Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Queen for a Leap Day

Today, after an offhand Facebook status (Since this is sort of an "extra" day, and it's going to storm anyway, who is in favor of taking the day off? If I were Queen, I'd make it so, but since I'm not, guess I better get going! Make it a good Wednesday, friends!), I was elected/selected Queen by my peers.

So, I've been giving this a lot of thought, and have come up with the following rules and regulations; you are welcome to come stay, if you will abide by the following:

  • Be nice or go home
  • Work hard at work you love, and produce something good every day
  • Read.  Preferably in a comfy chair
  • No whining
  • Listen to lovely music
  • Vacation like the French, nap like the Spanish and have a lovely cup of tea each afternoon like the British.
  • Government subsidized corgis for everyone
  • Tip at least 20%
  • Bike!  If you can't bike, you must drive a Mini Cooper
  • Make art.  Enjoy art
  • No smoking.  (Sorry, my queendom, my rules)
  • Knit a little, if you can
  • Share
  • Sit down to supper each evening with people you love
  • 8 glasses of water a day, 8 hours of sleep
  • Never complain
  • Limited 15 minutes per day cell phone use; no texting
  • Throw a party as often as possible
  • No littering
  • Love with all your heart
  • Garden and keep a few chickens in the back yard
  • No political/religious/ethnic/hurtful jokes or commentary
  • Do something nice for someone else.  Every day.  Mandatory

So, when it's your turn to be Queen (or King), how will your little corner of the Earth look?


Thursday, February 23, 2012

Lenten Give and Take -- 40 Bags in 40 Days

So have you heard of this 40 Bags in 40 Days program?  Lots of bloggers are talking about it -- look here for an example.  It's a way to de-clutter your home, 1 bag of  stuff at a time, 40 days in a row.

I think it's a fantastic idea for those who have stick-to-it-tiveness, which as you know, I don't.  I also believe that clearing your home of clutter is a pathway to peace -- at least that's what I try to tell the people I live with.

I think I am going to try this, in my own inconsistent way.  It may not happen 40 times during Lent, and you know I wouldn't be able to stick to a  cool chart, but I think I have a plan.

In my work, I visit Provisions food pantry and Anchor House Shelter at least once a week.  It really wouldn't be any big deal to take a bag of groceries with me each time I go.

My friends at Knit Night love sharing yarn -- taking a plastic sack of yarn with me each time we meet during Lent will significantly reduce my yarn inventory. (In the past, I had a bad habit of buying yarn without a specific project in mind, just because it was pretty or on sale.  I've gotten much better about this, but still have some  a lot to share!)

I have some books to put in a bag and take to the Friends of the Library book sale.

I have a stack of Country Living and Martha magazines I could take to the Lutheran Home.

I could take a bag of cookies to my neighbors.

I should take a bag of coins (collected from the bottom of my purse and the floor of my car) to church to put in the Change Haiti collection.

And of course, if forced, I could clean something and take a bag of stuff to Goodwill.

A bagful of Peace.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Thoughts on Lent, More or Less

I'll just confess it now.

I'm lousy at Lent.
Much in the same way I'm lousy at New Year's Resolutions, willpower and self discipline.

Which is why my butt is the size it is, my teeth aren't sparkly white and why my bed goes unmade most days.

I've been a Catholic for almost 28 years now, but I would wager a guess that I haven't successfully navigated even one Lenten season having fulfilled my promises.  I blow it every time.

And not because I want to -- I just do.

I have a lot of respect for those who give up dessert, TV, Facebook or coffee for the entire duration of Lent -- good for them -- that must feel fantastic.  But I've found that for me, "giving up" something doesn't seem to draw me closer to Jesus, it just makes me cranky.

So I have adopted a more-or-less attitude about Lent, which seems to work pretty well for me:

Less taking, more giving
Less sitting, more walking
Less coffee, more water
Less complaining, more enjoying
Less spending, more saving
Less hating, more loving
Less TV, more reading
Less talking, more thinking
Less mess, more cleaning

I'm not making any promises about blogging daily (because you know, that's a self-discipline thing) but I am thinking about writing on each of these.  Stay tuned.  


Saturday, February 18, 2012

School Auction!

