Monday, November 30, 2009

Done With The Daftness!

When Rise coaxed me into joining her in the daft madness of promising to post every day for thirty days I was dubious. I fell by the wayside last time I tried; rebelled against the "must" of it all, dug in my heels and quit. Around here there's shame in quitting, but I stubbornly believe that, sometimes, it's the only sane thing to do. Or maybe the only sanity-saving thing to do. There's vanity involved you see. Can't have people reading drivel and knowing it was written by me! I scraped through this time, and there was drivel involved, vanity notwithstanding. I couldn't let her down a second time!

I think the idea behind Nablopomo is to discipline yourself to write every day, which is commonplace writing advice. If you only write when you have a brilliant idea you'll be writing very little. The hope might also be that all that discipline and daily writing will make you a better writer. Hmmmmm! I'm not seeing the improvement. Maybe we need to stay at it for another month Rise? No! No! I'm joking!

I have loved hearing from the Blister every day. I'll miss that. I hope that she'll continue with at least a post per week, which is about my own blogging comfort level. Thank all of you loyal supporters who encouraged me with comments, even when you had to get really creative to do so!

And now to the "leaba" --- sounds like "labba" --- Irish for bed, though Rise would have you think it was "scratcher!" I might even dream a little---but not about anything so daft as a post every day!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Fairies and Little Folk

I was blog hopping earlier today and came across this Fairy Name Generator at the bottom of a tangled garden in Smitonius and Sonata's neighbourhood. If you play along you can discover what kind of fairy you are. At this stage [one more day of Nablopomo--yeah!]I'm scraping the very bottom of the barrel. And we are big believers in the Little People where I come from anyway.........

"Your fairy is called Columbine Rainbowfilter
She is a fortune bringer.
She lives in mushroom fields and quiet meadows.
She is only seen on midsummer's eve.
She wears lilac and purple like columbine flowers. She has multicoloured wings like a butterfly."

I was a tomboy as a child, so never felt at all fairy-like! But since growing up I have embraced my inner fairy! I love rainbows and columbine flowers and the colours lilac and purple. And, as a fairy, I would feel very much at home in mushroom fields and quiet meadows. The wings might take a little getting used to.......

This all put me in mind of "Little Folk." My daft Auntie Bid worked for a while as a nurse/companion to an elderly English lady. This lady gave her a thick hardcover book one time, to give to me, her niece. I was about ten or twelve I think, and I absolutely loved that book! It wasn't really a book, but rather a collection of a year's worth of the "Little Folk" magazine, carefully bound together by someone who had loved the magazine as much as I now did. There were stories, and poems, and lovely old-fashioned illustrations and line drawings. It was challenging to read the serialized stories, as the magazines had not been bound together in logical order. But the hunt for the next installment was part of the fun for me.

Then our annual school bazaar day approached, where the nuns tried to raise money for the missions. We were all expected to bring in donations of things to be sold. I didn't have a lot of "stuff." A few dolls, my ancient teddy bear, some books, and the Little Folk treasury. I must have had a weak moment, or been really desperate for something to contribute, but I gave it to the nuns for the bazaar! Someone that day found a treasure for a few pennies, and I mourned my loss and my stupidity for years!

But it occurred to me today that it is possible that someone reading this might be familiar with that long ago magazine. If you are, this rainbowfilter fairy would love to hear about it!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Patty Cake, Patty Cake, Baker's Man...........

Some time ago,I read about an easy cake recipe on someone's blog. All you had to do, she said, was mix a chocolate cake mix with a sixteen ounce can of pumpkin. Pumpkin is an acquired taste, in my opinion. One that I never acquired. Give me pecan or give me death! Nevertheless, I made a mental note to try it....sometime....then promptly forgot about it.

Since the GOCSD [Great OC Slim Down] began earlier this week, I'm not trying to make cake or brownies or anything that will make him veer off course. But tonight I had to make an exception.

Tonight the Bean's GF was coming over. She turned twenty one today. He had planned a fancy dinner for her, but cake had not entered his head. To me, cake and birthdays go hand in hand, so, with the sand in the hourglass relentlessly falling, grain by grain, I cast about for a cake to make that would be both fast and wonderful. And then I remembered the magic pumpkin cake. No eggs, no oil, no butter; nothing but a chocolate cake mix and a can of pumpkin. The blogger who wrote about it claimed it was so good she could have eaten the whole thing.....Hmmmmm....we would see!

It felt pretty chalky mixing it together, but eventually all the dry mix was moistened by the pumpkin. It didn't seem right to put no eggs in, but no eggs were called for so I put no eggs in. Into the pan it went and then to the oven.

Half an hour later we had a cake for the birthday girl, which was the object of the exercise. It looked like a cake. It tasted chocolatey. It was edible. Mercifully, you could not taste the pumpkin. Served with a large helping of vanilla ice cream, and blackberry sauce, it filled the bill..... But I wouldn't be tempted to eat the whole thing. There'll be no encores. It was an interesting experiment.......but, next time I'll stick to the tried and trues!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Great Book For A Lazy Day

There are a few days in the year when I do not cook. The day after Thanksgiving is one of them, so it's a good thing there were leftovers today, or people might have starved.

Lily gave me a book to bring home, "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo," by Stieg Larsson. As soon as the coffee was made this morning, I betook myself to the couch and settled in for the day. It's the kind of book you can lose yourself in. The weather co-operated, cold and colder, with a need for sweaters and scarves, slippers and blankets, and a good supply of hot tea piped to the couch at regular, hourly intervals. We don't get too much of that kind of prime curling-up-on-the-couch-with-a-great-book kind of weather, so we have to make the best of it when we do! There was the minor annoyance of trips to the loo, but other than that, I spent the day luxuriously immersed in my book. The menfolk even had the good grace to take themselves off to the golf course!

I can't tell you what happens since I'm only two thirds through, but I can tell you it's a riveting read. I'm between a rock and a hard place: I want to know how it ends, but I don't want it to end! But at least, when I do come to the end, I have the comfort of knowing there are two more books by Larsson out there. If you have room on your To Be Read List, add this! But first, make sure there are lots of leftovers at hand, so you won't have to be wrenched away for something so mundane as cooking, and feeding the natives, just when it's getting really good!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Pumpkin Pie With a Dollop of Doggerel

Rise wrote some clever verse tonight, so, not to be outdone [though if you keep reading you will see that I was outdone!] I had to give it a try. Nothing more scintillating was rattling around in my turkey dulled brain..............

My hair is wild,
My eyes are bleary,
Don't know when I've been so weary
Thirty days of endless toil,
Digging deep in desert soil
Connecting to my inner child.

