Monday, January 30, 2012

Sunday, January 29, 2012

To do and done

I thought about writing a long (probably boring) post about all we've done to get ready for our vacation. Instead, I'll leave you with my original to-do list in pristine condition, followed by how my to-do lists end up looking.

To do list
And it's done

Friday, January 27, 2012

Necessity and all that

We finally have no more industrial fans and dehumidifiers in our apartment, but it’s not because the walls are dry. They are not.

To solve the problem of the remaining wet drywall, Bostonian cut another large hole in the wall and physically removed some of the wettest bits. This picture shows you how we’ve covered the hole (to keep curious cats named Wally from getting between the wall and bricks) yet still allowed air to flow. We got that box from Ikea and you can see we just used duct tape to hold the lid in place. But it still smells wet where that hole is so this morning I stuck our little fan in the box, pointed it at the hole and turned it on high. No mold for me, thanks, I’m trying to cut back.

We are still dealing with a lot of dust in here. We’ve swept several times but I think that’s a losing battle until the floors are put back in. The concrete is old and isn’t sealed so dust is just a way of life right now.

Also, I probably should have worn my noise canceling ear buds all week long. My ears are still messed up from all the racket we had in here for a week. Hopefully the ringing subsides quickly.

I was deleting files from an SD card and ran across this video of Wally and Eddie which was taken last May when our second set of floors had just been installed. I find it comforting—this too, shall pass, and in the meantime Kent and I are doing well, the kitties are doing better than they were, and at some point we’ll have floors that stick around longer than eight months.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Boston version of a casserole

Most of our neighbors contributed to this gift bag which one of them brought by tonight:

It's got three bottles of wine, a bottle of Tums, a bottle of Advil and a box of chocolates. That was super sweet and made our night. We didn't open the wine yet but we will, although maybe we should save it for during reconstruction.

Guess who didn't contribute? Yes, readers, if you said the Nasties and the Ferals, you'd be right!

Monday, January 23, 2012


Kent finished his second shirt yesterday. He made this one from better material and used the Colette Negroni pattern. He says this shirt went together more easily than the McCall's pattern, mostly because the directions are so well written. And the shirt fits beautifully.

Notice, too, how well he lined up his plaid across the front and across the collar. I didn't take a picture of the back, but his yoke matches up too. He's taking this one to Jamaica next week--NEXT WEEK! WOOHOO!

And this time he's smiling.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Stress fractures

Stress fractures can be caused by unusual or repeated stress. I’d say repeated water damage counts, wouldn’t you?
  • All horizontal surfaces in our home are covered with a fine layer of gritty dust. That won’t be going away any time soon. In fact, when the repairs get going, I know it will just get worse.
  • The cats are not doing all that well. Chloe escapes by sleeping in the bedroom (we have that door shut both for noise mitigation and to keep as much dusty crap out of there as we can). Wally and Eddie have been crying loudly at us and it’s truly amazing how loud they can be. All three cats are on our laps for extended periods of time, far more than they normally do. Plus Chloe is picking fights with the boys. I’m sure it’s because she’s so tense.
  • Wally has been doing something he loved to do in the basement of our home in Kansas City. He'd go down there and just roll around and around on the concrete. I think he's a little happy he can do that here because he's been doing it a lot. The downside is that his fur has gotten very dusty. I need to wipe him down with a damp washcloth because I can hardly bear to pet him, he's so dusty. 
  • I feel short in the kitchen. I’m surprised at how removing the inch of flooring makes such a difference in where the counters are to me.
  • Our apartment is crazy dry right now—the humidity is 32%. Our sinuses ache and our eyes are dried out and gritty.
  • I thought of two things to be thankful about this go round. First, we discovered the issue Thursday. That meant we could get the leak capped on Friday and we have this week to start sorting out repairs and so on. Second, I’ve been planning on doing a lot of touch up painting around the place, but hadn’t done it yet. Good thing, huh.
  • We are both so distracted that we both clean forgot about the red slow cooker sitting on the counter last night, full of a new batch of chili. I woke up at 5 AM and knew it had been sitting there all night long. I need to make another batch of soup (that’s what we eat for lunch in the winters) but we have no more white onions in the house. So I need to go get one.
  • Apparently I tweaked my knee the other day so now I’m feeling ancient and decrepit.
  • I’m looking forward to sitting on a beach in just over a week. I just hope nothing bad happens here while we are gone.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Loud and noisy

