Tuesday, January 22, 2019

A work avoidance rant

I should be working; I have a lot to do, and with the advancing nasty weather, there is an outside chance we may be sent home early (though that is relative; if they send us home at three, I've already put in more than a full day, but less than I plan to do).

Instead, a mild rant.

I belong to a Facebook group committed to finishing quilt-related UFOs (Unfinished Fabric Objects). It's run by one of the big quilting magazines. To make things fun, in December they have us list twelve UFOs, numbered one through twelve. At the start of every month, the people at the magazine draw a number, and that is the number you are to work on completing in that month.

It's a loose group; we know things come up and priorities change, but most people try to at least play along as much as they can. The fun part is seeing pictures of the progress everyone has made.

The administrators usually release the January number around December 27th, to give people a running start for the year. I've no object to this, in fact, I find it helpful as I'm generally on vacation at that time and can spend quite a bit of time sewing.

Here is my two part rant:

1. There are people who will announce "Finished!" within hours of the number of the month being announced. No, that "hours" is not an exaggeration. What do these people do, keep quilts on hand that only need a couple of stitches on them to be completed? This is not a race; there are no prizes for being the first one finished in a month.

2. This is the one that drives me insane. At some time around the middle of the month, you will see the following: "I'm so excited for the February number!" "What do you think the February number will be?!!" No kidding - the first comment was actually posted on the board on January 20th.

This ticks me off on two levels. First, this (and the thirty similar comments on the post) is a not-so-subtle attempt to pressure the mods into releasing the February number early (most likely so these people can be the ones who get to post "Finished!" an hour after the release).

It's also a bit discouraging to those of us who cannot eat, breathe and sleep quilting. I've a challenging full time job, a condo to keep up and a couple of other hobbies. I'm looking forward to retirement when I'll have more time to quilt, but for now, any progress at all is something to celebrate. The people who push for an early number draw must be related to the people who put Christmas stuff out in the retail stores right after Labor Day.


I'm trying really hard to just enjoy the process and celebrate the finishes when (sometimes, I swear that should be "if") they come. I'm genuinely happy to see all the pictures of completed tops and quilts. But I don't need to feel like I'm somehow "behind" or "less than" or not really part of the group because I simply do.not.have that much time available.

So, that's my rant. What's up with you today?

Friday, January 18, 2019


In the next twenty-four hours we should be getting anywhere from four to eight inches of snow. We've not gotten anything other than wimpy flurries since, well, since the last time I put up a post here.

Quick recap of the last several months: Eh.

That really does about cover it.

The impending snowstorm has the meteorologists in a tizzy, since the exact track of the storm will have a major impact on the actual snow totals. The storm is playing coy, and not declaring itself clearly one way or the other. The newscasters are reminding people to drive carefully, brush off the car, turn on the headlights and generally be cautious. All those warnings will go unheeded.

After all, this is the second "first snowfall of the season" this year, and the tradition is that people who have lived in snowy Wisconsin all of their lives suddenly lose their ever-lovin' minds when the first frosty flakes fall.

Me? The snow won't start until later tonight, so on the way home I'm stopping at my favorite pizza place for their incredible Italian sausage sandwich and some breaded mushrooms. I have half a dozen bottles of wine, some new-to-me whole bean coffee and an cute new coffee mug, the ingredients for beef stew with mushrooms, plenty of quilts and a fireplace that runs on natural gas, not electricity. I filled the car up with gas this morning on the off chance I have to leave the house. I'd say I'm ready.

Bitter cold follows the snow. That may be a good thing, as on Monday, I'm having the annual furnace maintenance. Any issues he has with it should be immediately evident.

I plan to spend a good part of the weekend in the quilting studio, in one way or another. i am embarassingly behind on quilting something for a friend, I've a couple of other projects I just want to be done with, and the whole place needs a quick organizational round. I can open the curtains on the patio window and look out at the pretty snow.

That's my plan. What have you all been up to?

Friday, November 09, 2018

Thankful for home

I've really fallen behind here. Today isn't exactly a catch up, either, except in a very tangential way.

Our first measurable snow fell overnight, or rather, is still falling a bit. The forecast says an inch, maybe up to two. The trees are gorgeous, each branch picked out in snow, with snow even clinging a bit to the trunks. Positively lovely.