No sterling insights here you'll find;
The child's rebelling,
Tantrums swelling,
Brain is rusty,
Temper's crusty
Fed up with the daily grind.

Longing for the way things were:
A blog a week
With time to tweak,
No pressure put on
To push the button
'Til the goods were there.

You get the idea. No need to torture you further! J.Cosmo Newbery and Riseoutofme have nothing to fear. But after reading Rise's post tonight I had to try. Apologies. I had no idea it would be so dire!

Merriam-Webster's word of the day today was " Scrumptious!" Very appropriate, as everything was indeed "delightful, excellent, and especially delicious!" Hope it was likewise for all of you here in the U.S.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

Here's the finished mystery knitting from earlier in the week! Are you kicking yourself? It wasn't so difficult to see, now was it? And that piece of furniture? You keep it by the chair where you knit and keep your yarn in the bowl part, which being rounded and smooth, allows the yarn to unwind easily as needed. So there !

All across this vast country tonight people are preparing turkeys for their Thanksgiving feast. Ours is in a bucket of apple brine in the garage. An OC discovery that roasts outside on the barbeque grill, it is the most delicious way ever to cook a turkey! An added plus, since it cooks outside, is that it frees the oven for sweet potatoes, green bean casseroles, corn bread, pies and stuffing.

Pumpkin and pecan pies are cooling on the counter; cole slaw is all shredded and mixed and chilling in the fridge; the Bean is planning to make homemade cranberry sauce in the morning. Chicken liver stuffing, a la mother-in-law [whom we'll be missing], remains to be made, along with gravy and rolls.

But what about my pilgrims? Scattered to the four corners. Thanksgiving always stirs mixed feelings in me. It's a lovely idea and television always rubs it in, showing multi generational families gathering 'round a groaning table. But the airlines are working to make sure that this is a pipe dream for many. Thanksgiving is the most expensive time of year to fly. We will make phone calls tomorrow and content ourselves with hearing their voices......Then we will sit at our not so crowded table and be grateful for our many blessings; for health and home and employment; for education and transportation; for music and books and fabric and yarn and friends; for freedom to say and think and feel without fear; and most of all for the blessings of each other, those present and those not. And I will say my own silent, fervent prayer that those who cannot be here will be safe and loved and among friends, and know that I miss them sorely and will always love them.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Under Suspicion.....

When my green card expired at the end of the summer I muddled around for a bit. Got taken to the cleaners by one official-sounding site, after which, greatly chastened, I found the official site of the U.S.Citizenship and Immigration Services and duly submitted my application, along with the hefty fee.

Several weeks passed. Then, one day in the mail, instructions arrived for the next step in the process. I was to proceed, on a certain day, to the Immigration offices, one and a half hours south of where I live. On the appointed day, I drove there, mapquest printout clutched in my sweaty palm, making sure to arrive in plenty of time for my appointment, so as to avoid the dire consequences of "failing to appear."

I was docile and obedient and filled out their silly forms with information I had given them a hundred times before; sat, without causing a disturbance, until my name was called; allowed the fingerprinting technician to repeatedly roll my fingers back and forth on his state-of-the-art equipment; looked straight ahead, as instructed, while my picture was taken. I was very well behaved. Nobody observing me would have attributed to me any criminal tendencies.

Less than a week later, the Immigration Service informed me by mail that the FBI was unable to process my fingerprints. Oh joy.

"It will be necessary," they said, "to have your fingerprints retaken."

They assured me that this would be accomplished at no additional expense to me. Except of course my time, and the considerable distance to be traveled, since fingerprints taken at the local police station would not be acceptable. [Though why the hell not is beyond my feeble ability to understand!] Still, considering the consequences that would ensue should I fail to appear--"Your application will be considered abandoned and denied," I thought it best to show up.

One month after the first appointment, I motored again to the Immigration offices and had my fingerprints retaken. Chatting to the technician and joking about how we might be having a date every month, since I didn't anticipate that my fingerprints would look any different this month than they had last, he told me that it is not uncommon for the fingerprints to be unreadable. Criminals sometimes sandpaper their fingers to render the prints unidentifiable!

I have lived here for thirty nine years and have always watched my Ps and Qs. And now, in the twilight of my unremarkable existence, I am under suspicion, because my fingerprints are not acceptable to the US Government?

And the retaken prints? Also unreadable. No rocket scientist had to put in overtime to predict that!

Yesterday's mail brought more communication from the US Citizenship and Immigration Services [working hand in hand with Homeland Security, the same people who require us to remove our shoes before being allowed to board a plane to anywhere!]

I am now instructed to submit, in lieu of my unclassifiable fingerprints, "law enforcement clearance letters from every place you have lived during the last ten years........for the purpose of conducting a criminal background check."

Wait! There's more! I must accomplish this within 87 days. ??!!%&#! Or they will

1)send me back to Ireland in disgrace for having such criminal-looking fingerprints?

2)Arrest me and lock me up with the rest of society's misbehavers?

I know these are tough economic times. I know the government wants to provide employment. But they surely don't have to get idiotic about it. I am insulted! It's enough to make me turn to a life of crime.

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Great OC Slimdown Begins

Long ago, when we were barely twenty, the OC and I had summer jobs at Kennedy Airport. I had become friendly with his sister, and, irony of ironies, was introduced to the OC by their father, who, when we wanted to get married a few years later, raised the loudest howls of protest. The OC had just returned from a stint at ROTC summer camp in Alabama. On our first date we went to the beach. He was lean and muscular from all the physical training he'd been through at camp, tanned by the Alabama sun, and very handsome because he was born that way. That was thirty nine years ago.

Now he is no longer lean. His waistline has thickened considerably in the last five years. He used to run marathons; he still rides a bike, once in a while, but not often enough; he lifts weights occasionally; he plays golf most weekends. But none of this budges the thickness from his middle.

So, whisper, whisper, Rise and I plotted how we could intervene to halt the spread of the spread. Rise is the family fitness guru. Lean as a racehorse, she teaches fitness and swimming to persons of all ages, genders and girths. She herself runs regularly, hikes and bikes, and trots daily, back and forth to the palace. She declared that, for the OC to be restored to the physical splendor of his youth, he should walk. Fast. Every day.

The OC was not impressed. Walking was for sissies; for old ladies; for children and wives; too tame an activity for a manly man. Besides, wouldn't it be much more fun if a new machine were required, something expensive, and intimidating, some kind of treadmill perhaps?

But why, the voice of reason asked, spend a lot of money on something that would take up lots of space, require regular cleaning and maintenance, [not to mention causing brain cells to die from the boredom of trudging along in the same place, never getting anywhere,] when you could operate your own machinery, shank's mare, and achieve the same, or better, results, for free?

