Friday, December 30, 2011

Best of Knitty 2011

One more post for today.

I just saw this post from Knitty in my feed. I wanted to tuck it here in the blog so I can go back and look at a couple of these patterns later. Later as in when I pick up knitting needles again. Someday...

Some teaser pics:




Go alone?

I was out with a group of ladies last night for dear friend D's "21st" (again) birthday. At the second place we went to, a restaurant, the server asked to see everyone's IDs. Pause. I looked at him, with a look that I thought would simply convey that I was more than twice that age, and he said something like, "Whoa! No, you're OK. I don't need to see yours!" As though I shot him a withering look. He was trying to save time by just asking for everyone's ID, I guess.

Anyway, I was with a bunch of teachers, who, not surprisingly, like to travel in their off time. I asked them this question. "If you had the resources, but no one to travel with, would you still go abroad alone?" The overwhelming answer was "Of course!" and I thought that was interesting. I don't know where all of them are in terms of relationship status, but a couple are married, and one has a boyfriend.

My answer would have been "maybe". I'm still at a point where I don't want to do that kind of thing by myself. I spend enough time by myself. But it got me thinking that there very well could come a time when the desire (and resources) are such that the desire to do it will override my hesitation to do it alone, and I will make a trip by myself. Something on the level of going to Europe for a couple of weeks.

But yesterday I did do something that tells me I'm not totally chicken when it comes to travel. I'm going to San Francisco to give a talk at our collaborators' state mosquito conference. I don't have to be anywhere until Monday evening, so at first I picked flights that would get me there at 1 pm. Then I thought about how I was able to easily take the train from JFK airport to where I needed to go in NY, and thought there must be somewhere interesting to go that's accessible by public transportation.

Sure enough, the California Academy of Sciences is an easy train and bus ride from the airport. The hotel is really close to the airport, so I'll ditch my luggage at the hotel if I can't check into my room right away, and then hop a train down to Golden Gate Park, which houses the Conservatory of Flowers. I visited a friend in SF years ago and went to these sites. At the time (October?) they had one of the most - no, it was THE most - spectacular displays of Dahlias I have ever seen. It motivated me to grow them myself.

So I changed my flight choice to arriving at 10 am. I'll then have several hours to explore before meeting up with our collaborators for dinner. See? A wee bit adventurous after all.

Now, I've got my fingers crossed that the new lab stuff I'm trying on their project works out well so I've got good results to show at the end of January.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

The what?

It's not a surprise to anyone who reads this blog (I think) that after Christmas, sometimes maybe even the day after Christmas, some folks' thoughts turn to thoughts of The Garden. That is, what they are going to be planting in next year's garden.

My garden wasn't a disaster last year, but I was left unsatisfied, because I overplanted.  It was so crowded in that little space, it was hard to see what was ripe. I've told several people to please metaphorically dope-slap me if I even murmur anything about growing more than one tomato plant. Why? I don't actually eat many slicing tomatoes. There you go. The little grape ones? Yummy. I can justify one of those.

I thought last year that I could grow enough paste tomatoes to do a run of sauce, but that has really underscored the reality about my two raised beds: they don't provide enough space to grow enough food that comes ripe AT THE SAME TIME to preserve it.

I was bailed out on the tomato thing by receiving a box of paste tomatoes in lieu of eggs last year and it all worked out. But this has made me think I need to change it up for 2012.

I'm going to grow with the intention of more or less immediately eating what it produces. Lettuce, that one tomato plant, cantaloupe (because I'm an optimist), some herbs, zucchini, a couple of other things.

I haven't given up on preserving food. It's still a practice that I want to know how to do. I think the local food movement, sustainability, and food issues in general are really important. I've been struggling with how to put my feelings about these issues into practice, and still haven't gotten very far.

But, I can support the local farmers market more, especially when I want to put up food. And I of course love the idea of CSAs. I'll look again to see how much food there is per week, but it's always felt to me like some things would go to waste with just me and Mr W here half the time, even with a single person's share.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

I'm blaming it on the dog

Like a lot of people I sometimes have trouble staying asleep. I don't have much trouble falling asleep unless I've miscalculated my caffeine consumption that day, and I'm thankful for that. My problem is waking up at 2 (or 3 or 4) and not being able to get back to sleep. Stress is usually the cause, but before I left for my trip I was sleeping pretty darn good for several days.

Since I got back home from OH on Saturday, my sleep's been so-so. I guess that I am getting enough because I haven't gotten a cold (yet). I sat next to a hacker/wheezer/sniffler on the plane ride back, and my niece was coughing as well (with much better technique, coughing into her elbow, btw), so I thought I might pick up something. I don't feel like I'm getting sick, but I don't have that "man, I got a good night's sleep last night!" feeling.

Nothing's wrong, nothing's amiss.

Thus, I blame it on the dog.

Miss Sally spent two days in the kennel that she has been do many times in her 5 years on the planet. The twist in this stay was that my friend B from the dog park picked her up. Sal's done this before, too. B has a nice dog and she and Sally get along just fine. When they play, it has high entertainment value. And B, being the good dog owner that she is (and she lives within walking distance of the dog park) took her dog and Sal over to the dog park and left them with the other folks in our little group that goes at the same time each day. Apparently this was the last straw for Sally, as she apparently bayed like a hound when B had to leave to give a music lesson. It all worked out, and I'm grateful to the dog park folks for taking good care of Sally, even if she was a bit flummoxed by the arrangement.

I think it is this flummox-ment that has caused her to be restless the last few nights, and that's been waking me up. I've got a small house. Sal sleeps in the living room, and I sleep in my room, which is right next to it. So every time she got up and shook those tags, I woke up. There's a spot on the floor (probably right on the other side of my bedroom door) that has a squeak (it's an old house) that wakes me up. I finally got smart and took her collar off last night, but she was still milling about during the night. I'm hoping this is a temporary thing, as I've got no where else I'd like for her to sleep. I think I'd lose a lot more sleep if she was in my room (I don't think she'd stay on the floor). Maybe ear plugs...

In other news, I gave away three bracelets while I was traveling, one to my BIL's (my sister's husband) new girlfriend, who lamented that she needed a gift, and the person would love something like my bracelet (we were talking about me making them at the time, so it didn't seem like a cheap play to get a gift on her part!). I took off the bracelet and gave it to her. One bracelet in circulation in OH. I gave one to my SIL who with my older brother was headed out to CA and she gave one as a gift to a person that liked it and wanted to see more of them. One bracelet in circulation in an upscale part of CA. The last went home with my SIL from Charleston, and so will be seen in South Carolina. She's a jewelry maker herself, and gave me great feedback, and a simple way to make my clay medallions into earrings (clever!).


Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The new guy

This is a post about work, not dating. :-)

Our lab is kind of small, although I've got a nice amount of space to work in that is mine alone. When I first started, there were four of us sharing a very small space. So small we had to schedule around each other just to have a flat surface to prepare and run our samples. My boss supervises other PI's (that's Principal Investigator) and each of them have one or two people working in the lab, with similar amounts of personal work space.

One of these PI's has had a new technician start recently. I suppose he's gone through college. I'm not sure he's worked in a lab before. An important aspect of working in shared space is to put your stuff away. Now some of this, I'm pretty sure, is the nature of his supervisor, who is even more hands-off than mine in terms of management style. Still, I think I'll have to talk to him about lab etiquette. Soon.

I worked yesterday (which was the government holiday) so that I could take Friday off and keep Mr W to a minimum of day care over his school break. I enter the lab and the lab computer is locked up because he didn't exit and log off properly. Fine, that happens (although it's more likely to happen when one is trying to get out of there in a hurry. I know how that goes, too). His lab notebook was left on top of the calendar we use to sign up for time on some equipment. He's left his bottle of ethanol by the sink. He's left the ice scoop inside the ice machine (so it gets covered by the new ice being made and makes the next user have to dig around in the ice to get the scoop). The tissue grinder I use to grind up mosquitoes before extracting DNA is somehow moved out of the hood where it's been for a year, onto another tech's bench.

