Thursday, October 31, 2013

The Most Sincere Pumpkin Patch

 Quarta has been busy with the pumpkin carving tools.  This cheerful, but topless, guy is perched on the front porch.
And this gruesome Cyclops greets any trick-or-treaters who walk by on the front sidewalk.  We are on a busy street so we don't usually get that many.  The girls are waiting around to give out candy.  We may just have to eat a lot of it ourselves.

I've been a rather negligent blogger for several days.  It's not that I haven't had ideas to write about at all, but I lack the willpower and energy to develop them into a full blog post.  Also, for me, a blog post needs pictures, and I haven't taken many pictures for the last week.  That's partly because of parent-teacher conferences, and partly because of going into Finals week, and partly because of family pressures, and partly because Pinterest no longer makes it easy or pleasant to embed a picture from a pin, and partly because I'm afraid my rambling thoughts are really quite rambling and incoherent and nobody wants rambling and incoherent.  But anyway.  Stay tuned for more random ramblings, on Randomday or whenever I get around to it!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Randomday with Pumpkin Aliens

Quarta went to a Halloween party with her friend Sonata.  Silliness ensued, and creepy alien pumpkins with mustachios of doom were the result.
Quarta's original costume design.  She promised she will never be embarrassed by this photo.
 I myself spent a productive part of the morning darning three pairs of Steve's jeans.  Here's the tutorial for how I do it.  For some reason he always wears out his jeans on the left knee first.
For some of them it was the second time darning them.  That gives them a new lease on life, although they are probably best used for garden and work pants, and are no longer dressy enough to wear to auctions or recitals or other social events.  Sorry, dear.  The dirt stains should have told you that anyway.

The rest of the day I frittered away playing Civ IV, newly reinstalled on my laptop.  The Indians have a firm grasp on the Indian subcontinent and also have founded cities in Denmark and Australia.  In the scenario I'm playing, I was the first civilization to discover the new world and was awarded multiple military units with which I imperialistically conquered the Maya and Aztecs, so I also have a promising foothold in Central America, and the year is 1750 or so.  I always find that subjugating barbarians is quite refreshing after an intensive week of teaching and hosting parent-teacher conferences.  But I'm going to bed now, unless I succumb to the temptation to play the proverbial "just one more turn."

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

WIP Wednesday and Yarn-Along

 Quilting on the Farmer's Wife Quilt continues.  This is block #22, Corn and Beans.
 #67, Pine Tree.  Some of the blocks I'm going to do a little special quilting in, but a lot will probably be stitch in the ditch.
 #27, Darting Birds.  Because of the narrow range on my Megaquilter setup, I can only quilt a little over half a block at a time, then I will have to scroll the quilt.  Slow and steady, though.

In other quilting news, Bonnie Hunter has suggested colors for her upcoming mystery quiltalong, Celtic Solstice.  I think this will be a fun one, something to look forward to over the holiday season.

Knitting on Rosalind continues slowly (I'm now at the beginning of the left front), but I want to cast on a new socks project: argyles for Secundus.  He wants blue for the backgound, brown diamonds and that light green for the diagonal lines.  I am reading Fyre, the 7th book in the Septimus Heap series by Angie Sage.  I've reviewed the previous books (link to the first 2) in the series, and by interesting coincidence, Redeemed Reader has a review recently.  Great series of middle-school appropriate fantasy.  I really want to get back into book reviews, but it's parent-teacher conferences this week.  Sigh.

Linking up to WIP Wednesday and Yarn-Along.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Down Syndrome Awareness Month

October is Down syndrome Awareness month.  Well, there are a lot of different issues competing for awareness each month, and Down syndrome is one of them this month.  Now, a big part of me wants to get sidetracked about why we should be more aware some months than others, and whether "awareness" is really all that helpful or just politically correct jargon.  But the truth is, there is a diminishing number of people who have Down syndrome in the world, and civilized people should be more aware than they are about some of the special concerns facing them, and should remember that awareness the rest of the year.  Sometimes a little thing, a kind action or a bit of effort to slow down and include someone, can make all the difference.

Sometimes Down syndrome awareness means combatting negative stereotypes, like the "r-word," the self-fulfilling half-baked prophecy that "they'll never amount to anything," or the demeaning language that would describe Tertia as "a Down syndrome child" instead of "a child with Down syndrome.  But I prefer to be a little more positive in focus, and sometimes awareness means embracing a stereotype that is actually true.  Like the one I've been thinking about a lot lately: people with Down syndrome really love to dance.
 The world's cutest zombie, all ready for the "Thriller performance at her school.  There have been three performances of "Thriller" in the last week, actually; there was also Zumba last Saturday and the high school dance last night:
at which she was honored with the "prettiest costume" award.  It was a cool experience, and I got to see that Down syndrome/dancing stereotype in action, not just with her.  But she did say, yesterday evening, "That's enough Thriller."

