Thursday, August 31, 2006

Look, Ma, No Black! (Or: My Autumn Strip Twist Quilt)


So how long has it been since I made a quilt without at least some black as a design element, at least in one border? Honestly, I can't remember! I love black and use it to define things, so this quilt was a bit of a stretch for me. But I like it. (I got to the borders and kept thinking, okay, maybe just one black border? A little one?) But the green was dark, so I have kept my sanity. :-)

This quilt was a great opportunity to get rid of some fabrics I don't normally use in quilts, like those "muddy" batiks. Or some of my many, many yards of orange hand-dyes. (A year or so ago I started playing around with dyeing, using two colors each of yellow and red. I ended up with something like three yards of various colors of orange. It was all about the process of dyeing, and I never stopped to think, "What am I going to do with three yards of orange fabric??")

I couldn't quite get a photo that captures the whole quilt -- I couldn't get the height and distance. Maybe today I'll have my very tall son hold it up for me so I can take a picture straight on.

Thanks and kudos to Bonnie Hunter at Quiltville.com for the pattern. You are SO generous!

I've got a gorgeous variegated yellow quilting thread for it -- Superior Rainbows, a shiny, lustrous thread. I'm going to freehand leaves everywhere. Right now I'm practicing drawing them, to make sure I don't accidentally do, say, a maple leaf that looks like an illegal substance... (Hey, Mom, what's THAT?)

What would you do for binding? I think I have enough of both the green and the leaf fabric. Which would you choose? Contrast or coordinate with outer border?

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

A story worth reading

On January 7, 2006, freelance reporter Jill Carroll was taken hostage in Baghdad. Her translator was killed.

When she was finally released, 82 days later, people of every political persuasion tried to make her a poster child for their own pet causes. She's a hero! No, she's a traitor! No, she's [insert political issue here.]

But, fortunately, she was a reporter with a powerful ability to tell her own story. Gripping, painful, and blessedly free of politics. This series ran in the Seattle Times for ten days, and it became the first thing I turned to every morning. Everything rang true to me. I found myself thinking, over and over, yes, this is what it would feel like to be held hostage by people capable of killing you.

Read the story. You won't regret it.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Bonding over Les Bleus (or: Yes, I am a Stalker)

I was in the middle of a breathtakingly beautiful ferry ride Saturday afternoon when I saw it. It didn't really catch my attention at first. Just another sports jersey. White. Number 12. The name "Henry" on the back. Then these details clicked together. White, #12, Henry! This man was wearing a Thierry Henry away jersey!

Zut, alors! Another fan of Les Bleus!

Of course, I did what any other calm, collected, rational fan of an obscure sports team would do: I ditched my traveling companions and stalked him to the other end of the ferry.

"'Scuse me?" I said, "Do you mind if I ask you where you got your jersey?"

As I had hoped, his face lit up. "The Adidas store," he said, "Are you...? Do you like...?" His accent was melodic and sounded Caribbean, or perhaps French-speaking African. (Of course he wasn't American-born. Truly, how many of us American-born fans of Les Bleus are there out there?)

"Completely," I said, nodding vigorously. "And I'm still hoping to find a Zidane jersey."
He looked sympathetic. "Yeah," he nodded, "they've all been sold out since before World Cup." He named off a few other stores and websites, (all of which I had already tried.) I thanked him profusely for attempting to help. He wished me luck. I smiled and walked away, rejoining friends and family feeling somehow rejuvenated.

Perhaps this is why professional sports teams were created -- so we grown-ups can again feel what it's like to connect with total strangers with the same joy and innocence we once felt as five-year-olds across a teeter-totter.

Allez Les Bleus!

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Snakes on a Plane (Or: The joys of being a grownup)

My daughter went to see "Snakes on a Plane" when it came out last weekend. The plot is: Snakes. On a plane. Lots of people die. I'm guessing the good guys win. The end.

It reminded me of one of my absolute favorite things about being a grownup: I never, ever, never never ever ever have to watch one of these movies again.

Yea, adulthood!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Love and Polyester (Or: My Seattle Streets Christmas Quilt)

If Google sent you here when you came looking for directions to the Seattle Streets Quilt? You actually want my "pictorial tutorial" page. Go here and have fun.




I have a confession to make: I have reason to believe that this quilt contains some...brace yourself...polyester fabrics.

