Sunday, March 29, 2009

Crazy weather

What a funny weekend! From the middle of last week, we kept hearing that we were going to get a snowstorm any day, but it seemed like it was going to miss us. The weather got cold toward the end of the week--much colder than it had been--but we didn't have much, if any, precipitation. We were thinking that the weather folks got it wrong, again.

Bob was going in to work at 1:00 on Saturday, so I wasn't in any hurry to leave the house. We got up fairly early and puttered around, then about the time that he went up to get ready for work, I laid down and fell asleep again. I woke up around 1:00 and looked outside--it was starting to rain. Even though I would have much preferred to stay home, I had to go out. I had to go to the post office to mail some Ebay and Etsy orders, and I had to pick up a book at the library. Those were my two main errands, with the post office being the most important.

By the time I had dressed and left the house, the rain was turning to freezing rain; the library building is being redone and is temporarily housed in a shopping center that has kind of a wind tunnel effect; when I was walking through the parking lot the sleet was hitting my face so hard it felt like little needles. Very uncomfortable.

The streets were getting slick, too. I spent a lot of time watching in my rear view mirror to be sure that the people behind me were going to stop. Not that I could control that, but I guess I just like to know . . . So I went to the library, and the post office, and the bank, and by now it was starting to snow. I needed to get some groceries, but that was really all I had to do, so I went to Target and figured I'd head straight home after that.

I was probably in Target about a half hour; by the time I came out it was practically a blizzard. I crept home, and was very glad to drive into the garage! It was only 3:30 or so, much earlier than I'm usually home on a Saturday, but I figured better safe than sorry. I took a bubble bath, put on my pajamas, and settled in for a quiet evening playing Second Life. I ran into a couple of friends and talked for awhile, then at 6:30 the lights went off. They came back on, then went off again, then came back on, but I figured I'd better shut the computer down just in case. I unplugged the power cord, and the cable modem, and then the power went back off, and this time it didn't come back on.

It was still light outside, and the snow magnified the light--I'd guess we must have gotten around 6 inches. It was beautiful, but weird -- snow like this in March, nearly April? The trees had already blossomed, I was a little worried about the pear tree in the front yard. I lit a bunch of candles, went upstairs and found a flashlight, got my phone, and waited to see what would happen. I had planned on cooking pasta for Bob when he got home at 9:30 or so, but if I didn't have any electricity, that wasn't going to happen. I figured I'd fix him a tuna sandwich or something if we didn't have power by the time he got home.

I couldn't quite figure out what to do with myself. I read for awhile on my iPhone, but I didn't want to drain the battery in case the power didn't come back on. I could have watched a DVD on the laptop, but same thing--I didn't want to drain the battery, although there wouldn't be much I could do with it anyway, if the power didn't come back on. Without power, the router wasn't working, so I guess it wouldn't have hurt anything to run it down. But I didn't like to do that.

I knew I had a booklight somewhere, but I couldn't remember where; reading with a flashlight was less than ideal. If I knew where any of Bob's headlamps were, I could have gotten one of those . . . It's just something that comes up so rarely, I wasn't really prepared. I did have a small flashlight in my purse, though, and knew right where to get it, so I wasn't completely unprepared.

I guess it was about 8:30 when the power came back on. I rushed into the kitchen to put the pasta on to boil, and brown some ground beef. I cooked the beef, threw in some tomato sauce and mushrooms, mixed in the pasta and put cheese on top, and stuck it in the oven. I figured even if the power went off again, if I could get the casserole at least heated up, Bob would have something to eat when he got home. But the power stayed on, we had dinner, and all was well.

The snow is almost completely gone by now. The trees don't look any the worse for wear, and I suppose the extra moisture will be good for the grass. I didn't leave the house at all today. I worked on Second Life stuff for awhile, then worked on marketing for the jewelry shop, making a FaceBook page and uploading a bunch of photo examples of my work. Then I sat down in front of the television and watched an old movie (Jane Fonda in "Sunday in New York") and made earrings. I'm kind of on a roll with the jewelry again, so I didn't want to stop.

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Wednesday, March 25, 2009


I can't remember if I ever talked about my fish at the office. One of the guys had a small fishtank with a beta, and I admired it, and told him that I was jealous that he had a fish. That day, he went out to lunch and came back with a fishbowl and a beta for me! Unlike most betas that I've seen, he wasn't purple or black, but gold. I hadn't had fish for a long time, and I really enjoyed watching him.

