Thursday, December 31, 2009


Lift up your heads, o ye gates!
Be lifted up, ye everlasting doors!

Happy New Year!

Learn from your past.
To fail means you tried. Hurrah! Try again!
This is the year of renewal!

A magnificent, boisterous 2010 to you all!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Madcap Grumbles

Someone on my homeschool network posted this, and I thought it was interesting.

I'm extremely discontented with the quality of socialization and instruction in Poppy's high school, and becoming moreso every day. Unbelievable. I'm not at all happy that they've got my funding allocation. The school is a byword in the area for the drug and alcohol abuse, students having sex in empty classrooms, dealing, vandalism... The teachers spend their time putting out fires, literally and figuratively.

And there's my kid, someone who actually wants to be there and participate. Except there's nothing much to participate in.

(Why does she want to be there?

She likes to talk, and the audience at home has a limited capacity.)

But Mama's getting restless... Gonna be some changes.

The schools get a lot of money per head, certainly more than I'd ever see as a homeschooler, and yet we've got this mess. Stupid system.

The teachers have got their hands tied by parental apathy or outright facilitation, or what-have-you. I realize that. I also realize that I went to each of Poppy's teachers and volunteered to volunteer, just call me and let me know. Haven't heard from any of them.

You know, if there's going to be a public system, then why isn't the public responsible for it? I mean, if some wrong-headed teen-ager is bent on disrupting a class, why isn't one of his/her parents brought on the scene to shadow the child for a week? Why should the rest of the public have to pay that shot?

There's a lot of reasons why it isn't like that. Economics is the primary one. But you know, I think there's a little saviour-thing that can happen with teachers too, especially in areas like this, areas with a lot of substance abuse. They complain about the lack of parental involvement, but underneath there's the whiff of an attitude, a taste of superiority and rescuing, that the Loving Teacher shall wrest the Poor Child from the clutches of Family Dysfunction And Vice and set Said Child on the Road To Success And Enlightenment. A quiet tape playing in the background, you know? And that story doesn't have much room for the Nurturing Parent who raised the child not to need a saviour.

Teachers, sure. Messiahs, no.

I'm still cranky about the suggestions from some of the teachers when Poppy started school there, that she would "finally" get some "socialization". Snort. PLEASE! They call dealing drugs behind the maintenance shed "socialization"?


Sunday, December 27, 2009

The Attention Span of a Gnat

I glanced at my coffee-table in passing today, and noticed how it was reflecting my life. I can't do one thing for more than five minutes. Honestly! From studying, to checking e-mail, on the phone, more studying, copying notes, putting the binding on placemats (unfinished Christmas presents), gnashing gnuts, reading Christmas presents, putzing in the kitchen, flip some pages in my textbook, take pointless photographs...

There's nothing that gets my housework done like the need to study, I tell ya. As soon as I get even a smidge of mid-term anxiety, suddenly my senses are incredibly keen to notice the muck in the drip pans on the range, the plethora of insect corpses in my light fixtures, heaps of previously disregarded clutter, unbaked muffins. Even cleaning my fridge looks like a better deal than cracking the books.

What IS that?

I love what I'm learning, and I like being smug over what I can stuff into my cranium. But for whatever reason, as soon as I really ought to trot out the ol' self-discipline and do some orderly note review and homework finishment, I go all to pieces. I run around in circles. I cook and clean and fret over what I really need to do but can't force myself into.

And then, all in the last week, suddenly it all gels and I finish the last of my assignments, sit down with a composed mind (er... composed-ish), and make it work. Well, make it work well enough to get some decent marks, anyway. I'm thinking it would work a lot better and be a lot more permanent if I had a less frantic method to my madness.

But what am I do to? This is the way I've always been, though it's been magnified by the splintering that happens to a woman's mind after she has children and is forced to adopt the motto "Multi-Task or Bust!" I can wish I were different, but who knows? Maybe someone else is wishing she were me. Maybe there's some tireless, admirable soul studying her organized way through every single day between one class session and the next, just wishing that she could live my frenzy.

Yeah. Probably not, but I like to entertain that vision to console myself.

The boy-child, exulting in -10C. Yay! It's not -40!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Scenes From My Windows

The weather's been more temperate in the last week, but still lows near -30C at night. Brrr. Enough warmth during the day that the trees are all frosty, so everything's beautiful, and I love admiring it all from indoors, particularly if I'm tucked up with a quilt, hot water bottle, and a good book. I'm all for the Great Outdoors when I've got the Great Indoors as my base camp. Mother Nature is .... well, who am I to backchat Mother Nature?

Capucino Candy Canes...

... are better than peppermint. Much. This is your Madcap Christmas Tip, 2009 Edition.

And hey, it's Christmas Day! You know what that means?

The Big Draw! The Give-away! The Coaster Extravaganza!

Drum roll please.....


The winner is....


