Archive for February, 2009

Seriously, Follow this Link

February 27, 2009

I’m not in a particularly bloggy mood today but I thought I’d pass along this delightful other persons blog. I only discovered it recently and reading through the backlog made me snort liquids through my nose several times – it was rather painful. I’d start here for a particularly brilliant post. So … follow this link to Fuck You, Penguin and laugh your ass off.
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White Walls Begone!

February 24, 2009

I finally gave my poor neglected bedroom a little attention this weekend. Its really gotten the short end of the stick in terms of decorating, for several reasons. Primarily because I never had a bedroom before (studio apartments and dorms are all one space) so the area with the bed has never been real aethetic priority. Generally my goal was to draw attention away from that area to keep it more private. Also I’ve been ignoring it because I don’t spend a huge amount of time in there. Although that is also a self fulfulling prophesy – I don’t hang out there becuase its unattractive and so its unattractive because I don’t devote time to it because I don’t hang out there. However, on sunday after KJ left I started with another collage. I’ve been meaning to do this for a while and its always really fun but it takes a little push to get past the initial inertia. And I’ve added an element – hanging clothes. I began with some of the sweaters I’ve made in the past but don’t wear and a couple of tshirts that have been loved into rags. Actually these clothes have been hanging on the wall for more than a month now (looking not a little odd in a big white space) waiting for me to get started on this.
Now I have. I did the wall opposite the bed on Sunday and then started the closet wall on Monday morning before work and finished it last night. I have all the pieces laid out for the window wall and am, for the moment ignoring the fact that the wall over my bed looks even more bleak by comparison. I’ll get to it soon.

Oh Frabjous Weekend!

February 23, 2009

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KJ was up from Madison this weekend and we indulged in a little regressive behavior. We hit the library for its most ridiculously high school dance movies and then watched them all. It was sort of akin to eating all your Halloween candy in one night. Some of it was good, some of it was really poor quality, all of it was fun and gave a major sugar rush and in the end we ruefully shook our heads and resolved not to watch so many movies in one weekend again for a while.
Which is not to say that all we did was sit around in front of the TV. We had a cooking marathon too producing matar paneer with chapati, from scratch blueberry pancakes, green onion green olive green pepper pizza, scones and pita bread sandwiches. It was quite the gourmand occasion. Also we hit the fabric store and got cloth and a pattern for a rough draft of the dress she wants me to make for her birthday. Here are the pattern pieces strewn all over the floor.
We actually made up the first dress nearly all the way (sans lining) before KJ got out the pictures which had initially inspired her wish for it again and we saw that it was not, as I had remembered, a princess seamed dress but a simple bias cut. Totally different pattern. Although one that I may be more easily able to freehand. So it was all for naught, except that I had fun doing it. And also, its a really cute dress pattern and the cloth isn’t bad so I might make it up for myself later. For the moment its all folded together and tucked away on my fabric shelf. (Which is threatening to overflow).
We also went for a really picture-skew walk in the woods after Friday nights snow storm which left us about 3 inches of new powder. I took the opportunity to go over all the ski trails because the hated skiers hadn’t gotten out in force yet and put tracks all over them so I didn’t have to feel bad about stepping on them. The woods were stunning – every branch outlined against the white hills in snow. Thus:


February 20, 2009

Who would be a turtle who could help it?
A barely mobile hard roll, a four-oared helmet,
She can ill afford the chances she must take
In rowing toward the grasses that she eats.
Her track is graceless, like dragging
A packing-case places, and almost any slope
Defeats her modest hopes. Even being practical,
She’s often stuck up to the axle on her way
To something edible. With everything optimal,
She skirts the ditch which would convert
Her shell into a serving dish. She lives
Below luck-level, never imagining some lottery
Will change her load of pottery to wings.
Her only levity is patience,
The sport of truly chastened things.
Kay Ryan
I think I’ve posted this before but its feeling particularly appropriate right now and I felt that a dose of Kay was what I needed at the moment.