Measurable snow means pulling out the winter dishes for the first time this season. Aside from being pretty, they serve a practical purpose. The lip on the winter plates is fairly substantial, so the liquid from various winter stews and braises, pot roasts and mashed potatoes swimming in gravy won't just run off the edge of the plate.

The winter mugs are favorites, as they are lightweight (the set is porcelain, not stoneware) with a nice, large capacity. Hot chocolate is my favorite thing to put in them.

Which finally brings us to "home", today's thankful theme. While it has its quirks, is difficult to evenly heat and cool, is a lot of space to clean and is often less organized than I'd prefer, I really am thankful for my home.

First, for the blessing of being able to even afford a home of my own. So many in this world cannot, and here I am, wandering around in 1600 square feet all alone.God has blessed me mightily in giving me the resources to afford this condo.

Second, for the sanctuary it provides. I am truly an introvert; I need time and space away from people in order to recharge so I can be with people again. Home provides that. It also provides places to sleep, cook, create, write, sing, dance and wallow in front of the fire with some sort of beverage and a book.

I am very thankful for the fireplace (which is one of the quirkier elements of the condo).

Third, for the opportunity to open my home to others, in the hope it can be a place of rest and relaxation for them. It's been a while since I've "entertained" formally, though a few people have come over for coffee. The goal is always to make people feel comfortable, valued  and happy. I don't want people to feel obligated to return the hospitality - there really is no need for that.

It's going to stay cold for the next few days, though not cold enough for the snow to stick around. I'm already planning several sessions in front of the fire, sewing or reading or even just dozing. Simply enjoying the feeling of being home.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018


November blows in with a swirl of fallen leaves in only two more days. In keeping with the season of Thanksgiving, I'm going to attempt to play along with BohoBerry's daily gratitude prompts, with a short post every (well, most) day for the month of November.

We'll see how it goes.

Friday, October 26, 2018


There are at least three separate posts wandering around in my brain, but none of them are coherent enough to put to pixels. So here is a bit of a Friday brain dump for your enjoyment.

Preachiness - In the last week or so I've watched several television shows and movies that have a very, very preachy tone related to race. The most egregious of the bunch was the most recent episode of the new series of Dr. Who, where the bunch traveled back in time to keep a far-future racist from doing something to stop Rosa Parks from being arrested for staying seated on the bus. Not only is it very pessimistic (the idea that racists would still exist anywhere in the galaxy centuries in the future), we find that the (white and Asian) Dr. Who crew are all proud of themselves because they actually end up on the bus at the right time, and are being part of history by not going to Mrs. Parks' aid when the cops arrest her. I'm watching to be entertained, not preached at.

Mob mentality - How can anyone think that letting this approaching Central American mob into the U.S. would be a good thing? You give in to bullies once, they will keep coming at you. We admit just over a million legal immigrants annually - more than any other nation on the planet. The system we have for doing it may not be perfect, but that doesn't mean you are free to muscle your way in any way you want. And Mexico - what the heck is up with you? Why are you not turning these people away at your border? Why are you letting them traipse through the length of your country - is it that they've promised not to stay, but invade the U.S. instead?

Plant murder - The landscaping company took it upon themselves to cut back my lilac bush, in spite of the fact the HOA was notified last spring that they were to keep their hands off.  This is just the latest of the stupid crap the HOA has allowed. In the spring, they will get a strongly worded letter listing what is not allowed (keep your damn hands off my plantings) and reminding them that I will bill them for the damage if they don't abide by it. I have a sneaky suspicion there is a nosy, bossy, nasty neighbor at the root of this - she seems to think she runs our corner of the complex. Honestly, when I retire, I 'm moving out in the woods where the only people I see on a regular basis are the Amazon and grocery delivery people.

If you don't hear from me - Tomorrow I'm driving to Madison to meet with with a few people I only know in pixels. We are all part of a Facebook group dedicated to fountain pens - the acquisition, use and general love thereof. I used them for a while after college, but recently rediscovered the joy of good writing pens. We are meeting to show off our pens, try out the ones others may have that we don't, trade ink samples and generally have fun. But just in case one of them is an ax murderer, at least you know where I was going.

Pens - I think (well, ok, I know, because I keep an inventory) I have nineteen right now, though I'm planning to sell five of them. There is an incredible variety available in materials, types/metals of nibs and writing style, and it takes a bit to find what suits you best. I've pens made in the U.S. that have steel nibs that perform as well as the sleek Italian import with the gold nib. I've always done more writing than most people, and this makes it even more fun. There are even "capless" pens - retractable fountain pens. Even if you stick to one pen, the variety of inks is staggering. Colors, shading, sheen, shimmer...waterproof, water resistant, made to endure freezing temps, even invisible (black light). So much fun.

