Friday, May 31, 2013

55 Things About Me (Again, But With a Few Updates)

My first library work space

Hey, let's talk about me. Why not?  It's my blog and I've been writing it since 2007. I've forgotten to celebrate all the milestones, such as the 5th anniversary (long ago) and the 1000th post (ditto, this will make 1,082 posts, imagine that), so I hope you won't mind a little bit of repetition.

I first published this list back in 2008. I figure that whoever is reading these days might have forgotten it by now. I certainly did! Here we go.


Please just skip this post and move along. If you read this list you'll just embarrass both of us.

Still here? I'm warning you, there will be nudity. You won't like it, and neither will I.

1. I have plumbing issues. I’m still afraid of the bathtub drain, and I secretly believe that one day a snake will swim up out of my toilet.

2. My father came from Worcester, Massachusetts and only completed 8th grade, making education for us kids of prime importance to him. We disappointed him a lot but he still loved us.

3. My mother came from a farm family with thirteen children and she didn’t want to talk about it.

4. My parents moved me from my birth state of Maine to California when I was three months old, thus making me officially rootless. I have lived in four other states and one Canadian province. I keep an atlas handy at all times and am always planning my next move.

5. I was born near the shore of the Atlantic Ocean and grew up in San Francisco, one block from the Pacific Ocean.

6. I learned many of the skills I needed from books.

7. I can make a blanket from the sheep onwards.

8. I used to have milk goats and that one goat, Lily, and I have been known to make a big ruckus out in the barn. She always waited until the pail was full before delicately placing her hoof right into it.

9. I believed that book about raising backyard goats and really thought they would weed around the fruit trees for me.

10. During the same period of my life, I once turned the geese into the strawberry patch because another homesteading book said they would clean the weeds between the rows of succulent strawberries.

11. I know to never turn your back on a gander and I didn’t have to learn that out of a book.

12. I once sheared a sheep by hand with manual clippers, but only the back half. My hand got tired. She looked like a lion.

13. I can give a sheep a shot, but it makes me nervous. It makes the sheep nervous, too.

14. I once owned a weaving store and taught spinning and weaving.

15. I think chickens are fascinating and I can sit and watch them for hours. Their behavior is a metaphor for something that I am still trying to figure out.

16. I once startled a skunk when reaching into a nest to get the eggs out.

17. I helped deliver a lamb in a dark barn while reading the directions, with a flashlight, from yet another homesteading book.

18. In my first garden I planted several rows of corn (reading the directions as I went along) with my little bantam chickens for company. While I was busy looking at the book, the banties were scratching up and eating the corn--another lesson learned about companion animals.

19. One of my favorite things to do (I have a quiet life) is to consider the alternate words offered by Spell Check. For instance, it wanted me to change the word “banties” in the previous sentence into “panties.” Imagine.

20. I honestly believe that I am psychic, but only with my sister, and only some of the time.

21. I used to live in a house that had four fireplaces and was built in 1770. All of the people who had lived there over the centuries had left some little part of themselves behind. There was always lots of company.

22. I hated swimming for years because I was sent to lessons at a vast outdoor unheated salt water pool in cold and foggy San Francisco. The thought of swimming made my teeth chatter.

23. I kind of like swimming now, but only where I can see my feet.

24. I went back to school to finish my bachelor’s degree when I was in my fifties. My father would have been proud, but it was too late to tell him.

25. I got my master’s degree when I was 56.

26. I’ve always had a secret soundtrack running in my head, describing my adventures as I was having them. (She leaned a little closer to the bathtub drain. What was that slithering sound? Something was coming…)

27. My first library job was driving a bookmobile.

28. My last library job was teaching information technology to reluctant 8th graders.

29. While skiing long ago in a headlong and out of control fashion down a bunny hill, I made a promise to myself to give up extreme sports.

30. I have a sister-in-law who once jumped out of an airplane. That’s extreme enough for me.

31. I once stepped on a snake while running barefoot down a California sidewalk.

32. I have never been bitten by a snake, but expect to be momentarily.

33. I have six dogs. I don’t even like dogs. I might be mistaken, but I thought I was a cat person.

34. Just in case, I have three cats.

35. In an unrelated development, I have had several husbands as well, nice men all. We are still in touch.

36. Beez and I have been married for 32 years and have forgotten to celebrate most of our anniversaries. We remembered the 25th because we were in Yellowstone with many of our kids and grandkids and they reminded us. The 30th was lovely because we went to France.

37. My children’s names are in alphabetical order, but not because of any planned cuteness. The blended family just turned out that way.

38. I only like to watch non-scary movies. Years ago I decided that life was scary enough.

39. I learned to knit from a book.

40. I have made 110 sweaters for Knit for Kids.

One of the 110 sweaters

41. I learned how to bake bread from a book. It has taken me years of practice to make a nice light loaf. Ask my first husband, who used to say that one of his arms was longer than the other from carrying the sandwiches I packed for his lunch.

42. I once lived in Canada.

43. When I lived in British Columbia, my California friends believed that I was somewhere in South America. Others, who understood that I had moved somewhere up north, believed that I was living in an igloo.

44. Now that I live in New Mexico, some of my eastern friends believe I am in a foreign country where only Spanish is spoken.

45. I used to lie on a hill all night and take photographic time exposures of meteor showers.

46. A group of people entrusted me to develop their meteor shower photos. I switched the hypo and developer solutions by accident and ended up with clear strips of film.

