Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Snow Day, Near Philadelphia

The school where I work made the announcement last night, around ten o'clock. Closed because of the [anticipated] huge snowfall. I was happy if only because not having to get up at 6:20 made it feasible for us to watch another episode of Doc Martin, our current Netflix craze.

Woke up at a decadent 8:17 this morning and found Facebook aflame with disgruntled posts. The 14"-24" that we'd all been prepped for hadn't materialized. Himself thinks there is a base of about 5" where we are; drifting makes precision difficult.

Anyway, back to the FB groans. "The weatherman who cried blizzard" was one theme; another was complete castigation of the storm itself: "She's a flirtatious tease!" "Liar!"

I don't know about the rest of the world, but Near Philadelphia, whenever a Major Weather Event is announced, locals rush to the nearest grocery store and purchase white bread, milk, and eggs. Many add toilet paper to the list of essentials. It's the kind of thing we know is strange and silly, do it anyway, and poke fun at ourselves.

Again: "Where's my blizzard?" Apparently the public schools had a two-hour delay, the second worst nightmare of school employees (the worst being early dismissal because of bad weather). And yet again: "Liar! Liar!" Which prompted me to opine that a forecast is not synonymous with a promise.

As we broke the eggs and judiciously added the milk, I reported all of this to my Beloved (who has a FB account but is not addicted) and we reminisced about a neighbor 46 years ago when we lived in enlisted housing on the Navy Base. When the family moved in, my husband introduced himself in Navy fashion: "I'm an Illustrator/Draftsman." "Oh," replied the new guy across the sidewalk, "I'm a weather guesser."

I got out the syrup (his preferred topping) and the powdered sugar (mine). Himself had been pondering the "promise" remark and observed, "There's a continuum: Guess -- Prediction -- Forecast -- Promise." I thought him to be brilliant and served up the bacon.

That picture above is from the internet. Our french toast is all eaten.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Senor Salsa, At Last!

The rule at our house is that any time I work a twenty-four hour shift at the hospital, Himself either cooks our dinner or we go out. For months we've been tantalized by the "opening soon" promise of a Mexican place across the street from the hospital. Last night we paid it a visit. It was mobbed. Here is my experience; your mileage may vary.

  • They can't help the size of the parking lot. It was tiny when the space was "Timber." Heck, it was tiny when it was the Innflight. It's still tiny. We squeezed into the last space. It was about six o'clock of a Sunday night.
  • Once inside, again the tininess. No waiting area to speak of, small bar, and hostess on the far side of the "vestibule." A cashier's stand just inside the door appears to have no function.
  • The decor is charming. Very Mexican throughout.
  • I had a "raspberry" margarita. Strong on raspberry, weak on margarita, and lots and LOTS of ice. I won't get that again. 
  • We were told we'd have a twenty-minute wait; I don't think it was that long.
  • They've attempted to put about six too many tables in the place. It is very, very crowded and cramped. And noisy, too.
  • We were barely seated when our waiter arrived with chips and salsa. I requested a small guacamole which he brought quickly. He appeared to be a genuine Mexican person, as did most of the staff. Added credibility. He didn't call us "guys," always a plus in my book.
  • The menu is extensive. It goes on for pages and pages. Neither of us knows much about Mexican food; we just know we like it if it isn't too spicy. We both ordered the Combo where you get to pick two items from a list and they come with rice and with beans, both of which are important to us. I chose a tamal (no e) and a chicken quesadilla. Himself had a soft taco and a burrito. 
  • The food arrived very quickly but, as is so often the case, we were cautioned about the hot plates, a sure sign of extensive microwave use. Oddly, the table next to us, a party of 6, had been seated and placed their order before we sat down, and their food was just arriving as we were getting up to leave. So the service may be spotty.
  • The chips were good. The salsa was not freshly made but seemed to have come from a jar. It wasn't real spicy (another plus). The guacamole was okay; it was on the bland side. Jalapeños would have been unwelcome, but it may have needed some lemon juice or some other seasoning. The tamal was delicious. The rice was tasty but odd; it felt to me like Minute Rice dressed in a sombrero. (Speaking of sombreros, two nearby tables were celebrating birthdays and the victim was crowned with an immense sombrero during the mercifully brief song.) The beans were nice. I can't tell you how the quesadilla was because I didn't touch it. There was a staff person wandering around, offering take-home boxes. Himself liked his soft taco and his burrito. One of us will have my quesadilla for lunch today.
  • The dessert menu was enticing. I would love to have tried the tres leches cake and I know my dear companion might well have enjoyed the fried ice cream. But we were stuffed. Full. 
  • The service was fine; no problems there, guys. The din kind of got to us after a bit. 
  • The value was outstanding, and this is important since it is going to be a hospital employee spot. These folks need prompt service and low prices. Señor Salsa provided both for us. Not including the strange margarita and Himself's Corona, the bill for the two of us was $30.61. I'm a cheap date.
  • We grabbed the last two mints at the defunct cashier counter on the way out. They were great.
Will we return? Probably not for dinner any time soon. Truth be told, once we were seated we felt just a wee bit hurried. And really cramped. The noise was too much for us old people; twenty-somethings on a Friday might find it perfect. It might be a place to have lunch with girlfriends; I'd be glad to give that a try.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

In Which My Studio Becomes a Foxhole

I like to think that I don't have to jump on every single quilting bandwagon that comes across the internet. I generally don't want to make what everyone else seems to be making. Usually, if anything, I'm late to the party -- having decided to get involved with a particular popular pattern, block, or technique well after most people have moved on.

