Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Going for it

Why not?

Looks a lot like me when I was that age.
I'll probably spend much of Saturday with my nose in a book, anyway, so why not make it official?

You can read about the readathon here. I've known about it for several years, but always seemed to forget about it until the last minute, and have had other plans. This is the last weekend of my vacation week; truly, I can't think of many better ways to spend it than with my nose in a book.

Throughout the day I'll post mini updates here - feel free to comment or cheer me on. Much shorter, spur of the moment updates will go on twitter (@quiltbabe).

Right now, my main goal is to finish several books I've been poking away at for quite some time. Randy Alcorn's Money, Possessions and Eternity, as well as Help for Women Under Stress. The second short book on radical simplicity. A Mind to Murder by P. D. James.

A couple of days ago I picked up the Game of Thrones set - all five books. I'm about halfway through the first book already. I fear this may be my main reading; it's easy to get lost in another world.

The plan is to go to Panera or Starbucks for the first few hours. The readathon starts at 7 a.m. my time, the perfect time to go get coffee and a light breakfast. At home, there are at least four different cozy places to read. I may try a coffeeshop later in the day, as well.

If you need me, I'll be the one with a Kindle, a laptop or even an actual book in front of my face.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

A long, rambling, mostly drivel-ish catch up post

Tuesday already - wow. I started vacation last Thursday; I think I actually started to relax sometime Easter morning.

Easter was low key, but wonderful. I volunteer to run graphics on holidays; my plans are generally pretty flexible, and unlike some of the other techs, I've no kids and family to wrangle and herd off to someplace. A song that was done as a "special" (which we rarely have, and I like it that way - a rant for another post) is The Mercy Tree. Take a listen, but also read and think on the words. For anyone who believes, it's impossible to tire of that message.

A friend and I celebrated together, with a good but not excessive feast (pork tenderloin rather than ham, seven layer salad, carrots and rolls) and a couple of games of canasta. Lots of talk and laughter as well.

After four years of owning my sound dock, I finally figured out how to pop out the insert in the tray that holds the ipod. The dock came with three different inserts; after carefully resting my ipod in each, I popped the one that (should have) fit into the tray. As it turned out, the player would not fully connect with the docking pins with that insert in place.

And I couldn't figure out how to get it out. Until this morning, when I took one look, flicked a finger at it and popped it right out. Slow learner, that's me. I could use the dock prior to this without actually docking the ipod, if I connected it as an "audio" component via a cord connected to the headphone jack (and simultaneously charged the ipod with a separate charging cord to an outlet), but it was a pain. Actually docking the thing allows it to charge through that connection, without the extra cords and hassle.

Yay, me. Yoyo Ma is currently filling the condo with happy sounds.

Much of the last part of last week was spent catching up on sleep and unwatched television, running errands and messing about. I did manage to spend Saturday afternoon in the studio, and I'll show the results shortly. Lots of fun, cute results for minimal work.

It's been spring cleaning time the last couple of days. Call it a medium-deep clean. Not quite clearing out every drawer and cupboard, but certainly scrubbing everything else to within an inch of its life (or 1/8 inch of the thickness of its veneer). Polish the banisters. Use the extension wand to reach the highest corners of the ceilings, where spiders sometimes make a home (and what is with that - I thought spiders prefer to have a close source of water, and my ceilings most certainly don't leak). Pull all the canned goods out of the pantry and rearrange things.

In the meantime, I've managed to make a plan for the patio, working on depleting the budget I'd set. For such a small space, getting it in shape has required a bit of an investment. A small pressure washer, to wash off the ingrained dirt in the concrete, seemed like a good thing. The patio will need a wash at least in the spring, and most likely in the fall before winter sets in. I can use it in the parking garage as well, to get a bit of grime off. Basement floor, too. It should have enough pressure to shoot a stream up to wash the second floor windows.

The patio set is wrought iron, a 52" table and four chairs, with a decent umbrella. My grill is a portable Weber. Rather than set it on the ground, I've found a wrought iron side table just a bit bigger than the grill itself. I don't need to worry about the table melting (plastic) or catching fire (wood). Can't wait to fire up the grill.

Storage is an issue. There isn't much to store - four chair cushions, the winter cover for the patio furniture, a watering can, the hose and nozzle and a bucket with gardening tools. The outdoor closet is the back of the chimney enclosure, and very shallow. The gas pipe for the fireplace runs along the bottom of that closet, rendering it useless for dumping things. There is one lonely shelf in that space; I need to put up a couple more. Even so, it won't be enough room.

