Thursday, November 29, 2007

Sorta Famous!

I know, two posts in as many days. I couldn't help myself, though. Let me tell you why...

Back in August, a new fabric designer named Mark Lipinski put out an APB for embroiderers/embellishers. Seems he had designed a fabric line that was meant to be embellished, and he wanted to put out some samples at quilt market that were done to show others what the fabric could look like when it had been worked on by someone. When I heard about it, I thought "I can do that", so I emailed him that I could embroider and would be happy to help, but I got no response. I let it go for a few days, and then I figured, "no, I'm going to be persistent with this", so I emailed him again, and attached a couple of sample pictures of my work just to help convince him. He called the next day. I got the fabric, and started to work on it right away. It was a pretty big project, just because of what I could SEE in the fabric to do. Every time I finished one part, I saw something else I could do in another part, and so on. Long story short, 70 intensive hours later, it was done.

I sent it back to the designer, figuring that was that and probably I'd never hear about it again. Pretty much I never did hear again. However, in the yahoo group the designer has, he posted that a magazine called "The Quilter" was interested in photographing the fabric line, and possibly a few of the embellished pieces that were done. There were a lot of embellished pieces. I was by no means the only one to do one. I filed the info in the back of my head with a "maybe mine'll get chosen" sort of thought, and that was that. I just found out two weeks ago that the January issue was the one where the fabric was featured. I ordered the magazine to see if I was in it, and guess what??? Yeah, I bet you've already guessed, but I'm going to say it anyway. I MADE THE MAGAZINE!!

Of course, my name is nowhere in it. But it's my piece, folks! Here's the article:

And this is the close up of the pieces. Mine's the one in the middle:

Isn't that a kicker? One of the funniest parts of all this, is not that they used it, because that just amazes me, but that I actually did two pieces, and the one they used is the one with less embellishment. The other one was beaded and embroidered up to the teeth. Too funny. This is what both the pieces look like for real:

This would be the over the top one

And the more "Plain Jane" of the two.

And so there you go. I'm kind of famous. Woohoo!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Cookie Cookie Cookie Start With C!!

This week has been insanely busy (again). I took down all the Thanksgiving decorations and am in the process of putting up all the Christmas/Yule decorations. It's taken 3 days so far, which is crazy, but I'm enjoying the process. Hopefully, though, I'll be done soon, so I can clear up all the boxes. Tripping over the stuff is starting to make me crazy.

I've been planning my holiday baking. Do any of you do this? I don't know too many people who make cookies or breads or cakes for the holidays any more. I think it's a shame. I LOVE cookies. Actually, I LOVE cookie dough! I do I do! I wish I knew people near me who baked so we could do a cookie exchange. Or a cookie party. The closest I've gotten was last year when I made cookies for my next door neighbors, and they made cheesecakes (YUM) for us, and I brought the cookies to their house and they brought the cheesecakes to ours and that was it. No one stayed to talk or anything. That was really nice, but do you know what I am talking about? The kind of cookie swaps with like a dozen people getting together with a different kind of cookie, and everyone trades them and then we all drink tea and coffee and hot cocoa and sit around at talk. That's mostly a dream though. I don't actually have any friends, so that's not going to happen with a dozen people. In my head it's nice, though.

Anyway, this is my cookie list for this year. Tell me what you think...
1. Strawberry Thumbprints
2. Butterscotch Shortbread
3. Hungarian Poppy Seed
4. Rolled Sugar
5. Mexican Hot Chocolate Balls
6. Lemon-Cream Sandwiches
7. Peppermint Twists
8. Springerle
9. Cranberry-Eggnog Twirls
10. Holiday Fruit
11. Fudge Ecstasies
12. Marshmallow Truffles (yeah, not cookies, but candy)
13. Caramel Bites (also not cookies)

Some of these are old favorites, and some are new. You can see I have a whole bunch of different flavors, because I like variety. I can tell you that the Rolled Sugar and the Butterscotch Shortbread are outrageously good, fairly quick, make a whole bunch, and let me use my cookie cutter collection, which is fairly large and makes me happy. The Cranberry Eggnog Twirls are somewhat fussy to make, but unbelievable to eat (even when baked--actually, they may be BETTER when they are baked--hard to believe). Springerle take 2 days to do, and are somewhat tricky to cut out (you need a cookie mold to do it), but they are so pretty it just doesn't matter. The Hungarian Poppy Seed are new for me--I'm excited about them because I LOVE poppy seeds. I am a bit nervous about how they'll be received, though. I don't know what everyone else thinks of poppy seeds. Ah, oh well. It'll be an adventure.

