Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Thank you, Mr. Williams

When my brother came home from the Navy, newly divorced and still healing from a terrible motorcycle accident that shattered his leg, what he brought home with him—besides his impressive record collection—was his sense of humor. He was naturally funny, and though he was a big guy and could be imposing when he really wanted to, he had a sweet smile and the most infectious laugh. His laugh was always more like a giggle—a high-pitched "hee, hee, hee hee!"— and he was the first person I remember who would pointedly look me in the eye as we laughed over something. It was like he delighted in seeing other people laugh along with him and wanted them to know it.

Jon and I devoured a lot of pop culture together: movies, music, music videos, TV. I can't remember when or how we saw that first Robin Williams stand-up special—whether it was on TV or we rented it on our new Betamax tape player—but it was Robin Williams Live at the Roxy.

I won't go to the trouble of listing every joke and line from that show that became a part of our shared scripts, but I'm sure you know how it goes. You see a comedian and from then on you grab every opportunity that presents itself to repeat a line so you can share that laughter again. Which is why for ages we would crack each other up by quietly singing, "Pop goes the weasel" whenever we used a microwave.

Robin Williams certainly wasn't the only comedian whose work wormed its way into our lives, but he was always the one I loved the most. I don't know if his influence can be felt or seen in my writing, but I guarantee you it's there when I put my kids to bed every night and they beg me to perform our traditional bedtime ritual in as many accents and voices as I can.

To me, the life of Robin Williams is proof that making people laugh is a worthwhile calling. It couldn't save him from a lifetime of depression, but how many people did he save in some small way each time he performed, each time he gave of himself—risking so much by throwing his entire being into every word? I know there are people out there who felt the bleakness of life lift, and maybe only for a moment, because they laughed at and with this fiercely intelligent, brave man.

The last time I saw my brother, he was bedridden and was staying in a rehab facility, where they were making a last-ditch effort to help him regain some use of the left side of his body after his stroke and second brain surgery. I hadn't seen him since before the stroke, and so, when I walked in his room, I was gutted by the sight of him. He was unable to walk on his own, and was propped in bed watching TV. His left hand was being held open by a special strap to keep the skin of his palm from getting sores. He had lost much of his facial and vocal expressions, so at first he seemed distant and monotone. He had developed a large skin cancer on one side of his face that was not being removed because, well, there was no point. My sister and I sat with him for a while and chatted, and then decided to give him a rest while we went to get some lunch, promising to come back after and bring him a burger.

When we got outside to my sister's car, everything that I had held in since we entered his room burst out, and I sobbed and sobbed until I thought there would be nothing left of me. He was really dying, and for the first time, I could see it. It wasn't just a dent in his skull, or a propensity to nap or to be cold. The physical, immutable reality that he would soon no longer exist and that it would not be an easy departure hit me so hard I buckled. My sister sat with me, talked and cried with me, and eventually I pulled it together enough to go eat.

I worried about going back for the afternoon, uncertain if I could handle it, but the rest and the food (and the cry) was good for all of us, and we all seemed looser and more comfortable. We started talking more like we always had, about anything and everything, and we started to laugh again. As we talked, Jon would occasionally change the channel on the television. He liked to have it on, even when he had visitors, and at one point he turned it to a golf game. I had recently been farting around on the internet and had come across a Robin Williams performance where he imagined the crazy Scot who invented golf—who obviously did it just to fuck with people. I asked Jon if he had ever seen it, and he hadn't. So, I did it for him. As much as I could remember and in my best Scottish accent. By this time, the three of us were laughing like loons, and the next day, when his son came by while we were there, Jon told him to look it up on You Tube, and the two of them watched it together and there was that beautiful giggle again. It should have become one of our refrains: "Fuck, no! Eighteen fuckin' times!" The laughter we got from that opened us all up to more and more, and though we moved on to other topics, we giggled and laughed more easily thereafter. Or at least it seemed so to me. His wife later told me that she called him after we left, and he was practically giddy—lighter in spirit than he had been in months. Because that's what laughter can do.

I was making arrangements to go and visit him again a few months later when he passed away.

