Thursday, June 28, 2012

Feelin' the love

Tomorrow is my birthday. I say that to set the context here, not for setting out bread crumbs for ducks at the park. I'll be 47. There are two things that I've been thinking about for the last few days. The first is my gratitude that I'm still here. My sister died much too early at 45, and there was a time when I was pretty sure I'd be next and in short order. This translates as being able to let the little things go (often-sometimes). As though I've got some kind of perspective now that allows me to drop the things that aren't worth my time. The rude clerk, uncertainty about this or that, the fact that my house isn't as clean as I'd like.

The other thing is that the shows of birthday love scare me a bit. My dad sent a nice card and a check. He also sent a couple of packets of seeds, which I think is a fabulous idea and will do that for birthday cards in the future. Mr W got me a card, too. This is the first year he's gotten me anything for my birthday without prompting. He bought me a lollipop, too, and offered to do chores for me for a day. A friend came up from Denver last weekend and bought me dinner. We went out last night after spin class to eat and celebrate my birthday. It has been so nice to get the attention. With all of it, I get that feeling that there will be a cost for it. I know that's silly.

I'm happy to be here, and enjoying the ride.

Monday, June 25, 2012

There are no original ideas

After a busy few days of social stuff, it was nice yesterday to stay out of the heat and work on crafty stuff at home. I had seen some cool polymer clay buttons on Pinterest and wanted to see if I could recreate them with what I had on hand. Many polymer clay people use canes, (here's a link to some pictures showing how one is made) and the process leaves a lot of trimmed ends behind. Some clever clayer came up with a way to use these bits and ends to make new things. These are the Pinterest buttons (and the link to their source):

Not having done really any work with canes, I tried to get some bits of coordinating color, so I made a blend, which turned out to be two blends because it got too wide for my pasta machine to roll out.

I then used my cutters and cut out a big and a small square and rearranged the pieces. This was to get a lot of color combinations in a small space.

I then cut one of the blends into little pieces.

And applied those pieces to a sheet of black clay. This was pretty time consuming, but I wanted to get a nice distribution of colors. I might make longer pieces next time.

I then rolled the whole thing once more through the pasta machine to smoosh it all together, and then cut out the buttons. 

I still need to poke the holes (except for the test one in the bottom left corner), but I'm pleased with this first go. I'll put a layer of glaze over them to shine them up a bit, too. I love how creative ideas build on other creative ideas. 

We're havin' a heat wave here for the next week or so. I've got my two window air conditioners in place, one in the living room and one in my room, and last night alternately baked and froze until I got the settings right. We actually got some rain last night. It's so rare lately and very much needed. The fire is still going. 83,000 acres burned, almost 200 homes lost. It's moving north and west now, and there are still many homes in its path. 

Saturday, June 23, 2012

A little catch up

Happy weekend! It's supposed to be near 100 for the next two days. I'm volunteering at our local brewfest this weekend. It'll be fun, I need to drink lots of water. So, what's been happening here? 

Well, at work, I got work done on a project and it's ready to hand off to my boss, who was this week collecting ticks in Missouri. The magnitude of my gratefulness for not being asked to go on this trip is huge indeed. Ick ick ick. So, that's good. I worked from home yesterday afternoon on a little proposal that helps explain the connection between the sort of research we do and public health. It's not always a straight line, and it helps to try to make it clear for the people who at the top who make decisions. 

I've been working a lot on Etsy shop stuff. Well, it seems like I've been spending a lot of time lately trying to promote my stuff on Pinterest, Facebook and Tumblr. The overlap is definitely there, but it seems each has its own different audience. But setting that stuff up and keeping it current takes time. I do enjoy it, though, so it's not like I feel like I'm wasting time. Those earrings are the last of five pairs I posted recently. I used mainspring barrels from old watches, plus the little glass cabochons and my clay tiles. If you've got an opinion, what do you think of the price? Reasonable?

I'm also doing a giveaway on the FB page. Check out Wednesday's post for details. 

