Monday, February 8, 2016

Playing Solitaire

Take up the cards, shuffle the deck.
They say seven times does the job.
Lay them out, first card face up, then 2 through 7.
Second card face up, 3 through 7 . .
A game of form, a game of chance.

Work the game - ace on top, turn the card below.
Black 3 under Red 4.
Black 7 under Red 8.
Move the king to the empty space.
Game after game, some you win, most you lose.
It doesn’t matter which.

He’s just a baby.
Shuffle the deck.
I wish I could help.
Count out three, turn over to see.
Here’s my daughter coming through the door.

“Hi Dad.”
“Any news?”
“The doctors don’t know.”
“How is he?”
“No change. He gripped my finger while I held his hand.”
“If I didn’t have this cold . .  ”
“At least you were there when he was awake. Now he just sleeps.”

Back to the cards.
Feel the sleekness, shuffle the deck.
Count them out, turn them over.
Choose one, reject another.
Red Jack under Black Queen.
Ace Of Spades up on top.
2 Of Spades on the ace.
Doesn’t mean a thing.

Can’t read a book - same sentence over and over.
Won’t watch TV - too much noise.
Don’t feel like talking, or sleeping, or walking.
 5, 6, 7
Red 10 under Black Jack,
Black 5 under Red 6.
Count out three, turn them over.
Play the game and wait.
Wait, till my grandson comes home.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Flowing Water

I am very pleased to post this haiku, written by my daughter.

The clean fresh water
Splashes over the dark rocks
And flows down the creek

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Who The Heck Is Thomas Schmuck??

Who is Thomas Schmuck? I have no idea.

"Who the heck is Thomas Schmuck?" my husband asked me.
"Thomas who?" I said. "Schmuck? Are you kidding me?"
"No. You wrote a check to him in September for $90 and I want to know just who this Schmuck is!"

My husband was laughing; we both were, but I really couldn't remember why I'd written a check to Thomas Schmuck for $90. We also had some serious questions -
1. Just who WAS Thomas Schmuck?
2. Was he really a "schmuck" or was that just his unfortunate name?
3. Where did the word "schmuck" come from anyway?

To address the last question first - Merriam-Webster defines "schmuck" as a "stupid or foolish person," as in, "I can't believe what a schmuck that guy is.." It also goes on to say that the origin of the word comes from the Yiddish word shmok, which means literally - penis.
So I guess calling someone a schmuck is the same as calling them a dick. Which brings me to my next question -

How did the nickname of Dick (from Richard) get turned into an ugly word for penis?
Once again turning to some on-line sources, Dick has long been an English synonym for "fellow," but sometime around 1890, the British army started using it as a slang word for penis. I can't find the reason why, but at least we have someone to blame for it - the Brits! Then of course, there's the origin of the words, prick, cock, well - you get the picture.

So, to address the second question of my original list, Was Thomas Schmuck really a schmuck? Well, literally, no. When I looked at the digital copy of the check my husband was referencing (that was a mouthful!), I saw that his last name is actually spelled Scheumack, which probably still sounds like schmuck but is obviously spelled differently. I also looked on the check for a clue as to why I'd paid him $90, but unfortunately, I'd left the "for ______" line empty.

Which leads me back to my first and final question - just who is Thomas Scheumack? My husband googled him, and a site came up called, the "Scheumack Broom Company," which was founded by a craftsman named Thurman Scheumack back in 1981. At last I remembered! In September, I went to the Kings Mountain Art Faire and bought a couple of beautiful hand-crafted brooms. I'm not sure why my check was made out to Thomas and not Thurman, but that is a mystery I don't care to pursue.

Anyway, now that you and I both know who Thomas Scheumack is - actually, what the Scheumack company is -  you might want to look at their website. I love their brooms. I have one with black bristles I call my "witch's broom." It almost makes sweeping fun because I can imagine that when the chore is done, I can fly off on my broom! So check them out, and if you find the real Thomas, please don't tell him I sent you. He probably wouldn't appreciate my husband and I calling him a schmuck.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Why I Don't Do Well At Parties

I don't do well at parties. Most parties are full of extroverts who love to meet and greet, flutter around, and network. I am an introvert. I want meaningful connections and deep conversations. And I hate networking.

