Sunday, December 13, 2009

Boomer Attempts to Be Her Mother's Daughter

Yesterday I sat in my big comfy living room chair, craft and seam ripper in hand thinking about my mom. She died in December 2003 but it was the craft that got me thinking, not the month.

The object of my affection is a 'garden tote bag'. The bag is an experiment, as most of my crafts are, but this one has no intended recipient. I just thought maybe I could do it. The book says it will take only 3-4 hours. I'm on day three. Day one just involved picking out the material and cutting the pieces. On day two I began sewing but stopped when a particular set of instructions just were not computing. On day three (yesterday) I read the instructions again and suddenly a light bulb went off (the aha moment as we say in the consumer research business) and I was able to complete the next several steps. Then the instructions seemed to inexplicably assume I knew what I was doing, leaving plenty to figure out on my own. So what do I do with the extra bottom piece? Why do I need to leave four inches unsewn? Shouldn't I be attaching the pockets in some way? I began to improvise and that's how I ended up in my chair with the seam ripper.

And that's when I thought about my mom. My mother was a very good seamstress, crafter, do-it-yourselfer kind of gal. I inherited her interest, but not her talent. She'd have been able to fill in the gaps easily. She was a puzzle solver.

I remembered a pillow I made a million years ago. I can see my mother showing it to one of her friends remarking on how I'd made it. She seemed prouder of that pillow than any grade I ever got in school. At some level I guess, you hope your kids are a little bit like you. Perhaps that pillow made her think, "Yes, she is my daughter!" I sometimes look at Teen and wonder if she picked anything up from me and I admit I perk up just a little bit more when I hear she got an A on a math test, my favorite subject in high school.

Today I will pick up those instructions and read them again. Perhaps I'll have another aha moment. Perhaps today mom will be up in heaven singing, "yes, she is my daughter!"

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Boomer Ponders the Joy of Gift Making

For the past couple of weeks I've been attempting to make a homemade gift for a cousin. I say attempting because the process has been anything but smooth. It has called into question whether a personally crafted gift is really worth all the effort. I am not particularly good at crafts. Lack the patience or the imagination. And I don't possess any artistic talents that I could apply to a gift, like photography or painting. But when I put my mind to it, I can at least complete something. And this particular gift recipient seems to appreciate the effort.

Last year my homemade gift was a purse. It turned out pretty cute, not that I expected the item to get used. My daughter received one too and I've never seen her use it. So my expectations on usefulness are appropriately set. I started out buying various project books. What I learned in the process about craft books is that there is usually only one to two projects you would really ever consider doing. The rest are either too difficult or too useless even for my lowered expectations.

I finally settled on an idea that I found in a sewing magazine. So much for all the books. It looked pretty cool and for a moment it even seemed like something someone could use. It's a scarf that calls for 5 layers of fabric, 3 straight seams and trimming the fabric with pinking shears.

Now let's examine this seemingly simple project more closely. First, I did not own pinking shears but $25 bucks later I did. The fabric was inexpensive, roughly $5-$8. But the fabric needed to be cut to a particular size and a rotary cutter was highly recommended. I did not own a rotary cutter. But another $25 bucks later I did, plus I also had a special cutting mat to go with it. Let's just call the spool of matching thread free. The directions also suggested temporary adhesive spray, but I figured straight pins would do just fine. So now I am highly invested in this gift. Granted the scissors and rotary cutter can be used on future imagined projects, but until then, the cost is all wrapped up in this one gift.

So I began my project with high expectations. Cut the fabric with my new rotary cutter. First problem: one of my fabric choices insisted on curling on the edge. But, hey, I can iron it flat later. I pinned the 5 layers of fabric together and managed to keep everything in line while I completed sewing the 3 seams. No problem. Then I began trimming the fabric as directed with the handy dandy pinking shears. The first fabric to be trimmed had a straight line design running through it. Easy to follow that line to cut the fabric. The next fabric did not have such a handy line. No sweat, I can eyeball a 1/4 inch! Problem two: I cannot eyeball 1/4 inch. My zigzag line was zigging and zagging all over the place. Problem three: I am not patient. I mentioned that before right? I learned, if you try to pink your scissors too fast, (is that something I made up?), you can accidently pick up the fabric below and cut a hole in it where you don't want one. Problem four: that curling fabric would not lay flat, even after pressing. When I was all done, I had a sort of interesting looking but not gift-worthy scarf.