As promised, here are the things I made for the annual auction:

This is my first quilt made with my new machine.  I didn't have a pattern, just an idea from some other banner quilts I have seen recently, and of course, those fantastic Japanese travel-inspired fabrics -- Parisian landmarks, Hawaiian hula dancers, Eskimo children, subway maps, London double-decker buses and Japanese geisha girls!  (I think this quilt is headed to a new baby in Michigan, whose parents were in the Peace Corps - perfect!  I had bought the fabrics with a quilt for my little friend, Georgie, in mind -- I had started a sweater for him when he was born, but he has grown like a weed and I thought a quilt would be a wiser choice -- I have plenty of fabric to re-create this quilt for him.  Plus, knowing his family, I think as he grows he will appreciate the worldly theme of this quilt!)  I machine appliqued the flags onto the white backing, then appliqued on bias tape for the ribbon.  I cut out the letters with my Cricut (not sure I'll do that again -- I think I have better luck hand-cutting them with freezer paper) and appliqued them on, then machine quilted around everything.

 The backing is a piece I've had for a few years -- "hello" in many languages -- and the binding is a Russian-inspired print.  

Speaking of Russia, this babushka quilt is my own design, too.  When  Clay goes to Russia,  he brings home vodka and matryoshka dolls, which I just love (the dolls, not the vodka).  The fruit fabric in this quilt is a collection I've had for probably 10 years; I had planned on doing a basket block with each of the fruit designs, but never got around to that -- so, the fabric was perfect for this quilt, and I wish I had another 1/2 yard of each so I could make another quilt just like this one!

Each of the dolls has a little pocket, and I embroidered their mouths and french knot eyes, then added a little colored pencil blush on their cheeks.

 I added a strip-pieced strip (!) on the back for a little color, then quilted in lots and lots of curly-q's -- I didn't quilt over the doll appliques, though -- I'm not sure if I should have or not.  Hmmm.  I need a lot more practice with free-motion quilting, but was happy with how these first attempts turned out.

Yet another stocking in the Cascade pattern:
 I knit up one Christmas stocking for the auction, and gave a certificate for three more.  After my friend, Barb, had the winning bid, two more people came and asked me if I could knit them a set of stockings for their families, too -- of course I will, but I should have offered to teach them to knit!

For the dessert auction, I made our famous Pinkalicous cupcakes.


Heavy Sigh

Mr. Engineered4Life left at 4:45 this morning for 3 -- count 'em, 3 -- weeks away on business.  One week in Japan, 1 week in India, 1 week in China.

Oh, I'll be fine. The bills are paid, my car got the once-over, the water softener is filled, the furnace filters changed.

And I have Will and Zoe to keep me company.  I won't be lonely.

And I have plenty to do.  In fact, I have planned extra stuff for myself during these three weeks, outside of work and regularly scheduled events such as laundry and dishes.  I plan to clean the basement, read 2 novels, lose 10 pounds, knit at least one sock, learn to play the fiddle, finish revisions on Chuck's book and work on my own book.

(I believe in setting my goals high.  If I at least get Chuck's book done and go on a couple of walks with Zoe, I'll be happy.)

But I will miss my friend.  I'll miss him at the school auction tonight and the Lenten Friday fish frys.  I'll miss him sitting on the couch with me and watching the Oscars.  I'll miss him on Will's birthday.  I'll miss him making coffee for me in the mornings and supper in the evenings.  I'll miss telling him about all the crazy stuff that happens during my day, and listening to him laugh.  Oh, cell phones are great, and I am thankful that we're able to talk every day, but it's just not the same now, is it?

Three weeks is a long time to be separated from the one you love.  It seems even longer when you're separated from the one you like, as well.  You know what I mean?


PS As I was writing this post, I got a call from Chuck -- he is sending me a big box of revisions plus a DVD on the Korean War.  Plenty to do!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

I'm Recruiting Bloggers . . .

I don't have many spare moments to blog this week, but promise you some good pictures as soon as I get my school auction items completed. 

In the interim, I'd like to introduce you to a new blogger who I am pretty crazy about; he blogs at engineered4life


Sunday, February 12, 2012

Back to Happy

Here is some good stuff, to calm my spirit and re-center on the happy.

- Mr. Fix-it has the coffee maker back up and running.  How I love coffee him.

