Thursday, July 31, 2008

Last Post of July

Well, there are 36 minutes left in the month of July as I'm typing this. (I just typed "26," then thought a minute, added in my head, and changed it to "36." Stupid math. Stupid numbers.) It seems that I have won the blogging contest, unless Carrington puts up 7 more posts in the next half hour. I wouldn't put it past her, sneaky lass that she is. ;)

But whatever the outcome, I'm really glad we started this little competition. It made me think, it made me start taking walks, it certainly made me write more than I would have. I learned how to upload pictures on Blogger, and what is and is not acceptable html in comments. I took pictures, I took memes. I got to know some commenters a little better. I expounded upon subjects I normally wouldn't discuss. I learned a lot about Carrington, in all her posts. All in all, I deem this a very productive, helpful, growth-inspiring exercise. Huzzah!

Carrington, I raise my free chai latte to you! :D How's next Monday afternoon sound? We can write someplace for a while and then go to the Dames d'Plume meeting.

Happy Birthday Harry Potter!

Sarah got the "holiday" right; today is Harry Potter's birthday! Anything you would like to ask for me to post about, Sarah?

I'm not sure why the deadline for the Harry Potter swap was yesterday; today would have been much more momentous! But here is the package I sent my partner. (If you haven't at least seen a couple of the movies, much of this will make no sense to you, sorry.)

I enclosed a letter inside a card with the Hogwarts crest on it, pretending I'd taken a trip to Diagon Alley to pick her up a few things. I sealed the envelope with red sealing wax and my "H" stamp.


Here is the whole package!
-Two cards, one Owl Post, and one Floo Network. The Floo card got singed on the way. Boy did the house smell like burning paper after I did that one! I freaked Matt out by not telling him first, whoops.
-A Skiving Snackbox (link to come, the site is being weird), which was empty because the Pygmy Puff (scroll down) had eaten all the snacks
-The Puff inside a little jewelry box
-A packet of tea bags (very English, right?)
-A wand I made from this tutorial. SO COOL yet so easy! I might make myself a new one for the movie release in December.


Closeup of the wand and card


The notes I left on the wand and the Puff


The address label I made and printed out.

I'm really excited to see what I get in the mail soon for this swap! It's really disappointing when I put so much thought and time into the package I'm sending, and then get a mediocre one in return. This happened to me several times in knitting swaps hosted on LiveJournal, but so far I haven't really been jilted on Swap-Bot. I've never been totally flaked on, i.e. received nothing, and I've only got some "eh, lame" stuff once.

And, just because, here is a Golden Snitch costume I thought was hilarious.

My very very sweet friend, Ericka, sent us an anniversary card today, with a gift card to a restaurant, so Matt and I are going out to eat in a bit! Thank you thank you, Ericka, if you're reading this! Matt got me the first Narnia movie, as well as a Prince Caspian action figure! Silly, but fun. And he just wants money toward a new car stereo, borrrinnng! But it makes him happy. Instead of wasting money on cards, we decided to go out to coffee sometime next week.

I hope you all have a lovely evening too!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Hand Cramps

From sewing. Hand-sewing the trim onto my French hood, and cutting slits inside the buttonholes on my bodice. (It laces up! It fits! It's great! I'm awesome!) Pinning pleats on the skirt front and squeezing my lovely spring-loaded scissors again and again and again. Owwww my little girlie hand muscles.

But I must endure! I will make it! And I will win the blogging contest, Carrington! Which is why I'm posting for the 4th time in about 24 hours. :)

In my last list of "things to finish on my gown before we go," I forgot to add that I need to do the underskirt. >.< But that's just a big tapered rectangle that needs to be hemmed all the way around. I'm not making the whole underskirt, just the front panel that will show, so I'll run a ribbon through the top to tie it on and call it good. Maybe pin the bottom to my chemise so it doesn't slide around.

Also, I need to hem Matt's pants, and redo the stinkin' collar of his shirt! But I can do it! I can do it, I can do it, I can do it! I have all day today off, and almost 10 more hours of sewing machine time. After 10, the machine cut-off, I can finish my French hood and hand-sew the straps down on the bodice. And tomorrow I get off work at 3:45 so I can do Matt's stuff then.

I'm sure you're really extremely sick of hearing about this project by now, and I'm sorry. One more day after this, and then I'll be gone for the weekend. The last you'll see of the gown is pictures at the faire, okay? And this coincides nicely with the last two days of the blogging contest, so at least I have fodder.

Does anyone know what tomorrow is? :D It's not exactly a holiday, but it's sort of something to celebrate, if you're a geek like I am. Anyone? Whoever guesses it first in the comments can request that I write a post or small short story on anything they choose. Leave your request with your guess in the comments.

Must... Beat... Carrington

I saw Carrington on Sunday, and she said she's been blogging, but not posting it. Hm. So that makes me think she's building up all these blog posts to put up on the last day of the month, all at once, and lull me into a false sense of security right now, thinking I'm far enough ahead that I don't really need to blog anymore. Well, I'll show her!

However, it's 2am (I've been busy up til now since I have SO MUCH TO DO before we leave town on Friday) and my brain is pretty much done working. So: Randomness!

Rant: SCOOT IN YOUR CHAIRS! It amazes me how many adults do not do this. All the break rooms at all my jobs have been a mess because no one would push their chair back toward the table when they got up. It's not difficult, it takes two seconds, and it's common courtesy! I always scoot the chairs back in when I pass them in the break room, or sometimes even in restaurants or whatnot. You always push your chair in, that's what I was taught all my life! So come on! They teach you this in kindergarten, can your brain not handle it now? *SIGH*

Swap: I'm on Swap-Bot, a website that hosts literally thousands of swaps. You can search by category, or just look through the lists of most recently posted, most popular, or by the send-by or sign-up-by dates. Once everyone's signed up, the computer assigns everyone partners--you don't send to the person who sends to you, it's all mixed up. And you get rated by your partner once your package arrived, not on its merits, but if it arrived on time and met the requirments (which I think is very logical as the "spiffiness" of a swap is subjective). If it's an extra-special swap, you can earn "hearts," which show up in your profile. There are swaps for everything from postcards to dolls to knitted things to movie-themed to recipes to pet stuff....

Anyway, the Harry Potter-themed one is due tomorrow, so I got it all finished and packaged up tonight. Maybe tomorrow I'll post my pictures of the stuff I made for another post to beat Carrington. But I think it turned out pretty swell, and I hope my partner thinks so too!

Sewing: Don't even talk to me.

Faire: Excited! :D I should start my packing list tomorrow to make sure we get out of here with our air mattress and sunscreen and all the pieces of our costumes.

Wedding: I'm a bridesmaid in my friend Megan's wedding in September, yay! But ACK, another thing I need to do before we leave for the weekend: buy, address, and send out invitations for her shower which is August 16th, in two and a half weeks! >.< It's luau-themed, fun! (Luau is a weird word, but it's really spelled like that. I checked. Hawaiian is so musical, especially compared with stodgy old English.)

Bed: Is where I am going now. Goodnight!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Inspiration From Everything

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about my reborn excitement for steampunk and the like, and A____'s joy at finding out that what she was writing had a name and a genre. Tonight at writers' group, she read the next bit of the same story she read before, elaborating on the moons and tides and geography of the world, and telling us the next things that would happen in the story.

She had also constructed a "steampunk charm bracelet" out of her brother's old belt, a wire hanger, a watch, and a compass. Her younger brother (not part of the group, but dragged upstairs in order to show off) had a similar one out of scraps of blue leather and safety pins, along with the wire, clock, and compass. Apparently the plan is to hang more "stuff" from the wires. Her brother had also made some goggles out of the same blue leather, safety pins, his own machine-sewing, and the lenses were from Gatorade bottle caps with the middles jabbed out and filled in with drum head plastic. He'd also attached a tiny twist-head flashlight to the side, which was an awesome touch, and all the "metal" (the parts around the goggle "glass" as well as the flashlight) was painted copper. Then he had to model the giant duct tape top hat he'd made, complete with a hat band holding the ace of spades, and two skull charms dangling from the top of the crown. With his pinstripe skinny jeans and funky bracelet, goggles in hand, he cut quite the figure.

As did A, when she ran downstairs to put on her Renaissance faire garb, all of which she'd either sewn herself or reconstructed from existing garments. After the group, A and I ran down to the grocery store to pick up a couple of things. I was dressed "weird" too, in my ten dollar (a miraculous find!) Gunne Sax dress, just because. I wanted to show it to C because we'd been talking about them the week before, and she showed me her wedding dress which she'd made in the style of the Gunne Sax frocks. So we weirded out the folks I used to work with (my Starbucks job was inside that grocery store) and generally enjoyed being odd. It was fun.

Of course, now I'm more inspired than before to build my own steampunk outfit. I love the idea of a charm bracelet, and while I'm not too sure about a compass (I'll have to think about my "character" and what she would want or need), I would like a strange old watch, and maybe some other nifty bits and bobs. And a black bustle-type skirt, like Mrs. Lovett. Maybe a minature top hat with a feather coming out, and a jeweled brooch attaching it to the hat. High collar, puffed sleeves with a lot of buttons at the cuff. Yes yes. And I have the perfect boots to go with it, too!

