Saturday, June 30, 2012

My Summer So Far.

First, the weather.
That's usually a good conversation starter.
Here is a picture of the environment currently.

Bone.  Dry.
And not just dry, but also extremely hot.  We hope and pray that this will end soon.  It has to end soon.

My life has been pretty filled to the brim lately.  I'm almost as busy now as I am during the school year, minus homework.  I've been juggling five part-time jobs plus a fragment of a life.  ;)  It's been difficult, but it's not without its joys and rewards.  I gave a short speech at a bicentennial last Sunday in honor of my hometown's founder.  Besides speaking in front of 120 people (gulp!) it was actually rather fun.  I got to dress up and act as our founder's wife!   Secretly (not so much anymore I guess) I've always wanted to act, but I'm not usually one to stand up in front of people and talk.  I'm not going to lie; it was very nerve-racking.  My hands were shaking and I didn't speak quite as loudly as I could have.  But that's okay. The whole commemoration went on very well, which is the important thing.

In between house cleaning, research, babysitting, and docenting (is that a word?) I've been attempting to do some fun things as well.  I received a bunch of leftover yarn from a friend of mine which I have organized into two three-drawer containers.  My yarn storage is much more appealing than it was!  I can't wait to knit up all the ideas that I have in my head right now, especially one in particular. But that will have to wait. :)

For now, I have this to show you.  

Tissue-paper covered jars. Oh. Yeah.
The girl I babysit is eight years old so we've been doing different craft projects.  Some of you might remember "Molly's Craft Book" from American Girl.  We had a blast with with the tissue-paper covered jars.  It's practically free, since all you need are leftover jars, colored tissue paper, and glue.
I found out the other day that the big jar I have is perfect for holding the small yarn balls I have recently been knitting with.  It won't tip over, the yarn stays nice and clean, plus I don't have to constantly unwind the ball of yarn.  A simple tool, but sometimes those are the best. 

Until next time my friends. :)

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Tunnel Hill Trail

 On Wednesday, I went with my dad and brothers on a bike trail called Tunnel Hill Trail.  The trail is about an hour's drive away from our house.  We left as early as we could to take advantage of the cooler morning air.

The trail was quite lovely, but before I can show you just how beautiful it is, I must first show you how much work went into it.

Yes, five bikes and a large water cooler were packed into the back of my family's 12-passenger van.  It worked out quite nicely.  You can tell that Dad has done this kind of thing before. ;)

The evening before the ride, shortly after we made the plans, I decided that I needed a new bike.  The one I rode before I've had for about eight years and was in rough shape.  That, and I wanted one that fits my personality.  
I found this.  I knew without a doubt that this was indeed my new bicycle. 

The ride itself was nice.  We got there at about eight in the morning, so everything was still fresh and new.  My brothers spotted several deer (they were farther ahead than I was at that point).  The first one they saw was a doe.

Then all of a sudden, a tiny, long-legged creature came out of nowhere:

It was a fawn! 
It was amazing to see such a small animal with such energy!
Fawns are so adorable.

A few miles later, Brother #3 stopped short on the trail.  He apparently had just barely missed a turtle. 
Dad picked up the little guy, who quickly receded into his shell. 

 You can see just how tiny he was.  I think he was a small snapping turtle, but I'm not sure.

Here are some pictures of the trail itself.  It was nice and shady for a good part of the ride. 

I forgot to mention earlier that this trail was originally a railroad.  There are several trestle bridges, with this one being the largest.

We were up pretty high!

We came to the end shortly after we went through the longest tunnel.  

I meant to take pictures inside the tunnel, but the first time we went through it took all my strength just to get through it.  That, and it was really dark in the middle.   I took video when we went through it the second time, but it was pretty shaky.
So, this is pretty much all I have of the tunnel itself:

 Not bad for taking the picture over my shoulder while riding away from the tunnel, eh? ;)

The trail was longer than any I have ever covered before.  It was ten miles one way, up a slight grade.  It was an endurance run, that is for sure.
But it was worth it.


Sunday, June 17, 2012

A Hobbes for my Dad.

