Monday, October 31, 2011

The doll bed, Day 1

Lesson: One is never too old to be naive. Or unrealistic, whichever fits.

So, a month ago while we're working on projects for the library bazaar, we're at a friend's barn and workshop indulging in her husband's drills and looking for screws and sanding like the little bazaar elves we are. I happen to look up and there, atop a metal file cabinet which came with the barn, is what looks to be a bunk bed built for a doll. I tell the owner if she ever wishes to dispose of it, call me first. And, being the friend that she is, she says it came with the place, she doesn't want it, knock myself out.

Truer words were never spoken.

I'm thinking, aha! Christmas present for Emily, 4 1/2 year-old granddaughter who's into dolls and all things pink. I'll just strip this down, paint it to match her room, make fresh bedding for it, and voila! Christmas gift.

Naive. Or unrealistic.

Looking at the wallpaper which covered the bed's foundation, I'm guessing this was made in the 60s. Having worked on it for a while, I'm thinking it was home made. And the paint? Oh, the paint was glued on.

Realizing that the wonderful weather we're having isn't going to last forever and stripping paint is really an outdoor task, I determined today was the day. I bought neoprene gloves and found that stripper is now available spray on. Perfect for small projects. I bought a can. Guaranteed to remove three coats of latex, stain, and all matter in between.

Tsk, tsk. Did I really believe that?

I set up shop outside, cut a garbage bag to catch the drips, put on the gloves, and started spraying. In the meantime, I read the directions where they hinted that a plastic scraper would come in handy. Never mind that, I had grade 3 steel wool saved from a long-ago project. Never dispose of (de)construction items.

About 45 minutes later I realized two things: I needed more stripper and a plastic scraper would come in handy. As well as a little brush for getting into the lovely turns on the spindles of the bed.

Three hours and a trip to Walmart later, I'm in possession of an extra pair of gloves, two more packages of steel wool, a scraper, a brush, and the last two cans of stripper on the shelf. I'm also calling it a day.

The paint is simply not coming off the bottom inside rails of the bed. My glove fingers are sticking (stuck) to one another. I'm tired of sitting in the damp grass. While I may actually spray more stripper on the little, no-fuss-how-much-time-can-this-take project, I'm going to sandpaper it first.

Just as soon as I have a conversation with my generous friend.

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Friday, October 28, 2011

Across 60 years--a double!

So we're at my in-laws' house this afternoon, having lunch and viewing photos with visiting relatives. Lots of fun and jokes and good food. (Gotta' have the food.) Going through old albums, many of which I hadn't even seen in the nearly 40 years I've been in the family and writing names on the back of the photos and in some cases, my mother-in-law and her sister just trying to remember who those people were!

And there's this black and white photo of my husband, not quite a year old, sitting on a blanket and looking into the camera, his face scrunched against the sun, and I think, "What's Jack doing there?" Jack is our nearly three years old grandson. And there, on my husband's face in 1950--is Jack!

Until that moment, we'd thought Jack resembled the "other side." But now, there's no denying it: across 60 years, a double has emerged!

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Monday, October 24, 2011

The joys? of a new purse

If part of the joy of the arrival of autumn is switching to a new purse, then part of the non-joy is getting used to it.

My summer purses are snap or zipper-closed affairs with easy access to my keys. The latest one had two end pockets with elastic at the top where I could stash a nail file and a lipstick, pens, shopping list, etc without ever opening the bag. I could dig while driving and still keep my eyes on the road.

My new winter purse, a glorious Brahmin concoction of dark brown, has one large pocket on the back but bulging items will not be welcome there. It closes with a flap and twisty lock, like a door, which means I have to open it to get to my secured keys. It's roomy, or I wouldn't have bought it, and it has space for the iPad, a device which changed my purse-buying habits forever. Or until it's smaller. But that's called an iPhone.

So I now have to balance the newest member of my wardrobe on a counter in order to open and not have it threaten to spill. This is a circumstance I did not see happening in the glory hour of finding it in the Brahmin store. I was so delighted to find a purse with ample room, glorious pedigree, single handle able to be carted over-shoulder, and ON SALE! that I didn't really figure all the what-ifs.

I will learn. Really, I can. Still.

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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

NOW it's autumn

I judge the advent of autumn in many ways:

The calendar, which is usually unreliable since it can still be in the 90s for weeks.

The turning of the leaves, except this year it's been so dry we're just happy to see trees still having leaves, no matter the color.

The urge to put away all white slacks and sandals. (But I did that the week after Labor Day so it hardly counts. Some Southern traditions are ingrained.)

Turning off the a/c and opening the windows is a hint. Turning off the ceiling fans, which I did today, is closer to confirmation.

Eyeing my closet and moving tank tops and crop pants out, three-quarter sleeve garments in.

Realizing I have to put on real shoes or risk very cold toes. Happened this morning. Had to scramble for loafers, so this afternoon I packed away my sandals.

But the one sure way to know it's autumn for me: the changing of the purse. Good-bye woven bag with bright orange trim, hello dark brown leather.

There's a nip in the air!

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Saturday, October 15, 2011

One photo, one thousand words

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Friday, October 14, 2011

Report from the front yard

Today was the first day since, oh... April?, I've really wanted to work in the yard. It's been hot, it's been dry, we've been gone, I've been otherwise occupied... I got a million reasons (excuses?) why.

But today, and tomorrow, promise wonderful work-in-the-yard weather. I chose to start in the front flower beds.

First off, I notice the armadillo, absent for a few days, is back. Really, really back. Ten inch deep holes back. This is not encouraging and it looks like I shall have to go on the armadillo hunt again. The trap is still on the front porch and I'll lock and load tonight. This could be like getting out the flyswatter: the armadillo, just like the fly, will disappear.

