Q is for Quilt and Queen and Quit

My house looks like a large quilt exploded all over it.

A large quilt that was unpicked several times first.  Quilt warfare.

My mother said, "Don't worry about it."

But that is because (ha!) her house has never looked like that.  It's like a law or something. 

Yesterday I ventured out of my sewing room for an hour or so (had to get more fabric), and happened to look down and noticed bits of thread all over my breasts, which is only a turn-on to a very select group of people.  Unfortunately, my husband isn't one of them.  I asked.

So instead of ravishing me, David played secretary to me last night, sending out emails and editing the hospital benefit program.  Whenever I would say, "Could you send an email to this really important person and make it sound like I am serious and need action right away?"  he would do it, just like that.  Or if I said, "Reply to that lovely person and make it sound like I am totally excited and super grateful" he would do that too.  Let me tell you how powerful I felt.

Meanwhile, I was working on my quilt.  Adding more borders for good measure.  Because, good heavens, that is all I do, and that is all you have to do if you keep unpicking.  Which I am going to stop doing.  Soon. 

Occasionally, when I'm quilting, I stop and look at what I am doing and if you happen to walk by at one of these moments you really should say how marvelous you think it looks and how hot I look with thread all over my chest, because I really need the praise and I'm seriously this close to cracking.

David looked up from his secretarial duties and said, "Don't you think you could have stopped at that brown part.  It's getting really big."  And for the record, his eyebrows said that "really big" was actually a bad thing.

Which might have been okay if he was married to a sane, well-rested woman with no time or effort invested in said quilt. 

But he is not.

He is happily married (thank you very much) to a woman who has a nearly intimate relationship with her seam ripper these days.

Doubt reared his ugly head.  And was quickly followed by despair, angst, and freaking out.

I looked around briefly for my towel and my white flag, but they were both buried under discarded and unpicked remnants of other versions of this quilt. 

So I headed for bed.

I know when I'm beat.

This quilt has finally gotten the best of me.

The Problem with Sexual Reproduction

Our orange trees are having a veritable orgy right now.

And it's a mess.

These blossoms, the leftover advertisements for bees all over the city (the little tramps), are falling everywhere.  I told Caleb after school he needs to shovel the walks. 

Not to mention the overpowering fragrance they give off night and day, shamelessly bragging about how they're getting some and you're not.

David thinks this post is inappropriate.

I told him it was just biology and reminded him about the parts of a flower, which he vaguely remembered from 9th grade biology.  I laughed my head off when he called the "stamens" the "staminas."  (Hysterical.)  He said, "I think you're trying to be funny but I don't get it."

I said, "Isn't it enough just to know I'm hilarious?"

He said no.

It is very difficult to be a biologist with a quick wit.  No one gets the jokes.

(And p.s. David would like me to point out that I am getting some.  And it is good.  How's that for inappropriate?)

The New Economy

(I'm supposed to be decorating wedding cake.  But my buttercream is doubling in size under the ministrations of my Kitchen-Aid.  Just time for a short post.)

I've never been a great shopper.  An inherited trait, I think.  Or nurture over nature.

Regardless, whenever someone compliments my dress, I have to say, "David bought it."

Over the years this has resulted in a complete lack of shopping confidence.

And the new economy isn't helping.  Because now instead of just asking myself, "Is this cute?"  I have to also ask myself, "Is this a need or a want?"  And the conundrum of discovering if something is both cute and needed is enough to make my hands itch and my pulse race.

So the other day, (after an in-the-shower flash of genius) I was at an antique store looking for doorknobs, when I saw this apron.


Side Pockets.


Old, well-washed cotton.


Back panels that wrap all the way around.

Darling tie in the back.

Right away I knew it was cute.  I was drooling, which is always a give-away.

And then I thought, "Is it a need or a want?"

I wanted it. 

Oh, baby, I wanted it.

But that didn't necessarily mean that I didn't need it too.

I tallied my aprons in my head.  And remembered the last time David opened the apron drawer looking for hotpads and asked, "Do you really need all of these?"

I slowly put the apron back on the rack.  And just in time CIM pointed out all the things I could do in it.

