Sunday, June 26, 2011

this and that

Had a nice visit from a high school friend this past week. She spent a few nights with me, and then about a week in Cloudcroft, revisiting places from her childhood, and new places as well. It was nice visiting with her and reconnecting.

Now, its my turn for some travel, and I'll be going to Tucson for about a week. I wish Ron could break out of his work schedule, but that is not to be this time. With one thing and another, my friend Steph has had a rough couple of months, but we are both looking forward to spending some time together.

I'm planning on doing some sewing with her, and we'll both enjoy that. I also have that quilt to finish. I have the top and the back finished, but now it is a matter of putting the layers together, binding and quilting it. Before I get to those last two things, though, I want to practice with the new sewing machine feet that Carl give me for my birthday. One should work for binding, the other for quilting. How cool is that?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

one man's treasure

One more box down. This one happened to be filled with my grandmother's belongings. The stuff she saved! Mostly there were cards. Birthday cards, Christmas cards, Anniversary, Valentines, even get well, and thank you cards. She saved them. I didn't keep them, you understand, but I got that they meant she treasured that we thought of her. That was a nice insight, and I shared it with my cousin, along with some mementos of her father, and her growing up. I'm sure there are things she will throw away as well, but she will at least get to look at them first, and be reminded of how those milestones were treasured by our grandparents.

There was a lot of other paperwork, too. Some of it might have been saved if the items (jewelry, fur coat, etc) were in our possession as well, but that stuff has been taken care of in other ways by other people. So it went, along with loan agreements from the 1920's. It was cool to look at, but save it? I did save a small collection of vintage post cards. Might be worth a little something, although I'm not sure. There's also some old costume jewelry... most of it may even be the odds and ends, I didn't look that closely yet. And photos. Man, the photos. Many of people I don't know, and possibly never did. Some old photos, and a letter written to my grandfather from his mother. Just an ordinary letter, but still, a piece of family history I thought worth keeping. Also some genealogy research done on my grandfather's family, which traces roots to the Mayflower (darn puritans... does that make it all MY fault???)

Anyway, a few items kept and a box emptied. I peek into the past, and a reminder of being cared about. Not only that, being able to share a little of it, too. Not bad. Not bad.

Monday, June 20, 2011

quilt block building

No need to double post. I found some quilt square pieces that my mom had cut out when I was sorting through craft room stuff. I started putting them together, and blogged about it at my Createlivity blog. I hope you'll check it out.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

how cool is this?

One of the challenges on one of the episodes of Project Runway was for the designers to create fabric, and then make something from it. A couple of days ago, one of the craft bloggers I was looking at was designing her own fabric. The website she ordered it from is called Spoonflower.

They have several different types of fabrics they will print your designs on, including a quilting weight fabric, knits, and even upholstery. The prices are kind of high, compared to Jo-ann's, but you get to design your own pattern! Or, you can order someone else's design for your own use. The fabrics are mostly pretty wide, too. I can't wait to have some time to design some fabric!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


unliterary me wordle

One of the other teachers at this AP site introduced us to a fun website called Wordle.

What you do is this: copy some text (it can be a poem, an essay, whatever... but there is a limit on words); go to Wordle, and click on the create button; paste your text into the box and then click the GO button. The program created a graphic of the piece with word placement, making the most frequently used words bigger than the others, and the least often used smaller. You can play with the layout, and the fonts, and the colors. Definitely fun for those of us who love to play with words!

Monday, June 13, 2011

ap class day one

The class I thought I signed up for is not the one I got registered for. Sigh. So the pretentious book? Yeah, I didn't need to read it. I found out that the AP kids at Cruces High read it, though. Lucky them.

I got to be in the composition & rhetoric class, which is fine after all. I could use some new things to think about when it comes to teaching writing. I must say that I'll be pretty quiet and agreeable about things, as I'm not as motivated about the class as I thought I would be. Still, I've picked up some interesting materials. We've talked about an interesting way to do the brainwork for analyzing a poem in preparation for writing the analysis. Had a nice lunch in the park, and some even better pulled pork for dinner (thanks Carl). Even got in an evening walk, and some enjoyable conversation with company from out of town. Now? sleeeeep.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

unliterary me

I'm taking a class next week, on how to lead an AP (Advanced Placement) class. As if trying to get high school students to graduate AT ALL wasn't difficult enough, soon they will be required to have some college credit before they graduate high school. One way to do that is through an AP class, which can be in English, Math, Science, History or even foreign languages. The class I'm taking is - of course - focused on AP literature.

To prepare for the class, we are reading a book called Obasan, by Joy Kogawa. I found it in the library, which is pretty fortunate, because I didn't find it in the bookstore. The copy I have hasn't been read much lately. Its a library binding and it won't lie open so you have to hold it open to read it. A pain.

