When you don't have a coat closet by the front door, don't want to take up much space, and don't have much money, it's amazing what you can do with a board, heavy-duty nails into studs and screw-on coat hooks. I can vertically hang one dozen coats/jackets plus scarves and a very small space. Best DIY project I ever did.
Gas is too expensive to go out for only one errand, so I bunch them. I started at Wells for some cash, took that cash and went to Michael's where I had a 20% off coupon and bought lots of yarn to make baby items for charity.
On my way to ARCO--yes, that is the cheapest gas around--I'm
stopped at a light. There are two young guys with a sign asking for
money. Now sometimes I will actually give people a dollar or two,
functioning on the "it could be me" principle. Just as I'm about to
reach for my purse, one guy starts rolling a joint. I rolled down my
window. "Dude, seriously? Why would I give you money when you
obviously have enough to buy weed? Dumb!" and the light changed. The thing I didn't tell him was that you see cop cars on that street all the time as it is the access to two freeways. DUMB!
No matter how much yarn you have, you never have just the right color you need for that current project. And, when you do as much charity crochet as I, you burn through yarn at an amazing rate of speed.
I have a lot of baby items to crochet for two different charities. Pastels are not my favorite colors, but are perfect for this. So, with a lovely 25% off coupon in hand, off I went to Michael's. I returned with a savings of almost $14.00 and a HUGE bag of yarn from which many, many squares, baby hats and blankets will be made.
It's not easy getting a cat to yawn. The first shot was a lucky catch and good timing. The 2nd and third were me doing lots of yawning trying to get him to yawn back. It took time, but it did work.
I like tools. I like having the right tool for the job. The pruning saw in the middle gets a lot of use in my yard, and is always very gratifying when I'm done. Then, from top to bottom, I have a metal saw, jigsaw--love my jigsaw--and cross-cut saw for wood. Saw-blade teeth are a very good thing.
Tea is not my beverage. However, the minute I catch a cold, this little tea-for-one teapot comes out of the cupboard and is put to very good use.
Cup after cup of echinacea, eucalyptus and gypsy cold ease tea are alternated with hot water with lemon and honey. I am always amazed how much the little pot holds. But what I best love is how hot it keeps the tea, even down to the last cup.
Where did I find my little teapot? The Lillian Vernon gift catalog many years ago.
of various types. The outside-bottom two are what I'd call true grafitti found on a local newspaper dispenser. The bottom-middle and middle-right are examples of "tagging". The left-middle and top aren't graffiti in the true sense, but I loved them. I thought, at first, the building at the end of a culdasac in an industrial area next to train tracks was a school. But the word "Nika: A Place to be Safe and Happy" and the photos of children made me curious.
The building is part of Alameda Family Services (AFS) DreamCatcher Runaway/Homeless Youth Services Division. Rather than a school, the building is homeless shelter for kids. And Nika...
"Nika Dawkins St. Claire died at the age of 62 in an automobile accident in Flagstaff, Arizona, on July 21st,2012. She ...was a passionate and tireless Program Director of the Homeless Youth Services Shelter under the auspices of Alameda Family Services. She oversaw "The Dream Catcher Safe Place Alternative for Homeless Youth and Sexually Exploited Minor Females." Ever the advocate of youth facing enormous challenges, Nika felt this campaign's building for youth was critical and she believed its completion was finally within sight."
Our simple group sent me out looking for the graffiti I see everywhere without really looking at it. I am astonished that it led me to a place that is a reminder of the harshness of life. But it also introduced me to a woman who believed in making a difference. The dream of her building has been realized. Clearly, she also touched the lives of many troubled, lost children.
I didn't know you, or even about you, Nika Dawkins, but may your work be carried on and may you rest in peace. You have touched my life as well.
I could do groupings of threes for days very easily. Trying to narrow it down was the challenge. Finally, I decided to go with some copper molds.
