Sunday, March 30, 2008


Cold grey petals
Originally uploaded by MossyOwls

I've been trigger-happy (well, with the camera) for the past couple of days, and I've uploaded a bunch of "around the yard" type photos to my Flickr account, if you're in the mood for dewy flowers and Japanese maple leaves. If not, then disregard this, please. ;o)

Old pickle relish, anyone? ;o)

Snippets are on the menu today. . .

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I cleaned out the fridge a few days ago. (Anyone want some old pickle relish or past-its-prime ranch dressing? ;o) Okay, not seriously. It's already in the trash. . . . Of course, some of you may be freegans. . .)

It was a long time coming, because (brace yourselves-- a real shocker's comin'!) it's not one of my favorite things to do. All those nooks and crannies-- having to take out drawers and shelves to wash them-- said drawers and shelves all being too big to fit in the sink and therefore taking much more effort to wash without getting the whole room wet-- and all this under a certain time limit, since I don't want to leave the food without refrigeration for too long. Whew! It's a job, but it sure does look nice and fresh, now! (Next up, the freezer!)

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Potential button-makers (and/or liaisons with other potential button-makers), I've been researching and making polymer clay buttons over the past couple of weeks. (Since I was researching it, anyway, I put up some related links on my other blog, if you're interested.)

I've put a handful of my buttons through the washer and dryer a few times, and so far, the results are promising. No broken buttons-- not yet, anyway. :o) Next up (I guess?)-- figuring out when's a good time for everyone to get together, if anyone would still like to have a polymer clay/button day.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The other day, I started cleaning the guest room, which had turned into a storage area. We're going to a have a guest for a while, sometime soon, and I thought the bed might be more comfortable if it wasn't covered in picture frames, "raw" quilt batting, artificial flowers, etc. ;o)

I had only the best of intentions, but the flowers, which I bought on a super-duper sale back before Christmas, grabbed my attention. Because I had many other, more pressing issues to attend to, I of course ended up reworking our existing floral arrangements.

I'm making an effort to keep only the flowers and arrangements that I like best, which means that I'm going to have some left over bits and pieces. Actually, while cleaning lately, I've found several things that I want to get out of the house. See if anyone else in the family wants them-- sell them in a yard sale-- donate them to charity-- something. I'm tired of keeping things I no longer want or need. There's more than enough to keep clean without that extra burden.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I recently spied a small green lizard drinking from Molly's water bowl on the porch. I don't know why I'm telling you all this, though. It just struck me as funny. . .

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Spring is in such full swing here that it's hard for me to comprehend that elsewhere in the country (not to mention the world) there are people still longing for the first daffodil. The lawn, which was fine a week ago, is now showing signs that it needs to be mown. Ah, the joys of the growing season!! :oP

Of course, on the plus side, the days are growing longer again, and there are new things to photograph, here and there around the yard.

Back to the negative side-- I somehow managed to let the whole lovely cool season pass without doing much yard work at all. This means that I now will have to do it in the warmer weather. For another month or so that shouldn't be too bad, but I know those sweltering summer days will be here all too soon. . .

Back to the positive side (to end on a brighter note)-- at least a little outside work will be good exercise. Maybe my waistline can even be persuaded to shrink an inch or two.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Friday's Feast (#185)

Here's this week's Friday's Feast:

What does the color dark green make you think of?

Pine trees (and conifers in general, but since I'm surrounded by pines, I think of them first) and a sweater I used to have. (g)

How many cousins do you have?

First cousins? I have two on my mother's side of the family and four on my father's side. But two of those four are very young. When I was a child, I had just two cousins on that side of the family; the other two have come along since then, so they feel less like cousins than a quasi nephew and niece. Or something like that.

If you count second or third cousins, there are quite a few more, of course. (People had bigger families back then. (g)) However, I probably couldn't even name them all, as I hardly ever see most of them.

On a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being highest, how honest are you?

I feel like I've answered this (or something like this-- maybe minus the scale) fairly recently. . .

I don't really like "rating" things like this. The answer depends on the circumstances. Most of the time I'm pretty honest-- 9 or so-- especially if it's a situation where I think it really matters that the truth be told. But if it will help me avoid hurting someone's feelings or needlessly embarrassing someone (myself included), I may omit something or be a bit creative with the truth. I don't see the need in being brutally honest, if it's not going to do any substantial good.

Main Course
Name something that is truly free.

The air that we breathe. . . laughter. . . sunshine. . . rain (and other weather). . . sunrises and sunsets. . . birdsong. . . imagination/daydreams. . . conversation. . . hugs and kisses. . . true love and loyal friendship. . .

Some might argue that most valuable human interaction (conversation, kisses) isn't completely free, because you have to invest time (and maybe resources, too) in the relationship, but I think that's being a bit nit-picky. ;o)

Using the letters in the word SPRING, write a sentence.

Hm. . . This is harder than it sounds. In that order, or in any order? Because being able to switch them around would help. . .

Some people'd rather ignore-- No "Green"!!

Uhm. . . Not too great, huh? Maybe no-one gets it but me. (g) It's just a mini protest against the explosion of "green" this and "green" that. I'm all for protecting the environment, but in many instances, it's gotten past the point of ridiculousness. IMNSHO. ;o)

Well, there's another feast feasted!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Booking Through Thursday: Cover-Up

This week's Booking Through Thursday:

While acknowledging that we can’t judge books by their covers, how much does the design of a book affect your reading enjoyment? Hardcover vs. softcover? Trade paperback vs. mass market paperback? Font? Illustrations? Etc.?

Once I'm really into the story, it doesn't matter quite so much, but of course there are preferences and pet peeves.

I'm irritated by books that. . .
  • are so tightly bound that it's a huge effort to keep them opened to the right page.
  • weigh so much that I grow tired just from holding them up.
  • have embarrassing or hideous cover art.
  • have cover art done by someone who obviously knows precious little about the story.
  • try to squeeze too many words on one page (i.e. tiny font and/or insufficient margins).
  • have pages that are too thin or tend to stick together.
Other than that, I'm pretty flexible. Some of my favorite books are mass market paperbacks, but generally I'm more attracted to trade paperbacks or hardcovers that aren't too bulky or heavy. I'm especially fond of small-scale hardcovers.

