Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Sewing lessons

While I was in PA, my MIL and I had an impromptu sewing lesson and project.  Originally I had asked her for help picking a pattern to get ready for a class for which I had registered in mid-October, but we turned it into a mostly-complete apron.  Over the course of 24h we managed to get to the store, buy materials, and she taught me the basics needed to work on the project.  I ironed, cut, sewed, and stitched.  I still have some finishing touches to complete, but it’s 90% done.  I appreciated getting one-on-one instruction from her on something I hadn’t touched in over 20 years, not since jr. high.  I wouldn’t be going into class “cold.”

I went over to Fabricville on Sunday for supplies. I wanted to start from scratch on a different pattern, so I found one of the apron patterns we couldn’t find in PA.  One of the issues we had on the PA apron was that the material wasn’t wide enough to fit the pattern and I wanted to make sure I avoided that problem this time.  I sought some help making sure I had the right width of material, but the clerk wasn’t very helpful with a newbie.  She showed me the rows and rows of cottons and left me to decide: fine, I take a long time deciding anyway.  They didn’t have a clearly distinguished “sale table” so I ended up getting something that wasn’t the most expensive but wasn’t as cheap as I should have gotten for a beginner project.  When I said that I wanted to make sure I had enough width, thinking of how we were a bit short on the first apron, she steamrolled over me and said it was fine… well, ok, but an explanation of why it would be fine might have been nice.  Still being new, it didn’t occur to me that I could fold the material the other way and make it wider and just change what I was measuring against.  Ironically, my instructor later said that clerk was the best person to ask for help in the store. Uh, yeah, I think I’ll be avoiding her “help” in future visits.

[Aside: I'm not a fan of how Fabricville posts their pricing, and they pretty much push their loyalty card to the point where you feel like you're being ripped off if you don't get it. Fabricville is the only game in town anymore now that Wal-Mart is out of the fabric business.  I will have to spend more time at Mardens in Calais next time I want cheaper fabric.]

I washed and ironed my material and headed over to the school last night. I discovered my material was indeed not wide enough (GRRR!) and the instructor said, “no problem, we’ll just fold it this way instead, and not measure against the selvedge.”  Ok, why didn’t I think of that?  Guess that’s why I’m in a class, to learn.  What she didn’t tell me, and that my MIL did and made me do, was that I should have re-ironed my material and ironed the pattern.  I didn’t see until later that the instructor had set up an iron and it was ready to go, so I proceeded without re-ironing.  That was a mistake, but lesson learned.  I have some horribly crooked lines that I blame solely on lack of ironing.  I knew better; my fault.  I won’t make that mistake again (even though I hate to iron).

I managed to pin all of my pattern pieces, cut everything out, and start sewing the edge of the tie.  Given my crooked cut, that wasn’t as easy as my PA apron.  The pattern calls for bias tape, so I need to decide whether I want to proceed with learning to use that, or just do a regular hem.  Bias tape was one of the few things my MIL and I didn’t tackle.  Fabricville clerk wasn’t helpful with that either. I questioningly said the pattern called for it but I didn’t think I needed it?  She pretty much just gave me a blank half-smile as though she wasn't listening.  I may proceed with the bias tape just to get some practice with it.

I felt much better during my first class by knowing some basics already, and I think her tips and suggestions are very valuable.  I expected to hear the same tips from the instructor last night, who likely does know them, but given the unstructured environment of the class, did not pass them on.  Though an apron is "not important," I think I should treat it as such as a beginner in order to gain the skills for the future.  I am also a perfectionist, so I should have listened to my instincts about ironing at the beginning, and noticed there was an iron ready.  My MIL showed me how to measure against the edges for the non-fold items, and the instructor didn't focus on that being important, but I agree with my MIL on that one, plus I like to be exact (perhaps to a fault).  I was embarrassed to get out my measuring tape and to be exact, but maybe I should just do things the way I want to do them.  As I was pinning, I remembered my MIL's advice regarding notches, and to pin so that I wouldn't cut off the notches. I was happy to not screw that part up as it's apparently a common mistake.

My MIL had me use pinking shears because of how cotton frays at the edges.  She explained that pinking would stop that and make it much easier to work with.  When I went to purchase the shears at Fabricville, the clerk tried to talk me out of it due to the price ($40 seemed unreasonable, but it was the day before class and I couldn't source them online) and she said I didn't need them for that project.  I would need them if I was sewing PJs and the seams blah blah blah.  At that point I already decided I didn't like her advice and went ahead and splurged on the shears.  I was very glad I did when cutting last night.  They may have been expensive, but were so much more easy on my hand than the pair I used in PA.  My instructor commented that I was using them and it was a good idea, so I didn't have to finish the edges later.  Score another point for the MIL School of Sewing.  :)

I want to give a big thank you to my MIL for taking the time and effort to give me lessons during my PA vacation. Hopefully when she reads this post, she can see that I've kept [most of] her advice and will slap my own wrist regarding the ironing. The pinking shears I bought were Mundial, I think that was the brand she suggested?

