Monday, March 2, 2015

Exiled

Yesterday, Emma's boyfriend came over. While we trust Emma, we also believe that 14 year-olds need chaperones, so one of us stays in the area (they have to stay in public areas of the house). Cuddling on the couch is fine, but we all know that hormones are really good at making you do things you know you shouldn't --just ask any perimenopausal woman :-)

Since I have a cold, though, I spent the afternoon up in the beadroom bedroom, so I wouldn't spread my germs to the boy, and Rob played chaperone. 

I spent some time working on this, for my mom, pretending that it's spring.
It's not finished yet --I ran out of light, which is critical for 50-year-old eyes working with seed beads. I love the polymer clay flowers, made by Elaine of Too Aquarius --each one is hand painted and just slightly different. 

I'm going to try to think spring. I wonder if it will have any affect.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Colds and Cold

Well, I have a cold, the result of traveling, mostly likely, so lets talk about something else.

Here are what the tomatoes in my aerogarden look like now:
I took a tiny paintbrush and moved from flower to flower, hoping to pollinate. However, at the end of my little flower journey, there was no obvious pollen on my paintbrush. So either it's too faint for me to see, or they don't need pollinating? We'll see. If this works, I'll get a good handful of little cherry tomatoes.

Given that March is entering as if it were January, those little tomatoes would be very welcome.

Like the last time I was sick, I'm using my computer to pass the time. This time I'm watching episodes from the first season of the original CSI. Back when we had to watch TV on a TV, I loved CSI. But now I realize I never actually saw the first season. New mysteries are a good way to keep me from thinking about my cold. Plus, it's really amusing to see how old the technology is :-)

We set a new record low last night of -16F. I think we've given our all to winter, and it needs to go away now. I hope you are all either enjoying warm sunshine, or have found some way to pass the time until we can break camp and get outside again.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

One Down

Well, one trip to Ann Arbor is done. Unfortunately, I didn't do a very good job of checking the weather before I left and I got caught in a lake-effect blizzard. Why people live where there is lake-effect snow I'll never understand!

By the time I hit Chicago, I saw electronic signs saying "Winter Storm Warning. I94 East closed at exit 29, St. Joseph."

By the time I crossed over from Indiana into Michigan, it was already snowing. (It made the slight drifting on I39 south, near the wind farm, seem minor, though it had caused me some anxiety an hour earlier.) By the time I hit exit 23, I was creeping along behind a semi at 10 mph, and I needed gas and food. So I held my breath and aimed for the exit. Even in the town it was total white-out conditions, but I came on a gas station and then a McDonalds. In the short time I was in the McDonalds, eating a truly awful burger, my car was covered in snow. Especially the back --it was just plastered on, like someone had sprayed it. I managed to clear my brake lights, and then tried to think of a way to get out of the storm.

I figured I needed to head east, so I found a town a bit east and set my Nav system to go there. I ended up on some tiny road heading east, again at 10 mph. Here was my view:
While the road was slippery, it was really the white-out conditions that were scary. You really couldn't see if you were going to run into someone. Eventually, I noticed I was on a road that had signs saying "Emergency I94". I thought maybe if I followed them, I'd end up rejoining I94 after the closure. 

I did rejoin I94 after a bit, and noticed as I was almost taken out by a semi, that I was rejoining it AT EXIT 29!! --exactly where they'd said it was closed. I thought I'd be directed off immediately, but it turned out it was all a joke, I guess --the highway wasn't actually closed. But it looked like this all the way to Battle Creek:
Yeah, not that different from that tiny road. It was not a fun drive. I have never in my life had to drive so slowly for such a long distance. The snow cleared up for a bit, but by the time I hit Jackson there was more. 

But (clearly) I did make it, and spent the next day cleaning and cooking for my sister. It was a nice visit, really, and I know my parents appreciated seeing me for breakfast and a glass of wine before bed.

