Friday, January 2, 2009

You CAN get fresh honey-do in winter...

The time between Christmas and New Year's is a weird one for me. Not only is Boy home all day (tragically without his Xbox, which pooped out on him just before vacation started), but so is TSU, whose office closes down for the week. I'm trying to keep a semblance of my routine—I have an assignment due in two weeks, and my critique group needs feeding—but it's difficult when other people are wanting to share vacation with you. (I know, how tragic, having real people giving me excuses to procrastinate.)

Anyway, TSU uses the free time to play with his woodworking toys, and finally finished the sewing table I asked him to make for me. When he was ready to bring it upstairs, I cleared everything off the old folding table I used ... and then I stopped. He said he would replace the old wall sockets (they're loose and plugs always fall out—a real pain when you're ironing) when he repainted the room. So why not repaint the room now? I picked out some colors, and he did the rest:

Ain't it purty? (The white is a picture railing, which came with the house.) And isn't my new table glorious? Plenty of room to cut out fabric or quilt a queen size, and shelves for all my project boxes! Nice to know I'm not the only creative person in the family:

Sorry, ladies, I'm not sharing.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Vanity, thy name is Retail!

I suppose I should be writing some kind of year-end summary, or talking about my hopes for the new year, but I don't believe in New Year's Resolutions. If you're going to decide to do something, you should decide to do it any time of the year. (And then, if you're like me, put it off for the next few months. Procrastination: it isn't just for New Year's!)

No, I feel like griping, and a recent trip to the after-holiday sales gave me just the subject: that strange phenomenon known as "vanity sizing." If you're a woman and you've been shopping more than a few years, I'm sure you've experienced this strange transformation in women's sizes. Sizes have gradually gotten smaller and smaller as American women have grown larger and larger. Twenty years ago, when I was fifteen pounds lighter, I usually wore a size 10 trouser. Occasionally I might find an 8 that fit, and one really nice pair of pants I bought was a 6, but I was pretty sure: I was a size 10. Several years passed, and extra pounds accumulated here and there, but strangely enough, I was still a size 10. Until a few years ago, when half the 10s I tried on became too loose. Okay, that's fine. So now I'm a 10-maybe-8; it's a guessing game deciding what size of what brand to take into the fitting room, but I found a few favorite brands and that made it easier.

Well, last weekend I headed for a different department store than usual, and saw some nice cords on sale. I picked up an 8 and a 10 and headed for the dressing room. I swam in the 10s; fine, 8 it is. When I tried them on, though, the waist was still kinda loose. Really, the next size down wouldn't be right, would it? They wouldn't have gotten that silly; it was probably just the cut of the trouser. (I often have problems with waistlines, as the "here and there" those pounds travel to is usually my big butt.) So I changed back into my clothes, found a size 6, and went back into the fitting room. And what do you know? They fit, and rather easily.

Come on, is this really a size 6 butt? I think not.

What really irritates me, besides the constant guessing and the traipsing back and forth between rack and fitting room, is the idea that I'll think, "Omigod! I fit into a size 6! I must buy these pants!"* Half the places I shop never have sufficient fitting rooms anyway, so my shopping experience usually includes puzzling over sizes, waiting in line, not finding the right fit, heading back to the rack, and then waiting some more. Are retailers hoping I'll be so exasperated by the second go-round that I'll just buy the last thing I try on, no matter how it fits?

It would be so much simpler if women's pants were sized like men's: waist and inseam, measured in inches so that the sizes don't change. When I go shopping with TSU, we know exactly what to look for (although we rarely find it, since he is apparently abnormally fit for the mature American male). No wasting time in the dressing room trying three sizes of the same item for the men! Although on second thought, I think I'll pass on wearing my waist size on a label on my waistband, like they put with men's jeans. I'll just look forward to wearing a size 0 in 2035, when I'm twenty pounds heavier than I am today.

*Because really, the thought process is more, "Omigod! Dark purple fuzzy corduroys! They're so fuzzy! And so purple! I must have them!"

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Sorry, Lions Fans!

[Takes Official NFL-Licensed Detroit Lions Paper Bag off head]

As I'm sure any of you NFL fans already know, this year my Detroit Lions did what many said could never be done: they finished the season winless, with a record of 0-16. They even made this monumental feat look easy. A couple of times they had a lead going into the fourth quarter, but each time they managed to screw something up and give the game away. Now, you may think this winless season is the fault of the players, the coaching staff (most of whom have been fired), and horrible management of the gladly-departed Matt Millen, but I'm here to confess: it's all my fault.

I wasn't always a Lions fan, of course. I loved Michigan football from the time I was a little girl, but I wasn't really aware of the NFL until 1977, the year I collected team pencils from the vending machine at my middle school. Through careful hoarding of quarters and shrewd trading, I managed to get all 28 teams, even the Baltimore Colts, Los Angeles Rams, St. Louis Cardinals, and Houston Oilers. (I'd hoped to show a picture of my pencils, but they're missing from my school treasures box. I wonder what they'd fetch on eBay.) I didn't really pay attention to the Lions until the 1980 season, when they started with four straight wins and a couple of the players recorded their own version of Queen's "Another One Bites the Dust." Of course, the Lions were the ones who eventually bit the dust that season, missing the playoffs by virtue of tiebreaker. Still, they were on my radar, even though I didn't get much chance to watch them, not being the one in control of the clicker.

It was only in the 1990s that I became a faithful follower of the Lions. Even if the team was stinking up the field, you could always watch Barry Sanders, arguably the greatest running back ever. And actually, the 1990s were good for the Lions: they went to the playoffs six times, even though they only won a single playoff game (against the Cowboys, woo hoo!). But then I moved to London and lost track of the team. I ask you, is it coincidence or karma that the year after I left, Barry Sanders surprised the NFL by retiring early and immediately taking a vacation in London? Then, while I still wasn't paying attention, the owners hired a former sports announcer with no executive experience to run the team. Since I returned home in 2002, the Lions have punished me for my neglect by posting a record of 29-83, the worst in the league. It's like they're saying, "Oh, so now you're watching? Well, we'll only win one of every four games."

I'm not sure what I've done now, because owner William Clay Ford refuses to purge the management and seek the best in the NFL to take over the team, as Mike Illitch did with the Tigers after their record-setting 119-loss season in 2003. Three years later the Tigers were in the World Series; I doubt we'll see the Lions anywhere close to the Super Bowl in 2012. Maybe I should've bought a Ford Escape for my last car.

Whew. I'm glad I got that off my chest. Now, how long is it until Draft Day?*

*115 Days, 21 hours, and counting.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Photo of the Week--12/22/08

Because of the season I had to revisit our photos from Finnish Lapland. That is actually one of Santa's reindeer (so they promised us), and Boy and I were taking a sleigh ride. Later on, the three of us took a reindeer-sleigh along a candlelit path into the woods, to see the Jolly Old Elf in his cabin. I hope your Christmas holiday had some beauty in it; have a safe and happy New Year.