Saturday, May 29, 2010

Golden Oldies

Valery feeds the ponies at Grandma's house in Fallon. I bet Valery can still tell you the names of the ponies.
Valery and her doll -- I think this one was named Janet. Valery's dolls were named after my high school friends -- the blondes were named Linda and the brunettes were called Janet. Scott has restored the high chair and is using it for his year old granddaughter, Scarlett. BTW, this image is reversed.

Brother Rick in his Davy Crockett coonskin cap. He loved it!
(This image is reversed, too.)

Grandma Minnie Blair celebrates her 85th birthday and the housewarming for 5401 Leona St.

Mrs. Hugh Brown, and a woman I believe is a reporter from the Oakland Tribune, and my grandmother Minnie P. Blair at her 85th birthday celebration. She and Mrs. Brown were neighbors in Tonopah, Nevada.

Hail, hail, the gang's all here, Christmas 1961.

My mother, Ruthanne Blair, feeds the duck and chickens on Leona Street. I love this picture.

Cleaning out closets for the garage sale, I found these old slides. I used a little hand-held slide viewer and my camera to get these pictures.

Robin's egg blue

I always thought that Robin's egg blue was a light subtle shade of blue. Not so, these four eggs are a vivid, gorgeous color (one is completely hidden behind a leaf). I'm also surprised at how large they are. While I took the picture the mother sat on on a roof top scolding me and then dive-bombed my head. I don't blame her.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Odds and Ends

Ben is selling odds and ends we found around the house. We hope to earn money for our vacation to an undetermined location. So far, we have enough for a tank of gas that will get us to Kansas City for Rachel's graduation. While Ben takes his turn manning the sales table, he fills in his idle hours with a puzzle book. When it's my turn, I read a novel, and Logan plays games on his laptop. While Logan was sitting at the table yesterday, a lady come up to him and asked him if he was a college student!

. . . and odd ends.

Here you see the east end of a west bound dog. Only he got stuck in the doggie door. Cinder is now officially too fat to fit. So, he pushes through as far as he can, then backs up, still stuck in the door. This pulls the door open and he wiggles free and exits the opened door. Not bad for a fat dumb animal.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Virtual Graduation

I "attended" Tom's graduation today via webcast on the UMass Dartmouth website. When Tom's name was called and he crossed the stage to receive his Master's degree in Public Policy, I hit the print screen button. When it was all over, I opened up a Word document and pushed "control v" on my keyboard and saved the photo. Since my printer isn't working, I sent the Word document to Logan's email address and printed out the picture. Then I scanned the photo back to my computer and into a Picasa Web album and uploaded it to my blog. That's a lot of machinations and a very blurry image. But, still it's a miracle! So is Tom's graduation -- I'm so proud of him (and Nichole and Mallaika for supporting his pursuit of a dream). Now, he says he still wants to get a PhD in philosophy and/or Economics and maybe a law degree. Maybe he'll never grow up. He expects to continue working for UMass next year.

I can't wait to hear from Nichole and see her pictures -- they will include photos of Mallaika's dance recital this morning.

In other academic news, Rachel's graduation is coming up on June 19 and Ben and Logan are now officially on summer vacation -- no summer school this year, just band and football camps.

Not only was watching Tom's graduation in real time a miracle, but at the very moment he was crossing the stage, Ben and Logan were outside mowing and weed-whacking the yard WITHOUT PROMPTING!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

What Next?

I just finished this quilt Saturday and now I have to decide what to name it and what to do with it. I used several different names while it was in process, but still haven't quite decided. Partly, it depends on what I end up doing with the quilt.

In the past, I have known during the construction process who would end up with the quilt, but this one is an orphan. It is a "Saturday Sampler Block a Month" quilt from my local quilt shop and I worked on it (off and on) from October, 2oo8 until May 2010. For some reason, it has not been my favorite quilt and I've had many struggles with it. But, now it's done and I find I like it after all -- I think of it as kind an ugly duckling that grew up to be a swan. Some possible names:
  • Housatonic: kind of convoluted, but let me try to explain. In 1963, I worked in the radio physics lab of Stanford Research Institute. We were analyzing data from 1962's nuclear bomb blasts in the South Pacific. These tests had code names (now de-classified). Starfish was the first and largest of the blasts. Later tests carried the names of rivers in the Northeastern United States. One of those was Housatonic -- it was one of the lesser blasts.
  • Stars Over Africa: Not sure if this is politically correct -- black quilt representing dark continent with black people. I'm considering donating the quilt to the church to raffle off as a a benefit for digging wells to provide clean drinking water closer to where people live in Mozambique.
  • Sophomore Slump: I made this quilt during the second (sophomore) year of my quilting journey and I think it did represent a bit of a slump in my enthusiasm. I'm happy to report that seeing the project completed has turned that slump around.
  • Bete Noire (this program won't let me put the accent circumflex over the first "e"): a black beast, literally and figuratively -- that's what I'm calling it for now. And now I must decide what I'll do with this king-sized (92x108) black beauty. Click on the photos to see larger images and more details such as the variegated quilting thread and the tiny multi-colored polka dots on the backing. Suggestions for names and fate are welcome.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Send in the Clowns

Logan is mowing the lawn with the lawnmower I bought this spring because I felt silly paying the neighbor boy to mow when I had two resident boys as old as the neighbor was when he started mowing for me. I think Logan is wearing the 3-D glasses we got when we went to see Avatar. He is supposed to be wearing safety glasses, but I guess these protect him from any two dimensional movies lurking in the grass.

