Friday, July 29, 2011

At the Edge of Fashion

I saw a fascinating bit of technology today at the interface of fashion and technology:

Electricfoxy talks with Asta Roseway at Microsoft Research from Electricfoxy on Vimeo.

I've been seeing a lot of examples of technology in fashion and art, especially clothing with lights. This piece is unique, in that it is capable of displaying an almost infinite combination of characters. Obviously not ready to be worn down the street, but as a combination of art and science it is very intriguing, and I wonder what the ultimate manifestation of this combination might be. Think of the practical innovations that came out of the Space Program!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Household Necessities

Over at "For the Love of a House" there was a list of housekeeping "must haves" that got me thinking. My list of necessary house stuff:

1.  Magic Erasers - really do work like magic on just about everything, especially tea cups.
2.  The FURminator - The single best pet hair controller anywhere.
3.  The Dyson Animal - for everything the FURminator leaves behind.
4.  Pressure cooker - for emergency meals
5.  Coleman stove - Camping gear pressed into service when storms knock out electricity.
6.  Bleach - cheap & easy germ killing
7.  Vinegar - windows, coffee pots, washing machines, odor killing: all purpose liquid!
8.  Old toothbrushes -  a "free" tool that quickly gets into every little crevice.
9.  Coffee - to drink, to adsorb odors, to kill slugs in the garden. It's hard to beat.
10. Newspaper - to read, to wash windows without streaks or lint, to layer under mulch in the garden to turn weeds into compost. The quality of the reporting may vary but the usefulness of the paper never does.

Of course I'm sure my memory of what I like to use at home is fading..looks like because of the timing of the tile orders we will not have a bathroom until mid August. I don't know whether this is the way it is and what I should have expected or if we are uniquely lucky. I don't know whether I should kick the contractor or designer (or both) in the shins or just roll around in the yard.  Instead I will post another bonus picture of The Amazing Roxanne.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Crawling on the Ground

Those of us who walk along looking at the ground often see very interesting things. One thing I had never seen before was the Indian Pipe . I saw some yesterday on my way to pick up the mail but I did not have my camera with me (I know) and was dragging an uncooperative Mitzi down the road. This morning I noticed some in our yard - a little more mature and not so translucently pretty as the ones I first saw, but just as interesting. At first glance this looks like it should be a fungus, but is actually a flowering plant that feeds on fungi instead of producing food through photosynthesis.

And for those who simply can't get enough of all things Roxy - a new picture with way too much junk in the background. She's slowing down a bit these days but still enjoys a good ramble. Every once in a while I turn her loose in the morning to walk around the yard and she turns up in about 15 minutes at the front door ready for her nap. She's turned out to be a pretty good goose repellent - she'll run at them until they take wing, then come right back in the house. She has no interest in catching them, so she runs at a pretty casual pace.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Playing in the Yard

We are not moved into the house yet, although there are signs of progress in the bathroom in the form of shower pan and plumbing changes. I am going over almost every day to pick up the mail, check for progress, and play in the yard.

So far I've got the front beds pretty much the way I want, the shady bed (with one sunnyish end) is probably near its final condition. It still needs weeding, mulching, and probably a couple of ferns but is otherwise just about done. Today I worked on the sunny corner bed. It needed major weeding - I cheated by laying down newspaper and mulch. It was also a little out of balance because this is the one Irene took some things from when she moved. There were a few plants I moved out to another bed and I added "The Fairy" between a large purple hydrangea and a mature butterfly bush (probably Black Knight, based on the size of the shrub). I added Montauk Daisies and generally cleaned it up.

I started on my all sun all the time bed with a few day lilies, a bit of yucca and some more Montauk Daisies. I don't expect to get much going on this bed this year, in part because I think I will be planting some seeds in this one and it may be too late in the year to get going. I will have some divisions from my gardening friends to get it going, so my main focus this year will probably be planning and soil amendment. It's pretty dry and sandy without much nutritional value.

One thing I saw in the garden today that really caught my eye: a hummingbird moth! I'm guessing a snowberry clearwing moth from its appearance. It's quite large in the body, but with smallish wings and looks like a hummingbird in flight. We had some in Oklahoma, but I've never seen this species before. Very interesting.