But every once in a while . . . .

Or perhaps I'm behind once again. I made my first Fancy Fox block yesterday, followed in rapid succession by nineteen more. The pattern is by Elizabeth Hartman and I bought two of it last month -- one to keep and one to give.  The pattern comes in two forms: via snail mail or downloadable pdf. The instructions are clear. The illustrations are full color, explicit, and plentiful. I'm so smitten with the foxes that I went ahead and bought Elizabeth's Hazel Hedgehog pattern, too. You can buy the patterns directly from Elizabeth or from a bunch of other on-line sources. Use your Google.

The foxes are addictive. With the current baby boom in my extended world, I'm making baby quilts. The first set of twenty is made from a layer cake I had from before I took the pledge, and fabrics are perfect and gender neutral. Already I've cut strips for a "boy" version and a "girl" version.

And then it will be on to the hedgehogs!

Oh, and I solemnly swear that Elizabeth Hartman has paid me no money, fabric, patterns or other compensation of any kind. Heck, she doesn't even know I'm writing this

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Forecast: Babies and Winter Weather!

I seem to have difficulty finding time to blog these days. Working fewer hours in a given week than I used to, I am spending more time sewing, baking, and -- when the weather is decent -- walking. More time reading, too.

My daughter uses me as a baby boutique; when she needs a gift, I provide her with a quilt. Apparently there's a baby boom going on in her world at present. There is a minor one going on in my own world, too. So baby quilts have been the order of the day. 

The blue/green one is nothing more than 2-1/2" squares of batik strips sewn together to make 16-patch blocks and then alternating them with black-or-navy dots on white (you may have to click to enlarge and see the dots). I like it. Seems to have a "boy" feel to it.

This other one is made from the Mazed quilt pattern, using 3" squares of Kaffe Collective and some spectacular chicken wire fabric I found during Gene's last stupendous sale.

Now I'm ready to make a fox quilt and am excited to try it. 

And today's mail brought the white-dot-on-black fabric that I had ordered for my sunny churn-dash bee blocks. So let the Winter Weather Alert play itself out -- I've got plenty to keep me busy!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Not Much

Not much to report from Near Philadelphia. Let's see what I can rustle up:

  • I did find a new foot doctor who not only didn't keep me waiting, but actually cared for my toenails without being asked to do so after he had dealt with my presenting problem. He's a keeper.
  • Someone has asked me to help with a secret quilting project. I was honored to have been asked but haven't made a lot of progress. I'm hoping to do that this weekend.
  • We're heading into the Birthday Season, where we have five in the space of two weeks. Six, if you count Joe's remote sister.
  • The second round of Lady of the Lake blocks is due in another week; mine are about half finished.
  • There are three pregnant teachers at the school where I work. And you know what that means. Considering possibilities. First one is in progress.
  • Had a period of panic when I realized my Fitbit hadn't synced in six weeks; an on-line "chat" resolved the problem and my lost steps are all recovered.
  • And I didn't find a hat. 

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Walking Fingers

Well, I have all of those wonderful red/yellow/orange and black-on-white churn dash blocks that I received as Queen Bee back in November. And recently I figured out how I wanted to set them. Wonky. I'd picked up some white-on-black dots, three yards worth, I think, and had this stashed away with the blocks.

This morning the Renegades gathered for a sewing day. Wanting a fairly mindless project because I always get distracted by the gossip conversation, I decided that making the wide borders for these blocks would be just the thing. I made one as a test and then applied my 12-1/2" ruler on a wonky angle, and determined that 3-3/4" borders on the 9-1/2" blocks would work. So I cut a bunch of strips and began applying borders. All too soon it became apparent that I didn't have anywhere near enough fabric. The method I'm using produces a bit of waste, but Turbo will gather up those scraps and turn them into magic, so I'm not too worried about that.

When I came home I got to thinking about the old Yellow Pages commercials and ads that implored one to "Let your fingers do the walking!"  So I jotted down the selvedge info and then put Google and Pinterest to work for me. Rather than making a written list of sources and prices, I just Pinned any location that had what I needed for under $10/yard. Fabric.com had it for what seemed the lowest price until I got to a place in Indiana that listed my fabric for $8.25/yard. Hancocks is also in the running. On Monday, when the shops are likely to be open, I'll make my first phone call to Indiana and see if they have five yards; if not, Hancocks will be my place. So easy.

