Author of the Queen City Boys books


Beautiful to a reader, better to a writer

Miniature of Istanbul (Historical Peninsula)I few weeks ago I stumbled across Alex Jeffers’ Tattooed Love Boys in the Wilde Stories 2013 collection. I love short stories and speculative fiction but I find often that I enjoy a story while reading it, but forget it not long after shutting the book. Tattooed Love Boys stuck with me. Sure, it was about tattoos, beautiful boys, angels (maybe), and gender switching, which are basically the things I love most. But the writing in this story set a mood and tone that was what made the story stick with me. It had a dreamy quality that made the reader, like the characters, not question the weirdness.

Immediately I went out and got Jeffers’ The Padishah’s Son and the Fox which is both delightful and disgusting. Telling an ‘erotic’ fairytale with all the gruesome darkness of true fairytales, with many unexpected turns the story left me completely satisfied as a reader. The storytelling is lovely, giving you a genuinely visceral response, both positive and negative.

Though wonderful neither of these stories had the length and depth for me to completely immerse myself in, to forget myself in. Luckily the next I picked up was The Abode of Bliss. I read it in two sittings, interrupted only by the need to interact with my family and to sleep. Given the chance I would have read it straight through. Though I was emotionally overwrought when I finished it, so maybe it’s best that I had time to reflect on it when I finished (easily done as I was on a plane).

3597187161_1dcfb09bc4_oThe Abode of Bliss by turns made me laugh and made me weep. Reading it I felt both lonely and loved, and was filled with longing, both sexual and romantic. The prose is poetic though not overblown or contrived. It is evocative and heartfelt but with an emotional distance, as if the story teller is remembering, that allows careful observation. But still I felt close enough to be pulled into the remembered emotions, to cheer and cry for Ziya. I felt entirely inside his world, inside him, a character made up only of a words on a page.

This is how I hope to write. Some day I want to be practiced enough to feel confident that I can tell stories this intense, this clearly crafted, stories that sound this true no matter how made up they are. Here’s the thing about storytelling: it’s all made up, even when it’s true. As far as I can tell, Jeffers isn’t Turkish, (he says in his end note that he’s never been there) but somehow he manages to utterly transport me to Turkey. And carry me there inside the mind of character who feels completely authentic, so fleshed out as to be entirely real, utterly believable.

Jeffers’ books have reminded me that writing what you know is shit advice, it always has been. If people only wrote what they know we’d never have Madame Bovary, or War and Peace, we certainly wouldn’t have Star Trek or Harry Potter.  My own stories, at this point, are merely dirty little tales, with characters hopefully polished enough that readers will love them so much that they feel what the characters feel. They, at their core, stories of young men finding a sense of community in eras before my time. They are stories about things I have no experience of, having never been a young man in the 1980s. But these are the stories I have to tell, the characters who live in my head. So I will do my best to do them justice.

Reading The Abode of Bliss was pure joy as a reader, exactly what I needed for my vacation, to be entirely transported out of my own world. As a reader I couldn’t ask for more out a book.  As a writer I’m thrilled to find books like this that inspire me to try and make my stories much better than they are now.  Books that encourage me to keep writing the stories that come to me. Stories of cities I have never lived in, of people I am not and do not know. I will sleep tonight dreaming if Ziya in Turkey. I will wake tomorrow ready to better practice my craft, to more skillfully use words to bring readers into the world I created.

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Almost making it

So ever since I saw the movie I have been thinking about the striped sweater that Kristen Wiig wears on the plane in Bridesmaids.

Of course it’s no longer in stores and all the similar ones I can find are priced way out of anything I can afford.  So I set out to make it.  How hard could it be, anyway?  It’s like three pieces of fabric.

