Thursday, July 31, 2008

This Week's Exposaroonie Challenge


The challenge this week was Urban Architecture. I was very lazy -- this is the Student Activities Building and it is just across the street from my building, but I really liked the contrast between the white and the very bright blue sky, and how geometric it is. I was worried that the tree would detract from the lines of the building, but I kind of like the softness it adds.

Also rans:

Admin Building

The Administrative Building. The myth is that the building was designed to be riot proof, but the architect claims the bizarre window scheme was designed for efficiency.

Parking Structure

Parking structure.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Time to Make the Pickles

I went out to the garden yesterday afternoon to pick whatever may have grown in the last couple of days. I thought there might be a few beans and maybe a couple of cucumbers. I picked almost 2 pounds of beans and, god help me, more than 5 pounds of cucumbers. As much bitter complaining I do about the weather (too rainy, too cold, too hot, too dry, etc.), it has been very good for the garden.

I decided to put up some jars of Half Sour pickles, which are cured in a salt brine rather than a vinegar brine.

Pretty Jars of Pickles

They aren't canned, so they won't keep for more than a few weeks. But I expect to have cucumbers into September, so I can make these all summer.

Dill Flower


The flavoring is pretty simple: coriander, black pepper, garlic, and a chili pepper (I used jalapeno). The recipe calls for a bay leaf, but I forgot to put it in two of the three jars. I have a feeling I'll be making my first batch of relish this weekend, but I think I can take a break from produce tonight. Maybe sew something. Or knit.

Monday, July 28, 2008

The Pet Situation

Whenever someone comes to our house I can tell what they are thinking: "these people are seriously lacking in canine influence." Yeah. It seems there is a good chance we will be correcting this household deficit in the near future.

One of our friends' dogs recently had a very unintended pregnancy and had two puppies. Craig and Chrissy found a home for one, but not the other (a girl, named Buttercup. Seriously.) Len had met this puppy before, but on Saturday he spent a few hours with her and he is In Love. Even so, he told them no, we couldn't take her because my hands are full with the cats and the garden, and his hands are full with the properties and fish and chickens. Then he came home and for the next 24 hours all I heard was how adorable this puppy is and well behaved. And she doesn't beg. And when she wants pets she runs right into your legs and then asks for pets. And. And. And. I could tell he was trying to talk himself out of taking the dog and not doing very well.

Then on Sunday late afternoon he said, "how about if I call Chrissy and tell her that if they don't find someone to take the dog by next weekend, we will take her overnight to see how it goes?" After some back and forth, I agreed (foolishly). Len talked to Chrissy, then spent the rest of the evening trying to convince the cats that this is a good idea. They ignored him. I am very sure that we will have a canine house guest on Saturday night and much of Sunday. Just to see how it goes.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Secret Cultural Shame and Other Stories

Len needed to clean out The Ladies' house yesterday, so he shooed them out, blocked the entrance and shoveled out the grossness (reason #1 I didn't want anything to do with the Chicken Project).


Then he got distracted by other projects, dinner and bad TV. It was after 10:00 that he got back out to give them clean bedding. The Ladies were Not Pleased. They have a bedtime, it had long passed, and they yelled at him the whole time. Len said he had never heard such barking before, a combination of growling and "bock-bock".

Secret Cultural Shame

This comes from a blog I've been reading recently (pretty to think so), who found it by way of New York Magazine and the London Times. I, myself, think it would be a pretty good Meme. I'm not going to tag anyone specifically, but if I tell you my secret shames, I'd love to hear your's.

Books: I've never read Wuthering Heights (I have read Jane Eyre and I hated it). I haven't read very many of the Modern Library list of 100 Best Novels (then again, that list is suspect, since it does not include Beloved by Toni Morrison, which is a truly Great American Novel). I am embarrassed to admit that I hated A Catcher in the Rye.

Movies: I have never seen (but should have) "Raging Bull", "Taxi Driver", "The Godfather" (1, 2, or 3), "Close Encounters of the Third Kind", and "Schindler's List". I've seen and not liked "Saving Private Ryan" (first 15 minutes are great, the rest is pedestrian), "2001: A Space Odyssey", "Gone With the Wind" and "The Silence of the Lambs". I am not embarrassed to say that I hated "Titanic". And for very personal reasons, I hate "When Harry Met Sally".

