Monday, October 31, 2011

Fifteen Worst Movie Mistakes

Check out this not-meant-to-be-funny-but-is slideshow of some of moviedom's stupidest mistakes. Side-switching moles, windows that magically repair themselves...but my favorite is the guy with white t-shirt, hat and sunglasses seen for a moment behind Johnny Depp in Pirates of the Caribbean. Oops!

A'Hunting, We Are Done

...with no furry animal accompanying us home. The Brick and Daughter #2 got shots at a gawky young buck, who just stood there while they were shooting at him. (Saying "Duh," according to D#2.) And a smarter, much larger buck, who took off during the shooting, then surprised the pop out of D#2, who'd tracked him around the hill, and expected him to keep going. She couldn't get a shot off again before he'd loped off.
    Ah well. They were shooting at 500 yards, which is Really Far.
We had a strange mix of environments. The first half of the week was dry and almost warm. (Didn't see a thing, except for two moose, a fox and a boatload of chipmunks.) The second part of the week began with a two-foot fall of snow and temperatures that plunged. Saw more animals, particularly toward the end of the week -- but still not at many as hoped for.  We saw few animals hanging in camps, and the hunters we talked to had also seen few animals, except for the very last day or two. Where did they go -- Florida??
    And no elk. Not one. (According to D#2, they have cloaking devices, a la Star Trek.)

Top that off with waking up to see your breath pluming out in a cloud in the camper. (Temps ranged from -12 to a high of 26, until almost the last day.) The first cup of coffee suddenly becomes necessary for fighting off frostbite, and wet boots (not to mention a wet sleeping bag, which I had nearly all week) become a Big Problem.
    It's either mud or snow -- or mud underneath the snow. An outfitter's tent, which the Brick had offered to bring out for a fellow worker, was found crushed and useless, the broken tent poles poking up through the fabric. We crashed through the ruts, and slid up steep trails, the mud on the wheels competing with the mud on the roads. More often than not, the Jeep needed to get chained up to make it up. (Not hills, for those of you further back east -- mountains. We camped at 8000 ft, and most of the hunting went as high as 10,200 ft. What are termed "mountains" back east are speed bumps, Colorado-style.)
    Then the denoument -- the Jeep broke down while we were there. Thankfully, the Brick and D#2 were able to nurse it to Silverthorne to have the left front axle replaced. ($450 and change.) It still needs the front drive shaft, which will enable four-wheel drive again. (At least another $350, plus whatever it costs to get it installed.)

But that doesn't mention what we did enjoy about the trip: being together, and talking as much as we wanted. Incredible scenery, with often a wall of fog that heralded the day and gradually faded out of the valley as the mountains sharpened in detail. No business worries for any of us -- and time to study and make plans.
    I loved that.

   I also loved going to the hot springs (Hot Sulphur Springs resort was on our way home). Taking that first luxurious hot shower, and sleeping in my own bed. Waking up to the smell of hot coffee (which I didn't have to boil in a greasy pan) and Charley le chien bouncing around. Reading the paper and chatting to the Brick nearby, toes warm. Being back online.
   All good things, too.

The 'waterfall' pool was incredible at the Hot Sulphur Springs resort, with a dozen-plus more pools to choose from. Try it with a snowbank nearby, and your nose wrinkling in the cold air...aaahhh.

Friday, October 21, 2011

A-Hunting We Will Go

The Brick and Daughter #2, with yours truly in tow, are headed out to the wilds of Colorado. Hopefully in a week we will be bringing home a few hairy friends for dinner!

It will be snowing at least a few days next week, but we've got a camper and plenty of canned beef stew to keep us warm.  (Plus you never change clothes, anyways -- just add a few layers on top.)

I am not sure about the internet status in the boonies. We might be able to pick up some wifi, but who knows. (Bear with me if I don't post much -- it's not from being a slacker.)

Have a good weekend yerself, and enjoy this lovely fall weather.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Squash Update

The garden is finally at rest, thanks to a few nights of heavy frost, and a trace of snowfall. Just in time, too -- those four silly squash plants, in the less than two weeks since I'd stripped the vines clean, set FIFTY-FOUR babies!

If these guys ever get their acts together and learn how to vote (or run) for President, we are in trouble. Big trouble. 

Oops. better not talk too loud...they might hear, and alert the mint, which has also had dreams of grandeur and conquest. (I also got a colander full of beans.)

Little Secrets

All of us have our little odd quirks, stuff that may surprise even ourselves -- if we let ourselves admit it!

I have a confession to make.