So I wrote that scarf off as good practice and went to the store to buy 5 more pieces of fabric. This time, I was careful to pick out some that would not curl. And I invested in a disappearing pencil for marking the fabric's cutting lines, approximately $4. I started this version with great confidence. Cut my fabric then pinned it together. Only this time, I got a bit of a slip when making my 3 seams. Oh well, I can fix that problem later. Then I began the careful process of measuring my pinking scissor lines. Pain in the you know what, and not so great on dark fabic, but have to admit my lines were much straighter. I was on the last step, pinking merrily away, but my hand was hurting and my neck was hurting. Who knew crafting could be so painful? I was getting a bit impatient. Remember, not my strength. And right in the middle of that final trim? You guessed it. I picked up a piece of the underlying fabric and 'pinked' it, leaving a hole right in the middle of the scarf. Now I was not only in pain, I was beside myself with frustration and now heavily invested in a scarf that once again was not giftable. But I won't give up. I've bought another round of fabric and I'm going to try one more time after I buy that temporary adhesive, approximately $12 and a pencil for marking on dark fabric, another $4.

Yesterday I saw some beautiful colorful, ready-made scarfs on sale for $15 and wondered about the choices I sometimes make.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

A Thing of Beauty

Today I put away my laundry. I had been admiring it for several days before actually putting it away.

When Hubby took over most of the household duties, it became clear that there are things he believes must be done right and things he believes don't need to be done at all. Laundry is one of those things that must be done right. First each item is inspected for spots and sprayed with spot remover. Then if there's any cat hair on the item, and with two cats that's pretty much a forgone conclusion, he runs the lint roller over it. Once the item is washed and dried, he folds it. That's where he is truly an artist. Me? I just quickly make a couple of tucks and I'm done. Hubby places the item flat on the table then with each fold he creases the item flat with his hand. He even has a special tri-fold that he uses for his shirts so that they fit perfectly in his drawer. Those piles of clean laundry are a thing of beauty when he's done.

And he does it day after day and never complains.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Repeat, If Desired

When I get up in the morning, I am seldom very awake. It is not unusual for me to stand in the shower for 15 minutes, get out, then realize I never picked up the soap or the shampoo bottle. Or, as is more often the case, after 15 minutes, come out of my fog, then wonder what I've done. At those times, I pick up my shampoo bottle, try to observe whether it is wet, hence indicating I may have already washed my hair, and generally just "repeat", just to be sure.

This got me thinking. Remember when the shampoo bottle said, "lather, rinse and repeat?" I'm quite sure that's what it said because I always wondered why you needed to shampoo twice. Clearly this was a way to get consumers (me) to use up more shampoo. Did anyone actually follow those directions? Now the bottle reads, "repeat, if desired". Perhaps that means the shampoo marketers still want to use up the bottle but don't want to suggest there's really any need to shampoo again. Someone somewhere must have complained.

If they want to capture true consumer behavior, they should change the label to read "repeat, just in case."

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Boomer Thinks Birthdays Are Special

Today is Teen's 15th birthday. I took her to piano class tonight and she was her usual uncommunicative self. But when I asked her whether anyone had wished her a happy birthday today, she opened up a bit. Apparently there was one kid at school who announced the news throughout the day and got others to sing happy birthday to her. I was secretly glad to hear a little fuss was made. Teen puzzled why people thought birthday's were a big deal. She figured the only big birthdays were 18 and 21 because those ages signified reaching adulthood in some way. As usual, thinking about how fast she can grow up. She said birthday's were just another day.

Me? I love my birthday. Always have. Growing up it was just a chocolate birthday cake and a little present or card. Nothing fancy. I only remember having one birthday party. I got a set of sparkle paints and people were jumping on the bed. In my view (here comes a view folks), your birthday is the one and only day that is all about you and that's what makes it special. Not on your wedding day. You have to share that with the groom. Not when you graduate from school because you've got to share the spotlight with the rest of your classmates. Not Christmas for sure. It's the one day you get to add another number to your age and although getting older has its downsides, as people say, "it's better than the alternative." I shared my view with Teen. On the surface she remained unconvinced.

