Friday, March 31, 2006

Bad news, good news

WOE IS ME! This sad little Ipod face is appearing on my Ipod all of a sudden. This is NOT good. You know how much I love my Ipod, yes? I tried all of the reset/restore options but this frownie face just won't go away and the thing seems frozen. Oh dear. In my distress, I rushed to the Apple store at my local mall where the tech guy informed me that because I have the HP version and it's out of warranty, Apple couldn't work on it and this symbol probably means that the hard drive needs replacing.

This is DISASTER, folks. I have spent time online and am somewhat calmed after talking to a non-Apple Ipod repair guy who informed me that this symbol can show up for things as minor as a disconnected inner wire or something. So, I am sending my Ipod off into the wide world to to an Ipod spa and hoping that it comes back playing music and podcasts just as happily as ever. We'll see.

Strangely, I feel almost as disconnected as one does when the computer crashes or one's internet connection is broken. It's very weird. Roger, knowing my distress, suggested that it might be worthwhile to get a smaller, cheaper one to hold me over while this one is sorted out. Isn't that nice? I suspect that there's Etch-a-Sketch-ness going on here, as he knows darn well that if my original beloved Ipod comes back all fixed, he'll then get to abscond with the replacement. But that's okay. I am checking out refurbished Ipods and will see if that makes sense.

This is especially frustrating as I'm told that my dear, dear, friend Annie Smith (who I've never met and have barely emailed with but she has obvious good taste so I'm sure we WOULD be good friends) talks about ME in her newest Quilting Stash podcast as the result of some thoughts I emailed to her! I know, I can just stream the thing over my computer and listen to it that way. But c'mon, podcasts just seem more fun when they're ... um, you know, cast on a pod!

But on to happier thoughts...

I've just finished the most interesting novel I've read in a long time. It was "Popco" by Scarlet Thomas. It's the story of Alice Butler, a young woman who works in the "ideation and design" department of a big toy company. She and her co-workers go off on a company retreat with the task of creating a product for teen girls, and Alice's internal and actual explorations around this task are the focus of the book. It's a fascinating, quirky, smart book-- and lots of ideas to think about. You get math, puzzles, cryptography, marketing philosophy, memories of adolesence... even a cake recipe. This book takes some work -- but you learn a lot, cover a lot of fascinating stuff, and I didn't want to put it down once I started it.

And another bit of happy news...Remember that dog case I was working on, where a veterinarian had found a good home for a young dog after it had been relinquished, but then the original owners tried to reclaim it? Well, the case has now settled and the dog gets to stay with the current owners. The original owners (who are a divorced couple who were still fighting over which one of THEM got to reclaim the dog...when they both live in apartments where they're not allowed to have pets) got a bit of cash. So, they're happy and the folks who have taken the dog in and cared for it over the past 9 months are happy because they love the dog, and the vets are happy because the court's order acknowledged that they didn't do anything wrong.

You have to take your happy endings where you can find them.

Now, if only I had my Ipod to listen to...

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Fresh Dreams do come true!

See this wreath? It's from the Coldwater Creek catalog, and sells for $35. They've had something similar at this time of year for about 2 years now, and I've loved it all this time. The egg wreath in years past has been more bluish in color, which I preferred, and I think it was originally $44. I've wanted it, but not enough to spring $44 for it.

Well, look what I found at SAFEWAY -- yep, the grocery store-- for $14.99!!

What a find, eh? $14.99!!! And yes, that's our blue front door. Doesn't it look perfect?

Melody asked for a picture of the Dream Freshener. Here it is. I know, it's all wonky. But that's what you get when you wad up some pink silk with a sparkly organza over it and pin it together so it hides a can of air freshener! (Hey, it was 9:30 at night and I just grabbed what was at hand!)

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Sweet Dreams

Yes, my head is still stuffed with cotton. And now my voice is wobbling like an adolescent boy's. What do you bet that by the end of the week I won't have one at all? (A voice, I mean, not a boy...)

