random photos

November 24, 2011

From our single cherry tomato plant:

It got to 20 the night before I brought them in. I covered the plant with blankets and plastic; but, it’s a fool’s errand to try to keep tomatoes alive in October in Colorado. I separated the tomatoes into two boxes: ones to ripen, and ones to can. Altogether, just under 25 pounds.

I ended up with 2 1/2 quarts of dried tomatoes and 23 pints of various green tomato things like salsa and relish and piccolilli.

The scarf I knitted for the RNK and I with various animals. The scarf and Ida Rose Parker:

The scarf and Jet:


The scarf up close:

The scarf and my little ponderosa pine tree:

From out of nowhere

October 7, 2011

It’s been ages since I posted anything on the blog. I got busy and the blog wasn’t a priority. Until today. I’ve got a great reason to post today.

Yesterday, I was over on Ravelry tolling around, procrastinating instead of working. I was checking out the Wollmeiseholics Anonymous forum when I came across a photo that PurpleDan had posted of a couple of new silk project bags he was uploading to his Etsy shop.

Gorgeous bags. So, I jumped on over to PurpleDan’s profile to find his Etsy shop. I couldn’t believe it when I read his profile. He creates one-of-a-kind works of art from Barbie dolls and his creations have appeared in various publications all over the world. Awesome.

I’ve got all my Barbies from when I was little. I haven’t been able to figure out what to do with them. They are too well-loved to be collector’s items and the clothes have a little too much sentimental value to just toss. This potentially sounded like a match made in heaven.

I contacted Dan and offered him the setup, being careful to let him know that these are not in pristine condition — maybe a little too well-loved to be used for works of art. I probably got my first Barbie around 1962 when I was five. I was a serious Barbie fanatic for the next several years. Probably the latest dolls in the set date to the late 60s.

They have been stored in the vinyl case that Santa brought me one year for Christmas. The case has a date of 1963 on it. A few years back, I opened it and discovered that moths had gotten inside. Uhhgg. I put in the big guns — lots of mothballs — and hoped for the best. When I opened the case today, there was a faint whiff of mothball, but no new moth damage.

(I think the pictures will embiggen if you click on them if you are interested in seeing more detail.)

I’m posting pictures here today of the whole setup so Dan can decide if these gals, and guys, are art-worthy. While I’m at it, I’ll tell you a little bit about why the clothes are sentimental.

Here’s the outfit with the most moth damage:

My dad was a very talented and creative person. If he could see something upclose and touch it, he could make it. From tailoring most of my mom’s clothes and suits for himself, to making almost all the clothes I wore, to jewelry, to flower arranging, to painting, to carpentry, to landscaping . . . he did it all. As a kid, I wasn’t aware that this was special, or even unusual. I thought everyone’s dad could move seamlessly from building a goldfish pond in the back yard or finishing the basement to making me a new silver ring or a new outfit to wear to school the next day.

It took me years to learn that not only was my dad extra special, he was probably one-of-a kind himself. I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone else ever who could do as many things as well as my dad did.

He used to tell me that hobbies are important and that you should always buy the very best quality materials you can because if you start with crap, you’ll end up with crap. He also told me that if you start a new hobby, no matter what anyone tells you, buy professional-grade tools. He said amateur tools give amateur results. Professional tools, even in the hands of amateurs, will result in a much better finished product. All of it good advice that I heed even now — as anyone who has seen my yarn stash will attest to.

Can you believe, my brother and I teased him mercilessly for his lack of cooking skills? It was probably the only thing he didn’t do well. My mom went back to college when I was about 11 and on the nights she had classes, dad cooked dinner. My brother still laughs about the night he says dad made boiled hot dogs with celery. I don’t remember that. I do remember that I ended up being responsible for cooking dinner several nights a week from about age 12 on through high school.

After I left for college, dad decided it was high time he learned how to cook. He tackled it with a vengeance — probably to put my brother and I to shame for all those years of teasing. He became quite a skilled chef. We ate his pies for Thanksgiving every year until he died. He made the best pie crusts ever!