If you're not a quilter, you're thinking, "Yeah, so?" But quilters are turning blue and losing consciousness at this information. With a few specialty exceptions, cotton is what you use in quilts. It sews up easier, breathes better, drapes better and is generally a superior fabric.

But there's a story here. (You knew there was, right?)

Several years back, my husband went to Hong Kong on business. I'd heard about the fantastic fabrics in Hong Kong, so I casually said, "Bring me back some fabric." Now, for me, this was a simple request. I mean, buying fabric is a natural function, right? Like breathing, or eating, except easier and more interesting.

I had no idea that I was sending him on a quest that was the emotional equivalent of a trip to the feminine products aisle. When he got back, he shoved an armload of fabric into my hands with the look of somebody getting rid of a bucket of rattlesnakes. "Here," he said. "I didn't know what to get. There was just so much and I didn't know what to buy."

In the pile was a gorgeous blue-and-silver brocade, a couple of yards of slippery knits, and two separate one-yard cuts of suspiciously shiny Christmas fabrics. I oohed and aahed over all of them. Now, I am not a brocade person. But I was still kind of touched that, after all these years, he thought I might be. (And the fabric looked wonderful in a cape for the church Christmas pageant.) The knits may have quickly (don't tell!) found their way to a new and better home. This left the Christmas fabrics.

For three or four years now, these fabrics have been sitting in my drawer of Christmas quilt stuff, making me feel guilty. How could I use them in a quilt? They're...they're...polyester!

Then, a few weeks ago, I decided to use up a big batch of my other Christmas fabrics in a Seattle Streets quilt (or two or five), and I realized that I couldn't not use these fabrics. These fabrics are a part of my history. My husband braved the strange and foreign world of Hong Kong fabric vendors to buy them for me, because he loved me. These fabrics belong in my quilt. And so here they are.

You know, I've never actually done the burn test to verify my suspicions. (When you light a snippet of cotton fabric, it burns. Polyester melts.) I don't really want to know. It's kind of like the "purebred" puppy you got from the neighbor that looks suspiciously like the mutt that was hanging around on the block a few months back. If you love the puppy, does it really matter where it came from?

So if you're looking at my quilts, and you see a swatch that looks suspiciously shiny and won't hold a crease, just know: Sometimes love can look a lot like polyester.

Quilt info: This is my Seattle Streets pattern, available for free from Ufo-rphanage for Quilters.
Block size is 15", which makes up very quickly.
Strip sizes are 2", 3", 4", 5" and 6".
Strip sets were cut mostly into 4", 5" and 6" strips. (4+5+6=15.)
Finished quilt measures 60x75.

Seattle Streets Quilt Pink Quilt
Christina's Seattle Streets Quilt in Brights

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Hairballs and shinguards (Or: Another soccer season begins)

There are some who might consider it a bad omen to discover, on the verge of a new soccer season with a brand new soccer team, that one's cat has harked up hairballs all over one's shinguards.

I am not one of those people.

Because I discovered it three hours before game time, when there was still time to stick 'em in the washing machine. So I was able to enter my game with spankin' clean shinguards. A GOOD omen. (And I am currently searching for a storage spot for said shinguards that is not also the cat's favorite place to sleep.)

Yes, my new soccer season started tonight. I play on a women's indoor team, which is less grueling than an outdoor team. The field is smaller and our playing time is 45 minutes -- precisely half the time of an outdoor game. Still. It's soccer. It's probably better for somebody who's on the far side of forty. And it's really, really fun. I haven't played for two months, and before the game I was so excited that it was a real struggle to keep from skipping around the house and smiling idiotically for no reason.

I was very excited to switch teams, too. My old team couldn't pull a team together for this eight-week season, so someone cobbled together a team of extras from other teams. And ohmygosh, these women are good. Tonight was really, really, incredibly, impossibly fun.

You see, I come from a bad team. Yes, bad. Not just kind of bad. We were truly so bad that it was almost art. We were the William Hung of women's soccer. We would routinely lose games by double digits. Our games wouldn't really start till we got down by five points and could add an additional player (at which point we could almost hold our own.) In three seasons, we won two games. And both of those were won with borrowed players.

But tonight was...different. I would shout, "I'm covering S., go to ball...." And the person I was talking to would actually do it. There was always somebody open to pass to. I never felt I had to cover three players at once. Amazing.