But, alas, I must finish my Ren faire gown before I do ANY of this, or I'll never get it done in time. My sewing machine cutoff is 10 pm since it's so loud (I really should get it serviced) and I don't want to keep the neighbors up, but I felt like I needed to be doing MORE after that. So the last couple of nights I've constructed a French hood, and once I add one more line of trim and the veil down the back, it'll be done.

On the gown itself, I still need to:
-add the buttonholes in the back of the bodice to lace it
-sew the skirt pieces together--six of them
-pleat the front pieces and gather the back ones
-sew the skirt to the bodice
-sew the sleeves to the bodice
-and I'm still debating on making a bum roll (which, clearly, is worn under the skirt); I'll try the finished gown on before hemming the skirt and see if I think it needs one and/or if I have the time.

Luckily all the pieces are cut out. I don't think I'll have time to do the slashed sleeves like I wanted, but oh well. And if I have time, I'd like to fashion a fan to bring with me, probably to hang from a ribbon at my waist. It will be HOT at the faire. OH, I would also like to put a couple of big pockets in my skirt so I don't have to carry a purse or have some sort of bag hanging off the belt I can't wear with this outfit (which is what I've done the last few years we went). I just want my phone, chapstick, and probably my wallet, plus a place to put the map of the grounds. I don't have enough cleavage to put my stuff in, Kat. ;) So that's Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday to finish all this stuff, and I work 6 hours Tuesday and 6 hours Thursday. Hmm.

Oh yes, the "inspiration" I referred to in the title. I just feel so inspired after my writers' group meetings. Sometimes it's to write, which is good of course, but also I feel inspired just to create or learn. Sewing a bustle skirt, making a charm bracelet/watch, finishing my faire costume. Researching Gunne Sax dresses or steampunk or neo-victorianism. Reading things the other members have recommended. And I can't think of a better thing for a writers' group to do to me!

100 Jam-packed Story Sentences: 51-75

51. "I love my sister, I love my sister," I chanted to myself as I started my fourth hour working on the cross-stitch of her wedding date, her name and her husband's above it, with a border of little hearts.
52. "You're turning twenty-two.... and the theme for your birthday party is 'Disney princess'?" my husband asked incredulously.
53. Crouching low over the sidewalk, she asked, "Isn't it beautiful?" All I saw was a worm, or I guess a caterpillar or something, but I nodded and smiled to make her happy.
54. "Is that a man or a woman?" Cheryl whispered to me as we watched the person in a pencil skirt and heels cross the street, but I honestly couldn't tell.
55. I spent seventy-five dollars to rent that karaoke machine for the night of the party, and not a single person got up to use it.
56. "Sure you wanna be doin' that?" Adrian asked her in a low voice, an easy smirk curving on his lips, but the girl just smiled, looking up through her eyelashes at him, and stepped closer.
57. It all made perfect sense now: if he could just pile the dirt high enough, and make the right shapes in it with leaves and sticks and drops of his own blood, then they would see, they would all see!
58. She would write a sentence, take a sip of coffee, then stare at the screen for several minutes; it went on like that all morning until finally she had a page.
59. "Okay, just because I'm knitting doesn't mean I'm pregnant!" the girl snapped, and the old man shuffled uneasily further down the aisle of the bus and away from her. "I'm just fat!" she shouted after him.
60. Clayton had failed to tell me he had to be Frosty the Snowman in the school play on Friday until Tuesday evening, so here I am at one in the morning, sewing a big white fleece bag with leg holes, and wondering where on earth I'll be able to find a top hat in the next two days.
61. As the sun slowly shot the smog with rays of pink and gold, drably-dressed men scuffed their boots while going from street corner to street corner, reaching up with long, cold poles to dim the lanterns one by one.
62. Adelaide decided that enough was enough. She made a complicated movement with one hand as the boy turned away, and suddenly he fell to his knees, coughing and choking, clutching his stomach. A moment later, several long, slender, green snakes burst from his mouth to fall, writhing, on the pavement.
63. It seemed to passersby that the girl just couldn't walk in a straight line, but in truth, she would never step on a shadow, believing that to do such a thing to the image of a bird or child or tree would harm the thing itself.
64. "Why is the dirt sparkling?" little Chloe asked, clutching mommy's hand on one side and daddy's on the other. "Fairy dust," Daddy said with a smile, the same time Mommy said, "Mica chips."
65. "Oh!" I cried softly, touching my thumb to the inside of my bare ring finger; where had I left my wedding band?
66. "But my mom lets me play with it at home," Dane said, holding up the plastic gun, but Mrs. Sommers just shook her head and took it from him, putting it on top of the fridge. Dane went back outside, and immediately found a stick with the right shape. "Bang! You're dead!" he shouted at his friend, Willow.
67. "Great job, I liked it a lot," Claire said with a bright smile, but as soon as she was out of the garage where her son was practicing with his "band," she shook her head, rolling her eyes.
68. "No, you can't sign my cast," Mallory said, causing Mary Anne to turn away, sniffling and fighting tears.
69. "I don't see why all of us should've got kicked out just because you couldn't keep your mouth shut," Jared muttered as the group of boys exited the theater. It had been pretty funny, though, to watch Chris yell at the mother of the kid who wouldn't shut up.
70. "Harry Potter is not for losers!" Katie said, stomping her foot. She felt self-conscious about her "Mudblood" t-shirt for the rest of the day, though.
71. "No!" he cried, grabbing the pen out of her hand. "This is only for writing my novel!"
72. It had all started--from the disastrous first date to the pregnancy scare to the incident at homecoming--with a simple question: "Does Kelly have a MySpace?"
73. The smell of bacon always reminds me of my grandmother's kitchen: blue and white dishes, ancient silverware, the sugar and pepper shakers shaped like two cows, and the avocado green linoleum that went with the knotty pine cupboards, the very wood seemingly infused with the scent of pan-fried bacon.
74. I thought it was an over-exaggeration that all New Yorkers are thin, something TV tells us to make us envy the city; now that I live here, I know the truth. Everyone walks everywhere, and that keeps them thin!
75. The only reason I was able to pretend I liked the hideous thing so convincingly was that I knew I could return it to the store and get all that cash back to buy something I actually wanted.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Gown Update and Brainlessness

The bodice is pretty much finished. Depending on how much time and patience I have once the thing is mostly done, I might hand-sew a string of pearls along the top edge, but we'll just see.


I just laid out the fabric how it will look when it's done, so nothing but the bodice is sewn in this picture. I know the lighting is horrible! The true color of everything's just a little darker than this, since this is with the flash. The rest of the photos are without flash, so they look really horrid! But just pretend I didn't take these at 11 pm with only the overhead light on.

Sleeves will be added out of the same grey fabric as the overskirt. I'm going to try and have them split down the top so little poofs of my chemise can show through, but like the embellishment, we'll see how much time and patience I have when I get there. The underskirt is very light, shiny satin, and I'm going to sew a bit of leftover bodice fabric along the bottom both to weigh it down a little, and to add some visual interest.


I can't count (but we already knew that). There are THREE pieces of "boning" i.e. zip ties, in each back piece, making the total TWENTY pieces of boning, not 22. D'oh. But the zip ties seem to be working quite nicely, and I don't think any of them will poke out through the fabric. At least, I hope not. Four channels have very tiny zip ties, maybe 1/8", and the rest have thicker, heavier ties, maybe 1/4" or a bit more. The packages didn't say their width, just their length. Weird.



I really really really hate doing grommets, so I might do small (machine-made; thank goodness for my buttonhole foot!) buttonholes along the back to lace it up. I'm not sure how historical that is, but I don't really care about that one thing. I'm going to try and do spiral lacing, though, which is historical. People didn't lace anything the way we do now (like shoes, back and forth) until the 18th/19th century. Actually, I won't be able to lace myself up, so I'm going to try and get Matt to do spiral lacing. Should be interesting.

And now for something completely different: I got up a little later than I meant to this morning because Matt was so nice and snuggly! So I cut my walk a little short, just going down and up the main street, and not around the loop. At the end of that section is a small grocery store, so I thought I'd pop in for some eggs and orange juice and make breakfast when I got home. Well, I hadn't wanted to carry my regular purse on my walk, but I did want to take a few things: my cell phone, keys, lip gloss, and to have a place to put the empty cup when I was done snacking on the granola I brought. So I threw all that into a different purse with a long strap that goes across my chest, which is comfier for walks.

Well, it didn't click in my head until I was at the checkout that I'd failed to bring my wallet. D'oh! I told the cashier, "I'm so sorry, I walked all the way down here without any money!" She told me, "Well, it's a lovely day, I guess you can walk back and get it!" very cheery-like. I laughed and said I'd be right back. And.... I didn't go back. I kind of feel bad, but Matt was already up and eating when I got home, and I didn't feel like walking back to the store, having walked more than enough in the shoes I'm trying to break in (ow, my blistered heels). Nor did I want to drive. So I feel a little badly about it, but I'm sure they just put the stuff back where it goes after a bit. Oh well.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008


What was I doing 10 years ago:
Ten years ago, I was twelve, almost thirteen. We lived in a very very small town, before it even got the stoplight out on the highway where you turn in to get to it. Not this weekend, but the next one (the first Saturday in August) we probably would've been going to the annual festival celebrating the produce that area is known for, sweltering all day in 100-degree weather and shopping around at the craft booths after having watched the parade that morning.

