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Friday, June 16, 2006  

Big News!

Folks, here's some real news. The sort that has been going on for thousands of years but never fails to thrill.

When I got home tonight it was a little later - too late to really do much outside, but I walked down to the new veggie garden. There, in the cold frame (just to encourage bunnies to stay out) was a nice sprinkling of leaf lettuce coming up! Whooo hoo!

Nothing gladdens the gardener like seeds leaping out of the ground as plants. So I admired the baby lettuce plants, thought encouraging thoughts towards the rest, tried to gauge about watering needs.

On the way back to the house, I stopped at the "workshop" and even better news - a second garden hose! So I can either get another hose and run two hose lengths down to the garden or run one and just fill containers.... thinking... thinking.... Either way though, the plants will be happy. And so will the gardener.

Written at: 10:33:00 PM


Good Deed

As I got close to home, I noticed a car part way pulled off the road, a young guy out of the car and something in front of the car.... I thought he'd hit something. But as I got up closer - it was a BIG snapping turtle -- like about 15-18" of snapping turtle!

So I got to a place I could turn around and went back. Got out and asked if he needed a hand. He was cute - told me how he hadn't hit it but he didn't know if it had been hit. He warned me several times to stay away from the biting end! He was trying to figure out how to move it and had found a big piece of something automotive that he thought he could sort of corral and pull it with.

Well, says I, I have a big plastic drop cloth in my car -- and some bubble wrap too - would that work better?

Yes he thought it would. So I got it and we slid and rolled the big turtle onto the drop cloth (being careful of that big head) and the two of us carried it across the road and put it over the guard rail. (I mentioned what Naomi had taught me last year about moving turtles in the direction they're originally pointing, otherwise they return to their original path...) He rolled it back onto its feet. I couldn't see that it had been smooshed by anything before we got there, so I think all will be well.

I said -- well that's our good deed for the day!

And then we both went on our way, all fingers and toes intact.

Written at: 12:15:00 AM

Wednesday, June 14, 2006  
I know you only come here for the photos, and I've been nothing but wordy for the past few days. Sorry photo seekers!

I started doing the last group of squares. The prospect of putting them together is both exciting and scary. But that's ok. Usually when the moment comes the exciting part wins out.

In the non-quilting world, I have had a few good days at work, with a real sense of helping some folks. I have really enjoyed driving home and having the sun still out. This evening there had been just a sprinkle of rain and the air was wet and earthy smelling.

This morning I was pleased to hear that Donald Hall of New Hampshire was appointed America's Poet Laureate. Go Poets!

I heard this on today's Writer's Almanac, where they were also celebrating the birth of the first commercially available computer, the UNIVAC in 1951.

The president of IBM at the time thought that computers, with all their incredibly complex vacuum tubes and circuitry, were too complicated. He said, "I think there is a world market for maybe five computers." But with the invention of the microchip in 1971, all the processing power of those thousands of vacuum tubes and punch cards could suddenly be crammed into a space the size of a postage stamp. Within a decade, the first personal computers, or PCs, began to appear.

For the first thirty years or so of the history of computers, it was mostly businesses that used them for accounting purposes. But in the 1980s, the word processing powers of computers made them attractive to writers—although Stephen King said that when he first started using a word processor, he lost the ability to pace himself by the number of pages he had written, and his books grew longer and longer. Russell Baker said, "Computers make writing so painless that the writer cannot bear to stop. On and on the writer goes, all judgment numbed. Before you know it, you've written a book." Some contemporary writers still don't use computers. Joyce Carol Oates writes all her first drafts in longhand. Don DeLillo still uses a manual typewriter.

But, the novelist Stanley Elkin called his word processor a "bubble machine." He said, "The word processor enables one to concentrate exponentially; you have absolute command of the entire novel all at once. You can go back and reference and change and fix ... so in a way, all novels written on the bubble machine ought to be perfect novels."

I just love that idea of the computer as a "bubble machine". Fabulous.

And speaking of fabulous, I'm really enjoying this great relish from Alabama, via my local grocery store. Tasty, and a fitting end to this whole smorgasbord!

Written at: 10:35:00 PM


Finished the next-to-last batch of squares tonight. According to my calculations, (yeah that's right - calculations!) I need to make about 70 squares more, but I'll probably shoot for 90 or so. Never hurts to have a few extra to play with, I say.

All in all this is a pretty restrained palette of colors for me, maybe 45 fabrics and maybe a dozen silks for the stripes.

