Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Transformed Patio

You can just see the brick patio beneath the window of the future pottery shed.

The long-term plan for the little white shed out back is to repair it into a pottery shed - an art studio, if you will. French doors, brick patio, pergola, running water (almost plumbed in), kiln, shelves. A space where I can play in the dirt, make a mess, and create to my hearts' delight.

This summer, a short-term plan evolved.

Due to our extended spate of 90-100 degree days, the grands had much activity with water - pool, water table, buckets, and so on. But my mud loving grandson was frustrated by Nana's crammed garden beds and lack of dirt for digging and mudding.

The grands, along with Nana and Papa, made a trip to Lowe's for play sand. Say what? A cost of less than $4, and you would think we had purchased a RT pass for the entire family to Disneyland. The sand was a hit; for hours and hours, the sand was loved. To make it work, we had to use the little round plastic swimming pool as a sand box. No big. Both grands had a ball.

And then the temps rose to over 100. Our pool was full of sand. We made a race to a local department store (this was in July, mind you) and they were sold out of pools. Amazing. Still almost 2 months of water fun ahead. No pools.

Back in the yard, desperate for a sand box AND a wading pool, we eyed the brick patio in front of my future pottery shed.

Hmmm. Rearrange a few bricks, build up the edge, dump in the sand, transformation complete...Fantastico!

Shade, flowers, dirt, sand, water, feeze-pops (her words, not mine) & contentment!

For the meantime, we have a sandbox made of bricks. And a wading pool.

And VERY happy grands.

A bonus discovery? Dig down deep enough through the sand and there is dirt!
Dirt plus water plus sand equals one mama-jama mud pit. Dirty and happy kids.

Monday, August 19, 2013

BBG: Birds Be Gone

Why, yes, it did take me all the way until the middle of August to conciously wonder why I had not seen many birds in my yard. And then bam, there I was talking to myself.

"You know, there haven't been any birds around this summer," I said to me. "Usually they are hanging out at the fountain and eating my berries and annoying the cat and picking at the lettuce. They haven't even been having this-is-my-sunflower-get-your-own wars!"

Well, there was that one day there was a beautiful yellow finch eating off the cosmos seeds. But that was it.

Doesn't take me long. I put 2 and 2 together.

This was because I had just noticed WHAT was making the squawking sounds all summer...I KNEW it sounded like a bird that eats other things,like meat. But I couldn't locate the culprit.

Guess where this bird, who had found perfect hunting grounds in my backyard, was nesting? And chilling?

Notice the sparrow hawk on top of the pole. My zoom does not do justice. He was eye-balling me!

Nesting? Right behind our fence in a huge tree. Chilling? Top of the power pole behind our fence.

Sheesh. Sparrow hawks been having a good time in the ole garden of Q.

If you ever feel like small birds are destroying your garden, just encourage one of these sparrow hawks to nest. No more problems for you. Except noise.

So. My birds be gone. Boo-hoo.

(Those are my sunflowers in the foreground. Same bird is on top of the pole. His mate is outlined on a branch in the big tree behind him.)

Friday, August 16, 2013

Storming of the Brain

Storming of the brain, otherwise known as brainstorming, is a lovely exercise in dreaming up all sorts of solutions or actions to a problem or idea. I adore brainstorming.

This BS (conducted on sticky notes, which were then torn in half when I organized) was sorted onto a huge art board. Perfect for rearranging my ideas and keeping them in one place.

Because I can really go crazy. Anything goes in brainstorming. From now on, brainstorming will be called BS (not to be confused with other colorful metaphors popular in society).

BS is wild! I always write too many words, so BS is perfect for letting me use all the words I want. The ideas can be good, bad, zany, wayyyyyy out there, scary, boring, impossible - but that's the fun of BS.

Brainstorming is a vacation for the brain. No longer have to stay inside the box. Any box. Maybe the TARDIS. See? I just jumped into BS mode.

Just for fun, try a little BS of your own. Go ahead. Take that idea you've been toying with, put it to paper. Let everything else go out the window and scribble down as many ideas that relate to that idea as you can. Feel free to include mini lists (I also love making lists) for things like questions, supplies, locations, and so on.

The universe is the limit when one is BS. When your brain is pleasantly blank, stow the BS papers somewhere safe and go your way. BS ideas have to simmer for a bit. Pull out the BS list later and take a look. Then you can choose your favorite and get organizing.

Speaking of which, organizing ideas, after BS, may be a bit scary. I've been known to BS on everything - napkins, paper, notepads, sticky notes, receipts, magazine covers...any piece of paper is fair game. Organizing is a tad more interesting using those types of BS notes.

So get to storming of the brain!

PS Yes. That is my ironing board. Due to some rearranging of the office, I am in the market for a good side table to keep my sources at hand. For now. It's the ironing board.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

How NOT to Apply Sunscreen

Below is the proof that sunscreen can indeed be applied incorrectly. Particularly if one is doing the applying alone with disregard for personal ability to stretch and reach all nooks, crannies, and large areas of naked skin.

Beware! This graphic photo includes evidence of self-inflicted abuse. Potential for skin damage is at an all time high.

Notice the large swaths of unprotected skin. Added bonus: hand print on right side of back. Sunblock does work! But only if applied.

In the future, prevent the same disaster. Rely on a friend, spouse, offspring, or even the stranger walking down the sidewalk. Don't risk these results.

Please. Ask. For. Help.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Ice is a Great Way to Cool Off in Summer Heat

This is a fine way to entertain and cool off during summer heat - a great 2-fer-1 deal!

Ingredients: plastic tub, water, food coloring, freezer

Fill a plastic tub at least 2/3 full with water. Add swirls of food coloring. Freeze. Ours froze with weird lines, but I found out the lines corresponded with the rungs on the freezer shelves.

First we played with the ice in the tub.

Then we dumped out the ice and played.

Next we added water to the ice to see what happened (different color for a different day).

Finally we smashed the ice to smithereens.

Can't beat this cheap activity!

PS There was minimal staining on hands from food coloring. It didn't even last the entire activity.

Thursday, August 1, 2013


I'm nesting.

Not the kind you are thinking of. But kind of.

As of yesterday, I would have told everyone to run for their lives before they entered my office/sewing/craft/stamping/closet/library room. Hazardous to your health, avoid at all costs, hazmat before entering.

And then the printer died. Our household seems to be enjoying a spate of electronic failures. After an expensive trip to Costco, new printer box in hand, I entered the scary room.

Alas. No way to transfer or organize so much as a tittle. Major hauling out of stuff - school supplies, give away piles, things for grands to do, magazine pile for hospital, haul to the garage stack...

It is nesting. I do nesting best when I am pregnant and about to give birth (I am not by any stretch of the imagination preggers) or when I have a deadline. How about three very big and important deadlines? With school looming in the near future? Writers of all genres say writing a book is similar to giving birth. Those manuscripts are our babies. Less in terms of blood, stitches, breast feeding, diapers, and hospital stays. But sleepless nights, angst, preparation, nurturing, snacking, obsession, swaddling,...

Throughout college, each time there was a final or a paper or a major project due, I had to organize my desk and get the room tidy. Only then I was able to concentrate on details.

One would think my house would be impeccable, with the plethora of due dates. Not true.

But my desk looks fantastic.