frenchtown fiber

Chris Mundy and Kate House try to make art while navigating the crap life throws at them.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Here is What I Sold to a Person in Canada

A lot of people liked Doll Dress, but I don't think so many liked Moose and Elk. My pictures are not so good. People often say the quilts look better than they expected.   Now I need to hope they don't smell worse than expected. All this time I had them in the basement, I forgot they were there. I think the plastic bin protected them from bad smells, but just in case, I bought a bar of scented soap at the gift shop at work to put in the box. Maybe the customer will be so excited about the free soap they will forget the musty smell.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Yo! Big Etsy Sale!

I haven't sold anything on Etsy since March, but today I sold two art quilts to the same person. I am pretty well thrilled. I can't wait to call my mom! I think I might have the pictures to show you at work

Starting Out Weird

It is not even 7 am and already this is a weird day. I woke up in the middle of the night to my husband getting out of bed. I thought to myself, I will pee next when he comes back. He never did come back. I woke again, realized that fact and finally did pee. It was 5 am and I was wide awake. I assumed that Joe went to sleep on the couch, something he will do if he feels restless, or if I am restless and keeping him up. I didn't want to disturb him down stairs, so I busied myself in the bedroom, going through drawers, de-cluttering and rearranging. Finally at six I thought it was sort of reasonable to go down stairs and maybe quietly go on the computer. I made coffee as silently as possible. While it was brewing, I went to the back door to have a look at the day, and I see that the back door is open. I looked in the living room and Joe was not there! Another thing he does sometimes is go sleep in the garage. So, all that being quiet for nothing! He usually sleeps on the floor of the garage, with some scavenged foam as a mattress, but recently he garbage picked a Sigmond Freud-style Dr's office couch to put in the garage. We always joke that mice are going to run across his face when he sleeps in the garage. This thing will at least elevate him above mouse-level.

Anyway, a few minutes after I discovered he was not in the LR, he came into the house and announced that he had been up since 3:30 am and was working, not sleeping, in the garage all that time. He is now upstairs sleeping.

So, I did go on the internet and check out everyone's blog, and now I am inspired to sew! It has been raining hard for 2 days here. YES, MORE RAIN! This time tropical storm Danny is to blame. Yesterday I noticed that some of our windowsills had mildew growing on them. So gross.  The point is, good day to sew. I have gone against my own decree and I have started a new piece. I will go take a picture...

I bought these bits, the aqua linen napkin, the pink doily and the other  thing, at the same time. I loved the pink against the aqua, so the concept was instant. Maybe you can see that I anchored the crocheted doily down with a bead at each stitch. I am also doing some insane stippling by hand, so this should be finished by Christmas. No doubt this will end up on Etsy. I never know how to title a thing like this. Any ideas?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Wow, Lots of Comments on That Last Post!

Let's face it, all of this computer stuff is a hobby in itself. I admit, I like blogging, I guess because I was always a letter writer and have kept a paper journal for a while. Blogging is kind of like writing a letter to the world! The face book thing, I don't know. As Gunnel says, you can just ignore it, which I do, so why even have it?  A word about the farm game and all of the others, I never ever got into video games except for one time. I remember when my son was seven, we got him a Sega Genesis video game system and a game, Sonic the Hedgehog, for Christmas. I figured I had better learn how to use it, so that I could help him. Inside of 2 weeks he was way better at it than I was, and I haven't touched a game since. Here is my problem. When you are done spending all this time, what do you have? I'd rather make something than gather imaginary farm animals.

I would like to reiterate that I really like my neighbors with the falling-down house. I'd rather have nice, quiet neighbors than neighbors that are mean or noisy with an immaculate house. But, I think that there is actually some kind of mental thing going on with them. What makes you buy a door and let it hang out on the porch forever?  I remember when we had our sidewalk re-done, they had one square of sidewalk that was cracked, so, at their request, I had our contractor fix that square as well, and just bill them. When it was done, they acted like we were heroes. They thanked us profusely and said they were taking us out to dinner. (They never did) I think that even the effort of making the phone calls is too much for them! Marty, you're right about the property values. But, at this point houses in our area have come down so much and still no one buys them! I know what will happen: They will decide to move when they retire, they will be told that no one will buy the house in that condition, and they will spend a fortune fixing it. I've seen plenty of people do things like put in a new kitchen before selling a house. Why not do it now, so you can enjoy it? Hey, I don't know.

Sam Quilts,  I got confused when you described yourself as a trashy trailer dweller. I could not imagine it was the same person who is constantly doing big projects around the house!  We do not have many trailer parks around here; it is just not that common. However, maybe there should be. People need less expensive places to live and trailers seem to provide that. Housing costs are really dreadful here, even with the bad economy.
Idaho Beauty, the miracle of the internet, that addictive time-sucker, is the wealth of info right at your fingertips! I just Googled up Idaho population and it was all there. I really do love to learn new things.