And what is on my plate today? Reading and analyzing an insurance policy. Always good when one's head is fuzzy. Oh well... those policies never make sense anyway.

On the mommy front, I scored big points last night. Caroline was restless at bedtime, worrying that she would have nightmares about the health teacher's photos of lungs of heavy smokers. (Now, I'm all for giving kids information about how bad smoking is...but I'm getting tired of the tuesday-night-post-health-teacher-visit anxiety.)

"Wait a minute," I said, and dashed into my studio and rustled around in the fabric stash for a bit. "Ah, here it is..." In Caroline's room, I produced an artfully wrapped cylinder of gauzy fabric, out of which protruded a small spray nozzle.

"This will make sure you don't have nightmares," I said.

"What is it?"

"Dream Freshener," I replied, spritzing some around Caroline's room and over her bed.


"Yep. It clears away the thoughts that cause nightmares and makes sure you sleep well."

"Where'd you get it?" Caroline asked, suspicious but wanting to believe.

"At the grocery have to hunt for it, but it's right near the air fresheners."

Caroline looked skeptical, but as I bent to kiss her goodnight, she murmered, "One more spray of dream freshener over in that corner?"

I sprayed a last spritz toward her desk. And you know, Caroline was sound asleep in minutes, without a peep.

Are you listening, Glade folks?

Monday, March 27, 2006

You've got to love it...

I came across this page in a Japanese craft magazine, and it makes me smile.

Check out the craft magazines at ... They show you a few inner pages of each (from which this one came) and make for very fun browsing.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Pass the tissues, please...

I seem to have been stricken by the Spring Head Cold so I am feeling as if my head is stuffed with cotton. Roger has just gone off to the store to fetch kleenex, gingerale, and strawberry ice cream, as well as the fixings for his wonderful chicken vegetable soup. So I am in good hands.

You know that workshop project I was fiddling with on EQ5 to design a quilt that sort of disguised a quilt block? Well, I tried all sorts of things and finally decided to simplify my computer design a bit and just sew it, triangles and all. So I got it to this stage:

Yikes, it's bright, huh? I just made the block out of fabric that seemed fun at the time, not intending to branch out into a bigger quilt. I've used every single scrap of that Kaffe Fassett purple bubbles fabric, which I adore.

I might try sewing this all together and adding borders so I can float loose triangles away from the blocks. Caroline looked at this and said, "Oh, I's being nibbled away!" If she gets the idea, then I guess it's heading in the right direction.

Meanwhile, the school science fair last week put Caroline in the mood to experiment. She was intent on making a volcano with flour and water and salt dough.

With water, food coloring, vinegar, and baking soda, we had pink and blue lava:

I suppose a really good mom would have looked up on the internet to explain WHY this vinegar/baking soda thing works, but I just stood there saying "Ooh, how pretty!"

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Musical Fortune Telling

You all know how much I adore my Ipod, right? Well, when I saw this meme as I was cruising craft blogs earlier this morning, it reminded me of those games we used to play as kids, and I wanted to play too!

To play this, you need an Ipod or Mp3 player with a "shuffle" feature that allows random shuffling among all the music stored on it. You can even do this on your computer music library, if it’ll let you shuffle. Answer each question by shuffling to the next song to see what song comes up...and there’s the answer to your question! See? It’s more fun than the Magic 8 Ball!

Give it a try! And comment here with your link if you post yours...I'd love to see what your musical answers are!

How does the world see me?
Parallel Life by Alice Peacock
I love this song... it’s all about the things you would or could do.

Will I have a happy life?
Anytime You Need a Friend by the Beu Sisters
I’m only slightly embarrassed to admit that I adore this song, from the soundrack of the Disney movie "Home on the Range." And I take this answer as a "yes," thanks to my great friends!

