Category Archives: Mutterings

A Lot Of People Like Snow…

225bI find it to be an unnecessary freezing of water — Carl Reiner

Oh dear, it’s winter again.

So what do we do when a storm rolls through two days after Christmas with winds gusting 60-70 mph, leaving 3.5 inches of ice in it’s wake, knocking out all of the electrical sub-stations in our area, and leveling utility poles for miles?

Refugee out, because we knew it was going to be an uphill climb back to normal.  Eight days without power if you’re counting… and I was.

233bWe stuck it out at home for three days, and are old pros at making our coffee and meals in the fireplace.  But our water is supplied by a well – no electricity, no water – and we haven’t gotten around to adding a solar system to power the pump, so water soon became the real issue.

When it got to the point that we’d used up the emergency non-potable water, and found ourselves gazing longingly at the water troughs the donkeys use (and the occasional silly rabbit that quickly becomes a dead silly rabbit)… well, it was time to think about 4-wheeling out in search of more civilized living conditions.

220bWe did our best Grapes of Wrath imitation and loaded up clothing, bedding, incidentals, and all three dogs.  First stop was the vet’s office, and after some undignified begging – we weren’t the only homeless family that week – Big Jack, bigger Tank, and lil’ sister Tilly had a new home for the duration.

Then it was off to the hotel for us – land of temperature controlled rooms, running water, lights, and free breakfasts.  Best of all?  A flat screen television and an outlet to plug my sewing machine into.

You didn’t think that I’d leave my sewing machine at home, did you?  Did you, really?

234bAnd living in a hotel isn’t that bad.  All of our meals were eaten out; no cooking, no washing up.  No cleaning up after myself either, a maid came in every single day and tidied up after me – coooool.

Lots of cable channels to choose from, a generous block of time spent in my “sewing area” after work, but before the cocktail hour, and a pile of books received as Christmas gifts to help fill in the blank spots.  All in all, a fairly sweet deal.

227bNote to self: a hotel-sized mini microwave is too small for a standard size bag of microwave popcorn… the burned smell lingers.

There was also enough time to wander the halls in the hotel, snapping random phone pictures of the room numbers.

So… can you identify the international chain that we parked our big-old-fat-ones in?

One of my sisters also chipped in with some interim entertainment (I forgot to mention the free WiFi).  Louise had been rummaging through a cousin’s keepsake bin/box/trashcan, and turned up a treasure in the process.

A birth announcement for a 10# boy, born 5 May 1910, son of James Garfield Saucier (with a big assist from Ida Louise (Hoffmann) Saucier).  The postcard was addressed to Arthur Glauser, care of Judge Glauser.  Arthur was the husband of Julia (Hoffmann) Glauser, Ida’s older sister.  I haven’t been able to ferret out any information on Judge Glauser, but my bet would be that he was Arthur’s pappy.

As for the 10# baby boy?  That would be our dad, Leo James Saucier.  Thanks sis – you did great!

Ostrich Humor – Anyone?

ostrich

OSTRICH, n. A large bird to which (for its sins, doubtless) nature has denied that hinder toe…  The absence of a good working pair of wings is no defect, for, as has been ingeniously pointed out, the ostrich does not fly. — Ambrose Bierce

Occasionally, when meeting the world head-on sounded like a drag, I’ve been known to do a fair Struthio camelus imitation.  I’ve had my head in the sand a lot lately, but I’m still kicking, nonetheless, and no, I don’t have a nest of eggs that needs checking on.  I’m aware that the ostrich effect is a myth except when describing behavioral finance… but I still like the metaphor.

Lots of books, music, and movies have gone under my wheels since I last posted.  My binges have included, but not limited to, all 10 books in the Bernard Samson series by Len Deighton, and Neil Young and Crazy Horse have been my constant quilting companions, with side trips accompanied by the likes of Steve Winwood, Cream, and Joe Cocker.  Movies: too numerous to list here, but here’s a hint – puredee escapism.

Elmer Tipton OK F2 TornadoThe weather here in Tornado Alley has finally driven me back to the computer; we’ve had a couple of “holy cow that was kind of close!” tornadoes blow through – friends and neighbors sustained damage, but our little piece of paradise is, so far, intact.  And the rain… we went from exceptional drought and near-dead lakes to ground that’s reached its saturation point and flooding in the last 3-4 weeks.  Highways to anywhere have been closed and a nearby town is dealing with evacuation procedures.  We’re in moderate drought now, but I have it from a reliable source that as soon as the new statistics are tabulated we should be listed as merely abnormally dry… huzzah!

