Monday, May 3, 2010

I've been making Perfect Little Stitches' "towel wraps for your hair"

I've been  experimenting with making these hair towels from Perfect Little Stitches for a while trying to get the appropriate size for me.  Skip to My Lou  put up directions that I find little easier.   Adjustments to sizing were definitely necessary for a better personal fit.  I apparently have a pin head.  I've known it for a while. Baseball caps pulled down to fit the top of my head leave the tops of my ears stick straight out.  I wasn't surprised when my first few attempts quickly became gifts for women with normal sized heads.  I love these things, though.  They are so easy to use, stay on so much better than a regular towel, save on laundry--they're smaller, and they have that great little elastic loop to hang on the back of the bathroom door.

I used terry cloth fabric from Joann's instead of towels as the tutorials suggest.  Originally I did this because I wanted to experiment on inexpensive fabric.  As it turned out, the terry fabric is a great weight, washes well, and dries quickly.  I can make two hair towels out of a yard of fabric which is definitely less expensive than using towels especially if you get the fabric on sale.   

The patterns are 36 inches long which I found to be way more than necessary.  In fact, I found that length to be uncomfortable hanging down my back and harder to put through and take out of the elastic hoop.  I cut that down to 32 inches.  However, for someone with really long and/or thick hair, the 36 inches might be necessary.  I also cut the height from 12 inches to 10.

If you've made them yourself, let me know how the sizing worked for you.  If you haven't, give it a try.  It's a quick and easy project.

A Short Look at a Short Book: Peter Kreeft's "If Einstein Had Been a Surfer"

I wanted to put the book title above in italics or underline it, but Blogger setup does not support that even by cutting and pasting.  If someone knows the trick, I'd appreciate knowing how to work around this.  Oh, but I can do it here!!  If Einstein Had Been A SurferOh, no!  That was supposed to be in italics, but the Amazon link will only let me underline it.   Does this level of focus on italics indicate an obsessive-compulsive disorder?

So, about the book.  I have a love-hate relationship with this beginner's guide to a subject that baffled even Einstein.  It is the author's redaction of conversations by three "friends" relating to what Einstein called the "Unified Field Theory."  Others have since called it the "Theory of Everything," and, in this book, Libby suggests calling it, "The Universal Wave Theory."    The three in conversation are a Christian who is a scientist with a  theology degree, a Muslim philosopher/scientist, and a Christian surfer/poet/psychologist/psychiatric social worker.  Obviously religion plays a large role in their discussions.The conversations introduce some of the hows, whys, and problems of the theory at a very basic level.  My brain would normally quickly send me signals to stop reading this subject matter.  However, the book manages to provide information at a level I could understand and enjoy.

While I found useful, thought-provoking information in the book, I too often found that the interactions of two of the participants (Isa and Libby), were negative to the point of distraction.  Isa whips out his religion constantly in a most unbending manner, using it to rudely bash beliefs and ideas presented by the others.  He appears to have little respect or even liking for Libby.  Libby does, however, often go off on tangents.  The surfing analogy was useful, but overdone to the point of distraction.  Her attempts to be the intellectual laid-back surfer end up making her look like a bit of an airhead.  The list of jobs Kreeft attributes to Libby indicate she has had some trouble deciding what she wants to be when she grows up.  She actually refers to herself as "surfer girl" at one point. [Note to Libby:  You are grown up now!  You are a woman!  If you must define yourself first and foremost as a surfer, fine.  Just drop the girl.  With all the credentials and jobs listed, you've got to be at the very least in your late twenties.]  Libby also has the unattractive feminist habit of attacking what she thinks may be anti-feminist remarks rather than dealing with them in a reasoned manner.  As a result, Evan, the last member of the trio must not only contribute his viewpoint, but also serve as moderator (referee?) for the group.