The book is a recounting of the treatment of Japanese-Canadians by Canada during World War 2. It is well written, and I am getting through it pretty quickly. Time was, that having a book to read for a class assignment was my favorite. I enjoyed the reading, and the literary-ness of them. Now, it just seems... pretentious. The author has couched the story in a frame, and there is "mystery" about what has happened to one of the main character's parents. Both are means of obfuscation. It seems unnecessary. I'm over needing to "get" a book. I surprise myself with these perceptions, and I wonder if that is because I've become more critically able to assess the writing, or because I know that I truly enjoy more accessible literature more, and there isn't anything wrong with that.

While there is a chance I could have come upon this book on my own, and chosen to read it, I probably wouldn't have. That doesn't change that I will read it and appreciate the story. Do I think it is great literature? No. It seems too self-aware and intentional. Too carefully crafted - and not well enough crafted - at the same time. It is not a book I would choose to assign to even an AP class at Gadsden High School. It's neither topical enough nor current enough to cross enough cultural and referential lines to be meaningful to them (or at least enough of them). Still, I will be interested to see what the instructor brings to the table regarding the book.

Will the instructor be as "literary" and "pretentious" as his book choice?

Friday, June 10, 2011

music camp performance

Raine has been going to music camp this week. It is the second time she's done it (two years ago). This time Ezekiel, her best friend, went too. They were in different groups - probably a good thing - but they still got to see each other at breaks and before and after. The music camp does singing, dancing, and some basic musical instruments, like an amazing array of xylophones, tambourines, and some other percussion type instruments. They spend the week learning and preparing a performance, which is done on Friday. Yep. Today was the day.

The people who put the camp together have a theme story for the week, and this week was Van Gogh's Cat. Each group had a song to play, one to sing, and a dance, and the 3 groups did several songs as a combined group as well. It went very well, and was a good performance, and I think that it is totally amazing that they put it together in one week.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

closing in on a blogging level

Geeky gamer reference there, in case you don't understand the whole leveling up thing... (I have relatives who are perfectly nice people, even if they don't game, and who just might be reading this someday...)

So I have a web site now. It is seriously under construction so far, while I figure out just what I want to do with it. I've given it the "Createlivity" name, and I've added a background and a intro statement and a picture. Yeah. Moving right along....

I've been writing in this blog for 3 years now, mostly a journal type blog. I practice my writing in an informal, conversational way with tidbits from my life that may be interesting to friends and family, and not many more. That's OK. That's what kind of blog it is. I'm at a point, though, that I have to grow or stagnate. I still want to write, but I also want to accomplish something with it.

Off and on, I've written about wanting to do something more geek crafter making stuff. I've started another blog here called Createlivity, where I post things that I've made (I try not to double post stuff with this blog too much). I want to do more with it though, but I've been kind of at a road block... I enjoy making stuff, and sharing it, but I don't know that I have expertise to share. I don't know that I've found my "thing(s)" that give me my niche. Maybe I don't have a niche, but that's another topic for another day.

I did come to a realization of sorts, today, though. It's simple, really (as many are) and seemingly obvious, even if it only is now. Do stuff, and write about it. DO stuff, and write about it. Wait, one more time... DO STUFF and WRITE about it. Yeah.

Only not just the stuff I do here, like cleaning out the linen closet (still totally happy with that though). Craft stuff. Take pictures of the steps along the way, not just the finished product. Talk about problems and solutions (there are plenty), and the learning curve. Have fun and share it.

Am I making sense here, or just blathering...

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

with added exercise

This summer Raine has 3 things that she needs to do each day to help her "earn" fun activities. She has homework (got to keep practicing reading, math and writing), housework (she sweeps up real good, and takes out the trash, too), and yardwork (even at 100 weeds a day, there are still PLENTY to go around).

As you can tell, I've been doing some of those things, too. This evening, we worked on the crop of goat heads that are coming up out behind her swing set. The tomato plants are doing nicely, and putting on blossoms. (go tomatoes, go tomatoes). I've been reading and sharing with you, and even started the second book on simple living, today. (This must be the summer for reading non-fiction - which I almost never read, well, except for crafting instructions...) I've been busy working on one of those tasks that I find very easy to postpone, and evidently have for more than a year, now. Ouch. But the shredder has been busy today, and I've made good progress.

