Sunday, April 13, 2014

You might be a book nerd if...

You might be a book nerd if you take a workshop to make your own bone folders (to make books with):
There they are! There are the 2 1/2 bone folders I made in the workshop today.  I say 2 1/2 because the one in the middle isn't finished - and I'm not sure I like it anymore. It looks a little bit silly, like one of those cheap letter-opener-samuri-looking things. And I just can't allow myself to be in a position to be embarrassed by my bone folders. Ahem. But no biggie - I can root around in all of my tools, I'm sure I have a rasp and some files somewhere. The question is how fine my files are. Because if they aren't fine enough I can't do the finishing.... but I digress...let me back up...
Yes! I took a fabulous workshop today through the Philadelphia Center for the Book with Shanna Leino.  I've taken a few of Shanna's workshops and she is fantastic. She explains everything thoroghly, gives great demonstrations, the workshops are well prepared and yeah - she's just great.  
She started the workshop by passing around her favorite material - elk bone:
and talked about different densities of bone etc. For this workshop we used moose bones. Apparently she knows somewhere to get them from hunters and everything has just been boiled in hot water.
So we chose the pieces which "spoke" to us from a big pile she had prepared and started filing. (The flowery bag is full of band aides)  
I chose this one to start with:
 It's a good 8 - 9 inches long. I sort of panicked because I had NO idea what shape of folder I wanted, so I decided to follow Michelangelo's philosophy - just grab one and "free" the bone folder from within it.
And it spoke to me:
To shaped the folder one starts with a ferrier's rasp (for shoeing horses - a very rough metal scary rasp), and scrapes the bone along it to smooth things out. This rasp is a dangerous weapon. I didn't actually draw any blood, but I'm pretty sure I rasped all of my finger prints off of my pointer fingers, maybe the sides of my thumbs too.
After the initial shaping is done, more filing is needed with different roughnesses (is that a word?). Here are the last two, the fine files, ready to smooth the whole thing down.  
 I had really wanted to document the entire process and I really tried with the second folder I made, but both times when I got to this point, I was just too excited to progress and completely forgot to take pictures.
The next step is to add decorations. Here are some of Shanna's beautiful folders:

I bought one from her many years ago that I love! The decorations are not as difficult as one might suspect.  They are pretty fun.   
We kept filing away all afternoon. In the end I think the class made some really gorgeous folders:
We paid for supplies so I took several pieces home so that I can make some more - I can't wait!
I am sitting outside because it is absolutely beautiful today (80°F! - more on that in a minute) and so of course the inspector had to come and check things out.  Apparently moose bone is delectable.  
Apropos 80°F and stuff - Spring has sprung around here! What a beautiful weekend!
The inspector monitoring his realm:

I actually had to mow the lawn yesterday! How do ya like that!? I liked it just fine.
But as usual, it's time for the annual negotiations with my basement dehumidifier. It decided to fill up with water and drip on the floor rather than down it's tube.

I opened things up hoping to let things dry out (which they did), but at the moment the dehumidifier is having a time-out. Maybe it will think about what it did and behave the way it is supposed to when I plug it back in.  
It really is spring though, because the spring fever of spring cleaning has really hit hard this year.   
Do you see those piles of papers? Those are the only piles of paper in the studio. This is serious trimming down from the overflowing chair-pile-of-papers and the spreading-out-like-crazy pile of papers on the floor, not to mention the boxes of papers still needing to be sorted from when I moved in five years ago! I've actually done crazy spring cleaning things like cleaning off all the shelves in the bathroom, cleaning everything that was on the shelf and putting everything back. Litter boxes also - cleaned those with vinegar so they don't stink. Daisy fresh they are! 
The only thing I took a good "college try" to and wasn't able to succeed were my taxes. humph. (those are taxes there - on the table): 
I really tried, but the discrepancy between my return when I've had an accountant and when I do it myself is just too big. So I'll be filing that extension tonight, waiting until May when all the accountants are back from their well earned vacations and then trying to find one. sigh. wish me luck. 

Sunday, April 6, 2014


say it with a big sigh... s p r i n g  

Ah, it seems like it might really be here. Even though I have several people in my life who have said it's not spring until after April [fill in the number] because my [fill in the relation] was born on April [fill in the number- again ] in a major snow storm. So. I'm still nervous. 

After this winter... I can honestly say this spring has never been more welcome. Even though it is still in the 40's at night and barely breaking into the 60's during the day, we are thrilled.
My five-year-old orchid that is happy in the bathroom with rainwater (only) has bloomed it's most impressive array yet. 

I am enjoying crocuses and daffodils in the garden. So many things have started growing, it's almost hard to keep track. Raspberry leaves have started, the roses have little green nubs and the forsythias are going to explode into bloom any minute now.
It was also the first weekend West River Drive was closed to automobiles; open only to "foot mobiles" - and we were an eager bunch. Lots of pasty-skinned people who needed to be out! And there is evidence of spring out there as well. Daffodils in the strangest places and trees that are going to be full of flowers any second now.

Yes, I think deep down, we are all sun-seekers. Jacques found this spot even though he knows he is not supposed to be on table tops.
He was forgiven because of the obvious enticing sunbeam.  

Sunday, March 30, 2014

March comes in like a lion...

and goes out like a lamb? Hm. I guess that's all relative. It rained all weekend. ALL. weekend. But at least it didn't snow! Some of the crocuses are done, but some are still waiting in the wings. 

There are lots of daffodils and tulips that are eagerly waiting for some warm sunshine.  

 And while yes, there was no snow, and yes, it was in the 50's all weekend, it still wasn't really gardening or kitty-outside weather. But that last fact didn't ever seem to sink in to my little garden panther. He would want out-out-out! but when the door opened he would freeze, then sit down in the door way, as if astonished that it would still be raining!
 And of course then I would hear all about it.  But eventually he would wander out for a little while. 

I had a wonderful weekend in the studio. Really wonderful.  I made big progress on editioning Plenum. This has been a long time coming...

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Oh Spring!

Oh Spring! 
If I were more clever I'd have some ode to spring ready to go... but alas... I'll just do it with an image. 
It's worth 1000 words anyway, right? 
The crocuses have started blooming! Yippee!!! This is a sign that spring is just around the corner, which just couldn't be close enough.  We are desperate for it here, spring that is.  
 The garlics have sprouted too! Melanie gave me extra ones this year, so I do hope I get some good ones. I think I need to procure some correct soil. More manure and compost. 

Yesterday was an absolutely beautiful day. We came home to 30°F weather, but by Saturday it was a balmy 65°F! I decided to pull out the new (birthday) patio furniture.
While this was absolutely lovely yesterday it may have been a mistake. It is supposed to snow tonight into tomorrow. (big sigh) I am SO ready for spring. 

We have a new building to look at from the front of the house:
 I do like the reflective nature of the glass. It has given a bit of extra sunlight. Very nice in those dark days. 
And finally, because I knew I would go stir crazy on the plane to Las Vegas, I started another pair of socks. These are a pair from a Zauberball sock yarn that is really wonderful. I am especially pleased with the pattern I finally decided on for the cuff.

Friday, March 14, 2014

The Snowbirds Return

Yes, we are back. We are back to our 30°F temperatures, but with our sunburns! Just to remind ourselves, even if only for a few days, that we were in warmth and heat. We came back with a few other memories as well...
On Tuesday we visited the Hoover Dam. What an amazing engineering feat!
If you are in Las Vegas you must visit! It's only a 40 minute drive from the strip. We rented a car very cheap for three days for some sight seeing. 
I was most impressed by the monument to those who died building the dam. I did a quick online search about it and can't find any images of the entire thing. What I liked most was the floor mosaic. According to the US Dept. of the Interior, the floor shows the exact date of the dedication of the dam in according to the stars. There are such beautiful details in it.  
On Wednesday we went hiking in the Red Rock Canyon, a 40 minute drive in the other direction of the Las Vegas strip. It was very windy which made it very cold, but we decided to scale the Turtle Head trail. Whew! Talk about needing trail markers! The first mile and a half or so was UP - but reasonably so. The last mile was... difficult to describe. It was something like a 1000ft. climb in about a half a mile. I might be exaggerating a little bit - but not much.  There was no official trail - basically one had to just scramble up the mountain, which we did.  Once at the top - wow. The view was worth it! 
Here's Pedro gazing back up at where we were: 
Yes really! Up there at the highest spot. We did make it. And to give you an idea the trail just sort of goes straight up to the left of his backpack. No switchbacks. Just up. 
But the views, oh the views: This is the top of the ridge before climbing the final bit - the turtle head (on the left). 

Kind of a bad selfie, but the Strip and even part of Lake Mead are visible in the background.   

And yeah, a beautiful view of more geology, but really I was trying to get an image of the parking lot. It's just past all of the white rocky looking stuff in the middle of what looks like a water run off. But, well, you know, that 2000 ft. below us.

Some more views of the area: 
We topped both days off with amazing restaurant experiences. Tuesday was a super fancy french cuisine place with a sommelier who was very excited to talk to someone who knew wine. We now have great suggestions on where to get Nebiolo from California vineyards. (If you don't know what Nebiolo is, find out!)
Wednesday we went to Lotus of Siam. This Thai restaurant is so famous, both cab drivers knew about it. I gave just the address to the first and he said, "Oh, Lotus of Siam, right? Make sure you have the spicy noodles." The second cab driver said in the six years she'd been driving and picking people up from the restaurant, she's never heard one complaint. Pedro was in heaven because the wine list was amazing. We had another bottle of a Riesling we'd been introduced to the night before. The food was amazing too. (I need to find a good recipe for Masama Curry (?) I could eat buckets).
Oh, and we did play the slots. I had five singles and said, let's play them! So we did and in the end we won $13.96 in the penny slots. Hot Dog! 

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Viva Las Vegas!

Hello All from sunny sunny Las Vegas! The weather is beautiful! 80, beautiful little clouds in the sky and a breeze. Lovely lovely.
We're staying at the Luxor. And I spent yesterday morning sitting by the pool and looking at the beautiful Mandalay Bay hotel.  I got the most terrific sunburn for my troubles,  it's really a little embarrassing! But it's a small price to pay not to have to be cold and bundled like I would be otherwise.
I always forget how much fun Las Vegas is.  The people watching is unbelievable. We've seen:
Elvis on a scooter
The guy from The Hangover, also on a scooter
all dress and nationality
better sunburns than mine (and that's sayin' something)
A homeless (?) guy with a sign that said "My wife had a sex change and ran away with my girlfriend"
Drunk people everywhere wow and they are having a great time.
Some incredible fashion choices
and then the good stuff:
We went to see Cirque du Soleil's Zarkana last night. It was pretty good. Sadly they were having an off night. One guy fell off the trapeze (onto the net thank goodness) but it seemed to have sparked some sort of extra nervousness with the rest of the acts. There were some pretty near misses. I still enjoyed it very much.  The clowns are always my absolute favorite.

Then there is the incredible architecture. It's really just amazing.  Something amazing to look at everywhere.  Good food too.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Bathroom Window follow up

The window turned out beautifully! I love it.  Not only was this piece of paper meant to be on this window, but it has changed the light in the bathroom completely. 
I love it.