We were dismissively pooh-poohed.

And then we went to visit Lily. Lily, who remembers forced family fun outings from her youth. When Pater Familias would drag us all, the willing and the unwilling, to the track, or the soccer fields, or on a long bike ride. Every weekend it was something. She added her voice to the clamor for walking. He tried to pooh-pooh her, but she wasn't having any of it. She took him on a forced march one evening, just the two of them. And, despite our superior wisdom and years of experience, who do you think prevailed upon him to do what he needs to do? Not Rise, his sage and learned sister-in-law; not me, his loyal wife of thirty nine years, but the young, determined whippersnapper, his daughter! Not that he succumbed right away or did anything to give her the least idea she had succeeded. Face, at all costs, must be saved. It was only this morning, that he suggested we go to the track at the end of the work day and walk two laps.


And so it came to pass. We went to the track. We walked two laps. Fast. Then we walked another. We didn't die. But we did huff and puff. Proving that walking, fast, is not for sissies, but a good way to lose unwanted, unnecessary and unhealthy poundage. This miracle could not be achieved by mere mortals. It required daughter intervention. Daughters have magical powers over old curmudgeons. Powers to move them to do what they should, even when everyone else fails. Thank God for daughters, I say!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Riddle Me Ree

The week with Lily & Company flew by and now we are home. So, tired and hoarse [but on the mend!] and with the clue bag on empty, all I have for you tonight is a guessing game.

This is something Lily inherited from her husband's grandmother. I had never seen such a thing before, but having seen it, I think it's an ingenious invention. I don't know whether it was intended for the use the granny, and now Lily, put it to, but it is perfect for the purpose! Can you guess what it is? If you can see over the edge of the bowl, you might get a hint...

Since I knew that Lily has a great variety of leftover yarn from her knitting projects, I brought a pattern I've had since the seventies along when I went to visit! I didn't get it finished, but this is what it looks like so far.......

Care to hazard a guess? I'll post a picture of the finished article later in the week. Meanwhile, it's off to bed with me. And as lovely as it was to see Lily and Crew, I won't need forty blankets, nor a hot water bottle! There's no place like home, especially when the temperature is in the seventies!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

No Axe Murderers Turned Up....

.....and the only casualties were some leaves.

When Lily told M where we were going on Thursday night, he was incredulous.

"Your mom has a date with someone she met on the internet?"

Lots of ribbing, but, nothing daunted, off we went to meet Jen. who'd been warned about but was not deterred by "The Bug." We'd told her we were both tall, one with dark curly hair, the other with white. She'd told us she was short with straight blond hair.

No searching was necessary as, when we walked into the restaurant, the first person who caught my eye was a short blond, looking straight at us with a big smile. It's uncanny, but I almost felt I recognized her. Is it possible to form an accurate mental picture of someone from reading their blog?

Over a delicious dinner we talked non stop for close to two hours! Jen was so friendly and easy to talk to. We talked about families, blogging, her teaching, and how her husband was worried and warned her, as she left the house, to keep her phone at the ready, in case we turned out not to be a blogger and her daughter! Jen's blog is accurately named; she is very upbeat and positive, someone you'd be delighted to have as your child's teacher.

Especially for Thimbleanna, to carry on her tradition of "Wilson" photos at blog meets, we took a picture. Not very flattering to either of us, but we'll offer it up for our sins!

This is the kind of caper that convinces the OC his wife has bats in her belfry. But it was so much fun! I'd do it again in a heartbeat. The chances of meeting an axe murderer are fairly slim. You're much more likely to make a new friend, since you already, sort-of, know each other from blogging. If you like the way the blogger writes, chances are good you'll also like the blogger. We were glad Jen's husband let her take the risk!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Signs of Fall In Ohio.....

Golden leaves,

And kids playing ball.....

Thursday, November 19, 2009

From The Mouths Of Babes.....

While Lily and I went to meet Jen tonight, M took care of feeding and watering the munchkins. The littlest enjoyed the dinner his mom had made so much that he remarked to M

"That was a yumster dinner Dad! Maybe if I pray to God she'll make it again?"

Getting them to eat and pray? That recipe needs to be bookmarked with five stars!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Tea With Lemon, Bread With Memories

Somehow I seem to have adopted an Ohio bug. Or it has adopted me....Probably sees me as a cheap trip to Florida! Scratchy throat, cough, general blahs. Lily has acquired another hat, to add to her varied collection: a nurse's hat. Not by choice, but because of my exuisite timing. Who wouldn't think that the best time to be playing host to unwelcome germs is when you are around young children...? Tea and lemon, humidifier in my room, cough drops, more tea, more lemon, and, not necessarily part of the nursing treatment, but so comforting when you're feeling under the weather---Irish Soda Bread!

I followed my nose into the kitchen to investigate the divine aroma emanating therefrom, and there it was, on the counter, a delicious, round loaf of soda bread! Transporting me back to my mother's kitchen. My mother though, would not let us have any until it was thoroughly cooled---some nonsense about it turning to stone in our stomachs!

Lily and I slathered it with butter and jam and dug right in. Yum! Even the little boys liked it. When I make it at home, my boys are less than enthusiastic, citing increased flatulence as their main objection. The devil can be fastidious when it suits him! The one son, who likes soda bread as much as his mother and sister, no longer lives at home. He it was who renamed one recipe for Oaten Farls [a variation on Irish soda bread,] Farten Oals.....Oh, the hilarity we had over that one. But I am not one to give up easily. I will try Liz's recipe on the fastidious ones when I get home.

In case you'd like to try it, here's the recipe. You can make it with all white flour, or half white, half whole wheat, as Lily does. The raisins are optional, but in my books, they only serve to increase the "Yum" factor!
I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

Yield: Makes 1 loaf


Nonstick vegetable oil spray
2 cups all purpose flour
5 tablespoons sugar, divided
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3 tablespoons butter, chilled, cut into cubes
1 cup buttermilk
2/3 cup raisins


Preheat oven to 375°F. Spray 8-inch-diameter cake pan with nonstick spray. Whisk flour, 4 tablespoons sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda in large bowl to blend. Add butter. Using fingertips, rub in until coarse meal forms. Make well in center of flour mixture. Add buttermilk. Gradually stir dry ingredients into milk to blend. Mix in raisins.

Using floured hands, shape dough into ball. Transfer to prepared pan and flatten slightly (dough will not come to edges of pan). Sprinkle dough with remaining 1 tablespoon sugar.

Bake bread until brown and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Cool bread in pan 10 minutes. Transfer to rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Originally from the magazine "Bon Appetit." So, Bon appetit!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Remind Me To Have My Hearing Checked

Lily needed to do some grocery shopping yesterday. She waited until after both munchkins were home from school. Is she nuts? I wondered. Why would you go shopping with two young children, when you could easily do the shopping while they were in school?

