Saturday, June 30, 2007

Casa de Kim

Just had to tell you all the excellent news! My husband went out this morning and got his hair cut! Short. No mullet. No divorce. Well, let me qualify that. No divorce unless he continues to have issues about me collecting dishes!

Yesterday was my husband's birthday, and he had a wonderful day. Me? Not quite so wonderful, but it ended up just fine. I woke up in the middle of the night on Thursday not feeling well and called in sick to work yesterday. After sleeping most of the day and doing a little bit of quilting, we went to Terry and Lisa's house for a barbecue to celebrate my husband's birthday. Kath (my sister-in-law) was there as was my son, his girlfriend, and his best buddy Johnnie.

I know that some of you are facing the prospect of an empty nest with dread--teenagers growing up, going away to college, leaving home for good. Well, I have to say that I think having mostly grown up children is a lot more fun than when they were still in the throws of the growing up part. No longer are you responsible for every little thing they do, although you'll always worry about them, of course. At this point, it's a little like watching a seed you planted grow into a whole, productive, mature plant. In other words, it's a lot of fun--at least that's my experience so far with my son, who is now 26 years old.

The BBQ was something of a potluck. Lisa provided the steaks, pasta salad, garlic bread, and munchies. Kath brought a green salad. We picked up a couple pies from Marie Callender's (yum!). My son's girlfriend brought a Mexican 7 layer dip. And my son brought a Mediterranean salad with fresh mozzarella balls, artichoke hearts, sausage, Calamata olives, and cherry tomatoes all in a balsamic vinagrette dressing. The kid can cook! Yes, I've known that for quite awhile, but it amazes and tickles me each and every time I see evidence of it. That's one of the fun parts I mentioned.

Our evening was relaxing with the most strenuous activities revolving around eating--mostly the part where we moved from the patio to the dining room and back. The weather was wonderful--even slightly chilly by around 11 p.m.--and, for the most part, we sat out on the patio telling stories, joking, and laughing. Eating and drinking. Enjoying the company of close friends and family--perfect!

Today we met my in-laws for lunch at Chili's around mid-afternoon, and I've spent the time before and after quilting. No dinner to cook tonight since we're still full from lunch and have some leftovers if the munchies strike (not to mention the remains of two pies in our refrigerator).

I'm thinking about going out and renting a movie or two and starting another applique block tonight. Remember this project? (Unfortunately, Patty decided to shut down her blog, so you can't click over to see what she had to say about it.) I haven't talked to Patty lately, but both of us have had things going on this spring that derailed our applique project. The only block I've made so far is this one:

Time, I think, to take a break from quilting the "monster" and design another applique block. For this "Americana" themed quilt, I have thoughts of apple pie floating around my head, so we'll see what I come up with.

I hope you are all having a lovely weekend!

Friday, June 29, 2007


My "new" teapot from eBay arrived on my doorstep today, and it's just as cute in person as it was in the photos! My husband even agreed that it's pretty sweet, although he did say a little bit later that he thought I should either collect teapots or collect plates; not both. Yeah, sure honey!

I've been a book collector for most of my life--I just can't stand to get rid of the books I've enjoyed, and I have bookshelves all around the house as well as a few boxes of books stored in the garage. I DO try to part with the older books that are no longer my taste or style, but it's hard! Do I read them again? No, not really, but I enjoy seeing them around me. Probably a little silly, but I think they're my "security blanket."

Fabric--yep, we all know I collect that. Had my husband suggested I stop collecting fabric, he'd probably be wrapped up in some old cotton poly fabric I no longer wanted and buried in the backyard. Smart man--he knows better than to suggest anything THAT drastic!

Teapots and plates though. Collecting both of these is a recent interest of mine that's developed over the past few years. I like teapots that are simple in style and decoration. Although I appreciate the feminity of rose covered teapots and the idea of wearing large hats in a shady garden amid snow white lacy tablecloths, dining on light sandwiches and cakes, if I'm given a choice, I prefer the more homey, honest, country feel of the simpler designs, like Fiestaware and Hall.

As far as plates, I have a passion for Johnson Brothers transferware. Johnson Brothers has been manufacturing transferware plates in England for about a hundred years. The earlier transferware has handpainted accents, so each plate is a bit different.

A few years back, I went in search of plates for my Thanksgiving table, and that's when I discovered Johnson Brothers. I ended up with eight dinner plates in a pattern called Frozen Up from their Historic America line. Then I NEEDED Christmas plates, so I bought some more Johnson Brothers transferware plates. And what do you do when it's winter but not Thanksgiving or Christmas? Well then, of course, you need dishes from the Friendly Village line. Blue and white plates are perfect for summer, so I felt compelled to buy more Johnson Brothers dishes and other pieces from their Coaching Scenes line. Yes, I'm hopeless! But I have restrained myself from buying full sets of all of these things--buying dinner plates, salad plates, and bowls from the Snow White Regency line meant I could mix and match. So what did my mail person bring me a few days ago? Luncheon/salad plates from the Friendly Village line that will go with the Friendly Village dinner plates and would also go fairly well with my Frozen Up Thanksgiving plates. (Frozen Up is on the left; the new plates are on the right. Not a perfect match, but I think that's just fine!)

Cute, aren't they? I figure I don't collect shoes as some women do and I don't collect clothes (although I DO collect a lot of stray threads ON my clothes!). So, honey? Do you think it would be okay if I keep collecting plates AND teapots? I'll tell you what, hon--I'll give up collecting cabana boys and hunky gardeners if I can just buy another plate or two. Okay?

(The plate on the left is from the Friendly Village line.)

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Welcome to my Neighborhood, Part 2

Unlike the rental house across the street from us, our neighbors on our right side have done a lot to spruce up their home. They are avid gardeners, and it is not unusual for them to be out, working in their backyard, from dawn to dusk, all weekend long. Both of them enjoy collecting odds and ends and turning them into garden art, and although I haven't been in their backyard for a couple years, my husband tells me it's fantastic! I do know they have a koi pond and a vegetable garden, and we have been the recipients of wonderful heirloom tomatoes and other summer goodness in past years.

There really are only two things that make them not quite the perfect neighbors--and really, both are kind of minimal, so we're happy to have them living next to us. But, in the interests of honesty, I'll tell you about them.

1. All that weekend work in their yard means we never have any real sense of privacy in ours, because we can hear everything they say and do, including the sound of lawn mowers, power saws, and weed whackers. And sometimes the noise starts fairly early for those of us who want to sleep in a little bit on the weekends. And our bedroom window faces their yard. Oh, and music. They listen to oldies rock and roll pretty constantly. My husband doesn't mind much because he listens to the same thing, but for the most part, I'm not one to revisit all the same stuff that I've heard before, over and over again. Been there, done that. When I listen to music, it's usually alternative rock. Or maybe I'll put on my CD of the opera Carmen while I clean house. And every so often, usually around the holidays, I can appreciate some nice classical music. But the rock and roll oldies kind of bug me.

2. The second thing? Well, it's kind of funny. I'm not sure how long ago they moved in, but it was several years back. Before we got a chance to introduce ourselves, I was sitting out on the patio one day when I heard noise coming from their yard. The fence between the yards is much too tall to see over, and I didn't pay much attention for a little bit, but it started getting louder and I finally realized they were having SEX! In their backyard! OMG! Now, several years later, seeing how nice their garden is, I'm thinking maybe it was some kind of fertility ritual?

Anyway, I'm really kind of bad at remembering names, and even though we've known them for a few years, I still have to stop and think to remember their first names because in my mind, I'll always know them by the name I gave them before we met: The Humpers. Shhhh! Don't tell them! It would be too embarrassing for all of us!

P.S.: Theirs is the house that was "ventilated" with bullets courtesy of our previous neighborhood renters.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007


The funny thing about auctions is the way they make you feel really great about offering to pay more for something than anyone else. And part of it, besides the competitive adrenaline, is the fact that you can stamp the word "winner" on your forehead. (Well, you could if you wanted to. Not that I do. But I'm thinking about getting it tatooed somewhere maybe. I think my inner thigh would be kind of funny, don't you?)

I love eBay. Sometimes I go through crazed, manic eBay periods until my mail carrier threatens to sue me for back injury. (It's funny how much our mail carriers know about us just by looking at what we get in the mail. For instance, mine knows I'm a quilter. I think the tip off was the couple bolts of fabric she's had to deliver.)

