Monday, March 28, 2005


There was scant progress on the artistic front, but I did manage to put first coats of paint on two of the little cabinets.

The one on the left has a thin coat of "Moss Green" acrylic; it will definitely need another coat. I'm not sure what I'm going to do with it, but now that I've got the color on it, I think I might put some mosaic tile inside because, if I'm remembering the colors correctly, I have some that would look nice with that green. Although who knows. I'm just going to do whatever seems to work at the time. If it doesn't end up working, no big loss. I can't just hold out until I know the ideas are perfect. If I did that, I'd never do anything.

The black one is a mistake. I was thinking black lacquer, kind of a Chinese thing, and I was glad to see that I had black paint, but it turned out to be the wrong kind of paint. I knew it wasn't "lacquer," but I thought I could paint it and then varnish over it, but the black paint was antiquing glaze, so it didn't cover well at all, and I'm not sure if it's even ever going to dry. If it isn't dry tonight, I'll wipe it off. And stop on the way home and buy real black paint.

I also painted a birdhouse that I bought at the same time that I bought the little cabinets. It was, I think, $2.99, and also unfinished. I painted it with a "Gardener's Green" color stain, then put on a light coat of outdoor acrylic varnish. I don't mind if it weathers a little bit, and I didn't really care if it was perfect. I filled it with birdseed last night and hung it up, and I think it looks pretty cute.

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Thursday, March 24, 2005

Book report

I haven't been reading much lately, but what I've been reading (and listening to), while meager in quantity, has been great.

The last book I finished was Terri Farley's Seven Tears Into the Sea. It hasn't actually been published yet--I do Terri's website, and she sent me an advance copy because I'm going to be designing a new site for her. Terri writes the "Phantom Stallion" series of books, but Seven Tears isn't part of that series, it's a young adult fantasy, and it's wonderful!

It's about a teenager who goes to a beachside resort to help her grandmother, who owns a bed and breakfast. The girl spends the summer with her cat in a little cottage on the property where she used to spend vacations with her parents when she was a little girl. On one of those vacations, something unusual happened that caused them never to go back, and she's a little reluctant to go back now, but her grandmother needs her. She's afraid that the townspeople will think she's strange because she claimed she met a selkie on the beach that day seven years ago. But they don't all think she's strange. Some of them believe her.

It's a wonderful story, and I loved every word of it.

I'm currently reading Lawrence Block's latest Matt Scudder novel, All the Flowers are Dying, which I'm enjoying, although the narrative switches back and forth between Scudder and Elaine, his former-callgirl wife, and a serial killer, told from his perspective, which is a bit unsettling. But it's good, Block's stories are always good.

I'm also reading Perfect Circle, by Sean Stewart. I started it after getting a free "extended excerpt" download from Fictionwise for my PDA. I loved what I read, and was surprised that Fictionwise didn't have the full-length novel for sale. I ended up requesting it from the library.

Perfect Circle is about Will "Dead" Kennedy, who sees ghosts, and has since he was a kid. He's a divorced dad who's still in love with his ex-wife, just got fired from his last dead-end job (he got fired for eating cat food at his petstore job; he only did it to prove to the harpy who brought it back that it wasn't stale) and who wants nothing more than to earn enough money to take his daughter to Six Flags. Which is why he agrees to try to "exorcise" a ghost for his cousin. Not surprisingly, it ends badly . . .

As far as listening, I'm currently listening to Twisted, from Jonathan Kellerman. In a departure from Kellerman's usual Alex Delaware novels, this one is about Petra Connor, Kellerman's female detective protagonist from his 1999 novel, Billy Straight.

I just finished listening to another Terry Pratchett book--Going Postal. It's set on the Discworld, where the protagonist, con artist Moist Von Lipwig, has just been hanged. Fortunately (or unfortunately, perhaps), he didn't die, but was rescued by the patrician who runs the city and given the job of reinstating the Ankh Morpork post office, which has fallen into disrepair, being made redundant by the advent of the "clacks," the semaphore-based message system.

It starts out a little slow, I thought, but I was soon riveted by the story, which includes some quite wonderful characters, including golems and the woman who runs the golem employment office.

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Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Little altars everywhere

I had an awful lot of fun in the craft store this weekend. I can't even remember now what my reason for going was, but I ended up buying an armload of miniature cabinets that just really piqued my creative imagination. I bought too many of them, and I shouldn't have, but they were only 99 cents each, and a lot of the ones on the shelf were broken, so my thinking was that if I really loved working with them, I would end up not being able to buy any more, so I should get them while they were available. Especially since they were so inexpensive.

I wasn't able to do anything with them this weekend, because I spent basically the entire weekend doing website work, and the part of the weekend that I wasn't doing that, I was doing laundry, or cooking. Well, except for the time when I was in the craft store, of course . . .