Show Me Another Introvert So I Can Have A Real Conversation

I recently read an article that offered advice on how to have a “conversation exit plan” at your next party. It quotes Lynne Waymon, co-owner of Contacts Count, that “It is reasonable to expect a conversation to end after five or ten minutes." Furthermore, Diane Darlene, a Boston networking consultant, says sensitive people often "confuse ending a conversation with rejection." She goes on to say she ‘sometimes gets help from her friends to exit an encounter with the person who is clingy or anxious.’


Is that me? Am I clingy or anxious? Sometimes I'm enjoying a conversation - actually feeling merry, wanting to get to know the person better - but then I discover that person is ready to move on. I have to admit, it does make me feel rejected. But does it make me "clingy or anxious?" Unfortunately, in the extrovert's eyes, I think it does.

Doesn't She Realize How Boring She Is?

I know this is my problem; I'm not blaming the extrovert. They are doing what comes naturally to them - laughing and talking, meeting as many people as they can because they have lots of energy and love excitement.

I have low energy with rare bursts of high energy (if I like the person). Unfortunately, I am usually attracted to extroverts just because they are so sparkly and happy. But we don't blend very well. I think they automatically sense that my energy level does not, and will not ever, match their own. Plus, they probably think I'm too intense. God how I hate that word . .

Some people think I'm “intense” just by looking at my face. I have a serious face and only smile or laugh when something makes me smile or laugh. But many people don't understand that. They look at my face and think I must be sad or angry.

Or, people think I'm worried and concerned. Sometimes I am! But usually, I'm just minding my own business, thinking my own thoughts, and it's just my face. The corners of my mouth do not naturally turn up. And my eyes only sparkle when there's something to light them. It took my wonderful husband (an extrovert) years to understand my face. But God bless him, he worked at it, and now he finally does.

So anyway, that's why I don't do well at parties. If you ever see me at one, please introduce me to a fellow introvert. Maybe we'll have something in common and we can enjoy an actual conversation that lasts longer than ten minutes.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Film Noir Tombstones

There's Always A Sucker . .

I made my own Halloween tombstones with supplies from Michael's craft store. I didn't want them to have the usual epitaphs, so I chose some common phrases that might help depict a story or a film noir movie.

. . And A Femme Fatalle . .
I made the tombstones using thin sheets of Styrofoam because they were easy for me to cut and they looked more like stone. But if I had to do it again; I would use thin plywood and get them cut to shape, that way they would be less fragile. I hope my tombstones last because those little craft supplies really add up!

. . And A Mystery
I glued a wooden stake to the back of the tombstone (using Styrofoam glue) and reinforced it with duct tape. I hope it holds!

Another Reason Wooden Tombstones Might Be Better - You Can Nail In The Stakes!

I Used A Straight Shovel To Make A Wedge In The Grass, Then Pushed In The Stake.

Here are the steps I took to make the tombstones:

First I cut them to size by tracing around a curved object, a pool kickboard makes a good pattern if you have one.
Second I glued on my choice of decorations - vintage flowers, wooden cutouts and a Halloween bat.
Third I spray painted the tombstones (two coats) and let them dry overnight.
Fourth I used a stencil to trace letters on the tombstones which I then painted (using three-dimensional paint). Again I let everything dry overnight.
Last I attached the stakes (using styrofoam glue and duct tape) and sprayed the decorated side with a protective varnish. I let them dry overnight.

Personally, My Hand Writing Is Terrible - I Need Stencils!

Make Sure You Use Outdoor Acrylic Paint And Spray

One more thing, my bat was actually a sticker that didn't stick very well. But it was okay; I peeled it off after the tombstone had been painted and it left a nice white imprint of the bat.