I've mentioned before that I have a small collection of teapots, and I've just "won" another one to add to my collection.

Isn't it cute? Kind of 50s looking. It's a Hall's teapot. I've seen one of these before on someone's blog, and I seem to recall that whoever it was found it at a thrift shop; she probably paid a small percentage of what I did.

I haven't done a lot of thrifting, but what I've done has been kind of disappointing. I haven't given up though--there are still thrift shops in my area I haven't tried, and maybe I'll hit the Mother Lode one of these days, but in the meantime, I guess I'll have to be satisfied with eBay. I DO know that I've gone to antique-type shops and found that I can buy from eBay much cheaper, even when you add on the cost of postage, and the selection on eBay is a whole lot better.

Besides, at eBay I'm a WINNER! And that's gotta be worth something, doesn't it?

AUTHOR'S NOTE: If you love vintage "stuff," are excited by thrifting/collecting, and spend some of your time reading, check out Killer Stuff by Sharon Fiffer. Killer Stuff is the first book in the series about collector/amateur sleuth Jane Wheel.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Cousin Bob

I just thought I'd introduce you to cousin Bob today. For those of you without the close family connection, I'm speaking about Robert Goulet, of course.

Back in the late 60s, when Robert Goulet was making quite a name for himself, there was talk on my dad's side of the family that we were related. My dear old Italian grandmother swore it was true, and I kind of half believed her. My mom was pretty doubtful, but then it wasn't HER side of the family, so what did she know?

I remember when I was little, I used to LOVE spending the weekend at my grandma's house. And not because grandma would bake cookies or do any of those other "grandma things." The highlight of any weekend visit was when grandma let me wear one of her "sexy" nightgowns. Her nightgowns were usually in pretty colors and were made out of filmy nylon with a satiny underlayer, and I felt like a movie star wearing them. The red one was my favorite. Grandma was a large woman and not particularly attractive; thinking back now, as an adult, I kind of have to wonder about those "racy" nightgowns, but grandma's long gone, so I can't ask the questions that come to mind. I'm not sure I would have anyway. But my mom never wore anything like that--most of my mom's nightgowns were white cotton--pretty boring, I thought. So those nightgowns were different and special!

A weekend at grandma's invariably involved watching Lawrence Welk, a long-standing tradition. Everything would stop on Saturday nights, and for once, grandma would sit down and relax, engrossed in the show. Of course, I was bored to death, but I passed the time wrapped up in a sexy red nightie, dreaming of movie stardom.

Grandma loved music, and when Robert Goulet became popular, grandma recalled that she was related in some remote way to someone in Canada with the same last name. Although Goulet was born in the U.S., his parents were from Canada. I'm not sure grandma had a real good grasp on stuff like geography and population, but she was certain that the fact that Robert Goulet's parents came from Canadian "proved" we were related.

As far as I ever knew, grandma and grandpa both had their roots in Italy with Italian-born parents, so how a French Canadian snuck into the family, I don't know. It was fun, for awhile, though to believe that we were related to a famous person. The kids at school probably thought I was a total nerd when I told everyone that Robert Goulet was my cousin six times removed, but in my heart, I knew that being related to Robert Goulet was pretty cool. Well, that and getting to wear sexy red nighties at grandma's house!

Monday, June 25, 2007

Notes from Home

It's Monday morning, and I thought I'd take a few minutes today to look back at the last week and catch everyone up on the goings on in my little world.

About a week or so ago, I heard from my brother that my mom had taken it into her head to sell her mobile home without talking to us first. She knows nothing about real estate. She knows nothing about the value of the place. She doesn't have a realtor. She simply talked to other residents of the mobile home park, and as it turned out, a friend of a friend was looking for a mobile home in the area, so she decided to sell. She's going to live with her childhood friend, Laverne. This was after insisting for the couple months since my dad died that she didn't want to make any changes in her life for the first year, at least. So now it's sold along with all the furnishings, and she'll be moving at the end of July. It would take me a week of posts to tell you all the reasons why this isn't such a good idea, but I'm sure you'd get pretty darn bored with that. On the positive side, Laverne lives down near my brother in Salinas, so my mom will be more his headache than mine soon. Perhaps not coincidentally, my brother called late last week to let me know he'd be camping this week at a location where there's no cell phone reception. Yeah, thanks bro! Your turn is coming soon!

My sister-in-law's long time faithful companion, Smokey, had to be put to sleep last week because of cancer. We had talked recently about her dog getting old and one of my cats getting old, so these things aren't unexpected, but they are very sad, nevertheless. Condolences Kath--my thoughts are with you.

That same sister-in-law and other family members, including my son, helped my husband's aunt move into an assisted care facility over the weekend. She's in her mid-80s and has gotten quite forgetful lately, although her doctor says it's not Alzheimer's or dementia (which would have precluded her from going into this facility). Her driver's license was revoked when she was stopped by the police driving around, lost and confused, one evening a month or so ago in a city that's about 30 miles away from ours, several hours after she was last seen heading home. She's still pretty sharp at times and stubborn as can be, so we're all relieved that she finally agreed to move--it's something my sister-in-law has been working with her on for quite awhile now. While everyone moved her things, the aunt went to spend the day with my mother- and father-in-law and, from what I'm told, forgot that she was even moving. Yeah, I'd say it was time for that move. Besides, her apartment was filling up with toilet paper and other paper products because she'd see a sale at the store and forget she already had plenty! You kind of have to laugh.

When I called my son Thursday night to fill him in on family news, he and his girlfriend were sitting on top of his roof, watching the sunset. Whatever happened to driving up into the moutains or the beach or somewhere romantic to see the sunset? He came over yesterday, wearing a new sweatshirt, even though it was 80-something degrees out. He thought I'd be interested in the print, which looked kind of feminine to me (although I didn't actually SAY that), but he pointed out that the feathery/ferny pattern contained skulls, so I guess that's okay then. It looked kind of odd with the camouflage hiking shorts he was wearing, though. Which I DID say. Weird kid! I worry about him sometimes. Did I mention that he also has bright, bright yellow leather soccer shoes? I know this because he stopped by our place on the way home from soccer practice one day and I was blinded. This is my kid who used to be so conservative in his dress!

And speaking of worrying about kids, the Wild Child called yesterday on her way back from Yosemite where she DIDN'T climb Half Dome again. She really wanted to make the climb at dawn, but when she started off on the hike in the dark, she felt a little uneasy, being by herself and all, so she went back to her SUV to take a little nap until it started to get just a little lighter and then overslept. She's starting a new job today at a bar and grill where she'll be waitressing and bartending; she's excited about that. Unfortunately, she'll still be working out her two week's notice, bartending at the casino, so she'll be working double shifts for awhile. At least that should keep her off Half Dome for the next couple weeks. Then, too, there's this fire that's burning out of control in South Lake Tahoe. That's a bit disturbing to a mom, I'm telling you! The Wild Child lives and works in the north shore area, but still . . . .

My husband's 52nd birthday is this coming Friday, so for about a month, he'll be TWO YEARS older than me, and I can tease him about being so old. I think he's having another mid-life crisis. How many can a person have; can anyone tell me that? It seems most of his mid-life crises take the form of growing his hair long, and he's been doing that again for the last couple months. He finally, FINALLY, went to get it cut about a month ago but found that his "stylist" was no longer working there and the place had been sold. Okay, give me a break. The guy goes to SuperCuts or something like that for an $8 haircut. How fussy can he be? Our friend Lisa asked him about a week ago if he was trying to grow his hair long, and he said yes, but he wanted to get it styled and cut shorter in the front. Honey, happy birthday, and I mean that sincerely, but I have to tell you that you're just not young enough, cute enough, or rich enough to carry this one off. And I'm pretty sure that wearing your hair in a MULLET is grounds for divorce in California. Get a friggin haircut! And have a happy birthday!

