Monday, June 30, 2014

Some Grandma Quilts

It's design wall Monday over at Judy's blog and I realized I haven't yet shared these two quilts my mother-in-law brought over to be pinned recently.
I love this hexagon/triangles composition.
And this one is just stunning with all the batiks.

I am trying not to feel too depressed at how little sewing I've gotten done.  My own design wall hasn't changed in forever.  I mended some jeans the other day and fixed a ripped out hem, and that's about it.  I keep thinking I will have time, this summer vacation.  But I keep not finding it.

Yesterday the top cabinet in our kitchen pulled away from its moorings in the wall and we had to empty everything out of it and brace it with some 2x4's.  We are waiting from a call back from the handyman department of the designers who did our kitchen back in 2007, and hoping very hard the whole thing doesn't come completely loose and crash down, and that it will be a relatively simple fix.

Still waiting also for confirmation of Peter's arrival at Basic Training.  I'm sure they're keeping him busy.

Other summer things going on: raspberries are in season; we are having more leftovers from our Saturday cookout for dinner tonight; and I'm not really feeling the urge to take on any big projects.  The Tour de Fleece is starting soon and I'm not even sure if I'm going to participate in that.  And how did the potato salad disappear so fast?

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Randomday: Family Updates

This summer vacation thing is getting away from me.  I have not been blogging at frequent enough intervals.  And I don't seem very motivated to change at the moment.  Steve spent most of the week at a conference in Virginia for work.  He flew back yesterday, reportedly sharing a plane with John Boehner, although he didn't notice him.
Peter has reported to Oklahoma for Basic Training.  I took him to his recruiter's Monday and he was taken to a hotel near the airport: Tuesday he spent getting paperwork and medical clearance at MEPS (I don't know what the acronyms stand for - maybe "Military Endurance-testing and Paperwork Silo" would be appropriate), and then we were able to take him out for dinner at the Golden Tent.  Wednesday he flew out and I talked to him when he was in Oklahoma City waiting for the bus to the base.  He was feeling pretty upbeat and not expecting to get any sleep for the next few days.  I like this pic of the two brothers that I snapped the day he left.  I don't know when we will hear from him again.

So, like any mom would do, I took the laundry he asked me to do out of his duffel bag yesterday, and then I decided to check the closet.  It was the stereotypical avalanche scene.  Think "The Trouble with Tribbles" with socks and jeans.  Everyone assures me that they were probably clean... because Peter has been doing his own laundry for years, he just hasn't been sorting it.  He dumps it in his closet in a giant pile and fishes out what he needs on an ad hoc basis.  But because I'm the mom, I decided it all needed to be washed, and then sorted.  It made me feel better, anyhow.  His t-shirt drawer is now a thing of beauty.  And I will never believe him when he says he needs me to buy him new clothes again.  Organizing his chest of drawers is a skill I hope his drill sergeants emphasize.
 Yesterday was Daniel's 20th birthday, but since Steve was just getting back and we had a concert to go to, we postponed the official party to today.  It gave me time to make this cake, which is delicious.  It may be the favorite birthday cake ever.
 The birthday boy enjoys grilling, so we let him.  There was chicken, brats, hot dogs, hamburgers, and grilled portobello mushrooms.  There was potato salad, baked beans, watermelon and fruit salad.
Steve keeps taking the cake shot.
It's been a tradition for 20 years.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Randomday, longest day

Randomday - here's a photo of those fine young people on the trip to Washington D.C. 
At the Pentagon.
And now for a really random picture - the slug that came in the crack under the front door a few weeks ago.  I really wish they wouldn't do that.  I had to get a stick to remove him.

Weather was lovely today -- the girls and I attended a wedding; the boys took Steve to play golf as a late Father's Day present and a last hurrah before Peter ships off for boot camp next week.  Peter has discovered after more than a year how his voice mail works on his phone; he had to go shopping for the regulation socks and underwear and duffel bag he will need.  I'm a little worried about him since we don't have a definite schedule for him yet, but he's going to have to learn to manage his life and better sooner than later, I guess.

Daniel found a good deal on an Ipad mini on Ebay and it arrived today.

I spent a significant part of the morning ironing the backlog of Steve's shirts and pants.  Daniel downloaded a mod for my Civ4 game, called "Caveman2Cosmos".  It is so big it takes 5 minutes to load and taxes my computer to its limits and sometimes beyond, but it is quite fun to take my stone-throwers and trackers out to hunt orangutans and sun bears.  I am playing the Celts and they started up in the Amazon rainforest.

