Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Bad Kitty!

After cleaning up a very large 'deposit,' courtesy of Charley's queasy stomach, I can relate to these Very Bad Cats. Nineteen photos, including these two -- shame, shame.

Thanks, The Chive! 

And here are some Bad Dog photos, if you need them, too. (Poor Charles.) Like this one...

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Monday (Er, Tuesday) Stuff on the Way to Other Stuff: Busy, Busy, Busy

It's been a zany week...and it's only Tuesday! 

After spending last week in Michigan with The Mama, I flew back this morning...only to head straight to the elections building with The Brick. We both have jobs working for the election board -- nothing exciting, but it helps pay the bills, and gives us an extra cushion in savings. 
    Worship Team -- plus doing a second Worship Team gig for a friend -- and putting away a ton of hunting and quilting stuff will fill in any extra gaps. I made apple crisp tonight, from some of the 25 pounds of apples brought home from Michigan. That made The Brick very happy. (Here's my recipe, in case you're interested.)
    In addition, a South American acquaintance is stopping by this week, to pick up all the tricks and techniques I can jam into a day about quilt dating and restoration. 
    It will take work and careful scheduling, but it's worth it, just being able to be HOME. 

Guesstimating accurately at the cash register. (From Money Beagle)

Mom's chocolate chip pumpkin pie. (From Crazy for Crust)

'Things I find in the garbage:' a fascinating blog done by a Canadian on what he scavenges off the street -- and sells. (So far, his total is more than $15,000 for the year.)

A bigger Stuff column will be on its way next time...have a great week.

Michigan's beautiful in the fall

Friday, October 23, 2015

Family Fussing

As mentioned before, I'm in Michigan, checking on The Mama. Autumn colors here are lovely, though starting to fade...we've had some good days, driving around, stopping to eat, and visiting our two favorite places: fabric and thrift shops. (Got some good stuff, too.)

The Mama's health is not as bad as I feared. For one thing, she feels well enough to gripe about some of my cousins' attitudes and actions (stupid ones, she says). About this person who's an idiot, or that person who Should Have Known that if they did -----, then No Good Would Come of It.

I can only wonder what she'll say about us, after I go home. 

I come from a very opinionated family. Ever since I can remember, they've delighted in telling everyone else not only what to do -- but how to do it. The family line is chockful of teachers, writers, preachers, missionaries and other sorts, all big commuicators -- and not afraid to do so.

My dad dealt with this flurry of expression the wisest way:  by saying nothing. (Or very little.) Interestingly, he was also considered one of the wisest elders in the clan.

I have the bad habit of trying to play peacemaker -- I'll try to get the warring sides to talk to each other, without me in between. The Brick is famous for this, too. When you have people marching up to give their side of the story, you often have no choice.

Or I'll defend whatever person is being talked about. And I'll do it, whether I agree with that person's actions or not. It may be a kneejerk reaction to the trashtalk...or something else.There have been a number of times in my professional life that was my job -- to represent an individual or group, and act on their behalf. Whether I was 100% in agreement with them or not was irrelevant. It was what I'd been elected to do.

This drives The Mama crazy. So maybe that's why I do it, to keep my mom off-balance. Not that every kid in the universe (our daughters included) does this as a hobby...

The fall leaves continue to drift down, and the skies are overcast. Typical Michigan weather. I just have a little more time here to spend with The Mama, my brother and his family. Can I do it -- can I keep my mouth shut while they dither on? Can I behave? Can I restrain myself from pontificating and offering well-meant-but-uninvited advice?

 I am going to practice hard to take my dad's approach. Stay tuned.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Billy the Kid -- Playing Croquet?

One of the rarest photos in the world: Billy the Kid. For a long time, only one photo of this famous outlaw was thought to exist.
   The Kid, also known as William H. Bonney, was killed at age 21 by his friend, Sheriff Pat Garrett. (There's a whole story there...and it doesn't reflect that well on Garrett, either.)

Here's the best-known photo, courtesy of Wikipedia:

Handsome is as handsome does

Now another one has turned up -- with Billy and his friends playing croquet. You read that right -- not rustling cattle or in a blazing shootout. Nope, they're whacking balls around in a most civilized manner.