I have a wonderful kitchen. It doesn't have granite counters, or a Viking stove, or cherry cabinets or a hardwood floor, or stainless appliances. But it has more ROOM and counters and cupboards than I've ever had before. And it has a a dishwasher.
Unfortunately, it also has white walls. I hate white walls; particularly empty white walls. eBay became my instant friend. Working on a a slightly French-country theme, and loving warm metals; i.e., brass, copper, and pewter, started me thinking of copper molds.
The usual chicken or fish mold wasn't going to work for me. I wanted something a bit different. I was amazed by the selection of molds I found on eBay and, if I was smart and quick, how affordable they could be.
These are only three of my collection. I call these my "Home, Sweet Home" set. They hang over the pocket door between my kitchen and dining room. Although they really aren't French country, they make me smile every time I see them. That's good enough for me.
Traveling light always restricts what souvenirs I can bring home with me but these are a few I couldn't resist.
The tin London telephone box is a coin bank. I've always loved the English telephone boxes and when I saw this had representations on all four sides, I had to have it. Besides, a real telephone box wouldn't fit in my suitcase. Now had I seen a blue police call box....
I love gargoyles and always look for them on buildings. Needless to say, seeing all the gargoyles in France was heaven. I visited Notre Dame Cathedral three or four times while I was in Paris so when I saw this figure of a Notre Dame gargoyle, it was certain he was coming home with me.
One of the first fast cars I drove was a real, 1960s Austin Mini-Cooper that had been imported from England. Buying the mini-Cooper salt and pepper shakers, while in London, was a given. In their honor, Gabbie--Francophone and Anglophile that she is while being a loyal American-- has a new crocheted cowl in the colors of the USA, Great Britain and France.
The line-up of the refuse bins occurs every Wednesday in my neighborhood. Happily, Oakland recycles so we have large gray bins for recycled matter (paper, cardboard, plastic, glass, cans, bottles), a large green bin for organic matter, and smaller burgundy bins for non-recyclable trash. As there are six units in my building (one gray and burgundy bin per unit, one green bin for the building) the line can be rather long.
Then comes Thursday morning. Some people use a different service. They come at 5 a.m. and ensure everyone on the street is wide awake. For the rest of us, pickup is later. This is really nice when you don't remember to put your bins out the night before. Burgundy and gray pick up happens around 11 a.m. and green pickup around 3 p.m.
Unfortunately, the empty bins are not as neatly aligned. Getting them all off the sidewalk by 6 p.m. Thursday night, is always our goal so we're not blocking the sidewalks. At least until next week.
My friends are always such a blessing. Sometimes, you have a friend who comes with an added blessing of providing me with fresh fruit and vegetables straight out of her garden.
I love it all, but tomatoes; oh my, tomatoes. I sometimes have them sliced on toast for breakfast. Sometimes, I cut them up and mix them with cucumbers, basil, a bit of salt and a creamy white balsamic dressing for lunch. Or sometimes, they are diced and mixed with cooked peas, shrimp and pasta with olive oil and basil for dinner.
My second favorite would be the apples. Sliced very thin and with a touch of salt, they are better than potato chips. Sometimes instead, I'll slice them and eat them with cheese; they are so wonderful that way.
Mustn't forget the green peppers. Those I dice up very finely and freeze, using them, along with diced onion and herbs, in scrambled eggs for breakfast...or sometimes for dinner.
However I prepare them, it's wonderful to have a friends with a garden that is sometimes bountiful enough she can share that bounty with me.
Photo-a-Day - Sept 2012 - Day 20: Man-Made
I am every mindful of, and grateful for, the creative and talented people who conceive, design manufacture and sell all the things that make my life easier every single day. We too often take them for granted, being so accustomed to them, we no longer see them.
