March 31, 2008

The Lure of a Skirt

I came upstairs ten minutes ago (9:30) telling Alex I was going to move the laundry to the dryer and then go to bed with my book. After all, I've been yawning on the couch since 8:30. Only, I remembered I had handwashing in our tub and I needed to move it in to the drying rack in the guest shower. The guest room, when the airmattress and foam are packed away, is my workroom. (It used to be the office. Now, however, Alex wanders in here to use the desktop or find something, but ends up running away in fear that the mess of fabrics, yarn, pins, thread and the like are going to gang up on him. It has definitely become my room.)

And there, lying on the end of the ironing board, was the skirt I was finishing yesterday. The only thing left to do was hem the lining. I had just finished the exterior hem when Alex came home from work yesterday and I thought if you have to work on Sunday you should at least be able to expect your wife to step away from the sewing machine and have dinner with you. So, there it was just a few minutes from completion. I couldn't resist and decided I'd just iron the hem up so it would be a quick run through the machine tomorrow. And, of course, since it was already folded and its just the lining... Well, lets just say I'm already debating if I can wear it tomorrow.

Its a simple A-line out of a nice fabric, perfectly appropriate for the office and the kid meeting I have scheduled. But, there is the possibility of an adult meeting and I should probably wear a suit for that...

Photos to follow - when I convince Alex to take some or myself to get out the tripod.

Photo Monday

Gwen on the way home from her Easter adventure, the picture of exhaustion.

March 29, 2008

Busy, Busy Saturday

**Brit - you might wanna skip this one until the snow melts. I'm just sayin'.

That's my sister lugging our morning haul back to the car. Most of it, I'm relieved to say, was Mom's. But, the three of us had a great time at the annual plant sale at Leu Gardens. It takes hours to walk through the booths and by the end of it we were sweaty and sunburned, but satisfied. We certainly had something to show for it, didn't we?

I'll be spending part of tomorrow planting. (Just making it through the sale was enough for today.) I'm particularly excited about this plant, though. The name escapes me at the moment, but its a fruiting bush. It gets little berries on the trunk that taste like grapes. Two came home with me - one for myself and one for my father-in-law - and one with Mom.

Of course, we left the three dogs at home while we were there. Half way through the morning, Alex called to tell me our friend had found the two young dogs out in the street. They had torn through the screen we'd secured to the gate to keep Gwen from walking through it. He replaced the screen with low gauge chicken wire and moved the big trash can in front of it, before leaving for his own errands. By the time we got home, I found this. And they had somehow pulled the bamboo plant that sits outside the gate down and had chewed at it. Ferociously.And they were dancing at that gate, so proud of their handiwork, when we got home. Not Gwen, though. The experienced old lady that she is wanted it very clear that she had no part in either the original escape or the final destruction. In fact, she was pretty darn glad to see those young 'uns go home.

March 27, 2008

Marking History with Booms

(loud boom shakes the windows)
A: Whoa, what was that?
C: Is the shuttle due home tonight?  Because, that sounded like re-entry.
A: Oh, maybe.  That did sound like the sonic boom
A quick check of the internet and a BBC article confirmed the shuttle had indeed safely returned to Kennedy Space Center.  

Its wonderful living in a place where you can readily identify the sound of the sound barrier being broken* and that gives you very personal memories of shuttle launches.  I have dozens of memories of standing out on the school of the lawn watching the huge smoke trails the shuttle makes across a blue sky as it launches.  And the awesome spectacle when my parents took us to see a night launch - parked on the side of the road at Cape Canaveral watching the huge flames erupt and light up the horizon.  Feeling as small as an ant against the enormity of the machine and the knowledge it would be traveling in to space.  

The Challenger explosion was a vivid reminder of just how precarious this whole enterprise was.  It was January, my Dad's birthday, and I was sick again.  Mom decided not to wake me up to go out in the cold to see the launch.  I'd seen others.  My classmates watched from the school lawn, as did my mother from the parking lot of her office.  Dad, engrossed in a project, brushed his colleagues off when they called him to the window for the launch.  "I've seen plenty of launches."  But, he quickly ran to the window when the shouts began, something was very wrong.  The stories were replayed for weeks, months even, as we followed the news of the investigation.  Ice on the shuttle - pushing the boundaries by launching in unusually cold temperatures.  And, in the end, defective O rings.  Every school child learned what an O ring was that year... I'm sure everyone was impacted by such a national tragedy, but its always just a little more personal when it is in your backyard.  We all wanted to be astronauts in those days.

