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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Radio WANN

If I can just finally finish this darn quilt, I can get back to regularly writing in this Blog.  I’m getting there, too.  All I have left is sewing on the binding, and voila!  I could listen to the radio while I sew, but as you know from my previous post, what I do is watch junk TV.  It’s been a LOT of TV.  I don’t listen to the radio much in the house.  I listen mostly in the car and sometimes in bed at night when I have trouble sleeping. 

I live in the DC suburbs, which means that most radio listening lasts from 20 to 30 minutes, the average time it takes to get from point A to point B.  I listen to a bunch of NPR, and when that gets too intellectual or esoteric, I skip to WTOP which revolves through news, sports, traffic and weather and then repeats.  I like the classical music station, too, especially when the news is disheartening or political rancor reaches an apex.  Been a lot of classical lately unless is slow and droopy.  I want to get to my destination, not pull over to the side of the road for a nap.

What I WANT is a radio station that will have this programming:  Car Talk; Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me (and not just one day a week which is never when I’m driving around); lively classical music, maybe a combination of Sousa marches (is that considered classical?), ballet scores and Viennese waltzes; and also a show devoted to Broadway show tunes.   I can't believe there isn't one already.  That program can play all the music from a single musical or mix up the shows; I don’t care.  What I want is something spirited and upbeat that will keep me slapping my thighs and singing along.  Then every, say, 15 minutes, there will be a break with a short report of news and weather.  Every hour, one of those breaks would be required to report some good news, perhaps a good deed done or someone who saved somebody from a disaster, something that would, you know, help you maintain faith in the human race.

Currently when I turn on the classical station at night, THAT’s when they choose to play vivacious music with maybe a little Dvorak thrown in.  No, no!  At 11:30 PM, I want to SLEEP!  At night they should be broadcasting hour upon hour of lullabies.  The other day I almost bought a baby’s CD of lullabies, but I don’t have a CD player built into my alarm clock/radio, and, heaven knows, I can’t fit anything else on my night table.  I could download the sleepy stuff onto my i-pod, but then I’d have to listen with earplugs, and I must have small ear openings because earplugs hurt by ears.  Plus I defy you to sleep on your side with an earplug stuck in your ear no matter what size your ear is canal is.  Many moons ago, you used to be able to get a mono earplug which could go in the “up” ear, but we are too technologically stuck-up for that now.  Now you can listen to your i-pod in bed only if you sleep on your back.  Not that I’m bitter.

SO there you have it:  funny talking and upbeat music by day, soft, downy tunes by night.  That’s radio WANN, my dream radio.  What’s yours?

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Defining Patience

I quilt.  Yes, as my mother used to say, I cut up pieces of material and sew them back together again.  They say that a quilter has the patience of a saint.  I'm not a saint.  I race through the piecing -- the cutting and sewing of pieces of fabric into the pattern of the quilt top.  At first I cut and pieced by hand piecing which took forever and was not very accurate, but when I learned how to use a rotary cutter, it was a new world.  Now I wheel off slices of fabric at warp speed and sew them together by machine.   I can get a quilt top put together in a couple of days.

Once it’s pieced, the top becomes the top slice of bread in a sandwich.  Batting is the filling, and the bottom slice is a wide, long piece of fabric backing.  The sandwich is quilted together by stitches in a pattern.  Some people do that part by sewing machine, and I have, on occasion, done that.  I don’t have a very good machine, though, and I don’t like to sit hunched over it.   

Instead I quilt by hand.  Yes, I sew every last stitch by hand, and, believe me, there are a lot of them.  I quilt when I’m doing something else like watching TV or, well, TV is about it.  The show takes up most of my attention, and the sewing goes on slightly below the conscious level.  You get into it like you do with any repetitive activity, and I’d name one if I could think of it.  If you think about how much time it will take to make even a baby quilt or how many single stitches you have to take to complete a quilt, you’ll never begin one.  If you just work on it without focusing, well, it’s like that proverbial march of a thousand miles:  it happens one step -- one stitch -- at a time.  Quilting does not take the patience of a saint, my friend says, it takes the patience of an idiot. 

First, you slide the needle in and out, easily, smoothly.  You use a very small, slim needle, and the challenge, to the better quilting, is to see how many stitches you can collect on the needle before you pull it through the fabric.  The quilt I’m currently working on is a collection of appliqued kitties separated (or joined, depending on your viewpoint) by sashing with little black birds on it, shades of Heckle and Jeckle.  The whole thing makes me laugh.

I usually quilt in straight lines or a wandering sort of bee’s path.  For the first time, however, I have a quilt that lends itself to using a stencil I bought long ago and have stored for years in the bottom of the closet.  The stencil is the kind of old fashioned pattern I’ve long wanted to use.  A wreath of leaves encircles the backing beneath each kitty, and vines travel up and down the sashing. 

I have to admit I like the pleasant mental fog of watching Judging Amy reruns while my needle goes in and out, up and down.   I try to solve Inspector Morse's  latest murder while the leaves take form, the circles complete themselves.  It’s not a quick process.  You have to be stubborn. 

But the patience of a saint?  The patience of an idiot?  Oh, dear, are those the only choices?