The most recent quilting check mark – which, incidentally, rhymes with aardvark, airpark, autarch, ballpark, blue shark, bookmark, chop mark, debark, demark and D-mark – that I’ve seen lately, is my scrappy red and black version of Barbara Brackman’s Threads of Memory project.  The finished top measures 72″x87″ or app. 182×220 cms.

threads of memory barbara brackman quiltI still need to get three blocks plus borders finished on my Fig Tree & Co. fabrics version of the same quilt.  Never fear, I will get there one of these days.

On another quilting note: I finished quilting and binding my Bonnie Hunter Easy Street quilt from 2012 (seriously, 2012).  I was somewhat eager to show it off here, but disaster managed to strike first.  The pre-washed mauve fabric that I’d used as backing fabric bled…. and bled and bled and bled.  I’ve used every commercial product I could think of, and it’s still bleeding.  All of my nice white background fabrics are an ugly pinkish-mauve, ditto the greens and the aquas that I used.  But there is a silver lining – the purples are still purple.  My last ditch alternative is going to be using an ammonia solution – cross your fingers please – otherwise it’ll be designated as dog bedding.

Speaking of dogs: we lost Boomer this spring, one of a pair of big yellow dogs that lived with us, but we’ve since acquired a pair of litter mates as company for Boomer’s brother Jack, who badly missed having a wing-man.

Tank & TillyHave been puzzling over so-called designer dogs since our new puppies are a Labrador/Rottweiler mix, and what to call them.  Labrador/Rottweiler is a mouthful, so I’ve been reading about hybrid dogs with names like Yorkipoo, Alusky, and Labradoodle to name just a few of the recognized crossbreeds.

Where do Tank and his sister Tilly land?  Officially, they’re Labrotties, but I think instead that I’ll follow the Labradoodle logic and call them Labradotties if asked.  The name rolls off the tongue easier and sounds like a lot more fun.  Besides, Labrottie, when said aloud, makes me think of some old and dignified Italian breed.  Too much responsibility to put on a pair of rough and tumble puppies.

How To Self-Destruct Your Internet Business: or whatever happened to good salesmanship?

There’s been an awful lot of silence on this blog lately.  One might say there’s been a void-like quiet.  On this side of the computer screen, however, there’s been a fair amount of squawking, and at times, screeching going on.

I’ve been looking for a new car, and I’ve been all over the board in choosing the one that I could drive home.  It needed to be:

Fun to drive…

jeep1And it needed to have something of the workhorse about it…

gmcBut with a responsible outlook on fuel economy…

fiatMost importantly, it had to fit within a somewhat austere budget…

donkey

And So The Search Was On

I live in an area that could be described as a geographical oddity – it’s approximately an hour’s drive from anywhere, in any direction.  Because of that one little detail, I was very interested in utilizing the internet: first to do my homework, and then to narrow my choices to a particular vehicle at a particular price point before I invested the time and fuel to drive to a brick and mortar dealership.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but the last time I looked, we are indeed living in the 21st century; and the internet – and internet marketing – has been around for a year, or two, or twenty.  During that time, retailers have figured out a few things: that a large proportion of the buying public are inherently lazy, that they like shopping at all hours, and if you’re like me, you love shopping in your jammies.

Car dealers haven’t been slow to cash in on this type of marketing – do an internet search for any car and suddenly you’re bombarded by ads from the automotive industry.

Now, it’s my understanding that in parts of the good, old U.S. of A., car dealers have internet sales staff that actually use the internet as a tool in the negotiation and purchasing process.  Somehow, this information has been withheld or perhaps ignored by the internet sales force at new car dealerships in Texoma – a good sized area that encompasses southern Oklahoma and northern Texas.  Time apparently stands still in Texoma.  Here you’ll find mind-sets unchanged since the dawn of automotive history.

Another oddity – truly amazing.

Here’s my definition of frustration… you send off an inquiry to a dealership in regards to a particular vehicle.  Questions you might expect to ask, and the answers you’re likely to receive:

Q: Is this vehicle still in stock?

A: What’s your zip code?

Q: Do you have a similar vehicle with 4-wheel drive?

A: What’s your phone number?

Q: I see that you only have the MSRP online.  What’s the sale price of this vehicle?

A: What color do you want?

Q: Are you open for business today?

A: Come on in and test drive!  (Silly me – an hour’s drive later I found out it actually wasn’t.)

