Sunday, November 30, 2008

Three Things

First, I heard from NapaStyle twice yesterday. One was another marketing pitch. The second, to my pleasant surprise, was an email stating that my five small items had shipped that very day and that my major item was scheduled to be shipped on December 5. Stay tuned!

Second, we had a wonderful Thanksgiving with the family. Everyone was here for breakfast. I was still coughing (more about which later) and in the early morning Anastasia and Tom were so helpful, getting the table set, helping to arrange things. It was just glorious having everyone together. Joe made his signature French toast, and little Carrie couldn't get enough of it! T&A had to leave around noon to head back to Richmond but everyone else was here for dinner. I don't know what I would have done without Amy -- not only did she make Joe's favorite dessert, a Boston Cream Pie from scratch, but when it was that hectic time to get everything on the table, she started doing the water and the wine and when she'd finished that, she seamlessly got everything on the table as I got it dished out.

About the cough. I think I had too much going on Thursday and Friday. Friday night I had so much trouble sleeping even having taken the super cough medicine available by prescription only. At breakfast I told Joe, "If this isn't better by Monday I'm going to go back to the doctor." He said, "I think the doctor has hours this morning." I called and off I went. I was prescribed a new medicine, Tessalon, and it is effective in suppressing the cough much of the time and apparently has the side effect of producing extremely colorful, entertaining, and detailed dreams! Today I am much improved, and I am very relieved.

Third, we have a winner of the scarf I made and promoted in my Celebrate 600 post. It's chookyblue from the land of Oz; please send me your address and I will get your scarf off in the mail to you. I know it is summer where you are, but come autumn, I hope you will enjoy having it!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving 2008

It's his favorite holiday. And what he loves the most is to have all of us together for a Thanksgiving meal.

Every other year it happens. All of the kids come to us for Thanksgiving dinner. We do it on Friday, rather than Thursday, so that those who have in-laws nearby can spend the official day with them. We figure it is about the togetherness, not the precise day.

This was an off-year. T&A were scheduled to spend Thanksgiving with her family. S2C2 were going to Chris's family and A&A would be with her family on Thursday. So we invited ourselves to Bonnie's and planned a dinner for Friday with just T&A missing but in our thoughts.

Then we got an urgent email from Tom. He and Anastasia were not going to be with her family and could they come up for part of Thanksgiving? The plan was that they'd come to town on Wednesday and spend the evening with Sherry, come down and stay with us, accompany us to Bonnie's, have A&A come here for Friday breakfast and then leave for home sometime after breakfast. That way they'd get to see everyone. Of course they could.

Then last night it all changed. The phone call came around eight o'clock. They'd been in the car for ever, it seemed, and had missed dinnertime at Sherry's and couldn't get there before the kids had to go to bed, and they were coming directly to us. So we quickly talked to Sherry and she consulted with Chris and now they will be joining the rest of us for breakfast on Friday. Joe will get his wish -- everyone together for a Thanksgiving meal, just not the one people usually think of.

He's thankful. I'm thankful, too. It is good to have everyone together. Mostly, though, I'm thankful to have him. Thinking back to the events of Memorial Day, this could have been a vastly different Thanksgiving Day for me, for all of us. I'm thankful to Abington Hospital's Emergency Room for their proficient handling of our emergency. I'm thankful to Dr. Cohen for his calm competence. Mostly I'm thankful to God that I have my husband by my side this Thanksgiving.

The picture of us was taken by my California cousin when she was in town this September. I don't know why Joe has a sort of Clintonesque leer on his face. He's ordinarily not one to leer. But it is us, together. And I'm thankful. Leer and all.

NapaStyle Update Number Two

Hey, I heard from NapaStyle again this morning! I'd written them yesterday to say that I really did not want to receive marketing emails from them, but I really do want to know when my order is going to be delivered. So here's what they said in the email they wrote in response:

NapaStyle is all about family, friends, good food and wine. Browse our selection and find products to fill all of your entertaining needs, and don’t forget to search our recipes to find that extra special touch for your next party. As a NapaStyle email subscriber, you’ll receive Michael Chiarello’s exclusive newsletter, along with first-look offers, special recipes and entertaining tips.

To make your experience even better, we invite you to create an account at if you haven't already.

Way to go, NapaStyle! Thank you for your special, personal attention to a customer's request for information about an order that is two months old!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

NapaStyle Update Number One

Hey! Guess what this morning's email brought! Yes! Something from NapaStyle! From the customer service team, even. Complete with a picture of jovial Michael Chiarello, Founder of NapaStyle and Chiarello Family Vineyards and Emmy-winning Food Network Personality! You can see Michael to the left.

