Balloon Spiders…

I came up with this idea many years ago and they have become a staple for our Hallowe’en decorations. Now I have an actual porch, I can put them up without fear of kids falling off my stoop.

To make balloon spiders, you need:

12″ round balloons

4 black pipe cleaners per balloon

fishing line or tape, depending on your method of displaying.


Inf late the balloon so that it is not fully expanded. You will need to be able to twist the balloon without breaking it and tie it off. Squeeze the balloon until you can make two sections, one larger than the other. Usually, you end up with the smaller end being the end with the tied end.

Bend the very end of each pipe cleaner over on itself to hide the sharp end of the wire and press the pointy wire firmly against the pipe cleaner. That way you don’t ave small children getting poked in the eye and you won’t burst your finished spiders

Gather ther pipe cleaners into a bundle so the ends are all even. Hold your bundle of 4 pipe cleaners and bend the bundle in the middle.

Fold the bend over the twisted part of your balloon and twist once around to secure then. This keeps the balloon from untwisting and keeps your “legs” from falling off.

Bend the pipe cleaners into spidery legs once about half way down each leg and fiddle with them until they look right.

You can either tape your spider to the door or on a wall with a small fold of tape or you can tie a length of fishing line and suspend them.

I also made this hand-cut paper bag luminaria. I only made the one this year. I have a whole bunch packed away somewhere and have yet to find them. They are made from orange paper bags and brown paper bags.

… and, of course, more photos of the pumpkins. Procrastinator that i am, I didn’t get around to adding the horns I had planned using the small gourds you see on the ground in front of the finished pumpkins.

PhotoHunter: Dark

A day late and a dollar short… or a few dollars, since holidays are NOT cheap. I’ve been concentrating on getting the Hallowe’en stuff ready and, of course, I left everything to the last minute, couldn’t find things (like the extension cord for the pumpkin lights), got mad at mom for repeatedly asking if the extension cord under her bed and “what colour was it”, then felt badly for getting snippy with her for that when she asked if I might have left it wrapped around the mower — which I HAD–, cut myself, forgot to add the horns to the pumpkins despite having told myself 15 times not to forget… held everyone up at the Loblaws express checkout because I misread the sale price for the candy I was buying at the last minute…

But at least that means I have something very fresh (if a bit out of focus and wobbly) for the Photo Hunt. I will have to take some more tomorrow when I have my tripod and can slow it down.

Yes... That IS snow...

Now, I have to make my balloon spiders (photos and instructions, here).

PhotoHunt: Orange

We had this same theme some time ago. LUCKILY I have a new photo on the same theme taken a few weeks ago.

Orange Lodge #187, Patterson's Corners

The building is now the home of the Kemptville Snowmobile Klub clubhouse. “In 1979 the KSK purchased the clubhouse where it is presently located at Pattersons Corners Road and O’Neil Road, just south of Oxford Mills. The clubhouse was formerly an Orange Lodge and with a large amount of work from volunteers in the club it has been converted into a clubhouse with two floors of meeting space and full facilities.”

It dates back to at least 1889 when it was one of a number participating in a parade in Smiths Falls commemorating the 199th Anniversary of the Battle of the Boyne.

Fall colours the same day, at the Reynold’s Cemetery, Garretton, Ontario.

Besoin de employment….

Last Friday, I was informed, along with all the people in my company who work on the government project that I have been involved with for nine years (as of the beginning of January) that we will be out of a job on December 31st..

As I understood it, this was because of cut-backs in the government contracts for the project, resulting in downsizing at our company. However, I have since learned that this is completely to do with our company’s downsizing. We aren’t sure what was at the root of this… economy… over-confidence…. Whatever, I now am faced with unemployment in the New Year.

At first, I was fairly calm about it because my mother’s pension would be able so that I would be able to take my time in finding other work. However, given the situation with having to look after Mom and be available for appointments as the inevitable and repeated panicked phonecalls over things that are not important, given my age, my lack of French fluency, and lack of a degree, I began to worry about things. Since I suffer from depression and anxiety, inevitably, my mind started going over and over the situation and I was beginning to get back in the old panic-mode.

I don’t like the idea of “living of my mother”, despite the fact that I am looking after her and doing pretty much everything for her.