Enter the deck box. It's actually a "patio storage bench", complete with back and armrests. I can't see needing the extra seating out there often, but I can see putting a table cloth on the seat and using it as a staging area for grilling things. Anyway, the soft goods will be stored there, along with the gardening stuff. The charcoal and grilling tools will hide in the closet, once there are more shelves.

All this started because I wanted to finally put flowers in the urns, and that will be the one thing that most likely won't get done this week. Silly me, I forgot that the nights in April can still go down to freezing, as indeed they are forecast to do for the next week (thirty-five, actually). I don't want to risk planting outdoors when it still is so cold, but I also don't want to buy the plants and have them taking up room in the studio (where they would get the most light) for the next two weeks. Stupid Wisconsin weather.

Craft day tomorrow. I need to narrow down what I want to work on, but can't until I know what my friend is bringing to do. The idea is to have fun together; it makes no sense for me to be in the studio, sewing, if she is in the dining room cutting out a quilt. If she is working on the cute serving sets she makes, she can work in the studio while I sew. Otherwise, I need to put the binding on a small project so I can sit and hand sew in the dining room with her if she is cutting...choices, choices.

I'm considering participating in Dewey's Readathon, which starts (for my time zone) at 7 a.m. Saturday. The idea of reading for as much of 24 hours as I can seems appealing; the reality may be a bit daunting. I'd love to finish up the half dozen books I have in process, and if I can get most of the patio work and cleaning out of the way, I may read for much of the day...but not 24 hours. For one thing, once I take my contacts out (about 16 - 17 hours is the max I can stand them), my vision goes downhill rapidly. I simply don't see as well with the glasses, making reading a literal headache. For another...I like my sleep. Fortunately, you don't have to commit to the full twenty-four hours to play.

I guess it's time to get back to the cleaning. I've been up since five, taking out the garbage, going out to grab breakfast, fixing the sound dock, reading a bit and posting this. Can't delay the inevitable any longer.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Friday

It doesn't seem right.

The sun is shining brightly on grass that is just starting to green up. Birds are singing in the trees. While the breeze is still a bit nippy, the air smells fresh and new.

This is the day we remember the horrific sacrifice made on our behalf, to pay our debt.

It's difficult to be somber on the first truly spring like day after an extended, difficult winter. But while this is a day off for many people, it's scarcely a "holiday". Self examination, rather than celebration, should be the response to the remembrance of Christ's sacrifice. Our sin, my sin, - past, present and most ashamedly future - paid for by the sinless Lamb of God. Incalculable grace and mercy rained down on the undeserving.

It doesn't seem right that the sky isn't weeping, that the day isn't gloomy and the wind piercing. Even after all this time, the weight of the remembrance of all that sin should surely cause all nature to break out in groaning, the earth even to give up its dead as it did that afternoon two thousand years ago.

Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” And some of the bystanders, hearing it, said, “This man is calling Elijah.” And one of them at once ran and took a sponge, filled it with sour wine, and put it on a reed and gave it to him to drink. But the others said, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to save him.” And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit.

And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split. The tombs also were opened. And many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many. When the centurion and those who were with him, keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were filled with awe and said, “Truly this was the Son of God!”

Matthew 27:45 - 54

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

We interrupt our regularly scheduled spring...

Rain changed to snow last night. The grass was mostly covered when I went to bed.

Got up this morning to discover, to my chagrin, it had not melted overnight. In fact, it was only twenty-five degrees when I got up.

Wore the spring jacket in a small act of defiance against the never-ending winter.

Small acts of defiance are overrated.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Quickie

- It's busy at work, and I'm trying to be on vacation next week. It rather cuts into time.

- The weather is making it difficult to focus; unseasonably warm this week, after months of below average temps. The sun is (mostly) shining, too.

- I dreamt about rain last night, including a futile hunt for my umbrella (which is exactly where it lives - hanging by its strap on the hall tree in the living room). Turns out it rained quite a bit overnight. The bedroom window is open, and my subconscious apparently grabbed on to the sound.

- This is for another post, but I got a letter from the child I sponsor yesterday. She drew a really great picture of herself flying a kite.

- In a related note, I used up the last of my Amazon price-fixing settlement to order some sticker and coloring books. Compassion works as the middleman in any mailings with your sponsored kid (you mail your letter to them, they mail to the kids), and while you can send things along, they have to be flat and more or less fit in a business size envelope. I figure I can take the pages out of the book, and send a few pages and the corresponding stickers at a time.