So week 1 of 6 is done.  I'm not sure how much time I will have to work on the project at home, given the new cat adoption, book club book I need to finish, Zumba, Halloween decorating, laundry, general house cleaning, knitting, and doing something with my photo project. For someone who used to do nothing but sit on the couch and watch TV or read, I now have a lot more hobbies than I have time for.  Not sure if that is a good or bad thing, but at least no one can call me a couch potato.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Getting adjusted

When we adopted Romy a little over 3 years ago, it was my first experience at pet ownership.  I remember having crazy reactions to the situation, involving much crying and internal hysterics.  I'm going to have cat hair everywhere, he'll wreck all my stuff, I won't like having him around but will have to suffer through it because I made the commitment, etc.  Now I can't imagine my home life without him.  Though he is more attached to John than he is to me, he and I still have our routines.  He waits for me to get out of the shower so I can pet him.  I am the morning attention-giver, so he comes to me first for attention.  Romy has been an entertaining companion.  Had you asked me 4 years ago whether I'd be this happy having a cat, I don't think I would have said yes.

It was hard enough for me to adopt my first pet, so John didn't push me to get the standard 2 cats at the same time, to keep each other company, and to not have to deal with one encroaching on the other's domain.  We had discussed a second cat, one who could be more "my" cat, who might also be more of a lap cat.  I had been hoping Romy would be more cuddly with me than he is, so the thought of a loving lap cat to curl up with me when I read or watch TV is appealing.  We've visited the shelter numerous times, keeping our eyes open for "the" cat.  We developed a track record for visiting cats who had been in the shelter for a while and them being adopted soon thereafter. 

When we met Sapphire at the Pet Corral in May, we figured she would be adopted soon.  May turned to October and she was still there.  John wanted this to be my decision to get a second cat, and I felt bad that such a sweet, loving cat had been in the shelter system since Dec 2011 was still up for adoption in Oct 2012.  On Saturday morning, we went down and visited her one more time, and she was still the sweet, loving cat we kept taking out of the cage to visit.  We decided to adopt her and brought her home.

Over the course of 5 months, I had been thinking about her and wondering why she was still there.  John said "some people might call that a sign".  To be honest, I'm not sure she's "the" cat I envisioned, as I chose to adopt her more out of guilt/pity than a specific pull/feeling like I had with a cat I met who was not up for adoption.  But I was confident enough that she liked me, and that she seemed calm and loving enough that we could work with each other.

I have been freaking out ever since we actually got her home.  "Crap, what if Romy doesn't want to share his space, it's a lot to ask."  "What if after she is spayed she turns into a different cat that I won't like?"  "What if I don't end up loving her as much as Romy?"  "I don't know if she's a climber, or a scratcher, a marker, a shedder, untrainable to stay off tables, has furballs, etc etc"  I had all of the same concerns with Romy.  Romy has turned out to be a great cat, who is large and thus not a climber. We've managed his scratching tendencies quite well and he has not damaged anything significant.  We have trained him to stay off areas where we eat.  He doesn't seem to produce hairballs and shedding is reasonable.  Overall he's a great cat, so my brain says you can't get that lucky twice.  John says he doesn't have bad cats, period.  Still, I manage to flip out for the past two days.

We have read advice on integrating cats, so we John was prepared for the experience.  So far it's been going as well or possibly better than he expected.  I don't like the hissing and growling Romy was doing toward her, but they didn't have any fighting or attempted fighting.  I just feel guilty that I'm asking Romy to share his space with another cat and he doesn't really get a say in it.  If he could talk, I would listen.  ;)

I hope this works out ok and that I don't regret the decision.  I am calmer about it today than I have been the last 2 days.  I just need to give it time for everyone, including me, to adjust.  I'll consider it a win if the two cats can live in the same house and tolerate each other without marking territory.  Gravy would be if they actually liked to play together or curl up together, but I won't hold my breath.

Part of the reason why I am flipping out is because I take the commitment of cat guardian seriously. This cat will be with me for an average of 10 years. That's a long time.  I can't just return her to the store.  I have held off on adopting a second cat before because I wanted a foster arrangement to see if it would work out with Romy and with us, and if not, then it would be understood that we could take the cat back.  Given how overrun this area is with cats, though, that arrangement is not easy to find.  So if I wanted to give it a try, it's a permanent commitment right off the bat.  Not something that I have an easy time swallowing.

