Sunday, February 27, 2011

Seattle Streets from Sheila

From fellow quilter Sheila. (Have I mentioned before how much I love getting these emails and photos? A lot. Is how much.)

Laurie, Thank you so much for this pattern. I am sending two pics, one of the top and one of the blocks up close. I wasn't sure how much fabric to cut when I started so I ended up with enough squares for two quilts. I made the 15" block. I will take them to church and we give our quilts to either a benefit for a local person with health issues or to a girls ranch for teens in some sort of trouble. The ladies at church thought it looked like stained glass and really liked it. I started with 6", 5" and 4", but when I cut the first strips apart they were a little blah so cut up some 2" and 3", really made a difference. Thanks again, Sheila

The quilt:

Close-up, so you can see that this is made of prints, not solids like it appears in the larger photo:

Friday, February 25, 2011

The Hairdresser Dilemma

So here's my dilemma: My hair desperately needs cutting, and my hairdresser of the past ten-plus years is not calling me back. Two calls, when it's never taken more than one before. (Second voicemail I left was more, "Hope you're doing okay.")

This is a two-part issue. First and most important, I'm hoping she's all right. I wouldn't say we're close friends, but when you chat with somebody for forty-five minutes every six weeks, you bond. And the last couple of times I went in she was extremely stressed and depressed over a separation and pending divorce to the guy she's been with since high school.

I'm hoping she's fine, perhaps off with friends, maybe in someplace tropical. Which is a possibility. But when she's gone on vacation before, she's always changed her voicemail. This time she didn't -- the message is the same as it's always been.

Or maybe she's had the flu. Or maybe she's just busy.

I hope she's just busy.

And no, I don't think she's dumped me. (And isn't it funny how relationship terms tend to slip into talk about hairdressers? I've been with her a lot longer than some people stay married!)

It's interesting how seeing somebody regularly while not having an actual relationship with them limits your ability to check up on them when they're out of touch. You don't want to butt into their personal lives because you assume they're fine and doing great stuff without you, but...

I just realized today that I could call the salon she works at, since I've been calling her cell. So all day today I've been trying to figure out what to say. How do I make sure she's okay without being tactless? It would feel weird to say, "Is she all right? She's not returning my calls," if there is no issue and she's been seeing clients the whole time.

And then (much less important, and I hope you don't think I'm too shallow for even mentioning this), there is the hair issue. My hair is driving me insane, and she really is a wizard at taming my wayward curls and cowlick, and in the next month I'm doing some stuff that's going to require wash-and-wear hair. So I'm going to have to get my hair cut by somebody one way or another, and I have no idea how to do that if she's not available.

But mostly I'm hoping she's okay, and trying to figure out what to do to find out. That's my dilemma.

What would you do/say in my situation?

Monday, February 14, 2011

Dear Egypt

(If your eyes are as old as mine, click on the picture to enlarge.)

From NPR.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Laurie's Prayer

A Facebook friend tonight was lamenting the hurtful actions of an elderly relative. My response:

I've recently found myself wishing that aging meant wiser, kinder, more thoughtful. Instead I'm finding that it just means that people become more of what they were before, for better or worse. Hugs and prayers to you and your family.

My prayer:

Dear God, as I age, please let "more of what she was before" be a blessing, not a curse, to the people around me. Amen.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

The Word Nerd Speaks: "Cahoots"

My favorite word today is "cahoots." No, it's not a word I think about often, but it was in the Seattle Times today, in an article about a Marine Captain stealing Iraq rebuilding funds.

Prosecutors say Schmidt, instead, worked out a deal to award the contracts to an Iraqi contractor, the Al-Methwad Company, which was in cahoots with his wife.

I have actually said "cahoots" out loud three times since I started writing this. (And you just did it too, didn't you? And now your co-workers are looking at you strangely. I'm sorry. But isn't it fun to say?)

Etymologically speaking, the word "cahoots" is used only in American English, and it has almost certainly has French roots. But there are two divergent thoughts on where it actually came from. According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, it probably comes form the French word "cohorte," meaning "cohort," meaning "companion or confederate."