 So for quite some time now, my dad has been asking me to make him a stuffed Hobbes.  Hobbes was one of the main characters in the comic strip Calvin and Hobbes that appeared from the mid 80's to the mid 90's or so.  To all unsuspecting humans, Hobbes looks like an ordinary stuffed tiger.  To Calvin though, Hobbes is alive and real like any other person.

Dad showed me an Instructables pattern gives step-by-step instructions on how to make your own Hobbes.  It is a great tutorial, very thorough and chock-full of pictures.  I printed out the pattern and began work.

The pattern didn't list any specific yardage for the fabric, so I guessed about half a yard each of orange, black, and white.  I used smooth broadcloth instead of fleece so that it would last longer and look better. 

The first thing I sewed was the tummy with my sewing machine.  I sewed as much as I could with the machine, because I had a lot of hand sewing to do.

I also put some beads in the end of the tail to weigh it down.  The tail actually became quite useful in the end, because it helps balance Hobbes so he can sit up.

Here he is all laid out before I sewed on the appendages.  

In fact, that picture kinda reminds me of this Calvin and Hobbes strip, one of my personal favorites:
Cracks me up every time!

And here is Hobbes in all his glory!

Happy Father's Day, Dad!  I love you so much!

Another strip for good measure.  ;)

Sunday, June 10, 2012

How College Ruined My Ability to Read

For the first nineteen years of my life, I read and enjoyed reading.
Now that I have entered college, however, that enjoyment has ended.
College has ruined the way I read.

Let me explain:
When one is taking five three-hour classes, it is next to impossible to have any reading time between class, homework, and work.  It is extremely difficult to read continually, because the time allotted for reading is often hurried and short.  One cannot remember enough of the previously read pages to continue reading.  This is because there have been a million other things passing in and out of one's head since the last time the book was picked up.

 I'm not just talking about reading for enjoyment.  One would think that textbooks are there to be read, but in my limited experience, this is sometimes hardly necessary at all.  I ask you, why have the textbooks, if one does not have to read them?
If one does read the readings for class, it is often in a hurried and harried manner, and leads to the necessity of taking notes.
This lead me to my next grievance.

Taking notes is a recent problem I have developed.  I have borrowed several history books from the university library to prepare for the fall semester.  In order to remember everything, it has been suggested to me that I should take notes as I read.

This, my friends, is the most devastating problem of what college has done to me.

I can no longer just read a book.  No.  I must now learn something from it.  Gone are the days of  passive reading, of reading for no purpose at all.  Gone are the days of happily and foolishly reading simply for its own sake.  Gone are the days of reading, "Little House on the Prairie" series simply "for fun.   Now I must figure out the characters' motives, the author's thesis, and why in the world Queen Victoria married Prince Albert in the first place.

I must (sob!) actively read.

This summer, I have joined a study group for "The Fellowship of the Ring," the first book in the Lord of the Rings trilogy.  There too are we encouraged to think outside the box, to understand in some small part what the author might be conveying to us, and to (gasp!) take notes.

Most intolerable.

But lest my friends of the Fellowship think I do not like them or the purpose of our study, let me say this:

I would not have it any other way. 
I love diving deeper into books.  I can no longer just read them.  I want to understand why characters act the way they do, what the setting of the story is, and what the author is trying to tell us.  For if one person thought it was worthwhile to write an entire book on a single subject, it is worthwhile for us readers to delve a bit deeper into it.
To actively read is to take part in any book.
This is one of the great lessons that college has taught me.  Reading for class does not always have to be a drag, but neither does the book I read last week need to be forgotten.
Read to learn.

"I can't imagine a man really enjoying a book and reading it only once."  ~C.S. Lewis

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

18th Century Pockets!

A really long time ago, before there were such things as Levi's Jeans, there were pockets.  In the eighteenth century (and probably before), women wore pockets underneath their skirts.  Their skirts had slits on the side that made it easy to reach their pockets.  The pockets were separate from their dresses, and were tied around the waist.
I decided to make my own pockets this past weekend.  I work as a docent (history enthusiast who gives tours at historic places).  The house I work at is actually an interpretive center that is a replica of a house built around 1795.

Here are a set of pockets in the process of being put together.

