Found some possibilities, then found a cool but incomplete option (a collection of historic buildings that would have been a great museum if we could find a house anywhere in the area, even though it requires a massive amount of work to repair the neglect and bad decision-making that has preceded out interest) but couldn't find a tolerable house/land package anywhere near. Everyone seems to insist that to get what we want in any tolerable combination (and we are trying to be very flexible, knowing that there are plenty of changes that can be made over time if there is any viable core to work with) will cost more than its worth as well as more than we have available to spend. If there's no land worth the notice, they think taking out some walls and spiffing up the kitchen magically doubles the value. If there is decent land, then they think the land and location make up for the dumpy little house, even though land in the area just isn't going for that much and it isn't even good land. And sometimes the price is lower, but never enough lower for the pitiful little unimproved house that isn't of a deign easily expanded and small property at the same time. Really, they think they should magically get a huge profit just for owning the place a little while? The cool package options gave us time to eliminate all of the first possibilities from consideration for their faults and not living up to the cool half package.

So we've reconsidered what we are looking for, again (you can't query for multi-variable relationships in a house search, you have to define one sort of combination of land and house sizes and price ranges unless you want to go through hundreds of totally unacceptible combinations. So, instead of a larger property and midsize house, we're looking for a smaller property with a big house, so that we can take out walls to get bedrooms, library etc that are a decent size, and will deal with the reduced acreage with trees and other means.
Yesterday I made a quilt top, from design to finished. Just a baby quilt, but still, i was impressed. I called it Scrapple - Scrappy appliqued Rag quilt. Not a lot of "rag" but I took squares, zig-zagged the edges mostly because it is a baby quilt. Otherwise I would have left them unfinished, and appliqued them down onto the background by sewing large circles. That leaves the corners a little floppy. I cut out the circles behind the appliqued pieces and though I might applique them on the alternate squares, but mostly the alternate squares have cute pictures of ducks and bunnies and cows and Betty Boop in a pink cowgirl outfit and such so I left them like that and will use the circles elsewhere. Also, some of the fabrics are older and thinner and I left the background fabric in place for strength as this is definitely more play blanket than pretty for special occasions. I don't much like the colors. I aimed for pink with a kind of aqua-green but our baby fabric selection is more to the rainbow pastels, so it has aqua-green of a few shades (the darkest was the Betty Boop), and all the baby fabric whose blues leaned in that direction, and not much pink. A few reds, lots of white with pastels. It will get a pink flannel packing and maybe a darker pink silky edge if it still matches or if I have enough blanket binding left. Maybe tomorrow, maybe next weekend, probably not today as I have many other things I need to do, including on the time-stealing computer.

We survived the storm. Noisy until 1 in the morning, and more rain than we needed but the winds were most outside the city in either direction. Still overcast and storms expected again this evening.

The roof top garden is doing well. Only a few rather fibrous radishes but a good flavor. Some of the peas didn't make it (I think the package directions were wrong and they should have been planted earlier. They didn't appreciate the 90's we had a couple of weeks back.) The sunflower seeds drowned or the squirrels ate them, but I think it is early enough to plant some more. Maybe after the current storm series is done. Squashes, beans, cantaloupe, basil, I forget what all else and we lost the labels in the rain storms so maybe we'll see, are all holding on nicely for now. The pails and waste cans we use for larger pots have holes in them, and sometimes a second set if they didn't drain fast enough the first few rain storms.

The irises are done and the day lilies are only in bud but the spiderwort and one of the climatis and several heliobores are all blooming so we have a little of purple and white front and back. The lilac still hasn't bloomed. Not sure what we are doing wrong, but the tiny struggling rhododendrun (it gets too hot here for it to be happy) finally has a full flower and it is lasting quite a while though it is mostly hidden by other plants, it has grown so little.

We are looking at houses west of Madison.
Researching paper work besides trying to put away old stuff. Yes, researching paperwork, specifically for what might be needed to set up a small business or not-for-profit. Messy regardless and I think not something to actually do before we are ready to start or heading in that direction, but good to know what is expected, what is required, and how to speak the speak so that we don't accidentally confuse roles and upset tax people and supporters (Lesson of the week: Boards of Directors for not-for-profits don't normally get paid so you can only ask s much of them: managers of various sorts might if it isn't a volunteer-only role...).

Researching future cruises - they don't schedule them as far in advance as they used to, possibly due to the need to make changes more than usual in recent years, or the need to adjust prices... We aren't planning on one soon, just looking where we might want to go yet besides a general world cruise when we retire and relocate.

