Monday, November 20, 2006


These little fellows have shown up in our front yard. The one above is about eight inches across. I didn't quite get the keys in the bottom of the picture to show scale.

The large one below is about a foot across, its smaller friends are about three inches across.

Fliegenpilz is the German name for these, or a similar European cousin. They are often used as inspiration for Räuchermann or Räucherpilz, in which pieces of incense are burned so that smoke comes out the "chimney." We prefer the ones that look like little cottages for elves or brownies, rather than faces scroll down about halfway, and on toward the bottom, on that web page to see some examples. And maybe I'll find some pictures of ours to post soon.

Thursday, August 10, 2006


Various musical instruments in toy stores have long caught my eye, but I either have been put off by some aspect of quality or function, or have been totally deterred by price. Since becoming re-enthused about music by way of a video soundtrack, I have been looking again, and the "Music Maker" children's zither (or lap harp) appealed greatly, albeit at a daunting $30-$33.

Last week in my favorite sellers space at the Aurora Antique Pavilion, I found a Harbert Italiana "Jr Zither," with several markdowns bringing it to $6, and including a selection of music sheets. Cheap enough for a trial.

The zither is great! I even found an online site that helped me tune it (and also has audio samples if you are curious what this type of instrument sounds like).

The cool thing about these and their ilk is that the music slides under the strings, so playing is like dot-to-dot. You are watching your fingers and the notes at the same time, instead of looking back and forth and having to translate. Also you only use one hand to play, rather than two hands having to try to do different things -- something that runs up against the cross-coordination problems so often found with Aspergers Syndrome (though many Aspies have exceptional musical ability - there is a lot of variation among us).

Many of my better pleasures have been toy store finds. For years, I often felt a little awkward about this, but since my Aspergers Syndrome diagnosis, I have come to accept that pervasive developmental disabilities can make toy stores a very appropriate activity source. Much of the time "beginners" or "hobbyist" materials for adults are just too demanding.

Thursday, August 3, 2006

Blue Eyes

This little guy showed up in our back yard the other morning and soon settled in on our front porch for the rest of the day. He was still there when we went to bed, but was gone in the morning.

He was very nice. I liked him a lot.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Dies Caniculares

Chris & I went to Richmond Beach yesterday.

We walked down the beach quite a ways, waded, watched birds and trains, enjoyed the cool breeze.

The sun had warmed the shallow lagoons in the broad sandy tideflats, uncovered by a minus tide, but an onshore breeze still carried some of the coolness of the receding fogbank still visible in the distance.

Apologies if this is a duplicate post -- I tried to post by email, which has worked before. It seems to have not worked this time, but may yet.

I think I will probably be editing this a bit later on so check back if you are interested, or want a link to more of Chris's photos and her version of events. :)

[Thank you to Chris for the photo above]

Tuesday, July 11, 2006


We discovered this little fellow in our cherry tree one morning after a lot of raccous noise from crows and intense interest from our cats.

He, or someone like him, has been back, but have apparently been able to tear themselves away before it got light.

The cherries must taste as good to him as they do to us.

Friday, June 16, 2006

red redux

Completing my water-theme color week, with a picture taken today in Carkeek Park.


Red floor, rather reddish looking cat. And today is the anniversary of Webster's arrival.

I wonder if I can come up with a water-theme picture for "red day"?

I think maybe. ;)

Thursday, June 15, 2006


Ferry on Puget Sound. Outing with John, November 1, 1998.


4449 climbing Stevens Pass. Outing with Dave and Mike.
While trying to figure out the date of the steam locomotive picture, I found this shot taking the same day -- July 16, 2000 -- and thought I should add it to maintain the water theme. :)

Wednesday, June 14, 2006


Okay, I know this is a day late, but I thought I was supposed to take a picture each day in the assigned color, and I just didn't manage to do that yesterday.

This is from May 5, 1999, on the Beckler River again, same location as my more recent picture.

