Author Archives: releaf1954

About releaf1954

I am a mother, a grandmother, a tie-dye artist, a singer and a yodeler. I started this blog because I dreamed of doing other creative things, such as painting, doll making and art quilting. I decided to let my inner children out to play, because they were getting really frustrated with me for having all kinds of glitter, glue, fabric, beads, paint, canvases,yarn and embroidery floss in the house and never doing anything with them. They wanted to actually make stuff. I need their innocence and enthusiasm, so I said, "Yes" and started this blog to document the process and keep myself motivated. They said, "It's about time."

Words

I’m still playing Pokemon Go, but the truth is, I spend a lot more time playing Words With Friends. I am in the middle of thirty-nine games with three different people and I still have to do solo play just to keep going. I’m pretty sure my human opponents are tired of the speed with which I respond. I’m always hoping they will come right back, but they rarely do.

Solo play responds in two minutes and that still seems a bit slow. It’s artificial intelligence; it has its answer within seconds. It’s just patronizing me. I know it’s patronizing me because it plays all kinds of exotic words I’ve never heard of, but it never, ever wins.
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Perborate? Exordia? Teloi? All three of those words are underlined in red on my netbook as I’m writing this, but Words With Friends knows them. It can’t manage to win with them, but it knows them. It’s trying to build my vocabulary without injuring my ego.

I prefer real people, pulling things out of their own brains without using a nearly infinite internet dictionary. Oh, I know there are cheat programs for games like this, but I don’t use them and I prefer to believe my opponents don’t use them, either. It’s not about winning, It’s about playing with seven letters and searching my vocabulary for ways to put them together.

Since I sat down to write this blog post, two of my human opponents have actually taken their turns. Woo hoo! Now I get to have some real fun.

Weather and Pokemon Go

I am looking out my window and watching rain come down in the midst of a bright, sunlit afternoon. The sun is bouncing off the metal roof across the street and it’s so bright it’s making me squint, but between that roof and me, steady rain is falling. That’s the weather report from blog day in Florida.
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Now for the Pokemon Go report. Yes, I am playing. If you read last week’s post, that will come as no surprise. My daughter is the one who put it on my phone, but I didn’t protest too loudly. She downloaded it for me Friday afternoon, but she didn’t have time to stay and help me learn how to play it, beyond the most basic instructions for flipping Pokestops and capturing Pokemon with Pokeballs.

The next morning, I got up early to go to the local flea market. I was sitting in my car, waiting for the flea market to open, when a Pikachu spawned nearby. I didn’t have a Pikachu and I wanted one. I felt a bit silly, but I got out of my car to try and track down that Pikachu. As far as I could tell, it was right in the middle of the first flea market building, but I couldn’t get my game to let me capture it. I couldn’t get my game to do anything and I couldn’t message my daughter about it because it was before eight o’clock in the morning. She would not take kindly to being messaged about a Pikachu that early in the day. I had to let that Pikachu get away.

I did ask her about it later in the morning and she taught me how to force quit the game and re-load it. That’s what must be done when it freezes up and won’t do anything. Good to know.

She also told me we should check out a Pikachu nest in a local park. I thought that sounded like fun, so I picked her up and we headed down there. Shotgun is a crucial position when both driver and passenger are playing Pokemon Go. Of course, you can’t drive and play at the same time, so the person in the passenger seat has to balance two devices and make sure no Pokestops are missed along the way. These must be tapped and spun so that Pokeballs and other items can be collected. Timing is critical if you are trying to do this from a moving vehicle and my daughter has developed excellent timing.

The Pikachu hunt turned out to be a bust. There had been an update and the Pikachu nest was gone. We had fun catching other things and chatting with other players, which is the coolest thing about this game. It gets introverted nerds (yes, I am one of those) out of their houses and into situations where it feels normal to socialize with dozens – or even hundreds – of other players.

It also gets us to exercise, as we see things on our radar and walk all over a park or parking lot trying to find them. It reminds me of being at the beach, picking up shells. We just keep walking and walking, without realizing how far we’re going, because we’re finding cool things and we want to find more.

