Friday, February 27, 2009

Lost Quilt Found

I've been rummaging around in boxes and drawers, trying to organize and streamline life around this place. Such a lot of stuff - mercy! There's a tonne of unpacked items in the 'mart, and since a lot of it has been there for the best part of a year and not much missed, I'm strongly suspecting it doesn't need to dwell in my midst anymore. It's a terrible wrench to think of getting rid of so many books that I loved so much, but what's the point in having them moldering in boxes rather than filling up someone else's life? I keep reminding myself that there's a library... and interlibrary loans... ouch. Still hurts.

Now fabric.... that's a little different. I've got three big bins full, lightweight, keeps indefinitely, turns into practical, warm things. Build a little beauty, create some goodwill, these are good reasons to keep the fabric.

Anyway. I was tidying up a dresser and came across these quilt squares that I'd forgotten about. The pattern is called Pumpkin Seed, and this particular variation is created with interfaced applique. It was a new one for me, and I'm not sure that I'll make another like it, but it was different than my usual straight lines and I'm glad I tried it. Here I am with 12 blocks though, and what shall I do with it?

Do any of you remember that fundraiser quilt I made for the local library about 18 months ago? It had a lot of the same fabrics - these were the remnants, plus some extras. The head librarian loved that quilt, and she bought about 40 tickets herself but didn't win.

Recently she erased a fine for me, a rather heart-stopping fine incurred after the library closed for renos and I misunderstood the re-opening date. We had 20 movies out to last us the duration, as well as a mountain of books. The fine was ... well, heart-stopping, as I already said.

I have all the fabric requirements to finish this quilt on hand, so no further out-of-pocket expenses except for a little matching thread. I believe Madame Librarian is soon to find an anonymous parcel on her desk...

Monday, February 23, 2009

Sheets Happen

Poppy convinced me that she had to go to the thrift shop the other day when we were out and about with other errands, and I'm so glad she did! Turned out that it was $5 Bag Day, where they hand you a plastic shopping bag and you get anything you can stuff into it for $5. Can I stuff, ladies and gentlemen!

We did find some clothes, but my mind was set on other things. Sheets, in particular. My kids had no curtains on their windows, and that's a bit stark when you live beside a Well Travelled Road. (Rurally speaking, of course.) I was hoping for white sheets for raw curtain material. I didn't dare to hope for matching white sheets.

But I got 'em. Three matching double-size white top sheets that look like they came from a hotel. Very nice, really, except for the fact that the lower edge of each one had some horrific oil stains, which would explain why they wound up at the thrift store. I'm still speculating about those stains... Some oilfield worker wore his boots to bed?

At any rate, even cutting those bits out to sew other things to later, I had lots of fabric to make curtains for lots of windows. This house is quite windowy. Working with such large swathes is a bit of a pain in the glutes, but I shuffled the furniture around and managed to lay everything out enough that I could measure and cut and pin.

And now Patch has curtains. Simple enough. He says they're Grecian. Still trying to figure that out.

Poppy's still waiting for real curtains, but I pinned the stained remnants over her windows so she's all enclosed. Who knows what we'll find on our next thrift-store adventure?

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Pecked, or Picked?


So. So. So.

So this is the last day at work for Himself. His job has come to the end of the line. We knew this was coming, but it was still a nasty kick in the gut when we found out on Tuesday.

I'd hoped my massage practice would be busier by the time this happened. I'd hoped the other house would have sold, but it still hasn't yet. I'd hoped it would be spring, when the utilities would be a bit lower. I'd hoped the van wouldn't be acting up as much as it is. I'd hoped, I'd hoped, I'd hoped.... but that's not the way it worked out.



We have a very good renter in the other house.

We have our cupboards stocked with real foods, and a decent amount in the freezer. And there's a lot of toilet paper in the bathroom closet - that was on a helluva deal in December.

My practice is picking up, and the clients that come almost all take a fistful of business cards and say they're going to spread the gospel.

