Posts tagged ‘home photos’

Dragonflies

Whatcha doin', Ma?

Our German shepherd, Diezel, is a bit of a nut job.  Due to overruse of a laser pointer when he was young, he is completely obsessed with the movement of shadows and “flashies.”  There are several things that he immediately comes running for, because he associates them with flashies that he can chase: opening a CD case, pulling out the tin foil, doing dishes in front of the kitchen window, opening the back door (since light from the window runs across the wall as you open and close it), and picking up a camera will all result in a big dog standing at attention on your feet, ears up, tail wagging, with a big doggie grin on his face.  And shadows are fair game too — you can spend hours waving your arms around like a flight controller and wiggling your fingers to keep him entertained.  And even when the flashy or the shadow is gone, he will still spend an hour or more at attention, waiting for it to come back.

Cara isn’t the least bit obsessive about that kind of thing, but she will get in on the act for a real laser pointer, or a flashy, if it is bright enough and persistent enough.  The thing that drives her crazy is flies.  We’ve had several in the house recently, and she will stand or sit on alert, totally still, ears cocked, waiting until the fly gets close enough for her to hear it again before she lunges towards the sound in an attack.  She can barely get her back legs off the ground when she jumps, but there are lots of jaws snapping shut on empty air during the assault.  And the funniest part of this is, for some unknown reason she is very concerned about the flies landing on her butt.  She keeps her tail clamped down, and sits down hard, tucking her butt up against the furniture or one of us, to make sure that it is protected, and she constantly looks back at her butt to make sure everything is okay.  Diezel also trys to snap up flies, but he’s not as determined or energetic as Cara is, and he doesn’t worry at all about butt defense.

One of the reasons for all the flies is the fact that I have been grilling a lot lately, and so there’s a lot of trips from the kitchen out the back door, which sometimes gets left open when my hands are full of cutting boards, tongs and plates.  And a fair amount of time has also been spent recently just hanging around next to the grill.  And I have noticed that, for some reason, we have a ton of dragonflies in our yard.  They zoom all around the yard to Diezel’s delight, but he doesn’t actually chase the dragonflies — instead, he chases their shadows flying over the grass.  We only have three saplings in our yard, and one of them was dead when we moved in, so there is plenty of sun to cast dragonfly shadows.

As I was waiting on my steaks to grill a few nights ago, and watching Diezel run hither and thither, I realized that our dead tree had become the perfect dragonfly perch.  It was like a little candelabra of dragonflies!  So I snapped a whole bunch of pictures.

And when a dragonfly zooms past Cara?  Well, she comes and sits down hard, right next to me, making very sure to protect her butt.

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New Loves

Cara and her new love(s)

A few months ago, T and I invested in a new couch.  We began the process by immediately agreeing that neither of us wanted a leather couch.  After visiting our favorite furniture salesman and sitting on about 20 different couches of all shapes, sizes, colors, fabrics and densities, we fell in love with a leather sectional.  And we are both thrilled!  It doesn’t hold on to dog hair, you can wipe the muddy pawprints off with a damp paper towel, it’s squishy but still somehow magically provides lumbar support, and the leather actually holds onto your body heat so you can snuggle in and be cozy even when the house thermostat has been set by someone who is obviously related to polar bears.  Plus, the sectional is long enough for T and I to both lay full-length with room left over, or for both of us and both dogs to sit together comfortably.  And it’s just the right size for our living room.  Really, it was a fantastic choice.

When the new couch came home, I decided to break out some throw pillows.  And then Cara fell in love.  If she is on the couch, which is most of the time, she HAS to be lying on the pillows.  She hugs them, as you can see from the picture above.  She tries to get all four paws onto them.  And she doesn’t like to share them.  If T decides to stretch out and put his head on a corner that she isn’t laying on, he suddenly gets a barrage of puppy kisses all over his head and face to try and make him move.  If Diesel is laying on one side of the pillows and I’m on the other side, she’ll shoehorn her 70-lb self into the space inbetween us, just so the pillows are all hers.  It’s pretty hilarious.

Now I guess we just need to find Diesel a new love.  An electronic chest-and-belly-scratcher, perhaps?

