Sunday, May 25, 2014


       I just wanted to do a quick post today because I'm going to be leaving tomorrow morning and won't be back until Saturday. I am going to my grandparents' house in Central California, and it's supposed to be almost 100 degrees! That's pretty hot compared to the weather we've been having at my house, although it's not too bad. They have a pool also, so that will be nice. I'll take my camera and, if I remember, will get a few pictures of the neat little creek that runs behind their house to show you. No promises, though, it might completely slip my mind. ;)
        I visited them in January, but it was with my aunt and my little cousins there as well. They asked me to come see them again soon, and I am really looking forward to just spending some more time with them. Their healths aren't so great either, so I plan on observing how they like things to be done in case both of them have health issues at the same time - I would probably be the only one who could come take care of them. They are both pretty particular about the way they like things to be done around the house, so this will be a good learning opportunity for me. And my grandpa has some pretty cool guns. I'm really looking forward to shooting the 357 Magnum again! 
        Goodbye Eponine!

         Goodbye random squirrel!

        Goodbye random kingfisher!

        And goodbye to my followers and all of the other lovely people who read my blog. Thanks for putting up with my disjointed ramblings!


Saturday, May 24, 2014

Foraging on the Creek Bank

        Our little creek has many edible plants growing on the banks. This is quite convenient if you ask me - I don't have to go very far to get my peppermint or my watercress when I need it.

        The marsh marigold is one of the plants I know is edible, but haven't done anything with it yet.

         The white flowers you can see here are from the watercress.

        Here is some peppermint from among the sweet peas:

        This is water plantain; I haven't done anything with this yet either.

        These are the flowers (the stalks you see in the background are cattails):

       Up close of a leaf:

         Now, I have a short story to tell. When I first came across this plant, I had no clue what it was. I quickly identified it as from the mint family, though, because of the leaf shape and the square stalks, and because it smelled like basil, I named it basil mint. It tasted like spearmint, however, so I knew it wasn't basil. I went inside after, and looked up different mints and what they smell, taste, and look like. Lo and behold, this plant is actually called Basil Mint. I was quite proud of myself. ;)

        I am sure blackberries need no introduction.

         This is broad leaf plantain (Plantago Major). The thick fibers in the leaves can be used to make rope, and the leaves themselves are edible. You can read more about the many, many uses for this plant here.

        Horsetails most likely don't need any introduction either. They are high in silica and amazing for your nails and hair.

         This is a wild radish plant. We mostly just eat the flowers and leaves, because the actual radish roots have an unearthly level of spiciness. :)

        This is a pepper tree. For the longest time, my mom was convinced that this wasn't 'actual' pepper, but then she realized it is. Now, we don't ever have to buy pepper anymore!

         This is a black walnut tree. I'll do a post on the stuff we make out of this when it's harvest time.

        I hope you've enjoyed this brief peek at the eatables in our creek. ;) I may highlight on some of these plants later as well.


Sun On The Water

Guess what this is.


What about now?

Water is beautiful.


Friday, May 23, 2014

Hardcover LOTR Books

        Hi y'all! Second post today, I know. BUT WAIT! I have important news. Do you remember this post? Well, apparently, the day after I bought those books, my grandpa called my dad and told him he had ordered me a hardcover set for my birthday. I got them about a week ago, but there was a problem with them so he re-ordered and I'm sending the first ones back. The new package came today, however. They are GORGEOUS!

         They each have a large map in the back - I may take them out an frame them. :)

        I have no regrets in buying the paperbacks when I did. Oh, I wish I had just waited a few weeks never crossed my mind, actually. For one thing, this hardcover set doesn't include The Hobbit, which I definitely need. My mom jokes (well, it's probably true, actually) that the paperback set will be available to my future little boys with grimy fingers, and the hardcover ones will be for special family reading time. Oh, and for the records, I'm pretty sure my little girls will have grimy fingers too - they will just hopefully have that female intuition that they should wash before touching. ;)
        I am in the middle of The Two Towers right now, and I am switching from my paperbacks to hardcovers. Because hardcovers are just the best. Every book person knows that.


