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The Action This Evening

*Gingersnap is calmly watching TV*

*a commercial for Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk appears*

Gingersnap: *gasp* “DUNKIRK! DUNKIRK! BOYS! GET IN HERE IT’S A DUNKIRK COMMERCIAL!”

*thuds and door slams from the back of the house*

*boys burst into the living room like that scene from The Sound of Music when the Von Trapp children first appear*

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Artwork Wednesday – Of Bugs, Yarn Stashes, & Craft Sprees

(Posted on a Tuesday, but hey, I’m ahead of the game this time!)

Once again, this week I did more crafting than drawing.  I haven’t felt like drawing lately—or just don’t want to spend the 4+ hours required polishing and refining the sketch.  A patience problem or a perfectionist problem?  Not sure.

Actually, it’s a perfectionist problem, because I spent hours weaving and crocheting this week without remorse.  But you’re no doubt wondering about the “bugs” part in the title—though if you’re a seasoned crocheter/knitter/weaver, you can probably guess what that’s all about.  *cue spooky music*

While merrily working away at a yarn project last week, I glanced down at my work bag and saw a bug perched on the green ball of yarn.  After recovering from cardiac arrest, I disposed of the critter, and then googled images of bugs that infest yarn.  The real part of this horror story?  I couldn’t tell whether the insect suspect was a harmless black-and-orange ladybug—or a carpet beetle, notorious for eating yarn and infesting the house as well.

With the identity of the suspect in question, I stuffed all my balls of yarn into plastic bags and stuck the bags in the freezer to kill any remaining critters.  Then I gathered my recently completed yarn projects and my woven work bag and threw them in the washer.  There were no signs of infestation, but I wasn’t taking any chances.  And I seriously considered just throwing away the yarn in the freezer—a tragedy, to be sure, but it would take weeks to properly de-bug the stuff, and we have such a small freezer, the bags would take up a lot of space.

In the meantime, I embarked upon an Anti-Bug Protection Plan (code named: Die, Mangy Critters!!!!).  I made four sachets and filled them with whole cloves.

The blue one went into my work bag (once it was washed), the plaid and block ones went into my yarn box, and the fourth (not pictured) went into the box of ornaments my hobby tree, because a lot of fabric and crocheted decorations live there.

I finally decide to pitch my yarn stash and buy new yarn.  Almost at the last minute on Saturday, I went to Hobby Lobby and loaded up the shopping cart.

Here is (part of) my new stash.  The rest of the yarn is in my clove-smelling work bag, because I started several projects the minute I got home with my loot.

Last week, I learned a new stitch: the half-double crochet.  And I practiced it by making a tree skirt for my hobby tree.  I also learned how to…

…crochet scallops along the edge!

Then I made some Christmassy pot holders.

And a couple of place mats.

Somebody stop me!!!

Actually, don’t.  This is way too much fun.  🙂

And I’m in the middle of making another pot holder to practice this pattern:

If it turns out well, I may crochet an afghan in that pattern.  And maybe more place mats in different colors.  Also a tree skirt, perhaps.  And then another afghan, and maybe crocheted holly leaves, and another pot holder in summery colors, and oh, also that mat I want to weave… *loses self in the bliss of planning more projects*

 

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Family Terms and Definitions

Over the years, our family has created euphemisms, phrases, and descriptions that are unique to us and our interests.  Such sayings appear in daily conversation (often gleefully repeated ad nauseam after something particularly funny is coined)–but unfortunately leaves the uninitiated with no idea of what we mean.  Hence, this dictionary.

Aged C  (n.“We’re taking the Aged to church.”  The erstwhile kids’ car.  One family quirk is naming our vehicular devices, and this car’s name was a variant of the Dickens character Aged Parent, or Aged P.  We decided that if we said to any young man: “Do you object to an Aged Car?  Because I have got one,” and he recognized the quote as one of Dickens’s–well, he might just be boyfriend material.  No young man ever recognized the line, but Uncle C. from church did.

Right before the car completely died, Enkie was afraid it would fall to pieces, Wilde E. Coyote style, the middle of an intersection, leaving her clutching the wheel amid a wreckage of auto parts.

Bangy-Bangy  (v.“Anybody mind if I bangy-bangy?”  Playing the piano, a term coined by Gingersnap.  Contrary to what the term implies, she plays very well.

