Category: Blog


I’m still here

July 13th, 2019 — 9:57am

Hi guys, thanks for checking on me. I’m still here :) I’ve had a string of rough days, doctor appointments, and total exhaustion, but I did manage to finish Kathy’s quilt and Dan’s quilt, and start one for Susan.

Here are some pretty pictures:

Kathy’s quilt, based on the Garden Star Quilt tutorial from MSCQ

Dan’s quilt (the blue is not so electric in real life), based on the Grayscale Quilt tutorial from cluckclucksew

And the very beginning of Susan’s, based on the Summer Breeze tutorial from Jordan Fabrics

1 comment » | Blog, Handmade

June update

June 19th, 2019 — 9:25am

Hello, I’m still here. Thank you for all the kind comments!!

I had a 14-day migraine that ended about two weeks ago, and then 2-day migraine that ended yesterday. UGH. But in between I was able to make several things, and we celebrated Em’s 6th birthday, for which Henry, Jayla, and Lulu were here! It was amazing to get to see them for a few hours and now I am itching to visit them as soon as the side effects settle down and I am in between nasty medical appointments.

Things I made:

A bias-cut apron and a sewing kit for Em’s birthday. The apron is a pattern I copied from a friend’s apron many long years ago. I had a green one that Em loved to wear until it fell apart from age, so I made her a beautiful new one. I added rick-rack to the edges to make it prettier, and I lined to so that it should last her for years and years. It’s adult-size, with an adjustable neck strap. Sewing kit is an old cookie tin with a drawstring top attached. I filled it with a tape measure, a pincushion, a pair of scissors just for fabric, and six fat quarters of calico so she has some fabric that she can use without asking permission.

Also, we had a couple of blistering hot days so I made myself two light cotton robes using the “Suki Robe” pattern from Helen’s Closet. Her patterns are sooooooo good. I used an alternative neckband, and added lined patch pockets. I only had two yards of the green seersucker and had to get creative, so it has a muslin hem-extender and extra-wide sleeve bands. I LOVE these robes!!

Also I finished Lulu’s quilt in time for them to take it home with them after their little visit! I quilted daisy chains all over it, with a nice loopy border.

AND! During the 14-day migraine I had some mornings when I felt well enough to sew for an hour, so I did some work on Kathy’s quilt. All I need to do now is add the borders, baste, quilt, and bind. :)

7 comments » | Blog, Handmade

Chloe’s quilt

May 30th, 2019 — 8:53am

I just finished Chloe’s Herringbone quilt and I’m so proud of it. She chose the fabric when she was up here visiting a month or two ago — a lovely set of flannel prints from the Missouri Star Quilt Company. I chose a nice creamy herringbone flannel for the background fabric, and an extra-thick cotton batting so it would be heavy and comforting. The borders and binding are some black kona cotton I had hanging around and the backing is 90″ premium muslin as usual. I quilted big free oak leaves all over it, which was both fun and challenging! I’m still not sure how I managed to maneuver that enormous heavy thing through my tiny Featherweight 221. :) The quilting took several days because a) it was so tiring that I could only work for an hour or two at a time and b) I’ve had a mild migraine for 11 days which gets a bit worse in the early afternoon.

Finished quilt is 70″ x 82″

Photos!

3 comments » | Blog, Handmade

more remodulin

May 9th, 2019 — 9:00am

I had an appointment with my pulmonologist up at UCSF on Monday, and he convinced me to try increasing my dose of Remodulin one more time and to have another right heart cath done — they’ll put a catheter in my heart and look around and measure the pressures in there. (I’ve had this done many times and it sounds worse than it is.) He thinks there’s a tiny TINY chance that, with a little more Remodulin in my system, they *might* be able to fix the hole in my heart, which *might* lessen my symptoms somewhat and give me a little more time. Don’t get all excited, it’s a very very very slim chance.