"They love to go grocery shopping with me," she said with an enigmatic smile!

Once in the grocery store we didn't head down the aisles right away. We went to the Eagles' Nest. Aha! Now I understood! The Eagles' Nest is an enclosed supervised play area, where children can play safely while their mothers shop in peace. They didn't give us so much as a backward glance! When we were finished and came to get them, they were in no hurry to rejoin us, enthralled as they were, sitting side by side playing a game.

As we walked to the car, Lily tried to curb their exuberance enough to keep them from getting run over. After they had both come to heel, one holding on to each side of the grocery cart, she asked

"What do we need to do boys?"

"Listen!" lisped the five year old.

"Exactly!" said their mom, "and what else do we need to do?"

"Kick ass!" I thought the 6 1/2 year old said.

My eyes widened as I looked at Lily for confirmation.

"Did he say what I think he said?"

"What do you think he said?"

"Kick ass?"

She nearly fell over laughing.

"Mom! He said 'Get Gas!'

"Oh," I said, relieved.

So we drove to the gas station and "got gas."

What Molly doesn't want you to know

Guest Blogger, Lily, Molly's eldest and an unrepentant delinquent blogger...

Molly is a perfectionist blogger... a bad fit, in other words, for this nah-mo-blo-poo. She likes to take time over her words, saving a draft, revisiting it days later, tweaking it just right with a well-placed picture. I blame myself really, I introduced her to blogging, then abandoned her to it as life got nuts and kids stopped napping and the house demanded ripping apart and putting back together.

But Molly loves to write, to communicate, to connect. So she loves blogging, but blogging everyday drives Molly to what she considers drivel. She feels compelled to tell you a story, convinced that you do not wish to hear the mundane details of her ordinary life. Could you possibly care what she ate for breakfast, what errands she ran, how many cups of tea consumed, how many times she missed the kitty and shuddered at the screeching of young boys?

But maybe these are just the things you're wondering about Molly, just the details you need to complete the picture.

Today Molly ate Oat Bran cereal for breakfast -- she may or may not have added dried fruit... I was jogging the 1st grader down the road when she ate it. After breakfast she checked email and I dragged her cross town to Home Depot -- we bought blinds for my kitchen -- then to the fabric store where we bought fabric for a curtain I've commissioned. Didn't really eat lunch, but had a cup of tea and some Honey Pecan Tart (yum). The rest of the day was a blur of child pick ups and trips to the grocery and ended in a dinner of chicken taco soup which she claimed to enjoy.

Also, she uses sensodyne toothpaste. And now you know. Good night.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Wherein I do Not Quit, Thanks To Pauline.

Rise and I have been floundering....a post a day for thirty days? Were we out of our minds? And then I read a comment from Pauline, who has loyally encouraged us along the way, regardless of what we wrote [and whether or not it was worth reading!] Yesterday Rise hit a low point and Pauline had this to say:

" A post is a post is a post - inspiration is often highly overrated. Just write your day, or your thoughts about your day, or what you wish your day might have been. Or do as you have done, post your weariness. Life is life, Rise, and you have risen to the occasion!"

She is so right. Thanks Pauline! You said it to Rise, but I was paying attention too!

It was an early start to the airport yesterday, but The Bean, having come back from school the night before, gamely dragged himself from the scratcher [Rise's word], and off we went to the airport, cat-less.

The OC, spending as much time in the sky as he does, travels light, with only his carry-on. But people, we're headed to Ohio, in November, brrrrr! So he was a man about it and said nothing at my definitely-not-carry-on-size suitcase. Even checked his own, since, what the heck, we were going to have to wait at baggage claim anyway. It's taken me years, but I think I'm taming him.....

I trotted along meekly, not having to think, since The Thinker had it all in hand. Trot to baggage claim, trot to car rental....and then we were there! Pulling into Lily's drive way! And here she comes, a vision of loveliness, in her jeans and her pretty green sweater, and I have to pinch myself, as I always do, at the fact that we gave birth to this wonder. Proof indeed that "They come through you but not from you." There were munchkins too, skittering just out of reach, to avoid the danger of being hugged! And football throwing and Grandad wrestling and oh, I love the new paint job in your kitchen! and what are you knitting and what are you reading, and Oh! Joy! The Buckeyes won!

And dinner at Giusseppe's and ice cream at Graeter's and heads bumping and howls resulting, and hugs, but only from Mommy, and peace restored and all finally, exhausted, to bed!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Cat Dreams....

I had been suspicious for the last few days. I can always tell when people are plotting to leave me. The vibrations change. My worst fears were confirmed last night when the suitcases were hoisted onto the bed....Oh-oh! I knew it. They were about to abandon me!

There's only one way to deal with this kind of situation......climb into the suitcase. How cruel and heartless could they be? All they have to do is stuff their clothing, and other bits and bobs in on top of me, zip it up, and away with us to the airport. It's a well known fact that I'm happiest in small, dark, confined places. No problem there.

Of course, there might be complications at security, especially if I were to let out an accidental "meow!". Or express my pleasure at being taken along by purring extra loudly. Has bribery gone completely out of style? Because I'm sure a nice crisp twenty, passed to the guy inspecting the carry-ons, would enable him to forget he ever saw a cat shaped object on the screen......

Oh well. A cat can dream. They unceremoniously shooed me out of the bag, blew me a kiss, and without the slightest bit of shame, got into the car and off to the airport. Without me. Unconscionable, I call it.

But I do have My Boy all to myself for the weekend. Well, almost. I'll probably have to share him with the girl friend. Sigh. And he is going to come back and forth from school next week, between classes, instead of staying down there, so I suppose, sniff, it could be worse.

But, some day, my dreams will come true. Before I die, I intend to find out what it's like to fly through the air, to Columbus, in a suitcase. Pray it will happen before I'm too old to enjoy the trip!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Foto Friday

Wouldn't you rather be a ladybug?

No bad hair days;

Sunday best, every day;

Aphids for supper....always;

Washed down with a drop of dew;

A green curl of leaf for a bed;

A petal for a blanket;

The warmth of the sunshine;

And raindrops to cool you;

Don't like the company?

Fly away home!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Looking For Meaning In All The Write Places

"Good writing is always about things that are important to you, things that are scary to you, things that eat you up. But the writing is a way of not allowing those things to destroy you." John Edgar Wideman

Family; relationships; friendships;

the meaning of life; the ancestors from whom we came;

the grandchildren who will come after us, for whom we need to protect the environment;

the uniqueness, individuality and diversity that make the world such an intoxicating, maddening, crazy, scary, exciting place.

