Sunday, September 28, 2008

cawfee tawk

A little Sunday morning randomness...
I got up early this morning, responding to an overzealous canine security guard barking his fool head off downstairs. By the time I stumbled groggily down to the first floor, tripped over three cats and wandered blindly into the living room, he was curled up on the sofa yawning and blinking sleepily at me as if to insinuate that I had disturbed his sleep. So much for the Camp Cactus alarm system...I guess it works well enough, if you count announcing the newspaper carrier at 6 am, the mail carrier at 10 am, and squirrel alerts every ten minutes throughout the day as important security updates. 

I must admit, I've been a little jumpy lately.  The news has not been so good the past few weeks. Maybe I've spent too much time online reading about politics, the looming financial crisis, the war(s), and the rapid disintegration of the American Dream as we know it. Let's face it: things are not exactly hunky dory out there, people. 

Add to that the discovery that we now have coyotes roaming the streets of NE Portland, and it seems like things are really getting out of hand.  

coyote on MAX train photo by Dennis Maxwell/AP

Wildlife in the city is certainly not a new development. Raccoons, possums, rats, squirrels, crows, hawks, and the occasional owl populate the area where I live. As a matter of fact, while I was typing this post, a giant heron flew past the dining room window, heading east down the street. You don't see that too often when you live in the city. But, back to the coyote issue. Things must be bad all over for them to be wandering unafraid into such densely populated human territory. One of my neighbors told me he hates them. That he thinks they're no better than rodents. I'm familiar with this attitude. An old friend of ours who, until recently, raised sheep in Central Oregon, once described how he'd stand out on his deck and pick off the coyotes in the pasture with a high powered rifle, and then leave the carcasses out for the birds to clean up. I kind of have a hard time with that attitude. I'm not a vegetarian (yet), but I certainly believe that all creatures on this planet are sentient beings, and that we we should treat each other with respect and  compassion, especially if and when we overlap each other's territory. 

It doesn't seem to be a view that's widely shared these days. Can't we just make an effort to get along, people?

So, today, to quote Mike Meyers' character Linda Richman, the host of Coffee Talk:

"Talk amongst yourselves."

 I'll give you a topic: How will America's current monetary crisis affect our position in the global economic food chain? Discuss.

Your comments are like buttah.


Monday, September 22, 2008

paying it forward

A couple of weeks ago, I read a column  in the Oregonian about a young man named Matt Strong who decided he didn't need material gifts for his birthday. Instead, he asked his family and friends to do a good deed for someone, and to let him know what they'd done. This small request has snowballed into something with a life of its own. A followup column in yesterday's paper confirmed that thousands of people in the Portland area have taken his idea to heart, performing acts of kindness ranging from moving earthworms out of the sun to paying for a stranger's lunch at the drive-thru.

This is certainly not a new idea. Human beings have been performing random acts of kindness since the beginning of civilization, but lately it seems we've gotten a little distracted. There's a sort of "every man for himself" attitude going on right now, and I believe once we recognize that we can all do something to improve the lives of others, we can effect great and lasting changes for us all. 

So, here's my question: What can you, and what have you done lately to pay it forward?

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

yessir, that's my baby

Twenty-eight years ago tonight our lives changed forever when our hearts were stolen by a tiny little 7lb.,2oz. bundle of joy. And even after all this time I'm still astounded every day by how lucky we are.

Happy Birthday, Matt!
Yo Mama

Saturday, September 13, 2008

and the winner is...

Well, the results of the very first (and possibly last) Buenos Burritos giveaway are in. I'm sure all three of my readers are dying to find out which one of you will receive this beautiful, handbound leather notebook with the vintage map endsheets.

After consulting with the esteemed judges, it was at first thought we should judge all entries on artistic merit, then we decided to employ a more efficient method of choosing the winner, so we chose the highly scientific "eenie, meenie, miney, moe" method.

To tell you the truth, the judges and I were exhausted and overwhelmed by the sheer number of entries that came flooding in.
That number, was in fact astounding. After carefully monitoring my email for six days, and obsessively checking the blog for comments, and carefully checking for fraudulent entries that should be disqualified, here is the final tally: zero.

So, if anyone out there wants a lovely little leather bound notebook, I'll be happy to send it to the next person to leave a comment.

Now if you'll excuse me, I think I'll go drown my disappointment in some red wine with a side of fudge brownies.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

photo styling 101: how to roll towels like a pro

I admit it. Sometimes my thrifty nature gets to be a bit much. I don't like to throw things out, and tend to use things until they wear out or fall apart. Old socks are recycled into sweaters for my Santa dolls and Fairies, bottlecaps are turned into lamps, twigs and tree trimmings are fashioned into rustic furniture, and worn out T-shirts and flannel sheets make good rags for dusting. All this recycling would lead one to believe Camp Cactus is a tidy place, orderly and simple. A place full of useful objects, a place that gets dusted occasionally, right? Well, not, let's check out the linen closet:

I ask you, just how many dust rags does one need? I know, at first glance it doesn't look that bad. (What you don't see is the depth of the least three feet!) Please note that there are no towels in the stuffed to the gills neatly organized linen closet. There are however, crib and twin size sheets, even though we haven't had either a crib or a twin bed in the house for years. All this hoarding thriftiness has led to many inventive storage solutions, which is how we came to store the towels in a bookcase in the bathroom...

Even this is not simple, much to Dave's dismay. The poor guy craves the simple life. He doesn't like fussy stuff, whether it's "art food" or over-stylized window treatments, it just doesn't sit well with him. Which brings me back to the towels in the bathroom bookcase...