I have contemplated inquiring about the government’s “full-time caregiver” program which pays family to look after parents or other family members who might otherwise require full-time professional in-home help or institutionalizing.

Last evening, I was pretty down.

I decided to go out to Smiths Falls to see my friends Ray and Rob playing. Even then, I was beginning to feel like I should have stayed home, even though I thoroughly enjoy being out with them.

Sometime at the beginning of the show, a guy walked past me and I thought for a moment he looked familiar. However, as I am at the bar fairly frequently, I know many of the regulars at least to nod to. I figured he was one of them. Towards the end of the set, I went back to use the washroom and the guy was sitting in the back room and I realized that I DID know him. I had worked with him… or at least in the same government office. Like me, he was a contractor but worked for a different company. Since I also had to go over to his company’s offices to pick up and drop of materials that we were both working on, we had a nodding acquaintance and sometimes exchanged “Hi! How are yous”.

However, after a rather uncomfortable encounter we had quite by chance in Toronto, I wasn’t sure what to say to him or if I should stop and chat. I nodded, said “Hi”.and continued to the washroom.

While in there, I pondered whether I should stop and talk. It was only polite to stop and say hello and ask how he was but I wasn’t sure what the reception would be. The last time I saw him was when I went to Toronto when my friend was ill, the week before she died. I saw him on the street near Dovercourt. I pulled over and flagged him down and he didn’t know me from Adam…. We saw each other almost every day and it was like I was trying to pick him up or something (he’s gay, as far as I know – which, if he thought I was trying to pick him up, that could explain a few things… Lol…). He was pretty evasive and after a few uncomfortable sentences I said goodbye. I wondered if maybe he didn’t want anyone to know he was in Toronto. It was just by complete chance that I saw him, too, because I had been heading down to the Kim Moon Bakery on Dundas and it was still closed so I just drove right along Dundas and tooled around a bit at the far end before heading back. I was actually sort of lost. So had I just been coming and going to the bakery, I’d not have seen him at all. It was just an all-round- odd situation.

So… anyway, I decided to bite the bullet and say Hi and ask him how he was and then head back to our table. He actually seemed pretty chatty… or chatty-ish so I stopped and we talked about what we were doing and I said that my job was ending and he immediately said I should apply at his company. We talked about that and he actually gave me a lot of confidence. I was feeling pretty depressed up to that point and I just felt “okay” and hopeful.

We parted company and I asked Shawn the bartender to send him back a beer and settled into the the last of the set. The guys eventually took a break and we chatted as we usually do. They actually took a very long break, just doing two sets for the evening instead of three. Anyhow, just as they started the second set, I felt a hand on my shoulder and it was  him. He had forgotten my name and I his. He thanked me for the drink and then said that he thought I should also try another company and gave me the name.

A far cry from the time I saw him in TO.

Anyhoo… It came out during our conversation that he had sort of the same issues with his mother about a years ago (possibly why the stand-off-ishness in TO?) and that helped, too. We didn’t dwell on it and I should have asked but I didn’t want him to feel pressed into talking with me if he didn’t actually want to. Maybe we will bump into each other there, again. I have no idea if he lives in Smiths Falls… Stupid me, I didn’t think to ask….

The upshot was, I went home feeling pretty optimistic and then, during my research for this week’s PhotoHunter I ran across some ideas for making jewellery and it got me thinking of other things to do which I could do to contribute financially while also taking time off to look after Mom.

I am feeling a little more confident and a little more able to think positively about the future.

PhotoHunter: Miniature

This week’s PhotoHunter theme is “miniature”.

One of the many things that I have acquired over the years from my mother is a rather beautiful powder compact (another word for miniature). I don’t know how she got it or when, but I suspect that it was during the early 1950s when she was living in New York City with my father.

My father was an enamelist in those days, living and working in the Lower East Side and then in Greenwich Village. He also taught at the Art Student’s League. I know the piece is not his and although there is no signature, I suspect that it might be by and artist by the name of Karl Drerup. It is of such a high quality that it really outshines the chipped yellow metal compact.

Karl Drerup used the image of St. George (of St. George and the Dragon fame) in a quite a number of works and I think the piece bears a striking resemblance to some of his work.