Nothing comes properly into focus until I write it down. It's a way of decoding the world, of making sense of the nonsense, of bringing order to the chaos, of not allowing life to eat me up.

One essential requirement for coherent writing is sleep; sleep that "knits up the raveled sleeve of care." Since NaBloPoMo began, I've been burning the midnight oil. There are bags under my eyes; yawns in my throat; ants in my pants and meaningless jangling in my brain. Early to bed tonight, perchance to dream of brilliant things to write, or creative excuses not to..... on the morrow. Goodnight!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Unclaimed Treasures

The first one I read was "A Long, Long Way." I loved it. It was a sad story, but the writing was amazing. When anyone asks me to recommend a good read I tell them

"Anything by Sebastian Barry."

He writes about a time in Ireland that was already gone, or slipping fast away, when I was born. I caught the last wisps of it and it left a lasting impression. I often think I would have been more at home in that time, that I should have been born fifty years earlier; when people got around in a horse and trap; when there was no TV and no need of it as people talked to each other, played cards and visited their neighbours. Of course, I'd be a hundred now, or gone myself.

Rise gave me "The Sacred Scripture" for my birthday. And once again I was off, preaching the gospel according to Sebastian B. She laughed when I told her the ending took me completely by surprise. She's a canny one that; had it all figured out before she got there.

Then a friend, to whom I had lent "The Sacred Scripture," lent me "The Whereabouts of Eneas McNulty." And after I had devoured that I got "Annie Dunne" from the library.

From the first page, it swept me away to the hills of Wicklow, to the small farm where Annie Dunne and her cousin, Sarah, were living out their old maid lives in quiet desperation. It made me think of Auntie Bid, my very sensible mother's free spirited sister. Who was daft about a man who ditched her for another, broke her heart, and made her crazy.

[She's on the right in the picture and that's Dee on the left]

When I was born, Auntie Bid came to stay, and minded me while my mother went back to work as a nurse. Years later, when my uncle's wife started having babies out on the farm, and another one came every year, like clockwork, Auntie Bid had herself a full time job.

But we saw her regularly. Once a month she'd come in from the country, armed with her infamous List. She'd sit and have a cup of tea with my mother, then whisk me off to town to search out all the items on The List. She was exhilarating company. She was cheery and happy, always ready with a smile or a joke. Half way through the list we'd give up, and hie us to the Dainty Dairy for coffee and marzipan cakes. This, I thought, is living!

She was known like a bad ha'penny at the drivers' testing office in town. She took the test at least once a year, scared the daylights out of the examiner, failed miserably, but, nothing daunted, went home determined to practice and do better next time. She never did pass the test.

After I got married and moved so far away, she wrote to me regularly, and loved to be sent photos of her grandnieces and nephews.

Turns out the happy smiles and cheeriness were not enough to get her through. She fell into depression, and while living on the farm would refuse to take the medicine that kept her on an even keel. So now she lives in a nursing home. The cousins come and bring her home to the farm on Sunday afternoons. Last time I met her she didn't recognize me. She, who used to bounce me on her knee, and change me, and push me around in a pram. Bewildered beyond belief that she's still here when all of her generation are gone.

Annie Dunne says
"We will survive in the creak of a broken gate, the whistle of a bird, the perpetual folding and unfolding of the blossom of my crab apple tree, a thousand little scraps of crinoline fiercely crushed and fiercely released. Like the spider, although we will decay, something of us ever after will remain."

Auntie Bid may be fading away, but I have her smile and her carefree spirit locked up in my memory just as surely as Sebastian Barry has Annie captured between the pages of his book. Unclaimed treasures both, with so much love to give.

Want something good to read? Go read Annie Dunne. Or anything at all by Sebastian Barry.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Quilts In The Gardens,2009

It started as an impulsive idea, hatched by one of our quilt guild members and some members of the local garden club.

"Let's have a quilt show in the gardens!"

And so we did. That was last year. It was a howling success. So, guess what we did again this year? Exactly! We had another.

The day was beautiful.

It started out misty, with a 20% chance of rain.

If it had rained there would have been chaos. Picture a gaggle of women, some of whom have not sprinted anywhere in a very long time, frantically grabbing more than a hundred quilts and sprinting for cover!

But the sun saved the day.

Hanging quilts in a garden setting is magical.

The curves and leaves of trees and bushes set off the lines and patterns and colours of the quilts to perfection.

This quilt was made by my friend N,of Pioneer Days fame, who also makes a mean cranberry coffee cake!

This year we had a boutique of hand crafted items, a Chinese auction, and a beautiful red work quilt to raffle, all of which raised about $1500.

But center stage were all the beautiful quilts, like this one, called "Nice Earrings!"

And this red work wall hanging of the twelve days of Christmas.

I love the folded edges that make the curves in this piece ---

And the eye popping colour in this one ---

There are three times as many more. But I have to go to bed! I guess you'll just have to come and see for yourself next year!

Monday, November 09, 2009

Not The One About The Man And The Horse

It's 10:15 p.m. I've been sitting on the couch, variously watching TV, falling asleep, and trying to work up enough enthusiasm to pull another rabbit out of the NaBloPoMo hat. I sat down after supper, intending to regale you with a funny story about a man and a horse that the OC told me at lunch today. I know I've said this is not that kind of blog.....but after yesterday, I'm kind of on a roll......

But first I checked my e-mail and found a message from Rise. Without a funny title. It just said "Dee." Oh-oh. I felt a tiny flutter of panic. Dee is our aunt; our father's younger sister. We were both close to her through the years, each in our own way. She didn't have children of her own, so always took a great interest in us.....

Rise's message said that Dee had broken her hip and was in the hospital and things were not looking good. She wrote about it today and wanted to warn me before I read it on her blog.

Suddenly I lost interest in writing about the man and the horse. Suddenly I didn't want to write about anything at all. Suddenly I missed all the people who have died: my parents; my uncles; my grandparents, some of whom had the bad judgement to die before I was even born; my mother-in-law; and a friend, my own age, who died earlier this year. And not a one of them has sent me a postcard! So what was all that lovely stuff the nuns filled our heads with about heaven? How we'd all have wings and halos and a big party to welcome each new loved one who bit the dust? And yet not a glimmer of communication from beyond to give us hope? How come I have this bleak feeling that that may be all there is.....Dust? No party, no big reunion? Just dust. "As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end."

Two aunts are all that's left from our parents' generation. Dee is one of them. The other is our Auntie Bid, our mother's younger sister,[thus dubbed when I couldn't get my childish tongue around Bridget] who is still alive, but seriously bewildered.


