Wednesday, November 30, 2005

I'd rather be reading...

Life has not been about quilting lately, to my disappointment.

Nor have I been able to just curl up with a good book and lose the afternoon to reading. Isn't pleasure reading in the daytime one of the ultimate luxuries of adult life? (And check out this site of gorgeous art featuring women reading!)

Instead, life has been about legal research (whether adult parents are liable when their adult son accidentally shoots someone while target practicing at his parents' home), housework (you don't want to know details, do you?), school stuff (planning the holiday party, and coordinating PTO events), bathroom repairs (discovering that the well-timed temper tantrum can be effective in yanking reluctant contractors into line), holiday preparations (the UPS guy is stopping daily to deliver online-ordered gift items), and dog-romping (a tired puppy is a happy puppy with a happy owner).

Really, I'd rather be reading. Or reading and sipping a Starbuck's gingerbread latte.

Maybe quilting tomorrow?

Oh, and by the way, if you haven't already done so and are a member of the Artful Quilters Web Ring, put yourself on our map by clicking here:
It's fun to see where we all are!

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Off to Hogwarts

Today was all about Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. And for us, this was a big deal.

Caroline has been Harry Potter-obsessed since the original book and movie came out. Since that time, when she plays with her friend Christopher, I bring out a lip liner pencil to make Harry-esqe scars on their foreheads. They've had elaborate Harry Potter games, which have transferred from stuffed animals and plastic action figures to legos. So we live with Harro Potter on a day to day basis. And Caroline regularly beats me on the Harry Potter trivia game we have, but I must admit that I hold my own.

In an effort to avoid the crowds, we went to the 11:15 am show. (Who knew there WAS A Sunday morning show? It's a great movie time, though.) And it was perfect.

We loved the movie. I loved seeing Harry and Ron and Hermione move awkardly into adolescence. Caroline doesn't get why my favorite scene was the winter ball scene, but (aside from the gorgeous magical indoor snowfall which I wish I could have in my living room) I think it was because it captured that funny teenage awkwardness so well.

And oh my gosh, there was Cedric Diggory...or Robert Patkinson, I think his name is. What a gorgeous young actor. See?

He's supposed to be around 17 here. Sigh. And he even looks good bloodied-up.

Caroline was greatly amused when I referred to him as "a hunk."

So, a fun day was had by all. And now we all have that Harry Potter theme music in our heads...

Friday, November 25, 2005

Post Thanksgiving Food

We're all in that post-Thanksgiving state of relaxed stuffed-ness that makes us want to sit around, watch movies, and take naps.

However, we've had to interrupt our sitting-around-in-a-stupor to visit with Roger's Aunt Donna and cousin Jeanne who came for a visit this morning. They're both lovely, delightful women, and I was very happy to hear that Jeanne is planning to move up here from southern California. I'll enjoy getting to know her better.

Their visit meant that Roger and I spent the morning tidying. And I baked muffins to serve with coffee...and they were a big hit. Quite delicious.

If you want to give them a try, here they are:

Sour Cream Orange Muffins with Poppy Seed Streusel

3 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1 teaspoon poppy seeds

2 cups all-purpose flour (about 9 ounces)
3/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup fat-free buttermilk
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 tablespoon grated orange rind
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 (8-ounce) container reduced-fat sour cream
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 375°.

To prepare streusel, combine first 4 ingredients in a small bowl; set aside.

