Thursday, August 30, 2012

I emerge from the sewing table to report

My marathon sewing weekend has lasted all week. So far, I've finished that red dress (yes!), made a skirt, hemmed a pair of Jonathan's pants, made a fuzzy bright blue elf coat for Meg that only needs about 5 more inches of pompoms sewn on, started revamping a clearance sequined shirt*, and boldly attempted a nightgown. The nightie failed pretty epically, like one of those legendary Pinterest fails, but one's artistic vision must be allowed to bloom, to range freely! The true chef must be willing to try things that do not work. Anyone can cook - only the fearless can become great!

Ahem. I fell into Ratatouille there for a minute. It's been a pretty productive week, sartorially speaking, except for the nightie. I have also schemed up about four more projects that I may or may not get to before I have to put the sewing machine away. We might decide we want that table for eating or something ridiculous like that.

*This shirt is a really darling turquoise with silver sequins in a chevron pattern (trend alert: check, check, check, and check), but it's one of those cropped swing tops that are enormously wide. It would cover about two of me... call it one and a half. Me and Meg.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Meg quotes

Meg was describing the picture on the card to me. Jonathan was halfway across the room on the computer. "And I believe that is an ostrich. He's turning the light on and off! He's using his nose since he doesn't have no hands."

Reflexively and in unison, despite the fact he wasn't even paying attention, Jonathan and I both said, "Doesn't have any hands." Some corrections are so deep-rooted we don't even need to rehearse. :-) Incidentally, DRAT that Mr. Lunt. I don't care what VeggieTales thought they were doing: they are teaching my daughter lousy grammar.

Then tonight I was putting Meg to bed. She yelped, "No! Not yet! I need--" and looked wildly around the room for inspiration! I enjoy these iconic parenting moments.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

I was noticing Black Widow

On Saturday we got to go on a date and see The Avengers again. This time I noticed that Black Widow's character was subtler than I'd realized. She's actually quite feminine, especially considering she's a spy and assassin who beats people up regularly. I think you could say she has weaponized her femininity.

She always conducts her interrogations from a posture of vulnerability, making her target think he's in control, and finding out exactly what she wants before regaining control of the conversation. She did it to the Russian arms dealer in her first scene (so funny), and she did it again to Loki, leaving him gaping like a fish. "Thank you for your cooperation."

Do you remember in Mr. & Mrs. Smith, how Mrs. Smith always seemed so insecure? She just couldn't bear to let Mr. Smith have a bigger gun. She couldn't let anyone else be or even feel in control. She refused to follow anyone's orders. She had to prove that she was just as good and better than any man, at any cost, and to the point that anything traditionally feminine was a very serious threat. I feel like a lot of female superheros have a similar problem.

Black Widow has a very similar "specific skill set" to Mrs. Smith, but she really didn't have those issues. I wonder if it has anything to do with her Russian background? She usually carried a small gun. She didn't make a fuss about it, but she tended to cooperate with other people's battle plans, even when the other person was male. She made peace within the group. She persuaded whenever possible, instead of starting with violence. She was willing to hostess people around the airship and perform secretary-ish jobs that could have been considered beneath her dignity. She let other people do their thing, and she accomplished her thing very well, very creatively, and not remotely the way a man would do it. Also, she was a lot of fun to watch on-screen. I think Joss Whedon did a great job with her.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The white ice skates of happiness

Of all things, the thrift store had a pair of little ice skates this morning! They're white with red edging and a double blade and are about two sizes too big for Meg, which in my opinion is just about perfect: she might get to wear them for two winters. I already have a pair of white ice skates which I haven't used since Meg came along. Now we can both go.

There's a rink in Ashburn which has free admission for the three-and-under crowd. Skate rentals are usually $4. According to my calculations, since we've both got skates now, we can both get in for $8. I think her 20%-off-$7.50 skates are going to earn their keep very quickly.

I love finding treasures.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Green means go!

Meg has been paying close attention to traffic lights, and always tells us whether it's time to stop or go. But tonight she was very disappointed. The light turned green instead of pink.

