Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Ten on Tuesday- Happy Happy

Wow...how did we go from it just being New Year's to more than halfway through the month??? I think the empty bottles of DayQuil and NyQuil littered at my feet might be a clue. Somewhere on January 2nd the sinus crud returned and my voice started to go. Within a day or two it moved into my chest and then it went downhill from there. The month has been a blur of normal life hampered by illness to a level that if it didn't directly relate to what I need to do to get paid or to keep the Minions alive and in school, it just didn't happen.

And that would lead us to todays Ten on Tuesday: 10 Things You Are Happy About Right Now

  1. Feeling like a functioning human being for the first time in weeks. I still have a residual cough, but I am a far cry from not being able to leave my bed. 
  2. The sun is shining- this cannot be under-appreciated by those in the depths of a North East winter who suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder.
  3. I've started crafting again- Little Miss received some dolls for Christmas. Dolls desperately in need of wardrobes. And since they aren't the standard size for doll clothing patterns, I'm getting a chance to really experiment with pattern drafting and alteration...on a much smaller scale. It is far less disheartening when the clothing doesn't fit at all when it is only about a square foot of fabric. I've scavenged scraps from the theatres' costume shops and look forward to having fun with this. I've also convinced Little Miss to wear the tube socks I knit for her, that she had a sudden aversion to because of "the lines"...also known as the ribbing that makes the socks possible. Now the pair she has is the first she grabs, so it is time to knit more. Plus the knitting and sewing queue that is tempting me now the Christmas tree is out of my sewing corner.
  4. I'm happy my eye/vision issues aren't as bad as they potentially could have been. And now I can add Nero-Ophthalmologist to my list of doctors whom I get to visit and banter with. (No, really. This guy is a pip)
  5. My crock-pot bouillabaisse came out pretty good. I've not had much luck with crock-pot recipes. I love the theory behind it, but it just doesn't work in my reality. Unless it is pot roast, it just seems to always become a mass of inedible crud. BUT the recipe out of The French Slow Cooker just might make regular rotation. It isn't a Throw-in-Pot-and-Leave-All-Day meal, but it is a good Stay-At-Home-and-Barely-Think-About-Dinner meal. And it is lovely left over for lunch.
  6. I have a drawer full of delicious holiday candy all had at 75% off. Peanut butter M&M's and mint truffle Hershsy's Kisses are my new guilty pleasure. 
  7. Downton Abbey
  8. I finally started reading the Outlander series. (Thank you Knitmore Girls)
  9. My husband doesn't have to work late. And shouldn't have to for a few weeks, at least.
  10. For the first time in, probably, months I can say that I am not gripped by depression. I can't even begin to say how amazing that feels. 

I would write more, but I must go paint a dragon head. (I love my job!)

Friday, January 02, 2015

2015- Let the New Year Begin

It's 2015.

I know deep down inside that whole changing of the year is arbitrary, and one day is hardly different from the next. Despite knowing this, with the way the last few years have gone, I embrace the opportunity of having a fresh start.

I packed up Christmas yesterday. Fittingly, I wrapped up the whole task just before midnight. And this year I did more than just tossing it back into what random box I had pulled them out of. Last year I had started the task of organizing and weeding out my decorations. This year I have essentially completed the task. The Minions each have their own box of ornaments containing ones given by Grandparents or handmade by themselves. I also gave them choice of the ones I no longer really wanted. Or still want to see on the tree, but wish to distribute to them now. Our tree is mostly their ornaments now. I am partial to the old school glass bulbs...the kind that don't mix well with adventurous children. So my ornaments are all packed away in their own labeled boxes. I was able to consolidate into ornament totes and discard a lot of extraneous packaging. I even weeded through and organized the wrapping paper, gift bags, ribbons and bows.