To prepare muffins, lightly spoon 2 cups flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine 2 cups flour, 3/4 cup sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk. Make a well in center of mixture. Combine buttermilk and remaining ingredients except cooking spray in a small bowl; add to flour mixture, stirring just until moist. Spoon batter into 15 muffin cups coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle streusel evenly over batter. Bake at 375° for 18 minutes or until golden brown. Remove muffins from pans immediately; place on a wire rack. Yield: 15 servings (serving size: 1 muffin)

CALORIES 180(32% from fat); FAT 6.3g (sat 3.2g,mono 2.3g,poly 0.4g); PROTEIN 3.3g; CHOLESTEROL 31mg; CALCIUM 77mg; SODIUM 277mg; FIBER 0.5g; IRON 1mg; CARBOHYDRATE 27.8g


Our company has now left, Caroline is cleaning her room in anticipation of her friend Simone coming for a sleep-over tonight, and Roger is napping. I'd like to be too...but instead I'll read a new file and do a bit of research for a new case. Work first, then naps...Sigh.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Thanksgiving Notes

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! We have a family day ahead, which will be lovely and relaxing and entertaining and comfortaing....and food filled. Everything Thanksgiving should be!

And of course I'm thinking of the many, many things I'm thankful for. I know it's corny, but I talk with Caroline about this all the time and we try to take time to tell each other and we enjoy making our "gratitude" lists together.

Of course, my list always includes my family and friends and our animals... they are a given. But there are other things, big and small, I've been thinking about lately:

Our county library system, for keeping me in books to feed my voracious reading appetite (and for putting the catalog online so I can order books from other libraries and get almost anything I want! It's fabulous! And FREE!)

My Bernina and Juki sewing machines, for being so reliable and easy to use and for always just working right. The errors are always mine.

The Thanksgiving Day parade, because I've watched it almost every year since I was a tiny and it's how Thanksgiving should start. (One year my mom suggested to my sister and me that we draw pictures of our favorite things in the parade. So of course, that became part of the annual parade-watching tradition. Laura always drew the horses. Me, I varied but often honed in one of the big balloons. ) Any day that starts with a parade is a good day, don't you think?

Good coffee in the morning, from my Starbuck's metal car mug that keeps it hot forever and allows me to sip leisurely all morning long.

Great fabric. Aren't the fabric manufacturers making great stuff? Great patterns, wonderful colors, and always new and inspiring designs. It just keeps coming.

My mail lady, who is so nice about bring all the catalogs and packages and magazines to us, every day. It's not HER fault thatI don't get my Quilting Arts magazine for MONTHS AND MONTHS after everyone else in the universe has theirs.

Martha Stewart, for making the housey, foody, crafty stuff I do seem interesting and creative and worthy of time and attention, and for doing it gracefully. She's an odd duck, Martha, but she's an inspiration. And even inspirations make mistakes.

Our big bathtub... and being able to use it again, FINALLY, after a bathroom remodel forced by a building defect. It's deep and perfect for a long, reflective soak.

Kathy Alexander, Caroline's teacher--she's experienced, enthusiastic, wonderful with the kids, energetic, firm, and genuinely excited to see them learn. She's everything you'd want for your child in 4th grade. I truly don't know how she does it...and then how she come back the next day and does it again.

My Ipod. I LOVE my Ipod. Have I mentioned that before?

And This American Life, my favorite thing to listen to on the radio. (And you can stream it over your computer, for FREE. Anytime!) It's alternately funny, poignant, deep, silly, thought-provoking... This and "Wait Wait Don't Tell Me" are my weekly listening "musts." And I can download them to the Ipod!

The blogs I read and the blogging friends I've made--you give me a glimpe into your life and keep me smiling and thinking and learning. Thanks for sharing who you are and what you do!

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

It's about family...and the food, too

Today was Thanksgiving preparation day...and I'm not even hosting everyone at my house. Tomorrow we're headed down to San Rafael to have Thanksgiving with my family at my brother's house. Gregg and Kitt are newlyweds, and this is their first family holiday dinner. I bet they're breaking out the wedding presents for fancing serving stuff!

In my family, Thanksgiving is a time to get together, of course....but really, it's all about the food. My contribution this year is dessert, so I've spent the day baking. I'm being daring and trying a new (but not too far from traditional) "Cream Cheese Pumpkin-Pecan pie. This is just in case we're not all totally stuffed with turkey and stuffing and other goodies! But it sounded so good that I had to try it. (And it uses reduced fat cream cheese, so it's HEALTHY.) Look, see?