A little bit of fabric shopping but more thrift store shopping looking for an old comforter or two in light cottons to which other stuff can be appliqued, the best way to use up the stash of non-cottons in our "closet", I expect I'll make several in the next year or two, as well as several planned quilts this summer, including multiple "fall" quilts for self, charities, and maybe to try selling on Etsy to test the market's view of my idea of a good crazy quilt. (A lot of people confuse scrappy--meaning mixed fabrics on a repeating pattern--with crazy--meaning not much pattern, either, and ideally no pattern, so unique. But scrappy is more widely acceptable in my local observation, unless it looks specifically like a Victorian crazy quilt. I don't mind the latter, but since I hand quilt and embroider, it's not something I would ever expect to get paid a "reasonable" amount for. A dollar an hour for labor is more likely, so I'd keep, gift, or donate those for charity auctions, not try to sell as a means of earning money. Still, there are things that are not Victorian that are nice crazy quilts, with their own artistic value as well as comfortable for a bed, and some of them can be done with a reasonable time investment, if the style is something other people can appreciate.
House Hunting went a bit better this time with some candidates in reasonable price ranges, that is, the price was sometimes lower if it needed lots of work. Nothing we totally fell in love with but a lot better than we had found elsewhere.

Made me aware how close we are coming to considering actually moving. Relative terms, but given how much time everything seems to take these days, close enough to be a prod to get some things done with the chaos here.

Got a story done and realized that one of the reasons that it seemed more let down than achievement (it isn't, after all, instantly published) is that I don't celebrate the fairly big step of just finishing. I haven't figured out what is a good way to celebrate, but I have to come up with something that I can do, and something that I can do each time I finish, (or publish or other major step) as an incentive and self encouragement. I need to do the same thing with my quilts, too. I sometimes let them sit unattended when i near completion, as if finishing were a bad thing, and I'm sure it is because I never tell myself finishing is a good thing. It's just a thing followed by figuring out what to work on next.

When I was working on my history studies, I celebrated the completion of papers by watching Harry Potter (the third one, I think, which had come out in video just before). Always the same one, but it was a celebration and a watchable movie every time, so it was a good incentive when I got really tired of the research. I never get tired of writing, but that's almost a disincentive to "finish", so maybe the reward serves a different purpose, but no less needed. maybe a reward of reading, instead? What indulgence would cheer me that I usually don't take?

Plans

8 Apr 2013 09:13 pm
Chaos rains at work and home and everything is due at once, not their there are concrete deadlines, just "yesterday" or "before I go" for conference, family visits, and a little vacation, all in April and mostly in Tennessee. You can't get there from here by train without like two or three connections so we're driving. It turns out not to be that long of a drive, at least not as much as we expected, though I'm glad there will be two of us driving.

I was wearing my northern winter coat at the end of last week. Today my suit coat was too warm. Hate these fifty degree jumps, wouldn't mind something just a little cooler for a lot longer, but there are 30s again in the forecast. As long as it says above freezing. We just got our garden planted.
This one is a modification of a recipe i had for King Cake, and is easily varied. All amounts are approximate.

Your favorite bread dough recipe, one loaf worth, uncooked
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup chopped dates
1 T cinnamon
1/2 t. nutmeg
1/4 c butter
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. ground almonds or almond paste or ready-to-make marzipan (dice finely if stiff)

Glaze:
2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 c. softened butter
3 T milk
Mix butter and sugar.  Add milk to form a very thick liquid.

Let bread dough rise in a bowl, per usual instructions.
Mix butter, brown sugar, and spices
Add almond paste
Spray a jelly-roll pan or large baking dish with oil.
Spread bread dough on flowered board to form a rectangle about 12 x 18.  The edges can be a little thick.
Spread butter-sugar mix across bread dough.
Sprinkle nuts and dates over the dough.

From one of the short ends to the other--use a butter knife to loosen if it sticks to the board--roll the dough and filler up, stretch the thick end a little and press to seal the roll.  Tuck the ends under a little and roll loaf onto the seam as you place it on the greased pan.  Spread top with a little oil.  Allow to rise.  It may not rise to full double and will probably take longer than usual to rise due to the weight of the filling.  To hurry it, heat oven to 250, turn oven off, place loaf inside, and allow to rise 1/2 hour.  Repeat if needed.  Bake at 350 for 25-35 minutes until lightly browned.  Brush with water.  Allow to cool a few minutes, then pour glaze over the top.

