Sunday, January 13, 2019

Mountain Oasis painting

For January, there was only one painting we wanted to do.  Well, two, but no time for the other.  It was a fun class and I really liked the result.

The instructor painting had "M" birds, but I went with a sprinkling of stars instead. 



Done at The Brush Bar

Friday, January 4, 2019

Best New Year's Eve in several years

New Year's Eve is one of my least favorite holidays.  Of my last 6 dogs, four have been freaked out by fireworks.

And boy does my neighborhood like fireworks.  This year they started around 7 and went to 12:15.  Last year they started at 5:30 and went to 1:30.

Yeah, I don't get much sleep on January 1st.

Currently I have two dogs.  Angel is the Belgian Malinois/Great Dane mix and is almost 12.  Bogie is a Great Dane and is 7 1/2.

In year's past, I've had to hold Angel (all 100 pounds of her) and reach to pet Bogie.

For some reason, in 2018 Angel decided fireworks no longer bothered her.  Yay!  Going deaf?  I don't think so.  She can still hear the pantry door open from outside.

I don't know which of the several things I did helped Bogie this year, but he did better than he has since I got him.

1. I increased his evening dose of CBD oil in the hopes it would calm his anxiety.

2. I kept the door closed to keep him from running outside to bark.

3. I put a series of movies on with the volume louder than usual.

4. I sat on the floor with him most of the night, petting him, and holding him tight when he tried to jump up in response to an extra loud boom.

Mostly I think the solution was 1 and 4. 

There were definitely fireworks.  I could hear them, even over the TV.

But Bogie was a lot less stressed.  And that made me a lot less stressed.

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Christmas Cactus painting

Every year our paint place (The Brush Bar) posts at least one new Christmas themed painting.  This year, I made custom greeting cards (Shutterfly) from two of the previous years' paintings. 

This year's offering was a cheerful Christmas cactus.  Quite appropriate in a state where people actually do decorate their cactus. 

This one will definitely be next year's greeting card.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Inattentive drivers paying no attention to pedestrians


It's a scary time to be a pedestrian, even in the suburbs.

Bogie and I walk daily pre-dawn.  Our route often takes us past the driveways to a gas station and to a grocery store.

Too many times, drivers pull into, or out of, these driveways without even looking.  I've had to pull Bogie up short so he wouldn't be hit.  Or hustle to cross so we wouldn't get run over.

Yes, I know it's dark out.  But there are lights illuminating these driveways.  And Bogie is big.  And white.  Hard to miss if you are looking at all.

Do drivers not expect there to be pedestrians?  Is there an arrogance of driver versus pedestrian?  The knowledge that a car trumps a pedestrian in any encounter so why should the car pay attention?

Or are they so anxious to get to their cup of coffee or gas tank fill that they don't even bother to look?  Am I expected to hear them coming from behind me?

Another place that is risky is a parking lot.  Walmart or the grocery store, I park my car away from the entrance, usually because I have the dogs in the car. 

Drivers should expect pedestrians in a parking lot.  How else do people get from their car to the store, and vice versa? 

And especially in the *specially marked* crosswalks.  I mean, that's why they are there.

But there have been many, many times I've had to abort my progress because a moving car made no attempt to stop, or even slow, for the pedestrian in the crosswalk.

Is it rudeness?  Inattention?  Is their time more important than the rules of courtesy?

I don't know the answer.  I just know that I have to be extra-aware, because other people aren't aware at all. 

Monday, November 12, 2018

Identifying photos - please do.

I spent this weekend finally finishing up the scanning and labeling of all of my Mom's photos.  She died almost three years ago, so I can't claim to have been hurried.

The main point of scanning them was to share with various siblings and relatives.

I did the same thing when my Dad died.  And ran into the same problem. 

Who ARE these people?

For one thing, sticking photos onto albums means they may or may not be able to be removed later.  So if there was any identification written on the back, well, there's no way to tell if there is writing on the back.

But even with loose photos it's hard to figure out.  Some people can tell the difference between one infant and another, but I can't.  Which brother is this?  I don't know.  If there was a date I might be able to figure it out, but many of the photos we have, my dad developed himself.

No dates. 

And the people from my parents' generation or before?  Don't assume we're going to know who they are.  The next generation down will recognize even fewer people. 

I asked my mom once "Who is this?'.  "That's your great-grandmother."  "Well, write that on the back."  "I told you. Just remember."

Sigh.  I didn't.

It's really a shame.  There are some interesting, very old pictures in their collections.  One was a boy about 3 years old with a cigarette, which may or may not have been my dad.  One of a great-great-aunt was actually marked.  That was thrilling. 

So please, please make sure your photos are identified.  Your heirs will appreciate it.


Sunday, October 14, 2018

The defective smoke alarm

Four years ago, tired of changing 9v batteries, I bought a set of smoke detectors with sealed lithium batteries guaranteed for 10 years. At which point you have to replace the entire unit. 

Yeah. Yeah.  Seemed like a good idea at the time.

A month ago, the smoke alarm at the top of the stairs went off in the middle of the day.  Thankfully,  it was not the usual middle of the night claxon.  Still startling.  And scared the dogs.

Anyway, the other 5 weren’t shrieking, I figured the unusually high humidity was affecting it. I unwired this one and set it on the bottom shelf of the desk to look at later. 

Then didn’t.

A few days ago – in the middle of the night – it went off again.  With a sealed unit, I couldn't rip out the battery. So I threw it in the freezer.  That shut it up.

Except last night I got up to go to the bathroom and heard a weird, quiet, repetitive beeping.  I tracked it down to the freezer. 

The smoke alarm was going off IN THE FREEZER. 

I  closed the freezer door and the sound was muffled enough not to be heard in the bedroom. I went back to sleep and forgot about it.

But just a few minutes ago, I heard more subtle beeping.  Yep, it was going off again! 

I took it out to the garage and smashed it with a sledge hammer. 

Never again will I buy units with sealed batteries!

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Lego Ghostbuster Firehouse

I recently assembled Lego's Ghostbuster Firehouse.  There are 4,634 pieces partitioned into 14 different sets of packaging. The instruction comprise of 600 steps

The build was pleasingly accurate, and the interior details were impressive. But I had issues with the project. 

Why did they print the instructions on a black background?  Artistic decisions like that should be guided by usability.


Some of the steps seem unnecessarily complex.  Like doing a single 4 across four double twos instead of across one double four.  That seemed to me just an excuse to ramp up the piece count.

And maybe I'm slow, but it took me a while to figure out how to attach the ghosts to the building.  A simple picture showing the removal of the brick facing would have saved me a lot of time. 

The firehouse shared the Creative Expert technique of having each floor lift off the one below it to expose the interior.  The firehouse also has a side that opens to all three floors. However, I had a difficult time opening and closing the "arms".  Nine out of ten times one of the separating floors would detach from the arm as I opened it. And it was a little tricky to close again without scraping the bottom floor.  Perhaps, like the attached ghosts, there is an undocumented secret to opening the side without issue. 

I am very disappointed that the scale is different from the Creative Expert buildings, despite the same size mini-figures. I had hoped to use this as the fire station in my street scene tableau since the retired fire station kit is far too expensive.  

The other buildings average 4 1/2" per floor.  The firehouse is just over 5".  Besides it's longer than the others.  I know it's not unheard of for a neighborhood to have different sized buildings, but the firehouse just doesn't fit in with my street like I had hoped.

Once my sister sees it, I will probably disassemble it.