I feel like hanging one of those signs that says, "Your mother doesn't work here. You'll have to clean up after yourself"

It's funny how much this has irked me. I guess it's because I try hard to take care of that shared space and put things away. The way I look at it, if I keep my area neat, and keep track of my stuff, it reduces the amount of uncertainty in a process where your samples may or may not turn out how you want. It's so clear to me that one would want to be systematic about doing lab work, and he doesn't have that perspective yet.

So, we'll see how this goes. I'm not one to stew about this kind of thing silently, especially when it makes more work for me to put his stuff away.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas 2011

Well, the dust has settled and we're back in CO after a really nice trip to Ohio. The travel this time was as painless as it could possibly be. We were delayed by about 25 minutes when we left, but other than that, everything ran as scheduled. My brother and SIL had the anxiety-provoking experience of the TSA security people finding an unclaimed bag, right before they were to go through the checkpoint, which forced the checkpoint to close down and everyone to go to another checkpoint. The door was closing when they made it to the gate, but they made it.

It was so nice to see everyone. We ate good food, drank a lot of wine and stayed up way past our bedtimes. But for a few days, it was heaven. I don't see these people enough, and I'm going to try hard to get us together this summer. Maybe we'll rent a house or something.


Here are me and my dear sisters-in-law. I thought it would be weird to be in my sister's house without her there, and it was, but it was also OK. It felt like she wasn't forgotten, but that time had passed and this was the new reality. Hard to explain, but it felt alright. My brother-in-law is dating someone and I am happy for that, they seem like a good match. My sister is missed, but I kind of felt her there.


Here are the kiddos. My sister's boys are in college now, and doing well. That's Mr W in the gold shirt, and my brother's girls. I was very impressed how the younger kids were able to occupy themselves while the adults hung out. I remember the days when we could only get a sentence or two in before someone needed a refill, snack, diaper change or boo-boo kiss.


We rode the light rail to downtown Cleveland, walked around a bit and had lunch. This is the West Side Market, which was largely closed that day. We had hoped to go to a brewpub/restaurant in the area, but they had a very long wait, so we ate at a little diner.


The shark shirts were a hit! All the boys thought they were a little goofy, but were good sports about it.


Here's my dad with my sister's older boy, Pat. We celebrated my dad's 77th birthday when we were home, and I hope I'm in as good of shape when I get to be 77.

Mr W and I rolled into town around 8:30 and his dad wanted to have their Christmas on Christmas eve, so I dropped him off. He still finds his new step-brother to be mostly a pain in the neck, and it sounds like the kid is having some difficulty adjusting to his life changes (which are significant - mom gets married, kid has to move and start a new school). I'm going to talk to his dad again and get his perspective on things.

After I dropped off Mr W, I picked up Sally, who did some time at the kennel and then was picked up by a friend from the dog park to stay with her and her dog for a couple of days. Apparently getting picked up by Beth was a little confusing to my dear dog, but it worked out. I'm thankful to have Sal around, as the house is pretty quiet with just me here. She of course is sleeping on my bed.

I thought I'd make some cookies to share with dog park folks later, work on some bracelet stuff, unpack, etc. today. A low key day.

I hope you get to celebrate this day exactly how you want to.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

The lead-up

Preparations for our big trip to Ohio are underway here at casa LindaCO. Yesterday was one of those sneaky sorts of days where it seemed there were just a couple of things to do, and then it got really busy and I was a half hour late to two things I wanted to do. I'm thankful that the people I dealt with had more perspective than I and were OK with it. I was reminded once to breathe.

Today is less regimented, but we've got several things to attend to so that we can have a smooth evening tomorrow night and just pack and get a good night's rest. I have to admit, I'm a little leery of traveling around the holidays, because of our, ahem, adventure last year. But we have direct flights at reasonable times of the day, and that's all I can do, you know? We'll have all of our stuff in carry-ons, including the new computer his dad and I have bought for Mr W. Don't ask me how I'm going to get it through security without him realizing it. I might just have to smile and say, "none of your beeswax, pal" and leave it at that.

He is very excited to go to OH and see the cousins and family. Me too. It's been a while since we were all together. Last year, I had to mention that it was time for Mr W to get a little something for the important people in his life. It didn't have to cost anything, but he needed to make a gesture, as that was what Christmas is about. So this past Friday, a full 12 days before Christmas, I pick him up from school and he says proudly, "Look what I got you for Christmas, mom!" Right then and there at school. It was one of those moments when the right thing to do was to stop and look at the items, not say, "No! I don't want to see it until Christmas". It was very sweet. And useful, too. I got a stirring spoon with a smiley face on it that I will have for years and always think of him - a perfect gift.

We have it good.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Human nature?

I spend a fair bit of time by myself. At work, there are other people that work in the same lab, and it's nice to chat with them, but by and large, I feel like I can go for hours with only my own company. And I'm not complaining, it's how the job is set up and it's fine.

When Mr W's not here, I'm also on my own. I feel like I've filled my time adequately these past few months, with banjo lessons, and the nascent bracelet business. I feel like I've channeled my mental energy away from online dating into creative pursuits and it is a lot more satisfying. A lot.

After going a bit overboard with the Meet Up groups, I'm happy with the amount of stuff I'm doing with those groups. I've figured out what I already  knew in one regard: I'm not a go-out-to-a-bar-and-dance-with-strangers kind of gal. I'm not judging that kind of recreation, it's just not my thing. There's a song by David and David called "Swallowed by the Cracks" with a line that goes, "We just drive around in circles, getting nowhere all night long. Getting drunk with strangers, telling lies and singing along with the jukebox." And that sort of sums up how I feel about the bar thing.

But there are good events with other groups and now I know more of what suits me, so that's good. I went to a book club and I want to continue with that one for sure.

Anyway, things are good. I feel like work is going along well. I've got a couple of ideas that I'm trying out, with the blessing of my boss, and we'll see how those pan out. My life outside of work is satisfying, too. Still looking for a good stable relationship, but am convinced that it will come when it comes and in the meantime, I'm trying to get on with things.

So, is it human nature to think that once I feel satisfied with how things are  going, something bad is going to happen? I'm listening to "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks" and it makes me wonder about getting cancer, and dying young. If it's not that, then I worry about my kid. Occasionally, the inevitable uncertainty over whether my job will get renewed rises up. I think it's a byproduct of the amount of time I spend with my own thoughts, and I always eventually beat back those thoughts (at the very least relegated to the bin of "I'm doing my best here, so that's all I can do"), so I regain an equilibrium. But it's odd to me to think that something bad with happen once I've got my life more or less how I want it. As though the converse is somehow true: that if I'm not happy with some aspect of it, that's enough to keep major bad stuff from happening? I don't really believe that.

Ha! Maybe it's holiday stress. I don't have much, but there are a bunch of details to attend to before Mr W and I fly to Ohio this coming Tuesday.

OK, thanks for letting me vent. Here's a fun holiday video that made me smile.


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Routine

I appreciate my routines most of the time. Things run more smoothly in the morning, for example, when we do things the same way most of the time. But I try not to be rigid about it. When I get to work, there are people who park in the same spot every day. That kind of adherence makes me wary, and I deliberately don't park in the same spot every day. Yes, sometimes I have to look for my car, but for some reason, that level of doing it the same way every day doesn't appeal.