Robin Williams will never know that one day in a rehab center in Tennessee, two sisters and a brother spent two last days together, and that a part of those days were spent holding our sides over one of his many, many performances. And that's okay, because I trust he knew how much joy he brought to the world, even as his depression stole his own joy from him. And I know that my brief moments of sorrow over his passing are nothing compared to the overwhelming grief those who truly knew and loved him are feeling now. I'm all too aware of what that grief feels like. Still, I would have liked to have told him what he did that day.

Anyway. Thank you, Mr. Williams. I wish you well on the next leg of your journey. Say hi to my mom and brother if you see them, okay?

For what it's worth, this is the bit:

Thursday, July 24, 2014

The Great Bitchy Sewing Room Sale, Part Deux

Do you ever just look around your house and think, "How the hell did I get all this stuff?" We are acquisitive little beasts, are we not? Quite frankly, my sewing room has gotten to the point where I don't even want to start a new project, because that would mean figuring out where to move all the stuff that lives on my cutting table, not to mention all the stuff that lives on my sewing table. And all the other tables. And the floor. Basically, if there's a flat surface anywhere, it's covered in junk.

When I start to look longingly at my tables and wish I could use them, that means it's time to get rid of stuff. Do you remember the last Facebook sale? We had a grand old time, and I believe the time has come to do it again. So that I can fill your sewing rooms with stuff to cover every available surface. It's the Circle of Life!

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the semi-annual Great Bitchy Facebook Sale, it goes like this: Starting on Saturday, July 27, I will be posting pictures of stuff on my Facebook page. Each photo will have a description of the item being sold and the price. The first person to comment with the desire to purchase said item gets it. That person must then communicate to me, either in a comment or via direct message, their Paypal email address and their zip code. I will invoice everyone after the sale is over, and it will probably take a few days to get through everything.

Included in the sale are: fabric, scrap bags, books, notions, and maybe a couple handmade items. Almost everything will be sold for well below retail, except for the newest fabrics, which I will still try to keep below full retail, just not as far below.

And afterwards, there will be a BONUS SALE! My friend Flaun recently made a big move from Minnesota to Tennessee and my friend Trish not only helped her clean out her sewing room, but took home her extra stuff to help her sell it off. I offered the use of my Facebook page for the sale, so once my stuff has been picked over, Trish will take over and start posting Flaun's stuff. At that point, if you purchase anything from Flaun, you will need to re-post your Paypal address and zip code, and you will receive a separate invoice for those things.

Because we are civilized folk and we do not want to descend into chaos, there are rules and guidelines.

1. Be nice.
2. I have to run the sale when it is convenient for me. I realize the times I choose to post may not be convenient for you, but I can't help that. You can write me snarly emails about how unfair it is that I posted the one thing you wanted while you were at TaeBo class, but I will ignore them.
3. There are times when two people claim things very close together. Also, Facebook in a browser is all funky with the way comments appear, so it may look like one comment was first when another really was. Fortunately, my phone app shows the comments in chronological order, so that is how I will decide who gets the item.
4. It will take me time to create the invoices after the sale (spreadsheets are involved), so please be patient. I will announce on Facebook when I have emailed the invoices. If I have made this announcement, and you do not receive an invoice, please let me know. It usually means I made a typing error with your email address.
5. Shipping is not included in the prices and will be added on at invoice time. Rest assured I will cram everything into the smallest box/envelope possible.

I think that covers it, but if I have forgotten some detail, you can excoriate me for it in the comments and I will address it.

I am going to try to start at 10 am EST on Saturday, but that can change depending on my kids and what we decide to do over the weekend. I may schedule a bunch of posts, and get back to them later if we need to go out.

Have fun and thank you!!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Quilting With the Big Dogs

This week, I am handing things over to a special guest. This little lady has only been quilting for a couple years, but she's already making a big splash in the quilting world. She's been featured in several major quilt magazines, and her book, Drool-Worthy Quilts, will be released by Perro Press in October. Please welcome Roxie!

Hi, everyone—and thank you so much, Megan, for inviting me to share some of my thoughts with your readers today. I should warn you, though, I'm definitely not as funny as Megan! Well, except when I'm playing fetch and suddenly drop the stick and hike up my leg to lick my lady bits. Apparently that's HILARIOUS.