I'm A Musician

        I haven't talked about this much before on my blog, but it's true. Music is a huge part of my life, so I mean to let y'all know about it. I'm a pianist, primarily. From the time I was about five or six, I played by ear on our little electronic keyboard. After church on Sundays, I would come home and plink out the songs we had sung, experiment with scales, and, of course (I admit it), the different voices on the keyboard. At about that age, I started gymnastics more seriously, so until a few years ago, that and church choir made up the extent of my musical life, if you will. When I broke my hand and quit gymnastics three and a half years ago, I suddenly had more free time than I could have ever hoped for before. When I was in competitive gymnastics, I was at gym five hours a day, five days a week. Now suddenly, I wasn't there at all. 
        I don't think I really thought much of music then, or dreamed I had any talent. My mom did, though, and as soon as I got injured, she signed me up for voice lessons. I had a very good voice as a child - huge, huge range - and she had always wanted me to sing more. If you don't have time, though, just just don't have time. But now I did! I started voice lessons; one thirty minute lesson each week. When I got my cast off of my arm, my voice teacher decided to teach me a bit of piano, as she thought it would help me with my singing. She taught me some scales, and told me she would order me some beginner books. That week, I went home and pulled out my intermediate piano hymn book, and decided to teach myself how to read music. Luckily for me, our little keyboard was digital and showed on a screen what note on the staff was being played, so it was easy. In a day I was playing Amazing Grace, and not just the baby beginner version. Needless to say, my music teacher was surprised the next time I went. Ever since, singing has taken a back seat to piano, since I progressed so quickly. Over the past year or so, my rate of progress has tapered down a bit, since the songs are a lot harder. And, I like a lot of the easier songs more than, say, Beethoven's Sonata's, so I tend to play those more. 
        Two years ago, I finally got a real piano. The keyboard with no pedal and tiny range was just not cutting it anymore, and after a few months of searching Craigslist for a free upright grand, I found one. Of course, in my heart, I want a gorgeous grand that sits in a sunlit corner of my non-existent music room, but we just don't have the space. The upright cabinet grand is almost as good, though. Mine is about five feet tall and is from 1905. It has beautiful walnut wood and carvings on the legs, and I think it suits our house very well. It sounds awesome too - the tone is very deep. When I first got it tuned, they had to replace three strings (they snapped because they were so old), but it's still beautimous. ;)
        So, what are we waiting for? Don't you want to see it? Okay, here we go.

         My beautiful piano books:

         My coin jar for piano tuning:

        Now, I know I showed you that picture of my piano above, but I think that's a little dishonest. That's what my piano looks like about a dozen days out of a year. The other 353, it usually looks like this:

