Saturday, October 13, 2007
That is, SOCK WARS II. And I am a veteran of last year's inaugeral war. So I should know better. But I needed to build up my strength after dealing with being a little green around the gills, ugh. So here I am. As my cohort admonished me, however, I must get back in the ranks and knit to kill.
Each sock warrior is assigned a target. Therefore, each has an assassin. Knit to kill, send the weapon of death. When the death strike has been received (socks in the mail), target has been assassinated. I have received my Top Secret Sock Wars II Assassination Dossier with my assignment. I must go.
Just wanted to let you know. 'Cos War is Hell. And this is War!
(click logo above for details of war games)
I have not forgotten the sunset I started a week or so ago. Here are the next in the series:
(click on photos for larger view)~~okay, this should really work now
27 September 2007
Actually, this should have been second, but it was such a different view, I was going to save it for another time. Then I took another look.
27 September 2007
I admit to having cropped out the parked cars in some of these sunset photos. They interrupted my concentration on the incredible sky, so they had to go. Unfortunately, it made for a smaller photo here. So, click to have it fill your screen, and see what you think.
Thursday, October 11, 2007
My son (T2) was overheard in preschool talking with his friends at great length about naked ladies. Yes, he was telling them, he really liked naked ladies. In fact, we had naked ladies at our house. They were in the backyard! And on and on he went. To her credit, the teacher listening in followed the conversation until she could make better sense of it, and finally realised the darling boy was referring to a type of flower! She was quite relieved.
It’s true, of course. We do have naked ladies dancing in our garden. Rather, we did until the plumbing team dug them up last spring. They have bloomed there since we first moved in. My husband was all for having naked ladies in the backyard. When I mentioned the possibility to our youngest (T3), who has never seen them, he was strongly against the idea. "I don't want naked ladies in our garden, no way!" "Why not?" He thought that was the silliest question anyone could ask him.
Naked ladies are so named because the flowers grow on a long stem without any foliage. Flowers appear at the end of the summer, around September. There is foliage, made up of long strappy, dark green leaves. But it comes up in the spring. In fact, we spend the first couple weeks the leaves show up scratching our heads wondering whether we will see a crowd of daffodils, or if half the leaves belong to the naked ladies.
Lycoris radiata (click the photo to ogle some naked ladies more closely)
This photo I stopped to snap on our way to futból practice, so it may not be in the best of focus, but you see the environment and their shape. I had been on the lookout for naked ladies, since ours were too shy to come out this September, and noticed some dancing 'round a tree the next block down from our house. The next day they were gone. Maybe that neighbor thought I was taking notes on the condition of his garden and decided to thin out the older blooms. I found some specific information about Lycoris radiata in Scott Ogden's book, "Garden Bulbs for the South". These have also been referred to as “spider lily” due to their spidery appearance. I think they look like dancers in their fancy red dresses, with arms reaching up to beckon the sky.
And here is a really fine photo of some naked ladies, along with some interesting information. The Lycoris radiata has perhaps a little deeper significance in Japan than those grown decoratively in the southern United States.
In the spring, if you see some long green leaves that lead you to believe you may be seeing tulips or daffodils soon, and yet no flowers follow, don't disturb them. Let the leaves stay. You never know if the naked ladies will come dancing in the autumn, in search of their lovely green dressing gowns.
Saturday, October 06, 2007
(click photo for closer view)
Friday morning: 5 October 2007 7:26 am
This is what I glimpse of the sunrise from our front porch. I treasure this soft morning love light. The rest of the day the sun was bright--blaringly so, with hardly a cloud in the sky. But I remember this softness and find peace.
You know what they say about curiosity and cats...
This is our mama cat, Drea. I was sitting in the next room when I heard a metallic sound. I turned around to see her peeking outside the frontroom window. She actually does this fairly often. There is a wide sill she walks along, which is what her right hind foot is upon.
Friday, October 05, 2007
Thursday, October 04, 2007
The boys have joined Chess Club at school. Imagine a smallish (almost stuffy) cafeteria filled with 40-50 exuberant young chess players, all talking, laughing, making noise at once. And playing chess! The kids do this the way they approach many experiences in their life, with joy, enthusiasm, and the expectation of fun! I am there each week, as our 4-year-old is the youngest in attendance. All students in the school are welcome. There are quite a few as young as first grade who participate.