What did they have to say about my two-month-old order?

Nothing. Not a word.

Because it wasn't a real, personal email. They had the audacity to send me more marketing propaganda.

How's that strike you for attention to detail? For promise to follow-up with a written emailed explanation? For caring customer service?

Of course I wrote them back. Promising to keep my readers apprised.

So stay tuned, already.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


Ever shop at this place? No? I never did before, though they've been sending me their slick catalogs for a couple of years. I never shopped there before this year and I tell you, it's unlikely I'll ever do business with them again.

This fall, at the end of September, another catalog from them came. I saw the perfect gift for someone important on my list. I saw some other things. The very next day, I called and placed my order for five of one small item, five of another small item, and the special gift for the important person. The next week, five small items came. And that was all.

So last night I was looking over my Christmas planning list and noticed that the rest of my order from NapaStyle had never come. This morning I decided to give NapaStyle a call. After being placed on hold for 7 minutes and 38 seconds, someone told me that the my things were backordered. She said that the five small items were due to come in on the 21st of November and should start shipping that day. Then she realized that today is the 25th, that the items are not in, and have not shipped. The important item, she said, is due in December 1 and will start shipping that day. Based on what happened with the small items, I lacked confidence in her prognostication.

I pointed out to her that at the time I had placed my NapaStyle order, the clerk had not bothered to mention to me that 6/11th of the order was not available. You know, the way reputable places like LandsEnd and Territory Ahead do.

Meanwhile, they keep sending me catalogs with the very same items still listed!

Their website says the following under a tab about Shipping Information:

Shipping Information
Standard Orders
Orders received Sunday - Thursday ship the next business day (subject to availability, as shown on the product page). Orders received on Friday and Saturday ship on Monday. Gift wrapped orders may take a day longer.

We ship via FedEx, and FedEx Smart Post. Our standard delivery is Ground, which takes 3 to 10 business days.

Continental United States Addresses
STANDARD SHIPPING: Orders received by 10 am are shipped that day. Your order will be delivered within 3 to 10 business days, depending on your location, and time of year. Rates for Standard Shipping are shown in the chart below.

They certainly don't always follow their own policy.

I expressed my dissatisfaction with their not being straightforward with me at the time I had placed my order. I indicated my strong desire to have some accurate information very soon about just when I would receive the things I have paid for. She said she would have a supervisor email me.

We'll see.

I don't like being misled. If NapaStyle had told me at the time of placing the order that there was a delay and told me the real date that they would ship, I would have had a basis for making an informed decision as to whether to place the order or not. But they didn't. They led me to believe that the Shipping Information posted on their website would be honored.

Now I've lost two months, if I have to think of another gift for someone important. We'll see whether someone actually does get back to me.

And what rate of interest do you suppose NapaStyle will pay me for having had the use of my money for two months?


Celebrate: Two Thoughts

This post is about a two-way celebration. I want to see if I can bring the two thoughts together.

First, I'm celebrating because this is my 600th blog post. And I promised a give-away.

Second, we're coming into the season of celebration, and for many people, celebration and giving are going to take different forms this year. Here are two evidences of this:

Exhibit A: A woman in Indiana who feels guilty that she can't spend the $600 that she spent last year for gifts for her then 3-year-old daughter. I had to read this twice to make sure I understood. This wasn't a total Christmas budget of $600. It was $600 for a 3-year-old!

Exhibit B: Dear Marlene who recently was laid off and has been thinking about what really is important in holiday celebration and is asking bloggers to share their thoughts.

Like most, our family is impacted by the current economic situation. We had made the decision a few months ago to cut back on our giving to each other. We had begun to feel as though the prolonged opening of gifts was actually cutting into our time together!

Okay. Here is where it comes together. Remember the scarf that I made last week? The one I wrote about here? Well, I checked with a family member of my proposed recipient and learned that while the lady would have appreciated the gift and the work that went into it, it was unlikely that she would actually wear it -- her taste runs to less complicated patterns. Would you wear it? Or would you give it to someone you know and love who would wear it? Because I'm going to give it away to one of you.

Here is what you do: Go on over to Marlene's blog and read what she's written and share a piece of your own recession-style holiday plan with her. And leave me a comment on this post (making sure there is a way I can contact you). This coming weekend, I'll draw a name and the scarf will be in the mail on Monday!

