Sunday, April 29, 2012

Never on a Sunday, a Sunday, a Sunday

It was a beginner's mistake. A rookie error. Amateur hour. I should have known better. I've been doing this for years. I'm an old hand. But I got too cocky, too sure that the old standards could be questioned, new frontiers bridged with a bold decision.

I had a garage sale on a Sunday......................................That is the sound of no customers..........and more silence to was a quiet day on a very busy street.

The difference between Sunday and Saturday for a garage sale is like the difference between a canoe and the Titanic, a chihuahua and Marmaduke, a single M&M and a slice of Oreo cheesecake. What happens in that brief 24-hour period is powerful stuff. The mere attempt to clean out the the garage on a Saturday will get passers-by to pull up and yell "Are you perhaps having a GARAGE SALE"? But a day later, that same stuff put out on the lawn just merits looks of contempt, "Look Bob, the peasants are trying to make fifty cents, how very sad. Keep driving so as not to get their little hopes up."

My friend Nina and I tried to have a sweet little sale today. She had beautiful prom type dresses and cute clothes to sell, I had my quilts. We also had some air filtering machines from her Dad and some wild shoes. It was a crazy busy street. Wow, hardy a soul. Not even for the free clothes. A homeless and toothless man on a bicycle actually stopped to ask if we had any khaki shirts with pockets. He was one fashion-conscious homeless dude he was. He was not interested in our box of free clothing.

One woman did stop to rave about my quilts, she called them show stoppers, she did. But that very morning she had loaned her son some money and was unable to purchase the quilt she was desiring, the Chicken Quilt for the Soul. Lousy no-good son of hers, how dare he take my purchase away!

The only positive that came from the day, besides the air cleaner machine we sold for Nina's dad and the few clothes she sold? I went through those free boxes that were leftovers from another garage sale and found a bunch of long jean skirts - a dream to cut up compared to real jeans. The worst part of the day? I missed a call to sub at work for real money. UGH, the Sunday that got away.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

What screen door?

Our first dog was genetically predisposed not to jump. He was one hundred pounds and never had the hips or the desire to bound through the air or anywhere else. His first owners bought him a ramp to get in their car. We just hauled him up. Sometimes it was a little embarrassing, and definitely hard on the back, but a dog won't do what a dog won't do. He absolutely would not climb the ramp at Launder Dog, again our backs were sacrificed for our dog's unwillingness to leave the ground.

Kodie ever so slowly made this hole in the screen door; it was his snack window. Little visitors to our house who were afraid of dogs would pet him from inside while he stayed outside. soaking up the love through his walk-up affection window. He eventually popped out the bottom part, but by then was not limber enough to crawl under. It was enough to keep him out and let all the flies in. It was one really useless screen door, but we are cheapskates so that was that.

When Molly moved in, we realized that she just crawled right under. She got so used to slamming through, that while visiting our neighbors she just ran right through their screen and ripped their screening out. Time to kick her of that habit. The Big E installed a mesh at the bottom, and despite a few puzzled looks from the Molls, we finally had a screen door that could at least keep dogs out, if not flying pests.

For the last week we kept letting her out and wondering why the other person kept letting her back in. She is quite the little Home Girl, so she always wants to be inside. The whines are pitiful, and we are suckers. Duh, we finally saw her do it, she was leaping in. Now we really need to get a decent door, because if you can't even keep the pests in, what's the point?

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Eine Steppdecke für kleine Paula

Translation to English - A quilt for little Paula

 We started our travels in Europe back in 1993 with a trip to Czech Republic, Austria and Ukraine. The last stop was to visit my husband's German family near Bremen. For the next several trips, our European adventures would always include a trip up there to see them all, sometimes quite a trek to the family home in Northern Germany from our other travels. The house was spotless, the washing machine a welcoming sight (and smell), the food was yummy, and the scenery green and gorgeous. I always left feeling refreshed and healthier, full of food from the garden, good clean air and lots of exercise in a beautiful country setting.

When we first went, the household consisted of Ernst's Oma, his uncle and aunt and their two girls, Silke and Anka. My first memory of the cousins is shy giggly girls, embarrassed to use the English they were learning in school. Our next few trips saw the cousins growing into young ladies, getting boyfriends and then moving out to apartments in Bremen. The last few times we saw the girls and their guys involved food, Becks beer and walking around the city, not necessarily in that order. Now they are married to those young men and here come the babies!

Well, for now just one baby - Paula. She looks so much like a little Ernst! And she knows already she does not like pink and purple, she prefers blues and greens and yellows. So glad I asked, the trip to the fabric store was much easier for a baby who knows what she wants. This one is all flannel with an elephant and animal theme, super soft and cuddly.