Monday, June 12, 2006


Webster has a lot of white for color week.
On Thursday, I decided to have a water theme for the week, so here's some whitewater from October 15, 1998.
Oh! And water and SNOW from May 11, 1999.

Monday, June 5, 2006

Last Tuesday

Last Tuesday, I skipped town for a bit of a sunny-day scenic escape.

This is one of my favorite spots, a couple miles east of Skykomish at a bend in the Tye River, looking north.
Same spot, looking west.
North again, on a similar view, but I like the snow on the hill.
This is another favorite spot, on the Beckler River, north of Skykomish.

Saturday, May 20, 2006


A while back Jo won these letter tiles on eBay, and they finally arrived yesterday.

She was thrilled.

There are even more than she expected: about two quarts worth.

All through the evening she kept making spontaneous remarks that it would take me a moment to realize were in reference to the tiles.

Perseverating like an Aspie. :)

She had gotten a few identical tiles at an antique store quite a while ago, so they must have had reasonably broad distribution. We wonder what game they came from, or if maybe they were a classroom tool.

She says it is nice to have plenty -- and that is the first thing she spelled out.

Friday, May 5, 2006

Deer Crossing

I went to North Bend in the morning, stretching my driving capacity to the limits.

Once there, Chris drove.

We took hamburgers to Three Forks Park, and ate by the side of the river just below where the North Fork and Middle Fork of the Snoqualmie come together.

Watched a merganser drift downstream, a dipper fly by, coal wade, geese explore.

Threw rocks in the river to hear the plonk or plink or plunk or sploosh.

Dozed in the sun, with Mt Si looming over us.

I tried to build a cairn of rocks on top of Chris, but it was too much work.

For a moment, a bit after that, I thought our solitude was not total, because if there was a dog swimming in the river a ways upstream, there must be people near it on the shore.

Then I realized that it was a deer crossing the river, and that another was following.

We watched them both for quite a while as they finished their crossing and moved along the riverbank.

[Both photos by Chris, with thanks]

Wednesday, May 3, 2006

Backyard time

Webster and Archie got backyard time today.

Archie spent about 45 minutes under the bench by the porch stairs.

And spent the second hour not getting much beyond the patio.

While webster went about as far as the leash would let him.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Gallons More

Per Grandma Donnie, "what's just a sup within the cup is gallons more upon the floor."

A while ago I was sitting at the kitchen table, half dozing over the newspaper, when Webby and Archie started chasing each other from one end of the house to the other & back.

Quite wild & noisy, with much banging of furniture & knocking over the broom where it was leaning against the wall.

Then there was a very loud thump by the back door which stirred me from my stupor, since I couldn't imagine what could make such a noise.

Words fail me in describing what I saw as I came around the table:

When it is indeed a full gallon "within the cup" (or in this case their beloved large drinking jar) the "gallons more upon the floor" seem a veritable tsunami with successive waves following each other across the faux red tile "tidal flats."

Very dramatic, and even they seemed thoroughly amazed and chagrined.

I galloped off for old towels, in lieu of sandbags.

After we all settled down a bit, they seemed quite intrigued with the landscape of soggy towels and small puddles, and explored it at length and in detail.

After we settled down some more, naps seemed in order, for all of us, and they are napping still, as the towels recover in the washing machine.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Rugs and buttons

Jo and I were at my parents yesterday evening, to enjoy a dinner prepared by my brother and his wife. While I was there, I took pictures of the oriental rugs, with particular attention in this one, which was in front of the fireplace when I was a wee tyke in Portland, and which provided what I considered a highly satisfactory play area.

A recent discussion of buttons reminded me of the old family button box that my great grandfather made in 1921.

Note the reversable lid. I'm sorry that the contents, which I remember as being wonderful, are no longer worthy of a photograph. It seems that a large percentage of the buttons have wandered off, but perhaps it is my memory that is at fault.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Fine cats

We have fine cats.

