My life has a superb cast but I can't figure out the plot.
~ Ashleigh Brilliant

Friday, February 6, 2015

SkyWatch Friday: "Light up the Darkness"

I've been away from blogging for over a month and absent from SkyWatch Friday much longer than that. I mostly blame a lack of inspiration in both cases. Our usually flamboyant skies have just been "meh" for much of the winter, with no pretty sunsets, dramatic storms, or interesting clouds. And while I can almost always count on our sunrises, this one from Jan 22 was the only one that motivated me to grab my mothballed camera...

Pretty, but compared to our typical sunrises not deemed worthy of a SkyWatch post!

But when I got up this morning and looked outside, I finally saw potential. Lots of great clouds and some golden light on the horizon. If more colors appeared, we'd be in business!

But for a long time, the sky and clouds just kept turning yellow. Till finally… 

Not bad, but still short of its potential (I expect a lot from our skies, don't I?) :-) But at last, it lived up to its promise...

I took this one a little over a minute later, just before the colors began to fade...

It was a sunrise that took Bob Marley's advice on what would have been his 70th birthday:

And it was a sky finally worthy of SkyWatch Friday!

Saturday, January 3, 2015

The Capricorn Kid

"Old people are scary and I have to face it -- 
I am old and I am scary and I am very sorry about it, but I don't know what you do." 
~Dame Maggie Smith :-)

Well, I have a few years to go yet before I plan to consider myself "old," but today I advanced a year closer... and I'm definitely scary since I woke up in the wee hours with a sore throat and that "oh no, I'm coming down with some sort of pestilence" feeling. Fortunately it's very wintery outside and so we're all snugged in cozy-like, enjoying a quiet day of puzzles, movies, and football. My kinda day, despite the creeping crud.

Anyway, to mark the turning of another digit on my body's odometer, here's a photo of me taken just before my first birthday...

The Capricorn Kid

I don't remember ever seeing it before finding it a few months ago, tucked in an unfinished album of my Mom's, but it became an instant favorite. It may be ancient history (I mean really, look at that vintage Nov 1962 issue of Good Housekeeping in the magazine rack!), but some things never change: the hair has gray in it now but is still every bit as feral, that chip-on-the-shoulder body language looks awfully familiar, and I wear the same expression on the rare occasions I have to dress up. :-)

And since no birthday blog post of mine would ever be complete without a Capricornian homage to one of my favorite critters, here are some of the lucky rescued goats of Someday Farm B&B, where we spent an idyllic week during our trip to the Pacific Northwest in 2013...

Scuffy, who became my immediate BFF, nuzzling her buddy.
(I nicknamed her Scuffy because of the bald scuff mark on her throat, 
which she got from spending so much of her time doing this!)

Scratching Scuffy's sweet little nubbin head, so happy among the critters!

Bill was my other favorite among the goats, and I love this photo I took of him

Well, I'm all partied out now, and must return to my spot on the sofa with its handy box of tissues and bag of herbal throat lozenges, to watch the NFL playoffs as BW puts the finishing touches on this year's yummy birthday cake! Washed down, no doubt, with homemade elderberry syrup. Cheers!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Rule Breakers

Happy Holidays

Well, "Project Clean Up My Big Bunch O' Blog Drafts" went well when it came to reviewing and deleting, obviously not as well when it comes to completing and posting! Most of them turned out to require more time and effort to finish than my hibernating self has cared to expend, but here's one that was nearly done and that I had a lot of fun putting together. Hope it'll provide as many chuckles for you as it has for me! But should any of these tempt you to go forth and be naughty, remember: Santa's watching. :-)

No fair!

"Hell, there are no rules here. 
We're trying to accomplish something."
~Thomas A. Edison

Let's face it. Some rules are good and necessary, but some just seem made to be broken. 

Sometimes subtly...

And sometimes not...

And lest you think it's just dogs who are engaging in acts of civil disobedience...

Photo by Marcia M. Olinger, Caledonia, Michigan

Adding "please" and an emphasis on "not" doesn't always work either...

Then again, sometimes you're just better off complying...

Monday, December 1, 2014

Hitchin' a Ride

Happy December!

The Monday after Thanksgiving was usually the most demoralizing day of the year in our UPS household. But not this year! Pretty sure I have yet to see BW's feet touch the floor since yesterday afternoon! :-) I thought we'd be going all-out with our decorating and other holiday activities since this will be the first year of our married life that BW's available to truly help with and enjoy it. But I think we're both still decompressing, because neither of us feels inspired to go to all the trouble. So we've decided to enjoy a restful, simple, minimalist holiday season and spend some time on various de-cluttering and organizing projects. Thought today I'd begin with my blog, sorting through the ridiculous number of draft posts I never got around to finishing and/or publishing, and finally delete, complete, or post them as appropriate. 

So to start with, here's one that's been languishing in my drafts since May 2013! No idea what came along to interrupt my train of thought for a year and a half. :-)

When I first saw James Neiger's incredible prize-winning photo Great Horned Owl and American Crow...

