on.

Although I'm not finding specifics about recycled content in fleece (polar fleece), I'm finding a lot of results that indicate that it does contain recycled materials. I wanted to find something that said, for example, that 250 plastic soda bottles go into every fleece jacket, or whatever, but no luck so far. The Patagonia web site allows you to view products by those that contain recycled materials, and they encourage you to recycle all clothing (even underwear!) rather than throw it out. The underwear thing reminded me that I read once that places like Salvation Army and Goodwill that take donations of used clothing will take ANY clothing because what they can't sell in their stores they can sell in bulk to recyclers -- I have to verify that.

Meanwhile, muffins. The banana muffins yesterday were a big success (that means Dean likes them, although I was forbidden from including the nuts) and so here's the recipe. I need to find out how to convert US measures and terms to those that would make sense to my friends overseas -- anyone know an easy way to do this?

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Fiber content

Dean has a friend over today; it's mid-way through school vacation week and we've yet to have a decent day to be outside. Oh, do wish me luck for a warm, sunny day by the 28th, when we're having Dean's birthday party here in our yard!

I've got banana muffins in the oven, and am making the boys pizza for lunch. Yesterday we made soft pretzels and we can heat some up for a snack later if they haven't totally had enough of the carbs by then. The combination of being at home without a schedule and the cold, damp weather apparently brings out the baker in me -- also the sense that I should be doing something special for Dean. I've got all kinds of craft ideas in mind, should the boys be casting around for something to do later on, although Dean and his friends don't seem to have the same passion for sitting down and making things that I did when I was their age. Not sure if that's the girl vs. boy thing going on or what.

I will get some sewing done today -- cutting out some pieces for that quilt I talked about yesterday and finishing up another shirt for me. I tried to make a skirt yesterday -- without a pattern, and using up a piece of fabric I've had forever -- but the gathered waist and drape of the material made me look a good 20 to 30 pounds heavier so I gave that up and used it to cut out a blouse pattern instead. The fabric is some kind of synthetic; it has a lovely feel, it goes into the wash and comes out without needing ironing, but I'm feeling weird about the synthetic part. I wish it were possible to stop producing new petroleum-based products and to continuously recycle all the plastic already on the planet. I love organic cotton, but then I wonder if it would be better for the planet, or not, if all that land were being used to produce food crops instead. I think polar fleece, which I love, is partially made from recycled plastics (have to check that). I really don't like silk all that much just because of the difficulty of caring for it (and I refuse to do any more dry cleaning). I feel that it's ridiculously hard to get at clear answers on these topics because the various research efforts are generally funded by someplace with an agenda to uphold. I guess "buy used" is one answer. Reminds me that earlier this week I dropped off the best of Dean's outgrown clothes at a resale place; in a week or two I'll get the call with how much $$ I get for the lot and the proceeds go into our vacation fund (where we put all our "found" money). Anyway, if you haven't thought of it before, I can recommend taking in your child's cast-offs to sell or going in to buy their used stuff at great prices if you got one of these resale places in your area and don't already have friends/family with whom you share outgrown clothing. Meanwhile, I'll see what I can find out about recycling and the manufacturing of synthetic materials.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

A year of finishing

About 11 years ago, I treated myself to Jinny Beyer's Annual Hilton Head Quilt Seminar. This was in the days before Dean, and back when I earned the kind of salary that allowed this kind of extravagance. It was an intense several days of workshops, show and tell sessions, and lectures; the theme that year was symmetry. This black and white plan was the result of one of my classes and while I've thought about the project and the seminar a number of times over the years, all the workshop materials, along with the two blocks I actually completed, have been stowed away in a closet with nearly countless other WIPs. I couldn't bring myself to spend time in PhotoShop putting several of the blocks together so you'd get an idea where this is headed, but here's one of the blocks sewn up:

At the time, I'd felt I'd reached an entirely new and thrilling place in my quiltmaking; I was ready to work on projects that would truly be my own and reach into much more compelling places than simply the known stable of quilting patterns. But in fact it turned out to be nearly the beginning of a very long break in quilting or any kind sewing at all, because my life itself went into an entirely new direction.

