Friday, July 28, 2006

Mutts Gone Mad & my birthweek

Howdy! My birthday is next Friday, and I've decided to take all of next week as vacation. I don't know quite what I'm going to do with myself. Well, that's a lie. I do know of two things I'll be doing. I'm visiting the parents towards the end of the week for a combination birthday/anniversary celebration. I was a 1-day early second anniversary present. And tomorrow I'm going to be in Reynolds Park in Bellefonte from 11 to 2 with my fellow Loons, hosting a fun fair for dogs.

We call it "Mutts Gone Mad," and this will be the second one we've done. Last year's was pretty well-attended, considering the very little press we got. We're hoping tomorrow's crowd is at least as large and that they have just as much fun as least year's group. There will be contests of all sorts: a rally course, an agility course, a best-dressed contest, and (new this year) doggie limbo. I have no idea how the last one works. I guess I'll know more tomorrow. There are also no-pressure sort of games to play, like an IQ test, and bobbing for hot dogs. This game involves throwing a frankfurter into a full wading pool, and then letting the dog go get it. It's fun to see how the different breeds react. Last year, the retrievers were more interested in splashing around in the water than what was in it. There was a mastiff who tried to do a Moses and push the water aside with her paws, because she didn't want to get her face wet.

The whole event is free. The only thing we sell is food (hamburgers, hot dogs, drinks) but we don't keep the proceeds. Those go to the local animal welfare organizations, some of whom will have representatives there. Beagle Rescue is even bringing a dog who's available for adoption.

This year we had a reporter from Lock Haven contact the Chief Loon, wanting to do a piece on MGM (as we've started to call it). Chief didn't get the email until after the deadline had passed, but this reporter is still interested in us, and now wants to write about the Loons in general. Wow. I wonder how she heard about us. I didn't think we were that visible, really.

Well, that's it for now. Desk is organized so people have somewhere to drop problems in my absence (I'm writing this from work). Time to get the heck outta here. I'll probably post some pictures here and/or on Flick'r when I come in for a landing. Tootles!

Monday, July 24, 2006

Local arts festivals

Originally uploaded by JugglingScarves.
There were a couple of arts & crafts festivals held in towns nearby, about a week ago. This is a yearly event, held around the middle of July. The two festivals are run by different organizations, but are scheduled so that they coincide. The one in State College was started by local artists forty years ago and it wasn't very long before it became too big for its britches. The organizers introduced some sort of jury process for artist selection, and the local talent started getting excluded in favor of out-of-town (usually out-of-state) artists with more expensive wares to sell.

In reaction, about ten or fifteen years ago the local artists started another festival in Boalsburg, the next town over. The first few years it was strictly for Pennsylvania artists. It's widened a bit in scope since then. Actually, this last time through I noticed the same artists had booths at both festivals. I wonder how long it will be before the local artists get pushed out of the Boalsburg one and have to start up a third festival in Bellefonte, Port Matilda, or Lemont.

My belly dance teacher has been trying for years to get some stage time at either festival. She's been repeatedly turned down. This year, though, she had an edge: one of her Belly Dance 2 students is married to a planner on the Boalsburg festival's committee. She got an hour of performance time. She contacted the other belly dance troupe in the area and offered them half of it, and from 3:30 to 4:30 the Saturday before last, the patrons of the People's Choice Festival got to see all sorts of belly dancing. This picture is of part of a sword dance. My teacher is one of the two women balancing swords on their heads, but unfortunately you can't see very much of her. The smiling woman on the right is my new teacher, who took over teaching the cabaret-style classes now that Barb is leaving.

I didn't take any more pictures than this one. I wasn't using a flash (didn't want to distract) and the picture came out very dark. Through the miracle of technology, though, I've managed to brighten it up considerably. If I'd known about the software before today, I would have shot lots more.

I bought my Mom's birthday present at the State College festival. This is tradition. Her birthday usually falls right after (or somewhere in the middle) of the festival. This year, though, the 4th of July being on a Tuesday pushed both festivals back a week. I can't say just yet what I bought her -- I haven't given it to her yet, and she sometimes reads this blog. I'll post a picture of it after I give it to her. I'm pretty sure she'll like it.

