Monday, July 30, 2012

People Are Strange

People are strange when you're a stranger... 

I was sitting in a swimming pool in Las Vegas recently, a girl’s trip. It was scorching, around 111 degrees, and the only available shade cost $15.00 an hour. Drinks were available for the mere sum of $14.00 but my friend and I decided it was easiest to just float around in the pool to try to stay cool. There were other people around, some splashing in the water, some soaking up the sun and some shelling out the $15.00 an hour to read a book or nap in the shaded lounge chair.

Cool blue water...
An elderly gentleman was water walking around the pool, stopping at different groups to converse. He meandered over to where my friend and I were reclining and asked if we minded if he stayed to talk a bit. We didn’t and he went into stories about what he had done for a living, what hiols interests were and so on. He asked questions of each of us and we answered to the extent we were comfortable. He had some interesting anecdotes and shared extensively.

View from the top...out our window
Eventually, both of us were losing interest but he continued the now one sided conversation. She exited the pool to sit on the edge and I inched toward the stairs. He stuck to us like glue. It took a while but he finally acknowledged he had lost both our attention and said he was going to lay out in the sun. I happened to glance down about that time and noticed that his toenails were polished black. To each their own, but I thought it was strange.
One of those high dollar umbrellas nobody can afford to use!
There was a family who lived behind us when I was growing up. It was a single parent household and the two kids living there were strange. I’ve said before how my mother made us be nice to the underdog kids, so, because these two, a brother and sister, fit the mold, my sister and I, more so me, because they were closer to my age, were nice. I spoke when they were outside and even walked to school with them occasionally.

Their mother passed away and an older brother and his family moved into their home and they lived together. The boy of the original kids who lived there, whom I thought was the odder of the two, would sometimes leave me little presents. It creeped me out but in the style of my mother, I thanked him and went on.

I proceeded to college in another town and he went into the Navy. I got a letter at school one day. How he obtained my address, I have no idea. He wrote about him being the mouse king of the world of cheese and I could be his queen and rule the kingdom. There were pictures of his ship, his bunk, the bathroom, the ceiling, you know, all the interesting places. I received a few more letters but I blew it off until one day he was lying in the bushes beneath the windows of my dorm, howling. He came inside the lobby to look for me but one of the more athletic in the girl’s dorm stopped him from climbing the stairs.

The campus police were called and the only thing they could do was to tell me to be careful, not to go out alone and watch out for him. Reassuring, to say the least. If he tried to hurt me (and I lived) then they could step in. He eventually went back home and all returned to normal. That is until he thought he was Superman and jumped out of the21st floor of a local hotel. Turns out he couldn’t fly. It was really sad and overall a very strange experience.

I was talking to a close friend recently and asked him if he had any strange people stories to share. He said, “Every one that I know is strange in some special way”. He is so right. I was reminded that it’s the strangeness that makes us each unique. And what is strange to me may be perfectly ordinary to you. There are extreme cases, like my poor neighbor, where it’s an illness instead of just an abnormality. What about the man with the pedicured piggies? Who knows? That might be perfectly acceptable where he comes from. Who am I to judge? Nobody.

When you're strange 
No one remembers your name... 

I wore my vest again this past week and got more compliments so it must not be too strange looking! In fact, I’m contemplating making another. Could I finish before fall? That’s the big question.

I started another project, my first ever top down sweater. It’s called Sassymetrical and I’m using some yarn my good friend Brenda spun. The yarn is beautiful but I’m really scared there won’t be enough. According to the pattern there is but I’m not a little girl and the lady who wrote the pattern is. But since I seem to gravitate towards the same colorways I think I can wing it enough so nobody will notice. Maybe. If not, I’ll chalk it up to experience and try again.

Top down Sassymetrical

Yarn my friend Brenda spun.


Wrapping up a great week, well, despite some airline adventure, but it would be strange if that didn’t happen to me, right? Hopefully it’s the start to another good week as well. I got some Chewy Sweet Tarts and some yarn to add to the bottom of my sweater so all is good. And I’ll eat all of the colors of candy except the green cause they are my favorite. Then I can eat them all at once. Is that strange?

The green ones are the best!

When you're strange 
Faces come out of the rain... 
When you're strange...

