Monday, June 29, 2009

Sooo Comfortable

While hubby's at work, I spread out my books and papers on the couch and study there in comfort. However, as comfortable as I may be, I've got nothing on this little girl.


(snapped with laptop webcam, thus the dubious quality.)

Thanks For Nothing

My career with the military ended in April. So did my pay. I'm currently attending school on long-term disability (LTD), as I was injured on the job and cannot continue my career with the military. LTD will eventually begin compensation for my lost salary while I attend school, but let me tell you, it's been a long, hard and income-less three months.

I may not draw UI during this time but am expected to meekly live on sunshine, fairy dew and my hard-earned savings while I wait for the slow wheels of government to process my paperwork. 8 to 10 weeks, they said... well, welcome to week 12. I've officially spent all my savings in order to pay my mortgage and bills and will be forced to live on my credit line until they see fit as to give me my pension. (Okay, not *all* my savings; I haven't touched my RRSP's. I saved like a miser for months in prep for this dry spell, but it shouldn't have been this long.)

This is lovely thanks for 14 years of service to my country. Love you too, guys.

PS... Let me be perfectly clear. I am VERY aware that a guaranteed income, albeit delayed, is far better than no income at all. Relative to the majority of Canadians, let alone the rest of the world, I am a lucky, lucky girl. I know this. However, it pisses me off to have paid UI premiums for decades and then be unable to use it when I need to. (Don't ask me exactly why this is. It's some special military anti-loophole.)

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Anatomy of a Quilt-As-You-Go Quilt: Part 2

So we left off with the sashing or "grout" fabric attached, front and back, to a single quilt block. Now we being the process of marrying up more blocks.


With backing side up, lay out your second block in the strip. Matching at top and bottom, lay your first block, with sashing attached, on top. Open up the bottom strip of sashing and match it's unfinished edge to that of the block on the bottom.


Pin the heck out of it.


This is super-awkward to sew, as the sashing seam from the top always wants to get in the way, but with a finger guiding it and a little bit of persistence, you should be able to accpmplish something pretty close to 1/4 inch seam.


This is the magic moment, when you unfold your project and realize what you have. Here's the innards of the join, where your two 1/4 inch seams should snuggle up against each other sweetly. (Some quilters sew along this seam with a zig-zag stitch, though I never have. This zig-zag would, of course, show on the bottom though not the top.)


This is the folded sashing from the top, brought over to show you how sweetly this seam finishes off.


This is a view of the bottom of the quilt, where the unfolded sashing has now joined the two squares. Only one more step remains...


A pretty decorative stitch, if you please, or even a careful seam along the sashing, one or two threads from the edge, to secure the folded sashing in place along the quilt top. As this quilt is a crazy quilt, a decorative stitch suited the project just fine.


Repeat, and repeat, and repeat... make strips of quilt that will in turn be joined with the same techniques! Borders, if desired, can be attached this way too.

Happy quilting!

Monday, June 22, 2009

My Second-Day-of-Summer Garden

As little time as I have had this spring, I still have a lovely garden going full-swing, with an amazing assortment of flowers, vegetables and herbs. I consider it my therapy... when staring at a laptop for hours gets me down, I go and weed or water or simply admire my lovelies.



My sweet peas are reaching for the sky! I can't wait for their heavenly scent.



Happy little cherry tomato plants.


Peas and beans and chives, oh my!


Clematis. Don't you think that a flower this lovely should have a name that doesn't make everyone think of a venereal disease?




Snowy, showy lilacs... these don't get full sun so they're much later then the lilacs elsewhere. Suits me fine.



The veggie and herb garden, featuring rapini, kale, chard, dill, basil, thyme, radishes, carrots, cilantro, beets, peppers, cucumber, tarragon and more. Square-foot gardening is amazing!


Momma's pride and joy: 120 some garlic plants, Siberian Red and Fireball. Wooot! Fresh scapes for supper sometime this week! (My gal pal Lisa and I always hit the Carp Garlic Festival hard; last year I bought $70 in garlic so I never again have to eat the relatively tasteless crap you get in the stores. This year, I've taken another approach to solving the problem... though I'll still be going to the festival!)


