Sunday, July 27, 2014

Some Sharing

I've been something of a hermit this month, not really motivated to do anything outside of my home.  Every couple of days or so I come out of hiding and do something social before holing back up again with my around-the-house projects and my art supplies.  To be honest, the art supplies have outranked the around-the-house projects on most days.  The last I shared, I had finished up a journal and was working on making a new one.  About half of it has been filled this month.  A few to share...
For some reason sketching had been put on the back burner this year.  I've been working on it a bit more...  
I bought a larger palette box so I could add some new colors which has also been fun.
I think I struggled with WHAT to sketch, trying to make it meaningful or something, so I just didn't.  But recently I've been sketching anything around the room I'm in for practice and have been enjoying that.
Summer break is quickly coming to end.  Just two more weeks of break, one of which I'll be getting the room read again, before the kids come back school - hence the hermit-like living.  

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Mats

Being a frequent Pinterest visitor I am constantly reminded that there are so many things to do (cooking, crafting, working out, shopping, DIY remodeling my home, etc) and such little time and money to do them.  So when I do manage to successfully pull off a Pinterest idea I'm really quite pleased with myself.  And if it's cute?  Well my pride is just endless.
I accomplished one such project last week.  Probably a year or so ago I pinned an idea for covering the shelves of the refrigerator with plastic wrap to help keep them clean and, when needed, make clean up easy.  I had since cleaned out my refrigerator on some school break and forgot about the idea.  Well, this summer cleaning the fridge was on my to do list again.  It's really a simple job because the shelves are plastic and easy to wipe down.  The problem is the shelves are large and hard to manage in a sink that is half the size.  While cleaning them this go round, I remembered that shelf covering idea.  The plastic wrap wasn't going to work for my shelves, but I searched around for some other ideas and came up with this...
Plastic placemats from Target!
It was super easy to cut them down to fit on the main shelves and drawers.
 The door shelves were a little trickier to size.  They're not perfect, but it's hardly noticeable.

I got them down within a few days after cleaning the fridge - before any leaks, spills, or drips.  Now, the next time I clean, it'll take seconds to pull the mats out, wash them in the sink (or in the dishwasher if I'm feeling especially lazy), and pop them back in to continue their job.  And every time I open the fridge I'm delighted to see them.  A few times I've even opened it just to look at them.  Yay!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Super!!!

Saturday night was our first of three Super Moons this summer.
I played around with the manual settings on the camera.  With a lot of experimenting I got a couple of good shots, even without a tripod.  The one coming up in August is supposed to be the most brilliant of the three.  
Did you see it?

Sunday, July 13, 2014

A Humanitarian Crisis

Living in Southern California, I am not a stranger to the issues of illegal immigration and the need for immigration reform.  Reform has been a hot-button topic for the last few years while liberals and conservatives try (I use try loosely) to come to some agreement about what to do with this country's illegal population.

We are now faced with a very different illegal problem.  Children from Central and South America are infiltrating our borders.  Things have gotten so dangerous in El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala due to the drug cartels, parents are paying "coyotes" gobs of money take their children across the border and drop them off in the US.  Our current law only allows officials to quickly send them back to their home country if they are from Mexico or Canada.  Even though these kids came through Mexico to get here, the law allows these unaccompanied minors join family members or foster care while their case is handled through formal hearings during which they can petition to remain in this country.  The case load is currently backlogged from months to years.  In this year alone, over 50,000 of these children have crossed over the border.

This, of course, has turned into the blame game.  Even though the law that allows these children to remain in the country was signed before Obama took office, he somehow singlehandedly allowed each and every one of these children to come here.  He probably even used Air Force One to bring them over!

Seriously though, I do understand the frustration with this recent influx.  Illegal immigrants are a strain on our economy. Our taxes pay for a lot of their care while, due to their status, they are not able to contribute.  And the fact that these are children, they can't care for themselves, is even more frightening.  If they stay here, they need to be taken care of, and that will become more of a burden on our resources.

But the thing that brings me to tears is that these are LITTLE KIDS.  Their parents, the ones who they know and love, sent them far away, alone, with very dangerous people, to a place they've never been.  What a scary, scary journey it must have been.  Now they are here in this new country who, let's face it, doesn't want them.  It's a lot for little shoulders to bear.

I was discussing this situation with someone (who is angry about it) the other day.  While I sympathized, I also mentioned how, due to the law that prohibited them from being turned away, these children need to be cared for.  If they are our responsibility now, we can't slack off.  I was rebutted (Is that a word?) with "If they're allowed to stay, you will have more of THOSE kids in your class."  Yep, and that's exactly where they should be...in school.  If they are our responsibility now, school is where they need to be.   I don't understand the mentality of not educating the kids (any of them) whose families might be illegal or who now are illegal themselves.  If we want them to not be a burden on our society, they need to be educated.