"Think how cute you'll look making the beds and sorting laundry and starting dinner.  And don't get me started on how charming it will look when you fill the bottom with oranges and carry them inside for brunch.  In fact, I think it's quite possible, that you could actually look forward to Monday mornings (my cleaning day) just so you can put on your lovely new apron."

That's true, I thought.

RIM cleared her throat and said with emphasis, "Is it a need or a want?"  (With extra heavy emphasis on "a want."  Which I ignored.

I took it to the front to pay.

The man there said, "I thought you were looking for doorknobs."

I said, "This is even better."

I paid my nine dollars and grinned all the way home.

And just so all you skeptics know, it was the best nine dollars I spent all week.  My gross domestic product has gone up tremendously since then.  Even David commented on my productivity, which is really saying something.  (Usually my "amazingness" goes without saying around here.) 

Now that's my idea of a stimulus package.  Buy everyone a drooly, full-front apron with pockets.  I think it could work.

At the very least, we'll all look cuter sorting the laundry.  I certainly do.

Regretfully Yours


I put a ribbon in my hair this morning "for extra beauty," as Olivia says, and to lift my spirits.

This morning I asked Olivia how our mutual friend, Anne, was doing.  (I get an update most days while I'm doing her hair.)

She said ruefully, "She got her temper up.  And now she's got to apologize."

Poor Anne.

I know just how she feels.  We had similar nights apparently.

For a person who hates having a hard heart, I sure seem to hang on to mine tenaciously.


My laptop keyboard is covered in fabric lint, as it has been stationed right next to my sewing machine for the last couple of days, with me intermittently sewing between blogging and working on my hospital benefit project.  (Will I finally get something to the printer today?  Let's hope so.  I've got my fingers crossed.)  It's kind of a nice image...my tools of creation sharing a table.  Imagine the conversations they could have over lunch.  The one shaking her head (the laptop is new here) and the other shrugging her shoulders (the bernina has been here a while and knows the drill), but both of them with worried frowns creasing their foreheads.

O'Dell: Is she always like this?

Berni: What this?  This is nothing.  You should have seen her in May of 2007.  Now that was crazy.

O'Dell:  Really? 

And then Bernina would tell O'Dell about every meltdown and maelstrom and molehill-turned-mountain she ever had the horror of witnessing.

And that would be a very long lunch.

And after that, every time I got on my laptop I would hear O'Dell tutting her tongue and mumbling things like, "Some people just don't want to be happy," and "Girl, don't get me started," under her breath.

Do you want to know the worst part?

I can't even remember why I was mad in the first place.

But don't tell David.  This morning I was still pretending to be right.

The Cruel Hand of Entropy

My old enemy, entropy, reared its ugly head last Thursday night and took out the keyboard on my new laptop.

I know.  David was as aghast as you are.

I talked to the Dell guy in India for a couple of hours on Friday morning.  (The weather in Mohali was lovely and he had no plans for the weekend, by the way.)  And after having me investigate the problem with a screwdriver (!) and carefully talking me through taking my new computer apart...

Me:  I'm a little freaked out.

Dell:  It's okay, ma'am.  Take your time ma'am.

Me:  My husband would die if he could see me now.

Dell:  You're doing fine ma'am.

Me:  There are just certain things that I think should remain a mystery, you know.  Seeing the inside of this just kind of takes some of the magic out of it.

Dell:  Um, yes ma'am.  We do this all the time ma'am. 

...he told me I needed a new keyboard and he would send one right out.  He told me to just put it in exactly like I had just taken the old one out.  I confided that I was a little freaked out.  He said that I would do just fine ma'am. 

David was less sure.  And twice as aghast than he was at the beginning of this post that I was going to be replacing my own keyboard on my own laptop.

I said to have a little faith in me.  At which point he made a little speech out of his eyebrows, but didn't say anything out loud.

My new keyboard arrived early this afternoon.

Ta. da.

Sometimes I even amaze myself.  

And now, speaking of lovely weather and weekend plans and general amazingness, I thought you might want to know that we had a near perfect afternoon on Saturday.  We filled the burley cart with softball equipment, the croquet set, blankets and books and Bohnanza, and a lunch, and rode our bikes over to a nearby park.  The weather was as fine as it gets.  David commented later that the only thing that would have made it more perfect was a pillow.  When we shared our "highs and lows" for the week over Sunday brunch, this lovely afternoon made it onto every one's list.

