Category: At Home


I could have (okay I did) spend hours one afternoon in front of a water fountain – taking photos of ‘never two the same’ Shape Shifting Blobs and impressively big Bubbles.

Eye of newt, and toe of frog,
Wool of bat, and tongue of dog,


Adder’s fork, and blind-worm’s sting,
Lizard’s leg, and owlet’s wing,


For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.

Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn, and caldron bubble.

– William Shakespeare –

Temporary – Blog Posts, Laundry and Hair Cuts

It is my 8th Anniversary of Blogging. Is that long enough to say blogging isn’t a temporary pastime for me? My blog posts, on the other hand, are only of temporary interest to the blogging world!

Other temporary things in my life:

  • laundry – if I ever get ‘caught up’, it will only be for a few hours…
  • hair cut – if it is perfect, it won’t be for long; same with fingernail length
  • cuts, scrapes, bruises, a cold
  • weather, seasons
  • batteries
  • ripe fruit, ice cubes in a drink, gum flavour
  • shiny copper or silver, empty dishwasher
  • new car smell, full tank of gas
  • fresh-cut grass, perfect flowers
  • family vacations, Christmas Spirit
  • bubbles

  • Fall leaves and the berries from the Mountain Ash Tree

  • Snowflakes

What things would you put on your list of temporary things?

Eight Years of Blogging

This week’s Photo Challenge is Temporary.

The Sad, Silent Coffee Machine

Eldest daughter and her family have been staying with us, on and off, for the past month.  This has not created any space continuum inconvenience to The Car Guy and I – The Red House is more than large enough (because it is the same house we raised a squabble of teens in). Two extra adults and two teenagers  – we left it to them to jostle for prime real estate to set up their internet command stations.

Our kitchen is spacious. It is more than capable of handling the extra cooks. The biggest difference was that the fridge filled and emptied on a daily, rather than weekly basis. Oh, and the dishwasher was often pressed into service twice a day.

But the workhorse, no, the single most essential appliance in the house, was the Coffee Machine. These people are fueled by liquid caffeine.

This coffee falls into your stomach, and straightway there is a general commotion… From that moment on, everything becomes agitated. Ideas quick-march into motion like battalions of a grand army to its legendary fighting ground, and the battle rages. Memories charge in, bright flags on high; the cavalry of metaphor deploys with a magnificent gallop; the artillery of logic rushes up with clattering wagons and cartridges; on imagination’s orders, sharpshooters sight and fire; forms and shapes and characters rear up; the paper is spread with ink – for the nightly labor begins and ends with torrents of this black water, as a battle opens and concludes with black powder.
– Honoré de Balzac, The Pleasures and Pains of Coffee –

Yesterday morning, The Car Guy and a very full Jeep transported the Daughter and her family to the airport to catch the first flight of many. They are starting a ten month, round the world adventure. (You can follow their journey at Daily Creatives.)

This morning it is eerily quiet and cold here at The Red House. The Coffee Machine hasn’t even been turned on, so after I photographed it I added the message I expect it would want to send to the coffee drinkers who have left it behind.

 coffee maker

The fridge door has only opened twice. The stack of dishes on the counter is hardly noticeable. The bathrooms are unoccupied – there is no water running. There are no voices chatting, no tap, tap, tap on multiple keyboards.

The weather has suddenly turned, and after months of dry heat, it is raining. Yesterday it was still summer. Today it is fall.

Missing the family, but life goes on…
Looking on the bright side, the Internet is a lot faster now that only two of us are connected…

All my coffee and tea quotations are at The Quippery – Coffee and Tea

A Satisfying Day at the ‘Gamma Dogs’ House

We recently became ‘Grandparents’ to a puppy, though the term ‘puppy’ seems odd for a dog that never was very small and is growing really quickly. Our daughter and her husband are taking their puppy, Ghost, to puppy classes and are making good progress in establishing themselves as the ‘Alpha Dogs’! This training is quickly forgotten, however, in the excitement of a day here at our rural Red House. We joke that I am so far down in the dog’s ‘hierarchy of obedience’ alphabet that I am the ‘Gamma Dog’.

