Month: July 2016

“Q” is for “Quilt.” “O” is for “Oops,” Part VI: Assembly Time!

The human female is back at work on the quilt.  A quilt is more than just the sewn-together pieces of the top, you know.  There’s the backing to consider, and the batting.  Batting is so important.  The human female is very, very picky.  She has been to two shops, looking for just what she wants.  (The craft room, as stuffed with stash as it is, apparently does not contain the Perfect Batt.  There IS one in there, butt it’s queen size, and it seems wasteful to cut a baby quilt out of it.)  She doesn’t want wool, as wool dissolves in Oxy-type cleaners and hellobaby quilt, with all the spit-up and leaky diapers that entails. She doesn’t want some weird, off-brand that she’s never heard of, because who knows how that will “needle?”  Some of the cottons are too thick for anything but machine quilting, so they are out.  No, it must be polyester.  Ah!  She has found a display with batts that fit her fussy standards.

Here is the purchased Chosen One, ready to spread out and layer.


Nota bene:  Her quilt is 48″ square.

Of course, she has not discovered this unfortunate fact until too late in the evening to go back to the store and buy one that is large enough.  However, rootling around in the stash like a desperate piglet has turned up a throw-sized batt that someone gave her once.  It’s not precisely what she would have chosen, but it will have to do.

(later.)  The “quilt sandwich” is all basted with safety pins in the middle (I was not allowed to help for some reason) and with thread round the edges.  It is ready for quilting!  Except for this bit:


Looks fine on top, doesn’t it?  Yes, indeed!  But on the back, a great lumpy fold of backing has been caught in the basting.  I wonder if she’ll notice before she quilts it into the finished product?

The quilt is now laid out on the ironing board, set low in front of the sofa, ready for stitches.  Time to find the quilting thread!   The human female is “pretty sure” she has a spool or three left from the last project.  Come, Sigyn, let us help her look.  Stick close to me, though–the craft room can be a scary place!


This is the right color, but it isn’t quilting thread.

This baglet is full of quilting thread, but it’s all the wrong color.


Sigyn likes it, though!  Oh, well, perhaps the right thread will turn up eventually.  Or she can buy a fourth spool..

While we are in here, we should look for the quilting needles.

(much fruitless searching through two boxes of quilting supplies and two sewing boxes later)   She has found them!  And the thread as well!


These are called “betweens.”  Between what?  The sofa cushions–what else!

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Pee Ess

I… I was a teensy bit mistaken.  It seems that the first image in my previous post was somehow reversed (Space Boy’s balloon should be in his left hand, and the young misses with their Geiger counters should be facing the other way.) So the embroidered blocks are correctly placed.  But all of the other faults remain!

As well, the gold-colored thread seems to have run ever so slightly in the washing of the blocks.  Such that if one peers very closely at the center block, it appears as if Space Boy may have peed his pants…

The human female is hoping no one will notice this wee problem.

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“Q” is for “Quilt.” “O” is for “Oops,” Part V: All’s Well That Ends. Well…

She did it. She finished the quilt top–and managed to do it without sewing her fingers together or burning up the motor on the antiquated machine.  Let’s have a look.

For starters, she has sewn the embroidered blocks in the wrong places. Compare with the original plan.  That’s not good.

finished top

It’s possible no one not privy to the original sketches will know, but it will bother her forever.  Which makes me happy.

What do you think overall, Sigyn?  Personally, I find it unsatisfactory.  The embroidered squares are too pale and the dark blue are too dark.   It’s very “meh.”  She says it’ll look better once it’s quilted, but I have grave misgivings.  It’s not going to get any better.

However, upon, closer inspection, I can see that, as far as my work on this project is concerned, it’s a small masterpiece.  Look here, Sigyn–all the little rocketships in the smaller dark blue squares are meant to be pointing inwards.


This one is actually headed off-quilt.  Hardy explorers, in that one.

And look at the larger dark blue squares. They’re the right size.  Now.  But that’s only because she had to re-cut them.  They were all too big!