Cream Cheese Pumpkin Pecan Pie

3/4 cup flour
6 Tblsp. light brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt
6 Tblsp. unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small cubes
1 Tblsp. cold water
3/4 cup chopped pecans

8 oz. reduced fat cream cheese
6 Tblsp. reduced fat sour cream
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup pumpkin puree
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp ground cloves

For crust, place flour, brown sgar and salt in food processor with metal blade. Pulse several times to blend. Add butter and process until dough resembles coarse meal. With motor running, add water through feed tube, a little at a time, until dough is moist, not wet. Transfer to a mixing bowl and add pecans. Knead until a ball of dough forms and pecans are thoroughly incorporated. Flatten into disk, press into tart pan, and chill for at least 30 minutes. Bake at 375 for about 10 minutes and then cool slightly.

To prepare filling: Place cream cheese and sour cream in a bowl and mix with electric mixer on medium speed until smooth and creamy. Gradually add sugar and beat until well-blended. Add eggs one at a time and mix well. Remove 1/3 cup filling and set aside.

Add pumpkin puree and spices to cream cheese mixture, mixing until blended. Pour mixture into prebaked pie shell. Gently drop teaspoonfuls of reserved cream cheese mixture onto pumpkin filling, then swirl lightly with a knife to produce marbled effect. (Do not over-swirl or cream-cheese mixture will blend in.)

Bake until firm, about 35 minutes. Cool on rack for at least an hour. Serve cold or at room temperature.


Doesn't sound that yummy and holiday-ish?

I also baked another traditional pumpkin pie (Martha Stewart's recipe actually, because I LOVE Martha and it's my own little act of solidarity) because Roger's aunt and cousin are coming over on Friday and I'll need something to serve. I'm actually going to roast a turkey breast that day, since it's not Thanksgiving unless you have all that left over turkey for turkey sandwiches. Or tamales, if you must.

And, because it is all about the food, for the non-pumpkin pie eaters, I'm making mini cream puffs. They're super easy to make and always wildly impress people.

Here's what you do:

Pate au choux ("pat-ay oh shoe" to sound very gourmet-ish.)

Put 1 cup water in a sauce pan with 1/2 cup (1 stick) of butter. Bring to a rolling boil, melting butter completely. Reduce the heat to low, then add 1 cup flour all of a sudden (just dump it in there!) and stir vigorously. The dough will clump together and get glossy as it sort of "dries" and goes from a batter consistency to a dough-ball consistency.

Take it off of the heat, let it cool for about 5 minutes. Then, one at a time, add 4 eggs, stirring vigorously after each addition so dough is glossy and smooth. (You can do this part in a food processor if you want.)

Drop the dough by spoonfuls onto a greased cookie sheet. (You can make them long in shape, for eclairs, or roundish, for cream puffs...or large or tiny, as you prefer.) Then bake at 400 for 30 minutes. When the time is up, turn the oven off but leave them in the oven with the door cracked open for about an hour. Zee franche alvayss de zees step but I do not know vhy.

When they're cool, you slice them open, and voila, there's a lovely empty center (you may have to pull out a few strands of dough with your fingers) for you to fill. You can use whipped cream. My secret filling? Instant vanilla pudding (the kind you make in 5 minute with cold milk, not that horrid stuff you buy pre-made). Then drizzle melted chocolate over the top and people will swoon.

Ooh la la.

Happy baking, everyone!

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Something to read when you're not quilting

I have this thing about quilt books: It's hard for me not to buy them.

When I walk into a quilt shop, I can have a grand time looking at fabric. But it's the book shelf (or rack, or wall) that draws me like a magnet. I can stand and look at quilt books for a long time.