It's a lot warmer now than it was a month ago, and spring and the garden are coming. And hopefully chickens. Look favourably upon me, O Great Poultry Goddess, as at a kernel of corn, and peck me! peck me! peck me!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

A Mid-Winter's Quiltress

I got this quilt-top pieced this weekend, finally. I had the individual squares done a month ago, but it got shelved and had to wait its turn.

It's a pattern called Disappearing Nine Patch, and there's a great tutorial here. I think this might qualify as the most outlandishly wild quilt I've ever made... I love it! Stripes and polka-dots and gargantuan florals; hot pink, orange, red, purple, teal, gold; a very mid-winter quilt if ever there was one.

For some reason my pictures are all rather faded and misty since I got this new hard-drive. Still working on figuring that out, but these photos still give the general idea.

It's Family Day Weekend in Alberta. Premier Getty anointed this day with oil way-back-when, when his son was busted for drugs. A distraction tactic? Who knows. But it's nice to have a holiday in the middle of February, that's for sure. Someone should have thought of that a long time ago.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Trying Those Gingersnaps Again...

I found a printed copy of that gingersnap recipe... I thought I did. It must have been an earlier incarnation, because once more the first panful was like little greasy pancakes. Tasty, mind you, but not cookielike. So I threw a bunch more flour into the mix, and more guar gum, and an extra egg, and the subsequent batches were much more chin-up-and-chest-out.

But I had this sticky, bendy, gingersnappy stuff to deal with yet. Throwing it out is NOT an option, not with the cost of gluten-free flours especially. So I ripped it up into smaller bits, and threw it back in the oven. After another fifteen minutes I had me some very fine gingersnap crumbs, and after supper I cut up the battered MacIntosh apples languishing on the counter, dusted them with brown sugar and tapioca starch and a little salt, and layered the crumbs on top of that. It's in the oven now, and smells absolutely divine.

The carrots were just there, waiting for the pot. A little colour for your visual culinary delectation.

Heart Problems

"My tongue keeps galloping off like a drunken horse and crashing into fenceposts!"

(Quote courtesy of Patch.)

Within the realm of the writings of Chinese medicine, it's common to read the quote that "the tongue is the sprout of the heart". And of course the Bible states, "Out of the fullness of the heart, the mouth speaks".

When the heart is flourishing, words emerge like a quick-growing, fruitful vine - every word expressive of the heart's voice and intent, all things in place and in proper time.

And when the heart isn't flourishing, the words emerge like shrivelled, bitter fruit, or cease to flow at all.

Silence isn't always golden. Sometimes it's lead.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Snow Day

My apologies for the blurriness of this photo, but it was taken through a window during the preliminary stages of a blizzard, and not the cleanest window to boot.

Prairie chickens. Ten.

We've seen this flock around our property before, usually very suddenly and heart-stoppingly when they explode in your face just before you step on one. This is the first time I've had a chance for a leisurely look. They were gleaning what they could off the weed stalks, and stumbling around in the snow-drifts. Not very graceful birds. It's pretty amazing that they survive at all, given how lumpy and earth-bound they are. Favourite coyote snackerie.

That little tree with the tag is a plum, I think. Or maybe an apple. I sure hope it makes it through and grows leaves in the spring.

The sign. I started plotting out spaces, and drew up some numbers, but I'm pretty disappointed. It's ugly, not much for looking at. Oh well. At least it's not painted on yet. I might have some flash of intuition and be able to salvage the project.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Mind Your Manners

Given the current economic climate, I've been even more motivated lately to cook with ingredients I have in my cupboards, and things that stretch the grocery budget. Peasanty sorts of things.

One of my favourites is Lazy Cabbage Rolls. I'm a lazy cook, so even the name is appealing. I brown up about a pound and a half of hamburger with a lot of chopped onions, mix it up with about 5 cups of cooked brown rice, and season it with salt and pepper and poultry seasoning. While all that's going on, I'm boiling about three cups of chopped cabbage. I smooth the rice/hamburger stuff into the bottom of a casserole pan, layer the top with the cooked cabbage, and then drizzle some tomato sauce over the top and bake it for half an hour.