I'll think I'll pull my head back into my shell now and dream of cool ocean breezes, palm trees, calming music, and an icy drink close to hand, a delicate orchid perched on the rim of a frosted glass. Cabana boys. Pedicures. Massages. Ahhhhhhh.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Quilting My Fingers to the Bone

This week, I've been working on quilting my monster quilt. There were two nights after work when I didn't get time to work on it, but despite those two nights, I've put in quite a few hours, mostly taking time off only for important stuff like working, eating, sleeping, and hitting good fabric sales. Here are a couple photos of my progress (and if you click on the photos to make them larger, the white lines you might see are just marking--they'll wash out):

I've really just gotten the center part finished. I'm quilting it pretty densely because (1) I like dense quilting, and (2) I particularly like dense quilting on pictorial quilts. My friend Eileen says I quilt a quilt to death. Or sometimes I applique a quilt to death. Or both. Eileen hand quilts though, so what does she know? I don't hear her offering to hand quilt this one! (Just teasing you, Eileen!) Next I'll start on all the small houses that surround the center quilt shop. These were signed and swapped by my online quilt group a few years ago.

I really need a name for this quilt because it's just too pretty to keep calling it "monster," don't you think? Any suggestions? Here's a photo of the whole top (and DANG you can see how much more I still have to quilt!):

Besides the swapped house blocks, the star blocks that make up the outside border were swapped by the same group. Depending on how the quilting comes out and the end result, I'm thinking about putting it in my guild's quilt show in October under the group quilt category. But we'll see how it goes. This one will take awhile. And can I just mention that the Roman Holiday fabrics I bought yesterday are whispering across the room to me the entire time I'm in the Sweat Shop quilting? They're jealous that I'm not paying them any attention. Or not much attention. Or at least TRYING not to pay them much attention, but I wish they'd just shut up. Otherwise, I'll have to stuff them in a bag and put them on the shelf! Just a warning . . . .

Saturday, June 23, 2007


Whew! I'm exhausted! Bet you're wondering why. But even if you're not, I'm telling you anyway. Here's a clue:

Hummm. 46. What does that mean? No fair peeking ahead! What are you guessing? Here's another clue:

Have you figured it out yet? I bet you're close--getting warm! What if I open the bag for you? I'll go ahead and do that. But don't peek yet!

And just so you don't have to get up and walk over here to look inside, I'll go ahead and dump it all out on the table.

There, how's this?

Are you starting to see why I might be pretty tired? Shopping's such hard work! Funny how you can get up at the crack of dawn (7 a.m.) to go shopping and it's a whole different feeling than when you get up at the crack of dawn (7 a.m.) to go to work, isn't it? And, of course, since I was already there, I had to make the whole shopping experience complete and the drive across town worthwhile, so I had to pick up these goodies too:

One of the quilt shops here in town had Fat Quarter Frenzy today, and they sure got the "frenzy" part right! By the time the doors opened at 10 a.m., there were probably about 15 or more of us standing outside. Well, of course, you know me (sort of)--by 9:55, I was inciting the other gals to storm the doors; I figured there were more of us than there were "them." Luckily--for "them"--they opened the doors right about then and started handing out bags. If you bought 25 fat quarters or more, they were $1 each. I was the fourth person through the doors and by the time I checked out, I had filled nearly two bags with these little bundles of joy and possibility. That's what the "46" is--the number of fat quarters I bought.

Oh, and then I just HAD to buy some yardage of two of the prints from the new Roman Holiday line by Three Sisters. And a couple of those addictive charm packs. Oh, yeah, and two spools of YLI thread for the back of the quilt I'm working on. One spool would probably have been enough, but they only had two left, so I figured what the heck. I'd rather have too much than run out. In fact, I think that would be a good motto: I'd rather have too much than run out. Yep, that fits me pretty good. Well, except when it comes to money. I just can't seem to end up with too much money but then I suspect I'm not trying real hard either. Other priorities, doncha know.

And just in case you wanted another photo, here's one of those same fat quarters kind of losely grouped into categories: Thimbleberries (buy-in for my online group's monthly bingo game), reproductions (for my Jo's Little Women Club), sort of "bright and cheerful" fabric, miscellaneous red/white/blue fabric, and miscellaneous fabric from lines I have more of. (Hey, doesn't that almost make it seem like I had a PLAN rather than just wildly elbowing people aside and grabbing up fat quarters and shoving them into my bags?)

Oh, and just so you don't think I'm a flat, single-dimensional kinda gal who does nothing but mess around with fabric, I want you to know that I also read to improve my mind. So on my way home, I ran into Borders with a 40% off coupon and picked up Janet Evanovich's new book:

What IS it with numbers today? First 46 and now 13!

After that, with all the hard work out of the way, I stopped at La Bou for a jumbo iced latte (shopping works up a powerful thirst) and an almond croissant (shopping works up a powerful hunger). Now it's time to go into the Sweat Shop and quilt. Or take a nap. Or both! My husband's working today and playing poker with the "boys" at my friend Lisa's house tonight, so I have a day to play. Woo-hooo! Don't you just LOVE weekends?!

Friday, June 22, 2007

Linda and The Late Night Intruder

Pat and I woke one night to the sound of voices. We could not hear clearly what was being said, nor did the voices seem to be coming from inside the apartment, but they were close. Looking at the clock on the night stand, I saw it was 1:30 a.m. We both had to work the next day.

Pulling on jeans and a shirt, I opened the bedroom door and walked into the livingroom to find Linda pacing back and forth, and just beyond her, the front door stood open. Cautiously approaching the door to see where the voices were coming from, I asked Linda what was going on. Before she had a chance to answer, I saw four Campbell police cars parked downstairs with two officers getting back into one of the cars.

"He was trying to break in," Linda said, "so I called 9-1-1." "Who was trying to break in?," I asked, "And why didn’t you wake us up?" "The guy who lives downstairs," she replied.

We had a fairly new neighbor living directly below us, but we had not met and knew nothing about him. As far as I recall, he didn’t seem to be home very often, and when he was, he kept to himself. This wasn’t making sense to me. But then, by that time, a lot of what Linda did didn’t make a lot of sense. Since the Christmas party, and after losing her job, she seemed even less in control. Much of her time was spent in her room, staying up late, "creating" her spit and ink pictures, or wandering around public parks and gardens during the day, communing with nature. She was smoking marijuana nearly continually.

From what Linda told me that night, she believed our downstairs neighbor was sawing through his ceiling and her floor in order to break into our apartment. She told me she had heard him before, late at night, but on that particular night, it was louder and lasted longer, and she was scared.

While I returned to the bedroom to tell Pat what was going on, Linda talked again with the police. They reported that they had knocked on the man’s door, and it was clear he had been sleeping. They questioned him but didn’t believe he had anything to do with the noise Linda heard, and he had not heard anything himself. The police concluded that the sound was likely caused by roof rats from the trees and vegetation surrounding the four-plex we lived in.

At the time, I thought this incident was pretty hilarious and extremely typical of Linda, but in hindsight, I think Linda was having some fairly serious mental problems. She became a bit more erratic as time passed. We would often hear her in her room, singing along with whatever she was listening to on her headphones or occasionally having arguments with herself. Sometimes we would hear objects striking the wall. Although Linda never frightened me, I learned later that Pat was truly hesitant to leave me alone with her.

A few months after this incident, Pat and I got married and Linda moved out. Between a new job, a new husband, and a soon-to-be new baby, I lost touch with her, but I recall someone told me they thought she had moved back to the L.A. area. Wherever she is, I hope Linda got help and is now living a happy life. She really was a good person to spend time with before things got to be too much for her.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Kim's Decorating Tips

I have one more Linda story for you, but I'm postponing it until tomorrow. Instead, I thought that today I'd share with you a couple of decorating ideas.

If you, like Carole, have been waiting for three years for your husband's best friend to make carved panels for a half-finished laundry cabinet, then this may be the perfect idea for you. Or maybe you'll just like the concept. Either way, here is Kim's Decorating Tip #26:

Some time back, I made built in cabinets for my daughter's room and was stymied when it came time to decide what to do for the cabinet doors. I wanted something kind of cool to go with her animal themed room, but I knew I didn't want anything that I couldn't change reasonably easily. Here's the solution I came up with:

These panels fit into the opening created by the trim and magically stay in place until you pry them out with your toenail clippers. Well, okay, you could probably use something other than toenail clippers, but that's what I had handy last night when I wanted to show you how these are made. Here's what the "naked" door fronts look like as well as the back of the panel insert:

To make these, I measured the opening between the door trim and cut a piece of foam core board to size. (You could also use a good quality, sturdy cardboard.) I then covered one side with a poly batting to the thickness I wanted and, using a glue gun, tacked the batting in place. Then I cut fabric to size, leaving about an 1-1/2" to 2" overhang all around. With the fabric "good" side down, I placed the batting side of the foam core board on top, and again using a glue gun, wrapped the fabric around and secured. (I started by gluing the corners.)

