Sunday, October 31, 2010

halloween done right

Halloween is not my favorite holiday. Oh, sure, it can be fun. The decorations are cool. I have to say I have enjoyed making costumes for my favorite - and only - daughter, too. Still... it just isn't.

When I was growing up, my brothers and I had a great time dressing up and wandering up and down all the streets in our neighborhood trick or treating. We knew a lot of our neighbors, and we would check out our friends' houses, and some neighbor or another who had a particularly scary set-up. It was all in fun.

Then came the days when car-loads and truckloads of people would cruise through the neighborhood, and keep coming past 10 PM. Adults, who just should have been buying their own candy, if they wanted it. You would hardly see anyone you actually knew. Not so much fun any more.

Now, I live in a different neighborhood, one with a lot of families. It's not a pretentious neighborhood, that anyone is likely to just go cruise through. There are lots of young kids who go to the same school my daughter does, and Halloween seems more fun again. Not every house goes in for passing out candy. Really, that's OK by me. We get lots of family groups. Elementary and preschool kids, in cute costumes. They get mesmerized by the decorations. They stretch to reach the doorbell. I even get an occasional "Thank you, Mrs. Honeycutt!" They start a little bit before dark, and by 8PM, they're done. Well, after all, most of us are off to school or work in the morning.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

spoiled alert

Wait. Should that be spoiler alert? Nah, we definitely got spoiled tonight. You see, we ate enchiladas tonight. Home made ones. With the family gathered around, with 10 children running around and playing. The best kind of casual family gathering. I fried eggs, while Tennie and Roxanne built stacks of delicious enchiladas. When we reached critical mass (no more filled plates would fit into the oven to melt the cheese), everyone lined up to get theirs. All this while more plates are getting filled. Want a special order? This is your time to make your request.

There were beans, of course, and chips and salsa, sour cream (one of my favorites) and pickles. Enchilada dinner as usual, Las Cruces style.

So, what was special? It was the first big batch of enchiladas made with this year's chili crop. It was delicious, of course, and hot. Not as hot as some years, but definitely up there. So now, there's a freezer stuffed with bags of red chili, ready to be transformed into red enchiladas, or whatever else hits our fancy. MMmmmmm

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

done with it

I got Raine's costume finished. The white glove are so her fingers look like claws coming out of the sleeves. What do you think about that for a brainstorm? I'm pretty pleased with the new configuration for the wings. I think they work well, and look more wing-y. I like the movement that having the detachable sleeve allows. I think that will be a more comfortable arrangement in the long run. She's pretty happy with it, too. We'll slick back her hair and do some face paint on Halloween to complete the dragon.

Now, if I could only find (and then remember) the right setting so that my pictures aren't so blurry all the time!


Sunday, October 24, 2010

...sung to the tune of...

Earlier this evening, I started to blog. I sat there with the window open, staring at the blank page. Oh, sure I checked out Cake Wrecks, and The Customer isn't Always Right, but... hm.... nope, still nothing resembling interesting. Oh well.

I mean, I was planning to take pictures of Raine in her costume again, now that it is basically finished, and - with Carl's help - the wings are better. She got busy with friends. Kids. Isn't that JUST like them? yeah. Here are a couple of pictures of the wingier wings I hope aren't too blurry. I would leave it at that, but then I got to thinking about some of my process with that costume, and then I wanted to talk about it. Wait. So, why am I writing about talking about it instead of just writing about it?

I love the process I went through to create Raine's costume. Oh, sure I want other people to think its cool. I really want other kids to want one like hers. Then she'll think its cool too. Right? But I enjoyed envisioning the pieces, and how they would come together. I've enjoyed building it, piece by piece, and I can critique it here and there, and I've thought about what I would do, next time. Next time? Huh?

I think I could get carried away with this. Oh, sure, I actually do have ideas for another costume, based on some of what I already made. Um, yeah, I DO have the fabric, too. But, but... its a gold and red dragon, instead of a green dragon. Well, yeah, I do understand that Halloween is getting close. Yeah, she CAN only wear one costume... at a time. But she LOVES dragons. Yeah. Carried away.

I have more carried away-ness though. Sort of. I keep wondering how marketable these would be. Would kids really want them? Would parents pay for them? Would parents want one? Would I be able to sell them through Etsy? (I think that would be cool). How much time am I ready to spend on this, anyway? What about parts?

