Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Meggie's grammar

Meg is not yet aware that the word "my" exists, preferring "mine" in all situations. This results in "I need mine apple juice!" So Shakespearean. I'm certainly not going to correct her.

She also has a stock response to "How are you?", which is "Doing well." It's charming when you ask how she personally is, funny when you're asking about a toy, and hilarious when you ask how her blueberries or chicken nuggets are. "They're doing well."

Monday, July 30, 2012

The cabbage

I hate it when I buy a cabbage and can't remember why. It must have seemed like a good idea at the time. In any event, there's an accusing, lonely cabbage in my fridge.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

What is a young hyperdrive made of?

That's what you are
What you will always be
Made of my dreams
Close as my heart to me
Bright as a star
Of love's sweet mystery
Here in my arms
Where you should always be
(Egregious Beach Boys lyrics brought to you by this page)

The question is what a hyperdrive is made of and how it works. I'm speaking from within the Star Wars world and its physics, incidentally, assuming it's like ours only more convenient from a narrative perspective. There are two main scenes I can think of dealing with hyperdrives within the canonical SW. The first is in Empire Strikes Back when R2D2 was repairing the Falcon's and there were wires everywhere. The other is in Zahn ("Heir to the Empire," chapters 16-17) when Luke's X-wing gets caught by a tractor beam, jumps free by backfiring the accelerator compensator, but the maneuver fries his hyperdrive and breaks down half a lightyear out.  Luke discovers that the hyperdrive motivators superconducting shields are each full of hairline fractures, and the parts inside are worthless without a shield.

What do we know about hyperdrives? They carry ships from point to point in space and the trips have duration relative to the distance, so it's not like L'Engle's tessering. They have a motivator with a shield and parts inside. Apparently it does not have miles of superconducting wire - R2 has to scavenge wire from the sensor jammer. And above all, hyperdrives don't work in gravity wells.

One of the few things we know about gravity is that (as far as we can tell) it extends everywhere at the same time, which is faster than the speed of light. This bears a striking resemblance to that other phenomenon, hyperdrives which move ships faster than the speed of light. So assume, for the sake of discussion, that gravity occupies a half-way dimension, partly in realspace and partly in hyperspace. And assume that there exist exotic particles which resonate with gravity and the gravitic dimension and can be harnessed to "jump" matter such as, oh, spaceships, between hyperspace and realspace. It's not a question of making your boat engine go fast enough. It's a question of getting into the right river.

Imagine a fluorescent light. It's a tube full of particles. When you excite the particles, they change states from off (off) to on (glowing). Suppose a hyperdrive is like that. You've got a superconductor, and inside is a tube full of exotic gravity-friendly particles which shift states. The motivator must be the thing that energizes the particles. There would be other parts that tune its frequencies and organize the emissions into a go-that-way stream vs. a random stream. Those are technical terms.

Gravity jams, or dampens, or messes with the vibrations of the exotic particles. It doesn't matter what the gravity's source is, whether it comes from a black hole, a planet, or a tractor beam. And, theoretically, there could be a whole nebula of similar exotic particles which you don't want to jump through in hyperspace because they might start resonating with your hyperdrive and change your vector, or stop you cold, or perhaps send half the nebula with you to your final destination. Or your very final destination, depending.

What do you think of the theory?

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Macbeth rises (in discussion)

Lars over at Brandywine is talking about Macbeth. Somebody tried to reconcile the Scots and Viking chronologies, but he doesn't buy it.  I'm inclined to agree with Lars because the odds of Macbeth dying in bed are so very, very low, but I know nothing whatever of the Orkneyinga Saga or Jarl Thorfinn, so there you have it.

I am, however, always happy to talk about Macbeth.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012


I'm on the lookout for a leopard-spotted bedspread for Meg's room. I'd like it to be classic brown spots, not black, purple, hot pink, or rainbow, though colorful trim might work. This season everyone seems to have zebras. It also needs to be machine washable. And not... ugly. I've been haunting Kohl's, Target, Wal-Mart, Ross', Marshall's, TJ Maxx, Bed Bath & Beyond, Sears, Ikea, and HomeGoods and haven't found one, so if anyone comes across a promising specimen, I'd love to hear about it.

I've considered making one myself out of two leopard flat sheets, or a leopard and a pink one, but I've never quilted* and that would be a lot of trouble. I would really rather buy one if possible.

*I did make a quilted potholder in fourth grade, but I knew more about sewing than my teacher and the potholder doesn't have enough stuffing to be used for holding hot pots. I don't think it counts. It makes for great padding between glass bowls, though.