(By the way, the Hermione hat came out pretty well for having been sewn together in 5 minutes yesterday afternoon.  The pieces were already cut out of polarfleece and were in that $5 Massive Bin of UFOs and Scraps from the Epic Estate Sale last summer).

Monday, October 21, 2013

Design Wall Monday and Stash Report

Instead of growing quilt tops on my actual design wall, I'm gradually working on quilting the Farmer's Wife Quilt, mounted on my Megaquilter frame.  It's a short/mid-arm rather than a long-arm, so it has a limited range of motion and I can only quilt about half of a diagonal-set block at a time before having to roll.  Today I finished the first bit of blue sashing and began working on the actual blocks in the top row.  This is #106, Wild Rose and Square.

Stash Report:

Fabric used this week: 0 yards
Fabric used year to date: 53 yards
Added this week: 0 yards
Added year to date: 49 yards
Net used for 2013: 4 yards

Knitting yarn:
Yarn used this week: 350 yards for Quarta's purple socks
Yarn used year to date: 10,900 yards
Yarn added this week: 0 yards
Yarn added year to date: 5800 yards
Net used for 2013: 5100 yards

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Randomday, with Mushrooms

 Because nothing says "random" like pictures of mushrooms.  They're in our yard.  They're helping to decompose old logs and stumps.  They're forming a fairy ring of sorts around the house.  It rains a lot here.  I keep expecting to see Smurfs in the yard.
 We went to the Portland Farmer's Market today, hoping to find Winesap or Arkansas Black apples, but it was a little too early.  So we bought Spitzenberg (Thomas Jefferson's favorite apple) and Belle de Boskoop and Gala and unpasteurized apple cider and pear cider, and Starkrimson pears and Asian pears.
On the way back we had an almost front-row seat for a bridge lift, which was kind of cool.  The girls and I were slightly late for the Zumba fundraiser at the Hazel Dell Grange for Down syndrome.  I had never done Zumba before.  It is a little like fast-paced aerobics with a salsa beat.  White Presbyterian girls don't wiggle their hips naturally, I've decided -- unless they have Down syndrome, because Tertia is a natural.
 Steve dug around in the yard some and planted daffodil bulbs under the spruce tree.  In the process, he disturbed a few bumblebee nests, and one stung him on the finger.  Bumblebee stings apparently aren't as bad as other kinds of stings, but they do make your finger swell a bit.  I gave him some Benadryl.
This week, Steve made me watch the Monty Python "Silly Walks" skit, because I displayed my ignorance about a poster that Daniel has on his dorm wall.  I could really have lived my entire life quite happily without seeing that.

Friday, October 18, 2013

The Quick and the Undead

 Secundus has had a great season in Cross-Country.  For most of the season he has been running varsity.
 He's not at the top of the pack but he's solid.  After Tuesday's meet at Vancouver Lake Park, he was told he will get to go to Districts, as an alternate.
 It would embarrass him to tell him so, but he has beautiful form.  He ran the 5K in a personal best of 18:13.
It was a beautiful day for a sporting event at the park, too. The girls and I were able to go and watch for the first time this season.
Today's meet was an invitational and Secundus ran with the JV.  He placed second overall and got a medal!  Steve was able to be there and took this picture.  Secundus came home long enough to shower and change for the dance at Cedar Tree this evening.  It's got to be challenging running with the public high school while keeping up with the workload at Cedar Tree.  Hard to believe he will be a senior next year.  He's made good friends in both worlds.
 Speaking of otherworldly, it's that time of year once again, when Tertia's middle school dance class puts on the annual "Thriller" extravaganza.  Steve got to be the involved Dad again and went to her assembly (I was giving Latin quizzes).  It was great of him to take pictures for me.  I think it's great how Tertia sits with such good posture... that's her early physical therapy showing.
 I somehow missed the Michael Jackson craze in the '80's, growing up as a sheltered and geeky preacher's kid.  I think "Thriller" has something to do with zombies.
Cute zombies, who know how to accessorize.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Run-around Thursday

It's not Randomday, but it sure feels like it.  So, I was in the middle of teaching a lesson on oddball adjectives to 8th grade this morning, and things were a bit wacky and unruly as they sometimes get when the fascination of putting inflected endings on "audax" and "celer" starts to wear off and I had inadvertently made a quip when I had translated "pueris integris" as "to the fresh boys" and then hastily corrected "to the uninjured boys, because if they got fresh they would be injured," and we were all recovering from the embarrassment of me having said that, when the classroom phone rang.  And the office tells me that Quarta broke her tooth and would be waiting in her classroom for me to come and evaluate at my earliest convenience.

