Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Birthday Turnip

I got a nice birthday present from my garden this year---a big, fat, round, turnip! I've never grown one this pretty in all my life.

If you don't like turnips that's probably because you've never had them picked fresh from the garden, peeled, cubed, and steamed, then served with with salt, pepper, and butter. It was a treat.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Why Didn't I Do This Before?

In getting ready for a possible move this summer, I'm painting and repairing my house, doing things I've meant to do for years but never got around to. Why didn't I do this earlier so that I could enjoy my home the way I wanted it to be?

I'll tell you why:

  1. I had a toddler in the house. My friend Crystine says she painted her house with a toddler around, but she can also read a book while crocheting (she turns the pages with her toes). I'm not up for that kind of frustration. I could just see little footprints in paint all over my carpet. I didn't want to go there.
  2. I would have had to do it all over anyways. Last year I painted one wall. One wall. And it already needs to be repainted due to popped nails and general kid damage.
  3. I was writing books! Who has time for home improvement when in the middle of a major writing project?
So, there are my excuses. I'll take some pictures and post them when it's all done.

Friday, April 16, 2010

The Soundboard and Box Back

The soundboard is one of the most important, and definitely the most expensive, part of the harp.  Every moment, the strings threaten to rip the harp apart with a thousand pounds of tension, and only the soundboard stands in the way. Think about that while you're working!

Here are your templates for cutting both the soundboard and the box back, once again on a one-inch grid. Each piece is a long isosceles trapezoid, 29 inches high with base 11 1/4 and top 2 3/4 inches across. The back of the box is the one with the holes in it.

Cut the soundboard with the grain running across the short direction. For the back of the box it doesn't matter which way the grain is running.

Use a jig saw or a coping saw to cut out the holes in the back of the box, then sand all the edges so that they're smooth.  This is where I'm glad I have a Dremel.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Its All In Your Head

I pulled out my debit card to pay the dishwasher repair man. "I was just thinking about how unreal money is these days. I never see it. The numbers go to my bank..."

"And then they disappear! Magically." The dishwasher repair man laughed.

"I know. The value of money exists only by common consent of society. If we all decided it was worth one hundred times less than it is now... does that make you nervous?"

The question hung in the air as he swiped my card on his portable debit card reader, then typed on the keyboard of  his portable computer. At last he glanced at me, blue eyes serious. "Yes."

"Of course then my mortgage would seem smaller." I shrugged.

The corners of his white mustache twitched up. "I guess."

After signing my name for the transfer of my imaginary money, I showed the dishwasher repair man to the front door. "So how long are these dishwasher motors supposed to last? I mean, this is my third dishwasher in six years in this house."

"Oh, the life expectancy for this kind of dishwasher is ten to twelve years."

AH HA HA HA HA HA HA!!!! Who came up with that imaginary number?

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Attack of the Killer Bees

Today at my monthly writer's group luncheon I was telling the story of my next novel to one of my writing buddies. Just as I was getting to the big reveal, she leaned past me and stared out the front window. "Oh my gosh, what are all those bugs doing in your yard?"

I turned to see a black cloud of fat, flying insects whirling around over the rocks and wildflowers. We went to the window and watched them settle into my tree, a dark, bulging, crawling mass of tiny bodies. Black and gold striped bodies. Bees.

Now that the bees had crashed the party, no one else wanted to stay. Once the uninvited guests settled in, my friend sneaked past them to get to her car and I ran for the phone. My kids would be coming home from school in less than an hour, and I didn't want those bees there when they arrived.

The first pest control number I dialed gave me an answering machine. The second one was busy. The third one said they'd send someone right over. Not long afterward, my four-year-old son and I sat by the front window, watching as the pest control man donned his bee suit---white coveralls, heavy blue gloves, and a safari hat draped with mesh. Then the pest control man started up his sprayer and bravely marched into the tree.

I thought the bees would go nuts, but they mostly just sat there as he soaked them. When they began to fall off the tree in clumps I felt a little sad. Poor bees. Too bad we couldn't keep them and get free honey.

Then I imagined that swirling swarm attacking one of my children with their poisoned stingers.

Die bees, die.

"Those were the nasty kind," the pest control man said after he was done and a pile of mostly dead bees lay twitching at the base of my tree. "They wanted a piece of me."

I watched as he wrote up my bill. "So is there some dangerous pesticide out there? How long should I wait before going out by the tree?"

"I just used soap and water," he said. "Nothing dangerous."

My kind of pest control. I guess I could have done that myself, except that I don't have a bee suit. Or a powered spray pump. Still, $125 to give my tree a soap shower...

That stings.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Top Ten Reasons "How to Train Your Dragon" is better than "Star Wars"

SPOILER WARNING - please go see the movie before you read this list!
  1. Hiccup is a better actor than Mark Hamill.
  2. Gobber is missing two limbs. Obi-Wan just lost his head.
  3. Princess Leia may be a good shot with the blaster, but Astrid can throw a Viking battle-axe.
  4. Light-sabers may glow and make cool noises, but dragons fly, breathe fire, and come rescue you when you're in trouble.
  5. The people who wrote "How to Train Your Dragon" had a sense of humor.
  6. Luke's prosthetic hand is just as good as his old one. There's no cost. Hiccup, on the other hand... or should I say foot...
  7. Stoic the Vast has a village to feed and protect. Darth Vader just struts around and strangles people when he gets mad.
  8. Hiccup has friends his own age.
  9. It is much more fun to see someone learning how to tame a dragon than learning how to move boring rocks with their mind.
  10. If the clones have a war with the droids, does it really matter if anyone gets hurt? I cared about the Vikings---they were people! And as Toothless and Hiccup become friends, the dragons started to feel like people too. I CARED!