So, first let's address the one question everybody asks me—do you get free treats from fabric manufacturers? I'm afraid the answer is HELL YES I DO! Usually, all I have to do is a blog post or something, and they just throw the bacon right at me. Sometimes they also want to give me a tummy rub, and that does make me feel a little bit cheap and easy, but you try resisting the sweet, sweet sensation of warm hands on your little pot belly. So what if I have to design a quilt around the latest collection featuring insanely large prints and seizure-inducing color combos in return? BACON AND TUMMY RUBS. I'm only canine, after all.

There's a lot that I've had to overcome in my career as a four-legged quilter. Having four legs for one thing. And no hands. But I haven't let that stop me! I think my biggest obstacle has to be my damn human. She keeps trying to banish me from the sewing room, and I know she's just jealous of my success. I can't help it if I'm completely awesome and everyone loves me. Look at my tummy! It's so round and squishy! Who wouldn't give a book deal to a cute little pudge-monkey like me, huh? No, one, that's who! I'M SO GREAT YAY YAY LET'S CHEW THE CORNERS OFF ALL THE ACRYLIC RULERS WHO'S WITH ME YAY!

But no, my human keeps claiming that I don't belong in the sewing room just because I am a superior being who needs to fart next to her and then scramble into her lap for comfort because the sound of my own flatulence scares me. Or because I have eclectic tastes and like to eat my own poop and then lick her face. She doesn't understand that I was educated at Miss Prissy's Fancy Dog Academy and I learned all of those things from a very wise and worldly schnauzer named Rocko. Rocko also humped me incessantly, but that was a small price to pay for his tutelage. If you haven't been to dog academy, you couldn't possibly understand. SIT! STAY! HIKE YOUR LEG UP AND LICK YOUR BITS! See? You don't get it.

So, yeah, some days I just want to give it all up and go into the back yard and bark at nothing until the neighbors start yelling. But then I remember why I got into this business in the first place: the adulation of total strangers. That's why you all do it, right? Well, okay, not all of you. I realize not everybody can be famous like me—I mean, do you have a fuzzy tummy? There's a very simple equation at work here, but let me lay it out for you: Fuzzy tummy + tummy rubs  x "Who's a good girl? Who's a good girl? You are!" = UNDENIABLE QUILTING TALENT. Can't argue with that logic, can you?

So, not only should I be allowed in my human's sewing room, I should totally have my own room with my own machine, and I'm sure my good friends at Janome or Bernina or Pfaff or one of those will be happy to sponsor a complete sewing room set-up for me. I will happily take lots of pictures of myself next to the machine with captions like THANKS, HUSKERDUVARNA which will surely result in millions of sales for them! I am SO good at business stuff. And my butt smells nice too.

Being a dog in the quilting industry has definitely been a good thing, even if SOME people (ahem, human) are totes jelly and want to deprive me of my right to pee on fat quarter bundles. I would say, if you can be a quilting dog, definitely be a quilting dog, but if you can't, don't be a quilting cat. Cats are assholes.

And I'm certainly not the only dog out there! I'm proud to belong to a pooch-only guild full of really nice pups. Allow me to introduce you to my friends:

This is our program coordinator, Heidi. I wanted that job but Heidi was all, "I can do it! I can do it! Let me! Let me! Let me!" And then she ran around in circles until she fell over and I said, "Fine. You do it." If she schedules you for a workshop with us and your contract has drool and teeth marks all over it, just know they were put there with a lot of enthusiasm.

This is Jack. He's new, so he hasn't figured out yet that licking the machine, while certainly a really fun thing to do almost anytime, doesn't actually produce any quilting. That's ok; he'll get there. We have treats.

This is JoJo. She's an old-fashioned girl who loves to sew on her antique slant-needle Singer and also refuses to let a guy sniff her butt on the first date. Or the fifth. She's truly an inspiration to us all. 

Cocoa is in charge of Hospitality, which, yes, is a thing in our guild. We want our guests to be super comfy, so Cocoa will artfully create a lovely impromptu doggie bed out of any and all available materials. So, keep an eye on your stuff. If you also express a desire to have your face licked until you cry—you do this by existing, of course—Cocoa will hook you up.

Zeus! Zeus was named for the god of thunder and we'll just let you guess why. Despite his, um, frequent thunderclaps, Zeus always brings a festive vibe to guild meetings by dressing up as some damn thing that has no relation to any current holiday or event. This was taken at our June 11th meeting. 