Kindles - There are three kindles on my shelf waiting for better homes. All three are Fires, so basically mini tablets. All three have nice cases. All are perfectly functional.Contact me here or email me if interested (7" is the oldest, then an 8.9". lastly an 8").

How the heck is it almost November? I feel like October has both gone on forever and flown by. I need to get my Christmas card order in.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Creepy magnet

I'm not sure if it this particular Starbucks that is a magnet for the creepy, or if this is a symptom of the state of my city.

Back in the spring sometime, I was sitting a Starbucks, reading, when I happened to look up. My seat was at a table that gave me a view down the entire length of the barista workspace. Directly in front of me was a counter with a couple of higher stools pulled up to it.

Seated on one of the stools was an older Asian man. I thought he was just holding his phone up at eye level to be able to see it...but I happened to catch a glimpse of the screen, and he was filming the baristas, four of five of whom were younger females.

Oh, hellz no. I went to the ladies' room, then on my way back flagged one of the crew down at the other end of the workspace to clue them in. My other choice would have been to call the police - frankly, this kind of behavior strikes me as never innocent and always creepy.

It was one of the women who approached the guy to tell him to knock it off, not the one male behind the counter, which I thought was interesting. She was polite but told him to stop filming. Five minutes later, they sold him another coffee - ?!

Me, I would have forced him to erase the video, then tossed him out on his ear with dire warnings not to come back.

Fast forward to late summer, same shop.

I am a creature of habit and spend part of Sunday in this same Starbucks, generally reading. I'd noticed that an apparently homeless man - tall, long hair, unshaven - was there about the same time as I was, always in the same corner, with a cup of coffee untouched in front of him, sometimes fast asleep. While it wasn't exactly the ideal situation, he didn't seem to be harming anyone. Every so often (when he was awake), he'd go outside for a smoke.

About a month ago, I pulled up for my usual reading session and found the doors locked, with a sign indicating that due to "an incident" the cafe portion of the shop would be closed indefinitely, though the drive-through was open.


The next time I was there, homeless guy...wasn't.

Today, however, he arrived about ten minutes after me. There were only two clerks on at the time, with a lot of traffic through the drive-through.

Another manager came on, though, and soon she (again, there was a guy working as well) was telling the homeless guy that he could finish the coffee he had, but that he could not be in the cafe and would have to leave.

Curious and curiouser, and an exercise perhaps in connecting the dots.

Think I'll have my coffee and do my reading at home next week.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Cooking fool

Taking a well-deserved break while the InstantPot does its thing on tomatoes, turning them into yummy marinara sauce.

Considering I got up an hour later than usual, messed around for over an hour, then went back to bed and slept until nine, I'm doing pretty well. By the time I'd gotten ready for the day and had a bit of breakfast, it was going on noon.

That's unusual for me, but has been a weekend habit the past several months. It's not sloth, but a medical thing that I'm hoping to have fixed after a doctor appointment Monday. Two meds are not playing nice with each other; my vote is to drop the one that is causing the other to be ineffective, but I fear this doc will think otherwise.

In the meantime, I've found myself dozing away the weekends, not accomplishing, well, anything.

I think I've made up for it a bit this afternoon.

- Cooked a dozen hard-boiled eggs
- Blanched/lightly steamed all the fresh broccoli so it is ready to heat up for dinners the next few days
- Made a batch of breakfast hash and portioned it out in containers for weekday lunches
- Prepared the stuff for the sauce and got it going in the InstantPot
- Prepped the food for Pumpkin Soup - it's really easy, but I may wait until tomorrow to make it
- Took two packages of Italian sausage links out to thaw, which will be cooked and portioned one link to a container, covered with a bit of the marinara and frozen

Makes me tired just typing it.

The soup or the eggs will do for lunches next week. I've shelled pumpkin seeds to top the soup, which is always fun. No cheese, though.

The temptation to order dinner in is strong, but the Italian sausage is really, really good, so I'm going to hold out for that.

It's been a blustery, raw day with reports of some wet snow that didn't reach the ground (I didn't see any here, la la la, I can't hear you...), perfect for messing around in the kitchen.

I may finish the evening with a glass of wine in front of the fire.

Welcome, autumn.