I am a huge fan of gollowing all the various and sundry ways Lindsay Lohan can get herself into trouble. TMZ's the best place to watch; so far, 'ol Linds has gotten drunk, done drugs (and hung out with people who do), shoplifted, and picked fights with everything from celebrities to the poor aide at the Betty Ford clinic who tried to give her a breathalyzer test. (Our Heroine tried to sneak back in from a drinking session, and got caught.)

Currently she's in really big trouble -- she went back to court, after flunking out of her community service requirement. Boy, was the judge ticked. Now Lindsay's set to volunteer at the morgue, every day until her Nov. 2 court hearing, she says, to prove that she really means to complete her probation. Otherwise, she's probably headed back to jail. Go here for the latest.

Oh, and she also wears really cute clothes.

I know. This is a sick hobby. 

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

It's been a long week in the neighborhood. I've been manning the insurance office of friends who are on vacation in Florida. Decs, deletes, additions, payments -- it's been surprisingly busy. Tomorrow is more of same, including working on a website. So apologies for being quiet; I'm still here, but just haven't been able to access my blog. More soon.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Home Again

Woke up this morning, with an uneasy sense. Someone was in bed with me! Then I relaxed. Of course he was -- it was the Brick!
     Gee, it's nice to be home.
     I got back late last night, to an effusive greeting from the Brick and a so-so from Charley. ("So you're back. Big deal. When are ya gonna leave again?!!") This morning, Sir Charles acted more enthusiastic, especially after the first in a series of snacks off the breakfast table.
     It is glorious here right now -- warm enough for shorts, mild breeze, bright sun bouncing off the fall leaves...and increasingly large clouds. A cold front will be moving in tonight, and by Tuesday, we've got a hard frost threatening. In spite of the snow and cold temps a few weeks ago, and no protection (or attention) from the Brick or yours truly since then, my beans and squash are STILL alive and producing! Amazing. I'll pick them one more time, then bless them (well, maybe not the squash) and tell them to go in peace.
     Gee, it's nice to be home. 

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

It's Beautiful Here in the Desert

The 'barn' where I'm staying with Joline and Neil is surrounded by sage, cactus, brush..and a heck of a lot of sand. Mountains ring the horizon all around, and in the morning, the sky is a clear, clean blue above. Sure, it's been hot during the day: 90 degrees today. But at night, it cools down and a million stars come out to join the moon. It's full, and the coyotes know it -- they've been yipping and howling all evening.

Once you get used to the idea of less grass and more cactus, it's a lovely place here. Incredibly peaceful, and not much light. (The observatory up in the mountains requires shielded lights, when there are any. Mostly, the roads around here in Tucson are just. plain. dark.)

I've been having a great time with the members of the Tucson Quilters Guild. I've rarely been treated with more generosity and kindness than here, and it's been a balm. Tomorrow, a class full of students and yours truly will be wading through a bunch of ways to make a little Crazy. Not to mention act like one.

It's late; hopefully the coyotes have gone on their way. I'll trot out to the Jeep, grab more fabrics for the kits...then get some sleep.

Postscript: Do not read about scary Bigfoot encounters before heading outside to the car late at night, with a full moon making everything eerie. Be sure to wear sandals, even if it just looks like nice soft ground out there. You will find every sandburr the hard way, otherwise.
 Don't ask how I know.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Bigfoot Rides -- Oops, Walks -- Again??

I drove into my hostess' driveway last night about 11:30 p.m. her time...slept in (luxury), then had a nice crunchy BLT for breakfast/lunch. (Tell you more tonight.) Leaving shortly to help with errands, then do the "Quilts With Secrets" lecture for the Tucson Quilters Guild. Come join us!

While I'm doing that, though, consider the evidence some scientists are using to announce they've actually found Bigfoot in Soviet Russia. Even though I strongly believe that there IS a
Mr. S(ausquatch) out there, I've got my doubts with this one -- the footprints are too small and squatty, compared to others documented. (Maybe it's a baby?) Also, they say they've found a den and 'markers' (I'm assuming urine spots). Maybe the DNA will prove something... but that's all stuff other researchers have been mentioning for decades. Personally, I think Mr. S. is some kind of undiscovered giant gorilla/monkey breed.
    Combine that with the rather silly videos Huffington Post included on this site -- mixing in some authentic BF calls, plus an unnerving true 911 incident, with some obvious fake camera footage. All it does is make fun of the truly deserving "incidents and allegations." (to take a page from Paul Simon) So what do you end up with? A laugh and the thought...

