Category Archives: Art

At Her Wit’s End

I was “that” mom – the one who threw the overdone birthday parties for her kid.  Themes, arts & crafts, fun food, take-home bags.  My theory was that I would only have a short window for this kind of silliness because as soon as Child hit 11 or 12, she wouldn’t stand for it any longer.  I was correct.

Fast forward all these years and I’m still having trouble letting it go.  YA hits 26 tomorrow and maybe it’s the pandemic and shelter-in-place talking, but I clearly want to celebrate more than she does.  After quite a bit of prompting I got her to “allow” Peanut Butter Rice Krispy Bars; I got sprinkles and a little decorating icing to pipe “Happy Birthday” on the bars once they’re done.  I also told her I would order take-out – she hasn’t decided what she would like.  I have a gift all wrapped up and I couldn’t help myself; I made a nice banner (photo above) to hang in the dining room archway along with two balloons (a big “2” and “6”).  I’m pretty sure this is all she’ll stand for but I’m looking forward to it.

Are you trying anybody’s patience these days?

Puzzle Math

YA and I decided in November that maybe we should take up jigsaw puzzles now that the weather had turned cold.  In the past, jigsaw puzzles have driven us both a little crazy; we have to worry about the kitty messing with the puzzles, neither of us had a lot of extra time and we both can get a little obsessive occasionally.  But thanks to sheltering-in-place and neither of us working, we don’t have the same objections that we used to (except the kitty).  We did a Ukrainian egg puzzle in November – took us about 5 hours, both of us working on it the whole time.

Right after Solstice, we pulled a puzzle down from the attic.  It’s a 1000 piecer and it’s a doozy – no straight edges and lots of little pictures within the main puzzle.  We’ve been working on it for a couple of weeks and we still haven’t been able to identify all of the outer edges.  YA is particularly good at seeing the design of a particular piece and figuring out where it goes.  I’m better at identifying pieces by shape.  But this puzzle is currently getting the better of both of us although we haven’t given up yet.

In our prior life, having a puzzle on the table in the living room this long would have made me crazy and I am having to fight this feeling.  So much so that I decided to try to figure out how long it will take us to finish this one.  We’ve done about 350 pieces so far.  I’m assuming the tipping point (the point at which you’ve done enough of the puzzle that the pieces start going together more easily) will be between 650 and 700 pieces.  Right now we are going pathetically slowly; we averaging about 10 pieces a day (if we both spend a bit of time on it – it’s really hard to keep at it at this point).  So, taking into account the eventual tipping point and days when we ignore it entirely, I figure it will take us another 45-50 days to finish.  It could be spring before we are done with this thing!

When was the last time you had to do math?  In your head, on paper or using a calculator (or Excel)?

A New Year

January 1 is a big day around here, although not for the reasons you would think.  I am a calendar person – I love calendars.  Right now I have my daytimer calendar (which lives in my bedroom), a handmade 6 x 6 calendar (also in my bedroom), a Cobblestone Way calendar on the fridge, a Lighthouse for the Blind calendar in the breakfast room, a birthdays only calendar in my studio and the new addition, a Sandra Boynton calendar (also in my studio).   I do keep a few things on my phone’s calendar and when I was still working in my cubicle, I had a calendar there, not to mention my Outlook calendar on my computer. 

Most of these calendars are just for show.  Probably the most-used calendar is the birthdays only calendar in my studio.  It has one page per month with all the dates, but no weekly/day layout so it doesn’t have to get changed out every year.  I use it every month when I’m getting the birthday cards ready to go.  The Sandra Boynton calendar is just for fun – January 4 is listed as World Hypnotism Day. 

Not sure where along the line I got hooked on calendars; I suppose it’s been ramping up as the years go by.  I don’t think it makes me any more organized, just a personality quirk I guess. 

But it does make the first day of each month exciting because that’s when I change out the calendars.  And January 1 means not just moving to the next page but moving to a whole new calendar (except the birthday one, of course).  Tell me that this doesn’t make me a sad and pathetic being.

What have you got on YOUR calendar this month? 

The Yellow Box

Several years back, Teenager wanted to take a jewelry class at a local bead shop.  We took the class together and it was fun.  Part of the cost of the class included a couple of tools and, of course, we purchased some more items afterwards.  For a couple of years, I did the occasional bracelet or earrings; the craft didn’t catch on with Teenager.  I put the tools and assorted wires and beads into a yellow tool box and eventually drifted away from beading.

