It’s a lucky day when…

You are attempting to put your hair in a tidy pony tail with an elastic band and the cheeky, bouncy band pops out of your hand and carves a perfect arc toward the bowl of the commode next to the bathroom counter and you watch with bated breath as it misses the bowl and lands innocently on the ground.  It really is the little things in life that you most appreciate, especially after a week spent fighting a beastly head cold.

Kids at work

A T-ball game is the purest form of sportsmanship there is and very entertaining.  Everyone roots for all the players on each side.  Everyone bats until they get a hit and then everyone in the stands cheers them on, urging them to run to first base.  Some of the players know where it is, some of them don’t.  Doesn’t matter, a coach from one of the teams will point a wandering base-runner in the right direction and make sure they get there, even if someone has tagged them out.  If they have been tagged out, they go back to the dugout none the wiser.  Win, win, win.

If you ever get a chance to attend a T-ball game, don’t hesitate.  You will go home with a smile on your face.

Testing this and that…

Recently I bought one of these awesome Rinse Well thingies.  AKA, “The Watercolor Toilet.” Hah!  Because when the water in the well gets dirty, you push that little button and it disappears into the well and fresh water automatically refills the basin.  It’s a silly little tool for lazy artists who don’t like to get up and change their dirty rinse water.  It’s not perfect.  The well is a bit small if you’re doing a big splashy painting, but it’s perfect for dainty dry brush work that doesn’t require a huge pigment load.  Also all the dirty water doesn’t disappear so the fresh water in the well is slightly tinged with whatever color was there.  But it’s still a cool thing that will work for certain things I do in the studio.  I like it.  Because I like cool tools.

The other item I’m testing is the switch back to the creation of jpegs on my iPhone.  Apple sneakily changed the default file type from jpeg to a proprietary file type they claim is better called HEIC (pronounced “HEEK”) in their last major upgrade.  Well that’s a heiccup if you ask me because those HEIC files would upload anywhere and couldn’t be converted without paying for and downloading a conversion app.  Grrr.  What the HEEK Apple?  So it turns out it’s easy to make your phone switch back in your  settings under “camera” then “format” choose “Most compatible.”  That’s it.  And don’t we all want to win the award for Most Compatible?  All except Apple.

False advertising

This summer we raised Thai Eggplants to use in curries. Specifically Thai Green Curry. We had to raise them because, to paraphrase Oscar Wilde, they are not to be had in any market at any price here in California, in spite of their presence in this photo on the entry door of a local supermarket. Just above the geeen tomato…

Problem solved

Uncle Si had plenty of wisdom to impart but perhaps his best bit was, “Most problems will solve themselves if you just leave them alone.”

Here’s a perfect example. This cart return is possibly the worst piece of engineering I’ve ever seen. As originally designed, the carts would roll right back out every time I tried to put them in since the return was high in the middle and low and open to the parking lot on both sides. Presumably this was to encourage drainage, and if so, that goal was met. I’ve never seen water standing in this structure. However, the PRIMARY goal of keeping carts from rolling willy-nilly around the parking lot was completely unmet by this feat of engineering.

For about 5 years, I would heap disdain on the designer of this useless cart corral each time I shopped here until one magic day I noticed that the asphalt had heaved at the junction with the concrete of the cart return a good 1.5 inches…enough to stop the carts from rolling out! Thus did the problem solve itself. Now I think of Uncle Si and his infinite wisdom every time I shop here and return my cart.

Waxing Elegant

Hardy, har, har.  I’m currently reading a book, a PUBLISHED book, wherein the author has used the phrase “hardy laugh” twice and the title phrase of this post once…so far.  I’m waxing eloquent and enjoying a hearty laugh at his expense.  Actually, I think I’m going to give him a pass on the use of waxing elegant instead of eloquent because it would be in character for the narrator/main character of the book to make that kind of gaffe, but the the continual enjoyment of hardy laughter by the characters is a brig to fare.  Spell check is obviously to blame, yet again, for not being able to catch typos that accidentally form other legitimate words, or the misuse of words that sound similar but have completely different spellings and/or meanings.  When are they going to come up with Phrase check?  Or Homonym check?  Or Does this writing make any sense at all check?

Where have all the editors gone, long time passing…

I’m about to jump off that bridge too far, but before I do, may I recommend The Elements of Style by E. B. White? I recommend it to all, not just to the aspiring writers among us, because it’s some of the best writing around about how to write and at the same time some of the best writing around, period.  That’s no easy feat.  E.B. White.  Ahhh.  Some writer.

Read any good books lately?

Postscript: that’s twice for “waxing elegant.”  Maybe it’s a Southern expression?  Could be one of those idioms that pinpoint the geographic region where you learned to talk?  That they might one day use to create a quiz like this.