    Big Hairy Deal.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Getting Ready for Tucson...And Hunting

I may be packing Crazy kits for the gig in Arizona...but the Brick's heart is already out in Silverthorne, looking for that "turdy point buck." He and friend Tommy are going to have female company this year -- both girlies and yours truly are already planning to go. (We'll leave just a few days after I get back.) Tommy enjoys bossing the "women" around -- I said I'd cook supper and breakfast for him, but he'd have to make his own darn sandwiches. Poor baby.
    Hopefully it won't degenerate into the second week of deer camp.

   In the meantime, if you're near Tucscon, I'd love to have you join me! Two lectures on "Quilts With Secrets," plus two different classes on Crazy quiltmaking -- take a gander at the Tucscon Quilt Guild's website for more.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Jingle Bells...and Other Weather Observations

It may be warm and sunny in your neck of the woods, but here on the scrape-edge of the Rockies, we've got snow. Light flakes, lots of them and coming fast. (Take a look here, if you're curious. More of Colorado on these cams.) No doubt the squash is biding its time under the snow, and dreaming of world domination next year.

The Powers That Be (the same ones that prophesied only rain today) are saying we're going to get a "Double Dip Nina" winter, with extra wind and moisture on the Flatlands, instead of mostly up in the mountains. It was pretty dry around here last winter. Growing up in Michigan, where you sometimes got your mail by reaching down into the mailbox, snow's not that big a deal to me.

What I wouldn't be thrilled by would be the lack of fresh stuff. Several times in past winters (especially the Really Bad Winter of three years ago), we would have multi-day storms, and the grocery shelves would promptly empty of fresh milk and eggs. That doesn't seem like much, until you remember that one of these storms came just before Christmas, when many people were doing their holiday baking. During one trip to the store, Daughter #1 found a dozen eggs hidden in a grocery case, and practically got mugged before she made it to the checkout counter.

This year, I've got lots of dried and shelf-stable milk. The Brick remembers egg powder from his years in the Navy; where in the world would I find that stuff at King Soopers?

Thursday, October 6, 2011


The wind has been roaring around the house all day, bringing in a storm -- and a freeze. Daughter #2 said it's been snowing at her cabin in the mountains. I wouldn't be surprised if we got some this weekend, too.
    I went out and stripped the garden -- the squash must have had 20 little guys on the vine, and still valiantly trying to produce. (Hopefully they are not conspiring with the mint to throw us off the property.) Total count on squash: approx. 20 big ones, and 30 little ones. All this from four plants!
    I also got a third of a colander of green beans in various sizes. Chopped them and the little squash up, dumped them in boiling water to blanch, then quickly drained them. Packed in quart bags for the freezer, they'll make a nice addition to vegetable soups this winter.
    Must have done a little too much, though, because the fever's back again. I need to get this flu under control before teaching next week. A good friend brought over a kettle of chicken soup, with celery, onion, carrot and a surprising punch of fresh basil. We've been living on it for the past few days while I try to rest up between chores.
     Comfort food sounds so good, while it's this blowsy. This blogger has some great ideas. I'm also a big fan of chuck steak or round steak, sliced and a can of mushroom soup added, along with a can of milk or water. (Wine's good, too.) Add any veggies you want (like squash!) and cook on low in  your crockpot for 5-8 hours. Delicious with mashed potatoes.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Yet Another Look At UGRR's 'Quilt Code'

In case, you're wondering, that stands for the "quilt code" that Jacqueline Tobin's book, Hidden in Plain View, promoted -- that slaves stitched motifs and designs in quilts that specifically pointed out escape routes via the Underground Railroad.

     A wonderful story. I wish it were true.

Unfortunately, far too many societies and groups (including the National Park Service) were quick to leap onto the idea, without fact-checking. Another group, the Powers That Be in Nashville, TN, approved a public art project (proposed by an Iowa artist) that would have slapped 'quilt code' motifs down the side of a public bridge. Fortunately, quilt historians found out in time to protest -- now the bridge will just have traditional quilt motifs, without the UGRR connection.

A similar problem happened in New York City, with the planned installation of a statue of Frederick Douglass -- displayed on a foundation of 'quilt code' motifs. (The motifs have been scrapped, but Douglass's statue has been finished and is on display.)

Tobin and her colleague, Raymond Dobard, protest that the book was based on one family's recollections. (Actually, one elderly lady's - who may or may not have made up the story in order to sell more quilts. That lady died before the book even came out.) If it were true for one family, then wouldn't it technically be true -- period?? (Tobin said something similar to me once, when I sat next to her at a book signing.)
     The struggle that historians have with the idea can be explained in one word: EVIDENCE. There are no extant quilts that support the theory. (On the other hand, they would have just looked like sampler quilts, with nothing to suggest that they meant anything.) Although I have seen at least two oral accounts that may be referring to 'quilts in code,' the allusions are sparse and vague. Nowhere is there a strong, provable piece of evidence that "quilt codes" were actually used. (Read Barbara Brackman's take on the subject here -- thanks, Barbara, for mentioning this.)
     Tobin and Dobard have not helped their case with the illustrations chosen for Hidden in Plain View: several of the motifs chosen (including the Sailboat and Dresden Plate) weren't even made during the Civil War period! (At least not one quilt, so far, has surfaced with those patterns from that time period, even though they were designated as important symbols, according to the book. When I mentioned this to Jacqueline, she said, "Oh, I didn't choose those -- my editor did." Huh?)

