Monday, March 5, 2012

Blooms and Suits






"March is a tomboy with tousled hair, a mischievous smile, mud on her shoes and a laugh in her voice."
-  Hal Borland


                                 
                              What is it with Burpee and Lands End flooding my mailbox!


 Flowers, vegies and Swimsuits.  Aaaccck. They are trying to drive a person who already has Spring Fever insane!  We had a snowstorm this weekend and it's still 10 weeks till our last frost date!

I always tend to push that though, especially when we get a few teasing 50 degrees during the day and the sun is warm enough to heat up my bluejeans -- when it's out that is. There are a few hardy plants, like pansies and a few herbs that will laugh at the frost and let me play in the dirt.


Kids are never cold!
One of the pit falls of living so close to the lake, a mile and a  half as the crow flies inland from the shore, is the breeze coming off the cold water. It gives us clouds and a darn chilly wind in the Spring.  You can go 7 miles inland and the sun is shining brightly and it's 10 degrees warmer!  It's also a plus in the Summer though. When I drive towards the lake, down the hill the last mile towards home, I can sometimes watch the temperature outside my car drop by 10 degrees.  The lake breeze is cooling everything off.  We get the same with snow in the winter: go inland and the sun is shining, while back at the house it's a blizzard.

  I try to explain Lake Effect to Doug, who's from the east side of Michigan and has a different kind of lake related weather, to no avail.  He did get to experience one majorly awesome thunderstorm that rolled through a few years ago, though, even I hadn't experienced one as bad as this one was.


 We were out in the garage watching the heavy black purplish clouds roll in from the lake, that odd yellow green tint below them, and listening to the thunder out over the lake.  This storm came in so fast we didn't have time to get back to the house, nor would it have been wise to attempt to.  Sixty MPH winds with gusts to ninety, and we were surrounded by huge old maple trees.  Lightening and thunder was so loud it was both deafening and blinding.

The rain came in sideways sheets, all 9 inches of it in just under two hours.  It was fun -- until the electric went out -- which is cool except the sump pumps don't work.  Flooded inside and out!  The pool even overflowed.  I think we spent 2 days pumping out the basement.  You've got to love Michigan basements in the country -- keep nothing on the floor!

yes that's a frog on his shoulder
My daughter and her hubby and the G'kids were all over that evening and no one was going anywhere. Trees were down all the way to town and everywhere in town.  For the first time I can remember, the town was shut down, flooded and with no power for 2 days.  It took quite a bit longer than 2 days for the yard to dry up.  The Grandkids enjoyed the extra pond where there shouldn't have been one! Frogs even moved in.


Did I mention I love Mother Nature?  I do really.  Such awesome power. 

I have to add here that the reason he doubts my weather forecasting is because in the 2 years since he moved totally to this side of the state, neither winter or summer has been normal.  Nothing like I explained, anyway. Winters have been mild and hardly any snow and summers hot!

 When the calendar flips over to March, even though it's cloudy and chilly most days, there is always a day here and there to tease of what's to come.  That's what really kicks in the old Spring Fever and I long for bright blue skies and warm sunshine.

I'm happiest when I can go out the door early in the morning barefoot in cutoffs and a tank top.  I know that type of dress will be more than that 11 weeks away. I tell myself one more month and it will really be Spring.  I can start to plant the real garden and when that time comes the beach time isn't far away.

So the dratted catalog people are helping to help push a cabin fever afflicted soul a bit farther over the edge. We have all these big wall windows here in the condo, maybe I can turn them into a greenhouse. That  might work and I can often find a corner out of the wind in the sun and pretend it's not 40 degrees.  That works, too.  For another month or so, it will have to work!

Seems to me March would be the perfect time to head south, way far south, or maybe just anywhere where I'm not tempted to start ordering everything that looks like I'm going to need (want).  

I think the MAN heard me sigh way up in the loft.


Monday, February 27, 2012

I'm a Window Freak

I'm sitting here mesmerized by the blowing, swirling snow flakes outside.  Really, I feel like I'm sitting in a snow globe that someone shook up.  I'm watching the snow flurries, and the birds fighting for a position on the feeder, instead of writing.

