Saturday, April 26, 2008

Seven random facts about me

I've been tagged by Lisa at Spirit Thing Studio to give you seven weird or random facts about me.
  1. My husband and I have driven through the state of Wisconsin so many times that we feel as if we should have lived there at some point, but we never have.
  2. My handwriting is so bad that my mother often claimed I should become a doctor. (She was a nurse for many years, so she was subjected to a lot of scrawls.)
  3. I prefer to be barefoot as much as possible in the summer. When I was a kid, in the summer I only wore shoes to go to a store, the library, or to work on my grandfather's farm.
  4. I am much more competitive than you would think. The thought of maybe not being valedictorian in high school put me into a tizzy my senior year, when I was doing lousy in physics. I got over it and graduated 3 percentage points ahead of the salutatorian. (I could have failed physics and it wouldn't have made a difference.)
  5. I love to look at other people's pretty rings, but I can stand only to wear my wedding band. I fidget with anything else on my fingers.
  6. I am currently on a vegetarian food kick, to the annoyance of my carnivorous husband and my treat-begging cat.
  7. Sometimes I toy with the idea of learning a new musical instrument. (I played clarinet and tenor sax in high school.) Piano intrigues me, but the thought of learning how to read chords makes me nervous. On the other hand, messing around with a tin whistle or a harmonica sounds like fun.
I'm not going to tag other people this time, because I tend to tag the same folks and I think they're getting annoyed with me! So, if you are reading this and want to play, please consider yourself tagged. Here are the rules:
1. On your post, link back to the person who tagged you ~ that would be me, in this case.

2. Post your assignment on your blog ~ seven weird or random facts.

3. Post these rules on your blog.

4. Post links to seven bloggers that you will be tagging (or however many number you wanna tag) :)

5. Go to those blogs and give them a comment on their blog AND let them know that you have tagged them.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Now my son is nine

On your ninth birthday:
tearing into a wrapped present with gusto,
happily discovering what you had hoped would be there,
and busily building a Lego monster before breakfast.

After school, the sheer joy of being freed
from your homework for one day;
the bliss of cookies and donut and cake
without limit.

The cold and drizzle at your track meet
did not diminish your joy at hurtling yourself
into the long jump pit. Running hard,
pulling at your soggy pants drooping
from your waist.

Happily sharing some of your ham and cheese
sandwich with your cat.
Your widening eyes and grin when
you heard you'd be choosing your own
new bicycle.

Droopy eyes, pulling on pajamas,
snuggling into bed. I relish your
sleepy smile, and seal my goodnight kiss
with all the happiness that I wish for you.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Painted doily

I found 3 heart-shaped doilies in a vintage shop on the way home from Seattle. I knew the white cotton would be perfect to dye or paint. I love the combination of magenta and yellow Dye-Na-Flow paints, so that's what I've used on this one. I wet it in the sink, squeezed out most of the water, then dripped on the paints. I did use a brush a little bit, too, to blend colors and fill in the gaps. The colors are lighter now that it's dry, but that's probably a good thing. I think this is going to go on an art doll . . . .

Magenta and yellow doily

Monday, April 21, 2008

The snow keeps hanging on

There seems to be a bit of snow on the ground almost every morning lately. The newspaper has been shivering on our front lawn.

Newspaper in snow, April 19!

Folks in Spokane are cold, crabby, and/or perplexed:

The spring blossoms are hanging in there.

What else can I do but laugh, and wonder if we're going to get enough snow some morning for one last snowball fight?!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Two forms of beauty

I've not posted much this month. Busy, busy, preparing for and teaching a class, trying to catch up on housework, and doing those dreaded taxes. By the way, I am officially resigning my position as family tax filer. I will happily gather the paperwork and hand it off to someone else, forever more.

I wanted to show you the silk that Chris brought me from China. The first one is a handwoven brocade that Chris bought at a silk museum in Shanghai. The color is more burgundy than the photo shows.

Chris also went to "Silk King," a chain of silk stores, where you can order custom silk clothes as well as buy silk by the meter. The print with the white background was relatively inexpensive, and Chris thought I could cut it apart for the various motifs. It has a silver thread running through it, but it doesn't show up well in the photo.

I am most in love with the blue background print. The photo doesn't really do it justice. The pink and orange flowers are so vibrant, and the silk is very fine. I'm thinking of making a scarf with some of it, just so that I can fondle it whenever I wear it.

I was picking up some nutshells, cast off by the squirrels, under our spruce tree the other day, when I discovered a tiny bird skull at the base of the tree. There were no other bones around, nor feathers. Just the skull.