Test run #1 wasn’t the right fabric, but close enough.  I used a shirt pattern I already had and tried to guess about how it should be broken up between stripes and black.  The end result is wearable, although just not quite there yet:

But it’s close and super comfortable and it’s the first tee shirt I’ve ever made!  Sewing with knits is not fun.  Seriously do not like it.  But the end result is good enough that I’m definitely keeping it.  My second attempt I drafted my own pattern and found better fabric.  Alas the pattern fit was wonky and way off and the fabric shrunk like crazy when washed.  Still it is also wearable if not exactly perfect:

So close and yet still so far.  I might make one final run on this.  Redraft the pattern, keep hunting for the right fabric and eventually end up with the unbelievably simple shirt.  Or maybe I’ll just give up and be happy with what I have.  I mean I know how to sew tee shirts now.  A whole new world of sewing is open to me!

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The amazing sense of accomplishment even finishing something simple brings

I started a dress last fall, or late last summer, with some fabric that I loved.  Alas it was really the wrong fabric for the pattern (wrong weave, wrong weight), I tried lining it with little success, I cut the pockets wrong and sewed them in way too high, couldn’t get the back to fit together.  What’s known in the industry as a wadder.  Wad it up and throw it away in frustration.  So it’s been hanging on the works in progress rack forever, taunting me.  Yesterday I cut it up and made it into a blouse.

Most of my blouses are more of a cutesy, 40s-ish style, which I love, but maybe I’ve been needing something a little more grown up lately.  So here’s the end result:

I’m actually fairly pleased with the fit and the drape.  A nice silk would have been better.  I might make another of these, though, because I’m actually pretty happy with how it turned out.  I think this will be good with jeans too and maybe even shorts in summer.  And this pic doesn’t really do justice to the colors of the actual blouse. It’s definitely more teal and purple, with nice neutral tan and grey in the alternating stripes.  YAY I SEWED SOMETHING ALL THE WAY TO THE END.  I think I can do this again someday.  Very satisfying.

Pattern (Simplicity 2594) and line drawing:

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Right out of the gate

Hello, 2012!  You look fantastic!

First project started: Love Letter From an Occupant.  This will be predominantly a visual project.  Go follow it with your own Tumblr or add it to your feed reader or bookmark to read later and then ignore it.  Or you can ignore it right out, I don’t mind.  I will probably set this up so it streams to Facebook directly, though hopefully not intrusively.  Probably I will add a wrap up of what happens over there here periodically as well.

I am actually glad for Facebook’s existence.  It’s allowed me to better keep up with my family than I ever could, and brought me back in touch with people that I am thrilled to have found.  But frankly it makes me lazy on the internet.  I have been actively participating in online communities in a variety of ways since about 1992.  It has opened doors to me, introduced me to many of my friends and made me creative in ways I never could have imagined.  I think Facebook actually damages a lot of that.  It’s easy to thoughtlessly toss up a picture, or a quick status and stop thinking about why things are being shared or taking the time to really write about things.  I can’t give up Facebook because it is my main connection with some folks and that’s okay, but I am spreading out more this year than I have for the past couple years.

To some extent I’ve been locked up inside myself for the last 30 months or so.   I am thankful that I’ve had the time for introspection and the chance to find myself again.  Now I need to stretch a little creatively and a little personally.  The Tumblr project is personal.  I know from past year’s experimenting that I can’t do a picture a day or anything that requires specific time commitments, but there are pictures, narratives and imagery that I’d like to be sharing more thoughtfully and hopefully this project will be the beginning of that.

I am ready to go, are you? Let’s go! Let’s go!

Seattle horizons. December 23, 2011.


Silk reconstruction

I was looking back through posts here the other day and I realized I am WAY BEHIND on sewing blogging.  It’s not that I’m not finishing things, I just keep forgetting to photograph them.  So here’s a couple refashions.  The first one the ‘before’ pic is more than a year old.  The shirt’s been finished for at least six months.


Silk blouse, pretty but boxy and just not quite me.


I shortened the sleeves and used the leftover over fabric to put an elasticized panel around the waist, lengthening the top and making it more fitted. YAY, I love it now!


I got this beautiful silk dress for $3.50.  It’s really lovely silk, but not at all my style.  I feel like I’m auditioning for Little House on the Prairie.


I shortened the sleeves and re-purposed the ties that held the waist back into trim for the hem.  I have enough of the silk from the dress part left to make a skirt, or more likely a little sleeveless shell.

As soon as we get through the holidays I’m going to make a concerted effort to get at least one project a week photographed so I can get it up here.

