Wednesday, October 22, 2014

99 bottles of beer on the wall



Ok, not quite that. More like 48 bottles. And not on the wall. Lets not get sidetracked with details.

We siphoned the mort (fancy word for not quite beer) into the carboy (fancy word for jug). Sorry. I've got to learn to use these words. You get to bear with me. I tasted it; it's already tasty and smoooooth. Nice. I put the airlock back on, and now I ignore it for two weeks.

On to other things: I got hold of some human hair from a barber, and tossed some in the garden to scare off the deer. I've got a dozen butternut squash trying to ripen before first frost, and the deer have munched on one - the ripest one - and I want them to leave the rest of the squashes alone.  Squashes. Is that a real word?

Saturday, October 18, 2014

done



The deed is done.

I was nervous about starting the brewing process. It was new. Timing was important. The equipment is rather large. And heavy. And what if I screwed up five gallons of beer?? But each fear was dealt with, and now I'm done; weary, wiser, and content.

The first hurdle was hefting five gallons of liquid, which is about 40 pounds. No, I can't handle that, but reading closer, I saw the work was done on 2.5 gallons, with the other 2.5 gallons of water added at the end. So good. I tested my ability to lift 2.5 gallons, and yes, I could do that, with some grunting...

The boiling process was precise, and the instructions were quite clear, so we got that done, adding first one thing, then another, then another, all at specific times within the boiling process.

The cooling process was problematic. The suggestion was to cool as quickly as possible, so I followed the directions to put the brew kettle in the sink with ice water. I used up all the ice in the freezer, and it still wasn't down to desired temperature. What to do? Well, it was cool outdoors, so outdoors is where it finished cooling, with a lid on, of course, which slowed down the cooling, but who wants bird and bug poop in their beer!

Then the final steps, when the rest of the water is added. So I brought the brew downstairs, set everything up, and added the rest of the water a little bit at a time, testing the brew with the hydrometer each time until the reading was correct. Yep. Five gallons. That what they said, that's what I got. Now only one thing left to do...add the yeast. But where the flip is the yeast? Upstairs, downstairs, back upstairs, look in all the likely places, back downstairs to see if it got stuck in one of the buckets, back upstairs again, and now I'm thinking I'll have to make a quick run to the store to buy more yeast. Did I put it in early by mistake? I went through the trash, looking for a telltale yeast envelope. Nope. Good. And then I found it. So the yeast was put in and stirred, and all I had to do was put the lid on the brew bucket. But it was at shoulder level, and I didn't have the strength to pound it down. Stood on a chair, still couldn't. So ran over to a neighbor, borrowed their man muscles, and got the job done. Whew!

While I was at it, I racked the peach wine with my handy dandy siphon pump.

Clean up was a bear. Five and six gallon containers are not easy to deal with in the sink. But that, too, is done.

All this while George was in Cincinnati with his chorus for their regional competition. Turns out they placed third. As George said, they got their asses handed to them. I understand what he means, but for the life of me I don't understand the concept. I guess it's a guy thing. 

Friday, October 17, 2014

day after day after day



Tomorrow is brew day. It will be an adventure!

But today is a good day, too. Mike and Marti are now married. We'll get to see them over Thanksgiving, by mutual agreement.

Also, I now have four little neighbor kidlets who come over and we do crafts together. They love it, as do I. I take them one at a time, so we can have some quality one on one. The first one designed a doll dress; the second one designed a snake, the third one designed a god's eye, and the fourth one will help make a doll.

And yesterday was also a good day. I finally screwed up the courage to have my birthday suit checked. I thought it would be agonizingly embarrassing, but it was not. Not at all. Results? I'm in damned good shape. Not bad for this old broad, eh?

What I haven't done lately is ride my bike or do some photography. But I guess we can't do everything all the time. I'm grateful to have so many things I love to do!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

beer will be made



Here's the stuff. As soon as I can count on an uninterrupted 3 hours or so, and with the assurance that George will be here to do any heavy lifting, beer will be made. Heavy lifting? Five gallons might be a bit hefty for me to move; we'll see. The nice thing is...in the initial kit there are things useful to my winemaking, too. The beer will be a light beer, one I know I'll like. After that, we'll see what recipes I'll try, and, after I get used to it, what recipes I'll invent. 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

brew



I'm back from class...brew class, that is. I've got the equipment and ingredients to make a light beer. We'll see how this latest project turns out. Other than that, nothing much is happening.





Friday, October 10, 2014

chiggers, Noah, and rainbows



The best part of the day was when my brother called. He had read about my bites, and guessed they were chiggers. I had been suspicious.

So why the eff are there chiggers in the first place? And you know what's insane? I did some reading about them, and it was suggested we not scratch the itch. Seriously? The only way I could NOT scratch that horrific itch would be if I didn't have hands. Shit. I woke up once at night and one foot was scratching the other foot just for relief from the itch.

