29 June 2011

Postcards on Display

An especially fun aspect of the Summer Wizarding Event making has been our entire crew's mantra: Reuse - Recyle - Repurpose.  Some of the larger set pieces are assemblages of so many rummage sale and Goodwill finds that it is hard to believe! (Sorry, but I am still sworn to secrecy and so cannot post any pics of those items yet.) 

My creations have been of a more modest sort.  The event's post office just got a wall of cubbies thanks to the temporary loan of our CD case.

It will be placed on an oak table next to the "store" in a major entry way to the building in which we are hosting the event. Conveniently, it needs no paint and will be only minimally decorated. 

There will be items for sale at our post office, including, of course, postcards.  I found a recipes cabinet at a rummage sale the other weekend (only $2!).  I painted out the label, creating a trompe l'oeil-style "brass" plaque instead.

25 June 2011

The Post That Was

I like email for all the reasons most folks do: speed and ease.  But when it comes to solid connections, I am a devoted letter writer.  I so enjoy images of postal people and activity of times past.  It reminds me that the fourth dimension of TIME goes in both directions - forward and back.  I see old letters and old images and I feel a connection with all the people who lived before.

The British Postal Museum and Archives has its own Flickr account.  Here are some images I especially like.  You can find the home page for the account here.

24 June 2011

Urban Farming: Week 5-ish Update

Dear Diary,

All that rain made it easy to care for 'The Farm' these past two weeks. It's pretty cool, though, how just a few days can make such a difference.  On Tuesday - just 3 days ago - I was showing off the Back 32 (4x8) to one of my sisters.  The brussel sprouts and zucchini were looking pretty fine.  This morning, when I went over to do my weekly community stint with the compost pile and mulch spreader, I swear the b-sprouts were an inch higher and the zuchs at least 4 more inches wide across!

Not sure what's happening with the cauliflower though.  I planted 3, one per square like the book says.  Two I can see and I'm not sure if that 3rd wee beastie is a weed or the other one; too small to compare its leaf shape.

In another week or so, Beloved Spousal Unit and I will be enjoying fresh lettuce for our salad (along with a flavoring of fresh basil from the porch garden!). This is good as the b-sprouts are starting to crowd out the lettuce a bit. Not sure if whose going to win the Space Wars: the bush beans or the collards - may have to thin things out there a bit soon.

Took a little time to look at the neighboring plots.  Rather a mix of approaches and intents there.  I'm pretty sure the one next to me is owned by someone who isn't sure what s/he planted and is waiting for the plants to get big enough to pull some rather obvious weeds (and there is a thistle plant front and center going full guns looking like it plans to take over the planet!).  Another plot has some very full sugar peas that have been crying out to be harvested for two weeks now.  Wonder if they'll transmorgify into vinegar peas!

A few folks are clearly old hands at this farming thing.  Lettuce planted in one plot, when I was still daydreaming about what I might like to eat this Fall has grown, been harvested, and something else has been planted in its stead.  The guy growing melons (who said they don't do well in his 'home garden') has those babies tenderly tucked into a straw mulch like he's expecting quintulplets for each single plant! 

It's supposed to get sunny again soon.  I expect my next update with you, dear Diary, will be showing stuff as 'high as an elephant's eye'!

Til then . . .

Week 3's garden post is here and
Week 1's post is here.

21 June 2011

The Coolness That is Stars

The last time I truly saw the stars was over 40 years ago - on a late night star-watching adventure with my older sister Cee who was (and still is) an astronomy buff.  Now, city lights drown out the vastness and beauty above.  I can only see the major constellations: Orion, Ursa Major, Taurus. . . .  It's like being malnourished to have so little when so much is there.

Nick Risinger has done an awesome thing.  Here's his own description of it:
"The Photopic Sky Survey is a 5,000 megapixel photograph of the entire night sky stitched together from 37,440 exposures. Large in size and scope, it portrays a world far beyond the one beneath our feet and reveals our familiar Milky Way with unfamiliar clarity. When we look upon this image, we are in fact peering back in time, as much of the light—having traveled such vast distances—predates civilization itself.

Seen at a depth thousands of times more faint than the dimmest visible star, tens of millions of other suns appear, still perhaps only a hundredth of one percent thought to exist in our galaxy alone. Our Milky Way galaxy is the dominant feature, its dusty arms sweeping through the frame, punctuated by red clouds of glowing hydrogen. To the lower right are our nearest neighbors, each small galaxies themselves with their own hundreds of millions of stars."

Here is his link.  Go there. Be awed. 

And then think about how much we miss on a regular basis - and check out the International Dark-Sky Association, a group whose goal it is to reduce man-made light and return the sky to us.  One can have street lights, and house lights, but there's a way to do it that limits the impact on the visibility of the stars.

17 June 2011

Button, Button, Who Has the Button?

The Summer Wizarding Event has gotten me back into sewing. Yesterday I repaired the nylon purse of a friend and sewed the skirt and apron for one of the Event Day characters.

The character's personality is a bit fuss-and-fluster, so the patterns on the two pieces don't quite match to reflect this.  But she likes fine little details.  So I gave the pocket a pointed "lapel" and Art Deco button for finish.

Searching for the button (in a jar of collected new, vintage, and antique buttons) had me in a button-y frame of mind. ;-) I have several (ok, 8!) plastic storage bins of fabric stashed away in our basement.  The buttons gave me ideas for future sewing projects.

So it was rather fun to have come across this sweet, stop-motion video of buttons in the Moscow subway! (I love all the background touches - all sewing tools or sewing-related.)

14 June 2011

Urban Farming: Week 3 Update

Dear Diary,

It's been 3 weeks since I planted the wee 4x8 garden.  The seedlings are much bigger and the other plants have begin to sprout.  The four sunflower plants are already 4 inches high and the two zucchini look like they will live up to their space-hogging reputation!