I've just been leaving one thing out. Exercise. Oh, I know that gardening, and housework can certainly be exercise, but, really, not enough. It is just too easy to be otherwise occupied. I talked myself into some laps at the indoor pool last week, kind of cringing while I waited to see if I would get sick again - and I did not. (yay) I would really rather do them in the outdoor pool, but Raine LIKES the indoor pool... sigh. Today, I just took off for a walk. It was good, and I've felt better all day for it. I knew I would.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

progress - the linen closet

Yes, I cleaned out the linen closet today. I got rid of everything that was expired, weeded out the extra toothbrushes and unopened soaps that we won't ever use (and got them ready to donate to the women's shelter or the homeless shelter), and all the baby stuff that Raine outgrew umm... 6 years ago. Yeah. It did need it. That dust bunny? Well, it was a dust bunny, thank goodness, and not a mouse carcass or something even worse. Wiped down the shelves, and rearranged. Now, there's room in it. I won't say "again," because there's room in it now that there never has been until now. Patting myself on the back, here, yep. Maybe reading that book was a little helpful, after all. It gave me the advice to tackle something like the linen closet if you are having a hard time getting to other parts. Now, maybe I really can get to my closet.

Just so you know, though, whatever the combination of products was in the bottom of that one tub, it just wasn't right and it just wasn't natural. Soap and ??? It made a sticky, gelatin like substance, that should have been - but wasn't - soapy... nor did soap and hot water take care of it like I thought it would. The clorox wipes helped out, which put me onto the clorox clean-up spray, and they pretty much did the trick... but ewww. I should have taken one look at that gooey mess and put the lid back on the plastic tote, and toted it all out to the trash can.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Simply getting rid of stuff

I bet your first thought is, Wow, Dina got some stuff sorted to get rid of. It has been on my list for this summer, and it would be nice, but no... However, I did get some inspiration, and I've picked up some books. You know, 'cause that will help me spend more time working one the stuff that needs to be cleaned out.

Actually, I was reading one of the crafting blogs that I've been looking at, and the blogger mentioned that she was reading a book called, Organized Simplicity. The book takes the reader through some steps for prioritizing things, deciding what to keep and what to get rid of, and live without, and the like. I thought, hmmmm a book like that might help me in my personal philosophy building, to be happier with what I have, not feel like I need to buy more and bigger to feel fulfilled. I'm there in part of my brain, but then other parts say "Ooooo that's a nice house!" or "lets go shopping!" or "Someday, SOMEDAY, I might, just maybe, want THAT." So, being thoughtful about those kinds of things might actually help me stick to something that I know would be good for me. There is appeal in living more simply.

Well, I thought, as I looked that book up on Amazon, I really should check and see what the library has on the subject... those books being free, and all. I found a couple of books there that discuss the various topics. I'm kind of excited to read a little, and see what others do/think/profess. I mean, I don't want to live in a cabin off the grid or anything, but spending less? Yeah, I think I could do that. I hope.

So, anyway, here's to inspiration, and simply doing what needs to be done.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

winding up the week

Shelbi will be going home tomorrow. We've had a great time with her while she was here, and enjoyed the time. We miss her when we don't get to see her for so long, so hopefully we'll be able to see her again this summer.

The girls got to do a couple of day trips, one to White Sands (where they got to play on the dunes), and one to Ft. Seldon (where they got to play in the river). They got to hit the pool, twice, first the outdoor pool, where they got to go down the slide time after time because there weren't many people there, and the indoor pool, which has an even bigger slide that was also a lot of fun. They even got to do a little shopping, as they had both earned a few dollars pulling weeds in my yard. The yard looks SO much better now. Guess we'll work on the back yard next week.

We did some crafts. Raine & Shelbi each picked out something wooden to paint at Hobby Lobby. Raine found an articulated snake (she's been coveting it for a while now, actually) and Shelbi wanted to put her initials on a plaque for her bedroom door. They picked out some paint, and had a good time painting their projects... and the front porch. Both girls got to practice crocheting a bit, too.

Today we went to Roxanne's and worked on a few clothes for Shelbi to get to take home with her. We finished all but one piece, which I will be able to finish up quickly tomorrow. Yes, of course, I'll take pictures. Maybe we can even get to the pool one last time before she goes home.

Over all, I would say a wonderful way to start the summer!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

fortune, cookie

Carl treated me to Chinese food for lunch today, at the new buffet here in town. It even has a decent selection of sushi, and since we got there early, it was well stocked and very fresh, and delicious. One thing I really like about this buffet is that they actually offer a decent variety of vegetables. I had baked mushrooms, green beans and even a broccoli and chicken dish that wasn't too highly sauced. They were delicious.

At the end of the meal, we got fortune cookies, of course. Mine says "You will get something special because of your charm." Enigmatic. Non-committal. As any good fortune cookie should be.

I'm not sure I want what my "charm" will bring me...