Archive for January, 2009

Punch Cards

great stuff, great staffApple Tree Quilts in Flushing, Michigan has the right idea. It’s a blast to go in there because they have great stuff and great staff.  How many other folks would pose for a photograph knowing it would wind up in one of my lectures? (Email them at

Apple Pickin' CardThey also have punch cards. I lose about one punch card for every one they start for me, which is probably par for the course when it comes to punch cards. That might even be why merchants offer them; what do I know.  But, if and when the lost punch cards show up, they’ll combine them for me. 

The punch card for Apple Tree Quilts is themed. I like that too. It’s an apple tree and  it’s called an Apple Pickin’ Card. I got another one today. I put it in my wallet this time. Or my coat pocket. Wait, it might be in the bag…

We’ve been going to the same Chinese buffet for about 12 years, way more times a week than I’d like to admit. They have punch cards too but I’m not as impressed. Not nearly. 

Too many punch cards bad for pocketbook.

Every time Steve and eat there we each get one punch. One for each meal. But they insist on punching TWO separate punch cards. We come in together, we sit at the same table, we go to the buffet tables together, our meals are on the same bill, and yet we each get the equivalent of a punch, but on TWO cards. This makes me crazy!

They won’t put both punches on the SAME card. Everybody else does that.  And they won’t combine the cards. Argh! We can’t keep track of the dumb punch cards any better than the ones for Apple Tree Quilts and so we keep getting new punch cards, and losing those. Over a decade of dining and we’ve gotten maybe three free meals!

I have explained that we are good customers. We don’t hog the crab legs. We don’t eat for three hours solid to “get our money’s worth.”  We are polite to the staff and other diners. We respect the sneeze shield, unlike some patrons who reach under there like they plan on crawling in with the Pepper Shrimp. We tip. We keep coming back. We feel like idiots.

Administering a “loyalty program” that makes your customers angry and/or feeling stupid is a fairly bad marketing plan. We should just eat elsewhere. But it’s so convenient. And, if given enough time I’m sure I could make them see the light.

I have a plan. The next time we go there I’m going to make Steve go in first and get seated. Then I’ll come in and pretend I don’t know him.  I’ll snag the table right next to his. Instead of talking face to face, we’ll pass notes back and forth. We’ll linger over the fried rice and exchange news of the day, as if we just happened to bump into each other. When it’s time for the bills, we’ll get two! First he’ll pay and (get punched) and stuff the punch card behind the little Budda statue on the counter. Then I’ll come up to pay, just another diner, totally unrelated to the cute guy that just left. I’ll create a small diversion, perhaps by “accindentally” knocking over the pencil holder filled with rice. While the owner is cleaning that up, I’ll retrieve Steve’s punch card and present it for my dinner! HA! I will not be denied.

I just KNOW it will work. Look at what my fortune says:

Full steam ahead!

I’m going to do that the very next time we eat there.  Make that the very next time we eat there after that! Look what I just found!

Will wonders never cease?!

Now, can someone translate the “punches?”

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January 30, 2009 at 6:07 am 11 comments

More Better

I have two quilts planned for Mom’s clothes.  Since she or I made most of her pants, and when she was well she wore pretty wild stuff, I decided Goodwill would never find a long-legged match for them. Besides, they were beyond “gently used.”  There will be a quilt from her pants later, maybe with a wild sock border. Still pondering.

Mom’s shirts were another story. They were fairly new and I felt a little guilty about chopping them up. Nonetheless, they have been “filleted” (cut apart at the seams, another Mom-ism) and as I work around the stains, I’m feeling better about it.

I knew from the start I wanted a series of  squares within squares set on black with a hand-sewn blanket stitch in black perle cotton around all the raw edges. Not that my Bernina wouldn’t do a fantastic job, this quilt just needed to be needled by hand, slowly, over time, to let the sad out and the happy back in.

So, the last couple of days I’ve been fusing Pellon’s 906F, a very lightweight fusible interfacing, to the wrong sides of Mom’s cotton/spandex shirts and the two pair of LLBean extra long black stretch slacks. I got to cutting the patches out and arranged the first four last night.