What do my friends really think of me?
Somebody That I Used to Know by Elliott Smith

Do people secretly lust after me?
Anything Can Happen by the Finn Brothers
Ha ha ha!

How can I make myself happy?
Straighten Up and Fly Right by Rosemary Clooney
Oh, dear...

What should I do with my life?
Wrong Turn by Jack Johnson
I’m guessing this meme was written by a 20 year old, huh?

Will I ever have children? Wooden Ships by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young
Not sure what to make of this...

What is some good advice for me?
Turn Around by Rosemary Clooney
Hmm, this requires thinking about...

How will I be remembered?
When a Man Loves a Woman by Bette Midler
Well, that’s nice...I’ll have to tell Roger about this.

What is my signature dance song?
Walking My Baby Back Home by James Taylor
Well, I am walking the dog a lot these days...

What do I think my current theme song is?
Another Small Adventure, Chantal Kreviazuk

What song will play at my funeral?
Waltz #2 by Elliott Smith
Hey, I could live with, I mean, not LIVE but, well, you know...

What type of men do I like?
Where Happiness Lives by Magnet
At least it wasn’t "Cold Hearted Snake" by Paula Abdul

What is my day going to be like?
In My Mind by Kristine Sa
I DO have to work today...

Interesting, huh? Sort of like a musical tarot reading. So, c'mon! Give it a try, and let me know what your results are.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Block, block, where's the block?

I've mentioned before that I'm in this ongoing design workshop. Several weeks ago, our task was to take a traditional block and use its structure to design and sew a new block. I made this:

The current task is to do something with the block that is nontraditional...that is, not just make it the center of a medallion, or make a straight forward quilterly grid with it.

I started thinking about the idea of doing something that hides the block, sort of. So, I started playing with Electric Quilt 5, which is great for design projects like this. You can try things out and get a sense of how they'll look without lots of cutting and sewing.

I played a bit with the idea of using the block but having it nibbled away in various stages and came up with this:

But yikes! I I really, really don't want to sew that! Still, it was fun to try it out and see how it'd look.

Now I'm thinking of cutting up the block and going from there. I've printed out copies of the block on the computer and will cut up PAPER versions before I cut up the block I so carefully pieced!

And, by the way, I want to thank EVERYONE who commented or emailed me about my last entry on Caroline's social issues at school. We are talking, talking, talking, and you gave me useful ideas to work with. Cathy Stewart pointed me to information on gifted girls, and I've done a lot of reading in the last two days. The issues Caroline is dealing with, and the way she responds to them, are PRECISELY the things addressed in the research regarding social and emotional issues for gifted girls in elementary school! So, I've gotten a lot of information and ideas and will be exploring a lot of avenues in the near future. Thanks again, everyone, for the kind and thoughtful support!

Monday, March 20, 2006

The Agony of the Playground

This has been a rough morning, and it's only 9:39 am.

Caroline was weepy and depressed this morning, suffering from huge anxiety over the complicated 4th-grade girl hierarchy on the playground. The big issues of who is friends with who, who said what painful thing to whom, and how to play with the nice girls and avoid the mean girls have consumed a lot of time and energy around here. And it's hard to know what to say.

I remember those difficult feelings from elementary school all too well. And Caroline is sensitive (or thin skinned) and has a hard time figuring out how to handle it all. When I propose things to say or ways of handling certain mean girls, she replies, wide-eyed, "But that wouldn't be NICE!" So we talk about the importance of sticking up for yourself and your friends, about how you can choose to give mean kids power by letting them bother you, and how you can get some of that power back by acting as if they don't bother you...

Oh, my. I totally understood her wanting to huddle in bed hugging her stuffed panda all day.

Some days I feel like that myself, in fact.

For today, we coped by having a long talk, having breakfast at our own pace, then arriving at school a bit late. And we have arranged a playdate after school today with her friend Selena, which makes her happy and gives her something to look forward to.