We celebrated Teen's birthday tonight with a little vegan dessert and a nice vegan dinner. She got a couple of little presents. I gave her a mushy card. Her father gave her a silly card. I think she appreciated both. She protested when we lit the candles and started singing happy birthday, but I detected a little smile. I gave her a hug and she didn't pull away.

I hope secretly she loves her birthday.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Boomer Needs to Come Up With Views

Given my blog is called A Boom With a View, I need to start coming up with some. So I am now pondering upon what subject matter shall I focus my attention. I suppose I can keep it random. Just whatever strikes my fancy. However, if I am more specific then I can dive deep into the subject matter.

For now I think I shall stick to the randomness. Deep subject matter dives might require me to do homework. For now I'd prefer to be the non-expert who speaks only from personal beliefs and experience.

However if someone would like my view on a particular topic, I would be happy to oblige, provided I have one.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Men and Work

There was an article in the paper recently that said that soon there will be more women working than men. Men have been losing jobs more than women in this down economy. But, it also went on to say that colleges are graduating more women than men. Presumably, this means more men will be staying home taking care of the house and kids. And I've also read that younger men are more used to sharing household duties with the woman.

Now, if you read my bio, you'd know that my Hubby already stays home. I wonder if the next generation of stay at home dads will be different than my Hubby. He's been an at-home dad for 14 years. And it's been a deliberately chosen path. Yet, even today, if someone asks him what kind of work he does, he says, "I'm a semi-retired lawyer." The little devil on my shoulder always thinks, wonder where the check is from the part that's not retired. The nicer side of me just wonders why he feels compelled to answer in this way. If the roles were reversed, I'd have no problem saying I took care of my kids and the household.

Is there really such a stigma on a stay-at-home dad that he can't admit it? Will the next generation of dads feel the freedom to admit their choice proudly?

Husband Tortures Wife with Keebler Cookies

I have gained a bit of weight over the years. It is partly due to my inability to control my sweet tooth. My doctor just told me that I need to ask myself at every meal, how can I make this a little better. That's what I'm trying to do. But it doesn't help that Hubby brought home two packages of my favorite Keebler Fudge Stripe Cookies.

Yes, folks, the same cookies that were my downfall while I was on my own for a week this summer. I asked him why he got them and he said, because they were two for one. Now if only the calories were cut in half like the price, all would be just fine.

He also bought ginger snaps. I have allowed myself to occasionally eat two little ginger snap cookies. They are 35 calories each. I savor each little gingery bite.

Still they don't measure up to Fudge Stripes.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Welcome New Readers

It's quite possible you are reading this blog for the first time. You will find it is full of pretty much nothing except my ponderings. It's a bit like talking to yourself.

However, if in the course of reading anything here that interests you, please feel free to tell me. I might think of something else to say about the subject. Like my teen or my tomatoes or my cats or my tree activism.

And don't forget to vote for my next National Park vacation spot. It's a close race.

Boomer Explores Tomato Uses

Another riveting post about my tomatoes. Despite the fact that two of my plants were pummeled to the ground by rain, they still produced a lot of tomatoes. Like others in the tomato growing profession, we now have too many tomatoes. I've handed them out to three neighbors. Bill has cooked up lots of tomato sauce and we've sliced and diced for a variety of uses.

I had one tomato that looked like a miniature pumpkin. Here it is for your tomato viewing pleasure.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Boomer Experiments with Adding Photos to Posts

I need to learn how to dress up my blog. Call me slow, but I just noticed a symbol that indicates I can add a photo or video to my post.

So I'm adding a photo of my cats. I have two. First there's Emmy, the Million Dollar Cat. Emmy was adopted soon after my 18 year old cat died. It was not kitten season and we wanted a kitten so the pickings were slim. Hubby insisted we study up on how to choose a healthy cat and learn which ones would be quiet. We ended up with Emmy, a part Siamese (otherwise known as whining cat) with ringworm and intestinal worms. I can only say that Hubby was the one that said let's take her, not me. It took a while to diagnose all the problems. The vet bills and the daily washing gave her her nickname.

