glitch25: (memories)
This morning, I took a quick trip down memory lane talking about the cottonwood trees and the fact that the fluff is flying.

Where i grew up, our cottonwood trees didn't have fluff. At least not in the city. Outside of city limits, we'd see them sometimes. I remember Dad said that the fluff kind weren't allowed. Research tells me that there is an actual pollen ordinance on the books for ABQ that states that selling or planting various high pollen varieties of trees including those sorts of cultivars of poplars is punishable as a petty misdemeanor. Living in a dry climate is srs bznz. :-)

There were cultivars of Cottonwoods that don't produce the high amounts of pollen that were allowed by the ordinance. This includes the Rio Grande Cottonwood which was what I was most accustomed to seeing. We had the male variety in our yard, and much like the more pollen producing types, they dropped these floral pods that kinda resembled caterpillars that also had this sticky sap in the buds. Descriptions I see for these poplars in general is that they like to drop limbs unexpectedly. Even back home, this was true. Wind storms were a great way to find out how alive your cottonwood trees were. And in a lot of cases, how sturdy your roof is. :/

Another tree I grew up with is the bald cypress. For some reason, I had thought these were some variety of cedar, but no. They produce these funny little round cones, they have bark that sheds as they grow, and they also produce this significantly sticky sap that gets on everything. Our yard was landscaped with these cypress trees, and I remember the day my parents had them removed because they just made so much mess of the yard.

We also had a sour cherry tree that always produced lots of fruit. We would collect as much as we could and make pies and such. Very tart golden fruit with fire-engine-red skins.

We also had a spruce in the front yard that was a four-foot starter when my parents moved into the house when I was 1 year old, and later grew to 20-30 feet tall before it apparently became diseased and needed to be removed.

One other tree I distinctly remember were the sycamore trees. They grow these hard spikey seed-pods that break open and contain fluff and seeds. Kids would throw them at each other since they were also rather dense and would fly well. They also quickly discovered that if you broke open the pods and stuffed the contents down someone's shirt, that it would itch for hours. :/

Interesting the things you remember.

What sorts of trees were in your life when you were young?
glitch25: (memories)
I really enjoy the digital age. :-) I stumbled on an old memory and was happy to find the internet willing to help me relive it.

It started by getting a geeky link in my feeds for a couple who were getting married that had a unique wedding invitation created by their friend. The couple: she is a lawyer and DJ by night, and he is a Grammy nominated sound engineer. So what goes best? An invitation that folds into a record player, that plays a flexidisc record of a song the couple wrote together when you spin the record at 45 rpm. It is a little piece of awesome!

That reminded me that the last time I remember playing with a flexidisc was probably with what I now understand to be the most widely distributed flexidisc in history. That would be the Songs of the Humpback Whales disc distributed in the January 1979 issue of National Geographic.

I remember when that issue arrived, and I remember the pleading it took to get the 'rents to let me use the "big people" record player to play it.

And the internet being what it is, somebody was kind enough to store the track in an accessible place so that I don't have to wonder where the original flexidisc went...

Too cool!
glitch25: (memories)
I was walking down the hall off to do something in the server room, and as I was going, I started whistling some old thing. Something stuck in my head that just decides that moment to peek out.

This time, it was "That Naughty Waltz", which is a waltz written in 1919 by Sol P. Levy. It was my grandmother's favorite, and when she was able, anytime she was near a piano, she would play it.

Bit of history though. My grandmother was second generation Mexican American and one of her claims to fame was her ability to play piano. As a young adult, she made extra money playing piano for the local silent movie house, and she also taught piano and music theory in Spanish to various locals in the predominately Latino communities in southern and eastern Texas where she lived. She apparently attempted to teach my Aunt as well, but oddly enough, not my mother. My aunt had no passion or interest in it, and my mother was wildly attracted but completely un-nurtured. Family dynamics are interesting.