This is Scarlett. If you should come visit our guild someday, a little scratch behind the ears and a few "good girls" would not be unwelcome. Despite her accomplishments—just look at that Circle of Geese!—poor Miss Scarlett suffers from a certain doggie ennui. "What does it all mean?" she asks. "Why do we bother? Are we all not just playthings, meant only for the amusement of humans?" Seriously, a tummy rub would do her so much good. And maybe some bacon.

Um, we don't actually know her name. She just shows up with that crown on and peers at all of us over her glasses, sipping her giant Coca-Cola. We've take to calling her The Dowager Empress.

And this is Baxter. He was recently elected guild president based solely on being a snuggly widdle cuddle-bean, but it turns out he's not exactly leadership material. Seriously, I thought I was a nap champion, but Baxter is the Snooze King. And nobody has the heart to wake him up when we need him for something, because his little paws twitch when he sleeps, like he's running after foxes and squirrels, and he makes this tiny "woof" sound that just melts your insides to butter. Also, when you wake him suddenly, he pees everywhere.

We hope you'll visit our guild someday and bring us lots of Bonz and Beggin Strips and maybe some actual bacon. And remember: just because we're dogs doesn't mean we're all thinking about humping your leg. That's only the males.

Big thanks to (in order) Joanie Dorsey, Lisa Pitts Stanley, Brandy Yeager, Theresa Pino, Regina Smith, Nancy Sharr, Laura Lochore, Tammy Khan, and Katie Kohl Welch for taking such great pictures of their dogs and allowing me to use them in this post. Bacon and tummy rubs to you all!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Update from the plague ward

I've been pretty absent lately and part of that is because a plague descended upon my household and I haven't wanted to move or think or breathe for DAYS. The kids had it first, and whenever they get sick the question I always ask is: Will this be one of those viruses that is mild in kids and worse in adults? And this time the answer was oh, hell yes.

Before the ague of death took hold, I had started mucking about with all my fabric, trying to weed out the stuff I'm clearly never going to use, and getting the bits I had tucked away in drawers out where I can see them. I haven't been sewing much in the last year or so, and I feel so stuck creatively (in quilting anyway), that I thought maybe if I had things better organized and in my line of sight, I might get inspired to actually use some of it.

I have been collecting fat quarter, fat eighth, and half-yard bundles over the last 6–8 months, but I've been keeping them in drawers, where I never see them, unless I go over and pay them a visit, which always makes me feel a bit foolish. ("Hello, my lovelies—mommy just wants to stroke you for a bit before she is forced to play Mario Kart with her children again.") We have been cleaning out the girls' room and they had a bookshelf that was mainly being used for stuffed animals they no longer play with, so I made the executive decision to carry that bastard from their basement room up two flights to my room all by myself. Even the girls were like, "Damn, woman. What's gotten into you?"

But now I can see all my pretties, even if I can't quite get to them without a bit of awkward contortioning. There's a table right in front of the shelves, but I've determined that it will hold my weight for short periods, so, you know, no big.

The only thing I have managed to sew is this lovely Kitchen Aid mixer from this pattern by Sew Ichigo.

I doubled the size of the pattern  to make the block 12 inches, and it went together very smoothly. I even dipped into my precious Tula Pink stash to make it.

I also made this little froggie wall hanging back in May and June for a birthday swap group I am part of. My assigned recipient loves and collects frogs, so I had to find a paper pieced frog pattern. There are some insanely small pieces to this pattern, and there were many times I thought I'd have to chuck the whole thing and just send her some frog fabric.

I used fabric from a FQ bundle of Valori Wells Blueprint Basics I scored at Market. I still have a layer cake and a charm pack of these and I really love them. I just wish I had picked a better color combo than the red and pink at the end—the contrast in the others was way better, but I had already rejected one panel I made in grey and green for the same reason and I didn't have time to try again.

In the course of cleaning and rearranging, I have also discovered a lot of forgotten stuff. Embroidery projects I designed and started but never finished. And fabric! I love Lizzy House with the same fervor as I love Tula Pink, and I discovered I had a secret little stash of Castle Peeps! This might have been her first collection, if I'm not mistaken, and it's very hard to find anybody willing to part with it. I had purchased a kit from a vendor at the Annapolis Quilt Show the first year I went (and that vendor has never been back, dammit—hers was the only shop that had anything other than civil war repro and nautical prints), and had no intention of actually making the quilt in the kit. I cut a bunch of it into rectangles, for some reason, and then put it away and never did anything else with it.