I know what you're thinking here. Why does someone, who has no friends, need to make 11 types of cookies?? That'd be a good question. I guess I do it for myself, mostly. Not that I eat them (I hardly do), but I make them because I love to make them. I love to plan them and gather the ingredients and then spend the time mixing dough, cutting out, baking, decorating, etc. It reminds me of Christmases when I was little. The cookie making in our house would take a couple of days and all the countertops in the kitchen. Afterward, there would be tins and tins and tins of cookies to eat. Truly it is one of my happiest memories. I know my kids are starting to love the tradition as well (they are still little), and I KNOW they love to eat the cookies. Handing down that tradition makes it more special. Plus, I've decided to hand out cookies to a whole bunch more neighbors this year. Last year we only gave to our two nearest neighbors. This year, I'd like to give to more. We know a few more families than we did, and I just feel like this may be the way to reach out and try to make friends. The only thing I do not know how to do is to try to tell people they don't need to reciprocate. I don't want to put anyone in the awkward position of "I gave you a gift, you give me a gift", but that's what inevitably happens. I want to give cookies, but not get cookies. We seriously do not need them. Not with 11 types hanging around the house! That'll require some thought. I'm going to do it anyway, though. I just hope no one minds.

I also have 2 bus drivers, a teacher, my family, and my husband's work crew to "cookie-up", so I think most of those are going to find homes no problem. I will have to find a way to keep some just for us (in tins, of course). I sense a mutiny from my two little ones (not to mention my husband) if I give them all away!

Ok, I could go on and on about this. I will refrain from discussing with you about my cookie recipe collection, or the fact that I think I finally found the perfect cookie sheets after many years of searching, or how annoying it was to search for peppermint extract versus mint extract, which tastes like toothpaste. I'll spare you. I hear the boxes of decorations calling my name anyway, so I should get back to that. I hope you all have the best week and sweet cookie memories to share!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Hello again!

How was every one's Thanksgiving and weekend? I hope all was good with everyone!

As promised, I am back, and I brought pictures! Thanksgiving was very nice here, and my daughter's birthday was a big success. I really think she had a good time. I think my son enjoyed it too, because though he didn't get to open the presents, he did get to hand them to my daughter to open, and that seemed to make him happy. So, a good time was had all around. She had asked for two things for her birthday: roller skates and My Little Pony. She has loved My Little Pony for 3 years now. I think she has 80 some-odd of them, though I haven't counted. All I know is that they are all in a BIG plastic tubby, which is pretty much full. Plus, of course, she has all the accessories. (Well, maybe not ALL the accessories, but quite a lot.) Unfortunately, though, Ponies have pretty much run their course in the US and are pretty hard to find anymore. So I think that it will be a fairly pony-less Christmas and definitely this was the last Pony birthday. I am surprised it lasted as long as it did, though. She started to love them when she was 3 and still loves them at 6. It's not often a little kid will stick with something that long. I know my kids are quick to grow in and out of "phases". This one stuck. Ah, Ponies, you are too good. Thank you for the three Pony birthdays in a row and all the pony "stuff" I trip over in her room. Thank you for all the mind-numbing Pony movies with shrieky pony singers and the nearly mind-numbing Pony books I've read over and over and over. We love you, Ponies. You are good clean fun for a child with a fabulous imagination.

As for the roller skates, I don't know why she wanted them, except that Curious George had them on one of the shows (yes, we are PBS kids here) and she thought they looked cool. I guess they must have made more of an impression than I thought. So she got roller skates and a helmet and knee and elbow pads (thanks Mema and Papa) and spent quite a while outside with Daddy and me skating and falling down. She loved it. It was great. And today was nice and mild, so it was a great day for skating. Maybe she'll get another couple days that are just as nice before Winter settles in completely. I've got my fingers crossed!