Not sure what it is, aside from durned pretty. :)

He Gets Me

Things have been a little dodgy with my husband and I for a week or so. I, as usual, opened my over-sized mouth and uttered a comment or three that should have remained unspoken... he, as usual, got all distant, quiet and broody while maintaining that everything was just fine.

We spent a quiet weekend together, eyeing each other warily from across rooms. Saturday night, after a busy day, we went for a long walk together, and in the isolation of the still night air of the last day of spring, poured out our hearts to one another in the messy, slightly confrontational, yet healing way that we have discovered solves our blockages of communication. We (gently, somehow) stomp, posture, accuse, and eventually come around to understand each other... and more importantly, we become ready to admit that we understand each other.

My last thread of rebellion and stubborness melted when he took my face in his hands, looked deep in my eyes, and said, "I get you, you know."

And he does. All my quirks, complications, baggage, moods and foibles. He gets me.

Somehow, this is bigger than the fact that he loves me. It is possible to love someone without understanding them... but infinitely better and more meaningful when someone sees you in all your imperfections, understands you better then you do yourself at times, and still loves you.

I am truly blessed to have him in my life.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Anatomy of a Quilt-As-You-Go Quilt: Part 1

Not long ago, you saw me with just a huge pile of individually-quilted squares. They're lovely, but how, you may well ask, do I transform the many into the whole?

Wonder no more. Below is a quick pictorial to walk you through the "quilt as you go" technique. For further information, may I recommend "Reversible Quilts" or "More Reversible Quilts" by Sharon Pederson; also "Crazy Shortcut Quilts" is a good reference.

This is your starting point. (The books will give instruction on how to get to this point... this is by no means a comprehensive guide but a nudge in the right direction if you're puzzled as to how this whole thing works.)


You'll be making many strips of your sashing material (sashing is the "grout" between the "tiles" of the quilt that pulls the whole thing together.) One strip will be wider and folded in half; the second strip will be narrower and unfolded. Exact measurements of these strips vary from project to project, and from author to author; in this instance I am using strips 1 1/8 and 1 3/4 " wide.


The two different strips must always occupy the same place; if you begin with the wide on the top, stick with it throughout the quilt. Choose (I generally prefer the folded strip on the top, but this is almost completely arbitrary) and line up the strips with the edge of your first block. The unfolded strip will be placed right-side towards the quilt block; the folded strip will have its raw edges on the outside.



Pin this sucker down like there's no tomorrow. Be sure to catch all the layers, while maintaining that lovely straight edge.


Now, throw your 1/4" quilting foot on, and sew through all those layers.



Trim the sashing even with the top and bottom of the quilt block.


This post is a little picture-heavy, so I'll leave off here; watch for Part 2 soon.

A Post-Script about Fedora

...To be fair, let me also state that I'm using Fedora Live, with a 2Gb USB key as the boot drive. I am pretty sure that Fedora installed onto a fixed system disc would be less hinky. As well, as my prof says with a giddy grin on his face, Fedora is the Linux for Linux geeks... so it may well not be the most straight-forward version of Linux out there.

Back to your regularly scheduled Sunday, and I'll get back to my shell scripting. Carry on! :)

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Not Tipping My Hat to Fedora

I've been using Windows Vista on my laptop for just about a year now. It's freakin' beautiful, and does everything that I need it to do. No issues worth mentioning, and certainly no crashes.

I've been using Linux (Fedora 10) for 6 weeks; since the beginning of the second semester. So far, it's had a cataclysmic crash four times. That's pretty much once a week, and that's crashed-so-bad-you-need-to-format-your-hard-drive crashed. Gone, baby... gone. It even wishes you "good luck" as it drools in a corner, its little mind gone, your command and control reduced to a black screen with a prompt from which you can do absolutely NOTHING.

But in the world of the geek, they worship Linux. I don't get it. Actually, I hate, detest and loathe Linux with a fiery passion and shall never use it of my own volition unless I am seeking to self-destruct an otherwise perfectly running system.

I am not qualified to talk Apple, not having the small personal fortune required to buy one, but I hear they're pretty nice. I lust one, and maybe when I'm a private software consultant, I shall indulge... but for now, I adore my Gateway laptop, the Vista that is installed upon it, and its supreme reliability.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Westfest: Saturday Night

First off, in amelioration of anything I'm about to say here, Westfest is a free event. No cover charge for anything. Free anything is good. Free entertainment is fantastic.