Television: I've never seen The Honeymooners. Or Alf.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Simon and Gwen

Simon and Gwen took time out from their very busy lives to pose for me.



Fred was much too busy and Judy was too shy.

Beans and Broccoli

With very little attention from me, the garden has begun spitting out produce. On Sunday I picked 12 ounces of beans and two heads of broccoli; yesterday I got 1.25 pounds of beans and four heads of broccoli. For the record, that first harvest of beans was 11 days earlier than last year.

Beans and Broccoli

I planted a row and a half of a mix of green, yellow and purple beans. I went with a bush variety since dealing with tomato staking is such a pain so, despite how back breaking the harvesting can be, I haven't wanted to add bean structures to the garden set up fiasco (and it is always a bit of a fiasco).

Pretty Beans

We had some of the beans for dinner last night. They were wonderful.


I'll start freezing the beans (in half pound batches) tonight, but I'm not sure what to do about the broccoli. I put in several plants because once the main head is harvested, the plant continues to put out single florets and I wanted those to be useful. The problem is that I don't know what to do with 6 (so far) heads of broccoli. Freezing is out, since neither of us have had good experiences with frozen broccoli (mushy, watery, blech!). Probably we will eat it until we get sick of it, then start pawning it off on friends and colleagues.

Friday, July 18, 2008

More Leeks

I didn't manage to get an Exposaroonie challenge in this week (the challenge was natural framing, and I just couldn't get it done). Instead, how about a couple more of blooming leeks? Would it help to know that I took these this morning while under full raging attack by a particularly violent gang of mosquitoes?

Breaking Out

Leek Flower

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Hard Labor

Way back in March, I assured Sharon that when Spring finally hit, I would be up to my eyeballs in dirt and would have no time for anything but staring vacantly at the TV late at night.

Now that it is mid July, that time has finally arrived. The garden had gotten completely out of control due to lack of attention, a whole lot of rain, and horse poo. Yes, horse poo. A neighbor has horses and gladly gives us all the manure we can use, but with that rich-soil-making-poo comes an awful lot of weeds. How bad did it get, you ask? I was much too embarrassed to take pictures, but last year's messy garden pictures don't even come close to this year's nightmare.

Garden 2008

I managed to get one picture this morning before my camera batteries died. I've spent the last week and a half getting the garden to this state and staking tomatoes (which was supposed to happen when the plants went into the ground, but didn't). Without much attention from me, the plants are healthy and happy; I've harvested two heads of broccoli and a few jalapenos so far, but everything else is gearing up. We have tiny cucumbers, tiny green, purple and yellow beans and a lot of green tomatoes. I think canning season is going to hit soon and hard.

In the meantime, we are hoping very hard for rain on Saturday. We need both it and a day off.

Friday, July 11, 2008


This week's Exposaroonie challenge theme was Patriotic.

Lily & Chris

What's cuter than a baby waving a flag? My friend Stef made the sweater she is wearing, and I made her dress (which you can just barely see peeking out - it was a bit chilly that morning!)

Can you stand a few more pictures from the weekend?


We (and by "we" I mean Len) finally got the pool open on Sunday. Here is Keith, post cannonball.


Boys discussing fire.

Lily Napping

Lily took a nap.

Fred Napping

And so did Fred. Fun, sun, swimming and copious amounts of gin were had by all (except Lily and Fred, who did not have gin).

And I was smart enough to take Monday off to recover.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Fourth of July Tale Interrupted

to bring you a very loud skirt:

Loud Skirt

It is not possible to be sad in this skirt. It is McCall's 5431, the fabric was this irresistible Michael Miller Carnival Bloom and trimmed with Play Diamond.

Dizzy View

The view from above. I wore the skirt to work yesterday, even though I haven't finished sewing down the inside of the yoke. It was just so silly!

And do you remember the leek pod from a few weeks back? This is what happens when leeks are left to their own devices:

Flowering Leek

So pretty. I might to start making these a regular feature of my flower garden.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Sweet Home Grass-uh Lake-uh

Yesterday's title was from a song by X, by the way. I wrote a bit about it in last year's Fourth of July post (where you will also find the grumpy girl in a shopping cart, who, sadly did not make an appearance this year).