Favorite New Toy

February 19, 2009

This is my newest toy. For a person as irrationally pleased by accumulating data as I am, my nike+ is a fabulous boon. I am, naturally, too stubborn to get myself nike shoes (do I really want shoes with the teeth marks of little blind chinese children on them) so I’ll be making myself some sort of sewn apparatus for connecting the sensor to my shoe. In the mean time I’ve been having remarkable success with the plastic bag I used to tie it to my shoelaces the first time I tried it out. Since it worked the first time and I’ve been busy I haven’t bothered to replace it yet.
Its a bit of a ridiculous tech toy but on the other hand is pretty reasonably priced. They get you with the requirement of an ipod nano (I’m using my sister’s cast off) and the nike shoes (see above shortcut). And I get so much enjoyment out of it. I’m honestly not sure which is more satisfying, checking my mileage and speed at any given moment during a run or coming home and plugging in the data and then seeing it all laid out on the nike plus website with all the other runs.
Incidentally, the run I’ve hilighted here shows my 5K race time from last saturday. I’m pretty pleased with myself for having run the whole thing. I only decided to start running 10 weeks ago so this is a huge accomplishment for me. Be impressed, be very impressed.

Old News

February 18, 2009

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Here are snaps of the weekend Chris and Malea came down to see me from the twin cities … um … three weekends ago, I think. We had a delightful time, and I dragged them out and all around hixon forest on two separate days. Fortunately for all involved it was fabulously warm and warm for the first time in months, which two facts conspired to keep Malea happy about all that outdoor time in Wisconsin. It was in fact the first day in January that it went above freezing and it was also the last day in Jaunary.
They were here over the 31st and 1st which meant that I misled them about the proper side of the street to alternate side park on and we both had cheerful little green parking tickets in the morning. Why can’t it just actually “alternate” rather than match the date? So much more confusing for me this way. Oh well. Ten dollars in parking fines and a little good natured ribbing from friends was a very small price to pay for having them finally visit me. I’m in hopes of getting them to come at least once more before Malea goes into ultimate craziness of finishing her second thesis. The odds are in my favor since I introduced her to my quilting store and she went just about as nuts for it as I have. We had to stop by there on the sunday because they (the store) were having their Super Bowl sale and had that amazing deal of 20 fat quarters for 30 dollars. Impossible to pass up.
Anyway, these pics are shamelessly cribbed from Malea’s blog. She was the camera woman for the weekend and has yet to send me the copies she promised (hint hint). As if she’s got so many other things to do right now! so I’m copying these off of her post about the weekend.
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Yes. Hixon is beautiful and my favorite place … period.
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Myself, Chris, Malea. I’m the tall one. Malea is squinting because she should have on sunglasses. And Chris is the one who looks like she’s about to make the jump to light speed. I love those sunglasses on her!

Idle Hands

February 16, 2009

This has been my project for the last few weeks. I’ve been working on some curtains for a coworker at the sewing machine which has NOT been fun. The color is ugly and the design is un-interesting. So that hasn’t been very inspiring. And most of my non-sewing machine time has been occupied with trying to get my new computer up to speed – also not an easy or delightful process. So when I really want to chill out, this is what I turn to. Unfortunately I don’t have strong enough light at the sofa to do it productively except in daylight … and I’m at work for most of daylight. Nevertheless it gets a little morning time every day and the weekends are especially satisfying. This is the most quilting I’ve done in years. Normally I either make baby quilts and dont’ quilt them or I set up full size quilts for myself and end up dropping them on the bed with the basting stitches still in. Its the case at this very moment. In fact, with quilts like that I usually don’t bother to finish quilting them until I have a replacement pieced and layerd and partially quilted itself. Ah well. Maybe this is a sign of improvement. Its certainly been relaxing. And it looks so ladylike doesn’t it?

Is it really about anything else?

February 14, 2009

Storefront Window

February 13, 2009

This is the window display I’ve been working on for the last couple of weeks off and on. Whole Trees decided that we needed a presence in the downtown area to remind people of who we are and catch some interest. We rented this window from a local building owner and then I designed a little whole tree installation to go into it. On the whole I’m pretty satisfied. The whole tree element didn’t come out exactly as I had imagined – but I think that’s mostly my fault. I just didn’t take an active enough hand in giving the guys in the shop super picky instructions. So that’s a lesson for the future. Also the pictures hanging in the window are temporary. The plan is to have a few larger and more dramatic prints put up there semi permanently. For the moment though I think its pretty nice. And certainly we’ve already gotten a few phone calls.