I know you're not supposed to put two male betas together--they're not called Siamese Fighting Fish for nothing!--but the other guy (Dave) had several other little fish in his tank, a couple of neon tetras and a few others, and they seemed to be fine, so one day last week he came in after lunch with two little neon tetras for me! And a filtration kit for my fishbowl because while the beta is fine in a small bowl (they are found in stagnant pools of water in the wild), the other fish would need filtered water.

So anyway, I had cleaned the bowl and put the two little fish in, and the beta chased them for a little while, then I looked over and he had one of them in his mouth! I rushed over and made him drop it, but the little guy never recovered, and died later that day. The remaining one was kind of hiding behind a plant, but everything seemed fine. But the next morning when I came to work, the second tetra was dead. So, okay, not such a good idea, apparently.

But then, Monday when I came to work, the beta was dead! There were a lot of different theories as to why, but of course no one really knows. It's very sad now, I just have an empty fish bowl, but my friend Anna is going to bring me her tank with some guppies, so I have that going for me.

There are another half dozen or so new pieces up at the Etsy shop, including a necklace. I had made two similar ones for one of the guys at work to choose from for a gift for his mother, and he chose the other one, so the second one is up for sale now, along with a few more pairs of earrings.

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Tuesday, March 24, 2009


Every weekend I tell myself I'm going to sit down and work on my jewelry, but I just haven't done it. Last night, though, I decided I was going to, so after Bob went to bed (he had to be up at 5:00 a.m. to go in to work early) I got out all my stuff and went to work.

I stayed up WAY too late, but since I've obviously had some trouble getting motivated, I figured once I started, I should keep going.

I made probably 20 pairs of earrings in all. This morning I got up early and photographed about half of them, and posted them in my Etsy shop. I'll probably do the rest of them tonight.

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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

A book review

I didn't actually make any New Year's Resolutions this year, but as the year goes on, I've been coming up with a few goals that I would like to meet. One of my goals this year is to learn how to write better book reviews. I'm usually at a loss for saying anything other than, "I loved this book."

I received an early reviewer's copy of The Kitchen Linens Book by EllyAnne Geisel from LibraryThing's Early Reviewers program, and wrote this review of the book last night. More than anything else, this book pointed out to me how similar our experiences are when we grow up in a certain era. For the era when I was growing up (50s and 60s), it was Father Knows Best, Leave It To Beaver, picnics from the back of the station wagon, and embroidered dish towels with funny little cartoon characters on them.

I could talk and talk about all of my childhood memories (and may, one day soon), but for now, here's my review.

The Kitchen Linens Book: Using, Sharing, and Cherishing the Fabrics of Our Daily Lives, by EllynAnne Geisel

This book could be appreciated solely for the beautiful photographs of embroidered, embellished, and lovingly preserved linens, but it is so much more. I adored this book. Every page brought a new memory of my own family—my mother, my grandmothers, my aunts—and how seemingly mundane items like dishtowels and tablecloths can have such a large impact on our lives.

The book includes a collection of essays and photos from various women, not just one, but one thing that struck me was how similar the essays were. Not in actual content, but in the way they spoke so lovingly of the women who had gone before them in their family. As I read this book and looked at the photographs, almost every story allowed me to relive memories from my childhood. I grew up in the 50s and 60s, and many of the items pictured in this book were familiar to me. I remember embroidering pillowcases and dishtowels over iron-on transfers, and I remember piling out of the family station wagon and helping my mother cover a picnic table with a red checked tablecloth.

I recognized the "grape cluster" hot pad made up of bottle caps covered with crochet—one of my grandmothers had made that exact pattern and I saw it on her dinner table at every family dinner. My other grandmother made tatted lace edgings for pillowcases, and crocheted doll clothes for me.

Many of the women in the book collect vintage linens, and scour thrift shops for them, something I've also done. I have recently been thinking about the ways that "women's work" enhances the home, and the way that women through the ages have found that needlework both improves the ambience of their homes and gives them something to focus on, enabling them to deal with adversity in a productive way. You may worry, but if you have needlework to occupy your mind and your hands, at least you can produce something beautiful.

The handwork that these women did not only made something useful and beautiful for their homes, it enhanced their families' lives and gave them memories to last a lifetime.

This is a beautiful book, and I can't recommend it highly enough.

~ Willa Cline

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Saturday, March 14, 2009


I had big plans for the weekend; I was going to make soap (I got my shipment of colors and scents yesterday), and I need to make new jewelry to get my Etsy inventory back up. I didn't do either of those things today, but maybe tomorrow.