Anyway, my idea is to make little altars, or shrines, I guess, out of them. Paint them, or stain them, or maybe collage them, and fill them with little, interesting stuff. I don't know, I won't know until I start on it, I guess, but I've got a shoebox down in the basement full of collage elements--pictures cut out of magazines, and foreign stamps, and things like that. And seashells. And I have a box of paints, and somewhere there's a box of dollhouse furniture . . .

I'm not sure what I want to do yet, but it's so exciting to get that creative flow going again, and I was sad that I didn't have time to do anything about it. And I probably won't this week, either, but hopefully next weekend I can. I did spend some time last night looking through a couple of issues of Somerset Studio. The thing I have to keep reminding myself of constantly is that art doesn't have to have a "reason." I keep trying to justify it, saying that, well, I could make them for gifts, but that's not necessary--art exists for its own sake.

I guess it's just hard to justify spending time on something that seems so much like play, when there are other things that need to be done, like cleaning the house or doing laundry, or doing work that pays. I was talking to a friend about it last night, and he said that play isn't just a luxury, it's a necessity, particularly for creative types, and I know that's true.

I've been struggling with some mild depression for the past couple of weeks, but the time I spent prowling around the craft store and dreaming of what I might make from these little wooden boxes was almost euphoric. Or obsessive. There's that, too . . .

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Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Herbal animals

I got quite a few emails and comments asking about Thumper the Aromatherapy Rabbit, i.e., where I bought him and if I knew if they were still available. I've actually got two of the little guys--one brown and one gray.

I bought them several years ago, and I can't really remember where, but I think it was either Bed, Bath & Beyond, or Marshall's. I couldn't find the exact one online (mine are filled with lavender), but these are obviously the same product: Animal Shaped Eye Pillows. They're really well made, and are so soft. I've never really used mine for their intended purpose, as eye pillows--I just like to hold them. Their floppy bulk is very soothing.

And oh my gosh! I was just looking at their other products, and they have little nightshirts for them! How cute!

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Monday, March 14, 2005


So, since the sale was still on at the Penney's Outlet, we went back out there tonight and bought a new chair:

It was the same price as the other one, well, a few dollars more, but they had a matching ottoman, and with the discount it ended up being just a little over $100, which I think is a pretty good price. And it's comfortable! We put the other one in the living room.

I really did sort of hate to spend the money, but I did need a chair, and I spend almost all of my time at home either in that chair or in my computer chair, as does Bob in his office upstairs. And we bought him a new computer chair a couple of weeks ago. So we should be set for awhile.

He had kind of an unpleasant dental appointment today, so he didn't feel much like eating, but we ended up at Sweet Tomatoes so he could have a bowl of soup, and I had a big salad--our big night out. But it was fun. We do have a good time just hanging out together. So lucky.

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Sunday, March 13, 2005


Pyewacket seems to approve, too:

However, it really isn't comfortable for a human being, so we've decided to go buy what I had originally intended to buy--a comfy upholstered chair like my old one--tomorrow night. The sale is still on tomorrow. And we'll move this one to the living room, where we also need chairs.

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I went to the Penney's outlet store last weekend and bought some curtains for the bedroom. I had blinds and sheers on them, but they really didn't do much to block out the light in the mornings, and Bob had asked me to get something heavier. I found some in a dark plaid--navy blue and dark purple--that weren't too bad, so I bought four panels, and they look pretty good.

While I was there, I looked around at a bunch of other stuff; a lot of the stuff they have there is pretty crummy, but like any discount store, part of the appeal is in the search, and you can often find pretty nice things that are a real bargain. The springs in my chair broke a few months ago. The chair was still usable, but it wasn't really right, so I'd kind of been on the lookout for a new one.

They had some just exactly like mine, well, they had one in the same ivory as mine, and a bunch of them in kind of a pretty blue. They were $199, which was probably a pretty good price--I can't actually remember what I paid for the other one--but more than I wanted to pay without thinking about it a little more. Then there was a 25% off coupon in this morning's paper, so I rushed out to see if they were still there.

They were, but then I remembered a green glider I'd seen last time, and went over and looked at that, and it was only $99, which, with the 25% off, would make it $75, so I changed my mind and decided to get that one. I thought it would probably look better in the dining room corner than the upholstered one did; it's smaller, anyway.

Way smaller. Bob asked me, "Did you actually sit in this chair before you bought it?" Well, no, I didn't. It was displayed on an upper shelf, and the ones they were selling were in boxes, and I didn't feel like I could go find someone and ask them to get it down for me so I could sit in it, although, yes, I did think that I probably should. But I didn't. I bought it, and then left it there and came home until Bob got home, then we went back out and picked it up, and when we got home, he put it together for me.

