Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Hero Vanishes

He wasn't the smartest man in the world. It came as sort of a blow to me. I remember the day I discovered it. I was up the street at the house of a friend; I think I was about ten.  We were watching his dad work on the car. (I remember that we used to watch people DO things, do kids watch anything anymore besides screens of one sort or another?) His father was explaining to us, as my dad had often done for me, in great detail how some part of the engine worked and while he was talking...it hit me.  Something that had never occurred to me before, "What if all the dads know that?" And then, "I'll bet all the dads DO know it."

And just like that all kinds of things that had been impossible before became possible. It was possible that sometimes my mother was right when they disagreed (I doubt it was ever TRUE but it was possible) and that he didn't always know the answer to my question. It was possible that he could be scared or intimidated.  It was possible he wasn't always telling me the truth or giving me the best advice.

Something in the world, in my world, shifted that day and it could never shift back.  The hero didn't entirely vanish but as years went on I saw more and more realistically and somewhat unfairly, through the eyes of a teenage girl who was sometimes embarrassed by his corny jokes and goofy antics, a real man emerge.  The new man wasn't the smartest or the toughest, but he was honest, dependable, and faithful to the end. All of which sounds very heroic, now that I think of it.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Den Redo...Done!

So except for a couple of little details the den makeover is complete. It was a bigger project than we thought. Reorganizing everything and moving 2 entire rooms of stuff was a much more complicated job than it looks like here.
After: Finally!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Mix the Chemicals! STAT!

They see me pull into the parking lot and they clear the way.  It's really bad this time; the situation is grim. Someone opens the door and I can tell by the look on her face I've scared her. A few people are staring as my helper comes toward me in her white coat. She's yelling questions now. "Why did you wait so long? Have you been walking around like that?"  She turns her head to ask for some assistance...she can barely stand to look at me.

I have to admit when I see myself in the mirror, under this lighting; it is gruesome. I've waited a little too long to get my color done, my hairdresser is slightly irritated. She looks at this strand, then that, and scurries off to mix up my color.  I'm in the chair facing the mirror face to face with reality.  She comes back calmer and starts the process of coloring and highlighting as we joke about the fact that my husband won't notice I've had my hair done until he balances the checkbook.  I tried yellow polish on my toes last spring and after 2 weeks when he hadn't mentioned it, I pointed it out.  "That's not the part of your anatomy I notice necessarily".  Well, what can I say?  At least he's honest.

We chat about celebrity gossip while she adds foil to my head and makes me look like an alien.  I hold a magazine I can't read because I refuse to add reading glasses to this already macabre scene. Invariably a man comes in for a haircut and ends up in the chair next to mine. Oh yes, let's do complete the humiliation. Next up, dryer time.  I can now sit in my living room and watch a movie beamed to my TV from space but the dryers at the salon have not changed since my mother wore a pill box hat.  They haven't improved, they aren't smaller or more attractive, and they sure aren't quieter. That isn't always a bad thing, though; it keeps the little old lady next to me from trying to tell me about her cat in between dozing off.

 Finally the shampoo and conditioning which almost makes the whole ordeal worthwhile, then the blow out.  My word, this woman is a miracle worker! My hair is smooth and shiny and gorgeous. I want to cry because I know 2 things: First, my hair will not look this good until I sit in this chair again.

Why can we NEVER recreate the look at home? Second, I will not see anyone I know today.  Remember when I posted about getting reading glasses and entitled it, "I'm Whining, Okay?" well...lather, rinse, repeat.

Friday, September 10, 2010

How To Start Composting


I don't know about you but I feel guilty about the amount of food that gets thrown away at my house. Experts say Americans throw away about 40% of our food. One thing that we can all do, besides not over buying at the grocery, is to compost our raw fruits and veggies that somehow wilted in the back of the fridge before we got around to eating them. 

Here's how it works at my house. See those eggshells? They came from my chickens, that I fed lettuce and weeds from my garden (along with the thousands of bugs they forage every day). The lettuce and other extras from the garden or the kitchen that my chickens ate  daily were fertilized with the compost I worked on last year. One of the main ingredients in my compost pile is the manure (along with pine shavings) from the coop. That little cycle thing? That's the beautiful part.

 This is the handy compost bucket I keep under the sink. It has a charcoal filter in the lid which keeps it from smelling.

make pallets into compost bins

If you keep chickens then composting is the best use of the manure and used shavings.

Not only food scraps go in but also full vacuum bags, ashes from the fireplace, grass clippings, leaves, weeds, waste from the coop, and coffee grounds. You don't just toss your additions on top of the pile, you need to mix them in so as not to attract unwanted visitors. Occasionally water and turn your pile and you'll be rewarded with beautiful black, nutrient dense compost that your garden will love.

There are some very nice and unobtrusive compost bins on the market; I just made the one at the top of this post out of some pallets and held it all together with strong wire. Since then someone has given me a sleeker black one that can sit inside the garden. The compost pile is a perfect place to empty the contents from your shredder.

There is a little science to it, so here's a link to more about that.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Fireplace Facelift

I am in possession of a quality that women find practically repulsive in men, but men find very attractive in women; I'm cheap. So when I was busy making over our den (Do you remember those dreadful "before" photos?) I was most excited about a new set of fireplace doors. Something bronzy looking, with rich details, hand crafted...INSANELY EXPENSIVE.  Actually I didn't know about the last part until I went to look. Browsing casually around the local fireplace shop my husband passed a set that looked tolerable but not anything I could write home on my blog about. "This says 1200 dollars."  I strolled smugly over to see for myself...(okay I didn't believe him) and stifled a scream. That was the price. We were oh so politely informed by the salesman, who was obviously operating under the "one born every minute" premise, that that was just "stock" and we looked like we would want something "custom" (I suspect this was code for "you two look really stupid").  I told him in no uncertain terms "No, no, we are just browsing here, what we are actually shopping for is some heat resistant black paint." Which, of course, wasn't a lie because it had just that very moment become the truth.

 All things considered (mainly a savings of around 1180 bucks) I think this looks fabulous, don't you? Don't even get me started on how it killed me to pay 20 dollars for a can of spray paint.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

To Be Imperfectly Honest...

Once again we have had someone in the public eye complain about having their image manipulated in a way that they find offensive.   Just for fun, let's see how it works. Here's a photo I snapped of myself:

Original photo.
 Now, my daughter likes to tell me when she sees me doing this that when people see me in person I'm going to scare them. She is probably right. So if you see me in person feel free to run away screaming. I will understand completely.

What DIDN'T I do to this one?
It is amazingly easy to misrepresent ourselves in our techno fun filled world, isn't it? In the second image I amped the color, played with shadows and highlights, and used the softening feature to make that "shadow" next to my mouth disappear.  Why I would feel the need to hide a "shadow" (wink) that is the result of my laughing so much over the course of my life is another post in the making.  I won't even address what is happening to my neck as Nora Ephron has grieved enough over it for all of us in her hilarious book, I Feel Bad About My Neck. Oh, Ms. Ephron, we all do. Let's just say our beauty/youth obsessed culture is rough on a girl's self esteem. I've done about 20 different things to the second version; Photoshop is so much less painful than Botox, not to mention cheaper. And as long as I never leave the house I can pull off the illusion that I look like this at forty-something.

 Now let's look at some truly hideous manipulations. Wait, did you think that's what we were doing already?

Ralph Lauren has been called out on this a couple of times recently. Is this even attractive in a non-Star Wars sort of way?

This one got a lot of publicity and the company claimed responsibility...as if someone else could be responsible. Except the aliens who clearly snatched the other half of her body and left her with a giant bobble head.

This photo at left is the same model. Someone thought that THIS wasn't good enough? Oh yeah, and RL fired her for being too fat. You can't argue with that. Clearly, she is disgusting. My husband, oddly enough, couldn't find anything wrong with it, and thinks the other photo looks like she's been held hostage in a concentration camp and made to wear some humiliatingly ugly clothing as a form of torture. So what's my point in all of this? In a world where a woman's self worth and how she is viewed by others is so closely tied to her physical appearance I think someone should remind us that the standard that the media is setting is nearly impossible to achieve, yet it doesn't stop us from comparing ourselves to it.  The best version of ourselves is a worthy goal, unattainable perfection...well, I say we just let ourselves off the hook for that one.

Here's a link to a website that tracks how images are manipulated in the media and here's one more to the site Photoshop Disasters which is really great fun.