The Chess Club instructor even gives lessons later in the evening at a local coffee shop. He has been following the World Chess Championship, giving the kids updates each week. I just read that our instructor's favourite, Viswanathan Anand, an Indian grandmaster, won the championship tournament Saturday.
The photograph shows one of my favourite things about kids playing chess. They won't give up. T2 and his game partner went 'round and 'round like this for quite awhile. Can you imagine? Only two pieces left.
Wednesday, October 03, 2007
27 September 2007
(click on photo for a closer look)
This was taken from the futból fields. It is the first in a series of photos, in which I recorded the dramatic changes occurring within 25 minutes as the sun set. As time is growing short tonight, I will post more pics tomorrow.
We have begun an odyssey in the world of football/futból/soccer. We haven’t had anyone playing for a couple years so, while not an entirely new experience, we are seeing with new eyes. As with our eldest son, the youngest is playing on the sidelines while his older brother has practice or plays in the game. This is where the adventure begins.
The fields are vast: a configuration of 18 fields, each of which is built at a different level of height. There is no wind break, and I can tell you that even if you are scheduled to play on the pitch between two hills, it doesn’t really make a difference when it comes to the wind. The spectators go home exhausted just from the effort to keep from being blown over. That is not to detract from the beauty of the green rolling hills punctuated by goals and flags. Living in a town, this is the greatest stretch of open land one has the opportunity to see.
Amongst the hills is a rather spectacular drainage system, one they have developed since Eldest was playing (association) football. It is spectacular in the way that it outlines the side of the fields we use the most. A shallow concrete trough suitable for walking when dry, all points lead downhill to a drainage tunnel large enough for even an adult to crawl through. Youngest (T3) has informed me that this tunnel is his basilisk. Or, where his basilisk lives. It varies.
We were exploring the basilisk’s territory one night during futból practice, and I had an opportunity to snap some shadow play from our position atop its lair. (Conquerors, we!)
We take advantage of shadows when we can. The illusions that are created by shadows, or those which we can create with them are so much fun to see. Looking at our shadows in the late day sun reminded me of the ancient paintings discovered in caves. Do you know what I’m talking about? The images of people, in particular, at least in the images I’ve seen, always seem elongated, reminding me of shadows.
So that got me thinking about the way humans have been portrayed through time. We see the somewhat simple, flat-looking designs of the cave dwellers and even Egyptian artists. I am referring to the actual, literal resemblance to people. Comparing to more modern artists who have produced almost photographic quality images of their subjects. My disclaimer here is that I am definitely not an expert on art, nor artists, and I am strictly speaking generally, and as specified. I consider all the images to which I am referring, to be far more complex than what one might think at first glance.
I was thinking of what type of light source was available for the cave artists, and whether they always worked from memory and imagination. Did the light source affect how they formed their paintings? Would the paintings be different if they had different type of lighting? Did artists sometimes portray what they saw in shadows? I would love to know what was going on behind the scenes, what they were thinking.
Thursday, September 27, 2007
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
This is probably one of the worst times for me to write something. Because I can’t write on the subject I would like very much to. Not kittens. I have photos of kittens, which I have been thinking of a lot lately, for a number of reasons. Two plus four reasons, actually. 2 + 4 = 2, to be exact.
I have been thinking of kittens to help sooth a monumental headache which took residence within my skull, as of Thursday last and stayed, an unwanted visitor, until Saturday night, after the concert. That would be the Thursday and Friday we had late dress rehearsals for the concert.
It’s the concert I want to write about. The first concert of the season, some wonderful music. Choral music. Words set to music, what could be better? This is my second season singing with this organisation, and each time we begin work on the next material I find myself quite pleased with our director. He is very knowledgeable about the music—not just as a good conductor, but he tells us a lot of background for each piece, and the nuances of the particular period of music from which the piece hails. I learn something new each set of concert music we explore. As if adding to my vocabulary, as music is the language I speak.