Now how did I come up with this idea, you may well be asking? Well here's Kim's Decorating Tip #14:

When I last redid my bedroom, I used a similar concept for the space above my bed. I knew I didn't want to hang a traditional picture or a quilt, so I tacked up painted molding strips to form three squares and made the same type of foam core board panels. The first set I made are shown in the photo below, and I added a trim to the edges of these (the glue gun is my friend!). Since that time, I've made two more sets of panels, so I can change them out for the time of the year/bedding used. One set is made from quilt-pieced stars to match my fall quilt. On the wall and the backs of the panels, I've attached Velcro to keep them up on the wall so they don't fall on our heads in the middle of the night. Mostly.

I've been working a bit on quilting this gi-normous quilt I posted about last weekend and am making slow progress. I haven't been able to work on it the last two nights, but I hope to get some quality quilting time in this evening. If all goes well, maybe by this weekend, I'll at least be able to show you how I've quilted the quilt shop/house in the center.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Linda and The Christmas Party

In March of 1976, when my first husband and I were splitting up, I took a job with a large, well established San Jose law firm that practiced primarily insurance defense litigation but also had sections for probate, wills and trusts, corporate, and appellate law, among other things. I worked there for four years, left for a year, and came back and worked four more years before moving my family to Sacramento. Sometime around 1979, we hired a new administrator for the firm, and he in turn hired his sister-in-law, Linda. As I mentioned a couple posts back, Linda and I became roommates.

The firm had a long standing tradition of hosting an annual open house Christmas party for clients, employees, local attorneys, and judges as well as other court personnel. The party spread throughout the entire floor of the office, and at least two of the four corner conference rooms were set up for beverage service. Food was served, buffet style, in the main conference room, which was just off the reception area and looked out across east San Jose to the foothills. From the 13th floor, the view was stunning. Guests mingled in the reception area, in the various conference rooms, and up and down the corridors.

In 1979, I was dating my current husband, Pat, and had invited him to the Christmas party. We had a few drinks and some food and mingled with the rest of the crowd for a couple hours. Around 8 p.m., as the crowd was starting to thin a bit, we left and went back to my apartment. Shortly after we got home, the telephone rang. "Could you come get Linda?," one of the attorneys asked. "She's had a little too much to drink and needs help getting home."

By this time in our friendship, I was all too aware of Linda's tendency to have a little too much to drink or a little too much to smoke. "Moderation" was a word that didn't exist in Linda's vocabulary. With her, it was all or nothing. Apparently on this evening, it had been "all."

Pat and I got in my car, and 20 minutes later, we arrived back at the office, where we took the elevator up to the 13th floor and rejoined the party. The crowds were lighter but the party was still going strong. Pat and I walked through the corridors looking for Linda without any luck. Finally we came across Randy, the attorney who had called, and we asked him if he knew where we could find Linda. Pointing in the direction of the far rear conference room, he led the way, opened the door, and turned on the light. There was Linda, her shoes and legs emerging from under the conference room table with her skirt hiked up on her thighs. The scene looked much like the one from the Wizard of Oz where the house lands on the witch.

"Linda," I called. No response. Slightly louder, I said, "Linda, wake up. Linda!" Still no response. I turned to see Randy looking discretely off in the other direction, back toward the party. I crouched down and pulled the hem of Linda's skirt down as best I could. Pat was watching with a hint of amusement. Yeah, real funny!, I thought. "Linda!" Still no sign of life. I got down on the floor and crawled halfway under the table to see what I could do to rouse her. "Linda," I called, as I shook her shoulder. Her eyelids flickered open, her eyes rolled back in her head, and her eyelids came back down. "Linda!" Louder this time, shaking her shoulder a little harder. "Wake up! We're here to get you home." This time she woke up, and we managed to get her out from under the table and to her feet. With Pat on one side, me on the other, and Randy leading the way, we struggled to get Linda toward the elevator, but she was in no condition to assist us, so it was slow going.

Linda was not a small gal. That's not to say she was fat, but she was about 5'8" and weighed around 160 pounds, making it difficult for me or Pat to do more than try to keep her moving along as best we could. Finally, as we neared the elevators, Randy, who was about 6'2" with a muscular, athletic build, offered to carry Linda the rest of the way to my car. Yep, that worked for me!

Once she was in his arms, Linda snuggled in, in a drunken stupor, for a little nap. Before we reached the ground floor, however, she woke up again, just long enough to puke all over Randy's beautiful suit. "That's okay," he said, and I knew he was just thinking about the fact that he'd be done with this problem as soon as we could get her to my car. Yeah, easy for him! How, I wondered, did I become responsible for my roommate's behavior and well-being?

Once I unlocked the passenger door, Randy loaded Linda into the seat, said a quick goodnight, and walked away, leaving us to get her home. After a great deal of struggle, we managed to wedge Linda in with her head resting on the dash, the locked door on her right, and me, with my arm extended to keep her more or less upright (and block any stray vomit), on her left. Despite the chilly December evening, I rolled down all the windows. Pat had Linda's purse and car keys, and he followed us home in her car.

The drive turned out to be reasonable uneventful but tense, nevertheless. My car was less than a year old, and the last thing I wanted was to clean vomit from the cloth uphostery and dash. Ewww! I drove slowly and after what seemed like an eternity, we pulled into the carport and parked. Ah, home!

Pat and I got out of the cars and came around to look at Linda. Passed out. Dead to the world. With no one conveniently nearby to pry her back out of the car and carry her upstairs to our second floor apartment. I voted to leave her where she was for the night, but Pat has a compassionate heart. We argued back and forth a bit, but visualizing the possibility of puke splashed all over the inside of my car, I finally acquiesced, and we began yet again the process of trying to rouse Linda to a state of semi-consiousness.

About 15 minute later, the three of us had made it 20 feet to the base of the stairs. With a sinking feeling, we realized there was no way Linda was going to be able to climb them. I voted to leave her where she was for the night, but once more Pat prevailed, and we determined the safest way to get Linda up the stairs was on her bottom, moving slowly up one stair at a time, with me leading the way up and Pat below her, cheering her on with each small step.

About half way up, Linda told us she needed to just stay where she was and rest for awhile. I went up the rest of the stairs, unlocked the door, and went into the apartment, leaving Linda and Pat on the stairs. I voted to find some rope and tie her to the stair railing for the rest of the night so she wouldn't fall and hurt herself, but I was overruled once more. Perhaps Linda sensed I was running out of patience. Perhaps she realized she was sitting halfway up the stairs of an apartment looking out onto a busy street with her make up smeared all over her face, torn nylons, and vomit in her hair. Perhaps she just got a second wind. In any event, before too long, progress up the stairs commenced once again and eventually Linda crawled in the door followed closely by Pat, who locked up the apartment for the night. When I last saw Linda that evening, she was slowly making her way, on hands and knees, toward her bedroom.

A few months later, I left the law firm for a new, higher paying job at another firm. Sometime between Christmas and the time I changed jobs, Linda lost her job following her drunken performance on the PA system. In hindsight, I realize Linda had changed over the months I had known her and seemed to be out of control. We talked about it a bit, but I never knew, really, what had changed her.

A year later, I returned to the same firm, where I continued to work for the next four years, first in the word processing department, which provided me flexible hours after our child was born, and later as a paralegal. Oddly enough, I don't recall the firm having any more Christmas parties. I guess there are just some parties you can never hope to top.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The Linda Chronicles

Linda was usually great fun to be around, always positive and often hilarious. She had a deep, infectious laugh and found humor in situations that would annoy or vex most people. It was often difficult to tell when Linda was in an "altered" state because she handled it well, but if you looked closely, you’d notice the signs: the somewhat heavy eyelids, the slight bobbing up and down of her head as though she was listening to some song that the rest of us couldn’t hear, and the glazed, unfocused look in her eyes. Still, she could party pretty darn hardy and would drink most people under the table.

Linda should have been a flower child of the 60s but was born about a decade too late. Would it surprise you to learn she drove a VW bus? No, there were no flowers painted on the side of the bus, but only because she preferred to expend her creativity on her spit-and-ink drawings.

The photo in my last post was taken one winter day when she and I took time off work and drove over the hill to Santa Cruz to wander around the Boardwalk. Because it was a weekday in the off season, most of the rides were closed, but we had fun anyway, walking up and down and eating Boardwalk junk food. The arcade was open, and we played a few pinball games and had our fortunes told by the mechanical fortune teller.

