Mauve and Wine Iris In The Rain

I was so lucky yesterday. It had been doing this light rain, almost a mist, most of the morning, but had tapered off when I first got up. I was able to get out and get some photos of one of my favorite subjects, flowers coated in raindrops, before it started pouring, which it did for the rest of the day.

I was so excited when I went through them about the number of shots that actually came out really well. I should have plenty of pretty photos to share for a little while now.

I managed to get all of BG’s masks done yesterday and the remaining 30 some masks half way finished. I basically did all the small piecing and minor hemming that needed to be done and stopped before putting the front and backs together with the elastic and/or ribbon (doing 2 different types for versatility).

Today there is going to be a crap ton of pinning going on before I can get back to sewing. Because I am doing the 2 different types, I might actually have enough materials to get most of these finished today.

I doubt I’ll be able to get them all done as my ribbon hasn’t shown up yet. I have some on hand, but probably not nearly enough to finish. I had originally planned to do them all the same, but rethought that because of all the different people that would be getting one.

The new option was to go with the original mask design and use the elastic loops for the ears. This seems to really only work for adults and, as my Hubby can attest, not all of them. So… two different styles it is.

I had a point yesterday where I panicked a bit because I thought I was actually going to run out of thread. After years of forgetting if I had enough thread while I was at the store getting materials for a project and just getting a new spool to be safe, I actually ran out of 2 spools of white thread. Granted, both were partial spools, but still. I ran out! I went through all of what I had and found a couple more partials and I think I’ll have enough to finish. Maybe.

I REALLY hope I don’t have to make an emergency run to the store just for thread.

 

Dandelion Seeds

The neighbors are kind enough to not maintain their yard. I was finally able to get a nice fluffy dandelion seed head within steps of my yard to photograph without having to crawl around in the middle of their yard to get the shot. I love their lack of motivation from a photography standpoint. Hubby really does not appreciate it at all when looking at it from a yard maintenance perspective, though.

Besides crawling around trying to get some fun shots, I spent the day yesterday making some more masks. I now have all the pieces cut and ready to go for 35 masks. This included getting all the iron on additions along the sides (2 pieces for each mask) done as well. All I have left to do is sew them together.

I plan to get as many of these done today as I can, but I don’t have all the elastic I need to finish them. I have it on order and it should be here in the next day or so. BTW… good luck finding any for a reasonable price right now. Sheesh!

I might consider doing more if there is a demand, but as of today, my hand is killing me from all the cutting. Not just the fabric, but all the tiny little iron ons had to be cut, one of which was on the more detailed side. At least the sewing part of this won’t murder those already abused joints. It will be my back instead after having been bent over all day.

Once these are all done, they are getting gifted. One person has already asked to buy one (before I knew for sure I was going to do these), but I’ve decided that I’m not taking any money for them. It is something I really wanted to do and I like the idea of working on a project like this. The overall amount of money I will have spent when it is all said and done is negligible because close to half of these are done with scrap material I already had on hand. Besides, the group these are going to will be interacting with BG on a regular basis soon, so this just means I’m going a little above and beyond in my effort to keep my kid safe and healthy in addition to all the other people it would help.

Today’s goal is to get all of BG’s finished first. I have 4 that she has designed with fabric and print. I also need to make a final decision on what I’m doing for elastic options on the ones I’m giving away. The way I’ve modified these for BG (oh, the wire cup thingy I spent hours on the other day ended up not working well for her and we are going with the same design I made for Hubby and I, go figure!) may not work as well for everyone. I have to figure out what would be the most versatile for the most people and go from there.

All that to say I’m probably going to be busy for the next several days.

 

Purple Frills

We actually got some sun yesterday and today is promising to be stunning. All the windows are open and I’m planning on spending at least a part of the day out playing with my flowers. A much needed break from the last couple of days.

Yesterday was BG’s last day of school and I’m so glad this year is done for both of the kids now. She took her last test, which was her pre-calc final the day before. I don’t think I’ve ever seen her break down so hard or so fast over anything school related, let alone math related since she started on the accelerated path in 6th grade with a small group of other students and were still expected to know what the 7th graders had already learned and the 6th graders had skipped.

There were so many pieces to the why behind it, but a HUGE part of that is that the material needed to do well on the test wasn’t covered well since the students went online and the prep for the test was almost non-existent. There are some questions over whether a graded test should have even been presented based on district guidelines for the remainder of this year, especially for those students not taking it as a dual credit.

