Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Best Mom Ever!

Most of you probably think that you have the best mom, but you're just plain wrong. I have the best mom ever. She's very cool in many ways, but today she's cool in one of my favorite ways. She can sew and quilt like nobodies business and she recently finished a quilt for me and the DH.

I have some friends out there who know how hard it is to piece a quilt with curves in it. For the rest of you, it's SUPER difficult! See all those small pieces that make up the variation in the blue of the rings in the picture? Each one has to be sewn together, and then the ring gets sewn to the white piece that doesn't have any straight lines, and then it's supposed to lie flat. In my mom's world, she sews it and it lies flat. My world doesn't work quite that way, so I can appreciate the talent that it take for her to make that happen.

But beyond the fact that it's a difficult patter to piece, she also hand quilted the entire queen size quilt. And after that, she bound it by hand.

But most of all, she made it just for me with lots of love and that's just about all a daughter could wish for. She'll say that it's taken way too long and that there's some flaw in it, but that's just because it's her way. She's humble like that. It's part of her charm.

So, be jealous. Be very jealous! I have the best mom ever and the quilt to prove it.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Civic Duty

A few weeks ago, I got a summons to appear for jury duty. The date came last week and I had to be there a minimum of two days. The DH dropped me off at the King County Courthouse on Wednesday morning and I reported for duty. Most of the morning was spent sitting in the jury room with my laptop. They have free wifi and a bunch of tables and chairs, so it was pretty comfortable and I was able to get caught up on some work.

A bit before noon, they called 75 of us to be the jury pool for one trial. We had to fill out a questionnaire that asked if we had any experience with drug abuse, sexual abuse, or mental illness. It also stated that the trial would require approximately three weeks of service. It was our opportunity to write either why we couldn't serve for three weeks or if we didn't want to talk in the court room in front of everyone about any of the three topics listed.

After lunch, we were taken to the courtroom and introduced to the honorable judge Susan Craighead. (One funny thing is that the woman in the jury room who announced everything had a bit of an accent and every time she said the judges name, it sounded like crackhead instead of Craighead.) The judge explained to us how the jury selection process works and then we met the plaintiff, defendant, and attorneys. The case was brought by the county, so there was no actual plaintiff, just the attorney. The defendant was there with an attorney and paralegal. We were then told that the defendant was charged with murder in the second degree. At that, I felt horrible. No matter how much CSI I watch, I didn't want to hear details of a real murder. I'm pretty good at separating fiction from reality, but reality can be horrid and I didn't want to know any more.

After being instructed in the courtroom process, the attorneys each took 20 minutes to ask questions. Because there were so many of us, we each had numbers assigned and would simply hold up our number if our answer was "no" to any of the questions. Sometimes they would ask anyone who said no to elaborate and sometimes they just took down the numbers. I was number 67. We took an afternoon recess and then had one more round of questions. At 3:00, they let everyone go except for the people who had asked to only talk about their answers in private. I took the bus home and got caught up on work that I didn't get done in the two hours of actual court room time that day.

On Thursday, we all reported to the jury assembly room again and waited to be called to the court room. We went up around 9:30 and saw that another half dozen people had been excused from that trial after talking to the judge and attorneys. That morning, the attorneys continued asking questions, we held up our numbers if the answer was no, and some of us got to clarify our answers. We had a morning recess and lunch recess, and after each recess a couple more would be dismissed for one reason or another. The final round of questions was after lunch and then the attorneys had the time during our afternoon recess to determine who else they wanted to kick off and we went back to the court room for the final process.

During the final process, there are 14 jurors in the jury box (12 angry men and two alternates) and the rest of us were in the benches at the back of the room. Each attorney had six opportunities to dismiss another juror. They would review the answers they'd heard from the 14 in the box and then select one person to dismiss. Each attorney would dismiss one juror and then the other attorney would do the same until they had each dismissed six. Once they did that, there were still four people in front of me on the benches and three behind me, so the eight of us were dismissed because they had their group. It was all done by 3:30 that afternoon.

When I got home, I was no longer under orders to stay impartial, so I did an internet search on the defendant and got to find out what he was accused of. I found out that he had actually confessed to committing the crime, so I was left to assume that his defense had something to do with claiming that he had mental illness that impaired his ability to control his actions.

Having had this experience, I think I would really like to be selected as a juror, but on something non-violent and short. I met some really nice people while waiting around and the judge and attorneys were so nice and were genuinely grateful that we were there. I do know that I won't dread the summons if I get selected for jury duty again.