Steve and Daniel picked raspberries yesterday and I made jam, with Quarta's help.  It turned out a bit too runny.  The plum tree is looking good for this year -- not quite as loaded as last year, but still quite respectable.

I found an interesting bit of Proto-Indo-European when I was doing my Bede translation today.  He keeps mentioning "frater germanus" and I finally found a link that explains it, kind of.  The interesting thing is that "hermano" is Spanish for brother,  but the German word for brother is completely different - "bruder".  I've been reading a bit about what it might be like to be a polyglot this week: a fascinating article.  The idea is appealing but I don't think I could maintain my sanity and learn that many languages!  My current list: English, French, Latin, Koine Greek, Italian, Spanish, and German.   The German is still pretty beginner level.  I'm counting down the days until Duolingo offers Dutch, and I would like to learn at least one non Indo-European language at some point.

I just realized it is the Summer Solstice and I still do not have Celtic Solstice finished.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Yarn-Along, and What I've Been Reading

Just a little blog post to try to get back into the blogging game, to share how much progress I've made in the last few months on my sweater, and what I've been reading.  I'm linking up to the Yarn-Along at Small Things.  It's been awhile!  The sweater is almost long enough to start on the pattern I want to put in for the waistband and ribbing.  This is the sweater that I knit from the yoke up for my Olympics project, then I've just been inching along ever since.  Made from reclaimed yarns from thrift store sweaters.

I have finished quite a few fiction books recently; here are a few:

What Angels Fear, by C.S. Harris.  This is the first book in a mystery series set in Regency England, featuring a memorable aristocratic detective with a dysfunctional family and plenty of neurotic, Napoleonic PTSD induced angst, Sebastian St. Cyr.  He is a romantic figure, however, with abilities of intuition and quickness of thought that make him something of a superhero. Historical mysteries have an intrinsic appeal because in the lack of modern scientific evidence gathering, the mystery of human character is heightened.  This book perhaps overuses the red herring and introduces postmodern sensibilities where they don't belong.  The actual crime and psychological investigation thereof is a bit too graphic for anyone who started reading this hoping for a Jane Austen style period novel.  I will probably read more in the series.

Longbourn, by Jo Baker.  I listened to this on audiobook, with lyrical narration by Emma Fielding.  This is a quite different take on Jane Austen fan-fiction, kind of an Upstairs/Downstairs, servant's eye perspective on Pride and Prejudice.  If it were not for its beautiful writing, I would probably have lost patience with it for the same, postmodern sensibilities superimposed on a period piece, issue that I mentioned above.  Sarah, the young housemaid at Longbourn, interacts in mostly superficial ways with the familiar characters while longing for self-determination and love.  If you dislike characters like Wickham and Mr. Collins, you will probably find even more reason to dislike them.  But I am a little concerned that characters like Mr. Bennet and even Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy may come off as having been reconstructed into passivity in order to give a foil for the grievances of the lower-class.  It's a worthwhile story in its own right, however, and I will do my best to dissassociate it in my memory from the well-loved Austen characters it hijacks.

The Minor Adjustment Beauty Salon, by Alexander McCall Smith.  I think I have mentioned a few times that I really love these books?  So evocative of Africa, with not just memorable but lovable characters.  This is the 14th book in the redoubtable series, which shows no signs of running out of material.

Death of a Policeman, by M.C. Beaton.  I've lost count of how many Hamish MacBeth books there are, but this is the latest one.  And it follows the formula that made her earlier books so successful, but with somewhat diminished charm.  Hamish, the highland policeman with the sixth sense and bad luck in love, is indeed an endearing character, but it's been a good run and it's time to give him a happy ending.  This wasn't it.  In fact, the way Beaton has written his character, there may not be a possibility of a happy resolution for his life (and as long as he's selling well, no reason to stop writing them, I guess).  He is perpetually at odds with both the criminal class and the bureaucratic management of the police, and at this rate, there will be no unmurdered people left in the Highlands to settle down with.  Characters are introduced only to be dispatched in a gruesome way a few pages later.  It's a shame; Beaton's ability to bring a story with delightful characters to a satisfying conclusion was what started her in the detective genre.  Witness the various 6-volume series of Regency romances she wrote (under the name Marion Chesney) in the 1980's and 90's.  I recently finished the Traveling Matchmaker series (last book, Yvonne Goes to York), which is a good example of light fiction not taking itself too seriously or trying to prolong the story arc beyond reason.  This recent book doesn't suffer from a lack of imagination; rather, the character development that we enjoy has to be sandwiched between clues and red herrings for a murder we don't really care about.  Suggestion: abandon the mystery genre altogether and write Hamish one last, grand story.  Preferably where he actually connects with Elspeth around something other than a random murder.