- Being with Purdue friends last Friday night.  We grab every opportunity to be with them.  Love our Purdue friends.

- Knit Night.  Six years now, and it never gets old -- always some new knitters, new projects, plus old friends and good old patterns!  Love my KN friends.

- Kitchen Therapy.  Friday mornings in the school kitchen are the greatest cure for what ails me.  Love my St. A friends.  Even Doug.

- Adele will be singing at the Grammys!  Setting the DVR for her 60 Minutes intereview, too.

- An Excellent Book.  I finished Caleb's Crossing last week.  Read it.

- A Birthday Week.  Little Nate turned 6 yesterday, Big Nate turned 28.  We celebrate together tomorrow.

- Sewing.  My cranky machine had been taking the fun right out of sewing and making me curse (OK, so it doesn't take much). So, thanks to my new job, I saved some $ and bought myself a new machine:

Fun sewing.  No more cursing.  Project pictures soon.


Thursday, February 9, 2012

Why Am I So Cranky?

Reading over my last two posts, I realize I used the term "asshole" in each of them.  Sorry -- that's not very ladylike.  I'm not sorry I used the term, though, I'm just sorry it's not ladylike.

You know me.  I try so very hard to be happy:  Life is good.  Look on the bright side.  Count your blessings.

But this week, I'm just feeling cranky.

It might be because I broke our coffee maker.
It might be because Clay is getting ready to leave for 3 weeks.
It might be because this weird weather is making my head throb 24/7.
It might be because I am still having a bit of trouble with time management -- I haven't come to a peaceful spot in this "working/housework/writing/other stuff I love to do" world I now find myself in.

But I really think it's because I am so tired of people being cruel to each other.

And I am particularly tired of people being cruel to others in the name of my pal, Jesus.

This means you, One Million Moms.  (I'm not going to link up to their site or the FB page, because I don't want to expose you to any meanies.)  And that's what they are.  Big meanies, aka bullies.

Because anyone who loudly pronounces universal judgments about others because of their race, ethnicity or sexual preference is nothing but a bully.  And bullies who hide behind the "Christian" label are my least favorite bullies of all.  I think the OMMs know this, but let me make it clear -- Jesus wasn't a bully.  And he didn't particularly care for those who were.  AND, he had a very soft spot and loving heart for those who were bullied.  That's why I love him so.

I read the One Million Mom site.  I've read their successes.  One of their recent victories is having convinced several advertisers to withdraw their commercials from the "Modern Family" episode where the toddler Lily keeps using the f-word.

I don't know about you, but if I raise children who are loving toward all people, not judgmental of those who are different than them, and giving of themselves to the betterment of humanity, I could care less if they drop the f-bomb now and then.  (OK, maybe not when they were 3, but you know what I mean.)

And I would bet you almost One Million Bucks that when Ellen Degeneres films her JC Penney ads, she won't mention being gay.  Not once.  Kind of like how Clint Eastwood didn't mention that he was heterosexual in the Super Bowl ad Sunday evening (greatest man in the best commercial of the night, IMO, followed closely by the VW dog, who didn't mention his sexuality, either).

So here's what I would say to the OMM's -- turn off the TV and quit shopping at JCP if you don't like it that Ellen is their new spokeswoman.   Or, on the other hand, maybe watch a few episodes of her show so that you can see how loving, kind and generous she is.

And take a look at another Million Moms -- the ones who have taken the challenge to make life a little easier for pregnant moms in third world countries.

Because this cruel shit really has to stop.   Before my head explodes.


Saturday, February 4, 2012

The Dirty Little Pink Ribbon -- My Komen/Planned Parenthood Rant

This morning, during Good Morning, America, I read on the news scroll that Planned Parenthood was "pleased with the Komen Foundation's decision to restore funding to Planned Parenthood."

Well, I'm not pleased.  Not one little bit.

Honestly, I have been at odds with Komen for some time; I am baffled and angry that they continue to accept money from corporations whose products and/or ingredients are antithetical to good health -- breast health in particular.  Don't get me started on Yoplait or KFC (because I've ranted about them before, here and here.)  And I don't know who was asleep at the wheel of the Good Ship Komen when they rolled out their signature fragrance, "Promises"; do these girls not read?  Don't they know that for years women have been warned of the possible link between the chemicals in perfumes and cancer?  Good grief -- even if all that research would be disproven tomorrow, wouldn't you think a Foundation focused on cancer prevention would take a wide, wide tack around an association with a product that could be a carcinogen?