Its probably just as well for our careers that we didn't become astronauts, as it turns out.  The shuttles are being retired, to be replaced by some other means of travel to space, and the demise of the space program in central Florida seems likely.  I'll be very sorry to see it go.

 *For those of you who don't live in such a place, it sounds like a huge transformer blowing in your backyard or like a car ran in to something really big and slightly hollow.  My Mom once thought she'd hit something when the sonic boom of a shuttle re-entry coincided with her pulling out of a parking space.  She had a few worried moments before she remembered the shuttle was scheduled to return.

March 24, 2008

Photo Monday

This little guy was out basking in the warm spring sun.

Where as this one was busy finding the acorns he hid last fall, and he was kind enough to show me where he stashed his cache.

But, he swore me to secrecy, so I can't tell you where they are.

The Human Barometer and Errors in Forecasting

Alex coined the phrase "human barometer" to describe my ability to identify a coming weather change, at times more accurately than the forecasts, based on how my body is behaving.  I suspect most people who've lived with RA awhile can, and its practically a cliche that you can once you have joint damage, be it arthritis or an old war wound.

But, my forecasting abilities can be a bit off, too.  Yesterday was a gorgeous, hot day with a bright blue sky and just a smattering of dark clouds in with the puffy white.  But in the afternoon , my joints were aching and my skin hyper-sensitive, so I thought for sure the dark clouds were going to build and it was going to rain.  When there had been no noticeable change in the weather by bedtime but I was still uncomfortable, I was down right put out about it.  Where was the rain?  And if it wasn't going to rain why was I suddenly hurting?  

This morning, I woke up to find temperatures dropped significantly during the night.  We only expect to get up to 60 (instead of 80) today and outlying areas around us may drop to 30 tonight (winter temps for us).  Ahh - that explains it.  I forgot to account for the possibility of a slow moving front.

Sometimes the human barometer is a bit off, too.

March 23, 2008

Easter Sunrise

I love the tradition of Easter Sunrise service.  Walking through the yard, in the dark, selecting blooms for the Flower Offering, the quiet of the streets as I drive to the church, the chill of the dew and the instinct to hush our voices all makes the service a bit more powerful on a day when it should be.  The symbolism of the lightening sky as we worship, the growing strength of our voices by the last song and the beautiful tradition of filling a cross with flowers - all lovely reminders of why today is the most important day of the Christian year.

There's little build up to Easter for me, outside of the church.  One decoration on the dining room table - just wheat grass with a bunny nestled in the middle - and a bit of planning for the family meal.  This holiday has very few distractions, and the quiet culmination in the sunrise service is just perfect.

Happy Easter

March 21, 2008

The Sleep Deprivation Without the Baby

I went to bed at 10:15 tonight and at 11:00 finally fell asleep curled around my cramping uterus. Alex came home at 1:15 and accidentally woke me up. (I am repeating the accidentally as a mantra at this point.) I was still awake when he came to bed at 1:30 and we talked - quietly - for a few minutes. He fell asleep at 1:35. Deeply, blissfully asleep. The dog between us, snoring. She, too, is deeply, blissfully asleep. An hour and a half and a disk of Harry Potter later, I gave up and got up.

Standing in the dark house, I developed what I thought was a plan for a soothing, peaceful environment that would allow me to go back to bed before long. Classical music on the radio and a little quilt basting of the T-shirt quilt. (Literally, just the binding to go!) Surely that will ease me back in to sleep. Nope. The basting is done, and I've squared up half the blocks of the baby quilt. Before it occurred to me that perhaps 4:00 in the morning wasn't the time to be cutting on the quilt. That can't be undone with a seam ripper. It is now 4:30 and I have no idea what to do with myself. I am so tired, but definitely not like I can actually sleep.

In half an hour, the morning news will come one and the classical music will be gone.

March 17, 2008

Photo Monday

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

(A recycled photo of Oxalis* - Florida's version of clover - in honor of the day. New Orleans photos coming later this week when I have the energy to download them.)