[When Olivia was asked about her "low" for the week, she said, disgustedly, "Fractions."

And when David tried to probe further, she held up her hand to stop him and said, "Fractions.  Enough said."]

CIM Takes Matters Into Her Own Hands

It's time I posted.  Past time, really.

David listed my neglected and missing posts last night in bed.

Surprisingly, I wasn't feeling too amorous after that.  And I may have said something rude.  (I'm not saying one way or another.)

And then this morning RIM and CIM got into an argument about what to post and what not to post, and in what order.  Like that matters.  Obviously, CIM won because here I am telling you all this.  She always wins when I'm tired or haven't eaten recently or I've said something rude to my husband and am therefore feeling out-of-sorts.  (Let's be honest, after all that there is really very little place in my life for RIM.)

And so yes, there are other things to talk about.  Like our date to Othello with my parents (it was brilliant, by the way),

David's new car (no pictures yet),

the word-of-the-week and my SPT (in which I am teaching my kids a *new* game and *trying something new by letting the laundry and the mopping wait in favor of a couple of good games of croquet*),

not to mention the girls' Saturday sewing class with my mom,


a talk by Elder Bednar,

an inauguration, and the 100th day of school (which happened on the same day).

But instead,

here is a movie about why it is great to live in Arizona in January even if your bicycle-built-for-two gets a flat tire and it's so warm that you have to run the air conditioner for an hour before bed.

Word of the Week: Detritus

detritus  /n./  rock in small particles or other material worn or broken away from a mass, as by the action of water or glacial ice.  any disintegrated material.  debris.  fragments.  garbage or waste.  matter.  rubbish.  scree.  silt.  tuff.  rubble.  shavings.  leavings.

detritus  /n./  1.  I have always loved this word.  The letters themselves, put together in this combination, sound like the leftover sand and rocks rolling around in the bottom of a beach bag.  And in addition to that, it is my constant companion.  Detritus and entropy dog me ceaselessly.

detritus  /n./  2.  I have to admit I almost discontinued "word-of-the-week."  It felt almost like the detritus of another time, and that maybe I ought go in a different direction with my blog this year.  But then I realized I had only posted once between my last two SPT's.  Apparently, I need more reasons to post, not less.

detritus  /n./  3.  Last week was rough.  Re-entry into regular life after two weeks vacation with my darlings was harsh and shocking.  It always is.  When I commented just that, David only said resignedly, "I knew it would be."  Last Monday, when I found myself surrounded on all sides by detritus of every kind (laundry, holiday decorations, suitcases and boxes from our trip to Michigan, ashes in the fireplace, and new toys with no "home") and simultaneously deserted by everyone I live with, a small rebellion ensued.  Not to mention a hearty resentment stew boiling away in my hard heart.  There was enough there to last more than a few days.  But eventually, I cleaned up both the detritus and my heart (you can guess which one took longer), and by Saturday night, it was livable here again.

 detritus  /n./  4.  By the end of last year, working (blogging and editing pictures) on our home computer was just about impossible.  There is so much detritus on there from programs the kids have uploaded and downloaded and generally unloaded on there, that it has brought it to an almost excruciating standstill when you're trying to do anything requiring even the least bit of memory.  David, seeing my plight, bought me a brand new Dell laptop for Christmas.  And in particular, a red one.  He was very specific about that last point.  I was so shocked and confused when I opened it (I thought it was an electric skillet?) I started bawling from the surprise.  (I'm sure that will shock most of you, considering my decidedly un-lachrymose nature.  Last night I did start bawling while I was making hamburgers, but my blood sugar was low, so there.)  Anyway, I am feeling extremely blessed to be using it.  In addition to all this, David spent a good two and a half hours on the phone and on the computer getting my wireless internet hooked up on Thursday night.  I know how lucky I am.  (Especially considering everything in the paragraph above.) 

detritus  /n./  5.  It seems we barely put away the detritus of the space station project, and Caleb is already nudging me to help him start his science project.  He told me yesterday, "Mom, I really think we need to order those petri dishes today."  I really think Target should have a petri dish section.

detritus  /n./  6.  In an effort to clear up some of the detritus leftover from last year and "start fresh," we finished reading the Book of Mormon this past week.  We read the last chapter of Moroni together on Tuesday night and then ate cake.  We believe in celebration around here. 