My room was rag-painted light blue over cream, but I'd decided that was too "little girl," so my parents let me paint neon swirls and hearts and stars and handprints here and there over the top of it. I had a chest/trunk (covered in denim fabric) against the window with cushions on top and against the back wall, so it made a kind of windowseat, and a bead curtain at the side of it. At the foot was a bookshelf, so it was a neat little alcove.

I would be getting ready for my second year of homeschooling, 8th grade. For my 13th birthday party, I had three friends over--Megan, our pastor's daughter, Joelle, from church, and Katie, whom I've known since we were about 7--for a sleepover. I think we tie-dyed shirts. I was very into "hippie" stuff at the time.

Snacks I enjoy:
Coffeeeeeeee! And if I'm going to have candy, it's pretty much going to be chocolate in some form. Oreos in milk, or chocolate chip cookies with milk on the side. Homemade bread. A tortilla with butter and honey, folded into quarters. Banana bread. Muffins. Basically: carbs!

Things I would do if I were a billionaire:
-Pay off all our school loans and credit card debt
-Start a good retirement plan
-Start a good savings account for our kids' college and weddings
-Design and build the home of our dreams--and truly I'd be content to live right here
-Buy Matt all the electronic toys he's had his eye on
-Have one kid now and the second when the first is about 3, then return to get my master's once they're in elementary school--the plan as it stands is to get my master's, then have kids so I have a "real job" at that point
-Pay for my parents to finish the upstairs, where they live over their restaurant, and build an addition in the back of the house
-Sponsor a bunch of underpriveledged children/donate to Red Cross/something like that
-Travel all the places I've wanted to go
-Buy a really nice sewing machine

Places I have lived:
-California: Riverside and Longbeach (when I was tiny)
-Colorado: Several towns on the western slope, and a couple in the mountains
That's all. *Shrug*

Jobs I have hadChronologically:
-Resident assistant at an assisted living facility: Apr/01-Jul/03
-Research assistant at _____ College: Sept/03-Apr/04
-Stock person at JC Penney's: Sept/04-Dec/04
-Salesgirl at Bath and Body Works: May/06-Jul/06
-Salesgirl at Motherhood Maternity: Jul/06-Jul/07
-Salesgirl at JoAnn Fabric and Crafts: May/07-Oct/07
-Barista at Starbucks: Oct/07-June/08
-Present job: June/08-??
I was able to be jobless so often between 03 and 07 because we were living off student loans. >.< 6 peeps I wanna know more about:
-Eine Feisty Berg
-Kid Christmas
-Rachel Goes Global
-Books and Knits
-Page One Twelve
-and of course, my old nemesis, Carrington Schaeffer

Yes, I'm tagging you! Take this meme, it was fun!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

8 Random Things

1. I have the lining of my Tudor gown bodice almost ready to go. I used two pieces of muslin instead of one piece of muslin and one piece of heavy interfacing. I would like to breathe at least a little at the faire. But I am attempting the "boning" which means, in my case, zip ties. Cheap, plentiful, and not so stiff they'll squish me. I've sewn the 22 channels, four each in both back pieces, and 14 in the front. The zip ties I got today weren't satisfactory, though, so I'll be buying better ones and inserting them tomorrow. Wish me luck!

2. I haven't been doing so well with my chores this past week. Last week I did none of the weekly ones except my walks, and toward the end of the week I'd stopped making the bed every day. *Sigh* But it's a new week now (if three days into it already), and I'm going to try and do better.

3. If you haven't watched this kiwi video, you need to. *Sniff* (I tried to put the actual video here, but apparently the internet hates me tonight. ARGH.)

4. A woman came through my check-out line at work today wearing two vests. She had on a white t-shirt, close-fitting, with a short vest buttoned over the top of it... and then another similar vest open over the top of that. Both vests had black satin backs, and both had some sort of ribbon-through-a-buckle to tighten them (is there a technical word for that?) in the back. I saw this because the outer vest was shorter than the under. They were both black, though I think the outer vest had thin grey pinstripes. It was most peculiar. I also remember that she had very very long earrings made up of several different types of chains; they brushed the tops of her shoulders. Hm.

5. I cannot believe how fast this month has gone. Actually, this entire year seems to have flown by! In just a few more days, I'll be hosting a picnic in the park with a few girlfriends, just for the sake of getting together to catch up and have fun. And then the following weekend, we'll be at Liz and Jamie's for the Renaissance faire!

6. The faire weekend is also our 5th anniversary! Let's see, five years ago today I was probably.... making the boutonnieres for the men in the wedding party to wear, as well as my bouquet and my bridesmaids' (they were all fake flowers; I still have my bouquet lying atop one of our bookshelves). In a few more days, family would be coming in from out of town. Matt and I were making several trips over the course of a couple weeks up to our new apartment, an hour and a half from where we lived at the time, to fill it with used furniture. We've come so far in such a short amount of time, but it also simultaneously seems like I've known him forever.

7. I want to go see Mama Mia!, and I have a free movie ticket from a friend, but I can't use it until, I believe, July 29th because you have to wait 12 days after a new movie comes out if you want to use that free ticket. I'll be out of town August 1st-3rd for the faire, but would anyone like to come see it with me later that week? I know I'll have the 4th off because I always have Mondays off for writers' group. Let me know!

8. I think I am out of things to say. I hope you're all having a wonderful week so far!

Right In Front of Me

As I descended the hill around the bottom curve of the wobbly teardrop-shaped street on my walk yesterday, I heard an odd sort of buzzing sound. It was high-pitched, but lower than a bee or fly. I looked up to see a tiny hummingbird zipping back and forth over the street. I thought the poor thing was going to exhaust itself, zooming this way and that without landing for at least a full minute. It's tiny wings were blurred with speed, and it was too far over my head for me to even see what colors it was, but I got my camera out, zoomed in as much as I could, and tried to follow the little thing with the lens.

But every time I thought I had it, every time I looked down at the camera's screen to see the dot of brown in the middle of the blue and white sky, it had already disappeared. Finally, I got this shot:


See it? That little speck in the clouds?


Still the bird flitted back and forth in a zig-zag pattern over the street. "Go rest!" I called to it. It was so tiny that surely it would use up all its energy in a moment more and collapse. Yet still I tried (and failed) to get one more picture of it.

Eventually it buzzed off into a tree, hopefully to sit still for a minute before finding a flower or feeder to get some lunch. I went on my way, tucking my camera back into its case and then into my bag.

Prepare yourself. I know this sounds cheesey, but I still think it bears saying now and again. What I wish I had done now was simply watched the hummingbird instead of trying to capture it on camera. I was thinking about the blog, and sharing this story with you, but the one photo I did get didn't show the bird at all; it's just a shot of the Colorado sky with a barely-noticable fleck in the middle. If you didn't know better, it might make you think you needed to clean your computer screen. But sometimes it's better to put the camera down (or the microscope you're intent on using to examine something, or the bullhorn you're using to yell at it, or the plank out of your own eye) and just look and listen. How much more would I have noticed about the little hummingbird if I'd really watched it instead of trying to capture one instant of its life for my own satisfaction? How much more would I learn if I would just shut up and listen instead of trying to put myself into everything?

Monday, July 21, 2008


Instead of showing you all the pictures I took on my walk this morning and simply describing them all, I've decided to post one or two a day for a while and do something different. Maybe I'll just tell you about where I took it and what I like about it, but I might write a little storylet, or recount a memory it sparked, or something else entirely. Some of the photos turned out well, and some didn't.

As I've said before, I'm not a photographer. I don't know anything about balance or lighting, and my camera (thank goodness) auto-focuses. I can take okay macro shots of my small crafty things, and I know how to adjust the white balance, but that's about it. But, also as I've said before, I'll never get any better if I don't practice. If you have any photography tips, please share them in the comments!

I felt a little weird taking pictures of other people's houses and yards, but as far as I know, no one saw me. If they did, they didn't run out of their house demanding to know what I was doing. Personally, I think I'd be flattered if someone liked my house or garden enough to take pictures of it, but you never know with some people. Anyway, onwards!


Father had it built it for my two older brothers, but it was I who made the greatest use of the treehouse. Henry and Edward had already finished with their tutors and started school by the time it was done, and during the summers when they were home, they had little use for the treehouse in the back garden. They were too busy taking trips to the sea with friends, and going to town with Father. But I was only nine the first summer we had it, and spent nearly every afternoon up amongst the great green leaves. Occasionally the boys would get there first and refuse me entry, and then I would wander the winding path that circled the property, reading as I went, or just thinking. But most days I lounged up there for hours.

Eventually the weather did grow colder, and Mother wouldn't allow me to bring blankets outside. I huddled in my coat and gloves a few times, turning the pages of my books with difficulty, but when the snow came, it was too cold and wet to bear. In the Spring, however, I returned to my loft with greater enthusiasm than before.