But I can’t talk about it right now. I am having a hard time making sense, so hang in there as you read this. I feel as though I am still recovering from this headache thang, whatever it is. I know folks are sincerely trying to be helpful, but why is it everyone is trying to give me allergies? It goes, how are you, or are you okay, depending on the degree of grimace in my expression, I imagine. Describe a headache that won’t go away, and they give you an allergy. It’s allergies. No, it can’t be allergies; we don’t have any of those. (We are very fortunate.) And it doesn’t match up, anyway. Last Wednesday T3 was home, sleeping all day with… a headache. Well, he had a fever, too. Then it was I with the headache, then T2 was home Monday with… a headache. Well, he had a scratchy throat and felt weak, too. It was almost a relief when I made a connection between what ails me and the boys being ill. I may not let well-meaning friends give me allergies, but it’s surprising what I was willing to give myself. It’s all in my head—so close to the brain, you know?
The boys only suffered a day, each. I am still feeling the effect of whatever the headache is. I wonder if it has anything to do with my decision to stop taking caffeine. Ha! No, it is not the cause of the original ailment, but I didn’t think I could feel any worse, so why not detox as long as I was so miserable. Nothing would touch this headache. Admittedly, I only tried ibuprofen with a little coffee; the adrenaline from the concert performance gave it the final little kick, and by the time I returned home, I was feeling better overall. Yet, there’s a lingering something, but after having 2 cups of full strength coffee every day for months, I suppose it could be expected. What a relief it will be, once I’m clear of the caffeine. I do not like being dependent like that—at some point, you have to have it, or you suffer.
And now, as my suffering is easing, so shall I ease yours and end this. I’m going to go think of kitties, maybe find three or four to pet, so soothing don’t you think? And then, a strong cup of decaf tea. Mmm, it doesn’t sound quite right, does it?
Thursday, September 20, 2007
Do you know what it’s like to have a moment when it seems the universe is really clicking for you? Everything falls into place at the right time, just when you need it to. For me, it usually follows a period of at least mild panic brought about by worry due to conflicting information or schedules, seasoned with some confusion.
Well, my friends, everything fell into place yesterday, at least for this week. Thank goodness. I was almost having a moment of regret for feeling smug, comparing my meager agenda with some friends of mine, who you know had overcommitted themselves and their children. All it took was a couple comments that we seemed busy. A little ray of doubt streaked across the calendar, as I realised we had three big things on for Saturday. A major concert (me, with audience member husband), two futból games back-to-back added this week (T2), and an event we were relying upon for a rare family outing. All it took was reading the information page regarding the outing to see that it was for Sunday, and it felt like all was right with the world. Amazing how well things can go when you pay attention to details. Deep breath, and let it out! Now, all we have to do is determine how to get from the games back to the concert venue and have the squids attended to for the evening. Big brother (T1) to the rescue? Ah-ha!
We’re not that busy, really. This week it’s two futból practices, 3 rehearsals, chess club, a concert, a family outing, additional time on tech preparations for a theatrical show, a get-together for a pregnant friend, one sick day (T3), and the regular weekly obligations of school and work and skateboarding (T1). Not every person is involved in every activity. Next week subtract 2 rehearsals and a get-together, increase time on the theatrical production, exchange the outing for a futból tourney, and as you can see, it’s much different.
Enough of that nonsense. I have to show you something. When I see this, I always smile. It’s as though they are smiling at me, and I can’t help but return the favour.
It’s a party! Look at all those smiling faces. Sunflowers!
These are wildflowers—prairie flowers?--they are smaller than the sunflowers which produce the large seed heads, the edible seeds. These sunflowers showed up this year on their own. A lovely large cluster in the garden, such a pleasure to see in the morning sun. I guess we can thank the birds in their willingness to help in seed distribution.
The sunflowers are beautiful and plentiful this year. They can be seen in untilled fields, between subdivisions and shopping developments. The road we take to the futból fields is lined with them. They welcome us every time we drive to practice sessions.
One last photo for the road (click it for greater detail):
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
Me, I’ll be talkin like this th' whole week! It be entertainin for the young sprogs—and we have quite a few who be needin attention, I can tell you! When they don’t be wi' their sweet, dedicated mother, they be playin wi' me tail or bitin me ankles. Thar ain’t nothin t' be done t' stop ‘em. Aye, it be good fun! Aarrr!
