Thursday, August 30, 2007

This, that, and the other thing

1. I love vintage board games (mostly because I played them all during my childhood when they were simply the games of the day!). These cards are from the 1957 edition of Wide World, which is often available on eBay -- it's a family game I can highly recommend. We played it just the other day and I lost again, but I'm OK with that.

2. Thirty minutes, tops, from into-the-shower to ready-to-go. That's my mantra.

3. No TV watching during the day!

4. Always re-pay a debt.

5. Be on time and be dependable.

6. Birthdays are precious; celebrate accordingly.

7. Be prepared! Make a list!

8. I get all my magic powers from coffee. Two cups of coffee a day.

Heidi tagged me for the "8 things about me" deal and even though I did one of these last month, I thought I'd give it one more go. I'm delighted to see that more and more of the bloggers who'd signed off for the summer are returning; have you checked out Jenny over at all sorts recently?

(BTW, I did not do the little watercolor from my previous post -- it was a gift.) Hey, have you been stopping by but not leaving comments? Take a moment and say 'hello!'

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

An optimist is someone who expects all the crayons to be in the box.

-- Emily S., age 5

Monday, August 27, 2007

Oh boy

Ken has commented to me, not unfairly, that my collage work tends to be very feminine. This can be an issue when I'm making calendars for men (I gave Ken his 2008 calendar for his birthday and he loved it; now I'm working on another gift for a male friend with an upcoming birthday). There's no question that I do my best work for myself -- that's not out of "saving the best for me," but rather a reflection of the fact that the materials and images I collect and the stories I tell are most meaningful to me. So it's a good challenge then to make these for other people. I'm also happy to be working ahead; this current project -- part of a pair, actually, for husband and wife friends who have birthdays close together -- will get mailed in late October and I'm glad to be able to have the time to enjoy the process and not feel under the gun just to finish.

Do you know about the lunar eclipse coming our way? Be sure to try and get a glimpse if you can.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Tuning back in

I didn't mean to disappear; the lack of action here was counterbalanced with almost frenzied activity out here in real-world-ville. We've had out-of-town family visiting, we celebrated my brother Chris' 50th birthday, we did day trips , traveled farther afield, saw friends, hiked, fished, ate (and how!) and generally enjoyed ourselves dawn to dusk. Today is going to be quiet, catch-up time before back to work next week and then back to school the week after that.

In all the commotion I did manage to make the binding for my quilt; it is attached on the front but now I need to do the hand sewing to tack it to the back. The approach of fall gives me the spark to pick up the pace on my own projects and to get back to the Christmas-gift making. I'm not sure if it is a reflection of our collective advancing age, or a reflection of the times, but I'm amazed and delighted that my resolve to give primarily homemade gifts seems to have been met recently with more genuine appreciation than ever before -- people seem so happy to have been given something that was made just for them. Makes it worthwhile, and takes away some of my -- guilt? concern? -- at not being able to spend much money on gifts. When people seem happier with the simple handmade thing than they would be with something I'd gone out and shopped for, I feel this whole effort has been the right way to go. So this lights the fire to get going on Christmas!

For now, though, we are focusing on taking in these last days of summer. More time outdoors, more stops at farm stands, more ice cream (if that's even possible!). I feel ready for the adventures, and for the start of the new year feeling that always comes with the start of school.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Happy Birthday, Ken!

A sudden birthday wish of Ken's had us in Boston today, to see the Edward Hopper exhibit at the MFA before it closes on Sunday. Two museums in a week is such an incredible treat now, where it would have been just routine back in the day. Every time we go into Boston recreationally, it seems some massive changes have been made; the city is changing at a truly mind-boggling pace. It's depressing to me that museums are becoming so expensive that they now exclude so many, and unbelievable that the changes to the city's transit system make it even harder to use than it was before. New England has a weird, but strong undercurrent of "insider-ness," or this unwillingness to make it easy for outsiders to navigate -- the old Vermonter "you can't get there from here" thing is not only true, it's by design. But I DO digress, because the point really was that we had a wonderful time.

