Monday, February 20, 2017

On the Edge of Transformation

This is one of my favorite moments in sewing: the place where one can take a deep breath before construction begins.

The pattern has been selected and altered.  The fabric has been purchased, washed, and ironed.  The layout recommended by the pattern company has been studied and possibly improved a little.  The box of pins has been accidentally dropped on the floor, sworn at, retrieved, and reloaded.  The contortions required to cut clean inside curves have been negotiated.

This stack of pieces begins to reveal the garment it will become.  After a cup of coffee, I'll cut the notches and thread-mark the dots, squares, and other landmarks.

And when the signs are auspicious, I'll start sewing.


Wednesday, February 1, 2017

When centuries collide

The passage of about 150 years means that the ratchet and pawl on one of my old looms are not always on speaking terms.  Thank goodness for Vise Grips (first patented in 1924.)

A good day is one on which the number of pairs of Vise Grips one owns is greater than or equal to the number of needs one has for them.

Today was a good day.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

I'm sure it made sense when I wrote it down

The blackboard in my work room has accumulated a fine collection of...things.  Some of these make sense now, and some surely made sense when I wrote them down.  The random fractions are particularly opaque to me now, but I'm afraid if I erase them I'll need them.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Snow Drifts into Everything

From the NOAA Winter Storm Warning posted this morning.

It even gets into our words.  (You just can't see it here because of the white background.)

The snow also does a good job of covering the lilac bushes in front of the house.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Self check-out - a solution in search of a problem

I loathe self check-out.  Loathe it.  There was a time when the big box home improvement stores tried to go fully self check-out, but I noticed recently they've backed off from that and have brought back a few human beings.

Today at the grocery story the clerk minding the self check-out terminals hooked me in before I could sneak past her to the express lane.   And you know, she had trouble with the process.  She couldn't get the frozen orange juice to scan (nobody can.)

From a user experience point of view, you have to be seriously wall-eyed to be able to keep track of what the register terminal wants as opposed to the payment terminal, which, unlike the example above, is easily two feet away.

Why do we think it's a good idea to abandon the social contract between the well-trained customer and the well-trained check-out clerk?  My responsibility is to bring bags that stand up by themselves and to put all the cans of orange juice together on the belt.  The clerk is responsible for memorizing all those mysterious produce codes and for balancing the weight evenly across my bags.

I want my check-out clerk, darn it!

Friday, December 30, 2016


While looking for something else this morning I came across an enormous stack of postcards I'd collected over the years.  I thought this one of Gromit was a cheerful offering for a winter morning.  I've always admired Aardman's attention to detail, from the bones on the wall paper to Gromit's carefully tensioned yarn.

I've gotten out of the habit of sending postcards.  If we don't send postcards to one another every once in a while, then the only thing posted to the refrigerator will be the grocery list, and where's the fun in that?

Postcards also make good bookmarks, particularly for very dull books.  Finding a years-old postcard when you pick up Henry Esmond (the Very Dull Book currently on my night stand) briefly takes your mind off the fact that you're still reading the darned thing.

While art print post cards are probably in the best taste, I think one ought to loosen up now and again and send a silly post card, particularly to somebody who's not expecting it.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016


In the process of going through some books to see if there were any candidates for Goodwill, I thumbed through my 1985 paperback edition of The Modern Researcher, wondering when I'd last opened it.  Out dropped this fern frond and some weed leaves.  The weed would have been new to me when I moved to Oregon,  and I remember thinking its leaves were quite beautiful (the effect is better when they're bright green and edged with dew drops,) so it appears that the last time I opened this  book was Spring, 1997.

Despite the demonstrable lack of use in my household, I'm hanging onto The Modern Researcher, for both its content and its leaf-pressing capabilities.