Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Insect parts

Bob was off yesterday and today, so we took advantage of it and went out to dinner last night when I got home. We went to Jason's, and it was just nice to sit down at a table across from each other and talk. Afterwards, we took a little drive, and drove by the water retention basin to check on the swans. They weren't in the pond where we've normally seen them, but Bob had figured out that there is a tunnel underneath the street that leads to another pond on the other side, in an office park. So we drove by there, and there were four of them swimming around over there.

When we got home, Bob went upstairs to his office to watch Casino Royale, which he had rented earlier in the day. I put The Incredibles in my computer, and sat down at the table and made cell phone charms. I've been really enjoying making things with my beads, laying them out and figuring out what looks best together, what works and what doesn't. I made four of them--one with purple stones and beads, one with topaz colors, and one black, white and silver. And another turquoise dragonfly one for myself, because I loved it so much.

When I was ordering charms the other night, I noticed that I was ordering a lot of insect parts. I got the shipping confirmations last night, and yup, a lot of insect parts:

2 Acorn Antique Pewter Charm
2 Fancy Fly Antique Pewter Charm
4 Fly Charm
1 Flying Cicada Antique Pewter Charm
2 Leaf Antique Pewter Charm
2 Mini Spiral Goddess Antique Pewter Charm
2 Pine Cone Antique Pewter Charm
2 Spiral Goddess Antique Pewter Charm

Also pinecones and leaves and acorns.

2 Pewter Dragonfly WIngs
1 Pewter Small Honeybee
2 Pewter Spiral Butterfly
1 Thai Hill Tribe Silver Bee
1 Thai Hill Tribe Silver Heart

A lot of natural stuff. I like sparkly things, too, but I'm mostly attracted to things that are (or look) organic. Almost everything I've been making lately is antique silver, with polished stones, and when I use glass or plastic beads, they're mostly pretty organic looking, too. Anyway, I'm having a lot of fun with it. I'm going to have to order a bunch more dragonfly wings, I really love them.

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Sunday, March 25, 2007


I know it's no surprise that I tend to obsess about stuff, and to get excited about making things and buy a lot of supplies that I may or may not ever actually use. I've got a big box in the basement filled with wonderful rubberstamps, and a box of ephemera and origami paper for collage, and that's not even considering the yarn . . . Oh yeah, and the soap and the polymer clay . . .

So I could be doing that with the beading, too, but these stitch markers had only been up for sale for two days, I think, before I got a wholesale order! Not a huge one or anything (thank goodness, actually, because right now I'm just buying supplies retail), but significant enough that it makes me think I might be able to actually make some money at it. One of our friends (Kelly, who goes to Mexico with us) sells a lot of stuff that she makes on consignment and at craft fairs, so I know that it can be done.

I was ordering some supplies online the other night, and when I checked out, I saw that I had been charged sales tax. I thought, that's odd, they must be located in Kansas somewhere. I went back to the site (Auntie's Beads), and discovered that not only are they in Kansas, they're here in town! So yesterday I went there and spent a really fun hour or so looking at everything they had. I didn't buy very much, but I got a good idea of the things that they carry so I'll know where I can go when I need to.

There's also another bead store here in town (Heartland Bead Market), and I went there, too, and did basically the same thing--looked at absolutely everything. It was a fun day. Today I actually made a couple of things:

These are cell phone charms--they attach to the little loop that most cell phones have. I have several and switch them out periodically. It's something that isn't widely used, or known, I guess, but I always get compliments on mine, so I figured maybe it's something that other people would enjoy. I need to figure out how to take better pictures of them, though.

It's Spring! We've had the windows open all weekend, and the kitties are enjoying the outside air.

After I took that picture I went out and took a picture of the pear tree that's blooming in our front yard. Bradford pears are a pain, because the trees are brittle and prone to break in big stores, but they're all up and down our street, and when they're in bloom, it's breathtaking.

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Monday, March 19, 2007


This weekend Bob was out of town -- he got two days off in a row and drove down to the lake to spend a couple of days fishing with his friends.

So I did something I've been wanting to do for a long time: I made jewelry. It's something I've always been interested in, but I had never tried it because I was afraid I wouldn't be any good at it. But I finally realized that if I never tried, I'd never know, so I did the the circuit of the local craft stores--Joann, Michael's, Hobby Lobby--and looked at absolutely everything.

