Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Finished Object: The Shirt off our Backs Rug

Whew! The rug is finally finished and in my mother’s possession.

This isn’t the greatest photo because the sun was on the wrong side of the house, but frankly I had been up since 4 a.m. hand sewing the binding to the edge, it was now 9:30 a.m., and I had to rush vacuum this, roll it up, and run out the door. Work to do!

But here it is:

And how did it go over? A-Maze-ing!!!

I met my eldest sister at my mother’s house after sis got off work. She hadn’t seen this yet, though she had donated loads of fabric to the effort. Neither she nor my mother could take their eyes off the rug. There were lots of finger pointing, trying to remember which fabric squares belonged to which person. The nice thing is that my sister had donated a pair of gray t-shirt material shorts that had belonged to her now-deceased husband, so even he was a part of the rug. My brother did not get off work until 8, so he hasn’t seen it yet.

When my niece stopped by after work to pick up her two children my parents care for, my mother showed her the rug and told her that she was sorry that she didn’t contribute. My niece said she had forgotten about it, and claimed to not have been aware of the deadline for donating fabrics. Uh... I walked to her office in an ice storm to tell her about this and gave her the deadline of the family garage sale. In fact, the day before I had called her mother (also one of my sister’s) and left a message on their answering machine telling her the same.

A little bit later after my mother talked to her granddaughter about the rug, my other sister came screaming up the driveway to complain to our mother about the way she had talked to her daughter.

I love families.

The daffodils are now spent, but I’ve been too busy to share:

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Eight to Go

I am definitely in the home stretch of the Shirt off our Backs Rug. Only eight more measly squares to go, plus binding off. Yay me! Unfortunately, I have begun the binding off process I invented, and I find that this is going to take a heck of a lot of time. I had been hoping I would finish by the end of the day Sunday, but based on my current progress, I must have been high (on life) when I arrived at that date.

Yeah. It’s not happening.

As our travel season nears, we have realized that we are sorely behind on movie rentals. We rectified that in one fell swoop on Tuesday when we rented: the new Stargate movie, Legend, Jesse James, and Hooked Up. We didn’t watch them all on Tuesday. In fact, we didn’t watch any. But Dillons has a wonderful new release special where if you rent any new release on Tuesday (even movies that were released in preceding weeks), and return it on or before Friday, you can get a punch on your frequent renter card. That’s one punch for renting the movie, and one punch for returning it. Wednesday we watched Stargate and Legend.

I found Stargate to be predictably disappointing. Oh, I have always and will always love the actors of Stargate. It’s the creative team behind it that is plumbing the depths of idiocy and desperation.

Legend was haunting and spurred several discussions the next day about responsibility and wisdom where his dog was concerned.

We returned both on Thursday evening right after we had dinner with the in-laws where I gifted the Jayhawk Dishcloths to the MIL. The dishcloths went over like gangbusters, though the MIL said she had no intention of actually using the cloths, but instead wanted to hang them in her front window like little banners. And after dinner ended several hours later and quickly following my MIL’s sneering remarks about my candidate of choice, we went home and watched Jesse James. Gorgeous cinematography.

When as we were leaving the restaurant we ran into our vet. I met her husband of under 1 year, and I cautioned her that I would probably be making an appointment in the next few days for Eclair who was suffering from her usual seasonal allergy barfing.

As I stepped away from the table, I realized that Thursday was essentially over, and that if I didn’t make the appointment for Friday, that it would be Monday at the earliest, and that Eclair usually needed more time than that to recover. Besides, if she continued barfing at her current rate, she would be a dehydrated husk of a cat by the time Monday rolled around.

You see, Eclair is an allergy cat. She has had near death experiences from food, and every year about a month after trees begin to bloom and pollinate, the little booger begins to barf profusely and without end.

I called the vet the next morning, taking the first appointment of the day. Eclair’s medical file is a weighty tome, but the good news is that the vet knows her inside and out. She knows what shots gave her allergic reactions. She knows what shots have worked before. And she knows what shots we haven’t tried. This year we went with a new medication that is supposed to work on not one but two barf impulses in the brain.