Music Monday -- Eastmountainsouth

I really enjoy acoustic music with a bit of a folk feeling and I'm very partial to great harmonies. The two artists in this vocal duo sound like their voices were made for each other. As far as I know, they only have one album titled Eastmountainsouth. My friend Sarah introduced them to me and gave me the album and I've hoped for more ever since.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Music Monday -- Peter Gabriel

Yes, I realize that it's Tuesday and that I'm a day late. It's OK though, because today I'm talking about a great classic album. Peter Gabriel has been around for a long time and produced some really good tunes, but the best is SO. Before going solo, he was part of Genesis, a great band of the 70's. I'm glad he left Genesis so I could have the album, SO. It's fantastic and one of my all-time favs. Take a listen to this great track (though any of them could fit that bill).

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Not Yo Mama's Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

The DH and I went to see Sherlock Holmes with friends on New Year's Eve. It was a great way to spend and evening and we both really liked the movie.

The movie was directed by Guy Ritchie. I haven't seen many of his movies, but he was the director of Snatch, which I thought was brilliant. Seriously, if you have not seen it, you must (but don't judge me for loving it if you hate it). Guy Richie likes the over-saturated, kinetic film style and it's a style that I like, so it works for me.

Sherlock Holmes is definitely in Guy Ritchie's style. It has the perfect look for industrial 19th-century London and the effects with slow-motion really worked for me. However, if you want to see a movie that closely resembles any of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes mystery novels, you will be disappointed. This movie is about action and style. Robert Downy, Jr. is great at both, plus he looks pretty good in the process. I also enjoyed Jude Law as the more proper Dr. Watson. The two had great chemistry and played their roles very well.

If you're interested in an action-packed version of the detective, this movie is for you.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Little Women

As a child, our family would travel the two and a half hours to Burley to visit Granny and Papa, my paternal grandparents, on a regular basis. Their place felt as much like home to me as my parents’ home in Boise. I didn’t have any cousins my age, so I spent my time just hanging out with Granny, going on Papa’s gas route with him, or spending time on my own. With time on my hands, I spent most of it doing one of my favorite things, reading. Granny had a large collection of books as reading was one of her life-long passions.

I still remember finding Little Women on the shelf at Granny’s house. I devoured it in a weekend, stopping only for meals. I fell in love with Laurie, idolized Jo, and cried for Beth. Like most of my favorite books, I hated that it had to end. Granny didn’t have any of the sequels, so it was years before I even knew they existed.

Fast forward twenty years. In my early 30’s, I had to travel quite a bit for my job. The biggest perk was that I got all the sky miles and my manager let me have Fridays off on occasion because I had to travel on most Sunday evenings. With a built in three-day weekend, I flew to places other than home on some of the weekends using my free tickets purchased only with the sky miles. I got to go see Ann while she was working in Washington DC and I got to go with my friend Camille to visit our old roommate and friend Catherine in Boston. We had a great adventure there, but my favorite part of the trip was going to Concord. We saw Walden Pond and the home of Henry David Thoreau, but the best part was going to Orchard House, the home of Louisa May Alcott when she wrote Little Women. The setting was beautiful and I felt like I knew Miss Alcott even better after that lovely visit.

Last week, I watched a PBS program on Louisa May Alcott. I was surprised to find out that she sold more books and earned much more money in her lifetime than both Henry James and Herman Melville combined. She did quite a good job of turning her talent into gold for her family, which was a good thing since her father had never done well at providing for the family. I enjoyed hearing about her clever wit and abundant personality. It made me like her even more.

Another Finished Project

Patrick's niece, Katy, and her husband Quinton had an adorably cute baby just before Christmas. When I found out she was pregnant, I want right to work thinking about the great baby blankets I could make. I bought the fabric and fell in love with what I had found.

When I went to Boise for Thanksgiving, I used my mom's big cutting table and fantastic sewing machine to do part of the work. I even got a little help from Annzy on the star blocks for the rag quilt. Then I brought everything home where it sat until after Christmas.

Once Christmas was done, I finally hunkered down and finished everything.

It took me about 2.5 hours of TV watching to crochet around the monkey receiving blanket. I watch way too much TV, so you would have thought I could have finished this by the end of November, but I procrastinated. Bad, me. I love the red and yellow together and it's double flannel, so it should be nice and warm for the winter baby in the foothills of the Sierras.