 Well okay, I was watching.  But I should be writing.  So I decided I better do both.

It probably doesn't help that I have, and need to have, my main floor laptop where I can see out of a big wall window and a door that is mostly a window.  Even if I'm in the loft, I have my PC on my desk and my chair sitting as close to the edge as is humanly possible without falling off so I can look down and out the same windows.  Curtains?  What are they?  The sky lights in the loft are cool, but there's not much to see out of them unless there are cool clouds or a thunderstorm.

There's always something to see, besides dog, cat and grandkids nose and fingerprints on the windows themselves.  Mother Nature does provide in that area.  If it wasn't winter, I'd be out on the deck, patio, gardens or yard -- from the time it gets light outside until it's to dark to see.  Rain and warm?   Put up the umbrella or not, I haven't melted yet.

I wonder if there is a phobia name for this?  Whatever the reason, if I can't be outside, I want to see outside!

  Actually, maybe I can blame it on my Mom.  I think her favorite saying was, " Take it outside"!  That was usually said after I'd brought a critter of some kind in to play with.  Not that this was a difficult thing to do.  When you grow up on a Farm, there's always something to do.  There was the hayloft for rainy days, or nasty cold snowy days in the winter.  There's usually cats and kittens for a kid to play with up there.

But my favorite place was with my horse.  I grew up on one, riding with my Grampa before I could walk.  I'll never forget the day he and my Dad went to the livestock auction.  I always got to go along, but not this time.  It was one of my favorite places to go -- all the different animals to see and oh, the pens of horses to want every one.  I wanted my own.  I must have been 5 or so I'm told.  I'm not sure what excuse I was given for having to stay home, I just remember being heartbroken.

 I'm told I had to be coaxed to go out to the barn that night to see the calves they brought home.  I guess I was a bit stubborn even back then.  That was one day I shouldn't have been so ornery because waiting for me tied on the barn floor was my very own pony.  Talk about speechless -- probably one of the few times in my life.  I was totally in love with a shaggy little Welsh  pony with blue eyes.  I named it Tinker.

 It was mine, all mine!  I don't think I ever had to be told to "take it outside" again.  I would have moved into the barn if I could have.  If I wasn't in the barn I was out riding in the pasture.  It was a love that has lasted my whole life.

If you're not a horse person it's something one doesn't understand.  It's something that gets in your heart and soul and never leaves.  The freedom of riding like the wind by the seat of your pants with an animal that's a whole lot bigger than you.  The friendship and trust that's needed between man and beast every time you climb on.

Oh, there's work too.  You gotta love 'em to get out there and muck stalls, feed and water every morning and night, doesn't matter if your sick or it's nasty out, you're depended on.  But there's nothing like walking in the barn or out in the pasture early in the morning and being greeted by a nicker and a nuzzle and the smell of fresh hay, knowing they are waiting for you.

 My Mom taught me to be a lady, or she tried as best she could with a total tomboy.

My Dad taught me my first lesson in responsibility with that pony.  He also showed me, over the years, that though I was a girl I could do anything.  I often heard "If you have the will, you'll find a way"


My Dad died a year ago this day I write this.  He and his life lessons are dearly missed.


What does all this really have to do with windows?  I started out by day dreaming while looking out, but instead ended up with a reflection.  Windows do that too, but this was into my heart, and memories.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Illusions, Delusions or Mystical

                                       


                                                         Are they real?.....or not?



Illusion:  An illusion is a false mental image produced by misinterpretation of things that actually exist.

Delusion:  A delusion is a belief that, although false, is accepted by the mind as a truth.

Mystical:  That is mysterious in the true sense which is beyond human comprehension



Bright sparkling white spots, single or in groups, streaks of white that zip into view, hang there for a while, then disappear.

 Inside, outside, my girlfriend insists she sees Faires!

The problem is she's got me seeing them.  I think.

A few nights ago I crawled into bed, snuggled under the quilt.  It's Winter.  The windows are closed, a dark silent night with no wind rattling the trees.  In the house, except for the crackle of the wood stove and rustle of the cats settling down, it's dark and quiet as only a cold winter night can be.