I also bought something for myself, which I don't usually do. There was a paper-maker and bookbinder there, selling gorgeous leather-bound books, full of thick, creamy, blank pages. The pages are hand-sewn into the binding. You just don't see that anymore. The one I bought is bound in red leather. So soft. So lovely. So intimidating to think about writing or drawing in it. But draw in it I will, just as soon as I limber up the old sketching muscle.

Now I know I saw my art supplies somewhere when I was cleaning...where did I stash them?

I really need to get out more

I'm working on a project involving a set of microfilm called the Underground Newspaper Collection. I'm not going to get into how crazy it's driving me. Let's just say that my coworkers tiptoe past me and pretend not to hear to the muttering, sobbing, and cursing that leaks out over the soft walls of my cubicle.

I just want to mention this, because it just struck me today: of all the newspapers that were not trying for commercial success (in other words, the ones published by someone with a Cause, as opposed to the ones published with the intent of being a local newspaper), I've found that the anarchists were the best at being consistent. Their publications generally had numbers that went in sequential order (a rarity, trust me) and those numbers were (usually) printed somewhere on each issue, along with a date (equally as rare) . They also managed to maintain the frequency of publication, instead of publishing as a monthly for 3 issues and then letting six months go by before publishing another one. Wouldn't you think that as anarchists they'd be less concerned with organization and structure than their fellow alternative presses? Maybe to the point of being random on purpose?

I thought that was pretty funny. But then, I amuse easily.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Pictures from the Box

Whaddya think of the new look? I was getting a little tired of all the pink, myself. One of these days (not anytime soon) I may try to figure out how to design blog and make my own template. Don't be holding your breath, now. That's a vague whim. Until then, I think I can live with the lighthouse.

I visited my parents this past weekend. We spent a lot of time on the porch watching nature's floor show. There is a family of woodpeckers that walks up and down the trees calling to each other while they hammer away at tree trunks, and a gorgeous, too-fast-for-my-camera scarlet tanger (bright red with black wings) that visits once in a while. There are some juncos living in a nest under the porch (the porch is actually very high off the ground, so I'm not surprised there are birds using the underside of it), and the babies are just learning how to fly.

The real attraction though is a bunch of flying squirrels living in the eaves of the red tin roof. Mom's named them The Flying Wollendas. They leave the nest about dusk, go to the very edge of the roof and one by one they fling themselves out into the air, swooping down to land on the tree nearest the house. Then they climb to the top of that tree and fling themselves at the next one. They're about the size of chipmunks. I assumed flying squirrels were bigger, for some reason. Mom and Dad say that when it's finally time to weatherproof the house, they're going to have to seal off the roof in the evening, after the squirrels have left for the night. They don't want to hurt them, just make them move their nest to another location.

I stayed through to Monday, because it was Mom's birthday. I took her out to lunch at a 50's-style diner called Fezz's, after a morning spent going through this h-u-g-e box of photographs. She was looking for baby pictures for a family picnic my aunt is having this weekend. She wants everyone to send her baby pictures and she's going to make some sort of poster with them. I'm not going to this shin-dig. Not only is it farther away than I can manage without a longish bus trip (she lives in New Jersey), I already had other plans. And if I hadn't had any I'd have made some. My father's side of the family is large, loud, and rather...contentious? I guess that's the word. Last time we all got together (which was for my Grandma's funeral a little over a year ago), my dad and one of his brothers argued for at least 1/2 an hour about whether sugar or baking soda should be used to cut the acid in tomato sauce. I mean, really. They both work. Let's move on, okay?

So anyway as we were sorting through the pictures, I found a bunch I wanted copies of. I took twelve of them with me, but there were dozens and dozens more that I wanted. When I go back up next month, I'm going to spend a bit more time digging around in that box. There are some great ones in there. I scanned the twelve I brought back with me, and have uploaded all but three into Flickr. I'll get the other three done tonight. My connection is dial-up, so it takes a while to do.

Here's the one I used to make the new picture for my profile. It's me, at about 1 1/2.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Sounds of the season


I sit bolt upright in bed. Was that a gunshot? I jam my glasses onto my face and look at the clock: 2:45 AM. That means it's really 2:18. The police will want to know when I heard the shot. I wonder if I'll have to explain why the alarm clock is set 27 minutes ahead.