The rag quilt was fun to sew. I only had to rip out one seam along one square. For me, that's an AMAZING sewing experience. Only one seam to rip! WOOHOO! Mom, aren't you proud? The funny part is that I set all of the squares out in a way that would make it easy for me to pick the right block at the right time to keep the pattern going the way I wanted it to. For some reason, I just picked up a random square and sewed it to the row. Then I looked at it and realized it was all wrong. I'm still not sure what gap in my thought process allowed that to happen, but I got it taken care of before sewing another square to that one.

After sewing everything together, I had to snip the exposed seams at quarter-inch intervals. The seams have four layers of fabric at this point and it seems like an easy task for about the first row. Then the scissors start jabbing into your hand and by about half-way through, you think this was a really bad idea. I thought I had it beat. The DH was going to do the snipping. However, once he realized how careful you have to be, so as not to snip the actual seam, he declined. The blanket is still a small receiving size, I hunkered down with an episode of CSI and powered through the pain.

It was great to finish these two items up and the DH sent them off to the cute new baby, so they should have them this week.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

The Wall of Fame

Over the weekend, I finished my decorating project. The pictures hang on the wall of our dining area (with the light switch on the left and the thermostat on the right). The spark of an idea came with the family tree pedigree chart that I bought. I thought it needed some company, so I added a picture of the DH and me, then pictures of our parents. Aren't they so cute in their photos? We sure do have handsome parents. Then, I rounded it out with a picture of the Salt Lake temple and two more quotes. The top left has numbers and says "count your many blessings" and the one on the right is a quote by George Sand that says "There is only one true happiness in life, to love and to be loved."

I especially like how the white frames pop on the green wall. You can see it in the photo, but the trim on the doorways on either side of this wall are also trimmed in white, so it fits the room well.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Music Monday -- Paramore

I really like the style and videos from Paramore more than I like the music. That being said, if you're in the mood for some good alternative rock, this band fits the bill. Apparently, I'm a little late to the party with this band, just like Bon Iver, but I'm OK with that. The musicians are very talented and I enjoy Hayley Williams' strong vocals. She's a real rock star.


Sunday, January 03, 2010

Beethoven's 9th

When I was young, living in Boise, there was one spot in the middle of the living room floor that would have the square of sunlight on it from the front window. On a Sunday afternoon, I would lie in that square of sunshine with Blacky next to me reading the funny papers and listening to the old console stereo. I remember listening to Beethoven's 9th symphony on many a Sunday afternoon in this position on the living room floor.

Last night, the DH and I went to hear the Seattle Symphony and Chorale perform Beethoven's 9th. It brought back that memory quite vividly. What also struck me, was that I must have heard the first side of the record more often than the second side. The first and second movements were very familiar to me, but the third and forth not quite as much. I just love the way that music rises and falls with so much emotion. The quiet making you listen for more and the loud reminding you that you're alive.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

What to Do With Leftover Turkey

The DH got a huge turkey for Christmas, so we had to do more than just make turkey sandwiches. I had made rolls for the sandwiches, but we needed to make other yummy things. One thing we did with the turkey is make delicious turkey and wild rice soup. It was much more improvised than made with a recipe, but this is the general recipe and it never disappoints.

Turkey Wild Rice Soup
1 medium onion, chopped
2 celery ribs, thinly sliced
2 carrots, diced
½ cup butter
½ cup flour
4 cups chicken broth
2 cups wild rice, cooked
2 cups milk (1/2 &1/2 if you like)
2 cups cooked turkey, diced
1 teaspoon parsley
½ teaspoon salt, pepper, paprika

In large kettle sauté onion, carrots and celery in butter until onion is transparent. Reduce heat and blend in flour, cook till bubbly. Slowly add broth, stirring constantly. Add all other ingredients and simmer for 20 minutes.

Ring in the New!

The new year in Seattle started out a bit wet and gloomy outside, but I'm feeling quite the opposite inside. I'm surrounded by people I love (and who love me back) and have a full, rich life. I was thinking about my post in August about who I want to become and how I've progressed since then and I'm feeling OK about it.

I'm definitely fitter than I was six months ago. As I write this, I'm a bit sore from the hard core workout that I had yesterday. I've lost some unwanted weight. It takes a lot more to get my heart rate up and it take much less time for the heart rate to come down. My Vitamin D levels are normal, even without the sun's help. For all of this, I'm feeling pretty good about myself.

I've also spent more time blogging and less time playing time-wasting games on the computer. I can't say that I've stopped those altogether (as the DH can attest), but I've seriously curtailed the habit and that feels really good.

I'm still working on spiffing up the office and learning new software, but altogether I've made some nice progress.

Here's to more of the same in the New Year!