Monday, September 14, 2020

2020 - Year of the Rat by Deb Wong

                                   2020 - Our Year (so far)  

                                          September 14, 2020


2020 - Chinese Year of the Rat. Supposed to be lucky - what do you think of that?

Started out with a full blood moon - won't be seeing that again, too soon. 

Time with family, Markfest was a blast - and visits with grandkids - that time went fast! 


The 49ers were Superbowl bound - they didn't win - maybe next time around.

Celebrated 40 years of Spring Mountain Gallery - planned to retire, after earning more salary.

Many projects to finish, and business was booming - we had not a clue the pandemic was looming.

Work on our homes was never-ending  - one house for sale, and our new one still pending. 

Couldn't have done it without family and friends - new floors, new paint, and windows to mend.

Primary voting, house up for sale, with hard work and planning, we weren't going to fail! 

Then BOOM! It was lowered - a roadblock, it seems - that changed our plans, and threatened our dreams. 

"Coronavirus" or "COVID-19" - was worse than any our lifetime has seen.

So, for our customers, clients and also ourselves - we closed our store, and emptied the shelves. 

After all the hard work, we had to confess, that at least we had moved - and so we were blessed. 

Shelter-in-place, social distance and hygiene, terminology used for this strange new scene. 

However! After all of our toil and sacrifice - our house sold in April - so, that was quite nice!

Months have gone by, without anything dire - until now, our horrific Season of Fire.

So it is September - how much more can we take?  Hoping the rest of 2020 can cut us a break! 

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Custom Critters, Redoux

Got my new sewing machine yesterday. This is the first stuffed animal I’ve made in 25 years. I make up my own designs. Fun!

Made shirt and mask for my kitty. My husband Mike asked: "Is it male or female?"      Me: "Non-binary". 

Since I don't use patterns - just basically making it up as I go along - there are numerous imperfections in these critters.  This one wound up having short legs - the arms were longer than the legs - so I attached socks on the bottom to lengthen the legs. But then, one foot was larger and slightly club-footed.  In spite of that, after posting on Facebook, everyone loved it.  I sent it to be adopted by a friend, so that critter has found a new home. 

Back in 1988, I had the idea to make my own custom stuffed animals.  I had had a pattern for a sitting cat pillow, and after making a few of those, modified and added to the design, to make a stuffed cat doll.  It progressed from there. I used a lot of materials that I already had - I cut up a lot of old clothes.  Some of my characters were Chef Doggie, Carmen MirandaCat, Freud the Goat, Feline Fine and Feline Better, Artist Pup, Aloha Doggie, Landscaper Cat, Hippie Dawg, Surfer and skateboard pups, couch potato pups, and more. For over 2 years, I created these animals.  Then, I wound up giving them all away - one Freud the Goat to my therapist, a Carmen Miranda Cat was given to a friend who was battling cancer, and the rest to family - mostly my nieces and nephews.  What is heartening for me is that some of these critters were passed down to my grand nieces and nephews, who are enjoying them today!  
Just a few of my creations; niece Sarah holds one of my fancy dog critters, while reading.

Gopher It

I have a modest little yard project, and the biggest challenge is our resident gopher, "Gracie." 
I guess once you've named the critter, it makes it more difficult to kill her. I wanted to find a non-lethal way to keep my garden, just making it not a fun place to be for Gracie...though truth to tell, it looks like Gracie was here first. I'm a fan of "The Invisible Organic Gardener", who states that: "Gophers are natives to here, and belong here. They are not evil, and deserve the right to live in peace. Seek peaceful solutions, first before you decide to kill. Do like captain Kirk. He would tell Spock, “Spock, we are not going to kill today.” So, please be kind to your wildlife friends. They need all the friends they can get!"…/

So, I decided on a non-lethal way after reading about the lethal, killing methods that others use to kill gophers - they don't always work, and can be destructive to the environment and other critters, too. And I would just feel bad if I killed an animal (though I still eat meat - go figure). So, forget that.

Although when our friend Bob was visiting the other day, Gracie was kicking up a fuss with the dirt, very conspicuously.
 Bob said: "Gimmee your hose - now turn it on!" and he flushed out Gracie's hole. At first, I worried that she had drowned, but she didn't - he just gave her a bath, and made her kick up more dirt the next day.
So, I poured coffee beans and sponges soaked in peppermint oil into Gracie's holes, which so far seem to work.  I also planted gopher-repellant plants, like rosemary, ceanothus and salvia. 

UPDATE: This morning, the lobelia laxiflora was still there; later on I looked out, and it was gone. Like magic. Cross that plant off my list of things to plant in our yard again!

