Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Time Machine Tuesday

My time machine must be on the fritz because apparently it is Wednesday. Who knew.

10 Time Periods You Would Visit If You Had a Hot Tub Time Machine 

This week's topic tickled me for a few reasons
  • I'm a history geek. I was watching The Tudors last night and trying to explain to my husband how they went wrong and his eyes glazed over a little. Yes. I'm a history geek. And I'm proud of it. 
  • Time machines. Do I need to say more? My son is already drawing up plans for one so he can go ride a dinosaur. "Don't worry Mom. I won't get eaten. I promise." 
  • Hot Tub Time Machine is a movie I probably shouldn't like. But I do. Actually I love it. I don't know why. It makes me laugh. It has joined the list of movies that I adore that make my Geekboy just shake his head in wonder. (I still don't know how I married someone who doesn't like Spaceballs.)
 But I digress....on with the list. It is a bizarre mix of finding answers to may of history's mysteries and spending time and being inspired by some of my favorite artists and art.
  1. Fall River Massachusetts, summer 1892. Mission: Did Lizzie Borden really take an axe and give her mother forty whacks? (Actually it was her step-mother and Abby Borden was hit only about 20 times. Her father about 10 or 11) The Lizzie Borden case was my first true crime obsession. I first learned about it in a true crime/mystery book I obtained in the RIF program in 4th or 5th grade. 
  2. London 1888. Mission: Find out who Jack the Ripper was. This case was also in the book and became another obsession of mine.
  3. England 1560. Mission: How did Amy Robsart, wife of Lord Robert Dudley, really die. Was she murdered by Robert? By Elizabeth I? Was it suicide? Or was it really just an accidental fall made fatal by the effects of cancer? 
  4. England early 1480's. Mission: the Princes in the Tower. Perhaps one of history's greatest mysteries. Now that they have found Richard III's body, maybe an answer about the boys is next....but not likely.
  5. Vienna, 1786-1787: Mission: to see Mozart's original productions of The Marriage of Figaro and Don Giovanni .
  6. Gads Hill Place, Kent- Spring/Summer 1870. Mission: Discover the ending to Charles Dickens' unfinished work The Mystery of Edwin Drood. Who the hell did it???
  7. Vatican City, 1505-1512. Mission: Watch Michelangelo paint the Sistine Chapel ceiling. How could one not. I might pop back in between 1534-46 while he paints The Last Judgment.
  8. Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, May/June 1889. Mission: Vincent van Gogh's painting of  The Starry Night.
  9. Paris, late 1880's-early 1890's. Mission: Hanging out in the Paris nightclubs with Toulouse-Lautrec drawing, paintings and just enjoying myself.
  10. Mexico- So hard to pick a time in the life of Frida Khalo but I'd want to be there when the art was happening, but also to see how she poured her physical and emotional pain into her canvases. 
Other things that were edged out of the top 10, but barely, are:
  • going to a Queen concert
  • seeing if Katherine of Aragon and Prince Arthur really did consumate their marriage
  • off to Scotland to see who blew up Lord Darnley
  • Dallas 1963- to know for sure
Oh the things I would do and see. I might go back and stop myself from doing stupid thing or two.

*sigh*
I want a TARDIS

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???