Then the brainstorm hit. (*and the music swells in the background*) Wingsleeves! (are my heart's desire) I think that I could make a sleeve, with a wing attached that you could add to a costume, or, pretty much anything you chose to wear it with. They might be sleeves to tie on, as in Renaissance garb and other versions could be sort of shrug-like. What do you think? I am really asking for feedback here. Would YOU want these? Keep in mind that I would have to practice, you might actually get some...

Is it a bad sign when just thinking of a name for something sets off the music in your head? (LA la la LA la la) Wingsleeves.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

perspective and distance

I went to a funeral today. I went to show respect for a man I knew casually, who became part of my extended family, more or less, when his daughter married one of my cousins. Later, the two divorced, but this man and his wife attended family dinners, and parties and what-have-you with wonderful grace and acceptance and cheerfulness. I felt I could respect that by attending the services held today.

Funerals are not easy. It is never easy to say that good-bye to a loved one, and the pain and emotion can really cloud the memory of the ritual. There are good reasons for the funeral ritual, though, as there are good reasons for many of our common rituals. While I do in general understand the need for and the place of these rituals, I don't always feel the need to participate intimately in them. I think, for me, funerals are the exception.

You learn something important about the person who has died at their funeral. You see the people who cared for him or her, and you can kind of see their various circles of influence: family, work, faith, friends. Sometimes they overlap, and sometimes not so much. When you aren't as emotionally involved, you can still gain a measure of respect for the person, and the various legacies they leave behind. The memories that are shared. The impact of their actions and their lives on others.

In some ways, it would be nice to be able to understand more of these aspects at the funeral of someone dearly loved, instead of being focused on the loss itself. I don't know how you would do that though, for that is, essentially the heart of a funeral.

Friday, October 22, 2010

happy clapping

WOo Hoo! There is progress being made by Peter Jackson on The Hobbit. Casting is being done, and so its one step closer to being on my screen. I really enjoyed the Rings trilogy, and I thing Jackson did a fabulous job on them. One of the best things was the job they did on the characteristics of the various races. Yes, my fangirl flag is flying on this one.

Of course, I'm just not celebrity struck enough to go read up on all the actors, or anything. I just want them to do their jobs, and do them well. I want to be mesmerized and entertained. I want to be in awe of the landscape, and cheering for the good guys. Honestly, I want THIS to be the version of The Hobbit that defines the work for me.

Here's hoping. And waiting.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

thurdsay not friday

I wanted it to be Friday today. All day. But, no.

Tomorrow morning I go to parent/teacher conference with Raine's teacher. Raine is still having behavior issues, and I'll take Raine with me, so that we can ALL talk about them, and the consequences, and everyone will know what everyone said, and will know that everyone knows.

On the other hand, I've heard and seen evidence of Raine's learning. It's like she leveled up in reading this week. We read for 15-30 minutes in the evening, once she gets ready for bed. I could tell she was at a thresh hold because her reading had changed some. She would read a phrase 3 or 4 times, trying to get a feel for it. Then, this week, magic. Where we were reading 1 chapter in 15-20 minutes, now we are reading 2 in the same amount of time. We read 4 chapters two nights in a row! On the last chapter, I could tell she was getting fatigued, and her attention would start to wander... but wow! Improvement! I can also tell that her number sense and math skills are improving. She will talk to us about things like counting by 2's or 5's... or even 4's. Won't be long until we're working on memorizing the multiplication tables. (yep, I'm gonna make her do that, even though she'll use calculators like crazy, I'm sure).

Beyond that, Carl came up with a solution for the wing issue. I'm pretty sure it will work, and we'll put it in trial over the weekend. If we like it, there will be pictures...

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

costume update

After a weekend bout of the stomach flu, and several early morning calls to the bathroom, I went to school, got ready for a sub, then came home. I rested. I hope I can keep feeling better. I REALLY hope that Raine doesn't catch it.

In the afternoon, I plugged in the sewing machine and worked on Raine's Halloween costume. Ron worked on grommets, and we got some pieces tied together.

The picture is sort of blurry, and there was no flash, as the camera was running low on battery power. Anyway, there are the sleeves tied on, and the wings tied together, and tied to the sleeves. Not sure I'm crazy about how the wings "work" but Raine seemed pleased. The claw effect with the gloves works pretty well. The only thing I haven't made yet is the shoe covers.

So, here's hoping the general response will be, Wow! Where did you get that costume? Instead of the snide, Where did you get that costume?