I'm a professional photo stylist. It's hard to check my design sense at the door. You've probably read the post I wrote about reorganizing the books in the front hall, so you know I get a little [ahem!] anal about how things look. But, back to the towels...I decided they didn't look so great folded, and if you wanted one from the bottom of the stack, it was difficult to extricate it without messing up the rest of the pile. So I pulled a stylist trick out of my hat and started rolling them up. Dave did his best, but couldn't quite replicate the look, so I decided to write a little tutorial. Here goes:

Step one: Fold in half lengthwise, ends together.

Step two: Fold the top third down to the center.

Step three: Fold the bottom third up over the top third, and smooth it out.

Step 4: Roll it up neatly, left to right, or vice versa.

Step five: And there you have it -
just like in the catalogs!

Stay tuned for my next tutorial: How to fold a T-shirt, Navy style.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

how do you doodle? a buenos burritos giveaway!

She's done it again. Yesterday morning I was minding my own business, meandering aimlessly around the blogosphere, and landed (as I often do) on Bossy's site. I read her post, then the Guess and Press, and then finally moved on to her Favorite Things section, where she talks guessed it: her favorite things.

In the recent past, these favorite things of Ms. Bossy's have included deflated basketballs, Converse sneakers, subways and cinnamon, to name a few. Many of these things we have in common. (Except maybe the subways...I spent way too much time on the IRT during high school) Anyway, yesterday's Favorite Things were little pocket-sized notebooks.

And that brings us back to what the heck it is that she's done again: she's inspired me! I'm a crazy note-taker, jotter and doodler myself, and I've gone through many, many, many little notebooks over the years. So it got me thinking and wondering how many other creative geniuses are out there, doodling away, just pages away from the next Big Idea.

Here's my Big Idea: send me a photo of your notebook(s), and don't forget to include a peek at the inside! The winner will be chosen by our team of impartial judges here at Camp Cactus (see photo below)

Deadline for submission is Thursday, September 11th. I'll post the best ones a week from today, Saturday, September 13th.

The winner will receive this beautiful, hand bound leather notebook, dimensions:4" x 5.5", (unsullied by my crazy doodles) to help you come up with your next Big Idea.

So, I'll be looking forward to seeing your doodles, lists, clippings, and inspiration. Just email your submissions to me at cactuspetunia {at} yahoo {dot} com

And thanks again for the inspiration, Bossy!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

is my car making all that noise, or did a fleet of harleys just pull up behind us?

Early one morning a couple of weeks ago, I hopped into the minivan, with my trusty art camp assistant in the passenger seat, and started it up. A split second later, we both nearly jumped out of our skins and looked behind us, trying to locate the source of the deafening rumble that seemed to come out of nowhere. At first, we thought these guys were behind us, but then...

"I think it's us!", shouted my trusty assistant, as Dave came running out of the house in his pajamas, looking quite alarmed.
Signaling me to open the hood, he peered into the engine compartment looking for some clue about the racket. Finding nothing obvious (like a Harley) that could be causing such a loud roar, he threw out a few possible causes, like a hole in the exhaust manifold, or a blown head gasket, (all of which sounded very plausible to me...I'm always amazed at how much he knows about the way things work.) and since it was raining, he was understandably reluctant to crawl under the car to check out his theories.
After driving us to work, he called AAA and had the van towed up to our mechanic, who called us later with the news that our catalytic converter was missing, and it looked like we had become the latest victims of an increasingly common crime: catalytic convertor thefts.
As it turns out, catalytic converters contain small amounts of the precious metals platinum and palladium, and they seem to be easy targets for thieves who might otherwise be ripping off copper pipe and wire from construction sites.
Five years ago platinum traded for about $600 dollars an ounce, and palladium went for around $200. Currently, platinum sells for around $1,400 and palladium for around $400.
Metal theft is a big deal these days. An electrician friend of mine who works in new construction told me about whole subdivisions being stripped of brand new wiring, house by house. People routinely walk into big home improvement stores like Home Depot and Lowes, and run out with spools of copper wire. I just read about a poor guy who parked his Toyota pickup at Home Depot, and came out a few minutes later to find someone had removed his catalytic converter in the parking lot with a Sawzall. In broad daylight.
Now that we've gotten the van running quietly again, we're considering installing an alarm system...which is kinda laughable, really. I doubt seriously it would raise the resale value above $1,000.
So I did some research on the internet, and came up with this cheaper alternative:

(photo borrowed from this site)

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

waaaay back wednesday...

Here's my little sister and I taken way back...when?
 Can you guess the year? (and please don't say 1939!) 
(I don't remember who the other kid is. Johnny Somebody-or-other.)

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

the audacity of hope

Do we dare hope and pray for something this audacious? You bet. But we've gotta do more than that. We've gotta VOTE for it.

Lighting a candle to ask for this guy's help couldn't hurt, either.

Monday, September 1, 2008's labor day.

It's 8 am. There's a swarm of bees buzzing around the bedroom. And someone's trying to hit them with a hammer. And someone else is using a table saw to build a trap for them. And...and...oh. Wait. Wake up.

It's just a swarm of
painters, not bees, and they're not in my bedroom-they're across the driveway at the neighbor's.
Sanding. Sawing. Hammering.

These guys work seven days a week!

Didn't anyone ever tell them that Labor Day is supposed to be a day of
not laboring?

C'mon, guys - take a day off, already! Because I can't stain my new deck today if you're sanding right next to it....

Happy holidays!