However, I’m getting sidetracked. Back to the Barbies. Although I don’t remember him making it for me, I can tell by the handstitching on the patch pockets on this green wool crepe coat that dad made it. The coat is fully lined and underneath the coat is a fitted green shift (does anyone even wear shifts anymore?) made from the same fabric as the coat lining. The tailoring is impeccable given the size of this little outfit.

But the moths.

Even though I know the right thing to do is to throw this away, I get a little teary even thinking about doing that. I can’t imagine how much my dad must have loved me to have sat downstairs after work and measured and fitted and sewed outfits for my dolls for me. I used to sit down there with him; but, often, he worked on projects like this after I went to bed and gave them to me as gifts for my birthday or Christmas.

One year for Christmas, I think I was 7 or 8, he gave me a complete puppet theatre with about a dozen puppets that he made from scratch and a black lacquer stage that stood about 5 feet tall. It had three panels held together with hinges so it would stand on it’s own and hide me, the puppeteer. The stage had velvet curtains and it was beautiful! My brother and I played with that gift for years. The puppets had real hair and clothes and jewelry. They all had sculpted faces made from felt. His puppets were even nicer than the few store-bought ones that he and my mom bought to round out the set. Actually, he probably bought those few from the store to study how they were made. Then, he improved on everything about the puppets when he made his.

It isn’t just the things my dad made for my Barbies that had sentimental value. My maternal grandmother also made me Barbie clothes. There’s a little crocheted vest for Ken. The best part of all of that was that grandma just didn’t make things — she taught me how to crochet so I could make things myself. My very first serious crochet project was a vest for a toy hippo I had. I still have the hippo, dressed in his little vest. I crocheted from the time I was about seven until I was 20, when I decided that knitting was a more practical skill in terms of making myself clothes.

Once again, I digress. So, back on track.

Sure, I loved the store-bought Barbie clothes and probably, didn’t really even differentiate much between the ones dad and grandma made and the store-bought clothes I got as gifts from other people. Today though, when I hold this little green outfit that my dad made in my hand I get all teary. No way I can toss it. It’s like holding a little handful of dad. However, I totally understand, and would even encourage, someone else to throw the useless bits and pieces from this Barbie collection into the rubbish bin. Especially the things that are moth damaged.

So, that’s where you come in Dan, if you are willing. Take these dolls from me and make something beautiful from the pieces worth salvaging.

When I saw those lovely silk bags and the mention of one-of-a-kind works of art, I figured you just might be the reason I’ve been hanging onto these dolls for almost 50 years. I hope that they look like something you can use!

Do you have any friends traveling from the US to visit you in the UK? Maybe I could ship them to someone here and they could haul them over? Maybe I should just plan a vacation to the UK!

I sure hope they look like something you could use. And if they can’t, well, no worries. I’m sure I’ll figure it out one of these days!

Our bedroom

August 5, 2011

used to be a real peachy combination: mauve carpet and apricot walls and ceilings. It was like that when we moved into the house and I have meant to paint it for quite a while. I would wake up thinking of nectarines. Not really, but that was the color scheme.

It wasn’t just the color that I didn’t like. The people who owned the house before us had three boys. Everything was painted in gloss paint, presumably so they could wash walls with great frequency. The only problem was, the paint was such poor quality that wall washing not only removed dirt from the walls, it also removed the paint. Right down to the drywall. I am not very fond of gloss paint. I prefer flat. I have methodically been repainting everything in the house.

The house sort of has two parts. The old part and the new part. The new part has a huge great room with very tall ceilings. That room and the bathroom in the new part are now the only two areas I haven’t painted. The great room intimidates me because it will require scaffolding to paint. We may just sell the house instead — if someone would buy it.

I know it’s not the best economy for selling homes. But, we did sell the other house last year with most of our furniture and many of my other belongings such as linens, dishes, lamps and other household items. For a multitude of reasons, we haven’t actually replaced a lot of that yet. I guess it would be fair to say that furniture just isn’t a priority for us.