Falling off a horse

I fell off a horse yesterday.  Poor Navarre spooked just as I asked him to trot, and he went one way and I went the other. I was wearing a helmet and Navarre is pretty short, as horses go, so I don't think there was any damage, but I'm here to say, landing on your backside is not romantic. It's a life experience -- hopefully a once-in-a-lifetime one!

I did get right back up and rode some more. I didn't want to, but it would have been too embarrassing to admit I hadn't. I've read books! I know what you're supposed to do!

Since I'm too sore to hoist her around today, Meg has had to take responsibility for things like crawling into and out of her own carseat and not leaping into the middle of my lap. She's doing an excellent job. She doesn't think much of it and so asked God to heal me, which I appreciated, but I think she was disappointed her prayer didn't take effect immediately. I kind of was disappointed, too.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Quote of the day

As Meg was packing her animals into a shoebox: "It's okay, Sukey. It'll just be a short trip. Squish! Squish!"

Friday, July 20, 2012

A reflection on parenting

Many things change after you have kids, which I expected, but one thing I did not expect was a multiplication of tubs of wet wipes. Wipes are wipes, yes? No.

No, we actually have four kinds of wipes at the moment. There are your common or garden wipes, useful for diaper changes and sticky hands. There are the flushable wipes, which help with potty training. There are the antibacterial Clorox wipes, which also help with potty training as well as more mundane things, like wiping up the sink after raw meat. And last but not least, I have some rather exotic makeup-removal wipes. That's new.

I could use cloths and cleaning solution for most of this. But frankly, I don't want to. Wipes don't generate extra laundry. Wipes are genius.

Life is weird.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

There goes that idea

The other day I was telling Jonathan I "needed" a particular kind of corset and speculating as to how hard it would be to acquire the supplies and make one.

Come to find out one of my bloggers has been making a corset all week. She's a much better seamstress than I am, and the short answer is: making corsetry looks really hard. It requires particular equipment with intimidating names and apparently requires a really long attention span, too. You probably even need scissors that cut in a straight line. Drat.

How not to fix a cowboy boot

Cowboy boots: good.
This is actually a two-parter post. A two-step, if you will.

Part One:
These are my cowboy boots I got in Amarillo back when I was in college. I outgrew them while Meg was on the way. This made me sad, because they're great boots.

Then I came across a thing on Pinterest claiming that if you use a little alcohol and a hair dryer, you can stretch out a too-small shoe. I thought it was worth a try.

Whiskey: bad.

I had a few drops of this Scottish whiskey left from our honey- moon and thought it was just too awesome not to try. So I put on two pairs of socks, my boots (with Jonathan's help), whiskeyed them up, and hair dried them.

And yes! It did help! The boots are a little snug, but much better. I can take them off all by myself now.

Part Two:
I went to my sister's baby shower and sat next to the Pink Pixie and her mother. They're shoe professionals, and I thought they would be interested in my cowboy boot fix.

Actually, horrified would be closer to it. Come to find out, you should NEVER put alcohol on shoes, especially leather - that way lies crackage and destruction and all bad things. You shouldn't bombard shoes with hot air, either.

The correct technique for stretching a shoe is to hit it with a hammer. Literally. You work the leather maybe while you're watching a movie and it softens up. Or you can just wear the shoes around the house with extra socks every day until they're comfortable.

When I protested, the Pixie assured me that good things come to those who wait.

Let that be a lesson not to believe DIYs you read on the internet.

Monday, July 16, 2012

How to fix a halter-top dress

Halter dresses annoy me. Probably it's just my girlish figure, but no matter how snugly it ought to fit, the back slides down and the strings dig into my neck and the skirt hangs asymmetrically in a not at all fashionable way. And, to top it all off, if I wear a tank or something underneath, the layers get tangled up whenever I try to adjust it.

I am therefore pleased to share my cure for the common halter. It involves safety pins.

1. Put on the dress. Untie the strings.
2. Pull each string over its respective shoulder, crossing them in the back.
3. Adjust until the length is right. Have your assistant/husband safety pin the strings to the back of the dress.


Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Dressing for the occasion

Due to a creditable threat of takeover by the dirty dishes and trash, I thought a spot of housewifery might be about due. So there I was scrubbing pots and growling at the jammed-up disposal, which hummed uselessly back, when I decided that this was ridiculous. Either I should do the thing cheerfully or not at all.

So I put on heels, a striped apron, and red lipstick, and started fishing. However, the disposal was unimpressed and stayed jammed. I think it's got a peach pit in its depths.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

"A house... a brick residence adjoining the palace... et cetera"

Right, about house-hunting. We have talked to a realtor and talked to a financial whiz loan person. We know our price bracket and are getting regular emails, and basically we're waiting for a suitable house to show up.