Maybe Next Year I'll Add A Couple More Behind These.

Our Halloween House
Here's links to some of the other creations on our lawn:

Dance Like An Egyptian Mummy
Trick Or Treating Aliens
Last Minute Halloween Ideas

Happy Halloween!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

DIY Halloween Mummy!

I will show you how I made my Halloween Mummy. There are some things I could have done better - maybe you can improve upon my design.

Materials: A styrofoam head from Michael's or Diddams. Cost about $7.00

The head does not need to have features.

PVC Pipe Cutter: this makes cutting the pipe so easy.

A design on paper - it helped me anyway. The circles are where I'll need PVC elbow joints plus two cross joints for the torso.

I was going for the Egyptian dance look - it works great within the limitations of PVC pipe.

PVC Pipe, elbow joints and crosses: found at Orchard Supply or Home Depot or Lowe's. I also bought PVC pipe insulation but if I had to do it again, I would just use a lot of bubble wrap. 

The PVC and joints cost me less than $10.
My proportions were a little off, and after I installed the mummy, I had to go back and remove a section of pipe from the torso because it was too long.
Note the very long right (our right) leg - it goes past the foot because I also used it to stake the mummy into the ground. I ended up widening the hips and adding another pipe to the middle part of the lower T joint. It needed the support. If I had to do it again, I would start with a PVC pipe in the middle as my stake and not use the leg. Use black spray paint on the support stake, that way no one will notice it at night.

I'm not going to list the dimensions I used because I don't think they're quite right; you can probably do a better job.

Bubble wrap - get lots of this, it is the padding for your mummy. Mine is on the skinny side, you may want to add a lot more bubble wrap. I secured it with masking tape and duct tape (what would we do without duct tape??).

Wait until your mummy is staked in the ground before adding the PVC insulation and bubble wrap.

 Old sheets and cheesecloth torn into strips - make cuts in sheet about 2 inches apart. Then tear the sheet into strips. Do not worry about being neat, this is a mummy after all! I used two full sheets for my mummy, you may want to use more. You would need an awful lot of cheesecloth if that's all you used to wrap your mummy. I saved my cheesecloth for topping off the final product.

A little supervision from the cat (sorry, I couldn't resist the photo).
Dye the torn sheets and cheesecloth - in a large pot of boiling water and teabags; although, I found that filling the pot with hot coffee worked best. I think you must need a ton of teabags to make the process work well. I soaked the sheets for half an hour. Then I hung them outside to dry.

Socks and Gloves - for the feet and hands. I stuffed the feet and secured them with tie wraps and duct tape to the poles.

This foot is secured to a straight pole - there is not an additional pipe or joint here.

I inserted a stick into the sock to help keep its form. My daughter pointed out that this foot was upside down! Doh!

I found some old gloves from a past Halloween costume, and lightly stuffed them with craft stuffing. I think latex or medical gloves would work just as well but it depends on the size of your mummy.

I used an elbow joint and inserted a stick to help keep the hands' form.

I found it impossible to wrap each individual finger but I could wrap the thumb and do the hand mitten style.
Wrap your mummy - I do not have a technique to recommend, just do what you can. Some of my sheets stayed pretty white. I was able to cover most of them with the browner sheets, but I finished wrapping in the dark and didn't notice I hadn't covered all of them. No matter, the contrast does not show up at night.

"Dance like an Egyptian . ."
The wind kept spinning my mummy around, so I looped a wire hanger around the left leg and secured it to the ground.

The mummy looks really cool at night, but I didn't take a photo. Until I update this blog, here is a black-and-white photo to give you an idea of how it looks at night.

 Happy Halloween!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

On The Death Of A Seabird

 Common Murre

This bird
Washed ashore.

Feathers and beak
Dying snow angel
In the sand.

One of many
Who will mourn?