The caliber of last night's entertainment was largely very good. The Ladies of the Canyon were enjoyable if obscure, and Lynne Hanson's bluegrass-y set got everyone moving. It was country night, after all.

Which kind of begs the question why the between-show pieces were so truly out of character, and in one instance, downright horrible. A pair of DJ's kept the music going before and after the Ladies, but it was techno-house music... a genre that I enjoy but considering the fact that most of the crowd was there to see Prairie Oyster, it seemed an odd choice. As well, if quickly became obvious that they were behind schedule on the performances, yet kept up the DJ'ing for what seemed like an hour.

Worse was yet to come, in the shape of a "media artist" called Bear Witness. For about ten minutes, we were subjected to his version of art: scenes sampled from "cowboy and Indian" movies, highly graphically processed, and accompanied by odd sounds and more thumping techno. Afterwords, my husband looked at me, wide- eyed and bewildered, and commented "Well, there's ten minutes of my life I'll never get back." The entire crowd was embarrassed for the so-called artist, who came out on stage following his piece and made an awkward bow.

In all honesty, I suspect the only thing which got his foot in the door at all was the fact that he is Native, and therefore everything he does is automatically better than any non-Native "artist". I think we've gone too far in political correctness, here, my friends... and if art smells and looks like shit then we should call it so, no matter if it's created by a Native or not. The Emperor has no clothes, but we're all gagged by our (government's?) society's need to kowtow to the poor set-upon aboriginals to call it as we see it. Enough already.

Okay. Rant over.

Finally, 45 minutes late, Prairie Oyster came on. Long story short, due to noise by-laws they had to cut their set-list to shreds as they still had to have the concert over at 11, no matter what time they started at. They were disappointed as was the crowd; although the two other country acts were okay, we sure as hell didn't come to see them, let alone some whacked-out "media artist" and a couple of DJ's.

The concert, what little of it was left, was awesome. Russell DeCarl has still got it goin' on after all these years.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Going Out Tonight

I'm determined to get out and about the city this summer... there's always something interesting going on, but I often let the fact that I have to drive 20 minutes to get there deter me. Not tonight! I've decreed a family outing... we're going to see Prairie Oyster at WestFest.

They got me hooked on country music, many years ago (20-ish!) at a concert at Point Roberts, WA. I'm excited to see them again.

Also on this summer's schedule is Blue Rodeo at BluesFest, and biking on the Alcatel-Lucent Family bikedays. Don't know why we haven't done this before but darn it, we will this year.

Friday, June 12, 2009

The New Look

Gosh, you've never known fun until you get to change the font colour of 250 old blog posts by hand.

There was no way that I could find to batch change them, but I really wanted to lose that orange font, so here we are. (To my readers in Google Reader etc, who have been suffering with that orange font for years... sorry 'bout that.)

So. What do you think? It's a little less cozy, I think, but new homes always feel a little odd at first. I'll just put the finishing touches on this place (and finish changing my earliest 100-odd posts) and things will be pretty good.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

I've Been Accused Of Worse

I felt a little sexy this morning when I was dressing for school, and dressed accordingly; eye-popping tulle and satin top in a colour somewhere between fuschia and purple, a short flirty black skirt, fishnet tights and knee-high boots. It said "dancing at a club" clearer then it said "going to class", but what the hell. Attitude is half the battle, thought I, as I stuck out my boobs and put on the 'tude necessary to carry that outfit off.

On the way downstairs I opened the door to my eldest step-daughter's room to make sure she was on track for the morning. Her eyes got all wide as she saw me, and she breathed "Whooooooa! You look like a fairy!"

I was a little miffed at first... I had hardly wanted to channel Tinkerbell with my outfit, but then, later, as I recounted the story to my friends at school, they helped me to understood what she meant. Fairies... some of 'em, are damned hot. I'm okay with being grouped in with them now. :)


Sunday, June 7, 2009

Finally Pictures

I finally got around to getting the pics off my camera, so here are some things I've meant to show you.

First off, a super-fun afternoon project: a quilted pencil-case. The fabric is left-over from the quilt I made for my niece.



The inside, in a coordinating fabric.

A close-up of the quilting.