I came across all this today while cleaning and trying to make sense of the boxes and bags and wads of material all over the place. Still thinking about my post from yesterday and the really thoughtful responses I've received -- mulling over how to prioritize my priorities. Cleaning up, making sense of the mess is important. Letting go of some of this stuff will probably be important, too. And I've decided that getting at least 4 of these blocks made is an important goal for the summer, so that I've at least got enough to make a small wall quilt. I owe it to myself, to the effort I put into going all the way down to that seminar in the first place, and to the idea that I had someplace new to explore in my work. If I can spend the balance of this year focusing on completing some of my abandoned projects, I will gain a sense of control and discipline and satisfaction, and this blog will help me keep to my word. Too, it will help me from buying more fabric. Right?

OK, so that seems a fair start to what I'm doing and why I'm doing it.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Slices of life

Since starting my blog, I have not done a single scrapbook page nor a single entry/collage in my hardcopy journal. I've certainly done more sewing than in recent years, and I've been recording certain aspects of my life here in a way I hadn't been doing before. It's frustrating not to have the time to do everything, but life's always choices, right?

I'm mulling all this over -- am I okay with the things I've been giving up in favor of blog time? I've written before about all the wonderful things I feel I've gained, but there's always some loss, too. I've had a hard time even with my own journal, trying to find the line between what I want to record, remember, and reflect upon and what I do (or don't) want to share with others. My grandmother Ellamae used to keep a diary, and part of her New Year's Eve tradition was to burn that year's diary. I was horrified by this when I was younger, but now I can think I understand -- she didn't want any of us to have access to that part of her after she was gone. I try to work things out honestly and openly in my journal (when I even bother to make the time to put anything in it) but I know I temper it in case it ever is read without me there to explain. And of course a blog (especially for someone as private as I am) is a small, small, heavily edited slice of the life. I'm thinking, too, about the blogs I come across where someone has decided to split off some topics to a separate blog, or the others where someone has decided to abandon a second effort to pull it all back into one main blog. At first I was mystified why someone would (a) want to maintain more than one blog and (b) why someone would think the topics and/or audiences were so separate as to warrant the division. Further into it all now, I think I can understand that a little more -- the desire to separate out parts of our lives (avoiding the whole Seinfeld "worlds colliding" thing). But it's all one collision, no matter how hard we try.

This image is one from my recently abandoned journal; I'm trying to get inspired to take it up again. Relatedly (or not?) Kahne commented that she was surprised by the picture of me -- I didn't look the way she thought I would. I think that's kind of why I put it up there, in the spirit of more full disclosure -- that this is literally who I am. Now I just need to decide what it is that I'm doing; any ideas? Apparently anything but cleaning is possible.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

The need for speed

Yesterday morning I was bit by the "I want to make something right now" bug; the kind where I wanted to start and finish something (I don't seem to get the "I want to work on finishing a WIP" bug often enough) NOW. It wasn't a good day for it -- Dean had his first soccer game of the season and we had to go to the in-laws for a belated Easter dinner (with barely time for Dean to shower and change in between). But I forged ahead to make a case for my new magnifiers, and here it is.

When I went for my eye exam recently, I told the doctor that I really wanted to leave with a prescription for bi-focal contacts. I am very, very near-sighted and have to wear either glasses or (most often) contacts to function. The problem with the contacts is that they really degrade my close-up vision, so that it's nearly impossible for me to thread a needle if I'm wearing them. But, apparently my vision is such that bi-focal contacts would have a negative effect on my distance vision and that my need is not extreme enough to call for them (guess the eye doctor doesn't consider needle-threading to by a critical need). SO, instead, I was advised to pick up a pair of magnifiers (inexpensive reading glasses that you can get at the drugstore, among other places). Of course I had to wait until I found a somewhat decent looking pair (at a big bookstore, as it turns out) and then I needed something to put them in. Voila! This puppy is made with upholstery fabric left over from doing the chairs in my kitchen, is lined with pale green terry cloth purchased for making baby sleepers for Dean (never accomplished) and has a Timtex substitute (Pel-tex, I think, made by Pellon) in it to keep the case from getting completely crushed. I did no advance planning, no measuring, and no looking back -- just started cutting and sewing and making it up as I went. I didn't even bother to change the thread in my machine, so intent I was on just DOING it. Do you get like this sometimes? Just throw caution to the wind in the drive to make something NOW? It feels good to have this done; now if I can just remember to take it along with me (spare me from getting to the point where I feel compelled to buy a "glasses leash" to wear the things around my neck...).