So little Paula, this one is for you via the US Postal Service and Deutsche Post. I'm getting a little sad about all our German friends having babies, and me not going there to hand deliver them my blankets. Who knows when we'll get there again - these kids will probably all know two or three languages before we finally meet them.  The closest we'll get to Germany will have to be the beer for a while, perhaps a Pauli Girl?

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Where the Golden Dogwood grows

 After all the intense weather last week, our garden is enjoying some perfectly mild sunny weather. Our Yellow Barked Dogwood  is one of the plants that's proving spring is really here for good.

Back in August 2010 we were in the sad situation of needing to have our Kodie the Wonder Dog put to sleep. We wanted to bury him in the yard that he ruled like a canine king. Eventually we helped fill the hole in our hearts with another adopted dog, but what would fill the bare place in the yard over this very large dog's grave? While Ernst was in charge of the digging, I went off in search of a nice plant to have at the ready for the upcoming sad day.

Because it was a nursery I knew would be low stress, I headed over to Fair Oaks Boulevard Nursery. I walked in a bit teary-eyed and open for any suggestions they might have. A very kind employee approached me; I explained to her our situation and where this to-be-purchased plant would be in the yard. She gave it a few moments thought and then suggested a Yellow Barked Dogwood. Not only did she come up with a fitting suggestion, she said we would call it a Golden Barked Dogwood, since Kodie was a Golden Retriever. Then she did something that really surprised me. She said the nursery had such a plant, but it was not in very good shape and she would not want us putting it in to mark our dog's grave. She suggested I go to Green Acres Nursery and pick up a dogwood in better shape than the one they had.

I drove away in disbelief that someone would turn down a sale and send me to a competitor just because it was the right thing to do. I went to Green Acres and after another teary conversation with a kind employee, purchased a hand-picked dogwood. It now gives us a wonderful touch of bright yellow in the winter and these pretty white blossoms in the spring. And that is why I love the personal attention I get at the smaller independent nurseries dotted around town. If we shop at them, they will thrive.

Here's what else is going on in our spring garden:

The apple tree is in full bloom. And the bees have found it!

The rock roses I bought at Green Acres are happy and sprawling away.

And thanks a bunch to neighbors that plant beautiful climbing roses that tumble over our fence.

The White Trash Winter Garden is still going strong. We're on about the sixth harvest of lettuce and greens.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Suzie Q, the Have a Cow Quilt

 First let me say to all my friends named Sue or Susan or Susie or Suzie - this quilt is not named after you. It came with the name on the original cow themed tote bag fabric. Unless, that is, you want to have a bovine blanket named in your honor. In that case this one's for you, Sue.

This was one fun quilt to make. It had such goofy directions on it about udders and ears and other cow parts. It even had a little story on it about Suzie Q taking her cow to shcool (it had school mispelled). It was fun trying to cut out the best parts while getting the most cow for my buck.

I used up some of the vast amount of toille drapery fabric I picked up at Goodwill, plus some vintage fabric from my friend Judy. The calico was a remnant from the fabric store, the checks were from my stash and the colorful print is one I picked up the very happy day at the Goodwill when I found both the cow fabric and a pair of pants that fit perfectly. Long live the Goodwill!

How often you do see that in a quilt?

So sorry Suzie Q, but your head just had to go.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

A bovine blanket is born

I about had a cow when I found this fabric at the Goodwill store.

That same day, I found another piece of fabric that matched well - a pink, white and yellow geometric print. Today I found a really cute pink calico in the remnant bin at the fabric store, and I was in "udder" heaven.
It was supposed to rain today and I was still feeling drooly from a trip to the dentist, so I decided to stick around the pasture and sew up a rag quilt. Coming up for air and water a few hours later, I was really happy with the results. The quilt is in the wash now getting all fuzzy and cute for its debut on Etsy. I may have to wait for some sunshine to photograph the finished project, but it's basically done and I can mooooove on to other things.

I was butchered by a vegan!

All Squared Up

Chicken Pot Pie

This was my other project today, inspired by the Chicken Pot Pie on Pretty Yummy Foods. There is no chicken, there is no pie, it's not exactly in a pot, but it was meatless and it was dinner. The plops of Trader Joe's pizza dough on top sort of turned out like hockey pucks, but they were pretty yummy hockey pucks.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Garden Party Crashers

On the original guest list

It is iris time and that is the best time in our garden. When we moved here all craziness was breaking loose with a heart attack mixed with floor sanding mixed with paint parties. The garden was the least of our worries. After the sawdust settled, we looked outside and said "Yuck, what a mess!" Weeds, stumps and plants were doing very bad things.

Some places in the yard got all that I had at the time - a large donation of bearded iris rhizomes that a friend dug up from her yard. Those freebies have been the workhorses of our garden. They provide that amazing shot of elegance and color, plus their spiky leaves act like real plants the rest of the year, unlike other bulbs that behave like wilting violets once their beauty is gone.