Illustrations don't usually matter that much to me-- with three notable exceptions: 1) books intended to be accompanied by illustrations, such as children's picture books; 2) "how-to" non-fiction-- cookbooks, craft books, home improvement, gardening, etc.; and 3) books that I grew up thinking "should" be illustrated (meaning that the editions I read a a child were illustrated-- such as the Little House series as illustrated by Garth Williams).

One other thing--
Even though I do sometimes read books borrowed from a library or buy second-hand books, I'm much more comfortable with a book that is my own. With library books, I can't completely forget that they aren't mine to keep, and with any book that I didn't buy new, I guess I just feel a little twinge of "yuck" and "I wonder where has this book been and who's been pawing it with dirty hands".* (g) A little silly, maybe-- especially considering even "new" books have been touched a few times by other people. Once I've had them a while, I don't think about that so much. I don't know; I guess that they're magically rendered clean simply by virtue of spending a little time in my pristine -- ha ha ha-- home. ;o) Well, that and the fact that I give them a wipe-down.

* Hey, it's a legitimate concern! At a recent used book sale, my sister found a book with cake on it! (g) Not all book owners are so careful with their books as they ought to be. ;o)

Friday, March 21, 2008

New bookcases!

For a while, I've been wanting to get rid of a very flimsy, unattractive, and outdated shelf-thing-a-ma-bob that we've had in the main room (living room? family room? whatever you want to call it) of the house. It served its purpose as a "thing holder" (everything from a stereo and CDs to framed photos and other curios), but it was from the 70's and had definitely seen better days. The surfaces of some shelves had suffered water damaged at some point, which made the ugly dark imitation woodgrain look even worse. Just take my word for it-- it probably wouldn't have won any beauty contests even when it was new. ;o)

This weekend, we dismantled it and put in its place some much-needed book storage. (With doors! Where I can hide things! And not have to dust them! Yay!) We still have to fiddle with one of the doors to get it to close properly-- and I'll probably rearrange some things and put a few odds and ends on top-- (It looks too empty right now, I think.)-- but for the most part, it's all set up and oh, so much nicer-looking than what was there before!

Here are a few photos from different angles:

From the middle of the room, looking over a couch:

From the foyer:

From the door in the main room:

If you're wondering, these aren't all our books-- not by a long shot! We still have the bookcase Donald built us in the guest room. All those shelves are still full. . . Then there are a couple of full shelves in our bedroom. . . Oh, and some arts and crafts books in another room, as well as who knows how many other books scattered here and there-- cook books in the pantry, computer books in the office, current reading on nightstands, etc. There's certainly no shortage of books around here!

Of course, some of these books are more for show/admiring than for reading. Let me count how many copies of Anne of Green Gables we have, just for the fun of it. . . Fourteen, I think. (g) Many of them in Swedish. Don't ask me why we "need" that many. I suppose if we ever have a whole bunch of kids (or grandkids), they'll each have their own copy to read. ;o) Seriously, I think Donald bought many of these cheaply-- some because they're older editions. I think one of them is a first edition of the Swedish translation. Obviously, this is an exceptional case; we have just one copy of most of our books, which is plenty (and sometimes is more than enough, depending on the book). . . . Though it'd be kind of funny to have a whole bookcase filled with different editions of a single novel, wouldn't it? (g) It'd definitely be a conversation piece.

On a tangent-- Isn't is funny how manufacturers'/distributors' photos of bookshelves rarely have all that many books in them? For example, here's our bookshelf, as the manufacturer wants you to see it:

There are exactly eighteen books stretched out over all six (exposed) shelves. I suspect they do this for the same reason that home decor magazines usually show sparsely populated bookshelves: They must think it looks better this way. Maybe it does. Less cluttered-- less chaotic. Plenty of room to display a tasteful arrangement of candles and blown glass vases. But you'd think that most people in the market for a bookcase probably have, I don't know, books they need to store, so why not show us what it'll look like when it's crammed full with a motley crew of tattered paperbacks, with the occasional leather-bound extravagancy propped up between broken-spined hardcovers? I think people'd appreciate the honesty. ;o)

Yeah, and the photos of bedroom suites could forego the luxuriant bedclothes in favor of an unmade bed with assorted garments strewn here and there. . . (g) Ok, it'd never work. So many people are buying the illusion of what they'd like their lives to be, as much as the furniture that's to be the set. Drat those marketing experts! They think they're so smart! ;o)

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Galaxies, nebulae, etc.

Speaking of space. . . Wow!

If you'd like to see them bigger, I found these (and many more) at the Hubble Heritage Image Gallery. (There are plenty of other websites out there, too. I just happened to find this one first.)

Moonlit clouds

Last night, I happened to notice that the world was well lit with a nearly full moon. Better yet, it was a blustery night, and the wild wind was sending wave after wave of fleecy cloud scudding swiftly across the sky. There are very few things in the world that I find more soul-stirring than a sky full of moonlit clouds with the occasional star peeking through the rifts; paired with wind, it's even more magical.

Sometimes a calm sky is too big and empty, filling me with an almost painful sense of smallness and futility. It's easy to feel lost, alone and frightened, adrift in an infinite sea of stars. I know I ought instead to feel thrilled that in such an immense universe, God still thought to make me and the life I know and love. Sometimes I can feel that. . . But at other times I just feel sad, somehow.

A night like last night, on the other hand, seems to have a life and personality of its own. The awing enormity of space is gently veiled by silvered cloud, and the wind calls you back to earth. Roaring in the trees, caressing your skin (albeit with a chill hand), ruffling your hair-- it fills your senses to the brim. It's impossible to feel alone, because the world around you is alive with motion and sound. Instead of feeling dwarfed and forgotten, I am more than ever a part of things. I'm not sure why. Maybe just because it seems almost as though this moment, so full of things I love, was made just for me to experience it. (What? Not humble enough? Go back and read about how the stars make me feel insignificant and puny. (g))

It felt as though the sky had turned into an ocean-- not a terribly original comparison, but all the same, true. (I think it was the wind that did it.) All the elements were temporarily melded together, indistinguishable, and even though I was miles from the sea, I could hear the crashing waves.

It was beautiful-- one of those moments I'd like to capture so that I could relive it at will. I tried to capture it on film (or whatever the digital equivalent of film is-- pixels?), but I had very limited success.

This is something more like it-- or this-- or this (but without the glowing ember of a volcano on the horizon. ;o)

What a beautiful world. . .