- There is some sort of celebration in the city today for the 25th anniversary of the filming of Major League, which took place mostly at the old County Stadium. It was a big deal at the time; Hollywood mostly ignores the middle of the country. The only reason the state saw some filming of Public Enemies is that one of the real life locations was available for use.

- (Did I ever tell the story of the coworker who put in photos for the casting call for extras, and was actually selected? They were to film for two days in Madison, about two hours west of here. She turned it down because it was an unpaid position, and she'd have to pay for a motel room. Turn down the chance to say you were an extra in a Johnny Depp/Christian Bale movie, just because you were too cheap to spring for a motel room? Good grief).

- The saga of the new arena continues. The NBA is making noise about our current place being "unsuited to modern basketball". Note the area is barely 25 years old. Former Senator Kohl is trying to sell the team (quietly), and it's leaked that part of the deal involves the construction of a new arena. Kohl has committed a fairly substantial chunk of his personal funds to the project, should it ever happen. Meanwhile, the city is making noise about the public portion of the project being supported by - you guessed it - additional taxes. The surrounding counties, who were nicked for the extra sales tax that is paying off Miller Park (and that tax will never, ever go away; the sunset date has been extended at least half a dozen times) are loudly voicing opposition to paying anything for a new arena. Sigh. Why the heck didn't they start 25 years ago with a per-ticket charge that would be held in trust for either remodeling or rebuilding?

- Gotta run.

Friday, April 04, 2014

It's spring, darn it

I've been meaning to do this for a few days, but didn't mean to do it when I'm up late (for me, anyway) and wearing glasses (I don't see as well with glasses rather than contacts, particularly when I put them on later in the day). So please forgive any errors or oddities; I'll fix them tomorrow when I can see.

Stupid sleet had the audacity to hit my windshield on the way home. Now, I'm thankful we didn't get hit with the six to twelve inches of snow they got in the northernmost reaches of the state, but I'm darned tired of this. i'm on vacation in a week, and I'd like to be able to plant something outdoors, darn it.

I'm not holding my breath.

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

First Communion

It's spring (in name, anyway) so there are a whole lot of eight year olds making their First Communion in the next couple of months. I mentioned a while back that a friend's son is one of those, and that her church has the kids make small banners to be carried in at the start of the mass. He wanted green lettering for his name, not yellow...and green isn't exactly available in the handy press on letters his mom used for his older brother (who wanted yellow; much easier to find).

After settling on a font (something "curly", but not "girly"), I got down to business tonight getting the embroidery done. This is just a piece of it; his last name is down at the bottom of the piece. It's pretty small - 14 x 12. His mom is going to get me a picture of the completed banner. Meanwhile, here is a peak.

Is it Friday yet?

Bits and pieces -

- We here at the university seem to have someone in the know who loves to talk to the media. The last several major news items - Coach Williams leaving, the new president being hired and now the hiring of the Duke assistant coach as our head men's basketball coach - I've seen in the media well before it was officially announced by the university. It's pretty bad when the governor of the state tweets his congratulations to the university on the new president four hours before the employees are officially notified of their new boss.

- The weather was nice just long enough for the tailgaters at opening day to get their brats done. We're back to cold and windy, with (gasp!) snow in the forecast for Friday. I am so very over this.

- Without going into details, I'm more than a bit overwhelmed at the moment. Pulling back from a lot of things, needing time to figure some stuff out and regroup. Back into better routines. I'm on vacation in a week and a half...hopefully. A break I really, really need.

- Every year at my annual review, my boss asks what I think about the prior year. Every year I say the same thing - "Well, I'm not ready to quit - yet". Yesterday was no exception. But until I can find someone to pay me to sit around and read, I'm stuck.

- Speaking of reading, I should get my March reads post up sometime tonight. Forgot last night (because I was busy reading). It's all fiction (need for escapism), and the list is fairly short. But I need to point out that several of the last books have been in the "omnibus" format - three novels in one "book". It's a whole lot more pages that it may seem.

- Over the weekend I purchased MP3s to replace some music I once had on vinyl. I'm running off the wonderful double album Linda Ronstadt did with the Nelson Riddle orchestra of old big band stuff. It was a favorite, and even after not hearing it for close to ten years, I can still sing pretty much the whole thing. It's kind of fun to see the look on my coworkers' faces when they come into my office to see me working away (familiar music helps me concentrate) and quietly singing along. They're lucky I'm singing quietly...

- The red-tailed hawks are sitting on the nest. Big Red laid three eggs in all, I think. It will be another four weeks or so before they hatch. The link is here, though it's less than exciting to watch her just sit there. Still, I like to check in a couple of times a day. Lowers my blood pressure.