So I cranked my pump up one notch yesterday (to 0.04 mL/hour, which equates to 32 ng/kg/min at my weight) and now I’m waiting for the hideous side effects to set in… I will probably have several weeks of near-constant migraines, full body pain, and intense nausea. If I can’t handle it, I’ll need to drop back to my regular dose. We’ll see. I couldn’t handle it last time we tried this. Anyway if you don’t hear from me here for a while it means I’m lying in a dark room trying not to puke.

In other news, I finished my beautiful Voysey print “Modern T” quilt! and it’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen and it is mine, mine, mine. I drew leaves and vines all over the backing and quilted from the back, which was really fun! I used a different kind of wool batting (Quilters Dream) and I think it is MUCH better than the stuff I got from JoAnn’s. Barely any fibers on the surface of the quilt after washing. I wish I’d used this better batting for Henry’s quilt, but oh well, live and learn. I also finished Suzanne’s little green lap quilt and she loves it :) :) :)

Next up: quilts for Emma Rose, Chloe, Kathy, and Lulu. I think I have enough fabric for all of them, except for the backings. I’m waiting for muslins to go on sale at JoAnn’s…

7 comments » | Blog, Handmade

SVT again

May 1st, 2019 — 8:31am

On Friday I had another bout of SVT (supra ventricular tachycardia) which was horrible horrible horrible. I was lying in my bed, reading at 5:30pm when all of a sudden my heart rate jumped to 160bpm and my o2 dropped to 84% — and I was using my supplemental oxygen at 5lpm at the time! It was awful. I waited 20 minutes to see if it would clear up (as instructed last time) but it didn’t so Marcos drove me to the ER.

They fiddled around for a while but when they decided it really was SVT they gave me the magical drug adenosine, which flatlines you for a moment so your heart can reboot. Wild, huh? I felt instantly fine again, just tired. They would ordinarily send a patient home at that point but because of all my other underlying stuff they kept me overnight for observation. I demanded that they remove both IVs and all the electrodes (because of the adhesive allergy) and they complied! I also informed them that I had brought all my own medication and that I would be dosing myself — and they complied without even much of a fuss! So that eliminated both of the major Hospital Headaches.

(The usual medication routine in a hospital is they take away all my meds and then give them back to me on THEIR schedule, which is different than MY schedule. Also my meds are so complicated that I always catch them making a mistake, and it’s stressful needing to monitor them.)

So then I was back home again by Saturday night, after waiting four hours between when the cardiologist said I could go home and when my discharge papers finally arrived. *eyeroll*

I’ve also had a little cold, so I didn’t get any sewing done for the last couple of days. But I think today I might have enough energy to sew a little bit! I’m working on two quilts at the moment: a green and white throw for my therapist and a beautiful quilt for ME which is made out of the most beautiful fabric! I will write about all that another time, but here’s a couple photos to whet your appetite:

6 comments » | Blog

more quilts

April 21st, 2019 — 8:27am

I was going to do a post with lots of photos showing work-in-progress, but I don’t think I have the stamina for that. So here are four more quilts I’ve finished:

Mom’s Nasturtium quilt (pattern is Disappearing Pinwheel Shoofly). The folded photo’s colors are more true. Machine quilted in random meanders and swirls and things.

Henry’s Stacks quilt. Machine quilted along the seam lines, with spirals in the border. After piecing but before before quilting I hand-embroidered the titles of 40 favorite books in random places.

Jayla’s Simple Squares quilt. Machine quilted in swirling feather designs, with big daisies around the border.

Kirsten and Marcos’s Outer Space quilt (traditional Log Cabin pattern). Machine quilted in spirals with pebbles around the border.

All patterns are from the free video tutorials at Missouri Star Quilt Company. Most of the fabrics are from them too. All were pieced and quilted entirely on my beloved Singer Featherweight 221.

I’m basically ok except for this odd depression that manifests as a serious quilting/making OBSESSION. Quilts are all I think about and quilting (and knitting) is all I do… No news on the health front. I had a meeting with a Palliative Care team member to talk about… stuff. You know. End-of-life comfort and that.

