Saturday, October 31, 2009

Restaurant Review - Bonnie & Clyde's

And when I say the middle of nowhere, I mean 15 minutes from my house which is--the middle of nowhere.
Here is where you're headed--or need to be: Loafer's Glory and more specifically Bonnie & Clyde's.
What you're looking for is a unremarkable one-story building with beige vinyl siding and a neon OPEN sign.
Why you're going is for some of the best burgers around. The fries aren't so shabby either.
Like an idiot, I've known about this place the entire six years I've lived here, wanted to go, but just never had--until last night. Let me tell you, the only way they can get away with having a dining area that seats around thirty is their remote location. Otherwise the place would be packed. As it was, our waitress was deftly moving customers she knew by name to other tables to accommodate other regulars.
Burger King's Angry Burger is so named because it's
mad it's not as good as Bonny & Clyde's Very Spicy Burger.
The food is good enough, that were it located in a college town and open until 2am the owners would have already retired in the Bahamas. It's not that the food is refined or gourmet -- it's not. It just lives up to the promise it makes and then some. I was going to take a picture one bite into my burger, but forgot all about that plan until halfway through.
Their burgers aren't thick, but to compensate, you can easily double or triple your patty-to-bun ratio. Besides, the flavor more than compensates for the volume. Next time, I'm trying their Mushroom Swiss Burger and will, once again, get a side of fried okra. (I may have been born in the Midwest, but I love my fried okra!) My husband was all about the chili-cheese fries (a little heavy for me), though they were very tasty.
Mitchell County is still dry (meaning you can't buy alcohol anywhere but Spruce Pine) and you can't get a beer with your meal, but it's still worth it. Other rural mountain stereotypes you can leave at home. Our waitress was chatting up the other diners about leaving to pursue her master's degree. So tip well.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Eve's Night Out

For the past 4 years (when I inherited the position from Mendy Knott), I have hosted a monthly open-mic reading for women. Many of us are poets, but quite a few have written novels, personal essays, and songs in addition to poetry. Each woman is invited to bring her own words, or another woman's words that have inspired her in some way, and share them with the group. We sign up and take turns reading (usually from a podium). There is no critique or evaluation, though when the evening it done, it is quite common for us to engage each other in small conversations about our work or our lives. When a woman is done reading, we applaud her for sharing her creative work. That is enough.
(Pictured here are some of us on "hat night" this spring. We sometimes do themes.)
The message of the evening: Be creative. Share your creativity.
Speaking in public, in the semblance of formality, is good practice for women to exercise their own voices and presence in a public sphere... building our confidence in our own words, our own experience.
The best trait of our group, though, is the quality of our listening. At some open-mics I've attended, I've felt it was all about the person reading showing off, or wanting to be discovered, or to be approached afterward... but that is not the case with us. I truly believe that most of us come each month to listen to each other, to be inspired by others' words, and to continue to be encouraged/nurtured in our own creative ventures.
Right now our home is Main Street Books in Burnsville. We meet on the 4th Friday of each month at 7:30 pm. All women are invited. (Men have attended in the past--they just listen though, and are not invited to read.)
It's not like we're trying to be mean to men, we're not. We've just created this space & time for women who focus on the written expression of their creativity/experiences. Likewise, we're not trying to be mean to potters, it's just that we're not a group of potters... we're women who write seeking kindred spirits. (All levels of education and experience are welcome -- published, unpublished, those working on writing as "craft", and those who simply journal.)
We are very proud of the fact that we have been the first place for many women to get up the courage to read. And if you've ever thought about it, come. It's fine if you just listen for a while to get comfortable -- shoot, bring your knitting with you (several others do too).
Here is a list of the women who either attend currently or have in the past who blog. You can get a sense of us from these. We're a diverse group!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


The second chrysalis did not open. (See post below.) I have put the branch on which it hangs in my home office where I do my writing.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Books I've Been Reading

