Friday, September 28, 2007

Banned Books Week!

September 29 - October 6, 2007.

To celebrate and participate, I'm going out tomorrow to pick up a banned book.

From the library.

Today is my son's 27th birthday and it reminds me of a banned book story from his days in junior high school. Daniel did not have great reading skills, a minor disability passed on from his father. He avoided reading whenever possible, but during his Jr. High days, he discovered Stephen King and was reading Misery for English class. One day he called me into his room and excitedly read me a a paragraph about the protagonist's pain (broken bones) being compared to broken pier pilings that only show when the sea is at low tide. He marveled over and over about the metaphor--"getting it" was a new experience for him. I was elated.

When his next book report was due, the teacher refused to let him read another Stephen King book, so I asked her about it at Back-to-School Night. She responded that she wanted him to read other things than horror. Period. I just wanted him to read whatever until he got hooked on reading! She'd have none of it and Daniel quickly soured on reading books for pleasure. How very sad.

So, in honor of my son's birthday and to thumb my nose at the powers that be, I present the list of books I've read from the American Library Association's Top 100 Banned Books 1900-2000 list. (comments mine):

6. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck (Pat the Bunny, Lenny)
7. The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling
8. Forever by Judy Blume

13. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger (At age 14 no less!)
18. The Color Purple by Alice Walker
25. In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak (Oh those naked cartoon boys! And penises! My sister bought this for my daughter--her fault entirely!)
26. The Stupids (Series) by Harry Allard (Sister turned us on to this--her fault.)
37. The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood (Sister again!)
47. Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes (They even made a movie of this one!)
51. A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein (Shame on me, I read it to my kids)
52.Brave New World by Aldous Huxley (Didn't want us to know what was coming up!)
53. Sleeping Beauty Trilogy by A.N. Roquelaure (Anne Rice) (More fun than Disney!)
59. Ordinary People by Judith Guest (What???)
67. The House of Spirits by Isabel Allende (An absolutely beautiful book)
70. Lord of the Flies by William Golding
83.The Dead Zone by Stephen King
88. Where's Waldo? by Martin Hanford (WTF?)
91. Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett

“[I]t's not just the books under fire now that worry me. It is the books that will never be written. The books that will never be read. And all due to the fear of censorship. As always, young readers will be the real losers.” — Judy Blume

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Four Seasons Swap in the mail

Hooray! I finished my project for the Four Seasons Quilt Swap and it is going out in today's mail.

I ended up purchasing a kit from Starr Fabrics at the Marin show over Labor Day weekend. The pattern was free with the charm pack and I didn't have to supply anything but the batting.

I did improvise a bit on the leaves and made them using a trick I learned from my pal Joanie. I fused two layers of fabric together with fusible web and then cut the leaves out. They are quilted onto the top and thus are somewhat free-floating.

The quilt sits in the mailbox as I write, waiting to make its way to ________????? The deadline is Sept. 30th, so I actually beat it by a few days.

Next up: Quilting on the baby quilt I pieced at the Linda Balllard retreat in June which will be easy now that the Bernina is back from her servicing visit. Then quilt the Pumpkin Divas wallhanging for Sarah.

Monday, September 17, 2007

The Book Awards Reading Challenge

Join this challenge?

Heck yeah! And thanks to Nancy, NP.

Since I'm a die-hard reader anyway, I might as well shoot for some quality, right? I have an Excel spreadsheet of books I've read and books I want to read and I thought this would be a great way to whittle that list down a bit.

My plan is to start with books I own. Since I got a late start--and--I did read Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides (Pulitzer, 2003) in July--I'll count that as book one. Last night, I started Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier (National Book Award, 1997) and in the queue are the following:

WOW! That takes up 9 of the 12 books without even leaving the comfort of home and I haven't really dug into the bottom shelves of the bookcase! The Sonoma County Library and Barnes and Noble are gonna miss me!!!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

My boys came to visit....

....and we even let Mommy come too.

We had a great time visiting and Benjamin even had the dogs under control which is something his Nana has yet to accomplish.

We did fun things like watering plants, feeding the dogs, feeding the fish, making and eating guacamole, frosting a cake and going out to breakfast with Aunties Sarah and Kristin.

Alex is growing like a weed and is a chatty little thing, too. By the time he comes back at Christmas, I'll bet he's crawling.

Benjamin's vocabulary astounds me and he is one little parrot. We have to be very, very careful what we say around him these days.

It was so great of Kate to make the drive up and bring these wonderful boys up to see Nana and Pop.

Life is good.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

A Day in the Life....

of a Winemaker's Wife......

Our first grapes came in from the broker today, Pinot Noirs from the Carneros region of Sonoma/Napa. Hubby picked them up while I was at quilt guild and we set to crushing and de-stemming them as soon as he got home.

Unfortunately, (or perhaps fortunately) this does not involve stomping them in a big tub with one's feet as in the old days. We have a hand operated machina made in Italy--clever souls, the Italians--that does both for us and was worth every dime we spent on it. Crushing would be no problem, but let me tell you, de-stemming would be the pits and I'm thankful not to have to do it.

The sugar level of the grapes had become so strong due to the warm, warm weather we've had in the last couple of weeks that we had to add acid to keep this from becoming a dessert wine and / or stunting the yeastie beasties' ability to start the fermentation. Here you see my job--the winery chemist mixing tartaric acid solution and then the yeast mixture.

From today until probably early November our downstairs powder room will become a winery and in a few days the house will smell like the sweet fermentation of grapes. We feature nothing but the best in facilities, especially our custom sign, made by me.

We may be harvesting our own Cabernet Franc this weekend if the weather keeps up and we are also buying some Merlots and Cabernet Sauvignons, so this promises to be a busy, busy season.

In the words of my late, beloved father:

Pour down the water in the sink,
Everyboday have a drink!

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Blog Slacker

August was such a busy month with houseguests all the time and September shows little sign of slowing up, but add wine-making to the mix. The first of the grapes we are buying, Pinot Noirs, will be harvested tomorrow for a Thursday morning pickup. Let the fun begin! We are tentatively scheduling our own harvest for the following week when Kate, Benjamin, Alex and friend Dawn will be here. We are so excited that Benjamin will be a part of our wine-making and especially with our grapes!

I am finally sewing again and completed this Sew-A-Row, just in time to hand it off the Phyllis on Thursday at guild. I was at kind of a loss, having signed up when it was just a bonnet and flowers. The pieced row kind of put me off, but I loved the applique heart and flowers on green. I decided (with some help from Nicole at The Material Girl during our UFO Mini-Group to piece something for balancing the other pieced row. Somewhere, either in a neighbor's garden or in a blogger's garden picture, I saw some Black Eyed Susans and fell in love with the idea of using them in this semi-fall themed quilt.

I recently found Angie Padilla's website and her son has developed a search engine that specializes in quilt block patterns, so I found the Black Eyed Susans at Moon Over Mountain and I was off to the races.

I've never done curved piecing by machine, so this was a learning experience for me. I bought a Curve-master foot at PIQF several years ago and tried to use it with no pinning, but that was a bust. I ended up pinning both ends and the center and it worked out fine. I did have to take in a few seams here and there so the block would lay flat and it ended up finishing at 9.5 inches, but that really wasn't an issue for me as I was going to add the lattice anyway. All in all, I'm pretty danged happy at the way it turned out.

I went to the quilt show in Marin with Sandy Mc. on Friday and it was a pretty quick show, but more quilts than last year. I decided to cheat on the Four Seasons Quilt Swap and bought a darling set of hand-dyes and pattern to make the quilt. It will be lovely and given that I just couldn't get inspired, it will have to be OK.