I put her in the parlor where her condo, litter pan and food station was already set up, and picked up her food bowl so she would give her tummy a break. The meds worked wonders. She hasn’t barfed since her shot. The first 24 hours she slept pretty much non-stop. The second, her eyes were sometimes open, but she seemed to have trouble focusing.

With Friday being a full night of sci-fi already, we returned Jesse James and postponed viewing the non-new release of Knocked Up for Saturday night after knit group. Not a bad flick. But I’m not sure if that’s the movie, the 8.5% alcohol by volume bottle of Delirium Tremors that we shared during important business research, or the fact that I had been up since 1:30 a.m. working on the Shirt off our Backs Rug. The first half of Knocked Up didn’t live up to its hype, but I was relieved to find the second half was much better.

In other news: Around 12:40 a.m. Monday, we woke to a terrible cat fight. The cats were whiny the rest of the night, and one insisted on playing on our bed like there was no tomorrow. The next morning I checked the internet and found that a strong aftershock had hit southern Indiana around 12:38 a.m. earlier that morning. Cats are weird!

*The rug is almost done! I finished the last square and crocheted the edge under. All I have left to do is machine sew the binding tape to the edge, trim, and fill in some of the gappy bits on the rug interior where canvas and/or locker twine is visible. The rug gifting appointment is at 4:45 p.m. Tuesday.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

A High PFO Quotient

Every home we’ve toured, the Realtors have asked what we are looking for. Two-car garage... a certain number of bathrooms... no toilet in the master bedroom... the usuals. But I have one criteria—a secret criteria—that I have never voiced. I am looking for a home with a high PFO Quotient.

Don’t bother to look that up in your handy Realtor reference dictionary because it’s not there. PFO stands for “Piss Family Off.” In other words, I want to find a home that will really piss my family off. How sick is that?

Not the whole family. Just one or two select individuals. One, really. One person who has handled money carelessly all her life, is less than two decades from retirement, and (not surprisingly) has no assets to speak of. And it really ticks her off when other people, who do handle money carefully, are able to afford a few nice things. Apparently, just the fact that homes in our price range tend to have basements, puts us in the Richie Rich category. Which we are not, by the way.

Today was our second day on the Open House circuit, and boy did we find a few with high PFO’s.

I won’t let the PFO Quotient dictate the home we buy, because the joke will be on me if we buy a house for its PFO Quotient but don’t care for it otherwise. Like a house we toured today that was at the top of the PFO Quotient scale, but the only shower for the master bedroom was basically a jacuzzi sun room in full view of the neighboring homes.

But we did see two others that could work very well...

very well indeed!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Experiencing an Earthquake in Retrospect

As you have probably heard by now, a fairly strong earthquake struck the southern Indiana/Illinois area. People reportedly felt the quake as far west as my town, and seismometers a hundred miles further west also registered.

Did I feel it? No. In fact, I was sleeping like a baby.

Did I feel the aftershocks later in the day when I was up and around and knew that there had been an earthquake? Uh...that would be a no again.

However, the cats were acting odd all day. Nacho was hyper-alert and clingy. Caper was extra annoyed that Nacho was breathing and using up Caper’s valuable air. You get the idea.

Then late yesterday afternoon I went into the basement to look for some porch floor paint for one of our many house tasks that we planned to tackle this weekend, and I found that a jug of windshield fluid that I usually keep on a basement window ledge had fallen on the basement floor.

Not very exciting, I know. But frankly I don’t think I would have wanted it to be more exciting.

I have decided that I’m not a “child” person. No offense to children, or their parents, but I am perfectly happy going about my day without experiencing a single child. I bring this up because I have an office neighbor who has two small boys. The office neighbor is wonderful, and he is clearly a terrific father. However, he has a ritual of taking his kids to the farmer’s market every Saturday he’s in town. And when they come downtown for the market, they stop at the office to use this restroom. And he insists on having his children come down and knock to say hello. We get hugs and exchange a few high fives at the urging of the father. I try to share little trinkets we collect through our travels. (Today’s trinket was a tiny suede moccasin key ring.) But, truth be told, I would have preferred to be left alone. I mean, we are there on a Saturday - not because we love working long hours - but because we had work to do. WORK. Not kid socializing.