What I really wanted to buy was sterling silver wire and pins, and real stone beads, but I was smart and bought a bunch of inexpensive stuff to practice on, because I knew I wouldn't get it right the first time. I only ruined about half a dozen pins, I think, before I got the hang of turning them. They still aren't perfect--far from it--but at least now I know I can do it, and I'll get better with practice.

They're not really my style, more "dressy" than I normally wear, so I put them up in my Etsy shop. That still feels kind of weird, but I sold a couple of sets of stitch markers, which felt really good, so I figured, why not? It's interesting--I make a living making things--websites--but I think this is the first time I've ever sold anything physical that I made with my hands. It feels different. Nice.

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Thursday, March 15, 2007

Daffodils & stripey socks

Spring is really moving in, although, as is usual here, warm days alternate with cool days. It was probably in the high 70s yesterday, and today is going to be in the 50s. I remembered to go out and check the daffodils this morning; I wanted to cut them if they had bloomed, in case we get another freeze. They're planted close to the house, so the soil there stays warmer than it would out further in the yard, and they always bloom early and almost always get frozen.

They were blooming, so I cut five of them and brough them in to work for my desk. I left a few out there. I can't really have them in the house because the cats mess with them and usually end up turning the vase over, and since it's Thursday, I'll only have today and tomorrow to enjoy them at work. But anyway, they smell wonderful, and I love having flowers on my desk. I need to try to remember to buy them sometimes, they really do make me happy. Bob buys me single roses or carnations every once in awhile, and it's always wonderful to get them.

While I was taking the picture of the flowers in my office, I also took a picture of the cute little table I have, with a little pewter lamp that my sister gave me for Christmas (actually she probably gave it to Bob and me, but I confiscated it for myself). And the picture of Dinah and Pye in the dryer, and a little bird tealight holder that I got at the dollar store.

I'm catching up on my sock knitting this year after a shaky start. I had started a sock out of a Trekking ombre yarn, and that's what I took with me to Mexico, but I didn't do much work on it. I did finish it, but the yarn was splitty and difficult to work with. After I finished it, I started another one with an Opal limited edition yarn (meaning it's not a regular item, just a one-off), and I've been loving it. I finished the first one, and started the second, and I never do that--I never do them one right after the other, I'm always so bored that I move on to a different yarn and come back to do the second one later.

I'm not sure why I loved this yarn so much, but I do.

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Tuesday, March 13, 2007


The night before last, I had a terrible time sleeping. I had probably had too much caffeine, and the time change always messes me up a little, and my legs have been hurting at night. I kept waking up and trying to find a comfortable position, and I know I was tossing and turning and keeping Bob awake.

So last night when I went to bed, I went into the bathroom to take a couple of ibuprofen, then decided at the last minute to take Tylenol PM (or something similar). And it did knock me out. I don't remember waking up at all; I do remember having lots of dreams, none of which I can remember. Or, only one: I dreamt that Bob had given the cats the wrong cat food. Tragedy ensues!

Not really. But we are having to feed them differently now. Dinah apparently has a high urinary pH, which causes crystals to form (in her bladder, I guess), which is painful (no surprise there!) and causes blood in her urine, which also (apparently) causes her to pee on the sofa (which, after the first time, is covered with trashbags and a plastic tablecloth liner). So the vet said to feed her . . . I think he said Science Diet, but what they were holding for me was actually Hills Prescription Diet C/D. Not sure if those are the same things or not.

Anyway, I asked him if I could feed it to both of the cats, and he said no, that if Pye's pH was normal and she ate that food, it could make her pH too low.

So they only get to eat when we're there to supervise them. I put a bowl of Dinah's food in the dining room on her placemat, and a bowl of Pye's food in the kitchen on her placemat, then stand guard between them. When they're finished, and one of them walks away from the food, I pick it up and put it on top of the refrigerator. They seem to like the different kinds of food equally, or maybe they're just really hungry.

I thought it would be difficult, but it really hasn't been too bad. They're figuring out that if they don't eat when I give it to them, they won't have another chance until I get home at night. I expect both of them to lose a little weight, which wouldn't hurt.