I got another Czech glass ball mosaic, this one with a hexagonal layout on one side, and square on the other. Some of the glass balls were missing, but I could borrow from the first set -- close enough in size to look okay, different enough to be able to sort back out. (The larger, darker red, and larger black, are from the earlier set.)

This is the glass block from the earlier set, with some faceted beads of just about the right size, just for the heck of it.

Another picture of the first set, and more info, is in my blockplay blog.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Wheel Kaleidoscope

This is an interesting wheel kaleidoscope I found in a local store.

Wheel kaleidoscopes have disks with patterns and colors that rotate independently in front of the mirrors, instead of chambers full of loose objects which tumble into different patterns in typical kaleidoscopes most of us knew as kids.

In the wheel kaleidoscope, as two wheels with their transparent patterns overlap differently, a wide variety of image effects can be formed. By exchanging the wheels, even more patterns variety can be achieved.

This inexpensive toy came with two acrylic disks painted with smears of various colored transparent paint, and thin squiggles of opaque paint. The images produced are lovely.

But I wanted a little more variety and didn't have any blank disks, so I turned to transparent fusible beads (by Perler or Hama). Wow! Wonderful results, either in combinations with one of the acrylic wheels, or paired with another bead disk. That's one of my disks between Archie's paws.

I omit beads in every other row, so that more of the colors of the second disk show through, though the gaps between the beads and the holes in the middle already provide some show through, and of course you get color modifications through the combinations of colored beads. Various disks have either odd rows or even rows gapped, and one of each is chosen when they are paired.

The arrangement for mounting the wheels intrigues me as well. Rather than mount the axle to the cardboard kaleidoscope tube, which probably isn't strong enough, a wood block with two holes is used: a large hole into which the mirror tube fits, and a small hole which mounts the axle with sturdy support. Since the axle is off center to the block, the block extends beyond the disks on one side, and provides a rest when the kaleidoscope is set down, rather than having it rest on the disks.

[As always, click on an image for a larger version.]

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Kaleidoscope Image - Marbles

I haven't lost all my marbles, I found some to put in a kaleidoscope.

Kaleidoscope Image - Rainbow Glitz

These large semi-soft jacks were not difficult to cut with a sturdy pair of sharp scissors.

I have to confess that this wasn't much of a kaleidoscope experience -- the large pieces fit tightly enough that they didn't move around much unless I pulled the cap off and shook things up.

Smaller pieces might work better. And perhaps mixed with something slipperier.

Kaleidoscope Image - Fiber Optic

I have to admit to a bit of false advertising here: What you see by eye doesn't look like the photograph!

In real life, the dots are colored against a black background. But the autoexposure function of my digital camera managed to make the dots white, and in doing so, surrounded each dot with an aura the color the dot should have been.

Eventually I may experiment with taking an accurate picture, but in the meantime, I think this is downright cool, so this is what I am posting.

This came off a peg at the dollar store, but actually cost $1.39. I wasn't terribly put out, and not at all disappointed when I opened it up and tried it out.

The image was made by removing the ampules from the X-Motion, stuffing the fiber optics into the object end, and wiggling things until the results looked good.

Kaleidoscope Image - Spaghetti Beads

These looked pretty bad hanging on the hook in the dollar store, but they looked quite a bit better with my pocket flashlight shining through them, so I thought I'd give them a try. Espeically since there were lots for various experiments, and the green glowed nicely illuminated by UV.

Kaleidoscope Image - Summer Splash

From JoAnn Fabrics. "Summer Splash" appears on the back, over the bar code.

Kaleidoscope Image - Spring Fling

From JoAnn Fabrics. "Spring Fling" is on the back, over the bar code.

Kaleidoscope Image - petal beads

I'm sorry, but I didn't keep the package these came in. They are a larger version of what is in a few of my toy kaleidoscopes (I only have toy kaleidoscopes, intended for children). I got them in the local toy store for $0.69 for a small package, which still had enough that I can fill an object chamber with mostly one color.