“So many smells. I wonder if any of them are dog approved food. The ‘Alpha Dog Lady’ sure didn’t like the dead gopher I found here last week.”

“Sniffing, running, digging, rolling! People – I need a bowl of water!”

“And I’m done. Could someone carry me to the car?”

This week’s Photo Challenge is Satisfaction.

Are you a dog owner? Or – do you just enjoy a dog when it visits, then get to send it home with the owners?

Post 581

These Things Match up with Things on my Wants List

565-save-timeSometimes it is best if The Car Guy just agrees with me…

This bench would be perfect on my patio! Too bad it is in a store in Calgary, not Phoenix.

565-neon-sign-dads-garageThis would be perfect in The Car Guys garage. Too bad it was in a store in Phoenix and not in a store in Calgary.


Ice Cream and cereal and fruit – a good match when I’m out of milk and yogurt.

This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge is A Good Match.

Post 566

Macro Photos – Vaguely Familiar Abstracts

Spruce Needles Snow

Can you guess what these ‘abstract photos’ are – from the hints in the quotations below the photo?

Arizona golden barrel cactus

There was a rough stone age and a smooth stone age and a bronze age, and many years afterward a cut-glass age. In the cut-glass age, when young ladies had persuaded young men with long, curly mustaches to marry them, they sat down several months afterward and wrote thank-you notes for all sorts of cut-glass presents…
– F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Cut-Glass Bowl –

hood side vents

…we live on the edge of the abstract all the time. Look at something solid in the known world: an automobile. Separate the fender, the hood, the roof, lie them on the garage floor, walk around them. Let go of the urge to reassemble the car or to pronounce fender, hood, roof. Look at them as curve, line, form.
― Natalie Goldberg, Living Color: Painting, Writing, and the Bones of Seeing –

 Spruce Needles Snow

The pine stays green in winter… wisdom in hardship.
– Norman Douglas –

Spruce Sap

Deciding whether or not to trust a person is like deciding whether or not to climb a tree because you might get a wonderful view from the highest branch or you might simply get covered in sap and for this reason many people choose to spend their time alone and indoors where it is harder to get a splinter.
― Lemony Snicket, The Penultimate Peril –

Here are what the photos are:
The first is a close up look at a cut-glass bowl.
The second is the side of the hood of a 1934 Ford custom roadster – sold at Barrett-Jackson in 2016 for $60,500.
The third is a close up of spruce tree needles peeking out of the snow.
The last is a drop of spruce resin (sap).

This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge – Abstract

Post 540

Local Libraries, Books and the Guerrilla Librarian

The QuipperyIn ‘The Alphabet and Good Intentions’ I explained the rather unique book filing system that our local librarians use. On occasion, this drives me to distraction – so last week I kind of refiled all the John Grisham’s. Now his books are in two locations instead of four.

I suppose I could ask to be a volunteer at this library, but I’ve met a few of the other volunteers, and they are not a very flexible group of women, (either in the way they run the library, or in their ability to reach to the top and bottom shelves – they are quite a bit older than me…).  I have decided I am much more suited to being a guerrilla librarian.

I found other references to just this kind of activity: “…Maxwell had also found a vocation of sorts, unpaid but satisfying, even addicting. He moved library books.” Though the author of this story isn’t stated, the blog post with the rest of the story is here, and it is quite fun:  Swiss Army Librarian.

Have you ever been a Guerrilla Librarian?

Quotes about books: The Quippery – Books

Post 534

Time and My Clock Walls – So Late So Soon

The QuipperyHow time has changed!  When I was young, a clock had hands and you learned how to ‘tell time’. We had only a few clocks in our house. One was in the kitchen, and I suppose there was an alarm clock for my parental units (but I don’t remember ever hearing it ring.) I didn’t really pay attention to what time is was. Grown-ups did that for me. I just did what they told me to do when they told me to do it – mostly. If no one was telling me where to be or what to do, I let the sun and a rumble in my stomach guide me.