Unless you've been through a fire or water damage situation, it's hard to picture how dirty and messy things get. When the restoration guys tore down part of the ceiling yesterday, all sorts of wet, soggy moldy debris fell down too. Now everything is coated in dust, there's grit and bits of concrete everywhere and of course it smells weird here. Not water weird, we got things out fast enough, but just weird and not at all like home.

This video is probably quite loud but since I'm in the apartment with the fans and dehumidifier and air purifier going (great big industrial beasts they all are too), I can't hear it. You'll have to tell me if the noise comes through in the video.

Friday, January 20, 2012

I've been here before

No sewing today :-(

You can see how far the water seeped under the floors.
It's wet in the bedroom and kitchen also. 

Lots of holes in the ceiling to track the pipe back to its source.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Two for three

Maybe three for three. Let me explain.

Yesterday I finished the grey cowl-neck dress. Kent, in fact, did not barf on it and he kindly took this picture before he left this morning. So that's a win.

I made an A-line black knit skirt, nothing special and it turned out fine. No pictures because (a) it's boring and (b) my photographer is on a plane right now. That's win number two.

I also made a purple knit top that has a twist in the bodice (Butterick 4789). I'm still learning what fabrics work well with which patterns and also which patterns work well on me. I was a little worried that there would be too much material in the tummy area for my taste and there is. I tend to view tops or dresses like that with deep suspicion since they look like maternity clothes to me. The sleeves also come down further than I like; I don't think cap sleeves are a particularly good look for me. Plus the knit fabric is probably a little heavier than it should be. Since the pattern only cost me $1 and the fabric is remnants from another project, I'm not really out anything except my time.  I'm going to play around with it a little more before I say it's a loss but right now it's most definitely not a win.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Mixed results

The title is a little misleading; the results aren’t mixed because the dress is done and turned out OK. It's my opinion about the dress that's mixed.

I tried making this McCall’s pattern last fall out of a very stretchy sweater knit. That poor dress ended up as a great big lesson on the wrong kind of material to use for someone new to working with knits. I still have the pieces but I’m not sure anything can be resurrected from that attempt.

I also wasn’t sure I actually liked the pattern, but I was willing to give it another try. You might remember I made this skirt from a tutorial I found online. While the skirt turned out fine, I recognized that (a) it’s not really my style and (b) I have no idea where I’d wear it. So I picked out the stitching holding the elastic together, and that skirt became the bottom of the new dress. I had enough material left to cut out the top this weekend.

Here’s the finished product—yes it’s on a hanger, but my photographer isn’t home so pictures of me wearing the dress will have to wait.

I still love the material, and the color too. But I’m not sure this is the most flattering dress for me. Unless Kent barfs on it, though, I’ll probably still take it to Jamaica. While we don’t have to dress formally for dinner at the resort, they do have a dress code and I don’t have lots of suitable dresses. This one should work.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Walk like an Egyptian

Next on the Imaginary Friends Book Club list is Cleopatra: A Life. Technically our reviews were due yesterday but I played hooky. So you get it a day late. Also I’ll be frank—I’m not one for writing book reviews in the conventional sense. If you want a more learned approach to these books we’ve been reading, I suggest you go here or here. Otherwise, you get how I experienced the book.

Sometimes a book will just smack me in the gut. It’s as though whatever is going on in my life sort of links up with the book to create a great big hell yeah. Even if the book isn’t all that well written, if the message hits home for me, I’m tone deaf to any flaws.