That made me quite happy and I placed it lovingly next to my Constellations and 1001 Peeps yardage

Then I pulled out my dilemma fabric. My "can't live with it, can't live without it" fabric. When my mom foisted a lot of her unused fabric on me, I discovered this collection amongst all the other flotsam and jetsam. The selvedge says it's called Blooming Glory designed by the Woodrow Studio, London, England. You can still find some of these on Etsy and eBay, but I don't know much more about it.

These are VERY large-scale florals in amazingly rich colors. Do I like them? Can I use them? Will I use them? And if I do, exactly how will I use them? I can't figure out what they want to be, or what they want to be that fits within the kind of stuff I tend to like. So, every few months, I pull them out and stare at them, until I finally give up and put them back on the shelf. If you have any ideas, I'd love to hear them.

If the fabric gods are smiling on me, more fun stuff should hit my doorstep today. I've been hitting online sales and Instagram destash sales, and have fallen in love with Quilter's Square in Lexington, Kentucky. They recently started carrying my book (only the third shop to do so - COME ON, SHOPS) and they have some great fabrics. Kela, who owns the store with her mom, participates a lot on Instagram, and I find out about their sales and promotions that way, as well as the fact that Kela will cut a custom jelly roll for you out of Kona solids and Bella solids if you tell her what colors you want. So, yeah, I've got a box coming from them that BETTER BE HERE TODAY. Sometimes I think the post office toys with me just because they can. But really, follow them on IG if you can: @quilterssquare. John Q. Adams is doing a QAL of a Tula Pink pattern with Indelible fabrics, and Quilter's Square is selling kits, and all the deets are on IG. (And if you don't follow me there already, I'm @meganzdougherty.)

And seriously, please help me with those damn mongo flowers, y'all.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Smocking Template Winner

The winner of Cheryl's Smocking Template and a copy of my book is Flo@Butterfly Quilting! Flo, I'll be sending you an email to get your address so we can send you your stuff. Congrats!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Smocking, the Khaleesi, and Awesome Hair

Is "smocking" a noun or a verb, or both? When you are going to sew something in such a way that the end result is smocking, did you smock it? Can you say, "I smocked the living hell outta that fabric" and go on your merry way, confident in your word choices? There is such a thing as a smock. Is it related in any way to smocking? Were smocks once traditionally smocked? And can one be known as a smocker?

These questions all came to mind recently because I was asked to be today's stop on the blog tour for Cheryl Sleboda's new DVD, Heirloom Sewing Techniques for Today's Quilter.

You'll notice there's no "smock" in that title, which I think was a mistake, but I am not here to criticize. I am here to praise and let me start with two extremely important elements of this wonderful DVD:


I have a massive crush on this woman's hair. IT'S GLORIOUS. Funky, yet feminine. On a good day, I look like David Lynch. Cheryl looks like a freaking rock star.

Hint: I'm on the left.


I cannot show you a picture of my nails in comparison because I do have some dignity and have no desire to scare anyone, so let's just say that it's a good thing no one is knocking down my door to have me do a DVD of my sewing techniques because the audience would look at shots like this and go, "Is that chocolate? Oh, god, I really hope that's chocolate."

I felt it best to prepare you for these two aspects of the DVD ahead of your inevitable purchase of it, because you can easily spend the whole time going, "How does she get her hair all those colors? And what is the color of that base coat? I MUST KNOW." Public service, in other words.

Now that we have that out of the way, let me tell you about the DVD. Cheryl teaches you about four basic fabric manipulation techniques: smocking, pleating, pintucking, and gathering (or smocks, pleats, pintucks, and gathers). The smocking is all done by hand, and this is not the kind of smocking you see on little easter dresses at Target. This is like stuff you see on costumes from Game of Thrones, y'all:

Cheryl calls that one "Arrowheads." I call it KHALEESI.

There are several other smocking techniques and they are all extremely cool. They are created by drawing a grid or a series of circles on the back of your fabric, which creates a kind of map for you to follow with hand stitching that draws up the fabric. The different ways the grid or circles are laid out creates different effects with the fabric gathers.