First, the animal themed covers--which may be their only similarity.
Mayhem in Mayberry: Misadventues of a P.I. in Southern Appalachia by Brian Lee Knopp
I was curious about this book since it's a self-published book by a PI who lives in my county, and also has an endorsement on its cover by Elizabeth Gilbert of Eat, Pray, Love. (Although juxtapositions abound in this book.) Further, a friend Lucy Doll, raved about it. I am also a frequenter of Malaprop's and know Linda (manager of Malaprops & the author's wife) from working on the literary festival... and I was curious about her husband who I knew next to nothing about.
What's funny is that at the literary festival this year, he came in with Linda in the morning and then left, just as I was walking in to the Town Center Foyer where the books are set up. I can't exactly remember how I suspected he was her husband; maybe he gave her a good-bye kiss or their ease and familiarity tipped me off, but I wondered. He walked right past me on the way out the door and I turned to a friend, "Is that Linda's husband?"
"I think so," the friend said swiveling to get a better look. "I've always been curious about him."
"Me too," I said, not having read his book yet. But I can't for the life of me remember what he was wearing, what he looked like, or any distinguishing features. I think he had a hat on.
Read the book. You'll see why this is funny.
The book itself is wrenching and hilarious in turn, a wry portrait of where I live, and of one man's decade-long job of detailed observation of it. (Maybe it was closer to two.) I don't want to spoil any of the twists and turns. Suffice it to say, he's got a wicked sense of humor, a deft handle on the craft of writing, patience (the like of which I don't understand), and a great & deep love & devotion for the souls in his life. How he didn't end up a jaded wreck after what he did for a living is a great testament to his fortitude and will.
Save the Cat by Blake Snyder
I'm still reading this book, because it is a how-to on writing screenplays. No, I'm not writing a screen play, but writing for the stage is very similar, and since I'm a complete novice at such things I'm reading it. I like the way all the steps (plot-lines, B-story, character development) are broken down and I am finding it easy, informative, useful reading. It is complete with "assignments" and clear tasks for moving a project along.
We'll see if I follow them and move the project along!
The Other Wind by Ursala K. LeGuin
OK. I picked this one up because there was a dragon on the front. However, I also wanted to get back to reading some quality fantasy. LeGuin insists you can write fantasy that doesn't have to be of epic battles, great death, great evil for no reason, or even the typical "hero." I agree. That's what I'd like to shoot for myself, so I'm re-reading her. Her books are not tomes, like so many are, and she uses simple, clear language without a lot of consonants or world-invented words. For example, she uses "miles per hour" and has goats that act like goats that orient us easily. She doesn't have to invent a new kind of animal to make readers feel they are someplace new. Thus she doesn't get caught having to "explain" so much to the reader. Note to self. Many notes to self while reading this one. She's amazing.
Finally, The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
I've just started this one for book club. So far so good. The main character is utterly devoted to reading and losing herself in books. Hmmm. I think I'll be able to relate!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Metaphor of Metamorphosis

A month ago, I was able to attend my daughter's school field trip to the WNC Nature Center for their presentation on the life cycle of the butterfly. I thought I knew everything there was to know about the metamorphic process, but I didn't.
I knew monarchs laid their eggs on milkweed plants (the only host plant monarch caterpillars eat) and so I always let a few grow in the corner of my garden. We were able to take a few into the kids' class , and I ended up taking a few into the house for myself too.
This photo of a butterfly egg I took at the Nature Center is not a monarch, though, since it is clearly not on a milkweed. I'm not sure what kind it is.
I knew from reading Eric Carle's The Hungry, Hungry Caterpillar that caterpillars eat like mad once they hatch and get very fat -- quickly.

Often they seem to tap a main vein in the leaf and suck out the milk. Then they perch on the edge and gnaw, very methodically, carving a deeper and deeper arc into the leaf. They operate like a typewriter return at the end of a row.
munch-munch-munch - BING -whr-clack
munch-munch-munch - BING - whr-clack
I knew about chrysalises and the two week period. The part I didn't know is the part that nobody knows or really understands: what happens inside the chrysalis. The Nature Center guide put it in 2nd-grader terms that jarred me. Once the chrysalis is formed, the caterpillar turns to complete gush.
At this point my mind leaps to the FruFru song from the "Garden State" soundtrack that's helped me recompose myself countless times:
Let go. Jump in. Oh, what you waiting for? It's all right, 'cause there's Beauty in the break-down.