The Song of the Lark did that for me. Thea’s story of talent and ambition and what it cost her to pursue her dreams illustrated how hard it is for women to even have those dreams, let alone do anything about them. I’ve never reread the book, even though I reread almost everything. I’m afraid the book’s magic was less about Willa Cather’s writing and more about where I was in my life when I read it.

The movie Gattaca did that for me also. There’s one line close to the end of the movie when Anton demands to know how Vincent, who is genetically inferior to him, has been able to beat him swimming across a bay. Vincent tells his brother that he never saves anything for the trip back. For whatever reason, that movie and especially that line absolutely hit home. I've also never rewatched the movie, and for the same reason I haven't reread Lark.

So on to Cleopatra: A Life.

I loved it, absolutely and without reservation and even though I knew the ending. Others in the group have been voicing less positive opinions and I get it and might feel the same way if we were discussing a similarly long-dead, almost mythological male ruler. But it’s Cleopatra, who was known not only for her extreme beauty but was also apparently quite well educated. I love it that she had it all—looks and brains and ambition—and she won it all, if only for a while.

I read the book almost as soon as our book club formed and I haven’t gone back and reread it so I can’t quote you bits and pieces to back up my opinion. But that’s OK, that’s all this is—my opinion. Cleopatra seems to exactly illustrate Laurel Thatcher Ulrich’s oft-used quote about well-behaved women. You don’t see Cleopatra behaving properly by Roman standards.

Much like Song of the Lark, I probably won’t reread this book. And I don’t really think this is some kind of feminist manifesto. It's more of a speculative look at a woman who even now is larger than life. And to me it does beg the question of why it’s OK for men to have behaved the way Cleopatra did and not receive the kind of condemnation she did. Why do we still put up with double standards?

Friday, January 13, 2012

Do we really need all of this?

Before I started dating Kent, I’d become a gamer—I played Everquest which is an MMORPG. When we started dating, I set it aside because that game in particular takes a lot of time and we were busy doing other things. I even tried playing golf then—I took lessons that summer, which helped, but I’ll be honest. I was not very good.

Kent is a gamer too, although he’d always played first-person shooter games. I suggested we play EQ together and he thought that might be fun. Well at that point, the game had released three or four expansions, which meant buying those CDs for the game and they cost about $40 each. I remember him asking me in Best Buy if we really needed all those expansions in order to play the game. Yes, yes, I assured him, we really did. And we went on to play EQ together for a couple of years. Then we switched to World of Warcraft, which we still play. He doesn't ask if we really need the expansions any more.

Now Kent is sewing, and like most crafts there are a lot of tools you can get that really make the job easier—things like a tailor’s ham, seam rippers, several different kinds of scissors, tracing paper, and that’s not even getting into the sewing machine or serger or both. He told me over the weekend when he was pressing his current shirt project how much easier having the ham made getting his seamed properly pressed. And he confessed that he’d wondered if we’d really needed all of those tools.

Yes, yes, sweetie, we really do.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Sunday snoozes

Kent and I were busy yesterday with sewing projects. He's started on his second shirt and I cut out my next dress. That's how we solve the problem of just one sewing machine. Maybe someday we'll need two machines but for now, this works.

The cats weren't nearly so productive, although I think they might disagree with my definition of productive.

Sunday, January 8, 2012


smile dude!
Not sure why he wouldn't smile.
Kent has finished his first sewing project ever. He gets frustrated with ready-to-wear dress shirts—he’s got long arms so to get a shirt with long enough sleeves, he looks like he’s swimming in the neck and chest area. Despite being actively dissuaded from learning to sew by one fabric store in Kansas City, he persevered and did a great job. The hem is actually level on the front of his shirt but the way he’s standing makes it look as though the two sides aren’t level.