It's been so very dry here. I know it's not like that everywhere, for sure. I've been dutifully watering my garden and sometimes my grass. I'm trying not to let my lawn die this year. I've gotten a so-so harvest from the lettuce and spinach - it got too hot too fast after I planted them. But the rest of it is coming along. I planted a bunch of cantaloupe, and with the hot summer, I'm hoping we get a few good ones. It seems like it's around the beginning of school by the time they are ripe, but the plants have flower and I'm hopeful. The dog's been helping herself to the raspberries, which I think is quite funny, and I'll just need to try to get out there before her.

I can tell you this because it's done and there's no jinxing it now. I had gone out on a few dates with someone I met online. I know, I know, why the online stuff again. In short, because I feel like there's no one out there (so I don't spend much time on the site), but yet I'm an optimist, so it feels like leaving a business card in a jar. Anyway, we went out for lunch a couple of times and went hiking once. Each time, it was this thing about how busy he was, and whether he'd be able to make the agreed-upon time. We moved things around several times, and the last straw was when we had agreed to go out, potentially, on a Saturday night before he was leaving for a conference. We had set up the potential outing at least a week in advance, so it seemed to me he could find a couple of hours to do go out. He emailed at 6 pm, not to apologize, but to say he couldn't make it, he had too many things to do yet.

The reason I mention this is because there was a time when I would have put up with this bs. There was a time when I would have thought this pretty normal and would have been understanding. In fact at the beginning, when we had to reschedule or he couldn't make it, I thought, "well, he's got a lot going on, so I'll be flexible." And you know what? We all seem to manage to make time for the things we think are important. We do. We are all busy, too. So I emailed him and said that he seemed like he was always too busy, and that there was no hard feelings, I just didn't want to conduct things that way. 

And I never heard from him again. I guess he's too busy to reply. 

But things are good. I was telling a dear friend who came up from Denver and took me out to dinner last night (and has been married forever) that yes, I still sometimes can't believe that I have been single now for 6.5 years after the divorce. But I have come to realize, especially after hearing about how one half of a couple can make bad choices and make things difficult for both parties, that it's nice to come home to a friendly dog and just check my email and go to bed. 

Monday, June 18, 2012

Father's Day

I had intended to post yesterday, but the day got away from me. I had the house closed up all day, and did a little experiment with making pumpkin bread in the toaster oven. It turned out fine, but heated up the house and it was hot last night. Oh, I had closed up the house, um, Friday night? I think, because of the fire and all the smoke it was pushing to town. Anyway, it was so darn hot that I slept terribly. It's supposed to push 100 today, so smoke or not (it's not bad at the moment), I've got the house open and all fans in service trying to push the warm air out and bring the cool morning air in.

So, Father's Day. This used to bug me, but now I see it as a positive thing. My dad, pictured above with my nephew, is pretty particular about gift giving. He likes to get a restaurant gift card to certain chain restaurants. And he'd like a card on the big days (birthday and Father's Day). That's pretty much it. There were years when we kids were adults and before we came up with the gift card thing that everyone would be kind of disappointed with the whole gift giving process. Now, though, I know what he wants, and I deliver. Yes, it takes the creativity out of it, but he's happy.

Not that I don't get a little bit of subversive fun out of it. For several years now, I've given him jars of jelly from Harry and David for Christmas (the gift requirements seem a little more loosely defined there) and although it messes a bit with what he thinks he wants, he always uses them and I hear from him around April or May (the stuff keeps for a long time) or later that he just opened the peach jelly or whatever and it's really good and thanks. 

Like a lot of families, we had our rough patches growing up. Here's the thing, though. Since my divorce and subsequent re-, um, re-, I don't know, rebranding of myself, I've always felt like my dad's been in my corner. Several times, even though we don't talk on the phone often, he's said just the right thing and I know he's got my back. That he's proud of me, and that means a lot to me. 