The next time I encounter a fundamentalist who believes in the Bible literally and knows Noah built the ark, I'm gonna ask that person how in the hell they think Noah collected two chiggers. Tell me. If you were Noah and had ever been bitten by a chigger, would you actually make sure you brought two onto the ark? For that matter, fleas, bedbugs, hornets, black widow spiders, brown recluse spiders, ticks, scorpions,  just to name a few. Did he build itty bitty cages for them? Sheesh.

If it were my story, it wouldn't be because humans had become evil, it would be because God screwed up. He screwed up by creating these mini monsters in the first place. So when he walked in the garden of Eden, he got bitten by chiggers. And after a spell, after encountering some of these other awful critters with absolutely no redeeming ecological, economic, or cultural value, He owned up to his mistake, texted Noah, and said "Hey Noah! I gotta get rid of these pests, so I'm gonna flood the planet. I'll give you time to build a ship as big as you want to keep whatever animals and people you think are worth saving. But please hurry. I don't want to go another year scratching the bejeebers out of these bites." So Noah did. And when the flooding was done, God hung that rainbow in the sky to celebrate all the gay people he created and were invited onto the ark. See? Those sourpuss fundamentalists got the story all wrong. Mine's better. More inclusive and loving. 

Thursday, October 09, 2014

share your stories



You know what's funny? Besides clowns? (Which aren't always funny, but that's beside the point.)
What's funny is blog counters. I have installed one, and it says I get between 0 and 5 hits daily. But the blog counter itself, run by google, says I get between 50 and 100 - not necessarily on one day, but it counts the hits per page. Is somebody having a decimal point problem?

But it doesn't matter. I don't write to see how many people like my writing. Curious? Sure! But I write for other reasons. At the end of the day, it helps me focus on what really mattered during the day. And, it gives me a chance to work on my writing skills. At the end of the day, what really stood out in the day? That's what's worth writing about, remembering, dissecting. finding hidden or deeper meaning. If the muse wakes up, then the poetic or wandering wonderer will write, but lately it's just been little ol' me, talking about the day.

So what about today?
I walked out to the garden and compost bin and nothing bit me.
A friend and I talked about what will happen to our bodies when we die.
Two customers stopped by to get their dresses. One went home happy. The other needs a bit of tweaking, but she went home happy, too.
The wine at my left hand is good. And gone.

But back to my original comments. We all want to be noticed, right? One way or another? Affirmed that we actually exist and matter? At the same time, we're curious about each other. Which is why I write, and why you read it. Now. All of you anonymous readers...do your own writing. You have stories inside you. Every customer who comes in...when they tell me what they do for a living...and I comment they could probably write a book about some of the things that go on with their job...they all roll their eyes and say "oh yes". So. Dammit. Write your book. Or blog. Share your stories! 

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

creepies and crawlies



What kind of monster is lurking in my garden? Every time I go out there something bites me on my feet. In the beginning, I didn't connect visits to the garden with the foot bites. I first wondered if it were bedbugs, but common sense said no, not that. Not trusting common sense, I tore apart the bedroom, and found no evidence. Next up. Spiders? Tiny spiders that may have built a web home near my computer desk? Where I often sit barefoot? No, not that. Swept the bejeebers under the table, still got bites. Critters in my shoes? Nixed that. Sprayed the insides with bug spray. Still got bites.
I knew they weren't mosquitos, bees, wasps, or fleas. I'm familiar with those bites. These weren't them.
And then I connected bites with visits to the garden. Squash vines are surrounding my compost bin, and I have to wade through then to dump the compost. The leaves are about 6" high, and all kinds of mosnters could lurk under them.  I always wore shoes, by the way. When I didn't go out there, I didn't get bit. By the way, I never felt the bites; only the itching, and several hours later. Lordy those things itched!

So today's experiment. I slathered SkinSoSoft on both feet, put on shoes and socks, and sauntered out to the garden.Nervous, I stomped on the leaves where I needed to stand to deposit compost. Several hours later, no evidence of bites.

On the subject of critters...I made a snake for one of my neighbor's boys. His brother was the one who wanted the doll, but he isn't inclined in that direction. We decided on a snake. He chose the fabric. Yesterday he got his snake, and I'm told he held onto it for the entire day. I didn't think he'd do that, but he did, and now we're buds. I love that. 

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

a different kind of consumerism



The internet. I can't imagine life without it. Well, that's a little strong. All I have to do is remember life not too many years ago. I love having access to so much information, now that I've learned how to evaluate the quality of that information. The problem is...I'm interested in too many things! And there's so much worth learning! And so much art to see and appreciate!

When I encounter someone who has taken a different life path, such as doctor, forest ranger, professional musician, financial advisor, engineer, research scientist, environmentalist...I almost always think that I want to do that, too, in my next life. If there is a next life.

The deeper problem is this: I can easily spend the day absorbing information, knowledge, wisdom generated by others, and am enriched because of that. But that means I haven't got off my butt and contributed my own information, knowledge, wisdom. So that would make me a mere consumer. Yikes! 

