...the little hummingbirds belly up to the feeders in rapid succession. I'm recognizing different markings on different birds. This little guy hangs around a lot, though, and I've been wondering if he's trying to be territorial with the feeder as he sits on a branch and looks at the feeder, looks around, and then back at the feeder again. Or maybe he's looking at me? Amazing as it is to consider, there are a couple of the birds which I think are adolescent, because they are even more impossibly tiny than the mature ones. They are all amazingly cute. I watched this guy sitting on a branch and guarding the feeder while I talked on the phone to customers Monday. He scratched his head with his right foot, and he tidied up his bill on the branch of the tree.
Lately I've been seeing at least one Ruby Throated male, too, and he's quite stunning. It's amazing how crisp and vibrant his markings are.
They are so lovely. It's a delight to see them. Their sweet, ethereal beauty has been an anodyne to the miseries of the late-summer heat. The coming of the Fall will not be an undiluted pleasure, as I will be sad for them to continue their journey to South America. But I'll look forward to them next year.
...my electric bill has. Previous bill was $350. Yup. Ouch.
The first full month with the insulation in the attic and the new windows has seen the bill fall to $298. I want to thank Matt and aepilot_jim and-- of course-- Himself for helping to make the house more comfortable and the bills ultimately more manageable. Next step will be to get someone in to put insulation under the flooring, and I think this house will be very cozy indeed from here on out.
It's nice to not sweat just sitting in one spot here, now.
Just the same, I'm looking forward to a break in this horrible heat.
Sunday, Puppy Sunday: faster than the human camera can see
I don't catch her tongue with the camera very often. Like lots of things about Praline, her petal-like tongue is actually a dainty thing. Cute little bandit girlie. She's a fierce little killer, but she is otherwise innocent and amazingly sweet.
If you work in the service industry as a contractor...
While I totally respect your individuality and your madcap joie-de-vivre, please don't go to a customer's home wearing a t-shirt like this, or any variation thereon:
Somewhere in a sad little veal-cube, a customer service rep is fielding a call from a humour-impaired customer about your stink bait shirt. I know it sounds unlikely, but it's twue. It's twue. It's all twue.
... and of all the new young singers in my lifetime, no one has embodied the same velvety soulfulness as Sarah until Amy Winehouse. She had her own style, but it was very much a nod to the great mid-twentieth century singers of jazz and blues.
Here she is in 2006 on Jools Holland singing the standard torch song "TEnderly." She was 22 at the time.
Have you heard of wrap rage or package rage? Chances are, if you are like me, you've experienced same at one point.
Once my Rebel XT was back up and running, last week I found some dear friends' photos-- mostly of their chillins on an outing-- from about a year ago. I thought I'd put these on a data stick and give that to them so they'd have that to keep for themselves. The memory stick was in a plastic bubble that was surrounded by a field of cardboard. Easy peasey, right? Just tear off the cardboard and open the little plastic oyster shell casing around the device, right?
Wrong. The carboard was plasticized and nigh unwrappable, since I was home alone with no handy gorilla to tear into it, I got out a razor-sharp blade and sliced into it, even then with great difficulty, and I considered how easily one might cut oneself in attempt to get into one of these infuriating bits of plastic.
I understand the theft-control aspect of this, but I think they go a little overboard with the packaging. It's getting so that even those little condiment packages for ketchup and packets of hair conditioner-- things that always have the "tear here" notch cut in-- lots of those are nigh impossible to get into without scissors these days.
One bit of package design I find endlessly delightful is the blister pack. You know the ones-- where you pop the little tablet through a foil-backed package with little bubble-wrap style compartments containing the goodies. If I had a web site, the buttons would be blister-pack pill dispensers-- they are so cute! Nice to think of some 20th century packaging to wash away the bitter tang of packaging gone wrong. Come to think of it, something in one of those little blister packs might help take away wrap rage altogether. ;P
Last week in Fort Worth, someone came home to find a burglar in their house.
The residents of the home had been away registering their kids for school. They returned to find a man in their house, holding one of their televisions. Two men in the family struggled with the burglar, one placing him in a choke hold until he became unresponsive, and he was taken to hospital where he was soon pronounced dead. The burglar lived on the same block as the home he robbed.