Monday, January 05, 2015

Medical Office Delays

About fifteen years ago I changed doctors. It wasn't that I didn't like the doctor I'd been seeing for more than ten years. I liked her a lot. But there was always a wait -- a long wait -- in the office. One day, after a stint in the waiting room, I was taken into the examining room where I was told to undress and put on a paper gown. I did. There was no chair, so I perched on the end of the examining table and waited. My back got tired. The room was chilly. The paper gown was skimpy. After thirty minutes, I got dressed again and told the front desk that 30 minutes was too long to sit nearly naked on the end of an examining table. I found a new doctor and like her even better.

Today I had a flashback to that scene. I'd made an appointment for treatment of a minor foot issue. The podiatrist was someone I've known for a long time. He's treated minor foot issues for me before, and always given me good advice. And, besides, I used to work for him, transcribing his chart notes and his letters.

I got to my appointment on time. A little bit early because of my paranoia about being late and inconveniencing someone. After an hour and a half in the waiting room, with no communication and no explanation, and watching four people who had arrived after I had be taken back for treatment, I decided to leave. I told the front desk I'd been waiting for an hour and a half and no one had said offered me any explanation -- there's been an emergency, for example -- and four subsequent arrivals had gone back. Then the girl kind of half-heartedly offered to find out what was going on, but I declined, telling her that if I had been the one who was an hour and a half late, Dr. A wouldn't be eager to see me. I pointed out that there are lots of other foot doctors. And I came home and started dinner. We're going to have the best-mixed meatloaf ever tonight.

Sunday, January 04, 2015

A Very Small Wedding

I met my friend when he came to work at the Quaker school a good many years ago. Before he arrived for his interview, we looked at his resume and marveled that he had three middle names! He was born in England, where this is apparently not uncommon.

A single dude, young enough to be my son, he is very bright and very funny. Very sensitive, too, and very caring. We hit it off from the get-go and I'll never forget how tight he hugged me when I told him I was losing my job. We never talked about it one-on-one, but a coworker told me he'd sworn he'd never marry.

I've let go of most of my colleagues from the school. In those early weeks/months it was just too painful to hear school gossip. But I didn't let go of this guy, the one I consulted on haircuts, the one I called "my boyfriend."

Summer before last, about five months after I'd left the school, we met for lunch. He confided that he'd met someone. Someone special. And it was going well. He actually said that he'd never felt this way before. I was surprised. And hopeful.

I kept hearing about her. It was lasting a very long time for him. So this past summer I invited him to dinner. And told him to bring her. We had a fun evening -- me, my husband, my boyfriend, and his girlfriend -- and a couple of weeks later I boldly messaged him: "She's a keeper. When are you going to put a ring on her?" To my delight the reply was "Later this fall. But she doesn't know it yet."

In Pennsylvania, due to the Quaker influence, people can marry themselves without having to have an officiant. Just a couple of witnesses.

The wedding was last night. There were eleven of us -- the happy couple, the "better man," the maid of honor, their spouses and collective three adorable children, and Joe and me -- gathered in the rain under a gazebo behind the Art Museum. She in her silver lace dress looking like a calm and elegant princess, and he in the first white shirt and tie I've ever seen him wear.

They'd asked if I would lead them as they made their vows; nearly speechless with surprise, I accepted before they could come to their senses, and quickly offered Joe's services as photographer. It all took about ten minutes and then after a couple of posed photos, we all hustled off to a wonderful Italian restaurant for pasta and lots of red wine. It was one of the happiest evenings we've had in ages and ages, and we've talked about it all day.

They like William Morris and earth tones. I think I nailed it.

God bless Niall and Sue.

Saturday, January 03, 2015

Packing My Suitcase -- With Help

I woke up happy.

I'd had a dream. A happy dream.

In my dream, I was packing my suitcase for some sort of a trip. Someone showed up by my side and when I looked, it was Gina, the little girl I am so very fond of from the school where I work.

Gina watched me pack and when I looked again, she had some sort of a very small suitcase, and said, "Let's play Going To Florida!" and she began to put things into her suitcase, things like acorns, small teacups, bright rubber bands, a bracelet, and other little junkuses that a child would treasure. She was smiling and happy. Her joy was contagious. So I woke up happy.

Friday, January 02, 2015

A Quilt for Miss A

My darling granddaughter Aberdeen has moved to a "junior bed." If this baffles you as it did me when I first learned the concept, what it means is that her crib has been converted -- lowered and the side rail removed -- so she can get in and out. When her brother made his move, I provided a new quilt, of course. So I thought I would do the same for Miss A.

More years ago than I can remember, my sistah Jan and I swapped widdle biddy bwocks, i.e., 4-1/2" finished. They were made from 30s repos on white and we each made a pair of identical blocks and swapped. The yield was fondled and admired for a long time and finally made into a top and the machinist worked her magic on it for me just before Christmas. I delivered it this past week on our trip south and Miss A seemed pleased; her parents, even more so.