Today we are surrounded by clocks. They reside in every conceivable appliance. This has a cost though – a microwave oven can consume more electricity powering its digital clock than it does heating food! Of course, most wall clocks are battery powered – but  how much do you spend on batteries in a year?

How many clocks do you have to reset when Daylight Saving’s Time rolls around? The Car Guy says we have more than 20 clocks at The Red House! I’ve been making it easier for him to find many of those clocks. I’ve gathered them up and put them onto “Clock Walls”. The only downside to this is that Segal’s Law comes into play – Margy with one clock thinks she knows what time it is. Margy with two clocks is not quite sure.

There are fast clocks, there are slow clocks, there is one clock that is broken and it is only right twice a day…

This wall of clocks is ‘Memories Time’ – one clock is a gift from a daughter, one that The Car Guy’s dad made, one from the Middle East, one we saved from the flood at the cabin, one from a good friend, and one that a craftsman made from a slab of wood.

When you are REAL, you don’t mind being hurt. It doesn’t happen all at once. You become, it takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t often happen to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are REAL, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are REAL you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.
– Margery Williams, The Velveteen Rabbit –

This week, the WordPress Photo Challenge is Time.

For more quotations, click on Time.

Post 530

Housework is Exercise – Get Dusting!

The 1998 poem “Dust If You Must” by Rose Milligan is going around the internet again. It starts with:

Dust if you must, but wouldn’t it be better
To paint a picture, or write a letter,
Bake a cake, or plant a seed;
Ponder the difference between want and need?

Of course, painting and writing and pondering are quite sedentary activities. Cleaning is almost as good as going to the gym! An hour of sitting only burns 34 calories. An hour of vacuuming burns 170 calories. An hour of food preparation and cooking uses only 68 calories. An hour of dusting and tidying burns 136 calories!

It’s all in the attitude — housework is exercise. Slim your way to a clean home, clean your way to a slim body!
-Terri Guillemets –

When I first got a macro lens and was discovering all sorts of interesting ‘little’ things, I got a closer look at the dust on a table top.

Where did that dust come from, and what might it be made of? According to several sites I went to, dust comes in from the outdoors as particles on our shoes, or blown in by air movement. It can include dirt, pollen, mold spores, auto exhaust, fertilizer chemicals and residue from burning fossil fuels, to name just a few things. Clouds of dust can travel immense distances – so microbes, bacteria and virus like particles can arrive at your house without having to carry a passport from the foreign country that dispatched them.

Indoor sources of dust can include dried food particles (and the insects that feed on this), decaying particles of carpet, bedding and furniture, skin flakes (and the dust mites that feed on them), and dander off pets. Dust also includes chemicals that are used for a multitude of things, including flame retardants in furniture and pillows.

Dust enters our bodies either by breathing it in, or ingesting it. For people with NO significant allergies or asthma, normal dust may not pose a risk. Dust that can be dangerous is usually associated with particular products and/or occupations (asbestos, coal, silica, cement, grain, woodworking, etc.)

An individual’s tolerance for dust in their home is often simply a matter of personal preference. I don’t have an aversion to dusting and cleaning, so here at The Red House my Swiffer Duster and I breeze through a single room in about 2 minutes. I think the house smells better when I am done, and I like the look of a clean surface.

I am disappointed by those non-cleaning folks who choose to denigrate both the task of cleaning and the people who do that work. Adjectives like ‘clean freak’ and ‘uptight’ are used to describe people with clean homes, while ‘easygoing’, ‘laid back’ and ‘dust bunny’ are used for people at the other end of the spectrum.

The QuipperyOne blogger justified their dirty home by saying, “A dirty house says that the family that lives in it has more important things to do than clean!”

Really? What is more important than teaching the members of a family that the very essence of living is the cycle of doing things, then cleaning things. We paint a picture, then we clean our brushes. We bake a cake, then wash the dishes. We plant a seed, then clean our tools. We exercise, then wash our clothes. Why wouldn’t the family also vacuum the floors after they track in dirt?