On the other front, I finished a present for the daughter of a friend of mine. She is 11, and I was worried what I made would not be "cool enough". Kids can be so hard to impress, especially at that age. However, I learned from my friend that her daughter is very into sewing right now, so I thought maybe I'd be safe. Turns out she loves it. It's --yeah--another kitty. This one is a patchwork kitty made of Amy Butler fabrics. It was a charm pack I had bought last year to see if any of it would work in my family room--none of it did. So I made it into a table runner top and left it at that. I pulled it back out and decided I really didn't want another table runner, and thought that this might be the best way to use the fabrics. I think she's adorable. She was plenty "busy" with all the fabrics alone, but I "blinged" her up a bit, because with kids that age, more is more and less is not enough. And actually, I think she's just right. And it was kind of hard to give her away. But I did. Brave woman, I am. :)

I also finished a present for my daughter, which I gave to her yesterday. She was less than impressed. The Ponies were really the thing she was looking for. I am not upset, though. She's only 6, and I know one day she will appreciate it. Plus, I really like the way it turned out. You might remember it from when I finished it, back in October. Man, that's been sitting around a while. Oops. Well, now it is done and in her hands. It's another thing I can cross off my list.

And one more picture for you--the apron. I am VERY happy with it. I have to see if I can reproduce it, so that's going to be a bit tricky ('cause I didn't write anything down), but I think it came out great.

It takes not too much fabric, and is fairly easy to sew. The double ruffle is cute, I think. I used the leftover ruffle to make the flower. In the back, I left a long tail because I like a big bow made out of a lot of fabric. It really looks like a dress bottom to me, which is what I like about it. I had made a pocket for it, but it kind of interrupted the "flow" of the front, so I took it off. It's always a learning process. The other thing I learned about this is that I need a dressmaker dummy. I ran back and forth from my studio to my bedroom mirror 10,000 times playing with those pleats up top. I had to change the number of them I don't even know how many times, and the direction of them nearly as many times again. What a pain. If I had a dummy, I could have just worked on it then and there. Of course, how to justify that purchase when I don't really make clothing is tricky...... hmmm...... I dunno. Maybe I could just say I want to make aprons, and this will make it easier? I DO really like aprons. Yeah, we'll see if that goes over with my husband. Maybe. :)

Oh, and you may have noticed I've removed the little "doll" from the side of my blog. I'm trying to add a picture of ME there. Not that I can't figure it out, but I'm trying to find a picture that makes me look nice and not either A) annoyed or B) insane and still has my hair looking pretty good (difficult to do with curls) and me having makeup on. Seems silly, right? But being a stay at home mom, I'm all about the "putting my hair in a pony tail and no makeup because who cares it's me and two kids in a house" kind of thing. And then when I get dressed up, it's for a party, and generally, I'm manning the camera. It's just not working out right now. I will get it, though.

Until next time, everyone take care. Have a great night!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

No Pics today

Grrr. I tried. I really did. I spent all day yesterday in my sewing room, working on a new apron that I made up. I was all excited to show you all what it looks like... and I didn't finish. And today I've had to cook for tomorrow and clean for Saturday (my daughter's birthday party), so I didn't get a chance to do what I wanted to. I just have a little hand sewing (ugh) to finish it up. I think that by next post I will definitely have it done and then I will show you all!! I hope you will all like it. I'm surprised by it, honestly, because it's sort of unlike me. I think blogging "unsticks" me somehow, creatively. It seems that the more I share with all of you, the further I'm able to go. I don't know how that works, but it's lots of fun.

I will not be blogging for a few days, with Thanksgiving tomorrow, Friday a frenzied cleaning/prepping day for Saturday, and then Saturday my daughter's party, so I will say Happy Thanksgiving now for all of you who celebrate!! And to those of you who don't celebrate Thanksgiving tomorrow, I wish you a happy and healthy weekend. I will talk to all of you soon!

PS--Thank you all for the kind words about the cat bed. It seems Percy likes it, and Sam is happy to still sleep on whatever's been dropped on the floor. Cats!!

To my friend Pumpkin (Cathey)--Thank you for the compliment! I would be delighted and honored to make a bed for your kitty, if you would like one. I realize it will take a little while to get there, but if you don't mind the wait, it's all yours. If you would like one, just shoot me an email with what size you'd like to fit your purring friend, and what color you would like, and your address, and I will do my very bestest. :)

Monday, November 19, 2007


Hey everyone!

It's been a while since my last post. I have been so busy! This weekend was a whirlwind of activity. So, without further ado, this is what I've been up to....

Nahnah nah nahnah nah nahnah....

Nahnah nah nahnah nah nahnah....