Monday, November 24, 2008

All Good?

Recently various sites on the internet have posted lists of annoying comments, cliches, remarks. "At the end of the day" is detested by many, many people. Countless folks no longer wish to do anything at all "outside the box." "To be honest" has worn us all out.

But thus far I've not seen anyone rant about the one that is currently driving me crazy: "It's all good." WHAT is all good?

Much is not good.

Yes, life is good. And many other things are good. And there are those who have an amazing (if sometimes unrealistic) ability to find something good in a terrible situation.

But, friends, I'm here to tell you: It is not all good. It is not. Do not tell me that it is.

On another front, this is post #599 for me. And that is good. Warrants something special for the next one, don't you think? A give-away of some sort, I do believe. Stay tuned for details in post #600, soon to be published!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Wedding Season and a Private Getaway

About six weeks ago, I received an email from Rob, the innkeeper at White Oak where we go for our quilting retreats. It seemed that a weekend that had been booked was now available; some group had canceled, leaving Rob with an empty inn at what would normally be a very busy time. He was writing to all of the quilters on his mailing list, wondering if anyone wanted to come out for a getaway.

It sounded interesting. It would be fun to meet some new quilters. And what better place! Helen and Judy and Turbo and I signed up. When I spoke with Rob later on, he said there were three other women coming. As the time for the getaway drew near, and my bronchial infection persisted, I wondered if I should go. I struggled with what was the right thing to do. Joe urged me to go, pointing out (a) that I don't cough as much when I'm engrossed in sewing and (b) I had already given up so much for the bronchial infection. I decided he was right; I did ask for a room to myself so that I wouldn't have to worry about disturbing Turbo's sleep with my coughing.

I left immediately after work on Friday, having packed the car in the morning. Driving out to Lancaster County, there was snow on the turnpike, which always makes me uneasy. I kept to the right, slowed down, and left plenty of space between myself and the car ahead. The snow only lasted about 15 miles, and then I was on 222 heading south. I got to White Oak about six o'clock. Turbo was already there with a glass of wine in hand. Rob and Carol welcomed me and said the other two had just called in and would be there shortly. I asked about the three other women; they had canceled. It would be just the four of us, together with our sewing machines, at White Oak.

We had such a wonderful time. People were patient and tolerant with the cough. Carol kept plying us with scrumptious home-cooked delights. Turbo spoiled us with gifties of scissor fobs and quilt-pattern socks. Helen and Judy and I got silly early into the evening. Might have been the wine. Might have been the feeling of decadence at having all of White Oak for just the four of us. Whatever.

We sewed and laughed and talked. It is wedding season for the Lancaster County Amish, and Carol was full of news about the wedding they will be attending this coming Thursday, while most of the rest of the United States will be having family turkey dinners. We learned a lot more about Amish culture. It turned out that Turbo had never seen the movie "Witness," and so on Saturday night Rob provided a video and we watched it together as we sewed.

I got a nice border on my hand-dyed baskets quilt and with Turbo's advice and Helen's encouragement and Judy's tutelage, got a mitered piano key border on my black and honey baskets. With these two tops now completed flimsies, I turned my attention to the platypus fabric. I'd finally found the perfect pattern for it, and made considerable progress before it was time to head for home. Pictures at some point, I promise.

Joe helped the weekend to last even longer by taking me out to dinner.

Further evidence, Ms. G, that life is, indeed, good. Very, very good.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Eleven or Twelve

I'd come out of my office to fill my water bottle from the cooler and I heard the crying. The girl was standing across from my office, talking on her cell phone, and crying her eyes out.

I'd noticed her before. She's a middle schooler, about eleven or twelve, who has long days. She waits in the lobby after school lets out, waits for a long time, for her parents to pick her up. It must be that they come to get her on their way home from their own jobs. She'll be there playing a game on her phone, talking on her phone, reading her book, or occasionally interacting with other kids who have long days.

She's small, probably the smallest and youngest child in her class. To my eyes, she's kind of cute in a pixy-ish kind of way, with straight shiny hair drawing you right in to her immense dark eyes. But she's not what middle schoolers think of as pretty, with her thick glasses and what appear to be a few too many teeth for someone so small. It probably goes without saying that she is flat-chested. She looks immature. And kind of desperate.

By the time I had my water bottle filled, she was off the phone but still sobbing and gulping, and two bigger girls were standing around trying to talk to her, but not really knowing what to do. I brought her into my office, suggesting that she did not really want to be crying so hard in such a public place, plied her with tissues, and waited.

