Category Archives: Art

Birthday Art

Last week was my birthday.  I learned a long time ago that I don’t want to wait around to have friends/family bring celebration to me; if I want a particular celebration, then I just make it happen.  I came to this revelation after wasband #1 and I split up.  It was Valentine’s Day and I was feeling sorry for myself so I went out and bought myself a small bouquet of flowers, some heart-shaped balloons and a couple of pink frosted donuts with sprinkles (one for me, one for the dog).  I had also scored a big box from the new tv of the neighbors (Katy Scarlett loved to sit in big boxes and then eventually destroy them) which I decorated with red and pink markers for her.  Turned out to be a great day and a great lesson for myself.

This is not to say that I don’t love what friends/family do for me – I think when folks think of me it means MORE to me because I am self-sufficient in the “celebrate me” arena.  This year I had an especially nice surprise.  While I was out walking the dog that morning, the little girls next door (Margot and Matilda) came over and did chalk decorations all over my sidewalk.  I’m sure they had help from their parents, but the rainbows and butterflies were clearly Margot’s inspiration.  It was so touching – it’s still there a week later although getting a little faded from folks walking on it and the couple of rain sprinkles.  It was the best birthday wish I got this year!

Do you have a favorite neighbor?  Or a not-favorite one?

RIP Grant Imahara

I saw the sad news that Grant Imahara has passed away, from a brain aneurysm at the age of 49.  Although he worked for 9 years behind the scenes and Lucasfilms and Industrial Light & Magic as well as winning the third season of Battlebots, he is probably best known as one of the co-hosts of Mythbusters from 2005 to 2014.

I started watching Mythbusters right about the time that Grant started and I was hooked from the beginning.  This was about the time in my life when I was really starting to embrace my interest in science or as my baby sister says “my nerd stuff”.  As I know I’ve talked about here before, I spent decades of my life trying to mask my intelligence.  Even though I was the “smart one” in the family and did well in school, I never highlighted any accomplishments and purposely didn’t gravitate to things that were too nerdy.

But by the time Grant came into my life I had begun to realize that being interested in science, being a big reader, watching shows like Mythbusters was nothing to be ashamed about.  I loved the show and I was always amazed at Grant’s ability to whip up a robot whenever it was needed, from a baseball pitching machine to a robot that could fling a metal rimmed hat at a statue (a la James Bond).

So I will always be grateful to Grant for helping me along a path that has made me happier – I (and the rest of the world) will miss him.

Anything around your house you would like a have a robot do?

Retro – Again

It seems a truism that “what goes around, comes around” but I hadn’t given it much thought until about a month ago when YA announced that she wanted to do tie-dye.  She normally gives me a lot of grief when I wear one of the two tie-dyed shirts that I still own, so it was a surprise that apparently tie-dye is cool again.  Only pastel now.

The last time we did die-dye was several years ago and in the process we had used up several colors, so new ingredients were needed.  I got onto the website of Dharma Trading Company (a good source for a lot of fabric crafts) and let her choose the colors she wanted.  It took almost 3 weeks for the supplies to arrive since their warehouse is only staffed by 2 people at a time right now and YA probably asked me every other day when the order would arrive.   I ordered a “blank” sundress for myself, YA got two t-shirts and a sweatshirt for herself.

Despite the fact that I’ve done tie-dye for years, YA didn’t trust my knowledge, rolling her eyes and shaking her head.  I sent her off to do her own research and “voila”… all my advice was corroborated, including making sure you wash your fabric to get the sizing out before you start dyeing.  She REALLY didn’t believe me when I had said this was necessary.  Thank you, Google.

She got the dining room table all set up while I mixed the dyes in the individual squirt bottles. Then we tied our projects.  I went for a traditional sunburst pattern while YA only wanted the general “scrunch” look (no particular pattern in the end).  I also wanted to use bright colors so I did my dyeing first and then YA headed back to the kitchen to water down the colors she wanted so her pieces would be pastel.  Lots of color swatches on paper towels before she got what she wanted.

It was hard for her to wait 24 hours while the dye was setting and she was very concerned that if we did the final wash (in the washing machine) the color from my dress would bleed onto her shirts.  Once again, thank you, Google.  They turned out great – I’ve seen her wear both of her t-shirts already and I assume I’ll see the sweatshirt again when the weather cools down.  Unless tie-dye goes out of style before that!

What would you like to see come around again?

Here’s Your Hat – What’s Your Hurry?

My local library has begun to accept books back – there is a big bin outside the door during their open hours.  The books will be “quarantined” – until they are out of quarantine, they will stay on my account.

