A little help from my friends?

The soloist at the church my parents and I attended in the late ’70s and early ’80s used to sing a song that my dad liked a lot. I believe it was based on this poem by Victor Hugo:

Be like the bird
That, pausing in her flight
Awhile on boughs too slight,
Feels them give way
Beneath her and yet sings,
Knowing that she hath wings.

The poem is also translated this way:

Be like the bird which on frail branches balanced
A moment sits and sings;
He feels them tremble, but he sings unshaken,
Knowing that he has wings.

My mom and I have been trying to track down the song — and its complete lyrics — but haven’t had much luck.

If I can find it, I would like to get a recording, the sheet music, or both for Daddy. And if I can put my hands on the sheet music, the soloist at my church would like a copy, too.

Does anybody out there know this song? And if you do, can you tell me who wrote it, what the rest of the lyrics are, or where to find the sheet music?

I can’t remember anything about it, but if I heard it again, it might jog my memory. Every now and then, we’ll sing a hymn I haven’t heard in 25 years, and I’ll suddenly remember what I was wearing, which pew I was in, and what the weather was like outside the last time I sang it. So it’s entirely possible that if I heard the song based on the Hugo poem, my memory could go sifting through the boxes in its attic and pull out something it recorded one Sunday morning many years ago.

That would be wonderful. I’d love to hear Sina’s voice float through my memories.

Mockingbirds

I don’t have a whole lot to report today, except that I watched a pair of mockingbirds playing in the front yard of the house across the street from us this morning as I left for work. I say “playing,” but they really seemed to be squabbling over something.

I wasn’t the only one watching. The big yellow-and-white cat who hangs out in our front yard all the time was lying on the neighbor’s doorstep, watching the birds intently.

Incidentally, this site where I found the picture of the mockingbird is kind of interesting and includes some lovely photos of the trail where Suzanne and I like to run.

I had fun at work this morning. I went to interview this guy who works at Cohlmia’s, which is a sort of upscale nursery and interior landscaping place here in Tulsa. They had tons of absolutely stunning orchids for sale, and upstairs, they have office space with windows that look down onto a huge storage area where they keep a lot of big palms and things. Outside the office windows, they have built giant birdcages, where they keep all these gorgeous parrots.

After the interview, the guy I was talking to got out one of the birds — a gorgeous young macaw who hatched out in November — and let me pet her. I was a little intimidated, as I’ve known some nasty-tempered macaws in the past, but this one was a sweetie and seemed to enjoy the attention. He said she was a cross between a blue-and-gold macaw and … um … a military macaw, I think. She was really beautiful. She looked kind of small, but he said she was full-grown except for her tail, which will get longer as she ages.

It blows my mind to think that somewhere in South America, some journalist probably gets up in the morning, looks across the street, and smiles at the macaws arguing over food or territory or potential mates in her neighbor’s yard. I know every bird is native to some part of the world, but it still floors me to think about living in a place where macaws or canaries (WARNING: canary link contains a sound file, so don’t click it if your boss thinks you are doing something productive right now) or Gouldian finches are as common as Tulsa’s starlings and sparrows and pigeons.

Of course, I also got very excited when I moved to Oklahoma and saw my first scissor-tailed flycatcher, which is our state bird, because we never saw those in Illinois … and it would thrill me to no end to see a roadrunner in New Mexico.

I wonder if robins and cardinals and bluejays seem exotic to people in other parts of the world?

Reprieve

Ron got a reprieve today, courtesy of the Split Ends Fairy.

We have been arguing for days about whether I should donate 10 inches of my hair to Locks of Love, which is a nonprofit group that makes wigs for little kids who lost their hair because of chemo treatments or whatever.

It’s just hair. It will grow back. But Ron yelps like a kicked puppy every time I mention the word “haircut.” (This seems to be a common sentiment among most of the men I know. I don’t get it, but I don’t have a Y chromosome, either.)

Anyway, this afternoon, over his vociferous protests, we went to Ulta, where a stylist took one look at me and decreed the bottom three or four inches of my hair too damaged to use.

I came home and made Ron trim it. Now I just have to Aussie it into submission while I wait for the rest of the damage to grow out.

I’m not really into the whole high-maintenance-hair thing, but if it will help a little kid somewhere, I guess I can spend three extra minutes a day conditioning this mess.

In retrospect, a box of henna probably would have fixed the whole problem. Maybe I should get some on my next Wild Oats run. Nothing mends split ends like henna. And I make a cute redhead. Plus it’ll make my hair grow faster, because Murphy’s First Law of Dye Jobs states that dyed hair will grow at a rate directly proportional to the inconvenience created by doing one’s roots. This is why my hair grows an inch a month with a dye job, and faster than that with henna, which is a monumental pain in the butt to apply.

Emily

P.S.: This morning during church, I noticed that the trees right outside the windows were completely covered with dark red buds. I hope the cold doesn’t ruin them. It’s supposed to get down into the low 20s tonight. I don’t know what kind of trees they are, but you can see them in the photo on this page.

Blankie, part 3 (and a flight)

Suzanne and I went out for lunch (vegetarian tikka masala with paneer at Desi Wok … mmmmm) and then headed to the women’s show to hear FlyLady speak today.

If your house does not look like Martha lives there, then you probably need FlyLady. She’s like a subversive home ec teacher for busy people who hate housework. She tells you stuff like, “Housework done incorrectly still blesses your family,” and “Just vacuum the middle of the carpet.” She’s all about setting timers and never spending more than 15 minutes doing anything.