When you play on a bad team, you always wonder if it's you. Without you, would your team be good? Now, happily, I'm thinking it really wasn't me. Or at least, pretty much not me. I'm far from the strongest link, but I'm not an empty space in the chain, either. I pretty much kind of held my own. Yes, we lost 5-3. But we were playing the strongest team in the league, the team that's won the past three seasons. And we'd never played together before. And we were playing with no subs, and we were tied until the last four minutes, when we kind of ran out of gas. (Actually, by the end, I was feeling that I, too, could have harked up hairballs. But that's Way Too Much Information.)

Is it horrible of me to hope that our team doesn't get back together next season?

Let's Hear it for Orcas!


Nature is at worst cruel (think: carnivores.) At best, indifferent. She cares about survival percentages, not about individuals. Last Thursday I heard two different facts: First, that 40% of baby orcas don't survive, and second, that the new baby in K Pod was missiing. Like everybody, I assumed the worst.

Well, guess what? Here's our baby, alive and well. Gave me a reason to smile all day yesterday.

If you're ever in our neck of the woods, spring for a whale watching trip. It's worth the $$. (Or $$$.) Your boat is putting along in the middle of nowhere, and suddenly, Wow. There they are. Leaping up over and over and over, until the sun starts heading down and your camera batteries die. They're magnificent.

So let's hear it for our K-pod baby!

Monday, August 21, 2006

25 Things I Love (Or: in lieu of quilt photos)

I had hoped to have quilt photos to post this morning, but I'm still doing battle with the borders on the quilt from @#$%, so hopefully in a day or two. So instead I'm listing 25 things I love:

1. Finishing a quilt, especially one for somebody I love.
2. Watching one of my kids doing something he or she is good at.
3. Night kayaking on the Sound, seeing the phosphorescence drip off my paddle like diamonds. (Okay, so I do it once a year. Still.)
4. Understanding something in a language that's not mine.
5. 12:34 (one-two-three-four. It's a college flashback thing.)
6. Reading something someone else has written, getting that zing of recognition, and thinking, "Yes! That's me too!"
7. Getting up before sunrise and seeing the possibilities of a new day.
8. Hearing Neil Young, or Pink Floyd, or Paul Simon.
9. Sublimely-played soccer
10. Finding a TV show the entire family enjoys. (Yea, "Lost"!)
11. "You've got Mail!" And it's not Spam.
12. Encountering an unexpected creature (coyote, deer, bald eagle, blue heron, even salmon or rabbit or frog)in an environment we humans thought we'd claimed as our own.
13. Making my family laugh
14. When someone in my family makes me laugh
15. Warming up with my husband's body heat on a cold day
16. Hiking hills so steep my feet slide out from under me
17. Blogging
18. Soccer season
19. Bright colors set off by black
20. The mindless vzzz, vzzz, vzzz of roller-blading
21. Caffeine(!!!!)
22. The Easter sunrise service
23. Seeing the aha! look when a child finally figures out the two-rook checkmate. (For some reason this is usually the turning point to really understanding chess.)
24. Handbells
25. When people post comments to my blog. (Hint, hint.) :-)

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Mariners without Moyer? England without Beckham? The world tilts on its axis (Or: Is this why so many women don't love sports?)

One of my favorite newspaper photos, clipped and saved from 1995, is of the Mariner dugout at the end of their last game, taken as they realize that their incredible playoff run is coming to an end short of the World Series they had dreamed of. My favorite player, Joey Cora, is weeping, being comforted by an impossibly young Alex Rodriguez. Years later, I was chatting with an eighty-year-old Irish-born former nun, and the topic turned to our all-time favorite Mariners. "Joey Cora," I said. "Joey Cora," she agreed. "Oh, when he cried..." We exchanged knowing looks, sports sisters, knowing that both of us had wanted more than anything to make things better for him, to keep Cora on the team until the Mariners won the World Series. Of course, we're still waiting. Cora was traded in 1998 and retired later that year, and the Mariners have never quite gotten it together.

If there is an athletes' heaven, it's a place where all players can play on a team that loves them from start to finish, throughout their careers, until both players and fans are ready for a change. A place where they never get too old, where the level of play never wavers, where the fans never turn fickle... Imagine Zidane, perhaps eternally combined with a maturing Ribery. Beckham, forever playing for England. The Seattle Mariners, with Griffey,A-Rod, Cora...and Jamie Moyer.

