Saturday, December 21, 2013

Are we there yet?

G'day all!

Moving house for us is like one of those interminable trips you did as a kid.

Are we there yet?


Are we there yet?


Are we there yet?


Are we there yet?


Argh all right already, I want this thing over and done with!  We haven't even moved most of the furniture or the boxes.  We have no idea where everything will go and we've farmed out a heap of stuff to a lovely friend.  This is the problem with moving from a place with three large closets to a place with one large closet and a coat cupboard.  We have lots of shelving too.

I think moving brings out the worst in people.  It certainly does in me.  I lose all patience with DH and get snappy, then apologetic, but honestly sometimes he just seems to lose all mental capacity, probably because he is stressed too.

Google likes to snowify some scenes.
Don't we have pretty houses to look at?

We have a habit of buying a small place and stuffing it full of Stuff.  One day I will learn!  In the meantime, I have to reduce my stashes of everything.  It doesn't mean no more buying of things, it just means not rabidly buying something because I can.  Plus this will mean more money for paying off mortgage or paying for improvements.

Sparkly trees!  Googled again.

I think we have both realised we are crazy, completely crazy to try this.  But well here we are and my attitude is to make the best of it and see what we can do.

At the start of the week our realtor put us in contact with a structural engineer.  He and DH chatted and he thought DH's plans were realistic and spot on.

LOL - google snowified the diggers.
This makes me laugh.  Really.

The structural engineer recommended an architect, so DH had a chat with him by email and face to face and the architect is excited about it too, so this week has been quite entertaining in some ways. 

So festive!  But no snowifying or sparkles!

We have had all sorts of weather (except warm, LOL), topped off by SNOW on Friday morning.  It was snowing at 6am when I crawled out of bed to see if it was snowing - not much else except my bladder will get me out of bed then!  I was so excited I couldn't go back to sleep for a while and when I did, I dreamt that one of DH's good friends skied over to visit us on cross country skis of course!  (The small fact that he is in Oz wasn't a problem... that is dream logic!)

Palm leaves in the snow? 
Or the negatives of Shadow ships?

And then there is Christmas stress.  We have invited people to Christmas but we have no idea who is actually coming.  Some are on call again.  Since I'm not so keen on turkey, I will stick with my family's traditional Christmas roast - a big lump of pork.  The heritage pork from Ballard Market (it turns out to be Nieman Ranch pork) is especially yummy and is worth the extra $$ but it comes to them skinless.  This is particularly sad as a good bit of crackling is necessary on the roast.  The butcher said he has frozen pork flank out the back (normally used for bacon) and I could use that or I can get the cheaper pork that comes with the rind on it.  I have a special treat planned for dessert too - no Christmas pud this year!  I could just make it me and DH but that is boring.  We see each other lots and Christmas is a time to get together with family and we don't have family here so we have to make family (not that way!!!), family of choice aka friends.

Before the snow

Today I dropped some stuff off at the op shop - I am letting go of things that I have no real use for, clothes I've hardly worn and am unlikely to wear much, clothes that I bought that turn out to aggravate my lymphedema (gods I hate that - spending money on something and if I wear it for more than half a day, my arm puffs up...).  I drove across to Seattle Children's (hospital) and dropped off some quilts that I specifically made for charity.  I like making quilts and I have plenty of fabric to make them with but I can't use that many of them.  The lady there said I should sell quilts.  I haven't so far because a) how do you price them? and b) I have to do everything above board.  Our apartment had a rule in the lease that I couldn't run a business out of the place but now we have a house.  I'm on a visa, I do have a work permit but I can't fly under the radar and not do this properly as the stakes are too high.  Getting kicked out of the country would be disastrous.  Also I'm too honest and tend to open my big claptrap when I get nervous.

Sheets of ice sound like
glass when rattled

Maybe in the New Year, which is a new tax year in the States, I shall go get a business licence and start making things to sell again.  I went to some EtsyRain seminars a couple of months ago and have a much better idea of how to do it all now.

