Saturday, December 24, 2011

Trees without a tree

For a few years we had a kind-of-tree-like arrangement of lights, on a wooden platform that's in our front room (used to be a tiled base for a wood stove, long ago).

We put the gifts inside it.

This year, Holly had an idea to wrap lights around a banister sort of fence on the other side of the room, fastened at a center point on an eye hook. Keith set that up for us.

The coolest thing is that we could stick most of the gifts inside the fence, so they show decoratively from the stairs and (also Holly's idea) we put Christmas cards on the outside, so those who enter the house can see the cards and gifts.

Because I took this with a flash in a dark room, the metallic paper projected its pattern onto the wall above and the hardwood floor below. I didn't plan that. It was a Christmas surprise from my phone's camera.

I'm not philosophically opposed to having a Christmas tree, it's just hard to rearrange for one, and every year we seem to be busy with other things (this year, an unschooling symposium starts December 28).

But meanwhile, in another house around here, the mom didn't want a pine-needle-shedding tree anymore, and had for a while had an artificial tree. But it was shedding artificial pine needles, and so she asked her son, who's an artist, to come up with a tree that wasn't a tree.

Holly helped a little, around the purchasing thrift-store lamp shades part, at least, and painting, maybe. The artist is her boyfriend, Will.

Friday, December 09, 2011

Ghosts and Ghost Signs

Recently, somewhere in Texas, I took a photo. It will be the second photo below.

Today on the Shorpy blog, was this photo. If it seems at all interesting, click it. On the large image, you can see details of the little car to the right of the truck at the loading dock. You can see the pigeon on the roof, and the blurred ends of trees, so you can know the wind was blowing lightly when the photo was taken.

The photo I took was of a brick street and a building with a coca-cola sign painted on the side. Some of those old signs have been painted over, and re-appeared, over and over since they were first painted. They're called "ghost signs" and if you go to google image and put that in, you'll see lots that people have collected in photos.

What I like about having seen the Washington DC example above is the people's clothes, and the cars. So I can picture some people around "my" building, though mine would've been Texans so some aspects of the autos and clothes might have been different.

This was in Coleman, the town where Keith and I stopped for hamburgers on the way to Austin on November 19, 2011. Whoever painted that sign probably could not have imagined, nor believed it if we could have told him, that in 2011 someone could take a photo of it with a little pocket-sized digital camera and somehow show it all over the world without ever touching paper or chemicals to develop it. I'm pretty sure whoever painted that sign wouldn't have believed it would still BE there in 2011. :-)

So if you see ghost signs, maybe take a photo and think of the artist, of what it might have looked like the first day when the paint was still wet, and of the ghost cars and people who might have been there 100 years ago.

Here are some I took in Bimidji, Minnesota, when Holly and I visited the Traaseths there in 2007.

You can click to enlarge.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Wood-rich, charge-crazy, acoustic night

We got two cords of wood yesterday. I don't mind advertising the place we got it. They were quick and efficient and it wasn't very expensive, and the guy managed to back into our yard a bit and dump the whole pile on our property!

Probably if I owned a dumptruck and a wood yard, this wouldn't be so exciting to me, but I love the sound and the sight and all the cedar dust and the smell.

I would've stayed out longer, but my cellphone was playing music box in my pocket. It was the charge card company asking whether I had charged $7,000 on my card, and then $10,000. No, I hadn't. What about this'n'that other lesser charges? Yes, yes and yes. So... the card needs to be replaced. That's fine. I missed the end of the wood show, but for a good cause.

It made me feel oddly good to know that I could have (potentially) charged $17,000 (a car or some such) and said "yeah, I did that!" when they called, and they would have said, "Okay, then! Just checking." It didn't make me want to do it, but just the thought was fun. :-)

I helped stack until my back hurt, and then came in and made banana pancakes and bacon to reward the others who worked until it was done.

What really makes me feel rich, and always has, is a big pile of wood. So we're temporarily fuel-rich. I'm glad it's luxury (hot tub and fireplace) rather than life-and-death cooking and water-heating necessity. If the electricity or gas go out, though, we won't freeze.

Last night I went with Holly, Alex and Will to "the new Amped" (I don't know how long they will call the new location new before it's just Amped) for acoustic night. People signed up for fifteen minute sets, and we were there from 7:00 (it started right on time; Will went first with a ukelele solo) until 10:45 or so. The last set was half an hour of Reagan Motels, doing acoustic ska. Two guitars, trombone and trumpet, vocals. Sometimes they have one or two other people, Holly says. Usually it's electric guitars and drums, but this was their acoustic night permutation.

I sang Frankie and Johnny, Johnny be Fair and The Titanic. I think I'll go again. I started a song list in my pocket while I was thinking about it, but the songs were too much the same, that I thought of. Tramp on the Street, Both Sides Now, and Little Rosewood Casket. All too similar in speed and mood. So one or two of those, and something silly, or fast, or both. Maybe in January.