(If that whole intro didn't work for you, try putting it to the Batman theme song in your head. It works and makes the whole thing so much more exciting!) The cats had taken to lying on anything they could find on the floor--the kids' coats, a quilt, whatever. I have no idea why, because we have 3 perfectly good couches, but no, they were on the floor. So I took pity and made them a bed. They sort of use it. I still found Sam on my son's pajamas this morning, and the bed was otherwise unoccupied, so who knows what cats are thinking?? I made it big enough for both of them to sleep on, but I have only seen them sleep on it one at a time. They seem to like it. It matches nothing in the house, but I don't care because I really like it! I LOVE toile! I LOVE black and white! And what goes so well with black and white?? RED! And do I have any black, white and red anywhere in the house?? NO! But I still like it. If anything, it matches the cats themselves. Oh, they are SO fashionable!

I also finished requilting my boo-boo quilt. I am very pleased with it now, though it may be an oops. Percy is modeling it for me here. He's so helpful. The echo quilting gave it the most delightful nubbly texture. It is a delight to feel. I will have to remember the technique for another quilt that I don't mess up. Only downside I can see is that it takes a lot of time, and it leaves a trillion thread-ends. Don't like those thread-ends. Blech. Not at all. Oh well. Now that it's done, I need to give it a name. I was thinking "Dammit", but then I figure that will be awkward when my daughter learns to read (which she almost can already). How do you tell her not to say the word then it's written on a quilt? Yeah, exactly. So I've settled for "It's a Mistake", after the Men at Work song. Great song, that one. I think that's what I'll go with.

That quilt broke my rule about not using the same fabric line for one quilt. I usually like to mix and match lines, because if you just pull one line, it's kind of like cheating. You KNOW the fabrics are going to go together, where's the challenge? But I loved the fabric, so I couldn't help it. It's the Fall Back in Time line from Moda and Sandy Gervais. It is so cool and funky, I couldn't help myself. I've only broken this rule three times now, and I think---yes--each time it's been for a Moda line. Damn you Moda!! Ah, just kidding. Keep coming up with the beautiful fabbies. I will try to resist the easy way out.

Let's see, what else? I puttered in my studio yesterday and cleaned/reorganized it. I am so proud of myself. I re-did my categories of fabrics, hopefully for the last time. I can't guarantee it, though. I am a real stickler for categories. And then I'll get a fabric or two that doesn't fit the categories I have, and I'll have to make a new one, and then rethink all the old ones, and so on. Anyway, I cleaned it up, rearranged, reorganized, and so on, and then pulled fabrics for two new quilts. Aren't they pretty?? I think so.
I am TOTALLY wanting to dive into one of these two piles, roll around in them for a little while, and then get serious and make a quilt out of them. But I can't. I have 4 quilt tops ready to be quilted and I'm sick of looking at them. So my deal with myself is no new quilts until one of the waiting tops is done and off my ladder (where I hang the pending projects). Yeah, good luck with that. I don't think I can resist long. I don't mind the quilting, but I LOVE the piecing. Something about fondling fabrics. I don't know. It's probably an illness or something treatable. Fabric rehab, anyone? Not me. I don't ever want to be cured.

And in final news, it's snowing. I'm not really used to the weather up here just yet. On LI, it took forever for fall to come, but then it lasted a while. But here, it goes from summer to WINTER like that. It seems like fall is sort of 3 weeks in between. And it smells different. I don't know how, maybe it's the type of trees. On LI, there are a lot of Oaks. Here there are a lot of Maples. The leaves on the Maples are so much prettier than the Oaks, but they smell different. It takes getting used to, at least for me.
Again, thanks for visiting me! I hope you all had a great weekend!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Requilting the Quilt

So there I was, rolling along so beautifully. This quilt looked great in sketches, the fabrics are completely fabulous, I was so psyched because this was the second one in a row that was great and "grabby" and did I mention I loved the fabrics? Oh, I was so happy. And then it happened. I put the thing together, started quilting it, and noticed there was a problem with the design. It's just a little off. I have no idea if it would be a big deal, but it bothers me, so I don't think I'm going to use it for the pattern line next year. Dammit. Still love the fabrics, though. Yummy! Guess this one'll be just for me. OH, what a burden to bear.