Me? I just wanted to keep her home, to sit with her and hug her and not send her off to face all that complicated social stuff at school. But the hard job of a mommy is to help your child learn to face the difficult things in life, isn't it?

By the way, for those of you moms who've raised girls through this sort of thing, I'd appreciate any suggestions you have to offer!

Can I go curl up with MY panda now?

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Odds and Ends

This weekend has been all about getting little stuff done.

I delivered Silvia's quilt to her on Saturday, and she got tears in her eyes when she saw it. That was nice to see! She's probably back in Guatemala by now, but we'll see her and her family in November when they return for another visit, so that'll be nice.

I got the binding put on MY Neighbors and Friends 2 quilt, and even got a movie in while doing it. Roger and I watched "The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind," odd but charming and interesting in the same way that "Being John Malkovich" was. Funny, quirky, serious, and strange.

We delivered Caroline's science project to the science fair, too. She did her project on whether ponies can learn how to find a carrot! She did a careful experiement with 3 of the ponies at the stable where she takes her lesson, and made a great poster board with photos of the ponies being tested. She decorated the whole thing with construction paper carrots.

And when we got home, she was so thrilled with science that she just HAD to make a flour/salt/water volcano with bubbling lava (a vinegar/baking soda reaction). She had fun doing that while I made a batch of spicy barbecue sauce for tonight's dinner... The volcano was exciting, for all of about 5 seconds of foaming lava.

Oh well. I was able to convince her that it'd be FUN to wash the dishes. She's still young enough to be a bit gullible.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Portable Quilt Shows

I posted a while back about discovering the fun of podcasts, and I'm writing again about it because I've been having SUCH fun with them. It makes me love my Ipod even more, and you all know that I love love LOVE my Ipod!

I've been enjoying listening to Annie Smith's Quilting Stash podcasts. From what I gather from the ones I've listened to, she's a quiltmaker and teacher more in the traditional style. But despite the lack of focus on contemporary art quilting, her podcasts are chatty bits of information about all areas of quilting. Annie has such a pleasant, melodious voice, and sounds like she's smiling the whole time. I've said before that her podcasts are like a one-sided telephone conversation with a quilt-obsessed friend. She talks about what she's working on, quilt shows or shops she's visited, books or tools she's found, all sorts of things. She interviews interesting people she encounters along the way, and gives lots of links to websites.

Yesterday, when I had 90 minutes to wait while Caroline was at her drama class, I sat at Starbucks sipping coffee, sewing binding on a quilt, and listening to a Quilting Stash podcast. It was really enjoyable.

Also, a few weeks ago, I went to visit my parents which is a 2 hour drive each way. On the way there and back, I listened to Alex Anderson's and Annie Smith's podcasts... lots of quilting info and it made the drive go really fast!

I'm also hooked on "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me," the funny NPR news quiz show. (My favorites are the ones where Paula Poundstone is a guest--I just LOVE her comedy.) So I've subscribed to that podcast and get them downloaded to my computer, too.

I've just found a whole slew of knitting podcasts. Gee, they'd be good to knit to! The only one I've listened to so far is one called "Cast On" by Brenda Dayne, and it was entertaining.

If you have Itunes on your computer (if you don't, you can download it for FREE here and it works whether you have a Mac or a PC) you can open the Itunes Music Store, go to Podcasts, and then search by any key word to find what podcasts are out there. And, via Itunes, you can subscribe to the podcasts you like so they're automatically downloaded when new issues are available. You don't have to go hunting for them.

And most of them are FREE! Totally FREE!

Neighbors and Friends

Well, I solved the dilemma of whether to give the quilt with Guatemalan fabric in it to Silvia or keep it for myself. I made another one! Brilliant, no?

Actually, I was buzzing away on the large quilt (which turned out larger than I'd originally envisioned for a gift) and thinking I really, really, REALLY wanted to keep it, when it occurred to me that I had enough extra blocks and already-cut pieces to make a smaller one to give away.

