Thursday, July 19, 2007

Holy Dalmatians, Batman!

Please, name me a mother-to-be, even a non-ironic one, who wouldn't be charmed by this set. I mean, c'mon. Dogs, bugs and polka dots, with Vanagons thrown in for extra fun?

Ashley very kindly directed me toward Heather Bailey's stuff, which is flippin' adorable, and that led me accidentally to find Heather Ross' stuff, seen here (I also discovered Joel Dewberry in the hunt: yum yum yum yum yum!), and it just so happens that the colleague plus told me today: they will not know the gender until birth and they really like blue and yellow, but not standard baby blue and yellow. I think this fits the bill very nicely. I will get two fat quarter sets, so I can minimize the pink, and then I can't pass up the dalmatians as backing and probably the yellow background dogs as a border. Or something like that.

Thanks again for the kind comments and words of mathly wisdom. Dar is a serious friend for telling me what NOT to study. I promise to bring only the one mathy book on my trip (not my FOURTH, Stefaneener, just our second of three in a month).

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

10 to the power of 10 Thanks

You all are just the nicest friends and family ever. I'm deeply appreciative for all the comments. Really. They mean a lot. Thanks.

VIRGO (August 22-September 21): Bad timing and a bad mouth (yours?) have conspired to make the past month an uphill battle. You learned from that experience. Maybe you'll schedule a rematch. And maybe not. Whatever, a new teddy bear trick can be turned to advantage. Expect assistance from an unlikely friend. Take it and run.

Seriously, that is my horoscope for this week. Uncanny.

The guy I spoke with at Kaplan after the test acted as though I had put out my own eye on a whim. This was NOT helpful, but he did acknowledge that I had my game on until I freaked out, and he did suggest a book that Spouse was kind enough to pick up for me today.

That is the advice with which I will run. It is perfect, and in just 20 minutes or so a day from now until THE FINAL TEST DATE, I can get more confident of the hard problems (GMAT and GRE share very similar quant sections).

And at the same time I'm gently reviewing, I can be on vacation, which is what I'm up to as of 5:00pm Friday. Spouse's cousin and good friend of self Pam and her teenage son Paul are arriving for Friday and Saturday, and then just myself, aforementioned Spouse, Teen Princess, JMan and Cal the Wonderdog are off to the mountains to stay in a dome house for a week. My plan is to read a bunch, but I may need yarn. I could totally do a pair of socks in a week.

Also, I seek advice. I have a co-worker who is sweet as sugar, and who does not do cool and/or ironic. She is with child. I should, I really should, make something Peter Rabbitish, like this one I did a couple of years ago. But...well. Yawn. And also, what was I thinking with the colors? The blue is just NOT OK.

Anybody seen ReproDepot's latest stuff? So incredibly cool. And so not this mama.

Maybe just solids, with one fun print for the backing and binding?

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Just Don't Ask Me About It, OK?

You've all been so kind and supportive about The Test. It did not go well. I did very well in the beginning, so kept getting harder and harder questions, and suddenly found myself completely bogged down and started to panic. I finally just abandoned ship when it was clear that there was no way I'd finish with a higher score. It was not a great moment in my life, but it was certainly a growth experience.

I will give it one more try at the next open date, August 3, and if that doesn't fly, I'm throwing in the towel and relying on the rest of my package to get me into school.

Unfortunately, that means I'm not shopping for fabrics tonight...

Friday, July 13, 2007

Fiberish Thoughts

Readers not recently in school may have to stretch to remember, but I think it's universal to have an overwhelming urge for frippery and fun while one is supposed to be studying. And, true to form, with 3 days to go until the GRE, all I can think about is quilting. Every factored polynomial I encounter makes me think of squares, every geometry problem conjures up images of different blocks I know.

I have to go in to work right after the big test, but I think I will reward myself with a trip to the fabric store that evening, and just pony up for pretty pretty things that will make a baby quilt. Yes, I like that plan. I will not even glance at my stash first, nor will I give myself lectures about unfinished objects crying out to be done.

I'm also dying to work in the garden, after all the beautiful blooming spots we saw in the Midwest. Unfortunately, peak dig in the dirt seasons here are April and October, so I have to wait a bit, but I have plans. And they involve flowers.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Nebraska: Not as Flat as You Might Think

We are finishing up a lovely stay at friends Eric and Rose's house in Lincoln, NE. Their garden is a thing of wonder, surpassed only by their hospitality.

My new camera BROKE at a Cedar Rapids Kernels game. Thank goodness for Costco, who promise they will take it back just as soon as I get home, and for E&R's camera, which got the below shots at the Saltdogs game last night. Both minor league teams lost ugly (note useless rally caps in the ninth), but we coastal folk were very impressed by the stadiums, food, and especially the crowds at both games.

Did other coastal urban readers know, for instance, that Midwesterners are silent as the grave, a whole stadium full of standing, completely silent fans, while the colors are marched onto the field, the anthem is sung (no hooting at the high notes, either!) and colors are marched off the field. It was quite moving, both times.