Complete gush. I couldn't get over it, so I looked it up on the web when I got home to make sure I had it right. Sure enough. Gush.
But then, from their imaginal discs, they reform those raw materials into something completely new: wings, legs, antennae... That's really what they're called: imaginal discs. Something within the caterpillar is encoded so that, when the time is right, they can
call into reality something only imagined previously.
I know the butterfly metaphor is used to the point of triteness, but the whole gush & imaginal discs part really got me. I latched onto the metaphor as I thought about my own writing: from my own imagination and the raw materials present (all the books I've read, experiences in my life, the nuts & bolts of the writing craft) I could create something new. I could create myself new -- as writer -- with wings. I could create -- books.
So, I began scouring the milkweed plants at our house. I sure saw lots of caterpillars, more than 20. But I didn't see any chrysalises. So, any remaining caterpillars got transferred inside where I could watch the process. You can see the ones above. The green chrysalis is only a few days old, whereas it's pretty obvious when they're about to hatch.
One source said that the process of transformation within the chrysalis takes so much energy, that a chrysalis
weighs about one-third less at hatching time than it does when it was first formed. (This also went along nicely with my writer metaphor: I couldn't kid myself that this change was going to be easy.)
The day this guy hatched, I spent the whole afternoon staring at the chrysalis, waiting to capture the moment. I
was going to document this amazing change. Look: it imagined itself into something new.
It's like the seven principles of HUNA (Hawaiian Mysticism):
  • IKE - our ideas create our reality.
  • KALA - there are no limits.
  • MAKIA - energy flows where attention goes.
  • MANAWA - now is the moment of power.
  • ALOHA - to love is to be happy with.
  • MANA - all power comes from within.
  • PONO - effectiveness is the measure of truth.
Once the emerge, they have to pump the fluid from their large bodies into their wings.
I spent all afternoon as slow witness to wet cloth-like folds straightening. His proboscis, or feeding nose-tube, coiled and uncoiled. His claw-like feet hooked into the branch as he let his wings fill and dry.
His hooked feet. Had you noticed? He only has four. All insects have six legs. Even as caterpillars, when it appears they have more, they only have six true (or reticulated) legs. (The others don't have knees that bend and simply drag along.) But this guy does not. He only has four legs.
Suddenly my happy-go-lucky metaphor took a dire turn into a warning. Obviously something went awry. Not enough to keep him from becoming a butterfly, but he was missing two legs. Did he not have sufficient raw material? Did he not use his imagination enough? What was this saying to me?
He's beautiful, though. Yes? He flew off a few hours later and is probably vacationing in Mexico by now. But I've got my eye on the second chrysalis, which has yet to hatch. It is starting to turn dark, but the wings are not becoming orange. I'm worried. I'm worried that this one has turned to gush, but that I didn't provide enough fresh milkweed during the eating phase. I'm worried that bringing into my home might have disrupted it's imaginal process. (No ironic symbolism there for the creative domestic mother.) I'm worried that when I turn to gush, I'll stay that way instead of doing the hard work, and doing all of it.
So, I'm writing about it.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Burnsville 5K Scamper

  • my throat had been sore for a few days, so
  • I hadn't run since Tuesday
  • it was 39 degrees
  • it was drizzling
  • my knee (which had not been bothering me previously) began acting up after mile marker #2
  • it's a hilly course
  • I started too fast (1st mile in 9:14 -- WAY too fast for me)
  • that hill at the end is bruu-tahl
This is me at the top of the hill, about 300 meters from the end of the race. I crossed the finish line at 30 minutes 32 seconds. I'd wanted to be under 30 minutes, but considering the above excuses, I am OK with that time. It gives me something to work for next year, when the weather will be better. I hope.

photo credit to James Harrison of the Asheville Citizen-Times

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Keeping it Together

I turned the house upside down looking for my datebook, but to no avail. I even bought a new one in the hopes that the old one would turn up. And not even that tried and true method worked.
In the end, I resorted to copying everything down by hand, again, from my Google Calendar. It was a good reminder of all that is coming up, and there were more than a few things that would have "sprung up" on me that, really, I had known about well in advance. So, all in all, I count myself quite fortunate to have had this momentary lapse of responsibility.
Also, I would like to take a moment sing the praises of Google Calendar while I'm on the subject.