I love to crochet for charity. In order for me to spend time at this hand-made art, there are many man-made items I would have a hard time doing without:
- The collapsible tables on which I keep everything close to hand, even suspending tote bags from its frame
- The large ball winder making working with skeins of yarn less troublesome
- A ruler, scissors with threader and support glove ensure my sizing is correct, ends securely woven in and my hands don't become sore
- A pen and pencil for making notes
- Acrylic yarn; required for charity work as it is non-allergic
- Laptop for Facebook, Ravelry and streaming shows from Netflix to keep me company and prevent eyestrain
The table next to the sofa which holds
- Telephone, needle case, calculator, copy stand, squares templates in 6", 7", 8" and 12" to ensure my squares are
- Full-light spectrum floor lamp
And, of course, my sofa itself, where I spend so many of my waking hours either crocheting or reading.
So, thank you, all you very talented people. I appreciate each and every one of you.
It is always a good day when I can park right in front of where I'm going, get in perfectly in two motions--one back then forward; yes, there were cars in front and behind me--and be within 3 inches of the curb. Too bad the place I was going was closed. Sigh.
Having a neighborhood cafe is a wonderful thing.
Having a neighborhood cafe with really good food, generous portions
and reasonable prices is an excellent thing.
Having a neighborhood cafe with really good food, generous portions
reasonable prices and having it owned by Sia who teases and
gives great hugs
One ham and swiss on wheat with lettuce, tomato and mayo; a large order of macaroni salad and the best peach smoothie ever to go please, Sia. and no, I won't give you all the money in my wallet, silly man. I love going there.
One month before my 50th birthday, I commented to a friend that in spite of having given a lot of stitched or crocheted pieces to others, no one had ever made anything for me. [Note: I am always a bit of a whiner leading up to major birthdays]. My friend, bless her heart, took my comment and ran with it.
At the time, there were five of us who spent a good deal of time together. She gathered together the other three, each of whom I'd taught to needlepoint, and told them they should make something for me.
Priscilla found a chart with three fairies, isolated one and painted the canvas onto Penelope canvas (14/7 count). They split up the work according to who had the time. It was passed back and forth, occasionally with a 3 a.m. drop off or a FedEx overnight shipment. In the middle of it, Jody had laser-eye surgery which was remarkable as she did all the 7 ct. petite point for the face, hands and feet.
One day, post Jody's eye surgery, she was at my place when Georgianne called. "What are you doing?" "Jody's here and we're stitching." "Jody's stitching? She can see?" said Georgianne with a slightly odd tone. At one point I asked Georgianne if I had done something to offend everyone as no one would play with me. She called the others and told them one of them "Do something with her." Remember that I had no idea this was going on.
They had scheduled my celebration for High Tea at the Ritz. They also literally finished the piece, took the photo which became the cover of the card, Priscilla calligraphed the quote:
"Nothing can be truer Than fairy wisdom.
It is as
- Douglas Terrold
signed the card, wrapped it and picked me up. To say I was surprised and that many tears were shed would be an understatement.
My love and thanks to Deborah, Georgianne, Jody and Priscilla. My appreciation to Kathy who was then the framer for Creative Framing and Gallery who cut all the filets and did such a wonderful job with archival framing for this forever piece.
This qualifies as strange on two levels. Finding a spider in my tub isn't unheard of, but it is always a little strange. However more significant is that it is strange, being as bug-phobic as I am, that you would find me willingly photograph and post a big at all. It's amazing what you can do without ever really looking at the photo.
Music has always been part of my life; from Mom playing the piano when we were kids, to making up song of my own while on the swing set, being part of church choirs when young and school choral groups and choirs from junior high through high school, to being a member of the Distaff Singers several years' ago. I've sung it, I've listened to it, I've played it; the last quite badly.
The love of fantasy came to me much later. Vern, part of my team at Businessland and then good friend, and I would go book shopping together at lunchtime. He introduced me to fantasy, with Raymond Feist's "Riftwar Saga" and then a book which has become an all-time favorite "Fairie Tale".
Combining the two elements made this prompt an easy one for me. I love this globe-within-a-globe musical snow dome in itself. That it plays "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" makes it all the more perfect.
On my last day of my trip to London, I had enough time before I needed to be at the airport that I hired a black cab driver for a tour of the city. It was one of the best things I could have done.
