Archive | October, 2012

Pinterest Inspired Tutorial #7 Posted

31 Oct

Good morning!

It was still dark when I woke this morning. Before you know it I’ll be bearish and hibernating.

This is a quick one….hope to get back later today. We’ll see if I get all my chores done. Wish me luck!
The Snowman Quartet made it to posting today! Yay! It is here.

The Snowball Quartet

I intend to make another. I’ll add more pics when I do.

Hope everyone has a delightful day today. It has certainly been my pleasure to be here.

 

Snowmen, Balls, Liberty, and Behinds

30 Oct

I have a developed a crush on all things Snowman. If I become disenchanted with a Snowman,  I can allow him to melt and toss his parts out. The worst mess a Snowman makes is that little puddle around the toilet. Snowmen do not leave dirty underwear lying about. Nor do they spit or fart. Granted they can be a little cold…. Well, cold shoulders are nothing new. It might be difficult to snuggle with a snowman, but I have a dog for snuggling. Just hope he doesn’t decide to pee in the snow.

We rarely have snow in this part of the country. Building snowmen and sledding do not rank in Arkansas’ top ten winter sports. Probably not in the top 100. That may have some bearing on my obsession.

Then again, it may not.

 

This brings me to the 7th Pinterest Inspired project.  It is complete. It is a hanging Four-headed Snowman. And no, he/they is/are not a Halloween Snowman/men. He /they is/are made with a tube sock and he/they is/are kinda cute. The tutorial will go live tomorrow. Pictures must be taken.  I’m a little behind.

I’m actually a big behind.

There is no reason to further investigate that statement. We shall leave it be.

___________

My daughter discovered once again that finding a liberal in Arkansas in a needle in the haystack proposition.  Of course we’ve known this for some time, but it never fails to baffle when confronted with an evangelical righty. My daughter asked where they get their ‘facts’, using the term loosely.

People hear what they want to hear and believe what they want to believe. They will pay good money to have someone reinforce those beliefs. Look at talk radio….there are a few of those supposed right wing conservatives that have made a killing speaking bullshit. And most of them are probably laughing all the way to the bank.

Take it to heart America. It isn’t about your personal morality. It’s about HUMAN RIGHTS. I wish I could find a way to make this universally understood. I think America would be a better place.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Solitude, Needlework, Crafts, and Crazy

29 Oct

I do a lot of sh*t. And most of it is executed in solitude.

I write. It doesn’t matter if my writing is read. It matters that I express the mind sludge. There’s lots of mind sludge. It crawls around my brain on its sludgy way to who knows where. It appears there is an attention problem that runs through my family. My son caught it. My daughter was fortunate. So the very act of writing, keeping lists, expressing the sludge is cathartic and in some small way allows me to maintain a very tiny amount of focus.

I build things, occasionally out of necessity. But I love to use my tools. And I love buying tools to use.  I built my kitchen island out of an old cabinet base, a bookcase my father built, and some scraps from our new floor. I had to buy the casters and I’m ready to re-paint it, but I’m rather proud that I re-used items I had and managed to keep my father’ bookcase.

I built my craft desk from the front door we replaced and created shelves from old bookcases of my mom’s. I love the desk. It’s always cluttered with some project or another. Sometimes the mail gets stacked on it until I find the time to recycle. I don’t worry about scratches or spilled paint. It just adds character.

I knit and crochet. I’ve designed a few things over the past 20 years. That’s always an exercise. The last published project (available here) was completed on four weekend trips to St Louis with my daughter. She was taking a Play Therapy course. I went with her so I could lock myself in her hotel room with no other distractions, just me and the knitting.  Unfocused personality meets nothing else to do.

The next knit project will be available on Ravelry soon. As soon as I get around to it.

I make wreaths, create flower arrangements, decorate, redecorate, and sew. I’ve dabbled in cross-stitch, quilting, woodworking, tatting, collage, scrapbooking, and other paper crafts. I’ve even (gasp) done some plastic canvas. At university,  I was a theatre major And now I’m obsessed with acquiring an embroidery machine for play time.

Seeing a pattern here?  Thought so.

The majority of these endeavors are solitary.

Yet on the completion of any given project, I am compelled to share it with someone. My husband and kids usually have the honors. My far-away friends are subjected to pictures. The locals are tortured with in-person flagrant requests for compliments.

I see this compulsion to share in my crafty friends as well. I believe in the sharing we find community. In the sharing we relinquish our solitude and reach out, we teach, we inspire.

The women I know are extroverted, intelligent people who engage with others effortlessly, then retreat to a corner to learn something new, practice a stitch, or hone a technique.

It’s almost schizophrenic! I’m not accusing anyone of mental illness although I have wondered about myself and a few others over the years. But’s it’s freaky. I’ve made excuses to stay home alone and work on some weird little project that captured my attention for five whole minutes.