Believe it or not, that's not the problem. I hate when a design flops, and I think this is the first time I got to quilting it before I noticed the flop, but what are you going to do? One more for the back of the couch! The problem is that I quilted the quilt with a "stitch in the ditch" technique on my machine. Then I echo quilted it just one line on the blocks. It was so pretty. It laid so flat (see that top picture? F-L-A-T. SO nice). I clipped the threads (hate that), sewed on the binding, did the hand sewing, and just like I always do, washed it. GRRRRR!!!!

An aside here---I have a "dirty little secret". I wash my quilts. Always. I can't help myself. I handled the dang thing. I drew on the dang thing with chalk. The cats lay on it. The kids probably wiped their noses on it or touched it with chocolate hands, so it gets washed. End of story. I know there are some quilt purists out there who wash the fabric and then never the quilt, but those people must not have kids or ever use the quilts. That's not me. They get used, they get loved, they get dirty, they get washed. End of story. There it is. I've confessed. I feel better. :)

Anyway, I washed it. I had used cotton batting (Warm and White), so I figured on a bit of shrinkage, as I hadn't pre-washed the batting. I was hoping for that "soft puckered look". The look I got when I pulled it out of the dryer (on low--I know better!), was not softly puckered. It was more like the "in agony because the batting went one way and the fabric stayed put" puckered look. Oh boy, not pretty. I had bubbles in the fabric, the border (which you can see below) was doing a waving thing, and my beautiful, funky fabric was just a sad, sort of tangled-looking mess. Ugh.

Well, I darn near threw it out. The design flopped, and now it was just an ugly too-puckered mess. But I knew I would be sorry, because I still love the fabric, so I just threw it on the back of the couch and thought about it. The fabrics relaxed a little in the next couple of days. The batting relaxed a little, too. It started to look like a flatter quilt, the border no longer waved at me, but the center strips were still puckered too much. So I decided to requilt it. The pics above show how it's going---SLOWLY. I am just echo quilting my echo quilting, for lack of a better explanation. Trying to ease the fullness of the fabric into the batting and make the damn thing sit flat like a good little quilt. I don't think I've ever requilted a quilt before. I think this is a first. Of course (or I think I should say luckily), the quilt I did right before this one got an allover quilting technique, so it puckered softly, and sits flat like an obedient quilt should. So the moral of the story? If using cotton batting, remember to quilt it into submission!! And I guess, if your quilting doesn't work out at first, don't be afraid to requilt. Lesson learned.

Thank you all for your comments on the last couple of posts. I always really appreciate and look forward to all your feedback. I wish I could find a way to comment back on your comments and have a "real" conversation! Thank you also for the tips on customizing this template. I'm still looking into it. If you see, I did manage to get my email link into the sidebar. I'm a computer GENIUS!! (NOT!)

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Did you see this?? And a question

So, reading through blogs this morning, like I try to do a few times a week, I came across this blog through someone else's:

It's a new blog, but those fabrics! Well, I just had to have another look. This is the website:

All I can say is WOW!! I had no idea this was out there. They are gorgeous! Funniest part about this is that I read that issue of Quilter's Home, and I don't remember seeing them. I don't know how I missed it. I am right now restraining myself, but it won't last long. Those fabrics are begging me to take them home!!!

And a quick question for all of you: Do any of you know how to customize a blog template on Blogger? This layout/template isn't doing it for me anymore, not that it really was to begin with. The templates available for Blogger are not fabulous, and there are so many blogs out there that are really interesting, I would like to kick mine up a notch. Does anyone know how, maybe can point me in a direction where I can learn? If you do, can you shoot me an email? I am putting the email link on the side column. Thanks so much!!

Edited to say: Apparently, I can't add the email link on the side, either. DOH!! I am not good at this. My email is here until I figure it out.

