Friday, June 27, 2008

Rerunning an oldie-but-goodie

whilst cleaning out an old blog I found a few entries I thought good enough to move. Here's one:


The smell of power

Yesterday when I got out of bed I detected an odd odor in the house. I made some coffee and walked out to get the paper, and then when I opened the front door to return, the smell was there – vaguely – in the foyer. A bit later I went to wake Hannah. It definitely smelled odd in the hallway, and in her room. Suddenly my nose made an identification: scorching electrical wiring.

My adrenaline moved up a notch. There was no smoke, no sound of arcing, and no other identifiers. I woke Hannah and started walking around the house checking electrical equipment and unplugging things. I also detected the smell heavily in our older daughter’s room – and she moved most of her things out last weekend so that room has no electrical stuff left in the flotsam and jetsam that remains. It also smelled in one spot in the lower level, and in the stairwell.

Now, I’m truly puzzled and getting a bit nervous. I start clicking off breakers, turn off the furnace, check the well pump, inspect the dryer outlet for lint fires. Stumped, we open the house up and turn on all the fans. I suspect that if something has been frying I had already unplugged it and the plan is that after we air the place out, we’ll slowly bring the electricity back online as we inspect each item to try and find the culprit. 45 minutes later I close the place up and I notice that H Girl has a new addition to her dresser top – a small incense burner and bottle of those little burnable cones with the odd name “Spiritual Power”. I opened the bottle and took a whiff – sweet, dopey, cloying - nope, not the smell I’m looking for. I continue my search and although some of the odor still lingers I can’t find anything that could be causing it.

After I get everything from the computer equipment to the close drier plugged back in I go back to the incense bottle. H Girl says she burned one the night before, but only one, and none since. I get a lighter and light one up. Very quickly I recognize the smell. Underneath the sicky, jasmine, dopehead smell I easily detect the ‘scorching wires’ I am looking for. Evidently after the perfume dissipates, the smoke hangs around, and had settled in the house through the ventilation system.

Then Hannah and I did one of those Stupid Homeschooling Tricks. We worked the whole experience into a learning thing. We had a talk about how incense isn’t the smart thing if you have allergies, also a bit of “history if incense – from the Catholic Church to the potheads” – and then the philosophical implication of how ‘spiritual power’ you can buy for $2.00 a bottle smells a lot like burning wires.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

cityscape for sale

Here's the perfect gift for yourself or someone you love that has a very coolish modern design going on in their abode. 6 ft by 2 ft in oranges, greens, blacks and other contemporary colors. She's come to the conclusion that letting them stack up in our studio isn't as good as having someone else own them - and art supplies aren't cheap. negotiable.
common' you know you want an M. E. The Younger Original.

Pile o' Books

Hannah is at camp this week. I had thought to have a week with plenty of down time, but here it is Wednesday and that doesn't seem to be happening. One of the things I'd promised myself to do this week was to change out the pile of books behind, under and beside my bed. I have to keep some books in there because it is utterly impossible to go to sleep without reading something first. Here's a look at what has migrated from the bookcases and bookstores to my bedroom since January - the last time I dug everything out and put it away.

Essentually I'm using this job to put off things I'm even less inclined to do when what I really should do is either work on Homeschool Fair stuff or that sewing - that I haven't yet finished.

I have several new books lined up to read: three books on creationism and the age of the earth/universe, the curriculum for my Critical Thinking class at co-op in the fall, and 'True Truth' which is the book our small group just started. I'm about 1/2 way through 'The Genesis Debate' edited by David Hagopain. It is a worthwhile read. I'm dissapointed that the defenders they have writing for the 24 hour view aren't true Young Earth Creationists at the core, but it is a rousting discussion about what we know and do not know - and what we've found out, what we take on faith, and what we want very hard to believe in spite of the physical evidence - about how God accomplished all of this wonder called Creation. It's slow going since it requires a great deal of thought along the way.

Time to go pick up those books and file them back into the bookcases - those that will fit.