I've had two thing happen recently, though, that make me see I still like things to run a certain way. There is a major remodeling project at work, where they are putting offices into spaces on our first and second floors. Thus they have closed off the lobby, and restricted stair access that goes near those floors. This has left it so we have to come in through the emergency exit on the first floor, take the stairs to the basement and take the elevator to the 4th floor to where our desks are. To get to my lab, I have to take the elevator instead of the stairs.

It's not a big deal in the larger scheme of things, but the first couple of days last week I was grumbling quite a bit to myself about having to go the long way around to get to where I wanted to go. Yesterday, one of the two elevators broke down, so it took even longer to get things from the stock room in the basement, drop those off at my second floor lab and then take samples up to the fourth floor for sequencing. I sort of wish it was the other way, where I was forced to take the stairs more, not less. The project is supposed to take five months, and then we'll all be in the same building, which will be good.

The other hit to the routine was that we had a substitute teacher for our Spin class yesterday. I know, this sounds so trivial, and it is. This other teacher was one of those that talked almost the whole time: posture, get some water, smile, feel it in your quads, shoulders down, c'mon you're worth it, etc. At one point she said, if I heard her correctly, that it wasn't supposed to be fun, we were working here. I worked plenty hard, but at the same time found myself not liking her very much and thinking that if she were the teacher all the time, I probably would not have stuck with this for the last year. That was an interesting thought. There is a kind of synergy among our regular teacher and other people who do this Spin class that makes it a nice mix of social and physical.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

This and that Saturday

The plan is to get out of the house soon, so that I can do my best to beat the inevitable crowds of holiday shoppers that will be where I'm shopping today. Included on my to-do list today are the following:

1. Buy new banjo strings
2. Do some miscellaneous bracelet stuff
3. Set up Mr W's new netbook that he'll get for Christmas (can I tell you how nice it will be to get my computer back?)
4. Make spaghetti
5. Catch up on laundry
6. Get the rest of the Christmas lights up

That's about it. I need to replace all the jump rings of the first set of bracelets because one of them (that I made myself) gave way on a piece I was wearing. Wouldn't that be awful? Sell bracelets that come apart after a few times of wearing them? Ick.

I've been bidding on some old cufflinks on Ebay and have been outbid at literally the last minute on stuff that would be really nice to have on the bracelets. Maybe that's going to be a future effort, as they're kind of expensive. I need to figure out just how much I'm willing to spend per piece. For example, this morning, these lovely cufflinks  were listed, and I bid up to $8.00 for them. In the last 30 seconds, when my bid was still at $1.29, someone swooped in and outbid me by $.50. No time to up my bid, which I suppose was just as well. Is $2.00 in the ball park of what I want to spend per "charm"? I think so.

I think my Christmas shopping is done. I'll pick up one more gift card, but I can do that at the grocery store. It's exactly what this person will want, so that's an easy one.

I'd better get going. Hope you all have a good Saturday!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

More boring bracelet stuff




Well, I haven't sold any bracelets, but I've made several improvements in the second round of them. The top one has all the tweaks. First, I'm coordinating the colors of the clay medallions and placing them closer together. You can see the original clasp that comes with the bracelet blank in the bottom bracelet. It's a fold over clasp and it's fine, but it makes the bracelet a little tight on my wrist, and a friend told me that it can catch on things.

I bought a bunch of different toggle clasps, and, not surprisingly, the ones I like the most are the most expensive ($1.80 per). But they are totally in the spirit of the piece, as both ends have little stopwatch tops, so they look clock-ish. They make the bracelet longer, too, and I think the length is good. I'll put the more expensive toggle on the rest of the ones I make. I can attach them with split rings (like a tiny key ring), which makes them more durable than using jump rings. The bracelet I work while on my work trip last week came apart at one of my homemade jump rings after I had worn it for a couple of days, and I can't have that.

I'm enjoying the details of the process, if that's not abundantly clear. I'm still playing the banjo and enjoying that a lot too, although I confess I've forgotten to practice a couple of times because I've been thinking about the bracelets. And I'm knitting a tiny bit. I hauled my Lanesplitter skirt (about 2/3 done) with me on my trip - what a pain - and only got about three inches done on it. It's officially a slog, but I'll like it when it's finished, hopefully this winter yet :-)

I was puttering about eBay and discovered another source of bits for the bracelets, snap cuff links. Below is a picture from a listing that I'm watching and might bid on. They are PERFECT in size. I need to figure out how to cut them so they have a flat bottom (might need to fill them with something - suggestions?). I asked my ex and got the ancient (circa 1995) Dremel tool we had, but the charger is missing. I went to Home Depot and they don't sell chargers for stuff that old (what was I thinking? I don't know), but the cute and helpful clerk said I could use the Dremel attachments in my regular drill. I'll look into this, and would prefer to do it in a way that doesn't result in me going to the ER. I'll have to buy a vise.

Anyway, aren't those snap links neat? It's got me thinking about the evolution of men's jewelry. There is a seemingly inexhaustible supply of men's cufflinks on eBay. Does anyone wear cuff links anymore? It seems at one time, men would have a collection of cufflinks. And these are economical - 4 charms per set of snap cufflinks.



This was supposed to be a short post and I have rambled. 

I did finally comment on some very nice comments that have been left about the bracelets. I apologize for not acknowledging them sooner, I appreciate the feedback very much.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Accumulation


Here's this year's version of the my Christmas tree. It was part of a busy day yesterday where I got some stuff cooked to freeze and we rearranged Mr W's room. When I bought this house, 6 years ago, I had the back porch bumped out 4' to make a small room for him. It's 8 x 8, and I'm pleased (relieved) that we were able to move stuff around in such a small space.

Six years! Now I will tell you a tale of woe and subsequent adjustment. When I was married, our Christmas tree was covered with homemade ornaments from my ex's aunt. So when it was time to set up my own tree, I started from scratch. So I went to (where else) Target and bought a bucket of those satin string colored balls, and a bunch of plastic snowflakes. Add a couple of things Mr W made at school and there were the ornaments for the tree. It bugged me at the time, and seemed to be some kind of symbol of what I had lost after getting divorced.

But as time has gone on, and I've perused the after-Christmas sales for quirky ornaments, and have received some ornaments as gifts, I'm good. The one I got from the estate sale across the street, with the red dot, fits right in. I've got a few more ornaments than I put on the tree, and there's just a few plastic snowflakes and satin balls on there now. The tree, bought 3-4 years ago at the Goodwill store, goes up in a flash, I've got the right amount of lights, and the process now gives me satisfaction instead of being a reminder of something lost. As it should be.

In a Christmas ornament related train of thought, we'll be celebrating Christmas at my sister's family's house this year. If you're not familiar with the story, my sister died in 2008 at age 45 of stage 4 colon cancer that was simply detected too late. You can look at the label "Sister Kris" if you want to read more about that. She wasn't a nun, just one of several people of that name we were keeping track of.

Anyway, after my mom died, Kris got all our family ornaments. Now that Kris is gone, they're part of her family's traditions. Still, I'm hoping I can talk to my BIL and see if he'd be OK with me taking a couple. There's on in particular that hung on my mom's family's tree when she was growing up. Not much to look at, but so very sentimental. And along those same lines, my dad called me the other day, and said he's moving to Florida. My initial reaction was "'bout time!" since he's talked about it for years. But he's a little nervous about getting everything either packed up or sold off, naturally. He mentioned that he'd be bringing over some of my mom's old little statues and figurines that he kept but is ready to part with. We'll see how that goes.

My initial plan was to have us just use carry-ons. Hmm. Still undecided. Anyway, it looks like there will be some shuffling of family objects. It's all good.

Finally, here's something I thought my nephews (20 and 22) might like? Maybe...