I have to say people are crazy on the roads at the moment.  The Christmas shopping frenzy is well underway and I don't know what people are smoking or drinking but....  The number of cars doing 25mph on a clear, dry, above freezing day was stunning.  In a 20 or 25 zone, fine, but in a 35 zone?  The number of cars doing whack things, like the lady who waited for the traffic coming from her right to clear and then pulled out right in front of me - I was coming from her left.  She had looked my way, my car's lights were on (hard wired) and she just vroomed out.  Nearly gave me a heart attack and the great Christmas present of a broken car... but I braked hard and car's ABS took care of the rest.   I may have used the horn on her too.  My car is little and meeps rather meekly.  I fumed at her and she gaped at me and mouthed stuff that may have been "oh terribly sorry!" Or may not have been...

Lights now with extra sparkle!

And it is Solstice.  I haven't seen sunset since the start of the week, nor really sunrise for that matter, but tomorrow the days start getting longer again. 

About as far south as the Sun goes.

And I just. Cannot.  Wait.  OK, tomorrow will only be three seconds longer but by the end of the month we will have gained a whole three and a half minutes in day length!  LOL.  

Colour starts blooming.

More importantly, sunset will be around 4:30 instead of 4:18 (sunrise moves close to 8am before starting to pull back again) and by the end of January is after 5pm again.  Sunset before 5pm is just too early.

And intensifies

It was a bit of a cracker of a sunset, possibly made better by me not having seen a good sunset for quite a while.  We had a string of freeing cold clear days early in the month but I was just so busy I couldn't get up to Sunset Hill for them.   Hopefully once we are all moved in properly things will settle down and I'll be able to get up there more often (if the weather cooperates, which is unlikely!).

Reaches a maximum and then starts fading.


Saturday, December 14, 2013

First night

G'day all!

We are all set for our first night sleeping in our house.  It has only taken two weeks to get enough of the painting, etc, done.  We don't have a proper bed here but we do have a number of foam mattresses and linen and stuff.

It is much comfier than it looks!

There's a reason for that stuff taking so long - I've done most of it on my lonesome, including 3.5 of the four coats of paint needed to get the study to a reasonable consistency of colour.

I should blog all of this on the old house blog!  It really is house stuff.  I might well do that when I remember to.  This will be a modest manor II (II sounds much more formal and swanky than two does.  Dunno why).

What else has been happening?

Scrappy, quickly basted binding!

I managed to get two quilt tops sewn up, basted, quilted and bound into the one quilt in about three weeks.  I'm pretty pleased with how it came out.  It is the biggest quilt I've made so far, bigger than my favourite quilt, the blue sashed wonky block (not exactly featured on the bed in the pic above).  I managed to quilt it all on my big box store Singer.  It took quite a bit of wrangling but the extension table and the quilter's gloves helped a lot.

It is a binary quilt for the Seattle Modern Quilt Guild's Binary Challenge (two different links).  I started off thinking I'd just make it grey and green but well it didn't sing to me.  A number of people that I showed it to thought it was great however - they have a different aesthetic to me.  (Then again, I have a sunflower yellow going into orange study, a bedroom that goes from aquamarine to deep blue and a lounge room that is becoming lime, so it really does come down to different strokes for different folks.)

That would be the wrong side but it
gives you the idea!

The grey really wasn't cutting it for me so I made a second top with white and a much brighter lime green, cos that is what you do when you get a bit obsessive about something.  I never ever get obsessive about anything.  You guys know that, right?  LOL

I was so much happier with the white/lime side.  I even used white on white prints in the white blocks and two different shades of plain white fabric.  The block design is a bit different from the back as well.  The colour blocks float in their negative space rather than being sashed, and they are only four strips wide, not five, which means they are asymmetric in the way I've pieced the blocks together.

Sing my pretty!