4 comments » | Blog, Handmade

Disappearing Pinwheel Shoofly Quilt

March 26th, 2019 — 10:15am

Henry’s Stacks quilt is still coming along nicely — I embroider a few more book titles every day — and I’ve started a Disappearing Pinwheel Shoofly quilt for Mom. I chose this pattern and color scheme because it reminds me of the nasturtiums we both love. :)

There’s a video tutorial here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9rgQd6asPQs

but for the impatient, here’s a quick photo rundown. And I have a couple tips of my own to add.

Take two 10″ squares (or any size, but I wouldn’t go much smaller than 10″), your print and your background, and stitch them together with a 1/4″ seam all the way around the edge. I like to sew straight off the edge, then lift the foot, reposition the fabric, and start the next edge. For me it’s quicker and more accurate than trying to pivot that corner at exactly 1/4″ from the edge. Press, then SLICE that square from corner to corner. Press open the resulting pieces and you have four half-square triangles (quilting terminology for a square made of two triangles). Arrange them in pinwheel formation and sew them together.

Now comes the exciting part, the part where you will ruin a whole block if you’re not paying attention. Guess how I know this… *eyeroll*

(These measurements apply if you started with 10″ squares) Take your nice accurate quilting ruler and measure a line exactly 2 1/8″ from the center seam. I’ve circled the 2 1/8″ marks in this photo. See how they line up just right?

Then SLICE along your ruler. Then lift the ruler CAREFULLY, and CAREFULLY place the 4 1/4″ marks on the line you just cut. Again, I’ve circled them. There will be a little bit of edge to trim off.

Now CAREFULLY rotate your block. I bought an inexpensive rotating cutting mat, but you can also just rotate a smallish mat on your table.

Repeat those cuts on all four sides — 2 1/8″ from the center, then trim the edge at 4 1/4″ from that cut. I say the numbers aloud while lining up the ruler. One time I didn’t, and I cut a different measurement which I won’t say here so as not to throw you off but it was the number between 2 and 4. And that entire block went into the scrap box. *another eyeroll*

And now you have — ta-da — this! And each block is exactly 4 1/4″ square.

Now the magic happens. Take the eight outer squares and rotate each by 1/4 turn to the right.

Hey presto! It’s a flowery-looking thing! (Actually a traditional shoofly block with a little pinwheel in the center)

Stitch together in rows, stitch the rows together, and:

Isn’t that going to be a pretty thing?

HAHAHAHA I just spotted a triangle going the wrong way! I could pick it out but I’ll probably leave it. I’ll just put that block in the corner. No one said quilts had to be perfect and I am a total beginner anyway. :)

3 comments » | Blog, Handmade

a quilt and a blanket in progress

March 23rd, 2019 — 6:37pm

Hey all,

Thank you so much for the sweet comments and emails! I’m bad about replying but I’ll get to it one of these days… Just know that your kind and loving words meant a great deal to me.

Here’s my in-progress knitted Friesland blanket. I’ve finished 13 motifs and I have 15 remaining, I think. Yikes, it’s going to be enormous! I grafted together seven of them ages ago, and then I just kept on knitting. I didn’t realize how many I had finished until I counted them up today! I haven’t blocked any since the center 7, so I’ve got a serious pile of blocking to attend to. According to Ravelry, I started this blanket in March of 2017. Double yikes! Time to do some serious knitting.

And I’ve made a good start on Henry’s “Stacks” quilt. The fabric is the “Wit and Wisdom” jelly roll from missouriquiltco.com. And a plain black roll too. Doesn’t
it look like stacks of nice old hardback books? I’ve got all the strips assembled and joined together in five groups of eight, and now I’m embroidering book titles in random places. Some are books that Henry and I have enjoyed together, and some are my old favorites, so it will act as both a quilt and a list of book suggestions :)

3 comments » | Blog, Handmade

some news

March 17th, 2019 — 7:24pm

So. I had a pulmonology appointment a couple weeks ago. I’ve been going downhill for the last few months (constantly exhausted, much more short of breath with even the slightest exertion, need more supplementary oxygen) so I expected some bad news, but yikes. Hearing it out loud was rough. Doctor says I have a year left, maybe two if I’m lucky. Let’s split the difference and call it a year and a half. So I’ll probably be dead by the end of 2020. Blah. I was in a horrible black depression for a few days but then I pulled out of it. My therapist, Suzanne, is an angel and a goddess and a true healer.