Never Say Die

It’s incredible that so many dinosaurs (of both sexes) continue to survive, and that they insist on clutching old school sales techniques to their respective bosoms with a death-grip.

But these kinds of responses made narrowing my options easier in some ways.

For instance, at one point in the purchasing process, the owner and general manager (of a dealership that shall remain nameless) sent an inquiry regarding my experience with his internet sales staff.  I made the honest mistake of leaving customer feedback.  Imagine my surprise when that information was turned over to his internet sales manager and I received a response that looked a lot like the opening salvo of a pissing contest.  My reaction to these so-called sales techniques?

Imagine me in front of my computer, innocently reading email… when suddenly my head exploded.  Another new car dealer was scratched off my list.

Car buying on the internet has been an educational experience.  I’ve tucked away some good information for the next time – and there will be a next time – but I’ll be better prepared and better armed.  For now, let’s just say that I finally found the one – color the crazy woman happy.

juke

Considering The Value Of Time

old clockWhy can’t there be just a few more hours in the day?  And how many hours, exactly, would be helpful?

Four hours for openers, although I could maybe be negotiated down to two.  So many things that I need to do, or rather, want to do, and there just isn’t time enough to get those coveted check marks.

For instance: where do I find the time to build a working trebuchet in the north pasture?  The way I see it, time spent daydreaming is never wasted, and I can’t tell you how much time I’ve happily allocated to the idea of chunkin’ something – a pumpkin, a piano, a Mazda, anything really that’s not bolted down – as far south as possible.

If I’m lucky, and the wind is just right, maybe I could fling something over the south pasture, across the road, smack-dab into my neighbor’s field.  Now that would be really something – and for those of you in the know, you’ll understand when I say that a perfect pitch into that field would include something along the lines of a dead and mouldering cow.  There are a couple of snags to this pie in the sky idea… where to find an aged to perfection dead cow, and who can I co-opt to handle said carcass?

Never mind.  Messy.

Only two weeks left in the Fight For Women’s Rights quilt project.  I’ve been working on getting setting squares made and borders finalized.  I’d be a lot closer to finishing on time if I only had more… time.

Also, it’s past time to bring this record up to date.  From the top, reading left to right, the blocks are: Star of Hope, Cats & Mice, Childless Wife, Gentleman’s Fancy, Barrister’s Block, and Heroine’s Crown.

mosaic721Imagine me patting myself on the back – I’ve stayed with the program (mostly) and haven’t taken too many liberties with Barbara Brackman’s blocks… sort of.

This project will wrap shortly, maybe then I’ll have the time to begin working on a trebuchet.  As for the payload?  I’ll find the time somewhere to fully consider aerodynamics.

Trebuchet at Caerlaverock Castle

Block Thirty-Eight: Nonsense

i’ll get to the block later – crazy woman talking

I was recently nominated for the Liebster Award by antarabesque – the award being a way for blogs with small readerships to expand their visibility and to learn more about the individual bloggers.

Originally, the award recipient was required to answer eleven questions about themselves and nominate eleven more blogs in turn… a global chain letter if you will.  In its most recent incarnation, the requirements for accepting the Liebster have been downgraded, recipients needing to answer and nominate only five in each category.

After much consideration, I’ve decided to accept a semi or half-Liebster, answering the five questions with as much sincerity and soberness as I can muster, which as usual, ain’t much.  As for recommending blogs?  You might explore the list of blogs I follow, most are small (under 200 readers), and really, not all of them are about quilting.

How many jobs have you had and which did you like the most?  My daddy was a traveling man, and I married a traveling man.  As a result, I’ve turned my hand to whatever opportunities were available at the time, some were good some weren’t good.  I think it would be far easier to list the jobs I’ve never held.  I’ve never been: a carny, a personal shopper, an astrologer, an eye bank technician, an accordion mechanic, a venom milker, a mall Santa, or an extreme AC repairman – though I will say that they all sound like interesting career paths in one way or another.

What was your favorite school subject?  Please refer back to traveling man in the previous question.  I attended a grand total of seventeen elementary schools, two junior high schools, and five high schools in assorted southwestern states.  I was far too busy trying to keep my grades up, with little opportunity to favor one subject over another… unless you’ll let me count ditching class to go to the lake as a favorite subject?

What is number one on your bucket list?  Living forever.  That ought to help me accomplish whatever is currently in the #2 position.

