Saturday, November 28, 2015


Tertia's face did not make it into the Columbian's coverage, but it was still a nice event last night.  Today was still the lazy, post-holiday, leftover-eating experience. Quarta made it home from her overnight with a friend, and immediately started watching a Dr. Who marathon with Tertia.  Steve put the Christmas lights up.

I wrote and sent off the Round Robin letter.  Since I graduated from college (in 1989!), 5 friends and I have maintained this letter.  It may take as little as 2-3 months to make the circuit, or as much as a year.  This one came in the mail yesterday; the last time I wrote was Nov. 22, 2014. So I decided to contribute to a fast turnaround this time, probably my personal fastest ever.  It may take a long time to make the rounds, but the letter has never been lost in the mail. The six of us have 15 kids among us and we live in 6 different states.  Two of us have children at Grove City currently.

I sewed a fair amount today; the mystery quilt clue is more than half done.  I am doing a leisurely bit of tidying the sewing area, and ironing some of Steve's clothes while I sew. I'm afraid though, that I will really need to adopt stricter measures in my self-intervention aimed at Getting More Quilting Projects Done. I am reading "To Say Nothing of the Dog" by Connie Willis, and listening to an audio recording of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince ... in German.  My German is still not that good. I am just a few lessons away from finishing the Dutch "tree" on Duolingo. We watched "Home" this evening, a cutesy animated kid movie about a goofy alien. Kind of a fun day, all told.  We are all looking forward to a real break at Christmas, and not so much looking forward to the school days that have to happen before then.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Gray Friday

 In the Great Thanksgiving Stuffing debate, the plebeians won this year. "From a box" is Steve's and Quarta's vote; in the best of all worlds I would enjoy making it from scratch, but no one else in our rather small gathering this year cared, and truthfully, I like Stove-Top myself.  But, I still referred to my well-worn 1994 Bon Appetit Thanksgiving issue for the herb-rubbed turkey... and then proceeded to completely ignore the actual recipe and go with my instinct.  There was a killing frost yesterday morning, and I snapped off lots of twigs of parsley and fennel.
 The reason the bird is so... lumpy... is because I discovered a year or two ago that you rub the softened butter and herb mixture UNDER the skin, and it makes the meat really nice. Of course I had slept in and not defrosted butter and was aiming for getting the bird in the oven quickly so it could be done by T-time, so it was rather slap-dash getting it in there.  And I was glad again about the Stove-Top.
I cooked the green beans in the crock pot so the (real) stove-top was free for making mashed potatoes and gravy, and carving the bird.  I need to remember to do that every time.  Acorn squash with butter, fennel, and garlic was another side dish, and a few baked yams/sweet potatoes... I can never tell the difference.  Quarta and I were talking and I will have to try the sweet potato casserole recipe with marshmallows at Christmastime.  It has been almost 4 decades since I had it last.  I won't force anyone to eat it! I don't do that. Just stating for the record, since my husband acts panicked whenever I mention trying a recipe he dislikes.

The beauty of using the nice china, I explained to Quarta, is that Mom doesn't trust anyone else to wash it, so the kids don't have to worry about doing the dishes.  The beauty of me knocking myself out cooking an insane amount of food on Thanksgiving, is that the rest of the family will find leftovers and not expect me to cook for the next several days. I really wonder if I can make it last until next Thursday? That would be a lovely vacation indeed.  We had a fairly quiet Thanksgiving, highlighted by a nice call from Daniel in North Carolina.