Our experience driving over the hill and back that day was one of mixed fear and hilarity. With each rise of the mountain, Linda’s VW bus would slow to a crawl, and once we crested each rise, Linda would push the gas pedal to the floor in hopes of building up enough speed to get us over the next hill. As cars would whip past us on the uphill inclines, we’d smile and wave--when we weren't busy urging and encouraging the bus onward. If you’ve ever driven Highway 17 from San Jose to Santa Cruz, you know that the road is not only steep at places but also curvy. As we went around the first large curve, the seat I occupied tipped over, and I tumbled onto the floor. Linda laughed that deep, rich laugh of hers, and I joined in, trying to right the seat between bouts of giggles. During the rest of the drive to Santa Cruz and back, I kept a tight hold on anything stable enough to keep me upright.

We came home that night, worn out by the sun and wind at the beach, the uncertain drive back, and the nearly constant laughter. Yes, spending a day with Linda was a real adventure. One always had the sense that anything could and probably would happen. Inhibitions were relaxed and the thought of maintaining any kind of decorum was fleeting at best.

Tomorrow I’ll tell you about the office Christmas party that year.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Meet Linda

About a year or so before I married my husband, I was in need of a roommate. I had been living alone in an apartment, but the rent was going up and I came to the realization that I would need to move and find someone to share the costs. At about the same time, Linda and her boyfriend were splitting up and she needed a place to live.

Linda was the sister-in-law of the administrator of the law firm where I worked and was fairly new to the firm, working as a receptionist. She had moved up to San Jose from the Los Angeles area with her boyfriend a few months before. I didn't know her very well, but she seemed fun and had a good sense of humor, so I thought it was worth a try. Couldn't hurt to get on the administrator's good side by taking his sister-in-law in either, could it?

As it turned out, Linda was quite a character. As with most roommates it seems, she had her good points and bad points. One of her bad points was the fact that she smoked marijuana quite a lot. Pretty much non-stop in fact. She told me her mother grew it and sent it to her. Okay, whatever. Having grown up in the Bay Area during the 60s and 70s, smoking marijuana was not something that shocked or surprised me. I tended not to be home a whole lot anyway, spending most of my time at my future husband's place. One of Linda's good points was that when she got stoned, she'd clean. Several times I'd come home and find her polishing the copper bottoms of my pots. Sometimes I think it's a wonder there were any copper bottoms left to the pots, but then we only lived together for a year. I still have those pots, but the bottoms have never looked quite as nice since they had Linda to care for them.

Linda was quite creative. Her artistic medium was ink and she'd spend the hours when she wasn't cleaning, shut in her room, making "wonderful" ink--uh, I'm not sure exactly what you'd call them. "Pictures" isn't right. Neither is "drawings." Have you ever seen spin art where you drop paint onto a spinning piece of paper, and the paint pattern fans out from the center? Well, Linda's art was a little like that, but not quite as nice. When we first moved in together, she very seriously told me about her technique. It seems she would mix different inks with varying amounts of spit, drop it on the paper, and tilt the paper or blow on the ink to make patterns. All I can say is that these creations were certainly conversation pieces. She put one up in our hallway to cover the gray metal door of the utility box, and while it was a slight improvement, everyone who visited felt compelled to lift up the edge to see what was so much worse that we needed to cover it with her "painting."

I have a couple very memorable stories of Linda that I'll share with you in the next few days. Since I'm working on quilting this large quilt, I have very little "quilty" news to tell you about or show you, so I'll let Linda entertain you for a bit--I know she entertained me!

I'm not quite sure what happened to Linda. After she moved out and I married my husband, I lost contact with her. The last I heard, she was working at a temp job, having been fired from our firm by her brother-in-law. The final straw was when she came back to work drunk after lunch one day, and got onto the overhead page system. She tried to page one of the attorneys but kept mispronouncing his name and started giggling uncontrollably. Quite a character, that Linda! If nothing else, she made things interesting!

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Let Me Entertain You

I've noticed a disturbing trend in a few blogs lately. People posting childhood photos of themselves dressed up in ballet attire. Well, since I'm all for disturbing trends, I thought I'd post one of me dressed up for a performance. I'm not certain how old I was, but I think I was probably around six, maybe. I had been taking tap and ballet that year and we had a big Christmas pagent at the community auditorium. This was an annual event with dance studios from all over the San Francisco Bay Area participating. Each studio performed a number; unfortunately I can't remember what ours was, but I do recall it was a tap dance. And, by the way, I really hated that hat/bonnet/frou-frou thingy on top of my head. I remember being pretty excited about the costume, which arrived first, but then that thing on my head arrived and I was a little embarrassed about having to wear it.

Dancing wasn't really my thing, although I did give it a second shot a few years later. Still wasn't my thing. As you can see, I didn't have the tall, willowy body and grace of a ballerina and preferred tap, but they always made us do both. My dad laughingly said I had two left feet, and he was right.

And since today is Father's Day, what would a blog entry be without memories of dear old dad? About the time I was the age I am in the photo, my dad had a job driving a large pickup truck--I have a vague idea it was something to do with construction since my uncle was a contractor, and I remember going with my dad to visit a job my uncle was working on. I loved going to work with my dad. This was before the days of seatbelts, and I would stand on the seat next to him, with my arm around his neck, driving off to wherever he had to go. It was rare that I got to go with him, but sometimes I cried and cried, and he was a soft touch, so away we'd go.

Not too long after that, my dad got a job as a clerk in a liquor store and pretty much stayed in that job until he retired. My brother and I went to work with him occasionally on weekends and during the summer and helped stock the candy and chip shelves or just sat in the back room or in the cooler reading comic books and magazines. My dad had a wonderful sense of humor and his customers loved him, so it was a fun place to be. Usually we "worked" in the mornings and early afternoons, so we didn't see the rougher customers.

The liquor store was located in an area that was heavily Hispanic, which definitely had its advantages. Every Christmas, he would come home with a couple bags of homemade tamales, and at around this time of the year, he'd "smuggle" home packs of illegal firecrackers brought up from Mexico. With a twinkle in his eyes and a mischevious grin, he'd surreptitiously show my brother and me that his pockets contained a couple packages of fire crackers and, sometimes, a few cherry bombs. Inevitably, at some point, he'd go out in the back yard and light off a string of firecrackers which would cause my mom, obliviously doing chores inside the house, to jump, scream, laugh, and yell at him. Great fun!

We used to live in a house that had a gravel driveway leading from the street all the way to a detached garage in the back of the house. On one memorable occasion, he lit a cherry bomb in the driveway, and when it blew, so did the gravel, peppering the bumper of my mom's car that was parked about ten feet away. Oops! He cursed a bit, swore me to secrecy, and laid off the explosives for a few days, but that didn't last very long. After that, he knew better than to light cherry bombs in the driveway, but he sure had some fun blowing buckets into the air with M-80s!

Happy Father's Day, Dad, wherever you are, and happy Father's Day to all the other dads out there!

Saturday, June 16, 2007

A Quilty Day

I've spent the day working on a couple of different quilt projects. This morning, I set my tables up on the patio and got busy pinning this quilt. I thought I'd get an early start before it got too warm outside, but despite my best efforts, it took quite awhile to pin and it was starting to get pretty warm before I finished. Can you believe I used up that whole box of pins you see sitting on top of the quilt? Getting this quilted is my next project, and I'll start on that tomorrow.

This quilt is a monster--king sized and a little more really. I wasn't sure the extra wide backing I bought was going to be large enough, but it was just perfect. I purchased a batting a few years ago at Connecting Threads on a trip to Oregon and have been saving it for the right project. It's a light weight cotton, and since this looks to me like a summer quilt, I thought it would be perfect.

As you know, I've been working on getting this other top pieced and thought I had finished the border strips last night. When I thought about it, though, I decided the plain squares I had cut for the corners of the border weren't right for the quilt, so I spent much of the afternoon today making four corner blocks similar to the center blocks. I think they look much better than what I originally planned. I laid it out on my daughter's double bed and it's plenty large enough; in fact, it would probably fit a queen. I think this is destined to be another summer quilt, because the greens, blues, and golds remind me of the beach.