*Name corrected. Why in the world did I type Cloaxis? That means nothing.

March 14, 2008

Dispatch from N'awlins

Yesterday morning I woke up at an hour usually reserved for farmers and hospitality workers.  Not having many of either in our neighborhood, it was eerily quiet and I startled myself with the noise I made closing the trunk.  Several hours later, I landed in New Orleans.

My training didn't start until the afternoon, so I had time to roam the city and remember the magic it holds once again.  Its been said so often it borders on cliche - but N'awlins is truly a magical place.  I am armed with my person guide book - a list of 'must see' places, which is actually more like a ' places you must eat at' list come to think of it, from a new colleague who is from New Orleans.  Yesterday, though, I just roamed and soaked it in.

Of course, my hotel room overlooks Bourbon street, so while I'm definitely getting a breather from normal life and the office, I'm not getting much in the way of actual sleep.  Even a stomach full of Crawfish Etoufee and a benadryl can't compete with screaming people and police sirens right outside your window.  This is definitely a place for night owls, or at least those on vacation.  On the other hand, there's enough great coffee in this city to keep me fully caffeinated and awake for months.  

My exchange with the concierge this morning:
Where would I go for a good cup of coffee?
Do you want Starbucks?
Really?  I was figurin' in New Orleans I could do than that.
There's a girl.  (Enthusiastically reaching out to shake my hand.)  
What you wanna do is...

Lordy was he right.  I have a great cup of Cafe au Lait that will keep me perky through the morning, no doubt.  Just smelling it is heavenly.

Today - Magazine Street and directions to one of the places on my personal guidebook.

March 10, 2008

Surprise Success

Tonight I made a big pot of what appeared to be an odd flavor of baby food.  Sweet potato orange with green highlights and white and green chunks.  Very appetizing, no?  It was a Sweet Potato and Blue Cheese soup, which leapt off the pages at me while browsing my Soups cookbook this weekend and insisted I find out just what this was about.  I mean, really?  It was mostly morbid curiosity that had me gathering the ingredients and trying out the recipe.

But, holy cow, was it good.  It was rich and savory, the perfect starter to dinner on a chilly night.  (And far too reach for me to eat an entire meal of it.)  A few minutes ago, I was putting away the now-cooled soup, half for the freezer and half for the fridge, when I licked the spoon.  I had to have just one more small bowl before closing the kitchen for the night.  I also took out a small portion and packaged it for tomorrow's lunch with a good hearty bread. 

Photo Monday

A trip to the library on Saturday morning has become a lovely tradition. 

March 09, 2008

Venturing in to Papercrafts

I've been thinking recently I'd like to be able to make a card or decorate a paper craft (like the books I made the girls at Christmas), but I've had a distinct lack of vision in that arena.  After mulling that over awhile, I realized that everything else crafty I do kind of comes together by flipping through my supplies or while wandering in that area of the store.  But, I have minimal paper supplies and I never venture in to that part of the store since I never think I need anything in there.

But, this week I noticed the scrapbooking materials were on sale, significantly so.  So, now I have a little stash to inspire me when the desire strikes.  And a really pretty box to store them in, inspiring in itself.

March 08, 2008

Blustery Day

Today is exactly the kind of day that inspired someone to invent the word 'blustery.' Its pretty wild out there and everything not anchored down has blown away, and even some of what is anchored. The dog tried to go for a walk and only made it two houses before deciding it was too difficult.

And yet, there were people trying to play tennis.

March 07, 2008

The T-Shirt Quilt - Another Baby Step Accomplished

Remember the T-Shirt Quilt? My nemesis who brought me to my knees on multiple occasions? I finished the quilting last night, with no tears and only a minimum of blood.* I think that's the first step of this whole thing that hasn't been absolutely impossible. Next up - the binding. I'm almost afraid to start it. This is often my least favorite part of making a quilt, and this quilt is bound to be miserable... You know - I have lots of extra backing on each side. Just how bad is it to fold that over rather than do a proper binding? Will it really fall apart before I can turn around?

S - I might actually get this monster to you in under two years. And it really does look cool. I was quilting the last block last night, and remembering when you ran that race. It made me nostalgic.

*I did, however, learn that I will not be making any quilts that use serious interfacing in the future. At least not if I'm going to have to sew through them by hand. It was tough sewing.