Tuesday, June 28, 2011

A Matter of Perspective

I've been back on the running pony for some weeks now, slowly building mileage and making sure I don't fall off.  As I keep saying, I'm not a runner, but I want to be!  It's just that sometimes I'm... shall we say... less than enthusiastic about doing the work involved in becoming a runner.  It would be kind of awesome if I could wake up tomorrow and be like "Hey sweetie, I'm going to join you on your thirteen mile run, and YOU'RE GOING DOWN."  But no... tomorrow's going to be a mile-and-a-half slog at a searing 10:15 pace.  The best consolation is the bacon waiting patiently in the fridge.

Anyway, where was I?  Oh right, perspective.  Jason left the house at 5:30 this morning to whip out his 11 miles before work.  (Yeah.  He runs more in a day than I run in a whole week.  He's amazing and I love him.)  I'd asked him to poke me before he left so I could get up and do my run before breakfast.  So he did (well, he didn't literally poke me, because that would be rude and unboyfriendlike), and I got up after silently whining  for fifteen minutes or so.

Ate a banana, drank some water, got into my running clothes (as much as running annoys me sometimes, I love the clothes), and sat on the couch.  And sat on the couch.  And sat on the couch.  I just kept thinking, "Gotta run two miles... don't wanna.  One mile away, then one mile back.  Gotta, but don't wanna.  Don't wanna.  MAAAAAAHHHHHH" 

And then I thought about the lady who lives in our subdivision.  If I had to guess, I'd say she's in her mid to late 40's, and is a very dedicated runner.  She's not very fast (like I'm one to talk about fast), but she's out there like clockwork, at sunrise, almost every day.  And the interesting thing is that it seems like the bulk of her running is on the long oval drive at the back of our subdivision.  And I thought... I don't want to run a mile away and a mile back... but I could do laps!  Yes!  Laps are doable today! 

Whatever gets you out the door, amirite?  Anyway, I'd wasted so much time whinging on the couch that it was 6:48 by the time I got out the door.  That's a lot later than I like.  According to my Garmin, the oval is around four tenths of a mile, so five laps would give me my two miles.  I actually ran into Jason on his way home, and his smile is always a boost.  So that was nice.  He was in the shower by the time I got home, but I still got some breakfast cooked before he came downstairs.  (I like to be helpful in the mornings.  Having his breakfast ready is the least I can do.)  And now I've earned the right to be a slug the rest of the day.  Yay!

So there you have it.  Perspective.  Two miles seemed like a lot this morning.  But since I was able to break it up into manageable chunks, it didn't seem like such a wall.  I don't even care that it was a boring run and I didn't get to see any turtles.  Boring is a minor issue when you don't want to do it anyway. 

I bet I don't do laps tomorrow, though.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

A Quilt for The Littlest Russell

Two of my friends are having their first babies--both are having girls, and the two babies are due within a few days of each other.  They are the first of my "grown-up" friends to produce offspring, so these little kittens are going to be spoiled rotten, and yours truly is more than happy to help with the spoilage.

We just held a shower for one of the girls today, and naturally I had to go nuts with the quilting.  I've worked on this blanket pretty much non-stop for the last couple weeks and just finished it up this morning.

I present to you--a purple and green quilt.

This one shows the color.  It's not perfect but it's close.

And this one shows the texture.  Vive la hand-quilting!

It's machine-pieced, hand-quilted and -bound.  I do not like machine quilting.  Like, at all.  I don't like the way it looks, I don't like the way it affects the drape, I kind of think of it as cheating... I just don't like it.  So, hand quilting it is.  I'm kind of a traditionalist that way.  Someday I'll have a magnum opus of a hand-pieced, hand-quilted monster, but I'm cool with machine piecing for now.  But NO MACHINE QUILTING.

Where was I?  Oh!  More details.  The binding is scrappy (yay for using up yardage!), the backing is a solid piece of unbleached muslin (the better to show off my quilting [I refuse to be modest on this topic {I mean, I'm still a quilting noob and it looks pretty dang good if you ask me}]), and it runs a hair short of 45" square.  I'm really pleased with the texture, but I think next time I'll try a different batting.  I used an 80/20 cotton/poly blend, and it's just a little too lofty for my taste.  I think in the future I'll stick with 100% cotton, or the cotton/bamboo blend I used on my sister's quilt. 