It's . . . well, it's okay. It's not the most comfortable chair I've ever sat in, and it certainly isn't very roomy, but it will be fine, and someday I'll buy a better chair, and this one can be a side chair in the living room or something. But it's cute!

And Dinah apparently approves.

Last weekend I also bought daffodils in the grocery store--two bunches of them--because although mine had started blooming, I didn't really want to cut them. I enjoyed them all week. I should have bought some more today, but I didn't think of it. It was kind of a whirlwind weekend. In addition to the Penney's purchase, I went to T. J. Maxx and Marshall's, and bought a couple of rugs for the kitchen and bathroom, and a few little odds and ends like a frosted glass candle cup, and a pretty pink and green tea mug, just a few little pretty things that were a dollar or two each on the clearance table.

And I went to the bookstore, and the library, and the post office and bank, and washed the car, and went to the grocery store . . . I tried to go to the gym, but the weather was so nice that I was wearing sandals, and I didn't think to put any athletic shoes in the car. Good excuse, anyway.

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Sunday, March 06, 2005


Okay, so I know it's undoubtedly not really Spring, but it's definitely showing the signs. For some reason, this winter felt like it would never end, even though it wasn't particularly harsh. Just . . . I don't know. I really want it to be Spring. It feels like it today.

Bob was outside testing a depth finder in a trash can full of water, and I went to see how it was going, and it was so nice out that I got my gardening gloves and went out and trimmed a bunch of dead limbs out of my herb pots and picked up some leaves, and then just sat for awhile on the stoop, enjoying the air being warm enough that I didn't need to wear a jacket. Yesterday was nice, too--when I stopped at the gym in the middle of the afternoon and the girl at the desk asked me how I was, I said I was fine, and asked her how she was, and she said, "Fine, but wishing I was outdoors!"

The cats were sitting at the back door, watching us, and after awhile I went inside and got their harnesses and leashes and put them on, and took them out so they could enjoy the day, too.

Cats on leashes aren't exactly like dogs on leashes. You can't actually walk them, for one thing. The leashes are only really so they can't run away, or up a tree or something. You just (okay, I just -- I'm sure there are cats who behave more like dogs and will actually walk on a leash, but I've yet to see one) kind of stand there, and they poke around and stand and sniff the air, and the most action you'll get is they might chase a leaf or something.

Pyewacket got kind of bold and walked around the side of the house and rolled around on the driveway, and later she stretched and acted like she might climb a big tree, but she didn't. I'm sure she would if something was after her, but everything was pretty quiet. Bob went in and got me a big club--the handle to some kind of garden implement--to use if a dog tried to get them or something.

Then I made him hold the leashes while I went in to get the camera. This is the part that I always worry about--they inevitably go in different directions, so you're left in the middle, and of course, neither one of them will come when you tug on the leash.

We only stayed outside a little while; I decided to bring them in while Bob was out there so we could each grab one. Pye was mad, but I think Dinah was ready to come in.

A couple of people asked in the comments (which I now have!) whether I ever found out what was going on Thursday morning with the SWAT action on the highway. No, I never did. I checked the local newspaper's website several times that day and evening, but never did see anything about it. I suppose it will remain a mystery. Good story, anyway.

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Thursday, March 03, 2005

Drama on the highway

Okay, so I think I figured it out. I figured out a way to make an entry index page, with a list of entries, but as far as I can tell, there's no way to make "next" and "previous" links automatically (if anyone has done that or seen it anywhere, feel free to correct me). The list page isn't automatic, but it's fairly easy to create. I also managed to get rid of the obnoxious blue background image that was showing up when you viewed the site in Bloglines, but frankly, I have no idea what I did. Don't you love it when that happens? It's great to have fixed the current problem, but not knowing what did it makes it difficult to correct if it happens again . . .

If anyone has any difficulty subscribing, please let me know, because I've made some changes and I'm not totally sure that it's working right for new subscribers. Just me being obsessive, probably.

On another note, if anyone is interested in ordering from Adagio Tea, let me know and I'll email you a $5.00 off certificate.

I was driving along to work this morning, listening to The Hogfather, drinking a Diet Coke that I'd picked up at McDonald's on the way, minding my own business, obeying the speed limit, when I noticed a police car in the lane next to me. I slowed down a little, as you do, and drove on.

Then he flipped his lights on, and I saw another police car a few cars back do the same thing, and I started slowing down. I didn't think it had anything to do with me, but I always get out of the way when emergency vehicles are trying to get past, even though I've noticed that a lot of people don't do that anymore. I assumed that they were just wanting traffic to clear for them so they could go on through to some emergency, but it turned out that the emergency was right in front of me.