Annette and Shadowmoss!

Only two people entered, and I don't want to choose. So you both get a set!

Okay ladies, let me know what colours you prefer and I'll get working on it.

Merry Christmas to all! I'm off to play with my new fabric...

Thursday, December 24, 2009


This year Christmas
Became small and small and small
Like a god
Shrinking into a squally babe
This year
Christmas distilled
And all that remained
Was candles
And stockings
And oranges.
I can pick this Christmas up in my arms
Swaddle it in tissue and ribbon
Tuck it away like an ornament
Into the forgotten recesses of my heart
So it can sprout
Like a potato forgotten in the pantry
Sprouts from every eye.

Monday, December 21, 2009


So I promised the kids that yes, we would have a Christmas tree this year, even though I got rid of the 6' monstrosity variety that I couldn't abide crashing into every time I tried to walk between the living room and the kitchen. And we do have a tree. A 30" tree. It sits meekly on the top of a dresser, carefully keeps itself to itself and doesn't get up my nose. I can live with this tree until Jan 1.

I don't like Christmas trees. I might like them a lot more if I weren't bound to the artificial ones, but the allergies dictate that breathing is more important than aesthetics. Even so, you know what Christmas trees remind me of more than anything else? Those tacky Hindu shrines, with all the garish colours and lights and bling. And 19th century Catholic schlock-art. Think of all those copies of the Sacred Heart and Immaculate Heart hanging above countless Catholic dining rooms. Same spirit behind it, I think. The spirit of Electric Pink and Brazen Blue isn't limited by geography. Must be one of them archetypy things.

So I'm a bit of a Christmas Tree Crank. But I love the candles, and bits of (real) greenery and red berries and gingerbread. And stockings. Quite like the stockings. The set I made when the kids were tiny is getting a little rough though, so one fine day I'll have to set my hand to a new design. Not today.

Today the sun dipped behind the building across the road just after 3 p.m., so I lit my Solstice candles. It's a sacrament. A call to prayer.

I light my candles for the weary of heart. This year I'm not one of them, but so often I have been. I light them for so much of the world struggling to survive, locally and overseas. Light for thankfulness for our full freezer and for enough to share. Light for health, and those without it, and my work with them, work that I love. For fresh water, safe enough to drink. For books, and those who share their knowledge, and the ability to educate ourselves.

And Christmas stockings!

I think there might be a book and chocolate and some fabric in that ol' stocking of mine this year. Maybe. You never know, you know. ;-)

And hey,
By the way
Don't forget to enter
The Give-Away!

(see previous post...)

Friday, December 18, 2009

Fabric Coaster Tutorial and a GIVE-AWAY!

Upfront immediately - this isn't original to me. I learned this one recently from Encourager from Be Encouraged. Her tutorial was so helpful, and this project so simple and yet very finished and useful. I've made two sets of four so far. Why another tute? Well, just because it's fun! I changed mine slightly from the directions she gave, to accommodate a heavier bottom fabric. Just a little twist.

So, mes belles et mes beaux, choose yourselves four top fabrics and one bottom fabric. I used a flannel for the bottom, but a smooth cotton would work fine too. It's just what I had on hand, the trimmings off a quilt-back.

For each coaster, you need five pieces, 5"X5", one of each fabric.

Take the four top fabrics, and fold them in half, "wrong" sides touching. Press.

Bottom fabric is FACE UP. (Later the whole shebang gets turned inside out.) Take one top fabric and lay the raw edge along one raw edge of the bottom fabric.

Take another top fabric and lay it along the next raw edge, as in the picture. Continue with all four fabrics. The last top strip gets tucked in under the first one.

Like so.

There. You're done the "piecing". Pin it!

Now, stitch a quarter-inch seam all along the outside.

Take the pins out. Dock the corners and trim the seam allowance to 1/8", being careful not to snip through your stitches. Because, oh, how that will grieve you and cause your teeth to gnash when it you turn it through and find an unholy hole!

Turn it inside out. You just reach your canny fingers through the middle of the front fabrics and wiggle it inside out. I don't have a picture of this, and I don't have a better way of describing it. But it's easy, and You Can Do It!

Take something thin and blunt (I used the blade on my paper scissors, which is almost as blunt as my steak knives), and poke the corners out from the inside to square it up a little.

What have you? A finished coaster! Just press it. With an iron. Stamping on it with your boot doesn't give nearly the same crisp edge.

Now, press it to your bosom if you will, or tie a ribbon around the set you've made and tuck it in with some cookies for the nice person who's hosting the party you'll attend tomorrow.

Ta Da! Ta Done!

I enjoyed that so much, I'm gonna do it again! If for whatever reason you don't feel like making your own, here's the Big Opportunity. Leave a comment, and I'll draw a name. The winner gets a set of four coasters, made in the colours of his/her choice, from the wilds of my stash.

Talk to me, baby!