You’ll have to keep this in mind as you look at the before and after pictures of the bedroom. Before, we had a king-size mattress and box springs on a bed frame. Now, we have a queen-size mattress and box springs that sit on the floor. I did buy a cute little washstand with a marble top to serve as a nightstand. Anyway, I present to you before (with before being a little over a year ago with the furniture we used to have) and after (with after being just a few minutes ago).

Imagine the bed about 8 inches higher with a bed frame or, even better, with an actual bed, and I think it’s a pretty grand transformation.

The colors don’t really show up all that clearly in the picture. In fact, they change all day long and they cause me to look twice to try and figure them out. The two dark walls are a color called Swing Brown that looks remarkably like the color of melted milk chocolate. The two light walls are painted Unfussy Beige, which is in the paint tray, a very unfussy pale tan color. On the wall, it reflects the mauve carpet and looks a teeny little bit lavender. Not much, just a little. The ceiling is a lighter shade of the beige and is called Hush White. All together, the massive amounts of brown in the room have helped to tone down the mauve carpet and make it look much less mauve-like. Now, it’s almost mauvey-brown. A great improvement coming from the one-who-hates-pink-and-pink’s-relatives.

You may notice that in spite of me saying that we sold the other house with all our furniture, the same pieces appear in both pictures. I refused to part with my little antique dresser and they didn’t want the RNK’s huge 60s dresser or my cheap little lingerie chest. So, they came with and are comfortably placed back in the bedroom. Maybe someday, we’ll get the RNK a new dresser and I’ll paint the lingerie chest with some wonderful something or other and turn it into a cute little thing. Meanwhile, it is what it is.

And for one parting shot, we have a lot of hawks around here. I saw this guy on my way to town last week.

King of the Hill.

Pre Camp Loopy

July 29, 2011

I haven’t had time for posting recently. Work. Animals. Etc. And a big purchase I made this summer than has taken a lot of my time (see below).

I have had time for knitting. Prior to Camp Loopy, I finished Ruffle My Feathers. Lays very nicely around the shoulders. I added a fancy little button to help it stay in place with no fuss. I like it.

The other time consumer? I bought an Airstream. I am in love.

The photo above shows my current camp location — our back yard. I sleep out in the trailer every now and then, just for fun.

But we have gotten out a little bit. Here’s the first place we went camping:

(click on photos to see the truncated right side if you are so inclined)

Camp Loopy

July 16, 2011


May 9, 2011

and after.

Here’s a photo of our stairs from 2008:

Here’s the photo of our stairs from a few weeks ago:

Here’s a photo of our stairs from last week:

The two upstairs bedrooms underwent a similar transformation. We pulled the carpet and the RNK put in Douglas Fir plank floors. I repainted with a nice light tan and a darker contrast color. Biscuit and Bagel are the paint color names, and to my way of thinking, the images they conjure are pretty accurate. I’m happy. Only one item left to deal with. I need to swap out the light fixtures in both rooms and the hallway.

I’ve moved my office back upstairs and it really feels nice to be working in such a clean and bright space. Finally!

The project has taken longer and has eaten up a lot of our leisure time. Thankfully, it’s over now. Perhaps I can get on with some other things (like knitting!) again.


April 19, 2011




I tried, but no photos worth posting of the current knitting project. Maybe soon.

I enjoyed this so much, I had to repost it

April 14, 2011

The Colbert Report

Thanks Norma

I had such grandiose notions

April 5, 2011

a while back about posting stories of things that have been rambling around my head for ages. Monkey mind tales. I got one posted, and another started.

Then I got slammed with work.

Now, every time I think how much I would like to post another monkey mind tale — and don’t — because I feel guilty about posting and not working, I think of Blue Feather.

Years ago, back when I planted trees, even before my forestry days, one of my fellow tree planters went by the name, Blue Feather. Blue Feather was an ex semi-pro football player from Arizona or perhaps Southern California. Certainly, he hailed a part of the country graced with abundant citrus trees.