Friday, November 9, 2007


Yes, I read it. Did anyone else read it? Someone must have, it's sold some ridiculous number of copies, and many people are very opinionated about it. They either love it or despise it, it seems.
I'm going to ride the middle road, myself. I didn't get it. Ok, let me clarify that. I understood the book. I completely understood the parallels that Maguire was drawing between Oz and our society. None of that escaped me. But honestly, I can say I don't think it was done all that well. I don't think this book was one of complete genious, but I can't say it was completely crap, either. He made some very good points in the book, and some points he just beat you over the head with. There were some situations that really could have used more clarification or description, and some that had too much.
If you haven't read the book, it is about Elphaba, the "Wicked Witch of the West", trying to turn the myth that she was evil on it's head. Interestingly, she was born evil (or was she??). Green, possibly hermaphroditic, and with pointed teeth, the first thing she does after taking her first breaths is bite off someone's finger. Is she evil, did she mean to do it? Or is she just a baby with an unfortunate dental situation she can't control? Is she evil because of her "handicaps"? That's pretty much the underlying current of the book. What is the cause of evil? Does it just exist, or does it develop? Is that evil at all? Is evil intended or accidental? Well, turns out Elphaba grows up, loses the teeth, is still green, and leads a sad, somewhat solitary life of loss and means harm to no one (there is an exception to this, and it's not Dorothy). Truly, she just seemed like a normal person to me, albeit a green one.
As for the theme of evil and all it's questions, in the book, I feel that I got beaten over the head with it. Elphaba talked to herself about evil non stop in the book and it became boring. Situations arose where the author tried to make you think about evil. It was too much. I understood the paradox in the beginning of the story, and to have it re-hashed over and over was tiresome. I started to skim those parts.
There were some points in the book that I thought were very interesting, and they weren't the main ones. For example, when Elphaba was born, she was not what her mother was expecting. She was expecting a boy, Elphaba was a girl, she was expecting a non-green infant, oh well on that one, that sort of thing. The point that was interesting was that Nanny, who came to take care of Elphaba, saw her and wondered if Elphaba had chosen her own color and gender before she was born, instead of it being some sort of weird genetic mutation. I don't know why, but that struck a cord with me. What an interesting idea. I'm sure it has some implications I'm not aware of yet, but that one stuck with me.
The other point that I thought was interesting was the idea of forgiveness. Elphaba had an affair with a married man for a while in the book. He was killed, causing grief for Elphaba, and causing her to want to tell the man's wife (her name was Sarima) about the affair, to seek forgiveness. Sarima wouldn't even hear Elphaba's story. Her thinking was that Elphaba had a burden of guilt that she was bearing, and she did not want that burden of guilt to be laid on her, by hearing Elphaba's confession. I thought that was interesting, that guilt was a burden that could be transferred. That Elphaba owned the burden, and Sarima wouldn't take it away to make her feel better, to then make herself feel worse. She would not allow the transfer. Instead, she made up stories about how her husband had died and whom he was having the affair with so she wouldn't face the truth. I think she knew the truth anyway. But I also think that everybody knows that the truth in your head is never as terrible as the truth when someone tells it to you. I don't know what it is about that communication. But once someone tells you something you may already know, it just makes it that much worse and that much more real. Sarima was trying to avoid having to face that reality, though she knew it all along. And in return she was punishing Elphaba with her own guilt. Without a transfer and forgiveness, Elphaba had to carry that grief and guilt the rest of her days. A fitting punishment, really.
So that part I thought was interesting. But it was at the back of the book, maybe in the last 200 pages (the book's 538 pages long). The rest of the book was consumed with the whole evil thing, and busy with making parallels to humans and human society. The parallels between Unionism and Christianity and Lurlinism and Paganism were boring because I felt they were too obvious. The struggle for Animals to be treated as humans was uninteresting, as it dealt with the question of why they are different, do they have souls, why were there Animals (basically talking animals with the ability to think and reason) and animals (just regular animals) and why and how were they different? Elphaba was much more interested in this than I was. Honestly, anyone who thinks animals (and I'm talking dogs and cats like we "own" here) don't have a soul or think for themselves is a complete idiot and never had an animal in their lives. Anyone who's had a "pet" knows they are their own "people", if you will. They don't talk, but if they could, I know they'd give us all a piece of their minds. I think by the end of the book, the point that Animals and animals weren't actually different was coming across, but in the wrong way. Elphaba kept the company of a monkey and some crows and bees, who weren't going to go off to college or get a job and were just animals and not Animals. They understood her just fine, and responded like sentient beings. I think the author was trying to chalk that up to her being a magical person, but that's a load of crap, honestly.
One other idea that the author proposed was that the Wizard (who was a terrible person and did terrible things) felt he couldn't be held responsible for them because Oz was not his world. So because he wasn't from there, anything he did there couldn't be judged to be bad or good because he was in some way "above" it. Removed from it, if you will. That was interesting, because I believe that happens in our society, too. Anonimity breeds animosity. He wasn't of their world, not like them, he could do what he likes. We feel far less awful telling off someone via email or on the phone than we do telling them off to their faces. Leaving a scathing comment for someone via the internet is much easier than walking up to them and berating them. His killings and imprisonings were parallels to this. That was interesting. And of course, Dorothy was his opposite. She falls out of the sky and kills someone and immediately feels terrible about it. She is from the same world as the wizard. Why should she care about an "other"? Yet she does. Go figure. Perhaps the answer is that absolute power corrupts absolutely. I don't know.
The author also dabbled with the idea of fate. Back when Elphaba was in college, her roommate Galinda (or Glinda, as she decided to be called) had a sort of premonition about whom she would marry. It was vague and fleeting, but she did marry him, causing me to think about whether or not it was coincidence or was it "written in the stars". It was a subtle point. The idea of fate came up again later, but it was not as subtle. I don't think that the theme was particularly well developed.
Elphaba's obsession with the shoes was forced and I thought, obvious. She wanted them because they were a symbol of the love her father had for her sister, Nessarose (the Wicked Witch of the East). By giving one daughter a gift of beauty and not the other, he was shunning her. He was saying "you are not acceptable to me. I cannot love you as much" to Elphaba. Interestingly, he showered his love on a horribly disfigured sister, not loving the whole one as much. One has to suppose it was because Nessarose was a "normal" color, and not green. Or you could think of it as Nessarose was the product (possibly) of his wife (whom he loved, assumably) and a man that he loved and not his child. So he would love the child because he loved the parents. Whatever. When the shoes first surfaced, Elphaba was jealous of them. When Dorothy got the shoes after Nessarose died, she got manic. She wanted the love that her father meant with those shoes for her own. But again, it was forced and kind of ridiculous. I felt that part of the story was there because the shoes had to be worked in somehow.
There were lots of other elements to the book that were very pedestrian. Drugs, drinking, orgies, sex, none of it was particularly shocking, though I got the feeling the author meant it to be. I don't have any idea why Elphaba was considered a witch, as she wasn't magical particularly, and didn't seem to subscribe to a faith that would have her called so. And I am mystified as to why she lit the damn broom on fire, causing the water thing and her death. There didn't seem to be a reason for it, and quite honestly felt like a tool to just have her killed like in the movie.
All in all, I fell lukewarm about the book. I must say I have NO IDEA how they'd make the damn thing into a musical, cause stage material, it is not. I suppose they'd cut it down significantly or just re-write it all together and loosely base it on the book. As to whether or not it followed the books (yes, the Wizard of Oz was a series) at all, I have to say "sort of". "Wicked" (sorry there's no underline here, or I'd use it) was much darker, and not meant for children by any stretch, but I read those Oz books by L. Frank Baum when I was a kid, and I always thought there was something "off" about them. They were nice and cute and happy, but I felt, at that time, that there was something under the narrative that was not so nice and cute and happy. It's been a long time since I have read those books, so I could be wrong. But that "flavor" has stuck with me. The movie version, I remember feeling, was very sugar coated. Way too clear cut on good and evil. The Baum books were not as clear on that point, and I know that Maguire tried to muddy those waters a lot more. I'm not sure he succeeded.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