It's not that I'm looking for anything in particular. There are occasions where I want to see something specific or find information about a technique, but those are rare. Usually, it's just that a new quilt book promises beauty and color and inspiration. And who wouldn't want more of that?

I have a healthy number of books in my collection. And, for the most part, they're all books that I am happy to return to over and over again. In a certain mood, I'll pull 5 or 6 of them and sit on the chair in the corner of the bedroom to just look through them, remembering what I liked about them and finding new discoveries (recently I discovered a Mrs. Mel quilt in a book I'd owned for some years...but now that she's a friend it jumped off the page right at me). I love how what I'm drawn to in a book changes over time, as my interests and abilities have changed. It's like sitting down for a talk with an old friend and learning something new. There's the familiar, but the surprise, too.

Some people understand and share this book addiction. My friend Janet Shore has the best library of quilt books of anyone I know, only rivalled by my quilt guild's massive collection. Janet has been collecting books since the 1970's, I think. She has two big walls of shelves in her living room just full of art and quilt books, and every time I'm there I find time to pull a book or two from a shelf and look a bit. Some of her books from the late 70's and early 80's flash me back to when I worked at The Quilting Bee (when it was tiny, in Los Altos, owned by Diana Leone) and I either owned them or pored over them on the shop's shelves when the store wasn't busy. Janet has books she bought on quilt trips in Japan some years back -- amazing books with gorgeous and innovative quilts. (That's how I learned about Ayako Miyawaki...from some books on Janet's shelves.) I always ask Janet if I can come and spend a weekend at her house, just soaking up the peace and no-kids-in-the-house neatness and lovely colors and beautiful quilts and endless books. She thinks I'm joking. I'm not.

My acquisition of books used to puzzle my husband. "You'll never make all these quilts," he'd say, "Doesn't it stress you out to just add to the things you want to make?" I shouldn't have been surprised...Roger gets worried when we've taped a few TV shows and haven't watched them yet. "They're piling up! We're falling behind!" (I remind him that the VCR is for OUR convenience and we can watch them -- or not -- was we damn well please.) But I've told him over and over that I don't buy books because I want to make something in them. In fact, owning a book with a picture of a beautiful quilt takes the pressure off of me: I can enjoy looking at the quilt as often as I like without ever having to make it! Best of both worlds! I buy the books because I just like to look the quilts in them.

I have a Japanese friend, Noriko, who is greatly amused that I have subscriptions to two Japanese quilt magazines, Patchwork Quilt Tsushin and Quilts Japan. (You can subscribe through Born to Quilt, here.) A non-quilter, she thinks it's very funny that I get magazines I can't read. I've shown her how I can read the numeric measurements, if I wanted to know that exact information, and I've reminded her that I can have her translate for me if I'm desperate to know what the text says. But I love these magazines because the quilts are so different from American quilts, and in part because I can't read them. I pore over the pictures because I can't read them. I look closely at the women's faces, to see if I recognize anyone. (There are Japanese quilters whose faces I recognize now, even though I don't know their names.)

I'm not indiscriminate. But I love books of quilt exhibits (and am eager to see the I Remember Mama book and the book of the most recent Viking exhibit from Houston), and books that focus on art and creativity. I don't buy "how to make THIS quilt" type books, unless the quilts are gorgeous and the pictures are great. Most recently, Katie Pasquini Masopust's new book "Color and Composition for the Creative Quilter" landed on my's a great addition to the collection. I can look at Sandi Cummings' book "Thinking Outside the Block" and Dianne Hire's "Quilter's Playtime" over and over, too.

And there'll be another great book just around the corner, I know.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Fast food, slow quilts

Have you ever heard of the Slow Food movement? You can read more about it here, but basicaly it's a movement to appreciate the process of growing, making and eating food. It's about taking the time to enjoy food, especially with friends.

Well, I adore food -- fast or slow. But I've been thinking about the concept of "slow food" as I've been working on my dotty circles quilt. You all know that my usual and favorite method of quilting is what I call "slapdash." That's when I get to work on something that is pure fun and fast sewing--no careful measuring, just quick and creative assembly.