        Yeah, I just clear a spot to sit, amidst the books and loose papers. My mom has learned that getting me to put everything back each time after I use it is a lost cause. So now that you've seen my piano, what do I play? Well, I play everything! Classical music, showtunes, movie songs, you name it! Well, I don't play modern music such as you might hear on the radio. I'm going through a Phantom phase right now, but I think that's since I played Music of the Night for the recital last weekend. Speaking of which, I'm working on my own arrangement of that song. I liked most of the one in the piano solos book, and certain parts from the one in the vocal/piano selections (yes, I have both, I'm a Phan), and some parts I didn't like in either. So I wrote my own and played it at the recital. I downloaded the software from MuseScore, so it looks quite professional. I'll see if I can upload it to this blog sometime soon.
        Onto the instruments I just dabble in: fiddle and guitar. I had great aspirations of being a violinist, but I'm really not very good. I play mostly by ear, although if I find a song that I think would sound good on that instrument, I can read music. What I love to do with my fiddle is play along to movie soundtracks, especially LOTR. My brother has a guitar, and I play it when he's not home. He knows I play it, but I don't when he's around because I'm afraid he might get discouraged. That's what happened with piano. He doesn't get that you only get better if you practice,so when he wouldn't practice and I would and I got better than him, he stopped trying. And, he just doesn't have the music gene. I got it from my dad and he didn't, so while anything musical comes easily to me, it doesn't for him. I just kind of play around with the guitar. I learn the chords by needing to know them in order to play a song - if there is a chord I don't know in a song I want to play, I just look it up and play it in the song, and then I know it. I like singing and playing guitar at the same time, as with piano.
        Singing. I mentioned before that I had a good voice as a child. I kind of neglected it and now it doesn't really do what I ask most of the time. If I sing a bit for a few days in a row, it gets controllable, and then I feel comfortable singing for other people. If not, though, it's hit or miss, Sometimes at my music lesson, I hear myself sing, and I think "Wow! That's good!" But then other times, I cringe at hearing that certain note that just doesn't work out. my range is still okay, but it certainly expands if I sing consistently. My favorite things to sing are Les Mis, Phantom, assorted other showtunes (from CATS, Jekyll and Hyde, and Oliver!), and hymns. I only really sing for myself though, when no one else is at home. :)
        So there you have it! Now do you believe me that I'm a musician? Was that enough detail? Let's hear about you! Do you play? Sing?


Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Star Wars by Disney

       So I'm sure y'all know they started filming Star Wars VII last friday. I have very bad feelings about this, er, disgrace and blasphemy continuation, but I'm glad someone was able to make some fun out of it.


New Roof

        For as long as I can remember, we have had a leaky roof. The first drops of rain we heard pattering on the shingles would send us running for the buckets, and we would cringe inwardly as we saw the water seeping through the ceiling, and running in little streams down the walls. We didn't mind having to empty brimming buckets so much as we minded just knowing how much damage it was doing to the actual structure of our house. If you want to see some pictures, check out this post.

        We knew there would be mold and all other manners of disgusting rot, but there was nothing we could really do about it. We had four layers of roofing on (usually if one wears out, they just put another on, and when that wear out too they add one more). Well, you are only meant to have three total before they have to tear it all off and give you a new one. We had four. That means higher cost, and we weren't really up for that until just now. For those who don't know, we have a very old Victorian era home (built in 1896), and the roof has a lot of steep peaks and craziness. That also means higher cost, since it is harder and more dangerous for the workers. 
        Well, right now, we are getting the roof redone. The noise is horrendous, but I know it will be worth it. There are crashes and bangs and other unearthly noises going on over my head, and it sounds like someone or something will come crashing through the roof at any moment. I am so glad to be getting the roof fixed, as we will have no more leaks and I won't be thinking about water damage whenever it rains, but I really liked our old roof. There was moss growing under my window and the shingles were curved and soft, and I know I'll miss those things when I go out on the roof.

See all of the lovely moss?

This crease is where it *really* leaks.
        As you can see, our roof wasn't in the best of conditions. I have climbed up there and patched it many times, but not very well - nothing but a new roof could really fix it. Well, we're getting a new roof. I look out of the window and see piles of shingles falling onto the tarps and boards the workers laid on the ground. Under the normal shingles I can see old cedar ones - THE ORIGINAL NINETEENTH CENTURY ONES!!!

        I have been taking pictures as they progress in tearing off the fours layers of old shingles.

        Eponine and Thorin aren't quite sure what to make of this operation, especially since they've been locked out of our yard.

Update 1:

We never knew that the actual glass in the window was purple!!

We asked the workers to save a few shingles for us, since they're 120 years old.
Update 2:

        The shingles went on! The goats and chickens are over at our neighbors' house now.

Update 3 (day 2):

        They started on the roof outside of my room and bathroom upstairs. I sometimes go up and watch them from behind my curtains.

         The workers built a bridge out of a ladder so that they could carry the old shingles across to the garage roof and throw them directly into the truck, which was parked in front. Otherwise, they would have had to haul them down the ladders, etc. I thought it was pretty cool!