Saturday, March 29, 2008

on his face is a map of the world

i love my new glasses. love. love. love. them.

i also love my new dkny jeans and my two cute new silk blouses that i got today with my sister. and i love spending time with my sister.

oh, and i got a job, hooray!

Friday, March 28, 2008

diving by zero will make the universe implode, everyone knows that.

i heard a sponsor blurb on npr the other day for subaru’s new partial-zero emissions vehicles. this intrigued me. partial-zero? how is this possible? i have been racking my brain and have yet to figure it out. the way i see it, a car is either emitting exhaust or it is not. how are you emitting exhaust but kinda sorta not really emitting exhaust? you either are or you aren’t.

the name is intriguing also: partial-zero. how do have part of zero? what part? a quarter? a half? an eighth? one one-hundredth? how would you figure that? here is the equation:

¼ x 0 = ?

now, i am not a math whiz, but i distinctly recall that anything multiplied by zero (“of”) equals zero. so one-quarter of zero is zero. so according to the math, “partial-zero” does not exist. partial-zero is zero. so why would you advertise partial-zero emissions, if partial-zero equals zero? wouldn’t you just advertise zero emissions? after all, it’s so very pc to be green, and zero emissions is more green than some emissions (no matter how small).

* according to subaru’s website, the “[partial-zero emissions vehicle] pzev has 90% cleaner emissions than the average new vehicle” and meets california’s tough super-ultra-low-emission exhaust vehicle standard. don’t get me wrong, i understand perfectly the advertising concept behind the “partial-zero” emissions tag. i’ve just been intrigued by the tag. my main problem behind it is that (to me) it assumes a level of stupidity on the part of the consumer, and i hate being condescended to.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

the year of living gently

a couple of years ago i decided to swear off new year’s resolutions, since i’m never disciplined enough to keep them and failing is so discouraging. however, this does not encourage self-improvement. i have been in a better frame of mind for the last six or eight months, so this year i decided rather than resolving to do something and failing at it, i would choose a theme for my life for the year and stick with that. i decided it would be much more difficult to fail at a theme because i would have so many different opportunities to work it into my life. this also fits into the self-improvement thing that new year’s resolutions tend to be (which i am generally not opposed to – self-improvement, that is), which i need, since i am a work in progress and rather imperfect.

so my theme for the year is living gently. (this has been my theme since January 1, even though we are already ¼ of the way through the year.) i would like to be gentler to my husband and the people around me. i am trying to be actively aware of when i am a bitch (especially when i am pms-ing) and relax some. kindness begets kindness, and gentleness is a form of kindness, i feel.

i am trying to be gentler on our finances as well, which means fewer shoes and more cooking at home. paying off bills too, so that we are not beholden to anyone (even if that someone is a bank). I feel like we could live very gently if we did not borrow from anyone. this philosophy initially seems diametrically opposed to the goal of buying a house, but I am not sure how feasible it is to save $350,000+, so I am not counting the mortgage that we will have. is that cheating?

i am also trying to live more gently on the earth. we are recycling more at home (hooray, brian is finally recycling soup and cat food cans!) and trying to be gentler on our driving. we have not gone so far as to get a hybrid (i am not opposed to them in principle but i am in cost) but we do try to carpool whenever possible. i love love love the nylon shopping bags my mother made me a couple years ago (they’re pink!!). i would like to start composting but i am not sure how disciplined i would be about it since we do not have a yard at the moment and therefore nowhere to put the compost.

my final thing is that i am trying to be gentler to myself. i have realized that i am most own worst enemy and my own harshest critic. aren’t most people like this? i am trying to remember that i am beautiful just as i am, even if i do need to lose 20 pounds. after all, my husband thinks i’m sexy. i am pretty darn good at my job. i am a good person, even if i can been a super-bitch when i’m pms-ing. there are people in my life who love me, and God chose me to be His child, even when I do not feel the extent of my own worth. gentle!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008


i'm getting cute new glasses! i'm so excited. they are rectangular and purple and will be here in ten days, about the time i will also know if my trial contacts prescription is working or not. cute glasses are the one nice thing about having bad eyes, and cute new ones are the one nice thing about getting your prescription tweaked.

also apparently i have a lot of stress. i knew that since brian and i are going through a transition period in our life and are making a lot of changes. for the better but stressful nonetheless. but apparently i also have a lot of physical-type stress, like the amount of close-up activities i do and the way i sit at work, and that stress is manifesting itself in my eyes. who knew? my eye doctor did a test i had never done before, where there are two lines that are spaced apart from each other, and she moved them progressively in until they lined up. apparently she can see if my eye muscles are working properly or something. the lines would line up but then they would slide away from each other, and she said it is because my eye muscles are very tense because i am storing a lot of tension in my head and neck and shoulders. apparently this is also the reason i get a lot of non-migraine headaches. the cure for this seems to be lots of time in the hot tub, massages, and yoga.

