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. 


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

-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


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


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


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.