Friday, December 2, 2011

Barely keeping up

I seem to add more and more interesting blogs to my reader. If I don't have time, I mark it to read later and try to get back to it to read it or let it go (a good skill to have, I'm finding). Of course, the new entries just keep coming. So I've decided to dump some links here in the blog to have a record for myself as much as anyone of stuff that I have found interesting and did get back to, or want to get back to.

Study on weight loss and aging (a life well-lived seems to matter)

Person joins a new bartering club

Latest Carl Zimmer post, on viruses

Geeky Christmas gifts

Geeky Christmas gift books for kids

Art from coffee lids and stirrers. I got to this, but it's worth sharing.

Ravens seem to communicate with gestures - a non-birdy thing to do

20 things you may not know about the periodic table

Science books for grownups

TED interview for this talk. A la "Dance your PhD"

Argentine ants. This blog has amazing photography.

Kids' interests are their own

Amazing study on how moss acts as old growth forest in recording environmental events

TED interview with Adam Savage (Mythbuster) on inspiring kids with science

Geeky games (more Christmas stuff)

Phew!


Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Back East

I got most of it just right. I dropped off the dog, went to my usual parking lot at the Denver Airport, hopped the free shuttle and got off at the terminal, went through security with no problems, got something to eat for the plane, boarded an on-time flight to JFK, got my bag (which they gate checked for free because nowadays, everyone carries their luggage on board, it seems), took the train to Jamaica Station, NY, switched trains to take a train to Syosset, and was supposed to get the free shuttle provided by the lab I'm attending this training at.

Phew. I never saw the shuttle. Well, scratch that. I think I saw the shuttle leave, after waiting for 40 minutes. So I got a taxi. Best $9 I've spent on this trip so far. If you've ever been daunted by the prospect of traveling around NYC, I'd like to assure you that they've got the visitor thing down pat. It is easy, and when I even sorta kinda looked like I might have a question, someone came up to me and asked if I had a question. Now that I think about it, it was probably pretty obvious that I was from out of town. Still, though, I wouldn't hesitate to go to NYC on account of not knowing my way around.

But I'm on the north shore of Long Island, and I'm here to tell you there are a lot of big fancy houses in this area. You might take away the impression that there's lots of rich people, but it seems a lot of the 1% lives around here.

What a nice place, though. The site of my training is a non-profit research facility where people live and work. It's got a nerdy sort of feel to it and I confess I feel right at home. Maybe even a little on the hip side. I guess it's all relative. The original information said that the lodging was dorm style, two to a room, I thought. So I assumed (with a sigh) that I'd have to share a room with a stranger. Turns out, they have single-person rooms that share a bathroom. And I don't think there's anyone in the other room even. So no complaints on the housing. 

Oh, more nerdery. Outside the dorm I'm staying in is a large sculpture about protein transcription, shown below. The finished protein is to the left of the tree. I love this kind of stuff. 



Later

Well, I started this post over breakfast, and it's now the end of a long day. The training is on how to use the many (many, many, I have found out) online tools to examine DNA sequence data and sequenced genomes. I'm thankful for the binder of info they've given us, as it will take some time to digest. It's only 7:30 pm my time, but I'm going to turn in soon. Funny how that works. 

I wish (not surprisingly) that I had planned to stay tomorrow night instead of heading back home after the day's activities were done. Now that I think about it, I could have brought my stuff with me into the city and visited the natural history museum or the Met, as I think people call the art museum. I think they have lockers for travelers. I didn't want to incur the expense - well, have my boss incur the expense. So, long day, but I gain two hours going east to west. 

Saturday, November 26, 2011

And now, I wait


I got the first 10 bracelets finished, photographed and up on Etsy just now. You can see them at this link. Holy moly, it was a lot of work!! And on a scale of 1-10, I think the photos are about 6 or 7, I need to get larger pieces of background paper or fabric, although I did find a stash of old bottles that I like the look of. 


I spent a couple of hours this morning figuring out the little rings of metal, called jump rings, that can give some extra length to the piece, and also are used to attach things like the toggle clasps. I had bought a bunch of jump rings and with the two beading pliers I had, if I wasn't flipping the ring across the room, it was so mangled at the end that it was unusable. 


So I did what people do these days when faced with a conundrum - I went to Youtube. And there, I saw a video of a woman making her own jump rings from a length of wire. A-ha. (Alison, I did read your comment - sorry I never replied. I did get wire working books from the library and they were helpful.) The woman on the Youtube video had this nifty little pair of pliers that you could put an open jump ring in and when you closed it, the ring would close. So I went out to the bead stores in search of this wonderful tool.


And no one had one. I tried four stores. But I got some suitable wire to make my own rings, a pair of flush cutters and got a proper second pair of pliers for manipulating jump rings. I didn't need the special pliers. As is true in so many aspects of life, having the right tools made all the difference. I wound the wire around a knitting needle and then cut one ring at a time of the resulting coil, so that I had one turn of the wire with each cut. Then it was a simple thing to get stuff put on the rings, put them together and get on with things. 


After seeing the photography on Etsy in general, I decided my photos needed to be much brighter. These are a little washed out, but I'll get better at this as I go. 

What do you think? Any suggestions?


And for the rest of my evening, I'm going to take out the bind off from my Cadence sweater and add another 2-3" of ribbing, as it's just a bit too short. I thought I would take it on my work trip Monday. I'm flying to Long Island for some training. It's going to be a busy three days, so I'm enjoying just chilling at home today and tomorrow. 

Thursday, November 24, 2011

So Thankful

I posted the other day how Mr W and I were invited to my friend J's house for Thanksgiving, and how I was OK with laying low today, but happy we got invited. Well, we just got back, and I had a lovely time. 

OK, I also had a couple of glasses of wine, but hey, with all that food, it evens out, right?

Anyway, we part of a group of 14 or so, and J comes from a big family, so it was some of her sibs, her mom, and some nieces and nephews. The thing was, everyone got along. That sounds so simple, but it was clear that they were all pretty laid back and just wanted to eat and drink and hang out. Good conversation, and Mr W and I had a really nice time. Now I just need to stay up until bedtime so I don't go to sleep at 7 pm. Oh, and they play cards! So I might go back tomorrow night and play card with them - fun!

Happy Thanksgiving, all.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

One of those dreams

This morning, I was sleeping solidly when Mr W came in and announced he was up. I was dreaming, and it was one of those time when I could remember it. I was at a mall, and was sitting on a ledge about 12 feet up in the air. Just a ledge on the side of a building. In the mall. There was a person next to me, old and out of shape, and we both needed to get down. I knew that I had gotten up there myself, but it looked too far up to just leap over the side. I was contemplating turning over quickly so I could hang onto the ledge and drop down. The person next to me was gone, and I looked to my left, and started scootching along the ledge toward the end on the left.

When I got close enough to see, there was a chair at the end of the ledge and that made it easy to just swing my legs around and get off the ledge. I turned around, and the ledge actually sloped down from where I was to the end where the chair was. As though I didn't see the easy solution until after I thought about the hard way to do it.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thanksgiving Orphans

It sounds tragic, doesn't it? To be an orphan on Thanksgiving. Since I'm traveling next week for work, and flying to OH for a few days before Christmas, I figured I'd lay low for this one. I did ask Mr W, who will be having the traditional celebration over at his dad's the next day, what he wanted to do, and he didn't really have strong feelings for it. I was trying to gauge whether he had yearnings for traditional celebrations, but he didn't really have an opinion.

I suggested we have something that wasn't turkey, so maybe I could make spaghetti and meatballs for our celebration, and maybe we wouldn't get out of our pj's for the day. He thought that sounded good. I didn't feel like I was missing anything, really. When I was growing up, my family did put on the traditional feast. I never appreciated the finesse my mom showed in getting all that food on the table, warm, in the absence of a microwave. Kudos, ma.