Could I do it in 24 hours? Of course. I had the top pieced by lunchtime, then got it layered and quilted after lunch, in time to start hand-sewing the binding at Starbucks while Caroline was at her drama class at 4pm. I even got to get in some sewing-binding-in-front-of-a-movie time at night, which is one of my favorite parts of making a quilt! (I watched "In Her Shoes" with Cameron Diaz and Toni Collette... okay, pleasant, but not great.)

This is still good sized, 41" x 46", actually. I even got a label on it. I've named it "Neighbors and Friends" and on the label, it says "Although we live in different countries, we share the same neighborhood in our hearts." Hokey, I know.

So, I was rather impressed with myself. Caroline's cat Jasmine kept me company for much of the day, but was rather blase about my accomplishments.

By the way, this is the softest cat in the universe...her fur is like bunny fur. And that thing she's sleeping on? That's "Neighbors and Friends 2," which I'm keeping...It's unbound as of yet, but I'll get to that shortly.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

A bit of Guatemala, a bit of Healdsburg...

Last March, Silvia brought me this gorgeous assortment of fabric from Guatemala. Interesting, to her they're ordinary and coarse and uninteresting. She has no interest in using them in quilts. To me, of course, they're vibrant and wonderful and special because they came from her.

So, last April, I mixed them with some Kaffe Fassett stripes (purchased at my favorite fabric store, Fabrications here in Healdsburg) and made a quilt top using one of my favorite Fassett quilt patterns from his first quilt book.

The top then sat in my "in progress" basket for...ahem...a year, until Silvia arrived a few days ago. That was the motivation I needed to leap into action and finish this baby! I added borders, pieced the back, layered it all, and started quilting yesterday, and here's where I am now:

I'm having great fun with it and I love all the stripes. I figure that all these little houses represent our two neighborhoods, Silvia's and mine. I'm torn between giving it to Silvia and keeping it because I like it so much! We'll see.

Dinner's in the crockpot (sesame ginger pork ribs), the dog has had her romp, and I have the day to work on this, so I'm very happy.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

The EBHQ Show

The East Bay Heritage Quilters have a show every other year in Oakland, California, and it's always a great show. This is the show weekend, so yesterday I went with good friends Pat, Janet and Rita to see it. And we had a wonderful surprise: I learned on Friday morning that our good friends Silvia and Paolo are here from Guatemala for a week, so Silvia came along, too.

It was a very fun day. For me, the best part was having Silvia meet Janet, Pat, and Rita--and vice versa. It's wonderful when friends you adore meet each other and get along. They all just clicked, as I knew they would, and were joking and teasing each other like they'd known each other for years.

(A funny aside...On our way to pick up Janet, Pat, and Rita, I was telling Silvia that Janet is 81 years old but that she didn't seem it and was an amazing woman. Later on, when we got to the quilt show, Silvia said quietly to me, "So, the old lady didn't come?" I told her that Janet was the 81-year old. Silvia's mouth dropped open, and she couldn't believe that Janet -- who has more energy than most 40 year olds I know -- was "the old lady!" We laughed and laughed at that.)

I didn't remember to bring my camera, in the rush to get out of the house in time to pick everyone up. But, as it turned out, the program had a specific copyright notice prohibiting anyone from publishing pictures taken at the show on the internet, so I wouldn't be able to post pictures here if I had taken them. Interesting, isn't it, that they stated that specifically? Smart move, actually.

The show's special exhibit, the Thomas Contemporary Quilt Collection, was an exhibition of a assortment of contemporary quilts owned by savvy collector with excellent taste. There were quilts by Noriko Endo, Ruth McDowell, Sue Benner, Elizabeth Barton, Joan Colvin, Caryl Breyer Fallert, Frieda Anderson, Freddie Moran, Dijanne Cevaal ... and more and more. I can't even imagine the pleasure of owning those quilts, but it was delightful to see them all in person. Silvia and I had just been talking about the Simply Quilts episode where Noriko Endo demonstrated her "confetti naturescapes" technique, and then we turned the corner and there was the very quilt she showed on that program. It was simply gorgeous in person.