I pulled over as far left as I could get (I was in the lefthand lane, next to the barrier) and stopped, and the two police cars rushed past me and squealed to a stop in front of the van that was traveling ahead of me, boxing him in. Two more police cars squealed up, all the doors popped open, and eight policemen jumped out with assault rifles trained on the van.

For a few minutes, nothing happened. The police cars were ranged across all four lanes of the highway. They were about two car lengths in front of me, close enough that I was a little worried about what would happen if they started shooting.

A couple of minutes later, a couple of arms appeared out the driver's side window of the van. I couldn't hear any shouting, but I had the windows up. Pretty soon, the van door opened and a guy got out, his arms in the air. By this time, I've gotten the cell phone out of my purse and called Bob, and was excitedly reporting the events as they happened. The guy started backing up, his hands in the air -- I've got to assume that the police were telling him to back up, that they didn't want him to turn around. He backed up and backed up until they told him to stop, then they made him lie down in the middle of the highway and they handcuffed him.

Up until this point, most of them had their rifles trained on the guy, but a couple of them kept theirs on the van. Once they had him under control, they all focused on the van again, and this time a woman got out the passenger side door, hands in the air. They got her handcuffed, too, then checked out the van, which was apparently now empty. They got both people into police cars, moved the cars off to the side of the road, then one of the policemen got in the van and moved it off the road.

I wasn't sure whether to start driving or not -- I kind of expected one of the policemen to turn and motion the traffic on, but they totally ignored everything except what they were doing. They were very focused, which was good, I guess. Everyone, including me, eventually just kind of started driving slowly on, and no one stopped us. I called the office and told them that I was going to be a little late.

That's the most excitement I've had in the morning in awhile.

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Wednesday, March 02, 2005


Boy, this feels weird. I finally converted the Journal over to Blogger. The change should be fairly transparent, except that there is no longer any journal index page that lists the entries by date. Oh, it's possible I could figure out how to do it, but Blogger doesn't do it automatically anymore, and I haven't had time to look at it. There will be a list of "Recent Entries" in the sidebar that will list, I believe, the previous ten entries. If you want to go back and look at a list of entries, there's always the Archives.

Okay, though, now that I think about it, I'm going to have to figure out the entry list thing, since I have no idea what happens to the old entries once they drop off the "Recent Entries" list. I mean, of course they aren't deleted or anything, but I don't know how to get to them.

There also won't be "next" and "previous" links in each entry; I don't think there's any way to do that. If anyone knows, let me know, but as far as I can tell, that's not a supported feature. And Blogger works just fine for me, I'm not going to go to the trouble of installing any other tool on my server, or paying for anything -- let's not go crazy here!

I'll figure it out, I'm sure.

In any event, as always, if you notice anything weird or wonky, feel free to let me know.

In other news, well, there really isn't any. Bob got home yesterday, and we were all delighted to see him. It's always so weird when he isn't here. We're all cranky.

I loved my new little teapot so much that I ordered another one this morning so I could have one at work and at home. Other than that excitement, it's been pretty quiet.

Oh, since I finished The Memory of Running, I've been listening to the audio version of Terry Pratchett's Hogfather. It's sort of a Christmas book ("Hogwatch," actually), so I meant to listen to it during the Christmas season, but I didn't get to it. So I thought maybe I'd save it for next Christmas, but I ran out of stuff to listen to, and thought I'd try it, and it's wonderful.

I had read the book a few years ago and enjoyed it, so I knew I would like listening to it, and it really lends itself to audio. The narrator (Nigel Planer) is great.

I'm guessing that people either love Terry Pratchett or hate him. I find he does wear a bit thin sometimes, but I'm really enjoying this one.

The Hogfather is the Discworld's version of Santa Claus, and the ominous "Auditors" have decided that he needs to be eliminated ("inhumed" in Assassins Guild-speak). Of course, a mythic creature can't exactly be killed, except by ensuring that no one believes in him any longer . . .

So Death decides to take the Hogfather's place on Hogwatch Night, and, sticking a pillow underneath a new red robe, he takes off in the Hogfather's sledge (pulled by four giant pigs) and, with his assistant Albert, delivers Hogswatch cheer to all the good little boys and girls. ("Ho. Hoho.") Meanwhile, Death's adopted granddaughter, Susan, is working as a governess to two little children named Gawain and Twyla, whose previous governess was always telling them to be good or the monsters would get them, and she was so good at convincing them that the monsters were real, that they are real.

I especially loved Susan's discovery of the new catflap at Death's house, and the ever-refilling bowl of cream, along with Death's notes on how to effectively take the Hogfather's place. Never having been human, his efforts to come to grips with humanity are, actually, touching.

Quite a fun book. You know, if you like that sort of thing.

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