This service is nothing new, but it has saved me so much time and so many headaches. I can put things on the calendar, and my husband can access it at his office. Likewise, he can add events, conferences, or evening meetings. (When you have three kids, it can be surprising the things you forget to bring up because you get sucked into the parenting vortex.) Each calendar you add can be color coded so you can keep track at a glance. For instance, I know to look for green on my calendar, because those are things my husband has added -- and I can be reasonably sure he's forgotten to mention to me.
I input the preschool calendar for them each month, and it is shared with all the other preschool parents. So, instead of a separate calendar, it gets incorporated into mine. I also share my calendar with my in-laws so they don't miss any recitals, school programs, or sports games.
Just this year, Google added "Sports Calendars" which I think is a particular boon. By "subscribing" to individual sports teams, it adds the time and opponent of each game of their season. Now I can see when Notre Dame and the Steelers play and fully realize the implications of said games on weekend plans. I know, in advance, the days I can't dawdle talking to people after church and what afternoons are free for a hike on the Parkway. It certainly has cut down on my exasperation and eye rolling.
So, here's to me keeping it together (for the time being), new datebook tucked securely in my purse.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Empty Bowls Dinner on Friday, October 16

Friday evening, the 1st Presbyterian Church of Burnsville is having an Empty Bowls dinner to benefit the Reconciliation House. 5:30 to 7:30 Stop in any time and support this cause to help feed the hungry here and around the world.

The premise is this:
Local potters donate bowls. A group (in this case, the mission committee of the church) makes a simple soup supper. People are invited to come, buy a bowl to fill with food and eat communally. Then, each person who has donated money to eat gets to keep their bowl to take home as a reminder of how many empty bowls there are in the world. All proceeds are used to fight hunger.

This summer, the Vacation Bible School I coordinated
(and wrote the curriculum for) helped to make some of the bowls for this meal. The emphasis was to learn to "Step Up to the Plate" and serve others as Jesus' example teaches.

While the Empty Bowls grass-roots movement (begun by Burnsville's own Lisa Blackburn & John Hartom in 1990) is not necessarily a religious one, our event is sparked by our belief in Jesus' charge to feed the hungry and clothe the poor.

In that light, Rolf Holmquist (a church member on the planning committee for this event) asked me to write a poem for Friday's meal. So I did, and was able to present it to John on Sunday.

Empty (vb)

Not empty bowls
like the unbreakable kind stacked inside
each other at the department store.
Not empty bowls
like the ones in the queued
refugees’ outstretched hands.
Not empty bowls
like the pieces just-for-pretty
in the potter’s display case.

But Empty Bowls
as invitation:
Come, join us for this meal.
Empty Bowls
as action:
Eat this food. Clean your plate. Feed another.
Empty Bowls
as consciousness:
Do this in remembrance of Me.

If you live in Asheville, consider attending the MANNA Food Bank's 8th Annual Empty Bowls lunch from 11:00 AM- 2:00 PM at the Biltmore DoubleTree Inn. (Also on the 16th.) For $20 your ticket will gain you a great meal, and your choice of a handmade bowl from over 1,000 pieces donated and created for this event. There will also be a “Collector’s Corner” of pieces donated from some of the finest area potters.

Friday, October 9, 2009

The Plural of Chrysalis

The difference between a new monarch chrysalis and one that is about to open is striking. (And I thought I might not be able to tell.)
More photos and the whole story of this monarch's hatching to come.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Honorable Mention

It began when my mother told me I should enter a poetry contest a publication she received was having. So, I wrote a poem based on a metaphor my she used in a sermon and entered it. This summer, I was notified that I received an honorable mention in the contest and that at some point this year Spiritual Directors International would use it in a publication. But I didn't know when or in what publication it would appear.
Then I got an email from Mom, forwarded to her by a friend, who had come across it on her own. It appeared in their October e-newsletter and online. What I particularly like is the context in which the poem appears -- with the opening reflection and the closing thoughts.

But here is the poem on its own.

When You Are Weary of Circles

Even when the map is gone, when
you’ve noted again that same patch of field lilies---
Still, you are not without means:

Choose a nearby tree to lean on while you
turn back to mark one behind you,
and one before, thus align yourself,

like Orion’s belt, in the middle of three
landmarks. In this way go
around mossy boulders or through creeks,

walking ever in a steady course
out of the pathless wild.
For when you gain the outmost tree,

look back at what had been the middle,
then look ahead, set some new goal in that line,
and begin again, narrowing the distance

to the place you will rest next.
From tree to tree, ever in threes,
you can continue, making your way forward

believing what is within your grasp is enough
to lead you to the unknowable all.
You may miss the shortest route to comfort,

may pass by a summer cabin in the wood.
But in time, you will find a paved road, see
a barn in the distance, or hear your name being called.

