Thursday, July 14, 2016

Empty Nest

This morning as I was sitting out on the deck (in my recently re-located swinging hammock chair), I heard a commotion going on behind me.  The usual early morning commotion is caused by hummingbirds and their refusal to share a feeder. (Are hummingbird-feeder manufacturers aware of this trait? And if so, why do they insist on putting 3 or 4 feeding flowers on a device that will in fact only be utilized by one hummer at at time?) This morning's commotion, however, was not hummingbirds but blue birds.

We have a nesting box in our yard that has been occupied every summer for 18 years.  It came about as the result of a blue bird nest continually being constructed in our drier vent. At the time, we lived in a mobile home on the property. The vent for the drier ran under the house and ended at the exterior wall. I was afraid the heat would fry the baby birds that would eventually abide there, not to mention being a fire hazard. I removed several nest start-ups, but those birds were determined to build there.  I finally settled on a substitution plan. El was a newborn and I noticed that formula cans were roughly the same diameter as the drier vent.  I covered the vent with mesh and attached an empty formula can directly under the opening. The blue birds liked it just as well and proceeded to build anew.  The girls were able to watch several broods of baby blue birds that summer. Early the next spring, we bought a blue bird nesting box and mounted it on a post in the yard. It's been inhabited every year since then.

Back to this morning:  The commotion was lots of agitated twittering at the box.  I spun my chair around to see what was happening. The dark blue dad was on a nearby antennae guy wire. The less-blue mom was on the front of the box. It looked like she was blocking the entrance. An even lesser-blue fledgling was on top of the box. And all of them were making blue bird noises, all at the same time.  I imagine it was the blue bird equivalent to a T-ball game: lots of encouraging yells from the parents and lots of excitement and/or whining from the kid being forced out of his comfort zone.

The young one gradually got used to his wings and fluttered up to the top of the post and then over to the guy wire. Once he flew back to the opening in the box and looked in, but he didn't try to go back inside. (I did take a picture, but the distance was too great to be able to see much. I didn't want to get any closer and risk interrupting the process.)

By the time I had to leave, he had flown over to the big oak tree. He was sitting on the end of a branch with his mom nearby.

And the commotion had ceased.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Funny Dreams

Have you ever wondered what triggers dreams?
I woke up from a dream this morning with a ridiculous phrase running through my head:

THE HULL HALL SONIC EGG OF DESTRUCTION!

It's been rolling around in my mind all day.  And it wasn't just the phrase itself: it was who said it. Those ludicrous words were spoken in the dream by my middle daughter, but not as she is today. It was this version of her:

I think the dream was a result of the game we played after supper last night. It's called Munchkins. In order to play we had to watch several youtube videos because, while entertaining, the instructions were not very helpful at first. After playing the game twice (both games won by the 21 year old version of the above redhead), the instructions did make a few things clearer. 

There are dwarves and elves and warriors and thieves. There are monsters and curses and treasure. And the names are just plain silly: Squidzilla and the Gelatinous Octahedron are 2 of the monsters. The Cheese Grater of Peace and the Potion of Idiotic Bravery are names of weapons.

I'm guessing the Hull Hall Sonic Egg of Destruction will be in a later edition. 

Saturday, December 26, 2015

#HarrisDCemberVaycay

Our youngest daughter graduated high school in May of this year, but never had time in her schedule for a senior trip.  We decided that Christmas vacation from college would be the perfect time to go.  After much debate (and a final word from Mr. H), Washington D.C. was named as the destination.

Mr. H and I had been there back before we had any children, but that was about 30 years ago.  Some things haven't changed at all, others have changed significantly!


The discussion happening here is not as heated as it appears.

Mr. H and the 2 youngest H girls.

The girls are almost recreating a picture taken by my brother about 30 years ago.

I think this is one of the coolest monuments I've ever seen.  We approached it from the street, which is the back side.  You can't see the face of the center section until you walk between the 2 rear pieces and past the cut out piece. 
OUT OF THE MOUNTAIN OF DESPAIR
A STONE OF HOPE

She's posing with that other Eleanor.

This is where we got lunch that first day.  The street was lined with food trucks serving just about every kind of food imaginable.

We had some time to spare before we had to be somewhere that evening.  A Starbucks with some outside tables was the perfect spot to sit and watch.  D.C. is just about as different from home as can be imagined! All those lights and all those people!

We had tickets for the Kennedy Center to see "Matilda the Musical" that night.  Before it started we went to a free concert called "Merry TubaChristmas" on the Millennium Stage of the Concert Hall. 