Well, I don't know why, but lately I've been unusually contented to just sew, calmly and slowly and without rushing to finish. I had fun sewing the arcs on my dotty circles -- still no big thought required, except to alternate a light fabric with a dark fabric -- but I just worked along, having a good time making arcs. Anyway, yesterday, I spent a happy few hours assembling blocks, and now here's where I am:

I've decided that this needs a pieced border, which I'm working on happily at the moment. With all the polka dots and circles, I decided it needed something zig-zaggy. Stay tuned.

I decided a while ago that I wanted to make some sort of Christmasy quilt to throw over the couch for the holidays. At PIQF in early October, I looked at every piece of Christmas fabric I could find...and I didn't like any of them. I didn't want any cute Christmas scene, or gold-embossed stuff, or goofy looking snowmen and Santas. But I had a stroke of inspiration and decided to do something funky with red and green geometrics. Today, I pulled my assortment out, and got them all washed and folded. Here they are, ready for cutting when I figure out what I'm going to do:

See that one in the top row, second from the left? A white background with red and green and yellow funky square shapes? I LOVE that one and bought a huge hunk. It's my inspiration fabric. La di da. (Or should I say "fa la la"?)

Thursday, November 17, 2005

A Crazy, Lazy, Day

I've not got much to say for myself today.

I took the day off, as a reward to myself for getting through an interesting yet stressful local school board matter. I learned some about school board politics (in a good way, actually), I learned a lot about the hot issues in my district facing the elementary schools, I stuck up for what I believed in, I affected the outcome to some extent, and I've made some friends. Plus, after the very long school board meeting last night, 2 other involved moms and I went out for a drink at a local spot and got HIT ON! We're all over 40 and each of us hasn't had that happen in...well, longer than we can remember. The guy was balding and portly and rather odd (and, amusingly, it turned out that he was the dad of a 2nd grader at the very elementary school where our kids all are), but still... The memory of that guy looking from one of us to the next and saying eagerly "Are any of you single?" will keep me chuckling for a while.

I'd planned to go to my guild meeting and have lunch with my buddies afterwards...But first thing this morning brought a call from a friend with a babysitter problem. So that meant that my morning was spent with my 3 1/2 year old friend Molly. We played and had fun.

I digress for a moment to note that Molly's dad, my good friend's ex-husband, basically abandoned the family when Molly was not even one year old. It's a horrible story for all concerned. But Molly, now very aware of other kids' daddies, has decided that her daddy died from being eaten by a snake. She's in a phase where she says this rather frequently, looking dramatically tragic. She know that's not the case, but it's how she's processing not having a daddy right now. And Molly's mom and I are enjoying the image of the horrible daddy meeting his well-deserved demise this way. In some situations, you must take your humor where you can find it.

Anyway, afterwards, I indulged myself with a bit of sewing, machine appliqueing my wild dotty circles to the background pieces. Then my sister stopped by so that her new dog Katie (a newly rescued wire-haired pointer, pictures soon) could romp with Gemma. Doggie cousins! We sat outside on the adirondack chairs on a gorgeous, warm fall day...Laura stitched (she's a needlework designer and always stitching! See her designs here) and I leafed through the ever-growing pile of catalogs, looking for Christmas gift ideas. I think we're getting about 5 catalogs a day, so it's work to keep them from piling up!

After they left, Gemma plopped down in the shade to recover from all the excitement, and I returned to sewing until it was time to pick up Caroline from after school day camp. Then she and I played a game together until Roger came home and we dug out Chinese food left-overs for dinner so I didn't even have to cook.

Now that's what I call a day off of work! Very restful.