December, Four Days In

So here's the thing.  The longer I go without blogging, the less I have to say.

It's true.

And now I just wrote a whole post, ready to publish and everything, and it disappeared into cyberspace.  Which is vexing.  Austen never had this problem.  All that cleverness gone, me the only witness.  Like I said, vexing. 

Anyway, we've had a bit of a rocky start into December, but the end of November was quite nice, so I will start there.

We had a lovely Thanksgiving, thank you very much.  I think my favorite part was the little place cards the girls created for everyone at the table.  The big dilemma was whether the person in question was more of a "pilgrim" or more of a "Native American."  My place card was a Native American, "even though I like church" (their words).


We played hours and hours of games over the holiday, much to Caleb's delight.  We even finally read the directions to "Dutch Blitz" and were soundly beaten by David.  Caleb ruefully pointed out that he got the game for his birthday (in June!) and this was the first time we had played it.  The height of tragedy.

We had a little party on Saturday night with my brothers and their families.  We had dinner and played a new game called "Say Anything" which turned out to be a lot of fun.  A couple of them even commented, with surprise in their voices, how fun it was and how we ought to do it more often.  Amen to that.

And now for a few snapshots of December, four days in:

1.  Caleb had his big aerospace challenge all day on Tuesday.  He competed against 100 teams and did not win.  Not even an honorable mention.  We were sad, and me doubly so to see his palpable disappointment.  He really did do great though.  His team was visited by 10 teams of judges, all looking at different elements of the project.  My favorite moment happened when one of the judges asked Caleb about how big the space station was.  Caleb immediately replied, "The area of the torus is 42,223 meters squared."  The judge could not help grinning and neither could I.  We had a little bit of downtime between judging groups and once one of Caleb's friends asked where he was.  I said, "Pacing," and pointed to Caleb walking the hall talking to himself, going over figures in his mind.  I spent the whole day nearly bursting, alternating between pride and anxiety to see all his earnestness.

2.  The first of our Christmas string concerts is tonight and Olivia is delirious with anticipation and giddiness at the thought of "performing on stage" (which she says with dramatic emphasis).  She asked me what I thought performing would be like.  I said seriously, "Amazing."  And she said dreamily, "I thought so."

3.  Ethan came home from school yesterday with a note from the principal that he had been fist-fighting on the playground and she wrote specifically that, "he had to be pulled off the other student."  I know.  We found out later that it was a student who was three grades above him.  Heaven help me.  I told David that we're going to have to ban "A Christmas Story" from our holiday movie library. 

4.  I cleaned out my sewing room yesterday.  Found a home for my new disco ball motor and 16 wooden dowels with various-sized holes drilled through them.  (Apparently their story will never be told.  This is probably for the best.)  David is still smarting a bit from the jamba juice incident (as I like to refer to it), and shaking his head at how stubborn a person has to be to let perfectly good jamba juice melt into mush.  And I have no good answers for that.  I can only say that for me somehow "stress" is always connected inevitably with "distress."  Which is unfortunate.   

5.  Olivia left for school today clutching Caleb's copy of Fablehaven.  When I questioned her about the book choice she told me that her friends had told her that it was good and she was "desperate" (her word).  Fablehaven is about the exact opposite of Laura Ingalls Wilder, but she has been increasingly forlorn without something to read and I'm waiting for Christmas to introduce her to Anne with an "E".  She looked down at the book skeptically and then up at me and said, "Mom, I don't think I'm going to make it to Christmas.  And I mean it."

As an aside:   The kids were playing a game in which Olivia had to pick her favorite place to go on vacation...she chose Wisconsin (Laura's childhood home) over Hawaii and Disneyland and even Michigan.  David was flabbergasted.  I, however, completely understand this romantic non-logic.   

6.  We had our first gifts of the season on Tuesday night.  (It was supposed to be Monday, but we're not going to talk about Monday night.  Ever.)  This led to a sweet, spontaneous moment around our tree, which included singing a couple of Christmas hymns, all of us off-key but Olivia.  I'll admit I shed a few tears and finally felt a bit of Christmas spirit.  I always get a late start on holiday cheer, but I make up for it in the end.