Outside our homes, how would we feel without The Cleaners? Would we feel good about our workplaces if they were never cleaned? Would we check into a hotel room that still had dirty sheets and a disgusting bathroom? Would we enjoy our library or our community park if no one ever picked up the trash?

Your turn – Does the cleanliness of your home affect the way you feel?

Post 507

Distractions – Three Hours Later I Found the Twist Ties

I just needed some long twist ties. I wanted to tidy up the cords that let the computer talk to the scanner. I thought I had seen the kind I wanted in The Car Guys’s office, so I went there and looked in the desk drawers. No twist ties, but I did find some circle drawing templates that would be happier if they lived nearer to my drawing desk. I needed a box to store the templates in, so I went downstairs to the box cupboard, and found the perfect container. Then I restacked the remaining boxes so that they would fit back into the cupboard.

After boxing up the drawing supplies, I continued the search for twist ties. There were 6 possible drawers in The Car Guy’s office where they could be. As I searched, I also spent some time resorting. Apparently there had been a bit of ‘dump and run’ going on.

One of the drawers contained The Car Guy’s pen collection, which reminded me that I had a box of pens in my multi purpose room that could be amalgamated with his pens. When I retrieved those pens, I also found my pen refills! I need a refill for my favourite Papermate Pen, but unfortunately the refills I have do not fit any pens I have.

I continued to search all the drawers in my room for twist ties. There had been some ‘dump and run’ happening there too, so I did some resorting. This resulted in many reassignments, primarily involving glue, rulers and scissors – which we have far more of than I had realized.

Still no twist ties, though. A general tidy up of my multi purpose room was now in full swing, and I found my stash of sewing machine needles and some feathers I want to use on a particular project.

I also found a few things that belong in the catch all drawer in the kitchen – which is where I found the long twist ties

And that is the story of why it took me three hours to tie up these cords…

I’m sure you have all had a similar experience – do share it with me!

Post 499

Big Plans for a New Year – More Renos!

Zentangle Christmas ornaments

In ancient times, a summary of our past year might have been reported thus:

And so it was that the quiet husband and his overly talkative wife were together in a compact carriage for three full days on a trip that would transport them from the far southern state of the USA to the Canadian province of their birth. On the first morning, the man was finally able to break into the conversation, and he said, “We have been fortunate this year to have been blessed by Ye Olde Insurance Company who partially compensated us for our losses in last years flood. I think we should spend that windfall on another water related issue that I have long thought we should address—leaking eavestroughs at the Red House.”

Christmas 2014And his wife said, “Perhaps we could also get the fascia boards and soffits fixed too.” And  with that said, she spent many hours thinking out loud about colours and materials.

And so they drove on and eventually the quiet man broke in again. “I believe I have concluded an agreement with men more skilled than me to put up my ‘more than modestly sized metal shed’”. And his wife replied, “Do we have enough loonies to pay the contractor?” And the  man replied, “Yes, we do. We will use the insurance payout from the ‘one in a hundred year flood’ that our ark did not survive.” And the wife thought, “Perhaps I wasn’t aware of how large that insurance payout was…”

On the third day of the journey, the man said to his wife, “This summer I will paint the window trim, and we will both paint the house.” And the wife said nothing, for she was not enthusiastic about painting.

And it came to pass that when the man and his wife at last reached home, they discovered that a swarm of ungulates had descended on the pastures closest to their house and eaten everything that was green and everything that might have been green if it had been May or June instead of April.

And the woman said unto her husband, “I think the windfall should be spent on fixing the fence so that the hungry hoards don’t spoil my pasture ever again.”

Soon the man had secured a contractor to replace the eavestrough. And the wife asked the contractor about the fascia boards and soffits and the contractor said, “Your wish is my command… you should probably replace the shingles on the roof too.”

On the second week back in the land of snow, the husband realized how many lifetimes it would take him to paint the window trim and the house, and so he summoned a painter. By and by, the roofer, the shed contractor, the fencer and the painter were hard at work and, since no renovation is ever as it seems, an asphalt crew was needed too.

