Tuesday, May 31, 2011

It's upgrade time

I'm steeling myself for an upcoming internet blackout. My husband has ordered parts to upgrade his hot-rod desktop computer, and in about a week when they arrive, he will dismantle the beast and put in all the new parts.

And then nothing will work.

Please understand, this is NOT a slam against my husband. He knows more about computers than I will ever imagine I could, and he's a retired electrical engineer who's been messing with these boxes since - well, since they've existed. He builds his own computers. But when you upgrade, it's ALWAYS SOMETHING.

We've been through this before. It never goes as smoothly as you think it should and he always has to cope with irritating unexplained problems. He always solves them, but it's a hassle. Please don't ask me the details - I don't ask, and I don't want to know. Around the mid-90's, I gave up my complimentary subscription of InfoWeek at work and never again tried to keep up with the fast moving computer industry. If anything goes wrong with the laptop, I walk into his office and say "Oh, honey?"

He's also moving his desktop to Windows 7, so that adds a little extra fillip of mystery to the process. He told me I should also upgrade my Vista platform so all three computers would be on the same operating system, but I'm frankly terrified to try that. Will everything I run work on the new Windows version? Who knows?

I even cringe when I download updates. I'm a strong proponent of "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." In fact, don't even touch it.

Monday, May 23, 2011

He wanted "bright"

My husband likes bright colors a lot more than I do. I veer toward the muted, dusty range of hues. But this quilt is for him. The fabric collection is "Java" by Deb Strain. The pattern is "True Blue" by Carrie Nelson, with a modified border by me. It may not be Kaffe Fassett bright, but it's a stretch for me. Now that I've completed all 100 blocks, I'm taking a break to work on some applique for a while.

Toronto's "Slut Walk"

Have you read the news story about this? Briefly, as a result of public reaction to a comment by a member of the Toronto police, organizers staged a demonstration at a local park which culminated with a march to the Toronto Police Headquarters on April 3. Here is the remark that set off all the furor:

In January, Toronto Police Const. Michael Sanguinetti told a personal security class at York University that "women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized." Sanguinetti apoligized for this comments, but his apology failed to satisfy walk organizer Sonya Barnett. "It was evident that if you're going to have a representative of the police force come out and say that then that kind of idea must be still running rampant within the force itself and that retraining really needs to happen to change that mentality," she said. A statement on the event's website says: "Toronto Police have perpetuated the myth and stereotype of the slut, and in doing so have failed us."


I would like to know the context in which the remark was made, but no one is reporting that. Was he talking about walking alone at night? Going out to bars? Was it a general comment about personal actions? I may be a little old fashioned about this, but I think understanding what the constable meant involves analyzing his remark with respect to what other comments framed the statement. Let's hear the whole paragraph, so to speak, not the sound bite. It also becomes relevant to know to whom he was speaking. Consider the audience and context of the remark.

Don't get me wrong. This is NOT "blame the victim". Rape is about power, and far too many rapes happen. If your attacker breaks in your house, if someone grabs you while you're on your way home, if someone whom you trusted turns on you, what could you have done to prevent that?

But let's talk about other situations. Imagine that you're out clubbing and drinking with your girlfriends, or meeting someone on a blind date. Personal safety experts give all sorts of advice to young women in those situations. Don't let your drink out of your sight, for fear that it will be spiked. Don't go into a secluded area with a stranger. Go out in pairs and keep together for safety. Meet strangers at a location away from your home. All good ideas. But consider this scenario:

You're set up on a blind date with a friend of a friend. "You'll like him," you're told. For safety's sake, you make arrangements to meet at a local watering hole, where you're a regular. You dress what you consider attractively for the occasion, to make a good impression. Maybe for you that means a shorter skirt than usual, or a lower neckline, or tighter clothes, or (God forbid), low rise pants that let a bit of your undies peak out the top. I'm thinking about the clothes store next to my hairdresser's shop which has window displays for what they call "clubwear". Let's just say that this isn't what you wear to work!

You walk through the door and he sees you for the first time. He doesn't know a thing about you at this point, only what his eyes tell him. And depending on what he sees, what he may be thinking, if he's a certain sort of person, is "Jackpot!" A few drinks later, you're both somewhat impaired in the thinking process, and he starts to wonder if his first impression is going to pay off. This could get ugly.

Rewind that and redress yourself in a little more conservative, more modest attire. You don't have to look like Marion the Librarian, for goodness sake, just don't put everything right out there. If you say "But no one will pay any attention to me!" I have to ask if people attracted to that sort of display are who you really want to meet. (Old fogey alert! But I AM an old fogey, so I get to say what I please.) Was this what the policeman was talking about? We don't know because we aren't told.