The mower was assembled by the boys' grandfather and he gave them safety and technique lessons when they started to mow. The owner's manual said we should change out the engine oil from the thinner grade used by new mowers during breaking in time to the standard grade which will be used the rest of the mower's life. This mower does not use gas and oil mixed as single stroke engines do. So, we reached the five hour mark when Ben was mowing for hire over at Grandpa's. I sent the replacement oil along with him and asked him to change it out (with Grandpa's help). Mission failed. Grandpa did not have the owner's manual and could not figure out for the life of him how to drain the oil. No drain plug could be found. I suggested that perhaps one drained it from the same place one filled it, but was told that was unlikely. Today I went back to Lowes and inquired about the oil changing process and learned that indeed, one tipped the mower over and drained the oil from the same spot that one filled oil. One should also take care to exhaust the supply of gasoline before attempting this tipping maneuver. I effectively communicated this to the boys who ran the mower dry and then proceeded to drain the oil -- by tipping the mower over on the driveway and letting the oil run down the pavement. Not a pretty sight. We have applied detergent and scrubbed and hope for the best. Sorry if this seems sexist, but I'm left wondering about the difference between mental processes in the male and the female brains.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

It Works!

The Anti-Screen-Watch (Pat. Pending) device works! The secret was the addition of two braces, seen in the lower right corner of the upper left quadrant and the upper left corner of the lower right quadrant. The device is secured to the TV with tape which will no doubt fail at some crucial moment, but for now, all is copasetic.

The Sky is Falling and Other Newsworthy Events

Blurry image of wonderful grandson receiving tremendous honor (along with about 50 other kids): student of the month and maintaining a GPA of 3.75 or better. Would have been a 4.0 except for Mrs. Warden, English teacher of legend. She was also the deal breaker for Ben when he was in the 7th grade. Although the mere mention of her name makes grown-up former students quake, both Ben and Logan list her among their favorite teachers of all time. They say yeah, she's tough, but you learn. And both boys are great readers and writers. So I guess she did her job.

In other news, a couple of days ago, I ventured downstairs to the John Deere room (yes, there really is such a place in houses in this part of the world), and found the floor very wet. Jumping to the most logical explanation, I thought a pipe, either sewer or clean water had broken under the cement floor. Or maybe a spring had spontaneously erupted forcing a geyser through the concrete. What else could it be? I went to bed with palpitations, trepidation, and fears of having to vacate before the house came tumbling down into a developing sinkhole. The next morning , I tried to talk myself out of panicking and into taking an analytical practical approach to the problem.
  1. First -- scope: how big was the problem. Well, it covered about 2/3 of the John Deere room floor, but didn't go under the wall into the family room. No puddling was evident in the outside surrounding area, although the ground and grass were still damp from recent rain (clue).
  2. Second -- source: fresh water or sewage? Not sewage, no odor and no areas outside where the grass was greener. Also, not much color. Okay, it must be fresh water. The water bill had just arrived and it was very normal, no evidence that a lot of water had been running out of a pipe. Checked the meter -- it wasn't running while everything was apparently turned off. I used my carpet shampooer to suck up as much water as possible and again confirmed it was not sewage. But, a fair amount of water was sucked -- several gallons. No doubt a spring sprung up under the house. And I went to bed the second night, wondering if I would rebuild or relocate.
  3. Third -- check progress: the carpet is nearly dry, no new water.
  4. Tentative conclusion: the punching bag, weighted with water leaked, or rain came in during a recent heavy storm. If I knew whether or not the water was chlorinated, I could figure that one out.
  5. Next step: wait and see. BTW, nothing was damaged -- nothing was stored in the affected area and the floor is all concrete and indoor/outdoor carpeting.
I'm afraid my panic is a symptom of age and a creeping feeling of helplessness and I hate it. Just as I was certain my tooth pain was terminal bone cancer, I was certain the flood meant my house was falling down.

Last news item: yesterday evening, Ben found a bird with its foot ensnared in wire near a nest under our deck. In thrashing around the bird had also injured its wing. Ben released the foot, but because the bird couldn't fly, he held it in his cupped hands and brought it in the house. I wish I had taken a picture. I don't think there is any greater image of helplessness than a bird in the hand. He finally decided to put the bird back outside in a sheltered place not far from the nest and wait and see. We'll never know the end of the story because the bird was gone this morning -- either it recovered or became prey.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Brag, brag, brag

Sometimes I think I spend a lot of space bragging, but it's my blog and I can write whatever I want! To continue along that path, here's the completed quilt for the Springfield library made by my Applique group. We made it as a token of appreciation for the meeting space the library provides. The quilt will be displayed on rotation to all the local branches. I made the blocks located at A1, B3, C2, and D1 on the quilt. It was fun and nice to see it finally completed. A group project takes a lot of coordinating and consensus.

Yesterday evening we attended Ben's year end band banquet and he received his block letter. I am always amazed at how lucky we are to have such a good school. I love the social framework the band provides and how kind the kids are to each other. I look forward to three more band years, and so does Ben.

Expect more bragging during the next week -- school is winding down and award assemblies are coming up. Be forewarned.