His youngest is too young to be a roamer so he doesn’t get into things, but the older one is lightning quick and grabs and fondles everything. Today I was troubleshooting some new audio equipment which I mentioned in passing (as in “I’m kinda busy”) to the father. He expressed interest in my Marantz, so I brought him in to my office so he could see it. And before I knew it, his kid had his thumbs in the center of my right stereo speaker*. The father sort of apologized by saying that he gives his son an old computer mouse to play with. I personally think that’s like giving a puppy an old shoe to play with, then being surprised when it chews up your shoes.

As I said, I’m not anti-kid, but I dread these staged encounters.

*Don’t worry about the speaker. It’s part of my old computer equipment that I have to replace this summer anyway. But it was certainly a good lesson.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Flying Against the Craft Deadline at 90mph

I have managed to make huge progress on the Shirt off our Backs Rug. Good thing, too, because a huge project is about to land on my desk. This is the kind of project that will keep me busy all day every day until we leave for Arkansas. I mean ALL DAY. In fact, I’m not entirely certain that I will be able to finish it. There, I said it. Finishing is questionable. Basic hygiene and meals will fall to the wayside in an effort to make this project happen.

Oh, I could have turned it down. Or I could have even said, “that’s great, but can I take the smaller of the two parts?” But no. It was the money. I’m a sucker for a paycheck—especially one that will singlehandedly fund the new computer and software suite I so desperately need.

I expect the project to arrive early next week. Until then, I have some semblance of flexibility to my day. After? None. That means that the Shirt off our Backs Rug needs to be completed before the “Project from Hell” arrives. I have already been busting my butt on it. To bust it any more I’ll have to put my right wrist in a brace from over-straining it.

I would feel much better about all of this were it not for the lousy timing of a mother-overdue-for-a-nap phone conversation I suffered through this afternoon. I won’t go into the back story that explains why she was overdue for a nap, but suffice it to say that the simple act of coordinating her schedule with my very flexible schedule this weekend so she could take advantage of a sale at the museum gift shop was way to difficult for her—especially given the price of gas and the 10 blocks she would need to drive.

But don’t worry, Mom. All these hours I’m clocking to make you an f-ing rug for your f-ing Mother’s Day present—oh, that’s not inconvenient at all!

Okay. Use of the word f-ing twice in my internal response makes it seem as though I care much more than I do. It’s really more of a sigh and eye roll moment. I am very practiced at those moments.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Blown Away

Anyone from this neck of the woods knows that we are having one heck of a windstorm. This is basically the same storm which caused an entire Colorado town to be evacuated due to wildfires. As long as one doesn’t have a fire bearing down on them, are trying to land at an airport, carry mat board across a college campus, or drive on I-70, this shouldn’t be an issue. But the constant wind is inarguably exhausting, and I am trying to put a dent in the fence painting/repair that will have to happen before we put our home on the market. The good news is that the winds are supposed to lighten in the early afternoon. The bad news is that I absolutely have to paint right after lunch because there is much to do, and severe storms are forecasted after midnight.

This morning I took a few minutes off to head across town to our second Jo-Ann’s location. I’d pretty well picked through the fabrics at the first location earlier in the week, and I needed a few more varieties to finish the Shirt off our Backs locker hook rug. They had a much better selection, and I have been getting braver with my choices. These are no yarnstorm fabrics. In fact, they are pretty hideous. But I have a feeling that once they are cut into strips and hooked up into loops, that they will play very nicely with my previous fabric choices.

They did not stock anything approximating the binding that I will need to ultimately finish the rug, so I am hoping that Hancock’s will. It’s a much better store, in my opinion.

I am still attempting to reach Landmark #8, but it is getting increasingly difficult to judge at a glance where I am at on any give row. So my next landmark instead will be to complete every available two-unit patch. My hope is to be to the singles-only phase this weekend.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Grudgingly Coming by the Seventh Landmark Honestly

I was tempted, I have to admit, that when I did a re-evaluation of my progress on the Shirt off our Backs Rug Sunday after I reached Landmark #6, and I realized that I only had one row that was short one unit to have a minimum of seven in each row, that I was tempted to call that the Seventh Landmark. I mean, I had been working on this rug alllll day. My back hurt. My hands hurt. I was on my second full dose of Advil and 15th podcast. Unfortunately I had three columns that only had six completed units. Landmark #7 was reached this morning before 6 a.m.

