Monday, July 30, 2007

And what's sitting next to your bed?

Since Bekka inquired via comments a few posts ago and since it's been a while since I've written about books, I thought I'd share a smattering of what I am reading/might pick up and browse/have recently finished.

Now: Stardust by Neil Gaiman. Was going to ready Harry Potter 5 (yes, I'm only on 5) but didn't want to spend any cash right now for books. This was sitting about and hubby said it was a fun read, so I'm halfway through. It is fun. Very much like reading one of his comics.

Also reading right now but not pictured: Fools Crow by James Welch. For school. Pretty interesting and I'd probably really dig it if I wasn't having to really think about the questions I need to answer for my assignment ("How many treaties does so-and-so say they signed with the white man?").

And courtesy of the lovely Project Guttenberg, More Translations from the Chinese by Arthur Waley. Chinese poetry? I'm obsessed.

Finished: All the King's Men by Robert Penn Warren. I can't even begin to tell you how much I love this book. I shed tears when I finished it because I enjoyed it so dang much. Ummm, you probably won't have that reaction if you read this, but this novel really moved me and I'm still not sure why. His writing style suits me perfectly. That's really about all I can say.

The Selected Poems of T'ao Ch'ien. This is another one of my fave books of all time now. Beautiful, beautiful. Can't really say 'finished' because I keep returning to it.

Upcoming: what do you suggest?

The tale of the garden that went kaput and its (awaited) rebirth

My yard is in a mixed state. Usually the backyard is tolerably pleasing with an array of flowers across our hill that starts with irises in the spring, to coreopsis and cosmos, to white onions at the tail end of summer. Then the virginia creeper officially takes over and we end the growing season with a week of blazing red. Then the rest of the year, it officially looks like crap. This year, erosion finally won out. The cosmos and coreopsis didn't happen. The onions are an inch high, if they exist at all. We'll still have the creeper,'s creeper and invasive. Over the past couple years, I've tried reseeding the hill with drought tolerant wildflower mixes, planting assorted xeric plants and...nothing. My hill is officially dust, not an ounce of organic matter in it.

So I've been planning, gathering inspiration, and trying to figure out how to amend my hill with out it blowing away with the strong evening winds that tear across the yard and how to dig a hole deep enough for a tree that doesn't require a jackhammer.

Here's what I'm thinking: on the hill, try to get some sumac in as it is invasive so maybe I'll get something out of it. Add a couple of aspens. Some sort of hardscaping to help it out during the winter months. Grasses look good year round. Fill in the spaces with wildflowers for summer. I'm going to make a sunflower patch where the vegetable patch is supposed to be (but always gets nibbled away by Nora). I'm also going to make an evening garden that is full of white flowers by the patio (which I want to expand) .

And the inspiration:

white (via gardenhoe/sara) and here (from me)
sumac and here too (both from me)
aspen (via knitting iris...the butterfly dress doesn't hurt either...maybe if I grow a grove, I can knit one to hang in the trees. a girl can dream, eh?)
sunflower (via nessie) and here (this one from me)

Wish me luck, I'm going to need it. Or wish me superhuman strength so I can dig a hole through the boulder that comprises the base layer of our hill.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Pancakemama proud of Pancakepapa

Last night...hubby's last night of school. He is now on the road to teacher-dom. Over the next month, he will be making the transition from waiter to teacher. This also means we get to make the transition from seeing each other two nights a week to ALL OF THEM. WE HAVE NEVER, EVER HAD NORMAL NIGHTS TOGETHER IN THE ENTIRE SPAN OF THIS RELATIONSHIP, WHICH IS 16+ YEARS. Wow. I'll get to see how the other half lives.

Boo, I'm proud of you. I'll be jealous when it's you and Kidlet traipsing about the desert all next summer, all day, every day.

Oy vey, this means it will soon be my turn to attempt to finish this school thing. goal is to be done by the time I'm 45, so I've got mmm...6 years to go. Wish me luck.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Random thoughts of the morning or tell me how you really feel

--I hate feeling Kidlet getting stressed about going to school because I'm the one who said 'oh yes, I think she's going to love this' and now she tells me 'I don't like school' and holds back her tears to put on a brave face when I drop her off. I can't wait for this 'summer day camp' to end and have the real school start. Ok, just had to get that off my chest.