One thing gives me pause -- the testimony of Cuesta Benberry. She was an thoughtful, educated historian who felt there was something to the "quilt codes" theory.  According to Cuesta, Hidden in Plain View actually had a great deal more evidence that couldn't be fit into the book, due to space. She also said to me once, "If it's true for one family, wouldn't it be considered true?"

    My respect for Cuesta, now gone, doesn't let me dismiss this fascinating theory -- but I'd take any 'stories' about it with more than a grain of salt.

Decorating for Halloween - Or Not

Less than a week before leaving for Tucson -- too bad the flu hasn't got the message yet. It comes, it goes. And in between, I try to get stuff done.

    But one thing on the list, so far, is NOT Halloween decorating. Not that I wouldn't enjoy it; trick-or-treating was a happy part of my childhood, and the girlies also enjoyed it when they were little.
    The Brick, however, has been uneasy about Halloween's witchly origins (not that I can't say I wasn't, too). He feels so strongly about this that we stopped decorating more than a decade ago. Pumpkins and autumn stuff, yes. But no cobwebs, no black, no skeletons.

    A shame, because there are really some clever ideas out there right now -- like this front door/porch array. Or Ms. Golightly's take on Halloween decor, a la thrift shop. (No wonder Halloween is becoming one of the resale market's hottest holidays.)
     Not to mention the chance to act like a zombie.
    On Halloween night, we'll stay home to hand out candy (and often watch a scary movie). But that's the extent of it. I guess I shouldn't feel too bad -- at least we admit we're home.

And as Aunt Purl points out, it's less than 80 days to Christmas.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

The Squash Monster Strikes!

The garden continues to produce seasonally wayyyy past  I can ever remember, after more than a quarter-decade in Colorado. (In fact, we're up for breaking a 110-year-plus record in temperature: the highest ever in Oct was 10/2/1892, 90 degrees. No cold snap in sight.) Beans, tomatoes (little ones, anyways), and the biggest problem children: squash.
    Our three or four plants have produced literally dozens of pattypan squash. I tried giving some to the neighbors, but they've retaliated by giving back bags of their own yellow crookneck and butternut squash! (The stinkers.)
    No zucchini, darn it. Our plants did not do well, and it's been just cold enough at night that the zukes have stopped producing so much. I know how to use this veg: we can never get enough of it dipped in egg, breaded in cornmeal/flour, then fried. Crispy, salty, moist as you crunch through the coating -- yum.
    The problem is that I'm running out of ways to cook the 'other' squash! I've tried baking them, with mushy results. Next was dicing and throwing them into soup or stew -- not too bad. (Thought I'd experiment with vegetarian gumbo, or maybe ratatouille next.)
    We enjoy acorn squash stuffed with sausage, then baked. I'm not so sure this will work with pattypan, but I'm getting desperate enough to try anything at this point. My Hollander/Scotch forebears would be greatly upset if any of these veggies went to waste. Suggestions?

 See the white guy at right? Mr. Pattypan, thinking of more ways to put the Brick kitchen in an uproar.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Fall-ing in Love Here in Colorado

Our recent cooler temps have produced a flood of fall colors. In Colorado, it's not the heartbreaking reds and bright oranges Michigan and other states produce -- but we get more than our share of glorious soft oranges and bright golds, with a touch now and then of red thrown in. Add in the mountains and huge banks of wheeling puffy clouds, and you've got a Fall to love.
    Lordy, I am fond of this time of year. Not too hot, not really that cold, shatteringly lovely. And a bit serene -- the football games have started up again (Go Blue! Michigan beat Minnesota 58-0!), there's no push for the holidays yet, and things have calmed down some. I can snuggle with the Brick an hour or two without feeling too guilty. And there are days to stay home and get work done. (Yes, the flu is hanging on some...but I do feel better.)
    One more week, then leaving for the Tucson Quilt Guild in Arizona. The classes are all Crazy; one's nearly full, but the other has some spots left. If you're interested, let them know! (You can reach them via the Brickworks schedule page.)
     Hope you're enjoying your own Fall weather. Take it now -- you-know-what is coming soon.