I also turned the compost (less stinky than I thought it would be!) and spread wood chip mulch on a big ole chunk of the walkways between the plots.  Being as how this is a community garden, I am hoping these two activities accrued me much favorable karma in terms of low weed count and a good, eventual harvest.

The bush bean plants have gone crazy!

When you next see Mother Nature, would you please ask her to let up on the bizarre weather patterns?  I am sure it is quite amusing from her perspective, but having to cover my porch plants with a flannel sheets for three nights running caused me to get way too many funny looks from the neighbors.

See you in a few weeks, Diary dear!

13 June 2011

Versions of Things Beloved, Part 3

There are songs that get so overworked:  "My Heart Will Go On" from the film Titanic, "Memory" from the musical Cats, Antonio Bocelli's "The Prayer."  Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah has gotten its fair share of overplay yet still affects powerfully -- as a Rorschach test, an anthem, a talisman, and a point in time - whatever time it's sung.

The Wikipedia article on the song notes: "Cohen's lyrical poetry and his view that "many different hallelujahs exist" is reflected in wide-ranging covers with very different intents or tones of speech, allowing the song to be "melancholic, fragile, uplifting [or] joyous" depending on the performer: The Welsh singer-songwriter John Cale, the first person to record a cover version of the song in 1991, promoted a message of "soberness and sincerity" in contrast to Cohen's dispassionate tone; The cover by Jeff Buckley, an American singer-songwriter, is more sorrowful and was described by Buckley as "a hallelujah to the orgasm"; Crowe interpreted the song as a "very sexual" composition that discussed relationships; Wainwright offered a "purifying and almost liturgical" interpretation to the song; and Guy Garvey of the British band Elbow anthropomorphised the hallelujah as a "stately creature" and incorporated his religious interpretation of the song into his band's recordings ."

Leonard Cohen - Album Version

Leonard Cohen - Dublin 2008

Jeff Buckley

K.D. Lang - 2005

John Cale - 1992

Tim Minchin and Geraldine Quinn - 2005


I've heard there was a secret chord
That David played, and it pleased the Lord
But you don't really care for music, do you?
It goes like this
The fourth, the fifth
The minor fall, the major lift
The baffled king composing Hallelujah

Your faith was strong but you needed proof
You saw her bathing on the roof
Her beauty and the moonlight overthrew you
She tied you to a kitchen chair
She broke your throne, and she cut your hair
And from your lips she drew the Hallelujah

Baby I have been here before
I know this room, I've walked this floor
I used to live alone before I knew you.
I've seen your flag on the marble arch
Love is not a victory march
It's a cold and it's a broken Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

There was a time you let me know
What's really going on below
But now you never show it to me, do you?
And remember when I moved in with you
The holy dove was moving too
And every breath we drew was Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Maybe there’s a God above
But all I’ve ever learned from love
Was how to shoot at someone who outdrew you
It’s not a cry you can hear at night
It’s not somebody who has seen the light
It’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

You say I took the name in vain
I don't even know the name
But if I did, well really, what's it to you?
There's a blaze of light in every word
It doesn't matter which you heard
The holy or the broken Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

I did my best, it wasn't much
I couldn't feel, so I tried to touch
I've told the truth, I didn't come to fool you
And even though it all went wrong
I'll stand before the Lord of Song
With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

09 June 2011

VIDEO: Mechanical Flying Horse

I somehow manged to pass by the horse fascination stage that I am told many young girls go through. (I liked dinosaurs and space ships!).  But I did read a lot of Greek mythology and the Oz books.  Just enough suspension of disbelief not to wonder if horses could really fly or where the Deadly Desert surrounding OZ actually began.

The brief video below is just fun.  It appeals to my love of mechanical toys and gives me an idea of how a flying horse might actually move while flying.

04 June 2011

Urban Farming

Demeter ("the ancient Greek chthonian goddess of agriculture and the protector of marriage and the social order, identified by the Romans with Ceres"), a.k.a. Ma Nature, has finally let go of a very cold and rainy Spring here in the Midwest.  It's  warm enough to plant at last - and so I did with delighted diligence.

In addition to the house plants, which appear ecstatic to be outside, and some red and white impatiens, our front porch now holds several pots of kitchen herbs: basil (2 kinds), cilantro, rosemary, lemon balm, sage (2 kinds), and "sugar herb" <-- also known as stevia rebaudiana. This last item is an experiment.  Totally devoid of nutritional value, it is supposed to be gazillions more sweet than sugar (and somehow not a problem for diabetics, which seems not quite believable).  And as also as an experiment, I'll see if some extra brussell sprout seedling plants and onions can make a go of it in the last few pots I have left.

Two blocks away is our neighborhood's community garden.  We upped for a 4x8 plot this year. I've long been intrigued by the square foot gardening approach - so I now I finally get to try my hand at it.  

My map for planting

It was a cool-ish day today with low humidity: perfect for planting seeds and transplanting some seedlings.  Beloved Spousal Unit helped me set up the chicken wire fencing. (Chicken wire isn't called that anymore, apparently.  It was labeled as poultry fencing.  No wonder I couldn't find it in the store!)

Come harvest time, we hope to have
  • beans (3 kinds)
  • brussel sprouts
  • carrots 
  • cauliflower
  • leeks 
  • lettuce
  • onions
  • zucchini (only planted 2, lest we be overrun!)
And several large sunflowers for bird seed.   

01 June 2011

Making Rules

David Malki, creator of Wondermark, one of my favoritest cartoons and websites on the InterTubes, has given permission for this image to be embedded here.  Thanks for the permission and the inspiration.  (Click here to see it on Malki's website in full size.)

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