There were picket signs on the march which proclaimed "My short skirt has nothing to do with you". I always hope that people aren't that ingenuous, but I'm always disappointed. Here's a news flash: everything we do, say or wear affects how we are perceived by others. Do you want to control the message, or have the message control you?

PS: I expect rabid comments to this post. So be it.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Are you still making quilts?

That's what someone dear to me just said this evening (names are withheld to protect feelings all round). I mentioned that I have been working on bindings for several days because I let my completed unbound quilts stack up this spring and had several to finish. "Are you still making quilts?" Like, "How many quilts do you need?" "Where are you putting all of them?" Or, maybe, "Don't you have other things to do?"

Ouch. I hastened to explain that one was for my niece, one was for my husband's couch in his den, and another was a larger quilt for our bed. As if I had to justify making quilts. And I was upset for feeling like I had to justify what I do.

Maybe I'm reading too much into what was said. Maybe it was just a passing comment. But it was still an ouch.

Can you tell me where to get this tape?

Take a look at this picture: See the tape that is marking the ruler? It's translucent plastic and clings to the ruler without adhesive (kind of like the old Color Forms toys). I had a roll of it that I used it for years to mark cutting lines and alignment points and such on my rotary rulers. Now that I have used all of it, I can't remember where I bought the stuff or what it is called. I can't even remember if it came from the fabric store or the office supply. What it is, I haven't a clue. I don't even know if it was originally meant to mark rotary rulers, but it worked perfectly for the job.

Does anyone know what this stuff is and where to buy it?

Saturday, May 14, 2011


Whenever I weeded my flower beds or even my flowerpots, I always found a multitude of seedlings of one certain kind. I didn't know what sort of weed it was, but it seemed prolific and very vigorous. It had one or two pairs of leaves atop a long stalk and a pretty good sized root for a young seedling. They were under my azaleas, in the tomato patch, in flower pots on the patio and by the driveway, even among the evergreens. They didn't seem picky about the amount of sunlight or water, and every specimen I pulled up was thriving. I wondered if other people had trouble with these weeds. Were the seeds scattered by the wind? What were they, anyway?

Finally, I pulled one out of a flowerpot that had a recognizable remnant of the seed casing still clinging to the roots and all was revealed. They were sunflower sprouts. The squirrels weren't just eating the seeds from the bird feeders, they were burying them too, and the seeds were germinating.
If you want to grow sunflowers, I can hook you up with some squirrels that are excellent horticulturists.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Short attention span

This is a cute little block: Well, it is until you have to make 52 of them. I suffer from quilter's ADHD - badly. I get sooooo bored when I have to make the same thing over and over and over......

That's why I like scrap quilts. Even though you are making duplicates of the same block, with different fabrics they don't look the same. Lessens the repetition factor.

Today I was so bored that I stopped working on these to complete attaching some borders and make the binding for another quilt. I went back to this block later but I don't know how far I'll get before I jump over to another project for a little relief. But, I still have 20 of these little things to crank out so I had better develop some discipline and get to it.

You wascally wabbit!

We've been watching at least two rabbits in our backyard. I thought it was just one until I got a good look and compared sizes one day, and realized that we have a whole bunch 0'bunnies enjoying the yard, although who knows where they live. So, we have several rabbits hopping around on most days, eating clover and investigating my flower bed.

Now one has done more than investigate. You can see it in the picture below, stretched out behind the salvia, the remains of a demolished penta plant under its back feet. Does anyone know which annuals rabbits don't eat?

Friday, May 6, 2011

QNM mystery quilt

Anyone doing the Quilter's Newsletter Magazine mystery? I just decided to pick it up halfway through and am catching up on the blocks. In truth, it didn't look very interesting until the third installment, but when I saw that block I got the mystery quilt fever again. My colors are very different from theirs - hope it works.

I have made all 8 of the block at top left and all of the ones on the bottom row - 10, 8, 4 and 4, respectively. I still have 32 of the one on the top right to finish. We've also cut some strips - for the border and some others, use unspecified. I have to admit that they have me stumped on this pattern. The top left one finishes at 7", the top right one at 4 1/2" and the bottom ones at 3 1/2". How they fit together I have no clue.

Trust and believe - the mystery quilter's mantra.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Back from the Stone Age

Hello again! I'm back on line after 7 days and 2 hours (but who's counting, LOL) of enforced silence due to a power outage after our terrible storms last Wednesday. We lost our electricity when a tree fell on the power lines five houses up the street from us. The power company just got there to remove it this afternoon.

Candlelight and battery powered radios got a little old. And hoisting the wooden garage door by hand. And living on sandwiches. And bringing in bags of ice for the cooler. Heck, EVERYTHING in the previous week was on my last nerve. But no more of this:

"Oh Frabjous Day, Calloo Callay", to quote Lewis Carroll, I'm back in the 21st century.