Monday, September 27, 2010

Un Gouter Léger, Délicieux TM

There is no doubt: one of the perks of travel is periodic access to a wider assortment of food than one has at home. Like the curry Pringles potato chips I bought (and savored) on a trip through Ireland a few years ago. Yes we have Pringles, but apparently the higher-ups don’t think Americans have the buds for curry. Whatever.

This trip included one overnight in Canada. The city itself wasn’t much to write home about. It was very much an industrial working port town serving only the Canadian equivalent of Budweiser products. But that didn’t stop us from swinging by the town Safeway before heading south to peruse their candy aisle. We came away cash-light, but chocolate blessed.

I have never heard of a few of these. Others I occasionally see at places like World Market, but they are heavily marked up there, and not nearly as fun as buying them in their native habitat.

And now that I’ve written this blog post, the candy is eligible for tasting!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Travel Means...

...watching grown men in pressed business suits eating bowl after bowl of Fruit Loops for breakfast.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Henry James Abandoned in the Rain

What kind of person carries a beat-up paperback of Henry James’ work, and then abandons it at a roadside picnic area? Was it purposeful or accidental? That I’ll never know, but I imagine the reader owns at least two articles of clothing made of hemp and has a golden retriever that was waiting patiently in the car. Am I wrong?

Another scene from the damp day:

Which ended with a bowl of authentic Tim Horton’s chili:

Where am I? Or more importantly, will I ever be finished with this damn sock?!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

I Hear Tell

There’s fall color in the woods outside my window. But we’ve been driving in a torrential downpour for hours on end, and it’s a whopping 46° outside. On days like this there is only one way to end it properly:

Bailey’s Irish Cream Coffee.

Here’s hoping for less rain and more knitting tomorrow!
Traveling Means...

...sometimes finding oneself knitting a sock in a tavern knitting.

I’ve got a load of knitting projects with me, but am only making micro-progress on Priority Project #1. Sometime this afternoon I’ll put that pesky work to the side so I can finally concentrate on what really matters.

Coming soon: Fall color.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

An Observation During Travel

Stopped in a Wendy’s for lunch yesterday to escape a flooding rain. The seating for the entire restaurant—tables and chairs—were noticeably scaled down as though they’d been constructed for a grade school.

Note the average size men in the photo have to pull their feet backward when they sit.

My question: did the restaurant chain scale down its seating to make the scaled-down-food-portions less noticeable? I mean, I don’t refer to the Jr. Bacon Cheeseburger as a slider for nothin’.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

It’s Official:

Liming a rotting skunk carcass is one of my least favorite Sunday afternoon activities!

My hope is that the lime will keep the odor down until we’re able to put it in the landfill, which due to scheduling conflicts won’t be for another two weeks.

And yes, I absolutely know not to handle the remains. It will be scooped up with a shovel and then tossed into a double layer trash bag. Considering that this is likely the skunk we saw shortly after dawn a few weeks ago, I have reason to be suspicious about rabies. Good reason.
Someone’s Idea of a Perfect Friday

We planned several weeks ago to attend this weekend’s Audio Video sale at the local fairgrounds. The sale is a fundraiser for an audio reader service for the visually impaired. That’s the charitable aspect of the event. But truth be told, for us it was an opportunity to rifle through boxes and boxes of LPs, CDs, and audio equipment.

We bought tickets early, showed up at the door a week early (that was unintentionally early), then showed up at the door about half an hour early the actual night the sale began. Even though we were plenty early, the line was already 30 people deep and growing fast. Dare I say it? I-fell-down. Hard.

Michael headed toward the a/v equipment while I made a beeline for the LPs. I have, shall we say, an eclectic taste in music. I like all music depending on my mood and the place with the exception of Chinese opera. That meant that I first hit the folk bin, then world, and finally jazz. I stopped only because my arms were full and so were Michael’s. I don’t choose music in any kind of logical reasoned way. I don’t research. I don’t ask friends or family. That is how I ended up with a copy of Air Supply’s The One That You Love.

(I never want a replay of that disaster again.)

No. It’s more like I pick up a vibration from the package. It might be something about the name, or a hint in the album art, or mention of a particular instrument. It’s by this method that I have found some of my all-time favorite LPs and CDs, such as Red Rice by Eliza Carthy.

The sale continued Saturday, with Saturday admission being free. On Saturday afternoon everything is marked down. Going early meant not only was I paying “full” price, but also paying for the privilege of getting first pick.

I remarked that I was really glad that we got there early because by the time things are marked down, it’s pretty much down to the dregs. Michael responded that a lot of the things I picked out would probably still have been there on Saturday because most people would consider them to be dregs. I gotta admit: He had a point.

Over the next few weeks I’ll tell you about some items from the newest additions to my LP collection. There will be hits. There will be misses.

First up: The Mellow Guitar Moods of Los Indios Tabajaras.

I definitely put this in the “hit” category. It has exactly the mood and flavor that I was hoping for—very Retro Cocktail Hour-ish.

I couldn’t find a song from my particular album online, but I did find this one, which is very representative of my collection:

More highlights will follow in the next few months.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

White Dogs et al

Today, I had a two-hour interview with two master distillers, sampled a white dog (whiskey before it’s aged in a barrel), and discovered this in a regional grocery store:

Yep, those are Banquet pot pies - except they are fruit. Apple, Cherry Berry or Peach Pie anyone?