Bookends, the  (n., pl.“The middle three kids are running errands, so it’s just the bookends here at home.”  Me and Emmet; I’m the eldest of the kids and he’s the youngest.  Dad coined this creative term during one of his homeschooling speeches.

Buckland  (n.“He’s the Buckland of the group.”  A really clueless and incompetent leader.  Named after first mate Buckland from the Horatio Hornblower episodes Mutiny and Retribution.  Buckland is a leader so clueless and incompetent you have to wonder how he rose to the rank of first mate at all.

Christine Stories  (n., pl.“Can you tell us a Christine story before bed?”  Stories from my childhood, imparted primarily to my brothers.  I am 10 years older than Chris and 14.5 years older than Emmet and have accumulated interesting anecdotes about family events, doings, mishaps that happened before they were born or while they were too young to remember.  Such anecdotes range in severity from tornado threats and terrible injuries to the amusing attempt at homemade candles or the escapade of jumping off the filing cabinet.  For fun.

Clueless Morgan  (n.“Sorry, I’m just a Clueless Morgan today.”  Borrowed from Muppet Treasure Island, this refers to someone who is, well, clueless.  Similar to the term “Buckland,” but with an undercurrent of dopiness.  Sometimes the terms are used together, e.g. “Clueless Buckland.”

Cup of Ambition  (n.“Let me get a cup of ambition, and then we’ll go.”  Coffee.  ‘Nuff said.

Don’t Be That Duck  (phrase)  From Sandra Boyton’s Happy Hippo, Angry Duck.  The book ends with “Except for the duck.  He’s always that way [angry].”  A between-siblings reminder to perk up and adjust a stinky attitude.

Dustfinger  (n.)  “Dustfinger is installing updates and taking his slow, sweet time about it.”  Gingersnap’s laptop.  We also name our technological devices: laptops, phones, the PC, sometimes even sewing machines.  Gingernsap’s previous laptop was Mo.

Early Bus, Late Bus  (n.)  “The Early Bus leaves at 8: 45, to whom it may concern.”  The vehicles that depart first and last for church.  The sisters have ministries that require us to leave before 9:00 a.m.; and trying to get all seven of us clothed and in our right minds at such an early hour would require a miracle from heaven.  Hence the departures in two cars and at different times.

Effie Mozart  (n.“Effie needs to be tuned; she sounds like a broken guitar.”  Our piano.  Named “Effie” because its color is mahogany, and “Mozart” because Emmet wanted specifically wanted that.

Falcon (Millennial, the)  (n.“Can’t take you to the library right now; Enkie has the Falcon.”  The current kid car, driven primarily by Enkie.  The Falcon is so named because “she doesn’t look like much, but she’s got it where it counts.”

Fluzzy (adj.)  “She’s such a sweet, fluzzy dog!!”  A mash-up of “fluffy” and “fuzzy,” used in adoration of our dog’s cuteness.

Fury, the  (n.“I’m leaving the keys to the Fury on the table.”  Dad’s car, which bears a suspicious resemblance to the black car Nick Fury drives in Captain America: The Winter Soldier.  We have yet to discover, however, if its air conditioner can survive the apocalypse.

Fussy  (n.)  “Fussy locked up again!”  Enkie’s laptop.  So named because the thing malfunctions when most inconvenient.

Gloom, Doom, & Chitauri  (n.“They’re expecting strong storms, but not gloom, doom, and chitauri.”  Any approaching ominous event.  Used mostly of severe weather–and coined when the forecast held incredibly severe storms for our area–but this phrase also refers to political events, sickness, just anything severely disagreeable.

Liquid Motivation  (n.“Mom and I are going to get some liquid motivation before the meeting.”  Coffee.  See also Cup of Ambition

Locusts  (n., pl.“You’d better get some chips and ice cream before the locusts breeze through.”  Other family members, specifically in the context of said members consuming food.  Our family has been known to demolish a whole box of cereal, an entire bag of potato chips, a bag and a half of chocolate chips, and several pints of ice-cream — in one evening.