He's 77, and healthy. I hope I've got those genes. He's currently in the process of moving to Florida so he and his longtime girlfriend/partner can escape Ohio winters and be close to her son. He's spent the last several months going through his stuff and what stuff of her he can. She moved to FL in January to take a job that is perfect for her, so she's there, he's in OH. Stressful, but they're almost done. It'll be nice to consider going to Florida over Christmas, I do believe. And I saw that Legoland is about an hour away, so I'm thinking of having me and Mr W go down for a visit next winter sometime. 

Friday, June 15, 2012

New Bracelet

Sorry I've been absent. This fire thing's been a drag on everyone's reserves. Here's a new bracelet I've got up at the shop.

I call it Soft Shimmer. There's a little bird cage charm on this one. 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Our in-town fire

You may have heard about the High Park fire that's burning just west of Fort Collins. Here's a link to our local paper, and one to a TV station. At least 118 structures, lots of displaced people, lots of smoke down here in town. My house isn't in any danger, but the fire is less than a mile from where I work. The building is pretty smoky, and it's hard to concentrate. They don't seem to think the fire will crest over the hill close to the building, but it's been an unusual fire, and people are a little anxious, myself included.

It started Saturday morning, from a lightning strike. Not too much more to say about it, but it's unfolding.

In other news, I had a couple of interesting dreams last night. In one, I was with Mr W and we were standing on the side of a street. All of the sudden, this life-sized pink plastic VW Beetle comes bouncing, literally, down the street, doing several car lengths at a bounce. It's got a big black push button on the bottom of it. Mr W is unimpressed.

In the other, I've got friends over to the house and some stuff has been delivered that I'm supposed to work on as part of my craftiness. The pieces are on my porch, and it's something like a large dining room table top, and three wooden cutouts of animals. For the life of me, I can't remember what I'm supposed to to with them. Then I find a letter, also on the porch (where my mail gets delivered) and that explains it.

I got an email from Mr W's dad yesterday saying how all Mr W wants to do is play on the computer, and I was telling him that the kid needs to be gently pushed to do the other things we know he's interested in. I fear the kid will be unimpressed by anything not on a screen and we have to work on that balance.

The other dream I suspect has to do with this button stuff, although I'm sitting really good on making the first batch - they look great.

I'm delivering a meal for a family from church with the mom undergoing chemo this summer. Just so happens I ran into an acquaintance in the grocery store over the weekend, also undergoing chemo this summer, and is also signed up at the same meal-delivery-organization web site. I'll get on that schedule too and count my blessings.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Trying to beat the heat

It's supposed to be hot today, so I'm finishing my coffee and getting ready to do some yard work here at almost 7 am on a Saturday. I'm almost always up by this hour, so it's not that big of a deal. I have been BUSY, hence the lack of posts. Many of the other "just folks" blogs I follow are in the same groove right now.

I attended a volunteer meeting for the Ignite Fort Collins organizers last week and I'm going to be doing a little more social media stuff for them. I really want to learn how to get the word out for stuff without being a nuisance to people, and thought I could also use it for my jewelry stuff at some point. It's a good group of people and I really like how everyone is a big fan of living here.

I spent last night mixing clay for buttons. I'm still figuring out the best way to replicate colors. I bought a kitchen scale and it supposedly goes down to the nearest gram, but it's dicey at that low of a weight. Maybe there's a sweet spot on the surface of it that I have yet to find. I thought I had the ratios just right and made a big batch (for the equipment I have) and it's too pink, so I need to adjust. It's not hard to do, a little this, mix mix mix, a little more that, mix mix mix. There's no subtracting, though, so it has to be a gradual process. I'm happy with the results so far and want to end the weekend with the first batch to send off.

It was Mr W's first week of camp this week. He's at the top of the heap age-wise, and they laid the hammer down early on the discipline stuff. Here's how that can go wrong (with verification from the counselor). The group is playing a trivia game with two teams. Mr W gets a wrong answer. Camper A calls him an idiot, Mr W vigorously disagrees. Camper A gets into Mr W's personal space. Mr W gives Camper A a shove (the degree of which is unclear - not enough to knock him down, enough for the counselors to notice). Since Mr W made physical contact with another camper, it's an "automatic three strikes", which results in the parents being told about the incident. The other kid got two strikes (and perhaps knows how to work the system...).