It was early Sunday morning. There was virtually no city traffic. The driver asked what were my primary interests. History and architecture, was my answer.
On of our first stops was this: the Memorial to the Great Fire of London--more simply known as "The Memorial." For those of us who read historical mysteries, the Great Fire is something often referenced so seeing the Memorial was quite special for me. It is quite remarkable on two levels.
[from Wikipedia] "The Great Fire of London burned for three days, from Sunday, 2 September to Wednesday, 5 September 1666. It started at the bakery of Thomas Farriner (or Farynor) on Pudding Lane, shortly after midnight on Sunday, 2 September, and spread rapidly west across the City of London. It consumed 13,200 houses, 87 parish churches, St. Paul's Cathedral
and most of the buildings of the City authorities. It is estimated to
have destroyed the homes of 70,000 of the City's 80,000 inhabitants. Remarkably, there were only six verifiable deaths.
The Monument is a free-standing Roman fluted Doric column designed by the great Christopher Wren and Robert Hooke. It is the tallest isolated stone column in the world and was built on the site of St. Margaret's, Fish Street, the first church to be burnt down by the Great Fire. Its height marks its distance from the site in Pudding Lane of the shop of Thomas Farynor, the king's baker, where the Great Fire began. The west side of the base displays a sculpture, by Caius Gabriel Cibber, in alto and bas relief, of the destruction of the City; with Charles II and his brother, James, the Duke of York (later James II), surrounded by liberty, architecture, and science, giving directions for its restoration."
One can climb to the top of the Monument via a narrow winding staircase of 311
steps. Those of you how know me also know I did not make that climb.
This is another treasure acquired from my friend Edith Jones, about whom I spoke in "On the Shelf". This lovely oak table had been by the bedside of her brother, Lloyd. When I bought it, for some absurdly small amount of money, there were two problems with it. First, a jar of green ink had been tipped over and badly stained the top. Second, Lloyd had the dangerous habit of smoking a cigar in bed before he'd go to sleep.
The man to whom I was married, when I bought the table, was a finish cabinetmaker and carpenter. Because he loved history as much as I, he understood when I asked that he refinish only the top of the table enough to remove the ink stain but to leave as much of the cigar burns as possible. Those, to me, were a link to Lloyd and Edith; part of the table's history. I don't necessarily believe older furniture should be perfect. I believe they should reflect that they were well loved and well used.
When you look at the top of the table, all the dark marks, other then the plugs for the turned-legs, are burns left of Lloyd's cigars. The table, for me, is a forever piece.
There is no more perfect artist than nature. Yet the addition of this elaborate gold plaster-on-wood frame around a simple perspective really shows off the wonderful greens of nature, against the grey of the patio, the warmth of the new wood fence and the angled simplicity of the handrail and balusters.
The frame is one I received from my friends at Creative Framing and Gallery in Oakland. Another customer had brought in a piece they wanted re-framed in a modern manner. This frame was left behind but wasn't one the shop was going to reuse. Rather than throw it out, they were kind enough to give it to me.
It's just waiting for the perfect piece. Actually, I'm thinking of suspending it, as it is, from the ceiling in my main bathroom. Why not.
I've been thinking about this prompt for several days now. Hero is a word we've come to use lightly and somewhat indiscriminately, so I started wondering what truly is a "hero." The Oxford Concise English Dictionary defines it as "a person, typically a man, who is admired for their courage or outstanding achievements." The Chambers Dictionary--yes, I am a two dictionary person--defines it as "a man of distinguished bravery; any illustrious person, a person reverenced and idealized...".
That's all fine, but it also seems a bit trivial to me. I feel that word should have much more gravitas, more importance. My definition of a hero is one who is willing to put their life at risk to help others. To quote Spock from Star Trek--and who know I'd be quoting Spock--someone whose actions exemplify that "the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. Or the one".