The photo was discovered by a man who bought it, along with two others, in a Fresno, CA junk shop for TWO BUCKS.

Estimated value:  $5 million.

Authenticating something like this is extremely difficult. But so far, facial recognition programs are agreeing. Several people known to have hung out with Billy are also in the photo. And Billy worked for an Englishman for a while. (This is stated as the reason for croquet...though my family, who are American through and through, often played croquet on hot summer nights. Whacking a little brother's ball into next week gave a gawky farm girl great pleasure.)

Take a look at the video above, and see what you think. (Maybe go play some croquet too, while you're pondering.)

Here's another Billy the Kid photo - claimed, at least. (I'm not so sure.)

Monday Stuff on the Way to Other Stuff: Fall-ing Twice

Our Colorado autumn is almost finished. It was too dry to be extra colorful, but lovely, nonetheless. It always is. 
    The Great Hunters got home late Wednesday night, grubby and tired...they saw many deer, but not a single elk. The Powers That Be in Colorado decided not to issue deer licenses for this area, of course. No doubt the local elk were laughing their heads off. 

We had a great time being Crazy at Holly's Quilt Cabin Saturday -- my students were VERY inventive with their fabrics and embellishments. I gave out a lot of spider and spiderweb embellishments and fabrics -- these represented good luck and good fortune to Far East --and to Victorian era quilters. Thanks for being so much fun to work with, ladies! 

    I head east soon to another celebration of autumn, this time with the Mama in Michigan. She still has health issues, but I'm hoping that some walking, good food and time together will help. Michigan's fall least, the area near Grand Rapids... is really starting to blaze out. I should see some good stuff. Meanwhile:

Taming your time online. (From J.D. Roth)

What happens when you co-sign on a loan? People never NOT pay...or do they? (From Making Sense of Cents)

Drinking chocolate -- hot chocolate made thick. I still have fond memories of the heavy-duty stuff Starbucks used to offer around the holidays. Oh my.  (From Crazy for Crust)

What it's like, working the Canadian election.  (From Living Rich on the Cheap)

How to make naan -- that crispy, warm Indian/Tibetan bread. Yum.

A vining shed's best in autumn.   (From Funky Junk Interiors)
    Great other times in the year, too.

And in honor of the Great Hunters, this intriguing video of a man rescuing tangled 'deers:'

Enjoy your Fall week.

Saturday, October 17, 2015


Not that Charley would EVER do this...

Love these dog memes. More for you here.


It's tough, entertaining a crowd --
    and when your budget is tight, it's even more difficult.

Thank goodness there are tricks you can use, that give an air of Gracious Living while still stretching your cash. One interesting idea? Homemade bread, especially when it's served steaming out of the oven, with butter and homemade jam close at hand. (So many people do NOT make their own bread anymore, that it's grown to be a luxury. If your time is tight, buy bread dough -- or try your favorite bread recipe and stash it uncooked in your freezer. Thaw before baking.) 

My secret weapon: roast chicken, especially when done bistro-style.


1 whole chicken (get the largest one possible)
olive oil
garlic salt/crumbled/whatever
assorted herbs
       (marjoram and oregano for a start -- add rosemary and sage, or just use 'Herbes de Provence')
1 lemon, cut in quarters

Rub chicken with olive oil, then sprinkle heavily with garlic and herbs. Pop in the lemon, plus sprigs of rosemary and sage, if you've got them. Bake at 400 degrees for at least 1 1/2 hours, until breast skin is brown. Check for doneness by plunging a knife into the leg, or breast meat -- juice should run clear, not red.
    Serves 4-8 people.

This is delicious with mashed potatoes. (Use the juices in the pan to make gravy, if you go that route.) Even easier, though, is serving it Mexican-style --
         *Carve chicken into smaller slices, and leave it in the roasting pan

         Serve with flour tortillas, bowls of grated cheese, lettuce, cut-up limes and the best fresh salsa you can get your hands on. (Have plenty of napkins handy.)

I've had this at several parties, and it is always a big hit. 

