Sunday, June 29, 2008


I had a bit of a revelation just now. I mentioned awhile back that I've been working on prayer beads. I've made several sets, and I ordered some beads through the mail last week so that I could make more. But I'd been having trouble ending them -- if you don't make jewelry, this may not make sense, but the way that you keep strands of beads from coming apart is to use what's known as a crimp bead.

A crimp bead is a somewhat soft metal bead, either a round bead or a tube, and the theory is that you attach whatever you're going to attach, a bracelet fastener, say, put on a crimp bead, then smash the crimp bead so that it holds the wires in place. There's a special tool called a crimping tool, and you're supposed to use one part of the tool to crush the bead, then another part of it to fold the crushed bead in on itself so it becomes round rather than flat.

In the past, although I had the tool, I've just smashed the crimp beads with needlenose pliers. I knew they didn't look as good as they could, but I just wasn't very interested in learning how to do it differently. Then, a week or so ago, I got my daily email from Beading Daily (I'd link to the article itself, but you have to be a subscriber), and in it was a tutorial on using the crimping tool (turns out the procedure in the article was wrong, but in any event, it got me interested).

The article said:

I'll admit, when I first started beading I didn't want to buy yet another tool, especially if it was just for one purpose. So I just used chain-nose pliers and squished the crimps shut. I got so much razzing from my friends about it! My jewelry fell apart and my, oh, my . . . those unsightly little silver squares. I now know that using crimping pliers is the classiest way to finish this type of strung jewelry and certainly one of the most secure.

I practiced and practiced, and did it right a couple of times, but most of the time, I would break the bead trying to do the second step. I finally thought, well, I'll give it a try, and I went ahead and tried it with some of my prayer bead strings. When I made my first ones, I started with the tail, put on the decorative beads, then strung a crimp bead, then strung the circlet, passed the wire back through the crimp bead, and invariably broke it when I crimped it.

And there was no way back--the crimp had to be where it was, and it was right in the middle of all of the beads, so I had to start over. After stringing most of them two and three times, I got a few of the crimps to work, but it was oh, so aggravating.

Then just now I read this article, by Kimberly Winston, who wrote Bead One, Pray Too, which I have, and have read, but obviously not closely enough.

What she says to do is string the circlet, then bring the two ends of the wires together and string the "tail," and put the crimp bead right before the terminating bead, then pass the wire back up through the crimp. So -- this is the revelation -- if the crimp breaks, you would only have to remove one bead to fix it. And it would be less weight on the crimp, too. If I'd only read that sooner . . .

I'll talk more about these, and get them up in the Etsy shop later in the week, probably, after I fix the crimps. ;)

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Monday, June 23, 2008

Not really an explanation

Sometimes, when I write here, I'm able to pretend that no one else is reading this, that I'm just basically doing it for myself, as I've always said. I'm able to do that most of the time. But several things lately have made me question that, and I think I need to step back a little.

I've been doing this for about 13 years, and over the years my postings have become fewer and fewer. That's due to a lot of different reasons -- I'm busier than I used to be, for one thing, and for another, way back when I started, the internet was a lot smaller, and there weren't that many people out there who had access to it, and even fewer people that I actually knew.

I've always been really careful about what I say, careful not to mention names or talk about things that are too personal, either to me or to other people. Sometimes that gets really hard, both hard to do and hard on me emotionally. But there's really no alternative. It puts me in a really awkward position. I know that people have wondered why I'm not writing more, and most of the time it's just that I don't really have much to say (imagine that!) or that I just haven't had time or, if I have had time, I just couldn't get motivated, or had something I would rather do.

Anyway, a few things have happened lately that have made me question what I do here; I don't intend to stop writing altogether but I'm thinking that, at least for awhile, until I figure some things out, what I write here is going to be less personal. I know that's not really much of an explanation, but it's the best I can do.

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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Back to normal

I took Thursday and Friday off last week -- I needed a little break. Bob was still out of town on his annual fishing trip, and I took days off that week on purpose so that I could sleep late and have no responsibilities and no one else to worry about but myself.

I didn't really do anything major. I read several books, took myself out to lunch, shopped at a couple of bead stores, and made some jewelry. I also made some prayer beads. They aren't directed at any one particular religion, i.e., they're not rosaries, but I've used the Buddhist mala structure, just because I like the symmetry of it, and they're a good size to be portable. As soon as I take some pictures and write descriptions, I'll put them up here and also put some up in the shop.

