Friday, September 29, 2006

The Fall Line-Up

I am awfully excited.

I wanted to post a picture of the piles of fabric and stacks of patterns that will hopefully take up a fair amount of my free time this fall as well, but then I realized that the final destination for many of those items is under some Christmas tree or another, so I'd better not post them for all to see.

The books, if you can't see them clearly in the photo, are: That Distant Land by Wendell Berry; John Adams by David McCullough; Remembering by Wendell Berry; The Brothers K by David James Duncan; Emma by Jane Austen; The Beekeeper's Apprentice by Laurie R. King; and The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown. I am reading The Beekeeper's Apprentice right now and am really enjoying it. I don't often - ok, ever - read mysteries. This is the first time in a long time that I have felt my heart rate quicken and my shoulders tense from reading a book. Of course most good books have surprises and unexpected twists and turns, but not page after page after page. I rather like it. It is a pleasant detour from my usual choice of rather mellow literature. I do understand, however, why sleep experts make mysteries an exception in their advice to read for a while before going to bed. The imagery did not keep me awake, as it does after watching a suspenseful movie (depending on the imagery, a tense movie can terrorize me for months), but I was far too invigorated to fall asleep quickly. I felt as though I had just returned from a long run - tired, but alert. The first Berry book mentioned above is a book of short stories, so I think I'll start reading one of those before bed and will leave the suspenseful reading for earlier hours.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Why I Hate Having To Choose A Party

Washington's primary elections were yesterday. I have a confession to make. I don't like voting. I always vote because I believe it is my responsibility to do so. Voting is a privilege that I do not take lightly. But I don't enjoy it. I mean, I wouldn't call voting a rip-roaring good time. It can be tedious, it can be frustrating, and it can take a fair amount of work if you are going to take it seriously and actually learn about the candidates and the issues that are on the ballot. But that wasn't really the intended point of this post.

What I meant to say is that Washington now requires voters to choose a political party (in the primaries) and to vote only for candidates who represent that party. If you deviate from this rule and vote for, say, a Republican Senate candidate and a Democratic House candidate, your entire partisan ballot will be disregarded. I think this is stupid. I usually vote for Republicans on moral grounds, but I want to have the option of voting for whomever I please. And the thing that really bugged me this time around was that there were several positions on the ballot for which no Republicans were running. If I wanted to vote for a Republican senator, which I did, then I had to forfeit the right to vote for several smaller offices. What kind of a democracy is that?

Well, anyway, I'm no political genius, but I think that mandatory partisan voting is stupid.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

My New Best Friend

Last year I borrowed some Christmas clothes for my daughter from a friend whose daughter is one year older than mine. They were really nice little outfits, lots of red velvet and lace and such. Well, this friend just had another baby girl a couple of days ago, so I thought it was about time I returned her clothes to her. The clothes had been sitting in the laundry room for months, so I washed them. I followed all of the instructions. Most of the fabrics are red, but there is one particular dress, the fanciest of them all, that has a red velvet bodice, and then a white satin skirt with an embroidered chiffon overlay. It is really beautiful. Elise wore it to her Aunt Bethany's wedding last fall. I followed all of the instructions when washing this dress. I washed it separately - an entire wash load dedicated to this one little dress! - in cold water. Yeah. It still ran. I pulled it out of the washer and saw, to my great dismay, a light red streak right down the middle of the white skirt. Now, I am not a big laundry person. I launder "dry clean only" garments at home. I put sweaters and unmentionables in the dryer. So my first instinct was to run out and buy my friend a gift certificate to the store where she originally bought the dress. But then I decided to see if I could possibly fix my mistake. I looked up solutions in all of my housekeeping books. Nothing. Or at least, nothing I could use. One book listed three chemicals that I could buy from janitorial supply stores, but they all came with rather dire warnings. I tried to find helpful hints online. I found out how to prevent fabric from bleeding, and that was it. The Clorox website had nothing. It was depressing.

And then, all of a sudden, my eyes rested upon my new best friend. The Tide On the Go Stain Removal pen. I keep it on my kitchen counter and have used it on fresh food stains (which abound when you a) have a kid and b) are somewhat clumsy with food, as I am), but I certainly didn't think it was up to the task of reversing a fabric color bleed. Nevertheless, I had nothing to lose, so I gave it a shot. Worked like a charm. It was remarkable. A little bit of dabbing, a little bit of rubbing, and the skirt was as good as new. Had the people who developed the pen been standing in my kitchen, I would have kissed them.