Sunday, October 05, 2014

soul growth



We were invited to a show yesterday evening, with Steve's quartet as the guest quartet. At the after party, we got to hear them again. I have to say this: they could sing color into a black and white world. Sure, Steve's my son, but it's a lot more than that. When they are on stage, their singing spirits are with us in the audience, sitting with us, clowning around, singing to our hearts. There is no ego left up on the stage. All four guys are like that. So many words I could say to describe them. I'll just make one more comment. When we got home and I went to bed, I dreamed some of the most empowering dreams I've ever had in my life. Yes, they do encourage my soul to grow.


Friday, October 03, 2014

life



Speaking of dying...
today might be the day
for the summer garden, that is.

It is 70 degrees now, dropping to 40 degrees tonight. Other than the lovely garlic harvest earlier this year, the tomatoes and peppers were a glorious bust. Deer. They decimated the garden, and I didn't have the wherewithall to stop them.

On the other hand, I composted the innards of a butternut squash at some earlier time, and now I have squash vines surrounding my compost bins, with at least a dozen squash ripening.

 I guess I'll take a lesson from that. Nature finds a way to keep life going. At least until the sun novas or the asteroid hits us. But even then. If the earth disappears, as one day we know it will, the materials will be strewn throughout the local universe to eventually coalesce into another sun, or planet, and perhaps life will begin again. Just think! My atoms will be part of that renewal! Of course, those atoms that I called mine actually belonged elsewhere before they coalesced into me...

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

one day



one day I will die
maybe something good awaits me
or maybe simply...
nothing
the same nothing
from my point of view
that existed before
my birth
I won't know until it's my time
or not.
it's ok
how hard can dying be?
people die every day
even babies die
without taking dying lessons
so I guess I'll get through it ok.

I'm not depressed
nor morbid
just interested
and sometimes it feels good
to talk about it
because dying is not a disease
it is a passage

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

not gods



This is somebody else's story.

I had not seen her for probably two years. She's a client, and I see her when she needs alterations. But here she was, across the workroom table, telling me her story. She had cancer; non Hodgkins lymphoma. I am unfortunately quite familiar with that cancer. I asked her how it was found, knowing it isn't always found easily. She had been to her doctor and complained of shoulder and neck pain. He had her x-rayed, and when they didn't find anything, he referred her to a pain specialist. At least he did that and didn't tell her it was just old age, or in her head, or some such. But she didn't go to a pain specialist. She wanted to know what was causing the pain. Her next appointment was to her gynecologist; not for her shoulder, of course, but for other...routine stuff. She mentioned her shoulder pain. He had her get an MRI. And then another. And then he referred her to an oncologist. It turned out she had four significant tumors, none of which, fortunately, had adhered to any internal organs. Her shoulder pain? One of them was pressing against her spinal cord. After several months of chemo, she's now cancer free. Imagine if she'd taken her first doctor's advice and simply went to the pain specialist. Maybe the pain specialist would have explored further, but what if not?

Doctors aren't gods. They don't need to be obeyed without question. I'm glad Diane insisted on being on her own health care team. She's alive because of that.

And, she'll get her blouse back in two weeks. May she have many years in which to enjoy it.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

dolls



A little kindergarten boy went to bed very happy tonight. He likes dolls, and he borrowed one of mine. I asked him if he'd like to help me design some other clothes for her, and he picked out a fabric. Today I called him and asked if he'd come on over. I think he got to my door before the telephone line went dead! He has the doll again with her new dress, and I just got a tearful note from his mom. Gratitude. His style is safe with me. Besides. I like dolls too!

Friday, September 26, 2014

book?



My heart weeps a bit.

My book has been on hold for a couple of months while I've been busy...happily busy...pursuing other projects. I knew I would return to the book, though.

And now I have.  A young woman, a friend of one of my sons, announced she has breast cancer. I asked her if she'd like for me to send to her the book as far as I've written it to date. In her response, she said she has always felt a certain kinship to me and my gentle fierceness. I'm not even sure what gentle fierceness is, but I'll be sending her the book as a pdf.

And in the middle of my exuberant wine making, bicycling, fabric work, I feel the pain of the past. A gentle pain, though, not only of remembrance of discomfort, but also remembrance of touching the eternal.


Thursday, September 25, 2014

because I can



Occasionally I hear comments about how I'm always doing something new. And yes, I am.  And at this time of my life. Of course! And why? It's simple. Because I can. Period. One day I'm gonna die, and if I'm lucky enough to contemplate the end of my life as it's occurring, I don't want to have to think about the things I could have done...but didn't.  For whatever weak reason.

And so. Yes, I will learn to make beer. Because it's there. Because it's in the realm of things I can actually learn to do. Not like gymnastics or horseback riding or teaching a graduate course in philosophy or playing in the New York Symphony. I'll make my first batch of beer. After that, I'll either make another kind of beer, or go on and learn something else. SO many things to learn, and to the best of my knowledge, I only get one to do this life once.

What kind of beer do you like? 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

mountain paths



looking in the mirror at where we've been
after 70 plus years
looking back at the mountains I've climbed...
figuratively...
sometimes the path has been difficult
and I've groused, bitched, moaned,
and sometimes yelled or cried
but where I stand now
(and I love where I'm standing now)
it's all good
even the shitty parts
because they got me to here.

which is why I like to say
life is good
even when it's difficult

Monday, September 22, 2014

best and worst



The best part of the day?