I'm smiling!
And I have a success to report also. This pattern is one of the ones our friend Kevin gave me. I mentioned how nervous I was to sew it up out of this knit because it’s super slippery and I haven’t had a lot of experience or success with those kinds of knits. But it’s turned out well. I paid attention to the reviews on Pattern Review. Without fail, the reviews said the pattern had a lot of material in the bodice area so I cut smaller than I normally would and also took about an inch out of the bodice length. Good thing too, otherwise I think the dress would have looked very saggy. I’ll take this dress to Jamaica later this month.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Once upon a cat

I haven’t told cat stories in a while. I don’t have accompanying pictures, alas, so you will just have to imagine the cats doing these things.

This week Wally has perfected his Puss n Boots look. You remember that look from Shrek, right? Last night was his crowning achievement. I’d been reading in bed, which I only do when Kent’s out of town, and Wally clearly thought it was time for me to turn off the lights. So he curled up sort of just under my left arm (I was lying slightly on my left side) with his head facing me and started purring loudly and patting me gently with his front paws. Between the purrs, the pats and the hugely dilated pupils, Wally had sweetness nailed. He isn’t the purrer among our cats, that distinction belongs to Eddie. But last night, Wally gave him a run for that title.

Eddie loves to carry toys around the apartment and meow through them. Lately he’s been doing that in the morning when I’m taking a shower. Sure enough, this morning I heard that loud muffled MEOW and peeked out of the shower. He stood there holding his newest toy from Ardis (and also the current favorite toy—it makes small bird-like chirps when it turns specific ways. They’re random enough sounds to keep Eddie riveted.). Once he made eye contact with me, he let out one more meow. When I got out of the shower, I saw that he’d kindly left the toy for me at the edge of the bath mat.

Chloe is mostly a snoozy cat but this week she’s been doing her 50 yard well no not yards, the apartment isn’t big enough—her 50 foot dash. All cats ZOOM occasionally and most of the ones I’ve had like to careen off walls, furniture, people, whatever. Not Chloe. She ZOOMS only in straight lines. It’s like watching a sprinter. She’ll race as far as she can in her imaginary straight line, stop, turn around, pause and then race back again. Usually about three laps is all she’ll go and then she’s out for the rest of the day.

The pink skirt is on hold. I think I can salvage the material but without gathers, I need to line the skirt and I don’t have anything suitable to use. So I’ve moved on to the pink knit dress. I’m nervous about sewing this one because I don’t have a lot of experience with knits and I’m afraid I’ll ruin it. But if I never try, I’ll never know.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Just shoot me now

The skirt is all but done and is enormous. I'll be unpicking a lot of seams if I'm to use that pink eyelet material.


Tuesday, January 3, 2012

One down

Well OK, I still need to hem it. But it needs to hang overnight before I do that. Otherwise this top is finished.
Posted by Picasa

Monday, January 2, 2012

It's going to be a busy month

I have a lot of sewing planned:

Pink skirt.
 I'm going to make this pink, almost eyelet into a skirt; it's from a failed dress attempt late last summer. Rather than just pitch everything, I unpicked the skirt from the bodice and recut it into this Vogue skirt pattern.

Dress, possibly with a matching
short sleeve jacket.

I got this flowery material in Idaho and had hoped to make that Butterick retro dress out of it. But I don't have enough. That dress is a gathered, circle skirt and requires over five yards of material. I have three yards. This dress is similar in feel and should be a good shape for me. I'm making the light green version on the pattern envelope.

Tank top
I got a free pattern from Colette Patterns (see what it looks like here) and have cut it from this lovely plaid.

Sort of a halter dress.

I want to try making more knit clothes so I'll give this dress a try out of the (yes you guessed it) pink knit.

Black knit skirt
I made a black wool knit skirt this fall which is very useful until summer. So I'm making a ponte knit version. The colorful print on the right is what I'm lining the yoke with. I may have enough to get a top out of the lining too.

Close up of the lining

And finally, this is how wild and crazy our New Year's Eve celebration was. Makes you sleepy just contemplating that picture, doesn't it?

Wild and crazy New Year's Eve