I did managed to take a back-stretching break to wander around the yard to admire a few blooms:

Purty, ain’t it?

Saturday was an insanely hectic day. We had work to do in the morning, rushed home for a quick lunch, then hit the highway to start the open house segment of new home shopping. We saw cozy homes (too small). We saw homes with the back fence about to come down. We saw homes where the Realtor insisted on telling us what the family that owned the home had planned to do, but hadn’t. We saw homes where we were ordered to remove our shoes at the door. We saw homes where a family currently lived but most of the rooms were empty and devoid of personality. And we found a home we could envision as being our home in a few months when the timing is right.

We also met Realtors. Some nice, one creepy, and one that we can call our own.

That Saturday was also my geek meet-up, and this meeting was no exception. We talked database-driven web sites, torrenting, dynamic ad insertion, and argued over exactly which season the new season of Doctor Who on the Sci-fi channel will be. (It will be the 4th, by the way. I finally convinced them with the help of my trusty laptop and the wireless network which is one of the features of this bar.

All in all a great weekend. I’m exhausted.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

The Ninth Circle of Commercial Hell

One of the benefits of working on the Shirt off our Backs Rug, is that I can schedule my work sessions to correspond with the daytime reality courtroom TV schedule. This is great because I have a weakness for small claims court drama like other people are addicted to potato chips. (Okay, maybe I am slightly addicted to potato chips, too, but that’s totally beside the point.)

But this perk comes with its drawbacks. Chief among them are enduring the commercials that are placed in these time slots.

I have learned more than I ever want to about mechanical pet pedicure wands, super-slurpy towels, and detox footpads that are curiously designed based on the theory that the base of our feet is an exit for body toxins the same way that a tree uses its root system. Except we don’t pee through our feet, do we? Not last time I checked, anyway.

The worst of this was one morning last week when I should have been able to watch People’s Court at 9 a.m. but instead the local station had pre-empted it for a full-length infomercial about bowel health.

Friday, April 11, 2008

The View from Landmark #5...

is a thing of beauty! It is likely that I will have to buy one or two other colors of fabric before all is said and done, if for no other reason that to prevent pooling, but I’ll postpone that until I know I have no other choice.

After a severe thunderstorm moved through the area yesterday, we have been left with high winds and plunging temps. There is even a good chance we’ll have some snow overnight. If they survive the next few days, I hope to take a few photos of the blossoms that have sprung open.

Tomorrow we officially begin the open house circuit.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Little Rock, Here we Come

As you may recall, the main reason that the Shirt off our Backs Rug has to be done weeks ahead of its Mother’s Day deadline, is that we will be in Arkansas for the official kick-off our our travel season. Many wonderful things have been planned for us once the tour begins, but since dulcimers, elephants, and presidential libraries apparently aren’t enough for us anymore, we are adding a self-designed pre-tour to the trip’s front end.

One stop will be the breathtaking Coleman Theatre off Route 66 in Miami, Oklahoma. I was there last year with a mob of fellow travel writers. Turns out that it has fantastic ghost story potential for the Strange But True Radio podcast I report for from time to time. Being that I was with a mob, and we had very little time - in part because I convinced the van drivers that I had to get back to Tulsa in time to meet Jules for what turned out to be a rather unfortunate raw chicken dinner (Congrats on the house move, BTW! JEALOUS!!), I made a mental note to return to Miami to do a private interview at a later date.

The next stops... well I can’t talk about that yet. Or rather I won’t talk about it. Let’s just say that it has to do with a new self-publishing business venture that meshes perfectly with our existing business but in many ways is scary and will involve lots of people, the stars aligning perfectly, and some rather expensive equipment.


Here’s a quick out-of-the-car-window photo I took of the “void” near my house. I never took the time to stop and stare down, so I can’t say for sure how deep it was, but judging by the look of astonishment on the workers that had been circled around staring down into the void a little earlier in the day, I’d say it was scary deep. Not a chuckhole or pothole, but an honest-to-goodness car-eating pit. Yesterday they fixed it by backing a cement truck up to the hole to fill it. I’m hoping that it will be cured in time to remove the lane closed sign from our yard by the weekend. That’s good, because the spring rains have come. Given one or two warm, sunny days and the grass will be in desperate need of a good mowing. Hard to do with a honking large temporary sign perched on the lawn.