Monday, June 16, 2008


I always fond myself apologising to my Art History students for the poor quality of the images I had to show them on my Power Point presentations in class. I will include you in that apology today, dear readers. I wanted to show you an image of this painting, but this is the best one I could manage.
This is Cityscape: sunrise. The artist is well known for her color pallet, representational geometric figures, and use of loose, thin paint; but this is an experimental piece where she used her dripping technique both horizontally and vertically to achieve the motion and tempo inherent in the canvas. The blocky colors of the sunrise echo the blocky structures of the city, and those of the retreating night sky on the left. The strict avoidance of angles and undulations lend the work a staid, solid feeling - yet the movement of the horizontals and the obvious urgency of the brushwork give the painting a fleeting momentary feel.
Or something like that.
You can ask the artist to explain better next time you see her.
Meredith painted this and gave it to us yesterday. She painted it Saturday whilst working with some other bohemian artist types in a squatter's studio on top of the Center for the Arts parking garage in Springfield. It actually is quite lovely, Much better than the picture I took. It looks dandy hanging in the family room.
Next, I'll post a picture of my lonely brds.
Edit: Now I am Cranky. Blogger won't let me post the pix to it's best advantage, and makes it look even odder than the actual picture. Grr.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Need Mow Dry Days.

This morning, on my list of things to do was mowing the lawns. Even the parts that consist completely of compacted clay are growing green things. It's not 'grass' but it's green, so I'm thankful. I flipped on the Weather Channel at about 7:15 am. Ka-Rap. Here comes another gully-washer storm. Just when the place isn't so squishy the mower leaves wheel marks. At 7:30 I roust the kiddo and head out. I had planned on being lazy until about ten, when the place would have been drier. Yeah, Right. Full steam ahead we mow for about 45 minutes, until the rain starts. We get 90% finished. At 8:30 it's pouring buckets again - but the lawn is mostly done. This has been the weirdest spring.

My goal was to have that ribbonwork finished by Tuesday Evening. Uh, Huh. I have about three more hours to do. I've been putting it off.


Tuesday, June 10, 2008

What occupies my hands

This will be a new Osage ribbonwork panel for a skirt I'm making for Hannah. I haven't made one of these in years. Fact is; I haven't done any NA craft work in almost two years. I'm not a crafter that enjoys the process. I have a certain talent, but I make things that need to me made, and am glad when things are finished. She has far outgrown her previous ribbonwork. It was way too long when I made it for her around six years of age, and now it is 9" too short. This one will be only 3" shorter than my own, so it should do for her as the last set she'll need unless she wants to make one or purchase one for herself later in life.

I really don't see either of our girls pursuing this hobby after they leave our home. Harry and I may get back to going to Pow wows more often after they are fledged, but I'm not as interested as I once was, either. There was a time we attended about 15 or more Pow wows a year, back in the early to late '90s. Over time it became obvious to me that although I enjoyed the friends I had at Pow wows, I didn't really enjoy the culture, I wasn't fascinated by the regalia, and I *only* enjoyed the music in conjunction with actually dressing and dancing myself - I couldn't stand listening to it recorded whilst in the middle of my normal life.

I also noted a distinct and increasing level of low-lifes at these gatherings. Even the 'good' Pow wows in the Midwest became populated by largely New Age fruitcakes, White Trash Wannabes, Apple Indians looking for their roots in the wrong places, and 'Rez Skins that flock around to take advantage of those of the former ilk by assorted mooching behaviours. Your average former Boy Scout Hobbyist, Crafts person or amature anthropologist didn't have a chance.

Then we started traveling to Indian Country to attend some Tribal and Family gatherings, and found the life of a family of White Pow Wow Pets to be unsatisfyingly degrading. Indians are some of the most prejudiced people I have ever met. It's so prevalent the little brown kids wouldn't even play with our light skinned daughters. Outside of a very small group where we were accepted, it was uncomfortable to the point of hostility. Not exactly someplace to go for a relaxing family outing.

So, now we attend a couple of carefully selected Pow wows each year. There is a big one coming up that is thrown only every three years. Time to make sure the dance clothes will hold out and look good. Thus, I'm back to sewing projects this week.