In May, I found a jewelry kit on sale online from a company I knew; since I was officially looking for ways to fill time during shelter-in-place, I purchased it.  Most of the items I needed were in the kit but I did need one of my tools to adjust the bracelet size.  The yellow tool box was not in the first place I looked.  Or the second.  Or the third.  I spent quite a bit of time over the course of a week, looking and re-looking in what seemed like natural spots and then the unnatural spots.  I’ve done a lot of tossing/donating the last couple of years but I was SURE I would remember if I had gotten rid of the toolbox.  And I couldn’t imagine that I would do that either.  Eventually I gave up, assuming I’d gotten rid of the box, and re-purchased the tool I needed.

Last week, I decided to do some organizing and cleaning in the attic; when I had brought the holiday decorations down, I had promised myself I would do this before the boxes when back up.  YA came up to help me and we ended up really clearing out some stuff and generating a large bag of trash.  At one point I was putting a plastic bin away and realized I didn’t know what was in it.  You know where this is going, right?  As we dug through the box, we found items from last year’s stocking gifts (which I had vaguely missed) and…. drum roll please… the yellow tool box!  Because it was inside the bin, when I had searched the attic in May, I hadn’t seen it.

I can envision how everything else in that plastic bin ended up there, based on my normal habits, but I have no clue how that yellow box ended up there.  Nothing in the box was irreplaceable but I’m happy to have found it, if only because it means I’m not crazy!

Anything you’re still looking for?  Do you have trouble finding things you’ve “put away for safe keeping”?

Lighting the Night

I’ve always loved lights at this time of year.  When I was a kid, my family always drove around during this time of year and admired other folks holidays lights.  (We used to leave little notes of thanks in people’s mailboxes if we really enjoyed their lights.)

For a few years Child and I always visited the Minnesota Zoo in December for their “Bright Lights Winter Nights” festivities.  All around the zoo lake and paths close to the zoo buildings, there were lots of lights, mostly in shapes of various zoo animals.  Walking around seeing the lights on crisp winter nights was almost magical.  Inside there were usually crafts and hot chocolate.  You didn’t actually see any real animals, but it was still a great holiday treat.  After four years, they quit doing it – when I called the zoo they said that it cost more to put on the show than they brought in.  Sigh.

When I got the email in November about a light show at the zoo, I knew not to get my hopes up… there was no way they were going to replicate Bright Lights during pandemic.  The light show is called “Nature Illuminated” and is a drive-through event running through mid-January. 

YA and I are zoo members, so we were able to sign up for the first week of members-only viewing.  There was a per-car charge that I might normally balk at, but since there weren’t any other holidays festivities on the horizon, I coughed it up.  We got to the zoo at the appointed time and got our car in line.  There was an audio tour available online – luckily I had YA to get that going.  The tour took about 25 minutes with lots of over-sized inflatables, fabulously lit up.  The audio was pretty good too, although there were a couple of “commercials” that I could have done without – especially since we’re already members.  I thought it was interesting that not all the illuminated animals are represented at the Minnesota Zoo – but I’m not complaining about seeing polar bears!

It was nice – not nearly as much fun as I remember the old light show, but without any other concerts, parties or gatherings this 2020 holidays season, it will probably be the most fun activity we do outside the house!!

What have you adapted for the holidays this year?


I received a very funny email from Talbots, the clothing company earlier this week.  I don’t buy new clothes very often.  I need to look somewhat professional (this is western ND, after all, so nothing too fancy)  but I need to be comfortable.  Working with small children makes heels and power suits impractical.  I have settled on sweaters and corduroy pants.  I also really don’t like clothes shopping, and the nearest  fairly nice stores are 300 miles away in Fargo, This means I catalogue shop.

Talbots  has always been a favorite of mine, and their clothes fit me. They also last, so I only have to get new clothes every couple of years.  I bought a few things from Talbots  this fall, and the email this week asked  if I would be on an advisory board to help them stay current with the needs of their customers.  I declined.  I don’t think I am the most suitable person for this, since I have no interest in fashion, and I  don’t  have time, but I was enormously amused.

I imagine there are very few people in my State west of the Missouri River who buy clothes from Talbots. I can imagine  a marketing person desperate to increase sales looking at the data and saying “What’s up with her? Let’s see why she buys our product line. Maybe we have a new market to focus on.”