Travel is awesome!
Where am I?

Any guesses? No?

For now let’s just say I’m traveling. With sock, of course!

Thursday, September 09, 2010


I finished writing an article about Christmas, spent a rainy afternoon hunting down the grave markers of victims of a Civil War massacre, and came home to find a very healthy bobcat in my yard.

I wonder what life is like for “normal” people?

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Yesterday’s Big Events

1) I bought needles to cast on for a pair of men’s size twelve socks. I’m trying not to think about that too much.

2) I spotted a neighbor stalking a mole with a pitchfork. I left the area before anything too dramatic happened.

Sunday, September 05, 2010


Two days ago a door-to-door subscription salesman (who is at least a decade older than me) called me “Ma” repeatedly. He seemed to think I would find it endearing.

Yesterday an aging relative gave me an unsolicited bag of fabric remnants that his wife had sent along. The fabric reeks like a wolf has been using it for bedding for several decades, which I happen to know is quite literally the truth.


Thursday, September 02, 2010

The Downside and Upside of 5 Hours

Five hours out of one very busy day eaten up in the service waiting room of the car dealership.

Five hours of substantial unbroken knitting time on the birthday sock.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Winter Quilt Status Update

“This is why God invented batiks - to fill in the gaps”
—Kathy Barland, Sarah’s Fabrics August 25, 2010

It has been a long time in the making, this quilt. So long in the making that I should probably refresh your memory.

Quilting on Rails is inspired by the Australian Rail Fence quilt in Beth Ann William’s book, A World of Quilts. Meant to be a winter quilt for my bed, I opted for colors and patterns that were symbolic of that time of year without being too literal.

The original pattern called for ethnic-print fabrics, and I liked the balance of the tones of the author’s example as it rolled across the quilt. My challenge became to replicate that balance without replicating the prints - which would have been impossible even if I’d wanted to - which I didn’t.

To achieve this, I looked at each fabric that the author used, and translated that into a word. Predominantly light fabrics became snow or frost words. Dark became night. Richer colors became fire. You get the idea. Later when I was searching for the fabric, I searched not for colors or patterns, but fabrics that represented that word. Inputting the information on the visual side of my brain, translating it to the verbal, then re-outputting it in the visual side, allowed me to reach for unorthodox prints and combinations that work brilliantly as a whole. The quilt has movement and energy. If I had searched for wintry fabrics that “worked well together” I have little doubt the result would have been static and literal. Thankfully you will find no Christmas trees, snowmen, or holly leaves here.

Piecing this center frame of the quilt was a mighty challenge. Tons of cutting. Tons of sewing. Tons of cutting what I’d sewn then re-piecing and sewing. Then the quilt was set aside while I concentrated on season-specific tasks outside. There are still more of these to be done, but “Me Time” (aka hand quilting marathon time) is fast approaching with multi-state travel between now and then. As the process of tugging and straightening a king-sized quilt to create a sandwich ready to be quilted, is minimally a two-person task, I have been forced to move finishing the topper to the top (pun intended) of my task list.

When I picked the project up again, I needed to trim the outer edges of the interior pieced panel, and find an appropriate border fabric. For this I went to Sarah’s in Lawrence and sought the help of Kathy Barland, who has become my lifeline in so many things sewing. She is brilliant and funny. And perhaps most importantly, she has become a cheerleader and champion of my feeble efforts both in clothing and quilts.

She oo’d and ah’d over the topper-in-progress, which I really needed at that moment. I have found myself too close to the project. I picked the fabrics and colors, so one would assume that I picked fabrics that I liked or even loved. But surprisingly that wasn’t the case 100% of the time. There are prints in this topper that disappoint me. But I bought them because they serve an important function within the color play. And truth be told, if I loved all the fabrics that I used, then they would all be shouting for attention to the point that none of them would get it. No, I have some superior prints, and some subordinate prints. And for this quilt, that is exactly what was needed. But up until she brought it up, my eye and brain carried too much of the memory of the large swatches of less-loved prints to be able to truly appreciate the finished look.

Kathy tirelessly pulled bolt after bolt off their shelves looking for a fabric that would provide just the right note, factoring in the obnoxiously large amount of fabric that I requested. Ultimately she ended up with this gorgeous green batik that contains many of the same colors and rhythms of my pieced panel. I can’t imagine that a more perfect fabric exists in the world than this.

After washing and ironing, but before I put scissors to fabric, I laid the border fabric along an edge and slept on it (not literally).

While it was absolutely perfect, something was bugging me. Something small and yet big. When I got up the next morning I dug out some leftover strips of one of my “night” fabrics, and placed it as a frame between the pieced panel and border. That was exactly what it needed.

I attached the black frame and mitered the corners, then tested the size on the bed before cutting the border. You know. Just to be sure.

A little more cutting... A little more sewing... and voilá:

One quilt topper.

Another day of work in my sewing room to cut and sew the backing fabric, then carefully pin the sandwich together...

...and it is ready to be handquilted this October in front a crackling fire - presumably with lots of steaming cups of coffee, and several dozen low-budget movies. What a perfect way to spend fall!