To get a closer look you can click on the pictures to enlarge.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Me & My Celebrity Lookalikes

Just for laughs I took a very unflattering picture of myself barefaced with no makeup and bedhead. This is who I look like:

Apparently many celebrities look old and ragged in the morning! I am pretty happy that no men were selected as my lookalikes.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Dementia Resources

I've been keeping my father in law company for the last few months. He has Alzheimer's and is still able to stay in his home with a little help.  It was his late wife's wish that Shana and I help him stay at home and we have been able to help him transition from his wife's passing to becoming accustomed to having some hired caregivers in the house. Although I am certain he does not remember our names I know he recognizes or faces and trusts us as friends and helpers. I've done some searching around the Internet for some information about dealing with this disease and have run across some pretty good resources. Teepa Snow , an expert on Alzheimer's has a series of videos on You Tube that are easy to watch, enoyable, and informative in addition to a helpful website. Here's one:

One other thing I have found on my own is that people, even old friends, are afraid to stop by and reluctant to offer any concrete forms of help. To them I say: "Man Up!" Alzheimer's is not contagious. Don't just pull long faces and ask how the patient is doing when you see me on the street. Ask how the caregiver is doing. Come by to visit, bring some cookies or a casserole, seriously offer to stay for an hour or so to let the caregiver have a break. Offer to pick up groceries or the dry cleaning. We are lucky to be able to hire caregivers, but lots of spouses do not have this luxury and would at the very least like to think that their friends have not all disappeared.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Luxury Defined

Apparently the Heritage Foundation considers a family who possesses a refrigerator, a TV or a microwave not to be poor. Presumably they took their definition of poverty from this very important film (which inspired a great deal of comparative misery in my own family).

You can find the Heritage Foundation's article about this luxury here, along with talking points. I should point out that this is a right wing organization devoted (among other things) to dismantling the social safety net, including Social Security, a program which pays its own way. I might also note that if you had a job until the Great Recession you might have bought a lot of things which you still own. Personally I do not consider a ratty old car, a ceiling fan,a refrigerator or a cordless phone to be the height of consumer luxury.

Our new house now lacks baseboards in addition to the missing bathroom. Apparently the idea is to tear everything up as soon as possible and eventually put things back together. I'm hoping when I go over there today that I will see the copper pan base for the shower installed, but it was supposed to happen yesterday and no one had seen it yet. Fortunately I can work on the yard in the meantime so I can feel like something is looking better. We've got a quarter acre with a variety of exposures, so I think  we can create some great gardens about the place. Shana and I have opposing views of what they should look like. I am of the "wild abandon" cottage style school and Shana prefers the "Chamber of Commerce" school of tidy beds.  Much negotiation lies ahead. So far I think I get the back my way and the front her way and I do all the work. Front door beds are done, shady garden is (mostly) done, bedroom side corner is already planted with mature shrubs, needs weeding, mulch, one shrub and some underplanting. To be planned:  back corner hydrangea and hosta bed leading on to a mixed shrub border along the south side to the street, sunny cottage and cutting garden behind and around the shed, plantings along the driveway to lead down towards the street.The prospective herb garden is in place but totally empty.  The pictures were taken very early in the year and before I had started on them with weeding and planting. I'll take after pictures of these beds in a month or so when the new plantings have relaxed and filled in.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Inace's Memorial

This weekend we buried Inace's ashes and held a memorial service with her Menahaunt friends at Grace Chapel. The pictures and videos are over at my Flickr Gallery (link on the left sidebar) except for the last part of the service which was too long for Flickr and can be seen here on You Tube. I think everything was as Inace had requested and the family is comfortable with how things were arranged.

Friday, July 15, 2011

And on a Different Note

Seriously? Will they really consider raiding a program which actually has a current surplus and is paying its own way in order to find another way to make the powerless hand over money so the richest few Americans and powerful corporations do not have to pay their fair share?