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Space Oddity

Ground control to Major Tom…

I’ve always been attracted to bright colors. I like quilts and pieced together things like granny squares. I like tie dye. I tend towards variegated yarn rather than solid color. I used to tell the kids in my classes that plaid was my favorite color! No, they didn’t get it either.

I like kaleidoscopes. The vivid colors of the rainbow combined in extraordinary patterns capture my attention for considerable amounts of time. Stained glass and just colored glass with the sun shining through it is fascinating. I save empty colored bottles and set them outside to catch the sun. I suppose that could explain some of the following.

Years ago I was a camp counselor at a Campfire camp in Cuba, New Mexico. We were told the place was supposed to be an old Spanish Hacienda. (That can be another post.) Anyway, the owners, I guess, had built a house and in the house was a fireplace. This fireplace had a wall surrounding it that was made of stucco and empty bottles. The bottles had the bottoms facing out to the room. There was a light behind the wall and when it was on shown through the bottles making a stained glass effect. It was unique and really pretty. I was told that the planning wasn’t so good and the builder neglected to leave a way to change the bulb. That meant when it burned out it was just a wall with bottles showing. Hmmm. That was my first exposure to a bottle wall. But I was hooked.

Recently on a long road trip, we passed through Taos, New Mexico. It’s an interesting town in itself but about twelve miles out is a place called the Greater World Community. When you come upon it you wonder just what it is. It looks like a 70s throwback, a commune almost, of structures half buried in the ground.  It’s considered a subdivision and is designed to ‘create an ideal condition from which a sustainable community can grow and prosper’. The houses are called earthships, supposedly because they are in and of the earth, created of earthen materials and built into the ground. The ‘ship’ part of the term refers to the experience of living in a ship (boat), which requires dwellers to be independent. Besides earth, the houses are built using mostly recycled materials such as old rubber tires, tin cans and bottles. Yes bottles!

There are supposed to be about 60 houses out there. Every unit is unique but at the same time must conform to the restrictions of construction. All of them are built into a hill. The hill has to be on the south and every earthship has windows on that side. Dirt is pushed up against the northern side to help preserve heat in the winter and coolness in the summer. Each house must have solar heating and cooling, be built with natural and recycled materials, use electricity obtained only by solar or wind means, harvest water and include on-site sewage treatment and containment. A new requirement is that food must be produced in the house itself, and I don’t mean just cooking dinner!
Bottle wall in process.
Up close, bottles in mud and cement.
Bottle skylights and tin can arches!
The houses look like a cross between a castle and something from Star Wars. They are curious indeed. Some may call them dugouts. What really captured my attention are the bottIe walls that many have incorporated. The bottles act like bricks but allow the light to pass through as needed in rooms such as bathrooms. They aren't strong enough to be supporting walls but they are often used as interior dividers or outside dividers.
One of the earthship houses.
This one looks like it's still in construction...but is inhabited.
Up close view of walls made of old tires and tin cans.
Under construction, tin cans and mud filled tires.
A bottle wall, finished and stuccoed.
After viewing these walls up close and personal, my inner hippie started to emerge. I decided I need to build one of these walls. I approached the subject with my husband, and after getting ‘the look’, he said he’d buy me some cement! Now it is going to take some time, but I really want to do this. Of course I’ll need a lot more bottles. Better get busy! 

This is Major Tom to ground control, I'm stepping through the door 
And I'm floating in a most peculiar way 

I finished knitting my Linen Top I was working on last week. All I have to do is sew it together and block it. I’m bad about that so we’ll see! But I did actually block my Roberta’s Wrap. I wore it to work and got a lot of compliments. Then I say I made it and they are astonished. They wouldn’t be if they knew how easy it was!
Roberta's Wrap, front view
Wide angle for the back view.

I’ve been making up some potholders and dishrags for Christmas. They are easy and portable and all the kids have been asking for them so it’s productive. I managed to get in a couple of books, too. The first was Slow Burn by Julie Garwood. It’s about a sweet girl who suddenly comes into a large inheritance. After that, someone wants her dead. Surviving two explosions and other attempts on her life, romancing a policeman who happens to be the brother of her best friend, and managing to stay alive while still balancing a business and keeping a home for her sisters certainly kept my interest!

Dead Bolt is a sequel to a book I enjoyed earlier in the year, If Walls Could Talk, by Juliet Blackwell. Like the first book, ghosts are seen by the female contractor while remodeling a house. There’s murder, mystery and mayhem but all comes out well in the end. It was a good read and I hope to continue with the series.

I wonder if you if you can remodel an earthship home or if you’re stuck with whatever you end up with. I’m still enchanted with the idea but after researching found there all kinds of ‘strings’ attached if you want to build or live in an established community. That seems funny for a bunch of people wanting to get back to nature! I doubt that I could live that way, regardless. I’m a little claustrophobic! So in the meantime, I’ll just add to my bottle collection and someday start that wall! 

Here am I sitting in my tin can far above the Moon 
Planet Earth is blue and there's nothing I can do

Friday, July 13, 2012


Just own the night like the 4th of July...

Independence Day or the Fourth of July, is a big American holiday. It commemorates the adoption of the Declaration of Independence when America confirmed autonomy from the Kingdom of Great Britain. Is it too late for a post about July Fourth? I don’t think so. Although it’s just one day, traditionally the whole month of July is associated with the holiday. It is an important day in history but it’s also commonly a time for celebration with parades, barbeques, special ceremonies and fireworks. It’s often a family time with reunions and camaraderie between friends and family. It’s a time communities come together.

We celebrated the Fourth this year with family and friends. Our youngest son, Ty, lives in Utah so we drove up to be with him, his girlfriend Jennivee, and her family. It was a fun time with a parade, a picnic in the park and then a finale of fireworks.

The parade was one of the longest we’ve observed in a while. The small town parades we are accustomed to viewing last approximately 30 minutes. That’s if it’s a long parade! The parade in Utah lasted two hours! This ‘parade in a parade’ as it was called, had about 50 of the regular type entries but also included a tribute to the oil and energy industry in the Uintah Basin with about 70 entries. It was fun to see the different floats and marchers. They had what we would call a pep squad, with all the girls riding unicycles.

Starr marched with her great grandma!
Alan watching parade.

Red, white and blue!!!
Unicycle drill team
Watching the unicycles

The lead float for the oil and energy portion was a replica of a float that made its debut in the 1953 parade with the Uinta Basin Desk & Derrick Club. The wooden oil derrick was accompanied by females in hardhats. Interestingly, the women on the copy of the float were all grand-daughters to the women who rode on the original float! The girls were wearing the swimsuits their grandmother’s had worn when they rode in the parade all those years ago. Three of the women from the original float rode in the parade in a 1953 Ford Sunliner convertible.
Granddaughters wearing the swimsuits of the original float riders...their grandmothers!

Original float picture from I love Drilling!

After resting a bit we headed to the park for the traditional picnic enjoyed by Jenn’s family. Every year they get the same spot, share wonderful dishes, play games and enjoy the company of each other. This year we were graciously included. An uncle rigged up a ‘redneck’ swimming pool for the kids by lining the bed of his pick-up truck with plastic and filling it with water. The kids had a blast!
Have pool...will travel!

After everyone ate their fill it was time to relax and visit. I was glad to find an aunt working on a cross stitch piece and brought out my knitting without feeling self conscious!

At dusk the park started to fill with people claiming a place to observe the fireworks. Unfortunately Utah and Texas share the same dry climate this year and fireworks were restricted to certain areas or banned altogether. Many people brought their own to the designated spot and set them off for all to enjoy. We waited for the city display. When it was finally dark the big fireworks exhibit began. They were beautiful!

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At the end of the exhibition the crowds started home. It marked the end of a great day, a day celebrating the Independence of America, shared with friends and family.

Boom, boom, boom 
Even brighter than the moon, moon, moon 

I was happy to knit at the park because I can visit and knit at the same time. I enjoyed conversation with the aunt I was sitting beside and found we had many things in common. I was working on a simple Linen Top  from the Kat Coyle blog with the remainder of the Thomas Kvist yarn. I didn’t bring any other so I thought I might as well use what I had with me. I think maybe I’ll have used it all by the time I’m finished!
Had to put in a picture of my Belle...patriotic in July!
 Years ago I made all the kids an afghan. I don’t think it was for Christmas or anything, but just because. Ironically, as much as I like to knit, all of their afghans are crocheted! Ty wanted me to bring his so I did. It’s supposed to be an American flag and does bear a resemblance!
Ty's afghan...from years ago! I need practice in seaming for sure!