--Had to take an exam this morning. It was like pulling teeth to get me there to take it. I had planned on taking this thing way back at the end of May. Well, I didn't find out until I was there, taking the test, that I had studied for this thing totally wrong. I have taken this instructor before and he usually wants the grandiose theme-and-scheme of things. Well, today it was all nit picky stuff like "what's Alexander Hamilton's mother's maiden name?". A full 20% of my grade, right there...down the drain. At least I have a very solid 'A' on my written assignments to balance it out (a little).

--On the way back to my car post-exam, I walked through a neighborhood in which I would love to live (except for the fact every third house is a rental for partying college folks). Sitting under a huge pine tree next to one of these charming houses, there was a lovely elderly woman. Something about her really struck me...don't know if it was her friendliness, her beauty or her bright pink lipstick. Felt like I just wanted to invite her out to a cup of tea.

--Now I'm totally wiped out from the test taking. Looking forward to a quiet evening with my tiny family. Usually, we are only able to all get together twice a week since hubby has been "all school, all the time" for the past year. But next week, that will change. I can hardly believe it. Tonight: glass(es) of wine and knitting. Tomorrow: back to the writing assignments for school.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

The Bonus Round...Seven Random Things About Me

A few months back I answered this question but I'm pretty weird and random so answering this is like selling lamb tickets at a wolf carnival. So Emily, I'm more than happy to come up with another set!

1--My not-so-guilty pleasure in music is uber-cheesey 70's soft rock. Think "Evil Woman" by E.L.O. , "Sister Golden Hair" by America, "More than a Feeling" by Boston. Oh yes. I revel in this stuff. I grew up listening to AM radio where these were the staples.

2--Somewhat first LP was John Denver's Greatest Hits, my first 45 was "Le Freak" by Chic and my first tape was Golden Years by David Bowie.

3--I've met Charo. On several occasions. She is the sweetest, tiniest, bustiest woman you could ever hope to meet.

4--Somewhat related--I have a small reputation for refusing famous people. I've (tried) to kick out Jimmy Buffet from a high-falutin' cocktail lounge for violating the dress code (but the manager didn't have my back, he let him stay). I refused to serve Sting at the restaurant I worked at because we were closed and I had had a bad day. ("Not even a bowl of soup?" he asked plaintively.) Must have been a bad day because I do love The Police. Lastly, Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top asked if my friend Mikey and I wanted to go bar hopping but again, I was tired and cranky from a long night at work and said no. Gotta say, Billy Gibbons is one very nice, cool cat.

5--When I get dressed, I have a theme in mind. It could be "summer in Stockholm" or "Amelie", but I'm positive my end result looks nothing like my inspiration.

6--If I could live in any other time, it would be in a 1930s screwball comedy ala The Thin Man or My Man Godfrey. I wouldn't want to live in the actual 1930s (you know, the Great Depression, between World Wars, all that biz), but the sparkling drinking and dancing at supper clubs with gobs of money...that, I like.

7--I currently don't have a favorite color. This month I just really love them all. Last month, it was pink. (via gardenhoe/sara)

Sorry I'm so wiki-happy today. I got a little out of hand. I'm not sure if anyone really reads this poor little blog much anymore, so I'll just assume if you are reading this...consider yourself tagged!

Have a lovely weekend, all. I'll give it my best shot but I'm going to be studying for an exam on Monday (bleh!), but at least I'll study with a glass of wine in my hand (yay!).


I was going to write a post yesterday in honor of my Dad's birthday but it seemed like everything I wanted to do was too emotional, too over the top. He's been gone now for...what...2 years now? Crazy. I still can't believe it.