Monday, October 18, 2010

a ring

Ron and I will celebrate our tenth anniversary, next month. Early on, when we were traveling back and forth from Colorado to New Mexico, Ron set his wedding band on top of the car and then forgot to put it back on before we drove away. We heard it slide off the top of the car, and although we stopped and searched, it was - of course - gone. We really couldn't afford it, but we ponied up and replaced the ring.

When he started working on the construction crew, which sometimes involved electrical work, Ron found a ceramic band that wouldn't conduct electricity and wore that.

Yesterday, he surprised me with a whole new set of rings. Hematite. Beautiful, glossy, deep gray bands. One for each of us. One of the coolest things? They are magnetized, and will stick to each other. As you can tell, I like. I like very much. Some people may go for gemstones, and I will admit those are beautiful, but this is MY style. Totally.

Friday, October 15, 2010

regular Americans

A couple of things, working together, got me thinking today. Yeah, I know, it must be a mistake. Still, It seemed like fodder for a blog, so here goes.

Part One: Bill O'Reilly went on the program The View, and whatever else it was he talked about, I saw the clip where he talks about the Mosque that is proposed to be built near where the Twin Towers went down. His point was that the mosque should not be there because Muslims killed us. Two of the women who are on the view, Joy Behar and Whoopie Goldberg both objected to his wording, saying essentially that it wasn't ALL Muslims, but extremist Muslims that did that terrible crime. Bill O'Reilly got loud, and the two women walked off the set.

Part Two: This morning, as I got in my car, to drive to work, the radio personalities on the morning show that I listen to were evidently referencing that program, and those events, and had said something like, regular Americans agree with Bill O'Reilly. I didn't hear what they actually said, so I am not pretending to quote them. They had a caller who asked them who they meant by "regular" Americans. They responded politely, and then the debate started on exactly what a "regular" American was, and if that term was offensive. Evidently there was indeed some debate on that issue, but I felt like that debate sidetracked the heart of the issue. THAT was what got me started thinking.

It seems to hinge on the idea of "regular." Who is a "regular" American? Certainly I feel that I fall in that category. My family exists within the median income of our area. We attended public schools, and my daughter attends one now. I was born in America, and can trace my roots back to American colonial times. Still, my ancestors - at least some of them - were immigrants. Perhaps I'm smarter than average, and with a Master's Degree more educated than many. Does that take me out of the "regular" pool?

Setting aside the issue of whether a mosque should be built near ground zero, let's consider a few things. Regular Muslims did not attack us on 911. Extremists did. Extremist Christians can be just as violent and murderous, as Timothy McVeigh proved in Oklahoma. Bill O'Reilly is, to my mind, an extremist. His views are designed to cause drama and contention, and that's what he gets paid for. Without the controversy, he wouldn't stay in the spotlight long. Sure, there are "regular" Americans who believe what he says, and agree with some if not all of his views. If agreeing with Bill O'Reilly is what it takes to be a "regular" American, however, you can count me out. How big a step is it from agreeing with an extremist to actually being one? I don't know.

Of course, there are those who would consider my political views extreme, if only because they don't mirror their own. So. What is a "regular" American? I'm not really sure. I'm not sure the radio personalities came to any conclusion this morning either. I had to turn the radio off, and go into work. To my mind, Joy, Whoopie, and the morning caller all had the same basic idea. Don't blame everyone for what extremists are willing to do. So many definitions of "regular" and no context to compare it to. What are discriminating minds to do?

Thursday, October 14, 2010

celtic music

I really enjoy Celtic music. It is lively, and joyful, and there is just something about the harmonies that reaches me. Because of my interest in Celtic music, I've listened to more folk music and decided that I really enjoy a lot of that as well. Notice I said fold, not country. Yeah, there is a big difference. Not so much into the "pop" music all those kids listen to today. Yep, fuddy in my duddy.

Anyway, I just spent a very pleasant hour (or almost hour) listening to Celtic music on The Thistle and Shamrock, the Celtic music show that NPR plays. They stream it afterwards, and they have the last three shows available on the Thistle and Shamrock website. LOVE. IT. Wanted to share.

One of the things about this new-fangled computer age is the ability to listen or watch when you are ready. This show comes on at a bad time for me, on the radio, but I can just listen to it whenever I want, from the web. Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

we all know one

A cat with a shoe fetish. Come on. Admit it. Here's Ginger, happily using Raine's sneaker as a pillow. Not even the disturbance of Raine and I talking about it, Raine coming over to look at her, then me going to get the camera and snapping a photo disturbed her enough that she moved.