I do really feel for the border communities who are directly affected by this crisis.  They are faced with a challenge.  At this point though, what is going to change by complaining and being angry over the situation.  Maybe it's an idealistic and bleeding heart view point, but banning together to make these kids feel welcome and teaching them how to be good and productive citizens seems like a better plan.  Blaming them for something they had zero control over isn't going to be good for anyone.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

She Is Not Amused

After cleaning the kitchen floor yesterday, the two entrances to the kitchen have been blocked off to keep the dog out.  I decided this was the week that I needed to clean the grout on my tile floors.  Rigby just walks by and leaves hair everywhere, so the last thing I want is her making that floor even harder to clean.  She was surprised at first, wondering why the suitcases and boxes were out.
However since, she's been whining and pouting about it.  Rigby has had about enough of the barricades.

I have too, frankly.  It's been a day and a half and only 60% finished.  The tile in my house makes up about 60% of the floor.  It sounded like a quick cleaning job, but as it turns out...it's not!  I borrowed some heavy duty knee pads since I'm crawling all over the floor.

They have been a lifesaver, but are really hard to walk in - I feel like Frankenstein.  Rigby is not too fond of that either.

I'm hoping one more day of cleaning tomorrow and then sealing on Thursday.  I hate to have this project eating into my lounging around and doing nothing vacation time.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

A Birthday Lie

My family is having a big surprise birthday party next month for my dad's sister and their cousin. (We are known for botched surprise parties, so the "surprise" remains to be seen, but that's a story for another time.)  It is a milestone birthday for my Aunt, and she is quite proud of the fact that she is turning 70.  Her cousin, "Aunt Betty", on the other hand, well we all know she has a birthday in August, but no one knows how old she will actually be.  She's been lying about her age for so long.  Actually, I think there are a couple of older family members who do know but are too afraid to tell anyone, worried about incurring her wrath.  There are a few stories out there about how once-upon-a-time her real age was brought to light, for the fun of it, but the jokes didn't go over so well.  So now it's kept under wraps.
Being reminded of this family secret while preparing for the party, I got to thinking about this particular lie.  Some women have been lying about their ages for, well, ages; maybe even forever.  Heck, this past birthday made me contemplate it...A LOT!  But I wonder how these people pull it off for so long.  When I decided not to lie about my age it wasn't because I'm willing to age gracefully or for any moral reasons.  No, it was because none of my loved ones would let me get a way with it.  "Oh, shut up, you are not!" they would say.
So how is it, that after all these years, no one has called Aunt Betty out on it.  Those who do know have been humoring her.  And now here we are, ready to celebrate her birthday without knowing when her birthday really is.  Crazy!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The Mall

After the 2nd day of the Arts Integration Conference, we had tickets to the Lion King at the Kennedy Center.  No photos allowed, but it was a beautiful musical.  I liken it to War Horse in that all the characters were animals.  The "costumes" were more like props moved by the actors.  The movement was so lifelike that after a few moments you forgot about the people and saw them as animals.  Fascinating, really.
The final day of the conference was only a half day.  We were on the metro into DC by 1:00 PM planning on spending the rest of the day at the National Mall.  Unlike the previous two days, it was HOT and HUMID.  It made the sky beautiful for pictures, but I thought I was going to die of heat stroke.  
We got off at the Smithsonian stop which is located in the middle of the Mall and headed east towards the Capitol Building.  Unfortunately, they were doing some construction nearby and preparing for an event (4th of July?) on the grounds which interfered with my pictures.
Thankfully, all the Smithsonian museums are air conditioned and have free admission.  We made some quick stops inside the Air and Space Museum, the Natural History Museum, and the National Museum of American History.  One day isn't enough time to see one of the museums in DC let alone three, but the air conditioning and protection from the sun gave us a reprieve from the heat.
This year is the 200th anniversary of our national anthem, The Star Spangled Banner.  The American History museum had a really nice exhibit about it, and even had the 30x42 foot flag that inspired the song under glass.
We made our way, hopping in and out of cool museums, to the memorials' section on the west-end of the mall, arriving at the Washington Monument first.  With the overhead sun, the monument reflected a yellowy-white color.  It changed colors throughout the day depending on location and light.
I was last in DC in 2000.  A few new memorials have been constructed since then, including the World War II Memorial.
 And of course, the Vietnam Memorial is chilling.
 The Lincoln Memorial is the furthest west on the Mall and a nice, shady resting place after the walk.
 Plus, it has a very nice view of the Washington Monument.
 As the sun went behind the Memorial, the color of the WA Monument had a grey tone.
We also visited the Korean War Memorial, which I had not seen the last time I was in DC.  
 The statues of the soldiers and the faces engraved along its wall are ghostly.
The newest monument in DC is dedicated to Martin Luther King Jr.  It sits right along the Potomac and overlooks the Jefferson Memorial.
 I was taken by the size of it.  The granite pieces are enormous.
As we walked along the Potomac towards the Metro, the Washington Monument had changed colors again.
After all was said and done, we walked a little over 5 miles in gazillion degree heat that afternoon.  We had dinner at a wonderful farm-to-table restaurant (Birch and Barley) near the White House and returned to the hotel around 11PM.  It was a great day of sightseeing on my final day in Washington DC.  I returned home on a 9am flight the next day.