And speaking of spring rains, this morning I accidentally stumbled upon the key to repulsing large groups of grown men. Our pussy willow has now gone to seed. Those lovely little tufts of creamy gray fuzz are now swollen and covered in pollen. And the torrential rain we had yesterday knocked many of these buds off the tree, littering the ground—and our car which was parked beneath. It was the strangest thing this morning to see groups of business men squinching their faces up into a sneer as they tried to figure out what disgusting larva-like creatures were that coated the hood of my car. Men as such babies!

And as for the locker hook rug, I have successfully reached Landmark #4 (26%). With only four more units necessary to reach Landmark #5 (33%), can completion be far behind?

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Locker Hook Love

The Shirt off our Backs rug is continuing to fill in nicely. Yesterday was a tad slow, but it completion is near enough that growing swaths of solid blocks hint at the appearance of the final rug. I have to say, I am in love with this rug. It has the distinct appearance of a quilt. My affection is as deep as the Mason-Dixon’s are to dishrags and log cabins. It’s not one I would want in my home (it’s not my style), but I am certain that the intended recipient will appreciate it beyond end.

Donated fabrics include T-shirt knits, terries, cotton weaves, micro fleece knits, and jean denim. I boosted the palette by purchasing some plain knits at Jo-Ann’s over the weekend. Having reached Landmark #3, I set the 4th goal aside to concentrate on color placement. Yesterday was denim day. That turned out to be brutally difficult. Those patches will wear like iron, I’m sure, but it felt like a full-body workout. In fact, I’ve developed a rather noticeable (and tender) impact injury to the inside of my right middle finger where the locker hook tool hits. So Tuesday’s fabric choice will be a gentle knit.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Landmark # 3 Achieved

With at least 3 units completed in every row and every column, that officially places me at the 20% mark. And I have about 3 1/2 weeks to finish it.

The center of the rug is fairly solidly built up now, but I’ve got quite a few rows/columns that only have three units, so it will be another week or so before I reach Landmark #4: having at least four completed units in every row and column.

Tomorrow marks the 75th anniversary of the end of prohibition. We plan to celebrate, of course.
Mini-Me, and Landmark #3

Today Michael is off spending the day with his “Dudes” and won’t return until after dark, so that officially makes it a Me Day, such as it is. What’s on tap for Me Day?

Reaching Landmark #3 on the Shirt off our Backs Rug (having at least 3 completed units in every row and every column),
Completing the center of the rug (because it will be increasingly difficult to access the center as the outer edges stiffen from completing units there),
Power washing the picket fence (it’s a great way to peel off failing paint, and re-painting the fence has moved to the top of the pre-move chore list, weather permitting),
Completing the ribbing on the 2nd V-neck cardi sleeve,
And spending about a half hour in the basement sorting and labeling drawers of screws, nails and other hardware detritus (also a pre-move chore). There’s hours of work that needs to be done down there, but a half an hour is all I can make myself do at one sitting.

There will also be some work-work, laundry, and litter pan disinfecting, but clearly those aren’t intended to be the highlights of the day.

There have been some exciting things happening in television land, at least as far as our viewing habits are concerned. Battlestar Galactica premiered a few nights ago. Things are definitely changing all around for this final season. I have no idea where this is going. We only have two more new episodes of Doctor Who and Torchwood on BBC America. Fortunately for us, the new season of Doctor Who begins on the Sci-fi channel in a few weeks, so there will be no gap for that series. Also, next week another Doctor Who spin-off series begins on Sci-fi: The Sara Jane Chronicles (I think that’s the name.) Friday’s are going to be jam-packed. And the new season of Wire in the Blood returns to BBC America tonight.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

One Task, One Extremely Long Day

As our free Saturdays flit away, we find we must make the most out of each and every one. That means chores. Pre-move chores to be specific. Task #1 today was to replace the light fixture in the dining room.

Isn’t it pretty?

You won’t be able to tell from the photo alone, but this baby is hung with cut lead crystal. Yep. All those dingly danglies that you see encircling this chandelier are cut lead crystal.