I have the trimmings to prove it. (Told you the math was vague!)

The back is no better than the front.  I don’t know much about sewing, but I can tell that this is a good corner seam:

good corner

See?  It lies flat.  Now look at this one over here:

Bad corner

The first seam was sewn down in the wrong direction, so the second won’t behave.  Appalling!  Again, the human female swears it won’t be noticeable in the finished quilt, but I feel sure that with all of the poor execution, all of the frustration and despair, all the wonky cuts and mis-measurements, all the false starts and swearing-laden stops, this particular textile will be so imbued with negativity that the infant recipient is sure to bawl like Thor when he was a baby and would have his pudgy little fingers swatted for making grabby hands at Gungnir.

And we haven’t even gotten to the basting yet!


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We Are Fine, and It Wasn’t Me

Just to reassure everyone, this isn’t Sigyn.  Or me.  I knew you’d be worried.

Likewise, though I do like to travel, I would like to go on record as saying I don’t have any plans to let strange viruses follow me home from far afield.

Even though there are no Zikamozzies in the area (yet), in a town with a University full of people who do travel, I suppose it’s only a matter of time until someone brings back a case and the local Dipterans get in on the fun.  Luckily, the Jotun immune system is so robust that I have no fear at all for myself, and Sigyn’s half-Aesir blood should protect her too.

However, it has always been entertaining to watch the human female goop herself up with insect repellent before doing yard work. She hates it.  (Makes her reek even worse than usual, too.)  I imagine she’s going to be slathering on even more of the noxious stuff now.   Extra-oily, extra-cranky.  I will sit in the shade with a cool lemonade, congratulating myself on my superior genetics, and laugh.

Still, a burgeoning epidemic is NOT part of my plan for world domination.  I want the populace fit and healthy, so they can work.  I will do what I can to prevent an outbreak.  In combating mosquitoes, I hear it is important to drain all sources of standing water.

Which is why I just tumped over the human female’s drink.


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Mischief Update: Is Mischief an Event at the Olympics? (part II)

Why, look!  There’s more wickedness over here!

Every now and then I act against my Frost Giant nature and fiddle with the cold rooms in the human female’s workplace.  Two weeks ago, both of them went out.  What, you don’t like 80 F for storing things?  They got fixed over the course of several days, during which time the repairman asked for the human female’s cooler key approximately ninety-five times.  That was such fun that I decided to do it again!  Only one’s out this time, though. I saved some mischief for the electrical outlet in one of the lab rooms so it could make pretty sparks.

(Augh!  The human female is listening to the same video again!)  I think she’s become quite obsessed.  She has tried to buy a DVD of one of the group’s concerts, stalking Amazon, Amazon UK, and ebay, but there appear to be no region 1 or region-free DVDs available.  I tantalized her with a a listing for one, but it turned out to be for Europe.  Then she saw another advertisement, but the seller wasn’t in the same place as the merchandise, so he couldn’t check. I can keep this up indefinitely. So if you notice that the view counts for this video just keep climbing, it’s because there is one person in Texas, watching it over and over.)

The human female has recently hired a new lab prep tech.  (She goes through them at an alarming rate.  They say they’re leaving for grad school or better jobs or to join the circus, but really, it’s to get away from her and the weird things she leaves in the break room fridge.)  There were two very strong candidates.  The top pick was most enthusiastic when offered the job, but as soon as a background check was mentioned, she quickly changed her tune and declined.  Whatever for?  Nothing could be as embarrassing as what’s in the human female’s file, surely?

Sweet Glittery Bifrost, but it is hot today!  Outdoors is no place for a Jotun like me.  I can use the heat, though, to distress the human female.  A twitch here and a nudge there and the sprinklers don’t quite work as advertised.  Remember all the lovely plants the she planted back in March?  Well, first they stopped blooming.  Then they pined for cooler weather.  Now they are almost entirely dry, brown, and crispy.  The nursery has a free-replacement-within-a-year policy, but she is too embarrassed to dig them up and take them back!  Eehehehe!  I can see her now, “Excuse me, but even with my two degrees in horticulture and botany, I was unable to keep these poor, unfortunate plants alive for longer than six months.”  I’m sure the nursery has her face on a poster in the back somewhere, right over “Do not sell plants to this woman” in 48 pt. type.