And that's all for now!

Saturday, June 14, 2014


Here's a lovely bouquet of peonies from a few weeks ago.  A family at school donated buckets upon buckets of lovely flowers from their farm.  The lawn by the office looked like the Paris flower market or something equally exotic.  I don't think I've been keeping up with posting pictures, or posting at all for that matter, often enough.

Peter returned this evening from the Senior trip to Washington D.C.  They were certainly there during an eventful time.  When they were touring the Capitol, Speaker Boehner walked right by their group and greeted them in passing.  They were able to see the Supreme Court in session as it handed down that momentous pomegranate juice ruling, and they toured the Pentagon as Iraq tumbled into insurgency and chaos.  For some reason not completely clear to me, some of the group plucked grass from the White House lawn and ate it.

He has one week at home before shipping out for boot camp, which will effectively consume his entire summer.  In Oklahoma.

Daniel's wine is maturing in its bottles.  What we sampled is very nice, pretty strong, dry, smooth, with a tangy acidity and fruity richness.  When I compared it to some commercial white Zinfandel, it was much more complex and the Zinfandel tasted like a wine cooler by comparison.  That's my official but completely untutored impression.  I make no claim to be a wine critic.

Tertia was apparently voted "Most Improved Student" in her dance class.  I bumped into her teacher in the library today and she told me.  It's amazing how emotional these 8th grade girls are about graduating. At some point I need to figure out what we need to do for her high school.  I've been putting everything off this week though.

Steve and I are watching "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly."  I'm enjoying it a lot more than I enjoy most Westerns.  Strange how it can be so corny and yet use the classic techniques of moviemaking so effectively.  I will have the theme music stuck in my brain for quite some time.

I continue to be addicted to Duolingo.  I've been working on Spanish and German this month, and obsessively checking for when Dutch will be available in Beta.

It is really good to be out of school.  Really good.  I haven't done anything productive around the house other than scrub the toilets.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

School's Out!

Officially now for me as well, with grades turned in and inservice over.
Peter is in Washington, D.C. with the rest of the rising Senior class.
Taking in the monuments...
...maybe getting a little philosophical...
...and making the traditional stop at Five Guys.
Back on the home front, a few days ago Daniel bottled his plum wine.
Today he printed out labels and put them on the bottles, and turned the bottles on their sides for storing a little longer.  It supposedly needs the time to develop a bouquet.  I think it's pretty good from the sample I had before bottling, but I don't know much about wine.  It's pretty, though!

Tertia's last choir concert of middle school was tonight.  It was sweet to watch her.  She mimicked a bird in "The rhythm of life."  It's hard not to get rather emotional about it; choir has been central to her positive experience in middle school, and she's going on to a lot of unknowns next year.  She has a lot of friends -- real friends -- who are in the typical classes, and they support and obviously like her.  It's great that she had such a positive experience in middle school.

And Quarta took a Red Cross babysitting course on Saturday.  Now she's all set to join that competitive job market.

With school out for me, I hope to get back to blogging more.  I might even have pictures of quilts soon.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Field Day/ Happy Dance

At Cedar Tree, it was Field Day today.  Yesterday was graduation, with 6 seniors taking their place in the real world.
One last chance for handbells.
 Future babysitters, passing in the sunshine.
Team Tarantulas, planning their strategy.  They came in second.
There was even a beautiful quilt - although it's not mine, I had to take a picture of it.
Andrea, one of the Kindergarten moms, showing off the pieced strip on the backing.  Love it!  Maybe I'll have time to do some quilting this summer, after catching up on sleep.
And at Tertia's school, it was 5th grade welcome day.  The 8th grade girls dance class was a big part of the assembly.
 Each of the three groups was responsible for developing and choreographing its own routine.
 I am so proud of these girls for embracing my daughter's differences as something to be celebrated.
 Too blurry to tell much, but she does her part to hold up a team member.
 Precision timing and coordination.
And this was the end of the routine.  Pretty sweet!  Many thanks to Mrs. Ingalls for making her dance experience such a great and inclusive one.  Hard to believe she will be a high school student next fall!

Then the choir came in and sang "Let it Go" from Frozen.  Is it just me, or is that a fine song that has been a little ... overdone?  But I don't care, because school is over or nearly so, grading is finished, all but the data entry.  It's a lovely sunny day outside with a gentle breeze blowing.  It's past time to recover from a hard winter.