Mmm, this one sings to me.  The colours are so much better for me.

Wonky all over.  Not one line is straight.  This does
not bother me - if all the lines bar one were straight
this would bother me much more.

Hopefully it will be part of the exhibit at Island Quilter in January.  I'm going on a road trip to Vashon Island - want to join me?  We have to take the ferry to get there and you know what I'm like on a ferry... :-D

What else has been happening?

It was cold.

Really cold.

Really really really cold.

Really really really cold for almost a week.  Like below freezing cold.

OMG, I can see sky from our new house!  SKY!
It was cold and clear.

A week ago it was -6C when we walked home from a meal after a day of committing mayhem on the old garage roof.  I don't care what anyone up in the Great White North (aka northern Canada) tells me, -6C is blasted cold and whilst it was novel, it did terrible things to my lungs, my skin and my throat.  I couldn't keep my face covered if I wanted to see (my glasses fog up) and I just could not keep my hands warm outside, not even in really well insulated gloves and mittens.

Wonder if the reindeer liked it?

Remember, my American readers, I'm effectively a Californian.  Not a Flahridan cos I don't come from a humid climate, just a warm, dry one.

But we did have sunny days for about half of that time, so that was very very welcome.  Normally December in Seattle brings lots of gloom and a few big storms, so the unusual, once in ten years or so cold was different.

She is a real reindeer.  She's at the local plant nursery.

I'm not sure if I prefer the return to gloom and relative warmth (hahahahaha, never thought I'd say somewhere between 7 and 10C is warm but compared to minus something, it is!  I've had to abandon my insulated jacket several times today!) or if below freezing and sunny is good.

Before the cloud set in again...

My voice is wonky again - between the cold, lifting things and exposure to paint fumes, it has gone a bit sad.   This is annoying because I was doing better.  However I seem to be able to walk uphill ok still, so I'm taking it as a temporary set back.

I would love to go to this, even with
my wonky voice.  Should see if
tickets are still available.

I am occasionally finding time to knit.  See that little lump in the top right corner?  That is the start of the second sock, the tip of the toe, as it looked on Monday night.  I'm doing the heel gusset now, so it is on target to be DH's Christmas present.  I think I've got a couple of other bits stashed away for him two, better find them.

Mmmm, Malabrigo sock.  Bag by Jessalu.

My phone stopped uploading to the cloud when DH deleted all the pics in the rubbish bin on it after I couldn't figure out why all the storage (14 gig!) was gone.  It turns out that I had taken over 10 gig of pictures over the years!  On the phone!   I never even knew it had a rubbish bin let alone that I had to empty it - I forgot that delete does not mean delete on it (I run a program on my computer that deletes forever without needing to empty the bin).  I haven't found the toggle to make it upload automatically - syncing is on, my account is linked, I've looked at my settings on the phone and online for syncing.  It just doesn't sync any more.  This is very sad.  At least it boots up quickly now and doesn't crash as often :-)

Nifty clouds

I had a weird moment recently when a friend of mine looked up what another person we used to know is doing these days.  That person just so happens to be my first boyfriend.  I brutalised him horribly, stupidly, and wish I hadn't.  I still feel guilty more than half a lifetime later.  I haven't seen him for quite a number of years but when I looked at him, I saw pretty much the same person I last saw.  He's still got the same manic grin.  My other friends though didn't see him at all at first - they just saw some middle aged dude.  (Middle aged, gah, how did that happen?)  Their memories are of him as a youngish uni age guy, I last saw him when he was finishing his PhD/doing post grad.  I didn't contact him, I don't think he wants me to contact him.

Moon and Venus.