I don't remember getting out of bed, but now I'm in the front room, peeking through the slats of the window blind. Can't see a thing. As I'm deciding whether to call the police or not, I hear it again. Different this time:

Zzzzzt! Pa-pow!

Oh, for pity's sake. It's been the fourth of July barely two hours, and someone's already setting off firecrackers. He (I don't know why I'm so sure it's a "he") probably bought them from that huge tent in the Wal-mart parking lot tonight, stopped there after work. Then, since tomorrow's a holiday, he went out drinking with his buddies. Bars close around two, so he probably just got home. He's not sleepy yet. A little bit bored, in fact. And then he sees his fireworks....

Screeeeeeee! Pop.

I shuffle back to bed, climb in, put a pillow over my head. Now that I know what the noise is, I can probably sleep through it. Oddly comforting to know that one's neighbors are just idiots, as opposed to being violent criminals.

As I start to drift off to sleep, I decide I'm going to have to suspend my disbelief a little more when watching TV or a movie. I never believe it when I see a character go from being sound asleep to sitting straight up in bed. Apparently it does happen.


Moron. I hope he gets rained on at every single football game he goes to this Fall.

Saturday, July 01, 2006


Well that's over with, thank goodness. It appears they only notify you of the results if things need to be changed at all. All I got on my door was a little note that read, "Your apartment has been inspected," so I guess I passed. I finally got the computer reconnected last night. It's amazing how much time you have for other things when goofing off online isn't an option.

One good thing came out of all of this. I like the way the apartment looks now. I wouldn't be embarrassed to let my Mom in here. It's a bit more organized, and there's a little less clutter overall. I threw out or donated to charity a lot of things that I decided I just didn't want or need any more. And I have enough space in the front room that I practice with the belly dancing DVD I bought a while back without too much furniture-shifting beforehand.

My belly dance instructor is moving away in August. Her husband lost his job, so they're moving to a little town a few hours away from us and starting a business. She says there's no one in that area teaching belly dance, so she's going to try to get some classes started there. Our classes are going to be taken over by her most advanced student--sort of her apprentice. She and my instructor have been taking turns leading class since I started going last March, so it should be a smooth transition. I'm going to miss Barb, though.

Speaking of belly dance, I took a workshop a couple weekends ago, focusing on Turkish Romany-style belly dance--the sort the gypsies dance. It was really interesting. And fun. And tiring. Dance classes are normally about an hour long. This class was one two-hour session, then an hour lunch break, then a second two-hour session. Boy, did I hurt the next day. My body clicked and clacked like a Jacob's Ladder. The music we were dancing to was in 9/8 meter: nine beats to the measure broken down into 4 beats, so you get this slight pause at the end of each measure. Here, try this, you'll see what I mean. Count this out loud and clap on the "1's":

1-2, 1-2, 1-2, 1-2-3, 1-2, 1-2, 1-2, 1-2-3...

It sounds like this:

clap, clap, clap, clap,[slight pause], clap, clap, clap, clap [slight pause]

That slight pause is just enough time for a quick hop or kick or hip movement, or any number of things. It takes a little readjustment to make oneself pause at the end of the fourth beat. I wound up rushing the steps a few times until I got it figured out. And then at class the following week, I had trouble readjusting to plain 1-2-3-4 again.

Let's see, what else is going on? The mess at work has been sorted out, kind of. I don't think anyone is particularly happy with the result (I know I'm not), but this is only supposed to be an "interim" solution to our problem. Maybe now we can stop sniping at each other and act like civilized people again. Hope springs eternal.

I'm visiting my parents next weekend, staying through to Monday for my Mom's birthday. No word yet on a diagnosis for her problem. I don't think she's been back to the doctor yet. Maybe it hasn't flared up recently. I'll make sure I ask her about it during the next "finger and toe check," which is what she calls our weekly phone conversations.

It's gorgeous outside. Finally. It's been raining off and on all week. I'm going to go play in the sunshine now. Have a good weekend everyone!