I decided to spend my time doing exactly what I please, to the greatest extent possible. I’ve had a huge burst of creativity lately. One of my huge regrets (this is gonna sound odd) is that I don’t have much more time to sew on my beloved Singer Featherweight, so I’ve decided to slow down on the sock-knitting and baby-clothes creation, since those things get lost, wear out, and get outgrown, and turn instead to quilt-making. Quilts last virtually forever, are useful and beautiful, and never get lost or outgrown.

I haven’t done much quilting in the past. About sixteen years ago I made a beautiful queen-size hand-quilted Monkey Wrench quilt for Dan, and maybe eight years ago I made a simple tied comforter for Henry, but that’s it for my quilting experience. I enjoyed the actual construction, but did not enjoy not figuring out how much fabric to buy, the cutting of large yardage into small precise pieces, nor the hand-quilting, which is the reason that Henry’s comforter is made of big squares of two alternating fabrics and simply tied instead of quilted.

Well! When I started googling for quilting techniques etc., I discovered the Missouri Star Quilting Company. They sell beautifully coordinated, high-quality quilting fabric which you can buy by the yard but also in pre-cut bundles of a few basic shapes that you can then cut into the smaller shapes you need AND they have hundreds of friendly tutorial videos for inspiration. (And they tell you exactly how much yardage you need!) Their fabric is expensive but “you can’t take it with you”, eh? Thanks for funding my new quilting obsession, Mom :)

I am now well-versed in the language of the “Jelly Roll” (a bundle of 40 strips that are 2.5″ by 42″ in beautifully coordinated prints or solids), the “Layer Cake” which is a stack of forty 10″ squares, and the “Charm Pack” which is a stack of forty-two 5″ squares.

The first quilt I made was for Steve. I drove to JoAnn’s fabric and craft store the morning after my hideous doctor appointment and distracted myself by choosing everything I needed to make his quilt. I made a few big blunders while creating it but it all turned out fine in the end, mostly because I am BAD at planning ahead when crafting (I’m a crafting improv girl) so I ended up with a bunch of extra blocks, counterbalancing the blocks I ruined with my first (failed) attempt at free motion quilting. :) Need more practice! So I switched to straight-line quilting with my even-feed foot and it all went smoothly after that. Photo time:

I cut my fabric into squares. I think they were maybe 7″? I can’t remember. Then I matched each blue square with a creamy-yellow square and sewed them together around all four sides. Then I sliced each square diagonally and pressed the resulting “half square triangles” open. Look at me, with the quilting jargon. Then I sewed these together into “Hourglass” blocks:

Then I sewed four of those together to make big blocks. This block probably has a name but I don’t know what it is. Do you? It’s similar to “Ohio Star” but not quite.

I squared them up and laid them out on the floor to make sure it would look nice:

I sewed the big nameless blocks together into long strips (not pictured) then layered those strips with batting (doubled unbleached cotton batting, only the best natural fibres for my loved ones) and backing (which was a flat sheet that I never use), then machine-quilted them along all the straight lines…

…stitched the fronts of the long strips together, then flipped the quilt over and sewed the back together by hand…

…then added a “double binding” (Jenny’s tutorial was the best), which is sewn around once by machine, wrapped around the edge to the back, and finished by hand. I enjoyed this part especially much! I’d call it ladder stitch or slip stitch, but googling those terms gives you a crazy assortment of different stitches. Here’s the Correct Method:
https://joyoushome.com/how-to-slip-stitch-quilt-binding-the-right-way/

And, finished! Not pictured: I wrote a care label on white muslin with a fine-point archival waterfast pen and stitched it by hand to the back. It has my signature on it so Steve can take it to the Antiques Roadshow someday when I am remembered as a beloved, world-famous audiobook narrator and show it off :)

It took 15 days of pretty intense work and it REALLY distracted me. I bet this post distracted you a little too, huh? :)

oxoxoxoxox

15 comments » | Blog, Handmade

Plum-Colored Cardigan

January 29th, 2019 — 8:48am

Here’s what I did last weekend:

Pattern: Blackwood Cardigan from HelensCloset.ca (Size 10)

Fabric: Plum-colored cotton/bamboo/spandex fleece from Mood Fabrics
(Christmas gift!)