Happy Birthday Darwin

February 12, 2009

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Having read Origin of Species and the Voyage of the beagle, I can attest that they are much less exciting than all the subsequent controversy would suggest. Nevertheless, I think evolution is a really fun idea. Lets all get on board. In honor of Darwin’s 200th year, I think we should all follow the advice of James McCarthy, president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and push Obama to make the environment and climate change a top priority during his first (I sure hope) term in office, despite all the other complications.

Mind Officially Blown

February 10, 2009

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So … I’ve been seeing all the hype for Coraline and I noticed that it got excellent reviews from some good people but … I wasn’t all that much in the mood for TimBurtonesque dark drama. It might have something to do with being very tired of that guy who does the voice for half of all previews these days (unofficial survey). I wasn’t that excited, that is, until I saw this! I was aware the film was entirely analogue (as in no convenient computer blurring from one pose to another and no digital backgrounds etc) and thought this was impressive but … Aside from building every set and a cast of thousands by hand and then manipulating them into every individual shot, they also have this citation in the end credits: Althea Crome – Knitter. The tiny sweaters worn by Coraline aren’t molded out of clay, or whatever substance the rest of it is, they are knitted. Check out the knitters site where she showcases many of her designs.
Go there and marvel over them!
For those interested in getting as obsessive as I am about the idea of claymation – here’s an article about how they constructed Coraline.

Maybe the world isn’t coming to an end

February 10, 2009

Even though its 50 degrees in February and friday the thirteenth is staring us in the face I think that the world may, in fact, not be coming to an end. At least not right away.
Although our new secretary of agriculture isn’t the most green or organic friendly guy in the world I was incredibly heartened by the Obama’s decision to promote local foods dining by example. Their personal chef is going to be a local foods enthusiast. And I think that the idea being floated on the web of a first farmer is a terrific idea. The idea is to plow up the White House front lawn and replace it with a kitchen garden. Brilliant. Lets have a little more leadership by example. Check out this website for more information about it. Claire Strader, the woman who’s been selected for the job by popular opinion, is a Madisonian and the director of a really great CSA farm on the edge of town.
But, most of all, this article in todays New York Times editorial section which says that the 2007 Census of Agriculture found that the number of farmers in the state of Iowa has actually had an increase in the number of small farms since 2002. That is fantastic and surprising news. The numbers of farmers in this country have been in decline since the dawn of the green revolution and before – basically since we got big tractors to plow up the great plains. And now an increase. It seems most improbable but the numbers are telling. As the article says “These are very small farms, 9 acres or less, and they are producing a much wider array of crops than the rest of Iowa, which specializes in corn and soybeans.” My response is: Hooray! Now Iowa and I have our issues – like the fact that I’ve never driven through it without getting lost in a hail storm – but I am very happy about this news. Go, Iowa, go! Keep regaining your farm families and lets get the rest of the midwest on a roll too.
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[This photo isn’t current (if I had this much beautiful produce on my counter in february I’d be guilty of some serious food mileage accumulation. But it makes me happy to remember the bounty of the summer when my membership in a local CSA led me into crazy exploits like chlorophyll soup made from all those beet and turnip greens. Happy days will be here again soon.]