Sooo... it was a molar, 2nd in from the top left, and it had split in half as she had taken a bite of pita chip.  There were two fragments out, and half of the tooth still seated in the gum.  I get pretty queasy during dental emergencies, just ask Secundus, who has had plenty.  But the pediatric dentist she sees could see her if I took her to the mall office right away, so I scrambled to give a quickly-arranged sub the information she would need to handle 7th grade (Thanks, Peggy!)  The good news is that it was a baby tooth, and came out fairly cleanly after the dentist did his thing while I studiously looked the other way and wished I had brought knitting.  The bad news, there apparently is no permanent tooth behind it.  This will mean a follow-up visit and we will see what needs to be done about orthodontics, spacers, and an eventual implant.  I keep saying, I'm hoping for the price of implants to come down to where the middle class can consider them.  Our family is going to need at about 5 in the next several years.

I took Quarta back to school (she really wanted to be there for art -- P.E., not so much) and went home for a late lunch and watched an episode of West Wing on Netflix while trying to overcome my queasy post-dental-emergency stomach.  Then it was time for the kids to come home from school.  Quarta had survived the rest of the day fine; Tertia got off her bus in tears.  Checking with the bus driver, a boy had just hit her over the head with his library book.  Well, that was a shock.  She has never been bullied before, to my knowledge, in 9 years of public school.  The bus driver witnessed it and wrote it up as a report; I emailed Tertia's teacher and assistant principal immediately and the school is dealing with it appropriately.  I can only hope the boy's parents are dealing with it as well.

In all the stress I completely forgot I needed to pick up our vegetable basket and Quarta's piano teacher for her piano lesson until 15 minutes later than I should have.  It all did happen, but I was so glad I had gone Costco shopping yesterday and had a lasagna and other elements of a pre-fab meal all ready to go.  And it is definitely an evening for blogging, putting my feet up and watching mindless TV while enjoying a Hagen-Daz salted caramel ice cream bar.  And I will be in bed by 10:00 tonight.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

WIP Wednesday, Yarn-Along

It's been a busy stretch at school and life and I haven't blogged for a few days.  I've done a bit more of the quilting on Farmer's Wife.  I like the little leafy vine and pumpkin seed motifs, but they're kind of fiddly.  Anytime you have to start and stop in a small space, it's fiddly.  That's OK though.  Sometimes fiddly is just right.
 I finished the socks for Quarta!  Can't remember when I started these, but they took multiple months, are made from TOFUtsies yarn on size 0 needles, and used Cat's Sweet Tomato Heel.
Size 4 shoe there, perfect both to display Columbia River team spirit at Secundus' Cross-Country meet yesterday, and the enormous size of that mushroom.  It's great to have a knitting finish to report, too.
I'm enjoying knitting along on Rosalind.  Almost finished with the left front, then I have to do the right front and sleeves.  I'm reading The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert by Rosaria Champagne Butterfield.

Linking up to WIP Wednesday and Yarn-Along, where you can find plenty of other projects of both the knitting and the quilting variety.

Saturday, October 12, 2013


I am another year older.  Dinner yesterday was provided by Steve, as were the roses.  We had Pad Thai, cooked by Steve, salad rolls from Dok Koon Thai restaurant, and a Chocolate Chipper ice cream cake from Cold Stone.  It's almost identical to the menu last year.  It's a winning formula, why change?
Tertia added color to her Dr. Who fangirl picture.  I like how she pictures herself styling with the purple glasses.  Notice Dr. Who wearing the 3-d glasses.  I think she wrote Captain Haddock from the Tintin books in as an extra travelling sidekick, and at least one or two of her school friends.

Steve and Quarta had a Daddy-daughter date to go to OMSI today.  Tertia and I had a Mommy-daughter date to go to the library, where she picked out more Tintin books.  Secundus has been going to consecutive hang-out parties with friends for the last 24 hours.

This morning I sorted through some of the embarrassing accumulated pile of school papers, grade reports, photos and artwork from the last three years that was in the dining room, organized it into stacks for the 4 kids, and put it in their "special boxes" downstairs in the basement.  That led to assembling the storage rack that has been in the basement for the last 1.5 years to hold the "special boxes."  Steve and I need to have a filing date for the household and financial records sometime soon.
The apple trees are ripe.  Steve makes applesauce every year with the apple harvest, but I've never been able to bring myself to process any fruit that wormy. I'll take my apples non-organic and with less protein.  If you look to the right of the apples, you can see Smudge's footprints from when he tracked across the paint pan that was drying on the porch.