Santa Claus is Coming to Town

WARNING: For those of you who are sensitive about this topic, I am going to be discussing the true nature of Santa Claus.  So read further at your own peril.

tree

As I mentioned in a previous post, I celebrated every Christmas Eve at my grandparents’ house.  This meant that my family and I were in Rhode Island on Christmas Day every year, while our house, our tree, and — most importantly — our chimney were all in upstate New York, 365 miles away.  So I didn’t grow up with the experience of waking my parents before dawn on December 25th to see what Santa had left under our tree.  We had to wait until we got home.  We would usually stay in Rhode Island through the New Year, and then drive the 8 hours home along I-90.  When we got home, no matter what time of day or night it was, the Christmas tree lights would be lit, the stockings would be full, and presents would fill the space beneath our tree.  It was an extra layer of Christmas magic that could not be easily explained, since our parents were in the car with us the whole way home.

One year, I distinctly remember Santa coming early so that we could have Christmas before we drove to my grandparents’.  My mom, sister and I had gone out to buy some last-minute gifts, and when we got home, the tree that we had left off was lit in the middle of the day.  My mom first noticed this and pointed it out when we were in the driveway.  When we got inside, Santa had come early, just for us!  I immediately ran back outside, thinking that I would be able to see the reindeer’s tracks in the fresh snow on our roof — and they were there.  A single line of tracks, to be sure, and roughly squirrel-sized, but the poem says tiny reindeer, right?  It was proof enough for me.

angel

So every year, my sister and I went through the toy section of the thick department store catalogues that were sent to the house (anyone else old enough to remember this?), made out our Christmas lists, and then sent them off to Santa.  As my sister and I got older, belief in most of the pantheon of magical beings went by the wayside.  (I actually remember going to the principal of my elementary school with a few other kids in 2nd or 3rd grade to complain about a book in our classroom that debunked the Tooth Fairy myth.  We were trying to be morally outraged.  He was surprisingly unsympathetic.)  But we could never quite explain away Santa.

We took a crack at it one year.  My mom promised to tell the truth, if we guessed right.  Did my parents put the gifts under the tree while we were waiting for them in the car?  No, there clearly wasn’t enough time for that.  Did they hide the gifts with our neighbor Elaine, who always took care of our cats while we were gone, and have her put them under the tree?  No, they didn’t do that either.  Several minutes of questioning left us stumped.  There was no other explanation: Santa was real.

shadows

I remember walking home from school with my best friend Stacey at age 12, with the two of us comparing all of the evidence we had for the existence of Santa.  We compared traditions, told stories of the year we got a letter, or an ornament direct from Santa, complete with our names on them.  We were proving to ourselves that he could be real, willingly suspending a belief that most kids have grown out of by the time they get to that age.

So that year, or maybe even the next, my family came home from Rhode Island, and walked into a house that was cold and dark.  The stockings were empty.  The floor under the tree was bare.  I was shocked to see the house looking so desolate.  I turned to my mother and burst into tears.  She was surprised, and hugged me with a somewhat bewildered look on her face.  And then she reminded us that, years ago, she had told us Santa would stop coming to our house when we stopped believing in him.  I’m pretty sure I wailed something along the lines of, “I do believe in him!”  But she pointed out the simple fact that I had missed: this was the first year that neither my sister or I had made out a list for Santa.  And I realized that she was right, I deserved nothing under the tree, because for the first time I had forgotten about Santa.

ornaments

We went upstairs, gathered up all the wrapped presents, brought them downstairs, and filled the stockings.  It was a fine Christmas, once I got over the initial shock.  And I got used to walking into a dark house every year, and then bringing down the presents one at a time to put under the tree.  But I think there was a grain of truth hidden in what my mother said.  Santa only stops coming if you stop believing.  And I decided at a young age to believe. 

Because now, every year, I am excited to make and give gifts from my heart to the people I love, and to see the surprise and excitement on their faces when I manage to find exactly the right gift.  That’s my inner Santa at work.  And as long as you learn how to go from waiting for Santa, to being Santa, you know that he will be there every year, bringing the magic and the surprise of Christmas into your home.  At least, that’s what I believe.

Decorating the New House

I promised pictures of the house once I got it into order, and since I scrambled to get some decorating done before my family came, I should post some pictures of it now.  Some rooms are still unfinished, but this is what I was able to get done so far.

I started by going a little nuts with textiles and hanging pretty much every piece of my fairly extensive collection.  Most of my textiles are from Kyrgyzstan, but I have pieces from Peru, Panama, and Cameroon too.

