Feb 27, 2023

The Great Craft Migration

Organization isn’t about perfection. It’s about efficiency. Reducing stress and clutter, saving time and money, and improving your overall quality of life.
— Christina Scalise

For every minute spent in organizing, an hour is earned.
— Benjamin Franklin

Organizing is something you do before you do something, so that when you do it, it is not all mixed up.
— A. A. Milne

I am pleased to report that at long last the great craft migration is done!

Many months ago I put my dream of a dedicated craft room on hold. To be clear, I haven’t given up on it, but I’m realistic enough to realize that it’s going to be a couple of years or more until it can be made possible. Instead, I came up with a plan to consolidate my craft supplies in one place.

The bulk of them were in a big closet in the hallway:

It didn’t matter how often I reorganized it, it was still hard to find things in it. I also had craft supplies stashed in various other parts of the house, but this was the main stash. And you can see how I pretty much had to unload the closet to get at stuff.

We have a good-sized guest room, which was formerly the daughter’s bedroom, so it has a massive closet. The problem was, the closet was full of clothes and assorted crap. Many man hours (and loads to the thrift store) later, I had the closet cleaned out.

I had been hoping to organize as I went, but that was pretty time consuming and I wanted it done yesterday. But I’m still able to put my hands on whatever I’m looking for without too much trouble.

The bookcase beside the bed holds my sewing notions and laces/trims on the top shelf, unfinished regular sewing projects and sewing notions on the next shelf down, cross stitch on the shelf under that, and kids craft supplies on the shelf under that. The laundry hamper in front has yarn for a couple of crochet projects.

The left side of the closet holds a dresser full of Christmas craft supplies and miscellaneous crafts, in the middle we have bins of fabric with my quilting stuff in the top bin, and on the right are bins of yarn Рthe turquoise bin on top holds my pattern books. The top shelf holds my bins of appliqu̩ and beading supplies, and on the right is a bin of sewing patterns.

Not shown is my sewing machine and sewing box (which are still in the hall closet), nor the two bins of unfinished knitting/sewing projects under the bed. All I have left is to get myself one of those fold-up crafting tables and I’ll be in business.

Although . . . looking at the picture of the closet I think my next project should be refinishing that dresser.

What do you think?

Feb 22, 2023

Bob and Wheel

I found this form on the Writer’s Digest’s poetry site, where Robert Lee Brewer offered it as a stand alone quintain poem. I figured if it was good enough for Mr. Brewer, it was good enough for me. :-D

edited to add: I don't want to imply Mr. Brewer was giving us incorrect or misleading information about the bob and wheel, he just wanted to show it as a form in its own right.

This form actually surprised me. First of all, I thought it was a modern, invented form. And second, I thought it would be hard to find information about it. I was wrong on both counts.

Technically, the bob and wheel isn’t form on its own, but a device used in a longer poem. It’s usually found in Middle English and Middle Scots poetry, appearing at the end of a stanza. The “bob” is a short line that marks a transition between the rest of the poem and the “wheel.”

The most famous example of the bob and wheel is the epic poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. I actually looked it up, and sure enough you’ll find it used at the end of every stanza throughout the poem. If you care to check for yourself, you can find an excellent translation HERE

For our purposes, it is a five-line stanza (quintain) or poem with a rhyme scheme of a-b-a-b-a. The first line (the bob) has two or three syllables, while lines two through five (the wheel) have five or six syllables. If you check out Sir Gawain, you’ll see that sometimes the wheel alternates five and six syllable lines, and sometimes they’re longer.

Using an even six-syllable line, for the wheel, the schematic would look something like this:

xa (bob)
xxxxxb (wheel)

Easy peasy, right? And just to make it more fun, I did three verses in this style.


They sleep
and wake to scurry
about the house, and leap
always in a hurry,
and often they will creep

and stalk
their prey – my stocking feet
or maybe they will walk
with faces oh, so sweet
then hop, as though in shock

and leap
and race around some more –
in anger, tails will sweep,
they wrestle on the floor
and then, they fall asleep.