I also realised that I have some traits that scream littlest sister.  I had not really realised it before.  I am the baby, five years younger than my next up sister, and somewhat younger than the oldest two.  Goodness I must be annoying on occasion.  I don't play well with others, I'm fiercely independent in many ways, I hate asking for help...  I'm blaming that on being the youngest because I either got smothered with help because I was the baby or I got picked on for not being as good as my siblings when I was sooooo far behind them developmentally (usually by my elders).  It trained me into not wanting others to help, not wanting them to butt into what I was doing in my own happy little world, wanting to show that I was good enough even though I was younger.  I got really good at copying things and extending them further (I still tend to do that now - I grab someone else's idea and run with it).  Plus I was (am) a klutz and short-sighted to boot.

Anyway, enough rambling.  I have another busy day of painting and packing ahead of me.


Saturday, November 30, 2013


G'day all!

I may be a bit excited.

We have keys!

Keys!  About to be changed keys!

We went up to our "new" house this evening and looked at what we want to do before moving in.  Painting is the main thing.

But what colours?  DH is really keen on BLACK for the living area! 

Lovely leaves and stone.
Nothing to do with our "new" house.

His proposal has been vetoed.  I have this power.  I want something light and bright because the room is pretty dull - we have a massive Douglas fir in the front yard but it is on the north side so whilst it dulls down the light, it doesn't actually shade the house.  The room is currently brown.

The bedroom will be a range of blues because we will keep our fish wall.  I am not keen on stapling felt to the lathe and plaster wall, however.  Am wondering if we will just use dots of sticky stuff.

Little Lady Liberty at Alki Beach

The study?  Dunno.  I am still keen on light/yellowy greens and yellow.  The bathroom is currently beige and I'm not really keen on that but do we want to change it yet?  What colour should it be instead?  A warm blue (there are such things)?  Buttery yellow (a warm yellow)?  The laundry is a non-colour and the kitchen what Australians would call lemon yellow - a light yellow, slightly acidic, but I think Americans call it butter.

I will share pics when I have decent ones - at the moment I just have a few quick snaps from outside on the phone, nothing inside.

Trees with invisible in this shot fairy lights.

Apart from that, what has happened recently?

I have an insane desire for
a dyed, holographic glitter poinsettia.

We had a lovely Thanksgiving, with many thanks to R&M.  There were two groups of people there - ones not from work and ones from work (plus hangers on like me).  It's nice to have family by blood and family by choice.  I'm still pretty pleased with myself for getting another (not my) work friend invited when it became clear to me that he was feeling a bit left out.  We had lots of food cos we all brought something - I made a GF/vegan rice "stuffing", a root (plus fennel) vegetable puree and a GF/vegan apple pie with crumble topping.

May I say that the apple pie rocked?  The others were ok, though the mash/puree was a little startling because I used unsweetened hemp milk (y'know the most vegan of vegan non-dairy milks) which turns out to have vanilla in it!  So it didn't really taste the way I expected it to...  LOL  I have roasted pie pumpkin to make a pumpkin pie out of too - I might see if I can squeeze that in tomorrow.

Almost sunset.

I also really need to get a new phone.  My poor old phone is starting to have issues with booting up - it randomly crashes (always has) and I pull the battery out of it to shut it down, replace the battery and restart it.  I've had it go through the start up cycle five times before booting the OS several times recently.  I'm likely to get a fablet - a Samsung Note 3 even if Samsung are becoming ebil and also put heaps of bloatware on the things.  Nexuses may have the cleanest OS in the Android world but they also have the most pathetic cameras and I'm not buying a phone with a crap camera because I use the camera all the time!  So that is another financial hit.  I think I'll go see T-mobile cos they have the best overseas options and I hope one day to travel again!  Ta-ta ATT!

Still almost sunset.  Alas I didn't get to see sunset
from here - someone else had a gut ache....

The weather forecast is looking frightfully exciting for the coming week.  Rain tomorrow then a cold front pushes through bringing arctic air in its wake.  It will be certainly less than fridge temp and probably below freezing for most of the week.  There is the chance of snow!  We didn't get snow all last winter, not in the lowlands of Ballard though Phinney Ridge at 300 feet did!  Of course this has to be the week we get our place!  Doh!  Just as well we have a dehumidifier and it has heating so that we can dry out the wet paint... once we paint...

