Saturday, November 22, 2008

Practice fabric

Because I'm still a rookie sewer (that's one who sews not place where waste travels), I hate to use fabric that's too nice until I get better and am finally making things I will actually be able to wear. I have a not inconsiderable amount of incredibly gorgeous nice high-quality fabric waiting for me in my stash when the magic days of increased skill level arrive, purchased before I realized how far away those days are. Meanwhile, I have to work on other fabric to get better, and that's what I call practice fabric. Stuff that was acquired cheap or free where the investment is low in case I screw up, because let's face it, I probably will.

This morning something funny happened. Back in the spring, I inherited some fabric from The Professor's mother, and a couple of pieces were decent-sized lengths of what appear to be pretty nice wool. Stuff for which I would expect to pay at least $20/yard if bought new. Well, I figured that stuff would be put away to use when I get better at sewing, because it's just too precious for a new sewer to use. Not practice fabric. But when I looked for a cheap wool or wool blend at Joann's yesterday per the instructions of my home ec teacher friend, I had no luck, and a trip to the nicer fabric store yielded only some nice polyester fabrics that I was assured would behave similar to wool because of how they are woven. They were a little pricey, though, at $13/yd for one, $15/yd for the other, so they don't really help me in terms of being good practice fabric.

I made enough progress on the simple cotton skirt yesterday to know that I am going to have to start over in terms of adjusting the fit of this pattern, and since The Professor is teaching today, I have to wait to get measured before I can start that process (he's my faithful measurer). So, I'm cleaning up the sewing room, and I pick up these pieces of nice wool, just to see how much of them I have, and a receipt falls out. Turns out The Professor's mom got these at a mill closeout kind of place. And she (not me) paid $13. For both of them. In 1981. Hmmm, I think those could be practice fabric after all. I think I will still take a quick jaunt to the other local fabric store and see if they have any remnants of a wool blend out of which I might eke another practice skirt, though. Heaven knows I need plenty of practice.

Friday, November 21, 2008

More happy news

Yesterday one of my dreams came true. I don't know how, but magically, I got Pandora to play via my Squeezebox (mine is an older generation version, not so sleek but just dandy). I'm currently listening to Coles Whalen radio (you might need a Pandora account for that link to work), but should my mood change, oh, the choices I have. I don't think I've mentioned before how much I love Pandora, but I love it. And now that I can listen to it through my good speakers, instead of my shitty little computer speakers? I love it even more.

The radio is keeping me company today while I (fingers crossed) finish a skirt I have been working on sewing for a couple months. Not a couple months of actual work. Very small amounts of working on it spread out, for no good reason, over a couple months. This project is one that should be able to be done in a day. Last night I called a home ec teacher I met at a draping class I took in September who generously agreed to give me some sewing coaching to confess how stuck I was and what had happened. I tripped up at the waistband stage, but the good news is, my problems are probably not because I suck but more because I didn't know enough about different kinds of interfacing and used the wrong kind. I felt so much better and wished that I hadn't waited so long to call her for advice.

During the course of the conversation she said something that I hope to be able to say myself someday. She said, "I could make a hundred wool skirts really quickly." Fantastic. I'm finishing one cotton skirt slowly, but maybe once I finish this one, I'll make another and will take less time to do it. Next up is definitely going to be wool or a wool blend, because a) that's what my home ec teacher mentor told me to use, and b) it's snowing here.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Movie: Romeo and Juliet Get Married

I loved this movie. Loved it. Start to finish, it was a delight. The acting is stellar; the story is wonderful. I was cheering along like I was at a soccer match myself, and that's saying something, because I'm not what one would call a sports person. See this movie. It's subtitled, but it's so completely worth it. It's the story of Romeo and Juliet set in modern Brazil, and the star-crossed lovers are fans of rival soccer teams. What are you waiting for? Go rent this movie now. You will thank me.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Making my life easier

I haven't been keeping up on my movie reviews on this blog. We don't have cable, so we watch DVDs from the library instead, and despite my success with TV Turnoff Week (man, do I ever get tired of linking to that site? No, I do not), I watch way more TV than I would like to admit. Usually it's good background noise for knitting, but also because my brain, except in cases of extreme interest in some hobby or other, refuses to do anything productive after about 7 pm, there's a lot of evening TV viewing in our house. But lots of the stuff I see isn't even worth writing up, so I just let the list fade away. Well, I am making an effort to spruce up Ye Olde Blogge here, and I'd just like to keep track for my own reference, too, so I added a little Recently Viewed list in the sidebar (over to the right there, you can't miss it) with links to the shows or movies I've watched on DVD. Enjoy! If you want more details on anything, feel free to ask, and if something especially fantastic wafts in front of my eyeballs, I'll be sure to pipe up about it.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Second harvest of the day

Some potatoes, a little more broccoli and another cabbage.