All indications are that this will work out ok.  Now if my stomach and nervous system would just believe that, it would be great.  I'll keep giving it time, and I'll be ok.  I have a cat who needs and wants a home, who is happy to be there, so now it's my turn to live up to my end of the bargain.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

The world scares me

I think the older I get, the more scary the world is becoming.  I look around me and think about what I see, and I'm not sure I like what's going on out there.  I feel weighed down by the mistakes of humanity, which is one reason why I don't pay a lot of attention to the news.  Sometimes it gets mentally overwhelming.

Some days I feel like the invention of plastic was a huge mistake that is choking the planet.  Plastic washing up on beaches, plastic thrown away in landfills (more than what we're recycling), our reliance on plastic everywhere in our homes.  Humanity survived for thousands of years without plastic, but now we can't?  It seems sad.  I have always been angry at those who litter instead of just hanging onto a piece of garbage for a few more minutes until they reach a garbage can, but lately I am also reminded that garbage cans go to landfills.  At the rate we're going, the whole planet is becoming a landfill.  Many people simply do not care about it, either.  What are we going to do in the future if we plan on surviving as a race?  There have been movies which used this idea as a storyline (think Wall-E), and I don't think they're all that far off from the truth.  It scares the crap out of me.  Who has a plan to fix this?  Nobody.  One of many reasons why I don't think I want to bring a child into this world.

Blatant consumerism doesn't help.  I'll be the first to admit that I am a slave to that philosophy.  What I have done recently is try not to increase my "buy useless crap" quotient.  I've been trying to employ my friend's rules for puurchases: 1)  Do I need it?  2) Where will I put it/what will I get rid of to make room?  3) Can I afford it?  (not necessarily in that order).  Other times, I fail miserably because I want shiny new X.  I figure at least trying to improve my thought processes is better than never considering it, but maybe I'm wrong.

The spelling/grammar problem is getting increasingly worse to the point where I'm genuinely scared for how dumb North Americans will look in the near future. I was in a store yesterday where they were selling "mini-scrappers".  These were not small items that liked to fight, but were actually scrapers.  Another post on Facebook today from a friend who said "your not so bad."  This is a guy in the middle of university, a generally smart kid who should know better.  Those of us who do know better just end up getting flamed for making corrections. I guess the dumb will prevail, but that's not the kind of world I want to live in.  Auto-correct is the work of Satan.  Smart guy, Satan. He knew we'd just get lazy and ignore spelling and grammar rules, blindly accepting whatever the computer suggests to us as correct.  I wonder if kids are being taught that it is not absolute, but that you must also use common sense and the rules you were taught in school to apply as well?  I doubt it.  Sad.

[Is this post grammatically correct? No, I know it's not. Mistakes happen, but at least I know the difference between your and you're, and scrapper/scraper.  I have that knowledge and intelligence vs those who don't and should.]

Mobile phones scare me. That market has exploded to the point where they've become like a drug addiction.  Work in IT and you may have a different opinion.  Some days my phone is indispensable, other days I want to go somewhere with no cell service whatsoever and throw it into a river, because I'd probably be out enjoying nature instead.  Do I check my phone when others are around?  Yes, and I am sometimes ashamed of that.  If I attend an event, though, I make a concerted effort to not have my phone in front of me at all times.  I want to be in the moment, enjoying the company of humans.  Whatever is happening on FB or Twitter can be read later.

People in SJ need serious driving help. I'm starting to think everyone should be re-tested every 5-10 years.  Included should be a module on freeway driving.  Most SJers have never driven a freeway. If they had, they'd be better drivers.  I wouldn't have to anticipate braking in the left lane, people cutting me off, abnormal speed up & down, etc.

Mitt Romney and the Republican party scare me.  Democrats scare me too, but nowhere near as much as the Romney/Ryan ticket.  The guy actually said he didn't know why airplane windows don't open, and yet I have friends who practically insist that Obama is the devil. The USA needs serious help and bi-partisanship, but they just keep getting worse and worse. This is important to me because I assume I'll end up living there in the future.  I'm just not sure I'll want to if it keeps going down the crapper. They desperately need a revolution.

At the rate North America is going, we soon won't have anyone who wants to be a teacher anymore.  Teachers continually get low pay and disrespect.  Parents who expect school to raise their child.  Kids who don't see any value in an education. Pretty soon the drive to pass on knowledge and make a difference will be outweighed by the fact that you can't afford to live on that salary, and the mental drain of trying to keep the ship upright will be too much.  I have no idea how teachers do it without ending up in a mental institution.  It makes me want to cry.

These are some of the things on my mind lately.  They scare me, and often make me want to curl up into a ball and not deal with the outside world. That statement is closer to the literal truth than you probably imagine.  I'm trying to fight through it, but it's difficult.  I haven't yet mastered the art of living my own life and doing the best I can.  Sometimes I see where all of this is going and wonder why I'm here?