Mom's quilt begun

There was something very satisfying about the colors. Each block would be a different combination. It would be bright, and cheery, and… boring.

Mom wasn’t like that. She was wild and exciting. Although she could, she never colored within the lines.  That had already been done before. And she never lined things up! I’m the anal one. I’m Monk. I actually took a ruler and measured all four sides on each square in an attempt to get the patches perfectly centered, one on top of the other! And yes, it DOES bother me that the blocks aren’t lined up in the photo. I can’t imagine how long I would have fretted before fusing. Nope. This wasn’t her.

More better This may not be her either, but as she would have said, it’s “more better.”

I can still see too much me in there, but it’s a start. Maybe with practice I can push a patch or two beyond the boundary of the patch beneath it. That will be my new challenge.

I was thinking of drawing a line 1/8″ from the edge so that all the stitches would be even. Maybe I should purposely make some really long instead. I need to embrace my inner asymmetry. With each design choice, I will channel Mom. What would she have done? Wish me luck!

January 28, 2009 at 7:18 am 23 comments

Wigging Out

Madison T. Dog here again. Mom’s laughing too hard to type. She was cleaning out Beebe’s closet upstairs and found her clown wig. My Nannie used to be a clown.

Baby Beebe


She went to Clown College when she was in her mid-70’s so she could entertain the old people. She talked in a funny voice, painted faces, and once got stopped by the cops on the way to a performance. (She was dressed in her clown outfit at the time.)

All the reminiscing. It was such fun. And then Mom leaned over with the wig and before I knew what was happening I was blond and curly!

Wigging out. I’m hoping I get an extra scoop of kibble for this.

Could I please remind readers that I am a BOY dog. Is there a union representative I should be talking with?

Whatever you do, do NOT under any circumstances tell the squirrels in the back yard. I would never be able to live it down. I’m just grateful they have dial-up and won’t wait until all the pictures load.

Madison, like President Madison, not Dolly.

January 26, 2009 at 7:27 am 30 comments

I Hope It’s NOT In There!

‘It’s in there!’ You remember the Prego spaghetti sauce tag-line, right?

I’m an adventurous eater and I’ve tasted my share of strange foods, the most odd (don’t worry there’s no photo) was in Italy many years ago. I ordered “calamaretti.” Little calamari. Squid. The whole squid, heads and legs, each one about the size of my thumb from the knuckle up. I was in for a treat.

So here comes my plate of calamaretti. I note that they are batter dipped and fried. Well most of them were batter dipped. Let me clarify: PARTS of them were battered. Apparently their little black eyeballs somehow repelled the batter and remained uncovered, staring at me. I ate them anyway and they were delicious, but the bottom line is that I might be a picky eater, but I have a wide comfort range.

This brings me to a recent meal at the Michigan (and maybe elsewhere)chain, Salvatore Scallopini.  They have a marinara to dip your bread in as you wait for your food that is to die for. And, so far (maybe not after this blog) they allow us to call ahead and ask them to put in a loaf of the “good” bread just for us. That’s the bread they usually serve on Sunday, the bread that is the perfect combination of soft inside and crusty outside. They bake a loaf just for us. (Why they don’t serve this bread every day is a mystery to me.) But back to my story.

The waitress brings out the nightly specials and at the top of the list is Penne Palamino.  I’ve lived in Italy for a year at a time and I’ve never heard of this particular sauce. Its name, however reminded both Steve and I of our honeymoon in Quebec.  It was there in Quebec, at one of the snooty restaurants we ate at that we saw this explanation under something on the menu that was all in French :  “Meat from a neighing animal.” Thinking this must be a poor translation, we asked the waiter. He confirmed, intoning, “Yez, Madam, zat eez correct. Orse.” (The ‘H’ was silent.) Eeeew!

So back to the Palamino Sauce. I’m sorry, but this is a bad name for pasta sauce. I don’t care if they made it up or it it’s a real dish. And I’m not that great a speller so I don’t care if the horse with the very similar name is but one letter off (palomino, not palamino).  I understand and celebrate the notion that other cultures eat differently that we do, but there it was on the menu. In Flint, Michigan. Where nobody serves Orse. Not good. Especially since I didn’t have my camera on me. (You know I photograph things that make you wonder, “What Were They THINKING!” And so do a lot of other people.)