After the parade, I stopped at our local grocery store and was faced with this lovely gal:

Big Cow

I don't know what she was doing there, but she was certainly a vision in fiberglass.

Len's Croquet Ways

At our friends' party, Len beat us all rather solidly at croquet. Who knew he was so. Um. Refined? Note the cigarette.

The party had "entertainment" (a loose term, at best): Chris and Aubrey's neighbors were having a party as well, and their kid's band "played" (again, I use that term loosely). They were very loud and very bad. Highlights included the singer (if you can call him that) thanking his mom for letting him come out and play*, introducing the band during almost every song (the drummer's name is Riki Tiki Tavi, if you can believe that), and dedicating Clapton's Cocaine to his aunt (whatever your opinion of Clapton, what they did to that song was sacrilege). But the best bit occurred during a dilapidated version of "Sweet Home Alabama", the singer interjected this of dumbness, "You know, they say 'sweet home Alabama', but I say, I'm from Grass Lake. So I say 'Sweet Home Grass-uh Lake-uh!'" Whoooo!!!! Yeah dude! Sadly it was downhill from there, and we finally tottered off, addle-brained, to the fireworks.

*His mom, by the way, is deaf. Also, the band continued mangling rock-n-roll (whoooo!!) the next day. Ugh.


When I was a kid, sparklers were a necessity of all good Fourth of July celebrations.


CL is for Freckles

These were taken with a 2 second exposure.

The sunset was pretty stunning.

Grass Lake

Finally, fireworks:


Fire Flower

Exploding Flower


Sweet home Grass-uh Lake-uh, indeed.

You can't get that out of your head, can you? Welcome to my world.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Hey Baby, It's the Fourth of July*

Er, it was, anyway. We had a very long, fun-filled weekend: Parade! Party! Fireworks! Um...Party again! You'd think we were social, or something.

Here Come the Tractors

What's better than a small town parade? Our small town parade has a lot of old tractors, which I think are beautiful.

Big Machine

And big farm equipment.

Lions Air Force

And teeny, tiny fighter jets. Or something.

Also, a Dodge Ram, decked out in full Confederate flag regalia. That would be for Pizza Time in Grass Lake. Their pizza isn't very good and they are assholes. Don't eat there.

Miss Lily

Lily enjoyed her first parade.

In tomorrow's episode: Len defeats everyone at croquet (the man has some hidden talents!)

Thursday, July 03, 2008


This week's Exposaroonie challenge is Vintage.


Len's been chopping wood in front of the garage. What's more "vintagey" than an axe? I did some fidgeting in Photoshop with color balance and saturation, and I put a "soft grain" filter on, which is subtle but makes a nice difference.

I would like to point out that it is 3:00 on July 3rd and it is 64 degrees outside. WTF?? Stupid weather.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

State of Deconstruction

Instead of continuing my quest to find my garden (which has been hiding in lawn), I was in a deconstructive way yesterday.

State of Deconstruction

The blue blob on the left is a nightgown. The bodice was too big, so I took it off, took in a half inch on each side, regathered the waist and reattached the bodice. Very easy and it looks a little better, but it seems the bodice is also too short, which is not very flattering. Oh well.

The green blob, you may remember from this post. The armholes were very uncomfortable so I took the bias strips off, cut about a quarter of an inch off of the bottom of the hole, and attached new bias strips, gathering the sleeve caps a half inch less than before. I don't know. It's better than it was, but I think the real problem is that the armhole isn't deep enough, and I may go ahead and take the cap off altogether. We'll see.

Since I was on a roll, I added ties and took in the armholes of another blouse. Since I still have a bit of work to do (and there was no deconstruction involved on that one), I don't have a picture of that blouse. And giving credit where it is due, the ties were Stef's idea to solve the problem of too large a bodice.

I suppose this should all be very frustrating, but I figure I am still in the process of learning. If I don't learn what doesn't work and why, I won't learn what does work. I suspect armholes and bodices will be ongoing issues for me, so I might as well learn how to deal with now.
Right? Right.