Booking Through Thursday: The End

Here's this week's Booking Through Thursday topic:

The End

You’ve just reached the end of a book . . . what do you do now? Savor and muse over the book? Dive right into the next one? Go take the dog for a walk, the kids to the park, before even thinking about the next book you’re going to read? What?

(Obviously, there can be more than one answer, here–a book with a cliff-hanger is going to engender different reactions than a serene, stand-alone, but you get the idea!)

I'm usually ready for a brief break after finishing a book-- a walk, a little housecleaning-- anything for a change. Meanwhile, I spend some time thinking about what I've just read (whether or not I'm satisfied with it, why characters behaved as they did, etc.). If possible, I like to discuss it with someone or at least read reviews and compare notes.

Unless it's a series (with the next book ready and waiting) or I've already started looking forward to reading a particular book, I don't usually think about what I'm going to read next until later on. Actually, I usually have a hard time making myself start the next book, these days, now that I'm not really "into" any series of books. I think I'm one of those who take a while to warm up to something (such as the next book on my "to read" list), but once I'm ever into it, I can be a bit obsessive about it.

I bought several books at a large library book sale last weekend. With those (and the still unread books already gracing our bookshelves!), I should be able to find something worth reading for some time to come.

Maybe I'll start writing book reviews, like some other bloggers I know. . . Might motivate me to read on a more regular basis. If nothing else, I could at least mention what I'm reading. . .

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


I saw something about this phenomenon on TV recently. It's almost hypnotic. . .

Monday, March 17, 2008


I think I've written about this a looong time ago (and it probably wasn't exactly new even back then), but if you enjoy music and haven't already tried it (or, like me, had almost forgotten about it), you might want to have a look at Pandora Radio.

It's free. All you need is a good Internet connection and a decent speaker system-- nothing fancy, but something that works. You can even give it a quick try without going to the trouble of registering.

Just type in an artist or song you like. The system generates a list of songs that it thinks you'd also enjoy. You listen and (if you want to) tell it whether or not you like the song (thumbs up or down). If you really hate it, you can immediately skip to the next one, but I think there's a limit to how many skips you can do in a row. There are more features, too, but you can figure all that out for yourself. ;o)

It's basically like having a radio station that's tailored to your personal tastes-- and it can be a good way to find new music that you'll love. Oh, and if you register, you can have multiple stations-- one for each of your different musical moods. So far, it's been almost uncannily good at knowing what I like based on a minimum of feedback.

Cleaning is easier when there's something worth listening to playing in the background. ;o)

Friday, March 14, 2008

"Neighbor Dog"

Just uploaded a few photos from around the yard-- and some of "Neighbor Dog"-- one of two little dogs that belong to one of our neighbors. The other one is more stand-offish, but this one has made friends (and wants to have her tummy petted every time we're up by the main road).

The photo's a bit blurry, and I didn't get another close one, because the camera seemed to scare her.

I'm not sure what mix of breeds she is. . . She has a pretty long body but short legs. Her face looks like lab, maybe? I don't know. . . Anyway, just thought I'd share the picture. :o)

Friday's Feast

I'm actually on time today for this Friday's Feast! (Well, nearly a hundred people have already responded, but at least it's still Friday. . .)


On a scale of 1-10 (with 10 as highest), how much do you like your own handwriting?

I actually purposely changed my print handwriting at some point-- middle school or so?-- because I wanted it to be different. (For instance, I wanted my "a" to look like a printed "a", with a little curl on top.) It's continued to gradually change since then-- and probably gotten sloppier-- but I still like it well enough. I'd give it a 9, I guess. If it were always neat, it'd get a 10. ;o) Not that I think it's better than everyone else's handwriting, but I'm satisfied with it. (shrug) It's legible.

My cursive, on the other hand, I'd give a 2 or a 3. I never write in cursive, except to sign my name (and I'd really rather sign in print, too). I know it would be better if I just practiced it, but I don't really care to write in cursive. I haven't done it much since the school years when I was "forced" to write in cursive. (Maybe that's why I hate it so much-- being forced to use it!)


Do you prefer baths or showers?

Showers. Baths just seem to take too long, and it's easier to wash long hair in a shower, I think.


What was the last bad movie you watched?

Hm. . . We watched 300 a while ago, and I wasn't particularly impressed. Not that it was an awful movie. I just don't think I'm a member of the target audience. Yeah, there are some nice special effects-- but other than that, it's very simple and predictable-- just one battle after another, which I find depressing. And during the epic battle scenes, where'd all the blood go? Donald noticed how it just sort of disappeared in midair. Not that I really wanted to see more blood, but how did these guys go through days of hand-to-hand combat and still keep relatively clean? Obviously the makers of the film weren't going for realism. Anyway, I won't be re-watching that one.

Before that, we watched the MST3K episode with a movie called Time Chasers, and that was pretty bad. . . (Nothing to compare to the horror that is Gameron vs. Guiron, of course.)

Main Course

Name something you are addicted to and describe how it affects your life.

Caffeine. I get a headache if I don't have my daily cola. After the first day or two without it, I'm fine, but it doesn't take much to get me hooked again! I'm also "addicted" to the Internet-- all the sites I visit on a regular basis. I don't think it affects my life that much, apart from taking up some of my time.

ETA: Ok, ok. The Internet does affect my life more than I realize, I know. (I just wanted to hurry up and move on to the next question. (g)) I find myself thinking about how different daily occurrences are going to go into my blog(s). Almost any time I have a question about something, the Internet is my first source for information. It's also a source of much of my daily entertainment. Yeah, I'm addicted.


Which instrument is your favorite to listen to?

I don't have a ready answer for that, these days. Once, I would've said it was the violin. Now, I'm not so sure. I probably listen to the human voice more than any other "instrument". After that, I think most of the music I listen to features electronically produced sounds. . . I know my favorite single instrument is not the saxophone or the recorder-- or the tuba, trombone, or other brass instrument. . . I guess I can narrow it down to piano, guitar, and violin, but I'd really rather have access to the whole orchestra.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

First snake of the year, etc.

We saw the first snake of the year down by the pond, yesterday evening. I'm not sure what it was, or how long it was. It was a dusty grey color and looked dry and rough. It could have been a moccasin, but we took a detour and didn't get close enough to ID it.