I must be off now, an’ smartly. ‘Tis time t' be climbin as high up as possible just t' see if it be possible done wi’out some’at leapin off t’ “shelf” to its demise. T’fair, gentle-hearted lass in charge o’ the ship here don’t care for them types of accidents. Sorry, me beauty, but ‘tis great fun, an’ I don’t usually care what happens when I be havin fun. Aaarrrrr!
What follows be some information fer ye, me hearty. I be passin it along for t’ help wi’ yer piratical pursuits this week. On behalf o' this ship full o’ sprogs, I t’ank ye kindly fer stoppin by!
Farewell, ye buccaneers, I am
Official site: Talk Like A Pirate Day
Another “official” site, and how to be speakin pirate-like
A bunch o’ pirate videos: piratical-satirical stuff, too
Saturday, September 15, 2007
What if you were walking along down the street and you encountered a really big man? I mean BIG. He's there, right in front of you, won’t move. He’s cold, doesn't care what you think of him. This man takes up a lot of space. What would you say? What would you do?
I'll bet you would stare. You would have to take a really close look at him, speechless at how large he truly was. Your children might try to climb on him, not understanding.
(click the photos and he will appear even bigger)
He's art. That's not his name. According to the sculptor, David Phelps
It is good.
Friday, September 14, 2007
You know you're in the Urban Prairie when:
It looks as though the prairie hedge might cover it, if only these plants would grow just a little taller...
Mmmm, maybe not.
This is found right in the middle of the neighborhood, just a block or so from a catholic school and church, houses all around. Handsome!
(click on photos to make them bigger, if you really need to)
Thursday, September 13, 2007
Angels and PVs for you.
(please click photo to see larger picture)
When, perchance, you feel in need of support, this is from me and mine to you and yours, my dear friends.
When T2 was between two and three years of age, we would be driving through the neighbourhood to take older brother to school. Whenever he saw the sunlight touching the early morning dew, he would tell me, "Look, Mommie, angels!" It is one of the sweetest things I have ever heard.
And so I give you...angels.
(click also HERE)
Monday, September 10, 2007
I don’t know exactly how to say this—and that has been part of the problem for about ten days—but something has been bugging me. Maybe not just one thing.
Have you ever had a notion in the back of your mind, there is something you know, but can’t name it, or you had it a moment ago, but then something else happened, you were distracted, and now it’s no longer on the tip of your mind. Something is missing, or something isn’t quite right.
Well, that is what I have had, all summer. Something was not right. But what? I mean, yeah, it was too hot, we all know that. Too hot is just not right! Then, I started seeing it all over the internet, and I realised I had a clue all along. Birds! I was seeing birds in backyards, gardens, fields all over the world, but not here. Where were they? No birds, no birdsong, no birds in sight. I did see signs of them here and there, as you might expect, showing that they dropped by every so often. They would leave souvenirs to remind us.
I thought I had a clue, anyway. The dear Mister said he saw some of them hiding out underneath cars in a parking lot once, on a hot day. We don’t have proof of it, though—he didn’t have a camera handy. It sounded possible at the time. So, did the heat drive them into hiding? Or was it something more…sinister?
This was on our back door screen: praying mantis, wee hours of the morning.
What about this? How would you like to see this in your car, hanging by a thread? You see it out of the corner of your eye: Surely not, there is surely NOT a spider coming down from the sun visor this close to me, while I’m driving!! I don’t wish that on anyone, it’s very unsafe.
Eh—no, I didn’t take this while I was driving. But I did find another setting on the camera, apparently it—what, makes a slower “shutter” speed? It’s a digital camera, and yes, we do have the instruction booklet, what’s the fun of that, anyway? As you can see, this was a moving experience.
Oh alright, this little thing wasn’t as big and scary as you might think. It did make for some interesting moments of contemplation on my part as I drive home, wondering what I would do if it started moving. Toward me.
Here is proof that the bugs are not all scary creatures. This one is surprisingly colourful, and dare I say it, cute.
Guess which plant this is? I know you can.
Ha! This was taken when the others were holding the large, fairly newly opened seed pods. I’m still waiting for this to throw out some late season flowers. It’s possible, isn’t it?