It took a lot of courage to cut into the fabric. It’s by far the most luxurious fabric I’ve ever worked with — thick, drapey, and crazy-soft; it’s softer than a kitten, seriously. I made a practice cardigan first, just to be safe. (Yellow, see previous post)

Here are the pieces cut out

Here are pockets pinned in place with temporary tissue paper backing for stability

And a pocket sewn. I did all the top-stitching on the Featherweight; even though it isn’t zig-zag it’s fine because those areas aren’t under stress. The fabric was so much loftier than I’m used to that I slid off the pocket edge a few times. Oops. But no one will ever notice :)

And, finished!

It’s a simple, straight-forward, well-designed pattern. The instructions are clear, as is usual with Helen’s patterns, and it’s not much of an exaggeration to say that it took longer to cut the fabric than to sew it together! The design includes extra-long sleeves that bunch up adorably or can be pulled over the hands for warmth, but because my arms are extra-long the sleeves on my yellow practice cardigan weren’t long enough to suit me. I added about 3/4″ inch of length to the sleeve and an inch to the cuff (which is doubled so it’s actually only 1/2 inch longer).

All seams sewn on the serger; all topstitching sewn on the Featherweight (straight-stitch).

It’s a perfect replacement for my ancient worn-out Target cardigans. The fit is excellent and the fabric is cozy and quite warm; it blocks the wind better than I was expecting. I’ve worn it every day since I made it :) Extremely proud of myself.

2 comments » | Blog, Handmade

Singer Featherweight 221

January 25th, 2019 — 10:30am

As promised!

My Grandpa bought this Singer Featherweight sewing machine for my Grandma in 1951. I know the exact year because it has a special Centennial badge on it, as described in this post:
https://singer-featherweight.com/blogs/schoolhouse/centennial-1851-1951

This photo shows the original instruction booklet and all the accessories:

The funny-looking thing is a buttonhole attachment. This machine only sews a straight lockstitch, forwards and backwards — no zig-zag or other fancy modern stitches. The buttonhole attachment actually moves the fabric back-and-forth under the needle while sewing. Amazing. You can see it in action in the first video here:
https://singer-featherweight.com/collections/attachments/products/buttonholer-attachment-vintage-singer.

At some point over the last SEVENTY YEARS, Grandma lost one of the buttonhole cams and the TINY black screw that holds the feed-cover in place, but the wonderful singer-featherweight.com sold me vintage replacements for these parts for just a few dollars! From them I also bought motor lubricant (specially formulated for this machine), a pretty little matching seam guide, which you can see attached to the machine in the first photo, and a thread guide for modern cone thread.

I have set my big modern Pfaff aside and am attempting to do all my sewing with just my serger and the Featherweight. It’s sort of challenging because I sew with knits a lot, which usually require a zig-zag stitch; however, with the serger for stretchy seams I’ve been managing ok. In the 70s Grandma bought a little zig-zag attachment for the Featherweight. It doesn’t work perfectly, but I think it might be good enough for the occasional hem. I need to experiment a bit more.

Here are a few of my recent sewing projects. Sorry for crappy selfies — I no longer have Henry at my beck-and-call for photographer duty :)

Practice Blackwood Cardigan (before I cut into the luscious plum-colored cotton/bamboo/lycra fleece that Steve gave me)

My third pair of Avery Leggings. This adorable striped cotton/lycra is from The Fabric Fairy:

Underlovelies, sewn without a zig-zag! I stretched the hell out of the elastic while sewing it on with a straight stitch. Worked great! Pattern is from Klimpergross. I’ve sewn about 6 pairs so far and I love them. Elli sent me the fabric, and she also gave me all three Klimper books over the past few years. Wonderful Elli. <3

This suit for Lulu is made of two layers of cotton flannel. So thick and warm! Pattern is based on Babyanzug from Kinderleicht. The matching cap is Ohrenklappenm├╝tze by Schnabelina.