It was a great moment.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

What I've Been Doing

I have had a lovely few weeks here. We had the great pleasure of visiting with our dear friend and my former roommate over the past week. She was not so much a houseguest as a temporary family member. Houseguests don't wash your dishes or care for your child while you take a shower. Nor, I might add, do they comfortably cream you in card games.

While she was here, we took the opportunity to play tourist in our own area. We went island hopping in the San Juans, spending several hours each on Orcas and San Juan Island. It was so beautiful. We really do live in one of the most beautiful places on earth, I'm sure of it. One of the best parts of our day in the islands was that my parents-in-law (who happen to live in the town that houses the ferries that service the islands) babysat all day. No strollers!

So we had a grand time. To our great delight, our friend will likely be moving back to this area in the very near future. (So for those of you who know her and didn't get to see her, she'll be back shortly.) In the meantime, I have been assigned a few books to read and a few videos to watch, and I am looking forward to them all.

In other news, I am becoming rather frustrated by a lack of volunteers. I coordinate the volunteer nursery workers at my church. This is a job that I typically enjoy as it affords me the opportunity to get to know many wonderful people, including kind volunteers, parents of young children, and of course, my personal favorite, young children themselves. Lately, though, it has been like pulling teeth to get anyone to commit to working with the kids. I'm quite concerned about the upcoming Wednesday night program. It begins next Wednesday and there are no nursery workers! And I can't do it because I work with the older kids on Wednesday nights; otherwise I would just do it myself. Sigh. I have heard that George Muller, the great founder of many of world's Christian orphanages in the 19th century, never once asked anyone for money to fund his charities. In fact, I believe he never even made anyone aware of his monetary needs. He simply prayed, and the needs were met every single time. What faith! Sometimes I think I should do that. Not ask for volunteers, not make an announcement at church that we are short-staffed; just pray.

A few weeks ago, I received a message from my friend Janene that stated she had taught herself to knit. This was very inspiring to me. We have another friend who is quite an expert knitter (in my opinion), and she makes the loveliest scarves and socks and sweaters and hats, as you can see if you go to her site. Well, Janene and I have long admired her work, and Janene has crocheted for many years, so she took the plunge and picked up some knitting needles and just taught herself to knit. I admire people who are not afraid to learn. So I took my cue from Janene and went to the library in search of some good "how-to" crochet books. (I said I was inspired by the knitting; that doesn't mean I'm ready for it. I am inspired by people who climb Mt. Everest, therefore I might walk around Greenlake.) I found the most wonderful book that explains each crochet stitch step-by-step. Most of them show you two stitches and then say, "Now you can crochet anything with simple variations of these two stitches." That is technically true, but if you don't know how to make those variations, it doesn't do you a bit of good. So this book that I found explains all of the variations in great detail. And I am crocheting a small afghan! I am quite excited about it. The pattern calls for smaller stitches, softer yarn, and softer hues than I am using. It is supposed to be a baby blanket. I decided to use slightly larger stitches, not-so-soft yarn (it's less expensive, and I did not think it prudent to invest in high quality, expensive yarn for my first project), and a deep red yarn that matches the stripes in my sofa. It will just be a throw or lap blanket, not a baby blanket. I am really enjoying the project.

Now I want to read the biography of George Muller. I have it, and it is a small book, but I have never read it. So many books, so little time!

Friday, September 01, 2006

Secrets of a Dust-Free Home

Not mine, mind you. Mine is not a dust-free home. It probably should be, what with an asthmatic and a toddler living here. But it is not.

I was just dusting my living room and was thinking of ways to lessen the overall dustiness as well as the need for frequent dusting - which I guess are really the same thing. Anyway, two ideas came to mind. The first idea to reduce dust and, thus, dusting is to not have stuff. If you don't have stuff, you don't have to dust it. The second idea is to use the stuff you have. Books that are read, dishes that are used, CDs that are listened to, photo albums that are looked through, and toys that are played with do not need to be dusted very often, if ever. Of course that principle doesn't apply to everything. Picture frames that are looked at still need to be dusted. (Look at all these phrases that I'm ending with prepositions. Shame on me.)

Well, those were just the thoughts I had while dusting my living room. And this post is the excuse I gave myself for taking a break from dusting the living room. Back to dusting.