My cat had a visitor come calling this week.



We live deep in the 'burbs. The developer's equivalent of strip-mining took place before the houses were plopped down, so the wildlife that used to live here was pushed out or killed. This chipmunk is the first I've seen in two years... nature slowly adapting and creeping back to the land we took.
(PS... Liz has since informed me that this was a red squirrel, not a chipmunk, and that this is even better. :) )

Next... a juicy pendant that Velda sent me for my birthday...


She knows I'm crazy about orange! It was a perfect gift... thank you. :)

The Citrus Poppyseed cake I made yesterday. It's a truly decadent cake, with gobs of butter, sugar and eggs; but it's such an infrequent treat (once a year!) that I can make and eat it guilt-free. Almost. :)



Martha Stewart, I ain't... I couldn't smooth out that icing for the life of me, but since it was being eaten amongst family, I didn't sweat it. It tastes wonderful, despite the crappy decorating job.

I need to return to these...


so farewell for now!

Friday, June 5, 2009

38 Things I Love

In celebration of my... *coughcough* 29th birthday, I present a list of simple things that make me happy.
  1. When the perfect song for the moment comes up on random play on my MP3 player.
  2. Warm, sunny days.
  3. Shoes that look great yet I could still walk all day in them.
  4. Snuggles from my cat Mina, who could easily be mistaken for a total bitch otherwise.
  5. When the government calls and says, hey, we've made a mistake and actually owe you thousands of dollars. (this happened this week.)
  6. Gnocchi with basil pesto, chopped tomatoes, roasted pine-nuts and gobs of feta.
  7. Green tea, brewed so strongly that it seems to strip the first couple of layers off my throat.
  8. Floaty clothing in strong colours. (You oughta see me today.)
  9. The colour orange makes me supremely happy.
  10. Friends who rock at buying gifts for you, and know what you'd love, even if you don't.
  11. Sitting in the back garden with a drink and chatting with friends.
  12. Eating fresh herbs straight from the garden.
  13. The smell of sweet peas wafting through the house on a hot summer day.
  14. Foot-rubs from my husband as we watch TV together.
  15. Brushing my kitties and making them fall over in ecstasy.
  16. Hugs. I need more huggy friends.
  17. Being perfectly on time for the bus in the morning.
  18. President's Choice caramels with sea salt. I am a junkie.
  19. Chocolate gelato eaten straight from the container.
  20. Working so hard to understand a problem in school, and then finally figuring it out.
  21. Total physical exhaustion following a work out.
  22. Also, hurting like crazy the day after a work-out... but hurting in the way that tells you the workout was effective and that one day, your abs will rock.
  23. Raspberry vodka.
  24. The perfect dance, where neither of us needs to work too hard to think about what needs to happen; our bodies just take over and we go along for the ride.
  25. Random connections with strangers; I wish I was brave enough to make more of them.
  26. Friends who will go (sometimes thousands of kilometers) out of their way to spend time with you. This also happened this week. Thank you, Neal.
  27. Friends who are so close that you realize they're more like family. Again, thank you, Neal. That's why I hugged your son. If you are family, so is he. Hope he wasn't all weirded out by it.
  28. Time alone, to eat cereal and toast for supper for a week and not bother to get dressed if I don't have to.
  29. Totally not looking my age.
  30. Fresh pineapple juice.
  31. Spending hours in the sewing room, losing myself in the zen of creating beauty.
  32. Giving *the perfect gift* to someone, especially if I've made it.
  33. Lavender linen spray on crisp, fresh sheets.
  34. When I get let off of kitchen duty by my husband to let me do homework. That, friends, is love in action. :)
  35. Having a maid. There are far more important things to do with my life then to make sure my shelves are free of dust.
  36. Being in a state of anticipation. For example, being very hungry but able to smell the food as it is being prepared, or turning a package over and over in your hands before you open it. The anticipation of an event is (almost) always better than the event itself... I enjoy dwelling there.
  37. When men look admiringly after me as I walk by, and women who are strangers to me smile and tell me I'm foxy. That was this week, too.
  38. Finishing an exam and knowing in my core that I aced it.
I hope your day is full of the things that *you* love... I'm off to bake a Citrus Poppyseed Cake from the Rebar cookbook.