Some days it was a sultan's palace, and I was the queen, lounging amongst imaginary silk pillows and admiring the giant rubies and emeralds and sapphires on my fingers and wrists. Other days it was the far north, and I huddled in my igloo, mussing my hair (much to my mother's dismay) in order to better pretend I wore a fur hood like the Eskimos. More often, I was a lady locked in a tower, and I scanned the smooth greenness of the back yard for my knight in shining armor. There were a few fleeting weeks when I showed interest in learning how to weave like the Lady of Shallot, but Mother encouraged me to work on my embroidery instead, laughing that we could not possibly buy a loom. Sullenly, I brought my hoop and threads up the ladder in a basket, and pretended I wove a shuttle back and forth, painting the scenes below inch by inch, instead of making tight, tiny stitches that outlined flowers and birds.

That second summer, I began bringing pen and ink and paper there, too, and writing down my pretend adventures. I would return at supper time with inkstained fingers and wrinkled skirts from sitting Indian-style on the wooden planks, and Mother would ask why I couldn't apply myself to my French and arithmetic with such vigour. But as I was still young, she indulged my fantasies and let me alone.

My own daughter plays there now, though half the wood of the floor and rails is new, the old having rotted or broken over the many summers I had no time to visit my leafy getaway. There were too many teas and balls to attend once I was out, and friends to see and calls to make. I spent one summer in London with my widowed aunt, and after that I had my own home and garden to tend to. I've asked George more than once about building a treehouse in our own back garden, and have even pointed out suitable trees. But he doesn't see the point of it as we have no sons to make use of it. He thinks it is not appropriate for our Violet to be "climbing about like a savage."

But when Violet and I visit my Mother, I allow her to explore the entire garden, treehouse included. What George doesn't know won't hurt him, and it certainly won't hurt Violet. I kiss the scratches on her soft arms, and tell her of my own days in the treehouse. Her brown eyes are wide during my tales, as if she cannot imagine her mother in short frocks and loose curls, clambering up the planks nailed to the tree trunk and wriggling through the hole in the floor. But I tell her it's true, it's all true. Anything she wishes can be true, I tell her, if she wants it badly enough.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Of Angst and Sewing

Firstly, let me just say that I got my fix of Tortured Hero for the week after seeing Dark Knight on Friday. Oh yes, it was awesome. I could go into greater detail, but this isn't a movie blog, and half of it would just be fangirly squeeing over stuff anyway. Suffice it to say I really really liked it and we'll surely be buying it the second it comes out.

Is "firstly" a real word? I'm pretty sure "secondly" is, so "firstly" must be.

Secondly, I've been sewing. I can't remember my last sewing update, so what I have done for the faire is:

-Megan's pants
-Matt's pants
-Matt's shirt
-My chemise

I'd show you pictures, but the pants are not that exciting, they're just... pants. I might have to redo the @#$%^&* collar of Matt's shirt because it's too tight. I didn't have him around to measure when I made it. And a lady would never show pictures of her undergarments! So you'll just have to wait. However, I have a picture of my gown:


Well, it won't be quite that fancy. It'll be the gold one, but without the rolls at the top of the sleeves, and all in silver and grey and cream with pearl and silver jewelry. :) So lovely! I only work three days this week (ACK no money!) so I should have plenty of time to sew.

While I've been waiting for four yards of fabric to dry, hanging over the shower curtain rod, I sewed this:


I traced onto wrapping paper a shirt I had that was similar, but cropped (so I wear it over a tank top or long dress), and lengthened it, and made a few alterations in the cut of the front. I looked at an online tutorial for a baby kimono shirt for the construction, then went at it.


I wish the back could've been in one piece, but I bought the fabric without a pattern in mind and didn't have quite enough. I LOVE this fabric, by the way. So much of Alexander Henry's line is amazing. And I want a dozen shirts like this! It was so so so simple to put together (I LOVE bias tape!) and it's cool and summery.



Friday, July 18, 2008

Tortured Heroes

Dark Knight came out last night at midnight. Aughhhhhhh I want to see it so badly (but we have no money, boo)! I've been excited to see it since the very first trailer came out, what, last summer? Everyone's saying Heath Ledger's performance as the Joker is Oscar-worthy (though I have to wonder if they'd be saying that if he hadn't died, you know?) I'm eager to see Maggie Gyllenhaal reprise the role Katie Holmes did an "eh" job with in Batman Begins. And Batman has always been my favorite superhero. Part of it is that he doesn't have "super powers" like the rest of them. He's not from another planet, nothing radioactive bit him. He has a ton of cash, which helps a lot, but other than that, all his "powers" are from his own training and gadgets and determination, and I like that.

But I always fall for the Tortured Hero character. (Most other superheroes are tortured heroes, too, but like I said, I like Batman better to begin with.) His parents died when he was a kid, and he still thinks it's his fault. He's carrying the weight of the city on his shoulders, and feels responsible to do something since he has the ability. But he also has (insert name of current love interest at the time) to worry about, and the torment of whether or not to tell her that he's Batman.

(If you're intending on watching Batman: Gotham Knight, six short animated stories, and don't want to be spoiled for it, skip to the next paragraph. End of warning.) This is what we watched with Brandon the other night--he'd bought it that day and brought it over. Through one of the stories, Batman's wounded and trying to make his way up from some underground lair of a bad guy. It keeps flashing back to some training he did in (I think) India, but at the end he nearly reaches the surface. He's stuck under a drainage grate on the street, and Alfred is on his way to pick him up, but Bruce notices a gun amongst all the trash there. And another gun, and another. Murder weapons quickly disposed of, just one sign of the terrible crime in the city. When Alfred arrives, his arms are full of these guns that have maimed and killed people. "Give me your hand," Alfred calls down, but Bruce looks up, holding all those guns to his chest and says, "...I can't." He can't accept help or sympathy or love because he thinks he has to be this strong, super-human man in order to save the city, and not a real human being. It was just really touching and heart-breaking.

Anyway, I'm getting a little fangirl-y. My point in this rambling is that I'm more drawn to this kind of hero than to others. For one thing, there's nothing interesting in a story where everything's swell and everyone's content. There's got to be turmoil, and inner turmoil is particularly interesting. And there's very little of interest in a hero that's handsome and rich and has it all together. If I wanted that, I'd read those crummy paperback novels that rake in millions of dollars a year.

No, I like heroes like Mr. Rochester in Jane Eyre. Very rich, yes, but not terribly handsome. And he's so unhappy because (spoiler alert!) his life has no meaning until Jane comes into it. He has a lunatic wife locked in the attic, which would understandably put a damper on his new love for the governess. (End of spoilers. :P) And, call me a dork, but I even like the Beast in Beauty and the Beast. He thinks himself incapable of love, and hideous on top of that. Yet Belle (spoiler alert!) breaks through to him, as does Jane to Edward.

Who else is in this category? Mr. Darcy, though to a lesser extent. Severus Snape, from the Harry Potter books, fascinates me. Edward Scissorhands is a great example, with the added bonus of a sweet innocence he's unaware of, himself. Erik from Phantom of the Opera is practically the definition of a Tortured Hero. Who else? Who's your favorite Tortured Hero?

P.S. I went on another walk this morning, and the weather was perfect: about 80 degrees, and overcast, with avery slight warmish breeze. But half a block from home, I realized my camera had absolutely no batteries. My next day off is Monday, so I'll take some pictures then.

Update: My paycheck was a little bigger than we'd thought, so we're seeing Dark Knight with some of Matt's work buddies at 10:20 tonigh, woohoo! Can't wait can't wait can't wait!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

The Joys of Apartment Living

I really don't mind most of it. And I really like the place we're in now. We're upstairs in a unit of four total, so there's an unmarried (I think divorced?) guy below us; occasionally his teenaged son visits. The other upstairs is a widower in his 70s, who is very nice and always says hi when he sees us walking out to our cars. And below him is a young mom with a little girl maybe a year and a half old. Sometimes the baby cries, sometimes the young mom's friends come over and smoke out on the back porch and we can smell it through our open window. Sometimes the widower sits on his back porch and talks for hours to a friend or relative that's come to visit. Mr. Downstairs is pretty quiet, though very polite. And his teenaged son is very nice too, always says hi when he sees us and doesn't play any loud music or anything. We have perfectly decent neighbours, and if we can occasionally hear Mr. Next Door vacuuming, or Young Mom yakking on her cell phone outside at 11pm, oh well.

One part of apartment living I will not miss when we eventually get our own place, however, is sharing a laundry room. We have one washer and dryer for the four of us, which really isn't bad. The place we were at before this had two washers and two dryers for 18 units in the building, which was pretty obnoxious, especially since one dryer was broken half the time. But here, it's rare that someone's doing laundry when I get ready to do it.

However, a few days ago I really had to wash a few things before I went to work in the afternoon, but Young Mom was doing laundry. No problem, I still had a few hours. I checked back in half an hour and her clothes were done in the washer but still in it. So what did I do? I unloaded all the wet clothes and set them on top of the dryer, then loaded all my own stuff in. Not very many people get to say they've had the experience of handling their neighbours' underwear, but I can now say I have had that privilege. Her boyfriend's underwear, her bras, as well as a bunch of shirts and baby clothes. At least they were clean.

