Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Yard is Going. . . Going. . .

We got the call yesterday that the demolition would begin.  We woke up early and marked the trees that were to stay, using fabric strips: I wrote "Keep Me!" and "Do NOT Demolition!" on the strips.

By 9:00 a.m. this morning, we had four trucks, five workers and a nifty little red sod-cutting machine. 

 First they wet my crunchy grass (crunchy because of the awful heat and the two applications of chemical to kill the lawn), then in a careful path, went around it with their machine. A guy with a pitchfork loosened the sod behind the machine.  Then they packed up the machine and the guy with the hat (Bruno) and the guy with the sunglasses (Christian) took it off to the next job.

 Apparently mine is one of eleven jobs they are juggling.  The turf is cut and loosened.  Then I was gone for a few hours running errands, so now we fast forward.

 No more crunchy sod, and quite a few of the junipers on our hill have been hacked down to size.  As I drove up, the air smelled like pine.  Good-bye you nasty junipers!

 Good-bye cement patio!  In another life, I toted those slabs over from our neighbor who was redoing his driveway.  We set them in the dirt and drizzled sand mixed with cement in between.  They've done their duty for about twenty years.  I cautioned them that may find a shoebox with a small hamster buried in here.  Of course, it may have been somewhere else that we buried a small rodent.

  They are lifting the cement into the tractor, and he carries it down the hill to the dump truck.  In spite of marking the trees, two Heavenly Nandina on the side were yanked by accident.  (Sigh.)

View from the driveway.  Things are going. . . going. . . but not all the way gone.  It took 33 years to grow some of these things and they can be demolitioned in a day.  Or two. 

Sunday, September 14, 2014

The Wild Frontier of the Internet

We are now back in internet business with our Apple Airport Extreme Router.  For nearly three weeks most of our wireless internet was non-functional, read: no signal on iPads or laptops.  We'd had two visits from our cable company, multiple moderate-cursing sessions about the dropped off signal until finally, through an internet search on the desktop machine (which isn't wifi, but also wasn't functioning all that great), we diagnosed it as a router going bad. 

Kind of like these guys.

We picked up a new router at a local box store, and Dave spent Saturday afternoon installing it and getting us up and running.By last night things were much smoother, we could get signal on all our other screens, and we even now have a Guest Wifi (get ready to change your passwords, kids).  So we sat down to watch Transcendence, a movie starring Johnny Depp and an earnest gang of renegades fighting the takeover of a Depp-like machine throughout the known universe, aka, the internet/web/connected world.

Kind of like these guys.

This is the famous OPTE Map of the Internet, from 2005, showing only about 30% of the data they had available at the time.  I've used it before when I taught about the web in my English classes, and it was also used in the movie last night.

It was an interesting juxtaposition, considering what we'd just been through.  Yes, runaway machines can certainly be a concern, but at this stage of life, I missed sitting in bed, reading blogs on my laptop at night.  I missed being able to look at social media and read our scriptures together on my iPad after dinner.  And what this taught me was how seamlessly we'd blended our machines into our lives, making use of them in keeping us connected to the larger outside world.

I was happy to be back in the saddle again, riding my internet range.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Progress Photos -- September 10, 2014

Update on our Front/Side Yard Project:  We've killed the front lawn pretty dead.  Here's the before (not that the lawn was that great even then, but hey).

Here it is after one week.  And with no water, too.

One afternoon I came out and there were little flags and strips of paint denoting all the utilities.  I had been upstairs quilting, and thought how busy everyone in the world had been while I was enjoying myself even though I, too, was working hard.

Then yesterday, Bruno, the spray guy, came out and squirted more RoundUp to really kill the grass.  We'd had an amazing storm a couple of days before that and he said "Good.  Then the grass that shot up will get it again."  Greg, the guy I talk to at the landscape company said maybe next week they'd start tearing out the junipers in front.  Can't wait.  We also got two bids on the 27 feet of fence we need to enclose the side yards.  We put in new fences, sharing the costs with three different neighbors in March of 2010.  Today we felt like this small amount of fence cost as much as the whole yard four years ago.  We ARE getting older.

Okay, so about that storm.  It was the leading edge of the remnants of a hurricane from Baja California and above is a shot as it moved over our neighboring city to the north.  As you can see, some parts got soaked and other parts got nothing.

And here's a picture DURING the deluge, when we figured it dropped numerous inches in about an hour.  This is showing the water streaming off our neighbor's yard into our back yard, up onto the cement slab at our back garage door.  It went there, then through the garage.  What a mess.  (The hoses are coiled up there in the corner because we moved them from the front and side yards so they would not get Rounded Up.)

The following photos (and the above) are some of the damage we saw as we took our morning walk, just in our neighborhood.

The photos above and below are from the neighborhood park where we sometimes drive to walk. The deluge carved out the shoulder of the road (above) and broke up the concrete on the drainage basin (below).

The next morning, we saw more trees down that we hadn't seen the day before.  This one was broken off right at the surface of the grass.  As for our yard, just that flooding through the garage and one tiny branch off a tree at the back of the yard.  We feel pretty lucky.