Other ideas:

*Light candles. For one thing, they hide the fact that it got too zany for you to sweep. Or dust. For another, they give a soft glow that's particularly appealing while you're sitting around after dessert.

*Add music. A mix preferably, but keep it low. No driving rock or classics -- Beethoven's Fifth will have to wait for another occasion.

*Start with soup. A thick, heavy soup full of potatoes, rice or veggies. Cream soups are especially effective. (Mushroom soup or clam chowder are special favorites around here.)
     It makes your meal look "fahncy," but best of all, keeps guests full enough that they don't scarf down the more expensive protein entree you're serving.

    Yes, homemade bread or rolls are the perfect add-on to this.

 Or think about a starting plate of appetizers. Frugal possibilities include:
          *Sliced vegetables (crudites, or "crew-di-tays," if you want to get snooty about it) --
                    whatever's in season, accompanied by ranch dressing
          *thin crackers or hard bread, thinly spread with mayonnaise, topped with a thin slice of onion, and baked until sizzling (James Beard swore by this simple appetizer -- it became his company's trademark dish)
          *wonton or eggroll skins -- filled with chopped veggies, grated cheese, single shrimps or even a chunk of hot dog -- or a combination, baked until sizzling (Grease the pan, or they'll stick)

Add these easy proscuitto and cheese appetizers. Yum. (Thanks, Cleverly Inspired.) 

Add a scoop of frozen yogurt, sherbet or ice cream (from the big gallon containers, but you don't have to tell your guests that), set out a platter of larger-sized cookies or brownies, and put the coffeepot on.

 You'll have made your guests very happy. 

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Wanna Learn How to Make A Crazy Quilt?

Want to learn how to make one several different ways, too?

I'll be teaching all the how-tos at
                             Holly's Quilt Cabin
                     8210 S. Holly St. in Centennial, CO

"Those Incredible Crazies"
          Saturday, Oct. 17    10 a.m. - 4 p.m. 

The class is pretty full, but there's room for more. And I'll be teaching the same class I teach at the big conferences...for a lot fewer people!

Mix of quick and traditional techniques for all skill levels
        --including embellishments tricks
                  AND an easy way to paint lace and fabric   (yes, it's colorfast, too)

Lots of discussion about the history and unique stories Crazies contain
    (think of them like a fabric scrapbook of the maker's favorite hopes, dreams and beliefs --
            because that's what they are)

Lots of freebies (ask anyone who's taken a class from me -- I'm famous for this!)

Dozens of samples for you to see, ranging from mid-19th century to modern

Supply list available -- handout (with patterns) comes free with the class.

And we'll be used my book Crazy Quilts as a starting/progressing point:

(You can see inside the book here....or just check it out during class.)

Go here for more...and to register.
     They're offering several other interesting classes, including hand piecing and quilting -- and developing your skills in paper foundation piecing, as well. (They just got done with a t-shirt quilt class that I'm certain they'll be offering again, too.)

Another Great One is Gone

Nancy Pearson died recently. 

She was 85 years old. (How can that be??)

One of our very best appliquers in the quilting world, she used a unique multi-layered approach to give her motifs (especially the florals she was so fond of) a natural, textured look. Sort of Baltimore Album, but much of her own original design.

When her death was mentioned on the professional teacher listserv I belong to, I was amazed at the outpouring of teachers who had taken classes -- and learned from her. (It's not often for us to get time to do to have so many professionals give homage is rare.) Nancy was an inspiring -- and humble -- teacher.

You can buy her excellent applique book for only a penny on Amazon! (She also sold applique patterns that appear now and then on Ebay and other spots.)

The interview she did for the Alliance for American Quilts is intriguing. Take a look.

And here's her obituary, courtesy of the Chicago Tribune. 

I never met her personally, but was a fan of her beautiful work. Inspired by it? Yes. (By inclination, though, I'm a piecer, not an appliquer.) The people who knew her speak of her with affection, as well as awe. And THAT doesn't happen much in the quilting world.

Rest in peace, Nancy Pearson. You've probably already started your next project. 

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Sea What You Can Learn?

Mental Floss is always entertaining...but even better, it makes you Learn Stuff.

Here's the latest:  Misconceptions about Oceans

Have fun!