Free parking right outside the gate? Check. Playgrounds and lawn seating for families with small kids? Got it. Ticket prices the same or less than a movie? Yup. We sat six people 5 rows back dead center behind home plate at the Saltdogs game for $65. Holy mackerel. Ice cream sandwiches were cheaper at the stadiums than they are at the corner store at home.

If you live in the Midwest, and haven't seen a minor league game, GO NOW. You are blessed and should know it!

In addition to two ball games in eight days, we've watched three fireworks shows (one in E&R's back yard, which thrilled our fireworks-deprived kids no end), seen two movies, eaten some delicious food both in and out (this just in: corn!), toured two college campuses, hit a local farmers' market (corn!), and solved most of the world's problems over coffee.

I feel totally unprepared to go back to the real world tomorrow.

Friday, July 06, 2007

I (HEART) Iowa

Though I am regularly told that I don't, couldn't possibly, I really do love to be in Iowa. Though it's completely impossible, absurd, I love the humidity. And although no one from California could ever, I think it's one of the most beautiful places I get to see.

Yesterday we got to spend some time at Indian Creek Nature Center, on the outskirts of Cedar Rapids. It was, to my weird eye, breathtakingly beautiful. The restored prairie was pristine, flowers in abundance, butterflies and dragonflies everywhere.

On July 4th we passed up the opportunity to see all of a spectacular fireworks show for a chance to chase fireflies and see just the top of the explosions (there are no fireflies in California, they are a great treat).

Maid-Rite, in Marion, has delicious sandwiches and out of this world onion rings. And hey! They've discovered macaroni salad!

I (HEART) iced tea, too.

Today is a trip to University of Iowa for our first ever college tour.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Erratum

I made the camp sound like Bible camp, and it wasn't. It was pretty secular, except they made the kids behave better than usual and there was grace before dinner and there were God songs. So for those of you picturing "Jesus Camp," no, not so much.

We're off to Hawkeye country tomorrow, for 8 days. Four in Iowa and four in Nebraska. I will miss jaunts to see all the lovely Midwestern bloggers, alas, alas, but will share the same weather with you and wave at you in the distance. Photos anon(ish).

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Retail Therapy

This is a rambling post. Flee now, while you still can, unless you have some spare time.

The Teen Princess has returned from what she describes as The Episcopal Camp from H-E-Double Toothpicks (did you know that someone has re-lyriced We Will Rock You to be titled We Will Praise You? This was not OK with her.) There were good moments, but she is happy to be back among her heathen family, and after sleeping 12 hours last night agreed to join me on a trip to retail heaven: Broadway Plaza in Walnut Creek.

Backstory: I needed a bathing suit. I am not grossly overweight, but I have some rather severe cellulite issues that make shopping for a swimsuit traumatic. Seriously, I don't find shopping for clothing all that awful, but baring my thighs makes me wonder if I have some kind of disease. Anyway, for all of my adult life I have made do with inexpensive bathing suits to fit the budget, and just let the thigh problem hang out there. But I hate going swimming, as you might imagine. This year, we are a two-income family for the first time since 1995, I am undeniably in my mid-40's, and I felt it was time for me to upgrade my swimming attire before our upcoming vacation trips. So we needed to go to Nordstrom (a West Coast Bloomingdale's, essentially).

Broadway Plaza is a phenomenon unlike anything I've ever seen. Well, no. I've seen it once before: Downtown Disney. It is a retail amusement park, carefully designed for maximum spending satisfaction, highest possible chance of getting lost in front of the most expensive stores, and plenty of places to find very expensive noshing material.

But it has a Nordstrom. And truth be told, it's fun and clean and comfortable and visually appealing, just like Downtown Disney. TP whispered that we'd gone over to the dark side of humanity, but then she pulled me into Crate and Barrel, right before we hit Starbucks.

At Nordstrom I tried on 10 suits, including one which didn't have a price tag - how much could it be, really?

Mostly it was just awful in that dressing room. Awful. Then the last suit (I was near tears), the one without a tag, made me look 10 pounds lighter and 5 years younger than I look on a good day. It was going to be purchased even if it was the equivalent of two car payments. It turned out it wasn't quite, but it was the most expensive piece of clothing I've ever bought, except my wedding dress (which, actually, I didn't buy, so that doesn't count). However, with a kicky sarong, I am now a pool babe. So it balances out.

I spotted this set at C&B, and was inspired. I have to make a baby quilt before winter, for a co-worker, and this looks just adorable and incredibly easy. I could do it in an afternoon, and probably will (different fabrics, but you get the idea).

And we took more photos (geez, you can set the f stop on this camera, and EVERYthing - I ended up in a lengthy camera conversation with a waitress this morning, during which we traded stories about how marvelous our Nikons were - who needs a man?, she said):