This little flannel jumper for Lulu has extra-long straps with extra snaps for growing room. Pattern is based on the Mikey Strampelhose.

Ok! How’s THAT for a real blog post? With photos, even! :)

3 comments » | Blog, Handmade

Happy 2019

January 24th, 2019 — 11:14am

Ugh, the longer I go between posts, the harder it is to get started again.

It’s 2019 and the world has an entirely new crop of Public Domain literature! I can hardly believe it. When we started LibriVox, only books published before 1922 were legal for us to record, but finally we get an extra year of stuff, so everything published in 1923 is now fair game! And if the laws don’t change, next year we will be allowed to record things from 1924. Unbelievable. We were so sure they’d change the laws to restrict the Public Domain further, rather than allow anything new to be released so this is incredibly exciting.

My health: Getting worse. All the migraines and other side effects forced me to drop my Remodulin dose back down to 0.038 mL/hr, so my shortness of breath is worsening and I need more supplemental oxygen and I’m ever more exhausted. Ah well. At least I’m still here. I have a new therapist, Suzanne, whom I love! She’s young and enthusiastic and sweet and so helpful.

My family: Henry, Jayla, and Lulu (Annaliese) have moved to Vancouver Washington! I’m so excited for them. They’re staying with Dan for a few weeks while Henry works and earns enough money to get them their own apartment. Cost of living is much better up there so they should actually be able to afford their own place, which would have been impossible in the Bay Area. I’m quite envious of their rain and trees and I can’t wait to visit once they’re settled.

My Life: On weekdays I pick up Em from school and ferry her to her wonderful after-school care at my friend Uwimana’s house. Uwimana’s daughter is Em’s dear friend so it is perfect. And then I pick her up again at 5:30 and give her dinner and spend some Em-and-Kara time with her till her parents get home. She’s an incredibly kind-hearted, empathetic, creative, artistic, sweet-tempered, bright little person and I adore her.

I’ve been playing Stardew Valley on the Switch; and on iOS my current favorites are Clash Royale, Pocket City, I Love Hue, and the Cryptic Crosswords apps from Teazel.

I Love Hue, in particular, is a very special game, unlike anything I’ve ever played. It is gentle and calming, with no timers or punishments of any kind. There are hundreds of levels — I’ve been playing for months and am nowhere near the end — and now that I’m at the very advanced levels I’m able to sort colors that are almost identical. It’s astonishing what the brain can learn to do.

Speaking of learning, I gave up on online MOOC courses ages ago, because what the PAH and all the meds and everything my short-term memory is shot. HOWEVER! My ability to learn languages seems to be relatively unaffected! That bit of my brain must be extra-strong. I improve in German all the time. I’m reading familiar novels with relative ease, and just last night I noticed that I don’t always need to translate into English in my mind. I just… understand the German. Sweeeeeet. Also I’m working through the Italian course in Duolingo, at least two lessons a day. Today is my 137th consecutive day.

OK enough for now. Next time I’ll tell you all about my new Prize Possession — my grandmother’s Singer Featherweight sewing machine!

4 comments » | Blog

I’m still here!

November 20th, 2018 — 8:25am

Oops. Big gap, there. I had a couple months of nearly constant ferocious migraines. Back in September I raised my dose of sub-q Remodulin because my PAH is worsening, and one of the (many) side effects is migraines… But the headaches have finally calmed down now, knock on wood. I need to raise my dose again because I’m still sliding downhill, but I’m gonna wait till after Thanksgiving.

I got a nifty little iphone app called Migraine Buddy which helps you track your headaches, triggers, sleep, symptoms, pain location, etc. It’s really friendly and useful, and I recommend it if you are a migraine sufferer too.