Next time I come back in the laundry room, my wet stuff is sitting on top of the dryer and hers is in it, and she's loaded another bunch of laundry into the washer. It's fair now, since she's taken out my clean bed sheets as well as my underwear and Matt's. Okay. So I come back in ten minutes or so and her stuff's out of the dryer. I put mine in, and even wave to her as she pulls back into her parking space behind the building; apparently she's run out to the store or something for a minute. I feel so close to her now that we've handled each others' unmentionables. *Sigh*

Oh, and Carrington? I'd like a large iced chai latte, I think. :) How about Monday the 4th of August, when I'm back from the Ren faire?

"I assure you it is very refreshing after sitting so long in one attitude."

I took another walk this morning. I meant to get up closer to 8 to take advantage of the cooler weather, as it's been 94 or so in the middle of the day lately, but I woke up a few minutes before the alarm would sound and turned it off, sleeping til 9 when Matt got up for work. Once he was gone, I got up and dressed, taking my shawl because it looked cloudy out. I was glad to have it for the first half of the walk, but simply carried it on the way home since the sun had come out and it was getting warmer even in the shade.

I have found my Route, I think. The street I live on curves off from a very lovely street lined with early 20th-century (or older? I don't know architecture) houses with beautiful lawns and gardens and many huge, ancient trees. I love walking and driving down it and admiring the flowers and vines, the detail on the shutters, the pattern of the shingles. But about halfway down, there are only little houses from the 1960s with ill-kept yards and shabby fences, as well as a middle school, a dentist's office, and that sort of thing. But today I decided to turn down a side street and see where it went, and I'm so glad I did! More old houses, but some newer ones, too, and most were fairly large. Clearly these people have money. Every lawn was mowed and watered to verdant perfection, every driveway clear of oil spots, every window shining and clear. I would've taken almost any one of those houses in an instant if I could. There were a few retirees working in the garden, and a couple of hired "lawn and garden" workers trimming and mowing. The street curved around from the main street in a sort of wobbly teardrop shape, so I ended up nearly where I went in, and walked back up home.

I could describe the whole walk in smells. The scent of some sort of dark berry mingled with the droppings of the birds who ate them was among the first as I exited my street. I love that huge house at the corner, with a treehouse tucked into a giant tree at the rear of the back yard, and vines growing up over sandstone brick. Dust was in the air from nearby construction, but as I continued down that first street, I smelled wet grass, a hint of flowers, and the occasional whiff of a garbage can left at the edge of the sidewalk for pickup this morning. Down the teardrop-shaped street there was the scent of freshly-mown grass, and mud, and warmth. I think in summer, warmth has a smell.

Or I could paint the experience in sounds. Birds chirping chattily, having been awake for hours and finished their "good morning" songs. The burbling rush of water through little side ditches, and the rush of it beneath rusted metal grates. A weedwhacker in the distance, the hum of pumps cleverly hidden behind cute little fences, the kshhhhhhhhhhhhh of sprinklers belonging to people who could afford all the water they gushed into this desert climate.

I could describe it all in sensations. The tickle of shawl fringe on my arms and the swish of my long skirt around my calves. The bite of a pebble in my shoe, and the consequent relief as I slipped my foot out, flipped my ballet flat over with my toes, and slid my foot back in. Water drops on the leaves of a lush vine hanging over a retaning wall, cool on my fingers as I skimmed my hand over it. It was probably from sprinklers earlier in the morning, but I pretended it was dew. The brush of low tree branches on my face and shoulders as I ducked to pass them on the sidewalk.

Usually I bring my ipod with me on walks, but I left it at home this morning and was able to enjoy everything that much more. Without humming or even singing along to the Enchanted soundtrack, some Michael Buble, or even OK Go, I could experience the walk with all my senses, and think about what I was seeing and hearing and smelling and feeling. Hence, this blog post! I have tomorrow off work, too; maybe I'll go on another walk in the morning. I should take my camera, too! I love blogs with pictures, I'm just not a photographer. But practice makes perfect, right?

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

10 Things I am loving

1. This fabric:


I got it more than a year ago, when I just started sewing. It's since become 1/4 of a tiered skirt, which I love and wear all the time, and after using a bit for another project yesterday, I still have a little less than 1/4 of a yard, which I'm sure I will hoard for just the right project someday. Love it.

2. My "Chore Pockets" which I made from the above fabric and the leg of some of Matt's old jeans.


Everything starts out in the left pocket and moves to the right pocket as I get it done. The top is daily, the bottom is weekly. It's hanging just to my left as I sit at the desk, so I can enjoy the cute fabric, and be reminded of what I need to do every day.

3. Coffee with cinnamon in it. Some days I'll make regular coffee with about a tablespoon of Caramel Truffle (or whatever flavour I've picked up) coffee in it. That way the splurge on flavoured coffee lasts a long time, and I don't just drink regular coffee every day. But sometimes I'll put a shake or two of cinnamon in the filter before I brew the coffee, and yesterday especially it turned out quite delicious.

4. My husband. It seems kind of silly that he'd be on this list, since of course I love him--he's my husband! But I really do love and appreciate him. Yesterday he worked 6pm to 2am in order to paint his department at work. It was just him and two of his managers all night, and he came home with bright blue all over his pants--he tripped over a paint tray--and flecks on his arms and shoes. I was still awake when he got home, in part from the tea I'd drunk earlier in the night which was, apparently, not decaf, but also because it feels weird to sleep in our bed without him. And I was just so happy when he got home. (Yes, you can go gag now. Sue me.)

5. My hair the other day:

(It's really difficult to photograph the back of your own head!)

I'd washed my hair Friday morning, but the first day it's clean, I have Hermione Granger hair. Not the pretty waves they gave her in the movie (*eye roll* don't get me started) but the insane frizz she has in the books. So for work that afternoon, I decided to fix it fancy, since I had the time. Still damp, I braided the top half of it, then put the bottom half in a bun and sort of wrapped the braid around it. I hid the braid's rubber band with a little butterfly barrette I think I may have worn once since I got it back in jr. high.


It stayed in really well all night, and was, unsurprisingly, still a little damp in the middle when I let it out.

6. My writers' group, the Dames D'plume. I mentioned A___'s writing last night, but I was really really excited to hear the excerpts of our other two members as well (and I hope my own wasn't horribly lame in comparison like it felt). Clearly I was inspired by the meeting, if I couldn't stop thinking about building some steampunk-y world of my own, but just hearing the successes of other writers whom I knew and respected was uplifting. I'm so glad I have it to go to every week!

7. Sewing! I got Matt's breeches almost finished the other night when I posted. They're still waiting to be hemmed at the bottom because he's not sure if he's going to tuck them into boots, or just wear them long. But I also have my friend, Megan's, pants for the faire done. They're loose and baggy, dark green satin. She's going as a belly dancer (*resists rant on historical innacuracy*) and I think they turned out really well! Today I hope to at least get my chemise cut out. The sewing itself is extremely simple--just rectangles fitted together, then a lot of hemming and very long seams--but time-consuming since it's such a large garment. I'll probably wear it as a nightgown in the winter, probably with a shawl.

8. Shawls. I think they're pretty and romantic, and they make me feel old-fashioned. (Or more old-fashioned than usual with all my long skirts and weird jewelery.) I only have two right now. One is black and made of some slick, nylon (I think) cord, almost, with a pretty lacy pattern and long fringe, but it's not warm at all. The other:


was crocheted by a friend and I LOVE it. I think the yarn is just acrylic, not wool or something you'd think would be warm and cozy, and it's very holey, but it really does keep me warm when it's wrapped around my shoulders as I sit at the computer desk or on the sofa with a book. At the Dames D'plume yesterday, I finally picked up and explored a shawl C___ has had draped over a chair every time I've been there. I resisted previously, but couldn't stand it anymore. I stood up and tried it on, a pure white, very light confection of (probably) polyester with delicate fringe and a floral pattern. The other girls said I looked very writerly with my long, full skirt, and made me pick up the quill A___ had brought for us to play with and pose with it.

9. Quills! Speaking of. A___'s looked very like this one, and after Carrington and I played with it, I wanted to come home and get out my pen and nibs, which I hadn't done for years. The pen's just plastic, but I have a handful of different nibs for it, several of which are wide and flat. I used to play around doing calligraphy, and while all of my ink but the silver has dried up, I kind of want to get out my nice calligraphy paper, buy a new pot of black ink, and write a letter with it all! I scribbled a bit with the silver ink on some black paper last night, and did the alphabet as I remembered it (which was not very well) with one of the wider nibs. Fun! Geeky!

10. This song. I watched Once the other night, and have been singing this in my head almost nonstop since. So lovely, such a beautiful harmony!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Neo-Victorianism and Inspiration

This post isn't really about Neo-Victorianism very much, I just like typing it and saying it. Neo-Victorianism. Whee!