WTF? Really?? Is there soon to be a new listing in the mental health diagnostic reference guide? CraftAHolic? Not intended as encouragement to counterfeit holy relics.  Knit Junkie? Needle reference is intended. Crochet Crazy? Oops. Crazy is not PC. A new virus? Woodworking Worm? No wood worm harm sustained during the composition of this speculation.

I can see it now. Psych wards will be overrun. Doctors and hospitals will make more gazillions.

But wait. Perhaps we are actually maintaining our mental health by engaging in our favorite hobbies.  A cure for what ails us?  I know I’m a big fan of Zen knitting. Stockinette stitch all the way, baby!

The real silliness is our great- and great-great grandmothers did this sh*t out of…dare I speak the word… necessity. Unless you were wealthy and could hire a seamstress, there weren’t many choices. Nudity was frowned upon. Learn to knit or crochet or seam up a quilt and your family stayed a little warmer in the winter. Spinning and weaving thread and yarn supplemented the family income and allowed the purchase or barter of other necessities. These skills were highly regarded. I know, I know. I’m simplifying the whole thing.

That may be the point.

If you have followed this weird conversation on the perils and pitfalls of hobby-ing, you too may be afflicted by obsessive-manic-compulsive hobby disorder.

There is no known cure. Enjoy the ride.

Pinterest Project # 6 Completed

27 Oct

Oh wow. Number six is completed and now I am the proud (?) owner of a clay pot Christmas tree. Find the tutorial here.

Pinterest Inspired Project # 6

Have a great weekend. It’s been fun.

Saying Goodbye to Lucky

26 Oct

Our LIttle Lucky Dog

We lost Lucky this morning. He suffered from congestive heart failure. We were treating it, but his little heart finally gave out about 8:40 this morning. We were on the way to the vet, barely a mile away from home.

Lucky was the only surviving puppy from Rosie and Chico’s only litter.  Rosie developed diabetes and Chico had the same CHF as Lucky. When Chico died unexpectedly we put two and two together and the vet was able to treat the CHF in Lucky.

We love our pets. I’ve had dogs and cats as long as I can remember. And I always begged for more. I remember Daddy telling me when we moved to this place in 1963 that, once settled, I could have a damn many animals as I wanted.

And so I’ve had rabbits and chickens and any number of cats and dogs. This land is a virtual pet cemetery. There’s Tiger and Sport. There’s Zippo, the cat that mourned Tiger to the point of not eating for 3 weeks. There’s Jinckey, the last one my Dad brought home to me. I was 15. She stayed with me through Daddy’s death. She even spent several years with me in college. She was around when my daughter was born.

There is BB, Big Baby, the lab my baby Zach used as a step stool when he wanted to climb onto the kitchen counter.

Bob’s cat, Baby, came from Canada with him and is buried here.

There’s Stumpy and Dixie, both rescued to live the remainder of their lives with us.

There’s Wily, the Jack Russell that was determined to run around the neighborhood picking fights. It took Bob weeks to devise a fence he couldn’t jump. We spent some bucks on fight recovery efforts.

And there are so many more.

They have all enriched our lives in one way or another. They were all loved, even the myriad number of barn cats that we kept trying to spay and neuter in order to get the population down.

They loved so much more in return.

Our pets can teach us so much about life and living. If only we listen to them.

Today we said goodbye to Lucky. He’s peaceful now, no more laboring to breathe.  He’s right across the garden path from Chico.

They are all missed.

 

 

 

Time Travel, Murder Most Heinous, and Insults

25 Oct

 

We are all time travelers.

On Monday I reminisced about my great-grandmothers. Today it occurred to me that through our fore-fathers and mothers and through our progeny, we are all time travelers.

What a thought, right? Just imagine the oldest relative you have or with whom you’ve had a relationship.  Then imagine how they lived, where they lived, the time period. What sort of amazing discoveries were made then? How did you great-grandfather make his living? Was he a farmer, an entrepreneur, a ship’s captain?

Was your great-great-grandmother an activist for women’s right to vote? Did she sport men’s pants or bloomers before her time? Could she hunt or fish?  Did she develop a recipe that is now famous and widely used? Did she raise 12 kids and die peacefully at home? Did those kids do things that are awe-inspiring?  Of course they did. They LIVED.

And in the living they have and will take you through time.

Aren’t you fortunate? Traveling through time will garner so much information. It can be a deeply personal tidbit or an historical perspective. All we have to do is ask.  Ask your relatives. Ask their friends. Ask your next door neighbor. They’ll assist with the travel plans.