I have to go now, but I will post again soon about what I did last night.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

I'm Done With Facebook

Just a few things before I complain about facebook.

Recently Idaho Beauty commented on my unbelievable story of a good experience I had with the NJ state department of taxation.She related several instances where she also had good experiences with state employees. I would expect that in Idaho as compared to NJ. When you travel away from this area you notice people being more outwardly friendly. I decided to do a population comparison of Idaho vs NJ. There is a government census site that gives detailed info on each state.  Population of Idaho = 1,523,816; Population of NJ = 8,414,360. Here is something even more telling. Population per square mile in Idaho = 15.6   Population per square mile in NJ = 1,134. No wonder we are crabby.

A shout out to Kim who was finally able to leave a post, this one about the 4-H fair. I never see pigs at our fair. Wait, I lie, we saw one of those Vietnamese pot-belly pigs. But that really does not compare to a real USA farm hog. I can't believe how huge they are.

OK, so about FaceBook. My neighbor talked me into joining it. It has ended up most of my "friends" are people from work. I have never actively tried to find anyone. I just end up copping friends based on the friends of others. I don't bother with it much, but whenever I do, it's all about everyone playing a farm game, or a pirate game, or a mafia game. Or they are asking me to join some cause, or they are sending me grateful dead bears, mixed drinks or something. I already waste a lot of time on the computer. I have to draw a line somewhere. How can I unfriend someone I work with? I don't want to say, look, you are boring  me with this farm crap. Maybe I will just ignore Facebook from now on.

A word about my next door neighbors. I want to start by saying that we like them a lot. However, we are watching with concern as their house is allowed to fall apart. Joe and I have done big an small things to improve our house since we moved in 3 years ago. It's old, and you know how it is, there is always something to be done, cosmetic and otherwise. I can tell it causes our neighbors great consternation whenever we do so little as to plant a flower. They apologize about their house, and give a variety of excuses about how why they are not fixing theirs. One day the husband was outside, and Joe was up on a ladder cleaning the gutters out with a hose. The husband says, almost with disgust, "Look, more activity."  I might point out that they have trees growing out of their gutters, the ones that haven't fallen off the house. The wife bought an "antique" front door, that has been sitting on the front porch for over a year now. The porch will one day fall right off of the house, or, at least someone is going to fall through it.

Last Sunday we heard heavy machinery noise in the backyard. These neighbors had some guy back there ripping up every last bush. When it was all over, we had a painfully clear view of their eyesore of a house. The wife came out and said, "What do you think?" I can't bear to say anything mean, I managed to blurt out, "Looks kinda naked." Instead of,  "What about your damn house???" She referred to it as a second chance, starting from scratch. She talked about all the plans she has for the yard, she's talking butterfly bushes, trellises, sunflowers. I will bet good money that she doesn't do shit. She's got a stonecrop in a bucket that has fallen over and manages to grow and bloom every year right where it is. I have been so tempted to just go over and plant it, but it isn't my place. She has a stack of top soil bags that have been there on the ground since before we moved in. Hopefully they never see this blog.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Hunterdon County 4H Fair

I love going to the 4H fair every year, I mostly look at the farm animals. I love Goats. Of course it rained while we were there. (Joe has become fond of saying, "Give us this day our daily rain.") We just ran from building to building. Great. Here is a picture of Joe trying to convince a cow to look my way. And, some goats.

I usually check out the needlework tent as well. The one at this fair is generally sparse, and this year is no exception. I was initially appalled to find all of the quilts covered in plastic. Then I realized that maybe some had been damaged in the past. Who can blame them?

There was some genuinely weird stuff this year. But, what really struck me was that there were three quilts almost exactly the same. Each of the three used the same fabric. They each had embroidered flower baskets They were just arranged slightly differently on each quilt. Obviously, they all used the same kit. I never use kits. Do you think they knew, or were they all surprised? See the folded in half quilt in the picture? That is one of them. I guess they didn't think it was worth the space, since it was up there 3 times. Finally, check out the frog with tits. Tell me that isn't weird. Amphibians shopping at Victoria's Secret. It won a prize.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

My Garden is Officially Out of Control

Every year, around the same time, I come to this conclusion about my garden. It is out of control. My garden was really lame this year, but just the same, the out of control phase came at the usual time, which is mid-August.