Friday, April 13, 2007

'Tis done

Dean was kind enough this morning to take a break from his video game to snap this Polaroid (we're still digital-camera-less) -- I'd had a different picture in my own mind, to show a bit more detail of the shirt. But, here is some blurry proof that the kimono top is finished and that I am actually wearing it today. There was just one snap I had to sew with threads that are visible on the front of the shirt, but I think you'd really have to be looking to find them so for now I'm leaving it as is. We'll see what a washing and ironing does, and in the meantime I'm thinking about a skirt pattern for another hunk of long-ago purchased fabric that's been languishing in the stash....

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

For the asking

I have a pair of standard pillow cases, roughly 30 years old, stamped with a cabbage rose design to be cross-stitch embroidered. The quality of the cotton is not great -- it is pretty coarse (ah, label says 50%/50% with poly, so that's why) -- and the cases are still stiff with sizing and a bit dusty. I am offering the pair to whomever puts the first comment on this post (and do be sure to let me know how to get in touch with you so I can send them along). I am thinking these would be good for a child who is interested in embroidering, mostly because when she bought this pair for herself, my mom also bought me a pair (different design) which I worked on while at summer camp way back when:

I just know that I'm not going to do the second pair, and would like to send it along to someone who will (child or child-at-heart!?).

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Snap to it

My mother was an incredible seamstress. She's still alive (hurray!) but she doesn't sew anymore, which is why I say it in the past tense. Her maternal grandfather was a tailor; he had his shop in the Harris Bank Building in downtown Chicago (which, if you are a Chicagoan of certain age you may realize meant that this tailor was big-time). I don't think his daughter, my grandmother, sewed much at all but he did teach my mother to sew with all the precision of a tailor. She could make anything, and the things she sewed never, ever looked homemade. I think she was particularly fond of seeing people's jaws drop when, after admiring something she had on (a winter coat, a tailored jacket, a perfectly fitted dress) she'd tell them she'd made it. My notions box is filled with things like this snap package that came from my mother's collection of sewing supplies and while sometimes I hesitate to use these treasures, I like to think I'm making some deep connection to the past.

I am a long way away from being able to make things that do NOT look homemade. [things = clothing] And I have this make it up as I go along approach that can be problematic. I did finish the kimono shirt itself yesterday (although I'm considering taking out some stitching to do over) but am now faced with solving the "closure" issue since I opted to go without the ties that the pattern called for. I've got these snaps out today because I think I'm going to put snaps inside; the challenge is what to do with the two places where the threads from sewing on the snaps will show on the outside. I'm thinking about making two small squares of fabric to applique over these spots (I briefly considered buttons but thought they'd be a little ridiculously out of place on an Asian-inspired piece.) I'm trying very hard not to let these last challenges keep me from finishing, and as much as I don't want to take out stitches and re-sew anything, I also don't want this to collect dust in my closet because I don't like wearing it because it looks TOO homemade. There's a great scene in one of Beverly Cleary's Ramona books, when Ramona and her best friend decide to have their moms make them identical dresses out of a print with monkeys on it, and the friend's dress comes out perfectly and Ramona's is all kind of wrong because her mom isn't much for sewing. As a child, I knew exactly what Ramona's friend felt like, wearing her utterly perfect homemade dress and skipping off happily to school. As an adult, I know what Ramona felt like....

Monday, April 9, 2007

More for a Monday

Sometime later today, if all goes according to plan (a very big "if"), then this bit of fabric and pins will be finished off with a result looking something like...