Moyer was traded yesterday. Apparently with his permission. How can this happen? How can a man who is so much a part of Seattle that he has a local charitable foundation go to another team? Yes, the Mariners kind of suck this year. But how will that be better without Moyer?

And England played Greece (2004 Euro champs) without Beckham. Thrillingly or tragically, England won 4-0, virtually sealing his exclusion from the team. I was never a real Beckham fan until this year, until I actually watched him play in the World Cup. Before, I'd just read about him, and I'd always considered him a "sarong-wearing, multimillionaire pretty boy" (in the immortal words of the incredible Nick Hornby.)And then I watched him play in the World Cup, and I thought, "Wow. This guy really cares about this team." And now it's not his team any more.

Not to be sexist, but I wonder if this isn't why more women aren't sports fans. Women have a tendency to love our players like our own kids, and it causes us personal pain when bad things happen to them. When Moyer gets traded, or Beckham doesn't make the team, or Trezeguet misses his penalty shot and loses the World Cup, we can't help but think, "How is he? Is he okay? How does he feel?" We read between the lines in interviews, trying to ascertain the true emotions beneath a speech that has probably been written by someone else. We can't shut off the empathy that has always allowed us to tell, with one glance or one word, when our child has lost a game, aced a test, or failed to make a team. It's an ability developed over millennia. We can't just flip a switch and make it go away. And I don't think most of us would want to.

It's not that men don't feel these things. But I think that, in general it's easier for them to say, "Yeah, Moyer's gone, but we got two right-handed pitching prospects!" Easier for them to accept that sports is never about the players but about the win.

So Moyer is leaving, and my Mariners stagger toward the end of their long, sad season. Maybe our two new pitching prospects will give them hope to survive life in the cellar and dream of better things.

But I have to say: Goodbye, Jamie. You'll be missed.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Another Photo (Or: See what my family does in fancy restaurants)



The conversation went something like this:

Me: Okay, P., cut it out now
Daughter, to her brother, whispering: Just one more time
Flash, snap, giggles
Daughter: Sorry to undermine your authority, mom. I just couldn't resist.

It's actually kind of a cool photo. In a quirky, funny, so our family kind of way. Yes, we go to fancy restaurants and stick straws up the insides of our lips.

Friday, August 18, 2006

I WANT TO PLAY XBOX, I AM ____ED (Or: Hiking with my big, black, goofy, doofy dog)

Our black lab's name is Mr. Spock. Like the Star Trek character. It's irony. Get it? Because the real Mr. Spock is calm, collected, and emotionless. Words that have probably never been used to describe any black lab that ever lived. Especially not this one.

Nothing is safe around this dog. Everything is consumable: paper towels, coffee grounds, rubber chew toys (which he likes to try to sneak into his crate at night. If he manages it, we will never see that chew toy again.) He considers the garbage his own personal smorgasbord. He is not deterred by closed cabinets. Last night I heard KaTHUNK KaTHUNK from the back deck and discovered him playing with an empty wine bottle. How did he get it out of the recycling bin (which is inside a closed cabinet) and out the back door with nobody seeing? It's beyond me. He's Houdini dog.

Thanks to our wonderful dog trainer, my husband's cousin, he is extremely well-trained, but he has to be reminded to be well-behaved. It's just not natural for him. This dog is ADHD times a hundred. He's a great dog, but we will probably never be able to leave him roaming in the house unattended. (Last time we tried, he discovered and consumed half a pound of chocolate. Not pretty.) Which means he spends a lot of time in his crate or his X-pen, (a large wire cage that keeps him safe from himself.)

We're not cruel owners, which is why Spock gets to go hiking. A lot. It's his favorite thing in the universe. We have to spell out the word "walk" around him, or he goes berserk. (Although lately I've noticed him starting to jump when I say "W." Next we'll have to start speaking in a daily-changing code.) There are several miles of incredible wooded trails across the street from us, with a fresh-water spring at the bottom of a ravine. Rabbits, coyote, and deer live nearby. Last week a blue heron came and perched in a tree for awhile. The owners have, sadly, started to develop the area, but we're enjoying it while it lasts.

