Thursday, March 29, 2012

Book #2: The Purpose of a Dog

Vacation is always a good time to do some reading and for the beach a paperback is far superior to an e-reader.  So, in my continuing quest to read more I decided to bring The Purpose of a Dog by Bruce Cameron.

I love dog books and I loved this book, but it might have been a mistake to take this one on a non-dog vacation.  By the end of the week I missed my dog, Seamus SO much.  I couldn't wait to get home to him.  One of the dogs in the book was also a Golden Retriever and so many of the stories reminded me of Seamus.  It is written from the dog's perspective.  There are many sad parts to it, but it seems to get "inside the dog's head" in ways that few other books can.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Cape Romano, Florida

While we were in Florida we took a boat trip to a place called Cape Romano.  This is a remote island accessable only by boat.  The trip was rich with wonderful things, like.....dolphins -

LOTS of shells -

shore birds willing to "pose" -

ospreys -

and most fun of all, a weird misplaced bit of "sci-fi" architecture -

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Adventures in Florida

We just came back from a beautiful week in Florida.  The vacation started out rather rough and didn't turn out as we had planned, but it was wonderful just the same.  Work has been very busy for my husband and I was in need of a mid winter get away.  At first we set out to find a place that was warm and offered an opportunity to snorkel so we headed off to Key Largo, Florida.  We are fond of Hilton resorts and have wonderful memories of our Hawaii vacation two years ago at Wiakoloa so we booked a six night stay at the Key Largo Hilton.  Our flight had been delayed causing our rental car company to give our car away.  We couldn't find our way out of the Miami airport and decided quickly that we hated both the car we were finally given and the Miami traffic.  But we finally made it to Key Largo only to discover that it didn't look much like the pictures on the website, our room overlooked the parking lot and the beach was a tiny strip of sand.  We tried the restaurant for dinner and the shrimp in my salad were harder than the croutons.  But much to Hilton's credit, their service recovery was great.  They refunded us the points we had used for our stay and helped us look for accommodations at another Hilton.  We ended up on Marco Island, a place I never knew existed.  This is a wonderful resort area on the west coast of Florida.  Being a beach snob I have always considered anything that wasn't ocean as second rate, but I was SO wrong.  This place was great.  The water was clear, the waves were manageable and the bottom of the gulf sloped slowly so that you could swim out as far as you wanted.  It was a great place for water sports, shell collecting, birding and general beaching......but not snorkeling.  So that will have to wait for another vacation.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

My Latest Work in Progress: The Fractal Quilt

Even though I haven't posted about my sewing projects lately, I have been working pretty consistently.  My latest quilt, however, has turned out to be more time intensive than I expected.  This is an original design and I should have accounted for the "planning" time.  The actual sewing is pretty straightforward but like most of my originals, I get new ideas and change my mind as I go along. 

This quilt is for son #3.  He is in a math graduate program and understands math in a way that I never will.  I took a lot of math courses, but that was years ago and once I was in my profession the only math I used was to figure my time sheet every two weeks.

This quilt is based on a fractal called the Sierpinski carpet.  You can read about it here much better than I can describe.

First a few pictures:
As you can see, the whole thing is based on a nine patch block.  But the devil is in the details!  There are only 9 main 15 inch blocks.  From this point, I am only going to talk about the green blocks, because the brown printed ones are not patched. So the eight remaining blocks are made of 64 five inch pieced blocks.  These 64 blocks are composed of eight 2 1/8 inch blocks each for a total of 512 blocks.  And at first I was going to stop there.  But I got to thinking that I could add an appliqued block in the center of each of the 512 blocks to represent another level of the fractal.  So that meant 512 1/2 inch appliques.  This took a long time.  After that I was crazy enough to think that I could embroider another level onto each of the blocks.  But after spending many days with a variety of machine and hand embroidery techniques I wisely abandoned that idea.  Actually it is plenty busy enough without the additional embroidery.

The remainder of the quilt will have an inside border and then probably a pieced outer border of sorts.  I'm still deciding.  In the end it will be rectangular (I think).

I'm enjoying this, but it's hard to deal with the slow progress and I thought it deserved  a posting prior to completion.  Comments are more than welcomed!

Monday, March 5, 2012

The Comfort of Old Things

We just bought a "new to us" car.  It's a 2008 model with only 20,000 miles and six months of the original bumper to bumper warranty remaining.  All told it was a great buy as any good used car can be.  But beyond the economics of it, I like the comfort of driving a used car.  There is no concern about being the first to ruin the perfect condition of the paint or to be the first to spill something because chances are, someone has already done that.  Don't get me wrong.  This car is in very good condition but somehow it feels more comfortable to allow my dog to ride in the back or to park next to other cars in a busy parking lot. 

I think this feeling of comfort extends to other old things, too.  I like to dress up in nice clothes, but I also like to pull on my old jeans and tee shirt and not worry if I splatter something on me or if I get dirt on my knees when kneeling down and do some spontaneous weeding.  There are many acceptable appearances for old or used but only one for brand new.  Maybe it would be good to extend this observation to ourselves.  Perhaps instead of trying to maintain that "new" look as we age, we should just embrace the comfort of our aged looks. Other cultures do this and it seems we might be healthier to follow suit.  That being said,  I'm a LONG way from going out in public without my makeup.  Really, now, a girl needs her limits. 

Sunday, March 4, 2012

The Return of the Prodigal Pillows

My pillows have finally returned home.  I posted about some pillows I made for son #1.  I was pretty pleased with those pillows and was anxious for him to get them.  Because of where he lives, I hesitate to send anything and have it just left at his door.  So I sent the package priority and certified via the USPS.  That was at the beginning of February.  You have 15 days to pick up such a package before they are supposed to send it back.  Well, son #1 works a distance from his home post office.  And like many post offices their hours are limited.  In fact the only time he has to pick up a package is a Saturday morning.  For some reason, he missed the short window.  When he finally went to the post office they told him that they no longer had the package.  Two weeks later it still hadn't come to me so I inquired at my own post office and was told that it wasn't scanned to "return to sender" until February 29 and that it should come to me any day.  In fact, I got the package back the very day of my inquiry.

But here is the weird thing.  While the package was en route back to me, son #1 received yet another package notice and thinking it was a different package went to his post office this past Saturday only to be told that the notice was for the same box of pillows that he had been told two weeks prior was NO longer in the post office and that had been scanned to return to me three days before he went to pick it up! 

I"m glad the pillows are accounted for and I"m going to just hold on to them until we see each other face to face.  But I do wonder about the business practice of a business that is struggling but continues to have hours that are inconvenient for many of it's customers and that tells you to pick up a package that isn't even there.