I had a home burglarized once, and it's a terrible feeling. My heart goes out to any family who goes through that, and my hat is off to any person who stops a thief dead in their tracks. The threat of the law and prison time is obviously not much of a deterrent, so I say the end justifies the means. Bryane Jackson will not break into another home.
I'm not just projecting because I've had a home burgled. I'm saying this as a free citizen of the United States of America: if more burglars met with the ultimate penalty for their actions-- having been held account red-handed by those against whom they transgressed-- there would be a ripple effect and those bent on thievery would not so casually go into that licentious practice. I think if a homeowner comes home and finds a stranger in their house, if they use a baseball bat, a screwdriver, a gun or their bare hands, if they stop that criminal on a permanent basis, they have done The Lord's Work™. I take pride in residing in a state where I believe the vast majority of the jury pool agrees with me.
With a vengeance.
So-- by all means, jack-wagons: steal at your own peril. And may you choke on your ill deeds which are an insult to all freedom-loving people.
Chuy always thinks I should go to bed earlier than I do. Praline, too, for that matter. They get seriously grumpy if I stay up late doing things around the house, making noises. Their little clocks want them to shut down about 10:00 PM. That's really saying something, considering they sleep about 80% of the day, as far as I can tell. But of course, they are perfect as they are.
We had a spectacular rain storm last Saturday night.
It was the first time in several months we got any significant rain. One good thing that could be said of this brutally dry and hot summer is that it was devoid of mosquitos. Was.
I hate skeeters. They are vile.
Driving back home Tuesday night from yoga class in town, I drove through a swarm of something. I could not tell what kind of bug it was, but it suddenly sounded like thousands of raindrops were hitting the front of my car, and it was suddenly over. I didn't think about it again until I noticed yesterday that the front of my car is plastered with mosquito carcasses. What's incredible is that I've driven to town and back several times, mostly at a speed of about 60 mph, and these little devils hold together with remarkable strength. It's fascinating and disgusting all the same time.
I bore the unthinkable prequel of Star Trek and even managed to enjoy same. I managed to giggle at the movie version of The Beverly Hillbillies, so you know I'm open minded... Charlie and the Chocolate Factory vastly excelled Willy Wonka in tone and in texture, and I applauded that effort.
We can name several actors who were never better than this moment on film. The pacing is brilliant, the costumes and sets are riveting and the music is beyond poignant for the film and subject. The cinematography is brilliant, and I can't think of anything that-- 30 years later, looks schlocky or ugly or embarrassing. I don't care that the original director is the one at the helm of the remake. It matters not to me that elements of the film were disparate from the novel on which the film is based. I just don't think it's possible to take that material and render a more evocative or compelling dystopia than that of Scott's original vision.
I'm beyond disgusted at the thought. How about we tinker around with the Mona Lisa? How about we go in and photoshop the shit out of Marilyn Monroe? Why not deconstruct the music of Mozart and fiddle around with that to make it over? I'll tell you why we don't: because we can't make it better, stronger or faster. It was already perfect.
So, naturally, I'll be trotting out to the cinema straightaway when it's released. Maybe I'll be dazzled and awed and pleased with the revision, and if I am, then I'll admit so and publicly. But I highly doubt I will. I wish damned dirty apes knew when to leave their stinking paws off stuff. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.
I haven't painted the primed corner blocks yet, but before they can go up, I needed to caulk along the edge of the ceiling where the walls meet. There are gaps of varying degrees, but some are quite significant, and I really think that's where a lot of air has circulated from outside (or TO the outside, depending on the season). I am hoping that by my birthday I'll have the cove molding up, so to that end, I have about a case of caulk laying about the place.
Wednesday night, I decided I really needed to do something-- anything-- that made me feel I moved forward with the whole task. I was in my skirt and knit top I worked in Wednesday, and I dragged a stepladder over and began caulking. I thought I'd just do one can-- one can would make me feel I'd accomplished something.
Well, I reached the end of that can and I still wanted to do more, so I opened up another can. I got a little better than half the lines done in the living room, and I'm pretty pleased with that. I killed a few skeeters, too, while I was up there. Didn't get any caulk spooge on my clothes, either. I am, however, running low on nitrile gloves. Yes, I buy those in the 100 pack, these days.
