Monday, April 30, 2012

Effects of global warming include...snapdragons?


We all know the dark side of global warming: drowning polar bears and island countries swallowed by rising seas. But what about closer to home?


This picture is not from last year. The plant is. And yes, it's April. Hello? This is zone 5, people! This thing should be brown twigs with some seed heads on top. And the seeds in those seed heads should be sending up tiny little sprouts in, I don't know, in a couple of weeks?

And my friend's rosemary plant that stayed outside all winter? Doin' just fine, thank you.

Don't get me wrong. I love snapdragons. One of my favorite things is watching a big ol' bumblebee try to climb inside one of them. But there's something really wrong with this. Our climate is definitely changing...and we're at least partly to blame, no matter what some people think...

Check out this picture I found on
global-warming-irony Good one, huh? It's also good that when it comes to helping our planet, there's a lot we can all do. But right now, I'm starting by finding juuuuust the right vase.

Friday, April 20, 2012

How to write Haiku—simply!

We have so many little birds in our garden. Here's one of them in the lilac tree.

I like listening to them and watching them, and even sometimes writing poems about them.

I especially like haiku because it's so quick and simple. For example:

head cocked, intent...
OK! listening time is over
ee-ep ee-ep chek chek chek chek chek chek chek chek chek

I know a lot of people wouldn't consider that proper haiku because it doesn't follow a lot of complicated and arcane rules. I don't really care.

I have The Haiku Handbook by William J. Higginson and it certainly goes over traditional forms and the background of haiku. I never even read that part of the book. I skipped straight to the simplified lesson plan. In that part, here's what it tells you to ask yourself about your haiku:

Is it brief?
Does it present one or two clear images, with no metaphors or similes?
Does the image, or do the images together, create an emotion in the reader without telling the reader what emotion to feel?

Other things the book says that I like are:

The better haiku use multiple sense imagery.
The image itself is the what. The where and the when are implied.

Some examples from the book:

walking the snow-crust
not sinking

Anita Virgil

keep out sign
but the violets keep on

John Wills

After all these lighthouses
still drawing them crooked

L.A. Davidson

Sunset dying
on the end of a rusty
beer can....

Gary Hotham

dead cat.....
open mouthed
to the pouring rain

Michael McClintock

Missing a kick
at the icebox door
It closed anyway.

Jack Kerouac

I love all of these because they are so simple and they do really evoke such a clear image and emotion.

But hey, how about you, readers? Wanna try writing a simple haiku? I'd love to see them!


Friday, April 13, 2012

Knapsack Tutorial


Two pieces of fabric, each about 15 1/2" x 24 1/2"
Pocket, approximately 8" x 8"
Cording, 2 pieces, each 72" long (About 1/4" wide — purchased or sewn from 1" fabric strips)
Two 1" Grommets

Make and attach the Pocket:
I upcycled a pocket off an old pair of shorts. You can also make a pocket. Stitch it to the front of the knapsack, centered about six inches from the bottom.

Sew the bottom and side seams:
With right sides together, stitch the bottom edge of the knapsack with a 1/2" seam allowance.

Then, on both the front and back pieces, mark the side edges 3 1/4" from the top. Fold the edge over 3/16", stopping at your mark. Press. Fold over 3/16" again. Press.
Fold down top side edges

Stitch these folds down and then, with a 1/2" seam allowance, stitch the sides of the bag, stopping about where the folds start.
Stitch sides

Make bottom pleat in bag:
Turn bag right side out. Bring the bottom of the bag in 2 1/2" to create a pleat in the bag. Pin in place.
Create pleat in bottom of bag

Add grommets:
In the bottom corners of the bag, mark the spots for the grommets by firmly pressing the front section of grommet into the fabric. (It will create a faint impression.) Use small, sharp scissors to carefully cut holes through all layers of fabric. Be careful not to let the fabric layers shift or to cut the holes too large.
Cut holes for grommet

Set the grommets in using the manufacturers instructions. (Make sure you put the front grommet in the front of the bag!) The grommets will hold the fold in place.
Grommets hold bottom fold

Make the channel for the draw cords:
Fold down the raw edge on the top of the bag 1/4". Press. Fold down again 1 1/4". Press. Stitch along the bottom fold.
Create channel at top

Put in the draw cords.
Thread the end of one cord through the channels (Using a safety pin helps guide the end through). Go all the way around the back—both back and front—and come out the same side you started. With the second cord, start on the opposite side of the bag. This creates opposing cords that draw the bag together easily when you pull on them.
Thread cording through

Tie the cords to the grommets:
Thread the loose ends of the cord through the grommets and tie.
Tie cords to grommet

A new knapsack!
Your knapsack is done. Fill it with stuff and enjoy!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Good times


When my dad died, my mom asked me if there was anything I wanted of his. I wandered around their apartment, looking at things. Yes, it would be nice to have some little memento, but what? Everything just seemed like empty objects, like I would get it home and it would simply add to the clutter.

But this weekend, as I slid a pan of banana bread batter into the over, I realized I already have something to remember him by: this 1950's darkroom timer.

My dad and I started developing photos together when I was in high school. He and my mom had done it quite a bit, years earlier. So, he had all the equipment and he taught me how to do it.

Our photography, and therefore our printmaking, covered a range of subjects. For example, we had quite a few pets, who were always up for having their pictures taken. Or I sometimes went around town and staged wacky photo shoots with my friends. And there was always the option of choosing from the boxes and boxes of negatives taken before I was born. Some of these had never been printed, none of them seemed to be organized, so just rooting through the collection was good fun. Printing them was an added bonus.

These are good memories—my dad and I puttering around together, making pictures down in the basement.

But when my parents moved several years ago, we sold or gave away the darkroom equipment. It had been ages since we'd used it and no one seemed interested in developing photos anymore.

I kept the timer though. I'd always liked how much character it had. Besides, it was red, just the right color for my cute vintage kitchen.

Now it helps me with a new hobby. My dad laughed the first time he saw it in my kitchen. I suppose it seemed out of place to him. But I think it's right at home, marking time as I make cookies and cakes. No, it's not the same but it reminds me of having fun with my dad. I guess it's just a different kind of sweet.

Wren with timer