I've finished quilting but need to bind my small broken dishes quilt -- hurray! A project will be completed this summer! I'll take pictures of it and a few of the other things I've been promising; nothing like checking stuff off the list.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Day of Beauty

Thanks to Heidi's mentioning it, we were able to go to Salem today to see the Joseph Cornell exhibit at the Peabody Essex Museum. Even though I'm loathe to spend a summer's day indoors, it was kind of hot today and because it is a "tax free" weekend in Massachusetts, it meant that the museum was relatively deserted since so many people are out buying stuff today. Perfect, then, all the way around. In addition to the breathtaking Cornell exhibit, there was a great origami show and the museum put fantastic step-by-step videos on their site (Dean made the frog and the puppy all on his own). We've struggled trying to make origami from printed, book instruction but these videos are great. A major disadvantage to living outside a city is the extra effort involved in experiencing cultural activities and events. One of the trade-offs of hearing and seeing hawks rather than airplanes overhead. But a successful outing like today's will mean we'll do more this fall; there's a quilt museum in Lowell that I haven't been to in years. Next on the list?

Friday, August 10, 2007

So nice

Linda was kind enough to nominate me for a blogger's "Nice Matters" award and I am very touched. Linda has been one of those people you meet online who make the whole blogging experience worthwhile, and who help make the world seem so small (she's all the way in Tasmania!). I guess you'll know what I mean if you, too, have been exploring down this road, but it just amazes, delights, amuses me to no end that I can look up now, at this very moment, and look at things Linda herself has sent me, all the way from Tasmania. It makes our friendship real, solid -- not "virtual" in any sense of the word -- and I love that.

I now get to share this kindness with 5 others. It will be very easy to nominate Felicia, who has been a good, cheery, kind, and generous online friend. Mary and Heidi are both fairly new friends who've stopped by with only nice things to say and who keep up delightful sites of their own. Helen has been the very definition of nice since I met her through a swap, and I will always appreciate that Amanda was the first person to include me in her list of blog links. It is very hard to stop at five, but there you go.

Thursday, August 9, 2007


I'm not usually a fan of yo-yo quilts; they don't seem like real quilts to me when they are the sewn-together strings of yo-yos with all the gaps in between. Just not cozy. But this quilt caught my eye, with the yo-yos appliqued on a top and then the whole thing backed and quilted. I like the cheeriness of the red and whites, too. It's from this catalog, if you're curious. And no, I still haven't finished any of my current quilting projects yet.

Today is Bob C.'s 40th birthday -- Happy Birthday, Bob! Bob is the youngest brother of my best friend growing up, Pat. Their family lived next door to us, and we all grew up together (the 7 kids in their family and me) in the best kind of neighborhood way. I was five when Bob was born, and I have such vivid memories of his babyhood and childhood; for me, he's one of those people who can never be "old;" he'll always be the youngest one of the gang. It doesn't hurt that he's also always been a truly kind, sweet person -- those qualities always seem to make people young for life in the best possible way.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Good clean fun

Have you tried making soap yet? Wow -- what a fun, easy craft, and couldn't be more perfect for kids. The whole thing was Dean's idea, actually. We were harvesting basil from the pot on the back deck and he paused to talk about how the smell of basil is one of his favorites. This led him to observe that it would make a great smelling soap, which is why we headed right out to Michael's the next day. I had saved instructions from an old issue of MSL and was able to put my hands on them (a minor miracle, being able to find something I'd saved); you really don't need more than the instruction on the glycerin base package, but if you want to be ultra-prepared, here's what Martha says. [If the link won't work, go to and search 'soap making.'] I knew the molded plastic bear packaging that came with the little bear cake/bread molds Dean picked out not long ago would come in handy someday and it did work perfectly for his basil bear soap. We used mini tartlet pans for the oatmeal/vanilla bean soaps. It would appear that you simply cannot make bad soap (unless perhaps you get too out-of-hand with the stuff you try to add?) and we're thinking about the gift-making possibilities already....