When have you been unsuitable for a task or out of your league? What is your sense of fashion?

Goat Repair

The handsome fellow in the header photo is a Julbukk. We have had him for many years, and I used to leave him and two smaller goat companions  and an Austrian straw girl displayed  in the living room year round.  He used to have a lovely beard made of  wheat berries.

About four years ago we adopted  a grey tabby cat named Luna. She was very, very interested in all the goats, but especially with the biggest one. She loved wrestling all the straw figures to the floor.  She also ate all the wheat berries off the big one’s beard, leaving him the emasculated, beardless goat you see today.

We trimmed the Christmas tree this weekend, and I noticed  this straw ornament and I got an idea.

I thought that this would make a lovely goat beard, and if I took it apart and carefully inserted the sprigs under his chin,  Mr. Julbukk could be restored to his former glory.  I will wait until after Christmas,  since I need the straw ornament to fill in a bare spot on the tree.

What good ideas have you come up with lately?  Made any good repairs?  Do you have any julbukken?


Battle of the Lights

Apparently it’s not just about how I like the lights nestled into the tree.

After I put the lights on, I set them to slow fade on/slow fade off.  Not sure why I love that particular setting, but it’s very restful for me.  YA informed me that just plain lights on is better.  When I came down the next morning, the settings (on all three strands) were set to on.  No fading.  I set them back to fade.

Later that morning, I put on al the ornaments, including the crochet snowflakes and my favorite – the red wood bead strands.  I love them lopped on.  When YA came down, she informed me that they are “crooked” and proceeded to straighten them.  After she went back upstairs, I put them back the way I like them.

I bet you can tell where this is going.  Yep, a passive-aggressive battle over how the tree is decorated.  It’s been five days and it looks likes she has given up on the snowflakes and red bead garlands.  However when I came down this morning, the lights were changed to full on.  I might have given in on the flakes and garlands, but I’m not sure I can give in on the light settings.  Sigh.

Have you ever given in on something for the greater good?

How Do They Do That?

I have mentioned before that we order a fresh Christmas tree every year from Williams-Sonoma.  I consider it a Christmas present to ourselves. It is always a Frasier Fir from North Carolina,  and it is delivered by UPS.  Ben, in the past,  has wondered how this is possible. Well, the tree arrived yesterday and I will now show the Baboons how this works.

I ordered an 8-9 foot tree this year. Last year’s tree was only 7 feet tall, and it wasn’t big enough in height or diameter for the ornaments I like to hang every year.  The tree arrived Tuesday in this box:

At about 12:00 Wednesday, Husband opened it up with a box cutter. The tree wasn’t tied or secured in any way in the box.

The tree always has a really straight trunk, but some trimming is usually necessary.  We took off about 5 inches at the bottom.

Then,  Husband dragged it into the living room:

I had to cut off about 4 inches from the very top of the tree, or else it would scrape the ceiling. By 12:30, we put it in the tree stand, and we waited for it to relax.  Our Tortie tried to help.

By 3:00 pm, it started to look pretty good.

We will let it relax for the next day or so, turn it so that its best side is facing forward, and decorate it on Friday.

How do you think they got  that tree into that box? Tell about some interesting experiences you have had with shippers and boxes. What has amazed you lately?

RIP Sir Sean

I knew it was coming but seeing the headline that Sean Connery had passed away still hit me hard.  I was only three when he played his first leading movie role in Darby O’Gill and the Little People but I remember seeing it in theatres when I was about eight and I was stricken.  I’m pretty sure I’ve seen everything he has starred in, good and bad.  I even watched Zardoz on purpose because he starred in it. 

As you can imagine, he was THE James Bond as far as I’m concerned.  I do like most of the others but Sean will always embody Bond for me.  I know the movies are seriously outdated at this point (well, what isn’t these days?) but I will still watch one if I come across it while channel surfing.

In fact, I’ve just gotten a notification that Tarzan’s Greatest Adventure in DVD has arrived for me at my library.  I’m not sure if I’ve seen it before, but I’ll be especially watching for Sean Connery playing one of the bad guys.  Then hopefully I can find a few more of his supportive roles in the next few weeks.

Any Sean Connery movies you’ve seen?  Anybody else who you’ve seen (or read) all their work?