My favorite personal tidbit was related to me by a distant cousin.  My mom was in poor health, and wished to make contact with some of her father’s descendants.  These people were little known to her. Her father wasn’t part of her life. We found the closest cousins still living in her home town with help from my aunt on my father’s side.  I drove her there. They were older and retired. They were happy to share pictures and stories. It was a fascinating visit.

The best story was about my great-grandfather.  He committed murder and was imprisoned. The victim’s crime?  He insulted great-grandpa’s wife. We have deliberated and speculated on the true meaning of ‘insult’ in this particular situation.  It’s been a brain tickler.

The old guy spent some time behind bars, but as the story unfolded, we were told he was sent home to die. I wonder if great-grandma was involved in any more insulting situations. The cousins were under the impression that she was quite the character, strong of will, sharp tongued, and fair with a shotgun herself.  Yup, I’ve wondered about old great-grandma.

I’m still looking for her. That whole thing about inquiring minds wanting to know applies here.

It is rather fascinating. This sort of traveling begins much as any other sort; with a phone and a computer.  It’s amazing where word of mouth and public records of birth, death, marriage, census information, and tax records can take you. I’ve been as far back as the 1700’s!

This isn’t your ordinary history class. This is time travel.

Think I’ll spend some time in the 19th century. I’d like to meet Victoria, Queen of England.

Bunco, Amusement, and Life

24 Oct

 

The fourth Wednesday of the month is Bunco night. Mothers and daughters, friends and co-workers gather to roll the dice. We’ve been playing for money for several months now. It’s not much. Top prize is $20.00.

We are an odd lot of women. Four of us are grandmother, mother, daughter, and mother’s mother-in-law. There are two more sets of mothers and daughters. There are four good friends. Some of us were new to the game when we began; some were old hands from previous groups.

We laugh a lot. We roll our dice. Some of us cuss a little. We eat. Some of us cuss a little more. And at the end of the game we chat.

For those brief hours every fourth Wednesday, we can let our woes go. I know I do. Sometimes it is an effort to get there, but always worth it. It’s a stress reliever. We tease each other, we tell jokes, and we share information.

Oddly enough we are all over the place in our political views. We’ve got the raving liberals, Democrats to the core and the Republicans who apparently still believe their party will diminish the size of government. I am completely bamboozled by them, so we try not to talk about it.

Sometimes it just comes into the conversation. We leave as friends anyway.

Life is full of questions and choices and good, bad, and indifferent moments. Sometimes we know what to do, sometimes we just let life happen, and sometimes we are clueless. But it certainly is good to have friends.

I just wish I had been born rich instead of so damn good looking. Hehehehe. At least I’m amusing myself!

 

 

Sewing Projects and Perseverance

23 Oct

I decided I wanted to sew.

My sewing machine is cranky and old. Some would say it resembles its owner. That opinion is not shared by the owner.

It also makes really crappy buttonholes. Sue had an old Singer with a buttonhole attachment. She sold it to me and gave me a demonstration. Thanks Sue! Now I have to save up for a Bernina or maybe a Husquvarna. Spell check isn’t going to catch that one.

So the tutorial on my Pinterest Inspired project today is posted here. And it does require a bit of sewing or some really good fabric glue. Check it out.

Sewing as a hobby has been a love/hate thing with me since I was a kid. My mom made some of my clothes. Back then chubby girl clothes weren’t readily available. Of course dinosaurs were still wandering around back then. I only had one of them for a pet. When he ate my little brother Mom made me give him away.

So I learned to sew pretty young. I spent a bit of time in the costume shop as an undergraduate theatre major. The problem is perfectionism. I’m never quite happy with the finished results. It may be that a seam is not quite as straight as it could be or that something just doesn’t fit together as I think it should or the machine gets hung and breaks 5 or 6 needles or the fabric is too thick or too thin. For some reason if I get hung up on something I have a tendency to throw it in a corner for a few days and then pack it in a box only to discover it years later and throw it away.

Go figure.

Whatever possessed me to want to sew again? Oh yeah. I found a project I wanted to make. It’s done. It’s not perfect, but I persevered to the end.

Yay me!

Grandmothers and Soap Operas

22 Oct

Bob was telling me stories of his misspent youth in Toronto yesterday. It was pretty scary. He told tales of explosions and harassment that made the little hairs on my neck stand up. It is surprising that he survived.

I, on the other hand, spent my childhood reading books and watching soap operas. Yup. Really. And get this; it was a black and white television. No shi*.

You thought I was a mere youngster, didn’t you? Go on, ‘fess up. There’s that word, fess, again. I do love that little Southern contraction.

Yes, my great-grandmother Sarah and I spent many a summer day watching soaps. ” As the World Turns” and “Guiding Light” were afternoon favorites. Sarah called them ‘her stories’. She tried not to miss them. When school was dismissed for the summer, I would spend the first week catching up on our stories. Who married who, who ran away, who was having an affair. They got a little steamier as time passed, new characters came and went, but the core family remained the same. It was something you could count on.

