The DVD here is “Pilates for Wimps: Fitness for the Partially Motivated.” It has a photo of the instructor in her gym clothes, eating a doughnut.

I am giving this to #1 daughter, a certified couch potato, for Christmas. I tried it out yesterday to make sure it was not stupid or offensive, and I think it is a good one. It is a basic 30-minute Pilates class. The instructor is young and toned, but brought an older, plumper friend along to show easier modifications of the exercises.

This would be good if you are sick of looking at only young, toned people when you exercise, and also if you occasionally don’t feel as though you can do that tenth push-up and would like to have an alternative. Aside from flopping onto the floor and staring balefully at the screen, I mean.

She also uses a lot of metaphors and a very relaxed tone of voice, which makes the instructions easier to understand and less daunting, perhaps. I like the DVD I have where the instructor (a frighteningly-toned 50-year-old) booms out “Courage!” from time to time, but something low-key can be nice for days when you don’t want to hit the gym. Or if you don’t have a gym to hit.

I followed the instructor most of the time, and found it a relaxing yet sometimes challenging workout, though I am sorry to report that I have no sore muscles today.

run3 Another gift for that daughter (she doesn’t read this) is the table runner I’m working on. I went ahead and bound it in one of the striped fabrics, since it is to coordinate with striped dishes.

The pictures here are not good, I realize, but I tried.

I think the difficulty of photographing this is a run2combination of the shiny fabric and my desire to have the quilting stitches show, the fact that I take all my pictures before the sun comes up, and my lack of talent. Oh, and let me just blame the camera and the computer too. And the moose.

I think that what I need for the rest of the quilting of this item — thanks to the excellent suggestions you folks gave me — is something like this:178

It can go at either end, pointing toward the central rose and forming an on-end square with the piecing.

The image is on a Dover clip-art disk, so making it print out the right size will require some techno-savvy, of which, as you know, I have none. I have a book somewhere that explains how to calculate the percentage at which you need to enlarge something on a copy machine in order for it to be the size you want, so that is another option, as is lengthy trial and error or making grids and copying it in by hand.

As always, your advice is appreciated.

In return, I offer you a song for the day. “Jesus Christ the Apple Tree” is an early American poem, commonly referred to as a “mystical” poem, set to music in the twentieth century by Elizabeth Poston. It may be called a “mystical” poem because the words are mysterious. At the very least, it is a mystery why we sing this at Christmas, although I suppose it has as much to do with Christmas as “Frosty the Snowman” has.

Here is sheet music and MP3. The exciting thing about this is that it is actually being sung, unlike most of the recordings we get online, which just give us a strange beeping, useful for learning the tune but not enough to get a sense of the song. The people singing this sound like a little community or church choir or perhaps a family. Their pitch is fine, but their vowels are untrained and they aren’t always together, and I say there is nothing wrong with that. Christmas music ought to be sung by everyone, it seems to me. Here is a much better one, musically speaking, sung by the William Jewell College Concert Choir, courtesy of Chanthaboune. You can find a snippet of a jazzed-up choral version of  Apple Tree by clicking on the words “Apple Tree.” These are all choral versions, because that is how I like this song, but the tune is quite lovely. It is not all that singable, so you might not be humming it as you go about your daily tasks, but again I say why not?

If more of us were cheerily singing things, even if we squeak on the high notes and rumble on the low notes and sound odd on the large intervals, the world would be a happier place.