The problem was predictable. Her "best friend" was being mean to her. Wouldn't talk to her. Was hanging out with new people. Accused her of "stalking" her. Most likely the "best friend" is the second least popular kid in the class and had somehow managed a break-through contingent on severing this relationship.

Took me right back to junior high. Girls can be so ruthless.

Mom says "if the girl doesn't want to be friends with you, good riddance." Mom has no idea this is the only friend. She talked; I listened. She cried; I patted. When she had herself together a little bit, we came up with a plan. We'll get the middle school dean to bring the two of them together so that they can talk in a safe environment. So one can learn that people grow apart. So another can learn that severed intimacy doesn't have to lead to total dismissal. So the dean can assess just how serious it all is and how to handle the rest of the class. This morning I spoke to the dean who will facilitate such an encounter.

Every few years it happens. There will be a lonely, immature girl who is simply unable to find her place. Takes me right back to junior high.

I look at the cliques and at the outcasts. I wonder if any of them actually feels confident, attractive, acceptable. I don't know anyone who admits to having been happy in junior high.

My present age carries some difficulties I may not have anticipated. But I'll tell you this: I'd never want to be eleven or twelve again. Never. Never.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Inspiration of the Wee Hours

So last night was the worst so far, cough-wise (this afternoon I phoned the doctor and told him of my intense regret at having turned down his offer of codeine cough medicine and he agreed to call in the prescription now). As I lay tired but sleepless, I began to think about a little project I might try. There was a vague sense that this was not an original thought; I honestly believe I read about something like this on a blog a couple of months ago.

Anyway, I thought I would take a FQ and cut it in half lengthwise and then sew the short ends together, forming a piece roughly 9 x 42 inches. This would become the back of a scarf. Then I thought I might take some additional, coordinating FQs and cut them in strips 9" long by various widths. And sew them together to make the front of a scarf. Not a big, long, wrap-around-a-buncha-times kind of scarf, but a shorter, more tailored kind of scarf, the sort of thing one would wear with a Chesterfield coat (do they still make Chesterfields?) or with a nice London Fog raincoat. I even had a recipient in mind, not that I've ever seen her in either a Chesterfield or a London Fog. She's a dear lady who gives me something she's made each Christmas, usually some yummy jam, but sometimes a loaf of breakfast bread. I generally give her a tart or a pie, but last year I gave her a little handbag that I'd made and she seemed pleased. I thought she might like a scarf.

Today after my nearly nonexistent night of sleep, I stayed home from work until after lunch, and actualized my plan. I used coordinating FQs of Daiwabo taupes and am pleased with the outcome.

And if you are, or know who is, the person who blogged this idea initially, please let me know so I can give proper credit! Because I think I just might be making a couple more of these little guys.

Monday, November 17, 2008

The Unthinkable Has Happened

The unthinkable has happened.

Rizzo's has closed.

Yes, Rizzo's, the pizza place.

I was about ten years old when my older sister announced at breakfast one Saturday morning, "When I was at Dory's last night for dinner, they had something different. It was called pizza pie. You get it at Rizzo's."

My mother was not an adventurous cook; she had a standard rotation menu like many of the moms in the 50's had. Her situation was made the blander by my father's refusal to let an onion or anything resembling an onion in the house. She was game to try something new. So were the rest of us. The next week we went to Rizzo's.

I think that pizza is kind of like spaghetti sauce or chocolate chip cookies -- whatever you grew up with is the definitive form. In the early years of our marriage, Joe and I lived in Navy towns in the South and college towns and other towns in the Midwest and couldn't find pizza that measured up. We'd come home for a visit and have to go to Rizzo's for a fix. My kids grew up on Rizzo's, for pete's sake.

And now it has closed. We've no idea why or whether it is permanent or temporary.

Saturday night, tired of soup for the sick, we got a hankering for pizza. Rizzo's pizza, of course. We had a vague recollection of having had some acceptable pizza at Carol's a couple of years ago and it had come from a place no further away than Rizzo's. So we drove by the old place, just to make sure it was still closed, and then went to this other place.

We should have known when we went in that it was no longer owned by the people who had delivered to Carol's that night. There were two Mexicans, two ordinary white folk, and an African-American behind the counter doing various jobs. Not an Italian in the place. We placed our usual order -- medium, half-mushroom -- and sat down to wait. In time it arrived. Acceptable crust. Rubbery cheese. Greasy. Tasteless sauce. We gave it a C- and came home.