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Adventures in substitutions

It’s a cold, cold winter night here, so I did the only thing one can do, cooked and baked until the house was warm and smelled good.

Quinoa Red Lentil Soup

I used this recipe (the stove top version which only took about 35 minutes) which came highly recommended from a trusted friend.  I saw it and thought, oh I have all those things, I’ll make that.  HAHAHAH!  Well, I had quinoa and red lentils.  Of the spices I only had fresh ginger, paprika, cumin and thyme.   So I used those and substituted 2 tbl of green curry paste for everything else.  Also I didn’t have any of those vegetables, so I used a yellow onion, diced, a yellow squash (the zucchini like kind), also diced and a can of diced tomatoes and a couple cloves of garlic, finely chopped.  I did follow the directions pretty closely, despite all the substitutions.   At the end of cooking I also put half of it through the blender until it was smooth and added it back in with the rest (a secret that improves 85% of soups).

I think it turned out great.  Would be excellent with a dollop of sour cream but there’s few things that isn’t true about.

Apple cake

2 eggs
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 cup applesauce
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp pumpkin spice
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3 apples, peeled & chopped

Directions:  In large bowl, beat eggs, applesauce and oil until smooth.  Add sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, pumpkin spice, baking soda, salt and mix well.  Add flour, beat until smooth. Fold in apples. Pour into greased and floured 9 by 13 pan. Bake at 350F degrees for 50-55 minutes.

I substituted Bob’s Red Mill all-purpose gluten-free baking flour.  Also I normally would do 3/4 cup applesauce and no oil, but I was unsure about this flour mixture, because I’ve never used it and I figured a little oil might help.

I’ve used previous versions of this recipe (I seem to reinvent it every year, whole wheat flour, less sugar, no oil, now gluten-free) to make muffins for which it is excellent.   The original recipe called for 2c sugar and a cinnamon and sugar glaze, but I really prefer things less sweet.  You should experiment until it tastes how you like.

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Rest my weary head

I have been completely over hauling my tiny bedroom to make it more colorful and more comfortable since winter is inevitable and bed should always be welcoming at the end of a cold day.  I’m 98% done and pictures of the whole thing soon enough. Today I made throw pillows for the bed:

This is made from the curtain that I didn’t end up using the room, deep teal canvas.  I applied the stencil repeating diagonally with fabric paint.  the back is a soft, dark brown stretch twill.

This is made from the piece of cream canvas left over from the curtains I did hang.  I painted the stencil on with fabric paint, did a terrible job of masking it, got paint everywhere and hand embroidered some stitches into the design to cover the paint flubs.  I wanted yellow or brow piping on this, but I didn’t have either in the house and I’m making an effort to use what I have laying around, rather than buying more stuff.  I’m actually really pleased with how the blue looks, though I do think yellow would have been great to highlight the stitching.  The back side of this is piece from the sheets currently on the bed so I can pretend it all ties together.

And here they are on the bed!  YAY!  The pinwheel quilted pillow in the middle was made by my friend Michael Frazier, about a decade ago.  He has since died, but this pillow always makes me smile and think of him.  I think he’d like the pillows I made today too.

Hooray for pillows! And for projects finished.  Now to get back to the 10,000 other things on my weekend to-do list that still aren’t done.

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Busily sewing Lisettes

I’ve been working on several sewing projects at once, which kind of is and isn’t a good idea.  I am slowly sewing my way through every premutation of Simplicity’s Lisette 2211:

I started with a muslin, in some unlikely colored fabric I had sitting around:

I left off the sleeves and edged it in black bias tape.  The pattern calls for buttons on the faux placket detail, but I thought with this fabric it actually looked better without them.


I’ve actually worn this a bunch.  Despite the fabric’s weird chartreuse coloring and pattern, it’s really comfortable and summery.  YAY!