I had intended to spend some time working with polymer clay, but I didn't. Mostly because it takes so much equipment! You wouldn't really think so, but for the kinds of things I like to make, I need stamps and ink and various kinds of tools, and to condition the clay, I use a pasta machine, and it's just a lot of stuff. When I'm doing beading, I can fill a bead board with beads and findings and sit down in front of the television and get a lot of things done. Working with clay is just a lot more labor intensive. It can certainly be rewarding, but I'm not at that point yet.

I went to lunch at a Mexican restaurant on Thursday, and that was nice. I took a book with me, and went late in the afternoon, and there was almost no one there. There was a table of what I assumed were new employees, tasting various dishes and learning about them. That was kind of interesting to listen to.

I stayed up late, and slept late, and it was a nice break. There weren't any phones where Bob was staying, and no cell phone towers, so he came into town a couple of times to call me. One night he called and asked what I was having for dinner, and I laughed and said tortilla chips and ice cream. (Not together.) He always says that things fall apart when he's gone, and that's kind of true.

I went out and saw my parents on Father's Day, and Bob came home that day, too, so everything is back to normal, or as normal as it ever gets around here.

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Sunday, June 08, 2008


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I watch almost no television anymore. The only time we ever really watch television downstairs (Bob has a television in his office, and he spends most of his evenings up there) is when we're eating. I guess that's bad -- we eat in front of the television -- by the dining table is usually covered with my craft stuff, bills, books, etc. I hate admitting that, but it's true.

Once in awhile we'll eat at the table, but probably no more than once or twice a month. Anyway, that's not way I mentioned television. There are a handful of shows that I'll watch if I come upon them when I scroll through the channels. There are a few sitcoms I'll watch. I like George Lopez, sometimes Home Improvement or an old Full House.

In general, I hate "reality tv." I can't imagine sitting down for an evening and watching people be humiliated or embarrass themselves; I'm embarrassed for them, actually. But there are two that I do watch: Jon and Kate Plus Eight, and What Not to Wear. What Not to Wear is sometimes hard for me to watch; I always feel awful for the women when they find out that their friends and families think their wardrobe is hideous.

Jon and Kate Plus Eight is about a young couple with eight children--twins and sextuplets, just a couple of years apart. I'm not sure why I like it, but I do. If I'm scrolling through the channels and land on it, I'll almost always watch it if I'm home by myself. Tonight I watched it while I ate dinner--a bowl of cheese ravioli--and it was the episode where they were going to fly to Chicago to be on Oprah.

Kate was packing their suitcases, and she told the kids to go get their "comfort item." I think that's how she put it. Two of the little kids had "chewies," cloth diapers that they chewed on, apparently. A couple of them had dolls, some had stuffed animals, one had one of those towels with an animal head on the corner. It was just interesting--she said that now that they had taken a few trips with the kids, everyone knew what to get when she said "go get your comfort thing."

People always talk about comfort food; I guess the ravioli tonight was my comfort food. Bob's away this week on his annual fishing trip, and I wandered through Target yesterday trying to figure out what I wanted to eat this weekend. I was thinking spaghetti, then when I went down the frozen food aisle, I thought, "Aha! Ravioli!" I really wanted Mexican food tonight, though, but I went by Chipotle and for some reason, they don't have any salsa. There's a sign up on the counter, something like, "Our apologies, but our tomato salsa is currently unavailable."

I didn't get close enough to read the sign, it doesn't really matter. Without salsa, what's the point? And I thought about going to a little Mexican place near our house, but I wasn't dressed very well--not that I would need to there, of course--and I just didn't feel like having someone wait on me, I guess, so I came home.

This weekend has been hard. I'm not sure why. Of course I miss Bob, but it's not like he's never gone away before. I tend to think it's biological--I don't know if it's hormonal, or chemical imbalance or what. Of course my job is stressful, and that's bothering me, and there are other things, but it's all just life, I guess. Just life.

I was thinking about comfort things--what are my comfort things? My comfort food, if I had to choose one, would probably be pasta. Macaroni and cheese or spaghetti (or ravioli!). As far as comfort "things," I don't know. I know that I always feels like I have to have a book with me, but that's more a feeling of not wanting to get caught somewhere and be bored. But there are certain books that are comforts to me. I think that's why I like series books--a comfortable set of characters doing more or less the same thing every time. I know that a lot of people would find that boring, but I find it, well, comforting.

Last week I finished the most recent "Sookie Stackhouse" mystery, "From Dead to Worse, by Charlaine Harris, and I'd listened to a couple of the earlier books on CD in the car over the last few weeks. I'd kind of forgotten how spunky the heroine is, how strong. Sookie is a waitress in a small Southern town, and she is a telepath, able to read minds, which makes her something of an outcast. She refers to it as her "disability."