Thanks to a twitter thread about women in podcasting, I discovered a fantastic new podcast: TheAllusionist.org. Here’s the episode I started with:
https://www.theallusionist.org/allusionist/convalescence:

When you’re feeling unwell, what’s the book you read to make yourself feel better? And why does it work?
Clinical psychologist Jane Gregory explains why she sometimes prescribes novel-reading to her patients; and academic Guy Cuthbertson tells how post-WW1 Britain was soothed by Agatha Christie’s murder mysteries.

After listening to that one, I went back to the first episode and have almost caught up to the present day. I love love love Helen’s style. My other two favorite podcasts (http://www.youmustrememberthispodcast.com and http://historyofenglishpodcast.com) usually come in at about an hour per episode (the longer the better, if you ask me) but The Allusionist usually comes in at around 15 minutes — so give it a try if you want something short and brainy!

That’s enough for now — more soon. I’ll tell you about the things I’ve been sewing, knitting, reading, and watching! :)

2 comments » | Blog

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

August 27th, 2018 — 9:43am

Brand new, and full of cheerful family noise :)

You can subscribe to this book as a podcast and download all the chapters at once. Copy this rss link and paste it into your podcatcher:
http://kayray.org/audiobooks/lion_witch_wardrobe.xml

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

You can stream these chapters non-stop from here:
https://archive.org/details/kayrayreadstoyou6

lion_witch_wardrobe

01 Lucy Looks into a Wardrobe
02 What Lucy Found There
03 Edmund and the Wardrobe
04 Turkish Delight
05 Back on This Side of the Door
06 Into the Forest
07 A Day with the Beavers
08 What Happened After Dinner
09 In the Witch’s House
10 The Spell Begins to Break
11 Aslan is Nearer
12 Peter’s First Battle
13 Deep Magic from the Dawn of Time
14 The Triumph of the Witch
15 Deeper Magic from Before the Dawn of Time
16 What Happened about the Statues
17 The Hunting of the White Stag

3 comments » | Audiobooks, Blog

Beezus and Ramona

July 24th, 2018 — 7:48pm

A new recording for you! Lots of cheerful family noise in this one, folks :)

Here’s a brand-new feature: you can subscribe to this book as a podcast and download all the chapters at once. Copy this rss link and paste it into your podcatcher:
http://kayray.org/audiobooks/beezus_and_ramona.xml

Beezus and Ramona, by Beverly Cleary

Beezus_and_Ramona

01 Beezus and Her Little Sister
02 Beezus and Her Imagination
03 Ramona and Ribsy
04 Ramona and the Apples
05 A Party at the Quimbys’
06 Beezus’ Birthday

4 comments » | Audiobooks, Blog

The Crab, by Henry Frigon

July 15th, 2018 — 5:21pm

Henry had one of his short stories accepted for publication on Rue Scribe, the online “small literature journal” of Underwood Press. I’m so proud I could burst.

https://underwoodpress.com/ruescribe/2018/07/15/the-crab-by-henry-frigon/

It’s such a lovely story.

5 comments » | Blog

Gruenes Ei mit Speck

June 28th, 2018 — 6:19pm

Here’s a 5-minute recording of a children’s picture book in German. Can you guess what it is? I think you’ll recognize it by the time you get all the way to the end even if you don’t speak a word of German :)

No googling, now!

Gruenes Ei mit Speck

I have also created a page just for my recordings of picture books.

http://kayray.org/picture-books/

The pictures are half the fun, so please try to buy or borrow copies of these books so that you can look at the pictures while I read to you. :)

1 comment » | Audiobooks, Blog

Women on TV in 2018

June 24th, 2018 — 8:23pm

I’ve been re-watching season 1 of The Bridge with Henry, and it struck me suddenly how many women there are on TV now, and in The Bridge especially, and how different that is from when I was a kid. I asked Henry if he remembers when Prime Time TV shows only allowed women to play 4 main roles: wife, girlfriend, prostitute, or victim, but he doesn’t. Thank goodness.

In The Bridge, we have Saga Noren, our beloved peculiar detective protagonist. Brilliant, strange, annoying, determined, confident, awkward. And here’s the thing: it’s not a big deal that she’s a woman. Remember Prime Suspect from the early 90s? DCI Jane Tennyson suffered no end of sexism and bullying for daring to be a woman doing a man’s job.