I've been busy with this bracelet thing, so having a couple of days off to chill sounded appealing. I guess I'm saying that I could have found somewhere for us to go, but didn't really feel the need, since I'd see my family next month. I try not to attach too much meaning to not having firm thanksgiving plans each year. I'm hoping that once I settle down with someone, he and I will establish a new tradition.

But then a celebration found me. I was chatting with J from my Spin class. She and her husband are involved in the local music scene here, and I've gone to several of the shows they've been involved with. She scoffed (nicely) at my plans for spaghetti, and said I was invited to their house, which is conveniently within easy walking distance of mine. I accepted, and will bring a cherry pie, made from frozen pitted pie cherries I bought at a farmer's market this summer. Oops, I need to pull those out of the freezer!

So we have plans. And it's something of an extra-good, as opposed to pulling me up from bad to neutral, if that makes sense. I was OK doing what I had planned, but am grateful to be invited to a celebration.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Practice photos


Learned:
-Even a very pretty piece of glass doesn't cancel out a dirty gear. Will replace this with a non-rusty one.
-My gluing skills are getting better, but still not perfect. It's so stinky, although I've set up an area in my basement where I can open a window, and turn on a fan, so that's about as good as it's going to get unless I do it outside.

-I'm thankful that my friend's tips on photography made pretty good pictures. I like the lighting.


Saturday, November 19, 2011

Objects

A house across the street had an estate sale yesterday and today. It was packed!! Today was half-off day, so I went over after the line (yes, there was a LINE) subsided. How very cool to get a glimpse of these people's lives and be given a chance to honor it a bit. I didn't know the woman who passed, but she was quite the crafter. Her husband apparently was an architect and spent time in the Army in WWII. 


Here's a practice drawing the husband did. You can see his name at the bottom.


Funky chimes - a horse and a camel. The third part is missing, so it hangs funny, but I liked it.


A timely purchase, as Mr W has been studying his state capitals in preparation for a test coming up in December. This is a wheel to help learn the capitals (and other info), plus lists each state's "favorite Kellogg's cereal". Lots of Corn Flakes fans and apparently some All-Bran ones as well.


Isn't this pretty? It's a thread sampler from 1940 or thereabouts.


This might be my favorite find of the day. Vintage issues of the The Home Arts Magazine. The top issue is from March 1935 and it is of a woman behind the wheel of a car, and the driver behind her has to shout to get her attention because her level of knitting-induced bliss is so very high. Ha! Apparently law enforcement needed to be summoned as well. It seems I've seen this image before, have any of you?


This is a little glass ornament. Really light and delicate, and the metal bit at the top is dark and a bit rusted. I like the idea of re-homing this little piece to make it now part of our Christmas ornaments.

Must. Learn. New. Computer

If I can negotiate some time on it, that is. This new computer is in high demand when Mr W is around. No, I'm not a total pushover when it comes to screen time, but since we don't have cable, and I stopped the Netflix video deliveries, the computer is both TV and computer.

And this computer has a bunch of great features and does things that I have no idea of - I really need to do some of the online tutorials - need to make the time.

Mr W will likely get an inexpensive PC for Christmas. I can't wait. He'll still have to read for computer time at a rate of two minutes of play for each minute of reading, but it will be nice to have my computer when I want my computer.

I've modified my plans to involve him in this bracelet stuff. Taking apart old watches, while fun, is a little tricky, and it's kind of easy to stab yourself if you're not careful. Plus, I've found that I really enjoy it. Tinker, tinker. I received the lot of 100 watch movements and it's been fun to start to process those. And great that they've already had the case and crystal removed. Saves me a lot of effort.

Mr W's job, we are going to try this, is now to make the little cut-out clay pieces. He's good at processing the polymer clay through the pasta machine, and can stamp out and smooth the pieces. I told him I'd pay him 10 cents per finished piece. They have to be usable, or I'm not paying. Hopefully that will be incentive to do a good job.

I'm going to fiddle with taking some pictures of the bracelets this weekend. I friend gave me some pointers on taking well-lit photos, and I want to see what I can do there. I thought I'd offer free gift wrapping for people that wanted it, and also wanted to include a little tag on a string for the bracelets. Back when I worked for the rubber stamp company, we had a retail store that sold all sorts of wonderful card-making and scrapbooking items. As a result, I have a stock of card stock and cutters, and stamps, etc. and I think most of it can be parlayed into this project. Yea!!

Nice guys that might be potential partners? *sigh* Nope, haven't seen any, so I'm getting on with things instead.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Details

This bracelet thing is starting to take on a life of its own. I've set up an Etsy shop, although there's nothing listed yet because I have to make more pieces and then photograph them. It's called Physaria. I'm in the learning phase of how to present stuff, and thinking about what kind of feel I want to show through for my shop.

It's costing me a little bit of sleep because I've got ideas, but it's not like being stressed out about negative stuff. It's more like thinking about the details of a project.

But so far so good. I'm setting up, in addition to the Etsy shop, a blog that will be called Physaria Designs, so I'll sell through both.

I'm glad I have some space in the basement to work, because my dining room table is usually covered with works in progress. I need a better way to organize my supplies, too. Keeping each element in its own zip lock bag is OK, but I might need something with drawers to store things in. So I can see it all at once.

I bought a bunch (103) old watch movements on eBay - lord help me. These are just the movements, so someone's already taken the cases, crystals and bands off, saving me a bunch of time.

OK, this post is just ramblings from my less than organized thought process right now. Things are good.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

And now, a big dose of perspective

I went down to Denver yesterday to get some computer training at the official Apple store down there, and worked in a visit with my friend J, who I went to high school with. Good gravy, it was nuts at the mall where the store is. I was unprepared for the thick traffic and rude people who don't pull to the side to wait for someone to clear a spot, they just block the way while they wait. It happened twice there, once with a Range Rover and once with a Lexus SUV. Rude drivers make me crazy. Just sayin'.

There's another one of us from high school who lives in Denver, A, and A and J married brothers. I don't see A as much, but she's still an old friend. They both live in neighborhoods with old two-story houses on small lots. Over lunch, J told me the eye-popping story about how some folks bought the house next door to A with the intention of fixing it up. It's on a corner, so A and her family are the only neighbors. Before they started, the neighbors came over and told A and her husband about the work they had planned, and A took pictures of the 10' space between the houses, just in case, for insurance purposes.

I'm not sure of the exact sequence of events, but it involved the far side of the neighbor's house FALLING OFF after a hole was dug to do foundation work. Something like 9 tons of concrete were pumped into/around the foundation, to no avail. The front porch also fell off. Somewhere around this time, A's house was deemed too dangerous to occupy, although it has so far not been damaged. She and her family were ordered, on short notice, to leave their home until the house next door was torn down. This was three weeks ago.

It's been determined that the contractor is at fault, and they're, um, having trouble getting in contact with him. The city's building inspector said that he sees about 10 instances of this per year. Something goes wrong, and when they try to shore up the foundation, the place falls apart.

It's going to take $60K to knock the house down, and until then, it looks like A's family can't live in their house. They've retained a lawyer. Can you even imagine? "Please tear down this house, I can't live in mine until you do." "Sorry, we don't have the money. We're trying to get it from the contractor." I hope it gets resolved very soon.


Saturday, November 12, 2011

Another Saturday post

The last couple of days have had a couple of blast from the past moments.

I was looking for something in the no man's land that is my glove compartment and found a pay stub from 1996, when I worked for the City of Toledo. I'm proud to say that I now make over twice as much as I did then, but do recall that at the time, it felt like I was making a good wage. And I loved the job, working in outdoor education with people who valued science. I was thinking how they had a pension system, where if people put their 20 years in they'd get a pension for the rest of their lives, some percentage of their highest year(s) of salary. These days that sounds so strange to me, that a government could afford to do that.