She talked to friends in the same class that had other teachers that didn’t even come close to the issues she had, so I have a whole lot of questions behind what went on with her class. I’m even thinking the other students took a VERY different test as theirs was only a 90 minute test and hers was 3 frickin’ hours long.

In the end, she did well enough to maintain her A for the course, but she was not happy with her performance. This after hours of study and note taking, a process that normally makes any test taking she does a breeze. Of all the things to go sideways in the massive changes that happened this year, I cannot stand that this has potentially shaken her faith in her own ability to handle the higher level math classes, even if only by a fraction.

So, yeah. I’m thrilled they are done with school for the year. She did get some hugely positive news on the tail end of it, though. She was accepted into a mentor program through the school for the next year, so that helped to end her year on a better note.

Yesterday was also my day to try and prep her for going back to her dance classes. As an assistant, she will be required to wear a mask. It looks like it is optional for dancers, but I’m not giving her that option. To make this possible, I was working on a mask design for her.

She has some anxiety issues and, maybe, mild asthma (though we haven’t gotten a doctor to confirm either). Because of that, she sometimes feels like she is having a slightly hard time breathing. When she tried on one of my masks, she couldn’t tolerate the fabric against her nose. I had to brainstorm and get creative, but I came up with an option that worked. I just had to fine tune it.

It took a bulk of my day to change the pattern I had and work though the logistics, but I now have a prototype for the rest of the masks I need to make her. All fit a small, wire mesh “cup” that I’ve formed to fit her face and give her space between her nose and the fabric. I have more sewing to do on these than on the masks I made for Hubby and I, but it looks like it is going to work well. She is supposed to try it out while dancing and see if I need to make any tweaks.

One of the things I did was use an iron on paper and printed the dance studio’s logo on one side of the mask and their nickname on the other. I posted pictures of it on FB and now I have at least one of her teachers wanting one. After talking to BG, I think my mask making project just got ramped up.

It is so damn weird to know that the kids are officially out of school for the summer and yet I’m prepping her to go back to dance, which is usually doing recitals around this time of year.

Oh! I caved yesterday after having to restart my computer several times just to get my internet connection back and get the damn thing to even start up. I have a new computer on the way. It would be awesome for things to calm down for a while. Seriously.

Peony

One of my two peonies are blooming. My other one should be opening in the next couple of days. That means that with my iris, I have tons of color going on in my yard right now.

Now if the weather could get its act together and remember that we are in mid/late May instead of April, that would be great. I’d also really like to see the sun again soon. That’d be great.

Mauve And Wine Iris

When compared to yesterday’s iris, this one seems less dainty and delicate, but it is just as eye catching because of its color. This one is the most colorful iris I have, but it also has the smoothest petals of all of them. I think the rust colored one comes in second, but it still has more ruffling than this one.

The lower petals are a deep, dark wine color that leans towards the purple end of the spectrum while the upper petals are a gorgeous mauve. Those colors frame the center that pulls in some yellows and even some cream, especially along the lower petals where that bright yellow fringe (did you know this is called the beard and is where the term bearded iris comes from? I did not until I looked it up so I could get the correct term) which gives the inside of those lower petals almost a tiger strip kind of pattern closer to the heart.

It is most likely the fact that you can find so many differences, both subtle and bold, in irises that makes these one of my favorite flowers. That and the blooms are always so large they fill any area they are planted in, at least through the blooming season. Even when they are done, the big flat leaves stay looking nice for a long time. I’m sure it also helps they are really easy to grow and require almost no maintenance other than thinning out their number every few years.

Celebrations, Events, And Hard Decisions

The day after we get updated information about the plans for holding BG’s recital this year, Hubby gets notified that he will be working from home through the summer. Only critical infrastructure employees will be allowed back in the office.

Hearing that Hubby is going to be allowed to work from home for at least that long was such a massive relief. He works in a large building with a lot of other people. Their set up is currently a semi-shared space that doesn’t work with any kind of distancing. They are working on making changes to the entire building, but options and space are limited, so work from home for those that can is the current state. And I’m so very, very happy about that.

At the same time, BG is supposed to return to dance class the first part of June. The studio has made some changes to do what they can to ensure safety, including shortened class times to give time to sanitize and changes in routines that eliminate all physical contact (mostly only ever in the younger grades). Staff and assistants will wear masks as well.

While the changes are definitely good, it is still a very active thing and some classes, ALL of BG’s classes, are full of dancers. Even the change in how they utilize the space to give more room and limiting all space in the studio to dancers and teachers only, still leaves a pretty crowded studio for many of these classes.