Maybe working with a young man with autism. He wants me to make him a cape for his visits to a Renaissance Faire. He will go as a paladin knight.

Or maybe it was chatting with a new client, listening to her talk about her short stint as a model. I suggested she should write a book about her adventures; she said she couldn't do that, she'd need a ghost writer. Well, I'm not looking for a new project at this time.

Or maybe it was delivering a dress to a lovely young mother. She came with her tiny baby and her own mother. Three generations of women comparing notes on childbirth, surviving babies...

Or maybe it was racking my young peach wine. One small glass left over, which I enjoyed. Yes, it was young, not clarified, yeasty, but it was still peach wine, and I'm not really picky.

The worst part of the day? That's easy. Stinkbugs. 

Sunday, September 21, 2014

two worlds



Connections again. A client was here, and we were assessing the length of her dress. She wasn't too sure - it needed to be modest as she would be sitting in the front row of a church choir, which would be seated facing the congregation. I had already pinned it up per her showing me the length she thought she wanted. I had her sit in front of a mirror to assess for modesty. She was still a bit uncertain. I was getting ready to tell her that if I saw any discrepancy in the hem length as I was preparing to cut off the excess, I'd err on the side of longer rather than shorter. But I didn't need to tell her that, because at that moment she asked me to do that very thing. So here's the intriguing thing; I had never before formed that thought to share with a client, and never before has a client asked me to do the very thing I was preparing to tell her I was going to do.

I live in more than one world; the world I know and understand, and the world I don't.
Don't we all?

Saturday, September 20, 2014

connection




still thinking about the owl
they've called back and forth in the trees behind our house
for several years
and I frequently go out back and look for them
and listen to them
but this time
I walked out back
with the thought
that maybe this time they'd fly out of the trees

and this time one of them did

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

not my favorite day



It was not a good day, but the day isn't over yet. We'll see.

Bike ride.

Though the weather report showed fog here, which was true enough, it also stated the sky in Chillicothe was "partly cloudy", with "mostly sunny" later in the day. Now I know what they mean. It was partly cloudy, and the other part was foggy. Bleah.

That wasn't the worst part. The drive down was difficult, with construction congestion, accident congestion, and farm equipment slow downs. Plus, we fussed a bit about how to handle the map app.

But that still wasn't the worst part. We got on the trail, and soon enough got lost. Yes, we knew there were signage issues, but when we saw a sign on the trail pointed to where the trail picked up again across the road, it took us on an uphill gravel driveway to no place in particular. Took out the map app, which pointed us in a different direction, which we took, and ended up on another uphill gravel driveway to somebody's house on a hill.  We encountered another person on a bike, who pointed us in the direction we wanted, but it wasn't what we wanted. Took out the map app again, found the trail, and enjoyed maybe two minutes of riding before we encountered steep hills, much steeper than we've encountered on other trails. I ended up walking, which isn't the end of the world, but still...

And so, we deal with the hills and turns, cross the road cattycorner to where the trail picks up again, and end up going downhill right close to a busy truck route. Not fun. My source said the trail would be uphill, and that wasn't happening, plus the truck and traffic noise, with no buffer of trees, was just not pleasant. Downhill now meant uphill later when we'd already be tired. So we turned around and headed back to the trailhead, and that was the end of it.

By the time we got back home again we started to see a bit of blue sky.

Time for a beer. And as annoyed as I am with how this day turned out, it's still a good day. I have a home to come home to. Not everybody does, ya know.


Sunday, September 14, 2014

poetry



I wonder where my poetic voice has gone. Vacation? Rebellion? Asleep? Bored? Dead?
And then I look around at the poetry in my life.

The bird feeder. Today I saw a flicker, a downy woodpecker, and a nuthatch, in addition to the usual visitors.

The great horned owls. Their voices have begun again in the trees behind our house. I heard them this evening, and went outside to pinpoint where their calls were coming from. I wondered if they might fly out from the trees, and guess what! One of them did! Right over our yard. A first!

So perhaps my poetic voice is sitting in the audience, taking in the poetry all around.

Life is good.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

curmudgeonly observations





We sat in the stadium - visitors side - last night to watch a high school football game. My granddaughter is in the marching band, which is the only reason we attended. I don't care for football games, crowds, noise, and being out at night. But I do care for family, so willingly did the family solidarity thing.

Steve sat there and commented the last time he sat in the stadium was for his high school graduation...28 years ago. That was meaningful. But I have a son who graduated 28 years ago? He's that old, now? I'm that much older, now? How does that happen!!

Marching bands are not what they used to be, which is neither here nor there, I know. When I marched, we actually marched, played march music and other upbeat pieces, learned new music for every home game. Today? Well, they still march into the stadium, but when they're performing, whatever they're doing is not the marching I'm accustomed to. They're not so much a marching band as a posing band. With girls skipping between the band members waving flags.

And they play the same music every week because the half time performance is more about a rehearsal for a band competition at some future date.

