Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Sisyphean Punishment, Labrador Style

You know in Greek mythology, where the punishment for Sisyphus was that he be eternally sentenced to push a heavy boulder uphill, only to see it go crashing back down before he reached the top so he'd have to start all over again?

I'm thinking that the modern-day equivalent would be eternally Furminating a black lab.

And this person hasn't even gotten started.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Pretty Sure Dylan Thomas Was From Seattle

And here we have the poet Dylan Thomas, discussing this time of year in Seattle.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Rage against the dying of the light? You know what he's talking about, Seattlites. The time where you dig out the SAD light and the Vitamin D, dust off the indoor exercise equipment, and repeat over and over to yourself, "Our three beautiful months of summer make it worth it. Our three beautiful months of summer make it worth it. Our three..." as you try to remember why, exactly, you used to get out of bed in the mornings.

Wait, what's that you say? He was talking about death?

Ah, well. Pretty much the same thing. Although Seattle winters are only nine months long.

Related conversation with a friend from Boston:

Me: blahblahblah SAD light

Friend: A what light?

Me: SAD light. You know? Seasonal Affective Disorder?

Friend: I had never put that acronym together before.

Me: You are OBVIOUSLY not from Seattle.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Monday, September 12, 2011

On Woolly Caterpillars. Which Are Really Alpacas. Or Something

Confession: I have a very tangential brain. I'll see something, and it will remind me of something else, which will remind me of...

Well, you get the picture.

And so it was with this NPR article on Gypsy Moth caterpillars. (It's actually about a virus that infects Gypsy Moth caterpillars and is a very interesting read. Go ahead and click. You know you want to.)

But that got me thinking about the caterpillars I always see on the trails around here -- the black and red fuzzy ones that look like pipe cleaners. (Remember pipe cleaners, oh fellow citizens of a certain age?) I had always assumed they were called "Woolly Caterpillars," but I'd never actually seen anything written to that effect. And so I went to google images and did a search for, yes, "Woolly Caterpillar."

And found this, my friend from the trails.

Which, according to the article it came with, is not a Woolly Caterpillar, but a Woolly BEAR Caterpillar. Which can, according to wives' tales, foretell the severity of an upcoming winter. (For an article on whether this is true, click here. Because seriously, I have nothing better to do than give you more ways to throw away your life.)

But what I also found, whilst googling pictures of caterpillars, was this. (Go here. It's much better in context.)

I don't even want to tell you how long it took me looking at the little thumbnail-sized version of that photo to figure out I was looking at an entirely different species.

I need more coffee.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Why Did It Never Occur to Me to Put This on My Bucket List?

Unusual thing about me: I once helped catch a rattlesnake.

More unusual thing about me: I kind of liked it.

What happened was, I was leading a camp over in Eastern Washington, which is where the rattlesnakes live. (Here in Western Washington, I don't think we have poisonous anything.) But over there, they do get the occasional serpent, so the advice they give to all new campers is: If you hear the rattle, walk away and find the camp manager.

And of course I took this advice about as seriously as I take the in-flight "In case of a water landing, your seat cushion can be used as a flotation device" stuff. But then, one evening, we were walking up to the dining hall for dinner when a couple of the kids came running up and screaming they'd heard the rattle. Then we all watched as a snake, about 2-3 feet long, slithered over to the base of a pine tree and curled up there.

One of my young adult leaders sent a camper to get the camp manager, who arrived quickly with a broom and a large plastic garbage can. He sent the kids on up to the dining hall, and my leaders were quite eager to make sure those campers got there. (I'd thought that since I was a mere civilian and they were there working all summer at the camp, they -- particularly the big, burly 6'3" guy -- might take the lead in helping to catch Mr. Snake.

So it's me and the camp manager. He turns to me, hands me the garbage can, and says, "Would you mind...?"

So I'm standing there with my big blue garbage can, and the manager explains that I'm supposed to turn the can on its side. He'll poke the snake with the broom and urge it in my direction. My job is to make sure the snake enters the can, and then to flip it upright to trap him inside. Which meant that at some point I was going to have to be leaning over my tipped-over garbage can with my hand a couple of feet from where my three-foot-long friend the snake would be entering.

(Fortunately I didn't have time to think of these little details until it was all over. When there's a crisis? Do now. Think later.)

And that's how it went. Poke, rattle, wriggle, hiss, flip, and the snake was inside the upright garbage can and not at all happy about it. (For the record, rattling and hissing can really resonate inside a plastic can.)

Dave, the manager, put a lid on the can , then loaded Mr. Rattler into the back of the pickup to drive him up the canyon for release.

And I was left standing there in the dust thinking, Wow. I just caught a rattlesnake. That is SO COOL!

It never would have occurred to me to want to catch a rattler, but now that I've done it? I'm pretty dang proud.

This was not my snake. Actually, this is apparently two snakes.

Also, if you have any kind of snake phobia, I would highly recommend not doing a google image search for "diamondback rattlesnake."

Friday, September 09, 2011

Because Nothing Says "I'm a Follower of Christ" Like ...

My husband -- a guitarist at our church who loves to play praise music -- was recently listening to our local Christian radio station, Spirit 105.3, when an ad came on for The Bravern.

You know, Seattlites. The Bravern. The self-described "prestigious" mall created for the obscenely rich, where parking areas aren't listed by a simple Red, Green, or Blue. (Because that's so...proletarian.) Oh, no, Bravern shoppers park in Ruby, Emerald and Sapphire. Seriously.

And of course this mall advertises on a Christian station. Because hell, yeah, nothing says, "I am a follower of Christ" quite like an Adrienne Landau cropped silver fox jacket, only $6975, worn above $995 Valentino Jewelry-Bow Couture d'Orsay pumps.


Seems like a very good time to revisit our social justice haiku:

In Jesus's Time
Camels were really teeny
and needle's eyes HUGE

Friday, September 02, 2011

Quilter's Block Recovery -- my Fall Flower Flimsy

For most of this year, I've had Quilter's block. NOTHING captured my attention or tickled my fancy.

Then I saw a quilt with some flowers that looked striking but not that hard. AND I had just bought some incredibly bright 10" fabric squares that I had no idea what to do with. So my Fall Flower Flimsy was born. (Non-quilter, a "flimsy" is a quilt top that still needs to be quilted.)

The 10" fabrics weren't quite 10" (grr, although the online fabric store did replace them, so Yea!) Which left me cutting the flower blocks down to the odd size of 9 1/4" It worked, though -- no problems fitting everything together. The triangles on the flowers were sewn with the "slap on a square, sew corner-to-corner, then cut the excess" method. Bigger green ones were a 2.5" square, yellow/red centers and smaller greens were 1.6"

This left me with twelve VERY bright flowers. To make the bright fabrics play nicely together, I added the green and black sashings to tone things down. The black is almost all 1" strips I had already cut for Seattle Streets quilts, and the green is leftover backing I've been looking to use up. The black sashings finished to 1/2", the green to 1", the cornerstones to 2" square.

Now to figure out my NEXT project! Or else figure out how to quilt on my sewing machine to finish this one.