Martian Death Virus  (n.“We’re not available to babysit this week because half the family has the Martian Death Virus.”  Any nasty sickness, often one that flattens half the family simultaneously or else hits one person who then inadvertently passes the virus on so that each family member falls sick one by one like a row of dominoes.

Red Ink  (v.)  “Do you want me to red ink it?”  To edit a piece of writing.  Chris coined this term as I edited one of his response essays.

Sermonizing  (v.“Dad is out in the office sermonizing.”  Preparing a sermon.

Sibling Bonding Time  (n.)  “We’re going to watch Secret of Moonacre for sibling bonding time.”  Our excuse for watching lousy, cheesy — but fun — movies.

Sydney  (n.“Sydney is on, but asleep; don’t touch him.”  My laptop.  Named after (you guessed it) Sydney Carton.

Tolkien Chapters  (n., pl.)  “I won’t be going to bed for a while; this book has Tolkien chapters.”  Really, really long chapters.  Coined during a family read-aloud of Tolkien’s epic and after counting 22 pages in the first chapter of The Fellowship of the Ring.

Transformer, the  (n.)  “Everybody get in the Transformer; it’s time to go.”  Our SUV.  So named because its bulk is such that you expect it to unfold into something massively robotic when you least expect it.

We Three Kings (n., pl.“It’s just we three kings going to church this evening.”  The middle three kids: Enkie, Gingernsap, and Chris.  This term was coined when they were rehearsing the song “We Three Kings” as part of the Christmas special at church.

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One-Liners Around Our House

While watching Inception the other night:

Gingersnap: “I ship Arthur and Ariadne.”

Me: “Arthur shipped Arthur and Ariadne–Mr. ‘Kiss-me-well-it-was-worth-a-try!’ ”

 

Emmet jumped over the little table that had been pulled in front of his easy chair.  And then he remarked: “That was probably not the best way to exit that chair.”

 

Chris, relating an anecdote: “I unplugged my seat belt–”

Me: “Unplugged your seat belt?!?!? Millennial kid, good night!!”

Chris: “Hey, I’m entitled to talk like that.”

 

We were having baked potatoes for dinner one night.

Emmet: “Will someone help me squeeze the guts out of my potato?

Then, when I paused to write down that quote before helping him…

Emmet: “Um, Guts?  Potato?  Help?”

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Life Lately: Reading, Reality, & Nostalgia

My blog is once again a sad, quiet place inhabited by cyber-tumbleweeds. Ideas for posts hit me in a abundance, but whenever I put fingers to keyboard, my brain acts like it doesn’t know English.  Or good paragraph structure.  Or how to log in to my dashboard.

When the grammar/literature side of my brain thus malfunctions, I turn to artwork.  Yesterday, I created a watercolor work-in-progress post, taking snapshots of my work space and of each step of the painting process.  (And scribbled a page of hieroglyphics that I would later translate into coherent explanations.)  But at the last minute, the watercolors bled into each other and caked up, ruining the painting.

Moral of the story: “Quit while you’re not ahead.”  Actually, maybe it’s “Don’t paint and post simultaneously.”  Maybe even “In order to further artistic skill and understanding, practice and use your selected medium more frequently than once in the duration of the moon’s rotation, and the chances of such utter and abysmal failure will lessen drastically.”

Or most likely: “Wait for the paint to dry completely before you add another layer.”  🙂

I have a couple of other posts drafted.  One is about Christine Daae and the deeper layers of her character in the musical.  Another is a post about Movie-Raoul and how Patrick Wilson was underused and underappreciated.  I’ll get them up as soon as I edit and tidy the concepts, sentence fragments, unconnected paragraphs, and random notes like “something about what she might have been feeling <insert picture later>.  <too sarcastic; don’t be biting>  <forgot what I wanted to say here, argh>.”

What I have been doing (instead of blogging) is reading, mainly non-fiction about my historical interests.  One of my favorite time periods is the British political landscape of the 1820s—30s.  This period is called the “Romantic Era,” because of the influence of Romanticism in art, literature, fashion, society—and politics.  I’d go so far as to say the 20s–30s politics laid the foundations for the politics and reforms of the Victorian Era.  Pretty significant, right?  As such, it annoys me when people either ignore the period or lump it in with the Regency or Victorian Eras.  No, guys.  The 1820s—30s was its own period, especially politically.