What do you wish you had more time for? Harness training my donkeys, reading, getting a check mark for every single item that appears on my to-do list, more reading, building a working trebuchet, and yes, even more reading.

Do you collect anything and if you do, what? This was a tough one to answer, so I did a full tour of the house, compiling data as I went (complete with bullets and footnotes).  The results of my findings are as follows: Apparently I collect Dust Bunnies and Unidentifiable Leftovers.

liebstersoapthe saga continues: the fight for women’s rights

Once upon a time, and not so very long ago, there were an abundance of idiotic theories that described the morbid effects of physical exercise on a woman’s body.  Anything from operating a treadle sewing machine to bicycle and horseback riding (astride) – and walking with any other purpose than a slow meander through one’s garden was frowned upon.  All exercise was considered an unhealthy pastime for a woman, both physically and mentally, and if a woman threw caution to the wind by ignoring this advice, medical pundits of the day were certain that she ran the risk of permanent reproductive damage.

NonsenseNonsense is the name of the block that Barbara Brackman used to remind us of the propaganda and social pressures to which our foremothers were subjected.

the true definition of nonsense: micro quilting

Moving further into the realm of nonsense, here’s what I’ve been up to in the last week, the Itty-Bitty Pinwheels pattern by Primitive Gatherings.  The quilt top finished at 10″ square (25.4 cm) with 1″ blocks.  A wonderful way to use scraps, but not so great in terms of my mental health.

My Itty-Bitty Pinwheel Quilt

Block Twenty-Nine: Australia’s Star

A seven-pointed star for Australia.  You figure out the geometry on this block, I can’t, it’s well beyond my poor math skills.

Australia Barbara Brackman Grandmother's Choice Fight For Women's Rights

This is version two – my first try ended up in the trashcan accompanied by a stream of invectives you’d do well not to even try to imagine.  I’m sure that a few choice words are still lingering in the sewing room, there’s a cloud shape hovering up near the ceiling, violet streaked with black.  Occasionally a rogue syllable comes tearing out of the cloud, goes bouncing off the walls, and just generally has fun hearing its own sly echo (insert gremlin-type cackle here)… oh the shame.

I’m glad I gave the block a shot – two shots to be precise – but I’m happier still that the block is complete.

Tumbleweed Or Russian Thistle?

Trust me, it’s not a “Ginger or Maryann?” kind of question.  There’s a third alternative, some folks just a stone’s throw south of us call them Texas Tribbles.

I’m a roaming cowboy riding all day long,
Tumbleweeds around me sing their lonely song.
Nights underneath the prairie moon,
I ride along and sing this tune.

In case you young’uns don’t recognize the lyrics, that’s the opening stanza from a Sons Of The Pioneers classic.

You may or may not recall a passing remark I made a few weeks ago about a fair breeze blowing and how it was a good opportunity to toss out a few tumbleweeds to let them move on down the road.  I think I also mentioned that as soon as the wind turned, they’d probably be back.

Well, the wind turned, and they’re back, and they brought friends.

When I went out to the truck this morning, I got the impression that all of the tumbleweeds in the county came over for a party last night, passed out, and never left.

We had 50 mph (80.47 kph) winds yesterday evening.  Not a hugely big wind, we see wind speeds like that on a regular basis – not bragging, it’s just a fact of life in this corner of Oklahoma (the land is very flat out here you know).  But I have to say that it was an odd, swirly kind of wind that caromed off the eaves of the roof, hooted down the chimney, and apparently made it easy for the tumbleweeds to go airborne.

Hotie & PepperThe donkeys don’t look too happy.  It could be because of all of the tumbleweeds cluttering up their pasture, or it could be they’re hoping that tonight is the night for a ration of sweet feed.  I know for a fact that there’s a fence lurking underneath all of the tumbleweeds piled up just behind them.

paddockIt doesn’t look too awfully bad in this photo, but maybe I’m just setting up for the big finish.

dogsntmbleweedsOur two yellow dogs trying to figure out what happened to the gate.  They used to be able to squeeze right through, but tumbleweeds are terribly prickly, and that makes the gate an uncomfortable proposition.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe boys finally got into the pasture, only to find themselves stymied once again.

weeorchard3Now I know that the last time I was out here there were a couple of peach trees.

[sigh]… Looks like we’ve got our work cut out for us.  There are far too many tumbleweeds to toss into the next high wind, so maybe I should change my name to woman-who-sets-fires?  And maybe that sounded too much like something from a bad Kevin Costner movie, so I’ll come up with an alternative… later.