I don't know about you, but I find that kind of...disappointing. Boring, even. There is no visual in that definition -- nothing I can see or hold onto. So let's go to the other one:

1829, Amer.Eng., said to be perhaps from Fr. cahute "cabin, hut" (12c.)

I like that one MUCH better! Not only do the pronunciations align much more closely, but the usage does also. You don't say, "they are cahoots," the way you'd say, "they are cohorts." But you would say, "they are in a cabin with," just like you'd say, "they are in cahoots with." And can't you just SEE the outlaws, up to no good, conspiring together in a cabin?

I love words.

BONUS word for today: Did you know that a group of moles is called a "labor"? Usage:

"With all the piles of dirt in my yard lately, I figured I had a whole labor of moles. Turned out there was just one. But he had a singularly strong work ethic."

Thursday, February 03, 2011

I Wish We Could Fix the Anger

Watch this video. No, I mean REALLY watch it. If your first instinct is to mock, please push that aside. Instead, try to get a feel for who these people really are, outside the video.

I've probably never met them, but I might have. I'm thinking I may have seen them in the rodeo audience, back when I was young and riding horses in a mounted drill team.

Or they could have been in the Ever Open Cafe in my just-post-college years, where I waited tables to earn the money to move from Colorado to Seattle. Yeah, I think that was them, smiling at me when I walked by, sipping coffee at the formica tables. Helping me to fund my escape, one one- or two-dollar tip at a time. (Because you don't survive long in a tough semi-rural world by being too free with your cash.)

Or maybe that was them last month, when I went back to Colorado to visit my parents, sitting the next table over at Old Country Buffet.

Yeah, could have been. But even if not, even if I've never seen them personally, I've seen enough like them that I can tell you a few things that are more likely true than not.

I'd guess that he walks a bit stiff these days due to a life of hard physical work. He rarely removes the ball cap, except for the National Anthem. He won't tell off-color jokes in mixed company, and if he and I were heading into a room at the same time, he'd leap forward to open the door for me.

I'd guess that she's a longtime church member who has sung in the choir since she was a child. She probably does some kind of hand craft as a hobby and gives what she makes away. And if you're feeling poorly, my guess is she'd be the first to make you a casserole.

In short, I imagine they are, at heart, decent, both of them. Salt of the earth.

So what happened? How did they end up on YouTube, singing an affronted, self-righteous paean to a woman so narcissistic that she somehow managed to make a recent national tragedy all about her?

My guess can be summed up in two words: Fox News.

Before you think this is me, being a knee-jerk liberal, I'd like to point you in the direction of something written by a conservative over on the FrumForum (hardly a bastion of liberal ideas, because I like to get my news from all sides.) It's from an article titled, only slightly tongue in cheek, "Fox Geezer Syndrome."

Over the past couple of years, I’ve been keeping track of a trend among friends around my age (late thirties to mid-forties). Eight of us (so far) share something in common besides our conservatism: a deep frustration over how our parents have become impossible to take on the subject of politics. Without fail, it turns out that our folks have all been sitting at home watching Fox News Channel all day – especially Glenn Beck’s program.

Used to be I would call my mom and get updated on news from the neighborhood, her garden, the grandchildren, hometown gossip, and so forth. I’ve always been interested in politics, but never had the occasion to talk about them with her. She just doesn’t care.

Or didn’t. I don’t know when it happened, exactly, but she began peppering our conversation with red-hot remarks about President Obama. I would try to engage her, but unless I shared her particular judgment, and her outrage, she apparently thought that I was a dupe or a RINO. Finally I asked my father privately why Mom, who as far as I know never before had a political thought, was so worked up about Obama all the time.

“She’s been like that ever since she started watching Glenn Beck,” Dad said.

The author goes on to talk about his frustration with his mom. Not with her political beliefs (they're both conservatives), but rather with her constant, 24/7 unrelenting anger about them. I know about this kind of anger, because I've seen it in my own relatives.

