Thursday, August 29, 2013

Road Trip Memories...

I am so ready for a vacation. I get this way as Fall approaches.  Something about the weather changes makes me want to travel. This year we opted to tear down the patio overhang and put up a new no money for traveling:(

So for now, I will remember the little things that made me smile on last year's road trip...

It's can do this

Old Soldiers put out to pasture

The boys of Texas

I love Taos

Sharing today withLittle by Little

Laurel. France - 2014!!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Women and their friends...

Armchair philosophers and psychologists are quick to generalize the differences between  men and women, aren't they?

"Women are more social than men."
"Men are thinkers, women are emoters."
"Men don't talk about their private lives, women spill their guts to anyone who will listen"

Though there is probably a grain of truth in all of these statements, we are more alike than we think. It may be that our real differences are in the way we communicate and relate to each other as humans. Part of that difference stems from our genetics, but most of it from our environment, our upbringing and our life experiences.

For instance, I have noticed from my own experience, that most women have more friends than their male counterparts. Is it our female nature or is it that friendship is more important to us...i.e. we "need" people or we need what they give us? Or is it simply that men just define "friendship" differently?

One of my favorite lines from Tombstone is a classic about friendship...

Doc begins coughing violently.]
Jack Johnson: Doc, you ought to be in bed. What the hell you doin' this for, anyway?
Doc Holliday: Wyatt Earp is my friend.
Jack Johnson: Hell, I've got lots of friends.
Doc Holliday: I don't.

I have many friends that I have collected over the years. Some have come in and out of my life like feathers floating in the wind, landing on me just when I needed it. Others have hung in there for all the bad stuff, bringing healing and grace to my tired and hurting soul.  Others have popped in after a long absence bringing joy in their wake and it's as if we were never separated.

Most of my friends fall into groups that like the same things I like - go figure! I have known one group of gals since Dave and I got married.  We have a bond that sharing years of life experiences (marriage, births, deaths, kids, etc.) creates. I have made new friends through my love of knitting in the past couple of years.  I have a few close friends whom I met in my working years and with whom I stay in touch, some from as far back as my Berkeley days. And I have a small group of precious friends who would give their souls to help me if I were down and out - they know everything about me - stuff I DON"T write about!! 
My kid's are my friends (when I'm not trying to "mother" them), now that they are adults. Amazingly, they still like to be around us. My daughter painted a picture for me on Mother's day..."If I didn't have you as a Mom, I'd chose you as a friend."  It melted my heart - we'll see if she still feels that way when she has to change my diapers!  

Some friends are only friends for a season. I am okay with that. There was a time when I would bemoan a lost friendship, but in my wiser old age, I think about what they brought into my life at that time - even the short flickers of friendship over the years have left indelible markers in my memory. I have learned the hard way that even the closest friendships require periodic cultivation or they whither like grapes left on the vine too long.
What I really love is that we never lose the capacity to make new friends. Life is an evolving series of circumstances and experiences and if we reach out, friendships can spring from the most ordinary aspects of our lives.  I met my old friend Rommie trying on lab coats in my "things not to do with lab animals" days...I met Peg in an apartment laundry love of sewing and writing brought Suzan into my life...I hired Kerri...I saw Gayleen in a salon window, walked in, made an appointment and now we are friends...I struck up a conversation with a neighbor which turned into an invitation to a party...I love the people who follow my blog and leave their kind words...and so on and so on, etcetera, etcetera.

And today, I will be golfing with my hubby's friends and their wives - who knows what new friendship might be lurking in the sand traps (cause that's where I'll be!!)

and so many more....

"Friendship is a single soul dwelling in two bodies" Aristotle.

Laurel. Cherish your friends. 

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Plastic Fantastic

Okay, I promise...this is the last post on my ongoing war with machines.  Actually, this is not about aging sewing machines, but plastics. Remember the scene from "The Graduate" where an old drunk friend of the family gave Benjamin the one secret to success? "Plastics". There was some truth in that revelation, as just about everything under the sun has some plastic incorporated into it today, and sewing machines are no different.

