Distraction, ambition and accomplishment

Whoops, it’s been a few weeks again. I’ve been a bit distracted by my “Christmas present.” It’s in quotations because I bought it for myself – I have a Kindle!

Kindle

I love my Kindle. I love books, as you can see by one end of my basement:

Basement

The more I researched the Kindle, the more I realized that it was probably the best way to go for me. I just don’t have the storage room anymore. I read very quickly, so if I travel even for a long weekend I end up taking 4-5 books with me and that is ridiculously bulky and heavy. I went with the Kindle Wi-Fi because
a. It was reasonably priced at $139
b. It is small enough to tuck into my purse so I can read while in line at the bank, or on lunch at work
c. It has wi-fi (not 3G) so I can connect when I’m at home or at work, or anyplace else that has an accessible wireless network.
d. It is from Amazon, a company that is NOT having financial issues (this is one of the reasons I did not choose the Nook from Barnes & Noble)
e. It uses e-ink (no backlighting) which is much easier on your eyes

Speaking of the Nook, I had a chance to compare the two side by side (we received a Nook at work as a promotional gift) and although the Nook is prettier in an i-something kind of way (it’s white and shiny, while the Kindle is dark gray and matte), in every other way I thought the Kindle was the better product. It was lighter, faster at downloading (we downloaded the same sample at the same time, and I had finished reading the sample before the Nook finished downloading it), and easier to use. I’m very satisfied with my choice.

Practically the first thing I did (okay, first I charged it, then I downloaded a few books) was make a case for it. You can buy cases but they cost $25 – $50 and, well, that’s just silly. There are a ton of sleeve tutorials on the web but I didn’t want a sleeve. I ended up rigging up something using my own imagination and I’m so happy with it that I haven’t even made a better version. I had intended the first one to be a temporary cover, something to experiment with and learn how NOT to make a cover (note the black thread!). There are a few things I’d fix (placement of the velcro, width of the pockets inside) if I were to make another, but it works and I’m happy enough.

Kindle case, version 1

Kindle in case

One accessory that was absolutely necessary was a booklight. Because it isn’t backlight, you can’t read in the dark without one. I looked at a number of different kinds, but ended up with this, which I bought at Target:

Booklight for Kindle

Booklight for Kindle

Kindle with light

I like that it is a bar, not a flexible arm. I don’t have trouble with bright spots and it’s nice and compact. Would you believe the brand is not on the light anywhere? I don’t have the packaging anymore, so I can’t even tell you what kind it is. I did NOT see it on Amazon, though.

Okay, moving on to the ambition portion of this post…

Remember when I talked about the Dear Jane project? I’ve made my first few blocks! I charted out the colors for each block and I’m doing three easier blocks in the same color each week. I’ll work up to the more challenging blocks, but I wanted a dozen or so blocks under my belt before I started upping the difficulty level.

Plain Jane Week 1

As for accomplishment, my aunt had a major charity project in the works and needed help finishing it. Actually, she needed help starting it! Karen, my mom and I spent about 17 hours over Saturday and Sunday working on this quilt. It’s a relatively easy quilt – just half square triangles and four patches – but it’s going to finish at 84″ x 110″ so it took a lot of work. I cut almost all of it, pressed and trimmed the HSTs, and sewed a good portion of the pieced border. By the time Karen left Sunday night, we were this far:

Karen's Green Quilt

It just needs the last couple of borders sewn on – the pieced border, another skinny brown border, and then a wide green print border. They’ll be tying it and using it for a raffle quilt in the next week or two.

Finally, the gratuitous cat photos:

Napping by the Fireplace 3

Buttercup is completely oblivious to the world. Why?

Napping by the Fireplace 2

Because the fireplace is on.

Napping by the Fireplace 1

Yeah, I wanna be a cat.

