Saturday, July 30, 2011

personal space invaded

As you can tell, I haven't been writing much on the blog lately. Pictures are easy enough, but I've been avoiding any contemplative moods, instead drowning anxiety about upcoming changes with bad TV and sewing projects.

I'm only writing now because my home has been invaded and my normal routine crushed under the dirty feet of my sister's new boyfriend who likes to spontaneously remove his shirt and doesn't wear shoes outside, afterward considering his feet perfectly presentable on cream wool carpet (where I lay out my large projects). I suppose everything all happens for a reason because this all is making my impending move feel a lot less dire-- it will be a RELIEF to have my own space to in live again: dirty feet will not be permitted across the threshold. At this point, a bit of loneliness feels like a fair trade for some cleanliness.

It probably isn't very good for me to have my own place if I am ever supposed to cohabit with anyone ever again (but I doubt I will). This is because I get more and more rigid about routines and cleanliness in my isolation-- naturally, because no one is challenging me-- so that it is downright painful to live with other people after the freedom of complete control over my surroundings. I'm experiencing a bit of that right now as Banana arrived home from CA today for a week and the new boyfriend, who I will henceforth call Whipper Snapper (he truly is), is sleeping on the floor in my regular living area на второй этаже. This is usually a space of tranquility or productiveness all day and late into the night.


But no, Whipper Snapper will be coming up and sleeping on an air mattress in my sewing area. So, I could have basted my quilt today but didn't start because I wouldn't have been able to leave it out unfinished.


Anyways, I've gathered quite a lot of sewing supplies this summer and have a nice stash of fabric. This is the stuff for my new, quick 8" block quilt to bring to school. I put together the entire top last night from 8PM to 5AM.


Finding fabric for this quilt, which was inspired by Cherry Menlove's spring quilt, was surprisingly difficult! Evidently Midwestern American quilters are not interested in neutrals. I ended up with five yards of not-right fabric, three of which were unusable in any other projects and one which was, allegedly, nonreturnable. Exhibit A:


This fabric is from Carousel Designs, called "Sage Mini Stripe" and described as "fine sage green stripes over a soft white background, this pretty fabric functions almost as a neutral." Ah, neutral? I think not! That is lime green if I ever saw lime green and not something I would ever use in a project. I did eventually get the nice customer service rep to let me return it, because it was still in plastic and I was so "disappointed", but I have yet to see whether I've been credited for it.


Ah, so the thing I've been dancing around, and not thinking about or doing, is packing. Normally I don't mind packing as much as some seem to, but I need to repack a lot of my things like NOW so I can get a moving quote and this requires a lot of running things through the dishwasher, long periods of inactivity waiting to get more boxes or packing material with everything strewn about, and then having to figure out what to do with things that I can't really throw away but don't want anymore. Also, living without things that I've already packed and so feeling like my life is in cardboard limbo. Drudging through all one's worldly possessions can be draining and it might actually be just as much, or cheaper, to buy new things in Boston, so I'm not sure what best to do. Three thousand gallons of gas is expensive.

Bah, and then there is the program I'll be staring itself. Russian has been eating me up all year until a few days ago when it struck me that if I spent half as much time studying as I do worrying about it, I'd be fairly well along. You see, even if I manage the English Literature (my program) I'll be screwed if I can't pass the language requirement test and then I'd be kicked out, which would mean moving 1,500 miles again and living at home. This is not an option.

And egads, I am so looking forward to having my own place again because Whipper Snapper has displaced me to my bedroom for the night and this means using the basement bathroom which is mainly used by my brother, so less than desirable.

Thank goodness for wireless internet.

P.S. I do feel a bit bad about being a little less than friendly to Whipper Snapper. Though I did give him a full chance until I had to pick him up, with my sister and my brother (who were riding in the car), one night a few weeks ago because he'd been drinking and was pulled over. He managed to scrape by without a DUI because he is sneaky. I wouldn't have minded picking them up, but afterward he instigated a coverup about it, obviously not wanting my parentals to know. So I was put in the awkward situation of lying about it while my parents talked about how "responsible" he was.