Okay, rant over.  For my birthday, I received Norman Gash’s Aristocracy and People; Britain, 1815-1865.  A nice, hardback copy to boot.

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Gash’s research is thorough and balanced; he presents all the arguments in a conflict, notes both the successes and mistakes of everyone involved, admits when information is insufficient or when records conflict, and supports his conclusions with a lot of facts.  He also includes an impressive bibliography; I accidentally annoyed my family the night of the party by browsing the bibliography before opening the rest of my presents.  Gash did not disappoint; the bibliography of Aristocracy and People was several pages.

On a different note, though still historical, I changed my desktop background.  If you recall from this post, the background was the Alamo compound under attack.  Here’s my new desktop:

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Yeah, this obsession is not ending anytime soon.  🙂  I recently ordered Three Roads to the Alamo by William C. Davis, and it arrived a couple of days ago.  This book is not about the battle for the Alamo or the politics of Texas independence, but rather about the lives of Crockett, Bowie, and Travis.  Davis too includes an impressive bibliography, with the list of primary sources much longer than the list of secondary sources.  Good show.  And I’ve started decorating the pages with Post-Its.  Which I tend to do with my non-fiction resources.

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I still need to get my hands on resources discussing the battle and the politics of the conflict, but Three Roads to the Alamo is a good place to start researching.

On yet another historical note, I started re-reading the American Girl books.  “Reliving my single digits,” as Mom says.  I forgot how good those books are–not in-depth by any means, but since they were written for 5 to 10-year-olds, they teach the basics of a time period and provide a starting point for more research.

Plus, they’re good stories.  Yes, rather simplistic sometimes, but I was struck by how reasonable the parents (usually) are in each set of books.  Josefina’s Papa, for example, is a reasonable authority figure: he is respected as the patron of the rancho, yet he listens to his children when they have something to say and often does little things to please and cheer them.  Felicity’s parents are also reasonable.  Though she often disagrees with them about what is proper, it’s clear that Mrs. Merriman works hard to keep the household running and to be a wife, mother, hostess, and neighbor.  A doormat of the times, she is not.  And Felicity herself matures through the series, becoming more patient and sacrificial rather than thinking of her own wishes.

It’s sad that the company now owning American Girl has stripped away much of the historical emphasis and resources.  In the ’90s, along with the dolls and their outfits, the company offered paper dolls as well with snippets of information about the historical fashions and customs.  There was also a line of cookbooks and craft books from each girl’s time period.  And companion books titled Welcome to [Girl]’s World, providing even more information about the time period than the “Peek into the Past” sections of the books.

Now most of those resources are gone.  Yes, you can still buy the girls’ stories and find the cook/craft books secondhand online.  But the whole foundation of the American Girl series has been chipped down to almost a side line.  In the recent catalogues, the first pages contain the Girl of the Year and Truly Me dolls, as well as doll salon sets, doll school rooms, and doll snack carts, all with hundreds of accessories and with sound effects built into the hair dryers and popcorn makers (I’m not making that up.)  The historical characters come now with fewer historical outfits and period-appropriate accessories (such as Samantha’s sampler and Addy’s old-fashioned ice cream maker and Kirsten’s spoon bag).  The dolls themselves have been recreated with thinner bodies and faces.

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See?  My doll from the ’90s (on the left) has a wider face and more “chipmunk cheeks”–she looks more like a child, a nine-year-old than the other doll.

Samantha will always be my baby, and I looked like Molly as a kid (round glasses and all, though I have brown eyes instead of grey)–but Josefina is my favorite.  She’s sweet and caring–she loves her family dearly–yet she has a spine of steel and she’s excitable on occasion.  And she has a child’s hope and interest in the world.  In Josefina Saves the Day, it’s adorable that she wants to buy a little toy farm, partly because it looks fun but partly because it reminds her friend Patrick of his home.

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It’s also cute that in this picture, she wears her hair in two braids instead of one!

As I re-read the Josefina books, I became enthralled with 1820s–30s Mexican culture.  So I ordered Welcome to Josefina’s World, which should provide a starting point for further research, especially if it has a good bibliography.

So that’s what I’ve been up to (and what I’ve been fangirling over), and hopefully, I’ll have slightly more coherent posts later in the week.  🙂

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