Monday, October 12, 2015

Monday Stuff on the Way to Other Stuff: Hunting

Cooler chili, great stories and the smell of campfires scenting your heavy wool jacket. (Ok, a little sweat, too.) The chance to be up in those glorious mountains, with no rush to be anywhere. (Welcome to retirement.) Gunshots. And if you're lucky, the subtle movement of a bull elk as he steps out of the grove, aspen leaves shimmering as he moves.
    Welcome to hunting, Colorado-style.
The Great Hunters haven't gotten any opportunities yet, but we're hopeful. Meanwhile:

More on the latest Bigfoot (maybe) sighting! I had a chance to talk with Keith...

Ten weird nature developments -- including getting a chicken to walk like a dinosaur. (From Listverse) While you're at it, take a look at:

Ten unusual things about Einstein. The man designed a blouse? Made a MISTAKE?? (Or several.)

'The Idiot' thread. An interesting series of articles about a guy, his photographer wife...and some incredibly bad choices. (From Fabulously Broke) Which led me to:

The 'Laid Off and Looking Back' blog. A Wall Street Journal feature following the lives of several up-and-comers who have been looking for work. Or found it. Or didn't. Fascinating.

A couple's engagement announcement leads to ANOTHER announcement. Accidentally, kinda like.

29 'super creepy' Halloween foods for  your next party. (From WikiHow)

Two blasts from the past:
    A haunted stay at La Veta Inn
    Should you always believe what you're told?

Art as an 'alternative currency' -- other markets may be uncertain, but art auctions are going great guns. (From Appraiser Workshops -- appraisers reading this blog, take note. Lots of good stuff here.)

Ten lost treasures -- and how they're being recreated. (Including colored Roman statues and ancient beers. Hey, priorities.)

Dealing with jetlag -- how pilots and other airline employees conquer it. 

Have a great week. 

Friday, October 9, 2015

Hunting...and Hunting for the Temple

Up to our hips in sleeping bags and bright orange hunting gear...the Brick is headed out this weekend, Daughter #2 in tow, to see if he can fill his elk license.
     Daughter #1 is headed another direction, along with friends, to see if she can do the same! 

I watch everybody's dogs while they're gone, and hopefully get some work done, as well. If it runs true to form, there will be a warm hairy canine pile on the bed these weekend nights. It's getting chilly here. You want that -- the cold brings the snow in, and drives the animals down from high up. Makes the evening campfires more pleasant, too. 
    I have one pot of white chili done, fragrant with green chilies and chicken broth, pinto beans and tender chunks of white meat chicken. Red chili's next; that way, they can just heat it up when they get back to the camper, cold and hungry. 

Yes, I could go hunting, too. But the Brick loves being with his daughters -- and they enjoy spoiling him. And who would look after all those dogs...

Watch out, buddy...they're coming!

* * * * * * * * *

We just finished an incredible book: Temple by Robert Cornuke. A former criminal investigator, Cornuke has applied those skills to any number of Biblical mysteries, including the locations of Noah's Ark and the Ark of the Covenant. (No, Indiana Jones didn't get it right. The Ark of the Covenant, by all evidence, is being held secretly at a church in, of all places, Ethiopia, according to Cornuke.)

    His question: What if the original site of King Solomon's Temple, and Herod's after him, is NOT the Temple Mount?

Jews have been advocating to rebuild the Temple for generations, but one of the things stopping them is that the Temple Mount, also known as the "Noble Sanctuary" (and containing both the Dome of the Rock, shown above, as well as the Dome of the Chain) is also a sacred spot for Muslims. The rock in the center of the complex, the Foundation Stone, is said to have been where Mohammed's horse caught his hoof during a wild heavenward ride. But tradition also says that it was the site of Abraham's attempted sacrifice of Isaac -- and the Holy of Holies in the Jewish temple.

    The Wailing Wall nearby (also called the Western Wall, or "Kotel"), traditionally considered the last remnant of Herod's temple, has been the spot of prayers, music and worship for thousands of years -- including for reverent Jews who wish to rebuild. I had always wondered why the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem existed, when Jesus was quite clear that the Temple would be so destroyed that no stone would be left unturned.