  I closed my eyes and there they were: Faires?  Flitting, flashing and doing their dance.  Out of the corner of my eye there I see a flash of white, look up and see tiny, dancing spots of sparkling brightness on the ceiling in the corner flitting around.  Then, poof, they're gone.

 I opened my eyes -- still there -- closed them -- still there.

That did it. I sat up, opened my eyes -- gone -- shut my eyes gone.

But . . . will they be back?

My friend insists that if I believe I can see and catch moonbeams, which we called Angel Wings when we were kids, that she can see Faires and, if she sees them, then I can too.

After 30 some odd years of being friends, sitting out by the campfire long after everyone else has gone to bed, spending many a night out in the barn sitting in the hay together, waiting for one of our horses to foal, or riding miles the miles of trails in the ancient woods and dunes at all times of the day and night, I have to say we've seen and experienced some strange, wonderful, unbelievable and unexplainable things.  I'll save  those for another story.

 But Faires?  Well, why not!

Another night like that, and I think I may be a believer!



These are the two most active rooms!

This first -- yes I said first -- happening was about 8 years ago.  I was a new widow of a few months and  alone in the house except for my critters.



 Other strange and unusual things happened all the time in and around the property ever since I moved there in 1976.  The Faireshave appeared many more times. I've learned to watch the cat and dog. When they just look up and stare at the ceiling, you just might get a glimpse.


                                         



                                     

                                            Do you believe in the mystical and unknown?

Monday, February 13, 2012

So you want to be a writer, eh?



I asked my Hubby, who is the real writer and author in this house to help me out.  I always have all kinds of ideas swirling around in my brain, but actually pulling an idea together and having it make sense, well I was struggling. I have little pieces of notes jotted down from one  end of the house to the other,  but to sit down and get started pulling them together, seeing I've no SIT in my pants, was getting to be a problem for me.


I long ago did "Story" blogs on a site and they were lots of fun but totally different! There were also normal blogs and I did one or two, but stuck mostly to the Story ones.  I had some learning to do.


  After reading multiple posts on how to blog etc, etc. I needed to put all the information in some kind of simple for newbies type of format. This is what he came up with for me, and maybe it will help another confused soul out there who'd like to blog but is stuck.

I'm going to insert some shameless advertising here for his series of ebooks he's in the midst of writing. Hey, he stopped to help me so payback time.


 Check out The Walker Chronicles.

Doug says: Now that we'll all be staying close to home and out of the snow, maybe some of you would like to do some reading. Here's a cop story with major twist or two: When is a cop not a cop?  It's a three novel series (more coming) for the price of one paperback novel in most stores. Yup! All three novels for just under nine bucks. Kinda hard to beat, eh? Wander over and look. You can read a couple of chapter in each while you're there, too.





              




             







                 So you want to be a writer, eh? 