Then there will be recital. There are some massive changes to their normal plan. What was previously broken into two shows will now be 5 and based on grade level. This reduces the number of girls in dressing rooms and the number of people in the audience.

What does not change is the fact that the older girls that participate in certain performances, which BG does for the first time this year, will still participate in every show. Instead of her performing those dances 4 times between dress rehearsal and recital, it will be 10. For each dance, of which she has potentially 3 (still waiting on word for one dance). This is on top of her other 5 dances she will do in her own show.

Also because she is in every show for those dances and to assist her younger girls, she will be at the venue from 9am until probably close to 9pm or after for two days in a row. This presents yet another issue.

They have asked that you only attend the show for your child. Technically, her show is the last one, but she is there all day. I either take her and drop her off, or I stay. In previous years, she was only ever there for the 1 show, but I had planned on just staying for both because the venue is not close to home. Parking sucks beyond belief and getting a decent seat is damn near like trying to get the latest “must have” item at a black friday sale (more on recital day than dress rehearsal, but still crazy).

Now, the last issue is more one of convenience for me over most anything else and , logically, the issues with parking and seating should be reduced drastically because of the smaller show sizes. It should also mean smaller audience sizes. But… how many people have you seen recently that follow the rules or suggestions? I’ve seen some of the family that attend this event. I’m not thinking overly positive about the outcome, even if the studio is doing their damnedest to make this happen in a safe way.

This is currently scheduled for the first half of July and, as has been seen lately, things that seem fine today may be horrible as soon as tomorrow.

I am so damn torn about the whole thing.

I 100% support their efforts in what they are trying to do and I know why they are so determined to still hold this event. This is on par with graduation, if not even more important, for a huge number of the girls that are seniors this year. Seniors are missing out on so much already. I get it. There is a need to find a balance that includes mental health and that is where their efforts come in.

I just have to wonder, when it is all said and done, if it is worth the risk.

They are asking that no one come to the studio that has even traveled outside the state, but will people abide by that request? There is no way to ensure absolutely that they do. They have also stated to not come if you aren’t feeling well or have been around someone that is sick. Again, it is only a request and really cannot be enforced other than to not let someone in that looks obviously ill. I have no clue how they are going to manage the recital at all.

None of that even begins to take into consideration the distribution of costumes (always a very close contact event) and picture day where the lobby is wall to wall students and parents.

Here we are with Hubby’s work running on an abundance of caution (which I am so incredibly grateful for) and then we are pulled in the other direction for BG’s dance.

The thought of not getting a recital this year breaks my heart, but… is it really worth it? I just don’t know.

Toss onto that dumpster fire of “no good solution” is the fact that we also have MC’s graduation scheduled for the end of July. I’m slightly less worried about this event because it is only a few hours tops on a single day in a venue that is more versatile for distancing, but you are still talking about a very large number of people gathering under one roof.

As of right now, I’m cautiously going to allow BG to go to classes when they resume and wait and see what other information will be forthcoming about recital. There is more control in the studio than there is at the venue and she will at least be able to wear a mask.

I’m also going to be watching the news in my area very closely. The studio has been following guidelines and they have made student safety a priority, but there isn’t a lot of clear guidance as to what is actually safe right now and that is my biggest concern.

I don’t want to have to tell either one of my kids that they shouldn’t participate in these incredibly important events, but when you look at the much larger picture, it isn’t just about them. It is about the friends and families of those girls (and a few guys). It is about the people that have to take care of them if they get sick. It is about the people that get left behind if the worst happens.

It makes it even harder to impress this on them, though they are listening, when we essentially live in this sort of bubble where the virus hasn’t really blown up. That sense that “it can’t happen to me” kind of invincibility is too easy to believe. I really believe that is playing a part in the decisions to move forward holding these events.

I’m lucky in that my kids are reasonable. I think that if it came down to it, they would understand. They would be hugely disappointed, but I do think they’d understand. It doesn’t make any of it even a fraction easier, though.

If I were pressed, I have to say that I really don’t think holding these events, even with precautions, is the smart thing to do. Feeling that way makes this so much harder as I just don’t know what the best plan is moving forward. I don’t want to be the bad guy, but I absolutely will if I feel that the situation in my area has gotten bad enough. I hate that I may actually be in the position to have to do that.

 

Dianthus

I still have to get these and my lavender in the ground. That is my goal for the day and hopefully the ground isn’t too wet.