TWO WEEKS LATER: After I put pieces of biodegradable sponges soaked in peppermint oil down each of Gracie's entryways 2 weeks ago, I have not seen hide nor hair of her - on our property, anyway. Our plants - if not exactly "thriving" - are at least "not dead yet". Unfortunately, it looks like Gracie has now moved lock, stock and burrow over to Mom's yard (saw her throwing dirt out of it this morning).  I ran out of peppermint oil, so put evergreen and tangerine oil on sponges and put them down her entryways. 

Will that work? We'll may be a ping pong game "gopher gopher, who's got the gopher now? Gracie: "Deb Wong - Gopher it!!!"

Sunday, June 14, 2020

Civil War - Can't We All Just Get Along Now?

Happy Flag Day! Look, I'm not a big flag waver. I'd prefer a "World" flag, but then again, I'm an old peacenik. Anyhoo, there's a lot of news of late about taking down statues and Confederacy icons, which is really about time. It's been 155 years since the end of the American Civil War (which was not so civil, when you think about it). 

Now, I am a Daughter of Union Veterans (three of my direct ancestors fought on the Union side in that war), but I am also the direct descendant of Confederate soldiers. My 3rd great-grandfather Benjamin Franklin Hammett was a Lieutenant who was wounded at the battles of Gettysburg and Chickamauga. My 3rd great-grandfather Thomas Cox Bowen fought in the Virginia Cavalry. Both of those veterans were my Grandpa Bowen's grandfathers, but not once did Grandpa wave a Confederate flag or even discuss the Confederacy. 

There's no honor in losing, sorry. It would be like having souvenirs of my two great uncles' "service" in San Quentin for armed robbery and kidnapping proudly displayed, or the moonshine still from another ancestor dug up and displayed, etc. Well...maybe the still woulda' been cool! 

Some things you just put away, acknowledge that they are part of history, and MOVE ON. The flag we use today is based upon the flag that our Union ancestors fought for, and won. 
I don't lord it over the "losers" - I am part of them, too - I'd just like to think that there is now just one side, "our" side.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

I Talk Funny to Cats

When I was young, I was talking funny to dogs, since that is all that we had.

I am not sure why I started out  conversing normally with an animal, then suddenly my voice takes on another

To be honest, this post should be called: "I talk funny to animals because I have talked to any furry creature I encountered (and a few non-furry ones) with a funny voice. I even funny talked a gopher out of a hole so that my photographer husband could get a shot of him (or her). 

When it was my family pets - or rather, pet family - I had a 
different way of speaking with each pet.  If I go any further in 
describing this, it all sounds a little nuts.  I somehow influenced my daughter, I guess, because she speaks funny to animals, as well. 

Maybe it isn't so weird to speak to animals.  After all, I am 
sure that St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals, 
spoke to animals.   If not,  Dr. Dolittle could be the patron saint of talking to animals.....

Sunday, April 26, 2020

It's All About the Stories

The stories will live on, long after we are gone. 
My own memories and experiences are interwoven with the stories told to me...added to the many stories I discovered when doing my genealogy.  

History and the tradition of storytelling among all cultures links us to the past, and the stories we hand down to our grandchildren links us to the future.  What stories will you tell?

For me, accuracy is important.  In genealogy, I verify the facts with documentation & cross-referencing. For those who do not have the advantage of obtaining the records, you might at least connect to your ancestry through DNA testing. That way, you can find matches who may have that information - family trees which lead back to you. 

Mostly, I don't want my loved ones to be forgotten, that their lives mattered. I have lost two siblings, and I want some of their stories to continue - even if they are through my own recollections.  I would hope that others might do the same for me. 

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

We Owe our Existence to H.M.S. Pinafore

My mom often told us about how she met my father.  They were both students at Mission High School in San Francisco.  He was Class of 1949, she was Class of '50.  Mission High had about 1,000 students, even back then, so it wasn't a given that they'd ever meet.

I guess I owe my existence to H.M.S. Pinafore, and the Mission High drama department, because that is where they met, in 1949.  Mom was playing the character of "Little Buttercup", and my father was "Dick Deadeye".  Good casting.  

Both parents also performed in other musical productions at Mission High.  For example, my father played one of the Guards in "The Mikado".

Mom wasn't in that one, and she didn't perform with Louis Hagler in another play, so she may never had met our father but not for "Pinafore", as Lou was due to graduate soon after that production.  

Mom did get a nice mention in the S.F. Examiner about her role as "Little Buttercup".

This is one of those "what if?" moments.  Mom could have married this guy, George somebody(?) who she said was "very nice, a sweet boy, but dull as dishwater."  That's mom and George at the Polo Field in S.F., 1948.    And couldn't the photographer have left his shoes out of that shot?!?!?