Normal morning coffee!
 It’s easy, actually.  Just write a subject in a sentence that can be written on a napkin and use a proper verb to go with it.  As long as said sentence makes a complete thought, you’re in business.  Later, write a few more sentences to go along with it.
         Don’t think so?  Let’s make up a simple subject we want to relate to our reader: “The dog jumped over the box.”  That’s a complete thought as well as a complete sentence.
         The problem is, it’s also boring.  To make it interesting, we’ll need to offer a bit more information.  In old time journalism, the rule of thumb is that an article must answer the who, what, why, where, when, and how of the topic.
         So if the story was about a little brown dog jumping over a large wooden box this morning because the neighborhood bobcat was chasing him to eat for breakfast, things get a bit more interesting for the reader.  And if you use a sentence or two to describe each of the aspects in the above sentence, you end up with a complete article ready for publication.
         See . . . it’s easy!
         Anyone can write that way.  Even me.  Basically, I published over three-thousand editorials that started out more or less like that.
         Everyone has dozens of stories to tell at any moment.  There’s no such thing as writer’s block when you write the core of what you want to relate in one sentence first, then expand on the points around it later.  Who, what, why, where, when, and how.  Answer each of those with an individual sentence or so and your done.  So stop writing.
         It’s not true that you must be a master of the English language, either.  The best thing you can do for your readers is to speak the text you have written.  You must be able to speak the text easily. It must flow nicely.  If you cannot, then change it.  Text you can speak easily is easy to read.  That’s important for all but the flowery, classical writers to remember.
         We’ll find all sorts of “experts” on the net giving writing advice.  Some of that advice is good but much of it seems suspect.  Why?  Simply because they have little more than a blog and web page published.  Sure, it may be a nice blog and a pretty web site, but a nice design doesn’t make them a writing expert.
         For beginners, I recommend visiting Professor Jane Friedman’s web site. (http://janefriedman.com/)  She teaches electronic communication at the University of Cincinnati and was publisher and editorial director at Writer’s Digest for quite a while.  If you want to learn “Writing for the Web,” Prof. Friedman’s site provides plenty of good hints to get started.
         Even so, you still should not push that send button.  Nope, not until someone else has read the text.  Most of us read right over our typos and mistakes.  Others will see them, though, you can bet on that!
         Or, if you don’t have anyone else to read it over, at least let it sit for a couple days and then come back and read it again.
         The art of writing is rewriting.  Most of us do as much of that as writing.  I sure do.




                                    Thanks Doug.


 Now to practice this, it looks like I need a napkin to scribble on. You said you're taking me where for dinner?

Monday, February 6, 2012

A Fish Tail

                                         Did you know a Fishbowl could explode?



I sure didn't. Crack, chip, finally break yes.

This is not what I was going to post today.  But as I'm still quite amazed at what happened, here it is:

 I don't have a "real' fish bowl. I use a large glass, vase type container that has a floating water plant and many of the cool rocks I pick up and drag home in it, along with my one little blue fish.  It's big enough to hold a huge bunch of Sunflowers and a whole lot of water and sits right next to my laptop.

I've had these crack, chip, and finally break when cleaning, pretty normal.

I just had set it down on the kitchen island after cleaning and putting it all back together and there was a crackle, hiss and BANG. Water and shattered glass flying everywhere type of explosion.

I jumped, the cat jumped, the deaf dog jumped.

The Fish was missing!

 Of course I was barefoot as is pretty normal for me. The cat and dog however have built in shoes, and found the fish. Flipping, flopping and swimming, sort of across the tile on the other side of the island.

The chase and race was on. The cat was in the lead with the dog fighting to get ahead. I'm standing there looking for something to throw on the floor to walk on. Dish towel, small but had to make due, and fast.  The critters who hate to get their feet wet outside didn't seem to realize wet is wet inside too and were way ahead of me.

The fish keep flippin' and floppin' away, and took a high dive off the tiled kitchen floor down the carpeted staircase.

Flip, Flop a couple of steps at a time he kept ahead of the four legged furry critters.

  Carpet, now I had a chance.  Right.  Not.  Two flight of stairs and two landings later, the cat is still in the lead and we're back on tile. Dry tile, not much flip was left in the fish's flop.

 The cat stopped to go into stalk mode and, Ah Ha ... I snagged him and stuck him in the closet down there.  Then I went to grab the poor tired fish.  Right.  He got his flop back in his flip.  I finally threw the towel I was still holding over him.  Had him!  He was saved from the paws of death.

All of this probably only lasted a total of 60 seconds.  It seemed like forever.

I now had to quickly find some water and a new temporary home for the fish, and clean up a very big mess.  Sigh.

The little Blue fish is sitting in his very small temporary home, back next to my computer.

 My heart has slowed down from the adrenaline rush of the chase.

 The only evidence of his adventure is a tiny piece of his frilly tail is missing.

Do these things only happen to me?

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

I've Got No "Sit" In My Pants

Yes, I said SIT...it wasn't a typo.  I've heard this all my life. My Mother, my teachers, you get the idea.

I was going to sit and write today, but it's Sunny and almost 58* at 10 am. I look out the window in front of me, the foot of snow we got over the weekend just disappeared overnight so out I go, dog in tow, to be almost blown over by the wind!  Rats! That 58* doesn't feel like 58*!