And while you go, you will attend
the land you traverse, intend
the path you take in your journey to be found.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The Wonders of Rice

This blog entry could also be called "How Facebook saved us $50."

Without doing too much finger pointing, let it suffice to say that this MP3 player was left out in the rain and ceased functioning.

We put it in the sun. Placed it in warm dry spots in the house. Tried charging it again. Left it sit a few more days in warm places. Tried charging it again. Nothing. Nothing we did could revive it.

Then I saw on Facebook how a friend had accidentally washed his iPhone and solicited advice on how to revive it. Among the suggestions was to place the soggy phone in a bag of rice and leave it sit for a few days.

It made sense to me: the rice would draw out the moisture. But I was pretty sure our MP3 player was completely dry already and not functioning. This would indicate to me that some residue had dried on the electronic innards and rendered them useless... So, if the bag-of-rice trick were going to work, I would need to wash off the residue and that meant soaking the MP3 player in soapy water.

Could I do this? Could I drop an electronic device into soapy water on purpose? It's not like we had anything to lose by trying... It turns out I could. I soaked it for about 15 minutes, shook it around in the suds, rinsed it off, and put it in a bag of rice. In a warm place.


2 days later, we charged the player and it's working. Victory over electronics I can not begin to understand!

What do you do when your drop a phone, iPod, or MP3 player in the washer, toilet, or creek? I recommend rice.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Reading The Rats of NIMH

Almost every night, my family gathers in the living room and I read to them, like my parents did to me when I was little. The current chapter-book selection is the Newbery winner Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O'Brien published in 1971.

Last night as I was reading, I found this passage which surely must have entered my consciousness as a child, but seemed much more relevant when I read it as an adult:

It was a comfortable, almost luxurious existence.

And yet all was not well. After the first burst of energy...a feeling of discontent settled upon us like some creeping disease.

We were reluctant to admit it at first. We tried to ignore the feeling or to fight it off by building more things--bigger rooms, fancier furniture, carpeted hallways, things we did not really need. I was reminded of a story I had read at the Boniface Estate when I was looking for things written about rats. It was about a woman in a small town who bought a vacuum cleaner...

And here the character of Nicodemus recounts how the other housewives had to buy vacuums, and the power company had to expand and burn more coal, which covered their floors with soot, and subsequently the floors of the town weren't as clean with all the vacuums as if they had stuck to using brooms and mops. And the women didn't end up saving any time.

Then he goes back to telling Mrs. Frisby of their predicament:

...we saw our problems and we figured out, as well as we could, what to do about them. First, we realized that finding the Toy Tinker's truck, which had seemed like such an enormous stroke of luck, had in fact led us into the very trap we should have avoided. As a result we were now stealing more than ever before: not only food, but electricity and water. Even the air we breathed was drawn in by a stolen fan, run by stolen current.

It was this, of course, that made our life so easy that it seemed pointless. We did not have enough work to do because a theif's life is always based on somebody else's work...

All these things we worried about and talked about and puzzled over. But we could not find any easy answer--because there was none.

There was, however, a hard answer.

All of this leads to an argument with another rat named Jenner who claims, when Nicodemus expresses interest in living a life not based on stealing,

"..We've already got a civilization."

"No. We haven't. We're just living on the edge of somebody else's, like fleas on a dog's back. If the dog drowns, the fleas drown, too.

All of this made me reflect on our current society and economic structure. Who am I stealing from that only facilitates me stealing more?

Are we the dog drowning the fleas? or are we fleas on our own financial system or healthcare system?

I try to pat myself on the back that I only buy fair trade coffee now. But we don't own a fuel- efficient car. And I eat a lot of highly processed food and then I spend my time running it off instead of using my calories weeding the garden in which I (should) grow my own, healthier food. (duh!)

It's the hard answers we don't like. Nicodemus (O'Brien) hit that nail on the head.

Further, this is why we need to read to our children. Even when they're old enough to read chapter books to themselves. If we are going to teach ethical and contemplative behavior to our children, what better way to facilitate those kinds of family discussions than through literature? Having a common ethical dilemma to discuss that does not involve the child or parent personally-- has nothing to do with "punishments" -- makes it easy to discuss ideas and check in with your child's moral development.

How else to teach children to choose the hard answer instead of the easy one? And to remind us as parents that sometimes we have to choose the hard answers too. Especially when it comes to parenting.