The one issue is that I have to be careful where I plant my lavender because I can’t actually be around it for any length of time or it will trigger a migraine. I love lavender, though, so I could no pass up having some. I just have to make sure it’s where I can see it more than smell it.

My lettuce and spinach seeds have already started sprouting in my indoor pots and the larger pot outside is sprouting one, but the other hasn’t started yet. I think it is the spinach, but it is still too small to tell and I didn’t mark the sides, because of course that would be the smart thing!

My shasta daisy seeds also haven’t sprouted yet, but I didn’t expect them to just yet.

I am probably going to have to do a major thinning on my irises once they are done blooming. They have absolutely filled the areas I currently have them planted in. While it is good in that it creates a perfect barrier for any weeds, it is also not good in that they are beginning to encroach on some other plants I have in the same beds.

The display is absolutely gorgeous though!

Iris Flower Bed
Iris Flower Bed

Technical Difficulties

One of the quickest ways to turn a good day into a crap one is to have problems with your technology.

I have spent way too much of my day either attempting to get yet another problem fixed on my computer (spoiler alert: didn’t get it fixed) or researching how much it would cost to get a new one (ugh! really?) because I’ve about had it.

I absolutely hate that when it comes to technology, there are very few options for keeping old tech functioning well, especially computers. I wast just forced to get a new tablet, so I really don’t want to be forced to get a new computer, but I may not have a choice soon.

As of right now, I’m running, just not well. I’m also apparently at a point where my computer isn’t going to run anymore updates for software that I pay a subscription for. I cannot even manage to uninstall it in an effort to install a clean version (and yes, all the virus scans have been run and are clean).

When I got the new Adobe products, I ran into some compatibility issues, but it was on some of the pieces I probably won’t use and only needed the one for a project BG was doing for school. I figured as long as I’m still able to run and do what I need to do, I should be fine. I’ve always tried to be of the mind that I will run something in the ground before I’m forced to replace it.

Except…

I’m constantly getting kicked off the internet for reasons that have absolutely nothing to do with our service as I’m the only one that ever gets bounced, and only with my computer. If it were a simple disconnect, I’d probably deal with it, but it requires a restart of my computer. Every time. Sometimes multiple times a day.

I could go on for days about all the issues I have with simple tasks taking way too long to complete (restarting being a biggie), and lately, some of them just failing instead. To an extent, this is something that speaks to this now highly ingrained need for instant anything all the time, but I shouldn’t need to go take a potty break or a coffee break while I’m waiting for my computer to load something basic. It reminds me of dial up in the 90’s.

I upgraded my ram a couple of years ago when I first started having problems (did a check and I’m at almost 5 years old on this one) and that made a huge difference and I seemed to have averted the need to upgrade for a while. Sadly, the last 6 months or so have been an exercise in patience and frustration and theorizing the ability for a laptop to fly through a window or a wall. Or how it would hold up under the weight of my car as I run over it. Repeatedly. After chucking it into the street.

Some days are way better than others, even to the point where I may not have a single issue for a few days. Then you hit days like today where every single thing works like crap or doesn’t work at all and I waste so much time trying to get things working again.

That makes it even harder to make the decision to get a new one because this one IS working, just in an exceptionally crappy way. It is really hard to justify replacing something that technically still works. Especially when the issue is most likely one small piece of a bigger whole that is either outdated or going bad (or in my case, potentially a combination of those two). It seems like such a ridiculous waste.

I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed that I can eek out some more time before I’m forced to give in to the inevitable. I will be on constant back up mode, just in case, though.

Reds In Black & White

This is the same one I posted yesterday, just in black and white. Of all the things I’ve played with in the new Photoshop, the ability to tweak color levels to effect the tones when going to black and white is one of my favorites (along with the HDR toning). It allows a little more control over what works and what doesn’t and gives a phenomenal level of control over contrast, but in subtle ways.

It’s fun to go in and see what you can push and the kinds of results you can get playing with that feature. I’ve only done a couple so far, but I love the results.

Rusty Red Iris

For some reason, I only have a couple of these and they are randomly placed, not clustered like all my other irises.

They are also a pain in the butt to photograph because the color almost never comes out correctly. There is something about my camera and accurately rendering reds that I haven’t quite gotten the hang of. This is where Photoshop becomes my friend. Unless of course, your monitor isn’t the same as mine, then who the hell knows what color you are seeing. This fact is a major point of frustration for me.