...this. Essentially view 'C' but without contrasting fabric or the ties -- sort of a jacket/shirt to be worn over a short-sleeved, dressy tee-shirt. This was the fabric I almost used for an apron. Certainly an apron, or a skirt, could have been the wiser choice given the very directional print which I knew would cause me problems. I will get a picture of myself in the finished product to post it and see how much you think I should be bothered by my error. I haven't done this kind of garment sewing in a long time; I've been pretty much working with polar fleece if I've been sewing clothing which is SO forgiving.... These Simplicity patterns can be a pain because they don't always give you the details you'd like in your directions (at least one step was just completely missing) and the way they had me sew the arm sleeve and then the body together caused some weird gathering at the armpits that I can't seem to put right (the solace is that the two sides are exactly the same). If this project survives a washing, ironing, and repeated wearing, then I may tackle view 'E' which replaces the cross-over front with a center closure, but that's getting too far ahead of myself for now. Still have the hamster head banner to quilt (though I did get it basted) and eleventy-million other things to finish up, and a bathroom to scrub and a project room to clean and the remains of the Easter dinner dishes to dispense with. So off I go.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Happy Easter

Happy spring. If Easter is not your holiday, I simply wish you joy and peace at the turning of the seasons--

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Change the world

You can find Charlotte Lyon's free pattern for this Woolie Chick here; it was a breeze to put together and I am eager to set it out for Dean to find tomorrow morning. Several years ago I purchased a set of hand-dyed, felted wools without knowing what I'd do with them and I guess it does prove how nice it is to have on hand the materials you need when you eventually do sit down to make something. If I had started sooner, I would have made a whole flock and given a couple to Dean's teacher -- maybe it's not too late to do that.

One of the underlying tenets of Dean's school is to teach children that they themselves, as individuals, make a difference in the world and in fact have a responsibility to bring about positive change. Dean and I wrote a letter to his pediatrician recently; she's the head of pediatrics at the health center and we urged her to turn off the televisions in the waiting area for upcoming Turn Off Your TV Week. Last year, Dean had an appointment that week and we were both disappointed that our ONLY tv-viewing transgression came when we were exposed to the tv in the waiting room. We suggested hanging a sign on the tvs, explaining about the week and encouraging families to read or talk together while they waited and to ask them to consider participating in the week at home. Well, imagine our surprise and delight yesterday when we got a letter back from the doctor's office, telling us that our letter was discussed at a departmental meeting and that they've ultimately decided to REMOVE the televisions from the pediatrics area all together! They will solicit more book donations -- apparently many of their books end up being taken, but given that the center serves families of all economic backgrounds it is nice to think that for some this is the only way to get books into their homes. Dean and I will bring in a box of books to donate when we go in for his check-up in a few weeks. Dean was overwhelmed by the result of his letter and I was pleased all the way around -- yes, we can make a difference in the world!
If you've never done it before, I can highly recommend turning off your tv (and computers, and electronic games) for a week. It helps you remember all the other things you enjoy doing with your free time and makes you think about your choices more critically. I know it will be hard for me in a couple of weeks to go without blogging, but I'll vow to get some WIPs finished up and that's the week before Dean's birthday party so I won't want for things to do!

Friday, April 6, 2007

A Good Friday to you, too

I don't have a copy of it, but somewhere there's a picture of me with my brothers and sister on Easter Sunday, on the way to church no doubt, all dressed up in our new Easter clothes and hats and socks and shoes. My mom sounded a little disappointed last week when I had to answer that, no, we didn't have any new clothes that we'd be dressing in come Easter -- for her the connection between Easter and some new finery seems unbreakable. She definitely would have made and worn this golden number here, even with her hair like that; there is no question she led a more glamorous life than I. Adults spent more adult time, together as grown-ups and without the children around, back then, and had more opportunity to dress up (although there's no denying that the game was to impress each other). I can't imagine having a party and consigning Dean to the upstairs, leaving him to peek down the stairs at the swirling dresses and cigarette smoke and to hear the clink of ice in cocktails until being seen and being told to go back to bed. I just cannot imagine the adult side of that life.

A whirlwind couple of days ahead, getting ready, coloring eggs, cleaning up, going to the grocery store, fitting everything around soccer and hoping for a fruitful visit from the Big Bunny. I just hope the snow business stops here soon -- I just realized that there was NO snow around at Christmas time, and here we are at Easter and the back steps of our yard are still hidden under a mound of ice....

Thursday, April 5, 2007

It's working

Dean had a fabulous birthday yesterday (and thank you for the well wishes!). We had family visiting for the day; my nephew and his wife in from Chicago, along with my brother and his wife up from Connecticut, all participants in Dean's master-plan day of fun (out to lunch at Legal's, all the guys to see the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle movie, a quick stop at Toys R Us to use the gift card from grandma and grandpa, back to our house for some Mario Kart racing, take-out Chinese and homemade chocolate/chocolate birthday cake). It IS good to be 9.