I remember how hard I worked on it and how great I thought it looked. I see it wasn’t as well made as I thought, but then I’m a bit more critical of my work than most! It’s held up well since it’s at least twelve years old! And it will never wear out because it’s made with Red Heart yarn! The most important thing though, is that he likes it. And I know he’ll use it because it’s cold in Utah! And he’ll think of me when he does!

There's a lot of things to be happy about this July. Enjoy and celebrate yours!

Baby, you're a firework
Come on, let your colors burst…
Come on, show 'em what you're worth…

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Rubber Duckie

You're the one…

I'm awfully fond of you!
I have a great bathtub. It’s an old fashioned claw foot that was rescued from an abandoned ranch house in New Mexico. The rancher gave permission, so my husband and his friend dug it out, loaded it on the truck and brought it home.

When we built our house, well, when he built our house, he put it in the bathroom off the master bedroom. He built a wooden box around it and lay down navy blue tile on top. It was something to see!

Despite the age of the tub, there was nothing at all wrong with it. There were no scars or hard water stains. It was smooth, white porcelain. Actually it is cast iron covered with porcelain. Did I mention the bathroom is upstairs? Yes, it was hard to get up there. And very heavy!

When I was at the hospital with baby number three, my husband got someone to spiff up the house so it would be nice for our homecoming. I don’t know what the lady used on the bathtub but it etched the porcelain. It also stained it in some places. Sad, but I still like it.

Since I have such an impressive tub, one of my favorite things to do is to take a bath. Specifically, I like bubble baths. I can get in the deep tub, have bubbles up to my chin, lean back and relax. Remember that old commercial, Calgon, take me away? Well, I don’t even need Calgon!
Got my toes in the water...

With a family and the busy schedule it includes, I was pretty much a shower girl. It was dash in, dash out, let’s get ready, and let’s go! Now that the kids are all gone I can take long baths if I want. I’ll light a scented candle or two, maybe pour a glass of wine, pick a book and escape. I can stay in ‘til my skin turns ‘pruny’.

There’s no swimming pool at our house. But when the littles come over a bath in Mamye’s tub is the next best thing! They have such fun, play cooking, swimming and making bubble beards. They don’t want to get out!
Rub a dub dub!

Playing in the bubbles.

Some people don’t like baths. But if you are a bath person and you haven’t had the time to take a leisurely bath lately, you might give it a try. Light a candle or two, grab a beverage and maybe a book. Get those bubbles going and get in. Sit back and relax. Enjoy the peace. Let it take you away.
Girls after my own heart!

Every day when I 
Make my way to the tubby…

I know I’ve said it before but I do the majority of my reading in the tub. I really can’t knit in there and I can’t sit still without doing something for too long. So I read (or kill Zombies on my phone!) But there’s always chance I could drop the phone in the water. That wouldn’t do! But if I dropped the book, oh well!
Murder, murder and more murder! I'm so predictable!
I managed to finish a couple more in the past couple of weeks. Both were murder mysteries. "Death of a Kitchen Diva" has new food writer Hayley Powell solving a murder of a rival food columnist before she takes the wrap! "Shakespear's Landlord" was a little dark at first with the main character having a hidden past. She's a loner but when her landlord is murdered and she's the prime suspect she has to prove her innocence before the real killer gets away. I am going to branch out and read something different…one of these days. But as long as my friend brings me the books I might as well read them!

I finished the Clapotis. Well, except for weaving in the ends. I didn’t have a proper soak so I tried shampoo, which I read would work. Well, it’s not a lot softer than it was. It’s not horrible by any means but I wouldn’t mind if it was a bit squishier! My friend Debi suggested I put it in the washing machine. I might.
Finished except the ends. I like it.
I started something else out of the same yarn. I won this yarn in a contest at Christmas. I got a lot. In fact, I didn’t even get it all and I have plenty! I wouldn’t have minded having some of it in different colors, but free is good so I won’t complain. The yarn is by Thomas Kvist and is mostly linen. Anyway, the new project is called Roberta’s Wrap and is an easy no seam vest/wrap. If I try I might be able to finish it soon.

Roberta's Wrap in progress.

Too bad I can’t knit in the tub. I’d be finished already!

You make bathtime lots of fun…