Bird skull

I felt that momentary sadness, that wave that comes over me when the evidence of death is in front of me. It's a little shock. Yet, death is always here, isn't it? I spend so much of my time looking away. This time, I look more closely. What a beautiful little skull. How can a bird have a head so small? I wonder if it wasn't fully grown when it died.

I snapped a couple of pictures, but did not disturb it. The ants seemed to be cleaning it of the last morsels they could find. I did not want to move it, but to witness it.

Bird skull and spruce cone

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Seattle trip

Space Needle and sculpture

Big wet snowflakes were falling Sunday morning (March 30), and the Washington state roads website announced that Snoqualmie Pass was closing at 10 am for avalanche control. Would we even make it to Seattle today? I wondered if we should stay home. I was uneasy, a little worried. I thought, wow, I am too attached to getting there today. It would be okay if we got to the pass and we couldn't get through tonight. There are hotels up there, after all. So I packed the car, warned Ross about the possibility of delays, kissed the cat good-bye, and put the Jeep in four-wheel drive as I drove toward the highway.

The roads were the worst in our own county, but as we headed west, the weather improved a bit. By the time we got to the pass, there were a few snowflakes, but the road was dry and open. We rejoiced as we headed down toward Seattle. Soon I spotted some flowering trees and let out a whoop -- hey, it is actually spring here!

Seattle is a dense, very urban place. I carefully navigated the streets, grateful for my big-city driving experiences. But the street numbering system was throwing me for a loop -- am I really going the right way? Then I looked up and saw the Space Needle right in front of us. This must be the right direction. Thank goodness for landmarks.

Ross and I had a two-day tourist experience. The first morning, we walked to the Pacific Science Center and played there until lunch. Ross is all about science, so what better place to start? We liked the cat sculpture near the entrance.

Stone cat

He loved playing with the water cannons outside, and we both enjoyed the butterfly exhibit.

Butterflies enjoying an orange
Butterfly and purple flowers
Butterflies four

After lunch, the weather was still decent, so we decided to make the pilgrimage up the (ridiculously expensive) Space Needle. Ross looked through every telescope on the observation deck, at least twice. I enjoyed his excitement, the sunshine, and the views.

Ross and the Space Needle

To end the day, we got in the car and found our way to the International District (Chinatown). We bought some Japanese papers and dinner at a large Asian market.

Tuesday was our day to explore the waterfront. We rode the monorail downtown and walked the few chilly blocks to Pike Place Market, then down the long stairs to the Seattle Aquarium. The aquarium was great fun. It is not a huge place, like Boston's aquarium, but it is not tiny, like Albuquerque's, either. We spent a long time at the tidal touch-pools, feeling starfish and sea cucumbers. The octopus exhibit was amazing -- I don't remember ever seeing an octopus in "real life" before, and it was a real treat to watch them up close. Ross loved watching the harbor seals get fed and get their health check-ups. The keepers would look in their mouths, check their flippers, and so forth -- each obeyed command resulted in fish treats, of course. I wish the photos that I took were decent, but my borrowed camera just couldn't handle the lighting.

After buying a book about sea monsters at the gift shop, Ross and I made the long climb back up the stairs to the market, in search of lunch. Ross was getting ravenous and cranky, so we dived into the first decent-looking place we passed. This was our one fairly expensive meal -- you can imagine what prices were like in this tourist place. While waiting for our food, I sketched Ross, reading the sea monsters book. I ordered steamer clams, something I never buy inland. With a glass of fume blanc, a salad, and a wonderful view of Puget Sound, I was quite content.

Then we roamed the market. Wow, you could spend all day there and never see it all. Ross was pretty patient while I shopped for myself (a quilt shop -- do you think I could pass up some great fabric?!), and for friends and for Chris. Of course, Ross got a little something, too. By the end, I was tired and a bit cross-eyed, and we headed out to the sunshine and a patch of grass. I simply rested, watching Ross stalk seagulls and attempt cartwheels.

Ross trying cartwheels

Homeward bound on Wednesday, we had arranged to meet up with friends who were headed to Seattle that same morning. Ross and his friend got to play at McDonald's, blowing off steam before packing themselves back into the cars again. Later, about 45 minutes out of Spokane, Ross and I relaxed at a rest stop. Ross found a tree to climb, and I sketched part of the tree as he enjoyed the view from its limbs.

Rest stop tree climbing
Me at the bottom of the tree

Monday, April 7, 2008

We're back . . .

. . . but I haven't downloaded our Seattle photos yet. So the vacation post will have to wait at least one more day.

Chris had a great trip to China, as well. And oh, the silk he brought me! I promise that photos will be posted soon.