Now, what is it with the bugs and automobiles? This was taken about a month ago. And guess what?
Okay, another break for a cute bug. In my fog, I thought this was taken a week or so later, but the dates on the photos say only a couple days. And you have to totally ignore the photo numbers, I don’t know what’s up with that. This one was taken later than the others, after there was actually some rain. I’m going to stop trying to sort that one out.
Is anybody home? What’s that—a glint in its eye?
I have proof. Soccer season has started. First time in two years for us. Err, that would be football for some of you, and actually, we are going to call it futból, as our coach and trainer are Spanish speakers. “Football” makes more sense to me. Dunno how they got started calling the so-called American football as such, because they rarely touch the ball with the foot. It really should just be called “kill the guy with the ball” ‘cos that’s all I see. That would free up “football” for “soccer”.
But I digress.
What’s bugging me about soccer/football/futból, you ask? Here you go, this is what we saw last Thursday:
When will it END??
And now, I think I shall have to go somewhere quiet, and possibly dark, and just think sweet thoughts, change the energy waves moving through my jumbled mind… just think of…
(photos also found HERE)
Thursday, August 30, 2007
(please click all photos to enlarge)Which is it: The cry of “feed me, mama” heard from little birdlings? Or:
That’s what I saw when these seed pods began to open. Do you know what plant they come from? No, really, do you? ‘Cos I don’t know the name of it. Can you guess what the plant looks like before the seed pods appear? That would be the flower stage. Mmm, you will have to go with my description, then, because surprisingly, I don’t have a photo of the large, pale pink flowers this plant produces. They are about as big as my hand, kind of floppy like an oversized petunia flower, but with a wider base and without a fluted shape. There may be some buds appearing on one of the plants, so I will report back at a later date, unless some very bright person reading this knows this plant. The plant itself stands about 4 feet high! Yes, true. The seed pods are about six inches across. Just kidding! They are only two inches across at the widest part of the largest pod. (Oops, this is an error--they are only about one inch across. I don't think they have shrunk that much.)
The plants have been standing like this for a few weeks now. I have left them because of their unique appearance, and to see what happens next. They don’t seem to be of interest to birds, so I am considering a harvest and planting seeds in a few places around the garden where the soil doesn’t seem to want anything besides crazygrass. We don’t know how it came about that these plants grew up in our garden, but they have come up three years running, in the same location.
When it rained recently, every single one of the seed pods closed up tight—even tighter than this one in the center. As the sun came out the following day, everything rapidly warmed and dried, and these opened up again, status quo ante.
Every time I look at these plants I think of the phrase, “Feed me.” From the parenting world, it recalls a book, “Feed Me, I’m Yours,” by Vicki Lansky, which I see at various book sales. It is highly recommended for its baby- and toddler food recipes and ideas. The book has been around a long time. I always thought that was a clever title.
I was musing over the command that it is: FEED ME! and the idea of being fed. People speak of being intellectually fed, spiritually fed, fed-up, fed food they like or dislike. Lots of us utilise the internet to visit and make friends. We learn of places and people that previously didn’t exist in our immediate vicinity. Are we being fed, or are we feeding ourselves? We are nurturing ourselves, reaching out to those sharing their gifts: words, images, music, knowledge; feeding our hearts and minds with the connections made across the miles. We are feeding others the offertory of our own talents. Complementary—oh, and complimentary--exchanges spring up as we offer each other support; express appreciation.
I enjoy this camaraderie and this community. I’m having a blast learning the ins and outs of operating this, my own small forum of mischief and magic. Now, before I think of another path to explore for a paragraph, here is a little of…which?
Monday, August 27, 2007
This photo, credit: ZAZ(click on each photo to see the bigger picture)
Guess where we went? Chicago. I had to go back to renew my non-accent and recall my dialect. And attend a conference, but I’m not talking about that right now. I’m talking about one of our favorite places to visit downtown. It’s a sculpture park, among other things, called Millennium Park.
It’s right downtown and across the street from the Chicago Art Institute.
This is one of the most interesting things I’ve ever seen, because of the many ways you can look at it, or see into it. You will understand in a moment. It is the Cloud Gate, commonly known as the Bean. I actually found us in this photo, in the reflection.