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Post-Christmas assistance needed

We’ve had this music box of the Three Wise Men for as long as I can remember. I think my mom got it at a toy party (think Tupperware) in the early 70’s. It was broken when she got it (see the shiny yellow glue holding the heads on?!). For me, it isn’t Christmas until this is on my bookshelf. I love it in spite of its cheap, broken kitschiness. I do not, however, know the name of the song it plays. Can anyone help?

The music box part is wearing down, and it doesn’t play very quickly any longer. I’d love to find out the name of the song before it stops playing altogether.

Edited to add: Lynne, you are a genius!!! The song is Dominique by Jeanine Deckers, known as Soeur Sourire (Sister Smile) of Belgium (and often referred to as The Singing Nun). Here’s one of the better versions I found on You Tube:

What I learned in 2010

I was going to do something flip here, a sort of tongue in cheek version of the recent flurry of blog posts that detail the events of the last year and the pearls of wisdom the blogger has gleaned from their experiences. Then I thought about everything that’s happened this year, and I just couldn’t do it. Oh, there will be an item or two, but for the most part, my year has been surrounded by real, sometimes painful, sometimes joyous, drama. I couldn’t minimize it for entertainment.

One of the defining moments of this year was the suicide of my cousin’s 16-year-old son. He had a lot of stuff happening in his life, and I regret that he chose to end his life rather than push through and find out that things could get better. Although I quickly learned that he had a support system had he chosen to ask for help, I still have moments of regret for not seeking him out and giving him another link in his support chain. I learned that it’s better to offer and be rejected than regret not offering.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, I met my niece for the first time in 12 years. She’s 14. She joined us for Christmas Eve, and it was a wonderful day. Her energy and enthusiasm for everything – EVERYTHING – around her were exhausting and exhilarating. She is riding that line between little girl and young woman, and her leaps from one to the other were dizzying. I am so glad that we had the time together, and I look forward to more. Here’s Lilly with the quilt Mom made for her:

Lilly's Quilt

Work has been both truly enjoyable and truly frustrating. I’m still learning how to bite my tongue, moderate my temper, and get things done even when the time and support aren’t necessarily available. I still believe, and I still hope.

Our Stitch & Bitch has continued every month for almost three years! We’ve gained and lost members, notably my aunt Mickey who has moved (again!) to Washington state. The additions to our group include an old friend (Lisa) that I hadn’t seen in over ten years, a new friend (Jeanne of Grey Cat Quilts) who found me through this blog, and another blogger (Karrie of Freckled Whimsy) that I met thanks to an online swap. We’re up to eleven quilters now, and as long as no one needs to use the quilting frame, we can fit one more in the basement. I can’t list all that I’ve learned from this group, but it includes everything from new quilting techniques (thanks to Jeanne and Karrie) and new recipes (Lisa introduced me to fennel, for which I will always be grateful) to how to laugh until it hurts (Pat and Becky, I’m looking at you!). I also learned that getting together once a month to ignore everything else and just sew and laugh does wonders for my mental health.

One of our S&Bers is dealing with some challenging health issues. I don’t want to share too much detail, but my mom’s sister is battling cancer that was more extensive than doctors originally thought. Recovery from surgery has been plagued by setbacks that add to her frustration and exhaustion, and she’s has a reaction to chemo that makes treatment difficult. Her focus and positive attitude are inspiring, and I know by next Christmas she will be fully recovered. She is one of those people who just puts her head down and pushes through, and her grit goes a long way. She was able to come to the family Christmas at our house, despite the challenges of traveling, and I believe that being surrounded by family and joy was good for her. I am still learning this lesson, too.

Another thing I learned this year is much less emotional, but no less important. I learned that when you are using a sewing machine, you should keep your fingers back. I learned that if you do accidentally sew your finger, you should remove your foot from the pedal immediately and freeze. You should not, under any circumstances, jerk your hand back once the needle has entered your finger. It is too late to get it out of the way, and it will just cause damage.

Sewed Sewed all the way through

I also learned how to put on a fingertip bandage.

I hope your year was less eventful – or at least more joyous – than mine has been. I also hope that your upcoming year brings you peace and happiness.