The biggest thing we found today was a Magmar.
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The goofiest may have been the Psyduck. My daughter had dropped a lure on a Pokestop, which draws more Pokemon to that stop, so we got a lot of those. One of them appeared to spawn in my hand.
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Yes, I weakened, and now I’m playing Pokemon Go like most of the rest of the world. It may be a little silly, but it sure beats watching politics on TV all day.

Weather and Whatnot

Okay, it’s blog time again and I want to report from my real life and my real heart, but there’s not a whole lot of reportable stuff going on right now. I got back from the North Carolina trip and got caught up on chores. Nobody wants to read about my bill-paying and grocery-shopping. The time I don’t spend on chores I spend watching political things on television, and I’m absolutely not going to blog about that. This is not a political blog. Just reading the ones I read and seeing the vitriol in the comments makes me question my faith in humanity.

I don’t want to lose all faith in humanity. I know the vicious people are a small minority, but they’re a loud minority and they make me sad, so I won’t be opening up my blog to that sort of virulent discussion. Nor will I waste my time preaching to the choir of my regular followers. You know where I stand.

If I want to be topical and I don’t want to be political, that leaves the weather and Pokemon Go. The weather is hot and I’m not playing Pokemon Go. My daughter wants me to play Pokemon Go, but, so far, I have resisted the temptation. I may be weakening.

She does seem to be having a good time. Today, she caught a Pikachu with more than three hundred CP. “Is that good?” I asked. Apparently, that is good. Even though Pikachu is the only Pokemon almost everyone has heard of, it’s not particularly common in the game. When you do find one, it doesn’t usually have much CP, and three hundred is a lot (at least for a Pikachu – I’m still a little fuzzy on the details). If you’re like me, you hear something like CP and you want to know what the letters stand for, so (now that I’ve asked my daughter) I will tell you. It’s Combat Power. That sounds intriguing and I want to know more.

Yes, I may be weakening.

Lovely Lilies

I am back in flat Florida, just in time for my weekly blog post. It’s pretty hot here. Some people thought it was hot in North Carolina, but those people were not from Florida. If you can sleep at night without air conditioning, it’s not hot. If you’re uncomfortable standing in full sun but comfortable in the shade, it’s not hot. If you can enjoy sitting on a porch swing at two o’clock in the afternoon while drinking a cup of coffee, it’s not hot.

Here, it’s hot. Still, it’s nice to be home (home, you should know, has air conditioning). After camping for nearly two weeks, it’s nice to be sleeping in a real house. It’s nice to wake up in the morning and plug in an electric kettle to heat water for coffee, instead of pretending to be asleep until my husband gets up and puts a kettle of water to heat on the propane stove. I know how to use a propane stove; I just prefer not to.

It’s nice to be sleeping in a king size bed instead of a four-foot wide teardrop trailer. It’s nice to be able to sprawl without bumping my head or my elbow or my sleeping (at least until I accidentally jab him while trying to adjust my position) husband. It’s nice that modern plumbing is just a few steps away, under the same roof. I won’t go into the “instead of” here. It’s complicated.

Yes, I am glad to be home. I have to admit, though, that I miss my sister and brother-in-law, who are still in North Carolina, and I miss my Turk’s Cap Lilies. We didn’t know they were Turk’s Cap Lilies when we first spied the tall plants on our land. They were striking because of the whorled leaves and the many thin buds at the top, so my husband googled them. He told me what they were and then we waited for them to start opening up.

The two plants just happened to be the first thing I saw each morning as I looked out the window of the teardrop trailer. The blossoms opened one after another until there were more than a dozen of them. The last one opened up the morning we had to hitch up the trailer and head home.
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I was glad we didn’t miss it.

Pictures of Asheville

I am trying to blog from my phone and I haven’t tried that before, so this could be a bumpy ride. Wednesday is my usual blog day but I spent Wednesday in Asheville,  North Carolina. I planned to write a blog post when I got back to my campsite in the evening, but it turned out I couldn’t get WordPress to load without wifi. Now I’m in my sister’s cottage, borrowing her wifi (thank you, Lucinda!) so I will give it another try.

Asheville is often called the Paris of the South because of its commitment to the arts and its acceptance of all things quirky. The first interesting thing that caught my eye was this bucket list board on the edge of a construction site in the middle of town. Chalk is provided.