That said, the book had some significant pluses.  The simplified explanations of concepts and theories offered throughout the book make this difficult subject absolutely approachable. The book introduced me to the idea that the mechanics relating to waves may extend much further than I had imagined.  There are light waves, sound waves, brain waves, etc.  But Isa brings up the idea of thought waves and soul waves.  Libby mentions that emotions come in waves.  The what if's of these ideas inspire me! The waves discussion and the one on synchronicity alone made it a powerful read for me. Throughout the book, however, novices will gain useful information and clearer understandings of some complex issues . 

I now not only know that a unified field theory will require that ordinary physics, quantum physics, ordinary conscious, and unconscious be unified, I care enough to want to know more.
If Einstein Had Been a Surfer: A Surfer, a Scientist, and a Philosopher Discuss a "Universal Wave Theory" or "Theory of Everything"

If anyone else has read it, I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Is there a contest for the ugliest quilt ever??

I said I would post the good, bad, and ugly.  This quilt top comes under the ugly.  It's a bit of a long story to understand how this bit of ugly was born.  First, I bought some green chairs that I love.  Others look at them politely with a pained expression or just out-and-out ask what in hell I was thinking buying putrid green chairs.  I love these chairs.  They are extremely comfortable.  I'm sitting in one right now.  It turned out that they did not exactly go with the two shades of green wall paint, though.  Okay, here they are.  Don't try to adjust your screen.  This really is the color.

In an attempt to pull the room together, I started looking for quilt fabric with the colors of the chair and walls.  Each individual fabric was really nice.  Together, they are truly horrific.  I kept thinking that when it was all together, it would look good.  So, here it is:

Please excuse the faux fur bench.  It was an attempt at that touch of whimsy all the designers talk about.  Off topic--back to the ugly.  I honestly thought the browns in the bench, quilt, bed skirt and pillows would somehow pull together. 

This picture shows the greens in the quilt and the chairs.

See, the greens do at least match the chair.  Unfortunately this picture is deceptive.  When you are in the room, the quilt looks overwhelmingly brown with  garish flashes of blue and white from that one fabric.

I'm supposed to start the actual quilting.  The thoughts of spending that much time looking at it are scary.  Please, someone give me permission to put this in the closet until my eyesight fails.

Meditation: Day Three - I Think I Passed Level 1

Day three was some sitting and walking meditation practice, discussion groups, and a final short talk.

Overall, I think a major benefit was to be with a group containing many beginners who were willing to ask questions.  Authors try to answer questions in books and audios, but they are not necessarily the right questions for the listener.  You also can't ask for clarification.

It was so comforting to know that almost everyone found meditating to be difficult.  Trying to sit still,  focus on the moment, gently brush aside all the thoughts that incessantly push in, not get angry with yourself when you need to refocus over and over and over IS the process.  Despite practice, we will still be human and the process will be a challenge. It turns out that I wasn't all that bad at meditating after all.

I also was able to find out what all those cushions were for and why some people sit one way and others another. I learned lots of options for being as comfortable as possible while meditating.

Last, I learned that I am going to get old and die--if I'm lucky.  Bad thing will still happen.  I will have the opportunity, however, to handle these things a bit differently than I might have before attending this course.  Rather than running away from things or wallowing in self-pity, I will try to experience what is happening, come to grips with it, and let it go.  Yes!  I'm signing up for level 2.

Home-made fire starters

As we move into campfire season, I am reminded of my home-made fire starter venture this winter.  Right after the winter holidays, blogger, Wisdom of the Moon, had a post about making fire starters from left over things at home.  I've made them before, and the post was a good push to do it again.

The blog advice at Wisdom was to put dried pine needles from holiday trees or the like into the individual pockets of paper egg cartons and pour melted wax from candle stubs into each.  I had always used dryer lint instead of pine needles and paper cupcake liners instead of egg cartons.  I liked the idea of the pine needles, but using up that useless dryer lint always made me feel good.  My eggs come in plastic containers since it's the only way I can get free-range eggs around here. In this case, I'd rather support more humane farming practices than be green.