Feb 20, 2023

Cat Tales

Perhaps one reason we are fascinated by cats is because such a small animal can contain so much independence, dignity, and freedom of spirit. Unlike the dog, the cat’s personality is never bet on a human’s. He demands acceptance on his own terms.
– Lloyd Alexander

In ancient times cats were worshipped as gods; they have not forgotten this.
– Terry Pratchett

How we behave toward cats here below determines our status in heaven.
– Robert A. Heinlein

One cat just leads to another.
– Ernest Hemingway

It’s been awhile since my last kitty post, so I figured it was time. :-)

I read somewhere that when kittens sleep their body releases a growth hormone, and I believe it. I swear that some days Dinsdale grows when he’s sleeping. A couple of times Khaos almost caught up to him, but he’s definitely the bigger of the two.

See for yourself. Dinsdale then (at 5 pounds):

And Dinsdale now (at 9 pounds):

Quite the difference, isn’t there? Nine whole pounds, and it’s not fat, he actually looks a little on the skinny side.

But let’s not forget Khaos. Here she is then (at 4.4 pounds):

And here she is now (at 7.8 pounds):

While he’s a little more lanky, she’s more compact, but despite the amount of food they put away, neither of them are the slightest bit overweight.

They have the full run of the house, and during crazy time they do exactly that – run. Up the stairs and down again, across the living room and up the cat tree, and then reversing direction. Don’t get in their way or they’ll run right over you. LOL

I’ve started putting peanuts and bird seed out on the deck and they love sitting in their cat tree to watch the birds and squirrels. They’ve also developed a bathroom fetish. If you use the bathroom at our house, made sure you have the door tightly closed, otherwise you’ll have a pair of furry little voyeurs watching you from the back of the toilet and the sink.

It will be interesting to see what they get into next.

And how big they’ll get before they stop growing.

Feb 15, 2023

The Grayette Verse Form

Okay, I’m going to be honest here. I originally picked this form because it’s only 12 lines, and many of those lines looked really short. However, the joke’s on me. It’s got one of those up and down syllable counts, and some of those lines rhyme. *sigh*

The Grayette was invented by an American named James Gray, not to be confused with the James Gray from Scotland who was a friend of Robert Burns. There’s not much to be said about this form, other than the syllable count is: 2-4-8-8-4-2-2-4-8-8-4-2. Lines 1, 5, 7, and 11 do not rhyme. The remaining lines are rhymed thusly: 2-a, 3-b, 4-a, 6-b, 8-c, 9-d, 10-c, 12-d.

Here’s the schematic (lines ending in x are the non-rhyming lines):

x x
x x x a
x x x x x x x b
x x x x x x x a
x x x x
x b
x x
x x x c
x x x x x x x d
x x x x x x x c
x x x x
x d

I’m thinking that if you wanted to get all fancy, you could center this and turn it into a shape poem. But I’m not going to do this here. ;-)

After The Fall

the fall from grace
everything changed for mankind;
no longer did we know our place –
we were as lost
and blind
for what had been,
regretting the choice that was made,
creating original sin,
and leaving us

Feb 13, 2023

A Tale of Two Cookies –
Or, the Danger of Children’s TV

What children need most are the essentials that grandparents offer in abundance. They give unconditional love, kindness, patience, humor, comfort, life lessons. And most importantly, the cookies.
— Rudy Giuliani

Life is a box of cookies. You know those tin boxes with assorted cookies? There are always those you like and those you don't. When you start taking all the good ones right away, then only the ones you don't like remain. That's what I always think in moments of crisis. I better get these bad guys out of the way, then everything will be fine. So life is a box of cookies.
— Haruki Murakami

I think baking cookies is equal to Queen Victoria running an empire. There's no difference in how seriously you take the job, how seriously you approach your whole life.
— Martha Stewart

Once upon a time there was a rather clueless young mother. Her daughter was in junior kindergarten and Valentine’s Day was fast approaching. Naturally, the daughter expected to hand out Valentines to her classmates. There was only one problem – the mother had no idea what the names of those classmates were.

Now, a smart mother would have just had her child sign the Valentines and leave the envelopes blank, making sure there were enough for every child in the class. But as I said, this mother was a little clueless.