Yeah, I'm sounding like an old curmudgeon. But the kids are having fun, bonding through some active and healthy outdoor activities, and the parents are watching and cheering them on.

Friday, September 12, 2014

changing things around



The bikes were loaded in the van, water bottles filled, bike bags outfitted. And then we noticed a flat tire on the van. George pumped it up and took it to the shop to get it repaired. Forty five minutes the man said; I asked him to call as soon as possible because we're going to take a bike ride. He called back in fifteen minutes. Really? Cool! But he couldn't fix the tire. The nail is imbedded in the sidewall. So. Bike trip delayed again as George took it to Costco where we had purchased the tire and had a warranty. The good part? Well, a couple of them. The sky remained overcast all day; not the kind of day where I like to ride and take pictures. The other thing? I'm glad we got the tire taken care of before we really needed the van for something more serious than a bike ride.

I'm glad I have a lot of things I like to do, and that riding my bike isn't the only thing. It makes switching gears a bit easier.

Bike ride rescheduled again for next Tuesday. Third time's a charm, they say.

Life is good, even when I don't get to do what I planned on. 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Aaaahhhhh



It has been a loooonnnnngggg day. One of the dresses that went out the door was as big and complex as a wedding gown, but wasn't one. I took a chance, she liked the dress as I finished it, and thank goodness it's gone. She's happy, I'm happy, and I've got some room in my workroom again. The other dress that went out the door? As small as the first one was large, the fix was just as complex, but I got'er done. Good. And finally, a little girl's flower girl dress that I needed to keep expanding because she's apparently in a monster growth spurt. It'll be done tonight and gone tomorrow.

And now. At last. The bike ride we put off is on the calendar for tomorrow. The day will be cool and dry, the sky will be perfect, my riding companion is the love of my life, and when we get home I won't have any dresses screaming to be finished.

Aaaahhhhh........

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

today



Today's bit of gratitude: a weather radio. It went off at 8 in the morning, and it's not what I want to hear when I've only had one cup of coffee. It turns out it was a flood alert, which is never an issue where we live. Yet I'm grateful for the radio. We got it a couple of years ago when summer tornadoes were doing a hell of a lot of destruction in the plains.

Today's jewel: sitting at the kitchen table, watching a papa cardinal feeding it's young'un. Twenty minutes of that before papa flew away, with the youngster right behind him.

Today's adventure: discovering a wine making supply store right down the road from us. We walked in, got acquainted with the store, and I discovered I just might get into making beer, too. Some beers I like, some I hate. He explained how I can control that. The good thing is this: my wine is going to take a year to mature, but beer only takes five weeks. Wonder what my bro would think if I handed him a bottle of home brew next time he visits.

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

predictability



We didn't ride today. The sky was overcast, our spirits were a bit overcast, and I had enough work to do to cause me to rethink my decision to ride today. We're rescheduling it for Friday.

It isn't easy sometimes to change my mind. Ya know? Like when somebody says "that's not what you did before", I tend to think of it as a criticism. Where'd that come from? Am I the only one to think predictability is a virtue? So when I planned the ride, got the maps loaded onto my phone, had the trailhead picked out, etc, it took a bit of energy to suggest we wait a bit. Until Friday. Wanna take an intown ride? Neither of us were inspired. Blame it on the full moon, yes? Or I could do what my conservative friends do....blame everything on Obama. Sheesh.

On the other hand, peach wine is fermenting on my kitchen table. About three gallons; just a small batch...

Monday, September 08, 2014

briefly speaking



Hoo boy tired tonight!
Four dresses out the door today. Actually,  three and a half. Don't ask.
Started some peach wine.
Made final plans for a bike ride tomorrow, trail head in Chillicothe.

and that's all I've got for now.
sweet dreams, y'all.

Sunday, September 07, 2014

standing in the need of words



what to do...
what to say...
or not say...

I post a picture on facebook of a spider web. Here is the conversation that followed:

Terry: Amazing what GOD created.

Bruce: Terry - didn't the spider create it?

me: God...shorthand for the love, the light, the energy that is ALL-THAT-IS, and the spider is the local manifestation of ALL-THAT-IS, so, uh, you're both right...

Bruce: Well i was just wondering - because if god made that spiderweb - and not the spider - then in the same vein - that must mean that god made every single piece of art that I thought I'd made all these years - me being a maker and a creator...so I was hoping to get Terry to admit how amazing it was that god made all of my art - even though it's got my name on it...

Terry is a facebook acquaintance, an old man who is currently taking complete care of his paralyzed bed ridden wife. He's really old school religious and conservative, but I don't hassle with him. He's got enough on his plate as it is.

Bruce is my friend - gay activist, artist, shaman. Who can sometimes be outrageously confrontational. I don't want him to piss off Terry. But I also understand Bruce's position, and his words are truth.

This I believe:
All paths lead home.
Home is not what any religion says it is.
We're all on our way home.
Some of us take longer, some not so much.
But time is an illusion anyway.
So who cares?
So...godspeed and safe journey!




Friday, September 05, 2014

number talk



Numbers! Argh!