Cloud Gate is the creation of British artist Anish Kapoor. That’s not chrome, it’s made of highly polished stainless steel plates. Here is even more information.
If you check the link, you will see that this sculpture park has not escaped the corporate naming syndrome. I was really really hoping, but was disappointed. I won’t name the corporation. The city we live in is rampant with the syndrome. At least the public schools and the library system aren’t named after some wealthy businessperson. Yet.
You have to walk inside the Bean. It is absolutely incredible. Look at all the configurations of each person’s reflection:
There we are, at the bottom. Can you see the wild distortions? How many times do you see us reflected?
Here’s a wider view. This time I used a flash. It makes it easier to track us.
We were able to make a family portrait. Does this make me look too… ?
I don’t know where those little things came from, but they would run away and then spring back to our side. We usually have all our things with us, but the eldest was off on a different adventure for the summer.
You can’t see Millennium Park in the photo, but it is on the right. We’re going around the southwest corner of the park, turning north onto Michigan Avenue from Monroe.
I believe we only went one block north to Madison and turned west.
This is the Wabash Avenue elevated train platform, the “el”. We turned left, or south, and drove under it, on Wabash.
Our trip this summer was tempered by the time involved with the conference. It was probably good for us, in a way, as we usually try to do too many things on each expedition northward. Still and all, it was disappointing that we were not able to stop to see our good friends on the way up or back. But wait--that, in itself, gives us new opportunity--time to plan the next journey!
The good news is we took lots of photos, snaps, pics, close-ups, prints, portraits, mugs, landscapes, clicks, shots, images... and there is much more to tell.
(Check this space often!)
Sunday, August 26, 2007
I saw, but didn’t believe. I kept my question short, my comment succinct. “Are you leaving? You can take them.” And there it was. That look. Like a cornered dog on the street. The eyes rolled back and off to the side, then tried to focus on me again, blinking rapidly. “Maybe you should go,” he said, walking into the next room. I stuttered, voicing my objection. “No…Wait! Yes, I will go,” I replied quickly. He turned back to me, his head snapping 'round. He realized what he had said. “No! You’ll take too long. You won’t come back.” He had a point. I wouldn’t. We were back where we started.
“Just go, take them, you’ll be fine.” I was becoming impatient. They were his kids, too, after all. There it was, that flicker of fear in his eyes; that look of bewilderment. He would have to take the boys with him to the store. How would he survive this time? He was tired, hungry! They were coming at him. “Make sure they are wearing clothes,” I reminded him. The stores have rules about that.
Friday, August 24, 2007
Who you callin' a Pansy?
This is a Tansy. And it looks a lot better today than it did just one short week ago, when, as everyone must remember, it was really dry. And hot. I originally planted the tansy because it was purported to keep ants away, which happened to show up uninvited from time to time. "Just plant it by your door" and that was supposed to do the trick. The ants just nodded and walked around it, harrumph. In the end, we used mint spray to get rid of the ants. I was just going to say, we should have planted mint--but we did! We had a lot of it for several years. And yep, it was around the back door. It even grew up between the brick steps. Gotta love that mint. It doesn't affect the ants the way tansy is SUPPOSED to. The mint finally got tired of the searing heat, and didn't come back this year. ::sigh::
This almost looks like the tansy is out in the wild. In a way, it is. It's growing in the garden next to the house. The "grass" is quite persistent and grows quickly, sending out runners. I think it's called "crabgrass" in other places I've lived. Anyhoo, I don't like tending to it, and so I don't, very often. I'm afraid I'm not a very avid gardener here, having had some spectacular failures. The crazygrass makes a nice green background for the tansy, don't you think?
Here's another longtime resident of my garden - twelve years old now, I think:
Poor dear, almost didn't make it, for the first time. And then, it rained. You can see the new growth. I am waiting to see if it will bloom for us now. Have you ever seen rosemary in bloom? Beautiful!
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
Did the kittens make the washer barf them out with the laundry? It looks like the end of the road for these feline felons. And the room looked so nice before--a true CATastrophe.
This is how I found them earlier:
I think they heard us talking about giving them another bath. It looks as though they decided on an alternative. Kind of extreme, if you ask me. I dunno, I had the impression they kind of enjoyed the last shampoo.