That would have the same results, I guess.

I transplanted the sorry-looking Gerber daisies into the area around the sorry-looking gingko tree. I tried to remove the redbuds and weeds by their roots, not that that will discourage them.

I realized that if you want a lesson in resilience, you just need to look at pecan and hackberry trees. Rarely can I get them up by their nut or root. I cut them off as far down into the ground as I can, but they come back. And come back, etc. Ad infinitum. It's a battle I have been losing for 30 years.

OTOH, I had a very pleasant and unexpected surprise in the side yard. There were two green-cased pecans. This is how pecans often drop, attached by twos. Maybe it makes the fall less scary. Anyhow, they were GREEN. All I've seen are dried up pecans. So I rolled the case off and stepped on them. They were filled with nutmeat!

I may have pecans this year! Real, genuine, grow-my-own pecans! Amidst this drought--pecans!

Or perhaps I sacrificed the only two survivors.

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Sunday, October 09, 2011

All cookied out

I put off updating my system software until I think I absolutely have to. And the longer I put it off, the more there is to download and update. But with the new iOS5 debuting this week, and as the proud owner of Mac iOS devices, I thought I'd best get with the program and get my computer in shape.

I made my nest: book to read, portable phone, iPhone, iPad, water and coffee. I was set for a two hour download session. As my prediction skills leave a lot to be desired, I was pleased to find it only took 30 minutes from "Yes, I agree to everything in the contract" to restart and seeing my laptop's happy screen again.

Then I went exploring. Safari looked a little different, so I went over to the Apple to site to find out what was new. One might think this would have been a good thing to do before downloading 5.1, but I didn't.

Among other goodies available to me--not all are since I'm not a Lion user and can't be on the present laptop--I was intrigued by the privacy factor.

In Preferences, there was now more control over who could leave cookies on my computer and follow me around. Well, whoever had been doing that in the first place?

Come to find out, EVERYONE! There were nearly 2000 of the little cookie/follow-you sites and a lovely button which said I could remove all of them. Plus a warning that removing them might make the site not react the way I was used to. So I started scrolling.

I recognized about half of the sites. Perhaps I'd visited the others accidentally or they were really in disguise. All I know is, if I didn't think they were necessary for my cyber well-being, I hit the remove button.

By the time it was over, I was down to 70 nosey sites. That's probably too many and I may well ditch the rest if things run well.

I mean, enough is enough!

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Thursday, October 06, 2011

How to make lovely dried arrangements for your autumn decorating

Start in April or May with lovely baskets bursting with flowers.

Place on the front porch and given them plant food and water.

Maybe not everyday, but once it gets hot, then water everyday.

And sometimes in the evenings when it reaches 100+ degrees for oh, say, 60 or more days.

Watch the weaker flat out die.

Watch the stronger struggle and halfway die until...

It's the fall! And on your front porch where once your had million bells and Gerber daisies, you now have brown plants.

In other words, beautiful autumn arrangements which you paid for in the spring.

Now, wasn't that easy?

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Sunday, October 02, 2011

The State Fair of Texas

It seems the State Fair of Texas is ingrained in my being. As a child, the school system would have Fair Day and Daddy would take off work and we'd go as a family. We took our children and then stopped going for a while. We have recently revived the practice because we have season ticket to the Dallas Summer Musicals and the concluding show is during the Fair.

So we go early the day of the musical and hit the high spots: the Texas Wine Garden, the automobile show, and the Creative Arts building. And most years we'd see the bread baking contest and I'd think: My breads look as good as those.

So this year, I decided to put my yeast where my mouth has been and enter. Alas, the contest wasn't on the same day as the musical, so we'll just have to make two trips, but I was going to participate no matter. I enlisted my husband to help carry and we circled the day in red, so to speak.

You could enter five categories. So I did. No sense in being shy about this. Yeast loaf, white; Yeast loaf, other; Yeast coffeecake; Quick coffeecake; Gingerbread. I pulled out those recipes near and dear to me and made a plan.

The first obstacle was how to carry them. We rigged a box to hold both the gingerbread and the yeast coffeecake. A large shopping bag with handles was enlisted for the three loaves. I printed the recipes, filled in the forms, attached my $2/per to it and went to bed.

The State Fair grounds are one hour and 15 minutes from us in good traffic. Sunday mornings at 7:15, which is when we left, they are virtually vacant. We were not the first people in the parking lot ($15), but we were close. Not having our musical tickets to double as admission, we forked out the senior rate. ($12/per) The baking sign-in started at 9 and we were 8th in line.

Here is where I learned some valuable lessons. Everyone else had a little red wagon in which to carry their baked goods. Presentation may not be everything, but it may be a plus on the subconscious level and I didn't have any. Contestants were putting their entries on glass and in baskets. Mine were on paper plates provided by the judges. You are supposed to pick up your baked goods afterward, so you can get your fancy plates back, but I ask you: Do you want back a baked good which has been sliced and diced and breathed on by multiple people? Do you, as one person in line suggested, intend to freeze it for the holidays?

Yeech! NO! (After it was all over, I went to one of the ladies in charge and donated my entries. Besides, the spouse had thrown away the box and the bag and I couldn't carry anything home.) Lesson number whatever.

Judging takes forever, probably because there were 12 categories and well over 100 entries. Finally, with judging starting at 10:30, we were being given the good news after one. And... drum roll here... I won a ribbon!

Third place in yeast bread, loaf, white. A difficult category I was told. I am pleased. This is the buttermilk bread which I usually make for the Library's Pumpkin Patch Bazaar which this year is next Saturday. And now, I can add "State Fair winner" to the tag!

Would I have liked to have placed in all the categories? You bet! But then, there's always next year.

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