I have never seen this many tubas and euphoniums (or should that be euphonia?) all in one place. The stage as well as the box and 1st and 2nd tier levels on both sides were full of musicians of all ages and skill levels.  They played carols arranged specifically for this instrumentation. It was great fun.

(Photos were NOT allowed in the Opera House where we saw Matilda the Musical!)

The following day, which was wet and much colder, we spent indoors as much as possible.  We took a tour of the Capital, which is currently being renovated.

Here's Mr. H standing by the statue from his state of birth. There are 2 statues from each state in various places throughout the Capital.

You can see the plastic surrounding the Apotheosis of Washington at the eye of the Rotunda. Floor level of the Rotunda was filled with scaffolding, so it was difficult to see it.

The next 2 pictures are of the Library of Congress. I believe this has got to be one of the most beautiful buildings I have ever been inside.



The following day had much better weather, but it was just as cold. We went out to Mount Vernon for a tour of George Washington's home. "National Treasure: Book of Secrets" has had an impact on the venue.  We took the National Treasure tour, which allowed us to go into the basement. The tour also took us down to the riverfront to see the door to the Icehouse tunnel. Walking a bit farther, we could see the front of the house itself way up on the hill


We did miles of walking while we were in the city. 
We did WAY more driving to get to and from D.C.

I'm just glad that my everyday commute doesn't look like this:


Wednesday, December 23, 2015

My First Sweater

I've been knitting for a few years now.
I started with scarves and blankets, moved on to hats













and finally got up the courage to try socks.




I figure now it's time to try my hand at a sweater.

I found a free Ravelry pattern called Purple Sweater by Jennifer Stark. She calls for a bulkier yarn than I wanted to use, so I'm making some adjustments.

I'm using a worsted weight yarn so it will take more stitches per inch.  I'm thinking if I knit a larger size with the smaller yarn, I'm going to be close. So I am knitting using the XL pattern numbers and I'll see how close it comes to the medium that I wear.

I started it while we were on our vacation. (Driving to Washington, D.C. gives the passengers PLENTY of time to keep their hands occupied!) I've completed about 40 rows so far.


We'll see how it goes.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Running in the Dark

I run.
Not very fast, but I'm consistent.

I try to do at least 3 miles, 3 times a week.  Those 3 miles consume about 45 minutes from the time I go out the door until the time I get back inside. The best time for me to fit those 45 minutes into my day is in the morning.  And since I need to leave home at 7:30 to be at work by 8, this time of year those 45 minutes are when it's still dark outside. 

This morning, in addition to the dark, there was incredibly thick fog. Not patches of fog, but a huge wet blanket that stretched for miles and miles.

I'm accustomed to running in the dark.  I have a headlamp for seeing ahead and a flashing red light for being seen from behind.  I wear a reflective vest that seems to light up when hit by headlights. But this morning's fog was a challenge.  The pool of light in front of me was only about 5 feet out. If I lifted my head to aim the light straight ahead, all I got was lots of white reflection off the fog and none of the road at all.

About 3/4 of a mile from my house is a street light.  Now, technically, it's not a "street" light.  We call them booger lights.  Booger lights are what rural folks have to light up their property since there are no street lights to light up county roads. I could see this light up ahead in the distance, but it didn't really light up anything other than the fog. After I passed that light, I was truly running in the dark.

I know that shortly after the 1.5 mile point of my usual run there is a white fence marking a pasture to my left. When I spotted that fence, I knew exactly where I was. Until then, I had been unsure for about half a mile.  I ran with that fence in my peripheral vision until I came to the end of it.  I thought about running a bit farther, but the idea of running in total darkness made me feel dizzy, so I turned around at the end of the fence. 

That fence is a boundary in my life.  Its main purpose is to keep the cows that live in the pasture from getting out.  Perhaps it may be to keep four-wheelers from getting in.  But for me, that fence tells me where I am. I had been unsure of my place until I saw the boundary. 

On weekends I run in the daylight. I've noticed that my pace is usually quicker when there's light, but I'm not as relaxed as when I run in the dark.  I think maybe it's because in the daylight, I can see how far I still have to go. When I'm running in the dark, I can just see the next few steps. Those are the only steps I have to worry about.  When I can see a mile or so down the road, I can see how steep the hill is that I have to climb.