It's not the dying I object to; it's the inexorable fading away.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Dudes, Getting Their Freak On.....

The OC stuck his head out the front door. I looked up from my book in the corner of the porch......

"Want to go for a walk?"

"Sure!" I said, delighted. He likes extreme exercise: golfing 'til he falls down from exhaustion; biking 'til he smashes his head; doing push-ups 'til I think I'll be calling an ambulance. None of which I enjoy. So a walk? You bet.

"OK. Off you go!" Cackle, cackle.

We found a hiking trail we hadn't been on before. Not a spot of great beauty, but typical Central Florida terrain; scattered long leaf pines, dense, scrubby brush, sugar sand underfoot, roughly parallel to the river.

Blue sky, fresh breeze, no other hikers in sight.

But what's this? You mean we're not alone out here?

"Raccoons," says the OC.

And this? What creature left such a delicately inscribed calling card?

A snake? No. Maybe a lizard? No. Here's the answer!

But we have no idea what it is. I think it looks as though a large bug is giving a piggyback ride to a smaller version of itself, most likely its offspring. The OC thinks that might be a caterpiller on its back.... Once we've seen one we start seeing them everywhere. And each one has a "passenger." Isn't nature marvelous! The OC just grunts. Not given to paroxysms of wonder and delight.

Hence the title Altus Curmudgeonus.

Back home I show my photos to The Bean to see if he can put a name on that interesting bug.

I zoom in on a couple of the pics so he can see the detail. I tell him how it seemed to me the mother bug was carrying her offspring........

"No, Mom. That's the mother alright, but that's not her offspring! That's the male...Dude's getting his freak on.....!"

Apparently, this is common in the insect world. Large women. Diminutive males. Intent on "getting their freak on." In broad daylight. In the middle of the afternoon.......Who knew?

Oh well. You could call this the first post I've written for the blog category I'm not in.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Oh Pioneers! Where's The Coffee?

For a Saturday, the alarm clock rang way too early.


Why was I in the shower before I'd even had a cup of coffee?

Why were we out of coffee? This morning, of all mornings? When I could have used the kick.

Why was N clanging on the doorbell, jangling on my raw, caffeine-deprived nerves, when she should have been at home sleeping?

Oh, yes. In a moment of insanity, we had volunteered to help with the quilting demonstration at Pioneer Days. Or rather, I volunteered us. I pointed out to N that she could have said no. But she has to be browbeaten into participating; she has a heart of gold and loves to help, but she dithers so much she makes me look decisive. So I have to bully her. She loves it.

She stands there wringing her hands, afraid she has woken the snoring ones.

"I tried knocking," she laments, "but you didn't answer! I was worried you might still be sleeping!" N worries a lot about stuff worrying isn't going to change.

"Shhhh! I'll be out in a jif!"

We wend our way across town, through the slowly waking world, to the nature center in the fields and woods where the Pioneer Days event is taking place.

We park and head towards the main clearing. Lots of modern pick-up trucks. But the people climbing out of them could be Amish, or stepping out of the past. There are bearded, aging hippies and women in long, calico dresses, Little House On The Prairie-style. The sun is climbing higher, and friendly "good mornings" ring out across the clearing.

We're wide awake now and glad we came. We join the other volunteers and prepare our display. We hang little quilts around our space and set out our little "quilt sandwiches" on our tables so children [and grownups] can try their hands at quilting. We thread a good supply of needles with colourful thread. We're ready when people start wandering in.

Children flock to the quilting demo.It's something they can take in their hands and DO. Even boys, some of whom are just as good, sometimes better than the girls! There are only six of us, so we're kept busy teaching, guiding, threading, untangling, rethreading, busy, busy. But we each get a chance to look around outside during a short lunch break.

These baskets are made by the lady in the picture:

Preparing apples for the apple cider press:

Weaving made from Spanish moss;

Some of Laura's friends:

Pine needle weaving:

Suzuki musicians......

Beeswax candles.....

Broom making........

Broom trimming......

Budding quilters......

Pioneer days shuttle.......

By four o'clock we were packing up, ready to leave.

N was moving slowly, tired and disoriented; in desperate need of a restorative cuppa. And worried now about how we'll find her car.

"Follow me," I command. And plunge into an opening in the bushes. She's tottering along, twenty feet behind me, not picking up speed.

"Oh Lord," she groans, "She's leading me into snake territory!"

"Have I ever been known to lead you into trouble, N?"

There's a derisive snort from behind. But she follows obediently . She knows that somebody knows where they're going, and it isn't her.

We emerge from the brush ten feet from her car.

Home James, and don't spare the horses!

Friday, November 06, 2009

Friday Foto

Taken by The Bean, whose hands are steadier.....

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Please Stay On The Line

My children always got a kick out of telling other kids that their mom was an alien. How many kids can make a claim like that? My green card expired recently so, to ensure that the U.S. government wouldn't kick me back to where I came from, I went online to renew it. Long story short, I got taken. To the tune of several hundred dollars. Now here's something new my kids can tell the other kids---their mom is a pigeon.

I'd been so proud of myself too for figuring it out. Pride does indeed come just before a fall.

It wasn't until I received the application in the mail telling me to submit my application fee, along with the completed forms, that I became suspicious. What application fee, I asked myself? Isn't that what I just sent these people? Since I wasn't getting any intelligent answers, I called them. I spoke to a supervisor; yes, I still had to pay the application fee to the government; and no, the fee I had paid was for their services. I told him that I thought his company was running a shady business; profiting from people who turn into pigeons in their anxiety to do it right. He became hostile and curtly told me that I could fax a refund request to this number. Then he hung up.

I duly faxed my refund request. I followed it up over the next week with several phone calls. There was all kinds of dissembling: the person in charge of refunds was out of the office, could I call back later; my name, phone number and the nature of my problem [I didn't tell them that my main problem was idiocy!]were taken and promises made to call me back in an hour. Which, no prizes for guessing, did not happen; something had been sent to me yesterday, she was not sure what. Nothing ever came in the mail........

Once again I called the correct Government office. Explained my tale of woe. He listened, asked some questions and gave me a number to call for reporting immigration fraud and abuse.

And that's when the fun began.

A cheerful, recorded female voice welcomed me.

"Thank you for calling! We value your call and the opportunity to serve you. Please hold and we will assist you in just a moment."

I waited patiently.

The moment turned into several minutes. Just as I was getting fidgety, the smiling voice returned.

"Thank you for calling! Your patience is appreciated. Please stay on the line and we
will be right with you.

Marginally mollified, I settled in to wait, again.

Ten minutes later, the patience that they appreciated so much was wearing thin. The soothing music piping into my agitated ear was failing to soothe me.