"Cross Your Fingers for Rain"

That's what Olivia hollered as she went out the door this morning.

It's cloudy this morning, which I don't think has happened since like last February or so. 

And in honor of that and in case of rain, Olivia wore an extra scarf today in addition to the one she usually wears.  You can't be too careful.

In other news, I'm still half-dressed.  (You're never fully dressed without at smile, you know.) And the word of the week has failed me, as I have not done anything sanguinely the past week or so.  (Just ask David: yesterday he brought me a jamba juice and I growled at him.  In my defense though, I asked for 2 inch 6/32" screws., and he brought jamba juice.  Jamba juice, though fruity and delicious, cannot hold a leaning space station upright.

But later, if I can get my kitchen floor mopped, and the laundry off the floor and out of the doorway and possibly even folded, and get organized for our space station work meeting this afternoon, then I will publish a sanguine post.  Even if it's only about all the darlings in my life who continue to be sanguine even in the face of my frustrated grumpiness.  Pray for peace, people everywhere.  I had big plans to be ready to do my Thanksgiving grocery run today as well, but I'm not sure I'm quite up to that, emotionally or otherwise.  Perhaps that will leave groceries and pie making all for tomorrow, an unprecedented occurrence, but that's about the state of things. 

And now for your enjoyment, a diagram of my life:


 1.  my neglected sewing machine...I see you over there and I miss you.

2.  the quilt that used to hang on that bare yellow wall...it was the victim of a sad watercolor incident and so had to be taken down for cleaning and drying.  It still has not been rehung.

3.  the leaning tower of space stations...it rotates, but it lists to the left.  I spent four hours yesterday trying to reinforce and shore it up, to no avail.  I'm just going with it now.

4.  the worst drill in the entire history of drills...what I wouldn't give for a seriously powerful drill that you could PLUG IN. 

5.  my missing drill bit...I spent a good thirty minutes looking for it yesterday.

6.  the jamba juice David bought me instead of 6/32" screws...I was so ticked off I just let it melt without drinking a bit of it.  I'm crazy like that.

7.  the dreaded floam...this stuff was supposed to be the regolith in the bottom of the space station but it was just a disaster.  Curse the makers of floam and while I'm at it, I also curse Martha's double sided tape.  Heaven help me.

8.  mod podge...can't have a project without it.  David went to the store on Saturday to procure this bottle.  He was like, "Mod Podge?  What's mod podge?"  I said, "Just ask someone."  It is a testament to his graciousness that he ran the errand at all.

9.  the detritus of the space station project...the inside of my brain looks about the same.

10.  a pile of dowels...they are the witnesses and victims of several failed attempts.  Someday perhaps they will have a chance to tell their story.


Editor's Note:  I wrote this last week (Friday morning) but never published it because I thought it was too ridiculous to share.  However, given my current state of distress and emotional instability (who me?), this post sounds downright sensible.  Now that's just plain scary.


Okay, I should just be moving on.

That's what David says.  But I'm a fusser.  And I fuss the most with myself.  And I just can't seem to let things be.

Last night went okay.  I'm sure you're all dying to know. 

I had several dreams about the talk before the actual talk and in some of them it went okay and in some of them it was not so good and in some of them I was naked.

Last night I did manage to remember my dress.

Although I did forget my slip and perhaps that was the problem right there.  It was a half-dressed talk.  It could have been worse.  Naked definitely would have been worse.  But it could have been better. 

Yesterday Caleb said, "So are you ready for your talk?"

I said, "Sort of."

He said, "So that means you're done writing it, but you don't like it?"

I looked out the car window and nodded.

He said, "I thought so."

And so I want to know how can a person like me be allowed to raise human beings.  I'm only half-dressed myself.

Last night when I came home and tearily explained how it went to David he asked me how long it had been since I had eaten.  Seriously, it must by trying to be married to a half-crazy, half-dressed girl with blood sugar issues. 

Add all that to a few half-baked ideas about humanure and space station trusses made of buckypaper, and you've really got yourself a mess.