The aphids and spider mites, though, don’t mind the heat.  They’ve taken care of the milkweed, sage, and marigolds the drought hasn’t decimated. Hugs and kisses to my little arthropod friends.

The nutsedge, grass, and assorted weeds in the cracks in the sidewalk and driveway don’t mind the heat, either.  They’re the greenest part of the yard!  I just love bermudagrass.

All this heat means that one has to be very strongly motivated to want to do anything outdoors, and any outdoor tasks are performed as early in the day as is polite and accomplished as quickly as possible.  A dab of magic on the lawn mower’s throttle cable and another on the clamp that holds the cable’s little housing means that all attempts to start the mower result in the cable clamp coming off the handle so there’s not enough pull on the throttle.  I got her to waste a solid half hour the other morning, trying unsuccessfully to get the clamp to stay put.  Finally, she did an end run around the cable, wedging the throttle open with a piece of wood.  Very well, mortal, you have bested me in this one thing, but may I point out that by the time you began to mow, the heat index was already flirting with triple digits?  I still win.

Later that same day, the humans, showered and cool, ventured out to what was billed as a Food Truck Festival at the local Expo Center.  Twenty trucks, plus 120 merchants inside the pavilion, full of crafts and antiques.  Sigyn and I tagged along because it sounded like an adventure.  I will admit to being torn between having it all be wonderful so that the humans would wander from truck to truck in the heat and get all nasty sweaty again and having it be a total bust.  Sigyn was looking a bit on the warm side, so I decided on total bust.  Nine food trucks, three of them shave ice or ice cream, and the others serving nothing novel, exciting, or appropriately priced.  The most interesting one was the one that is parked on the campus almost every day of the week.  Indoors, things were no better.  Maybe fifty vendors, all selling complete crap (the human female has underwear older than your antique table, lady.)  The “entertainer” was singing a song about punching someone in the face. Classy!  We left in short order.  All in all, it was $5.00 admission the humans wish they had back!

As satisfying as listening to the humans grumble about the heat is, most of my mischief these days is channeled through–what else?–BAMN. It’s a good thing the human female doesn’t mind a little gambling, because she never really knows if it’s going to work.  Sometimes the contact person that the program sends orders to isn’t at the company anymore and the orders hang up in limbo.  Sometimes the vendor has two addresses in the database and only one works.  Do you feel lucky today?  Do you?

But mostly, summer is when the human female puts in the giant enormous COLOSSAL order with the Vendor Who’s Responsible, for all of the upcoming year’s chemicals, glassware, plasticware, and suchlike.  It was a big order this year, some forty-five or so line items.  I’ve mentioned before that the punch-out for this vendor was due a YEAR ago.  A punch-out is a good thing, because it lets a buyer use the vendor’s online catalog and just drop things in the cart, rather than typing out all the catalog numbers and product descriptions.

Well, good news!  The punchout is finally ready!  Armed with the painstakingly crafted and revised quote from the Vendor Who’s Responsible’s customer service rep,


the human female eagerly fired up BAMN and started shopping her little heart out.  She was so careful, making sure she wasn’t ordering cases when she needs single bottles or ordering blue pipette tips when she needs the yellow ones.  She got ALL DONE and then looked at her cart before entering order info.  That’s when she discovered my help.  The items at the top of the list had been added four times, so there was four times as much of everything as she needed.  The items in the middle of the list had been added twice, so she was signed up for double goodies.  The items on the bottom of the list….failed to appear at all.  Poof!  Vanished!  Ehehehe!  A teensy bit of effort from me with the code meant two lost hours of the poor mortal’s time.