Who then are my heroes? Particularly on this day when we commemorate September 11, 2001 and the loss of 2,606 people from 115 countries. I saw the Twin Towers being built, I went up in them, and I cried as I watched them fall. Our first thoughts are to the firefighters, police and transit authority employees who worked so hard to get people out of the towers and "Rick" Rescorla, the head of security for Morgan Stanley who died leading the evacuation efforts.He sang Cornish songs to keep up the spirits of those around him while
making sure they left the south tower after it was hit by one of the
Also to the 40 passengers of Flight 93 who knew with certainty they would die. In a true reflection of "the needs of the many..." they chose to die by overpowering the hijackers, giving up their own lives in order to preserve the lives of many others.
Each war, each catastrophe, each disaster has given us heroes; the soldier who protects their buddy, or who knocks out the enemy bunker pinning his comrades down on the battlefield. I was honored to know one such man.
Robert W. Woodward; the kind, brilliant, funny father of a past boyfriend, was also someone who had received the Distinguished Service Cross. His citation read:
"To Captain (Field Artillery) Robert W. Woodward (ASN: 0-389219), United
States Army, for extraordinary heroism in connection with military
operations against an armed enemy while serving with a Field Artillery
Battalion of the 1st Infantry Division, in action against enemy forces
on 6 June 1944, at Normandy, France. Captain Woodward, while on the
beach on D-Day, discovered an enemy casemate from which heavy fire was
being delivered on the U.S. troops moving across the beach. Exposing
himself fully to the view of the enemy at less than 300 yards range,
Captain Woodward jumped into a tank, required it to be moved forward,
and then directed its fire on this emplacement. He then left the tank
and, though completely lacking cover from the intense enemy fire,
proceeded through the barbed wire and up a sharp slope directly towards
the fortification. Captain Woodward fired his pistol into successive
casemate openings and forced surrender of 23 of the enemy. Captain
Woodward's initiative, personal bravery, and daring set an inspiring
example to his men and exemplifies the highest traditions of the
military forces of the United States, reflecting great credit upon
himself, the 1st Infantry Division, and the United States Army."
I'd say that qualifies. By the way, he also invented the liquid dispensing device seen in bars everywhere and the machine that made the lenses for Polaroid cameras.
Certainly there are civilian heroes as well; those who risk their lives to save the lives of others. In no way should their courage be minimized.
Going back in our county's history, we are a nation formed by heroes. Every farmer, tradesman, and merchant, be they free man or slaves, white, black or Indian, who fought for this country's independence was a hero. They faced off against the best-trained army of the time. They risked being hung as traitors and/or being killed in battle all for an ideal; a dream of independence. I am proud to include my ancestor among those men.
enlisted at Rhinebeck, New York on May 12, 1777, as a Private in the 4th
Regiment of the New York Line under Col. Henry Livingston. He served
for three years, being discharged on May 12, 1780. A part of the time he
served under Capt. Pearce and again under Col. Dubois. He took part in
the campaign against General Burgoyne and was present at the Balle of
Stillwater and at the Surrender at Saratoga.
Everyone has their own definition of "hero" and everyone's definition is true and valid. These are only a few of my heroes. There are many more.
It's the season of making scarves for the Iowa Special Olympics. Checking to ensure it's the right length, I've folded it in half, and laid out my large tape measure. Sure enough, 2'6" x 2 = a perfect 5' long scarf for some wonderful young Special Olympic athlete or their coach. Scarf #6 - DONE!
Where's our fog? The fog has deserted me so I can't do a classically eerie Bay Area photo. Instead, I've taken the print I have from Mephistopheles and added a little PicMonkey magic to make it more eerie than the theme suggests on its own.
I love being near the water. When I was younger, it was the ocean I sought; the size, power and majesty of it. Over time, I've come to prefer lakes and rivers. I love the quiet and tranquility. I love the way the trees can come right down to the water's edge providing that mixture of blues and greens.
I stumbled across this little lake last time I was in New Jersey. I couldn't tell you it's name or even exactly where it is other than somewhere in the Bernardsville area. None of that matters. All the matters, and mattered then, was it's beauty and it's calm.