She remembered that one day, while watching a children’s show on television with her daughter, the host of the show made cookies on a stick for a treat. What a great idea! At least she thought it was a great idea. Little did she know what it would lead to.

The school was all about healthy snacks, so the mother decided to use her mother’s oatmeal cookie recipe. And then she remembered how her mother would fill her cookies with raspberry jam, and how good they were. The result was enough jam filled, oatmeal, cookies on a stick for each child in her daughter’s class, with a few extra for the teachers.

I think it should go without saying that the cookies were a big hit. So much so that the daughter asked if they could do them again the following year. And the year after that. And the year after that. And so on, all through the primary grades.

When the daughter transitioned into the middle grades, the mother thought she was finally off the hook for those cookies. She was no longer expected to make them for an entire class, but she was still expected to make them. *sigh*

By the time the daughter reached high school, the oatmeal cookies had been replaced by sugar cookies, and the sticks were optional. Red dye was added to the dough to make the cookies pink.

When the daughter went off to university, the mother thought she was finally going to be able to retire her rolling pin. After all, the daughter was no longer living at home. But no, there was a phone call wanting to know where the cookies were.

The daughter graduated, and still expected her cookies. She got married, and still expected her cookies. Had a daughter of her own and had absolutely zero interest in learning to make the cookies herself.

This year, she didn’t even have to remind me herself. The granddaughter did. So yesterday, the granddaughter came over to help make cookies in the same way her mother used to – I do all the work, and she eats them. LOL

But the granddaughter had a couple of her own ideas for improvements to the traditional cookie. I vetoed her idea of turning a skewer into an arrow to pierce each cookie, but I did agree to make icing for them – she thought they weren’t pink enough.

So here is the granddaughter’s version of the traditional Valentine’s day cookies:

I’m going to be making these cookies until the day I die!

Feb 8, 2023

Trenta-Sei Verse Form

This rather interesting form was created by John Anthony Ciardi (1916-1986), an American poet, translator, and etymologist.

This thirty-six line poem (trenta-sei is Italian for the number 36) is divided into six, six-line verses, or sestets. The rhyme scheme is a-b-a-b-c-c and there does not appear to be a specific syllable count, but I would think you should keep it consistent between verses.

Now, here comes the interesting part. Each line in the first verse becomes the first line in its corresponding verse. So line one in verse one stays the same, but line two in verse one becomes line one in verse two. Line three in verse one becomes line one in verse three. And so on, and so on. It’s kind of like a cross between a sestina and a cascade poem.

Because of the lack of a set syllable count, there’s not really a schematic to show, but I can show you how the repetition works:

Verse 1
Line 1 rhyme a
Line 2 rhyme b
Line 3 rhyme a
Line 4 rhyme b
Line 5 rhyme c
Line 6 rhyme c

Verse 2
starts with line 2 from first verse
Verse 3
starts with line 3 from first verse
Verse 4
starts with line 4 from first verse
Verse 5
starts with line 5 from first verse
Verse 6
starts with line 6 from first verse

The challenge with this form is to have a strong enough first verse to carry through the remaining poem. My lines are octosyllabic, meaning they have eight syllables each. This wasn’t a conscious decision, that’s just the way they worked out.


Time after time, and time again . . .
often, I’ve found time is twisting,
it makes time tricky to maintain
time will be always persisting –
time is bending, time will scurry
time is slowing, time will hurry.

Often, I’ve found time is twisting,
past and present perform a dance –
sometimes you’ll find time resisting
it slows right down, and then advance.
Time turns, it spirals, then flows straight
but time does not accumulate.

It makes time tricky to maintain –
you cannot grasp it in your hand
it’s nothing that you can sustain
and yet we bow to time’s demand.
We worship time and yet we still
cannot contort time to our will.

Time will always be persisting –
it cannot be halted in its tracks,
there really is no sense resisting
for time will always wan and wax.
Sometimes it flows, much like a tide
and sometimes it races, magnified.

Time is bending, time will scurry,
time will follow its very own path –
passing time will make things blurry,
regret will fill time’s aftermath.
Time will not ever wait for you
But wasted time will oft accrue.