I didn’t set out to make exactly the skirt on the envelope.  I’m trying not to buy fabric rather just sew with what I have on hand, and what I had looks just like the envelope:

This pattern runs really big.  I went down two sizes from what I originally cut in the skirt and I will probably have find a way to sneak some elastic into the back waistband or something to make it comfortably wearable.  The top has some nice details which are kind of lost in the fabric I picked:

I haven’t tried it yet, but I suspect the blouse will get some wear untucked and belted with jeans or something.  I just really love it’s funny little Art Nouveau print and care not all that it’s really too busy for this pattern.

I have the shift dress cut out from this pattern as well, in some grey cotton twill.  I’ve been having trouble deciding on a color to go on the collar/placket, as everything I’ve picked looks too matronly or too twee.  Hoping to finish it this week.

I have been working the long promised bird dress as well.  It’s nearly done, just needs hemming and finishing on the sleeves and neck.  However, I’ve decided to forgo the tie belt the pattern calls for and make my own self fabric belt with a buckle.  This will surely end up being more work than the whole dress, but hopefully it’ll be worth it.

This weekend I also made a little tunic out of a pretty remnant I got for a couple dollars:

I used Simplicity’s Cynthia Rowley 2586.  Holy cow, is there a lot of ease in this!  This is down two sizes from what my measurements said I should cut and I’ll probably take another 3 inches out of the side seams before I wear this out.  I’m really glad I muslined this.  My plan is to make a dress from it next and I would have been swimming in huge tent if I’d done that!

Last month’s wadder is still hanging around.  I’m thinking I might try and recut it into the Cynthia Rowley pattern.  Hopefully I can mange that with out confusing myself too much and destroying all the fabric.

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Things made and unmade

I’d show you pictures of sewing projects this weekend, but alas, there’s nothing to show.  Still working on the same dress I was working on last weekend.  I think so far I’ve ripped out more feet of stitches than I’ve successfully sewed.  Great for a patterned advertised as ‘One Hour.’  I’m about 6 hours into it right now.  As far as I can tell it’s going to look like a sack when I finish.  Still I persevere!  Maybe next weekend I’ll finish.

For your jolt of color, here is my new summer weight bedspread!  I tried to make curtains out of my previous summer weight bedspread, which I messed up so bad it basically became rags,  YAY ME! Luckily that meant getting a bright new one.  This is basically the weight of two sheets together, so total weight on me is an airy, breathable, nothing, but allows me to pull the covers up to my chin (as is my wont) even on hot, Southern summer nights!

My browsing for a new bedspread gave me this, which I now really want for when the weather gets cooler.  And of course I’d need this to hang in the bedroom.  It’s sweltering in Tennessee and I’m fantasizing about an autumnal, Moroccan interior design.  Of course then I’d need all new rugs.  And maybe a new lamp.  It seems unreasonable to think about this now, but I am seriously considering buying these things slowly over the summer and stockpiling them for a dramatic room transformation when fall comes.

I did manage to make a website this weekend for my friends, The Magnificent Others. Their album is going on sale soon and you should totally get it.  It’s rock n’roll for people who like rock n’roll, yeah?

Now it’s on to a week of work with hopefully a few short days that I can sneak something creative into, or maybe a festive fire in which I burn the simple dress that is taking me far too long to create!

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Some days you can do nothing but sew

Dress in a day!  Hooray!  Today I made this Donna Karan Vogue 1236 pattern:

This is a toile for a future dress.  It is a definite win, the ever elusive wearable muslin:

I made it out of a lightweight cotton in a purple, black and blue stripe.  I think the fabric looks a little homespun, in a nice way.  I was trying it on with my Converse as I was sewing and was pleased with it as lightweight summer running around dress.

I tried dressing it up too:

And then I wore it around the house undone, which is maybe a little too tent-like to wear outside of the house unbelted:

I am happy with how this turned out, but I will probably cut down the pattern a size or maybe two for the final dress.  This works, but doesn’t exactly need to be quite this big!  I will probably make the wide belt pictured in the pattern as well, but I was very short on fabric for this go around.

I also finished a few alterations I had lying around this weekend too.  It’s nice to finally make a dent in things I mean to get done.  And!  I took pictures of my house in a semi-clean, semi-put together state and will hopefully get those uploaded this week.  And pictures from my trip a couple weeks ago.  I guess I still have some projects but need to put some dents in.