Blue Feather, as you might guess from his name, had become smitten with American Indian culture and had attempted to reform himself from football player into self-proclaimed guru. Or something like that. Perhaps a field injury was involved. Or perhaps, he came to the realization that semi-pro was as far as he was going on that career path. So, he picked another path to amble down: tree planter and would-be sage.

One day, when we were planting on a seriously underbid contract in northern Idaho for the Clearwater National Forest, making next to nothing, I was eating a grapefruit for lunch. As I peeled it, I discovered the interior had some rot or mold. I was starting to carefully pick around the bad spots when Blue Feather noticed what I was doing. With no warning whatsoever, he reached over, grabbed the grapefruit from my hand and threw it about three miles down the road.

I was outraged and made my point in no uncertain terms. He said, “No one should eat rotten food, especially grapefruit. They are so abundant and cheap.” I pointed out that the food we were eating was purchased out of our ridiculously low wages and that in Idaho, grapefruit were not particularly inexpensive either. And furthermore, if I wanted to eat food that I had partially paid for that had mold, it was my damn choice and he should mind his own damn business.

Apparently, my sudden unexpected outburst shocked and entertained a few of the other planters who were sitting about, also eating our communally-purchased lunch. I have a vague recollection of some interesting noises and someone starting to sing the Neil Young lyrics, “It’s the woman in you . . .” amid a huge outburst of laughter aimed at both Blue Feather and me.

Anyway, the point to this back-story is to set the stage for the only other memorable moment in my mind regarding Blue Feather — aside from the fact that I out-planted him on that particular contract in Idaho.

Something had gone wrong. I don’t remember what. Maybe the truck broke down. Maybe we ran out of something. Who knows. All kinds of things went wrong on that job. We were all despondent and Blue Feather seized the moment to share some of his guru-philosophy.

“Don’t make plans. The Great Spirit will kick you in the ass every time.”

I’ve been kicked.


March 31, 2011

For a number of years after I first started working as a graphic designer I read three or four design magazines each month, bought and read book after design book, joined professional design organizations, worked for a raging bitch at an advertising agency and otherwise did everything I could to learn as much as I could about my newly chosen profession. Then I got stale.

I coasted. I did what I needed to do to get by. It was fine for a few years. Suddenly — specifically — the day the young punk kid who bought the Epson 3000 printer I had listed on Amazon called me on the phone to harass me about this printer that he willingly bought being too ancient to hook to any of his computers (me thinks he should have read the part about “parallel port” a little more closely), I realized the world was continuing on without me. I’ve been running to catch up ever since.

I started taking online classes again, learning about new devices and doing my darnedest to move willingly into the 21st century. It started about two and a half years ago with my migration back to the Mac. I bought a loaded MacBook Pro. Next came the Kindle. More recently, the iPhone. Now, an iPad. Mac-heavy? Yes, I’m afraid so. I wanted toys that play nicely together. I thought maybe the similarities in OS would be in my favor.

With all the iObjects in my life, I’m becoming obsessedinterested in apps. Yesterday, Kristi’s post over at Fiber Fool got me thinking, “Who better to ask than you, gentle reader?

Kristi did a great job of planting the seed that you can help me on my quest. Thanks to her, so far, after 24 hours, I’m hooked on Lose It!. This app is causing me to rethink my current infatuation with all things gummy (bears, worms, Happy Cola, and Swedish fish — the last of which I haven’t tried — yet).

My quest has also led me to Dropbox, which I am investigating today (use this link and we both get extra storage space). Do you use Dropbox? Do you like it? They sure have a convincing little video on their site.

Now, I am curious, what other great apps do my fellow bloggers, knitters, internet readers and iObject users have up their sleeves? Especially you knitters. Almost all the knitting apps I’ve seen are not free. Some are, in the app world, downright expensive. Before I plunk down my hard-earned .99 cents (or 4.99 or 9.99 as the case may be), I want to know what you think. Do share.