Um, really? The expectations are that my kid is supposed to walk away when someone gets close to him and is verbally abusive. Since Mr W's actions were all defensive and not offensive, I told him not to worry about it. He didn't know if he'd get in trouble or not. I don't know if I would have handled it differently if I were in his shoes. The counselor later said that they're having trouble already with this kid.

Otherwise, he's having a good time there.

Lastly, here are my Delphiniums before they got blown around by the wind the other day. They are almost six feet tall. Very impressive. 

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

We saw it

Did you get a chance to see the transit of Venus, either live or online? After seeing only a small glimpse of the annular solar eclipse a few weeks ago and feeling like I was depriving my child of significant scientific event viewing opportunities, I promised myself we'd try to get out to see the transit.

Our local astronomy club had telescopes set up at a park/natural area on the way south end of town, and as the time to leave drew closer, there were clouds in the sky and a little bit of rain. But then the sun peeked out and I decided we'd give it a try.

On the way, I tried to explain what I had heard about why the event was significant. It only happens twice every 100 years or so. There was one in 2004 and the next won't be until something like 2117. Previous transits (I'm still not clear on how they know this stuff) were significant because they helped scientists measure the size of the solar system. Until then, they didn't really know how big it was, and got the answer from triangulating measurements taken from various points on Earth.  I love that scientific history stuff. Apparently it was quite an undertaking. The shot below was taken in 1882.

The folks with their scopes were helpful and accommodating. We looked through several, and one person had the image projected on a piece of paper, so several people could see at once. We saw sunspots, too, and when the view was at its best, saw some solar flare activity. All in all worth the trip, although after we were there for about 10 minutes, the clouds obscured the view.

Monday, June 4, 2012



Mr W had his 5th grade "Continuation Ceremony" this past Friday. It was a nice ceremony, and at the end, a teacher read this little piece about how kids are like dogs, and teens are like cats. I hadn't heard it before, and when she read the final line it brought tears to my eye. The mom in front of me actually wept briefly. 

We went to a graduation party, and I don't know many of the parents very well, so I wasn't talking to people very much. I looked around and some moms were filling water balloons. I have to say that this will be my mantra from now on in social situations where I feel a little awkward. I will try to find a job to do. I stood there and tied water balloons for an hour and a half and chatted with a group of moms. It made the experience very pleasant. 

Saturday, I volunteered at the old-time music festival that a couple of my dog park friends (and the people who told me about the weekly jams) helped organize. Again, I didn't know many people there, so walked around a bit, and then sat at the ticket desk for an hour before my shift started, chatting with the other volunteer and people who were coming in and milling about. There were two jams that were held right in that area, so I got to listen to good music too. I'll feel more confident next year participating music-wise, and left my banjo in the trunk. I do enjoy doing that kind of volunteering. Keep busy, chat with people, and have a job to do. 

We took Sally to the dog park in town that has a pond, and she loved it. We've been there a couple of times, but it's farther away from our regular dog park so we don't get there often. We threw the ball into the water for about 30 minutes and it wiped her out (in a good way - she was tired). I had felt bad because I left her alone all day Saturday to go to the festival. When I got home it was raining, so I didn't walk her that day. I will definitely remember the pond for hot days this summer. The water wasn't something I'd want to swim in, but for dogs it was fine. She ended up looking cleaner than when she went in. Not surprising, as I've had to wait an extra month for a grooming appointment due to one of the groomers quitting. 

I got my sample buttons sent off to the button lady. I like the colors and how they turned out. I improved my method of poking the holes in the buttons after a bunch of trial and error, and feel capable of turning out 800 in a relatively short amount of time. Fingers crossed and I'm glad for offers of help from a couple of friends.