Possibly anticipating that I'm about to start hopping around in futile rage, a different voice came down the line. A deep and reassuring male voice.

"Thank you for calling. Your call and your business are very important to us. Please continue to hold. We will assist you in just a moment."

Having already dealt with thieves, I've now moved on to liars! If my call was so important to them they would have answered it already! I'm starting to understand why the government has a problem with terrorists. I have now been on hold for fifty minutes. That's enough to incite a person to murder and mayhem. Normally I wouldn't have the patience to hold for so long. Normally I'd have given up in disgust after fifteen minutes. But, if I do that now, I'll just have to endure the whole rigmarole again, later.

The music stops. "At last!" I think. I'll finally connect to a human being, rather than infuriatingly cheerful recordings telling me how important my call is. But, it is not to be. The pianist employed to placate me is merely taking a breather before embarking on a whole new musical selection. The cheerful female voice comes on again, assuring me that someone will assist me momentarily.

As I am sputtering and cursing under my breath, a live voice comes on the line. Temporarily disconcerted, I almost forget why I'm calling. A few pleasantries about the long wait, and my delight that it is over. Then I explain my problem to the gentleman on the other end. I'm giving him the benefit of the doubt in assuming he is a gentleman, even though a gentleman would not have kept me waiting for so long. Possibly, the long wait was not his fault.

He listens as I explain how I was taken. He is probably smirking. Probably sighing and thinking "There's one born every minute!" I wonder how many pigeons like me he hears from every day.

He tells me I need to speak to someone at such-and-such an office.

I pause; take a deep breath to steady the nerves and keep the voice level.

"They told me to call you," I say.

"Oh," he says.

We have come full circle

"Sigh." He will see what he can do.

I hang up with the distinct impression that I have just wasted the last few hours of my life and will never see that money again.

That was two months ago. The silence has been deafening.

But now the government has received my application [and the several hundred dollar fee] and is "processing" it. Since government bodies move slowly, I'm not holding my breath. But at least the FBI won't be on my doorstep tomorrow with deportation papers!

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

They Quilt In Ireland?

I swung by The Irish Shop the other day while out on my rounds.

"I'm on a tea run!" I sung out to Ellen, the little lady who owns it. Ellen is not going to get rich from my patronage of her store. I pay my respects regularly to the ring I love, but realistically, I'm probably never going to buy it. Still, she can depend on me to be in, once a month, for a box of Barry's tea. And with a little luck, I might be tempted by some other little trinket from The Ould Sod!

"I have something to show you," Ellen said, taking my arm and steering me to the front corner of the store, where she keeps her books, CDs, calenders and such. Like a magician pulling a rabbit from a hat, she brandished a large, shiny magazine under my astonished nose, beaming up at me from every inch of her five foot height. She knew she'd scored a coup!

I was delighted! I'd been looking for a copy, any copy, since I'd been home last spring. The first issue had sold out the week before I arrived. Back in the States, I continued to search. Every time I was in a bookstore, I checked. No luck. Every time I was in a quilt shop, I checked. No luck. I asked Ellen if there was any chance she'd be getting it in. She sounded doubtful. But now her suppliers had sent her a few copies. Of course I bought it, though I gagged at the price! Ellen was happy. I was happy.

That evening I curled up on the couch for a read. So, how is it, you want to know? My impression is that it is geared very much towards the beginning quilter. Nothing too strenuous. But all presented and packaged beautifully. The patterns all seemed easy and basic. Me, I like to be challenged! But they did look very appealing in the photos, made up in beautiful fabrics and photographed in my favourite country in the world. I fell in love with this sweet little red work pattern, by an Australian designer.

I'm sure I'll be stitching it soon.

Towards the back of the magazine was an article about quilting blogs. That got my attention. Especially when one of the blogs mentioned was Micki's.....

Micki comes by here once in a while! Small world.

And lastly, I have to send Rise on a mission. Your mission, Rise, should you decide to accept it, is to find the Limerick Quilting Center and report back to me! I'll be here, waiting, sipping away at my cup of Barry's. From my favourite mug, of course!

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

You Can Tell It's Mine: It's Got My Name On It

I wouldn't give you tuppence for those fancy handbags, and expensive knock-offs of fancy handbags, that are so popular these days. But one must needs have something to haul the crap around in. My sister-in-law, who is much more sophisticated and stylish than me, favours leather, grown-up-lady bags. Lily leans towards understated elegance. Rise lists towards Bohemian. Some quilting friends make their own, and have a different one for every day of the week. Which would never work for me. It's dangerous to transfer stuff, more than once a decade, from one receptacle to another. Something essential will drop through the cracks and put me in a panic.

There is one company whose handbags make me drool, but they cost considerably more than I deem reasonable for something the French call a sac. Some time ago, on the lookout for a new bag, because the one I had was disintegrating, I found one I loved at my favourite discount store, made by the company in question. For a pittance. Because it was last year's design. Well, I was designed back in the middle of the last century, and I still work just fine, so that didn't bother me. Call me an old fossil. I know what I like. Maybe it was my childhood calling to me, but this bag reminded me of schoolbags we carried our books to school in, or the messenger bag Paddy the Post delivered the letters in, back when the earth was young. It was soft and khaki-coloured. And roomy. Roomy is important, because of all the "stuff." This one even had room enough for my camera. How many times had I wished I had room in my purse to carry my camera! So I bought it. And carefully transferred all the bits and bobs to the many pockets and pouches of their new home.

Weeks passed. One day I came in from running errands, plonked my bag down on a stool in the kitchen, and put the kettle on for tea. Smelling the possibility of a cuppa, the OC wandered out from his office. Saw my purse lying on the stool, and without missing a beat said "Oh, I see you even have your name on this new bag of yours!"

He was a court jester in a former life.

Monday, November 02, 2009

A Funny Thing Happened On tHe Way To NaBloPoMo

Technology is not my forte. I love words. I love to write. I also like to drive. Cars and computers---wonderful inventions, but if nothing happens when I turn the key, or push the button, I have to get out my bicycle, or search for that bottle of ink I know is around here somewhere. I know nothing about the inner workings of Blogger. I write, I tweak, then I push the magic button. Period.

So when I signed up for NaBloPoMo this year, I was surprised at how easy it was. So easy it I made me uneasy, and I wondered if I'd actually succeeded. The next day I went to the site to see if I was on the blogroll. I started scrolling through the lists: crafts, humour, parenting, psychotic ranting[!!], politics, religion, etc.

To my surprise, there was a category for "s*x." Only two people listed there. Which was no surprise.....You'd have to be nuts! One of the two was "Molly." Hmmm. So, I'm not the only Molly in Blogland. Fancy categorizing your blog thusly! She must be some hot mama! I continued scrolling and came to "general." And found "Molly," and clicked, and sure enough, it was me. So, it really was that simple. Idiot proof.