Pass me the calamaretti…

January 23, 2009 at 7:37 am 10 comments

I Can See Clearly Now

New LensesLiterally. I got new glasses. Well, same frames, different lenses. While I wasn’t looking, my prescription changed by “two clicks,” presumably in the wrong direction. 

As of 20 minutes ago, my lenses are corrected. I look the same, but I see much differently.

Everything is much larger. And closer.  And brighter.  And I have become short. I look down at the pavement and it is measurably closer to me. It appears to be the same distance as it would have been with my old lenses as if I were on my knees! I used to be 5′ 8″ and now I feel closer to 4′ 8″. I’m very short, compact. I feel it in my gut. My center of gravity is lower now. Maybe this will help with my coordination as I walk and chew gum for instance. Previously, with the ground so far away, I had a great distance to fall. Now, not so much. My gait, once tentative, may become more fluid, graceful even.  I’m excited. Maybe I won’t trip so much.

My hands, fingers, and keyboard have shrunk however. I am worried about this. Will my #10 between have shrunk also? Wait! Maybe my stitches have gotten smaller too? Cool! Until I try to make more. Did they put one lens in upside-down? I think my hands should have gotten larger too. I want my 200 threadcount cotton quilting fabric to look like burlap.

Hold on. My face looks older. Since when did I get so wrinkly?! This is so not fair. I didn’t sign up for this. And what’s with the dirt on the mirrror?! That wasn’t there this morning.  

Change. Just when you get used to something it changes. Change is really the only thing that’s constant. What irony! Speaking of irony, I’m going to plug in the Rowenta and have at it.


January 21, 2009 at 7:08 am 23 comments

The Alzheimer’s Stamp

Alzheimer's StampFor $8.40 you get 20 stamps for a first class letter.

It says “Care. Support. Research.” at the top of the page of stamps, but no additional money is collected by the post office to fund Alzheimer’s care, support, or research.

I had so wanted to title this post “Stamp Out Alzheimer’s.” That stamp hasn’t been issued yet. This is only an “awareness” stamp. If public response is good, the postal service may consider a stamp that would actually help us fight this battle.

So, the best thing you can do now is to buy this stamp, so there will be a future Alzheimer’s-themed stamp that will fund research to treat, prevent, and cure this vile disease.  Buy. Peel. Stick. Hope.

January 19, 2009 at 7:00 am 10 comments

Towel Hugs

I’ve been spending a lot of time “nesting.”  For me, that’s attending to small projects around the house. Nothing major, just putting away the clutter and cleaning drawers and closets. Organizing. Taking inventory. Weeding stuff out, and re-purposing. I’m not a big thrower-outer. I have pack rat tendencies.

Major stuff would be cleaning out the garage. All of Mom’s things from her room at the Alzheimer’s facility are making it pretty hard for Steve to park in there.  He is motivated to clean the garage. Me? Not so much.

I re-purposed towels. The towels were in the garage, so I am helping. Just not very fast. The towels had BEEBE monogrammed in wide-tip black marker on the part near the edge. That was so that all her towels wound up in her room and not someone else’s. Marking them I thought of summer camp where you do the same thing.

I liked the towels. They match our bathroom, coincidentally. And I liked that fact that they were Mom’s. I just didn’t like staring at her name.


Quilted Shower CurtainSo, I found fabric that looked like they were from the quilted shower curtain on the opposite wall, and I cut strips from it about an inch wider and an inch longer than the woven part of the towel.

I placed the strips on the towel and folded under the edges to cover. Then I pressed Steam-A-Seam onto the wrong side of the strip. After peeling off the remaining paper, I just plopped the fabric strip over the BEEBE, fused, and top stitched the fabric strip in place at the crease of the fabric.

I did all Mom’s hand towels and all her bath towels.


So now, every morning, I get a towel hug from Mom. It’s a nice way to start the day.


January 16, 2009 at 7:36 am 27 comments

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Ami Simms

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