Wanted to report, while I'm at it, on my first foray into the Martha Stewart line at Michael's. I guess different stores have the option of how much Martha they offer; the store I visited had what seemed a pretty measly, half-aisle selection (others have described endless delights, row upon row of goodies). I bought the one thing I was actually looking for -- an 8.75 x 11.25" "specimen box" (shadow box frame) for the chipmunk by Dean. The $17.99 price was ridiculously high, which I realized after I got it home and discovered that the box is topped in clear plastic, not glass (couldn't tell for sure at the store and I guess I had hoped for the best). The plastic was scratched, which you couldn't see because of the shrink-wrapping. The Martha label was glued -- glued! -- to the box on the outside (um, yeah, the part that shows) and the specimen pins they included were about 1/4" or more too long (pressing the pins in as far as they will go to hold up the thing you are displaying in the box still leaves the pins sticking out too far for the lid to close -- I had to cut the pins). If the price tag had been $7.99, I would have accepted these issues with good grace, but the quality and price are sorely misaligned. I may bite, in future, on some of her smaller stuff in the line, but I won't be rushing out anytime soon to do so.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Be careful out there

If you've ever loved a pet, loved a cat, then read this post. I will warn you that it is sad, and I will tell you that it made me cry. {EDITED: I realized from Felicia's comment that I inadvertently may have misled you -- the link goes to the most beautifully written tribute to a beloved cat who died of natural causes -- it is NOT about anyone doing anything bad to an animal -- I see that my photo and the text may have made you think otherwise} For what it's worth, I will also tell you that I am NOT the kind of person who cries easily. At all. I do not cry at sappy movies and I didn't cry at my wedding and I didn't cry when my son was born (OK, I'm getting off track, but you see my point). No fewer than 1,711 people who read that post were moved to comment on it.

I love that I can drop in from time to time at Laurie's blog and become instantly immersed in her usually laugh-out-loud story of her life (although I've just told you that she can also make me cry). I don't have a link to her because I figure if you've found my little blog, you've probably already passed through any huge number of blogs that link to Crazy Aunt Purl and she really doesn't need any more traffic at this point. 1,711 comments. AND a book in the works! I keep my link list pretty small because I hope it will help draw attention to some less-trafficked blogs (though some of these are quite popular...). It in no way reflects my bookmarked blog list, which is so long that Dean often asks me if I've hit the limit yet of the number of sites I can bookmark. I've recently done some refreshing of my little link list here on your right; I'm trying to switch some around periodically to keep things fresh.

I'm not sure where I meant to go with all this, other than to try to stop thinking about bridges and about how if we took all the resources (people, money) that we're pouring into Iraq and instead used them to inspect and repair our bridges, then maybe it wouldn't take "generations" for US bridges to be considered safe.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Gov. Tim Pawlenty said the bridge was inspected by the Minnesota Department of Transportation in 2005 and 2006 and that no structural problems were noted. "There were some minor things that needed attention," he said.

How can this be? How can everyone so instantly claim that there were no "structural problems" -- bridges don't just collapse. And isn't this the second bridge in the US to collapse this week? Why are these critical infrastructure components failing -- aren't they being properly inspected and maintained? I feel paralyzed with grief and frustration.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

If at first you don't receive

I am hatching a plan to try to convince Dean to give me this bracelet he made yesterday in zoo camp. I want to be subtle about it, and want to leave him a guilt-free out, seeing as he did make it for himself. No, this won't be like the time he made the chipmunk for Grandma and when I saw it I told him, in no uncertain terms, that he could absolutely not give it to Grandma and that he HAD to give it to me (even though he'd already written "to grandma from dean" on the back). I did of course offer to gather the supplies so he could make another one, or something else, for Grandma, but he declined and so it remains forever mine. So anyway, I love this bracelet and it fits me. Wish me luck.

This is the half-way point for Dean's last week of zoo camp. It is about 25 minutes away from our house and my only regret about the drive is that there is not one, single, solitary grocery store on the route (and there are no alternate routes). It's a beautiful drive for the most part, past many small farms and down winding country roads; there are places where people put out little card tables with bounty from their gardens and coffee cans for an honor-system to pay. There's one house -- well two, now that I think on it -- that always seem to have birdhouses for sale. But there's no place to stop for a gallon of milk or the ingredients for Asian Chicken Salad
and alas that means a 15-minute drive in a different direction (30 minutes round trip). So I'm trying to figure out how to live off the fat of our land here and make it a few more days without extra driving. Wish me luck.