The author goes on to say that this isn't entirely a Fox News thing; MSNBC is guilty of anger politics as well. Can't disagree with that -- I like Rachel Maddow, but I never watch MSNBC either because I find constant anger from either side to be a bigger burden than I want to bear. (Although you don't want to get me started on the people who want to steal my cancer-survivor son's heathcare. But that's another topic.)

The big difference between the two channels, though, is the age group they reach. And let's be honest. There aren't a lot of people who are sitting at home all day watching MSNBC. And the more exposure you get to anger politics, the angrier you get.

For anybody who's thinking "So what?" Another story. Charles Alan Wilson, a 64-year-old from Washington, is serving a one-year sentence for making death threats against Senator Patty Murray.

Friends and neighbors saw Charlie Wilson, carpenter and handyman, as a kind, hard-working guy who brought over fresh berries and apples, "the perfect neighbor...the guy wouldn't hurt anyone." It wasn't the Charlie they knew.

Yet, there's the politics behind it all, said one understanding friend of 40 years. [...] A cousin suspected that Charlie, who became housebound due to his poor health, spent too much time watching TV. Another friend agreed. "His brother got him a computer and he was able to stay connected with family. And he watched television and found Glenn Beck." The friend said he, too, found Beck, a Washington native son, about the same time.

"I understand how [Charlie's] fears were grown and fostered by Mr. Beck's persuasive personality. The same thing happened to me but I went in a different direction with what I was seeing. Rather than blame politicians for the current issues, I simply got prepared for what Glenn said was coming.

I won't even get into what I think about Glenn Beck and his complete disregard for facts. What concerns me even more than that is the way he and his cohorts stoke fear and anger among a group that is already uneasy about the huge amounts of change they've seen in their lifetimes. That's difficult enough for anyone to deal with.

But what happens when you take this unease and throw in "news" organizations dedicated to creating imaginary boogeymen under their beds? ("Kenyan president!" "Every Muslim a terrorist!" "Dead birds a sign of impending doom!" "I'm the only one who doesn't think you're stupid!") What happens is that life goes from disconcerting to terrifying. And that's just what the anger politics people want -- viewers who are so terrified and angry that it's all they can think and talk about.

I wonder if the children and grandchildren of the two folks in the video wish they could get their old grandma and grandpa back.

I'll bet Charles Wilson's sure do.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Happy Groundhog Day

My grandparents' anniversary was on Groundhog Day. That's what I always think of on Feb. 2.

When I was back at my parents' for Christmas, they talked about how they could never discourage the two of them from leaving the retirement home unsupervised on sunny days and taking their two-person electric scooter out for a drive. Mostly on the wide, paved trails, but occasionally on actual streets. My grandpa was mostly blind by this time, and my grandma was mostly deaf and had moderate dementia. But between the two of them they made up almost a whole driver. And I never heard of any accidents. (Thanks be to God and attentive drivers with good brakes.)

They made it past their sixtieth anniversary. Their marriage outlived many, many groundhogs. He died less than a year after she did. Yes, I think "broken heart" is an official medical diagnosis.

Not sure how this is connected to Groundhog Day, but I'm pretty sure it is.

Also, I just read today that there are 13 different groundhogs, not just Punxatawney Phil. (I believe these others are known as the "Lesser Groundhogs.") I also read that their is no statistical correlation between any of them seeing a shadow and the actual length of winter weather.

I am so disillusioned.

But then again, I grew up in Denver, where you never plant flowers till after Memorial Day due to the danger of snow/frost. When I was a child, the idea of not having AT LEAST six more weeks of winter after Feb. 2 was always a source of great amusement/confusion. We would have been thrilled to have just six more weeks!

Today, shockingly, it is sunny in Seattle. And cold -- 31 degrees. If this Groundhog Day thing is right and we're getting six more weeks of this stuff... Well, I just may have to go find my winter coat.

(Yes, this is me, gloating over what we're seeing vs. you folks in the midwest and east. Because I'm just that mean.)

(Or maybe I'm jealous of you people who get four seasons.)