So, unless Rizzo's miraculously reopens, we've decided that once a month we will try a different place. In the hope of finding pizza close to what we like. A daunting task.

Not So Woebegon, After All

Sitting on Top of the World

Wednesday 12 November 2008

by: Garrison Keillor, The Chicago Tribune

Be happy, dear hearts, and allow yourselves a few more weeks of quiet exultation. It isn't gloating, it's satisfaction at a job well done. He was a superb candidate, serious, professorial but with a flashing grin and a buoyancy that comes from working out in the gym every morning. He spoke in a genuine voice, not senatorial at all. He relished campaigning. He accepted adulation gracefully. He brandished his sword against his opponents without mocking or belittling them. He was elegant, unaffected, utterly American, and now (Wow) suddenly America is cool. Chicago is cool. Chicago!!!

We threw the dice and we won the jackpot and elected a black guy with a Harvard degree, the middle name Hussein and a sense of humor - he said, "I've got relatives who look like Bernie Mac, and I've got relatives who look like Margaret Thatcher." The French junior minister for human rights said, "On this morning, we all want to be American so we can take a bite of this dream unfolding before our eyes." When was the last time you heard someone from France say they wanted to be American and take a bite of something of ours? Ponder that for a moment.

The world expects us to elect pompous yahoos, and instead we have us a 47-year-old prince from the prairie who cheerfully ran the race, and when his opponents threw sand at him, he just smiled back. He'll be the first president in history to look really good making a jump shot. He loves his classy wife and his sweet little daughters. At the same time, he knows pop music, American lit and constitutional law. I just can't imagine anybody cooler.

It feels good to be cool, and all of us can share in that, even sour old right-wingers and embittered blottoheads. Next time you fly to Heathrow and hand your passport to the man with the badge, he's going to see "United States of America" and look up and grin. Even if you worship in the church of Fox, everyone you meet overseas is going to ask you about Obama, and you may as well say you voted for him because, my friends, he is your line of credit over there. No need anymore to try to look Canadian.

And the coolest thing about him is the fact that back in the early '90s, given a book contract after the hoo-ha about his becoming the First Black Editor of The Harvard Law Review, instead of writing the basic exploitation book he could've written, he put his head down and worked hard for a few years and wrote a good book, an honest one, which, since his rise in politics, has earned the Obamas enough to buy a nice house and put money in the bank. A successful American entrepreneur.

Our hero who galloped to victory has inherited a gigantic mess. The country is sunk in debt. The Treasury announced it must borrow $550 billion to get the government through the fourth quarter, more than the entire deficit for 2008, so he will have to raise taxes and not only on bankers and lumber barons. His promise never to raise the retirement age is not a good idea. Whatever he promised the Iowa farmers about subsidizing ethanol is best forgotten at this point. We may not be getting our National Health Service cards anytime soon. And so on and so on.

So enjoy the afterglow of the election awhile longer. We all walk taller this fall. People in Copenhagen and Stockholm are sending congratulatory e-mails - imagine! We are being admired by Danes and Swedes! And Chicago becomes The First City. Step aside, San Francisco. Shut up, New York. The Midwest is cool now. The mind reels. Have a good day.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Miscellaneous Thoughts on Another Sick Day

I seem to be a little bit healthier today. Just a little bit. Did not go to church this morning, did not go to the theatre this afternoon. Stayed home and lay low, much as I've been doing all week. And sewing. And reading.

The book club selection for this month is Robert Penn Warren's All The King's Men. I'm surprised I had never read it before as I feel like I've always heard of it. I found it a little bit slow starting, but then once it kicked in, I couldn't put it down. Fascinating characters, intriguing plot, and beautiful writing. Long. I'd give it an "A."

While trolling around the blogs, I visited a profile for someone who in the category of "Favorite Books" listed "Romans." I thought that was cool.

I thought again about how much I like seeing pictures of Barack Obama in his white shirt with the sleeves rolled up.

Finished putting the borders on Bill and he's folded on the stack of flimsies until I have money for the local machine quilter. Got all of the hand-dyed baskets all together and have it hanging on the wall now while I consider borders.

Finished three blocks for a charity project. Did a little tidying up of the sewing area. Drank a lot of honey and lemon which seems to help as much as anything.