Because of the whining Bill thought maybe a friend would keep her occupied. So we went in search of a 2nd kitty. We adopted her from the local Humane Society and she was just what Bill wanted in the first cat. Healthy and quiet. We called her Zori, a female Zoro, because of the mask on her face. And she's always jumping from here to there and breaking things (but quietly.) The two cats became good friends and do occupy each other a bit. But Emmy is still a whiner and, by the way, loves Hubby.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Teen Speaks About First Week of High School

My normally uncommunicative teen has been full of blab this week. She just finished her first week of high school. I'm enjoying it while I can by taking advantage of the opportunity to pick her up from school. That time in the car is precious. Just say hello and wait to see what she does with the silence. So far she's filled it.

Before school started her focus seemed be on whether a class would be challenging or not. This week, it's been all about the social aspect of high school. I'm not surprised. I still recall my first day of high school. It is etched in my memory. I had the most awful looking cold sore on my mouth. Spent the entire day with my hand on my face trying to hide it, yet at the same time be friendly enough to meet and talk with my new classmates.

This week Grace has been most excited to tell me about the new friends she's met. She strategized how she was going to talk to a boy in one of her classes that she recognized from a summer camp. She joined the swim team, our biggest surprise yet. And her favorite class has changed daily, though English looks like it's going to take the permanent lead. The teacher is a vegetarian and hence a kindred spirit to my vegan daughter.

Swim team practice runs till 6:00 p.m. so I should be able to continue picking her up from school until the season is over. Can't wait to hear about week two.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Boomer Venture Into Local Politics Eye Opening

This morning I met with the Environmental and Zoning Committee for our local neighborhood. I joined it because of the sad demise of so many elm trees in our neighborhood. I learned the committee covers a much broader spectrum of issues.

But before going into that, I have to reveal Stupid Act #1 in my local politics career. After letting the committee head know that I prefer afternoon meetings to morning meetings, I was told that I was in the minority and the meeting would be at 7:00 a.m-9:00 a.m. anyway. I explained that I was pretty much worthless till about 10:00 but I'd be there. So I show up to the meeting at 7:00 a.m. and no one is there. By 7:25 I'd given up and gone home and shot off a note saying "The only thing I hate more than a 7:00 a.m. meeting is a 7:00 a.m. meeting where I'm the only one that shows up." By 12 noon that same day, I realized that I had shown up on the wrong day. Did I feel stupid or what? Worse yet, I had to get up for the same 7:00 a.m. meeting today.

So back to the meeting. Topics: property taxes, designating the neighborhood as a preservation or conservation district, improving the looks of businesses operating in the neighborhood, allocating money for neighborhood parks vs. walking trails, and the elm trees. Funding and money often came up. I started thinking... politics is a little about sticking your nose in other people's pocketbooks. Well meaning but dangerous. So far all I have to do is write an article for the local neighborhood paper talking about my elm tree experience.

That won't cost anyone anything. Feels safe.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Boomer Prepares to Save Neighborhood Trees

I am generally not a joiner. But at a recent neighborhood party I began to talk about the sad state of our Elm trees in the neighborhood. When a tree is identified as having Dutch Elm disease, the city paints a big orange ring on the tree with a giant letter A. These are the trees that are cut down. Reminds you a bit of The Scarlett Letter. And every summer I note a few more orange rings of death and this year was particularly saddened by the death of an absolutely gorgeous, huge, magestic tree one block up the street. We vaccinate our elm tree and (knock on tree wood), it seems to be working. We're one of the few elms left on our block.

Little did I know I was speaking to the committe head for our Neighborhood Environment, part of the Lowry Hill Neighborhood Association. I was immediately drafted. So, this coming Wednesday at 7:30 a.m., I'm going to my first meeting. I don't know what I'll be doing, but I've been forced to put my energy where my mouth is though at that hour of the morning, not sure about the energy level.

Perhaps I'll find that neighborhood activism agrees with me.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Boomer Gets Ready to Blog with the Bloggers

I created this blog after being inspired by reading the blogs of over 25 mom bloggers. First, I wanted to see how hard it was to set one up, because maybe I might want to blog about something someday. Second, I thought it would be an interesting way to introduce myself to these same bloggers who are coming to visit General Mills next week.

I hope I am a little more interesting than my blog would suggest.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Boomer Finishes Keebler Cookies. Ready for Family to Come Home

Well, I've polished off all the Keebler Cookies. I've watched all my movies. And, I haven't done any exercise in a week.

I think it's time to get back to normal and get my Teen and Hubby back home. Am thinking I might be a better person with them around.