I couldn't help but wonder if a similar sight gave NASA's engineers this idea! :-)

NASA's Space shuttle Endeavour riding piggyback atop a Shuttle Carrier Aircraft, 
lands at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Facility in Southern California on 20 Sep 2012 
during the final shuttle ferry flight.
Photo credit: Z. Pearlman

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

2014 Fiber Arts Show

As my long-time followers who pay attention to such things know, October was the month of Sheridan's annual Fiber Arts (mostly quilts) show, which I usually document each year in multiple posts. But this year, not so much. I was underwhelmed when I first ran into the library at the start of October to do some camera-less recon. Usually the place is ablaze with an abundance of brightly colored, lively-patterned quilts, but I found the overall effect of this year's display comparatively drab. A couple of quilts caught my eye right away, but I couldn't even get to one of them (the Halloween one, which will make its second blog appearance here) because there were two people working at a table in front of it who wouldn't budge, and just gave me crusty stares as I tried in vain to peer around them at the quilt. (I've never seen anyone working at that table before, the vast majority of tables and work areas being on the main level). Adding insult to injury, one quilt glorified killing animals for "trophies," complete with a couple of ghastly photos of their victims pre- and post-slaughter. Ugh! After the quilts I spent a few minutes checking out the other fiber arts and was very drawn to a couple of them, but frankly I left the quilt show disappointed, miffed, and with no intention of returning with my camera or doing a post on it this year.

But the show is at the library for an entire month and I am a frequent borrower of books and DVDs, so I couldn't not look up and see the quilts on the mezzanine above every time I was there… and a couple of them, at least, kept catching my eye. And later when my friend Pam shared a compelling description of her favorite quilt, I realized I'd missed it completely. But perhaps most galvanizing of all, I was seriously pissed about not getting a good gander at the Halloween quilt! So I decided to give the show a second look and a second chance, accompanied this time by my camera as well as by Pam, as part of our "Apollo Picnic" outing...

The most colorful side of the mezzanine so the only one I'm bothering to post.

The colorful "Scrappy Tulips" quilt on the left was the first quilt I noticed on my initial visit, and it kept grabbing my attention on subsequent library runs. Its neighbor, "Twin Peaks," grew on me over time - its neutral pallet isn't as eye-catching, but the design and quilting are beautiful. I can easily picture this on an antique four-poster bed, a handsome centerpiece in a warm and tranquil bedroom, and it's probably the one I would have most wanted to take home...

     Left - "Scrappy Tulips"     
Pieced & Machine Quilted
Artist: Peggy Gable
Quilted by: Becky Stedtnitz 

Right - "Twin Peaks"
Machine Pieced
Artist: Marge Hamilton
Quilted by: Laurie Sheeley


I shared a photo of this next quilt in its entirety on my Halloween post, but since a couple of you mentioned then how much you liked the border around the center panel, I thought I'd share this other photo. As luck would have it, in photographing the center panel I unintentionally captured at least some of that much-admired border around it...

Detail from "Who's Watching
Pieced Quilt
Artist: Tammy Johnson
Quilted By: Karen Van Houten
From a kit designed by Heidi Pridemore


And here was Pam's favorite, and the one she most would have wanted to take home with her. It hadn't caught my eye and I wouldn't have photographed it but for Pam pointing out the level of difficulty and years of toil it took to create. And the more I looked at it, the more fond of it I became. It really is a sweetly old-fashioned and pretty quilt! It's one I would have taken home with me too, but I think Pam would have cheerfully (and rightfully) tossed me over the balcony railing to nab it for herself. ;-) Thanks, Pam, for getting me to appreciate and photograph it!...

"Crazy About Hexagons
Artist: Jane Rader
Quilted by: Janis Fall 
"These 50,000+ hexagons are mostly representative of the 1830s time period using reproduction fabrics. The toile border helped even the sides out for the binding. 
It took about 10 years to make and was a great carry-along project."


This last one was my favorite quilt overall, for its fun, creative, original (and vegan, yay!) theme and, of course, its eye-candy quotient - because you know how I am about eye-candy (not to mention fruits & veggies!)...

"The Jars"
Machine Pieced
Artist: Janet Goss
Quilted By: Janet Goss
It took Janet five years to collect the vegetable and fruit fabrics used in the quilt, 
which she enlarged from a wall hanging to king size.


And here were the two fiber arts examples I loved… no coincidence that they're both autumnal (I love autumn's colors!)...

"Birches I"
Fiber Painting
"The inspiration for this piece was my neighbors' back yard."


And last, but certainly not least, perhaps my overall favorite piece in the show… 

"Fall Fairy"
Counted Cross-Stitch
Artist: Norma Just
"My daughter bought this cross-stitch for me to make for her. She also got the Winter Woodland Enchantress… Look for this one next year if my eyes hold up!"

Don't know about you, but Norma is my nominee for Mom of the Year! And I'm hoping she has a good optometrist, because I want to see her Winter Woodland Enchantress next year. :-) I was pleased with how my photos of it turned out, but they still don't capture how truly breathtakingly beautiful this picture was. I took this closeup so you could see the tiny gold beads in her hair, necklace, belt, and blowing around some of the leaves (click on it, or any of the photos, to see larger versions)...

I may just have to buy this pattern for myself! :-)


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  • THE HUMANE GARDENER ~ Nancy Lawson
  • THE WORLD WITHOUT US ~ Alan Weisman

There is still strong in our society the belief
that animals and the natural world have value
only insofar as they can be converted into revenue.
That nature is a commodity.
And that the American dream is one of unlimited consumption.
There are many of us, on the other hand,
who believe that animals and the natural world
have value by virtue of being alive.
That Nature is a community to which we belong
and to which we owe our lives.
And that the deeper American dream is one of unlimited compassion.

~John Robbins, "The Food Revolution"

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