Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Why, little ole me?

Given all the blogs out there, I'm sort of shocked to find people reading mine. The purpose of this blog is first and foremost, a writing exercise. I actually do like to write and sometime I have a hard time finishing a complete thought because I'm way on to the next one before I can get it all down. Not an uncommon problem for a person with ADD, but I've taught myself lots of tricks to help get me through (so no comments on my spelling are allowed).

Since I don't have a home computer, there are no pictures to download. I don't advertise the blog like some of my fellow writer friends do. And I have yet to even begin to blog on the initial purpose of this blog which was to be a crafting tourists tour of the city. I mean, if your gonna go to Smiley's, you might as well take a look at the things Queen's has to offer along the way.

So, why would anybody read about my dates? Anyway, since it seems like some people can't help themselves, I would like to lay a few ground rules for comments.

A. Be accurate. For example the previous post mentioned a sidewalk leading to the Queen's side off Roosevelt island, but yet they failed to mention for how long this sidewalk has been closed. That's sort of like telling me that it's easy to peddle accross the GW bridge despite the fact I can't carry my bike up all those stairs (It's a 15 year old Raleigh one speed with foot breaks, not a nice lightweight model) because the bike path has been closed. And no, I can't push it up 5 flights of 2 inch ramps that steep either. Please feel free to try it out, especially after peddling the darn thing from Brooklyn.

B. Be current. I'm a scientist. I always check out the latest information and I happen to love historical background. You don't think i checked out a simple thing like are there bridges in and out of Roosevelt Island? I was on a date and I like to walk and it's a lot easier to kill time moving than sitting still (although the tram isn't a bad thing, but who likes to be in a cattle car crowded with smelly strangers and kids).

C. Don't you dare assume I haven't checked my facts. Let me explain something, I refused to have my name used as an author to a paper because I felt my supervisor was misrepresenting facts. Yes, technically you could say X, but the truth was X was not happening (I was the one there, wasn't I and i would have been the one to benefit if X was happening the most, but I'm too honest to falsify and disrespect my research and hard work by lying) and I don't LIE, mislead, dissimilate or any such thing. Am I perfect, no. But I darn well do the right thing when the right thing needs to be done.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Things NOT to do for July 4th

Okay, I had a date. Not a great date, but he's a sweet guy and nice and dare I say, we'll just be friends.

Anyway, despite having just the one day off, I spent most of the day outside with him. We started off early afternoon going to Governor's Island. He had 2 folding bikes and we peddled all over the island. For a place that's supposed to be bike and pedestrian friendly, they have an awful lot of cars. Okay, they are mostly parked willy-nilly all over the place, but half of the island is still closed off to the public, so that means not as much room and space to peddle around as you might think.

The most distinct feature of the place are the old victorian houses. Small rooms with high ceilings and lots of nooks and cranies. Oddly, these beautifully built houses stand empty except for temporary sculpture exhibits. The oddest feature of these places are the kitchens with metal overpainted cabinets and formica countertops. A few stainless steel appliances and you'll have housing to die for.

In the evening my date had tickets to watch the fireworks from Roosavelt island. The tickets are for seating at the tip of the island past the ruins of the turn of the century smallpox asylum. May I give you a piece of advice, save your money and don't do it. Camp out of the FDR if you must, find a friend with rooftop access or even watch it on TV, but don't give your money to this horrid farce of an event.

Whoever the planner is, should be shot. Although they insisted that everybody be seated for the start of the fireworks, they didn't insist people remain seated and nobody bothered to say your going to have to put your umbrella's away. Needless to say, the thing was ruined by the preponderance of rude people who think because they are paying for something, they deserve the best, forget all the other people paying.

Then the next nightmare began, getting off the island was nearly impossible. This is Roosevelt island. The only way off is by tram or subway. You cannot walk off the island (I would like to know the city planner that needs to be whipped for that lack of insight and planning) on any of the bridges, not even into queens. I can think of few worse ideas that packing into a dangling cattle car stuffed with sweaty tourists and screaming kids to travel over the east river. But the MTA decided that the subways will be restricted to very few people trickling in.

At first, while we were waiting our turn I thought how clever, they are keeping everybody safe from overcrowding on the platforms. But by the time we got down there only to notice the platforms are completely empty, you realize the stupidity of their system. I mean, people didn't even have to stand on the subway, the cars were empty, the platform was empty, and everybody who was dying to get home was outside hoping to be let into the subway.

Save your money. Spend it on beer. Stay home and watch a good sci-fi flick instead (Starwars for the 200th time comes to mind).

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

English Flower Garden Charm

For some reason, I usually knit in the summer, but this summer I'm sewing instead. Maybe because I'm stuck on this knitting project since I really want to do it right. Or maybe because I'm just slightly obsessed with this new quilt project that will only take me about 20 years to complete.

This project is an English Flower Garden. A very traditional quilt that really needs to be done by hand to be done properly. Not difficult for those Victorian women who had nothing much better to do with their days, not the most practical for a person who works 4 jobs and ocassionally tries to have a social life.

Anyway -- The English Flower Garden is nothing more than a bunch of interlocking hexagons. Doesn't sound like a big deal until you realize that to match each point of the hexagon, you need a Y-seam. Since there is no practical way to do a Y seam with a piece of fabric smaller than 4 inches per side, that means get out your 9 sharps and thimbles.

Each piece of the quilt requires several steps. First there is the paper that is cut into hexagons. I chose to do this step the modern way and use freezer paper instead of plain everyday paper. I don't know if this actually saves time or not, but by now, I'm used to it and it suits, so I'm keeping it. i've been using freezer paper off the roll, folding it 8 times at about 4.5 inches and then cutting around my template outline. I'm going to try the straight sheets for printers now that I've finished the roll (but not the hexagons needed) and see if it is more economical or easier.

Once you have your freezer paper hexagon, you can just iron it onto the wrong-side of your fabric, trim the fabric and the seams are ready to be basted. Okay, so the basting takes more time than you think it should and your thread is always getting knots and tangles, but it's a good project for lunch hours.

Once all those steps are done, you get to start sewing them together. My teacher suggested a ladder stitch and it seems to work for me, so I'm just gonna keep doing it this way.

Then again, my personal quilting philosophy is getting in the way. First, I can't make a small quilt. A quilt should always be big and warm and be able to cover a family of 10. The approximate number of hexagons needed for a quilt of approximately king size is 1000. This is good since i've decided to make this quilt into a charm. That means each one of the fabrics used should be unique, no doubling and traditionally charm quilts have 999 different fabrics. Well, deciding isn't quite the right word. I mean I decided to take a charm class and English Paper piecing was suggested as a possible project, and I sort of wanted to do one, but the idea of all that hand work made me think twice. And did I mention since it's an English Flower garden i'm only using floral fabrics (or anything resembling a leaf or floral, viney will certainly do)

Are you starting to get the picture. I just managed to fall into a hole that involves making a king sized hand made quilt with 999 different fabrics about 4.5 inches wide that i really was trying to avoid doing in the first place.

Anyway, I'm around 16% done (each hexagon attached to another is .01% completion) and to finish this rambling project, i decided I will not hand piece a quilt only to machine quilt it in the end. That's right, I'm gonna hand quilt this sucker and I even know I'm gonna fill the thing up with buttefly and bee motifs.

And all this proves is that I am certifiably insane. Then again, how do they ever expect me to finish this quilt in a straight jacket?