I'll try to give him another chance, I suppose. I did feel sorry for him at the end of the night after he arrived with spilt beverage on his pants, spilled his alcohol twice in thirty minutes on the floor of my sister's room, then again on the shorts he borrowed from my brother, then ripped the shorts. He was obviously less than comfortable.


Here is a bad photo off FB of said wedding:


You know how I'm always saying that this is the year I'll end up looking like Jennifer Garner? (Or do you? Have I said that on this incarnation of my blog?) Well, this year looks quite promising, though I've had one to many cookies lately. (I figure I may as well take advantage of having fresh baked cookies brought to me by my mother while I can.)

P.S.S.S. This kind of post is exactly why my family can never find this blog.

Monday, July 18, 2011

there had been rain all day...


"There had been rain all day, and there was a damp feeling in the air. The leaves were thick upon the trees, and heavy with wet; but the rain had ceased, though the sky was still dark; and the hopeful birds were singing cheerfully. As I walked to and fro in the garden, and the twilight began to close around me, their little voices were hushed; and that peculiar silence which belongs to such an evening in the country when the lightest trees are quite still, save for the occasional droppings from their boughs, prevailed."

-David Copperfield























belated father's day pictures


Happy times. Even a nature loving Dad likes to have a bit of a fuss made of him every once in a while.



(Feeling left out)


Thursday, June 23, 2011

a family reunion


I just returned from a traditional summer punctuation: a family reunion. I now seem to be on the dwindling end of summer and my time here at home. I hadn't attended a reunion of my mother's family for quite a few years (at least away from my home, since it was held here last year) because they're normally held in Michigan or Illinois and the car rides are tortuously long. The feeling of being hundreds of miles away from home with no control over my movements while being confined to few square feet of car if I ever want to get anywhere safe again has never been a thing I've enjoyed. This year, however, I wasn't going to let my peculiarities get in the way of seeing this extremely lovable side of my family all together (mostly) for perhaps the last time, since I'll be slaving away for the next six summers trying to pay for rent in Boston-- if everything goes well (that is a grim thought). So-- and this is becoming a disturbing theme on this blog-- I went into a medically induced semi-conscious state and slept most of the way there only to stumble drearily into gas stations to buy mini oreos. Maybe I was waaayy stoned or I'm just old, because the nine hour drive went by much faster than before.


The main attraction in Evanston last weekend, during the reunion, was the Custer Street Fair, which I'd been to once before and definitely enjoyed more several years ago. This year the best thing about it was the adorable doggies panting along with their fanny-pack wearing owners.


Previously, I'd been intrigued by the sand-filled glittery dragons and fluffy marionette puppets (missing this year) but this year the only real attraction for buying were the tables full of cheapo rings.



And some not so cheapo rings:


Steph wouldn't come to the reunion because she has recently fallen in love with someone and must spend every waking moment with him, so though she's recently taken time off work for visits to friends she didn't think it was worth it to come to the reunion and consequently charged me with getting her something from the Fair. I got her a claddagh ring because it was the the nicest of the lot. I'd want to keep it for myself if I didn't think that they're a bit cheesy and I'd want to buy an authentic one in Ireland someday if at all. I got myself a set of little hoop earrings, for a bit of ~flair~ instead.


It wasn't insanely hot, but it felt sweltering in the middle of Main Street with so many people, especially since I ended up walking over to it about four times during Saturday and Sunday. On the plus side, the people of Evanston definitely have a thing for pansies, which was quite a welcome sight during the bustle.





The highlight of my second trip to the Fair was finding the sale trolleys outside Chicago Rare Books (this picture was taken on yet another trip to mainstreet on Monday after the Fair ended, hence the peace and quiet). I immediately pounced on a kitschy boxed set of Barbara Pym books for $6-- which are worth thrifting because it seems that there is only one publishing house (Plume) producing them now and the paperbacks don't seem to be worth a whole $16 each-- then discovered a whole slew of gems from Waugh, Wodehouse and Christie in a way that seemed like they'd been stacked there for me. I'd have bought more, but these are all authors that I prefer to check out from the library and don't usually buy because they're such quick reads. I couldn't resist the sale though and I'll post pictures tomorrow.