look out, brian, i need a backrub. no complaining, it's a medical necessity.

the proverbs 31 ideal

for approximately 15 years i have struggled with the ideal woman described in proverbs 31 – more accurately, i’ve been struggling to reconcile that ideal with the feminist “theologies” i’ve been indoctrinated with my entire life. only recently have i begun to see and practice how these two ideals mesh, and how the proverbs 31 woman really is my feminist ideal.

i would hazard a guess that most women raised by baby boomer parents (especially somewhat liberal, pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps, protestant work ethic parents) were given the same backbone that i was. maybe not and maybe to a lesser degree. my sister and i were raised to be strong, independent women. we were taught that the fact that we were girls should not ever discourage us from attempting and doing anything and everything we ever wanted to do. my father was a carpenter and engineer, so we grew up spanking nails, ripping plywood, making designs and plans and pouring concrete; we watched my mother and father lay tile together. my mother was a stay-at-home mom with a degree in home economics and a teaching credential, so we learned to sew and cook and plan meals and run a household. between the two of them, there was nothing we couldn’t do.

because of that attitude, i now sew obsessively, not only for pleasure – but also because i can make higher quality clothes for myself (and items for my home) for less money than i can purchase them. i make my own soap, because i figured if a big company can make it (and people did it all the time back 200 years ago) why not me? i wanted a “shelf” under my bathroom sink but could not find anything i liked so i decided to make exactly what i wanted. it took me 10 minutes and $3.74. i have fulled accepted the “why can’t i?” attitude that my parents instilled in.

the proverbs 31 woman (and 1 corinthians 3:18 – the verse that commands wives to submit to their own husbands) presents a challenge to this independent, feminist attitude, because she encourages us to be pleasant always and serve our husbands. she seems to slave away all day – she works all day, then comes home and cooks dinner and cleans the house. excuse me? serve? submit? independent feminist women do not serve nor submit, nor do they slave away for some man or put on a happy face just so their men will think everything is all right.

as i’ve matured and settled into my marriage especially, i’ve come to realize that there is no struggle between the proverbs 31 woman – nor the submission of 1 corinthians – and the independent woman. a more careful reading and application of proverbs 31 indicates that the woman is strong and independent. she works hard for the benefit of her family and takes care of her husband and children. in this respect, i work hard for my husband so that i am not a burden to him. the knowledge that i contribute equally to our home encourages him to work hard as well, and he is not burdened by the entire responsibility for our survival.

likewise, i try to put on a happy face for my husband. it’s not always easy and i am so far from the perfect wife, but i’m learning that you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. i can share my concerns and fears and frustrations with nagging or being a bitch. (i can… but i don’t always do.) and even when i’m not 100% happy or satisfied, being pleasant makes my husband happy and pleasant, which does make me happy.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

projects completed

here is the shirtdress (simplicity 4171) in a great vintage floral cotton. i don't think it turned out too waitress-y (what is up with my hair??) and i love the print for spring.

here is the blouse (new look 6705) in white-on-white striped lino. i love the square yoke and the feel of the lino though it is a bit on the thin side. great for summer though. this blouse has a nice tie across the back which helps give it a bit of shape and fit while still being loose and blouse-y.

the pencil skirt is simplicity 4087 with a shaped waistband and small pleats on either side of the center front seam. i did it in a dark denim with a heavy gold thread for the running stitch detail.

Friday, March 21, 2008

more employment

i am trying not to feel so discouraged about finding a job. brian wants me to find something that pays more than i currently make, which i have a sinking feeling will be difficult to do in elk grove, at least in my field, for what i'm qualified for. it just seems that i'm not qualified enough to make more. i am not sure i want to take the next step and become an agent - that would mean owning my own business, and i'm not sure that is something i desire to do. (at least, not an insurance agency.) nor do i have enough experience to go to a brokerage and become a producer, since i only have direct-writer experience and not brokerage experience. besides, if i were to become a producer, i would want to do high-end personal lines, most of which seems to be concentrated in sacramento, and i don't want to commute.

i applied for a couple jobs last night online so hopefully those will pan out. one is to be a personal banker at a bank in elk grove, which i think i could possibly be good at though i have no idea what to do. on the plus side, insurance is a start towards investments and financial services. on the negative side, it's (generally) a completely different leg of the financial table than investments. the other job i applied for is to be an accounts manager, doing payroll, reconciliations, that kind of thing. kind of an assistant-controller kind of thing, it sounded like. i have very little bookkeeping and accounting experience, but again, maybe that insurance/financials thing will help out here.