I got to say hi to Liz Berg, who was blushingly happy with all the attention she was getting from her quilt on the Quilting Arts cover. She had "the" cover quilt there and was posing for pictures with it! She's a newly discovered celebrity, apparently, after years of hard work!

I exercised remarkable restraint and didn't buy a THING...until I hit the Foothill Fabric booth. I swear, that place is my downfall. There, I grabbed a small bundle of fabric from the new Kaffe Fassett line, the pattern that looks like rings of tree trunks. Irresistable.

We ended the day with a mexican dinner at El Torito...good margaritas, delicious food, lots of quilty talk and much laughter.

What a great day with great friends.

I'm looking forward to a few sewing days with Silvia...we keep talking about doing a project together, but haven't figured out what to do. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Great Quilting Art in Quilting Arts

I finally got the new issue of Quilting Arts magazine, and I was thrilled to see Liz Berg's gorgeous quilt on the cover!

I grabbed the mail yesterday on my way to take Caroline to her drama class (imagine, the 10 year old Drama Princess actually being able to USE her skills in a kids' acting workshop! She loves it!) so instead of rushing around town running errands while she was in class, I treated myself to a peaceful 90 minutes with a cup of tea and this new issue!

I am SO happy to see Liz's art on the cover and inside. I am in awe of Liz's composition style and her use of simple shapes with such elegance. So I was even more thrilled to find the article on composition by Liz inside. It was terrific, with excellent photo example. I can't wait for the next installment! Congrats, Liz!

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Chuckles in view

I've been sitting here at my computer a LOT over the last couple of days. Work is now officially under control, with three (count em!) big projects sent off by lunchtime yesterday.

Right next to my computer monitor is a bulletin board, and I thought I'd share a few of my favorite cartoons which are posted there to make me smile whenever I see them.

"What's the 'Death by Chocolate?'"

(If you don't get this, look closely at table in the upper right-hand corner.)

This cartoon has been near my computer ever since I was the only female partner in a law firm:

She's saying, "And I'm sure no one will mind if we fold a few clothes while we talk."

"Somewhere along the line, our sewing circle took a strange turn." I just LOVE this one.

And here's a panel from a cartoon in the New Yorker at some point by one of my favorite cartoonists, Roz Chast. It was a full panel of newly identified psychological disorders. This one describes me to a T:

"Financial Information Disorder (FID): You like money and wish you had more of it. But the minute you hear 'Capital Gains Tax' your eyeballs roll back in your head."

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Work and Play

There is nothing like getting a bunch of new work assignments in my email inbox to make me want to quilt.

Truly, I am a contrary person.

I have three new cases to work on, one of which is a criminal case and that research always takes me longer as I've never actually practiced live in a criminal court and I tend to research and re-check out of paranoia caution. Plus, I have two appellate briefs to write in the next 30 days or so.

So if you don't see a lot of quilting content here in the next week or two, you'll know why.

On the other hand, this pile of work makes me want to get right to fabric and machine, so maybe I'll manage to squeeze something in.

You never know.

Meanwhile, I'm off to do a bit of research. Here's my question for tonight...How does a veterinarian know for sure who owns a pet and can authorize treatment for it?

(Which reminds me of a feeling I had constantly when I was a new lawyer. I'd get off the phone after a client had asked me some question...and I'd feel all panicky and uncertain because I almost never knew the answer in those early days. I'd think, "Okay. Calm down. There must be someone you can call for a quick answer." And then I'd think, "Hmmm. That'd be a lawyer. Um.......that's me." And I'd force myself to calm down, then head to the library and dig in until I found something.

Nowadays, I still don't know a clear answer to the questions I get asked much of the time, but at least I dig in to research a lot faster, and without the panic.