One more night then a big homecoming on Saturday.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Tornado Waters Lawn

Today a tornado came close to home, apparently causing a little havoc at the nearby convention center. While tornado's are generally not something to be grateful for, I can appreciate its lawn watering properties.

The grass, flower pots, and garden are all nice and wet. I only wish I had not spent the evening before carefully moving the sprinkler around the yard as instructed by my Camping Husband. I could have instead watched my latest Netflix movie. (I'm on movie #3 for the week.)

The water isn't all good though. Two tomato plants have been overcome with water weight. They were a bit too top heavy and the water just pulled them over. I attempted to lift them back up but the weight is too much. So I've placed things in front of them in hopes that they'll stay a little upright while they dry out. I also picked a lot of tomatoes that were orange to red in color, just to make sure they were 'saved'. Now I have to figure out what to do with them since I don't cook much and frankly don't really like tomatoes that much.

Hey, but it's still cool to grow them.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Boomer Succumbs to Keebler Fudge Stripe Cookies

I haven't even made it through an entire day by myself yet and already I've succumbed to poor dietary habits.  

Went to Target to pick up just a couple of things.  Like all good Target shoppers, I ended with a basketful, including Keebler Fudge Stripe Cookies.  I've already eaten half the package.  Also picked up a little bean dip, chips, and pretzels (the nod to health).  I replaced the package of ice cream mix that I considered for my ice cream maker, so I wasn't completely without willpower.  

At least 5 Target employees asked if they could help me find something.  Did I look lost or is it a sign of the economic times at Target?     When I mentioned to the checkout man that I'd only planned to buy 3 things, he said something like "necessity brings you in and want fills the basket"..only it was a lot more scripted than that.  Made me wonder what they're teaching their people.     While it was true, it didn't seem an appropriate thing for an employee to tell me they know if they can just get me into the store, I'll buy things I don't need.

But the cookies are sure good.

Husband Entrusts Partner with Yard Care

Bill has left for the Boundary Waters but not without first giving me complete instructions on how to water the lawn.    This isn't the first time I've been given these instructions and I'm sure it won't be the last.  I always let him do it because it gives him peace of mind.    Our yard is about the size of a postage stamp but the lawn, what little there is, is his pride and joy.  So I was told exactly where to place the sprinklers and how long to run them, shown the 'hard to reach' spots for hand watering, advised as to which plants, when wilted, would indicate the need to water, and reminded not to forget the hanging baskets and pots.    He forgot to mention the indoor plants. Must be signs of age.

It rained.  Oh well, guess I'll just have to wait till tomorrow to start all the fun.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Boomer Picks Tomatoes in Back Yard

Yes, it's that time of year when my garden tucked in a corner next to the house begins to produce.  I like to pretend I'm a farmer when I begin to harvest.     After picking something, I carry it into the house and announce, "I've just been out in the garden harvesting and look what I have!"

But here's the problem:  when do you know when to pick a green bean or a jalapeno pepper?  I can tell when it's too late but not when it's just right.  Tomatoes are easier.  They turn nice and red.   

By this time I've forgotten what we paid for a plant.  As I picked my green beans I wondered, how many green beans would I have to pick to break even on the plant?    That kind of takes the fun out of it though, so I don't ponder that question much.

We put the garden in the year the Teen decided she wanted to grow her own vegetables.  Fit with her then vegetarian (now vegan) new outlook on life.  So Bill, her dedicated father, dug out my flowers, planted the veges of her choice, and that's about the last time she had anything to do with the garden.   

Husband Seeks Manly Time in the Woods

Bill is getting ready for his annual Boundary Waters adventure with his buddy Dan.    His plan is to keep at it until he turns 70.  After that?

Now I like the great outdoors as much as anyone, but I prefer my bathrooms in-doors, my beds comfy and a screen to guard against mosquitos.   Every once in a while, when we're hiking in a National Park, I weaken and say, I'd go camping with you in a beautiful place like this.    He, so far, has not taken me seriously.

It hasn't always been this way.  I've given it the ole' college try.  And what did I get?  Downpours which forced us to spend most of our time in a small tent and 45 degree weather in the middle of August.   This is not how vacations should be spent.  This is not what I consider fun.

But it's fun for him and I'm all too happy to let him take off for a week.    Grace will be at camp and I'll be working.   Next year, I'm thinking a short trip with my gal pals may be in order.