I just got an email today from the New Orleans Saints organization (yes, I'm a football fan despite how sexist and evil the culture surrounding it can be) reminding me that training camp time is here. It got me thinking about how excited I get for football season and how my Dad and I used to compare notes. He'd bet on college football. Me, I'd bet on the pros. We'd discuss our 'systems'. He'd do something crazy with percentages and I'd do research on wins/losses and how particular teams would come out post win/loss on home or away turf. Neither of us won much with football. There was one year when I was very very close to winning $35,000 in the big 'pick your pros' contest but alas, I dropped the win. Papa would occasionally win a hundred bucks playing the poker machines (when he, ahem, wasn't supposed to be playing the poker machines. Ha ha! A secret revealed, Mama!). But no big wins, no early retirement.

Let it suffice to say, I miss him and love him dearly, kooky fella.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

It was a very good day...

Being in the mix of one of the more stressful summers on record, I'm trying to take my vacations where I can. Whether it be 15 minutes in my book before I fall asleep at night or 3 hours at my Mom's house on a late Sunday afternoon, taking a break from all the pressures that are crowding in on me is a necessity.

Last night, Kidlet and I went to my Mom's house. She bought the grooviest kid's pool that looked like a crab, had a tiny BBall hoop and sprinkler fountains. We all splashed around, drying our feet on towels and blankets that I hadn't seen about 20 years. We opened one of my Dad's good wines (a 1997 red from Spring Mountain...amazing, I tell you). We ate shrimp, fishstix, salad and bread. I baked a berry pie. I forgot all my troubles for three hours. I call that a very good day.

Friday, July 13, 2007

92.31% of the way there...

From Dominique up in Canada. Love love love these colors. Also I like how one can interpret the shape in many different ways...sun, beach ball, swirl of a soft serve ice cream cone...
She wrote me a very sweet note on the reverse about my photos and knitting. :)

From Sanne in England. This one is amazing. The fabric on the card is an apron that she has cut up and made into a skirt. It reminds me of the song "Cactus" by The Pixies (one of my fave songs ever).

From Marieke in the Netherlands. Daisies hold a very special place in my heart; daisies are my mom's favorite and she carried them in her wedding. So there you have it. I love this.

From Diana at popcorn and sushi. The papers on here are beautiful and I LOVE the 'ideal girl'...I keep trying to figure out where she came from.

From our lovely swap mistress, Andrea. I can't believe she made 77 cards. Because I've seen them floating around flickr and you can tell how much care she put into these. The note on the back was so thoughtful and lovely and in the coolest handwriting ever. Can't believe it. Beautiful.

So I thought I had received them all but it turns out there's one lone card still wandering the summersphere. And that's just fine with me. It gives me hope that my mailbox will not just be full of bills and coupon mailers until the end of time.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Sit down, I'll get you a cold beverage of your choice.

Sorry I haven't been the good blogger lately. You know, things have been so busy. Work is kookoo. I'm dealing with the stresses of the tot going to her new school. (Oh, it's actually getting much better, thank you.) I miss my husband desperately as we see each other only on Saturdays and Monday nights. I need to get my sweet dog Nora to a vet to...sigh...get another lump looked at (and probably taken off for $500). But I still consider us lucky. Nora has had the cancer for a year now and seems to be doing really well. She spent all last night in the backyard chasing from one leafy nook to another, hunting birds. Speaking of the yard, it is a shambles. Dry, dusty and crispy. Our hill is eroding away and turning to a pile of crusty, desert dirt (very light on the organic matter) at the bottom of the hill. Can't decide if I just want to let it ride til next year or attempt to fix it during the hottest days of summer. And me? Let's see...I'm still dawdling over taking my exam for school (big surprise). I think I'll just make an appointment today, you know, just to have a deadline. I work better with those (sometimes). I started doing a little sewing. Yeah, crazy, eh? I started hand sewing a sock kitty from this book. Cute book. If only I had more time. Haven't knit a stitch in over a week. Very sad as I'm just a few inches away from finishing the socks.

Oh yeah, you might want to stay your distance. I'm sick. Sick in 100 degree weather with no air conditioner. Awesome!


Last order of business...