I used to think I would enjoy Black Friday shopping, when the kids were little, until I discovered how shoddy and manipulative the Black Friday deals are, and how much I dislike crowded and noisy shopping centers.  So for today and tomorrow, I am living the introvert's dream.  I am eating leftovers, listening to audiobooks or music of my own choosing or nothing at all, and attempting to quilt.
 This has been the state of my design wall for nearly a year.  The rainbow string star is very pretty, but I screeched to a halt with quilting momentum shortly after the new year, and the Grand Illusion mystery screeched to a halt, too.  That one sample block on the lower left? I have been working on getting back into the quilting groove over the last 2 weeks, very gently.  I finally finished all the components and sewed that block together yesterday. I knew I wanted to do Bonnie Hunter's latest mystery quilt, Allietare, or at least attempt it. But I need to stage an intervention in my sewing area (and yes, on my blog), and it started today.
So today, when the first clue was released, I decided to take some positive steps toward organization. Because as we all know, you have to be organized before attempting any serious endeavor, like the conquest of Gaul or a holiday-season quilt project. This is the state of my sewing area, more or less.  My goal is to finish Grand Illusion, and take modest steps toward organizing the scrap mountain into pre-cut squares, bricks and strips, and take baby-steps toward Allietare.
 Here's a close-up of the Grand Illusion block.  I like it, but I'm ready for the top to be done. A new mystery quilt may be just the powerful motivator I need.
I realized when you pick a project up after months of idleness, you can make mistakes.  I thought I was supposed to make 25 of each 4-patch.  But looking back at the directions, I realize now that I was only supposed to make 4 of the pink/black/gold ones. Oops. We will move along and maybe plan a truly scrappy quilt with the extras and other extras from other projects.  I do know that I will not be using that gold for the border, because now I'm pretty sure I don't have enough of it, whereas I was only mildly worried before.
 These are the fabrics that I bought last week, anticipating Allietare, when I remembered a gift card for Joann's that a student gave me last year. My stash is weak in blacks and grays, and it is the grays that occupy my attention today.
 I really like this one, a Tim Coffey print that feels like it would be appropriate for the Italian Renaissance theme.  It has a background texture that looks like old stuccoed walls and that lovely vine, and a very faint purply richness. My only concern is that it is rather light, and we were told not to go too light.
 I bought this one as well, because I like it too and it is medium, and therefore dark enough.  But I don't LOVE it as much.  Here are both grays with the stash pieces I pulled this morning.
Okay, well, the darker gray is poking out on the left, but the favored gray is mixed in. The neutrals that I think of as outliers are on top.
 Here's the lighter gray. I think I can use it, and just edit out the outlier neutrals. And maybe Olivia the Pig, but I will decide on the reds when I have to.
Here is the darker gray.  It's really not all that much darker though, and I still think the outliers would be better not used with it.  So I decided on the viney print. You'll have to wait until the linkup post, but I did go ahead and piece about 1/6 of the triangles needed today, and did a fair amount of catch-up on Grand Illusion.  I'm feeling cautiously optimistic.

Just returned from the Christmas Tree lighting, where Tertia and other school choir kids sang.  It was clear and cold this year. Now for some turkey soup and a little stash organization.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015


Hey, look who took a 2-month blog vacation.  What is it I do here, anyway?  At some point, I guess I'll have to come up with some deep thoughts.  But for today, we have pie.
 I cooked our pumpkins early this morning and pureed them.  The pie is from the blue-green one, which has really nice flavor, if you like pumpkins that is.  There's enough puree for 2 more pies in the freezer now.  Then there is Chocolate Bourbon Pecan pie, and 2 apples - one with raisins because Steve requested them.
Quarta made a vatload of cranberry sauce.  There are two Costco bags of cranberries, which comes out to 64 ounces, and we had to do math to calculate the sugar and water to put in.  (5 cups sugar, 4 cups water and about 1 cup orange juice). I had to restrain her from eating a bowl of it for lunch, because I'm a killjoy that way.  I put some in the freezer for Christmas.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Buddy Walk 2015

I took the sisters to the Portland Buddy Walk today.  It seemed like everyone was there!
Two sisters with two other sisters! Last week was the first week of school for me, so I was more than ready for a belt-it-out rendition of "Let it Go!"  And the nice thing about the Buddy Walk is, no one judges you for singing along loudly.
 Today is International Talk Like a Pirate day!  Of course they are here!  Arrr!
 The Star Wars people have been here every year we've gone.
And Santa Claus was there, handing out hugs.  We waved at Hagrid and Hermione as they passed, and gave high fives to the Central Catholic cheerleaders, and enjoyed the magician as we waited in line for lunch, and sang along with Tony Starlight to "Sweet Caroline."