Oh, and did I mention that they had a fair few of the notoriously trendy Penguin paperbacks just sitting there with the $3 Agatha Christies? I bought one and nearly bought the rest to sell on ebay, regardless of content, but I figured that I'd leave them there for someone else to discover.


The inside of the shop was casually impressive, with a lot of beautiful old books of miniature or magnificent proportions behind glass and a cashier sitting behind the high counter with a fan on him. I didn't get to look around as long as I'd have liked because I felt that everything inside was out of my cheapo budget and I don't think fan-man appreciated that I was taking pictures. I have liked to photograph all the ones I wanted to buy but I'm not that shameless.


It was really quite a lovely store though and I'd go there again. But I do live in a town without a bookstore, so I may be a tiny bit impressionable.


The next stop was a perennial favorite: Dave's Rock Shop. This place is always worth a visit with its vials of gold, cubbies full of shiny rocks, crystals, heavy copper spheres and museum in the basement. I wanted some of the emerald jewelry but, alas, could not afford the very crime novel-esque $700 necklace that sat mysteriously behind glass. One day though.


There are plenty of things to get, though, for less than that.


My mom, for example, spent a lot of time picking out the prettiest rocks from this display to fill a glass apothecary jar in her bathroom, much to the chagrin of the seven-year-olds waiting for their turn. She has a thing for rocks and boulders that is unexplainable.



My geologist uncle apparently had a small mental break here last year and spent a lot (totally understandable).


You can see what I mean when I say that most of the Fair booths couldn't really compete with the sparkling geodes. I also went to Vogue Fabric but I can't say I'd recommend going there (maybe for buttons) it as the lady ripped rather than cut my yard of fabric, which ended up having a swathe cut out of the middle of it, probably for a sample. The notions were overpriced and they had hardly any quilting fabric, but I expected that.


While all this was going on, Andreas was sucked into the guitar store and may or may not have have been ripped off on an extremely expensive Gibson that cost more than I've ever made working during the summer.


Well, it made him really happy.


OK, so excuse my money-centered talk-- I don't know where that came from because this side of the family is very nonmaterialistic-- because my favorite part of staying in Evanston (where my mom grew up and we lived for a few years) was the urban gardening and the trees. They may only have a little patch of front yard to show off, but that doesn't mean Evanstonians don't make use of it.


There are a lot of very beautiful American porches and ornamental trees. The japanese maples, in particular, made my mother very jealous (we can't grown them here).





My grandparent's house is no exception. They may be nearing eighty, but that doesn't keep them from weeding the lawn for dandelions.


This has to be the best dog walking area ever: so pleasant, so green.


(This house, above, fenced off their landscape with "caution" tape during the Fair.)




I won't deny that I wish that the part of Boston I'm moving to looked like this.


Much of the reunion was spent lounging around on the swing (which the larger male cousins broke once, per tradition) and watching the people bonking into other cars while trying to park for the Fair. It was bumper to bumper, again and again, and very riveting stuff. It made me feel better about my own parallel parking skills.


Of course, after the Fair on Monday things went back to being peaceful.




I am very glad that I went, even if I partially melted in the sun, as evidenced by this picture with my esteemable girly cousins-- who are growing up much to fast, in my opinion, and only wanted to watch horror movies and Jackass the entire time...bless them.



This is my aunt and uncle's extremely silly cockapoo who has crazy eyes and bandy grasshopper legs that let him get anything off the counter, forcing his family to store their garbage can in a cupboard. We were leaving and he happened to be sitting like this:


It is very strange because the whole family is fairly stoic but just happen to have the most (insert Austenian voice here) ridiculous dog ever.