For 81 days tradesmen came and went and music of dubious merit rang from all around, as earnest young men with boom boxes laboured to make the home like new again.

At long last, all but a few items were complete, and the man and his wife were pleased with the transformation. And the wife smiled as her husband pored over the books of records to figure out how to pay for having spent the windfall many times over.


In the land of eternal sunshine and scorpions and snakes, another house was being renewed. The same man and wife entrusted the initially simple job to a talented young contractor. It came to pass that this house also had some hidden deficiencies….

The project proceeded in as timely a manner as possible when 10 change orders occur. After 8 months of labor by earnest tradesman whose music was also of dubious merit, the job was nearly complete. And the husband again pored over those books of records and cursed the day he had taken on the task of ‘keeper of the household budget.’

The End

PS: I started drawing something other than stickmen too, as you can see from my Christmas Card above.

How was your year? Got your Christmas cards in the mail yet?

Post 484

Keep Out! Declarations of Personal Privacy

I’m at that age where the memories of my youth are not even remotely fresh, yet there is one that is still as vivid as if it happened yesterday. It was the day I got my very own bedroom. I vacated the room I shared with my sister and took all my worldly goods (which probably fit in a couple of 2 cube  boxes) and moved down the hall – to a room that was just mine.

At the time, I didn’t realize that my belongings were external place holders for my memories, relationships and travels in the bigger world. I didn’t understand that I was an introvert, and that I needed long stretches of alone time in order to recharge. I did know, however, that I had been given the right to close a door and by doing so, no one else would enter my space.

It was the same right to privacy that had always existed within the walls of my parent’s bedroom – a room that I only ever entered if invited to.

I was visiting one of my children a few years ago when my grandson first invoked his desire for privacy. He had his own bedroom already, but apparently it suddenly dawned on him that it wasn’t just a bedroom, it was his ‘boy cave’. He crayoned this request for privacy:

He added a few images to reinforce the perils that awaited anyone who crossed the threshold of his room!

At our house, the master bedroom and master bath room are ‘non-public’ spaces. The same goes for the contents of desk drawers,  jewellery boxes and filing cabinets! I’ve rarely had occasions where my right to privacy was invaded, but it has happened. It is always a good reminder for me that others do not understand my needs or share my concept of boundaries. In the future, I will be sure to put up a “KeEp ouT!” sign, scrawled in crayon and illustrated with a skull and crossbones…

The Car Guy and I also understand that couples need their own space too, so we each have lairs that we can retreat to.

Let there be spaces in your togetherness.
– Kahlil Gibran –

Perhaps this need for privacy increases as we try to live in a world where our privacy is so often invaded, and each day we inch closer to George Orwell’s Big Brother  world in the book “1984”. For example:

– The sites we go to on the internet can leave a digital bread crumb for those who want to follow the trail and then bombard us with advertising or try to highjack our identity.

– Our credit cards, loyalty cards, memberships, ID numbers, library cards, medical history and every other piece of information with our name on it is controlled by companies who may, or may not be able to protect the data, nor guarantee our privacy.

Surveillance cameras at intersections, toll booths, airports, bank machines and public spaces track our movements.

Facebook, an internet social media company, has the largest biometric database in the world — and it’s been formed by people voluntarily submitting pictures of themselves and their friends and family to Facebook and then identifying who the faces belong to.

-If you use a cell phone, your phone provider knows who you phoned, for how long, and where you were at the time. If your cell phone remains turned on, your cell phone provider could also be keeping track of your location, minute by minute. Your computer or other such device can also give out an approximate location when you are connected to the internet.

– Some vehicle GPS systems, such as the OnStar service offered by GM, can collect and store information such as speed and global position.

Google street view – I’m glad we have a row of tall trees screening our property…

The last bastion of privacy, then, is inside your home – or maybe the bathroom in your home, if you have children!

How does privacy work in your home? How strongly do you feel about it?

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