Weekend doings

This weekend we went adventure camping on Assateague, almost looked at a half-a-duplex that sold in about 24 hours of coming on the market, and (just now) discovered that the line between a fancy French cream sauce and a not fancy at all Western white gravy is really, really thin. It's good, whichever it is. I put sage in it. I hope someday to have a house of our own to make it in. Or, of course, I could take the fixings and make it over a Sterno stove while camping, but that doesn't sound very probable.

Also today I was brave and got back up on a horse. Charlie's a good horse, but he doesn't believe in "slow" and he's not as smooth and short and, well, slow as Navarre. But all went well.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Munch, munch, said the black hole

As a star gets sucked into a black hole, it sends out an oscillation or "quasiperiodic wobble" that we can pick up on earth.

"You can think of it as hearing the star scream as it gets devoured, if you like," says the astronomer who co-authored the paper. The scream was an ultra-low D sharp.

The illustrated Dante

Someone has gone to the trouble of illustrating Dante's Divine Comedy as a manga. You too can now read it as a comic strip with the dialogue of Cary's and Longfellow's translations. It's kind of... helpful, actually. Also odd.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Meg meets the LOTR characters

"That's Sauron. He looks upset. He must be out of coffee." Jonathan

"No, Uruk-Hai, not Mordecai. Trust me, they're different." Jonathan

"A man with a sword... an elf with a shield... and three brave hobbits." Jonathan
"Let's count them! One, two, three!" Meg

However, I am slightly heartbroken, because after seeing Lord of the Rings pictures she started singing songs from the VeggieTales "Lord of the Beans." We have failed her.

Thursday, August 09, 2012

The eggs

Also today, I was amused at the difference between my and Meg's approaches to putting the Easter eggs away in their carton.

I arrange them in rainbow order in matched pairs and then go hunting around the house for the missing yellow one.

Meg comes behind me and fixes them so they're all turned right side up. Then she moves them around, puts smaller toys inside them, and might add in an egg from another set (heresy!). She also makes sure that the stuffed animals watching are in straight lines.

Then I come behind her and put them back in color order.

We deserve each other.

Breaking news: not going to offer on that house

It was a nice possibility but not, we think, for us. When we considered the numbers, there seemed to be a lot of zeros and eights. In the wrong places, I mean. We don't object to the number eight per se. Also, the kitchen didn't have room for a dishwasher, and I'm kind of spoiled that way.

Thanks for your interest and concern, everybody! Keep sending us possibilities, but don't mind if I take one look at the price tag and laugh. I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Sweater and skirt

I've put the red dress on hold for now and have been finishing up other projects that have been lying around.

This first is a sweater I crocheted for Meg. It's kind of got a crocheted-afghan vibe, no doubt due to the use of the classic afghan double crochet stitch.  I made it in four pieces, front, back, and sleeves, and then whipstitched it together, single-crocheted around the neckline, and embroidered a mouse. Done.

The second project was a full purple skirt for myself. I made it last winter, but it was too big and I didn't like it, so I partly disassembled it and left it in pieces in my mending pile.

It's a simple dirndl pattern, with pockets and belt loops, and I was able to just rip out the zipper and entire back seam, fold back the excess skirt and waistband on both sides so it was more my size, stitch it up, and re-insert the zipper. It was a little awkward because part of what got folded back was, in fact, gathered fabric, but I decided I didn't care. I hemstitched the loose flaps down and reattached the belt loops. Done.

It feels good to have those finished.

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

A possibility!

A couple weeks ago, we looked at a little bungalow in P-ville. I'd fallen in love with it, hard, and when it turned out to be in truly lousy repair (mold to the eyebrows, water damage, the works), I cried all afternoon.

Yesterday I cried all afternoon too, because it was a hard day. Meg was sick, so we didn't get to do anything fun, and she didn't feel good and she wanted to watch Winnie-the-Pooh again, and I was bug-bitten and discouraged and about three-quarters convinced that I wasn't going to get a house ever. I was going to be grown-up and realistic in the current market and be doomed to townhouses until I'm forty. It will be awful. Mom said she'd pray.