Camera f stops: the bigger the number, the smaller the aperture. I can hold that information in my head, but I cannot for the life of me work with it on the fly. Every time I consider f stop, my brain has to go through the understanding with words, numbers, and visuals before it becomes a useful tool.

The relationship between f stops and shutter speed is even more complicated. Here goes: as the aperture decreases (and therefore the f stop increases), the shutter speed increases to insure the same exposure. Did I get that right? I hope so. I ran my camera through all the settings to see if it were true. It is.

The problem is this: I don't just want head knowledge. I want to be able to use that knowledge quickly when in the field, and my brain just doesn't do "quick". I talked to George about it. His brain thinks in words and numbers, so the information is quickly available to him if he wants it. But mine isn't. How to resolve this...

Here's the scenario I described to him: I'm at Inniswood, taking a series of landscape shots, which my camera does without even thinking. But then I see a particular flower, and I want a close up without distracting background. So the background must be blurred. My slow moving left brain remembers that a blurry background requires a larger aperture, but how in blue blazes do I work through the intellectual understanding quickly to take the picture? God love George for thinking outside the box that is his own brain. He suggested this. If I only want a small piece of the picture in focus, then dial for a small f stop. That's it! That's all I need to remember.

It's not just cameras. It's almost everything. I'm not content to just know something is so. I need to know WHY it is so, and when I know that, then the knowledge remains lodged in my own headbone.

knees



My day began at 2 a.m.
Pain.
Knee pain, but that in itself isn't a big deal. Old knees are fussy, and sometimes if I don't position them just so, they start to ache sometime in the night. The fix is to roll over and sleep on my other side. Hey. It works!
But not this morning. The pain was strong, and no positioning in bed alleviated the significant discomfort. So...to the bathroom, pop a pain pill, and then sleep returned.

It reminds me of a night of knee pain 20 or 30 years ago. Yeah, I can remember it. Intense pain woke me up. I had to go into Lamaze breathing to stay on top of it. With George's help, I was able to get through the night. The next morning my walking was limited to some pretty severe limping. What happened! I got into the doctor and here's where it got interesting. He examined my knee, listened to my recollection, and said I had a (don't remember the name) that was basically about something that floats around in my knee. Not a problem, and it'll go away on its own. Which it did. But this is what he also said...."I've never observed one of these (whatever it is), so if it happens again, please try to get into the office as soon as possible so I can observe it."

Pain. Sometimes the best we can do is find the humor. 

Thursday, September 04, 2014

wedding thoughts



My days are full of alterations, it seems. I guess I'll always have work if I want it. Lately I've had a glut of mother of the bride frocks. Remembering my own very modest wedding, I find it amazing the amount of time and money women put into their weddings these days. George will ask me once in awhile if I wish we'd had a fancier wedding. No, I don't wish for that. We've had (and have) a marriage that is much more interesting than any preplanned ceremony could possibly be.

And something else. Almost every bride that comes to me is already living with her guy or already has children. I have no problem with that, though that was unheard of when I was young. I think young folks today are more realistic. What is a ceremony, anyway, other than a public acknowledgement of their commitment to live together as a family? Which presumably they've made before the ceremony itself. 

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

pigs and rhubarb wine



Finally, a day away from my alterations work. The four of us piled into the car and chattered our way to Breitenbach Winery. Going through Amish territory, we passed maybe a dozen Amish horse and buggies. Must have been shopping day.

And here's what I know now that I didn't know before...

Rhubarb wine is mighty fine wine. Dandelion wine is not. Never was, but now that I've tasted it from a winery I like, it is settled. The wine is not for me. Never. Ever. No matter how mellow they make it, it is still reminiscent of licking the floor of a barn. No, I've never licked one. Doesn't matter. I know.

Showing Chester White pigs at a county fair. Who knew! I'll let you guess why the farmer needs a toothbrush to show a Chester White. No, not for the pig's teeth.


Monday, September 01, 2014

a packet of pins



I'm reading a biography of John Adams and his wife Abigail. At one point he was traveling to Philadelphia, and Abigail wrote him a letter begging him to find and send to her a packet of pins. Because of the war, they were in short supply. Wow. A packet of pins. What would she think if she could sit in my workroom with me? Pins. Sometimes when we buy a men's shirt, it comes folded and pinned, and probably most people throw away the pins. She would probably be appalled.  She would possibly also be appalled because most people don't sew now.

Three hundred years from now...I wonder how things will have changed. What kinds of things will I find appalling? I guess I'll never know.
Perhaps it's better that way.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

silence



loneliness
when I'm with somebody
but that somebody,
physically present,
chooses, instead, to stare at his phone.

which reminds me...
most of the people we pass on bike trails
whether walking or riding
are wearing earbuds

I try not to judge,
it's just not my thing
but I have to wonder
if more and more people
aren't comfortable with silence
or the sound of crickets and birds
or even the silent music of the universe
swirling around them

another kind of loneliness

Friday, August 29, 2014

treasures


It seems the older I get, the closer I get to my personal day of passage, the more treasures I encounter in my daily life. Maybe encounter isn't the best word. These things have always been here, but now I'm more aware of them. Eckhart Tolle would probably say I'm getting better at living in the Now.