I love this, but I haven't made it for years because the kids disliked it so much and I had other hills to climb. But I broke out the recipe again a couple weeks ago, and to my astonishment both Poppy and Patch were over the moon about it!

"That was amazing, Mum! Is there more? Can you save some for me for after choir practice?"

and Patch at the table tonight, eyes closed in ecstacy:

"This is soooo goood. It's like manners from heaven."

Er, yes. We could use more manners from heaven around here.

On a tangent... I was truly shocked to my roots to find out that not everybody cooks cabbage rolls, or lazy cabbage rolls, with poultry seasoning.



Wednesday, February 4, 2009


I swear, when I opened this can of paint it was scented just like orange candy! Who knew?

Here I am in my incarnation as sign-painter. We live beside a fairly well-travelled road (in a rural sense of "well-travelled road"), and I need to take advantage of that proximity to promote my existence as a massage therapist.


I do not have $200+ for a 2'X3' professionally printed sign. Mercy! That's a lot of money per square inch!

So I went to the local hardware and picked out a colour to more or less match my business cards, a few small craft brushes for the lettering, and Himself found me a piece of salvaged wood from the demolition stage of the house last summer. Sign fixin's. I cleaned, sanded, filled, primed, and now have a first coat of orange paint. The total cost of my 3'X4' sign? $25.

Now I'll just have to hustle up my inner artiste and make something worth looking at. Pray for me, or whatever it is that you do. This is the bit that gives me a slight case of the collywobbles. No doubt it'll be rougher than whatever I'd get from the sign-shop, but you know what? Good enough for now. And depending on how it turns out, maybe good enough - period. I prefer handmade, if it's well-done with care.

It might start someone talking about massage, and that's as much word of mouth as I've got going for me out here, not really knowing anyone. One of the Epistolarians said that the tongue is like a flame. Good. I need a few flames to get the fire going. It's the right colour for it, eh? ;-)

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Brain Juggling

Poppy gave me a gift certificate for the bookstore this Christmas, and last week I finally used it. It wasn't easy. I don't know why, but now I wander the aisles and think, "Huh. Is this information I could just as easily and deeply access over the internet? Is there anything here I'd really benefit from buying?"

But I bit the bullet and bought the book. "The Brain That Changes Itself", by Norman Doidge. And I'm so glad I did! He uses case studies to illustrate the dumbfounding capacity of the brain to rewire itself to compensate for deficits, and its ability to retrain itself around new parameters. Wow. The people he interviews, both the researchers and the "subjects" (sometimes one and the same) are extraordinary folks, and their stories are inspiring.

In that spirit, I hit my studies. Memorizing origins and insertions and actions of muscles has been my least favourite part of this massage-therapist gig. I'm not very disciplined sometimes. Unless I've got a need right in front of me I find it difficult to project the need for this knowledge into the future for people that I haven't met yet. I learn much more easily and thoroughly when I've got a damaged hamstring under my fingers, or a compacted spheno-basilar symphisis, or what-have-you. Unfortunately the massage training schools aren't very sympathetic, and insist that you be able to write it down on the paper, regardless of whether or not anyone in your vicinity is presenting symptoms.

So, I thought to myself, so, hmmm. How can I trick my brain into taking this stuff in? And keeping it. That's the really tricky bit, the useful retention.

As an experiment, I thought I'd try writing the information with my non-dominant hand while talking the words out. And I took a picture of my efforts for y'all.

It wasn't as bad as I thought, all things considered. I didn't think it would even be legible.

But you know... as much as I'd "forgotten" the stuff I was tested on so excruciatingly last June, it was amazing how quickly it jumped back into my head with a little serious review. And lo - shortly after that a client with a flaring hamstring and quad mess called and presented her leg for my edification treatment.

Funny ol' universe. We're all being juggled, all the live-long day.

Let us cheer the weary traveller
Let us cheer the weary traveller
Let us cheer the weary traveller
Along the heavenly way.