Although I've nothing else to report, I do want recognize my friend Gerrie for the amazing quilty accomplishments coming her way lately! She's talked about them on her blog, so you can read the details there... But I mention it here because Gerrie is one of the most adventurous quilters I know. She's not afraid to try new things and she dives in with great enthusiasm. She's always willing to share what she's doing and learning. She's amazingly prolific. I'm very pleased to see her work being discovered by others, and in such an exciting flurry of events too! Good work, Gerrie!

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

On the design wall

So, here's what I'm working on these days. Remember this? I started this paper-pieced quilt last May, out of Becky Goldsmith's and Linda Jenkins' book Quilts with a Spin. I've been working on it on and off since then, and finally got to the point of putting it all together. This is one 16" block out of 9. It's fun and happy, which makes me happy. And it's been fun working on a project that doesn't require a design decision every other minute.

I'm gonna do some sort of pieced border, but I'm still working on that. Stay tuned.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

My mother, my self

One of the Blogging 4 Books themes this month is to write about "going home again." This is my entry (my very first one!) about how "home" is in you whether you realize it or not.

"Sit straight," my mom used to say to me at dinner time. I’d have perched myself on a kitchen chair, one leg tucked comfortably under me as I sat at the table. It drove my mom nuts when I didn’t sit squarely facing the table. Apparently good manners required that I sit squarely, with both feet on the floor. But I just wasn’t comfortable, and eventually, without thinking, I’d slide around into another position that broke the rules and provoked another rebuke from my mother.

I hadn’t thought about this in years, until I heard myself say to my wiggly daughter Caroline at dinner one night, "Turn around and sit straight!" Caroline stopped squirming, but I froze more quickly at the shock of hearing myself: I’d sounded just like my mother.

It’s disconcerting, how motherhood calls up such an odd mix of feelings sometimes. There are moments when I’m in full mother mode, helping Caroline with homework or playing a card game or picking up clothes from her bedroom floor, and I have a sudden flash to an intense childhood memory of my mother doing those things with me. I remember the amazement I felt at how easy it was for me to remember where the three of clubs was hidden among the cards in a game of "Concentration"; now, I watch as Caroline’s hand goes unerringly to the right card when I’ve not been able to keep a single card in my head beyond the next turn. I remember how my mom muttered and gently scolded me about leaving my wet towel on the bathroom floor after my bath. Now, I mutter and scold and realize how tired my mom must have been as she picked up after me.

And all those things I swore to myself that I’d never say to MY children when I grew up? Yep, I’m saying them...more regularly than I’d like to admit. When we moved into a rental house with a new paint job over which our new landlords had made a big fuss, I found myself chiding Caroline over and over again to not run her hands along the walls each time she went down the hallway. I couldn’t keep the words from escaping my mouth, even as I remembered the feel of smooth wallboard under my fingers as I skipped to my bedroom.

The moments where I unexpectedly find myself being my mother aren’t all discipline-related ones. Whenever Caroline is sick, I find myself doing and saying the comforting things my mom did for me. A damp washcloth, folded a special way, as a compress for a fevered forehead, a crisp clean pillowcase to make getting to sleep easier, even the stories I tell and the songs I sing come straight from my mom, through my heart, to my daughter.

So, yes, it’s disconcerting to find myself becoming my mom as I mother my daughter. But it makes me happy, too.
So you wanna know what I did yesterday? THIS.

Yep, some mysterious cold or flu bug caused me to cancel my meeting thursday afternoon and put me in bed all day friday. And, strangely enough, this is the first time in years that I've caught something that didn't start with Caroline bringing it home from school.

Thank goodness for Just's Eucasol Spray. Just is this Swiss company that makes herbal products (and I think they sell them through in-home parties -- that's how I discovered them years ago). They make a little spray that smells like herbs and eucalyptus and mint, sort of like Vick's Vapor-rub, but you don't have to apply that sticky ointment anywhere to get the wonderful smell effect. I spray it on a tissue and put it next to my nose when I'm going to sleep and I swear it helps clear up my stuffiness and relaxes me. So I love the stuff and have been spraying it willy-nilly lately.