And it doesn't get much more random than that.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Wednesday Updates

This week I finally got up the gumption to start quilting my Farmer's Wife.  Monday I quilted the top border, which will be continuous around the quilt but the rest of it will have to wait until I'm done with the central part and rotate it.
 And then I rolled it and began quilting feathers on the setting triangles.  My opinion of my own machine-quilting ability, as I am quilting, ranges from "I suck at free-motion quilting" to "Wow, this is actually pretty," with the most common setting being something like, "It is what it is."  It's probably good for my soul or something.
This is where I stand as of this morning.  The next bit will be the first zigzag row of blue sashing strips -- I'm thinking a leafy vine thing, and maybe pumpkin seeds in the cornerstones.  And then every single one of the 111 blocks will hopefully be just as much fun to quilt as it was to piece.  Well, except for the fact that machine quilting is not as much fun as piecing scrappy blocks from vintage fabrics.  It gave me lots of blog fodder as I was piecing them, so it has the potential to give me even more as I slowly quilt this thing.
This is last week's picture of the socks -- there may have been about 3/4" of progress on those size 0 needles, but no more and probably less.  I'll be glad to get a knitting project finished... maybe another week, maybe two.  I'm reading How Civilizations Die, which might explain my bleak thoughts about my machine quilting skills and the futility of knitting on size 0 needles.  It's a good book with a lot to think about on every page.

Linking up to WIP Wednesday and the Yarn-along.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Crossing the Rubicon

It has been loaded onto the Megaquilter frame, taunting me, for more than a month now.  The Farmer's Wife Quilt.
Maybe you remember this picture, from May of 2012 I think.  It has been waiting for quilting action for a pretty long time.
The thing is, I'm not really that great at free-motion quilting.  I have enough perfectionism that I put off starting because I know it won't be perfect and I'll be frustrated.  But I bit the bullet today.  I only had to pick out about 15 feathers.  Feathers are supposed to be organic, anyway, right?  And finished is better than perfect.
I do like machine quilting, but mine will never be professional quality.  I know I'll never win blue ribbons at the fair.  I'm just going to have fun and quilt each block the way I want it, and accept the wonky bits.  I'll have to reposition it to quilt the other borders anyway.  I envision a continuous feather border around the whole thing, and then little feathers in all the white triangles, and leafy fines in the sashing strips.  If I do a bit every day, it will get done.  The hardest part was starting.

I'll link this up to Design Wall Monday since my design wall is pretty static at the moment.  I usually post my stash report this time too but there are no changes in that either.

Saturday, October 5, 2013


Well, it took Donna Noble in a wedding dress, but Tertia is now a Dr. Who fangirl.
Up until "The Runaway Bride" episode she was cowering in fear whenever the rest of us watched one of the Dr. Who episodes.  They do have a very high creepy factor, so I can't blame her.  But a girl in a pretty dress makes all the difference, I guess.  I think she wants to be the next companion and travel on the "flying machine" with Dr. Who.
 Steve finished putting the second coat of paint on the fence today.  Daniel made repairs and put the first layer on last summer.  The paint is all that is holding some of the older boards together.
Along with the spiders (see yesterday's post) we have a lot of mushrooms around the yard.  They show up every year about this time.  Secundus and his friends used to whack at them with sticks when they were little.  I wonder if they are the fairy ring type, because they seem to grow in roughly a circle that gets wider every year.  This year the circle goes all around the house and is interrupted in several spots.  Don't worry. We have no plans to eat the mushrooms.

Today's randomness included all of the above plus cleaning two bathrooms which were far beyond the pale, making a triple batch of cream of celery soup to take to fellowship dinner tomorrow, Secundus working (helping to move to new office space), shopping for a new shower curtain and bathroom supplies, helping Quarta shop for a new cd player, more shopping, making pizza, and way more being the mean mommy who says no and makes you wash your hands with soap than I wanted to on my one day off.  Putting in a request now for a Saturday when I sew all day and do not run any errands at all.  I still need to: write a letter, deal with correspondence about Tertia's IEP, finish my Greek homework, and find a way to teach Tertia that soap is good and she needs it to keep clean.  Maybe a TARDIS shaped soap dispenser?

I noticed too late and have already skipped a day this month, but there are a lot of blogs doing this challenge - 31 for 21, blogging every day during October to raise awareness about Down syndrome.  I did last year and it was great, but I don't see being able to blog every single day.  Still, it's a worthy cause and I'll try to plan a few Down syndrome themed posts for a day that's a little less random.

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Friday, October 4, 2013


 They were so pretty this morning, outlined in fog and mist, as we were waiting for Tertia's bus.
 A bit difficult to capture on camera, maybe.
 Sometimes three layered closely over each other, but the spinners themselves were in hiding.
 They say you're never more than a few feet from a spider.
 There must be hundreds of them, but this morning I didn't see a single one.  They seem to have the good sense to stay under shelter in the cold early mornings.
But clearly, someone has been getting more spinning done than I have lately.

By late afternoon, each web had its guardian spider sitting in the middle again.