They are great, too, when you are working with messy stuff in the kitchen, too.
I'm a great admirer of fabricating found metal objects into fences, gates and such. One I've driven by many times and admired was a nearby business (I think it's a business, or a farm, but there is no sign out front) that has an arch at their gate incorporating the cast-iron side supports of a handful of White treadle sewing machines likely from the late nineteenth century.
Now that I have a decent camera to work with again, I can show them to you properly! :)
...people would gather to play and listen to and sing music. Even the less musically-gifted would tap their feet, most would clap their hands and some would sing along to the tops of their very lungs. A good time was had by all.
As much as I love electronica and the aural miracles wrought by computers, there's nothing so soul-stirring as a very organic, old-fashioned musical evening with stringed instrument(s) and voices and clapping and toe-tapping.
Jim Boggia in Japan. This video delights me. I love the sight of a room full of people all thrilled with the joy that only music can bring. The fact that this is not an arena of thousands makes it all the more heartwarming. Lovely performer and lovely audience!
Chuy has this thing he does that just pushes all my buttons. I'll be working or on my personal computer or doing anything I do, and he'll just come up and stand close and rest his chin against me, longing for scritchins, which he pretty much always gets. And why not? Life is sweeter with well-spoiled puppehs in the house. :) Don't you love the little unique rituals you fall into with each pet? It's part of what makes them special and oh so endearing.
Sweet darling. Oh, I forgot which day it is, but any day now is his 3rd birthday.
If you click on the close-up photo, you'll see what I've not seen in the dozens of time she's bellied up to the trough: what looked like a mousy little brownish gray bird actually has quite a bit of fiery green in her plumage. [click on the photos to embiggenate and see even more detail]
I'm remembering why I loved this camera so much, and I'm glad I've got these photos of the pretty girl to remind me of her in the winter months. :)
If I pegged the squeemeter before, I've spooled it a couple times on this one
PREVIEW FOR TOMORROW'S BLOG.
My little hummingbird girl is really hitting the feeder at the window by my desk. My whole work day is so much brighter just for seeing her. She seems a curious little thing, and I thought she had looked in at me a few times, but sort of dismissed this as my imagination.
Today, I was using my Canon Rebel XT to photograph her. I sat with my arms resting on a table, poised to snap. She came up and drank for a few seconds. I got about 30 photos, and near the end, she backed up, and hovered, looking directly at me. How adorable is this??? :)
It's been a long time, and I need to work on adjusting the settings, but I did get several photos that are quite lovely and clear, and I'll start putting them up tomorrow. In the mean time, here's her peekaboo moment.
I've been going fairly regularly to a yoga class on Tues/Thursday, and sporadically to a class on Sunday and/or Saturday. Thursday night, my instructor messaged me that she couldn't make it. About a month ago, or so, I bought a pair of yoga dvds, and last night seemed the proper night to crack into it. I thought I could do this with no problem and got started without considering that I have a pair of crazed furballs knocking about in the house.
At first, I stood in Mountain Pose and the pups, on the sofa, watched with great curiosity. After a progression of poses brought me to the floor in various positions, this seemed to torque puppeh madness up to a startling degree. I went about the routine and made it through without having a pup crash land into my gut while relaxed, but that may be the last time I give them the opportunity. They both leapt over my head at one point and I realized how easily a stray toenail could have snagged one of my nostrils and rearranged my face.
Next time, puppies go into the kitchen while mommy does her yoga. In spite of all that, though, I felt very relaxed afterward. :)
Below is a lovely Jack Russell Terrier named Ruby who demonstrates the Downward Facing Dog pose. Very cute! And it's a wonderful stretch-- dogs are born knowing that, apparently. :)
I was thinking what people need to do is just throng the streets and physically prevent the rioters from making mayhem - let them know how very outnumbered they truly are, and that society as a whole means to prevent their mischief. It's great that people have come together the morning after to clean up the debris, but that's not enough. I saw a bit on BBC about Sikh gentlemen standing ready in front of their temple last night.
Sikh are decent people with very respectful but strict social codes, and zero tolerance for baloney. I like what these men are doing, and I think there's a lot to learn from their example. And I'd like to see those pantywaist rioters pick a fight with them. The thought of it makes me giggle.