So with the tree gone, I am able to engage in my favorite annual pastime: Moving Furniture. With all the renovations this has been a regular pastime since May. I was forced to do copious shuffling of things to get the tree in front of the window in the living room. Now I find myself with more space. Especially since I am reclaiming a wall I had mostly vacated in the summer, believing it slated for demolition. That project being pushed off, I can use it again. Now it is the game of 'What-Should-Go-Where'.
Perusing Houzz earlier today, I found a picture that gave me some new thoughts on how do deal with television placement in our living-room. Our house is cursed with a long, narrow living-room that is cut up with a fireplace and doorways...one of which is the main entryway. Not an easy space to work with. Complicating things is that our ancient by today's standards TV (19" tube TV circa 1999) is starting to show signs of giving up the ghost. So is the DVD player (wedding gift c.2002) and the VCR. Yes, you read that right. We still own a working (of sorts) VCR. Therefore I am trying to accommodate future electronics, of which I have no sizes. Frankly, my ground plan of the house with it's little furniture cutouts aren't cutting it anymore, in regards to deciding layout before dragging heavy furniture around. I really need to bite the bullet on one of my insomnia nights and make a scale model of the house. I need to start working in 3D to surmount some of the challenges of this house.

Or I could just win the lottery and rip the damn thing down to the studs and build the house I really want. Wouldn't that be nice?

Well it's getting late and this is the second time I've written this post due to some screw up with the Blogger app....off to bed and on with the new year.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Ten on Tuesday- Resurrecting Musicians

10 Musicians You Would Bring Back From the Dead.

Interesting list for this week. Not something I've really pondered before, or at least in depth. I think we've all had that moment of "Oh I wish I could have seen them perform" in our lives. But I've never really sat down to make a list....until now.

  1. Mozart- One of my first musical loves. And one that never fails to touch me.
  2. Freddie Mercury- I was in my freshman year of high school when he died and one of my first thoughts was sadness that I would never be able to see him in concert.
  3. Buddy Holly- someone we lost too soon
  4. Kurt Cobain- Yes. Nirvana was the music of my 'coming of age' years. And I still love it. No matter what you think about his life and his death, he had so much more to say musically that is lost forever.
  5. Johnny Cash- He didn't die young, and I don't think he every expected to live quite so long. Despite my aversion to country music, I grew up listening to The Man in Black and I love his work. Just not the Christmas album (oh all the gods in the pantheon...NOT the Christmas album). His covers of NIN's Hurt and U2's One just tear at me heart and soul. In a good way. That is what music should do.
  6. John Lennon- who is to say what would have come next for him. But there was no reason for him to go the way he did. 
  7. George Harrison
  8. Jimi Hendrix- I'd would love to see what he would create in his older years. 
  9. George Gershwin- another with so much more to say and do
  10. Beethoven- another composer who never fails to move the soul

Monday, November 17, 2014

Manic Monday

Oi! Can one exist in a state of manic lethargy? I'm not sure how else to describe life of late. Struggling with depression and the lassitude that comes with MS in a world steeped with deadlines, school meetings, homework, housework, tantrums, and holidays. The last week has been additionally trying due to problems with procuring my narcolepsy drugs from my mail order pharmacy. I really think they have based their customer service model on Time Warner's less than stellar despotic practices.

At work I have moved beyond an intensely involved interior drop (of my own design so I only have myself to blame)

into a world of trees and forthcoming stone.

Magic Flute is an ambitious design to say the least that includes an involved build (lots of curves that are not true circles or ellipses) and a potentially elaborate paint treatment (random stonework and ethereal clouds). All of which must be, for the most part, completed before leaving for the Christmas break. This is a season that is not giving me a lot of down time. In between all of this, I am trying to crank out more Nutcracker upgrades.

The colder weather is upon us (we even had our first dusting of snow) and it became imperative to pull out the winter work socks.

The winter work socks of which not a one is fully intact. I must needs ramp up sock knitting production if my toes are not to freeze and fall off this winter. I am still searching for a yarn that meets my needs of durable, warm and inexpensive...the last being necessary due to the number of socks needed and the fact that they will end up with paint on them. The Knitmore Girls have planted the idea seed of a sock machine in my little holy brain. I will be watching Jasmine's adventures with her machine with great interest. Especially since Little Miss has great issues with sock toe seams, and I can't seem to knit her tube socks fast enough.

The lack of sock knitting is partially due to babies being born all around me. There were two that I felt inclined to gift with knitting. One I managed to finish before the birth (by 2 days!) and the other not so much.

The first was for Little Dude's kindergarten teacher from last year. We gifted her the sweater just last Monday for her new little girl. My minions picked out the yarn from options in my stash and helped pick out the buttons as well.

The pattern is Harvey Kimono from Natural Knits for Babies and Moms by Louisa Harding. Yarn Moda Dea Washable Wool (now discontinued) in Raspberry. The teacher was amazed when I told her it was machine washable. I never gift baby items that aren't machine washable. I know how much time and mental bandwidth an infant requires and would never willingly add to it with hand-washing.