And then, here's the shocker: Three friends' children are marrying this summer (not each other). Ben's quilt has been done for months. Stephanie will receive Porcelainberry. And then there is Emily. I have no idea what her taste is, but I was thinking contemporary (she's a young architect). Perhaps batik on black. Well, this afternoon I went and visited Emily's registry and saw lots of Asian influence. Her good china is a Vera Wang pattern, with Asian overtones. She's registered for sushi sets and chopsticks, too! Lots of charcoal and cream and bright green. Who'da thunk it? And then I remembered Big Jake! I wonder if he might end up being Emily's wedding gift.

Okay, time for another swig of honey-and-lemon.

Saturday, November 15, 2008


The following two consecutive news headlines were lifted from the CNN website a few moments ago.

Just had to share . . .

~~Pastor urges sex for 7 days straight

~~Who is the CNN Hero of the Year? Vote now

Friday, November 14, 2008

Amidst the Dunes

I broke down and went to the doctor this morning. Enough is enough. This crud has cost me a Wednesday evening dinner with my girlfriends, a Thursday evening orchestra concert, a Friday evening dinner with friends, and is threatening to imperil a Sunday afternoon play. Makes me sound like quite the busy and social one, I suppose. We can go weeks and weeks with nothing on the calendar and then have a week like this. I imagine it all evens out.

Doctor pronounced a bronchial infection and prescribed an antibiotic. He offered me a cough medicine with codeine but I declined; a combination of Mucinex and an Ativan have me sleeping enough. Enough! Hah! I take a 45 minute nap every afternoon, to boot! I hope I don't come to regret this refusal later tonight.

Once the prescription was filled, mindful that I cough less when I sew, I resumed Porcelainberry (not an easy word to type) and stayed on task all afternoon. One commenter thought a green border would be good and the more I thought about it, the more I agreed with her and scrapped the idea of a viny border. I'm very pleased with this quilt.

I've decided that, for sure, this will be the wedding gift for the young couple who courted at the seashore. Their love, like the berries, is something beautiful that has sprung up amidst the dunes. Sweet.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Progress on Porcelainberry

Yesterday -- or the day before -- I posted a picture of Porcelainberries, which I've only ever seen just the one time. But their beauty made a lasting impression on both Joe and me.

Since I've been sick this week with the crud, I've spent pretty much time with Porcelainberry, the Quilt (you should be able to click on the picture to make it larger). I've taken more pains with it than usual, pinning and pinning and pinning to make sure every seem was perfect. Pressing meticulously. And it has all paid off. Tonight I put the rows together and the corners on and now it is ready for the next step, the borders. I'm pleased with the way the center floats on the background triangles. I have some magenta fabric and plan to use that for a very narrow next border and then a final wider border of the same fabric used for the setting triangles.

Earlier in the week I had considered making the narrow border 1" HSTs from the magenta and the aqua, and have since thought better of it. I don't want to draw the eye away from the center of the quilt, and I believe that busy of a border would do just that.

What do you think?

Comcast Back to Normal!

I need to report that my Comcast service has been working just fine for several days now. After the previous problem ensued, as you recall, I received a prompt email from a Comcast individual who wanted to help. This led to email conversations and telephone conversations with not just Mark, but also with Elaine. Elaine could not have been more helpful, pleasant, courteous, or communicative. It took a day or so more to get the bug -- whatever it may have been -- worked out. But the service is working just fine at this point. And yesterday I received a phone call from yet a third Comcast person, who was checking to be sure everything was still fine, apologizing for the problem, and citing a major outage that had impacted more users than me.

Problems with internet service are frustrating, often driving a person to using words one normally would not consider using. But, to be fair, this latest problem was resolved relatively quickly, with thorough follow-up, and in the most pleasant way.

Which is very, very good.

Now if I could just find out who is causing my nose to malfunction, and this cough to be overexerting itself, I'd be totally fine.

Porcelainberry, The Quilt

Years ago, Joe and I went on a guided tour of the dunes near the nature center at Cape May. It was a wonderful experience and we learned so much about the various grasses and sedges that grow there. We were particularly taken with a plant called Porcelainberry; the colors were just amazing together. I was determined that someday I'd make a quilt in those colors.

I just never quite got around to it.

While I was working on the batik squares from the recent swap, Himself came by and looked at the design wall and said, quite out of the blue (or the aqua or the purple), "That reminds me of those Porcelainberries." He was right! Once the blocks were all finished, we consulted the Hancock catalog and ordered two different batiks for the side triangles and borders. They came yesterday morning.

