Black and White Drops and Ruffles

I had such a hard time deciding if I wanted to post this version or the color version because they are both amazing. So…

Peach Iris Coated In Rain
Peach Iris Coated In Rain

Yesterday went well for BG. She feels so much better about everything now that she knows how the new normal looks and runs at dance.

The masks were an absolute hit and cracked me up to no end. BG hadn’t been in the studio with them for 5 minutes when I see the owner walk out with one on. Less than a minute later the teacher for that class also walks out with hers on (all the students were greeted with hand sanitizer outside the doors of the studio before they were allowed in). It was funny and sweet and I’m over the moon thrilled that they are enjoying them.

Another upside was that all the kids going into the studio had their masks. The parents standing around socializing outside weren’t as good about keeping theirs on or keeping their distance, but it could have been so much worse.

The sad thing, and we don’t know yet what it means going forward, was that probably half or less of the class showed up. It is going to be interesting to see how the rest of the week pans out as this was the very first of all the classes back. I’m especially concerned about how many older girls will show and how that will impact routines and recital.

BG was absolutely stunned to find out that her assistant friends from last night had either not practiced AT ALL or only a tiny bit. My girl has been dancing nearly every single day. As soon as a video for one of her routines was posted, she added it to her schedule and started working on it.

It is going to make an already chaotic and different recital even more so.

In some non-dance news, I’m working on making some changes for me. I’m sure it has already been noticed that the book reviews have dwindled down to almost nothing. There are lots of parts to this and I may still work up a post about that, but for now, I’m stepping back from most of that, including writing them for Envie!

This blog has been and always will be a space for me to share the things that bring me joy with the occasional rant or emotional outpouring thrown in. When things start to feel like that isn’t the focus anymore, I’m going to make changes. It seems like now is one of those times. I’m still not 100% sure what all will be changing or how much. It may not even be all that noticeable because the photos will absolutely still be coming.

Life is so full of stress and frustration and uncertainty right now, the last thing I need is for my blog to add to that so I’m going to make sure it isn’t.

Iris, Honeysuckle, & Chaos

Okay, so there isn’t anything really special about this photo, but there is something about the color contrast of the honeysuckle bloom laying on that purple petal that just kind of grabs you. I just thought it was an interesting contrast of colors, especially because it was such an unintentional setup.

Today marks the beginning of the chaos that was originally supposed to start back in April. BG goes back to dance for the first time since early March. With that comes a whole lot of new chaos that wasn’t in the original plans.

Yes, she will still be at the studio 4 times a week. Yes she will still have her extra rehearsal times for her additional performances. Those parts were already in the plans. Now included is the requirement for ALL students, teachers, staff, pretty much anyone that sets foot in the studio to wear a mask.

Even that requirement has been changed once as it was originally just staff and assistants that were required and all other students were optional, but local ordinances changed, so they implemented those changes.

My part of that effort will be going with BG to class tonight. A total of 30 masks, the bulk of which are for the studio staff. The handful of others will go to her fellow assistants in the classes she shares. I would have loved to have made one for every single assistant at the studio, but that number is nearly 100 and doesn’t include the actual staff.

It is going to be extremely interesting to see how everything plays out from here. I cannot imagine being a teacher and trying to enforce the mask rule on kids that are not only dancing, but in each other’s presence for the first time in months. Especially those in the much younger grades.

It is also going to be really interesting to see what kind, if any, push back they get from parents for enforcing that rule.

The other part of the chaos is going to be how I handle her long days at the studio.

Normally, the days she is there for longer than an hour, I go back home. Now, classes have been slightly shortened to allow staff to do any sanitizing between classes and to try and minimize the surge of students passing each other through the lobby between classes. I’m not certain what this means for ballet days where BG already normally has an hour gap between as they have not said anything about those students needing to leave. If she has to leave the studio, it would mean I’d need to stay the entire 2 1/2 hours so she could come sit with me in the car for that gap. The 20 minute drive home makes it impractical to leave and come back.

To make that already confusing for those long days even more so, she has at least 2 where it is even longer because of extra rehearsals. The first one is this Saturday. She is supposed to be at the studio from 3:30 until 9, with 2 different breaks in between. One is that hour long break and the other is a 15 minute break.