In the world of these books, vampires and werewolves and shapeshifters are out in the open, and when Sookie meets a vampire, she realizes that she can't read his mind, and the silence is so wonderful that she starts dating him. Throughout the series she's dated other "supernaturals," but it's the vampires that she spends the most time with because with them, she doesn't feel so strange.

I also just finished listening to The Outlaw Demon Wails, by Kim Harrison. In this series, Rachel Morgan is a witch who works as a "runner," basically something like a private eye or bodyguard, depending on the circumstances. Her partners are a pixie (Jenks) with 54 children and a "living" vampire, her roommate Ivy.

I think, for me, when I finish reading a book that I especially like, I want to know more about the characters--I hate to let them go. A series allows the characters to grow and mature, and change. It's kind of like how people always think it's weird that Bob and I have been to Disney World so many times--I enjoy it, of course, but also, I kind of like knowing what's going to happen. I guess I don't like to be surprised.

Another series I've enjoyed for years is Elizabeth George's "Inspector Lynley" series. I just finished the most recent one -- Careless in Red. I actually didn't read the last one--in the one before that, Lynley's wife was murdered at the end of teh book, and the book after that was about the boy who shot her, and I didn't have any interest in that, really. I knew this book would be hard, and it was. Last night I was wondering if Barbara Havers--Lynley's old partner--would show up, and then this morning, there she was, waiting for the bathroom in the inn where he's staying, and where she has come to stay after being asked to help in an investigation, although not by him:

He returned to his humming as he toweled himself off. He was still humming, towel wrapped around his waist, when he opened the door.

And came face-to-face with DS Barbara Havers.

He said, "My God."

Haver said, "I've been called worse." She scratched her mop of badly cut and currently uncombed hair. "Are you always so chipper before breakfast, sir? Because if you are, this is the last time I'm sharing a bathroom with you."

He could, for the moment, do nothing but stare, so unprepared was he for the sight of his former partner. She was wearing floppy sky blue socks in lieu of slippers and she had on pink flannel pyjamas printed everywhere with the image of vinyl records, musical notes, and the phrase, "Love like yours is sure to come my way." She seemed to realise he was examining her getup because she said, "Oh. A gift from Winston," in apparent reference to it.

"Would that be the socks or the rest of it?"

"The rest. He saw this in a catalogue. He said he couldn't resist."

"I"ll need to speak to Sergeant Nkata about his impulse control."

She chuckled. "I knew you'd love them if you ever saw them."

"Havers, the word love does not do justice to my feelings."

She nodded at the bathroom. "You finished your morning whatevers in there?"

He stepped aside. "Have at it."


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Wednesday, June 04, 2008


Yesterday, late in the afternoon, it started to get dark and look like it might rain. I usually leave the office anywhere from 6:00 to 7:00; I'm not sure what time the storm started, but I think it was sometime around 6:30. I could have left then, but I wasn't quite ready to. Shortly thereafter, the storm started in earnest -- thunder and lightning and hail, and I wasn't going to go out in that.

So I waited. Kurt and I were the only ones left, everyone else had already gone. We stood at my office window and watched the storm, and saw lightning strike a building in the distance, which was kind of cool. A little after 7:00 there was a lull in the storm, and I took that opportunity to leave; I think I was tracking the storm, though, because it rained REALLY hard all the way home. I needed to mail something at the post office, and I needed to get a few things at the grocery store, but I was afraid it would start hailing again, so I went home.

I microwaved a potato for my dinner (Bob was working late), then went back out to the post office and Target. I don't think I've ever been at Target at 10:00 at night before -- that's when they close. So it was kind of a long day.

While I was eating, I had the television on to see what the weather was doing, and I saw that there was a big fire in Kansas City, Kansas in the industrial area; a tank full of some kind of fuel had been hit by lightning, and was burning. I wasn't sure where it was in relation to where the office is, but on the way to work this morning I saw the smoke. I held up my cellphone camera and took a couple of shots; they definitely aren't great picture, but you can see the extent of the fire. They had to close the downtown airport last night, but the news this morning said they weren't worried about the fire spreading to the other fuel tanks, and were going to let it burn itself out.

These are pictures of the polymer clay beads and pendants I made last weekend. They were supposed to be "faux bone," or ivory, but I didn't get the grain fine enough, and I think they look more like wood. I didn't really like them when I first made them, but now they're kind of growing on me.

Some random cat pictures:

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