On checking back to read comments at Wisdom, though, I found some disturbing information.  Someone else mentioned using dryer lint and the question arose, "Isn't there hair in dryer lint?"  I never thought of that.  In checking my finished fire starters, I was mortified to see that when held in the sunlight, there were definitely strands of hair standing up there.  I had planned on giving some of these away.  I don't know how to broach this subject delicately, but, there was also the question of just where the hair came from.  I'll leave it at that.  The normal display near the hearth pictured here:
won't be happening until I need a new supply of fire starters.  I did do some with the pine needles. They're easier to work with.  With lint, you have to keep topping off each one as the lint settles down.  The pine needles are just plain prettier and smell better, too.   I gave the pine ones away before getting pictures.  Trust me, though, they look much better even close up.

I do a few things differently that I think might work for others.  Rather than melting the candles on the double boiler as suggested at Wisdom, I use my large electric candle melter that you usually use to give off the candle scent without burning them.  I melt down the ones that have lost their scent for the fire starters first and then drop leftover stubs in the glass a few at a time.  Since there is always a lot of leftover wick material, I take it out of the melted wax (a wooden skewer works well), cut them up, and put pieces in the "cupcakes" as they begin to thicken.  It gives another place to light in addition to the paper when making a fire.  I put the cupcake tins in the sink to pour the wax.  There is little mess, but if something does spill, it can easily be cleaned up.

It may be a bit slower to use the melter, but it cuts down on the size of the equipment I need to keep for messing with wax.  I use the same disposable cupcake tins over and over.  They stack together and take up very little storage space.  

As for dryer lint, I am mixing it with potting soil for outside plantings.  If someone knows a good reason I should not be subjecting hostas and marigolds to dryer lint, please put it in the comment section.  I have a whole new respect for comment sections.  How humiliating it would have been to give away the hairy fire starters!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

My Copy of Imagine is Here!


My copy of Imagine by Norman Messenger has arrived, and it is as wonderful as I have heard.  While this book may be listed as a children's book, it is just as much fun for adults.  Each page is a new and beautifully illustrated piece to fire the imagination or get the brain working.   To add to the fun, the pages also have tiny puzzles to solve in the top corners.  I have it sitting on my coffee table.  I'll let little visitors enjoy it--I'm sure they will, but it is definitely for the adults, too.

Meditation: Day Two - Success At Last!

Yes!  It was a great day.   After last night, I was more than a bit worried about how today's meditation classes would go.  While everyone was still schmoozing at the continental breakfast.  I grabbed a set of cushions in the back row and began the process of figuring out how to sit on them.  The downside to that was that I hadn't eaten and that became quite obvious during silent meditation time.  It's kind of hard to relax your muscles as they suggest AND squeeze stomach muscles to squelch the constant rumbling.  Fortunately the stomach settled down after about a half hour. 

Sitting meditation went well.  I learned that if you don't scratch the itch, it usually just goes away.  I also learned that the Shambhala way of keeping the eyes open and cast down works better for me.  With closed eyes, I tend to start falling asleep.

Shambhala standing meditation is a faster walk than Zen standing meditation and slower than the usual way of walking.  Sounds easy, doesn't it?  Somehow it makes me feel a bit unsteady.  Just when I felt stable, I realized that I was not actually meditating but, rather, taking in all the things in the room.  By day's end, however, I was feeling pretty good about it.  I could probably draw a near perfect picture of the room and everything in it.  Still, there was progress. 

Staff and other participants were all kind and helpful.  There were a few readings from Shambhala:  The Sacred Path of the Warrior by Chogyam Trungpa that were so meaningful and helpful to me I wanted to get the book.  How nice that we each received a copy as a gift just before leaving.

So, tomorrow morning we have another go at practicing before I branch out on my own.  Fortunately, the center has numbers of things going on.  I'm sure I will be stopping in often.