When I called the library last week to check out one of my curbside holds, I asked about the returns and the librarian told me to please not bring all 28 at one time.  So I’ve been stopping by and dropping off 4 or 5 at a time every day.

Yesterday on my way home, I passed a mother and daughter who were clearly headed toward the curbside check-out.  The little girl looked to be about five, maybe six.  At first glance I was thinking “why does this kid have on a hat in this hot weather?”  Then as they got closer, I saw that it was a unicorn hat.  “Aaaah…. never too hot for a unicorn hat!”

Forget the weather, forget hat hair.  What kind of hat will you wear today?

Go Fourth!

With 4th of July events cancelled all over the country and the current political unrest and unhappiness, it seems hard to celebrate Independence Day with enthusiasm.

For many years, Child and I took part in two parades every 4th – the Tangletown Parade and the Richfield Parade.  The Tangletown is a homegrown parade in which kids dress up their bikes and dogs sport their best red, white and blue bandannas in order to follow a firetruck through the neighborhood, followed by a big party at Fuller Park with games, music, face painting and a big picnic.  The last few years I’ve gone up to the high school parking lot where the parade starts to see everybody in their finery and then I head home.  Then later, YA and I go down to Richfield to watch their more traditional, candy-throwing parade.  I got hooked on this parade when YA was in gymnastics and her team was part of the parade line-up.

No parades this year.  Richfield unilaterally cancelled all the 4th of July stuff and Tangletown cancelled the parade and party, but is doing a decoration contest and neighborhood scavenger hunt.  I hadn’t though about decorating (besides putting out all my flags) because I didn’t really want to put any money into it but then something I saw yesterday changed my mind.  In walking Guinevere, we found a house up on the water tower hill that had outdone themselves with their chalk decorations.  Their entire driveway was filled with a huge chalked American flag and then the sidewalk all long their property was covered in fireworks.  Such a low-cost and low-tech way to decorate – I think I’ll get my chalks out in the morning (before it gets too hot).  And I might even have enough Independence Day spirit left over to do the scavenger hunt with Guinevere on our morning walk!

How have you traditionally celebrated the 4th?  What’s different this year?

To Baader-Meinhof or Not to Baader-Meinhof? That is the Question.

Photo Credit:  Hulki Okan Tabak

A few weeks ago a friend came over for some socially distant muffins and tea.  We had a wonderful time chatting in the backyard about all kinds of things.  At one point she recommended a series called “Walking Through History”.  The host walks around Britain and archaeologists and historians pop out of the surrounding country add information as he walks.  Sounded like my cup of tea so I searched it out.

I didn’t actually binge watch it but over the next couple of weeks, I had seen them all.  The host, Tony Robinson, seemed vaguely familiar, so I googled him.  Turns out he is SIR Tony Robinson, an English actor and host and he seemed familiar because he played Baldrick in the “Black Adder” show a gazillion years ago.  I read through his entire Wikipedia page and found that he has had a fascinating career of acting, presenting and writing and has made charity part of his life’s work.

I’m waiting for a DVD of Black Adder from the library (to re-watch) and have checked out Bad Kids: Naughtiest Children in History .  It was very funny – a kids’ book about various ways in which kids are raised (and punished) in various cultures throughout history.  There are quite a few children’s books about history in his bibliography.

Another thing that caught my eye in his biography was a television show that ran for 20 seasons on BBC called “Time Team”.  A group of archaeologists and historians (and Tony Robison as presenter) go someplace in Britain (often invited by a town or home owner) to look into the history of some ruin – they give themselves 3-5 days and then present their findings.  It took me a bit to find it, but eventually I did – on demand cable – all 20 seasons.  It’s fascinating.  I’ve watched 2 seasons so far.

So imagine my surprise when this morning, while reading In the Woods, a murder mystery that takes place in an archaeological site by Tana French (which has been on my shelf for a few years and I’m just getting to), I found this:

“How’s the dig going?” Cassie asked sociably.
One corner of Mark’s mouth twisted sourly.  “How do you think?  We’ve got four weeks to do a year’s work.  We’ve been using bulldozers.”
“And that’s not a good thing?” I said.
He glared at me.  “Do we look like the f***ing Time Team?”

French then adds a couple of sentences explaining Time Team for those readers who don’t happen to be binge watching it this week.

I’m sure a mathematician can probably explain the odds of this occurrence, but I’m thinking there just has to be magic involved.  And maybe dragons.

For what kind of show would you like to be a presenter?

Irises!

It’s been cold the last couple of mornings.  The sweatpants are back and for those morning walks with Guinevere, I’ve even reverted to adding a sweatshirt to my sweatpants/t-shirt ensemble.  And socks – quelle sacrilege!  It’s almost like we need a word for this transition season… not quite summer yet, although it should be.  Maybe “sprummer”?