 Before and after the slide, I didn't snap at the right time.  I think we felt just a little bit too old for the bounce house next door. (Next week is her 16th birthday).
 Both girls are good hula-hoopers.
I have to say, I was sad this morning when I woke up to this news, and in general also just because there are sad things going on all over the country with respect to the value of human life and especially the lives of those with Down syndrome.  It was good and life-affirming to hang out with many others walking the same road, to celebrate little things, to take a sunny and easy walk around the Rose Quarter, and eat hot dogs and make silly faces with the orange slices.  This is the world my daughter lives and thrives in every day, and the rest of us probably don't enter it often enough.  It's a world where people cheer for you and give you ribbons just for walking around the block, Santa is always there with a hug, you get a cool prize for spinning a wheel, and they give you a new and colorful t-shirt to keep.  What's not to like?  Who wouldn't want to live in this world full-time?  Why can't "real life" be a little more like the Buddy Walk?

Monday, September 7, 2015

Random Quotes Monday

I've been saving up clever or thought-provoking quotes on my sticky notes app for quite some time.  Most of them come from the Cryptograms website, where I've been playing competitively again for the last few months.  (I took a hiatus of more than a year while I was doing other things compulsively,  but I'm back. My ultimate goal is to break into the top 100 players of all time, which I might be able to do if I keep it up for 6 more months).  Here are some of my treasured-up quotes.  Any resemblance to current events and real persons is completely intentional and is the reason I bookmarked them in the first place.

"You can't make up anything anymore. The world itself is a satire. All you're doing is recording it."
— Art Buchwald

"A man may be born a jackass; but it is his business if he makes himself a double one."
— Martin H. Fischer

"One man alone can be pretty dumb sometimes, but for real bona fide stupidity, there ain't nothin' can beat teamwork."
— Edward Abbey

"His speeches left the impression of an army of pompous phrases moving over the landscape in search of an idea."
— William Gibbs McAdoo

"I don't make jokes. I just watch the government and report the facts. "
— Will Rogers

"Posterity is as likely to be wrong as anybody else."
— Heywood Broun

"The function of posterity is to look after itself. "
— Dylan Thomas

"Sooner or later everyone sits down to a banquet of consequences. "
— Robert Louis Stevenson

"It is with narrow-souled people, as with narrow-necked bottles - the less they have in them, the more noise they make in pouring it out."
— Alexander Pope

"Children are a great comfort to us in our old age, and they help us reach it faster too. "
— Unattributed

"What some call health, if purchased by perpetual anxiety about diet, isn't much better than tedious disease."
— George D. Prentice

"In middle life, the human back is spoiling for a technical knockout and will use the flimsiest excuse, even a sneeze, to fall apart. "
— E. B. White

"I take a grave view of the press. It is the weak slat under the bed of democracy."
— A. J. Liebling

"Every journalist owes tribute to the evil one. "
— Jean de la Fontaine

"The civilization of one epoch becomes the manure of the next."
— Cyril Connolly

"Here in America we are descended in blood and in spirit from revolutionists and rebels. As their heirs, may we never confuse honest dissent with disloyal subversion."
— Dwight Eisenhower

"People demand freedom of speech to make up for the freedom of thought which they avoid. "
— Soren Kierkegaard

"Respect for the fragility and importance of an individual life is still the mark of an educated man."
— Norman Cousins

"In times like these, it helps to recall that there have always been times like these."
— Paul Harvey

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Randomday - Anniversary Edition

Today is Steve and my 23rd anniversary.  Our kitchen is messy and the photo is a bit blurry... it was taken by Tertia...

...who is here holding up her fingers for the first day of 10th grade, which was this week.

Steve and I celebrated yesterday by going to the Parade of Homes and looking at the fancy houses, and then eating at a nice restaurant, and then watching The Man from U.N.C.L.E.  Then we came home and Steve read a chapter of history about the reconquest of Constantinople, and I fell asleep.  All I really remember was the Despotate of Epirus.  It might be nice to be the Despot of Epirus.  Today was quiet, and that was nice too.  I picked grapes and avoided doing anything remotely challenging with my brain, and we went on 2 walks, one where we came back early because it started raining on us, and one real walk.  Quarta made mac and cheese with hot dogs, peas, and olives for our dinner and later we'll have ice cream and watch a movie.