I received the last of my postcards from the swap. Sigh. I'm going to miss the race to mailbox to see what treats are ensconced within. I've been feeling completely beat up so I haven't managed to scan the cards yet, but hopefully in the next day or two. If you are wondering about your cards, YES! They have arrived and they are all beautiful.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Imagine this...a crafty post

We went to a little tie-dying party last week and while my creations did not come out as proper tie-dye (more Jackson Pollock, as Kidlet might say), it still added some color to some plain white stuff. When I saw the end result of Kidlet's tank top, it had a big white spot on the chest. It was crying out for adornment. I decided an applique was in order. Kidlet picked the fabric and shape, and I got to sewing. Granted, my work is simple but it really felt good to sew. I can definitely see doing more of this in my future. It was quite nice to start and finish a project within a half hour. If you are wanting any applique inspiration, try and get the book Applique Stitchery by Jean Ray Laury on ebay or at the library. It's awesome. I first heard about it here.

Even the back came out somewhat tidy. Success? We'll see how it comes out in the wash.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Thanks for the memories...

I've got more than my fair share of good 4th of July experiences. Here's a smattering...

--my dad, back in the 70's, wearing his British flag shorts. They were covered in itsy bitsy Union Jacks. I knew this was scandalous, but being 5 years old, I wasn't sure why.

--shopping for fireworks with my dad. Sure, there were the roadside stands by the grocery store, but we'd go to the bricks-n-mortar real-deal firework store.

--going to the 4th of July parade in 1976. My mom made a red, white and blue quilt that year (that is now a very very very shred-y affair and rides in my car for impromptu picnics). I think that's the year we all got sunburned feet because we were all wearing sandals. We put our feet in my kiddie pool for relief and ate hot dogs.

--watching fireworks go off over Dillon Reservoir. They filled the valley perfectly and were reflected in the lake. The sound would reverberate against the mountains, making it seem like four times as many had gone off. And we'd always smirk at the day tourists who didn't realize that, yes, a wool sweater was de rigueur for the evening as it would be about 40 degrees.

So, go eat your hot dogs (or Smart Dogs, in our case), drink a beer, and don't start any fires.

Three posts in one day. Have I lost my mind?

A.M. Fireworks

There's always the first firework where you aren't sure if it was the crazy kids down the street lighting off their own, or if it was an official firework but a bit of a dud.



Then the overblown finale. It's always too much. Kind of ridiculous, really. They could have spread them out for about 5 minutes and I would have been happy.

My favorites are the sparklers.

The past couple of days, I have been in super-stress mode.

Kidlet. Started. School.

Day One--the drop off went surprisingly well.

Day Two--the drop off went perhaps-not-so-surprisingly bad.

Day Three--today. No school. Thank goodness for small things.

I'm not sure what to think of it all. The first day we picked her up, they were watching a movie which surprised the hell out of us as it was stated in their handbook that they were anti-TV. Not that we're anti-TV, we just were surprised. The morning teacher hasn't been there when I've picked up so I haven't been able to ask how it's going. I have to get my accounts of the day from a rambling 3-year old. I have to remind myself that this is their 'daycare/summer camp' session and that it's not officially school. The 'real' teacher comes in next week and they'll start steps toward the Montessori materials. It also makes me feel a little better that another mom that I ended up talking to on day one said that her daughter was having some issues with coming back on day two. As my very wise Grandmother says "Wait two weeks. It will be fine." And so the wait begins. Sigh. I'll be happy when my insides start to unknot.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

The Postcard Swap--Round 2

How can you not smile when there's a recipe for play dough included? Leonie thoughtfully supplied one for me, knowing I have a tot. The tot also really like the sparkly flowers (as do I...mmmm....shiny!).

This collage is so beautiful and if you didn't know, we're all about the birds in this household this summer. This is from Rebecca.

This scan in no way can convey the delicateness of the drawing. It's a pair of peaches rendered on a page from The Joy of Cooking (jams and jellies section, of course). The reverse can be seen here. From Stephanie at ruby crowned kinglette.

I just received a couple more cards but I will wait just a tiny bit longer before I just go ahead and post them. I have to say, I'm happy that some of the cards are taking longer to get to me to stretch out the fun just a little longer. Then it will just be stinkin' old bills after that. Sigh.