Well, I think my fun's just about over for the day--now I need to head back into the Sweat Shop and get everything put away and retire the Bernina for a little vacation and set up the Juki for some heavy duty quilting. I'm not looking forward to the aching shoulders and arms in the next couple of weeks from quilting my monster quilt, but I really love this quilt, and I'll be happy to turn it from a quilt top into a "real" quilt!

Friday, June 15, 2007

June 29, 1980

Where were you? Do you remember what you were doing?

That photo above is me. And I'm pretty sure the whole clown thing won't surprise a lot of you, will it? But yes, it was a long time ago, and I've aged a bit since then, but isn't it wonderful that there's just something ageless and timeless about clown make-up? (And no, I didn't have a huge, black mole on my neck--it was just something on the scanner!)

My husband loves clowns. He has a veritable art gallery of clown prints hanging up in the garage. Yeah, you didn't really think I'd have them hanging in the house, did you? But being the wonderful wife that I am, I let him do pretty much whatever he wants with the garage as long as it doesn't interfere with the boxes of incredibly valuable stuff I have stored out there. (Of course, I can't really remember what it all IS--but I know it's all VERY important stuff!)

Anyway, for his 25th birthday, I threw him a surprise birthday clown party, and all our friends came in clown make up. Here's our friend Lisa--I've mentioned her a time or two before. You won't see Lisa sleeping much because she's awfully busy and doesn't really sit still for long. In fact, now that I think about it, I'm pretty sure she wasn't sleeping here either, because I also have a photo of her not too long before this one, teaching another friend of ours, Peter, how to do tequila shots. Peter was a bit of a slow learner, so Lisa had to show him over and over again. And again. And again. And before long, she was "sleeping." Looks peaceful, doesn't she? Luckily my upholstery was washable.

Despite the fact that it was something like 85 degrees out that night (much of the party took place on a large patio built above my carport) and our make up got a bit streaked and drippy, and despite the fact that my husband (who wasn't yet my husband) showed up an hour late to the party because he didn't know it WAS a party and he and his dad were having a great bonding experience at dinner, he was totally surprised and excited and had a wonderful, memorable birthday.

And looking back at this photo of me in my clown make-up, it seems odd to realize that within a week, I would find out I was pregnant. (I blogged about that story before, but if you haven't read it, you can find it here.) And within two weeks of this party, we were married. Life's kind of funny, isn't it? Especially for us clowns!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Happy Birthday Patty!

Today's my friend Patty's birthday. Go on over and say happy birthday to her if you're so inclined--just click on her name above or the link in the sidebar, and leave a message on her peanut post. I'm not quite sure what's happened to Patty; she's had that peanut post on her blog for weeks now. I hope it wasn't a sudden allergy to peanuts, although I think I might be developing one for all the times I've popped over there to check if there's something new.

The funny thing is that Patty and I started our blogs at about the same time, because Patty thought we should give Kairle a hard time for not posting to her blog for a year. Kairle always has lots of good ideas to share and quilts to drool over, and we were missing out on all that good stuff. So Patty came up with this plan for us all to leave Kairle messages, and the rest is history. Kairle started blogging again and Patty and I started our blogs, except Patty seems to have too much stuff going on in her life to post to her blog very often.

Since I've known Patty--which has been something like four years now--she's come up with several different ideas about what she wants to do when she retires. I'm telling you, when I retire, I'll RETIRE, but not Patty. When I first met her, she had an online quilt shop--something she wanted to get established so she could have a business when she retired. That was all well and good for a couple years, but it really proved to be too much work since she was still working full time--and overtime quite often--so she eventually closed that business. Since then, she's come up with at least two other plans for working in her retirement years, although retirement is still a few years off, I think. Last time I heard from her a few weeks ago, she was talking about taking some classes to learn some new skills so she can work after she retires. That gal never stops!

Patty is often a bundle of ideas and energy, which makes her a lot of fun to be around. She's a great one for motivating her friends. She always comes up with the most entertaining ideas for our online group. Once she organized a Halloween "party" for us. She opened a group site and we all attended "in costume." Each of us took on a different identity with a different e-mail address for the party, and only Patty knew who was who. During the party, which lasted a few hours, we all got online and chatted about ourselves--in character, of course--and the winner was the person who could match the most characters with their true identities. Who could dream up with that kind of idea? Why Patty, of course!

That's Patty in the photo at the top. If you go on over there to her blog and wish her a happy birthday, please grab yourself a handful of those peanuts. Maybe if we eat them all, she'll be forced to post something new!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Quilt Update

Maybe you're wondering how my quilt's coming along? (Then again, maybe it hasn't been the burning question on your mind that it has been on mine.) After all, I had all weekend to work on it, right? Here's the quilt so far:

It looks a lot like the last photo, doesn't it? But now the blocks and sashings are SEWN TOGETHER. And what a struggle that was, I'm telling you! Why does it always take so much longer than we expect to sew blocks together into a quilt top? It's a mystery to me. Maybe the part that takes all the time is the part where you sew the blocks together wrong?

I started by sewing together the first column of blocks and had it back up on the design wall along with the second column when I noticed something was "off." I had sewn the first column of blocks together two by two, and somehow I sewed one of those sections in upside down. Of course, I had to get out the seam ripper. Exhausted by taking out those blocks and traumatized by having sewn them in wrong in the first place, I stopped to fix dinner. After all, eating is good for trauma, right?

After dinner, I carefully checked to make sure I had them positioned correctly and sewed the first two of four seams to set them back in. After I pressed those seams, I checked again to make sure. And, of course--you've probably figured it out already--I sewed them back in wrong AGAIN! Muttering to myself about whether it might be time for dessert, I got the seam ripper out yet again.

Finally I got it right the next time, but I was extra careful with the rest of the piecing, and as far as I can tell, all the blocks are as they should be. If they aren't, don't tell me. My scale can't take another disappointment.

I've decided to make a piano key border since I don't have enough of any one suitable fabric for the border, but I have tons of smaller pieces of fabric left over. So last night I cut and pieced and have a bit more to do before the borders are ready to be put on. Here's my nice little pile of 16 border blocks so far:

I'll also be putting sashing between these blocks and finishing off the star points in the sashing strips. I'm estimating getting the top completed by tomorrow night, but then I always underestimate how long something like this will take. Maybe you'll see it by Friday. Unless I have to stop and eat some chocolate or something.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Welcome to my Neighborhood

It's getting to be that time of the year when we get a little nervous around here. Graduations and the 4th of July mean firecrackers, and the sudden explosions make us a bit jumpy. Back when I was telling you this little story, I mentioned my husband sometimes gets just a tad alarmed by sudden loud noises, and I'll tell you why.

We live in a working class neighborhood. Our home was our "starter house," the first--and only--one we've bought. Our plan was to move to a nicer, larger house once the kids were out of elementary school, but the real estate market was in a slump, and although we had the house on the market for the better part of two years, it never did sell, so we decided to stay here until our kids graduated from high school. For several reasons, once that happened, we just decided to stay put for the time being. So here we still are, 21 years later.

Most of us in this neighborhood are fairly quiet. Although none of us has much money to spare, we own our homes and maintain them fairly well. For the most part, we are law-abiding citizens. Occasionally, though, we get renters in the neighborhood who seem to live to a different standard. The kids run around in the street and glare angrily at any cars that dare interrupt their games. The parents argue with each other and scream at their kids--sometimes outside in the front yard or in the house with all the windows open. For whatever odd reason, some put old couches in their garages and sit out there all night long with the garage doors open, smoking and drinking. I could go on and on, but I'm sure you recognize the type.

The house above is situated across the street from ours and slightly to the right. It has been a rental property for the past ten to fifteen years, and believe me, we've had our share of troublesome neighbors. A new family moved in a few months ago--husband, wife, and two kids, I believe. So far, they seem to fit right into our neighborhood. They keep the yard neat, they are reasonably quiet, and although they have a couple kids, we don't see them running wild in the yard and street. Thank goodness!

Before that, there was a single mom with several kids and a steady parade of men living there for short periods of time. Last year, we purchased new living room furniture, and the mom asked if they could have our old couch and recliner because they didn't have much. Sure, we said, and the woman sent her kids over to move the old furniture across the street and into the garage, so they could sit out there all night long with the door open, smoking, drinking, and arguing. But really, all in all, that family was an improvement over the one before.