So, no sewing going on here. I've been living vicariously through Melody and Gerrie and Kristin (new member to the AQ web ring!) and their adventures at Art Quilt Tahoe.

And I've been reading a lot, in between naps. Finished "Saving Fish from Drowning" (isn't that the best title?) by Amy Tan, and I would highly recommend it. Very thought provoking. I blew through a chick lit book, "Time Off for Good Behavior" which was mildly entertaining, although I found the narrator/heroine irritating and not likeable. I'm now into a dense legal thriller, "The Will," which seems interesting but keeps causing me to drift off. We'll see if that's the cold medicine or bad writing. It's too soon to tell.

By the way, if you're a member of the ring, put yourself on our map by clicking here:

It's fun to see where we all are!

Monday, November 07, 2005

Where are we?

There are just so many fun things on the internet. And I've added one of them to my blog. See that new box over there (there, on the right) just below the AQ web ring box? It's a link to "Frapper," a site which creates a map showing where everyone is.

Here's the official link:

So, if you're a member of the AQ web ring, go add yourself to the map...and maybe eventually we'll see where our members are!

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Someone Else Will Do It

It's ironic to me that my last post was about my involvement with this big school board issue. I can't even begin to tell you my list of frustrations with the whole situation.

But on Friday, I learned that one of the big quilt guilds in Northern California, the Marin Quilt Guild, is disbanding because there aren't people willing to step into the officer roles and run the guild. I was surprised, and actually rather impressed, at the boldness of the undoubtedly tired and overworked former guild officers. They've run the guild for years longer than their terms required, under the group's by-laws. They've put on a large, well-attended, well-respected juried quilt show every Labor Day weekend for many years.

Perhaps some new members will step forward to carry on the work and resurrect the guild, and that panic over not having the guild that they took for granted will propel people into action. Or perhaps not...maybe the failure of members to recognize that members in a group need to share the work means that the group just isn't a big enough priority to them.

There's not only the personal parallel for me as I struggle with this school stuff. Also, in my art quilt group, it's time for me to hand over the reins of being the "coordinator" to someone else. And so far no one is willing to step up and do it. I've been worrying about it, because I need to step out of the role for a number of reasons, but what do I do if no one will step in? Now I think "maybe that means that the group isn't important enough to anyone to share the work." And perhaps recognizing that and walking away from a group that isn't willing to share the workload of making it all happen isn't a bad thing. We'll see how that goes.

This sort of event and the aftermath of shock has lessons for us all, don't you think? From the littlest quilt group to the biggest of government...If we don't pay attention and do our part, maybe it'll change into something we don't recognize or like or want at all...And maybe it'll just go away.

These are my lofty thoughts on this Sunday morning. But now it's time to put in another load of laundry.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

The Ups and Downs of Getting INVOLVED

You'll have to excuse my lack of fun and exciting stuff here. And, I warn you, it might be this way for a few days.

I blame it all on the School Board. A big issue has suddenly arisen regarding our district's elementary schools: whether our two schools should each be Kindergarten through 5th grade, or whether we should have one Kinder through 2nd grade school and another third through 5th grade school. The decision impacts virtually every elementary school kid in the district and their families, not to mention the city over all has it has implications for traffic issues and real estate values and such.

I've been hovering on the edge of the issue, trying to avoid jumping into it. But it's hard to resist. It's an important issue. And partly it's out of frustration with the Board, because the district actually had a huge review process and vote on this VERY SAME ISSUE just 18 months ago. So it's dismaying and confusing to have it all brought up again...and for no clear reason.

So, I finally decided that I need to get more information and find out what is REALLY driving this. Is it money? Is it some view of educational benefit that I'm missing? Is it just the personal preference of the board members who voted the other way on the issue last time, and don't want to let it rest?