She tried again the next day, carefully inputting the order in the old way, item by item, typed line by typed line, saving early and often.  Finally, finally, it was perfect.  Click. Submitted!  She then had a long, hard e-mail conversation with her customer service rep and one of the BAMN liaisons, outlining all of her multitudinous woes.  That’s when the customer service rep told her that if she’d go up to the “my account” button and pull down that menu, she’d see a “my quotes” option.  Poking that would bring up the appropriate quote, which she could dump into a shopping cart with just one click!  Too bad, so sad, must remember that trick for next year!

So the Very Large Order went in to the vendor, but I’ve seen to it that it continues to misbehave.  Since items on it ship from various warehouses at different times, the human female is getting daily deliveries from all over the country.  It’s like Yule, but with packing slips and no toys!  Highlights of the festivities include:

–Having to fill out the “I am not going to use this to make illicit drugs” paperwork.  Again.

–Discovering that the P.O. number for this giant order doesn’t show in BAMN in her list of P.Os.  To do any of the receiving, she has to go to the list of all her requisitions, look it up by the requisition number, click on that, then click to open the P.O.

–Coping with the fact that once she gets to the P.O., BAMN’s default is to display just five lines of any order, so she has to tell it to “display all.”  Then once she’s checked off and saved what has actually arrived, it refreshes to only showing five.  Every. Single. Time.

–Keeping track of what has arrived when.  For example–three one-liter bottles of diethyl ether?  One of them shipped on one day from one city.  The remaining two followed the next week, arriving from a different place.  I keep hearing her mumble something that sounds like “herding cats,” but that can’t be right.

–Enjoying the fact that anything that ships directly from the Vendor Who’s Responsible comes with a packing slip that lists every item on the P.O., even if only one item is included in that particular shipment.  One bottle of creatinine arrives?  Here, have eight pages of useless paper!

–Making note of what has come in without any paperwork at all.  Six bottles of something or other showed up one day with no packing slip.  Two days later, a packing slip showing the six bottles showed up in a box they weren’t in.

–Receiving a telephone call from the Chemistry stockroom (different department, other side of campus), letting her know that they had her Benedict’s solution.  She got them to agree to label it correctly and explicitly and give it back to the delivery courier.  I’ve had a word with the courier, and it’s anyone’s guess whether it’ll ever actually arrive over here.  I am guessing it’s in Cairo.  (The Egypt one, not the U.S. one.)

I am opening a betting pool on which item in the order is going to be the last to show up.  My money’s on microscope slide cover slips, because the Vendor Who’s Responsible never has enough on hand.  The human female wrote “may substitute cover slips of similar size and thickness from this or other manufacturer” on the order, but my money’s on an indefinite backorder of this one particular product.  I’ll keep you posted.

The final kicker?  BAMN has behaved so abominably (Thank you!  I do try.) that the University has told colleges and departments that they can switch back to the previous, beloved ordering software if they choose.

A$ long a$ they pay for the $witch.

Is this the point where I should talk about the 4% budget cuts that loom upon the horizon?

Good times.

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Mischief Update: Is “Mischief” an Event at the Olympics? (part I)

Because if it is, I could definitely medal in the 400-meter Naughty.

Hmm.  Where to start?  You know how I’ve been helping with the quilting, but so much else has been going on.  I could begin with how I’ve arranged it so that the human female’s milk never comes out even.  There’s always not quite enough for the cereal that’s in the bowl, or else there is too much, necessitating more cereal, iterum atque iterum.  I also make sure that when it’s shopping day, she’s not close to running out, and there isn’t room in the fridge for a new jug.  Midweek, however, the old lot is going off and it’s time to buy more.

The first summer semester at the university ended not with a bang, but with a whimper from the human female when one of the teaching assistants failed to show up to administer a laboratory final.  Cue scurrying of the human female and all her techs to set up the practical, check it, administer it to the confused undergrads, and call anyone who might possibly know where the missing TA was.  He was finally located unharmed–he and I had merely gone out to breakfast and lost track of time.   This was, unfortunately, the last demerit and/or  the last straw, and the TA was relieved of his teaching position for the second summer session.  This necessitated finding a substitute at the last moment, one who was not actually in the country and who could not get back until the second week of class.  The human female is getting grayer and grayer at an alarming rate.