i guess i am just feeling adrift and underqualified. i really would just love to continue to be a csr for state farm but it seems that may not pay the bills the way my husband would like - and the way i would like. i mean, i'm resigned to the idea of a pay cut, but we're talking a serious pay cut here. i guess i'll just have to wait and see and hope something pans out, or i could be back at the grocery store, heaven forbid. at least they have good benefits.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


my husband was offered a fabulous new job! hooray!! now we just need to find me some employment.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

calexico schools

here is a link to a story i heard on the radio this morning (lovely leftist npr) about the efforts of the calexico school district to crack down on overcrowding by weeding out those who do not actually live in the district. for those who don’t know, calexico is a city in imperial county (east of san diego) right on the us-mexican border. it’s directly across the border from mexicali – the equivalent of el paso, texas, and ciudad juarez.

what exactly the problem is here i am not quite sure and the story did not make it abundantly clear either. (i was actually rather surprised by the story, as it seemed to be rather pro-american – a stance npr does not usually take, in my opinion.) it seems that a few years ago school enrollment in calexico exploded, and officials wondered why – and discovered that many of the students attending school in calexico actually lived in mexico and were crossing the border every morning to go to school. we’re not talking college students (theoretically independent adults, not necessarily subject to the dictates of their parents) here – we’re talking minors, high school students on down to kindergarteners. apparently every morning they get up, get ready for school, and stroll across the border with their notebooks and backpacks – and every afternoon they leave school and stroll back across the border to their homes in mexicali.

i was blown away but not surprised that this is happening. i mean, i know my tax dollars are paying to educate illegal children. what struck me was the openness of the immigrants who are cheating the system. i was also quite heartened by the school officials’ response: they now require parents to prove residency at least twice a year and randomly check up on addresses three to four times a year (like actually going to the provided address to make sure the student lives there). now they even have – get this – a guy (or maybe quite a few of them) who sits at the border every morning and takes pictures of the kids crossing into the us to go to school, and then they use that information as further proof to bar the children from american schools in calexico.

the immigrants’ response apparently is that they should be allowed to go to school in the us, because the schools in mexico are bad. their schools do not have nice desks, or books, or paper, or computers, or good fields for sports, and good teachers. maybe i am missing something here, but why is this my problem? and as a resident of california, why should my tax dollars go to educate these children whose parents cannot even bother to set up legal residency here and work and pay taxes just like me? don’t get me wrong, i have nothing against educating children, and i have nothing against people taking advantage of services they are legally entitled to. i was educated in the public school system in california (supported by my parents’ tax dollars) and i generally expect to educate my children there as well (but no guarantees). however, i do not see why my tax dollars need to subsidize the education of those who have no intention of living in and contributing to the us.

i think my favorite part of this is that the school district is being proactive about this problem, instead of just taking the extra federal money. schools get federal money based on enrollment numbers – that’s it. numbers go up, federal monies go up. numbers go down, federal monies go down. and yet the calexico school district is doing the proper thing.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

facing tutorial

here is a very professional and very easy way to finish the raw edge of a facing:

1. start with facing and interfacing pieces, but do not fuse the interfacing to the fabric. here we have a typical front facing for a blouse or dress.

2. pin the interfacing to the fabric, right sides together.

3. stitch interfacing to the facing with a 5/8" seam along the long edge of the facing (all edges that will not be sewn to the garment).

my shirt dress had a collar instead of a neck facing, which is why i finished the shoulder edge of this facing. if the facing piece had another piece (like a neck facing) to be attached to it, attach those pieces together (including the interfacing pieces) before sewing the interfacing on, so the finished edge is continuous along the entire facing.

4. clip corners (if necessary) and trim the seam to 1/8" to reduce bulk.

5. turn facing so the right sides are out and carefully press seam edge to finish, then carefully fuse the interfacing to the fabric.

6. the raw edge of the seam is now fused between the interfacing and the fabric.

7. wasn't that easy? a very professional-looking finished edge to your facings.

first things first

i figure i ought to get with the times and get my own blog.

i'm moving up in the world - i finally put a cd player in my car. it's a new-to-me car and didn't have one. the install guy at best buy said my honda stock speakers were actually pretty decent. what do i know? that's good news, i guess. thanks, grandma and grandpa.

spring training has started, hooray. afternoons and evenings will soon be occupied with baseball games. at least for my husband, which means i can read or sew guilt-free.

i checked out washers & dryers and refrigerators today at best buy and felt old. i figure we will more than likely need to supply those for whichever house we end up buying. dang that stuff is expensive. i mean, WOW. and i thought we'd feel poor just after paying closing costs - and now to shell out an additional $2200+.

i am working on a shirt dress in a cute vintage flower pattern with a piped collar and pleated sleeves. i'm worried that it will turn out too waitress-y. stay tuned for updates.