The best intentions...

The recent storms have made our computers a little wacked. Hannah's computer decided not to communicate with our house 'net, and this one seems to have randomly scrammed the settings that let me go places like...Blogger, for instance. This morning I finally decided to sit down and figure out the issues, and now I'm back in business.

I've been wrestling recently - with God, Biblical truth, the real meaning of things written centuries ago in a language I don't understand by a person from a culture far different than mine, and if it wouldn't be expedient just to say 'chuck it all, I'll just remain dumb and happy'. Then I think that I've never been happy dumb, and the wrestling continues.

I'm limping severely already. I'm trying not to let go until I get that blessing, but can I hold on? (see Gen 32)


Wednesday, June 4, 2008


Our woods are wallowing in water, heat and sun. The trees are gorging and putting on so much growth they can hardly hold themselves up. They are groaning like your old uncle after that final piece of pie on Thanksgiving. Our lawn could use mowing twice a week, but since last week has never been dry enough to mow. The air is so wet, it seems as if you drink it instead of breathe; sultry, still and as heavy as the branches of the trees.

The past couple or three years have seen mostly dry springs. There have been a few gully washers and some local flooding, but still mostly dry. This year is vastly different. It’s been wetwetwet, but also quite sunny. Often it will rain buckets in the morning and clear off to a beautiful blue afternoon or wake us up to sweet sunshine, then cloud up and dump afternoon thunderstorms all over us. The combination has us saturated in green, flowering, sprouting, climbing, growing life all around. Lovely, Lovely.

Hmm. The cranky part? Mosquitoes the size of B1B’s.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Weekend Update

~ I spent too much money Friday night at the Woodfield Mall on things I don't need but will thoroughly enjoy. Whilst there we ran into masses and masses of Ask-A-Ninja 'Doesn't Matter'. In explanation- Hannah watches this video podcast called 'ask a ninja'. A recent one was on things lethal to humankind- and ninjas in particular. A certain substance called 'doesn't matter' is the most lethal thing in the world. He then explained about matter, anti-matter and 'doesn't matter'. The ninja says that malls, and most of the junk they sell are made totally of 'doesn't matter'. I agree. How many sunglasses shops, bath-body-makeup stores, clothing shops catering to 12-25yo stick people are in Woodfield Mall? Doesn't Matter! This trip and the unplanned stop at our own local mall last week will be quite enough mall-ing for a long while.

~ The Adler Planetarium is awesome. really. It looks kind of homely in a stately-but-outdated way sitting out on a peninsula at the far end of the Museum Campus in Chicago. It's been there since 1975, so just how cool could it be? What I didn't know is that the vast majority of it is underground or only visible from the lake side of the building. We spent much longer there than I would have thought going through the exhibits and playing with the multitude of hands-on stuff.

~ We rode the water taxi to Navy Pier - thanks for the tip, Kate. The breakwater was covered with seagulls. Some of the birds were bright green. They were the ones who swam in the Chicago River last St. Pat's day when the city dumped dye in the water to turn it green to celebrate. They looked pretty odd. I'm surprised some animal rights group hasn't gotten wind of this and protested.

~ Navy Pier is also made of mostly 'doesn't matter'. It was fun anyhow. It would have been better if I hadn't had to shun the sunshine b/c of the antibiotics I'm taking. The weather couldn't have been nicer. The exhibit of stained glass from historical Chicago buildings was great, and nice to find a cool and darkish place to counter the bright, hot day.

~ Had the best Pad Thai I'd ever eaten at a place called "Big Bowl" in Schaumburg. Riding the Metra to and from the city was a good choice for us. You get to see things from the tracks you never see while driving. Our train went right by the Shriner's campus. Brought back some memories there.

~ Fencing tourney was instructional for Hannah on Sunday: 17 months of casual fencing maybe twice a week does not prepare one to go against opponents who have been fencing for 3-5 years 3X a week with Olympic caliber instructors.

~ But now, it's Monday - the house is a mess and I have a dr.'s appointment. Back to being Cranky