I still haven’t decided what I’m going to do that day. The idea of sitting in the car for that long really doesn’t appeal and it’s not like I’m going to go hang out at a nearby restaurant or shop right now. I wasn’t doing it before and I’m certainly not doing it now. I still have time to come up with a plan, but I’m struggling.

I still have a whole lot of mixed feelings about all of this moving forward. Especially with recent events creating something of an outbreak bomb waiting to go off in the area. As of right now, all the numbers are still impossibly low, so that helps. I’m just not convinced it will stay that way and that the parents will act responsibly on sending their kids to classes.

The only thing I know for sure is that BG is as ready as is possible for her to be to go back. She still isn’t entirely comfortable with wearing a mask while dancing, but she has gotten used to it enough that I’m not worried it is going to set off an anxiety attack at the studio.

I’m also fully prepared to pack like I’m going on a trip with my camera, my computer and my tablet to ensure I can keep myself entertained. No matter how long I’m having to sit in the parking lot.

Thank goodness tonight will only be about an hour.

 

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.

 

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.

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.

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.

Pale Purple Iris

This particular iris is interesting because I have two that are near each other and almost the same color, except this one is a little bit paler. The other one’s color is more even and doesn’t lean towards white on the lower petals. The differences are extremely subtle and you wouldn’t notice them unless you were right up on them. I’m not certain if they are the same but presenting different for some reason, or if they are actually different types that just look very much alike.

In all, if you count these as two different ones, I think I have 4 different purple classic irises. I have a dark purple, a medium purple and these two different pale purple ones. The dark has several buds on it and will be open soon. The medium are still a ways off.

I have a few other colors and a siberian iris that are also still a ways off. The ones that are currently open are my white, the purple and cream, the pale purple, my one rust colored one and the dual color mauve/rusty one that photographs amazingly well (have yet to post a photo of that one this season).

I so desperately want to go and get some more flowers to plant, because these aren’t going to last long, but… I’m just not sure if I’m desperate enough. Hubby suggested I go early morning during the week, so I’m considering it. The area I live in is still relatively untouched by the virus, so the risk is lower than in a lot of areas. That is the only reason I’m even considering it. Whatever I decide, it won’t be over the weekend. Not with Mother’s day tomorrow. That isn’t a crowd I want to even contemplate.

White Iris & MC Day

Today is MC’s official last day of high school, the end of a huge phase of his life up until now. Under normal circumstances, it would feel like a big, sharp end with him having done all the normal things that would lead up to this moment.

The district would normally have the students wear their caps and gowns and walk through their grade and middle schools, high fiving the younger kids and seeing old teachers. There would be the expected build up of excitement among the students, the kind you could hear and feel just walking through the halls. Kids planning parties and celebrations. Some even participating in a senior skip day or a prank (some not always well thought out).

This year, instead of a bright, distinct end with seniors walking out the doors of the high school for the last time, it has felt more like senior year has dissipated and just faded out to nothing while they sat alone at home. Spring break became indefinite, followed by a scramble to finish presenting needed material in an online format so that those seniors were still prepared to take their final exams for any dual credit classes or their AP tests.

Not a single traditional event has been able to be held. I actually saw a T-shirt that kind of said it all…

Senior Skip Day Champions, Class of 2020.

It is an attempt to laugh at something that isn’t all that funny and so incredibly difficult for a lot of young people.

For MC, he has done an amazing job of just going with the flow. I cannot begin to express how proud I am of him for weathering this as well as he has. I know that a lot of seniors are really having a hard time and my heart hurts for them.

My kid is just the typical introvert and is often happier at home playing his games, so, for the most part, this isn’t that much different from what he would have been doing. He is missing his friends, but they have made the time to do some gaming together online.

I’ll be spending the day putting together MC’s favorite finger foods and we have both Deadpool movies waiting to be watched. It may not be what many would think of as a great celebration to close out his high school career, but it is exactly the kind of thing he loves, so that is what we will be doing.

I still have to come up with a plan for his graduation, something that is still on the calendar but can change at any moment. Considering he will be graduating with honors, I refuse to let that moment pass without something to mark it, no matter what is going on in the world.

For now, we are making it MC day and marking the end of this massive stage in his life. If you know a senior, high school or college, take a moment or 10 to celebrate them and how incredibly odd and extra emotional the ending of this time is for them., even if they are as laid back about it as MC is.