I have sent a query off to the Karl Drerup Art Gallery at Plymouth State University, just on the off-chance.

Photohunt: Stripes

This week’s Photohunt theme is “Stripes”….

Sweet Dumpling Squashes are striped and delicious. Since they are smallish, one squash serves one to two persons. We will be having some of these for our Thanksgiving dinner on Monday.

Other squashes are striped, as well.

Some of my favourite stripes appear in photos taken from the dash on late-might drives…

This weekend is also the last weekend of the Butterfly Show at Carleton University. I took Mom today but it was really crowded and parents were not controlling their children and they were disturbing any butterflies I tried to take photos of, as well as pushing past Mom who is frail and walks with a cane. So… only a couple of bad photos. However, the following are from two visits several years ago.

These are all brought in and hatched in the greenhouse specially for the exhibit. The exhibit lasts for 10 days and many of the butterflies are near the end of their life-cycle by the end of the show (as seen by the photo of the butterfly at bottom centre whose wings are so worn that they are now transparent).

I have more photos, here and here

Jeans…. Just how old do YOU think they are?s

Just about anyone in North America who grew up from the late 1950s onwards has worn blue jeans. Popular culture has led us to believe that jeans were an “American invention” of the late 19th century, and developed by Levi Strauss and Jacob Davis.

In fact, “jeans” or pants made from the hard-wearing fabric “Gênes” or “blue de Gênes” (blue of Genoa) were worn by sailors sailing from India (the name Dungarees is said to come from Dongari Killa in Bombay, where the fabric was manufactured). Some experts say that the fabric developed simultaneously in Europe and India. Quite likely, it began in Europe and was introduced in India. The name denim comes from “de Nimes” for the French city

Whatever its true origin, the fabric, in Europe was used as far back as the 15th century a material for the common people, the working classes. Because of this, we have little actual evidence of the material. It was worn to shreds by its wearers and disappeared into history.

However, the work of an anonymous 17th century Northern Italian painter, newly discovered and dubbed “The Master of the Blue Jeans”, allows us to put into visual context what was mere supposition before. The painter focused on the poor and working-classes and all but one of his known paintings show people wearing or using a heavy fabric, dyed a familiar Indigo hue. The details in tears reveal  the blue was threaded with white and seams are often the familiar double-seams we know so well from modern jeans.

An exhibit at Galarie Canesso, in Paris, is showing works by “The Master of Blue Jeans” and others, revealing the humble “Gênes”. The full catalogue is available on line.



"Beggar Boy with a Piece of Pie" Master of Blue Jeans / Galerie Canesso



"Woman Begging with Two Children"Master of the Blue Jeans / Galerie Canesso




^ "Shepherd" 18th C. Ligurian Sculptor ^ detail


PhotoHunt: Letters

I am a little late this week.

I got a little “surprise” yesterday (which included a letter). A meeting with one of the Principles in my company informed me that, as of December 31st, 2010, I will be unemployed. The mandate of the government department for which I work ends in March 2012 and they are precipitously reducing the number of contractors doing the work.

If I had gotten this news a year and a half ago, I’d be freaking out.

My mother’s health situation means that I need to be in a flexible work situation. That makes getting a full-time position difficult. Since I need to be on a flexible schedule and preferably work at home, this reduces my chances of getting work. However, I am not concerned with this.

A year ago, my mother’s finances were… worse than a shambles… Now that I have managed to get her out of debts and ensured that her pension isn’t simply going out to pay the interest on her debts, we can manage quite well on one income. I want to be able to spend time with my mother while I can and I can be a better care-giver than I have been up until now.

Now for my PhotoHunt submissions…

I was intrigued not just by the graffiti on these rail cars, but by the various intended painted lettering on them. To their intended audience, the handlers and rail-workers, they probably make sense. Not knowing what they actually means, we are forced to take whatever meaning we can from them.

"1 1/2 In. Comp. Shoes"

"SOO 63317"

"Sens" (click image for full size)

I’ve done a little research on the tagger, here. I have no idea where “Sens” is based but their tags appear in both Europe and in North America.

And, of course, since I can’t just take a photo…

More photos here

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