There is some kind of tomato disease sweeping the country. Apparently it all originated with a giant corporate farm that supplies the starter plants you get at big box stores, which is exactly where I got my tomato plant. I understand that you either get blossom end rot, or the leaves on the plant crinkle up and die. I have the latter. I'm sure the total crap weather we had this summer only made it worse. It has not seemed to affect the tomatoes themselves. By the way I have about 100 green tomatoes on that plant and I can see that they are all beginning to ripen at once. Typical. My non-gardening neighbors will benefit. I also have a volunteer cherry tomato plant growing out of the side of the compost heap, but that one seems fine.

Everything else is obscured by weeds, or killed by mold and mildew. Part of the weed problem has been brought on by myself in an effort to be "green." I have an entire post in my head about struggles to be more green. I'll save the details for that post.

Some of the garden is still OK.
My house is getting a little weird, too. The persistent rains and our lack of air conditioning is resulting in an atmosphere that is so damp the doors won't shut right and it is starting to smell musty. Yuk.
I finally finished reading Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. Just in time, I suppose, because the day I finished it I saw an article in the newspaper saying that she was about to come out with a new book.
I believe I have mentioned that E.L. lives in Frenchtown. I was at a cafe with friends that looks over the bike path in town. Someone said, "Look, it's Liz Gilbert." but when I looked up she was already gone. That is as close as I've come to seeing her.
I did not love the book, but I didn't hate it either. She is a good writer, and I liked a lot of her descriptions and insights into the places she visits. Her psychic pain was too much for me. She cried a lot, and I have a problem with that. I don't cry much, so there is that, plus when other people cry, I find it alarming. I guess because I think that if you are crying, something down right dreadful must have happened. Not necessarily. It could be that you are still crying about the relationship that didn't work out 2 years ago. Don't worry, I realize that it's me who is weird. I have had clues my entire life, but it was at my sister-in-law's baby shower that I knew for sure that I was different from many women. She opened up one of her gifts and it was some Precious Moments thing with a verse that my sister in law read aloud. She could not even get through it, she was so choked up. Every single one of the 20 women in that room was teary except me. All I could think was how lame it was. It was a very isolating moment. Hey, what can you do?
Just to redeem myself a little, I will tell you about a meeting I attended at work. We were meeting with a new employee group of veterans. The woman in charge was telling us that she was wanted to set up a Missing Man Table near the cafeteria, which consists of a small table with a place setting but no one sitting. There are symbolic things on the table, such as salt to represent tears and lemon (bitterness) a rose and other things to make you think of the missing/POW soldier. I had never heard of this, and I swear, I almost lost it on the spot. I understand that these tables are usually at military dinners and events.
I asked my son about it when I came home. He said he had seen that plenty of times, and that in the Marines there is even one in every chow hall every day.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Tax Scare

We went to Cape May this weekend, which was a lot of fun as always. The weather was good old fashioned New Jersey hot and humid. We swam in the very warm Atlantic ocean water. We rode bicycles to the more secluded Higbee beach on the bay side. There were jelly fish all over the place, so we could not go in, but people bring dogs to that beach, and it was fun to watch them splash around in the water. We shopped at an antique store, and I picked up a few things, namely an old flour sifter that goes with my ancient utensil collection, and a darning egg that goes with my old sewing tools collection. We drank boatloads of wine and ate very good food.

When we returned, as if returning wasn't bad enough, we had a piece of correspondence from the New Jersey Division of Taxation. I was expecting a refund of $14, but instead had a bill for $3, 295. My first reaction was naturally terror, but then I thought, this has to be a mistake. I looked at my copy of my tax return, and there was a mistake alright, my own. There are about 12 lines where you repeat the number that reflects the taxes that came out of your paycheck all year. I accidentally put that number in a wrong line, namely the use tax line. That is where you fess up that you bought a large ticket item in another state and you are telling them the tax that you would like to cough up. I guess no one worried about the missing form that is supposed to go with this, or that this use tax ended up being the exact same amount as the income taxes we paid all year.

So, I got ready to write a letter explaining and send it certified mail and hope and pray that they are able to see this obvious mistake and fix it and we won't have to hire a lawyer. Joe said, "Why don't you just try to call them?" but I figured it was a waste of time. No one answers the phone anyway.

Long story short, I did call just for the heck of it, and a person answered the phone and said, "How may I help you?" I nearly fell off my chair. I explained the situation, and she said, "One moment, I'll transfer you to John." John answers the phone on the first ring. I explain the situation, he looks up my records, says, yes, he can see what I did, assures me that I am not the first person to ever do this, and proceeds to fix it on the spot!!!!!!! State government in New Jersey has a long standing reputation for being horrifyingly ineffectual and corrupt, so I had to tell this happy story. I am still amazed.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Response to a Recent Comment

To Frank, thanks for your encouragement about learning Italian. As soon as I get past "Hi, how are you?" (how do you stay?) Maybe I will start looking for some other resources, like some reading material to try and translate, and then maybe I can find myself a conversation group. I recently learned to order a glass of wine at a restaurant. I consider that essential, but my first thought was, wait, I need to order a whole bottle! I now own an Italian-English dictionary.