...when messed-up crap is going on in the world, I always know I can hop online and watch streaming BBC News for up-to-date and somewhat balanced (if occasionally a little too politcally-correct) information. I am, however, unaccustomed to the messed-up crap actually being something that is going on IN England. The riots are sickening as I hear names I know from Tube-stops or going about London, or other cities I've visited there.
I watched video on BBC of people bursting out of stores with stolen televisions and other gadgetry, convinced they are taking something back and striking out against the rich. I am struck by the profound irony that the people they are hurting most of all are the countless hundreds of hourly wage earners who worked in those burned-out buildings they've destroyed. The rich have insurance and will be relatively insulated. The rioters are teaching the small shopkeeper that they can't afford to do business in town, and there will be a diminution of the glories a relatively open marketplace affords.
In the late 90s, I was visiting a girlfriend who lived in Edwardian row house in Rochester, Kent. The first night, she told me to take my purse upstairs with me, in case someone broke in. She told me that happens- that people may break in, but we'll be okay if we don't go downstairs to the ground level where they are pillaging-- just let them take what they will on the ground level and that's sort of how it works. How screwed up is that?
I say if this degree of violence spills into the private homes of decent citizens, then those citizens should be allowed to protect themselves with firearms. Else, heaven preserve them. I shudder to think how all this will be resolved, but I sure do wish people had the ability to protect themselves properly with firearms-- these thugs would think twice about pulling these stunts if they thought they might actually be held accountable. Let's hope they're held accountable anyway, for the good of all involved.
It's about 110 or hotter every day here, so the last thing I've expected to see this summer was a hummingbird. Himself got buzzed by one of the territorial wee beasties yesterday and I quickly mixed up some syrup for a handy feeder I got last year and within a couple hours little birdie was putting the gobble to the free buffet.
I grabbed my bonnet and Himself gallantly swanned me to town to pick up some more feeders, and now he's put one up with a window hanger by my window next to my work desk. YAYS!
I love hummingbirds. Hummingbirds and butterflies are the main objective behind how I plan what I plant in my flowerbeds, so this unexpected flying jewel is bonus round. I'm hoping he stays a while, and hopefully brings friends. :)
I have observed that I have difficulty with taking small steps toward finishing a project, and since this whole house is a project, that bodes ill for progress. Actually, what it pretty much boils down to is that I'll really only get my butt in gear on it if I know I've got a gathering coming up at my Great American Hovel. That in mind, I'm trying to take more frequent-- albeit smaller-- steps to move the process forward. Last week on a lunch break I ran to Home Despot and got the corner blocks for the ceiling of the living and dining rooms. Last night I primed them, and I hope to get them painted this week and up before the weekend. I also hope to have the cove molding for both rooms purchased and started with priming/painting before this month is up. It's hard living in a construction project, isn't it?
Ah, well. It will be that much sweeter when it's done.
I was up late last night working on creative pursuits, so I slept in this morning. Pups got fed and let out earlier, but I was back in bed for a lie-in. I just got up about noon, and a few minutes after I sat at the computer, I turned around and the furballs were both sacked out on the floor. Apparently, Miss Praline was just relaxing, but they looked for all the world asleep. She suddenly bolted upright and was ready to GO!
Pup picture to follow, but in the meantime... I was thinking of that song Shannon from the 1970s. I listened to a little portable radio all the time when I was a little kid, and so there's always music on a permanent loop in my brain whenever I think of those times. It's really funny to me when I think of the way Himself doesn't have that frame of reference, since his childhood didn't have him anywhere near American pop radio. Times generally are defined by the songs and shoes of that period for me, so I think of his childhood soundtrack as the sweltering, humid cacophony of the rain forest.
Anyway, I never really knew what this song was about, and didn't know it by heart, but I do remember that it was in very heavy rotation around '76-'77, and the chorus was haunting. The internet is so great for resolving the mystery of all those little things you ever wondered about. This is why it's so easy to stay up until 3AM chasing one's tail. Written by Harry Gross, Shannon was about the death of Beach Boy Carl Wilson's beloved dog of the same name. The whole story is over here, but I thought it was interesting, and I still think it's a pretty song. Considering how devoted our pets are to us-- we're their whole world-- a tribute in song is quite fitting.