While the guys were in the movie, we women headed over to a nearby mall to stroll -- the weather was less-than-charming (sleet! snow!) and none of us had a particular need or agenda so it seemed the best plan. OK, I sort of had a secret-agenda hope of heading over to a huge fabric/crafts store in the area, but the weather and the fact that it seemed a little too self-serving held me back. Anyway, I was amazed by how easy my resolve seems to be holding -- I really had no desire to buy any clothes for myself and I believe that going a year without clothing purchases is going to work. The only store that almost got me was Crate and Barrel, but even the siren call of kitchenwares fell ultimately on deaf ears. I did get Dean a new battery for his watch, and the Steve Irwin memorial wristband he'd been wanting, but otherwise bought nothing and had no desire to buy anything. My nephew and his wife are expecting their first baby in July, so I stored up plenty of baby gift ideas, but I do now walk through a maze of stores thinking how we just don't need any of it, and it feels freeing. Oh, the perfume lady accosted me in the big department store -- disgusting. Couldn't wait to wash the stuff off. But that's nothing new.... I know I wouldn't have been able to hold back had we indeed hit the fabric store (I even had a dream about Timtex the other night, and about a woman who was telling me about an alternate product that was just like Timtex) so it's just as well we didn't venture there. Guess that will be the real test for me at some point -- to spend time in a fabric store and come out empty-handed.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Happy Birthday

This picture was not taken today, so I can't say, "THIS is what 9 looks like," but it was taken recently and is a favorite and is what almost 9 looks like. It is simply unbelievable to me how time is zooming by -- the last 4 or 5 years especially seem to have passed in half the time they should have taken. Today, as is our tradition, we have all taken the day off to celebrate; Dean was overjoyed to walk downstairs this morning to streamers and balloons and presents, wearing the birthday crown. And sunglasses. Even though the poor little sun was barely, barely up yet. He comes by his early rising rightfully -- he was born at 6:17 a.m.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Oh to be in England

Presenting one little slice of a view of the back of the. finished. quilt. I need to throw it in the wash today, make and apply a label, make and apply a sleeve, and hang it up -- once it's installed I'll take a picture (and then get the film developed) and post it (that alone seems like a good goal for the month!). Gosh, it feels good to be done. So many other WIPs to choose from for my next feat of finishing....

Ken surprised me yesterday by taking me out to see The Queen. Dean was off on a movie date of his own, gone to see The Last Mimzy with Uncle Bob and Sue. I'd wanted to see The Queen as soon as I heard about it, but had given up and only hoped to perhaps rent it one day -- I just couldn't find a time it was playing when I could see it and pick Dean up after school on time. Ken and I have gone out alone to see, I believe, 3 movies (4, counting this one) since Dean was born (um, 9 years ago Wednesday!). We don't (or choose not to) have babysitters, nor family near enough to be able to make arrangements to go out -- all this just by way of saying what a big deal it was to get out yesterday to do this. It was a glorious, sunny day, and when I realized what Ken's surprise was, I almost insisted we not go in (I figured it was a girl movie, and that we shouldn't waste a sunny day inside a dark theater) but I didn't want to ruin the effort Ken had put into making this happen. Well. Thank goodness we did go.

This was one of the best movies I have seen. And it was NOT a girl movie -- Ken was equally blown away. The acting is unbelievably good, the story is masterfully crafted, and it gave us insights we'd never had on the monarchy (I think this is *probably* more true for American audiences that UK, but perhaps someone can correct me if I'm wrong). I don't just mean about how Diana's death was handled (the tragedy of her death still brings me to tears, and I'm not the sort who cries much at all, let alone during movies) -- I mean more broadly, about their isolation and view of the world that comes from a world that has long since passed. I don't want to say too much more about the movie because I so hope that if you haven't seen it, you will. Utterly amazing. (OK, one more thing -- I hope that Prince Charles truly was broken up by her death and that it wasn't just a decision the movie-makers made. I lost all respect for him years ago, after the mess he'd made of her life knowing full well that he didn't love her and that he didn't intend to give up HIS good time while totally destroying her changes at happiness and love.)

Read Kahne's April Fool's story before thinking about any foolishness at your house today!