Friday, July 11, 2008

The Quilt Files, Episode 1

This blog is a wonderful way to avoid starting Chapter 17, I've discovered. Unfortunately, now it's exerting a pressure of its own. If I haven't put something in the blog for a couple of days, I feel guilty. My invisible audience is clamoring for more! If I don't create new entries, they'll never come back! If I can't write something in the blog, my own personal procrastination vehicle, how pathetic is that? It's bad enough I'm avoiding Chapter 17, which is something productive that could actually be published some day (soon, ohpleaseohpleaseohplease), but now I can't think of something to blather about in my blog! If I do more than one vacation photo a week, I'll run out quickly. I've gone through all three cats, plus the shelter. Nationals are over. I can't read more than one classic every couple of weeks, and I don't want to blog about reading science fiction or Stephen King, that's not very impressive.

I know! I will introduce a new feature to The Blathering: The Quilt Files. I can blather about projects I've done, complete with pictures. If I limit it to once a month, I might last the rest of the year. Maybe it will inspire me to finish that last row on the quilt I'm making for my niece (if I don't decide to keep it for myself, heheheheh).

So here is Episode 1 in The Quilt Files: My first finished project, completed December 2002. It's actually a lap quilt, about 35" square. I had purchased some charm packs (4.5" square) featuring this family of fabrics for another project. That project required red, orange, yellow, green, dark blue, and purple fabrics. These were the colors left over: black, white, pink, light blue, and maroon. I figured, easy peasy: piece together the squares, add borders, and voila! A handmade Christmas gift for Grandma! (They always appreciate handmade, or are too kind to say they don't.) The piecing took only a weekend, and then it took several weeks of quilting by hand to finish the project. It's hard to tell from the photo, but I alternated diamonds and 8-pointed stars in each of the squares, stitched in the ditches of the small border, and quilted diamonds in the big border. Considering I started with leftover scraps in weird colors (and I tried several arrangements before settling on this one), I thought it turned out fairly nice.

Of course, Grandma was thrilled to have a handmade gift. When she left her home for hospice care, it was one of the things she took with her. My aunt says that when Grandma passed last December, she was using my little quilt. I like to think she spared a thought for me that last day.

Now the quilt is back with me, hanging off my writing chair. When it's not too hot out, I like to wear it in my lap. It's warm and cozy and the cats like to sit on it. And now I'm the one who looks at it and gets warm memories of a loved one. Not a bad result for my first quilting project.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

The Feline Anti-Literacy Brigade, Part 4

Wait a minute, you may be thinking. Didn't you say a few posts ago that you had a limit to the felines in your household? Didn't your other half swear up and down that "Three Is Enough," that we now have a replacement-only policy? So what gives? You didn't bring another feline home, did you?

No, I didn't. I respect the house rules, and besides, Agents 1, 2, and 3 would not be pleased to share their duties with a fourth feline. But if I can't bring the kitties home to me, I can certainly travel to meet them. And that's exactly what I do once a week: I travel to the Humane Society of Huron Valley and volunteer a couple hours as a "Cat Comforter." The shelter does great work, but it's old and cramped. It's stressful for the kitties, and a stressful kitty isn't as friendly and appealing as a happy kitty. My job is to go in, give the kitties attention, help them relax, and hopefully make them more adoptable. And if I can't convince the kitty to come out from the back of the cage, sometimes I'll go in to meet them:

There were actually four kittens in this cage. The black one with white paws was being curious and crawling on top of me—and on top of her brother, who was trying to sleep on my lap. (You can see his white forepaws sticking out in front of his black head.) What you can't see are the two grey ones that were sitting behind me, occasionally trying to crawl up or behind my back. One of the hazards of comforting a cage full of kittens is that they regard you as their personal jungle gym, and you can end up with itty bitty kitty scratches on your back and arms.

Right now we're in the middle of kitten season. It starts around Memorial Day, and lasts most of the rest of the year (although there only a few kittens in November and December). Last year, we had almost full kitten turnover every week. I'd go in, and each of the 10 cages would have a new set of kittens in them. (Replenished by the numerous volunteers who foster litters until they're old enough or there's room enough to be adopted at the shelter.)

This year we seem to have an excess of black and black-and-white kittens (a couple kitlers among them). Some of them have been there for almost a month, which can't be good. They'd much rather be with people, from the way they snuggle and kiss me when I take them out of their cages.

So procrastinating by volunteering at HSHV is a win-win all around: the kitties get some attention, while I get kitties who are actually grateful for attention and a great excuse not to start working on Chapter 17.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Out of the mouths of babes....

I couldn't resist sharing more wisdom from Boy, who, as a teenager, is frequently full of it*. So lately I've been trying to suggest he should keep up with taekwondo, or some kind of physical activity, as one marching band rehearsal a week does not constitute an exercise plan. Here was our enlightening conversation:

Me: I'm going for a walk while it's still cool. Do you want to come along?

Boy: Mo-om, no! I've got marching band rehearsal tonight.**

Me: Will you go with me to class on Friday or Saturday, then?

Boy: I also had a sectional last night. I got some exercise then.

Me: Twice a week isn't going to keep you in great shape.

Boy: Mom, I'm growing an inch a week.*** I don't need to work off my food.

Me: You're not going to grow an inch every week.

Boy: [Silence. His point has been made.]

Me: Arrgh!

I have to give him credit for his reasoning, though. It's almost as twisty as mine when I'm trying to avoid starting Chapter 17.

*Besides teenage wisdom, he is also frequently full of something that rhymes with "it."
**To be fair, marching band rehearsal does last three hours, and works the calves something wonderful.
***This is not inaccurate. A few days before I left for Nationals, the doctor's office measured him at 4'11.75". I measured the day after I got back, and he was 5'0.75" tall. Now he is trying to convince me to leave for the rest of the summer in hopes of outgrowing his classmates.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Photo of the Week--6/30/08

Not much to say about this one. St. Peter's Basilica, the seat of the Pope, is one of the most beautiful cathedrals in the world. The sun was coming in at just the right angle, making it easy to capture this gorgeous shot. I knew it would be an amazing photo even as I took it (and this was in the days before digital, when I had to wait for the film to get developed).