Friday, October 2, 2009

10 things everyone should know about watching volleyball

Having played and coached for many years, I've come to realize how fast the sport is advancing. Many people watch their daughters play volleyball without really understanding its intricacies. It has become a very complex and specialized sport. So here are 10 things that may help you understand the sport a little more and support your daughter and the whole team.
  1. The girl with the off-colored jersey is the LIBERO. The normal substitution rules do not apply to her, but she can only serve once in the rotation. Otherwise she can run on the floor for anyone in the back row. Often, it is the team's best passer/digger, but it should be someone who the coach doesn't mind not having in the front row, since the libero can never jump in front of the 10 foot line and send the ball over.
  2. Serve receive is the most difficult skill-- while serving hard is much easier to master.
  3. All passes, digs, etc. should go to target-- a spot 2/3rds of the way across the net and 2 feet off the net... so that the middle hitter and the outside hitter look to their right to see the setter. The difference between getting the ball up in the air, and getting the ball to target is like a quarterback throwing behind the wide receiver or leading him.
  4. The game is specialized now. For example, left-handed players will switch so that they are always hitting out of right front when they are in the front row, no matter where they are in the rotation. Players drill these spots and their necessary skills. So if one player goes down/out, there may be only one other player on the team who can step into that particular role. (The same goes for the back-row.)
  5. Hitters seem to get all the attention because that is the culmination of the team's offensive effort. And this is unfair.
  6. It is unfair, because if there's not decent passing and, subsequently setting, the hitters don't ever get a chance to hit. The passers and setters should get more props than they do. It just takes a more nuanced fan. Learn what a good pass is and cheer for good passes as much as you do a good spike or block. (It doesn't have to just be digging up a hard hit, it can simply be a serve-receive that goes to target which merits standing up and screaming praise.)
  7. It is also unfair, because it puts undo pressure on the hitters that if everything else is perfect, they HAVE to get it in... and that can lead to tipping when they should be hitting hard, missed hits, or blaming themselves. OR worse yet, fans holding it against the hitter for missing a hit.
  8. Sending over a "FREE BALL" is bad and should be avoided at all costs. "Free Ball" means a ball that is passed over the net to the other team instead of being hit, tipped, or dinked at them. "Down Balls" are better -- arm motions like a spike, but feet staying planted on the ground.
  9. If players are yelling HELP! on the floor it is probably because the setter (who is supposed to take the second hit) has taken the first and that means another player needs to step in and set the ball ASAP!
  10. Yelling "ROOF" after one player stuff-blocks another is entirely appropriate.

And as a former coach, don't be afraid to cheer for the coach -- give him or her a word of praise/encouragement too, or do something nice for him/her mid-season instead of just at the awards banquet! :)

Project Runway meets the Rummage Sale

I stayed up too late last night watching, but I'm addicted to Project Runway. Perhaps not as much as Wendi and Alan Gratz of Gratz Industries who do fantastic weekly predictions based on the previews. Although, now I am addicted to reading their weekly assessments of the show, its designers, models, and judges. It really is great stuff. You should read it.

As for why I like it: It's creative people being creative. Plus they have to be talented. Besides, I like to sew without a pattern, figuring logic and tracing my best-fitting dresses should be enough to get me by. Of course I couldn't do half of what the designers do, but sometimes I think, I could do that -- if I had more time and could cut a sleeve without a pattern.

So, when someone asked me if I was going to the Humane Society Rummage Sale, I thought I'd go pick around and see what I could find. Maybe some cheap fabric to add to my steamer trunk full of scraps and remnants I hoard for nebulous future projects. Maybe a few odds and ends to complete my daughter's cowgirl Halloween costume... Maybe a big wool skirt that could be re-worked into something modern. (I loved the PR episode when the designers had to re-do an existing outfit into something new.)

It turns out the only thing I couldn't find there was a parking place. It was packed! Solid cars all the way from Pizza Hut to Auto Zone. It was downright baffling, but it only intrigued me more. The place was packed inside too, with people, trinkets, sheets, chairs, dishes, Christmas ornaments, coffee pots missing the coffee makers...

Sure enough. They had fabric... but nothing that struck my fancy. What did catch my eye, though, were patterns... 10 for $1. How could I go wrong? Maybe seeing how structured pieces fit together will give me the confidence to try something new and adventurous.
I'll pass on ruffles, though, Nick. But I am into the dolman sleeves.