A dimensional portal that is sheer elegance in its simplicity
The Nerds goaded me to watch The Middleman, calling it a sure thing that I'd love the short-lived series. Local vid places didn't have it, and so I ordered it and it came in this week. I'm glad I bought it, because this is one I'll be watching again and again. My little pony, it's good! It's so good, in fact, that I simply must have one of these dimensional portals that spirited DubDub to a parallel negative universe where she kicked wholesale evil-twin ass. The portal was naggingly familiar to me.
You know a show is good when you finish watching an episode and go back to watch it again with the commentary of the director and actors playing over the dialogue. Turns out the role of the portal was played by an Italian bread bin by Alessi, the Gnam.
I am SO getting one of these! I don't think I'll spray paint mine metallic, though. And it'll be handy for those interdimensional bread moments wherein new life forms emerge. Now, do I want black or white opaque, or transparent blue or orange? Definitely transparent. I'm thinking of blue.
Molotov Jukebox - 6 piece combo from London featuring the vocals of Natalia Tena (Tonks from the Harry Potter films and she was also in About A Boy-- quite the fetching lass and adorable songstress). They describe their influences:
gypsy, ska, funk, dubstep, flamenco, house, electro, pop, reggae, and soul as their influences and call the music they make GypStep.
I rather marvel that more space junk isn't raining down on us. I can't believe we've got all that crap bobbing around out there. It's like it's our storage bin or something. Then again, when someone is in a state of pants-soiling hysterics (yes, I have some in the quality department at work using the euphemism PSH now), it's fun to say "...or there could be a big wad of fiery space junk ready to smoosh us to smithereens at any moment, and then none of it will matter anyway." Of course, one must choose one's moment carefully when taking a whack at the beehive of paranoia that is an unquiet mind bent on freaking out over insignificant shit.
I, of course, only ever freak out over significant shit. ;P
In this part of Texas we are in a drought which is reported to be worse than that during the Great Depression.
We are forecast to have temperatures ranging between 110 and 112 degrees F through Saturday. Stepping out of the front door feels like stepping into a hairdryer with a hot, drying wind. It's been really hard to keep plants alive, and mostly, I haven't. Even the heat-hardy salvia I planted last year is looking like it's about to give up the ghost. It should have a fairly deep root system, and I don't water daily, but I really drench it when I do water, so it should be looking better than it is. I suppose even a native perennial can't hope to thrive under the steady onslaught of hot, battering winds. And it's no small irony that this weather had people all over Texas praying that a hurricane would sling some moisture their way. Sad when people will see the disaster aspect of a hurricane as secondary to the benefits, yes?
My oak leaf hydrangea-- my prize!-- is alive, but only barely, which is more than I can say for the other hydrangea which just turned to a little crisp. Astonishingly, the Passion Vine seems to be thriving, and it's really quite lovely. I hope it comes back after the winter. I'll put down a heavy mat of mulch and hope for the best.
It's been very discouraging. I had such high hopes and the garden started off so well, but again, the hair dryer effect is simply garden death. I suppose I shouldn't have wasted the water. :( This has me re-thinking my garden entirely. I have to face the fact that now I technically live in a completely different zone.
So yesterday was August 1, and I've been thinking with much consternation about how much more of this bloody hideous summer for which to brace. The first 110 degree day was in early May, so... There's been one fairly decent rainstorm in the past 6 months. Just the one. Meanwhile, we've heard of torrential downpours elsewhere that have giant rivers bursting levees and banks, and it's seemed bitterly ironic. Feast or famine.
So, I can bear however much longer of this goes on, but one hopes to have an idea of the light at the end of the tunnel on which to hang one's hat. I know that usually there is a hint of crispness and the wind-shift that is the harbinger of Fall generally by late September, Then again, too, I remember bloody hot October marching in the band in a wool uniform, and I'm struck by the horrid thought that we could be in for 3 more months of this unrelenting heat here. Not knowing of any such thing as a reliable horoscope for the weather, I looked up the Farmer's Almanac. Its forecast for the coming two months:
September and October will be much cooler and drier than normal.
Well, cooler? I'll believe that when I see that. Drier? We're already there, pal.