Donald was the one to spot it, and when he froze, I knew at once what he'd seen (or at least that he thought he'd seen a snake), so I had one of those awful moments of dizziness I always seem to get in certain situations. It's something like the "slow-motion" feeling you sometimes experience (especially when you're falling). I hate it when that happens! I feel totally out of control-- for less than a second, probably, but it's still very unpleasant-- especially when I need to be getting away from something (the snake).

Anyway, snakes are apparently on the move around here, so be careful!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I was just looking around for photos of different types of snakes. (It can't hurt to re-familiarize myself with some of the most common venomous snakes in our area.) I found some random guy's blog, where he described killing a snake that he thought was a moccasin and which his wife had found on their porch. He'd posted a few photos of the snake in question.

The entry received some rather venomous (pardon the pun) comments from people who were horrified that he had killed what turned out to be a yellow-bellied water snake-- not a moccasin. Some of them just corrected him, though they couldn't resist the opportunity to point out how valuable these beautiful creatures are, etc., etc. But a few perfect strangers berated the man for his callous action-- told him that cutting the head off a snake is a cruel way to kill it, as they don't die instantly (What's a kinder way to kill it, then? Shoot it in the head, maybe?)-- called him a "selfish fool" and asked him how he dared to kill the animal without researching its "breed" (which is mighty hard to do when you've got to to keep an eye on it and make the decision on the spot)-- and so on. These people seemed to be personally offended that he'd killed the snake. You'd almost think the snake was a friend of the family. At least one person seemed to think that even if it had been poisonous, he wouldn't have had a right to kill it. (He was supposed to call a "wildlife re-locator". Because we're running so short on venomous snakes in the U.S., I guess?)

After looking at the photos, I have to agree that it probably wasn't a moccasin. The pupils aren't slits (as far as I can tell), and there don't seem to be "pits" in the face-- but the body does look like a moccasin, so I can't blame the guy for being confused. If I were in the same situation, faced with a split-second decision (because the snake was fleeing into a wooded area, but could have come back at any time), trying to protect a small child (or even just me and my pets!), I'd probably err on the side of caution. I figure that even if I kill two "harmless" snakes on accident every year, the world probably won't come to a screeching halt. But maybe I'm just an insensitive brute. ;o)

I definitely don't advocate torturing any animal, nor do I think you should go around killing animals with no legitimate reason-- but good grief! Is a person not to be allowed to kill a potentially harmful animal when it turns up on his private property? What's next? Maybe we shouldn't set mouse traps or spray wasp nests! Actually, why not ban antibacterial cleansers-- or soap in general? I mean, bacteria are living things, too, and who ever said that we have the right to kill them?
~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Thanks to the time change, there's just enough time for us to have a walk or spend a few minutes doing something else outside before it gets dark, when Donald comes home. No complaints about that-- but I'm still not completely adjusted to the new schedule.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I finally got around to uploading a few photos I took of a pin cushion I made to put along with Mom's birthday gift this year. (She has it now, so no worries about spoiling the surprise. (g)) I made it using felt, a few glass beads, and a little "fiberfil"/stuffing.

(There are a few other photos of this on my Flickr account.)

I used a variety of websites for inspiration, but I ended up just making up my own pattern. It's pretty simple. (And I have very limited experience with needle and thread, so that's saying something!) All you really need to know is how to do a simple stitch-- the blanket stitch is a common choice.

To make it the way I did, you'll need the following:
  • felt in the desired colors
    • I just used the cheap sheets of felt you find in the craft store, but if you want to get fancy you can use wool felt. I've read that even if you're going to use polyester felt, you might get better quality stuff if you buy it off the bolt rather than in the pre-cut rectangles. Like I said, I used the cheapest stuff, and it still "worked".
  • embroidery floss and thread
    • I'm sure you could use regular thread, but the embroidery floss is nice, if you have it. I divided mine into two or three threads to prevent it from being too bulky, so it goes a pretty long way. You can choose floss/thread that matches your felt or colors that contrast-- whatever look you prefer.
  • needle (or two-- a very thin one, if you're going to be sewing on tiny beads)
  • card stock or thin cardboard
    • I just used what I had on hand-- thin "cardboard" from cereal boxes or other food packaging. Use this to make your templates, if you like, and to stiffen parts of the finished food shape.
  • pen
    • This is for tracing your pattern onto the felt, if you like. I found that the pens I used tended not to dry on the poly felt. (Or if it dried, it took a very long time to do so.) It was a little bit messy. You could use pencil, I guess, or experiment on a scrap until you found an ink that dried. Or just don't worry too much about it and try to dab the ink dry with a tissue.
  • scissors
    • Good, sharp ones are best for cutting the felt.
  • fiberfil-type stuffing
    • I think some people are a bit picky about this part. Evidently certain types are better than others for preserving needles and pins. You can even fill the pin cushion with emery to help keep them sharp. I just used what I had on hand-- polyfil.
  • small glass beads, sequins, ribbon, etc.
    • These are just for embellishment, so use whatever you have on hand.
  • weights / flattened marbles
    • This is optional. I added a few flattened glass marbles in the bottom of this pin cushion to give it a little extra weight. You could use anything that's small and relatively heavy for the same purpose.
Basic instructions:
  1. Decide what you want to make and break the shape down into simpler shapes. This may be harder for some people than others. If it helps, sketch it out on paper. Here's an example of what I mean: To make my slice of cake, I knew that I needed two shapes like triangles with a curved edge-- pizza slice shapes. One would be the top of the slice of cake and on would be the bottom. Then I'd need two identical rectangles for the long sides of the slice (the parts with the white stripes). Finally, I'd need one more rectangle just long enough to go around the curves of the "pizza slice" shapes. Those shapes would make the basic shape of the cake slice. Because I wanted to embellish the slice a little, I also needed two narrow strips of "icing"-colored felt (to give the illusion of a layer cake), some flower- and leaf-shaped pieces to go on top, and for the top and sides, so "piped icing". To make each section of the piped icing, cut three or four (or whatever looks best to you-- experiment!) ovals (or circles) of felt. Layer them and stitch together down the middle. When you sew them to the cake, you can pull the thread through the layers to make them come together and even "twist" a little.
  2. Cut your shapes from the felt. I made cardboard templates to help me get things right, but that may not be necessary for you. Be sure to think about what each shape will be in the finished "food" before you cut. This helps you make sure you're cutting the right color for each shape.
  3. Start stitching the shapes together. I'm not sure what's the best method to follow on this part. I just learned as I went, and I've forgotten most of what I thought I learned. ;o) I believe it's generally easier to save the bottom shape for last. Take your time. If it doesn't look like something's going to fit, you can still trim the shapes, at this point. Because felt doesn't unravel, you don't have to worry about protecting the cut edges. A simple blanket stitch works perfectly, but you can also use a whip stitch or whatever else you like. You'll want to hide your knots as much as possible, of course. I found it was easier to do as much as possible of the "embellishing" sewing before I sewed the whole thing together. What I mean is, I'd go ahead and sew the "icing" strips to the rectangles and the flowers to the top before sewing the larger shapes together. Ditto for the beads. It may be different for you, but this made it easier for me to keep my knots hidden. On the other hand, I think I did sew some of the piped icing on after putting together the basic shape of the cake.
  4. Put in the stuffing, cardboard, and weights. As I said before, I saved the bottom shape for last. You can go ahead and stitch most of that last piece on, but pause when you have one side or so still "open". Now is a good time to add cardboard rectangles to the straight sides of the cake slice (if you want them to be stiff and not bulge out a bit). Next, start stuffing the pin cushion. I'm not sure how firm the ideal pin cushion should be, but I think it's easy to under-stuff, so it may be best to add a little more than you think you'll need. (You could try holding it closed and "testing" it with a few pins to see what it feels like.) To give your cake slice a flat bottom, put a cardboard shape (trimmed to the right dimensions) between the stuffing and the felt. If you want to add some weights to your pin cushion, put them in just before the cardboard. (I tried hot gluing the flat marbles to my cardboard shape, but it was clear that they wouldn't stay in place for long. You could glue them with something more permanent, if you really wanted them to stay put, but I think that as long as you put them at the very bottom, they won't be a problem, even if they are loose.) Stitch the final side closed. Do any final bits of embellishment you like, and then you're done!
Here are some links you might find useful:

Booking Through Thursday: Playing Editor

Watch out! There are spoilers for the following books in this post: by L. M. Montgomery, Emily of New Moon, Emily Climbs, and Emily's Quest. By Louisa May Alcott, Little Women. Consider yourself warned. . .

This week's Booking Through Thursday:

How about a chance to play editor-in-chief? Fill in the blanks:

________ would have been a much better book if ___________.

Hm. The Emily trilogy (Emily of New Moon, Emily Climbs, and Emily's Quest) would've been much better books if Teddy Kent had been a well-developed, sympathetic character-- something closer to Dean Priest, but with less of a penchant for unrealistically flowery speeches. Oh, and if he hadn't done the unspeakable by proposing to Emily's best friend, Ilse. (And he probably would've gone right through with it, if Ilse hadn't run off at the last moment! . . . Now that makes these books sound pretty trashy. I promise, they aren't. (g))

I was going to say the books would've been better if Dean hadn't lied to Emily about her first book, but even then, L.M. Montgomery just beats you over the head with the whole "Emily and Teddy are meant to be" thing, from the first book onward, so there's really not much hope for an Emily/Dean pairing. I enjoy the books as they are, but I'd love them that much more if I could just like Teddy. (Ick. And that name. . . "Teddy" just doesn't sound very manly, does it? Not that I'm one who should make comments about names, I guess. (g))

How about another?

Little Women would have been a much better book if Jo and Laurie had gotten married. Or maybe it just would've been a very different book. ;o) I like Friedrich, too, but he never seemed like a "romantic" character. (Maybe it was the description of him as being bearded that made a very youthful me picture him as an almost grandfatherly figure.) I remember being mystified by the way that Alcott made me root for one couple, only to keep them apart at the last moment. Maybe she was trying to be realistic; for all we hear about "high school sweethearts", most childhood friends/sweethearts-type relationships don't end in marriage. It's been a long time since I read the book. Maybe I'd understand it better from an adult perspective.

One thing I'm pretty sure about-- It'd be awkward being in Amy's position and knowing that your husband had loved/wanted to marry your sister before he noticed you. I guess you'd just have to learn to live with it, but wow. So totally and completely unromantic! (g)

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Scrappy Denim Rag Quilt Bag

Ow. I bit the inside of my mouth a little while ago, and now I have one of those little flappy sore things that make me sick just to think about. Maybe this is my punishment for being "ugly" earlier? ;o)

The real reason I'm online is to put up a few photos of the finished rag-quilt-style bag. I did the last bits of sewing this morning, then cut it (to make the raggedy fringe), washed and dried it. I might still add a few decorative buttons and snap closure; we'll see. . . The bag is made of denim from old jeans and a green cotton button-up shirt. There's no batting or interior layer of fabric.

Here's one photo. If you'd like to see a couple more, you'll find them in my flickr photostream.

It turned out ok-- good enough that I'll probably do more stuff like this in the future-- but I think I need to refine my sewing skills. They're pretty rough, still, and while that's not too noticeable in a design that's meant to look like it's been dragged halfway around the world and back, I'd still like to improve. I think I learned a few things working on this project, at least:
  • Trying to piece together a project out of scraps is time-consuming.
    • Seriously, unless you're down to your last penny or you just get a kick out of whipping something up out of (almost) nothing, save yourself a lot of trouble and don't do what I just did. ;o) It was fun knowing that I was using a bunch of pieces that might otherwise have been useless, but it took some creative thinking to find just enough of everything (without cutting into the other pairs of jeans I was saving for bigger projects).
  • If my thread is all messed up (and loopy) on the underside when I'm sewing, I should rethread the needle.
    • Even if I'm sure it's done right-- even if I'm convinced that it must be a problem with thread tension. Otherwise I'll just waste a lot of time tweaking the tension and growling at the machine.
  • I shouldn't judge a raggy project until it's completely finished.
    • They all seem to go through an ugly stage, but in the end, they turn out fine. Just keep going!
  • If I think something looks "off", I should trust my instincts.
    • Though maybe that seems to contradict the last "lesson". . . Anyway, the flap on this bag is a little skewed and goes down a bit farther on one side than the other. I should have-- well, could have done something about it before, but at this point it'd be too much trouble. Besides, I'm not going to be taking this into fine dining restaurants and fancy dress parties, so I'm not that worried. But it is a little annoying. I like things to be perfect, even if they hardly ever are-- especially when I make them myself! ;o)
  • I ought to slow down during the sewing.
    • I think this is where a lot of my sloppiness comes into play. I tend to hurry though the sewing part. (Well, it's hurrying by my standards; to an experienced seamstress it might be creeping along. . .) If I take a little more time, I think my seams will be straighter.
  • Washing the bag in a pillowcase worked just fine!
    • Or at least I think it did. . . The washer drain didn't clog (to my knowledge), and when I checked in the middle of the washing, I didn't see any loose fibers. After washing, I took the "unopened" pillowcase outside, took off the rubber band I'd used to close it, and shook everything off as thoroughly as possible. (There was a lot of lint and larger loose threads, so it's a good idea to do this in some out-of-the-way corner of the yard.) I dried the bag and pillowcase together (but not with the bag in the pillowcase) and checked the lint filter a couple of times during drying. There was quite a bit of lint, considering the size of the bag. (When I made my first bag, I hadn't heard of using a pillowcase to catch the loose threads. I just hand-washed it, then threw it in the dryer. I think I prefer this method. I think it probably "rags" the exposed seams more effectively.)
ETA: Psst! If you've stumbled across this blog searching for rag quilting info, you might want to head over to my sewing blog. I've transplanted all my sewing-related posts over there, and that's where I do most of my "fiber arts" rambling, now. :o)