         Cornuke's take on the matter: it's actually the wall of an ancient Roman fort! 

    If his conclusions are true -- and his evidence seems quite convincing -- then Solomon's Temple never occupied the site of the Temple Mount at all. The site is still in Jerusalem, but a considerable distance away.
     Which means it could be rebuilt with much less trouble than previously thought. 

Cornuke uses historical accounts (including Josephus) and recent archeological finds to make his point. (It will give you a whole new viewpoint on the classic hymn, 'There Is A Fountain Filled with Blood.' Just saying.)
            Surprisingly He. Makes. Sense.

There's more discussion about the Ark of the Covenant, too. This book is worth reading slowly, and discussing each chapter as you go.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

New Shipwreck Discoveries

Divers are back exploring an old shipwreck in the Antikythera, Greek Islands region...and finding unusual stuff. Game pieces (shades of the Lewis chessmen - a pawn was found), beautiful glassware -- even sections of a decorative armrest they believe was part of a throne!

The shipwreck was actually discovered around 1900 by fisherman. It dates to c.65 B.C., and has already produced a number of intriguing finds, including four large marble horse sculptures.

If you're wondering if this same wreck produced the Antikythera Mechanism, thought to be the world's oldest (though possibly not the first) analog're right.

Go here for more.       Who knows what else will turn up!

No, it's not this one...

Monday (Ok, Tuesday) Stuff On the Way to Other Stuff: Quietude

It looks like it will snow any second here -- but the mountains on the Western Slope are clear, and the weather apparently is sunny there. For now, at least. Go figure. 
    The Brick is full of himself -- we noticed an oven out on the curb by our neighbor's house, free for the taking. The neighbor told him nothing was wrong with it; they'd just updated their kitchen and gone to stainless steel, instead. (The oven is black.) 
     Mr. Engineer saw right away that it wasn't just an ordinary appliance -- it's a convection oven. He has been dying to try this type for ages; it's supposed to cook more evenly, and at lower temperatures. (The neighbor said, 'What's a convection oven?')
    Lots of panting, crashes and pans rattling are ensuing from the kitchen now, as our new 'purchase' gets put in place. Okay with me -- it's just in time for the Brick's new commitment to cook  supper every Monday night.

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

Apologies --  I  planned on getting this out sooner, but other things got in the way. We had a flurry of paperwork to be finished up for the Brick's retirement, and some other things. Business-wise, it's been extremely dead...but I am happy to report that the boatload-of-appraisals job (an appraisal day booked by a guild two years ago, who knows me well and insisted on my keeping the date) has been done for some time now. Other than a quickie appraisal or two and some orders, all's been quiet. 
      It's no fun to have your income go down. But it has given me some time to write in other areas -- and reflect on my dad, gone now for years.  A bluff, tough Dutch farmer, he didn't speak unless he absolutely had to. (Unless it was in private to his daughter about subjects ranging from the idiots in office to pioneer history, or the books they'd read together. Even to Bigfoot. Then he wouldn't shut up.) 
     He enjoyed saying, "I'm just a dumb Hollander," using that as an excuse for bowing out of commenting, giving talks, etc. Truth was, he was one of the smartest, wisest men I have ever known -- and a master at the art of listening.
     He knew his reputation for honesty and integrity preceded him. (That same reputation, he taught his children, was priceless -- worth more than any amount of money.) He knew some people were so busy shouting that they weren't listening for answers. And saying it loud, however effective in the short term, doesn't necessarily make it in the long run.
     When I was just starting out in this business, it was easy to be The Expert, making comments (sometimes loudly, I am sorry to say) on anything and everything. What I have learned over the years (thirty-plus as a teacher, more than a decade as a judge, and 18 1/2 years as an appraiser) is that experience, study and research count. A lot. Sometimes the wisest course is to say nothing at all. 

      Thanks, Dad. I miss you more each day. See you soon.  

One possibility for paying your student loans back even faster: refinancing. (From the Penny Hoarder)

Dealing with unintended consequences. From J.D. Roth, the founder of Get Rich Slowly. Although I don't agree with all of his decisions, he's a thoughtful writer who deserves to be heard. Think about subscribing to his new site, Money Boss -- there's a link in this post.