Since I've been sick, I've found, oddly, that I don't cough nearly as much or as intensely when I'm sewing. Not a problem! Sewing, I can do! Last night I got all of the side triangles cut and the blocks stitched into rows. Tonight while Joe is at the orchestra with my cousin since I cough too much to be welcome there, I will sew the rows together and start working on the border.

Stay tuned for a view of "Porcelainberry, The Quilt."

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

By Wisdom . . .

Some time ago, I saw this quilt and thought it was marvelous. Actually, I still do think it is marvelous. I believed that someone I knew would think so, too.

So I ordered the kits -- twelve patterns with perfect fabrics already picked out. I made the first block and that certain someone saw it and was nothing short of cool in his response to it. Seems the primitive look is not his look. Which is fine. My taste is not everyone's taste.

I put it all aside and recently rediscovered it sitting patiently on the shelf in the sewing studio.

And so the kits are here, sometime later, and I know I won't finish them, much less put the completed blocks together and quilt it. I know I won't. It will end up being something that my kids discover when they are cleaning out, after I am gone. And they will have no idea at all what to do with it.

Do you think that you might want to do this project? It would be a nice gift for someone who builds houses. It would be a nice gift for, perhaps, your son and his wife as they buy their first house.

You could buy the complete set of patterns (no fabric) here for $66 plus shipping.

Or you could have mine. Complete set of twelve patterns. With fabric. One is finished. One more is cut out but nothing further than that is done.

I suspect that if you wanted to buy these patterns, you would already have done so. And now, with things being tight, if you want them, you may not be ready to put out $66. Plus shipping. Even if you have sufficient fabric in your stash to complete the blocks.

Here's the one that I finished. I used fusible webbing and hand button-hole stitch to do the applique. It was a pleasant task because I was thinking about my recipient as I worked. Each block has a Bible verse about house or home.

I'd love to trade these kits to someone who will enjoy making the project and whose intended recipient will enjoy having it. Perhaps you have some Civil War FQs that you don't have a real plan for yet. And you may want to trade ten or twelve of them for these kits. If so, let me know and they will be in the mail, heading your way, by the end of the week!

Oh, and all of those good thoughts I had for my recipient are instantly transferrable to yours!

Time for Thinking

The one thing I'll say about a sick day is that it gives a person time to think. Lying in the bed, between sleeps, trying to ignore the head and the tummy and to stay warm, thinking is a good option. Not just thinking, but reaching conclusions. I did a lot of thinking yesterday (and a lot of sleeping -- I was astounded at taking three or four separate naps throughout the day) and a little more thinking today (am improved but not totally well as yet so I am home again).

I have an ambitious project that I started back in July; it is Ruth's Quilt from "Living the Dream," and it seemed a perfect project for a wedding next summer. The young bride-to-be and her intended met at the seashore, courted at the seashore, got engaged on the beach and plan a seaside wedding. The quilt has 35 stitcheries, some of which have seashore motifs. I have a collection of blue and white seashore prints. So I plunged in. I have finished eight of the stitcheries and have not enjoyed the process. The thought of twenty-seven more of them is incapacitating. There is no joy in this project. Yesterday after nap #1 I decided to go no further. I will find a use for the few completed stitcheries and will find another project for this wedding gift quilt. I have many months.

After nap #2 I was so pleased with the results of nap #1 that I thought about a set of buttonhole applique blocks that seemed like a good idea when I got them. I've done one of them and it turned out right nice. But the intended recipient of the project says it is not to his taste. So I do not believe I will go further with these.

After nap #3 I remembered a woolly project that has languished and languished and am now very close to officially abandoning it.

Stay tuned; an upcoming blog post will offer some sort of a trade for these projects.

This morning Himself opened the door to get the paper and found that the last bag of swap blocks had come after all. We had not anticipated them arriving until tomorrow. And so after breakfast and before nap #1 of the day, I swapped them all out and put them up on the wall. By golly, they are stunning! My swappers are wonderful ladies. Truly.

Now I'm off for that there nap #1. We'll see what further thinking ensues. Thanks to all who sent good wishes; as you can see, I have found a way to make very good use of my Sick Days!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Sick Day

It doesn't happen very often. But it has happened today. I'd fought off an intense head/chest cold recently, allowing just a low-grade version to settle in. As usual, the lungs is where the real settling happens. I've been dealing with a so-so cough for a week or so. Not a horrendous cough, just a so-so one. A productive cough, as they say. Been getting nearly enough sleep and drinking the fluids.