It just goes to show, you should always have your mother pray for you. This morning a house popped up on the market in the neighborhood we like best. It's older than I am and pleasantly eccentric, with a nice yard and three enormous maples and minor repair issues of the kind I can actually tackle myself, like repainting and pulling vines off the metal siding. I was actually ready to buy it just from the outside. But I didn't. That is, I waited for Jonathan and our realtor and we looked all through the inside and the basement, and then we decided to pursue buying it. It will need a lot of work and some de-weirding. The kitchen cabinets are all really short. The next step is for our financial whiz to do whatever it is she does and tell us whether or not we can afford it.*

In the interest of not crying all afternoon tomorrow, I'm trying not to crush on it too hard. I do think it could be quite cute and I could make the best garden ever on that land. We'll see. I am trying to practice hope and contentment and wisdom and not leaping before I look and so forth. House-hunting is exhausting.

*She did explain. And I paid attention and understood most of it. But I feel it would be selfish to take numbers away from people who actually like them, which is why I was a lit major and now I write about laundry and hyperdrives. This is called Division of Labor.

Friday, August 03, 2012

Upright and clean

I've just been meditating on how great vertical surfaces are. When you clean them, they don't immediately attract clutter the way a table, countertop, bookshelf, or ironing board does.* And, they're often dirty for real, because one naturally focuses on the clutter-ridden flat surfaces. But if you wipe all the drips off a door frame -- the frame looks clean! If you wipe the dust off a shuttered ventilation door -- the dust is gone and it looks clean! If you clean a baseboard or kickplate, miraculously, it looks clean! 

It is my fond hope that if a room's vertical surfaces are clean, the room will somehow read as really, actually, metaphysically clean even when the flat surfaces are all covered with old mail and disdained yogurt containers. It works in the kitchen with pristine cabinets and appliances. Kind of.

*I will never understand how the ironing board always, always turns into the mail receptacle. We HAVE a mail receptacle. But the mail seems to prefer the ironing board. Maybe the reason I never get the ironing board out except for sewing is to keep the mail away from it.

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Actually dead

I feel like I owe you readers an explanation for the terrible pictures I've been putting up. I do know they're bad. My new (not quite two years old) camera is dead, as opposed to dyed or even dying, and apparently it's more expensive to fix than replace. Power inverters, pshh. I'm using the camera phone until then.

I've been going to Best Buy and drooling over the DSLRs. Metaphorically, of course.

Dyed, not dead

 I thought I'd try dyeing some capris. These started out a peculiar lavender.
 I used powdered Rit dye in fuschia.
 You dump the dye into your hot water and get it boiling.
 And you soak your capris before adding them. My helper thought they should be scrubbed also.
 Add salt according to the directions.
 Drop in the capris and stir them until they look pretty. I thought half an hour was good.
 Run hot tap water over them until it stops leaking pink. Dye something else in the pot if you like. Then put your newly gorgeous clothes through a washer and dryer cycle. Resist your frugal urge to fill the washer load; I would definitely not recommend adding anything else, unless, of course, you want it pinkish. On the other hand, pinkish underwear could be cute.

UPDATE: This is also true for subsequent washes. I feel silly.
This ombre progression shows how much the dye vat got depleted for each pair of capris. The ones on the left were lavender denim, the middle ones were lightweight khaki cotton, and the left were white knit leggings. Now it's ALL PINK. I would have dyed something of Meg's, but it all seems to be pink already.

I was pleased. They came out a little streaky, but not bad. I think I'll dye again sometime.

The hardest part of the whole process was clearing the stovetop, countertop, sink, washer, and dryer beforehand.

Quote of the day

Jonathan: "What are the three meals of the day? There's breakfast, and lunch, and what comes after lunch?"
Meg: "Hot dogs!"

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

I'll keep watching for leopards, but this'll do for now

New matelasse bedspread

 The bedspread issue was getting ridiculous, so I got a nice, normal, classic, washable matelasse coverlet in cream. It was on clearance. The sham I already had - the pattern is different, but the color is the same, so they blend quite happily. It looks good with hot pink sheets, and it'll be useful for the next fifty years.

I'll keep an eye out for leopards. I'm thinking a leopard-spotted throw might be pretty folded across the foot of the bed. Or, of course, someone might produce a leopard-spotted bedspread.

Or I might learn to quilt. :-)

Matelasse in its natural habitat. Observe the bust of Bismarck.