At writers' group tonight, one of our members read aloud part of a story she's writing that takes place in a "world" she and her brother are creating, and it really got me thinking. I should be thinking about my novel, and the 3,000 words I vowed to write on it this week, but now I'm all caught up in thoughts of steampunk (which she'd never heard of, but seemed very excited about, and interested to learn that her story seemed steampunk-y despite her ignorance of the term) and train rides and mountains and journeys and neo-victorianism and full skirts with lace-up boots.

I so don't need another writing project right now, though! I have this disease, you see, called startitis, which means that I start one thing after another after another, but finish very few of them. This is why my craft closet is a horrendous mess of half-finished projects and piles of fabric that may not be turned into an actual garment or accessory for years. My knitting baskets and bags are full of mateless socks and two-foot-long scarves. I have boxes and bags full of various supplies that caught my eye at one time, but which have now been relegated to a space at the back of the closet beneath another box or bag or three of similar abandoned inspirations. At the moment I have three unfinished NaNoWriMo novels on my computer (though I'm working on the most recent one), and a handful of short stories I either started and never finished, or with which I'm displeased.

But I've allowed myself to make a list of "Things I liked about A____'s story" with interjections of my own thoughts and theories added in. Maybe something will come of it, or maybe it will just be another list of things I'll never fulfill, at least not for months or years to come. But right now, it's getting it out of my system a bit, and that's all I can ask for a the moment.

Back to Earl Grey, store-brand Oreos, and writing, with Carrington on the sofa next to me!

(I've realized I begin a lot of sentences with conjunctions. One part of me flinches at this and remembers old textbooks warning against such dangers--"You'll never get a job if you do such a thing on your resume!"--but another part of me accepts and revels in the wonderful changes language goes through over the years. Yes, "History of the English Language" was one of my favorite classes ever.)

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Yes, I'm a big nerd.

I admit it. No, I'm not talking about Harry Potter, or my love of puns, or the way I inherently know where to put commas. I'm talking about the fact that I go to Renaissance Faires.

If we had more decent ones in Colorado, I'd probably go to them. As it stands now, though, it seems that Coloradans don't know how to throw a decent Ren faire. Californians, now, they know what they're doing. A friend of mine is in one of the guilds there, and they dress as historically accurate as possible, and even try to eat historically accurate food while at the faire. Their guild often represents a noble family, or sometimes even the royalty, and puts on "skits" of historic events for the public. I got to go to a faire with her a while back and see how it's really done. They mocked the other guilds portraying the king of France and his retinue, and the king of England and his retinue. (They were reading their lines off of computer print-outs inside folders that still had the UPC sticker on them--*gasp!*) They talked about "mundanes," i.e. people who don't dress up for faires. They pointed out who had on the wrong kind of shoes, or who had laced their bodice wrong. This was (pretty much) all in good fun, of course, but I thought it was very interesting to learn who sat where at the dinner table in the 16th century, how and where young ladies were allowed to go shopping, and what were considered appropriate pasttimes. (Apparently "battledore and shuttlecock" is one of them, and we had a lot of fun playing!)

The lame little faire in my town means well, I'm sure. But it's a mixture of pirates (around about the early/mid 18th-century) and the Renaissance (14th through 17th centuries, generally with a focus on the late 16th century at faires), so that tells you how much they care about historical accuracy. There's medieval (1100-1400-ish) sword fighting at the SCA tent, and booths selling everything from swords to clothes to pouches to glass roses. There were such things at my Californian friend's faire, too, but they (her guild) did it "right." And the fact that I care about this shows my intense nerdiness.

It's not feasible for Matt and I to dress perfectly accurately for the fair we're going to in a few weeks (which is a bigger, neater one than my little hometown faire) but I'm doing the best I can. Everything is machine-sewn, of course, because I would go stark raving mad if I hand-sewed everything. Finding the actual correct fabrics and such would be very difficult, and extremely expensive if I could find them. Not to mention sewing with period-accurate patterns, which make less sense than modern interpretations. But as I said, I'm doing my best. We'll see how much actually gets done by the first weekend of August, when we're going, but I hope to have at least a few new pieces for each of us to wear. Ideally, I'd like to have:

For Matt:
-breeches (done tonight!)

For Heather:
-bodice with attachable sleeves?
-forepart? (kind of a fancy apron that goes under a split skirt so it shows through)

Wish me luck, eh? I think I'll need it.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Speak up!

I'm so tired of people who mumble or talk too softly to be heard! Unless you have a sore throat, there is no reason for you to talk like that when you're out in public. There are a series of questions I have to ask every customer as I check them out at work, and if I have to say "Excuse me?" after everything they say, I feel like a moron. SPEAK UP! Some of these annoying people are men, which I wouldn't really expect. Are they too delicate to speak like a normal person? Do I intimidate people and they're afraid to speak up around me? Give me a break!

While I'm at it, how about if some of them take a shower and brush their teeth, too?

Okay, rant over. Thanks for letting me vent.

I've kept up with almost all my chores every day this week except for the one day with company. One or two days I was too busy/tired to do much, so I just counted small things. For "living room," I de-cluttered the top of the little dresser and put away the movies on the floor and called it good; for "kitchen," I just unloaded the dishwasher and loaded the few dirty dishes. There's half a sink of things to be washed, and I could stand to fold some fabric that's been laying over the back of a chair in the living room for.... er, a while, but some days I just can't do everything I'd like to. But! I'm quite pleased that I made the bed every day, even if it was an hour before we got back in it for the night. Feels good to do just that little thing every day, and it makes the whole room look spiffier despite the piles o' clothes around.

The only thing I didn't succeed in doing was to do some form of exercise twice this week. Boooo. I was planning on going on a walk at least once, and maybe digging out my old yoga book, which I used to do regularly a while back. I know I'm out of shape, and I can hardly walk fast from one end of the store to the other without getting a little out of breath, and this makes me feel a little pathetic. But I don't actually care that much. I don't care if I have muscles, and I hate running more than almost anything. But I can take walks, and I can do some simple yoga at home. I have scoliosis, and it would really be good for me to bend and stretch so my muscles, which have to support my crooked spine, get a little stronger. (My x-rays aren't as bad as the picture in that article, but before I wore a back brace for two years in high school, there was a pretty decent S-curve there.) I don't like waking up with a sore back at 22 years old, though wearing my good crocs (work, a black pair, and play, one black pair and one silver) help quite a bit.

I STILL need to devise something to put my chore cards in, and I need to do it by Monday night for writers' group, since that was one of my goals. I also need to bring in a 1,000-word excerpt of something, eep! I'll poke through the novel tomorrow after work and try to find something to take and read.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

French Toast

It was fun to hang out with Jamie and Liz yesterday and the day before. Matt found them a really good deal on a nice TV, surround sound, and wall mount for the TV through work, and got the commission off it! In thanks for the great deal, they took us to dinner at Famous Dave's Barbeque. It has been in town for several months, but Matt and I had never gone. We ended up getting The Feast, which was actually a decent deal since it fed all four of us with quite a lot of leftovers! No one really ate the baked beans or coleslaw, so I wish we would've asked if we could substitute something else for those. But ohhhhhhh man, the ribs were amazing, the brisket was great, and even the smoked chicken, which sounds "eh," was delicious. I got all the cornbread muffins to myself since no one wanted them (one there and three to take home) and those were great. Plus corn on the cob and potato wedge-fries. All served on the lid of a garbage can and set on a weird, three-legged wooden server. The atmosphere inside was nifty, too, with "vintage" bottles and tea towels and tin signs and such. (It was clearly new stuff made to look vintage because none of it was dirty enough. If something is actually 50 years old, you just can't get quite all the grime out of the tiny cracks and lines.)

We came home and watched the guys play Halo 3 for a while, then we all watched Hitman. It was okay; I might've got into it a little more if everyone hadn't talked through it. (They'd all seen it before and I hadn't. Yet it was definitely an action movie and you could pretty much tell what was going on even if you couldn't hear all the dialogue.) After that, we suddenly decided to go to the late show of Wanted. It wasn't as amazingly awesome as I'd thought, quite, but it was still pretty dang awesome. It was surprisingly funny, at times in the Office Space, hopeless, "my life is crap" sort of way. Then the action picked up, and the effects were fabulous. James McAvoy really is a great actor. He did the pathetic office drone, the panic attacks, the getting beat up, the being a cool assassin, and all of it was great and real.

With all the Halo, Hitman, and Wanted, I almost turned into a guy last night. So much testosterone!

Sorry this wasn't a terribly thought-provoking post, but this counts as my writing for the day, and I'm sort of brain-dead.

Oh yes, the French toast! I made it for breakfast for everyone, and took a picture of the spread out on the table, but it turned out horribly so I'm not posting it. I even did the thing where when the four slices on the griddle got done, I put them in a pan in the oven to keep warm until all of it was ready! I felt so hostess-y.

The house is nice and clean still. Yay for having company! It forces us to clean. I did not do any of my chores today, really. I don't know if I should excuse that because we had company and then I went to work, and when I came home I fed our friend Brandon and watched a movie with the guys.... or if there is no excuse. But I couldn't exactly leave the company either this morning (Liz and Jamie) or this evening (Brandon) to go pick up the kitchen, fold laundry, etc. Right? What do you think? Cast your vote in the comments/responses.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

I Am Cursed

I swear I am. It doesn't matter where or when or for what reason, the line I get in at any store always takes the longest.