Well, suffice it to say that I'm going to be having a lot of meetings in the coming week. I've already gotten my dander up, when I asked a secretary if I could have a copy of a particular report (which a school board member had referred to in a conversation) and the secretary replied, suspiciously, "How did YOU find out about that report?" Like it's a state secret, and not a public record. Sheesh.

You can bet I'm gonna get that report come hell or high water, now.

Anyway. That's what I'm doing right now. So if you don't hear from me for a few days, you'll know why.

And by the way, if any of you reading this have experience with either elementary school configuration (K-5 or K-6, or the "grade span" thing where your child changes school every few years), I'd love to hear from you about your experiences.

I guess I can't sit back and do nothing, as much as I'd rather, some times.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Halloween Hangover

You know, it occurs to me that the reason God invented Halloween candy isn't for the kids -- it's so that the grown-ups orchestrating Halloween can get and maintain a sugar high to get them through the Halloween festivities.

It's been a long few days, folks. But fun. Very fun.

As I mentioned, Saturday was spent sewing the horse's costume for the EPS pony show. Sunday was the big horse show. The whole horse show experience isn't strange to me-- my sister rode in shows when we were in high school, so many of my high school weekends were spent hanging around barns, watching events, handing out ribbons, etc. And Caroline's been riding for about 3 years now, so by now the pony show isn't new either. And I KNOW that each class drags on interminably and the whole thing moves slowly. Like a tired pony trudging away from its stall.

Still, we leave the house early enough to be sure we're not late...only to arrive and discover that Caroline's first class won't be for about 2 hours. This leaves plenty of time to wander around, pet all the ponies, get all of our shoes really muddy, and accumulate enough liquid in our bladders that we all need to use the rather rustic (ahem) facilities there. And I'd really rather not use them.

But I digress. It was a lovely October day, sunny and over 70, with a touch of crispness in the air. The scent of hay and pony and manure (which from a distance is actually sort of pleasant) was in the air...and of course, there were scads of little girls skittering around, wearing their tan breeches and black boots and looking so sophisticated with their hair in neat buns...until, out of boredom, they start the wild cartwheeling that inevitably occurs when you get a bunch of 9 year olds together.

But I digress again. The costume event was very fun, with wildly inventive costumes for ponies and riders. Caroline and her pony, Bartles, turned out well:

They took 7th place, which thrilled Caroline as many kids didn't get a ribbon at all and she didn't have one of that purple color yet for her collection. Here's another view of them:

Caroline's good friend Lani, riding Rose, was a Pony Express aviator. Rose wasn't too thrilled about being the airplane and she kept rolling her eyes suspiciously at the cardboard wings, but they made it through the class and Lani took 8th place.

The overall winner was a boy (the only boy there all day, I think) who had an elaborate pirate costume and had turned the saddle into a huge treasure chest with overflowing treasure. I didn't get a good picture, so you'll just have to imagine that yourself.

Yesterday was the Halloween parade at school... I just love watching the kindergarteners trail around in their costumes! And then Caroline's class had its party. The 4th graders planned it themselves, and came up with inventive things. Caroline's contribution was to bring our steam vaporizer, for a mist effect in the classroom. Spooky!

Then, of course, came the trick-or-treating. Caroline's friend Dabria, AKA Wednesday Adams (of the Adams Family) went together, chattering excitedly the whole way. Dabria is a cute little girl, the spitting image of the TV Adams Family Wednesday (with slightly lighter hair. She has a high, happy voice and just chatters, chatters, chatters. "I'm having a BLAST!" she said to me, then she immediately turned to Caroline with a sigh. "I wish we could go with my brother. He knows the houses that give MONEY."

Oh well. No cash handouts in our neighborhood, but they did come home with a significant amount of candy, plus one toothrbrush each from the dentist up the street, AND a little pamphlet with Spiderman on the front about how God is a superhero and you can read about his adventures in the Bible. Seriously.

So, today we rest. And try to avoid the left-over hershey bars.