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My husband and I browsed our favorite independent bookstore,  Malaprops, where I found a new novel, and then started trying to decide where to go for coffee. This is a tough decision in Asheville, where there’s a charming coffee shop on every corner, but we finally decided to go to City Bakery, where the sweet treats are as irresistible as the coffee.

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Thus fortified, we ventured back out into the streets, where art is everywhere. My husband had a specific goal in mind for an afternoon beer, but spied a new place on the way and decided to try it. His beer was hoppy; mine was root.

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After that stop, we did some more window shopping on our way to his original goal, the Funkatorium. This is an offshoot of Wicked Weed and specializes in sour beers.

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He had a flight, so he could taste four beers.  He pronounced them all excellent. I took a small sip of each one and liked the Bombadile best. It tasted of strawberries.

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Once we left the Funkatorium, we were ready to start thinking about supper.  Choosing a restaurant in Asheville is harder than choosing a coffee shop, for pretty much the same reason. There are just too many wonderful restaurants, with new ones opening all the time.

We ended up at Blue Dream and were not disappointed. They offered a concept we hadn’t seen yet in America – no tipping. The menu explains that their servers are well paid, with raises and bonuses, and the prices listed take this into account.

I had a curry dish with paneer. It was delicious.

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Storm clouds were rolling in as we finished our supper, so we high-tailed it back to our parking garage and reluctantly said adieu to the Paris of the South.

I took more pictures during our visit, but I think I’ve reached the limit of this Worpress app. Okay, I meant my patience. It amounts to the same thing.

 

Spreadsheet Adventures

Ready or not, I’m going back to the mountains in the morning. I guess I’m ready. My suitcase is packed and loaded into the van. My Autoharp is by the door. Even though the sun is going down, it’s still too hot to leave a musical instrument in the van overnight in Florida. The food and the coolers will go in tomorrow, too. Also my overnight case, because that’s where I pack my morning pages and I can’t pack them until after I write tomorrow’s pages.

Last week, I mentioned that I had paperwork to get done and that we had bought a new printer so I could do it. That printer printed out my inventory worksheets just fine. We counted everything and then I balanced the inventory to the sales tickets. That was an adventure, but I got everything to zero eventually. Then I started on my sales tax spreadsheet. That was an even bigger adventure. I never quite got the sales tickets to balance to the deposits, but I got within $5.00 after re-counting everything several times, so I called it close enough. Then I tried to print out my spreadsheet.

That was when the adventure really started. I did what I had done before to print out spreadsheets and the printer spit out two pages. Two pages of weird symbols and gobbledegook. I hollered for my husband, the retired Information Technology Manager, and then I stepped aside so he could make the printer behave. He eventually did that, after printing out way more than two pages of weird symbols and gobbledegook.

He still doesn’t know how he got it to print the spreadsheet correctly. The important thing is that he did and I was able to use it to fill out my sales tax return and send it off to the Department of Revenue with a check, which is definitely for the correct amount, to the best of my knowledge, or possibly for thirty-three cents too much. Either way, they are getting everything they should be getting. That’s the important thing.

I guess that’s two important things in one paragraph. Sloppy of me, but I’m tired and I have to get up ridiculously early in the morning. There is one more important thing I want to mention before I end this post, though. The spell-check on my iPad actually knows the word “gobbledegook.”

Printers, Paperwork and Painting

Last week I was enjoying balmy days and cool nights in the mountains of western North Carolina. Now I’m back in flat Florida, where temperatures are hovering near 100 degrees and the heat index has been as high as 114. I am thankful for air conditioning. I am also thankful that the work I need to do right now is paperwork, not dyeing. I need to finish my quarterly tie-dye inventory and get my sales taxes paid so I can go back to North Carolina.

The deadline for the sales tax return is July twentieth, but I can’t procrastinate that long because I promised my sister I would be back in North Carolina in time for her house concert on the ninth. She has asked me to join her for part of that performance and throw in some harmony. I love vocal harmony and I love my sister, so I will not let her down.

Of course, as soon as I got home with tons of paperwork on my agenda, our ancient printer decided to stop working. With a strange sound and a burning smell, it gave up the ghost and left me with no way to print out my inventory worksheets. My daughter may be willing to just write things down in a spiral notebook (she started counting things this way while I was out of town, God bless her), but I need my worksheets.

