Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

We love Halloween in our family, and since this year we were unable to do our annual Halloweencam thing, we settled for gussying ourselves up in our zombie best and shuffling over to the school carnival. Also, jack o' lanterns!

The kid and her loving father:

We had some time to kill (hurr) before the carnival started, so we went down to the local cemetery and crept around a bit.

Afterwards we went out and shambled around in front of the high school for a while, moaning and reaching towards cars as they sped by on the highway. People's reactions ranged from shocked stares to pointing and hysterical laughter. Heck, gives them something to think about and reinforces the 'small towns can be scary' thing.

We had a great time at the carnival and even won first place for 'Scariest' in the costume contest!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Road Trips & Stark Terror On The 8th Floor

Had to make a quick trip down to southern California to see my doctor, also to grab what I could from the storage unit. On the way down I stopped at the Coso Junction rest stop to toss some pork rinds to the resident ravens, which they LOVED. They hopped around jamming as much as would fit into their beaks. Also wandering amongst them in fine 'Which Does Not Belong' style was this little guy:

He completely ignored the ravens and the people who glanced his way and then did a double take. He just dashed around grabbing bugs out of the grass, perfectly happy.

Further down the road at Kramer Junction was this poor Arco sign, twisted and thrashed by the wind.

Somewhere along the line I left this little guy, who's crazy eyeballs were a happy accident and go with the quote perfectly.

I finally got into town and checked into my hotel, where I stayed on the 8th floor. Driving for 10 hours is tiring, so I was sleeping like a dead thing when I awoke to the clock radio's alarm, I'd drawn the blackout curtains so the room was full dark as I groggily sat up and reached for the radio.

It wasn't the radio making that noise.

Only one other thing in a hotel shrieks like that. The fire alarm.

As soon as I realized what it really was, and remembered that I was on the 8th floor, all my best cuss words started flowing. It's 5AM and I was more irritated than anything at first, griping, 'Of course. Of COURSE this would happen now' as I stumbled around trying to do all the right things you are supposed to do in a fire.

Looked out the window and listened. I DID hear a fire truck siren wailing, great. But don't see any flames or smoke. OK, that side of the hotel is likely not involved, that fact filed away in my head. I went to the door and felt it--it wasn't hot and no smoke was issuing from under it. I stood behind the thing and gently cracked the door, ready to slam it shut again. Nothing except the hallway fire alarms also screaming their brains out and the strobe light flashing. The hallway is murky with something hanging in the air, which is good enough for me, I'm outta here. No one else is around. I go to the phone and press the 'emergency' button...and get a recording which says cheerfully, 'Your session has expired' whatever the Hell that means in an emergency. When you think death is threatening you, 'expired' isn't the first word you want to hear.

So I break the world record for getting dressed and cramming my few things into my overnight bag. I grab everything and go back into the hallway, which by now is quiet and there STILL aren't any people around. Either everyone else is already out or they aren't bothering to evacuate. I decide to get my tail downstairs and after looking out the two hallways windows for signs of fire below, decide to chance the elevator, which works fine.

The lobby is quiet and no one is running around on fire and screaming, so I go to the front desk and inquire as to whether there is REALLY a fire on the 8th floor.

The guys actually laughs and says casually, 'Oh no, that's just the fire alarms in room 820 and 825--the steam from the showers sets off the room alarms and then if it gets into the hall the entire floor goes off.'

Oh. Ha, ha. How perfectly droll and amusing. Someone a few doors away from my room takes a hot shower and the fire system goes batshit.

I'm not laughing, and by now the adrenaline has well and truly kicked in and I'm shaking. I ask him how often this happens and he says that he's worked there for 6 months and it happens 1-2 times each and every week. He says, 'We're working with the fire department' because by now he's caught on that I'm NOT pleased and he's seeking to placate me at this point.

Since I've already had a middle of the night, honest-to-God fire scare in my own home, complete with a house full of smoke and having to haul my unresponsive child from her bed, I'm FAR from placatable. They hadn't even sent an employee up to check and see if it was just the fire alarms crying wolf, they just assumed it was the steam causing it again. The guy tells me I can go back up and go back to sleep. Ha, ha. Noooo, I think I'm awake for the day.