But today...
breakfast with a very good friend. Perhaps my best friend. A soul sister. Two retired ladies, sitting at a table,
listening intently to each other's stories, absorbing the words, the emotions, the wisdoms swirling around...
cackling a bit about things old ladies have a right to cackle about...

Within our relationship is another embedded treasure, one which I've held close to my heart, and now for the first time have shared with her. We were sitting on her sofa one day, just talking about the stuff we talk about. Our topics may seem ordinary to an observer, but the roots grow deep in the unseen underground. Except this time some of it was seen by me. I was listening to her, looking at her, and superimposed over her was a crystalline structure, with each intersection where facets came together was a point of light of one color or another. Yes, I saw that. No, I don't do drugs. I guess my third eye opened in love and I saw her soul.

Was it real? Define real.
I saw it, and it warmed my heart.
I shared it with her, and it warmed her heart.
Warmed hearts are real.
I offer no explanations other than this: the world needs hearts warmed by love.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

bike ride

Today's big deal? A bike ride to Galena for breakfast. The weather finally relented and we had a relatively cool, low humidity day. 




We saved up our energy to see if we could pedal all the way up the hill on the way back. Didn't make it, but I could get further up the hill than I've ever been able to before.
Someday...



Tuesday, August 26, 2014

variety

 

A day to celebrate variety!
Two mothers of brides, among other things.

The first? Petite, wearing a seriously elegant gown. As I pin and mark the hem, we talk about her daughter's wedding. She and her daughter are arguing about who will arrange the vases on the tables for the reception. I suggested that if that is the worst disagreement they have, they are living a charmed life.

The second? Very big. Not obese, exactly, just a big boned woman; happy, energetic, her own woman with no pretenses. Her gown...is like a cross between Cinderella's pumpkin coach and a prom dress. And orange with lots of tulle. But she loves it, and because of that, she actually looks good in it! Do you have your shoes so we can determine the hem length? Oh, those? Yes, she says. They are her sandals; men's sandals, but that's what she needs for her feet, and anybody that doesn't like it can shove it. Well...ok, then!

They were both a lot of fun. And then, after they left, I returned to the dress I'm currently hemming. It's actually a dress, not a blouse. Very very short, but her ass isn't hanging out. It looks like a nightgown in the babydoll style. I showed it to George. He asked what she wears under that, and I told him I presume she wears pretty panties. Lordy. I'm more covered than that when I go to bed!

Life is good. Especially when I keep my opinions to myself.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

zzzzz

  

melatonin...
where have you been all my life?

It is so comforting to know that I'll be able to sleep through the night and wake up refreshed, regardless of whatever stresses want to dance in my brain

g'night, all. I have a date with a dream...

Saturday, August 23, 2014

and now there are four



Walk into my workroom and you will see four sewing machines on my tables: two straight stitch machines, a serger, and a coverstitch machine, which is my new acquisition. I am definitely not the little old lady down the street who does alterations for pin money. What the hell is pin money, anyway????

I'm getting a lot of knits for alterations; even prom and homecoming dresses are increasingly coming to me as lycra wear, and need special stretch considerations for their hems. Thus my coverstitch machine. Here's the cool part: I contacted the machine shop a few months ago, letting them know I'd be in the market for one before the fall homecoming season. I don't think they paid attention to that. But I did. I called again today, ready to buy. I'd done my homework...knew which machine I wanted, how much it would cost, what it would do. It turns out the shop has one; someone had ordered one a month ago, then never came in to pick it up. Now it's mine. The shop is relatively small; they aren't going to have a selection of coverstitch machines as floor models. But they had the one I wanted, and I got it for a great price. They needed to sell it. I needed to buy it.

Live is good.
Oh yes...the bride came in today to get her gown. Life is good for her, too. I like it when that happens.

Friday, August 22, 2014

beer trumps wine today



Well, that happened! It was one of those days, and I sit here, not with a glass of wine to celebrate a day well lived, but with a bottle of beer to wind down from a day endured.

I had overbooked my time a bit. My fault, I know; it's hard sometimes to get a handle on just how long things take in my alterations business. Today I knew I had to finish a wedding gown, and figured there would be enough hours in the day (and energy in my body) to get it done. She was scheduled to pick it up at 8 pm. I didn't jump on it first thing in the morning, figuring that I could ease into the day gradually.  I went to my workroom, put the dress on the mannequin, and worked on the hem. Hems. Two layers of chiffon and one lining layer. Each chiffon layer measured out to 12 yards wide. I timed the first layer: close to two hours. And then the second. Somewhere in those hours I took breaks to stretch out my back and shoulders. There's just no way to do the work without hunching over. With two hours remaining, I still had to close up the bodice seams, shorten the waist ribbon, and sew a tuck into the shoulder seams. I got the whole project done and bagged and billed by 7:30 pm.

She never showed up.
Her wedding is next week.

I did my part. The rest is up to her.
The beer is cold and good. 