This pocket is more of a work-in-progress.  I lined the front part of the pocket so that the slit would look nice.  Here it is from the inside.

I took long strips of off-white (also called "unbleached") cotton muslin to make the ties.

Here is the set of pockets completed.  I made two sets, one for myself and another for a fellow docent.  This set is for my friend.  I made a casing at the top of the pockets so that they could be adjusted along the tie.

Here is my set, complete with iPod to show the size. ;)
 Some people insist that they were worn on the outside of the skirt, but I beg to differ.  I mean, if I have a lot of things in my pockets (and believe me, I probably will), I'd much rather others not see my bulging pockets. ;)

Have a great week!

A Circle With A Dot.

Yesterday, June 5th, was a momentous day in astronomy history.  Venus, the brightest planet (often seen as a bright "star" on the horizon in the evening) made a special appearance.
For seven hours, she stood between us and the Sun, casting her infinitesimal shadow on Earth.
I had to take a picture. ;)

Venus can be seen on the lower right-hand corner of the Sun's image.
On this next picture, the top two arrow are pointing to barely-seen sunspots, and the lowest one is pointing to Venus' shadow. 

How did I get such pictures, you ask?  Well my brother found instructions to take a pair of binoculars and set them on a tripod.  

The binoculars shrink the image of the Sun, making it possible to view Venus' crossing on a piece of paper. The cardboard is to shade the area around the binoculars so that it's easier to see the Sun on the paper. 

It worked pretty well, don't you think?

A photo of the actual Sun, for good measure. ;)

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Blog Button!

Hello again, everyone!
Thanks to my terrific and awesome brother, I now have a blog button!
If you have a blog, please share it! You'll be awesome forever! ;)
Have a great week!

History via posters

A few days ago, I received a bunch of old certificates and posters from a friend of mine.  Some of them are quite old: the oldest dating back to 1907!  As you can imagine, it is a pleasure to have such old pieces.  The pieces were apparently rolled up for some time, so I had to weigh the top and bottom of each piece down so that I could take a picture.
The first two pictures are of a First Communion certificate from 1907.  If you look closely, the certificate is in German.  Most people in my neck of the woods are of German descent, including myself.  

 The certificate is pretty rough around the edges (literally), but the colors are still vibrant and the gold embossing shows up nicely.
Here is a close up of the German words.  Pretty cool, eh?  The small picture on the left is an angel staying the hand of Abraham to prevent him from sacrificing Isaac.  On the right looks like a depiction of the early Church during the holy sacrifice of the Mass.

With a few exceptions, the certificates were the only ones that had dates on them.  Figuring out the dates for every one will take some time.  I will have to do some research online using publishers' names.  Hopefully I can find something!

 This Last Supper poster is much smaller in comparison.  The artist's name is Schmidt, a German name if ever there was one. ;)
This picture is a copy of a pencil drawing by someone named Athanese, I think.  It was difficult to read the handwriting.

What follows are lithograph posters.  At the moment, I'm assuming that all of them are lithographs, because several of them were labeled as such.

Here we have a classic "Good Shepherd" poster.  

This Nativity scene poster is very beautiful.  

This poster of the children and their guardian angel is one of my favorites.  The colors are so pretty.  

Very true. :)

This is a scene from one of my favorite Bible stories.  It's a relief to know that even St. Peter had problems trusting God. ;)
The sides of the poster look warped.  This is because the poster curves inward from being rolled up.

The solemnest moment of all history: the Crucifixion.

This is another one of my favorites.  The saint pictured is Saint Cecilia playing the organ.  She is the patron saint of music and musicians.  The photo does not do justice to the color quality of the poster.  It is gorgeous. 

This "Good Shepherd" poster was very, ahem, curly.  I also laugh every time I see the sheep of the left of Jesus sticking his tongue out.

 This last one is probably the worst quality photo I took of the entire set.  Oh well.  There is however a copyright date of 1911.  One hundred years old!

It was fun to play archivist this afternoon.  I'm not sure how I'm going to fix the curled-edge problem.  Ideally, I would frame each and every one of them, but my bedroom only has so much wall space, never mind the rest of the house. ;)