Over on QuiltArt, people are still talking about working big v. small. I'm heavily in the big camp by most measurers and have been for a long time. Now the question has morphed into "HOW do you work big?" Just a boring answer from me I'm afraid - my notebooks have graph paper pages and I sketch things out and do the math. Sometimes the drawings are just an idea of color or of general placement. Sometimes it's an idea for piecing or for quilting. I make notes of title ideas or changes or thoughts as well as progress reports in the same couple pages. For landscapes, I guess I normally make a full-size cartoon although I can think of a few times when I did the notebook thing and just went directly to paper.

What have you been working on this week? What did you do today? I got out of work a little early and scurried home (forgetting to stop and get some stuff I needed like half and half - boohoo...). Once home I had a nice melted cheese sandwich for dinner and then headed out to the back garden again. Got the rest of it roughly hoed, took out the weeds and whatever roots I could find. Mounded up the dirt in a couple of places and yeah - planted squash. So watch out squash lovers. We're supposed to be heading into a warm period so maybe the ground will finally warm up. The blackberries and dog roses are in full bloom - nice little sweet smell going on there.

Written at: 12:15:00 AM

Monday, June 12, 2006  

Equal time in the TV ad dept:

Worst current ad on TV (OK one of many, but read on) goes to: Hyundai's "Rethink Everything" ad. First off, smacks of "think different" which is near and dear to my heart. Second, and more importantly, I find the whole thing disturbing.

Basically, it shows a city scene slowly rotating 180 degrees. Everything and every body slips and slides and falls as things are turned upside down. People smooshed against windows. That's just not an image I can look on with favor. It ends with the car inhabitant catching sunglasses as gravity takes hold and they fall, commenting: "cool." How cavalier. Bad Hyundai!

Whole thing smacks of that ad awhile back (2002?) where money fluttered down from an urban canyon of tall buildings. People looked up and around. Ummmmm - too soon after Sept 2001?

I'm working away on phase two of the next to last batch of squares. AND it didn't rain today. I hope my little plants will dig in while their feet are wet and the sun is warm!

Written at: 11:06:00 PM

Sunday, June 11, 2006  
No big house projects today, just normal stuff like wash and baking and some cooking and a little puttering.

Tonight though I've been working on my new quilt. Actually I started just before dinner but not with sewing. With a project like this, I need to stop once in awhile and straighten things up a bit, figure out if I need more strips of silk cut, what's going on with the squares? And of course that burning question: how many finished squares are there and how many more are needed?

I cut more strips and organized (again) them. They are a wayward lot. Very messy.

Then I organized the squares to see what was what. And then I sat down and sorted out the finished squares, lights from darks and counted them. All good.

Sometimes I think you just have to be in touch with what's going on, and that explains all the touching people do when they're creating something. Don't you just want to run your hands over things you're making? I love that part. Fondling the fabric before hand, moving the squares around, holding up thread, feeding the bits through the sewing machine.

It's part of the appeal of bread making to me too,. I enjoy knowing how the dough is changing under my hands - how the yeasties grow, how the gluten changes, how the dough relaxes or becomes elastic. I made two batches of ciabatta today, one from a much older poolish. There was quite a difference in the doughs and how they handled but they both seem to have come out great.

The end is in sight for the fabric squares, after this current batch. Then the fun part begins -- laying them out and sewing them together.

Written at: 11:53:00 PM


Where Spring/Summer leaves on hiatus

The low temperature last night here in the shadow of the Berkshires was 49.5F. That's right. June 10 and 11.

Yesterday morning it was still drizzling and spitting rain after a night of steady-sounding rain and wind. That wind was direct from the north, the main edge of a huge nor'easter. The rain finally broke around 11 AM and the wind helped dry out things a bit but the temperature required a couple layers of clothes. How un-June-like!

I was determined to work outside though. I had felled quite a pile of trees, including one oak tree with my chainsaw and then the skies had opened up. Again. So the pile of tree remains was sitting there two days later. A few plants were waiting patiently to be put into the ground somewhere, anywhere at this point.

I worked doing old wallpaper removal while waiting for the rain to stop and then headed outdoors. I lopped off all the small branches and piled up the leafy stuff for normal decay into composty stuff. Since it wasn't raining I broke the golden gardening rule and finished turning over the garden. Luckily that soil is so good that it wasn't a mucky mess! I turned a large enough space to put in my plants and some seeds and that was it for me and the day. The temperature was heading downward. I cleaned up all the tools and knew the remaining tree stuff would wait for another day. Hopefully one that wouldn't require two sweaters!

Back in the house, I did finish the pile of squares I'd started the other night.

Today? Maybe indoor work and a dinner that requires the oven.

Written at: 11:20:00 AM

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