After the total breakdown of my own machine and the subsequent blowing up the FabricLady's precious old Viking, I called upon my daughter-in-law to borrow back my old Singer, just so I could get back to sewing.  I had it tuned up before I gave it to her a few years ago.  She had only trotted it out a couple of times, so it has been locked up in it's case for a while.

I didn't plug it in for several days...I didn't even unpack it. To say that I am little gun-shy of the whole sewing gig is an understatement.  So I left the old Singer on my sewing table...walking by it...staring at it...wondering if spontaneous combustion might take it down.  Yesterday I decided to go for know what they say, 'if you wanna ride, ya gotta get back on the horse.'

I unzipped the case and set it on the table. What's with the yellow plastic?? I bought a yellow machine????  

So, given my whole nightmare experiences with sewing machines, I am afraid to start her up.  Seeing her aging yellow body immediately reminded me of my last experience with old plastic, in the form of ski boots.

We used to ski all the time with our kids, but when they all left home, Dave and I stopped skiing.  After about 10 years away from the slopes. we were invited by my old boss to join he and his sons on a day trip up to Alpine Meadows.  I knew that the new parabolic skis of today would be easier to negotiate, given my 10 year hiatus.  I opted to rent skis once I got up there, but surely, I could wear my old boots...after all, they cost me $250 - they should be fine!

Upon arriving at the parking lot, I unzipped my boot bag and brought my boots out into the light. "What's with the that yellow tinge', I thought to myself, but I deftly shoved my feet into them, grabbed my gloves and hat and stepped out onto the parking lot.  As I walked along, I thought I heard a tiny crackling. Then I felt it. I looked behind me and noticed little shards of plastic were trailing behind me, until after one final step, the entire soles of my boots were left on the pavement.  We laughed and laughed. Needless to say I rented new boots that day.

Despite the fact that plastics do not break down in the environment, I can attest that not all plastics hold up when you want then to. Given my ski boot experience, I thought I'd do a  little research before I fired up the Singer.  I found some gaming nerd's 500 page dissertation on the dreaded yellowing of Nintendo game boxes. He did some research himself and found this article by another plastics nerd...

Dr. Rudolph Deanin"Unsatisfied with Nintendo's answer, I decided to dig deeper. I contacted Dr. Rudolph D. Deanin, founder of the graduate program in Plastics Engineering at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell and director of the program for over thirty years. I told him everything I know about plastic chassis discoloration in both the Super Nintendo and Macintosh computers and asked what he thought might be causing it."The plastics most commonly used to make the structural cases for electronic equipment are polypropylene, impact styrene, and ABS," replied Deanin. "These all tend to discolor and embrittle gradually when exposed to UV and/or heat. They become oxidized and develop conjugated unsaturation, which produces color. They crosslink or degrade, which causes brittleness." that explains the ski boots. So what about my old Singer, you ask? Not sure, but I need to sew, so I'm going for it.

Wish me good luck, God's Speed, Best wishes, May the Force be With Me...whatever chant or prayer you might have...I'll take anything at this point!

Laurel. And sew on, and sew on...

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Something borrowed...

The FabricLady and I are new friends, collaborators and all around fans of everything "sewing". She is a testament to the success of women in business who work hard, evidenced by the crowds of fellow seamstresses and quilters lined up every day at her downtown Berkeley store, StoneMountain and Daughter Fabrics.

Suzan is generous to a fault, so taking advantage of our fledgling friendship was the farthest thing from my mind. But when my own Viking went kaput last week, she brought her faithful "Scarlet Begonias" out of the closet for me to use while The Viking is being repaired. I drove down to pick her up on Tuesday, as I had already lost several sewing days drowning in my despair over The Viking's "issues".

Scarlet made herself at home on my sewing table...she seemed comfortable.  I installed a new Ikea light above her, plugged her in and spent the next hour and a half working with her dials and settings, testing her stitches on various fabrics, adjusting as needed. We were all getting along so swimmingly.