 

Britex report

So I did promise to report on the fabric shopping adventure.  I bought a white slub knit, and gray sweatshirt fleece, both remnants, neither of which I’ve even thought of sewing up but both of which should make useful additions to my day-to-day wardrobe when I do.  Britex is wildly over-priced so I wasn’t too tempted by anything that wasn’t on the remnant floor.

It was a lovely day of shopping with friends in the city in spite of getting drenched by the pouring rain in the middle of the worst drought in a generation.  You can see the Britex bag in the background of recent posts featuring my dress form in her scandalous state of deshabille, which really shows in the most recent post of the jacket I recently made.  Shameless hussy.

High Anxiety

Just a few thoughts on why it is that I’m always feeling anxious when working at the computer, and why I’m not alone.  I thought about this quite a bit recently when my trusty laptop died and I had to upgrade to a new version of Sibelius music scoring software, a program I’ve been using for years, because the old version on which I am quite competent just doesn’t run on the Mac platform. With the death of the old laptop, we are now all Mac, all the time with a new MacBook Pro Retina 15″ laptop replacing the last link to the PC world in our little world of computing.

Consider knitting for a minute.  I learned to knit when I was 10.  I wasn’t very good at it at first, but I got better through practice and now I feel confident I can knit anything if I just follow the instructions.  There are new and better tools now and lots of interesting techniques out there of which I was completely unaware back when I learned, like circular needles, Entrelac and Moebius knitting for example, but if you gave me those same needles and yarn from 1968 (or 1668 for that matter), I could still knit with them successfully and make something useful.  Also, after a knitting interregnum of almost 20 years, I was able to take up my needles  and start knitting again as if I had never stopped.  K2tog still means knit two together.

How different with computers:  I first started working with computers at 16 in high school and did some simple programming, first in Fortran on CARDS and then Pascal in college.  The language, tools and techniques I used then are of absolutely no use to me now and probably would be unrecognizable to anyone under the age of 50.  After I took about 8 years off from computers between college and working in a library, I was unable even to start up a computer and make it run a program, much less do anything useful.  Unless you use computers every day, you are constantly out of date.  Even if you use them every day, you are out of date if you don’t upgrade every program at every opportunity. The new skills required don’t build on the old skills in the virtual world in same way they do in the analog world.  Old tools have no utility.  There is no mastery built of long experience, there is only the constant fear that the small world of utility you have created for yourself will collapse at any minute if your computer crashes and you will be starting all over again at ground zero in a new world that is several magnitudes more complex than it was last time your computer crashed, taking with it all of it’s comfortable software.  This creates a sense of dread looming in the background at all times as you work with the certain knowledge that your skills are woefully out of date and when the inevitable crash comes, you will not be able to do at all what you can easily do now.

This is one of the reasons I prefer knitting, which, by the way, I often describe as the original binary code.  Just knit and purl.  That’s all there is.  Everything is built upon a base of knit and purl, from the simplest cotton washrag to the most complicated Estonian lace shawl.  So, I’m going to take a deep breath, shut down the computer, and go finish my latest knitting project, the instructions for which I admittedly downloaded from the Internet, and very easily from the lovely Ravelry.com site.  Slip one knitwise and call me in the morning.

Celtic Braid Mitt

 

Sweet Violets and Healthy Vegetables

Sweet Violets

One of the requirements of any new home was that it have a place to grow violets.  I guess the new house passes muster.  This is the second display of this magnitude we’ve had since we moved here in February and some of these plants are still sending up new blooms stalks!

Another requirement was a place to grow tomatoes, cucumbers, green beans and zucchini.Zucchini Sprouts Garden Boxes 2014

Check, check, check, check and check.  As you might guess, there are a few other things to check off the list, but vegetables and violets are a very good start.  We got the white raised planter boxes from New England Arbors.  We’ll see come July how they perform for raising vegetables.  We know the Tomato Boxes  can raise great tomatoes because we’ve used them before.  And there’s always the Farmer’s Market in case of crop failure on any front, but I do love putting vegetables on the table at noon that were still growing on the vine at half-past 11.

Fresh eggs

Fresh Eggs

 

The next best thing to having your own chickens is having a friend with a few too many.

Here’s an omelette-making secret I picked up by watching the pros do it at a buffet brunch:  put only the cheese in the middle.  Any vegetables or meat should go into the pan first and be cooked or reheated to your satisfaction first.  Then drop in the beaten eggs and proceed with standard omelette procedure.  When it’s ready to fold in half, put the cheese in.  Give it some time on each side to finish cooking and melt the cheese.   So much better than having a pile of mixed vegetables and cheese 2 inches high inside plain eggs.