He grew all this stuff from seeds people! Well, the potatoes are grown from other potatoes, but how incredibly cool is it that he took seeds and turned them into food. Are we going to live on what we can grow? Not any time soon, but it's a nice supplement to all the money we spend at the farmer's market, and if next year we can grow more, and the year after that a little more, so much the better. This soup is going to be pretty darn good.

And while I chop mountains of vegetables (carrots, leeks, jerusalem artichokes and collards done, onions, potatoes, broccoli and now cabbage to go), The Professor is outside building a pathway to our side door, taking advantage of the warm (albeit wet) weather while we can. I better get back to it, but I am just so excited about food being produced this late in the year that I couldn't contain my excitement for even a moment.

We grew carrots

Well, The Professor grew them. I had nothing to do with it. But weren't these a lovely surprise to get from the garden today?

Here they are fresh from the yard:

And here they are all cleaned up and ready to be chopped up for soup:

We managed to get some food from our front yard this year. Among other things, we grew tomatoes, a couple little heads of broccoli, two wee cabbages, some peas (delish!), and a mess of rogue tomatillos that were mostly left to die on the vine because I didn't know what to do with them. So not a lot of food, but some, and I didn't do a good job of chronicling our efforts at all, mainly because they weren't our efforts but just The Professor's efforts. He didn't do such a great job of chronicling either. I have photos of some of the stuff we grew around here somewhere, and I will try to put together a post with a little more information about our first year with veggies in the front yard. For now, though, I've got soup to make.

Friday, November 14, 2008

My trip to City Hall

Yesterday afternoon I chanced to read an email from Green City Blue Lake, a local non-profit promoting sustainability in Cleveland and beyond, and I found out that there was a meeting today of the Cleveland City Planning Commission to allow public input on a proposed ordinance to allow (and regulate) the keeping of small livestock within the city limits: chickens, ducks, rabbits, bees, etc. Because this issue relates so closely to our food supply, I knew I had to attend, and I am so glad that I did.

I haven't been downtown too much since I moved to the Cleveland suburbs about 5 1/2 years ago, so just getting dropped off at City Hall by The Professor was enough of a new experience. The security at City Hall is not at all intimidating: a guy looked in my bag. Feh, no big deal. My only other municipal building experience in Cleveland was at the Police Headquarters where I went to fight a parking ticket (broken meter), and they had sent me through a metal detector and my bag through an X-ray, then confiscated my knitting needles. This time I took a crochet hook, and I got a fair bit done on a little project bag during the course of the meeting.

The City Hall building was beautiful and stately, with a huge atrium and broad stairways, and I wished I'd had my camera with me to take a picture of the beautiful marble water fountain I passed. When I sat down at the meeting, I noticed that I was feeling quite jittery. I think municipal buildings make me nervous, or maybe it's being anywhere near the workings of government, I am not sure. I was glad that I had some yarn to keep me calm.

I was surprised at how many people stated their names and then copped to owning illegal chickens and bees. I suppose that as of today their flocks are probably legal (depending on the size of the flock, because the ordinance did have some restrictions), but still, yipes. Actually, I think that was what had me so jittery, now that I think about it. Even though they said many times during the meeting that these ordinances are enforced on a nuisance basis (like, they aren't driving around looking for illegal henhouses and busting the owners, carting them away in the paddywagon; if you keep chickens and you don't keep their area clean and your neighbors complain, someone comes out and... I don't know, but you get in trouble), it still freaked me out.

At the very end of the meeting, I finally screwed up my courage, with the help of the guy sitting behind me to whom I confessed my fear of speaking at the meeting and who vetted my whispered version of my input and told me "Yeah, they need to hear that." My input was simple: I just thanked them for considering more liberal legislation for livestock ownership in the City because they would be setting an example for the region and leading the way for other areas, our suburb for instance, to follow suit. Now I just need to find out who, if anyone, is leading the charge to get a similar revision to the ordinance in front of our City Planning Commission.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

I voted

Not that there was ever a question, but I went and cast my vote for Barack Obama for President today, and a mess of other things as well. By the time I was done, my line buddies (neighbors, that was a treat) were long gone. As I was walking to the polling place this morning, the library at the end of my street, there was already a line out the parking lot and onto the sidewalk. That line had dwindled by the time I left to being contained inside the library, but seeing it brought tears to my eyes and a lump to my throat. My stomach had butterflies that were like the cumulative effect of first day of school, first day of college, first date, driver's license test and every job interview I've ever had all rolled together, with maybe a little bit of kid-on-Christmas thrown in for good measure.

This election is the first time I've voted at my polling place on Election Day in a major race (not counting primaries and special election). In 2004 and 2006, I was volunteering to work for Election Protection all day , so I had voted early by absentee ballot. It was a new experience, and a good one. I hope the polls stay that busy all day, and that people are willing to ride out the lines to do their civic duty.

And now, we pray.