We were out hiking last night and got to a place where the trail cuts across the dead end of a subdivision street. And there, on the pavement, in yellow chalk and foot-high letters, someone had written, "I WANT TO PLAY XBOX. I AM ____ED." (Somebody -- mom, maybe? -- had wiped out the letters in the last word. But we can guess.)

Imagining the exchange:
Mom: It's a beautiful day. Go outside.
Child: But I want to play video games!
Mom: No. Outside.
Child: But M-O-M!!!

Stick to your guns, mom. There are a lot fewer memories to be found in an X-BOX than there are in the great outdoors with a piece of yellow chalk. Even if the memories you've created are mine.

Figuring out the blog thing



Bear with me. I'm trying to figure out how to get this photo to post into my profile.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

A moment, captured. A moment, savored



Every once in awhile, someone you know will take a photo that is more than just a photo. Like this one. My daughter took this picture of her brothers when we were at the beach last weekend. What's amazing to me it how it captures them, and how it captures the moment. Even though I can't see their faces, I would know from miles away that it's my sons. The clothes they choose, their stride, their posture. These are my boys. On the beach. At sunset. She captured it perfectly.

Doesn't my daughter have an eye?

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

My Summer Romance (Or: Allez Les Bleus!)

It began, as do most summer romances, with a rush of adrenaline. Hot European nights and cool Seattle mornings. Exciting interlude after exciting interlude. My heart would race, my cheeks would flush... Nothing, but nothing could keep me from my new true love.

And then the days began to get shorter, the rush began to fade, and reality started to settle in. There was the distance factor -- how do you bridge a gap of thousands of miles? And the language factor -- my French is adequate but far from fluent. But truly, I know that we can make this work.

I'm speaking, of course, of Les Bleus, the French soccer team, the team I fell in love with. The World Cup second-place team which was not supposed to get far, but which carried us, their fans, on a wild and exciting ride up to the thrilling final, where they barely lost on penalty kicks (and, yes, an infamous, ignominious yet somehow still rather glorious headbutt.)

My love is, of course, for the team itself. The players are mostly kids, a lot of them only a few years older than mine, and they bring out the maternal in me. When David Trezeguet missed his penalty shot in the final, the only miss for either team, I wanted nothing more than to take him home, wrap him in a quilt, feed him chicken soup, and introduce him to my niece. (How about it, David? She's nice, funny, cute, single, and she'll take your mind off things. Whaddaya say?)

I love the black, blanc, beur (black, white, arab) aspect of this team, a rainbow of players in a Europe that still values the monochromatic. The team offered a calming salve for France's race-riot wounds of last autumn. Other countries seem to pick the best white players. France picks the best players, period, and in my mind that counts for a lot.

And now the World Cup is over, and Les Bleus are starting their run toward Euro 2008 minus some of their biggest stars, notably the newly-retired Zinedine Zidane. And I'm discovering the challenges, as an American, of trying to follow this run. The American media can't be counted on to get even the days of the matches right. I spent awhile on Tuesday trying to find results for the France-Bosnia friendly that one report told me was to take place that day. Oops, nope, wrong. It was actually Wednesday. This is how seriously the US media takes European soccer. (They won, 2-1. Allez Les Bleus! )

So what's next? Will new captain Patrick Vieira be able to don the leadership mantle that fit so comfortably on Zidane's shoulders? Will he and coach Domenech be able to convice fellow vieux (old guys) Makelele and Thuram to return? Will young guys like Ribery and Malouda live up to their potential? Will Trezeguet get his mojo back, regain his starter's position, and recover from being infamously, horribly immortalized in the #1 hit, the Coup de Boule (Headbutt) song? Will I be able to figure out any of these things with my high school-level, idiom- and argot-impaired French? And does anybody but me (and the French) really care?

Stay tuned and find out. And Allez les Bleus!
(One more thing: Anyone who can find me a source for a white Zidane #10 away jersey, I'll be your best friend forever.)

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Quilt projects for this weekend



Give me feedback. What do you think for borders for this one? Plain black would sure be easier, but I could also do a a triple border -- black on inside and ouside, with a stained glass-looking border in the middle. What would you do if it were your quilt?

