Thursday, July 5, 2018

Happy Fourth!



We recently had another time travel incident.  The calendar may say 2018, but in Lansdowne, it felt like some earlier, less contentious (but still very diverse) time.

There was a parade in the morning, which I did not attend because we had six straight days of temps in the high 90s and I could not move from under my fan . . .  on the first floor, where we've taken up residence lately because it got too hot too fast to put the AC in the bedroom window.  So Mario's on the couch in the living room, and I'm in the next room on the loveseat.  It works, for now, but guess what's happening when it cools off?

Going by the photos, the parade was standard Americana - fire engines, string bands (for you non-Philly readers, just go Google "Mummers Parade" and thank me later), kids on homemade floats, high school bands.

I honestly didn't know people still did this stuff.  

In the evening, there was a concert and fireworks down on the high school football field.  The town officially stopped fireworks a while back, but the local athletic association didn't want to let them go, so they fundraise every year, in addition to selling tickets to the actual event.. We bought tickets - though the fireworks were certainly visible outside the school field, and outside the town, it just seemed more fun to sit on the bleachers and ooh and aah with our neighbors.

I was impressed.  Small town it may be, but these fireworks were as good as any I've seen on the Ben Franklin Parkway in Philly, without being shoulder-to-shoulder with several hundred thousand sweaty, semi-drunken people.  There was even a pre-show concert, and the girl singing the national anthem at the beginning of the video can certainly hold her own.


Saturday, June 30, 2018

Looking like Revolution

But it's only the neighbors starting their July45th celebration a few days early.

Wednesday is a full-on small town parade (let's see if I can get out of the house by 9 a.m.) followed in the evening by a concert and then a fireworks display at the high school field.

I've never been big on going to see fireworks. The crowds, the annoyance of trying to get home after.  But these are about 6 blocks from our house, so I'm all in.

Monday, June 25, 2018

African Dolls

 I recently listed a new batch of African dolls in my Etsy shop.  I hadn't made any in a while, and I came across some remnants of wax print fabric while I was unpacking, and decided it was time.

I think I mentioned before that the first of these was made for a former co-worker, who had an African neighbor who took care of her granddaughter.  When the woman prepared to return home, my friend asked for a piece of her clothing and asked me to make a doll so that her granddaughter would always remember her.

They're fun to make, and I love the colors and prints of the fabrics.  I've found a few bits in thrift stores, in addition to using the leftovers from the first doll, but most of these were from remnants provided by sewing friends.


These tend to sell better online than in person, for some reason.  I sold one last fall at an outdoor event - a little girl fell in love with the doll, and was starting a spectacular meltdown when her grandfather told her she couldn't have it.  She didn't understand why, but when I looked at him, I did.

His wife looked from the doll to me to the granddaughter, and elbowed him in the ribs.  "Give her the doll," she said.  "She's growing up in a different world than we did, and there's no point in trying to stop it."

I think he would have liked to try, but the women - his wife, his granddaughter, the doll and me - won out in the end.




And though I admit I didn't like why he didn't want to buy the doll for her, I give credit where it's due.  He knew his wife was right.  That little girl is growing up in a different world, and there isn't anything he can do to stop it.



Saturday, June 23, 2018

Squirrels in the Attic

When we moved in, the house across the driveway had been empty for a while (as had ours), but while ours was maintained and improved by the elderly owner's sons, this house was headed for bank sale.  It didn't look too rough from the outside, but I spoke to the couple who did most of the renovation for the new owner/landlord, and plumbing, wiring, walls, floors all needed redoing.

Another issue the house had was squirrels.  One of the neighbors called it Squirrel Manor, and they were right.  You could see them popping in and out of vents, downspouts, under the eaves.  Wherever they wanted to.

One by one, the openings were blocked up, and the squirrels had to look for new housing.

Guess where some of them moved? 

We have an ornamental drop ceiling in the bedroom that I considered ripping out when we moved in, but it was in good condition and it was pretty, not that metal grid office drop ceiling, so we let it be.  I'm regretting that now, because while the critters apparently entered through the attic, there must be a breach in the original plaster ceiling (isn't there always, in the case of drop ceilings?), and they decided it was much more snug and comfortable in the 3" space between the plaster and the fiberglass drop.

And the sound of their little claws on that drop ceiling . . . makes me crazy.  Like, can't sleep in the bedroom underneath them crazy. 