Research was done and a new, faster printer was acquired. Now the inventory is progressing and I have high hopes of completing it and moving on to the sales taxes within the next couple of days. That’s good. Getting back to North Carolina in time for the house concert is imperative, but getting back in time to rehearse first is pretty important, too.

Another thing that’s important is painting. I want to be painting. The last piece of the painting puzzle has finally fallen into place, thanks to my daughters. The younger one surprised the older one with a new sewing machine for Mothers’ Day. Then the older one used the new sewing machine to make me a painting apron. Now I won’t have to change into old tie-dyeing clothes when I want to paint. I can just throw on my apron over whatever I happen to be wearing and have at it, without worrying about getting paint on my clothes.

My New Apron

My New Apron


Okay, it may not be the most flattering look for me, but I think it’s beautiful.

Roan Mountain

My husband and I love to visit the Blue Ridge Mountains in June.  Our wedding anniversary is in June and  my husband has always scheduled time off so we could celebrate in our favorite part of the country. He retired last December, so time off is no longer an issue. 

That made it hard to decide exactly when to head to the mountains and even harder to decide when to head home, but the anniversary remains in June, so here we are. We have often visited Roan Mountain on our trips.  Sometimes we get there too early and the rhododendrons are not yet blooming.  Sometimes we get there too late and most of the blooms have gone by. 

This year, we hit it just right.


Could there be a more beautiful place for a picnic?

Enough

I am weary this Wednesday. I know my readers are, too. It’s been a rough week. We all know what happened Sunday, when an angry man full of hate took an assault rifle to a gay club and opened fire on a room full of folks just trying to enjoy each other’s company and have a good time.

My blog posts are usually pretty casual, with as much humor as I can put into them, so it’s hard for me to blog about something so horrible and so real, but it happened and it’s more than horrible and real to the families of the people who lost their lives in this senseless hate crime.

Everyone is trying to make sense of it, of course. We want to find a reason and we want it to be something we can fix. Maybe we’ll finally do something about gun control now or maybe we’ll do something about mental health. These things need to be done, but my LGBT friends and family members are saying that we can’t just talk about assault weapons and mental health. We need to talk about our long history of treating them as less than human because they don’t love the way we love.

That long history is evil and wrong. If you try to use your holy book to defend it, you are wrong. I am a quiet person who prefers to avoid controversy, but this is just not controversial for me any more.

Love is the only thing that can save us.

Love is love is love.

Berry Season

When I was a young child, I lived in a small town in New Hampshire. One of my favorite memories from those years is of going out into the wilds with my mother and picking berries. We picked wild strawberries every Summer and made strawberry shortcake. We picked wild raspberries, too, One year, we picked a lot of chokecherries and my mom made chokecherry jelly. Chokecherries are incredibly sour, but if you add enough sugar to them, they make delicious jelly.

When I was eight years old, we moved from a small town in New Hampshire to a big city in Florida. My mom was still one to look for wild berries and we found plenty of blackberries in the field behind our neighborhood convenience store. We spent some wonderful days out in that field, gathering berries and taking them home to make them into blackberry cobbler. Our big city did not have wild blueberries or strawberries, so we looked on the outskirts of town for U-pick farms. We used to go for long hours and pick pounds and pounds of berries to take home and freeze for later baking sprees. Back then, that was the economical way to acquire lots of berries when they were in season.

Can someone tell me when the U-pick farms started charging people more to pick berries themselves than to buy them in the grocery store? In what universe does this make sense? If I’m doing the work of picking the berries, I expect to get a break on the price. That’s how it worked when I was young. Picking is work. I do it and that saves you the expense of paying someone else to do it.

They have built houses in the field behind the old convenience store, so I don’t know where to go to pick wild berries any more. I also refuse to pay more to pick them at a U-pick farm than to buy them, already picked and boxed, at the grocery store. We don’t get pounds and pounds of them these days, but I always make sure to get enough for my Thanksgiving pies.

Blueberries

Blueberries


Even if I don’t get to pick them myself, I always think of my mom and those wonderful wanderings when I pack berries away in the freezer.