Sorry some of my You Tube clips seem to hang over - I don't know how to fix that, so too bad for your eyes!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Alternative Plumbing Arrangements

Things are moving along with our house projects. I called our contractor when I left work this afternoon to find out if he needed me to let him into the house and he told me not only had he gone into the house, but my bathroom was already gone. Good thing the porta-potty was delivered yesterday! I had to zip over there right away to see how it looks. Apparently some of the floor and some of the insulation will need to be replaced because of some water damage. This is about what I expected, and is not as bad as I feared. When you tear things up strange things can appear! Prior experience with renovation cause me to be a little anxious. The porta-potty is very nice and clean, picturesquely situated in the back corner of my yard among the trees.

This weekend Shana and I have to select a sink and faucets for the bathroom and kitchen and the shower plumbing fixtures. I suppose if we want indoor plumbing again we will have to select a toilet. Shana will be pleased to know that the old toilet has been hauled away so I can't use it as a planter. So disappointing!

In the meantime I am amusing myself in the yard weeding and planting. Last weekend I planted somethings from my MIL's garden (and will be taking some additional plants as time and space permit). Today I purchased a few new things from Mahoney's Garden Center  - my first plant purchases in Massachusetts. I had been in before to scope out the place and tried to stick to my list of must-haves: one Japanese painted fern and one sum and substance hosta. I succumbed to two beautiful gloriosa daisies of a variety I had not seen before - golden centers instead of red and very striking, and two gorgeous wine colored astilbes. I could easily have filled my car! The daisies are pretty mature plants, but I contented myself with 4" pots for the rest.

Saturday, July 09, 2011

a Bird Especially for Richard

For my brother, who thinks chickens are scary, a video of a really big eagle:

This is a Steller's Eagle, the largest of the raptors. I especially like his "trousers". Actually Richard was not too far off finding chickens to be alarming. They are probably T Rex's closest living relatives, as has been found by DNA research..

Shana and I are staying at the house this weekend - we are cozily ensconced in our respective lairs this afternoon. I was hoping to get out into the garden Monday, but part of the day will be devoted to a Falmouth Garden Club luncheon where my late Mother-in-Law is receiving an award.  Disappointingly late in coming, I don't mind saying. The notice that she would be receiving this award she would have so valued did not come until it was too late for her to read it. Shana and I will be accepting in her stead.

Friday, July 08, 2011

Friday Night With Fried Chicken

Cape Cod Light interior stairs

In a few minutes my dinner (take out fried chicken) will arrive and soon after that Shana and I will go to the new house to spend our first night there  - in the guest room, where we have actual dressed beds set up. Wednesday the demolition guy will be there to tear out our bathroom and I will be relegated to a porta-potty the the back yard (a surprisingly affordable option) and showers to be taken at the House of Dobberteen until our bathroom is finished. I will take some "before" pictures, but will probably not post them until I have some  "during" and "after" pictures. There is something discouraging and unattractive about a living room furnished with three camp chairs and an ice cream machine in the box serving as an end table.

The part time job with A Major Retailer is going well - at least I think so. I am enjoying it and I'm sure it is giving me good exercise. My feet, legs and hands are a little annoyed with me tonight, but I would argue that moving boxes from storage into my basement are at least as much to blame for the pain.
Cape Cod Light interior stairs

Pictures are from the Interior of Cape Cod Light, not the interior of my house!

Saturday, July 02, 2011

In Case You Missed It

Link to the text here.

Link to Bernie's petition here.

I'll be staying close to home for the weekend, and watching fireworks from the back yard. Shana's meeting the delivery men for our guest room beds this morning; the barbecue grill and Internet will be set up by the middle of next week. Although we won't have all of our things at the new house until our floors are done the major requirements of modern life will be there!

When I looked around the house yesterday I found that I am going to have to reevaluate what furniture we are going to be able to use. Some spaces are tighter than I thought and some (a little) more forgiving. With our mattress sitting on the floor in the bedroom to demonstrate how much room the bed will need I am thinking maybe our existing nightstands are not going to fit. I was planning to paint them, but I may have to change the plan and haunt second hand stores for some more petite alternatives. I can't shrink the bed or my dresser and don't want to give up my giant kitschy lamps but maybe can get a little more of a spacious feeling from some smaller scale night tables. I have a feeling I'd better put a measuring tape in my bag!

Pictures today are from an unoccupied house in Wellfleet. I thought the doll face in the window was particularly striking.