Now I'm in the midst of dealing with animal control, wild animal removal, humane traps and homicidal fantasies.  It's amazing how your feelings about cute fuzzy animals change when they invade your home. 

Animal control found a few small openings in the stucco (squirrels only need a 1.5" opening) and packed them with sharp metal mesh.  I found 2 more narrow openings in the attic crawlspace which were hidden behind the roof edge/gutter on the outside, and Mario stapled multiple layers of metal screening over them. 

But they're still up there, and obviously there has to be another exit because it's been days since we did the work in the attic, and the sounds are not the sounds of frantic-to-escape, hungry, thirsty squirrels.  It's a squirrel party, all the time.

A different company is coming out this week.  The tech is planning to remove a small section of the drop ceiling (which I no longer have any attachment to whatsoever, surprisingly), and then he'll be able to diagnose the situation better.  He said that the amount of noise we're getting at night doesn't say squirrels to him, unless they're flying squirrels.  He thinks it could just be mice, and the small space they're in is magnifying the noise.

Much as I don't like the idea of mice, I can handle mice.  They're nowhere else in the house, I've seen no droppings or mess, no food packets have been ripped into in the cabinets, and the cats aren't bothered in the least.  Mice can be trapped in a variety of ways, plus they don't like peppermint oil, which I have in abundance from the time we had mice in the mudroom off the old house.

Either way, mice or squirrels or Rocky the Flying Squirrel, I will prevail. 

I just won't sleep much in the meantime.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Garden Progress

We've had a LOT of rain in the last month. A lot.  Like the amounts of rain where the ground squelches like a sponge for the next day kind of rain.

But it's been good for the garden, and because I haven't gotten the rain barrel set up yet - because I haven't gotten the stupid shrub stump out of the back yard yet - it's enabled me to put aside a good bit of water for the times when it hasn't rained.

For your consideration, two photos of the tomato beds:

May 6 - a day after planting

June 19 - after much rain and enough sun
 Also, the blueberries are coming along pretty well.  The progress varies - for some reason, the bush in the back of the yard (pictured) is growing like crazy, and as they progress toward the house, their growth is less. 

Nature is weird.  They'll catch up.

But the berries are turning blue, and I got spikes and netting in the ground last weekend so that the berries are protected from the birds and squirrels as they're ripening.  And the birds and squirrels are interested. 

I have issues with squirrels.  More on that soon. 

Happy summer!

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Houndstooth Hound


When I'm doing craft shows, people ask where I get my materials.  Occasionally I've joked that I take things off my friends' backs.

This time it's almost true.

About a month ago, my co-worker, Sylvia, wore this red-and-black houndstooth print top to the office, and as soon as I saw it, I wanted to make dogs from it.  She, understandably, didn't understand.  

"But I like it." 

"But I'm wearing it."

"You don't really need it.  You have a million tops.  When was the last time you wore this one?"
"I wear it about once a year.  But I like it."

"I'll make one for your niece, if you give me the top."

She made the mistake of mentioning it in front of her niece, and as you can see, I got the top.  It was large; the pattern pieces were small.  These are for small kids - no eyes or bits they can tear off, and they sell pretty well.  

Her niece was happy, too.  

I can't wait to see what Sylvia wears next week.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Mama, Bear

One of the things I miss most about West Philly is our favorite brunch spot, Renata's Kitchen.

It used to be our favorite neighborhood restaurant, period, but they shortened their hours a year or so ago and became all brunch, all the time (or at least until 5 p.m.).  So I gave up paella, but despite what Anthony Bourdain had to say about brunch - and if you don't know, look it up - it's still one of my favorite ways to start out a weekend.

The owners are a really sweet couple, and they've sent more than their share of extra goodies our way over the years, so when they recently had a baby boy, I got the dad to hand over one of his baby blanketd.

Fast forward to last week, when mom, dad and baby were all at the restaurant, and I got to hand off the bear.

As you can see, the baby is ridiculously cute, and amazingly placid.  Mom is glowing.  Maybe this is what happens when you luck out and get a baby who sleeps through the night at the age of 2 months.  (But then again, she runs front-of-house at a restaurant.  She can get cooperation with an eyebrow, so maybe he's a fast learner?)

I was happy to make this one - they're such a nice couple, and I wanted to say congratulations and thank you for years of good food and friendship.