DH and youngest son will be out of town this weekend, and the older two are pretty self-reliant, so I'm going to be "retreating" this weekend -- spending the weekend working on quilts. My goal for this weekend will be to get the borders done on three quilts: This one (Magic Tiles), my Seattle Streets quilt, and an autumn-colored strip twist. (I just realized that it's mid-August! I need to get this one done so it can be on my bed starting next month!) I also want to find the right binding and sew it to a cool colors Strip Twist. Similar to this one, but different colors. If the link actually works. Thanks to Bonnie Hunter at Quiltville.com for all of her work making these patterns available.

If all goes well, I'll post pictures at the end of the weekend!

Sports viewing (Or: My ulterior motive)



My spouse is a genuinely good person. He still makes me laugh after twenty years of marriage. He's my best friend.

But if he had a flaw (note that I am saying "if." This is, of course, a theoretical flaw), :-) it would be that he doesn't like to watch sports as much as I do.

Okay, so maybe I had something to do with this. Yes, maybe I nearly got him beat up on our first date (when I was just one short year out of Denver) -- a Broncos-Seahawks game in the Seattle Kingdome -- by cheering madly for my Broncs and obnoxiously waving my orange Bronco pennant around.

And yes, maybe he has a friend who will try to tell you that I nearly took his ear off hurling my keys across the room during one of these beloved Broncs' many Super Bowl losses in the early Elway years.

(For the record: That friend is lying. What actually happened was, I was gently setting my keys down on the counter when they broke off of the keyring and went flying across the room, all of their own volition. And the fact that this happened immediately after the Broncos allowed yet another touchdown was entirely coincidental. And they missed his stupid ear by at least six inches. So don't listen to him. The crybaby.)

So now spouse is not a big sports fan. Go figure. Which is why I took my seventeen-year-old son to the Real Madrid-DC United soccer game last week. It's not that I intentionally excluded him, or our other two kids. It's just that Michael and I are the soccer fans. And at $75 a ticket, it makes sense to take the people who will enjoy it. Right?

Now, interestingly, Delightful Spouse and the other two kids are saying, "Well, I do like soccer." So I'm feeling a tad guilty.

But here's the thing. I'm getting ready to purchase season tickets to the Seattle Sounders games for next year. (General admission tickets are amazingly cheap -- something like $12 a ticket. .) And suddenly we have five soccer fans in the house, not two. Which means that, if I play my cards right, I'll never have to go to a soccer game by myself.

Funny how these things work out

Monday, August 14, 2006

Seattle Streets

If Google sent you here when you came looking for directions to the Seattle Streets Quilt? You actually want my "pictorial tutorial" page. Go here and have fun.



This is the great quilting work of my life. No, I'm not kidding. It's an original quilt I've named "Seattle Streets," because it reminded me of sitting on a high floor of a downtown Seattle office building, looking down at the streets and buildings below. It's an incredibly easy and fast quilt to make -- entirely strip pieced. The pattern is currently available at Niki Roberts' page, "Ufo-rphanage for Quilters."

Since I made this, I've sent the pattern to quilters on five continents, which, to me, is way beyond cool. (If you're in Africa [or, perhaps, a researcher in Antarctica] and download the pattern, let me know!) If you're a quilter, check it out. And if you make one, send me a photo!

Dot's Seattle Streets quilt
My Seattle Streets in Christmas fabrics
Christina's Seattle Streets in brights!
Robin's Seattle Streets with band T-shirts!
Sue's Quilt Pink Seattle Streets with white "leading"


Verizon.. (Or: is it in poor taste to include @#$% in your blog title?)

Okay. So. I have an MBA. I understand that it's necessary for companies to cut costs to maximize shareholder value. I understand that this has come to mean outsourcing. I may not agree with the choice, but that's the way our system is set up. And I am genuinely big on encouraging and helping people in impoverished countries to lift themselves up.

That said, is it too much to ask that tech support people actually be able to speak the language of the country they're taking calls from?

We came home last night from four fun-but-long days of vacation, six of us in a tiny two-bedroom beach condo, and each of us wanted nothing more than an hour or so to veg in front of the computer, check e-mail, surf the web, and generally reconnect, via modem, to the outside world. But wait. No DSL. DD's sweetheart of a boyfriend spent awhile trying to fix things and said that everything on our end was working fine. It looked like it was a Verizon problem.