47. I had a friend who traveled to Europe and asked me to water his plants while he was gone. I used the jug of photo chemicals that was next to the jug of plant watering solution by mistake.

48. I learned to make pies out of a book when I was 11. Once, when my parents were out, I baked ten apple pies for the freezer.

49. Another time when my parents were out, I ate too many home baked cinnamon buns and threw up. Good thing no one had thought of eating disorders back then.

50. I learned to make replacement cinnamon buns from a book.

51. Having political discussions gives me a stomach ache, not unlike the one I got from the cinnamon buns. I know what I believe and can’t understand that everyone else hasn’t gotten with the program. My program.

52. Long ago, I was sleeping naked when my apartment caught on fire. That was bad, but not as frightening for everyone concerned as it would be if it happened now.

53. My first car was a 1951 Chevrolet that my father sold to me for $200.

54. I always wanted to be a cowgirl, until I actually rode a horse and found out how high up I was. Another extreme sport given up.

55. I love blogging, because my family has already heard all of this stuff.

If you are down here at the end of the list, you might as well know that this meme was inspired by Judy's list of 100 things about herself. I was excited to read there that she doesn't take meds and that there are dollar sundaes at McDonald's. I do take meds (though not the really good ones) and that's probably why my list only goes up to 55.

Monday, May 13, 2013

May Morning in the Garden

"Be like a flower and turn your face to the sun."
- Kahlil Gibran

“Look at everything as though you were seeing it either for the first or last time. 
Then your time on earth will be filled with glory.” 
- Betty Smith, Joy in the Morning

"The world's favorite season is the spring. 
All things seem possible in May."
-  Edwin Way Teale

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

I Can Mat (Almost), Can You?

Not too long ago I attended a camera club session on how to mat photos. The process was fairly straightforward: Measure the photo or picture, measure the size of the frame, cut the mat to fit the frame, then cut the opening to frame the centered photo. The instructors told me they'd only have to show me once, and I'd have the knowledge of the process forever. (Note: I now believe they were all physicists with extremely nimble brains and spatial memory/understanding that gave them the ability to twirl imagined objects inside their heads; but I digress).

Simple enough: Buy a mat cutter, get some mats, and start framing all the stuff I have stockpiled in the guest room closet. I set up a charming workspace with a sunny view of my backyard chickens at play. I soon learned that my table wasn't big enough, my straightedges were all too short, and that I still suffer from the same old spatial disorganization that showed up in my early elementary school standardized tests.

It took me a good part of a day and a lot of really spectacular language to produce the framed work above. I ruined the other half of the mat by getting the measurements wrong more times than I'd like to admit. Who knew that sweet little quilted measuring tape from Etsy was so, well, inaccurate--at least in my hands and for this purpose. You see, the mat curved when dangling over the edge of the inadequate (but really nicely refinished) antique table, making for wildly varying measurements. I figure that this is something those physicists know all about--curved planes being a different length from straight ones, or something like that. I measured twice and three times, indeed, with all sorts of results.

With the last piece of nearly-correct sized mat available, I then aligned the angled cutter in the wrong direction for the correct bevel of the interior mat cut, because I was cutting from the back side and couldn't rearrange the thing in my mind to make the angled cut correctly. I still used the mat, secret underneath bevel and all.

So, there you have it. A flawed piece, for sure, but I'm still pretty proud of it. The picture is the cover of a Tahitian-themed restaurant menu from Texas back in the 1940s or 1950s, which I bought at an estate sale for 50 cents. The frame was from a charity resale shop and cost $1.00. I brushed on some leftover semi-gloss paint in a nice shade of blue; unhappily, the desert wind was blowing hard that day, so the frame has a colorful but distressed finish. The mat was the most expensive part (as long as we don't discuss the cost of the mat cutter) at $7.99, because I assumed it was still 40% off at the hobby store and it wasn't.

And that's how I learned a little about how to mat and a lot about expressive language and the physics of space and time, all in one day.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

In the Garden This Morning

Just a couple of weeks ago, this was the garden scene from the front porch: I was happy for the flowers, but things were pretty sparse and the trees were still bare. 

With the arrival of Spring, our annual jungle-look flower garden starts taking shape out front. I wish you could have heard the morning birdsong as I took these photos. 

I love the early morning light. Even the spent pansy blossoms are glorious.

We are just at the end of pansy season; I planted these last November
and they have lasted all winter. The heat of April is getting to them now.

It's hard to get a shot of these brilliant cactus blooms: They are so much better in real life!

First blossoms on the Bertie Memorial Tree; a gift from Helen, this desert
bird of paradise was planted as a memorial to our dear Bertie Pierre

We are at the very beginning of hollyhock season; hundreds of buds
are waiting to open 

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Just One of Those Things

Here's a little Maurice Chevalier to get you in the mood for Paris:

Now, how many people do you know who get caught by the Google Street View camera car drinking wine at a sidewalk cafe in Paris? Check out my little family at the Bruschet Caffe when we visited last year. We saw the Google car go by and Ben even managed a little wave. 

Thanks to my boy Ben, who kept an eye on Google to see when we surfaced, and for grabbing this frame off the street view.

You can see the whole street scene and some other wine imbibers by going to Google Maps, searching for 20 Place Dauphine, Paris; and then clicking on "street view." It truly was just one of those things.