The car is not helping.  You recall the results of my community activism project?  I had mentioned that sixty citizens participated in glass-sweeping festivities.  I underestimated my impact!  Seventy windshields were enrolled in the program that night, and seven others since then.  The human female had hers replaced in short order.  Then she discovered that her rear heads-up brake light and rear windshield squirter were not working, so the car got to make a second trip to the shop.  (Keep in mind that every trip requires a chase vehicle to ferry her away and a ride back to the shop later to pick up the vehicle.)  The good people of Almost Right Auto Glass repaired the brake light (broken bulb, no doubt sustained as the brake light was dangling and banging on the first trip in for repairs) but were unable to induce the squirters to squirt.  The human female was instructed to bring the vehicle back the next day, when more knowledgeable help would be available.  Alas! Available, but unable to avail.  Third time was NOT the charm, and the car has an appointment with the dealer.  In the meantime, the car has that fpppppy rattle that indicates oak leaves sucked into the air system.  We all know where that leads…

Which reminds me–oak leaves!  The human female can thank me, because there will be fewer to rake this fall.  I have manipulated heat, drought, and spotty irrigation to ensure that one of her large, mature post oaks has completed its slow and painful decline.  It must needs come down in a controlled fashion lest it topple in an uncontrolled manner and create a pleasant but inconvenient skylight in the dining room or the garage.  Or turn the human female’s car (which sits in the driveway) into a loaf of split-top bread.  Ehehehehe!  This is not going to be cheap, because it is tall, branchy, and surrounded by saplings and a very breakable wooden fence. The humans have dithered and piddled, getting various estimates and trying to decide whether to have it removed entirely or to leave a branchless pole that could not strike the house but which might serve as habitat for wildlife.  I believe they have finally decided upon total removal, so now I’ve made sure that the tree service can’t schedule them for two weeks or more.  I wonder if I could kick up a good windstorm between now and then?  Because who doesn’t want MORE reasons to talk to the insurance people?

The human female took a Famous Spreadsheet Program class at work, to try to learn more about the arcane workbooks and formulae that are used to crunch all the student grade numbers.  Like the suck-up teacher’s pet she is, she sat right in the front row.  That meant, when I pulled the fire alarm, she was one of the first out the door.  Eventually, the class was allowed back in, but they were then running behind, which meant the rapid-pattering and slightly disorganized instructor had even less time to skip around in the notes and discuss topics that weren’t on the agenda.  During the second day, it dawned on the human female that a) I’d tampered with her watch so that she was tardy; b) the instructor was dyslexic, so his instructions to “right” click or move to the “left” of the screen were 43% suspect; and c) she is too old and too slow to have any business being a student of anything.

And then there’s…. No, you know what?  I’m getting a cramp, typing so much. I’ve been so mischievous that this update is going to have to come in two parts!  I think that’s a first!  Definitely a 10!

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“Q” is for “Quilt.” “O” is for “Oops,” Part IV: If You Make Something Idiot-Proof…

As I have noted before, the human female’s sewing machine is older than she is.  Kinda dinged up, some of the finish peeling, no fancy whistles and bells, no clever electronic brain, no fool-proof safety features–and the machine is pretty basic as well!   Still, it manages to turn out a pretty good seam.

foot up

Providing she remembers to lower the presser foot.  Tsk, tsk.  It’s a good thing that Mister Seam-Ripper is our friend.


Let’s try again!  Edges aligned, foot down, and…go!


The human female is pulling at her gray hair and muttering.  What’s that?  Oh.  Well, why didn’t you TELL me you needed me to hand you the pieces right-sides-together?


There!  Pat yourself on your pointy little head, mortal!  You successfully managed a three-and-a-half-inch seam!

sewn right

Or you would have, if you had remembered to check the bobbin…


I can see that it is going to be a looooong afternoon.  I shall have to supervise your every action carefully.   Take a deep breath and calm yourself, lest you fill this quilt with so much negative energy that the tot cries every time he sees it.