A tale of three couples... at the Grant House restaurant last night, the nice young waitress who served us asked if we were celebrating anything special, and we said our anniversary.  She mentioned that there were several couples in the restaurant doing the same thing, and asked how many years.  When we said 23, the lady of the nice older couple seated diagonally from us said something about how we'd need to have 26 more years to catch up with them!  So that was truly sweet and heartwarming. We ordered, I visited the restroom, and when I came back there was a new couple seated diagonally behind me.  Steve and I talked animatedly and enjoyed ourselves, the older couple were talking sweetly to each other and enjoying themselves, and somewhere over my shoulder I felt a chill. Hard to explain, but I suddenly had second thoughts about laughing or talking with any warmth. Couple #3 was maybe midway between 23 and 49 (no idea if they were celebrating anything but it sure didn't seem like it), and the gentleman was not going to be pleased.  The wine was not good enough (we found out afterwards it was a $30 bottle) and while the wait staff was giving them a chance to find an alternative, he complained about the inexperienced server (who was new on the job but not unsupervised) to the older couple, and stormed out, with his wife trailing after him and saying, "We won't be staying." It upset the kind older lady, you could tell, and before that couple left, she came over to me and put her hand on my shoulder and blessed me for many more years of happy marriage... and of course I responded in kind.  She said her husband's parents lived to celebrate their 70th!  And so I am left with the real hope to be like that quirky but kind old lady in 26 more years, and we all had a bit of a shudder at how nasty it must be to be that impossible-to-please couple.  I felt particularly bad for the waitress.  She asked me a couple times if they said anything about her, and you could tell it bothered her, and she apologized for us having to witness it as if it was her fault.  I did my best to reassure her that he was probably someone who bullied everyone, and it made an interesting floor show.  I haven't seen someone who appears to be old enough to know better act so badly to a young person in a long time.

So the motto for this Randomday post is, be polite to the people who serve your food at a nice restaurant, and the fellow diners, and don't leave a bad taste in everyone's mouth.

Our food was delicious, by the way.  I had a filet steak with blackberry demi-glace, and Steve had salmon on a tomato coulis with blueberry compote, and we split a flourless chocolate mint torte for dessert, and it was good.  So is marriage, and here's to many more years.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Crickets Still... Some avenues of exploration for conflicted reporters

Social media such as Twitter and Facebook may have their detractors, but right now I am inclined to believe they are ground zero for the war for the soul of America, and if you want to fight on the side of the angels, this is where you need to be. At some point in the last weeks Planned Parenthood mounted a social media campaign, encouraging supporters to tell inspiring stories of how they were "helped" by the abortion superstore, in hopes of countering the trafficking in baby parts scandal.  My absolute favorite - "I can share my story because my mom didn't abort me and have me parted-out like an '87 Honda."  By multiple accounts, Planned Parenthood is losing the battle for social media.

But  in the mainstream media, television networks ignore the scandal entirely and newpapers cover it in the most clinical and detatched fashion possible.  Despite massive, spontaneously-organized demonstrations in every major U.S. city.  Why is that?  Well, in my opinion, part of it is the embarrassment of being scooped.  No journalist likes to be beaten to a big story.  And these rank amateurs at the Center for Medical Progress. Everything they have released so far is on their You-Tube channel, for anyone to view and analyze. And even amateur bloggers like me are viewing and analyzing it, both the edited (not so deceptively, actually) and unedited versions.  But that doesn't explain why most news outlets still tread on eggshells around the sacred ground of Planned Parenthod.  The sensible thing, the thing you would expect most conscientious reporters to do, is to jump on the investigative journalism bandwagon. Careers are to be made if you can come up with a new angle... and you would expect to see energetic brainstorming going on in the newsrooms at all the major networks.  This just in... as I was writing, it does appear that Fox News is doing it old school. A special segment for tonight.  Kudos to Fox, and let's hope this is the tip of the iceberg when it comes to news coverage.