The second sweater is  the boy's version of the above sweater for a nurse at the MS Center. This one is knit out of Bernat Organic Cotton, also discontinued. This one is nearly done. It hit a snag or two along the way. Last night I discovered the greatest of them. Apparently I somehow missed two rows of the border on the front and didn't catch it until I was seaming the piece last night. How I didn't catch it while blocking should attest to my mental state of late. If I hadn't already picked up and knit the neckline border, I would have just re-knit the whole front. Instead I knit a new border, picked back the offending front edge and will graft the two together. Hopefully this evening.

The minions' school work has become a larger part of our lives lately. Little Dude is only in first grade and homework expectations at times seem a bit much. He is to do 20 to 30 minutes of reading a night, in addition to math work on the computer. One of his math programs is only 10 minutes a night. The second can take much longer. I was glad when his teacher clarified that out of the two, she would rather they do the first every night and the second when they can. But when you consider that we often don't get home until 6pm or later, and then have dinner and a shower/bath (as needed) trying to get to bed at 8pm is quite the task. Especially on the nights my Geek-boy is working late. Throw in Little Miss either being clingy, throwing tantrums, or both and you've got yourself a full evening.

Dishes are no longer a priority in my book.

And I am desperately in need of a new repertoire of weeknight meals that are fast and varied. I feel like we eat the same six meals all the time. I know the Geek-boy and I used to have a whole variety of dishes that we cooked. I'll be damned if I can think of any of them though. Then when you add in his burgeoning acid reflux, I am limited further.

I feel like I just need to take a few days off to set the stage for things to run a little smoother. Some alone time to clean and set the house. Time to reconfigure the pantry and freezer and to prep some meals. It just constantly feels like I am running two steps behind at all times.

And now the holidays are upon us. *sigh*

Well, after reading over that no wonder I've been depressed. For some reason this week feels like a turning point, as if it were a new month or a new period of time. I am hopeful that I can pull it all together the days and weeks ahead. As I have been withdrawing further and further into myself and pulling away from nearly all activity and social interaction, I am beginning to realize how much my art and crafting mean to me and my well being. I am trying to carve out time in all of the chaos, even if it is a half hour of knitting before bed, or drawing on my lunch break. Just a little oasis here and there to try and retain a little of my sanity. To hold onto a little of myself. I feel as if I can do that, I will benefit enough to gain some footing that will allow room for a little more.

Let us hope I am successful.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Ten-ish on Tuesday- Cars

I am days away from having my life back (sort-of). The HUGE show that I am painting loads in on Thursday. So that means I have two days to finish everything...well, everything that needs to fit in the truck. I'm going to be be awfully close, but I should make it.  But that means everything else has suffered....writing, knitting, eating...I work straight through and then collapse at the end of the day, hopefully after the kids are in bed. But I see the light at the end of the tunnel and we'll see if it is a train or not. Eitherway, I'll have a paintbrush in my hands.

Anywho...Ten on Tuesday. Cars we have owned. Mine is a short list being I am only on my third car.

 1989 Plymouth Reliant
My first car. 4 cylinder, two door, tan exterior, maroon interior. (looked like the one pictured but two doors). Manual locks, manual crank windows (remember those?) Tape deck. Bought it from my Grandfather who lived with us at the time. We had been sharing it and somewhat continued to do so, but he wasn't really at a point where he should be driving. This was an old school car. The bumper was metal covered in rubber. There was no computer inside....you could work on the thing yourself. The thing was so light I would have to put sandbags in the trunk in the winter, even though it was a front wheel drive. But it was a good little car. I named him Norman after Norman Bates. That front grill smiling at you on a misty morning totally brought to mind the last scene of Psycho, and thus he was named. He was traded in for my next vehicle.

 1998 Oldsmobile Achieva

This car was a graduation present from my parents when I left college. Norman was not going to make the trip down to West Virgina where I was working the summer after graduation. And so Sophie came into my life. I had requested that my next car have 4 doors and air conditioning....and she has it. As well as 6 cylinders, power locks and windows. Not a bad car but there were several design flaws in it. It has a tendency for the doors to freeze shut in the winter. Since the back seat does fold down I could climb in through the trunk....and often had to. The trunk is designed so that what every might be sitting on it (snow, leaves, what-have-you) is dumped right into the trunk when you open it. There have been various issues over the years: the driver's side window has problems getting back into place, the spoiler on the back leaks rain into the trunk, various electrical quirks. She is still limping along, driven by my husband for the last 6 years. Well, not at the moment...her exhaust system kinda fell apart on the drive home the other day. Now she's just sitting in the driveway.