And I'm not crazy about how they spend our money.  If Komen really is "for the cure", don't you think they should spend more than 20% of their yearly income on research?  According to their latest published report, they gave only 13% toward screening services and only 5% on treatment.

Their biggest slice of the pie  -- 40% -- goes toward public health education, also known as "awareness".

If there is still a woman in the US who isn't aware of breast cancer, roll the rock off of her and send her to me -- I can educate her for $0.0 in about 5 minutes.

It's time to flip those numbers around -- how about 5% for awareness and 40% for research?  Send back all those barrels of pink ink that packaging companies use in October and use the refunds for mammograms.  And someone tell those guys in the NFL that they can quit wearing silly pink sweatbands and footwear; we are all quite aware.  Give all that money spent on the pink gear to women who can't afford their chemo, because we get it.  Breast cancer is bad, pink is good.

But just because pink is good, don't use the ribbon willy-nilly for your fund raiser, and don't even THINK about dubbing your event "for the cure"; even if it is for lung cancer, or prostate cancer or toenail cancer, Komen will sue your ass.  Aren't we all in this together?  Apparently not, if you step on their trademarked motto or logo.  They will spend a million dollars a year to make sure that you don't try to sell "Cupcakes for the Cure" at your local bake sale.

I will admit to being a huge fan of Komen until just a few years ago; walking in the Race for the Cure let me do something to remember my mom, raise awareness, give a little $ to an important cause and fill my closet with t-shirts from the events.  And I greatly admired Nancy Brinker, and her promise to her dying sister that she would work for an end to breast cancer, and not quit until there was a cure.  And even though I could say some pretty rotten things about her, I won't, because I try really hard not to be mean to others.

I guess that's part of what I promised my mother when she was dying of breast cancer -- I promised I would take care of myself and my family, do self-exams, get yearly mammograms and play nice with others.

But Komen has forgotten how to play nice with others.  Even when those others are women who desperately need the funding Komen can provide.  Even when the only place those women can find the care they need is at Planned Parenthood.

As a Catholic, I know I'm not supposed to say nice things about Planned Parenthood.  For the record, and to hopefully keep my Catholic card punched, let me say right here that I am against abortion, and look for the day when no pregnant woman would see abortion as her only, final choice.

But unlike my Catholic brothers who make the rules, I believe that the best way to prevent abortions is through education and (watch out, I'm going to say it) birth control.  And I believe that the agency who best knows how to disperse sex education and birth control is Planned Parenthood.

I know, I know.  It's a tricky, labyrinthine slope leading straight to hell that I am treading upon.   But I believe that if I proclaim that I am "pro-life," that means I have to be pro-all life.  I have to be pro-life for death row inmates (which I most certainly am), and pro-life for assholes who make even bigger assholes of themselves by spouting their asshole agendas outside military funerals (which I most certainly am not pro-, and hope to someday be forgiven for loving them not one little bit).  It means I am pro-unborn babies, but I also must be pro-their sweet, scared moms, whether or not they choose to have their babies.  

And to me, what is most important is that I must be pro-life for those people who are not privileged to have access to shelter, food, education and healthcare.  I can't fix all their lives, but like my hero, Mother Teresa (who was firmly anti-abortion and would probably wag her finger at me for this blog post) said, with love, I can do what little I can do.  And if that means supporting an agency like Planned Parenthood, which has a great potentional to fix lives, then I will.

Komen's transparently insincere re-funding of Planned Parenthood will probably do some good for a lot of women, so I guess I should just shut up and let it be.  But I'm just tired of Komen and their kidnapping of breast cancer to the benefit of their bank accounts, "corporate branding" and political agenda.  I am sick, sick, sick to death of the politicizing of women's health issues.

When the pink ribbon gets political, as it did this week, it's no longer a sweet symbol of solidarity among all women  -- it's a dirtied little reminder of what happens when corporations and politicians make pacts to "benefit" one another instead of benefiting those they claim to serve.  I just can't wear it any more.  And you can't know just how very sad that makes me.