Kyrgyz shyrdak upstairs

Kyrgyz souzani in the stairwell, Kyrgyz and Panamanian squares above

Kyrgyz shyrdak, knotted carpet and embroidery near front door

Cameroonian batik and elephant paintings in dining area

The first room we got set up was our bedroom, which is all in chocolate tones.  The walls are a kind of nasty, mustardy brown, but we needed to live in here, so we haven’t repainted it yet.  Note the curtain on the right hand side of the frame, which acts as a door to the master bath.  It’s actually a dark purple, but it blends pretty well with the browns in the room.  You can see I haven’t put anything on the walls or the shelves in there yet.

our bedroom

Then of course there is the guest room, that I repainted for my folks’ visit.  I’ve always wanted to do a room inspired by the colors of the winter sky, snow, and dry oak leaves, and I think I got something close, even though the blue walls are a lot more saturated than a winter sky.  I had some nice carved woodblock panels that I think go really well in this room.  I also had a couple of short shelving units that I think worked really well as bookshelves/bedside tables.

guest room

 We also set up the upstairs den as a kind of media center, since the projector, screen, and DVD player that came with the house are up there.  I moved in shelves of books, DVDs, and CDs to enjoy, with a few more tapestries and a painting I have.

media room

The futon usually goes in this room, and we have a recliner that we want to put up here too, so that folks have somewhere to sit if they want to watch a movie, or just read.  But my sister J needed someplace to sleep while she was visiting, so we moved the futon into the jungle room for her.  It’s a fairly small room, and the full-sized futon pretty much took up the whole space.  I wanted to get more up on the walls, but I don’t think J really minded. 

jungle room with futon

We want to keep the tree, even though it takes up a lot of space, because we plan on using this as a baby room in the future (knock on wood, tu-tu-tu).  But it will be our office/craft room in the meantime.  Once the futon gets moved back to the media room, I am planning on moving the card table and folding chair we bought for extra Thanksgiving seating up there to use.  It should help me get through all of the Christmas presents I need to make this year!

And speaking of Christmas presents, this weekend I was a knitting maniac.  Of the three knitted presents I am making, I finished one, got 90% of the way through a second, and halfway through a third.  But I have 10 more non-knitted presents to finish, and only about 15 crafting days before Christmas — yikes!

The new house: Before

So, I mentioned that I had really bad pics of the new house from when it was empty.  I ran around with my cell phone before the place filled up with boxes, but I forgot to turn on the lights before I took the pictures.  So here is the new place!  I swear, in real life it’s less red and has much better resolution. *smile*

The main floor is an open plan, with the living room on one end, the kitchen on the other, and a dining area in the middle.  The staircase is off the living room, and we have a great little gas fireplace too.  Oh, and Diezel wanted to get into the shot.

living room 1

 

Diezel in the living room

This photo doesn’t do the kitchen justice.  The cabinets are great, staggered depths with a rope light running along the top edge for soft lighting.  The back wall is papered with a brick-print wallpaper, which gives it a great touch. And there is a ton of counter space, plus a good-sized island with the potential for bar seating on the right-hand side.  Honestly, one look at this kitchen and I was in love!  The large dining area makes for plenty of room to sit down and eat, too. There’s a laundry room, a large pantry, and the garage off the kitchen to the right, and a door to the yard on the left.

kitchen and dining area

Upstairs, there is a den with built-in projector system, but it looks like I failed to get a shot of that.  It’s a nice, big open room with nothing in it right now, but I’ll be sure to include it in an “After” shot.  We also have another three rooms upstairs: the master suite, and two rooms that were kids’ rooms before. 

The master suite is smallish but very nice.  There’s a cool plastered wall in the bedroom, and they’ve carried it into the master bath.  The bathroom is really nice, with a small WC for privacy, a huge garden tub, and it opens onto a large walk-in closet.  The arch into the bathroom is lovely, but there’s no door to the bedroom — which makes T showering in there at 4 am while I’m trying to sleep a problem.  We’re planning on putting in a curtain to help block the light, but in the meantime, T is showering in the other bathroom upstairs.

master suite

vanity and garden tub

The little boy had a really great car and truck themed room, with diamond-plate-style flooring, toy truck tracks on the wall, and a piston lamp and other cool details.  That is going to get made over a little a turned into our guest room for now.  The other room was for their baby girl — a jungle, complete with a tree, rope lighting in bamboo along the tops of the walls, a black butterflies.  That’s going to be an office/crafts room for now, but we assume we’ll use it for a baby room again in the not-too-distant future, so we asked them to leave the tree (no pun intended  *smile*).  And there’s a second full bathroom that joins the two bedrooms, which is kinda nice.

guest room

office/craft room

T's bathroom (for now)

Once we get things organized, I’ll definitely post the “after” pics.  For now, just imagine the potential!