I think it's just about time. . .

Political-type ranting to follow. Have a nice day! ;o)

Maybe I'm just in a bad mood this morning (actually, I'm not, for a change ;o)), but I think it might be time to add to the List o' Hated Professions. You know the ones. It's generally accepted to loathe tax collectors (particularly auditors), tow truck drivers, politicians, and (most notably) lawyers purely on the basis of how they earn a living. (There are probably others that go on that list, too, but for the moment I'm coming up empty-handed. Feel free to add to the list via the comments, if you feel the need.) Well, I think it's just about time to add most journalists (tv and print-- I don't discriminate) to that list.

Of course there's still a handful of decent, honorable reporters out there, and thank goodness for them, but for the most part, I'd just as soon get my news from the trashiest gossip rag ever to clutter a supermarket checkout counter. It's getting to the point that you can expect the "Woman Gives Birth to Quadruplet Alien Babies at Age 80!!" headline to be just about as honest as those you see in many so-called legitimate papers. There's always a spin-- always a bias. Half-truths and false implications abound! And need I say that TV news is just as bad? Mankind has never had such access to news, 24-7, but so much of it isn't to be trusted.

I know I'm probably preaching to the choir here, but so be it! (g)

Here's something interesting from NewsBusters. These political sex scandals are disgusting no matter what the political affiliation of the politician, but isn't it funny how the same journalists who are so eager to point out that one guy is a Republican somehow neglect to mention that the other guy is a Democrat?

A while back, there was a lot of talk about the hypocrisy of Republican representatives engaging in such behavior. (And yes, it is hypocritical of those individuals to say one thing and do another.) But what does it say about the Democratic party that when a Dem does much the same thing, there's no mention of hypocrisy? Wouldn't you love to be part of a political party that is so reluctant to take a firm stand on moral issues that when you commit a crime of this sort, it never occurs to anyone to lament how far you've fallen from your party's standards? (shrug) Hey, don't kill the messenger. ;o)

One more thing, since the fat's already in the fire: I really hate to defend Hillary Clinton, because (in case you haven't already guessed ;o)) I'm "not a fan", but I think this article suggesting that her silly little "3 a.m. phone call" commercial is racist is just ridiculous. The author suggests that if the ad had shown a black child sleeping, it might not have given him that "uneasy" feeling. (Excuse me a moment while I roll my eyes.)

Maybe as a white woman my opinion doesn't count on this issue, but I don't care what race the kids in the commercial were. (And for the record, I don't want either of the Democratic candidates to be the ones answering that phone, because I don't trust either of them with that responsibility.) But do we really need to have a representative of each race in every single commercial?

I don't remember how old I was when I first thought about the fact that so many kids' cartoons (and commercials, and so many other things) "just happened" to have a representative of each race. It was so painfully obvious that the creators had struggled to represent all the major groups (black, white, asian, hispanic/latino/whatever's "pc" for the moment-- male and female).
This was everywhere when I was growing up. I think "They" wanted my generation to think it was "normal", but I still managed to notice it and, frankly, I thought it was a little silly. It was just so predictable, and it wasn't realistic. There isn't always going to be a representative of every possible group everywhere you go in real life, so why should there be in every single commercial? I'm sorry, but it's just laughable.

Anyway, just some thoughts. . .

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Friday's Feast

Missed last Friday's Feast (again), but there's no reason I can't do it now.


If you could be any current celebrity for one whole week, who would you want to be?

I'm not a celebrity-worshiper, so I have no ready answer. Preferably a reasonably normal celebrity-- no substance abuse or kooky political views. ;o) Maybe someone with a nice, private home in some exotic locale where I could just relax in peace and quiet.

But honestly, I don't want to be someone else. It'd be pretty creepy, being stuck in a different body, having to pretend to everyone around that you're really what's-her-name. Sounds like a lot of work, actually. Haven't you guys ever seen Freaky Friday? (The old one from the 70's-- not the new one. Oh, ok, either of them! (g))


On a scale of 1-10 (with 10 being highest), how much do you enjoy talking on the phone?

It depends (a lot) on who I'm talking to. When I was a kid, I enjoyed talking to my best friends on the phone. Back then, I probably would've given it a 9 or a 10. When a telephone call was the closest I could be to Donald, I'd definitely have given it a 10. These days, though, I'd generally rather talk in person. I rarely talk to anyone over the phone for more than a few minutes at a time, these days.

If it's someone I like-- and someone who speaks clearly and loudly enough that I can hear them ;o)-- I can still enjoy it. I'd give it an 8, maybe a 9 if the gossip's good. (g) (Just kidding!) If it's a "stranger", I give it a 1. The only thing worse than talking to a stranger on the phone is talking to him/her in person. ;o)


Name a charitable organization to which you have donated (or would like to).

I'm going to send a bunch of polymer clay beads to the Beads of Courage program. They distribute them to seriously ill children (and sometimes their families) to help them mark important milestones along the journey of treatment.

Main Course

What is a food you like so much you could eat it every single day for a month?