Thursday, September 04, 2014

St. Paul's Suite

I seem to turn on the radio whenever I'm in the car and recently heard Gustav Holst's St. Paul's Suite as I drove up the long sloping freeways to our neighboring town.

The piece, written in gratitude for his new office at St. Paul's Girls School, or so the announcer said, has several parts and the section that really caught my ear was the one where a traditional tune (which reminds me of "what can you do with a drunken sailor") is overlaid by Greensleeves.  Which led me to think about the commentary I read about a not-so-favorite quilter who claimed she'd invented a technique where she overlaid her quilting pattern over something else, and that the two designs, without any relationship to each other, coexist on her quilt.  I've seen a couple of those quilts and I would typify it more like an argument these two designs were having.

(from *here*)

That made me think of my current argument with the world: about how everything old is new again, but I seem to be the only witness to this in the quilting world.

This quilter claims she has a new and original idea about overlaying two distinct patterns, but here Holst was doing it musically decades before she was every born.  Another quilter proclaimed that her book contained New! and Fresh! block designs for quilts, but the block she chose was one I'd seen in a book published in 1970, some forty years ago.  Another duo talked about their take on combining two blocks in one quilt, but Joen Woelfrom pioneered that idea some twenty years ago.

Maybe it's because I traffic in the "modern" gang--young women who, having missed out on Home Ec and Sewing are now learning to sew by quilting, by trying to reinvent the wheel and claiming for their own.  Some of us oldtimers laugh at the young'uns trying to enforce copyright on traditional quilt patterns.  Several of us were drawn into a working group (called a "bee") and have named ourselves the Mid-Century Modern Quilters, the mid-century a nod to the fact that we are all over 50 years old.

I listened to an NPR show the other where an established artist (read: older) talked about his younger years and how he thought his ideas were new and interesting and really lit the art world on fire.  He chuckled, paused, then said, "I suppose all young artists think that."  I suppose so.

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Life Maps

I found this unpublished post while cleaning out my blog, written in my second semester of teaching.  While some things are dated (I am on sabbatical this semester), the ideas are still current.

Her study abroad semester in high school changed her life forever.

I teach an interesting group of students who bring a lot of energy and discipline to their studies. Recently I asked them to create a visual display of their life or goals, essentially a map of some kind to accompany an evaluation of said life (2 page paper).

Has decided that she wants to be a Chef.
I snapped pictures of the maps so I'd have a record for the grading later on, plus a photo of them holding their map so I could match up map to student. What I saw today (in conglomerate) was an interesting cross-section of maps, students and the faces of the other students in the background.

The only person I've ever known to get out the military just by asking.

We love to have her read in class; her British accent gives authority to whatever's written.

Built his map in a spiral, as he's alternately spiraled out of, then back into, control of his life.

Escaped with his family from Afghanistan, and is gearing up to be a physicist.

Took us on a treasure hunt of her life, having lived in one neighborhood the whole time.

Born in an Eastern European country, her story from her childhood captivated the class.

This is my sample, and because I'm older, I narrowed it down to the Voyage of Education--the islands representing different facets of the 32 year quest for an advanced degree; A=community college, B=undergraduate at a four-year college, C=graduate degree.

I sometimes wonder about my life now, how I don't seem to have much energy for new things, and feel captive to the grading and lesson prep. I try to get ahead, so as to have some time to create, read, and relax, but the responsibilities of this life I have seem to expand to fill the available time.

If I had to build a map of my life--the entire life--I would be doing it in hindsight. The single quality that captivated me about my students was their hope for the future. It was a nearly tangible quality that dangled in front of me, but out of reach. Their hopes are so specific: med school, become a chef, get a new car, have a baby, get married, have an interesting career. It's been interesting to compare their youthful visions with my oh-so-nonspecific hopes for the future: stay healthy, avoid injury, get enough sleep. I sound like I belong in an Old Folks Home, which is dismaying, because even my parents (some 30 years older than I am) seem to have more energy and drive and are no where near that Sit-in-Place place.

I feel like I'm using up my life. I always said that when I got the children raised there'd be no holding me back. . . but from what? Even then I couldn't be specific. I had certain dreams that I seem to have laid aside for safekeeping, but even Frost knew that way led on to way and there's no return to those mislaid dreams.

And now, when I have the delightful option of All This Time, I find there's not much I want to do. Or I find that there's too much I want to do. Or the other reality is that just contemplating what it is I want to do leaves me so tired, I don't even want to start.

And quite frankly, I'm jealous of these students, their faces reflecting this tangible future.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Comments Can Be Entertaining

I read the Guardian Newspaper occasionally, and recently there was a news article about the spat two passengers had over a reclining seat.  Of course, they were Americans, and so the plane diverted and left the two brawlers at a random airport before continuing the flight.  The complete article is *here* and is where I found the picture of the plane, above.

I found the comments on this British Newspaper to be very entertaining. I took some snapshots of some of the better ones.  Be aware--there may be some colorful language.