Then, I got an email from B, a guy I dated for a few months last year. He lives in the neighborhood, and is a man of few words. The email simply had a subject line: "For Sale?"  in reference to me selling the van (which, btw, has not been sold). So we've traded a few one line emails, and might get together for lunch. He bought me lunch when it looked like I was going to lose my job, and I want to return the favor, as his hours at work have been cut way back and he's looking for a job.

Then, I went to the liquor store to buy my monthly box o' wine and the whole place smelled like cooking garlic - yum! I paid for my purchase and looked over to see that the person cooking was my old boss from the first job I had when I came to town. I did digital image editing for a company that made artsy rubber stamps. We chatted for a minute, but he had several things cooking, so I got a card from him and will get in touch soon. The last time I saw him was the summer I was getting divorced, and my world was upside down. It'll be nice to tell my "benevolent Jewish uncle" as I called him, how well things are going.

I'm driving to Denver today to get the files from my old computer transferred to the new one, so I need to get moving. Happy weekend, all!

More bracelet stuff


So here's the next three bracelets I've been working on. Not glued yet, so if something looks crooked, it will be fixed. Sorry for the blurriness - still getting new software issues worked out. I'm also still waiting on the nice little metal coils, which will go on the blank pads on these. Thanks to Alison for the suggestion that I can make them myself. Having to wait over a week (so far) for them motivates me to do that.

I like how the clay pieces turned out. I've discovered that almost anything mixed with gold polymer clay looks nice.

I like them so far. I look at these, though, and think that they need just a little more something. I don't know, there's actually a lot going on, but I like the idea of a little thing that catches your eye, whether you're wearing it or looking at it on someone else's wrist.

The solution? Dancing cats:

Or, equally likely, monkeys:

Both from the same shop on Etsy. Go figure.

I think one of these will add just that little bit of interest that I'm looking for. It's been hard to find such goofy little charms in the right size. Because of the small size of the pads, I might also explore bracelets with fewer, larger pads (eight, I think) to be able to use larger pieces. But I like the scale of my original design. It suits me, anyway.

Here's something else I've noticed. You search Etsy for bracelet, and there are over 400,000 hits. But if you search Etsy for "bracelet large wrist" there's only 300 or so. I'm an average sized person with larger than average wrists, as I mentioned in a previous post. Hmm. Perhaps this is a niche.





Thursday, November 10, 2011

Bracelet 1.1


So here is the first bracelet that I glued. The coils are not what I'll use, as I've bought some from someone on Etsy and they aren't here yet. But the rest is pretty much what I'm going for. 

Sadly, it's a little snug on my wrist, but it gives me the opportunity to take it to the local bead store, where they've got toggle clasps, and I'm hoping I can buy some of those and ask them to show me how to switch  them out.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Almost

My kitchen faucet had developed a slight leak. It would turn off all the way if I pushed a little extra when I was turning off the water, but eventually both sides needed this and it was time to change the washers.

Washers?! Ha!

You know how these things go. The first trip to the local hardware store (where they are always helpful) involved me showing them a picture of the little hole on the handle that I presumed needed some kind of little wrench. I left with an Allan wrench set, washers and o-rings.

After getting the handles off, I saw the stem. I turned and turned and nothing happened. I took more pictures, went back to the hardware store and got a set of locking pliers and got them out that way. They pulled straight out, as my bruised knuckle can attest. Did the hardware store have the right stem? No, but the guy did know it among the hundreds that are made, and I was impressed with that. He suggested Home Depot.

Did Home Depot have it? No, but someone there suggested I go to the plumbing supply store, which I left work early yesterday to go to. I was so impressed - I put the stem on the counter, and the woman said, "American Standard" and walked toward the back of the shop with me trailing behind. She got two off the shelf, and I think my whole visit took less than five minutes. The things cost a lot, but I considered it the cost of their expertise.

I was a little concerned if the new stems would fit, because I sort of dinged up the threads around them thinking I had to unscrew them. But I got each of them in, put the other pieces back together, cautiously turned the water supply back on, and they worked with no leaks. Success!

Almost. Instead of the faucet handles lining up with sink, they stick straight out and turn on by turning them toward the sink. I did something wrong, and might take them apart again and see if I can turn the stem, I might just have it like this for a while, or I might call the guy who installed my garbage disposer.

I'm OK with any of those; I'm glad I can use my sink. For some reason, though, this particular home repair has bugged me more than most, and underscored why I'm still bummed out about not having a partner. Now, before you think that I'd just turn the job over to him, my thoughts were that it would have been really helpful to have someone to just consult with about how to go about fixing the faucet. And, if he wanted to just freakin' do it, he'd have my blessing and I'd make him a nice dinner.

In the end, I do like living in my own house. At times like this I consider whether I'd rather be living in a condo with a maintenance department to fix things, and I always arrive at the same answer of no. I do have people I can call, so just need to do what I did, which is try to fix it, and then call in the professionals if I can't or think I'd damage the thing more than fix it.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Oh yeah, the camera


So I've managed to wrestle the new computer away from Mr W for a few minutes to try to import some photos from my camera. I am going to benefit a lot from the free training that Apple offers. I haven't figured out how to reduce the file size for photos, so these are probably larger than they need to be. Sorry about that. 

Above is a picture of one of my Serviceberry trees that split at the base and came to rest on my van in the snow storm of two weeks ago. As opposed to the next one after that. It's been weirdly snowy so far this season. But the temps are reasonable, so the stuff is melting well. It's also weird that these trees still have the majority of their leaves. As though they are really confused as to what to do next. The van was fine, btw. 


Here's my bracelet making workspace yesterday. I'm waiting on one more element, wire coils made from nicer wire, from a seller on Etsy, and I've got all I need. I have realized that I do enjoy the "hunt" as in finding these things in order to have what I need to assemble this first set of bracelets. 


I've realized I'm a fumbly gluer. Or else I need better tools to hold the pieces while I glue them. Probably the latter. But the above picture is a pre-glued version of what the first ones will likely look like. The polymer clay pieces are too thick, and I've redone them so they are thinner, and like that better. 

I'd also like to have a pop of color, and will look into changing up the color of the clay pieces (I like the metallic clays) or of the little beads I've attached to the coils. But this is the first prototype, and I like it so far. I like it also that it's sort of this evolving thing. 

Thursday, November 3, 2011

It's so quiet

I'm typing this from my brand spankin' new 13" Mac. D was right  - the 13 is plenty big and the picture quality is really nice. And it's not making any noise. The fan on the old computer was a bit of a wheezer.

I still have a lot to learn, but it's good to be on the internet again. I need to set up an appointment with the Mac people to transfer the old files to the new computer. It's funny, a 70 GB hard drive seemed pretty roomy 6 years ago when I bought the old computer.  This one came standard with a 500GB one.

I went to the Native Plant Society meeting tonight. Saw some folks I knew, listened to a good speaker and had a good time.

I received a bunch of old watches that I purchased on eBay. There is something satisfying about taking apart an old watch and seeing the gears inside.

Monday, October 31, 2011

how about a new computer?

The display on my computer went dark on Saturday. i ordered a Mac after talking with a couple of friends about it. The new one should be here by the end of the week. In the meantime, I won't be blogging much (I'm writing this on my phone).

Friday, October 28, 2011

The one that started it


This is the bracelet that I bought a couple of weeks ago that started my obsession interest in putting my own spin on making something similar. This morning, before I got out of bed, I checked my auctions on eBay (only two of them) and found I had been outbid. I upped my bid from the comfort and safety of my own bed.