Something new every day

February 9, 2009

So on Saturday I initiated a study of trees. I just don’t have enough in my life right now. But seriously, I want to know a little more of what I’m talking about when people ask me about the trees we use in our buildings. And for all the time I spend wandering around Hixon forest … I’m not seeing the trees for the forest right now. So I signed up for a class on Winter Tree Identification at the local tech college. It was undeniably fun to be in a class again and made me realize how long its been since I took notes on anything. I tried to augment my text with as many sketches as possible. Then that night I amused myself by filling them out in watercolor. The colors aren’t all that accurate – I had made notes of them from the photos and samples in the class but the words “orangey red brown” aren’t capable of making an accurate translation from a real object to a painting without a better memory than mine powering them. I think it may prove an incentive to take my watercolors out to the woods this spring though – as soon as there’s some dry ground to sit on. Today is obviously not that day as it is both snowy and RAINING. Disgusting behavior for February but … there’s nothing to be done about it. Except bury myself in the library and look at nature in books instead of in real life for another few months. Until it warms up a bit more than this I’m going to be viewing the woods from a brisk metabolizing stride.
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Projects I haven’t been recording

February 5, 2009

I realized when I uploaded my camera pics that I don’t have any pictures of this since before it was pieced. This one was taken a week ago in the morning before work. However, I’ll add them when I’m further along in the quilting process I suppose and for the moment this gives an idea of what’s going on. Also of my living room’s level of tidiness. The TV is showing a still from Sports Night which I watched in serial while machine piecing this quilt. I should really have put it off until a more leisurely time but I had a brain wave and decided to start cutting it on a Wednesday night when I had company coming Saturday morning. Since I suffer from ocd, I had to lay out the fabric on the floor exactly as it had been cut – it couldn’t be stacked up and tidied away. So I then had a marathon session with my sewing machine and got *almost* all the way done with the top before Chris and Malea arrived. The remaining section was small enough (just five rows) that it could be tucked out of the way and the furniture replaced with a minimum of fuss. Although it did get kicked out of place several times during the weekend. I just don’t have that much floor space.
This pattern is a slightly modified version of what I came up with for little (insert unnamed baby Gundersen’s future name here). The first one was done in mostly yellows with a bit of green and pink thrown in to hedge my bets. Its a boy, in fact, but I’m sure Roald and Amelia aren’t the sort of parents to freak out if their son has a baby quilt with a few pink flowers thrown into the mix. Unfortunately I couldn’t photograph it because I had lent my camera to them to document the first few days with the baby. I’ll have to borrow the quilt back and document it. If not, I’ll have a record of the pattern in this one which is destined to stay mine and be displayed prominently on my sofa at all times. They are the same outside dimensions but that one was done in 3 inch squares and this one is in 2 inch squares (arranged in 5 by 5 blocks). I’d actually like it to be bigger – more like size it appears to be before its pieced – but this is the number of fat quarters in the right colors that I had at the time … and I was too impatient to wait for a chance to get back to the fabric store.

Visual dictionary

February 4, 2009

I have been accused (rightly) of having a blog that never changes. So here’s a new theory of blogging – little entries that happen on the spur of the moment rather than being planned in advance or polished in any way. If it only takes me ten minutes then I hardly need to feel guilty for borrowing back a little of my work day from my place of business. On my lunch I was perusing some of my favorite design blogs and came across this website referenced at design lovely. This blog isn’t my favorite of the new passel but I’ll have to cover them in a subsequent entry (ten minute rule). Meanwhile, I blew a happy fifteen minutes eating woodstove-heated quiche and clicking around at this visual dictionary website. Enjoy it.
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February 2, 2009

How can you tell if I’m going to like a book without even cracking it open. Well, to be honest, most of the books published in that new paperback cover that’s sort of matte/lustre always have a good shot. But another warning sign is if the premise of the book requires all the main characters to keep coming up with and using thirteen letter words. Malea came to visit this weekend and left with me with the first two* of the Midnighters books by Scott Westerfeld. Its a very engaging ya sci fi series set in Oklahoma, of all places. I haven’t run across too many books of any genre set in Oklahoma, let alone YA science fiction. In any case the premise involves a town where people born at the exact moment of midnight are able to experience an extra hour (held at midnight) where they interact with ‘darklings’, ancient predators that hate and try to kill them. The darklings are averse to anything modern (metal alloys, technology, the english language, etc) and the number 13. So the Midnighters fight them off with found objects like aluminized trash can lids that they give names like “purposelessly hyperinflated individuality” which is a triple tridacalogism yielding extra power. I laughed out loud a lot while reading it.
*not very nice to give them to me before I could have ALL THREE!. The library’s copy is checked out right now.