The family before consisted of another single mom with a bunch of kids and a steady parade of men living there for short periods of time. Sound familiar? They actually lived in the house for quite a few years, and when they first moved in, the kids were cute and little and the mom was friendly with the neighbors. They took reasonably good care of the house, and other than the occasional yelling and screaming, they didn't present much of a problem. As the kids grew into teenagers and the cars outside multiplied, living across the street from this family became a bit difficult to say the least. Somehow the woman had gotten ahold of a large camping trailer. Although there was a cement pad on the side of the house where she could park it, it seemed to end up parked in front of our house much of the time. The several other cars owned by people living in the house meant that parking on the street anywhere near our house was often difficult, and we had two teenagers with their own cars as well. Again, as the kids across the street grew, the garage was turned into a family room, and much of the time, there were several teens and their friends hanging out in the garage and yard making a fair amount of noise.

One particular evening about two years ago, my husband and I were sitting in the living room, watching TV. My son had come home with a new girlfriend, and they were in his room, also watching TV. Loud voices from these neighbors across the street distracted us from whatever we were watching, and the voices grew louder. I turned to look out the window but it was starting to get dark, and it was difficult to see what was going on. My husband got up from his recliner and went to the front door and out onto the porch in time to see the mom hurrying down the street, yelling to her kids to get in the house. Before we could make sense of all the commotion, a car drove slowly down the street, and as it passed from our right to our left, gun fire erupted.

Somewhat belatedly, I dove for the floor, worried all the time about my husband who was standing out on the porch. I learned later that several of the neighbors had also come outside to see what all the yelling was about, and they called 9-1-1. The incident, of course, was over in seconds.

We learned a bit later that the shots did not come from the passing car but rather were directed AT the car by one of the kids either living at or visiting the house across the street. No one was hit by the bullets, thank God, but our neighbors to our left had two bullet holes in their house and, in a somewhat ironic twist, the idiot with the gun shot holes in the mom's van that was parked in their driveway.

Just after the shooting, having heard all the commotion, my son came out of his room to see what was happening. The poor girlfriend he had brought home got hysterical and we never did see her again.

I thought I was okay until I went to work the next day and burst into tears as I was telling my boss what had happened. For the next hour, I couldn't seem to stop crying, so the office manager suggested I take the day off.

My husband seemed less emotional about the experience. To him, it seemed like a good story to tell his friends and co-workers. We all handle things differently, and maybe telling the story over and over was his way of working through his emotions. But he still jumps at firecrackers and other loud, sudden noises.

The police never did find the gun, because following the shooting, some of the kids took off and presumably took the gun with them. My husband was a witness, having seen one of the kids raise the gun and fire, but he couldn't identify the shooter because it was fairly dark. Although he gave a statement to the police and another to the district attorney prosecuting the case, they must have pled out or dismissed the charges because my husband never did have to testify in court.

After the shooting, the neighbors met to discuss what could be done to get this woman and her family out of the neighborhood. We spoke with the police, who suggested we call them any time we saw anything slightly suspicious going on. Finally, though, the neighbors on the other side of this rental filed a lawsuit against the owner of the home, and that seemed to be the final straw. Within a few months, the family moved out.

With summer coming, I hope the new renters continue to be model neighbors. And I hope there aren't too many firecrackers between now and the 4th of July!

Monday, June 11, 2007

Danger, Will Robinson!

I think some of you reading my blog like Thimbleberries fabrics. And/or Christmas fabrics. If YOU are one of those people and don't want to be tempted, please look away. Actually, this is my second post today and I posted later in the day yesterday, so if you don't want to be Megged, just scroll down a bit and read the other posts. Ignore any photos you may see on your journey. Just place your finger on the down arrow button and close your eyes for a few seconds.

When I got to work today, I found an e-mail from the Fat Quarter Shop, kindly inviting me to look at the new Thimbleberries Christmas Street fabric that had just arrived. I was lucky enough to view fabric cards/samples of this and other upcoming Thimbleberries lines a few months ago, when the Northern California manufacturer's representative came to visit our Thimbleberries Club. This new line comes in three colorways and features three focus prints--two of a Christmas village scene in two scales (large and medium) and one of pine trees on snow-covered hills. You'll see photos of these focus fabrics below.

One of the three colorways has prints with blue backgrounds and other blue fabrics. I asked the rep which stores in my area had ordered that colorway and was informed that none of the shops had, so I was looking forward to seeing it online. I particularly like the fabric with white snowflakes on a blue background--sometimes at Christmas, I get a little burned out on all the red and green! So, be warned--if you like blue too, you might want to check with your LQS to see if they've ordered it; if not, you may want to order it online. Just watchin' your back, quilt buddy! LOL!

Goddess Domestique

The weekend's over and another week of work looms ahead. The weekend, though, was full of family, food, and friends.

On Saturday, my husband and I traveled up to Oroville to visit with my mom. I had heard that Oroville had some fun antique and thrift shops, but in the years since my parents moved there, I had never taken the time to hunt them down; in fact, I had never been to the downtown area at all and had no idea where it was. So, encouraged by my mom and with directions from the local phone book, we headed off to see what we could find, and came home with a couple "treasures," including these two small canning jars and the cast iron cornbread mold.

I was really hoping to find something extremely tacky for my friend Lisa, since we were meeting her and her husband for dinner, but as it turned out, most of the thrift stores were closed or getting ready to close by mid-afternoon, so there was little time to search for the absurd. We made it home in time to relax for a bit and freshen up before meeting our friends at a local Mexican restaurant. I've told you a bit about Lisa before and thought I might end up with another story for you (especially when she suggested going for a drink after dinner at the biker bar next door), but the evening was fairly tame. After dinner, we decided instead to head over to Starbucks and sit outside, chatting while we drank our coffee drinks. The weather was beautiful and it was a really nice evening.

Sunday was a stay-at-home day, and I was bitten by the domestic bug. I made some poppyseed muffins for breakfast and a berry cobbler for dessert (photo at the top of the blog). For dinner, I made one of our favorite chicken dishes. It's actually called Chicken Fajitas, although the recipe doesn't call for any of the traditional fajita ingredients like onions and bell peppers. Still, I love it because the key ingredient is the chicken, and it can be used in several dishes. I'll share the recipe with you. We like this chicken in soft tacos with typical taco ingredients like cheese, sour cream, lettuce, and tomato. Sometimes I'll saute onions and bell peppers for a fajita-style taco. The chicken is also great in salads with tomatoes and avocados--something I plan to make with the leftovers. And, best of all, it's fairly low in calories and fat with lots of flavor.


2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1/4 cup lime juice

4 tablespoons of diced onion

2 teaspoons of minced garlic

1/2 teaspoon of cumin powder

2 teaspoons of dried oregano

Wash/clean chicken and place in large zip top plastic bag. Add remaining ingredients. "Squish" around to mix ingredients and coat chicken.

Place in refrigerator to marinade for 2 to 24 hours. Broil chicken breasts on both sides until cooked. Slice and serve in a salad or flour tortillas with your favorite fixings.


Sunday, June 10, 2007

The Wild Child Returns

The Wild Child stopped by today on her way back to Tahoe from the Bay Area.

Earlier in the week, she called me to see if I could check something online for her, and by the end of the conversation, I had placed an order for her for a ticket to a concert at the Shoreline Amphitheater in Mountain View that showcased a ton of bands. Remember me talking about my tendency toward the hermit thing? I have no problem spending quality time in the company of myself. I'm fairly independent. Still, I don't think I would ever have considered traveling four hours to a somewhat distant city to attend an all day concert by myself, but to the Wild Child, it's no big deal and that's exactly what she did.

She had a wonderful time and met some interesting people, although she said she had the most fun just watching everyone. I can't remember their names, but she spent quite a bit of the concert with this couple:

That photo at the top? That's the Wild Child on the left; her new BFF is the gal on the right. They also met up with this guy, Lars Petrus:

Lars revolutionized Rubik's Cubing by inventing some method for solving the puzzle quicker, and he held the Swedish national title at one time--or something like that. How do I know? Believe it or not, you can find him in Wikipedia. Between the Wild Child, Lars, and the couple, they had two Rubik's Cubes with them. Is Rubik's Cube big again or did my daughter just fall in with a bunch of nerds?

One of the reasons the Wild Child stopped here today, besides soaking in the familial love, was to download some photos from her camera--which is why mom (me!) has all these photos to share with you.