It can't be a townhouse or condo - it needs to be big enough to have family come stay with us without anyone sleeping on the couch or behind a pile of books - it needs enough yard for a patio and a garden and running around in - and I have to actually, you know, like it. I figure that's only fair, if we're going to be paying for it for the next thirty years. I'm also attached to functional roofing, plumbing, and wiring, but I hear this can be arranged, depending on your type of loan.

We also have a long list of wishes, starting with a Great Room suitable for banquets and impromptu plays and ending with a stream at the bottom of the garden.* I really want a house older than myself. Eccentric is good. I have an irrational prejudice against split-levels, and would actually prefer the kitchen not to have been remodeled recently, since I don't particularly care for current kitchen fashions and suspect it would just make it more expensive. But our wishes are more flexible.

The nice thing is God provided our current very nice apartment, and no doubt He will also provide a house in good time. I'm actually not worried about it. So we're waiting hopefully... and trying not to think about real estate prices in cheaper parts of the country!

*Unfortunately from a house-hunting perspective, I was raised on The Secret Garden and The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, and somehow enormous English manor houses keep hovering on my mental horizons. There are a lot of them around, too - a whole enclave just off Route 7. I think they all belong to DC multi-millionaires. I'm trying to fend them off with more realistic(?) visions of The Incredibles' tract house.


Mending is much easier than sewing from scratch. I love the whole instant-gratification thing: you sew about an inch, and whoosh! you can wear the whatever again. Today, for instance, I took up the shoulders of a too-long tank top, fixed a seam on Jonathan's suit pants, and reattached a button to a blazer. (It was an ugly button which I would like to replace someday, but it works.) Then I cut off a pair of too-short hand-me-down khaki pants, hemmed them, and created a pair of shorts. All this took about half an hour.

Patterns traditionally confuse me, so I've been experimenting. There was the Miami Mod dress, a hot pink and turquoise color-blocked little tent dress for which I figured out how to do a bodice lining. There was the Tilted Layers dress, which took about 11 hours and turned out accidentally Forties-esque, but cute. (Though Mom did ask, very kindly, if I'd like her to show me how to insert a zipper properly. Yes, but unfortunately now we're half a continent apart.) Then over the weekend I imitated a shirt I've got and made a little lined voile bat-wing top out of a very loud orange print.

I'm finally good enough, I think, to try a real pattern.

I've got about three yards of red broadcloth, a chunky zipper, and a pattern for an A-line sleeveless dress. Visions of Kate Spade and J. Crew have been dancing in my head.

So far, I've read through the pattern, looked up three technical terms I'd never heard of, and cut out the pattern pieces I need. At about an hour in, I'm about to unfold the fabric. I have high hopes that if I can make it once I'll be able to make it again... more quickly.

Monday, July 09, 2012

In everything give thanks. Literally.

Poor Tigger's tail got caught between Meg and the scissors. He had to go away and recuperate on a high shelf until I got a chance to make repairs. Last night I stitched up his lacerations and tucked him in with his sleeping lady, and when she woke up this morning there was much delight.

"Mommy stitched up Tigger's tail. That's kind of nice. SANK 'OO, LORD!"

Saturday, July 07, 2012

Fourth of July doings

Small-town fourths of July are a lot of fun, and they do them right in northern Virginia. We started by walking (!) over to the parade down King Street. It had the usual floats from the police, fire department, cub scouts, and Corvette clubs, plus a few from political campaigns. We noticed the same thing as Veith - some cheering for Romney's float, and dead silence for President Obama's! They also had some Celtic dancers, who were unfortunately not dancing, and some Bolivian folk dancers, who were. Meg contemplated their masks and headdresses and referred to them as "the monster dancers" for the rest of the day. I think the best one was Heritage High School's marching band. The bass drummer bringing up the rear danced all the way down the street. He was just having a great time.

That evening we joined my sister and her in-laws at the Purcellville fireworks. Their pre-show music was a swing band, a real live swing band run by a friend's father - fabulous. I actually got to dance with my husband. So cool. It was extremely muggy out and nearly a hundred degrees, but so worth it. I didn't quite talk him into practicing any aerials, though, because we saw some old friends were about to catch up with them.

Some other friends came over and told our group that they were predicting hail that evening. My immediate reaction was that they were talking crazy talk, but then the MC made an an announcement that a storm was blowing up, so they were going to start the fireworks a little early and recommended everyone go back to their cars to watch in case it started pouring.

We sat on the hood as they shot them off quickly. A cool breeze hit, bringing the temperature to very pleasant levels, and clouds started boiling over the horizon. Lightning strikes lit up the sky. Between the natural and human fireworks, Meg may never see a more dramatic display. I don't think she appreciated it properly. :-) The main storm passed to the south of us and never did pour. Or hail. It just gave us great fireworks.