A Note to my Neighbors (Whom I do not know)

Dear Neighbors,

I realize we've not introduced ourselves, but my name is Jocelyn and I live just across the street from you. I come to the bus stop every morning with my daughter. So, I guess we've known each other for a little while.

Back on Halloween when your daughter and son came trick or treating, I asked her where her older sister was, as I had not seen her at the bus stop in a while. She said she was in the hospital. I didn't ask any further, because I didn't want to pry, but then yesterday I overheard her grandmother talking to another neighbor about how your daughter was very ill and had been in the ICU, but was now doing better.

I just wanted to take the opportunity to say that I truly hope she is getting better, and that, thought I can't know exactly what you're going through, we have been through something similar ourselves and maybe I can understand a little of what you're feeling. Back when my son was 5 months old, he was hospitalized for a very serious condition. I can truly say I've never been so terrified in my entire life. I know the feeling of having the ground fall out from beneath your feet when you never thought it was possible for that to happen. I know what it's like to live in a hospital room with your child, scared to sleep in case you miss something that could save his life. I know the stress of wanting to/needing to stay with your ill child every minute but still wanting to/needing to leave and tend to your well child and your sanity. And I know the scared relief that you feel when that child starts to recover, but those raging doubts in your mind that something else could go wrong just won't leave you alone.