We have seen the sun in living memory.

Hmm, not much else happening here.  I've been happily re-reading some of my stories.  They entertain me but nobody else - I'm not letting anyone else read my dross!

Small machine, big quilt.  Gloves are essential!
I've been thinking about buying a new sewing machine, one that is better for quilting on.  Alas the good specials come at the same time as we are at our poorest, and after reading things about how evil finance plans are for your credit score, I guess I'd best not get one.  Shame, because I'm having problems wrangling my current large quilt through the harp of the current machine.... but the machine still works (crosses fingers).

Binary quilt detail

The current quilt is pretty cool, eh?  It is for the binary challenge that the local modern quilt guild is holding.

Wider shot of quilt top before basting and quilting.

Oh, I went back to the otolaryngologist a couple of Fridays ago.  He looked at my vocal cords again and said he doesn't want to see me again, but give him a call before Christmas.  My right vocal cord is starting to work again - not consistently but on and off and is actually making its way across to the midpoint particularly when I say more than a word or two.  I still get breathless but nowhere near as badly as I was and I can almost keep up with DH when he walks places now, as long as the hill isn't too steep...  Then again I used to puff when walking up steep hills anyway!


Saturday, November 16, 2013

Getting there, ever getting there

G'day all!

Do you ever wonder if you'll ever get there?  Or where "there" is for that matter?  I'm told "there" is wherever you want it to be, but some days I'm not sure what I want it to be.  There are so many options!

Thank you for the birthday wishes.  I had quite a pleasant day :-)  I met up with a fellow Aussie and we wandered around the market room of a local knitting conference.   We had a good natter.  I may have bought some yarn there.

I started knitting some of it immediately but the idea didn't work out so I have two balls of yarn again.  Knitting is good like that - if it isn't working out, you can pull it out and start over or just leave it to marinate in stash for a while.

Unsuccessful knitting

I thought it might work but nope.

That evening we went out for dinner with some friends, then home for cake.  I found a completely gluten-free and vegan bakery/cafe (not that the vegan part is important for me but the dairy-free part of vegan is!) and bought a double chocolate un-cheesecake.  It was very yummy but I think that eating both a goodly slice of it and half a slice of the pumpkin pie one was a little more than I should've had... also, caffeine in the evening is a bad idea for me so I may have sat up for a while jittering away.  Whoops!

I knitted some socks for me for my birthday.
They deserve more than a pic in passing but
this is all they get for the nonce.

Presents?  What did I get for my birthday?  Well I got taken out to dinner, twice - the following evening we had dinner with a couple of other friends.  (I hope we didn't tip them well - my meal was burnt on the bottom, which meant I couldn't eat a good half of it.  I've heard of caramelised vegies and even partaken of them but when they are black they are pretty horrid.  And no, they didn't take it off the bill and basically ignored my ugh, half of it is burnt.)  MiL and FiL gave me some Australian wildflower-themed fabric.   I got a card or two (PiLs and the chiro!), plus one from a friend with a gift card to Lowe's.   I bought me some nice yarn.  Just as well that I don't expect a lot for birthdays now....

My pink sleeveless cardie thing is awaiting
the buttons but I've already worn it :-)

Oh, the other thing that DH claims he got me for my birthday is that we have been in negotiations for a house.  The sellers agreed to our requests on my birthday!  We are still awaiting the outcome of financing but it seems very likely to go ahead.  If it all goes to plan in just over two weeks (yikes!) we will be in possession of a tiny little house just up the road from where we currently live.


He says it is a birthday house, I say it is just odd timing for it to happen on my birthday.

Fall leaves are almost done.  Shipping canal, Fremont.

Anyway, it is all exciting and we are planning things and trying to work out how much cash we will have left after the deposit and the various things we have to pay for to finance the loan (closing costs are going to be close to $10K!).