Today was nice. Bob didn't go in to work until 1:00, so I worked on the computer most of the morning, working on my Second Life business. I've had a little shop selling tee-shirts that I've made, but it hasn't been terribly successful. Probably a combination of poor location, lack of advertising, and goods that no one wanted to buy. I don't have any problem accepting that. I don't have a lot of time to spend on it, but I would really like to have it perform better, at least enough to pay my expenses.

Last week I discovered a new little shopping area, an artists' colony, and rented a shop, and a few days later decided to take the plunge and rent a home there--the rental includes the home, the shop, and a "skybox" workroom. Part of the problem with making much headway is that to actually create anything--clothing, furniture, landscaping--you have to be "in world," i.e., you can't build something and then take it into the game.

You can create textures and import them into the game, but to actually create the item you have to be online. Which is really a pain, because of course you can't tell exactly what something is going to look like until you've paid the (admittedly small) upload fee and applied it to the item. Of course, once you've done it a few times it becomes easier to know what it's going to look like, but it's still a gamble.

And the other thing is that when you rent a space you have a limit of how many "prims" you can have lying around at one time. Prims are shorthand for "primitives," or the pieces that make up whatever you're building. A box is one prim. I built a bookcase today which was made up of 5 prims--a hollow box for the top, back and sides, three shelves, and a decorative bottom piece. So when I would build before, I couldn't leave anything out or I'd go over my prim limit. So, just like at home, in order to make something I'd have to drag everything out of my inventory, then, when I was finished, put it away. Now, with the big skybox, I have a big prim limit, and I can leave things lying around.

The house I'm renting is next door to a friend of mine; she also has a shop in the same market.

My skybox workshop:

The big black backdrop is for taking photos; the white sphere is a light. I have a little desk set up so I can work, and a daybed to lie down and think.

My home:

The house is tiny, a shack, really. But it's plenty. I have it set up with a couch and a couple of chairs, and chairs on the porch. It's especially pretty at night.

And I love the view from the porch.

My shop:

The area is a Mexican-themed "mercado;" I think I'm going to switch my shop over to more furniture and decorative objects rather than clothing. I think I might be more successful, and the fashion industry is so competitive that I'd just as soon not get involved in it. Anyway, I know it's quite silly, but it's entertainment and escapism for me, and I figure it's no worse than watching television for a few hours a night. I know I could be doing something a lot more productive, but I do enjoy it. Maybe someday I'll be a Second Life entrepreneur.

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Tuesday, March 10, 2009


One of my goals this year is to clean out my basement so I can have a studio down there. I guess it's just an excuse, but it's hard to do creative work when I have to get everything out, then put it away again (or leave it out all over the place, but that's another story). Bob has suggested the basement before, but I never really wanted to be down there, but now I think I might. I think it was when we were in Mexico with our friends that I thought of it.

One of the women that we were with is an artist, and she has the basement set up as her studio, and I guess it just struck me that I should do that, too. It's going slow, but I knew it would, I'm not going to rush anything, and it'll take a long time, but that's okay.

I usually end up down there for a few hours each weekend, and I keep unearthing interesting things that I'd forgotten about. Last weekend it was a 1996 issue of "Net" magazine that had me in it. I took it to work and showed the guys, then today I took in my copy of the "24 Hours in Cyberspace" book that I was in. It was very cool at the time of course, but as I told them, back then there were like four websites, so it wasn't that impressive.

Last week I called my insurance agent to ask about getting liability insurance so I could sell the soap that I make. My agent said that she didn't handle that kind of insurance, and forwarded me to the person in the office who does, but that person wasn't there. I left a voice mail, but they never called me back. I need to call again, hopefully I'll be able to do that this week sometime.

Bob is using the soap that I made a few weeks ago; he likes the cucumber-melon and the rosemary-mint. I sent a box of coconut-lime-verbena to Barb this week to see if she likes it, and tomorrow I'm going to take some lemon verbena fish in for Cello's son, Dominic. He's going on vacation on Friday with his grandmother, and I thought that might be a fun thing to send along with them.

I ordered some more scents from Brambleberry this week, some "ginger fish" scent which I will, of course, use to make Ginger Fish, and "Marrakesh," which is described as "what we imagine a Moroccan Spice market in the middle of a grassy grove to smell like - notes of Bamboo, Vetiver Grass, Vanilla Orchid and Myrrh mix beautifully with Tangerine, Patchouli and Clove Leaf." I also ordered a sampler pack of mica colorant. I've been wanting to make some deeper-colored soap, but the colors I had didn't really lend themselves to that. I'm looking forward to experimenting!

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