At least she didn't have her head buried inside it. At least she wasn't wearing it for a hat. This time.

She did talk to us about it, as she talks to us about many things, especially things she is not happy about, or things she wants us to do for her. Or things she is about to do that she shouldn't.

If you like cats, and you haven't checked out Simon's Cat, you should.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

someone else's creativity

Raine went to a birthday party this evening. Oh. Yeah. I did too. Made for a long day for me, but Raine had a good time, and the party was at one of her favorite places: Chuck E Cheese.

The birthday boy is one of her friends from school, and he is a nice kid, and his family are nice people, too. I got to meet his grandmas and grandpas and even some great grandmas & great grandpas. Pretty cool, really, that lineage, and getting to know them all. One of the things that Raine won't have.

Anyway, his grandma was talking about making this cow costume for his older sister, when she was 3 or so, and how she had recently dug it up, and the girl - being a kid, as kids will - tried it on. It fit around her body, and she could get her arms in the sleeves. AH-HA thinks her grandma. She opens up the front and puts in a zipper, cuts off the little cow legs and adds them to the sleeves. Voila! a cow jacket! OMG it was really cute and fuzzy and it even had the ears and horn on the hood. I loved it!

Monday, October 11, 2010

a case of the mondays

Can I take them back and only have half a case? Maybe just a six-pack would be enough. There was stuff to do today that I didn't get done, darn it, and I'm going to bed anyway. Soon.

First I wanted to show you my shirt, which I enjoyed wearing today. Even though you can't tell from my expression, I got some nice complements on it today. I think it will work well as a jacket-y thing too. I like the way jackets look. I just get too hot in them, generally speaking. Long sleeves as well, unless it is really cold, and I'm outside. Well, I wore them in the Colorado winters, but not so much in the New Mexico ones.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

getting closer to done

The costume, I mean. I got to work on it for a while on Saturday. Got the wings mostly constructed, and the sleeves, too. There is some edging to be done with bias tape on both, and on the vest as well. I think it will help reinforce areas that will be pierced with grommets as well make those edges look more finished. A lot of parts are going to be tied together, and we are almost ready to start putting in the holes.I think it will look pretty cool, plus then Raine can choose the parts she wants to wear, and be creative with her costume for Halloween and beyond. The one thing I haven't tackled is a shoe cover. Something to be a dragon foot over her sneaker. I don't think it will be hard, but I haven't gotten my head all around it yet. I hope I have enough of the snake skin pleather to do the shoe covers with... and I THINK I do.

I did get my shirt finished. The one with the black and white flowers. I really like the way it turned out, yay me and Roxanne. I'll be wearing it to work tomorrow. This afternoon, I only had a short time to sew with Roxanne (some Sunday's are like that). While she finished the hems and waistband for her tan slacks, I worked on paisley. Yep, we pulled out the embroidery machine and got to work on that linen tunic top. We are ending up with Paisleys around the hemline, with a mild learning curve involving the logistics of embroidering on an already constructed garment. Evidently, embroidery should be completed on a traced out piece that isn't really even cut out yet. Then you don't have to struggle so much with getting the fabric on the hoop, or fearing that you are going to embroider the front and the back of the garment together. Still I think the paisleys will look very cool around the hemline of the top, and we can add other decorative stitching around the neckline. Each paisley takes over 10 minutes to embroider, but you push a button and the machine takes off, no footpedal to control or anything. Better than watching the drier spin the clothes!

Friday, October 8, 2010

october sewing

Well, the nine weeks is over, and done. I feel a little free this weekend. Free-er than perhaps I should, since I need to do some planning and prep for next week, but I don't feel overwhelming pressure at this point. ahhhh

I'm hoping hoping hoping to get some sewing done tomorrow. Raine's costume isn't finished yet, and I would like to work on it. There are dragony wings to construct, and sleeves to edge and finish. The hood needs some attention as well. My pedal foot is itching and I really want to see how it all comes together. I also have some finishing touches to put on a couple of the things Roxanne and I worked on last weekend.

I'm sure Raine will be as happy as I to have that sewing get done on her costume.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

a little brag

I know that none of you (well, unless you landed here purely by accident) will be surprised if I say that I am a proud mama. Oh, sure, I am under no mistaken illusion that my child is perfect. She pushes boundaries like I never did. Still she's cute, and articulate, and bright, and a good artist. She loves to draw. She will occasionally color in a coloring book, but - really - she prefers to make up her own pictures. She's seven, and although there is a primitive quality to her drawing - not to mention a lot of dragons, creatures and dinosaurs - I think she shows some real talent.