If health were no consideration ;o) I think I could live happily on Pizza Hut's pepperoni pizza for at least a month. Hot, cold-- doesn't matter-- I love the stuff. Yum yum yum! (Too bad it clogs your arteries. . .)


Have you or anyone in your family had the flu this year?

My paternal grandmother had it recently, but as far as I know, she's the only one.

So, yet another Feast down.

Rag Quilting Video

Just in case anyone else is interested in rag quilting, I thought I'd share some things I found the other day.

Here are some video clips showing how to make a denim rag quilt:

Go to HGTV's Simply Quilts "video center". Once that's loaded, search (in the video center search box-- not the search box for the whole site) for "denim fray-edged quilt". There are three clips that take you through the whole process of making a denim and cotton (or flannel) rag quilt. It's pretty helpful if you learn best by watching and listening.

If you prefer written instructions, there are quite a few options.

Denim Chenille Quilt, by Catherine Timmons
This site has very detailed, step-by-step instructions for sewing a denim and calico rag quilt. The author even explains how to cut squares from old jeans using shears and a rotary cutter. Her method looks like a good one for getting the maximum number of squares from each pair of jeans (even if you don't have a rotary cutter). When I cut my denim, I took care to preserve the back pockets (to add a decorative touch to projects), but if you aren't worried about that, this is probably the way to go.

Ragged Homespun Quilt, from Jo-Ann Fabrics
Pretty straightforward description of a typical rag quilt. This one suggests homespun, but really, you can use any fabric that frays well.

Denim Rag Quilt, by Helen Cairns
Submit your e-mail and name to get this free pattern for a denim rag quilt using 6 to 8 pairs of old jeans (depending on their size, of course) and about 2 yards of flannel. (This is the pattern I based my first project on. I broke a needle, though, and put it aside before Christmas. More on that below. . .)

Denim Rag Edge with a Twist, by Rachelle Burleson
Denim rag quilt with "peek-a-boo" stars in a contrasting color. (You could change the pattern to have hearts or any other shape you'd like, too.)

Strippy Rag Quilt, by Trish Wilson
Here's a rag quilt with a different look-- scalloped strips instead of rows and columns of squares.

Rag Quilt Pattern, by Janet Wickell
This one alternates four-patch blocks and simple square blocks using five different fabrics. Good if you'd like a more structured look than the typical rag-bag look. (I like both styles, myself.)

Raggedy Quilt, from Crafts of Chaddsford
Yet another set of instructions. . .

No-Sew Calico Quilt, by Kelli Guhde and Cindi Schramer
This is a different type of raggy quilt. You don't even need a sewing machine for this one! Could be a fun project for kids too young to be trusted with a machine-- or for anyone who'd rather do their "sewing" on a comfy sofa.

And there are even more sites out there, but that should be enough to get you started. ;o)

I need to get back to work on my first denim rag quilt. I think I probably should have figured (and cut) for 1/2 inch seam allowances instead of 1/4 inch, based on everything I've been reading, but it's too late to do that now. I suppose I could still sew the squares together with the larger seams, but then the quilt would be quite a bit smaller than I'd figured, and I don't think I have enough matching "backing" fabric to add more squares. Besides, some of my "decorative touches" (pockets, labels, etc.) would be too big for the smaller squares. Well, I'll just carry though with what I originally planned, I guess, and hope that it'll be ok.

I've made one rag quilt-style bag from flannel, since putting away the denim quilt project-- and I'm in the middle of making a denim rag-quilt bag, now. I used scraps left over from the jeans I cut into squares (for the first project) and one of Donald's old button-up cotton shirts. (He still may not believe me ;o), but the poor thing was way past its prime. It had earned the right to go to the rag bag. . . .Why do I suddenly feel like Judy Plum on the prowl for material for her next hooked rug? (g))

I used this pattern, if you're interested. I substituted the denim scraps for the flannel because I wasn't sure how I'd like it and didn't want to waste good fabric on it until I'd practiced a little. I'm still not sure how it'll turn out. Right now it looks pretty pathetic, but I think it'll be better when it's clipped and "ragged".

Well, enough of that. I'll try to put up a photo when the bag's done. . . and maybe upload a picture of the flannel bag, too.

ETA: Psst! If you've stumbled across this blog searching for rag quilting info, you might want to head over to my sewing blog. I've transplanted all my sewing-related posts over there, and that's where I do most of my "fiber arts" rambling, now. :o)

Monday, March 10, 2008

Getting back into things.

Sometimes it's a little awkward to get back into the swing of things. (That goes for most things in life, I guess-- not just blogs.) If it's been a long time since your last post. If too much has happened since last time, and there's no way you can write about it all. If there are things happening that you simply don't want to address. If your last entry was just a little "too" something-- too impassioned? too angry? too painful? too personal?

Anyway, it's time for me to get back into the routine of this blog. I'll be back into silly memes and things, soon, but before I do that, I'd like to thank everyone who commented, e-mailed, and called about Daisy. The world still feels a little bit darker than it did a week ago, but things are steadily improving, and it becomes easier every day to think of her with less regret and more thankfulness. It helps to know that people understand how painful it can be to lose a pet.

This was the first time I lost a pet that meant so much to me. Both the "family dogs" we had when I was old enough to really remember them didn't die until after I'd married and moved out. Though I have very fond memories of Benji and Missy, too, it's different when the pet was part of your daily life up until the very end.

I think that's all. I could go on, but there's nothing I can write that hasn't been expressed a thousand times before. Besides, it seems almost wrong to dwell too long (or at least too publicly) on the loss of a pet when so many people have lost so much more-- when I know that I will, too, sooner or later. . . But thanks again for understanding.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Goodbye, Daisy.

My sunshine dog, Daisy
Originally uploaded by MossyOwls

This morning, we found that sweet Daisy had died during the night.

She wasn't completely herself (due to seizures) in the evening, but we'd seen her recover from worse, so we just did what we could for her, fully believing she'd be back to her usual sunny self in another day or two. Unfortunately, that wasn't to be. . .

It's so hard to believe that she's really gone-- that I'll never hear her bark again, never see her smiling up at me with those intelligent eyes. She may have been "just a dog" to nearly everyone else on this earth, but she was my friend, and I loved her. And, like all the best dogs ever do for their owners, she never failed to make me feel loved in return.

I know I'll make more canine friends in the years to come. I know that I'll love them, too, but I don't expect to ever meet a dog sweeter than my Daisy.