My husband agreed to learn with me, but I can see he now regrets that. He joked that maybe he would just learn to say, "My wife speaks Italian." He feels that it is impossible to learn a language in a year, and he is right. But, I feel that I can have a pretty good clue by then. We were supposed to watch a lesson twice per week, but that already hasn't happened. Our plan was to do this Sunday and Tuesday, but we both got out of work late yesterday (Tuesday) and we agreed to meet and go food shopping together. By the time we got home it was 8pm, so no one was in the mood to learn Italian at that point.

My husband is a plumber. Sometimes he can get a little bit dirty on the job. Sometimes he gets a lot dirty. I could not believe what he looked like when I met him at the supermarket yesterday. He had just pulled a well pump and was completely splashed with mud. When I spoke to him earlier he said he was going back to the shop to wash up, and he did, but his clothes were still crazy. I like when he comes with me, because we talk and laugh while we shop, so we quickly got into that mode and I forgot about what he looked like, but I wonder what people thought when they saw him. It's just funny to think about.

Back to Italian, what is the deal with those verbs??? You say each verb 20 different ways, depending on who you speak to or who is doing the speaking, and past, present, future, etc. Obviously we have things like this in English, i.e. you go, she goes, she went, but Italian is extreme. Still, I refuse to be daunted!I will soldier on.

So now about Gay, Michigan. I mispoke when I said it was near Copper Harbor. I said that because I didn't feel like looking up the word Keweenaw. Gay is a little town on the eastern side of the Keweenaw penninsula. Copper Harbor is at the tip of the Pennisula, not really that close to Gay. While I was looking to see how to spell Keweenaw, I found that Gay actually has a Wikipedia page, and they have a picture of the Gay Bar sign! I have also learned that they have a 4th of July parade every year, locally known as the Gay parade. Cute.

Thanks to everyone and anyone who has commented lately. It's the only way I know anyone looks at this blog. I was never able to figure out what is wrong with my Google Analytics, so I don't know how many people stop by. One day in the middle of July, 11 people from Brazil looked at it. I have no idea what that is about.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

A Mistake

I just had a look at this blog and found that I had inadvertantly posted a title. No content. That is part of an unfinished post, I'm not sure how just the title alone got posted.

I was out weeding the front garden on Saturday. I want to tell you that I love my garden, and I can't spend as much time as I would like in it. Generally the gardens around here aren't doing very well because of all the rainy, cool weather we've been having. I was anxious to get in there and weed, since the weeds are doing very, very well.

My neighbor comes out of her house and says she is about to leave for the Martin Guitar Fest in Nazareth, PA. She is a guitar freak. She says we should go, (Joe was there) and starts to tell us why this is such a wonderful event. It sounds like it could be fun, but I am commited to working in the garden. She tells me that I should not be working on a Saturday, I should be going to the Martin Guitar Fest, because it is so much fun. I try to tell her that, for me, this is not work. Work is that crap I do all week at the office. She will not let up. She keeps reiterating how amazing this event is, (even for someone who does not play guitar and would rather be in the garden) and finally says she will help me weed the garden later if I go to the guitar fest now.

I just looked up at her, from my squatting position amongst the creeping charlie. I wanted to say, "What can I do right now to get you to leave me the hell alone?" This woman does not work, so she was double pissing me off. She has all day, every day, to do exactly as she pleases. I have maybe one day per week to do what I want and I should stop to go do what she wants? Joe, sensing my feelings, kind of gave her the "yeah, maybe we'll see you over there..." and finally she left. SHEESH!

There are so many things I want to do and seemingly no time for any of it. I'm trying to not worry about it all. I haven't touched my sewing machine in about 5 weeks. I am putting outdoor persuits ahead. It is summer, kind of, after all. I did sit in the yard yesterday and worked on a small section of my epic quilt. At one point I spread it out on the grass to reposition the quiting hoop, and I thought, "This will never get done."

Of course, adding the learn Italian thing to the mix is not helping. You have to pick your priorities, and I have decided that travelling is very important. I have always wanted to learn Italian, and there is no way to learn it except to take the time to do it. I also have books I want to read and movies I want to watch. This used to freak me out a little, but now I am trying to see it as a good thing, to have so many options. I am working on focusing.

Here is another picture from my recent trip. This bar is in Gay, Michigan, near Copper Harbor. I suppose it is meant to be funny. If we mentioned that we had gone to Copper Harbor, people often asked if we had our picture taken at the Gay Bar. I suppose it is quite a landmark!

Saturday, August 1, 2009