I sort of got sidetracked there. The whole point of the story was that I took the nighttime pain reliever, and could hardly wake up this morning. It's weird anyway, because when my alarm goes off at 6:30, I (and my body) know that it's only 5:30. It's still dark out, for one thing.

I went through most of the day feeling slightly drugged, but it was a fairly easy day, so it was fine. I just felt like I do when I'm taking cold medicine, just kind of foggy and out of it.

Bob said I shouldn't take two capsules, to try just one, so I might do that tonight.

In other news, it's Spring!

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Sunday, March 11, 2007


I went to T. J. Maxx yesterday and wandered around; I didn't have anything in particular in mind, but I always like looking through their houseware and decorative stuff, and sometimes I find a bargain. This is what I found yesterday:

It was $5.00, I assume because there should have been a third drawer, and one of the other ones was broken, but it was pretty easy to fix, and I don't think it really looks like it's missing a drawer. The open spot could just be a little shelf. I don't know right now what I'm going to put in it, but for $5.00 I couldn't resist it.

I also bought this exceptionally cool mirror:

I'd been wanting a mirror for my office at work; I'm not exactly sure why, but I just felt like it needed one. Probably some unconscious feng shui thing. Anyway, this one was on the clearance table, too, for $10.00, so I bought it. I love the little doors. The color is a very pale blue.

Every time I buy things like these -- with the paint scraped off in places -- what did they used to call it? I can't remember. Antiqued, yes, but it seems like there was something else . . . Anyway, I always think of my parents. My mother loved to refinish furniture, and went through a spell of antiquing things, and sometimes she'd beat them up a little, and rub stain into the cracks, and then paint it, and rub the paint off . . . techniques that made a new piece of furniture look old, like it had some history.

My dad thought that was crazy. Why would you buy a new piece of furniture and then do things to it to make it look old? I'm not really sure why, either, but I know that I like it. Maybe because it does look like it has some history, or could have, even if it doesn't really. That's not to say that I don't love soulless, plastic, mass-produced stuff, too, because I do. I just love both kinds of things.

This morning I spent a couple of hours photographing the knitting stitch markers that I've made, and stocking my Etsy shop. I have a couple of sets of markers made with old plastic ivory-colored beads -- I bought an old bracelet somewhere and took it apart for the beads. I love taking something old and making it into something new, or even something that just looks old.

And today I also got to watch two of my favorite movies, Men in Black, and School of Rock. I have simple tastes.

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Saturday, March 03, 2007

Beauty shots

I took some photos of Pyewacket last night that I thought turned out to be pretty interesting. She was lying in my (dark green) chair, sleeping, and the lamplight was just right, I guess. They turned out kind of dramatic. (Click each one for a larger version, if you wish.)

And one with the flash:

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Friday, March 02, 2007

Same as the old boss

For the last few months, every time I went to Blogger to write a new blog entry, I would be presented with the opportunity to switch my blogs to the New! Beta! Version! I just kept saying "no, thanks," and using the old version. One of the things that I have finally figured out in my life is that new isn't always better, and that sometimes it pays to not upgrade, at least for a little while, at least until someone else has figured out all the bugs.

I kept reading about other people's experiences with the new Blogger, and while I didn't read of any outright disasters, I did read of people having things turn out sort of weird, and I felt like I just didn't have time to deal with it.

In addition to the blogs of my own, there are a few that I maintain for clients. I don't write the entries, but I set them up, and I'm available for technical support or problems. These clients would come to me and say that they'd been asked to upgrade Blogger, and should they, and I would always tell them that I didn't see any reason to, and that, in my opinion, they should stick with the known quantity and wait it out.

One day last week one of my clients asked me to help her post a picture on her blog, so I went to Blogger and signed in as her, and posted the picture. The next day I opened up Blogger and signed in as myself, or tried to sign in -- there were two options open to me. One was to proceed to the new Blogger and have all of my blogs converted. Two was to proceed as usual and go to the "old" Blogger, but there was a warning: "You can only do this once!" Ah, I thought. The end is near.