This year we have a lovely volunteer, an almost black bearded iris that has come out of nowhere. A truly black flower is yet to be developed, I understand, and like most this turns to a deep purple. But that unfurled petal is as dark and lovely as you can get, and it did it all on its own. You just have to love these fun garden surprises, so much nicer than finding a weed with roots that reach Asia. Long live the uninvited flower to the garden party! No invitation? No problem, as long as you don't start with a W, end with a D and scream EEEEEEE in the middle.

The invitation said casual, but this guest went black tie. What a class act.

The black stays on the petal edges, fading to a deep purple. This party crasher is most welcome.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Babies need calenders

Our congregation has a brand new member! Her name is Oana, pronounced like "wanna." As in I wanna come into this world on April 5th, the night mom and dad and the whole family are observing the most important and sacred event of the year. But babies don't come with calandars or watches; they come when they come - ready or not. Oana decided to come about 40 minutes before 7:30 when the observance began. A very tired dad and the friend who was helping translate at the hospital stumbled in around 7:40 in their jeans and sweat shirts (and of course with pictures on their cell phones for everyone to see the new arrival). Welcome little Oana. Your timing may be off but your birth will be well remembered by all who know you.

Monday, April 2, 2012

A bear's eye view of China

The calendar says it and so do my yellow irises: it really has been a year since we returned from our trip to China. I remember staggering up to our house last year, with a serious case of jet lag and culture shock. I saw the pretty yellow irises in our flower bed, but the only bed I was interested in was the one with sheets and a pillow.

We are super big on travel and have gone many times to Europe and the former Eastern bloc countries. While not of the backpacking crowd, our travel style is a bit gritty and we've had some amazing experiences. Nothing prepared us for China though. Even flying in, looking over the countryside, I knew this would be like no other place we had been before. I brought my laptop and blogged as much as I could on vacation. Since posting from China is difficult, my friend Myra of Interactive Expat very kindly uploaded my emails and photos for me.

On our last trip to Europe, we bought this little red key chain bear and took pics of it all over Europe, even filming a crazy little video one rainy night in Poland as a thank-you for our hosts. So we dusted off Jessica Bear and brought it along on our trip to China. We meant to make a little thank-you video for our wonderful hosts in Beijing who treated us to this fabulous twentieth anniversary present. Sorry, never got around to the video, and after a year, I think this is as good as it's going to get. (By the way, in my posts, for reasons known by our friends, we refer to them as Brad and Angelina, Brangelina or just B and A. We were not visiting the movie stars.)

We shot these captions with Bananagrams one morning in Qingdao when Brad had food poisoning. We were laughing so hard and quickly trying to get it done between times that Angelina was coming out to talk with us.

Something interesting happens when you photograph a very small thing in a very big place. It forces you to look at the details and get some interesting perspectives on the smaller world behind the bigger one. Our little bear project made us stop and look at some things we would otherwise have passed up on our way to the bigger attractions.

Beijing was our home base, where Brangelina live.
The Summer Palace still had a little ice in the moat.

Look, weird Americans taking pictures of a key chain!
You can't go to China and not meet a panda.

At a most relaxing tea shop.
Forbidden City, I think?
We passed up the Forbidden City to go Geocaching.
Kicking back at the park.

Hanging around at the same park.

A real head turner.
If the shoe fits...

Key chains!

What do you know, made in China.
Enough shopping already.

The candy was cheap, interesting and mostly yummy.
Finding some long lost cousins.

Forget Cup 'o Soup, they have Bucket 'o Soup.

A Where's Waldo impression.

More candy!

Some odd sort of fruit at the market.

They sell green tea Oreos in China. They taste just like Oreos, but with green white stuff.

B, A and the Big E climbed it to the top, the two Jessicas got some gondola assistance the second half.
The only place we paid to stay in China; water pipes were frozen but the heater worked.

A VERY cold sunrise on Tai Shan.

Different spelling, but it's where they brew the well-known Chinese beer.

 Bear on tap.
After a restful stay in Qingdao, it was a smelly train ride back to Beijing.

Is this where Mr. Dumpty had his Great Fall?
We walked and climbed and never saw another person for hours. Was it really China?

The idea with these next photos was to make some sort of little stop action video for Brangelina, but seeing as we have taken no action on that, just scroll down really fast, blur your eyes and pretend the bear is climbing up and down the Great Wall. A few bottles of Tsingtoa may help with this do-it-yourself movie. (No beer was involved in the shooting of these pictures, maybe just some really strong American coffee at the apartment we were staying.)

So that was our China Vacation 2011. It was the trip of a lifetime for two travelers who have had several trips in our lifetime. Where will we go next? Our passports are up-to-date and our key chain is ready for some new adventures.

Some of my posts from China 2011: