Thursday, July 11, 2013

Catching Up: 4th of July, Growing Things, and a Sparkle Cello Conundrum

I am behind.  On just.... everything.

At least here on my blog I can catch up with one messy post of odds and ends.  This won't be very coherent, but hey, you get what you pay for.

Part of the reason I haven't had time to write is I have been reading.  I finished Life After Life by Kate Atkinson and really enjoyed it.  It didn't feel like it was over 500 pages, but it sucked up time like it was over 500 pages.  From a writer's point of view it looks like it must have been great fun.  Basically the main character starts her life over each time she dies and we get to see lots of variations on her life story.  I found the whole thing very interesting and wish I could have attended our book club discussion on it.  Excellent book if you're looking for something (and you've already read mine!).

4th of July went well.  The parade in the morning was fun, but I miss marching bands.  We have several lazy bands that get driven on the backs of trucks, and among those are a polka band and a live group backing up an Elvis impersonator (which I used to think was weird and now look forward to every summer more than I can say), but no schools marching.  A lot of schools don't even have bands anymore, though, which makes me sad.  The elementary schools all had marching bands when I was a kid and we loved cheering on Roosevelt School in the parades and hearing the group practice around the neighborhood.  This year's parade did not include giant sausages, but did have Milwaukee's mayor, and I got to shake hands with Senator Tammy Baldwin.  My kids got a moderate candy haul, but the whole idea of candy for 4th of July is still odd to me.  (It's another bizarre thing from "back in my day" that I can tell them about.  No candy being thrown at the 4th of July parade, and knobs you had to turn to change the channel on the TV.  Oooooh.)

Mona got honorable mention for her decorated bike in this year's contest.

This worked out fine because the prize was a bunch of sparkly headbands that she loves.  Her bike was not as flashy as the ones that won, but the amount of fine detail work she did was above and beyond.  She even made a special patriotic helmet for her duct tape eagle.  (I told her it reminded me of a Mexican wrestler and she liked that idea.)

Quinn's flag with exactly 50 stars
Quinn had kind of the opposite experience of last year.  Last July he entered his scooter in the boys' coaster division, but was the only entrant, so he received a trophy and a prize when he scootered across the stage as they called his name.  He was really proud and it was adorable.  This year, having recently learned to ride a bike, he wanted to decorate that instead.  But the bike division started at age seven, so they put him in the trike group.  Well, I don't think anyone even pretends the tiny kids in the trike division decorate their own things, but Quinn did, and his bike looked big and messy by comparison.  He was okay about coming in last, but the problem was they somehow lost his name altogether.  They handed out prizes and then never called his name so he could ride across the stage!  I had to flag people down and ask them between other categories of kids coming up to please let Quinn have his chance to ride his bike up there, and they did.  And then the lady offstage with the consolation prizes gave Quinn a hard time since he didn't have an official "place" in the contest, and I had to explain that he didn't win anything so she should please let him have his stupid bag of plastic crap I don't want in my house marvelous prize.

Then I went to work because holiday or no holiday the bows in my shop haven't figured out how to rehair themselves yet.  I continue to be amazed how violin shop work comes in waves.  It will be dead quiet for long stretches, and then everyone shows up at once.  I suppose that keeps things exciting, but maybe I'm just getting too old for some kinds of excitement.

Aden did not decorate her bike this year.  Next year will be the last time she will be eligible so I imagine she will dive in then, but she said she had a lack of inspiration this time around.  When I pressed her on that she admitted she was feeling a bit frustrated.  Mona's bike decorations were all directly taken from ideas Aden did last year.  Aden told me she wanted to feel flattered, but instead felt resentful, which also made her feel guilty.  She gets the big sister prize of the year award in my mind, because she knew if she said anything, however gentle, Mona would be mortified and would most likely destroy her own beautiful work in a misguided attempt to make it up to Aden.  There are siblings who purposely try to upset one another, but my kids aren't like that.  They try hard not to cause each other pain.  Aden chose to forgo the bike decorating so she could keep some distance and not risk hurting Mona.  I hugged her tightly and told her she made me very proud.  I promised her next year we'd get an early jump on decorating and go all out.

Aden's having a hard time adjusting to her new role as a big kid.  She's still attracted to the games and fun that the small kids enjoy and doesn't like to be left out.  She sat with me as we watched a clown lead kindergarten aged children in a march, and then a dance with puppets.  She told me she wanted to join in, but knew she didn't belong.  I told her there were two choices:  Either abandon her vanity and do what she liked, or find a way to play from the other side.  People who get too old to play the games but still want to participate become the people who organize them.  Aden's wonderful with small children, and she lit up a bit at the idea of getting to lead them in all kinds of games.  But it's hard growing up.  (And sometimes it's hard to watch someone growing up.)

Speaking of growing....  This is the first year we've begun to address things in our yard beyond remembering to mow the grass.  We got some hostas planted and removed some paving stones and got some grass to grow and cleaned up the bed of day lilies.  There is a new flower bed by the front of our walkway which looks nice.  (If you scroll back up to the pictures of the kids posing on their bikes you can see a hint of it.)  The only problem with planting flowers by a headstone is that it really highlights that we have a headstone, but the headstone isn't going anywhere so may as well just go with it for all its worth.

And the back yard is looking good for a change.  Last summer we put in some clematis by our fence and apparently managed to not kill it!

The kids have a vegetable garden on their terrace upstairs, and that's going well.  They dumped all the carrots into a tight clump that will be interesting to harvest eventually.  The Brussels sprouts are doing well, as is the squash and some of the tomato plants.  Strawberries not so much, and there is a plant that was labeled basil which doesn't look much like any of the basil I know, and it hasn't changed much since we planted it.  But the kids are happy with all of it, and I'm proud of them for tending their garden so well.

In the world of really big gardens, we are having fun with farm share produce this summer.  A friend asked if we'd like to split a big box order with her family every week, so on Thursdays we divvy up a selection of vegetables.  It's forced us to try cooking with items we wouldn't normally buy.  We've discovered we like orange beets, turnips, and kohlrabi.  I love how excited the kids get to eat anything they know came from a local farm.  (Who would have guessed they would run to the dinner table screaming "TURNIPS!"?)

Aden continues to be interested in woodworking.  She painted her little bench light blue, and the other day we put casters on the bottoms of the legs and leveled it out.  I ran the drill press and helped a bit with gluing, but all the measuring and sawing and sanding and painting she did herself.  Now she's carving a turtle out of pine and there is talk of a wagon.  I asked her if she'd like to assist me with some of the rough work on the violin I'm planning to build her (now that she's up to a full size instrument), and she's really looking forward to it.  We just have to decide on what model and which pieces of wood.

The living room is filled with an extensive wooden train and Lego setup.  The kids have been in charge of their own lunches and walking the dog while I'm at work and that's going well.  The past few evenings we've gone out at dusk to look at bats, catch fireflies, and chase rabbits out of the nearby community garden.  I love summer.

Work is going well, too, but the other day I noticed something strange.  Remember my sparkle cello?  I glued jewels all over a broken half size cello back in December and it's been a big hit in the window of the store.  It's been much admired and photographed by passersby.  However, a big swath of the back of it has gone dark.  For some reason on just one area the silver backings on the jewels have... Dissolved? Faded? Transported to a different dimension?  I don't know, but instead of light bouncing back you see straight down into the black background on just those jewels.  It's very odd.  Because I rotate the cello so it doesn't get sunlight all the same way all the time and nothing has changed on the front.  Or on most of the back for that matter.  And it's a recent change, so what would have happened six months later to cause it?  Any crafty people have any thoughts?

Here is the back of the cello when it was finished next to the way it looks now.

The jewels that have gone dark are not all the same color, even though most of that patch is pink and purple.  There are plenty of silver and yellow jewels that also now look black when viewed straight on.  It's hard to get in a picture, but can you see how some of the jewels here have just gone grey?
But the front and sides and most of the back remain fine.

While looking for pictures for this post I did notice something.  This shot I took while in progress is the same area that has gone dark.  I'm trying to remember if that's the point where I switched to a new bottle of glue.  I just bought Titebond again, so I'm not sure why that would make a difference (especially so many months later), but that can't be a coincidence.  Hm.


Anyway, that's some of what we've been up to.  Hope everyone else's summer is going well.  More to report from Sunny Milwaukee soon.


  1. From the bottom up:

    No clue about the bling. My guess is the glue, but why that would affect them I have no idea.

    Aden's little bench is just brilliant!

    Clematis is the one thing I always manage to kill without fail. Yours is beautiful. Why do you have a headstone out front? I'm intrigued. Also, kudos to the kiddos for keeping their garden up. How fun!

    Aden's a wonderful big sister. And, yes, it IS so hard when you hit those in-between ages. She'll find her way, as we all had to, but it's such a struggled at times.

    Poor Quinn. When I taught, we had big, quarter-long projects due at the end of each quarter. You could always tell who had done the work themselves and who had "parental help". :ahem: And then, for them to forget him! :sigh:

    Mona's bike and that eagle(!)--LOVE the helmet! It definitely gives him a luchador sort of appearance--are all wonderful. I'm chuckling at the sight of your kiddos in long sleeves and such on the Fourth when we were all melting. Hee hee!

    I'm so glad your book was enjoyable. I'm trying to find time to just sit and read. It's been a while. My mom has asked me to edit her book so I know I'll be doing *some* reading in the coming weeks. ;o)

    1. The long sleeves.... It was hot here, too, actually. But Quinn has this habit of only wearing the next shirt in the drawer no matter what it is. So even if he's roasting he says, "But it was the next shirt in the drawer." So I may start checking the weather and rearranging his shirts at night. (My kids in some ways are SO SMART and in other ways REALLY NOT.)

    2. Oh, and why DO we have a headstone? There was a single man who lived in our house for 30 years before us (and before two different sets of couples) who had a creative streak and just decided he wanted a headstone for an address marker. So there it is. Quite solid and headstoney. Makes a good landmark in the neighborhood and it's great for Halloween, but otherwise admittedly odd.

  2. I love the violin! So pretty!!! I suspect it had to do something with the glue, and sometimes light can cause the colors to fade. I am not sure how it works with the bling stones though. Looked like you had a great 4th! I am sorry about Quinn (even though I had to giggle at your comment that you so gracefully crossed out).

    I wish I have time to read, and I know I will eventually. It's hard with a little baby that is so super active. More often than not, when I do have free time, I find that I want to sew on my quilt, and get lost in my thoughts. :)

    1. I found when I had a baby in the house that it wasn't just finding time to read, my brain wasn't prepared for it. I started doing Sudoku puzzles that I could pick up and put down and not care where I left off.

  3. Glue can definitely affect the quality of rhinestones. Typically they are clear stones with a metal backing. If the glue damages the backing, then the stones won't look the same. A similar thing can happen to mirrors. If they are glued to a wall without special mirror mastic, it can remove the mirrored coating and you will see the glue marks from the front. I heart rhinestones though! Nice work. It takes a lot of time.
    AnneH in CO

    1. Yeah, I think the glue did it somehow. If I'm REALLY bored one day I may try picking some of them off and replacing them with fresh ones and different glue, but it's hard to want to do that if it's just going to happen again.

  4. Korinthia, you have given us a lovely slice of July life in this post. I enjoyed reading about your children and their bikes with decorations. 4th of July parades are lovely old fashioned American practices that our kids never had a chance to participate in so I read, longingly, about the experiences of others. thanks!
    Grown and Flown

  5. This whole post makes me happy. Except the cello.