Saturday, October 11, 2008

Just in Time!

It's chilly! It's chilly! It's chilly and just in time I've made a few things to especially enjoy in this wonderfall weather. Now, I am not going to be specific, because I know our "chilly" temperatures are heat wave temps by comparison. Personally, I could not leave my bed without socks and a bathrobe. And before Geoff left to Hawaii, he insisted it was time to turn on the heater... honestly, that Man! I am going to have to report him to Al Gore. I suggested we try closing windows and wearing pajamas before we crank up the furnace, and he grinned sheepishly. I love it when he grins sheepishly.

Before I actually close windows, because I love the cool fresh air, I will start adding layers. An extra blanket, or quilt, for instance, can go a long way to keep the shivers at bay. And here is the quilt I whipped up this week. It's tied, because while I try to finish the Hawaiian Aloha quilt my fingers really need recovery time. And the pieces are chunky large and not very elaborate. The main thing was to make it ridiculously comfy, immediately gratifying and to feature this adorable folk art print that I am so in love with.

Back in June, I took complete advantage of a fabric sale at a certain favorite quilt shop, and that was when I bought all of this bumpy, silky, slinky Minky. The boys went all summer wondering when I was going to get around to making it in to something they could wrap up in. It just begs to be snuggled in. Sandwiched in between is an old blanket that was a favorite, but had seen better days. In its second life that thread bare blanket is making the whole quilt lofty, warm and softy.

Sigh. It's just so Me. Colors and images and sentiments that make me swoony and glad.

This next Fall project was completely spontaneous and pink. Maria was with me in a craft shop looking for a frame, and she had to have pink yarn. Believe me, I resist 99% of the time that anyone "has to have anything," but she was hugging this skien of yarn and loving it and insisting I could "quilt something beautiful with it..." Maria calls everything I make "quilting," and I think it is wonderful that she notices and appreciates handmade things. So the very pink, cotton yarn came home with us.

On and off throughout my day, I fashioned a hat out of it. I am not trying to be modest or coy... I do not know how to follow crochet patterns and I do not know a single crochet from a clove hitch, but I do have pretty good luck just faking it, until it looks like something. And this time it looks like a hat. No, I didn't use a pattern. I got so pleased with myself when it was done, I tried to make a blue one and nothing zippo, zoinks... I could not do it again!

So, I tried a scarf this time, and that came out pretty good. Reminds me of the time a blue bunny appeared from the yarn I was playing with... just in time to be Maria's first handmade gift.

Friday, October 10, 2008

I had a Really Good History Teacher

These economic nightmare posts are not happy, I know. And while I never tried to make this a blog exclusively dedicated to all things happy, I do try to move forward with as much gratitude and light as possible. I have also tried to be a realist, at least so far as telling our story. So, while I could post about the quilt I just finished, or the pink hat I crocheted for Maria, I cannot help but acknowledge this historic moment in American and World history. This is unprecedented. It is the end of an era. It is personally, and historically fascinating. We are not likely to forget this week.

Thank you Mr. Watson. He was my high school history teacher, and I credit him with inspiring me to quilt, fall in love with Wisconsin and homesteading, and making the Great Depression a real and valuable lesson in economic responsibility. And every time my landlord or realtors or neighbors gave me funny looks or flat out told me I was naive when I talked about the housing bubble and our nation's financial collision course, I thought about my history class, about the parallels between then and now... If we do not learn from history we are doomed to repeat it. Man, I loved that class.

Oh, I guess it might not seem fitting to have Betty's picture next to Mr. Watson's name. She's there to look pretty and remind me that life is beautiful. Good Betty. Look Pretty. Life is beautiful.

Maybe I should show the new quilt. I made it to be purely, luxuriously comfy-snug. It's flannel on top, and slinky soft Minky on the bottom, with fluff sandwiched in between. Tonight the children and I will share it and a funny movie, maybe You Can't Take It With You or It's a Wonderful Life, and we'll take heart in the good things.... like movies at home, warm quilts made with love, backyard chickens, and all the fixings to bake a pumpkin pie.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Artists in Residence

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All rights reserved. Please do not use our original photos, or drawings, or reprint our writing without asking me for permission. Thank you!

For quite some time I have been meaning to add a copyright to Chickenblog, maybe even a watermark on my photographs. However good or mediocre my own work may be, it is my work and it would be infuriating to see it somewhere else, under someone else's name. And since today I am showing my children's work, I feel particularly protective.

Geoff replaced our sad, tired, broken printer, and he taught me how to use the new scanner. Taught, is a big word for what amounted to a small lesson... now I know how to push the button that says "scan." It's so easy! Grin.

Now I can share my children's art quickly, simply. I think when world events, the economy and housing woes bring me down, I will still be able to find something beautiful to share, thanks to the many talents in this home. Today's featured artists are Alex (14) and Maria (3.)