In Saga’s police department there are TONS of women doing all kinds of jobs, not just serving tea and filing papers. They’re not hot 22-yr-old blondes, either. Older women and younger women, slim and stout. (In the 4th season we have a middle-aged female IT expert!) There are female BOSSES and it’s not even remarked on. (Lillian, oh how I love Lillian and her skillful policework and people-managing, her trademark fluffy green scarf, and her kickass no-fuss haircut).

Women in The Bridge are running companies, committing crimes, tracing IP addresses, writing newspaper columns, and catching criminals. They’re not all pleasant people, which is as it should be; they are interestingly three-dimensional, thanks to the truly excellent writing on this show; and most importantly they’re THERE, in the foreground and background of every scene.

Thinking back on the TV of my childhood… Well there was I Love Lucy, of course! And The Dick Van Dyke Show had Laura and Sally. Edit: Cousin Jerry reminded me about Mary Tyler Moore! Yes!

Other than that… no important female characters at all on The Rockford Files. None on Hawaii Five-0. One main female character to about eight main male characters on M*A*S*H. None on The A-Team. None on Simon & Simon. None on Miami Vice.

We had Uhura and sometimes Nurse Chapel on Star Trek. Most of the time they opened hailing frequencies and pined for Mr. Spock (don’t we all), but SOMETIMES they Did Things and it could have been much worse, so props to Star Trek for acknowledging the existence of women.

How many male Looney Toons characters were there? Bugs Bunny, Daffy, Elmer, Porky, Yosemite Sam, Sylvester, Tweetie Pie, Pepe le Pew, the Coyote, the Roadrunner, Foghorn Leghorn, Bill and Sam… how many female characters? Uh. The old lady who owned Tweetie Pie? The female skunk forever fleeing her stalker?

My niece, who just turned five, loves a cartoon called The Octonauts, which seems to have a pretty even ratio of male to female characters, and they all Do Things. She also enjoys My Little Pony (which is not as ghastly as it sounds). It has mostly female characters! She loves loves loves the movie Totoro, which stars two sisters. (side note: the dad in Totoro is beautifully portrayed. He’s not the detached, distant dad of olden times but takes excellent loving care of his little girls while their mom is in hospital.)

So. TV in 2018 has remarkably more gender equality than it did 40 years ago.

Last year I tried a Spanish crime drama on Netflix (can’t remember the name). It had men, men, men, men, men, and then BOOM a female murder victim. I got all annoyed and turned it off, but it made me realize that even shows that are not as fair as The Bridge must be better than they used to be, or an example in the old sexist style wouldn’t have annoyed me so much.

(Having gotten this off my chest I’ll go back to watching Claws. I just started it and the first episode was a hoot. It’s about a handful of nail salon employees who get sucked into organized crime and so far the characters are GREAT. Hope it continues as it started.)

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Matt Robinson is gone

May 30th, 2018 — 9:03pm

My gaming friend with cancer died a couple of weeks ago. I was worried that he’d be all alone, but his pastor (and good friend) was with him at the end.

Thank you again for helping to make his last few weeks so much more comfortable with your kind donations. He was incredibly touched and grateful to you all.

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crime! crime! crime!

May 26th, 2018 — 11:29pm

I’ve been on a huge (mostly foreign) crime drama kick. Some of my favorite series have been:

River (UK)
The Assassination of Gianni Versace (USA)
The Bridge (original Swedish version)
Trapped (Icelandic)
Below the Surface (Danish)
Unforgotten (UK)

And that’s only off the top of my head. I’ve watched lots that are more forgettable, and started a few that were unwatchable. But there are always more. I discovered most of them via the most amazing blog:

https://thekillingtimestv.wordpress.com

I’m on their mailing list, so every day I get several notifications of new blog posts. I love it that they let me know about upcoming series and start dates and other news. It’s a real treasure trove. And their reviews also give me an idea of which series I should probably skip, hahah. If you’re a crime/mystery/suspense fan, go and poke around on that blog!

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