Note: there is an unprecedented number of seabirds dying off the Pacific Northwest Coastline. Scientist are not sure of the cause, whether it is climate change, El Niño, blue green algae toxins or some combination of all three.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

The Top 10 Things You Can Do For Your Child

    1.    Hug them, kiss them, and tell ‘em you love them
    2.    Make eye contact and listen to them
    3.    Be careful of what you say and how you say it - words can scar
    4.    Turn off the screen
    5.    Give them non-electronic toys so they can touch and feel and use their imagination
    6.    Read to them and teach them to read (no cheating by using electronics)
    7.    Get them outside and let them get dirty
    8.    Don't guide their play - let them figure it out
    9.    Cut out the junk food and sugary drinks   
    10.  Help them get enough sleep

And above all,  remember that life is fragile - respect, love and cherish your children.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Surfing Across The Mud

The other day I saw an amazing sight, a windsurfer launched from a dock and was trying to go down a narrow channel of water. It was low tide and he was hemmed in by mud flats on both sides. Almost immediately he veered off and got stuck in the mud. He dropped the sail and stood there for a moment while his buddies laughed at him. He was less than two feet from the channel. In his situation (and if I knew how to windsurf), I probably would have stepped off the board into the mud and struggled to drag the whole contraption back into the channel. But this guy pulled up his sail and tried to use the wind to maneuver back into the channel. Instead the wind caught his sail and started taking him farther out into the mudflat. He went with it, and with only one look back to laugh at his buddies, surfed across the entire mud flat and into the open water of the bay.

One of his buddies said to me," You've just seen a very rare thing."
"Yes I know," I replied, "and I got pictures!"

Later, I was thinking this would be a good metaphor for life.
Stuck in the mud? Surf across it!

Friday, March 20, 2015

. . Said The Spider To The Bird

    Tra la la Tra la la -
    While working on my web one day
    In the merry month of May
    I was taken by surprise
. . Hey! Watch out! Ahgg! Run for cover!
    “Hey, you stupid bird brain! Those are my bugs! Quit stealing my food! Oh man, you're poking holes in my web! That's right, buzz off you lousy hummer, I shake my fists at you!”
    God, I hate those flying nitwits, always stealing my food. A spider works hard, spinning all night, waiting all day, just trying to make a living, then a lousy hummingbird comes along and steals everything. He's ruined my home; I’ll have to rebuild. I'll be up all night repairing this one. But I won't give up! I won't let that flying menace stop me . .

    Down and down I go, round and round I go, in a spin, loving the spin I'm in . .There. Look at my beautiful web! Sunlight streaming through, dew drops on the lines - now I can rest and wait. Breakfast is coming, I can feel it!
    Well, well. Look what just swooped in. Yeah, well you're out of luck baby. No bugs around here. You'll have to find your own.
    “What do you mean ‘nice nesting material?’ Are you kidding me?? You want a spider’s web to line your nest? Line it with your own feathers you flippin’ piece of fluff! Hey! This is my home! Don't touch that, no . .” Ahggg! Run for cover!
    That’s right, take everything I own, leave me hanging. Jeez, that was close. Stupid bird almost swept me up in my own web.
    “I’ll get you for this, you frenzied female! You hyperactive hummer! You spider’s enemy number one!”

    Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive . . This time I'm ready, double knotted, double strung, extra sticky, big juicy bugs for bait. Ah - here’s  a hummer now.
    “Oh, would you like a bug? Here's one, and here's one, or how about this one? That's right, help yourself. And don't forget this one!”
    “Oh dear, is it sticky? Is your wing caught? I wouldn't panic. Both wings are caught? You can't get out? You're caught in my web? Time to panic!”
    “Bwah ha ha ha ha!  Take that, you hapless hummer! You helpless hellion! You hideous horror!” Oh wait, he's breaking free, he's getting loose, he's escaped! “That's right, fly away and don't come back!”
    Uh huh - no hummer better mess with this spider! No sir. I'm struttin’ - I’m struttin'.  Anansi has nothin’ on me.
    Spiderman, Spiderman,
    Does whatever a spider can.
    Spins a web, any size,
    Catches thieves just like flies.
    Look out! I am the spider!