Sarah was my mother’s grandmother. She was born somewhere between 1888 and 1891. Off the top, I can’t recall the exact date. My grandmother, her middle child, was born in 1911. I’m dating her from there.

It seems utterly amazing to me that I had a relationship with someone born in the 19th century. She lived without electricity and running water until she came to live with us. I remember visiting her when I was but a wee thing. She rented a small house from my father’s sister.  We read by kerosene lamp light, made biscuits in a wood burning stove, and peed in a chamber pot. There was an outhouse for other uses. Water was drawn from a well.

My father’s grandmother lived right across the road from Sarah. Mildred was in the same boat. No modern amenities were to be found in her log house. It was a dark cabin. The windows were tiny, there was a huge wood stove in the center of the front room. Rocking chairs were the preferred seating in there and on the porch. There was a pump on the kitchen sink and benches near the table. A curtain partitioned a small sleeping area. That’s where the chamber pot was located. In my little kid mind, it was scary, not nearly as light and bright as Sarah’s house. Mildred was blind. It didn’t need to be light and bright.

Most of the other houses along the highway had been somewhat modernized or built recently to embrace the use of the power and telephone lines that had been laid in the preceding decade.  Those two remained fixed in another time.

Oddly enough, both my great-grandmothers had extraordinary impact on my parents. Sarah raised my mother. Grandma had only been married to my grandfather for a short time. She married a second time and moved to Little Rock, only a short drive away now the roads are much improved and cars are faster. She left my mom with Sarah. Sarah was ‘mama’. Grandma was referred to by her given name.

My father’s mother, Mabel, died when he was young. Mildred outlived her daughter and became the one he loved. There were only two occasions when I saw my father cry; one when his beloved grandmother died and the second time when he dropped me off at college.

It is a bit surreal to recall those two great-grandmothers. Their lives began in an era that was driven by horse and hard manual labor. They lived through an economic depression which barely touched them in rural Arkansas. Their lives were hard anyway. They farmed, growing most of what they ate, selling the remainder. They lost husbands and children. Their friends often buried babies.

I remember being at the hospital when Mildred died. I remember the tears shining on Daddy’s cheeks.

I remember that I was fifteen when Sarah died. She had so looked forward to my sixteenth birthday. I was to drive and we were to set out on adventures yet to be determined. My mother was distraught when Sarah left us.

I don’t have a clue as to why this particular topic surfaced for a Monday subject. If this keeps up we may have a standing title, Maudlin Mondays!

That won’t be necessary.

I’ll do my best to find my funny pants before it gets that bad.

Happy Tuesday. Still my pleasure.

A Memorable Moment, Art, Respect

19 Oct

Years ago as a college student majoring in theatre, I was fortunate enough spend a couple of Thanksgiving holidays on New York theatre tours. Led by our technical director, friends and colleagues gathered at the tiny airport in Fayetteville to puddle jump to Fort Smith. Wal-Mart was just getting off to a moderate start at that time, so there wasn’t an airport in northwest Arkansas that would accommodate a large plane.  So we jumped to Fort Smith for the flight to New York.

Most of us were anticipating a first look at the stuff of our dreams. We went to walk on Broadway, see the shows, take in the sights, and experience the energy of the city and the talents of hundreds.

It was some heady shi*.  And it was all I had dreamed.

The highlight of that first trip in 1974 was the Broadway musical ‘Candide’. Based on Voltaire’s novella, the operetta had been performed in various incarnations since the late 50’s. The scenery was the entire theatre arranged with several platform stages and 3 or 4 orchestra pits. Things dropped, rose, appeared, disappeared, or remained static as the show unfolded. The action took place all over the stages, in the audience, the aisles. The patrons sat in bleachers and on stools. My feet dangled into an orchestra pit. The music, the comedy was such grand entertainment. The show continuously moved.  I was charmed and ecstatic to be a part of this performance, even as a member of the audience.

As Candide and Cunegonde approached the consummation of their relationship, Candide began to remove his clothes, the actor paused, looked to a member of the audience, said ‘here, hold this’ and dropped his shirt on the unsuspecting new member of the cast.

The effort of writers, musicians, cast, crew, directors, producers and all the myriad numbers of talented people who create the content we enjoy on the stage, screen, the written page, the canvas, in bronze, concrete, fabric, or any other medium is an awesome thing. That energy is a beautiful thing. It deserves tremendous respect.

And while the ushers ushered, the crew crewed, the actors acted and sang, and the musicians played that night in New York so many years ago, the trombonist, while at rest, winked at me and used his slide to play with my feet.

You know what they say about a trombonist’ slide? Neither do I, but it was one helluva good time.

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