Here, let me help.  Tell you what:  I’ll match up the pieces, right-sides-together, pin them, and hand them to you to sew.  You can manage that, can’t you?

Proper pinning is essential. Most people don’t use enough pins, and the work slips.


No chance of that happening today!   Hogun’s topknot, woman!  Quit your crying!  Here–I’ll even feed it through the machine for you!  Do I have to do everything myself?


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“Q” is for “Quilt.” “O” is for “Oops”, Part III: Making Little Pieces out of Big Pieces

Time to cut the rest of the quilt pieces!  The fabric has to be ironed first.  Rats!  The human female has forestalled me by owning an iron that shuts itself off after sitting unused for five minutes.  I was hoping for some interesting scorchy smells.

This speckledy red fabric will be in the body of the quilt and is meant to be the binding as well.   Long, precisely-cut narrow strips are needed for that, so it is crucial that the ruler not slip during the pass with the rotary cutter.


Oh, too bad!  I assure you, I had no idea a sneeze was coming just then!  There is extra yardage, is there not?  (And Jotun snot washes out.  Mostly.)

Not so the yellow fabric.  No, you will have to cut most carefully.


You really are appallingly bad at this, aren’t you?

Sigyn, be careful!  The human female’s almost done, and I’d hate for you to be swept up in the tidying process.


There.  All the quilty bits are cut.  Norns’ nighties!  Look at how much fabric is left over!  I think there is more than we started with.


I shall have to get into the craft room later and hide it all, just in case the female has the least inkling of a notion to make me anything with creepy sputnik space babies on it.

Although that darker blue fabric isn’t too hideous, and I understand that lucky rocketship underpants are a thing.

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“Q” is for “Quilt.” “O” is for “Oops,” Part II: Cutting Out and Cutting Up

Having finished the embroidered blocks, washed them, and pressed them, the human female is preparing to “square them up” to just the right size.  Let’s start with this flying saucer.


After all the hard work of doing the embroidery, it is critical to trim the blocks correctly.  The motifs must be centered top to bottom and side to side. This is to be accomplished with the use of a cutting mat, a ruler, and a wicked-looking rotary blade.


Loki likee…   Here–I’ll show you where to cut.


Um, you DID remember to account for seam allowance, didn’t you?


No?   Eheheheheheh!  Brilliant!  First cut on the quilt and it is WRONG!  A block that will be nine inches across must be cut nine-and-a-half inches in either direction.  Look at how close those “zoom” lines are to the edge!   The human female has enough fabric to get the nine and a half inches she needs, but that poor saucer will never be centered now!

Hmm, how can we torture Space Boy…?


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“Q” is for “Quilt.” “O” is for “Oops,” Part I: Doomed From the Outset

The human female, in what in retrospect has proven to be a miscalculation on her part, made a baby quilt with hand-embroidery for the first grandniece. I’ve never understood the Midgardian fascination for cutting up perfectly good cloth, only to sew it together again in a different fashion, nor spending countless hours on an object that will be dragged about and subjected to a wide array of bodily effluvia, but at least the results were colorful.


This quilt Established a Precedent, so she was compelled to make one for the second grandniece.  That one featured three anthropomorphized ursines and their adventures with a small, blond, vandal…


When the grandnephew made an appearance, she once again set about creating a quilt with what she terms a “period kitschy” style.  That one had circus animals.  It must have been forgettable, though, because I can’t find any photos of it.

Well, apparently, there is another grandnephew, so there is yet another quilt in the works.


That’s it?  This is the great future heirloom and repository of toddler drool?  Vague scratchings and even vaguer math.  This could be bad.  Very bad.


The first quilt featured animal designs from the 1920’s.  The next two featured 1930’s prints.  The featured fabric for this one… Oh, Sigyn, look away!  It’s TOO HORRIBLE! 


Creepy Sputnik-era Space Babies!  Sigyn thinks the kitten in the space ball is cute.  I think this is going to give the child nightmares.  I must stop this monstrosity from coming into being—but how?

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