Yesterday, MC took his last remaining AP final (AP Calculus) and is officially done with all high school work. He has to go to the school next week to turn in equipment and books, pick up any honor sashes/cords for graduation and then make it to the ceremony scheduled for the end of July, but he is absolutely done with high school now.

Yesterday also brought news that we are probably looking at the new normal for our household, at least through the end of summer as Hubby will not be going back into the office until then at the earliest.

I’ve said before that for the most part, things around here feel much like they would around the holidays when Hubby is on vacation and everyone is home. While we are now well past the longest everyone has been at home at the same time and it still mostly feels that way, it is going to be interesting to see if it continues to feel that way.

After he got the word that this will extend (so damn grateful he works where he does), I joked around that I’m going to have to find some projects to work on in my studio so I have an “escape” from time to time. If I think about it, it is going to be a kind of test to see how well we handle retirement. The only real difference will be that the kids are still at home.

I’m seeing news of some universities saying at least the fall semester classes are going to be online only, but we haven’t heard anything along those lines from MC’s school yet. He is a little worried because there are certain requirements for his scholarship that he has to meet that, as of right now, requires in person interaction. It is also the requirement that he live on campus his first year. I’ve told him that I’m sure the school will make sure that whatever steps they take, it isn’t going to impact his scholarship. It is one of the very many things on the “wait and see” list.

He didn’t really stress about ending high school from home. The most stress he has really shown over the last couple of months was studying for his AP exam. With news about other schools starting to pop up, he is beginning to stress about what will or won’t happen in the fall.

It really does not help one bit that we live in an area that really hasn’t been hit yet. I’m 100% sure that a big part of the small number of cases in our area is because we have local leaders that stepped up fast and hard before it could and it did amazing things to slow down the spread. Sadly, with the push for things to start opening back up, we are going to see those numbers start to spike and everything that has current, tentative plans to happen will most likely change when that spike starts, so it is impossible to think anything will be as it looks right now.

We aren’t even close to being anywhere near out of the woods yet.

From The Top

Hubby ended up taking a vacation day yesterday. In part so he could get a lot of errands run that he needed to do, including going with me to get some flowers, and to get some much needed work done in the yard.

The trip out was interesting and frustrating to say the least. I only went to Home Depot with the plan to only stay in the outdoor section. Apparently, that isn’t allowed because you cannot enter that area. You have to go through the main door so that you can be counted. You can leave through the outdoor section, but you can’t come in that way. Instead, you are being forced to potentially come in contact with even more people by going through the main entrance before you can access the outdoor section.

If I were to estimate, maybe only 25% of the people there were wearing masks, including those working (this from a company that touts providing PPE for all employees, but they apparently don’t require they actually wear any). One of the non-mask wearing workers was coughing like crazy the whole time we were there. Another group was a woman and her 4 kids that looked like high school age all the way down to maybe 3rd grade, none wearing masks or understanding the concept of personal space, let alone stay 6 feet apart.

There are reasons I’ve opted to let Hubby do all the running. This trip didn’t convince me to change my mind. On the plus side, my masks are actually really comfortable and fit extremely well so there was no fidgeting needed which made me feel so much better.

I wasn’t able to get everything that I was hoping to find, sadly. I was able to get what I needed to fill my pots. I also picked up a small lavender plant to go in the ground and a pot of pretty dianthus that will also go in one of my beds somewhere.

When I was looking at the lavender, I spotted the strawberry plants. I have only ever tried growing them once years ago when I had the space, but decided to grab a few on a whim for BG as she absolutely LOVES strawberries. That and I thought it would be fun for her. Between those a few packets of seeds (lettuce, spinach and shasta daisies) that rounded out my trip.

BG was excited to get her strawberries and helped me get EVERYTHING planted. At least the potted ones as I didn’t get the in ground ones done yesterday. It was such a huge help and I loved the fact that she had so much fun. She is a little giddy at the idea that she is getting to grow and take care of her own strawberries, so that was an amazing impulse buy on my part.

I was glad to get my pots taken care of, but I was really disappointed that I couldn’t find everything I wanted. I could go to one of the nurseries if they are open (and around here I really don’t know if they are), but I’m really not sure it is worth it at this point. I did look into ordering some of those things, but didn’t find a site that had what I was looking for (in part because of things not quite being in season). I may dig a little deeper and see if I can locate at least a few things online.

In the mean time, I’ll be watching to see if my seeds come up. I’ve never grown lettuce or spinach myself, so that is going to be a lot of fun.