But what about everybody else?  Showing the films is a guaranteed way to keep away pro-abortion protesters, as Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal discovered when they showed up at his mansion.  Democratic congressional staffers also respond to them about as warmly as vampires to garlic, as the Susan B. Anthony list discovered when they hosted a screening.  Sooner or later, all Americans will have to face any moral culpability they personally may have in the abortion culture that has stood unchallenged for far too long.  I think we will start to see more moral honesty coming from reporters who have wrestled with it, as from the man who wrote "I don't know if I'm pro-choice anymore."  So many reporters have probably had abortions themselves, or been responsible for one of a partner, or been told "this is a fundamental right period end of statement" so often, they don't know how to challenge it.  But that is, kind of, what reporters are supposed to do.  If you're a journalist who happens to stumble across this little blog and you're wondering how to tackle it, I double dare you.  Find out the truth.  Some of us aren't in a position to do so.  But feel free to take any of these ideas and explore them.  I think most of them would be of general interest, not just to those who are pro-life already:

What exactly do fetal tissue procurement companies like Stem Express need "at least 50 more livers a week" for?  Could it be for the "skid mice" that Daleiden mentions a few times in the interviews with Stem Express and ABR?  And what exactly are BLT, humanized mouse models?  They appear to be chimeras, genetic combinations of human cells from you-know-where and mouse cells.  A lot of this research seems to be done in large "mouse houses" like the Jackson laboratory or the University of Wisconsin. (Just to name a few phrases my not-too-keen ears  caught in listening to all the uncut videos.)  This appears, to my unscientific eye, to be some serious genetic engineering.  With or without tissue from aborted babies, is it ethical, by general consensus? Is there a general consensus? How is this research funded? Any of it federally?  What about those tantalizing mentions on the videos of Planned Parenthood clinics that ship a lot of tissue for government research? Did you even hear them, or have you watched the videos? What kind of guidelines are there for procuring the tissue, and who makes sure they are followed? If the abortion providers aren't supposed to make a profit on the tissue, how much of a profit are the middleman companies making? Stem Express no longer makes their price list publicly available but records exist, and fetal liver cells start at more than $500 a vial.  That's a pretty significant markup from the $75 a specimen Planned Parenthood is getting, if that's all they're getting.  Or is that $75 per body part, and then Stem Express and ABR and other companies like them do the work of "deboning the chicken" as they say, and passing along to researchers isolated cells that are unrecognizable to the average lab technician as coming from a human fetus? What kind of training do lab techs have, and why would they "freak out" and "have meltdowns" if they received a recognizable baby part? Is there an ideological test for people who aspire to do biomedical research at the graduate level? Are people with ethical or religious objections blacklisted in major research universities? What kind of legal protections exist for someone like Holly O'Donnell, the whistleblower who used to procure tissue for Stem Express?

To acquire the right kind of fetal tissue in pristine condition, not all abortion techniques work well from the procurement tech's point of view. But federal law prohibits an abortionist from modifying the abortion technique in any way other than as patient care (the mother's, not the baby's obviously) requires. The procurement companies are quick to acknowledge this legal requirement as one of their limiting factors.  But why do the doctors at Planned Parenthood not do the same? They appear to agree to "convert to breech" or "crush above and crush below" in order to obtain a usable product.  If there is federal law against this, they must surely know it, right? And to disregard it with a wink and a nudge, and figure out how to put it down as a line item that won't raise suspicion, there must be some kind of incentive for them, right?  Follow the money.  I dare you.

Planned Parenthood and ABR are nonprofit organizations, but that doesn't mean that people who work there can't make a huge salary.  Kind of like the NFL, from what I understand.  The janitor at Planned Parenthood makes more than $100,000 a year. What do the doctors and other clinic staffers make? Why is it necessary to publicly fund them in addition to their large donor base, other than as a political payback for their well-known support for Democrats? What safeguards are there to make sure those public funds don't go toward abortion, a practice that is ethically troubling, at least, to a majority of Americans?  Why is Planned Parenthood, an abortion specialist with a sideline in supporting a sexual ethic that is divorced from any value system (other than early 20th Century Eugenics), receiving so much more funding than community health centers that provide more life-saving services like vaccinations, mammograms, and broad-based health care?

In all honesty, I would love to see someone in the media explore these questions.  With each video that is released by the Center for Medical Progress, I am increasingly sickened by the depths to which our culture has sunk.  But reporters, you represent the freedom of thought and inquiry that has made America great.  The CMP has scratched the tip of the iceberg, but there's more, much more, that thoughtful Americans want to know. Go find it out for us.  I dare you.