We'll miss you, little peskibo-dog! If any dog deserves to go to Heaven, you do.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Meme -- Friday's Feast

It's too late to play along with the group who answered last week's Friday's Feast questions, but there's no reason why I can't answer them for my own enjoyment. After all, that's the only reason I ever do these things. I leave a link to my blog just because the authors of memes usually ask you to, but personally, I'd just as soon not. I'm not all that interested in building up a huge audience for this blog. If that's not obvious by now, with all my boring posts with nothing but YouTube clips and updates on my epileptic dog and whatnot, I don't know when it ever will be! ;o)

(Speaking of the epileptic dog, it seems I spoke too soon about poor Daisy. She's had a few more seizures since then. Still not as bad as it could be, though.)

Last week's questions:

Who was the last person you hugged?

Donald, this morning. The only people I regularly hug are Donald and some family members, and Donald's the only one I see on a daily basis.

Share a beauty or grooming trick or tip with us.

I'm no beauty expert, so I don't have many tricks or tips. Probably nothing that would be new to anyone. . . Here's one of my great tips ;o): If you're prone to oily hair, but would still like to use conditioner to avoid tangles, keep the product well away from your roots. It's the ends that need the conditioner the most, anyway.

What does the color yellow make you think of?

The first thing that came to mind was a fired egg (because of the yolk, obviously), but other than that, it makes me think of sunshine, I guess. I also think of sickness, but I think that's more because I've read that yellow can symbolize illness than because it just naturally brings that to mind. If you know what I mean. (g)

Main Course
If you were to make your living as a photographer, what subject would your pictures revolve around?

I'd be a landscape photographer with a sideline of botanicals. This is partly because that's what I naturally gravitate toward, but also because it could then be my job to travel and see some of the most beautiful places in the world. On the other hand, maybe I'd devote myself to photographing local landscapes and plants. Fewer hotels that way. ;o)

What was the longest book you ever read?

I'm not sure. Besides, isn't that difficult to compare, from book to book? The font and layout can make a pretty big difference in how many pages a book has. The Count of Monte Cristo was fairly long-- even though the copy I have turned out to be an abridged version.

Trollstigen on YouTube

Trollstigen ("Troll's Ladder"), you may remember, is that really bendy road in Norway. Something made me think of it today, so here are some related videos I found on YouTube:

Overview of the road, from above:

Blue tour buses (?) creeping around the hairpin curves:
(Glad I wasn't on one of those! Or worse yet-- one of the drivers!)

A couple of "race cars" driving down the mountain:
(Not as impressive as I remember it, because the camera never really shows how steep the drop-off is. And yes, this is both lanes; traffic going both directions has to share this road.)

This is what it looks like if/when you meet a car coming in the opposite direction:

And finally, a "transfer truck"-type vehicle trying to negotiate one of the curves:
(I wonder how he ever made it! What a nightmare!)

Monday, March 3, 2008

Back again!

And I'm ready to type up one of my usual snippet-style entries! ;o)

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The All-Important Computer Issues Update:

I guess I shouldn't have bragged about the fact that "my" computer-- the slower, smaller-monitored one that Donald shuns ;o)-- was still up and running, because it almost immediately lost its internet connection. We have it working again, but it's a bit iffy if it'll stay that way, and in order to get the connection back, I lost some of the convenience of getting photos into the computer and using the flash drive, etc. :o( Oh well, I guess I can't complain too much. Well, ok, I can, but I'll try not to. ;o)

Our "main" computer is back, again, too. (Turns out we needed more RAM. If that means anything to you. It doesn't mean much to me. (g) I have a vague idea that RAM is the memory the computer uses to keep applications running smoothly-- kind of like our short-term memory-- but beyond that, I know nothing.) We didn't lose any of our important information, photos, etc., but we did lose our saved email, which is a bit of an annoyance, but not a huge problem.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Does anyone know of a good, safe way to kill those horrible bumblebees that we get around here? I might feel guilty about killing a regular bee (especially since so many honeybees are supposedly dying off for some unknown reason, these days), but for those mean bumblebees I have no pity. Over the past few days, I've noticed that we have at least one that's already set up camp outside our kitchen door. Every year they do this-- guard our door and terrorize me, hovering right in my path, darting back and forth-- almost daring me to come closer. Seriously, they scare me. I don't know what I think they're going to do-- beyond sting me, maybe-- but they're just so intimidating!

Anyway, I want this one dead. Will regular wasp spray work, or do I have to hit it with something? I doubt I can work up the nerve do hit it. . . It takes a lot of willpower for me to squash a regular bug, much less these hovering monsters. ;o) (Yeah, I'm a sissy.)

Maybe the bad weather that we're supposed to get tonight will blow the bee out of town. Wishful thinking. . .

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Have you seen this video yet?

A German jet with over 100 passengers nearly crashed during landing. Pretty scary! I can't imagine what the people on board must've been thinking. Well, I do know what I would've been doing-- praying and panicking! Fortunately, they were able to land safely on another attempt, so no-one was hurt.

K., can you hear/understand what the guys are saying at the end of the video? Just curious. ;o) ( Isn't it just so much fun when people ask you to translate things for them? (g))

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Daisy had another seizure or two, within the past few days, but so far, they've just been the run-of-the-mill sort. Nothing like the time that she was having several a day and never completely recovering between them. We've been giving her diazepam (valium) immediately after she seizes, and that does seem to help keep the "aftershock" seizures to a minimum.

Based on the records we've been keeping, it definitely seems like this is a monthly occurrence (apart from the last time, which we know was triggered by a dosage problem). It makes you wonder why it happens once a month, though. If this pattern holds out, at least we'll know when to expect her next fit.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I'm looking forward to the season finale of the new(ish) Terminator series on TV. It's one of the very few TV shows we both watch. (I don't think I've ever seen the first two movies, but apparently I know enough of the backstory to follow along.) There are others we both like, but most of them have been on hiatus for a while. I wonder when new episodes of The Office and Pushing Daisies will start airing. . .

Watching a show with someone is a pleasant change from watching by myself. It's nice to have someone to talk to about plot twists-- and you don't have to make your predictions and comments to an empty room. Not that I've ever let that stop me before! I don't mind sharing my brilliant insights with no-one but myself, but if there's someone there to talk back, all the better! ;o)