I have no idea where Verizon outsources to, so please don't accuse me of being biased against the people of any particular country. But here is an excerpt from our conversation this morning:

Service Tech: Where is your nid?
Me: My what?
ST: Your nid. Where is your nid?
Me: Um...I don't know what you're saying.
ST: Your nid. Where is it located?
Me: My...nid?
ST: Yes. Your nid. Where is it?
Me: Uh...I don't know what that is.
ST: Your nid. N-I-D. Where is it?
Me: What are you saying?

Apparently she was actually saying NID. She spelled it out. And I still don't know what that is -- she didn't have the language skills to explain. Perhaps nids are standard dinner table conversation where she lives? Or perhaps I'm just not techno-geeky enough.

After more than an hour of rising levels of frustration, both hers and mine, (during which she repeatedly asked me to do all the things we'd already done to try to reestablish service: Turn off the computer and turn it back on? Gosh, why didn't I think of that?!?) she finally set up a service appointment. So I need to be here, in the house, from now (9:00) till 5:00 tonight. Whoopee.

I was so frustrated I actually called Comcast to see what was involved in switching service. And they told me, "Due to extraordinarily high call volumes..."

In the immortal words of the Saturday Night Live skit, "We don't care. We don't have to."

*sigh.*

Quilts? Soccer? Chess? And what's that Etc.?

So what's with the name of the blog?

The real answer, of course, is that I want to be absolutely sure that everybody who reads this is completely, totally, 100% bored with at least two-thirds of my postings.

Or else I want you to join me in my current life passions. Your pick.

So what are those passions?

Quilts.
What creative activity can hold the attention of an undiagnosed ADD, extremely-low-boredom-threshold type like me? It has to be quilting. A multi-multi-step process that, when finished, allows you to actually, physically, envelop and enfold the people you love. And to do it with energy and color, through a tactile process that encompasses both sight and touch. That is quilting.

What I love, personally, are quilts that combine bright colors with black. No, the black isn't so interesting by itself. But when you combine black with colors, it gives those colors a definition and interest that would be lacking if all you saw were bright color after bright color after bright color. Insert Life Metaphors as desired.

Soccer. It starts so innocently. You sign up your beloved child for a soccer team. You watch as he and his teammates gallop up and down the field, clotted around the ball, and you think, "Oh, how sweet. Now what's the point of this game again?"

And then, as time goes by, you learn about corner kicks, and goal kicks, and offsides. And then you sign up another child, and you start kicking the ball around yourself, badly but with gusto, and before you know it, you're leaping out of bed in the morning to watch two World Cup games a day on the Spanish language channel. And you don't speak Spanish. And when those games are done, you're not thinking, "Wow, that was a lot of soccer." You're thinking, "But there were four games today. Four. What about Poland vs. Ecuador?? I NEED to see Poland vs. Ecuador!!!"

Cocaine. Meth. Soccer. Addictive stimulants, all.

But at least soccer is legal.

Chess. If there is a benefit to growing older, it has to be the ability to look back and see where one decision, one choice, has led you to a place where you were supposed to be all along. For me, that describes chess in my life.

It doesn't seem so long ago that I took over coaching an elementary chess club. Okay, so maybe I wasn't talented or skilled. (Maybe I didn't actually, y'know, like, play chess.) What I had going for me was a refusal to allow the death of a program that had benefited my child, combined with a mulish inability to admit I couldn't do something. And that seems to have been enough.

It's been eight years now. Eight years, maybe three hundred kids (at 60+ per year), and a shelf full of trophies. It's so odd to look back on this, on how things took off, and to recognize that I may have started this, but none of this was about me. I was just a catalyst.

And this is my youngest child's last year at this school. I will probably be involved in some way with this program in the future, but it won't be the same. That makes this year very bittersweet. Sweet, because I don't think you can engage in an activity for eight years without some degree of burnout. And bitter because... Well, because these are my kids. I have worked with some of them week after week for seven years -- kindergarten through sixth grade. I've cheered them on, cried with them, nurtured them and loved them. And watched with pride as they have learned to nurture and teach the kids coming up behind them. It is hard to let that go.

So I hope you'll follow along through this year as we prepare for the coming years, attempt to take a team to Nationals in May, and hire a REAL coach to take the team forward into the future.

And then there's that et cetera.

What else is there? Who knows? But isn't life 95% about the et ceteras?

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