My guest room does have a guest bed. However it is also filled with books and handwork items. The dresser is for needlepoint with one entire drawer filled with hand-painted canvas waiting to be stitched. Another drawer is given over to bags of perle cotton and working frames. One entire wall contains drawers, over 500 drawers; at least one for each color of DMC floss plus metallic threads and silks. It's a slightly sad sight as I'm not doing any needlepoint at the moment.
Photo-a-Day - Sept 2012 - Day 5: Damn Shame
It really is a damn shame there aren't more hours in the day. It's now after noon and I haven't begun to accomplish what I wanted to today. It's not that I'm getting up that late. There are just too many things to distract me, particularly this week. But all is not lost. I did get all five packages wrapped and mailed off to the auction winners. Let's see what else I can achieve today.
My living room used to be so neat. I took pride in the fact that someone could drop by and I wouldn't be embarrassed. Those days are SO over. Between charity crochet which has taken my house over with yarn, and Picture This! requiring photo albums constantly trolled for suitable pictures, this corner is..... Hey wait! That's where my shopping bags went!
Asymmetry used to make me very nervous. There, I've admitted it. Over time, I've become more relaxed.
I am not a blank, white-wall person. If there's a spot and I have a picture, that's where it goes. The placement of pictures is often determined by working around the furniture. I'm not about to sacrifice hanging a favorite picture because it has to be out of balance with the one next to it. If there's a spot, that's where the picture will go.
I had the long black dress, but found this wonderful asymmetrically-cut blue overtop. On the back I used glue and glitter to make a pentacle and a gold craft pen to surround it with the signs of the zodiac. I had found this large and wide length of black scarf with sparkles in multiple colors and another scarf with symbols of the goddess; black on one side, gold on the other. To top it off, I found a wonderful lucite walking stick with a clear orb top. I used to have multiple charms that dangled from it, but those are gone.
With straight, waist-length hair, a fantasy necklace around my forehead and dark eye makeup, a table with a bright shawl, my crystal ball, iChing, a candle and my Tarot cards. It was all quite effective.
My Dad! My older sister Nancy and I struck gold with our Dad. His job caused him to travel quite a bit while we were growing up and only recently did I learn how much he hated missing os many of our school events. At the same time, he was great when he was home and was the best at road-trip vacations, which I still love doing, and ensuring we saw as much of this country as possible.
I shan't say we didn't go through our rough spots. I was the 60's liberal daughter to a WWII veteran, Republican father, but over the years we've become closer than I'd ever hoped. He gives the BEST hugs! I am so blessed to still have my Dad. He's 92 years old, still looks great and is doing fine. Love you, Dad!
Photo-a-Day - Sept 2012 - Day 1: Abandoned Building
Abandoned buildings intrigue me. I wonderful at their history, their purpose, and the people who owned them.
I've passed this building in Sonoma a number of times. The forward building was clearly a garage, probably for farm equipment. But why the back slanted roof? What was use of the building in the back? It's clear that someone maintains the fence, yet the buildings themselves appear to have been unused for some time.
The other thing I found interesting about this shot is that, due to its greyed and weathered wood, the facade of the front building almost appears to have been shot in black and white, yet the photo is clearly in color and has not been software enhanced.
Do you find yourself wondering about the abandoned buildings you pass. Or do you just pass them by.
I am a reader and reviewer of mysteries; a compulsive hooker--the crochet kind, not the street kind--and one who never leaves home without my camera. I can be reached at:
firstname.lastname@example.org ------------ My reviews are seen by over 14,000 people/review. I am a Top 1% Reviewer with over 1,300 followers on Goodreads at http://www.goodreads.com/user/show/250195, as well as in the magazine Mystery Readers Journal, and on numerous online sites. My monthly email of reviews has over 500 subscribers. I started reviewing formally in 2004, spent four years evaluating manuscripts for Poisoned Pen Press, and was a paid reviewer for The Strand Magazine.