There are people that want God to show them the whole big picture of what lies ahead of them. They want to see far down the road.  I'm thinking that God sometimes just reveals the next few steps because if we could see the whole journey, we might never take the first step. And the boundaries He sets for us might not be to keep us in or out, but just to let us know where we are.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Baby Cowboy Hat

This time the request was for baby stuff.
I found pattern a pattern for the chaps and I thought I'd found one for the hat, as well.
Boy, was I wrong!
I've crocheted hats before. They are mostly a formula.
You start with a flat circle then crochet evenly around the sides. If you want a brim, you do some increases. The pattern I found was increase row, then even row, increase row, then even row...
I know sometimes it's hard to see where a pattern is going, but this one looked like a lumpy placemat or road kill!
I frogged it.
I decided to come up with my own pattern.
After 4 tries, I think I've come up with a winner:



I've created a Google Drive document with the pattern you can print. Here's the link.

Here's the pattern:

Worsted weight yarn
size H crochet hook

gauge:  12 stitches and 12 rows = 4 inches in sc

This hat is worked from the top of the crown out to the brim.

  1. Chain 7, sc into the 2nd chain from the hook, sc into the next 4 ch, working down the opposite side of the chain, sc into the back of the next 6 ch, join with a sl st.  {there are NOT the usual multiple stitches in the ends to round them out.}  [12]
  2. ch 1, 2sc each st, join with a sl st. [24]
  3. ch1,sc in next st, 2 sc in next st, sc in next 8 st, 2 sc in next 3 st, sc in next 8 st, 2 sc in next 2 st,  join with a sl st. [29]
  4. ch1, sc in each st around, join with a sl st. [29]  {no increases on this row, it will help you to make the dent in the top of the hat.}
  5. ch 1, 2sc in next 5 st, sc in the next 4 st, 2 sc in the next 10 st, sc in next 4 st, 2 sc in next 6 st,  join with a sl st. [50]
  6. ch 1, sc in each st around, join with a sl st. [50]
7-15.  repeat row 6 [50]
  1. ch 1, working in back loops only, sc in each st around [50]
  2. ch 1, sc in next 3 st, 2 sc in each of the next 20 st, 1 sc in the next 6 st, 2 sc in each of the next 20 st, 1 sc in the last 3 st. [88] {the six stitches at the front and back that are not increased will keep those areas from rolling up as the brim is extended.} Note: if your joining seam tends to wander diagonally rather than be straight, adjust the number of increase stitches so that the 6 non increase stitches are centered at the front and back of the hat.
18 - 21. ch 1, sc in each st around, join with a sl st. I like to finish off with an invisible join. You can find a demonstration here. https://youtu.be/bsHggQGFq3A  Finish off and weave in ends at brim and inside top of hat.

If you want a hat band, measure around the base of the brim. With a contrasting color of yarn, make a chain a few inches longer than that measurement.  Slip stitch or single crochet into each chain and finish off.  Attach to hat.

Crease the top and pinch the front to shape the crown.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The Abomination


Quite often, friends will send me a picture of something knitted or crocheted that they've found on Pinterest. Then they ask if I can make it for them. Usually I can round up a pattern that is pretty close and everyone's happy.

Not too long ago I received these pictures:


My friend wanted a set like this for her granddaughter, who will be born this spring. 

Now, this presents me with a moral dilemma.  I am and always will be a Mississippi State Bulldog fan.  My favorite teams are MS State and whoever is playing Alabama!  It's a good thing that little crocheted elephants are cute. However, when Mr. H saw what I was doing, he kept asking how long that abomination was going to be in his house.  

And it took longer than I was expecting to get it done.  It seems that every pattern I could find for diaper covers was for a larger baby than newborn.   I have a little book I found in WalMart, but the result was much too big and not quite the shape I was after.

In the end, I wound up with 3 diaper covers. I had a hard time getting it small enough. Finally, on the 3rd try I succeeded in getting it small and with a nice shape.

I like the way this last one is a bit narrower in the front than in the back. And I like the 2 buttons rather than 1 in the center. This was an interpretation of a youtube video.  I took notes as I worked and have typed them out here.

After a bit of trial and error, I came up with a plan for the elephant, as well.  Those instructions are here.

Finally, I found a pattern for these cute little shoes.  I changed it a bit to make them small enough. It only took 2 rounds instead of 3 to make the sole 9 cm long. That meant I had to adjust the numbers on the top to match. The elephant was much to big to add to this little shoe, so the bow was perfect
All in all, I like the set.  And Mr. H will recover from having the abomination in his house.