I know it's odd to share all of this with you. I've been beating myself up for a week just thinking about if I should approach you. I know we really don't know each other, even though we live in the same small neighborhood. I know that my family and I keep to ourselves. We are from a very different area, where neighbors don't know one another. It's something we are very used to, and old habits like that are very hard to break. But because of what you are going through, I thought I might reach out and say that I know you must have a lot of friends all around you and in the neighborhood, but if you can use one more, count us in. Please let us know if there's anything you need or anything we can do for you all. We will be glad to help.

Your neighbors.

The truth of the matter here is, that I will probably never send this letter. I am complete chicken s---t when it comes to dealing with people, and I can't stop myself from thinking that I either sound crazy, or too self-serving without meaning to. And we live near each other, so if they think I'm crazy or something, it's going to make for awkward times. It is so much easier not to have relationships at all, you know? It sucks, but it's easier. I need courage.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Autumn in New York

Or at least my little corner of it. In the spirit of things coming too fast, and in an attempt to maybe slow them down just a little, these are some pictures for you of what Autumn looks like here.

When my husband and I were looking at houses, we saw a ridiculous number of them (40+). It was insane. This house that we are in now was the best candidate. There are some things I really like about this house and some things I really do not like about this house, but it was the view that sold me on it, and I think it helped my husband make the decision too. See if you can see what I mean. This is our backyard....

Isn't it pretty? We think so too. The only thing that would make it better is if there were more trees on the actual property. Oh well. They are gorgeous to look at. I am very thankful for them.
In the spirit of the beauty outside and the fact that Thanksgiving is approaching and it's a time for beauty and bounty and thankfulness and togetherness, I like to decorate the house. This is what it looks like on the inside....

Well, I tried to bring the bounty inside anyway, but I think that view wins the award, hands down.

Thank you all for your comments! It's nice to know I have kindred spirits out there! Hope you are all having a great week!

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Here it comes!!

Is it just me, or does it seem like this time of year come faster every year? Does time speed up once we get to October? First it's Columbus Day, all of a sudden Halloween, and then--BAM! Thanksgiving?? Then of course, you know what comes next!! Yes, exactly, the holidays. Here they come, ready or not.

Friday night, my husband and I went out on a "date". It was a belated date for our 8th anniversary, which was in October, but being as though we have 2 kids and a crazy schedule, this was the first time we were able to get away. We couldn't really think of what to do for our night out, except go to the local Barnes and Noble and look at books and such, so we figured, why don't we start our holiday shopping?? We'd be so early. Kudos to us for being good parents and getting it done, we thought. We are ahead of the rush. However, it seems we are not so early. We went out to the nearest Toys R' Us, and guess what they were playing? Christmas music! They were ready for us. We did do our shopping anyway, and we did well (it's nice having little kids--their toys are relatively inexpensive as of yet, so you spend not so much and walk away with a whole bunch of stuff), but I couldn't help thinking that wasn't there a time when the Christmas music only started around Thanksgiving? And then my husband reminded me that there was one year that we went somewhere and it was October 17th and the music was already playing. So then when did Christmas start in October? What is going on?

Michael's has had it's Christmas stuff up for weeks. In fact, I went there on Monday, which was only the 29th of October, and the Halloween stuff was all clearanced in a little pile in the corner at 75% off. Yikes, folks. I can look in the Lowe's (which I won't do yet, but I could) and see the trees being displayed, and I was in a Home Depot early in October and took a stroll through their developing Christmas department with my kids. I saw Christmas commercials on TV last night. Are you kidding me?? Do we really need to a) buy that much stuff and b) rush through our lives just a bit more? Can we not enjoy the season? What happened to Thanksgiving?

I do love this time of year--I know I've said it before. The air is now getting nice and crisp up here, and the heat is on in the mornings to warm up the house. I know it's not long before it's on full time. The trees behind the house are putting on the most MAGNIFICENT show of colors that you can believe (I owe you all some pictures of this--I will post some in the next couple of days). The days are shortening, and it's just about time for fires in the fireplace. Can we not all enjoy this first, before the turn over to December? Once we get there, this will be over. Gone, done, not coming back for a year. Can we all just step back for a minute?

So has anyone got any tips? Do you know how to slow down time? Cause I sure don't. But if I could, I would, just for now. I just want to enjoy the fall before it's over. I can't be the only one, can I??