Last summer, she took a multicultural arts and crafts class, where she got to try out some cool techniques and learn what a paisley is. Since then, her drawings have become more complex. There are tribal elements, and textures that weren't there before.

I think it is cool because, even though I'm artistic in other ways, drawing isn't my forte. Stick figures and drafting are about my speed. Her dad has much more of that graphic artist talent, spacial sense and eye for color.

I couldn't find all the pieces I was thinking of posting, but here are some that rather show (off) what I'm talking about. The first picture is - of course - Raine. The next one is a piece she did during the multicultural art class. Then there is a flying dragon with a texture, and a tribal design lizard. That is followed by a little tribal guy she drew while we were at gaming. Then is a textured and colored dragon/dinosaur. Finally, a drawing of our cat, Ginger... and a pretty good likeness, too.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

post, what post?

It's late. Well, late enough that I should be on my way to bed. Later than I wanted it to be, those darn Ghost Hunters, distracting me for a whole hour. When the chimes rang for 10 PM, it surprised me for some dumb reason. I didn't think it should be so late already. I have this great idea for a post, and I want to do it, but I don't have time tonight. Sorry. I just don't. I'm a morning person, and morning ran out a looong time ago, today.

I would love to have some alternate idea, and write, because I really feel like writing, but check that last sentence in the preceding paragraph. Yep, still holds true.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

long weekend into fall

It has been a nice, long weekend. I have graded a ton of papers, and feel like I have accomplished what I needed to, even though there are still a few left to grade. Plus whatever gets turned in tomorrow. I didn't get to sew as much as I wanted, but still, the grades need to get turned in on Friday. Half-way through the semester, you know.

Here in southern New Mexico, it has been warm through September. Not the record breaking temperatures that have hit California, but still, many days have been in the 90's. We got rain Monday night, and tonight a sprinkle as well. It was lovely and cool and cloudy this morning. I'm hoping for the same tomorrow. Finally, fall is teasing us. I looked into the trees I have in my front yard. There are definitely yellow leaves up in there, and some on the ground as well. The shedding has started. Of course the leaves hang on until the first frost, which might not happen until sometime in November, and then the trees will divest themselves of foliage within the day. Still, fall. Its coming. I know it is.

And thus starts the long, fast slide into the holiday season...

Sunday, October 3, 2010

i must be getting old...

This weekend is fair weekend. When I was growing up, the school gave us at least half a day off on the Friday of fair week, and kids got in for half price on that day, as well. One of the best things about walking into the fair was the display of tractors and farm equipment, right as you came in. I think every kid that came into the fair climbed on at least one of those tractors. Then came the travel trailers and the mobile homes. I think we at least peeked into every one. I remember buildings full of animals on display, school artwork on display, and so many other arts and crafts as well. There were six or eight old barracks buildings that held them all, and we would stroll from building to building, pausing to watch the duelling melodramas performed by the high school drama classes. Each school would take a turn performing, with the audience changing between each play. In the meantime, students in costume would stand outside the area and try to entice people in to watch. We always saved the midway for last, of course, and would finally ride home tired, and happy.

Ron and I took Raine to the fair Friday night. The tractor display is still at the entrance, but no-one gets to climb on them any more. There was one mobile home on display, and no travel trailers. The animal barns seem smaller, and there are fewer animals shown, although the livestock auction was going strong while we were there. There is one building for commercial displays, and another for the judged arts and crafts. Although there was another building for some of the school art displays, the number of arts and crafts entries seemed smaller than last year, not to mention my memories of crowded displays from my childhood.

I want the fair to be that great memory I have from my childhood, but it isn't. It's smaller. In some ways, it seems smaller in that I-remembered-it-as-bigger way, but I think that fairs are out of fashion. The area is increasingly urban, and there are fewer people willing to compete in those farm and ranch and homemaking craft sorts of activities. Oh, sure, 4H is there, but the schools don't seem to have the presence they once did. Yes, people go out for the carnival rides, but there is so much missing, to me.

Then, in the middle of my nostalgia, I was sitting and watching the people go by, and I saw a fairly young woman, walking with three young children. With my nostalgia eyes, I thought about how I would have thought her old when I was a kid. Because kids do. Grown-up = old. Last night, I thought more that though she walked with the authority of Mom to those kids, to me she looked like a kid. A kid having kids. I must be getting old.