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Some salty goodness and some bitter horror

There is not ever enough poetry in the world.  Here is some for your (hopefully) warm spring day:


It was passed from one bird to another,
the whole gift of the day.
The day went from flute to flute,
went dressed in vegetation,
in flights which opened a tunnel
through the wind would pass
to where birds were breaking open
the dense blue air –
and there, night came in.

When I returned from so many journeys,
I stayed suspended and green
between sun and geography –
I saw how wings worked,
how perfumes are transmitted
by feathery telegraph,
and from above I saw the path,
the springs and the roof tiles,
the fishermen at their trades,
the trousers of the foam;
I saw it all from my green sky.
I had no more alphabet
than the swallows in their courses,
the tiny, shining water
of the small bird on fire
which dances out of the pollen.

Pablo Neruda


I have BIG plans for the 3-day weekend.  I don’t know what they are yet as the first thing on my to-do list for this evening is ‘make plans for the weekend,’ but I bet they will be great.  Hopefully they will involve home organizing/cleaning, sewing sewing sewing (embroidery included in this category), sleeping perhaps more than would seem normal for a human being, walking around in the out of doors (cicadas might limit this),  talking to my mom on the phone and generally relaxing and pretending the world doesn’t exist.  I will probably watch P.S. I Love You as an emotional outlet (and because it’s a good movie).  I will hopefully have plenty of time to read Deathless because so far I am enjoying it immensely (it’s like poetry in it’s own way).

What I will not be doing is work, returning your phone calls (unless you’re my mom or sister), or sewing anything that looks like this:

I did include a link in case you want to sew it.  But I will think less of you if you do.  I’m fascinated with it, like a horror movie you can’t look away from.

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Making do with what I have and doing it well

Back from vacation.  Barely keeping up to speed on my new work position (that’s not true, but it’s been taxing).  Feeling creative but there’s laundry and dishes and blah blah blah.  No time to sew.  But hey, I can frame some of my favorite fabric to brighten up my kitchen, right?

Now I need to finish the dress with this fabric.  And I was thinking a top too.  And throw pillows if there’s enough left.  That all should be enough bizarre matching plant me firmly into crazy old lady status.  Still I’m very excited about framing fabric I love instead endlessly trying to search out art I want on my non-existent budget.  And fabric is what I love.  Now I’m so pleased with this that I just need to stop myself from digging through my stash and framing it everywhere.


Movies, books and needle books

Was a slow, relaxing, mostly wasted weekend. Lots of reading, walking and a some chores, not much else.

I did go see Thor on Sunday with Talks to Owls.  I enjoyed it thoroughly.  My only complaints were that his transformation was a little abrupt and barely shown and I think Alexander Skarsgård should have played Loki to up the eye candy and keep me even more amused. The actor playing Loki was too whiny and not nearly mischievous enough.  I feel that Skarsgård could have done a much better job at being trickstery.  Overall worth the price of admission though.  I forget how much I like going to the movies.  I wish the good theater by my house would reopen.  Stupid flood damage keeping me from movies for more than a year.

Hi Alex! Glad to have a thin excuse to post a picture of you!

I also read  the Hunger Games trilogy.  A fast but riveting read.  Highly recommended. Like I can’t stop thinking about it and harassing my friends to read it so they will talk to me about it.

And I didn’t touch any of sewing projects I have around the house in various states of doneness, but I did make a little felt book for my embroidery needles out of some scrap denim and silk I had lying around.  I’m pretty pleased with it. And Talks to Owls just got me these owl scissors  so I’m be all ready to get embroidering!

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The usual round up of uselessness

There is a lot to say about politics right now and wars and the state of our country.  But I think I am going to stick to sewing a books for a while, with a little cooking and weather added in.  Since that’s mostly what I focus on anyway.

That said, I find this meme hilarious.  I don’t know if it’s the picture, or the sentiment of just how unimportant the “Birther” BS is, or what but I find hilarious every time I see it:

I’d also like to take a second to say GO NAVY, and thank everyone who has ever served for my country, most especially those related to me (only because their stories seem more immediate to me).