As you can see, there's a bunch of elements, copper coils, ladies watch faces, a couple of gears. Next to the rectangular watch face is a little pop of purple, hard to see. It's a small half-domed clear piece of plastic or glass that I think really adds something to the piece. Just a little zap of color. My plan is to work with polymer clay to add another kind of element. Still in development, but I hope to spend some time on it this weekend. Along with hitting the flea markets looking for non-working watches, and learning how to coil wire so it lays flat. The glue I bought smells so strongly, I think I'll have to buy something else. Anyone readers know it that dissipates or if there's a less smelly product?

Once I get done, I'm going to give a couple away to friends to see what the design issues are. I know they aren't particularly durable. The flower-shaped medallion on this bracelet came off when I was putting on my lab coat at work the other day.  My design has fewer points to catch on coats. The other thing I liked about this is the scale. A lot of what I looked at on Etsy was larger in proportion, and I just wouldn't wear it. I like my bling on a smaller scale.

I ended up listing the van on cars.com. No nibbles yet, but the ad has only been up for a couple of days. I'm resigned to keeping it over the winter until interest picks up in the spring. We had that big snow storm on Tuesday night, and in the end got almost 10" of snow. One of the trees on my treelawn (the patch between the sidewalk and the street) split at the base and two 6" trunks came to rest on the van. I cut those away and the van seems fine. The trees around town took a big hit, though, as many still had their leaves on them. It's tough being a deciduous tree in CO. I'm hoping that the remaining half of the tree is OK, as it provides a nice privacy screen in front of my bedroom window.

Going to see live music tonight! Out with the friend that I dated briefly who likes the same kind of music. No expectations, and I like that. We're seeing Greensky Bluegrass. They've got a banjo player, so it's likely my kind of music.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Apropos

I see my last post was almost a week ago, and was about this new bracelet project that has caught my attention. I've spent much of the last week's free time continuing to gather materials. It's still a lot of fun, but I'm waiting for a couple more things before I assemble my first set of 5 bracelets (that's as many bracelet blanks as I bought - should buy more).

As expected, Mr W has shown an interest in taking apart old watches for me. I bought a bunch of what ended up being mostly battery powered instead of what I want, which is the windup kind. They will be good for practice, and I will be able to use the faces off of many of them. There were a few old ones, and now I know what to look for, so will concentrate on that kind. It's been cool to watch the kid; he is mechanically inclined and I love seeing how he just picks up the stuff and starts to work.

I was downtown a couple of months ago, and stopped in to the independent bookstore down there. I was in a spending mood, apparently, because I bought three brand new books, which I hardly ever do. One book I got was called, Craft Inc. and is about turning crafting into a business. I have no desire or intention to "go big" with these bracelets, but the book has been very useful so far in terms of some of the planning, business and intellectual property sides of this.

One thing the book mentions, which is pretty obvious, but important, is that one needs to have one's own take on the medium so one isn't reinventing the wheel. This made me think about how to put my spin on these bracelets, and I've got some ideas. Yea!! I will post pictures when I get the first five done.

In other news, we got a big dump of wet snow last night, and it's still coming down. No snow day for the kids, but I need to get dressed and knock snow off the trees. I lost one small branch from one tree, but everything else is bent over and needs to be released. Ah, CO in the fall. It's funny, we reliably get a cold snap around Halloween almost every year. So much so that people sort of plan that into their costumes.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Burst

It was serendipity. I was in line at the consignment shop with a couple of things, and I glanced over at a little rack that had bracelets on it. I'm not normally a bracelet person, as my wrists always seem to be kind of thick for bracelets (yeah, it sounds goofy to me too). One bracelet caught my eye, and I tried it on. It had to pass the "can I get it on and off by myself" test, which it did. It fit, it was a good price, it was my kind of funky, and I bought it.

I was hardly out to my car when I thought, "I could make these, and sell them on Etsy". And ever since then, this idea, this thing that wants to get made, this anticipatory feeling like I'm going to make something artsy, attractive, upcycled and cool, has been simmering in the back of my brain like a pot of spaghetti sauce on the stove. I LOVE that feeling, being in a place where I'm working on something creative like this. There's a great TED talk by Elizabeth Gilbert, the author of "Eat Pray Love" that talks about this kind of creativity, that's worth checking out. She's lovely and humble.

So this idea, these bracelets, have some upcycled pieces on a bracelet blank (as I have learned they are called), and I've been gathering materials this week. A couple of visits to Ebay, a trip or two to the craft store, once to Amazon, rummaging around in my junk drawers. You know, it's got this mad scientist mojo to it that has been fun. I'm waiting for stuff to arrive in the mail before I can really get going on it, but will post some photos once the first ones are done.

And the best part? Well, one of the best parts, is that I'm going to propose going into business on this with Mr W. I thought he'd be good at taking stuff apart, and sorting the pieces so I can use those for the bracelets. I'll pay him by the piece or something, and he can earn some dough while he works with his hands. Z&Me is what I'm thinking of calling our little venture.

Now, if I could just come up with an idea for a Halloween costume.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Guilty insured

I had my physical therapy appointment yesterday, bringing the doctor visit total for this knee thing up to three. Doctor, Specialist, PT. The PT was very helpful and showed me how to apply tape to my knee to sort of shift my kneecap to the inside just a bit to help with the pain I was having. I realized, however, that taking the first available appointment like I did probably wasn't in my best interest. As I told the PT, the doc, who was not a knee specialist, basically said to take 800 mg of Ibuprofen before I hiked and that was it. She seemed a little surprised at that, and gave me the names of their "knee guys" if I need to make another appointment. Geez, what a system. We'll do a little test on it this weekend with the single parent group, as I've scheduled to host a hike on one of the trails nearby.

But I was telling a couple of the women at the dogpark about the knee thing, and they murmured their condolences and then we talked of other things. I later remembered that neither of them has health insurance. They can't afford it. They both work as therapists, part time, one for the school district with at risk teens, and the other in music therapy. I felt unduly privileged, and somewhat guilty for taking my health insurance for granted.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Really?

I went to see the ortho yesterday. They took x-rays and manipulated my knee this way and that. The place has an assembly line feel to it. I've heard they are good at what they do, but it's sort of a cold place. There was a picture of all the docs (probably 30 of them) at the front desk, along with the physical therapists and other clinical staff. I was a little surprised that there was not one woman on the surgical staff there. All white men. I don't know if it matters.

Anyway, my diagnosis was arthritis in my knee. Arthritis? Really? My kneecap, where it sits on top of my thigh bone is over a thinning piece of cartilage. This explains the very localized pain on the outside of my knee. Nothing's broken (which is good), and they could go in and shave off the bone a bit, but no one wants to do that at this point. If it progresses badly, then they replace the joint somewhere down the line. Since the pain is confined to me hiking downhill, the physical therapist there is going to show me how to wrap my knee so that the knee cap is held a little to the inside. That, gel insoles, a good set of hiking poles, and I'll try again.

All in all, not bad news.

Plus, it's the weekend (soon), and it's going to be another nice one.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Been a while

This hasn't happened for a while. When someone asks, "How's things?" and I can say, "Good, not much going on, no big dramas, things are humming along." What's different? I don't know, probably my perspective. The things that I have to attend to besides the usual work/kid/home stuff all seem dealable.

I feel thankful and lucky to be here.

Work is fine, although I'm still slogging through the last part of a project and it will be done soon. Did I mention that my cubemate moved out? I think so. Not that I was glad to see him lose his job with our group and be picked up by another lab here for a temporary gig, which is why he moved, but getting my own space at work for the first time in five years is FABULOUS.

I went to my doctor yesterday to get a referral for my knee, which has hurt when I hike downhill for a few months now. The hike with Mr W really tweaked it, and I've got a bit of a limp still. I can still do my Spin class, though, and for that I am grateful. But I called the ortho right away and have an appointment for today to have a specialist look at it. This is Colorado, I have to be able to walk downhill! And I want to be able to hike as I please without worrying about it. Someone in my Spin class suggested hiking poles, which is a great idea. I have a staff, but can see the utility of poles.