2006 Saturn Vue
Six years ago, a week after my son was born, we took another new addition into our family...my beloved Saturn Vue. For some reason, I've not named this car yet. It hasn't revealed its name to me. But I love this vehicle. When it goes, I don't know what I will replace it with. My heart was broken when Saturn went under. We specifically were searching for a Saturn Vue when we got this one. The only thing I did want and didn't get were heated seats. Next time. This car easily handles the car seats. The back fits all our luggage when traveling. Mine unfortunately has lost all its hubcaps due to overzealous mechanics using the air ratchet on the plastic nuts. I don't mind. Between that and the car seats, the car just screams "Nothing to steal here". It has a few bumps and dings...a scrape and small crunch on the back bumper from a woman turning her mini-van too closely at the gas station (and almost pinning a very pregnant me between the cars!)....multiple divots on the roof from the hail that accompanied the tornado that hit our town. The inside is graced with multiple tea stains, countless stray goldfish crackers, and a patina of dirt from the garden. But it's my car. And I love the thing. 

So there it is. And that being said I will pray that the divine trickster that haunts many of my adventures sees fit to overlook this post and not kill my current vehicle.*

*Edit to add: Apparently my prayer was headed but in the twisty way of trickster gods a loophole was found. I got pulled over on the way home because Geekboy failed to renew the registration. I knew posting on this topic was going to tempt fate.

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Ten on Tuesday- Books that stay with you

10 Books That Have Stayed With You Long After You've Read Them

  1. 1984 by George Orwell- I hated this book when I had to read it in my senior year of high school. And I mean ha-ted! this book. With a passion that would have brought down the thought police on me in nano-seconds. Now it is one of my favorite books. We own several copies of it. I have one that is high-lighted to death because every time I read it, I'll use a different color. It is fascinating to see what I found worthy of noting at different times of my life. I do remember how shortly after 9-11, at the height of the Patriot Act and the Bush Regime I picked it up again and had to put it back down. It was too raw and real. Part of me sees this as our future...just replace the governments with corporations in your mind when you read it the next time....and then let me know what you think.
  2. Bleak House by Charles Dickens- Dickens is one of the those authors that I forget that I completely love. I picked up this one after watching the original run of the mini-series with Gillian Anderson and a whole host of wonderful actors. It quickly became my fall back when I just needed a book to kill time. Dickens is a master craftsman of character, and this one has them all.
  3. My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult- I'm not one to read popular books. I'm not even sure why I picked this one up, but WOW. I was crying for days after I finished the book. Meaning, I would just randomly burst into tears seemingly for no reason. I think the Geek-boy thought I was insane.
  4. Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden-A beautiful novel that draws me in so well that I forget that it is fiction. And written by a man. I don't know what about it strikes me so deeply, but it is a book I refuse to part with. 
  5. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte- Being a 'plain Jane' myself, I always felt an attachment to this story. There are so many times she could just give up, but she stays true to herself and takes the harder path. 
  6. The Lady or the Tiger? by Frank R. Stockton- A short story but one with deep impact. I still don't have an answer.
  7. A Sound of Thunder by Ray Bradbury- Another short story but one that has lived within me. Even the smallest action has widespread potential. And the Simpson's spoof of it was pure genius. (From Treehouse of Horror V; perhaps one of the best episodes. Worth watching the whole thing but Time and Punishment starts around 7:20)
  8. The Dark Angel Trilogy by Meredith Ann Pierce- I read this back in middle school after I had found the first book in the school library. This was the first story that I remember reading where I didn't get the storybook Disney ending. And it blew my mind. Yes, I had read Han Christen Anderson fairy tales but those were different for some reason. They didn't quite have the same impact of a trilogy of books I had invested myself in. A trilogy where I had to seek out the second two books. It really struck me and as stupid as it may sound, for someone who was 13 or 14, shook up my world view.
  9. The works of Charles de Lint- Too many books to list. I'm mostly referring to his Newford series. He is the master of Urban Fantasy. I use to be a fantasy purist...I liked my fantasy with a medieval flair with no machines. De Lint showed me that there is still room for magic and fantasy in our everyday mundane lives. He brought the magic back for me. 
  10. Shakespeare- I'm a Shakespeare Geek. I admit it. I adore The Bard and I don't care. Those who think it is pretentious and out-of-date are grossly misinformed....and should listen to ChopBard. Ehren Ziegler will show you that Shakespeare is pertinent to our modern lives, our sense of beauty....and full of dirty jokes and innuendos.