UFOs

18 Feb 2013 08:46 pm
Urgh.  Have to write this post again because I clicked some button or another I shouldn't have!

In my quilt group, UFOS are Un-Finished Objects that have been stared (past the design phase into material gathering, at least) and every year we do a UFO challenge to get a neglected project out of the closet instead of just charging ahead with new ones.  So today I was scrounging in the attic and bins and found a "Window Pane" style quilt top that needs to be reworked (I made it at least fifteen years ago and moved since so some of the pieces have to be replaced and some of it needs to be remade as I didn't know what I was doing back then), finished, and quilted.  The other one is fabric that I've been collecting for a design I don't know the name of but entails putting together several sizes of rectangles in a not quite aligned pattern.  I started the idea based on a peace sign fabric and some garish flowers for an obvious "Flower Power" theme, and the last couple of years forgot so far as to start thinking of it as a sunflower theme, to the point that the recent sunflowers I picked up are in country colors that don't go at all.  Definitely time to make the original quilt and maybe more than one with the pile of fabric thus gathered.
We turned the tv off as soon as the state of the union address intros started.  The newsy pre-brief summary of both the president's speech and the opposing response set my teeth on edge.  We had just been discussing that the Democrats had been promising to get rid of the disaster they call "No Child Left Behind" which seems intent on putting all students behind where they could and should be, but all that the summary said was to push for preschool for all Americans, as if it matters what we teach tots when their later education is going to be a disaster. 

I got a chance to review some high school history texts when I was in grad school, with high school teachers among my fellow students.  Writing appropriate to he reading skills of upper elementary school at best and about as skillfully written as if by a high-schooler, with such a distorted focus on tiny pieces of history that a student reading it would know nothing of historical events or their cause and effect by the time they were done with the course, but they would have huge illusions about what could have been if the world were sweet and rosy and everyone had had equal opportunities for all of time.  The wrong lesson no matter how I look at it.

Anyway, I wasn't going to be happy with anything either speaker said and even the topics were pushing up my blood pressure so I have a movie and my computer for the evening.
With so many social software sites, it's always fascinating to see who's on it and who's not, what's happening, and what's not.  I was surprised to find so many fanfic groups here on Dreamwidth, and so little other writing, when I expected to have found them on FB and failed to do so.  Fanfic seems to encourage pseudonyms both by its nature and because its a fun thing that people do as part of the community/convention atmosphere while FB asks users to use their real name, so that might be part of it.(I'm not a regular fanfic person, BTW, preferring to create my own fantasy and science fiction universes and characters, but I discovered them when a convention I expected to be a writer-focused SF con turned out to be a fanfic con, instead.  A fun and impressively diverse group with some good writing classes, though mostly not my thing.

I've also found a YA group, very new, that I am hopeful will be a useful and interesting chat group.  I had hopes for the writing groups on FB but they have had a tendency to become places for authors to tout their new books:  e-books, self-published, a few small presses, some of questionable legitimacy (which is to say, I have the impression that the publishers didn't have an editor or other source of quality control to filter out even the beginner first drafts of enthusiastic but untrained high-schoolers from being turned into e-books) with little effort to offer suggestions or advice to those of us still hoping to find real publishers, discuss the writing and creative process, or otherwise discuss any aspect of the writing and publishing processes in general or specific to the genre's specified in the group titles (like fantasy and science fiction writers: how can a group professing to be SFF writers discussing their craft not get more than two comments on a discussion of world building?  Where are the discussions about finding SFF readers as well as publishers (most of whom seem to have lost any concept of what fantasy and science fiction is supposed to be!  They don't seem to know that horror, speculative fiction, and popfic contemporary adventure are not synonymous, and of course do't care if they think it will sell, alas.)

Don't have a plan for a regular schedule of posts, yet.  We'll see how it goes.

Greetings

10 Feb 2013 03:11 pm
In the past (and sometimes still) I post to http://enexplorations.blogspot.com/ and more often http://home.earthlink.net/~wyverns on writing efforts, quilting, the creative process, cooking, and other topics. I've tried a few other blog web sites, but so far most of them have proven impossibly slow or otherwise incompatible with my software, computer, internet access and especially the combination. So far this one has gone smoothly without excessive delay, so if I can find a way to sort my posts, this may become a new favorite. Also depends on what it does to formatted text, like recipes, and to what degree visitors can comment, since I like a dialog better than a monolog.

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