Time is slowing, time will hurry
whenever we don’t want it to.
Look at time with passing fury,
it doesn’t care; we’ve paid its due.
Time’s something we cannot outrun –
and suddenly our time is done.

Feb 6, 2023

Weather Woes

Just for the record, the weather today is calm and sunny, but the air is full of bullshit.
― Chuck Palahniuk

But who wants to be foretold the weather? It is bad enough when it comes, without our having the misery of knowing about it beforehand.
― Jerome K. Jerome

Here are some obvious things about the weather:
It's real. You can't change it by wishing it away. If it's dark and rainy, it really is dark and rainy, and you can't alter it. It might be dark and rainy for two weeks in a row. BUT it will be sunny one day. It isn't under one's control when the sun comes out, but come out it will. One day.

― Stephen Fry

I saw the above meme on groundhog day, and I couldn’t help but think how true it is. Anyone who’s still in denial about climate has only to consider the weather we’ve been having lately.

Everything seems more extreme now. In the summer we get record-breaking heat that causes drought conditions that in turn fuel forest fires. And then we’ll get extreme rainfall that causes flooding.

And the wind! Living on the shore of lake Ontario, we’re used to breezy weather, but the last few years we’ve been getting an increasing number of weather alerts for extreme wind. This past Christmas the wind was so extreme it was uprooting trees and knocking out the power lines.

Just last week we had extreme cold warnings in effect. Friday was the coldest day of the year so far, and Saturday the temperature rose to the point they were calling for rain. Not freezing rain, rain. That being said, our winters are overall warmer than they used to be. The extreme cold that Canada was once known for is becoming a thing of the past.

There was another meme I saw that showed a school bus with snow banks towering on either side of it with the caption of “1973, School Open” and below it a picture of a school bus with a light dusting of snow with the caption, “2023, School Cancelled.” This is also pretty accurate. Our winters have become so mild that we’ve forgotten what they used to be like.

When I was a kid, what we call extreme snow today was just ordinary snow back then. We’d start getting snow in November, and it wouldn’t stop until March. The snow banks were magnificent (if you were a kid). White Christmases were guaranteed. Now, even if we do get a white Christmas, it’s just a light dusting of snow. The fact that this winter has been snowier than the last several years put together is just another anomaly.

I kind of miss those days.

I also don’t remember summer being as extreme as it is now. My mother had a huge vegetable garden, and never worried about lack of rain or too much rain. Nobody had an air conditioner – they weren’t necessary. I don’t even recall many people using fans – the breeze from an open window was usually enough to keep things comfortable.

As much as I love to have the windows open for the breeze, I’m grateful we invested in central air when we had to replace our furnace a few years ago. The old window unit air conditioner just wasn’t cutting it anymore.

As much as I’m solar powered – I love me a sunny day – I don’t enjoy the heat. And unfortunately, Canada’s been heating up the last few years. I can see a time coming where I’ll spend more time inside during the summer than I do in the winter.

I’m not a fan of change, and climate change is one of the worst.

Feb 1, 2023

Orvillette Verse Form

The Orvillette is an invented verse form created by Virginia Noble. It’s written in four quatrains (four line verses), making it a poem of sixteen lines. The rhyme scheme is abab, acac, adad, aeae.

Written in iambic tetrameter, meaning eight syllable lines, it also has a rentrament, which is the repetition of part of one line as a line elsewhere in the poem. In this case, the first line of the first verse repeats as the first line in the rest of the verses. Just to make it more interesting, the first three syllables of the last line of the first verse are repeated at the beginning of the last line in the other three verses.

Maybe it would be a little easier with a schematic (I used z to stand for the repeated syllables):


repeat of line 1

repeat of line 1

repeat of line 1

Or maybe not. :-D But hopefully you can follow along with my example.

First Line

The first line is the hardest one
when I’m writing a brand new verse,
often the words are left undone
I struggle and make it all worse

The first line is the hardest one
no matter how often I try
to change a word or make a pun –
I struggle, the words go awry.

The first line is the hardest one
whether I write verse or write prose.
Oft it ends before its begun –
I struggle, but just can’t compose.

The first line is the hardest one
when you’re writing to save your life.
Once written words can’t be undone –
I struggle, words cut like a knife.