I did some research online to clarify her threading instructions, and learned that she was manufactured in 1983, a model 6690 Viking. Suzan verified that she bought her back in 80's for a pretty penny...women who sew do that...nothing but the best machine, the newest, the fastest, the most features, etc. I spent a boatload on my own Viking seven years ago, so I understand.

But I digress. I was just getting ready to email Suzan that Scarlet and I were getting ready to rock and roll.  I turned my back on her to head for the computer. I heard what I thought was a crackling sound...then another. Then "kerPOP!". Very loud. I whizzed around and to my horror, Scarlet was smoking from every nook and cranny of her heavy steel frame.

HOLY )(*@^)&*(@%*$_@)&!!!!!! I ran over, quickly unplugged her as she filled my sewing room with smelly, "electrical fire" smoke. And she was hot - if she had been a newer Viking, she would have melted.  I quickly snapped a photo (we bloggers never miss an opportunity) and decided she might explode, so I grabbed her and took her out to the courtyard on the cement.

As watched her steam on the steps of my courtyard, I couldn't help myself...I started to laugh...not the "ha, ha, isn't that funny" kinda laugh, but the crazy, insane, WTF kind of laugh you have when things just keep imploding on your life.

I am not totally a believer in karma, but I began to wonder if I have a Viking curse of some kind or just bad sewing "Juju" as I stared at Suzan's now completely disabled machine.  Was it something I said?  Did I not thank her enough for coming to my rescue??

Alas, I am out of business AGAIN.  I called Suzan and gave her the bad news, and in between our gales of laughter, a part of me was sad that another workhorse machine had, for all intents and purposes, died.  I don't think even Bill can fix her....but then again, she does sport a Grateful Dead sticker on her frame, and we all know that Jerry Garcia lives on. Never say die.

Today, I think I'll take a break, maybe go to an art museum, stroll in midtown, buy some beads, sip a latte. Maybe I'll pray about it. Or go play golf... At any rate, my daughter-in-law is bringing my old Viking back - I gave it to her several years ago. I wonder if I can blow that puppy up???

Dave thinks I should try hand sewing for a while.

Laurel. The revolt of the machines is alive and well here at the Hacienda.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Me, Colette and the Viking

Colette (in the other room): "Did you just say a swear word?"

Me: "You heard that?"

Colette: "Yes, I hear everything you say, Laurel. What's up?"

Me: "Your friend, the Viking, isn't working right."

The Viking silently winces.

Colette: "What's the matter with her?"

Me: "Her stitches are all bonkers."

Colette: "Is that a technical term? She isn't that old...she shouldn't be acting all weird."

The Viking moans.

Me: "That settles it...I'm out of business and she's gonna have to go to see Bill."

Bill: "It sounds like it might just be a motor, but I will have to 'triage' her and then give you an estimate.  You may want to think about getting a backup machine."

Me: "Huh? How long will you keep her?"

Bill: "Four to six weeks...have to order parts."

The Viking quits altogether, despondent that she can't make stitch No. 8. Or 5. or any number for that matter.

Colette: "And all I have to do is stand moving parts, no computers, no buttons. I am woman,. hear me roar!"

  Thank you FabricLady for breaking out your Viking for me.

Laurel.  Keeping the factory on line.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Portrait of My Mother...

Every other Wednesday I travel to see my Mom.  Between my brother and I, we make sure that she has all her grocery shopping done and whatever errands she might have to accomplish that week. She's 88 years old and sharp as a tack - we attribute her good health and stamina to the countless hours she spends "farming" her small city lot.

Today, we visited a gallery where my brother was exhibiting some of his photographs. It was a small gallery next to an old theater where I remember catching a flick or two,  but his stunning black and white landscapes of the Sutter Buttes lit up the space.

And like any mother, Mom is proud of her "baby boy".


Please enjoy Joe's artful eye on

Laurel. Coveting a new Nikon.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

"Just Photos of Stuff" Day...

Birthday stuff...

Sewing stuff...

Garden stuff...

Stained Glass stuff...

Laurel. love my stuff...
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