Wednesday, October 08, 2008

The Pumpkin Patch... My Happy Contribution to Our Economic Recovery

A little spending, a lot of playing. On Sunday we met cousins Nick and Izzy and Aunt Holly out in the country. Thank goodness for pony rides and petting zoos, for shady spots and hot brats... no, not overheated, cranky children. The other brat... the pumped-up, spiced sausage. I absolutely loved seeing the tiniest goats ever and watching Maria feed piglets. And seeing Max completely absorbed in hanging out with chickens and goats and sheep, piglets, ducks and geese was very dear. Alex, William, Nick and Max spent time on their own, exploring and adventuring at the craft booths. Izzy, Maria, Holly and I did the same. These are a few highlights...

I know it's not right, but I'm thinking Thanksgiving right about now.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Flights of Fancy

These are hard times. And even though I have anticipated this general collapse, I can still honestly say, that many of the details and reactions are astonishing. I mean, seriously, a bail out? A rescue? Our government has concluded that trillions of dollars of bad debt and corrupt practices can only be salvaged by begging voting for more debt. It's sad enough that we have lost the respect of the international community, in so many other regards, but just to add insult to injury they essentially own us... our solution is to rob Peter to pay Paul. Pathetic.

I'm sorry. I can't help myself. I get all worked up about this stuff. Do we really want to examine the parts of the bailout that are mind numbingly stupid? Stupidity like the rum clause... a little rebate to U.S. Caribbean territories, estimated to be worth $192 million over 10 years. And then there is the news story of the 90 year old woman and her foreclosure woes. Her tale is a sad one, and so are many others, but what is the message the government and media are communicating to us? Gee, sorry you shot yourself, but HEY! No sweat. For taking two bullets to your upper torso, we'll forgive your mortgage, courtesy of your fellow Americans. It's a risky proposition, but one wonders what a broken toe or black eye might get you. I am not lacking in sympathy for the suffering of some individuals, but the sweet grannies are a small minority in this debacle and until I see Angelo Mozilo in jail, feeding homeless people or contributing to the bailout then I feel no qualms balking about our government's unwavering idiocy. Sometimes I imagine that the whole mess is super-super hard to understand and then I am reminded that no, in fact the whole mess is so easy to understand it can be summed up in a comedy skit. (Oct. 8 update: Why was skit removed from Hulu?)

I was going to move on. Change the subject. But something has come up and I cannot exclude this passage from this post. Countrywide Mortgage is getting bailed out. Geoff just told me, and he didn't have to explain what this means for our family. We have been patiently and hopefully waiting on a short sale of a property held by Countrywide. We have saved and waited for 5 years to buy a home with a reasonable mortgage and on ethical lending terms. We have endured ridicule and shame, we have been diligent. My 3 boys slept in the effing kitchen/dining room so we could bide our time and do things the "right way." Free market and capitalism were good enough for the mortgage companies then, but now they want their sorry @sses bailed out, because God forbid the free market dictate that houses be worth less than what they dreamed up. Our hopes and plans are officially wiped out. Countrywide will withdraw the house we wanted to buy, and instead we will continue to pay for that house and millions of others, that we don't get to live in, through taxes and losses that will burden generations.****

What are we supposed to do? Please. I thought I understood some things, but I see I was profoundly wrong. I could lash out in angry protest. I could really make an awful display of my rage. Isn't it too bad I am still a good citizen? I cannot even mention what I wish I could do...

What should I tell the children? Oh, God. I actually told them, last April, *Mommy's pretty sure we'll be in our own house by Thanksgiving.* It seemed so close to possible. It seemed so possible to believe and hope. Is there a support group for this sort of thing? When everyone was on the spending spree and shaking their heads at us, we had no one's sympathy, and now we are still out of the loop... everyone assumes we are smugly sitting pretty, instead we are getting screwed. No relief. No bail out. No rescue. No sympathy. No home.

I had all kinds of pumpkin patch pictures and lovely sentiments about the pleasures of taking flights of fancy, of me making up stories about flighty witches in the quilt shop I love. I was on a fool's mission, and I thought it was sufficient to amuse and distract me, but no more.

****Sometimes in the interest of being discreet I am not so much subtle as I am obtuse.

Allow me to clarify.
1. We made an offer on a home
2. The home is was about to be foreclosed
3. The owners borrowed from Countrywide, and they continued to add home equity loans to the tune of many hundreds of thousands of dollars above their mortgage
4. Our offer was to be a short sale... something satisfactory to the lender... unless
5. Unless the government stepped in and agreed to bail-out the lender from their reckless lending
6. Foreclosures are sad when it's old ladies or hardworking families with honest tales of woe, but around here there are are far more flippers, Humvee owners, I need my Botox now kind of scenarios that do not remotely evoke sympathy.
7. We have been bumped from at least 4 different home sales due to highly questionable tactics... this time I blame Jerry Brown.