Thursday, August 21, 2014

be


What must it be like to sit for a few hours and watch the ocean and sky?
Always changing and always the same, maybe.
Isn't that what life itself is?
Always changing
different times, different people, different stories
and still always the same, somehow.

Sometimes in my wanderings, I sit on the moon and watch life on earth.
I cannot see the people any more than the couple in the photograph can see the drops of water.
It's good to be grounded in the present day, feet on the ground, knowing who we are.
It's also good to be grounded in the everchanging eternal Now
part of the flow
part of something so huge and awe inspiring that all we can do is...
be. 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

practical poetry?



My words haven't been particularly poetic lately, according to my own standards. Perhaps my standards need to be revised...

We rode our usual 10 mile kitty bench ride today. I was able to pedal into a burn and sustain it for a time, and George timed it. Because he always times our rides. He told me it was my fastest time ever. I'll never be fast; it's not about speed. It's instead an indication that I'm becoming even stronger.
Riding my bike, feeling the "whee", feeling muscles doing the work, feeling the happy buzz that follows...that is poetry, too.

I finished hemming and bustling a particularly complex wedding gown, and I know the bride will be delighted. There is poetry in that, too, the feeling of creative accomplishment, the anticipation of joy...

Maybe just being alive is poetry. 

Sunday, August 17, 2014

beauty close to home



He's five years old, starting kindergarten in a couple of days. And he's possibly gay. I suppose that's not a given; I'm not, there are none in my family that I'm aware of, so I don't necessarily know the facts. Nor do I need to. But he prefers dolls, pink, and feminine mannerisms. Is that a real thing? Feminine mannerisms? So much I don't know for sure. Nevertheless. He was over here, spotted a doll I had made, and really truly wanted to borrow it for the night. Sure! Just today he was over here again, and we talked a bit about the doll. Yes, she can visit with him for a few more days. Would he like to help me make another one? His eyes sparkled. And then I showed him the bag of fabric scraps we'd use to make her clothes, and I invited him to choose whatever he wants. His mom called me later, saying he's just totally obsessing over this, trying to decide the colors based on what he saw in the bag. So one day he'll come over and we'll work on a second doll. He's a twin, and though his brother isn't into dolls the way he is, he'd like to come over and work with me, too. Sure! Gladly! And their older brother, beginning sixth grade, seems to think I walk on water. Why? I don't know. Maybe because I have that junior high teacher ornery attitude. Anyway, he's coming over one day, too. We'll be making gods eyes, and he's pretty excited about that.

It's been a pretty good day. I may not be able to do big things, but I can do this thing, and it pleases my heart to know I can help create a bit more beauty right here close to home. 

Saturday, August 16, 2014

And to think that I saw it on Mulberry Street!



Dr. Suess's Mulberry Street. It was one of a big selection of story books that I'd read to my young sons; one on one side of me, another on the other side, and the youngest one on my lap. They took turns choosing the book, and one of them always chose this one. I don't remember the story itself, only the fact that it was the longest story to read to them, and I'd struggle to stay awake to read the whole thing. Out loud. I tried turning two pages at a time. Nope. He'd always catch it.

I think when I'm old and struggling, I'll have a copy of that book nearby, and when he comes to visit, I'll ask him to read the story to me. All of it. Every single page. Every day that he's here. 

Thursday, August 14, 2014

71 + 6



71 years and 6 days. When I was diagnosed with my first cancer at age 42, I wondered if I'd live to be 50. I wanted to be around when my kids graduated high school. And then, as time went on, I wanted to be around to see my kids established in their own chosen lives. And then I wanted to greet any grandchildren that might happen. Now, I want to live to see my grandchildren grow up.

One day I'll run out of things like that. I know 71 isn't particularly old. Mom was in terrible health and she lived to be 88. But I've already buried several friends, including my closest friend, who had a heart attack at age 76. Most of the funerals I've attended for my peers have been because they've lost cancer battles. And I've had cancer three times and am in good health. Life certainly gives random blessings and curses, it seems. But you know what? They aren't really blessings, and they aren't really curses. It's just the variations in life.

But today is a good day. I feel muscles growing as they take me on bike rides. Katydids are singing outside my window. A client is very happy to get newly renewed clothes. We'll sleep with the windows open tonight, listening to the cricket symphony. George is still enjoying his singing. My chickies are all doing ok. I have people I love and who love me back. Yes, today is a good day.

May whatever happens to you not be seen as blessing or curse, but as a journey. An adventure, if you will, with no particular guidebook other than the one you might choose to write along the way. 

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

go to



We spent the day on a bike trail.
Wanna see?
Go to http://wanderways.blogspot.com/.

That's where I'll be posting bike rides from now on.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

my guy



That's my guy. Look at his face: the quiet amused smile, the focused eyes, his hands ready to aim his camera. That's what the mountains do to us, yes? No frown lines, no stooped posture. Mountain air!
On the other hand, it might just be because the structure behind him is the men's restroom, from which he just emerged. Ha!

This was taken somewhere in the Cascades, specifically near Mt. Rainier.
A short walk takes us to a viewing ledge where we saw the sun playing late day peek-a-boo behind the clouds surrounding that very expressive mountain.