Holly took pictures of me.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

The Virgin Mary in a lightning bolt

Or vice versa.

Sometimes when people come touristing here, we take them to see this tree, or they find it on their own, or someone shows them. It's behind the rectory of San Felipe de Neri church in Old Town. Someone carved The Virgin of Guadalupe (a local favorite) being supported by an angel, in a dying tree a long time ago, and it's repainted occasionally.

On the news a few days ago, they said it had been struck by lightning, but it might have been wind knocked the top of the tree off. The carving is still okay, they said.

I went looking for an image and found this, which is even more interesting:

Bee Rescue, Cottonwood Madonna and Miracles
A local beekeeper saved a bees nest that blew down with it.

Here's a local news story:
Religious icon OK as wind splits tree

There's a video of the downed tree, with some commentary.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Texas State History Museum

Photography in displays or movies prohibited. DOH.

Well... four hours of being surrounded by schoolkids eight to ten years old. Very tiring. Some history of Texas is fascinating. Some is fascinating and vile. Nice museum, though, for sure, and high-quality movies with great musical scores.

Stars everywhere. There was a coin, first coins struck in what is now Texas, by Mexico, and they have a single star on the back. Small. And their first flags had a star. So that star is old, for Texas.

There were designs on the floor that reminded me of those in the Phoenix airport that Holly and I saw on the way to San Diego. But these weren't tile. They were sections of poured floor between brass dividers.

I read the Texas declaration of independence all the way through, in a reproduction of the original. I liked a lot of the wording. One of their charges, though, was that Mexico hadn't provided schools.
It has failed to establish any public system of education, although possessed of almost boundless resources, (the public domain,) and although it is an axiom in political science, that unless a people are educated and enlightened, it is idle to expect the continuance of civil liberty, or the capacity for self government.
So there we were, surrounded by a few hundred public school students of 175 years later. Each had a checklist of questions and they were zipping around trying to find the answers. On kid popped up between Kirby and what he was trying to read. Then two others did. Totally obscured what he was looking at. Then a teacher said "If there aren't any answers, move on." They took that as a clue that they were looking in the wrong place, so they stopped reading and zoomed off.

Another time two girls were reading something I was reading. Their teacher said "[Name. NAME!] Come here, right now!" They stopped reading and went to the group. The teacher said for everyone to take a slow, deep breath, and they did, and she said to focus on the fact that they had nothing left to do now but to go down and leave. The teacher was stressed; the kids weren't. It seemed cool to her that it was over. The kids (at least those two) were more interested in reading about the history of Texas.

Bottom Dollar String Band

The other day we saw a little old-timey/bluegrassish group called the Bottom Dollar String Band. I'm sad that I accidentally deleted a video of part of a happy song, but the still images are here. Kirby liked them especially, so might try to catch them again sometime, somewhere.

Oh hey... someone else got them that day. DARN I wish I had my video.

They hav a facebook page with music:

Saturday, November 19, 2011

A few images of West Texas

We're all the way to Austin now, but I saved some things to share, from early this morning. In Muleshoe, I found a sort of "Wheel of Fortune" puzzle for you all:

Turning the other way, was a large array of things, all made of steel. Most of it was old steel, but there was one new green girder, and the building just past the International pickup was newish.

That black speck is a big bird; crow, or raven.

In Lubbock, we passed a couple of places that probably had internet (Denny's and a large, local cafe), figuring we would get gas in the car and then find a breakfast place with internet.

Further on I saw a little burger joint about the size of a billboard. :-) I thought the menu might be fun for people outside the U.S.

"HB" would be hamburger and "CB" cheeseburger.

There was also a very current drive-in theater in Lubbock, showing double features of new movies on three screens. I thought of Julie Daniel. This one wasn't set with slanted rows in the old classic style, but was just flat. The screens were set in a triangle, and I we didn't pull close enough to see how the cars were to have been arranged.

We drove and drove and finally saw a truck stop with a cafe called: Tech Cafe

Keith was going to the bathroom, and I stayed out to take photos of a very cool looking piece of farm equipment with which I was unfamiliar, and a special sort of church. It was a non-mechanized something; the wheels turned freely by hand. What's it for??

Having grown up attending a Southern Baptist church, I know exactly what THIS is for:

In case it's too small to read, the smaller print says "We teach 'Jesus Saves'," and "A Ministry of Redbud Baptist Church."

The mail box was for prayer requests, and the blue sign to the left of the door is Romans 6:23, but it's not the King James translation.
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ, our Lord.

Wheelchair accessible:

I wanted to post all those photos above so people could see these things before we got to Kirby's house, so I got my computer out of the car and went into the Tech Cafe to meet Keith.

"The Tech Cafe" has a smoking room, all sealed off from the other part.
The Tech Cafe has no internet.
The Tech Cafe doesn't take charge cards; only cash or check.

The food was traditional, unadorned, and presented without any artistry, but it tasted great!