I feel like a used car saying this next bit, but I was already in the files of the ortho place because I had hurt my shoulder a few years ago. I was riding my bike downtown in the dark in March and hit a snowbank that was in the bike lane. I hadn't biked all winter and most of the snow around town was gone. Just a stupid accident, but I got thrown over the handlebars and landed on my shoulder. No, I wasn't drinking. No, I wasn't wearing my helmet (but I have, religiously, since that incident). Yes, I got a really bright headlight for my bike. Anyway, I saw the "shoulder guy" who said I could have the surgery to repair my shoulder if I wanted, but I'd probably be OK. I opted not to, and it is fine now (I'll never be a professional drywall hanger, though).

This time around, I feel like if I have to have a procedure, I've got people. People who could drive me to the place, people who could do an errand or two for me. I haven't always felt that way post-divorce, and I'm glad to make a mental list of folks I could ask to help me who likely would. Lucky indeed.

Oh, and I wanted to mention how much I've been enjoying the banjo - when I don't feel like I have to practice-up right before my lesson. I was getting a little stressed about not practicing enough and showing adequate progress at lessons, which as you might guess, was starting to suck some of the joy out of the process. I've adjusted, and now I'm just playing the thing. Practicing, and understanding that it's simply time spent doing it that's going to make me a better player, not forcing more practice into the time that I have, if that makes sense. 

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Some nice little instructions

From this website.

1: Be authentic. The most powerful asset you have is your individuality, what makes you unique. It’s time to stop listening to others on what you should do.  2: Work harder than anyone else and you will always benefit from the effort.  3: Get off the computer and connect with real people and culture. Life is visceral.  4: Constantly improve your craft. Make things with your hands. Innovation in thinking is not enough.  5: Travel as much as you can. It is a humbling and inspiring experience to learn just how much you don’t know.  6: Being original is still king, especially in this tech-driven, group-grope world.  7: Try not to work for stupid people or you’ll soon become one of them. 8: Instinct and intuition are all-powerful. Learn to trust them.  9: The Golden Rule actually works. Do good.  10: If all else fails, No. 2 is the greatest competitive advantage of any career.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Bonus time

I had the day off yesterday as one of the generous number of government holidays afforded by my job. Most of the time, I work these days, and bank the time to use later, but yesterday, I had the urge to organize my basement, so I took the day. It was like being gifted with some bonus time, and I felt like I got a lot done.

No, I did not tell Mr W, who I took to school as usual. Yes, I feel kind of bad, but there you go.

My basement is not unusual for an old house like mine. There are two rooms, one with the furnace and washer/dryer, which has exposed beams in the ceiling and I'm guessing the original linoleum floor. The other room has been finished, and has a bit better flooring, but the walls and ceiling have been stuccoed and it's a pretty nice space, except for one thing. The ceiling is about 6' high. Yep, they made people shorter back then or something, but it feels cramped down there unless there's space open in front of me. The finished room has a desk, a futon and a carpet remnant (and until yesterday lots of boxes and assorted stuff I didn't want to deal with), and my thoughts have always been to have it be a talking spot if the kid has friends over (for them or for me, not sure).

The futon, however, has served as convenient space for the last (gulp) couple of years for comforters that are not quite dry out of the dryer, sweaters that have been purchased at the thrift store for project, extra fabric, sleeping bags from camping, etc.

To my horror, I started looking underneath the rubble recently and saw mouse poop. Ugh. LindaCO: habitat creator. Well, nothing motivates me like having to clean up poop, so I bought some plastic storage boxes (which always feels like a bit of a concession - I want less stuff, not more) and set to work cleaning up.

After about 4 hours, a large pile of recyclable cardboard and 4 bags of stuff for Goodwill, I can now use the space, and all that stuff is put away. Feels good indeed.

In other news, the Occupy Wall Street movement has come to my town, and I'm thinking of joining one of the protests this weekend. I'm ambivalent about the value of protests. Stand there with a sign with like-minded people doesn't seem to change anything. But there's also some value in standing witness to something you believe in. What do these people believe in? It's hazy, but they are tapping into the discontent with the banking system, and the ever-growing inequality between rich and poor in this country. I can get behind that.

So what will my sign say? This was not hard at all. I'm all about getting information, so my sign will have these two websites on it:

http://robertreich.org/ 

Mr. Reich is an accomplished analyst (yes, he leans left politically), but talks about the economy in a way that makes sense to me.

and

http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/

Yves Smith is the pseudonym for Susan Webber, who knows a ton about the mortgage crisis and the financial world and, more importantly, explains things in terms I can understand.

Yep, those two websites and a call to inform oneself about things that affect our lives. Sorry to stray into the political here, but this stuff seems pretty important to me right now.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Hike and the first volley

I went on the epic hike yesterday, and it was epic. It rained and snowed on us, glad we had our rain gear. The very very best part of hiking with my 10 year old kid was that he wanted to hold my hand sometimes when we were hiking. How cool is that? And that he wanted me to be there. There was another mom there, whose kid ducked and dodged away from her when he saw her arrive. That would break my heart, no matter how I tried to chalk it up to pre-adolescent goofery. The only downside was that my knee was killing me on the way down. Almost scarily so - some kind of tendon or ligament thing on the outside of my knee. Very painful to hike downhill these days. But today it's OK.

I've sent an email to Craigslist regarding my ad to sell Graycie being flagged. We'll see what they have to say. It is a good forum to sell the thing, and I'm hoping they can help. I did check the terms of use, and the words "price" and "pricing" are not in them. So again I say, PHTTHTHTHTPT!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Power

I've tried to post a Craigslist ad to sell Graycie the campervan three times, and each time the post has been flagged and removed. The first time I thought it was a mistake. The second time, I posted to a forum (populated by people who apparently spend their days offering their wisdom on why peoples' posts are flagged and removed - amazing), and they scoffed at the price I was asking.

I posted it a third time, with a line at the top that said, "This posting has been flagged and removed twice already. If you're flagging it, please send me an email and tell me why." Sure enough, I get an email from someone that says it's because I'm "charging" more for the van than it cost new. That's all.

I replied that it was of course my choice to set the price as I saw fit, and if no one wanted to pay that price, the van wouldn't sell. Sounds simple enough to me. I then asked if he had any experience with these vans, as I had done my research and set a fair price. I didn't hear anything back, but my posting got removed a third time, so apparently he/she was unconvinced.

This troll has made me very frustrated, but I'm done with Craigslist as an avenue to sell the van. I am flummoxed and bewildered that apparently one person can wield so much power that he/she determines whether I can list my van for sale. I mean, really, it's a free classifieds site, the price I set is my business, I really don't understand why this person cared so much.

But it's done. I'm going to advertise in the local papers, and put a sign in the van and park it out front (now that it's not in danger of being ticketed for expired plates). I was tossing and turning a bit last night over this - the strange sort of powerlessness that I felt, and how easy apparently it is to bring someone's ad down on Craigslist. I mean in theory it's a great system. Flag the smut, the postings that are in the wrong place, the stuff that's not supposed to be sold on the site, fine and dandy. But this was so arbitrary, and I still can't picture why this person would care, although I did think maybe he/she was also selling a van and wanted to oust the competition. Nah, couldn't be...

So that's my Craigslist story. To them I say PPPTHTHTHTPPPPPBBBTT!!!

In other news, today's the epic hike with Mr. W. Preemptive Advil has been administered. Sally the dog saw me get out my backpack, and it's really hard to tell her they have a "no dogs" policy on the hike, and that we'll hike on Saturday morning. Sorry, pooch.