When I got home, I worked on the quilt some more. I now have a total of six strips like the one I made last night. I have to press them, pin them, and sew them together. I laid them out on the floor just to see how they would look. Here they are:

Quilt block strips

If I were more experienced and more patient at this, I would do something fancier, but this is the best I can do right now. I think it looks pretty good, even if it is kind of simple. My favorite quilt is one that looks sort of like this, except Mom made it out of upholstery samples. I loved it when I was little because it had a lot of soft, fuzzy patches.

I love it now because it’s really heavy and warm and keeps my gas bill down. 🙂

Maybe someday the little kid who gets this quilt will be a 30-year-old blogger, talking about how this was her favorite blankie when she was little because it had sparkly patches in it.

That would be cool.

Emily

Blankie, part 2

After a phone consultation with my mom and my sister, I ran the cloth through the washer and dryer to remove the excess dye, then pressed each piece before cutting the squares.

It takes a long time to press 30 fat quarters.

I was going to make four-inch squares, like Mom and Grace suggested, but I didn’t have any plastic for making a pattern, so I wound up using the glass from a 5×7 picture frame as a pattern instead.

I stitched together the first row.

First strip

It doesn’t look like a lot, but it took a while. I am going to make five more of these and then sew them all together to make the top of the quilt.

I like the colors. I think a little girl will like them, too. Especially the sparkly patches.

Emily

Finally!

I’m just about finished with my mural project for Paintmaster. I just have to go back sometime this weekend, when I can look at it with fresh eyes, and see if there are any touchups to be done or details I’ve missed.

Here’s the last big stuff I did:

gas pump

Here is the whole mural:

Finished mural

I didn’t get my herbs planted tonight, but that’s OK. I’ll have time to do that this weekend.

Hope your day was productive.

Emily

Oh, P.S.: I have lots more tomato sprouts coming up. Hooray!

Another project

OK … I found another a good cause. Project Linus is doing a blanket drive on Feb. 18. Project Linus is the group that collects blankets to give to little kids in scary situations.

If you make a blanket to donate, you get entered in a contest to win a fancy-schmancy sewing machine that’s smarter than I am and probably worth more money than my first car.

I’m still largely incompetent with the venerable old Kenmore my mom’s friend gave me. But I might be able to make a baby quilt. We’ll see. If I win the fancy sewing machine, I will probably attempt to barter it for sewing lessons and perhaps a belt for my great-grandmother’s treadle Singer, which is currently serving as an entertainment center.

In any case, this is a primo excuse to go to Material Girls and waste money on pretty fabric I don’t need. I like Material Girls. I like pretty fabric. I like to waste money. This will be a good project.

If I get into this and discover I have exactly zero aptitude for quilting — which, frankly, I consider likely — Project Linus also offers this handy pattern for the inept, which requires opposable digits but no actual skills, patience or competence. If you can tie your shoes, you can make this thing, so you don’t have any excuse for blowing off this project.

Go make a blanket. Send me a picture of it (you can e-mail it to me at sundayjohn66 at mac dot com) and I’ll post it here so everybody can see how cool you are. Maybe you’ll win a sewing machine.

Emily

P.S.: Only one more week to pitchers and catchers camp!

Tomatoes, etc.

Looks like I’ve got a couple of Mortgage Lifter sprouts trying to come up in one of the Gatorade-bottle terrariums.

I think I’m going to spend part of tomorrow evening starting cilantro and chives for this year’s herb garden. Back in Belleville, I had this fantastic herb garden right outside the back door. It was terrific — I’d decide to make pasta, and I could walk outside and grab a half-dozen different kinds of fresh herbs to put in the sauce. Most of the herbs were either perennials or self-seeding annuals, too, so once I got the garden established, it basically took care of itself. I’d just walk out in the spring, grab the seed heads off the previous year’s plants, and give them sort of a rub and a shake to scatter the seeds. It wasn’t a perfectly orderly garden, but there was something charming about it anyway, all this tousled wild fertile growth barely confined by (and sometimes spilling across) the stone and concrete paths between beds. I just loved it. I want to get something like that going here.

Ron sent me a couple of links to pass along to y’all. The first: The Audubon Society is holding its annual Great Backyard Bird Count Feb. 17-20. People observe the birds in their backyard or wherever they happen to be, fill out a checklist, and send it in.

Dr. John Fitzpatrick, director of the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology, said the data provided by amateur birders over the past eight years has been really valuable to scientists:

This project has become a major source of scientific information about North American bird populations. It is a classic example of the vital role citizens and the Internet now play in understanding our planet.

According to the Web site,

Everyone can participate, from beginning bird watchers to seasoned experts. During the count, bird watchers tally up birds for as little as 15 minutes, or for as long as they like, keeping track of the highest number of each bird species they see together at one time. People are encouraged to report birds from public lands and local parks, as well as from their backyards.

They’re having contests and stuff this year. If you want to play along at home, click here.

Ron also sent me a link to a blog he really likes. Duke City Fix, an Albuquerque-based blog, has some advice on building a $6 compost bin and a $10 cold frame here.

Happy building!

Emily

Good news and bad news

The good news is that I saw a tiny sprout in one of my Gatorade-bottle terrariums last night. The bad news is that it is not a tomato sprout. I don’t know what it is, but the tomatoes are not sprouting yet.

This morning, I interviewed a couple who grow African violets. They had the better end of 200 plants in varying sizes, many of them blooming in a rainbow of colors. Beautiful plants.

They also had several mourning doves playing in their yard.

I should keep a few more houseplants. Maybe I’ll have time for that one of these days. Succulents are about all I can handle at the moment. I don’t have time to take care of higher-maintenance plants, especially when I’m trying to start seedlings and get the garden the way I want it.

Emily