Suffice to say that when I returned home I emailed the hotel chain and let them know what was going on at this particular property.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

New Models!

Spent the last week working on some new origami models; a tom turkey and a dove made out of a round paper doily. I folded these, plus some spirals, to donate to my mom's Red Hat's craft booth this weekend at the Corley Ranch pumpkin patch. Unfortunately she decided at the last minute not to go, so I'm undecided what I'll do with these--either incorporate them into my 'Found Origami' project or I'll use the doves & spirals as package toppers at Christmas.

The turkeys are pretty cute, I used papers in fall colors.

I didn't make any real changes to these, just made sure to round out the tail a bit to make them more three dimensional.

Some spirals, large and small...

Lastly the doves, which I really like. The only doillies I could find were some cheap ones that weren't very lacey, but I like these so much I'll for sure be looking for better doillies to make more. The only change I made here was to flare outward & fluff the wings & tails so the doves looked a little more 'in flight' and realistic.

These are standing on their tails for the photo but are strung and ready to hang, I think they'd look nice on a Christmas tree!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Pumpkin Patch Time!

Last weekend we went out to Corley Ranch, the local pumpkin patch. Back when I was in high school, we used to buy hay for our horses from this place, but then it was simply a residence and not the operation it is today. We spent hours there and had a great time, they had all kinds of fun stuff and everyone was very relaxed and friendly.

Not only tons of varieties of pumpkins, but weird & wonderful gourds, too. The kid's eyes popped and she kept wading into the vines and emerging with more strange gourds.

We got a ride on the horse-drawn carraige, pulled by a 32 year old fella named Chance.

Chance was a chill dude.

We told his handler that hands down, she had the best job on the farm.

The secret to making the pigs run that fast is out--Oreos!

They had a little train for the kids...

...which strangely, had a pig's face with, um...steer horns. YES, it was creepy.  I swear this thing watched me all day.

Milkweed plants were growing near the irrigation ditch and sending out seeds like mad.

On the way out we stopped at the shed that held all kinds of stuff. We came away with some kick-ass pumpkin butter and a jar of pomegranate-cranberry jelly. I offered to get J. some of the one on the right, but surprisingly he declined. We were amused by how similar they looked, and briefly toyed with the evil idea of switching labels.

OK, cue juvenile giggle:

Our haul for the day...

The photo doesn't do the biggest one justice, it's a monster. We may go back with grandma this weekend, her lady's group is going to have a craft booth there, I made some origami turkeys and spirals to donate.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Alien Life Form!

Today we decided to get the chickens a little treat, thinking they'd dig it and feeling guilty that they've been in the barn for more than a month now. So we got them a GIANT compressed block of seed and other things near and dear to a chicken's heart. We figured it would take them several days to work on it, and it'd give them some entertainment.

But at first it was NOT well received.

Minimum Safe Distance was kept at all times, and even ever-hungry Sora, the white Leghorn, was cautious. Moet the buff Frizzle Cochin and Boots the partridge Cochin, both fearless bantams, were in the vanguard and took point on Operation What The Hell IS It.

Eventually they relaxed a bit and moved in, Sora and Gloria, our two main foodotropic girls, trying an experimental peck. Phoenix the roo is getting closer, but still keeping an eye on The Thing.

Hurrah, The Thing is found to be food and therefore is wholly approved of! Peepsquire moves in to claim King of the Hill rights.

But what we expected to last at least one day was GONE in less than two hours. I blame the Brahmas, who eat like a cloud of 50,000 locusts and are the size of small horses.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Some Things Defy Explanation...

...in a rational, sane universe, anyway.

Like the tile we saw in the kitchen of the last house we toured--I've formed the hypothesis that the previous owners lost a bar bet. What else could explain not only the color of this tile, but the wooden edging, complete with little buttons to knock loose, never to be seen again? Wood edging, on a kitchen counter?

It's like they skipped off to the hardware store and chirped, "We'd like to see the tile that looks like dried vomit, please!"

It doesn't get any better up close.