We made the usual contingencies on our offer - subject to inspection/sewer scope, finance, that sort of stuff.  The inspection didn't show up a single surprise I don't think - for a house built in 1943 it is in good shape - but there are things that will have to be attended to sooner or later.  The sewer scope - well that was a different matter! (Ahem!)

So many leaves from the liquidambars/sweet gums.

For the sewer scope they stick a little video camera on a hose down into the sewer.  And we did find "material" there - there's what they called a belly in the pipe, which means "material" can gather there and may eventually form a soft plug, depending on what one's habits are...  We were given a DVD of the inspection along with a written report.  The jokers even give you a bag of microwave popcorn for your movie night when you sit down to view the vid.

Still obsessed by leaves...

Can I just say that DH deciding to watch the video just before dinner was instructive but not exactly enjoyable?  Indeed there may have been squeals of "ooh yuck, I can't watch this at the moment, I'm about to serve tea?"  "See those brown l-"  "Dude, you don't need to tell me what those are, I can guess!"  "Hey, look, toilet paper!"  "ARGH!  I want to eat my dinner, not feel sick!"

But can you blame me with leaves like this?

I now know more about an older lady's "habits" than I wish to know... and so do you if you have an active imagination!

So what else has happened recently?  Umm, we went to an art show (really a chance for artists to show off their works and sell some) and DH really liked some of the things by a photographer whose work I like, so that was good.  I felt a little validated.  I have no idea why I like to have my interests validated but I do.

The sun is almost all the way south again - you can barely see the Olympics in right of shot!

I've still been taking heaps of pics of autumn leaves on my phone - you would think I'd lug around the good camera a bit more but nope, just been snapping away on the poor old phone.  It's pink spot is becoming more and more obvious, probably because I'm having to photograph under poor lighting conditions.  However, the pink spot does not account for the redness of the leaf below....

The yellow leaves didn't want to touch the red one.

I've got heaps of work to get done in the next week or so.  It is going slower than I hoped cos I may have left the hard stuff until last.  Ahem.  But it is getting there.

A brave nasturtium still flowering in the gloom.

I trundled down to a craft/quilting show in Puyallup yesterday.  It was sorta interesting.  I learned a couple of things, like how to stop thread from twisting up on itself and knotting when you are hand sewing (use thread conditioner - used to be beeswax but it can stain).  I remembered how predatory the sewing machine salespeople are.  They are always trying to upsell me to an $8,000 (plus tax!) sewing machine that can do everything bar wash the dishes in the kitchen sink and put away the washing....  I just want a machine that I can use for quilting and for the odd bit of dress making.  My current sewing machine is acceptable but slow, heavy and tends to be noisy/thunky, especially when set up on a plastic trestle table as we found out today!

My bulls eye square plus its backing

However, it does do the job.  Vis, the above!  I went to a quilt-in and did a workshop with one Amy Dame, and it was excellent and now I am not so skeered of curves (though I can see a little puckery action in the pale fabric! It is much lighter weight than the other fabric).  Anyway, it will end up being a cushion when I've quilted the bullseye side - the backing is already quilted (this is when we found out how bouncy the table can be!) and has a zipper installed.

Look, a zipper hidden inside!
But before I can finish this little project, I have to get a lot more done on my binary challenge quilt.  The idea of the challenge is that we choose two colours and use them in a modern quilt.  We can use different shades/tones of the colours (so if you are using blue you can go from light to dark blue but you can't go from yellow to orange) and we can use fabrics with more than just that colour in them if the colour reads as one of the chosen colours.  So I finally worked out what I wanted to do and gathered my materials and have started work.  I'll show it off when it's a bit further along the track than a handful of blocks and a pile of cut up fabric.

Anyway, things are going to be pretty hectic over the next while, what with the house and a big deadline for my work and a quilty deadline.  I live in exciting times!