I went ahead and used the "old" Blogger, and was hopeful that as long as I didn't sign out, everything could proceed as normal. Which it did until yesterday, when I no longer had any choices. They were going to force me to convert everything over. So I took a deep breath and clicked "okay."

It was very scary. It was one of those "oh shit" moments when there's nothing you can do except cross your fingers and hold your breath.* Over the past couple of years I had converted all of my sites over to Blogger-based entries. I felt like I had control over them, since I was keeping everything on servers that I controlled rather than being on someone else's (I remember that tragic story of the journal/diary site that had a server crash, had no backups, and ended up losing all of their users' entries--years of them--and eventually closing down and slipping off into the night . . .

Anyway, there's really no dramatic ending here. I have about a dozen "blogs," not all of which are full-blown sites. For instance, the jounal index page is a blog, the journal sidebar is a blog, the journal entries themselves are a blog, etc. But even so, there were a lot of entries. The progress graphic on the conversion page just kept spinning and spinning, and finally said something like, "if you have a large blog, this may take awhile." No kidding. It finally just gave up and said that since it was taking so long, they would just email me when it was finished (never got that email).

I left the window open, and when I went back later there was a note there something to the effect of, "There was template errors, please correct them." I wish I'd taken a screenshot. The grammatical error here is on purpose--I can't remember what the Blogger message was exactly, but there was something grammatically weird about it that surprised me, the kind of thing you see on the emails that purport to come from eBay or Paypal or your bank, but contain so many errors that you'd be a fool to actually believe them. No one's perfect, but when an email asks me to "take a few minutes out of your online experience," I'm pretty sure that's one I can delete.

With no indication which of my templates had (as they say) errors, there wasn't really much I could do, save combing through every one of them, and I have no desire (nor time) to do that right now.

On a cursory examination, everything looks pretty much okay. Nothing blew up, as far as I know nothing disappeared.

I was reminded of all this when I opened up Bloglines this morning and it reported that I'd written about 50 new entries yesterday. Like that's going to happen.

Which reminds me of an old story that I told someone at the office yesterday. I asked him to do something--a change throughout an entire, large, site--and I said I would be hesitant to do a "search and replace." He said that he wouldn't do that, he'd go through and make the changes manually. I asked him if Homesite allows you to "undo" a search and replace, and he said only if the documents that were changed had been open, that if it goes through and changes things and automatically saves them, there's no going back. (I use BBEdit on the Mac, and you can undo search and replace, so it isn't quite as scary, although still scary.

Anyway, the story was about my first web design job. I never met the guy, but there was an apocryphal story about someone who did a wholesale search and replace on a site that he had just finished -- something like replacing every dash with a space, or something like that, that couldn't really be recovered from. He realized after he's started it that it wasn't going to have the desired effect, and there was nothing he could do, and ended up lying on the floor of the programming room, catatonic.

And then there was the other guy who realized a moment too late that his search and replace was going to destroy the whole site, and, in a burst of brilliance, pulled the cord out of the wall. I don't actually remember how that one ended up . . .

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Thursday, March 01, 2007

Happy March

Even though I know that Spring is still three weeks away, the first of March always makes me think that Spring is coming. In addition to "Willa Time" (my alarm clock is always set nine minutes ahead of the actual time), there's, I don't know -- the "Willa Year," maybe, in which Winter is December/January/February, Spring is March/April/May, Summer is June/July/August and Autumn is September/October/November. It just makes sense to me.

It was apparently 71 degrees out yesterday, or at least that's what Bob told me this morning. I wouldn't know, since I didn't leave the basement. But today it must be in the 30s, and we were having snow flurries this morning. I went out at noon and took a quick walk down the block to the mailbox, and it was so windy that it felt like the middle of winter. Which I guess, technically, it still is.

Not much of any import going on around here lately. Both Bob and I have been working a lot; but it's interesting--the times that we are home together have become a little more precious, since they're so much more rare. We've actually sat down at the dining table and eaten dinner together a couple of nights recently, and sat down together and watched television. There have been a few nights when we haven't seen each other at all--he sometimes comes home after I'm already asleep. Pyewacket has taken to sitting on my lap in the evenings, something she almost never does, and Dinah is, if anything, more affectionate and clingy than usual.

I guess we're all kind of finding our way in changing circumstances.

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