I cut the fabric last night for toile for the dress I’m going to make with this fabric.  So I’ve barely started on the dress before the dress.  Still I’m excited.  Talks to Owls gave me the fabric for my birthday LAST year and I’ve been reluctant to cut it, but once I master the fitting on the toile, I think it’s finally time.

It’s also interesting looking back at those optional color palettes from 14 months ago, as those are essentially the colors I chose for my house fully a year later.  I’m consistent, apparently.


I’m curious about this line from Levi’s.  I can’t find an offical site for it (“coming this summer”), but I will probably check it out.  I don’t commute by bike or anything.  I’m just very interested in clothing seemingly designed for function and durability.  One would think all clothing would be designed at least for durability.  And surely it once was but we’ve moved far, far away from that place.  One of the things about sewing for yourself is you can make something as lasting or as disposable as you choose (one would hope for lasting, not just from an environmental standpoint, but if you’re going to put a bunch of hours into something I would hope it would be useful for a long time).

I haven’t yet been brave enough to try and sew my own jeans yet, but I’m getting there.  And I’m definitely thinking about a fit and comfort, but also about functionality and durability.  And back to the new Levi’s line, also fabric that’s more resistant to dirt and water? Sounds great to me! Especially paired with a very classic, clean looking design.  I might have to get one of those jackets when they become available. Or at least get my hands on some of this line just to feel if it’s all hype and just more cheaply made stuff or if maybe we are making a cultural swing back towards useful, durable clothing.

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Housedress extravaganza

This is my old Target housedress that I have worn thin in places.  It’s perfect for lounging and pulling something on fast, but I’ve been wanting a cotton version of it for humid summer Southern days.  I found some ridiculous border print peacock quilting cotton and took a few evenings to pattern out and sew my own version of it.  I finished up all the details of it this past weekend.

And the back:

The cotton is definitely a little stiffer than the original rayon dress, but I think after a couple washings it’ll be just fine.  I’m very pleased with how this turned out.  There may be another one in my future in something cotton but with a softer hand.


I got amazing a lovely birthday day wishes and gifts from so many of people this weekend.  In lieu of actual content  here’s pictures of a just a few of them:

Handmade table runner and pretty bowl!

Le Creuset cassole dish getting it's first use.

And, yep, that all pretty much sums up my weekend!  Sewing and eating.  Oh I also read a book, The Painted Boy by Charles de Lint, which I’d highly recommend but only if you’re already into YA magic realism already.  Had a great Friday night birthday party at the Family Wash, missed everyone who wasn’t there, most especially my family.  More house pictures and birthday pictures just as soon as everything is all unpacked at home (that’s soon, I swear it is).

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In which I read, so you don’t have too.

I feel like in any given week I vacillate between trying to finish all the half-watched series in my Netflix queue and to finish all the books, well, just all the books.  This week it’s books.  I spent all of Sunday finishing Justin Cronin’s The Passage.  Multiple fails on my part here.  I didn’t (as is my tendency) research the book at all.  So it’s probably safe to say that if I’d known it was the first in a trilogy and I ‘d known it was 800 pages long going in (it’s always hard to tell on a Kindle which is something they really should fix) I might have felt differently about the book.  But honestly it would have benefited from an editor able to make it 200 pages shorter.  But it wasn’t just my not knowing.  The author failed as well, I think.  The first 250 or so pages were amazing, excellent, well written and engaging.  And then I spent the rest of the book waiting for it to get good again.  Not only did it not get good again, it didn’t end (the trilogy thing).  Incredibly frustrating.  And I was perhaps so disappointed in the decline of the story as it went along that I doubt I’ll bother with the next 800 page bit he puts out, trilogy or no, I just don’t care enough now to even find out what happens.  Cronin’s writing is engaging enough that you keep turning pages, assuming the good part is just around the corner, but it never was.  And the characters in the second part of the book are flat and flaccid, not vibrant like those in the beginning.   For some satisfaction after I finished reading, I went and read a bunch of Amazon reviews and many folks felt the same way I did: starts strong, winds away into nothing.  And I kept pushing through in hopes of it improving, of some of the new characters turning out to be likable, but alas.  Fortunately I think I needed a restful day and now I’m done so I won’t waste any more days on that book and  can start a new one from the dozens in the ‘waiting to be read’ pile.  Or I guess that should read waiting to be read “pile,” since it’s all on my Kindle and not actually in a pile like we used to keep books in the olden days.