Cheryl also shows you how to use a gathering foot and a pintucking foot on your sewing machine, two things which I had never seen in action before. She also goes over pleating, and the different, dimensional effects that can be produced from a series of pleats. Check out this little sampler quilt made from all the techniques in the DVD:

Pretty cool, huh?

Cheryl has even made a neat tool to speed the grid-drawing process along. It doesn't come with the DVD, but is available in her Etsy shop:

Click here to order.

And THAT little piece of magic, my friends, has the word "smocking" right on it. As all quality products should.

Now, if you want a more concrete testimonial for how good this DVD is, do not despair. Were you despairing? Well, stop. I watched the DVD exactly ONE time, and based on that one viewing, I managed to do this:

Just call me Mother of Dragons, yo.

AND IF YOU MADE IT THIS FAR - you get to enter the giveaway! See, there are advantages to putting up with me. Cheryl is giving away one of her smocking templates (not the DVD - sorry!) and I'll sweeten the deal with one of my books. (Even though I know you ALL already own several copies—one to keep by the bed, one for traveling, one to loan, and one for the bathroom—but everybody can always use another one, right? Right?) Just leave a comment here swearing your eternal allegiance to me, Khaleesi, Stormborn, Mother of Dragons, and David Lynch impersonator—or which tells me your favorite TV show. Whichever.

I will leave the giveaway open until midnight EST on Friday, June 20 and I will announce the winner on Saturday.

Here are all the dates and stops for Cheryl's tour. Check 'em out!
June 9 - Susan Brubaker Knapp -
June 10 - Maddie Kertay -
June 11 - Faith Jones -
June 12 - Lynn Krawczyk -
June 13 - Julie Creus -

June 16 - Catherine Redford -
June 17 - Megan Dougherty -
June 18 - Pokey Bolton -
June 19 - Jamie Fingal -

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Forty-three down, six or seven hundred to go.

In case you are having writer's block and can't think of what to write on your Laughter Quilt blocks (which you are making, right? RIGHT?), here is a list of what the people who have already sent blocks have written on theirs:

  • Minor dukes!
  • Monty Python quotes
  • Alliterative euphemisms for masturbation
  • My friend Megan
  • Crazy Snowflakery
  • Robot fabric
  • Witty one liners
  • "You have enough fabric" Ha!
  • Extra long meetings that never seem to end
  • My dogs
  • Steve Carell
  • Jim Carey
  • The Bitchy Stitcher
  • Listening to someone learn a new language
  • Farts
  • Chevy Chase
  • John Cleese
  • The tactless truthfulness of my grandchildren
  • Dogs that smile
  • No empty nest! Fill it with fabric!
  • Everybody should believe in something. I believe I'll have another piece of chocolate...
  • I love a good meal, so I don't cook. - Maxine
  • Lucy McGillicuddy Ricardo
  • I'm sick of reality! I want a fairy godmother.
  • OMFG!
  • Fuck twerking! Can your ass cook?
  • Y2K Fabrics
  • Laurel & Hardy films
  • Quilting with my "Quilters by the Lake" friends...always something funny!
  • Baby animals at play
  • Richard Scarry books make me laugh
  • Telling old stories with friends
  • Seeing myself in the mirror after a shower
  • D.B. Cooper w/Dollie
  • "Sparky"
  • My grandson saying, "Nana, you are so beautiful!"
  • My grandchildren
  • "Life"
  • What makes me laugh is when someone says or does something totally unexpected!
  • Things shaped like penises
  • The antics of my pets
  • The move "Elf" no matter how many times I've seen it.
  • My granddaughter singing "Let It Go" at the top of her 2 yr old lungs! Oh, and sass & snark...

As you can see, there are all kinds of interpretations in there, from names of comedians/comedic actors to actual jokes to completely cryptic things we can only guess at. And yes, there was a little butt kissing too, but we'll overlook it and save those for the Butt Kissing Quilt. I have to say, though this is not a competition, the absolute winner here is "alliterative euphemisms for masturbation." I am very, very tempted to turn that into some sort of a contest, just for the hell of it.

Forty-three blocks is fantastic and I'm so grateful to everyone who has sent them so far. But I still need more - lots more! I'll be posting reminders periodically, and if I come speak at your guild (see my new Lectures page for info) I'll bring instructions for the blocks to pass out to members. I hope this list gives you some inspiration and shows you that ANYTHING is fair game as long as it it something that makes you laugh.