Maker Faire 2010

If it weren't for a chance meeting with an old instructor, I'd say that the $25 entry for the Maker Faire may be better spent elsewhere if you're middle-aged and have neither children nor the patience to learn to knit, sew or do other crafty/hobby things. It IS interesting, even educational, but the price is steep, considering a fifth of our workforce isn't working.
 Typewriter Person, May 2010
(this was underexposed, hence the graininess)
Maker Faire is amalgam of hands-on arts-and-crafts and do-it-yourself exhibits, tech demonstrations, tech art, and a carnival area organized by Make Magazine. I went to see the human-powered carvinal rides made by Cyclecide, which I enjoy because they are so unlike the passive experience of standard rides. They encourage, and in fact require, active participation, because they won't budge unless people actually exert energy to make them go! My personal favorite is the merry-go-round, because it involves kids screaming "pedal faster, dad!!!" at the guys in the center who look like they might keel over any second...

On to the chance meeting. I was walking down an aisle and saw a man at an exhibit with a name tag that said "Ron."  I gaped at him, thinking "I know him!" Given my blatant stare, he easily caught me looking and asked if I wanted to play with the electronics he had on display. That's when I recognized the voice. "Aren't you Ron H***?!? I took your Conceptual Physics class at SFSU!" He looked a little frightened at that point, so I assured him I loved his class -- Ron gave fun demonstrations during lectures and handed out tickets for the Laserium at the Morrison Planetarium to students who did well, or who whined loudly, as I did.
Ron and Me, May 2010
Confession: I actually groused to his brother, who exercised at the gym where I worked nights after attending classes in the morning and track practice in the afternoon, because I was too chicken to complain in person. Ron has been associated with a science museum called The Exploratorium forever. The Explo is a definite must-see for Bay Area visitors and residents alike, as I believe it was the first of its kind.
Colorful Calliope Player
One last distant memory. Back in the day, Doggie Diner was the place to go late at night, not because the food was good, but because it was cheap and open late. The heads from the restaurant sign show up at these festivals, and yes, they were at the Maker Faire. Good times...


Peace and Quiet

Madame A. Meilland a.k.a. Peace, Gloria Dei, and Gioia
was the first rose to bloom in my garden this year 
About 20 years ago, I decided my grandparents' house needed roses. I plunked 6 rose bushes into the ground way at the back of the rear garden, and lovingly cared for them for a good five or ten years before I lost interest. Besides, they were well-established by then and needed relatively little care.

Last spring, I lost one (either Heaven or Fragrant Cloud, I always confuse them) to ground compaction, and then I lost Queen Elizabeth this winter, likely for the same reason. You can see her brown carcass in the left background of the photo, I left her there in case she magically springs back to life. I was devastated. Roses were the first plants that brought me out to the garden and sparked something of an interest in grubbing in the dirt! So now I'm giving love to the four I have left.

My roses usually start budding in late January or early February, but with the freakishly cold storms this year, they held off until March or April. Finally, two weeks ago, Mme Meilland busted open a bud! I ran out to take a photo before the rains came again. I'm so glad I took that shot, because it rained that night, and while the bud still bloomed last week, it looked a little water logged.

Madame Meilland was developed in France by Francis Meilland between 1935 to 1939, not a good time to be a new cultivar in France! Meilland was able to send cuttings to friends in Germany, Turkey, the United States and Italy just before the Germans invaded. Mme Meilland was released in the U.S. at the Pacific Rose Society's spring show under the trade name Peace on 29 April 1945, the day Berlin fell, by Conard-Pyle Co. And on 8 May the same year, each of the 49 delegates at the inaugural meeting of the United Nations in San Francisco received a Peace rose with the note:

“We hope the ‘Peace’ rose will influence men’s thoughts for everlasting world peace.”

Obviously, it hasn't had much influence on that front, but Madame A. Meilland is one of the most popular cultivars in home gardens, and one of my favorites, along with Taboo, which is still alive and well in my garden (yay!) and Queen Elizabeth (heavy sigh). Given the record number of natural, and not-so-natural disasters recently, let's hope that this late spring brings us all a little Peace and respite.


The Great Sofa Experiment 2010

People have been complaining about my father's sofa for years.  When you sit, you sink almost to the floor and good luck standing back up!  It never bothered him until he had problems getting up from a nap one day, so he wandered aimlessly in a store for a few minutes and left because no one came to help him.  I told him I could probably reupholster it, but no guarantees.  He gave the go-ahead and I stripped that puppy down.  Here it is mid-strip.
I began the re-covering process from the ground up, reinforcing the springs from underneath with webbing, and re-tying them. This was the easy part for me, because nothing on the inside has to look pretty.
Here it is reinforced and ready to be padded and covered.  So far, so good, but from this point, I was regretting not taking better notes when I took that upholstery class.
I blind-stitched the front on first.  Except I couldn't remember EXACTLY how to blind stitch, so it was more like visible stitching.  Luckily, that portion is covered by the cushions!  Then I did the inside of the arms and inside of the back.  You can't exactly tell from this photo, but the back is lumpy. Oops.
I put on the front of the arms next, then when I tried to do the outside of the arms, discovered about 3/4 of the way through the process why there is a specific order to do these things in.  Off came the outside and fronts of the arms.  And back on they went, outsides first, then the fronts. After that, finishing the back was easy.

But I still had to make the cushion cases.  I started one evening, measuring and cutting the pieces, starting to sew that night, but the thread kept breaking.  I cleaned and oiled the sewing machine, checked the needle, put the piece in, and was halfway down the seam before I realized the thread had broken again!  Frustrated, I completely changed the thread ... and was fine.  The other thread was too old.  I finished the case, measured it, and realized I'd allowed too much for the seams (which is better than not leaving enough, but still a pain).  I had to rip it apart, cut it down and start over.  Somewhere around 5:00am, I headed to bed.  I followed that same process for the other two, but finally finished.  I stuffed the cushions, stuck them on the sofa ... and somehow they were still too large!  There was no way I was going to do them over AGAIN, so it will stay this way...
Well, that was March and April for me. How was yours?