I love to read...and with technology today listening to books while I work. Here are a few podcasts to get your literary mojo going:

CraftLit- Heather Ordover's fabulous podcast described as books with benefits. She takes us on a wondrous journey through classic literature and shows why these books have lasted. And why we need them.

ChopBard- Read above. Has made me love The Bard even more.

Forgotten Classics- Julie takes on classic tales that have fallen off the radar, but are worth rediscovering.

Librivox- Free public domain audio books. Read by the public. Fair warning...some readers are less than stellar, but it is free.

And always check your local library. I download audio and ebooks from my library for free.

So what books have impacted you???

Monday, August 11, 2014


It has been a weekend of letting go.

In the spirit of Fifty Things I had a garage sale. I have been pulling items and tossing them in the garage with everything that didn't sell at last year's sale. Again my Stepmother and Dad came out to help. She's a whiz at organizing these things and did all the pricing for me. But there was a big difference in this year's sale. I was determined that what was left wasn't coming back in the house. A few things did. My parents left a few things that wouldn't fit in their car, to pick up when they return. There is a pile leaving the house when the Geek-boy can make use of a larger vehicle. I have a small collection that is going to get posted for sale on Craigslist. The rest??? I posted a Curb Alert on Craigslist saying anything left today was going to Goodwill. And lo and behold today it is all gone. And there is room in my garage. And my basement. And the clean-out isn't done yet.

But I had to endure an even bigger episode of letting go. My parents weren't here solely to help with the garage sale. They had an agenda. Little Dude has made a big step into becoming a Big Boy; his first trip without Mom or Dad. He's off visiting the Grandparents for the week. I am back on contract at work and he's not in school yet so this is a big help. He spent three days at work with me and I love him, but he was driving me nuts. When first we broached the subject he said he didn't want to go without us. Gradually he has gotten used to the idea. First he thought he could go for a day or two. Then for a few weeks he thought three days might be nice. Lately it has been five days. Which is good because that is how long he will be gone. He'll also be spending time with my mother and little brother while gone.

I didn't cry. I almost cried, but I didn't. The person who is having the hardest time is Little Miss. Within two hours of him leaving she began asking where he was and when he was coming back. In fact, in the morning she stated that he couldn't leave because she loved him. (Total Awwwww moment) And when he was getting into the car and we were saying goodbye guess who came out of the house wheeling her suitcase behind her expecting to climb in the car beside him. It will be an interesting week.

I've already noticed that the house is much quieter.

But we are not resting on our laurels while he is gone. Within two hours we had cleared out much of his room and I was painting the walls. The color is the same; I've just been staring at it for the last year thinking it really needed a third coat.

 And now it does. We are moving into Phase II of the Super Hero Room Makeover. The walls are the blue he picked out of the swatch book. The Scenic in me is twitchy about the straight color on the walls. I can't just roll some color on and let it be. Of course not! Why would I do that? The finish on the walls is an eggshell. I'm thinking of doing some sort of pattern in a glaze, no color change just something in a different sheen. I just don't know what to do yet. We're considering  making it look like comic panels or doing the 'kapow' bubbles. You know these:

I'm hoping inspiration will strike me in the night.I'm working on some panels for the walls with various characters on them. Ultimately I'd love to have them done and up before he gets back. His  loft bed won't be done before then. It's still in the drafting stage. The Geek-boy was pricing the lumber today.

I also tackled the playroom/mancave. The Geek-boy hung as much drywall as the intrusive Sewer-Pipe-That-Must-Be-Moved will allow. I finally convinced him that I should just mud what I can and do the rest when it is up. So after Little Miss went to bed it went from this:

 to this.

I know. So exciting. But it is progress. And progress is good. 

And now I'm going to fall asleep reading Game of Thrones.