Today at Goodwill, I got in what appeared to be the shortest line, only to see ALL the other people in all three other lines go through and finish before me, even the ones who'd got in line after I did. The elderly couple at the checkout I chose had a billion plates that had to be checked out and then wrapped in newspaper and double-bagged. Then there was a lady who just got a few pair of socks, and then me, with my single 29 cent sewing pattern.

Right after that I went to Wal-Mart and got in a "check yourself out" line. Though it seemed to be the shortest one, I saw that the checkout ahead of mine only had one lady buying a few shirts, so I darted in behind her. The woman at my original checkout finished, and the guy I'd been behind started to buy his big trashcans. But the person before the lady with the shirts in my new line had apparently purchased some sort of noxious fuel/oil something or other for their car, and it had leaked all over the conveyor belt and the bagging area, leaving some sort of noxious liquid as well as a stench. So the Wal-Mart lady had to come and spray everything with disenfectant and wipe it down--twice! The person in line behind the garbage can man in my original line was finished checking out before I even got to start my own checkout.

These are merely two instances from one day in my life. I swear, almost every single time I shop anywhere, something like this happens to me. The 95-year-old woman ahead of me takes ten minutes to write a check, or the young mom sends her husband back to grab something they forgot, leaving the rest of us in line to just stand there and wait. Every stinkin' time!

It doesn't really bother me. Most of the time I'm not in a hurry to get to whatever I need to do next, and in most cases, the delay is really only a few minutes, which won't hurt anything in the grand scheme of my life. It's just a little frustrating to have this happen again and again and again.

So am I just focusing on this more than is necessary, and it happens to everyone? Or is it really just me? Am I really cursed to always chose the worst possible line?

Tuesday, July 08, 2008


Carrington and her husband hosted a lovely dinner for my husband and I this evening. We had artichoke dip (with Fritos to dip, which sounds weird, but was yummy) as an appetizer. Carrington and I watched a strange little ettiquette DVD she'd got from the library and the guys stood around the grill and did.... whatever guys do when they stand around the grill. For supper there was a salad of cherry tomatoes, corn, green onions, and avacado, yummmmm; parmesan bread; rosmary potatoes with red onion; and kebabs with pork, more red onion, and apricots. It was all delicious, but we agreed the apricots were very apricot-y. Carrington said the recipe told her it would "bring out the flavor" of them, and man did it! But still very good.


This is the aftermath of the meal. I totally stood up on my chair and took a picture just for the sake of this blog.

Thanks for the lesson about uploading photos, by the way! This works much better.

A couple of Matt's friend will be staying the night tomorrow. Liz and Jamie are their names (Jamie as in the guy's name), and Matt's been playing World of Warcraft and, before that, EverQuest II with them for a couple of years now. They just moved about 5 hours away, whereas before they were in Maine, so Matt's happy they're closer and can hang out occasionally. Well, 5 hours still isn't that close, but closer than across the country. And when we move to the other side of the mountains next summer, they'll be quite close, like 30-60 minutes depending on where we end up. We miiiiiiiiight go see Wanted tomorrow, huzzah!

Well, I suddenly feel really tired. Must be all that good food in my tummy! Night night.

Monday, July 07, 2008


Okay, if this post looks horrible, I'm sorry. I've never done pictures on Blogger, so this might be edited 291849397592837 times before I can get it right. Here are some photos of Mom's float for her tea parlour in the Independence Day parade.

L to R: Dad, Aunt Pat, Great Aunt Barbara, Mom, Grandma, Me. Dad drove, of course, and the rest of us were having a tea party in the back of the truck. We decorated all our hats, and took tea cups and such from the restaurant to use.

Yes, I made my skirt. I don't think you could buy anything quite that tacky *cough* I mean patriotic, in a store. It's trimmed with white eyelet lace and made from whatever cotton or cotton/polyester I had in my stash. Red and white stripes, blue with white stars, and solid blue because I didn't have enough of the other two to make a whole skirt.

Dad's truck all decorated. It had "Have Lunch at (name of restaurant)" painted on freezer paper on the sides; all the lettering and painting was done by me, and it looked kind of fabulous, if I do say so myself. :)

It was very very hot, but we had ice water in our tea cups, and we all had fans. We were second in line, right after the color guard, so as soon as we reached the end of the route, we just turned off and drove home! All in all a success, and some good advertising for Mom's tea parlour.

(All right, that took WAY longer than it should have. WHY does Blogspot always insert your pictures at the top? If I have my cursor somewhere, it should insert the picture where the cursor is!!! Is there a way to get around this? Some kind of trick? Am I missing something? HELP! Because that was a huge ridiculous stupid pain in the behind and I'm not going to post pictures on my blog if it's always that difficult. Other people post lots of pictures. Are they just more patient than me, or do they know a better way to do it?)

10.5 Random Things

All right Miss Three-Posts-In-One-Day. We'll just see who gets coffee at the end of the month!

Random Item 1: When I went to look up a book at the library this afternoon, the keyboard and mouse at one of the computers were wet. There were actual droplets of water (or something) on them. I used a different computer and tried not to think about it too much.

Random Item 2: I was at the library to try and work on my novel some more. However, I guess I was novel-ed out, because while I did some freewrite-type scribbling in my notebook, no actual writing was accomplished.

Random Item 3: I was noveled out because I'd written just over 1,600 words in a coffee shop that morning! Since my goal for the week was to add 2,000 words to it (paltry, I know, but I'm working more than usual this week--excuses, excuses), I think I'm doing pretty well!

Random Item 4: Matt got a used, older model Nintendo DS from a friend. Oh yay, now he can take video games with him wherever he goes. He's currently playing Golden Sun (also used) in the bath tub.

Random Item 5: We took photos at Writers' Group this morning! I can't wait to see them on Ein Feisty Berg's blog. I'm sure we're all adorable and look fantastic.

Random Item 6: I should be doing dishes right now, but I have to out-blog Carrington! I'll clean when I'm done posting.

Random Item 7: I have not invented any kind of pocket-y thing for my Duty Cards (they need a better name; any suggestions?) but I have picked out fabric for it, and I have some ideas of how to set it up. Yesterday I got all my cards done, and have decided that if I go a whole week and don't miss a card, then I get some kind of reward. I'm not sure what, though; we'll see when we get there.

Random Item 8: I really really really want to go see Wall-E!!! Everyone I've talked to that's seen it (except for one person, and I'm not sure I trust his movie tastes since he refuses to watch even one Harry Potter movie; for shame!) has said it's the best animated movie they've seen in forever. I LOVE Pixar. I almost cry with laughter each time I watch For the Birds. Ohmygosh, it just made me so happy to watch that again.

Random Item 9: I also really really want to see Wanted. Angelina Jolie is awesome (in movies--don't get me started on her personal life) and I think James McCavoy being in something is more than enough of a reason to want to see it. Mmmmmmm....

Random Item 10: I wonder what I'll blog about tonight so I'm even with Carrington....

Slightly less-random Item 1: Lookit! Writers' Group pictures! (I'm the one in the hippie dress.)

100 Jam-packed Story Sentences: 26-50

I know that some of them are actually two sentences, but I find that I can't care too much.

26. "I'm so sorry!" the woman cried, holding the tiny, growling dog in her arms, "she's never bitten anyone before!"
27. "That's none of your business," she snapped, and slammed down the phone so hard that one of her fake nails chipped as it hit the tabletop.
28. "I really don't think that's 'H.R.-friendly,'" said John after hearing the joke; being the newbie, though, no one paid him any attention.
29. A single drop of red fell from her fingertip and landed right in the middle of the loaf of bread she'd pulled from the oven not two minutes ago.
30. The croquet balls had been painted to look like hedgehogs, and Sunshine had a huge grin on her face as she passed out plastic flamingo lawn ornaments instead of mallets.
31. "Oh, I feel like Goldilocks," Susanne said as she sank into the hundredth chair she'd tried that day. "All the others were too hard or too soft, but this one is just right."
32. She giggled, lying on the bed, but he smacked her bare bottom and snapped, "Stay still!" dragging the marker down the back of her thigh to finish writing his name.
33. "I don't care if Ashleigh has hers pierced, you are thirteen years old and you are not Ashleigh!"
34. "No, I don't have any sisters named Faith or Charity," Hope sighed after introducing herself, just like she always did.
35. The last of the sun's gold was dripping over the very tops of the trees, and the birds were reaching the noisy climax of their bedtime song when his car pulled into the drive, dust flying up to settle over the shiny black paint as he roared toward the house.
36. To this day, I have that strip of four pictures from the photo booth, both of us black and white and smiling, laughing, making faces, tucked into the back pocket of my wallet.
37. "You shouldn't have," she said breathlessly, staring down at the box, but then her shoulders tensed and her jaw tightened, and she said it again: "No, you really shouldn't have."
38. "Look, we either have to get rid of the dog or the baby," she said, hands on her hips, "and only one of them rode around in my stomach for nine months. Guess which one's leaving."
39. It wasn't that she didn't like the surprise party, but the shouting had startled her and she just started crying; now she couldn't stop, even though a dozen people were patting her back, asking her what was wrong, offering her cake, napkins instead of tissues, and telling her they didn't mean to upset her.
40. "You never have?" Tristan asked, his eyes wide, mouth hanging open. "Never ever ever?"
41. I didn't mean to break it, but they wouldn't see it that way; I would have to hide it away in the back of the closet until I could figure out what to do.
42. "What?" Kate asked. "It's not like we haven't shared other bodily fluids before. Sharing gum's not that bad, so chill."
43. The first two rocks, pebbles, really, from beneath the rose bushes, bounced off her window, but the third one smashed right through it. The boy paled, froze for a second, then ran away as fast as he could go.
44. "We must do this again!" Bunny Sanders trilled as she climbed into her car, and thankfully didn't see me as I rolled my eyes and muttered, "Over my dead body."
45. You'd think it wouldn't hurt to land on snow--all soft and white and powdery--but when you fall from that far up, going that fast, well.... it felt like falling on concrete.
46. "All right, fine," my wife snapped, shoving the sunblock back into her purse, "when you have skin cancer at thirty don't say I didn't warn you."
47. Until I was twelve years old, I thought "sugar," when shouted through clenched teeth, was actually a curse word.
48. "I hate you now," he said in a low, toneless voice, then went off humming "The Song That Never Ends." My revenge was complete.
49. "Get in the car or we're going to be late for church!" my mom screamed, shooing us toward the front door, her high heels clacking on the linoleum; the irony was not lost on me even at thirteen.
50. When I was four, there was apparently a pink frilly dress, of cheap cotton/polyester with big pearlized buttons, that I literally never took off except for my nightly bath.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