 I come back in after a walk about with all great intentions to sit down to do some reading and write.

 A few things get read and a sentence or two down in draft and the siren song outside of my window draws me to test the outdoors again.

I know it's the last day of January and this is an oddity, it's going to turn cold and snowy again in a few days, but today?  It's still warming up at noon now almost 60*  I decided I love the wind.

I leave you with only this, because..I Got No "Sit" in my pants!

Enjoy your day, I know I'm going outside to enjoy mine!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Cookie Sheets and Toilet Bowl Cleaner

“If you wait to do everything until you're sure it's right, you'll probably never do much of anything.”

 Win Borden 




Have you ever seen something really cool and think: I can do that, easy.  No Problem.  Ha!

Every once in awhile I get a wild Hair brained urge to go out of my own artistic niche which is Weaving.

A few years ago my Hubby and I were traveling quite often from my house on the West side of the State back to his apartment on the East side of the State.  Aging parents and other Family functions had us keeping both places up and running back and forth frequently.  I decided I need a project to keep at the apartment and a 60 inch floor loom is not a portable thing.

We have this Awesome Copper, raised etched panel that one of his Aunt's made many years ago and I thought to myself -- Perfect, only on a smaller scale.  I had all the tools, picked up a few sheets of copper and was off and galloping.

 I was, at the time, reading a book on the ancient Sumerian culture and decided to do large bookmarks for gifts with their names written on then in the Sumerian Cuneiform, along with some decorative twists and twirls.  I won't bore you with the actual process of doing, other than to say I had fun and they turned  out well.

EXCEPT, the copper didn't have the "old" look with the green patina that would not only make it look aged but also like it actually came from an archaeological dig.  I'm big on authentic, and there's where my adventure began.

On to the Internet, I found how to age copper.  The main way was put it outside for a hundred years. Ignore that one, I wanted quick results.  Okay, lemon juice, vinegar or hydrochloric acid were 3 options also mentioned.

Check: had Lemon juice, out with one of the practice sheets and poured some on.  Zip, zilch, nothing happened.  On to Vinegar with the same result.  Mix them together, still nada.

 On to the last hydrochloric acid, but where the heck was I going to find that!  Oh brilliant Lab Rat that I was I seemed to remember it was an ingredient in Toilet Bowl cleaner.  Races to the bathroom to read the label.  Shazamm!  I had it!

The next problem was how the heck to immerse that 8x10 inch sheet of Copper in the darn stuff, not breathe fumes or splash on anything.  The bathtub seemed like a pretty safe place to not drip on anything -- there was a fan for fumes, but it was not a good idea to get any on the porcelain or my hands, I thought.  Off to the kitchen.  Rattle in cupboards and the cookie sheet and tongs to flip and dip with and back to the Tub.

I set everything up like a good little Alchemist and poured on a tiny puddle to see what would happen.  Ah success!  It was doing something ... slowly.  But why wait?

I poured the rest of the bottle on, watched a few minutes, and went off to impatiently wait. That was my second mistake, the 1st being an aluminum, Teflon lined cookie sheet.  Our first clue something was wrong was a very nasty smell wafting from the hallway leading to the bathroom.  I was more curious than alarmed as I wandered down to take a peek at what was going on.

Let me stop here to say we were on the 7th floor of a very large 10 story apartment complex and it was the middle of the Winter.

What I found was something that looked like it came alive,  right out of a Steven King novel!  A bubbling, boiling, twisted cookie sheet, spitting putrid, smoking fumes.  Instant first thought as I'm cussing like a longshoreman was turn on the water,  Dilute It and Run.  Right smack dab into Doug who was calmly opening windows and hauling out fans.

Needless to say we had to evacuate for awhile and, upon returning, I had a huge mess to clean up.  BUT, I had the most Awesome piece of pitted, aged copper I could have asked for.

The next day as I  hauled out that warped and twisted cookie sheet, my good piece of copper and a new bottle of Toilet Cleaner I got the "Old Hairy Eyeball" look with just one word:  OUTSIDE!!!!