The verdict on Burger King's Halloween Whopper.


'Amazing Race' past winners pass along helpful tips.

Ghost-shaped rice krispie treats...just in time for Halloween. (From Who Needs A Cape)

Doing it -- but doing it on your own. (From Funky Junk Interiors)

A fishtank in the shower?? Yes, in this 200 sq. ft. tiny house in the Ukraine. (From Treehugger)

And in honor of the Brick's (and Daughter #2's) upcoming hunting trip:

Have a great week -- and stay warm. 

Saturday, October 3, 2015

A New Bigfoot Development!

I collect all things Bigfoot. Experience-wise, that is.

Other than bits and pieces here and there, I haven't had much to consider --
     except Daughter #2's personal experience last year. 
         Which was scary enough.

This year, she and partner Keith were out bowhunting in the boonies...
    Keith even went back to what they now refer to as "Sasquatch Mountain."

     No weird sounds, no wood-knocking, no upright-crunching-sounds-around-the-tent.

Until Keith went back a second time this weekend...
    And lo and behold, what did he find crossing the trail?

This footprint. 

(Btw, Keith's boot here is about a man's 10 1/2.)

Either someone with Really Big Feet is wandering around barefoot in the back boonies --
       or something interesting is happening.

At the very least, you can see the pretty golden leaves. Maybe Mr. S. is like Ferdinand the Bull...except instead of sitting and smelling the pretty flowers, he likes aspen. Who knows.

I'll keep you posted.

It's not this guy. Not Abby the dog, either.

UPDATE:  Had a chance to ask Daughter #2 more about the Bigfoot Footprint. Keith found it approx. 100 yards from his tent, way in the backcountry. He did not notice any other prints. (And took this photo, I suspect, because I've been pestering the poor guy for more BF evidence.)

AN UPDATE TO THE UPDATE:  Talked to Keith himself...exhausted and fighting the flu. (Poor guy.) He had another interesting visitor to his tent, late at night. Something heavy walked around his tent, and 'nudged' the tent wall. It wasn't elk -- they visited later that night -- but K. thought it might have been a bear. (Although he wasn't at all sure Whatever It Was walked on all fours.) Or...?

A Saturday Song

The fall colors were good, especially above Georgetown...but we have rain coming in. Not like the East Coast, but a lot, for Colorado. Wind's coming with it -- the Brick and I got caught in a wonderful shower of falling gold aspen leaves. Very cool.

Traffic will be horrible this weekend up in the mountains, if it's true to form. You may want to stay home, instead:

Nimoy, you silly man. I'll bet you loved doing this!
(By the way, that's Bruno Mars himself exiting the grocery store as Nimoy walks in.)

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Discouraged...and Encouraged

Warning: some 'gripe, moan, complain' stuff coming.

Why does it take so dingdang long to finish things?!?

Why can't we get out to the mountains to see the fall colors?!
      (Because we can't finish our work, that's why.)

Why can't the Brick completely get rid of this pesky infection?

And why am I fighting feeling blue...


Actually, life IS going better. It's been a month since the Brick retired, and our bills are paid. Our projections are on spec, in spite of slower business, and a laptop crash -- with the subsequent need for new software and a battery. (Oh yes, a new cellphone, too. The Brick had to return his to the school district.)

I am nearly done with deadlines and paperwork. (The restoration jobs are not finished yet.) The last appraisal report is waiting to have photos added...and I have some appointments with a gallery to finalize. (I'm getting ready to start a new part of my business, too...will tell you about that shortly.)
     Plus a TON of putting-stuff-away.

We just got the last seasons of Walking Dead and Person of Interest, as well -- so there's something to watch while the stitching and paperwork gets finished up.

It could always be worse.  And...

At least it's the loveliest season to do it in.

Now I've bored the fur off myself, let's talk about something nicer: the wonderful autumn. We may not have the East Coast's heartstopping reds and oranges, but we do just fine in the golden department. Take a look here -- you'll find all sorts of Colorado webcams to let you see what's going on.  

Look quick, though -- our fall colors are nearly finished.