But this morning I woke and felt yucky. The coughing was a little more impressive, but I got into the shower anyway, thinking the steam would be beneficial. Got dressed and went in for the nice breakfast Joe had fixed. And quickly realized I did not want it. I drank my juice and played with my fruit and coffee. We had a calendar meeting. That didn't help -- it added stress on top of feeling poorly. Feeling cold and tummy-achey. Called in sick and got back in bed where the symptoms were promptly joined by a headache.

Trying to keep warm, trying to rest. The one thing I did do was start a planning pad for all that is upcoming on the calendar -- I have many obligations in the next few weeks, some of them fairly complicated. Planning it all out made me feel as though it is possible to get a handle on it. But it didn't help the headache.

Going to look for a warmer blanket for the bed, one that doesn't shed little white nerdlings all over the black quilt. And then going to go get back in said bed.

Hasta luego.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Will You LOOK at What Turbo Has Done?

Well, will you?

Isn't it spectacular? Don't you love it?

She came by today to drop off her teal and chocolate stars for the swap and brought this WIP along for show and tell. I was dazzled.

And do you notice the "maverick" stars? You betcha.

Have I mentioned that I love this kid? Her mom doesn't quilt and neither do my daughters. So we kind of need each other.

Besides, she makes me feel better about my tendency to buy fabric.

Way to go, Turbo!

Friday, November 07, 2008

Marsha's Choice

Remember when this was a blog that was more often than not about quilting? Before it became focused on the election and before the recent internet problem (still not fixed, but at least there is good communication and effort on the part of the provider)? I remember. Almost.

Today when I came home I found that the postal person had delivered both of the monthly blocks I need to make for friends for November. I opened them and was immediately so smitten with the fabric Marsha had sent for her background that I went right downstairs to see what I had to coordinate. She'd asked for a light and a dark of one of the colors in the background and I had some FQs of Cherrywood (yes!) that I'd bought for a now-defunct swap and I just knew that the teals were what Marsha's background fabric wanted. The block is called Sarah's Choice, but really, you see, it is Marsha's Choice. I just love it. If I'm feeling moral and upright on Monday, I'll get it to her. If not . . . .

Marsha's Choice went together like a dream. Not so easily for Molly's block. She'd sent all of the fabric, and I found all of it to be delicious. I knew better than to count the number of pieces that her intricate block was going to require. Lots of small pieces in a relatively small block is not what I do best.

After a nice fish dinner, knowing there were two hours until Bill Moyers comes on, I decided to see what I could do. The block is finished and I really like the way the fabrics all look together. The workmanship is, honestly, the best I could do with all of those tiny pieces. I'd prolly give myself a C+ or a B- for the block. Molly's quilt is going to be very scrappy and busy, and I imagine that my block will somehow blend in and get lost among all of the others.

I hope Molly shares a picture of her quilt when it is finished.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Dear Mark Casem at Comcast,

Got a nice email a little bit ago from a Comcast representative who apparently follows my blog (Welcome, Mark! Hope you enjoy quilting and supported Senator Obama!)

Mark wrote as follows:

----- Original Message -----
From: "Mark Casem"
To: xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Sent: Wednesday, November 5, 2008 12:25:39 PM GMT -05:00 US/Canada Eastern
Subject: Comcast

Hello Nancy,

I read your post on this URL:

First, I would like to apologize for the troubles you are experiencing with our company. Please allow me to reach out to my contacts to resolve the problems you are experiencing. If it is not so much of a trouble, will you please send me the error message you are getting? This information will surely assist us in determining the problem and ultimately resolve it.

Best Regards,

Mark Casem

Comcast Corp.

National Customer Operations

While I was tickled to hear from Mr. Casem, it struck me as -- er -- interesting that he asked me to email him back, when the nature of my problem is the failure of emails to go through! Huh? I tried, though, to do what he requested. And, as I suspected, I got the error message and the email did not go out. So it seems the best way to respond is another blog post. Mark, if you are reading this, see my response below in red, and know that I hope to get back to writing about quilts by tomorrow. Thanks for your interest in my situation.

Readers, stay tuned. I'll be certain to keep you apprised!

Dear Mark Casem,

Well, there a 50-50 chance that I'll be able to actually send you the information you are asking for. The last two messages I tried to respond to wouldn't go.

The error message would not let me highlight and copy and paste, so I have hand copied each character --

msg: system failure: Messaging Exception

code: service.FAILURE

method: Send Msg Request

detail: soap:Receiver

trace: btpoo10-8652:1225907662490:07a715135cdcc51