Nasty. I've said it before and I'll say it again, the 70's era was a time of cultural tastelessness throughout America. Despite the kitchen tile the rest of the home is lovely and we've made an offer on it. Luckily for me I both own a hammer and know how to lay tile.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

New Models!

Did some more folding the other night, finished some Scottie dogs:

And some really goofy-looking tom turkeys.

The Scotties are easy but require precise folding. The kid took a shine to that particular model and has folded a few of her own to play with. The turkeys are also pretty easy but have one sequence that is a bit tricky and takes a bit of fussing the paper into place.

Next will be some snails and winged boxes!

High Pigeon Weirdness...

Pidge is developing some strange but amusing talents. This morning I came upon him thus:

He had made a little tunnel out of the newspaper we gave him to play with--he loves to tear it up and arrange it--and he was cooing softly. All I could see was his rear end sticking out.

When I tiptoed around and peeked, here's what I found:

He was cooing quietly at the peanut like he was telling it all his best secrets. Even when we laughed at him he just looked at us mildly and went back to his peanut-cooing.

Later on he had carefully adorned himself with newspaper shreds--notice the band around his chest and feet, too--and was proudly showing us his new look:

He's such a funny, happy, uncomplicated little soul, we love him!

Friday, October 14, 2011


More house-hunting photo treasures...this time the World's Scariest Bathroom!

This, mind you, was the master bathroom. Nice...

The turquoise toilet (and it's matching sink) was vintage 1950's and actually kinda cool--but needed a new seat, obviously. The shower and it's mold garden was also vintage and a right horror. Why the previous owners had chosen to lay nice slate tile on the floor yet LEAVE everything else is a mystery.

And I cannot explain the weird water shut-offs just outside the shower nor the odd wasted space they occupy.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

SNOW! Well, Yeah, But...Also, Nature's Caltrops!

So we had our first snowstorm of the year the other day, the kid was all excited about it for two days beforehand. Despite us telling her it wouldn't get down to our elevation, she was hopeful...

She asked if we could 'walk up to the snow' and we had to gently tell her that no, that snow was about 2000 feet higher than where we were standing, and we weren't hiking up there today. Patience, grasshopper, soon there will be PLENTY of snow to play in.

What's that creeping up onto my porch...?

We've done some house hunting in the last couple of weeks, and THESE damned things...Bullheads...are everywhere up here. The plant in the pictures was only one of many crawling it's way towards the house we were touring. Anyone with any sense HATES the damned things like nothing else. Go barefoot just once outside and you are in for a howling good time. Because they never, NEVER lie flat and harmless--they always have at least one or two points sticking up, and they are virtually uncrushable when you stomp on them. They don't do the decent thing that plants are supposed to do and rot over time, either. Like cockroaches, they never die.

A close-up of Nature's Caltrops!

What makes them extra-nasty is that they embed themselves in your shoes so that they get tracked into the house, where they then hook into the carpet, coming OFF your shoe...and later, after you shower and are padding around barefoot with bare feet tenderized by soaking in hot water....you find them.

I may start a public service of 'Bullhead Removal Via Flamethrower'. Hell, I could Tom Sawyer it up and charge people for the privilege of torching the damned things themselves.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

It's...It's a Rake, Isn't It?

I have to explain.

Now--the thing about this is, when we were kids, my dad thought it a real hoot at Christmas to gift-wrap for each of us three kids...a rake. We lived on a large ranchette in the country with lots of trees, plants, gardens and animals...

so rakes were very useful things, granted.

However, to a kid at Christmas when the number of gifts you could expect to get were quite limited anyway...the rake joke thing got old quick. But not for dad, O Ho Ho, every damned Christmas you could count on getting a new rake.

So this morning, my birthday, I woke up to a nice gift, all wrapped.

My first reaction, of course, was 'Oh, a rake...' 
My husband saw the strange, strangled look I gave it, then I burst out laughing.  Cue husband and daughter staring in concern at me like they thought I was having some kind of episode.

And I had to explain the rake thing.

It turned out NOT to be a rake but a very nice and beautiful dragonfly garden ornament made of steel. Much better than a rake.

But now that I've told them that story, I shudder to think what Christmas may hold...