The Golden Rule

So many people don't take it to heart. "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." If you wouldn't like to hear something about yourself, don't say it to someone else. If you wouldn't like something done to you, don't do it! But it seems this is impossible for some people to put into practice.

I've worked in retail since I was 18, and I could sure tell you some stories. People who want you to drop everything and focus on nothing but them, yet whatever you do is still not good enough. People who think that you're out to get them, personally, and cannot accept that when you say something is against policy or that the computer won't allow you to do that, you're not lying just to piss them off. And it's not just retail, either. A friend who works as a bank teller regularly hears from irate customers with empty bank accounts that she's been stealing their money and going shopping with it, and that's why they're broke.

I'm sure we've all had experiences like that, in or out of work. And then we spend the next two days telling anyone who will listen about the woman wouldn't say a civil word to you, but was extremely polite to your manager when you called her over, or the guy who screamed at you in the Wal-Mart parking lot because he almost ran into you! I think it's just human nature to repeat stories in order to remember them, internalize them, and receive feedback and validation for your feelings about the events. Sometimes you just need to hear, "Man, that sucks!" or "I'm so sorry, what a jerk!"

I don't know why people seem to have so little regard for others. Maybe, sometimes, that rude person is just having a bad day and feels sorry later for snapping at you. Maybe they just had a fight with their husband or daughter and took it out on you, and the rest of the time they're perfectly pleasant. Or maybe their parents just didn't teach them manners, and they inflict themselves upon everyone in such a way.

Which is still not an excuse. None of it, not having a bad day or a fight or a lack of good influences as a child, excuses rude behaviour. I think if everyone just thought "How would I feel if this happened to me?" before they said or did anything, and then applied that thought before they spoke or acted, there would be a lot less hurt feelings, anger, frustration, and sadness in the world. If I'm not careful, a run-in with a rude driver or an angry customer can ruin my whole day, even though I know , logically, that I'll never see them again or have to deal with them. And I don't think it's fair to do that to another human being, no matter your circumstances.

I know I'm not perfect either. I might be snippy to a customer service person if I think they're being condescending, or honk my horn when the guy ahead of me doesn't notice the light has changed. But especially after working in retail/service (and I'm sure everyone who has feels this way, too) I try to be considerate. Just because someone is in a position to serve/help me doesn't mean I should take advantage of them. I just wish everyone felt this way.

Now spill. I know you have some story you're dying to share!

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Private Matters

There are some things you just don't talk about, right? But everyone has different standards for what those are. A friend of mine has a bad reaction to gluten, and before she figured this out, she had very bad stomach problems. While I feel very sorry for her and know that's not fun in the least, I also don't really want to hear about it. But it seems to be no big deal to her to say that she can't eat dessert until she gets rid of "a big gas bubble" or talk about how long she spent on the toilet, and why. TMI!

But to her, it's not a TMI. It's just sharing information, sharing something about her life. Every person, every family, has their own idea of what's private and what's okay to share. My aunt and her family talk openly about the passing of gas, and use the proper, medical names for "private parts"; she's a nurse, so this is no big deal to her, and therefore to her kids. But when my little cousin would come in and says "My penis hurts," it was weird. Little boys, I think, should say "pee-pee." My sister-in-law and her family say "hoo-hoo" for girl-parts, and while I think that's a little silly, it's what they do.

And then there's me. I didn't even say "vagina" in the above paragraph because that's not something I do. I said "girl-parts" and left it at that. If I'm having unpleasantness in my lower areas, I say I'm having "stomach problems," not "gas" or "diarrhea."

So I suppose I've just got to accept hearing about a certain friend's toilet issues (a different one than the one previously mentioned in this post), and not let it bother me to hear my neice say "hoo-hoo" but my cousin say "penis." And the people who say "vagina" will have to endure me saying "girl-parts" instead, and "stomach problems" for the more unsavoury of toilet habits.

Anyone have a good story about inappropriate/appropriate vocabulary for things better left unsaid?

Thursday, July 03, 2008


I'm trying to out-blog Carrington for the month of July, so if you feel innundated with my posts, that's why. Whoever wins gets taken out for coffee by the other one. Carrington, dear, I realize you didn't agree to that per se because you never replied to my email with the "rules," but how can you refuse now that the challenge is up on the internet? :D

I'll be at my parents' house for the next couple of days. Tomorrow I'm going to be on the float for my mom's tea parlour and hopefully not get heatstroke. The parade's not til 6, but lineup's at 5 and who knows how long the parade will go. But hopefully I'll return with some pictures of my family and I being cute!

I guess you could say this about pretty much any holiday anymore, but Independence Day seems so commercialized and watered-down! No one, it seems, really thinks about its actual meaning. Maybe the kids in elementary school who get a whole lesson on the founding fathers and the Declaration of Independence and all, but to the rest of the country it's about parades, barbeques, fireworks, and maybe wearing a t-shirt with the American flag on it, if you're into that sort of thing. But maybe tomorrow when you're eating a hamburger or watching your kids play with sparklers, just give a moment of thought to all it took to get to where we are today. I'm not saying it's a perfect place, with the wars, the economy, the obesity, the consumerism, etc. As a country, it seems like we've gotten pretty off-track. But focus on the good: free speech, education opportunities, significantly lower poverty and hunger levels than much of the rest of the world... And appreciate what those men and women did a couple hundred years ago. Their bravery, their determination, their faith, and even their stubbornness.

"We will not go quietly into the night! We will not vanish without a fight! We're going to live on! We're going to survive! Today is our independence day!"

(Yeah, I had to go there. Give that movie another watch if you can, it's a classic.)

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Irrational Fears

Everyone has something they're afraid of. My husband is afraid of heights, and gets visibly nervous climbing up staircases where you can see down to the bottom. He knows he won't fall, can't possibly fall, but it still freaks him out. He even gets a little squeamish when we're watching a movie and the hero is, say, on the edge of a tall building or crossing a rickety rope bridge. I don't understand it, but that's how he feels.

Me? I'm afraid of moths. Yes, moths. No, they are not just like butterflies, don't try to tell me that. Butterflies are pretty and floaty and just sort of drift around being shiny. Moths are flappy and fluttery, they run into walls, windows, light bulbs, and people. Their yucky grey wings are powdery and gross. And those great big ones, with the fuzzy antennae? *Shudder*

The little millers don't bother me too much anymore, as long as I don't think about them. But if there's ever a real moth around, I freeze, close my eyes, and hold my breath... like that's going to help, or something. I know it's totally stupid. That's why I titled this post "Irrational Fears." I know a moth cannot hurt me. They pose no threat whatsoever. But the thought of one bumping into me as it bumbles around searching for a light source just creeps me the heck out. I'll continue to hold my breath and squint my eyes as I hurry away, or struggle to get my key into the lock and get inside, away from it.

I don't really like spiders, but I don't freak out if I see one. I'll beg my husband to kill it, and if he doesn't (the big baby!) I'll get a shoe and smoosh it. I really don't like cockroaches, and I will insist upon the husband killing those. But I just get ridiculous when it comes to moths.

But if you think that's weird, look at this irrational fear.

((Little update on the organization project: I spent most of my lunch break yesterday making a list of cards to put in the "to do" pocket. I also realized that some things need to be done daily (fix dinner, make bed, etc.... yes, I do need to be that specific and micro-managerial at this point) and some need to be weekly (dust living room, sweep kitchen, etc.). I really think this will work if I can make myself stick to it. Hopefully tonight I'll get the cards written out, and then over the next day or so I'll devise some sort of cute pocket thing to hang on the wall.))