Last weekend she went, again by herself, to hike Yosemite. Beautiful photos of that adventure. Here's one of Half Dome:

Now if you look real close, you can see a darkish line traveling up the rounded back side of the rock. See that just above the one bush on the left? You should be able to click on the photo to enlarge it. That's some kind of cable railing system (because the darn thing is so steep) with people climbing up it. I was pleased to hear that the Wild Child had decided she was a little too tired to attempt the rest of that climb up the rock. I was, however, somewhat dismayed and slightly panicked to hear that she's going back next weekend to make the climb.

If you've read my earlier posts about traumatically scary stuff like driving over bridges, you'll understand that the idea of the Wild Child climbing up Half Dome scares the heck out of me! But I've decided to forget she said anything--I don't know anything, I never heard her say it, and it's just not going to happen. Humph. No, instead, I'll think happy thoughts about rainbows . . .

and rushing streams.

After the Wild Child left, when I was fixing my hair, I thought for a minute that my hair was getting a few highlights in it from the summer sun. When I looked closer, though, I realized it's just a few more gray hairs.

I think I'll go back to my happy place now, taking my iced latte with me. There I'll feel comforted by the nice, pretty fabric surrounding me, and I'll look forward to something slighly more calming, like the finale of the Sopranos.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

I Have a Comment . . .

When I was young and new to Blogland (three months or so ago), leaving comments on someone's blog was a sometimes frustrating skill I had not yet mastered. Still haven't completely as a matter of fact.

Sometimes I'd leave long, witty comments, extolling the wonders of someone's blog or asking insightful questions, and I'd never hear anything back. Now that's not to say I feel that everyone ought to answer my comments--far from it. In fact, that's why it took me so long to figure out what was wrong. On a couple occasions, I would go back to see what comments other bloggers had left, only to find mine wasn't even there. Had the blog author deleted it? Gee, now my feelings were a little bruised!

I finally realized the problem was me! I was somehow skipping over the step where you have to enter some indecipherable code in order to have your comment posted, presumably to keep robots from commenting on blogs. Yeah, like that's all robots have to do all day long. Hello! Do I LOOK like a robot?! Seriously, though, if there are any robots reading this who have a little time on their hands, hey! Come on over and clean my house, okay?

Typepad blogs are the worst! I don't know if you have the same problem, but that code box that comes up appears on my screen only when I scroll down. And half the time, I think I'm done, so I navigate away and on to the next blog, never realizing that I've missed a step and my profound thoughts are jettisoned off into Internet ether, never to be enjoyed by anyone but me. Bummer!

Then there's the problem of being able to read and reproduce the darn codes! I swear half the time I type the wrong letters and have to start over again with a new, equally undecipherable code. Blogger code is the worst for that problem since they stretch and pull the letters out of shape. And really--how does one tell the difference between a capital W and a lower case w? Drives me nuts! This blog commenting stuff is hard work!

And if you're reading this, scoffing at the notion that duplicating these darn codes is tough, just consider a recent news article. The other day, I read that someone somewhere has come up with the idea of using bloggers to reproduce and "translate" portions of indecipherable manuscripts. Now I'm not quite sure how that works since someone would have to know if what we're typing in is "right," so why they would need us to do the deciphering is beyond me, but if we suddenly have to start typing in code that begins with "it was a dark and stormy night," you'll know that the plan has been put into effect.

Anyway, I'm just saying--if your blog requires entry of a code to post a comment and you haven't seen one from me, you'll just have to use your imagination. Chances are I tried. I really did. But I probably finally gave up and went and fixed myself a drink.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Glass Half Empty or Half Full?

What's your outlook on life? Do you look at the future in an optimistic, hopeful way? Or do you think the best times of your life have already passed you by? Do you expect the best? Or do you hope for the best, but prepare yourself for the worst?

Is the glass half empty, or is the glass half full? This is a question I posed to my friend Kairle the other day, although maybe not quite in the same way. She got me thinking along these lines though.

In my life, when things aren't necessarily going well, I try to look ahead, past whatever unhappy or unpleasant things are taking place, because I know eventually, things will turn around. I try to see the good in people. And, perhaps most importantly, I try to see the humor in the little things, because it makes the big things easier to handle.

So, do you see the glass as being half empty, or do you see the glass as being half full?

I've devised a little quilt-related personality test, if you will, to reveal your outlook on life. Study carefully the fabric below and then answer the question that follows.

Okay, here it is:


Life--it's all a matter of perspective, mixed with a little humor!

NOTE: Take a look at these cute purses made from this fabric:

The fabric is called Wranglers by Alexander Henry.

Thursday, June 7, 2007


I find I'm easily distracted. And tempted.

There are soooooo many quilt projects I want to make, but no sooner do I resolve to do one thing, than I'm distracted by another. My latest ongoing distraction has been charm squares. How can a tiny packet of fabric joy be a bad thing? They're so cute and inexpensive. Or so I reasoned last fall. Then, before I knew it, I suddenly had piles of these cute little packets popping up all over the Sweat Shop. I know some of you haven't gotten sucked into this charm square addiction, but I obviously have. And those of you who haven't may wonder what the attraction is. Well, I'll tell you.

I like a challenge. And I like a puzzle. And charm squares provide both. The obvious use of charm squares is to just sew the squares together for a quick, simple tabletopper, but that's waaaaay too easy. That's what I did with the first packet I bought late last September. I was at a retreat with some friends who made a "supply run" to a neighborhood quilt shop and came back with these little bundles of joy, so I had to try one too. A week later, my husband was all set up in his recliner watching football, with a seam ripper in one hand and my plain square topper in the other. Just sewing the squares together was too simple and kind of boring. What to do? I had just purchased the new Kim Diehl book and she had a nice snowball quilt, so I thought maybe I'd make one of those--simple enough but a little more interesting than plain squares. Although I'm a huge fan of applique and had planned to put some in the borders, I decided I'd do a little fancy pine cone and pine needle quilting instead. Here's the result:

Of course, snowball quilts are also very simple, so I then I challenged myself to use charm squares to make other quilts, and I've since made several. It's fun to be creative and come up with scrappy quilt ideas and block patterns using limited size pieces and amounts of fabric. Here's another one I made for my nephew for Christmas. This is a photo of just the center blocks up on the design wall, but I think you can see the charm square part better than in the photo of the finished quilt:

For the last several months, manufacturers--primarily Moda--have been marketing jelly rolls. Check out Nicole's blog for a bit of an explanation about jelly rolls if you're not familiar with them. I have yet to make a quilt using jelly rolls, but I bought my first "roll" about two months ago at my local quilt shop. When I was there for Jo's Club last night, during a quiet moment, I asked the owner if she was going to carry more of them. As you can imagine, I was surprised to find that she has been ordering ten jelly rolls with each Moda collection! Where were they then? The one I bought was the first I had seen in her shop. As it turns out, her Moda University Club gets first crack at them, and they obviously don't leave much for the rest of us!

I've found that happening more and more in quilt shops. If there's a club or class that goes with a particular fabric line, those quilters get the first opportunity to buy. It's been to my advantage with Thimbleberries Club and Jo's Club--do I have to join Moda University now too?!

And if jelly rolls by themselves are not enough of a temptation, Moda is packaging jelly rolls in tins. How incredibly cute is that?! Take a look:

Yes, they will be getting those in at the Fat Quarter Shop, and I'm sure other places will be carrying them too. Can't you just see them all lined up on a shelf, looking cute and pretty? I can! I swear with all the distraction of new fabrics marketed in new ways, when will I ever have time to quilt?

Before Jo's Club last night, I talked to my husband on the telephone. "It's really windy tonight," he said. "You know what that means, don't you, honey?," I asked. After a pause in which I could practically hear the gears grinding but going nowhere, he said, "No, what does that mean?" "When it's windy, I have to buy fabric." He laughed and asked, "So when DON'T you have to buy fabric?" I guess he knows about my distractions and temptations all too well, darn it! But it's really not my fault. Really. And I'll tell you why.

Back several months ago, I read about it in Vicky's blog here. Take a look. It's good to know that I can't be held responsible for my buying habits--it's always someone else's fault! It seems I'm surrounded by Megs, especially here in Blogland! Everyone is working on tempting projects, and I just want to make them ALL! Is that too much to ask? I mean, really?

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EDITOR'S NOTE: In response to a couple comments, don't forget: "It is an ill wind that blows nobody good." HA!