Yesterday I had a 45 minute wait in the doctor’s office I spent much of it with my eyes closed trying to remember the best parts of The Passage all that came to me was fleeting images of Colorado autumn, or what the walk to the Zoo in Memphis is like, or glasses of tea on hot summer, water beading on the sides.  So I’ll grant Mr. Cronin that he does an excellent job places descriptions and has a way with words, but now, a few days later, none of the characters have stuck with me at all.

After reading up on The Passage I fell down the Amazon rabbit hole and started reading customer reviews of the book I intend to read next.  Which is either brilliant and amazing, or dumb, confusing and derivative. So now do I want to read it so I can feel superior to the people who didn’t get that it was brilliant, or will I read it and wonder why I wasted my time? And this, my friends, is why I always go into book blind, or with a few words of rec from friend and not much more.

Because I’ve been sewing so many utilitarian, solid colored skirts I haven’t been posting pictures.  I mean you saw the one, right? The other look the same but better.  Basic staples.  I don’t need to show you pictures, in the same way I don’t give you the recipe when I make mashed potatoes.  Still I am doing stuff so here’s a quick shot of what’s currently half done on the sewing table:

Only the bodice is actually done, the ‘skirt’ here is just folded fabric.  It will be a kimono sleeve, empire waist summer dress when it’s done.  But look how pretty, the fabric!!  Wheee!

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it’s only thrifty if you save money, not if you spend money you otherwise wouldn’t have

So I probably spend way more in thrift stores than is reasonable.  But I guess If I am going to buy things I don’t need, it’s better to spend $3.99 on them than say $39.99.  I recently hit the Goodwill in Berry Hill, producer of the awesome Blowfish boots.

A few weeks ago, Talks to Owls and I were hiking and I was wearing my favorite Converse One Star camp shirt (I have two actually, one in grey and one in purple, I think I was wearing the purple one) to keep the sun off, because I’d rather wear long sleeves than sunscreen.  I was lamenting my choice and saying I needed to hit a thrift store or two and get some light cotton, WHITE button up shirts for my summer sun screen use.  Guess what the Goodwill turned up yesterday?  My exact Converse shirt, in my size, in white, looking as if had never been worn (and perhaps it hadn’t there was a bunch of other Target stuff there that still had the original tags in it) for $3.99.

Some days you just can’t lose.

Unless of course after going through all the shirts, you hit up the misc. section and start looking through framed pics for your walls.  Sure I found a great pair of 30s-ish, Grandma looking prints of magnolias to put up in my kitchen (pictured above), but am I the only person who could possibly buy the exact same piece of art in two separate thrift stores? Yep, the long rectangular, colorful bird picture above the dresser in this pic? I bought another one of those.  In my defense I studied it for a long time to determine if it was the same picture, or if was similar but with different birds (which would have been AWESOME).  Alas, it’s the same.  So, uh, if anyone shares my interests in art that looks like your grandmother would have hung, let me know.  First commenter genuinely interested in it, gets it (and yep, it’s framed identically and everything).

And then of course there’s the things one really, really doesn’t need, but buys anyway:

It’s a swan thing for, I guess, holding your rings when you taken them off?  Never mind that I already have an item specifically for this purpose, but look at it!  It’s a swan!  I’m trying to imagine some way I can use it to hold sewing notions or something.

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Strange news from another land

I’m pretty sure anyone reading this knows that there is weirdness on the internet.  Indeed in the grey fringes of the net there be monsters the likes of which you should never click on.  And I suspect most of us stick to some regular circle of online places to visit, only occasionally straying out when someone offers a link of promised amusement.