Of course, this isn’t the fixture that came with the house. When we bought this place the ceiling was covered with 1x1 acoustic tile with a small painted metal cone in the center that would have had a fixture suspended off of it at some point. No longer, though.

At about the time we bought this place, my grandparent’s antique shop was closing up. It was really a few years past close but they kept shop hours even though my grandmother was laying in a hospital bed in a back room, paralyzed and aphasic from a stroke years before. My grandfather continued to putter about, but the shop had really been hers. She was the brains of that operation, I dare say.

Back to the light fixture. So my grandmother had passed away, and my grandfather had to be moved to a home. My mother made a housewarming present to us of this lovely light fixture out of their shop. It has a smaller companion chandelier, too, but there were not enough unbroken crystals to make two complete chandeliers.

Having no fixtures in this house, a lovely lead crystal chandelier was a welcome gift.

Years later, almost every room has a fixture in the ceiling of one kind or another. Many are ones we purchased from antique shops and lovely matched to the time period of the home. But I never planned to sell this chandelier with the home. With a sale somewhat imminent, it was time to replace it. Not as easy as it sounds, trust me.

You see, our home is old enough that it was originally lit with gas. That means we have gas lines in the ceiling, and gas pipes descending down. Even though we’ve rewired, we don’t have electrical boxes for these ceiling fixtures. In fact, the chandelier hung off the old gas line. So putting up a modern fixture that is meant to attach to a box was a bit of a trick.


Two trips to Roach Hardware and four hours later, success!

Okay. Hampton Bay from Home Depot is no cut lead crystal chandelier, but it is another pre-move task completed.

Tomorrow: Mini-Me Day!

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Finished Object(let)

The back and two front panels of Bi-color Cables is officially complete! Yay me!!!

(Yes, I know. The lighting is horrible. But today is gray and dreary and I see no reason to wait for better conditions to photograph a project-in-progress.)

The project itself is still miles from completion with the sleeves, collar and buttons yet to be made; plus blocking, tons of seaming, and sewing in ends. Still, though, I look forward to the next steps.

The sleeves are one color only. That means no fighting with multiple balls of fiber that are bound and determined to tangle themselves into a big mess. And to ensure that I don’t have to mess with this mess, I will knit one sleeve at a time.

The collar is going to be a chore because I’ll be picking up stitches and wrangling with a large cardi that seems to love to join in on the tangle fun, giving the balls of fiber and loose ends a playground to romp around and through and between and... you get the idea. But at least at that point I will be cruising toward the finish line. There’s nothing like an end in sight to allow one to overlook knitterly frustrations.

But all that will have to wait. The V-neck cardi is also knit on those same Addi needles and it’s a bit further along, so I will cast on for the final sleeve tonight. Besides, we’re coming up on the one-year anniversary of when I bought the fiber for that project. While it will probably be too warm to wear it until next fall, it would be nice to have it done within that time frame.

And speaking of the V-neck cardi, I was bowled over this morning to see the shop where I bought that fiber mentioned on the Mason-Dixon blog. The Needle Lady is on the pedestrian mall in downtown Charlottesville. The store is well-stocked and the staff is super-nice. I definitely recommend that anyone visiting the Charlottesville area stop in and spend some time.

A few days ago I was struck again by the realization that we will soon be moving. I had taken Aspera to the vet to get a steroid shot after her annual vaccinations caused an allergic reaction. Shot done and recovery on the horizon, I pulled back in the drive and began unbuckling her crate from the back seat. That’s when I realized that, unless she gets sick, the next time I take her home from the vet will be at our new home.

As I wrote the check for our lease payment I realized that I only have five more checks to write. That’s five more months. I can count the months on one hand. And since we want to be moved out before the landlord starts showing our space to prospective new business renters, that means we only have about three months to find and buy our new home.

Even changing the light bulb in the pantry yesterday was an occasion to commemorate, because unless the specialized bulb I used is defective in some way, bulbs in that fixture generally last over a year. I guess there is no need to purchase a replacement to have on hand.


I’ll be sad to say goodbye to this home. Really.