The way home was much better, except for that exact same stretch of highway. They'd managed to clear a good bit of the snow, but the temperatures were so low that parts of the road iced over. There was an ice patch under every overpass (and why does that happen, anyway?), and a couple of places where everyone slowed way down --well, except, I suppose, for the cars that were in the ditch-- because the whole road had iced over. Once I got south of the lake, though, the temperature had gone up to 14, and I think the salting stuff must work by that temperature because there was no more ice.

So, I'm hoping to go again either this weekend or next. But I'm going to try to do a better job of checking the weather.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Green Growig Things

We got the Aerogarden set up again a month or so ago. I had some tomato seeds I'd purchased last year, and we stuck them in there --I really wasn't expecting them to grow, given how old the pods were, but hey, tomatoes are basically weeds, so they all sprouted right up.
This is what they look like now.
I'm actually very curious --these are supposed to bear cherry tomatoes. How do you suppose this is going to work without any pollinators? I guess we'll just have to wait and see. No flowers yet, but if I actually get any tomatoes from these plants, I'll be sure to take some photos.

I came home from work last week and found this note on the kitchen counter:
Eggs were made, and the child was fed. Who could resist that note? :-)

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Decisions

Well, after thinking about it for a day, I was able to come up with what I think will be a good plan, although it will involve a lot of driving.

This semester, I don't have to be on campus on Fridays. So I'm going to drive to Ann Arbor on Fridays, spend Saturdays with my sister --doing laundry, cleaning, and cooking-- and then drive back home Sundays. That way she'll have what she needs for the week, and my brother can just come a few times a week to bring in her mail and stuff like that. Three or four weekends will probably get her to the point where she can handle things (more if necessary). Hopefully she'll have the surgery this coming week.  I feel much better having figured out how I can help. She welcomed the idea :-)

A couple of weeks ago, a lampwork glass artist (Sue Beads) that I'm FB friends with posted some new bead sets she'd just created. One of them was mine immediately --they remind me of the Earth, and I just had to have them. I bought them the minute I saw them. This morning I created a bracelet with them, and I have to admit, I really love it.



Thursday, February 5, 2015

Depressing News

I just found out that my sister --the one who broke her leg and had to have her ankle cinched back together?-- she has to have the ankle surgery all over again

The surgery involved a band that was supposed to cinch the ankle bones together, and an X-ray today at a follow-up appointment showed they were spreading again. They think the band broke at some point. 

I am so sad about this. But of course, she is just devastated. It's only been a couple of weeks that she's been able to walk on the foot. And although it's been painful, this means another six weeks with no weight on the foot. Another six weeks of basically sitting on the couch. Ugh. It's just so depressing.

I am trying to figure out if there's any way I can get a colleague to cover some of my classes so I could drive out there and help for the first week or so. I don't know. I hate that the US is so darn big.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Getting Arty

I came across a coloring book that I love so much. I'm a colored-pencil person --I've always loved what I can do with them. This particular coloring book has a very romantic feel, as you can see in the following photos.


One of the things I like best about colored pencils is your ability to blend colors into one another. But there's also a lot of control --much more than with paints. I find the process very satisfying. 

After coloring for a bit in this book, I wondered about coloring on polymer clay. I've tried painting it, with okay results, but I just don't have the control I'd like. So I did some googling and found someone who'd tried colored pencils. I figured one of the things I'd need is an appropriate sealant, and she had one to recommend. 

Then I created a few different types of beads to practice on. I like the idea of using stamps on the clay, although at the moment I only have access to Emma's stamps, and they're not exactly what I'd choose. Still, I created a few beads with the stamps, and then also created a few with a texture block I bought which is based on zentangles.

Then, after baking, I got out my colored pencils. Coloring on the clay was more difficult than I expected --sometimes the surface wouldn't take the color, and it seemed to depend on the color itself, which is strange. But I played around to get a feel for it, and this is what I came up with.
Coloring on a textured surface is different than coloring on a piece of paper, and I learned some things as I worked on these --things that worked, and things that didn't work. But it was fun and satisfying, and now I see a some stamp-shopping in my future.