Anyway, even if it’s cold, the walks are glorious because my favorite flower is starting to bloom, not just in my yard but all over the neighborhood – the irises have arrived!  I’m not sure why the iris is my favorite.  My mom wasn’t an iris fan, but I do remember going to the Missouri Botanical Garden growing up and seeing bed after bed of glorious blooms.  In my yard I have pretty much every color, including an orange variety called “orange crush”, although not all the colors have bloomed yet.

This morning looking at a garden full of pale yellow beauties in a yard around the corner, it made me think of a pretty haiku I found a few years ago by a Japanese woman who lived in the 17th century:

Waking from my dream:

what a color

were the iris flowers

Shushiki

Do you have a favorite flower?  Or a favorite haiku about a flower?

Front Yard Serenade

My nextdoor neighbor, Brian, is a school music teach and band director.  The last time he saw his “kids” was when they said good bye for spring break.  Then schools began to close, so they have had online classes but as you can imagine, band class isn’t quite the same and since Brian is changing schools this fall, he felt a little bad about not seeing them again.

The kids apparently felt badly as well because on Monday, the brass section, along with a drummer, showed up in the front yard and serenaded him for about 15 minutes.  It was a big surprise to Brian; the kids had set it up with his wife, Sarah.  By the end of the performance, quite an audience has gathered, on both sides of Lyndale. 

I know that other entertainments and festivities are happening in people’s front yards.  A young friend of mine had a drive-by college graduation and Tuey, a juggler that I like, has also been doing his show on front sidewalks during shelter-in-place.

I think this is a great way to celebrate even while social distancing.

What front yard entertainment would you like?

Volunteering in Place

I figured that being furloughed would be like practicing for retirement.  So it’s been surprising to me that I’m struggling.  I’m not as happy as I thought I would be and some days it’s felt like time is stretching out endlessly in front of me.   Last weekend I sat myself down (well, figuratively) to try to grapple with my problem.

It didn’t take long to realize that furlough during shelter-in-place is NOT like practicing for retirement, so my expectations were out of whack.  Although I had never actually planned my retirement, I did have some things that I wanted to do when I had the time – volunteering was big on the list.  I want to volunteer at my neighborhood library, the Crisis Nursery, Feed My Starving Children, maybe the Arboretum or even one of the zoos (although I expect there is a pretty good waiting line for these spots).  I know I wouldn’t be a good Humane Society volunteer; not sure I could pass the training and even if I did, I’d probably end up with six cats and seven dogs by the end of my first week.  For now, volunteering in person is off my table.

After some thought, I decided that I COULD contribute by making and sending cards.  Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve seen few card-making opportunities online in which organizations are soliciting card donations to send to sick kids, folks in essential services jobs and medical personnel and decided that this is right up my alley; I have a passion for it AND I don’t need to leave the house for supplies – I can easily make cards for months without having to get anything (yeah, I know, kinda sad)!

I’ve sent off two packets so far for essential services folks and also a stack of medical personnel cards as well (see photo).   When it rains next, I’ll spend a day doing cards for kids.  It’s not exactly a new lease on life but I find that I’m feeling a little better this week.  I also decided to make garden thank you cards – for letting people know that I appreciate their gardens on my daily walk.  And, of course, if anybody needs any cards – I’m your gal – just let me know!

Do you have any favorite volunteer gigs when we’re not sheltering in place? 

Sewing in Place

Last month I informed YA that she couldn’t go with me to Cub if she didn’t wear a mask.  At that point I had been making due with bandanas and hair binders, but that apparently offended her sense of style.  She eventually decided that my Hawaiian-designed bandana would be OK.

After we got home from the store she informed me that she was going to MAKE her own mask.  When she came into my studio to get the sewing machine, I was a little surprised, since I knew full well that she didn’t know how to use it.  As she got the machine onto her desk, I realized exactly how much she didn’t know when she called me to show her how to turn it on.  I was expecting to spend the next hour explaining everything to her, but she preferred YouTube to my homeschooling.   There were only a couple of times that she needed me to fix the bobbins and then the tension.  She used an old t-shirt for the mask material and then scavenged the elastic from a pair of old gym shorts.  Here is the result (which she did actually wear once):

But it turns out that she likes knowing how to use the sewing machine.  Since then she has repaired a pair of pants and she made a “doughnut” for Nimue so the kitty wouldn’t have to have a stiff plastic cone after the surgery.  Although the doughnut looks good, Nimue figured out how to get her head loose in about 15 seconds. Now there is talk about other sewing projects this summer!

Have you ever sewn anything for yourself?