As you might imagine, finding an online recording of a waltz that was popular 90 years ago is an interesting thing. There are some youtube videos of people playing old 78rpm recordings. But this was a little better. It is a medley of other popular waltzes. That Naughty Waltz begins at about 1:18 and continues to about 2:27.

Miss you, Grandma.

glitch25: (Default)
I was thinking about my latest interest in prop making and the like, and the fact that for my successes, I have no prior specific experience working in the field. But I always had the urge to tinker.

They say some people are born with a silver spoon in their mouth. I was born with a screwdriver in mine. :-)

There are stories about me when I was 2 years old attempting to attack the neighbor's sewing machine, with a screwdriver in my hand and a gleam in my eye.

This desire has continued to follow me over the years.

When I was 5 years old, Labor Day of '77, I had been tinkering with a Christmas gift from the prior year. I had a battery powered train set that would circle the plastic track, stop at various points to either pick up, or drop off the little people, and in this process, they'd ride a ferris wheel and then slide down a slide from the top to a pick-up point further down the track.. and it would continue over and over as the train made circuits.

That fateful afternoon, I discovered that along with parts from my Erector set, I could wire up the train and make it go either forwards or backwards depending how I wired the battery. This revelation excited me greatly, and I showed my Mom and Grandma as they were leaving to enjoy the Labor Day sales. .I ran downstairs to show my Dad. However, somewhere between my room and where Dad was sitting watching the Tube, I either lost or forgot a part, so I rushed back up the stairs and proceeded full speed down the hall to my room. Not looking up, like kids sometimes do, and apparently veering off course, I met with the corner of the wall of the entrance to the hallway, and stood stunned from the impact. Wall corners, on walls covered with drywall are reinforced with a special steel corner strip that helps prevent chipping of the wallboard. I slammed my forehead directly onto that corner strip at a full run. I remember being dizzy and feeling that pain you get when you bump your head, but nothing too significant.. Just stunned more than anything. Didn't think much of it until I looked down to the house shoes I was wearing, and saw droplets of blood beginning to collect on them. I still don't remember freaking out, but I do remember calling to my Dad downstairs and explaining that he needed to come up, that something bad had happened.

Some 12 stitches later (6 subcutaneous, and 6 external) in my forehead, and my little attempt at tinkering became a late night.

I still didn't really notice any pain until they injected the local anesthetic into the edges of the wound to prepare for the stitches (apparently the injections hurt a lot!)

I do remember getting to have Whataburger that night, which was a treat.

I have a nifty scar that has migrated over to just above my left eyebrow that is a little reminder of that day.

I often took broken things apart and either fixed them, or at least learned how they worked. Occasionally, I'd even take apart things that already work, and get them back together again in working order.

I remember at 12 or 13 getting my first taste of 110 volt house current running through my arm. More scared than hurt at that point. Somewhere along the line, I had an instinct for electricity, and for all the times I've come in direct contact with it, I've always known how not to get electrocuted. Not long after that time, I found out that an AC induction motor doesn't work the same as a DC motor, and swapping "polarity" doesn't work, but that wiring it up wrong will pop the circuit breaker. :-)

This lead to many other constructive, and not necessarily constructive things including using an electronic relay attached to an old style DC house doorbell to trigger the transmitter of a more modern wireless button doorbell system whose ringer was on a whole different floor. And to locking the wireless garage door opener in my glovebox, but modifying it so that I could actuate it from a hidden button on my dash board.

In high school, a friend's younger brother was swinging around a bat in the livingroom and it slipped out of his hand and into the VCR, cracking the circuit board in half. I remember the challenge of soldering the delicate tracings back together and of course being told I couldn't do it, only to have repaired it successfully.

Fun stuff!

So while my tinkering skills are new to theatre, they are quite seasoned with me in general, and it is nice to have an outlet to play these days beyond what I normally do.

Unfortunately, blood sacrifices continue to be part of the work, but I've realized that if I give freely, the returns are well worth it. :-)

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