In locker hook news, I have officially reached Landmark #2 which was to have at least two completed squares in every row and every column. I think you can guess what Landmark #3 will be. Anyway, I have done some rough calculations. If there are 15 units/squares in every row and I have now completed at least 2 units/squares in each row, that means I am at least 13% complete. Quite a few rows already have three and some have four or more, so 13% is a very conservative completion figure. That’s good because I have to have the rug finished by the end of April, and my completion percentage doesn’t factor in binding the raw edges.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Blog Fodder

As I mentioned in a post a few days ago, we have learned long ago that private businesses and government entities all but ignore our current neighborhood. You may have thought I was exaggerating, but fortunately city officials have provided me yet-another case to prove my point.

See this sign?

This is in our yard. It is a temporary sign, but large and metal, supported by an enormous X-frame base. And it’s in our yard. Like on the grass. You know, the grass that is starting to grow now that it is warming up?

The sign is one block west of small void in the street that has been coned off. For at least one entire week there has been no sign of activity around this void. No construction crew. No trucks.

And I think I’m being generous saying it has been at least a week, because the sign is clearly visible in photos I took of a street fight the Saturday of Easter weekend. (Don’t bother looking. I didn’t post about this. In spite of what you might think, I actually leave loads of stuff out of my blog.)

So anyway, the grass is growing and we’ll soon need to mow. And it got me thinking, if they haven’t done diddley or squat for over a week, chances are good that a whole ’nother week or two will pass with no activity. I picked up the phone and called the city to enquire as to the status of the project (street? water?). No one knew who belonged to the coned-off lane, but I was forwarded to the voice mail of a gentleman in the traffic engineering department. I left a detailed message. Four hours later I received a call from a very nice but slightly sheepish older gentleman.

It seems that someone dropped the ball. Someone found the void in the street and had cones and signs set up to redirect traffic. At that point they were supposed to notify another agency to begin repairs. That never happened. In fact, it was pretty clear from our conversation that if I hadn’t called, who knows how long it would have taken for someone to notice and begin work...

In Tutti news, my mother has thrown in the towel. There are various crises within our extended family that have priority over her time and attention, so she has now let Tutti’s minister know that she can no longer volunteer her time to shuttle Tutti to the store or doctor appointments. A second person within Tutti’s circle of friends has also thrown in the towel for completely unrelated reasons.

While the crisis that brought this situation to a head is never something anyone would wish for, it is at least a small blessing that it has shone a spotlight on the enormity of the Tutti situation. Tutti really needs to be moved to a home, and she has even made a decision about which of her three cats she will take with her. And, according to my mother, Tutti was very relieved that I said I would take responsibility for finding her other two cats good homes.

WHA??? I never said that!

Well what did you say, my mother asked?

I said to talk to me before someone takes them to a shelter or to a vet to be euthanized.

“Talk to me before” is miles apart from “take responsibility for.” MILES.


In travel-y news, our summer is filling up. Like something every month from May to September. Exactly when we will need to purchase a new home and move our home and office. Should be exciting!

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

The Transformation of one Shirt

The Shirt off our Backs rug continues to progress—slowly. In the meantime, I thought you would like to see a bit of action. Not 4th quarter NCAA action, certainly, but action of a much quieter, slower sort.

Here is a shirt. This one happens to be a souvenir from the Avalanche Ranch: A Wild Ride through God’s World, 2007 in a delightful orange sherbet color. This was a donation from a niece or nephew so I can’t be absolutely where or what Avalanche Ranch is, but it reeks of Branson, Missouri.

Anyway. Here is a shirt.

The T-shirt knit is fairly thin, so when I cut it into strips I make these strips fairly wide. If it were thicker fabric I would have cut it into thinner strips.

Now it’s time to locker hook it. The tool looks like a crochet hook on one end, and a large embroidery needle on the other.

First, I thread a piece of locker hook twine through the eye, then I secure the free end of the twine to the rug.

Second, I place a strip of the fabric along the back and use the hook to pull a loop of it to the surface.

Third, I thread the twine through the loop above the rug surface.

And lastly, I tug both the twine above and the fabric strip from below to snug both against the canvas surface.

I promise this would make sense if you were doing it.

Here it is as a finished square.

Oh, and this finished square means I have officially reached Landmark #1.

As for Landmark #2, I’ve decided that if Landmark #1 were to have at least 1 completed square in every row and every column, then Landmark #2 should be to have at least 2 completed squares in every row and every column.

I’m clever that way.