But curiosity made me go back to investigate that other Molly. Imagine my horror when I clicked and up popped my blog!! I was aghast! How in holy hell did that happen?

In a panic, I shot off an e-mail to the NaBloPoMo person, Eden, explaining my problem and begging her to get me out of there! And then I e-mailed Rise, because I knew she'd get a kick out of something like that..... As long as it was happening to me and not her! But Rise has her nose to the grindstone, plotting 29 more posts, so I got no reply. After all, she is up to her eyes in psychotic dogs, helpless offspring and needy in-laws. And, as icing on life's cake, she now has to come up with twenty nine more things to blog about, none of which are likely to be about s*x! That'll larn her! She probably thought "If Molly wants to specialize, that's her affair. I've got problems of my own."

I'm not getting my knickers in a twist about twenty nine more posts. I'm hearing Rose, my applique teacher, reminding us that the only thing we have to worry about is the very next stitch! So, I'm only going to worry about the very next post. There may be a lot of gibberish, but even gibberish counts, right? As long as I push that "publish" button before midnight.

Meanwhile, I was very anxious to be removed from that "s*x" category! Sure it would increase the number of visitors to my blog, but they would not be the kind I'd welcome! Besides, imagine clicking, and anticipating, then the let down when you find it's only a daft, white haired Irishwoman, waxing poetical about quilting and cats and flowers! They'd probably complain to the authorities about false advertising.....So, this daft, white haired Irish woman doesn't need them.

What if Eden shrugged her shoulders and couldn't change it? After all, there are thousands of bloggers signed up this year. It could be very un-funny. What if there really is an after-life? If The Mag and all the holy nuns are pulling the clouds aside, jostling each other to have a look? Whispering to each other "Oh my! You never can tell! We thought she was such an upstanding character! But, if you remember, there was that unpleasantness with the Penny Dreadful....That might have been an omem!"

Fingers crossed, I waited a while, then checked the blogroll again. Whew! God bless that Eden. No more sign of a Molly in the s*x category. As Rise would say---Amen! Loudly and with feeling!

Sunday, November 01, 2009

If The Dunce Hat Fits --- Wear It!

Attention Rise! And others allergic to quilt blather: Lots of quilt blather have been warned!

Some people are high maintenance. They have to be going on cruises, or hiking through rain forests, or climbing Mt. Everest, or going to fancy dinners, or U-2 concerts, to feel like they're really living. Not me. Every month this year I've waited like an excited child for the latest basket block from Bunny Hill Designs. I'm easily amused. Then I'd work on it so it'd be finished in time to let the anticipation build for the next one. As I said, low maintenance....or, pathetic.

The year we moved to Florida, I signed up for a year-long applique class. I had selected a "safe," unexciting, off-white background fabric. Before the first class, however, I attended a quilters' colour seminar with Patricia Campbell, of Jacobean applique fame. Ms.Campbell is a larger-than-life character, brash, blonde and breezy. Listening to her, and hearing tales of her fuschia kitchen cabinets, and other shockers, a door opened in my brain and blew a gale force wind into all the cobwebby corners, sending all my preconceived ideas about colour packing. According to this stitching diva, the only valid guideline for any project was to start with fabric you loved! Which put a whole 'nother spin on the ball. I wasn't about to go home and paint my kitchen fuschia, but when the seminar was over, I couldn't wait to go and pick new fabric for the class. One that I loved, rather than the insipid, "safe" one I had chosen earlier. I finally settled on a beautiful, lavender Fossil Fern. Because I loved it.

Mousy Miss Molly. Lavender. Yes Ma'am! Some of the other members of the class raised skeptical eyebrows. They were the ones obsessing about matching their applique blocks to their living room curtains. Yawn. My "decor," if you want to dignify it with such a word, is eclectic. I wasn't worrying about matching anything. And so I choose lavender, even though there wasn't another blessed thing in my house that was lavender.

But I still had to learn how to applique. Needle turn, no less. Our instructor, Rose, knew her stuff and was an excellent teacher. But it soon became apparent that I was the class dunce.

After the class I went home, full of good intentions, determined to get my homework done, but I just could not get the hang of turning under those few threads! At the next class, and the one after that, the rest of the class proudly displayed their homework, to "oohs" and "aahs" of admiration, while I slid ever lower in my chair and hoped the teacher would forget to call on me. I really thought I should just quit. I wasn't getting anywhere. But since I had already paid for the year, I kept beating the dead horse.

And then, three or four months into the year, a miracle happened.

Something clicked. I think it may have been Rose's insistence that you didn't have to worry about anything beyond the next stitch.....

So now, I'm a convert. She who dreaded the A word is an addict.
Which isn't to say that those twelve blocks have been put together into a quilt yet.

Some of them are finished; some still need a few more bits; some need to be redone.....

It will be another while before they turn into a quilt. These things can't be rushed. Getting the whole project finished, in the same decade in which it was started, is over-rated, if you ask me. Setting possibilities have to be mulled over; borders considered; quilting designs pondered. These things take time. They have to percolate in the deeper recesses of my brain. Don't rush me.

"Cute" doesn't usually do it for me, but there's something very appealing about the Bunny Hill designs. After the January block I was hooked. I have finished "my homework" every month so far! Yes, I think I should take a bow! This month is giving me some trouble though. Who knew Sunbonnet Sue was such a clothes horse? I've cut out four different dresses for her, and as many witch hats, but she has turned up her cute little button nose at all of them. So now we have settled on a turquoise-blue dress. Just to be sure she didn't wiggle out of it, I used a little dab of fabric glue. Try getting out of that Suzy Q! And, in a mad rampage of stash organization, I found some black fabric with moons and stars, which she likes much better for her witch hat than the other half dozen we tried. I used a dab of glue on that too. There's such a thing as taking "It's a woman's prerogative to change her mind" too far!

It looked a little empty around the bottom of the basket, so I thought I'd put a few pumpkins there. But every "pumpkin" I cut out looked like a strange, orange lump. Until Fate stepped in, at our quilt show last w.e. One of the vendors had the perfect fabric! All I had to do was cut the pumpkins out and applique them on. [The vendor was less than overjoyed when I asked for an eighth of a yard!] It turned out nicely, and I haven't heard a peep of complaint from Suzy. At least she hasn't tripped over one of the pumpkins yet.....

I love it when I get a week where my m,ost vexing problem is choosing the colour for Sunbonnet Sue's! It makes a pleasant change from other weeks when life's little zingers have me tearing my hair out!