I read a lot of sewing and fashion blogs.  It encourages me in my sewing, gives me ideas and tips and keeps me thinking about it when I’m not doing it.  But even in this tiny subculture there is much weirdness to be found.  Now in fairness, fashion is weird, or people try and make it weird, but sometimes it’s just incomprehensible to me.  And I don’t mean bizarre, haute couture, or strange high fashion you could never wear.  No, I mean things like Hel Looks.  As far as I can tell, this is a street wear fashion blog from Helsinki.  Like the Sartorialist or Urban Weeds.  But I can’t figure Hel Looks out.  Is it satire? Are Finnish people just so weird that they are actually parodies of their own stereotypes?  Yes the clothes displayed here are offbeat and funky, but not, in my opinion outside the range of actually normal for urban young folks.  However when I start reading their comments with the pictures I begin to feel as if I’ve fallen down the rabbit hole.

I know a lot of people. Hundreds of Americans I call friends or acquaintances, dozens of Europeans and a smattering of folks other places. I read a lot of news, a lot blogs and a lot of fiction.  I follow links on the internet, I eavesdrop on conversations, I pay attention to the way people talk, what they choose to talk about, and how they address other people.  And given all the data I have I’m just sure that no one, ever, when asked about fashion influences says, “I like German submarine officers, especially their caps and headphones.”  Or “I like to wear these trousers. Even my friends want to wear them.”

So either the world is much stranger place than I thought, something is wrong with Finnish people, or this is satire, right? Or maybe it’s surrealist art?

Finland is longer a country full of people in folk costumes or is it?

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Why isn’t the weekend longer?

This weekend I finished the second skirt from last week’s pattern.  I cut the pattern down two sizes and used a lighter, slightly stretchier fabric.  The results are certainly improved, though I think I need to use an even lighter fabric, or just something more drapey with a softer hand.  Still, this version is in dark brown and will definitely get summer wear.  I had to go to the fabric store to get elastic, so I got some lighter weight black fabric to revisit that with, and some grey fabric, to cover all my needs for neutral skirts (of which I currently only have denim ones so this will be great).  No skirt pictures today, I’ll save them for when I have some top finished to show it with.

I did take some pictures of the new digs this weekend though.  Not the living room yet, I’m saving that for when it’s fully furnished and not filled with stacks of unpacked boxes (though I am down to mostly books on that front and just need to get a bookshelf and rug or two to finish the room).  But for those who are interested or who asked, here’s shots of the kitchen and bedroom:

click for the full set at Flickr

Yeah, I want to paint that table and chairs.  Yeah, I want to cover those cabinet faces in wall paper or something, but it’s definitely coming along.  Need for rugs and a bookshelf aside, I am mostly comfortable hanging out art home now.  I could maybe use an ottoman and few more baking supplies, but over all it’s great.  Just don’t look in my closets which are jammed with stuff and probably should be actually organized at some point.

This weekend I put away the heavy winter bedding and did get some organizing done as well as few small, nitpicky tasks that needed doing (like hand sewing the corners on the bed skirt so the edges of the box spring would stop peeking out).  Last weekend I packed away my winter clothes and pulled out the summer dresses and lighter weight work slacks.  Bring it on, season change, I am ready!


I said I do it and I’ve at least started!

Last night I did the test run on Simplicity 2258.  We’ll call this a wearable muslin.  The initial pattern size I cut ran really big.  This is about 2 sizes too large on me, but the elastic waist band makes it work okay.  The fabric was probably too stiff for this pattern, although maybe it would have been fine if the pattern had been sized correctly from the beginning.  That said I’ll probably wear this, at least until I find better black fabric for it.  I LOVE this pattern.  It went together in two hours from cutting through finishing.  The pockets are crazy easy, well sized and go in very easily.  I’m excited to try this again in different fabrics.

Here it is with my awesome new thrift store boots:

And the pocket detail:

And while I had the black canvas out, I made a new apron for table waiting shifts at the restaurant:

Hoping to cut out the brown version of the skirt this weekend and start on some of the refashions I need to get finished.

Momentum!  I has it!  Can I keep it going?

Bonus – recent search terms used to find my blog:

sunlight deficit
almost monday gif
sewing room before and afters
bedroom with grey walls
how to find a safety deposit box full of money and passports
april is not the cruelest month
wombat in sweater