The whole thing was a learning experience (first time sewing bias-edged pieces), and while it's good, it's not show quality.  I did okay on the places where four corners meet...

Semi-gratuitous texture shot.  Yum.  I like dense quilting.

See?  Not bad, not bad at all...

On the places where eight corners meet, however, my results were a bit hit-or-miss.



Big miss.  Blech.

But I'm really, really pleased with how the binding turned out.  It's a French-fold binding, both for durability and because it seemed the easiest way (no raw edges to harass me!).  The corners are kind of good-not-great, but I learned a lot and they'll be better next time.  And it turns out that while I haaaaaaate hemming, quilt binding is very soothing and meditative.  Loved that process, really.

What?  You want to see more of that gorgeous backing with the quilting and everything?


Seriously, I am really, really happy with how the quilting turned out.  It's mostly free-handed, too.  Go me!  (Sorry.  Modesty failure again.)

This whole experience just made me happy.  The small size meant it wasn't a huge time commitment, and it's been nice to get a break from the bed-sized quilt I'm making for Sis (which just needs to be bound!  The quilting is d-o-n-e DONE!), and the colors are so cheerful, it was honestly hard to put it down (which might have also been the fact that I had one week to quilt the bitch).

It was very well-received by the mom-to-be (which I expected; she's a little crafty herself so she understands and appreciates the work involved).  I'm happy she's happy, and I can't wait to make the next one!

Thursday, June 9, 2011


I have been so very neglectful lately.  Okay, more than just lately.  But work was all busy, and then I couldn't run, and work was still busy, and I started to get end-of-season-itis and work was STILL busy and then my season ended and I spent a couple weeks decompressing and I did a lot of crafting and I'm starting to run again even though it's HOT and I really don't have any excuse not to write anymore.  So I'll tell you a story about a recent run.

Jason gets up very early to run before work in the summer, and I've been heading out the door around the same time (usually a bit later, since I don't put in near the mileage that he does, but still quite early).  It's typically around sunrise, so I get to see a lot of wildlife that tends to hide itself away as the day heats up and the humans get out and about.  I don't usually get to see any big animals like deer (although Jason once spotted a coyote on a frozen pond), but there are lots of different kinds of birds, and bunnies all over the place, and little frogs and toads when you get into the woods.  And because our running trails are built along the local floodway (which is another post for another day), there are lots of ponds and creeks, which equals a startling number of turtles.

A few weeks ago Jason found a little turtle the size of a nickel, far away from water and getting dangerously dry.  He carried it a quarter-mile to the pond down the trail and let it go in the mud near the edge.  It soaked up some water, then swam away.  That is just one small example of how awesome Jason is.  There's no way the little turtle could have made it all that way on its own.

My turtle spotting was not quite so adorable.  I was nearing my turn-around point on the hill near our house (which I swear is the only hill in Plainfield), when down the trail I noticed a big lump of some kind.  The trail is right next to the road there, and I assumed it was roadkill.  As I got closer, however, I realized--nope, not roadkill.  Snapping turtle.  A big one.

It was about nine inches across, just sitting smack in the middle of the path.  There's a small stream of some sort that runs right under the road there, so I assume that's where it came from, but I wouldn't have expected such shallow water to provide enough food for a snapper that big.  We did have a wetter-than-normal spring, though, so maybe it had just traveled. 

ANYWAY.  It was big, and it looked like it was headed toward the road.  Not only is that path on a hill, but it also comes around a curve, so if a car came along while the turtle was crossing, it would definitely be turned into turtle hash.  I'm a country kid, and I know you can't pick up a snapper.  They're too aggressive and kind of scary.  So I decided to squirt it in the face with my water bottle and annoy it back off the path.

It didn't like that one bit.

It went from "oh, don't mind me, I'm just a big ugly bastard hanging out here with my head in my shell" to "I AM GOING TO EAT YOUR FACE" in less than half a second.  It was so fast, we might have actually time-traveled backwards a second or two.  I was standing a safe distance away and I still jumped back a bit.

But my mission was accomplished; I ran into Jason on my way back (not literally) and warned him about the turtle.  After he got home he said the turtle had moved back into the brush on the side of the trail. 

He also wondered why it was all wet, so far from the water.